Time for a Calming Brew

It has been quite a while since I have posted on this blog. So much has happened and changed for me, personally in my own life, and of course in the recent political landscape here in the UK. It is a time where tempers are continuing to rage and stress and anxiety are touching many people (and that was all before the referendum results!!).

Standing Barefoot

Standing Barefoot

I find that the best medicine for times such as these is of course time spent outside surrounded by nature, by our plant, animal and mineral relations. Just taking the time to walk barefoot on early morning dew laden grass, or to lie back in the park, eyes closed with the sun warming ones face, during lunch break will do wonders for reducing anxiety levels and grounding oneself.

Rose in my garden

Rose in my garden

There are herbal teas that can help too. Rose (Rosa spp.) is great for opening the heart and letting love back in. Lemonbalm (Melissa officinalis) (which grows strong and wildly in my back garden) helps with nervous tension, insomnia and unsettling dreams. It can also help lift one’s spirits and improve one’s sense of wellbeing, combined with rose it works as a wonderfully potent uplifting heart opener. Both teas can be drunk up to three times a day to really benefit from these beneficial qualities. I certainly recommend them both right now. In fact I am off outside right now to smell the roses and collect a few leaves of lemonbalm for a fresh lunchtime brew. Join me and spread the word! 🙂

Collecting Fresh Lemonbalm (Melissa officinalis)

Collecting Fresh Lemonbalm (Melissa officinalis)

 

Herbal Medicine from an Evolutionary Perspective

As you may already know I am running an apprenticeship programme which begins in May. It is called Sacred Ecology: A Rewilding Apprenticeship. To help me deliver the most amazing material on this journey I have gathered a wonderful and inspiring group of experts to join me. Over the coming weeks and months I am intending to introduce you to each of them with a guest post. The first of which appears below and was written by Kamaldeep Sidhu who will be sharing about the magical, amazing and influential world of bacteria, or more specifically gut health, during the course of the apprenticeship. She is a great friend with an immense depth of knowledge, and this is what inspires her…

kam 2

Kamaldeep Sidhu, Medical Herbalist

 

I’m a Medical Herbalist currently working at the Urban Fringe Dispensary in Bristol, and am developing my practice in Stroud. I met a Herbalist in Bristol 7 years ago while I was doing a Permaculture course. At the time, I was also applying to do Medicine. This Herbalist, called Max Drake, convinced me to do his herb course over the summer. I did it, and found it fascinating. I completely changed my mind about doing medicine. I wanted to help people but I didn’t want to be a slave to the pharmaceutical industry. Learning about the power of plants completely changed the way I thought about health and disease. So I did a BSc in Herbal Medicine at the University of East London.

 

After a six year slog, I finally graduated and realised I knew nothing! I had a foundation upon which to build my knowledge of human and plant physiology, and since then, I have become passionate about the role of nutrition in health, and how we can use plants to enhance our performance and recovery.

100_1492I am interested in the role of the gut microbiome and how we can manipulate it through the foods we eat. This is a relatively new area of research, but its impact will be huge. We are understanding more and more about the importance of having a healthy gut – it affects our physical and mental wellbeing. I have been treating patients in the clinic with many different health conditions, and a lot of them seem to respond favourably to a change in diet. I use herbal medicine to enhance health or to complement a treatment strategy. Ultimately, the most powerful tool we have to look after our bodies is our diet. Yet, it’s the hardest thing to change. Our diet here in the West, which is based on the laughable food pyramid, is directly contributing to the diseases that are reaching epidemic proportions – hypertension, diabetes, obesity, infertility, cardiovascular disease to name but a few.

What’s going on? We have been given prescriptive nutritional guidelines that do not reflect the individual. We have been taught that when you get sick, you go and see your doctor and they will give you some medicine to make you feel better. We are disempowered when it comes to our health. Every day there are more and more conflicting ideas about what we should eat, what we shouldn’t eat, what gives you cancer and how much alcohol you should drink.

The fact is that nobody really knows. We are all acting on the information we receive. Think about major nutritional advisory boards being funded by sugar manufacturing companies. Think about the truth about statins and their relative inefficacy. Think about the diet-heart hypothesis and how saturated fat might not be so bad for you. Think about pharmaceutical companies pushing through drug trials without any evidence for long term effects.

The world of medicine in the West is a marketplace and disease is the currency. By keeping us sick, pharmaceutical companies make money.

100_1212So why not take control of your health? My priority is to work hard to research clinical evidence and continuously learn so that I can give my patients the best information to help them make informed decisions about their health. I practice Herbal Medicine from an evolutionary perspective. We function best when we eat foods that we are adapted to eat. Plants have evolved beautifully alongside us and provide powerful healing properties but also highly potent toxins. By understanding adaptation and genetic variation, we can prevent disease by nourishing our bodies with the appropriate food and medicine that is right for us as individuals. That is my vision

I am so looking forward to what Kamaldeep will bring to the apprenticeship, my tummy is rumbling at the thought!

If you would like to book a consultation with Kamaldeep she is available in both Stroud and Bristol. To see her in Stroud please contact her directly kamaldeepsidhu@outlook.com. If you are more Bristol based you can make an appointment to see her at the Urban Fringe Dispensary 01179 276527.

