It's been an unforgettable year so far and here we are in the middle of summer.. I hope you & your loved ones are well! As we begin to return to a more normal world this is a good time to look at how we approach dis-ease and wellness from a refreshed perspective, I firmly believe that we have the ability to manage our health in a more natural and sustainable way, using holistic methods which are mostly easy to do and these practices give us a better physical and emotional connection with our own healthcare. I'm not an epidemiologist and don't know all of the answers from a natural, scientific or spiritual perspective but as a herbalist I repeatedly see how a natural approach to disease prevention, treatment & recovery can make a very significant difference.
I wanted to share some principles of practice that I apply in clinic and give an overview of things you can do at home. I've gone into detail about herbal medicine and it's application because many people who have some confusion about herbal medicine, often people think Herbalists are Homeopaths, but this is a different discipline altogether and many people don't realise herbal medicine it's the oldest and most natural form of medicine available and still used extensively today across every continent. I've concentrated on tips relevant to Coronavirus protection but these can also be applied for protection against the range of illness's that commonly circulate throughout the year. Importantly, we should remember that we're built to heal from within, if we nourish our physical, mental and energetic bodies, most of us have the ability to maintain good health. The layers of our immune system and our ability to adapt are integral to how we stay healthy & we can easily enhance these processes with diet and plant medicines. We have an abundance of plants readily available to give us medicine, food & oxygen and though they don't always completely prevent or cure an illness, when used correctly, they assist our physiology to work to a fuller potential and do this without causing own side effects.
Even the smallest good habits you introduce make a difference and they don't need to be complicated, most of these recommendations just require a little bit of organisation and maybe adding a few things to your stock or medicine cupboard.
Microbiome health - can affect our overall health, some of the negative influencer's on our microbiome include sugar, sweeteners, yeast, antibiotics, stress and lack of exercise. The good guys include pre & probiotics, fresh fruit & vegetables, allium foods such as garlic & onions, fermented food and drinks and herbal bitters.
Supplements - The question of supplements for me, concerns diet, environment and body function. If your diet's lacking something specific or there are issues such as digestive disorders which may impair absorption of vitamins and minerals then supplements might be appropriate. Age is another consideration, as we get older we absorb and assimilate nutrients less optimally and a lack of sunlight in winter months may leave us low on Vitamin D.
Respiratory health - our defense against many pathogens begins in the upper respiratory system so keeping the tissues of our nasal passages, mouth and throat healthy can directly enable these parts of our barrier defenses to prevent microbes from penetrating the body. Salt or herbal gargles, nasal flushing, throat sprays, good oral hygiene and promoting tissue health from within can be beneficial.
Exercise & fresh air - to be healthy we need to keep moving. Exercise is good for keeping your lungs and heart, as well as your body in shape. All aerobic exercises from walking to cycling or running get oxygen & toxins moving quickly while practices like yoga or pilates work intensely on core strength and are combined with breathing and focus, which is good for you mental health.
The beauty of our herbal allies is that they can be easily used to help prevent infections or as direct treatment during illness. All plants have a range of active constituents, most have more than one specific use and when used in their whole state the plant's chemical profile gives a balanced effect on our bodies so we experience less unwanted additional actions which we refer to as side effects. Plants work with the body to moderate health and maintain optimum function, they're often so effective but gentle it's hard to distinguish why we simply feel more normal, this is truly harmonious healing!
Herbs can be immune stimulating or modulating, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-oxidant, diaphoretic, adaptogenic, detoxifying, anti-congestive and much more. This means we can apply herbs for specific purposes as well as for general health and in doing so we're using the best of both a holistic approach and a targeted purpose. An example is Elderflower & Elderberry which are anti-inflammatory and immune mediating, they're also diaphoretic, which means they enhance sweating but keeps it at a controlled and sustainable rate. This helps to ensure a fever is more healing than harming and at the same time Elder helps the immune system to function better.
Top 10 herbs for immune defense
1. Echinacea - is an immune modulator, it actually help's to regulate the body's innate immune responses creating faster responses where are needed and slowing overactive responses which may be detrimental. It has particular influence over certain cells of the immune system and is anti-viral, anti-inflammatory and topically healing. Traditionally used for respiratory infections and is safe to take for prolonged periods.
2. Elderberry - good antiviral properties and has been shown to improve immune system activity. It stimulates certain immune cells which combined with an anti-inflammatory action, improves the defenses of our innate immunity. Elderberry extracts are traditionally used for colds and flu and have an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant & diaphoretic action.
