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 Water truly is the fountain of health. About 60% of the human body comprises of water; no wonder we can only last a few days without it. Drinking enough each day helps to stave off dehydration, which is crucial for your overall wellbeing. Dehydration hinders physical performance, along with digestion, kidney, and heart function. And these complications can increase your susceptibility to infection (1).

Try to drink at least 1.5 litres or eight glasses of water every day – more if you’re active. A simple rule of thumb is to look at your urine: aim for a colour that resembles light yellow to transparent.

Not all drinks are created equal Nothing beats good old-fashioned water. Although fizzy drinks, juice, tea, and coffee are ostensibly hydrating, they don’t quite pack the nutritional punch water does. Juice and fizzy drinks are full of calories and high in sugar. And caffeinated beverages, like tea and coffee, are diuretics, which means they cause the body to lose fluids. Why not swap your third coffee for a hydrating herbal tea?

Tips to guzzle more water Have two glasses of water as soon as you wake up in the morning

Set an alarm every hour to get up from your desk and drink a glass of water

Add lemon, orange slices, mint or cucumber for flavour

Buy a 600ml reusable water bottle: have one finished by lunchtime and another by the end of work, then top yourself up by dinner.

Your diet and your immune system

Never before has grabbing an on-the-go sub, microwave meal or take-away been more appealing or available. The result: we’ve become an overfed yet undernourished nation. The truth is highly processed, modern diets conspire to hijack the immune system. Cleaning up your eating 

What are ‘wholefoods’? Wholefoods educate the immune system. These nutritional nuggets are minimally processed, in as close to their natural form as possible, and immediately identifiable (fruit looks like fruit, for instance). Conversely, highly processed foods comprise of refined carbs, unhealthy fats, free sugars, and salt. They’re also woefully poor sources of dietary fibre, micronutrients and protein. As such, try to fix healthy meals using real, wholefood ingredients: fish, meat, eggs, whole grains, legumes, plenty of vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds and plenty of fresh herbs and spices. Eating this way ensures every calorie you consume is crammed with goodness.

Broccoli vs. biscuits Unlike a refined biscuit, which offers zilch nutritional value, broccoli lives up to its superfood reputation. This crunchy cruciferous veggie traverses down to the digestive tract, feeding your gut bugs, supporting immune function and bestowing various health benefits along the way. it’s no contest, really.

The five-ingredient rule Don’t become obsessed with counting calories. Instead, be an ingredient sleuth and live by this rule: limit your intake of shop-bought food products that contain more than five ingredients. By reducing your consumption of these foods, you’ll default to a healthier way of eating. Consider this: even though an avocado may have more calories than a fizzy drink, you can guess what’s healthier (…and which has more ingredients)?

Allow for the occasional treat Of course, we understand you may still be tempted by the allure of processed food, especially if you’re tired, working late, or at a social event. That’s fine, on occasion. Whatever the reason, accept this is a one-off and simply enjoy the pleasure of indulging. Just acknowledge that tomorrow is another day to get back on track with healthy wholefoods.

Tips to eat more wholefoods Try to remove all highly processed food from your house. Out of sight, out of mind, right? If you’ve purged your kitchen of highly processed foods, you’ll be less likely to stray.

Write a meal planner. Old school, but extremely helpful. When doing your weekly shop, buy the ingredients you need according to the meal planner.

Have a protein-dense breakfast to promote satiety. Protein helps you stay fuller for longer and prevents those mid-morning energy dips that can leave you hankering for unhealthy treats.

Keep an emergency snack pack with you at all times. Stash some nuts, dried fruit, oatcakes or homemade protein bars in your office, car and rucksack for when those food cravings beckon.

Keep frozen fruit and veggies in the house at all times. Perfect for smoothies, snacks, or bulking out meals.

Develop a repertoire of five simple meals you can quickly whip up. Flick through your favourite recipe books, browse food blogs, and pinch ideas from social media. Find five healthy recipes to form your kitchen mainstays.

Keep pre-chopped garlic and onion in the fridge. An excellent base for soups, stews, curries and much more. Plus, another incentive to cook healthy meals. (Because the thought of chopping onions and garlic isn’t always the most exciting.)

Make your kitchen an appealing environment. Keep it tidy, play your favourite music, adorn with flowers and plants, display colourful cookbooks, or organise your pantry with beautiful glass jars. Do whatever you need to make the prospect of cooking in your kitchen fun and desirable.

Essential nutrients for your immune system

Besides making an effort to un-process your diet, there are certain foods you should try to eat in abundance thanks to their unique role in immunity. Indeed, like any fighting force, your immune system needs proper nutrition and fuel. To supercharge your natural defences, pack more of these powerhouses into your daily regime.

Vitamins and Minerals

Vitamin C When you think immunity, you often think vitamin C. A, vitamin C is widely known for contributing to the normal function of the immune system. Vitamin C is an essential vitamin. This means your body can’t produce it; you need to obtain it from your diet.

Eat it: Vitamin C-rich foods, such as broccoli, peppers, kiwi fruits and, of course, everyone’s sickbed essential: oranges. A word of caution: cooking can quickly destroy the nutritional credentials of this powerhouse; serving raw is always favourable.

Zinc Involved in hundreds of processes in the body, zinc is a critically important mineral for health. Crucially, zinc contributes to the normal function of the immune system. Beyond this, zinc also contributes to the maintenance of normal skin, which is a physical barrier against infection.

Eat it: Shellfish, beans, whole grains and nuts and seeds are rich sources of zinc. Did you know oysters are unusually high in zinc, delivering a staggering 32mg in 6 medium oysters?

