Herbal Health Information on Pellitory of the Wall (Parietaria Diffusa)

I found this on a walk in Pevensey Castle growing on the walls.

Pellitory of the Wall, Pevensey

Pellitory is rich in Sulphur, Calcium, Potassium, and other trace minerals.

It has a soothing diuretic action on the urinary system but the clever bit is it is also a stone solvent.

A few years ago I had a patient come to me with her kidney X-rays and pointed out a stone she had in her Kidney. She did not want to have an operation immediately, but wanted to try Herbal Medicine to dissolve the stone.

I saw her over a period of six months, over which time I gave her a mixture of herbs in tincture form, two of which were Pellitory and Stone Root (Collinsonia Canadensis).

I was expecting her to complain bitterly as passing gravel from dissolving stones is apparently very painful and can cause damage to the tubes of the urinary system when it is passing through.

She never complained about pain on passing urine but said she steadily felt better with an improved urine flow over the months she was taking the herbal tincture.

At the end of the six months she had another Kidney X-ray, which showed the stone had completely dissolved and been passed out of the system.

We were both very happy people!!

Linda Bostock

Medical Herbalist Dip. Phyt.

Herbal Health Information on Oak (Quercus Rubus)

If someone said to you “name an English tree” the Oak would be the first one you would think of. It is so beautiful with large spreading branches and pretty wavy edged leaves. The fruit is the Acorn and it is this, as well as the bark that is used medicinally.

These parts of the oak are very high in tannins (same as in tea). Tannins are astringent, meaning they tone up membranes. The oak also has antiseptic and anti inflammatory properties.

It makes an excellent mouthwash and is used to tone up the gut in cases of chronic diarrhoea and colitis.

Acorns can be dried and roasted then ground up to make a coffee. They are bitter, though, so are an acquired taste but I do know they were used extensively during the war as a coffee substitute, or to make coffee go further.

An example can be seen in the Herstmonceux video click here

Linda Bostock

Medical Herbalist

Horsechestnut (Aesculus Hippocastnum)

Another very English tree loved by all conker playing experts.

The nut and bark are the parts used medicinally. They contain hippoaesculin and other saponins. Saponins produce a soap like frothing effect when shaken with water.

I am never without the tincture on my shelves as it is one of very few herbs that tones and protects blood vessels. So it goes in all Varicose Vein and Haemorrhoid mixtures and creams that I make up.

An example can be seen in the Herstmonceaux video click here

Linda Bostock

Medical Herbalist

Herbal Health Information on Rheumatism

Rheumatism is a very similar condition to arthritis but affects muscles as well as joints.

Sadly by the time Rheumatism sufferers come to see me they have usually had the condition for many years resulting in degeneration (breakdown) of the joint lining and stiffening of the muscles. They have a long history of taking strong anti inflammatories, pain killers and possibly steroids. I know the joints and muscles are painful and inflamed but pain tells us when to stop doing something and if it is masked then there is a possibility the joint is used beyond its capability causing further damage to the joint itself.

So my first advice is to always be aware of the limitations of a rheumatic joint and only use it as much as is comfortable.

Many people report that it is worsened by damp weather so keeping warm and dry in cold damp weather is important.

The Romans found England too cold for them and imported nettles to grow. They then used to flail their joints with the nettles!! This increased the circulation to the joint warming them up. I DO NOT RECOMMEND DOING THIS. I tried it once and it is very painful and then you are left with the sting for ages. We have the Romans to thank for nettles and garden snails!!

Diet is very important but different people find their condition may react to different foods. The norm is to radically reduce the intake of dairy and wheat and never eat any Tomatoes and Oranges. The acid in these two foods is not broken down by the body so creates an acidic environment which is not good for joints and the urinary system. Many rheumatism sufferers find eating meat will increase inflammation. The message here is to keep an eye on your diet to see if any foods do make your rheumatism worse. If they do, you may have to visit a nutritionist to cut out these food substances while maintaining a healthy diet.

Drink loads of water.

Any inflammatory condition I approach in the same way

  • Ensure the digestive system is working well to break down food and eliminate toxins
  • Improve joint circulation
  • Make sure the urinary system is eliminating metabolic (body function) by-products
  • Reduce inflammation

A typical herbal prescription would be:-

  • Dandelion root tincture, which improves digestive function and elimination of toxins via the Bowel.
  • Ginger, (very small amounts) to improve circulation
  • Celery seed, (small amounts) to improve uric acid excretion from the kidneys as well as having anti rheumatic properties.
  • Meadowsweet, a little favourite of mine, which has strongly anti inflammatory properties.
  • Crampbark, to relax muscles which may have tightened up due to the Rheumatism and which will put pressure on the joints, exacerbating the condition.

