The Fifteen Most Fabulous Herbal Sedatives

PhotobucketDo you ever just feel like you need to take a pill to take the edge off?

Well a lot of us get extra stressed around the holiday season, and if you don’t want to take something that will totally knock you out, try a gentle relaxing cup of sedative tea instead of popping a pill.

Now opinions may slightly differ amongst herbalists as to what the best herbal sedative is, but I think we can all agree that the best herb is the one that works best for the individual. Here are my top fifteen favorites for making in to herbal tea as they are widely available and not endangered species (to my current knowledge.)

I have included a brief blurb so that you can get an idea of the herbs that will work best for your constitution.Please always check with your naturopathic physician before combining herbs with prescription drugs. Do not take sedative herbs during pregnancy or breastfeeding.

#1 Passionflower- The intricate purple flower pictured above was shown to be as effective as sedatives in the benzodiazepine (valium) family, the aerial parts of this herb are great for nervous tension and anxiety. In recent research, passion flower extract at 45 drops daily (tincture) was shown to be as effective as oxazepam (similar to valium). This nervine herb is also “antispasmodic” which makes it great for people with constant nervous twitching.

#2 Ashwaganda- This is probably one of my favorite herbs, which is why it got the award for “Best Herb of 2007.” Unlike most of the herbs on this list that are designed to be taken at night or at least late afternoon, both ashwaganda and schisandra (listed below) are terrific “adaptogenic” herbs that help us tolerate our stressful days that much better. You can make some tea, or grab some capsules of the organic root and take two capsules twice a day.

This herb is specifically intended for those that are exhausted and agitated or debilitated by stress. In ayurvedic medicine ashawganda is a renowned anti-aging and rejuvenating herb.

Photobucket #3 Schisandra- Referred to as “Chinese Prozac” this herb is commonly unappreciated and underutilized in American herbal practice. Schisandra is a terrific day time adaptogen herb and should be taken as is recommended with Ashwaganda, two capsules with breakfast and lunch, or a cup of tea in the morning and afternoon. The berries can be made in to a nice aperitif for those with a low libido.

#4 California Poppy- The bright orange flowers of the California poppy, leaves and other aerial parts are sedative, anti-spasmodic, and mild pain relievers. This is also a gentle herb used for colic and agitation in children. Do not use this herb or any other sedative herbs in pregnancy.

#5 Hops- No I am not recommending that you drink more beer to calm down. However, the herb commonly used to make beer bitter also works as a sedative. It is extremely bitter though so is best given a small part in your herbal tea formula for insomnia or stress. Do not combine with prescription sleep aids due to an additive effect.

#6 Kava Kava- A well known Polynesian psychotropic sedative, this herb is sedative and “spasmolytic” and thus helpful for chronic pain conditions. Several conflicting studies debate the safety of using this herb with alcohol. Liver damage is thought to occur if used in large doses in conjunction with alcohol. This research however was used to scare many people away from using kava kava for whatever reason.

People need to simply remember that herbs are medicines and that an herb with actions similar to prescription sleep aids and analgesics will of course pack the same side effects. A strong herb demands respect. When used ceremoniously, or occasionally this herb does not run the risks it runs when it is heavily abused.

The best way to safely use kava kava is in an organic tea form. Look for a tea blend that includes kava, or make your own. This herb should not be used in large doses, and large doses should not be used over long term. Do not combine with alcohol, or use during pregnancy or nursing. Chronic abuse will result in a horrible scaly skin rash. Photobucket

#7 Lavender- Try adding lavender to your favorite baked good recipe. Purple lavender flowers will offer a sophisticated herbal makeover to your favorite shortbread cookies, or white tea cakes.

Lavender is great in your herbal medicine blend, and can also be used to stuff pillows, or as an aromatherapy stress reliever throughout the day. Lavender should not be used in pregnancy due to it’s emmenagogue effect.

#8 Lemon Balm- Also known as “Melissa officinalis” this herbal sedative should not be used by those with hypothyroidism as it inhibits the thyroid and is used to treat hyperthyroidism, however for everyone else it is a common simple herb to grow in your garden and make in to your own calming sedative tincture each summer. Do not use this herb in pregnancy.

I grow lemon balm in my garden and harvest it, rinse it, let it dry and then pack it in a jar with enough room for it to swim around in some vodka. Shake the jar once a day for two weeks. The vodka will extract the constituents and after a few weeks you can strain out the plant part leftovers and put a half a teaspoon of this liquid “anxiety medicine” in a little bit of water when you need something to calm you down. Photobucket

#9 St. John’s Wort- Although we think “depression” the second we hear about St. J’s Wort, we also need to address that depression and anxiety tend to walk hand in hand and this herb is not just an anti-depressant it is a mild sedative as well. St. John’s Wort has also been shown to have a lower risk of side effects than conventional anti-depressants and is worth trying for those that don’t quite have severe enough depression to mandate the use of a prescription pharmaceutical, but instead need something to take the edge off and boost the mood a bit.

If you are suffering from anxiety that has a form of depression associated with it, then this would be a great herb to consider in your herbal sedative blend pending that you are not on any anti-depressants or anti-psychotic medications. The condition “serotonin syndrome” may occur from combing this herb with those classes of medications or other herbs and supplements that boost neurotransmitter levels.

