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elaine hickman

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Herbal Medicine for Crohn’s or UC

Herbal Medicine for people living with Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis

Most cultures, including the West, have a continuous history of the use of substances from nature to treat illness. Until recently, most Western medicines were based on plants and other natural substances. Herbal Medicine is becoming increasingly popular and accepted as, if used properly, it is safe, natural and very effective. Herbal Medicine can be used to assist people living with Crohn’s Disease & Ulcerative Colitis by boosting the immune system, improving general wellbeing, and decreasing inflammation in the bowel. Many drugs commonly prescribed for these conditions have potential adverse side effects. It is therefore important to identify well tolerated medicines that can help induce and maintain remission.

Note: Herbal Medicine can be used safely in conjunction with pharmaceutical drugs. All you need is accurate information and advice. The best source of this information is your treating gastroenterologist, GP, or herbalist. Self-administration without professional advice can be ineffective or dangerous. Even though most specialists and GP’s have no training in herbal medicine, they will receive information about any reactions and contraindications between medicines. A qualified herbalist, either Chinese Medicine Practitioner or Naturopath, will be able to prescribe herbs which could help you.

Herbal Medicine is the use of mostly plant parts (leaves, twigs, bark, roots and seeds) to treat illness. There are specific herbs and supplements which can be used to decrease inflammation in the gut, protect the lining of the bowel and boost immunity:

  • 1. Turmeric
  • Turmeric may have a protective role in ulcerative colitis through regulation of oxidant/anti-oxidant balance and modulation of the release of some inflammatory agents.1
  • 2. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
  • Some studies have found that omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish oil, may reduce inflammation in people with Crohn’s Disease. More research on omega-3 fatty acids is needed, especially at differing doses, because not all studies have found a positive effect. There were no serious side effects in any of the studies.2
  • 3. Glutamine
  • Glutamine is an essential amino acid is known to play a key role in maintaining the integrity of the intestinal mucosa (lining). Glutamine supplementation has been shown to reduce intestinal permeability (Hond 1999), prevent mucosal atrophy and maintain gut integrity (Van der Hurst 1993).3
  • 4. Probiotics
  • Probiotics are living microorganisms that are thought to benefit health by altering the growth of bacteria in the intestines thereby reducing inflammation. Probiotics have been found to be effective in managing inflammatory bowel disease. They help control the number of potentially harmful bacteria, reduce inflammation, and improve the protective mucus lining of the gut.4
  • 5. Oral Aloe Vera Gelhas been found in studies to have an anti-inflammatory effect in the bowel.5
  • 6. Boswelliahas been found to block chemical reactions involved in inflammation. Unlike anti-inflammatory medication, Boswellia doesn’t seem to cause gut irritation that can occur with many conventional pain relievers. Boswellia should not be taken for more than 8 to 12 weeks unless under the supervision of a qualified health practitioner.5
  • 7. Folic Acid

People with chronic ulcerative colitis are at greater risk of colon cancer. A study found that dietary Folic Acid supplementation significantly suppressed ulcerative colitis-associated colon cancer.5

  • 8. Chinese Medicinal Herbs

Different Chinese Medicinal Herbs are used according to the nature and severity of the inflammatory bowel disease. These herbs include: rhizoma zedoaria, caulis fibraureae, cortex moutan radicis (moutan bark), semen presicae (peach seed), radix notoginseng, radix achyranthis bidentatae, rhizoma atractylodis, cortex cinnamomi (cinnamon bark), poria, radix ledebouriellae, radix aucklandiae, radix paeoniae rubra (red peony), rhizoma atractylodis macrocephalae (Fan 1999).6

Taking a single herb or supplement can be helpful. Taking a combination of herbs can increase the effect exponentially. In fact, the most effective way to use Herbal Medicine is to take a specific combination or mixture. This can be in liquid, powder, granule, pill or raw (cook it yourself!) form. Pill form is the most popular way to take herbs because they are easy to take and don’t taste unpleasant! Over centuries (or thousands of years in Chinese Medicine’s case), herbalists have worked out how to best combine groups of herbs to maximise effectiveness and minimise (or eradicate) side effects. Just like people, some herbs will work well together, some wont. Some herbs, when mixed together will work much better than when used separately. This use of synergy, and individualisation to your particular case, is where Herbal Medicine becomes very effective. Herbal Medicine is an exact science, so dosage and ratios are crucial. One herbal remedy or supplement will not work for all cases of Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis. Having a Chinese Medicine practitioner or Naturopath tailor a prescription specifically for you will give you the best results.

Herbal Medicine can be used to boost the immune system, improve general wellbeing, and decrease inflammation in the bowel. Seeing a qualified herbalist who has the skills and experience to help you can be life changing. Since I was asked to write an article for ACCA in 2006, I’ve treated many people with Crohn’s and UC. 95% of those patients had very positive changes in their symptoms, most within 4 weeks. I’ve helped people significantly reduce their medication needs. Treatment is relatively low cost, and in some cases, after an initial consultation and prescription, herbal pills can be posted to you, with only a brief follow-up consultation needed to assess your response and review the prescription. The best practitioner will give you herbal medicine that works, that can be easy and convenient to take.

