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David Hoffmann, F.N.I.M.H., A.H.G, has been a clinical medical herbalist since 1979. A Fellow of Britain’s National Institute of Medical Herbalists, he is one of the founding members of the American Herbalists Guild and the author of 17 books, including Medical Herbalism, The Complete Illustrated Holistic Herbal, and The Herbal Handbook. He teaches herbal medicine throughout the English-speaking world and lives in California.
"Herbal medicine can be as simple as brewing a pot of tea. However, knowing which herbs to use and how to use them requires experience, which Hoffmann amply provides. [This book] gives authoritative answers to most of the commonly asked questions about when and how to use herbs medicinally."
"Unlike most herbals which summarize information, [this book] takes the space to clearly explain what goes on in the body for each condition and how each herb suggested acts, deepening the reader's understanding of how to use and combine herbs medicinally."
“Medical statistics clearly show that Americans are the most heavily medicated people in the world. In spite of this (or possibly because of this), we rank far below many other first world countries in life expectancy, cancer rates, levels of obesity, and many other chronic degenerative diseases. As our population ages many more people are realizing that in order to stay healthy into old age we need to become proactive, improving our diets and lifestyle choices, reducing stress, and becoming more knowledgeable about our health and medicine. One way we can help to prevent disease and enhance wellness is the intelligent use of herbs. Because few Americans grew up using plants as medicine, educating oneself as to their safe and rational use is essential. With so many books, Web sites, and magazines publishing information on herbs and natural health, how does one discern accurate information from the fraudulent? One answer is David Hoffmann’s new book Herbal Prescriptions after 50. The author is one of the Western world’s most respected clinical herbalists, and he offers the reader safe, effective, and relevant treatments for many of the ills that come with increasing age. If you are in your 50s, 60s, or 70s and want to prevent senior moments, menopausal symptoms, prostatic enlargement, and circulatory problems, some of the answers you are seeking can be found within these pages.”
"Aging boomers are guided to 150 herbs for all the body systems with a focus on preventive medicine and longevity. Today's Books put Herbal Prescription after 50 on the 'The A-List.'"
"An important acquisition for any library seeking a serious book on herbal remedies which is age-specific in approach and well reasoned in medical applications."
"[Hoffmann} says that herbal medicine promotes health, can be used together with other treatment plans, and as a 'green medicine' is compatible with the environment, to boot."
"The book is well-written, easy to comprehend and follow, and shows the author's deep understanding of how to deal with the body in a natural way. Highly recommended for your herbal library."
THE DIGESTIVE SYSTEM
Herbs are an unequaled form of medicine for treatment of the digestive system. Many beneficial effects are due to the metabolism and absorption of the whole range of plant constituents; others are brought about by a direct action upon the tissue through contact. Because much digestive illness in our society is due to abuse (overly processed foods, chemical additives, and irritants such as alcohol and carbonated drinks), the direct soothing of demulcents, the healing effect of astringents, and the general toning of bitters can do much to reverse this damage.
It has been estimated that gastrointestinal distress in one form or another affects some 200,000 Americans daily severely enough to keep them from work. This highlights the importance of knowing the difference between an innocuous upset and a serious one. Here are types of digestive discomfort that are likely to be innocuous:
• Reflux or heartburn, caused by eating or drinking too much or eating foods that “disagree” with the person.
• Excess stomach gas, the most common cause of discomfort, which can cause feelings of bloatedness, discomfort, mild pain, and social embarrassment.
• Indigestion, a very vague term used to describe almost any stomach discomfort. Symptoms include gas, belching and flatulence, a feeling of distention in the stomach, and minor pain.
• Lactose intolerance, caused by a deficiency of lactase, an enzyme that digests lactose, a dietary sugar. If a milk product is consumed, the undigested lactose causes distention, gas, nausea, diarrhea, and cramps.
• Stomach flu symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and cramps.
