Friday, 18 February 2011

(6) Seasonal Materia Medica Profile: Hyssop

Hyssop - Hyssopus officinalis

A member of the Mint Family. Hyssop flowers between August and October. It can usually be found in dry rocky habitats and calcareous scree. Found in the Mediterranean region, and has been introduced further North (including the British Isles), has naturalised in some parts of Central Europe.

Active Constituents

The active components are bitters, tannins, essential oils, saponins, organic acids, flavonoids, terpenoids, mucilage, resin and vitamin C.


To induce heavy sweating in fevers, hypertensive to increase blood pressure, expectorant, emmenagogue, mild analgesic, diuretic, mild antispasmodic, diaphoretic, stimulant, pectoral, carminative and when used externally an antiseptic. Antiviral action against herpes simplex virus reported.


As blood cleanser, tonic and diuretic, and to treat cystitis, gastritis and kidney stones. The leaves are said to reduce inflammation. Bronchitis, colds, chills, catarrh, sore throat. Has been used in hysteria, anxiety states and petil mal BHP (1983). Respiratory disorders of nervous background in children. Externally can be used for eczema and bruises.

A Suitable Winter Remedy

For loss of appetite, diarrohea, coughs and as expectorant. Add 250ml boiling water to 1-2 teaspoonsful of Hyssop. Leave to stand for 5 minutes. Take 3 cups a day.

Potential "Admixtures"

Hyssop can be combined with Betony (equal parts) in a tea for people with a tendency to epileptic episodes. The essential oil, 1-2 drops, with honey or water to create a digestive to be taken after meals. 5-6 drops with 2 teaspoons Almond oil to create a chest rub for congested bronchi.

  1. "Herbs and Healing Plants of Britain & Europe", Dieter Podlech
  2. "Bartram's Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine", Thomas Bartram

(6) Seasonal Materia Medica Profile: White Horehound

White Horehound - Marrubium vulgare

A member of the Mint Family. The White Horehound flowers between June and August. It can usually be found around footpaths, wasteground and grassland. Found in South and Central Europe, north to South Sweden and South England (occasional) and Central Asia.

Active Components

The active consitutents are essential oil, resin, tannin, wax, fat, sugar, alkaloids, diterpene alcohols and a bitter principle known as Marrubium.


Stimulating expectorant, mild antispasmodic, sedative, amphoteric, vulnerary, diuretic, stomach and liver bitter tonic.


Infusion relaxes muscles. Used to treat coughs, bronchitis, croup and asthma, and as digestive tonic. Tea formerly used for eczema and shingles. Chronic bronchitis, whooping cough, hard cough with little phelgm, common cold, loss of voice, snake bite, dog bite. Chronic gall bladder disease, fevers, malaria, hepatitis, "Yellowness of the eyes".

A Suitable Winter Remedy

Infuse 2 teaspoonsful in boiling water. Drink 3-5 cups daily.
A suitable winter remedy would be to create a Horehound and Aniseed cough mixture - using Pleurisy root, Elecampane, Horehound, Skunk Cabbage and Lobelia in a syrup base. It is an expectorant and demulcent to soothe irritable coughs (Potter's, UK). Adults and elderly take two 5ml teaspoons thrice daily. Children over 5 to take one 5ml teaspoon thrice daily.

Potential "Admixtures"

White Horehound with Colts-foot and Hyssop as a tea (equal parts) for hard coughs. With Lobelia and Iceland Moss as a tea for chronic chest complaints. With Hyssop and Honey to make a traditional English syrup.
  1. "Herbs and Healing Plants of Britain & Europe", Dieter Podlech
  2. "Bartram's Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine", Thomas Bartram

(6) Seasonal Materia Medica Profile: Colts-foot

Colts-foot - Tussilago farfara

A member of the Daisy Family. The Colts-foot flowers between March and April. It can usually be found in banks, footpaths, damp fields and waste ground. Found in most of Europe, North Asia and North Africa.

Active Constituents

The active components are mucilage, bitters, tannins, flavonoids, pyrrolizidine, alkaloids and essential oils.


