Herbal Health Information on Stomach Bloating and Wind

I have seen patients with quite distended and hard abdomens due to bloating. This is often accompanied by wind and considerable pain. It usually follows eating, but people will report that it seems to be any kind of food substance that sets it off.

My own experience of treating people with Bloating is that it is food related and once the digestive tract gets sensitised and aggravated by an original food substance it will react to any food substances after that. Imagine an open wound that is constantly being irritated, it oozes liquid and swells up. Sometimes people have suffered a discomfort after eating, most of their lives, in other cases it may start after a Tummy bug or period of stress.

The lining of the gut is covered with a membrane which is normally intact and across which digested food gets transported into the blood stream to be used around the body.

There are many foods which can aggravate the gut lining causing inflammation and a subsequent decrease in digestive function. This may result in poor digestion of food or poor absorption of food or both.

Although most gut bacteria aid digestion, poorly digested food is a veritable feast for  gut bacteria which feeds on it and causes fermentation in the gut with the production of gas, which fills and extends the gut, until it is expelled.

If you have found that a particular food substance causes bloating, it is essential you cut it out of your diet.

The foods most likely to cause bloating are Wheat and dairy products.

Wheat, because it is a high fibre food and the fibre in wheat is very harsh, dagger shaped and will irritate the lining of the gut, which it is designed to do.

Dairy because it is food for baby cows and humans, especially of Italian and Asian backgrounds, can find it hard to digest as they do not have the proper enzymes to do so.

Wheat is quite easy to eliminate from the diet as it can be substituted with rice and corn products.

Dairy I usually say don’t cut it right out but reduce it. The major problem with both these foods is that we are eating too much of them, for example:-


Wheat cereal with milk tea/coffee


Sandwich and yogurt



Pasta and ice cream or a milk pudding


You can see that the wheat and dairy intake may be three times a day seven days a week. Imagine if you did that with fish or eggs or any other food, your tummy is going to complain.

An example of a reduced wheat and dairy diet would be:-


Rice krispies or Cornflakes or Muesli (Oats have a gentler form of fibre) with cow’s milk or rice milk. nuts/ seeds/ fruit


Baked potato with a filling or salad /fruit


Meat eggs or fish or vegetarian alternative, with vegetables, potatoes or rice

The secret is to vary the foods you are eating so that you do not eat too much of the same foods. Yogurt a couple of times a week and cheese no more than twice a week.

Tea and coffee should be no more than three a day (together not separately)

Drink at least two pints of water a day.

The herbal approach, using tinctures, is in two stages:-

  • Firstly, to protect the gut from the ingested food and improve digestive function.

Marshmallow root is high in mucilage which coats and protects the gut lining. Seen in the Cuckmere herb walk video.

Meadowsweet has anti inflammatory properties to reduce inflammation in the gut.

Fennel and peppermint aid digestion and break down wind produced in the gut so that it is easily expelled. These two herbs are the basis for many baby anti colic mixtures and can be drunk as teas. Fennel can be seen in beach herbal walk video.

I have found it may take a couple of months to calm the inflammation in the gut.

  • secondly to repair and toughen up the gut lining

Any herb that is high in tannin will do this job, such as Agrimony or Centaury. Agrimony can be seen in the Beachy Head video. Centaury can be seen in the Shingle Beach video.

The very best healing herb in the herbal Pharmacopoeia is Marigold.

Marigold, (Calendula officianalis, not any of the ornamental ones) is also anti bacterial, anti viral, anti fungal, anti inflammatory and antispasmodic. It is a growing medicine chest in one very pretty little plant.

The healing process can also take up to two months, but at the end of this time the digestive process should be working well and people can usually start to reduce the amount of tincture they are taking.

If you need more help please do come and see me in clinic, the details of which you can find by clicking the Clinic tab at the top of the page.

If you would prefer to visit me in my clinic, please click here for details or go to the clinic tab at the top of the page.

Linda Bostock

Medical Herbalist, Herbal Health Information

Herbal Health Information on Menopause

What I am about to say about menopause may surprise you:-

It is not an illness!

Rather look on it as a change, just like first starting your periods was a change in the way your body functioned.

I have helped so many women in my clinic get through menopause I feel it is a bit of a specialist area for me.

Having said it is not an illness, I of course know it causes many women serious distress, with many symptoms both physical and emotional.

Most common of the symptoms are hot flushes ranging from a few mild ones a day to 2-3 an hour with face redness and sweating.

