Anxious Herbs

Anxiety is another issue I have struggled with. There are a myriad of medical descriptions of what anxiety, ‘mediacally looks like’. I am not going to focus on that too much, the NHS has a good general information page on this if you would like to know about it further. Essentially what anxiety boils down to is a fear of fear itself. A vicious cycle which once you are in it, it’s very hard to break. Several years ago I was given a book on Anxiety and Panic by Dr. Claire Weaks. This literally transformed my life. Once I understood what was happening, I could begin to live with it and maybe one day control it. I am not afraid.

Accepting troubles

Since then I have also been storing up some herbal wisdom to help with anxiety and stress. These are my top tips:

1) The trusty Bach Rescue Remedy. As you drop it on your tongue breath in for 7….and out for 11. A neat rhyme and very soothing.

2) Valerian Root. Used for centuries as a cure for insomnia. A tea at the end of the day or after a stressful event is wondrous.

3)Kava. I first had this in Fiji several years ago. It’s hard to get hold of here in the UK and if you find it , it tends to be in ‘party packs’. If anyone knows of a wholefood store stocking it please let me know!

4) Passion Flower. In tea and tinctures. Traditionally used after seizures to calm the body. It is in most ‘calming teas’.

5)Hops, in a tea mixed with passion flower and valerian.

6) Lavender. Helps breathing, encourages rest and sleep and contains anti-bacterial properties. It is commonly used in aromatherapy for stress.

7) Catnip, stimulates the nervous system, balances the mind and encourages rest.

Finally, for any herbalists reading this I am sure many people would wonder why I have left Chamomile out. Chamomile is lovely and many people use it regularly, but I find it gives me a headache. I don’t know why- if anyone has any theories I’d love to know more about it!

Herbal helpers


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Taking Charge

I was more than a little sceptical about the healing powers of Amber. It made some sense that it contains succinic acid, the same ingredient used in ibuprofen and therefore holds the potential to act in a similar way. The basis for my scepticism was the fact that Amber is a substance that has lain on the earth for countless Milena, it has been subject to immense heat and power, rolled through glaciers and pummelled by tsunami’s, with that in mind what difference would its proximity to my skin have on its ability to release succinic acid?

Despite this I decided to treat myself too a raw Baltic Amber bracelet. It is a beautiful thing and we all deserve some beauty! Since it’s arrival I have worn in night and day for the past two weeks. In the shower I soak it in the warm water and use it to massage my spine, in the water the amber becomes much softer, feeling almost pliable and holds alot of heat.

I have been TOTALLY STUNNED with the results! From almost the moment I started wearing it I have generally been feeling much better. Showers have been easier, the watery amber incredibly soothing, I have slept better. The pain is less intense and I haven’t had any petit-mal for a while either!

Perhaps it is merely a Placebo, but as I had such little faith in it and was so skeptical I find that hard to believe. I have been ‘resting’ continuously for over a month now, so I am sure that’s contributing. I have also been Oil Pulling for several weeks now too and I think that must be helping too. At the end of the day, even if it’s a placebo, if it works, as it seems to be, who cares?!

My point in this blog post is to illustrate the fact that I believe that there are four things which are currently contributing the most to my health:

  1. Food –  sources of: iron, omega-3, vitamin c, magnesium
  2. Amber
  3. Oil Pulling
  4. Rest

All of these are things which I have researched myself. It is true that Doctors have mentioned Rest to me in passing, as an after thought, no one has come up with any ideas on what this might look like or what exactly Rest means, that is something I’ve done myself. It is an empowering thought that I have taken charge of my own health in this way. I am in charge of my life, my body, I have not sat back and taken advice only from The Pharmaceutical Experts. No one can know your body like you do.

I hope my blog will inspire others to be less skeptical, to try things that consultant’s don’t tell them about and mostly to LISTEN to themselves. When you find something that works for you, celebrate it, cherish it. It is an amazing accomplishment!

Sit, be sill and listen. Rumi.

Sit, be sill and listen. Rumi.



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Herbs for Health

In my continuing search for a healthier, painfree body. I have come across lots of herbs that consultants again don’t tell you about  and I thought I’d share a few of the best here.

