Tag: nettle

Herbal remedies for children – new distance learning course

ice lolliesWould you like to know more about treating children with herbs?

If you enjoyed my blog on herbs for children, you might be interested to know I have now written a herbal remedies for children distance learning course!

As with all of my distance learning courses you will be emailed the course material to work through (although in this particular module there is no quiz or test at the end).

You will also receive a herbal goody box containing herbs specific for children, as well as jars, bottles and sundries needed to make the herbal remedies in the module.

What does the course cover?

  • Safety – when to give herbs and when not to
  • Dosages and how they are different for children
  • Herbal preparations for children – from sweets to ice lollies
  • A developing immune system – when to boost immunity
  • Herbs for babies – colic to nappy rash
  • Herbs for toddlers – coughs and colds
  • Herbs for infants – eczema and ear infections
  • Herbs for primary age – conjunctivitis and diarrhoea and vomiting
  • Herbs at 11+ – tonsillitis and acne
  • Plus lots of tips and recipes to use at home

How much does the course cost?

£50

 

Who can complete the course?

Anyone with an interest in herbs and health. There is no prerequisite for this course.

For more information please get in touch.

 

To book click here.

 

 

Rediscovering British herbs with Native Awareness

11203591_10153299665834282_3942814190489003464_oA few years ago I decided to go on a Native Awareness course, native skills one, which is an introduction to bushcraft skills and the skills of native peoples’. Learning those native skills really got me thinking about how medicinal plants are used by native people across the world as well as our ancestors in Britain.

At the time my knowledge of British medicinal plants was limited and I suddenly saw that for the shame it was. I was a herbalist living and practising in Britain but the number of British plants I was prescribing could be counted on one hand. It was also obvious that my plant ID skills could also do with updating, especially poisonous plants.

That realisation sent me on a bit of a journey of personal study, and working with other herbalists who use a lot more British plants, expanding my knowledge and skills.

10258698_10152426354399282_4605565856819452484_n

 

When James (the founder of Native Awareness) asked me if I would be interested in teaching a medicinal plants course with him, I was excited but also very nervous. James has a vast knowledge of plants himself and I was unsure what I could bring to such a course.

 

 

After months of planning we taught the first medicinal plants course in 2014, and it involved lots of experimenting. Neither of us had dried medicinal plants using fire before, and the results were interesting! But it forced me to look at alternative ways to make medicines like infused oils, balms, and poultices.

10314020_10152426359889282_4783032923788498560_nI couldn’t help feeling a deep connection with the medicine people across the world who must have had (and still do have) these problems. How breaking a plant down with a stone makes a very different poultice to one done in a food processor.

I was thrilled to be asked back to teach again in 2015, and I was raring to go with new ideas. The fire drying was improved and the infused oil was the strongest I’ve ever seen made. I also introduced a few new topics to the medicinal plant ID, wild crafting, and medicine making; poisonous plants and medicinal mushrooms.

11160059_10153299700634282_7411604696093964325_oYear on year as my knowledge and skills grow I add new things into my workshops. So no two courses are ever the same, this also stops me from becoming bored!

I also learn a great deal from the people on the courses, everyone has a story to tell about how they have used a plant, or how their granny always used to swear by nettle tea.

This year I will be back teaching with Native Awareness again, from 29th April to 1st May, Ravenshill Wood, Worcestershire. For more information or to book, please contact James at Native Awareness.

Click here for more great photos from the medicinal plants courses.

 

Frequently asked questions – what to herbalists get asked?

Here are some of the most common questions I get asked and the answers I give.

1. Can herbs be used to treat children?

The simple answer is yes but with everything that depends on what the situation is, is the child taking medication? For more information on herbs and children take a look at my recent blog.

nettle_flower_full2. Can herbs be used to help eczema?

The answer is yes in most cases but dietary and lifestyle changes also need to be taken into account. The treatment will be taking herbs both internally and externally, while treating the whole person and the cause. I have written three blogs on eczema, “Eczema – what is it, What role does diet play in eczema, and Can herbs help to alleviate the symptoms of eczema?

3. Can helps be used by people taking medication?

That depends on the type of medication they are taking, the dosage and the reason they are taking it. There are many medications that are sensitive to not just herbs but foods too. It is important to always consult a medical herbalist if you are taking medication and want to take herbs too. They are trained to understand the interactions between herbs and drugs and they will be able to offer alternative herbs that do not interact with your medication.

I will be writing more about how herbs interact with drugs and safe herbs to use at home in a new blog.

ollie4. Can I give herbs to my dog?

Lots of people want to look after the health of their pets in a more natural way and it’s understandable that they would want to look at using herbs for that. However, it is important to remember that only a veterinarian can prescribe medicines of any kind, whether herbal or not to any animal.

The rules around herbal medicines for animals are quite similar to people in that you can buy some herbal products over the counter from your vet. They are approved herbal medicines and include things like anti-anxiety drops for dogs which contain valerian.

There is a bit of a crossover however with herbs that are more foods than medicines. There are lots of recipes where culinary herbs are given in homemade dog food to improve nutrition. If you are wanting to do this make sure the information is from a reputable source (i.e. approved by a vet).

