Welcome

taggy watering

A warm welcome to thewildpharma blog, little sister to our main website at www.thewildpharma.co.uk

This blog was created to share personal stories and experiences of healing with herbs and natural remedies. There is so much information out there on the internet concerning herbs and which ones to choose for which ailment but very few are based on practical experience. Often this information is re-copied from site to site and sometimes comes with either foolish optimism or fearmongering scepticism.

This blog has one simple aim ….. to share stories both good and bad (we learn so much from both!) of experiences with herbs and how they interact with the body, in illness and in health, based on my personal experiences as a herbalist and natural remedy enthusiast.

Who am I? I have been a professional practicing herbalist for the past 16 years and in training for many years before that. I have two teenage boys that have been on the receiving end of many herbal and natural treatments, as have most of my family and friends. Even so, I do not consider myself an expert (there is just so much more to learn) but I have great trust in the plants and natural wisdom around me.

We hope you enjoy reading the stories and look forward to hearing yours…..

With love

Deanna (deanna@thewildpharma.co.uk)

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Great Mullein – shows you the door and hands you the key

Great Mullein – shows you the door and hands you the key

This tall and stately looking plant with its furry grey leaves and spike of yellow flowers is a prime remedy for the lungs and respiratory system. It is a key ingredient in many lung strengthening and cough formulas yet is also excellent for healing connective tissue damage (ligaments, tendons, muscle and bone) and easing pain and inflammation.

Discover the long list of other benefits https://www.thewildpharma.co.uk/plants/mullein including its more subtle and metaphysical uses.

Marshmallow – strong healing hugs from the Queen of the marshes

Marshmallow – strong healing hugs from the Queen of the marshes

Marshmallow is such a useful plant to have around. I always keep a bag of powdered root in my herbal first aid kit as its so incredibly versatile. The root is packed with mucilage, a soothing slimy substance that coats & protects and encourages deep and rapid healing of tissues both external and internal. If you need to fix up a tear, rip or rupture anywhere in or on the body then look no further. Read the full list of healing properties and how to harvest and prepare it by clicking here.

Marshmallow flower – Althea officinalis

Lemon balm can light (and lighten) up your life

Lemon balm can light (and lighten) up your life

Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) is often overlooked as a medicinal plant but historically it was included in many recipes pertaining to be an Elixir of Life. Royalty revered it for its ability to lift the spirits, ease a troubled mind, drive out melancholy and promote a long and healthy life.

Peace of mind and relief from anxiety doesn’t go out of fashion but modern day applications also include strong anti-viral properties (particularly potent against the herpes virus), digestive distress and even enhancement of cognitive abilities. Find out what else this forgotten little plant can give you and how best to consume it here.

Fresh & zingy lemon balm leaves

Lady’s mantle – Alchemilla by name and by nature

Lady’s mantle – Alchemilla by name and by nature

Some plant names seem particularly apt and Alchemilla vulgaris or Lady’s mantle is one of them. Both the Latin name and the common name speak of the healing this plant can give to women of all ages. If menstrual flooding or hormonal irregularities are an issue for you, whatever your age and stage in the female hormonal journey, then Lady’s mantle can help.

That is not to say that men cannot benefit from her (she is certainly not a one trick kind of girl), she has some fascinating and extremely useful tricks up her sleeves. Read about her many other healing properties and preparation and dosage here.

Thank Juniper for Gin

Thank Juniper for Gin

Young juniper in the UK

This once notorious  spirit (think ‘mothers ruin’ and Hogarth’s prints), now steadily growing in popularity, owes everything to the medicinal qualities of the juniper tree (Juniperus communis). In use as a medicine for millennia, gin was devised and perfected by the Dutch as a homage to the juniper wine used for  cleansing the kidneys and bladder, soothing stomach pains and easing digestive troubles.

Juniper growing in Croatian scrub

 

 

The intense, warming smell of the aromatic oils contained in the berries have many applications in the body including clearing waste acids and debris from diseased joints in arthritis and rheumatism. However, it is best known for its potent disinfectant and antibacterial actions on the genito-urinary system, that is the kidneys, bladder and entire pelvic area. It is one of my first herbs of choice for stubborn and persistent cystitis.

 

 

Find out more https://www.thewildpharma.co.uk/plants/Juniper

Rose – a symbol of love and healer of hearts

Rose – a symbol of love and healer of hearts

The rose has been synonymous with love for many centuries – romantic love but also deep unconditional love and the sacred essence of divinity are embodied in its intensely beautiful perfume. Not only does it heal on an emotional level, offering the qualities of tenderness, compassion, nurturing and sensitivity but it has some powerful medicinal attributes to offer our physical bodies.

 

Rosa damascena

The list of physical complaints that rose can help with is impressive. It is valued  as a heart and circulatory tonic where it promotes circulation and combats blood stagnation and acts in a similar way to an ACE inhibitor (used to lower high blood pressure). At the same time it strengthen the force of the heart beat.I t is a  brain tonic with positive influences on new nerve growth and repair and can be beneficial in both dementia and Alzheimer’s and even seizures and convulsions.

Exquisite pink rose

Its gentle astringency can help reduce catarrhal build up, improve lung functions and alleviate coughs and sore throat, it also enlivens the complexion and combats the effects of ageing on the skin. Rose even has a positive impact on certain hormonal functions including regulating erratic menstruation and easing menopausal complaints such as painful menstruation and mood swings.

