Smorgasbord Health Column – A – Z of Common Conditions – Bronchitis by Sally Cronin


In this series I am covering the most common health conditions that we all might face during our lifetimes. It is easy to dismiss some of these conditions as being isolated to certain parts of the body such as Athlete’s foot or bad breath but in fact they can often be an indication of a more serious health issue.  By treating these conditions topically or in isolation, we run the risk of ignoring the body and its call for help.

At this time of year when colds and flu are easy to catch…. a cough can be dismissed as part of the infection that will pass, but it is important to have it checked out if it goes on for longer than a week.

Bronchitis

For anyone who suffers repeatedly from colds, bronchitis is always a possibility. There are two types of the disease. Acute bronchitis refers to the here and now and will last up to six weeks whereas chronic bronchitis infers long term symptoms that can last up to two years or longer if the infection is topped up from time to time by colds and flu.

bronchitisBronchitis usually follows an upper respiratory infection and is caused by the inflammation of the mucous membranes in the bronchial tubes. The membrane swells, thickens and obviously narrows the already tiny airways throughout the lungs. Our body’s response is to cough continuously to rid us of the infection, which produces the classic symptom of bronchitis. Thick phlegm is produced and there is usually breathlessness, fever and sometimes middle back pain.

Acute bronchitis is nearly always caused by viral infections, and in someone with a robust immune system, bed rest and fluids will result in a full recovery. However, repeated attacks can lead to the chronic condition.

Chronic bronchitis is often caused by environmental pollution. It could be chemicals in the workplace or simply in the air around where a person lives. It is however very closely linked to long term smoking or passive smoking and as many people find it difficult to give up cigarettes the condition is never cured and usually leads to Emphysema.

There are some herbal remedies that may improve the symptoms and help the body rid itself of the infection.

Eucalyptus Oil

You can add 5 – 10 drops to a hot bath and inhale the steam which not only relaxes the body but helps clear the lungs.

You can also put drops into a carrier oil ( I use olive oil) and rub into the chest and back. As you inhale the Eucalyptus the mucus in the lungs should softne and make it easier to cough.

Apples

There are some old remedies that whilst not scientifically proven have a great deal of folklore attached to them. The old saying ‘An apple a day, keeps the doctor away’ has actually been verified in a number of studies and you can eat baked apple and honey which combines the benefits of both.. or you can drink apple juice daily. It has been found that people who eat an apple or drink the juice daily rarely suffer from colds and upper respiratory conditions.

Onions and Garlic

I eat onion and garlic daily…cooked I have to say and in fairly moderate amounts as bad breath is not the most attractive quality in any of us. However, as of this moment in time I have not had a cold or flu for over 7 years.  I do draw the line of the old remedy of putting a hot onion poultice on my chest! Find out more about the many health benefits in this post.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/10/31/smorgasbord-health-column-cook-from-scratch-with-sally-and-carol-taylor-onions-and-garlics-keep-the-vampires-and-the-doctor-away/

Chamomile

This is another herb that is suitable for children who have bronchitis and is used extensively on the continent to improve the symptoms of chest infections. Drink the tea as hot as possible. You can find out more about this very useful herb here.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2016/10/19/the-medicine-womans-treasure-chest-chamomile-herbal-remedy-and-lotion/

N.B. If you have had a cough that has persisted for longer than a week and it is accompanied by a high temperature, mid-back pain or there is evidence of blood, please see your doctor immediately.

I hope that you have found the post of interest and please feel free to share.  Thanks Sally.

©Sally Cronin Just Food for Health 1998- 2018

My nutritional background

I am a qualified nutritional therapist with twenty years experience working with clients in Ireland and the UK as well as being a health consultant on radio in Spain. Although I write a lot of fiction, I actually wrote my first two books on health, the first one, Size Matters, a weight loss programme 20 years ago, based on my own weight loss of 154lbs. My first clinic was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Since then I have written a men’s health manual, and anti-aging programme, articles for magazines and posts here on Smorgasbord.

