It’s hayfever time again. You can have allergic reactions at any time of year, but grass and other pollens are definitely one of the most common things to set us off. Anything from itchy eyes and a runny nose to a full-blown asthma attack can result.
Photo copyright Twinings
You might think that one herb tea is very much like another, but you could be missing out on their potential to improve your wellbeing.
A friend walking along a high ridge. Photo copyright Cathie Hartigan
Walking on high ground, as I did this week, takes you back in time. There were sweet violets, newly sprouting nettles in the shelter of walls, brave low-growing dandelions and wind-sculpted hawthorn trees just coming into leaf.
Photo copyright D & S Books
The cool wet spring has given us a bumper crop of goosegrass this year. You might know it as cleavers, or sticky willie, from its habit of sticking to clothes or animal fur.
The sap is rising at last, and the Easter feasting is over. Now is the time to do a bit of spring cleaning, or detox, or simply to freshen up your diet.
February was a bad time for me health-wise. I was already suffering from a tight chest and a virus that wouldn’t surrender; giving me the lung capacity of a punctured bicycle tyre.
Herbs are not much good at pain relief. That’s to say, really powerful analgesic herbs, like the Opium Poppy, are not legally available in the UK.
Magnolia, in its many forms from the low-growing stars of Magnolia stellata to the delicate goblets of Magnolia liliflora, is gracing our gardens right now.
Yes, I may have mentioned sugar once or twice before. No apologies for that; it’s taken centre stage in the last few years as the pantomime villain in the greathealth drama. Like the witch in Hansel and Gretel, it seduces you with sweetness, fattens you up and then, suddenly, you’re the one being devoured.
‘I’m a bit sceptical about this sort of stuff,’ said my new patient, leaning back in his chair. His wife had persuaded him to come, and it was obvious that winning points in the marital game was going to be far more powerful than anything the herbs could do.
Patients sometimes ring me up to say, ‘I had to take antibiotics for my bronchitis/cystitis/infection of some sort, so I stopped taking the herbs for a while.’
Entering your fifties marks the beginning of the stage in your life when you are likely to have more free time for hobbies, travel, family and friends.
The latest in the Mature Guide series the Mature Guide to relationships, love and sex is supported by Relate, the relationship people and written with Barbara Bloomfield, who is a Relate couples counsellor with 15 years of experience in the counselling field.
I’ve had a succession of patients recently – including myself – asking for remedies for the flu/sore throat/cold that’s been going the rounds. Quite often they say, ‘But I take Echinacea regularly,’ or ‘I’ve been taking vitamin C for months,’ as though that should make them immune to infections.
Photo reproduced with permission from www.arganiaspinosa.co.uk
‘You should put Argan oil on your hair,’ the hairdresser said. When I asked what it was, he said ‘Oh, I don’t know. They take thousands of Argans and squash them all together. It’s a very good moisturiser.’
Let’s give Flatcap credit where it’s due. He doesn’t let disappointment and failure stand in his way.
Okay we are about to do a guided meditation, so find somewhere quiet and comfortable to sit or lie, where you can relax without disturbance.
When you're settled, take three slow deep breaths. In through your nose and out through your mouth...
Liniments and embrocations, salves and ointments…all different kinds of vehicles for herbs that ease rheumatic aches and pains.
Following on from the post on pregnancy two weeks ago, this one looks at what you can do to ensure a good labour when the time comes. Again, do consult a professional herbalist if there are any complicating factors to consider.
Some can diet, but I’ve found most can’t, and worse than that, WHEN they can’t, they fail spectacularly. Why? Because of the psychology of dieting. And Freedom Eating helps to sort that out.
Sunday was National Bug Busting Day, apparently. The aim is to make a concerted effort to eradicate headlice, which have been endemic among schoolchildren since schools were invented, and in the general population for a lot longer than that.
Well, January is finished – hurray we survived – it's time to seriously consider how to get healthy again after the Christmas indulgences, isn't it?
While you’re pregnant, it’s best to avoid drugs altogether if you can. Even painkillers like paracetamol could pose some risks, so there’s plenty of scope for the gentler, more food-like herbs to get to work. While some herbs are not recommended, there is still a wealth of choice.
It’s not going to happen. Without any formal announcement, the issue was quietly dropped by the government just before Christmas. It’s a bitter disappointment to herbalists who have spent years campaigning and planning for it, but in some ways it’s not a surprise.
When my sons lived at home, they used to make smoothies. I have to confess I have never made one. I have bought smoothies, but they are all so sweet that I stopped buying them.