By Dr. Elaine HickmanB.H.Sc. TCM (Acupuncture), Cert.Cl.Ac (Beijing)

Freedom Chinese Medicine

261 Waterdale Road, Ivanhoe, Victoria 3079

Ph. 03) 9486 5966

Email: [email protected]

ENDNOTES

  • 1. Kumar S, Ahuja V, Vishnubhatla S, Prasad K, Kumar A. Curcumin for maintenance of remission in ulcerative colitis (Protocol). Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2010, Issue 3.
  • 2. Turner D, Zlotkin SH, Shah PS, Griffiths AM. Omega 3 fatty acids (fish oil) for maintenance of remission in Crohn’s disease. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2009, Issue 1.
  • 3. Srinivasan R, Akobeng AK. Glutamine for induction of remission in Crohn’s disease (Protocol). Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2008, Issue 4.
  • 4. Butterworth AD, Thomas AG, Akobeng AK. Probiotics for induction of remission in Crohn’s disease. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2008, Issue 3
  • 5. Ulcerative Colitis Remedies By Cathy Wong, About.com Guide Updated February 14, 2008
  • 6. Gan T, Wang Y, Jin SJ, Tian L. Traditional Chinese medicinal herbs for induction of remission in ulcerative colitis (Protocol). Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2002, Issue 4.

REFERENCES

Turner D, Steinhart AH, Griffiths AM. Omega 3 fatty acids (fish oil) for maintenance of remission in ulcerative colitis. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2007, Issue 3

De Ley M, de Vos R, Hommes DW, Stokkers PC. Fish oil for induction of remission in ulcerative colitis. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2007, Issue 4. 

Hot Flushes? You’re not alone..

Menopause can be some women’s biggest hormonal challenge. For other women, the change can be a breeze. Menopausal symptoms can arrive when our oestrogen levels naturally decline. Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine can significantly reduce menopausal symptoms, not by replacing lost oestrogen, which Western Medicine attempts to do, but by stabilising the body’s temperature controls1. This can be done safely, effectively and quickly! In my clinic, I regularly see women obtain significant rapid relief of menopausal symptoms, without unpleasant side effects.

Menopausal symptoms can include hot flushes, sweats, mood swings, dryness, weight gain, and many others. I see many women who put up with long term sleep disturbance due to hot flushes which can then result in fatigue and depression. Don’t resign yourself to poor sleep! There are many ways to get relief.

menopause relief

How can I make my menopause easier?

Each woman will experience menopause differently and there is no one treatment that will suit everyone. Here are some of them:

  • Understand that this is a normal part of life and allowing yourself time to adjust, and pamper yourself.
  • Relax and do anything which helps reduce stress. Reduce your activity levels if possible and avoid rushing.
  • Exercise regularly and keep fit. Weight-bearing exercise is particularly helpful for your bones.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet and maintain a healthy body weight.
  • Talk to a counsellor if you feel it would help.

Some women find that hot weather, confined spaces, hot drinks, spicy foods or alcohol make them worse, so avoiding these things can help. Wearing layers of clothing that can easily be removed or replaced, learning meditation and relaxation techniques and cognitive behavioural therapy techniques can also help.

Still suffering?

If you are not getting significant relief from your menopausal symptoms, it’s time to step up the intervention. Chinese Medicine has proven to be effective at reducing menopausal symptoms, give it a try! I have seen hundreds of women feel so much better after trying the following Chinese Medicine therapies:

  • Tai Chi or Qi Gong exercises
  • Take all natural herbal medicines, such as Er Xian Wan or Two Immortals
  • Two Immortals herbs have been the subject of many clinical studies.1,2 Women taking a Chinese herbal formula experienced less than half the number of menopausal hot flashes they had before the treatment, according to a new study from Hong Kong. Whole blood counts, renal function, and liver function were all within the normal range before and after treatment. Er Xian Tang is well tolerated with no serious adverse events noted.2
  • Contact us for more information and to buy
  • Better still, you can have a consultation with a Chinese Medicine practitioner to get high potency herbal medicine. Many of my patients swear by these all natural medicines.
  • Try a course of Acupuncture! 1 to 4 sessions can make a world of difference. At Freedom Chinese Medicine, we even offer Laser Acupuncture if you want a needle-free option.
  • Best of all, with Chinese Medicine, you can get better and stay better. If you are suffering through menopause, I strongly suggest you don’t put up with it, seek some help. I see menopausal symptoms alleviated every day in the clinic.

You may well find, as many women do, that you discover a new sense of freedom and enthusiasm at this time. It can be smooth sailing through to a new chapter of your life!

We understand that menopausal symptoms can be very unpleasant. You want to make sure that you feel comfortable with the practitioner who is helping you. That is why I’m offering a FREE initial health assessment this month, in which I do a brief assessment of your health and advise a treatment strategy for you. It gives you the opportunity to see if my team and I are the right people to help you. Contact us today to book or enquire.

