Using Essential Oils in Pregnancy

Using Essential Oils in Pregnancy

Each person and their pregnancy is different, so this can only ever be a guideline. If you have a problematic pregnancy or a history of miscarriage or difficulties you would be best to avoid essential oils in massage oils and bath oils. For those with a normal pregnancy, please remember that a lot of the safety research is done on essential oils at high concentrations. Essential oils used to fragrance face creams and cosmetics are used in tiny amounts and are very unlikely to cause any problems.

Considered generally safe (from 3 months)

Roman chamomile
Rose otto
Sweet orange
Tea tree
Ylang ylang

Mixed opinion (best to avoid if unsure)

Black pepper

Avoid using in pregnancy

Birch (sweet)
Bitter almond
Boldo leaf
Camphor (brown or yellow)
Chamomile (in early stages)
Clary sage
Jaborandi leaf
Parsley (large doses)
Savory (Summer)
Stinging nettle
Thyme (large doses)

July 03, 2021 — Shopify API

Underactive Thyroid not helped by Seaweed

Underactive Thyroid not helped by Seaweed

by Monica Wilde
17 November 2014

If a thyroid test still shows high TSH levels, despite adequate iodine intake, there may be other factors influencing your thyroid function. In fact, it might even be due to the increase of iodine transport into the thyroid and not a problem. Read more about the issues.

Many people start to take seaweed as part of their diet if they become concerned about developing an underactive thyroid. This is because an underactive thyroid can develop if you do not have enough iodine in your diet.

Ensuring you have adequate iodine in your diet is essential to prevent one of the main causes of underactive thyroid (called subclinical hypothyroidism). Sufficient iodine can be got from eating any ONE of the following EVERY day.

  • Two large eggs
  • Three large glasses of non-organic milk*
  • One and half whole mackerel
  • Half a teaspoon of seaweed
  • One Napiers Seagreens Organic Hebridean Kelp Capsule

We know from both our work with patients and also our research with Glasgow University1 that taking one Napiers Seagreens Organic Hebridean Kelp Capsule a day provides sufficient iodine to stimulate greater production of TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) in people with iodine insufficiency and low levels of TSH1.

In the first instance, without symptoms of any other conditions, it is sensible to ensure sufficient daily dietary iodine to see whether this corrects the underactivity. If it does then the thyroid imbalance has been corrected and you are now euthyroid (normal).

However, sadly in some cases taking seaweed to ensure sufficient iodine intake does not correct an underactive thyroid. This can be for a variety of reasons.

What influences thyroid test results?

TSH, free T4, and free T3 tests are just a "snapshot" of what is going on in your body on a given day and test results can vary, influenced by quite a few things. If you have an underactive thyroid gland that has not responded to seaweed intake, it may be due to a range of factors.

Severe stress can affect your thyroid test results. We often find that if someone has suffered stress over a prolonged period of time then they need more than seaweed to correct dietary imbalance but that they need support for their adrenal glands and endocrine system. This is usually done with adaptogenic herbs. If you have been very stressed it is worth consulting a herbalist for expert advice.

Being ill can affect your thyroid test results. If you have been in hospital, have had a long-term illness, have had liver disease or are recovering from a nasty illness it is best to delay your thyroid test until you have fully recovered when, typically, your thyroid hormone levels should return to normal. FT3 levels in particular can be lower than usual in a nonthyroidal illness (NTI).

Being pregnant (especially in the first three months) can affect your thyroid test results. The developing baby needs a lot of iodine as this is crucial to normal brain development. So ensure you have the best diet possible, including seaweed and other sources of iodine, vitamins and minerals, and ask to be retested later.

Some medicines may influence thyroid test results. Thjs includes aspirin, oestrogen and levothyroxine among other drugs. Make sure your doctor is aware of all medicines (including those you have bought yourself) before your thyroid test.

Thyroid dysfunction can affect your thyroid test results. Acute or chronic thyroid dysfunction may be diagnosed and very occasionally there is a problem in the pituitary gland producing unregulated levels of TSH. Your body may also have developed a resistance to thyroid hormones or there may be increases, decreases, and changes in the proteins that bind T4 and T3.

Iodine supplementation raises TSH levels.

TSH is the hormone responsible for facilitating sodium-iodine symporter. Pituitary-derived TSH has been known for decades to stimulate iodide transport into the thyroid gland via the adenylate cyclase cAMP pathway. So when you increase the amount of iodine in your diet, you may also increase the amount of TSH that enables the iodine to be imported into the thyroid gland. This is often a temporary increase. If your TSH level increases rather than decreases when you start seaweed supplementation then ask your doctor for a full spectrum of tests. As long as your thyroid hormones remain stable or improve, the TSH increase is not necessarily anything to be concerned about.

What further tests could be offered?

If your doctor has only run tests for TSH and FT4, they will probably now ask for tests for Free T3 (FT3), Reverse T3, and thyroid antibodies. If not, check that you’ve had these tests done and if not then it is worth asking for them to be carried out.

Taking levothyroxine

If your thyroid has become permanently underactive or damaged, you will have to take a thyroid hormone replacement. In the UK, the Royal College of Physicians only recommends levothyroxine which replaces T4. If you wish to try desiccated pig thyroid (Armour), which some people prefer, you will need to purchase it yourself.

