As promised… results from my blood tests

Well, the good news is that I am resoundingly normal.  Seriously… nothing at all to report from the blood tests, except that my triglycerides are a little elevated.  My doctor has suggested I reduce my carb intake and that will help that number.


The bad news is that the pain I have in every joint in my body is, according to the doctor, because I have lost weight and if I continue to lose weight then I will magically stop being in pain and it will all be fine.  What a total crock.  I am so angry.  I had hoped that this GP would be better than my last one.  To be fair, he was lovely about it, and was not rude or belligerent, which is a nice change, but still the doctors in this country won’t look at the person in front of them as an individual.  They see the symptoms.


The doctor has told me that I have to get down to a BMI of 25.  You all know my thoughts about BMI in the first place (another absolute crock) and I have done the calculations.  To have that magic number on my medical records, I need to lose 91 and a half pounds from where I am now.  That is 6 and a half stone.  For goodness sake.  It has taken me 13 years to get down 6 stone, and another year to lose the last 28 pounds.  I am fighting for every sodding ounce to leave my body.   Another 91 and a half pounds?  Someone pass me a saw and I will lop a limb or two off.  Seriously, I just can’t see how I am can keep this up.


However… I am supposed to be training to be a herbalist and naturopath, so I will do the whole “Physician Heal Thyself” thing.  I have done my research… assuming I have fibromyalgia, which is what I think I have, I need to top up the Vitamin D levels, fish oils need to be in my diet, preservatives are out as is “fake sugar”, I have to cut out or cut down on caffeine (*sob*) and I need to up even further the number of fruit and veg I have in a day.  How, I am not sure, but there you go.

veg patch

Needless to say, I am a little overwhelmed with this at the moment.   Once I have a plan of action, I will let you all know and we can see if I can sort myself out where conventional medicine has singularly failed to do so.



When herbalism needs help from conventional medicine…

I haven’t posted here for so many weeks, but I think my excuse is probably the best one there is.

My last post detailed how my husband and I were about to start the introduction process to our son, who we welcomed into our family via Adoption.  Although the legal process still has a way to go, I am pleased to report that the little fellow has settled into our home very well, and I can’t really remember a time when he wasn’t part of our lives.

motherhood 1

I have a new found understanding for how tired Mothers can be.  I am blessed with a child who sleeps soundly through the night, and even when he is grumpy, he hardly grizzles or gets upset.  He’s teething, and still, he is a ray of sunshine.  I know we are lucky.  But I am still on my knees with fatigue, and I am so tired, I think even my tired is tired.  I am sleeping every single night for 8 to 10 hours, depending on when I haul myself up to bed, and yet I wake feeling as tired as I went to sleep.  Put it this way, I am so sick and tired of feeling sick and tired, I have voluntarily headed to the medical doctor to get tested and rule out lots of possible things this could be.

Do I feel like I am traitor to my Herbalism dream?  Should I be just taking natural remedies to make myself feel better?  Well, it would be nice if I could, but no, I am not a traitor, and no, I am not going to say I won’t take chemical treatments if that is what is called for.  I am a realist if nothing else.


I love that I can grow things to help me and maybe keep me healthy, but asking questions and working out what is wrong with someone else, can only go so far.  Herbs do not cure you… they support your body to do the curing on its own, and there are some things where Herbs are not going to cut it.  For example, thyroid disease.  No amount of eating foods which stimulate the thyroid gland is going to help you if your thyroid gland is not performing correctly.  Also Cancer.  Although a healthy diet and clean eating is a good preventative for getting some forms of cancer, there is still a risk that you will get sick from one of the other forms of cancer, and quite frankly, herbs are going to be the least of your worries.  Another example, Multiple Sclerosis.  I have several friends with the disease and as much as I would like to tell them that eating this one herb is going to cure them… umm… no.  I would be a fraud, no better than a snake oil salesman if I told them that.

complimentary and conventional

That is why I believe it is important that Herbalism and Conventional medicine work hand in hand.  I do not have the capacity to perform a spectrum of tests that the GP can perform.  I do not have the medical training.  But I can tell you that if you use herbs you can boost your immune system, you can reduce inflammation, you can feel better in yourself.   I think that is worth something in itself.

In the meantime, I am interested to see what the blood tests show up for me.


