Tag: research

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.

 

Herbal medicine research – March 2015

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

1. A Cochrane review of 14 studies including 2050 people found that the following herbs were effective at reducing lower back pain. Devil’s claw, lavender, comfrey root, chilli, and white willow bark.

Wildflower Leptospermum grandifolium Bairne Track2. A study of 60 people with acne found that the use of tea tree essential oil in gel significantly reduced their acne.

3. A study of 278 participants with osteoarthritis showed that taking frankincense reduced pain, inflammation and improved function.

4. Preliminary research has shown that ginkgo may be beneficial in reducing macular degeneration.

5. A small study found that passion flower was more effective at reducing anxiety in children with ADHD in comparison with a common ADHD drug.

6. A small study found that valerian was effective at reducing obsessive compulsive symptoms in patients with OCD.

7. A study found that reishi mushroom taken alongside chemo and radio therapies increased their effectiveness.

elderberries8. A study of 147 people with the common cold found that a combination of elderflower, vervain, gentian and evening primrose reduced the length of the cold by 3.8 days.

9. A study found that taking 15ml of elderberry syrup four times a day for four days during flu reduced symptoms and the length of flu by four days or 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.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) – What is it? Can herbs help? New 2014 research

What is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)?

PCOS is a complex endocrine and metabolic condition affecting between 6 and 15% of women. Cysts develop in the ovaries, there is an excess of testosterone, and often no ovulation.

There is also a condition known as PCO which means a woman has cysts that develop in her ovaries but she does not exhibit the other symptoms of PCOS. She may go on to develop the syndrome at a later stage.

What are the symptoms of PCOS?

  • Increased hair growth
  • Infertility
  • Irregular or no periods
  • Obesity
  • Acne
  • Anxiety and depression
Liquorice (Glycyrriza glabra)
Liquorice (Glycyrriza glabra)

What are the long term health problems associated with PCOS?

  • High risk of developing diabetes
  • High risk of developing metabolic syndrome
  • Obesity
  • Increased risk of heart disease
  • Infertility
What are the current medical treatments for PCOS?
  • The contraceptive pill – helps with period regulation and excess hair growth but not suitable for women wanting to conceive and it does not address the metabolic aspects of the syndrome.
  • Progestins – help with hair growth and uterine bleeding but side effects include weight gain, liver problems and depression.
  • Anti-androgens – help with hair growth but not suitable for women wanting to conceive.
  • Insulin sensitising drugs – help with metabolic consequences but not weight gain, or cholesterol problems and side effects include gastrointestinal problems and kidney impairment.
  • Lifestyle changes – “Some patients with PCOS can resume menstrual cycles and ovulation after having reduced only 5% of their body weight.” Rooney et al (2014)

 

Herbal Medicine as an alternative for PCOS treatment

spearmintA recent study by Rooney et al (2014) found that Cinnamon, Liquorice, Spearmint and White Peony were beneficial in the treatment of PCOS. In the review of research studies on herbal medicine and PCOS they found that all symptoms of the syndrome were addressed and reduced. They concluded that herbal medicine is a viable first line treatment option for PCOS.

Rooney et al also found that when surveying medical herbalists who had treated women with PCOS the following problems were improved.

  • Improved menstruation
  • Reduced hair growth
  • Reduced acne
  • Reduced weight gain
  • Improved fertility
  • Improved energy
  • Improved mood

For more information on PCOS visit the NHS website.

To view the research paper “Phytotherapy for Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome: A review of the literature and evaluation of practitioners’ exerpience” by Rooney et al (2014), click here.

To speak to Sara Rooney about her research and how herbal medicine can help with PCOS, visit her website http://www.sararooneyherbalist.com/

If you suffer from PCOS and are considering herbal medicine as a treatment option it is important to see professional help from a medical herbalist. To find a medical herbalist in your area visit www.nimh.org.uk

 

 

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.

July 14 – Research on herbal medicine and health blog

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

1. A new report in the USA has been looking at antibiotic resistant infections and links to the overuse of antibiotics.

“Tom Frieden, MD, MPH, CDC Director, points out, “It’s clear that we’re approaching a cliff with antibiotic resistance. But it’s not too late. Clinicians and healthcare systems need to improve prescribing practices. And patients need to recognize that there are both risks and benefits to antibiotics — more medicine isn’t best; the right medicine at the right time is best.”

health-benefits-of-pomegranate

2. Pomegranate has been studied recently and found to have positive effects on musculoskeletal conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and osteoporosis.

3. Turmeric has been studied recently for its potential use in the treatment of digestive problems, for example bowel disease.

4. Plantain (Plantago spp.) seeds have been studied in a laboratory and found to have anti-inflammatory properities.

5. A new laboratory study has found that feverfew can prevent skin damage.

6. A new study in Spain has been researching ways for patients to safely reduce their 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

benzodiazepine usage (drugs such as diazepam).

7. A new laboratory study on Trifolium spp. (clover) has found they can protect red blood cells from damage.

Hay fever and herbal medicine

Man suffering from pollen allergyHay fever (allergic rhinitis) is an allergic condition with symptoms such as itchy eyes, sneezing and a runny nose. It is estimated that 1 in 5 people will be affected by hay fever at some point in their lives. Some people are only affected as a child whereas some adults develop the condition later in life.

Hay fever is usually triggered by a type of pollen, and lasts while that pollen is in the local environment. Tree pollen is released in the spring, grass pollen at the end of spring beginning of summer and weed pollen from spring to autumn.

The main treatment for hay fever is antihistamines, which counter act the affects of histamine which is produced by the immune system to protect the body from infection. In the case of hay fever there is too much histamine as the pollen is seen by the immune system as a threat.

