We are welcoming visitors and will be open normal opening hours – opening times.

Dilston Physic Garden is open for local outdoor recreation and exercise. You can visit with your individual household or extended household. If you are meeting someone else, group size is restricted to six people from two separate households. Please abide by the latest Government guidance.

Helping to protect you during your visit

We have a number of health and safety measures in place to reassure you when you visit our Gardens.

  • You will receive a warm welcome
  • Visitor capacity will be monitored to facilitate physical distancing
  • In line with current Government guidelines on travel, group size and meeting others
  • Contactless payments – you can pay for admissions and sales by contactless, transfer or drop box outside the physic shop
  • There is a one-way system in place at the physic shop / admissions
  • Please observe two metre physical distancing
  • Face coverings are now mandatory in all enclosed spaces, so in our physic shop

Please note that our workshop and events programme has been disrupted. Please contact the individual contacts for each workshop or event in the What’s On and section of the website.

  • The Physic Shop is open.
  • Refreshments – takeaway: choose from one of our ten botanical teas or botanical hot chocolate and botanical oaties
  • Picnics are welcome
  • We have one WC, open March to November

Donations to support the Dilston Physic Garden charity are very much appreciated at this time – you can follow this link to make a donation today.


Scientific research on plant medicine’s to boost immunity and be antiviral

CAUTION NOTE: Immune-boosting plant medicines are contraindicated in some conditions affecting the immune system – always consult a NIMH registered medical herbalist and inform your healthcare provider before giving any plant medicine to a child or taking any plant at a medicinal level if you are pregnant, have any medical condition or are taking any medication. Always source plant medicine from an established reputable source.

Boosting the immune system is key to help to combat infections, especially where there is no effective antibiotic or vaccination (or where vaccines are only effective in a proportion of the population). Things to do that are shown to help boost immunity:

  • ensure you get regular daylight
  • eat a regular fresh rainbow diet
  • take exercise
  • lower stress

In the UK NIMH medical herbalists prescribe plant medicines to help boost immunity and treat infection for example during the winter flu season. Plants such as echinacea, astragalus, elderberry and garlic have science to show how they help boost and protect the immune system. Humans have used the plants around them throughout history as medicines, for example to boost the immune system and to help prevent and treat infection and it is only now that science is bringing to light how effective they are – read our Plant of the Day blog for more information.

Studies from laboratories around the world show just how these plants work. Some stimulate immune cells and help to promote an antibody response. While others inhibit bacteria, virus or fungal growth. And still others work to lower or control the inflammatory response during infection. For some of these plants there have also been a number of controlled clinical trials in humans. These clinical trials indicate that in group comparisons of test plant and placebo, certain plant medicines are effective as immuno-stimulants.

Plants tested effective in controlled clinical trials to boost immunity include European elecampane root, rosehip berry and elder berry, Eastern astragalus root, ginger root and liquorice root and American echinacea root. Further information on some of these plant medicines is given below. Plants shown clinically to effectively treat a range of respiratory disorders include the common ivy leaf (not the berry!).

NOTE: There is further scientific research required in order obtain full information on how these plant medicines work, though it is important clinically that they are used today as effective plant medicines by National Institute of Herbal Medicine medical herbalists, and herbalists across the globe to help boost immunity and treat infection. Always consult a NIMH registered medical herbalist before taking any plant at a medicinal level if you are pregnant, taking any medication or have any medical condition. Always buy plant medicine from an established and reputable source (eg, Baldwins) to be sure of the identity and efficacy of the plant material and to avoid adulterated products. Do not take echinacea and astragalus in immune conditions without consultation.



Effectively Treats Upper Respiratory Symptoms: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized, Controlled Clinical Trials (Jessie Hawkins 1Colby Baker 2Lindsey Cherry 2Elizabeth Dunne ). Upper respiratory symptoms are often treated with over the counter drugs, antibiotics, and antiviral medications. Due to concerns about safety and efficacy, there is a demand for an alternative solution. Black elderberry (Sambucus nigra) has been used to treat cold and flu symptoms, but there are no large-scale studies or meta-analyses. This meta-analysis quantifies the effects of elderberry supplementation and evaluates moderators including vaccination status and the underlying pathology. This analysis included a total of 180 participants and evaluates moderators such as vaccination status and cause of the upper respiratory symptoms. Supplementation with elderberry was found to substantially reduce upper respiratory symptoms. The quantitative synthesis of the effects yielded a large mean effect size. These findings present an alternative to antibiotic misuse for upper respiratory symptoms due to viral infections, and a potentially safer alternative to prescription drugs for routine cases of the common cold and influenza.

