Saturday, 16 February 2013

Molluscum Contagiosum

A lovely lady got in touch yesterday because her son has been diagnosed with Molluscum Contagiosum, which is a common viral infection a member of the poxvirus family, like small pox.

The origins of immunization are grounded in the history of smallpox. The recognition that cutaneous exposure to the dried material of smallpox lesions caused a milder infection and induced permanent immunity led to the practice of variolization, the old practice of inoculating people with material taken from a vesicle or lesion of a person infected with the smallpox virus.

Unfortunately, this practice frequently induced severe smallpox and death. In the 19th century, Jenner observed that inoculation with cowpox virus, another of the poxvirus family, conferred smallpox immunity. This observation established the practice of vaccination.

Infection with Molluscum Contagiosum causes itchy little lumps or bumps, which look like warts, to appear on the skin, they can commonly cluster around the genitalia.

The virus can be picked up, through close personal contact with anyone who is infected, or from objects such as a shared flannel or a towel. The spots come up after an incubation period of a few weeks. They are more common and extensive in people who have atopic eczema.

Anyone, at any age, can get it, but it’s most common in kids under 15, and eight out of ten cases affect children under 5.

It is highly infectious and although it isn’t serious it is unsightly and can be embarrassing for the child the condition can last for over a year. Medical Doctors have no treatment for this condition although they can freeze the spots off like they do with warts but this can be painful and other spots often spring up.
We have wonderful herbs to treat this virus – Harry my son contracted the virus when he was little and I use the same treatment protocol that I saw successful fast results with him, with most patients I have seen over the years.
The first thing I do is recommend a change in diet by cutting out all sugar and refined foods to give his own innate immunity a chance to shake off the pathogen. Lots of carrot and garlic and ginger soups, garlic is a fabulous anti-microbial agent.

Internally a delicious mix of anti-viral and  immuno-boosting herbs , syrup of Elderberries with Hypericum and Echinacea tinctures. The Elderberry syrup or rob is totally yummy, we use mulled wine spices in the recipe so it is always like a taste of Christmas!  I also use  teas of chamomile, hypericum, calendula, lemon balm and mint about 3/5 cups daily sweetened with local honey.

Externally, a Hypericum balm with essential oils of lemon balm and geranium to apply to lesions 3 times daily.  Add a few drops of tea tree essential oil to baths and burn geranium, tea tree, lemon balm and lavender essential oils in an oil burner thought-out the home.

 Hypericum or St.Johns wort famed for being an anti depressant is a fantastic anti- viral, wound healing agent, geranium, tea tree and lemon balm all are potent anti- viral medicines.

Macerating the Flowering Hypericum in Almond Oil 

we leave it for a lunar cycle then...

Elektra helped me strain them out.... for making the balm.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

In search of beeswax

I was in desperate need of some beeswax to run a workshop planned for the next day!  We always like to get our beeswax from local bee-keepers and as I currently live in Dorset, that’s where I started my search.

                                                                    A top bar hive
The comb is much more rounded...

I found a lovely man who I have had contact with but have never met.  He keeps bees all over and although has lots of National hives he’s big into top bar hive honey production.  This is a more natural form of bee-keeping which interferes less with the bees.  It allows them to shape their own comb and hardly disturbs them when you easy the bars away from each other to check the brood.

So anyway, Chris Slade the local bee-keeper was at Kew, not the gardens but the national archives that day in search of info for the “Local boarders research group”…I’d never thought about how and when the county of Dorset became.  He would return late that night so I drove over their in the depths of darkness after my pregnancy yoga class to find a warm face, nestled amongst a dashing white beard in his cosy house.

He sang me an ode to the bees and entertained me with a fabulous poem he’s written and supplied me with beeswax and an example of the comb from a top-bar hive. 

The workshop the following day was to promote wellbeing for women who’ve had a difficult time. We have funding to introduce them to the hedgerow in all its wonders.  It’s called the Hedgerow Harvest Project.

That day we were to make lavender and calendula lip balms.  They loved the tale of the night before, my chance meeting with the bee-keeper and seeing and smelling the comb…

Karen at the lavender farm in Herts

Lavender is easily recognised and commonly found in gardens.  Its perfect to harvest just as the flowers close and when dried makes a lovely infused oil which can be used as a soothing, anti-inflammatory base for creams and balms.

Calendula grows abundantly once planted and its name comes from the fact it flowers in every month of the year.  It is really amazing to see its resilience as the weather turns colder and colder.  Calendula or marigolds originate from South Africa but do really well here.

