Tag Archives: Herbalism

What I learned today while I was doing the Ironing…

I hate ironing.  I leave it until there is an enormous pile of it or my husband is muttering about having nothing to wear to work.  I really, really dislike it.


In the past couple of months I have tried to keep on top of Mount Ironmore by making the occasion something to look forward to.  I have been catching up on the TV that I never seem to have time to watch, or those programmes that I fancy watching, and my husband really doesn’t.  Today, technology did not make my life easy.   Something crashed and it wouldn’t let me stream the TV show I wanted to watch on my laptop while getting hot over the steam iron.

I tried to listen to the radio, but that wasn’t going to cut it today.  Then… I had the idea… what about watching a couple of TED Talks?  Okay.., more than a couple of them… the ironing pile was HUGE.

TED talks

Do you know about TED Talks?  Basically they are lectures given by inspirational people which teach you something… What is not to like?  I get to take my mind off the fact I am doing the worst chore in the house and I learn stuff.  Great deal.  Plus, I actually know someone who did a TED talk (Mortgage Free in Three) and it was AWESOME.

So, the first thing I learnt was about how your frame of mind and your perspective can actually make exercise easier and better.  That talk was 14 minutes and some seconds long.


The second thing  I learned was why keeping biodiverse habitats is so important, and actually really clarified why I am so passionate about herbalism.  This is the talk I want to share with you.  This is about 14 minutes long as well.

Humble Plants that hide surprising secrets

The third talk was about emotion and how it motivates people.  It was one of TED’s top 20 best talks ever and it was amazing.  Goosebumpy in fact.  I need to process it before I tell you all about it… but I am sure I will.  What a fabulous talk.

completed ironing

And even better – in just over 1 hour… I have ironed 9 work shirts, 2 French cuff shirts, 2 dresses, 1 skirt and a pair of trousers.  Oh and a short sleeved shirt.  Yay!  Mount Ironmore is no more… Hubby will have work shirts for the next couple of weeks… and I got topped up on motivation and inspiration.  Fabulous, fabulous mornings work.


More autumn tree herb lore…

So I was at the kitchen sink today, doing the dishes, and I happened to glance at our little seedling oak tree.  We have been given one to grow, and it’s leaves are just changing at the moment and it is rather pretty.  It got me thinking about whether oak can do anything for us herbally speaking.

oak tree

Back to my rather lovely “Backyard Medicine” book.  This is the one that I picked up when we were on holiday in Canada.  I have been hankering after it for AGES and it was cheaper to buy over there then it would ever be over here.  Anyway, it has a lovely bit all about oak.


At one time the British Isles had lots and lots of Oak forests.  In fact, in days gone by, where my house is would have been in Sherwood Forest, (as in Robin Hood, Maid Marian and the Merry Men) with lots and lots of Oak trees around it.  Unfortunately, Oak is rather a victim of its own success and because it was fabulous for building with, has been used for houses and ships and all kinds of things.  Oaks produce acorns and they feed pigs; acorns also stand as a famine food and are a coffee substitute known as ersatz coffee.  Apparently it tastes quite palatable and it is low in caffeine.  The Oak galls, also known as oak apples, are constituents for ink and the bark can be used as an astringent.  In fact it is as an astringent, a tightener or a drier, that it is used for mostly in herbalism today.

Oak Leaf

Oak leaf tea is used as a diarrhoea treatment, as is the young oak bark made into a tea as well.  Another use is as a tooth powder made from the dried oak bark.  You can add fennel seed powder, cinnamon powder, and bicarbonate of soda and use it to brush your teeth.  I am quite intrigued by this.  I might look into it a bit more.

And if that weren’t enough uses for oak, you can also use the twigs to clean your teeth.  Amazingly versatile isn’t it?!

Hellebores… what are they good for?

I received my recently ordered hellebores this morning.  Cue much excitement.  They are lovely little plants, and need to be grown on a bit before I put them where they are actually going to live in the garden.

double ellen picotee

A couple of Fridays ago I received an email which gave me an excellent deal on these lovely, lovely plants.  After due consultation with the husband, I ordered 9 lovely baby hellebores.  There are three plants of three different sorts of Double Ellen varieties – Pictoee, Pink and White Spotted.  They are going to go in the front garden in an area I have named the Helleborium.  I am hoping to find and relocate another couple of hellebores I think might be lurking in the back garden as well, so there should be some rather lovely colours over in that forgotten corner of the garden come spring 2 years from now.

Anyway… it got me thinking… are hellebores good herbal plants?  Quite often in the past, I have found that the plants I really like are actually really useful medicinally.  So I thought i would do a bit of research and find out.


After my research, my take away lesson is that Hellebores (both the white and the black varieties) are really poisonous and should not be messed around with in terms of self treatment.  So… no, they are not really good herbal plants.  I have also filed away the fact that historically white hellebore was used to create a poison in ancient Rome and other cultures have used it as an arrow tip poison.  Useful information for potential mystery novel plots, or if my neighbours really wind me up.  (That last bit is a joke.  Honest.)