Crumbs! In 2016 I’ll be three score years and ten. I hope the bible’s wrong about all that! Nevertheless, I’d better get my affairs in order. What have I got to achieve in 2016 to ensure, pearly-gateswise, that I leave no unfinished business?
On the eve of the shortest day in the year, facing a long winter ahead, we need to bring light and warmth into our lives. That’s why Christmas comes now, overlying the older solstice celebrations.
Hearing loss can affect every aspect of your life, especially the things that are most important to you such as relationships with family, friends or work colleagues. Emotionally, physically and mentally, untreated hearing loss places stress on you that can impact negatively on all these areas of your life. Here are five things you may not know about hearing...*
You’ve read about St John’s Wort for depression, or Turmeric for inflammation. If you’ve looked a little deeper, you’ll find a lot of supplements that are standardised for a particular ingredient: hypericin in St John’s Wort, or curcumin in Turmeric, and so on.
Now is the time to gather rose hips, before the first hard frost – if it ever comes – turns them into mush. Garden rosehips won’t do; it’s the wild dog rose, Rosa canina, that makes the best syrup. You can make a tincture of them, too, but syrups and jellies are the traditional ways to use them.
It was Antibiotics Awareness Week from 16th – 22nd November. The World Health Organisation has set this up because of the urgent need to limit their use, so that we still have effective antibiotics when we really need them.
The more research we do, the more evidence we uncover that auto-immune responses are at play in most of our serious degenerative illnesses.
It’s beginning to be the time for warming, comforting, substantial food: casseroles and stews, hearty soups and roasts. Although we don’t hibernate, we still respond to shortening days and colder weather, feeling the need to store some fat to tide us over the leaner months to come.
When I first started learning about complementary medicine, I was working as a masseuse in a naturopathic clinic. Naturopathy places a lot of emphasis on the benefits of getting back to nature: fresh air, exercise, drinking water and eating raw food are seen as basic to good health.
Even with hectic lives and miles between us, 3rings can bring the family together to let them know our ageing parents and loved ones are safe and well.
When someone comes to see me, I always ask what supplements they are taking. The world of ‘nutraceuticals’ is huge, and growing all the time, fed by people’s vulnerability and the sense that, whatever we do to look after ourselves, it’s never quite good enough.
‘I bought these pills to help you sleep’, the patient said. ‘What do you reckon?’
As a physiotherapist I have worked a lot with families facing the reality of functional decline. When I worked in hospital I thought I understood it but now I work out in the community in people’s own homes I have been educated!
I had lunch with a friend this week, and was admiring the lovely bank of catnip (Nepeta cataria), in full late bloom and humming with insects. It’s a beautiful thing, though if you have cats it will be loved to pieces before it gets the chance to flower. And it does have its uses for humans too.
Have you heard of FODMAPS? It stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols, and if you’ve zoned out already, that’s one reason why someone needs to give it a snappier name if they want to make a fortune out of it.
I've always seen my self as being a bit like a cork on water going through life – bobbing about here, bobbing about there, going with the flow.
It’s definitely autumn all of a sudden. In traditional medicine, you can predict that people are more likely to be ill in spring and autumn; it’s as though the change in the air stirs things up inside you.
The Spirituality of Age: A Seeker’s Guide to Growing Older Co-Authors Robert L. Weber, Ph.D. and Carol Orsborn, Ph.D.
Thank you so much for giving Bob and I this opportunity to share our book with your community. In a youth-centric society that privileges the young and reviles ageing, it’s no surprise that so many of us have been understandably challenged by the notion of growing old. Given who you all are, you will also find it as no surprise that there are many of us who are not only meeting but exceeding the challenges ageing brings our way.
A walk along a Gloucestershire hedgerow this week yielded ripe blackberries, clusters of elderberries, and hips and haws already turning red.
‘Blackbird singing in the dead of night, take these broken wings and learn to fly. All your life, you were only waiting for this moment to arise’. Written by Paul McCartney and John Lennon and sang by Paul McCartney on the Beatles White Album in 1968.
What do you do when you’ve got a headache? Take a painkiller, probably. But what if you had three or four headaches a week?
‘I just want it to go away,’ said my sixteen-year old patient. Her mother had brought her because, after the intense pressure of taking ten GCSEs – and she did very well – she had collapsed, and acquired the label of ‘chronic fatigue’. The doctor had offered anti-depressants, which she refused.
I’ve had a series of patients lately who are going through big transitions: moving house, changing jobs, ending a marriage. Even if the change is a positive one, it is a stressful business; and too many changes at once can be paralysing.
