The school’s are nearly going back, the leaves have begun to fall (yup, I know, we’ve hardly had summery weather in the UK this year and we’re already heading into the darkness). And, after all this isolation, distancing and more with Covid-19 measures, we’re going to start mingling our germs too. Usually, that would be OK. In fact it still is, as being exposed to new mildly pathogenic microbes is part of keeping a strong and fit immune system.
HOWEVER, it also means that we are being bombarded with the potential for those seemingly endless Autumnal and Winter infections.
Do you seem to get every bug going? Are you constantly streaming with snot and snuffling, sneezing and coughing? Are you worried that you’ll catch everything the children do but worse?
I can help.
Herbs are brilliant at managing symptoms of these kinds of self-limiting, minor infections, shortening the duration and preventing them occuring in the first place.
You have a couple of options for working on this with me:
A mini consultation where we discuss you most usual symptoms and how the infection progresses and I make you up a special herbal tincture mix to take in small doses as prevention and then an ’emergency’ mix for if you do get something. These can be teas or tincture blends.
Children’s appointments – Children respond so well to herbs. They are brilliant as their bodies are less stuck in habits and habitual ways. I love working with them as they are so honest about what happens to them. My 4-year-old loves my ‘bogey picking nail’ (which is just a long pinkie finger nail which happens to fit up her nose for those chunky boogers she’s not yet old enough to care about! She loves taking her herbal syrups and often reminds me to dose her up each day.
A Winter wellness planfor the whole season. This is an in-depth treatment plan of herbs, food, lifestyle and tapping to prime your immune system for the winter. You’ll receive weekly emails filled with tips on feeding your immune system with great foods and herbs and a tapalong video. You have 1-2-1 sessions with me to keep yourself on track with the lifestyle changes specific to you. I’ll also create an emergency tincture mix in case anything passes your new resilience and a special early bird tea blend bonus. Click here to find out more. We begin in October.
A tapping and herbal well-being defense plan for you this Autumn-Winter.
My wonderful plan is designed to see you through 20 weeks of Autumn and Winter being as well as you can be! What’s included?
3 sessions 1-2-1 with me;
A brilliant blend of herbs;
Emergency herbal tincture
Plus an EARLY BIRD gift if you sign up by September 18th!
Individual 1-2-1 sessions with me
3 sessions of 30m where we discuss your wellness needs, your progress and the bits you struggle with. These can be in-person in my Hertfordshire clinic or on Zoom.
Tailor-made herbal tea blend
Keeping yourself well with immune supporting herbs with a long-held tradition for wellness. Preparing your daily tea, drinking your daily tea and investing in your health has limitless value.
A series of weekly short tap-along videos for you to view and tap with at a time which suits you. Each one is designed to address an aspect of winter health and wellness by boosting the areas of your immune system. A great way to give to yourself the healthy help you need.
Need support and help with new things? My weekly emails are designed to get you fired up, engaged and ready to be the best you throughout the calmer, darker days of Winter.
Emergency tincture blend
So, something snuck through, despite all your efforts? Keep this tailor-made blend to hand just in case you begin to feel those tell-tale signs of something ‘coming on’. Knock it on the head with strong blend of tinctures created and blended just for you.
Early bird special gift – pay by 18/9/21
Sign up by September 18th and receive a 25g pack of 3 super-special herbs specifically chosen for assisting in the prevention of colds and ‘flu. A wonderfully tasty tea blend used by herbalists all over the world. This great tea is yours if you sign up by September 18th.
The cost to you?
Just £350 per person for 20 weeks of high-quality medicines and great health support. The value of this plan is immense as you will be focussed on keeping yourself in the best of health throughout Autumn and Winter.
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.
This Valentine’s Day, don’t forget to include yourself when you’re giving out love.
If you take the time to give yourself love, not only will you feel better about yourself, but you will be better equipped to spread the love to others.
Most people think that self-care involves a glass of wine and putting your feet up in front of the telly. You’ll also be told you ‘deserve’ it. And, I’m not knocking either thing – each has its place. But, this concept is not something that is nourishing and restorative. And, it is not self-care.
