• Julie Williams

Herbal Medicines....How Can They Support Us Naturally and Strengthen Our Bodies and Immunity.

Updated: Aug 9, 2021

Managing our health and wellbeing can come from many aspects. I firmly believe we need to consider physical and emotional supports to ensure we are mindful of our health AND those around us. For almost 30 years now, Ive been a strong advocate of supporting our natural immunity and assisting the body, mind and spirit's ability to both heal and strengthen. If we listen to our body, provide nourishment, time for rest and recovery and seek a lifestyle which supports our needs, mental health and physical demands as much as possible, it gives us an advantage and better understanding of wellness. Herbal medicines can play an important role to support our bodies naturally and strengthen immunity and any individual weakness within our bodies.

Most of us have heard of echinacea or olive leaf extract right? If you've said yes, you'll know they are ingestable and potent medicinal herbs, often used to help our immune system fight off infections, usually colds, sore throats or respiratory conditions. These two herbs have antibacterial and antiviral actions.

Herbal medicines are used to support and encourage the natural healing process of the body and immune system rather than suppress the condition or the root cause. If you could take a look into a herbalist or naturopaths herbal dispensary you would find many more liquid herbs which we prescribe for their individual actions and therapeutic effect for the body when it needs support, healing or strengthening. As a practitioner we would choose the herbs based on the functions (or imbalance) of the body which need support and create an individual blend which suits your condition. Your daily dosage is set by your practitioner.

Herbs contain medicinal compounds which are from different parts of the plants (bark, stem, flower, leaves etc). They have a therapeutic effect on the body systems and functions and even though they are natural medicines, they also have cautions and contraindications just like any pharmaceutical drug. So a practitioner also needs to know some past medical history and if you are currently using any other medication. Herbal medicines also contain many nutrients which our bodies need and we are somewhat familiar with the use of culinary herbs as an addition to our cooking for both flavor and medicinal purpose.

Herbal medicines usually have a variety of actions on various body systems, rather than only one action on one area.

These are some examples....

Andrographis is antibacterial (inhibits or destroys bacteria growth), immune enhancing (enhances immune function) and choleretic (increases production of bile from the liver).

Rosemary is a circulatory stimulant (improves blood flow through peripheral body tissues), antioxidant (protects against oxidation and free radical damage), hepatoprotective (protects the liver cells against toxic damage) and also carminative (soothes intestinal spasm and pain).

Licorice is an adrenal tonic (improves the function of the adrenal glands), expectorant (improves the cough reflex by clearing excess mucous from the lungs), antitussive (reduces the amount or severity of coughing) and anti-inflammatory (reduces inflammation).

St Johns Wort is an antidepressant (alleviates depression ), antiviral (inhibits the growth or destroys viruses), nervine tonic (improves the tone,vigour and function of the nervous system).

Chaste Tree is a prolactin inhibitor (inhibits secretion of the hormone prolactin), galactagogue (increases breast milk production), dopaminergic agonist (substance that binds to and activates dopamine receptors).

So quite often when treating a condition with herbal medicine you can have improvements in multiple areas of the body....which is what usually unfolds when we treat the body holistically and don't suppress healing. Each herb is also chosen for a particular stage of illness as well as its own actions.

Herbal medicines of any kind are not new. They have been used for centuries and some herbs, such as willow bark with powerful analgesic (pain killer) and blood thinning properties, have been used and modified in a lab to create pharmaceutical painkillers such as aspirin.

Understanding and supporting our immune system encourages all of its biochemical processes to function how it's meant to function. The more our lives consist of poor food choices including highly processed foods, prolonged stress and overly busy lifestyles, sleep and nervous system conditions, suppressed illness or trauma, recreation drugs, toxic substances such as alcohol or toxic ingredients, the harder it is for our body and mind to function, stay well and heal. Being proactive is the key. We know that many of us with no immune conditions or body system weaknesses are able to deal with various infections relatively easily. If you have weaknesses, lingering illness or diagnosed disease states you are more vulnerable to ANY infection and may find it harder to fight off or recover from ANY illness.

If you are interested in improving your health with the use of herbal medicines contact me to talk about options. Some herbal medicines are able to be prescribed along side pharmaceutical medication prescribed by your doctor and it is a naturopaths job to carefully check for any interactions and choose some safe and effective options. My consultations can be in clinic as well as by phone/online. Herbal formulas can be packaged safely and shipped to you if you rather a remote consultation or cannot collect.

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