Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Elderberries and Hawthorn Berries

Gathering elderberries and Hawthorn berries was the perfect excuse to get out into the wonderful sunshine yesterday. I was gifted with some elderberry cordial a couple of weeks ago, made by my friend Kerry and a handmade gift is always special. So, as I’m stocked up with cordial I decided to make some elixir, one of my favourite ways to take natural medicines, in honey and brandy. Reading one of Kiva Rose’s elderberry posts I realised it could have another benefit to the elixir; Kiva suggests the fruit is more effective when it has not been heated.


 Documented evidence of medicinal usage of elder goes back to the Romans and there have been a couple of studies looking at the effects of elderberry syrup on the flu virus which shows it is indeed effective. The duration of illness in people with flu was shorter and the immune system was boosted, some writers say this was by increased antibody production. Kiva Rose says it “modulates” the immune system rather than stimulates it so people with auto-immune conditions don’t need to worry about increased activity. It seems to be common practice to take elderberry as a preventative medicine in small daily doses. Be careful, too much elderberry can cause nausea.

 To make my elixir was simple, I put the collected berries into a jar and half filled it with honey, gave it a stir, topped it up with brandy and then gave it a good podge with a chop stick to remove any air bubbles. I will leave them about 6 weeks and then strain off the fruit to leave my elixir.

 In Hedgerow Medicine by Julie Bruton-Seal and Matthew Seal there is a recipe for elderberry syrup:
Take your ripe elderberries, add half their volume of water and simmer for 20 minutes, then squeeze out the juice. For each 500ml of fluid add 250mg muscovado sugar, a stick of cinnamon, a few cloves and a few slices of lemon. Simmer for 20 minutes and then use for colds, coughs and flu.

Hawthorn Berries

 Hawthorn’s use as a cardiac medicine dates back to the ancient Greeks and the Native Americans and more recently to an Irish physician, Dr Greene of Ennis who treated heart disease with hawthorn berry tincture.
 The cardiac benefits are believed to be allowing blood vessels to dilate so as the heart pumps more effectively, mild angina relief and stabilisation of an irregular heartbeat. It may also soften fatty deposits in blood vessels that can lead to hardening of the arteries or atherosclerosis.
 Hawthorn is also calming and some use it for insomnia. Several studies report that hawthorn helps to preserve collagen (the protein that makes up connective tissue), which can become damaged in conditions such as arthritis.
 The cardiac effects are thought to be due to the high content flavonoids in the plant, in particular oligomeric procyanidins (OPCs), which strengthen and dilate capillaries, resulting in increased blood flow and oxygen to the heart area, relieving hypertension and pressure.
 On the emotional side hawthorn is still a heart healer, helping with emotional pain and being able to open up one’s heart
 I made a tincture with brandy; I simply popped the berries into a jam jar and covered them with alcohol where they will infuse for about a month.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Shark Fin Soup and Shark Fin Melons

My hubby was watching the news earlier and something really grabbed my attention; Richard Branson was in China starting a campaign to dissuade the Chinese from eating Shark Fin Soup, a dish prized as one that Emperors used to dine on. Then we saw fishermen on their boats cutting all the fins off sharks while they were still alive and then throwing them back into the sea where they presumably drowned, a very sickening sight.
 This was the second time in the last few months that I had heard about this practice but I hadn’t realised the sharks were mutilated whilst still alive. At our monthly gardening lesson in August our teacher, Joyce had four Shark Fin Melon plants up for grabs and as I was one of the first to arrive I was honoured with receiving one to put in our allotment. I must admit I said thank you very much but wondered what I’d accepted, I’m not that keen on melon.

Our Shark Fin Melon Plant

 I found out that Shark Fin Melon (Cucurbita ficifolia) is not used as a fruit but as a vegetable, grown in a similar manner to squashes. The name has been given because the strands inside are scraped out and made into a broth that resembles the texture of Shark Fin Soup. The flavour, I’m told, is mild and of melon and cucumber. Joyce said that Shark Fin Melon was being promoted as an alternative to using actual shark fins in soup; I suddenly wanted to grow lots of these melons and donate them to any Chinese restaurant with Shark Fin Soup on the menu!
 Joyce had received the seeds for these plants from Garden Organic who are trying to promote growing plants that are not usually grown in this area with their Sowing New Seeds project. The seeds for our plants originate from the allotment of a Vietnamese couple and if we get any fruit we have decided to save seeds to carry this on as there seem to be few suppliers offering them. Our plant has no flowers yet and is a tender perennial so I fear it may have been transplanted out too late but it has been a learning experience and I have not given up hope yet either.
 I’m sure Richard Branson will have far more success saving sharks than I will with my allotment, I wonder if he knows about Shark Fin Melon? But I can help by spreading the word: eat melons not sharks!

