Asteraceae family – the Daisy Family

As I mentioned last week I will be exploring the different plant families and their benefits.  This week is one of my favourite family – the daisy family.  This was originally known as the composite family and contains the largest number of plants all over the world.  I am sure that there will be several members of this amazing family nearby – it is such a beautiful day why not go out and explore to see what is growing near you.

The Asteraceae family contains mainly herbs and is the most evolutionary advanced plant family.  A lot of the species within this family can be used as medicine, several species are cultivated for food such as chicory, lettuce and artichoke and sunflowers (for their nutritious seeds), plants are used economically too – did you know that the oil from marigolds is used in the cola making industry? and to top of their amazing versatility a lot of the species produce high quantities of nectar which benefit bees, various pollinators and wildlife in general

The name Asteraceae is derived from the type genus: “Aster”, though this family was also known as “Composite” which refers to the this family’s characteristic flowers.  The flower heads contain numerous individual sessile flowers which we see as a whole.  Examples of medicinal herbs in this family include:                    

Dandelion in full bloom. A great digestive herb to be avoided if you suffer from gallstones.

Dandelion in full bloom. A great digestive herb to be avoided if you suffer from gallstones.

 

Marigolds, seem as sunshine herbs are great for boosting both mind and body

Marigolds, seem as sunshine herbs are great for boosting both mind and body

Other examples include chamomile, echinacea, wormwood, mugwort, sunflower, goldenrod, yarrow, burdock and milk thistle.

The constituents of the Asteraceae Family

Prominent common active constituents include sesquiterpene lactones.  There are over 3000 sesquiterpene lactones which we know of so far and a large majority are from this plant family.  These constituents have anti inflammatory and anti microbial actions and they tend to concentrate in leaves and flowers.  The down side of sesquiterpene lactones is that they can cause contact dermatitis in humans and the most common plant allergen in contact dermatitis is plants within this family although scientific research is looking into their use as anti-cancer agents.

Other common constituents include the volatile oils – these are monoterpenes or sesquiterpenes and are commonly known as essential oil.  Fragrant flowers in the asteraceae family will contain these – chamomile is a great example of this.

Chamomile grows wild in Grimsby but can be commonly misidentified with pineapple weed - this is from the same family but has no scent.

Chamomile grows wild in Grimsby but can be commonly misidentified with pineapple weed – this is from the same family but has no scent.

Here are some recipes which utilise plants from this family:

Dandelion Burdock Early Spring Cleanser

You will need:

2 heaped dessert spoons of dandelion root

2 heaped dessert spoons of burdock root

2 large slices of lemon, chopped into strips

1 teaspoon of honey

1 pint of water

Just put all the ingredients except the honey into a pan and simmer for ten minutes, adding the sugar once you’ve taken the mixture off the hob.  You can drink this mixture hot or cold – its a really pleasant drink either way, but is certainly more refreshing drunk cold.  I’m going to try this with slices of fresh root ginger in the next batch, as well as some dandelion leaf!   The nice thing about this mix is that you can boil the ingredients back up with another pint of water for a slightly less punchy but just as refreshing mixture, then compost the remaining herbs.

The daisy has medicinal and culinary uses

The daisy has medicinal and culinary uses

The common daisy is considered to have astringent, demulcent, expectorant, digestive and tonic properties. Used internally, Daisy can be an effective herbal remedy against cold, cough and digestive complaints. In form of an infusion, Common Daisy is beneficial in cases of arthritis, catarrh, hepatic and renal disorders, diarrhoea and rheumatism. Its external use, as a poultice or addition to bath, can help in cases of wound healing, rashes, wounds and skin inflammations.

Use young daisy leaves raw in spring salads.  The leaves are excellent as a cooked spring vegetable, and in soups and sauces and as flavouring or seasoning.

Some countries use daisy leaves as a pot herb – a vegetable used to flavour dishes.

DAISY GREENS

Pick young daisy leaves and wash then quickly in slightly salted water.  Put a little water in a pan and add a pinch of salt.  When boiling put in the greens.  Cover and cook for about 7-10 minutes.  Serve with a dab of butter and freshly ground black pepper.

