Tagged: Herbalist

Ugh, hayfever…

If you have hayfever, you’re probably right in the middle of feeling sniffly, snotty, itching eyes and generally rather groggy. It’s miserable.

And, anti-histamines can make you feel terrible too.

Well, help is at hand. During May & June I am your ‘Hayfever Hero’ and I am offering mini consultations for just ¬£45! That includes your first 2 weeks of tea.

During that consulation, I will ask you about about your symptoms, how they affect you and about any medications you take. We will also discuss foods which you can reduce and foods to increase.

At the end of the consultation, I will write a prescription for a hayfever tea. The tea will include herbs which get really focussed on reducing your symptoms as much as possible.

So, whether you have runny eyes, itchy eyes, bunged up sinuses, can’t stop sneezing or have a river of snot, there are herbs to suit you. Herbs which have traditionally been used for symptoms like those for millenia.

Contact me for your Hayfever consult today!

Rowan berry & sage vinegar

rowan and sage infusing

Sharp, tart and powerful

Vinegar cuts through grease and mucous giving things a good clean out. Sage does the same at the back of your throat by clearing the mucous which the nasties causing your sore throat live and thrive in.

Using pastilles and other sore throat lozenges are usually full of sugar and whilst that feels soothing and lovely, it provides lots of juicy food for those bugs to thrive in.

So, using a vinegar to cut through the mucous, with the reputed anti microbial properties of sage is a double winner. Add into that the traditional use of rowan berries for sore throats and tonsillitis and we have a trio of triumph in your throat!

To make this joyful medicinal vinegar, alive with complex flavours, I cooked the berries and sage in vinegar before steeping it for a few weeks. Cooking the berries renders the toxic components harmless. After straining, I bottled ready for use.

Use in conjunction with the soothing sage and rowan syrup I have also made and keep your tonsils singing with joy.

As far as I know, this medicine is entirely unique to me. The joy of creativity and experiments. Join my journey of discovery.

Rowan berry and sage syrup

rowan and sage infusing

Sore throats, tonsillitis, syrup and gargling

Foraging for making has become a prfound new joy of mine. I had had some lurking doubts about the pillaging of nature and whether I had the right to do this. But, they are now gone and I am loving that connection, the creativity of making things and the new recipes to trial.

What’s on the go right now?

I’ve made rowan berry and sage syrups and vinegars.

Research showed me that raw berries are really not a good plan due to potentially toxic components. So, I stewed a few berries with some sage in water. Then I let it sit for a few weeks (the hot liquid sealed the jar keeping it good) before straining and re-heating, dissolving sugar into it, turning it into a syrup.

And, what does it taste like?

The flavour is frankly AWESOME! I haven’t ever tasted anything else like it. It’s sharp, it’s sweet and fruity but there’s something else which I am yet to put a word to.

The finished product is up for grabs in partnership with Rowanberry and sage vinegar.

Why the pairing of sage and rowanberry?

Well, the traditional medicine from rowan berries is for sore throats and tonsillitis. Sage also has a great reputation for healing throats because it has the power to cut through the mucousy substrate keeping all the gremlins alive causing your symptoms. So, it seemed like a match made in heaven.

Fancy a go?

Do you get recurrent sore throats and/or tonsillitis? If you do, you might like to give these beauties a go.

Contact me for more info

Nettle root-the medicine

Wild herbs as medicines

Nettle root has a reputation amongst herbalists for use as part of treatment for Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia. For most men, their prostate is very likely to enlarge as they age and, beyond the symptoms it causes, is not something to be worried about. As the saying goes, ‘most men die with prostate enlargement, but very few die of a (benign) prostate enlargement’.

However, the symptoms can be life changing, causing increased frequency, urgency and incomplete emptying, dribbling, not to mention the increased nocturia.

Reference to the use of plants for BPH symptoms dates back to Egyptian papyrus in the 15th Century.