Anticatarrhal, relaxing expectorant, demulcent bitter, diuretic, immune stimulant, antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory and antitussive.


To treat coughs, sores and ulcers. Flowers reduce inflammation and ease catarrh. Relief of dry unproductive irritative cough, smoker's cough, whooping cough, bronchial asthma. Dr. J. Cullen found a strong decoction of the leaves beneficial for tuberculosis. Dr. E. Percival found it useful in hectic diarrohoea. Has been used with limited success in silicosis and pneumonconiosis. Rubbed herb once used as smoking mixture for bronchial conditions.

A Suitable Winter Remedy

A traditional remedy using dried Colts-foot leaves was to smoke them, these could ease asthma and coughs. The name "tussilago" means cough suppressant.
However another remedy for coughs. Infuse 2 teaspoonsful in 250ml boiling water for 10 minutes. Drink 3 cups daily, sweetened with honey.

Potential "Admixtures"

Colts-foot can be combined with Thyme and White Horehound to ease bronchial conditions. Recent research advices external use only, alternative to Colts-foot are Thyme and Elecampane preferred for internal use.

  1. "Herbs and Healing Plants of Britain & Europe", Dieter Podlech
  2. "Bartram's Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine", Thomas Bartram

Thursday, 17 February 2011

(6) Seasonal Materia Medica Profile: Peppermint

Peppermint - Mentha x piperita (M. aquatica x M. spicata)

A member of the Mint Family. The Peppermint flowers between July and September. It can usually be found in damp ground and waste land, however, it is widely planted. Found in Europe, it was introduced into America, and in the British Isles is scattered as native, also used within kitchen gardens.

Active Constituents

The active components are essential oils, notably menthol - for this reason peppermint tea should not be given to young children, tannins, azulines, carotenes, monoterpenes (menthone, menthofuran, menthyl acetate, cineole and limonene), sesquiterpenes (viridoflorol), phenolic acids (caffeic, cholorgenic and rosmarinic), triterpenes (squalene, a-amyrin, ursolic acid, sitosterol), phytol, tocopherols, carotenoids, choline, betaine, rosmarinic acid, minerals and flavonoids (luteolin, menthoside, isohoifolin, rutin, hesperidin).


Digestive, carminative, antispasmodic, diaphoretic, anti-emetic, mild sedative, emmenagogue, peripheral vasodilator, mildly anaesthetic and antiseptic.


Can be used medicinally for stomach, intestinal, liver and gallbladder complaints. Dioscorides wrote that a spray of Peppermint worn on his cloak raised his depressed spirits. Crohn's and diverticula disease. Refreshingly effective in simple indigestion. Travel sickness, flatulence, colic, nausea and vomiting, poor appetite, catarrh, ulcerative colitis and infant's convulsions. Of value in gallbladder disease.

A Suitable Winter Remedy

In Green Pharmacy preparations, Peppermint oil can be inhaled, which treats nausea, headaches, fainting, shock, difficult breathing, colds and mental exhaustion. Prolonged use of the essential oils should be avoided as it can irritate the mucous membranes.
Also for digestive disorders, flatulence and nausea, infuse one teaspoonful in 250ml boiling water for 10 minutes. Drink 1 cup as required.

Potential "Admixtures"

Peppermint can be combined as an oil with Water, Honey or Banana Mash to be consumed. With Almond or Olive Oil to create a massage oil for cramps, spasms, muscular pains, low backache, sports injuries, stiffness of shoulders or joints. With Sambucus and Achillaea or Eupatorium perfoliatum in cases of influenza.

  1. "Herbs and Healing Plants of Britain & Europe", Dieter Podlech
  2. "Bartram's Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine", Thomas Bartram

(6) Seasonal Materia Medica Profile: Marsh mallow

Marsh mallow - Althaea officinalis

A member of the Mallow Family. The Marsh mallow flowers between July and September. It can ususally be found in damp meadows, and banks, particularly near the sea. Found in central and eastern Europe, north to Britain and Denmark, also found in Northern Asia.

Active Constituents

The active components are mucilage, sugar, pectin and essential oils, and found primarily in the leaves: flavonoids, tannins and scopoletin.


