Tuesday, 22 October 2013


 “Why wasn’t I, as a woman, more in control of my fertility?”

This is something I hear a lot in my work as a herbalist. Care-free/careless sex happens, all the time – the abortion clinics are oversubscribed and even in this age of medicalised fertility and contraceptives, there are many children born to unprepared mothers with no fathers there to help bring them up. Sex education needs to encompass female reproductive cycles in far more depth: I didn’t fully understand that my womb waxed and waned in size from a nut to a grapefruit each lunar cycle until after I had given birth to my first child.

My first memorable interaction with plants was making daisy chains with friends, soothing nettle stings with dock leaves and crushing rose petals for perfume. These were the start of a lifelong love affair with the things of the earth. But the first time I ever bought herbs to treat myself was when I was 18 years old, backpacking in Spain. I had met a dark and brooding German punk. Although AIDS advertising had been at its height during my TV-watching youth, I had been undeterred and the sex definitely wasn’t ‘safe’.  I had missed my period and was panicking.

I bought Rue and Pennyroyal, after being told these plants would bring on my period and could be used in the case of unprotected sex as a ‘morning after’ treatment. I don’t remember being told how much to drink or how often but I do remember that after drinking a couple of litres of the strong brew for 3 days on the trot, my blood began to flow. I also had a serve headache and eye pain, most likely side effects of the toxicity.

During my Herbal Medicine Degree course I focused my dissertation on the history of contraception and abortion. I could not enlist a supervisor from the Herbal Medicine faculty as the subject was met with so much resistance. I was told it was unnecessary information and asked to justify the benefit of the project. In the end, a member of the English faculty came to my aid. During my research I became involved with another dark and brooding handsome man. I experimented with Vitamin C, Neem and black cohosh. The Vitamin C alters the ph of the vagina so makes it inhospitable for sperm. I would insert an effervescing pill before sex, it burnt and fizzed and the Neem, also a spermicidal, has an incredibly unpleasant smell, so these precautions weren’t conducive to romance.

Unfortunately, in spite of my erratic experiments, I became pregnant. I drank the weekly dose of the uterine stimulating tincture black cohosh and almost instantly felt sick. Within 5 minutes I had the beginning of a hammering headache and am not sure to this day how I managed to drive home as I could hardly open my eyes from the pain. I phoned my friend saying that I had poisoned myself with this toxic dose. She thankfully helped me with detoxifying juices, clay and reflexology. But even after this dose, I was still pregnant and had to follow it all up with a clinical abortion – something that I felt extremely confused and upset about.

Informed choice and information
I am a firm believer that information and informed choice are essential, as there is only a small margin between a treatment and a toxic effect using these herbs. People around the world have always made and used herbal potions and pessaries with the goal of preventing, and or disrupting pregnancy. Because of the rise of the Catholic church and its anti-contraception laws, important information has been lost so it is impossible for us to say how effective herbal remedies were in the past.

Much of the information remains scarce and fragmented, as most recipes are very old and were transmitted orally, information was closely guarded to avoid persecution. Some historical information remains, and there is some excellent literature on the subject such as Eve’s Herbs by John Riddle. However, exact recipes are rare, and effectiveness rates are untested in modern society. Scientific researchers have done some research on botanical anti-fertility agents, and some promising results have been discovered - herbs like Neem, Mexican Yam, wild carrot seed and Gossypol all have a lot of interesting papers printed about them.

What does herbal contraceptive mean?
There are many different ways in which herbs can impair fertility. Some herbs may affect the ovary, while others act upon the uterus, affect normal hormone production or block certain hormones. Herbs have also been found to interfere with normal sperm production, or mobility. Some herbal contraceptives have a cumulative effect in the body; they need to be taken regularly like the contraceptive pill to maintain the contraceptive effect. Often these type of herbs demand a few monthly cycles to establish effectiveness. 

