Maggie Pope
is a Medical Herbalist

Practising in
Bridgwater, Somerset

Get in Touch Maggie Pope

January, 2017

Talking to the WI about Weeds

I went to a village on the edge of the Quantock Hills last night to give a talk on all the weeds in their garden that they could just use for medicine, if they were so inclined. I was given the option of not coming as half of their members phoned in to say they wouldn’t venture out on such a ferociously windy night. But, my friends, it takes a lot more than bad weather to keep a Herbalist down. Especially when they’ve been given a chance to talk to a captive audience.

So, what weeds do you think you have that could be turned into medicine?

I asked them to make a list of all the weeds they could ever think of….

And actually, the buttercup is the only one that we don’t use for medicine at the moment, and has never been used as far as I can tell. The bindweed and Japanese Knotweed can be used in medicine – but you have to be careful and I wouldn’t do it… and even the ragwort and groundsel used to be used as remedies but now have fallen out of favour due to fears of toxicity. The ground elder could still be used, people even used to eat it as a vegetable. But all the rest are plants that I make into medicine or buy in regularly.

I’m going to pick them off one by one to tell you how and when you can pick them and easy ways you can process them into remedies that you can take safely. If there are any healthy contraindications I will mention that too – so don’t start weeding as soon as the weather gets better as you may dig up something you regret…

So, next week I will start with Stinging Nettle – your vitamin and mineral store house, right there in your back yard.

Back to work at The School of Herbal Medicine



After the Christmas break we have started the new year with seminars in Materia Medica and Pharmacy. I teach the Pharmacy and Herbal Therapeutics modules. Our herbal monographs in the Materia Medica module are not cut and pasted from other people’s work, but each herb is thoroughly researched from several sources, from practical experience and observation and written up an original piece with reference to action, phytochemistry, therapeutic range, dosage and historical context – giving an extremely high standard of work expected from an ex-Oxford scholar.

In Pharmacy we discussed the therapeutic differences between hot infusions with a short steep time [10 mins], cold nourishing infusions with very long steep time [4 hours or overnight] and decoctions [simmer 10 mins], and what herbs and parts of herbs we would use in each instance. Then we got to work trying them all out and making notes along the way as to taste and texture and feel and properties etc etc.

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January 2017
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