Courtesy of
Courtesy of

I’ve been asked if I will post some advice on the herbs I use and I’ve hesitated to do this. Let me start off by saying very loudly I AM NOT AN EXPERT. I have not been trained and I use only remedies that I have found to work which were given to me by other people who know.

There is a terrible tendency these days to equate the word “natural” with inoffensive and healthy. Well, I’m sorry but Belladonna (Deadly Nightshade), Monkshood (pictured above- a real killer)  and the most fatal fungi are all “good ole natural products”.

My first suggestion if you are interested in using herbs to help your ills, is to do your research. There are a staggering number of internet sites and books available and I can’t say often enough, look at photographs of the plants if you intend to pick them. Just as some of the most poisonous fungi look like truly nommy ones, hemlock (remember Socrates?) is easily mistaken for other less deadly ones.

Yum? Well actually yes. Schizophyllum commune - tough but edible
Yum? Well actually yes. Schizophyllum commune – tough but edible

Start off with herbs you can buy in the supermarket – look in your store cupboard. You probably already have a few that can be used without any specialist foraging. Rosemary, sage, thyme, turmeric, garlic, ginger… count ’em up. See? Got a pharmacy in your kitchen already! Well done!

Don’t go out foraging unless you know what you are doing and for the sake of all that is holy please leave fungi alone – I’ve been doing this stuff for years and I won’t touch the damn things. If you know someone who really is an expert – go out with them. I believe “mushroom walks” are organised in some places – go along, it would be fun!


Hemlock or cow parsley?
Hemlock or cow parsley?


OK class – here is your first test – go away and google some answers for me. Both sage and thyme are very good astringent and antiseptics. With which one should you be careful and why? To whom would you not advise sage?

Easy enough – off you go and if you get that right, I’ll do yarrow next time.

10 thoughts on “HELPFUL HERBS – Post 1

  1. Hemlock is easily distinguished by its smell; it has a distinctive stench of mouse wee. The purply splotches on the leaves are also a warning.
    Sage and thyme can be used more safely externally, and as Sue says, both need to be avoided by pregnant women. It was used to start labour when it went overdue. Most herbs used for procuring a miscarriage could kill; pennyroyal causes serious kidney damage. You’d only use it once, if that. Historical fiction that refers to it being used like that never seem to mention it was often fatal.

  2. Great – this was mainly an exercise in seeing how many people are interested. Also if anyone else has more experience or training in the subject I will very gladly hand it over to them to do on their blog – as I said, I only know what I do and the warnings I’ve received.

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