i Editorial Artist of the Month
Kyra Pollitt Tansy Lee Moir
ii Herb of the Month The Chemistry Column
Marianne Hughes, Hazel Brady Claire Gormley
iii The Messy Medic Of Weeds and Weans
Khadija Meghrawi Joseph Nolan
iv Our Editor in the Fieldâ&#x20AC;Ś.
Kyra Pollitt meets Amanda Saurin
v Anthroposophical Views Notes from the Brew Room Strange Fruit Flower Remedies
Dora Wagner Ann King Sarah Murphy Anne Dalziel
26 30 32 35
vi Foraging for Colour
vii Jazz Ecology Garden Gems
Ramsey Affifi Ruth Crighton-Ward
viii Foraging Through Folklore StAnza Presentsâ&#x20AC;Ś
Ella Leith Nadine Aisha Jassat
ix Book Club Marianne Hughes reviews Herbal Antibiotics: Natural Alternatives for Treating Drug-Resistant Bacteria by Stephen Harrod Buhner (Storey Publishing, 2012) x Contributors Looking Forward
Slow Kyra Pollitt It began with a simple offer of help, but it didn’t end there. Like Santa in Lapland, ever since I began editing Herbology News— from the 09//20 issue —I have relied on the tireless generosity of those labouring busily behind the scenes. One particular wee HN elf has demonstrated the patience of a saint, given the tools at her disposal to craft each issue. Imagine trying to prepare a zine of this size using an outdated version of Word, so that you have to set the copy in pdf. Every time a small change has to be made to one page, every other page must be manually adjusted. You can probably make two or three adjustments before your outdated Word crashes and you have to wait for it to reset itself. You continue. Each link must be added by hand, each page number manually adjusted. When the issue looks ready, you show it to your Editor, who has just received a last-minute submission that she feels we can’t refuse. You smile and agree, knowing that you will need to volunteer another day of your free time to re-setting each page, re-ordering, waiting for your computer to re-boot, re-numbering…until the pdf can be uploaded to the digital publishing platform and a link made ready to send out to our readers. Slow work, indeed. But now, thanks to our advertisers, the generosity of our prize donors, and everyone who bought a raffle ticket, our little elf need toil no more! Instead of relying on a basic, free version of the digital publishing platform— one which lacks many useful features —we can now afford a subscription. Maddy Mould— for it is she —can make changes within the platform. Gone is the crashing, outdated Word, banished the clunky pdf, happy our elfin volunteer. By the time our next copy reaches you, our ‘Download’ button should be activated, so you can enjoy Herbology News offline, and those for whom it is important can print a paper copy. In the coming months we hope to explore more of the features that will now be available to us, and roll out the benefits to production team, columnists and readers alike. Our next ambition is to secure a copy of Adobe InDesign software, which is compatible with the digital platform, to allow easier and finer page construction. One kind reader has advised that charities and not-for-profits can secure affordable versions of such software— and so our volunteer Treasurer, Marianne Hughes, is now researching the possibility of Herbology News becoming an educational charity. We’ll keep you posted, but if you have any knowledge or expertise in this area, she’d very much welcome your input. As another lockdown restricts our activities and forces us to slow down once again, we might all take inspiration from our own wee HN elf— patiently, selflessly, slowly and cheerfully working with whatever imperfect tools are available, to bring joy to others. Happy reading, and a hopeful Imbolc from all of us at HNHQ. Executive Editor Editor Artistic Director Illustrators Treasurer
Catherine Conway-Payne Kyra Pollitt Maddy Mould Maddy Mould, Hazel Brady Marianne Hughes
i: Artist of the Month
Tansy Lee Moir www.tansyleemoir.co.uk Originally from Matlock in Derbyshire, Tansy studied Three-Dimensional Design at Manchester Metropolitan University. After working as a puppet-maker and performer, she moved to Edinburgh and now lives beside the Forth. Over the next 25 years, Tansy evolved a practice using art and creativity to support marginalized communities throughout Central Scotland. In 2008, she began to focus more fully on her drawing, setting up a studio in St. Margaret’s House, Edinburgh. In 2017, she moved to her purpose-built garden studio, where she now works full-time as an artist and educator. She is passionate about trees. In 2015, she was commissioned by South Yorkshire Biodiversity Research Group to work on Tree Stories, a project examining tree carving and graffiti in the Peak District, funded by Arts Council England. In 2016-17 she was Artist-in-Residence at Howden Park Centre, Livingston, where she collaborated with poet and photographer Steve Smart to produce Drawing Breath, inspired by Calder Wood in West Lothian. Back at St. Margaret’s House in 2017, Tansy curated Grown Together— an exhibition of the tree-related work of twenty artists and makers. In 2018, she collaborated with fellow artist Anne Gilchrist to document Dalkeith Old Wood in Midlothian, with its nationally important collection of ancient Oaks. The study resulted in the publication of Dead Wood and New Leaves. A joint show, Out of the Wood, scheduled for NTS Drum Castle in 2020, was cancelled and subsequently shown online at Edinburgh Palette, where Tansy will be exhibiting again later this year. She is currently exhibiting at An Talla Solais, in Ullapool. Tansy writes: My drawing trips to the woods are partly open-minded wanderings, partly focused foraging— and I’m always searching for trees that have a story to tell in their contorted forms, broken
branches, or indecipherable graffiti. When I find a tree I want to draw, I slow right down, listen, walk around it, settle into tree-time, focus on the moment. Trees are constantly engaged in a dialogue with their surroundings— with the ground they grow in; the prevailing weather; the other plants, animals and people that live alongside them —and there are physical clues in their forms that provide a record of that dialogue. Similarly, the process of drawing is one of dialogue— it’s a record of the moment of interaction between the artist and the subject; the eye and the tree; the hand, the paper and the mark-making tool. As John Berger says, a drawing of a tree is not just a tree, but ‘a tree being looked at’. I learned a respect and appreciation for wood as material from my wood-turner father, and I developed that through my degree and my own making practice, but writers and academics like Oliver Rackham, Richard Mabey and Ian Rotherham have taught me to look beyond the immediate appearance of trees, towards the historical and cultural stories their forms represent. My latest series— Rivers of Oak (Cascade, Rapids, Undercurrent) —is inspired by the ancient Oaks of Dalkeith Old Wood, just south of Edinburgh. I was immediately struck by how their solid, sinuous forms seemed to flow, and by a powerful feeling of my being a short-lived creature amongst ancients. In the studio, I set out to capture the fluid movement in the way the trunks have grown, trying to transfer this slow dance onto the paper with a mixture of bold gestural
i: Artist of the Month
marks and subtle shifts in tone. The resulting drawings have an ethereal ambiguity, with a balance of boldness and delicacy set in white space— at once showing closely observed trees, watery forms, and expressive figures. While I love the fluidity of Oak’s growth habit, I’m always drawn back to Beech, with its smooth-skinned bark and sinuous forms. Works from Beech trees often hint at the figure, and I draw with deliberate ambiguity; mingling the arboreal with the corporeal, so that its interpretation can be fluid. Other works shown here include pieces from my ‘Veterans’ series, inspired by trees which show signs of aging— such as hollow trunks, fallen limbs, and dead wood. These drawings highlight the moving beauty of these old hangerson, celebrating their endurance and resilience, honestly observing the wounds and scars that tell their story. As survivors of damage, disease and decline, their slow-time suffering acts as a strange kind of comfort—this is the way life is. You can find Tansy on IG, Twitter and Facebook: @tansyleemoir, or get in touch by email@example.com
Images: Cover image Cascade 120 x 85cm Charcoal on Canson C à Grain paper 2020 Image 1, p. 7 The Artist in her Studio 2 Image 2, p. 13 Calder One Limbed Beech 78cm x 62cm Charcoal on Canson C à Grain paper 2020 Image 3, p. 19 Rapids 78cm x 62cm Charcoal on Canson C à Grain paper 2020 Image 4, p. 25 Tribe and Territory 87cm x 57cm Charcoal on Canson C à Grain paper 2015 Image 5, p. 37 Harestanes Rooted Beech 78cm x 62cm Charcoal on Canson C à Grain paper 2020 Image 6, p. 42 Undercurrent 78cm x 62cm Charcoal on Canson C à Grain paper 2020 Image 7, p. 48 Calder Hollow-Hearted Beech 86cm x 62cm Charcoal on Canson C à Grain paper 2016 Image 8, p. 51 As These Letters Grow, So Does Our Love 126cm x 77cm Charcoal on Canson C à Grain paper Image 9, p. 53 Beecraigs Beech 2 110cm x 72cm Charcoal on Canson C à Grain paper 2016
Tansy Lee Moir The Artist in her Studio 2
ii: Herb of the Month
Old Man’s Beard (Usnea longissima) Marianne Hughes, with illustration by Hazel Brady When walking in woods and in mountains we may see many types of lichens clinging to trees and to rocks. What exactly are these plants? Lichens are a class unto themselves, existing as a relationship between an alga and a fungus. The alga (photobiont) can photosynthesize, thereby producing food (carbohydrates). The fungus (mycobiont) provides structure, minerals and water to the organism. Neither would be able to colonize the habitats in which they exist without the other. Each relationship creates a mini ecosystem and produces chemicals that differ from those produced by either of the original organisms. These chemicals hold unique medicinal properties. There are about 17,000 species of lichen and 600 species of Usnea, in particular. They are very slow-growing, and very sensitive to pollution— they absorb toxic heavy metals. If you live in the Northern hemisphere, you may be familiar with the long, grey-green strands of members of Usnea spp., often seen hanging in orchards and forests. A key feature of Usnea longissima is that it feels stretchy— the inner core is like elastic. This is because it contains collagen. Collagen is the most plentiful protein in the human body; a building block of bones, skin, muscles, tendons and ligaments, that also helps our blood to clot. The word ‘collagen’ comes from the Greek kóila meaning ‘glue’. The polysaccharides in this inner cortex of the lichen contain immune-stimulating compounds. There are many historical references to the medicinal uses of Usnea spp. Early Chinese herbalists recommended ‘Sun ho’ as an expectorant and, in powdered application, to heal external ulcers; Hippocrates recommended Usnea spp. for uterine complaints. Hobbs (1990) notes an extract of Usnea longissima effective in treating urinary tract infections and upper respiratory infections such as pneumonia, Strep throat and tuberculosis. Buhner (2012) lists Usnea spp. as one of four herbal antibiotics effective against
MRSA. Indeed, since the 1980s, multidrug resistance caused by the overuse of synthetic antibiotics has led to increased interest in the antimicrobial actions of usnic acid. Usnic acid has proved active against mycobacteria and Gram-positive bacteria— including Streptococcus, Staphylococcus, Mycobacterium Tuberculosis —but not Gramnegative mycobacteria such as Salmonella or E. coli. As an antibiotic, then, it is less disruptive to our gut flora than broad-spectrum antibiotics. Usnic acid also appears effective in treating fungal infections such as Candida overgrowth, athlete’s foot, dandruff, ringworm and some vaginal infections. This month’s Chemistry Column explains more of the mechanisms behind this, and some of the limitations of isolating and concentrating usnic acid. As many of us know, herbal medicine is complex. The usnic acid component of the lichen is not water soluble, and must be extracted through a tincture. Industrially extracting and isolating one chemical to target a specific ailment often results in adverse side effects, since many of the complementary protective elements found within the whole plant are lost in such processes. Next time you walk past an old stone wall or a tree trunk covered in lichen, give them a gentle stroke of gratitude for the invaluable role they play in our internal and external ecosystems. And, come the autumn, if you are tempted to pocket a little Old Man’s Beard, our good friends at Grass Roots Remedies recommend harvesting only from broken branches on a woodland floor.
