Thursday, 11 October 2018

Dr Clare GP and Medical Herbalist Talks about IBS

Dr Dilis Clare MBBCh, DRCOG, BSc (Herbal Medicine), Hon Clinical Fellow NUIG Medical School.

What is IBS?

This is a common disorder causing a wide range of uncomfortable digestive symptoms. According to Prof Eamonn Quigley (Professor of Medicine University College Cork, president of the World Gastroenterology Assoc.) more than 10% of people could be suffering from this disorder.

The common symptoms are bloating, wind, crampy tummy pain and either constipation or diarrhoea. Some people alternate between constipation and diarrhoea. It can come and go often depending on dietary factors or stress levels. It is diagnosed by excluding other more serious digestive conditions.

If you have regular or ongoing digestive disturbance it is important to have a medical check up.
What is Diverticulitis?

This is a common problem of the large bowel which is very common in the over 50 age group. Like most conditions it can present with mild problems from time to time or regular disturbance of the digestion.

There are ‘diverticula’s’ or pouches, little pockets in the bowel wall that can hold onto stale material. This material lodges in the pockets and can become hardened and act to irritate the healthy bowel wall, they can also become infected and inflamed. When this happens people describe it as a ‘flare up’.

Symptoms include pain and discomfort usually in the lower belly particularly on the left hand side. People experience loose stools, crampy pain, change in normal bowel habit and sometimes even bleeding.

If there is infection there may be fever and chills, pain and again change in normal bowel habit. There is often a feeling of being generally unwell with generalised aches and pains.

The problem is associated with not enough fibre in the diet over the years. There is too much tension in the wall of the large bowel leading to pouches being made in the wall of the gut. Rather like an overblown bicycle inner tube pushing through the weakest point in the tyre forming a pouch through the tyre wall.
Do you have bloating, wind, belching, tiredness and a fuzzy brain with a feeling of wilting especially after food?

Herbs are particularly helpful for digestive discomfort because when you swallow them they are delivered directly to the site of action. Also as the key to good digestion improved digestion makes a big impact as a feelgood factor.

Herbs have a range of restorative effects including:
Relieving spasm by restoring normal gut motility
Promoting a helpful balance gut bacteria
Moisturising an irritated gut wall
Relieving discomfort with anti-inflammatory effects.
Improving bile flow.
How do the herbs work?

I have listed the HERBAL ACTIONS according to four effects.
Antispasmodic Herbs


Chamomile is the most familiar of the helpful herbs for stress, and it is hardly surprising that it is relaxing for the digestion. The actions on the digestion are well documented and well researched. It is a wound healing herb with antimicrobial actions. So these combined actions help in a variety of ways to heal an irritated or inflamed bowel wall. Chamomile also has a gentle stimulation action on Bile flow.

Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare).

This herb is traditionally used for ‘wind’ as it relaxes the stomach and eases crampy pains. It also has anti-inflammatory effects.

Peppermint (Mentha pip.).

In addition to its’ antispasmodic effect (which is due to its volatile oil content), it relaxes the stomach allowing the release of trapped wind upwards ‘burping’. Peppermint also has a gentle effect on increasing bile flow which aids the normal breaking down of foods.
Soothing Herbs.

Mallow leaf or root (Althea rad/fol).

Mallow is the original plant source for marshmallow (before it was hijacked by sugar). It is amazingly soft and soothing; exactly what is need by an overworking gut. The irritation is lulled into a sense of security, allowing the wall to relax in response to the antispasmodics.
Pain relief

Meadowsweet (Filipendula spirea) contains natural aspirin. The word aspirin comes from this plant. However the anti-inflammatory aspirin from Meadowsweet is not irritating to the stomach. In fact the overall effect is relaxing to the stomach in particular.
How do Herbs work for me?

When herbs are swallowed they come directly in contact with the walls of the gut, allowing the gentle healing and soothing effects to work immediately. Soothing the nervous system of the gut also calms the brain.
Digestive Tea

Ingredients: Chamomile Flowers (25%), Fennel Seeds (25%), Marshmallow Roots (25%), Peppermint Leaves (25%).


Use 1 tea bag per day. With ongoing symptoms use regularly for 6 weeks, then take a break for one week. Continue use as necessary. If you need more than 3 courses of tea I recommend you see a well qualified herbalist locally.

Digestive Blend

Ingredients:Chamomile, Fennel, Marshmallow Leaf, Peppermint, Meadowsweet.


Use 5ml (1 tsp) 3 times a day as needed. With ongoing symptoms use regularly for 6 weeks, then take a break for one week. Continue use as necessary.

