Undernourishment in Pregnant, Lactating Females Found Key to Next Generation’s Disease

ScienceDaily (June 13, 2011) — A new study published by the American Physiological Society offers the strongest evidence yet that vulnerability to type 2 diabetes can begin in the womb, giving new insight into the mechanisms that underlie a potentially devastating disease at the center of a worldwide epidemic. The study, conducted in baboon primates, finds that when mothers are even moderately undernourished while pregnant and breastfeeding, their offspring are consistently found to be prediabetic before adolescence. It is the first time that diabetes has been shown to have prenatal origins in a primate model.

According to Peter W. Nathanielsz, senior author of the study, “We pass more biological milestones before we are born and in the early weeks of life than at any other time.” Poor maternal nutrition, which translates to less sustenance for growing fetuses, is a stubborn problem in parts of the U.S. and the developing world, Nathanielsz said. Thus, “Poor nutrition at critical periods of development can hinder growth of essential organs such as the pancreas, which sees a significantly decrease in its ability to secrete insulin. Our study is the first to show in a primate that poor nutrition during fetal and early life can damage the pancreas and predispose one to type 2 diabetes.”

The study, “Emergence of insulin resistance in juvenile baboon offspring of mothers exposed to moderate maternal nutrient reduction” was conducted by Nathanielsz and colleagues Jaehyek Choi, Cun Li, and Thomas J. McDonald of the School of Medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, and Anthony Comuzzie and Vicki Mattern of the Texas Biomedical Research Institute in San Antonio. The study was funded by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. It is published in the online edition of the American Journal of Physiology — Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology.

Background

Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body develops resistance to insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar. Although the body may initially compensate by secreting more insulin, eventually the pancreas cannot produce enough of the hormone to keep blood sugar from rising. In poorly controlled diabetes, elevated blood sugar severely damages the heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys and nerves. The consequences can be fatal and include heart disease, stroke, amputations, blindness and kidney failure.

Worldwide, diabetes is an escalating public health crisis. According to estimates from the World Health Organization (WHO), 366 million people will be diabetic by the 2030, up from 171 million in 2000. This is a 114 percent projected increase.

Formerly called “adult-onset diabetes,” type 2 diabetes is seen increasingly in children at earlier and earlier ages. Excess body weight and physical inactivity are known causes, but Nathanielsz and his collaborators have long been interested in whether some individuals might be predisposed to diabetes from birth, or even earlier. Nathanielsz conducts research on this and similar topics through the Center for Pregnancy and Newborn Research in the UT Health Science Center’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

The Study

For this study, to avoid the complication of influences from genes, researchers selected 18 female baboons similar in age and other observable characteristics and housed them with a fertile male baboon. All females became pregnant. From 30 days of gestation, 12 females were randomly assigned to be fed an appropriate diet for their weight. The other six received 70 percent of the chow given to control females on a weight-adjusted basis. The female baboons continued on their respective diets through delivery and the weaning of their offspring. Once the young baboons were weaned, they were fed normal diets.

Just before they reached puberty, the six young baboons from nutritionally restricted mothers showed increases in fasting glucose, fasting insulin and other hallmarks of prediabetes. The 12 young baboons whose mothers received adequate nutrition displayed none of these traits.

The central importance of this observation is that the mothers’ food intake was only moderately restricted — similar to the decrease faced in the United State by many people living with food insecurity. There are 925 million undernourished people worldwide, including 19 million in developed countries, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

The researchers conclude that even moderate nutrient deficiencies during pregnancy result in offspring predisposed to type 2 diabetes, particularly if they are exposed to other risk factors in later life, such as a Western diet and physical inactivity leading to obesity. A fetus may also receive fewer nutrients due to teenage pregnancy, where the growing mother competes with her offspring for resources; in pregnancies complicated by maternal vascular disease, which may occur in women who become pregnant later in their reproductive life; and when placental problems exist. The decrease in fetal growth observed in the newborn baboons was only about 10 percent, very similar to many human babies born growth restricted.

Next Steps

According to Dr. Nathanielsz, the next step is separating the effect of nutrient deficiencies experienced during pregnancy from those that occur during breastfeeding

Probiotics may ease bloating for people with bowel disorders: Study

Post a commentBy Stephen Daniells, 12-May-2011

Related topics: Probiotics, Research, Probiotics and prebiotics, Gut health

Daily supplements of two probiotic strains may ease symptoms of bloating in people with bowel disorders, say researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Danisco USA.

 

A combination of Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM and Bifidobacterium lactis Bi-07, both supplied by Danisco, reduced abdominal bloating by 27 percent after eight weeks of supplementation, according to findings published in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology.

“These data supports the role of intestinal bacteria in the pathophysiology of [functional bowel disorders] and the role for probiotic bacteria in the management of these disorders,” wrote the researchers.

Probiotics

According to the FAO/WHO, probiotics are defined as “live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host”.

Despite regulatory walls in Europe, the global market for probiotic and prebiotics is booming: A report from Packaged Facts pegged sales of probiotic/prebiotic foods and beverages at around $15 billion in 2008, and estimated an increase to $22 billion by 2013.

Talking to NutraIngredients-USA, Dr Arthur Ouwehand, group manager of Danisco Health & Nutrition, explained that this is the first human trial using these strains for these specific conditions. Dr Ouwehand was not directly involved in this study.

“Irritable bowel syndrome is one of the most common disorders,” he said, “and in Europe, it is one of the disorders EFSA has recognised can be used as a model for gut studies.”

The precise numbers of IBS suffers in the US are not known, as many people with mild symptoms do not consult a physician, but it is believed to be between 15 and 30 million.

The long-term condition, from which more women suffer than men, involves abdominal discomfort accompanied by diarrhea or constipation. Although it is not life threatening and does not lead to other, more serious health conditions, IBS is untreatable. At present, intervention involves management of symptoms.

Study details

The researchers recruited 60 people with functional bowel disorders but no constipation. The average age of the volunteers was 37, and 72 percent were women.

The volunteers were split into two groups, one to receive the combination of L-NCFM and Bi-07 at a dose of 200 billion colony forming units per day, the other to receive placebo, for eight weeks.

Volunteers completed questionnaires, and asked to rate their relief of GI symptoms on a seven-point scale from “substantially worse” to “substantially improved”.

After four weeks, people in the probiotic group rated their abdominal bloating as 4.10, compared to 6.17 in the placebo group. After eight weeks, these scores were 4.26 and 5.84, respectively.