I hope that you are enjoying this series 🙂

Solanaceae family – Deadly Nightshade Family

Over the next few weeks I am going to look at the different plant families and their medicinal and culinary value.

This family of plants is known as the nightshade family and has been a source of food or spice, medicine, poison and pleasure to man throughout the ages.  The family includes herbs, shrubs, trees, vines and creepers – although this is commonly named the deadly nightshade family there are several family members which you may eat on a regular basis!!.  

Understanding the botany can help to identify members of the family when out and about.  If you have ever grown the edible ones you will have a good image of their common characteristics.  They have been described botanically having alternate leaves that are usually stalked, without stipules.  The flowers have five petals, shaped like a bell or a wheel with five stamens projecting in a column.  The fruits of the Solanaceae family have been described as berries or capsules with either two or four cells.  Family members of this family are very concentrated in Central and South America suggesting they may have originated from this continent.

Europe and Africa contain around 85 different genera within the family and 2,800 species.  As I mentioned earlier there are several which are edible and you may grow or have in your kitchen… Can you think of any?

Of the poisonous side of the family – well high in alkaloids so can be toxic… there is Mandrake (featured in the Harry Potter films, ironically I grew this in my garden and it was eaten by slugs… but not flesh eating slugs lol), Deadly Nightshade, Henbane, Tobacco, Thorn Apple/datura/jimsonweed, Bittersweet, and boxthorn.

And from the edible side of the family there is the humble potato, the delicious tomato, aubergines/eggplants, the spice paprika and the delicious superfood goji berry or Duke or Argyll’s Tea Plant 🙂

Did you guess any?  Do you have any of these in your kitchen or garden?

Phytochemically the Solanaceae family are characterized by the numerous alkaloids found in its constituents.  Modern medicine is highly interested in alkaloids because of the effect they have on the body.

The constituents of the Solanaceae family

Nicotina spp. contain alkaloids which are formed on the same biosynthetic pathway as the tropane alkaloids detailed in the table below.  The alkaloids are found in the leaves of the nicotine plant and in concentrated amounts can be fatal to a human being; the lethal dose is around 40-60mg!!  The alkaloid has a pharmacological effect on the human body within minutes of being inhaled, ingested or absorbed through the skin, stimulating blood pressure and the gastro intestinal organs or blocking the bodies functions causing respiratory paralysis or convulsions.  These herbs are dangerous and there are restrictions on their sale and use.  As a herbalist I am authorised to use them as medicine as I have been trained on the correct use and dose.  As you are aware the tobacco trade is highly regulated too!!

Name of Alkaloid Species containing Alkaloid Actions on the body

Ester Alkaloids of the Tropane Group

L-hyosoyamine Atropa

Datura

Hyosoyamus

Parasympathetic properties:

Restricts salivary, sweat and bronchiol glands.  Inhibits gastro intestinal motility.  Relaxes the gall-bladder, urinary blagger and uterus.  High doses stimulates the cerebral cortex.

L-scopolamine Mandragora

Duboisia

Scopolia

Parasympathetic properties:

Restricts salivary, sweat and bronchiol glands.  Inhibits gastro intestinal motility.  Relaxes the gall-bladder, urinary blagger and uterus.  In small doses acts as a motor depressant.  High doses cause twilight sleep.

 

This data has been extracted from: Frohne, D. Jürgen Pfander, H. (2005) Poisonous Plants Second Edition. Manson Publishing Limited.

“Knowledge of a plants botanical relationships can increase general awareness of the plant, its potential chemical profile, and possible similarities of pharmacological actions.”

I need to stress that the toxic member of this family are only for use by a qualified practitioner such as myself due to the small therapeutic window – the difference between it being a medicine or a poison!!

“Pharmacological interests in the automatic nervous system (ANS) revolves around the effects certain drugs have on the chemical receptors found at different synapses (nerve centres in the brain) in sympathetic and parasympathetic systems.  So that you can understand the ANS is a controlling factor of our body and depending which way it is ‘switched on’ (sympathetic=stress response and parasympathetic=relax response) determines how our organs are functioning.  This family is researched by modern medicine because of the effects it can have on the ANS.

