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Conkers Su B

I’m looking out at Exeter Cathedral Green on a fine autumn day.

From here, you can’t see the sad wreckage of the Royal Clarence hotel, just the majestic horse chestnut tree that stands to one side of the cathedral itself, slowly shedding its leaves and conkers on the grass.

It’s an interesting herb, horse chestnut.

Nowadays we use it for just one thing, and always in conjunction with other herbs. The conkers contain tannins, which help to tonify the walls of blood vessels, and this is particularly useful in treating varicose veins. It works well when combined with herbs like hawthorn, limeflowers or yarrow to improve the circulation, and some digestive herbs like chamomile or lemon balm.

Taken in short bursts of no more than six weeks or so, horse chestnut will help to prevent varicose veins from getting worse, and improve the state of your circulation generally. Putting your feet up regularly will help, too, and treating your legs to a cold splash after a hot shower or bath will make a huge difference.

I know it doesn’t sound like fun, but try it and see.

EDITOR: Su has an excellent Herb Handbook available to buy directly from her website or from Amazon.

Meet The Author...
Su Bristow
Who Am I?
I studied at the School of Herbal Medicine for four years, and qualified in 1989, becoming a member of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists ( The road to herbal medicine led from my early interest in organic gardening and healthy eating, through the study of social and physical anthropology at Cambridge, where I specialised in medical anthropology. What fascinated me was how people deal with their health problems when they have only the natural resources around them, and their own ingenuity. I went on to learn massage and reflexology, and worked at a residential naturopathic clinic, where I learned about the use of diet and other natural ways of healing. After qualifying as a herbalist, I set up practice in mid-Devon. Since then I have continued to expand my expertise, with counselling skills, first aid, and knowledge of the Chinese and Ayurvedic systems of herbal medicine. Besides one-to-one consultation, I have also taught evening classes, students of the Westcountry Massage Association, and various private courses.
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