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

Herbal Health Information on Eczema

When I had my clinic in Slough in Berkshire, Eczema was the most common condition I treated. I treated hundreds of cases ranging from a 10 month old baby covered from head to foot with red itchy inflamed weeping skin to older children whose skin had become like elephant hide due to the prolonged use of steroids.

Eczema is not an external condition. The problem lies within the body and requires internal cleansing, balancing and restoring to normal function.

Most of the Eczema I treated was Atopic, which is a genetically inherited form usually related to allergic conditions, first presenting at quite a young age as itchy broken skin in the crux of the elbows and knees and spreading around the body

A very interesting thing I noted was that many of the West Indian and Asian children reported to me that when they went back to their native country the Eczema cleared up after a few days and within about five days of landing back in England it would flare up again. So I always worked on the basis that although that particular patient may have been genetically prone to Eczema, diet and pollution were definitely factors to take into consideration.

I can hear you saying here we go again she is going to bang on about diet again, well, YES I AM. I will bang on about it until I know I have got the message across that the food we put into ourselves provides us with the building blocks to stay healthy and to repair damaged body tissue.

Think of it as a building being built with poor building materials, it is bound to fall down quickly, whereas a building built from good quality materials may last forever.

There are several foods to cut down on if a person is suffering from Eczema:-

Tomatoes and oranges are a complete no go area due to their acid content.

We do use too much tomato in cooking and orange juice is now the favourite breakfast drink. But as I have said before, too much of the same food substance is hard for the body to digest.

Cow’s milk has been implicated in Eczema and some people have found Goats milk helps. However I tell people to cut down on the amount of dairy intake, not to cut it out, especially for children who need a high calcium intake while they are growing. Cow’s milk is designed for baby cows and is too rich and hard to digest for humans. Of course in nature ancient man would have been Breast fed until the age of two ish and then not eaten any other dairy product as they did not use milk as a food substance. It was only the advent of farming about 11,000 years ago which meant that cattle could be herded and milked and that is a blink of an eye in evolutionary terms.

An “all things in moderation” diet is a good diet for Eczema sufferers except for oranges and tomatoes. Make sure there are plenty of foods containing

Omega oils….such as oily fish,

Zinc……….. such as peas and pumpkin seeds and oats

Vitamin C…..any fresh fruit and veg

These three ingredients (6 actually as there are 3 Omega oils) are essential for good cell repair within the body.

Drink lots of water and NO fizzy drinks, they contain too much acid.

Right, now on to the herbs. I am going to give you a typical herbal prescription for Eczema but please do remember that people are individuals and respond differently to different plants and Vice Versa!


Red Clover ……..we saw this in the walk on the downs video. It is just about the best lymphatic system and skin cleanser

Heartsease……….a little wild pansy, having alterative (changing to normal), anti inflammatory and anti allergy properties with the added benefit of being high in Zinc.

Burdock………as a liver and digestive system cleanser to make sure no toxins are produced and absorbed from the gut.

Nettles…………….if it is an atopic allergy related Eczema. Nettles are nutritious and blood cleansing.

Celery seed………in small amounts to act as a diuretic to make sure the kidneys excrete all waste products from the body.

Chamomile……something to calm down the irritation

This would be for an initial four weeks, after which I would see the patient again and either keep them on the same mixture depending on the progress or move on to the next stage to improve skin healing with an herb such as Marigold.

I have a high success rate treating Eczema conditions which very rarely return if the patient keeps to a sensible diet.

I do also make up Eczema cream containing, Chamomile and Aloe Vera to soothe and cool the skin whilst it is being cleared out internally.

If you have a child suffering from Eczema please take them to see a Qualified Medical Herbalist, do not try and minister to them yourself as getting the dosage of herbal medicine right is  important. That is also true for anyone.

Linda Bostock

Medical Herbalist, Herbal Health Information

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Red Clover (Trifolium Pratense)

The flower heads are used which contain, isoflavones, flavonoids, resins, coumarins, minerals and vitamins

Red Clover

Do you remember walking through the fields as a child surrounded by red clover? I do, but it is fairly rare to see extensive patches of red clover in fields now, due to intensive farming methods and weed killers. So I am always pleased to see it growing in large amounts anywhere.

As a result of the fairly recent approach to managing public land, such as the Downs, by rotating cattle on them to crop the pasture and let plants seed naturally, there is a lot of it growing on the South Downs.

Red clover is another herb which has alterative properties, meaning it helps the organs and systems in the body to balance themselves and function properly. It has anti inflammatory actions and is a wonderful Lymphatic system cleanser. It is also said to have anti neoplastic properties (anti cancer).

I used to go through buckets loads of red clover tincture when we lived in Slough in Berkshire, as the incidence of childhood Eczema in Slough is very high and along with Heartsease it is always an essential ingredient in  any mixture I make up to help clear Eczema.

Eastbourne, where we currently live, has an older population and I have not treated as much Eczema. I still use the tincture in all mixtures for conditions requiring any lymphatic cleansing or skin cleansing action.

Linda Bostock

Medical Herbalist/Herbal Health Information

Burdock (Arctium Lappa)

The root is used which contains tannin, mucilage and inulin as well as iron, sulphur and B Vitamins.

This is another one of those weeds that robs the earth of all the minerals and so is a nutritive, blood tonic as well as having digestive system and liver cleansing properties. As it is a bitter herb, it stimulates digestion preventing the build up of toxins in the gut which may then get absorbed and cause problems in other areas of the body.


In clinic I use it as my number one digestion and liver supporting herb for all conditions requiring a cleansing action, such as arthritis, rheumatism, eczema, psoriasis and acne.

It is gentle, reliable and effective.

And yes it is that annoying plant with burrs as seed heads that stick to your clothes and the dog if you brush against them………we can’t all be perfect!

Linda Bostock

Medical Herbalist/Herbal Health Information