I think it is so sad and somewhat alarming that we have largely lost this ancient knowledge of plants. That if we are sick we lie prone, starring into the faceless pharmaceutical companies as if they will certainly save us. Before the days of the NHS, people couldn’t afford ‘ready-made’ medicine, healing herby knowledge was passed down, often mother to daughter. People managed well enough. I think children should be taught these things, what happens when the pharmacies shut their doors? Will people know where to look for Willow Bark? and once found, what to do with it? I hardly do, but I at least want to learn.

Herbal heals


A one stop shop for herbs: 55 Best Herbal Remedies – of note to me is the Papaya for back pain.

Not really a herb… but Magnesium is something I’ve been reading more and more about in helping deal with debilitating pain. It is the 11th most abundant element by mass in the human body and is considered essential to all cells of every known living organisms! Natural magnesium in soil is being depleted, due to over farming and pesticides which kill the microorganisms in the soil and intereupt the creation of magnesium in our food. As well as eating foods containing magnesium, we can also absorb it through our skin. The Ocean is another source of magnesium and trace minerals, so swimming in the sea (if you’re brace in the UK) has huge health benefits!

All these herbs and minerals are all very well, but unless you are a very skilled forager, with time, knowledge and energy to look for them, it is likely you will head to a Health Store or Herbalist to buy them, probably at vast expense as the NHS does not provide access to remedies. Therefore, as well as looking for info on the remedies themselves I am also keen to find wasy to make them myself or access them.

I came across a great blog on how to make your own Magnesium Oil by WellnessMama 

Here are her steps- I can’t wait to try it!

What you need:

  •  1/2 cup Magnesium Chloride Flakes
  • 1/2 cup distilled water
  • a glass bowl or glass measuring cup
  • A glass spray bottle (plastic will work too)

What to do:

Boil the distilled water. It is important to use distilled to extend the shelf life of the mixture. Put the Magnesium Chloride Flakes in the glass bowl or measuring cup and the pour the bowling water over it.

Stir well until completely dissolved. Let cool completely and store in the spray bottle. Can be stored at room temperature for at least six months. I keep in my bathroom to use daily.

To Use:

Spray on arms, legs and stomach daily. I use 10-20 sprays per day. It will tingle on the skin the first few times it is used, and this is normal. It should fade after a few applications, but you can dilute with more water if it bothers you too much.

You can leave on the skin or wash off after 20-30 minutes. I usually apply after a shower and then use coconut oil or a lotion bar to moisturize about 5 minutes later.

Infact I think I have a bit of Blog-Crush – a BLUSH on WellnessMama! There are a host of natural remedies there and awesome pain relieving ideas. Check out the Pain Relief Lotion Bars! Think I’ll be making some of those too!


credit: Wellness Mama


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“Let your food be your medicine.”

Living with daily doses of heavy synthetic medications I have a heightened awareness of everything else which I put into my body and am always on the look out for ‘Alternative’ and less aggressive

Learning to manage my new back condition I have been un-surprised to find that Neuro-suregeons, most of who were classically trained in the west are very keen on the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) medication for the spine related inflammatory pain I am experiencing, despite their commonly known and well documented side effects, these include: -increased risk of infection -Dermatitis -Fluid retention -Fat deposits -mood changes -hypertension -stomach ulcers -Osteoporosis -increased appetite -weight gain -depression -hyperglycemia -adrenal suppression -cataracts-worsening of pre-existing medical conditions

As an alternative to facing this worrying list, many plants contain strong anti-inflammatory properties and have much fewer side affects. I have compiled a list of the ones I came across most commonly in my research. If you have used any of them, I would love to hear about your experience. As I work my way through them I will update the blog with experiences:

Natural Anti-inflammatory

1.Tumeric / Curcumin

I have previously carried a bag of this with me when travelling in Asia in an attempt to ward of a dodgy tummy and was stunned when my normally weak tum held on throughout! I felt very disspointed that I could not join in with the daily ‘Poo chat’ on that trip, which I’d previously been leading!

