Every plant and herb has something to share with us or to support us with, whether that's on a physical, emotional or spiritual level.
There is an old saying that the plants that grow around you are often the ones that we most need for our own healing.
If we are curious and take time to connect we can learn what they are.
We try and incorporate healing herbs into our lives across the clothes that we wear, the food that we eat and the environment that we place ourselves in.
The lemon balm in my garden is abundant at the moment so I am welcoming its healing energy and benefits into my life. You can do the same.
Adding uplifting herbs like mint and lemon balm to a bouquet of flowers that we have in our home can be a real boost for our body, as just the smell of lemon balm for example can lift mood and improve brain function.
Or why not include it in your cooking?
Here is a lovely simple recipe for incorporating lemon balm into a delicious afternoon snack!
7g finely chopped lemon balm leaves ( choose the youngest freshest leaves)
1 tsp of lemon juice
100g sugar or jaggery
200g white spelt flour
100g fine porrige oats
2 pinches of salt
1. Chop lemon balm in a nutribullet with the lemon juice until fine.
2. Cream butter and sugar in a bowl.
3.Beat the egg into the herb and lemon mixture and add to butter.
4. Add the flour, salt and porridge oats and bring together. It should form a dough. You can add a little flour if it needs.
5. Roll in ball and place in the fridge for an hour to cool.
6. Then roll out and cut with a pastry cutter.
6. Place on a baking sheet in the oven at 180c for 10 minutes or until the edges start to brown.
I leave you with a quote about this magical herb from the great 17th Century Herbalist Culpepper..
"Lemon Balm causes the mind and heart to become merry"
As you walk along country lanes and park hedgerows you will be greeted by the hawthorn blossom. It has finally sprung and it beckons for us to benefit from its feminine healing powers.
Hawthorn has its strongest affinity with the heart. Opening us to giving and receiving Love. It encourages self-love and self-acceptance strengthening our inner courage. In fact the word courage comes from the latin for "cor" which means "heart" suggesting that the vulnerability that comes with opening our heart is what it means to be courageous. We love to wear powerful herbs against our skin.
Your skin is the largest organ of your body, its thin dermal layers absorbing the physical and energetic qualities of the plants, our allies, that we have been connected to for generations.
We have been experimenting with it as a plant dye. Using the flowers and leaves combined it creates a beautiful coral pink.
If you would like to try this at home here are some instructions: Fill a saucepan full with flowers and leaves. Cover with water at least 2cm above the top of the hawthorn. Bring to the boil and simmer for 1 hour then leave in to cool .
Use a pan large enough to allow the fabric some room if you want an even colour.
Place your pan on the hob and bring to the boil before simmering gently for 1 hour.
Keep checking to see how the dye colour is looking and when you are happy strain out the skins and place your material in the dye bath.
Keep on a gentle heat and move fabric around freely. For deeper colours leave the fabric to sit in the dye overnight and cool.
When doing natural dyeing you need to prepare the fabrics. You can do this with a metallic based mordant (instructions here) or alternatively a protein rich mordant like Soya, Cow or Goats milk.
For this fabric we mordanted with goats milk and water in a 1:1 ratio
This involved soaking the silk (you can use cotton or linen too) in goats milk, then putting on a spin cycle to wring out excess milk without leaving streaks before placing on the line to dry. Repeat this process without rinsing 3 times minimum. Once dry leave another 24 hours - 1 week to help the milk adhere.
For this mottled effect I crunched it up the fabric as I moved it about in the dye bath.
I also took it out after an initial soak, dried it then placed it back in the dye bath.
With Love + Knickers...
Most of us can recognize a dandelion straight away. Its long green jagged leaves and yellow flowers are consistent company in our gardens, if not an unwelcome one in many cases.
If shouldn't be the case though. Dandelions long roots dig deep into the soil breaking up hard ground, drawing up important minerals from deep down below to improve the top soil. When their job is done, they stop growing. Isn't that magic?
I love these little rays of sunshine and certainly if I pull them up I like to put them to good use, as they are potent healers.
