Woodland Herbs June 2010

In this issue
Therapy of the Month

This months therapy is  Hypnofertility

Classes and Courses

Facial Revitalisation Acupuncture
Thurs 1st July 7pm

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.

Why Your Heart is a Hero

Made of fantastically powerful stuff and able to accomplish amazing feats in relation to its size, your heart is like your own personal superhero. With its super-charged, mitochondria-rich muscle tissue (not found anywhere else in the body) your heart is able to beat continually without tiring, some 100,000 times a day and around 2.5 billion times in a lifetime. And what it doesn't have in size, it makes up for in power. Just the size of a fist and only half a pound in weight, your heart is capable of pumping your entire blood supply (approx 5-6 litres) around your body within the space of a minute. Quite an achievement considering we have 62,000 miles of blood vessels to negotiate; laid end to end, these would be long enough to circle the earth twice. Not surprising then that your heart, even at rest, works twice as hard as the leg muscles of a sprinting man.
Try A Little Tenderness
But even superheroes as tough as your heart still need some regular TLC (tender loving care) to keep them in top condition. Fortunately, no radio-active spiders or visits to planet Krypton required for this one. You can make a huge difference to the health of your heart with just a few simple lifestyle changes. And for those with a mind to try it, traditional herbal remedies and natural modern supplements may help too.  
Beware the Baddies
Nicotine, booze, "bad" fats, excess sugar and salt and caffeine; too much of these villains can raise blood cholesterol and blood pressure, seriously compromising heart health. Coronary heart disease is the UKs biggest killer; approximately 300,000 people in the UK have a heart attack each year. The most common cause of coronary heart disease is a build-up of fatty deposits in the walls of the coronary arteries (a process called atherosclerosis) which can cause your heart's blood supply to be blocked or interrupted. This may result in chest pains (angina). If a coronary artery becomes completely blocked, it can cause a heart attack. High blood pressure (hypertension) increases the risk of having a heart attack or stroke. It rarely has any symptoms, and is sometimes referred to as the silent killer. A person might feel well, but over time the heart may become abnormally large and beat less effectively.
The Goodies
Attention to diet is a good starting point for a healthy heart. Eating healthily can help you keep your weight, cholesterol and blood pressure under control and prevent blood clots and fatty deposits building up in your arteries. Make sure you include plenty of fruit, vegetables and starchy foods, like wholegrain bread, pasta and rice. Studies suggest diets rich in wholegrain foods can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by up to 30 per cent. You can include wholegrain food in every meal by choosing wholemeal bread and wholegrain varieties of pasta and rice. Also, foods that are high in soluble fiber, such as porridge, beans, pulses, lentils, nuts, fruits and vegetables, can help lower cholesterol. Avoid hydrogenated fats and reduce the amount of saturated fat, salt and sugar that you include in your diet. Replace saturated fats like butter, lard and ghee with small amounts of unsaturated fats such as olive oil, sunflower or corn oil. Include essential fatty acids such as omega-3s (found in oily fish). Omega -3 can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by lowering blood triglycerides, reducing blood clotting and regulating heart rhythm. Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), one of the omega-3s, is thought to be particularly beneficial for protecting against heart and blood-vessel disease, and it is found in hempseed & flaxseed.
Happy Thoughts
Our heart's close connection with our mood and emotional state means our feelings can directly affect the health of our heart. Research shows busy, stressed, adrenalin-filled lives play havoc with our heart and blood pressure. So spare a (relaxed!) thought for your heart and try to take some regular relaxation time; e.g. swimming, gentle walking, meditation, massage or yoga.
Moving to the Beat
Apparently 70% of adults do less than the recommended 30 minutes of activity five times a week. Exercise benefits the heart on several levels; it helps the heart to become stronger and more efficient, it helps to reduce stress and it helps to maintain a healthy body-weight. No need to rush off to the gym though, it's easy to become more active simply by working more activity into your everyday life, like walking to work or to the shops, taking the stairs instead of the lift, going for a swim etc.
A Backward Glance
Hundreds of years ago, people believed that the lungs, not the heart, moved blood round the body. Popular thinking at that time was that blood did not actually circulate, but instead was being constantly used up and then re-made within the body, while the heart was considered responsible for producing the body's heat. It was not until 1628 that the circulatory system as we know it became accepted, when William Harvey conducted experiments and published an influential book showing that blood circulated around the body and returned to the heart.
Power to the Plants
Plants have been used by our ancestors as heart medicines for thousands of years. Lime Blossom (Tilia europea) and Nettle Leaf (Urtica dioica) have traditionally been used to treat high blood pressure, while Buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum) contains Rutin (an anti-coagulant) and other compounds believed to strengthen and help protect blood vessels from damage. The famous modern heart drug Digitalis is derived from Foxglove. Garlic (Allium sativum) has been used as a cardiovascular medicine since ancient times (the first recorded use was in ancient Egypt 3,500 years ago) and it continues to be a popular circulatory remedy (especially Aged Garlic) in the battle against cholesterol build up. Studies suggest that Allicin (a compound in garlic) can help prevent the formation of cholesterol, and Garlic also contains powerful antioxidants shown to be useful in protecting the heart and circulatory system from free-radical damage.
So the next time you're on the treadmill, or get out of breath running to catch the bus, remember: even superheroes need a little TLC.