Life and the Herb Festival

 “Life is what happens when your plans go wrong” is a favourite saying of my friend Iain. My husband and I went down to the Cotswolds the second weekend in September for Sarah Head’s Herb Festival. A great weekend was planned out before me, lots of “doing things”, listening to speakers and giving a talk myself on Sunday afternoon about aromatherapy. Unfortunately Saturday lunchtime "life" happened, someone drove into my eldest and 32 week pregnant daughter’s car as she was driving along with her husband and 2 year old. My daughter and son-in-law were taken to hospital so I had to dash back to help.
 Until then I’d had a good morning; first of all I dug up some horseradish to go in Fire Cider Vinegar, I think I could now identify it anywhere! Other attendees were also harvesting, I saw calendula, elderberries and dandelion roots.

Horse Radish Harvest

 Lucinda Warner did a wonderful talk about the external use of herbs, I was really interested and could have sat and listened to her all day. I tend to forget the difference between a compress and a poultice and I think she has managed to organise this muddled part of my brain.
A compress uses an infusion of a herb on the skin rather than the whole herb; there are lots of different types though.
A poultice is made of the whole herb and is also used on the skin.
This seems so simple I don’t know how I kept getting them mixed up before and if this was all I’d gained from Lucinda’s talk I’d have been happy but she managed to get a lot into her hours talk.
Tea Infusions
A tea infusion can be used on the skin; this is an infusion of herbs and hot water made twice as strong as a tea you would drink. This is suitable for washing over large areas of skin especially cooling and soothing red and irritated skin. It could be cooled and used on sunburn or hot itchy conditions and is suitable for children or the elderly.
Compresses are very useful for hot conditions; salves with bees wax keep in heat and reduce the oxygen that can get to the skin.
Make by soaking a cloth in the tea infusion and placing over the affected area. For a chest infection Lavender and thyme would be warming and drying. Comfrey is an example for sprains, hot and cold compresses could be alternated for a minute each. For the digestive system chamomile, ginger and cardamom are useful herbs. Ginger tea can be used as a kidney compress. To keep the heat in a warm compress you can put a towel over and a hot water bottle.
 Oil compresses are made in the same way, just put warmed oil onto a flannel and place over desired area. Castor oil is decongesting for heavy periods, start to use a few days before the period is due and can also decongest the liver.
Vinegars can be used; rose vinegar mixed with 50% water is cooling for sunburn.
Baths, Footbaths and Hand baths
Maurice Mességué, is a famous French herbalist and practices a form of herbalism passed down through his family, I hadn’t heard of him before Lucinda mentioned him.  His practices involve, among other things, soaking the patient's feet or hands in a strong decoction of locally gathered herbs and he seems to have some famous people among his clients. We have learnt about foot baths at our herb workshops and my husband daren’t sniff or show any sign of a cold unless he wants his feet in a bowl of ginger tea.
A thyme footbath can be used for chest infections and chronic bronchitis, ginger and black pepper for circulation, black pepper for chilblains and a strong calendula infusion with lavender can help foot problems. We can absorb a lot through the skin on our feet, Lucinda mentioned the garlic test; rub garlic on the soles of your feet and after about half an hour you can taste it in your mouth.
Oats in the bath can help sore dry skin and children with eczema. There was a discussion about different ways to do this; put porridge oats in muslin and hang under the tap, grind first in a blender for a creamy bath, use the muslin bag to rub over skin after it has been under the taps and powder oats and make into little muslin bags that can be used on the face.
The simplest poultice is a spit poultice, simply chew the herb then put it on the area needed. Dock can go on a nettle sting, yarrow on cuts and grazes. I once took some friends to the Herb Sanctuary and we stopped on the way for breakfast, coffee and croissants on a supermarket car park and a wasp stung a friend on the tongue. We hurried on to Sarah who suggested a plantain spit poultice which helped the swelling and pain and was so easily accessible.
You can mash your herbs in a mortar and pestle or pop them into a blender with a little water and apply them to an affected area with a square of muslin and a bandage over the top, refresh every 15 minutes and keep it moist. Comfrey can be used on broken bones and sprains; honey is a nice binding agent in any poultice. Lucinda made a poultice mixture and passed it round, my neighbour put a bit on a cut on her hand and at the end of the talk it fell off, she could not believe how much smaller her wound looked.
Kitchen cupboard poultices include cabbage leaves which Lucinda recommended for mastitis. Simply bruise the leaves and place on the skin. I have seen a cabbage leaf poultice used before for eczema. The leaf was bruised, placed on an arm with the stalk end downwards, a layer of cling film was put over it and then it was bandaged into position, when we checked after an hour or two the redness on the ladies arm was subsiding.
Powdered Herbs
Powdered herbs can be sprinkled onto minor wounds to dry them out and heal them; yarrow is first choice along with plantain, lavender and calendula which helps to stop the spread of infection.
I don’t think I was ever quite sure what was in a liniment either. It is made from an alcohol infusion or half alcohol infusion and half infused oil. It is a liquid rub, vigorously rub the affected area to stimulate circulation and bring blood to the surface. It could contain rosemary and help with aches and pains. Liniments are also used on horses.
Infused Oils
Oils can be infused by the windowsill method where herbs are placed in a jar with oil and left to infuse for a few weeks. It is best to cover the jar with muslin instead of a jar lid to allow any water from the plant to escape and prevent mould. A popular method is to double infuse. Put half of your plant material in the top of a double boiler or bain-marie and cover with oil, after 2 hours strain the oil, put the other half of the herb in the pan and cover it with the oil which has already been infused once. After another 2 hours strain off the plant material again and you have your oil. This oil can then be used in a salve if desired, 10g of beeswax to 90ml infused oil.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Herbs For Joint Problems

