Tag: ginger

What is Polymyalgia rheumatica? Can herbs help?

pmrgcaWhat is Polymyalgia rheumatica?

Polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR) is an inflammatory condition, often linked to Giant Cell Arteritis (GCA). The condition occurs mainly in women over 60, and the cause is not known.

Symptoms include muscle aches, stiffness in hips, shoulders, neck and mid body, weakness, general tiredness, and weight loss. Some people get swelling in their feet, ankles, wrists and hands. (Vasculitis UK)

PMR is becoming increasingly common, with an estimated 1 in 1,200 people developing the condition each year.

How is it treated?

The standard medical treatment for PMR is steroids, usually prednisolone, to relieve the symptoms. The NHS state that high dose steroids are used to start with and then the dose is decreased, and treatments can last for two years or more to prevent symptoms reoccurring. (NHS website)

Are there alternative treatments?

There are three main aims to alternative treatments.

  1. Reduce the side effects of the drugs

The following are the main side effects that patients of mine have experiences from taking prednisolone.

  • Higher blood sugar
  • Weight gain
  • Sleeplessness
  • Osteoporosis
  • Cataracts
  • Thinning of skin
  • Bruising

While these things can be addressed individually through a 1 to 1 consultation with a medical herbalist, here are some ideas for home treatment.

Herbs for side effects

Digestion

Meadowsweet
Meadowsweet

There are many very safe herbs to aid digestion and protect from damage the delicate tissues that are prone to ulcers. Examples are peppermint, chamomile, meadowsweet and marshmallow leaf.

Balancing blood sugar

There are several safe herbs that can be used to naturally bring blood sugar into balance. Examples are cinnamon and dandelion leaf.

Aiding sleep

There are several safe herbs that can be used to aid a good night’s sleep. Examples are chamomile, lime flower, passion flower and valerian.

Improving circulation

There are many herbs that can improve circulation. Examples include ginger, chilli, hawthorn and lime flower. Brightly coloured fruits and vegetables can also help to improve the functioning of arteries and veins.

Increasing cortisol

Often when taking steroid drugs for long periods of time the adrenal glands can stop producing cortisol. Cortisol is needed to fight infection and allow the body to cope with stress.

When you stop taking steroid drugs your adrenal glands can begin making cortisol again but it can often take time. There are a couple of things you can do to help, cortisol needs cholesterol so eating fats in your diet will help, cod liver oil and vitamin A is also important. It’s also important to reduce sugar, caffeine and alcohol.

 

  1. Reduce general inflammation to reduce pain

rose hipsThis is something that you can address yourself if you have PMR, there are some very useful studies on the use of herbs to reduce inflammation.

Arthritis Research UK lists the three main herbs for reducing inflammation as Devil’s claw, Frankincense, and Rosehip.

I agree with them, and these herbs are available as over the counter products, it is important to follow the directions for each individual product as directed on the bottle.

I would also add turmeric to the list, it is a very useful anti-inflammatory and is also available as an over the counter product.

 

  1. Get to the root cause of the problem

The key to a holistic treatment is treating the cause of the problem rather than just the symptoms; this is something you can work towards with a medical herbalist.

 

Remember to check with your doctor and/or medical herbalist before taking supplements or herbs, and it is important to source good quality ingredients.

To find a qualified, registered, medical herbalist near you they can be found on the following lists:

 


As an update to this blog, I actually gave a talk for a local branch of Polymyalgia Rheumatica & Giant Cell Arteritis UK and that really gave me a much greater understanding of the condition and the problems patients were facing.

The main thing I really took away from that was that people wanted help to reduce their medications, and almost every person in the room was already taking turmeric. I explained about how it is often not bioavailable in the body and ways to increase that (adding black pepper and or ginger).

 

Herbal Medicine Research blog – September 2016

It’s been a little while since I’ve written a research blog but here are some research articles that have interested me recently.

1. A new trial is currently taking place in Australia, where young adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are being given water hyssop (Bacopa monnieri) instead of pharmaceutical drugs.

