Today’s episode is an interview with my colleague, Dr Jillian Stansbury. These are the questions I asked and a paraphrase of Dr Stansbury’s answers.


1. Biography: Dr Jillian Stansbury is a naturopathic physician who has practiced in SW Washington for almost 30 years specializing in women’s health, mental health, and chronic disease.  She holds undergraduate degrees in Medical Illustration and Medical Assisting and graduated with honors in both programs.  Dr Stansbury is the former Chair of the Botanical Medicine Program at the National College of Naturopathic Medicine in Portland, OR and remains on the faculty teaching natural products chemistry, botanical influences on cell biology, ethnobotany field course, and other miscellaneous topics in herbal medicine. Dr Stansbury also writes for numerous professional journals and lay publications, plus teaches around the country at a variety of medical and herbal conferences.  She frequently travels to Cusco ? “the navel of the world” – and the Peruvian Amazon, studying South American plants and working with various tribes in the jungles of Manu and Iquitos. She is the mother of 2 adult children, enjoys hiking, cooking, music and plays the guitar, banjo, churango and sings, maintains large gardens, and engages in all sorts of arts and crafts.  

2. Tell us a little about your book, “Herbal Formularies for Health Professionals, Volume 1: Digestion and Elimination, including the Gastrointestinal System, Liver and Gallbladder, Urinary System, and the Skin.” I know it’s part of a series of volumes. Can you explain why you grouped these systems all together?  These are grouped because they are all “emunctory” organs – organs of elimination.  this is the first Volume in a series of practical formulas textbooks, aimed at health professionals because they use medical terminology and discuss quite a bit of chemistry and molecular mechanisms of action.  These books are something akin to my life’s work, as they represent my 30 years of teaching experience, clinical experience, and decades of keeping abreast of the published studies.  The series is 5 volumes all together and is a huge undertaking.

3. Is it better to take botanical medicine with or without meals? It’s better to take them with meals if prone to nausea; otherwise, what’s most important is just to remember to take them!

4. Cleansing is tremendously popular, and probably the best known herb for liver cleansing in the public is milk thistle. Can you tell us a little about some lesser known liver cleansing herbs and indications for their use? The alteratives: these will alter you for the better. These are bitter roots: dandelion, berberine, rumex. These are cosmopolitan: they grow around the world. Somewhat nourishing but gentle laxatives, gentle stimulants. Many contain inulin: prebiotic. Creates an ecosystem; burdock, dandelion, rumex. Will use these in teas, tinctures. You can make your own dandelion roots from the garden. The bitterness blends well with celery, etc like spinach. The bitterness is desirable too, seems to stimulate saliva flow. To make dandelion from your garden into a tea, you could just rinse them out and chop them into smaller pieces and simmer them in a pot of water and drink them, or save the row you’re weeding until you have a small bowl full. Chop, dry, and simmer a tsp of those per cup of hot water.

5. Some great studies have come out indicating that herbal treatments for SIBO are just as effective as the tremendously expensive Rifaximin. What are your favorite herbs for the treatment of SIBO? delayed stomach emptying and gastroparesis: favor motility enhancing herbs. This predisposes to SIBO. Rumex, or yellow dock, contains emotin. Other herbs that contain this are great for motility. Rheum is rhubarb root used in China. 1-2 of those will enhance motility. In other cases, people might develop SIBO bc of stomach acid and reflux and GERD. Sometimes the problem is low stomach acid. Taking vinegar or enzymes might be important for some people. In other cases, getting rid of allergens might help. Demulcent herbs: these have mucilaginous properties, and include aloe, slippery elm, marshmallow, and licorice. These support the barrier function of the stomach.

6. I often use herbs to treat yeast overgrowth and dysbiosis in general, and find it more effective than some of the prescription medications, as well. Can you discuss some of your favorite herbs for these conditions? Diet is essential; it’s hard to recover from yeast if you’re feeding them with their favorite food: sugar. Berberine is a constituent in a plant, not a plant name. Gets its name from berberis. Mahonia root and berbers are also excellent alternatives and are the source of berberine, as are goldenseal, coptis, etc. There is lots of research on berberine: you can now purchase concentrated berberine against yeast, SIBO, pathogenic bacteria. Essential oils are also great: these could be in the whole food or herb state. All volatile oils are anti-microbial against yeast, candida, etc without harming good bacteria. She likes teas quite a bit for this; gentle, cheap, more prolonged surface contact. 2-3 cups of tea in a row will fill your stomach for 15-20 min and touch every cell in the intestines. A few herbs that are concentrated essential oils: mint oil, peppermint capsules, and oregano oil capsules.

7. If a patient struggles with skin conditions such as acne or eczema or psoriasis, do you have favorite skin cleansing herbs that are a go-to, or do you start by opening their emunctories with liver and gut specific herbs first? For skin conditions, it starts with the gut. One prong of the protocol should be liver and digestive herbs. Diet may be important too. Eczema is more allergic or atopic, so these patients might get more EFAs or things that alter the atopic tendency. Psoriasis is more autoimmune: for these people, look for immune modulating herbs such as reishi, astragalus, etc. But all protocols for people with skin conditions should treat the gut, open emunctories, and improve intestinal dysbiosis. For skin complaints she also likes to add in beta carotene, zinc. For dry, itchy skin, especially good to add EFAs, fish oil or flax seed oil. Zinc and copper are also important for collagen, elastin, etc.

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