Herbal Health Information on Peptic/Duodenal Ulcers

I am writing about this as a special request from a friend.

However it is important that these are properly diagnosed. Don’t just assume you have ulcers because you have pain in your stomach!

Ulcers can develop in the stomach, where they are called Peptic ulcers or in the duodenum where they are called duodenal ulcers. Both are caused by erosion of the gut lining by stomach acid or by a bacteria called Helicobacter.

The doctor can do a simple breath test for Helicobacter which can be treated with antibiotics.

Erosion by stomach acid is more difficult but can be treated with herbal medicine.

Symptoms include gnawing pain around the stomach which is relieved by eating in the case of stomach ulcers or made worse half an hour after eating for duodenal ulcers. Nausea, vomiting and appetite loss may also be symptoms.

Stress plays a major part in the excess production of stomach acid so if you are suffering stress look at ways in which you can reduce this.

Look at what you can change in your lifestyle even it is something small such as join a Yoga class, take time out for yourself, walk away from a stressful situation and calm down before going back to face it, can you hand a job over to anyone else to do, get a cleaner for the housework, take a holiday. ANYTHING!

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 an area vulnerable to attack by stomach acid.

Diet unfortunately needs to be fairly bland if you have a stomach ulcer. Any high fibre food or spicy food may irritate the stomach. High protein foods such as eggs meat and fish will increase the secretion of acid in the stomach as acid is produced to initiate protein breakdown in the gut. So eat protein in moderation and never eat a meal late at night.

I remember my auntie having a Stomach Ulcer, years and years ago and being told to eat little and often up to six times a day. That is still good advice for a Stomach Ulcer today!

Alcohol will also aggravate the stomach lining and there are some orthodox medicines which can aggravate the stomach lining. The best and probably most widely used of these is Aspirin. If you are on orthodox medication that you think may be irritating your stomach then the doctor will advise you about changing or coming off it.


The approach is to:-

Protect the stomach lining

Reduce inflammation

Heal the damaged lining

Reduce stress if this is a factor

To protect the gut lining we use herbs high in mucilage such as Marshmallow, Slippery elm or Meadowsweet.

To reduce inflammation Meadowsweet or Echinacea

To heal a damaged lining there is nothing better than Marigold

If there is a suspicion of Helicobacter still being present then it is worth putting in an herb with anti bacterial properties, such as Myrrh.

Anti stress herbs are Chamomile, Passiflora, lime flowers and Skullcap.

Valerian, the classic anti stress herb is too strong for many people’s stomach and can cause stomach ache so I do not prescribe it for stomach ulcers.

So a typical herbal tincture for gut ulcers may be:-





Lime flowers

These are mixed together in equal amounts and 5mls of the resulting mixture taken in a little water three times a day BEFORE MEALS.

You may find an over the counter preparation for ulcers but do make sure it is a licensed product which has been tried and tested.

If you would like more help with your health then please visit me in the clinic.

The clinic information can be seen by clicking here or on the clinic tab at the top of the page.

Linda Bostock

Medical Herbalist/Herbal Health Information

Herbal Health Information on Athletes Foot

I consider athlete’s foot and Verrucas to be a sign that the immune system is not functioning at an optimum level. A lowered immune system always finds the least point of resistance in the body and something will give.

If your feet are in warm, sweaty shoes that do not allow the feet to breathe then the ever present fungal spores will take hold and grow on the skin of the feet causing itching, flaking of the skin and smelly feet! If the immune system is strong then it will fight the fungal spores and they will not be able to take hold.

Boosting the immune system is very important to help the body defend itself from invading organisms.

Nutritionally it is important to take in large amounts of Vitamin C and Zinc.

Vitamin C is in most fruit and veg, but I have found the best source to be Limes.

Take a fresh lime, cut it in half and squeeze the juice out of one half into a glass.

Fill the glass with cold water and drink it down. A glass a day first thing in the morning will boost your Vitamin C levels. Obviously don’t stop eating other fruit and veg during the day as this will maintain your normal vitamin and mineral intake.

Zinc is fairly low in foods due to modern farming methods and is difficult to absorb. It is therefore essential to have an intake of Zinc daily. It is present in high amounts in Pumpkin seeds, oats, peas and shell fish, but I advise the easiest way of getting Zinc, is to eat about a handful of pumpkin seeds or a bowl of porridge daily. You can buy Pumpkin seeds in any health food shop and large supermarkets. Of course the rest of your diet should be a sensible balanced diet to ensure a good intake of other vitamins and minerals which Vitamin C and Zinc Metabolism (usage) will be dependant on in the body. Drink at least two pints of water a day to help clear out toxins.

Buy shoes which allow your feet to breathe.

HERBAL MEDICINE is used both internally and as a foot lotion.

Internally the traditional immune system boosting herb is Echinacea which stimulates the white blood cells in the blood responsible for removing foreign bodies and also producing antibodies to fight infections.

As a lotion there are two herbs I commonly use in my clinic and these are:-Myrrh (yes the baby Jesus one), and Marigold.

Myrrh is antibacterial, antiviral, astringent (toning) and stimulates the white blood cells locally if used as a lotion. I always like to say that when the three kings gave Baby Jesus the gift of Myrrh, they were giving him the most precious gift of all and that was the gift of Health. I use it in tincture form, but it would have been given to Baby Jesus as beautiful amber coloured beads of Resin collected from sheep’s coats.

The sheep would rub themselves against the bark of the tree and the resin would stick to their wool. That’s just information for a bonus point should you ever get asked in a TV quiz!

Marigold is anti bacterial, antiviral, astringent and the best healer and strenghtener of damaged body tissue. Its Latin name is Calendula officinalis and the “officinalis” bit of the name means it was used by early apothecaries.