Research the construction and mechanism of various joints within the body including knees, shoulders, hands and feet. Look at structures, degeneration and auto-immune conditions. What herbs and protocols are useful for these conditions?
The knee contains synovial, hinge and gliding joints. The lower (distal) end of the femur meets the upper (proximal) ends of the tibia and fibula. There is also a kneecap or patella. Synovial joints have a space between the articulating surfaces and these articulating surfaces are characteristically covered by smooth cartilage. Synovial joints are surrounded by the sleeve like Articular Capsule, which allows a certain amount of movement. The lining of the capsule is called the Synovial Membrane and this secretes synovial fluid which lubricates the joint and provides nourishment to the cartilage. Ligaments surround the joint giving stability.

Knee Joint

The shoulder joint is formed by the head of the humerus fitting into the glenoid cavity of the scapula and it is a ball and socket joint, the head of the humerus being the ball. There is an Articular Capsule around the joint which is surrounded by many ligaments; the shoulder has a wide range of movement.

Shoulder X-Ray

The bones in the hands consist of carpals which are nearest to the wrist, metacarpals which extend towards the fingers and then the phalanges of the fingers. The joints between the carpals are gliding synovial joints which have flat articulating surfaces. The joints between the phalanges are hinge joints and bend as a hinge would. At the base of the thumb between the carpal and metacarpal is a saddle joint. One bone is saddle shaped and the other is shaped like a rider sitting on it.

Hand Bones

The feet have tarsal bones nearest to the ankle and the long bones leading towards the toes are metatarsals. The toe bones are phalanges like the fingers. The intertarsal joints are synovial gliding joints and the toes have hinge joints.

Foot Bones

Joint Problems
Rheumatism – refers to any painful state of the supporting structures of the body such as bones, ligaments, tendons and muscles.
Arthritis – is a form of rheumatism in which the joints have become inflamed, there are three main types:
Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease where the body attacks the cartilage and joint linings leading to swollen joints, reduced function and pain. Treatment is aimed at reducing pain and inflammation and can include anti-inflammatory drugs, steroids, exercise, physiotherapy, heat and if the joint is badly damaged, surgery.
Todd Caldecott says treatment of RA in the Western herbal tradition focuses on measures to restore digestion, promote elimination and restore integrity to the joints. Bitters like Gentian are used for digestion and can be used with carminatives such as Caraway or Fennel to improve digestion. Diuretics such as Birch leaf are used to enhance elimination from the kidneys. Alteratives and cholagogues are used including Burdock and Dandelion. Circulatory stimulants like Ginger increase circulation in the joints and reduce stagnation. For joint restoration look to herbs with high mineral content, Seaweed, Nettle and horsetail.


