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Five herbs instead of Anti-inflammatories

Written by Großostheim Simon Mills

Inflammatory processes are the key disturbances in the majority of diseases. They define any condition ending in ‘-itis’ (eg arthritis, dermatitis – aka eczema – gastritis, cystitis, colitis, bronchitis, cellulitis, pericarditis, phlebitis, meningitis). However, inflammation is also central to chronic immunological diseases like rheumatism, Crohns disease, psoriasis and lupus, and is now understood as causative in diabetes, arteriosclerosis and cardiovascular diseases, and even cancer.

The modern approach to most inflammatory disturbances is to suppress them with anti-inflammatory drugs, mostly steroids like hydrocortisone or non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs). When steroidal drugs became widely available in the early 1950s, the transformation these made to the progress of arthritic, skin and other connective tissue diseases was dramatic. For decades any challenge to these drugs was dismissed. However, it then became apparent that both steroids and their non-steroidal counterparts (initially based on aspirin-like COX inhibitors and now extended to fenamate class of LOX inhibitors) were associated with a range of side-effects and diminishing benefits. There is again a demand for other approaches, especially in the case of those sufferers otherwise condemned to a lifetime of powerful and potentially dangerous drugs.

I am a Cambridge medical sciences graduate and have been a herbal practitioner in Exeter since 1977. In that time I have led the main professional and trade organizations for herbal medicine in the UK and served on Government and House of Lords committees. I have written standard textbooks used by herbal practitioners around the world, including with Professor Kerry Bone from Australia.

I was involved in academic work for many years, co-founding the University of Exeter pioneering Centre for Complementary Health Studies in 1987 (where we built a complementary research and postgraduate teaching programme from scratch), then at Peninsula the first integrated health course at a UK medical school, and the first Masters degree in herbal medicine in the USA, at the Maryland University of Integrative Health.

I am particularly fascinated by the insights we can distill from the millions of intelligent people who over many centuries needed plants to survive. Mostly I want to learn and share the old skills, to experience healing plants as characters, that can help us fend off ill health. My passion for offering people tools to look after themselves and their families has led me to work with the founders of the College of Medicine on pioneering national self care and social prescribing projects. I am now the College Self Care Lead and also Herbal Strategist at Pukka Herbs

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