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herbal medicine

Nutritional Supplements

Nutritional Supplements

A July 2019 study found that only two out of 16 nutritional supplements tested had any positive impact.  Researchers at West Virginia School of Medicine found that only folic acid and omega-3, long-chain fatty acids seemed to have some benefits.

The study found that, “…taking both calcium and vitamin may actually be harmful. The meta-analysis indicated--with moderate certainty--that taking a combination of calcium and vitamin D may increase the risk of stroke.

“But taking calcium or vitamin D alone seemed to have no effect on mortality or cardiovascular outcomes whatsoever. Neither did any of the other supplements that the meta-analysis addressed, such as multivitamins, iron, folic acid, beta-carotene and antioxidants.

“When the researchers turned their attention to diets, they discovered that eating less salt improved all-cause mortality rates in people with normal blood pressure. It also made cardiovascular-related deaths rarer among hypertensive people. But reducing sodium was the only diet that demonstrated any benefit. The other seven--which included eating less or different types of fat, adopting a Mediterranean diet and increasing fish-oil intake--had no effect.

Safi Khan said, "Reduced salt intake was associated with improving overall survival and cardiovascular mortality. This is something that can be backed up with logic because there is a sufficient amount of data, in various studies, that shows low salt intake basically improves hypertension, which directly influences cardiovascular outcome."



Kratom – Ketum - Mitragyna Speciosa

Kratom – Ketum - Mitragyna Speciosa

In a July 2019 study by Binghamton University, State University of New York suggest that, “…kratom is not reasonably safe and poses a public health threat due to its availability as an herbal supplement.” Professor William Eggleston said, “Although it is not as strong as some other prescription opioids, kratom does still act as an opioid in the body … In larger doses, it can cause slowed breathing and sedation, meaning that patients can develop the same toxicity they would if using another opioid product. It is also reported to cause seizures and liver toxicity. Kratom may have a role in treating pain and opioid use disorder, but more research is needed on its safety and efficacy. Our results suggest it should not be available as an herbal supplement."



By English Wikipedia user Ingenium, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Psoriasis - Indigo Naturalis - Qinq Dai

Psoriasis - Indigo Naturalis - Qinq Dai

A June 2019 survey by George Washington University found that, “Patients with psoriasis frequently use complementary or alternative therapies to treat their symptoms.”

The survey found, “… indigo naturalis [Qing Dai]-- a plant extract widely used in Traditional Chinese Medicine and recognized as a therapy for several inflammatory conditions -- has shown efficacy, but was not reported in the survey.”


Du Zhong - Eucommia

Du Zhong - Eucommia

Du Zhong (Eucommia) is a nourishing Yang herb. It is warm, sweet and is a Kidney and Liver herb.  It replenishes their vital functions, strengthens the sinews and bones and lowers blood pressure.  It is useful for lower back pain and knee ache, impotence, frequent urination and warms the lower body.  It forms part of various formulas we prescribe in the Clinic based on a TCM Holistic Diagnosis consultation.


Chain of transmission

Chain of transmission

Yusef was taught acupuncture and herbal medicine in the Traditional Chinese Medicine system by Paul Brecher BA FAcS TCM, Principal of The College of Chinese Medicine in London.  Paul Brecher was taught by Paul Robin FAcS MPCHM MCAA, Head of the College of Chinese Medicine and TCM faculty Chairman of the Acupuncture Society. Paul Robin was trained by Dr Bernard Kai Lam Lee. Dr Lee was trained by his grandfather, Fook Sang.



Also known as flax. In Arabic it is badhir alkitaan.  In Latin it is Linum usitatissimum. TCM has it as Ya Ma Zi.

Suyuti quotes Avicenna as “Verily salt should be used as a paste together with linseed for the poison of scorpions, for it is an antidote for both hot and cold poisons. It attracts the poison and then dissolves it.”

A “demulcent, emollient, and expectorant… widely used as a stomachic cleanser and to soothe inflammations of the intestinal tract and throat and urinary passages.” (Robert Thomson, in “The Grosset Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine” (1980))

It is a “demulcent” and can be used as a poultice to deal with inflammation and pain. (Menzies-Trull in "The Herbalist's Prescriber")

A “demulcent [relieves inflammation or irritation], anti-tussive [prevents and relieves coughs], laxative, emollient [soothes the skin]” used for bronchitis, pleurisy and as a poultice for, amongst other things, psoriasis.  A purgative for constipation.” (David Hoffman in “The New Holistic Herbal”).

