Blooming Summer…

With the warm sun in the sky, the soft grass under our feet and the beautiful array of Summer flowers in full bloom its hard for most of us to see how anybody could not be enjoying this time of year. (Mind you, at the time of going to press who knows what the Kent weather will be like, but we can hope…) However, there are a number of health conditions made worse by the heat of Summer.

Blooming Summer

Some conditions are exacerbated by heat, some even being caused by an excess of internal heat within the body. Eczema can be particularly bad during the Summer months and a real danger period (especially for children) is the warm nights. It can be more difficult to concentrate on not scratching when half asleep, causing skin to break and be more susceptible to infection. A soothing wash with cooled and refrigerated tea of Chamomilla recutita (chamomile) and/or Mentha piperita (peppermint) may provide some relief. The latter has the benefit of also being a mild insect repellent too! Remember to keep the tea in the fridge though, and discard after 48 hours. More difficult cases may respond to a cream made from Stellaria media (chickweed) – this helps cool the skin, heal and relieve the ‘itchy’ sensation. Chronic cases of eczema may require consultation with a qualified Medical Herbalist to address the condition internally too.

Another irritating problem of the Summer is insect bites. Some lucky people just don’t get bitten… others do but only mild irritation is caused. However, some approach the Summer with dread, knowing that they will be covered in huge, inflamed bites once the insects are around. To help reduce inflammation, relieve the itch and provide antiseptic protection you can try applying pure essential oil of Lavandula officinalis (lavender). Herbal lotions are available too with a combination of ingredients should you need something stronger. If you are very prone to being bitten you might benefit from a one to one consultation with a Medical Herbalist – it may be that the toxic load of your body is too great and there may be changes you can make to make you less susceptible. An individualised prescription of herbs may be necessary to help balance your body – hypersensitivity to bites can be indicative of a poorly functioning immune system.

Lynda Jones BSc (Hons) Medical Herbalist

Share

Eczema

Eczema

What is eczema?

Eczema is a skin condition affecting all ages. Sufferers have either an intermittent or constant red/pink, hot and itchy rash appearing anywhere but commonly affecting the hands, behind the knees and inside of the elbow joints. The rash can be extremely uncomfortable and may become infected if left untreated.

What is eczema caused by?

It can be caused from exposure to external irritants when it is sometimes referred to as ‘contact dermatitis’. More often the cause is internal. Many herbalists view itchy red skin conditions as a result of too much heat in the body – it is an indication that, internally, something is out of balance. Perhaps the liver is overworked, maybe there are food intolerances or the elimination mechanisms may be disturbed. Stress may also be playing a part.

How is eczema treated?

If an external or dietary cause can be identified, avoiding it may alleviate the symptoms. Use of a cooling and soothing cream made from chickweed may help control the itch. Chamomile and marigold flowers are both antiseptic and promote healing – they may help nourish the skin and reduce inflammation.

For many people eczema is caused by a combination of factors and a course of internal treatment is usually recommended. Seeking the advice of a fully qualified medical herbalist may help establish the best way to tackle stubborn eczema.

Lynda Jones BSc (Hons) Medical Herbalist

Share

Allergy Epidemic?


 

Herbal Medicine Can Often Help

Allergies, intolerances or hypersensitivities are big news lately. It is reported that never before have so many people been sensitive to environmental and food allergens. If you, or someone you know, suffers from hayfever, rhinitis (hayfever-like symptoms all year round), persistent cough, itchy throat, skin problems (including persistent nappy rash), digestive or appetite disturbances, asthma, itchy eyes, thrush or recurrent infections you may have become ‘hypersensitive’.

The advice from many health professionals is to completely avoid the allergenic substance. In some cases, such as severe peanut allergy involving anaphylactic shock, this may be the only way. But, is there an alternative? As a Medical Herbalist and Allergy Therapist, I prefer to take a two-pronged approach to allergies. Allergy testing, which I carry out using some simple and painless equipment which gives immediate results, can be a helpful way of identifying the substances to which a person has developed intolerance.

But what of the sensitivity within the person as a whole – why has this allergy manifested, and why now? There may be a number of factors contributing to the hypersensitivity. Firstly a person`s constitution, which can often have a hereditary aspect to it: people from families with a tendency to asthma, bronchitis, hayfever and eczema often have a higher than usual incidence of allergies. People can be devastated to find that they are allergic to a much loved family pet, or to invisible environmental moulds in their beautiful home. Avoidance in these cases may be a difficult option.

An alternative solution to avoidance is to take an in-depth look at the patient and establish what changes can be made to decrease their hypersensitivity. The body has the capacity to tolerate a certain amount of substances to which it is sensitive, but then it may reach a point where the load becomes too great and the symptoms appear: this is simply the body`s way of bringing something to our notice that needs attention! You will often hear people say that they `used to have` hayfever or a food intolerance, but now they no longer do: if you think about it, this means that their own bodily functions have improved, because the substances they used to have reactions to have not changed! A well-functioning digestive and immune system will effectively clear these substances from the body without causing any uncomfortable symptoms. A qualified Medical Herbalist may prescribe medicines depending on a personal assessment of the individual, to address hypersensitivity by improving those functions in the body which are involved in allergies and intolerances. Examples of commonly used herbs include Urtica dioica (stinging nettle), Chamomilla recutita (german chamomile), Sambucus nigra flos (elderflowers), Taraxacum officinalis radix (dandelion root) and Stellaria media (chickweed).

Any number of factors affecting the functioning of the body may impact on the body’s ability to cope with allergens rendering it hypersensitive. Examples may include a recent change in diet or lifestyle, a sudden or sustained stress, a change in the demands on the body such as puberty, childbirth or menopause: all these and more put extra demands on the body. This may help explain why allergies seemingly ‘appear from nowhere’. For further details please contact me.

Lynda Jones BSc (Hons) Medical Herbalist

Share