Soothing demulcent, emollient, nutrient, alternative, antilithic, antitussive, vulnerary and diuretic.


Marsh mallow can be used to treat mouth and throat infections and gastric ulcers. Roots and leaves can be used as a poultice. It can also be used to treat inflammation of the alimentary canal, kidneys and bladder. Ulceration of stomach and duo-denum, hiatus hernia, catarrh of respiratory organs and stomach, dry cough, open wounds - to cleanse and heal, systitis, diarrohea, septic conditions of moderate severity. The plant supplies an abundance of mucilage for protection of mucous membranes of the mouth, nose and urinary tract in the presence of stone. A poultice or ointment is applied topically to boils, abscesses, ulcers and old wounds to draw effete matter to the surface before expulsion from the body.

A Suitable Winter Remedy

In Green Pharmacy preparations, a good winter remedy would be to create a gargle. This would help ease sore throats due to the high mucilage content in the botanical.
Leave two teaspoonfuls of dried Marsh mallow root to stand in 250ml cold water for half an hour. Drink 1-3 cups (warmed up) daily, or use as a gargle.

Potential "Admixtures"

Marsh mallow can be combined with Comfrey and Cranesbill (American) for peptic ulceration. With White Horehound, Liquorice and Coltsfoot for pulmonary disease. And with Slippery Elm to make a traditional "drawing" ointment.

  1. "Herbs and Healing Plants of Britain & Europe", Dieter Podlech
  2. "Bartram's Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine", Thomas Bartram

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Making our first Alcohol Tincture

We are quite used to having an intensive first half of the day and a slightly more relaxed second half, as usual when David joins our group, the day remains intensive... to the point we were doing complicated mathematics, which, by the end of the day, we were ignoring and using the old "folk" methods.

This afternoons sessions consisted of us making our first Alcohol Tinctures.

What is a Tincture?

In simple terms, a tincture is the resulting product when herbs, fresh or dried, are left to soak in alcohol. This encourages the active components from the herbs to diffuse into the alcohol. So as when the herbs are removed, and pressed to remove the most potent alcohol, we are left with an alcohol-based herbal medicine, which because of the alcohol content is easily absorbed by the body, making an alcohol tincture a potent and speedy way of delivering a herbal remedy.

When making a tincture, there are different percentages of alcohol that can be used which will influence the solubility of the plant constituents.
  • 25% Alcohol: will help to extract water-soluble constituents such as mucilages, tannins, some flavonoids and some saponins.
  • 45-60% Alcohol: will help to extract essential oils, alkaloids, most saponins and some glycosides.
  • 90% Alcohol: will help to extract resins.
Using 45% Alcohol will provide a fair representation for all chemical constituents.

We don't have to use alcohol as our solvent, other choices are: vinegar, especially apple cider vinegar; water; oils; honey - especially honey and vinegar mixed; and glycerin.
Glycerin is found in plant cells, it is incredibly sweet and is good for childrens remedies. It also attracts water to it, which hydrates tissues (hydroscopic) but is to be used topically.

Why do we use Alcohol?

However, we use alcohol for a number of reasons, such as: it is an excellent preservative; at 25% by volume it is bacteriostatic (meaning bacteria cannot multiply); and at 26% by volume is is bacteriocydal (meaning it will kill bacteria). The preferred alcohol to use is vodka, however brandy is commonly used, as is sherry - the only problem with sherry is that it has an expiry date and therefore the tincture will go off.

For dried herbs percentage changes won't be an issue, however fresh herbs have a natural water content, which will alter the percentage of the tincture.

More plant constituents can be used in alcohol than any other solvent. The range of chemical constituents that can be extracted will depends on the water/alcohol ratio used.

"Haynen's" sells pure alcohol at 97.5%, it is an organic rye alcohol, which can be used to make alcohol tincutres, it also makes the maths calculations of the alcohol to water ratios easier.