Apparently even though hellebore is really, really poisonous, people do still use it.  White Hellebore is used for cholera, gout and high blood pressure and black hellebore is used for nausea, worms, kidney infections, colds and constipation.  Black hellebore can also help to regulate menstrual periods.  Still.  I am not going to suggest anyone plays around with it, and I am certainly going to steer well clear of it.

double hellebores

I shall keep hellebores in the garden as flowers where they belong.  It will add a burst of colour to the front patch and will make me smile when I look up from my desk.

I hope you all have a lovely weekend.

Medicine is NOT healthcare

I recently saw this poster on Pinterest.  I loved it so much, I pinned it twice.



This has been moving around and around in my head all weekend, and I wanted to explore it a little bit more in my blog post this morning.


Before I start, I want you folks to know that I am full of admiration for the medical profession.  Their training is brutal.  They have to remember HUGE amounts of stuff.  Most of them went into the profession for the right reason, to make people better, and healthier and to give back to their local or global community.  Not only that, but medicine can do amazing things.  It can cure Cancer.  It can help people with debilitating and progressive diseases live something approaching a normal life.  But somewhere along the line, something has gone wrong.


I have heard from many people (and experienced it on the rare occasions that I go to the Doctor) that when they go to their General Practitioner most people are given a prescription for something after just 5 minutes of consultation.  In the UK, GPs have to see a certain number of patients everyday, so it means they only have a certain amount of time for each patient.  It is clear that they do not have time to even take the meerest peek at their patients medical records, let alone take a good look at them and work out what is really wrong with them.  They listen to what the patient has to say, make a snap judgement about what is happening to them and then decide on the course of treatment, all in a maximum of 10 minutes.  I don’t care how well trained you are, that is not going to work for the patient.  At best, you are treating the symptoms only.  At worst, you are just prescribing something to get the present patient out of the door and onto the next one.  What this means is that you are just treating the symptoms.  You are not approaching the whole question of health and why the patient is not as healthy as they should be.


After my weekend, when my hubby and I drank our monthly bottle of wine (over the two days, and yes, that will be it for the entire month!) and we ate pizza and had sweets and all kinds of bad stuff for us, I can tell you, I do not feel particularly well.   I am not “ill” per se, but I am not fizzing with vitality like I should be.    So, back to eating properly, and if I want something sweet, I will have an apple.  Imagine if everyone stopped eating convenience food and ate proper food, cooked from scratch.  I reckon the queues in the doctors surgeries would reduce significantly.  They wouldn’t disappear altogether, because people will always get ill, but there might be a bit more time for the doctors to talk to their patients and actually LISTEN to them.


Obviously, I am going to bang the drum for holistic healthcare.  I am studying it, with a view to doing it as a business.  Of course I am going to say this is the better course.  Yet, I can’t help thinking that taking a longer time and looking at the wider view of the patients life will allow the Healthcare professional  to have a much clearer and rounded view of the person in front of them.


That, and  the onus needs to go back onto the citizens to keep their health in the best way they can.  We need to eat good food.   We need to stop relying on convenience and trash food.   There is a generation of parents who have no idea how to cook a meal from scratch.   We need to get people back into their kitchens, cooking properly.  It doesn’t have to take hours.  It doesn’t have to be more expensive.  But it has got to be healthier to know what is in your dinner, hasn’t it?



The new plan…

I am a person who is motivated by plans.  I need to have one to make sure I am working smarter as well as sometimes harder.  I have more energy when I have clear goal, and if I can get something down on paper that I can look at and measure progress again, well, I am in clover.  (Sometimes, I also worry about myself and whether I really need to get out more!)


I have noticed in the last couple of months that my direction has somewhat drifted.  This is not really surprising given the fact I was moving house and settling in and all that, but I noticed last week that I had a distinct lack of motivation to write the blog everyday.  I also noticed that my Herbalism studies have REALLY backslided.  Although there is an excuse, if I want my new life to happen, I need to take myself in hand and get on with it again.  So, it got me thinking.  How on earth am I going to fit this in to the life I am leading now in the big house, with the big garden and the prospect of children thrown into the mix as well?


Well, the obvious answer is that I need to make time for everything I want to do.  So, cue a piece of paper and a pen, and a list of my priorities.  This blog is definitely on this list, because I thoroughly enjoy writing it, and it keeps my literary muscles flexing.  It is a good habit to have.  But it does take quite some time to get the idea, write the blog, edit the blog, edit it again, find the pictures, put it all together and publish.  And frankly, I could use that time for my other priorities.


And here we come to the crux of the matter.  What I intend to do therefore is to reduce the number of times in a week that I blog.  I am going to aim to blog three times in a week.  Ideally, that would be Monday, Wednesday and Friday, but it needs to be flexible, so I might sneak one in on a weekend if the other days get a bit packed with things to do (like adoption meetings, Mum and baby groups, cleaning, studying, gardening etc).  My plan is also to have a kind of theme to each time I blog.  So, Mondays I envisage being about Herbalism/Gardening/Nutrition, Wednesdays will be about Life Coaching and Personal Management and Fridays can be stuff about studying and any micro-business stuff I might want to blog about.


