Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Festive Excess

We all know that Christmas is a time for fun, frivolities and excess with family gatherings, endless parties and permanent hangovers. However, with all this comes a certain tension, stress, anxiety and worry. Family gatherings are not always a fun time as people don't see each other that often and spending more time than usual with family members can result in tension, arguments and relationships at breaking point. Here are some tips to help you cope with the festive season and some practical measures on how to maintain health & well-being (not to mention sanity!):
  • it is OK to indulge as long as you moderate things. Try healthier options and limit your intake of alcohol or drink plenty of water to compensate
  • plan well ahead and be organised - this will avoid you rushing around at the last minute & getting stressed. Write a list if necessary
  • delegate some of the chores and tasks - that way, you don't get exhausted and feel disapppointed if you don't achieve what you set out to do. You can't do everything!
  • try to fit in some time for yourself during the festive season - such as relaxation, catching up with friends, have a massage, see a film, have some quiet time, read your favourite magazines etc...
  • try to fit in some exercise so that you remain physically and mentally robust for the impending hive of activity over the festive season. This will also help you de-stress and help you remain calm
  • take some supplements to boost your immunity (such as a good brand multivitamin & mineral supplement and echinacea or ginseng to ward off any colds at this time)
  • get plenty of sleep as far as possible as this will help you remain in good health over the busy period
These are just a few tips on how to get through the busy festive period maintaining good health and ensuring a harmonious environment for all your friends and family throughout Christmas & the New Year. It is a time for celebration and for enjoying all that is good in our lives, cherishing our family and remembering the true meaning of Christmas which is often forgotten at this special time. Remembering to savour all that is good with our loved ones rather than focussing on the bad is a good way forward to really enjoy this season of good will and cheer.


Thursday, 12 November 2009

Herb of the Month - Californian Poppy

Modern living and the current stresses within a recession can leave us frazzled and yearning for a good night's sleep. Popular commercial preparations containing valerian have brought herbal sedatives to public attention but medical herbalists have long since prescribed a host of other equally useful and effective remedies. One of these is Californian poppy. It helps with sleeplessness, anxiety, nervous tension, nerve pain and headache. It is also a valuable remedy in treating physical and psychological problems in children, often considered in the treatment of bedwetting, over-excitability or where the child is experiencing difficulty in sleeping. Although it is not considered the herb of choice in depression, it is very useful in addressing insomnia, anxiety and restlessness that can accompany depressive states. The herb is best taken at bedtime, usually as a soothing tea or a tincture, often in combination with other sedating and relaxing herbs such as valerian, hops, passion flower, lemon balm or chamomile.
Contact the NIMH ( for advice on taking herbs for insomnia or for any other condition. Never self-medicate without professional advice from a fully qualified and registered practitioner and always consult your GP if prescription drugs are already being taken for an existing condition.

Friday, 23 October 2009

Herb of the Month - Rhodiola

Rhodiola rosea (Artic Root or simply Rhodiola) is not a well known herb like Echinacea or St. John's Wort but it is fast becoming a very popular commercial supplement owing to its versatility and effectiveness in combating the symptoms of modern living, particularly stress. Its traditional use (in eastern Europe and Asia) as a nervous system stimulant and as an antidepressant has much appeal today as it ever did. Rhodiola is thought to invigorate the body and mind by increasing its resistance to a multitude of chemical, biological and physical stressors. The main reason it is so popular, and probabaly more so than St. John's Wort is that it has effective antidepressant properties without the numerous side effects and known interactions of St. John's Wort. Rhodiola boosts energy levels, enhances nervous system activity, promotes better sleep, improves appetite, combats irritability and stress, alleviates headaches, improves fatigue and reduces high blood pressure. It is also good at protecting the heart and circulatory system.
Commercial preparations can vary greatly but a therapeutic dose of 3.6-6.14mg a day in a standardised extract formulation is usually considered safe and effective. However, specialists advice from a fully qualified and registered herbalist is strongly advised.
To find a practitioner in your local area, go to

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Coping with Stress in a Recession

In a climate of recession, many are facing a number of difficulties. Stress and anxiety are common symtoms, not exclusive to the current economic climate. Most people would not consider it 'rocket science' to work out that whatever factor is causing them stress (called the stressor) could also be making them ill. However, due to the body's remarkable capacity to cope with stress, this connection between the stressor and symptoms is not always so glaringly obvious. There are many causes of stress including work, relationships with family or partner, financial anxiety, threat of redundancy, increased workloads etc... Insidious and subtle manifestations are difficult to diagnose but very often, examining the wider influences on the person and identifying any contributory factors will make diagnosis and treatment that much more effective.