Both systems (stress and relax) use the nicotine sensitive acetylcholine receptors at their first stage and thus nicotine has the effect of increasing general automatic activity – which is why most smokers say that their bowels are stimulated when they have a cigarette and why although nicotine is stimulating smokers state that they smoke to relax themselves.

The parasympathetic system (relax response) is mediated at its target sites by acetylcholine receptors that are stimulated by caffeine like noradrenaline (and) blocked by the atropine alkaloids from solanaceous plants like deadly nightshade (Atropa belladonna), henbane (Hyoscyamus niger) and datura (Datura stramonium)…

The fact that these influences originate from the plant world is a result of the widespread use of these powerful herbs. (For example)  Therapeutically the bronco-spasm (tightening of the lungs) in asthma could be resolved by the therapeutic use datura or henbane.

 As a lot of these family members are restricted – for major health and safety reasons but alot are edible and have health benefits – food is medicine 🙂

Capsicum – Chilli: Helps to reduce Pain, Good for constipation (and tomatoes), May help with a heart attack and stimulates circulation

Tomatoes: A tomato a day may keep cancer at bay, Common trigger of allergies, especially eczema and mouth ulcers, Green tomatoes may cause migraine in some people, Red tomatoes have 3 times as much vitamin c than yellow tomatoes

Potatoes: The potato is a good for minor burns or sunburn.  If you have a minor burn, make sure you get cold running water on it immediately. If it is not clean, make sure you clean out the burn with cold running water. THEN, peel and slice or peel and grate a potato. Apply the potato onto the affected area. Keep replacing it as needed. At some point, you may need to hold it on with a bandage or gauze. Potato is excellent for drawing out the heat. Other uses for potatoes: Itch relief,(Bartrams mentions potato water is good for chicken pox) a poultice for sties.  Also potato water good for spasmodic pain of a peptic ulcer (but watch out for the atropine poisoning effect of enlargement of the pupils and dryness of the throat – taken in large amounts would result in flickering of the eyelids and poor vision)

Aubergines: In African folk medicine the aubergine has been used for epilepsy and convulsions, In south east Asia it is used for measles and stomach cancer

Here are some recipes of members of the deadly nightshade family which are safe to eat 🙂

Cherry tomato and wild rocket salad with mozzarella

 

Ingredients

1 x 50g/2oz bag wild rocket
250g/9oz cherry tomatoes, halved
125g/4oz boccinini (little mozzarellas) or one large 150g/5oz ball mozzarella
3 tbsp good quality olive oil
½ lemon, juice only (1 tbsp)
salt and black pepper
warm ciabatta, to serve

Method

1. Divide the rocket, cherry tomatoes and mozzarella between six serving plates.
2. Drizzle with olive oil, a little lemon juice and season with salt and black pepper. Serve with warm ciabatta.

Vodka-soaked cherry tomatoes

 

Ingredients

1 punnet cherry tomatoes
¼ pint/150ml chilli-flavoured vodka
½ lemon, juice of
1 tbsp dry sherry
6 drops Tabasco sauce
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
celery salt, to taste

Method

1. Prick the tomatoes all over with a cocktail stick. Soak the tomatoes in a mixture of the next seven ingredients.
2. Chill until ready to eat. When eating, sprinkle with celery salt. The remaining liquid can be drunk as shots – or used as a base for an excellent Bloody Mary.Fresh tomato soup

Ingredients

900g/2lb vine-grown tomatoes with their stalks (but not the stems)
55ml/2fl oz extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to serve
6 cloves of garlic, chopped very finely
¼ tsp chilli flakes
salt
basil, freshly shredded, to garnish

Method

Make the soup: coarsely chop the tomatoes and, for extra flavour, their little star-like stalks. Put the olive oil, garlic and chilli flakes into a large saucepan and set over a low heat for a few seconds until the garlic begins to sizzle. Add the tomatoes and turn over for just 2 minutes until the juices from the tomatoes begin to run.
Tip the mixture into a food processor and add 2 tbsp of the tapenade. Blitz until finely chopped but not completely smooth. Pass through a conical sieve into a clean pan, pressing out as much liquid as you can with the back of a small ladle.
Heat gently until warm but not hot – you want to retain the fresh flavour of the tomatoes. Season the soup to taste with some salt. Ladle into warmed bowls and serve garnished with a little more oil and the shredded basil.