If you do not have access to a well qualified herbalist consults on-line consultations can be arranged with the herbal team at Dr Clare’s Apothecary Clinic consultation page.
When do I use the tea and when do I use the Tonic?

You can use either the tea or the tonic. The tonic is more convenient if you have no regular schedule or if you will not contemplate loose herb teas.

This is a personal decision depending on factors including cost, convenience and personal taste. You can also combine the two, using the tea regularly but taking the tonic for convenience if away from home or out of routine.

If the discomfort is flaring up you can use both the Digestion Tea and the Digestion Tonic together for a couple of weeks, however if the discomfort persists seek medical advice.
Why have you chosen these particular herbs?

These are a few of the many herbs used for digestive problems, but they address some of the commonest problems. If you have mild to moderate disturbance they may be all you need. If you have prolonged or serious discomfort or you have tried these simple remedies for at least six weeks it is best to seek expert advice.

How do I know that herbal preparations are good quality?

My apothecary supply the best quality herbal preparations made to approved and licensed Manufacturing Standards of Excellence (GMP). They are specially blended by me in accordance with the highest academic qualifications and extensive clinical experience.

If you do not have access to a well qualified herbalist consults on-line consultations can be arranged with the herbal team at Dr Clare’s Apothecary Clinic consultation page.

Saturday, 14 April 2018

Reflections about my Indian journey

I would not have travelled to India were it not for my youngest son who has been travelling in India for almost 6 months, realising great personal growth and having a great time.It was a wonderful time of connection and openness to new experiences.

Gratitudes for the landscape that surrounds me on the west of Ireland is the coming home feeling I am enjoying following my recent visit to Rishikesh in Northern India. Rishikesh is a small town on the Mother Ganges river which flows with fierce energy and currents through the ‘alternative yoga and meditation’ centre outside the main town. This has grown up around the initial inspiration and following of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi immortalized by the Beatles who came here at the height of their fame and celebrity, and I can understand why.

I would not have travelled to India were it not for my youngest son who has been travelling in India for almost 6 months, realizing great personal growth and having a great time.

I enjoyed daily meditation sessions with singing, dancing and blissfulness that challenged all my preconceptions about meditation. This experience shook out a lot of old energy and spring-cleaned the cupboards of my soul to let in new light and energy.

The white water rafting on the River Ganges was another highlight of my two week glimpse of a slice of India.

As I say I have returned home with a renewed energy to appreciate each moment, embrace my home landscape and connect with each person on the planet, be they in India, Africa or my next-door neighbours. We all breathe the same air and see the same stars. Sometimes we need to travel to see our own land with new eyes.

Thank you to all the kindnesses offered to strangers and wanderers, I encountered only warmth and friendliness throughout my trip.

If you would like to see an inspiring photo-gallery of Connemara landscapes see

I have followed the progress of Charlie and Dervla with their wonderful cultural centre since my return to Ireland in 1999 and they are ‘the real deal’. Connemara's landscape connects us to native medicinal herbs and plants that support our physical and spiritual healing.

Dr Dilis Clare

I had not done yoga since an introductory course ten years ago, and had only recently dipped a toe in the meditation phenomenon that is now so prevalent.

It was a wonderful time of connection and openness to new experiences.

I was very lucky to find a yoga class that was challenging but very supportive and welcoming. The practice of Satya Yoga with Rajeev was energizing, balancing and meditative as well as physically challenging.

Friday, 9 September 2016

Best poultice in the world!

I have a typical teenage boy full of hormones, 5 brain cells and the attitude to go with it! This also means that it takes a while to get that the hugely infected sore on your heel needs looking into...
He was wearing his runners without socks on a longer than anticipated walk. Subsequently his poor heel was red raw by the time he got home. To make a long story shorter, a few days later it was very tender, red and hot to touch. Inflammation was setting in. Next he got a raging fever that lasted 24 hours but I didn't know about the infection at this point. I found out the next day.

We tried hot Epsom salt foot baths for two days and clean dressings to no avail.
Now I was getting really worried.
Luckily Dr.Dilis Clare happened to walk into Health & Herbs(she wasn't supposed to be in that day) and I showed her Luke's foot(see below).

What is hard to see in the pictures is that a line of infection was starting to travel up his leg. Dilis recommended I put a poultice of slippery elm powder mixed with a blend of echinacea and calendula 90% tincture to form a paste. I applied to the heel and the line of infection. 
She also recommended some herbs to take internally because the inflammation was acute enough at this point to be in danger of him developing septicaemia or cellulitis. 
Within 48 hours the infection was totally reversed!
We continued with the herb bottle and rubbing some echinacea/calendula on the heel for a further 48 hours to be on the safe side. 
Thanks to the herbs we avoided oral antibiotics or worse.