ii: Herb of the Month
References Buhner, S.H. (2012) Herbal Antibiotics: Natural Alternatives for Treating Drug-Resistant Bacteria, Storey Publishing Grassroots Remedies (2017) Herb Profile: Old Man’s Beard Lichen (accessed: www.grassrootsremedies.co.uk/2017/01/20/h erb-profile-old-mans-beard-lichen/ 18.11.20) Guo, L., et al. (2008) ‘Review of Usnic Acid and Usnea Barbata Toxicity’, in Journal of Environmental Science & Health, Part C: Environmental Carcinogenesis & Ecotoxicology Reviews
(accessed: www.ncbi.nim.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5739 313/ 18.11.29) Hobbs, C. (1990) Usnea: The Herbal Antibiotic and other Medicinal Lichens, Botanical Press, Capitola, CA Purvis, W. (2010) Lichens, The Natural History Museum, London
ii: The Chemistry Column
Lessons from lichens Claire Gormley When the calendar changes, I fall into the habit of looking back at the events of the past year. This year, as it was for many, my calendar was filled with cancelled holidays, missed birthdays, and, for the most part, emptiness. The disappointment and grief many of us have felt over 2020 still lingers— an ache made even more poignant for those of us in another lockdown. But as I sat down on my familiar couch (in my all too familiar sweatpants) to research Usnea spp. I was reminded of three important lessons of this lockdown experience: (1) the responsibility we all have to take care of one another; (2) the importance of looking after ourselves; and (3) the duty we have to protect our planet. When I remember these lessons, the year does not feel so empty, and I can look forward to each coming day knowing that I am doing my part. Lichens are unique because they are not a single organism; they are a symbiotic relationship between photobionts and fungus (Cocchietto, Skert and Sava, 2002). The two organisms live together, each contributing to the survival of the other. The photobionts, like algae or cyanobacteria, provide food for both organisms through the process of photosynthesis. Likewise, the fugus provides structural support which protects the algae from drying out, and also water and minerals (Grass, 2017; Cocchietto, Skert and Sava, 2002). These organisms rely on one another to do their part so they both can live, much like our symbiosis with healthcare and other essential
workers. Unlike the lichen, it can be all too easy for us to forget who we are protecting; it goes against our nature to avoid social contact. Yet we have found new ways to connect with those we love, while sustaining the symbiosis. Whether it’s a distanced doorstep dinner with our neighbours, or a zoom happy hour with colleagues, we are playing our part in the relationship so that the other can survive. We have also learned how to truly take care of ourselves. The healing power of a walk in the fresh air was finally recognized when the opportunity to do so was limited. Rest became normalized. Many of us began cooking for ourselves (even beyond banana bread and sourdough) and prioritizing our mental and physical health. Even so, how many of us remain unaware of the expansive roles lichen play in our health? Like plants, lichens produce large numbers of bioactive substances, which provide protection against a range of viral, bacterial, and protozoan parasites, as well as animal predators, plant competitors, and environmental factors like ultraviolet (UV) rays (Cocchietto, Skert and Sava, 2002). One genus of lichen, Usnea, commonly referred to as ‘Old Man’s Beard’ (an obvious name for the scruffy, greyish-green strands), has been utilised by humans for centuries for its properties— sometimes as food, but also as medicine, as witnessed in the ninth century Al-Kindi botanical formulary (Cocchietto, Skert and Sava, 2002). Since WWII, these beard lichens have been the focus of many studies,
ii: The Chemistry Column particularly for one compound they produce⎯ usnic acid. Usnic acid is a secondary metabolite produced by the fungal partner of Usnea spp. that has antibacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, antiprotozoal, antipyretic and analgesic properties (Fitriani et al, 2019; Cocchietto, Skert and Sava, 2002; Guo et al., 2008). Because of its versatility, usnic acid is found in a variety of products, from perfume and sunscreens, toothpaste, vaginal creams, foot creams, and shampoo (Guo et al., 2008). Interest in Usnea’s antibacterial properties was renewed in the 1980s, amid increasing instances of antibiotic resistance. Studies have shown usnic acid to be an effective treatment against mycobacteria and Gram-positive bacterial, like Streptococcus mutants, and Staphylococcus aureus (Cocchietto, Skert and Sava, 2002; Guo et al., 2008). Gram-positive bacteria are characterised by thick layers of peptidoglycan surrounding the plasma membrane, and no outer membrane— which is only present in Gram-negative bacteria (Silhavy, Kahne, and Walker, 2010). The sophisticated series of membranes and peptidoglycan, called the bacterial cell envelope, provides protection by only allowing selective molecules in and out (ibid.). A review in 2002 described usnic acid’s uncoupling capabilities as the basis of its antimicrobial activity (Guo et al., 2008). An uncoupling agent disrupts oxidative phosphorylation⎯ a process used to create the energy-carrying molecule, Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) ⎯effectively dissociating the Electron Transport Chain and the ATP Synthase. Usnic acid accomplishes this in mitochondria by diffusing across the inner membrane into the matrix, where it is ionised to form usneate anion. The anion can then diffuse back to the proton-rich inter-membrane space where it binds to a proton and reforms usnic acid. This cycle of diffusion continues, causing a proton leak which demolishes the proton gradient needed to power the ATP Synthase (Guo et al., 2008). The review concluded that the same uncoupling mechanism is used to disrupt bacterial cell membranes (ibid.). A more recent study, however, has found the inhibition of RNA and
DNA synthesis is responsible for usnic acid’s antibacterial activity (Maciag-Dorszyńska, Węgrzyn, and Guzow-Krzemińska, 2014). The group added varying concentrations of usnic acid to the nutrient media of four bacterial strains and measured the incorporation of radio-labelled precursors of DNA, RNA and proteins. They found that the growth of the two Gram-positive bacteria tested was inhibited even at low concentrations of usnic acid (ibid.). Regardless of how Usnea perform their antibacterial activities, their use in medicines and other products contribute significantly to our health. However, usnic acid also has the potential to be damaging at high concentrations. Therapeutic doses of usnic acid are not concerning because the compound is slowly and inefficiently absorbed (Grass, 2017), but the toxic effects of higher concentrations in the weight loss product, LipoKinetix, prompted the Food and Drug Administration to request the manufacturer remove it from market in 2001 (Guo et al., 2008). What may be more concerning, however, is the susceptibility of Usnea to pollutants. Because Usnea are so sensitive to pollutants, their presence is often considered a sign of a healthy ecosystem (Askham, 2020). Yet Usnea readily absorb pollutants from the air and can accumulate toxic heavy metals, which can have adverse effects on both the lichen and its consumer (Grass, 2017). One of the most significant pollutants in the UK is nitrogen dioxide. This pollutant, which forms when heated nitrogen combines with oxygen, comes primarily from road traffic and is damaging to Usnea, as well as to humans (Askham, 2020). Usnea numbers have been declining in the UK due to this pollution (Pescott et al., 2015), but there is hope for recovery. A model produced by NASA has shown a reduction in nitrogen dioxide concentrations by nearly 20% since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic (Streiff, 2020). This is just one of the positive effects this empty year has had on our climate. In this past year, we have witnessed the remarkable kindness and support of strangers, and felt mentally and physically revitalised. We witnessed the beauty of wildlife returning to our towns, and watched waters clearing of
ii: The Chemistry Column pollution (Yunus, Masago, and Hijioka, 2020). This is our final lesson. If we heed it well, as a reward for playing our part, we may yet witness the return of Usnea.
References Askham, B. (2020) Nature and pollution: what lichens tell us about toxic air. [online] Natural History Museum. [Accessed 17 Jan. 2020]. Cocchietto, M., Skert, N., and Sava, P. (2002) A review on usnic acid, an interesting natural compound. The Science of Nature, 89(4): 137146. Fitriani, L., Afifah, Ismed, F, and Bakhtiar, A. (2019) Hydrogel Formulation pf Usnic Acid and Antibacterial Activity Test Against Propionibacterium acne. Scientia Pharmaceutica, 87(1): 1-8. Grass Roots Remedies (2017). Herb Profile: Old Man’s Beard Lichen. [online] [Accessed 17 Jan. 2020]. Guo, L., Shi, Q., Fang, J., Mei, N., Ali, A., Lewis, S., Leakey, J., and Frankos, V. (2008) Review of Usnic Acid and Usnea barbata Toxicity. J Environ Sci Health C Environ Carcinog Ecotoxicol, 26(4): 317-338. Maciag-Dorszyńska, M., Węgrzyn, G., and Guzow-Krzemińska, B. (2014) Antibacterial activity of lichen secondary metabolite usnic acid is primarily caused by inhibition of RNA and DNA synthesis. Federation of European Microbiological Societies Microbiology letters, 353: 57-62.
Pescott, O., Simkin, J., August, T., Randle, Z., Dore, A., and Botham, M. (2015) Air pollution and its effect on lichens, bryophytes, and lichen-feeding Lepidoptera: review and evidence from biological records. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 115, 611-635. Silhavy, T., Kahne, D., and Walker, S. (2010) The Bacterial Cell Envelope. Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Perspectives in Biology, 2(5): a000414. Streiff, L. (2020) NASA model reveals how much COVID-related pollution levels deviated from the norm. [online] NASA. [Accessed 17 Jan. 2020]. Yunus, A., Masago, Y., and Hijioka, Y. (2020) Covid-19 and surface water quality: Improved lake water quality during the lockdown. Science of the Total Environment [online] 731, 1-8. [Accessed 17 Jan. 2020].
Tansy Lee Moir Calder One Limbed Beech
iii: The Messy Medic
Skin Khadija Meghrawi You are delivered to the world in an envelope. It is the soft, flexible covering of skin. Technically the largest organ, but with the purpose of enveloping the rest of them; tissue paper that tears and stretches. Skin has three main functions: protection, regulation, and sensation. Five different types of receptors respond to pain and touch. This is an instrument fine-tuned to each sensation. Vitamin D, essential for bone growth and energy, is a product of the touch of your skin against sunlight. Body temperature is adjusted— depending on the extent or absence of outside warmth —with a precision no thermostat could hope to achieve. Your skin also protects you from outside infection and disease, but not by shielding you. Instead, it interacts with the outside environment— your hands gloved in a living, breathing barrier through which you can still feel. Friendly microbes roam across the skin’s surface; a bustling crowd that leaves little room for more harmful infiltrates. The composition of your skin varies across the surface of your body. Under your eyes, for example, it is thinnest, which is why it is one of the first areas to be wrinkled by the passage of time. But your body knows where it needs to grow thick skin— it’s found over the soles of the feet and the palms of your hands, where you make contact with the outside world. No hair is found there, because warmth cannot be provided at the expense of better protection against the external elements. You’re feeling everything here so much more closely. Three layers make up your skin, and the hypodermis is the deepest layer. It is the body’s major store of fat tissue— a loose blanket of insulation, varying in size from person to person, depending on the amount of fat they have. The next layer, your dermis, is far more structured— providing tensile strength in the face of stress, while being knitted with
connective tissue that cushions the body from strain. The uppermost layer of your skin contains keratinocytes. They are responsible for producing keratin, the substance that forms your protective barriers. These cells move from the bottom to the top of your skin layers and, as they do, they undergo a process of their own destruction, removing more and more of their inner components as they migrate. The higher they rise, the more of themselves they lose. Eventually, they are entirely surface— they have lost all their capacity for renewal and reproduction, now all they do is produce. The skin we see is the most superficial, and the most dead. Your skin sheds itself every 28 days, without a trace. Reptiles leave dramatic relics behind, some discarding their entire skin in one piece. They abandon their old outsides to the world like carcasses. But the renewal that happens within us is rarely visible. Dead skin creates a billion tons of dust in the earth’s atmosphere, yet we move through the world unaware of the remains we leave behind. Your skin records, remembers. Deficiencies, disease, damage are scrawled across your body like a notebook. Warning signs of systems breaking down inside are flashed on the surface, to the outside world. Changes in your skin can sometimes signal changes in your overall health. These can be dramatic but disproportionate. Boils, while oozing and alarming, can disappear after a course of antibiotics— but all too often, they’re the only indication of something far more dangerous. Moles can be brown, small, unremarkable— and cancerous. Your chances of survival depend on how quickly you can see a change in a birthmark you’ve ignored for most of your life. A spot-the-difference game you don’t even know you’re playing— except it’s not a game, and the stakes are devastatingly high. Sometimes the signs appear and disappear as quickly as a magic trick; spider naevi are red spots that burst across the stomach like webs and indicate long-standing liver disease. Bruises aren’t
iii: The Messy Medic
always the black and bloody evidence of destruction inflicted on you by others, sometimes they’re a stain of blood spilling out under the skin like an upturned glass. Other times, they’re markers of an underlying disorder— where your blood runs too thin, or where it cannot knit itself back together the way it should. Sometimes, life’s marks remain. Months of malnutrition quickly become years of brittle nails and yellowing fingertips, visible even when you’re well-nourished again. If exposed to repeated friction, your skin can form a callus of additional thickness, furnishing a temporary toughness to carry you through the increased pressure. But sometimes life proves too much. You tear, ripping through layers, into sudden exposure that must quickly be covered again. You’re in no condition to protect yourself on your own anymore and must rely on being cloaked by something else— a plaster or bandage —while you heal underneath. Severe damage leaves behind scars. They’re discoloured and messily aligned because they are rapidly formed; an immediate, but illconsidered response, instead of a rehearsed plan. Their tissue is of inferior functional quality to that of the original it has replaced— less resistant to radiation, for example, and unable to reform hair follicles and sweat glands. You’ve healed, but not everything can grow back. Your skin is not a notebook, in fact, but a page— written on, then written on again, and again— but never rewritten.
