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

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

As we learned on Monday's show, one in six people in Ireland are or will be affected by arthritis. As well the many people suffering from arthritis, there are even more suffering other forms of joint pain and muscle stiffness. Today our herbalist Ciara O'Meara is in studio to talk about herbs to boost mobility.

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.

Boswellia (Boswellia serrata) For osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis
Capsule form
This herb is useful for both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. There are a few different types of inflammatory pathways in the body. Research has shown that it can have a specific lowering effect on some of the primary blood markers for inflammation in Rheumatoid arthritis.
It can help to decrease pain and inflammation improving blood flow to joints and increasing flexion.
Directions two capsules 2-3 times daily.

Tumeric (Curcuma longa) For rheumatoid and osteoarthritis.
Capsule form

Tumeric is a member of the ginger family; like ginger it is the root of this plant which is of medical value. Tumeric can help reduce inflammation in both rheumatoid and osteoarthritis.
Taking turmeric with lecithin or black pepper can significantly increase absorption. It is also a good digestive tonic, has liver protective effects, anti-cancer and cholesterol lowering properties.
Some products may be 'standardised' for the active ingredient curcumin these products can irritate the gastric lining and reduce production of the protective coating in the stomach. If you have stomach problems it is best to take the whole product as nature intended as it actually has a protective action on the stomach lining.
Directions as per product

Willow bark (Salix alba) Reduces inflammation in joints
Capsule form

This is the original source of the anti-inflammatory salycilates found Aspirin. White willow however is as nature intended it and has none of the side effects associated with NSAIDS which can include gastrointestinal bleeding and inhibition of cartilage repair.
The effects can take approximately 4 weeks to fully manifest.

Crampbark (Viburnum opulus) Muscular cramping and spasms
Capsule or tincture

As the name suggests this herb is ideal for dealing with muscular cramping and spasms these can often accompany joint stiffness. This is an excellent herb for reducing stiffness and pain which allows improved blood flow to the joints.
It can be taken in capsule or tincture form capsule dosage 2 capsules 3 times daily before food. Tincture dosage will vary with concentration.

Celery seed (Apium graveolens) Used to treat gout symptoms
This is a traditional remedy indicated for gout symptoms. It is thought to help remove uric acid from the body. Uric acid is a normal breakdown product of purines, which are present in the body and in many foods. Normally it passes out of the body via the urine. When it rises above a certain level sodium urate crystals form, these needle like crystals deposits typically affect the big toe. It is a very painful condition.
Ingredients: 200 grams Celery Seed, 1 bottle of Apple Cider Vinegar (organic)
. 200g of celery seed, crush in a pestle and mortar
. Add to one bottle of organic apple cider using a funnel
. Strain after one week
. Pour into a clean bottle and label
Take 2 teaspoons in water twice a day.
Always seek professional advice if you have an existing kidney disease before taking herbal medicine.

Glucosamine sulphate
Slows the progression of osteoarthritis
Capsule/tablet form

Glucosamine is one of the fundamental building blocks of cartilage. It is particularly useful therefore in slowing the progression of osteoarthritis. The more severe the degeneration of the joint the longer it will take to see the benefits of this treatment. Glucosamine stimulates the manufacture of cartilage components.
Current research suggests that with long term treatment Glucosamine can be as effective as conventional painkillers for symptoms.

It is worth noting that long term use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDS) can prevent joint repair. It is suggested to take the product for 2-3 months to determine efficacy.
Those with shellfish allergies check the product as some may contain shellfish extracts.
Dosage; 500mg three times a day.

For more information on Ciara please visit

Ciara's Clinic location:
The Herbal Clinic
Suir View
Cathedral Street
Co .Tipperary

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