Category Archives: herbal medicine

Fire Cider

Fire cider was first introduced to me a few years ago by my sister. It’s an old folk remedy made from a blend of steeped vegetables, herbs and roots in vinegar. Known to be a powerful immune booster, that is anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, and great as a decongestant too. I can personally vouch for fire cider, I started drinking a tablespoon of this every day from October last, and found it hugely beneficial in keeping colds at bay.

There are plenty of recipes online for fire cider, below is my version:
Try to find as much organic ingredients as possible. It doesn’t have to be the exact measurements as listed below:

1 litre sterilised preserving jar (or a couple of smaller ones will do)
½ cup peeled and shredded/diced ginger root
½ cup peeled and shredded/diced fresh turmeric root (alternatively a tablespoon of dried turmeric if fresh is not available)
¼ cup Horseradish – if you can find it
½ cup white onion, chopped
¼ cup minced or crushed garlic cloves
2 scotch bonnet chilli peppers, chopped
2 lemons chopped including the peel
1 orange chopped, including the peel
Organic raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar with the mother (has to be raw and with the mother).
A few sprigs of Rosemary and thyme
A teaspoon of black seeds (nigella sativa seeds/kalonji)
A teaspoon of peppercorns
A couple of cloves
Maple syrup or agave nectar to taste. For non vegans, raw organic honey.

Add all the chopped/grated vegetables, roots, herbs and spices in to the jar until it’s about 3/4 full. Pour the apple cider vinegar over this mixture.
If you’re using a metal lid, line it with wax paper so that the vinegar doesn’t corrode it, and then put the lid on. Place in a dark, room temperature cabinet for about 4 weeks. Shake every few days.

When the fire cider is ready, shake well and then strain the root and veg using a cheesecloth or fine mesh sieve. You can also put the sieved vegetable mixture through a juice extractor to extract even more liquid.

Add maple syrup or agave nectar taste and store in the fridge in the sterilised jar.

For dosage, you can take a tablespoon of the fire cider liquid every day or even add to your food or a salad.

Please note, herbal medicine is powerful – always do your research or ask for medical advice before hand!

 

A Cooling Summer Tea

I adore the summer season; well I love the thought of summer, especially on a particular icy winters day. I look forward to the sunshine, the seasonal garden fruits and herbs and flowers in full bloom, and the altogether feeling of happiness. However if you are anything like me, when the heat is particularly scorching, you tend to feel lethargic and uncomfortable and try to stay out of the sun.
I have started making ice cold summer teas, which are especially cooling and refreshing on the harshest of days, albeit in the UK there are not many days like these. Nevertheless this is a tea recipe made from Elderflower, Lime, Mint and Lemon Balm. Elderflower is an amazing cooling plant for the summer heat, as well as during a cold, fevers and for the hot flushes of menopause. Lemon Balm, Mint and Lime are also cooling on the body.

The recipe below is not an exact science and does not have to be approximate. You can also use dried ingredients, you just need to halve the quantity of the herbs.

Ingredients:
A handful of elderflower heads
1 or 2 sprigs of lemon balm
1 sprig of mint
A slice of lime
Agave nectar to taste
2 cups of water.

Directions:
Place the Elderflower, Mint, slice of Lime and Lemon Balm in a glass jug and pour over with 2 cups of boiling water. Let this infuse for 20 minutes and then add Agave nectar to taste. Strain and chill to serve.

DIY Hay fever Balm Recipe

hay fever balm

Hello, I’m sharing this hay fever recipe as I have found it very helpful. I created this recipe to help me cope with hay fever symptoms of itchy eyes and runny nose. Applying the balm around the nostrils will reduce the amount of pollen, dander and dust that enters the nose. This in turn reduces the hay fever symptoms. Applying around the eyes (not in the eyes) will sooth itchy skin. It really does help, see the science bit here.

Recipe:
1 and a half tablespoon of Jojoba or Candilla wax
1 tablespoon of coconut oil
1 tablespoon of calendula infused olive oil
4 drops of Lavender essential oil – for its anti-inflammatory and antihistamine properties.
4 drops of Chamomile essential oil – soothes itchy and inflamed skin.
2 drops of Helichrysum essential oil – can help relieve allergy symptoms such as sneezing.

Directions:
1. Place a small amount of water in a saucepan and turn the heat on low.
2. Place a glass container (preferably with a spout for easy pouring) inside the saucepan.
3. Add the wax and oils until it’s melted. Remove the glass container from the saucepan.
4. Add essential oils and pour into small containers.

Amsterdam Botanical Gardens

Taking a very brief trip to visit my sister in Amsterdam, I was keen to visit the Botanical Gardens (Hortus Botanicus) situated between two canals in the Plantage district, with various types of green houses from tropical rain forest to a dry desert cactus house, and a butterfly house. Its not as big as Kew gardens London, therefore a couple of hours is all you need to get through, but certainly a gem.