When your doctor gives you levothyroxine (a thyroid hormone replacement), or makes a change to your dose, you should wait one to two months for the drug to work consistently before testing your TSH again.

It is important that when you start treatment that you do not change your diet. To suddenly withdraw seaweed and return to a diet lacking in sufficient iodine is only going to compound the issue. Unless your doctor suspects that you have an iodine sensitivity, keep taking your seaweed supplement as this is supporting your baseline health.

*Non-organic milk is higher in iodine than organic milk, because iodine is an ingredient in the disinfectant used in modern dairy milking practices and gets into the milk.

†Seaweed can sometimes, in individuals with extreme iodine sensitivity caused by conditions such as Hashimoto’s disease, lower TSH results toward overactivity (hyperthyroidism) and may have to be withdrawn on advice of a doctor. However, chelated iodine in seaweed is not absorbed in the same way as potassium iodide and some people with Hashimoto’s disease are not sensitive to the iodine in seaweed.


1. Combet E, Ma ZF, Cousins F, Thompson B, Lean ME. (2014). Low-level seaweed supplementation improves iodine status in iodine-insufficient women. Br J Nutr. 1-9. PubMed PMID: 25006699.

July 03, 2021 — Shopify API

Underactive thyroid

Tired All The Time?
Seaweed and your thyroid

We discuss the effect that a lack of iodine has on your thyroid over time.

From the talk by Monica Wilde: 'Tired and over 40? Seaweed and your thyroid'
at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 15/16 September 2013. Updated July 2014

The mineral iodine is critical to healthy thyroid function. A lack of it can cause low energy, weight gain, depression, muscle pain, coldness, constipation, heart disease, cognitive decline, and a variety of cancers. And for unborn babies, a lack of iodine in their mothers can lead to poor mental abilities, cretinism and autism. 

Did you know that the World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared that the UK has a national problem of iodine insufficiency? We are just not getting enough iodine into our bodies to remain healthy.

  • 2 billion people worldwide have insufficient iodine intake (de Benoit et al., 2007)
  • 76% of British teenage school girls and 66% of adult women test as iodine insufficient (Vanderpump et al., 2011)
  • 52% of students aged 25 tested as iodine insufficient (Combet et al., 2014)
  • 49% babies are mildly iodine insufficient (Skeaff et al., 2005)  
  • Even mild iodine deficiency during pregnancy has an irreversible impact on children’s educational outcomes in the first 9 years of life (Hynes et al., 2013)  
  • British researchers say that iodine deficiency in pregnant women in the UK should be treated as an important public health issue (Bath et al., 2013)   
  • In 2006, 12 million prescriptions for levothyroxine (50 μg or 100 μg tablets) were dispensed in England, equivalent to about 1.6 million people taking long term thyroid replacement therapy, about 3% of the population (Vaidya & Pearce, 2008)

What is the thyroid gland?

The thyroid gland is situated in the neck just below the Adam’s apple. It is part of the endocrine system and it has several critical functions:

  • To control growth and development in early life (especially cognitive)
  • To control the body’s metabolism (the rate at which your body’s chemistry functions)
  • To regulate cardiovascular function ~ how your heart works (Klein & Ojamaa, 2001)
  • To maintain homeostasis ~ body temperature (Warner & MiDag, 2012)

What does the thyroid gland do?

The thyroid gland uses iodine from your diet and produces three hormones responsible for controlling metabolic rate and promoting healthy growth and development.

  • Thyroxine (T4), a pro-hormone, which converts to T3 in the body 
  • Triiodothyronine (T3) which is required by all the body’s cells and tissues  
  • Calcitonin which works with parathyroid (PTH) hormone to maintain blood calcium levels 

What is underactive thyroid ~ Hypothyroidism?

Hypothyroidism is the condition where the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormones. This causes the body’s metabolism to run too slowly and imbalances in your body’s functions, such as homeostasis, occur.

The signs of underactive thyroid

Classic early symptoms of hypothyroidism include

  • decreased energy
  • difficulty losing weight
  • dry skin
  • thinning hair
  • constipation
  • slow heart rate
  • feeling cold all the time
  • muscle aches and pains
  • forgetfulness and cognitive decline 

What happens if I don’t look after my thyroid?

If you do not have sufficient iodine in your diet, over time you can develop an underactive thyroid. If this is not corrected it can lead to problems such as:

  • obesity 
  • goitre (de Benoist, McLean, Andersson & Rogers, 2008)  
  • melancholic depression (Davis & Tremont, 2007)  
  • dementia (Bono & al., 2004) 
  • infertility (Arojoki et al., 2000)  
  • cardiovascular problems (Klein & Ojamaa, 2001)  
  • homeostatic imbalance (Warner & Mittag, 2012)
  • diabetes (Chidakel, Mentuccia & Celi, 2005) 
  • mortality in high risk groups (e.g. dialysis patients)

There is also conclusive evidence that even mild iodine deficiency during pregnancy can have long-term negative impacts on the cognitive development of babies that is not improved by iodine correction during childhood (Hynes et al., 2013). 

Autism in children is also four times more likely if the mother had a weakened thyroid gland while pregnant (Román et al., 2013).

What causes an underactive thyroid?