2. A follow up study in Brazil has confirmed that using Calendula can both prevent and treat radio dermatitis for patients undergoing radiotherapy.

mistletoe3. A new analysis of mistletoe has shown that it could be used to treat arthritis and liver disease as well as to reduce blood pressure and reduce tumour growth.

4. Ginger and artichoke have been found recently to increase gastric motility, in the treatment of functional dyspepsia.

5. New research has confirmed the link between exercise and improved cognition and mood.

6. Onion juice has been found to lower cholesterol in a new study.

7. A new study in China has shown that medicinal mushrooms have a direct action on reducing cancer cells, rather than simply boosting the immune system to fight cancer.

8. Seaweed could be the answer to reducing obesity, a new study has shown as seaweeds change processes in the gastrointestinal tract.

Herbal remedies for children – new distance learning course

ice lolliesWould you like to know more about treating children with herbs?

If you enjoyed my blog on herbs for children, you might be interested to know I have now written a herbal remedies for children distance learning course!

As with all of my distance learning courses you will be emailed the course material to work through (although in this particular module there is no quiz or test at the end).

You will also receive a herbal goody box containing herbs specific for children, as well as jars, bottles and sundries needed to make the herbal remedies in the module.

What does the course cover?

  • Safety – when to give herbs and when not to
  • Dosages and how they are different for children
  • Herbal preparations for children – from sweets to ice lollies
  • A developing immune system – when to boost immunity
  • Herbs for babies – colic to nappy rash
  • Herbs for toddlers – coughs and colds
  • Herbs for infants – eczema and ear infections
  • Herbs for primary age – conjunctivitis and diarrhoea and vomiting
  • Herbs at 11+ – tonsillitis and acne
  • Plus lots of tips and recipes to use at home

How much does the course cost?

£50

 

Who can complete the course?

Anyone with an interest in herbs and health. There is no prerequisite for this course.

For more information please get in touch.

 

To book click here.

 

 

Are herbs suitable for children?

This is a question that I get asked quite a lot so I thought I would write about a few herbal remedies for children.

So are herbs suitable for children?

The easy answer is yes, but with all things there should be an element of caution. If you are ever unsure whether herbs are appropriate, please speak to your local herbalist. If a child is undergoing treatment for a medical condition, it is important to get advice from a herbalist before starting home treatment.

Matricaria recutita
Matricaria recutita

The most common condition that I get asked about is eczema, and that really deserves a whole blog of it’s own (which I will be writing shortly). But here are a few tips to try before considering going to see a herbalist for treatment.

1. Eczema in children is often linked to dairy intake, in particular cow’s milk. Try switching to a goat milk for a period of a few weeks and see if there’s an improvement. Don’t be tempted to switch to soy milk, this can have the same effect as cow’s milk.

2. To reduce the itch, try chamomile and oat baths. Fill an old sock with oats and a handful of chamomile flowers (if you don’t have these you can use chamomile tea bags (6 should do it)). Tie the old sock over the hot tap of the bath so that the water runs through it. When the bath is full squeeze the excess water out of the sock (you should get a lovely foamy, creamy liquid come out).

3. Ensure that the eczema gets air to it and is allowed to dry out, try to ensure it’s not scratched (I know this can be difficult). A cold (used) chamomile tea bag can be applied to particular hot areas of eczema to provide relief (remember to dry the area well afterwards).

 

Another question I get asked is, how can I get my child to take herbs?

And this doesn’t just go for children, there are plenty of my adult patients who don’t like the taste of herbs! Here is my recipe for cold and flu fighting lollies.

 

ice lolliesCold and flu fighting ice lollies

Getting children to take any form of medicine can be challenging but immune boosting ice lollies always go down well.

Based on 900ml worth of lolly mix making 6 lollies (adjust accordingly if your lolly mould is smaller).

You can use a ginger syrup or tincture if you have it (2tsp to the mix), or 15g of grated ginger (about a thumb size piece).

1tsp lemon juice

Add in 6ml of Echinacea tincture (for ages 6+ only) – Optional

Add in 200ml of elderflower infusion (2tsp to 1 cup of water) with 2 tsp of honey dissolved in it.

Add 690ml of fruit juice of your choice.

