Friday, 9 October 2015

Hawthorn plant spirit initiation - a transformative process

Last weekend I attended a three day retreat led by with Pam Montgomery, author of 'Plant Spirit Healing, A Guide to Working with Plant Consciousness', to make a deep connection with the plant spirit of Hawthorn, my chosen herbal ally for my first year as a herbwife apprentice.  I saw the retreat advertised the same week I published a post all about Hawthorn, so I really felt a calling to attend.  The retreat was organised by Archetype events who run courses and conferences on plant consciousness, shamanism and related subjects.  Pam and others such as Eliot Cowan, author of 'Plant spirit Medicine', have been inspired by indigenous healing traditions to work with plants on spiritual & energetic levels as well as the physical level of plants as medicinal substances.

In her book Pam writes about her realisation that practising as a herbalist using herbs purely as physical medicine was not addressing the energetic and spiritual blockages & imbalances which underlie the physical manifestation of illness.  She found that working with plants on an energetic and spiritual level can assist with healing in a very profound way and leads to personal transformation to a spirit and heart centred way of being in harmony with our environment.

A method of making a spiritual & energetic connection with plant spirits is to carry out a ceremonial plant diet.  Plant dieting is a traditional process which may involve a range of practices to make a profound relationship with a plant spirit for guidance and healing.  Author Carole Guyett who lives in Ireland has been inspired to carry out sacred plant diets with local native plants as detailed in her book 'Sacred Plant Initiations' which describes how to carry out a ceremonial plant diet and gives examples of plants worked with in this way for each of the 8 seasonal festivals of the wheel of the year.

The retreat involved a ceremonial plant diet of specially prepared Hawthorn elixir whilst fasting or eating only small amounts of foods such as apples, nuts, nut butter & rice cakes for the 2 1/2 day period of the retreat.   Participants were instructed to undertake a gentle liver cleanse for the three days prior to the retreat by taking 1-3 tablespoons of organic cold-pressed virgin olive oil mixed with 1-3 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice followed by half a lemon in hot water an hour before breakfast and to avoid red meat, dairy, refined sugar and excessive amounts of salt, alcohol & coffee.

The retreat was held at Poulstone Court a retreat centre set in quiet countryside in Herefordshire close to the River Wye.  During the retreat we spent time in beautiful hedgerow rimmed meadows running along the far bank of the river, reached by a suspension bridge, which was just a few minutes walk from the centre.

The retreat started with gathering as a group for an introduction to the plant dieting process.   The elixir used for a plant diet usually includes every part of the plant, if they can be ingested, in water-based & alcohol-based extracts and flower essences.  Some plants may be used in other ways eg essential oils or infused oils of the plant may be used for anointing the skin and plants used for smudging or smoking could be used in that way.  There is often a support plant for the group and individual process of the plant initiation.  In this case Pam drew a card from the 'Messages from the Plant World', a deck of transformational plant spirit healing cards, for the group as a whole and we each drew a card for an individual support plant for the retreat.

The Hawthorn plant materials used for the plant diet had been gathered in Autumn last year and Spring this year.  The extracts used for the elixir made for the retreat were flower tincture, berry tincture with berries from Wales and from Vermont in the USA where Pam is from, flower essence, infusions of flowers, leaves & berries and distilled flower essence, with the addition of local cider as apples are a support plant for Hawthorn.  The distilled flower essence had been made using an alembic containing flowers and spring water heated over a low heat to create a very concentrated water extract.  The plants were harvested and extracts made with spiritual intent and ceremony.  The elixir contained about 1/3 alcohol and 2/3 water.   There was enough elixir for each participant to have 16 fluid ounces in total, 2 fluid ounces for each of the 8 servings of elixir during the retreat.  