Apart from the flushes, symptoms include, poor sleep, digestive problems, weight gain, depression, headaches and more.

My approach is to help people get through the menopause as easily as possible which means getting the body to accept this new way of functioning as normal and to prevent it trying to return to its youthful state which is the major cause of the symptoms.

There is a system in the body called the Endocrine system, consisting of the Thyroid, Adrenal glands and Ovaries or Testes, which are responsible for the production of most of our hormones.

It starts with the Pituitary gland situated just below the brain which controls the secretions from the Thyroid, Adrenal glands and Ovaries/Testes. These organs send messages to the pituitary gland and to each other to give a status update and messages from the pituitary control the output of the hormones produced in these organs.

When the ovaries stop ovulating (producing an egg) each month, the message to the pituitary is one of panic SEND REINFORCEMENTS I can’t manage on my own!

Unfortunately for us the area of the brain which controls the pituitary is right next to the temperature control area and any message which goes up there to stimulate the pituitary into action also stimulates the temperature control area. Hence the hot flushes. Who designed that?

It is completely wrong to try and increase the amount of oestrogen in the body in hopes of stopping the flushes. We need to get the body to accept the new lower hormone levels so that it is not sending panic messages around and about.

There is one herb I have found to help the body adjust to these new levels and that is Dong Quai. Which of course we have not seen on our herb walks as it is a Chinese herb. To help with the flushes I use the traditional herb, Sage, which we have not looked at yet, but we will visit an herb garden and have a look at soon in a video, so keep your eye on the walks section. Sage is not the be all and end all for hot flushes but does help to reduce them. There are other herbs for flushes such as Willow and Zizyphus but these need to be used under the supervision of a practitioner as they are not commonly available over the counter.

I often mix these with a liver herb such as milk thistle, to ensure the liver is metabolising hormones properly and calming herbs such as Passiflora or Motherwort.

St. John’s wort which we looked at in the shingle beach video is also excellent during menopause as a nervous system supporting herb, but remember cannot be taken if you are on any orthodox medicines.

Eat sensibly and cut out Caffeine containing drink and food (sorry, chocolate), drink plenty of water and you are going to hate me for saying this, but many many women report that alcohol sets off flushing horrendously.

Of course if you get stuck qualified Medical Herbalists are around to provide excellent support.

Linda Bostock

Medical  Herbalist

Herbal Health Information

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Yellow Dock (Rumex Crispus)

The root of this is used which contains glycosides, tannins, oxalates and minerals.

A really greedy, voracious weed and one you would shift heaven and earth to remove from your garden, but wow, what fantastic properties it has!

Yellow Dock

For a start, as it is a mineral rich plant, it is nutritious, containing iron and sulphur.

It is a bitter plant which stimulates digestive function, improves bile secretion, and is an alterative, encouraging the normal functioning of the body and a good lymphatic cleanser.

So I use it as a tincture in many mixes especially as a tonic herb and to improve a poor digestion.

It comes in the “never be without it” category on my shelves but needs to be used with respect, otherwise it may cause diarrhoea. In fact if I am putting yellow dock in a patient’s mixture for the first time, I do warn them, they may be sat on the toilet a bit more for the first couple of weeks.

Linda Bostock

Medical Herbalist/Herbal Health Information

Yarrow/Milfoil (Achillea Millefoil)

The flowers and leaves are used which contain, flavonoids, volatile oils, lactones and alkaloids

This is the original wonder medicine. As I said in the video it does just about everything and at college, if we could not think of an answer to a question we would write “YARROW” it was bound to be right!


It grows so profusely on all kinds of soils and waste land that if we were ever in a situation where orthodox medicines were not available our first plant hunt would be for Yarrow.

It can stem the flow of blood from a wound, it is a diuretic and urinary antiseptic, has anti-inflammatory and anti rheumatic properties is anti viral, anti bacterial, a vasodilator(relaxes capillaries)  , digestive stimulant and protector, improves both gall bladder and liver function and is a gentle relaxant like chamomile.

I’m sure you get the picture!

Because of all these actions it is frequently used in many different mixes for digestive problems, lowering blood pressure, coughs, colds, arthritis, regulating  hormones, cystitis, stress and toning varicose veins. I’ve probably left out a few actions but I think that is enough for one plant to boast about!!!!!!

I would never be without it on my shelves.

