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 […]

Tonsillitis

Tonsils and adenoids provide a first defence against atmospheric pollution and infection entering the body through the mouth and nose. They also filter poisons in the bloodstream and those draining from the nose and sinuses. When they become swollen, inflamed and painful during an infection, they are responding to an increased demand for their cleansing work in an attempt to throw it off. The tonsils in so doing are fulfilling their protective role by inhibiting the spread of infection further into the body. For this reason the surgical removal of the tonsils should only be a last resort. Tonsillitis can be both acute and chronic. Acute tonsillitis flares up in response to a viral or a bacterial infection, and tends to occur when there is low vital energy, excess toxins in the body and catarrhal congestion. It frequently heralds or accompanies a cold or flu virus, laryngitis or mumps. When bacterial, the onset is sudden with a severe sore throat and swollen neck glands, often with a fever, but with no or few other upper respiratory symptoms. The streptococcal bacterium involved can, in rare cases, affect the kidneys (causing nephritis) or the heart (in rheumatic fever). This means that the first signs of bacterial Read more […]

Earache: Herbal Treatment of Children

Earache can be related to pain in the throat, gums, teeth or parotid glands (in mumps), which radiates to the ear. It can also be due to inflammation of the outer ear canal, and associated with swelling and an irritating discharge. Most commonly, however, especially in children under six, earache is caused by middle ear infection (otitis media). This may be either acute or chronic. Acute infections can occur as a sequel to other infections including colds, tonsillitis, measles or allergies. Infection of the outer ear can be caused by an object stuck in the ear, a boil in the ear canal, scratching or fiddling with the ear (which often happens with a skin irritation such as eczema in or around the ears); or from chlorine in swimming pools, which can irritate the skin of children who swim frequently and who do not dry their ears properly. Any discharge in the outer ear can be washed away gently with a warm infusion of antiseptic herbs, such as chamomile, elderflowers, golden seal (Hydrastis canadensis) or marigold, or a few drops of tincture can be used in warm water. One or two drops of warm olive oil with a few drops of essential oil of either chamomile or lavender (two drops to a teaspoon of oil) can be inserted Read more […]

Acne

A common inflammatory pilosebaceous disease characterized by comedones, papules, pustules, inflamed nodules, superficial pus-filled cysts, and, in extreme cases, canalizing and deep, inflamed, sometimes purulent, sacs. (The Merck Manual) Acne is a common, potentially disfiguring skin disease. Unfortunately, it often affects those in an emotionally vulnerable stage of life — adolescents. Acne involves the sebaceous glands in the skin, which secrete lubrication (sebum) for the hair follicles (pilosebaceous follicles) and surrounding skin. These are located in greatest concentrations on the face, back, shoulders, and chest. Acne is most common in adolescents, with a peak in the late teens. Acne may, however, appear for the first time in the mid-20s or later and can persist into the 40s or 50s. Acne lesions are commonly of three types: Blackheads are glands plugged with excessive material that discolors on exposure to air. Whiteheads are small collections of pus within glands. Nodules or, papules are the red and inflamed areas of more extensive infection. A complex of causes underlies acne. Unfortunately, determining underlying causes is rarely as simple as blaming fats, chocolate, and sugar. Important predisposing Read more […]

Psoriasis

A chronic and recurrent disease characterized by dry, well-circumscribed, silvery, scaling papules and plaques of various sizes. (The Merck Manual) This is a common skin disease of unknown cause that affects up to 3 % of the American population. Onset usually occurs before age 20, but all age groups may be affected. The severity of this condition can vary from the presence of one or two cosmetically annoying lesions to a physically disabling and disfiguring affliction of the entire body surface. The condition is not contagious in any way, and general health usually is not affected. However, it is no exaggeration to say that in extreme cases, psoriasis be ruinous to the individual’s physical, emotional, and economic well-being. In addition, some cases are associated with a severe form of arthritis, called psoriatic arthritis, that affects general health in much the same way as rheumatoid arthritis does. Psoriasis usually develops slowly, following a typical course of remission and recurrence. The characteristic psoriatic plaques, or lesions, are sharply demarcated, red and raised, covered with silvery scales, and bleed easily. These plaques do not usually itch, and will heal without leaving scar tissue or affecting Read more […]

Eczema and dermatitis

Superficial inflammation of the skin, characterized by vesicles (when acute), redness, edema, oozing, crusting, scaling, and usually itching. (The Merck Manual) The terms eczema and dermatitis are the cause of much confusion. In keeping with the broad guidelines given in The Merck Manual, we shall use these terms synonymously to indicate superficial inflammation of the skin. The dermatologist subdivides dermatitis and eczema into a range of different disease entities distinguished by location and appearance. For the phytotherapist, however, the most important distinction is between cases with an internal or endogenous cause and those with a contact or exogenous cause. In cases of dermatitis or eczema of exogenous cause, it is often possible to solve the problem simply by removing or avoiding the surface irritant, if it can be identified! Such problems, often called contact dermatitis, are commonly caused by: • Industrial solvents • Dyes • Nickel and other metals • Leather-tanning chemicals • Some soaps In such cases, eczema is the final result of a complex series of internal reactions to allergens and irritants. It is often associated with other allergic diseases, such as hay fever and asthma, Read more […]

