Sep 262019
 

Fresh, handpicked elderberries from The Lizard in Cornwall, gathered by medical herbalist Deanne Greenwood, to make elderberry, thyme and liquorice cough linctus. Deanne Greenwood practices in Falmouth, Helston, Penzance and The Lizard in Cornwall.I’ve just finished making this year’s Elderberry, Thyme & Liquorice Linctus – amazing stuff for coughs, colds, sore throats, and as a general winter tonic… Elderberries are packed with vitamin C and other antioxidants, and 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!

This year there were some exceptionally fat and juicy berries for me to pick (alongside masses of similarly lush berries and fruits, including blackberries, hawthorn berries, horse chestnut and sweet chestnut, which I’ve also been collecting). But elderberries are particularly time-consuming to prepare, and I didn’t have time to make as much linctus as I usually do.

First of all, I make sure all my utensils and bottles are sterilised, as this stuff quickly goes off if you get any bacteria in it. Then I pick the elderberries, getting stung by nettles and scratched by brambles along the way, but then I’m used to that in my line of work! Next comes the painstaking separation of the ripe ‘n’ ready berries from the still green ones, and the shrivelled up ones, on each panicle. Then I make the syrup – ensuring I don’t over heat it and lose some of its medicinal properties. Once cool, the tinctures of thyme and liquorice are added, and the resultant elixir bottled and labelled.

This year, I factored in the manpower, i.e. the number of hours it took me to do all this, paying myself £18 an hour, whereas previously it’s been more a labour of love. Although a lot of love has still gone into it, because I love what I do, and herbal medicines prepared with love always have the edge when it comes to healing properties.

elderberry, thyme and liquorice cough linctus made by medical herbalist Deanne Greenwood, who practices in Falmouth, Helston, Penzance and The Lizard in Cornwall.So I’m charging more for my linctus this year: £8.50 for a 200ml bottle.

You can, of course, make your own Elderberry Linctus, using culinary herbs such as ginger root, cinnamon and/or liquorice sticks in place of the thyme and liquorice tinctures I use. You’ll find a recipe for it in a website blog I wrote way back in 2015. Click here.

 

Jun 132018
 

ForagingDeanne Greenwood Medical Herbalist in her herb garden

This is my favourite time of year with regard to all things herbal. For the next few months I will be very busy indeed, with all the lush medicinal plants that are sprouting up everywhere in a glorious and wild profusion of colour and aroma.

When the plants are in their optimum state for harvesting, and the weather conditions are right, I’ll be off gathering what I need to create potent herbal tinctures.

Hot, sunny mornings

Typically, I’ll be waiting for a hot sunny day, which will first take the morning dew off the plants, and then bring the therapeutic saps and oils to the surface of the leaves and flowers. I try to get out late morning, before the day gets too hot and the plants, and I, start to wilt a little.

Elder flowersElderflower is a popular hay fever remedy

Recently, I’ve gathered fluffy heads of elder flowers and spread some of them out to dry on racks above the boiler in my boot room. The heady scent they give off is quite intoxicating – especially when I first open the boot room door in the morning. I’ll use the resultant dried plant, mixed with similarly dried peppermint and yarrow, to make a herbal tea which is the absolute best for colds and flu as it makes you sweat, as well as having lots of other therapeutic properties.

I am also macerating some of the elder flower heads in diluted organic grain alcohol to make a tincture (takes about two weeks) that I often use for prophylactic treatment of hay fever – mixed with other herbs, such as eyebright and nettle.

My fingers were stained nicotine yellow after harvesting the elder – not a good look for a health practitioner!

Nettle

The nettle – gathered when it was heavy with seed heads, is also currently in maceration.

Sage & Rosemary

From the allotment, I’ve harvested pungent sage – bravely fending off the fat bumblebees that were buzzing all round the purple flowers on the sage and didn’t take kindly to me chopping down their nectar supply – and rosemary, of which I have several large bushes.

My fingers and nails this time were engrained with a thick layer of brown and green oils. (At this time of year, I often have to explain to patients that my disgusting looking nails are not the result of having just done an oil change!)

St John’s wort

Next on the agenda is St John’s wort, which is said to flower on June 24th – St John’s Day, hence the name. Today (June 13th) the rather large bush in my garden has one fully opened flower, and many buds, so I’m hoping it will be in full flower pretty much bang on target!

Lemon balm, Meadowsweet & Yarrow

And so many more still to do – lemon balm, meadowsweet and yarrow being a few of my favourites.

Healing energy

It is such a rewarding practice, because the herbal medicines I prepare myself are always the very best, most potent in my dispensary. You can smell and taste the vibrancy and healing energy in them.

Spirit of Plants and People

That is not to say the herbal medicines I buy in from accredited suppliers in other parts of the country, who also grow many of their own plants, aren’t of the highest quality and therapeutic efficacy – it’s just that I feel home-prepared have the edge. Partly because the sole herbalist is better able to harvest at the absolute optimum time, but mainly because, I believe, the spirit of the person who picks and prepares medicinal plants infuses into the plant and gives the medicine an extra power and energy.

Hence always gathering and preparing herbal medicines with respect, love and gratitude.

Jan 242015
 

Hay fever seasonNettles (Urtica dioica) have antihistamine properties and are often used in herbal medicine for the prevention and relief of hay fever and other allergies. Medical herbalist Deanne Greenwood prepares many of her own herbal remedies at her home on the Lizard in Cornwall, for use in her practices in Falmouth, Helston and Penzance.

