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Natural Remedies From Your Doorstep

The other day I received a distressed call from a friend in need of help. Her daughter had cut her lip open really badly on an obstacle course. The doctors couldn’t do much for it due to the location of the wound except to tell her to keep her child quiet and still so it could heal. So she called me for advice and I knew just the thing to help it heal. For years, since my first child was little, I have been making healing balm, which I carry around with me for emergencies. I can’t count the times this little pot of balm has come to the rescue helping stop deep cuts from bleeding, healing minor cuts and grazes, working on dry lips, being used on insect bites, put on the temples for headaches, to treat sunburn to name but a few uses. We are so blessed to have us a cornucopia of natural plant remedies on our doorsteps. Some common plants like the star of this article have been used for thousands of years. A big breakthrough in understanding medicinal plants in this country came with monastic herb gardens. Monks would grow a variety of medicinal plants and some used up to 500 species of plants for both food and medicines. In fact in a monastic or castle garden everything not recorded as a fruit tree was considered a herb. Plants were considered to provide good health and good taste. But today many have forgotten about most of this and limit our use of herbs to a sparse few. Why did this knowledge of herbal lore almost disappear? A major reason for this stems from the persecution of anyone using herbs being called a witch. What was done to the wise women and the herbalists of the time by fanatical zealots, especially in East Anglia is a shocking story. Although we live in more enlightened times now, it is interesting how knowledge of using plants medicinally is still heavily restricted and censored. However, the word is getting out about plant medicine. The wonderful book and TV show, How To Grow Your Own Drugs, by James Wong was a milestone. Herbs like mint, coriander, tansy and marjoram have always grown wild in the UK, whereas the Romans brought with them spices such as ginger, pepper and cinnamon, and herbs including borage, chervil, dill, fennel, lovage, sage and thyme, all of which are still part of the British kitchen. To me a garden is not complete without a herb area no matter how small it may be. Even as a child I had a small area of our family garden to tend which was for herbs. One of my favourite things is being able to garnish food with fresh herbs, make a healing herbal tea or make a healing balm like I did recently. Calendula or pot marigold is a very versatile plant and has a long history of use. It is linked to the Virgin Mary and was included in many 14th century recipes for things such as fighting the plague. The ancient Egyptians used it for its rejuvenating properties and the Hindus use it to adorn their altars. It has been used in culinary purposes and has been called ‘poor man’s saffron’, to adorn salads and to dye clothes. Historical recorded use of this plants flowers is for reducing inflammation, calming angry skin including eczema, nappy rash, cuts, grazes, bed sores, ulcers and varicose veins. I have used Weleda’s Calendula nappy cream for years and it is very effective to soothe sore bottoms quickly and naturally. However, if you’d like to make a simple healing balm here is a great recipe. Keep it in your bag when on the go and you can have an invaluable tool for first aid. Healing Balm 300ml of olive oil or coconut oil (or a combo of both) 1 cup of calendula flowers 2 sprigs of lemon balm ½ cup of lavender flowers 1 rose head of petals ½ cup chamomile flowers 3 tbs beeswax or candelilia wax (this is the vegan option) 10 drops of lavender oil Place the oil and the flowers into a saucepan and put on a very low heat for 20mins, never allowing to boil. This needs to be a very slow light simmer. You can also place all the flowers and the oil into a glass jar and leave to steep for 6 weeks. Strain the oil from the flowers and discard the flowers. With the oil place it back into the pan with your wax and allow to gentle melt at a low heat. When all the wax is melted add 10 drops of lavender oil and pour into glass jars to set. This will last up to a year. More recipes at 

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