In this issue
Welcome to your regular newsletter from Woodland Herbs. We hope you will find it interesting, entertaining and useful. If you do not wish to continue to receive this email please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
As the weather improves and we move into April, now is a good time to consider if you would benefit from a "spring detox". At Woodland Herbs we often advise people not to detox as part of a New Year’s Resolution, as our bodies are naturally in a slower phase due to the shorter days and colder weather. Come springtime we are better able to cope with some of the demands of a detox programme.
A “detox” can mean different things to different people. For many it is simply a few days when we make a concerted effort to look after our bodies. For others it can be a longer period where they make major adjustments to their diet and lifestyle with the aim of addressing or improving some aspect of their health, for example their skin, their digestive health or overall wellbeing. In essence “Detox” is a way of cleansing the system through moderating what you eat and drink for a specific period of time, giving your body some relief from digesting and assimilating food, and a chance to focus its energy towards cleansing and renewing itself.
Some Principles of a Detox:
Even a gentle detox may not be for everyone, so before a detox programme, assess your state of health and energy as you may actually need to nourish yourself rather than fast. Gradual preparation before and after is important, consider taking one third of the length before and after the fast to slowly take away, then build foods back into the diet. Ensure that there is space to find rest and be peaceful during this time. Gentle activity before and during detox will aid the elimination process. During your detox you should abstain from: coffee, sugar, alcohol, wheat, dairy, animal fat, fried food, fatty food, crisps, chocolate, cakes and biscuits. If detoxing for longer than three days consider a multi-vitamin supplement, and for longer programmes you may need more structure and advice in order to carry them out.
A simple Detox based on a one day fruit fast:
The night before: eat a simple meal; steamed vegetables, or soup, with salad and fruit.
For the Detox day: Choose from fruit such as: Grapes, apples or pears. Eat as much as comfortably possible of the one fruit you have chosen throughout the day. Drink between 2-3 litres of water. Don’t eat after 8 pm.
The next day: have any fruit for breakfast the next morning and plan to break your detox at lunch time.
By eating just one type of fruit and drinking lots of water, the digestive system keeps moving, supporting the elimination process.
There are a number of herbs that can be a useful support to a detox due to their cleansing actions. These include Burdock root (arctium lappa), Dandelion root (Taraxacum officinalis rad), Red clover (Trifolium pratense), Nettle leaf (Urtica dioica) and Cleavers (Galium aperine). Aloe Vera juice may also be useful as it contains high amounts of vitamins and amino acids, including the precursor for vitamin B12. Aloe vera juice is also believed to help eliminate toxic minerals from the body.
Note: If you have an existing medical condition or are pregnant please seek advice from a herbalist or medical practitioner before making extreme changes. In addition if you have recently been ill for a considerable length of time, are feeling depleted or low in energy then please seek advice. (Visit our website for a Glasgow herbalist or www.nimh.org.uk for a UK wide list)
Herb of the Month: Nettle
Nettle (Urtica dioica) is a common plant in all temperate regions of the world and is perhaps most well known for the irritation caused by its sting. It has been used medicinally for thousands of years and as far back as the first century AD was noted for its healing properties. Perhaps its most renowned traditional use was as a spring tonic to cleanse the blood and revitalise the system after winter. It is high in B vitamins, vitamin C and a very good source of iron. Its cleansing action is appropriate for some arthritic conditions and it is a classic herbal remedy for gout [often along with celery seed (Apium graveolens)].It has a diuretic action, increasing urine production and encouraging the elimination of waste products from the body. As an anti-allergenic it can be used for hayfever, itchy skin conditions and insect bites and stings. Its juice is also a remedy for its own sting!
Nettle can be taken as a tea or tincture, or the fresh tops can be used in cooking and are a pleasant tasting nutritious addition to soups or cooked like spinach (make sure you cook it to remove the sting!). See the bbc website for a nettle soup recipe.
Featured Natural Remedies – Guarana - a caffeine containing plant
Many people expect herbal shops to offer a range of caffeine free drinks, therefore it is sometimes a surprise to find a herb which is a rich source of caffeine. The plant in question is guarana (Paullinia cupana)which contains 4% caffeine, which is more than coffee which is typically about 2% caffeine.
For natural health practitioners the use of caffeine is not normally a concern, but rather the sustained use and dependence on caffeine. One of caffeine’s actions is to stimulate the adrenal system, putting the body into a more “stressed” state (part of the flight or fight response). Continual use of caffeine may lead to adrenal exhaustion and this can lead to a long period of ill health. It is for this reason caffeine containing foods and drinks are normally only recommended to be taken in moderation. As a short term mental stimulant then guarana may be useful for people who are working shifts, students cramming for exams or possibly during endurance sports events. Caffeine is also a diuretic, and can increase the amount of fluid removed from the body. It is for this reason that many authors suggest drinking a cup of water alongside a cup of coffee.
There is a surprisingly long list of times when caffeine may not be appropriate. It is widely known that caffeine can affect sleep. It can also cause heart palpitations in some people, and a wide range of other side effects.
Guarana Powder is available online.
Cautions and contraindications: People with heart conditions, diabetes, high blood pressure, epilepsy, overactive thyroid, anxiety, insomnia, and kidney disease, or women who are pregnant or breasfeeding, should only use guarana under the supervision of their doctor or herbalist.