Tag: st john’s wort

Herbal Medicine research blog – Nov – Dec 15

In November and December the following health research has caught my eye.

1. A new study showed that Andrographis reduced triglyceride levels in patients with raised celerytriglyceride levels (one of the measurements of high cholesterol).
2. A new study of celery seed has shown that when given to patients with arthritis, it reduced pain and inflammation to a greater extent than aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen.

3. A new study has shown that Ginkgo improved attention spans of children with ADHD and hyperactivity.

4. Turmeric has been shown to be effective at treating premenstrual syndrome (PMS).

hypericum_perforatum

5.Holy basil has been found to improve cognitive function and reduce stress in healthy people.

6. A new study has shown that patients undergoing chemotherapy and radiotherapy for head and neck cancer with radiation dermatitis, were treated effectively with a combination of St John’s wort and neem oil.

Eczema blog part 3 – Can herbs help to alleviate the symptoms of eczema?

Traditional herbs for eczema

Traditionally herbal treatment of eczema would be two fold an external preparation to alleviate symptoms and an internal medicine to ‘cleanse the blood’.

Traditional blood cleansers would have been dandelion, burdock, yellow dock and nettle.

Modern herbal medicine treatment is very similar, although we now know that the blood cleansers are allowing the liver to detoxify, reducing circulating metabolites, decreasing inflammation and inflammatory markers.

nettle_flower_fullAn easy and safe remedy to try at home

An easy and safe remedy to try at home is nettle leaf tea. You can either gather your own (in the spring or summer) or buy the tea bags at a health food shop or supermarket.

I recommend drinking three cups a day.

External treatments for eczema

External treatments for eczema are many and varied but they usually consist of herbs that are antimicrobial (to stop infection within the eczema site), anti-inflammatory herbs (to alleviate the redness and swelling at the eczema site), and often an anti-pruritic (or anti-itch).

Clinical research

A study of 72 patients with moderate eczema showed that when half of the patients were given a chamomile cream, and half were given a hydrocortisone cream, they were equally effective.

herbal medicine 3 picChamomile is one of the key herbs that I use in my practice for eczema. A cold, used, chamomile tea bag can be effective and relieving the itch and inflammation on very irritated eczema where the skin is completely broken.

Another study showed that St John’s wort when used topically on eczema can reduce inflammation and the condition of skin in the area. A study of 28 patients with moderate eczema used the St John’s wort cream in comparison to a plain cream. The St John’s wort cream was more effective and decreased the eczema symptoms.

Other herbs that have been studied clinically and found to be effective at reducing eczema symptoms are: gotu kola, Oregon grape, liquorice and pansy.

Could herbal medicine help you?

If you or a someone you know suffers from eczema, I recommend they go and see a medical herbalist. A medical herbalist can make an individual prescription, for both the external and internal symptoms.

Find a qualified herbalist through any of these lists.

 

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.

 

Why use a natural cream?

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What is a natural cream?

A natural cream is one that does not use chemical based ingredients as fillers or preservatives.

 

Why use a natural cream?

Some people with sensitive skin are allergic to the chemical ingredients within creams. Or you may want to reduce the chemicals that you are coming into contact with as part of a healthy lifestyle.

 

What is the difference between a cream and an ointment?

The short answer to that is water. There are no water based ingredients within an ointment, only oil and beeswax.

 

When would you use an ointment?

An ointment is a much heavier application, it sits on the surface of the skin for much longer and does penetrate very far into the layers of skin. This can be really useful for slow release actions such as pain relieving. A chilli ointment for example, could be applied at before bed to provide pain relief throughout the night.

 

When would you use a cream?

Creams vary depending on their ingredients but in general they are much lighter than ointments and penetrate further into the layers of skin. They tend to soak in and don’t leave a film on the skin. They can have many uses from moisturising face creams to anti-inflammatory creams for sore joints and muscles.

 

Workshop2-lowHow can I make a natural cream?

There are lots of herbal cream recipes around, but this is one that is a classic traditional herbal cream. Change the water component and the type of infused oil in the recipe below to change the type of cream. E.g. chamomile infused oil with a chickweed infusion for eczema. Change the infusion and oil to plantain for an easy and safe nappy rash cream (remove the benzoin essential oil).