Marigold and Myrrh tincture can be used together in equal amounts as a lotion to dab onto the affected areas of the feet. Make sure the tinctures are 1:5 or you will burn your feet. Once you have mixed the two tinctures, dilute the mix down with cool boiled tap water half and half and then use that as a lotion. Make it up freshly every day and dab it on the affected areas three times a day.

If you need more advice about your health please visit me in my clinic

The clinic details can be found by clicking here or on the clinic tab at the top of the page.

Linda Bostock

Medical Herbalist/Herbal Health Information

Herbal Health Information on Thrush/Candida

The opportunistic organism, Candida albicans is responsible for causing either oral thrush, mostly in infants or vaginal thrush in adult females. This can be passed on to the sexual partner, but there is a lower incidence in adult males.

Candida albicans is a yeast organism, the spores of which are present on the skin most of the time.

Vaginal and oral health is dependant on keeping the mucous membranes intact and in good condition. If there are any pre-disposing factors such as Antibiotic use which kills the natural bacterial flora of the Vagina, or iron deficiency, or oral contraceptive use, then the yeast spores will take hold and grow in the vagina causing a white curd like discharge and extreme itching and discomfort.

Oral thrush in infants needs treatment from the doctor.

An isolated case of vaginal thrush is nothing to be concerned about, but recurrent thrush indicates there is something else going on which needs investigating.

  • Boosting the immune system generally is important so that the body can fight the invasion of the yeast spores. This means having a good intake of Vitamin C and Zinc in your diet or taking a supplement.
  • Eating live yogurt is a must if you have thrush and it is also worth using it as a cream in the vagina. Messy but it will help to restore the vagina’s natural bacteria such as lactobacillus acidophilus.
  • Avoid alcohol
  • Avoid sugary foods (yeasts thrive on high sugar levels)
  • Many sources say to avoid yeast containing foods such as bread, but I do not see the logic in this advice as yeast in bread has been cooked and is dead.
  • Avoid sex if you have thrush although this is usually painful due to the lining of the vagina being damaged

Herbal Medicine is best taken in tincture form and a suitable mixture of herbs would be:-

Echinacea, to boost the immune system.

Marigold for its anti fungal properties

Pau d’arco, which is a specific for vaginal thrush, having strongly anti fungal properties.

I cannot give you dosage guidelines as you will need to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. But if you would like more help and advice please do visit me in my clinic.

To find out more about the clinic please click here or on the clinic tab at the top of the page.

If you do suffer from recurrent thrush then please see a doctor as there is usually an underlying cause which needs investigating.

Linda Bostock

Medical Herbalist/Herbal Health Information

Herbal Health Information on Cystitis

A one off bout off cystitis is easily dealt with, with antibiotics and like any other acute infection such as earache that is the right course of action to take.

It is with the recurrent or chronic form of cystitis that the herbs can be of enormous help.

This condition can cause burning and stinging on passing urine, frequency of passing urine, a desperate urge to pass urine and is life affecting due to the need to be near a toilet all the time.

You may be surprised to know that urine is normally sterile and used in the past  for sterilising wounds inflicted by war. In olden days surgeons used to get the men to wee directly on to the open wounds as it was probably the only sterile fluid around with which to wash the wound out! Bacteria can only enter the bladder from the skin externally via the urethra, which is the tube carrying urine from the bladder to the outside. So no matter how clean you think you are, it is worth taking extra care with your personal hygiene if you suffer from cystitis. Unfortunately the vagina lies on top of the urethra and over enthusiastic sex can cause injury to the urethra leaving it more prone to infection, so you may need to be a little careful.

As usual I am starting with dietary advice.

DRINK LOTS OF WATER. Tea and coffee aggravate the kidneys

Do not eat any oranges or tomatoes or drink their juices. These two fruits seem to be too acidic for the urinary system and will irritate the bladder lining.

Cranberry juice is good and stops bacteria sticking to the wall of the bladder.

As with the gut it is a good idea to coat and protect the bladder wall lining to prevent it being further irritated by bacteria. There is nothing better than Marshmallow to do this job.

We saw the Marshmallow growing profusely in the Cuckmere river video, when I explained to you about the mucilage content of the marshmallow. It is this that coats mucous membranes and for the bladder, it is the leaf of the marshmallow that is used.

St John’s wort is antibacterial and anti viral and can be toning for the bladder.

The best urinary antiseptic is an herb called Buchu which I love to smell, as it smells of blackcurrants and is apparently the flavouring used in the old “Spangles” sweets.

The hairy bit that comes out of the top of a corn on the cob is called corn silk and is a diuretic, but also coats and protects the bladder due to it’s mucilage content.

An irritated bladder also needs relaxing as it goes into spasm causing a constant feeling of wanting to “go”.

We saw Crampbark in the West rise marsh video and I explained it was a muscle relaxant. Well the bladder wall is just a muscle and Crampbark works very well to relax it if it has gone into spasm. Pulsatilla works well as an anti spasmodic to prevent the bladder cramping up.

There is a form of Cystitis which, when the urine is cultured, is found to be sterile. This is often diagnosed as interstitial Cystitis and this form of cystitis needs a similar approach to above as well as herbs to heal the bladder lining. For this I use Marigold, just about the best healer in the herbal pharmacy.

A typical mix of herbs in tincture form I would use in clinic for someone presenting with Cystitis is:-

Marshmallow leaf




But it obviously depends on what the patient tells me and what the symptoms are.

You will find over the counter remedies with some of these herbs in them, but make sure they are licensed or visit a qualified Medical Herbalist .

Linda Bostock

Medical Herbalist

Herbal Health Information

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