Smorgasbord Health 2017 – Winterising your body – Germs do not like Goldenseal

Smorgasbord Health 2017

In the last few health column posts I have covered the upcoming influenza season with news of a mega-vaccine and how to boost the immune system to prevent infection. I also mentioned the preventative and therapeutic properties of Echinacea and  in this post I want to follow up with another herb with similar properties but is not quite as popular.

Echinacea is an herb that might help prevent infections from colds and also help alleviate the symptoms if you actually caught one. Goldenseal has similar properties and also has a number of other reported medicinal properties including being anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal as well as being full of nutrients. It contains Vitamins A, C and E, B-complex, calcium, iron and manganese.

One word of warning about Goldenseal, it is a uterine stimulant which means that you should not take if you are pregnant and nor should you give to your pets if they are pregnant as it could induce early labour. You should also not take if you suffer from high blood pressure.

Like Echinacea, Goldenseal was used by the Native American Indians, in particular the Cherokee, for centuries in their pharmacy of natural herbs. Its distinctive yellow colour also made it a perfect dye for clothes and blankets.

Goldenseal is a member of the buttercup family and it is the root that is used in medicine. Originally it was most probably used for infections and to treat irritations of soft tissues, especially the eyes.

The mucous membranes of the body are found in the nasal passages, throat, digestive tract, respiratory tract and urinary tract. They are slimy to the touch in order to prevent bacteria sticking to their surfaces and reproducing and causing infection. They are also the first surfaces to become inflamed and irritated when we catch an infection. Goldenseal works by increasing the immune system energy and also increasing the circulation right under the surface of the membranes, which helps eliminate the waste faster and speed up the healing process.

There are a number of conditions that involve mucous membranes that can be helped by taking the herb – apart from colds and flu – including sinus infections, mild bowel inflammations, upper respiratory infections, urinary tract infections and eye irritations.

Quite a potent combination is to take both Echinacea and Goldenseal when you begin an infection. As you may know, Echinacea stimulates the immune system by increasing the activity of the white blood cells that destroy harmful bacteria and viruses.

  • The Goldenseal will help control the inflammation and speed up the immune system process by bringing the white blood cells to the infected site faster.
  • To be healthy we need our glandular functions to be working efficiently. Goldenseal increases bile flow (improves appetite), and digestive enzymes which in turn improves the function of the liver and the spleen. It also helps ease peptic ulcers, treats infections of the intestines and aids in digestion.
  • Goldenseal does not suit everyone and apart from the general warning above I do not advise using the herb for long periods of time. That applies to most herbs that are used therapeutically.
  • Echinacea can be used as a preventative measure during the winter months but Goldenseal should be used when needed in the early stages of an infection until it has cleared. Usually two weeks is sufficient and it is best taken after food.
  • Goldenseal can be used as a mouthwash following dental treatment. If you have a severe sore throat then you can dilute two capsules into 4 oz. of hot water, allow to cool, and then use as a gargle.
  • Goldenseal is available as a tincture or in capsule form.

Would love your feedback of course.. thank you and have a great week.. Sally



Smorgasbord Health 2017 – Winterise your Body – A little herbal health insurance – Echinacea and Australian Flu update

health column final

In the last two posts I have looked at Influenza, how to avoid and how to recover from a viral infection.  This time I would like to look at an alternative way to boost your immune system ready for the winter virus opportunists.

But first an update on the Australian Flu which is causing concern for health services across the world as air travel spreads the virus.

Australia is having a worse flu season than usual this year, with 93,711 laboratory-confirmed cases reported to its National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System as of August 18, government data show.

That’s almost 2½ times more infections than in the same period last year. According to a surveillance system report, adults over the age of 80 and children between 5 and 9 years old have been most affected.

Does Australia’s bad flu season bode ill for Northern Hemisphere nations, including the US, Canada and across Europe?

“In general, we get in our season what the Southern Hemisphere got in the season immediately preceding us,” Fauci said. An “intelligent guess,” therefore, is that the north will probably have a bad flu season.

