Posts Tagged ‘herbal’

Immune Boosting Herbal & Fruit Vinegars

So, I’ve got a bit of a cold and, being a good herbalist, I’ve neglected to look after myself properly and have only just remembered the bottles and bottles of soothing Elderberry Vinegar that are sitting in the spare / herbal room. Elderberries are full of Vitamin C and a great immune booster, they’re also conveniently in season in the Autumn, about the time the first colds are starting with the return to school and university and increased exposure to everyone else’s germs. I’m guessing this might also explain my current cold, everyone’s back to Glasgow with new and interesting bugs after far-flung festivities.

I’ve recently taken to calling the sweetened Elderberry Vinegar a “Shrub” as some people find the idea of drinking vinegar a bit off-putting. The basic recipe for any Fruit Vinegar is here.  Although it’s a bit late for foraged fruits here in Glasgow, you can also use shop-bought Raspberries or even Blackberries if you don’t mind the food miles. A more seasonal type of medicinal vinegar, which you can make now is the pungent, garlicky, herby Four Thieves’ Vinegar. Even better, although for maximum potency, your vinegar should stew for 2 weeks – the components of Four Thieves’ Vinegar are so strong, you’ll get some medicinal effects if you drink it with only a couple of hours of stewing.

A couple of quick notes about making vinegars. I often get asked which vinegar is best to use as the base to a medicinal vinegar or shrub. I usually go for Apple Cider Vinegar for stronger flavours like the garlicky Four Thieves’ Vinegar and/or if the vinegar isn’t going to be heated. White Wine Vinegar is best if the vinegar is going to be heated as part of the recipe, particularly to add sugar, as with the Fruit Vinegars. The direct heat denatures some of the ACV goodness and the blandness of White Wine Vinegar suits sweetening. It’s not essential to stick to these though, if you’re in a hurry and happen to have only one vinegar to hand, just use that.

Another common question is around adding sugar and sugar subsititutes. The basic Fruit Vinegar recipe does add a lot of sugar and this isn’t essential for preservation, but does bring out the flavour of the Elderberries and Blackberries in particular. So, if you’re going to use your Fruit Vinegar as a culinary, Balsamic-like dressing, sweetening is really a must. If you’re going for a medicinal Fruit Vinegar, you could leave out the sugar in the initial recipe and then add sugar or honey to your warmed vinegar drink. Some people have suggested adding honey to the basic recipe, but I wonder if prolonged heat is good for honey and think adding it as you drink would be better. I’ve yet to experiment with using natural plant sweeteners like Stevia and would definitely avoid artificial sweeteners.

Bramble Vinegar


Herbs to Aid Digestion in Pregnancy

Nausea and heartburn are common digestive symptoms during pregnancy. Many herbal teas are safe and effective for this – do check with a qualified herbalist if your situation is complex.

Food & Herbal Teas for Digestive Problems

For constipation and bloating, gentle self-massage of the abdomen can be beneficial – use gentle circling motions moving from the lower right hand side of the abdomen above the pelvis, upwards to the ribs, across to the left and down towards the left hand side of the pelvis.

For sickness and nausea, nibble on dry oatcakes first thing to settle your stomach. Take Ginger in any form: fresh Ginger tea; Ginger biscuits; Ginger beer or if you can’t stomach anything, break a piece of fresh Ginger and inhale the aroma. For severe sickness, Ginger tablets may be required.

For heartburn, drink Meadowsweet tea with meals and through the day as required.

For constipation, drink plenty of fluids and eat high fibre foods, also gentle exercise to get things moving. Many herbal teas are helpful for constipation in pregnancy, common ones are Chamomile, Ginger and Peppermint – although limit Peppermint tea after the birth if you are breast feeding as the strong flavour can pass in to the breast milk.

Finding a Comfortable Lying Position

Digestive problems such as heartburn and constipation can be influenced by the pressure of the baby in your abdomen. Finding a good position to sit or lie in will help with this, experiment with pillows or towels rolled up in to bolsters to find a comfortable position. During pregnancy, most women find a side-lying position comfortable:

       SIDE-LYING: The most comfortable position for most women is similar to the Recovery Position used in First Aid. Lying on your side, bend your knees and place a pillow between your legs at the knees. Also place a small pillow between your wrists, especially if you have had any swelling or other symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

Women are usually advised not to lie on their backs (supine) from Trimester 2 due to the risk of Supine Hypotensive Syndrome when the blood pressure drops rapidly and the woman experiences light headedness, nausea and may pass out briefly. However, many women do find a semi-reclining position comfortable in to Trimester 3:

        SEMI-RECLINING: This position can be achieved sitting on the floor with a support behind the back and under the knees. It is also used by health practitioners on a reclining examination or massage couch. Always ensure the lower back is supported, a pillow is ideal, and that the legs are bent and supported under the knees by a pillow or bolster. This is a great position for self-massage or massage from the birth partner.

For a personalised consultation – I offer 90 minute Pregnancy Massage sessions in Glasgow on Tuesday and Saturday mornings, costing £50. The sessions include a massage tailored to you and your stage of pregnancy, along with advice on sleep positions, exercises and relevant herbal remedies. Email for further information and to check availability.