Lip balm recipe:

We use a basic balm recipe of 4 parts infused oils, 2 parts cocoa butter to 1 part beeswax.  We use oils of comfrey, st. john’s wort and heather too in our balms.

You simply melt the ingredients together in a bain-marie  and the add essential oils of your choice right at the end before putting in the jars. We use oils of peppermint, lavender, geranium depending on the action of the balm we are looking for.

It was great for folk to go away with a lovely balm to use as a healing balm for their kids or a lip balm for themselves.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Alchemy of Balm making.....

We turned oils into balms today, a most satisfying bit of alchemy!

Our ache ease balm specially formulated to aid support painful joints and muscles, is made up from herbal infused organic almond oils –we pick each of the respective herbs on dry sunny days around the Full Moon, to get the full wack of strong lunar energies.

Each plant material is left in the almond oil for a lunar cycle –full moon to full moon, then strained.

The other ingredients are organic Cocoa Butter, which is a great skin nourisher that melts at body temperature, also called theobroma oil, is a pale-yellow, pure, edible vegetable fat extracted from the cocoa bean. Also local Beeswax, which is the natural wax made by honeybees in the hive.  Beeswax is also known as Cera alba.. A wide variety of cosmetics use beeswax as an emulsifier, emollient, and moisturizer.

The oils we use are;

Heather Oil

 We gather the Heather in the summer months, we've collected from Skiddaw in the Lake District, Cornwall, Dartmoor, Hebden Bridge, this years harvest was from The New Forest.....

The familiar heather plant - Calluna vulgaris - belongs to the Ericaceae plant family. Heather is rarely adopted for its traditional use for rheumatic conditions. Herbalists in Britain today no longer have this wonderful herb as a staple of their Materia Medica (repertoire of medicinal herbs) which seems a shame.  In the balm the heather provides great relief for aching joints.

It has been revered in many cultures across the globe including Greek, Egyptian and Celtic.  It requires a lot of patience to gather and the flowers have a reputation for preserving youth.

               Comfrey Oil

 We harvested these strong loving leaves from the canal side at Ware Hertfordshire. Turning the light almond oil a deep dark green within days.

Comfrey is such a good healer for connective tissue (ligaments and tendons) and bones that it has the folk name of “knit bone”.  It works well for any bruising or deeper tissue damage, for rheumatism and arthritis.  The name comfrey is thought to be from the Latin ‘confervere’ which means to grow together.

Horseradish Oil

Harvested from Lea-valley Park in the Autumn –take care when grating these mustard oil containing roots –wear googles!!!

The Horseradish has been connected to healing arthritis since way back when, people used to apply poultices and make them so strong it would cause ulceration, believing there was poison inside the joint was causing pain and it would leech out through the ulcer -HEROIC treatment. We are a little more, gentle with the mixture of the oil within the balm. As a circulatory stimulant applying the oil increases the flow of blood, fresh oxygenated blood thus flows through the area carrying away debris and creating movement, and alleviating pain.

We firstly measured the oils adding equal parts of each -200ml of each oil –

600mls infused oils
300g of Cocoa Butter
150g of Beeswax

Heat this up together in a Bain Marie, when it is very well mixed and totally clear our carefully into a pouring jug to transfer to the jars, then whilst in the jug we add peppermint and rosemary essential oils for their wonderful anodyne and circulatory stimulant properties. Plus smelling brilliant, uplifting and fresh.

Put into Jars and label..
This wonder Balm has helped countless folks with a variety of muscle and joint ill health.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Spring Detox?

It is seriously freezing cold beautiful clear sky and the sun shining down, seems that the light has indeed re-entered, the Water energy is rising up in all the new green shoots. Snowdrops and Primulas are popping up all over the garden and cleavers n nettles are bursting through, Imbolc or candlemas has passed bringing the birth of Spring is upon us….The sap rising is palpable
It is a great time to cleanse and help our body to cope in a physical way with this rising energetic force.  We need to Detox our homes, lives and physicality’s, we need to be clear, to let things flow…to shake off the stagnation of winter. Juicing, greens, creating fresh pestos and delicious soups and stews filled with fresh veggies and herbs. 
We’ve been sprouting our wheat grass trays to get our pokey green shots of goodness for the coming weeks.
 You just need an inch of soil in the bottom of a tray and a layer of wheatgrass seeds sprinkled and smoothed over the top.  Keep them nice and damp and in 2-3 weeks you’ll have a spring lawn on your kitchen window sill just asking to be juiced bit by bit.  I use a pair of good scissors to chop away a shot sized amount to go through the juicer.