I would really love to have your feedback about this new structure.  Lets let it bed in for a couple of weeks, and if you think there can be some tinkering around the edges, I would love to hear your ideas.


Now… I am off to hang out wet washing and then do some weeding in the garden.  I have to… it’s on my plan!


Another more modern Herbal Hero…

Happy Thursday!   I want to tell you about my next Herbal Hero; a gentleman called Alfred Vogel.

alfred vogel

Alfred who?!  You may well ask.  This gentleman is credited with bringing alive herbalism as we know it today.  He was a Swiss phytotherapist, nutritionist and writer.  He began his work with medicinal plants from picking up remedies from his parent and grandparents and his first job was managing a herb and health shop.  He used to advise his customers and began making his own remedies, which is eventually want he became famous for.  Some of his products can be seen and bought in herbal shops today.

I found out about Alfred Vogel because I found a Kindle book written by him.  I love reading it.  It is scholarly and yet easy to read.  Apparently, it has been an immensely popular book to have in the bookcase of European homes, and his remedies are really effective.   One of the lovely things about Herr Vogel is that he practised what he preached.  He used the remedies himself, and lived to the ripe age of 94.


One thing I have learnt about him in my research for this post is that he loved travelling and finding out about the herbal traditions of where he stayed.  Apparently on one of his many travels, he met and stayed with some Sioux people in the United States.  He became very close with one of the tribal Medicine Men, Ben Black Elk who taught Herr Vogel about Echinacea.  Alfred bought this knowledge back to Europe and made a remedy out of the Echinacea.  He is the reason that Echinacea is so popular in Europe.

The book I have on my Kindle is “The Nature Doctor:  A Manual of Traditional and Complimentary Medicine”.  It is written in an avuncular style.  I can imagine him sitting in a chair and telling me what to do about whatever complaint I came to him with.  It really feels like I have a Nature Doctor in my house.  If you can get a copy, have a read of it.  If it doesn’t inspire you to learn more about herbalism, I will be very surprised.

Herbal Remedies for Eye Function

This morning, just as I was surfacing from sleep, I heard an article on the BBC Radio about a gentleman who had received ground breaking gene treatment to the back of his eye which appears to have significantly assisted his recovery from a rare eye disorder.  (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-25718064)



My first reaction was “Wow!  How amazing!”.  My second reaction was “I would NOT want to be on the business end of that needle” (yes, I am a profound needle-phobe!) and my third reaction was wondering about what the long term implications of that kind of therapy might be.  However, that might be the theme of a future blog post.

As this treatment was used to treat a rare genetic condition, I would not claim Herbalism could help cure it.  But what Herbalism can help with is the function of the eyes generally.  Eyes are important.  You only have 1 pair of them, so what can you do to help keep your ocular function tip top?

from ocado.com

from ocado.com

Isn’t it strange?  Clinical trials recently have found that the given folk wisdom about eating carrots to help eyesight is actually true.  You see, Mother is ALWAYS right!

You should also maintain your hydration and eat a diet high in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids.  If you are looking for health supplements, then you need one which has a combination of selenium, Vitamin C and E and beta carotene.

Other herbal remedies to improve vision include herbs which strengthen the small capillaries around the eyes and indeed increase the circulation to them.  Bilberry is widely used, as is Gingko Biloba, also known as Ginseng.  In fact, gingko is the herb of choice for natural treatment of conditions like peripheral vascular insufficiency and macular degeneration.

I can’t write about herbal treatments for the eyes without mentioning Eyebright (Euphrasia officinalis).  It can be used internally or externally in all eye problems and will help the eyeball and the surrounding tissue.  It is particularly efficacious when treating styes, conjunctivitis or other inflammation of the eyelids.  When dealing with these sorts of inflammation, it is usually best to use internal and external treatment.

Internally, the remedy should be antimicrobial which will help to detoxify and tone the whole body which will help get rid of the infection.  Youcould make up a tea using equal measures of Blue Flag, Cleavers, Echinacea, Eye bright and Pokeweed Root. A cup of this, drunk three times per day should really help.  Additionally, you could make eyewash or a compress with Eyebright.  One tablespoon of the dried herb in 1 pint of water, boiled for 10 minutes and then cooled, can be either sluiced around the eye, or put onto a cotton wool pad and placed on the eye for 15 minutes.  It should be repeated several times per day.

cartoon optician

To be honest, the best way of ensuring good eye health is to have regular optician appointments.  I have had to wear glasses since I was 8 years old, and I have heard many stories about people going to the optician and being sent directly to the hospital when the optician has found something suspect.  If you are given a prescription for glasses (or contact lenses) then wear them.  It is so important. 

Have you got any family cures for eye strain or other eye conditions?