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Like many of us I am currently at home with my children so my thoughts have been turning to fun ways to encourage young people to enjoy their accessible outdoor spaces during lockdown. I wanted to draw together a few resources to help kids get to know some of their most common weeds. All the plants I have chosen can be found in the average town garden (at least one that isn’t too well manicured!) and for those that don’t have access to their own outside space you will be able to find them all in a local park, in some cases, even growing out of the concrete! This is based on plants available where I live in the UK but may be appropriate for others living in temperate zones too.

The idea is for you and your children to watch the videos, download and print the colouring sheets and then go outside to search for the plants listed. Learn the herbal and botanical word for each plant and, if possible, harvest some to make the super simple foods or medicines below.

If you are not harvesting from your own garden then you must be wary of foraging safely, for example your local park may use pesticide or herbicide sprays or may be a common dog walking zone. If this is the case you can still hunt for the plants, spot their identifying features and maybe gather a few to make crafts with instead. The forest school classic, hapa zome or leaf bashing would be a great way to use plants that may not be safe to ingest. To do this you lay your chosen weeds between two pieces of white or pale cotton fabric and then gently bash them all over with a mallet so the plant juices come out and stain the fabric with pretty patterns and colours. Pressing them between sheets of paper beneath heavy books until completely dry is also fun to do and you can start your own herbarium by collecting your pressed plants.

If you are completely new to foraging and wild plants then please use a good guide book, double check and be 100% sure of your id before eating any plants!

The clips are all short so as not to overload young children with information but please do investigate further if you want to as there is so much more to say about all the plants mentioned. Also please excuse my slightly awkward and very amateur videos, it’s the first time I’ve made any!

So without further ado… let’s go on a weed hunt!

Download colouring sheets here!

Nettle – Urtica dioica

Botanical term – Opposite leaves – look how the leaves are arranged on the stem, they come out on opposite sides from the same point.

Herbal word- Nutritive – full of nutrients

Recipe – Nettle soup.
Nettle soup is a simple, delicious and nutritious way to enjoy eating nettles! Everyone has a different recipe and ours varies depending on what we have in the fridge but this is one of our favourites:
1 large leek
1 large potato
4 cloves garlic
1 courgette
Olive oil
Stock to cover
Small colander full of nettles
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
Salt and pepper to taste
Fry the leek over a low heat in the oil until it starts to soften, add the potato, garlic and courgette, fry for another few minutes. Add the stock and simmer until the potato is soft. Add the nettles, nutritional yeast and salt and pepper and simmer for another few minutes. Blend until smooth and serve.

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Dandelion fritters and nettle soup

Dandelion – Taraxacum spp.

 

Botanical term – basal rosette – leaves arranged in a circle at the base of the plant.

Herbal word – diuretic – makes you go for a wee more often!

Recipe – Dandelion fritters.
Making dandelion fritters is a brilliant way of weeding your garden and getting a delicious meal all in one. Simply pick a few handfuls of dandelion flowers from a clean, unsprayed area. Brush them gently to remover any dirt or small bugs (washing them makes them too soggy) then hold them by the stems and dip the flowers into a simple batter mixture and fry. We make them savoury or sweet and both are delicious. We start with a simple batter of flour and oat mylk then add maple syrup for the sweet ones and salt and pepper for the savoury ones. It’s that simple!

 

Cleavers – Gallium aparine

 

Botanical term – whorled – leaves radiating from a single point and wrapping around the stem.

Herbal word – lymphatic – supports our lymphatic system.

Recipe – Cleavers cold infusion.
Another really simple recipe, all you do is place a couple of handfuls of freshly picked cleavers in a jug, cover with cool water and leave to infuse overnight. In the morning you will have a delicately flavoured liquid that will gently cleanse your body and help the lymphatic system to move and clear out stagnation. If you don’t want to wait overnight you can mash the plants in the water so they release their juices immediately, then strain and enjoy.

