Tag: home remedies

Homemade Winter Remedies

forage1 - Green city

Homemade Winter Remedies blog featured on Green City Events.

“Here are Laura’s top tips (and two recipes) to beat those winter sniffles…

Garlic

Garlic is well studied for its antibacterial, antiviral and antibiotic properties. It has been my experience when taking garlic that it has shortened the length of the duration of the cold. You can of course add more garlic to your food to get those effects but it is better as raw as you can stand it.

Garlic and onion syrup recipe

1 bulb of garlic (peeled and thinly sliced)
1 large white onion (peeled and thinly sliced)
Sugar or honey to cover
A jam jar or sealable container

Take onion and garlic, peel them and slice them thinly. Place a layer of the slice onion and garlic in the jam jar and then cover with sugar or honey. Add another layer of sliced onion and garlic and continue until you have used all of the onion and garlic. Seal the jar and leave in the fridge overnight. The next day you will have an onion and garlic syrup. You can use that as a cold and flu treatment, it is especially good for coughs. The syrup will last for three days in the fridge. Take 4-5 tsp per day until you feel better (I recommend holding your nose while you drink it!).”

Read more …

Learning more about natural remedies – short home study courses

1509692_10152426363129282_4668817464924853873_nAt the majority of herb walks that I run I get asked how people can find out more about making their own remedies. While some people can commit to coming to some of my workshops, the majority of people don’t have the time or often money to attend.

Now is a critical time for people to become more aware of self care and how important it is. Herbal medicines are a natural alternative, safe (within reason), and inexpensive way of treating yourself and family. Plus making the remedies can be fun and rewarding.

In September I launched my herbal home remedies course, a short introductory course for people wanting to take the first steps into making simple herbal remedies at home.

In the last few weeks I have been working on my next online herbal medicine courses, and I am ready to launch my next two courses:

Build your own herbal home remedies chest – this is a more in-depth look at home remedies but at the same introductory level as the herbal home remedies course.

Introduction to herbal medicine – this is a course for those who already have an interest in herbs and would like to find out more.

croppedEach course comes with a herbal goodies box containing dried herbs, ingredients to make home remedies, jars and bottles and a free herbal gift.

Urinary tract infections (also known as cystitis) – What is it? What can be done? Are herbs useful?

What is a urinary tract infection?

A urinary tract infection, or UTI (also known as cystitis), is when bacteria enter the urethra and cause an infection (although in some cases there are other causes). Due to the female urethra being shorter and more exposed, it is much easier for women to get UTIs then men.

Changes in pH that often occur before menstruation can often mimic the symptoms of a UTI .

What are the symptoms?
  • pain or a burning sensation when urinating
  • a need to urinate more often
  • pain in the lower abdomen
Treatments

The conventional medical treatment of UTIs is antibiotics and in some cases antibiotics are needed to ensure the infection does not become a kidney infection.

The NHS recommendation is to visit your GP on day 5 of a urinary tract infection and that is important because as stated above antibiotics may be needed.

If you would like to try alternative treatments before you reach the day 5 point, here are some things that you can do.

If you fall into any of the following categories it is important that you see a GP or medical herbalist before proceeding with any treatment.

  • you develop a high temperature
  • your symptoms suddenly get worse
  • you are pregnant
  • you have diabetes
  • you have blood in your urine

Alternative treatment plan for UTIs

 

Dietary changes

Reducing the pH of your urine by making the following changes can reduce the irritation/pain of passing urine while having a UTI.

  • Avoid meat and protein
  • Avoid alcohol
  • Avoid sugar
  • Avoid processed foods
  • Avoid tea and coffee

Increasing your water intake will dilute your urine avoiding further irritation.

Herbal medicine

There are strong urinary antiseptics available that can be taken as either tinctures or teas to kill off the bacteria, change the pH of the urine and dilute the urine. This multi action approach has made them the go to choice for alternative UTI treatments.

Herbal medicines are not necessarily safe because they are natural (a common misconception), it is important to get the correct dose and correct prescription for your needs. If you want to treat your UTIs with this type of herbal medicine then I recommend seeing a medical herbalist (visit www.nimh.org.uk to find your local medical herbalist).

