Healthy Living

by Marlene Houghton, PhD

As society has advanced and wonder drugs have taken over from folk medicines and self-sufficiency, we are discovering that there is a down side. We have found we cannot drug people to health. There are many side effects from drugs that are sometimes worse than the original problem and we have become dependent on the opinion of experts. This has resulted in huge waiting lists at the doctors and a society whose reliance on the expertise of others has removed self-knowledge and self-reliance. There are however many common problems that, although not serious, make life miserable and do not respond well to conventional medicine and this is where herbal medicine can help.

The medicinal benefits of herbs have been known to man for centuries. This does not mean we turn our back on the advances of modern medicine for serious problems but that we look to the empowerment model where the individual is in control of their health and takes active steps to prevent illness rather than looking for an instant cure with a drug.  Herbs contain a blend of chemicals that work more slowly and gently helping to perform many healing functions in the body. They can be used as preventatives before an illness sets in. Used wisely and appropriately, many ailments can benefit from the use of the right herbs nipping more serious problems in the bud and stopping a chronic disease from setting in. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

I teach people health and wellness principles so that they can take their health into their own hands. This is so that a visit to a medical doctor becomes necessary only for a serious problem. I am not saying that every health issue can be avoided but herbal preparations kept in the home would be a very useful addition to your First Aid Box. Existing problems that modern medicine has not been able to tackle effectively may also respond.

Encouraging a holistic approach to health using herbs for every day ills that work with the body’s healing systems can improve all-around health helping a range of common complaints. The value that these powerful traditional herbal remedies have is you do not need to become unwell before you use them. Herbal medicines can be used regularly improving many aspects of your well being and helping you enjoy good health.

We have a personal responsibility to keep ourselves well and the best way to prevent illness is to become knowledgeable in the use of herbs so that simple complaints can be tackled promptly. Making use of medicinal plants and herbs helps to stimulate the body’s natural healing force. There are herbal antibiotics, herbs that help digestion, colds, indigestion, irritable bowel, Candida and many other ailments that conventional medicine cannot deal with very effectively. There are herbs that can ease stress which can be damaging to the body’s equilibrium and herbal medicines that  sooth irritated skin. Herbs work with the body helping us get well if we are sick and helping the body defend itself against disease. Nature has a provided us with a range of healing herbs that have withstood the test of time and are a godsend for many common complaints. For home treatments and used at the onset of an illness their powerful healing actions will begin to work. Make use of these wonderful herbs that Nature has provided. They will work with your own innate healing system improving all-round health.


Marlene Houghton, PhD, is a nutritional counselor, educator, author, and lecturer on natural therapies and the historical use of herbs who teaches people how to stay well. She lives in London.

A Conversation with Mike Herbert, ND

Mike Herbert, ND, answers questions about his book, Stay Healthy During Chemo.


What are the 5 steps a patient can take to stay healthy during chemo?

  • Step 1: Change your thinking and develop an attitude focused on healing (the emotional framework.)
  • Step 2: Detoxify to promote healing from the inside out.
  • Step 3: Eat the best foods to create a healing chemistry in your body.
  • Step 4: Supplement your diet correctly to support the healing momentum.
  • Step 5: Exercise and rest to speed the healing process.

Why is nutrition a critical part of staying healthy during chemotherapy?

Nutrition supports all cells. When undergoing chemotherapy, our body requires nutritional support more than ever to protect the healthy cells and vital organs. Optimal health starts with correct nutrition because what we eat changes the body’s chemistry and the environment where the cancer is living. Change is needed for a positive outcome.

Why are most cancer patients placed on a non-restricted diet by their nutritionist or oncologist?

Most people lose weight during the chemotherapy process and oncologist often recommend high-calorie foods like milkshakes and pasta. These may keep the person from losing weight, but does not help the healing process towards being cancer free. It’s always best to eat foods that have high nutritional value, not just high in calories.

Why is it critical to eliminate sugars from your diet before, during and after chemotherapy?

Sugar is cancer food; it feeds cancer cells. Medical science has known for decades that sugar is fast energy for cells and speeds up the cellular duplication process. To reverse this process, it’s best to avoid all sugar sources and foods that turn into sugar like simple carbohydrates.

What do you recommend to eat and drink on days a patient is having a chemo treatment?

Eating the right foods is crucial for optimal health even on a chemo day. I recommend easy to digest foods like steamed veggies with brown rice or quinoa and large amounts of liquids, like green tea, peppermint tea, or purified water. Drinking a half a gallon to a gallon of water-like liquids flushes out toxins that may otherwise stay in the body.

What are some of your favorite recipes in the book?

It’s hard to narrow down 100-plus recipes to just a few personal favorites. My top picks are: The Blueberry Smoothie, Lentil Squash soup, Mediterranean spinach with pine nuts and raisins, Fish Tacos with Cabbage Slaw, Chia and Banana Pudding, and soft almond cookies are tasty and nutritious.


Mike Herbert is a PhD naturopath with more than 15 years in practice as a wellness consultant, with a particular emphasis on nutrition and natural healing. When his life was touched by cancer, he turned his full attention to investigating cutting-edge studies on the link between cancer and nutrition. He is the author of Stay Healthy During Chemo.

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