• Drug reactions. Many drugs interact with gastric acid, sometimes causing cramps, severe diarrhea, heartburn, or indigestion. Antibiotics and antiinflammatory drugs are the most common causes. Aspirin can cause heartburn, indigestion, stomach irritation, ulcers, and internal bleeding.
• Irritable bowel syndrome. Symptoms include “butterflies” in the stomach, diarrhea or constipation, cramps, nausea, indigestion, and gas.
If these generally benign signs occur at least two to four times a month, if there is no obvious cause, or if they are extremely painful or distressing, a more serious condition may be present. Discomfort in the abdomen may be caused by any of several conditions such as:
Peptic ulcers, a gnawing, burning pain that may feel like hunger pangs but that generally comes one to two hours after eating or when the stomach is empty.
Diverticulitis. Symptoms include fever and a dull, steady pain on the lower left side of the stomach that worsens when you move around.
Gallstones. The first symptom is often a tightening just below your ribs. Extreme pain usually occurs in waves on the right side of your upper abdomen, extending all the way around to the middle of the back and possibly up to the right shoulder blade.
Kidney problems, such as kidney stones, can cause excruciating waves of pain in the middle of the back on either side, at the point where the ribs join the spine.
The following is the herbal prescription for peptic ulcers.
Ulcerative conditions of the stomach, duodenum, and esophagus are very common in our society; hence nonprescription symptomatic relief medicines are major moneymakers for the pharmaceutical industry. Drug treatment is based primarily upon reduction of the corrosive impact of stomach acid on the mucosal lining. A range of plants are available that appear to work in a broader way to facilitate a reversal of the particular syndrome.
Peptic ulcers usually have a chronic, recurrent course, with a variable symptom picture. In fact, only about half of all ulcer patients present the characteristic picture of burning or aching pain, or a distress described as soreness, an empty feeling, or “hunger pains.” Epigastric pain is relieved by antacids or milk. The typical picture in duodenal ulcers is that of hunger pains, whereas pain in gastric ulcers may be brought on by eating.
The skilled application of plants with demulcent, antacid, astringent, and vulnerary actions can bring about a rapid and complete healing of any ulceration. Herbs such as comfrey, marshmallow, meadowsweet, calendula, chamomile, and goldenseal are examples of remedies that may be used.
Successful herbal therapy in the treatment of peptic ulceration is a two-stage process.
1. To reduce inflammation and initiate healing using demulcents and vulneraries:
• comfrey root 2 parts
• marshmallow root 1 part
• chamomile 1 part
As tincture: take 1 tsp (5 ml) of this mixture 3 times a day.
As dried herb: infuse 2–3 tsp to a cup and drink 3 times a day.
Infusion of the fresh or dried herbs may be drunk often to ease symptoms.
Balm or chamomile infusion drunk on an empty stomach will reduce inflammation and help reverse the ulcerative process.
2. To tone and complete healing:
• goldenseal 1 part
• comfrey root 2 parts
• chamomile 2 parts
As tincture: take 1 tsp (5 ml) of this mixture 3 times a day.
CAUTION: If symptoms have not subsided within a week, seek skilled diagnosis.
Dietary factors are fundamentally involved in both the causation and treatment of peptic ulceration. In some cases ulceration may be due to a specific food allergy, but the condition will always be aggravated by exposure to irritants. Pepper, coffee, and anything that you experience as a problem should be removed from your diet. Among nondietary factors, alcohol and tobacco are especially implicated. Avoidance of aspirin and other nonsteroidal antiinflammatories is essential. Increasing fiber in the diet has been shown to reduce the rate of recurrence; however, a bland diet is recommended in the early stages of treatment to avoid physical irritation. Rest and reevaluation of a lifestyle that may be causing stress is important. An individually designed stress management program should be a priority.
Recommended supplements to support the herbal work include:
• vitamin A: 20,000 IU 3 times a day
• vitamin C: 500 mg 3 times a day
(take with food to avoid irritation of the ulcer)
• vitamin E: 100 IU 3 times a day
• zinc: 20 mg daily