This is not set in stone and may vary depending on the patient, what medicines they are already on and the severity of their condition.

There are many over the counter herbal remedies for rheumatism but if you buy one make sure it is a licensed product, which means it is tried and tested.

I do recommend if you have suffered from Rheumatism for some time and are on orthodox medicines but want to try an alternative, that you visit a qualified Medical Herbalist who can take all these factors into account and will tailor make an Herbal Remedy specifically for you.

My Clinic details can be seen by clicking here or on the “Clinic” tab at the top of the page.

Linda Bostock

Medical Herbalist/Herbal Health Information

Herbal Health Information on Shingles

Three years ago just before we were about to walk 80 miles from Greenwich to Eastbourne along the Wealdway, our first ever long distance walk, I got shingles!

At first I thought I had several bites on my left side which were raised and very itchy. I then started to get pain in the area and stomach pain.

Shingles is caused by the same virus that causes chicken pox and the virus sits on the nerve ending, causing chicken pox like spots in the distribution area of the nerve. Typically this follows the line of a rib or can be down the leg or in the head.

It is very itchy and very painful.

I immediately started to take both Marigold and St. John’s Wort tinctures to get on top of the virus and made myself copious amounts of fresh lemon juice to increase my Vitamin C intake.

Fortunately I had made some St John’s Wort oil from flowers I had picked on the shingle beach (see the video).

St. John’s Wort oil, rubbed into the shingles, relieves the pain and attacks the virus externally.

Although the Shingles had not cleared up completely, I was able to do the walk which took us seven days, staying at bed and breakfasts along the way.

It is important to boost the immune system so that the body can defend itself and fight against the virus.

Shingles are said to be stress related and I was helping out at a care home at the time where one of the residents had shingles.

There is an article about boosting the immune system which you can find by clicking on health conditions but the guidelines are:-



You must eat it!

Porridge/ muesli/ any wholegrain cereal/ fruit/juice. Not all at once!


Salads or baked potato or sandwich some fruit if you didn’t have any at breakfast


Cooked meal with some protein foods such as meat eggs or fish /pulses beans for the vegetarians or just if you like them. Fresh veg although fresh frozen will do if you are busy. Some carbohydrate such as rice potato or pasta.

Always vary it though and make sure you do not eat too much of any one thing. For example don’t eat toast for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch and pasta for dinner. That’s three lots of wheat a day and the gut will not like digesting all that!

Loads of Vitamin C containing foods, which is all fruit and veg but especially citrus fruits and zinc containing foods which is oats, peas, pumpkin seeds, lentils and Oysters if you are feeling rich.

Zinc and Vitamin C help the body fight of viruses. Pumpkin seeds are high in zinc and all fruits and veg contain

Vitamin C.

Drink water and not too much tea and coffee.


Have a look at the article on stress to learn more, but briefly, make relaxation and switching off time for yourself. Dance, sing, read, watch a film, join a meditation or yoga class, anything that helps you to relax.

Exercise I can almost hear you groaning but this is really not an option. It gets the body in good shape to be able to cope with external and internal changes.

Alcohol and cigarettes also affect the immune system, so if you can reduce, it will help.

Echinacea is the herb of choice to boost the immune system which it does by raising the white blood cell count and increases the body’s own powers of resistance. It also has the ability to stimulate Killer cells called Phagocytes, that chomp up any foreign material in the body especially bacteria.

About three weeks of taking Echinacea is enough time to boost the immune system and then let the body take over, but in a case of active shingles it is worth taking Echinacea while the shingles persist.

There are many over the counter preparations of Echinacea but make sure it is a good quality preparation with a licence, meaning it has been through a rigorous testing programme.

St John’s Wort and marigold have directly anti viral properties, St John’s Wort being specific for shingles. Both of these you should be able to buy in tincture or tablet form (follow dosage instructions)

Never forget Garlic. I know some people won’t touch it because of the smell but eat as much garlic as you can in your food. It is the most astounding food for all kinds of conditions in the body one of them being to boost the immune system as well as having antiviral properties. Garlic is excreted through the lungs and skin pores so sterilises everything on the way out.

You are also welcome to visit me in my clinic for help. The clinic details can be seen by clicking here or at the “clinic” tab at the top of the page.

Linda Bostock

Medical Herbalist