The process began with all participants putting an object on the altar laid out in the centre of the space which would be empowered with the energy of Hawthorn for us to put on our altar on return home.  We also wrote our intentions on a piece of paper and put this under the edge of the altar cloth.  We were each smudged in turn with Mugwort, Agrimony & Sagebrush to begin the ceremonial process.  Pam then carried out a ceremonial honouring of the directions of East, South, West, North, Below, Above and Centre.  The Hawthorn extracts and cider were poured into a large pan, with a smaller pan with water-based extracts only for one participant who did not wish to consume alcohol.  The extracts were then ritually stirred by each participant in turn with prayers & good intentions being offered while the whole group drummed and chanted.  The stirring was done in a specific way to create a vortex in one direction then in the other direction, with the spoons being handed on to the next person while the liquid was still in motion.  After the stirring had been completed we had our first drink of the elixir, going up one at a time to receive our helping.

We then were lead on a short walk to the common by the river to each find a Hawthorn to spend time with.  We were invited to use all our senses to get a felt sensation of the vibratory resonance of Hawthorn, to 'put a handle' on this as a way to reconnect with the plant spirit later.  We were also invited to spend time daydreaming with Hawthorn, being aware of everything going on around us and thoughts and images arising in our minds.   I found a place in a ditch with Hawthorns on either side.  I felt a sense of calmness and peace but also a sense of vitality with a fiery quality.  I saw shimmering webs of spider's silk catching the light in the spaces between the trees, bringing a message of Hawthorn's energy of connection.   When walking back through a different corner of the field I found a beautiful Hawthorn covered in clumps of Mistletoe that I returned to several times during the retreat, it felt that this was a really special tree.

Hawthorn & Mistletoe

After spending time with Hawthorn out in nature we returned to the retreat centre for a guided shamanic journey to meet the spirit of Hawthorn on an inner level.  I found myself experiencing Hawthorn through the seasons, from the rising sap and growth of new leaves in the spring, the glorious profusion of flowers in May, the ripening fruit and abundance of Autumn, the wood as fuel for the fire in winter.  I had a experience of the purifying fire energy of Hawthorn and felt a real sense of blessing from this journey.  After the journey we had another drink of the elixir and were asked to notice what is different about the taste & feel of this drink compared to the first drink.  Following this we walked a spiral labyrinth laid out on the lawn with rope and were asked 3 questions at the entrance, the half-way point and centre of the labyrinth, to guide us in our process for the retreat.

After the labyrinth journey we were invited to go out alone to sing & play music to Hawthorn and maybe receive the medicine song of Hawthorn.  I went back to the Hawthorn covered in Mistletoe and spent time drumming & singing there until the sun set behind the hedge-line on the horizon.   That evening we had another drink of the elixir and we were asked to write a love letter or poem to ourselves.  This was a very self-affirming thing to do, I let the words just flow as they came naturally.  We were also invited to ask Hawthorn for a dream when we went to sleep and shared our dreams the next morning when we gathered for our next drink of the elixir.

On the Saturday morning we were guided through the Greenbreath process.  This involved breathing in a particular way accompanied by recorded music and verbal prompts to lead us through stages to break up stuck energy, release trauma and move through obstacles & blocks to the free flow of energy and connection to spirit, helped by the Hawthorn plant spirit.  The breath is a way to access spirit via plants as we take in their energy by breathing in the oxygen they give out and they take in our energy by absorbing the carbon dioxide we breathe out.  This process moved a lot of energy and assisted with releasing emotion, leading to a place of deep stillness and peace.  

On the Saturday afternoon we had another drink of elixir and were then invited to go out to our sit spot to find a twig and make prayers of what we want to invoke and be grateful for in our lives, winding coloured yarn round the twig for each prayer.  The intention of the process was to help us to honour the sacred, to invite spirit into our lives and focus our intention on putting the heart on the throne of our lives.  After this we were lead on another shamanic journey, to experience dismemberment and transformation into a new form, with the help of Hawthorn, followed by another drink of the elixir, absorbing it ever more deeply into our being.

