Shed Your Winter Coat

Shed Your Winter Coat

We're on day 3 of getting ready for the Big Spring Equitox...

Patricia Clarke Dip. Nat. Nut.and
Angela MacRitchie Dip. Nat. Nut.

As Spring Equinox is the best time for a detox, we're following the detox plan devised by Patricia and Angela, our naturopathic nutritional therapists. We're totally behind the saying 'failing to plan is planning to fail' so we're getting ready this week, ready for success! 

In Scotland we have a saying: Nae cast a clout til May is oot. It basically means don't go out without your coat until the end May - in case of a sudden shower or a late flurry of snow. However, one of the first signs of spring is when animals start to shed their winter coats and take on a sleeker appearance. We love the symbology of leaving our coats behind and embracing the new season, both mentally and physically.

We are getting psyched up and prepared for this year's Equitox by cleaning out and decluttering the cupboards, and preparing mind, body and our environment. Making the most of our natural circadian drive for a fresh, new, clean spring time.

Preparing your mind for Equitox

The first place to start shedding your winter coat is addressing your frame of mind. Assemble your thoughts and ask yourself why you are doing the Equitox. Be clear about your intentions whether your goal is to have a fresh and revitalised body and mind or whether it is to lose weight or just feel amazing. Whatever your goals are, knowing the reason behind your commitment to a Spring detox is helpful for a positive mental attitude, as well as feeling empowered.

Preparing your cupboards for Equitox

Start clearing the cupboards of the foods that “tempt” you and are not be supportive in this time of the detox.

These foods include coffee, alcohol, tobacco, red meat, sugar, gluten, dairy, processed and junk foods. Replace them with good foods. In the next few days, focus on reducing restricted foods from your diet so that, by the time we all start Equitox on Sunday, you are rearing to go with wholesome fresh and good quality foods consisting of: plenty of fresh, organic fruit and vegetables, organic and free range fish, white meat, eggs, seeds & nuts, wholegrains, filtered water.

Tip the balance of your diet in the upcoming days from lifeless to energising foods.

Think about recycling and decluttering the cupboards and diet to focusing on invigorating and renewing. The sooner you start to accustom your body to the changes in diet required by the detox, the more comfortable you will be over the next 14 days of the detox.

Start looking for local health stores or farmers markets that have a good selection of organic foods. If buying organic is not possible, get a fruit and vegetable wash to rid them of pesticides and other nasty chemicals. 

Foods to transition off in the next few days …..

  • Red meat, sausages, burgers and pate. Use organic chicken and turkey.
  • Dairy products
  • Butter, margarine, hydrogenated fats – use olive oil or cold pressed vegetable oils such as flax or hemp.
  • Wheat including bread, biscuits, croissants, cakes, pies, pastry, quiche, battered or breadcrumbed foods.
  • Crisps and savoury snacks including salted nuts, chocolates, sweets, jams and sugar.
  • Processed foods, ready meals, ready-made sauces and takeaways.
  • Alcohol, coffee, tea.
  • Sauces, pickles, shop bought salad dressing, mayonnaise.
  • Fizzy drinks, squashes, including diet versions.

Foods to embrace and eat plenty of …

  • Fresh fruit, fruit juices & vegetables
  • Sprouted seeds, beans, lentils & other pulses
  • Wholegrains – oats, brown rice, rice noodles, quinoa, millet, corn, barley & rye.
  • Oat cakes, rye  rackers, corn crackers, rice cakes.
  • Fresh fish
  • Unsalted, unroasted nuts and seeds.
  • Live natural yoghurt
  • Extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice for salad dressings.
  • Sulphur rich foods – cabbage, garlic, onions, leeks, kale and eggs to support liver detoxification.
  • Garlic, ginger, ground pepper and fresh herbs.
  • Water – at least 2 litres a day filtered or mineral water from glass bottles.
  • Herbal or fruit teas – good detox teas. See our Detoxitea or dandelion, nettle, celery seed, fennel, liquorice, ginger and peppermint.

Preparing your emotional wellbeing for Equitox

Keep a journal during this Equitox. Here are a few questions to ask yourself and purge negative feelings if they arise:

  • Are you experiencing yourself getting stuck in toxic thought patterns?
  • Can you access joy within? Are your moods very low or depressed?
  • What are you ready to let go of at this time?
  • What would you like to experience on a mental and emotional level?

These are the questions to come back to during your detox time. 

Preparing your environment for Equitox with a digital detox

  • Electromagnetic radiation – reduce the amount of radiation during the Equitox. Let the body rest more and not be overstimulated by TV, radio, phones and computers.
  • Mobile phones – Even though it is difficult in this day and age to do without a mobile phone. Try to reduce the hours the phone is switched on in the day. Switch your phone off at night or leave it in another room.
  • Revive the art of conversation at the dinner table and family time when we're really present to each other.

We will go through some of the above topics in more detail during the Equitox. In the meantime, take heart, and shed your winter coat of tiredness, fatigue, aches & pains, food cravings, headaches, rashes and skin problems. Enjoy the new energy that Spring brings and embrace the Spring Equitox feeling of wellness, better digestion & elimination, weight loss, improved skin tone and mental alertness.

