Friday, 29 March 2019

St John’s Wort: A Success Story

Photo and Article by Ann Walker
St John’s wort is a traditional remedy used for low mood and depression and there is little doubt that it works well, as this use is well backed up by modern research. Indeed, over thirty well-designed clinical trials have proved that an extract of the herb can be as effective for mild-to-moderate depression as modern antidepressants (see reviews PMID: 28064110 and PMID: 27589952).

In fact, St John’s wort offers the best research-supported use of any herb on the planet for a single health condition! Nevertheless, herbalists in the UK were late in realising its potential for treating depression, although it had a long history of such use in the rest of Europe. UK herbalists from mid 1800s mainly used St John’s wort for treating anxiety, shingles and nerve pain, including sciatica, exploiting the herb’s anti-inflammatory and pain-killing properties. It also found particular use for a range of female conditions, including pre-menstrual syndrome and adverse menopausal symptoms. St John’s wort continues to be used by herbalists for nerve damage whether caused by physical, mental, or viral agents, but these days its use as an anti-depressant takes centre stage.

But a word of warning: St John’s wort is not suitable for everyone. Taken alongside certain modern drugs the herb substantially lowers their blood levels, rendering them less effective. While this only applies to a limited number of drugs, they include some whose levels in the blood are likely to be critical to their efficacy, including warfarin, cyclosporine, digoxin, some anti-cancer drugs and the contraceptive pill. The mechanism of action is though enhanced detoxication of these drugs by up-regulation of a specific enzyme pathway in the liver.

There are many pathways of detoxication in the liver, but only those drugs which are detoxified via the St John’s wort-activated pathway are affected. Hence, most modern drugs are not involved, but if you are taking any prescribed medication, it is important to read the accompanying leaflet to see it St John’s wort is contraindicated, or, failing that, to seek advice from a herbal practitioner such as a member of the College of Practitioners of Phytotherapy or of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists.

PMID = PubMed identifier

Ann Walker PhD, FCPP, MNIMH, RNutr
Course Director DHM
Herbal Practitioner

Friday, 22 March 2019

Nicholas Culpeper Part 2 - The English Physician

Photo and Article Ⓒ Debs Cook
In part 1 of our look at the life of Nicholas Culpeper we left him joining the Parliamentarians at the Battle of Edgehill in October 1642, he served under the command of the Earl of Sussex during the first English Civil War (1642-1646) although not as a soldier. When Culpeper went to enlist he was told that his services were not needed as a soldier, but his medical skills were badly needed, so he joined as a field surgeon to tend the wounded Roundhead soldiers. In preparation Culpeper spent time studying his medical texts before he left for the battlefield, ensuring his surgical knowledge was battle ready, and spent time collecting a wealth of medicinal herbs and plants from the wild, which he took with him to the battle fields to help treat the wounded.

As history shows, in the end there was no clear winner at Edgehill with each side seeing some 500 dead men and 1,500 wounded, but having tended the injured and dying to the best of his ability Culpeper was granted a commission in 1643 becoming Captain to an infantry troop and fought at the Siege of Reading (4th November 1642 – 25th April 1643), where he took a bullet to the chest which is believed to have caused health problems for the rest of his life, some accounts say the wound was to the shoulder, but this is not commensurate with the conditions under which Culpeper eventually died, the chest makes more sense.

There were 3 stages to the set of events that became known as the English Civil Wars they began in in the August of 1642 and ended in September 1651. In 1649 Charles I was executed and the monarchy was abolished and along with it the Church of England’s monopoly on censorship of printed publications which was granted by James I in 1603. Under the old system anyone found printing, selling or being in possession of books which had not been vetoed and edited by church authorities would incur corporal punishment.

Culpeper took advantage of the removal of censorship and decided to make his plan to benefit the common man by giving them texts to read to help heal themselves, texted such as these had previously only been printed in Latin. He started with the ‘Pharmacopoeia Londonesis’ published in Latin by the Royal College of Physicians, he translated the work into English and in late 1649 his translation ‘A Physical Directory, or a Translation of the London Dispensary’ was published and made available to everyone.

