Witch Hazel

 

In my last post “Growing Alfalfa Sprouts” I looked for herbal support for after my husband’s operation.

http://theforagingherbalist.com/growing-alfalfa-sprouts/

I found that witch hazel may also support my husband’s recovery after his nose and throat operation.

Witch hazel is also known as winter bloom.

Uses

The doctor told my husband that he may suffer nosebleeds for a few days after his operation. Searching for herbal suggestions to ease nosebleeds I found witch hazel and bought a bottle to give it a try.

Reading about witch hazel told me that it promotes the stopping of bleeding because its haemostatic. Haemostasis is a body’s response to blood vessel injury and bleeding. As a result blood clots are formed and bleeding stops.

I’m pleased I found witch hazel because its also cooling, cleansing, and anti-inflammatory.

Easing Nosebleeds

Arriving home my husband’s nose continued to bleed. Therefore taking a cotton wool pad I tore it half. Rolling each piece I soaked the ends of each half with witch hazel.

Inserting the witch hazel soaked ends into his nostrils we waited. After re-applying fresh swabs three times, by end of the day the nose had practically stopped bleeding. Consequently leaving my husband with just traces of blood in his mucus.

We both believe that the witch hazel stopped the bleeding quicker.

I bought pure and organic witch hazel for this process. Having very sensitive skin I use products containing the minimum amount of chemicals possible.

I chose;

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Organic-Natural-Pure-Witch-Hazel-Hydrosol-Steam-Distilled-from-Bark-Flowers/111171299442?ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT&_trksid=p2060353.m2749.l2649

Not a cheap option to choose, but I can’t put a price on my husband’s health.

Cautions

  • Witch hazel is no longer used internally.
  • Try a little first to make sure that you don’t get a skin irritation.

I place tiny amounts of new products onto my skin to test for any reaction. I choose a part of my body that is easily hidden in case I get a negative reaction. Due to my high sensitivity I warily await to see how my body will react.

I still have a unsightly red mark on my ankle caused by a bug bite in the summertime. Therefore I dabbed witch hazel onto it because its said to be ideal for many skin problems. Five days later I can see the redness reducing already.

Divining

Witch hazel twigs have been used as divining rods to find underground water for years.

Water divining is also known as dowsing and dowsers are sometimes known as water witches. I love this name! People believe that using the twigs of the hazel tree to divine has something to do the “witch” part of the name.

Walking over an area with a hazel twig, L-shaped  rods or a pendulum locates high-energy points. The rods cross over or separate, the hazel twig twitches and the pendulum swings when a high-energy point is found. Dowsers walk several criss-cross routes with their chosen divining tool until the tool  moves in the same place each time.  Finally confirming to them that the right area has been found.

I’ve been reading that even water companies have started dowsing to detect leaks again;

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/uk-water-companies-magic-dowsing-rods-use-engineers-leaks-no-scientific-evidence-sally-le-page-a8069616.html

Chosen tool for dowsing

I’ve been wanting to have a go at dowsing by using a pendulum. Under the recent wolf blood red moon I put outside a necklace and my crystals.

Spiritually using the moonlight or a running stream is said to rid tools of old energies. Therefore placing my crystals outside under the moon I hoped to re-energize them and cleanse my necklace ready for dowsing.

Looking at my Drinking Chamomile under the wolf blood red moon post gives more information;

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

I was given the chosen necklace by my mother many years ago and therefore  it is very special to me. Sadly my mother and father have now passed away. Making the necklace’s angel pendant even more special because I feel like my mum is now an angel looking over me.

I keep  a copy of a dowsing article from Spirit and Destiny magazine in readiness.  Until needed I keep my necklace in a black pouch to protect it.

If you enjoyed the dowsing part of this post take a look at my post detailing my first dowsing experience;

http://theforagingherbalist.com/dowsing-divining-earth-energy-spiritual-dowsing-long-meg-and-her-daughters/

 

I love Spirit and Destiny magazine which feeds my body, mind and spirit just as it advertises. Here is their webpage if you wish to take a look;

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

Lastly I want to thank my dear friend for introducing me to this wonderful magazine.

Blessings to you all.

 

 

 

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Tips to deal with a Mastectomy and Breast Cancer

Everyone’s experience of breast cancer and their type of operations will be different. However here are my tips which may be helpful to others;

Sleeping

For the initial few weeks after my left mastectomy I slept on the sofa with a pillow next to my chest. I draped my left arm over the pillow and this made it more comfortable for me to sleep. It is over 20 years since the operation and I still favour sleeping on my right side. The left side becomes uncomfortable and stiff after a while.

