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Move over superman, can Comfrey a Herb, save the world?

Well it would have been if Henry Doubleday would have had his way.  You see he was a lovely Irishman a little ahead of his time.  The story goes (I wasn’t there, so sorry to say it’s not a first hand account), back in the early 1900’s he came across some Comfrey and was somewhat amazed at it’s affects on both his own health, the way that comfrey both fertilizers the soil and brings nutrients up from deep in the earth to it’s roots, and hence making the soil even richer than ever, he even noticed the effect this wonderful herb had on the health of his livestock.comfrey_plant

He started bringing it into the UK and planting large crops, in the hope to be able to feed and heal people livestock and the soil…. I am not quite sure where and how the story ended; I do know that he passed away before being able to see his dream come to life. And  slowly this modest herb without any big name behind it, without a big company a team of marketing strategist so slowly left the forefront of people’s mind, as the medical profession turned to medicines that were supported by companies with plenty of money for research, the crystallisation of extracts of the comfrey plant overfed intravenously to rats leading this simple herb to be added unjustly to the poisons list and the public has since turned to marketed medicines.  And yet, Comfrey remains with us, modest in qualities, there for those that care enough to find out and work with it in our endeavours. Abiding it’s time where it will one day be able to rip of the binds and the cloak of invisibility to once more show that it could, can and perhaps still will save the world.  A few it’s super-powers;

  1. Its main component is Allantoin which regenerates cell tissue, helping to speed up our bodies ability to self heal/ setting of wounds, injuries, fractures, broken bones and sprains. This is also said to be the key element that leading some to declare this herb the elixir of life.
  2. It is rich in vitamins, A, B1, B2, E & C especially good for vegetarians as it even has B12, which is a rare vitamin to find in plants, it even has nutrients such pantothenic acid (B5), calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, sulphur, iron, Selenium, protein and phosphorus – beneficial for humans, plants and animals.
  3. It pulls nutrients to top of the soil around it and into nearby area, making it an incredibly valuable companion plant for other herbs, fruit trees and vegetables.
  4. Due to it’s richness in nitrogen and potassium it makes an amazing fertilizer, especially in today’s climate where soil nutrients are in decline, due to over-planting and lack of crop rotation.
  5. Farmers that have fed the leaves to livestock have reported a large increase of produce & health of their animals.
One of my own little home grown comfrey plants

One of my own little home grown comfrey plants

Now Comfrey is a humble plant, it just gets on with what it does best, which is to grow and grow, and then grow some more.  And while I might think Comfrey is a pretty super herb, and I do completely agree with Henry Doubleday and wished he’d lived to see his dream come true.  I hope for Comfrey that one day it will truly be recognised for it’s valuable contribution to our soils and earth, to our healing and our lives.

Notes:

For more information on full ompontents of comfrey, please check our Dr Christophers site: ‘allantoin (leaf) 13,000ppm; (root) 6,000-8,000 ppm-the biological activities are antidandruff, anti-inflammatory, anti-peptic, anti-psoriac, anti-ulcer, immuno-stimulant, keratolytic, sunscreen, suppurative, vulnerary. Symphytum is the number one plant species with the highest amount of allantoin’.

http://www.herballegacy.com/ThesisChemical.html

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Food as a medicine: Real food challenge

Interestingly as I am reading in one book about all the medicinal values in many of our everyday food, and the benefits of the herbs we use in our cooking. I am also following the 30 Day Real Food Challenge, which is a gorgeous 30 day menu put together – it’s uber healthy, detoxifying and leaves you and your body feeling so amazing. It also has the most scrumptious recipes you can imagine, so I dislike calling it a diet or detox perse as that makes it sound like a chore or even worse a burden. When actually it’s a complete treat, it is really best for our bodies, and the way they function to step away from the processed food and relearn some of the many new ways we can cook fresh food, and how much a few herbs or different recipes can enhance the flavours, tastes and even change the palate.

Some of the simplest foods in our cupboards have at times surprising magical qualities. Did you know that Rosemary has always been known to improve memory and mental clarity, and hence the ancient Roman students would wear it around their neck or rub their hands with it on the way to their exams. Cinnamon is not only deliciously tasting and smelling, it is also an antiseptic, stimulates your circulation and balances your blood sugar. Turmeric is being declared a new superfood for its powers as a digestive tonic, anti-inflammatory and in how it supports our immune system. The list is actually pretty endless if I noted down all the qualities of all the fresh foods and herbs we’d both be here all day – it is incredible though, and this these hidden benefits is not going to be found in a can of spam or baked beans…..