Culpeper famously wrote “I am writing for the Press a translation of the Physicians' medicine book from Latin into English so that all my fellow countrymen and apothecaries can understand what the Doctors write on their bills. Hitherto they made medicine a secret conspiracy, writing prescriptions in mysterious Latin to hide ignorance and to impress upon the patient. They want to keep their book a secret, not for everybody to know. Not long ago parsons, like the predecessors of my grand-father, used to preach and prey in Latin, whether he or his parishioners understood anything of this language or not. This practice, though sacred in the eyes of our ancestors, appears ridiculous to us. Now everyone enjoys the gospel in plain English. I am convinced the same must happen with medicine and prescriptions.

His decision to publish the work made him even more enemies than he already had for his out spoken views on medicine. Despite being cautioned not to publish his translation, Culpeper went ahead, believing that his life was not as important as the everyday man having the right and ability to have the knowledge to be able to heal himself. What Culpeper gave the common man was an exact translation of the “Pharmacopoeia Londonesis” with the addition of his own views and experiences of the uses and virtues of the remedies and formulas. The College of Physicians hit out at Culpeper saying that what he had in actual fact done with his translation was not to enable people to heal themselves, but rather create the “danger of poysoning men's bodies” because the common man didn’t know how to successfully prescribe and use medicines.

The College of Physicians arguments fell on death ears and Culpeper moved on to publish a second book in 1651, his ‘Semeiotica Uranica’, or ‘An Astrological Judgement of Diseases’ set out to show how the aspect of the heavens at the time of that a person became ill and took to their sick bed could be governed, diagnosed and treated using astrology. The year 1651 saw Culpeper publish a second book ‘A Directory for Midwives; or a Guide for women in their conception, bearing and suckling of their children, etc.’ which covered the topic of midwifery, which some would think odd for a man to write about, especially one of Culpeper’s vocation of astrologer and herbalist. But given that along with his young wife Alice they had 7 children, with only one of those children surviving him it is easy to see why he so enthusiastically tackled a subject that could help keep more children alive into adulthood.

The English Physician

In 1652 Culpeper published a translation from Latin of Galen’s esteemed work the ‘Art of Physic’ which focused on the four elements of Earth, Water, Air and Fire, each element being attributed a quality Earth being cold and dry, Water cold and moist, Air hot and moist, Fire being hot and dry. In the same year Culpeper also published ‘Catastrophe Magnatum’ or in English, the Fall of Monarchy, he also wrote and published a selection of articles on the downfall of the monarchy and other subjects, but for the purposes of this article I will stick to his herbal writings.

Culpeper was extremely busy writing during 1652 and in early November he completed his book ‘The English Physitian, or an Astrologo-Physical Discourse of the Vulgar Herbs of this Nation’ which he is best known for, it was printed by Peter Cole at his printing press in Cornhill near the Royal Exchange. The original herbal was not illustrated and subsequent reprints did not carry illustrations until the late 18th century. Over the years there have been many reprints of Culpeper’s Herbal, I’m lucky to own a reprint from 1698 published by A and J Churchill printers of Pater-Noster Row, London. My 1698 copy has a different title, ‘The English Physician Enlarged; With Three Hundred Sixty and Nine Medicines Made of English Herbs, That were not in any Impression until This.’ In both the original and 1698 editions Culpeper is referred to as “Nich. Culpeper, Gent, Student in Physick and Astrology”.

In all honesty I’ve had a love/hate relationship with Culpeper, when I first got in to the world of herbs, it was one of the first herbals I acquired albeit a reprinted version from the 1980’s, as I delved more in to the world of herbs and discovered herbals, Culpeper became tarnished because he clearly used the works of Dioscorides, Gerard, Turner, Parkinson and others to put his herbal together, adding astrological slants to make those works more his own. So much so, I had rather unjustly fitted him into the plagiarist box and begun to ignore his references. Looking in to the man for this article and discovering what he stood for, how he gave herbal knowledge to the common man and made that which was a secret to anyone that couldn’t read Latin coupled with the way he would treat patients for little to no fee in the poor area of Spitalfields where he lived and I guess on a personal level for his anti-royalist ways, has me looking at Nich Culpeper in a whole new light! His herbal retailed at 3 pennies, making them more affordable to the masses, whilst books like Parkinson’s ‘Theatrum Botanicum’ cost a lot more.