Hot flushes

My particular cancer treatment forced me to have a chemically induced menopause from the age of 26 which lasted two and a half years. I’m now experiencing my natural menopause and I wish I knew about gel cool pillows back then. I lay the gel cool pillow on top of my standard pillow or I place it inside my pillow case. On particularly warm nights I place it in the fridge for a little while before bedtime because it makes it cooler. When I put mine in the fridge I also put it inside a bag so that it doesn’t end up smelling of the food in the fridge.

I mainly use my gel cool pillow during the summer months. I find mine is fantastic for my night sweats and I truly don’t know what I would do without it.

Here is a link to show you the type of pillow I mean;

Gel cool pillows at Amazon

Taking time for yourself to relax

I found that I could relax a lot more during this difficult time by lying on the sofa with my eyes closed listening to gentle music. My choice back then was of rain forests and whale music. I would light an incense stick and my candles to create a relaxing ambience. In the last couple of years I have taken this a step further by doing regular meditation and yoga.

For more information take a look at my aromatherapy post;

http://theforagingherbalist.com/?s=aromatherapy

Washing

Using a wash puff is a gentle way of cleansing the area after the operation. Personally my mastectomy scar and surrounding area still remains tender over twenty years later. Therefore I continue with washing this way to this day.

Mastectomy bras

Some body areas will be more sensitive to wearing a bra after the operation. I find that I am often sore where the bra band goes under my missing breast, even leaving blisters at times. To help with this I found that a spray on plaster may help to relieve the irritation. Although what worked remarkably well for myself was dabbing on a anti foot blister solution. I used Avon’s Foot Works foot solution. Unfortunately Avon no longer produces this but you may be able to find a suitable alternative. If you do please let me know in the comments section below.

Where my bra straps go over my shoulders is also a problem. The breast forms can seem heavy and make the bra straps cut into the top of my shoulders. Another disadvantage of these heavy breast forms are that they quickly stretch the elastic of my bra straps and I end up buying new ones often. With the expensive cost of mastectomy bras this is a major downside.

There are specially made plastic inserts available for bra straps. They can be placed where your bra strap and shoulders meet which can relieve the strain on your shoulders.

My favourite mastectomy bra at the moment is Nicola Jane’s padded bra. Being padded the bra hides many sins and when I’m dressed I can’t see any differences in the shape of the real or false breast. I also love that you can change the straps for clear ones or cross them over at the back. This is the one I wear;

Prosthesis options

I find it fantastic to wear a “swim form” prosthesis option for everyday wear. The swim forms are also made of silicone and shaped to your natural breast shape, but they are hollowed out at the back making them much lighter. There are also foam options available but personally I find these too light and they constantly ride up. Even with these lighter options available I often can’t wait to take off my bra and prosthesis. I put on my  favourite item of clothing which is a soft squishy dressing gown and hides the fact I only have one breast.

Personally I also love the padded mastectomy bras. I find these give you a much more even shape, they hide many sins. I have two favourite online mastectomy outlets that I like to use these are Nicola Jane and Amoena.

Nicola Jane’s website is;

https://www.nicolajane.com/

Amoena’s website is;

https://www.amoena.com/

I have over 20 years experience of living with a mastectomy. If I can help you with any questions you may have please do not hesitate to send me a message..

 

If you found this post interesting take a look at my breast cancer and radiotherapy story;

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

 

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Growing Alfalfa Sprouts

 

Alfalfa is also known as Purple Medick, Lucerne, Californian Clover, and Buffalo Herb.

My husband had an operation on his nose and throat and I searched for suggested herbal assistance to support his recovery. Alfalfa seeds looked a perfect choice because suggestions say that this herb may help with;

  • Infections of the sinus, ear, nose and throat.
  • Disorders and diseases of the respiratory tract.
  • Assisting to produce new connective tissue and microscopic blood vessels that form on the surfaces of a wound during healing.
  • Building you up after an operation.

I used the alfalfa sprouts because I could easily blend them into soup. I wanted to make soup for the first couple of days due to my husband’s sore throat. Also soft foods were recommended after the operation. He knew he was going to have to eat the soup whether he liked it or not. Tee-hee!

I’ve read that there is 150% more protein in alfalfa sprouts than in wheat or corn.  I’m intolerant to these so the sprouts are a great alternative for me.

Growing Process

I couldn’t find any alfalfa sprouts to buy therefore I decided to grow my own.

