Tag: plantain

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.

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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.

 

Why use a natural cream?

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What is a natural cream?

A natural cream is one that does not use chemical based ingredients as fillers or preservatives.

 

Why use a natural cream?

Some people with sensitive skin are allergic to the chemical ingredients within creams. Or you may want to reduce the chemicals that you are coming into contact with as part of a healthy lifestyle.

 

What is the difference between a cream and an ointment?

The short answer to that is water. There are no water based ingredients within an ointment, only oil and beeswax.

 

When would you use an ointment?

An ointment is a much heavier application, it sits on the surface of the skin for much longer and does penetrate very far into the layers of skin. This can be really useful for slow release actions such as pain relieving. A chilli ointment for example, could be applied at before bed to provide pain relief throughout the night.

 

When would you use a cream?

Creams vary depending on their ingredients but in general they are much lighter than ointments and penetrate further into the layers of skin. They tend to soak in and don’t leave a film on the skin. They can have many uses from moisturising face creams to anti-inflammatory creams for sore joints and muscles.

 

Workshop2-lowHow can I make a natural cream?

There are lots of herbal cream recipes around, but this is one that is a classic traditional herbal cream. Change the water component and the type of infused oil in the recipe below to change the type of cream. E.g. chamomile infused oil with a chickweed infusion for eczema. Change the infusion and oil to plantain for an easy and safe nappy rash cream (remove the benzoin essential oil).

 

Traditional herbal cream recipe 

12g beeswax

50ml herbal infused oil

Benzoin essential oil (2 drops) (to act as a natural preservative)

Rosewater, distilled witchazel or warm herbal infusion (5 – 7ml) (water component)

Clean glass pots (mixture makes approx 60ml)

 

Melt the beeswax and herbal infused oil together in a double boiler over a low heat, once fully dissolved, remove from the heat, add the rosewater/distilled witchazel or warm infusion and essential oil and beat well until the mixture begins to thicken.

Spoon the mixture into the pots and allow to cool (with the lids off), and then label and apply the lids.

This cream will last up to 3 months in the fridge, remember to check for spoiling.

 

If you would like to learn more about natural creams and how you can make your own, take a look at my new natural cream making module.

 

 

July 14 – Research on herbal medicine and health blog

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

1. A new report in the USA has been looking at antibiotic resistant infections and links to the overuse of antibiotics.

“Tom Frieden, MD, MPH, CDC Director, points out, “It’s clear that we’re approaching a cliff with antibiotic resistance. But it’s not too late. Clinicians and healthcare systems need to improve prescribing practices. And patients need to recognize that there are both risks and benefits to antibiotics — more medicine isn’t best; the right medicine at the right time is best.”

health-benefits-of-pomegranate

2. Pomegranate has been studied recently and found to have positive effects on musculoskeletal conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and osteoporosis.

3. Turmeric has been studied recently for its potential use in the treatment of digestive problems, for example bowel disease.

4. Plantain (Plantago spp.) seeds have been studied in a laboratory and found to have anti-inflammatory properities.

5. A new laboratory study has found that feverfew can prevent skin damage.

6. A new study in Spain has been researching ways for patients to safely reduce their 

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benzodiazepine usage (drugs such as diazepam).

7. A new laboratory study on Trifolium spp. (clover) has found they can protect red blood cells from damage.

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

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.