Welcome to the Apothecary

To go to my website click the link: apothecarygreens.weebly.com

NOTE: The information in this blog does not constitute the practice of medicine, and does not replace the advice of your health care provider.

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Welcome to 2015 from Apothecary Greens

Welcome to 2015!

A new year has commenced, a time when people make resolutions towards goals of fitness, health, and weightloss. When making resolutions ensure you keep them simple, monitor and review your progress regularly and remind yourself of your goals. This way you are more likely to succeed in keeping your resolutions and reaching your target for the year!

I am very happy to announce that this year Apothecary Greens will feature posts from guest bloggers, including a very creative lady who blogs over at Zentangle Creations; I am really happy that she has accepted my invitation to be a guest blogger and I am sure you will join me in welcoming her!

Looking forward to writing about alternative therapies and herbs and gardening!

Hope your 2015 will be wonderful.

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 NOTE: The information in this blog does not constitute the practice of medicine, and does not replace the advice of your health care provider.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Be aware of how natural supplements may effect your prescribed medications

Herbal remedies, vitamin and mineral supplements, aromatherapy, and other naturally based therapies are nothing new. Surprisingly however, despite them being around for a long time, it seems that there are still some users of alternative therapies that may not understand that although these remedies are natural they can still be considered medicines and need to be used with the same care that is used with prescribed traditional medicines.

When you are at a Doctor and they ask you what other medication you are using, do you ever consider also telling them about any alternative therapies you are using?

For example, say you were on a prescription to thin your blood, (Warfarin is a commonly used medicine for this) and you were also taking a large amount of Ginseng which is also a blood thinner, the two together could have a major impact on the condition of your blood, thinning it to a dangerous level. 

So if you were taking large amounts of Ginseng, would you tell the Doctor when he asks what other medication you are on? Or would you feel that it is herbal, a natural thing, so its not a medicine? 

Please be careful when taking natural supplements at medicinal/therapeutic levels , they are medicines, and need to be treated with the same care as your traditional pharmaceuticals.


RESOURCE LINKS

CHECKING FOR POSSIBLE HERB-DRUG INTERACTIONS
Potential Interactions Between Alternative Therapies and Warfarin
http://www.woodlandherbs.co.uk/acatalog/cautions.html
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 NOTE: The information in this blog does not constitute the practice of medicine, and does not replace the advice of your health care provider.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Balm for bruises, sprains, and sore backs

This morning, after getting up very early, it is Sunday I so wanted to sleep in, but my week day habits of a 5am start seem to prevent the weekend slumber, I decided to make a balm for my husband's sore back.

We buy heat rubs frequently for his back issues, and they are expensive plus they have a lot of preservatives of the noxious kind, so I thought I would make him so heat rub for his back.

I previously posted the recipe in to my website for Bruise Balm, and essentially this heat rub is Bruise Balm but with more heat.

In addition to the ingredients as per Bruise Balm, I added to the melted oils 2 tablespoons very fine ground ginger and 2 tablespoons very fine ground cayenne pepper.

The I made the balm as per my method outlined in my website.

This balm feels super warm on the skin and as well as the temporary pain relief it gives to sore aching muscles and bones, the cayenne and ginger help to increase the peripheral circulation, meaning that there is an increased oxygenated blood flow to the injured areas, helping to speed up the repair process.

Beware: do not put this anywhere near your face it is hot!

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 NOTE: The information in this blog does not constitute the practice of medicine, and does not replace the advice of your health care provider.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Spotlight on Herbs: Golden Seal

Golden Seal is a very effective ‘ all rounder’ in herbal medicine; it has antibiotic, anti-inflammatory and astringent properties making it versatile in treating many ailments.




Golden Seal contains a chemical called Berberine which has been researched in laboratories and found to have anti bacterial properties. Berberine is an alkaloid with a yellow pigment and a bitter taste. 

Berberine C20H18NO4
As a bacteria fighter, anti-inflammatory and astringent Golden Seal effectively treats skin disorders such as abscesses, eczema, boils and acne.

As an astringent it aids digestion and works as a mild laxative  as well as helping to clean and promote healthy intestinal function.  It assists in regulating the menstrual cycle and reducing excessive bleeding, it soothes mucus membranes and stomach ulcers, as well as being an effective treatment for respiratory infections, irritated eyes, and liver illnesses.

Caution 
Must be avoided during pregnancy as it stimulates uterine contractions.
Should not be used without medical guidance if heart disease, diabetes or high blood pressure is also present.

