are a stock of organic, medicinal/ culinary herbs, sourced as ethically as
possible, without the huge mark up that is often put on them, that cover a wide
range of basic ailments and conditions.
Plants have always been used as medicine. In relatively recent history knowledge
and use of natural medicines was suppressed in part by emerging modern medical
practices that began establishing themselves… but plants were still used by
and alongside the new medicine right up until the 1950s boom in the
pharmaceutical industry when there was a sharp increase in (leading to the now
predominant use of) synthetic drug treatment. What is now known as ‘conventional
medicine’ is actually relatively new, and approaches health in a very particular
way. It tends to reduce experiences down into isolated factors (we may be told
an illness is caused by bacteria and needs to be treated with antibiotics)
rather than looking at the whole (that an illness might be caused by tiredness
and stresses, poor diet, blocked energy, exposure to dampness, as well as
increased vulnerability to pathogens like bacteria, and may need to be treated
by addressing the often complex social and political reasons for tiredness and
stresses, by massage, movement, fresh food, acupuncture, the use of warming/
antiseptic herbs… etc).
The rise in ‘alternative’ or ‘complementary’ medicines some if which might
better just be called traditional/ holistic medicine is a response to the
limits, the effects and the side-effects of western bio-medicine and a return to
and reclamation of effective ancient healing practices. But they are often
expensive and inaccessible to a lot of people and western medicine’s
professional expert/ patient roles can often be replicated. Profound reclamation
of traditional medicines needs to see knowledge and resources integrated more
into our daily lives and back in peoples – everybody’s- hands, as part of wider,
grassroots social change.
Herb Study at Fareshares…
First Tuesday of the month at 7.30 pm.
Open to anyone – whether you are new to herbs or want to deepen your connection
to the plants. We look at one herb each time, drink it fresh (if we can) and
dried, hot and cold, share our immediate responses and collective experiences,
and cross reference herb books. Free/ donation.
Using dried herbs…
Flowers and leaves – make an infusion by steeping approx 1 teaspoon herb per cup
in boiled water for about 5-10 minutes. strain and drink.
Bark, berries and roots – make a decoction by simmering approx 1 teaspoon herb
per cup 5-10 minutes. strain and drink.
Standard doses are usually three cups of tea per day. Some herbs blend really
well together like elderflower, peppermint and yarrow for feverish
colds and flu.
*! Some herbs are contraindicated – ie not ok to use in certain health
conditions and/or during pregnancy. There are few good herb reference books at
Fareshares to check for relevant information.
A-Z of herbs and some of their basic traditional uses:
Basil: nervous irritability, anti-depressant, adrenal stimulant, nausea,
vomiting, increases secretion of milk if breastfeeding. !
Chamomile: anti-inflammatory, calming to the digestive system, nervous
Cleavers: lymphatic detoxifier, enlarged nodes and glands, dry skin disorders.
Coriander seeds: settles digestion, dispels wind, infants colic.
Cumin seeds: aids digestion, can stimulate menstruation. *!
Echinacea: Anti-microbial, anti-viral, good for all sorts of infections, raises
Elderflower: nasal catarrh, sinusitis, reduces fever by promoting sweating, skin
Fennel: warming agent for the stomach, wind, infants colic, arouses appetite,
increases milk secretion if breastfeeding.
Hawthorn: Heart restorative, strengthens heart, improves circulation, use for
high blood pressure.
Lavender: nervous headaches, anxiety, stress, insomnia.
Lime flowers: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, protects against hardening
of the arteries, anxiety, insomnia, fevers.
Liquorice root: adrenal restorative, mild laxative, anti-viral, coughs,
bronchitis, asthma, stomach ulcers. *!
Marigold: anti-fungal, wound healer (reduces formation of scar tissue),
Nettle:rich in Vi C and iron, use for anaemia, blood cleanser, stops internal
bleeding, chronic skin problems.
Peppermint: cooling for feverish colds/flus, stimulant digestive aid, nausea,
Raspberry leaf: tones the uterus- used in prepartion for labour, aslo mouth
ulcers, tonsillitis, diarrhoea.
Rosemary: headaches, colds, anti-depressant, stimulates scalp/ hair growth
Sage: sore throat, tonsillitis, mouth ulcers, night sweats, to stop production
of breast milk. !
St John’ Wort: neuralgia, nerve damage, anxiety, stress, anti-depressant,
Thyme: antiseptic for all respiratory infections, common cold.!
Turmeric: blood purifier, dyspepsia, liver and gall bladder diseases, controls
Valerian: tranquilising use for anxiety, tension, insomnia, high blood pressure.
Vervain: tension, stress, nervous exhaustion, congested liver, can stimulate
Yarrow: reduces fevers, wound cleaning, stops bleeding, tones veins, high blood