Beta-carotene/Vitamin A Hailed as one of the most extraordinary antioxidants, beta-carotene is a popular choice for many reasons. Once consumed, the body converts beta-carotene into vitamin A according to its needs. Amongst its credentials, vitamin A helps maintain the normal function of the immune system and the skin. As we’ve already mentioned, the skin is an important component of your body natural defences.

Eat it: Beta-carotene is responsible for the vibrant yellow, red and orange hues of some fruit and veggies. While carrots are often revered for their beta-carotene content, sweet potatoes, squash, cantaloupe melon, red and yellow peppers, and apricots are also good sources. Aside from foods rich in beta-carotene, you can also obtain vitamin A directly from animal sources, like oily fish, liver, cheese and butter.

Vitamin D Synthesised when sunlight directly hits the skin, vitamin D serves an array of vital functions in the body. Perhaps one of the most important is its role in immunity, as vitamin D contributes to the normal function of the immune and healthy inflammatory response. Indeed, low vitamin D levels are increasingly implicated in many health conditions. Worryingly, our modern ‘indoor’ lives and cloudy climate mean low levels of vitamin D are widespread amongst the UK population.

Eat it: Undoubtedly, the best way to obtain vitamin D is from sunlight. But you can also find small amounts of the ‘sunshine nutrient’ in salmon, sardines, egg yolks, prawns and fortified foods, like cereal, yoghurt, milk and orange juice. If you don’t get enough sun exposure and have a limited intake of these foods, then consider a supplement. The Department of Health recommends a 10μg (400iu) supplement of vitamin D for everyone during the winter months.

Iron Iron and immunity are intimately linked. As well as supporting the reduction of tiredness and fatigue, iron also contributes to the normal function of the immune system. Changes in your iron status can affect the body’s immune defences in various ways, and so it’s crucial to ensure a regular and plentiful intake of this mineral.

Eat it: Meat, liver, beans, nuts, whole grains, dried fruit and dark green leafy veggies are excellent sources of iron. Top tip: vegetarians should try to achieve more than the Nutrient Reference Value (NRV) of 14mg per day, as plant-based (non-haem) iron is less readily absorbed than the form found in animal foods (haem iron). Women who lose a lot of blood during their monthly period are at a higher risk of iron deficiency and may need to consider supplementation.

Selenium Though a little under-the-radar, the trace mineral, selenium, deserves a mention in any discussions on immune health. Selenium forms an integral part of the free radical scavenging enzyme Glutathione Peroxidase, which serve a vital natural antioxidant function in the body. As such, selenium has become a popular choice for its role in contributing to the normal function of the immune system.

Eat it: Organ meats, seafood and Brazil nuts are some of the richest food sources of selenium. Did you know a single Brazil nut can deliver an impressive 68 to 91μg of selenium, depending on its place of origin? This means eating just one nut may pack the NRV of 60μg (women) 75μg (men)!

Vitamin K2 Vitamin K2 is a rising star with scientists, whose findings suggest this nutrient may play a critical role in immune health. Crucially, vitamin K2 is essential for optimal vitamin D intake, which – as we’ve established – is important for immunity. The problem is vitamin K2 isn’t widely available in our modern diets. Although less readily absorbed in the body, vitamin K1 is far easier to attain through dietary sources.

Eat it: You can find vitamin K2 in cheese, egg yolks, butter, liver and some fermented foods, like sauerkraut.

B vitamins This family of potent vitamins – niacin, vitamin B6, biotin, folic acid and vitamin B12 – all contribute to the normal function of the immune system. Often dubbed the ‘energy vitamins’, many of the B vitamins are central to normal energy metabolism, supporting a reduction in tiredness and fatigue, and thereby supporting immune health.

Eat it: Harness the power of B vitamins by increasing your intake of whole grains, dark leafy green vegetables, dairy and meat.

Best foods for your immune system

Ginger Famous for its zingy, spicy and warming properties, ginger is an excellent addition to your pantry. Thanks to its antioxidant properties, this herb is often recommended for the normal function of the immune system.

Eat it: You can destroy the active ingredients in ginger, zingerone and gingerol, through cooking and preservation. Where possible, enjoy this root raw. You could kick-start the day with a refreshing ginger juice shot or adding slices to herbal tea.

Garlic The base of any stew, soup and curry, garlic has long been used to support immune function. Whole garlic contains a compound called alliin; when it’s chewed or crushed, alliin transforms into allicin (with a ’c’), which is the main active ingredient in this nutritional powerhouse.

Eat it: Heat can deactivate the allicin content in garlic. But if you can’t stomach it raw, you can still maximise the benefits by crushing cloves and letting them stand for 10 minutes before cooking. Try to use garlic liberally in cooking too – certainly more than one clove per meal. (Yes, it’s worth the garlic breath!)

Echinacea A plant native to North American, echinacea is commonly found growing as a cultivated flower in UK gardens. Echinacea is a traditional herbal remedy used for the relief of common cold and influenza type symptoms.

Drink it: Why not attempt to grow echinacea in your garden or balcony? With its pink, daisy-esque flowers, this beautiful perennial will add a delightful pop of colour. Once in bloom, you can try your hand at making fresh echinacea tea.

Beta-Glucans Beta-Glucans are a type of fibre found in the cell walls of specific yeasts. Research purports this fibre may support immunity by activating particular immune responses and increasing the function of natural killer cells, which are powerful protective agents against pathogens (2).

