Herbal Health Information on Mullein (Verbascum Thapsus)

Seen at the Shingle Beach Eastbourne July 2011

Wow this puts on a spectacular display, about chest height (girly chest) downy large leaves with spikes of beautiful yellow flowers from about late June. It contains volatile oils (antibacterial), saponins and rutin.

Mullein - great for Cough Syrup

It is a soothing demulcent for the respiratory system. ‘Demulcent’ means an herb rich in mucilage that is soothing.

When you feel the leaves of Mullein they feel wonderfully soft and silky which is a sure sign that the leaves contain mucilage. Mucilage, although it sounds disgusting, is great stuff as it coats and protects mucous membranes lining the gut and respiratory system.

Mullein is used as a cough remedy for irritating dry coughs. See video on how to make Mullein Cough Syrup.

As I explained on the video, how to make Mullein Cough Syrup, it is easy to make a cough syrup from it.

  • Wash, dry and sterilise a jam jar. The best way to do this is to put the clean jam jar into a cold oven and turn the oven on to 200C and leave it in there for about 15 minutes until the oven is hot. Turn the oven off and leave the jar in there until it is cold. (Don’t try and take it out and burn your fingers and don’t pour cold liquid in there otherwise it will crack).
  • Pick as many mullein flowers as you can.
  • Layer these in the COLD jam jar with granulated sugar, about 3 cms at a time. I hope you are proud of me being metric! Store it with the lid on, on a sunny window ledge.

As this compresses down over the next few days you can keep

Topping up the jar, but pick fresh flowers every time.

  • When the jar is full just leave it in sunlight for at least three weeks. At the end of this time you will have some very sorry looking flowers but a beautiful deep yellow/brown syrup.
  • Strain the syrup through a piece of clean cloth into another clean jam jar and keep it somewhere dark (cupboard) and cool until you need it in the winter for a cough.

I teaspoon three or four times a day will soothe the cough.

Don’t forget if the cough is persistent, to go and see your doctor.

If you are on any other medications or suffer from allergies please do not self medicate, but go and see a qualified herbal practitioner, click here for my clinic details or your doctor.

Linda Bostock

Medical Herbalist/Herbal Health Information

Herbal Health Information on Licorice

When I was training all those years ago we had a patient come to the training clinic in Balham who was suffering from a peculiar range of seemingly unconnected  symptoms including, fatigue, low motivation, general aches and pains, digestive disorders and the rest. We treated her for quite a few weeks to try and improve her general well being with no improvement. Then one of the other students had coincidentally been studying the endocrine system and reading about Adrenal exhaustion due to prolonged stress.

We discussed the patient’s symptoms and when she returned to the clinic asked her if she had been suffering from stress. She said she had but it was over now so had not mentioned it in her original consultation.

When we are under stress the adrenal glands, which are situated on top of the kidneys, produce adrenaline to help us cope with the stress. You have probably heard about the fight or flight reaction to stress which is actually a production of hormones, adrenaline being the major one, which either give us the ability to run and get away from the source of the stress e.g. BIG MAMMOTH chasing us, RUN! Or help us to stay and face the situation, e.g. BIG MAMMOTH chasing us but actually I would like some for my dinner so I will stay and fire a few stone arrows at it.

If the stress is continuous then the adrenal glands will produce adrenaline for a certain length of time, but then switch off. This is known as adrenal exhaustion and the body then cannot cope with either stress or day to day living. In most cases, the adrenal glands will recover on their own after a period of rest, but if for whatever reason they don’t, then they need help to be switched on again.

We changed tactics and treated this patient with a mixture of herbs to support the endocrine system and the adrenal glands in particular. Licorice was our herb of choice to treat the adrenal glands and it worked like magic (which is of course why herbal medicine had such a mystique surrounding it).Within a month she was back to her old self and full of energy. We kept her on the mix for another two months and then weaned her off after which she was able to maintain her own well being.

Licorice which can also be spelled Liquorice, before you all tell me I have spelled it wrong, is described as “the universal herb”. It has a long history of use by the ancient Chinese, Egyptians and Greeks for strengthening the body.

It is used as a cough remedy, has anti inflammatory properties, is an adrenal restorative, has anti stress, anti viral and anti depressive properties.it also regulates hormones.

This is not all the properties it has but I think it would just be showing off  if I wrote down any more.

Basically it is what is known as an alterative which means it restores body function to normal.

There is always a BUT and that is that if you have high blood pressure you cannot take Licorice as it also has an affect on the kidney blood pressure control mechanism. This will not affect an healthy individual but may affect the blood pressure of someone already suffering from hypertension.

Plants and medicine are so fascinating aren’t they?

If you would like to visit my clinic, to find out more, please click here or click on the tab at the top of the page.

Linda Bostock

Medical Herbalist/herbal Health Information.

Yarrow/Milfoil (Achillea Millefoil)

The flowers and leaves are used which contain, flavonoids, volatile oils, lactones and alkaloids

This is the original wonder medicine. As I said in the video it does just about everything and at college, if we could not think of an answer to a question we would write “YARROW” it was bound to be right!


It grows so profusely on all kinds of soils and waste land that if we were ever in a situation where orthodox medicines were not available our first plant hunt would be for Yarrow.

It can stem the flow of blood from a wound, it is a diuretic and urinary antiseptic, has anti-inflammatory and anti rheumatic properties is anti viral, anti bacterial, a vasodilator(relaxes capillaries)  , digestive stimulant and protector, improves both gall bladder and liver function and is a gentle relaxant like chamomile.

I’m sure you get the picture!

Because of all these actions it is frequently used in many different mixes for digestive problems, lowering blood pressure, coughs, colds, arthritis, regulating  hormones, cystitis, stress and toning varicose veins. I’ve probably left out a few actions but I think that is enough for one plant to boast about!!!!!!

I would never be without it on my shelves.

Linda Bostock

Medical Herbalist/herbal Health Information

Marshmallow (Althea Officianalis)

Both the roots and the Ariel parts of this plant are used which contain high amounts of mucilage, flavonoids and tannins

Marshmallow in the Cuckmere Valley

The marshmallow has a history of over 2,000 years of use in European Herbal Medicine. It is known as a demulcent, meaning it soothes and protects mucous membranes. It is also antitussive (cough), is an alterative (restoring normal organ function) and diuretic.
It is used for all inflammation of the digestive system, lungs, kidneys and bladder. I forgot to mention the kidneys and bladder on the walk but marshmallow is my herb of choice to protect and soothe the bladder if a patient comes to me suffering from Cystitis.
In clinic I use it in mixes for irritating tickly coughs, irritable bowel, ulcers, and colitis, in all cases to protect and soothe the mucous membranes lining these two organs.
I have to say I was astounded at the rate it had spread along the river bank and pleased too, to know it isn’t likely to disappear from the Cuckmere. Plants are so vulnerable, a small change in conditions and they might not be growing where I last saw them and yet it seems they are also opportunists and if the conditions are good they will spread like mad. Thank goodness.

Linda Bostock
Medical Herbalist/Herbal Health Information

Marshmallow Herb Walk Along The Cuckmere River

We often walk along the Cuckmere River, in East Sussex as it is one of the areas we can take Henry, our Red Setter, without cattle being around, although there are sometimes cows in the fields and we may have to do a bit of a detour, as cows seem to chase Henry and scare us. This is a video we made of that walk and of the rare Marshmallow plants that we found growing there. I hope you find it interesting.


Linda Bostock

Medical Herbalist