So you’re ready to take a natural approach to your immune health. Great. How do you do that? Here are four easy herbal ways to get started. Continue reading “4 herbal ways to get serious about immune health”
Think of a time when you could smell home cooking from another room. The aromas drifting out of the kitchen. The scent of simmering garlic maybe, or of herbs like Rosemary and Thyme. The promise of a warm, delicious meal prepared with love. Picture yourself walking into the kitchen, grabbing a wooden spoon and sneaking a taste. Now imagine a powerful bitter flavor washing over you. A desperate, mouth-puckering, need-a-glass-of-water bitter.
This is Wormwood. Smells delightful. Tastes bitter. Let’s break it down. Continue reading “Smells delightful. Tastes bitter. Let’s break it down.”
By now, summer is a distant memory. School is back in session, social activities entice, a full work schedule beckons, and holiday obligations lurk around the corner. Stressful schedules combined with dreary weather can challenge our good health goals.
Continue reading “Boost Your Immunity this Season with Two Steps to Wellness”
It’s heart-wrenching when your child isn’t feeling his or her best. We get it. Unfortunately, there are certain things you just can’t make better with a kiss. For those times, we’ve created the Herb Pharm Kids Line.
Our new Kids Line uses only those herbs that time and experience have shown to be safe and effective for children. The line includes:
- Immune Avenger™, the superhero formula to call for at symptom onset*
- Tummy TLC™ for soothing an upset stomach*
- Ear Oil (with Mullein and Garlic), an ear’s best friend
- Black Elderberry Glycerite and Echinacea Gylcerite for immune system support before and during when your little one is feeling poorly*
- Lemon Balm Calm™ Glycerite for calming and soothing*
* This statement has not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
The line has begun shipping to natural products stores, but if it hasn’t made it to your local store yet, you can buy it on our website now.
Every herbal medicine in the Kids Line comes recommended by Aviva Romm, MD: “For over 30 years, Herb Pharm tinctures have been my go-to products for my family and for my patients.” Dr. Romm is the mother of four grown children and a Yale-trained physician and herbalist specializing in integrative medicine. She has spent nearly 30 years as a health care practitioner and advocate for the health and environmental concerns of women and kids. She is also a midwife and award-winning author.
Like Dr. Romm, we keep parents and kids in mind, which is why each bottle is labeled with easy-to-follow dosing instructions based on a child’s body weight. The instructions make it quick and simple for you to determine the proper dose that’s just right for your child.
Formulated with kids’ palates in mind, these herbs will be a comfort to your child’s health and taste buds. We use naturally sweet glycerin in five of our six Kids Line medicines. Glycerin does not cause tooth decay and has superb extractive capability.
We use only 99% pure, certified organic, non-GMO glycerin from vegetables, not palm trees. Glycerin from palm, while less expensive, contributes to decreased biodiversity in regions like Indonesia, where the demand for products from palm has led to deforestation.
Of course, our Kids Line also provides the high quality, purity and potency you’ve come to expect from our herbs. Apart from the herbs that are sustainably gleaned from out in the wild by our partner wildcrafters, we use primarily certified organic herbs. Every ingredient we use is natural—you don’t need to worry about any artificial additives.
Whether you’re looking to boost your child’s health when she’s already feeling well or he needs some support for when he’s feeling poorly, for those things that your kiss can’t make better, you can rely on the Herb Pharm Kids Line.
Our Asian Ginseng capsules contain 450 mg of Panax ginseng root powdered extract. Like our liquid extract, the powdered extract is made from the natural white or uncured root. Cured root is red and the curing process makes it more warming and stimulating. Asian Ginseng, especially in its cured form, may be too heating for some people and has been implicated in causing agitation and restlessness in some predisposed individuals or in conjunction with stimulants. Using white, uncured root makes our Asian Ginseng more tolerable for those with constitutional heat and thus suitable for a broader range of constitutions.
