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Lismore, Co Waterford.
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An Apple a Day

Though most people now associate Halloween with pumpkins, it is in fact the apple that is traditionally connected with this time of year. Halloween traditionally marked the end of the apple harvest, as it was thought that any fruits which were not picked and stored by halloween night were spat on by the pooka! In fact the apple tree has long been regarded as sacred, from its appearance in the garden of Eden to the myths and legends of the Celts, and the apple itself has often been described as ‘The Food of the Gods”.
As the old saying goes, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”, and like most old sayings there is a lot of truth behind it. Apples are full of vitamins, minerals and other important nutrients, in a form that makes them easy to digest and absorb. These nutrients are essential for keeping the body healthy and helping to prevent disease. Stewed apples are an ideal source of nourishment for young children and for anyone recovering from ill health.

As well as being packed full of vitamins and minerals, apples also contain antioxidants, which help to prevent premature ageing, cancer and numerous other health problems. The red-skinned varieties are generally richer in these nutrients than those with green skins. Apples also stimulate the liver to eliminate toxins from the bloodstream and they have a cleansing effect on the entire body. In particular, they help the kidneys to excrete excess uric acid, which can contribute to psoriasis, arthritis and gout.

The slightly acidic taste is due to the fruit acids called malic acid and tannic acid. These stimulate the digestive system and help the body to digest protein and fats. This is one of the reasons why apples are traditionally eaten with pork. The combined action of the fruit acids and soluble fibre also helps to relieve constipation, providing a very safe and natural solution that is particularly effective in children.

The soluble fibre in apples is found in the flesh rather than the skin and is called pectin. Pectin helps to lower cholesterol levels by reducing absorption from the digestive system. In addition, it reduces the absorption of toxic substances such as lead and pesticide residues. It also helps to balance blood sugar levels, which makes an apple an ideal mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack for people who experience sugar cravings.

Apples were traditionally used to treat respiratory problems and modern research has confirmed that they possess an antiviral action, which helps to prevent colds and other respiratory infections. A study conducted a few years ago also demonstrated that eating an apple a day can significantly reduce the frequency and severity of asthma attacks.

Back to School

As we enter the final week of August, the days are getting noticeably shorter and the evenings are getting cooler, as the children get ready to go back at school. For many children, especially those starting school for the first time, the changing weather, mixing with lots of other children, and the sheer stress of it all, adds up to all kinds of troublesome infections. But as the old saying goes, “prevention is better than cure”, and fortunately there are many ways to help increase the body’s resistance to infection.
Essential nutrients for a healthy immune system include selenium and zinc (both of which are found in Brazil nuts). Vitamin C is also important for resistance against infection and is found in combination with immune-boosting flavonoids in fruit and vegetables, particularly coloured foods such as blueberries, oranges and broccoli.

It is often difficult to maintain adequate doses of these nutrients from food alone. Children who buy their own lunches often make poor choices, preferring chips and sweets over healthy dinners; and those who bring packed lunches often return home having eaten very little. Therefore a good quality supplement may be an easier way to ensure a high enough level to benefit the immune system. Choose a supplement which includes a broad range of nutrients in an easily absorbable form, such as Sona Multiplus Junior, or Kangavites.

Probiotics, which are found in live yoghurt and good quality supplements (such as Udo’s Choice Children’s Blend Probiotic), also play an important role in immunity. They are particularly important for children who have taken antibiotics within the past two years

The most damaging factors for the immune system are poor diet, stress, and lack of sleep. Saturated fats, sugar, chemical food additives and caffeine all stress the immune system. These are present in many foods marketed for children, such as processed savoury food, crisps, chocolates, sweets, fizzy drinks and cordials.

It is important for children to stay active and avoid long periods of watching TV or playing computer games, but it is also important that they get enough rest and sleep. Lots of homework coupled with too many after school clubs can leave children exhausted. However, children are often unable to recognise the need to rest and can run on adrenalin which exhausts them further.

One of the most well-known herbs for enhancing immune function and preventing infection is Echinacea, which is available over the counter from pharmacies and health food stores. However, another remedy which is becoming increasingly recognized for its antiviral and immune-stimulating properties, is the common elderberry, which begins to ripen in the hedgerows at this time of year.

Elderberries, which are rich in vitamins A and C and bioflavonoids, are a wonderful tonic for the immune system and they have a specific antiviral action which helps to prevent colds, flu and other viral illnesses. They are very safe and well tolerated, and are ideal for both adults and children.

