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The Layering of Disease

Posted on 8 July, 2016 at 17:14 Comments comments (1326)
The Layering of Disease

Many of us have grown up within the Orthodox understanding of disease whereby, we go to our doctor with our list of symptoms. These symptoms are then used to match a disease profile as closely as possible. Once this match is successful then a diagnosis can be made and, subsequently, a treatment given. This treatment usually takes the form of pharmaceutical medicines. It could also require surgical intervention. In any case, the malady is standardised and treated in isolation. The drugs chosen are specific to that disease and the organ or system affected.

Fundamentally, holistic medicine has difficulty with two aspects of this process.

Firstly, the standardising of symptoms to establish a disease allows the doctor to make a diagnosis and thus match a standardised medicine as the course of treatment. This all seems very logical and scientific, which it is to a certain degree. However, on closer scrutiny it becomes evident that patients will sometimes present with symptoms that do not closely match a disease profile. If this occurs infrequently, then those symptoms may be treated as an inconvenient quirk (what a holistic practitioner would consider as a unique individual expression) and swept under the carpet. If this happens more frequently among the population, then the disease will be given a sub-category or variant. In some conditions I have looked at, the variations can become so numerous, and so loosely connected, that I start to wonder if there is any sense in trying to link them under one umbrella disease, from anybody's point of view.

Essentially, this system of standardisation is designed to treat the end expression of the true dis-ease. It requires the patient fit the disease profile so that they can be matched up to mass produced, patent, medicines that, in most cases, can only work to manage the symptoms rather than facilitate a cure.. This is because the symptoms are not the problem in themselves, but merely an expression of the true underlying cause.
Three different patients could present themselves to me for treatment. They may all exhibit stomach discomfort. Yet how they arrived at that condition can have many variants.
In the first case this may be related to what they eat (excess fat/acid/salt/sweet).
In the second case it might be related to how they eat (incorrect chewing due to distraction during mealtimes).
In the third case it could be due to emotional concerns affecting the digestive process.
A remedy may be given that will provide a period of relief in all cases, as long as you keep taking it. As soon as you stop the remedy the symptoms return. In essence, the individual becomes a slave to his remedies. In fact, it is the respective dietary choices, behavioural patterns and emotional concerns underlying these examples that need addressing if a lasting return to health is to be achieved.

The other aspect of orthodox treatment that a holistic practitioner like myself would take issue with, is the treatment of disease in isolation. There are two aspects to consider regarding this isolated approach.

Firstly, acute pain caused by a trauma is justifiably treated in a symptomatic way. However, recurring pain must be understood in a different way. In chronic cases, pain functions as a stern voice telling us to modify our behaviour. A hangover is a perfect example of this. Continually using pain relief rather than modify behaviour will lead to a long term decline in health.

Secondly, the treatment of disease as a manifestation in isolation supports the misconception of disease as somehow random and beyond our control. However, holistic practitioners know that there is a connection between our most recent conditions and conditions of the past. This is known as, The Layering of Disease.
Disease evolves, and goes deeper over the years, when the underlying cause remains unchanged. There may also be other contributing factors along the way. Suppressive treatment in the form of symptomatic medicines will only encourage this process.
Earlier in our life, in some cases, the body will attempt to overcome the challenges through methods that encourage expulsion. However, if the underlying cause remains unresolved then the disease will become more entrenched. With each unsuccessful attempt to resolve the problem the body loses vitality and in time methods of expulsion give way to the storage of toxins in the body. Hence, the nature of disease changes as one ages.
When treating someone presenting with a chronic condition, there will be a return back through the layers, with old conditions returning briefly before resolving themselves. The homoeopath Hering observed this and included it as part of his Law of Cure stating that symptoms will resolve themselves in the reverse order that they appear. These recurring symptoms of the past are known as Historical Symptoms, and are a positive sign of a healing process under way.

For chronic patients coming for treatment this layering of disease can sometimes be frustrating as it is often the long standing condition that they seek to resolve. However, they will often present with more recent manifestations too. When receiving such treatment, it is important to keep focused on the bigger picture. The initial resolving of more recent conditions stands as a testimony to the validity of Hering's Law of Cure in understanding the layering of disease. Once this pattern becomes established, the only other remedies needed are patience and perseverance.  

