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Herbal Medicine

In the Steps of the Physicians of Myddfai

It’s a fair old trek up the stunningly beautiful hills around the tranquil Carmarthenshire village of Myddfai in Wales, and the undulating landscape gave me a tremendous respect for the herbalists who had trodden those paths before me. I wondered whether their health was fortified by the fresh air and daily demands of climbing the hills to gather the herbs for their clinic, or if they would become weakened by the challenges of unforgiving elements, frequent wind and rain and an obligation to their community to fetch freshly harvested medicines.

For those who are unfamiliar with the legend of the Physicians of Myddfai, they seem to have come to prominence when Lord Rhys (the man who instigated the Eisteddfod) established a centre of healing known as the ‘Strata Florida’ meaning ‘layers of flowers’ in 1177. Lord Rhys’ phyician and his 3 sons were given land in the village of Myddfai in return for their medical services to the community. The medicinals were all locally grown natural products, primarily for headache, sunburn, swelling, pains, coughs and sneezing (presumably allergies!).

Their reputation spread across all of Wales and Myddfai became known as a hub of learning and of the healing arts which attracted visitors seeking remedies for over 100 years.

Legend has it that a farmer saw a beautiful lady by the lake (llyn y fan fach) and he asked her to marry him, not knowing or understanding that she had magical powers. Eventually she agreed on one condition: that if he struck her three times, then she would return to the lake. Over time, this came to pass and after he had indeed struck her 3 times, she returned to the depths of the lake. The farmer was heartbroken, as were their 3 sons.

Following the legend of The Lady of The Lake and the Physicians of Myddfai, I wanted to indulge in the magical waters that herbalists have drunk from before me!

The legend goes on to say that all 3 sons had inherited their mothers magical knowledge by visiting the lake, peering into the depths and receiving her wisdom. They had the chance to become warriors, but instead they became renowned healers.

Since that time, it is believed that anyone who goes to the source of the lake and drinks the water can also be blessed with the magical healing gifts of the Lady of the Lake, so of course when I moved to Wales, that is exactly what I did and I offered up a little prayer to the herbalists who have served the communities here before me, that I may be blessed with their permission to continue their wonderful work.

Health & Wellness News Herbal Medicine Wise Women & Medicine Men

Acupuncture for Acne and herbal remedies you can do at home.

Acupuncture for Acne and herbal remedies you can do at home.

Acupuncture for acne and herbal remedies you can do at home.

The skin is the largest organ in our body and has a very important role in the elimination of toxins, so in Chinese Medicine, any skin condition is a symptom of something else in the body being out of balance and an attempt by the body to restore homeostasis.

At Barefoot Medicine, Simone approaches acne by using acupuncture to reduce the pain and inflammation, herbal remedies to rid the body of the toxins and restore the moisture and nourishment to the skin.  She will also give you nutritional advice and recommendations for you to follow at home to get the gut bacteria restored which will help the body to restore and maintain homeostasis across all the body systems to reduce the risk of recurrence.

Most of the research into acupuncture and acne has been conducted in China, but of the studies in the West the indications are that acupuncture helps to reduce inflammation, increase local micro-circulation and regulate the immune response. 

In my experience, acne can respond extremely well to Chinese medicine, but ithere are also may things you can do to help yourself at home.

What you can do at home to help reduce acne

  • Change your pillows and sheets as frequently as possible, maybe every 2 days, so as to prevent bacterial infection in the lesions from worsening.
  • Instead of using specialist soaps which dry out the oils in the skin, make your own from oats!  Take a pair of old tights or stockings and fill them with tightly packed oats and use it as a sponge.  Oats contain natural saponins which will lather up like soap, but the oils in it are extremely good for the skin and very gentle and soothing.
  • Reduce or if possible eliminate the amount of hot, spicy food you eat and try to have a ‘clean’ diet with food that s as close to natural as possible.  Obviously avoid all processed foods which have no beneficial qualities in whatsoever!