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Cleavers cold infusion

Daisy – Bellis perennis

 

Botanical term – obovate – egg shaped/ spoon shaped leaf.

Herbal word – vulnerary – wound healing.

Recipe – Daisy bruise balm.
This can be made by infusing fresh or dried daisy flowers into a base oil such as cold pressed olive or sunflower then mixing with a little beeswax or candelilla wax to make a balm. There are in depth instructions on how to make an infused oil and a balm on the ‘How to Make’ page which you can access via the menu bar at the top of this page.

 

Plantain – Plantago lanceolata

 

Botanical term – lanceolate – shaped like a lance.

Herbal word – demulcent – soothing, moistening, reducing inflammation.

Recipe – Plantain poultice.
The easiest recipe of all! To make a plantain poultice to help with bites, stings and minor wounds you simply chew or mash the plantain leaf until the juices are released and then place on the afflicted area. You can then cover it with a plantain leaf bandage like the one below.

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Plantain plaster

I hope this has been a useful and fun introduction to some wonderful weeds. Please share it with anyone you think might enjoy it and I’d love to see any photos of your weed adventures and colourings!

Download herb colouring sheets here!

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In this post I thought I would have a closer look at using flower remedies during these strange times we all find ourselves in.

Flower remedies are a simple tool which I have always found effective for working with emotional states that we are struggling to shift. I experience them as gently opening wherever there is stuckness and tension, allowing us to gain deeper insights and supporting the natural flow of being. Flower remedies aren’t for everyone, they are an energetic medicine which doesn’t appeal to those whose approach is purely scientific and, to my knowledge, there’s no research on their effectiveness.

I have found them to be valuable allies in my practice and my own life however and I love the process of making them, finding I gain deeper insights and a strengthened connection to each plant I work with. If this resonates with you then I hope the information here will encourage you to have a go at working with them or making your own. I have detailed instructions on how to make a flower remedy in this post here.

During April the spring flowers are blooming all around us and, as the weather here on the south coast has been sunny, it’s a perfect time to make a remedy. In this post I wanted to focus mainly on flowers that are available right now and those listed here are ones I feel to be especially useful for this time. I’ve included flowers that are common and will likely be found growing wild in many people’s gardens as obviously we cant go and make remedies in public spaces at the moment. I know many don’t have a garden though so I’ve also included some helpful Bach flower remedies at the end of this post which can be ordered online.

Blackthorn – Transformation

Blackthorn (Prunus spinosa) is in full bloom at the moment and is a great remedy for these shifting and uncertain times. It gets its common name from the dark wood and fierce thorns which stand stark in the winter hedgerow.

In spring the white blossoms appear before the leaves making a dramatic contrast and symbolising the shifts that this remedy can help us to facilitate. The following information is taken from my previous post on Blackthorn which you can read here.

For me Blackthorn is the tree of transformation; from winter to spring, from darkness to light, from introversion to extroversion, from sadness to joy. It honours each part of the cycle as equal without only valuing the experiences that feel most pleasant. It is a great remedy for everyone to take as we emerge from winter but can be supportive all year round for those who are experiencing change or feel overwhelmed by difficult emotions. Blackthorn will support us with moving through these whilst also helping us to go deep within ourselves to find the lessons in all our experiences.

Primrose – Tenderness

Primrose (Primula vulgaris) is looking beautiful right now and the wild yellow flowers make a lovely soothing remedy.

Primrose is for helping us to hold ourselves in tenderness and kindness when difficult feelings arise. It is a wonderful remedy for the inner child and allows for a feeling of safety and care to envelop us in a gentle embrace. It encourages a warm hearted openness to help us move past self doubt and shame. It is a lovely remedy for children who need some support to feel safe and for calming anxieties. Primrose is a great friend for helping us to be more comfortable in ourselves.

