Tag Archives: grass roots remedies

Community Fund – Grass Roots Remedies – July update


The summer months bring an abundance of one of my favourite herbs – Marigold. It is a versatile herb with many uses in herbal medicine both traditionally and in modern times. This article will take a look at its attributes. Marigold flowers continuously throughout the summer and is easily grown from seed in most soils. It also self-seeds easily, ensuring a continuing supply each year.

Latin: Calendula officinalis

Other Names: Pot Marigold, Golds, Ruddes, Mary Gowles

Parts Used: Flower petals and flower heads. Traditionally leaves were used more.

Historical Used: The name Calendula in Latin was given by observing the bloom of flowers at the end of the calendar months over summer hence “calends.” It has been used at a nutritious herb for centuries in cooking and medicine. There has been documented use of Marigold as far back as 1655 with a herbalist called Fuller stating “We all know the many and sovereign virtues in your leaves, the herbe Generalle in all Pottage.” He describes using Marigold for headaches, jaundice, red eyes, toothache and ague (an old word for fever). It was associated with the virgin Mary and again with Queen Mary in the 17th century. Culpepper mentions it in his herbal as being hot and dry therefore under the sun. It was used to promote sweating and draw out fever. He also mentions its use in small pox, measles and for easing the jaundice associated with liver disease. It was used during times of plague and pestilence for reducing fevers and for warts and hot swellings. In cheese making, Marigold petals could produce a yellow dye similar to that of Saffron. Externally, it could be used on insect bites and stings as well as on gum disease, nose bleeds and cysts. It was commonly used in broths as a comforter to the heart and spirits, indeed even looking at the plant could supposedly dispel negative thoughts and improve eyesight.

Modern Uses: There are similar uses of Marigold today and with modern scientific investigations we know that the herb contains resins, flavonoids, triterpenes, bitter glycosides, essential oils and mucilage. The resins are antifungal, anti-bacterial and promote wound healing as they as astringent to capillaries. It has shown to be of use in treating bacterial infections caused by staphylococcus and streptococcus. Also similarly, we still use Marigold to stimulate sweating during fevers and it has value in the treatment of liver disease like hepatitis and gall bladder issues.

One of Marigolds key attributes is its anti-inflammatory action, so it is a key herb in treating conditions of the skin. It is useful for healing cuts, old ulcers and slow healing wounds, minor burns, sunburn, rashes, athletes foot, ringworm and thrush. Nursing mothers find it a useful herb to soothe sore nipples and to apply to nappy rash and cradle cap. In conditions like acne where there is often a toxic and internal inflammatory element, Marigold can be used to encourage the elimination of toxins through the lymphatic system and the liver and has shown to enhance the immune system. The wound healing action can be applied internally as well as externally for conditions like gastritis, stomach ulceration and colitis. Another common use today is for thrush and it can be used directly by using a vaginal douche of an infusion of the plant as well as being taken internally as a cleansing antifungal.

Community Fund – Grass Roots Remedies – July update

Midsummer came and went, and the Wester Hailes Community Herbal Clinic has been busier than ever, seeing 30 patients in June. As part of our free community education programme we ran a summer herb walk in the Willow Garden in the Calders scheme. Some local residents who are interested in herbalism have started to grow some specific medicinal plants for community use in the Willow Garden and they have been coming along nicely. Two of the plants they have chosen to grow are Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum), and St John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum), both of which we use frequently in the clinic.


Milk Thistle – Milk Thistle is a longstanding traditional European herb for supporting the function of the liver. It is an exampe of a plant whose old fashioned use has now been substantiated by modern clinical research. It has been found to actually help restore liver function where there is an injury to the liver or liver disease. It is so effective it can even help to reverse the effects of certain deadly poisons like the Avenging Angel mushroom (Amanita phalloides). We use it for patients with liver or gallbladder disease, and to support the liver where it has been damaged through substance use.

