Sep 292019
 

After completely selling out of my first batch of Elderberry, Thyme & Liquorice Linctus last week, I set off in search of more elderberries this weekend. And lo, I found random clutches  of even lusher and more succulent berries (wouldn’t have thought possible), tucked away in Godolphin Woods. They were not easy to find, but Mother Nature did, slowly but surely, give them up, until my bags were overflowing.  Just look at these beauties – absolute jewels!

So I will soon have more linctus for those who missed out last week, and hopefully enough to last through most of the winter.

As I said in my previous post… it’s great stuff for coughs, colds, sore throats, and as a general winter tonic. Elderberries are packed with vitamin C and other antioxidants. I add tincture of thyme for its antiseptic and antibacterial properties, and tincture of liquorice as it’s a great expectorant for bringing up phlegm, and also a soothing demulcent for sore throats and chests.

It tastes delicious – and it works!

Sep 292019
 

Had a fantastic weekend gathering winter fruits from the garden and beyond.

First and foremost, got a load more elderberries (top right) – even fatter and lusher than the last lot, I think. That’s probably it for this year, as I didn’t see any more still-ripening berries. Gathering helped by husband, hindered by three dogs (in various ways!) Most of tomorrow will now be taken up making more Elderberry, Thyme & Liquorice Linctus.

Then we gathered hawthorn berries (top centre), which I will macerate and add to my hawthorn blossom tincture made in the spring, making a most fulsome blend for healing the heart on a physical and emotional level, among other things.

Also collected and examined the fallen sweet chestnuts (bottom left), but the nuts were not quite ripe, so we left for the squirrels. They usually ‘come to fruition’ after the horse chestnuts. They’re delicious roasted.

And oh the blackberries (top left), still in such abundance. Combined with apples from the garden (bottom right), and drizzled with honey from my neighbour’s bees, they make the most divine apple & blackberry crumble, completely devoid of any refined sugar! Picking of these also hindered by three dogs, who will keep sticking their heads in the bags and eating the blackberries as fast as we can pick them, even though they’re perfectly capable of picking their own!

There were even a few more raspberries (bottom centre) to gather, in the garden, which were quickly scoffed (by husband and self – no dogs!)

The horse chestnuts (centre) came courtesy of my dear friend Lisa and her kids, who have been collecting them for me for the past week. Beautiful shiny, succulent things, already macerating in buckets in my kitchen, to produce the most amazing remedy for the relief of varicose veins, among other uses.

To add to the bounty, husband caught squid and mackerel yesterday – not pictured because we ate those last night. And very yummy they were too.

I love this time of year. Like I love every time of year. There is always something nature has to offer.

Nov 222014
 

Poor circulationMany herbal remedies, including horse chestnut, can help relieve varicose veins, and cold hands and feet that are part of Raynaud’s phenomenon. Deanne Greenwood, a medical herbalist who practices in Cornwall but also offers consultations by telephone and Skype, suggests a few home remedies, as well as explaining how herbal medicine can help at a deeper level.

It’s that time of year when the symptoms of circulatory disorders such as varicose veins and Raynaud’s syndrome can flare up. I see a lot of patients with throbbing veins in their legs, and hands and feet that are blue and numb with cold. Often, they have these symptoms, in a milder form, all year round – they just notice them more once winter comes around.

Home remedies

So here’s a bit of self-help advice, as well as info on how herbal medicine can help with regard to the bigger picture, ie, identifying and treating the cause of these symptoms.

Varicose veins

Last winter, a 60-year-old woman came to see me with varicose veins that she’d lived with for 35 years, since her first pregnancy. They were always more painful in the winter, and particularly bad since she had started working in an office with central heating. Her legs throbbed, ached and itched.

Weak veins

I explained that varicose veins are a circulatory disorder resulting from weakened veins and valves, and the blood pooling, rather than flowing through, the veins. Standing or sitting for long periods often make this worse, so avoiding this will obviously help. Regularly sitting with legs raised up can also help relieve the symptoms of varicose veins.

Herbal help

There are a number of herbal remedies that can help tighten and tone the veins, and boost blood circulation, thereby easing the discomfort.

Witch hazel

The first is distilled witch hazel, a natural astringent and anti-inflammatory that you can buy in pharmacies. Gently stroking it over the veins, using a piece of muslin or cotton wool, cools and tightens the veins and can bring instant relief.

Calendula cream

You can use infusions of yarrow or calendula (aka marigold), both of which have the same astringent and anti-inflammatory properties, in the same way and for the same effect. (Make a tea with the dried herb, allow to cool, strain and chill in the fridge.) Or try a soothing witch hazel or calendula cream.

Horse chestnut

For longterm relief, which will include improving venous tone and blood circulation, you’ll need to see a medical herbalist for an internal remedy that will be formulated specifically for you. One herb I find very effective for internal use, in many cases, is horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum). I make my own potent horse chestnut tincture from the freshest organic horse chestnut seeds, collected as they fall and processed immediately. This will be combined with other herbs according to individual requirements.

Bilberry

Another one is bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus), which contains a compound called anthocyanosides which help strengthen blood vessel walls.

Raynaud’s phenomenon

I may also use horse chestnut and bilberry in formulas for Raynaud’s phenomenon – a circulatory problem in which the small arteries that supply blood to the hands and feet narrow, causing cold and numbness, followed by burning and pain as they warm up. Other useful herbs for Raynaud’s include Prickly ash (Zanthoxylum americanum), ginger (Zingiber officianale) and ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba), which are all fantastic circulatory stimulants.

Herbal supplements

It’s not simply a case of taking one of these herbs as a supplement, though. Herbal medicine is far more complex than that. To be really effective, especially when being used for longterm, chronic health problems, herbs need to be carefully selected and combined with other plants to suit the individual person. Everyone has different constitutions, susceptibilities and responses.

Find out more

If you’d like to find out more about how herbal medicine works, please take a look at my About Herbal Medicine page. For more general information about Raynaud’s phenomenon go to www.raynauds.org.uk/raynauds/raynauds.