Making an Alcohol Tincture.
  • Use an open-mouthed container, such as a jam jar, it should be sterilised, but not to labratory standards, just clean and washed.
  • Chop up the chosen botanical as much as possible (tear with your hands or use a pestle and mortar) and place into the container, do not pack it down as you want maximum extraction.
  • Once you have put as much of the botanical as you want in the jar, cover with alcohol.
  • Seal the container and remember to label. Stating the name of the plant, the date, the % Alcohol used, and the ratio of plant material to alcohol.
  • Shake once a day, leave it to sit for two weeks minimum, one month is the optimum time to leave it.
  • When left for a suitable amount of time, strain the tincture to remove the botanicals, making sure you press the botanicals as they contain a strong percentage of alcohol and therefore constituents.
When making a tincture, one botanical can be used or many - it very much depends on what tincture you want to make, and what its final use is.
A nice trick when trying to tincture Hawthorn, is to collect the blossoms in the spring and tincture them, then in the autumn, using the previous tincture as your solvent, tincture the berries, making it a double whamey solution, collecting all the active components the botanical has to offer.

David, then, painstakingly tried to explain the mathematical calculations behind working out the plant to alcohol ratios and the water to alcohol ratios to create our solvents. This took a considerable amount of time, working with the original alcohol percentage to get ml's, then how many ml's of water needed to make that volume up to a litre. Then how to turn a 37.5% or 40% vodka into a 25% solvent... oh dear goodness, there was a lot of general confusion, a lot of scoring out on my pad of paper and the result... I'm not entirely sure I do know how to work out that calculation!
At this point David left us, and in complete defiance of the maths, we used the folk method to make our alcohol tinctures - put the torn botanical in a jar, covered it with alcohol and some water - no real measurements involved! Done!

Alcoholic Anonymous Meeting

Tearing up our botanicals and making our tinctures.

Alcohol Tinctures: Elderberries, Marigold and Coltsfoot.

Check back in a month and we'll see if they've worked!

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Pharmacodynamics and Pharmacokinetics

David returned this week to discuss Pharmacodynamics and Pharmacokinetics, then to help us with our first Alcohol Tincture.

Pharmacodynamics is the specific act of drugs on the body.

Pharmacokinetics is the movement of drugs through the body.
- absorption
- distribution
- metabolism
- elimination

Experiment: Tracking caffiene through the body.

What can effect absorption of drugs within the body?
- heavy meat eater
- the higher the volume of tea or coffee drank will bind the microvilli (the tannins will bind the proteins)
- the overall state of the digestive tract
- inflammation, especially problems with peristalsis, ulcers or constipation.
- age of the patient - things get slower with age
- particular types of food you're eating at the time - blue cheese and mould are known to impact on drugs taken (dependent on the drug). Some drugs are to be taken with or without food, as the action of the drug can be altered, also the dosage can be altered. Herbal medicine practice is especially concerned with this, as the overall effect and dosage can be greatly altered.
- alcohol irritates the digestive tract - causing faster absorption. Water and soluble fat's (lipids) also have similar effects, both having faster absorption times than alcohol, but they are less potent.
- the state of the circulation - is the circulation getting to all the villi?
- are all the digestive enzymes in order - patients with celiac's disease or lactose intolerance can be deficient in some digestive enzymes e.g. insufficient bile to breakdown and secrete fats.
- probiotics - mainly found in the colon - overall state of the microflora, which can be greatly effected by the diet. Food allergies can also effect the state and variety of the microflora - Herbal medicine's can balance out the state of the tract, whereas orthodox medicine only knows to remove bits of the digestive tract instead of trying to balance it out.

What can effect the distribution of drugs throughout the body?
- blood pressure
- circulation throughout the body - broken veins, varicos veins, cold hands and feet etc - any impairment will alter the blood flow and subsequently hamper the drug getting to the target.
- blood constituents - patients with diabetes have higher sugar concentrations in their blood, which leaves them with "gloopy" blood, which will hamper the diffusion in and out of the blood stream.
- "mild" heart failure - a failure of the organ to do the job 100%

Autoimmune diseases - asthma, lupis, rheumatoid arthritis. Orthodox medicine tries to control these with steroids etc, to shut down the immune system.
Our immune system is primed to recognise proteins - during development it learns to recognise self proteins and non-self proteins. The immune system is under constant assault from constant changes in food - fluorine in water, changes in proteins in milk through pasturisation and changes in protein molecules in wheat, to make the bread lighter and fluffy instead of heavy and brick-like.