Helping out a very stressed little one… as naturally as possible…

Sorry for the gap in posts again.  I am afraid it is going to happen with more regularity, as the big news from us is that we have FINALLY been approved to adopt a little boy.  We have met him, we have been in front of a panel of people and they agreed we would be a good match, and we have even planned the introduction process.


But over the last couple of days, I have been thinking about our prospective little boy, and how confused and upset he is likely to feel when he leaves his foster carers and their home, the only home he has ever known and comes to our home, the home he will be in for the rest of his life.  The only word I can use to describe what he will feel is trauma.


Now, we will of course do our utmost to ensure that the little guy is as comfortable as possible with the transition, but I am expecting some upsets.  Despite the best will in the world, his routine is going to be disturbed and upset, and that is unsettling for anyone.  Plus, you know, we are strangers to him at the moment and that has to be unnerving.   I have done some research into what I can do herbally to help him recover though, and I think it is advice I might be taking for hubby and I as well.


The first major thing in getting over any trauma at all, is to get support while you are going through it.  Obviously, we will be supporting our little boy, and luckily we have a wide and diverse network out there to support us.  I have no doubt we will be availing ourselves… be it with help with the ironing, to walking the dog duties, to being at the end of a telephone in case things get a bit much for us and we need to bounce ideas off of them.  We are blessed to have so many people ready and willing to help us out.

toddler sleeping

The next important thing is rest.  I am sure that our little one will sleep a lot.  He is at the age where he is making a lot of brain leaps anyway, and add into the mix the trauma of changing families, and he is going to be sleeping quite a bit more… on these occasions, sleep is great.  It rejuvenates, it helps the body to reinvigorate, and it restores the nervous system.  Sleep even brings greater resistance to stress.    Even if the night time sleep is patchy, there are always naps.  Naps are awesome and I have every intention of taking advantage of them as and when I can.


Optimal nutrition is going to play a huge part in the recovery for our little guy.  We are lucky because the foster carers have done an amazing job with him, and he has a healthy appetite.  He eats everything that is put in front of him.  Except peas.  Well, that is okay, I don’t suppose I was wild about peas at his age either.  I am going to be keeping food simple, cooked from fresh and low on sugar and wheat.  He will get some wheat, because my readers will know I do not hold with cutting out major food groups just for the sake of it.  Sugar, of course, we all know is the enemy our modern age.  Fruit sugar… no problem.  Added sugar?  Not on your life!


The big thing though is going to be how he processes the trauma.  For adults there are myriad talking therapies, but for a little guy… well, we are kind of at a loss. We have made an introduction book for him which will be important to read with him again and again, and we can sit and quietly read books to him and tell him stories.  I think the major thing will be to create a calm atmosphere, maintain that calm atmosphere and be understanding when the meltdowns inevitably happen.



But one thing I am definitely going to have in my arsenal is Bach Rescue Remedy.  I have seen it turn a hysterically crying child who is in shock after falling down and hurting themselves into a biddable quiet child again in very short order indeed.  I am even going to pack some in our baby bag (you know, the pantechnicon which is carried EVERYWHERE with you and is packed with everything you might possibly need!).  You never when you might need it… and not just for the baby!


I have no idea when I am going to be able to get back to this page… but I am sure you understand that my priorities lie elsewhere just at the moment.  In 1 months time, I will be a full time Mum to a nearly 14 month old.  Wow.  That takes some computing!



How to keep safe in the summer heat…

It is relatively unusual for the British Weather forecast to contain a weather warning for heat!  Usually we have weather warnings for rain, wind, ice and snow!  However… this week, due to a lot of heat over Spain and South Easterly winds, we are due to have heatwave.


There is an old adage about “Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun”.  I have observed that Northern Europeans certainly seem to get into sleeveless tops and shorts the first time sun shows up (my husband and I went to Rome on Honeymoon – it was 15 degrees celsius at the end of February and the Roman natives were snuggled in winter coats and the Northern Europeans were all in T shirts and shorts!).  But this abandon in sunshine can lead to discomfort and illness, and I don’t know about you, but I like to avoid that if at all possible.

tap water

So, the first things to mention are the most obvious.  Keep hydrated.  In hot weather, you will sweat more, so drink more water.  I am not suggesting you gulp down 4 or 5 litres, but be sensible.  If you do lots of high octane activity, you might want to tone it down in hot weather.  Also, always be safe in the sun and use sun protection creams, wear a t-shirt, sunglasses and a hat.  Yes, even if you look daft in a hat.  We are talking safety here, not fashion.  And keep out of the sun between 11.30 and 3pm.  It is when the sun is at its zenith and when the day will be hottest.  That midday sun we were talking about!!

water drop

However, if you do get heatstroke or sunstroke, here is a rehydration liquid recipe from one of my favourite websites….


