Summer uplift

Plants to lift mood, balance mood swings & relieve depression
Plants we list in Botanical Brain Balms have science to show how they lift mood, alleviate mild depression (severe depression should not be self-treated) and level out mood swings. The widely recognized anti-depressive St John’s wort leads the way, but other traditional mood-boosting plants, successful in human studies, include turmeric from the Middle East, saffron from the Mediterranean and skullcap from Canada and the US. Our list also includes, with lesser evidence, chai hu from China and, for restoring hormonal balance, particularly for women, there’s black cohosh from the US and the less closely studied clary sage from Europe, and rose from the Middle East.
Here we look at rose.
What the plants need to do
A long-held notion surrounding depression is that it involves a response triggered by low brain serotonin levels and that drugs which restore this mood-boosting brain signal will also help to restore good mood. Consequently, common anti-depressant drugs are those which are able to maintain high levels of serotonin in the space where nerve cells talk to each other (the synapse). These chemical drugs are collectively called SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors). They include fluoxetine (Prozac), sertraline and paroxetine and are the most widely prescribed drugs today in the US, overtaking blood pressure drug prescription.
While some anti-depressants act on serotonin others act on signals like noradrenaline and dopamine, for example the SNRIs (selective noadrenaline reuptake inhibitors), monoamine oxidase inhibitors and TCAs (tricyclic antidepressants used more for severe depression).
Mild anxiety and depression are the most common of all mental health issues today, with one in five of us experiencing at least one episode of depression in our lifetime, so we need to be aware of different treatments and ask ourselves these questions. Do we fully understand what goes wrong in the brain-body-emotion axis during depression? Do SSRIs really work better than a placebo (an inert pill)? And are the side effects of SSRIs, which include nausea, dizziness and sexual problems, acceptable?ROSE, APOTHECARY’S ROSE
Rosa gallica var. officinalis

A much-loved garden plant, the rose is being rediscovered for health and wellbeing as a result of scientific research on the aromatic oil. The apothecary’s rose is a hybrid variety of Rosa centifolia (Provence rose) and R. canina (dog rose). Hips, used traditionally, continue to provide benefits that are science-based.

About the plant
Apothecary’s rose is a perennial shrub growing to 1.5m (5ft), with sharp thorns, serrated leaves and delicately scented, deep pink flowers. Native to the Middle East, it’s been cultivated around the world for centuries. Hybridization gave rise to the strongly scented damask rose (Rosa damascena) and Provence rose (Rosa centifolia) from which essential oils are commonly extracted. The dog rose (R. canina) with sweet scented white or pink flowers and more delicate stems and sharp thorns is found in the wild and self-seeds. Neither need much attention except to control their tendency to spread.
History and folklore
Renowned for lifting the spirits, this queen of flowers is used in folklore to make or mend alliances and as an aphrodisiac. Used by the Romans in festivities where petals were eaten, roses were valued in monastic gardens both spiritually, as symbols of Christ’s blood, and for their healing powers. Traditionally used as an anti-depressant – the 1st-century Arab physician Avicenna prepared rose water, while 16th-century British herbalist John Gerard said “The distilled water is good for the strengthening of the heart, and refreshing of the spirits, and likewise for all things that require a gentle cooling.” Hips are used as a sedative in herbal medicine and the essential oil (“attar of rose”) is used in aromatherapy as an anti-depressant, a sedative and for pain relief in arthritis.
What scientists say
In humans
Initial studies show rose scent increases measures of parasympathetic (rest) activity and induces feelings of contentment. Essential oil relieves anxiety during labour and depression and anxiety in post-partum women (with lavender). It relieves pain in children, menstruation, lower back and migraine in controlled trials. It improves sleep quality in coronary care patients and sexual function (in males and females) in major depression. Rose water reduces anxiety in renal patients and hips improve wellness ratings and lower blood pressure and back pain in other pilot studies.
Lab studies
The petals, essential oil and hips (wild; R. canina) are anti-depressant, anti-anxiety, anti-convulsant, hypnotic, analgesic and neuroprotective in lab tests.
Key ingredients

The expensive pure essential oil is a complex mix of plant terpenes including the calming and uplifting citronellol, geraniol, linalool (also in lavender) and nerol (also in bitter orange). As with lemon balm oil, beware of imitations spiked with other oils or chemicals. Hips contain flavonoids and polyphenols.