The ‘English Physician Enlarged’ began with Amara Dulcis the Latin name for Bittersweet and ended with Yarrow, each herb had a description, the place it could be found growing, the time of year it could be found and its Government – by its astrological association and its virtues. As well as information on the herbs, Culpeper included information on gathering different plant parts, and preserving them, and also how to make a variety of herbal preparations including: - Compounds, Distilled Waters, Syrups, Juleps, Decoctions, Oils, Electuaries, Conserves, Preserves, Lohochs [a medicine which had a consistence somewhere between a soft electuary and a syrup], Ointments, Plaisters, Pultisses [Poultices], Troches [a lozenge, flat cake or tablet, made from a stiff paste usually of the herb, sugar and some form of mucilage, cut into portions and dried] and Pills. The final chapter gave a table of diseases listed alphabetically and listed the pages that herbs could be found to treat said disease, the contents of the 1652 English Physician are important to note as will be explained below.

In the winter of 1653 Culpeper began to suffer badly from consumption, given all the remedies you find in his book for herbs that help suffers of consumption you would have expected Culpeper to recover. Alas it wasn’t to be, having never recovered from the gunshot wound he’d taken to the chest during the Siege of Reading, the wound apparently constantly troubled him from 1646 until his death. That, and the fact that Culpeper worked himself ragged tending to the sick, dealing with the loss of 6 of his 7 children during his 14 year marriage. Studying and writing his books, battling against the medical establishment which he believed to be self-serving and monetarist, finally took its toll, ravaging Culpeper to look like a skeleton towards the end.

Nicholas Culpeper worked himself to death and into the ranks of the historical English herbalists on the 10th January 1654, dying at his home on Red Lion Street, Spitalfields, London, at the young age of 38. He was buried in the newly established graveyard of Bethlehem Hospital, later to be known as the notorious Bedlam Asylum. After Culpeper’s death a series of events occurred which put words into Culpeper’s mouth and books, as if he’d continued to write from beyond the grave! The 3rd and final part to follow.

Debs Cook is the IT Media Manager for the DHM, she is a self confessed herbaholic who loves to write about the way herbs were once used and about the herbalists that used them. You can find out more about Debs over on her Herbal haven blog.

Friday, 15 March 2019

Hawthorn with other Herbs for Blood Pressure

Photo and Article by Ann Walker
Several clinical studies on single herbs aimed at lowering raised blood pressure have failed to find an effect. But lowering raised blood pressure (hypertension) using plant medicines needs plenty of intervention, so the doses in these trials are often not high enough to be effective. Books on herbs may tell you that the herb, hawthorn, lowers high blood pressure, and indeed we found it to be so in a study that we carried out at the University of Reading. My fellow researchers and I compared an extract of hawthorn leaves and flowers with placebo in a randomised study (PMID: 16762125).

Although there was a significant drop in blood pressure compared to the placebo in our group of diabetic subjects, the drop was not large enough to make a meaningful difference for patients. To make the blood-pressure lowering effects of plant medicines more relevant to real-life situations, combinations of several herbs are usually more successful.

One research group from America put together several plant-extract supplements that had been shown individually to influence blood pressure in laboratory experiments (PMID: 26059745). They reasoned that a combination of extracts of grape seed and skin (330 mg), green tea (100 mg), resveratrol (60 mg) and a blend of quercetin, ginkgo biloba and bilberry (60 mg) would reduce blood pressure in people with high blood pressure by a realistic amount. Although this meant the study volunteers taking a lot of tablets each day, this combination did lower both systolic and diastolic pressure by useful amounts.

Herbal practitioners of different herbal traditions throughout the world use combinations of herbs for their patient’s health, rather than single herbs. As a practitioner myself, I do use hawthorn for hypertension, but always combined with other herbs. I have found that the quickest way to get blood pressure down in most patients is have a daily dose of a strong herbal tea. My usual formula is equal parts by weight of the dried herbs of hawthorn leaves and flowers, limeflowers, motherwort, mistletoe leaves and passiflora. As much as 30 g a day of this combination are usually needed as a long infusion of at least 20 minutes or even overnight and this needs to be taken for a minimum of ten days before an effect is seen.

Of course, there could also be nutrient imbalances in a person with hypertension and these needs to be addressed first. Adequate intakes of vitamin C, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D and magnesium, are needed to maintain normal blood pressure.

PMID = PubMed identifier

Ann Walker PhD, FCPP, MNIMH, RNutr
Course Director DHM
Herbal Practitioner

Friday, 8 March 2019

Nicholas Culpeper Part 1 - A Young Rebel

Article and Photo © Debs Cook
As 17th century England mourned the death of herbalist and author John Gerard in 1612, four years later a would be herbalist set to take on the Society of Apothecaries and champion the rights of the common man to be able to heal their own ills was born on the 18th October 1616.

