Herbal teas are on their way… Update 2

An update (number 2) on the herbal teas. I’m thinking of naming the brand “Dr Brad’s teas” or “Dr B’s Teas” or similar. My friends call be Dr B, so I might go with that…

Herbal teas are on their way… Update

I’ve always seen food as medicine and herbal teas play a very big role in supporting and improving health. I have used herbal teas in my clinic for many years. During high school I did a subject in business that allowed me to work under a herbalist in a health food store. This experience brought forward my love of herbal teas.

I have graduated with my PhD at the University of Sydney (yesterday). Yay! It was a beautiful day with family and friends. I am getting back to creating the herbal tea brand that I talked about a while ago. Sorry about the delay. The herbal teas will be available in the future. The herbal teas will be certified organic. I’m very excited about this. I’m thinking of a catchy name. Stay tuned…

Brahmi: the nootropic herb

Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri) is one of my favourite herbs for memory and cognition. I first learned about Brahmi (and other Ayurvedic and Chinese herbs) in 1996. I attended a symposium in 1997 on Ayurvedic and Chinese herbs presented by Kerry Bone.

Brahmi demonstrates cognitive, enhanced memory and learning, adaptogenic, anxiolytic, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective, and hepatoprotective activity. A nootropic is used to enhance memory and cognitive function. Adaptogens enable the body to better cope with the mental and physical consequences of stress. Emerging research demonstrates several mechanisms of action, including increased cerebral blood flow, acetylcholinesterase inhibition, choline acetyltransferase activation, β-amyloid reduction, and monoamine potentiation.

Brahmi was initially described around the 6th century A.D. in texts such as the Charaka Samhita, Athar-Ved, and Susrutu Samhita as a medhya rasayana-class herb taken to sharpen intellect and attenuate mental deficits.

For memory and cognitive products, I always look for Brahmi, along with Ginkgo, B Vitamins.

Reference: Aguiar S and Borowski T. Neuropharmacological review of the nootropic herb Bacopa monnieri. Rejuvenation Res. 2013 Aug; 16(4): 313-26.

Chaste Tree for Female Reproductive Health

Chaste Tree (Vitex agnus-castus) is a popular herbal treatment, predominantly used for a range of female reproductive conditions. One of my favourite herbs for women’s health and regularly prescribe it. As previously written in an article for my website some years ago, depending on the presenting symptoms, I typically combine Chaste Tree with Dong Quai, Corydalis, Crampbark, Ginger, Paeony, Turmeric, Magnesium, and Vitamin B6. This combination covers most women’s health issues. I increase broccoli for its health benefits. With Magnesium, I tend to prescribe 150-200 mg twice daily. The Vitamin B6 is for hormone and neurotransmitter regulation, and metabolism of delta-6 desaturase and metabolism of fatty acids. The Ginger and Turmeric work via anti-inflammatory effects. Depending on the situation, I might increase Vitamin B3 for its circulation effects, along with energy production, neurotransmitter regulation, and metabolism of fatty acids. I am a big fan of Ashwagandha and regularly prescribe it for anxiety, stress, and as an adaptogen. Ashwagandha is very beneficial for supporting women’s health, particularly with PMS, anxiety, and stress.

In a systematic review of clinical trials, seven of eight trials for premenstrual syndrome found Vitex extracts to be superior to placebo (5 of 6 studies), pyridoxine (1), and magnesium oxide (1). In premenstrual dysphoric disorder, one study reported Vitex to be equivalent to fluoxetine. The results from randomised, controlled trials suggest benefits for Vitex (Chaste Tree) in the treatment of premenstrual syndrome, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, and latent hyperprolactinaemia.

Reference: van Die et al. Vitex agnus-castus extracts for female reproductive disorders: a systematic review of clinical trials. Planta Med. 2013 May; 79(7): 562-75.

ATMS Practitioner Seminar: Treating Complex Sensitive Patients

Hi everyone. I am presenting an ATMS Practitioner Seminar (6 hours) on the topic of “Treating Complex Sensitive Patients” in Coffs Harbour on Sunday 8 September 2013. If you are a health professional or student, contact the ATMS Office for ticket purchase details.

