Natural Mosquito Repellents and Bite Relief

With spring being the start of the flying insect season I dread the appearance of mosquitos. Unfortunately they can’t seem to get enough of sucking my blood.

Mosquito bites are nasty little things and unfortunately I seem to react badly to them. I suspect this is due to my weak immune system caused by long term digestion problems. Reading many articles tells me that mosquito bites can effect the immune system for up to seven days.

The bites leave me with annoying itching that is impossible to ignore. They swell, look very red and angry, make my legs ache, and irritate my digestion problems further.

Therefore I’ve been avidly looking for herbal solutions and this post shares some ideas that I have found.

Simple Rosemary Insect Repellent

I like to use something that is as natural and inexpensive as possible for my insect repellent.

Therefore I was happy to find a quick and easy suggestion thanks to the Mother Nature Network;

https://www.mnn.com/

All I needed to buy was;

  • A small plastic spray bottle (75p from Sainsburys)
  • A jar of dried rosemary (£1 from Sainsburys)

Making Rosemary Insect Repellent

  1. I pour 300ml of cold water and 1/4 cup of dried rosemary into a saucepan.
  2. Bringing the mixture to a boil I simmer it for 25 minutes. The smell while it brews is amazing! Its hard to understand why the bugs don’t like it.
  3. Then I put 300ml of fresh water into a jar. I use old Bisto Best gravy jars for some of my concoctions because this saves me a lot of money.
  4. Using a small tea strainer I strain the juice from the boiled rosemary mixture into the jar.
  5. Throwing away the rosemary I then give the water and rosemary solution a stir.
  6. Once cooled I pour some of the mixture into the plastic spray bottle using a conical funnel.
  7. The jar and spray bottle are put into the fridge until required.

Spraying my body all over every morning and evening I attempt to keep these biting insects away. Additionally I also spray before going outside.

I suspect that some of the mosquitos may have come from the stagnant water in our water butt. Mosquitos are said to breed in stagnant water. As a result we drained away the old water and now ensure that the water butt is refreshed regularly.

I’m going to be careful inside too because I have read that they can breed in stagnant water around the home as well.

My Review of the Repellent

I’ve been using the rosemary insect repellent for a while now and I’m finding that it does work to some extent.

Before I started using it I was being bitten a few times every day but now I only get the occasional bite. Also when I’m bitten now the bites do not seem as aggressive. Instead of the very pronounced red swelling and inflammation I had before I’m only swelling slightly now. The big bonus is that these smaller bites don’t itch as much either.

It feels as if the mosquitos are having a nibble and deciding that they don’t like the taste or smell of the rosemary so they give up. This means that they do not leave as much of their saliva in my body and therefore my reaction is not as great.

I have also found that the repellent is becoming darker in colour and stronger smelling while its left in the fridge. This could be another reason why I am getting bit less. In future I will leave the mixture in the fridge for a few days before I apply so that it increases in strength and smell.

Overall I am happy that its use has improved things but I’m always on the lookout for other solutions too.

Tips for using the spray
  1. Apply frequently
  2. Keep in the fridge when not in use
  3. Every 2 or 3 days throw away what is left in the spray bottle and replace with repellent from the original jar. This helps retain the repelling scent.
  4.  I wash the spray bottle spout before each use because the stickiness of the repellent jams it up and makes it harder to spray.
  5.  Allow the repellent dry on the skin before dressing to avoid marks on clothes.

Basil Plants

I bought a couple of basil plants because they are said to repel flies and mosquitos.

Again this is an inexpensive option when you buy the fresh basil in pots from the supermarket.

One of the plants sits in my kitchen so I can’t resist using this one in my cooking too. The other has pride of place in my living room window to keep the bugs away while we relax .

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Dealing with Insect Bite Scars

Lavender Oil

It takes a long time for my bites to heal and I can still see where last years mosquitoes got me! As a result I’ve been looking for suggestions to help deal with my existing bites and the ugly marks that they leave behind.

I came across an article about adding lavender oil to a bath because it may help to reduce the scars of insect bites. Already having a bottle of pure essential lavender oil I jumped at the chance to give this a try.

I buy my pure essential oils from Fresh Skin and I am very happy with them and their good prices;

Lavender Pure Essential Oil

Running the bath I add six drops of lavender essential oil. While soaking the bite areas tingle and I feel that the oil must be doing some good. The bonus is that the lavender smell is so relaxing.

A few soaks later and I can already see the difference because my bites are healing a lot quicker than usual.

Cautions
  • Do not use the lavender oil if you have psoriasis because of its ability to generate cell growth.
  • During pregnancy avoid use of this oil.
  • Avoid if you have low blood pressure because it may make you feel dull and drowsy.
Lavender Plants

I also bought a couple of lavender plants which are sitting next to the patio. This is the best place for them because my husband and I often sit there to enjoy the warmer weather.

Hopefully they will deter the little biters.

Aloe Vera Plant

 

As an added incentive for the bites to heal I turn to my trusty aloe vera plants. If you have not yet read my post about aloe vera plants take a look to see why I love them so much;

http://theforagingherbalist.com/growing-aloe-vera-plants-air-purifying/

Aloe vera gel is said to heal lots of different skin problems. In my opinion you can’t beat the gel directly from your own plant.

Tear off part of a leaf and the gel naturally seeps out. I  rub this gel directly onto the bite area and leave it to dry.

The gel feels very cooling and eases the itching and swelling.

My poor aloe vera plants lose a lot of their leaves quickly because I get so many bites. However they soon grow back and start to produce more plants at this time of the year. The plant in the above picture already has four new “babies” growing from its base.

Chickweed

Crushed chickweed is a quick and easy useful suggestion for a bite if its available.

Take a look at my “Common Chickweed” post to find out more.

http://theforagingherbalist.com/common-chickweed-bites-stings-chickweed-tea/

Peppermint Oil

I’m starting to place a couple of drops of pure peppermint essential oil onto my footwear when I go outside. The good news is that I haven’t been bitten around my ankles since.

I find its best to apply the oil this way so that the pure oil does not come into direct contact with my skin. Peppermint essential oils are too concentrated and powerful to be used neat on the skin.

Peppermint Pure Essential Oil

Precaution

Never ingest essential oils.

 

Be aware that you never know if you’re intolerant to something new until you try it for the first time. Therefore only try a tiny amount first and wait a day or two to check there is no adverse reaction. 

If you have any pre-existing medical conditions or are taking any medications, always check with your doctor to ensure that using any of these suggestions don’t contradict them.

 

If you have enjoyed this post please feel free to share, comment or subscribe for future posts.

Good luck with avoiding those biting insects!

 

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Alternative Tips for Mental Health, Wellbeing and Balance – Part Three

Here is my third and final blog for alternative tips for mental health, wellbeing and balance which I have found useful. I’ve heard it said  that experience can be one of the best teachers in life.

When I thought about doing these three blogs I did not realise that April is Stress Awareness Month. I guess this must have been my intuition kicking in again.

If you missed the first two blogs on this mini series please click below;

http://theforagingherbalist.com/alternative-tips-for-mental-health-wellbeing-and-balance-part-one/

http://theforagingherbalist.com/alternative-tips-for-mental-health-wellbeing-and-balance-part-two/

Part three tips;

Learn to Forgive Yourself and Others

This is one of the hardest things I found to do.

I’m sure that we have all done things in the past that we regret but the important thing is to accept them and move on. Now I see my mistakes as something to learn from. I feel that by experiencing so many hard and challenging situations helps me to empathise with and help others.

Forgiving those that have hurt me in the past is an extremely difficult task, but I am now able to do this. I look at others with compassion and try to understand why they did the things they did.

Do not label Yourself or Others

It feels awful to be labelled. I have always hated the “too shy” and “too sensitive” labels that I have been given in the past. Fortunately after all the research I have done I realise that being sensitive may be a challenge but it has many benefits too.