- other drugs and fluids in the blood e.g. fruit juice
- the state of the liver, portal circulation - volume of blood drawn through the liver. Fats bypass the liver, and are absorbed directly into the lymph system.

The lymphatic system

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, accupuncture is used in line with the lymph system, it feels like the needle is being "sucked" in, when it hits the right spot.
- beating the sternum activates the thymus, the size of which decreases as you get older.
- the lymph fluids are a fatty yellow fluid.
- the lymph system is involved primarily in defence - it really is the immune system.

Psychoneuroendoimmunology - main keys in the lymph system.

- points of infection, all concentrates to the area (e.g. ear) - phagocytosis to lymph system to destroy and drain the infection.
- breast cancer/hormonal fluxs - pre-menstrual cycle etc - moveable lymph nodes is ok, hardened lump is more worrying.
- muscles drive the lymph movement - using the MBT's helps keep the muscles moving fluidly, heels de-activate the calf-pump. Pregnancy can cause varicos veins, too much pressure on the pump, the vein collapses and blood pools.
- you can remove the spleen and live without it, however it can cause slight immune system inconveniences, such as coughs and colds.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the chi flow is vital, a smooth flow is vital to perfect health, blockages can lead to ill health - tapping and breathing exercises, alter the ying and yang, to correct flow problems. There are three sources of chi:
1. Constitutional chi, vital force you get when you're born - "jing" - largely stored in the kidneys,
2. Prana - transfer of chi from the air through the lungs.
3. Food

What can effect the metabolism of drugs in the body?

Experiment: Caffiene to the brain, effected the neurotransmitters, now breaks off and moves to the liver to be metabolised.

- what you do in your life.
- age
- hypericum, St Johns wort, pineapple juice, blue cheese, alcohol - all effect how the liver is working - herbal medicines are holistic healers not as specific as orthodox medicine (theurapeutic range). Too much pineapple juice could technically be endangering your life - potentially half a carton or one carton a day - depends on the quality and state of the liver - it effects the enzymes in the liver. Pineapple juice slows down the process, if it hangs around the liver too long it can go back into the blood, technically doubling the dose.

Caffeine make the enzymes break up, making them water-soluble so as to be absorbed by the kidneys.

Liver conjugates - breaks down and attaches water-soluble components so it passes through the kidneys to pass out of the urine.

Finally, the last key step is elimination from the body.

The drug will travel to the kidneys, which is the primary route for drug elimination.

However, Herbal Medicines have several routes for elimination, the digestive tract, kidneys, lungs, skin and the monthly menses which is used for cleansing and elimination.
Essential oils are eliminated through the lungs, for example, garlic - even a garlic-based foot rub will be noted on the breath.

The Chinese have, in the past, called whites "smells like a cow" - due to our high dairy consumption. Every race has a different smell, which you will naturally know and recognise.

Smells differ throughout life - we become less sensitive to smells as we get older, children are very good are using their sense of smell.

Experiment: Tracking caffeine through the body.

Caffeine has a half-life of 5.7 hours, meaning it takes around 12 hours to leave the system completely. However the noteable effects of the caffeine may have been lost many hours before.

We have looked at the basic process of a drug, in this case caffeine. travelling through and being eliminated from the system. This is the base route that all drugs will take through the body, the time it takes to eliminate a singular drug from the system is however very variable on the drug, the quantity, the overall state of your system and the half-life of the drug involved.

This concluded the morning session.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Winter Botanicals and Winter Remedies

Unfortunately, due to allergies (bleurgh) I was ill for last week's session... and so that update, may not be completed in entirity, but hopefully alongside the homework, I will be able to get something up.

So, back at class today, feeling 100% better - because of the weather at the end of last semesters, some classes were missed, and so they've had to be squashed into this semesters schedule. So today, Catherine handed us a thick wedge of notes, and announced that today we would be covering Winter Botanicals and Winter Remedies.