Compared to results at the start and end of the study, bloating symptoms were reduced by 15 percent in the probiotic group.

Dr Ouwehand confirmed that Danisco would continue to look into this area.

Source: Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1097/MCG.0b013e31820ca4d6
“Probiotic bacteria Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM and Bifidobacterium lactis Bi-07 versus placebo for the symptoms of bloating in patients with functional bowel disorders – a double-blind study”
Authors: Y. Ringel, T. Ringel-Kulka, D.P.A. Maier, I. Carroll, J.A. Galanko, G. Leyer, O. Palsson

Sage profile

Sage Information:

Sage has one of the longest histories of use of any culinary or medicinal herb. Ancient Egyptians used it as a fertility drug (Bown, 1995). In the first century C.E. Greek physician Dioscorides reported that the aqueous decoction of sage stopped bleeding of wounds and cleaned ulcers and sores. He also recommended sage juice in warm water for hoarseness and cough. It was used by herbalists externally to treat sprains, swelling, ulcers, and bleeding. Internally, a tea made from sage leaves has had a long history of use to treat sore throats and coughs; often by gargling. It was also used by herbalists for rheumatism, excessive menstrual bleeding, and to dry up a mother’s milk when nursing was stopped. It was particularly noted for strengthening the nervous system, improving memory, and sharpening the senses. Sage was officially listed in the United States Pharmacopoeia from 1840 to 1900.

Sage Tea or infusion of Sage is a valuable agent in the delirium of fevers and in the nervous excitement frequently accompanying brain and nervous diseases. It has a considerable reputation as a remedy, given in small and often-repeated doses. It is highly serviceable as a stimulant tonic in debility of the stomach and nervous system and weakness of digestion generally. It was for this reason that the Chinese valued it, giving it the preference to their own tea. It is considered a useful medicine in typhoid fever and beneficial in biliousness and liver complaints, kidney troubles, haemorrhage from the lungs or stomach, for colds in the head as well as sore throat, quinsy, measles, for pains in the joints, lethargy and palsy. It has been used to check excessive perspiration in phthisis cases, and is useful as an emmenagogue. A cup of the strong infusion will be found good to relieve nervous headache.

The German Commission E approved internal use for mild gastrointestinal upset and excessive sweating as well as for external use in conditions of inflamed mucous membranes of the mouth and throat. An unpublished, preliminary German study with people suffering from excessive perspiration found that either a dry leaf extract or an infusion of the leaf reduced sweating by as much as 50%. In Germany, sage tea is also applied topically as a rinse or gargled for inflammations. Sage extract, tincture, and essential oil are all used in prepared medicines for mouth and throat and as gastrointestinal remedies in fluid (e.g., juice) and solid dosage forms (Leung and Foster, 1996; Wichtl and Bisset, 1994).

Illustration of Sage plant.  
Sage has been used effectively for throat infections, dental abscesses, infected gums and mouth ulcers. The phenolic acids in Sage are particularly potent against Staphylococcus aureus. In vitro, sage oil has been shown to be effective against both Escherichia coli and Salmonella species, and against filamentous fungi and yeasts such as Candida albicans. Sage also has an astringent action due to its relatively high tannin content and can be used in the treatment of infantile diarrhoea.

Its antiseptic action is of value where there is intestinal infection. Rosmarinic acid contributes to the herb’s anti-inflammatory activity.

Sage has an anti-spasmodic action which reduces tension in smooth muscle, and it can be used in a steam inhalation for asthma attacks. It is an excellent remedy for helping to remove mucous congestion in the airways and for checking or preventing secondary infection. It may be taken as a carminative to reduce griping and other symptoms of indigestion, and is also of value in the treatment of dysmenorrhoea. Its bitter component stimulates upper digestive secretions, intestinal mobility, bile flow, and pancreatic function, while the volatile oil has a carminative and stimulating effect on the digestion. It has a vermifuge action. There also seems to be a more general relaxant effect, so that the plant is suitable in the treatment of nervousness, excitability and dizziness. It helps to fortify a generally debilitated nervous system.

In 1997, the National Institute of Medical Herbalists in the United Kingdom sent out a questionnaire to its member practitioners on the clinical use and experience of sage. Of 49 respondents, 47 used sage in their practice and 45 used it particularly in prescriptions for menopause. Almost all references were to sage’s application for hot flashes, night sweats, and its estrogenic effect. The age range of the menopause patients was 40 to 64, with an average of 49.76. Three-quarters were aged 47 to 52. Forty-three practitioners also noted its use in infections, mainly of the upper respiratory tract, 29 reported its use in sore throat, and 15 reported its use in mouth and gum disease, taken in the form of gargles and mouthwashes. Another main area emphasised by the respondents was its use as a general tonic, for fatigue, nervous exhaustion, immune system depletion, and poor memory and concentration, at any age. Dosage form preference was also reported. Sage was prescribed as tea (aqueous infusion) by 37 practitioners, alcoholic tincture by 30, fresh tincture by 14, alcoholic fluidextract by 2, fresh juice by 2, and fresh leaf by 1 (Beatty and Denham, 1998).

It is well documented that Sage leaf helps to reduce menopausal sweats. In one study, excessive sweating was induced by pilocarpine. The sweating was reduced when participants were given an aqueous extract of fresh Sage leaf. In a further study 40 patients were given dried aqueous extract of fresh sage (440mg) and 40 were given infusion of sage (4.5g) herb daily. Both groups of patients experienced a reduction in sweating.

Sage has a strong anti-hydrotic action, and was a traditional treatment for night sweats in tuberculosis sufferers. Its oestrogenic effects may be used to treat some cases of dysmenorrhoea and menstrual irregularity or amenorrhoea and can reduce breast-milk production.

Research has suggested that the presence of volatile oil in Sage is largely responsible for most of its therapeutic properties, especially its anti-septic, astringent and relaxing actions. Sage is also used internally in the treatment of night sweats, excessive salivation (as in Parkinson’s disease), profuse perspiration (as in TB), anxiety and depression. Externally, it is used to treat insect bites, skin, throat, mouth and gum infections and vaginal discharge.

It is thought that Sage is similar to Rosemary in its ability to improve brain function and memory. In a study involving 20 healthy volunteers Sage oil caused indicated improvements in word recall and speed of attention. Meanwhile the activity of Sage and its constituents have been investigated in the search for new drugs for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease with promising results.

