Category Archives: Folk Remedies

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!


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.

Curiosity why some things work…

I am sure my best friend won’t mind if I use my darling Godson as a blog post subject.

My 2 year old Godson has been stricken with croup and a chesty cough on top of that now, and he has been sleeping fitfully and being sick a lot as well.  Poor little chap.  It was suggested by one of our mutual Facebook friends that she try putting Vicks Vapo-rub on the soles of his feet to stop the coughing.  It worked!


After reporting this fact, my friend was curious as to why it worked, and to be fair, I was thoroughly intrigued and so I have done some speedy research.  I know from previous research that a traditional folk remedy for bad chests is to put poultices on your feet, and I know anecdotally that it works a treat, but what is the scientific reason why it works?

My research turned up something called the Theory of Counter Irritation.  Essentially, what this states is that if you have an internal pain, or discomfort in one place, then causing a pain or irritation in another place  or externally will help alleviate the original pain or discomfort.  That seems something of a circular argument to me, seeing as you will still have a pain or irritation, but I suppose the menthol, eucalyptus and camphor in the Vapo-rub is not really pain.  It isn’t really discomfort either.  Still.  I am not sure I am necessarily convinced by this argument.

reflexology chart

So the other explanation I found surrounds reflexology and how parts of the feet essential parts of this holistic practice.  Basically, the idea behind reflexology is that there are different areas of the feet which have links to different parts of the body.  Massaging the feet can, according to this theory, really assist you in maintaining overall health.  My hypothesis in relation to Vicks Vapo-Rub is therefore that rubbing the warming jelly on the feet will relax the body and if the body is relaxed, then hopefully coughing will be less of an issue.  I don’t know about you, but after having a foot rub, I tend to be all floppy and relaxed, so this theory persuades me slightly more.

toddler sleeping

In the final analysis however, who cares why it works.  When you are desperate to do something to help a small person struggling to sleep and coughing a lot, you are really only worried about making sure SOMETHING works, not necessarily why it works or how it works.  Still, something to be remembered for the next time I feel like death warmed up and have a cough that just won’t quit!