It is not listed by Dan Bensky and Andrew Gamble, in “Chinese Herbal Medicine Materia Medica”





Latin: Astrantia

TCM:  Da Xing Qin


The essential oil is a stomachic, for digestion and appetite stimulation.


Cardamom Seed

Cardamom Seed

One of the Latin names (there are variants of cardamom) is amomum cardamomum. In Arabic, it is habbu al-hal, in Urdu it is elaichi.

“The main medicinal use is for indigestion.” (Robert Thomson, in “The Grosset Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine” (1980))

In TCM it is Sha Ren (Fructus Amomi). Black Cardamom is Yi Zhi Ren (Fructus Oxyphyllae). “[Sha Ren is] acrid, warm, aromatic … [inter alia] strengthens the stomach …” (Dan Bensky and Andrew Gamble, in “Chinese Herbal Medicine Materia Medica”)

Cardamom [Elattaria cardamomum] is an “aromatic and carminative, stimulating digestive tonic.” according to Menzies-Trull in "The Herbalist's Prescriber".

David Hoffman has it as a “carminative, sialagogue [promotes saliva], orexigenic [appetite stimulant], aromatic … used to treat flatulent dyspepsia … griping pains … stimulate the appetite.” (“The New Holistic Herbal”).





Known by a multitude of names across the world: shilajeet,   shilajit, salajeet, mumijo, mumiyo, mumiya, mum, mumio, momia, moomiyo, mountain tar, rock-tar,  mineral pitch, mineral wax, black asphaltum, asphaltum punjabianum, shargai, dorobi, barahshin, baragshun mummenayyee, tasmayi, chao-tong, wu ling zhi*, badha-naghay, baad-a-ghee, arkhar-tash, mumiyo.

It is a blackish brown organic mass from the Himalayas used in indigenous India medicine in the ayurveda and unani tibb medical systems.

Al-Himaidi and Umar in, “Safe Use of Salajeet During the Pregnancy of Female Mice.” in the Journal of Biological Sciences (2003) “It has been used for ages in traditional medicines in the treatment of bronchial asthma, diabetes, genito-urinary infection, wound healing and nerve disorder (citing Chopra, et al 1976)”


*Listed, based on a Wikipedia entry. However, in Chinese Medicine the name Wu Ling Zhi is flying squirrel excrement – not halal – and Bensky and Gamble cite a different latin name, exrementum trogopteri seu pteroma, so it is probably not shilajeet.


Valentin [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], from Wikimedia Commons



Phlegm – Mucus - Balgham

Phlegm – Mucus - Balgham

Notes from an interview with a Hakeem.


Your work is in treating others’ health problems. What are you doing at the moment for your own health?

“I am currently in the process of detoxing from a phlegm imbalance.  Looking back, I think there has been quite a long term build up, a tendency towards imbalance.  I’ve been doing this now for a number of months and hope to have completed the process soon.”

What do you mean by phlegm imbalance?

“Phlegm, or mucus or (the Arabic word) Balgham is a key component in Islamic Medicine. It is a compound temperament, cold and moist, and one of the four bodily humours.

The three core ideas with this detox are, primarily, to reduce those foods that have a tendency to produce mucus.  You use fruit and vegetables as the roughage, and, if you want extra effect, you increase foods that have a tendency to remove mucus.”

So what are the foods that you are reducing?

“I am avoiding or reducing wheat, dairy, rice, eggs and sugar. I am focusing on mainly lentils, beans, nuts, seeds, vegetables and fruit, especially dried fruit. Once a week I will have dish of lamb or chicken or fish.”

To be clear, what do you mean by wheat?

“I mean all types of bread made from wheat. Also, pasta, pizza, cake, biscuits, and cereals. This includes naan, pitta, roti and paratha.”

And dairy?

“By “dairy” I mean milk, yoghurt, butter and cheese.”

What kinds of foods are you eating to replace these?

“I continue to eat all types of vegetables - especially green leafy vegetables - and fruit - especially dried fruit - and lentils, pulses, beans, barley, barley bread, rye bread, rye crisp bread, porridge, oats, oat milk and oatcakes. It’s important to remember protein. You’d be surprised how much protein you can get from non-meat and diary sources.”

What about sugar?

“I try to replace sugar with honey but this is not always possible. I avoid pouring boiling water on honey.”

Is this a permanent programme?

“No, not at all. I think it will take a few months. But, long term, I can see the value in eating reduced amounts of wheat, dairy, rice, eggs and sugar.”