Possibly the most quintessential tonic herb, Asian Ginseng nourishes the Qi, or underlying life force that is central to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). With periodic use, Asian Ginseng tones and reinvigorates our inherent vital energy to help restore vitality. Traditionally used more and more frequently as one grows older, to treat a host of symptoms related to aging including lower back pain, weak knees and ankles, impotence, frequent urination, poor memory, poor circulation, fatigue and general exhaustion.
As one of the primary adaptogens Asian Ginseng helps one adapt to non-specific stress, strengthening weak adrenals whether the cause is from chronic depletion or from acute situational depletion such as trauma or intense physical or emotional stress. Asian Ginseng is considered to be the most stimulating of the adaptogens. Like other adaptogens, it helps regulate the immune system and is useful whether there is immune excess or deficiency. Due to its Qi enhancing action, Asian Ginseng is especially of service in deep-seated immune depletion and during post-illness recovery.
Asian Ginseng enhances both mental and physical energy. It is important to note that these tonic attributes apply for prophylactic and recuperative use. General uses also include sexual debility and even hangover. While it is not a reference that I look to very often, the German Commission E sums up these uses of Asian Ginseng nicely. “As a tonic to combat feelings of lassitude and debility, lack of energy and ability to concentrate…”
Herb Pharm’s Asian Ginseng is extracted only with ethanol and water. No synthetic solvents are used. The finished powdered extract is tested to assure a therapeutic level of Ginseng’s active ginsenosides and absence of any pesticide residues or degradation compounds. The capsules can be used up to three months, followed by a break of one month.
Burdock Blend is one of a small category of Herb Pharm products called blends. These products derive their names by blending different parts of the same plant, in this case Burdock root and seed. Other blends include Hawthorn and Mullein, and although it is not labeled as a blend, Super Echinacea. The purpose of making a blend is to combine various plant parts, which may have different chemical characteristics or traditional uses. This creates an extract that represents more fully the effect of the plant. In some cases such as Dandelion this is done by harvesting the entire plant, thereby combining the root, leaf and flower in one extract. In Burdock Blend, the root and seeds are harvested in season and extracted separately. The extracts are then ‘blended’ to create the finished product.
Burdock (Arctium lappa) is native to Europe, but has become naturalized throughout the U.S. It grows in areas considered to be waste places, in other words areas where the native plants and soil have been disturbed. The long leaves form out of rosettes in its first year and in the second year the plant sends up a tall stalk bearing leaves and flowers. After flowering, seed heads are covered with numerous stiff, hooked bracts that cling stubbornly to clothes and animals. It is said by some that Burdock seed heads were the inspiration for Velcro™! However accurate that belief is, it is true to say that Burdock is considered a noxious weed by many of the farmers and ranchers who encounter it.
As a medicinal herb, Burdock is in a therapeutic class called alteratives, often referred to as “blood purifiers.” These herbs help to restore the normal function of the body through improving metabolism of nutrients and by increasing the elimination of wastes. Three of our main eliminatory organs are the skin, liver and kidneys, the organs that Burdock acts on most directly. Improving elimination of wastes by stimulating skin circulation and liver and kidney function reduces wastes in the blood. This is important because certain imbalances are aggravated or even caused by waste build up.
Burdock is bitter, and like other bitter herbs it stimulates liver activity. The seed has a stronger diuretic action than the root, stimulating excretion of urine. Burdock also has a mild diaphoretic effect, increasing circulation to the skin. Together, the seed and root stimulate major channels of elimination and make Burdock Blend especially effective in supporting various skin conditions.
Burdock also offers traditional support for joints and enhances immune system function. Its immune effect further aids Burdock’s ability to support the skin. The liver stimulating action exerts a very positive effect on digestion. Burdock is specifically indicated in dry, scaly skin conditions, urinary irritation and digestive complaints.
Burdock is a very safe herb. One form of Burdock root called Gobo is cultivated for use as a vegetable. The Botanical Safety Handbook 2 lists Burdock root and seed in class 1, meaning they have no known safety concerns under normal use, including use in pregnancy, nursing or with other medications. However, it would probably be advised to reserve Burdock Blend during pregnancy for reduced dosages in the last trimester only. The dose of Herb Pharm’s Burdock Blend is up to 40 drops, two to four times per day. When treating children be sure and adjust the dosage using Clark’s Rule.