How to take it
The essential oil in commonly used in aromatherapy. Rose buds make one of the best botanical teas and fresh rose petals can be added to salads and hips make perfect jellies and syrups on toast, with cheese or red meats. Rosewater (extract of flowers) can be used in cocktails such as gin fizz.
CAUTION Always consult a registered medical herbalist before taking any plant at a medicinal level, inform your health care provider if you are taking medication or have any medical condition and do not stop taking prescribed medication. Be sure of the identity of your plant and take only at the recommended dose.
Safety

Buds, petals, hips, and essential oil in diffusers are safe, with no reporte side-effects or contraindications, including for children.

References
This is taken from Botanical Brain Balms, Filbert Press. Available buy at Dilston Physic Garden and book shops.

Listen to and see the physic garden on the TV/radio

Watch physic garden curator, neuroscientist Professor Elaine Perry talk about Dilston Physic Garden on HexhamTV


 

Listen to physic garden director, pharmacognosist Dr Nicolette Perry talk to Jo Good on BBC radio London


 

Listen to Dr Nicolette Perry on HealthyLife.net


 

Take two minutes out, relax and watch Dilston Physic Garden filmed by Oliver Fowler

 

 

Children’s Potion Clubs 2019 – to set you up for life

Delve into the magical world of herbs with 4 Potion Clubs over the summer. Each can be enjoyed on their own or as part of a series. With medical herbalist Davina Hopkinson in charge the clubs are full of surprises. Davina has created a new fun and fascinating club for children (guide 8 – 12 years) who want to delve into the intriguing world of plants. This is the chance to discover, in a fun and magical way, the health benefits of plants – an exploration that will set them up for a lifetime!

With 4 interactive sessions in 2019, each one unique, in April, May, July and August, learn all about local plants you find in the garden, hedgerows, woods and fields and go out to forage for some of them. Each month explore which plants are growing and how they can be turned into potions to look after your body and your brain – like the spring tonics to give your body a kick start after winter, or the roots and berries of autumn to make cold and flu remedies, or plants to help you stay calm and concentrate better like lemon balm.

From plants to help sore tummies and even help you sleep, we’ll choose a plant of the month, explore what it does, how it does it and turn it into a real life effective potion! You’ll be able to record your recipes in your own potion book, along with your thoughts and artwork.

With some scintillating history (herbal medicine does go back 60,000 years!) and telling of mysterious magical folktales, there’ll be plenty of safe health-giving body-protective potion-making.

£15 or £25 for two children, with a discount for booking the whole course. Please bring your own packed lunch.

For further information and to book get in touch with Davina davinaherbalist@gmail.com 01661 842897

Dates of Potion Club 2019 :

10am to 2pm 

Each can be enjoyed on its own or taken as part of a series of 4.

Thursdays 18th April

Thursday 30th May

Thursday 25th July

Thursday 29th August

Botanical Brain Balms

The new book by Nicolette Perry and Elaine Perry, director and curator at the physic garden, is on sale now in The Physic Shop at the reduced price of £13. This book is for anyone interested in using plants to make the best of your brain & mind. An authoritative and accessible guide to 56 plants – a truly unique overview of medicinal plants that clearly explains the best evidence for the efficacy of plants for the brain.

Beautifully illustrated, Botanical Brain Balms is a fascinating guide packed with safe and natural ways to improve the way you think and feel.

Planet Birdsong

Planet Birdsong arrive at the physic garden this June with an opportunity for a 90 minute school event held at the physic garden on the afternoon of Friday 8th June. To see a lesson plan and powerpoint for the session click here.

Please get in touch with the physic garden if you are interested in booking this place for your school group – info@dilstonphysicgarden.com.

