Red Clover

Red Clover

Trifolium pratense

Red clover is a herb that grows wild throughout Europe and Asia. Its the lovely red flowers on this herb that get dried and used for medicinal purposes. Red clover contains many nutrients including calcium, chromium, magnesium, niacin, phosphorus, potassium, thiamin and Vitamin C. It is also a rich source of isoflavones, which are photo oestrogen’s.

This wild herb is used to assist in the treatment of several health conditions, including cancer, whooping cough, respiratory problems, skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema and even cardiovascular health and menopause symptoms.  Research has shown that red clover contains isoflavones which are plant chemicals that produce oestrogen-like effects in the body.  Research has shown these plant oestrogens have been helpful in reducing hot flushes, insomnia, bone loss, bone fractures, cardiovascular health and osteoporosis symptoms associated with menopause. It has also been shown to boost the health of the skin, scalp and nails and helps slow down the effects of ageing caused by oestrogen loss.

Red Clover appears to have blood thinning properties which helps with blood flow and keeps blood clots from forming. 

Red Clover is available in tinctures, capsules and teas.
Always use herbal medications under the supervision of your health care professional, especially if you take other medication. If you are taking blood-thinning (anti-coagulants) medications, discuss the use of Red Clover (as well as other herbal supplements such as Ginkgo, Ginger, Garlic and Vitamin E) with your health care professional before taking. 

Red Clover may interfere with Tamoxifen (a drug used to treat breast cancer and infertility).
Due to the photo-oestrogens in Red Clover, it may increase the effects of hormone replacement therapy, birth control pills and other oestrogens. 
Pregnant or breastfeeding women should not take Red Clover.


Milk Thistle

Milk Thistle

Silybum marianum

The dark green Milk Thistle plant, with leaves that look like milk has been poured over them, produces lovely pink flowers early in the summer. All parts of the plant can be eaten but its the seeds that are used medicinally.

Milk Thistle has been used for many years as a liver, gallbladder and kidney tonic, and is useful for treating numerous liver and gallbladder conditions including hepatitis and cirrhosis. It is also known to strongly protect the liver, stomach and intestines. Milk Thistle seed is very useful when chemicals, alcohol, chemotherapy or medicines compromise the liver. It helps reverse toxic liver damage and it stimulates protein synthesis in the liver, helping with the formation and growth of healthy new liver cells.
When your liver works well, generally the rest of the body does too.  It is responsible for clearing excess hormones, getting rid of chemicals that could damage the immune system and cleansing the toxicity that builds up from too much alcohol, bad food and drugs / medicines. The liver cleans the body, helping to protect it from premature ageing and degeneration. We take in dangerous chemicals through chemically fertilised and highly processed foods, through the pollution in the air and through the water that we drink. When your liver becomes toxic you can experience many different symptoms from headaches, itchy eyes, pain, confusion and depression.

There are many plants which help cleanse and strengthen the liver including dandelion, chicory, liquorice and ginger, but the most important one of them is the wonderful Milk Thistle.
Milk thistle can be taken in capsule or tincture form and should be available from your nearest pharmacy or health shop.


Dandelion

Dandelion

Taraxacum officinale 
To most people dandelions are annoying little weeds that pop up everywhere in the garden. However, they are great little plants to have in your herb garden and offer many health benefits. The whole plant can be used medicinally. Buds, flowers and leaves can be picked and eaten fresh any time. To use the dried leaves, pick them for drying when the plant is flowering. In Spring dig up the roots of two-year old plants and use fresh or dried. 
Dandelion is a bitter, slightly pungent and a little sweet tasting herb. It is known as an alterative, which means that it restores health by purifying the body. It is known to speed up the removal of inflammation and dampness from the liver, spleen, intestines and gallbladder and detoxifies the blood. It gently improves bile flow and many people find it useful as a mild laxative. Improvement in the clearance of bile has a general anti-inflammatory action and this might be the reason for its reputation for improving skin disorders.
Dandelion is rich in minerals like iron, silicon, magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, potassium, boron and vitamins A, B and C. It has been used for centuries as a natural detoxifier and cleanser.
It is a known diuretic and helpful in treating urinary infections, water retention, and loss of appetite.
Besides adding the leaves to salads or stir-fries, they can be added to smoothies during a detox to help cleanse the liver, gall bladder and reduce bloating. The dandelion buds should be picked when they’re still tight and added to raw salads, or fry them in butter.
Dandelion tinctures and capsules can be purchased from your local pharmacy or health shop if you’d like the benefits of dandelion but don’t have them growing in your garden.


Ginkgo Biloba

Ginko Biloba

Need a new brain?
Struggling with memory recall?

Why not try Ginkgo Biloba? It is sold as a herbal supplement that has been used for thousands of years in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda.  The leaves of this incredible tree are dried and prepared for medicinal use.

Please read the warning paragraph before rushing out to get your brain in a bottle!

There are two medicinal components in the Ginkgo, namely flavonoids and terpenoids. Flavonoids are anti-oxidants and they protect the nerves, heart muscle, blood vessels and retina from damage. Terpenoids improve blood flow by dilating the blood vessels and reducing the stickiness of platelets.

Ginkgo has been shown to have a positive effect on memory, especially in people with Alzheimer disease or vascular dementia. It appears to help improve thinking, learning and memory (cognitive function). As it increases blood flow to the brain, the uptake of glucose by the brain cells has been said to improve the transmission of nerve signals.

Because it improves blood flow, it increases oxygen utilisation, helping to improve memory and concentration.  It has also been shown to provide relief for people with headaches, sinusitis, vertigo and tinnitus.

Ginkgo also improves blood flow to the hands and feet. Raynaud’s disease is believed to be caused by blood vessels that over react to the cold and then spasm, thereby reducing blood flow and reducing blood flow and oxygen to the hands and feet. Ginkgo may help this condition by widening the small blood vessels.

I have recommended the use of Ginkgo to several people who have reported back to me that their memory recall has most certainly improved.  So for those of you who keep finding yourself standing in a room looking around, trying to figure out why you went in there, or you have exams coming up, or you’re needing some extra blood and oxygen flowing around that beautiful brain, consider taking some Ginkgo for a while. Just make sure you check the warnings below.  If you’re confused, send me an email or call me and we’ll chat about it.

Ginkgo can be found at your local pharmacy, Dischem, or health shop. It comes in capsule form or tinctures. The tincture is a remedy preserved in alcohol, but if you put the drops in a little boiling water, the alcohol evaporates and you’re left with the herbal drink.  You can do this with all tinctures, as that alcohol taste can be very off-putting.

Warning:

Stop taking Ginkgo 1-2 weeks before surgery or dental procedures due to the risk of bleeding.
People with epilepsy should not take Ginkgo and neither should pregnant and breastfeeding women.
Ginkgo may also react with some prescription medications, so please take note of the following list:

  • Seizure or anticonvulsant medication
  • Antidepressants (SSRI’s)
  • Medications for high blood pressure (Ginkgo may lower blood pressure, so taking it with blood pressure medication could cause the blood pressure to drop too low)
  • Blood thinning medications such as warfarin (coumadin), clopidogrel (plavix) and aspirin.
  • Alprazolam (Xanax) or drugs to treat anxiety
  • Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID’s) raise the risk of bleeding, so don’t take in conjunction with Ginkgo.
  • Medications to lower blood sugar. Not to be taken with Diabetic meds unless you’ve cleared it with your doctor.
  • Thiazide diuretics – please consult your doctor if you’re on water pills before taking Ginkgo.
  • Trazodone (Desyrel) an antidepressant prescribed for Alzheimer patients.