3. Astragalus - is an adaptogenic herb (helps the body overcome & adapt during stress), it's used especially for respiratory infections and can increase respiratory function with asthma. Immune enhancing, immune modulating, anti-viral, anti-oxidant. It has a positive effect on the heart, endothelial function and the liver. In Chinese medicine it's called Huang Qi & is used in menopausal preparations and as a blood tonic.
4. Andrographis - a bitter tonic which stimulates and modulates the immune system, an effective anti-viral which also protects the liver and is hypoglycaemic. Adrographis is used for respiratory infections and the bitter element helps strengthen a weak digestive system.
5. Liquorice - has a wide ranging profile and is truly multi-purpose herb! It's soothing both internally and externally and is used extensively in mixtures for respiratory infections, especially conditions that produce mucus. Shown to have anti-viral, anti-inflammatory and anti-allergenic actions, another immune modulator, liver herb and supports the adrenal function. It has a mild hypertensive effect so large amounts should not be used in high doses for prolonged periods by people with high blood pressure.
6. African Geranium - the root can help decrease excess mucus in the lungs and it's valuable for acute respiratory and sinus infections as it actually helps the body expel excess mucus. Has immune cell enhancing properties is anti-viral.
7. Ginger - has been shown to have immune & antiviral activity, ginger heat is useful for increasing body temperature and the anti-platelet and anti-inflammatory actions can help keep blood vessels healthy. Ginger aids digestive function and is good for nausea, rheumatic conditions and migraine.
8. Marigold - is a great external remedy which promotes skin healing and often used internally for gastric disorders. In addition it has a mild oestrogenic effect making it very useful for gynaecological conditions. It's anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and is a mild immune stimulant.
9. Eucalyptus - often forgotten about as a herb, eucalyptus has an affinity for the lungs and upper respiratory system. Its good for all respiratory complaints including infection, asthma, catarrh & bronchitis and is anti-tussive which helps stop a cough. Its anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic. Do not use for young children, in pregnancy and for very frail people.
10. Turmeric - this plant has wide ranging benefits and has become known a bit as a wonder herb in recent years, with good reason. Turmeric is excellent for pain and inflammation, for both chronic and acute conditions and regular use can give outstanding relief. It has a powerful anti-oxidant activity and influences cell life cycles in a positive way to be helpful in cancer prevention. Also being an immune modulator, anti-microbial, cardio & liver protector and digestive herb, turmeric is useful to include either via the diet or supplement.
Tinctures are stronger liquid extracts of individual herbs and herbalists normally make a combination of several tinctures when making an individual prescription or remedy. Because tinctures are much stronger than teas they're taken in much smaller amounts, usually between 1-5ml at regular intervals (5ml = one teaspoon). Tinctures are fairly safe to take but as with anything you're ingesting, you should know what you're taking, make sure you're taking the correct dose and if you have pre-existing medical conditions, are on medication or are not sure of dosage then seek advice from a professional.
The level of support needed when it comes to taking herbs will be individual, it's a matter of choice as to whether you take a remedy every day for immune modulation and virus protection or if you take a remedy when you begin to feel ill, show symptoms or have had exposure to a pathogen. The sooner herbal treatment begins after exposure to a pathogen has occurred the better, from this point of view I encourage having these herbs at hand for when you need them.
For herbal medicine to be effective it's best to take herbal teas, decoctions, tinctures or capsules for several days (to weeks or even months for chronic medical conditions) as you will need more than one dose for it to be efficient. Natural remedies work in a gentle and accumulative way, to put into context, immune stimulation or modulation would not occur from a single dose or a sub therapeutic dose (not enough) just the same a single antiviral or antibiotic tablet would not work.
If you buy herbal remedies from a herbalist apothecary or a health shop you'll be given guidance on the best dose. Just be aware that over the counter remedies available from chemists, supermarkets & online often prescribe very small drop doses for safety reasons, sometimes these doses are sub therapeutic and not properly effective. If you buy an over the counter remedy you should do a bit of research or check with someone who knows to make sure you're taking the right dose. Herbal Medicine books are useful and as your local herbalist I'm always happy to give guidance if you're unsure. Growing and foraging your own is a lovely thing to do and really connects you with your food and medicine and you can store your bounty by drying or even making your own tinctures, oils, oxymels and vinegars.