Angela MacRitchie

August 03, 2021 —

Put a Spring in Your Step

Put a Spring in Your Step

So, what is a detox and why should I do it?

Patricia Clarke Dip. Nat. Nut.and
Angela MacRitchie Dip. Nat. Nut.

After our research herbalist Monica Wilde decided that the Spring Equinox was the best time for a detox, Patricia and Angela, our naturopathic nutritional therapists got together with her to devise the healthiest approach. Here they outline what a detox is all about and what it involves. 

A detox is a time where we commit to eating and drinking in as healthy a way as possible to reset our vitality and good health. We support our detox organs (our liver, kidneys, colon, skin and lungs) with the aim of rebalancing and recharging our bodies to gain optimal health.

Our bodies are designed to detox naturally, through our detox organs, to get rid of toxins, and indeed some people think it isn’t necessary to go through a dedicated detox programme.

Toxins are produced as a result of our internal bodily functions. Yes, that’s right, our bodies produce toxins when they are busy burning fuel for energy, repairing tissue and replacing burnt out or dying cells. 

Our bodies are not the only producers of toxins though, we also accumulate toxins from our environment, including: smoke; smog; heavy metals; food and drink; UV radiation.

So, we are surrounded by toxins: air pollution outside and within our homes, drugs in our livestock; heavy metals in our oceans; pesticides in our vegetables; even medications and supplements designed to keep us healthy can build up a toxic load.

Our body can start to struggle with the level of detox it must carry out, especially in our modern world, so a dedicated detox programme can be helpful to support this natural process.


The programme is about enhancing our natural detox capability and it will focus on healthy organic wholefoods with some supplements recommended to support your organs. There will be additional posts throughout to give more information on specific foods and lifestyle advice (more information below).

We will avoid: gluten; dairy; sugar; red meat; ‘processed’ and ‘junk’ foods; coffee; tobacco and alcohol.

Don’t panic – that still leaves a surprising amount of good quality food to include!

We will focus on: plenty of fresh, organic fruit and vegetables, some good quality organic and free range fish, white meat and eggs; seeds & nuts; wholegrains; filtered water.

You will get a meal planner, recipes and a supplement planner so you know step by step what you should eat and when. There will also be a shopping list provided, so that on Saturday 17th March you can easily stock up for your 12-day detox, starting on Tuesday 20th March - on the Spring Equinox.

The supplements recommended are available at Napiers in Glasgow at 61 Cresswell Street, G12 8AD or call 0141 339 5859 to order by phone.

The meal planner is split into three sections. On days 1-5 you eat solid, wholefoods; on days 6-9 you focus on liquid and blended foods with a snack being your only solid food intake so your give your digestive systems a break to recuperate; on days 10-14 you introduce more solid wholefoods again.


There are a wide range of symptoms which may indicate you would benefit from a detox. These include:

  • Tiredness and fatigue

  • Muscle and joint aches and pains

  • Sinus issues

  • Headaches

  • Bloating, gas

  • Constipation and/or diarrhoea

  • Heartburn

  • Sleep problems

  • Food cravings

  • Water retention

  • Trouble losing weight

  • Rashes and skin problems

  • Puffy, dark circles under your eyes

  • Premenstrual syndrome

  • Bad breath

  • Difficulty concentrating


After a detox you may experience your:

  • Liver functioning optimally resulting in less bloating, nausea and indigestion.
  • Intestinal rebalancing leading to a reduction in constipation, gas and cramping.
  • Lymphatic system shifting to a higher gear meaning less frequent colds and flu, more energy, and a reduction in blemishes and puffy eyes
  • Lung function being more optimal reducing clogged sinuses, congestion and nasal drip
  • Kidneys stopping being overworked and under-functioning leading to urinary problems clearing.


Please don’t attempt a detox if you are pregnant or nursing, under 18 or have a severe medical condition. Check with your doctor, if you are not sure. If you are currently on medication, ask your doctor before starting this, or any diet program.


Along the way, we will put the spotlight on certain foods or support activities including:

Shed your Winter Coat

Revitalise your skin and lymphatic system

Exercising a Fresh Start

Overcoming Obstacles

Love your Liver

Eat Your Veggies

Sweet Sweet Sleep

Go Nuts


Spice things up

Let's sweat

Embrace fibre

Say no to negatives

Go Green

Drink Yourself Clean

You will have a chance to let us know how you are getting on through Facebook and can ask any questions you need to. More will be posted here over the weeks to come

Enjoy the journey and embrace your good health!

Angela MacRitchie


More information

Read more tips and articles to help and inspire you to keep to the Equitox plan here.

August 03, 2021 —

Are Prescription Drugs affecting your Sexuality?

Are Prescription Drugs affecting your Sexuality? 

by Monica Wilde
January 2015

If your libido is low, you've lost interest in sex or if you are experiencing problems such as male erectile dysfunction or female lack of arousal, don't just try to bury the issue, feeling stressed and depressed about it. It may well be that a prescription medicine that you are taking is to blame!