If you would like to browse by health books and fiction you can find them here: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/my-books-and-reviews-2018/

 If you have any questions then please do not hesitate to ask in the comments.. or if you prefer send in an email to sally.cronin@moyhill.com

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Smorgasbord Health – A – Z of common conditions – Bronchitis


smorgasbord A - Z

Now that we are clear of Christmas and New Year, I am going to resume some of the regular health features. In this series I am covering the most common health conditions that we all might face during our lifetimes. It is easy to dismiss some of these conditions as being isolated to certain parts of the body such as Athlete’s foot or bad breath but in fact they can often be an indication of a more serious health issue.  By treating these conditions topically or in isolation, we run the risk of ignoring the body and its call for help.

Bronchitis

For anyone who suffers repeatedly from colds, bronchitis is always a possibility. There are two types of the disease. Acute bronchitis refers to the here and now and will last up to six weeks whereas chronic bronchitis infers long term symptoms that can last up to two years or longer if the infection is topped up from time to time by colds and flu.

bronchitis

Bronchitis usually follows an upper respiratory infection and is caused by the inflammation of the mucous membranes in the bronchial tubes. The membrane swells, thickens and obviously narrows the already tiny airways throughout the lungs. Our body’s response is to cough continuously to rid us of the infection, which produces the classic symptom of bronchitis. Thick phlegm is produced and there is usually breathlessness, fever and sometimes middle back pain.

Acute bronchitis is nearly always caused by viral infections, and in someone with a robust immune system, bed rest and fluids will result in a full recovery. However, repeated attacks can lead to the chronic condition.

Chronic bronchitis is often caused by environmental pollution. It could be chemicals in the workplace or simply in the air around where a person lives. It is however very closely linked to long term smoking or passive smoking and as many people find it difficult to give up cigarettes the condition is never cured and usually leads to Emphysema.

There are some herbal remedies that may improve the symptoms and help the body rid itself of the infection.

Eucalyptus Oil

You can add 5 – 10 drops to a hot bath and inhale the steam which not only relaxes the body but helps clear the lungs.

You can also put drops into a carrier oil ( I use olive oil) and rub into the chest and back. As you inhale the Eucalyptus the mucus in the lungs should softne and make it easier to cough.

Apples

There are some old remedies that whilst not scientifically proven have a great deal of folklore attached to them. The old saying ‘An apple a day, keeps the doctor away’ has actually been verified in a number of studies and you can eat baked apple and honey which combines the benefits of both.. or you can drink apple juice daily. It has been found that people who eat an apple or drink the juice daily rarely suffer from colds and upper respiratory conditions.

Onions and Garlic

I eat onion and garlic daily…cooked I have to say and in fairly moderate amounts as bad breath is not the most attractive quality in any of us. However, as of this moment in time I have not had a cold or flu for over 7 years.  I do draw the line of the old remedy of putting a hot onion poultice on my chest! Find out more about the many health benefits in this post.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2016/06/23/the-medicine-womans-larder-beware-vampires-onions-and-garlic/

Chamomile

This is another herb that is suitable for children who have bronchitis and is used extensively on the continent to improve the symptoms of chest infections. Drink the tea as hot as possible. You can find out more about this very useful herb here.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2016/10/19/the-medicine-womans-treasure-chest-chamomile-herbal-remedy-and-lotion/

N.B. If you have had a cough that has persisted for longer than a week and it is accompanied by a high temperature, mid-back pain or there is evidence of blood, please see your doctor immediately.

I hope that you have found the post of interest and please feel free to share.  Thanks Sally.

The previous posts in the series can be found in the directory.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/smorgasbord-health-a-z-of-common-condition/

Smorgasbord Health – The Lungs – Part Two. Acute and Chronic diseases.


In the first blog I looked at the structure of the lungs and how we breathe. The purpose of these blogs is not to scare but to provide some insight into how these organs work and what effect our diet and lifestyle can have on their efficiency. As I mentioned before, the lungs get a lot less media attention than the heart and brain, but in essence we only live for around six minutes if these two bellows fail. Life becomes very restricted if the lungs are damaged or impaired in any way as we find it difficult to inhale enough oxygen for our other organs to function well and also to exhale toxins that then build up and play havoc with our general health.

