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Herbal Remedies

As we have been looking at Mary Seacole this week I thought it would be a great idea to see if we can make some herbal potions that are inspired by her healing remedies from 200 years ago.

Here are 5 ingredients that you may have at home or growing in the garden, along with some of their health benefits and their uses in the home:

Ginger has been used in China for over 2000 years (Mary Seacole lived about 200 years ago). It is used to treat many things and these days we are finding out more about what ginger can do for us — it is what we now call a ‘super food’

Mary used it in the war to treat diarrhoea but we know now that this is because it is great for cleaning our digestive systems. It also has great properties for boosting our immune systems, which would have been helpful for treating soldiers with infections, and keeping coughs and colds at bay.

Lemons - full of vitamin C which is good for your heart, digestion and helps absorb iron into your blood (which is a good thing)

Lemons are also really great in cleaning products, their juice is an acid which helps remove built up dirt and marks.

Mint - Not only does mint smell amazing, it has lots of Vitamin A which is really important for eye health and night vision. Eating mint (or using it in tea) can help digestion, sore tummies, and make people feel better when they have a colds. It also makes our breath smell good! Can you think of any things in your house that have mint in them?

Lavender is used to help sooth headaches, calm stress and help us sleep better.

People extract the oil from lavender to make a whole load of different remedies and also use the dried flowers to keep moths away from cloths and mosquitoes away in the summer.

Do you have any bubble bath at home that smells of lavender?

Do you have lavender in the garden? Try and collect some flowers and have a good smell, what does it make you feel like? You can make some bath bombs and use dried lavender petals for a lovely relaxing soak! See the recipes below.


- hmmmm honey! I was brought up on honey as my Grandfather was a brilliant beekeeper, so I know how amazing it is to eat fresh from a hive.

In the olden days honey was expensive and it was used as a form of money or gift. We know that it was eaten, but because it was expensive it wasn’t widely available for everyone like it is today. However, it was used for soothing burns as honey has many ingredients that can protect and heal the body. It is antibacterial (which means it helps our bodies tackle bad germs), it is a natural sweetener (so, no need for white sugar), brilliant for blood and heart health, and, many people that have hayfever say that eating local honey it helps them with their runny noses, sneezes and crying eyes caused by the pollen in the air in springtime.

Over the years, people have also used honey and beeswax to make cement and furniture polishes and varnishes… do you have any of these in your house? What else could honey or beeswax be used for?

And a bonus one… not to try at home….


- in 400BC people used to chew the bark of willow to relieve pain as it contains aspirin which helped with many injuries, headaches, back pain. At Forest School we remove the bark of willow before we make marshmallow skewers with it… we don’t need anyone accidentally eating aspirin and having too much (some people are allergic to it too).

Here is a link to other things used in Victorian times if you are interested..

There are lots of recipes on the internet for all of these things, from food recipes to making soaps and bath products to candles and cleaning products but here are a few that we have either made at home, or are simple and don’t require extra ingredients. Do let me know if you have a go with any of them and what you think of them… (click on the images at the bottom to get to the recipe)

Lemon and Ginger Tea

  • Just like Mary Seacole did, chop up the ginger and bash it in a pestle and mortar (or if you don’t have one use a rolling pin and a bag or on ya chopping board) and then put it into a cup

  • Ask an adult to pour on boiling water and leave to cool a little before drinking.

  • Add a little honey if you need it a bit sweeter

Mint and Nettle Tea

  • Rip up a few leaves of each plant and put into a cup

  • Ask an adult to pour on boiling water and leave to cool a little before drinking.

Lavender Clothes Savers

(Thank you Maria for these instructions) - cut some lavender flowers and leave them to dry. Take off the little flower heads and pt into the middle of a bit of fabric. Gather up the fabric and wrap a ribbon around to make sure the flowers stay inside. Pop this in your sock drawer, or hang in your wardrobe to keep the moths away!


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