The seeds are not cheap but I found the following organic ones which seemed reasonable when I compared prices ;

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%2FForest-Whole-Foods-Organic-Alfalfa-Seeds-EU-Origin-Great-for-sprouting%2F222158743824%3FssPageName%3DSTRK%253AMEBIDX%253AIT%26var%3D521001075657%26_trksid%3Dp2057872.m2749.l2649

If you decide to buy these for yourselves I want to point our that when I received them they had the following warning;

May contain traces of gluten, tree nuts, sesame, soya and peanuts.

I also ensured that the seeds were suitable for home sprouting. Please see the below NHS sprouted seeds safety advice before you decide to sprout your own;

https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/sprouted-seeds-safety-advice/

Container

I decided to use a large clip top storage jar because it is surprising how many shoots you can get from a small amount of seeds.

I added two tablespoons of seeds to the jar.

Soaking

Next I three quarters filled the jar with water.

I then put cheesecloth over the top of the jar which I secured with an elastic band.

Here is an example of the cheesecloth I use;

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%3Ark%3A1%3Apf%3A1%26frcectupt%3Dtrue

Alternatively you may wish to use a sieve by placing it upside down over the top of the jar.

I left the alfalfa seeds to soak overnight for 8-12 hours making sure that they were out of direct sunlight.

Drain

The following morning I drained away the water by pouring it through the cheesecloth. If your using the sieve option drain with this.

If its summer time and water is scare I can drain into a bowl so that I can use the water on my outside plants. Waste not, want not.

I then turn the jar upside down into a bowl to allow the seeds to continue to drain. If preferred you can prop the jar at an angle and drain onto kitchen roll. I find that using the cheesecloth I don’t lose any of the seeds in the process.

The jar is filled with water at least every morning and evening. I swirl the seeds around in the water to rinse them and then drain. This process adds the moisture required to allow the seeds to grow. I make sure that I keep the seeds out of direct sunlight at this stage. Putting the jar at an angle allows air circulation which is needed to germinate them. So I don’t shut them away in a dark cupboard.

Progress

Here are my shoots sprouting at the beginning of day three.

Growing alfalfa sprouts would be a great project for children. A bit different to the carrot tops and watercress that I used to grow as a child.

I am as excited as a child watching them grow though.

Sunlight

On the fourth day after I rinse the seeds I put the jar in a sunny windowsill. Finding a sunny window can be a challenge at this time of the year.

On the fifth day the alfalfa sprouts were ready because they were about half an inch in length.

I put a couple of heaped tablespoons into the soup I was preparing along with some other vegetables. After the mixture had simmered for 10 to  15 minutes the vegetables were cooked and ready to blend. Ta-da! Soup with an extra special twist.

Cautions

  • Alfalfa should not be taken with vitamin E because this will weaken the efficiency of the vitamin E.
  • It has an oestrogenic action meaning it mimics the action of female hormones. For this reason its advised not to take it during pregnancy.
  • Don’t take if you have Lupus in your family. Lupus is where the body’s immune system attacks your own tissues and organs and it may trigger this in some sensitive people.

 

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Foraging Tips for Beginners

I started foraging last year and absolutely love it. I’m writing this post hoping to inspire others to forage too.

Foraging Guidelines

Firstly l look on the internet to find somewhere that I am allowed to forage.

There are important guidelines for foraging that I follow. I find the Woodland Trust Foraging Guidelines invaluable. Check them out for yourself if your thinking of having a go;

https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/visiting-woods/things-to-do/foraging/foraging-guidelines/

Weather

I then check the weather and dress accordingly. My favourite way to check is by using the BBC weather website because I find it the most reliable forecast;

https://www.bbc.co.uk/weather

Clothing

I like to wear walking boots when I forage because I often walk off the beaten track. I particularly love to pick my way through woods and walk beside river banks and the sea.

In very warm weather I like to put on my walking sandals. My sandals are made by Earth Spirit and I wear this brand because they are extremely comfortable, robust, and have a great grip.

This link gives you an idea what they look like;

Earth Spirit Sandals at Amazon

Despite the weather forecast I keep my rain mac handy because of the changeable British weather. When I forage I need to use both of my hands so carrying an umbrella is not practical.

When I finish foraging I often look down and see that I have muddy trouser bottoms. For this reason I don’t wear my best clothes foraging. Another reason for me not to get dressed up is because my sleeves often get snagged on thorns.

Packing my Backpack

Filling up my backpack I ensure I leave enough room for my herbal bounty.

I don’t include everything but the kitchen sink because a heavy backpack makes my shoulders ache.

