Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Home Education Group at the Mimram

We had beautiful weather yesterday for a herb walk around the Mimram river site at Digswell village near Welwyn Garden.

We wandered a circular route tasting the hedgerow delights as we travelled. The nettle seeds are so oily a relative of hemp the seeds are very similar and in plentiful supply at the moment. The Lime blossom have gone and in their place are seed heads looking like little decorative balls, they tasted slightly peppery.

The elder flowers have become small green berries promising a plentiful harvest come September. The Earth is so parched and dry and so many plants are really struggling many of the normally massive leaves of the burdock were tiny in comparison to the last few years. The Ragwort must have severely deep roots as its doing famously blooming away in amongst brown grassland.

The Hemp Agrimony / Eupatorium cannabinumin full flower looked lovely beside the river - we have been using it in our immune boost for some years now and its brilliant as an immunostimulant. We mix it with sage, the elderberries and the ground ivy.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Hertfordshire Herb Society Day out

What a wonderful day out it was yesterday organised by Herts Herb Society. Whom meet every first Wed of the month in Welwyn Garden City.

We started off at Buzzworks a community Bee hive and garden in Hitchin,


We were given a brief talk about the place by Robin Darlington the founder ,a seasoned bee keeper he was very informative explaining that our country really needs more bee keepers to help the bees from becoming irradiated, they are being attacked by a foreign mite, but apparently using something as simple as using thymol crystals can kill off the parasite.

We were then let to wander around the beautiful gardens and displays- they have a glass observation hive where one can watch the bees at work it was fascinating.

I bought some delicious Ivy Honey, which I later sweeten my lavender tea with!

We then went on to Hitchin Lavender farm just up the road to pick as much lavender as we could fill our bags with for £3, bargin. The heady scent of the blooms made for relaxing meanderings in the impressive purple fields; it felt as though we were in France.

We picked enough to make a tincture and some oil with plenty left to dry for tea.
We put the lavender into our Liver Cleanse Drops, as it is an excellent digestive herb as it is anti-microbial and really relaxing to the gut. It is a brilliant anti-stress herb and I will always use it if I am suffering from tension or anxiety.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

The Yarrow n da Mugwort

On this blustery day before the rainfall we all went off in search off some herbage and came across artemisia vulgare/ Mugwort n Achillia millefolium/ Yarrow we use both these herbs in our smoke da garden mix which is proving a popular alternative to the evil nicotine addiction of tabac.

I have used the Mugwort for intensifying and connecting with 'The dreaming' and have experienced some intensely exciting dreams. I once wanted to treat a previous boyfriends son but my relationship with his mum was complicated -I was advised by an elder to put some Mugwort under my pillow and treat him in my dreams. He had been suffering with glue ear and had no taste sensation. I dreamed him every day for a week, the elder was also in my dreams walking beside me. After the week his glue ear and taste healed itself.

It helps you to remember your dreams and connect with the meaning they may have in your life.

It is also a herb I would always recommend in labour and for that PMT feeling off extreme heaviness waiting to bleed.

The yarrow herb is gonna be dried and used in our sniffle tea mixed with elder n peppermint –delicious.

Yarrow is brilliant for circulation and lowering temperature during a fever.........its latin name, Achillea is from Achilles. It helps to restore us from any weaknesses or our own achilles heals we might have -it is incredible strengthening and protective. I believe everyone should have a jar of yarrow on their shelves its and essential first aid herb and my alternative Calpol. It is suitable for babies and children too.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Birth story...Lily Ziggy-May

I'm finally back on-line in more ways than one... Here's the wonderful tale of Ziggy-may's birth in some length but there was quite a lot went on in a short space of time!