Violet – High Sensitivity

This remedy was made with the sweet violet (Viola odorata) which is finishing its flowering period now but the dog violet (Viola riviniana) is in bloom and can also be used. The remedies would likely have some differences but I feel they are both suitable for people who identify as highly sensitive. The following comes from a post I wrote on sweet violets here.

The flower remedy is a particularly special preparation which holds many great lessons for us. It is for those who have a very pure vision of the way they feel the world should be. It is a remedy of the imagination, for promoting and holding a clear and positive vision and returning us to a sense of child-like joy and wonder that can heal despondency and the fatigue caused by living in a challenging world. The sweet violet helps us stay centred in the place where love and imagination have the power to manifest physically and create a better world as a result.

The upper petals are open to give and receive but the perfect gold centre is protected, so the visions held cannot be compromised by the challenges of this world. The fine veins running through the petals are like nerves, indicating the extreme sensitivity of the violet personality. Their heads seem to hang heavy indicating how weighed down these folk can feel by the suffering they see around them. They grow close to the ground indicating how the remedy can help in grounding our dreaming into the here and now and stabilising us when times are tough. The large heart shaped leaves unfurl from the centre enabling us to open our hearts to all life’s experiences whilst remaining equanimous, grounded and free.

Forget- me-not – Remember your Gifts

There are a variety of myths about how Forget-me-not (Myosotis sylvatica) got it’s name, tales of drowned lovers and knights heading off to battle. The one that stands out to me though is an old Christian story in which God (or in some versions Adam) was walking through the garden of Eden asking each of the flowers their names. One small blue flower had forgotten who it was and so God named it the Forget-me-not.

This to me very much reflects the use of this essence which is for remembering who we are and the gifts we have to share with the world. Nearly all of us forget ourselves through social conditioning and the lure of the mind and take very convoluted paths back to remembering the simplicity of our true nature. Forget-me-not can help us to navigate this terrain and then in turn, allow us to communicate what is unique about our own expression in the human experience. This seems especially important right now.

Daisy is another excellent choice at this time as it lends us a sense of childlike resilience and an enthusiasm to keep going and to keep seeing the best in our circumstances and in others. Dandelion is also a wonderful remedy for resilience and is very grounding and supportive. It helps us to weather the storm with our feet planted firmly in the earth and can bring strength and warmth even in the midst of challenge.

As May comes around, the Apple and Hawthorn blossom will begin to flower and both these are exceptional remedies for healing the heart along with the Wild Rose which flowers later in the month and into June.

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For those that have access to the Bach flower remedies or wish to order them in, here are a few that may be helpful in our current circumstances.

Flower remedies for frustration: Impatiens for feeling impatient and frustrated, Beech to encourage tolerance.

Flower remedies for change and transitions: Walnut for navigating change and protecting against outside influences, Wild oat for not knowing which direction to take in life.

Flower remedies for fear and anxiety: Aspen for vague, unknown fears, Mimulus for known fears (those we can name), Cherry plum for fear of being out of control, Red chestnut for fear for the wellbeing of others, Rock rose for terror.

Other useful remedies include Star of Bethlehem for shock, Elm for feeling overwhelmed by responsibility and Mustard for feelings of deep gloom.

Bach flower remedies are available here and here (I have no affiliation to either company) and there are also many other flower remedy collections now available.

Do let me know in the comments if you try any of these or have any you would add to this list, I’d love to hear your insights and experiences.

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Herbal Help for Chickenpox

Chickenpox seems to be doing the rounds at the moment, being generally most prevalent in the late winter and spring, so I thought it would be an ideal time to share some tips on how to treat the symptoms at home with easily available herbs and simple home remedies.

Chickenpox is a very common disease of early childhood, about 90% of people will have had it by the time they reach adolescence, and it is generally considered a mild ailment with few cases experiencing complications. The majority of complications occur in adults, as the disease tends to be more severe, and it can be a threat to pregnant women and newborns as well as those with impaired immunity. In these cases it is wise to seek advice from your healthcare provider. In the vast majority of healthy children however it is a self-limiting disease and easing the symptoms is all we need to do.