Labelling

I take small freezer or food bags with me so that I can separate each herb that I collect. I take them back out again when I get home to prepare them.

When I place the herbs inside the bag I stick on a label and write the herbs name on it. Some days I collect several different herbs so this makes them easily recognisable.

Reference material

I take a couple of books with me to help me to identify the herbs. “Hedgerow Medicine” and “Wayside Medicine” books by Julie Bruton-Seal and Matthew Seal are very useful to me.

These books include photographs of the herbs. From these pictures of the herbs flowers, leaves or fruits I can easily identify them. I enjoy reading about the herbs history, uses, and suggested preparations.

Buy these books at Wordery

I also print and take the Woodland Trust’s monthly foraging tips with me. They do a list of herbs to forage each month. This is their February link;

https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/blog/2018/02/foraging-in-february/

If I took anymore reference material with me than this my backpack would be too heavy.

Protection

I pack my gardening gloves because of the sharp thorns that I encounter.

I take wet wipes with me because they are handy to remove sticky berry juice from my hands. Some berries are so ripe that when I give them a slight squeeze their juice spurts everywhere.

My first aid remedy for stained clothes is immediately giving the stain a vigorous rub with a wet wipe. This action removes most of the damage. Then as soon as I get home I spray what is left with Vanish and wash the clothes.

Cutting

I also take secateurs because I find some of the plant stalks and branches  can be very tough.

I don’t take anything with me to dig up roots because this is not allowed without the landowners permission.

Being environmentally friendly is very important to me. Therefore I only forage enough for my personal use and ensure that plenty is left behind for the wildlife.

Herbs are so beautiful and I feel that it would be a crying shame to remove them all from the landscape.

When night falls

I get carried away sometimes and the dark rolls in before I realise.

For this reason I carry a wind up torch with me. I use the wind up variety so that I don’t need to worry about my batteries running out.  My night vision is very poor therefore carrying a torch is a necessity for me.

Food and drink

I like to take a bottle of water with me. Sometimes I take a small flask of herbal tea if it feels particularly cold outside.

I take a health bar with me because it gives me a natural burst of energy when I need it. Nakd or Frusli bars are my personal favourites.

Very Important

Finally I ensure that I take my rubbish home with me. I hate to see natural beauty spoiled by litter.

I don’t litter for the following reasons;

  • Its unsightly
  • May cause damage to the wildlife
  • Harms the environment because most of the litter I see is not biodegradable.

National Trust

My favourite places to forage include National Trust sites. Most of their places support foraging.

I also have a love of history and the National Trust combines my love of history and foraging perfectly. I particularly love to visit their Tudor properties and some of their gardens and woodlands are amazing.

Here is a link to their foraging guidelines;

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/news/our-position-on-foraging-for-wild-food

I like to visit National Trust sites as often as I can. Consequently I find that their annual membership saves me a lot of money when compared to paying for each visit seperately.

 

Be happy, healthy, and go have some fun!

 

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Foraging on the Beach

Powerfully uplifting

I decided to revamp my bathroom using feng shui.  Using a compass I found the feng shui bagua (energy map) of my home. This map told me the decorative suggestions for each room.

As a result I’m using the earth element colours shades which include brown, yellow, and orange. Along with elements such as seashells and candles.

For those who don’t know what feng shui is it originates from China and shows you how to optimise the energy in your home and environment.

To find out more about feng shui and your own bagua areas try The Spruce website which I found invaluable ; https://www.thespruce.com/feng-shui-4127926

 

Candle Holder Search

I decided upon a candle holder with a seashell design for my bathroom because it would cover two of the required feng shui elements.

Deciding to go to the shops at my closest seaside resort I went to see what I could find. Amazingly the only shell decorations they had included plastic shells! This seemed crazy because the beach was only a hop skip and a jump away. 

The Beach

Itching for a walk on the beach I did this before going home. Being January the beach was lovely and quiet. I walked right to the sea’s edge because I couldn’t wait to hear the sounds of the sea. I find the sea so powerfully uplifting while at the same time calming.

Walking on the beach made me realise I could make my own candle holder! I started picking up shells from the beach and found most of them washed up within the seaweed. Although finding and picking them up as they wash up on the beach is much more fun!

Beach Ethics

I ensured that there were no sea creatures attached to or inside the shells. If in any doubt I throw them back into the sea.

My haul

Inner Child

When I go to the beach I like to bring out my inner child. I do this at the waters edge seeing how close I can get to the water before the waves catch me. Its particularly fun when collecting shells which have just been uncovered by a wave on the beach. I dash in quick to get them when the wave recedes and run back quickly with my trophy before a new wave crashes in and covers my feet.

