Treating children with herbal medicine


How to get herbs into children!

Herbal medicine is ideal for treating children’s health problems.  I will be writing a few articles on herbs for children but I thought I better start with how to get herbs into children.

When to get professional help…

There are some situations when it is essential to get professional treatment for your child.  These include:

  • If your child/baby becomes listless and very disinterested in life.
  • If your child/baby becomes dehydrated – monitor fluid intake/fluid loss in diarrhoea, vomiting and urine.
  • If your baby or child runs a temperature over 39 degrees centigrade.

Getting herbs into children….

Getting your child to take any form of medicine can be a struggle and herbal medicine is not an exception.  The earlier you start giving herbs to children the better – before they are conditioned to say ‘yuk – it tastes horrible’.

  • Teas and tinctures may be mixed with honey or diluted apple juice, although it is better to give them unsweetened especially to young children. Often doses are small enough they can be added unnoticed to food.
  • Tablets can be crushed and added to food or mixed with honey.
  • A bath with a pot of herbal tea added can be an easy way to give herbs to babies or young children – especially for itchiness or over-tiredness and sleep problems.
  • If you are breast feeding you can simply take the adult dose of the appropriate herb for your child and baby will get the right proportion within your breast milk.


  • Children under 1yr should have 1/10th of the adult dosage, or if the mother is breast feeding she can take the standard adult dose.
  • Between 1-6yrs give 1/3rd of the adult dose.
  • Between 6-12yrs give half the adult dose.
  • Use essential oils on children under 4yrs only when necessary and in a very dilute form. 1-2 drops of essential oil at the most to each teaspoon of sweet almond oil.  From 6-12 yrs use half the adult dose.  Essential oils are for external use only.

Q How can burger and chips count towards my five-a-day?

A  When they are chickpea and sweetcorn burgers served with sweet potato wedges!

A patient was arguing that it is really difficult to eat five portions of fruit and veg a day and keep her fussy family happy.  Later that day I remembered seeing a chickpea and sweetcorn burger recipe on the BBC show ‘Eat well for less’.

Tonight I made these vegan burgers along with home-made sweet potato wedges for my family – delicious!  The kids loved them (with a bit of ketchup on) and the whole meal was so easy to make.

Here is the link to the burger recipe:

I made six small burgers rather than four large ones and fried them for a few minutes in a tiny bit of olive oil in batches.  To make sweet potato wedges simply peel two large sweet potatoes, then cut into thick wedges.  Pre-heat the oven and baking tray to 180 degrees (fan oven).  Put a tiny drop of oil on the tray and spread it around (too much oil and the chips will be soggy).  Add the wedges and bake for 30 minutes.

This meal is high in fibre and low in fat meaning it will fill you up and you won’t pile on the pounds.  The high fibre content will help to detoxify your body, binding to toxins and cholesterol in the gut and drawing them out of your body.  Sweet potato is rich in beta-carotene which the body converts into the powerful antioxidant Vitamin A.  Chickpeas contain protein for building and repair work within the body.  Serve the meal with two veg and you’ve got five of your five-a-day in one sitting!

I served the chips and burgers with veg that my kids like, but you could put the burgers in a bun or serve them with salad.

Is apple cider vinegar really good for us?

The Times and the recent BBC Two series ‘Trust me I’m a doctor’ got together to look at the health claims made about apple cider vinegar. They reported their findings in the Times earlier this week.

They concluded having diluted apple cider vinegar before food helps to reduce the blood sugar spike caused by carbohydrates.  Spikes in blood sugar from sugary foods or refined carbohydrates like bagels and white bread cause spikes in insulin which promote inflammation in the body and thereby contribute to cardiovascular disease, joint aches and pains, and the development of chronic diseases such as diabetes and cancer as well as weight gain.  Foods which reduce blood sugar spikes are a very good thing!

They also carried out a small study with three groups of participants: one group had diluted apple cider vinegar before each meal, one group had diluted malt vinegar before each meal and one group had coloured water before each meal.  They found that ‘in the apple cider vinegar group there was a 13% reduction in total cholesterol, with a particularly big reduction in triglyerides (a form of fat).’  This kind of improvement in cholesterol may significantly reduce your chances of having a heart attack.