Lily Ziggy-May Bostock

Born 8th may at 9.45 a.m, 7lb 7oz

Herbs, oils n stuff used during labour
A hot curry
Clary sage e.o
Raspberry leaf tea
Labour of love drops
Artemesia plant
Arnica 200c
Lavender e.o
Bliss in a bottle
Fresh mango squares
Rose tincture
Ground ivy tea
Caulophylum 200c

People there; Benny, Karen, Pete (in the van outside), a spider, a fly and Linda the midwife (just)

The Birth

I woke up on the 7th May prepared in my mind that something might start to shift. We had dowsed a few weeks before and it suggested a 3 day labour starting on Friday the 7th. In some respects, this is exactly what happened.

So Friday morning was the day for doing accounts and getting forms filled in. The last big thing I knew I had to get done before the birth. Friday was also the day that Kelly (our friend and midwife) was to finish her final exam and Karen was due to pick up her new, reliable car…horay, they’d be able to drive down (the 3 hour drive from Herts to Dorset) as soon as the labour started. That was the plan!!!

So my accounts went slowly with long rests on the sheep-skins between flurries of work to breathe through Braxton hicks, the pretendy contractions. I’d been having them for weeks but these seemed a little more intense and came 4 an hour for most of the day.

I spoke to Kelly and we said we’d watch this space and that she was off for a lie down after gruelling weeks of exam nightmares.

Benny arrived home form work, I finished off my accounts and as it was a properly lovely evening we walked down the river path to go for a hot curry. The calves were in the fields, there was loads of gorgeous herbs growing in the hedgerows and along the river and it was the first night out me and Benny had shared together for many weeks.

The curry was hot, tasty and my rushes continued in the restaurant. By the time we headed home I was having to stop sometimes to let them wash over me. As we walked along the edge of the river a big bat followed us all the way, swooping in really close.

I decided that I wasn’t going to let a day of rushes like that amount to nothing and that things felt so good with me and Benny, that I’d have a strong Clary sage and lavender essential oil bath. I soaked and dreamed of the birth relieving me of the all-over body itch that I’d been having for the last few weeks.

We got to bed about 12 o’clock, smooched and drifted off. The rushes let me sleep for 3 really important hours. I woke for a wee and unable to rest again, found myself pacing around the bedroom. There was no denying these rushes! I whispered over to Benny but no response so I left him to sleep on for half an hour.

The intensity had picked up and leaning over my stool really helped. Benny got up with me and by quarter to 4 I was on the phone to Karen. She wasn’t due to pick up her new car until 10 a.m!!! When we called back to say I didn’t think we could wait that long she was already making alternative travel plans in the form of hero Pete and his van. She was in the shed preparing herbs and tinctures. Kelly had been so knackered she’d turned her phone off and crashed out!

So Karen was on her way and it was me and Benny to hold the birth fort for the next few hours. I opted for not burning any more clary sage or using any nipple stimulation techniques so as not to hurry things along too quickly before the others arrived. It was really important that Karen was here with us for the birth. I kept taking squirts of the labour of love drops that Karen and I make which nourished and centered me.

Benny was a champion, he kept me fed on banana and dates, sips of water and raspberry leaf tea, squirts of drops of love and kept the birthing environment clear and organised and the fire stoked.

I roamed about between the toilet and the sheepskins in front of the fire with increasing animalistic noises and positions.  I was wondering where the famous ‘rest and be thankful phase’ of labour was and, with no sign of it I took matters into my own hands and had a bath to try and chill the contractions out. The warmth gave some respite but I kept getting uncomfortably stuck on my back during contractions, so after half an hour Benny hauled me out.

Benny was there to hold my hand when I needed or kiss me or leave me or hold me, he whispered I was beautiful and amazing and doing so well. And we were really in love.

As the rushes increased in intensity I focussed on a few good pearls 1. The contractions are like walking up a mountain, you get to the top then its easier on the way down, 2. Once they’ve gone, the pain is virtually gone so just getting through each one is a massive achievement and there is respite at the other side, 3. Each contraction was bringing me closer to the baby and that was the best thought of all.