For the Saturday evening fire ceremony we each made a mask for our embodiment of Hawthorn and dressed in ceremonial clothing to honour and feed spirit.  We held a Hawthorn council, each speaking for the spirit of Hawthorn, speaking words from the heart.  On the Sunday morning we had our final drink of the elixir then went as a group to gather round the Hawthorn tree covered in Mistletoe to each speak our thanks to Hawthorn and offer a handmade gift we had been asked to bring as an offering.  We concluded with a talking stick circle to each share our story of how Hawthorn is guiding us in living with heart.  We were given bottles of Hawthorn flower essence to keep taking up until Samhain, the next holy day in the wheel of the year, to help us to keep working with Hawthorn and integrating the Hawthorn energy in our daily lives in the world.

Hawthorn mask

This was a very special weekend which has opened a doorway to working with plants on a deeper level, as healing spirit beings as well as physical medicines.  I hope those reading this may be inspired to explore this way of working with plants in the future.  May this be of benefit to our fellow beings.


'Plant Spirit Healing' Pam Montgomery.
'Plant Spirit Medicine' Eliot Cowan.
'Sacred Plant Initiations' Carole Guyett.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Harvest of riches

Apologies for having been 'off air' for so long, it's been a busy time.

I want to mark the Autumn Equinox by sharing some of what I have been harvesting and making over the last couple of months from my visits to Springfield Herb Sanctuary and from the herb beds in my allotment.   This post will feature flowers & leaves, posts later in the Autumn will feature fruit & seeds.

Herbs harvested at Springfield Herb Sanctuary

 Calendula, Hyssop & Evening Primrose flowers

Basket of herbs gathered at the allotment

Marshmallow & Calendula flowers


Is a mucilaginous herb, which helps to lubricate and soothe tissues.  It is soothing & healing for the respiratory & digestive systems.  Its energetic effects seem to be in line with its physical properties as it is said to be helpful with interpersonal relationships, it can help smooth communication, helping us to be open & warm towards others.  At the August workshop at Springfield Herb Sanctuary I made Marshmallow flower essence.  I picked a few flower heads and put them in a jar of spring water to infuse for several hours in the sun.  The flowers were then removed with a stalk and the water was poured to half fill a jar, the rest was then filled with brandy to preserve the flower essence.  The essence can be taken a few drops at a time when desired.  

I took some leaves home which were used to make a double-infused oil.  The oil can be used for boils, bruises, sprains, muscle aches & pains, scalds & burns, insect bites & stings.  Fresh leaves could also be used in poultice for these.  Marshmallow infused oil can be used in an intimate lubricant with St John's Wort oil which is anti-bacterial and Calendula which is also soothing, with beeswax to 1:10 of the volume of oil, to make a soft salve, make in small batches.


Making Marshmallow flower essence

Marshmallow flower essence

Marshmallow leaves

Making Marshmallow infused oil


This is an anti-viral herb.   It is a hot plant so is good for sore throats, colds & coughs, taken in tea or in honey or syrup.  It can also be helpful for tinnitus caused by inner ear congestion.  It promotes local circulation which helps recovery.    It can help relieve stomach ache & flatulence.  I used Bergamot flowers to make a burns honey with Rose petals and Evening Primrose flowers.   Caution - should be avoided in pregnancy & breast-feeding. 


Bergamot, Rose petal & Evening Primrose burns honey


It will stop bleeding from wounds & nosebleeds.  Taken internally it relaxes muscles surrounding blood vessels and relieves congested blood flow so is good for period pain, high blood pressure, varicose veins & fevers.  We made Yarrow double-infused oil during the August workshop at Springfield Herb Sanctuary for use on old wounds such as surgical scars and skin rashes.  I made a tincture with some of Yarrow I picked and kept some for use in infusions, which help to induce sweating to cool fever in colds & flu.  It has diuretic & anti-bacterial properties so Yarrow tea is also useful in the treatment of cystitis.  Cautions - do not use in pregnancy.  It may cause skin irritation in people who are sensitive to the daisy family.  It is advisable to consult a trained medical herbalist if using Yarrow for treatment of high blood pressure.