5. Can I make my own herbal medicines?

Yes, and I encourage you do to so. I have some tips and easy to follow recipes for using simple herbal medicines at home. Take a look at my free downloads here.

6. Can herbs be used in pregnancy?

There are some herbs that can be used in pregnancy, for example raspberry leaf tea, but I always recommend anyone who is pregnant and wanting to take herbs to speak to a medical herbalist before taking herbs.

DSC_25947. Can herbs cure cancer?

This is a very important point. There is no ‘cure’ for cancer whether herbal or pharmaceutical. Chemotherapy for example is a treatment of cancer, not a cure.

The law states very clearly that no-one must claim to cure cancer. So if you see an advert for a new Amazonian herb that can ‘cure’ cancer please don’t go out and buy it.

Herbalists can support people with cancer and who are undergoing cancer therapies, for example, herbs can be used to reduce the side effects from chemotherapy.

 

Please remember if you are unsure or have any questions about herbs and whether they are right for you, it is important to get the advice of a medical herbalist.

You can find a qualified medical herbalist using any of these lists, or you can get in touch with me.

 

Eczema blog part 3 – Can herbs help to alleviate the symptoms of eczema?

Traditional herbs for eczema

Traditionally herbal treatment of eczema would be two fold an external preparation to alleviate symptoms and an internal medicine to ‘cleanse the blood’.

Traditional blood cleansers would have been dandelion, burdock, yellow dock and nettle.

Modern herbal medicine treatment is very similar, although we now know that the blood cleansers are allowing the liver to detoxify, reducing circulating metabolites, decreasing inflammation and inflammatory markers.

nettle_flower_fullAn easy and safe remedy to try at home

An easy and safe remedy to try at home is nettle leaf tea. You can either gather your own (in the spring or summer) or buy the tea bags at a health food shop or supermarket.

I recommend drinking three cups a day.

External treatments for eczema

External treatments for eczema are many and varied but they usually consist of herbs that are antimicrobial (to stop infection within the eczema site), anti-inflammatory herbs (to alleviate the redness and swelling at the eczema site), and often an anti-pruritic (or anti-itch).

Clinical research

A study of 72 patients with moderate eczema showed that when half of the patients were given a chamomile cream, and half were given a hydrocortisone cream, they were equally effective.

herbal medicine 3 picChamomile is one of the key herbs that I use in my practice for eczema. A cold, used, chamomile tea bag can be effective and relieving the itch and inflammation on very irritated eczema where the skin is completely broken.

Another study showed that St John’s wort when used topically on eczema can reduce inflammation and the condition of skin in the area. A study of 28 patients with moderate eczema used the St John’s wort cream in comparison to a plain cream. The St John’s wort cream was more effective and decreased the eczema symptoms.

Other herbs that have been studied clinically and found to be effective at reducing eczema symptoms are: gotu kola, Oregon grape, liquorice and pansy.

Could herbal medicine help you?

If you or a someone you know suffers from eczema, I recommend they go and see a medical herbalist. A medical herbalist can make an individual prescription, for both the external and internal symptoms.

Find a qualified herbalist through any of these lists.

 

Hay fever and herbal medicine

Man suffering from pollen allergyHay fever (allergic rhinitis) is an allergic condition with symptoms such as itchy eyes, sneezing and a runny nose. It is estimated that 1 in 5 people will be affected by hay fever at some point in their lives. Some people are only affected as a child whereas some adults develop the condition later in life.

Hay fever is usually triggered by a type of pollen, and lasts while that pollen is in the local environment. Tree pollen is released in the spring, grass pollen at the end of spring beginning of summer and weed pollen from spring to autumn.

The main treatment for hay fever is antihistamines, which counter act the affects of histamine which is produced by the immune system to protect the body from infection. In the case of hay fever there is too much histamine as the pollen is seen by the immune system as a threat.

Are there natural forms of antihistamine?

nettle_flower_fullThere are medicinal plants that have antihistamine effects, nettle for example has been shown to reduce the symptoms of hay fever and is recommended to take as a preventative before the hay fever season. As little as 600mg or 1 teaspoon per day has been found to be effective. This can be taken as a tea, tincture or capsule.

Plantain is a traditional remedy for hay fever and has been used for hundreds of years by Native American Indian’s. It is particularly used for reducing inflammation in the eyes and membranes in the nose. This can be taken as a tea, tincture of capsule.

Eyebright is another traditional remedy for sore eyes that has been used for hundreds of years and is a keen favourite of medical herbalists. Often given in the form of drops but can be taken as a tea, tincture or capsule.

benefits-of-honeyTaking a teaspoon a day of a local honey has been shown to be effective in some studies, as the honey contains a small amount of the pollen allergen it gradually allows the body to build up immunity to the pollen, but it appears that it does not work for every hay fever sufferer.

 

If you suffer from hay fever and would like to look at your options there is more information available at allergyuk.org and on the NHS website.

