Woodland Herbs April 2010

In this issue
Therapy of the Month

This months therapy is  Hopi Ear Candling

Classes and Courses

Make Your Own Skincare  
Sunday 18th April

Indian Head Massage
Sunday 6th June

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.

Skeletal Health

In an average lifetime each of us will walk the equivalent of twice around the world. Fortunately, on our long journey through life, there are lots of practical steps we can take to look after our hardworking bones!

About Bones
Our skeletons journey begins very early in life, starting to develop just four weeks after conception. From those tiny beginnings our bones grow rapidly throughout infancy, childhood and the teenage years, laying down 150mg of calcium per day until adulthood when the average person contains 2-3lb of calcium, 99% of which is found in the bones and teeth. In terms of bone density we reach our peak around age 30, and after that density slowly decreases, with a more dramatic loss for women immediately after the menopause.

While our genes determine the potential height and strength of our skeleton, lifestyle factors such as diet and exercise can influence how healthy bones are and the speed at which they repair themselves. Unfortunately our modern lifestyle seems to be something of a bone of contention for our skeletons; studies of 18th century human remains reveal skeletons then were stronger and had better density than skeletons today...so it seems people really were made of tougher stuff in the old days!

The good news is we can counter our modern tendency to delicate bones by following a good old fashioned healthy lifestyle of nutritious natural whole foods and regular activity as an effective way to delay the onset of osteoporosis, and to slow the rate at which bones become fragile.

Essential Bone Nutrients
Calcium is the most essential and abundant mineral in our body.  It plays a vital role in the formation of bones and teeth, and it also regulates muscle contraction, including the heartbeat, and ensures blood clots normally.

Magnesium is just as important as calcium, and around 70% of our body's magnesium is found in the bones and teeth. It helps in metabolising calcium and vitamin C and helps to convert vitamin D to the active form necessary to ensure that calcium is efficiently absorbed by our body.

 Many other nutrients are equally crucial for healthy bones, and these include vitamin C, vitamin D, zinc and boron. A healthy diet can provide what we need for a good foundation for healthy bones and regular exposure of our skin to sunlight also enables the body to utilise vitamin D from our diet.

Shake a Leg
Regular exercise (both weight bearing and resistance) helps keep our bones in tip-top condition, for example walking, running, football, skipping, dancing, and aerobics. Outdoor walking/running is excellent for topping up on exercise and vitamin D all in one go. And for gym-goers the good news is that using weight equipment (which is a form of resistance exercise) not only helps to achieve a more shapely physique but strengthens bones too, through the action of the tendons pulling on the bones.

Bad to the Bone
Alcohol and smoking are two of our skeleton's arch enemies. Alcohol interferes with the body's ability to absorb calcium, while smoking reduces bone density and impairs healing after surgery or injury. (Statistics show that female smokers have a 50% higher risk of developing osteoporosis than non-smokers).Other baddies to watch out for are excessive amounts of salt, sugar, red meat, trans/hydrogenated fats, carbonated drinks, bran, processed foods and caffeine, all of which can interfere with nutrient assimilation and proper functioning of our bones.

A healthy diet is our skeletons best ally, providing essential nutrients for growth and repair. You can help look after your skeleton by making sure your diet includes plenty of:

  • Calcium: sources include dairy products, eggs, small bony fish such as sardines, soya products, most nuts, fortified cereals and leafy green vegetables, especially broccoli. (Effective absorption of calcium from the food we eat is dependent on the presence of both strong stomach acid and vitamin D.) Calcium-rich herbs can also be used as a seasoning in food or taken as a tea. These include parsley, dandelion leaves, nettles, kelp and horsetail.
  • Magnesium: sources include green vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, milk, eggs, and sea-foods.
  • Vitamin D: sources include eggs, oily fish, butter, cheese, and cod liver oil. Regular exposure to sunlight helps to avoid low Vitamin D.
  • Boron: sources include alfalfa, kelp, cabbage and leafy greens.
  • Vitamin C: sources include many fruit and vegetables, especially peppers, broccoli, sprouts, sweet potatoes, oranges and kiwi fruit.
  • Zinc: sources include meat, shellfish, milk and dairy foods such as cheese, bread, and cereal products such as wheatgerm.

    If you are pregnant, breastfeeding or have an undiagnosed condition we generally recommend seeing a herbalist or your GP for a diagnosis prior to taking herbs or supplements.

Selecting A Bone Supplement

Calcium Many studies suggest that taking supplements such as calcium and magnesium may be a key step for bone health in post-menopausal women. While supplementing with calcium and magnesium alone may be adequate for people with healthy diets, there are many different forms of calcium and magnesium supplements and some also include other related minerals that are involved in bone health.  If you want to take additional care you could consider an all in one supplement such as Solgars Ultimate Bone Support.