I was doing well avoiding the waves this time but then my feet started to sink into the wet sand covering my walking boots. This made me laugh – great fun!

Your inner child is the playful side of you. Connecting to mine makes me smile, laugh, and happy. We all have an inner child connect with yours and have some fun!

Preparing the shells.

Cleaning

Firstly I cover and soak the shells in a bowl of warm water with a good squirt of bleach for a few hours. I repeat this process three times. 

Then I soak them in warm water with a squirt of washing up liquid a further three times. I do this until the water runs clear and no sand remains in the bottom of the bowl.

There are many suggestions out there to clean shells but this worked to take away the smell of the sea. I wouldn’t suggest bleach if the shells are going to end up anywhere near animals.

Drying

I cover my draining board with kitchen roll and place the shells on top until dry. When dried the shells may appear dull.

Scrubbing

Using an old toothbrush I scrub the shells reaching into all of their nooks and crannies.

Polishing

Using a fresh cloth I pour a small amount of baby oil onto the cloth and rub this gently into the shells. The baby oil can be found for a reasonable price in most supermarkets.  I buff each shell into a nice shine.

Beautiful!

Natural Design

Inserting shells into different shapes and sizes of glass vases I looked for the perfect candle holder design. Unfortunately nothing looked or felt right. Even displaying them in different shaped and coloured bowls didn’t hit the mark.

I thought about adding craft sand. Then I remembered how beautiful the shells looked in a pile after they had been polished. I decided to make a design just with the shells and took some of the larger shells into the bathroom.

Piling the shells on top of each other I decided that I loved the more natural look.  I put a couple of flat shells on top of the two piles I  had made and found that they were perfect for holding tea candles.

When I made two designs that I was happy with I stuck the shells together with Gorilla Glue where they touched each other. This was tricky and I needed gloves to stop the glue from sticking to my skin. Holding the shells together for a couple of minutes I then left them to dry fully. I  decided placing them on a piece of cardboard would be best in case the glue leaked onto the table I was using.

Glue puffed outwards as it dried so I used a toothpick to gently push the glue back out of sight. I didn’t want the glue ruining the final effect.

Gorilla glue is amazing and I use it for many craft projects and DIY around the house. It is very strong and bonds stone, metal, ceramics, glass, foam, and now shells!

Here is a link to show the Gorilla Glue that I use;

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Gorilla-Glue-For-Wood-Stone-Metal-Ceramic-Glass-Waterproof-100-Tough-60ml/332511984192?_trkparms=aid%3D555017%26algo%3DPL.CASSINI%26ao%3D1%26asc%3D55149%26meid%3D24daf9b722ee4b94b1f2b11b0b63cede%26pid%3D101006%26rk%3D1%26rkt%3D1%26%26itm%3D332511984192&_trksid=p2045573.c101006.m3226

My candle holders

 

Please share your own creations I would love to see them.

 

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Drinking Chamomile under the Wolf Blood Red Moon

I got up at 5am this morning to see the Super Wolf Blood Red Moon because I read the UK would see it best between 5.15 and 5.45 am. It was a total lunar eclipse. I took a photograph but it was a lot more impressive than my camera could capture.

It was a “super” moon because the moon’s orbit was as close to the earth as is possible which means that it appeared ten percent larger than usual.

The “wolf” moon is the name for the full moon in January.

The sun’s light is refracted around the earths atmosphere which gives the moon the “blood red” colour.

The evening before I put my crystals in a bowl outside on my garden table to re-energize them. I’ve been waiting for the right full moon for a while to do this.

I love the magazine Spirit and Destiny which advised to cleanse old energies by leaving crystals or tools out in the moonlight for an hour, or to hold them in a running stream. The Super Wolf Blood Red Moon is said to bring powerful energies so this seemed the perfect time to cleanse my crystals.

In my opinion Spirit and Destiny is a great read for a spiritualist. I particularly like the oracle deck sections and all the advice towards health and wellbeing.

Here is the Spirit and Destiny website link if you would like to check it out for yourself;

https://www.spiritanddestiny.co.uk/ 

Chamomile tea

I decided to take a cup of Chamomile tea outside with me to watch the moon for a while. Getting up so early I hadn’t had much sleep yet and therefore I wanted to use the chamomile to doze off again afterwards. It had the added bonus of keeping me warm in the chilly air.

After a while the cold air forced me inside but I watched a little longer from my bedroom window. As the moon disappeared behind the clouds I started to yawn my chamomile tea was doing the trick.

