Ground Ivy - Lizzie run up the hedge

Following on from my last post, did you spot the two other herbs in the photograph? I’ve added a photo of one of them, the other needing no introduction.

The blue-flowered plant towards the bottom left corner of my verdant photograph is Glechoma hederacea, commonly known as ground ivy, though I much prefer one of its other common names, alehoof; perhaps I should really be calling it by another of its country names, ‘Lizzie run up the hedge!’ This is a truly beautiful plant when you get to look at it closely. The flowers are very similar in shape to the white deadnettle that I talked about in my last post. The reason for that is that they are both members of the same plant family, the Lamiaceae or mint family. May is the time to be gathering this herb for medicine-making or drying while the flowers are new. I use this plant extensively in prescriptions for those with sinus, hayfever and catarrh problems; it can really (and I do mean really) shift mucous from your head at quite a rate. Glechoma is a great herb to add to a poultice for bruises, boils and abscesses. It has many other healing properties. Gerard commended it, ‘against the humming noise and ringing sound of the ears.’ I am sure that suffix ‘ale’ caught the eye of many of you! The plant was used by the Saxons to clarify their beers, before the introduction of hops, according to Mrs Grieve’s Modern Herbal. The herb improved the flavour, lifespan and the clarity of the beer.

The fifth plant in the photograph surely doesn’t need an introduction; Urtica dioica, the stinging nettle. Stingers are good for eating at this time of year, they make a great spinach substitute and I can recommend the tops in a quiche or soup or as a delicious juice or tea. Nettle leaf is a great source of minerals and is a very effective diuretic. Gather nettles before they start to flower. Nettle herb and tincture is a bedrock of my prescriptions for allergies and hayfever. It is used in certain skin conditions, such as childhood eczema, for haemorrhoids and for bleeding. As a generally detoxifying plant nettle is very widely used in practice today. This action puts it into use for arthritis and rheumatism, often with breath-taking results. There is so much to say about nettles that I am sure I will be back writing about them soon!

If you would like to book an appointment with our herbalist Lizzie Foulon – please contact us on 01865 558561

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