Looking at natural options and holistic health has never been more important. As we emerge from global lock down we'll be much better off if we harmonise more with nature and use a lighter touch toward our health and our environment, with mindful thinking we can all learn to take better care of ourselves using less toxic and more sustainable self practices. To share these ideas and knowledge with each other sits with the true nature of herbalism and brings us back to more natural and grounded thinking.
Take care, be well and remember to practice Ahimsa - respect for yourself, others and the beautiful planet we share!
Very happy to share the arrival of these pressed plant juices at the Apothecary. They're a bit special which is why I've decided to bring more in alongside my tinctures, dried & encapsulated herbs.
I normally advise them as a tonic type treatment, 5-10 days taking the juice to achieve a specific result.
The scope of plant goodness here ranges from immune boosting, antiviral, antidepressant, antiallergenic, cholesterol lowering, detoxifying, urinary cleansing, gut & bowel helpers & skin soothers.
I'm just a little bit in love with the boxes too!
Echinacea species is one of the most important 'immune' herbs we know. Having been widely used, studied & researched it's a key player in any Apothecary and for home use.
Confusion sometimes arises from the slight variation in the three main species and there are of course many misconceptions regarding efficacy & safety. However the main products (from reliable sources) available in the UK are taken from the root & rhizome of angustifolia or purpurea species, both of which are safe & reliable immune supporting agents. The term supporting is used to indicate the enhancing influences of a plant medicine, rather than an unlimited & controlling action.
In the case of echinacea we're looking at its influence on the innate immune system, where it can prime certain immune cells to have a faster response when needed, whilst also having a modulating effect on overstimulated cells. In other words, it can help the immune system work more effectively when needed rather that switching it on to full pelt and additionally being able to tone down excess. This enhancement gives us increased anti viral, anti bacterial and anti inflammatory actions when a pathogen is not killed off by our barrier immunity.
Clinically it's used extensively for prevention & treatment of upper respiratory infections. The wider ranging action of using whole plant medicine rather than using or replicating isolated compounds has also been shown to be useful in autoimmune disorders, protozoal infections, allergies, septicaemia, and skin conditions. I would also consider using it during convalescence if the person was depleted.
For a preventative use the dose is lower and can usually be found on over the counter dosage instructions, apothecary instructions and will vary according to dried or liquid products. During active infections the dose given is higher and this can be sustained for short term acute conditions, especially under supervision of an experienced herbalist.
As with any herbal product you should seek advice about specific doses if you're unsure & always consult a herbalist if you have complex health issues. That said, echinacea is an extremely safe herb which can be used by children and adults.
Please enquire directly if you would like further advice or for echinacea single or combination products stocked at The Foxglove Apothecary.
It's been really hectic here since the Corona virus has tightened it's grip. Whilst I cancelled all treatments this week I also wanted to ensure everyone had their herbal medications and any extra support they might need.
Herbalist's life.. after a full day of clients I get to make these beauties before venturing home.
Ginger & Milk Thistle capsules ready for clients, website shop and Saturdays market stall at The Fishermans Chapel.
This combination is brilliant for digestive upsets, nausea, hangovers and to strengthen our digestive defenses.
Milk Thistle is also sometimes called St Mary's thistle & its effects on the liver are second to none. It's bitter in terms of herbal medicine which means it stimulates liver function. In addition, it protects from cell damage against toxins and has even been shown to protect against lethal toxins of the death cap mushroom, though experimentation is not advised! Milk Thistle is also demulcent which means she soothes, it's antioxidant & can help lower fat deposits.
The part of ginger we use is called a rhizome, a root like structure that grows underground and gives us a warm, pungent, calming, pain killing, blood nurturing and gastric protective medicine. The benefits of ginger are numerous and its compounds also protect the liver so it combines and enhances Milk Thistle in true synergy.
These are part of my hand made capsule range and will be added to the website shop along with the current stock of Ginkgo Biloba, Slippery Elm, Turmeric & Black Pepper and Milk Thistle. More of my Anti Mosquito capsules will be available soon!
In conjuncion with my Instagram page I'm runnung a competition in which I'm giving away two of my most popular teas.. whats not to love?!
Just go to @foxglove_apothecary_uk to join in!
The Foxglove Apothecary online shop is open!