Dr. Elaine Hickman
Dr. Elaine Hickman

B.H.Sc. TCM (Acupuncture), Cert.Cl.Ac (Beijing)

Registered Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine

 

References

1. http://www.bodyandsoul.com.au/health/natural+health/acupuncture+for+menopause,11089

2. Zhong LL et al., A randomized, double-blind, controlled trial of a Chinese herbal formula (Er-Xian decoction) for menopausal symptoms in Hong Kong perimenopausal women. Menopause. 2013 Jul;20(7):767-76.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/03/29/us-chinese-herbs-idUSBRE92S0CQ20130329

http://www.mydr.com.au/womens-health/menopause-what-you-can-expect

http://sunherbal.com/Include blog written content and any URL links to videos

Hormones: Subtle is Powerful

Ever wondered if Mercury in retrograde will affect your week? Well, try seeing how a hormonal fluctuation will affect your whole day! Have you ever tried on your favourite bra for that perfect dress only to discover that your breast size has changed overnight? Ever suffered with premenstrual acne, period pain, excessive facial hair, hot flushes? Have you ever had inexplicable weight gain? Or have you been intensely angry with your partner one day, only to discover in the very next day or two, that it was due to a premenstrual mood swing? We often underestimate the power of our hormones. Even when they’re in balance, they can run or ruin our day, imagine what it’s like when they’re out of balance!

hormone imbalance

Hormones basically act as chemical messengers in our body, transporting a signal from one cell to another. And it is a subtle signal. For example, only a small amount of hormone is required to alter cell metabolism. We have many different types of hormones; estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, adrenaline & cortisol, thyroid hormones and many more. Hormone signals control the internal environment of the body through homeostasis.

Now, homeostasis is a process that Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) knows a lot about. TCM Doctors simply call it – balance. TCM, especially acupuncture, is very effective at sending chemical and electrical messages in the body. Subtle and often powerful messages. Just like our bodies hormonal signals, acupuncture has proven to stimulate the release of neurotransmitters in our body such as endorphin and enkephalin2. All of these complex messages can keep us functioning at our optimum. We can utilise acupuncture to help the body self-regulate hormonal balance; Yes, we can do something to ease those troubling symptoms!

balance

Different language is used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to describe balance, namely Yin and Yang. But we are essentially talking about the same thing: a system in which variables are regulated so that internal conditions remain stable and relatively constant. TCM has an advantage in addressing hormonal problems as it takes a holistic view. Meaning that it views your body, mind and it’s functions as a whole unit, complete with all it’s complex interactions.

Our body is often well equipped to regulate itself, but sometimes it needs a helping hand. Take menopause for example, most women’s biggest hormonal challenge. Menopausal symptoms can arrive when our estrogen levels naturally decline. Acupuncture can significantly reduce menopausal symptoms, not by replacing lost estrogen, which Western Medicine attempts to do, but by stimulating endorphins to stabilise the body’s temperature controls1.In my clinic, I regularly see women obtain significant rapid relief of menopausal symptoms, without unpleasant side effects.

menopause relief

PMS, or Premenstrual Syndrome can also be alleviated by some hormonal fine tuning with TCM. Whether it’s premenstrual mood changes and irritability that ail you or the more physical symptoms of headache, breast tenderness, bloating or fatigue. It is very easy for a qualified Chinese Medicine/Acupuncture practitioner to reduce these symptoms within three months.

Hormonal problems which can contribute to weight, sleep and fertility issues can also be helped with TCM. As can Thyroid Disease and Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. These more complex hormonal balance issues can take 3 to 6 months to be balanced by Chinese Medicine and/or Acupuncture, but it definitely works. A good practitioner will also teach you ways in which your diet and lifestyle can add or subtract from your hormonal balance.

If your hormones are making you suffer, I strongly suggest you don’t put up with it, seek some help. I see hormonal problems alleviated every day in the clinic.

At Freedom Chinese Medicine, we  understand that hormonal problems can be very unpleasant. You want to make sure that you feel comfortable with the practitioner who is helping you. That is why I’m offering a FREE initial health assessment this month, in which I do a brief assessment of your health and advise a treatment strategy for you. It gives you the opportunity to see if my team and I are the right people to help you. Contact us today to book or enquire.

Dr. Elaine Hickman
Dr. Elaine Hickman

B.H.Sc. TCM (Acupuncture), Cert.Cl.Ac (Beijing)

Registered Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)

 

References

1. http://www.bodyandsoul.com.au/health/natural+health/acupuncture+for+menopause,11089

2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18711761Include blog written content and any URL links to videos

Q. How many treatments will I need?

A. For most conditions, 3-4 treatments are needed to affect significant improvement. For complex cases, a first course of treatment is usually between 4 to 6 sessions. This can vary depending on the individual cases of course. The practitioner will advise you on this after a diagnosis of the problem has been made.