Simple tomato and bacon sauce with penne

 

Ingredients

150ml/5fl oz extra virgin olive oil
100g/3½oz pancetta or smoked bacon cut into strips
8 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
a good pinch of chilli flakes, optional
a good pinch of sea salt
a good pinch of sugar
1 x 400g/14oz can tomatoes or 6 vine-ripened tomatoes
grated parmesan

Note: This recipe originally uses Australian measurements. Equivalent measurements are as accurate as possible.

Method

1. In a heavy based saucepan heat the oil and add the garlic, pancetta strips, chilli flakes, salt and sugar. Cook until soft but not coloured, approximately 3 minutes.
2. If using canned tomatoes put a knife into the open can and chop the tomatoes roughly. If using fresh tomatoes, blanch, peel and chop them. Add the tomatoes to the pan and simmer slowly for 15 minutes.

To serve
Serve with a quality durum wheat penne or other pasta, cooked al dente and shaved parmesan.Headache Herbal Recipe You can also use the roots and leaves of an herb called ashwagandha to get instant relief from the headache. Here is an herbal recipe prepared from ashwagandha that can act as an effective remedy for curing headaches:·                                 Pick up the entire plants of a ripe ashwagandha,·                                 Extract the juice by crushing the plant using a grinder,·                                 Boil 2 cups of juice, 1 cup of castor oil and three cups of water, till only the oil is left in the container. ·                                 Apply the resulting oil externally and massage every night for 10 days

Spanish-style tortilla

 

Ingredients

25g/1oz butter
1 tbsp olive oil
2 large onions, finely sliced
750g/1½lb Pink Fir Apple potatoes, peeled, parboiled and sliced into 1cm/½in pieces
250g/8oz handful fresh spinach, cooked and roughly chopped
10 free-range eggs, lightly beaten
salt and freshly ground pepper

Method

1. In a large, heavy-based frying pan, heat the butter and oil. Cook the onions slowly until transparent and soft.
2. Add the potato slices and fry gently for two minutes.
3. Stir in the spinach.
4. Season the eggs with salt and freshly ground black pepper and pour onto the contents of the frying pan.
5. Cook over a low to medium heat: it may take up to ten minutes until the egg is set enough to turn the tortilla over, and if the heat is too high, the bottom will burn before the middle is set.
6. Once the bottom is nicely browned and the centre has set, it is time to turn it over. This is done with a double flip: place a plate (or the bottom of a tart tin) over the pan and flip it over once, so that the cooked surface of the tortilla is on the bottom. Take another plate, and flip it again so the cooked surface is on the top. Then place the frying pan back over the tortilla plate and flip one more time, so the uncooked bit is now in contact with the base of the pan.
7. Replace the pan over low heat until the tortilla is cooked through.
8. Serve hot, warm or cold, cut into slices or cubes.

Purple potato gratin

 

Ingredients

1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 garlic clove
225ml/7fl oz double cream
freshly grated nutmeg
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
700g/1½lb purple potatoes (also known as Shetland black vintage)

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 220C/400F/Gas6.
2. With the flat side of a heavy knife lightly crush the garlic and rub over the bottom and sides of a gratin dish. Brush the bottom and sides of the dish generously with butter.
3. In a small bowl stir together the cream, nutmeg, sea salt and pepper to taste.
4. Peel the potatoes and slice thinly with a mandolin or food processor. Arrange the sliced potatoes in the gratin dish and pour the cream evenly over. Press gently on top of the potatoes to briefly submerge them in the cream.
5. Bake the gratin, covered with foil, in the middle of the oven for 20 minutes (15 minutes if fan-assisted). Remove the foil and bake the gratin until the potatoes are tender and lightly browned, about 25 minutes more (20 minutes if fan-assisted).