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.


Natural Heart Supplements

Sytrinol  Nature brings us many potent heart protectors. Sytrinol is derived from citrus and palm fruit extracts, it is an all-natural dietary supplement  to help maintain a heart-healthy blood cholesterol balance.
Carnitine is an amino acid required for the normal functioning of the heart. Carnitine transports fatty acids into mitochondria, where energy is produced within cells. Heart muscle tissue is particularly rich in mitochondria and studies suggest natural Carnitine supplements may help to improve heart function in people with high blood pressure or congestive heart failure (under the guidance of a Doctor).
Co Enzyme Q10 is a nutrient required for the proper production of energy around the body and specifically for your heart. It acts in synergy with Carnitine, and could be described as a natural heart energiser. It is highly concentrated in heart muscle cells due to the heart's high energy requirements. Low levels of Q10 are associated with premature aging and heart weakness, and studies show a strong correlation between Q10 deficiency and heart failure. Q10 also operates as a direct antioxidant in cell membranes, helping to protect the whole circulatory system. Certain medicines such as the anti-cholesterol drug, Statins, may interfere with the natural production of Q10, resulting in low levels of Q10 within the body. If you are worried about your Q10 levels and are considering supplements, Solgar provides a highly bio-available form of this nutrient, called Nutri-Nano CoQ10 .
Magnesium deficiency can cause metabolic changes, which may contribute to heart attacks and strokes. There is also evidence that low body stores of magnesium increase the risk of abnormal heart rhythms, which may increase the risk of complications associated with a heart attack. Surveys suggest higher blood levels of magnesium are linked with lower risk of coronary heart disease. Many people don't consume magnesium in the recommended amounts, and people taking long term medications (especially diuretics) may be more prone to magnesium deficiency. Green leafy vegetables such as spinach provide magnesium, and nuts, seeds, beans and some whole grains are also good sources of magnesium. Although magnesium is present in many foods, it usually occurs in small amounts, and some people choose to take a supplement.
P.S. We're not the only ones with an amazing heart. Giraffes have an extra-powerful heart with reinforced walls and high blood pressure designed to jet blood 2m vertically up its long neck. Octopuses have three hearts and blue/green blood! An elephant's heart beats just 25 times a minute, while the heart of a mouse beats 17 times every second.

Herb of the Month - Hawthorn

hawthorn We can't talk about traditional heart medicine without mentioning, Hawthorn (Crataegus spp . ) , the prickly Queen of the heart remedies. A member of the rose family, with scented snow white/blushing pink blossoms in early summer and bright red berries in autumn, our humble Hawthorn has been used in healing since at least the Middle-Ages. 

Hawthorn is still an important heart medicine today, especially for those who may be allergic or sensitive to conventional medicine. Modern medical herbalists still use Hawthorn (leaves, blossom and berries) and studies show that it acts as a tonic to the heart, stabilising heart muscle contraction and improving blood flow to the heart through its dilating action on the arteries.  Hawthorn is available as a tea , tincture , juice or even as tablets. We would generally recommend seeing a herbalist if you have a heart condition and are considering taking hawthorn.

In addition to its healing properties, Hawthorn is an ancient mystical and sacred tree, associated with fertility and affairs of the heart since the days of the Ancient Greeks and Romans. In British custom, Hawthorn is connected with traditional May Day celebrations, where the blossom symbolizes love and betrothal and fertility. Our Celtic ancestors carried flowering Hawthorn branches at weddings, to bring fertility to the union.
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 Month's Therapy: Hypnofertility and Hypnobirthing

 We are happy to announce a new member has joined the team at  Woodland Herbs!  Sian Gilmartin, an experienced hypnotherapist, specialises in using hynotherapy to support conception (hypnofertility) and to help support  the birthing process (hypnobirthing).   Many women (and men) have found these specialised techniques valuable. Hypnotherapy can be used to allow someone to achieve a very relaxed state of mind, from which they can better understand what is happening, and to manage their reactions, their stress levels and more. This can contribute to a successful pregnancy and birth. For more details visit Hypnofertility

In the shop and clinic:

Facial Revitalisation Acupuncture
Thursday 1st July 7pm - 9pm
An evening about facial revitalisation acupuncture. You will be given a demonstration of a typical treatment, and also given time to practice facial massage, including learning acupressure points to use to benefit your complexion and give a greater sense of well being. Francesca Howell and Paula Wilson will be available to answer any questions you have. [Price 10] For more information visit our website or call: 0141 564 3184.