Good digestion is one of the most crucial factors influencing our health. Together with oxygen and water, food provides all of the starting materials for building and maintaining our bodies and minds. And digestion is the body’s gateway for all of the nutrients found in food, the proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals and various secondary phytochemicals that feed and heal us. This one complex process is thus linked to every other function in our body, starting at the cellular level. Poor digestion leads to poor health.
Herb Pharm carries a large selection of products that positively influence the digestive process, system and organs in various ways. In some cases, there is overlap in the effects of products, but each has its own unique features. This article gives an abbreviated overview of our digestive system products intended as a short guide to their differentiation and uses.
What might be considered the most quintessential digestive product is bitters. Bitters begin working as soon as they hit your taste buds through a reflex action on our stomach and pancreas, stimulating the production of digestive juices. Bitters also stimulate the liver and prepare the gall bladder for the release of bile. Consuming bitter flavor in our foods was always a part of eating; it is something we as a species evolved with and relied on for good digestion. Because the modern diet is skewed heavily towards sweets, the reintroduction of bitter plants like Dandelion greens and Radicchio into your diet is extremely beneficial. Using Digestive Bitters is another simple way to reintroduce this important digestion-enhancing flavor. Hold diluted Digestive Bitters in your mouth for a minute before swallowing to ensure that the taste response is triggered.
Neutralizing Cordial has attributes shared by some of the other digestive products in that it is of service in treating digestive gas, nausea and colic. However, this formula stands apart due to its ability to alkalize the digestive system. While Rhubarb root is generally considered a laxative, it actually has a dose-dependent amphoteric function. Neutralizing Cordial is great when traveling as well as in the home medicine cabinet.
Gastro Calm™, formerly Lavender Spirits, is a warming blend of aromatics specifically formulated for use in gas, bloating and nausea. This compound relieves queasiness, including the effects of motion sickness when excess acid is not involved.
Intestinal Soother™ is a comforting compound specifically targeted for intestinal irritability. Like our Inflamma Response™ compound, Intestinal Soother contains Chamomile and Turmeric as central ingredients. It adds Fennel, Cinnamon and Peppermint to further reduce discomfort and flatulence and Wild Yam joins forces with Peppermint in controlling intestinal spasms. This compound gently calms nervous agitation associated with digestive distress. Additionally, Turmeric and Fennel offer support for the liver.
Intestinal Tract Defense™ is designed as an aid in balancing and protecting the gut. It has been formulated with thujone-free Sweet Wormwood (Sweet Annie, Artemisia annua) with children in mind. Regular Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) can be used as an adjunct in adults. It is important to keep in mind that our digestive tract relies on a large and diverse microbial population which should be maintained through the use of cultured foods and if needed, supplemental probiotics.
While many single extracts can have a positive influence on digestion, one especially worth calling out is Peppermint Spirits.. This powerful preparation is effective in reducing stomach upset and digestive gas as well as spasms such as hiccups. Peppermint Spirits also help relieve nausea and are a good alternative to Ginger for those whose digestive fire is already warm. Peppermint is cooling and relaxes sphincters, so is not appropriate in acid reflux or where there is dampened, weak digestive fire.
Bringing the theme of liver and digestion full circle is Liver Health™, our primary liver support compound. Among other herbs in this compound are bitters like Dandelion, Oregon Grape (pictured above) and one of my personal favorites, Artichoke. As with Digestive Bitters, these bitter tasting herbs improve the digestive process and systemically support liver-related digestion. Keeping the liver healthy is one of our best strategies in maintaining good digestion and overall health.
In recent years we have seen a dramatic increase in various digestive, gut and food-induced disorders. The best and easiest way to avoid digestive problems is to stop them before they start. The first and probably most important step is to examine your diet and replace unhealthy foods with better options, including bitter greens. And it makes sense to begin strengthening your digestion at the same time, starting with regular use of Digestive Bitters. These simple steps can be used to significantly improve digestion and assimilation, which are truly fundamental to well being.