  • Insufficient iodine in your diet. This leads to not enough thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) and thyroid hormones (T3, T4) being made. 
  • An auto-immune disease such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis  
  • Having no thyroid or a damaged thyroid (for example after radiotherapy or an operation) 

What is iodine?

Iodine is a mineral needed by our bodies to make our thyroid gland function properly. It can be found naturally (chelated iodine) in seaweeds, ocean fish and in milk. It can also be manufactured (potassium iodide) and added to salt or iodine supplements.

How do I treat an underactive thyroid?

Prevention is better than cure! Ensure that you have sufficient iodine in your diet to prevent your thyroid becoming undernourished and run down.

If you leave it too late to correct your iodine deficiency, or your underactive thyroid is caused by a disease or mechanical malfunction, you may need to take the drug levothyroxine sodium everyday for the rest of your life. This is currently the only treatment recommended by the Royal College of Physicians (2011). Your doctor can give you tests to find out whether your thyroid is underactive and help you determine the correct cause of treatment.

If your thyroid is borderline, or you have the symptoms and your tests are in the ‘normal’ range, you may find that increasing your consumption of iodine makes a big difference.

Where do I get iodine from?

Iodine is not often found in the soil so not found in many vegetables. It is chiefly found in the sea and produced in milk by mammals, as it is vital to the growth and healthy development of their young.

Excellent sources of iodine include:

  • Seaweeds 
  • Ocean fish 

Other sources of iodine include:

  • Milk 
  • Eggs
  • Some fortified cereals  or multivitamins

But not everyone eats enough fish or likes the taste of seaweed. So seaweed can be taken as a supplement. You can add the powder to foods or take a capsule.

Is iodine safe?

Too much iodine can over stimulate the thyroid leading to an overactive thyroid. In some people this can trigger damage to the thyroid. However, different types of iodine behave differently in the body. It is important to choose the right type of iodine and take the right amount.

Importantly, there are two main types of iodine. Potassium iodide (found in salt and supplements like Iodoral) and chelated iodine found naturally in seaweeds like kelps and wracks.

  • Potassium iodide is absorbed by the body very quickly and excreted again within three hours. This can cause short, sharp iodine spikes in the body. There are some concerns in countries with iodised salt programs that people in these areas can end up with overactive thyroids or autoimmune disease (Teng et al., 2011).
  • Chelated (natural) iodine is absorbed by the body slowly and excreted over the next three days. This creates a much more stable, steady supply of iodine for the thyroid.

So which iodine is better? 

Practitioners at Napiers the Herbalists recommend chelated iodine because it is more consistent, stable and safer in the body avoiding the spikes associated with iodide supplements. And potassium iodide in salt is not good as too much salt in your diet can lead to high blood pressure.

Napiers Seagreens Organic Hebridean Kelp Capsules contain a Soil Association certified organic, low temperature dried seaweed called Ascophyllum nodosum. Organic is important here because the sea can sometimes be a source of pollution from sewage or heavy metals. It also ensures that the seaweed is sustainably harvested and no damage done to the seabed or to marine life. Napiers is a member of the Seaweed Health Foundation and conducts research into this essential plant.

What is the right amount? 

One 500 g capsule of certified Napiers Seagreens Organic Hebridean Kelp Capsules contains 350 mcg of chelated iodine. It also contains a host of other vitamins, minerals, amino acids, nutrients including magnesium that the body needs to successfully utilise the iodine. Kelp is a complete food.

In the research (Combet, 2014), volunteers were asked to take one capsule of Napiers Seagreens Organic Hebridean Kelp a day. The researchers measured their urine, blood and iodine levels. At the beginning they found that 52% of the group (average age 25 years old) were iodine insufficient. By the end of the study period they found that:

  • chelated iodine found in knotted kelp increases urinary iodine within safe levels  
  • it corrected thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) production to normal levels  
  • the matrix structure of seaweed delays iodine absorption avoiding sharp peaks  
  • this matrix enables a more sustained release of iodine over a 3 day period 

From this, we at Napiers concluded that: 

  • sufficient iodine intake may prevent the development of hypothyroidism in some cases  
  • sufficient iodine intake may reverse symptoms of hypothyroidism in some cases
  • the slow, stable release of chelated iodine is a safer form of iodine supplementation 

What is the recommended dose?

The recommended daily dose in the UK is 140 mcg a day. (Micrograms are also sometimes expressed as ug.)

This is a low intake compared to countries such as Japan, where seaweed is a regular part of the diet. The average Japanese person consumes iodine in ranges from 5,280 to 13,800 mcg of iodine, with no harmful effects and a host of benefits.

WHO and UNICEF both recommend that pregnant women take a minimum of 250mcg of iodine a day (Azizi & Smyth, 2009).

Safe upper daily limits have been established as:

  • 1100 mcg World Health Organisation recommended safe upper limit 
  • 1100 mcg US Department of Medicine recommended safe upper limit
  • 1000 mcg UK Department of Health recommended max daily intake

One Napiers Seagreens Organic Hebridean Kelp capsule delivers 350 mcg of chelated iodine. You can take up to 3 capsules a day (equivalent to 1050 mcg iodine) and still be within the World Health Organisation recommended safe upper limit of 1100 mcg. And remember, that seaweed iodine is far gentler than potassium iodide supplements.

