Meet the Tibetan Herbalist: Lucy Jones

Meet the Tibetan Herbalist: Lucy Jones

Today we have the honour of introducing you to the queen of herbalism herself Lucy of The Myrobalan clinic in Castle Cary. I met Lucy when I first moved to Dorset about 10 years ago and she has been supporting my health ever since.

What I love most is Lucy’s close relationships and intimate knowledge of the plants themselves which she has nurtured through foraging and growing them herself. Unlike a lot of herbalists, she creates her own powerful tinctures.

Welcome Lucy.

I was often told that the herbs that grow around us are the ones we most need and those grown in hotter countries are the most powerful just as plant dyes grown in hotter countries provide brighter colours. Is there any truth in this?

In general, I love the idea that our local environment offers us everything we need to be healthy. It’s true that the plants which grow around us are very often the ones that are best suited to our constitution but then there’s also the situation where a herb suddenly appears when we need it. Let me give you a few examples:

One of my patients was establishing a new garden and found that a huge amount of Shepherd’s Purse sprung up where the soil had been cultivated. A few months later she realised that she needed fresh Shepherd’s Purse to help resolve heavy menstrual bleeding. Shepherds Purse is amazing at treating excessive bleeding, whether that’s post partum or heavy menstrual bleeding but to be most effective it must be prepared with fresh plant. This person was able to gather fresh Shepherd’s Purse for teas and it really helped her.

An elderly patient found Eyebright in her field after many years of it not growing there. That same season she developed quite irritated sore eyes and was able to make an Eyebright eye wash which she described as a ‘life saver’.

One last example, a patient of mine was a very keen gardener who liked to grow vegetables, herbs and fruit. He never used chemicals but always kept everything weed free and tidy. One evening, I was just packing up to go home from my clinic and he rang me complaining of a sudden painful urinary tract infection. He wanted to avoid antibiotics so I suggested that the best thing to help him was Couch grass, however I realised it was unlikely that he would have any growing in his garden. He said: “On the contrary, I do actually have a patch of Couch which has sprung up this year and I decided to leave it”. He harvested some rhizomes and made a tea straight away. Within two days he was absolutely fine.

There are lots of stories like this. I love that they illustrate the value of noticing and having a relationship with the plants around us.

Having said all of this, I also feel that having some herbal influences from further afield can be very helpful when needed. As someone who’s also trained in Tibetan Medicine, I like to prescribe spicy medicines such as Cardamom, Cloves, Chilli and Ginger alongside locally grown medicines.

It's very interesting that you say plant dyes grown in hotter countries are brighter. I hadn’t really thought about that before but yes of course that really makes sense. There’s a stronger element of ‘fire’ in plants grown in hot climates and one of the qualities of the fire element is having or resulting in a stronger colour.

There are lots of herbalists out there and thankfully it is growing in interest.

What makes your herbalism unique?

Goodness, that’s quite a question! I think that in general, herbal medicine is very much about the relationship between practitioner, patient and the herbs. There’s a very special alchemy that happens when these three things come together. For that reason, you can say that all herbal practitioners offer a unique approach. We all share the objective of treating people with herbal medicine but within that there’s a lovely range of therapeutic approaches. This is wonderful because it means that patients can choose a practitioner that really resonates with them and helps them to feel comfortable in their health journey. 

Re my herbalism being unique, I suppose you could say that my own way of working is unusual because the majority of the herbs that I prescribe have been grown or gathered by me, and all of the herbs I prescribe have been processed by hand into medicines. There’s a lot of care and mindfulness which goes into the process from seed to medicine and it’s an absolute joy to work in this way.

Another unique point is that, although I’m a western herbal practitioner based in the west, my approach is also very strongly influenced by Tibetan medicine. Tibetan medicine is a beautiful and sophisticated system based on a deep appreciation of interconnectedness and respect for the Earth and the medicines which come from it. In Tibetan Medicine it’s actually considered unethical to prescribe medicines to patients if lifestyle and dietary factors haven’t been addressed first. I think that this is very wise since it helps patients to truly understand how to stay well. In my clinic, herbal treatment is most often a temporary support whilst a patient makes the required lifestyle changes. This approach means that patients don’t become dependent on a herbalist or their medicines. It also means that the herbs are at less risk of being over exploited. When I say ‘over exploited’, I’m thinking about when people take a scarce herb daily to prop up an unsustainable lifestyle. If someone is taking a scarce herb like Slippery Elm or Goldenseal every day because it allows them to continue to live a lifestyle which basically makes them ill, this exploits their body as well as the ecology of our planet. A small change in lifestyle or diet could make all the difference to their health and it could reduce their need to contribute to over harvesting of scarce or protected species.

Your second book: ‘A Working Herbal Dispensary – Respecting Herbs as Individuals’ is due out in May. It’s about the virtues of herbs themselves and you talk about getting people to know herbs as individuals rather than lists of 'what they do'.

Clearly you have a strong relationship with each of the herbs you gather and prescribe. How do you build and deepen the relationship you have with the plants you work with?

I think it’s inevitable that, when we grow, gather and process our own herbal medicines, we can’t help but to build a deep connection with them. It’s not even a conscious thing, it just happens as though the herb has seeped into our very being. For example, if you’ve spent many hours picking Calendula flowers in the right weather conditions, carefully laying them onto drying trays, tending them to make sure that they’re dried properly and then storing them in a way that ensures their medicinal constituents are preserved, you inevitably really care about them making a difference and not being wasted.

Also, when we work with herbs regularly, we’re constantly blown away by how amazingly positive their influence can be. These plant beings really change people’s lives. Once we start to see that, we have to respect them as beings in their own right, as opposed to objects which can be ‘used’ to treat certain health conditions.

I do sometimes sit with my herbs and I keep a contemplative herbal journal. I do feel that this deepens my relationship with them and it often brings new insights but honestly the majority of my herbal relationship building activities are just through working with herbs day in and day out. We’ve formed quite a team over the years. 

What is your favourite plant or herbal combination and why?

I don’t have favourites as I love all of my herbs but I will tell you about one wonderful combination that I prescribe quite often. That is Rose and Hawthorn. These are both members of the Rose family and share a calming and uplifting quality which can be very helpful for patients who are in the process of working through a bereavement or digesting a past trauma. In these cases, the pressure to try and put on a brave face or to carry on with normal life responsibilities can lead to the grief or trauma being held in their bodies rather than being processed gradually. Sometimes this situation of holding grief can last for many years and people may be unaware of how much is still ‘stuck’.

Rose petals have a longstanding association with gladdening the heart as well as gently supporting the liver. Hawthorn is well known as a herb which helps to support the physical heart but in doing so it also helps the heart area to release emotional trauma and grief. When prescribing this combination, I choose Rose petals and Hawthorn blossom either as a tea or in capsule form. It’s quite extraordinary to see how they gently support people in navigating this difficult and challenging emotional terrain. The change is gradual and steady, it doesn’t suppress our feelings but it I holds our hands while we face them. I’ve lost count of the times that, after taking a course of this pair of herbs, patients have told me “I’d forgotten what it was like to feel spontaneously happy and now I sing to myself whilst I’m walking the dog or working in the garden.”

For the people out there who feel empowered to start their own herbal first aid cabinet at home what is your advice? Where can they start?