I’d like challenge you to try do the 30 day real food challenge, the menu plan, shopping list and recipes can be found here. And see how much healthier, clearer (in mental clarity), fitter and more energized you feel after 30 days.

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Creativity = Sanity

Life can get a little crazy, endless time spent behind your computer, working, thinking bills, rent, moving, shopping, organising, chores etc.  Yet life/ soul/ spirit I fully believe also needs some time to play, this isn’t something reserved for kids – as adults we think of play or downtime as just running on the treadmill or plonking down in front of the TV, maybe even take a walk on the wild-side and head out to the pub or restaurant.  Creativity, play and ‘letting your imagination run loose’ rarely if ever makes it on to one’s agenda or to do list.

Eucalyptus Leaf print

Eucalyptus Leaf print

Yet it’s so healing, it’s freeing and incredibly satisfying. This last week I’ve spent hours working on everything so I took yesterday off to just play.  I finished the top I’d been sewing and a crochet hat. I went foraging for leaves to do some eco-dying on silk – which turned out brilliantly, while foraging I took the camera out and took some photo of the amazing Eucalyptus flowers that I’d been meaning to get on film for over a week. The leaves and plants inspire me, and hence I also used some of them to dye my apron.   I finished the new label for my body oil, and made a new batch that was just for me (yes, I have the luxury of having an extra large jar just for me :)), and I made a lovely detoxing; Comfrey, Burdock, St. Johns Wort infusion to drink over the next week.  Am doing the 30 day real food challenge, going into week 3, and could do with some extra tonic support.

Leaves with inkodye

Leaves with inkodye

So at the end of extremely relaxed, chilled day, I have a new top, a gift for a friend’s child, a apron, some captured moments on film, so lovely eco-dyed silk which I am going to make into t-shirts/ tops, some luxurious body oil, and a detoxifying elixir.

I can’t recommend enough making some time in your life to just play, have fun, let your imagination run wild, spend some quality time in nature – be creative, and your life will be all the more richer for it.

And in the words of Robin Rose Bennett;

“It is within your power to make your life more magical. Let yourself think magically. Symbolically. Metaphorically. Loosen up and let the boundaries between mundane and magical living become thinner. Invite yourself to see like an artist, to think like a poet’.

If your interested in trying any of the above check out:
Eco-Dying: I recommend India Flint and her book Second Skin: Choosing and Caring for Textiles and Clothing, which is incredibly inspiring, she has fabulous workshops worldwide. Check out her blog here.

Inkodye: Sun Dying ink

Infusion & Healing Herbs, recommend Robin Rose Bennett’s book The Gift of Healing Herbs: Plant Medicines and Home Remedies for a Vibrantly Healthy Life , I made my own blend, however she has endlessly yummy useful recipes and detailed explanation in her book.

Top: One-Piece Wearables: 25 Chic Garments and Accessories to Sew from Single Pattern Pieces (Domestic Arts for Crafty Girls) , has some great – easy to make patterns from just one piece of fabric.

30 Day real food Challenge. Highly recommend this, it’s the second time I am doing it, and so love the recipes, the food, and how I am feeling even after the first and second weeks. The benefit is the boosted health, energy and loss of any excessive fat.

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Top ten things to bring on a Pilgrimage/ Hike

Long path

Almost there

Whether you are about to walk the Camino de Santiago, Appalachian Trail or do a local hike, you need to be prepared. And you know what it’s like, you’re
about to set off on the trip of a lifetime, and you have your must have list of what to take – there is the passport, ticket toothbrush – however there are always the hidden, last minute items that you are likely to forget and will wish you hadn’t, here’s my top #10 list:

  1. Good broken in pair of Shoes (be in hiking boots or hiking sandals – whatever works for you and that you’ve already walked in for hours or days without getting blisters)
  2. Walking stick – a good one, buy or find one on route as soon as
  3. A good Backpack, while this sounds like a given, trust me, some weigh a ton even when empty or if you get one too big you are likely to fill it, so it’s a fine balance to find the one for you.
  4. Water filter bottle (gentoo is my favourite  – filters it well enough to make tap water digestible almost anywhere, so you can refill on route. Boil water first in some countries, then cool and add to bottle, trick I used in Thailand where I drank only tap water)
  5. Real Woollen Thermals; nights and mornings can get cold and its must easier, smaller to take than jumpers, real wool will also wick sweat away from
    Backpacks

    Ready to go…

    your body or keep rain out.

