St Johns wort

Hypericum perforatum

Topical treatment for nerve pain

Topical applications of St. John's wort have historically been used to treat nerve pain of various kinds, but especially the pain of sciatica. This traditional use is supported by laboratory tests that demonstrate both anti-inflammatory and painkilling properties. 0 DOSUiKRub the infused oil of St. John's wort flowers into the affected part, 2 to 3 times per day. For instructions on how to make infused oils, see page 195. Alternatively, buy a commercial product.

Cautions

• Arnica and comfrey should not be taken internally (except in their very dilute homoeopathic forms), and should not be applied to broken skin or near the eyes. Avoid using comfrey for more than 10 days at a time.

• Topical applications of any herb can sometimes cause reactions, such as dermatitis or itching and burning sensations, and ideally a patch test should be performed at least 24 hours prior to use; discontinue if a reaction develops. Take particular care with arnica if you are allergic to the Asteraceae (for example, daisies, chrysanthemum, echinacea) or Lauraceae families of plants (for example, sassafras, avocado, camphor laurel).

• Cramp bark berries are poisonous and should not be ingested.

• Do not take white willow bark if you are allergic to salicylates (including aspirin). If you are taking antiplatelet or anticoagulant medication, or if you suffer from a blood disorder, only take it under professional supervision.

• Devil's claw may occasionally cause digestive problems, such as diarrhea, and should not be used by people with pre-existing gastrointestinal complaints, such as ulcers, gall stones or diarrhea, except under professional advice.

• Do not take devil's claw if you are taking warfarin or antiarrhythmic drugs, except

The actions you take immediately after a soft tissue injury have a direct influence on how quickly the problem heals.

■ Reduce blood flow and slow both swelling and bleeding by resting the injured part as quickly as you can.

■ \ppl> an ice pack to the injured area to reduce inflammation, pain and lissue damage, but always make sure you protect your skin from ice burn by placing a wet towel or cloth beneath the ice and your skin.

■ \pply a firm, wide bandage, known as a compression bandage, over the injured area to help reduce bleeding and swelling.

■ Raise Ihe injured part so it is higher than the heart, further reducing blood flow to the area.

■ Consult your physiotherapist or doctor as soon as possible, because many soft tissue injuries require professional treatment.

under professional advice. Stop taking devil's claw at least 2 weeks before undergoing surgery.

• Devil's claw does not appear to be effective for back pain that radiates down the legs, a symptom that may indicate nerve involvement. It should be investigated by a healthcare professional.

• With the exception of topical applications of St. John's wort and witch hazel, do not use any of these herbs if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, except under the advice of a healthcare professional.

Arthritis and gout

Don't lei the stiffness, debilitating pain and inflammation of arthritis cramp your style. Try some herbal remedies.

The rhizomes of the leafy ginger plant are harvested at least a year after planting.

Continue reading here: Morse chestnut

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