Effects of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids on platelet function in healthy subjects and subjects with cardiovascular disease

Hyperactivation and aggregation of platelets play a major role in thrombosis and hemostasis. The aims of this study were to investigate the effects of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) on platelet function. Light transmission aggregometry and flow cytometric analyses of platelet activation and platelet-leukocyte aggregates were determined at baseline and after 4 weeks of omega-3 (docosahexaenoic acid 520 mg and eicosapentaenoic acid 120 mg) supplementation.

In total, 40 healthy subjects and 16 patients with a history of cardiovascular disease (CVD) completed the study. In healthy subjects, omega-3 PUFA significantly reduced adenosine diphosphate (ADP)-induced (maximum amplitude, 77.0% ± 3.2% vs. 71.6% ± 3.4%, p = 0.036; maximum slope, 86.3 ± 1.8 vs. 80.7 ± 2.1, p = 0.014) and adrenaline-induced platelet aggregation (maximum slope, 42.8 ± 2.7 vs. 37.4 ± 3.0, p = 0.013; lag time, 00:21 ± 00:02 vs. 00:31 ± 00:03 s, p = 0.002). Omega-3 PUFA also reduced P-selectin expression (40.5% ± 2.9% vs. 34.4% ± 2.4%, p = 0.049) on platelets and platelet-monocyte aggregates (38.5% ± 2.6% vs. 31.4% ± 2.5%, p = 0.022) after activation with ADP 0.5 µM. There were fewer changes in platelet aggregation and activation found in subjects with CVD. Nevertheless, there was a reduction in the slope of arachidonic acid-induced platelet aggregation (13.21 ± 6.41 vs. 4.88 ± 3.01, p = 0.009) and increased lag time for U46619 (00:16 ± 00:00 vs. 00:29 ± 00:07 s, p = 0.018) induced platelet aggregation.

Thus, 4-week supplementation of 640 mg omega-3 PUFA reduced measures of platelet aggregation and activation in healthy subjects but effects were less evident in patients with existing CVD. Our findings support the recommendation that the omega-3 PUFA dose be higher in CVD than among healthy subjects.

McEwen BJ, Morel-Kopp MC, Chen W, Tofler GH, Ward CM. Effects of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids on platelet function in healthy subjects and subjects with cardiovascular disease. Semin Thromb Hemost. 2013 Feb;39(1):25-32. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23329646)

Astaxanthin and Skin

One of my favourite ingredients for skin is Astaxanthin. I tend to combine it with Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and Zinc. Depending on the skin condition, I might also combine Astaxanthin with Burdock, Biotin, Calendula, and Turmeric.

Astaxanthin is derived from the microalgae, Haematococcus pluvialis. Astaxanthin has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

An 8 week study showed improvements in skin wrinkle (crow’s feet at week-8), age spot size (cheek at week-8), elasticity (crow’s feet at week-8), skin texture (cheek at week-4), moisture content of corneocyte layer (cheek in 10 dry skin subjects at week-8) and corneocyte condition (cheek at week-8). A randomised double-blind placebo-controlled study involving 36 healthy male subjects using 6 mg of astaxanthin for 6 weeks. Crow’s feet wrinkle and elasticity and trans-epidermal water loss were improved after 6 mg of astaxanthin daily supplementation for 6 weeks.

Astaxanthin lowered triglycerides and raised HDL-cholesterol in another trial and improved blood flow in an experimental microcirculation model. It improved cognition in a small clinical trial. In several Japanese randomised controlled trials, astaxanthin improved visual acuity and eye accommodation.


Kidd P. Astaxanthin, cell membrane nutrient with diverse clinical benefits and anti-aging potential. Altern Med Rev. 2011 Dec; 16(4): 355-64.

Tominaga K et al. Cosmetic benefits of astaxanthin on humans subjects. Acta Biochim Pol. 2012;59(1):43-7.

Seaweed (kelps) and plasma glucose and insulin levels

I have been using Kelps (Ascophyllum nodosum and Fucus vesiculosus) for patients since 1997 where I was observing student clinic while studying naturopathy and nutrition at College. As part of observing in student clinic, we were able to suggest treatments, diets, herbs, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, etc., to the “practitioner student” who would then formulate the treatment of the patient. The kelps have numerous health benefits. I have typically used Kelps for hair, skin, and nails, and for thyroid health (all due to the iodine content) throughout my career.