All of my current tea blends are now available to order online via the store page and I'll be adding more as the range of Foxglove tea grows. As my regular tea lovers know, the teas are sold by weight because herbal ingredients vary dramatically in weight and size and I want to give you the best tasting herbal drinks in manageable size packets. Berries and barks tend to be heavy while leaves & floral's are lighter and can be very small like elder flowers or medium size like marigold or rose. Each blend is created for a specific purpose and is carefully chosen to taste good as well as for the herbs individual medicinal values.
Refills are available on all products and if you want to bring your own jar rather than using a packet you'll get 10% discount!!
There are also other herbal products available in the online shop including high quality herbal capsules, tinctures and creams and herbal gift bags. In the apothecary I have much more stock available so if there's something specific you can't see or you'd like a bespoke tea blended please get in touch.
It means so much to have the love & support of the growing herbal community as well as the local centers who choose to support my business. Many of us are trying to keep it local, keep it real and keep ourselves healthy so where we choose to spend our hard earned money is the best power we have!
Herbal hugs.. Jane
It's been quiet on the news front for a while as I've been working on a project that's filled every spare minute in between seeing all the lovely people who come through my door, my new cabin clinic! Its been purpose built to house the Foxglove Apothecary and is warm, cosy, clean and a perfect space from which to work and offer therapies!
After many years looking for the right premises I decided to build my own. I'm lucky enough to have a garden that can house a therapy cabin nestled under some beautiful trees, so the cabin idea became a reality after months of research & planning. As project manager I've learnt a lot this year about garden constructions, log cabins, wood, heating, cooling, air purification and how to furnish my little retreat and create a magical healing space. There's been so much to decide but its finally finished!
I love the Scandinavian wood and the overhung roof which gives it that chalet cabin feeling and can't wait to see it covered in snow! Thankfully I have lots of insulation and heat as well as cool for the summer and very soon I'll be opening the doors for clients old and new to come along for therapies, workshops and of course lots of tea drinking!
We're blessed today with beautiful weather on the the longest day, this is when we the sun reaches it's highest elevation and we have the longest daylight hours. The longest day is often confused with midsummer, which is normally the 24th June and is known as Litha in the wiccan calendar.
Both days are spent honoring the power of the sun, giving thanks for crops, handfasting, feasting and celebrating life. There are many rituals and rites which you can use to celebrate the solar year and the abundant life around you, the herbs traditionally used for ritual include St John's wort, Chammomile, Meadowsweet, Verbena, Mugwort, Mint, Elder & Hemp.
To keep with the tea theme this month you could try a wild craft (pick from nature) some of these herbs and use to make a herbal infusion or dry some for later use.
Welcome to Herbal Medicine Awareness Week 2019, the theme we're embracing this year is 'Random acts of wildness' so please feel free to join in a find something from nature that makes you feel wild and connected to nature and take some time to just enjoy it while you ponder the many aspects and benefits of herbal medicine!
I started the week with a tea blending workshop at The Yoga Factory in Southend on Saturday, thanks to all who came and I hope you're all enjoying your teas. A few people asked for the recipe for the herbal cookies so please find this below. You can source the dried herbs for your cookies from a good Asian supermarket, health shop or contact me to buy any single herb by weight from 25g upwards.
There are two further Tea Blending Workshops planned - Friday 28th June at a private yoga centre and Saturday 20th July here at the Foxglove Apothecary. The one here at the apothercary is open to all and will be held in the garden (weather permitting) from 11.30-1.30pm. Numbers are limited so book early and I'll be sending more dates out soon for further workshops.
The workshop gives an overview of Western Herbal Medicine including how herbs are harnessed & used as medicine and how you can begin to use herbs at home. Following this you'll design and blend a tea for a specific purpose of your choice. I'll discuss individually any medical concerns or drug interactions. You'll be provided with a herbal snack and tea plus your own bespoke 25g blend to take home.
If you'd like to book this please contact me directly on 07904 234066, the investment is £25.
Ingredients: 200g flour of your choice * 60g oats * 1 tsp salt * 1 tsp baking powder * 10-20g dried herbs cut finely (I used marshmallow leaf) * 60g sugar of your choice * 80g coconut oil * 5-8 tblsp non-dairy milk
Extra decoration if desired eg, rose petals coated in rose or other syrup, bee pollen, poppy seeds
Method: preheat oven to 200C, add oats to food processor & process until course, add herbs, flour, baking powder, salt & combine. Add coconut oil & process until well combined. Add milk one tablespoon at a time until a smooth dough forms, it should feel slightly tacky. Dust your work surface with flour and roll to 3-4mm thick. Cut with cookie cutters and place on baling parchment on a baking sheet. If you want to add a decoration do so now & press gently into each cookie. Bake for 12-15 minutes until turning golden brown & slightly soft still in the middle. Place on a cooling rack and cool completely before you enjoy them with a cup of herbal tea!