Warm potato salad with red wine sauce

 

Ingredients

For the potato salad
6 pink fir apple potatoes, cut into three and blanched for one minute in boiling water
2 tsp olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
25g/1oz fresh flatleaf parsley
25g/1oz fresh basil, chopped
15g/½oz fresh chives, chopped
1 lemon, juice only
1 tsp Dijon mustard
100ml/3½fl oz olive oil
pinch sugar
For the red wine sauce
50ml/2fl oz red wine
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp cornflour
1 tsp tepid water

Method

1.      Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.
2. To make the potato salad, place the blanched potatoes with the olive oil into a large bowl. Toss to coat the potatoes in oil and season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place the potatoes onto a hot baking tray and roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until cooked through and golden.
3. Place the herbs, lemon juice, mustard, oil and sugar into a food processor and blend to a paste. Spoon the mixture into a large bowl, add the roasted potatoes and toss together to coat well.
4. To make the red wine sauce, heat the red wine and sugar in a large frying pan over a medium heat.
5. Mix the tepid water with the cornflour in a small bowl then add this mixture to the wine, whisking well. Increase the heat and reduce the liquid by half.
6. To serve. place the potato salad onto a warm plate and drizzle some of the wine sauce around.Aubergine and Tomato Gratiningredientsserves 4 1 lb (450 g) medium aubergines
1 lb (450g) large ripe tomatoes
1 large onion
1 clove garlic
1 1/2 tablespoons virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh shredded oregano
2 tablespoons fresh shredded basil leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

h2>For the Sauce 1/2 pint (285ml) skimmed milk
1 small onion
6 black peppercorns
1 clove
2 sprigs fresh thyme or parsley
1 oz (25 g) butter
1 oz (25 g) plain flour
1 egg yolk and 2 egg whites
1/2 oz (15 g) freshly grated Parmesan cheesemethod1. Thinly slice the aubergines and tomatoes, peel and thinly slice both onions and peel and crush the garlic. Spread 1/2 tablespoon of the oil and the garlic around the inside of a gratin or baking dish.

2. Arrange two layers of alternating aubergine and tomato slices over the bottom of the dish. Sprinkle with half the oregano and basil and top with a layer of large onion slices. Season with salt and black pepper, then sprinkle with 1/2 tablespoon of the oil. Repeat with the remaining vegetables, herbs and oil.

3. The dish may seem rather full, but the vegetables shrink during cooking. Cover the dish tightly with foil and cook for 1 1/2 hours.

4. Meanwhile, to prepare the sauce, pour the milk into a saucepan with the small onion, peppercorns, clove, thyme or parsley. Bring to the boil, remove from the heat, then cover and leave to stand.

5. At the end of the Cooking time, take the dish out of the Oven and remove the foil. Increase the Oven temperature to 220‚°C (425‚°F, gas mark 7).

6. Melt the butter for the sauce in a clean saucepan and slowly stir in the flour. Strain the infused milk into the pan a little at a time, stirring continuously, and bring to the boil until thickened.

7. Remove from the heat, beat in the egg yolk and season lightly with salt. Whisk the egg whites separately until stiff, then fold them slowly into the sauce.

8. Pour the sauce over the top of the vegetables, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and bake for 15-20 minutes, until the crust is golden-brown. Sicilian Ratatouilleingredientsserves 4 – 6 2 aubergines
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 medium red or yellow onion
1/2 green pepper
2 sticks celery
4 oz (115 g) mushrooms
1 -2 cloves garlic
4 tablespoons virgin olive oil
14 oz (400 g) tin plum tomatoes
2 tablespoons capers
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried
2 oz (50 g) green olives
2 tablespoons wine vinegar
2 teaspoons caster sugar
2 oz (50 g) pine nutsmethod1. Peel and dice the aubergines into 1 in (25 mm) cubes. To extract any bitter juices, place the cubes in a colander, sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of salt and allow to drain for 20 minutes. Slice the onion, pepper, celery and mushrooms and finely chop the garlic. Rinse the drained aubergines and pat dry.

