Herbs have been used for thousands of years to treat ailments and flavour foods. They are the oldest form of medicine that has stood the test of time. We can now analyse each herb to understand fully the medicinal and nutritional properties. Western mainstream medicine has dismissed all herbal usage during pregnancy and lactation. That is a very difficult objective as we use herbs to improve our cooking. We utilise a diverse range of herbs from around the world to replicate the beautiful foods enjoyed by many cultures.
Each herb has a unique action, for example; Chamomile is a relaxant, having a calming and soothing effect. It is loaded with nutrition; iodine, calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron, zinc and manganese. The humble Chamomile is such a highly regarded herb being very easy to grow in your backyard or in a pot on you kitchen table. Chamomile will soothe morning sickness and topically it can be used on nappy rash, cracked nipples or mastitis. I used diluted Chamomile tea in my boys’ baby bottles soothing their restlessness. It was helpful in increasing their hydration with the added bonus of the nutritional content, in perfect ratios, just how nature intended.
This herb is useful for treating constipation in pregnancy. It aids indigestion, fluid retention, hypertension and muscular rheumatism. The vitamins; A, B, C, C, minerals; potassium, iron, copper, calcium, sodium make it a good brew. The bitterness of this herb makes it a good liver and digestive system tonic. Dandelion tea is a great coffee replacement because it has a bitter flavour, like coffee. I remember being in cafe’s loving the smell of coffee but could not physically drink it during my pregnancies.
This herb has a very distinct taste, either you love it or hate it. For those who suffer with poor circulation, nausea, flatulence, cramping it is helpful. For babies’ who experience colic this may help too. Ginger stimulates peripheral circulation, it is a calming and heating herb also known for its ability to reduce spasms. The vitamins; A, B complex, minerals; calcium, iron, phosphorus, sodium, potassium and magnesium add to its’ usefulness.
Fenugreek is a wonder herb for mums who want to breastfeed and are finding it hard to produce enough milk for baby. Studies have found this herb can increase milk supply within one to two days of starting a supplementation. One word of warning, the smell, yes your body odour may smell anything from maple syrup to a curry. Nutritionally, the vitamins; A, C, B1, B2, B3 and minerals; calcium, phosphorus and iron is a good dose of nutrition by nature.
My second baby certainly needed me to produce more milk, unfortunately I didn’t have this information at that time and I was suffering from super-mum-syndrome. I reluctantly supplemented with formula but continued breasting till he was 13 months to support his immune system.
I love this herb, it has a few very important actions. One, it facilitates parturition (prepares vagina for labour in 3rd trimester only) two, it is helpful if you experience leucorrhoea (vaginal infection) and three, aids diarrhoea. The vitamins are A, B, C, E, minerals being iron manganese, potassium, zinc, copper, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus. Raspberry Leaf has an astringent action which produces a barrier on the mucus or exposed surfaces of the vagina.
Shatavari will aid breast milk production and increase stamina for the busy, exhausted mum. It has an impressive list of the vitamins; A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, Folate, C, E, K and minerals; iron, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, zinc and selenium. I took Shatavari several years ago and noticed how it improved my training regime significantly. Running up hills was achievable with my new found strength. I felt it really boosted my testosterone levels for action and energy. This herb has sometimes been nicknamed the ‘100 husbands-wives’ herb as it is well known for increasing libido for both men and women.
HERBAL MEDICINE SELECTION
All herbal teas and herbs you use in your cooking are low dosage and safe. If you have any specific allergies or are taking other medications seek a health professional guidance, Herbalist or Naturopath. With both herbal supplementation and herbal liquid formula it is recommended you also seek advice before taking as these have higher dosages of each herb. If you need guidance, Alison Simpson, naturopath, is available for appointments at Peregian Beach.