I give thanks to Elaine N Aron and her book “The Highly Sensitive Person -How to Survive when the World Overwhelms You” which was a real life changer for me.

Despite this I still find myself saying things like “I can’t do this” or “nothing will ever change”. I’m getting better at catching myself doing this but its still an easy trap to fall into.

I find that labelling myself this way just brings me down. Negative feelings  spiral out of control and I start to think about all the other bad things that have happened in the past. This does not help and just ends up making me feel worse.

As a result of knowing how this feels I try to catch myself before labelling others. I don’t always manage to do so but I am getting better at achieving this. Saying things like “what an idiot” when someone cuts out in front of me while driving for example still happens. Now though I do think to myself what could be going on in that persons life to for them to have done that? Maybe they have something awful happening in their life which gave them a brief lapse of concentration.

Learn to Love Yourself

This is one that I find difficult but I am getting there.

I am registered with Hay House and receive regular helpful emails from them. Some of these include “mirror work” where I have to look into the mirror and say things like “I really love you” to my reflection. It may sound silly, and I felt silly trying it, but it does make me smile and feel better.

https://www.hayhouse.co.uk/newsletters/signup

I find that yoga helps too with this one because often the practices ask you to give yourself a huge hug.

Socialising

I try to spend as little time as possible with anyone who triggers a negative reaction each time that I see them. Obviously this can be very difficult if you have to work alongside them.

Trying to spend leisure time with like-minded individuals is the best course of action for me. To help with this I’ve started joining facebook groups with people who share the same interests because I can’t get out much. I’m getting a lot of pleasure from this. Other suggestions of places to go to find like-minded souls include;

  • Adult education courses
  • Art classes
  • Spiritual retreats

If like me you struggle going out and socialising, make things easier for yourself. Ways I do this include;

  • Planning well in advance enables me to function better.
  • Explaining to others, especially friends and family, how much socialising I can deal with.
  • Telling others how new, noisy and crowded situations overstimulate me helps to pave the way.

Blocking

I have a vivid imagination and therefore this suggestion works quite well for me.

This is a way I use to “block out” others negative energy that may bring me down. I visualise a pink bubble before I go out into a crowded noisy place, and in my minds eye it has a large pink fist which I imagine punches away any unwanted energy.

Or another visualization I sometimes use is to imagine a whole in the middle of my stomach with a tornado passing through it. If anyone says anything hurtful I imagine the tornado sucking the words straight through me and out the other side. This way I feel they cannot  stay around and hurt me.

Thanks to my Hay House meditations I also picked up another useful tip to use when I go to bed. I use this tip if I have had a particularly overwhelming day and I’ve experienced hurtful things that have been said to me. Before I fall asleep I ask that the bad interactions be taken away and thrown away like an old newspaper. I ask this so that I can start the next day afresh with a clean slate.

Try some of Hay House’s free meditations for yourself;

https://www.podbean.com/podcast-detail/8xcg4-3399c/Hay-House-Meditations-Podcast

Being Held by Someone You Love

I’m lucky to have my husband for this one.

Sometimes all you need is to be held. When my husband holds me it does calm me but only if I am feeling receptive!

I have also read that it helps to smell the shirt of your loved one to calm you. Therefore I make sure I have a good sniff while I’m being held.

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Don’t Be Afraid to Walk Away

When my dark side takes over I can say the cruelest things to those I love. This is not good for me or my loved ones. Particularly my husband who gets the brunt because I hardly ever see anyone else nowadays.

I try to remind myself to walk away rather than stand there continuing to say things that make the situation worse. More and more often I walk out of the room usually into the sanctuary I have created in our spare bedroom.

Just walking away from the situation is sometimes all I need to do to calm down.

Alone time is very important for me and therefore walking away helps with this. I’m highly sensitive and need alone time to stop me from becoming overwhelmed. Highly sensitive people naturally have a greater need for solitude than others.

If you would like to see if you are a highly sensitive person too have a look at my HSP post which shows my sensitive traits;

http://theforagingherbalist.com/are-you-a-highly-sensitive-person-too-hsp/

Embrace your Dark Side

We all have a dark side and I feel that its best to accept this fact and learn to deal with it. I have also heard it called our shadow side.

Two of my favourite quotes from Spirit and Destiny magazine on my “Positivity Board” are related to this. They are;

Stars can’t shine without darkness” and “I embrace the light and shade of my life.”

I love these affirmations!

I freely admit that I have a bad temper. I’m pleased to say that I am coping with this better due to the many of the tips I’m sharing in my mental health, wellbeing and balance blogs. The more time that passes since I have been off the anti-depressants helps with this too.

However I also believe that this dark side / anger of mine helps pick me up. It gives me the strength I need to deal with bad situations and to carry on. I am a very strong willed and determined individual. Some would describe me as stubborn but considering I’m a Taurean that’s not surprising.

Jordan Peterson, a Canadian clinical psychologist and a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto says;

“You can’t respect yourself until you grow teeth” and  “strength is the best guarantee of peace”.

Make an Effort

I notice that making an effort to dress smartly and put on my make up does improve my state of mind.

Even being in the house most of the time putting on something nice makes me look better and therefore feel better. I’m sure my husband must appreciate the effort too.

Although everyone loves a “dressing gown” day every now and then, I don’t feel that this should happen too frequently.

Stop and Take a Break

When I start something I find it very hard to stop and take a break. For example if I decide to paint a room I can’t stop until its completely finished. I also often forget to eat or drink in the process.

As a result I wear myself out and this is not good for my wellbeing.

I’m being more mindful now and reminding myself that I need to stop for that drink or bite to eat.

Its very important to take regular breaks whether its from work, decorating, creating, or in fact almost any kind of situation.

Be Assertive

I’ve always found it hard to say no. I’m constantly trying to please other people to fit in, but in the end I do too much and tire myself out. Often as a result I end up ill because my weak immune system struggles even more when I’m worn out.

I feel that trying to do too much can be stressful both on my mind and body.

I try to remember to say things like “I will think about it” when someone asks me to do something. This allows me the time to decide if I really want to do it and if I can cope with doing it.

I’m sure you must of heard of the saying that “its not possible to please all of the people all of the time”. Besides I can’t be there for others unless I look after myself first.

Concentrate on One Project at a Time

With my restless mind and constant flow of creative ideas I have so many projects that I want to have a go at.

I try to concentrate on one idea, or maybe two, at a time and complete these before embarking on another. Otherwise I find myself getting stressed by the pressure that I put onto myself.

 

Conclusion

This is the end of my third and final post with regards to alternative tips for mental health, wellbeing and balance.

I have also learnt about herbs and essential oils that may help to support the mind with regards to this area. I will share these in future posts.

Please do not hesitate to comment on any experiences you have had, good or bad, from trying any of these tips yourself.

Finally if you have enjoyed this post please share or subscribe to receive my future blogs.

 

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Alternative Tips for Mental Health, Wellbeing and Balance – Part Two

Here is my second list of tips to help with mental health, wellbeing and balance. I find them helpful and hope that you find some of them useful too.

If you missed my last post on this subject click here to see it;

http://theforagingherbalist.com/alternative-tips-for-mental-health-wellbeing-and-balance-part-one/

Singing and Music

 

A quick and easy way to lighten my mood is to sing along to a favourite song. I’m best doing this when I’m on my own because I’m tone death!

Music itself can change how I feel. If I’m feeling low I find a mix of “happy” songs on the internet and listen to them to make me smile. If its a good mix I end up swaying to the music and singing along. My favourite go to song for cheering me up is Pharrel William’s “Happy” song;

https://www.bing.com/search?q=happy+song&form=EDGNB2&mkt=en-gb&httpsmsn=1&plvar=0&refig=dfb3640b62104d95a511113726adcc3b&sp=-1&pq=happy+song&sc=8-10&qs=n&sk=&cvid=dfb3640b62104d95a511113726adcc3b

Nowadays I often listen to meditation music too because this works for me when I crave a calming atmosphere. My favourite types of meditation music include sounds of nature. Examples of my preferred nature sounds are trickling rivers, waterfalls, ocean waves, singing birds, trees rustling in the wind and wildlife.