This herb should not be used by those on oral contraceptives, or any medications as it increases the cytochrome p450 enzyme system which results in a more rapid detoxification of drugs from the system. The drugs or birth control pills are then rendered useless. Standard dose of St. John’s Wort for those not on any other medications, is 300 mg three times daily of the 0.3% standardized extract. Photobucket

#10 Red Clover- Not traditionally recognized as a sedative, but as a mineral source and blood thinner, this “cooling” herb calms the system and has a special affinity to the lungs, throat, and salivary glands.

This is a terrific balancing herb to include in your herbal sedative blend as the dried flower blossoms make for a beautiful addition to a glass teapot. Do not use in pregnancy, or if on blood thinning medications.

#11 Catnip- Not just for cats. Catnip is actually a gentle nervine herb for humans. No it won’t make you roll around on the carpet or chase after things (at least not to my current knowledge) but it is still a great mild sedative.

This herb should absolutely NOT be used during pregnancy, as most herbs should never be used during pregnancy without checking with your naturopathic midwife, however it can safely be used in children by making a very weak tea. Be sure to only give your children organic herbs and check with their pediatrician or naturopath prior to use.

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#12 Valerian- Definitely one of the more potent herbal sedatives, valerian is also a great pain killer for those with chronic pain. Some people prefer not to use this herb because it can cause quite the herbal hangover the next morning and most complain that it makes them feel really groggy, or desire to sleep through the day.

Look for a tea formula that includes a bit of valerian to avoid the hangover, and if you have severe anxiety, chronic pain, or insomnia talk to your naturopathic doctor about using this at a more therapeutic dose. Always use organic root.

#13 Motherwort- The perfect herb for fried and frazzled mothers; it strengthens a weak heart and is great for nervous palpitations. Motherwort is best taken over a prolonged period of time, and because it is a uterine stimulant, it should not be used in pregnancy.

#14 Skullcap- A bitter, cooling sedative herb that is best used for nervous fear, restless sleep, and is also thought to lower blood pressure. This herb is great for people with the inability to pay attention—huh what was that? And has been used effectively to calm down children with ADHD. Some kids concentrate better when they are sped up, and some do better when they are calmed down.

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#15 Chamomile- One of the most common kitchen herbs, chamomile is a great mild sedative and digestive bitter.

Be careful in using chamomile tea if you experience ragweed allergies, formally known as the “asteracea family” and previously recognized as “composite family.” If you have a history of seasonal allergies you should exercise caution.

If not, make your tea up strong, use a heaping tablespoon and not a teaspoon per 8 oz cup of water, and allow to steep 15 minutes covered. If you don’t cover your chamomile tea you will lose the calming essential oils to evaporation. Only elitist herbalists know to do that. Welcome to the club!

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Traditional Herbal Sedative Use: Establishing a nighttime or daytime tea ritual is a great way to reduce stress, avoid binge eating, and help those that fight insomnia get to sleep at a decent hour.

Don’t forget to have your pot of tea with one of my favorite “Bedtime Snacks for Insomniacs.” Also if you tend to be one of those that gets troubled by having to use the restroom in the middle of the night, be sure to drink your tea at least 90 minutes prior to your expected bed time.

Directions: For most of these herbs simply make a tea with about 1 tsp (milder herbs use a tablespoon) to 8 oz cup of boiling water. Allow to steep covered 15 minutes. Or if you aren’t a tea drinker just look for a pre-made organic herbal formula to take in tincture or capsule form, and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Common Sense Cautions: Please check with your naturopathic physician before combining any herbal medicines with prescription medications or making any changes to your health care routine. Women that are pregnant or breastfeeding should never use any herbs unless prescribed by their naturopathic midwife.

You can find bulk organic herbs at Whole Foods, through your local tea shop or buy them online through Mountain Rose Herbs.

What is your favorite herbal sedative?

~Dr. Nicole

Reference: “Herbal Medicine from the Heart of the Earth” by Dr. Sharol Tilgner
©KitchenTableMedicine.com

Related Reading
Best Bedtime Snacks for Insomniacs
Sleep the Miracle Drug
A Quick Deep Breathing Exercise

Photobucket Dr. Nicole Sundene, NMD is a licensed Naturopathic Medical Doctor at Fountain Hills Naturopathic Medicine 16719 E Palisades Blvd, Suite 205, Fountain Hills, AZ 85268.

She believes we should utilize natural medicines to treat the root cause of disease rather than just treating symptoms, as symptoms are a message of imbalance sent from the body and will persist until they are properly addressed.

For appointments please visit http://FHnaturopathic.com for more information about Naturopathic Medicine services.
©KitchenTableMedicine.com, LLC ™

Horse Chestnut For Hemorrhoids

horsechestnut.jpgIs this an ancient medieval torture device?

No, it is simply a horse chestnut seed.

Previously used for pelting other children on the playground, for adults the seed of Aesculus hippocastanum is a fabulous cure for hemorrhoids and varicose veins. Hemorrhoids are just varicose veins as well, so if you tend to have a weak veinous system, you might benefit from this herb.

The active constituent aescin has an astringent property that serves to tighten up loose leaky veins. It is also anti-edematous, anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic, anti-exudative, and decreases capillary permeability. Read more

Photobucket Dr. Nicole Sundene, NMD is a licensed Naturopathic Medical Doctor at Fountain Hills Naturopathic Medicine 16719 E Palisades Blvd, Suite 205, Fountain Hills, AZ 85268.

