Natural medicine from plants in the UK

Mowmow

Forager
Jul 6, 2016
145
57
Nottinghamshire
Basically, I am wondering if you good folk here at BCUK could enlighten me on natural medicines that can be found in the "bush" here in the UK. What species i'm after, how to collect and make it and what it treats plus the negative side effects.

Or recommend me some good reading.
So far google hasn't yielded much as it focuses on preppers growing herbs in the garden. Which i see the value of if you have access to seeds and non native plants but i'm thinking more traditionally english remedies "easily" found in the uk.

If theyre easy to identify and make use of such as willow, birch, and pine etc. Excellent.

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Janne

Guest
Feb 10, 2016
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Grand Cayman, Norway, Sweden
Remember that many plsnts in nature are also excellent eating, full of nutrients and loads of flavour!

My favourite is the humble stinging nettle. Superior to spinach.
And as a benefit if you ate getting old and have achey finger joints, the ’sting’ reduces the joint pain.
 

Toddy

Mod
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Jan 21, 2005
35,482
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S. Lanarkshire
.....just mind and eat them before the crystals form. Those aren't good for your kidneys.
Yes though, nettles are excellent for many reason :)

See, that's the thing about recommending herbal 'cures' and 'remedies'.
Yes, they work, but, and it's an enormous but, one has to be aware of the person, the issue to be helped, and the season and the source and quality of the plant.
What's available now, is not what is available a few months from now.
So, yes, coltsfoot for coughs, etc., but there is no coltsfoot just now....well, I have a couple of really dried out and withered leaves in a flower bed that give indication of where I'll be able to harvest in a few months, but unless one knows the area, and is aware through the seasons, then it's kind of barren just now.
I know where I have meadowsweet growing (natural aspirin, and the root is excellent against toothache) and the comfrey, tansy, mugwort, lungwort, etc., etc., but there's almost nothing to show of any of those, or plantain, goosegrass (I'm learning :rolleyes: regional names are funny to other folks) borage, mare's tail, selfheal....

There's also the issue that it's illegal to advise someone to take a herbal remedy when one is not a qualified medical herbalist....many of the herbs, like St John's Wort, are contra-indicated for some folks. Everybody's different, not everybody reacts the same way to herbal tinctures, potions, etc.,

And, the synergy of herbs comes into it too. If you add horehound to the coltsfoot, it's a better remedy, so that's two plants, but it's better yet if you also add liquorice or marshmallow.
Pity I can't use liquorice, it's a vasodilator and triggers migraines for me.

What does work though, is a list of ailments and folks add on the stuff that they themselves have used successfully.

Like the aforementioned migraines....eat a couple of feverfew leaves (bitter as hell, and a misery to eat, but the relief is wonderful) before it gets really out of hand, and it can often stave it off entirely. Feverfew is as persistant as the wind though, and even now after all this snow and ice, rain and mud, I have two little plants bravely putting out leaves.

Sometimes it's easier to ask either what could be used effectively for something specific, or what could a particular plant be used to treat.

Just my tuppence ha'penny worth.

M
 

Janne

Guest
Feb 10, 2016
12,368
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Grand Cayman, Norway, Sweden
Young nettle leaves and tips only. Old ones are tough and nasty.

Young leaves or tips of most trees contain good levels of Vit C.
Make tea.

Plants we would never use today used to be freqvently used in the past.
Digitalis for example.
 
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Robson Valley

Full Member
Nov 24, 2014
8,276
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McBride, BC
Medicine Man, Medicine Woman. There's a life time of study and apprenticeship to learn what's now the lost arts.
They still occupy an important position in every First Nations community here.
.
You have lost all that forever. While I applaud revival efforts, you can't write the skill experience and understanding.
I taught university biochemistry courses for less than 35 years. Many refuse to believe the facts.
Dr. Google and his/her herbal remedies might just do you some serious, self-inflicted harm.
 
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mrcharly

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Jan 25, 2011
3,246
33
North Yorkshire, UK
I taught university biochemistry courses for less than 35 years. Many refuse to believe the facts.
Dr. Google and his/her herbal remedies might just do you some serious, self-inflicted harm.
This is worth reading 20 times over.

'herbal' remedies are still potent chemicals. It is extremely difficult to know the potency of the plant you have in your hand (think how much the strength of chillies can vary, even from the same plant). Then there are the interactions between the chemicals in different plants.
 
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Broch

Full Member
Jan 18, 2009
3,126
2,300
Mid Wales
This is a subject of lifetime learning for me and, despite now studying it for many years, I wouldn't dream of tutoring or trying to teach it or even offering application advice - especially not on a forum. Learning the plants and the applications is one thing, learning about extraction processes, the doses, and the diagnostic is a completely different matter. And, this is an ever changing subject; for example comfrey was at one time considered very useful but now advised against.

My emphasis has always been to study the plants in my environment and research what they are useful for rather than study medicinal herbs in general. If I travel, I try and find the common plants or will study the plant species of the area I am visiting.

That said, I am happy to list some of my resources (these are in addition to very good field guides and keys; good identification is a must):

Welsh Herbal Medicine - Hoffmann
Herbs and Health - Peterson
Herbs and Aromatherapy - Metcalfe
The Dictionary of Healing Plants - Dorfler & Roselt
Herbs and Healing Plants of Britain and Europe - (Collins) Podlech
Grow Your Own Drugs - Wong
The Encyclopaedia of Medicinal Plants - Chevallier
Native American Ethnobotany - Moerman
and many more ....