Sweet Violet: More Modern Application And Cancer

The plant does not appear in Cook or Ellingwood in the USA. The National Botanic Pharmacopoeia summarizes the view in the early part of the 20th century. Inflammation of the eyes, sleeplessness, pleurisy, jaundice and quinsy ‘are but a few of the ailments for which it was held potent’. The general assessment in this herbal is not encouraging; ‘it is still found in the pharmacopoeias though many of the virtues ascribed to it in the Middle Ages have not stood the test of time and greater experience’. This might be a rather severe judgement, particularly given the narrow range of application mode and lack of emphasis or perhaps sufficient appreciation of its broader cooling properties within its earlier context. Its reputation as an anti cancer herb is explored in Potter’s Bulletin of May 1902, cited by the National Botanic Pharmacopoeia, recording the case of a 67-year-old lady whose malignant throat tumour was cleared in 14 days on use of this herb. They suggest a handful of fresh green violet leaves infused in 1 pint of boiling water covered for 12 hours; this is strained and warmed; then a piece of lint, soaked in this infusion, is placed ‘where the malady is’, covered with oilskin or flannel and changed when dry or Read more […]

Endometriosis

Endometriosis is one of the most common gynecologic problems in the United States and a leading gynecologic cause of both hospitalization and hysterectomy. Women with symptomatic endometriosis face chronic and sometimes debilitating pain; asymptomatic and symptomatic women alike may experience significant fertility problems due to this condition. The least-biased estimate for the overall prevalence of endometriosis in reproductive-age women is about 10%. Endometriosis is defined as the presence and growth of endometrial tissue in locations outside of the uterus. These cells may appear on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, bowel, bladder, peritoneal tissue, ligaments, or other structures in the abdominal cavity, and rarely may occur at other sites, including the nasal and respiratory passages leading to nosebleeds or pink frothy sputum at the time of the menses. Displaced endometrial tissue responds to cyclic hormonal changes, proliferating and shedding outside of the uterus. The bleeding is accompanied by inflammation caused by irritation of local tissue, such as, the peritoneum. Recurrent inflammation can cause scarring and adhesions that can cause pain and dysfunction of other affected sites. Endometriosis is common in Read more […]

Endometriosis: Conventional Treatment Approaches

Medical treatment of endometriosis includes both pharmaceutical and surgical approaches. Pharmaceutical treatments provide only suppression of the disease; they do not exact a cure. Decisions regarding treatment are based on endometriosis severity and staging, symptom picture, and ultimately, the woman’s needs and goals, for example, desire for children in the future. For women experiencing mild symptoms (or none) and for women who are close to menopause, the appropriate treatment may be to do nothing. For women with mild to moderate symptoms, and those who desire pregnancy, the appropriate pharmacologic therapy should be considered, and if necessary, can be combined with conservative surgery. It should be noted that, in spite of medical treatment, endometriosis has a high recurrence rate of 5% to 20% unless total hysterectomy and bilateral oophorectomy are performed. With pharmacologic interventions, pain typically resumes upon cessation of medications, although initially with pain that is less intense than prior to treatment. Pain relief, pregnancy rates, and recurrence rates are similar with all treatment methods. The goal of pharmaceutical treatment is to interrupt patterns of endometrial stimulation and bleeding. Read more […]

Endometriosis: Discussion Of Botanicals

For many women with endometriosis pain is the single most debilitating aspect of this condition (other than chronic fertility problems in women desiring pregnancy). Therefore, pain management should be an important focus in the care of women with this condition. Herbalists reliably employ a number of herbs for the treatment of pelvic and abdominal pain, many of which have a long history of traditional use for painful gynecologic conditions. These herbs can be used singly but are generally used in various combinations with other herbs in these categories, or as part of a larger protocol. Analgesic herbs are used for generalized or local pain of an aching or sharp quality and include black cohosh, black haw and cramp bark, chamomile, corydalis, pulsatilla, dong quai, ginger, and Jamaican dogwood. Corydalis, Jamaican dogwood, and pulsatilla are especially dependable for moderate to serious pain. Pulsatilla is considered specific for ovarian pain. Antispasmodics are typically used for cramping pain, but also may be used for sharp or dull pain, aching, and drawing pains in the lower back and thighs, and include, such as wild yam, the viburnums (cramp bark and black haw), black cohosh, chamomile, and ginger. Dong quai’s traditional Read more […]