Making Yarrow infused oil

Yarrow oil

Yarrow tincture

Echinacea/Purple Coneflower

There are several species of Echinacea, they can all be used medicinally.  All parts of the plant can be used.  They can be used in teas, tinctures, powders & compresses.  I made tincture with some of the flower heads, to use when developing an infection such as a cold or flu.  Research shows that it enhances the mobility & effectiveness of white blood cells, so helps the body fight infection.  It is also useful internally & externally for small wounds, sprains, abrasions, bruises & stings.  In the US it is used for poisonous stings & bites, used in large frequent doses of up to 60ml of tincture at 10-30 minute intervals & also applied externally, reduce the dose & frequency when the swelling subsides, in addition to seeking medical attention.  Echinacea remedies are generally most effective if taken in small amounts frequently eg 3-10 drops every 10-30 minutes when needed for an acute problem.  Caution - be careful with Echinacea if you have an auto-immune disease such as Ulcerative Colitis as it could cause a flare-up of symptoms.  It can also cause an allergic reaction in some people.


Echinacea tincture


It was a significant herb in the European tradition in the past but is underused in modern western herbalism, though it is still an important herb in Chinese medicine. It is an astringent herb that is very effective in stopping bleeding & relieving pain, so it was a traditional wound herb, known as a healing plant to the Anglo-Saxons.   It is also helpful for burns, used as a tincture both externally & internally, cool the burn first under running water then wet a cotton ball with tincture and hold in place until the burn stops hurting, the tincture can be put directly onto the burn if needed and can also be taken internally, until the pain subsides.  

It is one of the Bach flower essences, for people who hide inner turmoil & avoid dealing with difficult issues.  The American herbalist Matthew Wood recommends Agrimony for mental & physical tension & work-related stress and for pain that makes the person hold their breath.  He has found that Agrimony works on a magical level as well as a physical level, particularly with issues in people's work environments, just having a leaf of the plant present in the workplace can change the energetic situation.

It is a bitter herb that increases bile flow, so is useful in treating gallstones and for bowel health generally, especially for conditions which have alternating constipation & diarrhoea as it helps to release tension & balance the digestive.  It contains tannins which are astringent, which reduces swelling & inflammation in the bowel wall and can help normalise gut bacteria, so is helpful for irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease.  The whole flowering plant is used.   It is also helpful for the urinary tract and helps to ease the pain of kidney stones, irritable bladder & chronic cystitis.  It can safely be given to children for bed-wetting & to the elderly for incontinence.  Dried Agrimony can be used in tea or infused in water & added to a bath or footbath.  I made a tincture with the fresh herb, 3-5 drops to be taken in a little water 3 times a day for tension or cystitis, half a teaspoon 3 times daily for diarrhoea. 


Agrimony tincture


Leaves, shoot tips & flowers can be used fresh in salads, it has an aromatic flavour.  It has a long history of medicinal use.  It is an aromatic, warming, anti-inflammatory member of the Mint family.  It is classed as a calming tonic herb.  It helps inflamed tissues heal as it strengthens capillaries & increases peripheral blood supply.  It helps slow viral replication, particularly in the lungs.  It encourages sweating & is a diuretic.  It makes an excellent gargle for sore throats.  It is best known for use with respiratory infections, especially with excessive production of mucous.  It is particularly helpful during the recovery phase of 'flus and fevers.  Tea made with the dried herb can also be used for flatulence and other digestive problems.    It is also helpful for urinary tract infections.  Caution - do not use during pregnancy as large doses can induce miscarriage.  For more information about Hyssop see


Dried Hyssop

Anise Hyssop

The flowers & leaves are edible and can be used as a garnish on salads & fruit salads or as an accompaniment to savoury dishes or as a flavouring in bread.  Tea made with Anise Hyssop can be used as a remedy for wounds, fevers, diarrhoea & coughs.  It is a cardiac tonic and induces sweating.  Fresh herb can be used in a poultice for burns.  For more information on Anise Hyssop see

Anise Hyssop

Dried Anise Hyssop


I had already made Calendula infused oil and tincture earlier in the summer.  The plants have kept flowering so I have picked flowers for drying.  These can be used for intestinal or bladder problems, menstrual cramps & to help knit broken bones.  Fresh petals can be used as a garnish with salads & drinks.  Dried petals can be added to soups, baked foods & rice.  Strong Calendula tea can be used as a rinse to give a golden tint to blond hair, pour the strained cold tea over the hair over a bowl, repeat at least 15 times then let the hair dry with the tea in it.