Some herbs have the ability to interfere with implantation; these herbs can be taken on an “as needed basis”, and are useful as an emergency contraceptive. The actual effect in the body can vary from herb to herb, but the end result makes it difficult for the egg to implant or maintain its grip on the uterine wall by making the mucous membrane of the wall more slippery. Implantation normally occurs about 6 days after the egg has been fertilized. If the egg is unable to get a grip on the slippery mucousa, bleeding will occur as normal. Wild carrot (Daucus carota) has a good reputation as an implantation inhibitor and an American herbalist Rose Robin Bennett has done a lot of research which can be accessed on her website robinrosebennett.com.

Herbal contraception is not properly researched and all too often has to be followed up with clinical abortions. My goal of my writing is to encourage women to educate themselves about their own cycles - learning ones cycles and understanding ovulation times alongside conscious use of herbs can and is used by many women successfully.

 The only herb that has been fully researched with human trials is the wild carrot that I mentioned earlier and the only one that I would have full confidence in. Have a further look into Rose Robin Bennett’s work. There is also a fantastic website Sister Zeus - http://sisterzeus.com, that has in-depth information on lots of differing herbal contraceptives.

I have been discussing my monthly blood cycles in depth with my 5-year-old daughter over her life and wish to help her connect with and understand her own fertility as soon as possible. I am in a stable loving relationship now and we use condoms during the risk times of my cycle. I check my mucous regularly and am aware when I am ovulating. It was deeply profound to realise that my mucous changed over the course of my cycle. I still cannot believe how disconnected I was from my own bodily functions and how long it took me to be aware of what is perfectly natural.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Threadworms/Pinworms Herbal treatment

I talk to a lot of concerned parents who find worms in their children’s stools. The first reaction is often repulsion and fear, which then leads to the questions of how to eradicate these unwelcome visitors. Last year our family experienced a horrible infestation. Worms are parasites; similarly to nits they make us feel violated and disgusted when they inhabit our bodies.
The threadworm, also known as pinworm or seatworm is classed as a nematode (roundworm), which is one of the most common human intestinal parasites in Britain. Children are especially prone to this, as many as 39% of children in the UK are said to have had a threadworm infestation. Soil, unwashed fruit and vegetables can harbour worm eggs, which is where children usually pick them up. They resemble thin, white, cotton threads that wriggle unpleasantly about in stools of the infested host.

My daughter Elektra was fifteen month old when I first found threadworms in my stool. My symptoms were an itchy bottom at night, often worse around the new and full moon. I treated myself with a very strong mixture of worming and digestive herbs - walnut, wormwood, barberry, cascara and cinnamon. I also changed my diet to cut out sugars, wheat products and supplemented it with a large amount of pumpkin seeds, grated carrots and other anti-parasitic super foods. The worms in my stools disappeared and we thought no more of it, until one year later I found worms in Elektra’s nappy.

Elektra became extremely irritable, loudly screaming complaints of an itchy bottom, especially at night; she also developed dark circles under her eyes and a very sore vagina. Other symptoms from threadworm may include digestive disorders, bedwetting, mouth blisters, anemia, grinding teeth, hyperactivity, insomnia, irritability and nervousness.

My treatment strategy

The worming herbs I had given myself were very strong; wormwood is toxic at the dose needed to expel the worms. Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) is a shrubby plant found all over the world, in summers it lines our roads and waste grounds. Its silvery deeply incised leaves and small yellow flowers make it quite easy to recognise and tasting this bitter leaf will soon confirm the herb is wormwood. Historically, this herb has been utilized for a variety of purposes: medicinal - it is a vermifuge (an agent that dispels intestinal worms); a protection against the plague; a deterrent for vermin (especially fleas); and as the star ingredient in the infamous drink of absinthe.

I suffered from a headache when taking it, so was worried about giving the same mix to Elektra. As an alternative, I made her a strong tea of chamomile and cinnamon. Hygiene is very important when treating worms. We were living in the truck on our summer tour working at festivals, so stripping and washing sheets daily wasn’t an option. I bought a plant sprayer, filling it with water and essential oils known for their anti–parasitic actions and sprayed everything, changing our sheets as often as possible.