She believes we should utilize natural medicines to treat the root cause of disease rather than just treating symptoms, as symptoms are a message of imbalance sent from the body and will persist until they are properly addressed.

For appointments please visit http://FHnaturopathic.com for more information about Naturopathic Medicine services.
©KitchenTableMedicine.com, LLC ™

Astragalus for Immune Support

I love the herb Atragalus membranceus because it is a wonderful immune system “shield” for the winter months.

Avoiding sick people at home, the work place, and social functions is nearly impossible during the winter months so protecting yourself with proper hand washing, and ensuring that your immune system is properly “winterized” is an easy enough thing to do.

Although these sick individuals should do us all a favor and stay home, they still for whatever reason valiantly roll in to the work place, exposing us all to the latest cough, cold or flu.

Be sure to use the root of this plant.

You can take this in capsule or tincture form, or a simple tea can be made by simmering 1 heaping tablespoon or ½ stick of the dry root per 8 oz cup of water for about 15 minutes. Astragalus tea can be added to soups, or cooked in to brown rice for an edible immune system treat. Read more

Photobucket Dr. Nicole Sundene, NMD is a licensed Naturopathic Medical Doctor at Fountain Hills Naturopathic Medicine 16719 E Palisades Blvd, Suite 205, Fountain Hills, AZ 85268.

She believes we should utilize natural medicines to treat the root cause of disease rather than just treating symptoms, as symptoms are a message of imbalance sent from the body and will persist until they are properly addressed.

For appointments please visit http://FHnaturopathic.com for more information about Naturopathic Medicine services.
©KitchenTableMedicine.com, LLC ™

Natural Medicines for Public Speaking, Singing & Sore Throats

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Everyone is always “Kissing the Blarney Stone” in Ireland for what is said to be “good luck,” however upon my further investigation, the luck that you are receiving is the gift of gab, eloquence, flattery, and art of persuasion.

We can all stand to communicate a bit better, and for those that are public speakers or singers one must not only take care of their voice to prevent laryngitis, but also stay focused and tuned in to their lecture topic and audience.

The following list of my “blarniest” natural medicines was designed with the intent to protect the throat as well as keep the mind engaged for optimal eloquence.

#1 Marshmallow: Now I am not recommending that you eat marshmallows unfortunately, I am recommending the herb Althea Officianalis, also known as marshmallow root. This herb falls in the “demulcent herb” category along with Slippery Elm, and Licorice Root. Demulcent herbs coat and lubricate tissues. Make a tea with marshmallow root, or look for an herbal tea formula containing the aforementioned herbs and sip as needed.

#2 Olive Oil: Known as a natural remedy for Opera singers, many gargle with olive oil before singing to lubricate their vocal chords. Adding more olive oil in to your diet should be sufficient enough, use it as your primary cooking oil when cooking below 340F, otherwise use cold pressed canola oil. Read: “Olive Oil Prevents DNA Damage”

#3 Water: In addition to proper oils, water plays an essential role in “hydrolipic hydration,” meaning that being dehydrated is NOT just about not having enough water in your system, you need 60-80 ounces of water daily depending on your size and activity level as well as good oils. Cellular membranes keep water in cells, and they are mainly comprised of the good fats.

#4 Slippery Elm: If you have tried those pink Thayer’s lozenges then you have had slippery elm. Read more

Photobucket Dr. Nicole Sundene, NMD is a licensed Naturopathic Medical Doctor at Fountain Hills Naturopathic Medicine 16719 E Palisades Blvd, Suite 205, Fountain Hills, AZ 85268.

She believes we should utilize natural medicines to treat the root cause of disease rather than just treating symptoms, as symptoms are a message of imbalance sent from the body and will persist until they are properly addressed.

For appointments please visit http://FHnaturopathic.com for more information about Naturopathic Medicine services.
©KitchenTableMedicine.com, LLC ™

Night Sweats

Night sweats or night time “hot flashes” can be a very frustrating problem for women in menopause or peri-menopause.

Typically a hot flash is an experience of intense heat with sweating and increased heartbeat. The hot flash can last for a few minutes or up to 30 minutes.

Usually the sensation of heat begins on the face or chest, or back of the neck and then spreads throughout the entire body. The skin will feel hot to the touch.

Recently I received this reader question:

Q: “I’m a 44 year old female, and several nights a month I get “night sweats.” About 10 years ago, my doctor suggested using Evening Primrose Oil, which helped for a while, but doesn’t any longer. Any suggestions? What else can I try for night sweats?” Read more

Photobucket Dr. Nicole Sundene, NMD is a licensed Naturopathic Medical Doctor at Fountain Hills Naturopathic Medicine 16719 E Palisades Blvd, Suite 205, Fountain Hills, AZ 85268.

She believes we should utilize natural medicines to treat the root cause of disease rather than just treating symptoms, as symptoms are a message of imbalance sent from the body and will persist until they are properly addressed.

For appointments please visit http://FHnaturopathic.com for more information about Naturopathic Medicine services.
©KitchenTableMedicine.com, LLC ™

Aura Cacia’s Lavender Harvest, Mommy’s Secret Weapon

PhotobucketBy Kat Lee

I have friends whose children drop off to sleep peacefully, alone, and fast; and I must confess that I secretly hate them. Okay, hate is not really the right word, but I seriously envy them.