From the hundreds on offer, it can be tricky deciding which supplement is best for you, so talking it over with a health professional may help your selection process. At Woodland Herbs we are happy to help you to understand your choices. (Also, if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, taking medication, or have been diagnosed with a medical condition it is important to check with a health professional before taking supplements).

If you are considering choosing a calcium or calcium and magnesium supplement, it is worth noting that all calcium is not equal! Apart from total calcium content, supplements may also differ in the type of calcium they contain, some of which may be better suited to you than others: 

Calcium carbonate is relatively inexpensive but may not be so well absorbed by some people, especially those with digestive problems or low levels of stomach acid.  
Calcium citrate is a more expensive option, but more easily absorbed than calcium carbonate.
 Dicalcium malate (calcium that is chelated (bound)  to malic acid) is also easily absorbed and gentle on the stomach, and also provides more calcium per tablet than calcium citrate.

Calcium supplements typically are absorbed better when eaten with meals (when our stomach acid levels are high), and supplementing calcium in the evening or at 2 different times appears better for osteoporosis prevention than taking calcium only in the morning.

Natural Supplement for Babies & Children During pregnancy and nursing, mums can pay attention to their own diet to ensure their baby receives all the calcium (and other nutrients) he/she requires. Research shows mums who eat a healthy, well balanced diet during pregnancy have children with stronger bones.
Once weaning is established, many parents worry that their children may not be getting enough calcium and vitamins from their diet, especially if they are fussy eaters or have dairy allergies. If this is an area of concern for you, Kindervital Fruity Formula is a natural food supplement formulated especially for children, which provides calcium and nine essential vitamins. It is suitable for infants from six months and can be taken throughout childhood and by teenagers. All the nutrients are already dissolved in a liquid formula, which means the vitamins and calcium can easily be absorbed by the body. And most importantly, it tastes nice!

Herbal Help for Ladies

Some herbs contain oestrogen-like substances which may help reduce calcium loss from bones after the menopause (when the body's own hormone levels are low). Oestrogenic herbs include calendula (calendula officinalis) , sage (salvia officinalis) , wild yam (dioscorea villosa)  and liquorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) . Some foods also contain oestrogenic substances, and these include rhubarb, celery, soybeans/soya products, oats, alfalfa and fenugreek. It may be worth considering trying some of these if you are in the at-risk group.

Herb of the Month - Comfrey

Comfrey (Symphytum officinalis) is a herb recognised through the centuries for its bone healing properties, evidenced by its traditional name of Knitbone. Comfrey contains substances (including allantoin) which increase mitosis (cell-division) with the effect of speeding healing times of simple bone injuries, wounds, sprains and tears. Please note that Comfrey is not recommended for complex fractures. In recent years, research has shown Comfrey to contain a class of plant chemicals which can be harmful to the liver when taken at high levels for sustained periods. The root is much higher in this chemical than the leaf, so the root is generally only used externally, unless under the guidance of a medical professional such as a herbalist. Comfrey leaf, however, can be taken as a tea or tincture and Comfrey can also be used topically as a poultice, cream or oil
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: Hopi Ear Candling

Ear candling is a traditional treatment that has been passed down through generations. It is believed that the Ancient Greeks used ear candles, initially probably for cleansing, purifying and healing on a spiritual level, but much later on a purely physical basis. However, the practice reached the modern world via the native American Hopi of North Arizona.

Recent investigations suggest that the effects of ear candling producing heat and the creation of sound vibration and pressure changes in the candle. These have a gentle, stimulating effect on the middle and inner ear. This is believed to ease pressure on the eustacian tubes and sinuses, helping release mucous.

Though results may vary from patient to patient, people have reported Hopi Candles to be helpful with:
- Excessive or compacted wax in the ears
- Irritation in ears and sinuses
- Pressure regulation in cases of : sinusitis / rhinitis / glue ear / colds / flu / -
- Relaxing and calming effect in cases of stress
- Headache and migraine
- Noises in the ears, ringing, tinnitus
During the treatment as well as the use of candles the therapist will normally perform a  gentle massage. Most clients find the whole experience very relaxing. Some fall asleep during treatment. For more details visit Hopi Ear Candling

In the shop and clinic:

 Make Your Own Natural Skincare
Annas Day. An entertaining day learning the basics of making natural skincare. Participants will leave with a varied collection of items they have made, as well as recipes. Led by herbalist Anna Hill. 
Sunday 18th April 10am  to 4.30pm Price: 50 including materials

Indian Head Massage  
Learn the theory and practice of Indian Head Massage. After the course you will be able to give friends or family a relaxing Indian Head Massage. Course tutor: Barney Green. Sunday 6th June  10 to 4.30pm Price: 50

For more information visit our website or call: 0141 564 3184.