A randomised placebo-controlled crossover trial investigated the effect of brown seaweed (Ascophyllum nodosum and Fucus vesiculosus) on post-challenge plasma glucose and insulin levels in men and women. Two 250 mg seaweed capsules and 2 placebo capsules were consumed on each occasion 30 minutes prior to the consumption of 50 g of carbohydrates from bread. Plasma glucose and insulin concentrations were measured over a period of 3 hours post-carbohydrate ingestion at predetermined time points. Both treatments were separated by a 1-week washout period. Data were analysed using mixed models for repeated measures. Compared with placebo, consumption of seaweed was associated with a 12.1% reduction in the insulin incremental area under the curve (p = 0.04, adjusted for baseline) and a 7.9% increase in the Cederholm index of insulin sensitivity (p < 0.05). Consumption of the seaweed capsules was not associated with any adverse event.

Kelps may have benefit in people with insulin resistance.

Fucoidan: An interesting constituent of kelps is Fucoidan. Fucoidan is a type of polysaccharide which contains substantial percentages of L-fucose and sulfate ester groups, mainly derived from brown seaweed. The polysaccharide was named as “fucoidin” when it was first isolated from marine brown algae by Kylin in 1913. Fucoidans have been extensively studied due to their numerous activities, including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anticoagulant, anti-thrombotic, immunomodulatory, antiviral, blood lipid reducing, and gastric protective effects.


Bo L et al. Fucoidan: structure and bioactivity. Molecules. 2008 Aug 12; 13(8): 1671-95.

Paradis ME et al. A randomised crossover placebo-controlled trial investigating the effect of brown seaweed (Ascophyllum nodosum and Fucus vesiculosus) on postchallenge plasma glucose and insulin levels in men and women. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2011 Dec; 36(6): 913-9.

Burdock and skin health

Burdock (Arctium lappa) is a long time favourite of mine for skin health, particularly for eczema and acne. Burdock has been used therapeutically in Europe, North America, and Asia for hundreds of years. I combine Burdock with Calendula, Vitamin C, Quercetin and Bioflavonoids, Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), Vitamin B5, Vitamin B6, Vitamin E, and Zinc for various skin conditions. I add Silica if there is poor wound healing and weak nails. If stress is amplifying the issue, I add a separate formula of Ashwagandha, Passionflower, Rehmannia, and Rhodiola. Ginger can benefit if additional anti-inflammatory action is required or if circulation is an issue.

The root of Burdock contains active ingredients that have been found to “detoxify” blood in terms of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and promote blood circulation to the skin surface, improving the skin quality and texture.

Reference: Chan Y-S et al. A review of the pharmacological effects of Arctium lappa (burdock). Inflammopharmacology. 2011 Oct; 19(5): 245-54.

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera): a favourite

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is one of my favourite herbs for pretty much everything.

Ashwagandha is one of the most important herb of Ayurveda (the traditional system of medicine in India) used for millennia as a Rasayana for its wide ranging health benefits. The root of Ashwagandha is regarded as tonic, aphrodisiac, narcotic, diuretic, anthelmintic, astringent, thermogenic, and stimulant.

Ashwagandha enhances the function of the brain and nervous system and improves the memory. It improves the function of the reproductive system promoting a healthy sexual and reproductive balance. Being a powerful adaptogen, it enhances the body’s resilience to stress. Ashwagandha improves the body’s defense against disease by improving the cell-mediated immunity. It also possesses potent antioxidant properties that help protect against cellular damage caused by free radicals.

Aswagandha is compared well with Eleutherococcus senticosus (Siberian Ginseng) and Panax Ginseng (Chinese / Korean Ginseng) in its adaptogenic properties, and hence it is popularly known as Indian Ginseng. Ashwagandha has adaptogenic, calming anxiolytic , anti-stress, tonic, memory-enhancing, analgesic, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory effects.

Singh N et al. An overview on ashwagandha: a Rasayana (rejuvenator) of Ayurveda. Afr J Tradit Complement Altern Med. 2011; 8(5 Suppl): 208-13.

Passionflower and Sleep

Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) is one of my favourite herbs. Passionflower is beneficial for reducing stress and anxiety, and improving sleep. I use it in combination with Ashwagandha (Withania), Chamomile, Lavender, Lemon Balm, and Ziziphus. Combining with Magnesium is helpful in reducing muscle cramps, aches and pains, and good for overall relaxation.