As 37% is excreted within 24 hours, three capsules will give an overall dosage after 24 hours of 662 mcg. This is why we have heard reports of people taking large doses, such as 6 capsules a day, and experiencing radical improvements to health conditions such as arthritis or skin problems without any ill effects.

I have a good diet, do I need a supplement?

The chances are that even if you have a good diet, unless you eat a lot of sea fish and seaweed, that you can still be iodine deficient. Other chemicals near iodine in the periodic table, such as chlorine and fluoride, displace iodine, so fluoride toothpaste and oral products and chlorinated water can interfere with the absorption of iodine from your diet.

A Danish study also found that women taking just iodised salt were not protected as well as those who took an iodine supplement (Andersen et al., 2013) nor if they took a multivitamin with only 150mcg iodine (Vandevijvere et al., 2013) which is the current British recommended daily allowance (RDA). Napiers Seagreens Organic Hebridean Kelp contains 350mcg per capsule.

Official Health Claims

The following claims have been approved in the EU Supplements Directive:

  • Iodine contributes to the normal production of thyroid hormones and normal thyroid function 
  • Iodine contributes to normal cognitive function (e.g. thinking, problem solving and memory skills) 
  • Iodine contributes to normal energy yielding metabolism 
  • Iodine contributes to the maintenance of normal skin 
  • Iodine contributes to normal functioning of the nervous system

Many 'man made' vitamins and minerals are not easily absorbed by the body so it is important to get them from natural sources that our body can digest. Seaweed is a whole, complete food that mankind has eaten since the dawn of time and perfectly suited to our bodies.

Nutrient profile

Napiers Seagreens Organic Hebridean Kelp contains the following phytonutrients:

  • Vitamins: A (antioxidant), B group (including B12, Thiamine, Riboflavin, Niacin, Pantothenic acid, Pyridoxin, Choline and Cobalamin), C (antioxidant), D (Cholecalciferol), E (antioxidant), H (Biotin) and K (Menadione).
  • Minerals: Calcium, Magnesium, Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium, Sodium, Sulphur.
  • Amino acids: Histidine, Isoleucine, Leucine, Lysine, Methionine, Phenylalanine, Threonine, Tryptophan, Valine, Alanine, Arganine, Aspartic acid, Cysteine, Glutamic acid, Glycine, Proline, Serine, Tyrosine.
  • Trace elements: Antimony, Boron, Cobalt, Copper, Fluorine, Germanium, Gold, Iodine, Iridium, Iron, Lithium, Manganese, Molybdenum, Platinum, Rubidium, Selenium, Silicon, Silver, Tellurium, Titanium, Vanadium and Zinc.

For exact amounts visit the Napiers Seagreens Organic Hebridean Kelp page.

With busy lifestyles we don't always get the nutrition we need from our diet. Under-nourishing the body, without all the nutrients it needs, can be at the bottom of a lot of health conditions from fatigue, to digestive problems and even joint pain.

Why Sustainable? Why Organic?

Many cheap commercial kelps are heated so high in the drying process, that little goodness remains. Our Napiers Seagreens Organic Hebridean Kelp is over 60% higher in all tested vitamins and minerals and contains over 60% less silica (sand!) than comparative industrially produced kelps. It is certified by the Soil Association and is free of environmental contaminants, toxic metals and microbial pathogens, to HACCP and GMP manufacturing standards and EU and USA Biodynamic® standards.

Our pure wild organic seaweed is sustainably harvested from the clear waters off the remote conservation islands of the Outer Hebrides. This method of harvesting and drying is essential in:

  • preserving the ocean - it doesn't strip out all life from the sea bed
  • maintaining purity - not contaminated with metals or effluent
  • maintaining all nutrients - through gentle drying of the seaweed

With Napiers Seagreens Organic Hebridean Kelp capsules you know exactly what you are getting.


At Napiers, our experience is that:

  1. A leading cause of hypothyroidism is iodine insufficiency in the diet
  2. Treating low levels of T4, without treating the underlying iodine insufficiency, does not make sense. This is because levothyroxine drug monotherapy does not restore a normal thyroid state in all tissues (Celi et al., 2011) 
  3. Although levothyroxine is reasonably well-tolerated, some patients do experience side effects, especially when on multiple medications, and it is a difficult drug to manufacture with consistency (MHRA, 2013) 
  4. Knotted kelp may correct urinary iodine insufficiency and rebalance TSH (Combet, 2013) 
  5. Safe iodine supplementation is necessary for optimum thyroid baseline health and to prevent the development of longer term health problems 
  6. Levothyroxine treatment should be used to treat further T4 insufficiency once a person’s iodine intake is shown to be sufficient.

Our experience in many cases, is that treating iodine deficiency by taking a seaweed dietary supplement, restores low TSH production to normal making medication unnecessary.

If the nation had a calcium deficiency of this magnitude, affecting over half the population, would we be advising people to drink more milk and eat more dairy products, or would we keep quiet and let their health deteriorate until they needed medication?

One a day, Napiers Seagreens Organic Hebridean Kelp Capsules are the answer to ensuring you have enough daily iodine to keep your thyroid healthy!

About the Author: Monica Wilde is a director of Napiers (Rickard Lane’s) with both a commercial interest in this subject and a personal interest - coming from a family with several generations of underactive thyroid. The iodine bioavailability study was funded by the Technology Strategy Board and implemented for Napiers by the University of Glasgow. 