Please note that the active chemical Berberine in Golden seal can be dangerous to infants, if you are a lactating Mother please do not consume items containing Berberine as it can pass to the child via the milk and be harmful.

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 NOTE: The information in this blog does not constitute the practice of medicine, and does not replace the advice of your health care provider.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

DIY: cold oil herbal infusions

Preparing your own oil infusions to use in home made balms and creams will save you money, and the added bonus is you know what you are putting in them!

This method will take some time from start to when you can use it, but it is the method I prefer unless I am in a hurry!

Chop up your chosen herbs (they need to be dried) *
pack them into a sterilised clear jar
cover with carrier oil (virgin olive oil is cheap and works well)
seal jar tightly and shake lightly
place in a warm sunny spot (window seals are ideal)
every day give the jar a shake
leave them in this spot for 2-3 weeks at least
Then strain the infused oil into a dark glass bottle
if stored in a cool dark place it will last for up to a year
LABEL IT!




* The reason I suggest that the herbs used to create an infusion are dried is that any moisture added into the infusion via fresh (damp) vegetation can introduce moulds or bacteria into the infusion. For safety reasons i prefer to use dried herbs.

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 NOTE: The information in this blog does not constitute the practice of medicine, and does not replace the advice of your health care provider.

DIY: Bruise Balm

Bruise balm - set in the containers 
I don't know about you, but I am really clumsy, if there is something to trip over or fall on, I am there! This means I bruise, sprain, and injure myself quite frequently.

I prefer to make my own remedies wherever possible, especially for minor injuries or illnesses. (of course i see a Medical Professional/Doctor when the injury or illness is serious - I take a balanced view in healing and know when to bring in the big guns..)

I have an ointment i use in my herbal first aid kit, (there are many ointment recipes that are of use to treat bruises and sprains, this is just one of them), that I created a while back and I find it really effective to help alleviate pain and swelling on minor sprains, strains and bruises.

DO keep it away from open wounds and your eyes, this stuff contains ginger and cayenne and will STING!

I wanted to share it with you, (I published this recipe originally  my website: apothecarygreens.weebly.com)


Bruise balm - just poured into containers and cooling


This balm must not be used on broken skin (as it may sting!) Useful for bringing out and soothing bruises, sprains and external muscle and joint inflammation. Be cautious if you have any allergies to any of the ingredients.  Please seek the assistance of a health care professional  when needed.

INGREDIENTS
100 ml oil infused arnica flowers
50 ml oil infused chamomile flowers
50 ml oil infused ground ginger root
50 ml oil infused dried cayenne
beeswax
1 vitamin E capsule
containers
labels
saucepan
measuring jug/scales

METHOD

  • with a saucepan on a LOW heat add the infused oils (to make 250 ml of combined oil)
  • add 25 grams of beeswax
  • melt the beeswax stirring it through
  • turn the heat off and add the contents of the Vitamin E capsule, stir through
  • then pour the mixture into sterilised containers
  • leave to cool before you put the lids on!
  • label the containers with what it is what it is used for, when it was made, any cautions it needs, (e.g. do not use near eyes or open wounds), the best before date and the creation date.
  • The vitamin E will preserve the ointment so it will last up to twelve months if stored in a cool dark place
USES
apply to bruises, sprains, sore backs as needed.
be careful not to apply on or near open wounds and keep away form your eyes! (cayenne stings!)

HOW IT WORKS

  • Arnica: helps to reduce swelling, brings bruises up to the surface to encourage healing
  • Chamomile: helps to reduce inflammation and is calming to the skin
  • Ginger: warming, pain relief, encourages blood flow to the injury to promote healing
  • Cayenne: warming, pain relief, and encourages blood flow to promote healing

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 NOTE: The information in this blog does not constitute the practice of medicine, and does not replace the advice of your health care provider.

Friday, 8 August 2014

DIY: ointments

Some of the information on how to create a basic ointment was originally posted on my website.

Ointments are a good way to apply herbal remedies topically, they can be carried around in small pots and applied as needed. Unlike creams that are made with a mix of water and oil, ointments are made with oils and wax/animal fats/petroleum jelly.  Ointments are also known as salves or balms, and are not just the province of Herbalists. Arnica balm for example can be purchased from pharmacies to apply to bruised skin to help relieve and bring out bruises.

Making ointments is easy, here is a basic recipe.