Most of us do not have a doctor on call 24 hours a day – I am not being flippant but it is getting increasingly difficult to get an appointment within a two to three day window and in some cases two to three weeks! The initial 48 hour window is critical for most sickness. Unless you are sure that it is a common cold or the flu, any problem that is associated with front or back chest pain should be looked at immediately. Whilst there are clear signs of a heart event in the upper body that are covered in another series, you need to be concerned with pain to the sides of your chest or in your upper and central back area. This could indicate that you might have a lung problem that needs to be looked at.

Here is a brief look at some of more serious issues associated with the lungs that are mainly lifestyle related, with individual blogs to follow on Asthma, Pneumonia and Lung Cancer. I will also include the nutrients that are essential for lung health and a diet to follow to boost the immune system so that you body can fight off the infections

If we do not eat a healthy diet we will be more prone to minor infections that are likely to develop into these more serious illnesses. Our lungs need exercise to keep them fit and flexible and smoking, or being around smokers, will damage your lungs in varying degrees.

bronchitis

Bronchitis

For anyone who suffers repeatedly from colds, bronchitis is always a possibility. There are two types of the disease. Acute bronchitis refers to the here and now and will last up to six weeks whereas chronic bronchitis infers long term symptoms that can last up to two years or longer if the infection is topped up from time to time by colds and flu.

Bronchitis usually follows an upper respiratory infection and is caused by the inflammation of the mucous membranes in the bronchial tubes. The membrane swells, thickens and obviously narrows the already tiny airways throughout the lungs. Our body’s response is to cough continuously to rid us of the infection, which produces the classic symptom of bronchitis. Thick phlegm is produced and there is usually breathlessness, fever and sometimes middle back pain.

Acute bronchitis is nearly always caused by viral infections but repeated attacks can lead to the chronic condition.

Chronic bronchitis is often caused by environmental pollution. It could be chemicals in the workplace or simply in the air around where a person lives. It is however very closely linked to long term smoking or passive smoking and as many people find it difficult to give up cigarettes the condition is never cured and usually leads to Emphysema.

Emphysema

The leading cause of emphysema is smoking and it is a long term and chronic condition. When you smoke, the alveoli or air sacs are damaged and therefore over a period of time not only are you prone to infection, but your lung capacity is diminished. There is evidence that suggests that if you give up smoking some of the damage can be repaired with improved lung function. There is also a link to air pollution but it is usually in combination with smoking or living in a smoky environment.

In recent years, a genetic link to emphysema has been identified. Alpha-1 Antitrypsin deficiency is a rare genetic disorder, which results in a person missing a vital enzyme that normally protects the lungs. A combination of smoking and this deficiency will inevitably lead to emphysema.

The most common symptoms of the disease are shortness of breath, the chest becoming barrel shaped, chronic wheezing, fatigue and unexplained weight loss.

Cystic Fibrosis

Cystic fibrosis is the most common genetic disease affecting young children. It affects not just the lungs but the digestive system and results in a build-up of mucus preventing the clearing of bacteria from the lungs. This leads to a constant cycle of infections and permanent damage to the lung tissue. In the digestive tract, mucous prevents the efficient processing of food and it also blocks the ducts in the pancreas preventing the release of digestive enzymes. The role of these enzymes is to assist the body in digesting food and extracting nutrients. Without this process the body receives none of the essential components it needs to function properly including immune function which is so necessary to prevent frequent infections.

The treatment for this disease involves heavy doses of artificial enzymes with every meal and a demanding physical therapy routine to keep the lungs clear of mucous and functioning.

People are born with cystic fibrosis although a much higher number of people carry the defective gene. A carrier has only one copy of the defective gene but if they then have a child with another carrier the odds of their children having the disease are greatly increased.

There is a 25% chance that their child will have the disease, a 50% chance that the child will not have the disease but will be a carrier and only a 25% chance that they will not have the disease or be a carrier. In a family with two carrier parents there is no way to tell if all the children will have the disease, some of them or none of them. Genetic testing of suspect carriers should always be carried out before having children and as there is usually a great deal of family evidence of the disease. Anyone who has a history should automatically undergo testing with their partner to establish if they are both positive for the gene.