Chickenpox, also known as varicella, is caused by the varicella-zoster virus and is highly infectious, spreading by contact or droplet infection such as sneezing, coughing or laughing. The incubation period varies between 2 to 3 weeks and the first indication is usually mild flu like symptoms with the characteristic rash appearing within a couple of days. Some children will only experience the rash without other accompanying symptoms but others will feel quite poorly. There is often a fever, which is usually low grade, and possible nausea, headache and loss of appetite. The rash is, for most children, the worst part of the disease as it can be very itchy and uncomfortable. It begins with red spots that blister and eventually scab over and heal after a few days The spots may cover just a small area or extend to most of the body and are particularly common on the face, scalp, chest and belly though they can even spread to the mucus membranes of the mouth. The child will be infectious from a couple of days before the rash starts until it has completely scabbed over and begun to heal. Be aware that new spots may occur and be infectious even after others have scabbed over however.

There is much we can do at home to help our children through the uncomfortable symptoms of chickenpox. Rather than looking to ‘fight’ the virus, herbal treatment will focus on supporting the innate healing powers of the body by easing fevers, soothing the itch, supporting the immune system and promoting healing.

It is wise to seek professional advice though if your child seems lethargic or unresponsive, has difficulty breathing, has blisters which become infected or has a high fever which persists longer than three days or one which exceeds 40 C.

Working with Fever:

Herbal treatment aims to support the body in the work that it is trying to do rather than to suppress the fever by bringing the child’s temperature down.

Fever plays an important role in stimulating the immune system and killing invading pathogens, yet as parents it is natural for us to feel anxious as we watch our children’s temperatures soar. Anti-pyretic drugs are best saved for emergencies and in the majority of cases simple, supportive measures will aid the fever in its work and help make the child more comfortable.

The use of gentle diaphoretics- herbs that encourage blood flow to the periphery and increase sweating- will help a fever to break and a healing sweat to flush toxins out of the system. Diaphoretic herbs are best given as hot teas and a little honey can be added to make them more palatable once the child is over 18 months. These herbs include elderflower, lime blossom, catmint, meadowsweet and yarrow and they can be given singly or in combination depending on what you have to hand. The most famous diaphoretic tea formula is the Gypsy Cold Cure tea which includes elderflower, yarrow and peppermint herbs and makes a refreshing beverage which most children will not object to. Give a small cup of hot tea up to five times daily, reducing to twice daily for a few days after the fever has broken. To make the tea add a heaped teaspoon of your chosen herb or combination of herbs to a cup of water, cover with a tea cosy and leave to steep for 10 minutes, then strain and add honey if desired.

If the child has a high temperature but cold extremities then try adding some fresh ginger root to the tea which will help move the heat out and make them more comfortable. Just add a few slices to the rest of the tea ingredients.

Soothing Itchy Skin:

 The intense itch is usually considered to be the worst part of chickenpox and can make children feel pretty miserable. Itchy skin can be maddeningly frustrating and it is hard for a child not to scratch themselves. Scratching is the major cause of infected spots, one of the most common complications of the disease, so it must be discouraged where possible and the best way to do this is to keep the skin soothed with calming and anti-inflammatory herbs.

General advice for keeping the skin cool includes avoiding man-made fibers which can stop the skin breathing and sticking to light, comfortable and cool clothing. Make the bath water luke warm rather than hot as this can increase itching and try to avoid vigorous exercise when the child is feeling better until such time as all the spots have healed over.

Most herbal treatment will be external; via baths, sprays and creams or lotions. Applied throughout the day these should keep the worst of the itchiness at bay and help the skin to heal more quickly and without scarring.

