Woodland Herbs

Monthly Newsletter: June 2009

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 email us at unsubscribe@woodlandherbs.co.uk

Summer Health

Sunshine If you are looking to prepare yourself for the summer then we have some useful tips.
Reaching your desired weight can be a problem for some people. There is lots of advice available in magazines, TV programmes and newspapers; here are some basic concepts and herbal helpers that we think are useful. This article focuses mainly on weight loss, however we can also advise on weight gain. Although there are many contributing factors to weight the most fundamental principle is that weight gain / weight loss depends on the balance between calories taken in (absorbed into the body) and calories used as energy by the body (during rest, exercise and sleep).

The types of food we eat can play a big role in our weight.

  • Foods which are readily converted to blood sugar (normally have a high glycaemic index e.g. white bread) can lead to the sensation of craving sugary or carbohydrate rich foods. If this is a feeling you recognise then you may need to address the types of food you eat (e.g. reducing processed foods, eating more wholemeal/brown foods).
  • Other people may find overeating an issue when they are in a low mood. In these cases you may consider using herbs to help with mood, however you may also need to consider the foods you eat. Eating wholegrains rich in B Vitamins and fish or flax oil which are good sources of omega 3 essential fatty acids may help. The benefits of improving your diet may only be seen over the long term, they are not normally a “quick fix”. Also make sure you are adequately hydrated (drink sufficient water).
  • In fact people mistake thirst for hunger and will eat something when their body is actually wanting water. Consider substituting a glass of water for a snack, it may just be what you actually need.
  • If the weight gain occurred following an issue such as low energy levels, aches and pain preventing your normal exercise or another issue then treatment may focus on these issues.
  • Finally as we get older we need less calories and may need to adjust how big a portion of food we take.

    In the shop if someone is asking for weight management then after giving dietary advice we may consider possible nutritional and herbal remedies. Some possible remedies include:-

  • Helix slim is a Jerusalem artichoke extract that may help reduce sugar cravings by reducing the sugar lows. This is worth considering if sugar cravings and a need to snack between meals are an issue.
  • 5HTP can increase a person’s serotonin levels which can affect mood and help to keep your spirits up.
  • Higher Nature’s Freecarb) can reduce calorie absorption from carbohydrates (it is a natural white kidney bean extract).
  • Kelp may be appropriate if someone feels their metabolic rate is low (not to be taken if taking thyroxin).

    For some people digestion can also be an important factor and poor digestion can cause constipation, indigestion, bloating and an overall tired sluggish feeling. Unaddressed this can lead to weight gain or loss and also to other problems. Some herbs to consider that may be used include Artichoke (Cynara scolymus), Dandelion root (Taraxacum off radix) and Gentian (Gentiana lutea)

    Finally if you are looking for professional help you could consider Hypnotherapy which , through our inner unconscious self, addresses habits or emotional problems related to weight issues. Medical Herbalism can help in many ways, aiding digestive processes or dealing with the underlying problems, e.g. stress, hormone fluctuations, blood sugar levels etc.

    Cellulite is not always related to weight gain, but it is often a source of irritation to women. Most people will know it as “orange peel skin” as it makes the skin puffy due to the underlying deposits of fat. It occurs on the thighs, tummy, upper arms, or buttocks and can be caused by poor circulation to the area, a build up of toxins, and can be associated with hormone imbalance.

    Improvements in lifestyle and eating habits can help and regular exercise, plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables and water may help. Limiting alcohol intake, not smoking, and reducing intake of tea, coffee and processed foods can make a difference. It is also worth trying dry skin brushing and massaging an appropriate massage oil into the area.

    Summer is when hayfever reappears as pollen is released. In last year’s newsletter (April 2008) we covered natural remedies for hayfever in some detail. If you have not started taking your hayfever remedies yet, now is probably a good time to start.

    Cautions: We always recommend seeking advice from your Doctor, medical herbalist or other health professional before taking herbs or supplements, if taking prescription medicines, pregnant or breastfeeding.

    Herb of the Month, Plantain

    Plantain Plantain, (Plantago lanceolata or Plantago majoris) is a herb that we often use in herbal tea mixes, as it is an incredibly versatile herb with a wide range of properties that make it useful for all seasons, from hayfever in summer, to colds and flus in winter. It is native to the UK and can be found in most lawns (especially if it is full of weeds).
  • Anti-histamine: reducing the body’s allergic response in conditions such as hayfever.
  • Expectorant: it helps to thin mucous allowing it to drain away naturally. A helpful property for winter colds, hayfever and chest infections.
  • A rich mineral source: high in potassium, phosphorus and magnesium, making it nutritious.
  • Demulcent:soothing to the digestive system, and to the skin. It may be used externally as a wound healer, in Gaelic it was known as “the healing plant”.

    Plantain (Common plantain) was known as the “Englishman’s foot” by some native American tribes, as it used to spring up in the footsteps of settlers. The banana tree is also called the plantain tree due to its cluster of leaves resembling plantain. A good herb to consider alongside plantain for hayfever, is nettle (Urtica dioica). Nettle also has an antihistamine action and is a rich source of iron and vitamins. Plantain and Nettle tea Plantian is most often taken as a tea or tincture , although sometimes the fresh leaves are picked and used as a poultice.

    Featured Natural Remedies – Homeopathy

    Homeopathy Although Woodland Herbs is a herbal dispensary we also stock a range of homeopathic remedies and can give basic advice on their use. Most people will have heard of homeopathy, but not everyone knows what it is. Homeopathy is a stand-alone system of medicine based on its own underlying principles. A homeopathic medicine is made using a minute dose of a substance that would cause an ailment. By taking the minute dose the patient’s body will try to overcome the substance’s effects. For example homeopathic coffee is taken as a remedy for insomnia, as coffee can lead to insomnia.

    This principle is referred to as "similia similibus curentur" or "let like be cured by like". The skill in homeopathy is selecting the correct remedy for the symptoms of the patient. In homeopathy, the symptoms of an illness are viewed as an indication or sign of the body's attempt to heal itself and a homeopathic medicine is then selected that is capable of producing similar symptoms. So homeopathy attempts to stimulate the body's own natural healing capacity, with homeopathic remedies acting as a trigger for the body's own ability to heal. Homeopathic remedies are often used as self-help for simple conditions, however for more serious complaints, or children under 2 or other similar situations, a professional homeopath or your doctor should be consulted before using homeopathic medicines.

    The effectiveness of homeopathy is a controversial area with a full range of beliefs from sceptics to people who live their life only using homeopathic medicines. People tend to make up their own mind, however for simpler self-limited conditions most people are happy to try it for themselves. Because homeopathic remedies are incredibly dilute they are generally regarded as safe and are not considered to interact with prescription medicines.

    If you are thinking of using homeopathic medicines then visit our homeopathy section for more information.