Herbal Medicine Awareness Week, organised by The National Institute of Medical Herbalists, runs until September 13.

Members of the public will be able to join qualified herbalists on a nationwide series of herb walks this weekend.

Our own Brighton expert, herbalist Julian Barker, has been organising such walks for many years and has written a book on European herbs.

Most of us trust and rely on modern pharmaceuticals for effective medicines and drugs to control or cure serious illness or infection.

However, the benefits of modern medicine for conditions such as menopausal symptoms, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, obesity, arthritis, digestive disorders, insomnia, anxiety and stress-related problems are questionable and, often, unsatisfactory.

This is where people are finding herbs useful, safe and effective.

So much so, it has been reported in Natural Products News, the national newspaper for retailers, that Britons spend £126 million each year on herbal medicines.

Here is a summary of some examples of common useful herbs available in Britain:

For natural HRT, satavari (asparagus racemosus) is a prime cooling and nourishing herb which helps restore natural balance in women with PMT and menopausal symptoms.

It is even more effective when combined with synergistic herbs such as liquorice, wild yam, ashwagandha, lodhra and ashoka, as prepared in Ayurvedic formulae.

Western herbs agnus castus and red clover have been shown to be helpful during menopause.

Herbs such as panax ginseng and ashwagandha (withania somnifera), boost the energy system to relieve fatigue and calm irritable nerves.

Valerian and nutmeg help calm the nerves and promote good sleep.

Brahmi (centella asciatica) and ginkgo biloba help maintain good circulation and improve memory.

Herbs such as sage and fennel help the hormonal balance.

Ginger, dill, oregano, cumin and lemon balm help relax the nerves and promote good digestion.

In my view, the most important herb for modern-day stress is curcumin. It is very versatile and has multiple benefits to the system.

Modern research is proving the claims of ancient Ayurvedic physicians that curcumin is a potent anti-inflammatory.

Concentrated 95 per cent curcuminoid extract helps relieve arthritis pain and rheumatism. One study showed the low incidence of cancer in Indians may be attributed to the curcumin in curry and it has been shown to stimulate the liver to perform its detoxification function which cleanses the blood and gut.

In the gut, it has a powerful anti-parasite and anticandida effect.

For details of Julian Barker's book, contact The Wilbury Clinic, Hove, on 01273 324420.

Dr Milind Jani works as a conventional and holistic GP and Dr Asmita Jani as Ayurvedic Consultant from 3 Eaton Gardens, Hove.

Call them on: 01273 777448 or email: milind.jani@ntlworld.com