What you need

  • 250 ml carrier oil 
  • herbs of choice (chopped fresh or dry herbs)
  • 25 grams beeswax
  • sterilised containers
  • saucepan
  • funnel
  • labels

Method

  • in a saucepan on a low heat, add the carrier oil and herbs
  • heat very slowly, simmering at a low heat for about two hours
  • strain the herb infused oil through muslin cloth and put the oil back in the saucepan
  • still on a low heat add the chopped up beeswax
  • allow to melt, stir through
  • then pour into dark glass jars
  • allow to cool then put the lids on
  • label the jars with date made, ingredients, what it is used for, and the use by date
  • Ointments made this way will keep for about four to six months if stored in a cool dark place.
NOTE: if you add some Vitamin E oil to this mixture you can increase the shelf life to up to a year.
old ointment jar (origin of photo unknown)


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 NOTE: The information in this blog does not constitute the practice of medicine, and does not replace the advice of your health care provider.

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Spotlight on Herbs: Angelica

Angelica Archangelica looks a bit like celery; it is a perennial that grows to around 2 metres high. If you prevent it from flowering the plant will live longer, so nip off those flowers to keep the plant alive!


Angelica Archangelica
All parts of Angelica archangelica are edible, but make sure you have identified the plant correctly, as it resembles Hemlock which is poisonous!!

Traditionally the stalks are candied for use in cake decorations, and leaves which are sweet can be added to fruit dishes, or even some savoury foods to add a sweet contrast.

Medicinally, a tea made from the leaves and ground dry root can be taken to help soothe nervous conditions, and the stems when chewed may relieve stomach gas and bloating.

Angelica when made into a salve, liniment or ointment can be applied to the skin to assist in relieving nerve pain (Neuralgia) and joint pain (such as Rheumatism).


CAUTION: Due to the sugar content Angelica should not be given to people who have Diabetes.

As Angelica is an emmanagogue it should be avoided when pregant

Due to the presence of furanocoumarins prolonged use of Angelica may cause skin photosensitivity or Dermatitis



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 NOTE: The information in this blog does not constitute the practice of medicine, and does not replace the advice of your health care provider.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

DIY: Raspberry Leaf facial toner

Following a comment I made on my facebook profile about how I make raspberry leaf facial toner, I had 14 requests to provide the instructions to make it.  Including from my friends Chelsea (from Australia)  and Jenn (from America) - 'Hi ladies!'. 

I decided that others may want the DIY instructions for this too, so here it is!

What you need


  • dry or fresh red raspberry leaves
  • vodka or apple cider vinegar
  • water
  • a large heat proof jar
  • muslin cloth (or other fine cloth to strain the liquid)
  • kettle (to heat water)
  • funnel (to decant toner easily)
  • sterilised jars or bottles to store the toner


What you do


  • In a heat proof jar place one cup of raspberry leaves
  • boil some water and add one cup of water to the leaves
  • stir
  • add 1/4 cup of vodka or apple cider vinegar (this preserves the liquid)
  • leave in a dark spot for at least 4 hours (can be left to infuse for up to a week)
  • Once you are happy with the strength of the infusion strain through muslin cloth that has been draped over and in a funnel.
  • decant into small dark bottles or jars
  • label them with the contents and the date made (with vodka it can last for up to 2 years at least, with apple cider vinegar the use by time is usually halved)

What it is good for

Red raspberry leaves have a high amount of tannins giving them an astringent property making them good for minimising pores, reducing inflammation, and soothing irritation. They are also rich in Polypeptides, a type of Amino Acid, known to assist in cell regeneration, making the leaves good for reducing wrinkles and healing scar tissue.


How to use it

As a facial toner, place an amount of the infusion onto a cloth or cotton bud and wipe over face after cleansing. Leave to dry then apply moisturisers/ sunscreen as you normally do.

As a sunburn soother, apply liberally to effected area, to assist in soothing and healing the sunburn. repeat as needed.

NOTE: there are many ways to make facial toner, this is just one way; I use this method as it is quick, easy, and does not require any speciality tools to create it!

raspberry leaf


When I cannot obtain fresh raspberry leaves I buy them dried from MudBrick Cottage.

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 NOTE: The information in this blog does not constitute the practice of medicine, and does not replace the advice of your health care provider.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

DIY: Rosehip oil

Rosehip oil, when topically applied, is useful for treating dry skin, to help prevent wrinkles, to assist superficial burn scars to heal, to minimise scarring, to treat acne, and treat excema.

