My Toolkit – Medicinal Herbs

 My Toolkit Medicinal Herbs Sara Knight The Gut Clinic Newcastle Naturopath and Herbalist New Lambton

As a medical herbalist, there are four main areas of support I focus on with each client to achieve their optimal health and vitality.

These are:

  1. Food
  2. Medicinal herbs
  3. Nutritional supplements
  4. Lifestyle

These form the bulk of my “toolkit.”

In my previous posts, I talked about food. So let’s move on to how I use herbs to assist and support my clients.

What are Medicinal Herbs
Medicinal herbs are plants that have been identified to have medicinal properties. Not all plants are medicinal, but many are – I have access to 100’s of medicinal herbs yet predominantly use about 20-30.

Medicinal herbs are available in many different forms. As liquid forms are absorbed best, I usually use tinctures – where the therapeutic constituents from the medicinal plant have been extracted in alcohol. I also prescribe herbs in supplement form, as teas and essential oils.

Medicinal Herbs Benefits
In addition to fantastic absorption, one of the great strengths of herbs is the flexibility. I can design a single herb mix to address a number of issues, whereas it may take 2-3 supplements to achieve a similar effect. I can also change the dosing to tailor a treatment plan to best suit my client, say a dose 2-3 times or just twice a day. Or smaller doses for working with children and infants. The options are endless which means greater success in designing a treatment that works and is unique to each client.

Uses
So what do I use herbs for? Well almost everything to be honest. The main areas are:

  1. Stress support – boosting the body to be able to better deal with and respond to stress
  2. Immune support – building and supporting the immune system to not only fight off illness but prevent it
  3. Digestive –  restoring optimal digestive function – soothing issues such as reflux, bloating, constipation, diarrhoea, etc.
  4. Poor sleep – helping my clients to fall asleep easily, stay asleep and wake refreshed
  5. Mood – helping with symptoms of anxiety and low mood

There are many many more uses of medicinal herbs – these are just a few.

Examples
Many herbs you may already be familiar with, such as:

  • Lavender – a great all-rounder but especially good for anxiety and upset tummies
  • Valerian – great for sleep and relaxation

Some culinary herbs are also medicinal herbs. The lovely cinnamon is great tasting and can assist to manage healthy blood sugar levels. Sage is fantastic to help with menopausal hot flushes. 

Caution
Although there are many benefits of medicinal herbs, there are also contra-indications and warnings. So it best to get professional qualified advice before taking medicinal herbs. Some to be cautious of:

  • Licorice (one of my absolute favourites) should be not be used by those with high blood pressure
  • St John’s Wort can accelerate other drugs and herbs through your system, which can decrease their effectiveness.

Other issues to consider include using the correct species and plant part. There are over 20 species of the echinacea plant, yet only three are medicinally active. Although the leaves and stems have medicinal properties, the best part of echinacea is the root. (You can always tell a good quality medicinal echinacea as it will tingle on your tongue!) Working with a medicinal herbalist will ensure you get the best quality medicinal herbs. 

Taste
I won’t lie to you – medicinal herbs don’t always taste nice. I often joke with my clients that the worse the mix tastes, the better it will be for them. Don’t let this put you off medicinal herbs, as I have few tricks to make the truly “tasty” mixes are bit more palatable.

Despite their taste (not all of them are bad – another reason I love licorice is its sweet rich taste), medicinal herbs are amazing. Their power, versatility, flexibility, and variety are the main reasons they are such key, and favourite, part of my toolkit.

Find out more about medicinal herbs
If you would like to know more about medicinal herbs and how they can benefit you, drop me a line or come and see me at my clinic in New Lambton (Newcastle), NSW.

Naomi ChambersComment