  1. Andersen, S.L., Sørensen, L.K., Krejbjerg, A., Møller, M., & Laurberg, P. (2013). Iodine deficiency in Danish pregnant women. Danish Medical Journal, 60(7), A4657. 

  2. Bath, S.C., Steer, C.D., Golding, J., Emmett, P., Rayman, M.P. (2013). Effect of inadequate iodine status in UK pregnant women on cognitive outcomes in their children: results from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC). Lancet, 382(9889), 331-7. Bolton, S. (2005). Bioequivalence studies for levothyroxine. AAPS J, 7(1), 47-53. 

  3. Combet E, Ma ZF, Cousins F, Thompson B, Lean ME. (2014). Low-level seaweed supplementation improves iodine status in iodine-insufficient women. Br J Nutr. 1-9. PubMed PMID: 25006699.

  4. de Benoist B., McLean, E., Andersson, M., & Rogers, L. (2008). Iodine deficiency in 2007: Global progress since 1993. Food and Nutrition Bulletin, 29(3), 195-202. 

  5. Gow, S, Caldwell, G., Toft, A, et al. (1987). Relationship between pituitary and other target organ responsiveness in hypothyroid patients receiving thyroxine replacement. J Clin Endocrinol Metab, 64, 364-370. 

  6. Hynes, K.L., Otahal, P., Hay, I., & Burgess, J.R. (2013). Mild iodine deficiency during pregnancy is associated with reduced educational outcomes in the offspring: 9-year follow-up of the gestational iodine cohort. J Clin Endocrinol Metab, 98(5), 1954-62. 

  7. John-Kalarickal, J., Pearlman, G., & Carlson, H.E. (2007). New medications which decrease levothyroxine absorption. Thyroid, 17(8), 763-5. 

  8. Román, G.C., Ghassabian, A., Bongers-Schokking, J.J., Jaddoe, V.W., Hofman, A., de Rijke, Y.B., Verhulst, F.C., & Tiemeier, H. (2013). Association of gestational maternal hypothyroxinemia and increased autism risk. Ann Neurol, Aug 13. doi: 10.1002/ana.23976. 

  9. Saranac, L., Zivanovic, S., Bjelakovic, B., Stamenkovic, H., Novak, M., & Kamenov, B. (2011). "Why is the Thyroid So Prone to Autoimmune Disease?" Hormone Research in Paediatrics, 75 (3), 157–65. 

  10. Singh, N., Singh, P.N., & Hershman, J.M. (2000). Effect of calcium carbonate on the absorption of levothyroxine. JAMA, 283(21), 2822-5. 

  11. Teng, X., Shan, Z., Chen, Y., Lai, Y., Yu, J., Shan, L., Bai, X., Li, Y., Li, N., Li, Z., Wang, S., Xing, Q., Xue, H., Zhu, L., Hou, X., Fan, C., & Teng, W. (2011). More than adequate iodine intake may increase subclinical hypothyroidism and autoimmune thyroiditis: a cross-sectional study based on two Chinese communities with different iodine intake levels. Eur J Endocrinol. 164(6):943-50. 

  12. Vaidya, B. and Pearce, S. (2008). Management of hypothyroidism in adults. British Medical Journal 337(a801). 

  13. Vanderpump, M.P., Lazarus, J.H., Smyth, P.P., Laurberg, P., Holder, R.L., Boelaert, K., & Franklyn, J.A; British Thyroid Association UK Iodine Survey Group. (2011). Iodine status of UK schoolgirls: a cross-sectional survey. Lancet. 377(9782), 2007-12. 

  14. Vanderpump, M., Tunbridge, W., French, J. et al. (1995). The incidence of thyroid disorders in the community; a twenty-year follow up of the Whickham survey. Clin Endocrinol. 43, 55-68. 

  15. Vandevijvere, S., Amsalkhir, S., Mourri, A.B., Van Oyen, H., & Moreno-Reyes, R. (2013). Iodine deficiency among Belgian pregnant women not fully corrected by iodine-containing multivitamins: a national cross-sectional survey. Br J Nutr. 109(12), 2276-84.

July 03, 2021 — Shopify API

Treating Headaches and Migraines 

Treating Headaches and Migraines 

Doctors say that up to a million people in the UK have "completely preventable" severe headaches caused by taking too many painkillers and NICE* has recommended that acupuncture be used in certain cases. In my herbal clinic, I see a lot of patients who are affected by the debilitating pain of headaches and migraine and who are worried about the long-term use of conventional painkillers on their health. Migraine is one of the most frequent causes of recurrent headache and is said to affect 5% of the population. 

This debilitating headache is often accompanied by nausea, visual disturbance and dizziness. Migraines are often precipitated by an aura and many people recognise the start of a migraine with symptoms such as blurring of vision, anxiety, confusion, fatigue and numbness or a tingling sensation on one side of their body. 

Considerable evidence points to a vascular cause in migraine headaches, but more important for a sufferer is pin-pointing the underlying mechanisms that lead to the onset of a migraine, which may have many causes. 

Women are more susceptible to migraines and, often, there is a familial history to the condition. Headaches just before a period are very common indicating a hormonal link. Other factors that may lead to migraines include dietary allergies and stress. Many people come to see me looking for an alternative approach to treating their headaches, rather than taking a painkiller to relieve their symptoms when they arise. Often, they have tried conventional treatments but because the underlying mechanisms have not been addressed there is still an occurrence of debilitating symptoms. 

