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A visit to the Snowdrop Festival

Its February 10th and a small group of us (actually three) are braving the weather to visit a beautiful Snowdrop Festival at The Garden House near Tavistock. I am blissed out because I am in the unusual position of being in a garden with other people who love being in a garden, and not my family who are bored after five minutes and wanting to go to leave/get cake/go to the pub! There was cake (Victoria sponge – rude not to) also stunning paper birch trees, lots of hellebore and crocus beds, tiny gushing waterfalls, a Lord of the Rings type tower, an arboretum and even a magic circle. We took refuge in the café for lunch and had our select meeting.

Sara was wanting ideas for tech support with building a website (now launched –phew! – check out plymouthherbalist.com) and Zarah, as a recently qualified herbalist [via Betonica], was asking about business ideas. Sara recommended both Lucy Jones after her brilliant talk at the School of Herbal Medicine, and to get Hannah Charman’s book ‘Minted’ for ideas and particularly to have a realistic
pricing structure. Peter talked about taking time to connect with the herbs one is using; also he finds drugs.com easier to look up conventional medicines clients are on, rather than the BNP.

A visiting plant specialist was selling irresistibly beautiful daffodils (pictured with Zarah). And I was thinking how this wasn’t strictly about medicinal plants, when on Countryfile this week (19.2.24), Dr Sue Berge OBE (former director of Clinical studies at Oxford University) was talking about how a tradition in Russia of rubbing snowdrop bulbs on the forehead to relieve headache, led to research into snowdrop leaves and bulbs. Galantanine was found to have some effect on Alzheimer’s and has led to a licenced treatment.

8/12/23 – South Devon Herbalists Meeting – Bowden House Community Room, Totnes. Report by Sara Hills, additions by Peter Neumann. Present:  Sophie, Tara, Dawn, Cathy, Annie, Peter, Sara.

Visits: We visited the Garden House (see report), then later in summer we’ll visit Castle Drogo, Drewsteignton. Sara also traced to trace ‘Mel’ the herb plants seller: @Wyseworts Nursery, near Totnes TQ9 6EB.

Peter made us a ‘Good morning’ tea with Fennel, Plantain, Angelica, Glechoma and Hogweed seeds (nice!)  Dawn had brought Elderberry kombucha – delicious and interesting!

Peter gave a presentation of the recent CPP Schedule 20 Conference that he attended in November. We hadn’t realised that ‘Part 1’ schedule 20s are herbs that we’re not allowed to use at all internally, such as Male Fern and Poison Ivy.  The ones we can use, the ‘Part 2s’, have been reviewed recently by the EHTPA; and the maximum tincture doses slightly changed, such as Atropa (herba) from 10 to 10.5ml. We liked the simplicity of the A. herba dose staying at 10 simply for the ease of learning it, whilst respecting the need to update things. At the Conference a recent survey of 90+ practicing herbalists was presented that showed Ephedra and Lobelia were the most popular Schedule 20s used.

We considered the ‘Yellow card’ reporting system – amongst the 5 practicing herbalists present at our meeting only one of us had ever sent this in, and it was so long ago they couldn’t remember what it was for!  We also discussed Kava; which is like a Part 1 herb still not legal in the UK, and Germany, despite much work on gaining re-acceptance of this valuable herb.

At the conference Simon Mills had talked about Lobelia as a stimulant to digestion, likening it to de-sooting a chimney; getting the [vital] fire burning properly; and long term lobelia is frequently helped by some more heat provided by cayenne or ginger!  Robyn Soma gave a case history of a 100+ year old woman, with signs of heart failure, whose longevity and independence was helped with Convallaria.  Jackie Saul-Hunt had found creative ways to give Chelidonium as an aperitif for digestive issues, and Datura for Parkinsons’ in a separate dropper bottle to use as a strong dose as required, but to keep it within the maximum weekly dose overall.

Annie described how Dedj Leibrandt at festival first aid used simples and one-off doses such as Gelsemium for eg. headaches and period pain. Peter was so pleased that he had gone to this Conference, and he finished his report with some well presented case histories from Chris Etheridge and Anita Ralph.

One of us asked if anyone had experience of treating peripheral neuropathy, particularly with the pain of this condition – Dawn had used a topical cream containing Wintergreen, Atropa, Arnica, Aconite (1:10) (at 13% this will give less than 1.3% permitted in the final preparation). Amanita, the fungus, in drop doses, was one suggestion. Also internally, giving Lions Mane medicinal mushroom.