Tag: research

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.

2. 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.

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

Monthly herbal medicine research blog – November 13

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

1. With MRSA infections a growing problem in hospitals this piece of Australian research shows that both lemongrass and tea tree oils applied after surgery prevented infection, including MRSA.

2. New laboratory research in Korea has found that rosemary could prevent skin cancer.

3. Another study of rosemary in Spain has found that it reduced tumour growth.

4. A global study has found that depression is now the second most disabling condition in the world.

5. A new study has found that walking just 2 and a half hours a week can prevent depression.

6. New research has found that Panax ginseng can reduce fatigue in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome.

7. A study on the biochemistry of corn silk has found that it could help to treat diabetes.

8. Research in Hong Kong is looking at the anti-inflammatory effects of several herbs in the possible treatment of rheumatoid arthritis including nettle, liquorice, angelica and centella.

9. Rhodiolia has been found to increase exercise performance in a new study.

10. A summary of several studies on the use of herbal topical applications in osteoarthritis has found that in some cases the herbal cream/gel was more effective than the orthodox medical counterpart.

11. Research is mounting for nutritional supplements and targeted diets for cancer patients to prevent reoccurrence of cancer.

Monthly herbal medicine research – October 13

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

1. A study of 800 women is Sweden has found that increased stress in mid life is linked to an increase in Dementia and Alzheimer’s.

2. New evidence has shown that probiotics can be effective in a treatment regime for the intestinal infection Clostridium difficile.

3. Can vitamin D supplements improve bone density? The jury is still out, the Lancet have stated that it does not but some smaller studies have conflicting evidence.

4. Shocking research in the USA has shown a huge increase in fatty liver disease in children due to obesity.

5. Broccoli has been found to inhibit colon cancer in laboratory studies.

6. In a study of over 300 people with nausea following an operation, ginger essential oil was given to them to inhale, the rate of nausea was greatly reduced.

7. Saw palmetto continues to be studied for it’s use in treating benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH).


Rose hips (Rosa canina) have been a traditional medicine for colds and flu but new studies are looking at their anti-inflammatory action. This study found that patients with osteoarthritis who took rose hip powder over a three month period found a reduction in their symptoms.

So why herbal medicine?

The growing field at the Organic Herbal Trading Company
The growing field at the Organic Herb Trading Company

I often get asked what made me want to study herbal medicine, and I usually give the shortened version of this story.

About 13 years ago my Mum was receiving acupuncture and taking Chinese herbs for her eczema, I was a bit sceptical that anything could help her as she’d suffered from extremely bad eczema for most of her life.

I was also rather unconvinced at the bag of roots and leaves that she would boil up every day and then drink the most foul smelling liquid I’d ever seen. The results however started to make me question what was going on. In a very short amount of time she had a big improvement in her eczema, something that 40 years of steroid creams had failed to do.

So I began to research Chinese herbal medicine and the theories behind the treatment, this is where I got rather bogged down in the different states in the body and the theories that go with TCM (traditional Chinese medicine). After reading the first few chapters of the book I had taken out from the library I gave up and took it back. As I was looking in the alternative medicine section I found another herbal medicine book, one that looked a bit more appealing. It was Penelope Ody’s “The complete medicinal herbal”, and it was full of recipes and information on Western herbal medicine. In part it reminded me of old recipes my Gran used when making jam, but with something else, this knowledge that with some simple plants you could heal yourself.

Symphytum officinale (Comfrey)
Symphytum officinale (Comfrey)

I devoured the book in less than a day and I was hooked! From that point on I read everything I could get my hands on about Western Herbal medicine. After about 6 months worth of reading I decided that I had to study herbal medicine properly. So I applied to study a degree in Herbal Medicine at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLAN).I thoroughly enjoyed my short time at the UCLAN but after only 6 months I had to leave the course due to ill health in my family. My passion for herbal medicine was as strong as ever and I still read as much as I could, I also completed a distance learning course to feed my obsession.

I treated myself and my family for many years with great success, and finally I got to a point where I could not continue without completing my degree. I went to an open day at the University of East London not intending on signing up to the course at that time, but by the end of the morning I’d already decided that that was the course for me. I signed up to the course and the next 5 years flew by.

Studying herbal medicine on a blended learning course meant that I had to travel to London for clinic and seminars about once every two weeks while also working full time, while this was a strain, my joy of working in the Stratford clinic of herbal medicine kept me going through the more difficult modules (pharmacology, yuck!).

Wild flower meadow
Wild flower meadow

My passion for herbal medicine grows year on year, the more patients I see the more I am surprised at how well herbal medicine works. Yes I can explain the theory and the scientific research and biochemistry behind the herbs but there is nothing like seeing a patient come into your clinic with a huge smile on their face because their life has been improved with herbal medicine. A new direction for me will be teaching courses on herbal medicine, I am planning on running some day workshops, evening classes and also an online course in 2014.


This month in research – September 13

This month I have found the following research particularly interesting.

Blueberry1. A 300g portion of blueberries (Vaccinium corymbosum) has been found to protect DNA from damage, in a study in men.

2. Korean ginseng (Coreanica ginseng) has been found to improve erectile dysfunction in men, when taken for 8 weeks.

3. There have been several studies showing that artichoke (Cynara scolymus) can reduce cholesterol levels and protect against heart disease, this new study has highlighted the lipid lowering properties, backing up the earlier research on its use in reducing cholesterol levels.

4. Walnuts (Juglans regia) have been shown to reduce the growth of prostate cancer in a new laboratory study.

5. A new study of the phytochemicals within Cinnamon (Cinnamom verum) has found it  protects neurons which could see it used in neurodegenerative disease such as Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease and dementia.

6. Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) has long been used as both a treatment and preventative for migraines. A new report shows that its use as a preventative for migraines is backed up pharmacologically and it could be taken long term.

7. A component of Baical skullcap (Scutellaria baicalensis) has been shown to reduce colon cancer in laboratory studies.

8. A new five step plan to help patients cope with pain is being used in USA.

9. Chaste tree berry (Vitex agnus castus) has recently been studied for its use to treat migraines as part of premenstrual syndrome with good results.

10. A new report shows that an external preparation of comfrey root (Symphytum officinale) has been used effectively to treat painful joints and muscles, from sports injuries to degenerative arthritis.

This month in herbal medicine research

This month I have found the following pieces of research interesting.1. The effect of ginger for relieving of primary dysmenorrhoea (a type of period pain). In this study 70 woman with primary dysmenorrhoea were given either a placebo or ginger capsules for the first three days of their menstrual cycles. Their pain levels were then scored, and when compared, the women who took ginger capsules found their pain had reduced. An additional benefit that was identified was the reduction in nausea when taking the ginger capsules.

2. Filipendula ulmaria (meadowsweet) has been found to have antihistamine qualities by laboratory studies.

3. Fenugreek has been shown to reduce cholesterol in laboratory studies.

Fenugreek4. Inflammatory bowel disease has been shown to flare up in hot weather, a study in Switzerland found.

5. Cognitive behaviour therapy has been found to be effective for treating people with tinnitus.

6. Oats have been found to improve liver function and prevent obesity in laboratory studies.

Oats (Avena sativa)7. Turmeric (Curcuma longa) and hibiscus (Hibiscus sabdariffa) have been suggested as possible treatments for metabolic syndrome.

8. Antibiotic resistance has been declared a crisis by the World Health Organisation, “as pharmaceutical companies are no longer developing new antibiotics and antibiotic abuse is widespread”.

9. Astragalus membranaceus (milk vetch) has been suggested as a possible alternative treatment for Parkinson’s disease.