There are several ways of adding herbs to the bath. A strong tea of dried herbs can be made by infusing a handful of plant material in a tea pot or cafetiere of just boiled water, leaving to steep for half an hour, straining and adding to a shallow bath. The child can then relax for 20 minutes or so in the soothing water which is also used to gently wash the skin – never scrub as it can burst the blisters. Herbs that are great used in the bath for soothing itchy skin and healing chickenpox include calendula, chickweed, chamomile, plantain, peppermint and heartsease. I recommend a mix of equal parts chamomile, chickweed and peppermint. The chamomile is anti-inflammatory and healing, the chickweed is soothing and anti-itch and the peppermint cools and gently numbs the intense irritation.

One of the most effective baths for chickenpox is the traditional oat bath which is particularly lovely when mixed with some dried herbs. It involves placing a handful of rolled or porridge oats in a square of unbleached muslin with a small handful of chamomile or calendula. Bring up the corners of the muslin and tie with some cotton or a hair band. Run the bath water hot and place the bundle into the water, then leave it to steep until the water is luke warm and ready for the child to get in. The bag can then be repeatedly squeezed to release the soothing oat milk which is gently washed over the body. The bag can be very gently rubbed over the body and there is no need to rinse off the milk before drying. When time is short or I have had no muslin to hand, I have also just whizzed up oats with water or herb tea in the blender and added this to the bath.

During the day, regular application of a liquid preparation can help to stop itching and cool the skin. A blend of 50% witch hazel with either calendula tea or rosewater can be dabbed onto spots to help tone and sooth.

A cream or lotion can also be gently rubbed on to itchy areas. You can buy pre-made calendula lotion or chickweed cream from herbal stockists such as Neal’s Yard or Baldwins or use a base cream to which you add tinctures such as licorice or calendula up to about 10%. Aloe vera base gel can also be mixed with herbal tincture and used in the same way. I would avoid the use of an oily salve or balm on the spots as they can trap in heat and create more of a barrier. Generally lighter preparations are better in these circumstances.

A teaspoonful of calendula tincture can be added to a small glass of water and used as a mouthwash if symptoms have spread to the mucus membranes of the mouth.

Supporting the Immune System:

Supporting the immune system will generally include giving a light healthy diet of homemade vegetable soups and lots of fluids. It is very important to ensure dehydration does not occur so plenty of water and herbal teas are vital. If the child is still breastfeeding then this will also be wonderful support to their immune system.

Vitamins C, D, and Zinc are useful for immune function and vitamin A helps to protect the skin therefore a good quality multi-vitamin and mineral could prove helpful at times of illness and recovery.

Herbal teas also have a role to play. Elderberry and elderflower both help to protect the immune system and have an anti-viral effect. Nettle has antihistamine properties which might help to soothe the itchiness and Calendula is a good immune and lymphatic support. Once the fever has past it would be a good idea to move from the diaphoretic tea blends mentioned above to a general support mix such as equal parts calendula, nettle and elderflower.

Calming and Soothing Restlessness and Tension:

 Fortunately, several of the herbs we can use to treat the symptoms of chickenpox have the added bonus of being soothing to the nervous system and helpful for the irritation and restlessness that can accompany itchy conditions. Lime flower, catmint and chamomile in teas or added to the bath will help to sooth irritability and promote a restful nights sleep.

Promoting Healing and Recovery:

 After the symptoms have past and the child is feeling better it can still be useful to support the body to slough of the last of the disease, strengthen the immune system and promote full healing of the skin. A tea of cleavers, violet or calendula will support the lymphatic system to clear itself out. Cleavers is readily available at this time of year and can be harvested fresh from the garden to be juiced or infused. Burdock root is also useful as it supports all the organs of elimination and it can be given as a tea with a little honey to make it more palatable for children.

After the spots have scabbed over and started to heal and fall off you can massage the skin with a nourishing oil such as a combination of hemp, rosehip and either calendula or comfrey infused oil. This will help to prevent scarring and encourage growth of new healthy skin cells.