Beautiful sounds can be very calming and relaxing. I  also have a Tibetan singing bowl and a crystal weather chime. I love the sounds that both of these make. If your unsure what a Tibetan singing bowl is take a look at this link;

Tibetan singing bowls

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Dancing

I used to combine my love of dancing with exercise by doing Zumba at home. Zumba involves dance and aerobic movements performed to energetic music. The choreography incorporates hip-hop, samba, salsa, merengue and mambo. Salsa is my favourite and moving this way while wiggling my hips  makes me smile.

Unfortunately when my condition meant that I started to lose a lot of weight the Zumba became a bit too energetic for me. Therefore I now concentrate on yoga and I can feel myself getting stronger as time goes on.

There are many health benefits to dancing which include;

  • Better balance
  • Improved mood
  • Heart health
  • Weight control if trying to lose weight

The balance benefit was of particular interest to me because after my epileptic fits began when I was 36 my balance went out of sync. I even struggled to ride a bicycle and would wobble loads when I tried.

After my first three months of doing Zumba, which is a few years ago now, my balance improved dramatically and I dropped a dress size. Here are some Zumba options if you are interested in having a go at home;

Zumba

I still find some of the yoga balances a challenge but my balance has definitely improved and continues to do so.

Laughing

I read in Spirit and Destiny magazine that laughing helps to raise your mood even if its fake laughing.

https://www.spiritanddestiny.co.uk/

Just making fake laughing sounds like “ha ha ha” and “he he he” makes you feel silly and then you genuinely start to laugh at yourself. If I do it when I’m with someone else they often end up smiling and then laughing too.

Try releasing those feel good endorphins now.

Crying

Its unfortunate in the world we live in that crying is often seen as weakness by many. Personally I think that it actually shows a sensitive soul and I’m impressed if a man feels able to cry in front of others.

I have read that crying reduces negative feelings and relieves tension. I know that I certainly feel better after a good cry.

Being Creative

I find being creative a great comfort to me.

As the months and years pass since I came off anti-depressants that should not have been given to me, I find myself becoming more me again. I am so pleased that this means that my creative side has returned.

I have read that drawing is a kind of meditation. As you can tell from my posts I love to draw. I also do a little bit of pyrography (burning my designs onto wood), jewellery making and of course writing.

It definitely calms me when I am being creative.

Connect with Your Inner Child

I absolutely love this one and I’ve had so much fun with it!

When foraging I often decide to start skipping down pathways. I do this to make me smile and laugh but I also do it to make anyone I’m with smile and laugh too. A bit like the pretend laughter.

My husband and I love going to National Trust properties that often have activities to do which take you back to your childhood. Things we have done include;

  •  Playing games like pick up ducks, find the rat in a drainpipe, wooden skittles, pretending to row a boat and many more.
  •  Having a go at wooden walk over obstacle courses.
  •  Doing crafts like colouring in a paper crown, making napkin shapes and tying different types of knots. The hardest craft I’ve tried was drawing my husband’s portrait with a pencil on the end of a very long stick.
  •  Playing games for all ages such as snooker, table tennis and croquet.

One of the best things we ever did was become National Trust members and we save so much money this way.  Take a look at the below to see if its something that would bring you joy too;

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/

Sunshine

 

When the sun shines it lifts my mood considerably and I want to be out in it. Even if this means just sitting in the garden.

Its important to have exposure to the sun for at least 15-20 minutes per day to receive the vitamin D that we need to keep healthy. I have read that this can be done by exposing the sun to just the arms and face.

Obviously try to avoid the times of the day where the sun is at it’s strongest during the summer months. I achieve this by getting my sun exposure early morning or late afternoon.

Drink Herbal Tea

I never used to drink tea but in the last couple of years I have found herbal teas and I love them.

As part of my night time ritual I love to drink a cup of chamomile tea half an hour to an hour before I go to bed. I find it important to breathe in the beautiful smell of chamomile too. This process is very relaxing and allows me to drop off to sleep.

I drink many of the herbal teas because they may help to support my body. One of these is peppermint tea and if you would like to see why I love it check out the following post;

http://theforagingherbalist.com/drinking-peppermint-tea-under-the-full-worm-moon-spirituality-peppermint-essential-oil-spring-equinox/

Avoid Overstimulating Foods and Drink

I have cut out caffeine and energy drinks which seem to temporarily assist me by giving me a lift and a bit of energy.

Unfortunately I always end up crashing afterwards. For instance I often drank energy drinks to help me through a work day but I would crash and fall asleep straight after dinner in the evenings.

I very rarely drink alcohol either and when I do just one tiny glass of red wine is enough for me.

Nutrition

I eat as much nutritious food as possible and this includes lots of fresh fruit and vegetables. I’m sure you have heard of the saying “you are what you eat.”

To help with my nutrition I also avoid processed foods and foods with more than three to five ingredients wherever possible. I’ve also read that its best to avoid foods which contain ingredients that you cannot pronounce.

Due to a lot of intolerances I cook all of my food from scratch and home cooked food really does taste better. I would also prefer to use organic ingredients where possible but my budget doesn’t cover this. I feel its such a shame that healthy eating  is impeded by it being so expensive.

When I eat I have to remind myself to do this mindfully. I have read that you should chew each bite thirty times but I can’t see me doing this without my food going cold. However to help with digestion I do put my fork or spoon down between each mouthfull because this makes me eat more slowly.

Essential Oil Diffusers and Incense Sticks

My favourite incense is sandalwood and this was the first incense smell that I was drawn too. I find the smell extremely relaxing and calming and often burn it around the house. Its also one of my choices for meditating.

Scents can rapidly adjust not only the atmosphere of a room but also the atmosphere in a mind and spiritual body.

At night time I prefer to burn lavender essential oil in my pink rock salt diffuser lamp which sits on my bedside table. The lavender feels the perfect scent to help me drift off to sleep. I either burn it while I read in bed or while I do a night time meditation. The beautiful glow that the lamp gives off is also very calming, relaxing and infusive to sleep.

To find out more about aromatherapy take a look at my post;

http://theforagingherbalist.com/aromatherapy-spirituality-oil-diffuser-chakras-lavender-essential-oil/

Reading a good book is now looked at as a form of meditation. When I read at night I ensure that its a good fiction book which takes me away from the real world for a while. Reading news stories would have the opposite effect on me.

Massage

A massage is said to soothe anxiety and depression.

I’m not a fan of this one myself because of my mastectomy its difficult for me to get comfortable for a massage. I won’t say no to a feet massage though!

However I know that giving my husband a massage relaxes him and helps to ease his aching muscles.

Create a Personal Mantra

A mantra is said to help induce a different state on consciousness and help to focus the mind.

My mantra used to be “I am who I am, and who I am is OK.” This mantra worked really well for me when I lost my breast to cancer. If you or anyone you know is going through breast cancer maybe my story will help via the following posts;

http://theforagingherbalist.com/tips-to-deal-with-a-mastectomy-and-breast-cancer/

http://theforagingherbalist.com/breast-cancer-and-radiotherapy/

http://theforagingherbalist.com/breast-cancer-reconstruction-pros-and-cons-mastectomy-my-story/

However as I become more spiritual my mantra has changed to “I am a powerful and intuitive being.”

Find a mantra that works for you and lifts your spirits when spoken out loud  to yourself.

 

This is the end of my second list of tips and the third one will follow next week. If you have enjoyed this post please do not hesitate to share and follow or subscribe to receive the next one.

Love and blessings to you all.

 

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Alternative Tips for Mental Health, Wellbeing and Balance – Part One

I’m posting the following suggestions in the hope that my personal experiences will help and support others.