Richard Mabey suggests Liquorice and Wild Yam to support the adrenal glands which are a source of natural anti-inflammatory hormones.
Osteoarthritis (OA)
This form of arthritis is more common and less damaging than RA and occurs with aging, joint irritation and wear and tear. Cartilage in the joints is worn away to leave bone surfaces, spurs grow on the bone into the joint space which causes pain and reduces movement. There is not the inflammation seen in RA and it strikes the big joints first unlike RA which attacks small joints first.
David Hoffman says anti-rheumatics will usually help but their selection must be based upon a sound therapeutic rationale, a traditional European remedy is the Nettle both internally and externally by stinging the affected joints. Other specifics are Bogbean or Buckbean and Devils Claw. He sees anti-inflammatory herbs as fundamental as their use will not only ease symptoms but helps to stop degenerative changes to bony tissue. In O.A., the salicylate based herbs are especially helpful such as Willow bark and Meadowsweet. Other anti-inflammatories include Angelica and Devils Claw. Circulatory stimulants and rubifacients will help improve healing by increasing the blood supply to the area. Analgesic herbs may ease the pain but the problem will still be there. For the stress of living with constant pain and discomfort nervines such as celery seed might help which is also anti-spasmodic and diuretic. Hypnotics could help if sleep is disturbed by pain. Hoffman suggests using diuretics such as Celery seed and Yarrow to help the kidneys and for the bowels, bitters or hepatics such as Yarrow and Devils Claw to help support the other body systems.


Gouty Arthritis
Uric acid, a waste product of the body, builds up in the blood and forms crystals in the cartilage of the joints causing acute pain, swelling and inflammation. If not treated the ends of bones fuse together and the joint is immovable. This is most common in middle-aged and older men and has been linked to genetics, a rich diet, stress, climate and environmental factors. A chemical called colchicine, derived from the saffron or Autumn Crocus, has been used since the sixth century to reduce pain, swelling and tissue destruction. Other drugs used are for the purpose of reducing the production of uric acid. Rest and anti-inflammatory medication can bring relief.
 David Hoffman says that diuretic herbs are important as they can flush the urates from the body. Sometimes the build-up of uric acid is due to poor kidney function. The only anti-rheumatic herbs that could help are those with diuretic properties such as Celery seed. Anti-inflammatories may help in small amounts but Hoffman says the inflammation is an appropriate body response which once again, in conventional medicine we would try to reduce. He says that legal herbal analgesics do not have much effect in gout. Generally, elimination needs to be good or support given to the liver and kidneys.
Todd Caldecott does advocate anti-inflammatories in a bid to restore joint function; he mentions Black Cohosh (Actaea racemosa), Wild Yam (Dioscorea villosa), Ash (Fraxinus excelsior), Liquorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra), Lignum Vitae (Guaiacum officinale), Devil’s Claw (Harpagophytum procumbens), Buckbean (Menyanthes trifoliata), Trembling Aspen (Populus tremuloides), Tanacetum and Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera). As topical rubefacients applied topically as a poultice, medicated oil, or volatile oil in joint oedema with little indication of active inflammation, he includes Ginger (Zingiber), Cayenne (Capsicum), Mustard seed (Brassica spp.), Peppermint (Mentha piperita) and Jimsonweed (Datura).


 Richard Mabey inThe New Age Herbalist suggests a recipe for gout; 1 part each of Burdock root, purple cone-flower, Birch leaves, Centaury and Devils Claw and ½ part of Celery seed.

Purple Cone-Flower or Echinacea

General Arthritis Information
Richard Mabey says that in all forms of arthritis treat the person not the condition. Nutrition is important to make sure all the nutrients are there for repair. He says anti-inflammatories such as Bogbean are important for all types of arthritis. A decoction of Devils Claw three times a day for six weeks could reduce inflammation.
 Mabey also says arthritis may be triggered by chronic anxiety and tension; herbs to nurture the nervous system include Cramp bark, Wild Oats, Skullcap and Vervain. Local remedies include Capsicum plasters or Cabbage and Comfrey poultices which stimulate circulation and encourage healing.


