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Su Bristow Heath

The NHS designated 14th-20th November as National Self-Care Week.

There have been a lot of headlines recently about unnecessary interventions, and visits to the doctor that could have been avoided. But really, self-care starts a lot further back than that.

Obviously, it means keeping your lifestyle as healthy as possible, eating well, managing stress, getting enough sleep and so on and so forth. But it also means taking responsibility for your own health. And, if you are a parent, for the health of your children. It means holding your nerve when they run a fever or break out in a rash, and not going straight to the doctor. Most illnesses are self-limiting and simply need to run their course, and viral infections are not treatable with drugs in any case.

What they need is good nursing: go to bed, let the fever do its work of waking up your immune system, and take remedies that support that process. Garlic and onions, elderflower and marigold, thyme and liquorice and mullein, all help to deter infection without getting in the way of your body’s own defence system.

If the fever runs too high or for too long, use cold sponging, together with herbs like catnip or yarrow, to bring it down. Give it a few days before consulting a doctor; usually by that time, things will have started to improve. And don’t be tempted to look on the net, where you’ll find all sorts of unlikely diagnoses that will scare you to death. Common things are common!

Of course, this doesn’t mean ignoring illness and carrying on regardless. It means taking appropriate action, and not treating it as a huge crisis.

Your children will learn from you how to respond to illness, and if what they learn is that it is simply part of life, you will be giving them a lifelong gift.

EDITOR: Su has an excellent Herb Handbook that can be purchased 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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