Primary Dysmenorrhoea

Primary dysmenorrhoea is caused by uterine contractions which are too strong and occur too frequently. Between the contractions, the uterine muscle does not relax properly, and there is an abnormally high ‘resting tone’. The overall effect is a reduction in the amount of blood flowing through the uterine muscle (ischaemia) which causes the pain known as primary dysmenorrhoea. The most usual cause of primary dysmenorrhoea is an imbalance in the prostaglandins levels. Prostaglandins are complex hormone-like substances found in most body tissues. There are many different types of prostaglandins which control bodily functions by working together as an integrated team. When the different types of prostaglandins are present in normal ratios, menstruation proceeds normally. An imbalance in the ratios in favour of the type of prostaglandins which increase muscle spasm will cause period pain. Their role in menstruation is complex and is discussed in ‘Prostaglandins’. The uterine tonics The uterine tonics, Aletris farinosa, Caulophyllum thalictroides, Angelica sinensis and Rubus idaeus, are used to treat pain because they are believed to regulate the muscular activity of the uterus and help initiate contractions which are Read more […]

Catha edulis (Khat)

Distribution, Botany, and Morphology Khat, Catha edulis (Vahl) Forssk. ex Endl. (Celasteraceae), is an evergreen shrub or tall tree that may reach up to 25 m in height if not pruned. Extensive pruning makes it a small shrub, as it is usually described. Its life span may extend for 40 years. The plant is indigenous to East Africa and southern Arabia, but may have originated in the Harar district of Ethiopia, according to earlier reports. Its habitat extends from northern Ethiopia to the mountainous regions of East Africa and Yemen, all the way to south Africa, between latitudes 18 °N and 30 °S. It is cultivated mostly on hillsides and mountain slopes at altitudes of 1500-2000 m above sea level. Besides Ethiopia and Yemen, the khat plant is now grown in Djibouti, Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, and Madagascar. However, the use of the plant is by no means restricted to the natives of these countries, but extends to other Asian countries and immigrant communities in several Western countries. The fact that the khat plant is not allowed to produce seeds and is mainly propagated by cuttings, and that only fresh leaves are used, may have confined its cultivation to the regions of origin and neighboring areas. In these Read more […]

Adverse Reactions Associated with Echinacea and Other Asteraceae

Fifty percent of Australians report using some form of complementary alternative medicines (CAM) apart from vitamins in any 12-month period, with similar patterns of use in British and North American subjects. Despite the common perception that “natural therapy” is safe, toxic and hypersensitivity reactions to complementary and alternative medicine have been described. Given that these products are rarely packaged in childproof containers, accidental exposure also occurs. Allergic reactions are most common in atopic subjects. This is not surprising when one considers that up to 20% of atopic subjects use CAM. Furthermore, these patients are more likely than others to become sensitized to cross-reactive allergens and some use (or are advised to use) products such as Echinacea for treatment of allergic disease. When interpreting reports of immediate hypersensitivity to Asteraceae-derived CAM, it is helpful to bear in mind a number of important concepts: (1) exposure to Asteraceae is common; (2) sensitization is more common in subjects with preexistent allergic disease; (3) there is allergenic cross-reactivity between different Asteraceae, and between Asteraceae and some foods; and (4) patients sensitized by inhalation Read more […]

Onobrychis viciifolia Scop. (Sainfoin)

Distribution and Importance of Sainfoin Sainfoin (Onobrychis viciifolia Scop, (family Leguminoseae) is a perennial forage legume that has been grown in Europe and Asia for centuries. The most widely used common name, sainfoin, is derived from the French “saint foin” meaning holy or wholesome hay. Other common names include: holy or holy hay, French grass, everlasting grass, medick vetchling, cockshead, esparcet, or snail grass. Its botanical genus name, Onobrychis, comes from the Greek words “onos” meaning ass, and it is felt that brychis is derived from “bruchis”, a plant. This provides some insight into the value that was placed on this species because it had been noted that asses were particularly partial to sainfoin as a feed. Sainfoin grew in Russia as a forage crop over 1000 years ago and was noted in France in the 14th century, Germany in the 17th century, and Italy in the 18th century. The first introductions of sainfoin came to North America from Europe in the early 1900s, but its success as a forage crop did not occur until the 1960s when strains from Turkey and the USSR displayed the necessary adaptibility and yield to enable the development of cultivars for the Northern Great Plains and Canadian Prairies. Read more […]

Anxiety Disorders: Supplements With Possible Efficacy

In addition to supplements discussed above, a few other compounds may also have some efficacy in treating symptoms of anxiety. However, since the data that supports the use of the following supplements is extremely limited, clinicians should proceed with caution, and consider the use of the compounds discussed in this section as experimental. St. John’s Wort As described in site, St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum) is an herb that exists in many species throughout the world, and it is widely used as an antidepressant. It is available in a variety of preparations, including capsules, liquid, oils, and raw herb to be brewed as tea. St. John’s Wort contains a plethora of active ingredients, including flavonoids, naphthodianthrones, phloroglucinols, phenolic acids, terpenes, and xanthones. These exert a variety of psychoactive effects, and several of these are described below. Of all herbal supplements, St. John’s Wort is the one that has been researched most extensively and there is strong support for its efficacy in reducing depressive symptoms. The use of St. John’s Wort as an anxiolytic is more recent, but a few studies suggest that is may be effective. Davidson and Connor (2001) reported case studies of patients Read more […]

