Diann Fletcher Jones amongst many things is a recently qualified medicinal herbalist, as you can imagine Diann herself is very passionate about the health benefits that herbs can bring and so has decided to share some of this information on a monthly basis! And hopefully before too long we will have a catalogue of different herbs for various ailements and conditions that you can refer to anytime you wish.
Stop and Smell the Flowers
Stellaria Media (Chickweed)
Is a prolific little nutrient dense plant that offers soothing and cooling relief to many different symptoms of heat, dryness, and inflammation.
Chickweed is high in saponins.
Saponins have a range of activity within the body. They can regulate blood sugar, support a healthy microbiome, and modulate inflammation.
Chickweed gently moves the lymph. Consider it when there are swollen lymph glands or when there is swelling and oedema, indicating a stagnant lymphatic system.
Chickweed is also famously used for benign cysts. It can be used topically and frequently for common types of cysts, including ganglion cysts. Susan Weed recommends it internally for women with ovarian cysts.
Many different hot or inflamed skin conditions are a good match for chickweed. Redness, irritation, and itchiness can be soothed with a topical poultice of the fresh plant.
I add it to most of my healing salves along with plantain, calendula and comfrey.
Nettle (Urtica dioica)
Nettle is nutrient dense and eating it regularly can supply you with the needed vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients that are most likely missing from your diet.
Nettles are a rich source of calcium, Iron magnesium, protein, manganese and Vitamin K.
It is a powerful diuretic and facilitates the excretion of waste from the body. What I would say is that if you have symptoms of systemic dryness like dry skin or irritated dry cough or dry eyes I would not drink the infusion.
However you can take nettles fresh either by popping them in your morning smoothie or even better making a spring nettle soup. I have added a link at the bottom for a beautiful soup, but the internet is teeming with recipes for soups and pesto’s.
I have noticed in both myself and my patients that over time when you drink nettle tea regularly you will notice an improvement in your sense of wellbeing, energy levels, and your skin and energy levels will improve.
Collect them this time of the year and only the nettle tops. Be mindful as usual where you gather them from, steer clear of busy roads or farmland that you know sprays pesticides. To be honest I would encourage you all to foster a little nettle bed in your garden. They are one of the most beneficial wild flowers that we have.
Enjoy the Spring
A lovely vegan nettle soup can be found at : https://glosvegans.wordpress.com/tag/vegan-nettle-soup/
Cleavers (Gallium Aparine)
As you walk along the hedgerows at the moment you will glimpse the spring green whirls of cleavers bursting forth from the winter chilled earth.
This is the best time to gather them (away from fertilizers, busy roads or other sources of pollution).
This lovely little herb is one of the best lymphatic herbs I know. Dried and made into an infusion in early spring is a wonderful way to cleanse and tone the lymphatic system and the urinary system. This in turn benefits the skin and can improve many skin conditions.
In my opinion the infusion is the best choice as you are hydrating at the same time facilitating the detoxifying of these systems. It can also be used in tincture form, or for more powerful effects add the fresh herb to your morning juice.
Siberian Ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus)
There is a little stretch in the evenings, it’s a little brighter in the mornings and the promise of spring is just a little closer. However we have a ways to go before the warm weather and extra sunshine improves our wellbeing.
Siberian Ginseng, which is not a native plant to Ireland but to Siberia, Japan and Korea, has the ability to give us the support we need to get us through this last leg of winter.
It is known as an adaptogenic herb, simply put adaptogens are herbs that help the body modulate stress, support metabolism and restore balance to the body. These herbs have been widely researched and have a lot of scientific evidence affirming their benefits.
Some of the many positive effects of Siberian Ginseng may include:
Improved stress response
Improved energy and performance
Improved immune response and adrenal support
Siberian Ginseng is available in tincture form and can be taken for long periods of time (e.g. six months).
As with any herbal remedies check with your health food store, herbalist or if you are on any medications your GP or Pharmacist before starting any herbal product.
Enjoy the spring
Warm wishes Diann
Centaury (Centaurium erythraea)
The flowers open only in fine weather and not after mid-day: Gerard chronicles their love of light, saying that they ‘in the day-time and after the sun is up, do open themselves and towards evening do shut up again.’ (Modern herbal)
The whole herb, collected in July, when just breaking into flower and dried.
I love bitter herbs, and bitter is a taste that is rapidly being lost from our diets as we grow accustomed to sweeter and saltier foods.
Centaury is a bitter herb and I have chosen it because common centaury is also a native of Ireland. Its name in Irish is Dreimire Mhuire meaning Mary’s Ladder due to the tiny steps of its oval leaves running up the stem. It is thought this was because if its ability to cleanse and purify the body.
Why do we need bitters? What benefit could this now uncommon taste have for you?
Bitter herbs stimulate the flow of all your digestive enzymes and your stomach acid. It therefore improves both the digestion and absorption of your foods. This can really help with that sluggish bloated feeling you might run into after all the Christmas cheer.
I have used them myself to curb sugar cravings and noticed a renewed vitality. Bitter herbs also have a role to play in balancing your blood sugars, easing nausea and regulating your bowel movements.
You can add bitters like Centaury to your diet in tincture form before meals or if you are feeling the discomfort of over indulging afterwards.
Centaury and other bitter herbs are readily available in health stores, if you would like more information or an appointment with myself, you can contact me as per below. I take appointments on Wednesday afternoons and Saturday mornings in Only Natural.
Diann Fletcher Jones
Master Medical Herbalist (IAMMH)
Eating Disorder Practitioner (NAEDP UK)
Psychiatric Nurse (RPN)
Hdip AdEd (NUI Maynooth)