A simple herbal remedy that can be used is yarrow tea, yarrow is a urinary antiseptic.

Use 1 tablespoon of herb per cup of hot water, steep for at least 20 minutes and drink as hot as you can stand and drink the tea constantly for at least three days.

Please note: Do not use in pregnancy or if you have any form of kidney disease.

Remember, if you have tried this alternative method and your symptoms remain at day 5, or worsen before day 5, you must visit your GP.

Prevention

Prevention is better than cure and the following are recommended by the NHS to prevent UTIs. I would also add a healthy diet to the list because without that your immune system will not be able to function correctly and more infections will occur.

  • Ensuring you remain hydrated
  • Emptying your bladder after sex
  • Wiping from front to back after going to the toilet
  • Avoiding constipation
  • Drinking cranberry juice

Recurring infections

If you suffer from recurrent UTIs and are requiring several courses of antibiotics, herbal medicine may be able to help you. The cells of the urinary tract can become damaged after recurrent infections, and the damage can mimic the symptoms of a UTI but there is often no infection. Herbal medicine can often be used to repair the damage and break this cycle.

For more information visit the NHS website.

If you are unsure if you have a UTI or if an alternative treatment plan is right for you, it is important to speak to either you GP or your local medical herbalist.

Herbal Medicine and Health research – May and June 14

In May and June the following research on herbs and health has caught my eye.

 1. A recent laboratory study has shown that a constituent of milk thistle may be beneficial in treating prostate cancer, and may be synthesised into a drug.

2. A new study has shown that taking devil’s claw, turmeric and bromelain reduced inflammation and pain in patients with osteoarthritis.

3. A recent a laboratory study has shown that pomegranate may have neuroprotective effects.

4. Self heal (Prunella vulgaris) has been shown to have antioxidant and possible anti cancer actions according to a recent study.

5. Watercress has been found to be an effective treatment against E.coli, and is being considered for mass production high dose supplementation.

6. A recent report has shown a “complex link” between asthma and antibiotic use in children.

7. Rhemmania leaves were found to be beneficial in treating primary glomerulonephritis according to a recent study.

8. A new study on Ginkgo has found that it slows the progression of normal tension glaucoma.

9. A new report from the USA states that “walking may reduce the risk of death or need for dialysis in patients with chronic kidney disease”.

10. Several species of cranberry have been confirmed to have preventative effects for urinary tract infections.

11. An evaluation was conducted on research of herbal based creams used to treat psoriasis. The traditional preparation of Oregan grape (Mahonia aquifolium) was studies but the results were not conclusive.

12. An evaluation was conducted on research of herbal gout treatments. Results were promising but more data is needed.

13. Turmeric was found to be beneficial in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.

14. Cherries have been studied recently and have been found to have cancer preventing effects.

Monthly research blog – Herbal medicine and health – Feb 14

This month the following research on herbs and health has caught my eye.

1. A new laboratory study has found that pomegranate can repair liver damage.

2. A new study in New York is looking at the affects poor diet has on brain function. In      particular the links between junk food and poor concentration and aggressive behaviour.

3. Ashwagandha has been shown to improve brain function in people with bi-polar disorder.

4. Phytoestrogens such as soy, red clover and liquorice in a new study have been shown to prevent and treat metabolic syndrome.

5. A new laboratory study has shown that rosebay willowherb contains plant constituents that suggest its effectiveness in treating benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH).

6. Red sage has been used traditionally to treat fatty liver disease and has been studied recently to find out if it can be used in hospitals. Further studies are being undertaken.

7. Self heal (Prunella vulgaris) has been found to prevent atherosclerosis.

8. Cinnamon has shown a new mode of action in laboratory studies which may mean it can be used to treat some neurodegenerative diseases.

9. Beetroot juice has been shown to increase exercise tolerance in a new study.

10. A new laboratory study has found that the root of St John’s wort may be effective against fungal infections.

11. An extract of broom could be in your next sun cream, as a new laboratory study has found that it can protect skin from UV rays.

12. A new controversial recommendation was announced that people with 10% risk of developing cardiovascular disease would be advised by their GPs to take statins. The threshold has halved as previously the risk was 20% before statins were suggested. Many believe a more natural approach should be tried before statins are introduced.

