Can Herbal Medicine Help You?

Today on the blog we’re discussing one of my most powerful tools as a naturopath –Herbal Medicine. At New Leaf Naturopathic Health we practice Western Herbal Medicine, which has roots in Europe and North America but also draws on herbs from all over the world. It is an evidenced-based model of herbal medicine and works on many different conditions.

What is Herbal Medicine?

Herbal Medicine is one of the oldest forms of medicine and in fact, has often severed as the basis for many conventional medicine products commonly used today. Take aspirin for example – this commonly used drug had its humble beginnings back in ancient Eygpt where they used Willow (Salix alba) for pain and inflammation.

Fast forward to today and we are still using herbal medicine and their various constituents (the nitty gritty science stuff) to help give your body that extra boost towards optimum health.

Using Herbal Medicine

As naturopaths, when prescribing a herbal formula we look to herbal actions to help determine the correct formula for you. We look for the synergy between herbs, combining herbal actions to create bespoke herbal tonics and tincture for each client.

But what are herbal actions you might ask?

Below are some common herbal actions. You may be surprised to find that many lie within everyday items you may already have in your kitchen.

ADAPTOGEN

Adaptogens basically assist your body with adapting. Seems simple enough but their overall effect has the ability to reach beyond the nervous system. They can extend out to help synergise your body by working with the circulatory, respiratory, digestive and reproductive systems. Their major points of emphasis revolve around tonifying and supporting the adrenal and pituitary glands, helping you deal with the various physiological stressors that you may be facing. In short, they are a big warm cuddle in a bottle.

Common Adaptogens we use in the clinic – Licorice, Rhodiola, Withania, Siberian Ginseng

CARMINATIVE

Carminatives have volatile oils – a group of plant constituents that help soothe and settle the gut. Think of them as your go to bloating and flatulence saviours! In fact, you’ve probably been drinking a common carminative for years – peppermint tea.

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Common Carminatives – Peppermint, Chamomile, Lemon balm, Fennel 

IMMUNE MODULATOR

Immune modulators help activate your bodies second line of defence (the first being your skin) by stimulating a group of small yet incredibly powerful cells that help fight off invading pathogens! Immune modulators help by strengthening your immune system and its memory to stop you from getting that awful winter running nose.

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Common Immune Modulators – Echinacea, Astralagus, Andrographis, Reishi

BITTER

Bitter’s as their name describes correctly, are plants that produce that bitter taste in your mouth or in short, a herbal aperitif! Unfortunately, this is a taste that has been weened out of our diets over the years as it’s not the most pleasant BUT bitters play a crucial role in the digestive system by stimulating your appetite, releasing digestive juices, increasing bile flow and improving liver detoxification.

Common Bitters – Gentian, Dandelion, Rocket, Lemon, Apple Cider Vinegar

ANTI-INFLAMMATORY

Anti-inflammatories as I’m sure you all know, work by reducing inflammation within the body and can do so in many different ways, dependent on their key plant constituents. The process is often much longer than your general over the counter anti-inflammatory, as with the herbal approach we are trying to work with the body and help assist in healing rather than working against it.

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Common Anti-Inflammatories – Turmeric (we all know this one), Boswellia, Willow (the original aspirin!), Licorice, Garlic

AND THERE YOU HAVE IT, A SHORT INTRODUCTION INTO THE VAST WORLD OF HERBAL MEDICINE – BE SURE TO BOOK INTO THE CLINIC IF YOU THINK ANY OF THESE MAY WORK FOR YOU!

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