How to Heal with Herbs
I have been asked to write a blog about 4 of my favourite herbs that heal specifically on physical, mental, spiritual and love wellbeing.
Here’s the deal – firstly to understand what the term ‘herb’ means – most people think of herbs as plants that are aromatic and good to cook with which is correct, but a herb is a plant that can be used medicinally – the fact that you can cook with them, they can be aromatic, and that wildlife love them is all a added bonus! So, when you look at a herb as medicinal then this opens the door to all the wild plants, trees, flowers, roots, seeds, leaf and is never ending in their bounty. In fact, over 80% of all modern pharmaceuticals are derivatives from plants the only difference with herbal medicine is that we aren’t extracting a single chemical from the plant, but we are working with the whole plant and allowing our supremely intelligent bodies to take what chemicals it derives necessary to heal ourselves.
Like everything in life, it is all about balance – so in this case modern medicine and herbalism can work hand in hand together and not separate.
Secondly, for me to pick a favourite is not possible – I love all that nature has to offer and I am continually left in awe of her. However, for this blog let me try and summarise a specific herb for each of the issue or at least try!
On the Physical level: two herbs spring to mind immediately here: Comfrey and Yarrow. I have used comfrey to make a salve and a paste to heal broken bones – in days of old it was called ‘knit bone’ – in fact you only need to ask my eldest son how good it is to heal broken bones – I used it to heal his broken nose once and when he went back to the doctors a week later, they said they must have misdiagnosed! And Yarrow – wow I could write a book about this one herb; its wild, its magical and an amazing healer – it’s Latin name is Achillea millefolium – the legendary Achilles used Yarrow as a field dressing for his soldiers hence the plant is named after him! It is also known as ‘carpenters friend’ and would always be found growing in abundance next to wherever they worked because it is the greatest way to stop bleeding – there has been countless times I have used the plant – I have had many cuts, one or two rather serious and I have always immediately used yarrow – it is the best first aid to stem the bleeding (haemostasis) and is antibacterial and antimicrobial too – find a plant, strip the leaves, crush them (I actually also chew the plant into a rough paste) and pack into the wound.
St John's Wort
On the Mental Level: there is one wild plant that springs to mind here. St John’s Wort Hypericum perforatum – it’s reputation for helping lift the darkness of depression has grown considerably and has been well researched in the last 20 years and you will find it in many chemists and natural health shops. It is known that hypericin interferes with monoamine oxidase (MAO), which contributes to depression. My only advice here is do not use St John’s wort alongside any pharmaceutical medication without first seeking advice form a doctor or herbalist. However, on a personal level I absolutely love this plant and it makes the best St John’s wort oil which I make by picking the flowers (always near midsummers day) and putting them into a clear jar filled with extra virgin oil covering all the flowers. Place on a sunny widow shelf shake regular and watch over the two weeks how the oil turns to the most amazing red colour from the yellow flowers. I use this oil for sore muscles, bruises and any form of back ache. Again, I could write so much about this plant and aware that once I start it is hard to stop. Another way of working with St John’s (known as the sun herb for obvious reason) is to make a small St John’s wort pillow which helps with sleeping, curing bad dreams and if any child/adult is afraid of the dark it helps elevate this – pick the flowers, dry them, have a small cloth bag (could also add some lavender flowers in here too to help sleeping or lemon verbena), fill bag, stich shut and place underneath your pillow!
Spiritual Wellbeing: oh my word for this isn’t up to one plant but all of nature – this is going for a walk in the park, in town walking the streets, deep in a wood, or by the sea – open all your senses to feel the wind, rain or even snow! Listen to the birds or how the wind sounds through the trees, watch everything, stop and look in detail at the smallest leaf, flower – study its intrinsic beauty, stop and feel a leaf, sand or soil – go on your own, no dogs or distraction and use your imagination to communicate. To let you into a secret I do have one plant I use more that any other to help my spiritual wellbeing and that is Mugwort – I have run small classes on how to make Mugwort smudge sticks and use them – the smoke is magical, clears negative and old stuck energies, calms and protects and most importantly for me it aids my connection to the natural world.
Love Wellbeing: there have been countless of remedies and potions for love over the millenniums but for me it is simple – the Apothecary Rose – the oldest Rose known to humankind – it has been central to so many peoples and so many religions – it is the centre of the circle of life. We just happen to be the largest growers of this rose in the UK and it has been our saving grace for the Secret Herb Garden, that’s another story – we grow over 1000 plants – hand harvested and dried here on site – we use the petals to make our Apothecary Rose gin and in our herbal tea. Make a tea from the petals and feel its power seep into you – it restores hurt emotions, holds the imbiber with love and tenderness – it offers true magic and the ability to help love yourself – as Buddha himself is quoted: ‘You yourself as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection’
In so much turmoil at present look to nature to help – bring her into your life physically, mentally and totally.
As always take advice from a doctor or herbalist before taking any medicine especially if pregnant.