Birthdays, weddings, and celebrations – time to eat, drink and be merry. But we might not feel so merry the next day! Medical herbalist Gabriella Clarke looks at some top herbs that will help you enjoy the party but stay in the best possible health.
Parties are a great time for spending time with friends and family as well as providing a good excuse to overindulge in food and drink. Of course we all want to have a good time, but too much over indulging can reap havoc with our livers and digestive systems.
Any colds, flu or tummy bugs doing the rounds can also quickly put a damper on any festivities. So here are some of the wonderful natural remedies we can arm ourselves with to help us enjoy these celebrations to the full.
Our livers will be working overtime and may need extra support. When it comes to boosting liver function and digestion, milk thistle is the number one herb. It has a protective action and may help counteract some of the effects of toxins, especially alcohol. Rich diets may also predispose some of us to gallstones and milk thistle may help to treat or prevent this painful condition. The reason? It contains a substance known as silymarin, which it is thought may help reduce cholesterol concentration in the bile, which in turn helps reduce the incidence of gallstones in susceptible people.
If you suffer from bloating, flatulence and digestive discomfort, artichoke is worth considering. Its also great for IBS sufferers who find their symptoms often get worse at this time of year. What’s more, artichoke also helps encourage the colonisation of healthy bacteria in the gut. Don’t forget that the gut is responsible for around 70 per cent of our immune function. So keep in mind this wonderful supplement for great digestion and a healthy immune system.
This wonderful herb is native to Russia, Siberia and Northern Europe. If you are looking for a quick fix to manage your stress then this is the herb for you. Rhodiola is what is know as an adaptogen which means it can help the body adapt to physical and emotional stress. It can also help to induce a state of calm whilst at the same time improving energy levels.
In addition rhodiola extract may help support the immune system, giving us extra protection from colds and flu and other seasonal bugs; it is thought to enhance immunity by increasing the levels of natural killer cells in the spleen and stomach.
Echinacea is probably one of the best-known herbs for the prevention and treatment of viral infections. One of the biggest studies undertaken of this herb by the Cardiff University Common Cold Centre showed that taking echinacea not only reduces the incidence of contracting the virus but also, if taken early in higher doses, may actually reduce the duration of the virus as well as reducing the risk of secondary infections such as chest infections.
Scientists from the University of Connecticut School of Pharmacy also reviewed over a dozen studies on the effects of echinacea on people’s risk of catching a cold. They concluded that echinacea can reduce the chances of catching a cold by approximately 58%.
There has been so much encouraging research on pelargonium that it definitely deserves a space in your medicine cabinet. It can be used in the treatment of colds, sore throats, bronchitis, runny nose, blocked nose, coughs and respiratory infections. A study carried out in the Ukraine showed that not only does it reduce the severity of symptoms but also shortens the duration of the virus.
Pelargonium may also be useful for treating cases of pharyngitis and tonsillitis on account of its soothing anti-inflammatory properties. One study indicated that it is particularly effective in treating strep throat in children. It is available as a tablet and can be found as a key ingredient in some cough syrups.