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Condition - Herbal focus an update

By Suzie Sawyer Dip ION MBANT NTC

As many of you will be aware, the deadline for the introduction of the new Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products Directive (THMPD) passed at the end of April. After that date, once old existing products have sold out in the shops, many traditional herbal remedies that we know and love will have to be licensed in order for shops to sell them. This is a costly exercise for manufacturers, but one that Higher Nature has undertaken in order to keep some of our most popular and efficacious herbs on the market.

For consumers, however, it has and will mean that there will be less brand and product choice, but at least quality standards will have to be maintained across the board. One of the great advantages to both manufacturer and consumer is that these herbals are licensed for specific medical conditions, which we are allowed to explain to our customers – something that is frequently not possible with food supplements due to onerous European legislation, which limits what we can say about our products.

As we all know, herbal remedies have been used for many years for a huge range of health problems and there is a wealth of research and anecdotal evidence as to their effectiveness for all manner or problems. However, it is worth noting that when licenses are granted for these remedies, they are approved for very specific conditions and ailments, based on traditional use, and these are specified both on the pack and the patient information leaflet. No other information can be given on possible other uses.

With this in mind and for those of you affected, it is Migraine Awareness Week from 4th-10thSeptember. The aim of this week is to encourage those who suffer to seek information and advice to help manage migraine. It is a debilitating condition with a number of possible triggers, although not everyone is able to identify their own specific issues. Visit www.migraine.org.uk for further information.

However, help is at hand with the herb feverfew. It is actually a member of the camomile family and has long been a staple in the herbal medicine chest. The famous herbalist, Nicholas Culpepper, wrote, “It is very effectual for all pains in the head”. It appears to downregulate the response of blood vessels in the brain to substances that are attributed to cause headaches, such as amines found in foods. This explains its ability to prevent migraine headaches and lessen the frequency of attacks. For greatest benefits, it needs to be taken continuously for several months.

Possible dietary migraine triggers

  • Caffeine, including energy drinks and certain painkillers
  • Additives, such as sweeteners and artificial colourings
  • Nitrites in foods such as processed meats
  • Alcohol
  • Citric acid, found in tinned fruit and vegetables
  • Bananas, citrus fruits, eggs, chocolate, peanuts, pineapple, figs and dates
  • Fermented foods, such as sauerkraut, vinegar, pickled vegetables and fish, soy sauce and yeast extract
  • Allergens, such as wheat and dairy

Possible non-dietary triggers

  • Stress
  • Muscle tension
  • Heavy metal toxicity
  • Liver toxicity
  • Trauma to the head
  • Lack of sleep
  • Hormonal changes, especially in women
  • Environmental variances, such as changes in air pressure
  • Dehydration

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