Ooooh this is a great question! There’s so much scope to make herbs a central part of a home first aid cabinet. I would suggest that the best thing to do is to be curious about the herbs which grow in your area and find out which virtues they have. There are plenty of resources online and lots of herbal books to choose from.

For example, if you have Plantain leaves (Plantago lanceolata or Plantago major) growing in your garden, you have a fabulous first aid plant right there. It’s perfect for insect bites and stings, blisters, burns and cuts. It can be applied as a poultice or you can make it into an ointment or salve. You can also drink it as a tea to help soothe inflammation in the gut, urinary tract or to help calm an irritated cough.

To start with the herbs that are growing in your area means that you can properly get to know them, see them growing and observe them at different growth stages. You can easily research their properties and see how they can fit into your home first aid cabinet. It’s about understanding their many virtues not just categorising them as ‘this herb is used for that situation’.

As well as being curious about the herbs growing in your locality, I would also suggest learning about the medicinal virtues of common kitchen spices. These are a great resource as they are readily available and a handy first aid option if you are away from your home apothecary. So, Caraway seed is a great option to calm diarrhoea and to relieve griping. Garlic is a powerful natural antibiotic and Nutmeg can be helpful to encourage better sleep.

I’m so passionate about encouraging people to build up their own home herbal apothecary that I’ve included lots of ‘recipes for the home apothecary’ in my new book. 

What are your favourite books on herbalism?

I absolutely love Matthew Wood’s “The Book of Herbal Wisdom”. I think I’ve read it from cover to cover more than a dozen times and every time I read it, I learn something new. Writing this answer has made me want to pick it up again!

I also love the old herbals and I often refer to Culpeper for example. There are loads of wonderful more modern herbal books too. I have far too many of them. If you’re confused as to which book to choose I recommend having a look at the Aeon Books catalogue for inspiration as they have a great selection and good descriptions to help you decide. 

You have a training in forestry and agriculture. How has this knowledge helped you as a herbalist?

It does seem an odd career move to go from large scale plant production to being a small scale herbal practitioner but looking back on it I can see how much my agricultural and forestry training has influenced me and helped me as a herbalist. I feel very fortunate in that I’ve been taught about soils and ecosystems so I find it easy to ‘read’ the landscape and predict where certain medicinal plants are likely to be found. I was also taught about hay making. The knowledge I gained from understanding how to dry and produce good quality hay, really influenced my understanding about how best to dry herbs. I realised early on that many of the commercially available dried herbs are not well dried and have lost much of their potency. I understood what had contributed to these problems and I was confident that I could produce vibrant well dried and potent herbs. I got my first dehydrator and started the process of learning how best to achieve that. Producing good quality vibrant herbs was one of the main drivers of me starting to be more self-sufficient in the herbs that I prescribed.

Before you go.

How important do you feel  it is for us to reconnect to our herbal heritage on a global level?


I think that this is incredibly important. Three quarters of people in the world rely on herbal medicine for their primary health care. For herbs to support these people in perpetuity we need to safeguard both traditional herbal knowledge and the habitats that support plants being gathered for medicine. Even in so called ‘developed countries’ there’s a great need to be more sustainable in our health choices. A culture of preventive medicine and home herbal apothecaries will help to keep people healthier and will take some pressure off our healthcare systems. Imagine if more families were able to turn to herbal medicine for some of the common health conditions that crop up. This would reduce pressure on GP’s and lessen the cost and environmental impact associated with our over reliance on allopathic medicines.

I want to make it clear that I’m not suggesting that we should completely replace the allopathic healthcare model though. Not at all! I’m very glad to live in a country where we have access to amazing high tech healthcare when we need it. Wouldn’t it be lovely though if more people felt empowered and able to stay healthier through their daily lifestyle and dietary choices and by knowing which herbs to take when they need support? Connecting with our herbal heritage could help us to keep episodes of ill health as just temporary ‘blips’ rather than them evolving into more serious and debilitating chronic diseases.

Herbal medicine is natural medicine and traditional medicine. When we connect with it and take care of it we are taking care of our precious planet.


Thank you.

You can find Lucy at

Ayurvedic Natural Dye Bath Recipe

Ayurvedic Natural Dye Bath Recipe

We believe the smallest of changes can have a positive ripple effect. By infusing our organic textiles with medicinal properties our plant based products can have a naturally good effect on your skin. 

Bedstraw + Madder's Co founder Vanessa Barker, recently visited herbal wear founder Sunil Rathod in Andhra Pradesh (India) to learn some new tricks with Ayurvedic natural dyeing. 

​The results are a sappan wood and madder pink, limited edition version of our new GMD knicker that starts our basket range of limited edition and one-off pieces using natural dyes.

Each item celebrating the power of plant power and craftsmanship. Each piece a unique work of art.  ​Providing you with a completly chemical free experience. Clothing that has a positive effect on the environment and actively revives it. And natural plant pigments that support your body too!

In addition to the pink dye bath Sunil shared a yellow Ayurvedic recipe using ancient wisdom and only natural non toxic ingredients such as Tacoma Flowers and Turmeric.


Try experimenting yourself at home on a pair of our undyed GMD knickers.

Ayurvedic Natural Dye Recipe


250gms of soap nuts

Ash water

Undyed GMD knickers

3 handfuls of each Tacoma flowers,  Kadukai, maribilium, 3 types of turmeric, Tolsi,

1 cup each of Thick leaf lavender and aloe Vera


250 gms of soap nuts added to 5 litres of boiling water. After 30 minutes ash water is added, with no use of alum mordant to fix colour to fabrics. 

Pure ash is created from burning any biomass and mixing with water. 

To make wood ash water, remove the wood ash from a wood-burning stove, put it in a bucket or large lidded container and fill up with water. Leave the mixture to soak for a minimum of 1 week. By this time the liquid will have become yellow in colour and feel "slick" or slimy to the touch. To use it as an alkaline modifier, remove the liquid without disturbing the ash sediment and soak the materials in it, adding more water as necessary. It is best not to apply heat as this can harm woollen fibres. We filled up a small mason jar 1/3 full with wood ash then filled the jar 2/3 full with water, closed the jar and shook everything up.

Our undyed natural organic cotton, unbleached knickers are then washed with the hot soap nuts solution. This is known as scouring and allows the colour to be absorbed.

Add ingredients Tacoma flowers,  Kadukai, maribilium, 3 types of turmeric, Tolsi, Thick leaf lavender and aloe Vera to boiling hot water to create the herbal soup and cook on a stove or open fire for a further 45 minutes, then strain to leave the remaining  milky mud coloured residue. 

Add our Classic GMD ecru to the brew and continue to heat at temp of about 60 degrees to embue with yellow tones.

You can use string or elastic tied around the knickers in a small bundle to create your own unique patterns.


Artist Series II with Sarah Poland
February 13, 2023

Artist Series II with Sarah Poland

For the second of our artist series, we are very happy to be talking to Scottish artist (who lives in Wales), Sarah Poland.

Sarah draws upon natural elements and materials, meditation and transformation for her work. She has always been particularly drawn to Northern and landscapes on the edge, always seeking to live within these spaces. The presence of landscape and being in it is a source of her work and her recent paintings. We asked Sarah to exchange her canvas for our knickers. We are looking forward to sharing her results.

Sarah we were delighted you took up the challenge of making a pair of our GMD knickers uniquely your own.  Is that the first time you have dyed your clothing?