In the clinics and via our help desk, we are often asked about the safety of herbal supplements for loss of libido, erectile dysfunction and other problems affecting both male and female sexuality. I haven't analysed this but suspect that in about 90% of cases the underlying issue is that the enquirer is taking a prescription medicine for which sexual dysfunction is a known side effect. And often not just one, but two or three, leading to a compound effect that not even the most potent sexual enhancement pill could negate. Herbs like Damiana (Turnera diffusa), Horny goat weed (Epimedium sagittatum), Tribulus terrestris, Maca, do help to increase libido although they are not instant fixes like sildenafil (commonly known as Viagra). There are however a couple of points to note.

Firstly, if you buy it please do make sure you are buying it from a reputable supplier. A lot of 'natural' enhancement supplements come in from Asia and are herbs deliberately mixed with (contaminated by) cialis, sildenafil, caffeine and other stimulants by companies wanting to make a quick buck under the "natural" label. Like nightclub "party drugs" its a gamble as to what has been put in it - sometimes you'll be ok but sometimes you're not so lucky.

Secondly, be aware of any other medications, (including prescription medicine, over the counter medicines and supplements) that you are taking as there is the potential for them all to interact and cause unwanted side effects. For example, if you take horny goat weed (pictured) concurrently with a drug to lower your high blood pressure, then you need to watch that your blood pressure does not become too low as there may be a cumulative effect. Some herbal boosters come in very high doses and can cause dizziness. Dizziness is also a known side effect of some heart drugs so read your medicine label first and if it also causes dizziness then be very careful. Damiana will also lower blood glucose levels and should be treated with caution if concurrently taking diabetes medications.

However, it is futile to take a herbal libido preparation if the effect is completely counteracted by any prescription drugs that you are taking. Many drugs, including the widely prescribed Omeprazole and Simvastatin, are known to cause impotence, erectile dysfunction and loss of interest in sex, as recorded side effects. We get a lot of enquiries from both men and women where omeprazole in particular is the culprit. If you are taking 2, 3 or more drugs with this side effect then any issues you may be experiencing will be compounded. There is little point taking any herbal booster while still taking these drugs, as it is likely that nothing will happen - the herb being 'outnumbered' so to speak and any effect will be cancelled out.

Many of the common prescription drugs do have natural alternatives that don't have these side effects. Hawthorn reduces high blood pressure, strengthens the heart muscles and dilates blood vessels, red rice yeast and policosanol reduce cholesterol, willow herb & nettle root are excellent for enlarged prostate and there are at least seven particularly effective herbs in the treatment of GERD/GORD instead of omeprazole.

Our recommendation

We DO NOT recommend though that you just stop taking your prescription medicines and start self-dosing.
We DO recommend that:

  • If you prefer to stay on prescription drugs, speak to your doctor about the side effects and ask him or her to look into switching you to another medication with less side effects. This may take a bit of trial and error as no drug manufacturer may have ever tested your particular cocktail of drugs together.
  • Alternatively, go and see a qualified medical herbalist. We can help you find a qualified herbalist in your area or arrange for a telephone consultation if there is no herbalist near where you live. They are properly trained and can help you (ideally working with your doctor if you have a cooperative doctor) to find the right balance for you. This may well be a combination of less drugs, but with some herbs to provide the other supporting therapy. This is a really worthwhile investment in your health as taking lots of different drugs together can really decrease your quality of life in your older years.

Below is a chart of prescription medicines with known side effects on libido and erectile function.




MAOI antidepressants
(eg moclobemide, phenelzine)
Depression Decreased sex drive, impotence, delayed orgasm, ejaculatory disturbances
SSRI antidepressants
(eg fluoxetine)
Depression Decreased sex drive, impotence, delayed
or absent orgasm, ejaculatory disturbances
Tricyclic antidepressants
(eg amitryptiline)
Depression Decreased sex drive, impotence, delayed
or absent orgasm, ejaculatory disturbances




Carbamazepine Epilepsy Impotence




ACE inhibitors
(eg enalapril, lisinopril)
High blood pressure, heart failure Impotence
(eg prazosin, doxazosin)
High blood pressure, enlarged prostate Impotence, ejaculatory disturbances
(eg atenolol, propranolol and including timolol eye drops)
High blood pressure, angina, glaucoma Impotence
Calcium channel blockers
(eg verapamil, nifedipine)
High blood pressure, angina Impotence
Clonidine High blood pressure Impotence, decreased sex drive, delayed or failure of ejaculation
Methyldopa High blood pressure Impotence, decreased sex drive, ejaculatory failure
Thiazide diuretics
(eg bendroflumethiazide)
High blood pressure Impotence




(eg chlorpromazine, thioridazine)
Psychotic illness

Ejaculatory disturbances, decreased sex
drive, impotence

Risperidone Psychotic illness Impotence, ejaculatory disturbances




Fibrates (eg clofibrate, gemfibrozil) High cholesterol Impotence
Statins (eg simvastatin) High cholesterol Impotence




Benzodiazepines Anxiety and insomnia Decreased sex drive
Cimetidine Peptic ulcers, acid reflux disease Decreased sex drive, impotence
Cyproterone acetate Prostate cancer Decreased libido, impotence, reduced
volume of ejaculation
Disulfiram Alcohol withdrawal Decreased sex drive
Finasteride Enlarged prostate Impotence, decreased sex drive,
ejaculation disorders, reduced volume
of ejaculation
Metoclopramide Nausea and vomiting Decreased sex drive, impotence
Omeprazole Peptic ulcers, acid reflux disease Impotence
Opioid painkillers (eg morphine) Severe pain Decreased sex drive, impotence
Prochlorperazine Nausea and vomiting Impotence
Propantheline Gut spasm Impotence
Spironolactone Heart failure, fluid retention Impotence, decreased sex drive
August 03, 2021 —

It's the Spring Equinox.