A double-blind, placebo-controlled trial investigated the effects of Passionflower herbal tea on sleep quality. The study was measured using sleep diaries validated by polysomnography. Sleep quality showed a significantly better rating for Passionflower compared with placebo (t(40) = 2.70, p < 0.01).

Reference: Ngan A, Conduit R. A double-blind, placebo-controlled investigation of the effects of Passiflora incarnata (passionflower) herbal tea on subjective sleep quality. Phytother Res. 2011 Aug; 25(8): 1153-9.

Pyrrole Disorder update

Pyrrole disorder can be described as a complex disorder. The causes of pyrrole disorder are not completely understood. There has been an influx of people with potential pyrrole disorder in clinic in the last year or so, especially since the website post last year.

All humans excrete small quantities of hydroxyhemopyrrolin-2’one (HPL) in urine. The level of HPL is tested via a urine test. The level of HPL increases with physical or emotional stress. Elevated HPL has been observed in people with depression. Some laboratories have set the normal concentration of HPL in urine as less than 25 μg/dL. However, practitioners may associate HPL levels twice that amount as being elevated.

The signs and symptoms of pyrrole disorder are similar to that of vitamin B6 and zinc deficiency. The HPL molecule can bind up zinc and vitamin B6 and excrete them, leading to a deficiency.

Hopefully research will provide more information about Pyrrole Disorder the next few years. One of my aims is to conduct clinical trials investigating the levels of HPL and mental health, especially in depression and anxiety, and cardiometabolic disease.

National Seminar Series: Case Studies and Detoxification across the Lifecycle

I am excited that I am presenting on the topic of “Case Studies and Detoxification across the Lifecycle” at the Practitioner Seminar Series 2011. A Comprehensive overview of… Toxins In The 21st Century. How to Identify, Treat, Protect & Chelate using Natural Medicines. May – August 2011. Locations: Adelaide, Melbourne, Perth, Sydney, Brisbane and Auckland. Contact InterClinical for more information.

National Seminar Series: Nutrition, Minerals and Detoxification

I am excited that I am presenting on the topic of “Nutrition, Minerals and Detoxification” at the Practitioner Seminar Series 2011. A Comprehensive overview of… Toxins In The 21st Century. How to Identify, Treat, Protect & Chelate using Natural Medicines. May – August 2011. Locations: Adelaide, Melbourne, Perth, Sydney, Brisbane and Auckland. Contact InterClinical for more information.

Milk Thistle for Liver Health

Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum) is one of my favourite herbs for liver health. Milk Thistle is the most well-researched plant in the treatment of liver disease.

The active complex of Milk Thistle is a lipophilic extract from the seeds of the plant and is composed of three isomer flavonolignans (silybin, silydianin, and silychristin) collectively known as silymarin. Silybin is a component with the greatest degree of biological activity and makes up 50% to 70% of silymarin. Silymarin is found in the entire plant but it is concentrated in the fruit and seeds. I always look for products that note the Silybin content.

Silymarin acts as an antioxidant by reducing free radical production and lipid peroxidation. It has antifibrotic activity and may act as a toxin blockade agent by inhibiting binding of toxins to the hepatocyte cell membrane receptors. In animals, silymarin reduces liver injury caused by alcohol, Paracetamol (acetaminophen), carbon tetrachloride (CCl4), radiation, iron overload, phenylhydrazine, and cold ischaemia. Silymarin has been used to treat alcoholic liver disease, acute and chronic viral hepatitis, and toxin-induced liver diseases.

When formulating liquid herbs or prescribing tablets/capsules/powders for liver and digestive health, I always include Milk Thistle. It is essential.

Reference: Abenavoli L et al. Milk thistle in liver diseases: past, present, future. Phytother Res. 2010 Oct; 24(10): 1423-32.

Presentation: The potential of vitamin C in metabolic syndrome

Hi everyone. I am presenting a favourite topic of mine (metabolic syndrome) at the Natural Health Conference and Expo – “The potential of vitamin C in metabolic syndrome”. Date 4 March 2011.

Come along and visit the Expo and see the conference presentations.

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