Category Archives: Digestive and Bowel Health

Digestive Aids: Back to the Basics with Herbal Medicine

Written by Katolen Yardley, MNIMH, Medical Herbalist

Herbal medicine offers invaluable aid for chronic digestive disorders as well as common symptoms of overeating including heart burn, indigestion, cramping and bloating. As most herbal medicines are taken orally, they come into direct contact with the mucous membranes lining the digestive tract, offering quick relief. Herbal medicines offer gentle, non-habit forming alternatives to over-the-counter and prescription medications and are suitable for long term aid. The medical actions of herbs are often categorized into groups according to their therapeutic action.

Digestive stimulants help to increase or improve digestive activities. Two of the main categories of stimulant herbs are bitters and hepatics (herbs which support the liver). Bitters have been used traditionally, sipped before meals. Herbal bitters act to stimulate the release of gastric juice and digestive enzymes for optimal digestion. They also help to increase appetite. Bitters have a general tonic action on digestion, stimulating the bodys self repair mechanisms. Some bitter herbs include wormwood, centaury, yarrow and gentian. Bitter herbs are consumed in small amounts and should not be ingested in conditions of excess stomach acid or ulcers. Hepatics are herbs that strengthen tone and support the liver. The liver is our primary organ for cleansing and detoxification, facilitating the deactivation of hormones, drugs, food additives and pollutants. The liver is involved in carbohydrate, fat and protein metabolism and helps to maintain stable blood sugar levels. It is also involved in both the synthesis of cholesterol and its breakdown into bile salts. In addition, the liver provided storage for fat soluble vitamins. Examples of Hepatic herbs include: dandelion root, wild yam root, yellow dock root.

Digestive Relaxants, in contrast, help to reduce over-activity and relax tissues. These herbs are used in a clinic environment to reduce bloating and stomach distension. Carminative herbs are plants that contain volatile oils, the component of the plant that imparts the familiar fragrant/aromatic scent associated with many dried herbs. Their main action in digestion is to soothe and settle the gut wall, ease cramping and expel wind from the stomach and intestines, while providing gentle anti spasmodic properties. Some common carminative herbs containing a characteristic scent include caraway seed, fennel seed, peppermint leaf, ginger root and anise seed.

Herbal medicines are gentle and ideal for incorporating into ones daily routine. Digestive herbs can be used in either tea or tincture form. An adult general dosage for herbal teas is 1 tsp. of the herb for every cup of boiled water, steeped for 15 minutes; 3-4 cups daily will provide a medicinal dose. When using tinctures, the dosage varies depending upon the herbs used. A standard adult dose is generally 2-3 ml taken 2-3 times daily.

Katolen Yardley, MNIMH is a Medical Herbalist in private practice at Alchemy & Elixir Health Group in Vancouver, BC. www.alchemyelixir.com or www.katolenyardley.com

EFT for Weight loss “Learn how to Tap away food Cravings” with Julia McKinley, EFT Practitioner

Taught by Julia McKinley, EFT- Adv

Time: 6:00-7:30, Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

DETAILS: Tap away food cravings with Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), an energy based therapy that uses simple tapping on acupressure points along with focused thought and visualization. Learn how cravings and negative emotions are linked to energy blockages within our energy meridian system. Bring your favourite “problem food” that you would like to eliminate cravings for. You will learn how to use EFT and gain an understanding of how our mind and body’s connect to create cravings and overeating. We will address underlying emotional connections to food and working in a supportive, relaxed and fun group environment we will learn and practice using EFT for our food cravings and related Weight loss issues.

Julia McKinley is a certified EFT practitioner practising from Alchemy & Elixir Health Group in the West End of Vancouver. Julia assists clients in working with their energy and emotions to eliminate pain, problems and negative emotions from their lives. With EFT, the focus is on whole person and on reducing, stress, anxiety, limiting beliefs and painful memories that may be underlying the client’s problems and holding them back from fully realizing their potential for health, happiness and success in life.

LOCATION: Alchemy & Elixir Health Group, 320-1026 Davie Street, Vancouver

TIME:6:00-7:30 pm on Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

PRE-REGISTRATION REQUIRED as space is limited. Please call (778)-846-2176 and speak to Julia at Healing Flower Therapy or call (604)-683-2298 for Alchemy & Elixir Health Group, please leave a message if you reach our voice mail.

