I’d like to take a moment to thank you for reading my posts, and for the wonderful feedback many of you have given me since the blog started almost two years ago. I hope that you are able to incorporate some of the ideas and health tips into your daily routine. I am a big believer in sharing advice and wisdom so that we can all lead better lives. If you are a social media user, I invite you to follow Herbaceous over on Instagram or Facebook , and if you like what you read, please let your family and friends know too.
My passion for herbal medicine continues today with a profile of three more beautiful herbs, which all have an important role to play during these long winter months. You will notice that I have followed the same format as the last post with the common name included for each herb, as well as the Latin name. First up is oats, followed by lavender, and then St John’s wort.
?OATS ?Latin name: Avena sativa
The legendary British herbalist, Simon Mills, describes oats as being “a sure and effective restorative to the nervous system…(they can be applied in) all states of debility (as well as) depression, shingles, and other types of herpes infections.” I often incorporate tincture of oats in individualised herbal tonics for people experiencing tiredness and exhaustion, as well as anxiety, depression and to aid recovery from shingles.
Oats are a very grounding plant – they help to rebuild, nourish and restore. They are warming and sweet with a slightly bitter flavour. I eat oats for breakfast in the winter time (a throwback to my Scottish heritage!). They are especially delicious when soaked overnight and then cooked in the morning, the old fashioned way, in a saucepan. As opposed to the cringe worthy plastic bag microwave versions…don’t get me started! My ancestors would be turning in their graves! I also add some grated ginger and cinnamon to my oats, as well as some yoghurt, and stewed fruit such as apple or pear.
I would love to hear about your favourite way of preparing oats….you can leave a comment at the end of this post.
Oats are native to Northern Europe where they have been grown since classical times as a staple food, especially in Scotland. Oats also grow well here in Australia. They can be used externally to treat inflamed and itchy skin, and are excellent for soothing ezcema. An oat face mask is a wonderful and cost effective way to soften and soothe your skin. Oats also help to clear cholesterol from the digestive tract and arteries.
You may be aware that oats contain gluten so they are best avoided if you are intolerant to gluten.
Lastly, oats are rich in minerals zinc, calcium, iron, magnesium. They are one of the richest foods sources of silicon and help to restore strength to connective tissue, skin, hair and nails. Oats are a true example of food as medicine.
?LAVENDER ?Latin name: Lavandula officinalis
The delightful Lavandula officinalis is well regarded as a tonic to the nervous system. Research indicates that lavender displays anti-depressant, anti-anxiety and mood enhancing activity. It’s relaxing smell is derived from volatile oils including linalool, geraniol and linalyl acetate. Historically lavender can be traced back to ancient Egypt where is was used for embalming. And in ancient Rome soldiers carried lavender to assist with dressing war wounds. Lavender was a true friend of mine during my naturopathic studies, helping me to relax, wind down and get a good nights sleep. In fact I still pop some lavender oil on my pillow each night. This is also a great way to help children to enter the sleepy zone! I also love to use Lavender Relaxing Bath Milk and Lavender Creamy Body Wash by Weleda …….Heavenly!
?ST JOHN’S WORT ?Latin name: Hypericum perforatum
The last herb for today is Hypericum, which has been used for centuries and is well known today for treating anxiety and depression. It has a strong affinity with the sun and its constituents become more potent in temperatures above 30 degrees. Australian hypericum tends to be more robust than its European relations. The flower is a beautiful yellow colour, like the sun, so it is easy to see how this wonderful herb helps to bring back the sunshine and vitality into a tired and worn nervous system. ? It assists with acute nerve pain such as sciatica and tooth pain. Hypericum is also an excellent remedy for treating viruses such as herpes, as well as for post viral fatigue. Best prescribed by a trained herbalist, St John’s Wort can play an important role in treating many modern day afflictions.
Have a warm and cosy month,
Grieve, M : A modern herbal.
Haas, Elson: Staying healthy with nutrition.
Mills, S : The complete guide to modern herbalism.
Pitchford, Paul: Healing with wholefoods.
Notes from herbal medicine lectures at Southern School of Natural Therapies, Fitzroy, Melbourne.
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