This is our 2nd edition of this year’s quarterly Newsletter
I hope you are enjoying the Summer and enjoyed reading our Spring quarterly newsletter. I was very pleased to hear from some of you who gathered some of the fresh growing herbs in the Spring and took the opportunity to do a gentle Spring detox as suggested in my Newsletter.
In this Newsletter, I will analyse some of the herbs that can be classified as superior herbs. One of the many properties of this large group of herbs is that the herb can be taken over a long period of time without interruption, and without side effects. Also, these herbs work very well as ‘singles’, meaning on their own rather than with others as part of a herbal formula. Those of you who have had herbal prescriptions may have noticed that the prescription was made up of several herbs, often seven or more in a formula. Herbal formulae are the most common way of prescribing Herbal Medicine.
The main medicinal properties of a herb are directly linked to its main active constituents. I will mention a few names of the constituents of the herbs I will be talking about in this newsletter as I believe this will provide a better understanding of the therapeutic mechanism of Herbal Medicine.
1. Curcuma longa – Turmeric
This herb has lately been news in the mainstream media. The attention was given to the latest findings in the West of Turmeric’s value in the treatment of cancer. Those of you who like a good curry will probably know it best as a spice and will recognise it for its beautiful yellow colour. It is a herb that thrives in the tropics in countries like India, Sri Lanka, China, Brazil etc.
Turmeric is a traditional Ayurvedic herb and has been used for millennia in India, in one of the oldest systems of traditional herbal medicine – Ayurveda. At long last its value as a medicine is starting to be recognised in the West. Many qualified western herbalists have long used it, such that it has gradually become part of the Western Tradition of Herbal Medicine. It is an invaluable herb and has always been one of the selection of herbs I use in my own practice.
Curcumin is the phytochemical that gives turmeric its lovely yellow colour, and it is the main active constituent for which turmeric is used in Herbal Medicine. The part of the plant used is the whole rhizome rather than just a purified curcumin extract. Within Herbal Medicine, for curcumin to work without side effects, all constituents found in the rhizome need to be present. They work together synergistically to help the principal precious constituents to be properly absorbed and metabolised, and to serve their intended purpose. This is a good example of how a natural medicine works – in harmony with our bodies and metabolism. The wonder of this is never lost on me. It is a perfection: from the table of Mother Nature, into our bodies to heal and to keep us healthy, as Nature intended.
The properties of this amazing herb are many. To mention a few, it is: anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, hepato-protective, anti-carcinogenic, anti-microbial, supports mucosal tissues, and assists the body to lower cholesterol.
Recent research has shown that it promotes apoptosis of the cancer stems cells. This is really good news, considering that 1 in 3 people are dying of cancer, according to the latest statistics. In my clinic I get consistently good results using this herb in combination with other anti-inflammatory herbs to treat many different types of arthritis and other inflammatory conditions. I also use it to treat certain types of digestive disorder. It can be very effective for lowering cholesterol, and is one of the greatest anti-oxidants found in nature. As liver restorative, it helps the liver to regenerate and therefore can be used in the treatment of liver damage, caused, for example, by cancer or cirrhosis.
2. Asparagus racemosa – Shatavari
This is another herb from the ancient Ayurvedic tradition and has been part of the Herbal Pharmacopeia for millennia. The part used is the root, and the main active constituents found in the root are steroidal saponins. These steroidal saponins can have a positive effect in balancing hormones.
“She who possesses a hundred husbands”. I have always loved this quote. In a few words it expresses the amazing action this herb has on the female reproductive organs.
Shatavari – Yin tonic – has a tonic and rejuvenating action on the female reproductive system and is said to give a woman the capacity to have a hundred husbands! It is said that it increases love, devotion and compassion.
In the West it is called “the natural HRT”. I include this herb in nearly every peri-menopausal, menopausal and post-menopausal formula but I also use it in formulae for young women who have symptoms of hormonal imbalance. It works very well with Ashwaganda (the next herb I will analyse), when in addition to hormonal imbalance, adrenal support is required. Shatavari works on many levels; not only does it rejuvenate the female reproductive system but it also is very effective in the treatment of infertility. In addition to its nourishing and rejuvenating action, it has been used effectively in treating dry inflamed membranes of the lungs, stomach, kidneys and sexual organs.
As a medical herbalist specialising in hormone balance, I am immensely grateful to Mother Nature who provides us with such gifts that can help women to go through their difficult years of change in a very smooth and dignified manner. This is especially so when modern society fails to understand the process of menopause, which I believe has led to further suppression of real femininity. True femininity today is seldom respected by Western society and is often confined to sex appeal. The menopause in particular is frequently portrayed in a negative light, making any promises of continued youthfulness an enticing lure for any treatment. Faced with propositions such as this, it can be easy to dismiss side effects as another day’s problem.
HRT, a treatment invented in the 1960’s promising eternal youthfulness for women, is becoming an increasingly controversial subject. Concerns about its side effects are being debated in the media, and a number of authors have written about it with erudition. Dr. John Lee, MD is one such author, and bases his books on research conducted over 30 years into the side effects of using HRT. These make disturbing reading. Should you wish to read more about this subject follow the link “Recommended Reading” on my website. http://www.thenaturalpharmacie.co.uk/category/books/
3. Withania somnifera – Ashwaganda
This is yet another herb from the ancient tradition of Ayurveda, and like Turmeric and Shatavari, it has been used to treat ill health for millennia. The main active constituent is an alkaloid found in the root. This herb also has a high content of iron.
Ashwaganda is considered a Yang tonic, and as such, its affinity with the male reproductive system can be compared with that of Shatavari’s for the female reproductive system.
Ashwaganda has aphrodisiac, sedative and astringent properties. It can be used to treat impotence, infertility, weakness of the back and knees, adrenal exhaustion, joint and nerve pain. Further conditions that can be treated with this herb are weakness of the mind, nerve exhaustion, insomnia, wasting diseases, convalescence, and poor growth in children. It promotes deep, sound sleep and stamina for the mind. In the West it is considered the primary herb for the stress of the 21st century. A perfect herb for a busy overworked career person, it can also be helpful for children and adolescents who feel overworked at school and get the “can’t cope” feeling. It is one of the best rejuvenating herbs in the Ayurvedic pharmacopeia, particularly for the muscles, marrow and semen. Ashwaganda is nourishing to the nervous system and is one of the primary strengthening tonics used in the Ayurvedic tradition.
Although a less common use, it can also be applied externally to promote the healing of wounds and sores.
Lamberts Healthcare Ltd, a English company that manufactures a huge range of supplements to a high standard has kindly offered to give a seminar free of charge through The Natual Pharmacie on their range of products. Lamberts is one of my key suppliers and I have used their products in my practice for nearly 10 years. This seminar will offer you a chance to gain a deeper understanding about supplements, what they can do for you, and what to look for when choosing them.
Dates suggested by Lamberts: either Wednesday the 24th of September/14 or Tuesday the 30th of September/14.
Should you be interested, please send me an email with the date you will be able to attend.
The next quarterly Newsletter should reach you towards the end of October/14. The change of season from summer to autumn will be well underway by then and I will give you loads of tips on how to stay healthy during this delicate transition from summer/autumn to winter when so many people go down with bugs. I will give some recommendations on how minimise/avoid colds and flu as well as how to avoid the winter glooms.
Thank you all :)
Disclaimer: The content of this newsletter is for information only. You must always consult a medical herbalist before taking any herbs mentioned in this newsletter.