Skin Conditions.....more than just skin deep

Posted on 28 March, 2016 at 7:13 Comments comments (665)

Skin complaints are among the commonest conditions to find their way to me for treatment.
Although skin conditions present themselves in many ways with many different labels, it is always important to treat the person with the complaint rather than the complaint itself. In this way it is possible to avoid artificially restricting the search for the cause and the subsequent solution.
     In many cases there will be an internal toxic element to the overall condition. Even in some cases of contact dermatitis, where a caustic factor is not involved, extreme toxicity can lead to a heightened sensitivity in the skin as well as the mucous membranes.
     The skin often takes on a detoxifying role when the other means of expulsion have been overloaded. In such an instance it is vital to review the health of these systems and to gently tone them into action before any serious detoxification gets under-way.
Essentially there are four main means for ridding the body of toxins and metabolic waste; the bowels, the kidneys, the lungs and the skin. Moreover, a healthy liver is needed to breakdown toxins and other substances in the body.
In women there is the fifth possibility of the menstruation as a means of cleansing the body. However, this is only fully active, mostly being signified by a variety of symptoms just before or around the onset of bleeding, when the other means of expulsion are under par.
     It is in fact the bowels and the kidneys that take on the lions share of this process. When these means are overloaded or under-functioning they will look elsewhere to other means to burden some of the load. For example, a bout of constipation may precipitate the onset of a catarrhal state. Overloaded kidneys may lead to an increase in persperation, without activity, that is offensive in its smell.
     Emotional considerations play a significant role in the outbreak of skin conditions and in the treating of them.
     Although emotional disturbances can influence the general state of the systems resulting in poor metabolic function, they also have a significant impact on sympathetic/parasympathetic balance. It is well documented that both acute and chronic states of stress can act as a catalyst for the onset of a skin manifestation. In such instances of stress the autonomic nervous system switches into Sympathetic mode, which controls the Fight of Flight mechanism. The body gears up for maximum function and in the process any redundant substances are expelled, quite radically in some cases, from the body. In many cases this takes the form of skin manifestations, but in extreme acute cases it can express itself through deification, urination or vomiting. In simple terms it is a process similar to that seen in the old suspense films. To gain advantage in a chase the crew of some vehicle or vessel begin to throw all non-essential items overboard, thus maximising performance.
On another level it is important to consider the emotional impact that the healing process of skin conditions can have on the patient.
     Skin is our first point of interface with the world, the quality of which plays a large role in our society with respect to how we are perceived and judged. This is especially poinient when the condition appears on the face.
We are conditioned to believe, by the teachings of modern medicine, that the condition should simply go away. This is usually achieved by the use of powerful drugs that suppress the body's attempt to detoxify itself. In the short term this seems favourable in contrast to the natural rhythms of healing that dictate the condition will get worse before it gets better. However, these pharmaceuticals do not address the underlying problem and cannot offer a cure. The individual is ever dependant on them to manage the condition. The long term use of such remedies as steroid cream can come at a cost. One such side effect is the thinning of the skin.
      As a holistic practitioner, it is my experience that when you take on a case you are seldom treating the patient alone. Consideration must be given for the other people in the patient's life and what impact they will have on treatment. This is particularly evident in skin cases as the condition, finally freeing itself of the suppressive effects of the orthodox treatments, begins to express itself fully. Patients need all of their energy to deal with this development. However, they sometimes find themselves expending much of it defending the natural pattern of healing before family members and friends.