  6. Rain poncho; it is likely to rain, somewhere, sometime, and somehow be prepared.
  7. Earplugs; not every night is a blissful one, so be prepared to pull out and use as needed.
  8. All purpose Ointment/ Salve; blisters, cuts, scrapes, bruises, aching muscles, dry lips – skin, are all but a few things that come up when you’re on the road all day, having something that works to deal with them is staple – I of course use my own Wayfarers Magic Comfrey Ointment.
  9. A few band-aids, you just never know.
  10.  A positive attitude and some self worth; it’s not a competition – you don’t need to be the fastest, best or fittest.  Enjoy, stop and smell the flowers, be present.
Comfrey ointment

Wayfarer’s Magic

And be sure to leave; your troubles, your worries and your every day life. Just writing this list makes me hit the road.  Anything I missed that you would add to my list???

Use the word Camino in the checkout process for a 10% discount – and if you do use it on your pilgrimage/ hike drop me a line and let me know how you get on –

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I am a wanderer, learning and growing as I go

“Wandering re-establishes the original harmony which once existed between man and the universe.” – Anatole France

Do you like to travel?  I think the world is such a magical place, that it’s one of our greatest privileges in this life to be able to explore it, and learn from all the incredible cultures and countries that we travel to.  Here are some of the things I learnt from a few of my adventures;

  1. Argentina:  that Whales are the Zen masters of the sea, and their song weaves such presence that you are immediately transported a new dimensions of wonder and being.
  2. Argentina: Yes the government is unstable, yes inflation is outrageous, yes crime is an issue – life is life, just get on with it, complaining will get you nowhere, laugh, enjoy, have fun, drink mate, stay up all night, dance the tango, create magic and know that today is today and tomorrow is a new day, with completely new opportunities.
  3. Thailand: truly a land of smiles, authentic ones at that! Did you know you can’t smile and be sad at the same time, so keep on smiling. And Thai food is the most delicious food ever (no doubt something to smile about).
  4. Laos:   Weaving and natural dying is long, hard yet happy work.  I will never look at the price of a hand dyed & woven fabric every again.
  5. Italy:  You can never have too much of a good thing…. Even if it’s ice cream
  6. France:  Life is to be enjoyed, don’t bother at all about what anyone thinks and it’s your right, and anyone else to strike – as long as you need to. Viva la revolution!
  7. England:  A good sense of humour is needed and found in all situations.
  8. Every where: Hotel toiletries are always below par, so I always have my own must have items, nowadays this also includes my own Wayfarers Magic Wayfarers Magic
    Comfrey Ointment, which is super all-purpose, I use mine as a day/ night cream, bumps, bruises, insect bites, cuts and hand cream. And in any other unforeseen emergencies.  Ancient Pilgrims knew to have a bit of Comfrey at hand.

Anything you’ve learnt? And love about travelling, or have a must have that you take with you?

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Comfrey successfully supporting self-healing and relief for Plantar Fasciitis

As someone that is against testing on animals I can at times be hard pressed to be able to trial my products on people and research the results.  However I am lucky, that I have people close to me that have a variety of ailments to test it on.  The latest human guinea pig (victim) is ineke, (who yes also happens to be my mum, not going to lie to you there), who thankfully is super active, and just completed a 880 kilometre walk of the Camino de Santiago, in Spain which consists of – a gruelling 10 miles a day, up and down hills come rain or shine.  After walking the Camino and being on the road travelling for the latst 16 months she’s returned home with a severe case of Plantar Fasciitis. To which the doctor advised that there is little to no relief and that it would take 2 years to fully recover.

Seeing this as potential opportunity to test my Comfrey Ointment on a case of Plantar Fasciitis, we started massaging in the ointment, 2 x a day, when she got up, in the afternoon and before going to bed (I believe the body works it’s hardest to heal any issues that it may face while we are sleeping – hence I also believe this is the best time to rub in any ointment that supports the bodies own self-healing, so in silent collaboration the body and herbs can work together to get you back to being your healthy new self). And adding some stretches and occasional ice-packs on her feet there was already a vast improvement.  In the first 2 weeks the pain had subsided, and she was able to walk again on the foot without any issues.  However was noticing on the days that she wasn’t using the ointment that the pain was returning again, I see that as a subtle reminder of the body to keep using the ointment.