A school visit highlight from Planet Birdsong’s Heritage Lottery Funded residency in Nidderdale: https://youtu.be/0g9LaVmA4HI

‘Planet Birdsong is a UK based charitable initiative inspired by the wonderful world of bird songs and calls. Bird vocalisations are an international language that transcends geographical and species boundaries. Planet Birdsong explores the role of technology and data collection in connecting the maximum possible number of citizens with the natural world. We cross the boundaries between countries along migration routes to deliver maximum conservation value. Our initiative is multi-disciplinary, facilitating communication between scientists, conservationists, musicians, educators and IT professionals. Read more: http://www.planetbirdsong.org.’

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NEW Thursday Talks: Handy Herbs for Everyday Ailments – starting June 7th 2018

This summer the physic garden is delighted to welcome back pharmacist Milena. As a pharmacist trained in Poland, where plant medicines are dispensed alongside drugs, this year Milena is not only offering consultations, but is encouraging learning on medicinal plants for common ailments through a series of workshops. Just drop into the physic garden every Thursday from 1pm over June and July to uncover simple secrets for maintaining health and treating everyday ailments.

Scroll down for the summer timetable or visit the Workshops page for full details of each workshop for June and July .

The series kicks off on Thursday 7th June 2018 with How to Make a Herbal Mouthwash at 1pm in the Herbology House at Dilston Physic Garden. No booking is required, cost is £5 plus the physic Garden admission of£4 – or if you’d like like enjoy more than one Thursday Talk or the whole series you can buy a Season Pass for £10. If you wish to contact the tutor please email on milena.kopkowska@gmail.com.

MORE DETAILS ON THE TALKS 

Each week Milena will lead a hour long workshop discussing different health problems which can be remedied safely at home with medicinal plants. The aim is to empower you to take care of yourself in a natural way. There will be some demonstration and practical tips on how to make the herbal products, as well as the opportunity to ask questions about the management of different conditions with herbal remedies. There will also be opportunity to buy some herbs on the day and if you would like to seek individual advice from Milena, consultations are available after the talk.

ABOUT MILENA

Milena is a fully qualified pharmacist practicing in the UK. Her pharmacy degree is from ​Poznań University of Medical Sciences in Poland, where herbal medicine is a large part of pharmacy degrees and pharmacists are qualified to dispense both herbal and drug medicine*. In Poland, as in much of Europe, herbal medicines constitute a substantial part of the pharmacy stock and are commonly used by pharmacists and doctors for the management of minor ailments.

Since working as pharmacist in the UK Milena feels that many common health problems may not be adequately addressed in the mainstream UK health service, since UK doctors do not prescribe herbal medicines, and UK pharmacies often don’t offer them, the public don’t know about them. Milena says she is here to change this! With knowledge of both herbal and drug medicine, she can therefore help you explore different treatment options and help you find the best way to improve your health.

Milena says “I know a great deal about herbal medication, the chemical basis for their effectiveness, and practical ways of using raw plant material to make effective medicines”. Milena is here to share her pharmacy knowledge of effective herbal medicines and to help the public benefit from the abundance of natural medicines that are prescribed more in Europe than they are in the UK.​

WORKSHOP TIMETABLE SUMMER 2018 : ‘Handy Herbs for Everyday Ailments’ 

Drop into the physic garden every Thursday at 1pm from June 7th to 26th July

Thu – 7/6/18- 1pm – How to make herbal mouthwash

Thu – 14/6/18- 1pm – How to improve digestion with herbs

Thu – 21/6/18- 1pm – How herbs working on your liver help your digestion

Thu – 28/6/18- 1pm – How to regulate your bowel work with herbs

Thu – 5/7/18- 1pm – Herbal way to deal with stress – calming herbs

Thu – 12/7/18- 1pm – Herbs to support blood vessels and improve circulation

Thu – 19/7/18- 1pm – How to manage urine infections with herbs

Thu – 26/7/18- 3pm – Herbal way to soothe the skin

*Please note the Dilston Dispensary of Herbal Medicines dispenses herbal medicine and not conventional medicine products.

