As promised in Part 2, here are the next herbs I use all the time for treating my chronic illness symptoms, but first I need to play CYA . . .
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, and nothing I say in this post is intended as medical advice. If you find the idea of using herbs in your treatment plan intriguing, be sure to do the research and discuss any changes or additions with your healthcare provider to ensure your safety.
There, now that that’s out of the way, on to the interesting stuff. . .
Turmeric: The next thing I ALWAYS have available is turmeric. It took several weeks before I started noticing a difference in how I felt, but now I notice if I miss more than a couple of doses. I started taking it because of its known anti-inflammatory properties; and coincidentally, the bad patch of psoriasis on my arm cleared up after a month or so. (I didn’t find out until after my arm cleared up that turmeric is also an alternative treatment for psoriasis.)
According to James Duke, the author of “The Green Pharmacy Herbal Handbook: Your Everyday Reference to the Best Herbs for Healing;” turmeric can be used to prevent cataracts and stroke; and to treat amenorrhea, arthritis, athlete’s foot, bunions, bursitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, diabetes, fungal infections, gallstones, gout, headache, lice, liver problems, pain, swelling, tendinitis, ulcers, and worms. The Essential Herb-Drug-Vitamin Interaction Guide: The Safe Way to Use Medications and Supplements Together adds bronchitis, leprosy, loss of appetite, heartburn, colic, and bruising to the list. Current research suggests that turmeric may even inhibit HIV, prevent and treat Alzheimer’s, and destroy some types of cancer cells. In addition, turmeric contains large amounts of anti-oxidants, which reduce free radical damage to the cells.
The most common side effects of turmeric are nausea and diarrhea. (I’ve had some mild discomfort; but it doesn’t happen very often, and when it does it’s easily ignored.) It can also increase the chances of bleeding if taken with some prescription medications, especially blood thinners and anti-inflammatories; and can interfere with the action of some others. If you are on prescription medications, or are taking other supplements, check possible interactions carefully before adding turmeric to your regimen.
Hops: I use dried hops when I have trouble sleeping, and use them in a 50/50 blend with gotu kola to help my husband with his ADD (not sure how much of a difference it makes though, he’s not very good at taking things regularly, and is even worse at noticing subtle effects.) Hops is also used to reduce anxiety, treat tension headaches, and is supposed to ease nerve pain, but it puts me to sleep so fast that I couldn’t tell you if they work for that or not.
According to Rosemary Gladstar (Herbal Healing for Women) hops also has an estrogenic effect, which is much stronger in the fresh plant, so it can also be used to minimize menopausal symptoms. This effect may increase sex drive in women, and decrease men’s sex drive; so it should be used with care for men, and discontinued if it causes a problem. I would recommend that males avoid fresh hops entirely, since the estrogenic effect is so much stronger, and many of the chemicals and additives that we’re exposed to on a regular basis also have estrogenic effects.
Hops can worsen depression, so if you suffer from any type of depressive illness, you shouldn’t take it on a regular basis. (Occasional use should be fine. Even though I have had severe depressive episodes in the past, I haven’t noticed any changes in mood when I take it.) In addition, if you take any type of medication that makes you sleepy, you should avoid hops, since it can increase that effect. Other side effects can include dizziness and allergic reactions, so if you decide to try it, test carefully and start with a very low dose to minimize the chances of dangerous situations. (Please treat hops as you would any new sleep medication, and don’t drive or try to do any activity where you could be injured until you know how it affects you.)
- Dr. Nalini Chilkov: Can Turmeric Slow Down The Spread Of Breast Cancer? (huffingtonpost.com)
- New Hybrid Drug, Derived from Common Spice, May Protect, Rebuild Brain Cells After Stroke (ScienceDaily.com)
- Synopsis of Turmeric’s Healing Properties (turmeric.co.in)
- Hops – Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine (altMD.com)