     I remember the case of a woman in her mid- thirties who came to me with a small skin condition across the knuckles of one hand. She had been living with the condition since she was about 8 years old. Apart from a slight nervous disposition, the cause of the problem was not immediately obvious until I did some deeper investigating. Subsequently, it became clear that past generations had been involved in the tanning industry and later in some other form of industry involving chemicals. The patient was exhibiting a taint that was being carried down through the family.
     We started commencement of treatment and true to form the condition got “worse”, progressing up the hand to the writs and, at the height of its expression, across to the other hand. It was at about this point that her husband decried me as a quack....and suggested that she go to a “proper” doctor for some treatment. The woman herself understood what was to be expected however under the barrage of pressure at home, and to regain some peace, she gave in to these demands.
     I arrived at work on a Monday morning only to receive a message from the patient saying that she was sorry, but she would no longer be coming for treatment. I was about to let it go....except that I knew she was right at the point when things were about to turn around.
     I picked up the phone and called her. I said, because I knew the condition was about to turn....and because I believed in what I did, I would treat her for free. Oddly enough, now that the treatment was not costing anything, the husband who was so concerned for her welfare seemed easily satisfied to give me a couple more months.
Right on queue, the condition began to improve. New expressions were intense but short lived, so there was finally a chance for the skin to begin to heal.
     In time we resolved the condition. The woman insisted on paying me for all the outstanding treatments and brought along two children, the next generation to carry this taint, with skin conditions to resolve. Which we did.
     It is possible to lessen the impact on the skin, to some degree, by restoring the main means of expulsion to full function. However, some of the process will have to be worked out through the skin itself. This can be quite frightening to witness, especially if it is a parent watching their child go through it. All that can be offered is the reassurance that comes of experience. When you are in the middle of this process it can seem quite a burden to bear....but like giving birth, so I am told, the toil of the event is far overshadowed by the great joy of the end result.

(The images on these pages represent a scald I sustained and treated with herbal medicine. The last picture is recent, however this stage of healing was already achieved a few months into the process )

A Symptomatic Approach to a Chronic Condition will make you....A Slave to your Remedies.

Posted on 11 March, 2016 at 1:56 Comments comments (370)
A Symptomatic Approach to a Chronic Condition will make you....
A Slave to your Remedies.

I regularly get people coming into the apothecary asking me what herb can I recommend for a specific problem. In many of these cases the problem is an acute, one-off, condition. So, I consult with them briefly and offer them a solution that will support their body's own natural attempts to resolve its imbalance.
However, all too often, someone will come in asking for a simple, symptomatic, solution to what is obviously a chronic problem. On further questioning it becomes evident that there is a history of recurring and evolving dis-ease, the latest symptom, for which they seek a remedy, being the body's most recent attempt to adapt and cope with the ongoing underlying cause.
Taking a symptomatic approach to a chronic condition will simply make you a slave to your remedies. What this means is, where there is a deeper underlying cause, using symptomatic remedies will not cure the condition. As soon as you stop taking the remedies the symptoms will return, often with a vengeance. This is true be they herbal or pharmaceutical remedies. This process enslaves you to the remedies indefinitely.
I understand that people have money concerns and the thought of committing to, seemingly, more expensive consultations seems daunting for some. While, at the time, a symptomatic approach may seem a wise and cheaper solution, this is a false economy. As the underlying cause remains untreated, the condition will evolve. The initial acute and sub-acute stages of expulsion will give was to the storage stages of chronic and degenerative disease as the body's vitality wanes. The condition will go deeper and become more complex resulting in a host of new symptoms, each requiring a new symptomatic remedy. Once organic change occurs in the final degenerative stage, the dye is cast. By this point, although some relief may be offered to improve the quality of life, in many cases there will be no road back to a self-contained level of health. Multiple remedies cost more and, as they will not resolve the underlying problem, will continually be needed over the coming months, years, decades. Work this out on a calculator and it will become clear why a symptomatic approach to chronic conditions offers a false economy.
A holistic approach is not a new idea. It goes back thousands of years when some of our most cherished thinkers sought to implement a society that put the welfare of humanity (if only their brand of humanity) ahead of all other concerns. However, somewhere along the way society became diseased and our concept of what health is became distorted. In the continuous pursuit of getting things done faster we lost sight of the importance of the quality of life...of its natural rhythms....and of the importance of taking personal responsibility for our health. We have bought in to the smoke and mirrors of science offering us quick solutions to complex problems (and when they found out how much money was to be made in so doing, there was no incentive to turn back). The fastest route is not always the best....and the real price we pay in the long run can be shocking.

Health and Happiness

The Green Man.

A Possible Plan To Save The NHS?!

Posted on 29 February, 2016 at 4:40 Comments comments (2316)
A Possible Plan To Save The NHS?!