Eat it: You can find naturally occurring beta-glucans in cereal grains, like barley, wheat and oats. Some fungi – maitake, shiitake and reishi mushrooms, for instance – also contain concentrations of beta-glucans. those that have demonstrated promise in supporting immunity, however, are most commonly found in bakers yeast.

How do I strengthen my gut and immune system?

 The gut and the immune system aren’t separate entities operating in isolation. They have a multifaceted and deep-rooted relationship. Remarkably, 70-80% of immune activity takes place in the gut (3). And so, 

feeding the bugs that live in your gut – collectively known as the ‘microbiome’ – means you’ll be supporting your immune system. Nourishing your gut may prompt you to do a ‘spring clean’ of your life, re-evaluating your eating habits, stress levels and sleep hygiene.

Microbiome diversity Historically, gut bugs were viewed as ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Thankfully, we now understand this approach is far too binary and oversimplified. In truth, a healthy gut microbiome is diverse. Think of your gut bug community as a factory with specialist workers carrying out essential duties to keep you alive. For optimal health, you need to ensure all departments are sufficiently staffed. That’s why hiring a diverse workforce is so paramount.

Modern life’s attack on gut health Sadly, gut health and modern life are at odds with one and other. Over the years, the trappings of modernity – highly processed food, psychological stress, over-exercising, a lack of sleep, and much more – have devastated our gut populations. Because the microbiome acts as a critical player in the body’s defence against the outside world, we need to repopulate our gut bacteria.

Eat the rainbow Eating a varied, colourful and fibre-rich diet is one of the simplest ways to transform your gut populations. A diverse menu means a diverse microbiome. By increasing the number of foods you eat from all six plant-based groups – vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds – you can increase your intake of fibre. In turn, this may encourage the growth of happy and assorted bugs in your gut. Eating the rainbow can promote such diversity. The different colours in plant foods are known as phytonutrients. The more colours you eat, the more variety of these powerful nutrients you’ll be getting, and the healthier your gut will be.

Did you know? In a study on a Tanzanian hunter-gatherer tribe known as the Hadza, researchers found the Western gut microbiome is around 50% less diverse than theirs (4). amazingly, these tribespeople have access to over 8,000 different plant foods and, on average, eat 2,000 of these throughout their lifetimes.

The three k’s Fermented foods are all the rage these days. But don’t be so quick to pooh-pooh them as just ‘another wellness craze’. Traditionally, fermentation was used as a means of preserving food. But the benefits of fermentation extend far beyond this. Fermentation enhances the natural, beneficial bacteria in food. And these bacteria are widely touted to support gut health. For an extra dose of gut-loving goodness, try to increase your intake of fermented foods. The three k’s are a great place to start: kombucha (fermented tea), kefir (fermented milk), and kimchi (fermented cabbage).

Feed your gut bugs To look after yourself, you need to look after your gut health. Microbiota-accessible carbohydrates (MACs) are complex carbohydrates your gut bugs enjoy feasting on. Once broken down and digested, your gut bugs create various by-products, including short-chain fatty acids, or SCFAs, which are vital for many healthy responses in the body. The problem is Western diets are relatively low in MACs. To feed your hungry gut bugs, increase your intake of these healthy foods: onions, garlic, leeks, artichokes, bananas, okra, cauliflower, broccoli and chicory root.
Chicory root Derived from the dandelion family, chicory root may play a particularly important role in maintaining normal intestinal health. Chicory root contains a specific type of soluble fibre called Fructo-oligosaccharide, otherwise known as FOS. Beyond feeding the healthy bacteria in your gut, soluble fibre also draws moisture into the gut and therefore, may support regularity.

Other gut-loving tips

Lower stress. As with many aspects of health, stress can also compromise your gut microbiome.

Get quality sleep every night.

Adequate rest is essential fuel for the bugs living in your gut. Start prioritising it!

Don’t over-exercise. 

Working out excessively can negatively impact your gut microbiome. Exercise most days a week moderately.

References: Popkin. B, D’Anci. K, Rosenberg. I. Water, hydration, and health. Nutrition Reviews. 2010;68(8):439-458.

Kim HS. et al., Stimulatory Effect of ??-glucans on Immune Cells. Immune Netw. 2011 Aug;11(4):191-5.

Vighj, Allergy;153:3-6.

Schnorr S. et al., Gut microbiome of the Hadza hunter-gatherers. Nature Communications. 2014;5(1).

Nature’s Best

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 It’s no secret that we’re all living longer. At times our bodies can feel '40-something', but our memory struggles to keep pace. Does this sound familiar: You can’t recall a familiar name in a conversation, where you parked the car, or the date of your niece’s birthday – those ‘senior moments’ can be frustrating. Luckily, there is a lot you can do to keep your brain healthy and working well into the 'Golden Years.' Here are some useful tips to take note of.

Massage your memory

The more you consciously try to memorise actions and activities, the easier you can master this cognitive function. Start your day with a crossword puzzles or Sudoku, take music lessons, learn a new language, or play chess. If this doesn’t appeal to your tastes, then you can just do more to exercise your memory. For instance, make a conscious effort to learn your ‘to-do’ or grocery lists. Try to engage all your senses when involving your memory, too. Your brain will retain much more information if all the senses are included in the process of learning something new. Give ceramics a go; notice the smell and feel of the materials used. 

Step it up

Physical activity is brilliant mental exercise. Exercise helps both your cognition directly and indirectly. Directly, it supports the reduction of inflammation and insulin resistance, as well as stimulates the production of growth factors – chemicals that assist with the overall maintenance of brain cells. Indirectly, exercise enhances sleep quality and emotional wellbeing, thereby reducing anxiety and stress – areas that often play a key role in cognitive impairment. Aim for a half an hour of moderate exercise most days of the week. Sounds intimidating? Start gentle exercise effort with a few minutes a day and then gradually build up your stamina. Aim for something that gets your heart pumping: walking, stair climbing, squash, dancing, or tennis. Even housework can make you break a light sweat!