It isn't, as a 20 something I would transform and dye my clothes using Dylon machine dyes. But during the first pandemic lockdown  I started exploring natural dyes. I'm a painter but I have a degree in fashion design and a Masters in fine art, my solo exhibition this year will include a natural dyed and painted mini collection.

Tell us about the process,  what you did with them and how you feel about the result?

It's exciting to be asked to collaborate on this project. Since 2021 I have been developing a dye bed in my garden. I harvested coreopsis flowers most days all summer and dried them to be used when I was ready. I haven't used coreopsis before so it was exciting to discover a new colour. For my art work, I usually make a big dye bath in an old cast iron bath with a fire underneath and dye about 6 metres of canvas. The knickers went in a large stainless steel pan with some smaller pieces of fabric and hundreds of dried coreopsis flowers.

Once dyed and dried  I painted on two different modifiers. Bicarbonate of soda and separately iron. Where there is just bicarb, the colour will gradually fade with washing but where it meets the iron it will last longer. So for now, there are 4 colours and it will evolve to 3. It’s pretty cool considering I only used one dye colour.

You live in a special place, in a nomadic studio within an ancient oak woodland. It sounds very romantic. How did you find it and why is its position so crucial for inspiring your work?

Ah yes, the Nomadic Studio. I'm no longer in it, I out grew it with my family and needed somewhere larger again to work in too. It has become our spare room for now.

It started when I lived in West Cornwall. I was there for 10 years and before leaving, I let go of my large studio and bought an old removals lorry. With some help, I converted it into a live-in space with a 2m sq studio space in the back half. I wanted to travel and to be able to work. I had p.v. panels, a wood burner, full size kitchen sink, lights, a cold tap, a camping cooker, oven and a laptop. Completely off-grid but not digital free, the laptop was essential for keeping in touch with galleries and friends, cataloguing work and research. I also had a cat-flap - my travel companions were my cat and dog, they would argue over the front 2 passenger seats when we travelled! I also borrowed a mini etching press, clamped it to the studio table and made a series of drypoint etchings. It was amazing, I had a large skylight over the studio and could open the barn doors at the back which revealed a 2m sq window to shield me from the weather which could also be opened. Like you say, it was romantic, but I'd say it was equally tough.

My first journey was back up to the Scottish Highlands where I'm from. Heading South, I then landed in an 80 acre ancient oak woodland in West Wales where my then boyfriend, now husband, had gone to teach himself timber-framing. His friends' Dad owned it. This stop-off was really crucial to where my practice is now and we ended up staying for 5 years. So there was a timber framer and a blacksmith who were literally using the woodland for their materials and I realised that I also wanted to do this. I wanted to make work 'of the woodland' and not just about it or depicting it. One day, the owners' son casually mentioned that ink could be made using oak galls and that was it, I was all over the internet looking up the history and recipes for making the ink. It is nick-named 'ink of kings, poets and monks'. It doesn't get more romantic that that really! This was in 2011, I've been exploring and pushing the limits of oak gall ink since - a veritable chemistry lab in my studio.

Can you tell us about oak gall ink, why you love it and how we can make it?

Oak gall ink in indelible, it doesn't fade like most other plant colours and it can't be washed off like most other inks. The black is so rich and velvety. There are many colours which last a reasonable length of time but oak gall ink holds a special quality.

Oak galls or oak apples, are created by the oak tree in a genetic reaction to protect itself from the gall wasp which lays it's eggs on a twig or a leaf. The tree surrounds the egg with a marble-sized apple-coloured ball. It starts hard and green and ripens to a blush red and yellow. Once ripe, the larva eats it's way out leaving a little hole and flies off - you can tell if the larva has flown because of the hole. These 'apples' then harden and dry to a brown colour which can be smashed into a powder to use.

From the outside it's a pretty basic chemistry. The galls are very high in tannic and gallo tannic acids, tannins basically, like in red wine. When you mix tannins with iron salts and water it created an ink. If you've ever left an axe in an oak chopping log for example, after some rain and oxidation (air) there will be a black mark around it, that is the ink. The oak galls contain even more tannins than the wood.

I love the whole process, the collecting, the chemistry, creating my own materials, the non-toxic qualities of it and it's history is pretty interesting too, for example, the Magna Carta was written using it as well as surviving manuscripts from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Leonardo da Vinci even used it! You can buy the stuff but it's very expensive, those little galls are hard won. If you'd like to make your own there are many free recipes on the internet. You can start by searching out those oak galls and some rusty nails.

Do you work with other natural colour/mediums? If so, what is your favourite and how do you use it?

In 2020 I started to broaden my palette by foraging locally for botanical colour and using kitchen scraps such as onion skins. In 2021 I created a dye bed and started growing colour that I couldn't forage for easily. For obvious reasons, I like to use the more permanent colours in my art works - there are so many colours out there but some can fade very quickly. It was then that I started not to just use ink but to dye the canvas first. Dyeing large lengths of canvas then naturally led to making clothes again.

I do like using native plants and stories always deepen our connection to the colours. For example, woad blue and weld yellow was used in Robin Hoods time to make Lincoln green. It's nice to see colours in their own environment. I've got a thing about pink and yellow together - there are so many yellows, I like weld and gorse, and madder root makes pink. You'll see this in my exhibition and collection.

I love this description from your website,my recent paintings are also about breathing, about what we yearn for and the space in our head created when being caught off guard by something and it takes us away from our physical reality for a moment”. I get the sense you have to spiritually prepare yourself before starting a piece of work. Can you tell us how you do this and what your rituals are?

Well, I think that there really isn't a difference between art and life. Everything I do feeds into my art and if it doesn't, I don't tend to prioritise it. Having said that, my influences are varied and range from, walking, dance and circus, literature, wild swimming, surfing, writing, music, the list goes on.

Since having children my studio has become a quiet still place and I started a meditation practice in May 2021 which has really fed into my work. I have in many ways turned my painting practice on it's head and have committed to a new way of working. It is slower, whiter, calmer, has more space and uses natural materials. It all sounds a bit dreamy but I still work incredibly intensively and have a ritual of taking a good strong coffee into the studio with me.

My current routine involves meditating for up to 2 hours most mornings, I alternate the school drop off with my husband and then enter the space. I like the idea that coffee connects me to other creatives and intellectuals, a kind of tuning in. I have been inspired by coffee culture, particularly of the Beat Generation and also in Europe.

I have a night ritual too. In phases, on a full moon, I take my camera and go for a night walk, photographing the moon and making drawings. 

I like to work on a body of work as a whole and work on many pieces at once, solo exhibitions are my favourite because it is an opportunity to show a whole project. Once I'm working on this I don't look at other peoples work as it can be a distraction. I often start by making lots of work on paper all the same size and I write. By the time I've finished, I have all of the titles ready and just have to allocate them to the right pieces. There is a kind of holistic quality to the process.

You can find Sarah @sarahpolandstudio and

Sarah's solo exhibition Silence - The Messenger and The Metaphor  at  Elysium Gallery, Swansea opens on 20th May 2023. The exhibition continues until 1st July.

Thank you Sarah for being part of this project.



Interview with Zoe Founder of Regenerative Brand Wunder Workshop
January 31, 2023

Interview with Zoe Founder of Regenerative Brand Wunder Workshop

Interview with Zoe from Wunder Workshop

Today I am excited to talk to friend and colleague Zoe LVH who with her boyfriend Tom set up Wunder workshop in 2014 creating products for people and planet inspired by intuitive herbalism and Ayurveda.