 

Traditional herbal cream recipe 

12g beeswax

50ml herbal infused oil

Benzoin essential oil (2 drops) (to act as a natural preservative)

Rosewater, distilled witchazel or warm herbal infusion (5 – 7ml) (water component)

Clean glass pots (mixture makes approx 60ml)

 

Melt the beeswax and herbal infused oil together in a double boiler over a low heat, once fully dissolved, remove from the heat, add the rosewater/distilled witchazel or warm infusion and essential oil and beat well until the mixture begins to thicken.

Spoon the mixture into the pots and allow to cool (with the lids off), and then label and apply the lids.

This cream will last up to 3 months in the fridge, remember to check for spoiling.

 

If you would like to learn more about natural creams and how you can make your own, take a look at my new natural cream making module.

 

 

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 – Feb 14

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

health-benefits-of-pomegranate1. A new laboratory study has found that pomegranate can repair liver damage.

2. A new study in New York is looking at the affects poor diet has on brain function. In      particular the links between junk food and poor concentration and aggressive behaviour.

3. Ashwagandha has been shown to improve brain function in people with bi-polar disorder.

4. Phytoestrogens such as soy, red clover and liquorice in a new study have been shown to prevent and treat metabolic syndrome.

rosebay-willowherb-on-aarhus-campus5. A new laboratory study has shown that rosebay willowherb contains plant constituents that suggest its effectiveness in treating benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH).

6. Red sage has been used traditionally to treat fatty liver disease and has been studied recently to find out if it can be used in hospitals. Further studies are being undertaken.

7. Self heal (Prunella vulgaris) has been found to prevent atherosclerosis.

8. Cinnamon has shown a new mode of action in laboratory studies which may mean it can be used to treat some neurodegenerative diseases.

9. Beetroot juice has been shown to increase exercise tolerance in a new study.

hypericum_perforatum10. A new laboratory study has found that the root of St John’s wort may be effective against fungal infections.

11. An extract of broom could be in your next sun cream, as a new laboratory study has found that it can protect skin from UV rays.

12. A new controversial recommendation was announced that people with 10% risk of developing cardiovascular disease would be advised by their GPs to take statins. The threshold has halved as previously the risk was 20% before statins were suggested. Many believe a more natural approach should be tried before statins are introduced.

The September Taff trail Herb Walk

On Sunday 1st September I set out for the monthly herb walk on a lovely warm but breezy afternoon. The Taff trail was busy with cyclists enjoying the good weather but luckily the route I had chosen was quieter.

 

Melingriffith Water pump
Melingriffith Water pump

At 2pm, alongside the Melingriffith water pump, I met up with three lovely ladies from Radyr who were keen to know more about the local medicinal plants and how they could make use of them.

 

There were lots of different species that we talked about during the walk but one of my favourites was mugwort (Artemesia vulgaris), which has a long historical use as a wound healer and treatment for bruises. It’s also been used traditionally to help women in labour.

 

Mugwort (Artemesia vulgaris)
Mugwort (Artemesia vulgaris)

During the herb walk I suggested plants that would be useful in an infused oil to use to treat bruises, as many of the plants we saw had that medicinal effect. The infused oil would have contained, St John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum), mugwort (Artemesia vulgaris), daisy (Bellis perennis), nettle (Urtica dioica), and plantain (Plantago lanceolata).

 

Another favourite of mine and an easily identified plant is burdock (Arctium lappa), it’s used in modern herbal medicine to stimulate bile flow and improve digestion, but it has a long use in the traditional drink dandelion and burdock.

 

Tutsan (Hypericum androsaemum)
Tutsan (Hypericum androsaemum)

There was one plant that I was particularly keen to identify, as it was not one I was familiar with. After some research I found that it was Tutsan (Hypericum androsaemum), which is a cultivated variety of St John’s wort. It has slightly different medicinal properties to St John’s wort, as its leaves are more antiseptic and it has a diurectic effect.

The next herb walk is on 28th September through Forest Farm nature reserve, Whitchurch, Cardiff, 2pm til 4pm.