My children require ninja mommy skills when bedtime arrives. If your children are like this, then you totally know what I mean by that.

You carefully arrange everything: mood, lighting, temperature. Then, you must sit nearby (or completely underneath and entangled between) your children until they become unconscious.

Now comes the tricky part – extricating yourself from this situation so that you can watch Heroes. You slowly twist and pull and wrangle yourself free from the children, then quietly tiptoe out of the room like a midnight assassin.

Sound familiar? If so, then I have just discovered a secret weapon that you may be interested in: Aura Cacia’s Lavender Harvest essential oil. The other night I placed one of their neat pocket diffusers (full of lavender) into the kids’ bedroom a bit before bedtime.

They lay down, as usual, and I sat nearby (not even an arm around them!) to see what would happen. They chatted a bit, then quieted down… then they fell asleep. I tiptoed out of the room in utter amazement. Who knew something as simple as lavender could be so effective?

I can assure you that this ninja mommy will never be caught without a supply of lavender oil again. That and Benadryl (just kidding).

Photobucket Dr. Nicole Sundene, NMD is a licensed Naturopathic Medical Doctor at Fountain Hills Naturopathic Medicine 16719 E Palisades Blvd, Suite 205, Fountain Hills, AZ 85268.

She believes we should utilize natural medicines to treat the root cause of disease rather than just treating symptoms, as symptoms are a message of imbalance sent from the body and will persist until they are properly addressed.

For appointments please visit http://FHnaturopathic.com for more information about Naturopathic Medicine services.
©KitchenTableMedicine.com, LLC ™

Foxglove: Poisonous or Life Saving?

foxglovedigitalis.jpgDid you know those pink and white “Gnome Hats” lining our roadsides in the Pacific Northwest can either kill you or save your life?

Formally known as Digitalis purpurea, this beautiful plant contains a powerful herbal medicine that saves lives every single day for those with heart disease.

Now, one should never make any medicine on their own with foxglove, as it can kill you. Foxglove is a poisonous plant. However, the poisonous mechanism that the cardiac glycosides from Digitalis exhibit to cause cardiac arrest, actually improve contractility in the heart of those with congestive heart failure.

In small controlled doses, the medicine of this plant has smartly been synthesized by scientists to create the drug Digoxin, a pharmaceutical derivative of Digitalis. Digoxin is used to improve contractility of the heart in those that have congestive heart failure, atrial fibrillation, supraventricular tachycardia, and paroxysmal atrial tachycardia.

Anyone doubting that plants contain medicine should in addition avoid the use of prescription pharmaceuticals, as many drugs that we commonly use such as aspirin also originate from nature. If you doubt herbs have medicine in them, then you should doubt the pharmacology of the prescription drugs you take as well.

Try arguing with a willow tree about its salicin and salicylic acid constituents. The salicylic acid found in willow bark was simply synthesized and buffered into “acetyl salicylic acid” which is what we commonly use as the drug “aspirin” for just about everything that ails us. The buffering agent was simply added to protect the stomach lining.

Aspirin is just glorified herbal medicine at its finest! Herbs are the original medicine. Money drives the bottom line behind the domination of pharmaceutical agents used by our country. A willow tree cannot be patented, but a buffered form of its derivative certainly can! Yet another reason why America spends the most money on health care, yet we are still only second to Finland as the unhealthiest people in the world.

*Dr. Nicole looks around, paranoid that she may be offed by a drug rep and their donuts*

Some herbs such as foxglove contain powerful medicines that can do a great deal of harm. But, when used appropriately and with the correct wisdom and intentions, herbs can also do a great deal of help. What we need to do with alternative medicine is quit wasting time arguing about whether or not plants can be used as medicine. Herbalists, scientists, naturopaths, MD’s, and pharmaceutical companies need to instead combine their intelligence to create more helpful drugs such as Digoxin.

If something as common as foxglove growing like a weed around us can save a patient with a weak heart, just think of what kinds of cures for cancer, AIDS, or other incurable diseases that we might be able to develop from the plants around us!

Who knows? Maybe the cure for the common cold is growing in your backyard right now; it has just yet to be discovered.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen table.

~Dr. Nicole

Naturopathic Physician

www.KitchenTableMedicine.com

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Photobucket Dr. Nicole Sundene, NMD is a licensed Naturopathic Medical Doctor at Fountain Hills Naturopathic Medicine 16719 E Palisades Blvd, Suite 205, Fountain Hills, AZ 85268.

She believes we should utilize natural medicines to treat the root cause of disease rather than just treating symptoms, as symptoms are a message of imbalance sent from the body and will persist until they are properly addressed.

For appointments please visit http://FHnaturopathic.com for more information about Naturopathic Medicine services.
©KitchenTableMedicine.com, LLC ™

What is a Weed?

whatisaweed.jpg“The only difference between a flower and a weed is judgment.”

I remember as a child having a hard time understanding what the “bad things” were that grew in our garden.

What were these dreaded things called “weeds” that had my parents in such fits?

“Is this a weed, Mom?” I would constantly ask, paranoid to make a mistake and pull the wrong thing again. Once, you see, I had mistakenly pulled up all the starts my mom had freshly planted; tossed them in the bucket, leaving all the trusty weeds I would in time learn to love as a naturopath behind to proliferate in the ground.