Culpeper is often the first herbalist thought of when the 17th century is mentioned, and almost every herbal person I know owns a copy of what is considered his greatest work, the ‘English Physician’ in one form or another. Modern day herbalists still make use of many of the herbs Culpeper wrote about in his ‘English Physician and Complete Herbal’ for the same uses that Culpeper put them to and to a large extent the way Culpeper made his infusions, decoctions, ointments and poultices is the way this preparations are still made today.

Born in the village of Ockley in Surrey, his father Rev. Nicholas Culpeper, had been presented only a few months before with the living of Ockley by his family, but died at the age of 36 on the 5th October 1616 just 13 days before the birth of his only son. Shortly after his father’s death, baby Nicholas and his mother Mary were moved to live with her father, the Rev. William Attersole, a stern puritan minister of St. Margaret's church in Isfield, East Sussex. It was his grandfather that taught the young Nicholas how to read Greek and Latin, and via a collection of clocks kept by his father, Nicholas became interested in time which undoubtedly led to his interest in astrology, his grandfather also sowed the seeds of the anti-royalist that Culpeper would become as he grew up.

It was his maternal Grandmother who gave Nicholas a taste for herbs and medicinal plants, at 10 he perused his Grandmother’s copy of William Turner's ‘New Herball’ first published in 1568, and was fascinated by the illustrations of the plants. His grandmother also owned a copy of ‘Gerard’s Herbal’ which the young Culpeper read enthusiastically, taking what he read along with the knowledge given to him by his grandmother to discover the wild herbs growing around Sussex. His grandfather was not happy to let Nicholas have free reign to read anything he desired and when Nicholas was 13 he forbade him to read anything but the bible. Nicholas being the rebel that he was, is known to have taken books out of his Grandfather’s library to read elsewhere, one such book was ‘Anatomy of Man's Body’ by Thomas Vicary, who was the barber-surgeon to king Henry VIII, from this book we can surmise that young Culpeper became fascinated by the descriptions of the sexual organs and human reproduction which eventually influenced his book ‘Directory for Midwives’, published in 1651.

At the age of 16, Culpeper was sent away to Cambridge University to study theology, his grandparents had decided it was time that Nicholas followed in his father and grandfathers footsteps and become a minister. Young master Nicholas had other ideas, and he began to supplement his study of the classics, and thus broadening his education by attending lectures on anatomy and the ‘Materia Medica’ of Galen and Hippocrates.

Whilst at Cambridge, Culpeper, met and fell in love with Judith Rivers a well to do heiress, the feeling was mutual but the couple knew that Judith’s family would never agree to the pair being married, so they decided to run away together in the summer of 1634. They were due to meet at a Tavern in Lewes, Culpeper got there first and waited, but Judith never arrived, some tales say there was a storm and that Judith was so terrified she died of fright. The truth is that on the way to meet Culpeper, the coach she travelled in was struck by lightening and she was killed instantly.

Judith’s death had a profound effect on Culpeper, who by all accounts already hated his theological studies and was becoming increasingly frustrated that he couldn’t study to be a doctor. When Judith died, Culpeper, in deep shock, was taken back home to his mother in Isfield, she nursed him back to health. When he was fully recovered Culpeper refused to go back to Cambridge to resume his theological studies and was subsequently cut off by his Grandfather, losing his only means of financial support, and was forbidden to see his mother, as a result of being deprived interaction with her son, Mary Culpeper sunk in to a deep depression and died when Nicholas was 23, she was 54 years of age.

Having to make his own way after being disinherited by the Culpeper’s, Nicholas decided that if he couldn’t go to University to study to be a physician, he would become an apothecary instead and was apprenticed to a Mr. White who ran an apothecary shop in Temple Bar, London. Just 18 months after his apprenticeship began, Mr White went bankrupt and fled England for Ireland and the business closed, forcing Nicholas to seek another employer. He was successful and shortly after he became apprenticed to the apothecary Francis Drake, who owned a shop in Threadneedle Street, Bishopsgate. Having no means to pay for his apprenticeship, Culpeper is known to have struck a bargain with Drake to teach him Latin in exchange for Drake teaching him all he knew about the apothecary trade.

