Tag Archives: antifungal

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 prepared for anything…

The weather is in the process of turning from deep winter into early spring.  In the UK that means we have heavy frosts at night and lovely clear days.  All that means I am out in the garden trying to steal a march on those jobs that (hopefully) I am not going to have time for come the summer.  Like weeding the borders thoroughly.  And pruning the perennial shrubs.  I also pruned the apple tree yesterday.  Thankfully I had a bough lopper that I could use, but my neck is a little sore from all that looking upwards!

1st aid

As I was mentally compiling the list of things that have to be done in the garden, I was also thinking of what I want to get sorted inside.  One of the major things I want to put together is a herbal first aid kit – something that I can turn to when the baby (I am not losing hope of a match yet!) or my husband or I come down with something.  Luckily, my trusty book “Herbs for Vibrant Health” by Rosemary Gladstar, has a list of things to include in such a first aid kit.  First aid is actually something very close to my family’s heart, especially as my sister is a freelance First Aid Trainer.  Check out her website at http://beavertraining-technical.webs.com for what she can offer (yes, yes, shameless plug… but she is my sister!!)

The essentials in your first aid kit can be divided into gels and salves, Tinctures, Essential and other Oils and then powders, capsules and other essences.


First the gels and salves.  Ms Gladstar suggests having two separate salves – one which is all purpose and one which is specifically anti-fungal.  However, I think that it makes sense to have one which covers all the bases, and as they both treat the same things (cuts, wounds, burns and sunburns) a little research should yield a recipe which covers all of these areas.  Ms Gladstar also suggests having aloe vera gel in the kit for use on burns and cuts and wounds.  I like using aloe vera gel, but you have to remember that it can make skin photosensitive, so be careful on the areas you use it, just in case you begin to react to light in an adverse way.


Next some the tinctures.  A Tincture is a concentrated liquid extract of herbs, usually using alcohol as the main solvent, though they can be made with glycerin or apple cider vinegar as well.  The tinctures you can make and include in your kit are Echinacea – great for colds, flus, infections and boosting a weak immune system; a Liquorice tincture which will sort out sore throats, bronchial inflammation and even the herpes simplex virus (cold sores, mostly); a tincture of St John’s Wort which can help burns, pain, nerve damage, depression and anxiety; and a tincture of Valerian which can help pain, insomnia, stress and nervous tension and achy muscles.

essential oils

Now we move onto the essential essential oils to have in your arsenal.  I don’t think it will be any surprise that Lavender is in the list.  It deals with all sorts of things from headaches, minor burns and sunburns, insect bites and congestion.  It also helps to relax you.  Eucalyptus essential oil is in there too to help with congestion, achy muscles, repelling insects, cuts and abrasion, warts and cold sores.  There is also a recommendation for Peppermint essential oil which will help with digestive problems, burns, act as a mouthwash or as a general stimulant.  There is also tea tree essential oil to be considered.  This can be added to steams to help with congestion, but it is also good for achy muscles, repelling insects, cuts and abrasions, warts, cold sores and toothache.

You can also make some flavoured and scented oils to include in the kit.  Garlic infused oil is great for ear infections and parasites as well as colds.  St John’s Wort infused oils can help with burns, swellings, pain, bruises, sunburn and achy muscles.

green clay powder

Finally, we have the odd bits and pieces which can help.  The Bach Rescue Remedy has got to be in there.  It is brilliant for trauma and shock and can be used on animals, children and adults.  You can also include some green clay powder to make poultices to extract splinters as well as acting as a wound disinfectant and as a treatment for poison oak or poison ivy rashes.  Lets not forget about those winter essentials – the cold care capsules.  If you have succumbed to a cold, there is nothing better to give it a kick in the pants than one of those.

I am looking forward to making, storing and using all of these ideas.  If you use these already, or have some other suggestions, then please, let me know!

It is conkers season!!

I am not sure if my North American correspondents are aware of what conkers are?  In case you are scratching your collective heads,  conkers are the nut of the Horse Chestnut tree, Aesculus hippocastanum.

horse chestnut

According to my current favourite herby planty lore book, a recent purchase when we were on holiday in Canada, it is an introduced ornamental tree.  But luckily the parts of it have lots of healing properties.  In fact it is used in 2 Bach Flower Remedies.

The tree itself can grow up to 130 feet tall, and has palmate leaves and huge white candelabras of frothy white-pink flowers in the spring.  The conkers, an auburn coloured nut, form and fall in the autumn, and generations of schoolchildren have played a school yard game using them strung on a piece of string to see whose conker was strongest.  Sadly Health & Safety rules have got in the way of them these days, which is a shame because my husband has many happy memories of playing conkers.

Horse chestnut tree

So what can horse chestnut trees be used for?  Their good looks mean they have been a municipal tree of choice for planting on streets and avenues, and apparently their bark makes an emergency quinine substitute.  The flower buds can be used to flavour beer, and conkers produce a good soapy lather for shampoo and to clean clothes, and into the bargain they stop mould and repel moths. If you have been plagued by those enormous garden spiders that are around this autumn, then putting conkers by the door and hung up in corners can help dissuade them from taking up residence in the first place.


In this year of First World War commemorations, it was interesting to find out that conkers were also used for explosives.  Apparently they are a source of acetone and it was that chemical required for the explosives.  Schoolchildren collected over 3000 tons of conkers which all went to the war effort.


So, medicinally, what can this anti-mould, anti-creepy crawly, potentially explosive stuff do for your health?  It is a leading herbal treatment for weakened veins, including varicose veins, haemorrhoids, and acne rosacea.  It might also be an alternative to Botox as it tightens the skin and reduces fluid retention and Oedema.


My little book provides a couple of recipes for using conkers to make tinctures, oils and even a lotion for the treatment of varicose veins, thread veins and fragile capillaries.  I don’t think I am going to provide them in this blog post though… I might bring it back as a topic another time.

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.


How to treat fungal nails…

I have a friend who is plagued by fungal nail infections, and he is at his wits end.  I want to help, so in my research I have come across a couple of things that might be able to help him.


The first tip is to use listerine mouthwash.  Apply the mouthwash onto the nail and watch the infection disappear.  Well, it says Antiseptic on the label, and I can tell you that it works.


The next tip is something I am going to run up for him.  It is a topical ointment.  Take 1 and a quarter cup of extra virgin olive oil, 1-2 ounces of beeswax and a few drops of some antiseptic and antifungal essential oils.  If you melt the wax in a bowl over some boiling water, then add the olive oil and the essential oils at the end of the process.  Pop into a tin and let it cool and harden.  You just need to apply it and hopefully this preparation will work wonders.  I think I will use Lemon, Tea tree and Cinnamon.  It will certainly smell interesting!


Have a great Sunday everyone.