To me these small studies show that even simple changes to diet and lifestyle can have a big impact on improving health and the more little steps you are willing to take the bigger the health benefits, and it doesn’t always have to mean never having the things you love!

If you are worried about diabetes, your cholesterol level or cardiovascular disease why not come for a one to one nutrition consultation and see what changes you could make?  Call for a chat to find out more.

Take advantage of one hour nutrition consultations for just £25!
This offer is only available until Friday 15th September for new clients at my Enfield Chase clinic.
Book your appointment today on 07949463288 or email:

Read The Times article ‘Apple cider vinegar: the new superfood is put to the test

I want to lose weight but…

….keep putting off my ‘diet start date’
….feel overwhelmed by all the different diet advice out there
…when I get tired I reach for sugary snackswoman eating apple

Here are a few simple tips to help you get on track:

  • Start making small changes today to improve your diet rather than having a fixed diet start date in the future.
  • Cut out sugary snacks: that’s cakes, biscuits and pastries.  Don’t buy them and then they won’t be in your home for you to eat.  It is very difficult to resist eating a sweet snack when you are tired and at home.  If it’s not in the house to eat, you simply can’t have it!
  • Tell friends and family that you don’t want to eat sugary foods and ask them not to give them to you. If you do get given food you don’t want, give it away immediately!
  • Cut back on alcohol. Limit alcohol to one or two nights a week and reduce the amount you are drinking.  Always start with a large glass of water to slow your alcohol consumption down.  Pour smaller glasses.  Seek out your non-drinking mates and spend more time with them!  Getting your drinking mates on board – it will do them good to cut back.  Alcohol not only makes you pile on the pounds but it is an anti-nutrient that accelerates aging and puts a strain on your whole body.  It stops you sleeping well and lowers your energy levels.
  • Stop eating white bread, rolls and bagels. They are very low in nutrients, they are very low in fibre, they will cause your blood sugar to spike, stimulate your appetite later in the day, and cause weight gain.  Replace with wholegrain alternatives.
  • Reduce the amount of bread/rolls that you eat. Make sandwiches with just one slice of bread and have lots more healthy toppings that include protein and veggies.  Have a salad on the side.  Munch on carrot and cucumber sticks.  Put slices of apple on your plate too.
  • Have protein and healthy fats with every meal or snack. Healthy protein sources include: beans and pulses, lean meat, fish, tofu, low fat houmous, and eggs.
  • Healthy fats are found in avocados, unheated olive oil, oily fish, nuts and seeds.
  • Eat more salad, vegetables and fruit. Try to have some veggies with every meal.  At main meals half your plate should be vegetables (excluding potatoes).
  • Snack on apples, pears, bananas and other fruit.
  • Drink plenty of water in between your meals; avoid drinking lots when you are eating as this will compromise your digestion.
  • Look at your main meals are there some simple swaps you could do to bring down the amount of unhealthy fat in your diet?
    – Swap sausages for grilled fish or chicken or vegetarian alternatives
    – Swap roast potatoes for new boiled potatoes or baked sweet potatoes
    – Swap oven chips for home made chunky chips made with sweet or white potato, just put a tiny bit of olive oil on the baking tray.
    – Increase the amount of vegetables at main meals so they take up half your plate.
    – Swap breaded fish and fish ‘products’ for white fish or oily fish grilled or baked in the oven.
    – Reduce your portion size of pasta or noodles and add extra salad or vegetables to your plate.
    – Try a new healthy recipe each week so you don’t get bored.

And finally, try to increase the amount you move and exercise each day.  As well as boosting weight loss exercise will improve your mood, reduce aches and pains, give you energy and help you to sleep well.  It doesn’t matter what you do as long as you do something!  Instead of popping round to a friend’s for tea, meet up for a walk in the park.  Got weights at home gathering dust?  Get them out and use them when you are watching your favourite soap or the news.  Turn on Youtube and do a 10 or 15 minute workout before your shower in the morning or before picking up the kids from school.  Every 10 minutes you do makes a difference.

Take advantage of one hour nutrition consultations for just £25!
This offer is only available until Friday 15th September*  
Book your appointment today on 07949463288 or email:
*New clients at my Enfield Chase clinic.  Normal price £45.