This was last  week.
Below is today.
The poultice is also great for insect bites, healing lots of sores, cuts and other infections.
I will definitely be an important part of our first aid box from now on.
Happy health Tara.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Kale, Roasted Cauliflower & Barley Salad

Here is a recipe I made in my new 'Funky Salads Class' and it went down a treat. A great way to use your fresh kale (which I have in spades at the moment in my garden).
Kale is a super boosting vegetable packed with Magnesium, B6, Iron and B3 for energy, mood and stress support. Calms the nerves and soothes our aches. Lots of dietary fibre to keep you regular, Vitamin E for the skin and Calcium for strong bones and heart health.
Tip - if you are on thyroid medication lightly steam the kale for 2 minutes and plunge into a bowl of ice to keep it crunchy.

Kale, Roasted Cauliflower & Barley Salad
200g Barley
½ cauliflower
½ tsp turmeric
½ tsp Curry Powder
½ tsp mustard seeds
½ tsp cumin seeds
Olive oil
Sea Salt
150g Kale
½ cup Apple Cider Vinegar
1 lemon Juiced
1 medium Onion
Rice or Soya Flour
½ Red Pepper or Tomato
1 tablespoon roasted pumpkin seeds
2 tblsp tamari/braggs amino/soya sauce

What to do-
Tear the kale from the stem, into bite size pieces. Discard the stem. Place in a large bowl and add 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and a squeeze of lemon juice and toss well. Allow to marinate for 30 minutes or longer.
Wash the barley well and place in pot along with 300mls of water. Add a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, place a lid on top and simmer for 30 minutes. Rinse in cold water and drain well.
Heat the oven to Gas 7 / 220C.
Cut the cauliflower into bite size florets. Place in an oven proof dish. Add the turmeric, cumin seeds, black mustard seeds, curry powder, a pinch of salt and a tablespoon of cold pressed oil. Toss well. Place in a preheated oven on the top shelf and roast for 20 minutes until the cauliflower is tender, but not mushy. Set aside to cool.
Peel and cut the onion in half. Slice into half moon slices. Toss in brown rice flour, shallow fry in a pan or roast until crisp and browned. Remember to shake off any excess flour before frying.
De-seed the red pepper or tomato and chop into bite size pieces.
Add the prepared cauliflower, cooked barley, red pepper, toasted sunflower seeds to the bowl with the marinating kale. Toss well.
Season with 2 tablespoons of soya sauce. Add the fried onion, and toss into the salad. Serve.

By the way Barley grain is indigenous to Ireland which means our digestive systems are more tolerant to it so try to use in more in your diet. Very beneficial for kidney, bladder and heart health.

Happy health, Tara

Tara Canning NT,NCCCB,mNTOI
Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner
087 9074701

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Mindful Eating for Health and Wellbeing

Mindful eating for busy families.    

Mindfulness is the current buzzword that is the supposed answer to everything but what does it mean?
My definition includes thoughtful eating that bears in mind all the things we want our food to nourish. This includes nourishing our bodies, giving and experiencing pleasure, being sociable and even calming our souls.

It includes the blessings of gratitude in being so fortunate to have such abundance.

Above all else it is paying attention to the experience of eating. Tasting, chewing and swallowing food is an experience to be savoured.

We do this best by sitting down, choosing good food, switching off all distractions and ignoring everything that beeps, rings and disturbs our awareness.
Unfortunately we can’t switch off the children, so we need to teach them to pay attention too. Set time for regular meals, put everything you need on the table and sit down. Imaginary glue sticking you to the chair means you do not move from the table for anything short of medical emergencies!

For mums who eat left overs remember you have eaten your meal so step back from the leavings on others plates. They are not yours.

Before you eat check out how hungry you are, repeat this question before you reach for seconds.

Family meals where mother is up and down like a jack in the box or when meals are rushed increases your adrenal stress and leads to poor digestive function with too much stomach acid and speedy digestion with poor assimilation of nutrients (symptoms common with Irritable Bowel Syndrome).

Pay attention to the quality of the food, the welfare of animals you eat, the chemicals in the food chain and added chemicals in processed food and make the best choices you can within family budget constraints.

Include 7 fruit and vegetable portions per day on a regular basis and oily fish, a few nuts and seeds and avocado for Essential Fatty Acids (link to the leaflet on my website if you like)

The benefits of eating mindfully include more satisfaction, quality family time, better behaved children and a calmer household.

Herbs for calm and happy digestion include Chamomile, Fennel, marshmallow, Meadowsweet and Peppermint. These are in the Digestion Blend of Tea available online.
Open access , online series of talks including herbs for digestion and stress available via the website
Clinics in Dublin, Sligo and Galway.