Their focus is on Consumption with Purpose®- by harvesting the power of regeneratively grown plants for ultimate wellness rituals. 

Wunder translates to miracle, and they focus on plants that have a quality that can be classed as such. 

Zoe, Wunder workshop has very strong core values which translate from the people you work with, to product and all the way to packaging. Tell us about these and how they lead your decisions when it come sourcing for your business?

For me it is essential to know and connect, as much as possible, to the origin of all the things we consume in any way or form. Especially as a business owner I think this is our duty, as I believe we cannot sell health or wellbeing products without putting the health of the planet and the farmers in the forefront.

I try to do this by sourcing from regenerative farms and small community farms to support a way of life that is beyond sustainability - by regenerating depleted soils and support the upkeep or creation of biodiverse food forests. These concepts are part of indigenous knowledge and not new inventions. We think it is important to celebrate the wisdom keepers of nature and see it as a reminder that we are one with nature.

Hence why it’s essential for us to consider every element of the value chain, from soil, ingredients, packaging, to the consumer.

As pioneers of regenerative clothing, we love finding products using regenerative ingredients. Organic Turmeric was one of your first products was it not. Can you tell us about this ingredient, why you chose it and why yours is so special?

I fell in love with turmeric as a child when my late-mother would use it in cooking and make delicious golden porridge. Those memories of a cosy warm porridge with it’s bright yellow colour are still one of the reasons I think why I adore yellow and the warmth it radiates.

Later, during my late teens we would visit very down-to-earth ayurvedic retreats in Sri Lanka to learn more about Ayurveda and their incredible holistic approach to health. Because I always have a very bad reaction to mosquito bites, the ayurvedic doctor would create a golden bath/paste to sooth the inflammation and itchiness (and leave me pretty yellow for a few days!) but I was again amazed by its beautiful properties and how healing this plant can be. That’s when I decided in my twenties to learn more about turmeric farming, and I went back to Sri Lanka to visit families who grow turmeric. This is when the idea for Wunder Workshop blossomed, and that’s when I decided to work with this incredible spice after seeing how it was grown in the most biodiverse setting, surrounded by ginger, black pepper, jackfruit, vanilla and many more beautiful plants. This to me was the most beautiful way of “farming”. Since then, for nearly 10 years, we have been sourcing from the same community farms in Sri Lanka, and it’s still the most radiant and powerful turmeric I have come across.


You talk  about forest garden certification on your website. Can you tell us a little about what this is and perhaps how it compares to other certification bodies like soil association or ROC?

It’s based on a traditional Sri Lankan way of farming, it creates and maintains small food-forests by planting trees and crops together that each play a specific role whether that is creating shade for the smaller plants, repelling pests, and or trading nutrients through their roots. This creates a very natural biodiverse setting, that feeds the microworld and the macroworld. The micro world being the world inside the soil, the fungi and bacteria that nurture the roots and the plants, plus attracting all the beautiful insects that pollinate more plants. It’s different to organic certificates (which we also have), as Forest Gardens focus not only on whether pesticides have been added to the farming process, but it looks at a more holistic angle at the health and the biodiversity of the farm. Organic farming is great, and should be the very foundation of all farming, but it really needs to go beyond that as organic farms are often still mono-cultural farms which don’t put soil health or biodiversity at the forefront.

You have a lot of beautiful products clearly made with a strong set of intentions.

What is the process you go through when developing a new product? Are they all developed by you?

Thank you! Yes, we really approach product development from two angels, one being the more personal experience and secondly the ingredient and farm itself. For example, Golden Shrooms was a product that I created during my time at university, when I loved going out dancing at night but didn’t want to take drugs, so I would take medicinal mushrooms such as cordyceps instead, which are great for stamina and endurance.

But for most of our products we start at the other side of the process, we usually start from the farm or ingredient. It’s the farmers and nature that inspire us to work with them and then we think of the best way of presenting these ingredients and the packaging, which is just another ingredient, before we establish what product we will create with it. The health of the soil is our priority and from there all things bloom.

 Is circularity of your products very important for you? Tell us about your packaging choices?

I have spent so many days, or years studying the ins and outs of the packaging world. It’s constantly innovating but I try to create products that can be packaged the best possible way in the time we are in. Often there are great new ideas for packaging such as for example biodegradable items, but they are only commercially biodegradable (and our current waste management system isn’t set up for that yet). So, circularity and renewable materials are the best option for now, hence why I focus on a combination of having home- compostable materials, reusable jars and metal or paper lids. Pipettes are my biggest frustration for which I still haven’t found a solution, as there isn’t an environmentally friendly solution out there (to my knowledge) but we ask our customers to keep their pipettes and reorder our CBD oil without it. And it’s so rewarding to see how many people reorder their CBD oil without the pipette!

Winter can feel hard on our bodies and mental health. Can you give us some advice as to which of your products might be useful to support us at this time of year and likewise some of your favourite ingredients we should incorporate into our diets if we can?

Absolutely, I struggle with the grey sky sometimes, and I find great comfort in taking my Bear Hug tincture, which helps me feel less gloomy. One of its ingredients is mustard flower essence which is known on an energetic level for bringing more contentment and peace into ones lives.

I also integrate Chaga mushroom into my routine during the winter, as it’s one of nature’s most powerful immunomodulators. 

Do you have a favourite daily ritual that has been an anchor and support to you and might just help us all sail through 2023?

Most mornings I hold a small tea ceremony with myself. I gifted myself a beautiful tea set last year, and I sit in stillness for 20minutes to fully immerse myself in the process of pouring the tea, absorbing the aroma and then drinking it slowly. I do about 3 rounds of this with the same batch of tea leaves, and it really helps me to be fully present. I sometimes struggle with meditation so I have found tea ceremony my ideal way of coming to inner stillness. You can use any loose leaf tea, I sometimes use a Japanese green tea and on days where I don’t want any caffeine I use our Goddess Tea.


Thank you, Zoe.


Discover all Zoe and Tom’s wonderful products at


Warming Mushroom Tonic Recipe:

½ tsp Ceylon cinnamon powder
1 tsp Superior Chaga powder
1 heaped tsp raw cacao powder
1 heaped tsp coconut oil
220 ml hot water
1 tsp Turmeric Honey or 2 small dates (make sure when using honey that the water isn’t boiling as that destroys honey’s properties).
Blend until frothy (be careful when blending hot liquids, I use a Vitamix and always allow some air to escape at the top).
Meet the Artist Series - Series I - Rebecca Desnos
January 02, 2023

Meet the Artist Series - Series I - Rebecca Desnos

 For our meet the artist series we engaged 5 talented natural dyers/natural colour artists to naturally dye a pair of our unbleached organic cotton underwear for a unique pair of undies! Whilst inspiring us along the way.

Meet Rebecca Desnos. I am sure many of you have come across her on Instagram with her engaging and beautiful content.

Creating a business from a passion for natural dyeing at home is a dream for a lot of us. Rebecca has made it a reality.

Now an experienced natural dyer, writer, published author, mother and plant lover she is at heart a maker and a story teller.

We want to hear how she got on with her challenge and find out a little more about Rebecca and what makes her tick!

