Tag: peppermint

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 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.

 

 

Herbs and Health Research blog – April 15

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

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)

1. A new research study has confirmed that the traditional use of using feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) to treat migraines works when applied in a modern clinical setting.

2. A recent study regarding the treatment androgenetic alopecia (often know as male-pattern baldness) found that rosemary oil worked as well as the drug minoxidil.

3. A new set of studies in the USA has found that an extract of Ginkgo reduced anxiety and depression in patients.

4. A cream containing lavender, peppermint, black pepper and marjoram essential oils was found to relieve neck pain in patients in a study in Taiwan.

hypericum_perforatum

5. The medicinal mushroom Ganoderma lucidum has been studied recently for its powerful anti-inflammatory actions and if those effects could be isolated and made into a new drug.

6. A new research study in Switzerland has linked anti-depressant use to seizures.

7. A new study in China has found that St John’s wort is effective at reducing menopausal symptoms.

 

Natural cosmetics workshop – I was right about the chocolate orange lip balm

After setting off for The Whitchurch Clinic I realised that I had packed what seemed like half of my kitchen cupboards worth of bowls and spoons!

Natural cosmetics workshop
Natural cosmetics workshop

The workshop began with a talk about natural cosmetics in general and where different ingredients come from and what they’ve been used for traditionally and today. We looked at all of the ingredients and had a good feel and smell of everything (a very important part of natural cosmetics making, and good fun too).

We started off by making two types of lip balms, peppermint and lemon balm, to protect against cold sores and chocolate orange (with real dark chocolate). While those were melting we went on to make face mask powder from clays and various grains and seeds.

Unfortunately we didn’t have enough time in the workshop to make bath bombs but I did give out my favourite bath bomb recipe.

Natural cosmetics workshopMy favourite product was the bath salts; I always think they are the prettiest natural cosmetic gift to make. Hibiscus flowers rose petals, Dead Sea salts and grains with rose and geranium flower water was the clear favourite.

At the end of a productive morning we had made 8 lip balms each, a face mask power, a body scrub, a foot scrub and bath salts.

 

Herbal cosmetics

If you would like to download my natural cosmetics workbook of recipes to make at home please see my downloads page.

My next workshop will be in January making winter herbal remedies.

A fantastic cream making workshop

I have learnt to make all manner of herbal products and remedies over the years, from lip balm to arthritis liniment, to immune boosting sweets and cough syrups. But the one thing that has always eluded me is the herbal cream. To be able to perfectly blend the water and oil together to form a cream that absorbs into the skin well is an art, and one that I have tried in vain to perfect. Many a rainy day has been spent in my kitchen trying to mix herbal waters into beeswax, and no amount of whisking will make the two gel together!

I recently attended a fantastic cream making workshop, by Dawn Ireland, a fellow UEL graduate and a fantastic herbalist. Dawn makes her own products through her website www.greenwyse.co.uk, and also practices as a medical herbalist at the herbs and honey health food shop in Torbay, Devon.

When I heard that Dawn was running a course on herbal cream making I was thrilled, but slightly nervous due to my earlier failed attempts and my allergy to nuts which often excludes me from making herbal creams due to the nut oils that are often used.

Ollie enjoying being by the sea.
Ollie enjoying being by the sea.

Dawn was fantastic and organised the event to be completely nut free so that I could attend. So off I went to Torbay, with my husband and dog in tow, and a fantastic time was had by all.

The course started with Dawn explaining the basic science behind herbal creams and how herbal constituents are absorbed into the skin. The high point of the morning was seeing Dawn make a hydrosol from her still from yarrow leaves.

After a delightful (nut free) vegetarian lunch we moved on to tailor making our creams, one lady made a hand cream specifically for her dry skin, with wheat germ oil and chamomile,  another lady made a pain relieving cream from rosehip oil, St John’s wort and chilli, for her swollen knee, and I decided to make an eczema cream with marshmallow and liquorice.

We were all slightly nervous as the cream making process is part science part art and I don’t think any of us were particular comfortable with either part! Dawn was extremely supportive throughout the process but did test us on our knowledge by setting us the task of coming up with a recipe for another cream we would make.

Greenwyse hand creams
Greenwyse hand creams

The creams we made came our perfectly and we were all thrilled with the results, unfortunately I didn’t take a picture of my cream but here is a picture of similar creams that Dawn makes so you can get the idea. As I was travelling back from Torbay I met my Mum and my sister, both eczema sufferers so the two jars of cream I’d just made went straight to them before I could take a photo!

 

 

I was filled with such inspiration after visiting Dawn that I planned the workshops and courses for 2014, including a winter remedy workshop in January, an evening course in February and March, as well as several others.

Greenwyse lip balms
Greenwyse lip balms

As a group we also came up with a fantastic chocolate orange lip balm recipe and that will be one of the lip balms I will be teaching at my natural cosmetics workshop in November.