The long term prognosis for cystic fibrosis sufferers is much improved since research has identified both the genetic link and modern treatments but it is still a devastating illness to live with and also to support for family and friends. Hopefully continued research into genetics will result in not just prevention but a cure for the disease.

Pulmonary Hypertension

Pulmonary hypertension is a rise in blood pressure within the pulmonary artery caused by either a reduction in circulation or a rise in pressure in the lower chambers of the heart. The combination results in pulmonary heart disease.

Following chronic lung disease there is usually extensive damage to lung tissue and the alveoli or air sacs. The blood vessels in the lungs narrow over a period of time and oxygen is therefore restricted and in an effort to pump additional supplies around the body the right ventricle has to work a lot harder. In doing so it enlarges, putting strain on the heart muscles and their performance begins to deteriorate. Pressure in the veins returning the blood to the heart then have to work harder forcing water to leak from the blood stream into surrounding tissues. This leads to one of the classic symptoms of pulmonary heart disease, which is oedema or swelling in the lower legs spreading to the rest of the body.

The most common cause of the development of this condition is chronic lung infections or smoking that has led to extensive damage of the lung tissue.

Pleural Lining

Pleurisy

In the first blog on the lungs I talked about the membranes that encase the organs and the fluid that ensures that the lungs can move smoothly as they inflate and deflate. This is called the pleura and although normally there is barely any space between the two membranes if the fluid content increases for some reason, a cavity develops.

There are two main causes of pleurisy, one is a direct infection by bacteria or virus after infection or perhaps physical damage and the other is a follow on from lung infections such as pneumonia.

Pleurisy can be dry or wet depending on the cause. In dry pleurisy there is no increase in fluid in the pleural cavity and the increased effort resulting from the infection means that the lungs rub and grate against each other and the walls of the cavity causing extreme pain at the outer edges of the chest.

Wet pleurisy can develop from this, increasing the fluid, which becomes a mixture of blood and lymph as the body’s immune system goes into overdrive. This will restrict the lungs movements making breathing difficult but may ease the pain as the lungs are no longer in contact with the chest walls. As the fluid builds up it will affect other occupants of the chest cavity including the heart that may become displaced. Over a relatively short period of time the person’s condition can deteriorate very rapidly and become dangerous.

If an upper respiratory infection develops into a chest infection it is important to make sure that you monitor the symptoms carefully. As soon as a pain develops in the back or in the chest you should go to your doctor. This is particularly relevant for the very young and the elderly who are the most vulnerable.

As we move through the series I will be covering Lung Cancer, Asthma and Pneumonia separately and then the specific diet to protect the lungs. The breathing exercises that I have already blogged are in the archives and they are great for increasing the flexibility of these essential organs.

Thank you for reading and please leave a comment. If anyone has any questions please feel free to ask through my about page and I will answer in confidence.

 

©Sallygeorginacronin Just Food For Health 2009

 

The Medicine Woman’s Treasure Chest – Herbal Remedies – Thyme


thyme

This versatile herb can be used to flavour many wonderful dishes . As with most of our herbs, thyme has a long and revered history medicinally and if you had been a prominent Egyptian the herb would have been used to embalm you. Since the herb has antibacterial and antifungal properties it would have helped preserve the bodies beautifully.

The Greeks and Romans used thyme as a purifier ,burning it as incense in rooms and in their baths. It was also added to food such as cheese and alcohol – again probably because of its antibacterial properties and it may well be one of the first natural preservatives used in food manufacture.

It became better known in Britain in the 17th century and healers used the herb to relieve the symptoms of whooping cough, breathing difficulties, gout and mild stomach complaints. The oils has been used externally to help heal abscesses and during the First World War it was used to treat infections and relieve pain, as there were no antibiotics at that time.

Today the herb is cultivated all around the world and apart from cooking and medicine it is used in the manufacture of cosmetics and perfume.

How does thyme help the lungs?