Candida and Thrush – Causes and Treatment

Everybody has some of the yeast Candida albicans living in their digestive tract, low levels are normal and do not cause any problems.  However, when Candida overgrows it can cause a range of nasty symptoms including wind and bloating, vaginal thrush and itchy bottom.  If it becomes severe it can cause more systemic (body-wide) symptoms such as low energy, chronic fatigue, allergies, low mood and irritability, intestinal cramps and chemical sensitivities.  Thrush can also develop in the mouth – this is most common in babies and young children and those with very poor immune function.

What causes candida to overgrow?

  • Taking antibiotics because they wipe out the friendly gut bacteria which normally keep candida in check.
  • A high sugar, high refined carbohydrate diet (refined carbohydrates include white bread, white rice, croissants, bagels, pastries, etc.) Sugar is candida’s favourite food. Refined carbohydrates break down into sugar very quickly in the digestive tract.
  • Drinking alcohol – because it is full of sugar and also compromises liver function.
  • High oestrogen levels – some women find thrush tends to flare up every month before their periods when their oestrogen levels are peaking.
  • Poor digestive function: lack of digestive enzymes or low stomach acid lead to incomplete breakdown and digestion of food leaving more around to feed candida and other harmful gut bacteria.
  • Lowered immune function.

How can you treat Candida overgrowth and prevent it happening in the first place?

  • If you have to take antibiotics, take a course of probiotic capsules at the same time and continue for a week or two after you finish the antibiotics. (While you are on antibiotics it is important to take your probiotics at least three hours away from the antibiotics or they will be quickly killed in the gut).
  • Cut out all sugary foods and refined carbohydrates. This is hard at first, but does get easier the longer you do it for.  Sugar is very addictive!  Once you have gone a week or two without it your cravings will dramatically lessen.  You are highly likely to lose weight if you are overweight when you cut out these foods which may be another nice positive outcome!
  • Cut out fruit juices and dried fruit as these are very concentrated sources of sugar.
  • Cut out alcohol, especially wine and beer. If you have to drink stick to good quality clear spirits like gin or vodka and mix with sparkling water and fresh lemon or lime.
  • Include probiotic foods like kefir (fermented milk drink) or kimchi (a Korean side dish made with vegetables) or sauerkraut in your diet daily if possible as these foods will replenish and feed the friendly bacteria in your gut.kefir pic
  • Improve your digestion by eating three (or four) meals a day and not snacking. This will give your digestive system a chance to rest and heal in between meals.
  • Make sure you eating lots of lightly cooked and raw vegetables so that you get the vitamins and minerals you need to build a strong immune system and digestive system. Aim for 6 or more portions daily.
  • Garlic will kill candida, try to eat it every day. A traditional remedy for thrush is to peel a garlic clove, thread it with a piece of cotton and insert it into the vagina over night.  Use the cotton thread to pull it out in the morning.
  • Tinctures of Golden seal, Barberry bark or Oregan grape are all effective at killing off candida (and other unfriendly bacteria) in the gut. Take 10 drops of the tincture of one of these herbs in water before food three times daily.  Do not take for more than six weeks continuously. (Note: these herbs are too strong for children unless recommended to you by a trained herbalist).
  • For vaginal thrush the probiotic Saccharomyces boulardii is particularly good at killing candida, take one capsule daily with a cold drink 10 minutes before breakfast each day for a few weeks.

Probiotic foods are widely available in the bigger supermarkets;  I sell the probiotic Saccharomyces boulardii and the herbal tinctures listed above but you can also find them on the internet and in better health shops.

Food allergy vs. food intolerance – what is the difference?

Food allergy, food intolerance or healthy meal?

Food allergy, food intolerance or healthy meal?

Food allergies and intolerances are talked about a lot, but are you clear about what these terms really mean?  When someone has a food allergy when they eat even a tiny amount of that food their body produces antibodies and mounts an immune response.  This could manifest itself as a life threatening anaphylactic reaction needing immediate hospital treatment or as eczema, rashes, diarrhoea and tummy pain or other symptoms.  Food allergies can be accurately diagnosed via a blood test available on the NHS.