What about herbal medicine?

“After a diagnosis from the tongue, eyes, forehead, hands, nails, face, the six body organ pulses on the right and left hands, I decided to support this detox process with specific herbal medicines.”

Can you be more specific?

“Each day I am currently taking a spoon of cayenne powder, as a tonic. It seems to go down best with orange juice with the bits in. I also drink a dilution of lemon juice concentrate first thing in the morning with a spoon of honey. Dried figs, radishes and apples also seem to be good “phlegm-strippers” for me.

For general health, do you take any herbal medicines?

“Yes, I take mullein, hawthorn berry powder, buchu, astralagus, raspberry powder, nettle leaf powder, celery powder, skullcap and meadowsweet powder.  Also, I am taking du zhong [eucommia bark powder] and yin yang huo [epimedium] for the kidneys, bladder, bones and lower back, and lobelia (a paired herb for the cayenne).I would advise people to only take herbal medicines as prescribed by someone trained in herbal medicine and after a proper diagnosis.”

Do you have any general advice?

“I advise myself of the hadith of the Prophet, peace be upon him, who said, “No human being has ever filled a container worse than his own stomach. The son of Adam needs no more than some morsels of food to keep up his strength. Doing so, he should consider that a third of [his stomach] is for food, a third for drink and a third for breathing.”



Phlegm imbalance can lead to very challenging health problems.  Some of those writing about mucus have put together “mucus-lean” or “mucus-free” diets.  Three examples are from Dr Christopher, from Arnold Ehret and from Dr Sebi (Alfred Bowman) who have all written about the problems of mucus. The Livestrong Foundation has an interesting list in this respect.  Some of the views expressed in support of a mucus-free diet seem very extreme or excessive. And these writers have differences of opinion on what mucus is and how to deal with it. 


It is best to return to the Sunnah on these matters and to study what the scholars of Islamic Medicine have to say about what to eat, what not to eat and, most importantly, the amount to eat as referred to in the last part of what was said in the interview.

We advise people to embark on any health and diet detoxification process only on the advice of their medical advisers.

We also advise people to make sure that they get enough protein in their diet, whatever dietary programme they follow.




Stone Root - Richweed

Stone Root - Richweed

Latin: Collinsonia canadensis

Part of the mint family, it is a “renal and circulatory tonic” (Menzies-Trull in "The Herbalist's Prescriber")

An “anti-lithic, diuretic, diaphoretic … the treatment and prevention of stone and gravel in the urinary system and the gall-bladder.” (David Hoffman in “The New Holistic Herbal”).



Latin: Artemisia vulgaris

TCM:  Ai Ye (Artemisia argyi)

It is used “for the treatment of colds, colic, bronchitis, rheumatism and fever. It is a safe remedy for suppressed menstruation and effective for female complaints when combined with marigold.  … important in the treatment of kidney and bladder inflammations and related ailments such as gout, sciatica and water retention.” (Robert Thomson, in “The Grosset Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine” (1980))

It is a for the “autonomic nervous system tropho-restorative”. (Menzies-Trull in "The Herbalist's Prescriber")

It is a “bitter tonic, stimulant, nervine tonic, emmenagogue … Mugwort can be used wherever a digestive stimulant is called for.” (David Hoffman in “The New Holistic Herbal”).

Ai Ye (Artemisia argyi) is “bitter, acrid warm … warms the womb and stops bleeding … disperses cold and alleviates pain …” Dan Bensky and Andrew Gamble, in “Chinese Herbal Medicine Materia Medica”



M J Richardson / Crosswort or Mugwort


Common Plantain

Common Plantain

Latin: Plantago lanceolate/major

 TCM:  Che Qian Zi (the seed), Semen Plantaginis

 It is not related to cooking plantain, a type of banana.

“The whole plant is considered medicinal and is solvent in water … an alterative, astringent, a diuretic and an anti-septic … cooling, soothing and healing … It is also sometimes used to treat diabetes, dysentery, earache, inflammation of the ear, emissions, enuresis, erythema, impotence, neuralgia, polyuria, pains of the spleen, tobacco habit, toothache, delayed urination and worms.” (Robert Thomson, in “The Grosset Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine” (1980))

It is an “astringent, anti-infective.” (Menzies-Trull in "The Herbalist's Prescriber")

An “expectorant, demulcent, astringent, diuretic … [it] has valuable healing properties … ideal for coughs … mild bronchitis … diarrhoea … haemorrhoids …  cystitis.”