Perhaps I am not a very good mindless laborer, or perhaps I see the beauty of nature a little differently than most. Maybe I was just meant to be a naturopathic physician and spokesperson for the herbs that naturally grow around us.

Did you know that some of the “weeds” you are pulling from your garden are actually medicinal herbs?

For instance in Washington state, “weeds” such as stinging nettles, dandelions, red clover, plantain, cleavers, devil’s club, stinky Bob, and what not all have medicinal values that can be used after the “weed” is pulled from the garden.

So why spray your garden with poisons? Chemicals we once commonly used to kill weeds such as Roundup are shown to cause leukemia and lymphoma. Surely you don’t want to increase your odds of developing cancer by pumping poisons in to your garden? Toxic chemicals that kill weeds also kill us slowly. Pesticides are not just bad for adults, but they are even worse for the pets and children that actively play in them.

Instead of spraying your weeds, sit back and see what weeds grow naturally, and learn to use them as herbal medicines when it is their time to be pulled. Any herbalist will tell you that the best herbs for you are most likely the ones that grow naturally around you. As a naturopath I always watch for this interesting phenomena when visiting friends and family, and have discovered there is a great deal of wisdom to the plants that decide to grow around us.

The St. John’s Wort grows in the depressed person’s yard. The liver cleansing Dandelions grow abundantly in the alcoholics grass. Blood building Nettles abound around those with anemia. The stressed mom has California Poppies and Lemon Balm growing around her for comfort. A family friend fighting cancer has an entire field of red clover strangely growing behind her, and so on and so forth my herbal observations go…

Chances are you don’t need some fancy plant from the rain forest to keep your health in check. Chances are the weeds fighting to grow in your garden are the best thing for you. They simply need a spokesperson like me to “sell them” to you.

So, what is a weed?

True “weeds” in my mind, are typically invasive plants not indigenous to the area they are growing in. Scotchbroom for instance, in Washington state, is an invasive plant that is slowly destroying the ecosystem in the Pacific Northwest as it takes over the terrain everywhere it goes, as is bamboo.

But is this just a game of survival of the fittest? Should we allow invasive weeds to take over?

Doing so actually runs the risk of causing extinction of some of our native species of plants. True invasive weeds are not just wreaking havoc on our marigolds and rose gardens. They are also destroying our habitats and the delicate ecosystem and animals that depend on them.

To learn more about the native ethnobotany of your area, keep your eyes peeled for some herb walks offered locally to learn a new appreciation for the plants that proliferate around you. If you subscribe to my blog and keep up with my articles over time you will also learn how to make friends with all of my favorite plants.

“Love is no hot-house flower, but a wild plant, born of a wet night, born of an hour of sunshine; sprung from wild seed, blown along the road by a wild wind. A wild plant that, when it blooms by chance within the hedge of our gardens, we call a flower; and when it blooms outside we call a weed; but, flower or weed, whose scent and colour are always, wild!”

~John Galsworthy

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen table, now go make friends with some weeds!

~Dr. Nicole

Naturopathic Physician

www.KitchenTableMedicine.com

Photobucket Dr. Nicole Sundene, NMD is a licensed Naturopathic Medical Doctor at Fountain Hills Naturopathic Medicine 16719 E Palisades Blvd, Suite 205, Fountain Hills, AZ 85268.

She believes we should utilize natural medicines to treat the root cause of disease rather than just treating symptoms, as symptoms are a message of imbalance sent from the body and will persist until they are properly addressed.

For appointments please visit http://FHnaturopathic.com for more information about Naturopathic Medicine services.
©KitchenTableMedicine.com, LLC ™

Rosemary for Remembrance

rosemaryforremembrance.jpg

Rosemary is a great herb for memory.

Rosemary is often added to recipes dedicated to those that did not survive breast cancer for “remembrance”.

William Shakespeare even wrote in the play Hamlet, “There is rosemary, and that is for remembrance”.

Not too long ago we had some random spring snow here in Seattle, and whenever the sun is not shining (almost all the time) I am drawn to the garden for some sort of UV-free inspiration. Read more

Photobucket Dr. Nicole Sundene, NMD is a licensed Naturopathic Medical Doctor at Fountain Hills Naturopathic Medicine 16719 E Palisades Blvd, Suite 205, Fountain Hills, AZ 85268.

She believes we should utilize natural medicines to treat the root cause of disease rather than just treating symptoms, as symptoms are a message of imbalance sent from the body and will persist until they are properly addressed.

For appointments please visit http://FHnaturopathic.com for more information about Naturopathic Medicine services.
©KitchenTableMedicine.com, LLC ™

Dandelions: Love Your Liver

April 23, 2008 by Dr. Nicole Sundene  
Filed under Detox, Herbal Medicine, Kitchen Sink

PhotobucketBy Dr. Nicole Sundene

Yesterday while watching my hero, Martha Stewart, a guest in her audience asked the HORRIFYING question “Martha, what do I do to kill the dandelions growing in my garden?”

Martha and I simultaneously stopped everything we were doing and stared blankly at this woman for a few moments, not really understanding WHY someone would want to kill dandelions OR pump poison in their yard.

My multi-tasking came to a screaching halt as I anticipated Martha’s answer, fingers held hovering above the keyboard.

“Perhaps you should make some dandelion wine, or a nice green salad with the tender leaves instead of poisoning your yard with herbicides…” I proudly watched my mentor respond. Read more

Photobucket Dr. Nicole Sundene, NMD is a licensed Naturopathic Medical Doctor at Fountain Hills Naturopathic Medicine 16719 E Palisades Blvd, Suite 205, Fountain Hills, AZ 85268.