Nursing her newborn child is one of a new mother’s great joys. When nursing difficulties arise from inadequate supply of breast milk, mother and child feel the burden alike. The inability to nurture a new child through breast-feeding can evoke sadness, frustration and even guilt in a mother. From ancient times, a select group of herbs has been used to safely promote normal levels of healthy breast milk. These herbs, also called galactogogues, are the ingredients of Mother’s Lactation Tonic.
Chaste Tree (Vitex agnus-castus) grows as a perennial shrub throughout the Mediterranean region and into Asia. The fruit (berries) have a spicy, peppery smell and taste, which contributed to the early name of Monk’s Pepper. It appears in the early literary works of Hippocrates, Dioscorides, Pliny and Galen. Chaste Tree has a traditional history of use in stimulating milk flow during lactation, which was reported in King’s American Dispensatory (Felter and Lloyd). In 1930, some of the first scientific studies on Chaste Tree were conducted. Since that time, a number of studies have been carried out with positive results. Many of the traditional uses have been supported by these studies, including an increase in milk production.
More recently, Dr. Weiss, the eminent German herbal physician, found that while Chaste Tree may take time to have an effect, it can be given for months to stimulate a healthy level of milk production. One study performed on lactating mothers reported an increase in average milk production of about three times that of the control group.
Fenugreek seed (Trigonella foenum-graecum) is an annual member of the Fabaceae or Pea/Bean family. It is native to west Asia and has naturalized in Europe, India and Africa. It is an ancient herb that was used in the mummification process in Egypt, and is mentioned in the early works of Greek and Roman medicine. Fenugreek is traditionally used to soothe various tissue irritations and inflammations, as a tonic to improve digestion, and as a galactogogue. It has also been used as a nutritive tonic in general debility of convalescence. Its use in spice mixtures and foods extends from eastern Africa, through India and many parts of western Asia. Fenugreek is faster acting than Chaste Tree and may begin working within 24 to 72 hours. Reports on Fenugreek as a lactation aid show dramatic and rapid increases in breast milk production.
The three remaining herbs in Mother’s Lactation Tonic have several similarities. They are all familiar members of the Apiaceae or Celery family with a long history of safe use in food, medicine and as nursing lactation aids. Botanically, the part of each plant used is a fruit (commonly called the seed) and each plant is an herbaceous annual or biennial. These highly aromatic seeds have been used in traditional medicine as galactogogues to increase milk production in cases of suppressed secretion. They are also carminatives, used to treat intestinal spasms and flatulence, and as flavorings in food and medicine.
Caraway seed (Carum carvi) came into use around the 12th Century in northern and central Europe and Asia. Caraway is an ingredient in foods, especially baked goods, confections and liqueurs. It lends the distinctive flavor to traditional rye bread and sauerkraut.
Fennel seed (Foeniculum vulgare), is an ancient herb with a widespread use in medicine and food. The renowned Eclectic pharmacist, John Uri Lloyd, wrote that a survey of Fennel in literature would require citing “every work on medicine and botany from the earliest time to the present.” Fennel seed taken by the mother may actually increase the feeding response in an infant, indicating that some if its flavor is passed into the milk. In this way, it may also aid the nursing infant’s digestion in cases of colic.
Anise seed (Pimpinella anisum) too has a rich and ancient tradition of use. Like Fennel, Anise is among the oldest known medicines and spices, according to Lloyd. It is probably native to Egypt and was mentioned in the early works of writers such as Dioscorides (around the year 75). It has also been used throughout pharmacy as an aromatic flavoring agent and to ease the intestinal griping caused by other medicines. Anise is used in cooking primarily in confections and as the flavoring agent for liquors such as Pernod and ouzo.
Mother’s Lactation Tonic is made with certified organic, pharmaceutical-grade alcohol and distilled water. It is primarily intended as a galactogogue, promoting the quantity, quality and flow of breast milk where it is suppressed or scanty. It is also an effective digestant and aromatic carminative which can relieve nausea and intestinal gas in the breastfeeding mother and child. These actions together help to ensure that breast-feeding is a rewarding time for both mother and child.