Its now 7 weeks later, and ineke is still doing the stretches, and just using the ointment now and again at night. The pain has gone, she’s back to walking a few hours a day whenever possible and would walk the Camino again tomorrow if that was an option.  As a free additional bonus the Comfrey Ointment has also healed her cracked heels, not even something I had thought of using the ointment for, so always good to hear.

In her own words:

‘I have been using the Comfrey Ointment for my Plantar Fasciitis for over 7 weeks now, together with the ice packs, stretches and massaging the ointment in both morning and night.  My doctor told me it would be a long healing process that could take up to 2 years.

Plantar Fasciitis

Using Comfrey for Plantar Fasciitis and Cracked heels

I’ve had it since the beginning of October and now in mid-January all the pain, symptoms and discomforts have disappeared.  I am normally very suspicious about this claims or testimonials, however this comfrey ointment has certainly worked miracles for me.’

You can find the Comfrey Ointments here,  and if you are interested in ineke’s adventures on the Camino, Africa, Turkey or many other countries, you can find them on her blog here.  As well as her art work which you can find here www.inekevandenhout.com

And of course should you be planning to walk the Camino in Santiago or other Pilgrimages, my Wayfarers Magic is the Ointment for you also works a treat on Blisters, Sore Muscles, Aches & Pains.  It won’t be walking the Camino for you though, so do take enough determination, sense of adventure and good spirit to do that yourself.

If you are planning to walk the Camino or have walked the Camino and would like to try the ointment, drop me a line here for my special Camino de Santiago 10% off discount code.

Comfrey, new findings say it could be the elixir of life?

Interesting new article that investigates Comfrey’s use in beauty products, and that new research (thankfully someone is looking into its benefits) shows that worms being feed comfrey are living 22% longer and healthier.

Would like to add that I don’t doubt it for a second, This is also super exciting as I have been testing a face oil myself to see the benefits and is something I am looking to add to my product list in the new year, so will let you know when that gets out.

Please find the article here:  http://sbeta.iol.co.za/lifestyle/is-the-elixir-of-life-in-your-face-cream-1961242

Quote from article ” Worms that were fed the compound lived 22 percent longer. They also seemed to be healthy for longer, the journal Aging Cell reports. Dr de Magalhaes said: “Allantoin was the most interesting because it is already used in anti-ageing creams and cosmetics, so it seems to be extremely safe for human use.”

Why I make my own Body Oils & Ointments:

Comfrey Body OilFirst, let me ask you a question; would you drink petroleum??

Well, when I heard this question for the first time, my answer was an obvious NO. The question shocked me so much that I went and checked all my “all natural’ cocoa butter, and was shocked at the ingredients, it was a product I’d been happily using for years in the misguided believe I was using something good for me.  I know the skin is the largest organ of our body, and I’ve always known that it is important what we use on it.

And there to my shock were many ingredients that I didn’t recognise, and amongst them was also petroleum.

Petroleum is of course a dream come true for many beauty companies that are solely in the business to make money; not only is it a cheap by-product from the oil industry, it also like sugar makes you eat more to a company that sells food and wants to sell more, it’s a product that initially makes the skin feel moisturised, yet as it seals off the skin which means the skin doesn’t get to breath and hence it will eventually dry out and cause pre-mature ageing.  Do you know anyone addicted to lip balm, sadly it’s also overly used and is Vaseline, rosebud salve and paw paw ointment.

As I studied and learnt more, I realised I’d been duped, and started making my own body oil or ointments so that I could really see what was going in them. I’ve tried a wide variety of oils, however also learnt after investigations that some sadly were also just cheap by-products and not all as healthy as their markcomfrey_oileteers would have us believe.

So after some hit and misses, I’ve settled on organic sunflower/ safflower (and I used it infused with my own comfrey magic mix of herbs), organic coconut oil which naturally is protective of skin against UV rays, and is super moisturising as well as a few drops of Grapefruit essential oils, which not only smells delicious, it’s refreshing and is great for skin and cellulite.

Sometimes to live consciously takes a bit of study, learning from mistakes, and some effort – however in comparison to my own peace of mind, and velvety happy healthy skin it is more than well worth the effort.

I’d suggest you make some of your own, of if you’d like to try mine sometime, you can find it in my own shop under Comfrey Body Oil, click names to follow links.

