Making the most of nature’s medicine cabinet -in one short trip to a magical ancient wood

I’ve been a complementary therapist long enough to know a thing or two about natural remedies, and there are a select few – ones that seem to possess almost too many magical powers – that I come back to time and again.  First up is garlic – a powerhouse disguised as a simple bulb.  I recommend my Just For Tummies Garlic tablets in my clinic as they are extremely helpful in reducing embarrassing smelly wind, as well as inhibiting the growth of unfriendly yeast and bacteria in the gut.  A natural anti-biotic, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and anti-parasitic, garlic has been regarded as a well-trusted remedy throughout history.  It was used as an antiseptic on wounds during the First World War, and to treat dysentery caused by the poor sanitary conditions in the trenches. My grandfather, a master herbalist, had first-hand experience of this as he fought in the trenches at the Somme.  I believe this is where he came across the healing power of garlic, igniting his interest in herbalism when he returned home – an interest that was to become his lifelong passion.

Modern research has focused on garlic’s potential to reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer.  There are studies to show that it can prevent the common cold, reduce high blood pressure and kill off E.coli – not forgetting the important role it plays in warding off vampires and evil spirits.

Given half a chance, I would love nothing more than to wax lyrical about the incredible powers of garlic but I have a business to run and clinic patients to see, so I’ll move on!  Earlier in the year, I decided to go in search of this wonder plant so I contacted Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust to see if they could point me in right direction.  I spoke to Chris Kennedy, the Southern Reserves Officer, and he happened to mention that the Trust also burns charcoal at certain times of the year.

Charcoal!  Another of my all-time favourite natural remedies and another of my Just For Tummies supplements.  I recommend Activated Charcoal to help reduce intestinal gas and bloating.  This majestical substance has the ability to absorb impurities in the digestive system and escort them out of the body.  Chris told me that the Trust carries out the ancient woodland skill of coppicing – the thinning out and cutting down of trees to allow sunlight through, enabling certain flora and fauna to grow and sustain the insects and butterflies.  The wood that they cut down is burned to form charcoal, which is bagged and sold to generate income.  Of course I took it upon myself to share what I know of the ancient medicinal benefits of charcoal, which turned out to be new information for Chris – and the prompt for him to invite my husband, Kevin and me to their next charcoal burning session.

The volunteers from the Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust emptying the charcoal kiln and bagging it

The volunteers from the Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust emptying the charcoal kiln and bagging it

So one sunny morning a few weeks later, we found ourselves in the heart of Ploughman Wood, an ancient wood of 40 hectares that forms part of what is left of Sherwood Forest.  It is a truly beautiful and magical place full of dappled glades, ancient oaks, rare plants and flowers, and all manner of insects, butterflies and birds. We walked for around half an hour to arrive at a beautiful glade where the charcoal kilns were just being opened by Chris and his band of merry volunteers.  The chopped wood had been burning for over 10 hours.  For the next couple of hours, we observed the volunteers emptying the kilns, passing the charcoal through a kind of mechanical cutter and bagger then loading the bags onto a lorry.

Freshly burned charcoal.  Similar to my Just For Tummies charcoal, although this is made from coconut shells.

Freshly burned charcoal. Similar to my Just For Tummies charcoal, although this is made from coconut shells.

I’ve built up one of the busiest natural digestive health clinics in the UK, and am inundated with enquiries for consultations and treatments.  For the past couple of years I have been even busier, developing my Just For Tummies range.  It was, therefore, wonderful to take a break and venture into the woods.  Whenever I walk into a wood, and smell the earth, the trees and experience the quiet, it takes me back to my tomboy childhood days, running wild with my sister, climbing trees in the wood close to where I lived.  We were the wood warriors!  Entering a wood is like entering an enchanted world where you can leave your cares and woes behind and get back to nature.

Time for a Tummy Tea break

Time for a Tummy Tea break

With a constant stream of news about the latest technical advances in modern medicine, it’s easy to forget about the simple power of nature and its ability to refresh our body, mind and soul.  I came away from this visit feeling relaxed, refreshed and inspired – all thanks to the trees, the charcoal…and a lovely cup of my Tummy Tea!

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