I was randomly listening to the radio the other night only to find another talk show being dedicated to the problems of the NHS and the usual host of ideas as to how we should save it.
I think, for me, this subject has just about reached saturation point. It is not only on the radio regularly, but also in the news and in the paper. The reason the subject has reached saturation point is because I do not think there will be any headway with the problem given the ideas that have come up. If this is the case, then it makes such shows, headlines and reports of little interest or value. Leave this subject now.....and come back to us when you have something new to report. Continually crying wolf starts to lose its effect in the end.
After engaging with these reports again and again, it became evident that a pattern was forming. Essentially, it seems, the main solution to the problem seems to be to throw the pack of cards, that is the NHS, into the air and then rebuild it using the same materials. This is not working. Every time a new government gets into power they have a crack at the NHS (as well as schools, which is another festering sore). What has become obviously evident is to achieve anything lasting the very cards themselves need to be changed. It is time to think outside the box, or pack as it were.
During the show in question, the main concern was how little time doctors spent with patients and if that did not put patients at risk. In contrast to the 10 minutes the doctors offer I find 2 hours for a patient's initial consultation. It is the only way to take a full holistic history and to understand the person with the condition rather than just the disease. Believe me, I am not having a go at the doctors. They are the victims of the system of expectations they belong to.
In response to this problem one doctor phoned in and felt the only solution to resolve this problem would be to have more doctors. I agree with this whole heartedly. In my series Patient First Medicine, I made this very point that I feared about the quality of treatment from stressed doctors and overworked nurses.
To resolve this problem the doctor suggested there be more funding available for these doctors. There is one massive problem with this......there is no more funding! This is what we are constantly being told. There is no funding for this and no funding for that. This means that the money needed to hire more doctors and nurses to take some of the strain off the existing workload has to come out of some of the funding already in circulation. I can see this working if, for example, two doctors were willing to take a third cut in pay each to create the resources to fund a third doctor. However, for some strange reason, I just don't feel that is likely to gain acceptance in certain corners.
To create change something, or someone, has to give.
However, the area I see as the most likely source to reclaim money is the massive drug bill.
Just as an example, how often have we seen or heard reports telling us that antibiotics are being given out too freely to the point that they are no longer potent against some strains of bacteria and thus putting people having operations at risk?
In my own practice alone I have facilitated a complete cure or greatly reduced the dependence on drugs in the bulk of my patients, often after they have been on them for years or even decades. These conditions included people with Asthma, Skin Disease, Hypertension, Depression, Gout, Menstrual Irregularities....and on, all of which were offered a drug solution as the only answer to their problem.....And I am not the only one out there doing this. I am only one practitioner of many holistic practitioners who are achieving these results up and down the countryside. We represent a valuable resource and a potent solution to the problems of the NHS because, in the long run, we offer a cheaper and longer lasting solution to many conditions.
One of the excuses as to why we are not embraced as a part solution to the NHS' problems is it is claimed that our methods are not substantiated by science. Certainly, it is true that we cannot substantiate our methods as readily when the test is disease oriented, but that is because our very methods are not disease oriented. We are, however substantiated by the law of probability that says, given the success so many of us have had with so many patients up and down the country, there must be more at work here than mere chance.
At the end of the day, patients are interested in results not theory. If we can't have more money to save the NHS, then let us start shifting what resources we have to where they will do some real good.

In any negotiation there comes a point when we must concede, in part, to the oppositions position, even if we don't understand it, as the only way forward. The alternative is to continue going in circles for ever, which is what we seem to be doing. 

No Need To Stomach Digestive Disorders.

Posted on 10 February, 2016 at 2:24 Comments comments (190)