Intuitive Herbalism

Intuitive Herbalism BookA few months ago a good friend and colleague of mine, Nathaniel Hughes, had his first book published. I was really delighted that he gave me a copy as a gift as it is an absolute work of art, it is not just Nathaniels’s words but the beautiful illustrations by Fiona Owen that make it so. It is a little book, kind of pocket sized which I really like, no great heavy tome to lug about and trudge through, just simple and light, it will definately have a place in my growing library for all time.
Why do I like it so much? Well from the question this book starts with on page one I knew it was going toFly Agaric by Fiona Owen be an interesting read, as although, like Nathaniel, I have a passion for plants and many years experience working with plant consciousness, we come from quite different directions. So from the opening page it excited me with the possibilities a different mind, and hence a different line of enquiry, would open up.
The book is very much a journey of discovery with plants, the emphasis on medicinal context, and a journey of self healing. Whether you are looking for medicine (on whatever level) or just a deepening of your integration into the natural world you could use this book as a guide. Nathaniel’s words provide an outline for how you could construct your own line of enquiry, your own research with the heart into the plant realms.
The Journey by Fiona OwenThe book is very smoothly written, every word deeply considered. The beautiful illustrations compliment the content perfectly. Each paragraph seems to contain a gem that makes me pause and mull it over, absorb the meaning. The feel of this book whispers of the magic that awaits in the hedgerows.
I recommend you take a peek…

Make Rooting Hormone From Willow

I have two beautiful lavenders by my front door which I have decided to take some cuttings from. To give them the best start in life I decided to make a rooting hormone for cuttings from willow.

It is so simple, and an incredibly sustainable, organic, permaculture, environment friendly way to encourage cuttings to root. All willow varieties (Salix spp.) contain indolebutyric acid (IBA) a naturally occurring chemical which is a plant growth regulator. What this means is that when a fresh cutting comes into contact with it roots will be encouraged to grow.

As I said the process to make the extract is very simple:

collecting willow twigs

collecting willow twigs

1. Collect some fresh willow twigs, and cut into lengths of 5-10cm.

 

 

 

 

willow twigs soaking overnight

willow twigs soaking overnight

2. Place in a pan and cover with boiling water. Use 1/2 a measuring cup of twigs per litre of water.

3. Leave the twigs to infuse over night and then strain the mixture.

 

 

 

willow rooting hormone

willow rooting hormone

4. Bottle the liquid up being sure to label clearly with contents and date made.

5. Store in the fridge for up to two months.

 

 

 

 

lavender cuttings soaking in willow extract

lavender cuttings soaking in willow extract

To use: soak your cuttings overnight in a glass of the mixture, and then watch with pleasure as your cuttings take, and grow fabulous roots! It is the IBA which is the active ingredient absorbed by the cut stem or leaf; cleverly it not only encourages root growth but also inhibits fungal bacterial and viral disease. A very useful mixture to have at the ready in the fridge door.

For more great sustainable, permaculture, organic, ideas for how to make the most of plants growing in your neighbourhood grab a copy of 20 Amazing Plants & Their Practical Uses.

20 Amazing Plants & Their Practical Uses

20 Amazing Plants front CoverMy second book was published in June 2011, throughout its writing the title had been Plants the Ultimate Renewable Resource, however, as is often the way with publishers when it came to the moment of publication they chose to change the title, it became: 20 Amazing Plants & Their Practical Uses. Changing the title meant a rewrite of some paragraphs within the introductory chapters and the conclusion, but fundamentally the message and main body of content remained the same, plants are the ultimate renewable resource!

Oil reserves will not last forever, we need renewable resources; plants can be managed to provide us with exactly that. By growing the 20 plants discussed in my book you would be able to build, furnish & decorate your home, and feed, clothe and medicate yourself! There have been plenty of books written about the uses of plants but many of them centre on the plants you can grow in the tropics, especially in Australia the birth place of the permaculture movement. So I felt it would be useful to pick some especially useful plants that can grow easily and well in the temperate zone.

Still it is important to recognise plants as beyond just a resource to be exploited by humankind, pehaps more as a living relation. The following is an extract from chapter three, working with plants and their inherent resources:

It is not only during the growing of the plants but during the processing, the making of something with the plant material, be it a chair or a loaf of bread, that I encourage you to be conscious and present.  When you have your harvest in your hand get to know the materials, touch them, feel them, smell them.  Close your eyes and explore with your hands, feel the material, experience it’s texture, it’s strength, it’s character.  In this way you will get to know and understand the material, you will be inspired as to new possibilities of how you can work with it and what you can create.  When working in this way with the material it takes on a life and an energy and becomes a living being that you can work with touching, feeling, sensing at all times.  As you give yourself to this process and the material yields under your direction something invisible is exchanged between you, somehow you become very much a part of that chair, that bread, and it too becomes very much a part of you.  Whatever it is you are making will absorb some of your (the makers) energy.  As a result your relationship with the raw material, the living plant, deepens irrevocably, your soul is enriched and the separation, cast by the current cultural paradigm, between yourself and the rest of the natural world narrows slightly.  It can be your little secret, your special relationship as you pass the chair you made and lovingly brush your hands across it, or say a prayer of gratitude as you eat your freshly baked bread.  The next time you are in the presence of the materials origin, the plant itself, a smile touches the corners of your lips as you silently yet wholeheartedly greet that old friend, admire its beauty and fuss around it lovingly as the bond grows ever stronger.  Whatever you produce will be more sympathetic to the nature of the material, and ultimately more beautiful as a result.

20 Amazing Plants e-book coverIf you enjoyed that extract you may be interested to know that 20 Amazing Plants & Their Practical Uses is now available as an ebook.

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