 

If you are taking any medication or have other health problems it is important to seek professional advice from a medical herbalist before taking herbal medicine. To find your nearest medical herbalist visit www.nimh.org.uk.

References

Nettle

https://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/stinging-nettle

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2192379

 

Eyebright

Culpeper ‘The complete herbal’ 1653 (historical use)

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11152054

Review of complementary and alternative medicine in treatment of ocular allergies.:Curr Opin Allergy Clin Immunol. 2003 Oct;3(5):395-9.Bielory L, Heimall J.Department of Medicine, UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School, Newark, New Jersey 07103, USA. bielory@umdnj.edu

 

Plantain

Duke, James A. The Green Pharmacy: New Discoveries in Herbal Remedies for Common Diseases and Conditions From the Worlds Foremost Authority on Healing Herbs. Emmaus, Pennsylvania: Rodale Press, 1997

 

Honey

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1081120610619965

 

http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Hay-fever/Pages/Introduction.aspx

http://www.allergyuk.org/hayfever-and-allergic-rhinitis/hay-fever-and-allergic-rhinitis

Herbal medicine research blog – December 13

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

1. A new study at Harvard Medical centre has shown that mindfulness meditation has increased brain functioning in patients with Alzheimer’s.

meditation2. A new scientific study found that nettle helped control the blood sugar of patients with type 2 diabetes.

3. Doctors in the USA are using new online tools to assess whether herbs should be recommended to their cancer patients alongside their orthodox treatment.

4. A new scientific study in the USA has found that women who took multivitamins with minerals and then developed breast cancer had a better survival rate.

5. A new laboratory study of turmeric has shown that it could be used to manufacture new antibiotics against MRSA.

Ginger
Ginger

6. Herbal constituents in ginger have been found in a laboratory study to inhibit the growth of prostate cancer cells.

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.

 

The September Taff trail Herb Walk

On Sunday 1st September I set out for the monthly herb walk on a lovely warm but breezy afternoon. The Taff trail was busy with cyclists enjoying the good weather but luckily the route I had chosen was quieter.

 

Melingriffith Water pump
Melingriffith Water pump

At 2pm, alongside the Melingriffith water pump, I met up with three lovely ladies from Radyr who were keen to know more about the local medicinal plants and how they could make use of them.

 

There were lots of different species that we talked about during the walk but one of my favourites was mugwort (Artemesia vulgaris), which has a long historical use as a wound healer and treatment for bruises. It’s also been used traditionally to help women in labour.

 

Mugwort (Artemesia vulgaris)
Mugwort (Artemesia vulgaris)

During the herb walk I suggested plants that would be useful in an infused oil to use to treat bruises, as many of the plants we saw had that medicinal effect. The infused oil would have contained, St John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum), mugwort (Artemesia vulgaris), daisy (Bellis perennis), nettle (Urtica dioica), and plantain (Plantago lanceolata).

 

Another favourite of mine and an easily identified plant is burdock (Arctium lappa), it’s used in modern herbal medicine to stimulate bile flow and improve digestion, but it has a long use in the traditional drink dandelion and burdock.

 

Tutsan (Hypericum androsaemum)
Tutsan (Hypericum androsaemum)

There was one plant that I was particularly keen to identify, as it was not one I was familiar with. After some research I found that it was Tutsan (Hypericum androsaemum), which is a cultivated variety of St John’s wort. It has slightly different medicinal properties to St John’s wort, as its leaves are more antiseptic and it has a diurectic effect.

The next herb walk is on 28th September through Forest Farm nature reserve, Whitchurch, Cardiff, 2pm til 4pm.

Medicinal plants at the Glamorganshire Canal Nature Reserve

Woody nightshade (Solanum dulcamara)
Woody nightshade (Solanum dulcamara)

After moving to Whitchurch a few years ago I was thrilled to find a nature reserve on my doorstep, and one with such diverse plant life was the icing on the cake. As a herbalist I am constantly looking at plants, (even while stopped in traffic) and the reserve has so many rare and wonderful specimens.

Last year I saw Solanum dulcamara (Woody nightshade) for the first time in the reserve and also the first time anywhere. The particularly wet summer saw an increase of this poisonous plant.

This year the warmer weather has shown some more wonderful specimens, Filipendula ulmaria (Meadowsweet) which was rarely seen last year is now out in abundance. This wonderful herb was used as the base of aspirin along with willow bark, and is used today in modern herbal medicine as an anti-inflammatory for arthritis and rheumatism.

It’s not only the rare plants that interest me, the cleavers and plantain have all been prolific and all still hold an important place in treating skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.

Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria)
Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria)

A hugely under rated plant is the humble nettle, still used in herbal medicine today for its high mineral content and as an anti histamine, but it has so many other uses.

In the First World War nettles were used to make military uniforms, and they are also wonderful in soups and sauces (if picked early). In 1693 it was recorded that nettle was used to treat kidney stones, and today research shows that nettle has a diuretic effect.

If you are interested in learning more about the herbs in the reserve and their medicinal and historical uses, come along to the herb walk on 28th September, 2pm til 4pm.