Paul Bergner points out that herbal treatment will take weeks to start to have an effect. The main herbs he uses in the treatment of arthritis are Alteratives, Mild Diuretics, Laxatives, and Nutritive herbs. Alteratives are tonic herbs to restore a normal balance to the system. Alteratives also act at cellular level to restore balance. Three alteratives suggested for long term use in arthritis are Dandelion, Nettle, and Burdock; they need to be taken for at least 6 weeks. Dandelion and Nettle have diuretic properties. Juniper is also good for use in arthritis as it also a bitter principles to help the digestive system; it should not be used with kidney disease or during pregnancy. Bergner says the theme of natural treatment for arthritis should be to “nourish, build and tonify”. Nettle has nutritive, alterative, and diuretic qualities. Another nutritive herb with mild diuretic properties is Alfalfa.
Chanchal Cabrera says correct nutrition and detoxifying the body are important. Alterative herbs suggested are; Yellow dock, Barberry, Pokeroot, Burdock, Nettle, Kelp and Cleavers. Cabrera only uses diuretics which encourage uric acid removal; Celery, Parsley and Birch. Cabrera says that herbal anti-inflammatories do not supress natural processes and there is a variety of sources; salicylic anti-inflammatories include Willow, Meadowsweet, Poplar and Black Haw; saponin containing herbs promote production of anti-inflammatory cortisol from the adrenal glands, these include Liquorice, Wild Yam and Black Cohosh; volatile oil containing herbs for example bisabolol and chamaezulene in Chamomile are present in chamomile; fatty acids lead to reduced inflammation and are in Evening Primrose, Blackcurrant and Borage; plant resins can have an anti-inflammatory effect on joints and are present in Devil’s Claw, Bogbean and Arbor Vitae. I found this really useful in understanding how herbs that are anti-inflammatory work and realised there are many different ways in which they work.


Sprains and Strains
Sprains occur when the joint is wrenched or twisted beyond its usual capacity causing damage to blood vessels, muscles, tendons, ligaments or nerves. A strain is the over stretching of a muscle. Symptoms include pain, inflammation and reduced movement, severe sprains can be so painful that the joint cannot be moved.
 Kiva Rose has her Choice Injury Herbs; Comfrey is excellent for ligament damage on intact skin; she favours Goldenrod over Arnica for pulled or strained muscles; Plantain is healing and pain relieving for sprains and Snakeweed is advocated for arthritis and sprains but I don’t know of it in Britain.


Sports Injuries
A common knee injury occurs in footballers after a knock to the side of the knee which can rupture ligaments and tear cartilage.
Todd Caldecott explains how nutrients from food rather than supplements are beneficial for sporting injuries and minerals obtained from seaweed, horsetail and seaweed can help prevent and treat them. Having worked in trauma and orthopaedics for 16 years I am very aware of the routine treatment for joint injuries of ice, compression and anti-inflammatories but Caldecott says this can lead to chronic problems, to get the area to heal we need to encourage blood flow to the area. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) rubefacient liniments are used on intact skin. Ayurvedic medicine uses specialised massage, medicated oils and yoga for injuries. In my aromatherapy practice I massage rubefacient essential oils into specific areas. In Western herbalism Caldecott states arnica is used to promote circulation and reduce inflammation; Chickweed, Selfheal, Comfrey, St John’s Wort and Calendula for bruising; St John’s Wort and Cow Parsnip root for pain; Hawthorn, Rosehips and Bilberries for tissue healing. Caldecott lists John Christopher’s Bone, Flesh and Cartilage formula to be used internally or externally in appropriate preparations with equal parts of the following:
•Oak bark (Quercus alba)
•Marshmallow root (Althaea officinalis)
•Mullein herb (Verbascum thapsus)
•Wormwood herb (Artemisia vulgaris)
•Lobelia herb (Lobelia inflata)
•Skullcap herb (Scutellaria lateriflora)
•Comfrey (Symphytum officinalis)
•Black Walnut leaf (Juglans nigra)
•Gravel root (Eupatorium purpurea)

Housemaid’s Knee or Carpet Layer’s Knee otherwise known as Bursitis can occur after spending a great amount of time kneeling. The bursa is made of smooth connective tissue which helps the joint to glide. It can also occur in other joints such as the elbow (Tennis elbow) and shoulder. Symptoms include pain, swelling and reduced movement. Bursitis can also be caused by trauma, infection or rheumatoid arthritis.
 Again, David Hoffman has good information; the main herbs for pain relief will be anti-inflammatories and anti-spasmodics. Salicylate anti-inflammatories include Meadowsweet and Willow bark and a general anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic is Celery seed. Again local blood circulation can be increased by using rubefacients.