iii: Of Weeds & Weans
Eczema, dry skin, and kids Joseph Nolan Skin problems can be so distressing. They can be itchy, painful or both; they can be unsightly; they can be inexplicable and intractable; avoiding irritants can be burdensome, and treatment regimens can be messy and time consuming. Skin problems are a drag for children and their parents, no doubt about that. At a rough estimate, half of my paediatric practice is concerned with skin problems, and the largest part of that is eczema. So, let’s talk eczema and its less annoying sibling, dry skin. Dry skin is just that. Eczema comes with intense itching and obvious inflammation, dry skin doesn’t. Often it is flaky, somewhat itchy, it may crack or feel tight, but it doesn’t erupt with inflammation like eczema. However, people with eczema often have dry skin too, so it is worth discussing them together. Eczema is an atopic condition, meaning that it is due to a heightened inflammatory immune response— similar to that you get with an allergy. People with atopic conditions often also have multiple allergies and intolerances, demonstrating the close link. In eczema, inflammatory overreactions show up in the skin, with dryness, itching, cracking, bleeding, blistering, and weeping. The itching can be maddening, and many people will scratch until it bleeds. Wearing thin cotton gloves at night can help with nocturnal scratching. Exacerbating factors include: Heat— being tucked up in bed or overdressed Chemical irritants— soap, hand sanitiser, swimming pools, and the
well-intentioned application of essential oils Wet wearing— wet clothes or sweaty synthetic fabrics, being overheated and sweaty, hot water, frequent washing. Why do children get it? In short, no one is quite sure. Certainly, family history is often a factor, but I have seen many children who are the first in their families to suffer with atopy. Diet and nutrition, the child’s environment, medications, other health conditions, and stress, also contribute. So, here are some things you can do at home to help: Topical Treatments Topical applications are obvious with skin problems: you see them, they are uncomfortable, you want to put something on them. Certainly, to manage the itching and pain, something must be put on. Let’s think this through... If you have a hot, itchy, irritated, possibly bleeding, weepy thing, what do you want to use on it? Oil holds heat— it’s great for basting meat and warming up grandma’s arthritic knees, but do you really want it on itchy inflammation? Aloe gel is cool and soothing when fresh, but it dries tight and hard, removing oil from the skin. Great for hot, blistered, weeping skin; not so great if it is dry, flaking, and cracked. Cream is the thing. Cream is a mixture of oil and water, and it possesses the perfect blend of cooling moisture and softening oil. The drier the skin, the richer the cream it needs; hot and weepy requires light and cool.
iii: Of Weeds & Weans Wearing cotton clothing, avoiding overdressing, changing nappies as soon as they are wet or soiled, nappy-free time, and using natural fibre cloth nappy covers, all make a difference, too. Diet and Nutrition With eczema, avoiding three key things almost always makes a big difference: cow’s dairy (milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream), tomatoes (pasta sauces, pizza, ketchup, chilli, curries, etc.), and sugar (sweets, biscuits, cakes, diluting juices, fruit juice, fizzy pop, hot chocolate, flavoured milk, etc.). The dairy connection is generally well known. Avoid it all together and instead go for any of the many excellent available substitutes (excepting soya milk, which has its own issues and propensity to cause allergies and reactions.). Tomatoes, especially tinned or cooked, are high in various acids and have a relatively low pH. An issue here is that inflamed tissue is already acidic: inflammation reduces blood flow into and out of an area, allowing acidic cellular wastes to build up (think lactic and pyruvic acids, and carbon dioxide). Eating low pH foods, like tomatoes, means acidifying the tissue further and exacerbating the inflammation. And thirdly, sugar. Well, sugar is proinflammatory, so any bit of inflammation in the body is going to be worse after eating it. It is an addictive stimulant, with a great deal of research establishing links between sugar, systemic inflammation, and a who’s who of modern health horrors, including obesity, diabetes, and cancer. It really has to go. How long these foods need to be avoided— excepting sugar which should just go —is a matter of some experimentation. Some children find they can, once their skin is clear, have modest quantities of these foods fairly regularly without apparent reaction; other children cannot. We tend always to focus on what to cut out, what to avoid. Adding things is every bit as important, arguably more so. So, what do children with eczema and dry skin need? They
need nutrients so their livers— responsible for detoxifying many of the products of inflammation -—can function optimally. They need nutrients to build healthy skin. They need vegetables. Brassicas like broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and cabbage, are packed with nutrients and aid detoxification. Spinach, carrots, peppers, peas, corn, sweet potatoes, cucumbers, fresh beans, lettuces, etc. are full of nutrients and anti-inflammatory compounds, and they fill up space in little bellies where cookies might otherwise feel good. Healthy skin needs a lot of fat to maintain its suppleness and elasticity, and to function as a watertight barrier. So, children need healthy fats to repair and maintain their dermises. As a side note, healthy fats are also vital for optimal functioning of the brain and nervous system, so with children for whom stress is a factor, adequate lipid intake is doubly important. Good sources of healthy fats include hemp and flax oils, shelled hemp seeds and milled flax seed, nuts, seeds like sunflower and pumpkin, sesame and poppy seeds, avocados, olive oil, coconut oil, etc. The catch is that cooking destroys the healthy fats in these oils and renders them unsuitable for purpose. So, the nuts, seeds, fruits, and oils, must be added to food after it is off the heat. Ghee— which contains neither lactose nor milk protein —very rarely causes reactions in people with dairy intolerances, and cold-water oily fishes— like mackerel and salmon —are also good sources of healthy fats. Drinking plenty of water is essential. Yes, the skin needs water and oil to maintain its texture but, most importantly, water transports body wastes. Water in blood and lymph, and then in urine, faeces, and sweat moves waste products through and out of the body. If water in in short supply, elimination suffers. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Herbs When treating dry skin and eczema, you are encouraging the body to build and maintain healthy skin, reduce inflammation, and optimise immune function. Trifolium pratense
iii: Of Weeds & Weans (Red Clover) is one of the herbs I use most. It is sweet and moistening, and rich in nutrients. The nutrients in Clover help the body to both build and maintain healthy skin. The herb also has an affinity for the lymphatic system, helping carry away waste products and modulate the inflammatory immune response. Eczema frequently appears in spots with a high concentration of lymph nodes— the backs of knees, the neck, the abdomen, the armpits — and often has a yellowish colour. Both location and colour indicate that the lymphatics need a boost. Red Clover is anti-inflammatory and gently improves circulation, bringing water and nutrients to the skin to aid repair and rebuilding. Plus, Red Clover tastes lovely, mild and sweet. It’s a pretty pink thing, too. Use Red Clover in tea and tincture. Glycyrrhiza glabra (Liquorice) is an unbeatable anti-inflammatory. It is sweet and moistening and helps— to my mind —to improve the flavours of other, more challenging, herbs. Children often like sweet things, and Liquorice can be very helpful for that, alone. But the antiinflammatory action makes it really indispensable for eczema. Used topically in a cream, it can stand in quite well for steroid creams, and I often use it to prevent the flareups that you get when steroids are stopped. It helps to reduce inflammation in the skin. As a ‘moistening’ herb, Liquorice helps lymph flow, bringing water to inflamed areas and improving waste removal. As we’ve seen, optimising lymphatic flow also helps modulate the inflammatory immune response. Use Liquorice in tea, tincture, glycerite, and cream. Achillea millefolium (Yarrow) is one of Scotland’s most useful medicinal herbs. It does nearly everything, and is ubiquitous. In the context of skin and eczema, I use it partly for its mineral content— helping repair and rebuild healthy skin. Being bitter, Yarrow also improves liver function and lipid absorption for those healthy fats. It has an affinity for the inflammatory immune response, and I also use it for hay fever and other allergies. Like Calendula officinalis and Sambucus nigra flos., with whom I often combine it for hay fever,
Yarrow helps to strengthen the skin and improve both its structure and function. The herb also modulates circulation and the functionality of blood vessels, bringing blood and nutrients to the skin to aid repair. Give Yarrow in tea, tincture, and aromatic water. Topically for itchy dry skin, I use Stellaria media (Chickweed) cream. Chickweed helps to improve lymphatic flow, thereby reducing inflammation and itching. It’s a very gentle herb, ideally suited to children. Chickweed creams tend to be on the lighter side, and they work very well for dry and itchy skin, although it isn’t really enough for inflamed eczema, and you will need to go bigger. For eczema itself, I typically recommend a cream with Calendula, Matricaria recutita (Chamomile), or Borago officinalis (Starflower, Borage) seed oil. The first two, in particular, are usually made as thick, rich creams and work well for very dry and inflamed conditions. Lastly, there is another simple and easy home remedy for dry, itchy, and inflamed skin: Oat Baths. Avena sativa (Oats) is a wonderful skin remedy. Eat them of course, but also put them in the bath. Here is how: Take a couple of handfuls of porridge oats and tie them in an old sock. Run hot water into the bathtub, steeping the sock like a giant teabag. After a few minutes of soaking, massage the sock until the water gets milky. Bathe as usual. With dry skin and eczema, soap exacerbates the problem, so avoid it if possible. In children, this is not usually a problem, although older kids, teens, and adults, will need to use a little here and there. You can also add Epsom or Dead Sea salts to the bath for an extrasoothing boost. Happy Herbing!