As humans we have a sophisticated defence system to try and get rid of harmful substances before they can damage us. The cough reflex is an automatic response to mucus and infection in the lungs. Thyme helps the body with that job and acts as an expectorant loosening the congestion and generally supporting the respiratory system. It also helps soothe coughs allowing a more effective use of the response, allowing the airways to get rid of more mucous. It is particularly beneficial for emphysema and chronic bronchitis sufferers. It can also be use in conjunction with other herbs such as cowslip to aid the absorption of thyme but also as an expectorant.

The list of thyme’s medicinal properties is quite lengthy but apart from its antibacterial uses it also is anti-fungal, antiseptic, antiparasitic, antispasmodic, astringent, diuretic, expectorant, immune boosting, sedating or stimulating according to dosage and is a tonic.

As well as upper respiratory infections and lung conditions it has also been used medicinally to treat colic, depression, arthritis, eating disorders, ear infections, gastritis, hay-fever, headaches, heartburn, parasites, shingles , tooth decay and tetanus. There is traditional use for bed-wetting in children but as it is also a mild diuretic I would want to see evidence of that. It does however, disinfect the urine which can be helpful for those who suffer frequent bouts of cystitis.

Taken an hour before meals, it may stimulate the appetite, useful for someone who is elderly or recovering from illness.

An oddball treatment is one for alopecia – so if you are going a little thin on top you might want to try a little of the oil in your shampoo and conditioner.

It certainly is very versatile but you do need to take care when using medicinally and consult a herbalist for the correct dosage.

The plant contains some helpful nutrients, the primary being Vitamin K which is why this herb does need to be used with caution. Because it is so important to be aware of the ingredients of any herb that you take, here is a brief description of Vitamin K and its actions on the body.

VITAMIN K

There are two forms of the vitamin that the body can utilise. One is K1 (phylloquinone), which is from plant sources and the other is K2 (menaquinone) which is produced by bacteria in our own intestines. This is where many of us get into trouble because we are not eating sufficient raw and unprocessed foods for health and additionally many of us suffer from bacterial imbalances in the gut so do not produce sufficient from that source either.

The vitamin is fat-soluble and is stored in the liver. Studies indicate that approximately 50% of the stores come from our diet and the balance from bacteria in the intestines. We need healthy bile production for efficient absorption of Vitamin K and our lymphatic system circulates it throughout the body.

Apart from helping reduce excessive bleeding during menstruation it is also used therapeutically for the prevention of internal bleeding and haemorrhages including emergency treatment for overdoses of blood thinners such as Warfarin.

Blood clotting is a critical function in the body that solidifies blood to prevent us from bleeding to death from external or internal injuries. Vitamin K is essential for the production of a protein called prothrombin and other factors involved in the blood-clotting function and is therefore necessary to prevent haemorrhages. Also interestingly Vitamin K also activates other enzymes that decrease the clotting ability so it assumes the role of regulator within the blood stream. An example of this might be if a clot forms within a blood vessel that could block the flow and needs to be dispersed.

The vitamin has also been the subject of a great deal of research in recent years as scientists discovered that it played a significant role in liver function, energy production in the nervous system and in preventing bone loss as we age by assisting the absorption of calcium.

Vitamin K is needed to activate osteocalcin, the protein that anchors calcium into the bone, building and repairing the structure. A deficiency in the vitamin can therefore lead to brittle bones and osteoporosis.

As the vitamin works within the body it changes from function to function according to the various interactions with enzymes and at one stage it acts as an antioxidant preventing oxidative damage to cells. There may also be a role for the vitamin in cancer prevention as it is believed it may stimulate rogue cells to self destruct.

WARNING – When you should not take Thyme.

Because of the high Vitamin K content that slows blood clotting you need to stop taking at least three weeks before having surgery. If you are also on medication that has this effect then you should not take the herb. For example, many people from middle age onwards are now being prescribed low dose aspirin to thin the blood so you should not take Thyme in a herbal form. Warfarin is a high dose anticoagulant and it would be dangerous to combine the two.

If in any doubt consult your doctor and always before taking any herbal remedy or check with a qualified advisor. If you feel that the person you have asked, in a health food shop for example does not appear to be informed, then there should be a herbal reference guide in all dispensaries that gives the action and precautions of every remedy they sell. If they do not have a guide for you to read then buy somewhere else.

