Tag Archives: Antibacterial

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.


Looking for longevity…

Maybe it is the fact it is the beginning of a new year, or perhaps it has something to do with packing away the Christmas decorations for another year.  Whatever it is, I am thinking about things in a long term way, and I am trying to extend that long term for as long as possible.


I have been putting away my Christmas pressies as part of undecorating the house from the festivities and one of my presents was from my lovely hubby who bought me a book called “Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health” by Rosemary Gladstar.  The boy knows me well.  Perfect present, right up my street.  So, in the bid for longevity of this blog, I decided I would do what I did for the month of November and plan out my blogs from here until Easter.  I am also borrowing from the #NaBloWriMo methodology I employed, and I am going to base my blog posts on the contents of this very book.  There will be interesting snippets to share and recipes for herbal treatments, combined with some extra research from me, and maybe the odd snippet about the rest of what is going on in my life.  The one thing I will not be doing is posting every day.  That nearly wiped me out entirely, and with the stuff I have planned for the rest of this year, I am not really going to have the time to write a blog every day.  So, I am going to attempt to blog regularly, three times a week, but maybe not always on the same days or at the same time.  2015 is looking like it is going to be really, really busy… so my devoted readers are now on notice!

book pressie

Handily enough, there is a section in the “Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health” book about herbs which help with longevity.  It is interesting that the author states that herbs which help to increase life expectancy tend to be related to the Eastern style of herbal medicine.  Her argument is that the Western and Native American herbal traditions were effectively stamped out due to persecution of those who were skilled in the herbal lore – be that because they were condemned by the Inquisition, or were deemed to be witches or whatever – whereas the traditions in the Orient and India were effectively handed down via oral tradition.  I know that a lot of the herbal traditions of Europe have been lost, but instead of dwelling on the negative, let’s see if there are some herbs which help to extend life, or at least increase the verve and vigour for life.

My research indicates that western herbal medicine says that herbs for longevity are mostly about being a tonic.  That really means that the herb is taken in small amounts and over long periods of time.  It is not intended to alter or effect any symptom particularly, but rather it is meant to give long term benefits.  Ideally, the tonic will nourish the mind, body and spirit… but to be honest, I will take something that can guarantee to banish the colds and coughs flying around at this time of year.

fire cider

In this spirit then, here is a recipe for a Fire Cider.  This is a tonic designed to “light your fires”…. judging by the ingredients, they are not kidding.  No open flames around your mouth after drinking some of this stuff!!  You take half a cup of chopped ginseng root, either fresh or dried, a quarter of a cup of grated ginger root, a quarter of a cup of grated horseradish, an eighth of a cup of chopped garlic and cayenne pepper to taste.  You place all of these items into a glass jar, pour in enough apple cider vinegar to cover the herbs by an inch or to and then seal tightly.  You need to let this mix sit for 4 weeks.  After this time, strain out the herbs and sweeten with agave nectar or honey to your own taste.  I would suggest a tablespoon of the mixture daily ought to be enough to put some pep in your step… but perhaps I might suggest brushing your teeth after imbibing!!  Though I do understand that it makes a very nice salad dressing, so that might be another way of taking your longevity tonic!

Let me know if you have any success with the fire cider.  But one health warning…. do NOT sniff the grated horseradish root… it is very, very powerful and extremely tear inducing.  Great at clearing the sinuses… but… OUCH!

Is star anise really a herbal star?

This will be the final post in our spicy mini-series.  It has been an interesting week for me to learn about some more spices, but I have noticed that my word count has been a little low each day.  I hope that hasn’t prevented your enjoyment in reading them.


So, today, I want to write about star anise.  It is used in the kitchen quite often as a culinary spice but it also has several medicinal properties.  It is the fruit of an evergreen tree native to China.  It is a very important constituent in Chinese Five Spice as well.

star anise

Star Anise is rich in a chemical called shikimic acid.  This acid is anti viral, and in fact, Tamiflu, which is used to fight influenza is the synthesized form of this chemical.   Star Anise is also anti-fungal and has been shown to clear up candida infections throughout the human body.


