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by Liana Peklivanas SNHS Dip. (Herbalism)

Diet plays a huge role in our overall health and without getting too technical we should base our meals on the following: A protein, a fat, vegetables, fruit and if you are not trying to lose weight add a grain (preferable a whole grain). The proteins we choose should contain omega 3, zinc or calcium. However, we don’t always have the time to calculate and prepare all our meals so here’s some insight into Phytomedicine.

Phytomedicine can be defined as the herbal medicine with therapeutic and healing properties. It came into existence since the advent of human civilization. Phytomedicines (plant-derived drugs) express a vast array of biological activities and therefore have been practiced worldwide since the ancient times for the prevention and treatment of the diseases.

Phytomedicine, in amalgamation with various other health-care fields, has indeed revolutionised and strengthened the foundation of the existing health-care system and occupies a major stake in the industry. Reports gathered from all over the world indicate there are around 35,000 species of plants that are currently being used in herbal therapies/recipes. 

A qualified medical herbalist is an expert in natural medicine. They would have studied orthodox medicine as well as botanical medicine and are trained in the same diagnostic skills as a GP. However, herbalists take a holistic approach to illness, aiming to identify and treat the root cause of the disease, rather than supress the symptoms.

Besides botanical medicine, herbalists study medical modules such as Anatomy, Pharmacology, Pathophysiology and Clinical Skills so that they can interpret blood test results and perform physical examinations. Medical herbalists are able to assess your health and prescribe safe and effective natural medicines tailored to your needs. Many patients are referred to a herbalist by their GP for treatment. 

We are going to start with five simple herbs that are available to us in Gibraltar.

Echinacea  

Echinacea strengthens your body’s immune system, helping you fight colds and flus caused by viruses or bacteria. Some research shows that the echinacea plant contains chemicals that help your body create white blood cells. 

Oregano

Fresh oregano is a great antibacterial agent. It has phytonutrients (thymol and carvacrol), which fight infections such as staph. It’s loaded with antioxidants that help prevent cell damage, and it’s an excellent source of fibre, vitamin K, manganese, iron, vitamin E, tryptophan and calcium. 

Black Pepper 

Black Pepper has an active compound called piperine that contains potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Studies suggest that black pepper may improve cholesterol levels, blood sugar control, and brain and gut health. 

Peppermint 

Peppermint relieves digestive symptoms, such as gas, bloating and indigestion. Animal studies indicate that peppermint relaxes your digestive system and may ease pain. It also prevents smooth muscles from contracting, which could relieve spasms in your gut. 

Aloe Vera 

Aloe Vera is a rich source of antioxidants and vitamins that may help protect your skin. The important compounds in aloe vera have also been shown to neutralize the effects of ultraviolet (UV) radiation, repair your skin from existing UV damage, and help prevent fine lines and wrinkles. Apply locally to the skin.

All of the aforementioned herbs are safe, however, if you are currently on medication its always best to speak to your GP first. For more information, follow @herbsenseclinic on Instagram and Facebook.

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