The leaves can be nibbled on, added to salads or used as a tea. The flowers added to iced drinks in the summer make a refreshing infusion and the roots also have a use to make bitters or a simple dandelion tincture.
When you harvest your dandelions affects how they will taste. If you pick in the Autumn the levels of the fiber inulin tend to be higher, whilst sugar is lower, but they taste bitter and chewy.
If you harvest in the spring the levels of taraxacin (the active constituent of dandelions that stimulates the liver and gall bladder are higher.
When you are harvesting roots with any plant the general rule is you want to do this prior to the plant flowering as it moves its energy from the roots to the flower.
In this modern world where we are barraged by toxic chemicals in the air we breathe and the food we eat, dandelion is a nice friend and support to have for your system.
It is a strong detoxifier so make sure you use the purest plants, ones that are growing away from pollution.
Just as when picking any plant for consumption choose one that looks large and vital and use a garden fork to gently work through the soil underneath the dandelion to prize it up by the root without snapping it.
I tend to use the roots on their own for tinctures and chop them up into 1 or 2 cm pieces after washing off the mud!
Making your tincture
Whilst you can use 40% alcohol for your tincture such as vodka I prefer to use local apple cider vinegar, which you can usually buy, from your local cider brewery.
You ideally do a ratio of 2:1 so 2 cups of alcohol/ACV to 1 of the chopped roots and leaves, make sure they are well covered.
Leave in a cool dark place for 2-3 months and strain off the plant matter before bottling.
As dandelion is a bitter it naturally stimulates digestion and stimulates bile production so it is a good idea to have 1 teaspoon diluted in a 2:1 warm water to tincture ratio prior to meals to have the greatest effect. It has a positive effect on reducing water retention and Urinary tract infections.
When you get more confident you can jazz up your recipe by adding things like Cacao nibs, orange peel, spices to your mix!
This Saturday 7th May we will be celebrating International Herb Day.
Herbs and local plants were traditionally added to soups and stews in small amounts on a regular basis into order to benefit from their healing antioxidant, anti inflammatory qualities.
Now we tend to wait till something is wrong before we use them, which can make healing times longer and mean our immune system doesn't fight things off so well.
We are great believers in taking a proactive attempt to our health and utilising the power of plants.
Chances are that even if you don't have a garden you will have one or two of the below growing nearby in a park or hedgerow and incorporating them into a ritual of herbal tea can help you absorb the amazing benefits.
Place a handful of one or a combination of the below herbs infused for 15 minutes in a mug or pot. Add local honey to taste.
The superfood of the UK, growing abundantly and considered a weed. Nettle is a natural iron tonic,a diuretic to the kidneys and helps release toxins from the liver ( pick the nettle tops as this is where the most energy is contained)
A great lymphatic drainer and blood purifier. The perfect partner for a physical spring clean. This is a great plant to juice with vegetables too as part of a morning tonic.
As my own namesake I have a special love for this plant. Along with their friends the cowslips (which look very similar) they are fantastic tonics for our nervous system. They bring calm and tranquility alleviating anxiety and aiding restful sleep. Drink in the evening before bed.
The leaves and flowers of the sweet violet possess mild expectorant as well as demulcent properties. The phytochemical in this herb helps to break up chest congestion and thin mucus linings helping us to breath. These qualities along with its high Vitamin C content make it a great cold and flu support.
Rosemary is the memory herb. It strengthens our mind by increasing blood flow there. It's volatile oils are anti fungal, antibacterial and antiviral making it a great herb to support the whole immune system.
Is the king of herbs when it comes to respiratory complaints. Rich in phenol which is a powerful antiseptic it soothes sore throats and reduces inflammation in chronic chest complaints.
This kitchen herb is a powerful ally. It contains a compound called apigenin which is a powerful fighter against cancer and booster of our immune system. Rich in vitamin C and a natural diuretic it supports kidney and urinary tract health.
Mint is the great digestive support herb. It can help the alleviate the symptoms of IBS. It can also help us "digest" our emotions when they get overwhelming.