ESCOP (European Scientific Cooperative on Phytotherapy) indicate its use for inflammations such as stomatitis, gingivitis and pharyngitis, and hyperhidrosis (ESCOP, 1997).

 
Latin Names: Salvia officinalis, Salviae folium

Common Names: Broadleaf Sage, Common Sage, Dalmatian Sage, Garden Sage, Kitchen Sage, Narrow-leaved sage, Sage, Salvia, Sarubia, Spanish sage, Tibbi Adacayi

Properties:
Anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-hydrotic, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, anti-septic, anti-spasmodic, anti-viral, aromatic, astringent, carminative, emmenagogue, oestrogenic, relaxant, spasmolytic, vermifuge.

Indicated for:
Aiding digestion, Alzheimer’s disease, asthma, bacterial & fungal infections, biliousness, bites, calming and stimulating the nervous system, candida, colds, coughs, dental abscesses, diarrhoea (infantile), dysmenorrhoea, encouraging healing, excessive menstrual bleeding, flatulent dyspepsia, gastrointestinal upset, gingivitis, glossitis, headache (nervous), hot flashes (menopausal sweats) hyperhidrosis, improving memory, indigestion, infected gums, intestinal infection, insect bites, irregular and scanty periods, joint paint, kidney problems, lack of appetite, lethargy, liver complaints, lungs or stomach haemorrhaging, measles, mouth ulcers, night sweats, oral inflammation, palsy, perspiration (excessive), pharyngitis, phthisis, quinsy, reducing lactation, rheumatism, rhinitis, skin, throat, mouth and gum infections, soothing the digestive tract, stimulating upper digestive secretions, intestinal mobility, bile flow, and pancreatic function, stings, stomatitis, strengthening the nervous system, throat infections, typhoid fever, uvulitis, vaginal discharge. Taken internally or as a gargle or mouthwash; galactorrhoea, hyperhydrosis, inflammations of the mouth, tongue or throat.

15-25 drops to be taken in a little juice or water, two or three times daily. Use boiling water to reduce alcohol.

Notes:

Sage should not be used by pregnant or nursing women or by people who have epileptic fits.

The plant is toxic in excess or when taken for extended periods, though the toxic dose is very large.

Sage should not be used to suppress perspiration in fevers.

Rhodiola Profile

Rhodiola Benefits

Rhodiola rosea is a remarkable herb that has a wide and varied history of uses. It is thought to strengthen the nervous system, fight depression, enhance immunity, elevate the capacity for exercise, enhance memory, aid weight reduction, increase sexual function and improve energy levels.It has long been known as a potent adaptogen. Adaptogens are natural plant substances that increase the body’s non-specific resistance and normalise the functions of the body.

Rhodiola has a legendary history dating back thousands of years. In 77 A.D., the Greek physician Dioscorides documented the medical applications of the plant, which he then called rodia riza, in his classic medical text De Materia Medica. The Vikings depended on the herb to enhance their physical strength and endurance, while Chinese emperors sent expeditions to Siberia to bring back “the golden root” for medicinal preparations. The people of central Asia considered a tea brewed from Rhodiola rosea to be the most effective treatment for cold and flu. Mongolian physicians prescribed it for tuberculosis and cancer.

Colour illustration of a Rhodiola plant.
 
Latin Name: Rhodiola rosea

Common Names: Arctic root, Golden root, Roseroot

Properties: adaptogenic, anti-ageing, anti-cancer, anti-depressant, anti-mutagenic, anti-oxidant, cardioprotective

Indicated for:
Amenorrhea, asthenia, cancer, cardiac problems, colds and flu, debility (symptoms of asthenia), depression, enhancing thyroid and thymus gland function and immune system, fatigue, headaches, hypertension, improving hearing, improving sexual function. Increasing attention span, mental performance, alertness and memory, physical exercise ability, strength and mobility. Insomnia, maintaining energy levels, premature ejaculation, preventing stress-induced cardiac damage, protect the liver from environmental toxins, quicker muscle recovery, regulating blood sugar levels for diabetics, SAD (seasonal affected disorder), schizophrenia, sexual dysfunction (male), stress, weak erections.

Research on Rhodiola rosea and other medicinal herbs was part of the Soviet Union’s great push to compete with the West in military development, the arms race, space exploration, Olympic sports, science, medicine, and industry. It is a popular plant in traditional medical systems in Eastern Europe and Asia, with a reputation for stimulating the nervous system, decreasing depression, enhancing work performance, eliminating fatigue, and preventing high altitude sickness.

Stress

Rhodiola rosea has long been known as a potent adaptogen. Adaptogens are natural plant substances that increase the body’s non-specific resistance and normalise the functions of the body. When a stressful situation occurs, consuming adaptogens generates a degree of generalised adaptation (or non-specific resistance) that allows our physiology to handle the stressful situation in a more resourceful manner. It is believed that adaptogens work by increasing the ability of cells to manufacture and use cell fuel more efficiently.

Since Rhodiola rosea administration appears to impact central monoamine levels, it might also provide benefits and be the adaptogen of choice in clinical conditions characterised by an imbalance of central nervous system monoamines. This is consistent with Russian claims for improvements in depression and schizophrenia. It also suggests that research in areas such as seasonal affective disorder, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue syndrome, among others, is warranted.

There have also been claims that this plant has great utility as a therapy in asthenic conditions (decline in work performance, sleep disturbances, poor appetite, irritability, hypertension, headaches, and fatigue) developing subsequent to intense physical or intellectual strain, influenza and other viral exposures, and other illness. Two randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials of the standardised extract of Rhodiola rosea root (SHR-5) provide a degree of support for these claimed adaptogenic properties.

Muscle Recovery

Rhodiola rosea has been shown to shorten recovery time after prolonged workouts, to increase attention span, memory, strength, and anti-toxic action. Rhodiola rosea extract increases the level of enzymes, RNA, and proteins important to muscle recovery after exhaustive exercise. It also stimulates muscle energy status; glycogen synthesis in muscles and liver; muscle protein synthesis and anabolic activity.

Memory

Studies using proofreading tests have demonstrated that Rhodiola rosea enhances memorisation and concentration ability over prolonged periods. It increases the bioelectrical activity of the brain which improves memory and brain energy.