Tansy Lee Moir Rapids
iv: Our Editor in the Field
Kyra Pollitt meets Amanda Saurin This day has come, and I’m nervous. As I emerge, early, from my wee Hebridean hobbit hole, I find myself at the end of a rainbow. I mean, actually at the end of a rainbow— my house is the pot of gold. I don’t have time to get out my shovel and dig, but I take it as a good omen, and I start my journey with a skip. I’m travelling from the East of North Harris to the West of South Harris and, all along the way, that rainbow seems to have coloured the scenery. There is the brave red of the post box at Reinigeadal, yellow in winter grasses, pink morning clouds, the green of the mosses, the purple hue of wet rock, orange bracken, and the impossible azure of the crashing surf at Horgabost. When I first moved to Harris, I was still an Herbology student at RBGE and dreamt I might one day brew potions and tinctures for the island Distillery. That was before I discovered an existing apothecary range, prepared specifically to complement Harris Gin by the Distillery’s consultant, from Lewes in East Sussex, Amanda Saurin. No matter, I reasoned, I would set up an island apothecary instead. A while later, the beautiful Temple café, situated on the island’s best stretch of wildflower machair, was put up for sale, along with a house and croft. Whilst I pondered how to make a dream a reality, it was sold— to one Amanda Saurin, rumoured to be thinking of turning it into… do I need to finish this sentence? Now, I’m about to meet this woman who seems always three steps ahead of me. I’m unsure if I’ll be able to like her, and my inner envy gremlin isn’t even sure I should try. Of course, when I do meet her, she’s lovely— warm, charming, generous, intelligent, and oh so herbally erudite. It’s quite a relief, in a way. We sit together outside the café, on a glorious day, in the Covid-friendly fresh winter breeze, while Amanda tells me her story, and I feel as if I’ve been allowed to listen to big girls’ talk. Before us stretch sea, mountain and machair— an SSSI area, and what Amanda sees as ‘the terroir of the Hebrides’. But I’m getting ahead
of myself, and one shouldn’t try to jump too far, too fast. Slow is important to Amanda: You have to work your way, plant by plant, until you understand what they need and how to get the best out of them. Amanda grew up in Edinburgh, spending childhood holidays in the Highlands. She studied Law at Southampton University— where she found the physical environment a ‘terrible mistake,’ but met her husband. At the age of 25, she moved to rural Wales. By now a mother of two, Amanda wanted an alternative to conventional medicine for her children, and so began her engagement with plants, herbs and homeopathy. A mother and ceramist by day, she was also busy with herbal ‘books, books, books, planting, testing, and trying’. Time, she notes, is ‘the best way to understand each and every plant’ and I am beginning to understand time as something Amanda commands firmly. Yet it’s at this point that her idyll is interrupted, when her husband’s career dictates a move to beautiful, but ‘unwild’, Sussex: There is nowhere you can walk where you won’t meet someone, nowhere you can be where you won’t hear a car, or a plane, or a train. So, Amanda creates a wild garden— developing an orchard, a herb area and even a poison garden, which her, now four, children learn to treat with due respect. She completes her four-year Homeopathy qualification and does a lot of work with mother tinctures and flower remedies. Then the family moves to Cyprus, where Amanda meets the herbalist and Sufi, Miriam Khan. Over the next seven years, Miriam teaches her to distil waters and oils. As we brace the fresh Hebridean breeze, Amanda conjures warm air and sea, Orange Blossom (Citrus aurantium), Mountain Sage (Salvia officinalis), Wild Thyme (Thymus serpyllum), Kekik (Origanum majorana) and fresh honey. Mid-reverie, Amanda suggests I raise my eyes from my notebook, and there— beyond the place of summer ‘orchids, orchids, orchids’ —is
iv: Our Editor in the Field the other end of a rainbow; right here, right now. When Amanda returns to Sussex, she establishes A. S. Apothecary, her fifth and final child goes to university, and she is met with another golden opportunity. Whilst running a workshop in 2014, she is approached by a young woman whose father owns a Distillery. Soon after, she is visited by ‘a magnificent fellow, dressed in tweed’ and they spend an afternoon discussing botanicals. Amanda stresses the importance of the fresh and the local in her practice: You grow the plants, you distil them, and you follow the rule of no more than 25 feet between plant and production. Don’t buy stuff in. Do it yourself. It makes a HUGE difference to the product. That means you can exercise discretion at the picking stage, your botanicals do not have to travel, and they are dried in the right conditions. Amanda soon finds herself being flown to the Western Isles to advise on the potential of the indigenous flora, and afterwards commissioned to develop the famous ‘marine pop’ of her Sugar Kelp Aromatic Water, companion to Isle of Harris Gin, which she has followed with a small-batch Gorse Tincture (a blend of Ulex europaeus, Crataegus monogyna, Urtica dioica, with a twist of Citrus limon), and a seasonal Harris Wild Rose Tincture (Rosa rugosa, sun-dried Cypriot Monarda fistulosa, Sambucus nigra, Prunus spinosa) that flew off the shelves. Yet, as Amanda points out: The beauty of working with plants is that you never finish work. Certainly, she is indefatigable. Following a steady stream of clients seeking herbal help for eczema and psoriasis, she finds herself ‘accidentally in the beauty industry’. We spit for a while about hyaluronic acid, retinol, cosmeceuticals, greenwashing and the whole anti-ageing ‘nonsense’. By contrast, Amanda suggests we seek ‘not youth, but health’ and finds ‘whole plants make extraordinary skincare’. She notes:
There is an appetite for genuinely clean skincare and there are very few people genuinely doing it. Hence, A.S. Apothecary grows Roses (R. mundi, R. damascena, R. rubiginosa), Calendula (C. officinalis), Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) and Hypericum (Hypericum perforata) on its Sussex farm, and uses the fresh oil of Olives (Olea europaea) harvested from single Cretan groves, to make properly green, ‘gender fluid’ products, beautifully branded by Melissa Bourke— former Art Director of Harper’s Bazaar. When choosing skincare, Amanda advises: Look at the label— if you can’t say it, don’t buy it. If it says, ‘extracts of’ consider how many processes the plant has gone through. Ultimately, put on your skin nothing you can’t spread on toast. It was the combination of her involvement with Harris Distillery and her skincare expertise— her practices as distiller, rectifier, modifier — that facilitated her ‘nimble’ response to Covid19; a beautiful, first-to-market, hand sanitizer, which smells and feels divine and doesn’t leave the hands feeling brutalized. For every bottle sold, Amanda gives three away to key workers and the vulnerable, simply because, she says, ‘it’s in my gift’. It was the pandemic which gifted her the opportunity to move to Harris full-time— leaving her daughter, Bell, in charge of the Sussex operation. So here we both sit, master and apprentice, amidst the beauty and the gift of this place. We talk of rediscovery, as Amanda contrasts the tall, thin, wiry stalks of her Sussex Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria) to the sturdy stem, taste and scent profile of its Hebridean counterpart: It’s like different plant! If you love plants, and work with plants and herbs, you are always learning. You think you know it, but you never do. You only know how little you know. Readying to leave, we move to the café door where I notice a tribute to the Scottish botanist, William MacGillivray (1796-1852). It seems the
iv: Our Editor in the Field Fates have conspired to ensure Amanda’s latest venture is taking place on the very site where the famous field naturalist spent his formative years. ‘Yes, I’ve been reading up on him’, she says: he seems unfathomably prejudiced against people from Lancashire, describing them as ‘short-legged’! When I protest that my legs are of adequate length, and I am originally from Lancashire, Amanda tells me her husband is, too. There follows the usual conversation in which we exchange co-ordinates. We get beyond county, to city, then village, then street, eventually discovering that Amanda’s husband and I played together as children— when he visited his grandparents, who lived opposite my parents. Well, how’s that for fate, locality and co-incidence?
Images: Harris Distillery, Amanda Saurin courtesy of Grove Communications for Harris Distillery. All other images, Kyra Pollitt.
Tansy Lee Moir Tribe and Territory
v: Anthroposophical Views
Getting under the skin Dora Wagner Everyone is in his own consciousness As in his own skin and lives directly only in the same. Arthur Schopenhauer, trans. D. Wagner
Two months ago, I injured the tip of my middle finger very badly when I was cutting faded plants. The bleeding was difficult to stop, so I had to quit gardening for a while. Two months later, there is nothing left of the wound and I consider this a great miracle. The capabilities of skin are fascinating, aren't they? One of the most remarkable features of human skin is its nakedness. Unlike other animals, humans have no fur, no feathers, no spines, no horns, no manes with which to equip themselves for life under particular environmental and climatic conditions (Jachens, 2012). As an outpost of the brain, our skin has numerous sensors that react to changes in our environment and warn us of possible dangers. The mechanoreceptors of the skin include cells for touch, pressure or vibration; thermoreceptors convey the sensations of warmth or cold; nociceptors, sensations of pain. Positive tactile perceptions are the basis for our primal trust in human existence. Body and skin contact are vital for all of us, carrying real social bonds and enabling self-awareness. In the sense of touch, we experience ourselves, our ego, the boundaries of our body as distinct from the environment. Jachens (2018) describes our perceptions of touch, warmth and vibration as conscious perceptual activities, whilst smell, taste and certain aspects of the perception of light are unconscious perceptions of matter and its properties. There is some evidence (e.g. Yong, 2009) that when we follow a speaker, we not only listen with our ears but watch their facial expressions and experience the air puffs of their speech as tactile stimuli via the skin. In this way, the skin is also involved in hearing. We
also ‘see’ with our skin, to the extent that the absorption of light interacts with melanin, effects vitamin D synthesis, and accelerates growth in our hair follicles (Bäumler, 2006; Buscone et al, 2017). Our skin has even been shown to respond to the scent of Sandalwood (Santalum album), and other odours (Gelis et al, 2016). In fact, the skin’s olfactory receptors have been found in increased concentrations within melanomas and also in mRNA. In both cases, the olfactory receptors are upregulated; when activated, they inhibit both the growth and the migration of cancer cells, suggesting potential as a novel target in the treatment of skin cancer or disorders of pigmentation (ibid.). The skin says a lot about the person inside it; our facial skin may redden with excitement, turn pale with panic, itch with nerves. These phenomena are due to changes in blood circulation and can tell us much. Thus, as an intrinsic element in human facial expression, skin becomes a representatively designed surface. No wonder it provides such rich material for metaphor. A person wearing a thick coat is not necessarily ‘thin-skinned’; even if you ‘don't feel comfortable in your skin’, you may not wish to ‘jump out of’ it; nor does anyone hope to succeed merely by ‘the skin of their teeth’. Maintaining skin health is a very complex matter, involving diet, environment and lifestyle. Therefore, I will not report here on plants used to treat skin conditions, but describe how, in anthroposophical medicine, healing substances are applied to specific areas of the skin to benefit the whole person.
v: Anthroposophical Views
The four elements— earth, water, light and warmth —can have healing effects on our body from the outside. Since the physiological reactions of our skin are immense, intentionally administered external applications have a firm place in treatment, including self-treatment, especially for less severe but distressing complaints. Warming and cooling the body has always played an important role in healing. For thousands of years, compresses, therapeutic baths, ointments and liniments with oils have been among the healing treasures of many cultures (Nedoma, 2020). There is both a physical and a mental-spiritual dimension at play here: when it is warm, we expand; in the cold, we withdraw. This is why warmth is an important therapeutic and nursing element in anthroposophical medicine, and many treatments aim to protect and promote warmth in body, mind and soul. We are all familiar with calf compresses for fever. A century ago, based on holistic diagnosis and treatment, external applications were integrated into the anthroposophical healing at the Ita-Wegmann Clinic in Arlesheim, (Steiner & Wegmann,1925). Still today, they form an essential element in the professional competence of anthroposophical nurses and doctors, even in acute situations (van Dam, 2007).
Since mainstream medicine has turned to evidence-based scientific research, external applications to the skin have become less popular— possibly because it is not easy to calculate the amount of substance absorbed. However, if active ingredients are absorbed through the skin and not the digestive tract, side effects can largely be avoided. Thus, cutaneous application— in the form of herbal pads or poultices; beeswax presses; compresses with herbal tinctures, oils or ointments; or steam and foot baths with plant additives —is always accompanied by awareness, sensation, and immediate perception. Oral medication is only initially perceived via taste and touch, whilst any further processes occur unconsciously, and possible effects and side-effects are only noticed much later. Four aspects are important when carrying out an external application: substance; medium; area of application; and attitude. The substance used could be a plant extract— such as Yarrow (Achillea millefolium), Lemon (Citrus limon) or Ginger (Zingiber officinale) —a mineral (such as magnesium, copper or gold), or an animal substance (such as honey, quark or beeswax). The medium could be warm, cold, dry or moist. The area of application might be the back, chest, kidney, liver, face, or feet.
