health through herbs!

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starry-starsToday is officially the first day of winter! Frankincense is a useful herb at this damp, meditative time of year. It is an immunomodulatory, anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory herb so helpful against those seasonal coughs and colds and joint aches and pains that tend to flare up in winter. It also has calming, anti-depressant properties so it’s perfect if this month leaves you feeling stressed or sad : )

Enjoy the solstice!

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why-willowsToday we celebrate the equinox, when the length of our day is roughly equal to that of our night; tomorrow, we welcome Autumn and her harvest – the season when we bring in the roots and berries of our herbs.  And also when the nights will draw in.  Luckily, I’ve found a good book to curl up with – I’m looking forward to discovering Why Willows Weep!

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angelicaOnce a week, on a Tuesday, the walled garden at Knole is open to the public. Among its extensive grounds, there is a small herb garden with lots of medicinal herbs growing, including the impressive Garden Angelica. Angelica (Angelica archangelica) is probably best known as those super green, super sweet crystallised sticks used in cooking but medicinally, it is a particularly useful aromatic bitter to help soothe digestive upsets – the monks of Chartreuse even have it as an ingredient of their digestif – but it can also help with coughs and cold and fevers.

P.S. Garden Angelica does have a sister in her Apiaceae/Umbelliferae family – the Chinese angelica (Angelica sinensis) but she has quite a different character!

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microbiota.jpgIt is said that our human cells are outnumbered ten times by our microbiome – the microorganisms which live symbiotically upon and within us! And there is growing evidence of the importance of our relationship with our gut microbes and how an imbalance of these impacts on our health, from heart disease to IBD to allergies to obesity to acne to autoimmune disease. Here is a very interesting Food Programme which explores our amazing internal ecosystem: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b07ff0hl

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rae apteekTallinn is a city of nature, magic and beauty. Its amazing architecture and strange language are captivating and reason enough to fall in love with it but it also has a very old, but still functioning, Town Pharmacy in the main square – the Raeapteek – the oldest pharmacy in Europe, dating back at least to 1422. It is well worth a visit and even has a tiny museum in the room next door with all sorts of medicinal curiosities!  rae #3