As a herbalist I wanted to treat Elektra with natural medicines. This route is a lot more demanding on your time and energy than buying over-the-counter drugs and being on the road constantly; removing the threadworm was proving too difficult.

After a few weeks of trying natural remedies, Elektra was still displaying symptoms and I had become re-infected. So, feeling defeated, we went to the doctor for a prescription. Everyone, including adults and those without symptoms, take a dose at the same time. This drug stops the worm’s ability to utilise glucose, whilst also inhibiting the worms micro tubular transport system. However, it has several side effects listed on its paperwork.

We all took our doses on the site of Glastonbury festival and within hours I had a big cold sore and Dieter, Elektra and Harry had very loose stools (not pleasant with the toilet facilities on offer!). We repeated the dose 2 weeks later as instructed but 6 weeks later Elektra started complaining once more of an itchy bottom.

I felt that I had lost all control by taking the chemical drugs. That they still didn’t eradicate the worms was extremely disheartening. So, in September, once back in the house with mod cons, I started cleaning obsessively and Elektra and I made up a glycerite. This is a preparation that uses glycerine to extract the constituents from an herb. Glycerine is both a solvent and a preservative, which is good for preparing children's remedies because of its sweet taste and lack of alcohol. Glycerine is the sweet principle of oils, obtained by the hydrolysis of plants usually coconut oil. You can buy organic glycerol online or in most chemists. It is a very simple process but takes 3-4weeks for the preparation to be ready to use.

You will need:
A glass jar


100g cloves - these have pain relieving, anti-parasitic, anti-fungal, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties. The cloves actually kill the eggs and stun the worms.

 100g of dried flowering wormwood, which we harvested from our garden in the summer. This can be obtained from your local herbalist or Health Food shop. The bitter action of this herb increases the acidity of the stomach and the production of bile, whilst also helping to pass the worms. In this low does it isn’t toxic.

100g each of caraway and fennel seeds - both sedatives to the parasites.
5 cloves of chopped garlic - an astonishingly effective ‘nasties’ killer, my staple kitchen medicine. It destroys so many unwanted and harmful microorganisms.

Fill a glass jar with one and a half litres of glycerol, then add all the ingredients. Leave the mixture to brew in a darkened cupboard for one lunar cycle. After straining out all of the herbs and spices, you will be left with the herbal glycerol. I gave Elektra who was 2 years old, one teaspoon of this mix before she went to bed and also first thing in the morning.

Dietary treatments
To help Elektra pass the threadworms from her system, I gave her porridge with added desiccated coconut. I also included in her daily diet grated carrot and ground pumpkin seeds. Both these have been shown to immobilise and aid in the expulsion of intestinal worms and other parasites. Chunks of cucumber have also become a staple addition to all meals, as the seeds are anti wormy.

We ate as much raw garlic as possible in all our foods. Elektra couldn’t handle the heat of the garlic so I crushed a few cloves up and made a poultice for her feet at night, it still gets into the blood. I smothered the crushed garlic over the soles of her feet and put socks on – the bedroom will smell!

Worms feed on sugar, so we try to keep all sweet foods to a minimum, which can be very difficult with the children. I bake cakes with agave, honey and other substitutes but they still seem to prefer weird and wonderful, colourful sweets!

Essential oils and hygiene
I also made up a fragrant essential oil mix from lavender, rosemary, lemon, peppermint, thyme and black pepper, adding 3 drops of each to 30 mls of sweet almond oil. I rubbed this into all our stomachs before bed.

We washed our bottoms and hands regularly, whilst showering morning and evening using tea tree soap. I meticulously wash all our fruit and vegetables now, much of which comes straight out of our garden. Previously I thought it wasn’t as important because we do not use pesticides or fertilisers.