Mix together and pour into the lolly moulds, once frozen two lollies can be given a day to treat a cold in a child of 6+ (up to four daily if over 10yrs or no Echinacea in the mix).

(These can also be used for adults who won’t take medicine in a liquid form, double the amount of Echinacea and elderflower and reduce the amount of fruit juice).

 

teddy bearWhat about helping children to sleep?

Children respond very well to herbal baths, so why not try some lavender flowers, chamomile flowers, and oats. You can use the old sock trick described above. This can help children relax before bed.

Another excellent remedy for children who struggle with getting to sleep, try a small amount of cold chamomile tea. Add to fruit juice or a hot drink to disguise the taste, and have at the last drink time before bed.

For more information about children’s remedies I thoroughly recommend Aviva Romm’s website. She is a herbalist and doctor and has some excellent tips and recipes. http://avivaromm.com/

 

What is medical herbalism?

After reading an excellent blog by Lynda Jones, a fellow medical herbalist, she gave me kind permission to make some changes to it. Click here to see the original blog.

 

Herb robert
Herb robert

“If I wasn’t a Medical Herbalist I’d be really confused about the difference between a Medical Herbalist and someone who knows lots about herbs.  Many people know about the healing properties of herbs and how to use them for simple, self limiting complaints.  Some GPs, pharmacists, health food shop assistants, gardeners, amateur experts, avid readers and those who have undertaken short term study all might have a sound understanding of herbs and their individual actions in the body.  Most people with a knowledge of herbs can tell you that Echinacea is good for helping the immune system deal with colds, that Elderflowers are anti-catarrhal and therefore help with hayfever and the sniffles, and that Garlic has a reputation for helping just about everything ;o) ! It’s pretty common knowledge among many that Sage is used to rub on stings, that Thyme tea might help coughs and Chamomile is calming and restoring to the digestive system.”

I hold workshops, distance learning courses, and herb walks to make sure we all know what herbs to pick from the wild, our gardens and the kitchen to use for simple, self limiting complaints. I also have some free downloads that cover simple remedies, herbal cosmetics, and much more.

Why the need for a Medical Herbalist?

“I’m all for people using ‘herbal first aid’ and trying simple remedies to see if that might help.  In fact, if I think that’s all that’s necessary I’m likely to suggest you try it before booking an appointment.  However, herbal medicine really comes into its own for more complex, long standing and difficult conditions.”

What makes a qualified Medical Herbalist different?

“We study for 4 years, and have a Bachelor of Science degree.  It is compulsory to undertake 500 hours supervised clinical training and be able to assess the patient medically as well as holistically. It’s vital to have medical as well as traditional knowledge, as primary health care professionals we need to be able to spot any danger signs of serious undiagnosed conditions and refer on where necessary.”

Meadowsweet
Meadowsweet

What happens in a consultation?

Initial consultations last approximately an hour and will cover not only the problem that you have come with, but also your past medical history, diet and general health. I will carry out a physical examination if appropriate (blood pressure and pulse will always be taken) and formulate individual herbal medicines for your needs. I may also refer you to other practitioners, including your GP, if appropriate.

The key difference when you go to see a medical herbalist instead of buying herbs from a health food shop is the individual prescription that is tailored to you. As each person is different, so too is every medicine made. A medical herbalist may have a dispensary of hundreds of herbs to choose from and combine together, whereas a health food shop only has a handful.

 

If you’re unsure about a herb or something you have read or heard about herbal medicine, please get in touch.

Homemade Winter Remedies

forage1 - Green city

Homemade Winter Remedies blog featured on Green City Events.

“Here are Laura’s top tips (and two recipes) to beat those winter sniffles…

Garlic

Garlic is well studied for its antibacterial, antiviral and antibiotic properties. It has been my experience when taking garlic that it has shortened the length of the duration of the cold. You can of course add more garlic to your food to get those effects but it is better as raw as you can stand it.

