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Herbs chapter review

By Andrea Walker

As a herbalist I love to read all about herbal medicine and plants. I was excited to hear that the new edition of the Stay Healthy Book by David Coory was to include a chapter dedicated to medicinal plants. So, of course I jumped in, boots and all to get my fix!

 This section is extremely well laid out and easy for a beginner to understand and has plenty of well researched information that will benefit even the more experienced.

It begins with an introduction to medicinal plants, followed by information on extraction methods (how to get the ‘good stuff’ out of the plant to be used for medicine).

The bulk of the chapter is dedicated to a description of 32 different plants, that have been carefully selected based on scientific studies that prove their effectiveness. Each has a full page or two of information and is colourfully illustrated.

It includes the plants common name and botanical name for correct identification, followed by a description of the plant, some of its history, and conditions that can be treated.

It is pleasing to see the increasing amounts of modern scientific research confirming that medicinal plants can help to reduce stress, anxiety, improve sleep, aid digestion, immunity, detoxification, increase stamina and hormonal support to name a few. This backs up centuries of traditional knowledge and wisdom of plant medicine.

Each plant ‘biography’ ends with a technical summary stating active ingredient/s, dosage, parts of the plant used, forms that it can be taken in and any cautions.

As the author points out, although herbs are natural, there can be side effects and it is important to use them in the right dosage and for the right length of time to avoid any problems. Some herbs have cautions and/or contraindications. A good example of a caution is the use of Liquorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) with people who have hypertension. The constituent glycyrrhizin, found in this plant, can increase blood pressure.

In my opinion the chapter includes a great range of plants which can be used to support and treat a wide range of health conditions, and most are suitable for use by children right through to the elderly.

With end of year fast approaching I know for a lot of us stress levels rise, sleep patterns worsen, and exhaustion sets in. The author has got that covered with some super plants…. and who could go past Ashwagandha (Withania) the traditional Indian herb renowned for relieving stress and anxiety, promoting sound sleep and increasing energy. Turn a few pages and you’ll find the ginsengs if you are feeling rundown, stressed, or impaired by age.

And, if you’re partial to indulging over the festive season, check out these herbs - Cinnamon, Fennel, Ginger, Psyllium, Slippery Elm and Turmeric. Great for digestive issues ranging from indigestion and bloating, high blood sugars, cholesterol, weight loss…. right through to constipation and irritable bowel.

There are many more amazing plants in this chapter that can improve your health and wellbeing but don’t take my word for it … grab yourself a copy and dig in!