5 FOR THE PRICE OF 4 BLOCK BOOKINGS
This offer can be used when booking massage or reflexology during April, if you book and pay for 4 treatments you will receive the 5th treatment for free.
There is no time limit on taking the sessions, if you would like to take advantage of the new block booking offer please contact me directly on 07904 234066.
I found this beautiful wild hibiscus while walking in Alleppey, India last week and had to share this because I adore this plant infusion hot or cold. As well as being used as a tea its also a great addition to a summer punch or cocktail and I make a hibiscus syrup with the gorgeous red flowers which can be used in food and drinks to give a slightly floral delicate note. We use the calyx of the hibiscus sabdariffa variety for ingestion, this is the outermost whorl of the flowers which is dried and becomes an intensely deep red, almost black colour and releases a bright red pigment which colours and flavours when added to hot water.
Hibiscus has a full flavour which has a fruity zing & stimulates your taste buds, its a delicious infusion which is a daily staple in many parts of the world including India, Egypt, Africa and the Caribbean as well as here at The Foxglove Apothecary. I include it in some of my pre blended infusions and I drink it on its own while I'm mixing tinctures or blending teas or after heavy meal as I always feel it helps me to digest particularly rich foods.
It's used medicinally as an anti oxidant, is a source of vitamin C, ascorbic acid and can help stimulate the immune system as well as being used for high blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar. As such it's well regarded as a plant medicine for the heart and cardiovascular system. Its regarded by some cultures as uplifting to the mood so is also recommended to help with depression and anxiety, what more could we want from this beautiful bright tropical looking flower!
In order to honor this plant I'm giving away a free taster packet of hibiscus tea with every new appointment booked this week. I'm back at Covent Garden this Friday 29th March and every fortnight after and am now booking appointments in London & Westcliff.
Please contact me directly to make an appointment and receive your hibiscus sample.
If you'd like to be added to the secure mailing group and receive updates, news and offers once a month, please send your email address via the contact form on the appointment page and specify if you are London or Essex based.
So here we are near the end of January, we've had a beautiful lunar eclipse,
lots of sunshine & even a sprinkling of snow, proving that mother nature's never far away from our busy lives and always ready to remind us of her beauty and strength. This natural power reflects our own bodies, if we choose invest in good practices, the benefits will be enhanced by natural regeneration & repair and every small or large effort counts!
During these winter months if you need a bit of extra help to keep healthy
and fight the coughs and colds going around, I'm offering a combination of treatments at a discounted rate to give you the best of both worlds.
This offer is valid until the end of February but please book early
to avoid disappointment!
WINTER SPECIAL OFFER AT THE FOXGLOVE APOTHECARY
1 hour massage - with a 100ml tincture or 25g tea - for £35.00
1 hour reflexology - with a 100ml tincture or 25g tea - for £30.00
1 hour first herbal medicine consultation with 200ml tincture - for £45.00
1/2 hour herbal medicine follow up with 200ml tincture - for £35.00
To book this offer please email or phone on 07904 234066
I've decided to restock this years Herbal Teatox in March. For those people
doing dry January or veganuary, well done and keep going.. you're nearly there!
Teatox will be ready for those who want a spring clean and something motivational a little later in the year. It can be used as a full detox program
or to supplement your usual routine and provide a cleansing and hydrating
Teatox is a complete herbal detox pack containing 3 large separate bags of tea, enough for 2 whole weeks. You drink 2 cups of each tea (morning, afternoon and evening blends) in place of your usual fluids and should see & feel the benefit of the detoxifying herbs and your own effort within the two weeks.
Please note that I haven't increased my prices for over 2 years and I hope to
keep them at the same rate for as long as possible. I have introduced a cancellation policy and you will be charged half of your treatment price if
you cancel within 24 hours of your booking.
I'm really pleased to say that the clinic is getting busier and busier and which is fantastic news, so thank you for all your support and recommendations to your friends and family, this really means so much.
I want to share what I know about natural medicine with you. I also love stories and articles about food and nature so in this blog I will be looking at all these subjects and how they come together in our daily lives.