We took a teaspoon of the mix morning and evening and paid special attention to New and Full Moons (when the worms are most active) by taking double the dose so 4 teaspoons of the mix throughout the day. After about a week on the mix most of Elektra’s symptoms disappeared but I carried on treatment for 2 months to completely irradiate any eggs. Many folks have tried this strategy very successfully the import thing is to be on top of the hygiene and keep the sugary foods out of the diet.

The life cycle of a threadworm
Any eggs that are swallowed, hatch and grow into adult worms in the gut so a cycle of threadworm infestation can continue relentlessly. Female threadworms survive for 5 to 13 weeks, with males surviving for around 7 weeks. The male and female threadworms mate in the ileum (last part of the small intestine), after this the male threadworms usually die and are passed out in the stools.

The impregnated female threadworms settle in the large intestine, appendix and ascending colon where they attach themselves to the mucosa or lining and feed off the colonic contents. There they can lay up to 16,000 eggs, with this process beginning five weeks after initial ingestion of threadworm eggs by the human host.

Before they die the female worms lay tiny eggs around the anus, this tends to occur at night when you are warm and in bed. The eggs are too small to see without a microscope, but cause itching. People often scratch to relieve the itching without realising it in their sleep. Scratching causes the eggs to be deposited onto your fingers and under your nails, with the eggs surviving for up to two weeks outside the body.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Herbal treatment of Acne

Over the last few years we have seen many patients on orthodox medicines with varying side effects but none so detrimental as the Acne Drug, Roaccutane that seems to be all too easily prescribed to teenagers with acne.  Reported adverse reactions caused by the drug include gastrointestinal disorders, suicide, and birth defects.

Acne is an embarrassing condition that most typically develops in teenage years but recently, it has become increasingly common for people to develop acne whilst in the pre-teen age group too, between the ages of eight and twelve.

Unfortunately acne is extraordinarily common. Loads of our teenagers suffer from some form of acne, ranging from the mildest of cases, which manifest with just a few isolated spots and blackheads, through to the most severe, which produce an angry mass of spots, pustules and cystic lesions which cover the majority of the acne sufferer's body and may heal to leave permanent acne scarring.

Medical studies in the United Kingdom have shown that 90% of the teenage population suffer from some form of acne including the very mildest cases. 50% of teenagers develop acne classed as severe enough to require medical treatment. It could be said that acne is the norm in teenagers.

Causes of Teenage Acne

Sebaceous glands are tiny glands found near the surface of your skin. The glands are attached to hair follicles. A hair follicle is a small hole in your skin that an individual hair grows out of. The purpose of sebaceous glands is to lubricate the hair and the skin in order to stop it drying out. The glands do this by producing an oily substance called sebum. In acne, the glands begin to produce too much sebum. The excess sebum mixes with dead skin cells and both substances form a plug in the follicle. If the plugged follicle is close to the surface of the skin, it will bulge outwards, creating a whitehead. Alternatively, the plugged follicle can be open to the skin, creating a blackhead. Normally harmless bacteria that live on the skin can then contaminate and infect the plugged follicles, resulting in papules, pustules, nodules, and cysts which are all classifications of differing types of spots.

The cause of nearly all teenage acne is the complex hormonal surge that occurs around the time of puberty.  Hormones released at the onset of puberty are responsible for the appearance of acne during the teen years. These hormones stimulate the skin's sebaceous, or oil glands, creating an oily skin that is more prone to pore blockages and breakouts. Stress and diet are also major acne triggers. Unfortunately, in this modern lifestyle people are extremely stressed.  Stress provokes the release of still more hormones which can over-load the delicate processes happening within the liver as it struggles to cope with the hormonal onslaught.  The diet of lots of teenagers commonly includes lots of sugars and fats, which also over-load the liver.

Herbal Healing
There are many factors that can influence the onset and severity of acne so as herbalists we treat each person on an individual basis.  There are however a few general principles.