Garlic and onion syrup recipe

1 bulb of garlic (peeled and thinly sliced)
1 large white onion (peeled and thinly sliced)
Sugar or honey to cover
A jam jar or sealable container

Take onion and garlic, peel them and slice them thinly. Place a layer of the slice onion and garlic in the jam jar and then cover with sugar or honey. Add another layer of sliced onion and garlic and continue until you have used all of the onion and garlic. Seal the jar and leave in the fridge overnight. The next day you will have an onion and garlic syrup. You can use that as a cold and flu treatment, it is especially good for coughs. The syrup will last for three days in the fridge. Take 4-5 tsp per day until you feel better (I recommend holding your nose while you drink it!).”

Read more …

Herbal medicine and health research – September 2014

In September the following research on herbs and health has caught my eye.

health-benefits-of-pomegranate1. A new report in the USA has highlighted the need for doctors to have better education in nutrition.

2. A recent study found that bayberry reduced inflammation in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

 

 

3. A review of the research on honey has shown that its use is growing in a clinical setting as an antimicrobial agent.

Ginger
Ginger

4. A recent study in the USA has found that the practice of mindfulness can be used to treat migraine.

5. Ginger supplements were found to be effective in helping diabetic patients maintain blood sugar levels.

Herbal medicine and health research in August 14

In August the following research on herbs and health has caught my eye.

garlic1. A laboratory study of garlic showed that it inhibited the growth of dental plaque bacteria, even at a low strengths.

2. A laboratory study looking at ginger and it’s anti cancer properties found that the whole ginger compounds were more effective than ones made into synthetic extracts.

3. A laboratory study found that ashwagandha had neuroprotective effects against HIV induced neuropathogenisis.

4. A new UK study on IBS and chronic constipation have stated that a gluten free diet may be beneficial to some IBS suffers and probiotics are recommended.

5. New pharmacological tests have shown that taking ibuprofen and aspirin together can make the aspirin ineffective.

hypericum_perforatum

6. A new study found that athlete’s taking beetroot had improved performance.

7. A new study in the US has found that St John’s Wort is more cost effective and therefore a valid option instead of generic antidepressants.

Monthly research blog – Herbal medicine and health research stories in January 14

This month the following research on herbs and health has caught my eye.

Hawthorn1. A new laboratory study has found that an extract from hawthorn berries reduced breast cancer tumours.

2. Vitamin E has been shown to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s according to the Alzheimer’s research centre in New York.

3. A new study has shown that people who are suffering from depression have lower levels of zinc in their blood and supplementation (or dietary changes) can make a significant      difference.

4. A new study has shown that red clover significantly reduced hot flushes in menopausal women.

5. Tulsi (holy basil) has been found to contain anti cancer chemicals.

cocoa_fruits_1761197b6. Cocoa has been found to have anti cancer chemicals as well as cancer preventing chemicals.

7. Cognitive behavioural therapy is now being used to help people with health anxiety (also known as hypochondriasis).

8. A new study has found that babies who took probiotics in the first three months of their lives did not develop colic.

9. A new study involving mistletoe found that its use alongside orthodox treatments increased the survival rates of patients with pancreatic cancer.

10. Gout is on the increase and while there are new drugs being developed, the main advice is dietary and lifestyle changes.

Ginger
Ginger

11. A new study of ginger and turmeric has shown effectiveness in treating rheumatoid arthritis.

12. Ashwaganda has been shown in a new study to reduce the tiredness felt after chemotherapy.

13. A new study from the USA has shown that the traditional remedy of sage for hot flushes is accurate.

Herbal medicine research blog – December 13

This month the following research on herbs and health has caught my eye.

1. A new study at Harvard Medical centre has shown that mindfulness meditation has increased brain functioning in patients with Alzheimer’s.

meditation2. A new scientific study found that nettle helped control the blood sugar of patients with type 2 diabetes.

3. Doctors in the USA are using new online tools to assess whether herbs should be recommended to their cancer patients alongside their orthodox treatment.

4. A new scientific study in the USA has found that women who took multivitamins with minerals and then developed breast cancer had a better survival rate.

5. A new laboratory study of turmeric has shown that it could be used to manufacture new antibiotics against MRSA.

Ginger
Ginger

6. Herbal constituents in ginger have been found in a laboratory study to inhibit the growth of prostate cancer cells.