The 'Holistic' Evergreens

These botanicals are useful to include within our pharmacopia, however potentially not for home use, as 4 out of 5 are potentially toxic.

Holly: dried, ground, powdered berries - used for snuff and vulnerary wound healer.

Yew: the fungus growing in the bark is currently being tested as a chemotheurapeutic agent, and has been found to have success with cervial cancer patients. The flesh of the bright red berry isn't toxic, it is the black seed that is toxic.

Ivy: Vulnerary wound healer, contains saponins that irritate and cause coughing.

Mistletoe: Schedule 3 bracket - can be toxic dependent on dosage. Can be used to lower blood pressure when mixed with garlic and hawthorn.

Pine: Primarily Pinus sylvestris contains resins which form essential oils - very strong so be careful when using at home, it is also an potent anti-oxidant especially pycnogenals, which concentrate down to  oligomericprocyanodins, which have been found to be useful with cancer patients, helps to kick start the natural immune system.

The Early Bloomers

Magnolia: a favourite in Traditional Chinese Medicine, where the bark is used. It is a very aromatic botanical, and is generally used as a tonic for overindulgence.

Fragrant Winter Hazel: (picture of a Witch Hazel) The bark of the Winter Hazel's is used, it is most potent in the spring when the sap is flowing freely. They are valued for their tannin content primarily. They are antiseptic, astringent and vulnerary.
They are often the earliest plants to bloom, and are often not found in gardens. As early as January you may see blossoms, and provide a good source of pollen and nectar for foraging bees.

The Wintersweet Shrub: Another botanical used frequently in Traditional Chinese Medicine, the flowers, leaf and root all can be used. The flowers are cylogog, they stimulate secretion of enzymes, act as fluid quenchers and therefore re-hydrate, they can also eleviate depression. The buds can be used as a cold remedy. Whereas the leaf and root can be used as a poultice for wounds.

Winter Bush Honeysuckle: The flowers are used. This botanical is used as an antitusis, a cough remedy, usually taken as an infusion. A useful botanical for children of the air, day-dreamers, as it brings their thoughts back down to earth.

Winter Flowering Jasmine: The flowers are used. In Traditional Chinese Medicine this botanical is used as a diaurferetic, it encourages the body to make a fever, through vasodilation, which leads to a cleansing, detoxifying effect.

Winter Flowering Viburnum: The botanical is aromatic. The fruits are used, they're edible and sweet, however, not readily born in the UK.

Winter Flowering Quince: The fruits and seeds are used. The botanical is used as a demulcent, it has a high carbohydrate content, it is soothing due to its mucilagenous content, it has a mild laxative action due to the fibrous content of the seed. The fruits are quite astringent, a syrup can be made from them, it has the opposite of a laxative effect. With similar properties to flaxseed or linseed.

Winter Cherry Tree: The bark is used in the UK. In Traditional Chinese Medicine its used as a cough remedy, in Japan its used as an infusion. In China the flowers are preserved in salt and are used at weddings, rehydrated they unfurl again.

Cough Mixture Herbs
The botanicals that seem to bloom and grow in the winter months are used to treat the ailments of those months. The following herbs are used within cough mixtures in Western Herbal Medicine.

Balm of Gilead: The buds are used. It is used as an anti-inflammatory, it is soothing and comforting, it encourages coughing to get rid of phlegm. Its aromatic and resinous.

Coltsfoot: The leaves are used. This botanical is suggested for external use only, as it is found to contain pyrrolizadine alkaloids, which can do minimal damage to the liver. Not found so highly concentrated in the leaf, more so in the root. It can be used as a vulnerary wound healer, internally for healing ulcers.

Elecampane: The roots are used. It has a high carbohydrate content, found in starch, it also has a higher mucilage content. Harvested in late summer and early autumn, dried to store, usually chopped or sliced.

White Horehound: Not to be conufsed with Black Horehound. When used as a tea, it has a violent taste. It has a mucilagenous element and is good for coughs.

Hyssop: This botanical induces a healing fever. It is a gentle remedy, better for use on children and older people.

Iceland Moss: This botanical is very mucilagenous, making it soothing, very nutritious and is useful in digestive disorders.