Upcoming workshops, herb walks and herbal medicine talks – Feb – Aug 14

January is always a time for reflection for me and I have been planning furiously for the coming year, I love planning. I am one of those people who have a list saying “write list”. So here is my plan for all things herbal in the year ahead to celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the founding of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists.

February

15th February – 10.30am – 3pm – Winter Remedies Workshop

I am running a winter remedies workshop at The Whitchurch Clinic. A light vegetarian lunch is included.

We will be discussing how to increase immunity naturally and the myths of Echinacea. We will also be making cough syrups and throat sweets. The course costs £45, minimum of two people required.

March

Wednesday 19th March – 7pm – 8pm – Talk at The Whitchurch Clinic, Whitchurch, Cardiff. “Herbal Medicine – Nature’s pharmacy”

I will be talking about herbal medicine, its history in Wales and how it is now used around the world alongside orthodox medicine. £2 entry. Free herbal tea and homemade cake.

April

Saturday 5th April – 10.30am until 3pm – Natural cream making workshop

I am running a herbal cream making workshop at The Whitchurch Clinic. A light vegetarian lunch is included.

We will be looking at how herbal creams are made and making individual creams to take home. The course costs £45, minimum of three people required.

First herb walk of the season on Sunday 6th April, meeting at the Melingriffith water pump,Ty-Mawr Road, Whitchurch at 2pm. The walk is free and lasts approximately an hour.

May

2nd – 5th May – Medicinal plants weekend, Ravenshill woods, Worcestershire, with Native Awareness (http://www.nativeawareness.co.uk/courses/medicinal-plants/) Book through Native Awareness.

Sunday 11th May – Free Taff trail herb walk, 2pm – 3pm (meeting place to be announced).

Saturday 17th  May – 10.30am – 3pm – Summer remedies workshop

I am running a summer remedies workshop at The Whitchurch Clinic. A light vegetarian lunch is included.

We will be looking at hay fever remedies, natural first aid for sun stroke, sun burn, bites and stings, etc. We will make an insect bite cream and a natural after sun lotion. The course costs £45, minimum of two people required.

June

Sunday 8th June – Free Taff trail herb walk, 2pm – 3pm (meeting place to be announced).

Wed 25th June – 7pm – 8pm – Talk at The Whitchurch Clinic, Whitchurch, Cardiff.

“Herbal Medicine – Nature’s pharmacy”

I will be talking about herbal medicine, its history in Wales and how it is now used around the world alongside orthodox medicine. £2 entry. Free herbal tea and homemade cake.

Friday 27th June – Bute park evening herb walk (meet outside the Pettigrew tea rooms by the gate to ButePark, opposite the water bus stop) 6pm – 7pm. £2 per person.

July

Sunday 6th July – Free Taff trail herb walk, 2pm – 3pm (meeting place to be announced).

Saturday 26th July – Summer remedies workshop

I am running a summer remedies workshop at The Whitchurch Clinic. A light vegetarian lunch is included.

We will be looking at hay fever remedies, natural first aid for sun stroke, sun burn, bites and stings, etc. We will make an insect bite cream and a natural after sun lotion. The course costs £45, minimum of two people required.

August

Sunday 10th August – Free Taff trail herb walk, 2pm – 3pm (meeting place to be announced).

Saturday 16th August – 10.30am – 3pm – Herb harvesting and preserving

I am running a herb harvesting and preserving workshop at The Whitchurch Clinic. A light vegetarian lunch is included.

We will be learning different harvesting, drying and preserving techniques for herbs. We will make herb infused oils, vinegars, teas, and more. The course costs £45, minimum of three people required.

September

Sunday 7th September – Free Taff trail herb walk, 2pm – 3pm (meeting place to be announced).

Introduction to herbal medicine 4 week course begins. More details to follow.

If you would like more information about any of these courses, workshops or talks please get in touch.

To book on to any of the workshops a £10 deposit is required to secure your place, with the balance payable on the day of the workshop. Deposits can be paid via paypal (please send me an email and I will send you a payment request.)

So why herbal medicine?

The growing field at the Organic Herbal Trading Company
The growing field at the Organic Herb Trading Company

I often get asked what made me want to study herbal medicine, and I usually give the shortened version of this story.

