The Herbalist, Karen Merryweather has another fascinating post (first one for ChronicAlternatives can be found here). The title of this page really does give away the subject! In this post are listed some herbs for MS that may improve symptoms or prognosis. Baldwins (no affiliate links, just a company Karen’s used) are a good site to find various extracts and tinctures of medicinal herbs.
- The medicinal use of Evening primrose ‘Oenthera biennis’ seed oil has been extensively researched since the 1980’s. This native North American naturalised in the UK, with its tall spikes of highly night scented yellow flowers is a food source for moths and bats. It is a powerful alterative that regulates the hormonal system and a hepatic, protecting the liver and nervous system. The beneficial effects of this oil are: increasing blood flow through decreasing platelet aggregation (stickiness); reducing the autoimmune response; normalizing the diminished essential-fatty-acid levels found in people with MS. “The abundant supply of essential fatty acids in evening primrose oil may be valuable in minimizing the inflammation associated with this progressive nerve disorder. The fatty acids may also contribute to healthy nerve development when taken over time.” More information on herbs can be found here.
- Skullcap ‘Scutellaria lateriflora’ is a primary nervine tonic that can be taken as needed with its effects continuing after use. Skullcap’s flavonoids, iridoids, volatile oils, tannins, ascorbic-acid, calcium, lignin, magnesium, potassium, scutellarin and zinc, renew and revive the central nervous system. A cerebral vasodilator, Skullcap soothes nervous irritation of the cerebro-spinal nervous system. It is antispasmodic and a nervine relaxant, helping the body cope with stress and muscle tension. Its interactions with GABA receptors in the brain have been researched – a decrease in GABA synthesis is known to cause impaired motor function, muscle stiffness and spasm. Skullcap potentiates other medications. It combines well with gentle Lime blossom/Linden ‘Tilia europa/cordata’, a nervine, antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory, and Catnep ‘Nepeta cataria’ an antispasmodic and relaxing nerve sedative that can ease pain.
- Research is starting to uncover the anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective potential of Turmeric. Tumeric ‘Curcuma longa’ is a pungent root that stimulates the digestive, circulatory and respiratory systems. It normalizes energy flow, is an antibiotic, anti-carcinogenic, antioxidant and hepatic. Containing curcuminoids (curcumin & others), initial studies have found these could block the progress of MS by inhibiting the manufacture of the IL-12 protein, a cause of damage to the myelin sheath. Curcumin regulates inflammatory cytokines – proteins released by cells affecting the interactions and communications between cells.
- Oat straw, the green oats of ‘Avena sativa,’ has been used to support brain health since the Middle Ages. It is able to suppress inflammatory cytokines in artery walls which can increase blood flow to the brain. High in calcium and other minerals, an infusion of oat straw can nourish the body at the deepest level (Susan Weed). Its ability to stimulate cell growth, ease muscle cramps, strengthen blood vessels, protect nerve sheaths and its high Vitamin B complex content, makes Oat straw an effective herb in treating ms.
- Marshmallow ‘Althea officinalis’ acts as a demulcent, emollient, diuretic, anti-inflammatory and expectorant. Both the leaf and the root are high in mucilage – a demulcent that soothes and heals, aiding regeneration of tissues in the gut and providing protection to the gut lining. Its calcium and magnesium content feeds the nervous system.
- St John’s Wort ‘Hypericum perforatum’ is a direct anti-inflammatory for the central nervous system, nervine and sedative. Its combined constituents have a histamine antagonist interaction lessening the inflammatory response. Used to treat nerve pain, depression and insomnia, St. John’s Wort is being researched for its ability to promote the healing & health of nerves.
Karen Merryweather Clinical & Hedgerow Herbalist. More detail about her can be found on her website. As ever there is a warning: St John’s Wort and scullcap can interact with other medicines so seek the advice of a herbalist before starting a new treatment.