Relaxant and anti-spasmodic herbs: Ginger Root

Excerpt from Dr. Susan Lark’s Healing Herbs for Women

Ginger has thick, underground stems (tuberous rhizomes), and it is these knotted and branched rhiz-omes, commonly called the “root,” which are used in cooking and for medicinal purposes. Records of its use in China date to the fourth century BC. As an antispasmodic, ginger is effective in relieving the nausea and vomiting associated with motion sickness and morning sickness in pregnancy. The most pharmacologically active compounds in ginger are the various “pungent” principles, aromatic ketones known collectively as gingerols.

As for its effects on stress management, the gingerroot helps stabilize blood sugar levels, preventing the mood swings that erratic highs and lows of blood glucose can trigger. Ginger also increases the efficiency of the digestive processes and thereby the availability of essential nutrients needed for proper maintenance of blood glucose.

Suggested Dosage: Mix ½ tsp. ground ginger or 1 to 2 tsp. grated fresh ginger with 1 tsp. honey. Add one cup of boiling water to make a cup of ginger tea.

For more information about ginger or other herbs that improve immune function, see my book Dr. Susan Lark’s Healing Herbs for Women available on AmazonAmazon Kindle and Womens Wellness Publishing.

Relaxant and anti-spasmodic herbs: Chamomile

Excerpt from Dr. Susan Lark’s Healing Herbs for Women

Chamomile is a time-honored herb, called “ground apple” by the ancient Greeks because of its pleasant apple-like scent. Chamomile was used as a stewing herb during the Middle Ages, and today it is enjoyed as a tea by both adults and children throughout Europe and Latin America.

Used medicinally as a relaxant, chamomile calms nerves and promotes sleep, a benefit documented scientifically since the 1950s. The active principles of chamomile include flavonoids, glycosides, and essential oils.

As a relaxant, chamomile depresses the central nervous system, reducing anxiety while not disrupting normal performance or function. Chamomile seems an ideal herb to have on hand, given the demands and pace of modern life. Anyone who is overwhelmed by the demands of running a house-hold while also conducting a business from home might benefit from a chamomile tea break. A calming drink, rather than a cup of coffee, can sometimes better restore clear thinking and the ability to work efficiently. A cup of chamomile can also temper a child’s restlessness.

Chamomile also acts as an antispasmodic, helping to relax muscles that can automatically tighten when the fight-or-flight response is activated. As a tonic, chamomile can help prevent stress-related stomach cramps, poor digestion, and irritable-bowel syndrome.

Suggested Dosage: There are two types of chamomile, German (or Hungarian) and Roman (or English), both of which produce the same effects. To take as a tea, make an infusion of 2 to 3 heaping tsp. of chamomile flowers per one cup of boiling water. Let steep for ten to twenty minutes. Drink up to three cups a day. Children under the age of two may be given a weaker infusion. For a chamomile bath, tie a bunch of chamomile flowers into a cloth hung from the tub faucet, and run the bath water through it.

For more information about herbs that have relaxant and anti-spasmodic properties see Dr. Susan Lark’s Healing Herbs for Women available on Amazon, Amazon Kindle and Womens Wellness Publishing.

Relaxant and anti-spasmodic herbs: Peppermint

Excerpt from Dr. Susan Lark’s Healing Herbs for Women

Peppermint is a natural hybrid of the two mints, garden spearmint and water mint. Both peppermint and spearmint are used in herbal healing and have similar effects, but peppermint is somewhat tastier and more potent. Especially because it is a digestive, peppermint tea is enjoyed at the end of a meal, diffusing like alcohol and warming the entire body.

The medicinal component of peppermint is a volatile oil. There are more than forty compounds in the oil; menthol, flavonoids, tocopherols, carotenes, and choline are just some of the substances that contribute to its therapeutic effect.

Peppermint has been used traditionally to cleanse and strengthen the entire system, including the nerves. A bath containing peppermint oil is said to be calming. Peppermint also has an antispasmodic effect on smooth muscle. Calcium in muscle cells causes the muscles to contract. Peppermint blocks this influx, which might explain why peppermint has relaxant properties. Peppermint is a suitable treatment for upset stomach and intestinal spasm. As a stomach sedative, it also helps relieve gas.

In a study appearing in Phytomedicine, thirty patients (twelve female and eighteen male) received the herbal drug Lomatol, containing peppermint leaves, while sixteen males and fourteen females received metoclopramide hydrochloride drops. Each patient was instructed to take twenty-five drops of the preparation in water twenty minutes before each meal, three times a day for two weeks. By the seventh day, gastrospasms were eliminated in nearly 90 percent of the patients using Lomatol, compared with only 50 percent of the patients on the hydrochloride compound.

Suggested Dosage: Peppermint is commonly taken as a tea, prepared with 1 to 2 tsp. of the dried leaves per one cup of water. Be sure to use the organic dried leaves that are available in bulk or organic leaves prepackaged in tea bags.

Peppermint oil and menthol, when applied topically, can cause contact dermatitis in sensitive persons. Pregnant women are advised to use peppermint only in diluted, beverage-tea concentrations, not potent medicinal infusions. Moreover, the use of peppermint during pregnancy is discouraged for women with a history of miscarriage.

For more information about herbs with relaxant and anti-spasmodic effects see Dr. Susan Lark’s Healing Herbs for Women available on Amazon, Amazon Kindle and Womens Wellness Publishing.