To make rosehip oil at home you only need a few things.

UTENSILS
A large saucepan
A small saucepan
A funnel
A dark glass bottle
Piece of clean muslin

INGREDIENTS
Rosehips (fresh or dried) chopped up into small pieces
Carrier oil (such as almond oil or apricot oil)
Water

METHOD
Put about two centremetre depth of water in the large saucepan, and place on a stove top on lowest heat.
Place the small saucepan inside the large saucepan
Into the small saucepan add your rosehips and your oil(the ratio is one part rosehips to two parts oil)
Place a lid on the small saucepan
Allow the mixture to steep on the low heat for four hours (check the water level in the big saucepan occassionally to ensure it hasnt boiled dry)
Turn the heat off and allow the mix to cool
Place the funnel into the dark bottle
Place the muslin cloth lightly into and over the funnel
Carefully pour the rosehip oil mix into the bottle through the muslin (to strain the rosehip bits out)
Then cap the bottle and store in a cool dark place.

(The rosehip bits can be discarded, they are good in the compost bin)

The rosehip oil can be used as it is and applied to the skin as an intesive moisture treatment and scar reducer. It can also be used as a base for balms and lotions.

This is a quick and easy method to make rosehip oil, I make mine this way and am always pleased with the results.

Why not try it for yourself?

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 NOTE: The information in this blog does not constitute the practice of medicine, and does not replace the advice of your health care provider.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Spotlight on Herbs: Astringents

Astringent herbs constrict, contract, and tone tissue to reduce the flow of fluids such as from blood loss or excessive perspiration. They vary in strength and can be either sedative or stimulant in action.  They all however have the same ultimate action, which is to promote tissue firmness and strengthen the condition of skin or muscles.

Astringents are useful in toning the digestive tract, stopping internal haemorrhages, and in treating throat conditions by toning and cleansing the mucous membranes. Astringent herbs are also used cosmetically to firm and tighten skin.  

In herbs it is often the presence of Tannins that give them this astringent action.

A well known astringent herb is Witch Hazel ( Hamamelis virginiana ), it is used topically as a facial toner and can help reduce the inflammation and redness of acne as well as fight the bacteria on the skin.Witch Hazel is also useful when topically applied to sun burn to reduce the pain and swelling of the effected skin. 

Witch Hazel, when consumed as a tea, can help to alleviate the symptoms of intestinal distress (such as diarrhoea) , and when the tea is steeped and left to cool, it makes an effective gargle to treat sore/blistered throats.


Witch Hazel in bloom



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NOTE: The publication of information regarding alternative therapies, herbalism, aromatherapy, and the like, in this blog does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your health care provider.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Spotlight on herbs: Rose Geranium

One of my favourite garden shrubs is the Rose Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens),  it is a hardy plant being able to tolerate light frosts as well as drought conditions, has decorative foliage, beautiful pink and purple flowers, and the leaves smell just like roses!



The crushed leaves give off a gorgeous rose scent, which has known relaxant properties. The Rose Geranium is the only edible geranium, and can be used in herbal teas and remedies as a treatment for insomnia or anxiety.   

When planted near vegetable and fruit patches, the Rose Geranium helps  keep away insects that may otherwise eat your vegetable and fruit crops!

The oil has astringent properties and can be used in skin care, it has also been found effective in reducing scar tissue and fighting surface bacterial or fungal infections.

I often pick a bunch of the leaves, crush them slightly, and place them on an oven tray; I then place the oven tray in a low heat oven, so the whole house gets the benefit of the gorgeous relaxing aroma of Rose Geraniums!




Further Reading




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 NOTE: The publication of information regarding alternative therapies, herbalism, aromatherapy, and the like, in this blog does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your health care provider.

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Spotlight on herbs: Wormwood

I thought that today we will explore the interesting herb, Wormwood, and also have a look at some trivia and images associated with it.



Wormwood is also known as:

  • Absinthium
  • Common Wormwood
  • Green Ginger
  • Grand Wormwood

The plant is common in Europe, Asia, North Africa, and North and South America; it is frost hardy and known to survive extremely harsh Northern Hemisphere winters.


Medicinal uses

Historically, as a medicine, Wormwood was used to induce childbirth, but was also used as a means to effect an abortion. It was also taken in a tea to help relieve digestive issues such as vomiting, diarrhoea and bloating.