Kew Gardens is having a spice festival,from now until September. Check out http://www.kew.org/visit-kew-gardens/whats-on/full-of-spice.
A walk on the Cornish cliffs yielded a wealth of treasure this week; not the kind they used to smuggle in under cover of darkness, but lying around in broad daylight for anyone to enjoy.
‘How come tea is more refreshing than water when you’re hot and thirsty?’ The team headed back out onto the pitch without waiting for an answer. All cricketers know the truth of this, even if they don’t know why. No-one drinks coffee at teatime; it’s just not cricket.
I took a small group of people on a ‘herb walk’ this week, and invited them to pick some leaves or flowers from any of the plants that ‘spoke’ to them. It’s a common complaint that, when you read a book, you find that all the herbs have a long list of uses, and you end up no wiser than before. What will work best for you?
‘I can’t keep still,’ my patient said. ‘Cant’ sleep, can’t eat, can’t concentrate!’ Her thyroid gland was overactive, and everything was speeding up.
Is it just a fad, to make the plate look pretty? Well, it certainly does that, but it can do a lot more besides. Lots of flowers are edible, but some just wouldn’t taste right – lavender and lettuce, anyone? – and others are the wrong size, shape or texture. That said, there’s plenty of scope.
"Tilia insularis 3" by Stan Shebs. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons
The lime trees are in full bloom now, humming with insects and full of heavenly scent. On the continent, limeflower tea – Tilleul in France, Linden in Germany – is highly prized, and yet here you’ll rarely find it among the prepackaged herb teas in the shops. It’s a shame, because it’s one of the best-tasting herb teas, and its virtues are many.
Here’s my hot tip for the next superfood: blackcurrants. Forget about blueberries imported from Chile during the winter; blackcurrants are tastier, and just as rich in anthocyanins (the deep blue colour that’s a potent antioxidant) and vitamin C.
Yes, I’ve blogged about this before, but the annual misery of hay fever is on the rise, and there are ways of treating it that don’t involve stunning yourself with antihistamines or hiding indoors in a darkened room. And this is one area where the herbs, if you take them consistently, really do change things for the better.
It’s a recurrent theme, but it seems to surface particularly in spring (and in autumn and at Christmas), when things are in a state of flux, and your energy may be low after the winter.
If you or a loved one have a disability or a long-term illness, you’ll no doubt know that certain helpful products and services can be purchased VAT free. Items such as adjustable beds, stair lifts and wheelchairs all qualify as does building work such as installing ramps or widening doors. But did you know that they can also claim VAT relief on specialist footwear?
It’s that time of year again…the pleas for help come in from students, A level and GCSE sitters, and a few ‘mature students’ doing postgrad work or doctorates, or even taking a degree for the first time.
It really does get earlier every year, though if you have cast your clouts in the last few days, you’ll be putting them back on again as the temperature falls.
There are herbs that will never get their fifteen minutes of fame. They are here around us, common as muck, invisible because you see them every day.
If you have lesser celandine in your garden, you probably have to dig it out from time to time, and you’ll know why one of its common names is ‘pilewort’.
Photo courtesy of www.rica.org.uk
Did you know that to ride around on a mobility scooter you don’t need to pass a test of any sort and that even people who are registered blind are legally entitled to use them? As someone who has used a scooter for fifteen years I find that terrifying.
By Malun112 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Everyone gets this sort of injury from time to time; you can turn your ankle just walking down the street, or pull a muscle turning around. Sometimes, if you can’t rest it or you don’t look after it, the injury becomes chronically inflamed. But there is a lot you can do to stop that from happening, and to help it heal as best it can.
Right now, Devon is full of primroses. The common primrose, Primula vulgaris, is one of those early spring flowers, like sweet violet and coltsfoot, that have a particular virtue in soothing coughs and sore throats.
My husband suffers from an itchy scalp and is prone to eczema, while my daughter is fast developing teenage spots. We recently discovered the Sea-Med™ range, which is really helping both of them - and I like using it too because it's so pure! I thought readers might be interested to hear about it.
I'm just back from a seminar about the latest research into cancer treatments, and how herbs can help support people through them. The common side-effects of chemo and radiotherapy are well known, and we are learning more all the time about how herbs can be used alongside them.
'My daughter's got headlice. Can I get rid of them without using the chemicals?' Headlice are pretty much endemic in primary schools, and threadworms crop up from time to time as well.