Rebecca thank you for taking on the knicker challenge and letting us learn more about you and your passion for natural dyes.

First of all, as our first artist we gave this challenge to. How did you find dyeing our knickers, what do you think of them?

I really love them! The fabric and shape of the knickers are beautiful. It’s lovely to have unbleached fabric rather than stark white.  

…. and tell us most importantly what you did you do with them?! 

I hammered sage leaves over them to make a pair of herbal knickers! I felt like making a pattern, and sage leaves print so nicely onto fabric. I pretreated the knickers in soya milk which is a method that I’ve continued to use and love for many years. Then I hammered sage leaves onto the fabric one by one. The leaf goes onto one layer of fabric (make sure the fabric is spread out so there isn’t another layer of fabric behind), then lay spare fabric on top of the leaf. Hammer carefully and methodically so you can see the print of the leaf come through to the surface. Then peel off the leaf. Keep going until you’ve finished the design and allow to dry. Then you can iron to heat-set the dye, or dip into a pot of boiling water, then dry, and iron.

Your work is beautiful. Can you tell us a little about your background? Did you have any creative, artistic experience prior to delving into natural dyes?

I’ve spent my entire life making things with my hands and learning new skills. I spent my childhood and teenage years making a lot of greetings cards and weaving with paper. Then in my 20s I enjoyed collecting men’s shirts from charity shops and turning them into skirts and dresses to wear. I had a very old blog where I shared my step-by-step instructions and people all over the world were making them and following my guides. It was so much fun!! And I loved wearing these simple skirts and dresses so much. They were stitched entirely by hand. A few years later I took some pattern cutting classes to learn the ‘proper’ way of doing things, but I still love doing things intuitively and learning as I go.

How did this journey start for you?

I studied Linguistics at university which was fascinating, but I was always a bit frustrated that I wasn’t doing something more creative… Whilst I was working as a PA in London, I discovered an interior & spatial design course at Chelsea College of Art & Design for graduates who had previously studied different subjects.  I was accepted onto this Graduate Diploma course and it felt like a stepping stone into a more creative life. I loved the course and went on to do a Masters in interior & spatial design. Then I got a job the following year as a junior designer, but realised it wasn’t what I wanted to do at all. I didn’t enjoy sitting in an office all day and found it so draining and miserable. I didn’t enjoy the commute into London at all. Around the same time, I was dabbling in natural dyes for the first time and continued to write my blog.

The following year I had a baby and stopped working in London. When I was at home with my baby, I used the nap times each day to make things. My first baby would have really long naps (as he didn’t sleep that well at night) so suddenly I found myself with a big chunk of time each day. This is pretty much how I’ve continued for 9 years now: I do a little bit of creative work every day, squeezing it into the week however I can. Over time, these little chunks of time really add up and I can complete larger projects. The fact that I have such little time makes me extremely focused. I have detailed lists of what I want to do and always have my next task lined up ready. I love crossing things off my lists and then being able to move onto my next project!

 Congratulations on all your publications. Our readers might be most familiar with your first book Botanical Colour at your fingertips which was first an e book then published in paperback. Tell us about the self-publishing process? Would you recommend it? If anyone at home wanted to go down this route, have you got any tips?

Thanks! My first eBook was a “nap time” project and I think it took around 3-4 months to complete.  My DMs on Instagram were always flooded with questions about how I dye with plants, so it felt natural to put it all into an eBook. The eBook was so popular and I was inundated with requests to print it. I’d never considered it before this! So I looked into how I could turn it into a paperback and had 100 copies printed. They sold during the first week, which was quite a surprise. For a couple of years, I continued ordering them in batches and sending orders to customers. Then eventually I switched to print-on-demand where a customer can order a book on Amazon or Book Depository and the orders are printed and shipped for me. This is the only sustainable way to continue self publishing with children and a busy home life. The other option is to work with a printers and find a fulfilment company, which I did for about a year, but ran into some complications. However, I do plan to look into this again, with a new fulilment company. There are so many pros and cons of each method, so I think it’s just a question of choosing something that works for you. Then keep reassessing things and adapt over time.

There is a rising trend for natural dyeing. How is your style of natural dyeing different to some of the dyers you have come across in the industry?

My focus has always been to create “healthy” fabric.

About 10 years ago, I read the book called Killer Clothes. I learnt how seemingly innocent materials can endanger our health. It connected a lot of dots and was a big wake-up moment.

My take-away point was that I wanted to make my own healthy clothing and fabric. Plant dyes seemed like the perfect choice and I'd been meaning to experiment with them for years. I began with packets of plant dye extracts (madder and indigo) and learnt how to dye in the conventional way by following books.

My focus has always been on creating healthy fabric, and this is why I gradually moved away from using the metallic mordants that are typically used in natural dyeing. I still use alum from time to time, especially with bundle dyeing to get clearer prints, but I much prefer using soya milk as a binder, as it’s a food grade ingredient. This is just my priority as someone who is very health conscious, and also someone who has young children in the kitchen all the time.

Along the way, I fell in love with the rainbow of colours that nature offers us. After the birth of my first baby I started foraging for my own dye plants. We'd return from walks with our pockets stuffed full of alder cones and acorns, and after storms we'd bring back branches of eucalyptus balanced across the hood of the pram. Together, we’d pick dandelions, learn how to identify different tree leaves, and then I’d make the dyes during nap times. Every day I started a new little project, and it gave me something positive to do during those first few sleep-deprived years of motherhood.

What do you love most about the process?

I enjoy working with seasonable plants and exploring my local colour palette. It’s a perfect reason to get outside and explore new places. Natural dyeing has also encouraged me to grow a wider range of plants. It overlaps with so many other hobbies and interests.

What is your favourite natural dye to work with and why?

This changes all the time. I always say that my favourite plant is the last one I dyed with. At the moment I’m still in love with the yellow African marigolds (Tagetes erecta) that I grew last summer. They make the most beautiful green colour on fabric. I can’t wait to grow more next year!


What is coming next?

I’m working on an avocado dye video workshop that I hope to finish off fairly soon. It’s been a bit of a learning curve for me as it’s the first time I’ve worked with long-format video. The file sizes are so big!

Also I have two eBooks in the works that will also be released in paperback, in due course. I just need a few more months to finish them off. They are lovely projects to work on in the evenings when I get a little bit of time to myself! I can’t wait to share the ideas with others. It’s always amazing to see people try out my projects with their own local plants!

On a personal level, I intend to learn more about herbs and herbalism over the next year. I’ve enrolled in an online course to learn how to make really potent oil infusions. I’m going to dip my toes into this next week and make my first oil. I’ve been growing and drying calendula flowers and will use these! There are some similarities with plant dyeing, as we’re essentially infusing plants into a liquid! Also, some of the same herbs can be used in herbalism and natural dyeing. If we go back to the herbal knickers, sage is one of these plants! There’s a lifetime of plants to explore.

Thank you!


You can find Rebecca and follow her work on Instagram @rebeccadesnos or via her website

The Hidden Power of Plant Dyes in our GMD

The Hidden Power of Plant Dyes in our GMD

 At Bedstraw + Madder we have a continual love affair with plants and flowers.

Within their often-delicate petals or leaves plants contain hidden powers. The bright coloured pigments are actually made of anthocyanins which have healing antioxidant qualities.

Colour also has a secondary effect which often goes unnoticed but which studies show is very impactful.

