Maggie Pope
is a Medical Herbalist

Practising in
Bridgwater, Somerset

Get in Touch Maggie Pope

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While I’m waiting for a patient…

 

I am expecting a patient in just over 40 minutes. Long enough to write a blog post.

My roof is leaking, the bit that is over my dispensary – so not ideal. I have managed to clear up enough so the patient won’t notice the black plastic sheeting above the cupboards positioned to prevent water from running down the back and ruining the contents. It is positioned so that if it rains the water will run away from the wall and cascade over the top of the doors into a waiting bowl underneath on the worktop. I usually put the bowl there if it is raining, and it has just started now…

I don’t really want the patient to come in and encounter a drip, drip, drip near to where her medicines will be made up. Fingers crossed.

Apart from that, I have booked in another new patient and will also be making up some repeat prescriptions today, ordering some more exotic tinctures from plants that I can’t grow or wildcraft myself, and making more capsules. There are certain patients that really prefer capsules, and now I have my New Toy [see blog post under that title], I am whizzing through them.

It is too wet to sort out my herb patch [I don’t have my allotment anymore – plot politics] but our garden here is big, and I have my own separate garden by my office, so I have plenty of space. My greenhouse has been transported from the allotment to my herb garden so all is good.

I have got my organic veggie seeds ready for the new year from Tamar Organics [brilliant] and am now writing a list of herb seeds I will order from Poynztfield. Happy days.

 

Update:

Patient gone, all good.

Now TIPPING down and I have a steady drip, drip, drip on worktop which is running onto the floor. Bowl now in place. Roofers come this week…

Harvesting Passionflower from the garden

I’ve just found out that the Passionflower I have growing in my garden [Passiflora caerulea], can be used interchangeably with the Passionflower that I buy in at great expense [Passiflora incarnata]…

So I have been harvesting lots of the herb in the warm September sun, just as several of the fruits have ripened as the books tell me to. No more buying in this herb for me; it is now drying nicely in my nets overnight and I will put it through my dehydrators bit by bit over the next few days.

I picked the flowers too, however it seems that the stems and leaves are the most pharmacologically active [Carole Fisher; Materia Medica of Western Herbs].

This crop will be dried to be made into teas [the simplest], capsules [I have a sturdy grinder and a fantastic capsule machine], and the rest I will make into some tincture…

My New Toy

I’ve not been able to access the admin on my website for a few months, that is why there have been no posts. But now I have found my way back in [thank you, Colin] I would like to tell you about my new toy.

My husband might like rope, and chainsaws and electric drills, but what floats my boat atm is my new capsule maker. I have come a long way. I started with a tiny, 24 hole, completely manual device I sourced from Baldwin’s [www.baldwins.co.uk] which is a fabulous site for people who want to play and dabble in herbal medicine. With this device you tipped the powder into a bowl, picked up the large half of the empty capsule, scooped up as much powder into it as physically possible, then pushed the short end on. This was incredibly labour intensive and very, very slow.

I upgraded to a Nukraft machine which was fairly automatic and did 100 at a time. I was laughing, seriously! The only drawback was that I had to sit and physically pull the capsules apart before tipping them into the machine. But still, a vast improvement.

But then I heard about the Profiller 1100. I watched the video on YouTube and was mesmerised…

Somehow, people, you tip the whole empty capsules into the machine, pull a lever, and whichever way they landed in the tray, all the small ends are gathered in one tray and the large ends are gathered in another tray. It’s magic. Watch it here;  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QyVMwSvtJcs&t=11s  about 1.40 minutes in.

I mixed up my powders; for headaches I used Rosemary, Ginkgo and Wood Betony, to aid sleep I used Skullcap and Passionflower, and for nerve pain I made some Mucuna puriens capsules.

 

The only drawback to this wonderful machine is that it costs over £1,000 new. I managed to find mine second hand at £300, which is still a lot of money but when you make a lot of capsules it really does save you a lot of time…

A day tidying at the allotment

Allotment

 

The birds have started singing; that means spring is on the way…

Although I want to start sowing the seeds of my medicinal herbs asap, when I went to visit my allotment I was surprised how quickly the weeds have encroached on my growing space. I shouldn’t be surprised as it happens every year. The first thing to do is clear up, basically.

Last week I sorted out my shed which I had abandoned for two reasons.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               1. We had a spate of burglaries on our site and the lock had been forced off my shed and the contents ransacked. I don’t keep any expensive equipment in there, but the thieves took my cute camping stove on which my little kettle whistled when ready to make tea. What they didn’t take they threw around a bit and emptied out boxes of seed which the mice ate. Which brings me to the second thing…                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. Mice. Or to be honest it is probably rats, but I don’t want to go there. I found some droppings and a hole made under the door step into my shed. I didn’t want to go in as the creatures may have been lurking, but when the sun shone I felt bold and banged about and pulled out the furniture [I believe in allotment comfort and provide myself with table and chairs and shelves for books and biscuits], dusted and swept like Mole and soon the place was shipshape.

This week I tidied up the greenhouse. Since somebody smashed a side window pushing a wheelbarrow past on the 18″ wide paths the rain and yellow dock had got in. Rows of pots containing dried compost and shrivelled basil plants that I had forgotten about reproached me from the work bench, and the moss-rimmed netting that I had gathered up from the wind last Autumn and stuffed inside the greenhouse to door to ‘keep safe’ lay coiled around my feet. On a rainy day this would be depressing. So I check the weather forecast and only go when expecting sun.

I took a bucket and rubber gloves so I could wash all the pots in hot water, forgetting that my cute little singing kettle couldn’t sing till I replaced the cooker. Oh well. I used cold water, but the sun made the greenhouse hot. Yes, hot. In February.

I patched the broken glass with a sheet of plastic that I was going to make into a cold frame but never got round to it. I pulled up all the yellow dock, spraying seed heads all over the place so it will doubtless come back. I swept the floor, washed down the workbench and arranged all my pots as terracotta or plastic, and graded them due to size. All done.

Now my little domain is waiting for the seed order from poyntzfieldherbs.co.uk to come.

Happy days….

Card Payments

Credit cards, woman holding lots of credit and debit cards. Image shot 09/2010. Exact date unknown.

Just so you know. I can now take card payments; easier for you and easier for me….

Cough Syrup

With the winter still dragging on my patients often ask for some cough medicine. I always have some in stock. Except I moved and lost it all. How can that happen? Well, apart from the possibility of having left a box in the back of the removal van, I have looked in all other places I could think of. My big master bottle of lovingly created cough syrup has vanished.

So then, when a patient asked for a refill I advised her to go and buy some Potter’s Vegetable Cough Remover from Boots. But no, she wanted mine and she would wait for it.

So, I went to my new dispensary and made some. Just like that…

Cough syrup3

So first I boiled up my herbs [I used liquorice root, inula, horehound, mullein and thyme] in water and simmered them covered for 20 minutes. Then when the liquid had cooled I strained the fluid into a measuring jug and pressed the damp herbs to extract all the juice I could get.

Cough syrup 4

Then I returned the liquid to the pan and simmered gently until reduced and added molasses sugar to make a syrup. The sugar was dissolved slowly and then the mix simmered again till a syrupy consistency.

Cough syrup 5

I sterilised all my glass bottles with boiling water and heating in an oven for 10 minutes. The pouring of the sticky thick syrup is always a messy business. I just get on with it now without being too careful and just clean up thoroughly afterwards.

Cough syrup 2

And voila! Especially for my lovely patient who would accept none other, Growing Medicine’s cough mixture:

Cough syrup 1

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