” (David Hoffman in “The New Holistic Herbal”).

It is “…sweet, cold … promotes urination and clears heat … clears the eyes … expels the phlegm …” Dan Bensky and Andrew Gamble, in “Chinese Herbal Medicine Materia Medica”



By Jason Hollinger (PlantainUploaded by Amada44) [CC BY 2.0  (], via Wikimedia Commons



Latin: Portulaca oleracea

 TCM:  Ma Chi Xian

 It is “sour, cold … relieves fire toxicity and cools the blood … clears heat-damp and treats sores …” Dan Bensky and Andrew Gamble, in “Chinese Herbal Medicine Materia Medica”



Latin: Fumaria officinalis

 It is a “choleretic” for conjunctivitis. “ (Menzies-Trull in "The Herbalist's Prescriber")

A “diuretic, laxative, alterative … [it has a] long history of use in the treatment of skin problems such as eczema and acne. Its action is probably due to a general cleansing mediated via the kidneys and liver.” (David Hoffman in “The New Holistic Herbal”).



By Isidre blanc - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,



Latin: Rosa Canina

TCM:  Jin Ying Zi (Cherokee rosehip – Fructus Rosae Laevigatae)

 “Nutrient, mild laxative, mild diuretic, mild astringent …[it] provides one of the best natural and freely available sources of Vitamin C  … an excellent spring tonic and aid in general debility and exhaustion … help[s] in constipation and mild gall-bladder problems as well as the conditions of the kidney and bladder.” (David Hoffman in “The New Holistic Herbal”).

Jin Ying Zi (Cherokee rosehip) is “sour, astringent, neutral … stabilizes the kidneys, for … urinary incontinence … binds up the intestines and stops diarrhea …” Dan Bensky and Andrew Gamble, in “Chinese Herbal Medicine Materia Medica"



Latin:  Santalum album

 TCM:  Tan Xiang

 “… used internally in bronchitis, gonorrhoea, and cystitis ... also employed as an expectorant, a perfume, and for coloring and dyeing.” (Robert Thomson, in “The Grosset Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine” (1980))

It is an “anti-microbial” (Menzies-Trull in "The Herbalist's Prescriber")

It is “acrid, warm, aromatic … promotes the movement of qi and alleviates pain…” Dan Bensky and Andrew Gamble, in “Chinese Herbal Medicine Materia Medica”







By Nistha.aslp [CC BY-SA 4.0  (], from Wikimedia Commons

Squaw Vine

Squaw Vine

Latin: Mitchelle repens

It is a “utero-tonic, prostrate tonic.“ (Menzies-Trull in "The Herbalist's Prescriber")

A “parturient, emmenagogue, diuretic, astringent, tonic … It is among the best remedies for preparing the uterus and whole body for child birth … [also] painful periods … As an astringent it has been used in the treatment of colitis …” (David Hoffman in “The New Holistic Herbal”).



By Photo by David J. Stang [CC BY-SA 4.0  (], via Wikimedia Commons




 Latin: Rhus aromatica/glabra

 TCM:  Wu Bei Zi is Rhus Chinensis


“Sumac (Rhus glabra) … is important as a healing agent due to its ability to cause local inflammation by contact with it, thus drawing blood to the area.”

 (Robert Thomson, in “The Grosset Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine” (1980))

It is a “stimulating and tonic diuretic” (Menzies-Trull in "The Herbalist's Prescriber")

“Sweet Sumach is a useful astringent that is especially indicated in the treatment of urinary incontinence … [it] has a reputation for being able to reduce blood sugar …[but this is] open to debate.” (David Hoffman in “The New Holistic Herbal”).

“Wu Bei Zi (Rhus Chinensis) … gallnut of Chinese sumac … sour, salty, cold … contains … binds up … preserves … restrains … absorbs.” Dan Bensky and Andrew Gamble, in “Chinese Herbal Medicine Materia Medica”

Lady's Slipper

Lady's Slipper

Latin: Cypripedium pubescens

 It is a “meningeal vaso-relaxant” (Menzies-Trull in "The Herbalist's Prescriber")

“Lady’s Slipper is one of the most widely applicable nervines that we possess in the materia medica. It may be used in all stress reactions, emotional tension and anxiety states. It will help elevate the mood, especially where depression is present … It is perhaps at its best when treating anxiety that is associated with insomnia.” (David Hoffman in “The New Holistic Herbal”).