Restore with rest

Besides waking up alert, energised and ready to take on the day, having an eight hours of sleep supports your brain’s ability to consolidate events into memories. A study from the University of California, San Francisco discovered a link between poor sleep quality and reduced function in the brain’s frontal lobe, which assists with memory and processing information. Power napping (15 minutes) is thought to help, too.

 Take it easy on alcoholic and caffeine drinks

 We all enjoy unwinding with a glass of wine or pint of beer every now and then, but excessive drinking can take its toll on your memory later in life. A recent study discovered that middle-aged men who consumed more than two and a half drinks per day experienced cognitive problems and memory loss up to six years sooner than moderate drinkers. Top tip: use smaller glasses for your tipples so you aren’t tempted to drink the entire bottle of wine in one sitting.

Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness is the 'buzzword' of the moment. Alongside supporting anxiety, low mood and addiction, a growing raft of scientific research suggests this practice can improve your memory, too. One investigation found students at improved their focus and memory after meditating for 10-45 minutes, four times per week after just two weeks. The participants implemented mindfulness techniques like deep breathing, counting exercises and listening to relaxing sounds.

Organise your life

Most of us like routine. However, having the same routine all the time (driving the same route to work, or doing the same workout at the gym....) isn’t good for our memory. New experiences and practices can help your brain retain and recall information. So try why not change your lunch / exercise class / walk in the nature, and see, how it benefits your memory.

'Brain nutrition'

 To revitalise your memory, you need to fuel it with an assortment of colourful, nourishing food. Berries (especially dark skinned ones) are high in anthocyanins / antioxidants that can help the aging brain function, thus your memory. In 2012, scientists at Brigham and Women’s Hospital discovered older women who consumed large amounts of antioxidant-rich berries delayed their memory deterioration by more than two years compared to their non-berry eating counterparts. using fresh or frozen berries in your diet is pretty simple: sprinkle them on porridge, add a handful to smoothies, or munch on them straight from the punnet. 

Another 'memory boosting' food is oily fish, high in omega-3 fatty acids. These compounds have shown immense promise in supporting all aspects of cognitive function, including memory.why not aim to eat 2-3 portions of oily fish each week. Wild caught salmon, anchovies, mackerel, and herring also serve up a delicious amount of omega-3. 

Medical Herbalist approach

The approach is always to aim to help you to gain optimal function and improve quality lifestyle and health choices, whilst supporting you with the help of individually tailored natural herbal remedies to aim improve your underlying issues and symptomatic conditions.

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)

Rosemary is one of our top culinary herbs, but is also wonderfully medicinal and nourishing for the nervous and cerebrovascular systems. Rich in terpenes, phenolic acids and flavones, rosemary is strongly aromatic and a potent antioxidant. Energetically, it is warming and slightly bitter, making it a great herb to for digestion and circulation as well. Rosemary relaxes smooth muscle spasm and the smooth muscles of capillaries and arteries, thus enhancing blood flow to brain and elsewhere in the body. It supports cognition, memory and alertness, giving us that mental “on”feeling. Rosemary tea is quite delicious as an afternoon pick-me-up, and rosemary can be found as a tincture and capsule. 

When we think of herbal medicine, we often think of relaxation, massage, and essential oil diffusers. But memory – really? Well, according to new research conducted by Northumbria University exposure to rosemary essential oil is thought to boost your ability to recall things - or just rub that rosemary from you garden between your hands and smell the fresh, invigorating aroma. Experts discovered that students working in a room with diffused rosemary essential oil attained between 5-7% better results in memory tests than the control group. How about seasoning your roast potatoes with rosemary and garlic - delicious and good for your overall health.

Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)

Lemon balm is incredibly nutritive to the nervous system. It is calming and supports the mood while also increasing alertness , thus affecting the cognitive speed. Energetically lemon balm is cooling and helps us to recenter, ground and tune in. It strengthens the brain and its resistance to stress/shock, and lifts the spirits. Lemon balm is delicious herb to be enjoyed as infusions, herbal syrups, tincture, cordial, capsules and as fresh herb.

Bacopa (Bacopa monnieri)

Bacopa is also known as Brahmi. It has been used for more than 3,000 years in Ayurvedic medicine for increasing brain function, or promoting longevity. Has a reputation for enhancing circulation to the brain, thereby increasing short and long-term memory, improving concentration, mental performance and cognitive function as a whole. In herbal medicine it can be used in disorders of the nervous system such as insomnia, anxiety, stress. It is fairly bitter and energetically cooling as well as rejuvenating herb for vitality and longevity. Bacopa is an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, cerebral tonic, neuroprotective and nervine. It is a fantastic herb to use daily to support mental clarity for those that might have trouble sitting and focusing on the task at hand to promote attention, or for those who are over-stimulated mentally to combat mental fatigue. 

Gingko (Gingko biloba)

Gingko is a powerful antioxidant, rich in flavonoids and proanthocyanidins. It is a vascular tonic and improves brain metabolism of glucose and oxygen. I As a balancing tonic it brings stimulation to the brain via cerebral blood circulation, while being a relaxing nervine to other areas of the body Gingko is a classic example of the doctrine of signatures, wherein structure or appearance elucidates function: gingko leaves have a distinct bi-lobed symmetry reminiscent of the brain. As an antioxidant, it helps to protect the brain from oxidative stress and in the aging process. It promotes blood flow to the brain to improve memory and concentration, cognitive & brain function. It is important to remember that Gingko can inhibit platelet aggregation and is therefore not suitable for people with blood clottingissues. It can be used as tinctures, capsules, tea and topically as ointments and creams. 