It's the Spring Equinox.

Spring has sprung. Birds are nesting and it's finally time for a 'equitox'. At 4:15 on the 20th of March take a moment. It’s the Spring Equinox. Joy!

by Monica Wilde MSc FLS
Research herbalist & forager

Tuesday March 20th is the Spring Equinox. This means that finally there is exactly the same amount of daylight as there is darkness each day. The light is returning. The winter days are receding. The darkness and blues are behind us and summer beckons on the horizon.

Have you noticed how many green shoots are coming through? Ground elder, comfrey, chickweed, sorrel, nettles, dandelion. I’m being woken up each morning by the birds chattering away at full volume, advertising on bird ‘Tinder’ and planning their nests. Out in the town I’m seeing a spring in everybody’s step. We feel more cheery – well until we read the news. We’re brighter, happier and our energy is returning.

It’s no coincidence that it’s also Lent, traditionally a time for fasting. Hmm. Fasting, dieting, detox. These words usually just remind me of past, failed New Year’s resolutions. But no more. I doubt you even noticed this, but, amongst the clamour of January detox headlines and media posts, here at Napiers, in January we did not say a single word about detoxing! Yes not a single “New Year, New You” post. For a very good reason. January is in the middle of winter and that always doomed my best-hatched plans to failure!

I want you to come back in time with me for just a few minutes. Think about our pre-farming ancestors, and really think about how we survived the winter? How were our bodies nourished in the spring? Where did the tradition of a spring fast – a spring cleanse – come from and why do I believe that it’s still relevant today?

Let’s leave the twenty-first century for a while and imagine what was going on in our foraging past – in our wild state. Those of us who were going to survive the winter would have worked hard in the autumn. We collected lots of nuts – Scottish Neolithic archaeological sites turn up mounds of hazelnut shells – and probably some primitive grass grains to store up and help us through the winter. We’d have found shelter from the worst of the storms and snow in the forests among the warmth of the trees. We’d have hunted deer, rabbits and other non-hibernating animals and dug up roots such as dandelion, wild burdock, wild carrot, etc. when the ground wasn’t frozen. Fruit was an autumn memory - the last of the bilberries, blackberries, rosehips eaten by us and the birds. So few of our calories would have come from sugar, even fructose (fruit sugar) unless we’d found some late haws or sea buckthorn berries, or had raided a wild bees nest for its honey. From what was available, our winter diet would have been primarily protein, fats and carbohydrates.

We wouldn’t have gone far from our shelters as this burnt up calories, a dangerous game unless you were sure of a meal at the end of the trip. So we would probably have spent a lot of time snoozing or cuddled up, restricting the amount of calories we used. Cave couch-potatoes – except that we hadn’t discovered spuds at that point! And after a few months of it we’d have had ‘cabin fever’ big time. After a diet of rough grain gruel, boiled roots, nuts and occasional meat, we’d have been longing for fresh greens and dreaming of salads in our caves.

How we would have rejoiced in the Spring! That’s why the Spring Equinox was such a special festival. Not just because of the light and the warmth of the sun on your skin again. Come Spring the plants burst into leaf again. And, all the new growth – the young nettles, cleavers, dandelion, thistle stems, seaweed fronds, etc., are either diuretic, mildly laxative or lymphatic cleansers. Now, when you go out and forage as I do, you’ll notice that you naturally enter a Spring Detox phase. Nature’s new growth stimulates our metabolism, the digestive system and awaken our bodies as we change our diets away from winter fare and stop eating carbohydrates. What sensible forager would dig up a root when it was providing fresh salad vegetables?

Medical research nowadays shows that intermittent fasting is actually good for us. It helps to protect our cells against age-related diseases, improves heart health in the same way as aerobic exercise does, improves brain health (the brain is the only organ that doesn’t shrink in size during prolonged fasting as we need our wits about us).  So yes, after Christmas I started to cut down on calories but not to any extreme. January and February are just too cold and dark to find the enthusiasm to go against my body’s natural drive. But now. Now is different. Spring is in my soul and I’m actually craving the pleasure of detoxing. Getting rid of the last of the winter weight, casting off the sluggishness, stimulating my senses again.

So that is why, this year, I decided to get off the January detox bandwagon and share my own insights from the natural world with you. I’ve asked two of our nutritional therapists, Angela and Patricia, to also share their tips over the next few weeks so follow us on Facebook and Twitter or on our website here to see what we’re up to. Join me – I’ll certainly be doing this too as I know several kilos have to come off! But this is so much more than weight loss. It’s about feeling reenergized. It’s about using your own inbuilt seasonal drive and harnessing your natural circadian rhythms to reboot after the winter and feel amazing. And the Spring makes it so much easier!

Join us on this journey from Tuesday 13th to Saturday 31st March. 
The detox will start on Tuesday 20th March for 12 days and complete on Saturday 31st March.

Best wishes and a Happy Spring Equinox!