PRICE: 10$ will be collected at the door, cash or cheque only. Julia can be contacted either through the website www.alchemyelixir.com or e-mail julia.mckinley@healingflowertherapy.com

Whats the word on L’ Glutamine?

~written by Katolen Yardley, MNIMH, Medical Herbalist

L’ glutamine is the most widely used amino acid within our bodies, found with in both the bloodstream and in muscle tissue. When the body is under extended stress, levels of glutamine can become depleted, resulting in needed supplementation from external sources.

Glutamine is used to produce protein, used for energy and as fuel for the mucous membranes lining the digestive tract and for most cells in the body.

In the digestive tract glutamine is used to promote the healing of damaged cells by stimulating regeneration and growth for new healthy cell turnover, to minimise the effects of food sensitivities and allergies and to protect and help heal a leaky gut. Quality of glutamine is important. The best sources of glutamine are from fermented beets. Lower quality glutamine products are sourced from crab shells and by-products of glucosamine.

L’glutamine can offer the best health enhancement with taken during times of increased intestinal permeability (antibiotic use, leaky gut syndrome and times of extended stress). L’ glutamine can assist with enhancing energy levels, and an improved sense of wellbeing,

Dosage varies depending upon the reason used, although 500 mg taken 3-4 times daily is often a standard, recommended dosage. This supplement can be taken during the day or at night to support further healing during the sleep cycle.

For athletes, glutamine can help enhance recovery after a workout, healing due to overtraining. L’ glutamine helps to enhance immune system function, used as a fuel for white blood cell function, and studies show that glutamine helps to enhance the lymphocytes cells which fight illness.

For individuals working with balancing the bodies PH, glutamine acts as a buffer for acidic conditions and plays a role in the maintenance of a healthy acid/ alkaline balance.

The Ultimate Cleansing and Detoxification Seminar

Learn all the steps needed to create a cleaner body and eliminate toxic buildup. During this full day workshop we will cover ways of cleansing safely, review popular cleanses on the market, discuss nutrition and herbal medicine and cover the following information on cleansing effectively:

Detoxification and Cleansing: What is cleansing and detoxification? What should anyone cleanse? How does one properly detoxify the body? What are the benefits of cleansing? How does one cleanse safely?

Steps to Boosting the Immune System: A compilation of everyday life stresses, poor nutrition and environmental toxins are detrimental to the immune system and therefore the integral health of our body. Tips for improving, strengthening the immune system.

Signs and Symptoms of Toxicity: Lifestyle changes to facilitate optimal detoxification, review basic anatomy, learn ways our body detoxifies and key organ systems to support, what health issues can be symptoms of toxicity.

Toxic Check List! Products to Avoid at all Costs: Toxins are not only ingested but can be absorbed into body through various products. Tips on what products to avoid putting on and in your body, face and hair and ingredients to avoid at all costs!

Cleansing Herbs: Effective Herbal Medicine to support the organs of elimination improves the bodies detoxification ability and herbs which can be used safely every day to support the bodies cleansing capacity.

Nutrition and Cleansing

Buildup and Breakdown Foods: Foods that are buildup foods and foods that are breakdown foods within our bodies. This occurs in our bodies not in the foods, well-being is a result of a balance between the two relations within the body. How to integrate additional breakdown foods in our eating practices & create a more alkaline system.

Better Food Choices for a Healthier Body: Two guidelines to follow: Eat foods that are high in nutrition (nutrient dense) and are largely unadulterated (not highly processed). How to choose and shop for better food choices.

Excess Sugar: Excess sugar in the diet can lead to toxicity and gross nutritional imbalances. How sugar affects our well-being.

Insoluble & Soluble Fiber: Ideas for incorporating more insoluble & soluble fiber into our meal selections to lessen toxic buildup.

Taught by: Sharon Green, RHN, Registered Holistic Nutritionist & Katolen Yardley, MNIMH, Medical Herbalist

Location: Alchemy & Elixir Health Group #320-1026 Davie St, Vancouver, BC

Saturday. January 16, 2010 Time: 900-1530

Cost: $ 80 (cash or cheque) plus gst

Space is limited. Pre-registration and prepayment is required

Phone: 604-7683-2298 or register online at info@alchemyelixir.com

Traditional Home Remedies with Apple Cider Vinegar

~ written by Katolen Yardley, MNIMH, Medical Herbalist

Organic Apple Cider Vinegar offers numerous health benefits and has been used in traditional home remedies both topically and internally. After the fermentation and extraction process using organic apples, the end result is a vinegar loaded with trace minerals, beneficial enzymes, healthy bacteria and pectin.