 Gotu Kola (Centella asiatica)

Gotu kola has a long history of use in Ayurveda, and is considered to be a rejuvenating tonic for vitality and memory. Energetically it is cooling and drying. It is also considered to be a revitalising herb that strengthens nervous system function & memory.Gotu kola also supports vascular health and can be used internally or topically to heal or rejuvenate hair, skin and nails. Gotu kola is also called brahmi - which can be a bit confusing! Gota kola can be consumed as a tincture, tea, powder or capsule.

Contact The Green Herbalist Clinic's 

links on this website

for free 15 minute discussion.


i.Heisz, J., Clark, I., Bonin, K., Paolucci, E., Michalskio, B., Becker, M. (2017). The Effects of Physical Exercise and Cognitive Training on Memory and Neurotrophic Factors. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 29(11), 1895-1907.

ii.Sanders, R. (2018). New evidence that chronic stress predisposes brain to mental illness. Berkeley News, Available online: [Accessed 7 Dec. 2018].

iii.American Academy of Sleep Medicine – Association for Sleep Clinicians and Researchers. (2018). Journal SLEEP: Study Concludes a Daytime Nap Can Benefit a Person’s Memory Performance - American Academy of Sleep Medicine – Association for Sleep Clinicians and Researchers. Available online: [Accessed 5 Dec. 2018].

iv.Kabai, P., Sabia, S. & Singh-Manoux, A. (2014). Alcohol consumption and cognitive decline in early old age. Neurology, 83(5), 476-476.

v.Hamblin, J. (2018). Study: Meditation Improves Memory, Attention. The Atlantic. Available online: [Accessed 5 Dec. 2018]

vi.The Hub. (2018). Caffeine has positive effect on memory, Johns Hopkins researchers say. Available online: [Accessed 5 Dec. 2018].

vii.(2018). Herbs that can boost your mood and memory. Available online: [Accessed 5 Dec. 2018].

viii.Hopper, L. (2018). Curcumin improves memory and mood, new UCLA study says. UCLA Newsroom. Available online: [Accessed 5 Dec. 2018]

ix.(2008) Brain foods: the effects of nutrients on brain function. Nature reviews, Neuroscience, 9(7), 568-78

x.EurekAlert!. (2018). Berries keep your brain sharp. Available online: [Accessed 6 Dec. 2018].   Natures Best

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There is a quote that is attributed to Hippocrates the 5th-century father of herbal medicine that goes "Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food", although some people believe that its a misquotation, whether it is or not, there is a lot of truth in the quote today with all that science continues to show us about the medicinal properties of herbs. Yet when most people step into the kitchen to prepare the mint sauce that they will have with their Sunday lunch, they are doing it for flavour and not because they are aware of any medicinal benefits that mint in the mint sauce can provide.

When cooking, most of us know that a little basil will enhance the flavour of tomatoes and that sage can be a perfect partner for poultry dishes, and in kitchens across the world herbs are used to create flavour sensations and bring out the flavours of so many dishes, but what about the health-boosting benefits of these herbs? Like spices, a topic we’ll visit soon, culinary herbs aren’t just flavour enhancers they have powerful health benefits such as antioxidant, anti-bacterial, digestive, diuretic and carminative properties, they can help to keep the memory sharp and calm an upset stomach, choosing the right combinations of herbs to add to your meals, really can result in food being your medicine.

There are some good article regarding your gut health at the end of the article

Basil contains compounds which help the stomach to digest food, gas - sometimes referred to as wind - is caused by undigested or poorly digested food, basil can help reduce intestinal gas and aid digestion. Scientists believe that the eugenol found in basil, that is also found in cloves is partly responsible for the digestive effect of basil, eugenol helps to ease muscle spasms.

As well as aiding the stomach to digest food basil also has antibacterial, antimicrobial, antidepressant, antioxidant, anti-rheumatic, antispasmodic, aromatic, carminative, emmenagogue, galactagogue, ophthalmic, stomachic and tonic properties. Basil oil mixed with Sweet Orange oil was subject to a study in 2012 on the effectiveness of anti-microbial formulations for acne, with improvements to the skin of up to 75% in those taking part.

The herb contains volatile oils including linalool which has insect repelling properties and methyl chavicol which is being studied for its hepatotoxic properties. Flavonoids including cineole and methyl cinnamate help to generate the balsamic, cinnamon-like aroma of basil. Organic compounds present include rosmarinic acid which is being studied worldwide for its antiviral, antibacterial, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Fennel Seeds have an aperitif, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, antiseptic, antispasmodic, carminative, depurative, diuretic, emmenagogue, expectorant, galactogogue, laxative, stimulant, stomachic, tonic and vermifuge properties. Fennel seeds contain around 50-60% volatile oils including anethole, fenchone, limonene and methyl-chavicol, the latter is highly antiseptic and stimulating to the nervous system and also the immune system.

Fennel also contains anisic aldehyde a compound that is very similar in composition to the vanillin found in vanilla, both chemicals are disliked by insects such as mosquitos. The seeds also contain antioxidants, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory flavonoids including glucuronide, quercetin and rutin. The seeds also contain polysaccharides, tannins, resin, minerals including calcium, copper, magnesium, manganese and phosphorus, and vitamins including A, B1, B2, B3, B6 and C.