Calendula flower

Dried Calendula petals


Small flowered Willowherbs are a specific remedy for prostate problems, particularly benign prostate enlargement, they help shrink the tissues & normalise urinary function.  This was popularised by the Austrian herbalist Maria Treben.  They are also effective for other bladder & urinary problems with astringent & diuretic action toning & detoxifying the urinary tract.   The dried herb can be used in tea, 2-3 cups a day.


Dried Willowherb

Holy Basil

Earlier in the year we planted out lots of Holy Basil plants in the herb beds at Springfield Herb Sanctuary.  We harvested it during the Herb Festival in September.  It is an adaptogen which is good for stress, it can be used in food.  It is an annual so I will be saving some seed to try planting next year to grow.

Holy Basil


'Hedgerow Medicine' Julie Bruton-Seal & Matthew Seal.
'Letting in the Wild Edges' Glennie Kindred.
'Practical Herbs' & 'Practical Herbs 2' Henriette Kress. 
'The Book of Herbal Wisdom' Matthew Wood.
'The Herbalist's Bible' Julie Bruton-Seal & Matthew Seal.
'Wild Drugs' Zoe Hawes.

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Treading in the footsteps of the ancestors

We spent last week in West Wales.  While we were there we visited a number of ancient sites including Castell Henllys which is an iron-age hill-fort settlement which contains several roundhouses which were reconstructed on their original foundations.   They have been kitted out with the sort of furnishings and tools that would have been used when the site was occupied over 2000 years ago.  There is a herb garden on the site which contains some of the herbs that would have been used by the people who lived there.  I also came across plants that would have been used by the ancestral people of the area when walking in the stunning landscape of the Pembrokeshire coast & hills.

Castell Henllys reconstructed iron-age settlement
 Inside a reconstructed roundhouse
Herb garden at Castell Henllys
 Musk Mallow in the herb garden

Burdock growing near the coast
Sea Plantain - a variety of Ribwort Plantain which grows on the coast
Hemp Agrimony growing by the path
 Betony growing by the coastal footpath

I bought a little book in the excellent shop at the visitor's centre called 'Welsh Herbal Medicine' by David Hoffman, who later went on to write 'The New Holistic Herbal', which was one of my first books on herbalism and which I still find an excellent resource.  'Welsh Herbal Medicine' gives an outline of the history of medicine in Wales.  Medicine was one of the arts taught and handed down in the oral traditions of the druids in ancient Wales.  The use of herbs for both physical and magical purposes was a central part of druidic medical practice, alongside guidelines for healthy living.

The traditions were passed down largely orally until the middle ages when they were written down by the famous Physicians of Myddfai, about whom there is a legend that their founders were the sons of a magical lady who appeared from a local lake who taught them the properties of plants.  Their descendants continued to practice medicine up until the 18th Century.  The original manuscript is now in the British Museum and refers to about 175 plants used for remedies, most of which were common wild plants, to be made into remedies with water, alcohol, honey etc as we still do today.

As an apprentice herbwife I am drawing on thousands of years of accumulated knowledge and experience in working with plants for health and wellbeing.  I feel drawn to reconnect with the down to earth approach of country people of using local plants rather than exotic plants and manufactured medicines.  This is what most people would have used right up until recent times, as documented in 'Memory, Wisdom and Healing, The History of Domestic Plant Medicine' by Gabrielle Hatfield and 'Green Pharmacy, The History and Evolution of Westerm Herbal Medicine' by Barbara Griggs.  In the terminology of another author I have been reading, Susun Weed, I am following the way of the Wise Woman, to nurture health & wellbeing through nourishment and working with plants as allies on the journey through the lifecycle.