Read the whole article here:

At this time of year I have a few drops of the good stuff every day.. and no I am not referring to the medicinal brandy in the sideboard in the dining-room. I am talking about Echinacea in the form of a tincture. From October I have 15 drops in a little water daily and touch wood…..I had not had a cold for many years or the flu until this year. I stopped taking taking my Echinacea at the beginning of May and then went over to London for the Blogger’s Bash. I live a fairly isolated existence here on the coast in Wexford and apart from competing in a trolley dash twice a week we rarely have contact with others except close neighbours.

My immune system obviously was not up for two planes full of people coughing and sneezing, or packed London public transport.  Sure enough three days after arriving back I got a stinker…..

Just goes to show, that the care I take the rest of the year, to provide my immune system with a varied and fresh food diet, sunshine and moderate exercise, needs extra help at certain times, especially if I am going to be confined with many others in an enclosed space at 30,000 feet!

Unfortunately, if you have not been following a varied and healthy diet and providing your body with the nutrients it needs to maintain a healthy immune system, taking 15 drops of echinacea is not going to be much help.


Echinacea is an herb that is very widely used to boost the immune system and help to alleviate the symptoms of colds and flu, naturally.

The Latin name for this herb is Echinacea Purpurea (Purple coneflower). It is considered to be the primary herbal remedy for the immune system and was first used in a healing capacity by the Native American Indians. They used it primarily for boils, abscesses and snakebites. They also chewed the roots for toothaches, colds, sore throats and coughs. The herb itself actually has no direct effect on bacteria or viruses but instead it is its effect on our own immune system that aids treatment of an infection.

The herbal tincture that you will see in health food shops and pharmacies is made from the roots, flowers and seeds of the plant. You can now buy capsules but I still prefer to use the tincture as I feel it is easier for the body to absorb and faster acting.

When choosing an herbal tincture it is important to buy a high quality product that is holistically standardised. This means that the chemical constituents of the plant are not tampered with in any way and the end product includes the whole spectrum of healing benefits. It is believed that the active ingredients in a plant work together to provide the overall effect. Some processing practices remove or reduce some of the elements of the plant making them less effective. Do make a point to check your labels, or the details of the product, before you buy.

With all alternative medicines you need to regard them with respect. They do not necessarily mix with your own chemical make-up or the chemical elements in your prescription medication. If you are taking other medications, always ask your doctor or pharmacist if there are any contra-indications relating to taking the two together.

One of the other things that I have to mention is that we are not allowed to claim that any diet, remedy or therapeutic therapy can cure you of anything. Please consider that said.

Echinacea acts as an immune stimulant that mobilises our defence system by activating and stimulating the release of white blood cells (leukocytes) which fight infection. The function of our T-cells is enhanced and there is an increase in the number of macrophages, the cells that consume and destroy foreign bodies such as bacteria.

One of the plant’s components is Echinacin, which promotes the growth of new tissue, activating fibroblasts, which are the cells that are responsible for encouraging wound healing.

Echinacea can be taken when an infection begins and it can reduce the symptoms and speed recovery by enhancing the immune system’s own abilities. It can also be taken over a longer period to increase the body’s resistance to infection and I usually recommend that a person start taking 15 drops once a day in the middle of October through to the middle of March if they are prone to colds. Children can take 7 drops of the herb for the same time span if they are under 12 years old.

If you start a cold or the flu you can take 15 drops, two or three times a day in a little water and children can take 7 drops two or three times a day. It is recommended that you do not stay at this dosage for longer than a couple of months but the usual time is the duration of the infection plus a week, then reduce down to the long term daily dose.

You will find that there are a number of products available that contain Echinacea and two of the most effective, in my book, are the toothpaste which helps prevent bacterial build-up in the form of plaque and skin cream which works well on dry and infected skin.

You can buy Echinacea tea in health food shops and with the addition of a slice of fresh lemon and a teaspoon of honey this can be very soothing in the early stages of a cold and also may help you reduce the symptoms.

Echinacea can also be used for pets but there are specific guidelines that need to be followed.

N.B Herbal remedies do not always work well with prescribed medications as their actions can dilute the effectiveness of treatment such as for cancer, or can intensify which may result in side effects.  Always check with your doctor or a qualified herbalist before taking any herbal medicine with prescribed drugs or over the counter pain-killers or medication.

The previous posts on this subject.

Look forward to your feedback thanks for dropping by.  Sally