The seeds and extract are used by herbalists to relieve intestinal spasms or cramps due to its carminative properties, more recent studies have linked fennel with the ability to reduce pain, cramps, and duration of dysmenorrhea and give a reduction in symptoms. The carminative properties of fennel help it to ease bloating, wind, and digestive spasms in the small and large intestines, sipping a mug of fennel tea may prove beneficial to people with digestive upsets. Fennel has also been used to help eradicate bad breath, especially if the problem causing the bad breath is coming from the intestines.

Garlic has anthelmintic, anti-asthmatic, anti-bacterial, anti-cholesterolemic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, antiviral, cholagogue, diaphoretic, diuretic, expectorant, febrifuge, fungicide, hypoglycaemic, repellent, stimulant, stomachic, tonic and vasodilator properties

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Making an adjustment is an important part of living with heart disease or trying to prevent it.
A jump in blood pressure or cholesterol is a sign that some changes healthy lifestyle changes are needed.

Some people manage to change their exercise patterns, diet, and unhealthy habits with ease. The rest of us try to make changes but don't always succeed. Therefore, as an alternative to a total overhaul, it is a lot better to make a series of small changes. Once you get going, you may find that change isn't so hard.

Diet: The importance of eating a well-balanced, nutritionally complex diet is the main thing to keep the circulatory system (and the rest of the body) working and it does not ask for much in return. The body needs clean, colourful, circulatory-friendly food, making it also easier to maintain homeostasis.

Following a mainly whole food diet – with as few minimally processed ingredients as possible – is one of the best ways to support circulatory health. You can check the BBC's article about ultra-processed food. (

Fill up on fibre: Fibre is important for circulatory health; with a growing amount of scientific data suggesting regular consumption of high-fibre diet may support cardiovascular function. The recommended daily intake of fiber varies between 25 to 38 grams per day. Some experts estimate as much as 95 percent of the population is not getting enough fiber. In cases of illnesses such as IBS - high-fibre food might not be suitable. Part of the high fiber diet plans could include: Wholegrain low sugar/salt breakfast cereals, whole wheat pasta, wholegrain bread and oats, barley and rye; fruit such as berries, pears, apples melon and oranges; vegetables such as broccoli, carrots and sweetcorn; peas, beans and pulses, nuts and seeds and potatoes with skin.

Exercise: The body and especially blood circulation loves movement. A regular exercise regime makes the circulatory system more robust and flexible. Physical activity can help with improved muscle tone. Exercise can help to regulate blood pressure by lowering the resting heart rate and reducing visceral fat. The better and more resilient the circulatory system is, the it is to improve movement and increase the athletic performance.

Prepare to sweat: Cardiovascular (aerobic) activity is often held up as the heart-healthiest exercise. Research suggests pulse-raisers may reduce ‘bad’ (LDL) cholesterol, help lower blood pressure and maintain optimal weight. Remember that exercise does not have to look like a traditional exercise, yoga sessions, gardening, housework and dancing are also good forms of activity.

Aim for 10,000 steps: Deceptively simple, upping the step count to 10,000 a day is one of the best ways to get the blood pumping around the circulatory system. There are plenty of ways to increase the step count: walk to work, get off the bus three stops earlier or take a brisk walk during the lunch break.

Of course, steps are not the only important consideration here; the pace is important too. For the ultimate blood circulation workout, walk briskly at a rate that makes you feel slightly breathless. Recent research shows that high levels of exercise can lessen some cardiovascular risks. Yet even for people with high levels of activity, there seems to be a threshold of around 10 hours of sitting - inactivity, can hinder cardiovascular health.

Inactivity has consequences: The heart is a muscle; it needs regular physical exercise to make it bigger and stronger. When active (exercising), the lungs can better oxygenate the blood, and take the nutrients and other beneficial substances around the body enabling it to reach all the cells and tissues of the body. But when sedentary, fatty and toxic materials can begin to cause inflammation and clog the arteries and compromise circulatory health. Lack of oxygen from poor blood circulation restricts muscle growth and development. It can also cause poor blood circulation, muscle pain, numbness in the legs, cramps, skin discoloration, muscular weakness, slower nail and hair growth and erectile dysfunction.

Lifestyle tips: While a healthy diet and robust exercise regime will undoubtedly work wonders for the circulatory system, admittedly, it can only do part of the work. The lifestyle factors such as smoking or overindulging in alcohol may undo all the hard work. But it is not just a case of cutting out bad habits; another beneficial way to help the mental health and body systems can come from adding new routines to the daily routine, like dry brushing or a cold morning shower. Aim to have a good 7-8 hours of sleep, enjoy the company of your friends, and laugh a lot. 

Water: Water makes up about 60 percent of the body weight. Every cell, tissue and organ in the body needs water to work properly. Water can help to clear out wastes through urination, perspiration and bowel movements. Water also helps to keep the temperature normal, and water lubricates and cushions the joints (including the disks in your spine); it is also critical for heart health. Staying hydrated – helps the heart do its job.

Dehydration can occur when the body loses more fluid through sweating, illness, fever or urination from the consumption of food and water. Dehydration can negatively affect the body's organs and bodily functions, including the heart and cardiovascular system.

When dehydrated the blood volume - or the amount of blood circulating through the body, decreases. To compensate, the heart beats faster, increasing the heart rate and blood pressure.  Also, dehydration can affect blood flow.  The blood retains more sodium, thickening the blood and making it harder for the blood to circulate through the body. 

Keeping the body hydrated helps the heart pump blood more easily and allows oxygen to reach the muscles, which helps the muscles work efficiently.

