This month, here’s a guest post from my colleague Jane Placca, The Manchester Herbalist about warming medicinal herbs (below)…
Sistahintheraw has asked me to talk to you about warming herbs and so I am going to mention a few that are easy to obtain and will help you make remedies that will combat colds and flu in the winter months.
Freshly sliced Ginger (Zingiber officinalis) combines well with Lemon and Honey in a hot drink, especially when you are feeling unwell and have lost your appetite. Ginger calms the stomach and helps when feeling nauseous, Lemon gives vitamin C and alkalises the system and Honey gives nutrition in the form of glucose, sucrose, fructose, minerals and vitamins and has antibacterial qualities.
As well as Ginger, Yarrow will help the blood circulation (and peripheral circulation) and combines well with Elderflower (Sambucus nigra) and Peppermint (Mentha piperita) to make a warming tea that will help your immune system and also as a remedy for colds and flu.
Liquorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) and Thyme (Thymus officinalis) can be nicely combined in a cough syrup. Liquorice protects the upper respiratory tract and is warming and soothing and calms coughs NB use with caution if you are hypertensive, as it can raise your blood pressure. Thyme is antibacterial, antifungal and anti-infective and can also be combined with Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis), which helps with colds, fevers and catarrh.
Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) is warming and calming for the stomach and gut (it can help with flatulence). Coltsfoot (Tussilago farfare) is a soothing expectorant (helps you cough up mucus) and soothes the chest and provides zinc, which helps in fighting infection.
Mediterranean herbs like Thyme, Sage (Salvia officinalis), Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) and Oregano (Origanum vulgare) are useful to add to your food as they are anti-infective.
Cinnamon (Cinnamomum aromatica), Cloves (Syzgium aromaticum) and Nutmeg (Myristica fragrans) are warming and have been used for many years to flavour sweets, puddings and mulled wine and also can lower blood sugar and calm the stomach; they can be used as a flavouring for rice pudding.
Garlic (Allium sativum) is a very warming herb and is known as an amphoteric, which means it will adapt to help your condition, if you have low BP it can raise it, if you have high BP it can lower it. It is a well-known culinary herb that can help with colds, flu, bronchial asthma, bronchitis, sinusitis and hay fever. It is cardio protective, which means that it can protect against heart problems but should be used with caution if the person is using anti-coagulant or anti-platelet drugs and should be discontinued 10 days before surgery.
Most of the herbs that I have mentioned above are culinary herbs and foods but some do have to be used with caution, especially with synthetic medicines that your GP may prescribe, which can interact with herbal medicines.
Medicinal herbs affect the body, usually this is in the form of a complete remedy that will enable your body to more easily heal itself. However the effect is dependent on dosage, anything that you ingest can have adverse effects if too much or too little is prescribed. Therefore it is important to contact a professional Medical Herbalist that is a member of a professional body that applies certain standards for its members. They will also have a minimum qualification requirement. Anyone can call themselves an herbalist with only minimal training. If you consult a Medical Herbalist you can be assured that they had had medical education and clinical training that is overseen by other medical professionals. Any reputable Medical Herbalist will refer you to your GP if there is any doubt about a course of treatment. If you are interested in training as a Medical Herbalist contact either the National Institute of Medical Herbalists or the College of Practitioners of Phytotherapy; they both hold a register of Medical Herbalists should you wish to contact a professional in your area.
Jane Placca. BSc (Hons) MNIMH
Jane Placca achieved a BSc (Hons) in Herbal Medicine, and is a full member of NIMH, the National Institute of Medical Herbalists; she practices in Manchester and will shortly have a clinic in Southwark, London.
Jane originally learned about herbal medicine from her grandmother and followed the Lancashire herbal tradition, working with local herbal remedies. Jane’s professional medical training and clinical experience informed her about the importance of diet and safely using herbs that can support our bodies and rebalance our health.
Jane worked with traditional healers in Lesotho, producing and distributing herbal tinctures and Aloe skincare products; she has also practiced herbal medicine in Brasil.
She is currently involved with research into the efficacy of medicinal mushrooms in supporting the immune system at local community gardening projects and is supported by Manchester University’s Innovation Centre. Contact her for an informal talk, clinical appointment, home visit or a Skype consultation.
+44 (0)7944 916 196