2. Heat 4 tablespoons of oil in a casserole or frying pan. Saute the aubergines over medium heat. Stir constantly until softened and slightly coloured. Remove the aubergines and put to one side, then add the onions, garlic, pepper and celery. Cook for 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until quite soft.

3. Chop and peel the tomatoes and add to the pan along with the mushrooms and capers. Turn down the heat and simmer for 5 minutes, until the tomato sauce has reduced and thickened. Stir in all the aubergines, oregano, olives, vinegar and sugar.

4. Simmer for another 15 minutes, adding a little water if it is too thick. Season with salt and black pepper, sprinkle with pine nuts and serve.

Rheumatoid Arthritis – dietary and lifestyle advice

A lovely lady contacted me by phone yesterday with questions about rheumatoid arthritis (RA).  I would love to help and support the person that she was calling about but it is such a complex ‘pathology’ that advising certain herbs would be irresponsible.  As with most chronic health issues I always advise that they are best to come and see me for a consultation.  The herbal consultations that I give usually last an hour and are an investigational process where all aspects of health and wellbeing are looked at.  The different body systems, past history of health, family history, diet, lifestyle, emotions, even physical signs are assessed such as blood pressure, pulse and tongue diagnosis.  When someone is coming with specific issues a physical examination of the area in question can also be done.  Getting a whole-istic view of the person and their health issues enables me to know which herbs would be beneficial for them and also gives me the information I need to tailor personalised dietary and lifestyle advice for them as well.

hippocrates

So because of yesterdays enquiry I said that I would blog about rheumatoid arthritis.  Do you know what it is?  There are hundreds of different forms of arthritis – osteo- and rheumatoid being the most common and well-known.  It is a chronic inflammatory disorder of the musculoskeletal system mainly affecting the joints.  But unlike osteoarthritis which affects the weight-bearing joints (in part due to wear and tear) rheumatoid arthritis mainly affects the hands, wrists and feet (but can affect the knees, spine and other joints in the body).  Women are more likely to get RA than males and white people are more affected than other ethnicities.  The majority of cases occur between the ages of 25-59 and it has been seen that the contraceptive pill may offer some protection against the development of the disease.  At present modern medicine cannot give an explanation as to why people get RA and others don’t.  There are two main theories as to the cause.  It is proposed that RA is caused by an infection which has triggered the rheumatic response and the second theory is that it is due to the immune system not working properly and attacking its own constituents because it cannot recognise self anymore.

People are diagnosed with RA when they present with the following criteria: arthritis of three or more joints, arthritis of the hand joints, symmetrical swelling of the same joint areas, serum rheumatoid factor (determined by a blood test) and radiographic features of RA.  There are hereditary patterns with this disease too.  

RA signs and symptoms

The onset is usually gradual, people can feel fatigued, have a low-grade fever, have joint stiffness and weakness and vague joint pain at the start, it can develop into painful swollen joints after several weeks.  Several joints are usually affected in a symmetrical fashion.  The affected joints are usually warm, tender and swollen, and the skin can take on a ruddy purplish hue.  The severe joint pain is accompanied by severe inflammation in the small joints but can progressively affect all joints in the body and result in the erosion of the bone and cartilage and the development of nodules around the joints which can be debilitating.  Unfortunately doctors look at prescribing aspirin and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories followed by anti-inflammatories, immunosuppressives, and corticosteroids as the disorder progresses – a symptomatic approach which doesn’t look at the cause.  Also a lot of these drugs can cause side effects such as digestive upsets, headaches and dizziness and ironically aspirin and NSAIDs can increase the ‘leakiness’ of the intestinal lining and accelerate the faulty immune response responsible for this disease.  Long term use of corticosteroids is not advised in sufferers of RA due to the side effects that they case.  In the most severe cases of RA joint surgery and replacement are considered.