I was given mind altering drugs for many years for  a condition which I never had. As a result they unbalanced me and hid the real me for a very long time.

Fortunately with the help of the following tips I am gradually getting myself back. I am even remembering things which were lost to me for a very long time.

Its a very long and hard road but I’m slowly getting there and my husband can see the improvements in my mental state too.

I have separated my tips into several posts because I have so much that I want to share. Have a go at some of the suggestions that call to you and see what a difference they can make with time.

Meditation

I begin every morning with a meditation. I prefer to use headphones because it filters out the majority of outside distractions.

Its been a couple of years since I started mediating  and with time it became much easier to get in the zone. Meditation is a very powerful tool for me now. Meditation helps me in so many ways;

  •  Calms me
  •  Makes me think more positively
  •  Helps me to see a future and gives me insights into what this future may be.
  •  Makes me feel  ready to start my day.

I began with meditations from Hay House and I like the voices of a lot of the individuals that appear on these. Its great that they have so many different types of meditations to choose from and different lengths to suit what time you have available.

I listen to mine via free Podcasts and have registered my email with Hay House. I registered because I like the free video series that they do which also help with my wellbeing;

https://www.hayhouse.com/podcasts

Sometimes I also meditate before I go to sleep. Or when I wake up in the middle of the night and need help to get back to sleep. My favourite night time meditations are made by Tracks To Relax;

https://www.trackstorelax.com/

Yoga

I practice yoga every morning after my meditation. My favourite instructor that I practice with is Adriene via “Yoga with Adriene” on You Tube or her website;

https://yogawithadriene.com/

I can’t thank Adriene enough for making my daily yoga practice a pleasure. I tried a lot of other sites but I was struggling as a beginner to do many of the postures.

Thankfully I find that Adriene always offers slightly different postures in her videos in case you are struggling. Its great to be able to choose a posture that I can work with because she recognises that everyone is different.

I also love the way she expresses herself which often makes me smile or laugh. I would definitely recommend her to any yoga newbies.

It’s amazing how good a stretch can feel, or just moving from the same position that you have been in for a long time.

Breathe

Remembering to breathe is so important. I find it very calming to just stop and concentrate on the act of breathing. My preference to mindful breathing is;

  1.  Breathe in deeply through the nose to a count of four
  2.  Hold my breath to a count of three
  3.  Slowly breathe out through my mouth to a count of five

I bought myself a picture which has pride of place on my living room wall. It is of a stone buddha sitting with a cascading waterfall behind him. Just looking at this picture reminds me to breathe.

Here is a link to what my beautiful picture looks like;

Buddha Nature Waterfall Landscape

Keep Positive with a Positivity Board

I find it helpful to say positive affirmations to myself. I also keep a positivity board which I read when I need to insert more positivity into my thinking.

A lot of the sayings on the board have been cut out of my Spirit and Destiny Magazines which I love;

https://www.spiritanddestiny.co.uk/

As time progresses I find that I can remove some of the older sayings from the board. I throw them away and replace them with new ones. This can be done because I am now automatically doing what it says. Or I find that I am no longer worrying about  things I used to.

The main change that I have noticed so far is that I don’t worry about a lot of things that happened in the past that I used to. I’m seeing them more as something that I needed to learn from so that I can progress.

Writing a Book or Journal

I spent over a year writing a book about my life and I did try to publish it. Although I got three interested publishers I decided that it wasn’t complete and declined them.

Now I’m pleased that I did because I have realised that it was more of a personal journey for me. Writing it helped me to realise that who I am is ok and to begin to leave things in the past which no longer serve me.

It really helped me in many ways and is now useful for my blog because I do input extracts from my book / journal from time to time.

Stay Grounded

My favourite way to stay grounded is to walk barefoot outside. I’m excited as the warmer weather creeps closer because I will soon be able to kick off my shoes and walk barefoot in the garden. I find that this connection to the earth warms my soul.

If I lived nearer to a beach I would also walk barefoot in the sand as much as possible. I particularly like to walk at the waters edge and allow the waves to wash over my feet. The sound of the waves are very calming and make me smile.

Having a Long Soak

Another great way for me to ground myself is to take a relaxing soak in the bath. I create a beautiful ambience by lighting two tea candles which stand on my handmade shell holders. To see these take a look at my “foraging on the beach” post;

http://theforagingherbalist.com/foraging-on-the-beach-inner-child-candle-holder-shells/

For my perfect mix while the bath water is running I add six drops of pure lavender essential oil and a handful of Himalayan salt. I take a good book with me to read to enjoy a longer soak.

It is said that bathing relaxes your tired muscles but that it also cleanses your aura.

Immerse Yourself in Nature

 

Being in nature always lifts my mood. Although I love the beach and the sound of the waves my heart lies in the countryside.

I love walking through woods, meadows and along riversides . Being at one with nature makes me appreciate the world that I live in.

I find the natural world extremely healing. In fact Shinrin-yoku is the name given to the Japanese art of “forest bathing.” This is contemplative walks through the woods that reconnect the individual with nature and can lead to decreased stress, natural mood elevation, and even a stronger immune system.

If your worried about going out alone try taking someone with you that you trust, such as a partner or a close friend.

Getting Plenty of Rest and Sleep

Getting enough sleep is very important to my wellbeing. To help me achieve this I drink a cup of calming chamomile tea half an hour before I go to bed. I make sure that I hold the cup in both of my hands and breathe in the calming chamomile smell deeply while I drink.

Then when I go to bed I read for a while or listen to an evening meditation because this helps me drift off to sleep.

I have also read that even if you can’t fall asleep its still helpful to have time resting with your eyes closed.

Here are a few other tips for a good nights sleep that I use or have tried;

Silent alarm clock

I like to use a silent alarm clock because then its ticking does not keep me awake.

Sleep mask

A soft and comfortable sleep mask helps to keep out the light. I prefer a cotton mask because it allows my skin to breathe. This is particularly useful if you are sensitive to light like I am.

With my small head I am struggling to find one that blocks out all of the light. The masks still allow light in around my nose area because I cannot find a suitable fit.

 Sleeping plugs

Sleeping plugs are an option if you have a sensitivity to noise but personally I find these uncomfortable to wear

Switch off electronics

I try to avoid electronics in the bedroom and even my bedside alarm is battery operated.

The only time I have an electronic device in the bedroom is during meditation using my  iPad or laptop. Afterwards I always ensure that I switch them off. I have read that it helps sleep if all electronics are switched off an hour before you go to bed, because this tells your body that it is time to sleep. 

Notebook and pencil

My mind can be very overactive at night because I’m thinking of new ideas and jobs that I need to do. As a result worrying that I will forget my ideas by the morning keeps me awake.

To avoid this problem I have started to keep a notebook and pencil on my bedside table. Now when I get those ideas while I’m drifting off to sleep I write them down. This allows me to stop worrying so that I can drop off to sleep.

Limit Use of Electronics

I find that when I use electronics for a long period of time without a break it can leave me feeling irritable and in a bad mood. Therefore I limit my use of electronic devices as much as possible.

Mobile phone

I use my mobile phone as little as possible now. Using my battery bedside alarm I don’t even  have to take it to bed with me. Every night I switch my mobile off and leave it downstairs.

Laptop

Minimising the use of my laptop is a challenge because with my disability I find it hard to get out much. Therefore it has become a bit of a lifeline especially now that I’m blogging too.

I’m making a concerted effort to take more breaks from the laptop, even if its only to go outside into the garden. This will be easier now spring is here but in colder months I make myself a cup of herbal tea and take it outside to drink.

Video games

Ever since I can remember I have disliked playing video games and often felt irritated from the experience when I did. Now I realise that this is natural for a highly sensitive person because constant staring at and using screens is overstimulating.

Television

As with computers and mobile screens too much television may also be overstimulating. I have reduced my television time to just a few short hours in the evening.

Keep to a Routine

I find that I keep more balanced if I stick to a routine.