Hawkins J, Baker C, Cherry L, Dunne E. Black elderberry (Sambucus nigra) supplementation effectively treats upper respiratory symptoms: A meta-analysis of randomized, controlled clinical trials. Complement Ther Med. 2019;42:361–365. doi:10.1016/j.ctim.2018.12.004

Krawitz C, Mraheil MA, Stein M, et al. Inhibitory activity of a standardized elderberry liquid extract against clinically-relevant human respiratory bacterial pathogens and influenza A and B viruses. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2011;11:16. Published 2011 Feb 25. doi:10.1186/1472-6882-11-16

Porter RS, Bode RF. A Review of the Antiviral Properties of Black Elder (Sambucus nigra L.) Products. Phytother Res. 2017;31(4):533–554. doi:10.1002/ptr.5782

Ulbricht C, Basch E, Cheung L, et al. An evidence-based systematic review of elderberry and elderflower (Sambucus nigra) by the Natural Standard Research Collaboration. J Diet Suppl. 2014;11(1):80–120. doi:10.3109/19390211.2013.859852


Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea

Several, but not all, clinical trials of echinacea preparations have reported effects superior to those of placebo in the prevention and treatment of upper respiratory tract infections. (Do not take in immune conditions with professional advice).

Barnes J, Anderson LA, Gibbons S, Phillipson JD. Echinacea species (Echinacea angustifolia (DC.) Hell., Echinacea pallida (Nutt.) Nutt.,Echinacea purpurea (L.) Moench): a review of their chemistry, pharmacology and clinical properties. J Pharm Pharmacol. 2005;57(8):929–954. doi:10.1211/0022357056127


Anti-viral medicinal plants

Many plants contain their own antimicrobial  (anti-bacterial, anti-fungal) and antiviral compounds in order to survive in their environment. A number of these plants contain active compounds in their volatile (aromatic or essential) oil. These aromatic plants have been used by humans (and animals!) throughout history against microbes and some have been verified as showing activity against certain bacteria, fungus and viruses in laboratory studies.

Though it is important to note that clinical trials on these plants are yet to be carried out, they have a long-established traditional use by medical herbalists to aid the prevention and treatment of infection. These plants include thyme (Thymus vulgaris), sage (Salvia officinalis), marjoram (Thymus mastichina L.), clary sage (Salvia sclarea L.), rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis), bay (L. nobilis), anise (Pimpinella anisum L) and eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus). Thyme, sage, marjoram, clary sage, rosemary and bay can all be used in foodstuffs and taken as tea as preventative medicine, and are also used at a medicinal level as plant medicines (- see caution above). To use the essential oils (which contain key bioactive anti-microbial compounds) please note the caution below and use at a maximum of 5% (e.g. 0.5ml per 10ml) in room diffusers, carrier oils and perfumer’s alcohol sprays, or use 2-3 drops on a tissue or clothing. Though we don’t take essential oils internally in the UK yet, in France and other countries they are often taken in suppositories.  CAUTION: Essential oils are highly concentrated and some essential oils are toxic. Sage and rosemary are contraindicated in epilepsy. Always consult a qualified aromatherapist before using an essential oil other than how the label recommends.

Choi HJ. Chemical Constituents of Essential Oils Possessing Anti-Influenza A/WS/33 Virus Activity. Osong Public Health Res (Perspect. 2018;9(6):348–353. doi:10.24171/j.phrp.2018.9.6.09

Fani M, Kohanteb J. In Vitro Antimicrobial Activity of Thymus vulgaris Essential Oil Against Major Oral Pathogens. J Evid Based Complementary Altern Med. 2017;22(4):660–666. doi:10.1177/2156587217700772

Loizzo MR, Saab AM, Tundis R, et al. Phytochemical analysis and in vitro antiviral activities of the essential oils of seven Lebanon species. Chem Biodivers. 2008;5(3):461–470. doi:10.1002/cbdv.200890045

Wińska K, Mączka W, Łyczko J, Grabarczyk M, Czubaszek A, Szumny A. Essential Oils as Antimicrobial Agents-Myth or Real Alternative?. Molecules. 2019;24(11):2130. Published 2019 Jun 5. doi:10.3390/molecules24112130

We always recommend consulting a NIMH medical herbalists before taking any plant a medicinal level.

Botanical Brain Balms (Filbert Press, 2018), Grow Your Own Physic Garden – both available to buy on our website and The Modern Herbal Dispensary by Easley & Horne (North Atlantic Books 2016) for qualified information on using plant medicine.