Culpeper joined Drake’s other apprentice, a Samuel Leadbetter and the two became firm friends, part of the training that Drake gave Culpeper included accompanying Thomas Johnson - the man who would later in Culpeper’s lifetime edit and enlarge Gerard’s Herbal in 1633 - on walks to identify and collect local herbs to be used to make remedies in Drake’s apothecary shop.

Culpeper proved to be a willing, able and dedicated student, learning all that he needed about Materia Medica and the apothecary practice and when Drake died in 1639, Leadbetter continued his training until 1640 when he became a fully licensed apothecary and took over the running of Drake’s shop. Culpeper was sent to train with Mr. Higgins, a warden of the Society of Apothecaries, but never finished his apprenticeship instead he joined Leadbetter running the shop of their old master. The two worked together until sometime in 1644, Culpeper had begun to treat patients and was in effect practising as an unlicenced physician, Leadbetter received two warnings from the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries, and the final warning instructed him “not to employ Culpeper in the making or administering of any medicine who promised to obey the same”, so Leadbetter decided to terminate Culpeper from his employ.

Back to 1640 and Culpeper met another heiress named Alice Field whilst treating her father for  gouty arthritis, he then married her, he was 24 and she just 15 years of age and had inherited a rather sizeable fortune, at the time apothecary apprentices were forbidden to marry, so this action angered the Society of Apothecaries and prevented him from being able to complete his training. He made many enemies amongst the Society of Apothecaries and the College of Physicians over the years, so much so, in December of 1642 Culpeper was imprisoned and tried for practising witchcraft, an offence punishable by death in the mid-17th century. To Culpeper’s great relief he was found not guilty and acquitted of all charges.

Using the money he acquired by marrying Alice, Culpeper built a house in Spitalfields on Red Lion Street, and being outside of the City of London, Culpeper wasn’t governed by the rules set out by the College of Physicians, although his practice was only semi-legal, Culpeper became a sought after herbalist and astrologer and is said to have treated as many as 40 patients a day. By now Culpeper was getting a reputation as an outspoken atheist and he also began to display anti-royalist tendencies publicly and in 1642 he joined in the civil war fighting for the Parliamentarians at the battle of Edgehill. Part 2 to follow.

Debs Cook is the IT Media Manager for the DHM, she is a self confessed herbaholic who loves to write about the way herbs were once used and about the herbalists that used them. You can find out more about Debs over on her Herbal haven blog.

Friday, 1 March 2019

Herbal Focus: Lungwort

Article and Photo Ⓒ Debs Cook
As we travel from Winter to Spring there are new signs of herbal life appearing in my garden, and one of the first herbs to make an appearance this early in the year after the Witch-hazel, is Lungwort also known as Pulmonaria, a name derived from the Latin word ‘pulmo’ which means lung. Lungwort is a member of the borage (boraginaceae) family, and thrives in shady and damp parts of the garden and, indeed, prefers such conditions to dry and sunny ones. It also loves chalky soil and makes a useful ground cover plant.

Depending on variety, Lungwort ranges in height from 15 - 40cm with a spread of 45 - 60cm. It has five-petaled flowers that extend in clusters as short bells from the green, hairy bracts and stems. Lungwort has creeping rhizome's that can help it to spread. The leaves, which are pointed ovals and in some cases thin (similar to the leaves of plantain), range in colour from plain green, through a whole host of greens with spots, blotches and smudges of white, cream and silvery grey. The colours of the flowers range from pure white through to shades of red, pink, violet and a full range of blues and there are around 14 species and over 150 different cultivars of Pulmonaria grown around the world.

Lungwort had a variety of folk names, including Herb of Mary, Soldiers and Sailors, Jerusalem Cowslip, Spotted Dog, Joseph and Mary and Bethlehem Sage. In the past, many wild flowers and herbs were associated with the Virgin Mary and St. Bridget, and all of them were worn or used as a protection against witches and evil spirits, lungwort was said to be used as proof for revealing if a person was a witch as well as for providing protection from them.

Lungwort was also called Mary's Tears because the white spots on the leaves resembled tear stains, and the changing colour of the flowers from pink to blue were believed to represent blue eyes becoming reddened from weeping.

Historically speaking, lungwort has been used for centuries to cure a variety of ailments, from 1348-1350 the 'Black Death' also known as the Bubonic Plague swept through Europe killing an estimated 4.2 million people in England alone. Lungwort was one of the herbs used alongside wormwood in attempts to cure the plague in Europe.

