Healthy appetite: Herbal remedies


Jane Pikett escapes the digestive horrors of modern life with the aid of herbal cures

Liam Watson is in full flow on the subject of poo. We are, he says, in the grips of a constipation epidemic caused by processed foods, modern farming and food production, and stress.

I’ll spare you the gory details (and the photos of, erm, ‘evacuations’ which Liam produces for proof) and move swiftly on to the remedy, which lies, I am assured, in the power of plants.

Herbal remedies have, of course, been practised for millennia, which makes it all the more astonishing that we appear to have become detached from them within the last few decades.

For, as Liam says, our grandmothers were aficionados of a weekly dose of Andrews Liver Salts and the ‘clear-out’ that resulted. “They were obsessed with the bowels and would take a dose of Andrews or Epsom Salts every Friday,” says Liam. “Now, we don’t do that and everyone is constipated, and that’s incredibly bad for you.

“Back then, people were actually more healthy. They got essential B vitamins from bread and one slice filled you up because it was made from the original grain. Now, we have hybrid F1 wheat, which was introduced after the war and has brought with it the intolerances and digestive issues we see today.”

Liam is a herbalist and iridologist with 21st Century Herbs in Hexham. He has learned at the knee of the business’ owner, Nik Imrye, a third-generation herbalist and 50-something example of robust good health. Start talking to these guys and I defy you not to be fascinated by their insights and appalled by our toxic world in equal measure.

Get Liam on the subject of soaring rates of digestive intolerances, eczema, asthma, ADHD, type-2 diabetes and more, and he will generally return to a single issue – if we fill our bodies with rubbish, we’re asking for trouble. “Supermarket organic carrots are all bright orange and perfectly straight. How can that be organic? And even if you grow your own, the soil isn’t what it was. There’s no selenium, and if nutrients are not in the soil, they’re not in your veg.”

Two months ago I finished a 28-day detox prescribed by Liam, who diagnoses his clients’ needs with the aid of iridology; a diagnostic tool based on the signs of imbalance and disease which show up in the iris. The detox required no lifestyle changes, just a daily dose of two capsules of a herbal complex called Rhubarb Complex, and I’m not exaggerating when I tell you I still feel like a new woman, two months after finishing the course. This stuff cleans out the system, aids in the removal of fungal infections, worms and parasites, and – how do I put this? – ‘lifelong impacted waste’ (which is where those gory photos come from).

CayenneIt can fight off intolerances and allergies and once the digestive system is cleansed, says Liam, the whole body functions more effectively and with increased energy, better circulation, less congestion and improved overall wellbeing. The victim of the digestive intolerances of modern life, I am astonished by its positive effects, which have lasted.

After the detox, I moved onto a daily dose of Cayenne Complex – a powerful antioxidant which, among other things, can improve concentration, strengthen circulation, and aids recovery after sport and exercise. I’ve also been taking Golden Root Complex and, five years after the removal of my thyroid gland and the constant battle with fatigue which has followed, I have more energy now than I’ve ever had. In addition to boosting physical and mental performance, Golden Root can benefit the heart, immune system, and mental health. And if I sound like a herbal pill-popping loon, I only take two Cayenne capsules a day and two Golden Root, so it’s hardly an onerous task, and the effects are spectacular.

We have become so removed from nature and so entrenched in a society which feeds cows more grain and soy than grass that our natural systems are under constant attack. “Everyone is constipated and that causes disease,” says Liam. “You eat, and you poo; that’s what it should be. Yet the UK is the most constipated nation in Europe. No one eats seasonally, no one behaves seasonally. People used to do less in winter than summer, now everyone is flat-out all the time and stress depletes you of magnesium. There used to be
B vitamins in bread, but not anymore; it’s just air and yeast. Herbal complexes are natural remedies which fight off the effects of the modern world, and that has to be good.”

21st Century Herbs, Market Street, Hexham,, Twitter @21stCH

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