P.s. and really I am a bit selfish, I’d like my body and the planet to be as healthy and able bodied as long as possible, I believe quality is as important as quantity. To do this we need to look after what we have, after all we only have one body/ planet – and it, she, we deserve looking after ;)

 

 

Top #3 Uses for the Herb Comfrey

comfreyWhile comfrey was mainly used in our history as a healing herb, and it’s from this history it gained its nickname ‘knitbone’ it also has a myriad of other uses as well.

# 1 Healing: it’s history speaks for itself and is knows to support the healing of bones and sprains, while Merck drug company is now also using it in their back pain cream, and it’s listed in the Cochrane review for both back pain and arthritis. To be honest as a easy growing little plant it hasn’t had the comprehensive research it deserves, as keep in mind most research is supported financially by companies that wish to benefit from that research, so my advice is test if for yourself – it supports me as the best all-purpose ointment I’ve come across, and I literally use it for everything….

# 2 Gardening: In the permaculture world it’s most often used a companion plant and as a mulch, in winter while the leaves go dormant the roots get into full swing by pulling up to them the rich nutrients into the surrounding soil, this of course in turn creates a soil which also benefits all the surrounding plants.

#3 Fertiliser: On top of this the leaves are incredibly rich in nitrogen, so are often chopped up or turned into a rich mulch to be fed back into the soil around the garden, this is a sure fire way to give your plants and amazing boost.

There are event stories about farmers feeding the wilted leaves to their cows that improved their health and milk production – which makes it in my eyes a little strange that it is seen as a poison in Australia (one of only 2 countries that give it a bad rap) – while there is little evidence to support this, there is much more overwhelming evidence of the benefits, and no known cases to date of anyone or anything being poisoned by it.  So be sure to do your own investigations and make your own informed decisions.  I highly recommend having some in your garden, and planting some in and around your other plants and see them all flourish.

If you are interested in reading more, there is some permaculture related articles that explain the benefits in more depth, and a link to the Cochrane 60ml_ointment001review.

http://permaculturenews.org/2010/10/01/the-wonderful-multi-purpose-comfrey-plant/

http://permaculturenews.org/2014/03/18/comfrey-really-improve-soil/

https://www.openpermaculture.com/magazine/six-reasons-comfrey-amazing-permaculture-plant

Health Secret # 3, Going Alkaline

alkalinedrinkIt was years ago that I was so energetically drained that my multi-vitamins and weekly massages just weren’t cutting it any more – that I started looking into my diet and came across the book by Dr. Young about the Alkaline diet. And hence thought I would give it a try, while it is hard to eat Alkaline the whole time, it did make me more conscious of adding more raw salad and vegetables to my food, eating more nuts and less processed food.  On top of this I have tested and tried all the Green Alkaline drinks on the market before settling on my favourite, for me this was a huge short cut to getting more off all the good greeness without having to just eat salad all day everyday – the one I love is the Orca Energy Greens, but feel free to go out there and find one that suits you.
As I said I do eat a healthy diet and I do wish and dream of having access to organic food all the time, that is high in their own mineral / vitamin content, however due to our soils and mass farming our food today has a much higher chemical component and lacks many of the nutrients and minerals that it used to have – which is why I decided to try the green powder – I am always happy to try something new, and then drop it if I don’t see or notice a difference. With going Alkaline I noticed it immediately in both my energy levels, and my skin that now has a much more even and healthy tone to it.   I also recommend The Acid-Alkaline Diet for Optimum Health: Restore Your Health by Creating pH Balance in Your Diet – for me it all made perfect sense, and I especially love him saying just add what you can to you diet, the more green and fresh it is the better – to be 100% Alkaline is hard to do, however any small incremental steps we can take to improve our diet and way of life, and these small steps and a bit of conscious living/ eating does make a difference.  I also think it helps when we are aware of our bodies and how the food and drink we ingest makes us feel, did that salad energize or did the burger add to or drain our energy… How does what we are doing make us feel, and as I believe all diets and foods affect us and our genetic history a little differently it’s worth noting and taking the effects on our bodies into account – working in harmony with our body is one of the first steps in being in harmony with life, and for me going alkaline was something that made and continues to make a difference.

I don’t normally recommend products, only when I know or feel and have tested the difference and quality it has made to my own life, if you’d like to try it at a discount, you can get a coupon via this link.  IHerb Orca Energy Greens

If not, just adding more greens and alkaline foods to your diet while cutting out acidic food (coffee, soft drinks, processed foods, dairy etc) will also help make a difference.

If you’d like some more information I recommend this book as a reference: The Acid-Alkaline Diet for Optimum Health: Restore Your Health by Creating pH Balance in Your Diet