Colour therapy is based on the idea that colours create an electrical impulse in our brain, which stimulates hormonal and biochemical processes in our body. These processes either stimulate or calm us.

Colour influences our energy system by its vibrations, affecting both our physical and emotional well-being.

By using the right colours, we can change our negative aspects into positive ones, be healthier, and acquire a higher level of consciousness and connectedness to our body and nature.

Whilst we can change the colours in our interiors with a lick of paint actually the easiest way to change the colours around you is through your clothing.

Our underwear is brightly coloured with natural plant dyes. As the first point of contact to your most intimate areas on a daily basis, sitting against your skin it enables you to absorb the healing qualities of the natural plant dyes we use.

How our new GMD range of underwear may be of benefit?

Tacoma Yellow

These sunshine yellow knickers are dyed with Tacoma flowers.

The plant possesses powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial activity due to its content of natural chemicals called flavonoids.

Yellow is associated with the solar plexus chakra which is linked with liver, pancreas, digestive system, gallbladder, empowerment and well-being. The chakra is located between the navel and sternum. Yellow is related to the ego and our sense of self-worth, to how we feel about ourselves and how we are perceived by others.

Madder Pink

Our pink knickers are dyed with madder root, a dye that has been used for 2,000 years.

Madder has been used in Traditional Chinese medicine for cold deficiency of spleen and stomach. A powerful anti-inflammatory agent it helps with arthritis, joint pain. Studies show it can raise white blood cell counts in chronic dis-ease. It acts as a good expectorant and is a great skin healer for acne.

Embodying nurturing, unconditional love pink calms and reassures our emotional energies, alleviating feelings of anger, aggression, resentment, abandonment and neglect. Studies have confirmed that exposure to large amounts of pink can have a calming effect on the nerves and create physical weakness in people.

Marigold Orange

Marigold otherwise known as calendula are used to create our orange knickers.

These flowers promote healing. Due to its antiseptic and anti-inflammatory activity, it helps heal the skin from minor burns and injuries and regenerates new skin cells. It reduces Inflammation and is a great support in chronic skin disease.

The colour orange relates to 'gut reaction' or our gut instincts and stimulates the appetite. It represents endurance, strength, vitality, celebration, self-respect, abundance, joy, openness to others and enthusiasm for life. It supports our creativity. 

Vembalum Purple

Our violet underwear is dyed with the bark of the vembalum tree. 

The bark is used for skin diseases as it has anti-allergic properties. Vembalum is also known for its use in the healing of cuts and wounds.

Violet links to the crown chakra and is associated with the brain and pineal gland. It is linked with our higher consciousness and can have a calming effect.

Bring some colour to your life in more ways than one.

Start with one pair of knickers at a time.

Love + Knickers 

Prim and Ness



Interview with Hedgerow Couture

Interview with Hedgerow Couture


the design and manufacture of fashionable clothes to a client's specific requirements and measurements. A word associated with celebrities and red carpets and one we are familiar with in the world of fashion. Hear the word hedgerow and you might be forgiven of thinking of jam.

Well Allan Brown wouldn’t agree. With a passion for the most ethical and sustainable textiles he has made it his mission to explore some of our lost traditions, reviving the cultivation of local plants to make into fibres, fabric and from there to authentically circular clothing.

Allan  how did your incredible hedgerow couture journey start?

Hedgerow Couture was just an Instagram name I came up with - a sort of joke – but in a way does capture what I’m about...although I do admit that I’m more Hedgerow than I am couture. It's aspirational – I’m fascinated by clothes and simple ways of clothing oneself, but I seem to spend more time at the other end of the process, with the plants and fibres from which clothes are made.

My textile journey started with playing with nettles and wondering whether it was possible to make clothing out of nettle fibre. In order to answer my wondering, I had to set about doing it myself and on the way learned how to spin and weave.

You work with flax, hemp and nettle. Can you tell us which is your favourite to work with and if one is any easier to convert to fabric than another?

Flax, nettle and hemp are the most wonderful plants, each giving us and numerous other creatures food, fibre and medicine. I’ve mainly worked with nettles and flax, but have spun a lot of hemp and am in collaboration with others to grow it here in East Sussex. They each have their own characteristics and niches they inhabit, but once processed and spun its often difficult to tell them apart.

I really do love the bast fibres and think having all three growing on any given piece of land is the way forward. However, nettle holds a special place in my heart because its what I’ve worked with most. It’s a foraged fibre which makes it unique, it really is the fibre of the landless. With just the simplest of tools one can make an almost immediate start on creating your own yarn and building a direct relationship with your environment and your clothes.

Is it important to return to the use of natural fibres for clothing? If so why?

Yes, I believe it is essential we do so. Textiles and food growing/ farming were traditionally inextricably intertwined. Your clothes and your food would be grown from the land you worked. Oil and coal have afforded us the energy and materials to create a glut of cheap, often plastic clothes, but this is not a sustainable model and the environmental impacts of our reliance on them are wreaking havoc with our ecosystems. Ultimately we will have no choice but return to growing and raising our sources of fibre from the land we live on, in an ecological and regenerative manner. We’re going to have to make much less go a lot further.

Along with growing our fibres, we will need to re-familiarise ourselves with the skills of our ancestors in order to create textiles from them – by hand, with the simplest of equipment. I think, that in the coming years, we will be spending a greater portion of our time gardening, growing our food and fibres and crafting our own clothes . 

What is the most challenging thing about working with natural fibres?

As with food growing, both the challenge and the reward of working with natural fibres is nature itself. When working with plants fibres almost every stage, from sowing, growing, harvesting, retting and drying, are weather dependent and you’re trying to time activities to benefit from the changing conditions.
The spinning, dyeing, weaving of the fibres once processed is wonderful. Each step is a celebration of all that you’ve managed to grow and gather. The feeling of creating clothes from your own immediate environment is so enriching and rewarding.  

Since lockdown there has been a huge increase in our desires to spend time outside and be more self-sufficient. We think of growing our own food but if someone reading this wants to start growing their own fabrics is it realistic? What advice would you give?

I can’t help but feel that we have a deep yearning for the land, for being embedded in it and sustained by it. Growing – at least some – of our own food and fibre is a deeply rewarding thing to do. Working an allotment or getting involved in community growing spaces is definitely the place to start. Even if you have a garden I’d still recommend trying to do this with other people as you’ll great fun!

As far as fibres go flax is the obvious choice – we have a long tradition of growing it and as well as being a beautiful plant, it will provide you with an amazing fibre. It’s easy to grow and even a modest bed will provide you with enough fibre to keep you busy until the next season’s crop is ready for harvesting. You’ll also soon want to start a little dye garden so you can colour your yarns and cloth.

If you have no garden or land to grow things, begin by foraging nettles or seeing if you can pick up any fleeces from local sheep. Try and hook up with local spinning groups or set up your own. I bet there are spinners and knitters on every allotment site in the country!

Can you tell us what you have growing in your allotment?

A group of us share several allotments that are worked collectively, but we each manage our own areas.

On the food side of things I grow all the usual things, potatoes, leeks, kale, squashes, onions, beans, carrots, beetroot etc.

On the fibre front I grow flax. When the law eventually changes I’d grow hemp too. I also usually process a few sheep fleeces every year, so the waste of that is used as mulch. I also have a dye garden up the allotment and grow madder, woad, weld, coreopsis, French marigold and anything else I can squeeze in. I’m pretty self sufficient in fibre and dye plants, with plenty of room to still grow food.

