Sweet smell of growing success
However, she is also aware that people need to be knowledgeable about using herbs safely. “While herbs are very safe, you shouldn’t try to treat a serious medical condition yourself and, if you are on a prescription drug, you must see a herbal practitioner first before taking herbs,” she says.
Campbell also advises people to be extremely cautious about information on the internet about herbal remedies.
“I’m always telling people not to look up herbs on the internet because there is a lot of rubbish out there. I give them a list of reliable sources and tell them not to type herbs into Google or Wikipedia.”
COMMON HERBS AND MEDICINAL PROPERTIES:
HAWTHORN:The hawthorn or whitethorn tree is a small tree that grows widely in the Irish countryside. The leaves, flowers and berries of hawthorn are edible and herbalists commonly use extracts of the flowers and berries as a medicine to strengthen the heart muscle and lower blood pressure.
NETTLES:Nettles are rich in iron and other minerals and herbalists use them to build up the blood and prevent anaemia. Nettles are also used as a detoxifying tonic to strengthen the kidneys. Nettles were widely eaten in Ireland until cabbage was introduced in the 1800s. Nettle soup (made from freshly picked spring nettles) is a common nourishing healing food that is re-gaining popularity.
CARRAGEEN MOSS:Often called Irish moss because it was so widely used in the past, this delicate seaweed is used to treat colds, coughs and to clear phlegm from the chest. It can be used to thicken and set jellies, blancmanges and ice-creams. For colds, dried carrageen is boiled in milk to which lemon, honey and ginger are added. Current research has found that carrageen has anti-viral properties, thus confirming its traditional use.
MEADOWSWEET:This creamy/white flowering plant grows abundantly in the Irish countryside. It is a traditional remedy for heartburn and indigestion. Years ago, older people took meadowsweet to ease aches and pains. Scientists later found it contained salicylic acid which was patented as aspirin, after the plant’s old Latin name, Aspirea.
PRIMROSES and COWSLIPS:These yellow flowering wild plants were once common in the Irish countryside. Now more scarce, they are used by herbalists as muscle relaxants, to ease insomnia, tension headaches and nervousness. The flowers are edible and can be used in salads, soups and jams.
The information in this panel has been adapted from Vivienne Campbell’s keynote speech at Botanica 2012, the international conference on clinical aromatherapy in Trinity College Dublin last weekend.
Vivienne Campbell will give demonstrations on how to make herbal remedies and natural cosmetics at the Rude Health Show on September 15th and 16th in the RDS, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4. See rudehealth.ieand theherbalhub.comfor more details.