I have worked with A. Vogel herbal remedies for over 20 years. http://www.avogel.co.uk/herbal-remedies/ivy-thyme-complex/ is one you might try.

You can buy thyme in capsule form and it often comes with another herb called fenugreek which is another expectorant and herb used in the treatment of lung disorders. The oil is used externally and is very warming when rubbed on the chest during bronchitis or pneumonia.

Read the instructions for dosage on the bottle which is dependent on age and health.

Thyme as part of your diet.

The nutrients in Thyme that make it a useful component in your diet are; iron, manganese, calcium, and tryptophan.

Adding Thyme to your food in cooking is not dangerous unless you put tablespoons into the recipe.Thyme is a versatile herb and it is wonderful with meat dishes. It is quite pungent so take care when using fresh thyme and only use a little at time.

You can added to your baking and here is a great site with some recipes including one for cornbread.

oh3915p249-thyme-corn-bread-m

http://www.cookinglight.com/food/in-season/cooking-with-thyme

If you have a cold I suggest making a tea with a small amount of leaves, seep for five minutes and then add fresh lemon juice and a teaspoon of honey. You will find it not only refreshing but it may also help prevent your infection reaching the next level.

You will find the posts on Dandelion and Peppermint here.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/medicine-womans-treasure-chest-herbs-and-spices/

Thanks for stopping by and hope you have found interesting.   Sally

Coughing and Spluttering and losing your hair? – Thyme for herbs.


As part of the Winterise your body I have been covering some herbs that might help protect or help alleviate symptoms should you get a cold or other infection.  Although we are now in the season to be merry…. there is an increased opportunity for interaction between strangers and we also tend to get more friendly at this time of the year… hugging and kissing friends and family may get you more than you bargained for.

If this is the case then having Thyme in your natural medicine cabinet is useful and as a side benefit it might help if you are going a bit thin on top…

It is also a wonderfully healthy ingredient to your cooking as you will see.

Thyme

This versatile herb can be used to flavour many wonderful dishes. As with most of our herbs, thyme has a long and revered history medicinally and if you had been a prominent Egyptian the herb would have been used to embalm you. Since the herb has antibacterial and antifungal properties it would have helped preserve the bodies beautifully.

index

The Greeks and Romans used thyme as a purifier, burning it as incense in rooms and added to their bathwater. It was also added to food such as cheese and alcohol – again probably because of its antibacterial properties and it may well be one of the first natural preservatives used in food manufacture.

It became better known in Britain in the 17th century and healers used the herb to relieve the symptoms of whooping cough, breathing difficulties, gout and mild stomach complaints. The oil has been used externally to help heal abscesses and during the First World War it was used to treat infections and relieve pain, as there were no antibiotics at that time.

Today the herb is cultivated all around the world and apart from cooking and medicine it is used in the manufacture of cosmetics and perfume.

How does thyme help the lungs?

As humans we have a sophisticated defence system to try and get rid of harmful substances before they can damage us. The cough reflex is an automatic response to mucus and infection in the lungs. Thyme helps the body with that job, and acts as an expectorant loosening the congestion and generally supporting the respiratory system. It also helps soothe coughs allowing a more effective use of the response, allowing the airways to get rid of more mucous. It is particularly beneficial for emphysema and chronic bronchitis sufferers. It can also be used in conjunction with other herbs such as cowslip to aid the absorption of thyme but also as an expectorant.

The list of thyme’s medicinal properties is quite lengthy but apart from its antibacterial uses it also is anti-fungal, antiseptic, antiparasitic, antispasmodic, astringent, diuretic, expectorant, immune boosting, sedating or stimulating according to dosage and is a tonic.

As well as upper respiratory infections and lung conditions it has also been used medicinally to treat colic, depression, arthritis, eating disorders, ear infections, gastritis, hay-fever, headaches, heartburn, parasites, shingles , tooth decay and tetanus.  There is traditional use for bed-wetting in children but as it is also a mild diuretic I would want to see evidence of that.  It does however; disinfect the urine which can be helpful for those who suffer frequent bouts of cystitis.

