Below are some photos from the clinic garden showing some of the medicinal herbs thriving there. Each of these plants has a long history of traditional use and folk-law surrounding it. Some of these herbs I use in my practice (although I rarely use them directly from the garden!)
- Butcher’s Broom (Ruscus aculeatus)
This strange plant with prickly pseudo-leaves grows in deep shade, even under the dense cover of yew trees. Traditionally this herb has been used to treat haemorrhoids and poor blood circulation, and current Medical Herbalists employ it, along with other herbs, in treating varicose veins.
- Cowslip (Primula veris)
Medicine made from cowslip help to thin mucus, so it has been used to treat sinusitis, coughs and colds but it also has a role in muscle spasms and treating heart failure. I find it particularly useful in treating coughs in children.
- Greater Celandine (Chelidonium majus)
When any part of this part is broken it oozes an intense yellow sap. This sap is used fresh, straight from the plant, in the treatment of warts and verrucas. I have seen good results with this treatment, especially when used frequently and persistently for some days or weeks.
- Herb Robert (Geranium robertianum)
Like most members of the Geraniaceae family this pretty flower has useful astringent properties. So in cases of diarrhoea, nausea, gastritis, inflamed gums or any other inflammation or swollen tissues, a tea made with this herb can be safely used internally or externally. Some say the pungent smell of the fresh leaves will ward off mosquitos if rubbed fresh onto the skin.
- Lungwort (Pulmonaria officinalis)
The clue is in the name with this distinctive herb. Conditions of the lungs, of any sort, will find relief with this mucilaginous, soothing herb. Inflammation has a crucial role to play in tissue response to assaults of many kinds, but it can get into a vicious circle and persist long after the cause is gone. In the lungs we can see bronchitis and persistent coughs in this light, and they respond wonderfully to the use of this anti inflammatory herbal medicine.
- Pasque-flower (Pulsatilla vulgaris)
I love this flower, and they love my garden! Not only are the flowers utterly delightful, but the seed heads are just lovely too. They look spiky but are soft as feathers. And in some sort of parallel to this they diffuse nasty acute pain, such as ear ache and other tissue specific pain, and I also find it valuable where emotional pain is an issue. Small and pretty it may be, but I rate this as a powerful herb.
- Perennial Cornflower (Centaurea montana)
An infusion can be used as a treatment for dropsy, constipation, as a mouthwash for bleeding gums and as an eye bath for conjunctivitis, but I don’t tend to use this stunning herb for anything other than its handsome, nay, regal, good looks.
- Stonecrop or Orpine (Sedum telephium)
Like Aloe-Vera, the mucilage in the succulent leaves of stonecrop can promptly and effectively treat burns, scalds and inflamed skin: break open a leaf and rub the jelly on the affected area. It is also an anti-inflammatory for the gut, as are other mucilaginous herbs.
- Sweet Cicely (Myrrhis odorata)
This is a useful culinary plant as every part of it – leaves, flowers and seeds – are edible, with a taste that is both sweet and aniseed in character. This natural sweetness can be put to use in cooking and is especially good with rhubarb, as it counters the astringency and dental effects of the oxalic acid in this rather high oxalate stem ‘fruit’. It can be used in other desserts too, allowing a lot less sugar to be used.