 

It worked!

I also reach for chamomile tea when I have a headache.  It works for me and I much prefer to do this than reach for headache pills.

Inhaling Chamomile

Drinking chamomile tea I put both hands around my cup and lift the cup and breathe in deeply before I drink. The smell of chamomile can balance the emotions and promote patience. My husband would be the first one to tell you that I need more patience. The smell is soothing and relaxing. There are also essential oils for chamomile if you prefer to use a diffuser, but remember pure essential oils are best.

As a essential oil chamomile may also help with the following;

  • Ease negativity, grief and sadness
  • Aid those who are nervous and behave like children
  • Depression

Making your own chamomile tea

My chamomile is bought in tea bags but if you can get hold of fresh German Chamomile you can make your own.

  • Pick the flowerheads in summer.
  • Dry out the herbs. I dry my herbs by hanging them upside down in the house.
  • When dried chop up the herb. I store mine in brown paper bags.
  • Label the bags with herb name, date of expiry (12 months later), ingredients, and uses.
  • Add one teaspoon of the dried herb to a cup of boiling water, and infuse for 5/10 mins. I just cover mine with a small plate.

Other uses for German chamomile

May also be useful for;

  • Calming down the digestive system.
  • Nervous excitability.
  • Restlessness.

To name just a few.

CAUTIONS

German chamomile can cause allergy problems to anyone allergic to the ragweed family.

Gardening

In the future I want to make my own herb garden so that I can have all of my favourite herbs to hand for home remedies.

Chamomile will feature in this garden in the form of pathways between the herbs so that I an easily tend to them all. I have chosen chamomile due to its calming fragrance. Simply treading on the paths will crush the herb dispersing its scent into the air.

 

Wishing you all love and happiness.

 

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Rose Hips in January

Winter time

I foraged rose hips this week and searching for the last few made it more exciting. I was like a kid in a sweet shop when I found any.

When foraging I ensure that I;

  • Am allowed to forage on the land.
  • Only take enough for my own consumption.
  • Leave plenty for the wildlife.

I bought Julie Bruton-Seal and Matthew Seal’s wonderful “Hedgerow Medicine” book. When I’m going foraging I always take this and their “Wayside Medicine” book with me because they identify a herb from its leaves, flowers or fruits with ease.

I use “Hedgerow Medicine’s” suggestion to make and use rose hip vinegar because it works for me. I had a very sore throat recently so mixed a tablespoonful of rose hip vinegar with a little warm water, gargled and swallowed. My sore throat had completely gone when I awoke the next day!

Be Prepared

Watch out for those thorns!

I take gardening gloves with me because they are useful when dealing with thorns. Rose hip thorns are extremely sharp and therefore I take care not to snag my clothes on them.

My rain mac is kept handy in case there is a shower. It never matters when it rains because I really enjoy a good forage regardless.

Preparing the rose hips

First of all I remove the rose hips stalks and dead flowers and throw away any rose hips that feel squishy.

I wash the rose hips in a colander and leave them to dry on the draining board.

Cider Vinegar

I love cider vinegar for many reasons. Above all because it’s said to help destroy harmful bacteria in the digestive tract, and for that reason I drink a teaspoon of cider vinegar in a glass of water each evening before my main meal.

CAUTIONS

  • Do not take cider vinegar if allergic to yeast.
  • Taking cider vinegar may cause problems if suffering from candida.

My tip is to  buy supermarket’s own label cider vinegar due to their good prices.  I add 20 rose hips to a 350ml bottle and 25 to a 500ml bottle.

 

Opening the cider bottle I pour a little cider vinegar out of the bottle into a jug because this leaves room to add the rose hips.

Adding the rose hips

The bottles will need topping up with the “everyday use” cider vinegar again after the rose hips are added.

I place the bottles on my sunny kitchen windowsill for a month to brew. When the weather has been dull I need to increase this brewing time by a week or two.

The colour of the rose hip vinegar when ready

 

Labelling

The bottles are then labelled because vinegar based preparations are recommended to be used within six months. Its important to thoroughly filter the plant sediment because this can extend the use by date.

I filtered my first batch with a tea strainer which left sediment and for that reason I now use a cheesecloth whilst filtering like this one;

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%3Ark%3A2%3Apf%3A1%26frcectupt%3Dtrue

The vinegar is filtered into a jug so that it is easier pour back into the bottle. Finally I throw the rose hips and sediment away.