    Pictured in the bowl are the four vibrantly coloured herb powders that make up my Digestive Blend capsules.  I made this batch just after New Years in the wave of digestive complaints that coincide with the holiday season.  Given the culinary temptations all around us at this time of year, combined with an often hectic schedule, it is not unusual for us to find our digestive system out of balance.  In occasional circumstances such remedies can be good for easing the symptoms and restoring balance to our digestion.
     However, when digestive imbalance begins to take on a chronic tone it is time to take a deeper look at the underlying cause.  A symptomatic approach to your chronic condition will only make you a slave to your remedies.
     In chronic conditions, a holistic approach can offer impressive results.
     As a holistic herbal practitioner, I see many patients who present with similar symptoms, yet the path that brought each of them there can be quite different.  Therefore, the healing plan must be equally unique.
     What you eat has a massive impact on your overall health.  The first line of interface between body and food is the digestive system, starting with the mouth. 
     The body speaks to us through symptoms when we make bad dietary and lifestyle choices. As an example,  frequent consumption of foods heavy in sugar or acid can cause acid states in the stomach that can lead to heartburn.
     The environment in which we eat in is also important for good digestion.  Watching telly, listening to music or being involved in some other activity whilst eating distracts us from the process.  This may lead to inadequate chewing that results in larger chunks of food being swallowed.  These chunks put a greater demand on the stomach.
     Furthermore, exciting activities can stimulate the Sympathetic Nervous System, which is part of the Fight or Flight mechanism.  Digestion takes place when we are in a more relaxed Parasympathetic mode.  Food ingested in the Sympathetic mode will not be well digested. When this is a regular pattern at meal times it can, in time, lead to a host of digestive problems.
     Insufficient digestive juices, especially stomach acid and saliva, can play a role in poor digestion and nutrition.  This state is more common in the elderly.   Again, chewing properly helps by making the food smaller and easier for the stomach to handle.  Thorough chewing also allows saliva, which contains enzymes involved in the breaking down of starches, to mingle with the food and begin the digestive process in the mouth.  When this mass passes into the stomach, after thorough chewing, a sufficient presence of saliva will keep the acid environment at bay for a time, thus allowing the breakdown of starches in the stomach to continue.  This is because the enzymes involved in the digestion of starches function in an alkaline environment.
     Where there is an insufficient amount of digestive juices, bitter herbs can be used to stimulate digestive activity from the mouth all the way to the liver.
     Emotional states can also play a role in poor digestion.  Feelings of anger or anxiety can upset the digestive balance.  If there is a chronic digestive disorder, it is vital that the cause of these feelings is addressed and resolved for proper digestive function to be restored.  Ongoing strong emotions or suppressed emotions can also contribute to conditions of the lower digestive tract.
     In some cases the condition may sit deeper still.  Diseased states of the liver and gallbladder can contribute to imbalances of the digestive system. Gallstone is one such is a congested liver or insufficient bile production.
     On an emotional and energetic level, the liver is the seat of inward anger while the gallbladder houses unreleased outward anger. Diseases of these organs can develop when these emotions become chronic and are not released.
     If you suffer from the odd case of digestive upset there are herbal remedies that can be used to quickly restore the balance.  However, if the condition is ongoing, it might be wise to make an appointment with a holistic herbalist to get to the root of the problem and facilitate a lasting resolution.

The Green Man.....In The Field (Part 8 A)

Posted on 23 October, 2015 at 18:40 Comments comments (761)

     In my series Weeds of Wonder, I described Dandelion  as the poster child of the weed world.  I then went on to describe many of the virtues of the Dandelion (Taraxicum officinalis). 
     In this post I would like to make another comparison.  The Dandelion is to the herbalist what the Buffalo was to the Plains Indians (the native Americans of the plains).  Like the Buffalo, every part of the Dandelion can be used.  The Flowers are made into wine.  The stems provide a white latex used in the treatment of warts and other skin conditions.  The leaves are high in nutrients and are used as part of a nutritious salad as well as in herbal medicines.  Finally, the roots are used in herbal medicines for numerous conditions, but have a special affinity for those of the Liver. 
     In this post I am going to show another use for the root, and that is in making Dandelion coffee.
     I have found it necessary to reproduce quite a number of photos to illustrate, step by step, the stages and considerations throughout the process.  For this reason it has been necessary to divide this post into multiple parts.
     As I am a medical herbalist you might wonder why I am interested in showing you how to make Dandelion Coffee? This is because food plays a very important role in good health. In our society the consumption of tea and coffee is well entrenched.  For many patients coming to me, the effects of caffeine, found in these beverages, plays a contributing role in the complications of their condition.
     Rather than just ban an offending food, it sometimes helps to understand what is behind the need.  Often, there is an emotional aspect that is not being fulfilled.  Certain foods can sometimes serve as a substitute for the feelings and emotions we crave.  For example, a lack of attention or love may be substituted by sweet food, especially chocolate.  A lack of stability may be substituted through a craving for salty foods.
     It is my feeling that there is something earthy in the taste of both coffee and tea, that brings a sense of grounding.  This is a need that is more subtle than that which is provided by the effects of the caffeine.  
Where there is a need for grounding, Dandelion makes an excellent substitute, without the side effects of caffeine.  It provides that bitter earthiness that many people crave.
     One of the great things about Dandelions is they are not difficult to come by.  Once you have truly begun to appreciate their hidden potential you might find yourself being converted to someone who even plants them as a crop!  At this very moment outside I have rows of tiny Dandelions, individually planted in pots, waiting to be planted in the ground next year.  However,  if you cannot envisage yourself reaching this point in the near future, then you need to know how to extract them from the wild....or at least from your lawn.
     Like anything we are about to consume, it helps greatly to have a good idea of the history of the site where you are about to extract the Dandelions from.  If you have convinced your neighbour of the virtues of allowing you to extract his/her Dandelions....make certain they have not been spraying weed killer in the previous years.
     Once you have decided where you are to source your Dandelions, you must consider the best way to get them out of the ground.  Personally I have a little contraption that I find suitable. It is shown in the first picture on the page.  I found this in an antique shop selling used tools.  Someone recently told me it is a bulb planter....I am calling it a root extractor.
     For those of you who have never seen a Dandelion....the flowers in the picture with my root extractor are actually Calendula (Pot Marigold).  If you wish to see a Dandelion flower, please go to my Weeds of Wonder series.
     In the next picture I have separated the leaves of a single Dandelion from the leaves of those growing around it.
     The next picture shows how I have fed the leaves of the Dandelion through the tube of the extractor.  It is possible to trim the leaves away before extraction.  However, the leaves are also of value to me, so I include them in the harvest.
     Once the leaves are fed through and the bottom of the extractor is sitting on the ground, you take the handle and twist the tube back and forth into the ground.  Once the earth is visible at the top end of the tube, you pull up.  This gives you a neat plug of earth which you can bang out through the top of the tube and from there rescue your prized root.