Taken an hour before meals, it may stimulate the appetite, useful for someone who is elderly or recovering from illness.

A useful treatment is one for alopecia – so if you are going a little thin on top you might want to try a little of the oil in your shampoo and conditioner. Might save you from resorting to other less effective methods..

bald before and afterIt certainly is very versatile but you do need to take care when using medicinally and consult an herbalist for the correct dosage.

The plant contains some helpful nutrients, the primary being Vitamin K which is why this herb does need to be used with caution.  Because it is so important to be aware of the ingredients of any herb that you take, here is a brief description of Vitamin K and its actions on the body.

Vitamin K

There are two forms of the vitamin that the body can utilise.  One is K1 (phylloquinone), which is from plant sources and the other is K2 (menaquinone) which is produced by bacteria in our own intestines.  This is where many of us get into trouble because we are not eating sufficient raw and unprocessed foods for health and additionally many of us suffer from bacterial imbalances in the gut so do not produce sufficient from that source either.

The vitamin is fat-soluble and is stored in the liver. Studies indicate that approximately 50% of the stores come from our diet and the balance from bacteria in the intestines.  We need healthy bile production for efficient absorption of Vitamin K and for our lymphatic system to circulate it throughout the body.

Apart from helping reduce excessive bleeding during menstruation it is also used therapeutically for the prevention of internal bleeding and haemorrhages including emergency treatment for overdoses of blood thinners such as Warfarin.

Blood clotting is a critical function in the body that solidifies blood to prevent us from bleeding to death from external or internal injuries. Vitamin K is essential for the production of a protein called prothrombin and other factors involved in the blood-clotting function, and is therefore necessary to prevent excessive blood loss.  Also interestingly Vitamin K also activates other enzymes that decrease the clotting ability so it assumes the role of regulator within the blood stream.  An example of this might be if a clot forms within a blood vessel that could block the flow and needs to be dispersed.

The vitamin has also been the subject of a great deal of research in recent years as scientists discovered that it played a significant role in liver function, energy production in the nervous system and in preventing bone loss as we age by assisting the absorption of calcium.

Vitamin K is needed to activate osteocalcin, the protein that anchors calcium into the bone, building and repairing the structure.  A deficiency in the vitamin can therefore lead to brittle bones and osteoporosis.

As the vitamin works within the body it changes from function to function according to the various interactions with enzymes and at one stage it acts as an antioxidant preventing oxidative damage to cells.  There may also be a role for the vitamin in cancer prevention as it is believed it may stimulate rogue cells to self-destruct.

When not to take Thyme as an herbal remedy.

Because of the high Vitamin K content and the effect on blood clotting you need to stop taking at least three weeks before having surgery. If you are also on medication that has this effect then you should not take the herb. For example, many people from middle age onwards are now being prescribed low dose aspirin to thin the blood so you should not take Thyme in an herbal form. Warfarin is a high dose anticoagulant and it would be dangerous to combine the two.

If in any doubt consult your doctor and always before taking any herbal remedy or check with a qualified advisor. If you feel that the person you have asked, in a health food shop for example does not appear to be informed, then, there should be an herbal reference guide in all dispensaries that gives the action and precautions of every remedy they sell.  If they do not have a guide for you to read then buy somewhere else. I have worked with A. Vogel herbal remedies for over 20 years. http://www.avogel.co.uk/herbal-remedies/ivy-thyme-complex/ is one you might try.

Read the instructions for dosage on the bottle which is dependent on age and health.

The other nutrients in Thyme that make it a useful component in your diet are; iron, manganese, calcium, and tryptophan.

Thyme is a versatile herb and it is wonderful with meat dishes. It is quite pungent so take care when using fresh thyme and only use a little at time.

If you have a cold I suggest making a tea with a small amount of leaves, seep for five minutes and then add fresh lemon juice and a teaspoon of honey. You will find it not only refreshing but it may also help prevent your infection reaching the next level.

You can buy thyme in capsule form and it often comes with another herb called fenugreek which is another expectorant and herb used in the treatment of lung disorders. The oil is used externally and is very warming when rubbed on the chest during bronchitis or pneumonia.

And on a lighter note…..

coughing elephant