by NADEEM BADSHAH
ANCIENT HERBS CAN BE HEALTHY, SAY EXPERTS
ANCIENT herbs have been hailed as the new natural way to treat conditions like stress.
Spices like turmeric, used in ayurvedic medicine which was invented in India, are being recommended by experts in Britain for some health problems.
Extracts of the Karela plant are also used by Asians with diabetes to reduce their blood sugar levels. The South Asian Health Foundation (SAHF) is holding a conference on diabetes in London on March 13.
Dr Mahendra Patel, from the SAHF, called on patients to be cautious when buying plant-based remedies online and from south Asia due to safety fears.
He said natural treatments can work alongside using traditional medicine.
Dr Patel told Eastern Eye: “Herbs can be a source of vitamins and extracts for nutritional balance and food supplements but it is important to seek professional advice first.
“Many believe in taking herbal medicines. If used appropriately and sensibly and it works for them, there is no reason to stop unless advised by your doctor or pharmacist.
“As with conventional medicines, herbal medicines can be harmful if not used correctly.
“It is therefore always important to consult your doctor or pharmacist first before taking herbal medicines, especially if you’re taking other medicines.
“They may reduce or increase the effects of the medicine, as well as potential side-effects.”
Some herbal medicines are not regulated in the UK by the Medicines & Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency watchdog.
Dr Patel added: “Remedies especially prepared for individuals don’t need a licence and those manufactured outside the UK may not be subject to regulation.
“Many obtain supplies from India and Pakistan through various sources and these are known to contain toxic chemicals, impurities and even metals, including mercury, which can be seriously harmful to the body.
“You must also be careful when buying online or from untrusted suppliers, as often they may supply fake or substandard and contaminated products.
“Evidence for the effectiveness of herbal medicines is generally very limited. Although some people find them helpful, in many cases their use tends to be based on traditional use rather than scientific research.”
Pharmaceuticals science journal has reported that a number of clinical trials have shown that taking adaptogens – stress-beating plant extracts – can improve concentration and endurance when a person becomes stressed.
Another supporter of alternative medicine is the Prince of Wales, who has made speeches at the World Health Assembly and British Medical Association on the potential benefits.
Dr Charlotte Bech is the managing director of Maharishi Ayurveda in Lancashire.
She told Eastern Eye: “According to Ayurvedic principles and practice, it is more ideal for optimal health and well-being for women to use natural approaches to contraception, without chemicals or hormones.
“Shatavari is a vegetable, a type of asparagus, grown in India. Ayurveda has traditionally included this vegetable in the diet to balance hormones for women.
“The Shatavari vegetable has been used for thousands of years to yield beneficial results for women.
“Dried and ground Shatavari vegetable can be prepared by boiling with milk and sugar.”
NHS guidelines say some adaptogens may not be suitable for people with certain conditions so it is always best to consult your GP first.