Star Anise is anti-bacterial.  Researchers in Taiwan have tested 4 new antimicrobial compounds from star anise which were found to be effective against 67 strains of drug resistant bacteria.   It is also an anti-oxidant and could be useful in fighting cancer.  Star Anise is also used to help nursing mothers to promote breast milk production.

star anise 1

If I were to use it in medicinal remedies, I would use probably use it in decoctions for asthma, bronchial coughs, and for digestive complaints including flatulence, bloating, colicky stomach pain, nausea and indigestion.


Please… pass the Gin!

Okay, so 8 in the morning is a bit early, but the spice I am going to write about today is what gives Gin its very distinctive flavour.  All hail the juniper berry.

juniper berries

I am not a huge fan of Gin.  I had a very bad  time with Gin nearly 20 years ago and I never wish to repeat it thank you very much indeed, but I do have some juniper berries lying about.  I use them when I make a game stew, or roast Venison, but even so, I want to see what else juniper berries can do.  I have to tell you, I didn’t think they would be up to much.


I was wrong!  What an interesting little berry.  Juniper is grown on a bush, common in Europe and North America and it has a very distinctive smell.  Apparently you can make medicinal preparations from the extract of juniper berries as well as essential oil.

dried juniper berries

Traditionally juniper has been used for digestive problems including upset stomach and intestinal gas as well as heartburn, bloating and loss of appetite.  It stimulates the pancreas to release insulin, so it can help to manage diabetes, and can help to regulate appetite.    It is useful in treating Gastro Intestinal infections as it is anti bacterial as well as potentially being anti-inflammatory.  Apparently it also sees off intestinal worms.  Juniper has also been used to treat snakebites as it is useful for numbing localised pain.  It has also been used as a diuretic.


How you take juniper needs to be considered carefully.  As Gin it is not ideal.  And do not use for longer then 4 weeks in any case as it can cause issues.    Personally I think I shall continue to use it in cooking.



Let’s get spicy!

It would appear that the Writer’s block is over.  Hoorah!  And very many thanks to my lovely husband who came up with the ideas for this week’s blog posts.  He is a star, he really is!



I have done a mini series on herbs, and I have touched on some spices, but I thought I would have a good look through the jars in the kitchen and see what other things we can use for medicine.  How good can some of these things be for us?


Today’s blog post is all about Nutmeg.  I am very partial to Nutmeg.  I love using it when I am cooking.  Lots on top of an oven baked rice pudding or grated over sautéed spinach.  Really tasty.  It is also essential for many spiced cookie recipes.  Mmmm.  Spiced cookies…

nutmeg and mace

Nutmeg comes from an evergreen tropical tree.  It is actually the seed of the tree and is two spices in one.  The nutmeg is the seed, but wrapped around the seed is a spice called Mace.  Nutmeg has quite a history attached to it, and at one time was one of the most expensive spices in the world and it was said that if you could lay your hands on 7 or 8 nutmegs, then your financial future was secure for the rest of your life!  Thankfully it is not as expensive these days.  It also lasts for ages!


Nutmeg has traditionally been used for nervous and digestive ailments.  The essential oil of nutmeg has been used in toothpaste and in some cough syrups as well.  Nutmeg is generally seen to be a sedative, a stimulant, a relaxant, anti-inflammatory, antispetic and a bactericide.

nutmeg ground

Nutmeg is also a potent brain booster.  It increases circulation thereby allowing you to concentrate better and for lnger.  It works by stimulating the brain and therefore removing mental exhaustion and stress.  It also stimulates the cardiovascular system so is a good tonic for the heart and there is good evidence for it being a liver and kidney detoxifier.


If you are looking for some kind of external application, then blending the essential oil with a carrier oil is the way to go.  It is very effective at relieving rheumatic pain, neuralgia and sciatica.  It has also been used for the relief of menstrual cramps and muscular and joint pain.  During my research, I have also found that using a massage of nutmeg oil 3 weeks before the delivery of a child can really help during the birth.  I am not so sure about this one… so I would use caution if you want to do this.


Hopefully this has taught you some stuff about nutmeg and using it.  I have a new found respect for it certainly!









A change from green leafy herbs

So, we have done five green leafy herbs (I am including the Parsley post in that count) so now, I want to think about some other herbs which are a little different in habit, but still just as powerful.  You can still grow this on a windowsill, but perhaps in a separate pot from the rest of the herbs as it needs some different conditions to grow in.  Today the blog is about thyme.

thyme leaves

Thyme is a perennial shrub with a think woody base and square stems.  The leaves are tiny and richly fragrant, with lilac or white flowers that appear in summer.  Bees love them.  And the bees that love them produce some fabulous tasting honey!