In one study, forty students were randomised to receive either 50 mg standardised Rhodiola extract or placebo twice daily for a period of 20 days. The students receiving the standardised extract demonstrated significant improvements in physical fitness, psychomotor function, mental performance, and general wellbeing. Subjects receiving the Rhodiola rosea extract also reported statistically significant reductions in mental fatigue, improved sleep patterns, a reduced need for sleep, greater mood stability, and a greater motivation to study. The average exam scores between students receiving the Rhodiola rosea extract and placebo were 3.47 and 3.20, respectively.

Cardiac Problems

Rhodiola has also been shown to be effective for cardiac problems caused or aggravated by stress. Its action for these conditions is in its ability to decrease the amount of catecholamines and corticosteroids released by the adrenal glands during stress. The abnormal presence of these stress hormones will subsequently raise blood pressure, cholesterol, potassium levels and increase risk factors for heart disease. Rhodiola has been found to decrease harmful blood lipids and thus decrease the risk of heart disease. It also decreases the amount of cyclic-AMP (c-AMP) released into cardiac cells. Cyclic AMP is related to ATP (adenosine triphosphate), the body’s primary energy molecule. C-AMP acts as a ‘second messenger’ or liaison between the outer and inner environments of the cell. It assists in the uptake of more intracellular calcium into the heart thus promoting a greater potential for heart muscle contraction. Rhodiola thus regulates the heart beat and counteracts heart arrhythmias.

Cancer

Rhodiola has been shown to increase anti-tumour activity by increasing the body’s resistance to toxins. A range of anti-oxidant compounds have been identified in Rhodiola rosea and related species and significant free-radical scavenging activity has been demonstrated for alcohol and water extracts of Rhodiola. Rhodiola rosea might be useful in conjunction with some pharmaceutical anti-tumour agents. According to the information from Russian researchers have found that the oral administration of Rhodiola inhibited tumour growths in rats by 39% and decreased metastasis by 50%. It improved urinary tissue and immunity in patients with bladder cancer. In other experiments with various types of cancer, including adenocarcinomas, the use of extracts of Rhodiola Rosea resulted in significant increased survival rate.

Immune System

Rhodiola both stimulates and protects the immune system by reinstating homeostasis (metabolic balance) in the body. It also increases the natural killer cells (NK) in the stomach and spleen. This action may be due to its ability to normalise hormones by modulating the release of glucocorticoid into the body.

Depression

In animal studies, extracts of rhodiola, seem to enhance the transport of serotonin precursors, tryptophan, and 5-hydroxytryptophan into the brain. Serotonin is a widely studied brain neurotransmitter chemical that is involved in many functions including, smooth muscle contraction, temperature regulation, appetite, pain perception, behavior, blood pressure and respiration. When balanced, it imparts a a sense of contentment and mental ease. Either too much or too little serotonin on the other hand has been linked to various abnormal mental states such as clinical depression. Thus rhodiola has been used by Russian scientists alone or in combination with antidepressants to boost one’s mental state, a boon in countries and seasons where one is deprived of adequate sun over prolonged periods of months. This leads to a condition known as SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder, common to Northern European countries.

Other Benefits

Many other benefits from the use of Rhodiola has been found including its ability to improve hearing, to regulate blood sugar levels for diabetics and protect the liver from environmental toxins. It has been shown to activate the lipolytic processes (fat breakdown) and mobilise lipids from a dipose tissue to the natural fat burning system of your body for weight reduction. It can also clinically enhance thyroid function without causing hyperthyroidism, enhance thymus gland function and protect or delay involution that occurs with ageing. It can also improve your adrenal gland reserves without causing hypertrophy. Throughout the years it has shown to substantially improve erectile dysfunction and/or premature ejaculation in men and normalises their prostatic fluid.

Note:

Rhodiola has few side effects; however, some people report increased blood pressure. Rhodiola may thin your blood, so discontinue use before surgery and consult your doctor if you take blood-thinning medications like Coumadin (warfarin) or supplements like vitamin E.

Although rare, certain individuals who experience nervous excitability, feverish states, and hypertension, should not use rhodiola unless supervised by a qualified practitioner. Persons who experience coronary spasm and fluctuations in arterial pressure should also use under supervision.

To date, the medical literature has not reported any adverse effects related to foetal development during pregnancy or to infants who are breast-fed. Yet little is known about the use of this dietary supplement while pregnant or breast-feeding. Therefore, it is recommended that you inform your healthcare practitioner of any dietary supplements you are using while pregnant or breast-feeding.

To date, the medical literature has not reported any adverse effects specifically related to the use of this dietary supplement in children. Since young children may have undiagnosed allergies or medical conditions, this dietary supplement should not be used in children under 10 years of age unless recommended by a physician.

Yerba Mate Profile

Yerba Mate Benefits

Yerba mate has been used as a beverage since the time of the ancient Indians of Brazil and Paraguay and is considered a national drink in several South American countries.

Woman’s World writer Barbara Tunick reports; “A drink from South America has hit U.S. shores-and experts say it’s the ticket for those who love the boost of coffee but hate it’s side effects.”

In addition to its standing as a popular beverage, yerba mate is used as a tonic, diuretic and as a stimulant to reduce fatigue, suppress appetite and aid gastric function in herbal medicine systems throughout South America. It also has been used as a depurative (to promote cleansing and excretion of waste). In Brazil, mate is said to stimulate the nervous and muscular systems and is used for digestive problems, renal colic, nerve pain, depression, fatigue, and obesity. It also has bitter qualities which help stimulate digestion. It has been used traditionally as a tonic, nervine, mild diuretic and stimulant.

Illustration of Yerba mate branches.

In Europe it is used for weight loss, physical and mental fatigue, nervous depression, rheumatic pains and psychogenic and fatigue related headaches. In Germany it has become popular as a weight-loss aid. Yerba mate is the subject of a German monograph which lists its approved uses for mental and physical fatigue.

 
Latin Names: Ilex paraguairensis, Ilex paraguayensis Ilex paraguensis, Ilex mate, Ilex domestica, Ilex sorbilis

Common Names: Yerba maté, maté, erva mate, congonha, erveira, Paraguay cayi, Paraguay tea, South American holly, matéteestrauch, erva-verdadeira, St. Bartholomew’s tea, Jesuit’s tea, hervea, caminú, kkiro, kali chaye

Properties:
Anti-allergy, antidepressant, appetite suppressant, astringent, bile stimulant, blood cleanser, cardiotonic, central nervous system stimulant, depurative, digestive stimulant, diuretic (mild), hypotensive, laxative (mild), nervine, neurasthenic, neuroprotective, purgative, stimulant, thermogenic, tonic, vasodilator, relieves pain, promotes perspiration, stimulates immune cells

Indicated for:
Allergies, arthritis, constipation, hay fever, headaches, hemorrhoids, fatigue, fluid retention, increasing energy, obesity, stress, burning fat, cleansing the blood and bowels, toning the nervous system, retarding ageing, stimulating the mind and enhancing memory, controlling the appetite, stimulating the production of cortisone, stimulating digestion and heart.

