Woodland Herbs November/December 2009

In this issue
Therapy of the Month

This months therapy is  Thai Yoga Massage

Classes and Courses

Crystal Fair
Wednesday 16th December & Thursday 17th December

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 use the link at the bottom of this email.

Christmas survival: supporting the digestion.

  As we approach the festive season we thought it would be nice to cover a few ways to support your digestive processes during the time when many of us eat and drink more than normal.

For most people our digestion simply does what it is meant to do, to extract the nutritious parts of the foods we eat and prevent any bugs in our food from causing us problems. From time to time this can be upset, leading to ailments such as constipation, diarrhoea, bloating, spasm and more. We can upset our digestion in many different ways:-
- spicy or rich foods
- too much stress
- not enough fluids
- alcohol
- and more...

Put simply our digestion starts at the mouth chewing the food well (known as mastication). The stomach then uses acid to break up protein. Next in our small intestine the pancreas and liver add enzymes to break down fats and carbohydrates. The small intestine absorbs nutrients into our bloodstream and then the large intestine absorbs water. 

At Christmas there can be a few classic problems:-

Wind may be due to vegetables that give off gases (e.g. Brussels sprouts), or excess air taken in when eating and drinking. Cooking with culinary herbs such as rosemary, sage, cinnamon or cloves will help prevent wind from some problem foods, while chewing food well and eating more slowly can help with reducing air taken in.  Centaury and Gentian ) are 2 very bitter herbs that can be taken as a few drops in water. They dont work in tablets as you have to taste them, it is the bitter taste buds on your tongue that stimulates your digestion. Chewing food well and eating more slowly can help with reducing air taken in and Medicinal Charcoal can be useful to relieve the symptoms by absorbing the excess gas. Finally simple rubbing of your tummy can help, remember to rub in a clockwise direction (upwards on your right side, down on your left) as this is the direction in which your large intestine works.

Hangovers have a very simple remedy... but if you dont want to abstain then why not try Milk Thistle ? The liver deals with (metabolises) alcohol in the body, and hangovers are a symptom of the liver struggling to cope with the amount of alcohol taken. The classic herb to help prevent and reduce hangovers is Milk Thistle (Carduus marianus). Take a number of drops before drinking alcohol (typically 20 to 40 drops of a 1:5 strength tincture for a healthy adult) and repeat the dose with a glass of water before bed, and if needed in the morning.

Nausea (feeling sick) can have many different causes during the festive season. A classic remedy is fresh ginger tea, made by grating fresh ginger root (from the supermarket) into a cup of hot water, allowing it to cool until it is comfortable to drink. (try adding a spoon of honey and a few drops of lemon juice for a different taste).

Stress can be a major cause of digestive problems. If this is the case consider herbs such as Passionflower, Lemon Balm or even  Chamomile  (see our Old Newsletter   for more info)

I hope some of these simple ideas help make the festive season smoother.

Cautions and Contraindications : We hope you find this simple guidance and self-help suggestions useful, however if you have an unusual or undiagnosed condition we would recommend seeing a herbalist or your GP for a diagnosis.

Remedy of the Month: Warming Spices

When a herbalist is considering the medicinal actions of a herb they consider its pharmacological action (e.g. blocks an inflammatory process) however they may also consider some of its overall properties and how suitable they are for the patient and their condition. Is the herb stimulating or calming, is it warming or cooling? Many ailments during the cold winter months require a warming remedy.

A classic way to take warming herbs is in the form of a mulled drink. A traditional winter drink, mulled wine combines herbs which are both warming and good for the digestion. This makes them ideal for the Christmas period when the weather is cold & we tend to over-indulge with rich foods.

A Recipe for Mulled Wine

Although there are many recipes for mulled wine, at Woodland Herbs our recipe is:
- Mulled wine spices (clove, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, hibiscus, ginger)
- Bottle of Red wine
- Half Cup of Orange Juice
- Sliced Apple & Sliced Orange (optional)
- Honey (or sugar) to Taste

Place a spoonful of the mixed spices in a muslin bag. Place the bag in a large pan and add the wine, orange juice and fruit. Heat gently for half an hour. Remove the spices, add honey if required and serve warm.
(To make a non-alcoholic version use 4 cups of cranberry juice, 2 cups of apple juice and 1 cup of orange juice instead of the bottle of wine.)

Many of the spices used in mulled wine have been used for thousands of years.

Note: The proportions of our Mulled Wine Spices are:4 parts cinnamon, 2 parts cloves, 1 part each of all spice, nutmeg and hibiscus, and a pinch of dried ginger.  

Herb of the Month - Cinnamon 

Cinnamon (Cinnamonum zeylandicum) is a popular warming spice with a wide range of uses and a pleasant taste. It is commonly added to many herbal teas to add a warming, spicy flavour.

Anti-microbial / Warming / Carminative (relieves gas/wind)

Possible Applications:
- Weak digestion & feeble appetite.
- Stomach upsets
- Colds and flus
- Recent scientific studies have indicated that Cinnamon may have a role in helping to balance blood sugar levels, and be of use in the treatment of Candida (the overgrowth of Candida albicans).
- It is also useful to disguise the taste of not so pleasant herbs in herbal tea mixes!

Cinnamon is a classic ingredient in many baking recipes such as apple pie or in hot chocolate. It is also a key ingredient in our mulled wine spices. It is associated with winter celebrations (such as Christmas) as it is warming and aids in the digestion of heavy foods.

Dried Stems: Half/one teaspoon per cup, infused for 5 to 10 minutes in boiling water. Drink freely. (Available online)
Herbal tincture: Tincture doses vary greatly depending on the condition being treated.
Essential Oil: The essential oil can be diffused in the air to create a warm atmosphere.
Interesting facts: The Cinnamon tree grows up to 15 metres high but is normally coppiced, which is why the cinnamon you normally buy is in small regular pieces.

Bartram T, 1998. Encyclopaedia of Herbal Medicine. Constable: London
Chevallier A, 2001. Encyclopaedia of Medicinal Plants. Dorling Kindersley: London.

Cautions and contraindications We normally recommend seeking advice from your Doctor, Herbalist or other health professional if taking prescription medicines and thinking about self-treating with herbs.

This Months Therapy: Thai Yoga Massage

This massage originated in India and arrived in Thailand at the same time as Buddhism around 3rd Century BC. The legendary founder was a contemporary of Buddha, a physician called Jivaka Kumar Bhaccha. His teachings were passed down orally from teacher to student.

The theory behind Thai massage is that the practitioner works on 10 main energy (sen) lines. On these lines there are important acupressure points which can open up blockages, stimulate flow of energy and help restore general well-being. This is the same theory as Chinese acupuncture and acupressure, as well as the Japanese system of Shiatsu (although the energy lines in these systems are called meridians).

The massage takes place on a mat on the floor, and the client remains fully clothed throughout. It incorporates acupressure, stretching and breathing exercises, and, (since it has a basis in Yoga teaching), incorporates many Yoga positions. Anyone can experience Thai Yoga Massage, as the practitioner tailors the treatment to the individual, taking the clients current medical condition into consideration For more details visit Thai Yoga Massage

In the shop and clinic:

Crystal Fair
Wednesday 16th (11am to 6pm) and Thursday 17th December (12 noon to 7pm)
Kendal Crystals, Glasgows leading crystal supplier is holding a crystal fair at Woodland Herbs this year. There will be a huge range of gifts, including polished stones, necklaces, bracelets and crystal lamps. Unique gifts for all the family at great prices. For more information visit our website or call: 0141 564 3184.

For our opening hours including Christmas visit our website .