A study reported by Mohammad Reza Safarinejad, MD, showed that nettle root extractions performed in a statistically significant way better than placebo in all areas which were monitored. Their IPSS (International Prostate Symptom Score) improved such that the mean scores dropped from 19.8 to 11.8 with nettle root and 19.2 to 17.7 with placebo! Flow rate improved by 77% in those taking nettle and by 31% in the placebo group. Residual bladder contents volume in the nettle group improved whereas the placebo group has no significant change. The prostate size decreased in the treatment group and remained the same in the placebo group. Importantly, testosterone levels remained unchanged.

The trial participants were monitored and placebo group was switched to nettle root after the trial period ended and continued to be monitored. The positive effects of nettle root seen during the trial period were maintained for the rest of the 18 months of monitoring and the placebo group also demonstrated similar improvements after switching to nettle root treatment.

I absolutely LOVE that something as ubiquitous as nettle root could be a significant and life altering treatment for so many people. It makes my heart sing to think that a medicine without negative side effects could safely and effectively help in this way. What a joy!

I have written about collecting and preparing nettle root here

If you are experiencing symptoms of prostate enlargement or have a diagnosis of BPH and would like help. Get in touch

Nettle root

At work in the Herbalist’s kitchen

This weekend I was determined to get a heap of stuff done in the garden. Did it pan out that way? Did it heck!

However, what I did manage to do was pull up the pesky nettle which insists on joining my culinary herb garden. Whilst not entirely misplaced, it makes a fine risotto ingredient, I know it’ll just take over and that’s exactly what I don’t want it to do!

The benefit of allowing it to grow during the summer season before pulling it up (knowing that it’ll come back next year for sure) is that I get a good chunk of root.

Nettle root and secateurs
Once it has dried a little, the root ‘skin’ looks a lot less yellowy than it does fresh.

Working with nettle root

After pulling it up, it needs a good scrub in water to get rid of the soil. Once it is scrubbed, allow the water to dry and then chop it up. This is harder than it sounds and needs secateurs to get through it as it has a rubberiness to its woody fibres which prevent knives getting through.

Once chopped, leave it to dry somewhere warm-ish and with good air flow. Once completely dried, store it in a clean, labelled jar with a well fitting lid and keep out of the light.

Nettle root as a medicine. I talk about using the root as medicine here

Rowan, a portent of healing?

Portent

2. LITERARY: an exceptional or wonderful person or thing

Thinking about the rowan’s auspicious and protective properties, I decided to make a decoration for my consultation room. As I stuck the needle through them, finding that the seeds are soft, and that the juice is both sharp and sweet, it got me thinking.

Sharp and sweet. Hmmmm, sharp and sweet? Is that a contradiction? Not really, in fact, it’s much like the journey of healing.

The pain of the issue, emotional or physical, which keeps us stuck usually has a sharpness to it else we wouldn’t seek out help.

And the sweetness? Well, to me that reflects how we feel as we emerge out the other side, newly emerged and fully fledged.

Rowan berry decoration fun

What do you think of my little creation? They’re all plump and juicy here but they’ll wither as they dry out.

Metamorphosis of healing

But what struck me the most – even more than the wonderful colour combinations – is the idea of combining protection with metamorphosis. These two simple things represent what happens in this space, my consultation room. My sacred space of healing and transformation.

You come to me with problems to solve, entrusting yourself to me and between us, we find our way to your metamorphosis, your emerging from the coccoon of safe stuckness into the spreading of your newly painted, fablous wings which enable you to move forward in your best image.

Buy the little wooden butterfly buttons here on eBay

Rowan the medicine

Those glorious clusters of richly orangey-red berries light up the gloomy skies and this year I am mightily drawn to them! This tree with its attractive berries carry folklore from many countries particularly as a protective plant. They are most effective against all forms of witchcraft. Carrying twigs in your pocket, using canes and making ships from the wood and many, many more notions will ward off the evil.

Sometimes, it is possible to find a root of the phantastical in something which science has uncovered to be surprisingly valid such as with elder and its potentially toxic constituents but with Rowan it is hard to see why it should be considered quite so auspicious. The hawthorn with a similar reputation is more obvious – it’s a heart drug of fine order and its protection of your house as well as your body? Well, that just makes sense.