Are there natural forms of antihistamine?

nettle_flower_fullThere are medicinal plants that have antihistamine effects, nettle for example has been shown to reduce the symptoms of hay fever and is recommended to take as a preventative before the hay fever season. As little as 600mg or 1 teaspoon per day has been found to be effective. This can be taken as a tea, tincture or capsule.

Plantain is a traditional remedy for hay fever and has been used for hundreds of years by Native American Indian’s. It is particularly used for reducing inflammation in the eyes and membranes in the nose. This can be taken as a tea, tincture of capsule.

Eyebright is another traditional remedy for sore eyes that has been used for hundreds of years and is a keen favourite of medical herbalists. Often given in the form of drops but can be taken as a tea, tincture or capsule.

benefits-of-honeyTaking a teaspoon a day of a local honey has been shown to be effective in some studies, as the honey contains a small amount of the pollen allergen it gradually allows the body to build up immunity to the pollen, but it appears that it does not work for every hay fever sufferer.

 

If you suffer from hay fever and would like to look at your options there is more information available at allergyuk.org and on the NHS website.

 

If you are taking any medication or have other health problems it is important to seek professional advice from a medical herbalist before taking herbal medicine. To find your nearest medical herbalist visit www.nimh.org.uk.

References

Nettle

https://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/stinging-nettle

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2192379

 

Eyebright

Culpeper ‘The complete herbal’ 1653 (historical use)

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11152054

Review of complementary and alternative medicine in treatment of ocular allergies.:Curr Opin Allergy Clin Immunol. 2003 Oct;3(5):395-9.Bielory L, Heimall J.Department of Medicine, UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School, Newark, New Jersey 07103, USA. bielory@umdnj.edu

 

Plantain

Duke, James A. The Green Pharmacy: New Discoveries in Herbal Remedies for Common Diseases and Conditions From the Worlds Foremost Authority on Healing Herbs. Emmaus, Pennsylvania: Rodale Press, 1997

 

Honey

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1081120610619965

 

http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Hay-fever/Pages/Introduction.aspx

http://www.allergyuk.org/hayfever-and-allergic-rhinitis/hay-fever-and-allergic-rhinitis

Herbal Medicine and Health research – May and June 14

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

 Milk_thistle1. A recent laboratory study has shown that a constituent of milk thistle may be beneficial in treating prostate cancer, and may be synthesised into a drug.

2. A new study has shown that taking devil’s claw, turmeric and bromelain reduced inflammation and pain in patients with osteoarthritis.

3. A recent a laboratory study has shown that pomegranate may have neuroprotective effects.

4. Self heal (Prunella vulgaris) has been shown to have antioxidant and possible anti cancer actions according to a recent study.

5. Watercress has been found to be an effective treatment against E.coli, and is being considered for mass production high dose supplementation.

6. A recent report has shown a “complex link” between asthma and antibiotic use in children.

7. Rhemmania leaves were found to be beneficial in treating primary glomerulonephritis according to a recent study.

ginkgo leaves8. A new study on Ginkgo has found that it slows the progression of normal tension glaucoma.

9. A new report from the USA states that “walking may reduce the risk of death or need for dialysis in patients with chronic kidney disease”.

10. Several species of cranberry have been confirmed to have preventative effects for urinary tract infections.

11. An evaluation was conducted on research of herbal based creams used to treat psoriasis. The traditional preparation of Oregan grape (Mahonia aquifolium) was studies but the results were not conclusive.

12. An evaluation was conducted on research of herbal gout treatments. Results were promising but more data is needed.

13. Turmeric was found to be beneficial in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.

dark-red-cherries14. Cherries have been studied recently and have been found to have cancer preventing effects.

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.

Have you noticed that herbal products are disappearing from health food shops?

Have you noticed that herbal products that you used to be able to buy in health food shops have started to disappear?

This is due to the European Directive of Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products that came into force in 2005. This directive changed the way herbal products could be sold, they needed to have a licence and a licence could only be obtained if a herb had been in use for 30 years. This has seen a huge reduction in the availability of herbal products in the UK.

You may have also noticed that in shops that sell herbs for example Neal’s Yard, they are no longer able to provide mixtures of herbs only single herbs.

Herbal medicine and regulating those who prescribe herbs is still being debated, and an article in the Telegraph on 19th January expressed the view of the Prince of Wales who wants to see alternative medicine integrating with orthodox medicine and properly regulated.

St John's wort (Hypericum perforatum)
St John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum)

As the law stands at the moment anyone can claim to be a herbalist and treat people with herbs. When the new law is passed herbalists will be recognised as regulated professionals and only herbalists who have completed the required training will be able to use the title and practice herbal medicine. 

 

 

 

So what can you do now if you are used to using a herbal product and it has been withdrawn?

Medical herbalists though not currently regulated are still covered by the Human Medicines Regulations 2012, regulation 3, para. (2), (6), (9), which states that herbal medicine products must be manufactured by the medical herbalist and must be dispensed from a suitable premise not available to the public. Regulation 241 states that schedule 20 restricted medicines can only be dispensed by medical herbalists who have a BSc in Herbal Medicine.

This means that you can get herbs from medical herbalists with a consultation. It is important to remember that the herbal medicines dispensed by medical herbalists are often of a much higher strength than those available over the counter in chemists, supermarkets and health food shops. You may only be able to get the herbal medicine in a different form, for example as a powder or tea rather than a capsule or tablet.

For more information visit the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulation Agency (MHRA) website.

If you have any questions about herbal medicine, what can be taken alongside orthodox medication or what is available through a medical herbalist you can find a medical herbalist local to you by searching on the National Institute of Medical Herbalist’s website.

I am also available for free 10 minute chats by calling 07946150721 or you can email me info@lauracarpenter.co.uk.