Feverfew is a well known herbal remedy for relieving migraines and many people find that, over a period of time, this simple remedy can often bring substantial relief, reducing the frequency and intensity of attacks. One of the traditional ways of taking feverfew is to add two fresh leaves to a sandwich each day, but this is not always possible if you dwell in the city because of the pollution from the traffic. It is available as Migraherb, a licensed herbal tablet

Underlying stress factors need to be addressed and I find a combination of herbs such as verbena, passionflower and wood betony can be helpful in relieving the stress responses that can lead to symptoms such as migraine. 

The important thing to remember is that we are all unique, and often need an individual approach to resolving health problems such as headache and migraine. It can be worthwhile trying a course of feverfew tablets, taken daily, over a few months. 

However, if your symptoms are severely debilitating or persistent, you should seek a consultation with a qualified medical herbalist who will work out a programme tailored to your own needs. 

Headaches and migraine can also be triggered by structural problems, problems related to posture or even the position you sit at when working. I will often refer a patient to our experienced osteopaths and cranio-sacral therapists for a structural assessment. As with many health conditions, the underlying cause is often multifactorial and treatment is often best approached though a number of different avenues. 

In our clinic, all the practitioners work as a health care team and we often cross refer patients to get the best possible outcome. Experienced acupuncturists are able to relieve pain and muscle tension whilst at the same time opening energy channels that can give long term benefit to migraine and headache sufferers. In most situations a five week course of acupuncture is needed to make long term changes. I often refer chronic patients for both acupuncture and osteopathy whilst they are taking their herbal medicine. 

After years of chronic migraine suffering, this multi disciplinary approach can make genuine improvements to a patient’s quality of life. Within our multi-disciplinary clinic we always try to look for affordable options for our patients and the team will work together to ensure this. 

Remember that essential oils such as rosemary, peppermint and lavender can help to clear the head and relieve low-grade headaches and tension. One additional point is that feverfew should not be taken during pregnancy. 

If you wish to use herbal treatments during this time you should seek the advice of a qualified practitioner

by Dee Atkinson MNIMH
5 November 2011

*This was taken from guidelines on treating headaches and migraines which have just been issued by NICE* (2009). NICE is the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence.

July 03, 2021 — Shopify API

Tinnitus and Medication

Tinnitus and Medication

Could your medicine be making your tinnitus worse?.

by Monica Wilde
21 September 2020

Tinnitus is unfortunately both common, annoying to say the least, and hard to get rid of. Up to 17% of young people between the ages of 12 and 18 may experience it (Lee, 2018), and it's a common symptom of around 200 diseases ranging from Lyme disease to autoimmune diseases. It can also be triggered by loud noises, getting older, a tooth extraction and even, a medication.

If you suffer from tinnitus and are also taking medication, then it might be worth checking your medications against this list collated by the American Tinnitus Association. Called 'ototoxicity' a wide range of chemicals can upset your hearing from nicotine in cigarettes to amitriptyline, antidepressants, pain relief, and even some antibiotics. If you think that a medication could be making your tinnitus worse, you may want to ask your G.P. if there is an alternative.

Here is an article written by Dr. Neil Bauman PhD, (author of Ototoxic Drugs Exposed and 'When Your Ears Ring') on the subject giving some case histories from patients. Read more here...

July 03, 2021 — Shopify API

Thyroid, Iodine and Seagreens®

Thyroid, Iodine and Seagreens®

by Dr Craig Rose PhD. The Seaweed Health Foundation. Oct 2012.

We need iodine to maintain a healthy thyroid, yet more than half the UK population has iodine insufficiency. This leads to a range of health problems, commonly put down to 'middle-age'. One of the best natural sources is seaweed, especially if it follows Seagreens® processing standards to retain the highest levels of nutrients.

The need for iodine 

Iodine is an essential mineral for normal thyroid function, mammary gland development, and foetal and infant neurological growth. Despite this, iodine deficiency is epidemic in developing countries, parts of Europe and the United States (1). This deficiency is largely responsible for an epidemic of hypothyroid-linked illnesses and breast cancer. Such illnesses are being successfully treated with high dosages of iodine equivalent to the Japanese daily intake, which are particularly high as a consequence of a diet of seafood and seaweeds. These levels of iodine intake are 50-fold greater in Japan than in the US (2). 

Iodine deficiencies in the developed world are increasing, and to epidemic proportions in the UK, with 76% of school aged girls (3) and 66% of adult women (4) being iodine deficient. 

The cost of iodine deficiencies can be significant with, for example, Germany spending one billion dollars annually in both healthcare expenditures and lost work time as a result of iodine deficiency and resultant thyroid disease (5). 

Sources of iodine 

The oceans are the worldwide repository of iodine, and very little of the earth’s iodine is actually found in soil, and therefore within terrestrial foods.

The main sources are eggs, milk (although not so much in organic milk as supplements are not given to cows) and fish. Other sources are processed foods with iodised salt added, which is an artificial way of supplementing foods with iodine, and is common practice in some countries particularly with severe deficiencies. 

By far the richest natural source of iodine is from seaweeds, which are widely consumed in Asian cultures. 