It feels very personally nurturing and empowering to be able to go out and gather wild plants and to grow plants in the garden which provide nourishment and help maintain the healthy functioning of body and mind.  Modern medicine does not provide this, although it does have its place for diagnosing and treating some conditions which traditional approaches may not be effective for on their own.  I am not trying to turn back the clock, I am a twenty-first century apprentice herbwife who has the benefit of access to scientific knowledge as well as traditional knowledge.  But I honour the ancestors who first learned how to use plants for healing and passed those traditions down through the centuries right up until the present day.

Below there are just a few of the plants I have harvested and remedies I have made which have a history of use in traditional herbalism.


Nettles were a sacred herb to the Anglo-Saxons.  They enhance our immunity and help protect from infection.  They have an anti-histamine effect and can help reduce the severity of asthma attacks.   They reduce blood sugar levels and stimulate circulation.  They are a blood tonic as they are high in iron and chlorophyll and they help clear the blood of urates & toxins through stimulating the kidneys.  At this time of year the leaves are toxic to use but the seeds can be harvested by cutting nettle heads with green seeds, laying them on newspaper to dry, then stripping the seeds off the stems.   A teaspoon of seeds a day can be added to porridge or other dishes or mixed with runny honey to make an electuary which can be taken on its own.  

 Nettle seeds


Also called All-heal for its wide range of medicinal uses.  It has a long history of use in Western folk medicine used externally for wounds and internally for mouth & throat problems such as swollen glands, tonsillitis, laryngitis, mumps, mouth ulcers & healing after tooth extractions.  It is also useful for fevers, diarrhoea & internal bleeding.   It has recently been recognised as having anti-viral and anti-bacterial qualities and immune-stimulating effects so is helpful for colds & flu and could be useful for treating herpes & AIDS.  It has an affinity with the lymphatic system, helping the body to clear infection and toxins and to remove excess uric acid via the kidneys, which is helpful for treating gout.  It is also helpful for liver, gallbladder & thyroid problems.   

The 17th century herbalist John Parkinson suggested mixing the juice with rose oil for headaches for external use on the forehead & temples.  It has a relaxing effect on the nervous system and can help lower blood pressure.   Parkinson also recommended mixing Self-heal with rose honey for mouth ulcers & genital sores.  It is also helpful made into ointment for minor injuries, broken bones & dislocated joints.


Self-heal tincture 


Is an ancient herb of healing & magic.  It was a key Anglo-Saxon sacred herb and continued to be used magically in Christian times, such as the wearing of a mugwort garland on St John's day, the 24th of June, whilst dancing round the midsummer fire and casting the garland into the fire to ensure protection for the coming year.  It is still used in this way for the protection of people and animals in midsummer ceremonies in the Isle of Man to this day.  It has the power to influence dreams by being put under the pillow or made into a dream pillow or being drunk before bed.  It can stimulate vivid, even lucid dreams, which links to its associations with magic.   It can be used to make smudging sticks for energetic space clearing, on a practical level it has a history of use to dispel insects such as midges, moths & flies.  It was traditionally used as a herbal flavouring for ale before hops were used.  

It is strongly associated with women's natural cycles of menstruation, childbirth and menopause.  It can help regulate menstrual flow and the menstrual cycle.  It is an aromatic bitter which warms the digestion and stimulates the liver.  It has a calming effect on the nervous system, relieving stress, tension and mild depression.   It contains lots of minerals, so is a good herb to use to make herbal vinegar which is an effective way of extracting minerals to make a natural mineral supplement to be taken neat or diluted.  I like to take it neat as I really like the flavour.  Caution - it is contraindicated in pregnancy due to the stimulating effect on the uterus.  

