Herbal Health Information on White Dead Nettle

We stayed with my Uncle in Arundel over the weekend and went for a glorious walk on Sunday morning around the Arun valley. The autumn colours were spectacular, all red, gold, orange and yellow.

There were quite a lot of plants still flowering, the nicest of which was the White Dead Nettle.

It looks like a nettle but has a white flower a bit like an antirrhinum but it doesn’t sting if you touch it.

The flowering tops of the plant are used medicinally which contain saponins and tannins.

It is an astringent (toning) plant due to the tannin content, with anti inflammatory, healing, antispasmodic and menstrual regulating properties.

It is used internally in tincture form for painful periods, cystitis, diarrhoea and irritable bowel. Externally it may be used as a douche (wash) for vaginal discharge.

2 oz of fresh herb is steeped in 2 pints of boiling water until the water is cool. This is then strained and the liquid used as a vaginal douche.

If you have never used a douche before please do your research to find the correct way to use a douche so that you do not hurt yourself.

Linda Bostock

Medical Herbalist/Herbal Health Information

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 Cystitis

A one off bout off cystitis is easily dealt with, with antibiotics and like any other acute infection such as earache that is the right course of action to take.

It is with the recurrent or chronic form of cystitis that the herbs can be of enormous help.

This condition can cause burning and stinging on passing urine, frequency of passing urine, a desperate urge to pass urine and is life affecting due to the need to be near a toilet all the time.

You may be surprised to know that urine is normally sterile and used in the past  for sterilising wounds inflicted by war. In olden days surgeons used to get the men to wee directly on to the open wounds as it was probably the only sterile fluid around with which to wash the wound out! Bacteria can only enter the bladder from the skin externally via the urethra, which is the tube carrying urine from the bladder to the outside. So no matter how clean you think you are, it is worth taking extra care with your personal hygiene if you suffer from cystitis. Unfortunately the vagina lies on top of the urethra and over enthusiastic sex can cause injury to the urethra leaving it more prone to infection, so you may need to be a little careful.

As usual I am starting with dietary advice.

DRINK LOTS OF WATER. Tea and coffee aggravate the kidneys

Do not eat any oranges or tomatoes or drink their juices. These two fruits seem to be too acidic for the urinary system and will irritate the bladder lining.

Cranberry juice is good and stops bacteria sticking to the wall of the bladder.

As with the gut it is a good idea to coat and protect the bladder wall lining to prevent it being further irritated by bacteria. There is nothing better than Marshmallow to do this job.

We saw the Marshmallow growing profusely in the Cuckmere river video, when I explained to you about the mucilage content of the marshmallow. It is this that coats mucous membranes and for the bladder, it is the leaf of the marshmallow that is used.

St John’s wort is antibacterial and anti viral and can be toning for the bladder.

The best urinary antiseptic is an herb called Buchu which I love to smell, as it smells of blackcurrants and is apparently the flavouring used in the old “Spangles” sweets.

The hairy bit that comes out of the top of a corn on the cob is called corn silk and is a diuretic, but also coats and protects the bladder due to it’s mucilage content.

An irritated bladder also needs relaxing as it goes into spasm causing a constant feeling of wanting to “go”.

We saw Crampbark in the West rise marsh video and I explained it was a muscle relaxant. Well the bladder wall is just a muscle and Crampbark works very well to relax it if it has gone into spasm. Pulsatilla works well as an anti spasmodic to prevent the bladder cramping up.

There is a form of Cystitis which, when the urine is cultured, is found to be sterile. This is often diagnosed as interstitial Cystitis and this form of cystitis needs a similar approach to above as well as herbs to heal the bladder lining. For this I use Marigold, just about the best healer in the herbal pharmacy.

A typical mix of herbs in tincture form I would use in clinic for someone presenting with Cystitis is:-

Marshmallow leaf




But it obviously depends on what the patient tells me and what the symptoms are.

You will find over the counter remedies with some of these herbs in them, but make sure they are licensed or visit a qualified Medical Herbalist .

Linda Bostock

Medical Herbalist

Herbal Health Information

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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