Liquorice: The rhizomes on the root are used. It can also be used to just provide a natural sweetness, to make a remedy more palatable. It is anti-inflammatory, with a high mucilagenous content, it also contains saponins and glycerizine - extremely sweet, more so than sugar.

Lobelia: Now a schedule 3 category herb. A favoured herb of the Physiomedicalists, and often misleadingly referred to as "Indian Tobacco", however the foliage of this botanical should be neither chewed nor smoked as it is highly acrid, nauseating and toxic. A tonic can be made, due to the nauseating effect, it is used to get the phelgm out of system. The syrup smells like treacle.

Marshmallow: The root and leaf are used. The root more so for the digestive tract, and the leaf for the respiratory tract - however they can be used interchangeably. This botanical has a high mucilage content, which is soothing and is used to calm the cough reflex, especially if dry and tickly. The root has the higher mucilage content, seen as carbohydrate stores.

Mullein: Otherwise known as Candlewort. This botanical has an interesting array of constituents. It has very stickt apial parts, the flower and leaf are used. Historically Mullein has been used to cure "glue ear" in children - droplets of warm Mullein oil (made from the flowers) are used in the ear. The leaf is also used in cough medicine mixtures.

Pleurisy Root: Otherwise known as Butterfly Weed. Smells like cherry liqueur. It is a remedy for dampy conditions in the respiratory tract. Good for persistant coughs.

Wild Black Cherry Bark: The bark is used. It has an expactory effect - it makes you cough.

Herbs for Colds

Elderflower and Boneset otherwise known as "Feverwort": As soon as you feel you are coming down with a cold, drink either of these two botanicals as an infusion, they're dieurpheretics, and encourage perspiration through vasodilation, this is detoxifying and the root of elimination.

Essential Oil Inhalants for Colds

Eucalyptus, Pine - these botanicals are often found together with mentol i.e. Vix Vapor Rub, and Thyme - is both aromatic and antiseptic, all act as decongestants.

Yarrow and Peppermint are useful as admixtures.

Herbs to Warm

The following botanicals are used to create a "fire in the belly", to impart warmth to the body, which is the root of good herbal practise.

Ginger: The rhizomes on the roots are used.

Angelica: The root and stem are used. This botanical is the softest of the "warming herbs", it is good for digestive issues.

Cayenne Pepper: Only use 1-3 droplets of tinctured extract. This is a schedule 3 category botanical, not because its poisonous but because of the extremes it can cause. This is the fieriest of the "warming herbs".

Essence of Cinnamon: An aromatic blend of winter warming botanicals - Cinnamon leaf oil is they key ingredient used.

Horseradish Root

Mustard Seed Powders: Good for foot baths.

Many more botanicals can be used as "warming herbs", e.g. Black pepper.

Three Winter Tonics

Rosehips: Very high in vitamin C.

Echinacea: The root is used.

Sea Buckthorn: The berry is very high in vitamin C.

There are many other herbs that can be used against winter illnesses, and clearly, only a few have been mentioned here... but hopefully, you gained an idea, as I certainly did.

This was only one-half of our class on Tuesday, for the second half of the day Jacqui Pestell, botanic illustrator, arrived to give us a brief tutorial on how to sketch botanicals. With relative ease Jacqui demonstrated how to sketch a piece of ivy, the rules seem to be...

1. Anchor your arm, find a comfortable position, but allow full movement through the wrist. Constant changes of arm position will alter the picture considerably.
2. Position your botanical so you can see the most of it... the stems, the leaves from the front and back, the joins
3. Use a ruler to help with the positioning of the botanicals, how long the main stems are, and the positioning of the leaves.
4. If you have a considerable amount of time with the one botanical then you can tell a story with the botanical, draw the full view, the flowers, the side view, a cut-through section and if possible the seeds. If just drawing in pencil or ink, use shading to help but also note down colours and any major points on the botanical.

There was a considerable amount of hysterical laughter, sighs and frustration as we all sketched our botanicals. It requires an amazing amount of patience... we all decided that, by the end of the class, we were never going to forget our cameras again!