     Just a moment ago I confessed that I do in fact grow Dandelions.  One reason for doing this is that you can change the environment in which they grow for the purpose of getting larger, straighter roots.  If you look at the next picture there are a number of different shaped roots.  When it comes to cleaning and cutting the roots the straight root in the middle is the most desirable.
     Once you have harvested your roots, remove the crowns and set them aside for the drying of the leaves.  The remaining roots may be washed in a bucket of clean water outside or brought inside and cleaned in the sink.
     You can see the prepared and washed roots laid out on a chopping board.
     Thicker roots should be sliced down the middle and then cut into pieces Thinner roots may be sliced into rounds.
     The roots can be dried in a well ventilated shed, loft or airing cupboard.  They may also be dried in a slow oven with the door left slightly open.  Sometimes when I dry herbs I will do the initial drying in a mesh system I have and then finish the process in my dehydrator..
     Once the roots have been thoroughly dried we must then consider the next stage of the process; roasting.
     Just like coffee, the length of time we roast the roots determines the nature of the final beverage.  Longer roasted, darker roots, are what I seek as this improves the colour and flavour of the final drink.
I will continue with the roasting process in the next posting.


The Green Man.....In The Field (Part 7)

Posted on 3 September, 2015 at 11:55 Comments comments (935)
This is a picture of Clivers (Galium aperine) growing in the hedgerow near to where I live. In previous postings I have mentioned Clivers as a plant with great affinity for the lymphatic system. With respect to The Doctrine of Signatures, we can understand this through the lymphatic like structure of the plant.  However, at this time of the year we see a further indication through the angry red seeds that form.  These represent the inflamed lymph nodes that Clivers play such an important role in cleansing.
     Clivers are truly powerful medicine and, although quite safe to use, should be used with great attention to dosage.  This is particularly relevant with respect to the treatment of skin conditions.  A rapid increase in dosage can lead to a radical expression of the skin condition, which might prove too much for the patient involved, especially if they are not well versed in natural healing patterns.
     Many herbalists work by combining several herbs together.  When working with Clivers, my personal preference is to include herbs such as Nettle (Urtica dioica) and Poke (Phytocca americana).
     As I have mentioned in a previous blog on this site, Clivers and Nettles are often found growing among one and another.  This is a natural indicator of their compatibility that is born out from practical experience. Nettles are excellent in clearing the blood of metabolic waste.  In this sense, the two are well combined in resolving skin conditions.
      Poke (Phytolacca americana) has a similar signature to Clivers expressed through its deep purple berries.  Poke is strong medicine and should be used with great caution.  However, used properly in small amounts, I combine it with Clivers to resolve angry glandular problems like tonsillitis.
     Clivers is also useful in resolving cystitis.  I believe this is a result of its diuretic action as well as its ability to help clear waste and toxins from the blood.  These substances are filtered through the kidneys and, I believe, when concentrated irritate the lining of the bladder, causing the inflammation or "itis".  
     In orthodox terms, cystitis is often associated with a bacterial infection and antibiotics are used to resolve the problem.  However, it is my belief that the bacteria are opportunists and proliferate where the soil is in their favour.  Hence, cystitis can occur without a bacterial presence.  It is the concentration of toxic matter, rather than the bacteria that brings about the initial inflammation.  It is for this reason that, when detoxing smokers or others with high toxic concentrations in the body, the manifestation of cystitis is a common occurrence  and should be treated as a positive development.
     If you are on the trail, Cliver tips can be picked and eaten.  To me they taste a bit like raw pea pods.  They can make up part of a natural indigenous diet that broadens the diversity of phyto-nutrients we take in.  This works to provide many bio-chemicals that help ward off illness, something our narrow modern selection of foods does not do.
     The seed of Clivers can be picked, dried and roasted to make a coffee substitute.  Personally, I find the little red burrs so small that it can take an eternity to gather enough for your morning brew. Personally, I prefer to roast the root of the Dandelion....which I might explore with you in my next post. 