There was a special screening at the recent Natural Fibres Festival in London of the film – The Nettle Dress. Tell us about your involvement in this project and what the film is about?

The film, The Nettle Dres,s was put together by my good friend Dylan Howitt, an awesome and sensitive film maker. Years ago we shot a short film called ‘Nettle For Textiles’, which went viral and ended up pulling together a large community of nettle lovers from across the world and inspired the facebook group by the same name.

I suggested to Dylan that perhaps he should shoot some footage of my attempt to try and make a dress from local, foraged nettle, as I wasn’t sure if it was something that had ever been captured on film and when it may be attempted again.

We had little idea that it would take years but nevertheless Dylan continued to shoot bits and pieces as the project progressed. I wasn’t even sure if it was possible, so it may have ended up being a complete fool’s errand!

However, in a way that closely resembled the weaving of the cloth, Dylan wove together a beautiful film. He has a nose for the essence of things, for finding the heart of the story and a gentle way of telling it.

What have you loved most about the journey so far and what is your long-term vision for Hedgerow couture?

I’ve loved meeting and interacting with all the people that nettles have brought, and continue to bring into my life. I think spinning has been the greatest discovery for me and I’m almost evangelical about encouraging folk to pick it up. I think it can change the world, Ghandi was on to something!

I’m curious as to where Hedgerow Couture goes myself.

Many thanks Allan.

You can follow Allan and his natural fibre projects @hedgerow.couture

Seasonal Apple Puree with Ginger and Turmeric

Seasonal Apple Puree with Ginger and Turmeric


A symbol of love gratitude, generosity, harvest and abundance. 

They really are in abundance at the moment. It appears to be a mast year.

From roadside, to field and hanging over the garden walls they bulge with rosy fruit.

If crumbles aren’t your thing and you are all juiced out try our apple puree/sauce recipe. Combined with ginger and turmeric it makes a worthy immune supporter as we roll through Autumn into Winter.

Ginger and turmeric are both potent anti-inflammatories and warming thus promoting qi and blood flow that can become stagnant as the days cool down and your body has a tendency to dampness.



20 large apples

1 lemon

3cm of root ginger

2 fingers of fresh turmeric


Peel and slice the apples

Place in a pan with the juice of a quarter of a lemon

Heat up to a simmer and simmer until all the apple is soft.

Add the peeled piece of ginger and the turmeric.

Blend all together with the apple in a nutribullet until smooth whilst the apple is still hot.


Apple invites us to enjoy the fruits of the earth and be grateful for them.

Enjoy with yogurt, granola or off the spoon on an empty stomach.

When not eating apple. Try dyeing with their leaves.


Fill a pan with apple leaves

Bring to the boil and leave overnight to allow the colour to release.

The next day reheat, leaving the leaves in the dye pot. Add your cotton fabric and leave the fabric in the dye pot overnight. Reheat to reduce the dye water and strengthen the final colour of fabric.

The natural tannins in the leaves mean you don’t require a mordant.

Apple are not the only leaves you can naturally dye with. Others you can try are birch, walnut or alder leaves. 


"The goldenrod is yellow, The corn is turning brown, The trees in apple orchards With fruit are bending down."
- Helen Hunt Jackson.
Sloe Fashion, colour + benefits

Sloe Fashion, colour + benefits

Oh how we love Autumn.

From blackberries, whortle berries and now to sloes and hawthorn. They all have a healing quality to share along with their natural colour. 

Sloe was traditionally planted near the house for protection because it was a common belief that evil faeries could not pass through the thorny shrub and that it would keep harm at bay. For anyone who has tried to pick sloe berries, it is easy to understand where this came from.

There is more to sloes that just sloe gin. It is one of the best berries to use as a laxative due to its astringent glucosides. The flowers have the same affect but being gentler are good to use with children, either nibbling or infusing in some milk.

We love sloe for its mesmerising scarlet dye. Although it fades with each wash. Whilst it lasts it is truly stunning and should definitely be experimented with.

Simply fill a pan half full with sloe berries gathered after the first frost.

Cover with water and bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer for 30 mins. It creates a rich sloe juice that is almost immediately ready for dyeing with.



Pre mordant your cotton fabric. Then add the fabric to the dye bath, submerge and circulate for even colour, then leave for an hour before removing. 

Hawthorn equally is one of the most sacred trees in Celtic tradition. Symbolising love and protection. 

Like the rest of the plant the hawthorn berries are one of the best heart tonic remedies we have. Strengthening and toning and opening us up with the courage we might need to love.

Its colour is subtler, salmon pink but still very beautiful.


When not dyeing with the berries you can:

Infuse them in olive oil for 4 weeks and use this vitamin C rich oil to nourish your skin.

Infuse them in hot water and drink as a homemade Love Tea, sharing it with those you love.

Share the Love x


The Spices of Life - Natural Dyeing with Turmeric

The Spices of Life - Natural Dyeing with Turmeric


Our passion for natural plant dyes was inspired by Ayurvastra, an ancient branch of Ayurveda, the 5,000-year-old system of healthcare.

“Ayur” is Sanskrit for health and “vastra” clothing so Ayurvastra is loosely translated to “life cloth”

It uses herb-infused and herb-dyed organic fabrics as healing agents, especially for skin, joint and respiratory conditions.

Ayurvastra functions through the principle of touch: as the skin comes into contact with the herb-infused fabric the body develops increased metabolism and rids itself of toxins. Studies have proven the effectiveness of this*

Turmeric is a wonderful spice to use for creating life cloth at home as it is a spice we hopefully all have in our kitchen cupboard. Utilising its anti-inflammatory and immune boosting qualities to wrap around you at will.

Try it yourself using our recipe, bearing in mind it is not a very colourfast or lightfast dye. If you leave in the sunlight the colour will fade as it will after frequent washes.


Turmeric powder – 3 tablespoons for every 500g of fabric

Scoured Cotton fabric

A large pan full of water.



Fill a pan with water and warm to a simmer on the hob.

Add the turmeric and stir until it is well dispersed.

Wet your fabric. Because of its fugitive colour in sunlight we don’t recommend using mordant when dyeing with turmeric.

Add your fabric to the pan and make sure it is submerged. Move around with your hands to make sure every inch is covered and allow the pot to simmer for 2 hours and then cool stirring and moving the fabric every hour to make sure you get an even coverage. Add a splash of vinegar if you want to brighten the colour.

When you are happy with the colour rinse it in water and hang to dry inside ( not in sunlight)

You can cut out pieces of the cotton to make homemade bandages for cuts or sores, use the sheets to lie on during a massage or meditation or use the material to create eye masks. 

As a Naturopath I love to take a holistic approach to health. Why not combine the healing power of turmeric with its friend ginger.

Ginger has many uses in the home remedies department and can be used to help arthritis, diarrhea, flu, headache, heart and menstrual problems, diabetes, stomach upset and motion sickness.

Here are our top home uses for the spice ginger.

Muscle Strains - Apply warm ginger paste with turmeric to the affected area twice a day.

Sore throat - Boil some water and add a dash of cinnamon, a little piece of ginger, 1 tsp honey and drink.