My morning routine that I try to stick to includes;

  • Waking up at 6am
  • Listening to a meditation before I get up
  • Doing a yoga practice
  • Make a healthy almond shake for breakfast

Then at night time I try to go to bed and be asleep by 10pm for a good eight hours sleep.

An article I recently read in Spirit and Destiny magazine talked about research published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research. It said that the report revealed that the best time to rise is 6am! I guess I chose the right time then.

It also said that the best way to maximise these early mornings is by doing things such as meditation and yoga. Again I can check this box as I’m already doing it. I feel like I’m being intuitively drawn into doing the right things nowadays.

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I’ve come to the end of my first tips so that I can give you a few days to incorporate anything you would like to try into your routine.

If you like this post please subscribe to my others so that you don’t miss the next suggestions.

Don’t hesitate to comment on anything that works for you.

Until next time may you keep well, balanced and happy.

 

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Common Chickweed

Chickweed is known by many other names which include, chick wittles, chickeny weed,  cluken wort, craches, marins, stitchwort, starweed and winterweed. As a lot of the names suggest chickens love to eat it.

During March I have searched for chickweed while foraging but without success. Some of the plants looked like they could have been chickweed but I wasn’t a hundred percent sure.

To my delight I have just found chickweed growing in my very own garden. Conveniently I found it growing in my herb patch!

I easily identified the low-growing chickweed in my garden because of its tell tale flowers. Seeing its tiny five white petals, which are so deeply partially divided that they looked like ten, told me all I needed to know.

I pick the aerial parts (flower, leaf and stem) because they can be eaten and drunk as a tea. They also  have suggested uses to support the body.

I held off on my first grass cut of the year because I wanted to see what herbal beauties are growing in my grass. When I look at my garden now I see it through totally new eyes. I’m absolutely loving learning to identify and use the beautiful herbs on our doorstep.

Uses for Chickweed

Chickweed is a good source of vitamin C and contains high amounts of silicone.

Silicone is necessary for;

  • the formation of collagen for bones and connective tissue
  • healthy nails, skin and hair
  • calcium absorption

Eaten as a vegetable it is said that it may help people lose weight. Therefore I will have to go careful with my consumption because I have the opposite problem where I struggle to keep weight on.

Sprinkling chickweed onto a salad can taste a little bland therefore I mix it together with other salad leaves. Alternatively livening up chickweed can be achieved by making a pesto. Perhaps by adding garlic, pine nuts and parmesan cheese.

Chickweed Tea

Chickweed can also be made into a tea and this can be achieved by using the fresh or dried herb.

I made mine using the fresh herb by;

  • Adding 4 teaspoons of fresh herb to a cup of water in a aluminium free pan.
  • Bringing it to the boil and simmering for 10 minutes.
  • Straining and drinking.

Using dried chickweed I add 2 teaspoons of dried herb,  boiling water, and infuse for 15 minutes.

Tasting the chickweed tea I found it to be bland but it has a beautiful green colour.

Passing the tea onto my husband I made it more palatable by adding fresh lemon juice and honey. I gave him the tea because he is presently trying to lose weight.

Best Known Use for Chickweed

Reading I found that the most common use for chickweed is external and may help the body to heal with regards to;

  • Bites and stings
  • Boils
  • Bruises
  • Burns
  • Inflamed gouty joints
  • Muscular rheumatism
  • Painful eruptions
  • Soothing itches
  • Splinters
  • Sunburn
  • Varicose ulcers

 

Bites

I’m sure that we have all heard about the old saying to rub dock leaves onto nettle stings. However reading about rubbing chickweed onto fresh bites is a new one for me.

For immediate use picking a handful of chickweed and crushing it between the hands is easiest. Then rubbing the crushed chickweed onto the required area of the body seeking relief.

Even though its still early in the year I have been getting bitten for weeks by insects.  My legs and ankles are covered and I also have them on the left side of my body and left arm.

I find it strange that my husband doesn’t have any. Noone seems to know the exact reasons why some bodies are a tastier treat to mosquitos than others. There are a lot of old wives tales out there but no scientific facts to back them up.

Therefore I was very excited to read that chickweed may help with my bites, itching and inflammation.

I found that being bitten at home and having chickweed growing in my garden, the best option for me was to make a paste.

Making a Paste

  1.  I pulled a handful of chickweed from the ground and washed it.
  2.  Using a pestle and mortar I crushed the chickweed.
  3.  I applied the paste.

Reading that you can apply the paste using a bandage I decided against this option because I have far too many bites. Therefore I dabbed a little of the paste onto a lot of different plasters and placed them over my bites instead.

When I put the plasters onto my skin the bites started to tingle and I could feel some kind of magic going on!

The next day removing the plasters I noticed that the inflammation had gone down. The most recent three bites started itching again so I reapplied, but I did get a few hours relief each time.

Cautions

As always try a tiny little bit of the herb first because everyone’s body is different and you never know what you may be intolerant or allergic too. I make sure that I do this regardless as to whether the herb will be used internally or externally.

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Reading that chickweed is available almost all year round is fantastic news. Knowing what its potential uses are I won’t be pulling it up and throwing it away ever again.

Enjoy experimenting with chickweed yourself and feel free to share any successes.

Till next time take care.

 

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Drinking Peppermint Tea under the Full Worm Moon

I have read that the third and final supermoon of 2019 is happening on Thursday 21st March.

A supermoon occurs when a full moon coincides with the moon’s perigee. Otherwise known as the point where its elliptical orbit is closest to the Earth. The Moon appears larger and brighter than usual when this happens.

To see the moon at its brightest in the UK I need to awake when it is closest to the earth. This will occur at 1.43am on 21st March. Weather permitting I will also see the moon between when it rises at 5.30pm on Wednesday 20th March and when it sets at 6.30am on the 21st.

I will take this opportunity to put my crystals and divining necklace outside to re-energise them under the full moon.

Name of the March Full Moon

The supermoon appearing in March is called the Full Worm Moon. Native Americans called it the Worm Moon because March was the month when the ground would thaw and warm. As a result earthworms would start to appear.

Other names for the Full Worm Moon
  • Chaste moon because it signals the purity of the spring season.
  • Crow Moon because cawing crows were said to herald the start of spring and the end of winter.
  • Crust Moon because of snow cover at this time of year when it froze at night.
  •  Death Moon because it is the last full moon of winter.
  •  Lenten Moon because the moon appears during lent which starts on the 6th March and ends on 18th April.
  •  Sap Moon or Sugar Moon because maple trees were tapped at this time.
  •  Storm Moon because March is said to come in like a lion and go out like a lamb.

Spring Equinox

The appearance of the third supermoon coincides with Spring Equinox on March 20th. This is the point when the sun passes directly over the equator.

This is the first time that a full moon and Spring (Vernal) Equinox will coincide within 4 hours of each other in 19 years. The next time that this will occur less that a day apart isn’t until March 2030!

Spring Equinox will take place in the UK at 9.58pm, just four hours before Thursday’s “Worm Moon” supermoon.

I’m looking forward to the spring equinox because it represents a time of rebirth and renewal.

I particularly like the idea that it brings energy for new beginnings and changing paths. We tried to move last year but came across many obstacles which stopped us. Fingers crossed that the Spring Equinox can help us move at long last.

In the Northern Hemisphere the Spring Equinox heralds the beginning of spring but in the Southern Hemisphere it heralds the beginning of autumn.

Cleansing

 

With spring being the best time to cleanse and clean I will be coinciding  my next saging with this time too.

Peppermint Tea

For the third and final supermoon of 2019 I have chosen to drink my third favourite herbal tea. I will be drinking peppermint tea while taking in the beauty of the moon.

I brew my tea by using peppermint teabags bought from the supermarket. However when it gets a little warmer I will go foraging for the real thing.

