Autumn is upon us and we have just spent a wonderful weekend training in the lakes with Sarah and Jane from the medicine garden http://www.medicine-garden.com/
Sarah is a medical herbalist, so it wasn’t long before we were out foraging for medicinal plants and wandering the local woodlands, communing with the trees.
What is a medical herbalist, I hear you ask? Well in Sarah’s own words:
“Medical Herbalists are trained in the same diagnostic skills as orthodox doctors but take a more holistic approach to illness. The underlying cause of the problem is sought and, once identified, it is this which is treated, rather than the symptoms alone”
There is something so compelling about being in the presence of someone who loves, lives and breathes what they do and we were keen to know more.
Herbalists use natural remedies to mobilise the body’s own intrinsic healing power, so how do you know which plants to pick? We are going to take the Hawthorn as the perfect example, as we met many of them out on our walk!
In all the herbal texts, Hawthorn’s tasty and edible berries, along with the flowers and leaves of the tree, are known as a positive heart restorative. Increasing blood flow through the heart, it also strengthens heart muscle without raising the blood pressure. Hawthorn can be used as support for joints, veins, tendons, and ligaments. It also helps with circulation, improving blood flow to the extremities.
While providing great benefit to the body, Hawthorn’s ties to the heart go beyond the physical and many herbal practitioners are just as interested in what effects on emotional health, the plant can offer.
Hawthorn has also developed an excellent reputation as a nervine, supporting the nervous system and ideal for the emotional fall-out of a sudden emergency or unexpected event like an accident or bereavement. It is also useful if we just feel anxious or restless. As a heart tonic, it may be used to treat other matters of the heart, helping it to heal. such as letting go of grudges, coming out of a failing relationship, feeling disconnected from others or struggling with acceptance.
We found our brief journey into a deeper understanding of the trees and plants around us fascinating. From comfrey to nettle, borage to dandelion, we were introduced to these everyday plants in a way that opened them up to us.
If you are interested in knowing more, there are many books and resources. Here are a couple;
Bartram’s encyclopedia of herbal medicine by Thomas Bartram
The Book of herbal wisdom- using Plants as medicine by Matthew Wood