In France yerba mate is approved for the treatment of asthenia (weakness or lack of energy), as an aid in weight-loss programs and as a diuretic.

It also appears in the British Herbal Phamacopoeia (1996) and indicated for the treatment of fatigue, weight loss and headaches. In the U.S., Dr. James Balch, M.D. recommends yerba mate for arthritis, headaches, hemorrhoids, fluid retention, obesity, fatigue, stress, constipation, allergies and hay fever, and states that it “cleanses the blood, tones the nervous system, retards aging, stimulates the mind, controls the appetite, stimulates the production of cortisone and is believed to enhance the healing powers of other herbs.”

Millions of South Americans drink Mate on a daily basis where weight problems are uncommon. Researchers think that Yerba Mate may be an important factor. A couple of cups a day may just set you on the course to your goals.

Yerba Mate contains xanthines, chemicals that boost your metabolic rate by 10% and is is rich in pantothenic acid, which prevents overstimulation of the nervous system. Yerba Mate has a host of anti-oxidants that boost immunity and protect against colds and flu. Studies show it is as powerful a cell protector as vitamin C, reducing the effects of aging as well as protecting against cancer and other disease. Furthermore, researchers say that Yerba Mate is a rich source of magnesium that has been proven to ease anxiety: unlike the herbal formulas such as Metabolife that reduce appetite by overstimulating the central nervous system. Drinking 8 oz before a meal can be as effective as diet drugs in taking the edge off your appetite!

Wild Yam Profile

Wild Yam Benefits

Mexican Wild Yam is a very good antispasmodic so is good for menstrual cramps, relaxing muscles, soothing nerves, relieving pain, poor circulation and neuralgia, for the inflammatory stage of rheumatory arthritis and for abdominal and intestinal cramping.

It has long been used for its benefits in womens reproductive health, including pre-menstrual syndrome and menopausal problems. It can be taken in capsules or in tea (though there are mixed opinions on the flavour). The powder can be added to creams or vaginal ointments.

Picture of Wild Yam leaves and roots.

Wild Yam’s traditional use is for easing menstrual cramps. Its antispasmodic property is beneficial for any kind of muscular spasm and colic, such as intestinal and bilious colic, flatulence, ovarian and uterine pain; for poor circulation and neuralgia; for the inflammatory stage of rheumatory arthritis; and for abdominal and intestinal cramping. Wild Yam can be very beneficial for nervousness, restlessness and other nervous conditions.

 
Latin Name: Dioscorea villosa

Common Names: Aluka, Barbasco, Colic Root, China Root, Devil’s-bones, Mexican Wild Yam, Rheumatism Root, Shan-yao, Wild Yam, Yuma

Properties:
Anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, blood purifier, and diaphoretic, hepatic, anti-rheumatic, cholagogue, uterine tonic.

Indicated for:
Relaxing muscles, soothing nerves and relieving pain. Uterine tonic. Menstrual cramps. Allaying colic and flatulence caused by muscle spasms; for poor circulation and neuralgia; for the inflammatory stage of rheumatory arthritis; and for abdominal and intestinal cramping. Wild Yam can be very beneficial for nervousness, restlessness and other nervous conditions. As a stimulant for increased bile flow, it helps to relieve hepatic congestion, bilious colic, gallstones, kidney and gallbladder problems and rheumatic conditions.

As a stimulant for increased bile flow, it can help to relieve hepatic congestion, bilious colic and gallstones.

Also known to have a therapeutic action on overall liver health, it is believed that wild yam root’s ability to lower blood cholesterol levels and lower blood pressure indirectly helps the liver by increasing its efficiency and reducing stress.

Its steroidal saponins are also anti-inflammatory , making it a useful herb when treating rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory conditions of the bowel. Its diuretic effect, combined with the antispasmodic action, soothes painful conditions of the urinary tract.

Wild yam contains alkaloids, steroidal saponins, tannins, phytosterols and starch.

Note:

Women with hormone-dependent conditions such as endometriosis, uterine fibroids, and cancers of the breast, ovaries, or uterus should not take or use wild yam due to its possible estrogenic effects. Men with prostate cancer should also avoid taking wild yam.

Pregnant women should not take wild yam because it may stimulate the uterus to contract, possibly causing a miscarriage.

Because very little information is available on how wild yam might affect an infant or a small child, its use is not recommended while breast-feeding or during early childhood.

Olive Leaf Profile

Olive leaf Benefits

 

Olive leaf was first used medicinally in Ancient Egypt. It is gaining recognition as a powerful defender against sickness and numerous scientific studies have been conducted to investigate the extract’s beneficial properties. The reported benefits of olive leaf extract’s range from promoting increased energy and healthy blood pressure, to supporting the cardiovascular system, and the immune system. Contains 500mg herb per tablet (6% Oleuropein). Suitable for vegetarians.

Olives are native to Asia Minor and Syria, but are cultivated in Mediterranean countries and also Chile, Peru and South Australia. Olive leaf was first used medicinally in Ancient Egypt and was a symbol of heavenly power. It was also used to mummify pharaohs. More recent knowledge of the olive leaf’s medicinal properties dates back to the early 1800s when pulverised leaves were used in a drink to lower fevers. A few decades later, green olive leaves were used in tea as a treatment for malaria.

Modern health professionals first started using Olive Leaf extract in 1995 when it first became available and although a long-term perspective is not yet possible, initial results are very positive. It is emerging as a very promising and unique herb with multiple applications. It shows considerable therapeutic action against many common conditions. Olive leaf extract is gaining recognition as a powerful defender against sickness, and numerous scientific studies have been conducted to investigate the extract’s beneficial properties. The reported benefits of olive leaf extract’s range from promoting increased energy and healthy blood pressure, to supporting the cardiovascular system, and the immune system.

A colour illustration of an Olive Branch.

