Sweet violet (Viola odorata) – a lowly plant with lofty curative powers

May 17, 2019

Sweet violet flowers and leaves have been in use as a medicine around the world for centuries and prized for their various therapeutic properties. They may be small but they are very impressive with their exquisite beauty, intoxicating fragrance and plethora of medicinal actions including mild sedative, moistening, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antioxidant, diuretic, anti-cancer, decongestant, antihypertensive, anti-lipemic (reducing blood lipids/fats), diaphoretic, pre-anesthetic, antipyretic, anti-fungal, mildly laxative as well as having positive effects on body-weight reduction.

It’s a great herb for children suffering from coughs, the onset of a cold, fevers, restlessness and temper tantrums and is also rich in nutrients like vitamins A and C. It is a gentle acting plant, no forceful drama yet powerful and thorough in its healing.

Violets in a shady hedgerow

 

This plant has inspired love poetry for centuries and now it seems medical science is also falling in love with sweet violet, evidenced here by the sheer volume of scientific studies it has spawned.

Find out exactly what sweet violet can achieve and how easy it is to use as a medicine at home here.

 

“Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it” (Mark Twain).

Slippery Elm (Ulmus rubra/fulva) – first aid, band aid, all round good healing aid

April 2, 2019

The inner bark (the layer beneath the rough outer bark) of this particular elm tree is one of the most soothing and healing herbal agents for any and every kind of mucosal or skin irritation I have ever encountered. It coats, soothes and heals membranes and has anti-inflammatory, immune stimulating and emollient or moisturising properties. The clinging  and coating mucilage protects damaged or irritated membranes and allows healing to take place uninterrupted thanks to its protective coating. It is rich in soluble fibre and has a decent nutritional content including vitamins C & E,  B vitamins, calcium, starches and sugars.

Slippery Elm (Ulmus rubra/fulva) powder

Read more about this incredible remedy and its’ many medicinal applications here

Red clover (Trifolium pratense) – therapeutic offerings from the meadow

January 24, 2019

Unlike some medicinal plants, these flower heads may not have a list of medicinal actions as long as your arm – but what they do, they do incredibly well. If thinning the blood and improving the elasticity of all blood vessel walls weren’t enough, they have hormonal constituents (phytoestrogens) that can greatly help with menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes and bone density loss. Add to this a strong history of treating chronic skin conditions, beautifying the complexion and an excellent reputation for helping  to treat a variety of cancers.

Red clover (Trifoilum pratense) in an Alpine meadow

The plant needs little description as it is so recognisable and is  incredibly easy to find, harvest and use. To find out what else these gorgeous flowers can do, including dosage and cautions, visit the Wild Pharma  ‘red clover’ page.

Magical Medicinal Mistletoe

December 21, 2018

The European mistletoe is drenched in magic and has a long held place in the mythology of Europe. Many other parts of the world have their own varieties of mistletoe equally held in high esteem. Aside from its medicinal properties, the Druids and Ancients noted where and how it lived its life, not of the Earth and not of the Sky but somewhere in between, in the trees. The trees themselves are connectors of sky and earth (roots reaching down, branches reaching up) and the mistletoe thrives in that in between space. I find it no coincidence that the mistletoe has an affinity for the heart – the organ that is in between above and below – right in the middle of the 3 lower chakras and the 3 higher chakras and the seat of the soul to so many ancient cultures.

European Mistletoe (Viscum album)

Read the full medicinal story, cautions and how to use mistletoe as medicine here.

Essential First Aid Weed – Ribwort Plantain leaf (Planatgo lanceolata)

November 20, 2018

Ribwort plantain leaf (Plantago lanceolata) has served me, my family and many of my friends and clients very well over the years. Stories  of its incredibly versatile emergency healing powers continually inspire me. It is such a humble looking plant, barely even thought of as a wild flower due to its indistinct brown flowers and its love of waste ground. Weirdly though, it is one of my absolute favourite wild flowers for several reasons.

Ribwort plantain (Plantago lanceolata)

Plantain leaves have a special ability to draw and neutralise poisons and toxins from the body, even in dire situations. If ever someone presented gangrene to me it would be my first choice, no contest. I have seen several cases of early blood poisoning resolve speedily with copious cups of plantain leaf tea. In fact any wound that festers, contains pus, smells fowl or looks horrific will be calling out for plantain leaf. Drink cups of strong leaf tea and use  it as a wash, poultice or dressing anywhere in or out of the body. You cannot overdo plantain in life or limb threatening situations.

Besides its emergency first aid applications and its effortless power to heal the physical, it calls to me on a deeper level. There is something very special about this plant that I can’t quite put into words and I feel that it has metaphysical teachings to share with humanity. Plantain has made it into my dreams many times over the years, all have been of a magical and teaching nature. I believe it is capable of drawing non-physical poison from us, those toxic thoughts that linger and fester and often lead to physical problems further down the line. Even the way the flowers open appeals to me – the first flowers open at the bottom of the stalk then continue to open on a spiralling path up through to the top of the flower stalk.