For a persistent cough - Take a half teaspoonful of ginger powder, a pinch of clove with a pinch of cinnamon powder and honey in a cup of boiled water and drink it as tea.

Asthma - A teaspoon of fresh ginger juice mixed with a cup of fenugreek decoction and honey to taste acts as a excellent expectorant in the treatment of asthma.

Headaches - Dilute a paste of ginger powder, about 1/2 a teaspoon, with water and apply to you forehead.

Colds - Boil a teaspoonful of ginger powder in one quart of water and inhale the steam - helps alleviate colds.

Ginger Compress - This method stimulates blood and body fluid circulation, helps loosen and dissolve toxic matter eg. cysts, tumors. Place about a handful of coarsely grated ginger in a cloth and squeeze out the ginger juice into a pot containing 4 liters of hot water (do not boil the water). Dip a towel into the ginger water and wring it out. Apply very hot to the affected area.

Diabetes - Some doctors recommend some drinking ginger in water first thing in the morning to help regulate your glucose level.

Ginger Tea - Make with fresh ginger root. Grate a small piece of ginger, about the size of a nickel, into a mug. Add the juice of a half a lemon. Fill the mug with boiling water. Stir in a teaspoon of organic honey.

For relief of nausea - Ginger is generally taken in doses of 200 mg every 4 hours.

For relief of flatulence - Ginger is generally taken in doses of 250 to 500 mg 2 to 3 times a day.


X Primrose 

* In 2006, a trial by the Government Ayurveda College in Thiruvanathapuram in southern India found Ayurvastra cloth to be effective in treating 40 patients with allergies, rheumatism, hypertension, psoriasis and other skin ailments. Despite the history of this practice, Western medicine has not yet recognized the benefits of ayurvastra clothing and products.


Winter Vitamins and Tips for Health

Winter Vitamins and Tips for Health

Preparing for a healthy winter


As a naturopath I get asked a lot at this time of year what we can do or take to keep ourselves in abundant health through the winter.

As the saying goes “by failing to prepare you are preparing to fail”. Preparing your body for the winter will help you sail through those dark days and cold nights with a vital force that is hopefully able to throw off any germs it comes into contact with.


These are my basic top tips:


Fresh air and exercise


Whilst it might feel less tempting to go for a walk or head to the gym, the importance of having some time out to clear your head, breath in some fresh air and get the blood moving is imperative to keep our immunity strong.  Take at least 30 minutes of the day to walk preferably with an incline to really get the blood moving.


Bone broth

Whilst this isn’t one for the vegetarians, the benefits of chicken soup should not be forgotten. It has been a wellness tonic for centuries and for good reason. It contains important minerals that are easily absorbable such as magnesium and calcium and phosphorus. It also contains the amino acid cysteine which can thin the mucus in the lining of the lungs so it can be expectorated more easily. As always supporting our gut improves our immunity which this is good for too.

Try and eat at least once a week.


Warm Hydration

During the winter months it can be harder to notice when you are dehydrated as you don’t sweat as much. Good hydration flushes out toxins from the body, maintains efficient bodily functions and keeps the body energized. Drink herbal teas containing turmeric, ginger, rosemary and cinnamon as these are warming and help keep the natural fire of your stomach burning and invigorated.


Winter Supplements


My preference is always to try and get your essential vitamins and minerals from a balanced diet but this can be harder to do these days due to poor soil quality, synthetic inputs and long air miles. Finding a local organic grower for your vegetables is ideal and helps you eat more seasonally, supporting your body with the food it should be eating at that time of year.

When that isn’t available you can incorporate the following supplements:



We are often told to eat lots of garlic during the winter to keep us healthy. By eating garlic all the time its effectiveness at combating colds and flus is reduced.

Ideally you want to be eating it just as you start to feel a little run down and eat a lot of it! Using a raw garlic clove as a suppository is also a quick way to help your body fight back as well as knocking on the head any lingering urinary infections.

You can of course supplement with garlic capsules if you don’t like the garlic breath!


Vitamin C

You only have to take a walk in a park or along a country lane and you can see the abundance of berries presenting themselves in September. This year seems like a bumper year indeed.

These are natures immunity larder. Each one is packed with antioxidants that pack a punch against colds and flus.

Pick blackberries and whortleberries for freezing or eat straight away topped on cereal and smoothies. In last week’s blog I shared a recipe for elderberry syrup.

You can of course supplement Vitamin C and my all-time favourite brand is A Vogel chewable tablets made with food source sea buckthorn berries, acerola berries and passion fruit for a complete vitamin. Unlike most Vitamin C on the market which is  made with ascorbic acid (a synthesized version) this is food based so more recognizable by your body.

Vitamin C helps our iron absorption which is a bonus too.


Vitamin D

That bright circle in a sky, our friend the sun shines less frequently over the winter so we cannot make as much Vitamin D. Vitamin D maintains healthy bones and muscles as well as supporting positive mental health.

If you supplement with about 600iu per day it helps our body maintain the summer levels we are used to.



Zinc has been shown to help reduce viruses replicating so taking it within 24 hours of starting to feel ill can reduce the duration of the cold or flu. About 75mg per day is recommended.

I suggest you use like garlic.

Stay tuned for more health and wellbeing tips and ideas over the next few months.

Stay well x 


Elderberry Boost

Elderberry Boost

As the holiday season nears an end and we approach the start of a new school year, it is an excellent time to consider boosting our immunity ahead of the winter months.


In nature’s wisdom, plants grow at the time of year when we need them.

Sharing their virtues for our health and wellbeing in order to support our body through the challenges different seasons bring.


Along the hedgerows you can’t help but notice the bulging bunches of elderberries hanging from the tree, ripening from green to purple.

As natural dye fanatics we loved to discover that the Romans used these berries as a natural hair dye, boiled in wine to make the hair black.

Certainly, it provides an initial bright purple dye on fabrics although being fugitive the colour won’t stay bright for long so enjoy the beauty while it lasts!


Like the bark of the elder tree the berries can have a purging effect on the bowels but their most common use is for our immune system.


These magic clusters our full of Vitamin C and antioxidants something we need most to fend off infection and secure optimum iron absorption. One cup of elderberries contains about 50 mg of Vitamin C with the recommended daily amount being 75mg for women and 90g for men.


There are numerous ways to enjoy elderberries such a drying the berries to make a tea, wine, making them into a jam with other hedgerow favourites like blackberry and hawthorn or adding them to a crumble.


Our favourite is as a syrup which is made from simmering berries and a sugar until it gets to a thick consistency. Whilst you can make it with sugar I prefer to make it with honey so you get the added anti-bacterial immune boosting properties of local honey. If you have a sore throat the consistency means it coats the throat nicely too. Make sure not to boil the honey and render it less potent.



500g of juicy plump destalked elderberries

400g of sugar or honey

1 lemon juiced


You might like to add 3cm of freshly sliced ginger, a cinnamon stick or a star anise if you prefer a depth of flavour.


Place the berries into a saucepan and cover with about 1cm water. Add any spices you desire.

Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer gently for 15-20 mins until the berries have softened into a liquid.

Strain the mixture through a fine sieve

Measure the liquid and for every 500ml of liquid add 400g of sweetener.

Tip the sweetener and the liquid back into a pan and simmer for 5-10 minutes.

Leave to cool and bottle in sterilised jars.

This will keep for about 12 weeks in the fridge or freeze cubes in trays and use as you need until next season!