To support blood flow, aim to drink at least 1.5 litres of water each day – increase the amount when active.

Some of the fluid comes from other beverages and food. Why not keep a water bottle at the desk whilst working, have a glass of water next to the bed, and when you wake up in the morning have some before getting up? I personally add lemon, cucumber, or mint to the water to give it some flavour.

Stress less: An unexpected bill, relationship trouble, a strongly worded email from the boss – stress abounds in our modern-day life. Stress is our body’s response to pressures from challenging situations in life. It can be a feeling of being overwhelmed or under pressure.  Stress triggers the ‘flight or fight response in the body: the heart rate increases and the heart muscle might have to work harder. The stress hormones – cortisol, adrenaline and noradrenaline (from the adrenal glands) – perform as chemical messengers for these effects; it is important to remember that these hormones are important for the body’s health. Beyond this, the blood vessels transporting blood to the heart and major organs dilate, elevating blood pressure. Over time, chronic stress may compromise the circulatory system.

Studies suggest that the high levels of cortisol from long-term stress can increase blood cholesterol, triglycerides, blood sugar, and blood pressure. These are common risk factors for heart disease.

Contact The Green Herbalist Clinic to make an appointment to discuss how herbal medicine can benefit circulatory health.

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benefits of pomegranate juice for gut health



Effective health benefits of Pomegranate juice are linked to helping to maintain the ability to learn visual information in middle-aged people and better gut health

The pomegranate juice and pomegranate extracts have a long history of safety, and various pomegranate constituents have been developed as botanical dietary supplements to provide an alternative and easy form for consumption (2). Human-based studies have shown favourable results and have signalled pomegranate's potential as a protective agent for several diseases. (5)

The synergistic action of the pomegranate constituents appears to be superior to that of single constituents, so it is better to eat the fruit or its concentrated form of juice. In the past decade, numerous studies on the antioxidant, anticarcinogenic, and anti-inflammatory properties of pomegranate constituents have been published, focusing on the treatment and prevention of cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, dental conditions, erectile dysfunction, bacterial infections and antibiotic resistance, and ultraviolet radiation-induced skin damage. Other potential applications include infant brain ischemia, male infertility, Alzheimer's disease, arthritis, and obesity. (6)

With its affinity to helping absent-mindedness and memory loss, pomegranate seems to have a prominent platform. Phytonutrients such as pomegranate (Punica granatum, Lythraceae) and ellagic tannins may reduce oxidative stress and inflammation, and thus could help maintain brain health (1). These symptoms can result from changes in oxidative damage and inflammation in the brain. Several nutrients have been shown to help maintain cognitive function during aging.

A trial study at the University of California (conducted in 2014-2018) suggested that the daily consumption of pomegranate juice for 12 months stabilized the ability to learn visual information in middle-aged and older adults who do not have dementia (1).

Pomegranate juice has been found to be rich in antioxidants (comparably higher than other natural juices). This effect is awarded to polyphenols and flavanols of the fruit juice. These phytonutrients have the ability to inhibit LDL (low-density lipoproteins) oxidation, therefore helping with the cholesterol build-up and reducing atherosclerotic lesion development – thus protecting your cardiovascular health and might be beneficial against the effects of obesity (3).

Another study stated that the polyphenols, when present in a juice but in a supplement, can reduce the glycaemic response of bread; and can also exhibit the potential to further modulate blood glucose (sugar) levels in the period after dinner or lunch (4).

In a nutshell, pomegranate can be considered as food for medicine. Enjoy.

For more traditional information, please click the link.



1. Siddarth P, Li Z, Miller K et al. Randomized placebo-controlled study of the memory effects of pomegranate juice in middle-aged and older adults. Am J Clin Nutr. 2020;11(1):170-177. doi:10.1093/ajcn/nqz241

2. Al-Muammar M, Khan F. Obesity: The preventive role of the pomegranate (Punica granatum). Nutrition. 2012;28(6):595-604. doi:10.1016/j.nut.2011.11.013

3. Aviram M, Rosenblat M. Pomegranate Protection against Cardiovascular Diseases. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2012;2012:1-20. doi:10.1155/2012/382763

4. Kandylis P, Kokkinomagoulos E. Food Applications and Potential Health Benefits of Pomegranate and its Derivatives. Foods. 2020;9(2):122. doi:10.3390/foods9020122

5. Kerimi A, Nyambe-Silavwe H, Gauer J, Tomás-Barberán F, Williamson G. Pomegranate juice, but not an extract, confers a lower glycemic response on a high–glycemic index food: randomized, crossover, controlled trials in healthy subjects. Am J Clin Nutr. 2017;106(6):1384-1393. doi:10.3945/ajcn.117.161968



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This is a time of year for various ‘seasonal bugs’.
You might have already had a sore throat, blocked-up nose, relentless cough and aches and pains.
The following information might prove helpful in controlling the dreaded ‘lurgy’
– as always, prevention is as important as well as managing the symptoms.

Herbal remedies work remarkably well for winter ailments and you might want to plan a visit to a local medical herbalist ( for health review and remedies.
The Clinic offers a 15 minutes initial free consultation to see if herbal medicine can help you.

Food is medicine!!

The flu can cause nausea, and rich foods may not be appealing. Bland foods, such as toast or brown rice, chicken soup or vegetable-based meals may be easier to eat. Not only are they easier to digest by an already stressed digestive tract but the meals can ensure that your body gets enough vitamins and minerals to repair and keep the body in optimum health.

Stay well hydrated: hot drinks are especially good as the steam can help loosen mucus -such as herbal teas. The ginger in this soothing drink may reduce nausea and lemon

 is a good source of vitamin C alongside having antibacterial components.


