part one


Navigating the herbal remedies aisle at the health food store can be a frustrating business. How much? What brand? Is it safe?  These are good and reasonable questions, ones that should be considered carefully every time you use a medicine, be it plant based, over the counter or prescribed by the doctor.


If you listen to all the hype produced by the money driven drug companies one might end up thinking you won't live to see next day's sunlight if you use herbal remedies. Yet if you read all the warnings printed on the packet of pain reliever or cold medicine those warnings stop nothing short of total dysfunction and death. Okay, enough said other than no one is getting rich selling herbals at $5-$15 a bottle.


This cold and flu season want to switch to effective herb therapy- great. As with any illness and medication use, common sense comes first. Herbs and supplements work best if taken before full blown symptoms begin, so stock up now.


For cold symptoms- The minute you are exposed, feeling over tired, in a crowded airport, bus or lobby take a zinc lozenge. Zinc prevents virus replication. If the virus cannot replicate, it cannot make you sick. For a stuffy nose that is turning into a cold place a zinc lozenge in a half cup of water and allow it to dissolve. Saturate a Q-tip with the solution and swab the inside of your nose. Take Ester C (vitamin C) 500mg daily, use echinachea, ginger and white willow bark for symptoms of flu, headache, indigestion and the accompanying aches and pains.


For urinary tract infection use concentrated cranberry tablets- not the sweetened drink. The acid in the cranberries makes the lining of the bladder so slick the bacteria cannot get a foot hold. Ura Uvsa is another herb good for bladder health. Use it as a tea when having symptoms. The over the counter drug AZO  will relieve the terrible burning and stinging that accompanies bladder infection.


For symptoms of fatigue use a high quality multi vitamin mineral supplement. I particularly like My Favorite Multiple by Natrol. The herbs ginseng, ginger and digestive enzymes are also helpful for symptoms of fatigue. Vague symptoms of fatigue over longer periods of time can be caused by too much caffeine, not enough sleep, your body shouting for life style changes, or more serious illness. If you have given the above a try without resolution a visit to your doctor is in order.


For joint aches and pains use fish or flax seed oil and glucosamine chondrotin daily, arnica if you injure a joint and white willow bark in place of aspirin or Tylenol. If these do not resolve the issue try having shoe inserts made. How the weight falls on your feet effects your entire body, especially the ankles, knees, hips, pelvis and lower back.


Herb therapy should go hand in hand with good health and the prevention of illness, and injury. Taken as directed they are safe and effective. Stay tunned next week for part two and more effective uses of herb therapy. Till next time, Rebecca


part two


Last week in part one we looked at the everyday use of common herbs and supplements helpful in the treatment of chronic ailments that plague us all from time to time. In part two of this article I will further discuss the use of natural therapies good for the treatment of acute and chronic health problems.


The immediate treatment of an injury can determine whether a joint or muscle returns to normal function or becomes a life long problem. Ice and immobilization are important in serious joint or muscle injury, but first think Arnica. Arnica montana, it's botanical name is well known by all herbalists and is considered first aid for injury. As a gel it can be applied directly to any injury where the skin is not broken. It relieves pain, prevents bruising and cellular damage. For injury where the skin is broken use Arnica pellets under the tongue.


High cholesterol can be a difficult problem to manage when exercise and diet are not enough. There are several prescription medications that are effective, but many individuals find they cannot use these medicines due to the side effects including muscle aches, headache and elevated liver enzymes.  A combination of garlic, fish oil or flax seed oil have helped many of my clients reduce their bad cholesterol and raise the good cholesterol. If this combination does not work try the popular Asian supplement red rice yeast. Red rice yeast contains the same active ingredient as many of the popular cholesterol lowering drugs without the dangerous side effects. The B vitamin niacin can also lower high cholesterol. Do not take large doses of niacin without medical monitoring.


Itchy, red irritated skin without a diagnosis other than  eczema, a vague diagnosis of unknown cause  can leave one spending literally hundreds of dollars on cremes and medications that are only partially effective. Applications of diluted eucalyptus oil has shown to relieve localized symptoms of itching. Using acidophilus-probiotics internally to reduce toxins that may be pushing through the skin has shown to reduce if not eliminate symptoms. Acidophilus is also good for vaginal yeast and other kinds of itchy yeast infections.


Sleeplessness robs us of our vitality, harms the immunity, causes mood swings and a multitude of other symptoms. There are several good herbs that can be used for occasional restless sleep including, feverfew, Valerian and passion flower. Although for prolonged sleeplessness nothing works as well as magnesium to produce deep and restful sleep. Using 400 mg at night balances calcium, reduces muscle aches and pains and calms the nerves. The herb milk thistle used for clearing liver toxins can also be helpful, the liver being an important organ in the production of sleep producing brain chemicals.


Most physicians feel the use of herbs is not a safe practice, and indeed there are contraindications for their use. The interaction between a synthetic medication and a plant based medication can be dangerous so be sure that you have all the facts when taking any drug natural or otherwise.


Till next time, Rebecca