As we approach Christmas after a mild November many people will look to herbal remedies to combat the effects of winter. Three popular herbs are Echinacea, Garlic and Ginseng.
Firstly Echinacea, which is available in capsules or as a tincture, is useful against general infections; it improves the immune system and also helps combat gingivitis (gum disease). Many native Americans have taken it through the centuries. It is generally regarded as safe however interactions may occur with steroids and other immunosuppressant drugs. Echinacea should not be taken for more than four weeks without a break of similar duration.
Secondly the ancient Egyptians and the Chinese have used garlic for its antibacterial properties for centuries. One capsule a day or taken in the diet can help prevent arteriosclerosis, high cholesterol, infections, high blood pressure and the flu.
Thirdly Ginseng is a stimulant. In China and Korea it has been taken as a tonic and stimulant for 2000 years. High doses of Ginseng should be avoided if you have high blood pressure, also caffeine aids its effects, which may lead to over stimulation, and stomach upsets.
Pregnant and breast feeding women and people taking any other medication should always be careful what medicines and herbal remedies they take and should consult a pharmacist or doctor before taking them.
John Duffy MPSI Claregalway Pharmacy (091-799754).