Sage, Rosemary & Melissa to boost memory

Our next clinical trial has just reached its target funding – thanks to The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew & Make My Day Better Charity, The Ridley Family Charity and Wesnes Cognition. Email us if you’d like to register interest to partake in the 2019 trial – plans of which are underway (you must be aged between 45y to 75y and not diagnosed with memory loss or dementia).
This 2015 pilot clinical trial was carried out with the Bodyworks Centre in Hexham and Dilston Physic Garden and is published in the journal Phytomedicine.

At a glance: The results showed that a medicinal tincture (an extraction of the plants in alcohol) of sage, rosemary and melissa given for 2 weeks improved word recall by over 50% in under 63 year old’s.

Summary:

A randomised double-blind placebo-controlled pilot trial of a combined extract of sage, rosemary and melissa, traditional herbal medicines, on the enhancement of memory in normal healthy subjects, including influence of age

N.S.L.PerryR.MenziesF.HodgsonP.WedgewoodM.-J.R.Howes,H.J.Brooker, K.A.WesnesE.K. Perry

Abstract

Objective

To evaluate for the first time the effects of a combination of sage, rosemary and melissa (Salvia officinalis L., Rosmarinus officinalis L. and Melissa officinalis L.; SRM), traditional European medicines, on verbal recall in normal healthy subjects. To devise a suitable study design for assessing the clinical efficacy of traditional herbal medicines for memory and brain function.

Methods

Forty-four normal healthy subjects (mean age 61 ± 9.26y SD; m/f 6/38) participated in this study. A double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled pilot study was performed with subjects randomised into an active and placebo group. The study consisted of a single 2-week term ethanol extract of SRM that was chemically-characterised using high resolution LC-UV-MS/MS analysis. Immediate and delayed word recall were used to assess memory after taking SRM or placebo (ethanol extract of Myrrhis odorata (L.) Scop.). In addition analysis was performed with subjects divided into younger and older subgroups (≤ 62 years mean age n = 26: SRM n = 10, Placebo n = 16; ≥ 63 years n = 19: SRM n = 13, Placebo n = 6).

Results

Overall there were no significant differences between treatment and placebo change from baseline for immediate or delayed word recall. However subgroup analysis showed significant improvements to delayed word recall in the under 63 year age group (p < 0.0123) with Cohen’s effect size d = 0.92. No adverse effects were observed.

Conclusion

This pilot study indicates that an oral preparation of SRM at the selected dose and for the period of administration is more effective than a placebo in supported verbal episodic memory in healthy subjects under 63 years of age. Short- and long- term supplementation with SRM extract merits more robust investigation as an adjunctive treatment for patients with Alzheimer’s disease and in the general ageing population. The study design proved a simple cost effective trial protocol to test the efficacy of herbal medicines on verbal episodic memory, with future studies including broader cognitive assessment.

Midsummer solstice

Celebrate the Summer Solstice

Dilston Physic Garden

Saturday 24th June 5.00pm – 8.00pm

The Summer Solstice marks the time when the sun is at the height of its power – and nature’s response is a splendid display of colour and fragrance. This time is known in contemporary druidry as ‘Alban Hefin’ which means ‘Light of the Summer Shore’.

Midsummer is the time when the tide of light has reached its high water mark – the time of greatest light. This event, though, is also tinged with some sadness because from now on the sun’s strength will begin to ebb as we enter the waning year.

Facilitated by local members of Druids, this midsummer ceremony celebrates – in symbolic form – the power of light and love in our lives.

For information on this or any any other of Druid celebrations at the physic garden please email

celticspiritualitygroup@yahoogroups.com

 

At the Spring Equinox, day and night are – once again – equal and balanced. We now cross the threshold into the light of summer. It is now that the sun rises due east, and the Spring Equinox has long been associated with dawn, youth and the morning star. Led by local members of Druids, celebrate – in symbolic form – the mystery and miracle of birth and rebirth.

There is no admission charge; however, a donation towards hire of physic garden would be much appreciated.

For information, and to register your interest, please email celticspiritualitygroup@yahoogroups.com