Whole Person Wellness Program
Certified Coach Training
Find a Practitioner
Tai Chi & Qigong
Massage & Bodywork
Music & Sound Healing
Natural Vision Care
More Alternative Therapies
Emergency /First Aid
Obesity & Weight Loss
Complementary Medicine (CAM)
Flower Remedy Practitioner
Massage & Bodywork
Vision Care / Training
Which of the following in NOT a direct benefit of a regular walking regimen?
Improved immune function
Achieving ideal weight.
Improved sugar metabolism
Herbal Medicine: Prescribing Issues Unique to Elders
David Hoffmann L. BSc (Hons), MNIMH
When considering herbal
therapy it is important to acknowledge some of the age related pharmaco-kinetic and pharmaco-dynamic changes that occur. Safe drug or herb prescribing for older patients has to be based upon an understanding of the changes that occur to absorption, distribution and elimination mechanisms in the aging process. Taking such issues into consideration helps avoid many complications.
Whilst such concerns are not as important for the phytotherapist, they still exist. A brief review of some of the factors involved for both plant extracts and chemical drugs might be helpful. Pharmacological research suggests that the most important issues to consider are:
. For a chemical or plant extract to enter the blood stream when taken by mouth, the absorptive lining of the gastrointestinal tract must be healthy. Medicines must remain in contact with the lining for an adequate amount of time for absorption to occur. There must also be an adequate blood flow to and from the site of absorption.
Normal age related changes impact all of these factors. There is a reduction in mucosal surface area, reduction in blood flow to the intestines and changes in secretions.
. Plant constituents are transported via the blood once they have been absorbed from the intestines. The more complex molecules are in a form that is often bound with a blood chemical such as albumin. Such protein bound drugs can compete for binding sites, which in turn may have a profound effect upon availability of medications.
Distribution around the body
. With advancing age the proportion of of body water and lean body mass decreases whilst body fat increases. This favors the distribution of fat soluble constituents over water soluble.
. The effect of a medicine is ended by it being eliminated from the body or its being changed into some inactive form. This will involve liver metabolism, kidney function, and elimination at other sites around the body. All of these factors become less efficient with age.
As with children, our elders have special needs and plants address these needs. Whenever possible focus upon the tonics and normalizers. The most relevant remedies are pointed out in each section below. Care must also be given to dosage, because of the range of issues touched upon above. In general a lower dosage is used than for younger adults. For details of the standard pharmaceutical formulae used to convert adult dosage to that appropriate for any particular age, please refer to James Green's
Medicine Maker's Handbook
, part of the supplemental reading material.
The main concern is that of 'paradoxical' reactions. It is not unusual for medicines to have an opposite effect to that expected with very elderly people. As an example consider that the tranquilizer valium can have a marked stimulating effect upon the nervous system in some elders. This is an unpredictable response, so careful initially careful observation of a patients response is crucial.
Be aware of potential paradoxical responses to herbal medications.
Add your comment
About The Author
Whilst working in conservation and lecturing in ecology and the eco-crisis for the University of Wales, David Hoffman became convinced that to heal the world, to embrace planetary wholeness and responsibility for it...
Related Articles & Links
on Elder Health
Alternative Medicine Center
Healthy Aging Center
Herbal Medicine Center
by David Hoffmann
From Our Friends
Popular Related Articles/Areas
Prozac and Beyond-The Synthetic Antidepressants
Longevity: What are the Chances of Life Extension
Move Your Body and Move Your Soul
Depression: Key Insights for the Elderly – Part I
Healthy Computing: Too High or Too Low
Popular & Related Products
Prostate Power Rx
Chakra Suite - Halpern
Colostrum & Probiotics
Popular & Featured Events
40th Annual National Wellness Conference
June 15-18, 2015
Minneapolis, MN USA
Additional Calendar Links
Stevia Products & Info
Dimensions of Wellness
Find a Practitioner
What Doctor's Don't Tell You
Discount Lab Tests
Global Health Calendar
The information provided on HealthWorld Online is for educational purposes only and IS NOT intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek professional medical advice from your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
Are you ready to embark on a personal wellness journey with our whole person approach?
Improve work-life balance
Enhance your health/wellbeing
Are you looking to create or enhance a culture of wellness in your organization?
Whole person approach
Do you want to become a wellness coach?
Whole person focus
Dimensional wellness model