Placing my tea bag in a mug of boiling water I cover my mug with a small plate while it infuses. I leave mine for about 5 minutes but it can be left for up to 10 minutes for a stronger taste.

I love this tea because it always helps to ease any stomach pains and bloating that I have.

Some of the ways that peppermint tea may support the body are with regards to;

  •  supporting digestion
  •  helping to relieve wind
  •  relieve involuntary muscle spasms
  •  induce sweating
  •  ease nausea and motion sickness
  •  mildly sedating
  •  lowering blood pressure
  •  alleviating problems of the gut
Cautions
  • Never place the essential oil undiluted onto the skin.
  • Never ingest the essential oil.

Take a look at my previous posts regarding the first two supermoons of 2019;

http://theforagingherbalist.com/?s=DRINKING+CHAMOMILE+UNDER+THE+BLOOD+RED+MOON

http://theforagingherbalist.com/drinking-cherry-and-cinnamon-under-the-snow-moon/

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Insect Bites and Peppermint Essential Oil

I can tell that spring is coming because my feet and ankles are getting bit to pieces by insects.

While looking for herbal help with regards to these blood suckers I came across peppermint.

Externally peppermint can be used as an insect repellent. I have read that after making a cup of tea leaving the tea bag to the side helps to repel insects from this area.

As soon as I realised that peppermint repels them I put a couple of drops of peppermint oil into my diffuser to keep the biting pests away. I have found very reasonably priced pure peppermint essential oil from Fresh Skin and I use their products regularly;

https://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/710-53481-19255-0/1?icep_id=114&ipn=icep&toolid=20004&campid=5338456669&mpre=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.ebay.co.uk%2Fitm%2F10ml-Freshskin-100-Pure-Essential-Oils-46-different-types-to-choose-from%2F401627298362%3Fepid%3D1442114663%26hash%3Ditem5d82da3a3a%3Am%3AmalWoVbfDU2NLLtNib0lL7g%26frcectupt%3Dtrue

Peppermint essential oil can be stimulating and clear the head but cannot be used neat on the skin.

Spirituality

I have read that mint is spiritually protective and cleansing. Spiritual suggested uses are;

  •  Place in a diffuser in your meditation area to remove negative vibrations.
  •  Put mint leaves under your pillow to attract prophetic dreams. (I will certainly try this one when I get hold of some fresh mint).
  • Carry leaves in your purse to attract prosperity.

Enjoy the beauty and power of the Worm Full Moon and please comment on any experiences that you would like to share.

Its nearly here!

 

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Gorse – Eating, Drinking and Emotional Balance

I found Gorse has many uses. There are so many different ways to eat and drink gorse but it may also support the emotions.

Foraging for Gorse

I’m seeing beautiful gorse all over the place at the moment. Picking the flowers is best in early springtime  but they flower from late autumn until early summer.

I forage for gorse flowers and buds because they are so versatile. My favourite spot to pick the gorse is by a nearby railway line, but I have also found it growing by paths near a river.

They like sunny areas with sandy soil and can also be found on wasteland, commons and heathland.

I’m very careful when picking these flowers because their leaves are extremely sharp and pointed. I do say “ow” quite a lot while picking them even though I wear my gardening gloves. Slow and careful is the best way I have found to forage for these beauties.

If your new to foraging take a look at my “Foraging Tips for Beginners Post;”

http://theforagingherbalist.com/foraging-tips-for-beginners/

 

Eating Gorse

Gorse Flowers

I read about many different ways to eat gorse on the internet. The easiest option I tried was washing the flower heads and sprinkling them onto a salad.

The flowers made the salad look amazingly attractive and I found them to have a slightly coconutty taste.

I also added my recently prepared ramsons sauce and this made my salad a foragers’s delight. Take a look at my ramsons post if you haven’t already;

http://theforagingherbalist.com/ramsons-also-known-as-wild-garlic/

Gorse buds

I read that the gorse buds could be pickled and eaten like capers. I was attracted to this idea because I love a few pickles on my salads because they give them a zing.

Firstly I washed the gorse buds to ensure that I removed any bugs that may be lurking.

Next I needed to decide what other vegetables I was going to use in my pickle.

The vegetables I chose to go with the gorse buds were;

  • onion
  • yellow pepper
  • cauliflower

I chopped and sliced enough of these to fill two small jars along with the gorse buds.

The spices I chose to include were;

  • 1 teaspoon of turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon of black pepper
  • a centimetre of fresh ginger sliced

I chose turmeric because I recently bought a jar of mixed pickles infused in turmeric and they tasted amazing. When I looked for them again I couldn’t find them therefore this was a good opportunity to make my own.

Turmeric is such an amazing spice.

Some of the suggestions for turmeric include support for inflammation, pain and poor digestion. As a result I regularly put a bit of turmeric in my casseroles because of my damaged digestive system.

Also I use a teaspoonful of turmeric in a cup of hot almond milk when I have an irritating cough that won’t go away. I found that drinking this gives me some relief.

Cautions

If you decide to use turmeric as support which may help your body to heal please be aware of the following;

  • It can occasionally cause skin rashes
  • Avoid sunlight because it may cause over-sensitivity

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Filling the jars
  1. I split the turmeric, black pepper and sliced ginger equally into the bottom of both jars.
  2. Dividing the vegetables into the two jars I packed them in tightly. I left a couple of centimetres of space at the top of the jars.
Making pickling brine

I poured the following into a aluminium free saucepan;

  • 3/4 cup of bottled water
  • 3/4 cup of cider vinegar
  • 1 dessertspoonful of sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon of caster sugar (more sugar can be added for a sweeter taste or it can be omitted completely.

Bringing the mixture to a boil I stirred it with a wooden spoon until the salt and sugar had dissolved.

Then I poured the brine over the vegetables just covering them.

I thank www.thekitchen.com for their “How To Quick Pickle Any Vegetable” which I used as a basis for my pickled gorse bud recipe;

https://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-quick-pickle-any-vegetable-233882

I particularly liked the advice to tap the jars after covering the vegetables in brine. Its amazing how much more of the brine could be added when this tapping removed the air bubbles.

I found it hard to guess the amount of brine that I would need to fill my two jars. Luckily I wasn’t far off and only had a tiny bit left that I couldn’t fit in. With time and experience I’m sure I will gage the correct amount to use.

I screwed the tops on my jars and left them on the side to cool. When they had cooled I gave them a good shake to mix in the spices.

Then I put them in the refrigerator. I read to refrigerate them for a minimum of two days but the longer they are left the better.

They need to be eaten within two months but I cannot see any problem at all with being able  to do that!

Tasting the pickles

Two days later I was itching to try them. Firstly I gave the jar a gentle shake and opened it to be hit with an amazing smell. I love the taste too and if feels great to have made my first pickle. I plan to do this again and try some different combinations.

 

Drinking Gorse

I also read many different ways that gorse can be used for drinking such as making liquors and wine. Some people use the liquor to pour over ice cream.

I decided to make a gorse cordial / syrup. I only picked a handful of gorse flowers and therefore only made a small amount to try.

Here are the ingredients and amounts I used which just need to be multiplied to make more;

  • A handful of gorse flowers
  • 120ml of cold water
  • 50g of caster sugar
  • The juice of half a lemon (orange can also be added or switched for the lemon)

I brought the water to a boil in a aluminium free saucepan and then added the sugar. I stirred the sugar until it had dissolved for 5-10 minutes.

Removing the pan from the heat I added the gorse flowers and lemon juice. Giving the mixture a good stir I  poured it into a Pyrex bowl which I covered with cling film.

When the syrup had cooled I put the bowl into the fridge and left it overnight.