Originally Published Winter 2004
Calendula consists of the whole flowers of Calendula officinalis. This well-known garden plant originated in southern Europe and is now widely cultivated in temperate regions around the world. Often called marigold or pot marigold, it should not be confused with the more diminutive ornamental marigolds of horticultural trade. Herb Pharm’s Calendula is organically cultivated and painstakingly harvested every summer on our own farm.
Included in many of the earliest European herbals, Calendula has undoubtedly been employed medicinally since the earliest times. It has also been used in cookery for stews, meats and in coloring butter. In fact, the orange coloring components of the flower petals are carotenoids, the same class of compounds as the yellow pigments in cheeses made from the milk of grass-fed animals.
Phytochemically rich, Calendula possesses a broad array of triterpenes, flavonoids, coumarins, carotenoids and volatile oils. Calendula’s distinctive resinous character is a manifestation of this complex profile. And its therapeutic actions are as diverse as its chemistry. Externally, the flowers are one of the most common herbs for the treatment of skin conditions. Internally, Calendula soothes inflammations of the digestive tract, astringes capillaries and is detoxifying to the liver and spleen.
Herb Pharm makes more types of extracts from Calendula flower than any other herb. We offer Calendula Liquid Extract, Calendula Oil and Calendula Succus. Each of these products has its own particular niche, making product differentiation worth exploring. So let’s look at these three extracts and what makes each one unique.
The liquid extract, or tincture, is the most commonly used of these preparations historically. It was the only extract of Calendula listed in the U.S. Pharmacopeia as an official medicine. This high alcohol preparation, in combination with using dried flowers, maximizes the constituent profile of Calendula flower. The liquid extract is ideal externally when stinging from its high alcohol content is not an issue and the coating action of Calendula Oil is not desired.
Olive oil extracts many of the same virtues as alcohol, thus combining Calendula’s resinous properties in a soothing, oleaginous preparation. Calendula Oil is usually applied externally on skin and mucous membranes for conditions that benefit from the coating action of the oil. These include closed wounds, abrasions once granulation has started and the skin has begun to heal, burns where the initial stages of heat trauma have passed and any other conditions where soothing is needed. The oil base holds the herbal extractives on the skin, increasing and prolonging local healing action. It can be used in any circumstance where a Calendula cream or ointment is recommended. The oil extract is also the ideal form for use in ears and is a component of our eardrop formula, Mullein/Garlic Compound.
Calendula Succus is a special low-alcohol preparation of Calendula flowers. Succi (the plural of succus) are prepared from three parts by volume of plant juice preserved with one part of alcohol. The finished alcohol concentration is 23.75%, placing it just over the threshold needed for preservation. The result in the case of Calendula Succus is a low-sting alcohol preparation that can be used as a wash on sensitive skin. Some sources claim that the succus was the preferred form of Calendula for use in surgery during the Civil War.
Calendula is an old herbal remedy whose popularity continues into modern times. Although known today more for its external use, Calendula’s diverse internal uses should not be forgotten. While differentiation of these three types of Calendula extracts may seem somewhat nuanced, they offer the optimal breadth of application for both external and internal use. The special features and attributes of each product described here should help in choosing the optimal form of each Herb Pharm Calendula extract.
Mild anxiety is an ordinary human emotion that everyone experiences at some time in his or her life. Anxiety is often associated with everyday external factors such as finances, relationships and work, or what is probably the most common of all anxiety-inducing events, public speaking. Anxiety can also be associated with internal states such as chronic stress, which affects the endocrine system’s regulation of stress hormones and with depression, which itself appears to be linked to stress hormones. Whatever the cause, there are options for dealing with mild anxiety. Herb Pharm’s new Anxiety Soother™ compound can be a helpful addition during those times when you are experiencing mild anxiety.
