Jan 242015
 

Hay fever seasonNettles (Urtica dioica) have antihistamine properties and are often used in herbal medicine for the prevention and relief of hay fever and other allergies. Medical herbalist Deanne Greenwood prepares many of her own herbal remedies at her home on the Lizard in Cornwall, for use in her practices in Falmouth, Helston and Penzance.

Depending on which particular plant pollen you are allergic to, you may already be dreading the start of the hay fever season. People who are allergic to tree pollen can start experiencing symptoms as early as February (usually lasting through to June). Grass pollen is released from May to July, and weed pollen spans April to September. Some particularly sensitive individuals may be allergic to all or a combination of plants, meaning that they can suffer for many months. People who are allergic to mould (a big problem in Cornwall, where I live and practice) may suffer symptoms all year round, although peak season is September and October.

Hay fever symptoms

People who suffer from hay fever often only seek treatment when they start experiencing symptoms, which include streaming and itchy nose, throat and eyes, or blocked nose and sinuses, fatigue, headache, poor sleep and low mood. Prior to the onset of symptoms, they tend to take an optimistic ‘wait-and-see’ approach: it might not be as bad this year. And sometimes it isn’t. But when it is as bad as ever, or worse, there is little to be done apart from treat the symptoms (and stay indoors).

Side effects

Herbal medicine can help relieve and manage the symptoms of hay fever and alleviate the need to take conventional medication which can have side effects and lead to other health problems. When you see a qualified, experienced herbalist, the underlying cause of hay fever, ie why you react adversely to substances that other people cope perfectly well with, will also be addressed, the aim being to reduce your sensitivity and therefore your allergic reaction.

Desensitise your body

A more effective strategy  is to seek herbal help before the hay fever season starts and you start experiencing symptoms. Using a personalised approach and herbs chosen specifically for you, a herbalist can help rebalance, strengthen and, in effect, desensitise your body, reducing and hopefully preventing a reaction to the substances it was previously sensitive to. A herbalist will take into consideration any other allergies or sensitivities you may have. Allergies tend to have a cumulative effect, so the more substances you are sensitive to, the more you are likely to become sensitive to, or the more severe your symptoms may become, as your body becomes more and more stressed and weakened, and less able to cope.

Anti-histamine herbs

There is a wide choice of herbs to choose from, including those with antihistamine, anti-inflammatory, anti-pruritic (anti-itching) properties, and it is the skill of the herbalist that determines which herbs are best suited to you.

Natural vaccines

I believe that using local plants is particularly beneficial, in the same way that many people find eating local honey helps alleviate their symptoms. The theory is that the local bees are feeding off the same pollens to which your are allergic, so their honey has an immunomodulatory effect. In other words, it acts like a natural vaccine.

Herbs for hay fever

I harvest my own herbs, and prepare my own tinctures for use when treating people for hay fever and other allergies. I live on The Lizard peninsula in Cornwall, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, where much of the land is organic, and the medicinal plants and herbs I harvest here are rich, strong and vibrant, and have an almost tangible energy. Those that commonly feature in remedies for hay fever include nettle, plantain, elderflower and eyebright.

Pre-hay fever season

The sooner someone with hay fever seeks herbal help, the better. Ideally, I like to see patients 2-3 months before ‘their’ hay fever season starts. That way, we can strengthen and rebalance all the body systems, including the immune system, so that it recognises, and stops overreacting to, natural substances.

Find out more about herbal medicine

If you’d like to find out more about how herbal medicine works, please take a look at my About Herbal Medicine page.

Oct 312014
 

An apple a day…Whole apples and cloudy apple juice can reduce total cholesterol and LDL ("bad") cholesterol levels, a study conducted last year has revealed. Other foods that can help include turmeric, globe artichoke and garlic, all of which are used in tincture and tablet form in herbal medicine.

Eating apples, or drinking cloudy apple juice (full of fibre and antioxidants), has been shown to significantly reduce both LDL (aka ‘bad’) cholesterol and Total Cholesterol levels in a study (randomized, single-blind, cross-over) conducted last year. Clear apple juice (much lower amounts of fibre and antioxidants) resulted in an increase in LDL and Total Cholesterol.

Garlic, artichoke and turmeric…

Other foods that are great for helping manage cholesterol levels include garlic, globe artichoke and turmeric. I also use them in tincture or tablet form as part of a herbal medicine prescription. And there are so many other herbs that can help problems associated with high cholesterol such as high blood pressure and atherosclerosis.

For more information…

If you’re worried about your cholesterol and would like to find out more about how herbal medicine can help, please get in touch with me.

Sep 212014
 

the October issue of Cornwall Today magazine has a feature on Medical Herbalist Deanne Greenwood, who sees patients in Falmouth, Helston, Penzance and on the Lizard in Cornwall, and conducts Skype consultations across the UK.Very excited to have a feature about me, and herbal medicine, in the October issue of Cornwall Today.

In it, I talk about the beauty and the magic of Cornwall itself, and the power of healing environments in our journeys towards good health. But you don’t have to live in Cornwall to harness this power. You can find, or create, your own healing place wherever you live. A healing place is quite simply somewhere you can relax and de-stress, clear your mind and nurture your soul, which will in turn support, and help rebalance and regenerate, your physical body.  It could be a hilltop, an area of woodland, a spot by the river; an art gallery or a meditation centre; a room with a window box filled with flowers, or one transformed by flickering candlelight and the aroma of your favourite essential oil. It’s a place where you are at one with yourself, and your surroundings, and feel soothed and uplifted.