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How herbs can help

MagazineMay 2004 (Vol. 15 Issue 2)How herbs can help

Doctors sometimes use a combination of herbs to soothe inflammation in the digestive tract

Doctors sometimes use a combination of herbs to soothe inflammation in the digestive tract. Aloe vera juice is often recommended, though it is not well studied in inflammatory bowel disease. The same is true for other traditional anti-inflammatory and soothing herbs, including Calendula, liquorice, marshmallow and yarrow. However, the effectiveness of other traditional herbs is now being confirmed by modern science.

* Boswellia gum resin: 550 mg three times daily for six weeks can be as effective for ulcerative colitis (UC) as the drug sulphasalazine (Eur J Med Res, 1997; 2: 37-43)

* Ground psyllium seeds: 20 g twice daily with water can be as effective as the drug mesalamine in treating UC (Am J Gastroenterol, 1999; 94: 427-33)

* Wheat grass juice: 20 mL up to 100 mL/day for a month resulted in clinical improvement in 78 per cent of people with UC vs 30 per cent with a placebo (Scand J Gastroenterol, 2002; 37: 444-9)

* Chamomile tea: a strong cup three times a day, drunk at body temperature, may help ease bowel discomfort, say German doctors

* Tannin-containing herbs, such as agrimony (Agrimonia spp), green tea, oak, witch hazel and cranesbill: may ease diarrhoea during acute flare-ups (Fortschr Med, 1993; 111: 114-8). It is recommended, however, to discontinue use before the diarrhoea is completely resolved, or the condition may be aggravated.

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