The Liver
Supporting the liver helps to clear the drastic hormonal increase during puberty.  The liver is the primary organ that is responsible for processing ‘sex hormones’ such as testosterone.  It is seen as the seat of anger, which means when we put strain on our liver it is harder to control these feelings.  The primary herb we would use to help rebuild and detoxify the liver is milk thistle.  Bitter herbs also have an important role.

Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum)
This robust beautiful waste ground thistle was famed for being good for breastfeeding mothers because of the milky white veins running through her leaves hence her name.

Milk thistle, is a liver tonic, and this is why it is so effective for acne sufferers. We use the seeds ground down and put into capsules but they can be ground and added to cereals porridge etc too.

We grow our plants in an old lorry tyre in a sunny spot of the garden –the hard bit is extracting the seeds, good gardening gloves are needed to protect hands from the incredibly spiky thistle heads.
Milk thistle helps the liver regenerate 4 times faster than normal. It also lowers blood lipids, clears stress hormones like cortisol, and increases the flow of bile from the liver and gall bladder. It both prevents and helps cure liver damage, and reduces the fatty degeneration of the liver.

The herb acts on the membranes of liver cells - it prevents the entry of virus toxins and other toxic substances, including drugs. Thus damage to liver cells is prevented.

The Lymphatic System

The lymphatic system helps to clear the blood of unwanted products.  If the liver can’t process the amount of waste products floating round the body then the lymph will push it out onto the skin.  We use herbs that support the lymphatic system to clear the infection away from the skin such as burdock and red clover.

Burdock (Arctium lappa)
The giant leaves of Burdock can be seen all over our lands, a very adaptable weed can flourish in fields woodlands and marshy areas alike.

After taking his dog for a walk one day in the early 1940s, George de Mestral, a Swiss inventor, became curious about the seeds of the burdock plant that had attached themselves to his clothes and to the dog's fur. Under a microscope, he looked closely at the hook-and-loop system that the seeds use to hitchhike on passing animals aiding seed dispersal, and he realised that the same approach could be used to join other things together. The result was the Velcro that we all know and love.

Arctium is a valuable remedy for the treatment of most skin conditions especially acne and boils. He cleanses the blood, but needs to be used gently over a period of time. I use small dosages and always-in combination with another lymphatic herbs like calendula, red clover or cleavers. This is because he is such a powerful mover of deep-seated toxins. Some one once described it to me as these toxins need a helping hand once mobilised to exit the body, this is what the accompanying herbs do.

Part of the skin clearing action Arctium provides is through bitter stimulation of the digestive juices and bile secretion and it will thus aid digestion which is the root of many system imbalances.

Red Clover (Trifolium pratense)
Most folks know Red Clover as a menopausal herb because of the Isoflavone constituents (plant estrogens), but traditionally this valuable plant was used for Lung stuff as a chief ingredient in cough mixtures and Skin disorders.

We pick our red clover in the fields of Northaw Village, luckily they are grazing for livestock so unsprayed and mainly unused by people and dog walkers. She begins lifting her delicate, intricate flower heads in early May, that are more purple in colour than red really. We have named her Scarlet Lucky-leaf because of her associations with Good luck. She is a Sprawling hardy perennial member of the Pea family. Attracting butterflies, moths and other long-tongued insects, particularly bumblebees - it sometimes known as Bee Bread.

Her leaves are food for the caterpillars of the Clouded Yellow, Small Skipper, Essex Skipper, Painted Lady and Pale Clouded Yellow butterflies, and several moths, such as the Latticed Heath, Shaded broad Bar, Mother Skipton, Tawny Wave, Chalk Carpet and Belted Beauty. Also the Narrow-bordered five-spot Burnet moth. Finches eat the seeds.

She is also an important meadow plant because the bacteria in the tiny nodules on the roots help to fix nitrogen in the soil so also good for the compost heap. Containing Vitamins C and B, Magnesium, Zinc, Copper, Selenium, Chlorine and Calcium - so the leaves are brilliant additions to salads. The plant also contains small amounts of silica, Choline, and Lecithin - all essential for normal bodily function.