The Rowan? For now, I cannot find the answer and the medicine appears not to be especially radical either. Peter Conway in his Tree Medicine book mentions sore throats and tonsillitis for the berries, leucorrhoea douches and sore throats for the bark. The fruits are reputedly nutritive as well as astringent and the bark simply astringent. Are we missing something here?

Culpeper makes no mention (unless I have failed to find the name by which he called it!) and Mrs Grieve suggests that the berries make great jellies for cold game or wild fowl but that their medicine is for haemorrhoids – the astringency – and as gargles for ailments of the throat.

A favourite resource, the PFAF website reminds us that the seeds of the rowan contain cyanogenic glycosides and that these become prussic acid (cyanide) when in contact with water. Hence Mrs Grieve’s suggestion of jelly not a jam. Strain out the seeds should you decide to make anything with them.

Perhaps the secret to these berries lies in the now-lost Welsh recipe for rowan-berry Ale?

To sate my curiosity, I shall dry a few berries and keep them for the fluey season and when the telltale warning of a prickly throat comes my way, as surely it will, I can brew them up and gargle away and find out whether that’s where their magic lies.

Noticing your narratives

Do you find yourself saying things as though they are fixed and absolute?

Things like ‘I’m always late’ or ‘I’m forever making the wrong choices’ or ‘I can’t stick to anything’? They sound pretty innocuous, don’t they? But what if these kinds of negative-affirming statements, spoken as facts, are a constant inner monologue? What does that actually do to you?

I have had some really triggering conversations recently where people, knowledgeable people, have stated something as fact because it was their experience and because it’s the experience of many others too. An online conversation about the experience of peri-menopause was one recently. It has made me feel really frustrated and upset because the person’s opinion matters to me and once it lodges, it’s really hard to shift it from my narrative. And, I don’t want others to pre-determine my life and experiences. I want to have my own experience. And, I don’t want to fear an inevitable part of my life because it has been described in a particular way by someone I respect.

Things get stuck and lodge there

The most obvious response I can hear forming in your mind is ‘oh, just ignore it’ but that isn’t the way my mind seems to works. Things get stuck in my psyche and lodge there.

There, that’s another one of those statements. ‘Things get stuck… and lodge…’ What’s that done? Have I just pre-determined an uncontested way for my brain and thinking to be?

What am I going to do?

My starting point for anything like this is begining by drawing awareness to it. And, with the awareness, attempting to bring kindness. That’s the hardest bit, actually. Well, it is for me. Being kind. Then I start to find smaller chunks and areas to tap on. And, whilst I work on that, I use Bach Flower Remedies to soothe the critical voice and the associated (usually negative) emotions it has invoked.

Are your internal narratives kind?

I think if we could bring the kindness we offer to our best friend and/or a small child, to ourselves, then the world would be a lot nicer place to be. I can’t help but think about all the politicians farmed out to boarding schools feeling rejected, neglected and unloved, fighting their way to the ‘top’ of the tree and determining the way things are run… it makes me shudder. The ignored subconscious darkness they likely all feel determining our collective futures????????? Let’s not get started on politics, eh?

What will you do?

What would you do about it? For me, this feels like a huge area of work which most likely needs some on-going chipping away at. A block of habit which, with patience, can be gradually whittled into something more attractive, more kindly and just all-out nicer to be around. It would be such a relief to be comfortable in and comforted by, my own company. ūüôā

DIY help is ace

Tapping is an obvious place for me to start. If you want to work by yourself, there are a load of ways to do it but mostly, it’s about breaking it down into smaller, very specific areas. Then you can work on them in turn until you either reveal the ‘real’ root – the darkness behind the story, or consistently work away at all the layers until it has just gone. Believe me, once it has just gone, it’s amazing, you can hardly believe it’s possible or that it was even there in the first place! Tapping has the power to be that transformative.