She believes we should utilize natural medicines to treat the root cause of disease rather than just treating symptoms, as symptoms are a message of imbalance sent from the body and will persist until they are properly addressed.

For appointments please visit http://FHnaturopathic.com for more information about Naturopathic Medicine services.
©KitchenTableMedicine.com, LLC ™

What can I do naturally to help my Scleroderma? And Automimmunity in General…

PhotobucketFor those of you unaware of what scleroderma is, first let’s review that scleroderma is an autoimmune disease that results in progressive fibrosis of the system as collagen connective tissue fibers overgrow and become deposited inappropriately in the blood vessels.

Symptoms typically begin with Raynauds (lack of blood flow to fingers, pallor, pain and paresthesaias) accompanied by edema of the fingers, and tightening of the skin. Scleroderma can also be associated with a CREST variant which is an acronym for Calcinosis, Raynauds phenomena, Esophageal dysfunction, Sclerodactyly and Telangectasia. Primarily we are concerned with end organ failure as these collagen fibers become deposited in the kidneys, heart, bowel and lungs.

First I will discuss diet and lifestyle factors important for this disease, followed by a highly researched herbal medicine known to modulate the aberrant connective tissue production. Read more

Photobucket Dr. Nicole Sundene, NMD is a licensed Naturopathic Medical Doctor at Fountain Hills Naturopathic Medicine 16719 E Palisades Blvd, Suite 205, Fountain Hills, AZ 85268.

She believes we should utilize natural medicines to treat the root cause of disease rather than just treating symptoms, as symptoms are a message of imbalance sent from the body and will persist until they are properly addressed.

For appointments please visit http://FHnaturopathic.com for more information about Naturopathic Medicine services.
©KitchenTableMedicine.com, LLC ™

The Healing Power of Stinging Nettles

April 8, 2008 by Dr. Nicole Sundene  
Filed under Allergies, Herbal Medicine

Let’s welcome to the kitchen table one of my favorite healing herbs…The Notorious Stinging Nettle.

Now many of you may think nettles are a pesky weed, but that is simply an exception to the rule that “ignorance is bliss”.

Wisely putting the weeds in your garden to good use after you pull them will serve your health well in the long run. Nettles are formerly referred to as Urtica diocia and fondly referred to by Native Americans as “Indian Spinach”.

My hope at least is for those of you with seasonal allergies, arthritis and enlarged prostates to gain new appreciation, if not complete love and adoration for this fabulous plant.

The freeze dried herb can be used as an alternative to anti-histamines for allergy season. Nettle leaves are also known to be useful for arthritis, asthma, and edema; and are especially helpful in treating long term chronic illness as they are a nutritive plant rich in minerals such as potassium, calcium, and magnesium. Read more

Photobucket Dr. Nicole Sundene, NMD is a licensed Naturopathic Medical Doctor at Fountain Hills Naturopathic Medicine 16719 E Palisades Blvd, Suite 205, Fountain Hills, AZ 85268.

She believes we should utilize natural medicines to treat the root cause of disease rather than just treating symptoms, as symptoms are a message of imbalance sent from the body and will persist until they are properly addressed.

For appointments please visit http://FHnaturopathic.com for more information about Naturopathic Medicine services.
©KitchenTableMedicine.com, LLC ™

Garlic’s Many Uses

February 5, 2008 by Kitchen Table Medicine  
Filed under Heart Disease, Herbal Medicine

PhotobucketGarlic, botanically known as Allium Sativum, is used for reducing high blood pressure, preventing age-related vascular changes, reducing reinfarction and mortality post-MI, decreasing LDL (bad) and VLDL cholesterol, and increasing HDL (good) cholesterol for coronary heart disease.

Garlic is also used in Chinese medicine for diarrhea, amoebic and bacterial dysentery, tuberculosis, bloody urine, diphtheria, whooping cough, scalp ringworm, hypersensitive teeth and vaginal trichomoniasis.

Traditionally, garlic has had many other uses as well, including the treatment of colds and flu, fever, cough, headache, stomach ache, sinus congestion, athlete’s foot, gout, rheumatism, hemorrhoids, asthma, bronchitis, shortness of breath, arteriosclerosis, low blood pressure, hypoglycemia, hyperglycemia, cancer, old ulcers, snakebites and as an aphrodisiac. In foods and beverages, garlic and its components are used for flavoring.

Effectiveness

The bulb and clove are the applicable parts of garlic. Garlic has proven effects that include antibacterial, antihelmintic (worms), antimycotic (fungal), antiviral, antispasmodic, diaphoretic, expectorant, fibrinolytic, hypotensive, promoting leukocytosis, lipid-lowering (total serum cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides) and inhibiting platelet aggregation.

Possible Mechanism of Action and Active Ingredients

An odorless amino acid, alliin, is contained in intact garlic cells. When the intact cells are broken, alliin comes into contact with an enzyme called allinase and produces an unstable and odiferous compound called allicin (antibacterial). Further conversion of allicin yields the components E-ajoene and Z-ajoene (antithrombotic). Another constituent, allylpropyl disulfide, can reduce blood sugar while increasing insulin.