Monday, 5 September 2011

SAD and Herb Pillows

Make a SAD syrup or tincture from Lemon balm and SJW. What other herbs might you combine to make a sleep pillow or SAD tonic vinegar/elixir?
When I received this task I took advantage of my St John’s Wort being in flower and an abundance of self-seeded Lemon Balm and made a tincture. It should be ready to strain now; I will need to taste it as I had a slight mishap. I filled my jar halfway with SJW flowers and topped it up with chopped lemon balm leaves as planned but I decided to use vodka as the menstrum and just before the top I ran out. The only other thing I had to hand was brandy so I hope it’s all mixed OK, doesn’t sound very tasty but I think it might help to pick up mood in people feeling low or depressed.
Lemon Balm

 Seasonal Affective Disorder (or SAD) is a particular type of depression induced by a lack of light, so the onset is in the autumn and wintertime as the nights draw in. A disrupted body clock (circadian rhythm) may cause depression and lethargy. In addition, low serotonin (neurotransmitters carrying messages to the brain) and melatonin levels (the hormone which makes us sleep) can be found in people suffering from SAD which lead to low mood and poor sleep.
 In Matthew Wood’s Book of Herbal Wisdom he feels Calendula might help and looks back at the old English practice of putting Calendula flowers in soup in the wintertime. I’d never heard of this myself but I do love making soups and I shall try it. Wood says it will help immunity by cleansing the lymphatics so it could help keep winter colds and coughs away as well.
Calendula Flowers

Julie Bruton-Seal and Matthew Seal in Hedgerow Medicine say a spoonful  of St. John’s Wort tincture “will light you up inside with a warm glow” , bringing back some summer light and warmth could be a lift on darker days. Wood remarks on the golden yellow colour of SJW flowers which indicates its use for all types of depression, including SAD. He suggests that a tincture catches the best ingredients in SJW.
 In 1996 German researchers released results of trials using St. John’s Wort as a successful antidepressant. Following this, British researchers did a trial with people experiencing SAD using either light therapy alone or light therapy combined with SJW. There was a slight but not significant improvement with the participants who had both light and SJW but those that had received the SJW as well reported more restful and refreshing sleep (Michael Castleman, The New Healing Herbs).
St. John's Wort

 The first thing that springs to my mind for a sleep pillow is hops. At a workshop on a lovely summer’s day last year Sarah kindly gave us some hops, but on the way home in the warm car myself and friends Kerry and Maria were all complaining of feeling really tired, we then we realised that the hops were taking effect. We spent the rest of the journey making sure I didn’t fall asleep at the wheel! Hop pillows are reported to have been used by King George III and Abraham Lincoln.

 A herbal sleep pillow is made to be placed near to where you sleep, under your usual pillow or inside the pillow case with your pillow.
 Lavender is known to be relaxing and is often used in sleep pillows. A few drops of lavender oil can have the same effect but too much has the opposite effect and is stimulating.
I have a lovely little book called Making Herbal Dream Pillows by Jim Long, he says that Rosemary adds feelings of warmth and safety to dreams and leads to peaceful sleep. His peaceful slumber recipe has ¼ cup Rose petals, ¼ cup Rosemary, ¼ cup Lavender flowers, ¼ cup of hops.
 Julie Bruton-Seal and Matthew Seal in Hedgerow Medicine suggest using St. John’s Wort in a herb pillow to be used for nightmares, bad dreams and fear of the dark, use the dried leaves and flowers. They also give instructions for a Wood Betony pillow: “Sew a small cloth bag, leaving one end open. Fill loosely with dried wood betony leaves. Some dried lavender or rose petals can be added for their fragrance. Stitch or tie up the open end, and place the bag under your pillow.” This is recommended for insomnia or nightmares.
 Other herbs to consider for insomnia are Catnip, Lemon Balm (and the essential oil), Valerian, Motherwort, Passionflower, Skullcap, Wild Lettuce, Mullein, Lime flower, Mugwort, Sweet Marjoram and Yarrow.