A number of scientific studies have shown that elderberries stimulate the immune system and are active against a number of different strains of the flu virus. In controlled clinical trials which compared elderberry extract with placebo in the treatment of influenza, patients taking the elderberry extract had significant improvements in their symptoms within two-three days. On average, the flu symptoms lasted about half as long in those taking elderberry extract compared with those taking the placebo

Elderberry extracts are widely available from pharmacies and health food stores. However, home-made elderberry syrup is an excellent alternative, which is very cost effective and easy to make. Simply cover 500g fresh elderberries with water and boil with a stick of cinnamon for about 5 minutes. Squash the berries to extract the juice, and strain to remove the skins. Add 500g honey or brown sugar to the strained juice and heat until it thickens. Bottle in clean, sterilized containers, and take one or two dessertspoonfuls of the syrup in a cup of hot water three times a day during the winter months as a tonic to help prevent viral infections.

AnneMarie Reilly is a qualified medical herbalist practising in Lismore. To make an appointment for a private consultation telephone 058 53200 or 087 934 5910.

By AnneMarie Reilly
BSc(hons), MNIMH, MIIMH, DipCoun


There are many different types of eczema, but atopic eczema is by far the most common. This form of eczema usually starts in childhood, most commonly in the first year, and around 10% of all children will develop eczema before the age of five. Fortunately, about two thirds of children with eczema grow out of it by the time they are seven, and three quarters do so by the time they are 16. However, eczema can persist into adulthood and even children who grow out of it can continue to have ‘sensitive’ skin as adults.

In babies, eczema can affect any part of the face or body, and often appears as oval-shaped patches of pink or red, dry, rough skin which are intensely itchy and may weep or bleed when scratched, often leading to frustration, sleep disturbance and infection of the skin. In older children, eczema most commonly affects the creases on the inside of the elbows and the backs of the knees. There may also be patches of eczema elsewhere on the body.

The tendency to develop eczema is genetic, and is linked to asthma and hayfever, but the disease itself is usually precipitated by environmental influences. The environment we live in and the stressors we are exposed to have changed a great deal in recent years, and this has caused more and more children to develop the condition.

Factors which can adversely affect the development of the immune system in early childhood, such as excessive use of antibacterial cleaning products, frequent courses of antibiotics, and stress, may increase the risk of developing eczema. Other triggering factors include anxiety, infection, allergies, pollution, household chemicals, and poor diet.

Conventional treatment of eczema includes emollient creams to reduce skin dryness, topical steroids to reduce itching and inflammation, and antibiotics for infection. While steroid creams are often quite effective in the short term, they only suppress the symptoms and can lead to thinning of the skin when used long term. Frequent or inappropriate use of antibiotics damages the immune system and causes microbial imbalance, which can ultimately make matters worse. Fortunately there are some very effective, natural and safe ways to help keep eczema under control.

It is advisable to avoid cow’s milk and other dairy products, which often exacerbate the condition, and use  rice or goat’s milk products instead. Minimise contact with pets and other animals, and ensure the home is kept as dust-free as possible. Change bedclothes regularly and wash at 60 degrees to kill dust mites and other harmful micro-organisms.

Avoid clothes made from wool and synthetic fibres, and choose cotton clothes and bed-linen instead. Avoid biological washing powders and use a chemical free washing powder such as Fairy Non-Bio or Ecover. Do not use any fabric softeners, which tend to leave chemical residues on clothes.

Keep the skin clean to help reduce the risk of infection, and use emollient creams regularly to keep the skin moist. Make sure bath water is not too hot and do not use any soap, bubble bath or shampoo. Instead, fill a muslin bag (or similar) with oatmeal and place under the hot tap while running the bath, and then add cold water until bath is the appropriate temperature. A dessertspoonful of baking soda added the bath helps to reduce itching.

Natural treatment of eczema is completely safe and generally very effective. Herbs such as Chinese skullcap  reduce allergic responses, and others such as liquorice reduce inflammation of the skin. Herbs such as  heartsease and chickweed help to reduce itching.

Useful supplements include evening primrose oil, vitamin E and zinc, which are important for skin repair. If you or your child suffers from eczema, a qualified medical herbalist can provide an individually tailored herbal prescription together with natural creams and helpful advice about diet and nutritional supplements.

For more information about natural treatment for eczema or to make an appointment for a private consultation telephone 058 53200 or 087 934 5910.

By Marie Reilly
MSc, MNIMH, DipCoun.

Herbal medicine

Herbal medicine uses plants and plant extracts in the treatment and prevention of disease. It can be used to treat almost any condition, either alone or in conjunction with another form of treatment.