Herbs for functional menorrhagia

Herbs for functional menorrhagia are chosen from the following categories. • Herbs which affect uterine tone and regulate uterine bleeding: the uterine anti-haemorrhagics, uterine tonics and emmenogogues. • Herbs which have diverse ‘systemic’ effects, and which improve the overall vitality or constitutional state of the woman: the female tonic herbs and the Liver herbs which reduce bleeding by clearing Heat and (often) aiding oestrogen clearance. Uterine anti-haemorrhagics Herbalists refer to anti-haemorrhagics as being Drying — in fact one of the ways to tell if a herb has an astringent effect is to see whether it has the typical drying and puckering sensation in the mouth. This ‘astringent’ effect is caused by tannins, but tannins are not responsible for the effects on the uterus because they are not absorbed from the gut. The uterine anti-haemorrhagics usually contain the tannins characteristic of most herbal astringents, in addition to other (non-tannin) constituents, primarily flavonoids and saponins which regulate bleeding. Some of these effects are quite complex, and not all of them are understood. They are discussed in greater detail in the section on uterine anti-haemorrhagics herbs in site. Uterine Read more […]

Respiratory System: Herbal Treatment of Children

The Function Of The Respiratory System To ensure sufficient intake of oxygen it is vital for children to have a fully functioning respiratory system, to have plenty of fresh air and exercise every day and that they breathe properly. The quality of the air breathed in is also of vital importance. Children’s lungs are delicate organs susceptible to external factors including heat, dust, moulds, pathogenic micro-organisms and chemical irritants. The pollution in the air, cigarette smoke, carbon monoxide, lead from car fumes, etc., becomes pollution in their lungs, which is then carried in the blood all round the body. According to Western medicine the main function of the lungs is the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide and the maintenance of acid-base in the body. We also know that the air we breathe is not only vital to our physiological functioning, but also to our more subtle processes. In India air is called “prana”, the breath of life. Not only are we breathing in gases vital for normal functioning of our cells and tissues, but we are also taking in the energy of the atmosphere around us which radiates from the trees and other green plants and ultimately from the sun. Correct breathing is vital for our nerves Read more […]

Chronic Catarrh

While it is normal for a child to have catarrh for a few days after a cold until the irritated mucous membranes are fully recovered, in some children the catarrhal stage persists chronically for weeks, months or longer. There are several reasons why this could occur. • Irritation of the airways by atmospheric pollution, cigarette smoke, dust, petrol fumes, dry air from central heating, carbon monoxide, etc.. • A poor diet, junk foods, excess milk products, sugar, refined carbohydrates, and wrong food combinations can cause constipation and putrefaction in the bowels allowing toxins to be circulated in the bloodstream. Mucus or catarrh is one way the body can discharge some of its toxic overload. • Allergy to milk / wheat can cause chronic catarrh and predispose to frequent respiratory infections, colds, sore throats, chest and middle ear infections. • Sinusitis can cause chronic catarrh as well as post-nasal drip and an accompanying irritating cough. Herbal treatment of chronic catarrh • Echinacea is indicated where there is chronic infection in the sinuses. • Astringent herbs such as marigold, elderflower, eyebright (Euphrasia off.), thyme and plantain can be used, which tone the mucous Read more […]

Sinusitis

If the sinuses become congested and inflamed following a cold, flu or chronic catarrh, this can predispose to a sinus infection, either viral or bacterial. The resultant pain and swelling around the nose and eyes, as well as headaches and even toothache, can be quite distressing for children. Nasal congestion, sinusitis, postnasal drip and the irritating cough that can accompany it respond well to herbal treatment and dietary changes. Chronic sinusitis can also be related to overproduction of mucus in an attempt by the body to cleanse itself of toxins that are not being adequately eliminated elsewhere. Lack of fresh air and exercise, constipation and insufficient fluid intake and urination can all be contributory factors. Sinusitis can also be caused by atmospheric pollution such as passive smoking. Alternatively blockage and infection in the sinuses can be related to over-production of mucus due to food intolerance, most often to cow’s milk and milk products. Atopic diseases such as rhinitis are a common feature of cow’s milk allergy. A diet that reduces mucus, avoiding milk, sugar, wheat and excess red meats, and includes plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, seeds, and essential fatty acids is recommended. Read more […]

Sore Throats

The defences of the throat can be vulnerable to a number of different pathogenic micro-organisms, viral and bacterial, either in the nose, the sinuses, the mouth or the lungs as well as by general systemic health. Sore throats, like all other symptoms, need to be seen in the wider context of the child’s general health and well-being, not simply the microorganisms involved. An infection will develop only where the environment is hospitable for the microbes to settle and multiply. One common cause of a mild sore throat on waking is central heating, as it causes low humidity. At night during sleep the mucous membranes of the nose dry out and swell, congesting the nose and causing mouth breathing. The low humidity irritates the mucous membranes in the throat causing discomfort. Placing a dehumidifier / vaporizer in the bedroom should easily remedy this. When tonsils, adenoids and other lymph glands around the throat become swollen and painful, they are merely doing their work, along with other lymphatic tissue in the body, to defend the body from infection. Lymphocytes produced by the tonsils and adenoids are the first line of defence against airborne pathogens that are inhaled through the nose and mouth. Once the Read more […]