I had been puking up green bile after most contractions and a s a result couldn’t keep the bananas and dates down. Spoons of honey and sips of water were the perfect, easy-sugar-access solutions. Benny had kept the tunes playing, chilled and quiet, bar one techno track that slipped thorough the selection net and made for one pretty intense contraction.

Between some of the rushes I would sit on the sheepskins, drift into the music and visualise my cervix opening-up.

It was a good few hours before anything visible happened, then I had a bloody show and shortly after lost the big, red mucous plug. Benny championed me on at that point, ‘well done, hurray, that’s brilliant darling”. It was nice to see progress.

At 7.30 – 8 a.m Karen and Pete arrived. I was on the loo, between rushes and thought they’d probably get a surprise when the next one came in and they saw how intense they’d gotten. Karen came through while Pete made himself a cup of tea after saying hello. She’d brought ‘Bliss in a bottle’, our labour massage oil and after the next contraction rubbed it into my thighs, belly and lower back. Up til then I hadn’t felt like any rubbing during contractions but my mid-back had started to be in such spasm that the pressure from Karen’s hand was a welcome relief. She’d brought mangos and one tiny, perfect square of pure, sweet, exotic, deliciousness between each contraction was just perfect.

I remember Karen asking how my head was and with real clarity thinking it was feeling strong and focussed on the 3 pearls of wisdom.

We went back through to the sheepskins and Pete went out to his van to light a fire and fix the draws. Karen had a look between my legs, no outward signs yet and soon after I heard a big pop, felt a rush and the waters broke…this changed the sound of the contractions.

It was the waters but there was bits of brown so I wasn’t sure if I’d just exploded out of my bottom, it was so hard to distinguish what was going on. It turns out it was Lily’s myconium (poo), but really old, she wasn’t in any stress during the birth. At some point over the past weeks she’d had a poo in the amniotic fluid. I wondered if that was why I’d been so itchy. There was too many hectic times it could have been during the winter and the move to Dorset to say with any clarity when it happened. The important thing was that she remained fine during the labour, we checked her heart beat once but I could feel her reassuringly moving between each contraction.

With the confusion, I wanted to get back to the loo and try to poo. I was a little resistant to push in case it brought the baby down too soon. I has one big contraction and Karen said ‘Fi, you’re pushing”. Me ‘no, I just need a poo’. And as I felt down between my legs there was a downy, soft head on its way out. Oh, I don’t want to have her on the loo and where was Benny?

We sort of squeezed her back in a bit and headed for the sheepskins. Benny took position on the sofa and I squatted between his knees with my arms on his legs. The pain had changed now and I felt a lot more with it, it was more localised, burning, stretching.

There was her head again, moving down and Karen was poised between my legs. Cue midwife from the left. A bold knock and in she came. She spotted the foetal heart monitor (which I hired!) and said ‘what’s going on here then?’ I said ‘hiya, I think we’re having a baby’. Linda was really calm, got her gloves on and peared around my knee to catch sight of the top of the baby’s head.

She asked me to take my time so I held off for another contraction, then pop, her head and in the same push her beautiful, slippery body. Karen held her with the midwife supporting her head and they passed our gorgeous daughter, who’d let out a good cry, into my waiting arms. Benny lent over, kissed me and Lily and I started smothering her in kisses and sucking her hands and fingers. She was bright yellow from where the old myconium had stained the vernex (creamy protective stuff they're born covered in).

She was born at 9.45 a.m, totally content and in need of a nap. Karen gave me a hot cup of ground ivy tea (collected at Ringstead beach the week before) to help with the placenta and some delicious rose tincture.

The midwives (the second one had arrived shortly after the birth) wanted the placenta out so after 20 minutes or so, the babe hadn’t suckled much yet, we cut the cord, passed the baby to Benny and me and Karen headed for the toilet with the homeopathic kit. Benny kept our little Ziggy-May on his bare chest until we returned.

A caulophylum 200c helped bring the placenta down in the end and the lovely Linda fished it out of the toilet.

Ahhh, all totally mind-blowing, hard-core, shortish lasting (7 hours), painful, exstatic bliss with a surprise girly wirly at the end.