Iodine in seaweeds 

Depending on the species, seaweeds can have 10–100 times higher mineral content, such as iodine, than land-based vegetables (6), (7). 

The species of seaweed used in Napiers Hebridean Seagreens® Organic Kelp Capsuleshas relatively moderate and highly beneficial levels of iodine in their naturally occurring forms. This species is Ascophyllum nodosum (common name being Egg or Knotted Wrack), which is sustainably harvested off the coast of the Scottish Outer Hebrides using proprietary methods of production.

Following from the requirements and health benefits of iodine discussed here, research has demonstrated that Japanese women who consume a traditional high-seaweed diet also have a low incidence of benign and malignant breast disease (8), (9). On the contrary, Japanese women who consume a Western diet low in seaweed or who emigrate to the United States lose this protective advantage and gain the same risk for fibrocystic breast disease and breast cancer as their Western counterparts (10), (11). Furthermore, Japan also has a low incidence of iodine-deficiency goiter and autoimmune thyroiditis (12). Consequently, it has been hypothesized, the amount of iodine in the Japanese diet has a protective effect for breast and thyroid disease (13).

This antioxidant effect of iodine may explain the therapeutic effects of seaweed baths or iodine-rich solutions known as thalassotherapy used historically to treat ocular diseases, thyroid disease, diabetes, cardiac and respiratory disease, and arteriosclerosis (14). 

Napiers has been leading a research project with the Medical School at Glasgow University investigating the use of its products for iodine supplementation. Initial results are extremely positive, and we anticipate a full publication in a scientific journal in the near future. 

Overall, seaweeds form an essential source of natural iodine, being described as an ideal food-safe natural source of the mineral iodine (15). Iodine is proven to be highly beneficial in the diet, and significantly deficient in western diets.   

Also read Safe Iodine Levels in Napiers Seaweed Products

July 03, 2021 — Shopify API

Thyroid Health

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Thyroid and iodine infographic

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The possibility of a natural approach to HPV

The possibility of a natural approach to HPV - the human papilloma virus

Cervical cancer is caused by infection of specific types of high-risk human papillomaviruses (HPVs), such as HPV types 16 and 18 (HPV16 and HPV18). In high-risk HPV infections, continual activity of 2 early genes (E6 and E7) that are responsible for changing cells so that they tend to form tumours, is mainly dependent on the availability of an activator protein (AP-1). AP-1 plays a key role during development of cervical cancer.

A study by Prusty and Das (2004) found that curcumin, an antioxidant extracted from turmeric, not only inhibits AP-1 but it also selectively suppresses HPV genes being copied over in cervical cancer cells. This abolition of the cancer-causing HPV gene induced by curcumin, combined with AP-1 binding, can control disease-causing HPV expression during the early stages of cervical cancer.

Wogonin is a flavonoid compound found in several Scullcap species (a member of the Mint family) such as Scutellaria lateriflora (used in Western herbal medicine) and Scutellaria baicalensis (used in Chinese herbal medicine). Kim et al., (2013) demonstrated that wogonin brought about HPV-infected cervical cancer cell death by suppressing the expressions of the viral cancer-causing genes (E6 and E7).


Kim MS, Bak Y, Park YS, Lee DH, Kim JH, Kang JW, Song HH, Oh SR, Yoon do Y. (2013). Wogonin induces apoptosis by suppressing E6 and E7 expressions and activating intrinsic signaling pathways in HPV-16 cervical cancer cells. Cell Biol Toxicol. 29(4), 259-72. doi: 10.1007/s10565-013-9251-4.

Prusty BK and Das BC. (2005). Constitutive activation of transcription factor AP-1 in cervical cancer and suppression of human papillomavirus (HPV) transcription and AP-1 activity in HeLa cells by curcumin. Int J Cancer. 113(6), 951-60.

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The MRHA regulations affecting Herbal Medicine

The MRHA regulations affecting Herbal Medicine

The law concerning the sale of herbal medicines is changing. From 30th April 2011 only herbal medicines that have product licenses will be allowed to be sold across the counter. All unlicensed medicines will only be allowed to be sold by prescription, after a consultation with a qualified herbal practitioner.

The Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products Directive (THMPD) is a piece of EU legislation that is being adopted all over Europe and the UK is leading the way. It is driven by the need for public safety and as such I am in favour of it. Retailers will be allowed to sell through any unlicensed remedies that they have in stock, so it will be a few months before you notice the change.

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The Herbs of Achilles and Hercules

The Herbs of Achilles and Hercules

Stomach problems and natural health solutions for MMA fighters, boxers and wrestlers.

A high stress lifestyle can go straight to your stomach. Let's face it, it wasn't designed to regularly have adrenalin and other stress chemicals pumped into it.

Heartburn (GERD)

A research report published by the Journal of General Internal Medicine (16 Feb 2012), followed 1,600 war veterans who had been diagnosed with chronic heartburn. (AKA: GERD or gastroesophageal reflux disease.) They had all been prescribed drugs called PPIs, from a drug class called "proton pump inhibitors." This includes drugs like Prilosec (omeprazole), Prevacid (lansoprazole), Aciphex (rabeprazole) and Nexium (esomeprazole). These drugs are only designed for short-term use and after 2 or 3 months other solutions need to be found. However, in this report it was found that most veterans are still taking these drugs two years on.