The next morning I strained the liquid into a bottle using a conical funnel and cheesecloth. I love my cheesecloth that I bought. Its lasting ages and was a really good price;

https://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/710-53481-19255-0/1?icep_id=114&ipn=icep&toolid=20004&campid=5338456669&mpre=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.ebay.co.uk%2Fitm%2FRegency-Naturals-Ultra-Fine-Cheesecloth-Cheese-Cloth-9-Square-Foot-100-Natural%2F231981197258%3Fepid%3D22011371971%26hash%3Ditem36032827ca%3Ag%3AfPgAAOSw2~Zb2t4L

I use the syrup like a squash and pour a little into a glass adding bottled water. Its purely down to personal taste how strong you like it. Drinking the cordial is very refreshing.

Bach Flowers

I found it exciting to read that gorse flowers are also a Bach Remedy.

Bach flower remedies are preparations made from flowers and used as complementary medicine. I have read that they may balance the emotions and  allow peace and happiness to return so that a sufferer’s body is free to heal itself.

Gorse Bach flower remedy is said to support those who suffer feelings of hopelessness and despair. “Gorse types” are also said to often have chronic complaints and lose all hope of improving. The essence is said to bring acceptance, faith and hope therefore enabling a “gorse type” to see the bright side of life.

Preparing Essences

I’m thinking about preparing my own gorse flower essence but its best done by the sun method. Therefore  I may have to wait a while. I feel that it will be difficult to prepare at this time of the year because I need a full three hours of non-stop sunshine.

If I can’t wait then I may try the boiling method instead.

Look out for future posts to show how I do this.

 

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Cleavers (also known as Goosegrass)

 

I remember playing outside as a child and returning home to find long green weeds sticking to my clothes. My socks were often covered with them!

Now I know that these green plants are much more than weeds because they are herbs called cleavers or goosegrass.

Its amazing to realise that cleavers can be eaten and have suggested medicinal properties.

Trip to the Lakes

I brought two herbs home from a trip to the Lake District. I found the cleavers and ramsons in a wooded area.

Take a look at this link to see what I did with the ramsons;

http://theforagingherbalist.com/ramsons-also-known-as-wild-garlic/

Seeing the cleavers  just beginning to grow I foraged a few. February and March is the best time to forage cleavers because its best to eat as a vegetable when it is very young. Picking before the seeds appear in the summer is important because as it ages cleavers will become bitter in taste.

Cleavers can be found by roadsides, in hedgerows and gardens. Personally I avoid roadsides because the herbs may become covered with emissions from passing vehicles.

Eating Cleavers

Firstly I washed the cleavers and gave them a good shake to rid them of drops of water.

Next I put them up in a blender and the smell they produced once chopped is amazing. They smelt like fresh cut grass and made me think of beautiful summer days.


I read that cleavers can be added to soup and stews. It can also be sprinkled onto salads as a good spring tonic.

Therefore I added half a teaspoon to a pasta sauce I had just made. I only eat a tiny portion of a new herb at first to ensure that I do not get an allergic reaction.

It was pleasing to see that I didn’t react negatively to the cleavers. As I result I decided to dry the rest and use it as tea.

Spreading the chopped cleavers onto a paper towel and covering them  with a brown paper bag I left them to dry. I cover my drying herbs because I don’t like them to get covered in dust.

After a week my cleavers were dry and ready to brew.

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Making Cleavers Tea

I put one teaspoonful of dried cleavers into a tea infuser and placed it into a cup of boiling water. This is a good way to infuse dried herbs because you don’t need to restrain them into another cup.

Here is a link to see the type of tea infusers available;

Tea Infusers

I left my infuser in for ten minutes but five to fifteen minutes is fine. It depends upon the preferred strength of the tea.

This tea can be drunk up to three times a day.

It was pleasantly surprising to find that even the tea smelt of fresh cut grass. I felt like I was drinking in a lovely sunny day.

Storing

To store the rest of my dried cleavers I put them into in a sealed brown paper bag. Dried herbs can be stored for between one and two years but I always put their expiry date on for a year from the date they are dried.

Labelling the bag of herbs I included the expiry date and suggested uses of the herb.

Uses

I’m pleased I like the taste of the tea because I have read that it may help support the body as a lymphatic cleanser. Due to having breast cancer many years ago this attracted me to this herb. Mainly because my cancer was found in my lymph nodes. 

I also read that cleavers may support the body with regards to cysts. Again this interested me because my doctors informed me that my remaining breast is very cystic. This means that it can feel lumpy which doesn’t help when I test myself for lumps.

If your unfortunate enough to be going through breast cancer yourself here is my story and tips which may help;

http://theforagingherbalist.com/tips-to-deal-with-a-mastectomy-and-breast-cancer/

Its suggested that cleavers may help support the body to heal itself with regards to;

  • Breast Cysts
  • Fluid retention
  • Irritable bladder
  • Kidney stones
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Obesity
  • Skin problems such as eczema and psoriasis
  • Urinary problems
Cautions

Taking the juice makes cleavers strongly diuretic and I have read that the juice has been taken by cancer sufferers. I strongly suggest that if you are unfortunate enough to have cancer that you speak to your doctors before taking any kind of herbal alternatives. Herbs may negatively interact with existing medication.

In fact being on any kind of medication I would always suggest speaking with your doctor before trying alternative treatments.

Next Time

Unfortunately I didn’t grab enough of the cleavers to juice this time around but I will try this next time.

 

Take care and don’t forget that the third supermoon of the year is fast approaching. I’ll be looking at the Full Worm Moon when it appears on the 21st March 2019. Time to re-energise my crystals!

 

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Ramsons (also known as Wild Garlic)

 

Walking through a wooded area in the Lake District I saw ramsons everywhere. The trees stood in a beautiful spot surrounding a rippling river.

Ramsons is also known as wild garlic. I wasn’t sure I had found wild garlic until I pulled up a leaf and smelt the unmistakable garlic odour. If that wasn’t enough to persuade me seeing the ramsons flower pods did. The pods looked like they were filled with lots of tiny white balls.

These herbs are native to the woodlands in Europe and I found them in February. How exciting to find a herb that I could forage so early on in the year!

I’ll be looking for them around hedgerows too but ramsons does prefer damp areas.

I’m always careful to forage off the walking paths just in case dogs have decided to do their business there. I leave the bulbs as well so that they can grow again the following year.

If your new to foraging take a look at my “Foraging Tips for Beginners” post;

http://theforagingherbalist.com/foraging-tips-for-beginners/

 

Eating Ramsons

Both ramsons leaves and flowers can be eaten but the leaves are best picked before their flowers die in May.

Ramsons flowers
Caution

I’m very careful when eating a food that I have never eaten before because until I do I don’t know if I am going to be intolerant or allergic to it. Therefore I only eat a tiny amount initially and wait a day or so for any possible reaction. If everything is fine I will consume the new food with no worries.

I have read about people who are allergic to things like parsley. This certainly made me think twice about sprinkling it on while cooking for others! Therefore I feel its best to be careful with anything new because no one person is the same.

Source of Vitamin C

Ramsons is rich in vitamin C and was eaten to prevent scurvy many years ago.

Vitamin C is a important vitamin for our immune systems, healthy bones and tissues. Its also necessary for the absorption of iron.

Not enough vitamin C may lead to various problems such as;

  • Bleeding gums and loose teeth
  • Bruising
  • High blood pressure
  • Low blood sugar
  • Oedema (excessive accumulation of fluid, mainly water, in the tissue spaces of the body)
  • Poor wound healing
  • Scurvy
  • Tiredness
  • Weakness
  • Weak immune system

Making Ramsons Sauce

I decided to make a ramsons sauce with my leaves because its suggested to be useful for my digestive problems.

Firstly I washed the collected leaves.

Using a colander to do this I then gave them a good shake to remove the water drips.

Next I placed the leaves in a dish and covered them with olive oil and cider vinegar. The cider vinegar will preserve the sauce for six months. Not that I think it will last anywhere near that long!

I used a mix of approximately one part cider vinegar to three parts olive oil until the leaves were covered.

I blended the cider vinegar, olive oil and leaves until they were chopped beautifully.

