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.
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.
Children’s Mental Health Week was marked this month. Statistics around children’s mental health are worsening and it’s reported that half of schools struggle to get mental health support for their students. Not many people are aware of the benefits that herbs can bring for children struggling with mood and other cognitive issues. Herbs can help with problems such as anxious feelings, irritability, sleep problems and concentration. All herbs are different and can be chosen according to the individual; for example passionflower helps to calm a chattering mind and valerian will help to relax physical tension.
Often, mental health is related to digestive health. Poor digestion may cause nervous system problems due to imbalances in gut bacteria and irritations in the gut lining that lead to leaky gut. There are many gentle herbs that help with mood as well as promote healthy digestion and such as lemon balm and chamomile, St. John’s wort and passionflower.
Research studies on the benefits of herbs are limited, due mainly to financial constraints, but a recent study found that valerian and lemon balm helped hyperactivity, attention deficit and impulsivity in children (Ross, 2015) and valerian, passionflower and St. John’s wort helped with nervous agitation (Trompetter, Krick andWeiss, 2013).