Safety

Typically, garlic is taken orally as a component of food or as a dietary supplement. This would be the equivalent of 1 clove fresh garlic taken 1-2 times daily. Garlic is safe in adults when ingested in amounts commonly found in foods and when used orally and appropriately in medicinal amounts. In larger amounts and topically, it is possibly unsafe. In children, large amounts taken orally can be dangerous or even fatal. There is insufficient reliable information available regarding topical use in children or in pregnancy and lactation. During pregnancy, when used in amounts typically found in foods, it is likely safe. However, larger amounts might predispose the onset of menstruation or uterine contractions. In lactation, it is contraindicated in amounts greater than is typically found in foods.

Adverse Reactions

Garlic has dose-related effects when taken orally that include breath odor, mouth and gastrointestinal burning or irritation, heartburn, flatulence, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. It can produce changes in intestinal flora. There is one report of spinal epidural hematoma and platelet dysfunction with ingestion of fresh garlic and one report of post-operative bleeding and prolonged bleeding with high dietary garlic consumption. Topically, exposure can result in contact dermatitis and blistering.

Possible Interactions with Herbs and Other Dietary Supplements

EPA (Eicosapentanoic acid) in fish oil, when taken concomitantly with garlic, can enhance antithrombotic effects. The concomitant use of herbs that affect platelet aggregation and could theoretically increase the risk of bleeding in some people include angelica, anise, arnica, asafetida, bog bean, boldo, capsicum, celery, chamomile, clove, danshen, fenugreek, feverfew, garlic, ginger, ginkgo, ginseng (Panax), horse chestnut, horseradish, licorice, meadowsweet, prickly ash, onion, papain, passionflower, poplar, quassia, red clover, turmeric, wild carrot, wild lettuce, willow and others.

Possible Interactions with Drugs

ANTICOAGULANT DRUGS – can enhance the effects of Coumadin (warfarin)
ANTIPLATELET DRUGS – concomitant use may increase risk of bleeding with these drugs
HYPOGLYCEMIC DRUGS – concomitant use may increase the effects and adverse effects of these drugs
INSULIN – insulin dosage adjustments may be necessary

Possible Interactions with Lab Tests

BLOOD GLUCOSE – can lower blood glucose levels resulting in lower test results
BLOOD INSULIN – can increase blood insulin levels resulting in higher test results
INTERNATIONAL NORMALIZATION RATIO (INR) – there are two cases of increased INR associated with concomitant use of garlic and warfarin

Use garlic with caution in bleeding disorders, diabetes and infectious or inflammatory gastrointestinal conditions.

Note: The effectiveness of garlic dietary supplements is determined by their ability to yield allicin (which leads to the production of other active principles). To be effective, dried garlic preparations should be enterically coated to protect the constituents from stomach acid. Some products do not generate the amount of allicin equivalent to one clove of fresh garlic or contain no active compounds at all.

Resources

  1. Blumenthal, M., et al. ed. The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines.
  2. Trans. S. Klein. Boston, MA: American Botanical Council. 1998.
  3. Brinker, F. Herb Contraindications and Drug Interactions, 2nd edition. Sandy, OR: Eclectic Medical Publications, 1998.
  4. Foster, S and Tyler, VE. Tyler’s Honest Herbal: A Sensible Guide to the Use of Herbs and Related Remedies, 3rd edition. Binghamton, NY: Haworth Herbal Press, 1996.
  5. Garty, BZ. “Garlic burns.” Pediatrics, 1993 Mar; 91: 658-59.
  6. Gruenwald, J. et al. PDR for Herbal Medicines, 1st edition. Montvale, NJ: Medical Economics Company, Inc., 1998.
  7. Incorporated Society, Nittendorf, West Germany. “Hypertension and hyperlipidemia: garlic helps in mild cases.” Br J Clin Pract Suppl, 1990; 69:3-6.
  8. Jellin, JM, Batz, F, and Hitchens, K. Pharmacist’s Letter/Prescriber’s Letter Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. Stockton, CA: Therapeutic Research Faculty; 1999: pg. 407-409.
  9. Leung, AY and Foster, S. Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients Used in Food, Drugs and Cosmetics, 2nd edition. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons, 1996.
  10. McGuffin, M, et al., ed. American Herbal Products Association’s Botanical Safety Handbook. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1997.
  11. McMahon, FG and Vargas, R. “Can garlic lower blood pressure? A pilot study.” Pharmacotherapy, 1993; 13(4): 406-407.
  12. Newall, CA, Anderson, LA and Philpson, JD. Herbal Medicine: A Guide for Healthcare Professionals. London, UK: The Pharmaceutical Press, 1994.
  13. Robbers, JE, Speedie, MK and Tyler, VE. Pharmacognosy and Pharmabiotechnology. Baltimore, MD: Williams & Wilkins, 1996.
  14. Silagy, CA and Neil, HA. “A meta-analysis of the effect of garlic on blood pressure.” J Hypertension, 1994; 12(4): 463-68.
  15. Sunter, WH. “Warfarin and garlic.” Pharm J, 1991; 246: 722.
Photobucket Dr. Nicole Sundene, NMD is a licensed Naturopathic Medical Doctor at Fountain Hills Naturopathic Medicine 16719 E Palisades Blvd, Suite 205, Fountain Hills, AZ 85268.

She believes we should utilize natural medicines to treat the root cause of disease rather than just treating symptoms, as symptoms are a message of imbalance sent from the body and will persist until they are properly addressed.