The masticating juicers are the best for wheatgrass but you’ll still be getting some of the rich lushness through a centrifugal one.  Centrifugal means moving or directed away from a center or axis. A centrifugal juicer spins at high speeds and during the spinning motion; the vegetables that you have shoved down the chute are ground to a pulp. The spinning motion then forces the juice away from the pulp. Masticating means to chew, to grind or knead into a pulp.
Your teeth are an excellent example of mastication in action. Your teeth chew and grind food. After you swallow, the food then goes to your digestive system, which, through the process of digestion, begins to extract the juice from the food, you eat.
Much in the same way, a masticating juicer grinds vegetables and literally squishes out the juice. Since a masticating juicer works at low speeds and with no spinning action, it tends to juice many vegetables more efficiently. Some say the high-speed action of a centrifugal juicer produces too much heat, which then can damage or possibly kill the enzymes in the juice.
The fresh juice of plants is very much like the juice of our cells. Drinking the juice of fresh greens is like drinking the nectar of the rejuvenation of youth. The essential elements that may be lacking in your body cells- particularly the live enzymes, bioactive vitamins and minerals are easily assimilated through fresh green juices.

Chlorophyll is a pigment, which gives plants their green colour and is found in most plants and algae. Chlorophyll also facilitates the process of photosynthesis, which allows the absorption of energy from light. Isolation of Chlorophyll as a pigment by itself was first done in 1817 by French chemists Bienaimé Caventou and Joseph Pierre Joseph Pelletier.

Chlorophyll is green because it absorbs all the colors in the light spectrum except green.

The chlorophyll molecule closely resembles hemin (a component of hemoglobin), the pigment that combines with protein to form hemoglobin. The latter is present in the red corpuscles of the blood and by carrying oxygen to the tissues makes the production of energy and life possible. The major difference between chlorophyll and hemin is that chlorophyll contains magnesium while hemin contains iron as its central atom.

So lets get all dem spring greens in the juicer and get healthy!

Friday, 1 February 2013

The Flow of Bile.....

I had a lovely patient yesterday a gentleman in his 50's who came to see me about his ongoing constipation and bloating issues. He was extremely dry witted and good-natured and I felt a sincere connection instantaneously. We chatted about his life and his long-term digestive problems for a couple of hours that literally flew by. He has a brilliant vegetarian diet of lots of fresh fruit and vegetables perhaps could drink more water, which I suggested and he swims 3 times a week but still has a very sluggish bowel. He had his Gallbladder removed 15 years previous because of gallstones.

 My all time favourite remedy for constipation and incomplete bowel emptying is Dandelion Root (Taraxacum off Radix). Dandelion root helps the liver to produce more bile this is called a choleric action that later on is sent to the gallbladder to be used, helping the gallbladder to contract and release (cholagogue property) this stored bile. One active principle call taraxacin, found in the whole herb, particularly the root,  is thought to be responsible for stimulation of bile secretions.

 Bile or gall is a bitter-tasting, dark green to yellowish brown fluid, produced by the Liver that aids the process of digestion of lipids in the small intestine.  Bile is stored in the Gallbladder (a pear-shaped organ, 10 cm. long and three to five cm. wide, attached to the under-surface of the liver on the right side. The main function of the gallbladder is to store the bile secreted by the liver). and upon eating the bile is discharged into the duodenum. 

Bile contains mostly cholesterol, bile acids (also called bile salts), and bilirubin (a breakdown product of red blood cells). It also contains:
               Body salts (potassium and sodium)
               Copper and other metals

 Taraxacum’s nutty, salty, bitter-sweet, tap root is a gentle liver tonic and may be used to treat inflammation and congestion of the liver and gall bladder. The root has the sweetness that suggests its good for regulating blood sugar levels in the body.  It is a specific for this so is useful when folk are prone to post prandial dips or easily getting shaky when they get hungry.

What I want to understand is what does this mean to someone without a gallbladder? I had a particularly sleepless night thinking and hypothesizing… Modern medicine and surgery have enjoyed whipping a lot of our bodies organs out, stating that they unnecessary but I don’t agree and it isn’t like one can simply whip another one back in place…I concluded that our humble dandelion will aid as a mild laxative, nutritive, support shame we couldn’t have met 20 years ago and prevented the theft of one Gallbladder!