One of the most important plant medicines comes from this impressive thistle which can grow into large plants with purple flowers which produce the seeds, and leaves which have milky white veins. I once saw a commercial crop being grown to produce medicine and although they're not quite as endearing as a field of sunflowers there's something quite beautiful about this spiky little wonder. The botanical name is Silybum marianum (L), common names also include Blessed thistle, Scotch thistle and Saint Mary's thistle.
As an herbal medicine, milk thistle is an exemplary liver herb, facilitating liver detoxification and renewal of liver cells. It's an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, cholagogue and a bitter tonic. It's bitter taste stimulates the flow of gastric juices including bile which in turn helps with digestion and the elimination of waste from the body. In addition to being a specific liver targeting herb, it is helpful in almost any illness or disorder as a supportive herb enabling breakdown of internal and external toxins thus allowing the body to heal and repair in a holistic manner. It may be helpful in reducing cholesterol and protecting against diabetes, fatty liver disorders and helping improve kidney function.
Milk Thistle is widely available from your local herbalist and good health shops. If you can forage Milk Thistle, using very thick gloves to protect you from the very spiky leaves, harvest the seeds by putting the cut flower heads in a paper bag and allow them to dry before you gather the seeds to use as a ground powder or to make tea. You can use the seeds in salads, add to your nutty snack mix, your overnight oats or morning smoothie. Or of course milk thistle can be added to your tailor made tea or tincture from the Foxglove Apothecary.
Dioscorides, Pliny and Culpepper all harnessed the properties of this medicine and today it's as important and powerful in the Herbal Medicine Chest as it ever was. It's definitely one of my favourites!
Hay fever season is upon us once again and those who are sensitive to tree pollen will already be aware of the abundance of pollen floating in the air caused by all that glorious blossom which comes shortly after the new seasons greening leaves. Then of course come the spring flowers and summer blooms which slowly produce more pollen in order to reproduce the next generation. While the changing of the seasons are welcome after winter and we can warm ourselves and enjoy longer days, for some people the annoying symptoms begin and can range from annoying to completely debilitating.
I'm concentrating on the help the plants that grow in the countryside can give us! There are many plants which we pass by every day in our streets, gardens and rural areas which can be used to alleviate many of the symptoms caused by hay fever. We have natural anti-allergenic's, anti-inflammatory's, mucous membrane strengtheners, immune boosting and respiratory cleansers at our disposal, all of which when used in plant medicine from do not produce side effects. I'm talking about nettles, elder flowers & berries, plantain, yarrow, mint and thyme to name but a few.
You can harvest many of these for yourself if you know where to find them or you try my hay fever tea or have a tincture made specifically for you and your symptoms. I do advise drinking the tea every day during your hay fever season and of course short term courses of tincture are always advised to be taken regularly as well.
The new stock of my hay fever tea is now available at £4 per pack.
If you would like an individual consultation for a tailor made prescription of plants that can help, please contact me.
Elder is one of my absolute favorites, first the green growing small bud heads which are edible and absolutely lovely in a salad, then these beautiful bunches of frothing white flowers followed by juicy immune boosting berries. Whats not to love!!
I was inspired to write this after a very good friend contacted me from Scotland to ask how she should use fresh gathered Dandelion for tea. I began thinking about the wide and varied uses of the humble dandelion if you want to gather it from your own doorstep.
Taraxacum officinale, to give its botanical name, is not only a staple medicine of the northern hemisphere but as any good forager knows, its a wonderful inclusion in a salad too. In addition to its medicinal uses, dandelion for me evokes memories of blowing clocks and an old fashioned fizzy drink. I love the connection to these memories alongside the idea that this beautiful plant is not a weed but a useful plant that we can reconnect with if we choose.
The young leaves are deliciously tangy and can be used raw or treated like spinach. The petals can be used too and if you're feeling really ambitious you could make wine from the flowers! The root is a traditional liver medicine and as we're talking culinary uses this is the part of the plant used to make dandelion coffee. If you want to make tea, brew fresh or dried leaves as a gentle diuretic and stomach herb.
My advice is to harvest the upper parts of young plant and wash carefully, gently remove the bright petals to scatter on top of your feast and carefully tear the leaves into your salad or spanakopitakia and enjoy the early leaves you've foraged.
So the clinic refurbishment is complete, the space is looking bright and beautiful
and I'd love to see you here one day soon.
If you'd like to come along for a welcome therapy and receive and £10 discount simply contact me
and quote 'welcome discount'. You might be thinking about trying herbal medicine, treating
yourself to some reflexology or maybe ear candles and take away a specially blended tea.
If you have any queries get in touch and I hope to see you soon,
Refurbishment of the Foxglove Apothecary is under way and I'll soon be inviting you to come and see me in the updated clinic space. Its been a bit cramped around here so I want to thank my loyal customers who've visited during the past months. The plans are ongoing as work on building the brand new Apothecary will begin in the summer but in the meantime my clinic space is having a transformation which will see us through until the garden clinic's ready.
I hope you'll come along and visit me soon.
Peace and love,
Things have been quiet here for a while we were concentrating on moving house, which of course meant finding a new home for the Foxglove Apothecary. I'm very excited to say that we have a new location which incorporates my temporary clinic while the new clinic is being built.
I'm hoping the new Apothecary will be finished by summer next year and in the meantime I have a cosy space which is open to everyone. Please contact me for appointments, Herbal Medicines and Reflexology.
During this years Herbal Medicine Week I installed myself in the Southend Library Forum Foyer from the 17th-21st June. I spoke to lots of people about what Medical Herbalists do and heard loads of interesting stories from many people.
I'd like to say thank you to everyone who took the time to come and speak to me, especially those of you who came especially to make contact. And thanks as well to The National Institute of Medical Herbalists who leant me their wonderful new banners, they looked amazing.
I hope that many of the people who did come and speak to me or took information away when I wasn't able to be there found it useful and interesting. Please feel free to contact me if you have any further queries or questions.
As an alternative to chocolate and sugar.. treat your loved one to a healthy alternative! I'm offering the Foxglove Teatox pack at a special price of £25 for the 2 week teatox pack.
Its vegan, dairy free and a healthy alternative if you want to give something to someone who won't want easter eggs..
I have some new teas in stock, including this years Hayfever blend. Tried and tested for those people who suffer when the pollen gets high, I recommend that you begin drinking your anti hay fever tea before your season starts and make sure you drink it regularly.
If you would like to try this tea let me know. It costs £5 per 50g.
I can send teas directly to you.
There is also new stock of the Morning Tea. Many of the people who did a Two Week Teatox found this beneficial and have continued to drink this as their wake up tea.
Its contains herbs to keep your bowels healthy, anti-oxidants and siberian ginseng to help set you up for the day. This tea weighs more as it contains dandelion & burdock roots so you need to infuse it properly. It is £10 per 100g packet.
If you would like any of my teas or want one a tailored blend please contact me, all my details are on the contact page. I can send teas to you or you can come to The Foxglove Apothecary to get yours and stop for a free taster cup of another blend if you have time!
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.