In contrast, a food intolerance does not trigger the production of specific antibodies and is not diagnosable via a blood test.  Some foods are prone to irritating the digestive system in some people.  Common examples include lactose (the sugar found in milk) or the proteins in cow’s milk and cheese, gluten (the protein found in wheat, rye and barley) or certain additives.  These foods disturb the balance of friendly bacteria in the gut leading to an overgrowth of unfriendly bacteria and lead to the damage of the cells lining the digestive system through which food is absorbed – this situation is often referred to as ‘leaky gut’.  This leads to inappropriate larger food particles and bacteria or toxins being absorbed from the digestive system into the blood stream where they promote an inflammatory response which may manifest itself in different ways in different people, e.g. joint pain, psoriasis, eczema, other skin problems, asthma, migraines or as digestive symptoms such as wind, bloating, diarrhoea or constipation.

With food intolerances sometimes a person can tolerate small amounts of the offending food, but large quantities cause problems.  For example, someone may be fine having toast for breakfast but going out for garlic bread followed by pizza (lots of wheat in one meal) may leave them feeling bloated and constipated.  Improving your gut health almost always improves overall health because your gut and your immune system are so closely linked.  If you suspect you or someone in your family is suffering with a food allergy or food intolerance feel free to call me to arrange a free ten minute telephone consultation to discuss whether nutritional therapy or herbal medicine maybe able to help you, or just to get some free advice on how to cut out foods you suspect are causing problems while still maintaining a healthy, balanced diet.

Contact me now on: 07949463288 or

Adult initial appointment £45

Child appointments £15

Herbs for anxiety and sleep problems (and exam stress!)

passion flower herbal medicineWestern herbal medicine has lots of different medicinal plants in it’s medicine chest which may help to ease anxiety and tension, support the nervous system and promote restful sleep.  Two of my favourites are Valerian root and Passion flower.  Both can be taken as tinctures (concentrated liquid extracts in alcohol) or as teas (although Valerian doesn’t taste great) or tablets (follow instructions on packet re. dosage.)

Both herbs work as soon as they are absorbed from the digestive system into the body to start reducing feelings of tension.  As well as relieving feelings of anxiety, Valerian also helps to relax overly tense muscles in the neck and shoulders, and nourishes your nervous system so that if you take it regularly you become more resilient to the stresses of life.  Take 30-40 drops of the tincture in a little water one to three times daily to reduce anxiety.

Passion flower is also great for encouraging a calm and relaxed outlook.  Different herbs suit different people better, so if Valerian isn’t for you, try Passion flower or visa versa.  Passion flower dosages are the same as for Valerian.

Both herbs can be used to improve sleep.  If you are having trouble falling asleep take 5ml of either Valerian or Passion flower tincture half an hour before bed.  If you fall asleep fine but wake in the night and have trouble getting back to sleep take 5ml of one of the tinctures just before you turn out the light.  These herbs won’t knock you out like an orthodox sleeping pill but they will help you to sleep deeper and for longer.  If a noise wakes you in the night, you will still hear it, you will just be able to go back to sleep quicker after being disturbed.

These herbs are safe for teenagers to take if they have an adult body weight and are helpful for supporting them during stressful A level and GCSE exams.

I sell both these tinctures but you can also get them from good health food shops.  Go for a good brand, not Holland and Barrett own label as quality matters.

If you are suffering from more on-going problems with anxiety, mild depression or sleep issues call me now to discuss whether a herbal medicine consultation could help you.

M: 07949463288 or email:

Siberian ginseng and my friend Debbie

shoes-584850_640My friend Debbie was asking what she could take to keep her stamina up during a 100km walk for charity she will be doing this weekend.  Siberian Ginseng instantly came to mind.  Herbs and herbal medicine are not just for illness; ideally they should be used to prevent illness from developing.  Herbal medicines can be used to increase resilience to stress – both physical stresses (like a 100km walk!) and emotional stress; to support your mood if you are feeling low or anxious; and to help you to ward off illness when all around you people are falling sick.

Siberian Ginseng root was traditionally boiled in water and taken by the elderly as a daily tonic to keep them well during the harsh Siberian winters.  This herb has been well researched in Russia and double blind, placebo controlled trials (the gold standard of medical research) have shown it to have a range of health promoting properties.