The Lismore Clinic

The Lismore Clinic provides a range of safe, gentle and effective complementary and alternative therapies by professionally trained and fully qualified healthcare practitioners. The clinic provides the opportunity for individuals to address health problems in a supportive, professional and holistic environment.

The Lismore Clinic Celebrates its Fifth Anniversary!

The Lismore Clinic, which is now one of the best-known and most well established alternative healthcare clinics in the South East, has just celebrated its fifth anniversary. The Lismore Clinic was established in 2006 by AnneMarie Reilly, the first fully qualified Medical Herbalist in the South East. The clinic was opened in order to bring together the best local healthcare practitioners and to provide an opportunity for patients to address health issues in a supportive, professional and holistic environment.
Over the past five years, the clinic has become an increasingly popular choice for people looking for a safer and more natural, yet effective approach to health care. People have travelled from far and wide to the clinic in Lismore, due to the excellent reputation of the clinic and its team of practitioners. Clinic director and Medical Herbalist, AnneMarie Reilly says, “Working at the Lismore Clinic is really the most rewarding thing I have ever done. We have an outstanding team of skilled and experienced practitioners who work very well together. To see mothers who haven’t slept for weeks leave with contented little babies after a craniosacral treatment, to see elderly people with arthritis experience relief from chronic pain with herbal medicine and chiropractic, to help infertile women to conceive… it really is a wonderful experience.”

As more and more people discover that modern medicine has its limitations, various forms of complementary and alternative therapy are springing up all over the place. This has had an extremely positive influence on the health and wellbeing of many individuals, but some people sadly fall victim to unscrupulous practitioners. As the law stands, any individual can practice any form of therapy they choose with very little or no training. Some of these therapies can be quite dangerous in the hands of an untrained individual, while others have no scientific evidence to prove that they have any effect at all.

The Lismore Clinic was established in order to provide only those forms of alternative healthcare that are thoroughly researched, effective, and well established. At the same time, all of the therapies are natural and safe forms of treatment, which encourage the healing processes within the body rather than simply treating the symptoms. The treatments all complement each other and can either be used alone, or in combination with other forms of treatment or with conventional medicine, for the benefit of an extremely wide variety of health problems.

All of the practitioners at the Lismore Clinic are fully trained and experienced in their particular form of treatment. Each practitioner is also registered with an appropriate professional body, which imposes strict codes of conduct. Patients who visit the Lismore Clinic can be assured they are in the hands of a trained professional who will act in a responsible manner at all times, including referring patients to a doctor or another therapist if this is required.

The range of therapies includes Herbal Medicine and Nutrition, McTimony Chiropractic, Chiropody & Podiatry, Acupuncture, Reflexology, Craniosacral therapy, Massage, Counselling & Psychotherapy, and Art Therapy. Advice is always available about which form of treatment or combination of treatments would be most suitable, and the team at the Lismore Clinic can also work together, to achieve the best results for their patients.

For example, an individual suffering from back or neck pain can avail of chiropractic to ensure the spine is correctly aligned, massage to help relax muscle tension, and herbal medicine to relieve pain and inflammation. A person suffering from emotional difficulties may combine herbal medicine with counselling or art therapy as an alternative to taking antidepressants. Babies with colic can be effectively treated using a combination of craniosacral therapy and herbal medicine to relieve symptoms.

AnneMarie Reilly concludes that “The Lismore Clinic has achieved a great deal in its first three years. Even in these difficult times, the clinic is still very busy because people are more concerned than ever about staying healthy. Individuals are worried about the impact on their jobs and businesses of taking a lot of time off work. I would like to thank all of those people who have supported the clinic during its first five years, especially the talented and dedicated team of practitioners who make the clinic the special place that it is; and of course to all the people who have visited the clinic to whom I wish continued good health.”

Surviving the Festive Season

With just over a week to go until Christmas, the excitement is mounting. However, for many people the Christmas season is a difficult and stressful time. Fortunately there are lots of ways to make life a little bit easier…

Well-Being Day

The Lismore Clinic will be holding its first annual “Well-Being Day” on Sunday 29th January from 2-5 p.m. There will be free information and talks about simple and natural ways to reduce stress and improve your emotional well-being. We look forward to seeing you there!

Botanica 2014

AnneMarie Reilly, Medical Herbalist at the Lismore Clinic will be giving a lecture on the treatment of functional infertility in women with herbal medicine at Botanica 2014, which takes place at Trinity College, Dublin from 5th-7th September.