Because these weren't designed for long-term use, they can cause problems long-term. For example, some prevent calcium absorption which can lead to osteopenia or your bones breaking, some have side effects like headaches, diarrhoea, trouble sleeping, high blood pressure and low libido - as if you needed more things to be stressed about! And when you come off them you will often experience 'rebound'. This is a short period when the original symptoms feel worse than ever as your body struggles to readjust again.

Instead of popping antacid chews or staying too long on PPIs you need to look at your diet - get off junk food, caffeine drinks and eat properly - reduce your stress levels and learn to love chamomile! Try Organic Chamomile Tea or Slippery Elm which comes in capsules or as a powder. Prootics and probiotics can also be helpful for some people.

Click here to read more about heartburn and GERD.


Napiers also have a wide range of high quality vitamins and supplements as well as some great Belif skincare for men and women. Napiers only stock high quality products as cheap ones that the body can’t absorb, or that are not the right strength, are a waste of money.

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The Herbs of Achilles and Hercules

The Herbs of Achilles and Hercules

Natural mental health and stress solutions for MMA fighters, boxers and wrestlers.

There is a huge amount of mental control required to fight. But being in control doesn’t mean that stress is completely avoided and it can often blow up in the safe haven of family and friends. 

Anxiety and keeping on top of it

Symptoms of anxiety include feeling shaky, suddenly overemotional, stomach churning, panic attacks, etc. It is often characterised by pacing, restlessness, nervous tics or twitches. Our licensed Valerian Tincture is the same high strength preparation that used to be given out in air raid shelters in World War 2. Civilians, who had experienced bombings, were often on edge and sometimes freaked out when they heard the drone of aircraft overhead - so they would be given valerian to keep them calm. 

These days it is mainly used before performance, exams, speeches, weddings and other situations where it is needed to act quickly without drowsiness!

Valerian can also be taken 3 times a day as a tincture when you are going through a stressful time. It is non-addictive and, as it helps to stop your mind whirring, and calm any twitchiness, it is also helpful if you're having problems sleeping. Valerian won't make you feel drowsy during the day unless you are one of 1 in 1000 people who are sensitive to it. (And don't take it when on a pub-crawl as valerian accentuates the effects of alcohol.) 

If you are sensitive to Valerian, you can use Passiflora tablets. Passiflora has also been used to help people coming off drugs and alcohol, so is good for anxiety if you are also an addictive type.

Insomnia and broken nights

Our Napiers Sweet Dreams sleep remedy combines both Valerian and Passiflora mentioned along with Hops to make you drowsy and muscle relaxants Scullcap and Jamaican Dogwood. This helps to relax not just your mind but your body as well, especially if you have been very restless at night or prone to waking at 3 am and unable to get back to sleep until dawn.

Because of its high strength, we have also had pharmacists using it to help combat the insomnia and agitation that comes with methadone withdrawal - the mix of herbs being coincidentally appropriate.

For sleep you can also take a double dose of Valerian in the evenings to wind you down or take a Valerian tablet.

Stress with fatigue and poor immunity

Sometime anxiety comes in the form of stress, when you are so physically exhausted and fatigued that it takes its toll on your mind too. You may become snappy, touchy and irritable or feel that sometimes you go blank and stupidly forgetful about things that you know. In this case a plant called Rhodiola in tablet form can help. Rhodiola is an adaptogen or 'pick-me-up' licensed by the DoH for these situations.

If your immune system has become weak and you start to catch every virus going around, or seem plagued by recurrent infections, then our high strength Elixir of Echinacea is really helpful. It combines a root extract with an antimicrobial herb called Wild Indigo. Like all our herbal medicines, it is licensed and each one comes with a proper information leaflet.

Non-addictive help for low mood

SSRI antidepressants (e.g. Prozac, Citalopram) are quite controversial. They are related to drugs like ecstasy and cocaine and literally change your brain chemistry. Some of the side effects are mild and just make you feel disconnected or surreal, but some can even make you feel more psychotic or even suicidal. And they are addictive. So when you do come off them, you need to be weaned off them slowly over a period of time. As well as being non-addictive it doesn't make you feel as spaced out and disengaged as some benzodiazepines.

If you want a non-addictive alternative to Prozac to help you through times when you are really down and not coping, you should try St John's Wort. It works for most people, unless you have very severe depression, and you can stop any time, unlike SSRI antidepressants. It takes around 3 weeks to start working at its best but some people notice a lift in mood after just a few days. They are licensed and come in St John's Wort Regular Strength and St John's Wort Max Strength. I generally recommend that you take Max Strength for 3 months, then Regular Strength. And look into other coping mechanisms like tai chi, meditation, autogenic therapy or join a group of like-minded people.

If you want to talk to a qualified herbal medicine practitioner - whether in person, by phone, Skype or Google Hangout - drop us a line at

If you are taking other medication you need to check the leaflet carefully. St John's Wort competes with other drugs for absorption by the body, so it can affect other drugs being properly absorbed - even the contraceptive pill for female fighters. The only other thing to watch out for is that in a few people (1 in 1000) taking St John's Wort can make their skin light sensitive to sunlight, some get prickly heat bumps. But this goes away as soon as you stop taking it. But it is worth trying St John's Wort if your low mood is not too severe.

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