Adequate rest is also so important, don’t be tempted to rush back into normal routines before there is a full recovery. Convalescence is an often overlooked aspect of the healing process but one that was prized before our pace of life became so frantic.

(This article first appeared in The Mother magazine.)

 

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Lime Blossom Interview

I was recently interviewed for the herbal podcast Listen on the many benefits of lime blossom.
If you are interested in finding out more you can listen to it here.

I hope you enjoy it!

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Interview

I have been interviewed over at Herb Geek. You can check it out here if you are interested!

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After a very wet summer and autumn and a similar start to this year, everything is feeling decidedly damp. Our snow melted after a couple of days and it seemed that was the only taste of real winter we have had. Now everything has returned to the general dampness that has characterised most of the last year, a perpetual grey autumn leading on to a somewhat murky spring. The path from our house hasn’t dried out in months, the few bright days we have had not being enough to combat the effect of months of wet!

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Whilst it may sound like an obvious point to make, the environment and weather patterns outside our door play a vital role in the patterns of health and disharmony that we experience at any given time. So it’s little wonder than this year has been especially prolific in damp, phlegmy colds, chesty coughs and stuffy noses. The milder temperatures also allow bacteria to thrive and the general feeling of stagnation that comes from a water logged environment contributes to stagnation in our own bodies. So many people I have spoken to this winter have had colds and coughs that have hung on stubbornly for longer than usual and, even after they are feeling much better, there has still been some lingering phlegmy-ness!

While mucus is a natural and important part of our bodies, lining and protecting delicate membranes, phlegm is essentially the mucus of the respiratory passages gone bad! Whilst a balanced amount of mucus is essential to health, phlegm is often thicker, stickier and more related to states of disease or disharmony. Often when there is infection, the body will produce more mucus to help cleanse out the membranes but this can become congested or stuck leaving us with blocked passages along with a general sense of tiredness and malaise.

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Fog bank rolling over the escarpment

In TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) conditions of ‘phlegm’ often arise from excess ‘damp’, but whereas damp is thin and watery, phlegm will be thick, sticky and cause obstructions. There will usually be a more obvious thick coating on the tongue along with other signs of congestion. Phlegm can also cause a whole host of other symptoms from dizziness and swellings to palpitations and a feeling of detachment. Dietary measures are often recommended to combat excess damp or phlegm including reducing or eliminating damp causing foods like dairy, bananas, pork, wheat products, beer and sugary foods. Foods to add in often involve root vegetables, garlic and onion, warming spices and teas of orange or lemon peel.

In Ayurvedic medicine phlegm would be seen as a disorder of kapha and treated with warming, drying herbs and lifestyle advice, as it would in Western energetics where the appropriate term, ‘phlegmatic’ sums up the constitution that is prone to an excess of the humour ‘phlegm’.

Depending on the nature of the client and their disharmony, there would be a few herbal categories that we would want to consider when treating people with excessive phlegm including mucus membrane tonics, immune tonics, expectorants, anti-catarrhals and possibly diaphoretics.

Firstly, if possible we would want to think about eliminating causes. This is relatively easy if they are dietary but much harder if they are environmental (a nice long holiday perhaps?). Then we would generally think about treating symptoms with a mix of herbs. Bearing in mind that everyone is different and each person’s unique symptoms and constitution must be considered, here is a list of a few herbal helpers that you may find useful when phlegmy-ness strikes.

Warming spices and aromatics: For many problems involving phlegm, these will be our first herbs of choice. Most warming spices will also have a slightly drying quality and many of the best ones can already be found in your kitchen cupboard such as ginger, cayenne, cinnamon and cardamom. Regular doses of these as tea or tincture will help to warm your whole body which will thin mucus and enable it to be expelled more easily. You can also add them to foods- think of how your nose runs after a spicy curry!