Skin Healing
There is often a lot of scar tissue formed around the damaged areas from the pustules that form under the skin in acne.  Healing herbs are important to help break down this fibrous tissue and restore soft, clear skin.  As herbalists we use herbs that grow prolifically around us believing that help is always close at hand.  To support the healing, we use the common Daisy, Bellis perenis.


The common daisy that grows in the grass is one of the most under used and wonderful remedies. She is a fantastic herb, so prolific and easily recognisable a really simple safe herbal remedy.
She is our native arnica, bringing out the child in us all, renews joy and helps to heal emotional bruising reflected in that when you stand on a daisy, it bounces back.

Her use here in the treatment of Acne is as both a lymphatic and healing agent. Making daisy medicine is as simple as going out into any grass lands or unsprayed garden and picking the flower heads of the delicate pink , white and yellow flowers, this is a delightful task!

Then drying them out, I lie all my herbs on newspaper and then leave them in the airing cupboard, turning them daily until they are bone dry, then put them into various old glass jars, which look wonderful in my kitchen and then finally make colourful, delicious mixes to drink as tea.

To potentiate or help these actions to work more efficiently it is good to use a herb to help improve the circulation to the area you’re trying to treat.  Yarrow is a commonly found aromatic, ideal for this job.


Yarrow is extremely common growing alongside grass in our lawns.  He often doesn’t get to flower, chopped down during mowing. His Latin name is Achillea melifolium.  Achillea is from Achilles, the great Greek warrior.  He was said to have used yarrow to staunch the blood of his wounded soldiers on the battlefield.  I have seen yarrow staunch deep wounds almost instantly after being chewed up and placed on the site, great for nose bleeds too. Melifolium means a thousand leaves in Latin and that’s what it has, a thousand, tiny, feathery leaves. We gave yarrow the persona of a trusty collie dog, always there by your side to protect and support you.  We use him in spell work and room cleansing to clear and protect a space.

With his feathery appearance, we see yarrow as a herb ruled by the element air.  Air has the quality of moving things by promoting blood flow, through relaxing the peripheral blood vessels. This wonderful aromatic herb is a great addition to our clear complexion, skin mix. 

Steam Facials are also a good tools to use I fill a basin with boiling water and a few drops of lavender essential oil then ask my acne or spot suffering patients to put a towel over their heads and leave their faces in the steam for 5-10 mins.

As we mentioned before, diet and nutrition play a big part.  Cutting out fats and sugars will really help, so no fizzy pop and visits to the chippie not easy for your average teenager but vital to develop good habits for the future. Drinking loads of water the recommendation is  2 litres of water over a day will help to flush out toxins thus clearing the blood.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Rootz Workshop

Valerian coming out da ground
So today we met in our community garden and got to work in the freezing cold bright sunny morning digging up roots. Its close to the new moon, just gone this last weekend, so a good time to work with roots. This time of year most of the plants have flowers and have gone to seed so all the energy is dropping back down into the earthy roots...

We focused on 4 plants; Nettle, Marshmallow, Valerian and Elecampane In pairs and three took turns working with each plant. Observing the differences and similarities between them.

Yellow Rhizomes
The Nettle is bright yellow and close to the surface of the earth as you pull on them they come away easily. 

The Elecampane was a lot more stubborn to come away and much deeper set with hues of burgundy and creamy white, Marshmallow again was extremely deep set and training along the ground, Kris joked about ‘giving birth to the root’ as he worked really hard to unearth it. The valerian had us all sat around the ground playing, teasing its millions of tiny worm-like rootlets gently away from the soil….

We brought our bounty home and Kris set to work  destroying mybathroom washing and scrubbing the Elecampane in the bath. The valerian got the kids paddling pool for a washing, the marshmallow, washed and ready first so Belle got to work chop chop chopping away. The fibrous roots were quite difficult to process in contrast to the much crisper and more similar to cutting a carrot marshmallow in fact there were a lot of similarities to carrots with that one!