August 03, 2021 —

Cinnamon ointment for new mums

Had a baby recently? Amazingly the spices lurking at the back of your kitchen cupboard can relieve pain and help you sit comfortably again! 

by Monica Wilde
October 2014

A common, everyday kitchen spice can help to relieve pain after an episiotomy or tear, and make your stitches to heal faster after you've had a baby. Little did you know it, but that half-used jar of cinnamon in your cupboard could come in handy in more ways than you thought. Research shows that it helps cuts and scars to heal faster with less pain. Here's the low-down on the research and a handy recipe for you to make at home.

As a mother of 3 children (all natural births) I was fascinated to read these interesting results from a clinical trial1 testing a natural ointment that relieves pain and discomfort caused by an episiotomy (the cutting of skin during childbirth). 
Actual episiotomies in the UK have come down dramatically in the last few decades to around 8% of births2 but in other parts of the world it can still be much higher - 43% is the average in Asia and in Iran it is as high as 100% of hospital births. 

More commonly, women experience a painful tear in the perineum (the skin between the vagina and the anus) that requires stitching. Perineal tears are experienced by 41% of women in the UK. If you are younger this is more likely to affect you as 42% of deliveries in women aged 15-24 have perineal tears compared 30% of deliveries by women aged between 40 and 49 years of age. 

Commonly the area around the stitches can be red, painful and very tender. Sitz baths were traditionally recommended. These are warm water baths in a bidet or washbasin (4-5 inches of water) with salt or baking soda added, as salt water seems to help.

However, in this randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial, the researchers found that perineal pain in women who have had an episiotomy is about fourfold compared to those who didn't have one. This pain negatively affects many aspects of a woman’s life including breastfeeding, child care and daily work. The period directly after a child is born is a sensitive time when new mums have to juggle their own recovery while dealing with the needs of their babies. Effective pain relief is a major aspect of postpartum care that can positively affect a woman’s life. Many women prefer not to take pain-relieving drugs especially when they are breastfeeding.

Now scientists have found that a simple kitchen spice, cinnamon, speeds up healing and reduces pain much quicker than a placebo ointment. Cinnamon is already known through other studies to have numerous properties including anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antimicrobial, analgesic (pain-killing) and wound healing. It is also widely available and not known to have any negative side effects unless it is used in high concentrations.

In aromatherapy massage, a safe and effective dilution is considered to be 2% cinnamon leaf or bark essential oil to 98% carrier oil. (It is never used above 3% to avoid skin irritation.) Interestingly, the clinical trial used the same strength giving their patients an ointment containing a 2% cinnamon extract - although their cinnamon extract was made from an evaporated cinnamon tincture. 

Their patients were given the ointment for the first time about an hour after the episiotomy had been repaired. They were then instructed to use it twice a day for 10 days.

After 10 days the researchers found that healing was far faster in the group using the cinnamon ointment and also that these women had experienced less pain, with less resort to taking painkillers.


A Cinnamon Ointment Recipe

We thought we'd create an ointment recipe based on this research that you can make and use at home. The following will make two small tins or one 50g pot. We like using calendula oil as it has incredible skin repair and healing properties of its own. However, plain sunflower oil will be fine if you can only get to a local supermarket.

40 g (45 ml) Calendula oil or Sunflower oil
10 g Beeswax granules or pellets
1 g (10 drops) Cinnamon leaf or bark essential oil

Directions for making 

Melt the beeswax into the oil in a double boiler (bain marie) over a gentle heat. This can also be done in a pyrex (hardened glass) jug on a very low microwave setting.

Remove from heat and add the cinnamon essential oil. Stir with a clean spoon to mix.

Pour into little tins or jars. Leave to cool (do not move them while they are hot) in a safe place out of reach of little hands (or paws!). When it has cooled it will harden to a lovely buttery consistency.

Always remember to add a label.

This will make a lovely present for an expectant mum.

Directions for use

Wash your hands and perineum thoroughly and dry it with a clean tissue before using the ointment. Wait 1 to 2 minutes for the area to dry thoroughly. Then put a 2 cm length ointment onto the area where the stitches are using a sterile pad. Apply every morning and every evening for at least 10 days.


1. Mohammadi, A., Mohammad-Alizadeh-Charandabi, S., Mirghafourvand, M., Javadzadeh, Y., Zahra Fardiazar, Z., & Effati-Daryani, F. (2014). Effects of cinnamon on perineal pain and healing of episiotomy: a randomized placebo-controlled trial. Journal of Integrative Medicine. Epub ahead of print.

2. NHS Maternity Statistics - England, 2012-13. (2013). Health & Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC), UK. Accessed online 28 October 2014: 


If you are pregnant it is not a good idea to use cinnamon oil before your baby's birth. Cinnamon can induce uterine contractions, which in a vulnerable mum may cause miscarriage.

August 03, 2021 —

Vitamin D, the Sunshine Vitamin

Vitamin D, the Sunshine Vitamin

by Patricia Clark
Nutritional Therapist

Our Nutritional Therapist, Patricia Clark Nat. Nut., BANT., takes a look at a vitamin that we can't make without sunshine. Vitamin D is a particularly important vitamin for us here in Scotland, as the low levels of light during the winter months make getting enough of this vital vitamin extra important.