From research and clinical experience to date, we can say that supplemental olive leaf may be beneficial in the treatment for conditions caused by, or associated with, a virus, retrovirus, bacterium or protozoan. Among those treatable conditions are: influenza, the common cold, candida infections, meningitis, Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), encephalitis, herpes I and II, human herpes virus 6 and 7, shingles (Herpes zoster), HIV/ARC/AIDS, chronic fatigue, hepatitis B, pneumonia, tuberculosis, gonorrhea, malaria, dengue, severe diarrhea, and dental, ear, urinary tract and surgical infections.

Many people who live stressful lives or who may be particularly susceptible to colds and viruses may benefit from long-term use of olive leaf as a preventive agent. Some patients have expressed other unexpected benefits of olive leaf, including improved psoriasis, normalisation of heart beat irregularities, diminished cravings, less pain from hemorrhoids, toothaches and chronically achy joints.

In the early 1900s scientists isolated a bitter compound called oleuropein from olive leaf that was thought to give the olive tree its disease resistance.

 
Latin Name: Olea europaea, Olea folium, Olea gallica, Olea lancifolia, Olea oleaster

Common Names: Olive, Olive Leaf, Olive Tree, Olivier

Properties:
astringent, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-oxidant, anti-parasitic, anti-septic, anti-viral, febrifugal, immune-boosting, tranquiliser

Indicated for:
Stabilising blood sugar levels, parasites (giardia, intestinal worms, malaria forming protozoa, microscopic protozoa, pinworms, ringworm, roundworm, tapeworms), boosting immune function, fighting infection, increasing resistance to disease, lowering blood pressure, abdominal chill, anthrax, arteriosclerosis, arthritis, autoimmune disorders, barium chloride and calcium induced arrhythmia, boosts energy levels, brain and nervous conditions, candida, cardiovascular conditions, chest complaints, chlamydia, chronic fatigue, chronic joint ache, chronic toenail fungus infection, colds & flu, cold sores, dengue, dental, ear, urinary tract and surgical infections, dissolves cholesterol, encephalitis, Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), fevers, fibromyalgia, gastric ulcers caused by H. pylori, gastrointestinal conditions, genital herpes, genital warts, gonorrhea, haemorrhoid pain-relief, hepatitis A, B, C, herpes I and II, HIV/ARC/AIDS, human herpes virus 6 and 7, improves blood flow, improves symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome and related conditions, increases bile secretions, lupus, malaria, meningitis (bacterial/viral), mononucleosis, nervous tension, normalisation of heart beat irregularities, pneumonia, psoriasis, rabies, respiratory conditions, rheumatic fever, salmonella, severe diarrhea, shingles, shingles (Herpes zoster), sinus infections, soothes mucous membranes, staphylococcal food poisoning, streptococcus infection in throat, syphilis, toothache, toxic shock syndrome, trichonomas, tuberculosis, vaginitis, vasodilator effect on the smooth layer of coronary arteries, warts.

In 1962 an Italian researcher recorded that Oleuropein had the ability to lower blood pressure in animals. It dilates the blood vessels so that blood may flow more easily throughout the system. Other European researchers validated that claim and also found it to increase blood flow in the coronary arteries, relieve arrhythmia and prevent intestinal muscle spasms. In the years to come, a Dutch researcher identified that a primary ingredient in oleuropein inhibited the growth of viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites. This chemical was elenolic acid. Further European research determined this compound to have strong bactericidal, antiviral and antifungal capabilities. A safety study on calcium elenolate was tested with laboratory animals and published by the Upjohn pharmaceutical company in 1970. The study concluded that even in doses several hundred times higher than recommended; no toxic or other adverse side effects were discovered.

Research suggests that olive leaf may be a true anti-viral compound because it appears to selectively block an entire virus-specific system in the infected host. This appears to offer healing effects not addressed by pharmaceutical antibiotics. Olive leaf’s broad killing power includes an ability to interfere with critical amino acid production for viruses; an ability to contain viral infection and/or spread by inactivating viruses by preventing virus shredding, budding or assembly at the cell membrane; the ability to directly penetrate infected cells and stop viral replication.

As an antioxidant, Olive leaf extract protects those blood vessels from damage, and has been shown to be effective in protecting the heart from coronary occlusion. When taken over an extended period of time, it is believed to reverse arteriosclerosis. Olive leaves are astringent and antiseptic. Both the leaves and the bark have valuable febrifugal qualities.

Notes:

There is very little information regarding olive leaf and how it may affect a developing foetus or an infant. Therefore, its use it is not recommended during pregnancy or breast-feeding.

Olive leaf should not to be used by diabetics due to its potential blood-sugar lowering properties.

Nettle Profile

Nettle Benefits

Nettle has been used for centuries to treat allergy symptoms, particularly hayfever which is the most common allergy problem. It contains biologically active compounds that reduce inflammation. Dr. Andrew Wiel M.D. author of Natural Health/ Natural Medicine says he knows of nothing more effective than nettle for allergy relief. And his statement is backed up by studies at the National College of Naturopathic Medicine in Portland, Oregon.

Decongestants, antihistamines, allergy shots and even prescription medications such as Allegra and Claritin treat only the symptoms of allergies and tend to lose effectiveness over a period of time. They can also cause drowsiness, dry sinuses, insomnia and high blood pressure. Nettle has none of these side effects. It can be used on a regular basis and has an impressive number of other benefits most notably as a treatment for prostate enlargement.

Colour illustration of a nettle plant.
 
Latin Names: Uritca dioica, Urtica galeopsifolia

Common Names: Nettle, Big String Nettle, Common Nettle, Stinging Nettle, Gerrais, Isirgan, Kazink, Nabat Al Nar, Ortiga, Grande Ortie, Ortie, Urtiga, Chichicaste, Brennessel, Gross d?Ortie, Racine d?Ortie, Grote Brandnetel, Ortiga Mayor, Devils Leaf

Properties:
Analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anti-allergenic, anti-anaphylactic,anti-rheumatic, anti-asthmatic, anti-convulsant, anti-dandruff, anti-histamine, astringent, decongestant, depurative, diuretic, haemostatic, hypoglycaemic, hypotensive, galactagogue, immunomodulator, prostate tonic, stimulating tonic

Indicated for:
Seasonal allergies, arthritis, bronchitis, bursitis, gingivitis, laryngitis, prostatitis, rhinitis, sinusitis, tendinitis, BPH, rheumatism and other inflammatory conditions. High blood pressure, hair loss, anaemia, excessive menstruation, haemorrhoids, eczema, gout, sciatica, neuralgia, haemorrhoids. Alzheimer’s disease, asthma, bladder infections, hives, kidney stones, multiple sclerosis, PMS, prostate enlargement and sciatica

Nettle has been studied extensively and has shown promise in treating Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, asthma, bladder infections, bronchitis, bursitis, gingivitis, gout, hives, kidney stones, laryngitis, multiple sclerosis, PMS, prostate enlargement, sciatica, and tendinitis! Externally it has been used to improve the appearance of the hair, and is said to be a remedy against oily hair and dandruff.