Depending on which particular plant pollen you are allergic to, you may already be dreading the start of the hay fever season. People who are allergic to tree pollen can start experiencing symptoms as early as February (usually lasting through to June). Grass pollen is released from May to July, and weed pollen spans April to September. Some particularly sensitive individuals may be allergic to all or a combination of plants, meaning that they can suffer for many months. People who are allergic to mould (a big problem in Cornwall, where I live and practice) may suffer symptoms all year round, although peak season is September and October.

Hay fever symptoms

People who suffer from hay fever often only seek treatment when they start experiencing symptoms, which include streaming and itchy nose, throat and eyes, or blocked nose and sinuses, fatigue, headache, poor sleep and low mood. Prior to the onset of symptoms, they tend to take an optimistic ‘wait-and-see’ approach: it might not be as bad this year. And sometimes it isn’t. But when it is as bad as ever, or worse, there is little to be done apart from treat the symptoms (and stay indoors).

Side effects

Herbal medicine can help relieve and manage the symptoms of hay fever and alleviate the need to take conventional medication which can have side effects and lead to other health problems. When you see a qualified, experienced herbalist, the underlying cause of hay fever, ie why you react adversely to substances that other people cope perfectly well with, will also be addressed, the aim being to reduce your sensitivity and therefore your allergic reaction.

Desensitise your body

A more effective strategy  is to seek herbal help before the hay fever season starts and you start experiencing symptoms. Using a personalised approach and herbs chosen specifically for you, a herbalist can help rebalance, strengthen and, in effect, desensitise your body, reducing and hopefully preventing a reaction to the substances it was previously sensitive to. A herbalist will take into consideration any other allergies or sensitivities you may have. Allergies tend to have a cumulative effect, so the more substances you are sensitive to, the more you are likely to become sensitive to, or the more severe your symptoms may become, as your body becomes more and more stressed and weakened, and less able to cope.

Anti-histamine herbs

There is a wide choice of herbs to choose from, including those with antihistamine, anti-inflammatory, anti-pruritic (anti-itching) properties, and it is the skill of the herbalist that determines which herbs are best suited to you.

Natural vaccines

I believe that using local plants is particularly beneficial, in the same way that many people find eating local honey helps alleviate their symptoms. The theory is that the local bees are feeding off the same pollens to which your are allergic, so their honey has an immunomodulatory effect. In other words, it acts like a natural vaccine.

Herbs for hay fever

I harvest my own herbs, and prepare my own tinctures for use when treating people for hay fever and other allergies. I live on The Lizard peninsula in Cornwall, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, where much of the land is organic, and the medicinal plants and herbs I harvest here are rich, strong and vibrant, and have an almost tangible energy. Those that commonly feature in remedies for hay fever include nettle, plantain, elderflower and eyebright.

Pre-hay fever season

The sooner someone with hay fever seeks herbal help, the better. Ideally, I like to see patients 2-3 months before ‘their’ hay fever season starts. That way, we can strengthen and rebalance all the body systems, including the immune system, so that it recognises, and stops overreacting to, natural substances.

Find out more about herbal medicine

If you’d like to find out more about how herbal medicine works, please take a look at my About Herbal Medicine page.

Oct 312014
 

An apple a day…Whole apples and cloudy apple juice can reduce total cholesterol and LDL ("bad") cholesterol levels, a study conducted last year has revealed. Other foods that can help include turmeric, globe artichoke and garlic, all of which are used in tincture and tablet form in herbal medicine.

Eating apples, or drinking cloudy apple juice (full of fibre and antioxidants), has been shown to significantly reduce both LDL (aka ‘bad’) cholesterol and Total Cholesterol levels in a study (randomized, single-blind, cross-over) conducted last year. Clear apple juice (much lower amounts of fibre and antioxidants) resulted in an increase in LDL and Total Cholesterol.

Garlic, artichoke and turmeric…

Other foods that are great for helping manage cholesterol levels include garlic, globe artichoke and turmeric. I also use them in tincture or tablet form as part of a herbal medicine prescription. And there are so many other herbs that can help problems associated with high cholesterol such as high blood pressure and atherosclerosis.

For more information…

If you’re worried about your cholesterol and would like to find out more about how herbal medicine can help, please get in touch with me.

Sep 212014
 

the October issue of Cornwall Today magazine has a feature on Medical Herbalist Deanne Greenwood, who sees patients in Falmouth, Helston, Penzance and on the Lizard in Cornwall, and conducts Skype consultations across the UK.Very excited to have a feature about me, and herbal medicine, in the October issue of Cornwall Today.

In it, I talk about the beauty and the magic of Cornwall itself, and the power of healing environments in our journeys towards good health. But you don’t have to live in Cornwall to harness this power. You can find, or create, your own healing place wherever you live. A healing place is quite simply somewhere you can relax and de-stress, clear your mind and nurture your soul, which will in turn support, and help rebalance and regenerate, your physical body.  It could be a hilltop, an area of woodland, a spot by the river; an art gallery or a meditation centre; a room with a window box filled with flowers, or one transformed by flickering candlelight and the aroma of your favourite essential oil. It’s a place where you are at one with yourself, and your surroundings, and feel soothed and uplifted.