In modern times, herbalists may prescribe Wormwood to assist in the removal of intestinal parasites. It can also be used in the garden to repel insects.


Trivia

The green faery: Absinthe is a highly alcoholic beverage derived from Wormwood, AKA Artemisia Absinthium.



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 NOTE: The publication of information regarding alternative therapies, herbalism, aromatherapy, and the like, in this blog does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your health care provider.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Pictures: herbs and cats


Phoenix II is often seen having a nap in the herb garden, unfortunately for him I have no cat nip. No wonder he always has a fresh 'cologne' smell about him as he rolls around in the Sweet Basil, Lemon Thyme and scented Pelargonium!




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 NOTE: The publication of information regarding alternative therapies, herbalism, aromatherapy, and the like, in this blog does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your health care provider.

Saturday, 10 May 2014

DIY: rose and herb perfume air freshener


Make a beautiful air freshener from the beautiful flowers and herbs growing in your garden. We have the pre-Winter roses all in bloom, and some fresh scented Pelargoniums, as well as lots of herbs. I love the smell of all these plants and wanted to capture the smell to use in the house, especially over winter when the garden isn't as full of scent!

There are many different ways to make your own perfumes at home, but one of the easiest is this way.

WHAT YOU NEED
  1. petals and scented leaves (freshly picked)
  2. cheapest you can find Vodka
  3. Large jar with a silicon seal lid
  4. Cloth to strain the liquid
  5. Dark spray top bottle
METHOD
  • Pick the petals and leaves that you wish to make your perfume from, pick the healthiest looking that are full of fragrance, knock off any ants and other insects that may be hanging out on the plants!
  • Put them on a paper towel just to dry off a bit, (we are not drying the plant life here, just drying off any dew)
  • Place the plant pieces into a large clean dry jar using a wooden spoon or similar, push the plants down to squish them up a bit. ( I used fresh mint, scented pelargonium, and rose petals)


  • Add enough vodka to cover all the plants
  • Put the lid on and place the jar in a cool dark spot for a few days

  • After it has sat for a few days, add some more fresh petals and scented leaves, mush them down a bit, and top of the vodka if needed
  • Again place the jar in a dark cool place
  • After a few weeks take the jar and strain it through a fine cloth (muslin cloth  or even a 'Chux' cloth will work)
  • Once the liquid is strained so that there are no large vegetation blops left in it, pour it into a dark spray topped bottle, so the bottle is filled half way
  • Add some boiled (and cooled) water to fill the bottle up

You have some gorgeous garden fresh room freshener!!!

Left overs of the infused plants can be strained and kept in a dark sealed jar in a cool place.

As the aromatic oils from the plants have been drawn out with basically pure alcohol, this will keep for at least three months, even more!

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 NOTE: The publication of information regarding alternative therapies, herbalism, aromatherapy, and the like, in this blog does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your health care provider.

Monday, 14 April 2014

Herbs in History: Doctrine of Signatures



Definition

The Doctrine of Signatures is a theory that dates back through ancient times and is based on the premise that the plant resembles the part of the body it was meant to cure. It was believed that God had signed the plants to show humans what they could be used for medicinally. Modern day scientists are sceptical of the theory.


History

The writings of the Ancient Roman Doctor, Galen, (131-200 CE) made reference to the idea of a plant or parts of a plant looking similar to the affliction or body part they were a treatment for.

Paracellus, a Swiss healer and alchemist (1493-1541), claimed that similar cured similar, and he observed the similarity of leaves, stems, and flowers on plants and the human anatomy.


"We men discover everything that lies hidden in the mountains by external signs and correspondences, and thus also do we find all the properties of herbs and everything that is in the stones." - Paracelsus

In 1621, a German Theologian and Mystic, Jakob Boehme published a tome entitled 'De Signatura Rerum'. (The signature of all things) It was this book that helped to make the theory more prominent in medical treatment of the time and also promoted if not coined the expression Doctrine of Signatures.
Jakob Boehme (source of  original image unknown)

Example

Doctrine of Signatures: A Walnut when shelled looks similar to a brain, and according to the Doctrine of Signatures is therefore good for the brain.

Fact or Fiction: According to Prevention the antioxidants in walnuts may be beneficial in reducing age and other related brain deterioration.


References/Sources

Science Museum UK
Breverton's Complete Herbal
The Doctrine of Signatures and Herbalism

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 NOTE: The publication of information regarding alternative therapies, herbalism, aromatherapy, and the like, in this blog does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your health care provider.