In Germany today stinging nettle is sold as an herbal drug for prostate diseases and as a diuretic. It is a common ingredient in other herbal drugs produced in Germany for rheumatic complaints and inflammatory conditions (especially for the lower urinary tract and prostate). In the United States many remarkable healing properties are attributed to nettle and the leaf is utilized for different problems than the root. The leaf is used here as a diuretic, for arthritis, prostatitis, rheumatism, rheumatoid arthritis, high blood pressure and allergic rhinitis.

The root is recommended as a diuretic, for relief of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and other prostate problems, and as a natural remedy to treat or prevent baldness

An infusion of the plant is very valuable in stemming internal bleeding. It is also used to treat anaemia, excessive menstruation, haemorrhoids, arthritis, rheumatism and skin complaints, especially eczema. Externally, the plant is used to treat skin complaints, arthritic pain, gout, sciatica, neuralgia, haemorrhoids and hair problems.

Taken orally, products made from nettle’s aerial parts may interfere with the body’s production of prostaglandins and other inflammation-causing chemicals. Consequently, nettle may have an anti-inflammatory effect. It may also enhance responses of the immune system. Chemicals in nettle’s aerial parts are also thought to reduce the feeling of pain or interfere with the way that nerves send pain signals. All of these effects may reduce the pain and stiffness of arthritis and other similar conditions.

In addition, nettle’s aerial parts may reduce the amount of histamine that is produced by the body in response to an allergen. An allergen is a substance such as pollen that may provoke an exaggerated immune response in individuals who are sensitive to it. Through this potential action, the aerial parts of nettle may help to reduce allergy symptoms. Results from one human study are promising, but more research is needed to be conclusive.

A solution of the extract may be applied to the skin to relieve joint pain and muscle aches. Astringent properties of nettle aerial parts may also help to lessen the swelling of hemorrhoids and stop bleeding from minor skin injuries such as razor nicks. An astringent shrinks and tightens the top layers of skin or mucous membranes, thereby reducing secretions, relieving irritation, and improving tissue firmness. It may also be used topically for dandruff and overly oily hair and scalp.

This herb should be used for a minimum of 30 days for full effects. Our Nettle is organically grown and cryogenically ground (minus 70 degrees) to preserve potency.

Notes:

Nettle may lower blood pressure and heart rate. Avoid chronic use due to its diuretic effects. Do not take if pregnant or breast-feeding. Do not take if diabetic.

Milk Thistle Profile

Milk Thistle Benefits

Milk Thistle is unique in its ability to protect the liver and has no equivalent in the pharmaceutical drug world. In fact, in cases of poisoning with Amanita mushrooms, which destroy the liver, milk thistle is the only treatment option. It has been so dramatically effective that the treatment has never been disputed, even by the traditional medical community.

Picture of a Milk Thistle plant.

Milk thistle acts in a similar fashion to detoxify other synthetic chemicals that find their way into our bodies, from acetaminophen and alcohol to heavy metals and radiation.

 
Latin Name: Silybum marianum

Common Names: Cardui mariae, Carduus marianum, Holy Thistle, Lady’s Thistle, Legalon, Marian Thistle, Mariendistel, Mary Thistle, Our Lady’s Thistle, Silimarina, Silybin, Silybum, Silymarin, St. Mary Thistle, Wild Artichoke

Properties:
Antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-carcinogenic, hepaprotective, immunostimulating, possibly estrogenic

Indicated for:
Alcoholic hepatitis, alcoholic fatty liver, cirrhosis, liver poisoning and viral hepatitis. alcoholic fatty liver, liver poisoning. It can benefits adrenal disorders and inflammatory bowel syndrome. Psoriasis. Lowering cholesterol. Protecting the liver when taking strong drugs or medicine. Candida. Food allergies.

Milk thistle was approved in 1986 as a treatment for liver disease and it is widely used to treat alcoholic hepatitis, alcoholic fatty liver, cirrhosis, liver poisening and viral hepatitis. It has also been shown to protect the liver against medications such as acetaminophen, a non-aspirin pain reliever.

The active ingredient, or liver-protecting compound in milk thistle is known as silymarin. This substance, which actually consists of a group of compounds called flavonolignands, helps repair liver cells damaged by alcohol and other toxic substances by stimulating protein synthesis. By changing the outside layer of liver cells, it also prevents certain toxins from getting inside. Silymarin also seems to encourage liver cell growth. It can reduce inflammation (important for people with liver inflammation or hepatitis), and has potent antioxidant effects. Antioxidants are thought to protect body cells from damage caused by a chemical process called oxidation. Our Milk Thistle is not standardized to an exact amount (as it is made from pure dried natural herbs. Milk Thistle naturally contains about 70 – 80% Silymarin (and many other constituents thought to work in harmony).

This herb benefits adrenal disorders and inflammatory bowel syndrome, and is used to treat psoriasis (increases bile flow).

Milk thistle has some estrogen-like effects that may stimulate the flow of breast milk in women who are breast-feeding infants. It may also be used to start late menstrual periods. Milk thistle’s estrogen-like effect may also have some usefulness for men with prostate cancer.

In animal studies and one small study in humans, milk thistle produced modest reductions in total cholesterol. However, these results have not been demonstrated in larger human studies.

This herb is a must for cleansing and for anyone with any sort of liver dysfunction or exposure to toxins.

Liver disease from alcohol

A comprehensive review by the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) recently identified 16 scientific studies on the use of milk thistle for the treatment of various forms of liver disease. A European standardized extract of milk thistle was used in most of the trials. Problems in study design (such as small numbers of participants, variations in the causes of liver disease, and differences in dosing and duration of milk thistle therapy) made it difficult to draw any definitive conclusions. However, five of seven studies evaluating milk thistle for alcoholic liver disease found significant improvements in liver function. Those with the mildest form of the disease appeared to improve the most. Milk thistle was less effective for those with severe liver disease such as cirrhosis. Cirrhosis is characterized by scarring and permanent, non-reversible damage to the liver. It is often referred to as end-stage liver disease.