v: Anthroposophical Views The caregiver's attitude should be supportive— attentive, nurturing, calm. These four aspects are highly interdependent and can be modified in various ways— for example, by duration, frequency, time of day, or combination of substances. Simply taking the time and permission to lie down and be cared for, to be enveloped, is itself beneficial. Accordingly, it’s preferable if the application can be carried out in a quiet room, and the presence of a carer can be important— for example, to intervene in cases of discomfort. Whilst any of these external applications can be wonderful, one in particular has brought me great relief. The discomfort and pain of an impingement syndrome had been going on for a very long time, when I started using ginger applications on my back and shoulders. Zingiber officinale is an ancient plant that has been valued in the diet and traditional medicine of Eastern cultures for thousands of years. It can ward off a cold, aid digestion, help with travel sickness and sometimes even relieve nausea during chemotherapy. Anthroposophical doctors still use Ginger compresses for states of exhaustion or depression. Ginger also has a warming and relaxing effect when applied externally. European hospitals specialising in anthroposophical medicine report beneficial effects for a range of chronic health conditions, when Ginger is applied externally as a compress, patch or in a footbath and the
application is even suitable for self-treatment (Therkleson, 2010; Thiesen, 2014; Chrubasik et al., 2005). To prepare the poultice, soak five tablespoons of freshly grated Ginger or Ginger powder in about 150ml of boiling water for ten minutes, in a covered bowl. Then, infuse this extract with about one litre of hot water. Soak a cotton cloth with this hot ginger infusion, wring it out and cover with a second, slightly larger cloth. Place the whole on the back, over the kidney region, for thirty minutes, holding it in place with a thick woollen bandage. For self-treatment, it is best to put these materials in place before lying down. Cover up warmly and lie comfortably and quietly during the entire treatment— if necessary, have a hot water bottle ready for the feet. After about ten minutes, you’ll notice an intense feeling of warmth, which leads to a strengthening of the entire body and thus to a pleasant relaxation. After 30 minutes, remove the compress and rest for a further 15-30 minutes. The moist, fresh root is more stimulating than the powder, although the latter is easier to handle. At the same time, you need more strength to cope with the mild pungency of freshly grated Ginger (adapted from Sommer, 2018; Therkleson, 2010). Positive tactile experiences are absolutely necessary for humans to maintain health and to develop a strong and vibrant confidence in life. They form the basis for our sense of security, rootedness in our own bodies, and the feeling of being at home. Particularly in these difficult times of social distancing and fear of infection, healing external applications are of inestimable value and ‘play an essential role in the effort to humanise medicine’ (van Dam, 2007). Images: Dora Wagner, except ‘Sensory receptors in the skin’, from Sunshineconnelly at English Wikibooks, licenced under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0
v: Anthroposophical Views References Bäumler, W. (2006) Wechselwirkung von Licht und Gewebe, in Landthaler, M. & Hohenleutner, U. (eds) Lasertherapie in der Dermatologie. Springer: Berlin, Heidelberg Buscone S.; Mardaryev A-N.; Raafs, B. et al (2017) ‘A new path in defining light parameters for hair growth: Discovery and modulation of photoreceptors in human hair follicle’ in Lasers in Surgery and Medicine 49(7):705-718 Chrubasik S.; Pittler, M.H.& Roufogalis, B.D. (2005) ‘Zingiberis rhizoma: A Comprehensive Review of the Ginger Effect and Efficacy Profiles‘, in Phytomedicine, 12 (9): 684–701 Gelis, L.; Jovancevic, N.; Veitinger, S.; Mandal, B.; Arndt, H-D.; Neuhaus, E.M. & Hatt, H. (2016) ‘Functional Characterization of the Odorant Receptor 51E2 in Human Melanocytes’, in Journal of Biological Chemistry 291(34):17772-17786 Jachens, L. (2018) ‘Die Haut als Sinnesorgan‘, in Der Merkurstab. Zeitschrift fur Anthroposophische Medizin 71(1):23-33 Jachens, L. (2012) Dermatologie; Grundlagen und therapeutische Konzepte in der AnthroposophischenMedizin. Salumed-Verlag: Berlin Nedoma, G. (2020) Traditionelle Hautmedizin. Servus: Salzburg Sommer, M. (2018) Heilpflanzen, Verlag Urachhaus: Stuttgart Steiner, R. & Wegmann, I. (1925/ 1997) Extending Practical Medicine: Fundamental principles Based on the Science of the Spirit, trans. Anna R. Meuss, 5 edition. Rudolf Steiner Press: Forest Row Therkleson, T. (2010) ‘Ginger Compress Therapy for Adults with Osteoarthritis’, in Journal of Advanced Nursing, 66 (10): 2225– 2233 Thiesen, A. (2014) ‘Ingwerauflage bei Rückenschmerzen‘, in Zeitschrift für Komplementärmedizin, 6 (02):62–63 van Dam, J. (2007) ‘The Role of External Applications in Modern Medicine’, in Der Merkurstab, Zeitschrift für Anthroposophische Medizin, 60(2):148-150 Yong, E. (2009) ‘How our skin helps us to listen’, in National Geographic, November 25 issue. th
v: Notes from the Brewroom
Awakening salve Ann King
v: Notes from the Brewroom As the light begins to return, and nature gradually unfurls and stretches from winter hibernation, it is tempting to rush into doing— without pausing and respecting the slow pace around us. Many of us have spent longer periods indoors, in artificially heated environments which are both draining and intensely drying— particularly on the skin, our biggest sensory organ. We also tend to drink less water, adding to mild dehydration from the inside out. So, it is hardly surprising that sensitivity, overall dryness and, in extreme cases, splitting or cracking are common skin complaints at this time of year. Healthy skin acts as a protective barrier against pathogens and bad bacteria, so treating our skin carefully is an important preventative measure. This month— when our skin is a little more fragile than normal and perhaps prone to fungal infection —we have a salve which will both effectively moisturize and serve as an antifungal and antiseptic antidote to any scratches and scrapes acquired. Of course, the best prevention is a slow and mindful changing of gear, but a pot of salve is handy in case of any wildcrafting mishaps. Old Man’s Beard (Usnea spp) has antimicrobial, antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral properties and is rich in polysaccharides— making it a good choice for a rescue salve. Olive oil (Olea europaea) is used here to create a nonpenetrating barrier, whilst lubricating and purifying. Cocoa butter (Theobroma cacao) moisturizes, being moisture-retentive and hydrating, whilst the Shea butter (Vitellaria paradoxa) absorbs slowly and is intensely moisturizing. The Pine (Pinus sylvestris) is added predominantly for the fragrance; an olfactory grounding note invoking a gradual awakening in safe surroundings. Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) instils a sense of peace and calm, complementing the earthy tones of the Pine.
Ingredients 4 tbsp infused Olive oil 1 handful of fresh Usnea 1 tbsp grated Beeswax or ½ tbsp candelilla wax pearls 1 tbsp Cocoa butter 1 tbsp Shea butter 6 drops vitamin E oil 5 drops of Lavender and 5 drops of Pine essential oils 4x 15g containers Method 1. Dry the Old Man’s Beard (Usnea spp.). We prefer to place a paper towel on top of a cooling rack, then leave in a well-aired, warm and dark space for a few days. Once dried, the Usnea can be powdered using a spice or coffee grinder. This powder should then be heated gently with the olive oil, in a double boiler, until hot to the touch, but not boiling. The mix should then be allowed to cool naturally before reheating gently once again. Ideally, this process should continue a few times over a couple of days to get the maximum extraction. The resulting Usnea infusion should be strained through fine mesh or muslin into a sterilized jar, ready for the next step. 2. Add the infused oil to the three chosen fats in a double boiler, heat gently and stir until combined. 3. Have the containers ready, with the lids off. Add the essential oils and vitamin E to the base salve, and pour into the containers. Be aware that the volatile oils will evaporate, so it is important to get the lids on relatively quickly. Label and leave to cool completely.
v: Strange Fruit
Sausage skin Sarah Murphy I first heard of the strangely named Sausage Tree (Kigelia africana) from an Australian friend, who had one in her back garden. As a herbalist, she had heard traditional healers’ stories of it helping all manner of complaints— from ‘improving one’s manhood’, to soothing the maddening itch of eczema. Since then, I’ve had several unexpected and delightful encounters with this curious tree, which have led to us becoming firm friends. The first time I ‘met’ a Sausage Tree was on a visit to Israel. A family member introduced me to an impressive and beautiful specimen standing proud and tall at the end of the street. With its bulbous fruits dangling from long fruit stalks, like the pendulums of some gigantic grandfather clock, it truly was a sight to behold. Although her children had passed it every day on their way home from school, she told me, and might otherwise be tempted to shelter from the heat under its canopy, they were always careful to walk around the tree and never under it. As the ripe fruits can grow to a metre long and weigh up to 12kg, they were naturally keen to avoid any possibility of one dropping on their heads. Returning half-way round the world to Cornwall, I was amazed to discover that a much smaller specimen was happily housed in one of the tropical biomes at the nearby Eden Project. I paid a visit as soon as I could. Ever since, I’ve made it my mission to learn all I can about this remarkable tree, in the hope that more people might benefit from its many, untapped gifts. Although relatively unknown in the West, extracts from the fruit, leaves and bark of Kigelia africana have elsewhere long been employed in the treatment of a wide variety of health complaints. Traditional healers (Bello et al, 2016) dry the fruit and grind it into a powder, which is then used as a poultice to help heal wounds, abscesses and ulcers. In Zimbabwe, a decoction is made from the bark and used as a mouthwash to relieve toothache (Gelfland et al, 1985). In West Africa, a preparation made from the leaves is used to treat snakebites
(Nabatanzi et al, 2020). It is worth noting that the pulp of the unripe fruit has strong purgative properties and is highly poisonous if ingested (Watt, & Breyer-Brandwijk, 1962). A number of scientific studies—including research conducted at King’s College Hospital (Moi, 2007) and collated at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (Plants of the World Online), increasingly support anecdotal claims that preparations from the fruit extract, applied topically, may be beneficial for common skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. As studies show that there has continued to be a significant rise in the number of people visiting their GP’s offices seeking help for the symptoms of eczema (Simpson et al, 2009), it is certainly worth exploring alternative solutions to commonly prescribed steroid creams that with overuse, are known to thin the skin. Several biologically active compounds have been identified from K. africana; however, more studies are required to fully characterize its phytochemistry (Arkhipov et al, 2014) Of the three plant parts, fruit extracts have found the widest applications in the treatment of fungal and bacterial skin infections. This may justify their wider usage in skin care formulations (Nabatanzi et al, 2020). Extract of the fruit has also been shown to have antiinflammatory and analgesic properties, which may explain its efficacy in providing relief for the symptoms of eczema (Kamau et al, 2016). As a small batch herbalist, I don’t have the resources at my disposal to conduct clinical trials into the efficacy of Sausage Tree extracts, but the patient testimonies on my website provide some clinical evidence that my own topical preparations can really help. As increasing pressure is placed on our National Health Services, people are becoming more interested in self-help alternatives to GPprescribed skin care medications (Owen et al, 2001). I’m hopeful that, in the future, further
v: Strange Fruit research to scientifically validate traditional uses of K. africana will take place, and it will come to be viewed not just as a beautiful and unusual ornamental tree, but as a valuable medicinal crop. References Arkhipov, A.; Shalom, J.; Matthews, B. & Cock, I.E. (2014) ‘Metabolomic profiling of Kigelia africana extracts with anti-cancer activity by high resolution tandem mass spectroscopy’, in Pharmacognosy Communications, 4: 10–32 Bello, I.; Shehu, M.W.; Musa, M.; Zaini Asmawi, M. & Mahmud, R. (2016) ‘Kigelia africana (Lam.) Benth. (Sausage tree): Phytochemistry and pharmacological review of a quintessential African traditional medicinal plant’, in Journal of Ethnopharmacology, (189):253-76 Gelfand, M.; Mavi, S.; Drummond, R.B. & Ndemera, B. (1985) The Traditional Medical Practitioner in Zimbabwe. Gweru, Zimbabwe: Mambo Press Houghton, P.J and Jâger, A.K. (2002) ‘The sausage tree (Kigelia pinnata): ethnobotany and recent scientific work’, in The South African Journal of Botany, 68 (1):14-20 Jackson, S. and Beckett, K. (2012) ‘Sausage Tree Kigelia pinnata: An Ethnobotanical and Scientific Review’, in Herbalgram, The Journal of the American Botanical Council, 94:48-59 Kamau, K.J. (2006) ‘Antipyretic and AntiInflammatory Properties of Methanolic Extracts of Kigelia africana (Lam.) Benth. and Acacia hockii deWild in Animal Models’, Master’s Thesis, School of Pure and Applied Sciences, Kenyatta University Moi, G. (2007) ‘Chemistry and biological activity of Kigelia pinnata relevant to skin conditions’, PhD thesis, Kings College London Murphy, S. (2019) ‘The Sausage Tree – A traditional remedy for eczema and psoriasis’, blog post, www.alchemilla.co Nabatanzi, A.; Nkadimeng, S.M.; Lall, N.; Kabasa, J.D. & McGaw, L.J. (2020) ‘Ethnobotany, Phytochemistry and Pharmacological Activity of Kigelia africana (Lam.) Benth. (Bignoniaceae)’, in Plants 9(6) Special Edition: Medicinal Plants, 753.
Owen, D. K.; Lewith, G. & Stephens, C. R. (2001) ‘Can doctors respond to patients' increasing interest in complementary and alternative medicine?’, in British Medical Journal (Clinical research ed.), 322(7279): 154– 158 Plants of the World Online (Kew Science): www.powo.science.kew.org/taxon Simpson, C. R.; Newton, J.; Hippisley-Cox, J. & Sheikh, A. (2009) ‘Trends in the epidemiology and prescribing of medication for eczema in England’, in Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 102(3): 108–117 Watt, J.M. & Breyer-Brandwijk, M.G. (1962) The Medicinal and Poisonous Plants of Southern and Eastern Africa. 2nd ed. London, UK: Livingstone. www.alchemilla.co Images: Sarah Murphy
v: Flower Remedies
Love the skin you are in Anne Dalziel
The defects and faults of the mind are like wounds in the body; after all imaginable care has been taken to heal them up, still there will be a scar left behind, and they are in continual danger of breaking the skin and bursting out again. François de La Rochefoucauld From the cradle to the grave, touch is so important to our emotional wellbeing. The skin-to-skin of the newborn feeding at its mother’s breast generates our first feelings of security and love. Through soft, swaddling blankets, hugs and cuddles— from an early age, the skin plays a crucial role in our personal development. From the lovingly tended scraped knees of childhood, to the reassuring hand on our shoulder during challenging times and, if we are so fortunate, a hand held in love as we pass from this world. Developmental delay is common in children deprived of normal sensory stimulation— for example, in premature neonates and some institutionalized children (Ardiel and Rankin, 2010), and touch emerges as an important modality for the facilitation of our growth and development (ibid.). The skin can be a barometer of the emotions we are experiencing, but many people only focus on the skin once there is an abnormality, or a perceived problem. Yet, as Bach writes in The Twelve Healers (1999): Disturbing moods or states of mind, if allowed to continue, lead to a disturbance in the functions of body organs and tissues. Gupta and Gupta (1996) estimate that in at least one third of dermatology patients, effective management of skin disorder involved consideration of associated emotional factors. We are often not aware how deeply our feelings and emotions can run. Perhaps it’s easier just to look at what is on the surface— without giving much thought to what lies beneath those tears, or that angry outburst.
