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Herbal help.


Q I AM 27 and have had irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) for two years. It began when I had a stressful time after the birth of my daughter. It gets worse at period time and recently the pain has been getting worse. I can be constipated for a few days and have a lot of bloating. The doctor has suggested some tablets, but I am worried about side effects. Is there a herbal alternative?

A IT is estimated that about 13 per cent of women and five per cent of men in the UK suffer from IBS. There is no known cure and many patients find that complimentary therapies can help.

I have found turmeric tincture to be very helpful. It is an anti-inflammatory and increases bile, thereby aiding digestion.

I combine this with herbs such as Passiflora and Valerian to help the body cope with stress. Gentle bulking laxatives such as slippery elm and psyllium would help with the constipation.

Cynara turmeric tablets, manufactured by Lichtwer Pharma and the other herbs mentioned are available from health stores. Some patients find relaxation classes and even hypnotherapy helps with IBS.

Q EVERY year as the days start to get longer and it gets lighter in the mornings, I find it more difficult to get enough sleep. Can you recommend something to help?

A THIS is quite a common problem. If you have tried all the obvious things such as cutting out tea, coffee and any caffeine drinks after 6pm, and putting lavender essential oil on your pillow, then it might be time to try some herbs.

Valerian has been used for centuries to treat insomnia, and I find it especially useful for the type of problem you have.

I prefer using it in tincture form - valerian tincture 1-in-3 45 per cent is available from herbalists and health stores and can be taken at 2.5mls or half a teaspoon at night.

Herb of the week

Celery seed

Latin Name: Apium graveolens

Grown: Found wild near the sea. Cultivated inland.

History: Celery stalks are thought of as having a calming effect on the system. The seeds were used to make a medicinal oil and as a tea.

Traditional Use: Treatment for hysteria, rheumatism and gout.

Current Use: I find celery useful for treating arthritis and gout. It helps to eliminate uric acid from the system, and is a mild diuretic.

Herbalist Advice: Celery seeds, available from health stores can be made into a tea and can make a difference to arthritis. I combine celery and nettle juice to treat gout. Salus House make both juices and are available from health stores.

Dee Atkinson is the director of Napier's the Herbalist, Scotland's longest-established herbalists, with clinics in Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Write to Dee at Vital, Daily Record, One Central Quay, Glasgow, G3 8DA or email

herbal hotline

If you want advice, call the independent Herbal Hotline on 0906 802 0117 9am-1pm, Monday to Friday. Calls are answered by qualified medical herbalists and are charged at 60p a minute.
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Title Annotation:Vital
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:May 15, 2002
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