Thursday, 30 April 2009

Ecclesall Woods

I looked out at the inviting sunshine last Thursday afternoon and decided to take time out from work to enjoy a walk in Ecclesall Woods. These are part of the remaining ancient woodlands that can be found throughout Sheffield, that used to be worked for timber and charcoal; if you look closely as you walk, you can see the clues to this industrial history.

At this time of year, the bluebells were just coming into flower; the wood sorrel and wood anemones were in full bloom, with the odd glimpse of ramsons. I wandered along the brook near the Whirlow end of the woods, where there is not a sound of traffic; it was bliss! 

Afterwards  I popped into the sawmill which is home to a community of local artists who create sculptures, furniture and other items from the local wood. I couldn't resist buying two beautiful items, and was entranced by the exhibition.

Herbs in season that I saw on my walk:
- cleavers: lymphatic 'cleanser' and excellent source of vitamin C
- hawthorn: cardiovascular and digestive tonic
- dandelions: at this time of year, use the leaves as a good source of potassium and vitamin C.
- wood sorrel: the leaves are edible.
- nettles: use the leaves in soups, stews and tea. Excellent source of vitamins and minerals!
- coltsfoot: the leaves are used as a lung tonic and to stimulate easy clearance of phlegm.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

I will be giving two talks at the Clinic:

A herbal approach to managing stress, anxiety and depression.
How these conditions affect us, and how to choose the right herbs for you.
Thursday 7th May 6.30 - 8pm

Herbs and the menstrual cycle.
The menstrual cycle helps women to find out more about their health and well being. This talk explains how the cycle works, why problems can occur and how herbs, food and lifestyle can help to rebalance the cycle.
Thursday 2nd July 6.30 - 8pm

Both talks cost £4 each, and include tasting herbal tinctures.
Advance booking is essential: please contact the Clinic.

Monday, 13 April 2009

New product names and labels!

I have just been putting my lovely new labels onto my teas and tinctures; I thought the herbs deserved better presentation and it has indeed made a huge difference. I have also changed the names of the some of the tinctures; tension tincture is now serenity, and anti-inflammatory tincture has become muscle and joint. I have also added a delicious new tea; it is called stomach ease as many of its ingredients (peppermint, fennel, catmint and chamomile) are traditionally used to ease tension and improve digestion, but it is a generally relaxing tea that can be enjoyed at any time. It also contains lavender. 
My next plan is to keep to the Hedgerow Remedies philosophy, and ensure that I am using native and well established herbs in all my remedies. Most of my remedies do this already, but I feel there is still more room for improvement....

Spring tonics

I have just come back from a lovely holiday in the Dorset countryside, where the hedgerows were heaving with green tonics: cleavers, dandelions, nettles and the first hawthorn leaves. 
Cleavers make a delicious green drink, full of vitamin C; pick a huge bunch, wash and then leave to steep overnight in water. In the morning, drain and drink a glassful regularly. It has a delicate, pleasant taste and will keep in the fridge for three days. Cleavers are traditionally used as a cleansing herb, to stimulate the urinary and lymphatic systems and help alleviate swollen glands. 
The young nettle leaves can be cooked like spinach, or dried and make into a tea. They are rich in minerals and vitamins including iron and vitamin C. 
Hawthorn leaves used to go by the country name of 'bread and cheese', and have been shown to benefit the cardiovascular system when taken regularly as do hawthorn berries. They can be eaten, or dried and taken as a tea.
Dandelion leaves are rich in potassium, and are a diuretic. They used to be taken for dropsy: the swollen ankles that accompany heart failure. They can be added to a salad or taken as a tea.