In (1493-1541) Paracelsus listed the herb in his Doctrine of Signatures, and in much the same way as Goldenrod was said to cure jaundice due to its yellow colouring, lungwort was said to cure pulmonary disease because the spotted leaves resembled diseased lungs. Lungwort became more widely used in Europe during the 16th and 17th centuries for treating diseases of the breast and lungs. In England in the 17th century lungwort became known as Jerusalem Cowslip and was held in high regard as a treatment for asthma and bronchial complaints.

Anybody reading Culpeper's Complete Herbal can be forgiven for being a little confused when they read his account of Lungwort "Lungwort is a kind of moss that groweth on sundry sorts of trees, especially oaks and beeches, with broad, greyish, tough leaves diversely folded, crumpled, and gashed in on the edges, and some spotted also with many small spots on the upper side. It was never seen to bear any stalk or flower at any time." Although Culpeper does state that the lungwort he refers to is useful for treating diseases of the lungs and for coughs and wheezing, he was in fact referring to Lungmoss (Lobaria pulmonaria), a lichen which often gets referred to as Lungwort in older publications, rather than P. officinalis.

Culpeper’s Lungwort description was continued by many including Maude Grieve, who in her 1931 book ‘A Modern Herbal’ when describing lungwort, gave the Latin name for Lungmoss which was then known as Sticta pulmonaria, alongside the botanical description for lungwort, the borage family member we see pictured above. Grieve added that the lungwort sold by 1930’s druggists was in fact Lung Moss which she also referred to by another of its common names of Oak Lungs. From then on, the two herbs have been incorrectly melded together despite being different plants from different plant families.

Medicinally only the leaves of lungwort were used, they are astringent and have been used to help staunch bleeding and as poultices. The leaves were also made into preparations that often included liquorice, mugwort, cowslip, coltsfoot or aniseed amongst their ingredients, the remedies were used primarily as an expectorant, to relieve congestion and ease sore throats.

Lungwort leaves contain saponins, allantoins, silica, flavonoids, tannins, vitamin C and mucilage. In the 19th and 20th centuries, physicians used Lungwort to treat cases of lung diseases, such as tuberculosis, asthma and coughs. The success of lungwort in treating these conditions may have been due to the fact that lungwort contains natural antibiotic components which can act against bacteria. The silica and allantoin content of lungwort may also be the reason the herb was recommended for its wound healing properties and for use externally for treating eczema, haemorrhoids, varicose veins, wounds and burns. The leaves are astringent and have been used to help staunch bleeding.

In medieval times, the young tender leaves were a popular pot herb for adding to stews and savoury dishes, although the hairy nature of the leaves was not liked by everyone and older leaves were very rarely eaten as the older the leaf got, the coarser the hairs became. Lungwort was used by ancient gardeners to help keep slug and snail populations down, in the belief that the little molluscs did not like the hairy foliage, but it is more likely that they avoid the toxic alkaloids and saponins that are present in the plant.

Externally, a decoction of the leaves or a tincture can be added to salves, balms and ointments, to soothe skin conditions such as eczema and ulcers, it can also be used in creams to bring relief from haemorrhoids and can help reduce inflammation on skin wounds and minor burns. Caution: It is now known that lungwort, like one of its sister plants in the borage family, comfrey (Symphytum officinale), contains toxic pyrrolizidin alkaloids, so taking this herb internally without medical supervision is not recommended. It is also not advised to take this herb over a long period of time or if you are pregnant or a nursing mother.

Caution: It is now known that lungwort, like one of its sister plants in the borage family, comfrey (Symphytum officinale), contains toxic pyrrolizidin alkaloids, so taking this herb internally without medical supervision is not recommended. It is also not advised to take this herb over a long period of time or if you are pregnant or a nursing mother.

Debs Cook is the DHM web manager and our resident Herbal Historian, you can read more of her articles over on her Herbal Haven blog.

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to source the most up to date and accurate information, we cannot guarantee that remedies in our articles are effective, when in doubt, consult your GP or a qualified Medicinal Herbalist. Remember also that herbal remedies can be dangerous under certain circumstances therefore you should always seek medical advice before self-treating with a homemade remedy, especially if you are pregnant, breast feeding or suffer from any known illness which could be adversely affected by self-treatment.