  • 6 level teaspoons of sugar
  • 1 level teaspoon of salt
  • 1 litre of boiled and cooled water
  • 200ml of orange juice or a splash of fruit cordial to make it more palatable

Put everything in a glass, stir until the sugar and salt have dissolved and neck it.

I am reliably informed that this works a treat, and I hope it helps if anyone gets caught out by the heat.  In the meantime… stay safe and enjoy the sunshine!

A Friday facial? Yes… why not!

Unfortunately, it is not in a high end spa.  Today, I have done the glamorous task of defrosting the freezer.  It is one of the worst tasks of housework I think… next to oven cleaning.  And ironing.  Instead of whining about it and feeling miserable, I cracked on with the job, getting it done as quickly as I could.

domestic goddess

As an aside, can I totally recommend using a steam cleaner for the job?  Obviously it will work better if it can be detached from the mop bit… but luckily, mine can be.  45 minutes later, the glacier from the last ice age which had taken residence in my freezer is no more, and the freezer contents actually has some breathing room.

In addition, my face has been steamed, just like in a spa.  But, you know, with less glamour.  Sopping wet towels from the run off and kneeling on a concrete floor contorting yourself to get the icicle hanging at the back of the freezer is not really the scene I would like to have when opening my pores.  But I will take it!

spa steam

So, it got me thinking what sort of facials I could whip up at home, using natural ingredients and maybe herbs from the garden.  Off to my friend Google to see what I could find.  And of course it came up trumps!

mint 2

As it is summer (although the weather seems to have lost that memo entirely), I found several really good refreshing face masks.  The first one is made of fresh mint leaves (which are growing like crazy in my garden at the moment).  If you take a good handful of them, along with enough luke warm water for them to be blended to a paste, and then add a pinch of turmeric powder… you will have an antibiotic and refreshing face mask.  Leave it on the face, having avoided the eye area, for about 10 minutes and then wash it off with cool water.  Be careful only to use a pinch of turmeric as it is known for dying what it touches a nice shade of orange.  Just a warning there… though the antibiotic properties are more than worth it!



If you have a cucumber lying about in the fridge looking sorry for itself, you could peel it and mash up the flesh along with 1tbsp of sugar.  The flesh needs to be kept a bit chunky though as you don’t want a liquid.  Mix in the sugar well and then apply to the face and leave it for 10 minutes.  Wash it all off and pat dry and you will have brighter and refreshed skin.  It is really cooling for those hot, hot days, especially as you can make it ahead of time and keep it in the fridge.  It is also extremely good for sensitive skins.


Another really summery recipe requires strawberries and lemons.  I would be inclined to add the lemon to a cool drink of water and the strawberries straight into my mouth, but if you can bear not to eat them, mash them together into a spreadable paste.   You need about 2 tbsp of lemon juice, 1 tbsp of yogurt and 1 tbsp of honey.  Mix it all together, apply to the face and leave it to dry.  Then you can wash it off and pat it dry.  Strawberries have salicylic acid which is great for calming acne outbreaks and lemon juice tightens the skin to refresh it.

If you use any of these recipes, you will have to let me know how they turn out… I think I might whisk up some of the cucumber sugar scrub and add some mint, to see how that works out!  Watch this space!

Bindweed…. Bane or Boon?

If you are of a vaguely horticultural bent, your instant reaction to the that title is most probably… BANE… of my very existence.  Well, read on… because it might change your mind.

Lawn stripes

It has been the perfect day for getting out into the garden today, and as it has been nearly two weeks since the grass had stripes in it, due to a marquee being in the way as well as terrible weather and the painting of the kitchen to be done, the grass was seriously due for a cut.  We had begun to lose small garden birds in the grass growth, and it was looking untidy.

As I wrestled the green monster (our lawnmower) around the back garden I happened to notice that there was a significant patch of bindweed doing its level best to strangle the columbines and other plants in my prime site flower bed – just outside the big greenhouse.  Now this bed has always been prone to a bindweed infestation, but this growth?  Wow.  It is rivalling Japanese Knotweed!!  I continued to put my stripes in my lawn (diagonal this time, if you are interested!) and mused about whether there was anything medicinal or beneficial about bindweed.