For appointments please visit http://FHnaturopathic.com for more information about Naturopathic Medicine services.
©KitchenTableMedicine.com, LLC ™

What Was That I Should Take For My Memory Again?

February 5, 2008 by Kitchen Table Medicine  
Filed under Herbal Medicine, Memory

PhotobucketGingko is a medicinal herb from the leaves of the Gingko biloba or maidenhair tree. The gingko tree is an ancient plant, dating back at least 250 million years. It is the oldest living species of tree in the world and it survived to modern times only in the mountain forests of Eastern China. The tree itself can live as long as one thousand years.

Most often the herb is taken as a 50:1 standardized leaf extract—this means that 50 grams of dried gingko leaves have been processed down into 1 gram of extract in a way that preserves a standard amount of the constituents believed to be the most important medicinally (22-27% flavonoids glycosides, 5-7% terpene lactones including 2.8-3.4% ginkgolides, 2.6-3.2% bilobalide, and less than 5 parts per million ginkgolic acids).

Gingko is best known for its ability to increase blood flow to the brain and improve impaired memory and mental performance, especially in the elderly. However, gingko is one of the most researched herbs available, and it also has a number of other uses. It can decrease platelet aggregation and prevent strokes and other diseases related to emboli. It has been used for migraines, to delay the mental deterioration in early Alzheimer’s, and in treating tinnitus, vertigo and cochlear deafness. It is also used for diabetic retinopathy, retinal insufficiency, macular degeneration, cataracts, intermittent claudication, Raynaud’s disease, varicose veins, generalized peripheral arteriopathy, and erectile dysfunction. It can also decrease asthma symptoms.

WHO SHOULD NOT TAKE GINGKO?

Gingko leaf extract is very safe and its side effects are almost nonexistent. However, patients who are anticoagulant or antiplatelet medication such as Warfarin or aspirin should use gingko with caution. Along the same lines, gingko probably should not be used in cases of excessive bleeding or hemorrhagic disorders. It also may be contraindicated in anovulatory amenorrhea and infertility. Other drug interactions include possible potentiation of MAO inhibitors and papverine. Ginkgo can increase blood pressure used concomitantly with thiazide diuretics. The RAW leaf, stem and seed can cause GI discomfort, headache, dizziness, and in severe cases convulsions.  If you are on any medications or have any chronic health conditions you should check with your physician before starting the use of any herbal medicine such as Ginkgo.

Resources
1. Brinker F. Herb Contraindications and Drug Interactions. Eclectic Medical Publications, Sandy OR, 1998.
2. Mills S, Bone K. Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy. Churchill Livingstone, New York, NY, 1999.
3. Jellin JM, Batz F, Hitchens, K. Pharmacist’s Letter/Prescriber’s Letter Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. Stockton, CA: Therapeutic Research Faculty; 1999: pg. 419-421.
4. Pizzorno J., et. al., The Textbook of Natural Medicine, 2nd Edition. Churchill Livingstone, New York, NY, 2000.
5. Tilgner S. Herbal Medicine from the Heart of the Earth. Wise Acres Press, Creswell, OR, 1999.

Photobucket Dr. Nicole Sundene, NMD is a licensed Naturopathic Medical Doctor at Fountain Hills Naturopathic Medicine 16719 E Palisades Blvd, Suite 205, Fountain Hills, AZ 85268.

She believes we should utilize natural medicines to treat the root cause of disease rather than just treating symptoms, as symptoms are a message of imbalance sent from the body and will persist until they are properly addressed.

For appointments please visit http://FHnaturopathic.com for more information about Naturopathic Medicine services.
©KitchenTableMedicine.com, LLC ™

Are you tired and stressed?

December 8, 2007 by Dr. Nicole Sundene  
Filed under Anxiety, Fatigue, Herbal Medicine, Stress

One of my favorite herbs for patients that are struggling from fatigue and excess stress is Ashwaganda, formally known as Withania somnifera. With so many people tired and stressed these days I am going to have to vote ashwaganda the best herb of 2007!

The root of this plant is best for those feeling very frazzled and in need of a nervous system re-set. Ashwaganda is helpful especially for individuals that are extremely agitated.

If you know someone that is difficult to be around you might want to sneak a little of this herb in to them (just kidding instead refer them to this article).

For those experiencing stress without fatigue trying an herb such as Schisandra may be more beneficial. Ashwaganda as an added bonus supports the immune system, is anti-inflammatory, anti-aging and also helpful for those with impotence.

According to Naturopathic theory one should notice the effects of this herb within three days, feel a restoration of their well being after three weeks, and should no longer need to take the herb after three months. Hopefully once that three month period is up, better coping mechanisms for stress management have been implemented!

Source: “Herbal Medicine from the Heart of the Earth” by Sharon Tilgner, ND

Photobucket Dr. Nicole Sundene, NMD is a licensed Naturopathic Medical Doctor at Fountain Hills Naturopathic Medicine 16719 E Palisades Blvd, Suite 205, Fountain Hills, AZ 85268.

She believes we should utilize natural medicines to treat the root cause of disease rather than just treating symptoms, as symptoms are a message of imbalance sent from the body and will persist until they are properly addressed.

For appointments please visit http://FHnaturopathic.com for more information about Naturopathic Medicine services.
©KitchenTableMedicine.com, LLC ™