From cognitive to mood enhancement, there’s a whole range of herbal remedies on offer, but it’s still a tough call.
That’s the challenge facing herbalist Dr Lisa Sargent, who is taking on a new herbal treatment for her epilepsy patients, and is also the author of the best-selling book The Power of the Mind.
Dr Sargents research suggests that herbs can offer a variety of benefits for the brain.
“There is a lot of research on what happens in the brain when you take the drugs and they don’t get used, so what is a good herbal medicine for me?” she says.
“The other thing that is really fascinating is that there are a lot more studies done on the brain using herbal medicines, and they are all really promising.”
Dr Slegs book The Healing Power of Plants contains the following: herbal cannabis oil, an extract from the leaves of the Chinese herb huanglong, which is known to relieve symptoms of epilepsy, and a blend of different herbs that are said to improve mood and memory.
Dr Nellie Oates, the chief executive of the British Association of Gynaecologists, says there are many different types of herbal medicines on the market, but there are two that have become a big success story in the last few years.
“We have been talking about a lot, like the ayurvedic medicine, and we have also been talking a lot about the neuro-supplements, the omega-3 and omega-6 oils, and the vitamins and minerals,” she says, “so we’ve got a whole variety of different things available.”
Dr Oates says herbal medicine is more affordable than prescription medicine.
“You are able to get a cheaper, cheaper, lower-quality product, because the costs of doing research have been reduced by about 80 per cent,” she explains.
“A lot of the time the costs have been offset by the cost of providing the quality of product that people want.”
The British Academy of Medical Sciences has been working on a list of medicinal herbs for many years, but now it is publishing its list of the most effective and promising herbal remedies.
Dr Oats says many of the ingredients are available in the US.
“Most of the drugs are not available in Canada, and there are lots of other countries that have started producing some of these things,” she said.
“So the people in the UK who are not in the best health, and need the most help in the short term, are actually buying the most powerful products.”
For Dr Sargants, who also specialises in the treatment of depression, she’s been trying different herbs.
“It’s not about what works for me, it’s about what is safe for me,” she explained.
“What is safe to use in your diet?
Is it good for your immune system?
Does it work in the skin?
Is there any other side effect that is going to be less severe?”
So it’s really about the science that is being done to answer these questions.
“Dr Aisling Koeppert, an associate professor of medicine at the University of Queensland, says a lot has been learnt about herbal medicines.”
They have all been tested by a number of independent scientists,” she told ABC Radio Brisbane.”
And that is important to make sure that you’re not putting too much pressure on the herbs.
You don’t want to be prescribing herbs that you have no evidence for.
“The National Institute of Health and Welfare (NIIW) is conducting a trial to determine the safety and effectiveness of the herbal extracts and the omega 3 and omega 6 oils.
The NIIW says there is no evidence to show that they improve health or reduce the risk of cancer or any other adverse side effect.
Dr Koepps says it’s important to be mindful of how the products you choose affect your health.”
People should not feel that they need to be on medication for things like anxiety and depression,” she advises.”
But I think that you can make a big difference to your mental health if you choose something that is very healthy, which isn’t being overly stressed out or stressed out with other people.
“Then you can actually have a very good life.”
Dr Koespert also believes there are certain herbs that have been studied more extensively, and she’s keen to find out more about the effectiveness of these herbs.
But Dr Slegts research shows that the best herbal medicine can be tailored to the individual.
“If you want a really good outcome, then you need to think about what are the best ingredients to make it so that it’s actually beneficial to you,” she suggests.