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



The Medicine Woman’s Treasure Chest – Cranberries more than just sauce for the Turkey

Did you really think you would get away without any health posts this week….sorry!!!

Of course we are not allowed to say that any food or plant can cure anything but we can say that they may have therapeutic properties.  Since this is Christmas week it is likely that many of you will be reaching for either fresh cranberries to make a sauce to go with the turkey or will be buying a jar.  If possible do go the natural route and make your own.


Cranberries have a documented medicinal history and were used by the Native American Indians as a nutritious addition to their diet normally sweetened with honey as of course the berries are very tart. The Indians also used the berries in poultices for wounds as they recognised the antibacterial and antibiotic effect of the fruit even if they could not scientifically prove these properties. Colonists, who had been introduced to the berry, exported it home to England at the beginning of the 18th century.

Modern research into the therapeutic properties of the cranberry is not one sided and sometimes I think that there is a commercial element to some of the findings and disputed findings.  However, I have used cranberries for over 20 years and certainly have found that there is certainly some truth to its health properties.

Most of us, before the 80’s, restricted cranberries in our diet to Christmas and the odd time we had turkey at other times in the year. Then came the very welcome news that for those of us, who suffered from attacks of bacterial cystitis, drinking the juice of these tart little red berries could bring relief. In fact drinking cranberry (although disputed in some scientific areas) can help prevent attacks of this painful condition. Cranberries contain a unique component in which is technically termed High molecular weight non-dialysable material or NDM for short. NDM prevents bacteria from clumping and damaging soft tissue in various parts of the body including the urinary tract.  It is interesting that most over the counter cystitis treatments contain cranberry combined with alkaline elements to reduce the build-up of acid.

Emerging evidence shows that this fruit is a lot more versatile than we thought and there are now several very good reasons to include cranberries on a daily basis in your diet.
Cranberry the antioxidant

A free radical is a molecule. A normal molecule has an even number of electrons and is considered stable. Free radicals on the other hand have an uneven number of electrons and are unstable. They are desperate to be like the normal molecules so they have to steal from them to get another electron. This of course means that they have created another free radical. More and more cells become damaged and leave the body open to many diseases – from cardiovascular to cancer.

The free-radicals cause cells to oxidise and die. The major damage is done to our DNA, which results in mutations and death of the cells. Our body does produce anti-oxidants and enzymes that can repair this damage if we eat healthily. However, as we get older so do our cells and it becomes harder to repair them and they die. This is ageing! In our brains when cells are damaged beyond repair you are susceptible to loss of co-ordination and memory and in extreme cases dementia.

To prevent this we need a diet that is very high in anti-oxidants, which work through the body immobilising free radicals and preventing damage. Cranberries contain one of the highest levels of anti-oxidants of most fruit and vegetables and that is why drinking at least one glass per day can provide you with enough of these defensive players to protect your brain.

Artery health

In the same way, flavonoids in Cranberries function as very potent antioxidants and may reduce the risk of atherosclerosis.

Atherosclerosis is when the arteries become clogged and narrowed restricting blood flow to the heart. The most common cause is a build-up of LDL (Low-Density lipoproteins or lousy cholesterol) oxidising and causing plaque to cling to the walls of the arteries narrowing and hardening them. This can lead to angina, blood clots and heart attacks.
Cranberries contain the flavonoids and also polyphenol compounds that have been shown to help prevent the LDL from oxidising and therefore forming the dangerous plaque that leads to arterial disease.

Dental health – another good reason to drink cranberry juice.

When I left secretarial college, intent on a career on the stage, I took a job as a dental receptionist, which evolved, into my training as a dental nurse.

Canned drinks were becoming all the rage in the 60’s and I saw first-hand the corrosive damage that these sugary concoctions could inflict on tooth enamel. There was not the kind of education, products or electric toothbrushes in those days, but if there had been more of one type of drink around in those days we would have seen a lot less decay.
One would think that drinking cranberry juice with its natural sugars would have a harmful effect on the teeth but in fact the reverse is true. Cranberries actually help prevent dental problems.

A study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association reported that there is a unique component in cranberry juice, which is technically termed High molecular weight non-dialysable material or NDM for short. Hundreds of different types of bacteria in the mouth clump together and attach themselves to the teeth and gums and over time hardens causing cavities and gum disease. This film on the teeth becomes resistant to saliva, which would normally remove bacteria from the mouth and also our normal oral hygiene routines such as brushing. One of the most resistant bacteria in the mouth is Streptococcus and in tests indications showed that Cranberry mouthwash reduced the presence of this in the mouth significantly.

NDM in cranberries has the power to prevent this bacteria build-up in the first place having a long-term effect on your dental health.

Other fruits were tested including Blueberries which are part of the same family as cranberries but the NDM was in much weaker concentrations in these and all other fruits tested.

My advice however is to steer clear of commercially produced juices which are low on cranberries and high on sugars.. I actually use concentrated cranberry which is quite expensive but I only use a teaspoon in a glass of water – it does not taste great but you soon get used to the taste.

Cranberry juice and peptic ulcers

Helicobacter Pylori (H.Pylori) bacteria can have a painful and devastating impact on the health of your stomach and also its ability to process the food that you eat.

A peptic ulcer is a sore on the lining of the stomach or duodenum, which is the beginning of the small intestine. They are quite common and one of the main causes is bacterial infection and the chief culprit is H.Pylori. It is not certain how people contract H.Pylori but it is believed that 20% of people under 40 and half of the population over 60 are infected with it.

H.Pylori weakens the protective mucous coating of the stomach and duodenum, which allows acid to get through to the sensitive lining beneath. Both the acid and the bacteria irritate the lining causing a sore or ulcer. H.Pylori is able to survive in stomach acid because it secretes enzymes that neutralise the acid. Once in the safety of the mucous lining the bacteria’s spiral shape allows it to burrow into the lining.

H.Pylori has also been associated with stomach cancer, acid reflux and gastritis. Finding a natural way to prevent H.Pylori from completing its mission is therefore a very prime research topic.

As in dental health and in the urinary tract, the NDM prevents the H.Pylori from attaching itself to the lining of the stomach therefore preventing an ulcer developing.

Other benefits of cranberries

Emerging research is indicating that the benefits of cranberries are even more far reaching with research into its anti-viral properties in the treatment of infections such as herpes and the prevention of kidney infections and kidney stones. What is extremely interesting is the cranberries ability to inhibit the growth of common food related pathogens including Listeria and E.Coli 0157:H7. This antibiotic effect of cranberries was recognised centuries ago by the American Indians and it is a pity that we are only just catching up with these enlightened people.

How to eat cranberries
By far the best way to get your daily fix of cranberries is fresh, made into a salsa or mixed with other fruit and juiced.

The recommended ration of cranberry unsweetened juice is two 10 oz. glasses per day. One in the morning and one in the evening it takes two hours for the antibacterial properties to be effective and they then last approximately twelve hours.  You can make your own from unsweetened concentrate and 8 oz of water or per the instructions.

Here is a recipe for homemade cranberry sauce to make your turkey zing..

©sallycronin Just Food For Health 2007

Image Cranberries –

Thanks for dropping by.. Sally