My labels include;

  • date it was filtered
  • expiry day (six months on form when it was filtered)
  • uses of the preparation
  • dosage
  • ingredients

If you decide to make your own rose hip vinegar be quick before the rose hips have gone. Then you will be ready for any colds or sore throats that may strike.

If your new to foraging take a look at my foraging tips for beginners post;

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

 

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Aromatherapy


Beautiful Pink Rock Salt Desk Lamp/Oil Diffuser

Aromatherapy uses pure essential oils to change or modify the mind, body, or spirit. They mainly have a psychological effect and the oils are most effective when inhaled or used for external application.

My first experience of using smells to relax was many years ago when I had breast cancer. I would lie on the sofa, close my eyes and listen to gentle music. My choice of music to relax to back then included the sounds of rain forests and whales. I would light an incense stick and candles to create a relaxing ambience because this worked really well for me.

If you or someone you know is dealing with breast cancer, and you would like to see more of my tips take a look at my “Tips to deal with a mastectomy and breast cancer ” post;

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

My favourite scent now is sandalwood. Whilst learning about aromatherapy I realised why and that sandalwood was the perfect intuitive choice for me. I will briefly talk about chakras to explain why.

Chakras

I read about chakras when I started my spiritual journey. They are energy centres within the body which help to regulate organ function, the immune system and emotions.

The seven main chakras are;

Crown

Located inside the top of the head hence essential oils used here are ones to help with spiritual enlightenment.

Third eye

Located between the eyes therefore essential oils which are used here help to connect with higher functions of consciousness.

Throat

Located at the Adam’s apple, for that reason essential oils are used here are those to help with communication and self-expression.

Heart

Located in the chest meaning that essential oils for this area are those to help with loving and caring and a strong sense of love for yourself.

Solar plexus

Located in the stomach area so essential oils used here are ones which are linked to the digestive system.

Sacral

Located 3 to 4 inches below the solar plexus and for that reason the type of essential oils used here create an affinity with the reproductive organs.

Root

Located at the base of the spine so essential oils for this area are ones used for grounding and strengthening to allow the body to connect to the earth.

 

When chakras are too open or blocked they can effect emotional balance. When I burn sandalwood I always feel calmer and more at peace and looking at chakras explains why. I’m a Highly Sensitive Person and oversensitivity can be a sign of a blocked Sacral chakra.  I’m also fearful at times because my health makes it difficult for me to go out. This can be a sign of a blocked Solar Plexus chakra.

I looked at the suggested essential oils for Sacral and Solar Plexus blocked chakras and they both have sandalwood in their suggestions to help. How amazing that I was already attracted to sandalwood and burning sandalwood incense sticks on a regular basis!

If you are interested in finding out more about the suggested essential oils for yourself using the chakra system send me your details via the “contact us” page.

Using a diffuser

I use a couple of diffusers but my favourite one is the pink rock salt burner because it gives off such a beautiful glow. Switching it on creates the right ambience when I meditate.

I wanted a pink rock salt lamp for a long time and as a result I was very excited to learn that it was possible to get one which also burns oils. The top of the lamp has a small metal bowl which I three quarters fill with water. I then add 2-3 drops of my desired essential oil. When the lamp bulb heats up the essence disperses into the room. For best results I close the door and windows of the room that I’m using the burner in.


A photograph of the bowl in the top of the diffuser.

Lavender essential oil

I prefer to use lavender essential oil in my rock salt burner which is located by my bedside. The oil is burned at night before I go to sleep and again first thing in the morning while I meditate. Lavender brings together all of the chakras and balances the aura which maybe explains why it calms and relaxes me.

One of lavenders many properties is sedative and can be used for insomnia and for that reason it is an ideal choice to use before I go to sleep.

Other suggested uses for inhaling lavender oil are;

  • to uplift the emotions
  • bring calm at times of stress and tension
  • asthma
  • migraine
  • nausea
  • sunstroke

CAUTIONS

  • Some people with low blood pressure may feel a bit dull and drowsy after using this oil.
  • It is a oil that stimulates or increases menstrual flow and is therefore best avoided during the early months of pregnancy.
  • DO NOT use with psoriasis because of its ability to generate cell growth.

Essential oils

If my post inspires you to try out essential oils and their effects for yourselves it is first of all best to purchase pure essential oils which are natural plant essences. Try to avoid oils advertised as nature identical, isolates, perfume compounds, and aromas.