Viral hepatitis

Despite the fact that milk thistle is widely used in the treatment of hepatitis (particularly hepatitis C), results from four viral hepatitis studies were contradictory. Some found improvements in liver enzyme activity while others failed to detect these benefits. None of the studies compared milk thistle with interferon or other medications for viral hepatitis.

Cancer

Preliminary laboratory studies also suggest that active substances in milk thistle may have anti-cancer effects. One active substance known as silymarin has strong antioxidant properties and has been shown to inhibit the growth of human prostate, breast, and cervical cancer cells in test tubes. Further studies are needed to determine whether milk thistle is safe or effective for people with these forms of cancer.

High cholesterol

One animal study found that silymarin (an active compound in milk thistle) worked as effectively as the cholesterol-lowering drug probucol, with the additional benefit of substantially increasing HDL (“good”) cholesterol. Further studies in people are needed.

Notes:

Women with hormone-dependent conditions such as endometriosis, uterine fibroids, and cancers of the breast, ovaries, or uterus should not take or use milk thistle plant extract due to its possible estrogenic effects.

Men who have prostate cancer should not take milk thistle without the approval of a doctor.

Horse Chestnut Profile

Horse Chestnut Benefits

 

Horse chestnut is a traditional remedy for leg vein health. It tones and protects blood vessels and may be helpful in ankle oedema related to poor venous return. Utilised extensively throughout Europe as an anti-inflammatory agent for a variety of conditions, in addition to being used for vascular problems. The plant is taken in small doses internally for the treatment of a wide range of venous diseases, including hardening of the arteries, varicose veins, phlebitis, leg ulcers, haemorrhoids and frostbite.

Horse chestnut is an astringent, anti-inflammatory herb that helps to tone the vein walls which, when slack or distended, may become varicose, haemorrhoidal or otherwise problematic. The plant also reduces fluid retention by increasing the permeability of the capillaries and allowing the re-absorption of excess fluid back into the circulatory system.

The seeds are decongestant, expectorant and tonic. They have been used in the treatment of rheumatism, neuralgia and haemorrhoids. A compound of the powdered roots is analgesic and has been used to treat chest pains. Extracts of the seeds are the source of a saponin known as aescin, which has been shown to promote normal tone in the walls of the veins, thereby improving circulation through the veins and promoting the return of blood to the heart.

Illustration of Horse chestnut branch.

Veins that are either weak and/or under chronic stress are more likely to fail and therefore more likely to allow leakage of fluid from the vessels into the tissue space leading to swelling.

 
Latin Name: Aesculus hippocastanum

Common Names: Atkestanesi, Buckeye, Castagno D’India, Castanheiro Da India, Castano De India, Castano De Indias, Castogno D’India, Chataigne De Cheval, Common Horse Chestnut, Eschilo, Horse Chestnut, Ippocastano, Marronnier D’Inde, Paarde Kastanje, Rosskastanie, Seiyo-Toti-No-Ki, Spanish Chestnut, T’ien-shih-li, Wilde Kastanje

Properties:
Anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-rheumatic, analgesic, astringent, econgestant, expectorant, febrifuge, tonic, vasoprotective, venous tonic.

Indicated for:
Chest pain, chronic venous insufficiency, frostbite, haemorrhoids, hardening of the arteries, improving connective tissue tone, leg ulcers, lung conditions (embolisms, infarction, thrombosis), lymphedema, neuralgia, oedema, phlebitis, rheumatism, sprains and other injuries, swollen ankles, varicose veins, varicose eczema, venous stasis.

Fluid accumulation is more common in the legs and far more likely in individuals who stand for extended periods of time. Prolonged standing and obesity can increase pressure within leg veins causing weak veins to swell, leak and deteriorate into varicose veins. Aescin, performs an antioxidant function and has a general vasoprotective role by protecting collagen and elastin (the two chief proteins that form the structure of veins). By protecting these key vessel proteins, veins and capillaries stay strong and maintain their structural integrity when exposed to stress.

A study out of West Germany, reported in the early 1980s, showed one commercial horse chestnut product affected both the collagen content and architecture of the varicose vein and helped make the veins more normal.

Horse chestnut contains several triterpene glycosides, with aescin predominating in the seeds. Coumarin glycosides aesculin, fraxin, and scopolin and their corresponding aglycones, aesculetin, fraxetin, and scopoletin, are also found, along with flavonoids such as quercetrin. Allantoin, leucocyanidins, tannins, and the plant sterols sitosterol, stigmasterol, and campesterol have also been identified. The whole extract made from the Horse Chestnut is probably superior to the isolated Aescin. This is a commonly overlooked mechanism of most herbs. The combination of the entire plant components synergistically can often produce superior results as compared to a refined, isolated active ingredient of the herb.

Horse chestnut has also been taken internally for leg ulcers and frostbite, and applied externally as a lotion, ointment, or gel. In France, an oil extracted from the seeds has been used externally for rheumatism. The topical preparation has also been used to treat phlebitis. Most studies have looked at the plant’s use internally. But there is some evidence that applying an ointment to the affected area may also help.

Randomised double-blind, placebo-controlled studies have shown that horse chestnut can reduce oedema (swelling with fluid) following trauma, particularly those following sports injuries, surgery, and head injury. A clinical study compared horse chestnut extract to compression stockings and placebo for varicose veins. Both the herbal medicine and the stockings significantly reduced oedema of the lower legs compared to placebo. Feelings of tiredness and heaviness, pain, and swelling in the legs were alleviated by the extract, in comparison to placebo. In addition, common symptoms which accompany lower leg swelling; such as leg pain, heaviness and fatigue, are typically reduced in individuals taking horse chestnut seed extract.

Trial studies suggest that Horse Chestnut may also be of value in treating lung conditions of infarction, embolisms and thrombosis.

Notes:

Horse chestnut should be avoided by anyone with liver or kidney disease, taking anti-coagulant therapy or who is pregnant or breast-feeding.

Topically, horse chestnut has been associated with rare cases of allergic skin reactions. Circulation disorders and trauma associated with swelling are usually the signs of a serious condition; please consult a health care professional before self-treating with horse chestnut.