Health and Happiness

The Green Man

The Green Man.....In The Field (Part 6)

Posted on 6 August, 2015 at 5:03 Comments comments (176)
Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria)  is one of my top favourite herbs, right up there with Verbena.
The pictures shown here were taken earlier in July.  However, this beautiful herb is long flowering and even now, in August, it is still possible to go out and find them in full bloom.  Personally, I could find them blind-folded if put in the right place, as by stepping on their leaves they give off a distinct, chalky, aspirin-like smell.  This is an indicator to us of the importance of using multiple senses for the purpose of identification.
     Meadowsweet prefers damp places.  Its evolution in this environment has had an influence on its effectiveness on such hot conditions as inflammation, pain and acid.  However, archaic belief systems assign Meadowsweet to the wind element.  It is significant that the term wind is used instead of air.  The ancients saw the world as being made up of the four elements.  These elements played an active role in the physical world.  On a human level, it was believed that we were also subject to the influence of the elements and disease was an indication of one or more of these being out of balance. 
     When we combine the influences of Meadowsweet's damp environment with the archaic belief in its associations with the element of wind, we can start to understand the complexity of its function in treating disease. 
     Meadowsweet's water influence makes it suitable for conditions where there is burning or heat, such as in inflammation or acid. This is especially significant where these are generated from disturbances in the liver (our great source of heat) and digestive system, leading to wind.
     Like many herbs that grow in damp places, Meadowsweet is quite dry and astringent.  If we think of the action of the wind, it can be both cooling and drying (although remember that the long term action of astringent herbs is to passively moisten through the action of retaining moisture where there is moisture loss). 
     When I do my herb walks, Meadowsweet is one of the herbs I like to get people to taste.  The leaf has a complexity of flavour.  To me there is almost a minty quality that is combined with that aspirin like chalky astringency.  This is no coincidence as Meadowsweet is one of the plants initially used in the development of aspirin.  In fact its former botanical name of Spireae ulmaria helped coin the term aspirin.  The other  plant involved is actually the White Willow.  The botanical name for the White Willow tree is Salix alba.  The name Salix formed the prefix of one of the active ingredients in these plants, which is salicylic acid.It is salicylic acid which forms the basis of aspirin.   
     Meadowsweet is very effective in heartburn and indigestion, although in chronic 
cases it is important to investigate the underlying cause. However, for acute conditions I use  a leaf or a teaspoon of dried leaf/stem, infused in a cup of boiling water and taken several times a day.  It is amazing how effective relief is on our doorstep....a free offering from the green sooth and heal us. 