If you would like to book an initial consultation and treatment, please click on the Book Appointment tab at the top of the page where you will be guided to my calendar and you can book or reschedule your appointment at your convenience.

Acupuncture Health & Wellness News Herbal Medicine

Why herbal antibiotics will always be better than pharmaceutical ones

Why herbal antibiotics will always be better than pharmaceutical ones

We are at that time of year again when children go back to school and within weeks whole families start going down with ‘winter bugs’ that are spread in the playgrounds and are brought home by snotty-nosed children.  Bacteria forms, mutates and evolves so very much faster than they can be identified in the lab that by the time any hope of an antidote has been developed, the thing it is trying to overcome has changed, so the scientists are forever playing catch-up.

Clearly the Western Medicine approach is not and cannot work when we are faced with such a huge epidemic of winter bugs every year and such a massive strain is put on our healthcare system every Winter. 

The answer, I believe, lies in strengthening our own immune systems because it is only our own body that can evolve quickly enough to combat mutations.  Given the right environment – microbiome – our gut bacteria can evolve faster than airborne bacteria that we can catch for one simple reason:  our body’s early warning systems.  An airborne pathogen will enter our body via our nose or mouth as we inhale.  The mucous membranes identify it as a pathogen and trigger an immune response.  In the case of pollen, for example, the immune response is simply to sneeze to blow it out, but stronger pathogens will require our immune system to respond at a deeper level with changes in our physiology that enable us to ‘attack’ the invading germs. 

Given that our immune system is predominantly based around our gut bacteria, a healthy diet with a wide range of bacteria will be able to adapt and respond very quickly, which means that the more we protect our microbiome IN ADVANCE of the winter season, the less likely we are to fall ill, or if we do succumb, we will have a faster recovery time.

Hippocrates was, as we know, the father of medicine and he is renowned for saying that we should all use our food as our medicine.  However, there are times when a regular diet is not enough because although that will maintain homeostasis, it will not be adequate to mount an attack against an abnormal surge of pathogens.  This is when we need to supplement our regular diet with extra nutrients and it is at this point that herbal medicine comes into its own.

Garlic is well-reputed for its antibacterial properties, but many other herbs are far more effective for specific ailments.   In general nutrition, garlic is going to strengthen our gut, our immune system and make the microbiome inhospitable for various pathogens including the common cold, however its main use is in lowering blood pressure and lowering cholesterol levels and other herbs would be more appropriate but may not have the widespread reputation and easy availability of garlic.

Think of your digestive system like an internal eco-system:  a healthy and well-balanced eco-system will thrive even when here are plagues and it will self-regulate if one species starts to take over.  Our gut is exactly the same and has a tremendous ability to adapt very quickly and there are certain herbs known as ‘adaptogens’ that facilitate this function. That means that rather than having anti (against) biotics (the biota or live bacteria in our gut) that we can help our body to adapt to an ever-changing environment instead of just killing EVERYTHING that is alive in it, whether good or bad.

One side-effect of killing everything with antibiotics is that after a course of them, most people experience diarrhoea or constipation.  You can often tell what is going on inside the gut by examining what comes out of it!  Clearly, it is not normal or healthy to have diarrhoea so something must be out of balance and need to be regulated.  This means that if you have a course of ANTI-biotics, then you must always follow it with a course of PRO-biotics or foods that are rich in good bacteria such as fermented foods.

So rather than reaching for the medicine cabinet when you feel ill, why not look at your body’s own internal pharmacy and give it the best nutrition you possibly can so that your gut bacteria can take care of infections itself.  It is a cheaper, faster and more effective and efficient way to stay healthy, but the pharmaceutical companies will never tell you about it because keeping your healthy is not what keeps them in business.

If you would like to know more about particular antibacterial herbs, then please follow Barefoot Medicine on facebook and feel free to ask me questions about the posts, or to make suggestions about future topics that you would like me to cover.

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