Explore these magical wild herbs and enjoy the benefits they bring
We are thrilled to announce that Bedstraw + Madder are this year's winners of the Best Carbon Footprint Initiative at Drapers Sustainable Fashion Awards 2022.
An awards programme that recognises the strides being taken in reducing the industry's environmental impact and creating fairer working conditions across the supply chain.
Described as "impressive" and a "breath of fresh air", judges concluded: "They are a small company, but they have worked so hard at every single stage of the supply chain, always with carbon in mind and a focus on regenerative farming, which is very impressive".
Vanessa, co-founder and creative director, says, "As a young brand, we are grateful to be recognised for our team's hard work to create a positive impact. Creating a fully traceable supply chain and growing organic cotton from seed to create our chemical-free fabrics isn't easy, but as the saying goes, "there are no shortcuts to any place worth going…."
Bedstraw + Madder is part of the Raddis®System: a holistic food-& fibre system, growing fully traceable regenerative organic-in-conversion & organic cotton with smallholder farmers in Southern India while working in partnership with Oshadi Collective and Fibershed to pioneer a radically different way of making clothes.
Empowering Tribal Farmers, restoring soil quality using a multi–Crop Eco System, removing pesticides and reducing Water use, all whilst capturing carbon to mitigate climate change. It’s about the potential of regenerative fashion to be restorative. For the fashion industry to be less bad is not good enough, we have the power through regenerative textiles to actively do good both environmentally and socially.
This for Bedstraw + Madder includes rainfed irrigation, revival of ancient traditional craft skills such as hand weaving and the empowerment of cotton farmers through paying directly a premium on market price.
We all generate waste of some description.
When we do, we might use the expression “throw it away” in the same sentence.
In recent years though there has been a surge in the amount of us questioning where this place “away” actually is.
The clear truth is it doesn’t’ exist. When we throw something away it just becomes someone else’s problem.
In the UK in 2020 the UK exported a shocking 0.54 million tons of plastic to other countries and every year 700 tonnes of clothing goes to landfill.
But hiding things out of sight doesn’t solve the problem that is mounting in landfills around the world.
The solution needs to be built in at the start, to all the things we use in our life and no less importantly this needs to be applied to our clothes.
From conventional cotton production, which uses a staggering amount of pesticides, to petroleum-based toxic dyes, to exploited factory workers, there are many reasons that it is past time to transform the way our clothes are produced.
When we started Bedstraw + Madder we always envisaged a circular model, utilising resources, eliminating or repurposing waste whilst creating pieces that could return to the earth at end of life without contaminating it in the process.
The regular polyester elastic that is used in most knickers can takes up to 200 years to biodegrade. Where does that leave future generations?
We achieved our vision with our first product, our farm 2 fibre knickers which we call “soil to soil” – a term developed by Fibreshed, (an organisation who we partnered with in India to grow our cotton) which alludes to the close connection to the landscape that growing what you wear brings you.
It also refers to the ability of our knickers to return to whence they came.
The use of natural rubber elastic means that our knickers will compost back to the soil within 6 months. Images speak louder than words.
This is week 6 of being in the home compost. We already have separation from the elastic and large holes developing.
Over the next few months we will be sharing our composting videos via our instagram channel.
Looking for a gift that doesn’t cost the earth? Check out our knicker range.
Picture a farmer.
What do they look like? Are they tall or short? Are they dressed in dungarees, holding a shovel, in a tractor, wearing wellies? Are they Kaleb from Clarkson’s Farm?
Are they a man?
It’s a common misconception that most farmers are male – like many occupations, men seem to be the face of the farming world. In reality, women make up the majority of the cotton farming workforce in India – so much so that nearly 75% of full-time workers on India’s farms are, in fact, women.
And do you know what? They’re incredibly good at it. Women are integral to the cotton value chain – your clothing quite literally would not exist without them. But they are still undervalued by many; still underpaid for their work; and still disregarded despite their knowledge of the land.