Indications supported by clinical trials include:

  • To improve mental and physical performance
  • To minimise the effects of stress in those subject to chronic illness or to environmental or occupational stress
  • To improve performance and minimise the effects of stress in athletes
  • Enhancement of immune function
  • Cancer (alongside orthodox treatment to improve immune function and to decrease side effects from orthodox medical treatment)
  • Convalescence after antibiotic therapy
    (S. Mills and K. Bone; 2000)

I have suggested Debbie take Siberian Ginseng tincture, ½ tsp twice daily for the week leading up to her huge walk and for the week afterwards to give her more stamina and help her stay fit and well throughout.  Siberian Ginseng was used by Russian athletes to prepare for the Olympic Games in the late 1970s so she is in good company!

If you would like to find out more about how herbs and nutrition may help you call or email me to arrange a free 10 minute telephone consultation.
M: 07949463288

Fizzy drinks and bone density in kids and teenagers

lemonadeCommercial fizzy drinks are high in phosphorus and high intakes of phosphorus lead to calcium being excreted from the body, reducing bone density.  This is a particularly important issue for teenagers who need more calcium than any other age group because of their rapid growth.  Your bones are formed during your childhood and teenage years and if you don’t build up enough bone matrix then, you will suffer later on with increased risk of osteoporosis, weak bones and fractures.  Teenagers should be strongly encouraged to avoid fizzy drinks, especially the caramel coloured ones like cola which have even more calcium depleting effects than others.

A tasty alternative…

Yesterday my 10 year old daughter made me home-made lemonade.  It was delicious and so simple to make:
300ml cold water
Juice of 1 and ½ lemons
4 heaped teaspoons of Xylittol

Stir well and serve!

Xylittol contains only 40% of the calories of sugar.  It has a very low glycaemic index meaning it doesn’t cause blood sugar highs and lows and it is actually good for your teeth.  It looks like white sugar can be bought in Waitrose and other big supermarkets.

Fresh lemon juice is very rich in vitamin C and has anticancer properties.  However, it is very acidic on the teeth so we did have a little plain water afterwards just to rinse our mouths.

I am running a low cost children’s nutrition and herbal medicine clinic at my Enfield Chase practise.
Children’s appointments just £15*
Call 07949463288 or email to book you or your child an appointment today or to make an enquiry.

*Limited number of low cost child appointments available each week.

Five simple suggestions for children’s tummy bugs

herbal medicine

  • Chamomile tea is antispasmodic to the gut meaning it helps to ease tummy cramps; it has an anti-inflammatory action within the digestive system meaning it helps to calm down soreness and irritation there. It is also relaxing so will help a poorly child to relax and sleep.  It can be taken hot or cold.
  • Slippery elm bark powder mixed with a little water into a paste or stirred into hot drinks or food will be very soothing and help to ease both diarrhoea and constipation. It is very safe so can be taken several times a day.  Combine with a pinch of cinnamon to add flavour; cinnamon is also astringent and anti-bacterial which is helpful for fighting tummy bugs.  Capsules also available.
  • Probiotics – and I don’t mean those yogurts with lots of artificial flavours and sweetners in! Probiotic capsules will repopulate the gut with the friendly bacteria that fights harmful tummy bugs and supports the immune system.  Take an adult capsule and open it into a tub of natural full fat greek yogurt.  The friendly bacteria will multiple in there; when your child is delicate but out of the throws of sickness give your child the yogurt with some ripe chopped banana (with a dash of honey if needed).  If they are not ready for food, open a capsule into a cold drink, stir and give to the child; they don’t have to drink the whole thing a few sips or more will still be helpful.
  • Abdominal massage with a drop of fennel or chamomile essential oil in a teaspoon of olive oil or other base oil can be very soothing. Always work in a clockwise direction around the tummy using gently stroking movements.  The essential oils will be absorbed into the blood stream and exert their relaxing, calming effect on the gut.
  • Finally the golden rule: Lots of fluids! The biggest danger with children is that they can dehydrate very fast leading to dangerously low blood pressure.  Give lots of drinks and try to monitor how much fluid they are losing via loose bowel movements, vomiting, perspiration and urine.  Ideally water with a pinch of salt and sugar to ensure electrolyte balance, and teas like chamomile or fennel, but if they are fussy, sugar free squash is fine.

I’m running a low cost children’s health clinic at my Enfield Practise
Appointments just £15*
Call 07949463288 or email to book or to find out more