Common stress-related symptoms:
  • headache (computer overuse, worry, eye strain)
  • sinusitis (infection of the sinuses - reduced immune defences)
  • recurring colds (reduced defences due to prolonged & sustained stress)
  • palpitations (anxiety - a number of different causes)
  • skin problems (stress, anxiety, worry)
  • hair loss (worry, anxiety, stress, poor diet, hormonal influences)

Much of the work of herbalists involves examining stress and addressing symptoms of stress within a holistic context. Herbs can be a powerful and effective remedy. Examining lifestyle choices (diet, exercise, recreational pursuits, relaxation techniques, hobbies etc...) can give real meaning to lives of patients so that they are empowered to make improvements so that they can achieve a sustainable and manageable work-life balance.

Contact for more advice on herbal remedies for tackling stress or the Federation of Holistic Therapists ( for other supportive therapies in coping with stress-related symptoms and general holistic counselling.

Monday, 28 September 2009

Gearing up for Winter - Part 3

The health of the nerves should always take priority if you are prone to stress and easily suffer the ill-effects of it. Enabling the body to cope with stressful demands is one aspect of treatment. Herbs such as Siberian ginseng or Indian ginseng are excellent for treating stress and helping the body cope with the stress response. Equally, chamomile, lemon balm, passion flower or lime flowers are wonderful at combating anxiety and nervousness during times of stress. The popular St. John's Wort is always a consideration if symptoms of anxiety or panic attacks also accompany mild to moderate depression. Like all herbs, St. John's Wort needs to be taken with care because of its known interactions with certain medications and other supplements. Sleep is another important issue and will be discussed at length in a later dedicated posting as not enough emphasis is placed on its powerful and rejuvenating benefits. Sleep is profoundly affected by stress so the atttributes of proper sleep is critical to good health, vitality, mood and energy.
For more information and advice visit or for natural ways to combat and cope with stress and modern living.

Monday, 21 September 2009

Gearing up for Winter - Part 2

Boosting circulation is important in boosting defence against infection; it will help promote good health during the chilly winter months. Circulatory stimulants are also important; they act either near the heart and surrounding blood vessels (such as hawthorn) or near the surface of the skin (such as ginger or ginkgo). Improving blood flow will enable the body to derive the best from the diet with a proper balance of thos vital vitamins and minerals. This can enhance weight loss regimes without compromising on essential nutrients as well as maintain energy levels which often lags with a poor diet. These important changes can be made through initial consultations with a medical herbalist or a clinical nutritionist. This process can address a host of nutritional deficiencies as well as medical problems associatd with a bad diet. Improving the quality of the diet will automatically improve the nutritional status and consequently help ward off the many ailments that are common during the winter months. It will also optimise health and well-being. Herbal immune boosters will also be essential particularly if susceptible to infections - herbs such as echinacea is great as a prophylactic (taken as a preventative measure) but others such as ginseng and garlic can also be extremely useful.
Seek help by consulting a medical herbalist (find a registered practitioner through or a clinical nutritionist (find a registered practitioner through

Friday, 18 September 2009

Gearing up for Winter - Part 1

In the context of the recent swine flu pandemic, many are concerned about their own susceptibility to the infection and have sought help in boosting their own immunity and defence against the illness. Of course, swine flu is just one of a host of infections that anyone can get if the immune system is deficient and is poor at combating infection and disease.
The onset of Autumn is a great time to give the body a proper MOT and to ensure that it is in tip-top condition to fight off the many ailments that are common at this time of year. Without resorting to radical drugs and fad diets, there are a variety of therapies, treatments and supplements that can help regain the natural balance through alternative methods towards optimum health and vitality. Detoxifying the body is the perfect way to begin in preparing the body for the many stresses and strains of winter. Eliminating the many impurities and toxins that have accumulated in the body throughout the year will ease congestion and can clear the way for improved immune responses. This will increase resistance to infections (eg. coughs, colds, sniffles, chill etc...) at a particularly vulnerable time for all of us. Herbs such as dandelion and milk thistle are excellent for liver health; the liver being a main organ of detoxification. These herbs can help repair some of the damage done to the liver cells and help protect the organ against further damage. Other herbs such as artichoke will assist with digestion, particularly if a high fat diet is proving difficult to digest. Improving bowel elimination with herbal laxatives such as rhubarb or senna can help in more advanced cases and will help in the detox process. However, it is not sensible to continue taking herbal laxatives on any long-term basis as it will make the bowel lazy and will lead to a worsening of the problem with added complications. Seek proper advice from a herbalist and a nutritionist before self-medicating as it is always best to improve digestion and go on a detox through making effective changes in poor dietary habits.
Seek help by contacting a herbalist ( and a nutritionist ( for more specific help with herbal medicines, herbal supplements, diet and nutrition.