A wide range of herbs grow on the RISC forest garden. They are not only used in the Global Cafe
downstairs, but are also the ingredients for medicinal infusions, ointments and other preparations.
Here are a few of our favourites.Lemon Balm (Melissa ofﬁcinalis)
A relaxing tonic for anxiety, mild depression, restlessness and irritability. It reduces feelings of
nervousness and panic and can even quieten the palpitations that may accompany these. Often used
with St John’s Wort for Seasonal Adjustment Disorder (SAD). Lemon balm is useful when over-anxiety
is causing digestive problems such as indigestion, acidity, nausea, bloating and colicky pains. It is
also useful for cold sores, chickenpox and shingles. It is best used fresh, a couple of sprigs to a cup of
boiling water or as a tincture of fresh plant. Can also be used to ﬂavour cooking.Sage (Salvia ofﬁcinalis)
A ﬁrst rate remedy as a gargle for sore throats due to it’s combination of antiseptic, relaxing and
astringent actions. For the same reasons it makes an excellent mouthwash for mouth ulcers and sore
gums. Sage is a digestive tonic and stimulant and is also used as a nerve tonic, helping both to calm
and stimulate the nervous system. This combination of actions make it an ideal tonic for older people.
As a cold tea it helps to reduce menopausal night sweats and new mothers should know that it will
dry up breast milk. Fresh leaves can be rubbed onto bites and stings as a ﬁrst aid remedy.
Caution: not to be used in medicinal doses if pregnant or epileptic.
Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)
A very useful remedy as a tea or syrup for chest infections, even proving helpful in more serious
problems such as bronchitis, whooping cough and pleurisy. The volatile oils in thyme are both
antiseptic and expectorant helping to clear infection and make mucous secretions thinner and
therefore easier to cough up. The oils also help relieve muscle spasms; very useful for the tightness
that often accompanies chest infections. Thyme is also an anti-fungal in conditions like ringworm
and athlete’s foot. Research suggests that thyme and its volatile oil have a signiﬁcant tonic effect,
supporting the normal functioning of the body and countering the effects of ageing.
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St John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum)
Well known as a safe and effective antidepressant, St John’s Wort has a long history of use as a
herb for nervous problems, especially any combination of anxiety, tension, insomnia and depression
– particularly when associated with the menopause. It is also a valuable tonic for the liver and gall
bladder. Externally the beautiful deep red infused oil is an excellent antiseptic and is used for wounds
and burns. It also helps relieve cramps and nerve pain such as sciatica when massaged over the
affected area. Flowering tops are gathered just as the ﬂowers are opening.
Caution: St John’s Wort may affect the metabolism of other medications. If you take other
medicines please consult your GP or a Medical Herbalist before taking this herb.
Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)
The most important use of fennel seeds is to relieve wind and bloating. A tea made from 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 tsp
of seeds per cup of water can be taken up to 5 times a day: crushing the seeds slightly before making
the tea will help to release the aromatic oils, making the tea more effective. Fennel increases breast
milk production and is safe for treating colic and painful teething in babies and so makes an excellent
choice of tea for breastfeeding women, as the medicinal properties of fennel will pass through the
breast milk to the child.Purple Coneﬂower (Echinacea angustifolia)
Used traditionally for a wide range of acute and chronic infections, from boils and abscesses to
septicaemia. It can be used for impetigo, childhood diseases like chickenpox, mastitis and epidemic
inﬂuenza among many others. Echinacea is an excellent remedy for tonsillitis, both internally and as
a gargle. A fresh root tincture is regarded as the most effective preparation and as Echinacea is very
non-toxic it can be taken frequently in quite large doses to good effect. The best preparations should
leave a tingling sensation on the tongue. It can be useful for people who have chronic diseases of the
lung or diabetes to take a course of Echinacea in low doses over the winter to help prevent infections.
Caution: If a condition is potentially serious it should be treated by or in conjunction with a
qualiﬁed medical herbalist or your GP.
Marigold (Calendula arvensis)
Calendula, well known as one of the ornamental marigolds, blooms month after month from early
spring to ﬁrst frost. Because calend
means ‘month’ in Latin, the plant’s lengthy ﬂowering season
is believed to have given Calendula its name. The herb has been used to heal wounds and treats
inﬂamed skin since ancient times .Comfrey (Symphytum uplandicum)
This plant is so useful – every garden should have one. It is edible, attracts bees, is used as
chickenfeed, made into a liquid plant feed, fed to horses to condition their coats… In herbal medicine
it is made into ointments and poultices to draw out infections and heal bruised and broken skin.
Compiled by Amanda Dean
MNIMH Medical Herbalist May 2005
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