The field of psychodermatology, looks at how the mind affects the skin, discussing not only medicine, but anti-stress activities and antianxiety techniques— like meditation and mindfulness. Bach used flower essences to balance human emotions and stimulate the self-healing powers of the body. He thought that treatment of various ailments should focus not so much on symptoms, but on the underlying causes associated with feelings and emotions: flood the personality with the virtues of the flowers... when the soul and personality are in harmony, all is joy and peace, happiness and health. One of the first questions that a Bach Foundation Registered practitioner will ask a client is ‘How are you feeling?’ As each appropriate mix of remedies is taken, what lies beneath the surface will be revealed, like peeling an onion. For example, when we are tearful out of a sense of injustice, Vervain (Verbena officinalis) would be the choice. Then a layer of guilt might arise, so Pine (Pinus sylvestris) would be selected. Then perhaps, a layer of fear might be revealed, requiring Mimulus (Mimulus guttatus), and so on until balance is restored. Self-love is often the most difficult love, and people who suffer from skin complaints can find it a challenge to love their skin. For them, skin is just a source of pain and shame— they consider it a flaw and this, over time, can impact their self-worth. Very often during consultations, clients tell me they never get to celebrate having normal, good skin. They can have a poor image of themselves and lack confidence. Concerned that others will notice
v: Flower Remedies or comment on their condition, they may avoid taking part in social events. If these feelings are not addressed, this can severely impact their wellbeing and become a lifelong affliction. As Bach (1999) observes: The mind being the most delicate and sensitive part of the body, shows the onset and the course of disease much more definitely than the body, so that the outlook of mind is chosen as the guide as to which remedy or remedies are necessary. Take no notice of the disease, think only of the outlook on life of the one in distress.
References Ardiel, E.L. and Rankin, C.H. (2010) ‘The importance of touch in development’, in Paediatric Child Health, 15(3):153-6 Bach, E. (1999 edition) The Twelve Healers and Other Remedies, C.W Daniel: UK Gupta, M. A. and Gupta, A.K. (1996) ‘Psychodermatology: An update’, in Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 34 (6):1030-1046
Bach Flower Remedies are usually taken orally; two drops of the stock remedy directly on your tongue, or diluted in a cup of water and sipped from time to time. But flower remedies can also be used externally. To make a compress with Crab Apple (Malis pumila), dilute a few drops of the stock remedy in water, soak a piece of cloth or cotton in it, and then place it on the irritated part of the skin. A few drops of an essence added to bath water is another way to use flower remedies, and may help the purification process as well as relaxing both the mind and body. Crisis Combination is the only mix of five remedies in the whole system of Bach Flower Remedies. It is usually taken orally at times of extreme trauma and in emergency situations. There is also a Crisis Combination Cream that can be used for sensitive and stressed skin. This contains one additional flower essence, so six in total: Impatiens (Impatiens glandulifera) for impatience and irritability; Star of Bethlehem (Ornithogalum umbellatum) for shock; Cherry Plum (Prunus serasifera) for fear of the mind giving way; Rock Rose (Helianthemum nummularium) for extreme terror or panic; Clematis (C. spp.); and the sixth and final essence, Crab Apple (Malis pumila) for those who have a feeling of uncleanliness. The cream moisturizes dry, flaky skin and restores its natural condition. Use it to soothe bruises, cuts, scratches, blisters, sunburn or insect bites.
Tansy Lee Moir Harestanes Rooted Beech
vi: Foraging for Colour
Autumn’s whiskers Marissa Stoffer As an artist, I’m on a journey. It’s a journey of understanding place and ecology by foraging for colour. This journey allows me to tend to my health by slowing down, being in nature, observing, learning, and experimenting. I invite you to join me— to discover the natural colours found in local plants, lichen, and fungi; to learn more about our surroundings through observation, and creativity. So, let’s walk…. Imagine it’s autumn; exposed skeletal trees, rustic carpets of leaves, golden hues, mist, vapour, fog, boots in leafy hummus. Smell the earth. Look around as the season opens your senses and reveals the density of moss, lichen, and liverwort usually camouflaged by foliage. Their presence is magnified, exposed by the natural cycle of decomposition and change. Autumn is the best time of year to collect Usnea spp (Old Man’s Beard)— a type of lichen which hangs off old tree branches, sometimes by the metre. Old Man’s Beard is quite abundant in Scotland where the air is purest. Observing its growth and distribution provokes all sorts of questions about air quality and microclimates. But Old Man’s Beard is a slow grower. That’s why the strands should only be collected as gifts from the woodland floor, when they’ve fallen after heavy winds and rains. For me, discovering Old Man’s Beard turned an autumn walk into a colour— a useful outcome, which led me to learn more about lichen, making species recognition easier. Lichens are such complex organisms, and there are many questions yet to be answered, so I hope you’ll be inspired to look deeper into their mysterious world. Scotland has a rich history of natural dyeing— especially with lichens, which once played a significant role in the Scottish economy. Lichens were used on both a domestic and commercial scale, notably on the world-famous Harris tweed. Natural dyes are no longer efficient enough for today’s commercial production, so we commonly see synthetic
colours. Although the traditional practices have faded, there is still much to be gained by foraging for colour. Colours from nature can rival synthetics with their brilliance and lustre and can be extracted using simple household ingredients like water and mineral salts (known as mordants). You don’t need to use mordants for lichen dye extraction, as they often produce very brilliant colours on their own, but I’ll show you the results of both processes— and we’ll see how many shades Old Man’s Beard can yield. So, let’s begin with how the process works. Extraction There are two ways of extracting colour from lichen. The first is an ammonia fermentation method. This is useful for those lichen that are rich in vitamin C. It takes three months of steeping in a 50:50 solution of ammonia and water, before straining and simmering. Although this sounds like a long process, the resulting shades of purples and reds are said to be well worth it. The second, and more user-friendly way to extract colour, is the water simmering method. I started with a small amount of lichen and wool for my test. In my experiments, wool and silk have absorbed lichen dye best, but it is possible that plant fibres may work with other lichens. Before starting, you will want to wash your wool or silk using a PH neutral soap to remove any natural oils, then soak them in clean water for a minimum of one hour. Now follow these simple steps… Step 1: Soak the lichen (I used 15g) in boiled water and leave to steep overnight in a stainless-steel or glass pot. The amount of water does not need to be precise; it just needs to be enough to cover the lichens and the fibre you’ll be adding later. Step 2: Simmer the Old Man’s Beard in a pot for one hour. Step 3: Strain out the lichen, or simply add your wool to the dye water and simmer for a further hour. Do not let your dye liquid boil, or the colour will burn and spoil.
vi: Foraging for Colour
Step 4: Allow to cool, leaving the whole to soak overnight in the dye liquid. Step 5: Drain, wash your fabric in PH neutral soap, and air dry. Alterations You can play with colours by using mordants such as Allum, Baking Soda, Iron, and Copper. For best results, separate the dye liquid from your first dye extraction into small batches, adding more water if required. Add a ½ teaspoon of your mordant into the liquid of one of the batches. Then add your wet fabric and repeat the process of simmering in the mordanted dye liquid for 20-30 minutes, then leave to soak overnight to intensify the colour. For bright colours, you’ll need an equal weight of dye material to fabric. For my tests, I used only a small amount of each. If you don’t have enough dye material to match the weight of your fabric, don’t worry— the colours will simply come out fainter, which could be desirable.
Here’s my recipe from an experimental batch of dyeing: Ingredients 15g Old Man’s Beard 2½ pints of water 15g wool ½ tsp of mordants: Allum, Baking Soda, Iron, Copper Results Old Man’s Beard yielded a fine range of autumnal colours, from orange to different shades of brown, depending on the mordant I used. Images: Marissa Stoffer
Tansy Lee Moir Undercurrent
vii: Jazz Ecology
Christmas tree philosophy Ramsey Affifi Holiday season behind us, I walk down the street. Christmas trees are strewn across the pavements for collection. Well, that is the way we talk about it, at least. That these trees have had their root systems lobbed off doesn’t seem to bother holiday merrymakers, perhaps because that part of the tree is invisible anyway. But roots are complex structures comprising a significant quantity of a tree’s mass and volume. And so, it must be asked: in what sense do we really decorate ‘trees’? Soaked in water, the tree continues to perform in minimal ways we think make it a tree; it sits there, stays green for a while, and emits fragrance from its resins. But like believing a corpse is merely sleeping because his nails and hair are still growing, are we oblivious to a macabre spectacle? What is lost when roots are cut off? In his last decades, Charles Darwin was increasingly devoted to studying plants. He wrote a number of illuminating but less wellknown books on flowers, plant evolution and behaviour. Co-written with his son, On the power of movement in plants (1880) was his penultimate study. Its last few pages propose an arresting hypothesis that laid largely buried for over a hundred years. After conducting several experiments— pressing or burning root tip apices and examining subsequent changes to plant growth —they noticed an interesting phenomenon. If burnt on one side of a root tip, the plant’s aerial parts would grow the other way, even though this response would not occur were it burnt anywhere else (including further up the root). Injured plants seem to respond as a whole to local impacts on individual root tips. The root tips, they surmised, therefore play a special role in picking up relevant information and centralising a coordinated whole-organism response to it. The Darwins concluded root apices functioned analogously to a simple brain.
Is it absurd to use neural analogies to understand plants? Some assert it is plainly so (e.g., Alpi et al., 2007). But many metaphors used to describe neurons and their synapses were themselves borrowed from botany. Consider ‘arborisation’, ‘dendrite branching’ (double whammy there), and neural ‘pruning’: if plants prove an effective source to describe aspects of neurons, why deem it anthropomorphic (or animal-centric) to go the other way and investigate how neural thinking might better help us understand plants? The Darwins’ intriguing idea remained uprooted until the rise of contemporary plant behaviour and signalling research (Baluska et al, 2009). According to these authors, plants are analogous to animals with their heads buried in the soil. Superficially, this seems to make sense— at least according to our mental image of the typical animal and the typical plant —roots, like mouths and nostrils, are where plants take in nutrients and gases from the air, while leaves and flowers are excretory and sexual organs respectively. However, the more important question is not to what extent the upside-down analogy is roughly true, but how much the root system really does coordinate responses to information a plant receives. One way to approach this question is anatomical. Is the root system organised (or not) ‘like’ a brain? The point is not to find specific similarities. For instance, a chemical that serves as a neurotransmitter in an animal might be doing things broadly served by a different chemical in a plant. On the other hand, that neurotransmitter might exist in plants but be involved in totally unrelated activities. The anatomical approach seeks correlations in structure and function between brains and roots. This approach immediately leads to a problem. Root system architecture tends to be vertical. Roots break into smaller roots, and so on, without evident channels between them— in obvious contrast to the messy, circular and
vii: Jazz Ecology interconnected nature of neurons in a brain. Lateral connections between parts of the brain are reinforced or atrophy— facilitated, reinforced or softened through use and disuse. It seems intuitive that lateral connections between roots would be a minimum structural requirement for an organ whose function is to coordinate information, because otherwise it would seem hampered by the siloing constraints of its shape. Can something like this be found between a plant’s roots? Perhaps we ought to look at root hairs (and their associated mycelia) as such flexible lateral structures. Like neurons, root hairs are usually long singlecelled structures. Their copious growth means they certainly come into contact with other hairs of their own, or other roots. Root hairs grow and atrophy relatively quickly and easily. Looking at the growth of root hairs might be analogous to dendrite branching, while volatile organic compounds released in the soil regions between root hairs might be roughly synaptic. One concerns transmission along linear tissue, the other across spaces between such tissue. Sadly, research into communicative activity in root hairs is virtually non-existent. Nevertheless, there is no point in looking for anatomical structures that might be organised like neural networks if no behaviour warrants the search for these structures in the first place. For this reason, a second area of research has to do with plant behaviour. It is certainly the case that coordinated plant responses are welldetailed and commonplace. A lot of plant coordination is owed to the release of hormones, such as jasmonate and auxin. This is not the kind of integrated activity we would be looking for in an organism with something brain-like about it. Instead, we would be looking for a globally coherent activity that involved differentiated responses amongst its parts. For instance, we might look for electric signals transmitted between cells, leading to local but coordinated responses. Electric signalling has been known in plants since even before Darwin’s experiments. Like Darwin’s root apices, its significance was also downplayed until evidence could no longer be ignored (Davies 2006). Action potential, for example, is now recognised as pervasive in
plants. More detailed studies into signal transduction in roots, cambium, and other tissue that extends throughout the plant body is needed. A second issue is that coordinated plant responses do not appear to be as coordinated as, say, those in vertebrates. In investigating plant responses to stimuli, what level of centralising is needed to deem it ‘brain-like control’? Plants may be more decentralised than vertebrates, responding to their worlds more like a confederacy than a dictatorship (Firn, 2004). Response may be either at the cellular level, the tissue level or something more global— depending on the situation. An organism is likely to centralise its response to the extent it needs to, and plants may not need to— or at least not need to as much. But we should be wary of drawing dichotomies across kingdoms. Animal behaviour is not equally centralised across its phylla, either. By any anthropocentric measure, octopuses are highly intelligent— but they have more neurons in their arms than in their heads. On the other hand, citing Shomrat and Levin (2013), mycologist Merlin Sheldrake (2020) points out that flatworms are able to regrow brains once their heads have been cut off, and retain memories of their prior experiences. When very young, some conifer cuttings can grow new roots, but not once the tree is big enough to wrap with tinsel and adorn with red balls. It would seem only small and simple bodies can get by without brains— or roots — long enough to sprout fresh ones. With or without an artificial supply of nutrients, such trees slowly die. Whatever it is, something more fundamental than a flatworm’s brain was taken from these firs and pines, their colours dull and bodies brittle, awaiting pick-up above pools of dry needles.