You have probably heard of vitamin D being referred to as the ‘sunshine vitamin’. This is because it is produced when your body is exposed to sunlight. Vitamin D is unlike other vitamins because your body is able to produce it, so you are not reliant on getting it through the food you eat. What also makes vitamin D a little bit different is that when your body produces vitamin D it converts it into a hormone called calcitriol (which is often referred to as the biologically active form of vitamin D). Hormones are like chemical messengers which travel around the body and control how our organs and cells work. It is for this reason that vitamin D is important to the smooth running of so many different processes in your body. Research is showing that vitamin D deficiency affects much more than bone health, which is why it is fast becoming known as a ‘super nutrient’.



There are two ways we get vitamin D naturally: from the sun (vitamin D3) and from your food (vitamin D2 and vitamin D3). Vitamin D3 and vitamin D2 are sometimes both just referred to as vitamin D. In fact, vitamin D3 and vitamin D2 are both biologically inactive precursors of vitamin D.



When your skin is exposed to ultraviolet B (UVB) light from the sun you use a substance called 7-dehydrocholestrol to make vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol). Your body then converts this into the biologically active form of vitamin D (the hormone, calcitriol) for use in many different functions in the body.

Your skin can naturally produce approximately 10,000iu of vitamin D in response to 20-30 minutes summer sun exposure. Having said that there are a number of different factors which will influence the amount of vitamin D your skin will produce.

Melanin (the dark pigment in your skin) is a natural sunscreen which absorbs UVB light and lowers the production of vitamin D3. Sunscreen works in a similar way to absorb UVB light and also reduces the amount of vitamin D3 you are able to synthesise on your skin. In addition, UVB light availability, and therefore the production of vitamin D3, is reduced or blocked by cloud cover, environmental smog, shade and clothing. The angle of the sun also plays a role in the availability of UVB light. Latitude, season, and time of day create the solar zenith angle, which determines the intensity of sunlight. If you live at higher latitudes, you are more at risk of vitamin D deficiency than if you are living in more equatorial latitudes, because the intensity of sunlight produced is lower. If you live in Scotland this means there is not enough UVB light available for your body to produce vitamin D during the winter months (Glasgow latitude is 56°).



There are two types of vitamin D present in our food. Vitamin D2 comes from plant sources and vitamin D3 comes from animal sources.

Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) and vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) are biologically inactive precursors of vitamin D, which are converted in the body into the biologically active form of vitamin D (the hormone, calcitriol).

Lots of people don’t realise that there is actually very little vitamin D we can get from our food as there are only a few foods that contain vitamin D. Oily fish (such as salmon, mackerel and sardines) has the highest levels of vitamin D and there is also some contained in eggs and fortified dairy and cereal products. As you can see from the table below these foods just don’t have enough vitamin D to meet our needs.

Food sources of Vitamin D

Vitamin D from food is absorbed in the body with the help of fat so if you eat a low fat diet you may have problems absorbing vitamin D from food.



It contributes to many different biological processes within your body, including:

  • helping your body properly absorb calcium and phosphorus;
  • regulating your immune system;
  • controlling blood pressure (by decreasing production of a hormone called renin);
  • developing and maintaining healthy function of bones and muscles;
  • maintaining blood insulin levels by regulating secretion; and
  • positively influencing mood.


  • People with darker skin: as there is less vitamin D synthesised on darker pigmentations
  • People who are not exposed to enough sunlight: through covering up skin with clothes or sunscreen, not spending enough time outdoors, or working in cities where buildings or smog shade the sun
  • People living in countries above approximately the 37th latitude (such as Scotland), where the angle of the sun means there is no vitamin D available between November and March
  • Infants who are exclusively breast fed
  • Adolescents, especially during growth spurts
  • Increasing age: there is a reduced capacity to produce vitamin D with age
  • Obese people: vitamin D is deposited in body fat, meaning it becomes less bioavailable to people who are overweight and have excessive fat stores
  • Those with liver, kidney, intestinal or gallbladder malfunctions: these conditions may interfere with vitamin D activation and absorption

Current recommended nutrient intakes for vitamin D vary depending on the stage of life you are at as well as being influenced by any conditions you may have.

The table below shows the reference nutrient intakes for vitamin D as set by the Department of Health.

Vitamin D guidelines (Department of Health)

*The adult recommendation is for at risk groups.

The Endocrine Society provides the guidelines below to prevent and treat vitamin D deficiency relating to musculoskeletal benefits.​



We are simply not getting as much sun as we used to, for a variety of different reasons, and although food contains some vitamin D, there is not enough to meet our needs.

It can be confusing to know how much vitamin D you need as recommendations can vary. In the past there have been concerns raised about vitamin D toxicity, however it now well established that dangerous levels of supplementation are extremely rare and associated with very high, long term doses. Vitamin D toxicity does not occur with exposure to the sun. Vitamin D3 is currently the form which most supplements take as it is easier to absorb and more effectively converted in your body to its biologically active form. Sometimes vitamin D is measured in different units: international units (iu) or micrograms (µg or mcg). 1µg = 40iu.

As Nutritional Therapists, we work with you and assess your individual case history and risk factors for vitamin D deficiency. The only way to know your vitamin D level for definite is to test it, and we can help you access that too.

