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   Apr 14

GP who swears turmeric helps ease aches: And she’s far from the only doctor who relies on rather unorthodox remedies

The Government’s drug regulator has approved a ‘herbal remedy’

Phynova Joint and Muscle Relief, contains sigesbeckia

The traditional Chinese herb is traditionally used to treat aches and pains

Dr Uzma Ali advises patients with aches to take a curcumin supplement

For the first time, the Government’s drug regulator – the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) – has approved a remedy containing a traditional Chinese herb.

The product, Phynova Joint and Muscle Relief, contains sigesbeckia, a herb traditionally used to treat aches and pains caused by arthritis.

‘Until now many GPs have been wary of recommending Chinese herbs, but now there is one product that we know is produced safely and at the optimum dose,’ explains Professor George Lewith, a complementary medicine researcher from Southampton University.

‘Sigesbeckia gives us another alternative to anti-inflammatory drugs which come with potential side-effects such as gastrointestinal bleeding.’

Professor Lewith doesn’t use the product himself, but says that before having hip replacements for arthritis he used another herb, Devil’s Claw, as a remedy for joint pain.

He isn’t the only orthodox doctor who recommends complementary therapies to his patients…


Dr Mike Dixon, a GP in Cullompton, Devon, and chairman of the College of Medicine, says he is a ‘fan’ of herbal medicines because they are ‘safe, help to encourage self-care by patients and, in cases such as mint and aloe vera, can be grown by the patients themselves, making them virtually free’.

‘My go-to remedy in the cold season is a herb called pelargonium, which I take as soon as I feel a cold coming as it prevents the virus replicating,’ he says.

‘I also use mint tea for indigestion and make a remedy from the lemon balm that grows in my garden to help me sleep. You just put five leaves in a cup of boiling water and leave it to brew. The remedy I most commonly suggest to patients, though, is St John’s wort. There is strong evidence that it helps in tackling mild to moderate depression. It is also a potential treatment for long-term tiredness.

‘It can interfere with the contraceptive Pill and some other medications – but it’s definitely something that I suggest patients should consider.’

Before taking St John’s wort, check with your pharmacist or GP.

Dr Mike Dixon says he is a ‘fan’ of herbal medicines because they are ‘safe’ (posed by model)


Dr Uzma Ali, an NHS GP who also works at the Integrated Medical Centre in London, explains that as a child she was always given a glass of warm milk with half a teaspoon of the spice turmeric if she fell over.

Dr Uzma Ali was always given a glass of warm milk with half a teaspoon of the spice turmeric if she fell over

‘Only now do I know why that was – turmeric contains an ingredient called curcumin which has been found to have a powerful anti-inflammatory action.

‘Now, if I see patients with problems like sports injuries, back pain, whiplash, fibromyalgia or sciatica, I suggest that they add a supplement of curcumin to their treatment – or, if they can’t take painkillers, that they use it as their primary remedy.

‘My favourite remedy is called Dehlvi’s Haldi capsules, which contain turmeric, but you can buy turmeric/curcumin capsules in health stores – or just add more to your cooking.’


Dr Tanvir Jamil, a GP at Burnham Health Centre, near Slough in Berkshire, has been treating his patients with acupuncture for years.

‘I mostly offer this to patients for pain relief – particularly migraine. If medication or lifestyle changes such as reducing stress aren’t working, acupuncture will often help. I normally give patients one session a week for four weeks.

‘I combine Chinese acupuncture – which works along energy lines called meridians in the body, that Chinese practitioners believe become imbalanced during illness – and Western acupuncture, which concentrates the needles where it specifically hurts.

‘So for migraine, I’d use the needles around the face, either side of the eyebrow, the cheek and just under the ear – along with points in the hands.

‘I decided to learn acupuncture when I was a junior doctor over 20 years ago. The evidence is good enough that the government health watchdog, NICE, recommends acupuncture on the NHS for migraines.

‘I have had acupuncture myself for neck pain in the past. Exactly how it works isn’t known but my personal theory is that it somehow stops the nerves being as sensitive to pain signals.

‘It’s a once-a-week treatment and there are no side-effects – it could save the NHS a fortune if it was used more widely.’


Every morning Dr Stefanie Williams, a dermatologist and medical director of European Dermatology London, does ten to 15 minutes of yoga and 20 minutes’ meditation at lunchtime.

‘Both help my stress levels and also benefit my skin,’ she says. ‘The stress hormone cortisol raises levels of inflammation in the skin – and this not only triggers faster ageing but aggravates conditions such as acne, eczema and rosacea.

The stress hormone cortisol raises levels of inflammation in the skin – yoga can alleviate this

‘For this reason I also advise my patients, whether they are coming to me for skin problems or merely for cosmetic procedures, to try yoga or meditation as part of their treatment plan.

‘They are often surprised by the idea, but many have experienced their skin flaring up when they are stressed, so once I explain the science behind why that happens they are very keen to include it.’

Source: Daily Mail

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