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Grow Your Own Physic Garden: Use medicinal plants grounded in science

Science is now providing the evidence to show just how effective plant medicine is. In our new book we aim to help you to grow and use safe plants to treat many common ailments. When used correctly plant medicine is safe, effective and has other health benefits.

There are many plants that we can take regularly as beneficial foods which help boost and protect body and mind. These plants contain important compounds (like polyphenols and flavonoids which plants use in their environment) to help protect against oxidation, inflammation, cancer and bacterial and viral infection. And plants contain compounds which enhance the mind too – we can take a cup of calming chamomile tea to help relieve stress, or drink a cup of sage tea to help protect the brain and boost memory anytime.

But if we want to treat a medical condition, and treat that condition effectively, its all about taking a dose and combination of plant medicine that is tailored to our specific and holistic needs. That’s why we always say to treat a medical condition first consult a NIMH registered medical herbalist to ensure you are using the right plant medicine for you.

Plant medicine is a medicine! Please read this caution: When taking a plant at a medicinal level always first consult a NIMH registered medical herbalist and inform our healthcare provider if you are pregnant, have any medical condition or are taking any medication. Do not self-diagnose, stop taking drugs you have been prescribed or give plant medicine to a child without consultation. Be sure of the identity of your plant and source plant medicine from a reputable source, read the caution on any product and take only at the recommended dose and for the recommended duration, but note there is an effective dose and duration.

In the UK many of us believe that some herbs are beneficial in some way, but in Europe and Asia plant medicine is much more commonly used and in some cases the first choice for pharmacists and even GP’s. Humans have used plants throughout history to help protect against disease and to treat common ailments, it is only with the more recent chemical revolution that most of us have forgotten this knowledge.

Around the world today people safely treat many common ailments with the plants that grow around them. So while chamomile is used in Europe to calm, in the South Seas its the tropical kava kava (in the pepper family) that is used to lower anxiety. Both these plant medicines have clinical trial evidence to show that they work as effectively as conventional single drugs to lower anxiety symptoms, and with few side effects.

Self medication of plant medicine is safe as long as you first consult a NIMH to ensure you are using the right dose and combination of plants medicines tailored to your specific needs, and, as long as you correctly identify the plants you grow or buy your plant medicine from an established reputable source – and not an unscrupulous online retailer.

Grow Your Own Physic Garden, by Elaine Perry, Valerie Laws and Nicolette Perry, is designed to inform and inspire you to take control of your health, to safely treat common ailments before they become chronic and to use plants for their protective benefits. Elaine Perry is Professor Emeritus of Neuroscience at Newcastle University and founder of Dilston Physic Garden and Dr Nicolette Perry is a pharmacognosist (who studies medicines derived from plants) and directs the educational Dilston Physic Garden.

You can buy Grow Your Own Physic Garden right here on this website.

Read more, by Bunny Guinness on Grow Your Own Physic Garden here: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/gardening/how-to-grow/plant-medicinal-herbal-garden/

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.

Botanical Brain Balms

Dilston Physic Garden’s director and curator are publishing a book on plants for the brain – ‘Botanical Brain Balms: Essential plants for memory, mood and mind’ with Filbert Press UK and publishers in the U.S., France and Germany.

‘The benefits of a plant-based diet to physical health are well-known and scientific research now shows that plants can improve mental health too. Many leaves, roots and berries contain ingredients that boost cognitive skills and alleviate common problems like stress, fatigue and mood swings – without the side effects of conventional drugs.
In this authoritative guide, experts in herbal medicine and neuroscience recommend plants for a wide range of problems. They explain the science behind how they work and suggest easy remedies and exercises that are pleasant to take and make part of your daily routine.
Beautifully illustrated, Botanical Brain Balms is packed full of safe and natural ways to improve the way you think and feel.’

“A great book and the one I’ve been waiting for – scientific, accessible and eminently useable.” Bunny Guinness

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.