Nefertari’s Unguent
Botanica Medica Blog
by Jo Dunbar
2M ago
Ivory Unguent Box of Queen Nefertari (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York) The story begins with Adrian and I booking to go on a Nile cruise in late February. Of course, I am doing all the research on ancient Egypt that I can, and in the process, I learned of an unguent jar that was discovered in Nefertari’s tomb. The principal wife of Ramesses the Great, Nefertari was renowned as the most beautiful woman in the land. Her husband loved her so much that he built a magnificent tomb for her, and wrote a poem where he calls her “the beauty of beauties.” The unguent jar itself is made from hippopo ..read more
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How I deal with a cold or flu
Botanica Medica Blog
by Jo Dunbar
2M ago
At the first sign of that chilly, shivery feeling, I give myself a dose of Anti Viral Drops, which is a potent blend of essential oils which help to kill the virus. But this is not enough; you also need to boost your immune system. I would make myself, or you, a formula of herbal tonic specifically for your needs at the time (you understand that each immune tonic is specific to that person). Then, I make myself a nice organic chicken broth with leeks, chillies and lemons. If you are vegetarian, then go for a mushroom (especially shitake) soup. After taking my soup, I run a hot bath, and add a ..read more
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What can herbs do for you?
Botanica Medica
by Jo Dunbar
4M ago
It is interesting that in days gone by, wounds and infections were the biggest reasons to use herbs. Today, the medical herbalist is required more to focus on calming anxiety, strengthening an exhausted person, balancing hormone levels, supporting burned out adrenal glands, as well as the usual winter colds and ‘flu. Plant medicines are both immune boosting, as well as being directly anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal. They help us to stay calm so that we sleep well, and wake up feeling rested and ready to take on life again. Herbs can relax muscles, down-regulate inflammation, promot ..read more
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Birch Polypore:
Botanica Medica
by Jo Dunbar
4M ago
Around 5000 years ago, a man, who we call Otzi the Iceman, was high up in the Alps between the border of Austria and Italy, when he was killed by an arrow. This may have been ritual sacrifice, or murder, but only 2 hours before his death, he had enjoyed a meal of Ibex meat, herb bread, some roots and fruit. He was quite a cool dude with 61 tattoos over his body, but our interest lies in what he carried in his medicine bag. There was a strange mushroom which looks like Styrofoam, squeezed out of a decaying Birch log. I wonder what he called this medicine. Today, we name it Birch polypore (Fomi ..read more
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Chestnuts for male fertility
Botanica Medica
by Jo Dunbar
5M ago
Sometimes the plants tell me things, which I have to research to double check, and this is such a such a story. Please brace yourself because it has quite a sexy content. When I used to walk in Richmond Park, at certain times of the year, I noticed that the breeze carried a strong scent of semen, which piqued my curiosity. Following my nose, and it brought me to a grove of Sweet Chestnut (Castanea sativa) trees in bloom. Later in the year, I noticed that when the deer are in rut, they always gathered under the Sweet Chestnut trees. Of course, these nuts are a valuable food source to deer, but ..read more
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Coronation Oil: a secret recipe
Botanica Medica
by Jo Dunbar
6M ago
The Liber Regalis, Westminster Abbey Queen Elizabeth II was a person that most of us have never met, and yet we were aware of her life for most of our lives. She exemplified stability, dignity, duty, quiet grandeur, and certainly many more qualities of which I, myself am completely unaware. The oil with which she was anointed, and with which King Charles III will be anointed is not so quiet in its grandeur, and it carries a long history. In 1559, Elizabeth I was anointed with a coronation oil, which some sources quote her as saying that “it smells ill”. In 1626, for the coronation of Charles I ..read more
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Hyssop Herb
Botanica Medica
by Jo Dunbar
8M ago
Now that I am back from Africa, I have had a lot of catching up to do, and have been harvesting herbs, and making medicines. Hyssop is looking so gorgeous that I thought I would share with you, one of the hero herbs which I used over the past two years. Hyssop is a brilliant herb for Covid, with significant anti-viral, and anti-bacterial properties. It is great for lung infections because it both relaxes the spasms of the airways (making it excellent for asthma too), whist stimulating the lungs to expectorate the infected sticky phlegm. I find it difficult to harvest my herbs, because they ar ..read more
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Another super plant
Botanica Medica
by Jo Dunbar
8M ago
When I grew up, this was known as elephant’s food. Now it is helping to save our Earth. Portulacaria afra is a carbon sponge, which can absorb between 4 to 10 tonnes of carbon per hectare grown, and the South African government are planting 1 million hectares to restore exhausted soil and the environment. The small round leaves have a crisp, juicy, sour, almost salty taste, and trendy South African restaurants add it to salads and casseroles for an indigenous tangy twist. Traditionally, it is sucked to relieve sore throat and mouth ulcers. It can be rubbed on insect stings and blisters, but p ..read more
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An incredible discovery
Botanica Medica
by Jo Dunbar
8M ago
All my years of being a medical herbalist, I have looked for an English adaptogenic. This is a class of herbs which helps us to adapt to the stresses of life, and usually they provide stamina, an immune boost, help with brain fog, and adrenal fatigue. The herbs that we usually use come from all over the world, and are loosely known as The Ginsengs, although only one is actually botanically known as Panax ginseng. It has always disturbed me that I haven’t found our own English adaptogenic herb, and that we must import from abroad. Adaptogenic herbs are very helpful in my dispensary because so ..read more
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The mighty Baobab tree
Botanica Medica
by Jo Dunbar
8M ago
I’ve just got back from Africa, and I have had the most amazing trip. Three of the four weeks were spent on safari in Tanzania and Malawi In Tanzania, I was held in rapturous awe at these magnificent trees. Not only do they look splendid against the sunrise, but bees seem to love making wild nests on their branches. Elephants eat the bark when they are thirsty. The locals, elephants and baboons enjoy the fruit, and women extract the oil for skin care. I was fascinated by this tree, and my guides Jonas and Ayoubou asked if I would like to try the fruit. They stopped the Land Rover, and we got ..read more
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