ra

RA can be a complication of many other autoimmune diseases such as psoriasis and can be aggravated by a ‘leaky gut’ – where the digestive system is inflamed and semi-digested food particles enter the bloodstream.  Physical or emotional stress as well as poor nutrition may be involved in the onset of the disease.

rheumatoid arthritis

Other common symptoms which accompany the joint pains and inflammation include: weight loss, feeling ‘out of sorts’, anaemia, osteoporosis (fragile bones), depression, muscle wasting, peripheral water retention, nodules, carpal tunnel syndrome, swollen lymph nodes, infections etc.  The progression of RA is variable and depends on the individual so it isn’t possible to predict who will develop severe symptoms.  In general 25% remain fit and can function effectively, 40% have moderate impairment, 25% are quite badly disabled and 10% become wheelchair patients.

If there is anything that I have missed out about rheumatoid arthritis and its pathology (how it affects the body) please do not hesitate to contact me and I will be happy to explain.

Herbal treatment varied in accordance to the individual needs.  The joy of herbal medicine is that it is tailored to suit the persons needs and can be altered to suit the changing requirements.  When seeing a patient with RA the prescription may have to be changed several times before progress is made.

Dietary Advice

007

In general Ra is not found in societies that eat a diet more in tune with our ancestors.  The western diet is linked to the rate of incidence of RA.  Eating a diet rich in wholefoods, vegetables and fibre and low in sugar, meat, refined carbohydrates and saturated fats help with the prevention and possibly the treatment of RA.  There is strong scientific support for the roles that food allergies and dietary fats play in the inflammatory process.

008

A diet high in seafood is beneficial for most rheumatic diseases.  Therefore if you cannot add a lot of seafood to your diet please look at supplementing with fish oils or take 1 tablespoon of flaxseed oil daily.  Eat 2-3 servings of baked, broiled or pickles fish weekly.  Herring, mackerel, sardines and salmon are natural sources of omega 3 fatty acids which counteracts the effects of inflammatory omega 6 fatty acids.

Hippocrates quote

Hippocrates quote

It may be worthwhile becoming a vegetarian if you have been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.  A study in Norway discovered that vegetarian foods normalised the dietary fatty acids and reduced inflammation in rheumatic disorders.  During this study the patients were allowed only garlic, herbal teas, vegetable soups and juices/smoothies for the first week or two and then meat free and gluten-free food was introduced and alternated each day.

Limit your consumption of beef, eggs, refined carbohydrates and sugars and animal fat.  These foods contain omega 6 fatty acids (pro-inflammatory).

Avoid lemons and lemon juice as it can contribute to the excretion of calcium from muscles and bones.

Supplement high doses of Vitamin C to support the body in preventing/reducing the damage to the synovial membranes of the joints.

If you experience anaemia and/or muscle wasting as part of your RA you may not be getting the right nutrition in your diet.

Add turmeric and celery to your diet regularly.

A low salt, low-fat, high oily fish diet also benefits RA.  Where possible aim to cut out all gluten and dairy products.

Lifestyle Advice

holistic-healing-approach

Physical therapy can benefit people who have RA – look at introducing exercise/activity into your lifestyle on a regular basis.  Perform 3-10 repetitions of range of motion exercises daily such as flexing the knee back and forth as far as it will go in both direction.  Use swimming as your primary form of aerobic exercise – it is easier on the joints than land-based exercise.

Heat and cold can both have a relieving effect on the painful joints – alternate with hot and cold compresses to support the reduction in inflammation.  In the morning take a hot shower or bath to help relieve morning stiffness.

Massage can be beneficial, especially in the early stages of RA – go to a professional, or if you cannot afford this research how to massage the joints in the affected areas and self-massage on a regular basis.

I have chosen not to give herbal remedies which benefit RA in this article because of the health implications that there are.  Botanicals which may benefit RA may aggravate other health issues such as increasing blood pressure, speeding up/slowing down the metabolism of pharmaceuticals and affecting the hormones within the body.  I implore anyone who experiences this disorder to contact myself for a consultation where we can work together to aim at improving your quality of life using herbal medicine and dietary and lifestyle changes.