Aromatics will open up the channels and move stagnation and some are still harvestable over the winter months, even though they may not be at their peak in terms of taste or constituents. In particular I have been using rosemary and thyme from the garden this winter to add to foods or to make simple teas that warm body and mind and disperse congestion. Among the most useful of the aromatic herbs for phlegmy coughs is elecampane, Inula helenium, which has a wonderful combination of warming stimulating essential oils and soothing relaxing mucilage.

Mucus membrane tonics: In this category, goldenseal reigns supreme for treating the sinuses, however it is not a native herb and is highly endangered in the wild. Luckily there are some who are trying to grow it in this country. If you do use goldenseal, make sure you always buy from reputable suppliers who are making efforts to protect this valuable herbal ally. Elecampane is once again a very valuable asset for the lungs, as is hyssop, another wonderful aromatic with expectorant, anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic properties.

Anti-catarrhals: These include elecampane, aniseed and goldenseal as well as goldenrod, eyebright and elderflower. Elecampane and aniseed are wonderful where phlegm has settled in the lungs whilst the others are more helpful for upper respiratory congestion and sinusitis. Ground ivy is one of my favourite herbs for clearing catarrh and is very prolific in this region.

Immune stimulants and anti-microbials: These herbs can help stop infection from occurring and turning a stuffy nose into a full blown sinus infection. Echinacea root is useful as an immune stimulant in general but I find it particularly useful where problems of the upper respiratory tract are involved – you can often feel a good extract tingling all through your sinuses. Garlic and onion are also very valuable allies, lots of chopped, raw garlic sprinkled on food is wonderfully anti-microbial and very warming. Elderberry is well known for its ability to improve immunity also and thyme pairs well with it as a warming ant-microbial.

As always if you are unsure of anything or have pre-existing health concerns it is wise to consult a local herbalist. Bearing that in  mind, I hope this has given you a few ideas for how to help yourself feel bright and well during these dark, damp days.

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Herbal Happenings In Sussex

I have just spent a lovely few days away visiting my parents and attending Sarah Head’s Sanctuary Herbs Festival which is wonderfully inspiring and highly recommended for those of you who fancy a herbal adventure next year.

Now I am back I wanted to let you know about a couple of new ventures starting this month which those of you in the general vicinity may be interested in.

A Series of Herbal Talks in Brighton: 

Firstly I have a series of talks coming up in the next few months which will be held at Brighton and Hove Therapies which is very close to Brighton station. You can see the details by clicking on the link to the attached flyer below.

Talks Flyer

Brighton Low Cost Clinic:

I will also be joining with medicial herbalist Sara Jane Glendinning for a low cost herbal clinic every Thursday morning from 10am to 1pm at The Coach House in Kemptown, Brighton.

The Coach House was started up by Sara Jane and is an inspiring venture promoting creative living through the arts and sciences. There are talks, workshops and music running throughout the year and an apothecary garden in the making. For more information see the Coach House website here.

The clinic will be open to everyone and consultations will be by donation though there will be a charge for the herbal medicines given. We suggest booking for appointments.

 

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Ballad For A Foraged Lunch

At lunch time Lucinda
Went down to the kitchen
To make for herself a wee snack,
But when she got there
The fridge it was bare
And the outlook for lunch it was black.

There was nothing in view
but a carrot or two
She said ‘I’d better think fast.’
With nothing to eat
Neither savoury or sweet
My health it is sure not to last.

So off to the hedge
she went with her knife
To see just what could be found.
Of nettle and Jack*
There sure was no lack
And ground elder growing all around.

From the garden she got
Some lovage for the pot
Then oregano, marjoram and chives.
‘Well this little bounty
On which I was counting
Will be sure to keep me alive.’

She cooked it all up
In a big iron pan
With the half a potato not green,
And when it was done
She said ‘oh what fun’
It’s the best lunch that ever I’ve seen.

* Jack by the hedge.

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A bright sunny Sunday morning meant the perfect opportunity to get out early and make a Blackthorn blossom remedy.

