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.

Take a look at my “How to Make Simple Mini Saging Sticks” post for more information;

http://theforagingherbalist.com/how-to-make-simple-mini-saging-sticks-smudging-saging-removing-negative-energies-warning-for-epileptics-and-saging/

 

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 produce after chopping 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.

Its ok to drink this tea 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. I store dried herbs for one year and always put their expiry date on for a year from the date I dry them.

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 of finding my cancer 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.

Important Notes:

Please 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 that 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.

Also ensure you are a 100% sure what a herb is before you use or consume it. If in any doubt don’t.

 

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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

Ramsons attracts me personally because one of its uses suggests use 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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When Ramson Flowers

Flowering ramsons among the bluebells

I also pick ramsons while it flowers at the end of April. It looks absolutely beautiful scattered among the bluebells.

It still smells strongly of garlic but their leaves are much floppier. The wild garlic did not have such a strong taste after flowering but it still made a fantastic ramson’s sauce.

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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