Sometimes, we need a helping hand

It can feel a bit overwhleming to tackle a large emotional area by yourself. I work with another Tapping expert when I want to work on something bigger. So, if you find yourself becoming aware of areas of stuckness, habitual nastiness masquerading as tough-‘love’, and don’t know what do to, come and have a chat. I’d to work with you on your internal negative narratives.

Bach Flower Remedies

I find these gentle remedies to be so soothing and effective. I generally respond better to formulations from others as they have that outside perspective which enables true insight. But, Dr Bach created them as a self-healing modality, so you can do it for yourself. I suggest using the Healing Herbs website to do that.

Contact me to chat about you

Email me: HertsHerbalist@hotmail.com or call 07492 511366 to arrange a chat about how we might guide you to a place of gentle kindness towards yourself. You choose the modality/ies; herbs, tapping, Bach Flowers. <3

Catching the Tapping bug

If you’re new to the idea of Tapping – join my weekly session: ‘Catching the Tapping bug’ on Thursday evenings 8.30-9.10pm to find out what it feels like and how you might benefit. The first session is free to anyone who wants to give it a go. After that, I ask for donation payments with a suggested minimum of ¬£8 or time swaps if you have ¬£ difficulties due to Lockdown.

I look forward to welcoming you to my Tapping sessions, they are such an oasis of shared special energy and calm that they feel like the highlight of my week.

Hawthorn – at the heart of it all

It’s September and the hawthorn berries are looking glorious. Plump and juicy. Time to get picking.

History and folklore

Hawthorn is ominous and magical, holy to Pagans and Christians. Scottish farmers traditionally harvest 13 weeks after the blossom scents the air. It’s gorgeous and heady.¬†‘Cast ne’er a clout til the May be out’ – refers to remaining dressed for winter until the mayflower (or hawthorn) blossoms. Rather wonderfully, if you have hawthorn in your perimeter hedging, it will ward off the bad faeries. And, who doesn’t need a bit of protection from them in their life!?

Identifying hawthorn

But what about the berries? There are a few types of hawthorn and one way to tell the difference is in the stones inside the fruit. Crataegus monogyna has a single seed, Crataegus leavigata has more and the cross between the two plants, Crataegus oxyacanthoides usually has more too. However, for once, this distinction is more important to botanists than herbalists as we can use them all. Hurrah!

The medicine

Some of the best medicine comes from mixing the flowers, leaves and berries together. In order to do that, you have to pick them at different times. So, in September, it is the time of the berries. You can allow them to dry by laying them on a sheet of paper in a very dry, warm place such as an airing cupboard or use a dehydrator.

The flowers have a distinct almondy taste to them. This indicates the presence of constituents which are known to be active on the heart. Harvest these with the new leaves in May. Herbalists generally like to make two hawthorn medicines (leaf and flower / berries) and sometimes blend them together.

Why use hawthorn?

Herbalists use hawthorn for heart conditions in order to encourage a greater flow of blood through the heart, to strengthen and slow the heart beat without raising blood pressure. It is said that sportsmen use it as it may enhance exercise duration. It has a very low incidence of side effects and has no known contraindications. Always preferable in a medicine.

Seeking help

There are many more ways to use hawthorn which are best done with a medical herbalist. Those conditions range through arteriosclerosis, atheroma, thrombosis, angina, tachycardia, atherosclerosis and intermittent claudication. If you suffer from any of these get in touch with a herbalist and see if you work well together.

Just for fun

I made a rather tasty Hawthorn vodka (as per Sloe Gin) which has the distinct notes of almonds which indicate the presence of constituents which work with your heart. However, this is purely an occasional drink, not a medicine – there’s way too much sugar which is renowned for damaging the cardiovascular system.

Notes: None of the information included here is intended as medical advice. Please seek help from a medical herbalist when using herbs for serious, life affecting conditions. Foraging is fun so don’t forget to leave plenty behind. Pick only what you will use and pick no more than 10%. Wildlife depend on wild foods to survive.