Blackthorn, Prunus spinosa, the same tree that gives us the deep blue sloes in autumn, has currently exploded into confetti-like blooms all over the hedgerows and woodland edges, making such a cheerful sight after the muted tones of winter.

Because the blossom of blackthorn comes out before the leaves the effect is even more striking as the pure white flowers stand out so dramatically against the hard, dark wood, without any background of green to soften the effect. This makes it easy to differentiate from the hawthorn, also known as whitethorn, whose leaves appear before the blossoms.

Blackthorn has long been associated with darkness; the unknown and mysterious, the subconscious and feared, and yet, in early Spring, it is the very epitome of brightness, beauty and expansion. As such it was considered symbolic of the cycles of life and death by our ancestors who honoured it as one of the trees in the Celtic alphabet or Ogham.

For me Blackthorn is the tree of transformation; from winter to spring, from darkness to light, from introversion to extroversion, from sadness to joy. It honours each part of the cycle as equal without only valuing the experiences that feel most pleasant. It is a great remedy for everyone to take as we emerge from winter but can be supportive all year round for those who are experiencing change or feel overwhelmed by negative emotions. Blackthorn will support us with moving through these whilst also helping us to go deep within ourselves to find the lessons in all our experiences.

It is important to understand that this, or any, flower remedy is not about superimposing a ‘positive’ emotion over a ‘negative’ one in order to live a life devoid of painful experience. They are just about offering support and the potential of opening up a little when we feel overwhelmed or constricted and thus unable to flow freely with our feelings. At some point we may find we no longer need them but until then we have them as support when the way ahead is unclear.

It has often been observed that the word emotion refers to energy in motion (e-motion) and this is a beautiful reflection. Emotions come and go, we as the witnesser of emotion remain in stillness.

However it is our habit, or the habit of mind, to immediately relate to every emotion that arises as a true and rightful aspect of who we believe ourselves to be. Thoughts such as ‘I am unworthy,’ ‘I am afraid’, ‘I am ugly’, or equally, ‘I am worthy’, ‘I am brave’, ‘I am beautiful’, remain unchecked and unverified and thus we believe them to be reality. Beauty, worthiness and bravery are concepts that exist in the mind only. Comparing them to other concepts lends them a kind of weight but what we as consciousness are is beyond all concepts.

It is formless, unchanging being and we are always it, whatever we may be experiencing in the moment.

When we begin to identify less strongly with our emotions the need to change them becomes less pronounced. We may still feel any number of strong emotions, from fear to grief or even hatred, but we no longer think these define us and so they do not make us suffer in the same way as before. In fact, often when the tempests come, we can find a joy and a peace that co-exist alongside them. Somehow we are both and neither, they simply arise in the vastness of our own hearts.

“I am not enough is a thought. I am enough is also a thought. They are not original to you… A thought without belief has no power at all but a thought with belief can start a war.”  Mooji

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Giveaway Winners!

Thank you to everyone who entered the giveaway and left such beautiful comments. It really warmed my heart to read them.

My husband has pulled a couple of names from the hat and the winners are as follows:

The rose blend goes to Maggie and the print to Jen. If you could both email me your postal addresses at whisperingearth@gmail.com I will get them out to you in the next few days.

Despite being generally very lucky, I am the kind of person who never wins anything so I thought I would try to avoid too much disappointment by offering everyone who wished to win the print a postcard version of it instead. I am only just getting postcards made up now so there may be a short delay in getting them to you but if you email me at the above address I’ll send you one out when they are ready. I’m sorry I can’t offer everyone some rose blend as well but my budget can’t quite stretch that far!

I’ll leave you with a few photos of the awakening spring buds here on the South Downs.

The fresh growth of elder gives me such a thrill, truly one of my favourite plant allies, in so many ways.

And the small but gloriously fat buds of the wayfaring tree are so lovely at this time of year.

All of nature rejoices when spring is in the air!

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