I found reasonably priced and good quality pure essential oils from a company called Fresh Skin. I bought their winter essential pack and they provide packs for each season;

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%2FFreshskin-Essential-Oil-Starter-Kits-Best-Selling-Collection-of-Essential-Oils%2F163504040400%3Fhash%3Ditem261199a9d0%3Am%3Amw4caOnaYuad24Lv2B0MdQg%3Ark%3A2%3Apf%3A1

It’s noteworthy that essential oils must be kept in brown or dark coloured bottles, kept away from the light, and kept tightly closed when they are not in use. Consequently if they are not some of the oils can evaporate very quickly if they are not stored correctly.

Wishing you all love and happiness.

 

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Growing Aloe Vera Plants

 

For my very first blog I am starting with the amazing herb aloe vera.

I was lucky to have been given an aloe vera plant a couple of years ago. However it wasn’t until I started my Master Herbalist course that I began to realise just how amazing this plant actually was. I can’t believe I just left it sat there on my window sill when there was so much more I could do with it.

My uses for Aloe Vera plant gel

If you break one of the meaty aloe vera plant leaves you will see a sticky gel seep out. This gel has amazing properties to assist the body to heal itself. My experiences of these are;

Burns

Last summer I was cutting our hedge with the electric trimmer and I cut through the lead. Fortunately the trimmer did cut out, but not before it had left a tiny contact burn on the inside of my right hand – Ouch! It was only 3 or 4 millimetres round, but it was sore. For a couple of days I tried antiseptic creams, but they just didn’t help with the pain and the wound kept seeping. Then I had a brainwave!

I remembered reading that aloe vera was good for burns. Therefore I broke off part of a leaf from my aloe vera plant and dabbed the neat gel onto the burn. Immediately the pain ceased, I couldn’t believe it! The burn ceased seeping and started to heal at last. Even better news is that there is no scar at all where the burn had been.

Insect bites

I have also used the neat gel on insect bites. I always swell up very badly when I get bitten and the bites seem to take forever to heal. The gel reduced the pain, and they did not swell up as much, or turn as red as usual. Bite sites can take well over a year to heal with me. However using the aloe vera gel my first bites from last year have already disappeared and the others are fading.

Eczema?

My course told me that the gel is known to treat all manor of skin problems, and therefore I’m currently trying it out on a small spot of eczema on my leg. I’ll let you know if it works.

Growing Aloe Vera Plants

My aloe vera plant had many offshoots growing which I laughingly called its “little babies.” The pot was getting so full that I decided to replant the offshoots.

Replanting “babies”

I replanted the “babies” by gently pulling their roots away from the mother plant and replanting them in small terracotta pots with potting soil for succulents. The pots have holes in the bottom to drain away unwanted water which is collected in trays underneath. I wait until the offshoots are at least an inch long before separating them from the mother plant and repotting them. I must be doing something right because I have already had to replant some of them into larger pots. Here is a photograph of a couple of new “babies” I have replanted to give you an idea.

 

The importance of pot size

Aloe vera plants are succulents whose roots grow shallowly and horizontally. This means that a shallower pot would be best for a aloe vera plant. Despite this I have found that they tend to be sold in the standardised pots like the one shown below;

With these types of pots aloe vera roots can’t reach the bottom. Therefore I searched for wide and shallow pots for repotting the “babies” as they grew. I couldn’t believe how hard it was to find these. My local garden centres didn’t have any. Therefore I continued my search online and found the following on eBay which were perfect for my needs;

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Tekucotta-terracotta-Bulb-Bowls-available-in-5-sizes-Bulbs-Alpines-Bonsai/262618732416?ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT&var=562131892174&_trksid=p2057872.m2749.l2649

This is a link to the trays I bought to go with them;

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/10-Plastic-Garden-Plant-Flower-Pot-Saucers-Terracotta-Hydroponics-Various-Size/264045151732?ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT&var=563583091414&_trksid=p2060353.m2749.l2649

Here are two of my “babies” growing up in their new pots.


Watering

Please take special care not to overwater your aloe vera plant. I water mine once a week, but less in the colder months where I find they do not drink very much.

Pots with holes at the bottom sitting on trays is ideal. When I water the plants as soon as I see any water seeping onto the tray I stop. Then after a few minutes of allowing the plant to drain I throw the rest of the water sitting in the tray away. This works for me.

Air Purifying

Before I end this post I just want to share another amazing fact about the aloe vera plant. It is also air purifying by removing formaldehyde and benzene, which can be a by product of chemical-based cleaners. These air purifying plants are now all over my house.

Even my beautiful neighbour loves sitting next to the aloe vera plants!

 

I hope that I have inspired you to have your own aloe vera plant. If I have I would love to hear what uses you can put yours to.

Until next time keep happy and well.

 

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