When I came in having exerted some order over our outside space, I decided to Google bindweed and see what I could come up with.  And would you know it…!  It is actually useful!!  I have been studying herbalism and plant based medicines for over 2 years now, and I am still gobsmacked at how useful everything seems to be, even those plants we moan about for being weeds.  Bindweed is exactly the same.

Apparently, it is well known that Convolvulus arvensis (Bindweed to you and me) has purification properties.  It is well known that bindweed can really lift the heavy metals and other chemical which might be hidden in over used agricultural land.  It can also act as a nitrogen fixer and restore the fertility and balance of the soil.  It is a fabulous detoxifier – not just externally but internally too.  It is apparently a rich source of all kinds of compounds too which are mostly used in anti depressive drugs.

The roots of bindweed, assuming you can find them, act as a purgative – so basically vomit inducing.  I would seriously avoid making homemade preparations with these effects.  Native Americans used the leaves as an antidote to spider bites.  At the moment there is some serious research going on with extract of bindweed to see if it helps to halt the growth of tumours.  In addition, bindweed seems to exhibit a lot of similar actions to anti-diabetic drugs.  Again, I issue the health warning.  Please do not make homemade preparations and use them as an alternative to drugs that your doctor may have given you.

pink bindweed

The flowers of bindweed, which can be either pink or white, also exhibit antibacterial and anti-fungal properties and there is evidence that they work on E.coli, Salmonella and Candida.

My research did throw up one thing that just made me laugh and laugh though.  Apparently Bindweed is great for treating stress to soothe and calm the mind and nerves.  The irony is that most gardeners who find a huge patch of it will react precisely the opposite!!  I am sorry, but that made me giggle.

So… why have I posted a second blog in as many days?  Well, partly to keep my hand in and partly because I had the inspiration, but also because I am not going to be around tomorrow, which would be my usual posting day.  I am off to White Post Farm, a local children’s attraction with my Godson and his family!  It is going to be so much fun.  We are packing a picnic and everything!  I hope you enjoyed it and I plan to be back on Friday, if I get any more inspiration.

Getting back to the blog…

I have been very remiss about keeping up with this blog in the last 5 weeks.  Goodness me… has it really been as long as that?!  I have a very good excuse though.

As many of my regular readership know, my husband and I have been going through the fairly tortuous UK Adoption process.  After really beginning to believe that we were never going to get a match… ever… we got the call from our social worker that changed everything.  And put even more onto my to do list than I ever thought humanly possible.

So, although we have been matched with a little boy, there are still multitudinous things that can go wrong.  We are getting excited, and we are getting prepared, but there is no definite placement until all the bureaucratic hoops have been jumped through.  The first thing we had to do was do a massive spring clean.

Now, you guys know that I keep a clean house.  It isn’t clinical by any means, but it is clean.  Well, apparently, according to our social worker and her colleague, not clean enough.  Despite the p;ace being cleaner and tidier than usual, we had to get new covers for the sofa and chairs, we have to get new throws for the sofa, we had to get new furniture for the conservatory.  Yes, really.  And no, I am not kidding.  I was told I had to bring flowers in from the garden and we basically had to stage the house as if we were going to feature in an edition of Homes & Gardens.  I was more or less informed that I do not clean enough, that my house smells of dog (no it bloody well doesn’t!) and that the social worker would have a very critical eye and clearly my house would fail miserably.  As I am sure you can imagine, I was a little annoyed by that.  But I wrote it all down, and ticked off each thing that I had been asked to do.  And then I listed the things I had done extra to that big list.

As it turned out, the little one’s social worker walked in and loved the place.  She told us she could imagine the little guy in our garden and that was it really.  We showed her around, we gave her the tour of the house, I fed the social workers a light meal (yes, I had to do that too…!) and they were so impressed they took home doggy bags.  Yes.  Really.

Was it all over after the biggest clean of our married life?  Nope.  Then there were visits.  Then there was more redecorating to do.  Then there was my In Laws big house-warming party which meant I had an enormous tent on the garden.  Then there was a week of painting in the kitchen to do.  And so… here we are.

I am now officially taking a break from decorating for the foreseeable future… I have plenty of other stuff to be getting on with, not least getting the garden straight, restoring my lawn into something I am proud of and re-conquering the twin peaks of Mount Washmore and Mount Ironmore.  Oh, and studying.  And blogging.

I hope to write again soon.