In India, women are often not recognised as farmers because the land is owned or leased to men. But this is nonsensical. We value women.
In traditional Indian farming communities, seed preservation has always been a women’s role. They have a unique connection to Mother Nature – an unrivalled understanding of it. They’re it’s kindest keepers.
Take Eswari, who lives in Erode, Southern India, where our cotton is grown. She is absolutely at home on the farm. If you ask her about the flora, her face will light up. She’ll immediately be able to point you in the direction of plants with healing properties. The land is her own personal hospital.
Eswari, on the farm in Erode, India.
But women also play a pivotal role in protecting our planet, despite (or perhaps, because of) being more vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Research shows that the contributions of women lead to successful, long-term solutions to climate change & global warming.
We have to be careful when we use the word empowerment. It has been used by too many corporations, too many times, and with too little connection to any real impact.
Pon Vaishali manages the farm where our cotton is grown. Although her interest in farming was inspired by her father, who specialised in organic turmeric and vegetables, Vaishali also has extensive theoretical knowledge from her agriculture degree. This included learning about low-impact farming practices, such as crop rotation, green manures and compost, biological pest control and mechanical cultivation. Her knowledge makes our regenerative farm better.
Ultimately, we’re passionate about the lives of the women that are so ingrained in the land that grows our cotton. And any positive impact on women has a ripple effect on their households and communities; it’s exactly what we’re about – holistic outcomes for all – economic, social and environmental.
Because this is the regeneration generation. And we won’t settle for less.
The spring equinox this year occurs on Saturday 20th March, a time when day and night will be of almost equal duration and which marks the first day of Spring.
It is a day to celebrate the revival of life after a long cold winter and when our focus shifts from the internal to external, from preparation to action. It is a time of rebirth as we see with the eggs hatching and birds returning from their migrations.
At Bedstraw + Madder we too are preparing for new life in our much-anticipated launch of our GMD basic range of plant dyed underwear.
We sourced the finest super soft unbleached GOTS certified organic cotton and biodegradable elastane whilst ensuring the perfect comfortable fit for our brief, Brazilian and thong.
Our babies are now ready to fly in the coming weeks in 3 beautiful plant dyed colours to support your nether regions in more ways than one!
With every season comes change and the clearest sign of abundant health and vitality is our ability to adapt to it and maintain balance as we move from one to the next.
So, in addition to wearing natural plant pigments next to your skin what else can we do to keep our body in balance at this time of year?
Try some of these solstice rituals to help you feel aligned and ready for the year ahead.
Support your gut health
After a starch and often meat heavy winter, it is time to lighten up your meals with spring greens, fresh juices and spices of ginger and turmeric to increase circulation and to aid detoxification. Try water or milk kefir for the best probiotic support, drink bone broths and increase your intake of fibre in the form of fresh herbs, pulses and beans.
Love the skin you’re in
As the largest organ of your body, and a key organ for elimination give your skin some TLC. Do your best to support sweating with regular exercise or saunas and encourage the natural oils to tone and moisturise. Take care to eliminate any chemicals from getting on there and avoid wearing polyester.
Out with the old, make space for the new
This doesn’t just apply to your wardrobe or house. Let go of friendships and lovers that are no longer serving you and allow space for new ones to come into your life.
Smudge the corners of your rooms with sage and plant new intentions for your spaces.
This time of year, is a time to sow seeds with our actions, our visualisations and to start planting real seeds in the ground for future food or beauty to enjoy.
Ease the Hayfever
Don’t let hayfever get you down. Tackle it naturally by increasing your Vitamin C intake and drink infusions of elderflowers, nettles and peppermint.
Don’t be tied down to exercise routines that are not enjoyable. It is essential to move your body to allow your body to eliminate the toxins it has built up over the last few months. Find some rituals that bring you joy and increase your heart rate at the same time. Skip, run, hoopla hoop in a pair of our knickers, make love but make sure it makes you smile.