Live bacteria from non-flavoured (fermented) yoghurt can help with combatting cold and flu viruses. It is also a good source of protein – the repair material of the body.

Beta Glucans (whole grains, oats, bran, wheat, and barley): extraordinarily effective immune protectors of the body.
They are also found in fungi such as reishi, shitake and maitake mushrooms.

Eat lots of seasonal fruits and vegetables to boost your immune system thus lowering the risk of getting unwell. To maximise the nutrients – especially antioxidants - eat an as wide range of colours of foods such as - red tomatoes and peppers, green leafy vegetables, dark blueberries, beetroot, grapes, aubergines and plums, yellow peaches and nectarines and so on.

Leafy greens contain a good amount of fibre and are excellent sources of Vitamin C, iron and folic acid are important to support the immune system and have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.

Boost your vitamin C with lots of vegetables and fruit. Pineapple, apple, berries, citrus fruit, mango and kiwi fruit, are all high in vitamin C.

Boost your zinc. It’s a nutrient you want to keep within optimal range at this time of year. You’ll find high levels of zinc in meat, eggs and poultry, seafood, dairy products, chickpeas & lentils, Brazil nuts, pumpkin and sesame seeds. 

Boost your vitamin A, which is found in the diet in two forms: beta-carotene (found in red, yellow and orange plant foods) and retinol, or ‘active vitamin A’ (found in high-fat animal foods such as eggs, butter, liver and full-fat dairy products). 

Vitamin D: A large 2017 study published in the British Medical Journal found vitamin D to be effective for preventing colds and flu. Vitamin D is critical for immune health; unlike most essential nutrients, however, you can’t rely on food to replenish your stores. The main source of vitamin D is not food, but sunshine; your bare skin produces vitamin D when it comes into contact with the sun’s UV rays. 

Zinc: A severe deficiency of zinc is known to suppress immune function, and even mild to moderate deficiency can have a negative impact on the immune system’s ability to deal with the infection. Multiple studies have shown that low levels of zinc are associated with an increased risk of infections such as pneumonia in elderly adults and children in developing countries.

Increase your intake of Garlic – it has antiviral properties which may help reduce the number of colds you get. You can add garlic to soups, casseroles, stir-fries and pasta sauces as well as make your own whole-grain garlic bread. If you prefer not to eat garlic in your cuisine then, you can take garlic in the form of supplements. 

Things to avoid To facilitate the greatest way of getting better is to remember not to get overtired – thus remembering to get some rest / sleep. With festive stresses upon us - it is good to remember that the emotional stress is also taxing on the already stretched immune system.

Stress & sugar feed bad bacteria. Hormones secreted during the stress response and sugary drinks and snacks promote the growth of ‘bad’ bacteria, which are more likely to cause disease than promote health. Stress raises cortisol which over time can increase inflammation. Stress also decreases white blood cells (the body’s and immune system defence mechanism) making you further susceptible to infections.

Heavy meals - your body is at present under a lot of strain because of the illness and digestion is likely to not work at its optimum level to process foods. Dairy products, especially milk, can often increase mucus production in some people and make the phlegm thicker and more irritating. There are plenty of substitutes such as soya, oat and almond milk.

Here are some recipes that might be useful in managing winter illnesses

Recipe for chicken broth / immune system boost and vital for recuperation: 

 2 litre of water 1 large onion 2 peeled carrots 3 celery sticks 4 garlic cloves 1 cooked organic chicken carcass 2 handfuls of fresh young nettle leaves a handful of fresh thyme 4 bay leafs

Roughly chop ingredients and put them in a large saucepan with water. Bring to boil, reduce heat and cover – simmer gently for 3 hours – checking the water content. Once cooled, sieve the solid materials and serve in a mug. Broth keeps a month in a sealed container in a fridge

Cold hands and feet, chilblains (painful itchy blisters)

 Internal use: Tea: Yarrow, Elderberry / Elderflower, Hawthorn, Ginger, Chilli, Cinnamon and Rosemary in a 1 litre of boiling water. Steep for 15 minutes.

External use: a soothing balm – use base of Marigold / Calendula oil – infused with Yarrow, Comfrey, Chilli, Ginger, Clove, Juniper and Rosemary. Your friendly herbalist (such as myself) can prescribe you herbal medicine in the form of tinctures, teas, capsules, syrups, oxymels, salves, ointments and 

It is important to keep the hands and feet warm during the winter months. My lovely mum has knitted socks and gloves for all the family to keep us nice and warm during winter.

Cold and flu tea 1tsp of each: Elderflower, peppermint, yarrow. Steep in hot water for 15 minutes and drink.

Coughs and colds – herbal syrup ( prepared by your herbalist) Thyme and liquorice syrup, marshmallow, echinacea, lobelia, elderberry, elecampane and wild cherry bark.

Sore throat gargle Make a tea of sage (normal garden sage is excellent), steep it for 15 minutes and then add lemon and ginger. Gargle with the cool mixture up to 3 times a day and keep in a fridge in a covered container for up to 3 days. 

Relaxing Herbal Bath 

150g Epsom salts 20g of fresh / dried Linden blossom (Tilia europea) 5 drops (gtt) of lavender oil 5 drops (gtt) of rose essential oil Pour oils and linden blossom into a blender and pulverise - add the mix in a muslin cloth and tie it in the hot tap and enjoy the bath (minimum of 15-20 min) allowing the salts to diffuse to the bathwater. Bliss!!!


Below you can see how to make a herbal bath bag

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