February 2019 update: our herb offer is currently on hold. A number of new volunteers are interested in re-starting the herb stock, so we hope it will be back up and running some time this year.
Fareshares herbs are a stock of organic, medicinal/ culinary herbs, sourced as ethically as possible, without the huge mark up that is often put on them, that cover a wide range of basic ailments and conditions.
Plants have always been used as medicine. In relatively recent history knowledge and use of natural medicines was suppressed in part by emerging modern medical practices that began establishing themselves… but plants were still used by and alongside the new medicine right up until the 1950s boom in the pharmaceutical industry when there was a sharp increase in (leading to the now predominant use of) synthetic drug treatment.
What is now known as ‘conventional medicine’ is actually relatively new, and approaches health in a very particular way. It tends to reduce experiences down into isolated factors (we may be told an illness is caused by bacteria and needs to be treated with antibiotics) rather than looking at the whole (that an illness might be caused by tiredness and stresses, poor diet, blocked energy, exposure to dampness, as well as increased vulnerability to pathogens like bacteria, and may need to be treated by addressing the often complex social and political reasons for tiredness and stresses, by massage, movement, fresh food, acupuncture, the use of warming/ antiseptic herbs… etc).
The rise in ‘alternative’ or ‘complementary’ medicines, some of which might better just be called traditional/ holistic medicine, is a response to the limits, the effects and the side-effects of western bio-medicine and a return to and reclamation of effective ancient healing practices. But they are often expensive and inaccessible to a lot of people and western medicine’s professional expert/ patient roles can often be replicated.
Profound reclamation of traditional medicines needs to see knowledge and resources integrated more into our daily lives and back in peoples – everybody’s- hands, as part of wider, grassroots social change.
Using dried herbs…
Flowers and leaves – make an infusion by steeping approx 1 teaspoon herb per cup in boiled water for about 5-10 minutes. strain and drink.
Bark, berries and roots – make a decoction by simmering approx 1 teaspoon herb per cup 5-10 minutes. strain and drink.
Standard doses are usually three cups of tea per day. Some herbs blend really well together like elderflower, peppermint and yarrow for feverish colds and flu.
*! Some herbs are contraindicated – ie not ok to use in certain health conditions and/or during pregnancy. There are few good herb reference books at Fareshares to check for relevant information.
A-Z of herbs and some of their basic traditional uses:
Basil: nervous irritability, anti-depressant, adrenal stimulant, nausea, vomiting, increases secretion of milk if breastfeeding. *!
Chamomile: anti-inflammatory, calming to the digestive system, nervous excitability, insomnia.
Cleavers: lymphatic detoxifier, enlarged nodes and glands, dry skin disorders.
Coriander seeds: settles digestion, dispels wind, infants colic.
Cumin seeds: aids digestion, can stimulate menstruation. *!
Echinacea: Anti-microbial, anti-viral, good for all sorts of infections, raises body’s resistance.
Elderflower: nasal catarrh, sinusitis, reduces fever by promoting sweating, skin emollient.
Fennel: warming agent for the stomach, wind, infants colic, arouses appetite, increases milk secretion if breastfeeding.
Hawthorn: Heart restorative, strengthens heart, improves circulation, use for high blood pressure.
Lavender: nervous headaches, anxiety, stress, insomnia.
Lime flowers: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, protects against hardening of the arteries, anxiety, insomnia, fevers.
Liquorice root: adrenal restorative, mild laxative, anti-viral, coughs, bronchitis, asthma, stomach ulcers. *!
Marigold: anti-fungal, wound healer (reduces formation of scar tissue), lymphatic cleanser.
Nettle:rich in Vit C and iron, use for anaemia, blood cleanser, stops internal bleeding, chronic skin problems.
Peppermint: cooling for feverish colds/flus, stimulant digestive aid, nausea, vomiting.*!
Raspberry leaf: tones the uterus- used in prepartion for labour, aslo mouth ulcers, tonsillitis, diarrhoea.
Rosemary: headaches, colds, anti-depressant, stimulates scalp/ hair growth (external application).
Sage: sore throat, tonsillitis, mouth ulcers, night sweats, to stop production of breast milk. *!
St John’ Wort: neuralgia, nerve damage, anxiety, stress, anti-depressant, antiviral.
Thyme: antiseptic for all respiratory infections, common cold.*!
Turmeric: blood purifier, dyspepsia, liver and gall bladder diseases, controls cholesterol.
Valerian: tranquilising use for anxiety, tension, insomnia, high blood pressure.
Vervain: tension, stress, nervous exhaustion, congested liver, can stimulate menstruation. *!
Yarrow: reduces fevers, wound cleaning, stops bleeding, tones veins, high blood pressure.