My favourite way of having thyme is in a lemon and breadcrumb stuffing for roast chicken.  I am salivating just typing about that!!  But you can also use it in tea, soups and stews.  You can use the flowers, the leaves and the oil distilled from the leaves for the treatment of all kinds of ailments.  From my research it includes bedwetting, diarrhea, stomach ache, arthritis, sore throat, colic, coughs and bronchitis and flatulence.


It has been used for thousands of years.   Ancient Egyptians used it for embalming, Ancient Greeks used it as an incense in temples and was commonly added to bath water.  The Romans used it as a cheese and alcoholic beverage flavouring.  It is thought they are the ones who brought Thyme to a wider audience in Europe.

thyme oil

Scientists in Canada have found that Thymol, the main ingredient in the essential oil of Thyme is a powerful antimicrobial.  In their research, it was found to reduce the resistance of some bacteria who are currently resistant to drugs such as penicillin.


A research team at Leeds Metropolitan University in the UK have tested the effects of Myrrh, Thyme and Marigold tinctures on acne.  Apparently the Thyme worked best.  It is even more effective than some of the prescription creams currently prescribed and it killed the bacterium responsible for acne within five minutes of exposure.

thyme flower

A further team of researchers in Belgrade, Serbia have reported that an aqueous extract of wild thyme had some success in reducing high blood pressure in rats.  There needs to be further research into it before we can definitely say that it works in humans as well, but there is a track record that blood pressure in rats is similar to that in humans, so there is definitely hope!


One of the other tips I picked up in my research is that you should add Thyme towards the end of the cooking period so as not to loose the flavour and denature the volatile oils.


What an astounding herb!  A natural wonder.  And tasty into the bargain!

A controversial herb. Do you love it or hate it?

Some people absolutely adore it, and others hate it with equal passion.  My husband thinks it tastes like soap, but I love it.  I am talking about Coriander, or Cilantro if you are in North America.


Coriander, as I will refer to it, is an annual herb with edible leaves and seeds.  It is a very common ingredient in cooking throughout the world.  Indian, South Asian, Mediterranean and Mexican food all uses Coriander in all its forms – fresh, dried, seeds, and ground seeds.  If you are using fresh Coriander you should wash the leaves very carefully because the leaves are very fragile.  No mega fast pulses of water!


Once again, the herb is packed with those good old phytonutrients.  There is elenol, camphor, borneol, carvone, quercetin and others which all give protection from free radical damage.  Anecdotal evidence seems to suggest that coriander can help to detoxify heavy metals from the body without side effects.  Heavy metal accumulation can cause memory loss and is indicated as a contributory factor to Alzheimer’s Disease.  

coriander all

Coriander is packed with Vitamin A, which can help to protect against lung and cavity cancers, Vitamin K whichis good for Alzheimer’s prevention again, and its Iron content is fabulous for getting over anaemia.  If you use the Coriander seeds in a tea, it is said to be great for helping with menstrual flow.  It has also been shown to stimulate insulin secretion and lower blood sugar levels.


The more I read, the more amazing it gets!  It lowers bad cholesterol and increases the level of good cholesterol in the body, it is very good for the digestive system and promotes liver function and bowel movements.  It is very good for the eyes.  The Antioxidants prevent eye diseases and infection and coriander is said to be an excellent treatment for conjunctivitis.  The herb also promotes a healthy nervous system, stimulates the memory and is good for skin conditions like eczema, pimples, blackheads and dry skin.

coriander pot

If all that wasn’t enough, it is anti-inflammatory, anti-septic and is fungicidal as well.  So, it is good for arthritis, can help to cure mouth ulcers (I am thinking it would make a great herbal mouthwash ingredient), fights against Salmonella and protects from food borne diseases.  It even has anthelmintic properties.  Yeah, I didn’t know what that meant either.  Apparently it means it will expel parasitic “visitors” in the body.  


Now, that is a herb with some powerful actions!  Personally, I just love it, and will continue to judiciously hide it in various foods I cook for my husband!