The latter covers North America but I am in the process of cross referencing common species. It's an expensive book but you can access the database upon which it is based for free at www.naeb.brit.org

Cheers,

Broch
 

Toddy

Mod
Mod
Jan 21, 2005
35,482
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S. Lanarkshire
Good list :) and really good advice too :)

I'd add this one to the list

Herbal Drugs and Phytopharmaceuticals. A Handbook for Practice on a Scientific Basic With Reference to German Commission E Monographs. Eds; Bisset, Norman Grainger, & Wichtl, Max. 2nd Edtn, 2001
Medpharm, scientific publishers, Stuttgart & CRC Press.
 
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Broch

Full Member
Jan 18, 2009
3,126
2,300
Mid Wales
I'd add this one to the list

Herbal Drugs and Phytopharmaceuticals. A Handbook for Practice on a Scientific Basic With Reference to German Commission E Monographs. Eds; Bisset, .
I'm told that is the "Bible" for the subject; I'm saving up :)
 
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Toddy

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Jan 21, 2005
35,482
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S. Lanarkshire
Medicine Man, Medicine Woman. There's a life time of study and apprenticeship to learn what's now the lost arts.
They still occupy an important position in every First Nations community here.
.
You have lost all that forever. While I applaud revival efforts, you can't write the skill experience and understanding.
I taught university biochemistry courses for less than 35 years. Many refuse to believe the facts.
Dr. Google and his/her herbal remedies might just do you some serious, self-inflicted harm.

I would quietly disagree with your negativity, but it is quietly :)
I know an awful lot of very capable people, people whose judgement, knowledge and skill I would trust, who are very skilled with their herbal use.
They are the kind of people one quietly seeks out, there's a huge rambling network of them in the UK, and well, to quote an Austalian phrase, one goes walkabout with them.
Y'see, they know their area. They know what grows where, and when. They know what can be used, and what cannot be used (much underrated skill that in most 'herbals') and the why of both of those.....and they know 'people'. How they work kind of thing, and the signs that are saying they're not.

I am heartily glad of modern medicines, I really am. My youngest son is only alive because of chemotherapy, and I thank everyone of you who has ever paid your National Insurance; it's one of the greatest kindnesses and most altruistic things you will ever do.

All that said though, herbal use greatly enriches my life, and the lives of a great many others among us.
It needs one to use the senses, not just follow some written instruction. It needs thought, and it becomes almost instinctive, and it pleases us greatly. From the simple things like digging the roots up and knowing that this is comfrey, but this is tansy, and this is meadowsweet (go on try it :) they are amazingly different :) ) to the withered and dried leaves stored for later use...sage or mugwort, or raspberry or blackcurrant... start simple and it'll grow, and it'll grow all your life if you engage with it.

M
 

Robson Valley

Full Member
Nov 24, 2014
8,276
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McBride, BC
It's a lifetime of guided experience that you cannot buy.
Recreational pharmaceuticals are more than enough to kills lots of users.
I'm nobody's guinea pig. The medicine men and medicine women don't need
any sort of exploratory adventures.

It's like what happens with First Nations art and carvings here. Medicine is the same.
Talented children are nominated by the elders to apprentice with an older relative.
That becomes much of their life.

I agree that there are occasional individuals who excel at the medical arts.
Naturopaths who claim to have their patient's best interests at heart. Fine by me.
 

Toddy

Mod
Mod
Jan 21, 2005
35,482
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S. Lanarkshire
Do you mean my going walkabout ? because that's simply a rambling walk and talk on someone else's turf. It widens everybody's knowledge, it can show even very familiar plants in very unfamiliar settings, and sometimes seasons too.
Over here we are very firmly of the belief that no one knows it all.

M
 

Janne

Guest
Feb 10, 2016
12,368
2,256
Grand Cayman, Norway, Sweden
Caution is advisable if you plan to start dabbling in herbal medicine.
I would not trust litterature, specially not old ones.

Many plants contain toxic compounds which are harmful. I would check as many scientific web sites as I could first.

Also I would never take any herbal remedies in addition to modern medication.

Also be careful where you pick the herbs and plants. Away from roads, industrial sites, former industial sites, or landfills.
 

Janne

Guest
Feb 10, 2016
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Grand Cayman, Norway, Sweden
Just an example: The plant Hypericum (St Johns wort) has been used for centuries / millenia as a calming herb.
It also effects the liver function, so the effect of other (‘modern’) medication is changed.

I doubt there has been any extensive resarch between the intraction of herbal/ modern meds, or even herbal/herbal.
 

Robson Valley

Full Member
Nov 24, 2014
8,276
1,376
McBride, BC
Canada is a large place. There is more biogeoclimatic diversity in the province of British Columbia
than there is in all of the rest of Canada.

What you encounter among the flora of my district is meaningless even 300 miles in any direction from here.
Of course nobody knows everything, No such statement made or implied. The very most knowledgable
people have studied since childhood under the guidance of masters. More than what Caucasians are likely to do.

First Nations still have very closely held territories. Logically, they become familiar with what they have.
Wouldn't surprise me to learn that they traded in botanicals. Maybe some still do.