Herbfacts

Lifestyle changes and herbal help for better health

The New Year is traditionally associated with new beginnings and lifestyle changes. But anytime is a good time to tweak your lifestyle for the sake of your health.

Here are some top tips on how to get started from editor Jane Garton.

CUT BACK ON ALCOHOL

The benefits of reducing your alcohol intake are significant. Cutting down can increase weight loss, improve your overall mood as well as boosting immunity.

Why not make up your mind to reduce your alcohol intake and support your liver at the same time with a dose of milk thistle. This herbal remedy works by enhancing and strengthening the liver by preventing the depletion of glutathione – a compound that is essential to the detox process.

DESTRESS

Research shows that stress levels are at an all time high in the workplace and too much stress can affect every aspect of your health. So if it starts to take hold you need to take action fast. And this is where rhodiola comes into its own. It is what is known as an adaptogen herb making it the perfect remedy for reducing fatigue, and building up strength and energy – exactly what you need when the pressure starts to rise.

The active ingredients of rhodiola include rhodioloside, tyrosol, p-tyrosol, which work both together and with many other compounds to give the plant its healing powers. It is thought to affect the function of neurotransmitters, the brain chemicals that transport messages between nerves and help to regulate mood and other brain functions. Another plus point of rhodiola is that it works fast and is non addictive.

GET 8 HOURS OF SLEEP A NIGHT

Start the year as you mean to go on and establish a regular going-to-sleep and getting-up routine. It will do wonders for your wellbeing. But what if when your head hits the pillow and you simply can’t drop off? A dose of valerian may be just what’s needed to transport you into the world of nod.

Extracts of valerian root contain natural compounds known as iridoids that have a calming effect on the nervous system, which can help to relax you, putting you in the mood for sleep. Valerian is often combined with other herbs such as lemon balm and hops, both of which have calming properties.

LEARN TO RELAX

Make this year that you learn to chill out. We all deserve at least 20 minutes a day to ourselves when we can lie back in a hot bath, or get stuck into a good book, listen to some calming music or simply just sit and be. And if you find it hard to switch off and start to feel anxious the herbal relaxants, such as valerian and passion flower do just that – they aid relaxation. They are also good for insomnia and general anxiety as well as for helping to reduce the physical effects of stress, such as tense muscles and digestive problems.

LOOK AFTER YOUR BACK

Back pain is the most common reason for absenteeism in the workplace in the UK and it affects around 70% of us at some time in our lives. To help avoid a visit to the doctor or an expensive session with an osteopath why not try some devil’s claw? It can also be beneficial if you suffer from rheumatic or muscular pain, or general aches and pains in the muscles and joints.