The Green Man.....In The Field (Part 5)

Posted on 22 July, 2015 at 9:02 Comments comments (858)
The summer is moving along at a pace and is reminding me there is so much more to share with you before this season is over.
     As I zoom along on my way to see one patient or another...or as I am out wandering the fields and lanes I stop to take pictures of the wonderful wild herbs that surround the place where I live.
     The picture posted here is of the common or High Mallow ( Malva sylvestris),  which, among other places, you will find dotted along the hedgerows of our country lanes.  This common native produces delicate pink flowers that would make a striking addition to any garden.
     High Mallow belongs to the Malvaceae family. This makes it a relative of the Marshmallow (Althaea officinalis).  In fact, I like to think of High Mallow as the land-locked Marshmallow.  In this sense, their is certainly a similarity in their action with respect to their aerial parts.  The leaves and flowers of both herbs being used fresh or dried for bronchial complaints, catarrh, coughs, asthma etc.The herb is both mucilaginous, astringent and anti-inflammatory, which gives it a role to play in irritated and inflamed conditions of the mucous membrane as well as external conditions of the skin.
     When you work closely with herbs for many years, you begin to get a sense for more than just their biochemical constituents, you begin to get a sense of their nature.
If anything, High Mallow is feminine and gentle...and perhaps it is for this reason that it has such an affinity for children.  Some older belief systems also see High Mallow as being feminine and being governed by the moon and the element of water.
     For those of you who have children, the flowers and leaves can be gathered in summer and made into a syrup.  The flowers are particularly gentle and may be used alone in syrup form to resolve constipation.  Another way to achieve this in summer is add a few of the fresh petals to your salad. As the flowers do not all come out at once, which makes it long lasting in its beauty, you will also be able to pick some of the little seed pods while in their crunchy green stage.  These are known as "cheeses".
     Another action of the High Mallow is to stimulate the immune system. It does this, in part, by stimulating phagocytic activity.  Many people moving away from the use of antibiotics and embracing more natural remedies often turn to the well published Echinacea as an alternative.  However, Echinacea is non-indigenous, and usually obtained, at a price, from the chemist or health food shop.  I like to look among our native herbs to find home grown solutions.  One reason for this is these plants have evolved here and are more likely to thrive in our climate and be abundant. Because they are at home here the biochemical and energetic properties of these herbs will also be at their most potent. 
     High Mallow has been in bloom since late June.  Now is a good time to be out and gathering its leaves and flowers to convert into the medicines you will need in the coming year.  It can be converted into syrups, teas, compresses and ointments, being the easiest for home use.


The Green Man.....In The Field (Part 4)

Posted on 28 May, 2015 at 17:01 Comments comments (531)
This picture was taken at the end of February when the Elders near me were just beginning to show leaf...a time when the sun begins to regain its strength. 
     Now they have developed on so that in the next weeks all will be in bloom.  For me, the sweet smell of Elderflowers, on the breeze of a warm and sunny day, heralds the beginning of summer.  This is not just because of the time of year that this event takes place.  Rather, there is something very warming about the Elderflower itself that is captured in its dried be released in an aromatic and healing tea during the winter months. 
     Another way to capture the warmth of the Elderflower is to make wine.  We think of wine as a beverage,yet, if we read the old herbals we learn that wine was a common way to administer medicine.  In many lands, where grapes dominate, they have failed, or lost the art, to explore, with such depth, the value of many other sources of flavour available in the wild herbs and trees of the surrounding countryside as we have in the UK. For many, the Elder is seen as a weed tree. Yet those who embrace the treasures of the countryside are well versed in its versatility and value. I have personally made wine from endless wild plants, leaves and flowers.  Many come to mind that have an effect beyond that of their alcohol content.....Elderflower is one.  The wine started in summer will, by December, create a deeply warming drink to shake off the cold months of winter that enter down to the bones. 
     When I lived in my cottage in Dorset There were several Elders in the hedge surrounding the garden.  Yet, one of these even took pride of place in a central location within the garden.  This was a mature tree planted before my occupancy, indicating that respect for the Elder was not mine alone.
     I have fond memories of climbing my old wooden ladder, under a sky of blue, and gathering the heavily scented flowers to be transformed into wine, cordial and tea.
     The flowers can be used alone, but I prefer to combine them with two other herbs to make my The Green Man's Winter Resistance Tea.  This tea I use to stop colds and flu in its tracks...or shorten its duration by aiding the body in its work of sweating out impurities.  
     Equally important are the berries, which can be made into an excellent wine or into a Rob that is taken through the winter months as a preventative.  However, just like the tea, it can also be taken when a cold has already taken hold.
     When the first leaves of the Elder start to appear at the end of winter it awakens our desire for the warm days that lay ahead...but in the great cycle of things it should also remind us that soon the work begins to gather and dry the herbs...and prepare the medicines that will see us through the cold days of ailment that will soon come around again. 



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