vii: Jazz Ecology References Alpi, A. et al. (2007) ‘Plant neurobiology: No brain, no gain?’ TRENDS in Plant Science 12 (4): 135-136 Baluska, F.; Mancuso, S.; Volkmann, D. & Barlow, P. W. (2009) ‘The “root-brain” hypothesis of Charles and Francis Darwin: Revival after more than 125 years.’ Plant Signaling & Behavior, 4(12): 1121–1127 Darwin, C and Darwin, F. (1880) On the power of movement in plants. John Murray: Edinburgh Davies, E. (2006) ‘Electrical Signals in Plants: Facts and Hypotheses,’ in Volkov A.G. (ed.) Plant Electrophysiology. Springer: Berlin, Heidelberg. Firn, R. (2004) ‘Plant intelligence: an alternative point of view,’ in Annals of Botany, 93(4): 345– 351 Sheldrake, M. (2020) Entangled Life. The Bodley Head: London Shomrat, T. & Levin, M. (2013) ‘An automated training paradigm reveals long-term memory in planarians and its persistence through head regeneration,’ in The Journal of Experimental Biology, 216(20): 3799 LP – 3810 Trewawas, A. (2015) Plant behaviour and intelligence. Oxford University Press: Oxford, UK
vii: Garden Gems
Trim and tidy Ruth Crighton-Ward Slowly but surely, we are creeping towards the end of winter. Already there are signs of new life in the garden— Crocus (Crocus tommasinianus), Primula (Primula vulgaris). There are buds on the trees, even if they have not yet started to grow leaves. There is a sense of anticipation in nature. This is a good time to get on with the winter tidy and ready the garden for the coming spring. Make sure the tools you use are clean and sharp. Tears in branches caused by blunt tools can lead to infection and disease. Also, ensure you have the correct tools for the job; don’t strain to cut a branch with secateurs, when a pair of loppers or a pruning saw would be quicker, and more efficient. Cut back any herbaceous plants that have died down over autumn and winter, trimming them to just a few centimetres from ground level. Shrub roses can be pruned right down to about two feet from ground level. Now is a good time to do them— catching them while they are still dormant, and just before the new growing season starts. Now is also the perfect time for winter pruning of certain trees. Free-standing Apple (Malus spp.) and Pear (Pyrus spp.) trees are best pruned now, to ensure optimum fruiting. When pruning trees and shrubs, there are certain rules to follow— regardless of the plant. Watch out for the DDDDXR; the dead, dying, damaged, diseased, crossing and rubbing. Any branches which display any of these traits should be removed. If trees are not pruned, then their branches can become spindly and congested, resulting in a reduced fruit yield and common diseases, such as on canker and scab. When complete, the framework of the tree should form a goblet shape, which allows air to flow freely through it. Trees which bear stone fruits such as Cherry (Prunus spp.) or Plum (Prunus domestica) should not be pruned at this time, but rather during summer. This will help prevent an
infection called Silver Leaf— a fungal disease that shows in a silvering of the leaf and can often be fatal. Any trees which are fan-trained or grown as espaliers will also prefer a summer pruning. Although we talked about plant division back in the autumn, we can now look at some bulb division. Snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis) which have finished flowering can be dug up and divided into smaller clumps. It’s a good time to do this when the foliage is still evident, so you know where they are. Replant them to create more clumps for next year. This method can be repeated later in the year with later flowering bulbs, such as Daffodils (Narcissus spp.). Deciduous shrubs can be transplanted during this time if they are in the wrong place. Again, it’s good to do this whilst they remain dormant. Shrubs which flowered over the winter can also be cut back now. This will help to keep the shape of the plant. Some examples include Winter Flowering Jasmine (Jasminum nudiflorum) and winter Heathers (Calluna vulgaris). Heathers should be given a light trim to remove the dead flowers, but not cut back severely or to exposed wood— unless you need to remove diseased parts, or prevent a particular section from growing because it’s impeding another plant. A good shrub to cut back now is Dogwood (Cornus spp.). Cornus is a plant which needs to be cut back on an annual basis to prevent it running rampant in the garden. Save its bright red or yellow stems for a vase— they make a beautiful indoor decoration, adding a welcome splash of colour to a bare corner. Any remaining stems of Honesty (Lunaria annua) can also be cut back. Consider combining the Honesty with the Dogwood in your vase, contrasting the colour of the Dogwood with the papery silveriness of the Honesty. Or you can remove the papery discs covering the Honesty seeds and keep them to try your hand at cultivation.
vii: Garden Gems
Certain seeds, such as brassicas and Onions (Allium spp.) can now be sown. For quicker germination, seeds should be sown in a heated propagator, or indoors where seed trays can be left on a window ledge. It is still too early to sow seeds directly into the ground. In unheated greenhouses, certain plants can still be sown. Be aware that they will germinate more slowly and sporadically, though, so it is perhaps a good idea to sow more than you would in a heated one. However, the seeds that do germinate in an unheated greenhouse will be hardier, will not become spindly and leggy, and are less prone to diseases such as Damping Off. This is a fungal disease, carried in soil, which causes seedlings to collapse and die. You can help to prevent it through good cleanliness with seed trays and tools, sterile compost and not overwatering the seedlings. Medicinal plants which can be sown early in the year include Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium), Lemon Balm (Melissa officianalis) and Thyme (Thymus vulgaris). Feverfew is used as a treatment for migraine headaches, stomach aches, toothache and insect bites, to name a few of its talents. It has the added benefit of being a beautiful ornamental plant, bearing a proliferation of white petalled flowers with yellow centres. Its leaves are highly aromatic. Finally, February is a good time to get all those jobs done that we never seem to find the time for during the rest of the year. For instance, clearing areas which have become congested with branches and debris from fallen trees. Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m sure most of us have a list of those jobs we just keep putting off. Next month weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll look in more depth at sowing seeds and growing mediums, as the growing season begins in earnest.
Tansy Lee Moir Calder Hollow Hearted Beech
viii: Foraging through Folklore
The slow traveller’s joy Ella Leith Always happy to celebrate slowness, for this column I set off down a familiar path. The wrong path, as it turns out. To me, the byname ‘Old Man’s Beard’ refers to Wild Clematis (Clematis vitalba), a climber native to the UK that sprawls all over hedgerows in vast tangled clusters. In the winter, its fluffy white seed-heads give it the name I know it by, as well as the less common name of ‘Father Christmas’. In the summer, its fragrant white flowers are as abundant now as when John Gerard described them in his 1597 Herball, coining another of Wild Clematis’s names: decking and adorning waies and hedges, where people travel; and there upon I have named it the Traveller’s Joy. These plants have no use in physic as yet found, but are esteemed only for pleasure, by reason of the goodly shadow which they make with their thicke bushing and clyming, as also for the beauty of the floures, and the pleasant sent or savour of the same. (quoted in Mabey 1974, 68; spellings as written.) As Traveller’s Joy and as Old Man’s Beard, Wild Clematis has become one of the ‘botanical mascots of footweary wayfarers’ (ibid, 67). An appropriate plant, I thought, to explore for The Slow Issue. And so I meandered, researching Wild Clematis. I learnt more of its bynames: ‘Shepherd’s Delight’, ‘Poor Man’s Friend’. Perhaps these names allude to the same aesthetic and practical attributes described by Gerard: its flowers giving delight to passing shepherds, and its bushy tangles providing welcome shelter from sun or rain for those working outdoors. There is even the claim that beggars used to rub juices from the leaves into scratches on their skin, ‘raising large superficial sores and giving the user an appearance miserable enough to con alms out of the most hard-hearted wayfarer’ (Mabey 1974, 68). But
more likely these names go hand in hand with its other monikers: ‘Boy’s Bacca’, ‘Baccy Plant’ and ‘Smokewood’. In winter, its dry stems would be cut and smoked as a foraged substitute for tobacco— the original wild Woodbine (‘Woodbine’ being a generic name for a creeper). Wild Clematis was also once known as ‘Bed-wind’, presumably alluding to how strongly it winds itself around the supporting hedge or tree; I wondered whether there could be a connection here to old rope beds, since the stems of Wild Clematis have been used in the past to make a rough rope. Winding derives etymologically from the same root as wander… I was enjoying my wandering with Old Man’s Beard. Then I told my mother what I was writing about. “Old Man’s Beard is a lichen, isn’t it?” And so it is. I should be focussing in this Slow Issue on Usnea spp, not Clematis vitalba. I had set off on the wrong path. Oh well. It was a fruitful detour. The words of Edith Sitwell’s poem come to mind: and nothing is lost, and all in the end is harvest. Usnea’s ‘Old Man’s Beard’ has a different quality to that of Wild Clematis. Whereas Wild Clematis’s seed-heads are light and downy and scatter in the wind ‘like insects on the wing’ (White 1788, quoted in Mabey 1996, 45), Usnea‘s silvery fibres are scratchy and tangled. It is itself very old. Extremely slow growing, a well-developed lichen is likely to have been tenaciously clinging to an old tree or fence post for over a century— but only where the air is pure enough to sustain it. It demands a slow pace of air travel: the ACE/Sunday Times Air Pollution Survey of 1972 observes that ‘the slipstream of cars tends to blast [lichens] off the nearside of trees. In one place they were wiped off above a fence but not below it’ (quoted by Mabey 1974, 136). So, I set off on a new path with this other Old Man’s Beard, catching little glimpses of the old path as I went. Grass Roots Remedies claim
viii: Foraging through Folklore
that Usnea may have been the first tinsel used on Christmas trees; I remembered that Wild Clematis is also called ‘Father Christmas’. Lichens need clear air and can be used to treat respiratory conditions; smoking woodbines might have caused or exacerbated these conditions. Usnea can also treat skin afflictions— perhaps even those self-inflicted using the juice of Clematis vitalba. Further along, I started catching glimpses of paths I’ve previously trodden for Herbology News. Lichens, Mabey says, are ‘a special case. They are not one plant but two, a simple foodproducing alga and a fungus shell living in partnership’ (1974, 136). Like the fungi explored in The Connective Issue, lichens are plant-like without being strictly plants; although they are typically classified by their fungal component, they straddle different biological Kingdoms. Like the seaweeds discussed in The Energy Issue, lichens are partly algal; Grass Roots Remedies lists ‘Mountain Seaweed’ as an alternative Hawai’ian name for Old Man’s Beard. I had explored the association of seaweed and drowning in Gaelic folklore; strangely, this is also echoed in relation to lichens. Lichens have traditionally been used as clothes dye, particularly for the oranges and yellows derived from Crottle or Crotal (Parmelia saxatilis). In the Hebrides, a longstanding superstition told that wearing Crottle-dyed clothes on a boat would bring about death by drowning. One typical local legend was recorded in 1970 from Angus Fletcher of Snizort, Skye. A Uig man called Lachlann planned to emigrate to Australia in the late 19 Century but had a change of heart when the ship stopped in Lochmaddy, North Uist. While waiting for a lift back from some Uig fishermen, Lachlann collected Crottle from the rocks and, lacking a bag, stuffed it into his trousers. On the voyage back over the Little Minch, a storm arose from nowhere and the fishermen asked if anyone was wearing Crottle-dyed stockings; Lachlann immediately threw his stash overboard, trousers and all. There are many other taboos associated with fishing (including
avoiding ministers, red-haired women, lefthanded men and various animals, as outlined by James MacArthur of Portnahaven, Islay, in 1969), but the link between land-based algae and water-based death is evocative. Another name for Old Man’s Beard is ‘Woman’s Long Hair’, and the imagery of hair and seaweed also go hand in hand. This column doesn’t arrive anywhere. Maybe that doesn’t matter. I’ve wandered along different paths and the slow journey was worth it. To paraphrase Mabey, Old Man’s Beard is a special case. It offers us not one path but two, sometimes running parallel, sometimes intertwining, but always taking the time it needs. References Abdel-Fatteh, A. (2020) ‘Lichens in Folklore: Medicines and Dyes’, Microbial Biosystems 5(1), pp. 50-51. Easy Wildflowers. www.easywildflowers.wordpress.com/about/cr eam-wildflowers-of-the-uk/clematis-vitalbathe-wild-clematis/ Grass Roots Remedies. www.grassrootsremedies.co.uk/2017/01/20/h erb-profile-old-mans-beard-lichen Mabey, R. (1974) The Roadside Wildlife Book. David and Charles, Newton Abbot and London. Mabey, R. (1996) Flora Britannica. SinclairStevenson, London. Sitwell, E. (1957) ‘Eurydice’, Collected Poems, Macmillan, London. The Gaelic interviews mentioned can be found on the Tobar an Dualchais / Kist o Riches website, the online portal for selected items held in the School of Scottish Studies Sound Archive at the University of Edinburgh. Angus Fletcher: http://tobarandualchais.co.uk/en/fullrecord/93 365 James MacArthur: http://tobarandualchais.co.uk/en/fullrecord/11 78
Tansy Lee Moir As These Letters Grow, So Does Our Love
viii: StAnza Presents…
Nadine Aisha Jassat
Auntie From Let Me Tell You This (404 Ink, 2019) My Aunt’s hands are soft and brown and they smell like cumin and coriander. She is a gardener in the kitchen. Auntie, I remember your skin the way some people remember the bus route. I know I need to trace it to go home. The world of work, bus bells and sirens are harsh alarm clocks. I would rather wake gently, in 5 am light, to your softly whispered duas welcoming the morning.