I am writing this pretty ‘out of my head’ as I nibbled on a little bit of the valerian, not expecting to feel quite this hazy…. straight after chewing it I lost the power of speech! Nutty whilst you are trying to run a workshop and explain the medicinal applications of the herbs…. Luckily all the other participants were also totally valerianed up.

We made tinctures and prepared root for drying and then sat discussing and making notes about each plant.

Nettle Root – The roots of this plant are really rhizomes travelling across country in a clever fully connected network. The taste is sweet, astringent and salty. It dried all our mouths out very quickly! Reminding us of its Mars like qualities of Heating and Drying, Fire force element. Sweet gives it the potential for tonifying in deficiency conditions. Astringent allows it to contain fluids, to stop bleeding and discharge. Its salty taste points to the ability to soften hardness and dissolve deposits

Stinging nettle root is used for urination problems related to an enlarged Prostate (benign Prostate hypertrophy).

Marshmallow- We ate a piece each and soon our mouths very extremely mucousy, coated in a gelatinous type substance, it over ridding qualities cooling and moistening marshmallow root does contains a lot of mucilage, which is exactly a gooey gelatinous substance that some plants naturally produce. It acts as a demulcent, so a soothing film coats all the irritated mucus membranes, thus reducing pain and inflammation quickly. This is the primary mechanism of action, although marshmallow root also adds moisture, reduces inflammation and acts as a mild diuretic. Very useful in a massive variety of differing conditions.

one of my favourite lung herbs we ate a piece and immediately felt a bit like we were eating soap! The saponins responsible for this taste act as irritants to lung tissue provoking an expectorant action.

As well as this expectorant or bringing phelm up and out action it is also, anti-tussive (stops coughing), sedative, anti-fungal, relaxing, warming, and anti-microbial. Elecampane is extremely soothing to bronchial tube linings and is used as a specific remedy for chronic bronchitis and bronchial asthma as the root contains these amazing constituents; helenalin, helenin, and inulin, a phytochemical that coats and soothes bronchial passages and is an expectorant which helps to reduce chronic bronchitis secretions.
This wonderful herb is being used to relieve symptoms of pulmonary tuberculosis and, according to recent research on tuberculosis; Elecampane’s volatile oils stimulate circulation and the bronchi, bronchioles and nose.
There is also exciting research showing that Elecampane is active againsgt MRSA
Valerian -  Little bright white wormy rootlets, really crisp and crunchy to chop. We were all quite drawn to working and processin this one.

Valerian is used extensively for nervousness, insomnia, and muscle spasms, including menstrual cramping. Valerian, however, is not a plant well suited to all people. Rather than relieving nervousness, anxiety, and promoting restful sleep, valerian can stimulate and increase hyperactivity. Not all of us even ate a piece but the room suddenly fell silent and everyone became introspective and sleepy.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Stellaria media CHICKWEED

I have been juicing the chickweed from my vegetable beds these past few days, chickweed, beetroot n apple has been my staple. I don’t normally go for the greens this time of year as they often are ‘done’ after flowering and fruiting…but the chickweed is still budding here in my garden. In fact it seems positively spring-like. I have also been chopping the plentiful leaves and stems up and adding a few of them to my salads they have a pleasant slightly salty, slightly soapy taste but most of all that green, green flavour that I know is so nourishing and nutritive.

I love the tiny delicate star shaped white flowers of this creeping, succulant green invader. I feel her medicine is bright and illuminatory.
A herb of the moon it is cooling and soothing and possibly most famous for its' amazing ability to treat hot, itchy skin conditions swiftly, moon herbs also exert control over the movements of water within the body. I use it pre-menstrually when I often get water retention it quickly relieves the bloated heavy feelings that can arrive.
A lot of the benefits ascribed to chickweed may simply be the result of its high nutritional value, one of the more nutrient-dense weeds readily available for nourishment and medicine. It contains generous amounts of: Magnesium, iron, calcium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, silicon, zinc and sodium. It is also high in vitamin C (ascorbates), bioflavinoids, vitamin A, and some of the B-complex vitamins such as niacin. It also contains gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), a fatty acid that is a bit of a panacea really.
Birds and chickens are known to avidly feed on the seeds and leaves of chickweed hence its name. The ancient Latin name for it was Morsus gallinae which means a morsel or bite for hens.