The world it seems has rediscovered one of nature's great natural miracles: lovely, sweet, sticky honey! In the UK too, sales of honey are going up, up and away with Waitrose, for example, reporting that sales of honey overtook sales of jam for the first time ever in 2014.
The idea of an annual fast, a partial withdrawal from the pleasures of the world, is a very old one. In the Christian tradition, it's happening now, in the run-up to Easter, and people usually give up some of the richer foods and drinks. But – at least in Britain – we've lost part of its meaning.
Spring has come tumbling in after the endless wind and rain, and lots of things are appearing all at once. New fresh goosegrass, nettle tops, chickweed in sheltered places. Sweet violets are still about, if you know where to look, and primroses are well under way.
'You should take fish oils if you've got arthritis/period problems/menopause symptoms.' The list goes on, and you hear it from friends and see it in all the health advice. But what if they upset your stomach or give you heartburn? I've seen a lot of people who give up on the oils because of digestive problems, and it's a shame. But there are solutions.
My parents first realised that I had a sight problem when I was about three years old. Finding my way around in dimly lit rooms or out and about after dusk was a real struggle for me.
This week Su is sharing her tips for coping with the flu vaccine. 'The flu jabs don't work!' Or words to that effect, front page headlines in more than one daily paper.
Sometimes surgery is the best solution to a medical problem. We should always weigh up all the options first, because of course there are risks, but once the decision is made, there is plenty we can do to bring about a good outcome and swift healing.
I thought Oapschat followers would be interested to hear about a new, natural anti-inflammatory, clinically proven to help alleviate arthritis pain, aching joints and injuries to muscles and tendons, without any side effects!
Hi Debbie and welcome back to Oapschat! Today we are talking abou TTFLS and other diet issues at the top of our agendas at this time of year, post-Christmas, pre-holiday!
For sale, Tunstall Lifeline Care Alarm, complete with pendant.
Winter Bugs - Herbs like Yarrow, Echinacea, Elderflower, Garlic and Marigold can help see you through
Do you use alternative treatments such as herbs for various ailments? I am delighted to welcome our newest contributor, Su Bristow. Su is a registered Herbalist and will be sharing her blogs with us and is happy to answer any questions you may have via email. I'm sure you will enjoy reading her posts!
It's that time of year again when wherever we look we're accosted by health and fitness slogans – join a gym, start running, take up a sport.
About six months ago, my husband, Colin, stunned me when he said he was finding it difficult to climb stairs. As we live on the first floor of an apartment block, I could see that this could be a problem – if not so great at the moment – certainly in the future.
As Oapschat followers will know, I’m always on the look out for genuinely stylish footwear for swollen feet.
A mobility scooter can vastly improve an individual's quality of life by increasing their independence and providing them with the opportunity to rediscover their freedom outdoors.
If you or a loved-one suffer with Arthritis or joint pain then read on. Here's a clever solution that's worth considering. I've been reading up on Copper: a nutrient known to have anti-inflammatory properties in the body. Many people wear copper bracelets to help ease arthritis, but have you ever thought of wearing copper in your shoes?
Keeping our toenails neat and our underfoot callouses under control is something we take for granted when we're relatively young and able bodied. As Age UK's Foot Care Coordinator for Chorley, West Lancs and Sefton, I work with people who can no longer undertake their own basic foot care independently.
Photograph copyright The Ramblers/Walking for Health/Paul Glendell
The Walking for Health Scheme was the brainchild of Doctor Bird who was a GP in Berkshire. He felt strongly that so many of his patients could enjoy better health if only they took more exercise.
Being a regular jogger, I'm used to being active. So you can imagine my horror when a recent fall resulted in a swollen and painful ankle. A trip to my GP confirmed my worst fears, a torn ligament and a horrific prescription of no running for 6-8 weeks! Aside from being in pain, I was gutted that I wouldn't be able to throw on my running shoes and hit the road. So, leg aloft, I scoured the Internet looking for alternative exercises I could do during recovery. The activity which came up time and time again was simple – walking.
Does the sight of your feet make you cringe? Are you embarrassed by your dry, cracked heels? Don't worry – there are lots of us out there! Feet are a subject close to my heart. Here's what I've learnt over the years about how to deal with cracked heels.
TGA Mobility is a family business that prides itself on its quality products and high standards of customer service. We've been in the mobility business for more than 25 years and have an established reputation for innovation and durability. All our products comply with stringent Government regulations and are tested by our engineers for quality, reliability and safety.
Not a difficult question for me to answer. Although this may sound strange, I have always wanted to look after people.