Anna Parkinson explains the natural use and versatility of herbal medicines…

What are the benefits of using a herbal product over pharmaceutical drugs?

Pharmaceutical drugs are crisis medicine, while herbal remedies and tinctures tend to be slower acting but far more effective in the long run. When you take an aspirin or paracetamol for headache, cold or pain, you are not boosting your immune system to fight off the cause of the problem naturally, but suppressing the symptoms. So it’s always more effective in the long run (and cheaper!) to consider using herbal remedies regularly for a few days to a week until the symptoms have cleared.

Are there any particular herbs or tinctures that are specifically beneficial for boosting the immune system?

Herbs that boost the immune system include well known remedies like echinacea and garlic. Garlic, in the form of an extract of its essential ingredient, allicin, has even been successfully used on diseased trees! Botanists achieved 95% success with diseased horse chestnut trees by injecting them with the extract. Generally it is best to use herbs as near to their fresh state as possible, and there are many other useful herbs easily available to Weald dwellers. Bitter herbs like thyme, rosemary and sage are antibacterial and antiviral and these stay green all through the year in the garden. You can replace your normal cuppa with tea made from a sprig of rosemary steeped in hot water for 10 minutes. It helps clear the sinuses and relieves headache. Ginger tea first thing in the morning, made from fresh ginger, with lemon if you like it, will clear your digestion and boost your immune system so it’s a good thing to drink through the winter. Dark green vegetables, like cabbage and kale, as part of your daily diet, have the same effect.

Do you have a suggestion for soothing sore throats?

The most effective remedy I know for sore throat and chesty cough is sage tea. Take a fresh sprig and steep it in a cup for ten minutes, covered, and add honey if you like. Drink a cup of this three times a day for two or three days. If you feel the cold is very deep in your chest, do the same thing with thyme and drink that for a day or two before moving on to the sage. The rule is “Thyme for the chest, sage for the throat, rosemary for the head.” These are all powerful naturalised antibacterial and antiviral herbs that we don’t make enough use of. I’ve known sage tea to work for everyone who has a cold or a cough that won’t shift, with the notable exception of my husband, of course, who swore I was trying to poison him when I gave him sage tea!

Anna Parkinson is a writer and healer whose books include Nature’s AlchemistJohn Parkinson, herbalist to Charles I, and Change Your Mind, Heal Your Body. She can be contacted through annaparkinson.com or 07818 061605.

Dr. Christine gives us an insight into immunity…

Conventional medicine deals with treating the symptoms of illness. How does homeopathy treatment differ from this? 

Conventional medicine mostly suppresses symptoms, while natural therapies, in particular homeopathy, strengthens the body’s own immune system enabling it to fight infections and illnesses better. Repeated antibiotic treatment will harm the bowel flora, which is now recognised as a very important part of the body’s immune system. Regular treatment with homeopathy of both acute and chronic illnesses will improve the body’s ability to deal with infections more successfully. Special remedies are available to treat and to prevent coughs, colds and flu. Remedies like Kali bich, Hydrastis and Sticta pulm are frequently used to relieve sinus pressure, congestion and headaches. Many cough remedies are available and Ant tart, Ipecac, Bryonia, Pulsatilla and Spongia are used frequently.

How can we improve our immune system long-term with homeopathy or natural methods? 

The immune system is of crucial importance to our well-being and survival. It continually fights invaders like bacteria and viruses, as well as our own mutated cells. Proper nutrition is very important for a well-functioning and healthy immune system. Plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables will provide vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. It is also important to stay away from refined sugar, which competes with Vitamin C in our white blood cells, one of our main immune system cells.
Any top tips for relieving congestion and headache? Cold and flu remedies include Aconite, Gelsemium, Belladonna, Eupatorium perf and Ars iodatum, to mention a few. Homeopathy is always chosen for the individual patient taking his/her particular symptoms into account, so a dry barking cough, which is better outdoors and worse at night will respond to a different remedy than a wet cough which worsens at changes in temperature and lying down. This way the patient’s symptoms are ideally matched to the remedy, which will be most beneficial to him/her. General relief for coughs, colds and flu can be achieved with Echinacea, Vitamin C and Zinc supplements as well as saline irrigation and steam inhalation. Rest is nowadays an often forgotten, but very important, ‘medicine’ as your body needs time and energy to overcome an infection.

Dr. Christine Suppelt is a Homeopathic Physician and medical acupuncturist based in Maidstone, Kent. To find out more or book an appointment visit homeopathykent.co.uk or phone 01622 741086.

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