Research is ongoing about the important role vitamin D plays in general well-being in addition to a role in chronic health conditions. Deficiency and optimal levels continue to be researched along with the impact of sub-optimal vitamin D intake in northern countries, such as Scotland.

Supplementation is likely to become increasingly recognised to support optimal health. For the majority of the Scottish population it is a good idea to make sure you get some summer sun and supplement with vitamin D in the winter months.


Bender, DA. 2002. The vitamins. In: Gibney MJ, Vorster HH, Kok FJ, editors. Introduction to human nutrition. The Nutrition Society Cornwall; 2002. pp. 125–76. Blackwell Science.

Drake, V. (2011). Vitamin D and Skin Health. Linus Pauling Institute. Available at (accessed: 12/01/16)

Holick MF, Chen TC. 2008. ‘Vitamin D deficiency: a worldwide problem with health consequences’. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Apr;87(4):1080S-6S. Available at (accessed: 04/01/16)

Holick MF et al. (2011). ‘Evaluation, treatment, and prevention of vitamin D deficiency: an endocrine society clinical practice guideline.’ The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. 2011 Jul;96(7):1911-30. Available at (accessed: 12/01/16)

Sigmund CD. (2002). ‘Regulation of renin expression and blood pressure by vitamin D(3)’. Journal of Clinical Investigation 110(2):155-156. Available at (accessed: 17/01/16)

Tripkovic, L et al. (2012). ‘Comparison of vitamin D2 and vitamin D3 supplementation in raising serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D status: a systematic review and meta-analysis. In the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition Jun; 95(6): 1357–1364. Available at (accessed: 17/01/16)

August 03, 2021 —

Scottish Speedwell, a new botanical for anti-aging

Scottish Speedwell, a new botanical for anti-aging

by Monica Wilde
1 December 2014

Here's an exciting new discovery; organically grown Scottish Speedwell extract, a tiny, little herb with a powerful action. In fact, a David of skincare plants amongst Goliaths! New research has discovered some impressive, previously unknown cosmetic uses. We have harnessed the powerful anti-wrinkle properties of pretty Veronica officinalis in a special new anti-aging skin care range, with this natural ingredient, unique to Napiers.

The last three years has seen an exciting research collaboration between Napiers the Herbalists, the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh and our lovely natural ingredients manufacturer. We have investigated, grown and tested many of our heritage Scottish plants looking for special and unique properties as skincare ingredients. These have been nurtured on Monica's organic herb farm in central Scotland. We are thrilled to launch the very first of these new discoveries – an extract made from the tiny pretty Scottish Speedwell Veronica officinalis

Great anti-aging results

In analytical tests we found that Scottish Speedwell has excellent antioxidant properties. This means that it contains natural phytochemicals that help to slow down or prevent cell damage caused by oxidation - the exposure of cells to oxygen.

Oxidation can break the bonds that atoms have with each other creating free radicals, which makes cells unstable and more likely to damage and irregularities So using plants that have high antioxidant action really helps us in the fight against our skin aging.

Speedwell also has very strong anti-inflammatory properties. This means that if the skin is irritated or inflamed, that Speedwell soothes the area and calms down the inflammation. This is good news for anybody with a sensitive skin who finds that many cosmetics actual make them feel itchy and inflamed. It's important to us here at Napiers as many of our customers come to us because they suffer from eczema, dermatitis and other itchy skin conditions. In fact, one of the ancient uses of Speedwell was as a skin-detox tea taken internally.

As the old proverb goes, all good things come in threes! Saving the best until last... we discovered that this tiny, sweet little flower also has an amazingly powerful action in reducing wrinkles! It does this by stimulating collagen (an important connective tissue protein) synthesis with the skin's stem cells (fibroblasts) which gently plumps up the skin smoothing out the wrinkles. Collagen keeps the skin supported and prevents it from sagging which commonly happens as we age. We also found that Speedwell not only shortens the length of wrinkles but it also smooths the whole skin area. 

In fact, in a clinic test of 21 women, Scottish Speedwell dramatically reduced the appearance of their wrinkles in just 28 days.

 Formulating with seaweed for beautiful skin care

We have combined our anti-aging, anti-wrinkle Speedwell with a Scottish seaweed that also has valuable cosmeceutical properties. This is Knotted Wrack (Ascophyllum nodosum) grown in the clear, conservation waters off the Outer Hebridean islands, sustainably harvested and dried at low temperatures to preserve its incredible vitamin, mineral and nutrient profile and certified organic by the Demeter Association. Seaweed is an amazing group of plants. They are exposed on a daily basis to extremes of weather. When the tide is in they are bathed in a nutrient-rich, saline water but twice a day when the tide goes out they are dried out, covered in salt, in the sun and the wind. Harnessing their properties to protect our own skins is a no-brainer!

We have launched four essential, gorgeous products formulated with organically grown Scottish Speedwell, Hebridean seaweed and a host of other plant and herb extracts. They do not contain artificial colouring or synthetic fragrance and have been formulated with people with sensitive skin in mind. Click on each one to find out more about it's amazing properties.