Over time, it is common for the vinegar to form a “mother” ~ the name for the natural protein which forms from enzymatic activity on the natural bacteria in the unpasteurized vinegar. The presence of a “mother” in the vinegar ensures that the vinegar contains the live enzymes needed to aid various ailments. Shaking the bottle will help disperse the mother and it is safe to use and drink.

As non organic apples are heavily sprayed, ensure that the brand of Apple Cider Vinegar chosen uses only organic apples and is bottled in a dark container, as the presence of bright light causes the vinegar to oxidize and breaks down vital nutrients.

Some traditionally home remedies using Apple Cider Vinegar

  • Used as a hair rinse after shampooing for healthy shiny hair, to help minimise dandruff and also used as a hair soak overnight to remove nits or lice from the hair shaft (shampoo out in the morning).
  • Cold and flu prevention: 1-2 teaspoons of Apple Cider Vinegar diluted in warm water and ingested daily. Honey can be added to aid the bitter taste.
  • Sore throat and an irritated cough: 1 teaspoon of Vinegar in 1 cup of water. Gargle and swallow. Repeat frequently throughout the day.
  • Sinus congestion: Boil apple cider vinegar and use as a steam.
  • The antiseptic properties makes this vinegar an excellent disinfectant wash for scrapes and wounds.
  • May provide some relief from poison ivy and shingles when applied as a liniment or an external soak.
  • Reputed to provide some relief from arthritis and bursitis and traditionally used long term to provide some relief from calcium deposits. It is thought that the acidic nature of the vinegar can help dissolve calcium deposited around the joints. Use as a topical application, soak a tea towel in apple cider vinegar and apply to the affected joint and dilute in water and drink internally.
  • Sip, diluted in water before a meal to stimulate the digestive juices and enhance digestion.
  • A delicious salad dressing, when combined with lemon, olive oil, garlic and fresh herbs.

Apple cider vinegar should not be ingested by persons dealing with digestive conditions casued from overacididity, ulcers or heartburn.

Slippery Elm Bark Powder- Ulmus fulva

Slippery Elm bark powder is one of my favorite “all purpose” herbs used for irritated mucous membranes. Slippery elm is a mucilage (that sounds slippery!!) that soothes and protects mucous membranes throughout the body, especially the endoderm lining of the digestive tract and acts via spinal reflex to soothe and relax all other embryonically related tissues (positively affecting cells lining the respiratory, urinary and reproductive tract).

What are Mucilages?

Some of the main constituents found in plant carbohydrates are gums and mucilages. Mucilages contain uronic acid, which forms a slimy substance when mixed with water. Mucilages are anti inflammatory, antispasmodic and protect against irritation. Gums offer a protective, slightly more hard and sticky quality, often found in thickening and bulking agents.

Properties of Mucilage Herbs

  1. Help to reduce irritation of the digestive tract by soothing, coating and protecting the membranes.
  2. Provides a buffer from excess stomach acid, acidic and spicy foods.
  3. Helps to absorb toxins from living or dead bacteria. Slippery Elm works well externally in a poultice for open wounds and ulcers.
  4. Helps to reduce spastic coughs , soothe a sore throat and remedy laryngitis.
  5. Decreases spasms of the urinary tract.
  6. Helps to decrease peristaltic action and decrease the ocurence of diarrhea.
  7. Helps to increase the production of watery mucous in the lungs to help loosen and discharge thick mucous from the respiratory tract.

I use slippery elm bark powder in my clinic for digestive upsets, heartburn, irritable bowel syndrome, crohns, colitis, reflux, ulcers -any condition where the mucous membranes need support and healing. This herb can also help to protect the body from the effects of too much stomach acid.

Slippery elm is a gentle bland tasting herb. It should be taken in powder form and mixed with water, into a paste, and eaten off the spoon.

For more reading and to purchase Slippery Elm powder click here:

Remember…the information provided here is for consumer education only, the comments are not meant to diagnose, nor do they take the place of advice given in a clinic environment by a health care professional.