Chickweed is classified as a demulcent herb, meaning that it soothes and reduces irritations of the mucous membranes. Demulcents coat, shield, lubricate and soothe inflamed tissue while relieving the pain associated with inflammation. Also classified as an expectorant, mostly to do with its Saponin content, acting upon the bronchi and lungs to promote the expulsion of mucous from the respiratory tract. Due to these qualities, European herbalists have used chickweed successfully in the treatment of TB, whooping cough, bronchitis and the common cold and flu. In the 1860s and 1870s, herbals published by Shaker communities described how they utilised this herb to treat any inflammations of the eye, as well as acute bacterial skin infections.

I believe that Chickweed has an influence on the liver helping to cool irritated hot and angry tissue within this busy organ and I often suggest chickweed as a hangover cure, for just this type of symptomatic picture.

The beetroot, chickweed n apple fresh juice is a fabulous immune, nervous, digestive, lymphatic, respiratory tonic........mmmmmmmmmmmmm tasty too
stir it up

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Autumnal Reflections

I went on a Shamanic Course on the coast near Seaford over the weekend with Dawn and Lorraine of the Eagles Wings Medicine School. The course was entitled Awakening the Enchantress and these words enchanted me... I was curious and I love learning new things.


The morning before I set off I felt a little confused at myself, menstrual and introspective I sat thinking,’ Why did I book on this course? My Enchantress is well n truly awake!' I did my morning yoga n settled my monkey mind telling myself to be still and let things wash over me. Made myself a pot of raspberry leaf, ladies mantle, nettle n yarrow tea to easy my blood time and set off on my journey to meet the ladies.

The retreat was held at Gayle’s Farm a beautiful venue on the South coast I arrived and plotted myself in a bed in the smaller dorm. Everyone arrived together it seemed all chatty and warm, it felt fab to be surrounded by women. We sat in a circle and sang chants to open the weekend and as my voice and heart opened I felt home, I felt accepted, I felt calm and part of a whole.  Sat in a circle of 16 women whom I had never met before, as we sang in  circle they became my sisters.

The Ant was pulled from the tarot deck and what I heard was Patience, Trust and Strategy....and what I thought of was community co-operation.

There were times over the weekend when I questioned as to what I was doing there being guided to connect with an Enchantress that is ME. There were times over the weekend when I was moved to express tears simply by listening to others talk. I am grateful to Dawn and Lorraine who showed me warmth, compassion, love and generosity of spirit. I trust them and their expert guidance in their craft. What struck me most about these 2 Women was their, Down to Earth manor. Shamanism comes in as many guises as Yoga or DJs and these Shamanic Women are my kind o Music...I can dance with them, knowing if I throw in some silly moves they'll laugh along with me.....

What I learnt about myself is that through being gentler I am more focused and powerful. My personal mission is growing and developing and changing with the seasons. Fiona and I are now at a stage, 10 yrs down the line of Sensory Herbcraft's Birth that we can employ a fund raiser…Our dreams are real we are walking in them. Change is possible for our planet and our race and through compassion, love and care it is happening.

One thing that really empowered me over the weekend was when I searched my soul for my RANT, my RANT was one of deep compassion I don't feel disempowered in anyway, I trust and believe fully in Life, whatever shit is around challenging my balance. We each have an enourmous power inside of us to light up the world. Planting seeds, literally to grow our food and medicine and seeds of hope so that through communication and education we can create brilliant amazing changes.

Today I shared drinks of beetroot, apple, cucumber, chickweed n nettle juice from the back garden and soup of our potatoes, leeks, tomatoes and rosemary….. and the world is bright and clear….