It is also one of the very most effective and potent natural anti-inflammatory agents. Curcumin is derived from Turmeric the yellow spice, part of the ginger family native to Asia, widely enjoyed as both a food and a dye. Extensively well studied for its anti-inflammatory powers, curcumin is scientifically proven to be highly effective at relieving pain, and very safe. Like the NSAID’s, curcumin inhibits COX2. But unlike the NSAID’s, it does not do so selectively. Instead, curcumin also affects the activity of other key factors in inflammation. By inhibiting the activity of all these aspects of inflammation, tumeric delivers far superior anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving activity than most drugs. Curcumin has long been used in both Ayurvedic and Chinese medicines as an anti-inflammatory agent, a treatment for digestive disorders, and to enhance wound healing.

2. Omega-3 Fish Oil

Research has shown that the omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids are some of the most effective natural anti-inflammatory agents available. The active ingredients in fish oil, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), enhance the conversion of COX to prostaglandin E3. A natural anti-inflammatory agent, prostaglandin E3 competitively inhibits the effects of the arachidonic acid conversion to prostaglandin E2, a highly inflammatory substance.

3.Willow Bark

Bark from the white willow tree is one of the oldest herbal remedies for pain and inflammation, dating back to ancient Egyptian, Roman, Greek, and Indian civilizations, as an analgesic and antipyretic agent. The mechanism of action of white willow bark is similar to that of aspirin which is a nonselective inhibitor of COX-1 and COX-2, used to block inflammatory prostaglandins.

4.Green Tea

Green tea has long been recognized to have cardiovascular and cancer preventative characteristics due to its antioxidant properties. Its use as an anti-inflammatory agent has been recognized more recently. The constituents of green tea are polyphenolic compounds called catechins, and epigallocatechin-3 galate is the most abundant catechin in green tea. Green tea also inhibits the aggrecanases which degrade cartilage. Green tea research now demonstrates both anti-inflammatory and chondroprotective effects.


The gum resin from the Boswellia trees located in India, Ethiopia, Somalia, and the Arabian Peninsula. This resin possesses anti-inflammatory, anti-arthritic, and analgesic properties. Clinically, the substance is used in the treatment of degenerative and inflammatory joint disorders.

6. Kelp

Kelp seaweed found commonly around the UK contains fucoidan, a type of complex carbohydrate that is anti-inflammatory, anti-tumour and anti-oxidative. The high fibre content of kelp also helps to induce fullness, slow fat absorption and promote weight loss. As with fish it is increasingly hard to source kelp from unpolluted seas where high levels of toxins are being found in the waters.

7. Ginger

This relative of turmeric is also highly prized around the world for its anti-inflammatory benefits, and are used to expel cold and relieve motion sickness and vomiting, (a slice of fresh ginger taped on the skin several hours (some need 12 hours or so) before travelling.

8. Papaya

Described by Christopher Columbus as the ‘fruit of the angels’. Papaya’s reminds me of working in South Africa I had a Papaya tree outside my window and a cockrel. This cockrel crowed/screamed all night long….every night… every morning I picked a Papaya and despite that birds best efforts the world was alright again!

Papaya contains papain, a protein-digesting enzyme. Together with other nutrients such as vitamin C and E, Papain helps to reduce inflammation, improves digestion and helps heal burns.

9. Blueberry

I didn’t know that these grow in the UK until on our honeymoon in the lake-district we came across a whole medow of them! Bluberries are an antioxidant powerhouse, high in phytonutrients that confer anti-inflammatory protection.

10. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Virgin olive oil is Mediterranean’s secret to longevity. Its rich supply of polyphenols protects the heart and blood vessels from inflammation. The monounsaturated fats in olive oil are also turned into anti-inflammatory agents by the body that can lower occurrences of asthma and rheumatoid arthritis.

11. Broccoli

If vegetables were men I’d marry this one! (infact my husband is rather broccoli esq! Bit less green, bit more brown) Broccoli is a highly nutritious vegetable that contains anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer phytonutrients such as sulforaphane which helps the body to get rid of potentially carcinogenic compounds.

12. Sweet Potato

Sweet potato is another favourite of mine and often overshadowed by other exotic vegetables and fruits. But it is also a good source of complex carbohydrate, beta-carotene, manganese, vitamin B6 and C as well as dietary fibre. Working in concert, these nutrients are powerful antioxidants that help to heal inflammation in the body.

I came across this Womens Natural Heath site which I thought had some good areas and advice on how to use food to heal. However, I don’t agree with everything there so perhaps one to look at with care!


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