About 13 years ago my Mum was receiving acupuncture and taking Chinese herbs for her eczema, I was a bit sceptical that anything could help her as she’d suffered from extremely bad eczema for most of her life.

I was also rather unconvinced at the bag of roots and leaves that she would boil up every day and then drink the most foul smelling liquid I’d ever seen. The results however started to make me question what was going on. In a very short amount of time she had a big improvement in her eczema, something that 40 years of steroid creams had failed to do.

So I began to research Chinese herbal medicine and the theories behind the treatment, this is where I got rather bogged down in the different states in the body and the theories that go with TCM (traditional Chinese medicine). After reading the first few chapters of the book I had taken out from the library I gave up and took it back. As I was looking in the alternative medicine section I found another herbal medicine book, one that looked a bit more appealing. It was Penelope Ody’s “The complete medicinal herbal”, and it was full of recipes and information on Western herbal medicine. In part it reminded me of old recipes my Gran used when making jam, but with something else, this knowledge that with some simple plants you could heal yourself.

Symphytum officinale (Comfrey)
Symphytum officinale (Comfrey)

I devoured the book in less than a day and I was hooked! From that point on I read everything I could get my hands on about Western Herbal medicine. After about 6 months worth of reading I decided that I had to study herbal medicine properly. So I applied to study a degree in Herbal Medicine at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLAN).I thoroughly enjoyed my short time at the UCLAN but after only 6 months I had to leave the course due to ill health in my family. My passion for herbal medicine was as strong as ever and I still read as much as I could, I also completed a distance learning course to feed my obsession.

I treated myself and my family for many years with great success, and finally I got to a point where I could not continue without completing my degree. I went to an open day at the University of East London not intending on signing up to the course at that time, but by the end of the morning I’d already decided that that was the course for me. I signed up to the course and the next 5 years flew by.

Studying herbal medicine on a blended learning course meant that I had to travel to London for clinic and seminars about once every two weeks while also working full time, while this was a strain, my joy of working in the Stratford clinic of herbal medicine kept me going through the more difficult modules (pharmacology, yuck!).

Wild flower meadow
Wild flower meadow

My passion for herbal medicine grows year on year, the more patients I see the more I am surprised at how well herbal medicine works. Yes I can explain the theory and the scientific research and biochemistry behind the herbs but there is nothing like seeing a patient come into your clinic with a huge smile on their face because their life has been improved with herbal medicine. A new direction for me will be teaching courses on herbal medicine, I am planning on running some day workshops, evening classes and also an online course in 2014.

 

Autumn herb walks and delicious autumn recipes

Forest Farm herb walk

At the Forest farm herb walk we were lucky with the weather but unfortunately not so lucky with the plants. We did manage to see a lot of blood cleanser herbs, like dandelion, burdock, yellow dock, red clover and nettle.

Forest Farm herb walk
Forest Farm herb walk

The herbal tea tasting went down well, with elderflower and honey the firm favourite, and the hawthorn and apple fruit leather was preferred to the carrot cake!

 

Unfortunately a slight mix up with the times of the walk meant that several people missed out, but another Forest Farm herb walk is planned for Spring 2014.

 

 

 

Taff trail October herb walk

This herb walk was slightly sad as it was the last one until April next year, but it made up for it by being prolific in herbs.

Hedgerow jelly
Hedgerow jelly

 

As well as gathering blackberries and rowanberries for hedgerow jelly and fruit leather, we gathered hawthorn berries for hawthorn brandy.

 

There was some new growth of mugwort along the river Taff which we gathered to use as herbal tea. Not one to use before bed however as traditional it was used for prophetic dreams.

 

We also gathered comfrey leaves to be made into comfrey ointment for sprains, as well plantain for wound healing.

 

Comfrey leaves
Comfrey leaves

I learnt about the joy of popping Himalayan balsam seeds, and how delicious they are!

The pulp in fruit leather was a big hit, as was the hawthorn brandy we sampled (for educational purposes obviously!).

 

I am already looking forward to the herb walks next year as we look at the spring greens and using herbs for nutrition as well as medicines.

For some autumn recipes to try yourself, see my free download section.