We ALL deserve to take care of ourselves. We all deserve to feel good in and about ourselves for as much of the time as we can. Alcohol and zoning out don’t do that.
Self-care in my mind is something which helps to restore your core, your well of contentment, your get up and go, your resilience and your facility for dealing with the daily grind. And, life in Lockdown has had a LOT of grind (and some unexpected silver linings too).
Self care comes in many guises. Maybe it’s about putting a well-balanced meal on the table at most mealtimes. Maybe it’s about ensuring your sleep is the best it can be. Maybe it’s about drinking herbal teas to keep calm. Maybe, it’s meditation, yoga and other forms of exercise.
What do I do?
I found the idea of self-care so very hard to contemplate. Something essentially completely alien and whilst the notion was OK, it just slipped down the ‘To Do’ list every day, never happening until it never appeared on the list because it became something else to berate myself for not doing. I just couldn’t summon up the feeling that I could do it. Like so many, I just didn’t know how to prioritise it, how to feel that it was OK to do it. It felt really hard to fit in with so many other pressures demanding my time. I wanted the re-create the pure escapist uplift of that first glass of fizz but found the repercussions for my mood the following day too hard to handle – not to mention it has the potential to create a vicious cycle. I sought out junk foods but the highs and lows of that did nothing for my overall sense of wellbeing either.
In fact, it has only recently become something which feels as though it has any priority in my life. As I got more in tune with my body and how it actually felt each day, I found I needed to choose something healthful. Something restorative in a true sense. I still want to zone out in front of the telly, and have the odd glass of wine now and then but mostly, I am now seeking ways to truly nourish myself.
So, how did I change my perspective? Many, many things helped
Working with others
Seeking help can be a really important first step. Being guided by someone with skills and knowledge has profound benefits.
The first step along my road was getting help from my beautiful Italian friend, Laura Cattaneo. Her deeply restorative Shiatsu energy work massages combined with her words of wisdom enabled me to shift a lot of blocks and obstacles to living a fuller, more contented life. Laura brings a deep wisdom to her work as shiatsu practitioner and spiritual counsellor.
I had been intereted in EFT/Tapping for a while and I began working with an EFT/Tapping practitioner, Tamara Donn. Her sessions have helped me to clear other obstacles in my emotional life which were getting in the way. I am still on this journey and find that regular sessions enable me to manage lockdown and its challenges as well as working on my wider issues.
Herbal tea: As a herbalist, I have a heap of herbs at my beck and call. The primary herb for anyone wishing to begin a journey of herbal exploration is Chamomile. Its readily available and inexpensive.
Let’s get medicinal: To get truly medicinal results from any herbal tea, I suggest trying 2 bags per cup, brewing it with a lid on for at least 20 minutes and drinking three times per day! (This is for a generally healthy adult). I recommend this with chamomile and although it is a bit bitter (that’s good medicine) and may take a little getting used to (I describe its taste as being yellow) it’s worth it. It’s calming to the digestion and nervous system, aiding sleep and reducing anxiety amongst many other benefits.
Loving Calm tea If you want to dig a little deeper, I make a beautiful tea blend which combines herbs which deeply nourish the nervous system with herbs to warm the cockles of your heart. I call it my LOVING CALM TEA and you can have it delivered to your door by getting in touch: Lucy.Blunden.Botanicals@gmail.com
Let me know how you get on – I’d love to hear your experiences of trying out these things.
Disclaimer: If you are planning to self-medicate with herbs, it is always wise to check this out with a professional. Herbalists can tell you whether the herbs you wish to work with are contraindicated with your prescribed medications or heath conditions.
Anything for which we need medicinal help requires caution. So, whilst chamomile is gentle and suitable from birth to death for most people, some people will not find it helpful. In cases of reflux, it can be irritating and a few people find it more stimulating than relaxing! The golden rule: if it feels bad, don’t do it – even if it ought to feel good.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!?
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!
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.
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.
Make an appointment to see Lucy Blunden, Medical Herbalist by visiting the contact page