It was established in 1638 by the city municipality as Hortus Medicus, a herb garden with medical plants for Amsterdam doctors and pharmacists. The reasons for establishing a specialised medical garden was at that time, the cities of Leiden and Utrecht experienced the plague epidemic 1634-1637.

Today the Hortus Botanicus has more than 4000 different plant species including a 154-year-old water lily which opens its flower every night around dusk and a centuries old agave cactus that dates back to the Roman era! Also a 300 year old beautiful Eastern Kape giant Cycad. The atmosphere is relaxed, and not very much tourists around, so can be lovely and tranquil. Lots of places to sit and think. Great little garden themed shop too.

 

What Are Flower Essences?

What are flower essences?
Flower essences are solarised infusions or decoctions made from the flowering part of the plant and water, which aid the emotional aspects of wellbeing. Although flower essences have been used since ancient times, the first 38 flower remedies were formulated by a British physician, bacteriologist and homeopathic Doctor, Edward Bach in the 1930’s. Since then new flower remedies from other plant species are now also available.

How do flower essences work?
Flower Essences have the quality and capacity to change a negative emotion into a positive one. The Flower essences have energetic or vibrational imprints from the flower that works with the human body to halt negative emotional blocks and feelings. For example if someone has feelings of inner turmoil and puts on a brave face, the flower essence ‘Agrimony’ will very gently assist in bringing inner peace and the ability to express feelings.

How are flower essence made?
Flower essences are made by allowing the flowers, in their peak condition, to sit in spring water and capture the morning sun rays enabling them to potenize. The energy from the flower is transferred in to the water. This is known as the sun method. This water is then bottled in stock bottles and preservative is added. Some flowers are lightly boiled in a decoction instead of being left in the sun.

Are flower essences safe?
Flower essences are completely natural safe for children, for the elderly, during pregnancy, for animals and everyone else. They are harmless and have no side effects. They can be used in combination with other medication and other forms of treatment without interfering.

Can flower essences be taken with other medication?
Absolutely! Flower essences can work alongside conventional medication or other complementary therapies, such as homeopathy, without any conflict. Nevertheless it is still advisable to let your practitioner know what type of medication you are talking.

How do I decide which flower essences to take for my condition?
You can read the descriptions of the flower essences and see which flower qualities you feel will help your mental and emotional issues. You can also do a questionnaire to help with choosing or speak to a flower essence practitioner.

Can flower essences cure physical illness?
Flower essences do not cure physical illness; however they can help people who suffer from physical illness by working on the emotional reactions to the illness. The essence can help with the emotional strains that may have bought on the illness. By working on the emotions, which in turn affects the physical body, the flower essence could facilitate healing of the physical ill health.

For how long do you need to take the flower essences for?
It depends. Some people respond to flower essences within days, some take a month or longer. A dosage bottle should last about three weeks. You can continue taking the remedy if you still need to after this, or stop if you feel it had done its job.

The black cumin seed or “Nigella Sativa” ancient cures

An article By Veronica Parkes

Said to Cure Everything but Death, These Seeds are an Ancient Miracle Cure

The black cumin seed or “Nigella Sativa” has been revered as a miracle cure for a vast amount of illnesses and ailments throughout the ages and across many cultures. The plant is indigenous to the Mediterranean region and has been used as medicine predominantly by Muslim cultures. However, the plant dates back past the rise of Islam and was used by other non-Muslim cultures.

The earliest written record of the plant being used as a medical treatment dates back to the book of Isaiah in the Old Testament where Isaiah talks of harvesting the plant and its curative properties. It was used by Asian herbalists and Romans alike as a food additive; black cumin seeds were even found in the tomb of Tutankhamun. The seeds were also discussed by the famous Greek physician Dioscorides who used them to cure head and toothaches. However, the medical properties of the seeds didn’t gain prominence until the rise of Islam.

 

The Nigella Sativa plant, flower and seeds. (Public Domain)

The Variety of Uses for Black Cumin Seeds

“Habbat ul Sawda” as the seeds are known in Arabic, were mentioned by Muhammed in the Quran and he is believed to have said, “in the black seed is healing for every disease but death.” In Arabo-Islamic culture the seeds are prescribed as a medicine for various ailments including: fever, asthma, chronic headaches, diabetes, digestion issues, back pain, infections, and rheumatism.

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Folio from an Arabic manuscript of Dioscorides, De Materica Medica, 1229. (Public Domain)

It was in the 7th century that the seed gained its massive popularity in this culture and there it remained as a popular family medicine. It has also been used as a food preservative since the height of its popularity.  While most people used the oil for the health benefits listed below, the oil is also taken as part of beauty routines. Over the span of a few months one can see that hair and nails become stronger and when used externally it can help to treat skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema.