As the name implies, this formula is specifically designed to lend soothing support in occasional and mild anxiety.* This formula brings together five important herbs, each from a different world region and each with roots in different herbal traditions:
Kava (Piper methysticum) is one of our most effective herbal allies in treating anxiety. It reduces mild anxiety and associated states such as stress and frustration,* inducing a state of calm in the user. This newfound tranquility brings perspective to one’s surroundings rather than spiraling into anxiety-driven reaction. As the lead ingredient of Anxiety Soother, Kava imparts a fast and profound psychological effect to the user.
Our Kava is grown in the South Pacific island nation of Vanuatu. Here, Kava has been cultivated and consumed by the native people, or Ni-Vanuatu, for over 3,000 years. It is grown according to ancient tradition in small, chemical-free village gardens. We use only the root and rhizome, never stem or leaf. And we always use noble varieties of Kava with their telltale kavalactone ratios, never two-day kava or other inferior cultivars. Kava has been associated with very rare cases of liver toxicity. However, despite the continuing efforts of researchers, no causative factor or toxic mechanism has been identified in Kava to date. Because of the association, the standard cautions for Kava apply to Anxiety Soother. In part, the formula should not be used by pregnant women, individuals under the age of 18, in impaired liver function or disease or in conjunction with alcoholic beverages or pharmaceutical drugs. See the label peel-out panel for the full caution.
Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) is the certified organic flowering herb from this showy vine, often cultivated for its strikingly beautiful flowers. Passionflower is native from the southeastern United States through Mexico and into South America. The renowned Eclectic Prof. Ellingwood included these in his specific indications for Passionflower, “…disturbed sleep from mental worry, and exhaustion from cerebral fullness and from excitement…” A 2008 study confirmed this old use, showing that Passionflower reduces anxiety in pre-operative patients. Today, the herb has a well-deserved and widespread reputation as a calmative, sedative and antispasmodic as well as anxiolytic.*
Our Bacopa (Bacopa monnieri ) consists of the certified organic aerial parts of this diminutive Indian plant. Bacopa is in the category of medicines known as “nootropics” (pronounced no-tropics). These are medicinal agents that increase cognitive function and cerebral circulation and improve memory. Highly esteemed in Ayurveda, the traditional medicine of India, Bacopa has been in use as a brain and nerve tonic for over a millennium. As a traditional remedy, Bacopa is used in Anxiety Soother to reduce anxiety, depression and the negative effects of chronic stress.*
Albizia (Albizia julibrissin), also known as Silk Tree, Mimosa and Happiness Bark, comes to us from Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Our Albizia is sourced primarily from the southern U.S., where it has become an invasive plant. In Chinese medicine it is incorporated in the class of herbs that “nourish the heart and calm the spirit.” We employ the stem bark to assist in alleviating nervous system disorders such as mental stress and anxiety, irritability, depression, anger, mood swings, grief, sadness and heartache.*
Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) is native to the Mediterranean region and comes to us from European herbal tradition. Our Lavender tincture is made from certified organic flowers grown in Provence, France. We use only the flowers, without superfluous stem. Lavender’s reputation for calming and lifting the spirit as well as alleviating worry and anxiety is well established. Thornton’s 1814 Family Herbal says of Lavender that it is, “…used in hysteria, lowness, and other nervous affections.” Recently, oral Lavender essential oil is being used in European phytotherapy for treatment of sub-syndromal anxiety, a use confirmed by clinical trials.* To our Lavender flower tincture we add a steam-distilled (solvent-free) essential oil of Lavender flower to further increase the essential oil content.
Combating mild anxiety is best achieved through a multifaceted approach. As with all natural healing, a healthy lifestyle is paramount in minimizing anxiety. This includes the basics of good diet, proper exercise and adequate rest. Herbally, Anxiety Soother can be a helpful tool in managing this common problem. And, Stress Manager™ may be a beneficial adjunct to Anxiety Soother, helping to address the effects of stress that may exacerbate anxiety.* If you experience anxiety that is interfering with your daily life or involves attacks of anxiety or panic, consult your healthcare practitioner.
* This statement has not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.