The petals have a soothing and protective action on mucous membranes damaged or irritated by stomach acids such as in acid reflux and oesophagitis whilst also acting as a gentle laxative and improving digestion generally. Rose is also an anti-diabetic qualities and fat lowering plant. It is considered a cooling and heat clearing remedy, making it applicable to any conditions involving heat and congestion such as excessive sweating, hot flushes, chronic rash like skin conditions, the hard baked mucous of sinusitis but also excessive and extreme emotions such as anger and constant worrying.

It has a good reputation for dealing with conditions affecting the eyes such as conjunctivitis, dryness of the eyes, other microbial infections of the eyes and surrounding tissues and even helps speed up recovery from eye procedures such as cataract removal. It exhibits a definite anti-microbial action on a wide range of pathogens and has been used as a natural antibiotic. Research has shown good results in HIV treatment.

Wild rose

This Pubmed article on Rosa damascena evaluates its long history as a medicine stating the effects of the flowers “are hypnotic, anticonvulsant, anti-depressant, anti-anxiety, analgesic effects, and nerve growth” so is a valuable allay against nervous tension, stress and insomnia.

Rose is very simple to use and can be added fresh or dried to oils, made into sweet conserves or syrups, dried for use as tea or to add to baths. So many gorgeous recipes using rose petals and buds exist on the internet so experiment to your hearts content.

The simplest way to use the rose is to collect the petals and use as a tea. To do this simply gather the open flower heads on a dry preferably sunny day and gently pull off the petals. Remove the little ‘claw’ ( unguis) at the base of the petals and lay out on a sheet of paper or tray to dry. Use around a teaspoon to level tablespoon of dried petals and add boiling water. Allow to steep for several minutes and strain out the petals or leave in if you prefer. A cup or 2 of this tea will give you the many benefits the rose has to offer.

My favourite  way to use rose petals (I like Rosa damascena for this) is to add a generous handful to a bath. I put mine in a muslin bag but a clean sock would do just as well. Your bath will be transformed into a heaven scented, relaxing, soothing, medicinal, beauty promoting infusion!

Varieties of rose suitable for medicinal and edible use include Rosa gallica, Rosa damascena, Rosa canina and Rosa rugosa.

We have dried wild harvested Rosa damascena for sale in our main shop

The hips are also packed with vitamin c and other goodies but that is another story for another day.

 

Garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata) – some heat in the hedgerow

Garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata) – some heat in the hedgerow

Fresh garlic mustard growth

This spicy little plant is so typical of the brassica/mustard family which includes plants such as cabbages, broccoli, rape, rocket and radish. With a faint whiff of garlic and a gentle spicy mustard flavour, it is a classic hedgerow edible. Its pretty straight forward to identify – serrated heart shaped leaves, flower stalks bearing little clusters of white flowers which give way to the long thin seed pods. And the garlicky smell is a giveaway too! Introduced by the settlers to the US, it is a serious invasive pest. Here in the UK and Europe it behaves itself, being a sole food source for many native insects.

All parts of the plant, the leaves, flowers, stalks and seeds are edible including the roots. The leaves are often added to green salads, sauteed with butter or used in pesto like sauces. They are best eaten at this time of year when the leaves are fresh and young as they can get a bit bitter with age. The roots can be used any time of year and are very similar to horseradish in their fiery pungency. Simply dig up some roots, wash thoroughly, chop into pieces and place in a jar. Fill the jar up with cider vinegar, put a tight fitting lid on and leave to macerate for a few weeks. Strain out the root and you have a spicy vinegar dressing that can also help to clear the sinuses. The green seed pods can be nibbled on raw or if left to mature, harvest the seeds and use as a culinary spice like you would mustard seeds.

Long thin seed pods of garlic mustard

The plant gives us plenty more useful medicine too. The leaves are rich in vitamin C , vitamin A, various minerals, plenty of fibre  and also sulphur compounds. These sulphurous components are beneficial to the entire respiratory system and can be used for bronchial troubles, coughs, colds, chest infections, sinusitis, catarrhal congestion and even help the skin in chronic conditions like eczema. The leaves can be used as a poultice for ulcers and other infected wounds as it is a significant antiseptic.

Its pungent and fiery nature encourages efficient  blood flow around the body making it good for improving circulation in conditions of poor blood supply. Being rich in vitamin C and other bioflavanoids means it is capable of strengthening the structural integrity of capillaries and veins  too.

Like other mustard plants, it can be used to relieve the pain and inflammation of rheumatic and arthritic joints. Either wrap the area in wilted fresh leaves or pound the leaves with a little oil to make a crude poultice and apply. This poultice can also be laid over the back and chest to help clear congestion and infection form the lungs. It is a warming and soothing ally to anyone with a chesty cough or cold.

In older times, all members of the mustard family were used to lift the spirits and revive a tired mind and body, it will certainly pep you up when you taste it. As so many of our cultivated brassica plants are credited with superfood status (broccoli, cabbage etc) it follows that adding some garlic mustard to the diet occasionally will be a great boost to overall health, even helping to prevent cancer.

Patch of garlic mustard in a hedgerow

 

Heres a nice example of a recipe for garlic mustard seedpod salad dressing

All in all, garlic mustard is a handy plant to know. Dry the leaves for future use, preserve the roots in vinegar, eat it straight from the plant but above all, get to know it if you can. It won’t fail to spice up your life.

 

**Recent studies reveal that the leaves of the plant contain cyanide. This is true of garlic mustard and many other edible plants, including cultivated brassica plants like broccoli. People have been grazing on it for centuries as a seasonal food source so a once or twice weekly meal containing garlic mustard will do no harm. Its certainly not delicious enough (in my opinion) to gorge on!