Linda said that even for old myconium, hospital transfer is preferred before and after the birth to monitor the baby’s heart rate and breathing. We were pleased to have carried on til the last minute just me, Benny and Karen.

We declined politely to go into hospital post-birth and so Linda popped back in the afternoon to check we were all ok.

We all lay around all day eating dhal with Pete popping in and out between footy matches on the radio. Blissed-out hours passed without us noticing. We washed Ziggy-May so she was less flurescent yellow, dressed her in a knitted blue suit and she enjoyed cuddles all day long.

We had tasty Italian take-away for tea – I enjoyed porchini mushroom rissottto…mmm.

Karen and Pete left after midnight, Pete was due to drive to Brussels on Sunday!

Kelly completed the whole amazing 3 day birth experience by arriving Sunday evening with a hamper of goodies and breast-feeding and baby-care knowledge. It was so great to have her there, she advised positions for feeding and showed Benny how to bath the baba.

Birth bliss welcomed Lily Ziggy-May.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Hypericum perforatum/ St. John's Wort

Been a walking out in the countryside -on the old railway line connecting Welwyn and Hertford, it is a lovely spot. I met up with Tasha, who has just graduated from Lincoln University as Medical Herbalist –woohoo- congratulations you.

She has a brilliant blog – check it out.

She was after some elderflowers for champagne n I had eyes for the Hypericum perforatum or St. John's wort, herb of the sun with his bright yellow flowers that stain ones fingers deep red as you pick it.

So who was St. John???

The Order of St.John of Jerusalem - the monastic community that ran the hospital for the pilgrims in the Holy Land 1048.

"Wort derives from the Old English wyrt, which simply meant plant. The word goes back even further, to the common ancestor of English and German, to the Germanic wurtiz. By the way, wurtiz evolved into the modern German word Wurzel, meaning root."

The Hypericum is Greek for 'over an apparition' I think this is indicative of its anti depressing properties -mental health issues were commonly though of to be a form of possession.

I am using my picked flowers to make some oil -I firstly dried them out for a couple of nights to prevent moulding in the oil and then filled a glass jar and covered with organic almond oil.

It is extra exciting because left for a while out in the sun the pale yellow oil will turn a deep red colour.........

This oil is then used in our hypericum lip balms which are great for cold sores -the antiviral properties of the plant shorten attackes
-and in our healing balm mixed with lavender and calendula oils.

Friday, 2 July 2010

Lime Blossom Harvest

On this lovely chilled Piscean Moon, flower day, we decided to go out a harvesting Tilia or Linden/Lime Blossoms. I have been planning this for a few days and did a reckie mission to find some trees with lower hanging branches hehe.

The trees are so beautiful, often planned around stately homes along the avenues as they grow really straight n tall forming lush walk ways or drives. Apparently Lime trees were planted by royal decree along many roads to ensure that the harvest of its flowers was plentiful, as it was used a lot for its many medicinal properties.

In Celtic time right up to the middle ages, the lime tree was considered sacred and it was common for judicial cases to be heard while the court sat under a lime tree as it was said to inspire fairness and justice.

Whilst we were picking we were enveloped in the light, sweet fragrant and instantly felt refreshed even in the muggy heat. Our fingers became covered in a delicious sweet sticky sap and loads of bugs or different flavours fell onto our heads n bodies, I had to still my nerves as I am not too partial to weird bugs but the calming influence of her Ladyship Lime helped.

Linden helps to lower elevated blood pressure. High blood pressure often causes heart problems. When we live with chronic stress for extended periods, the musculature surrounding the arteries can become permanently contracted. This means that the opening through the artery is narrowed and the heart has to pump harder to get the blood through. Linden has gentle, relaxing properties that make it an excellent remedy for long-term stress, especially when it is affecting the cardiovascular system. We mix it with Lemon Balm, Hawthorn n Rose buds in our Heart n Soul Tea -delicious