An inspiring day at the Chelsea Physic Gardens on Monday discussing the research in Anti Microbial resistance and what herbs can be used in stead of antibiotics and the mechanism

An inspiring day at the Chelsea Physic Gardens on Monday discussing the research in Anti Microbial resistance and what herbs can be used instead of antibiotics and the mechanism by which this is done ..

A wonderful collection of research professors from University of Southhampton and Portsmouth. A few GPs working also as herbalists and a lovely collection of RCHM members imparting their wisdom and adding input from the floor!

A useful day for my patients as what was gleaned is that should your GP recommend antibiotics ask first how necessary it is and it might be better to save the antibiotics for possible MRSA  or some other life threatening infection. The  more exposure to antibiotics you have the more you educate the bacteria how to adapt to them. At the same time you diminish your own natural immune activity.  In Scandinavian countries they have introduced doing a CRP test (finger blood test ) before administering antibiotics and this has reduced  the usage by about a third. The recent government report has shown there is a big reduction in prescribing but we have still a way to go to use these life saving drugs for just this … feeling horrible with a rotten cold is just that, best advice is to take self to bed and hide. But in the real world where we all have to work to keep the machine of living day to day it is not possible.  Hence the over use of the medication which began saving lives about 90 years ago.

Think twice before taking them as you may need it one day to actually save your life.

www.chelseaphysicgsrden.co.uk

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Peony – the flower of the month – for nourishing blood and painful periods

Peony

Peony – to invigorate your blood

The beautiful Peony is now flowering in my garden.  This plant is one of the most used herb in our Materica Medica. We use both the red peony and the white. The red shown here is for invigorating the blood and is most commonly used for painful periods and for softening lumps and fibroids. As its flavour is sour and bitter it used to cool the blood in hot syndromes, and can be one of the herbs  used for the typical symptom of the menopause. The white peony is more nourishing.  Also used with painful periods and stops pain especially if  experiencing migraine or headaches that is associated with the mense.  As with all herbs its use should only be under the supervision of a qualified medical herbalist. Chinese herbal medicine uses a combination of herbs put together to create a dynamic palate to transform the patients pathology.  It is never just  one herb as that creates an imbalance. It would be like supporting one leg of a table and not the other three so the table would be uneven…. You could not eat off such a table. So enjoy seeing this flower in gardens everywhere knowing that Ancient Chinese Medicine found a use for the root of the peony beyond the beauty of the flower. I wonder how this use was discovered and have yet to come across any research to enlighten me on this fact.

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Dan Poulter – save the practice of herbal medicine in the UK!

In Feb 2011 the Government announced that herbalists were to be statutorily regulated saying that “this is the right decision, which will benefit both practitioners and the public who use herbal medicines”. Two years on, because the Government has failed to honour its commitments, herbal practice is in peril. As a result of an EU directive on Traditional Herbal Medicinal products which came into force in April 2011:
• The future of practitioners of herbal medicine is threatened.
• Herbal practitioners have lost the right to prescribe many commonly used herbal medicines
• The public has lost access to a wide range of herbal medicines available from practitioners
• The loss of the right to supply many herbal medicines is driving many herbal practitioners and their herbal suppliers out of business
• Patient and public safety is threatened

Sign the petition 

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Dandelion – to cleanse your liver and toxins

Dandelion - to cleanse your liver and toxins

Dandelion – to cleanse your liver and toxins

Dandelion – to cleanse your liver and toxins
The final seasonal treat is another ‘Pest’ in the garden, the Dandelion. The leaves make a great salad like Ruccola or Rocket. I truly recommend this once you do not spray your garden. Again you could say that it cleanses the liver. The dandelion or Pu Gong Ying is used as one of our herbs to clear heat and toxins. It is anti-viral and anti bacterial. I have known people to use the raw juice of the stem to eliminate warts on the skin. Both the plant and the roots are used medicinally. Whatever you are doing this spring take time to absorb the power of the emerging life. It is the source of regeneration.

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Asparagus – kidney and liver tonic

Asparagus - kidney and liver tonic

Asparagus – kidney and liver tonic

Asparagus – kidney and liver tonic
The highlight of my culinary year is the arrival of our very own English asparagus. The fact that it is delicious seems a by product considering its valuable health benefits. Given that Chinese Medicine looks at the world as a system of yin and yang you have to see that the asparagus grew out of the yin of winter to produce a ‘spear’ that pierces through the earth. This is yang. It is a yin tonic for the kidney and the liver. It is also full of vitamins. It has a very short season and asparagus growers follow a strict time when they stop cutting the spears. Usually the middle of June. My favourite way to cook asparagus is to just break off the ends, if fresh it will snap. Place in a pan with a little water chop some garlic and add in with a little salt if desired. Bring to boil and turn down and simmer until it is soft but not over cooked. If you really want to be healthy drink the water other wise drain or add into something else you are cooking fish, chicken. I then dress the Italian way with olive oil and lemon or lime, tear some fresh basil and toss. This is great with as I mentioned chicken or fish or as a main with some sort of delicious artisan breads.

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Nettle soup

Nettle soup

Nettle soup

Nettle soup
The picture shows the top of the nettle. This is the only part of the nettle I recommend that you use and harvesting should be done with a rubber glove. Wash the tips. The amount to collect varies but about half a bucket full should suffice for a soup. There are various recipes that you could find on the BBC food website but they are all similar. Chop about 2 shallots and sauté in olive oil and a little garlic, wild garlic is also in season so that could be used instead. Add some chopped potato (2, or 1 large) once the shallots and potatoes are soft add some stock. About a litre or more depending on how much of the nettles you have decided to use. This is a basic potato soup with nettles, so if you have decided to use more of the nettles then perhaps a litre and a half of vegetable stock is advised. Chop the nettles then add into the stock and allow to simmer for about 20 minutes. Salt and pepper is added for flavour and if you are happy with the taste take off the heat and use a blender or food mixer to make a smooth soup and so avoid the stringy nettle bits.To serve I would recommend a drizzle of olive oil and or some smetana or sour cream.

A little post script about nettles. Although it is probably the scourge of some gardeners it was a vital part of British life for natural dyes and fodder for animals. Crushed it is used in cattle food and dried and powdered used in poultry food. The flowers of the nettle are loved by butterflies. So always keep some nettles in the garden as they need all the help they can get. Medicinally the Old Herbalists used it as an anti asthmatic, mainly the juice of the roots and leaves are extracted for this. The seeds have been used for stings and venoms, also as an antidote for hemlock and henbane. This information I have retrieved from a wonderful old book called A Modern Herbal by Mrs. M. Grieve. First published by Jonathan Cape in 1931. I am not recommending that you try the seeds of nettle for poisons but just sharing some ancient knowledge when there were no Glaxo Smith Kline or Astra Zenca!

 

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