Mugwort vinegar


was known as a cure-all plant in the past.  It is one of the best herbs to use for first-aid treatment of wounds & nosebleeds.  It staunches bleeding, breaks up congested blood and is anti-microbial.  It tones blood vessels so has a beneficial effect on the whole circulatory system for problems such as hypertension & thrombosis, it combines well with nettle & lime blossom for this.  It is also helpful for menstrual problems including painful periods, so is an important herb for women.  It is also a leading herb for use in feverish conditions such as flu by relaxing the skin to open the pores and allow sweating and the release of toxins.  It is traditionally combined with Elderflower & Peppermint in a tea for colds & flu.  It is safe for use for children.  It is also helpful for problems of the digestive system such as diarrhoea & stomach cramps and for cystitis & arthritic conditions.  Yarrow also had magical associations and was traditionally used for divination.  

The leaves can be harvested fresh at any time of year though are best gathered when the plant is in flower to make tincture or to be dried for use in tea.  The active constituents vary from plant to plant, some plants are a lot stronger than others.  Caution - it should be avoided in pregnancy due to stimulating effect on the uterus.  It can cause allergic rashes and make the skin sensitive to sunlight.  Large doses can cause headaches.  

Yarrow tincture


The name comes from the word febrifuge as it was traditionally used to reduce fevers.  It was often planted round houses to purify the air & ward off disease in the past.  It was historically used as a women's herb for problems of the uterus and menstruation.  It was also used externally as a poultice for insect bites & stings.  The Physicians of Myddfai used it with Plantain, Bugle & Sage to make an ointment for bruises & sores.  Research has found it has anti-histamine & anti-inflammatory effects.  It is now most commonly used as a remedy for headaches and modern research has found it to be an effective remedy for migraine symptoms, reducing the frequency & intensity of attacks.  It is helpful for nervousness, low spirits and as a general tonic.  It has been used to help relieve withdrawal symptoms from alcohol.  It is also helpful for attacks of vertigo and for fevers.  It also has a pain-relieving & anti-inflammatory action which is helpful for arthritis.   It has a stimulant effect on the digestion & liver and is helpful for colic & flatulence.

The leaves should be eaten fresh or made into tincture as they lose most of their properties on drying.  The tincture can be taken for a few days before menstruation to reduce period pains.  It should be taken at the first sign of a migraine starting.  A fresh leaf can be taken every day as a prophylactic to prevent or reduce migraine attacks.  It combines well with Betony for headaches and with Cramp bark for period pains.  Caution - it should be avoided in pregnancy and if on blood-thinning medication.  Handling the leaves can cause contact dermatitis & eating the leaves may cause mouth ulcers in some people.   
Feverfew tincture

White Horehound, Sage & Thyme elixir

This elixir combines White Horehound, Sage & Thyme chopped in a jar which is then half-filled with honey and filled to the top with brandy and left to steep for about a month then strained and bottled to make an excellent traditional remedy for respiratory conditions.  

White Horehound is one of the best known chest remedies.  It is very effective for all coughs, colds & respiratory conditions.  It is expectorant & anti-spasmodic.  It is used in acute & chronic bronchitis, particularly bronchitis with a non-productive cough.  It is also used for whooping cough.  

Sage is particularly good for sore throats & phlegmy coughs.  It helps dry up excess mucous in the respiratory tract.  It has a stimulating effect on the immune system.  

Thyme has a cleansing and anti-septic effect.  It is best known as a respiratory herb which helps expectoration and relieves coughs and asthma.  It supports the immune system and has anti-inflammatory effects.   
White Horehound 

 White Horehound, Sage & Thyme elixir

'Green Pharmacy, The History and Evolution of Western Herbal Medicine' Barbara Griggs. 
'Hedgerow Medicine' Julie Bruton-Seal & Matthew Seal.
'Memory, Wisdom and Healing, The History of Domestic Plant Medicine' Gabrielle Hatfield. 
'The Herbalist's Bible' Julie Bruton-Seal & Matthew Seal.
'The New Holistic Herbal' David Hoffmann.
'Welsh Herbal Medicine' David Hoffmann.
'Wild Drugs' Zoe Hawes.
'Wise Woman Herbal Healing Wise' Susun Weed.