Sue Sprung is a Medical Herbalist operating in Liverpool and the North West of England. If after browsing this website you are still unsure if Herbal Medicine can help, please call for a no-obligation chat – 0151 281 4648
Caution: Information on these pages is purely for educational purposes and is not intended to be used as treatment.
Shepherd’s purse is a lesser known weed that is flowering at the moment; it’s easily identified by the ‘purse’ or heart-shaped seed pods on the stem. The entire plant above the ground is used to make a medicine that’s commonly used to reduce unwanted bleeding. It does this by encouraging blood coagulation and also causing blood vessels to widen, therefore diverting blood away from the site of bleeding, including helping circulation to the heart and extremities. It contains the antiinflammatory and tissue strengthening flavonoid called rutin which helps where weak veins and poor uterine muscle tone allows blood to ‘stagnate’ and build up in uterine tissue. It’s therefore a good medicine for heavy menstrual bleeding where blood is dark and clotted.
In news this week, a cautious discussion about why hot chillies ‘might’ be good for us, following a recent study of thousands of Americans which suggested general benefit to health of eating chillies.
Chillies have been long valued in herbal medicine for their warming and circulatory properties, for those people who need a warming boost for poor circulation to the extremities, sluggish metabolism and digestion. It’s also a useful addition to a cream or salve for reducing the pain of arthritis – it not only helps local circulation but also stops nerves transmitting pain sensations if used regularly (but with a caution to keep away from the eyes).
A news item today highlights the long-term use of bisphosphonate drugs that are used for people suffering from osteoporosis by slowing the breakdown of bone. However, evidence now shows that they actually weaken bone by producing microscopic cracks.
Not many people think of using herbs to support bone health, but there are many that herbalists use for just this purpose and they’re not surprisingly really good at healing other parts of the body as well. Common ones are horsetail, boneset, comfrey, black cohosh, gotu kola and ashwaganda and they all act in different ways to support the health of bones, acting on the bone cells as well as the protein and mineral matrix that surrounds them. There’s very little published research on herbs and bone health; black cohosh has been the subject of a moderate amount of research and has been found to inhibit the osteoclast cells that cause bone breakdown and protect and stimulate the osteoclast bone building cells. When supporting bone health with herbs it’s important to not only address the activity of these important cells but also take into account the health of the connective tissue (gotu kola, ashwaganda and horsetail), the blood supply to the bones and reduce inflammation that leads to bone loss.