If you've ever seen a naturopath or a herbalist you'll know all about our love of herbal medicine. Many of our patients are prescribed Western Herbal Medicine in the form of tea, tinctures, powders and capsules (can we call them potions as well?).
A herbal dispensary can look like a room full of magical wizardry tonics, but in fact, herbal medicine is a very well-established, well-researched and evidence-informed practice. It's one of our favourite tools of our naturopathic practice.
To celebrate Herbal Medicine Week, we thought we'd share our Top Six Herbs. These are the herbs we use the most in our dispensary; the ones that all of us love and you'll discover that many of them have a varied range of action as well. It may also give you an insight into the types of conditions we like to treat - mood support, immunity, stress and adrenal fatigue!
All the New Leaf practitioners have told a little story about how they use these herbs and why they love them...
There is not just one herb for everyone; herbal medicines are complex substances, the active constituents (thats the stuff that make them work) are so complex, with many herbs containing hundreds of them in each drop! It is the synergy of these naturally occurring chemicals and the blends of them in the bottle that create their potent impact on your health.
Do you know how herbal medicine can help you?
Herbal medicine really is the first medicine and the people's medicine. We love introducing our patients to its benefits, and getting them used to the taste! We also recommend speaking with a qualified herbalist when taking herbs - even though they are "just plants and natural", they are potent and at New Leaf we always check that the herbs you're taking are safe for you, the medication you are on or the health condition you have.
Want to know what our Top Six Herbal Medicines are.... read on.
Jac: It's no surprise this is our #1 dispensed herb. I describe (and prescribe!) Withania as a big hug. It envelopes you in its embrace to nourish resilience and provide support. It calms and strengthens and is of such benefit for stress adaptation and Building You Up.
Han: There couldn’t be a better description than a Hug in a bottle - calming, relaxing, supportive. You may know this herb as Ashwagandha. Although people are taking it in their coffees, smoothies and chocolate these days - it is one of those medicines that has a few contraindications with conditions and medications so always best to speak with a herbalist to see if it's right for you.
Han: It took me a while to come around to the wonders of medicinal mushrooms in the clinic, but the last few years have made these beautiful fungi sparkle with their immune and adaptogen properties so it’s no wonder Reishi has hit the top 6 list. Reishi contains around 400 different bioactive compounds, which is a huge and no wonder its shown to support the cardiovascular systems, as digestive & liver support with a huge focus on the immune system as an anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory.
Sophia: such a great immune support, great for post covid, and safe for so many people to take. We gave it to many people in the northern rivers after the floods to support their immune systems and for mould toxicity support, and it has the added bonus of being an adaptogen, which we all needed at the time.
Jac: 'Passionflower' sounds divine doesn't it? And it is. Passionflower calms anxiety, soothes stress, and at the right dose, promotes sleep as well. Picture the passionflower plant, and then imagine those curly tendrils getting into your every nook and cranny to Calm the Farm Down…
Sophia: I love it because its calming and great and anxiety, and for sleep but you don’t wake up groggy nor does it make you sleepy during the day. “It’s like magic”. Use it ongoing, or as you need, it is a beautiful and very safe herb! Its great as a tea if you’re feeling a bit wound up to bring you back to planet earth, add some peppermint for flavour.
Han: Holy Basil, also known as Tulsi or The Queen of Herbs. I love it in my mixes for those wired and tired patients. It is an adaptogen, but not super stimulating, it's also got a lovely supportive immune action. So for fatigued, stressed, mildly anxious and depleted people Holy Basil is for you. It also makes a delicious herbal tea with some ginger!
Bronwyn: Another aspect to this herb is its spiritual significance across many cultures. In Ayruveda it is considered a sattvic herb, able to diffuse with divine energy and heighten awareness and mental clarity, opening the mind and heart. Yes please!
Han: A sweet and warming herb, it's beautiful for all sticky, itchy skin conditions such as eczema but it shines as a nervous system tonic. It is described as hydrating of the nerves - so for those frazzled and wired patients to help slow that hyperactivity of the nervous system.
Bronwyn: some herbs can be even better when taken together! Passionflower and oats for example combine to make a soothing and calming tonic to take acutely in times of stress, but can also be helpful with things like easing withdrawal symptoms when giving up smoking
Jac: Astragalus is a key immune modulating herb - its actions are more than simply 'immune boosting' or 'immune suppressing'. Astragalus will meet you where you're at. Need some post-viral immune restoration? Done! Need some immune-boosting in the face of recurrent infection? Yah! Need some balancing out of autoimmune tendencies? Totally got you..."