Happy Spring Solstice
Bringing you our unique botanical colour recipes our new knickers bring colour to your clothes via Gar-Ment-Dye - a term used to describe the dyeing technique when a piece of clothing is dyed after it has been made rather than dyeing the fabric before making it into something.
Why do we love it?
Whilst most fabrics are bleached, we always maintain the natural beauty of our organic cotton base fabric.
Our methods are kinder to your skin and to nature, which is why we are campaigning for clean colour and a move away from the heavy chemicals used in conventional dyeing methods.
All garment dyed pieces are pre washed and dried twice before they get to you so there is no chance of anything shrinking once you get it home which is always a bonus.
We exhaust our natural dye vat and use up those precious plant pigments when garment dyeing as you can keep adding smaller amounts of clothing until all the dye is gone, achieving different colours along the way and nothing is wasted. As an impact business we love this.
The GMD process gives character and essentially means you have a one-of-a-kind piece. We dye in small run batches meaning limited edition colour runs. No batch is exactly the same. Instead of a uniform finish like you get with chemical dyeing the garment dyeing allows the dye to settle in different amounts in different places.
Every garment dyed piece you buy you can be sure there is nothing exactly like it.
A work of art you might say.
It certainly makes every pair of knickers that little more special which we hope YOU our customers will love.
You can try GMD for yourself.
Our GMD basic range of knickers is launching at the end of the month in 3 colourways Candy pink, La Peche and Sunshine.
Sign up to our newsletter to be the first to know when they drop.
x Ness and Prim
While winter was a time to conserve our energy stores and slow down, spring is traditionally a time of growth, renewal and new life. It is also a time to cleanse, re-energize and re-evaluate, to make plans for the coming year.
We famously spring clean our homes but what better way to start the year than paying the same attention to our bodies.
In traditional Chinese medicine the organs associated with spring are the liver and gallbladder and it’s these we need to help at this time of year.
Nature assists us in this process by providing bounty all around us. The young nettle shoots picked and infused in hot water act as a diuretic on the kidneys and stimulate the liver to release toxins.
Or dry the nettle tops and powder them down to create a mineral rich sprinkle that can be secretly added to soups, porridge and smoothies.
The cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, brussel sprouts and cabbage that we love to hate actually contain antioxidants such as glutathione which assist in removing toxins as well as alkalizing an over acidic system.
As well as good nutrition, Homeopathy a gentle form of complementary medicine can assist this process too; by stimulating your body’s natural ability to heal itself and regain balance.
It works on the principle of “like cures like” - that is, a substance that would cause symptoms in a healthy person is used to cure those same symptoms in illness.
Two key remedies to help with detoxification are Nux Vomica and Sulphur. They both have symptoms of irritability, sluggishness and an increased sensitivity to their environment, all of which indicate an overburdened system.
Taken alternately 6c on a waning moon (a time when elimination happens more easily) for a couple of days can help remove impurities by cleaning all your organs of elimination - your bowel, kidneys, liver and skin.
Due to a high carbohydrate intake over the winter months digestion can slow down which can cause toxins to be reabsorbed back into the blood stream. A traditional herb originating in India called Triphala can be taken twice a day before meals which can reduce bloating and speed up the digestive process.
This time of year is notorious for colds which we love to moan about but these are in hindsight vital mechanisms for clearing out rubbish from the lymphatic system, just good house keeping.
We like to keep a few essential oils in our first aid kit should we feel the onset of a cold coming or to support the cold as it throws out toxins from your system. Black pepper and eucalyptus are fantastic for this and can make breathing a little easier.
Toxins and particularly heavy metals are a huge part of our life now as they infiltrate the water we drink, the fish we eat and the air we breathe. Keep some chlorella in your cupboard as it is excellent for supporting the removal of these heavy metals from the system by absorbing the metal ions onto its surface . For a spring fix try 1 gram mixed with water up to 3 times a day and used over the period of a month to compliment the spring cycles.
Spring is literally the time, like nature we should be blooming so if you don’t feel that way it may be a sign to take a look at your lifestyle habits and make some positive changes. One step at a time.