Ribwort plantain flower (P, lanceolata)

Plantain has many other uses you can learn about here. I urge you to take the time to get to know this plant, how powerful its medicine is and how easy it is to use!

Prickly ash (Xanthoxylum americanum) – a herbal catalyst

November 8, 2018

This is a very useful remedy to have in the home. A classic herb to add to formulas to make the actions of other herbs even more potent, it stimulates blood circulation to and from the extremities of all tissues. Increased blood circulation means more nutrients delivered and more waste taken away.

A classic remedy for toothache when nerves are inflamed or exposed and for many conditions involving nerve pain, inflammation, numbness, tingling and impaired movement.

Add to formulas for musculoskeletal complaints such as arthritis, back pains, rheumatism and repetitive strain injuries.

Prickly ash (Xanthoxylum americanum) leaves and berries

To learn more about the medicinal gifts this plant has to offer, click here.

Posted in: Plant Profiles

How a pest (mullein moth caterpillar) greatly increased my mullein flower harvest

September 10, 2018

It is always a pleasant surprise when the odd mullein plant (Verbascum thapsus) turns up in my garden every now and then. The majority of my garden has the feel of a shady woodland so not your typical growing conditions for mullein . Fortunately my veggie patch has a good deal of sun and is well drained so I was happy to spot the unmistakable broad grey furry leaves of a baby mullein plant right at the front of my veg bed.

Rosette of leaves of mullein plant before flowering

I watched it grow over the next few weeks, the basal rosette of leaves getting larger and larger by the day almost. One day i noticed a few holes in the leaves and on closer inspection, a handful of black, yellow and white spotty/striped caterpillars. An internet search confirmed mullein moth caterpillar (Cucullia verbasci).

Should I pick them off and offer them to the chickens? Should I just leave them to it ? I hadn’t planted this mullein so it was a happy accident that it was in my garden in the first place. In the end I couldn’t bring myself to destroy them, I figured it wasn’t my place to play God on this one so I left them to it.

Usual single stemmed mullein flower stalk

Over the next few weeks, I watched with interest and some dismay as every single one of the big broad furry leaves were reduced to tattered strips and the centrally emerging flower stalk was annihilated. All eaten and covered in caterpillar shit. I assumed that was the end for the mullein plant but consoled myself with the thought that at least a new generation of mullein moths would be born into the world in the next few years.

Then something really lovely started to happen. Gradually, new flower stalks began bursting out from all around the old eaten flower stalk. The growth culminated with a huge multi pronged candelabra of flower stalks around 5 feet tall, each stalk plastered with mullein flowers.

Multi-stalked flowering mullein after caterpillar feasting

Every couple of days I was able to harvest mullein flowers. Each time I picked a batch, I could see masses of new flower buds behind them just waiting for their chance to bloom. Mullein is such a generous plant anyway, giving medicinal gifts in the form of flowers, leaves and even roots. And of course, masses of seeds for re-planting.

One of many mullein flower harvests

Altogether, I have harvested around 25g of flowers from one plant, all thanks to the ‘pest’ called the mullein moth. Over the next few years the caterpillars will emerge from their below ground slumber as mullein moths. I look forward to their future caterpillar offspring and this time will welcome them with open arms!

Mullein flowers all dried out and ready for use

Find out more about the medicinal uses of mullein flowers (and leaves and root) here.

 

 

 

Centaury (Centaurium erythraea)- healing powers fit for the Gods.

August 30, 2018

This small pink flowered plant is named after the great centaur Chriron, a dedicated healer and mystical being who taught Asclepius (considered the original father of medicine) the art of healing. Legend has it that Chiron healed himself of an incurable poison arrow wound with this herb.

It is an excellent wound herb for sure yet is also one of our finest and most effective native bitter tonic plants for digestive complaints.

Discover why this native UK plant is deemed worthy of the Gods https://www.thewildpharma.co.uk/plants/centaury

 

Posted in: Plant Profiles

Schisandra chinensis – the 5 flavoured berry for balanced health

June 12, 2018

These beautiful shiny red berries have 5 flavours present in one  – sweet, salty, sour. spicy and bitter. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has been using them for centuries to alleviate wasting and debilitating chronic diseases.

They invigorate ‘Qi” , the vital life force of the body and are another herb that seeks to promote balance in the human system. At last science is starting to take note and studies on these powerful little sherbet tasting berries are being conducted in earnest, revealing a wealth of medicinal actions and uses.

Read more about these incredible little berries here.

Schisandra chinensis berries

Posted in: Plant Profiles

Schisandra chinensis – the 5 flavoured berry for balanced health

June 12, 2018

These beautiful shiny red berries have 5 flavours present in one  – sweet, salty, sour. spicy and bitter. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has been using them for centuries to alleviate wasting and debilitating chronic diseases.

They invigorate ‘Qi” , the vital life force of the body and are another herb that seeks to promote balance in the human system. At last science is starting to take note and studies on these powerful little sherbet tasting berries are being conducted in earnest, revealing a wealth of medicinal actions and uses.

Read more about these incredible little berries here.

Schisandra chinensis berries

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