Katie Pande, Senior Herbal Advisor and Herbalist at Pukka Herbs gave an insightful presentation on the health benefits of plants. The talk covered both well-known herbal remedies like fennel to more exotic plants like brahmi and ashwagandha.
Katie’s speech started with this statement: “It’s a journey of discovery with plants and herbalism.”
Research into plant properties is ongoing and there’s a wealth of knowledge that has been accumulated during the years, with some traditions like Ayurveda using medicinal plants for several centuries.
Pukka Herbs are on a mission to help people and the planet, both by supplying herbal remedies and by supporting producers in a sustainable way.
Medicinal herbs have many properties that are beneficial for human health:
All these compounds can bring health benefits from fighting infection to reduce inflammation.
In a study on how organic and regular plants differ (Baranski et al, Br J Nut 0514) it was found that organic plants contain a higher percentage of vitamins and minerals.
Modern lifestyle has created a nutritional gap, as stress depletes the body’s immune system while the availability of processed foods means that meals have less nutritional value than whole natural foods.
This results in high costs for the NHS: 75% of NHS costs are spent on chronic diseases while only 1% are dedicated to prevention.
Properties of Elderberry
Elderberry, according to studies, is full of antioxidants and vitamin C. It contains neuraminidase, an enzyme that helps stop viruses from attacking the cilia in our lungs. This is particularly useful to fight the flu virus.
Pukka Herbs created a syrup blending elderberry, thyme, Manuka honey and horseradish to support the immune system and help combat colds and flu while also speeding up recovery. We were given a sample and it tasted very pleasant, with a strong aromatic flavour.
Bacteria have an ability called quorum sensing to identify a dense population, which is the preferred environment for bacteria replication.
Some herbs have antibacterial and antibiotic properties as they inhibit quorum sensing; they include:
Brahmi and Ashwagandha
Brahmi is a flower with beneficial properties for brain health with the potential to help regenerate damaged brain cells. It is particularly useful to take brahmi before an exam to boost brain function and memory, and it can be of help to reduce the discomfort in trauma. Studies found that brahmi does not interfere with medication.
Ashwagandha has been tested both internally by about 30 Pukka Herbs staff and externally with about 300 cases with positive results. The results were compiled and analysed and it was found that people who have been taking ashwagandha root showed a 17.5% increase in energy levels, a 66.9% increase in sleep quality and a 42% increase in emotional health.
Ashwagandha acts on serotonin and melatonin to improve the quality of sleep.
Herbal Remedies Good for Hayfever and Allergies
Many wild plants that can be commonly found in the UK can help reduce the discomfort from allergies.