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Herbal Healing-Top 5 complaints With Ciara O'Meara

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Medical Herbalist Ciara O'Meara Biog
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.

Today we are going to cover some treatments which can be used to treat some common ailments quickly and effectively. All the herbs are easily found in your local health store, and the remedies can be made in your own home.

1) Urinary Infections- Cystitis
Bearberry Tincture

This is a very common complaint among women and may affect up to 15 % of females in their lifetime, and is about 20 times more common than in men. Women are more likely to be affected because the urethra is shorter in women than in men, therefore infection is quicker to reach the sensitive bladder. It can occur at any age.

Predisposing factors include, hormonal changes, irritation from soaps or lubricants, friction during intercourse. Stress can cause a decrease in the circulating white blood cells leading to increased susceptibility to infection many women can identify stress as a trigger for cystitis.

Symptoms include:
-frequency of urination
- Burning or pain on urination
- Cloudy or bloody urine
Two main actions indicated are soothing of the urinary tract and antimicrobials

Bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi)
This is a very effective astringent and antimicrobial medicine. It can be taken in drop form in water and drank throughout the day.
Increase water intake to 8-12 glasses a day. Eliminate bladder irritants like coffee, black tea, alcohol and chocolate. Remove all high sugar foods from the diet.
NOTE: If you experience recurrent severe kidney infections should always consult your GP.


Slippery Elm powder

This is derived from the inner bark of the Slippery Elm tree found in the US.
It provides a directly soothing effect on the gastrointestinal system; it provides a protective healing barrier on the digestive mucus surfaces. It is both soothing to diarrhoea and helps to draw water into the bowel in cases of constipation. Can be taken by those who convalescing for its nutritive powers, particularly useful in this regard for both children and the elderly. .
Of use in acid reflux conditions, and also taken last thing at night to protect the stomach from the effects of excess acid.

To Prepare
. Take ½ to 1 teaspoon with all meals and between all meals for excess acid and reflux until symptoms improve, then take with all meals
. For IBS take both with and between meals when symptoms are bad, this will help both constipation and diarrhoea by soothing the intestinal tract.
Hints: Can be taken mashed with a small amount of banana, in hot milk, cold milk, in a small amount of yoghurt.

TO make your own Slippery elm tablets:
Combine a ½ tsp of slippery elm powder with some manuka honey to form a paste, work the past into a small ball store in a cool place and take as required.
For stomach ulcers or gastric irritation take about 20 mins before eating and avoid taking liquids in this time.

Meadowsweet Tea
This herb native to Ireland is a wonderful anti-inflammatory for the digestive system. It is pleasant tasting and can help to reduce acid (best taken as a tea for this purpose) and ease nausea. It is gently astringent and can be useful in treating children's diarrhoea. It contains plant chemicals called salycilates which are anti-inflammatory asprin like compounds; unlike over the counter pain relievers they do not cause any irritation of the stomach.

3) Zap those mouth ulcers
Myrrh is a simple and effective remedy for painful mouth ulcers.
Myrrh is a resinous gum which is suspended in a high alcohol tincture, When dropped onto a mouth ulcer the alcohol will evaporate leaving a resinous healing film over the mouth ulcer. Myrrh is highly antiseptic and anti-inflammatory. It can be diluted and used as a mouth wash where there is gum disease.

4) Sore throat/tonsillitis
Spray of Echinacea and Propolis. This is a very effective fast acting remedy.
As well as being an excellent immune stimulant internally Echinacea is topically anti-infective. Propolis is also a very powerful anti-infective against both viral and bacterial infection; it also has a slightly sticky consistency which allows it to adhere to the back of the throat where it is needed.

5) Colic
This is a very common condition in newborn babies. It tends to occur after a feed or in the evening when the baby is tired and their digestion may not be functioning optimally. Babies may pull their legs up to their stomach or stretch them out. It is important to distinguish that it is colic and not a feeding problem like gulping down air with the bottle, or if the teat on the bottle is too large or too small.

Occasionally the baby may have intolerance to cow's milk (often via breast milk) or substances in the formula. This is especially true in babies of a family with atopic tendencies eg, asthma, eczema.

When using herbs with babies a fluid ounce (30ml) of a weak herbal infusion can be given before each feed to relax the gut, alternatively it can be mixed with formulae water, or if you are breastfeeding drink the tea yourself.

Fennel seed
This is a wonderful herb for relaxing the gut and reducing the spasm associated with colic.

. Take ¼-1/2tsp of Fennel seeds in 100 ml of boiling water, allow to infuse for at least 30 mins.
. Give 1oz before and after feed also if necessary.

- The seeds should be strained out of the liquid before adding it to the babies milk or taking it internally if a breastfeeding mother

. Bearberry tincture
. Slippery Elm Powder
. Manuka honey
. Meadowsweet Tea
. Myrrh
. Spray of Echinacea and Propolis.
. Fennel seed

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 -