 St John’s Wort – St John’s Wort is another very well known herb, and is one which has found recent acclaim as a natural anti-depressant. Although it can be effective at lifting the mood, this wasn’t its original traditional use. Historically St John’s Wort was used to support the nervous system and to heal wounds. It is useful as a pain reliever in neuralgia, sciatica, fibromyalgia and where pain is made worse through anxiety or tension. It can also be used externally as a valuable healing plant and anti-inflammatory where it can speed up the rate of wound healing. St John’s Wort can interact with some prescribed medications, so it is best to consult a herbalist before deciding to take this plant internally.

Community Fund – Grass Roots Remedies – January Update

This month in the Wester Hailes Community Herbal Clinic, we had a kind invitation from one of our resident GPs at the next door GP surgery, Dr Sineaid Bradshaw. She agreed to have us come and spend a morning observing her consultations. We are in a very privileged position in the Wester Hailes Healthy Living Centre to have such a commitment to partnership working from the agencies within the integrated building, so were excited to build our collaborations by spending some time with the GPs.

The clinic I attended was the Substance Misuse Clinic, a special service which runs three times a week from the practice where patients who are stable drug users are given a longer appointment of twenty minutes for a fuller check in on their medical issues and wellbeing. It runs in concert with the local Substance Misuse Directorate (SMD), key workers from the voluntary sector partners, as well as a Community Activity Mentor. Dr Bradshaw explained to me that the approach currently used is a model of Recovery, with Harm Reduction. The aim is not simply to “be the doctor who writes the methadone scripts” but to promote recovery by creating relationships with each patient, discussing and understanding their personal & social situations. The doctors prescribe medications as necessary, encouraging dose reductions as patients themselves are ready to do so, and to signpost to activities & community support for facilitating recovery.

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Community Fund – Grass Roots Remedies – December Update

Winter in the Wester Hailes Community Herbal Medicine Clinic brings with it a lot of seasonal bugs and viruses, and this year is no exception. Our preference is always to use herbs which are seasonally and locally available, and so winter, with a distinct lack of plant life, can pose something of a challenge!

Luckily, while herbaceous perennials and annuals die back over winter, we can look to other kingdoms for some herbal support at this time of year. Two of our favourite herbs are both in the miraculous and ever-health giving kingdom of Fungi – the Old Man’s Beard Lichen & the Birch Polypore Mushroom. This past month we’ve been busy collecting these for medicine making & use in the clinic.

old mans beardOld Man’s Beard (Usnea spp.) is a lichen commonly found  year round on old growth trees within unpolluted areas. A lichen is a pretty marvellous symbiotic relationship between an algae and a fungi – the algae can photosynthesize and so it produces food for the pair, and the fungi stops the algae from drying out. These incredible organisms are some of the world’s oldest living things, and even helped to create soil way back when so that the first plants could grow.

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Community Fund – Grass Roots Remedies – November Update

grass-roots1Two of the principles of Permaculture are: Produce No Waste, & Turn the Problem Into the Solution.

Part of our business at Grass Roots Remedies Co-operative is small scale manufacture of sustainable herbal medicines to use in our community clinic in Wester Hailes. We are big believers in forming links with other community projects and creating as short a supply chain as we can. This month we were pleased to receive a ‘gift’ from our neighbours and friends the Granton Community Gardeners. They carefully harvested a giant bag of couchgrass (Elymus repens) from their veg patches for us. Most gardeners will know couchgrass as a pernicious weed that always manages to find a way of returning. You might be pleased to know that for us herbalists, couchgrass is a nourishing kidney herb useful for chronic urinary infections. You can also eat it – the rhizome is hearty and nutritious (albeit a little tough).


Community Fund – Grass Roots Remedies – October Update

picture1Grass Roots Remedies Co-operative Submission for Vegware Community Fund Blog November 2016

Grass Roots Remedies Co-op is a herbal medicine co-operative based in Edinburgh. We believe that herbal medicine is the medicine of the people, and should be accessible to everyone. We run the low cost Wester Hailes Community Herbal Clinic, offer herbal courses & workshops and produce DIY herbal guides to enable folks to practice herbalism at home. Check out our website for more information (www.grassrootsremedies.co.uk)

We are delighted to have been offered funding from Vegware to support our Community Herbal Clinic in Wester Hailes, which we think is quite unique.

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