July 14, 2021 —
How to Make Massage Oils

How to Make Massage Oils

It really is very easy to make your own infused massage oils. It just takes a little bit of time and patience... and willingness to experiment! Many of the ingredients can be found in your kitchen as well. So follow these easy steps.

Let's get in touch! Studies show that massage therapy not only reduces inflammation and pain, but it can also cure headaches, depression, insomnia, and boosts immunity. 

Follow this simple DIY to make your own infused massage oils:

  • 120ml of grape seed oil
  • 3 dried sage leaves

Funnel all ingredients into a glass jar. Seal with a cheese cloth and place in warm sun for two days. Replace cloth with a proper lid and enjoy for one month.

For a scented treat come summer you could also try

  • 120ml of sweet almond oil
  • 4 heads of fresh rosa rugosa petals

Again, add all ingredients into a glass jar. Seal with a cheese cloth and place on a sunny windowsill for two days. Replace cloth with a proper lid and enjoy for one month.

May 14, 2021 — Monica Wilde
How Strong is my Tincture?

How Strong is my Tincture?

Some of our customers want to know the comparative strength of a tincture versus dried herbs in a capsule. The most basic way of calculating strength is as follows, however, there are several caveats so please also read the notes below. For the examples we have used a sample 5ml as a dose of our most common extract strength 1:3 45%. This means that 1 part of herb is extracted in 3 parts of liquid which is made up of 45% alcohol (usually beet ethanol).


You have 5ml of a 1:3 extract, what is the equivalent quantity of dry herb?”

X (dry herb quantity) = unknown

Y (extract quantity) = 5ml

Extract ratio: 1:3 (or 1/3)

Rule: Multiply the extract quantity by the extract ratio

5ml multiplied by 1/3 = 1.67g

Therefore the dose is 1.67g


You have a 1:3 extract and want to give 3g of dried herb equivalent. What dose of the 1:3 extract should you use?”

X (dry herb quantity) = 3g

Y (extract quantity) = unknown

Extract ratio: 1:3 (or 1/3)

Rule: Divide dry weight by extract ratio

3g divided by 1/3 = 9ml

Therefore the dose is 9ml


Historically, this is not an equation used by herbalists as the bioavailability of an alcohol extract is far higher than a powder or a capsule. Take for example turmeric, a common food supplement generally sold in doses of 500mg per capsule. If you were taking 2 capsules a day, i.e. 1 gram, then using the maths above you would need to take 3ml of tincture to be equivalent. However, if you look in a Chinese Materia Medica you will note that turmeric rhizome is used at doses of 3-10g  powdered root equivalent to 1-4ml of a 1:3 25% tincture. (Or if the root as opposed to the rhizome 3-15g powdered root or 2-5ml of a 1:3 25% tincture.) So if you are one gram of turmeric rhizome, a third of the lower dose, the equivalent would be 1/3 of 1ml of tincture - about 7 drops. Two grams would be 2/3 of 1ml (14 drops) and three grams would be 1ml (20 drops). Personally, as a herbalist, I find that the guidance of classic texts borne out of hundreds of years of practice are more useful than maths on complex compounds!

The following other considerations should also be taken into account.


For example you cannot compare the compound artemisinin to a herb in the Artemisia family. The former is a single compound, the latter is a herb that contains many compounds including artemisinin. The herb will naturally contain lower amounts of a single compound than a drug will. This is because the complexity of the herb and the way that compounds interact with each to create the same effect. So it does not mean herbs are weaker if a single compound is weaker, often the herb will be as effective at a lower dose. For example, one of the Artemisia species tested as a whole herb tea for malaria in a clinical trial in East Africa, was found to work just as well as other species despite containing no artemisinin. Herbs commonly split their activity across multiple compounds thereby decreasing the likelihood of side effects.


Liquids such as tinctures are absorbed very quickly and efficiently by the body. Capsules and tablets have to be broken down in the stomach and are assimilated in the intestines. Many tablets are made with the expectation that only 20% of the ingredients will be absorbed. Flavonoids from herbs are turned into medicinal compounds by the colonic bacteria and as the gut microbiome varies from person to person utilisation rates will vary. If your microbiome is disrupted so will your ability to absord certain herbs although other herbs can help to restore that balance.


The soil and conditions that a plant is growing in changes its chemical balance. So does the time of year that is harvested, how long it is stored after harvest and a multitude of other factors. 


The idea that herbs, like drugs, can or even should be standardised always forgets one thing. That people cannot be standardised! Different body weights, metabolic rate, state of health, age and constitution will affect how much of a herb is needed by the body.


It has been proven scientifically, as well as in our clinical experience, that when herbs are combined in a blend together, that they act synergistically. This means that they potentiate, enhance or balance each other. This means that you could take much lower amounts of an individual herb when it is in the right blend, and it would work more effectively than taken at a higher strength on its own.


If this all seems very confusing it is helpful to remember that trying to be this precise is a recent phenomenon. Humans have eaten plants and used them as medicines for hundreds of thousands of years. Our bodies are highly adapted to using plant nutrients and tend to take what they need from the plants. With the obvious exceptions of plants that have toxicity or extreme medicinal strength that constitutes an overdose, most people thrive on herbs without standardisation especially when advised by a qualified herbalist.

May 14, 2021 — Monica Wilde
Tags: Tinctures