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Herbal Healing - Herbs to Boost Circulation With Ciara O'Meara

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Winter is well and truly in full swing, so what better time to look at boosting your circulation. When the weather is very cold outside the blood tends to move toward the interior of the body. This is a protective mechanism so that the vital internal organs are preserved when external temperatures are unfavourable. For most of us this is not a problem we just wear an extra layer of clothing. For others it can be a time of chilblains and exacerbation of conditions such as arthritis.

Today we are going to look at herbal remedies to boost circulation

Ciara O'Meara - Medical Herbalist
I have a long standing interest in natural medicine. From a young age I found myself allergic to antibiotics, this prompted a proactive approach to preventative medicine, ensuring that through diet and exercise I was always doing my best to stay healthy. I completed an honours Science degree in University College Dublin in 1997 followed by an MSc in Medical Genetics at Aberdeen University. I then spent a number of years working in the field of academic research in areas such as The Human Genome Project at Oxford University, UK, and on Cancer research at Cancer Research UK. It was during this time that I took up a yoga practice and further cultivated an interest in holistic medicine.

First hand experience of successfully using herbal medicine prompted me to pursue an interest in the subject. I soon realised that this interest was part of a much broader, richer and complex area of natural medicine which required dedicated study to appreciate both its subtleties and power. To deepen my knowledge on the subject and acquire the ability to confidently use it as a health professional I completed a four year degree at Westminster University in London.

This University is a long established centre for excellence in the training of medical herbalists. Its facilities encompass a central London clinic for herbal medicine where members of the public can avail of treatment. This is where I completed 500 hours of clinical training as part of my degree, treating members of the public from young to old with a range of illnesses. This was an integral part of the educational programme, in the interests of maintaining a high level of safe practice. This training included differential diagnosis of illness up to a high standard of training clinically on par with that of a GP.

Herbs for general circulation:

Prickly Ash bark (Xanthoxylum americanum)

This herb stimulates circulation and can help reduce congestion. It is effective in combating conditions such as chilblains, leg cramps, or varicose veins where poor circulation can either cause or exacerbate the problem. Internally it is slower acting than cayenne and not as overtly stimulating.
It can be taken as capsules or tincture, as concentrations may vary follow instructions as per product.

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
Rosemary essential oil is a useful circulatory stimulant. It can also help ease muscular aches and pains. The essential oil can be diluted in a carrier oil and applied to joints or can be used as a scalp oil to stimulate hair growth.
Rosemary increases circulation to the peripheries of the body, including the brain. It has anti-inflammatory actions and can relax tense muscles; it also strengthens the blood vessels as it contains beneficial anti-oxidants.

Cinnamon bark
This is a very gentle circulatory stimulant remedy; it can be used for children as it is gentle on the stomach and subtle in its action. It can be taken as a tea for this purpose.

Circulation for joints; aches and pains:

Devils claw (Harpagophytum procumbens)
Much research has been done on this herb which has proven its effectiveness in treating rheumatic conditions. It is especially useful where there is inflammation and pain. Ideally this treatment is combined with some other circulatory stimulants as part of a broader treatment.Quantities used in clinical trials were up to 3g per day of dried herb. Devils claw can also be taken in tincture form.

Wintergreen essential oil (Gaultheria procumbens)
Wintergreen essential oil is a topical anti-inflammatory, it contains salicylic acid which is the active ingredient from which aspirin was developed. It can also help reduce nerve pain, when rubbed into the skin it will feel cold at first and gradually you will feel the skin warm this is due to the increase in local circulation.

Capsicum fixed oil
Cayenne (Capsicum minimum) is both a topical and internal circulatory stimulant. A topical circulatory stimulant is called a rubifacient. It has a powerful action in stimulating the circulation in the skin directly under where it is applied. In this regard it is useful for painful arthritic joints. It is commonly used in tropical climates to increase stomach acidity thereby increasing sterilizing capacity of the stomach against potential harmful infection.

. Take 5-6 chillis chop up very finely
. Add to 200mls almond oil
. Heat gently over boiling water in a saucepan for approximately 20 mins
. Allow oil to cool, and bottle for 7-10 days
. Strain out the cayenne label and store.

IT IS VERY IMPORTANT TO WASH YOUR HANDS AFTER USING THE OIL ...Not to be taken internally in medicinal quantities in cases of hypertension, peptic ulcer or hyperacidity

For more information on Ciara please visit

Her Clinic location:
The Herbal Clinic
Suir View
Cathedral Street
Co .Tipperary

For More Information On Herbalists
Visit the Irish institute of medical herbalists -