Herbal Health Information on Fumitory (Fumaria Officianalis)

This was our bonus plant we spotted on the Long Man walk.

It was right at the end of the walk when the dog had run into the field adjacent to the path.

The fumitory was growing in the unploughed edge of the field alongside other “weeds”.

I do not use fumitory in my clinic but it is one of the plants I get very excited to see because it is so pretty. It has feathery little leaves and tiny trumpet like purple flowers. Its French name translates as Earth Smoke

It is used as a gentle diuretic and has antispasmodic properties so is an excellent herb for cystitis as it washes the kidneys and bladder out at the same time as relaxing the muscle walls of the bladder which go into spasm if you have cystitis which causes people to have a feeling of being constantly desperate to wee even if they have just been to the toilet.

Fumitory has other properties and the books say it is used as a spring tonic and as a cleanser for eczema.

As I said I do not use it as I have other herbs such as red clover and heartsease which I prefer to use, but I do love to see it growing in the wild.

Linda Bostock

Medical Herbalist

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

Agrimony (Agrimonia Eupatoria)

The leaves and flowers are used which contain coumarins and tannin

Due to the tannin content of Agrimony it is an astringent plant and tones up all mucous membranes to improve their strength.


Gypsies picked, dried and stored the leaves and used as it as a refreshing tea in the same way you drink PG tips, but without the milk added to it.

It aids food digestion as it has bitter properties so is a good herb for indigestion. It is also liver cleansing and just like ordinary tea has a diuretic action.

In clinic I use it in small amounts in many digestive mixtures to tone the gut lining. I believe many digestive problems including irritable bowel syndrome may be caused by a “leaky gut” where the lining of the gut is in poor condition ( think broken skin) and Agrimony can help tone the gut lining up, preventing only partially digested foods crossing the gut barrier in to the blood stream and then causing problems in other parts of the body.

Linda Bostock

Medical Herbalist/Herbal Health Information

The Elder Tree (Latin Name ……..Sambucus Nigra)

Parts used…….flower/bark/berries

I am not too proud to admit I probably use this herb more than is decent.

Elderflower on a Martello Tower

That’s because it does soo many different things and there is nothing better to reach for than elderflower tincture from my shelves, from the start of the hayfever season to the end of the coughs and colds season which is pretty much all year around!

Elder flowers are one of those things you either love or hate the smell of. They have a slightly sickly sweet smell that many people find overpowering.

But ignore the smell because you are looking at a flower that has such an astonishing range of actions it sounds like a complete herbal pharmacopeia all on its own!

It is antiviral, immune system stimulating, anti-inflammatory, anticatarrhal, diaphoretic (makes you sweat) diuretic and other actions you can look up but if I add in here it will just sound like showing off.

It is my herb of choice above Echinacea, if I am treating coughs, colds and boosting the immune system.

Although there are several anticatarrhal herbs such as ground ivy, from my experience elderflower is positively the BEST.

At this time of year it goes in every hayfever and anti-allergy mix I make up.

Because it makes you sweat and has relaxing properties, I also put it into mixes for high blood pressure.

Here come the warning bells ringing again…please do not self medicate if you have high blood pressure or any medical condition see a professional.

I pick the flower every year and dry it to store for use as a tea if anyone is feeling they have a cold coming on. It is the herbal equivalent of Beecham’s powders.

The berries, I collect to either make elderflower jelly (you need extra pectin) or a syrup for coughs throughout the winter.

The syrup is dead easy to make.

Pick however many elderberries you want and then make about one inch layers of berries with half an inch of granulated sugar in a  clean and heat sterilised jam jar. You will need to keep topping the jar up as the berries crush down.

Leave this preferably somewhere very mildly warm for about a week and then strain of the gorgeous thick dark red syrup and store it in another clean and heat sterilised jam jar. This is a wonderful soothing cough mixture which should be rich in vitamin C, iron and Bioflavonoids.

In the video you see the elderflower in a hedgerow at the Long Man at Willingdon, but if you look along any hedgerow you will see an elderflower tree dotted in amongst the other bushes. Later in the year we will go back and film the berries and I will show you how to make the elderberry syrup.

Linda Bostock

Medical Herbalist/Herbal Health Information