Nadine Aisha Jassat is an award-winning writer and the author of Let Me Tell You This (404 Ink). Her poetry, narrative non-fiction and short stories feature widely online and in print, including in the celebrated anthology It’s Not About the Burqa: Muslim Women on Faith, Feminism, Sexuality and Race (Picador), Nasty Women (404 Ink), Staying Human (Bloodaxe Books) and more. She has performed her work internationally and has drawn significant acclaim, including receiving a Scottish Book Trust New Writers Award and being shortlisted for the prestigious Edwin Morgan Poetry Award. In 2019, she was named by Scotland’s Makar Jackie Kay in her International Literature Showcase selection of 10 Compelling ‘BAME’ writers working in the UK, and in 2020 she took part in Edinburgh International Book Festival’s Outriders Africa. StAnza brings poetry to audiences and enables encounters with poetry through events and projects in Scotland and beyond, especially their annual spring festival in St Andrews. www.stanzapoetry.org Facebook: stanzapoetry Instagram: @stanzapoetry
Tansy Lee Moir Beecraigs Beech 2
ix: Book Club
Herbal Antibiotics: Natural Alternatives for Treating Drug-Resistant Bacteria (Buhner, S.R.; Storey Publishing, 2012) Reviewer: Marianne Hughes This book can be read as a horror story of humans on Earth, or as a love story of Earth’s bacteria. But, why read a book about antibiotics? Well, perhaps to take a break from the current, overwhelming focus on viruses; perhaps to understand the friendly, mutualistic bacteria that colonise our bodies; or perhaps to be reminded that the plant world is so much older than us and that it has developed many effective, protective responses to bacteria, that can be of benefit to us when we face illness. So, as Buhner suggests: you can learn what to do if you find that one day you need to know how to treat resistant infection. The first quarter of the book is devoted to the rise of pharmaceutical antibiotics and the impact this is having— the rise of drug-resistant bacteria. While the author outlines issues in the USA, these are echoed in the UK. In the USA, 40,000-50,000 pounds of tetracycline and streptomycin are annually sprayed on fruit trees (one pound of tetracycline will treat 450 people)— killing also soil bacteria and leeching into water systems, stimulating the growth of resistance and interfering with the normal balance of soil biota. To contrast with this agrochemical activity, Buhner quotes the excellent Lynn Margulis: The more balanced view of microbe as colleague and ancestor remains almost unexpressed … Bacteria are germinators— and fabric —of all life on Earth. Buhner’s stories are balanced with extensive research of herbal medicines with antibacterial properties. Three-quarters of the book are devoted to specific anti-bacterial herbs, with detailed descriptions of the parts used, traditional uses, preparations and scientific
research. His bibliography runs to sixty-one pages with an average of thirty references per page— so it is a treasure trove for anyone wanting to know more. For those interested in learning more about how bacteria operate, Chapter 2 explains the structural difference between Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria and provides a useful rule of thumb for herbal remedies, based on an understanding of how bacteria interact with human cells. For even greater specificity, Buhner divides herbal antibiotics into three categories: systemic antibacterial herbs; localised antibacterial herbs; and facilitative/synergistic herbs. Read the book for an explanation of why understanding these differences is important. For some people, Buhner’s clear politics may be too direct— though, personally, I find his forthright stance refreshing. For example, he
ix: Book Club
notes that the top twelve pharmaceutical companies made $100 billion in profits in 2009, yet none are developing new antibiotics— their money is made in rich countries, from treatments for long-term conditions such as heart disease and arthritis. Yet, when over 70% of pathogenic bacteria in hospitals are at least minimally drug-resistant, you might reasonably expect this to be viewed as problematic. It is clearly problematic if you are a patient in a hospital. Buhner is never afraid to observe the role of finance in dictating cultural norms. Interesting to me were his comments on how African, Asian and East European journals start from the premise of investigating the efficacy of herbal medicine, whereas American journals start with criticism and bias. This, he explains, is because: In the USA, they are not working to empower self-care, nor do they want to interrupt their own financial income stream. Antibiotics do not cure disease; they simply kill off opportunistic bacteria. Yet we need bacteria. One or two pounds of our adult body weight comes from our co-evolutionary bacteria. They are our first line of defence against disease. Devoting Chapter 7 to herbs that support immunity, Buhner quotes Marc Lappé: It is the body which ultimately controls infection, not chemicals. Without understanding immunity, drugs are meaningless. So, while we applaud the amazing development of Covid-19 vaccines— which we hope will be made available at low/no cost to low-income countries —we need to remember that the zoonotic viruses impacting on humans are a result of our activity in the pedosphere. In our scary world, where negative human impact is evident all around us, plants offer friendship and allegiance without judgement— if we can respect the knowledge and gifts that herbs provide. Buhner’s book is a celebration of these partnerships.
ix: Book Club
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Hazel Bradyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s background is in IT, but she has always loved plants and since retiring has expanded her knowledge, especially around herbs. She completed the Diploma in Herbology at RBGE under Catherine ConwayPayne. Retirement has also given her the opportunity to develop another of her interests â&#x20AC;&#x201D;an artistic practice centred in drawing and painting. Ruth Crighton-Ward has had a long interest in plants and nature, although her first career was in Stage Management. After 18 years working in a variety of Scottish theatres, she decided to go into gardening. She took her RHS Level 2 in Horticulture, as well as a Certificate in Practical Horticulture at RBGE. In 2014 she started her own gardening business, which has proved successful. In 2018, alongside her full- time work as a gardener, she returned to the RBGE for a Diploma in Herbology.
Anne Dalziel qualified as a Bach Foundation Registered Practitioner (BFRP) in 2006, later becoming a licensed teacher for the Bach International Education Programme (BIEP) and for the Bach Foundation. Anne has facilitated many workshops in community education, and for several commercial organisations. IG: @bachflowertraining
Claire Gormley is a graduate student at the University of Edinburgh, completing her Postgraduate Diploma in Education for Chemistry and Biology. She earned an undergraduate degree in Biotechnology from James Madison University in 2017, and an MSc in Science Communication and Public Engagement from the University of Edinburgh in 2019. Claire is passionate about building positive relationships between communities and science through education and engagement. Marianne Hughes began following her interest in complementary medicine after a career in Social Work Education and voluntary work in Fair Trade. Starting with Reflexology & Reiki, she progressed into Herbal Medicine. The evening classes at the RBGE got her hooked and she completed the Certificate in Herbology and, more recently, the Diploma in Herbology. Her current joy is experimenting with herb-growing in her own garden, in a local park, and alongside other volunteers in the RBGE Physic Garden. firstname.lastname@example.org Dr. Ella Leith is an ethnologist and folklorist who studied in Scotland and now lives in Malta. She particularly loves folktales and the storytelling traditions of linguistic and cultural minorities. @leithyface
Khadija Meghrawi is a medical student who believes that a doctor's job isn't just to heal the diseases of bodily systems, but to also heal those in the systems around us. She is Chair of her Universityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s BME network and coled the formation of the BAME Medical Students Group, to increase racial representation in the curriculum at Bristol Medical School. Previously the President of Students for Global Health Bristol, she now advocates nationally for refugee and other minority patient group representation at the British Medical Association (BMA).
Maddy Mould is an illustrator who loves to create work influenced by her interests in the natural landscape of her home in the Borders, folklore, and history. She likes to illuminate the magic of everyday things, both through her art and some simple kitchen witchery with what she hopes will soon be home-grown produce. IG @maddymould Sarah Murphy trained as a medical herbalist, graduated from the College of Naturopathic Medicine in 2007, and is an active member of the Herb Society and the Unified Register of Herbal Practitioners. She is the owner of Alchemilla apothecary, a herbal dispensary and wellness clinic on the Cornish coast. Sarah specialises in the use of herbs for common skin complaints as well as having an interest in the use of herbs in the treatment of PTSD. She manufactures her own organic skincare range based on the extract of the Sausage Tree. www.alchemilla.co Joseph Nolan practices Herbal Medicine in Edinburgh, at the UKâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s oldest herbal clinic, and specialises in menâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s health and paediatrics. He is a member of the Association of Foragers, and teaches classes and workshops related to herbal medicine making, wild plants, foraging, and natural health. You can find him on Facebook and Instagram @herbalmedicineman, and on his website: www.herbalmedicineman.com
Kyra Pollitt is a graduate of the Diploma in Herbology at the RBGE. When not editing Herbology News, she works as a translator, interpreter, writer and artist. She lives on the Isle of Harris, where she is busily planning and growing a garden. www.actsoftranslation.com
Marissa Stoffer is a mixed media artist based in Edinburgh, studying her masterâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s at the Royal College of Art. Her practice centres on ecology, plants, and our relationships with them. She is particularly interested in the ontology of New Animism and methods of making with local materials through foraging for colour. Her work focuses on natureâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; modified and abstracted from both real and imagined images. Through these combinations she explores the peculiarities of history, mythology, and beliefs. Instagram: @marissastoffer
Dora Wagner is a graduate of the RBGE Diploma in Herbology, and a Didactician in Natural Science. She also works as a Naturopath for Psychotherapy, and as a Horticultural Therapist. She currently lectures in Medical Herbalism at the University of Witten/Herdecke, and is leading a project reconstructing the medicinal herb garden of an Anthroposophic Hospital in Germany. email@example.com and www.plantadora.de
Herbology News has grown from the Herbology courses taught at the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh, under the careful eye of Catherine Conway-Payne. A suite of Herbology course options are available, as part of the broad range of education courses offered by RBGE.
x: Looking Forward
02//21: The Bitter Issue
Your usual columnists Plus, Artist of the Month: Alison Cutts Plus, Our Man is back in the Field, interviewing Kate Swaine And, technology permitting, Amanda Edmiston brings you more Botanica Fabula Plus, your Book Reviews