Linda Bostock

Medical Herbalist/herbal Health Information

Marshmallow Herb Walk Along The Cuckmere River

We often walk along the Cuckmere River, in East Sussex as it is one of the areas we can take Henry, our Red Setter, without cattle being around, although there are sometimes cows in the fields and we may have to do a bit of a detour, as cows seem to chase Henry and scare us. This is a video we made of that walk and of the rare Marshmallow plants that we found growing there. I hope you find it interesting.


Linda Bostock

Medical Herbalist

Thyme (Thymus Vulgaris)

The whole herb is used which is humming with volatile oil, giving it its gorgeous smell. It also contains tannins

Thyme is strongly antiseptic and antibacterial; it soothes coughs and helps the lungs to cough up mucous.

Not surprising then that it is used for coughs, colds, sore throats and as a mouthwash for gum infections.


An excellent property of volatile oils is that once they hit the warmth of the stomach they start to, in effect, evaporate and fill up all the spaces in the respiratory system, disinfecting them on the way through.

The reason we add it to foods is because apart from tasting nice, it has good digestive aid actions.

Wild thyme growing on the downs is very small but you know when you are walking on it due to the heavenly smell.

Linda Bostock

Medical Herbalist/Herbal Health Information

Burdock (Arctium Lappa)

The root is used which contains tannin, mucilage and inulin as well as iron, sulphur and B Vitamins.

This is another one of those weeds that robs the earth of all the minerals and so is a nutritive, blood tonic as well as having digestive system and liver cleansing properties. As it is a bitter herb, it stimulates digestion preventing the build up of toxins in the gut which may then get absorbed and cause problems in other areas of the body.


In clinic I use it as my number one digestion and liver supporting herb for all conditions requiring a cleansing action, such as arthritis, rheumatism, eczema, psoriasis and acne.

It is gentle, reliable and effective.

And yes it is that annoying plant with burrs as seed heads that stick to your clothes and the dog if you brush against them………we can’t all be perfect!

Linda Bostock

Medical Herbalist/Herbal Health Information

Evening Primrose (Oenothera biennis)

Evening Primrose Oil, extracted from the seeds, contains Gamma linolenic acid, more commonly known to us as the essential fatty acid Omega 6. Essential fatty acids cannot be made in the body so must be acquired from a food source. They are necessary for the growth or repair of any body cells and for the production of hormones.

Evening Primrose

I am actually not an evening primrose oil fan as I think there are better sources of Omega 6 oils, but am amazed to read that it has a wide history of use from improving blood circulation in the arteries to arresting moderate arthritic conditions.

There is plenty written on the internet on the virtues of Evening primrose oil, so, as I do not use it medicinally, I am going to take the cowards way out and say have a look on Google if you want to know more.

The big thing Evening primrose has going for it, are the very showy yellow bell like flowers circling tall stems, stunning when you come across them in the wild and making excellent cultivated garden plants.

Linda Bostock

Medical Herbalist/Herbal Health Information

Agrimony (Agrimonia Eupatoria)

The leaves and flowers are used which contain coumarins and tannin

Due to the tannin content of Agrimony it is an astringent plant and tones up all mucous membranes to improve their strength.


Gypsies picked, dried and stored the leaves and used as it as a refreshing tea in the same way you drink PG tips, but without the milk added to it.

It aids food digestion as it has bitter properties so is a good herb for indigestion. It is also liver cleansing and just like ordinary tea has a diuretic action.

In clinic I use it in small amounts in many digestive mixtures to tone the gut lining. I believe many digestive problems including irritable bowel syndrome may be caused by a “leaky gut” where the lining of the gut is in poor condition ( think broken skin) and Agrimony can help tone the gut lining up, preventing only partially digested foods crossing the gut barrier in to the blood stream and then causing problems in other parts of the body.

Linda Bostock

Medical Herbalist/Herbal Health Information

Centaury (Centaurium Erythraea)

This is a cute little plant that is easily missed if it is not in flower. The flower is either pink or white and close together on a squarish branching stem. It seems to love the chalk downlands so grows quite profusely on the South Downs as well as on the shingle beach.


The whole herb is used which has Bitter properties.

All herbs with Bitter properties are excellent digestive system aids as they stimulate digestive juices to help breakdown the food entering the gut. This is why so many Aperitifs have bitter properties!

I use it in small amounts, as a tincture, to improve digestive function and to tone the gut up.

Linda Bostock
Medical Herbalist/Herbal Health Information