At this stage I couldn’t resist a little taste because it smelt amazing. I ate half a teaspoonful and it was like a burst of fresh spring onions in my mouth but better.

Next I poured the mixture into a glass bottle.

What a beautiful colour!

Lastly as always I labelled my ramsons sauce. I put on the ingredients, expiry date and its uses. Then I popped the bottle into the fridge until required.

I’ve used the sauce on a salad already and it tasted delicious but I bet it would also make a great pasta sauce.

Pesto

Ramsons pesto sounds delicious too and I have read that there are a lot of different ways to change the taste.

Creating the pesto is similar to the sauce but I would blend the leaves with just a covering of olive oil.

When I next pick ramsons I’m going to try adding chopped up almonds because they are my favourite nut. I may also add a little raw unpasteurised cheese or feta. My stomach violently rejects pasteurised products but a little raw on rare occasions isn’t too bad.

I drink a lot of almond milk too due to my intolerance and I much prefer the taste to standard milk.

Uses

As mentioned I’m personally attracted to ramsons because its suggested as a tonic for the digestive system and to ease stomach pain.

Other suggestions where eating ramsons may support the body include;

  • Lowering blood pressure.
  • Stimulating the circulation
  • Reducing gas and bloating

Its even thought to be helpful to those with asthma but is mainly suggested for preventative health.

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Folklore

Finally I want to mention that folklore says that wild garlic had the ability to ward off vampires and evil spirits.

I’ve not seen any vampires of the blood sucking variety myself but I have come across a few energy vampires!

Enjoy foraging for ramsons and please share any other ideas on how to eat it on the comments below.

Take care

 

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Dowsing for Earth Energy

 

My husband and I decided to have a go at dowsing to harness earth energy.

I love the idea of using dowsing to allow me to become more spiritually connected with nature and tune into my intuitive side even more. One of my greatest loves is being outside with nature and always lifts my spirits.

Choosing a Dowsing Tool

Apparently dowsing can work better with company therefore my husband and I are giving it a go together.

Find out more about dowsing from my “Witch Hazel” post;

http://theforagingherbalist.com/witch-hazel-nosebleeds-divining-dowsing-spirituality/

We both decided to choose necklaces with pendants for our dowsing tools. I chose a necklace which is very special to me. It has an angel pendant and was given to me by my mother who is sadly no longer with us.  At least not in body although I still feel the spirits of both my parents around me.

My husband chose a necklace too with a turquoise pendant that I bought him. I bought this pendant because he has throat problems and turquoise can be used for the throat chakra.

To find out a little more about chakras take a look at my “Aromatherapy” post;

http://theforagingherbalist.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=2060&action=edit

I have read that you don’t need to use a specific dowsing tool. If you have a pendant which is special to you that should be fine too. Crystals are often used so my husbands choice seems perfect.

Or maybe you prefer to buy one;

Dowsing tools and pendulums

Cleansing the Dowsing Tool

To cleanse our necklaces we both decided to place them under a full moon over night. This is because its said to remove any old energies from the tool.

I chose the full Wolf Red Blood Moon to cleanse my necklace. Check out my “Drinking Chamomile under the Wolf Blood Red Moon” post for more details;

http://theforagingherbalist.com/drinking-chamomile-under-the-wolf-blood-red-moon-spirituality/

My husband chose the full Snow or Hunger Moon. Check out my “Drinking Cherry and Cinnamon tea under the Full Snow Moon” post for more details;

http://theforagingherbalist.com/drinking-cherry-and-cinnamon-under-the-snow-moon/

I have read that you can also energise your crystals by placing them in a sunny window sill. Or by holding them under a running stream. Please be careful if you choose the sunny windowsill option because some crystals are not suitable for this purpose. For example amethysts may lose some of their beautiful purple hue and clear quartz may be a fire hazard.

My husband also put his pendulum in a sunny windowsill. This was because on the night of the full Snow Moon it was a little cloudy and we wanted to ensure that his pendulum was fully energised.

Keeping Dowsing Tools Safe

I read that once your energy is on the dowsing tool no one else should touch it. This is to stop the pendulum from absorbing another person’s energy. Therefore I placed mine inside a black velvet bag and my husband uses a red one.

The tools should be cleansed regularly therefore the third and final supermoon of the year will be the perfect opportunity to do this. This event will be on the 20th March 2019 and is called the Super Worm Moon.

Testing the Dowsing Tools

We placed our chosen tools within our enclosed hands and concentrated on them for five to ten minutes with our eyes closed. Doing this infuses our pendulums with our own energy. While I did this I saw deep crimson flashes of colour.

Next we held our necklace chains between our thumb and forefinger of our dominant hands. These were the hands that we write with. We held the chain where the clasp loop is.

Then we ran our non dominant hands down the length of the chain until they reached the pendants. Finally resting the pendants in our upturned non dominant hands.

Once the pendulums were still we removed our non dominant hands and began to test our tools. Initially we did this by asking our pendulums to show us “yes”. My husband’s pendulum swung backwards and forwards as did mine.

Next we asked them to show us a “no” and my husband’s swung in a circle and mine swung left to right.

Moving around we asked our tools to show us “yes” and “no” several times and both received the same responses each time. We were amazed especially when we began asking questions. We asked questions like is it Saturday and we were amazed that we always got the correct “yes” or “no” answer.

Visiting a Stone Circle

On a recent visit to the Lake District we took our dowsing tools with us. I’ve read that earth energy is more potent on sacred sites and that these sites are often marked by standing stones.

Therefore I searched for the closest stone circle to where we were staying. This turned out to be Long Meg and her Daughters Standing Stones near Penrith Cumbria. This is one of the largest stone circles in England and therefore a perfect choice.

I stood near Long Meg and was mesmerised by the glittering red sandstone. The side that faced the sun looked like it had clear crystal running through it which sparkled in the sunlight.

History

Folklore says that the stones were a coven of witches and they were turned to stone by a wizard from Scotland.

It is also said that from a certain angle the Meg stone resembles a witch and that Long Meg was a witch called “Meg of Meldon”. I agree with the resemblance and to us it looked like there was actually two profiles within the stone.

I even thought that my shadow against the mother stone looked like a witch when I saw it later. Have a look and see what you think;’

I read that the stones are uncountable twice in a row. If they are counted twice in a row it is said that the wizard’s spell will be undone and the witches will be free.

Dowsing at Long Meg and her Daughters Standing Stones

When we arrived my husband and I took our pendulums out of their protective pouches. We then held them in our clasped hands, closed our eyes and meditated for 5-10 minutes.

I leaned against Long Meg while I closed my eyes. Mainly because I had done a meditation the week before which asked me  to imagine walking into a field where there was a large stone. I was then asked to sit or lean against the stone to harness its power!

While my eyes were closed I saw flashes of coloured light and the most dominant  was a bright green. This seemed appropriate because when I picked up my pouch that morning it had two minute white feathers attached to one side. However when I arrived at the site of the stones both of these white feathers had turned green! I know I wasn’t imagining it because my husband saw them when they were white too.

Then we held the chains of our pendulums in our dominant hands, ran our non dominant hands down the length of the chains, and rested the pendants in our palms until they stilled.

Next we walked towards different stones and asked to be showed “yes” and “no” again. Once again we received the same “yes” and “no” responses that we had at home.

Then we asked for “yes” and “no” responses to questions we already knew the answer to. Both of us received the right answer for each and every question.

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Conclusion

Finally we asked questions pertaining to our future.

My pendulum would strongly kick itself out of a backwards and forwards motion to a left to right one when a new question altered it to “no”. On one occasion this action was so powerful that I nearly dropped my pendulum. Sometimes I also got huge “yes” answers as it swung backwards and forwards vigorously.

It remains to be seen if the answers we received come to fruition. Neither of us could deny that the pendulums appeared to work. We both feel that we did not influence their movement in any way.

Try dowsing yourselves and share your experiences. Please comment below if you would like to share.

Bless you all.

 

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