The seed is believed to have 100 healthy components and is a significant source of fatty acids, proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. Its oil is often what is used as a medicine, but the seed has a peppery taste and is common in making curries, pastries, and Mediterranean cheeses. The seeds possess anti-diabetic and anti-cancer properties and they can be used to regulate the immune system, reduce pain, kill microorganisms, reduce inflammation, inhibit spasmodic activity, and open the air passages in the lungs. They are also said to protect the liver, kidneys, stomach, and digestive system. They aid in peristalsis and rid the intestines of worms. The seeds also help with many diseases, especially those involving inflammation – such as cystic fibrosis, allergies, and cancer.
Studies Support More Amazing Properties of the Black Cumin Seed

The efficacy of the black cumin seed oil is mostly attributed to its quinone constituents and essential oils components. Quinone promotes healthy oral health and helps manage oral diseases. It has also been linked to enhanced learning and improved memory in elderly patients when taken as a daily supplement, as shown in a recent study.

 

Many studies have been completed in recent years backing the unbelievable claims of the medicinal properties of the black cumin seed. Based on animal models, the seed was proven to induce a strong anti-inflammatory response leading to the belief that it is helpful in inflammation based diseases. In vitro studies performed in Jordan and the United States have determined that the oil has anti-leukemic properties. It has also been proven that the seed has cardio-protective, anti-cancer, anti-diabetic, antioxidant, and immune-modulatory properties.

The first major study of the seed in relation to cancer prevention was performed in the United States by the Cancer Immuno-Biology Laboratory in Southern California. They found that a healthy immune system will detect and destroy cancer cells. As such, the black cumin seed has been found to stimulate neutrophil activity; it is this activity that creates short-lived immune cells that are normally found in bone marrow but mobilize when there is infection in the body. This means the seeds help improve the immune system and aid in cancer prevention.

The black cumin seed has also been shown to have a synergistic effect, so, when it is combined with aerobic training, it can aid in weight loss. It can also aid in male and female infertility, breast pain, lead poisoning, and corneal injuries. Moreover, in research published in 2016, the black cumin seed was found to modulate and enhance the normal activity of the cells and pathways that keep blood sugar and insulin properly balanced. These substances also help manage the process through which glucose is converted to fat. Again, proving that it aids in maintaining a healthy weight, but also that it helps in regulating diabetes.

Black cumin seed and oil are said to be very healthy and help with many health issues. (Public Domain)

Questioning the Claims and Dosage

However, the miracle cure-all seed has, understandably, not been taken seriously in some scientific circles in recent years due to its claim to cure everything stated above; in short, it seems too good to be true. But it is important to keep in mind when proponents of the seed say that it “cures” these ailments and illnesses it should be critically analyzed – ancient cultures emphasized the seed’s ability to restore normalcy, not cure.

Mansur ibn Ilyas: Anatomy of the human body.

Mansur ibn Ilyas: Anatomy of the human body. (Public Domain)

Mansur ibn Ilyas: Anatomy of the human body. (Public Domain) The black cumin seed and oil have properties which are said to help in many medical ailments all-over the body.

Similarly, the scientific community has expressed concern over the safe levels of consumption of the seed oil. However, studies suggest that therapeutic doses of black cumin oil and quinone have low toxicity and a wide margin of safety when used as a daily supplement, typically 1 tablespoon in oil form or as high as 1250 mg in capsule form per day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

**N.B. All content and information in this article is for general informational purposes only and it is not intended to be a substitute for the advice, diagnosis, and/or treatment by a qualified medical practitioner.**
Resources:

Clark, I. (2017) Black Cumin: The Ancient Weight Loss Seed Celebrated by Cultures Around the World. Available at: http://www.activationproducts.com/blog/black-cumin-the-ancient-weight-loss-seed-celebrated-by-cultures-around-the-world/

My Central Health (2016) It Heals Everything Except Death! This Ancient Remedy “Cures All Diseases” HIV, AIDS, Diabetes, Cancer, Stroke, STDs, Arthritis & More… Available at: http://mycentralhealth.com/heals-everything-except-death-ancient-remedy-cures-diseases-hiv-aids-diabetes-cancer-stroke-stds-arthritis/#

Naiman, I. (2014) Black Cumin Seed. Available at: http://www.kitchendoctor.com/herbs/black_cumin.php

Thomas, J.P. (2017) Black Cumin Seed Oil: Ancient Seed is Cure for Many Modern Diseases. Available at: http://healthimpactnews.com/2016/black-cumin-seed-oil-ancient-seed-is-cure-for-many-modern-diseases

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