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And even though it’s titled A Woman’s Healing Herbs, quite a few of the remedies are applicable to men as well – like those for indigestion, migraine and insomnia. In UK, A Woman’s Healing Herbs is available as a full size poster at The Natural Store for ?5.95. Beauty is my lifeline and after years of picking the brains of some of the world’s most acclaimed skin experts, hair stylists, makeup artistes and photographers in my various jobs as Managing Editor at Vogue, Beauty Director at Marie Claire and Beauty Editor at Cosmopolitan, this is what I know and enjoy the most!
Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. For centuries, healing herbs including many to be seen in the Medieval Garden just outside Ypres Tower have brought comfort to those suffering in conflict and war. But let us cast our minds back to far beyond the Still Room walls, and look at some of the most interesting herbs that have played their parts in helping the wounded in wars and conflicts throughout the ages. Keeping with the most ancient herbs, the pretty blue-flowering Cornflower “Centaurea cyanus” is one of many of this species named after the Centaur Chiron, tutor of Achilles, and is also a plant with healing properties.  The dried flowers produce cooling gentle eyewash when steeped in warm water and strained through muslin cloth. Again, this plant has more uses; in particular William Morris, the great Victorian designer, championed Woad as a dye plant and used it in many of his tapestries. Moving forward, Salad Burnet is an extraordinary herb, and on a personal note was the one plant that totally fascinated me in the late 1970’s, and started my own herbal journey. In the same area around the Womens’ Tower wall no doubt visitors will see “Comfrey” and that is very hard to kill off, plant in a wrong place or once firmly established, evict entirely!
But turning our attention away from these, let us not forget the beautiful ROSE because this plant has certainly played its part in quietly healing generations. Those of us of a certain age were no doubt given Rose-hip syrup by our parents, without knowing it was the Vitamin C in those Rose-hips that was the healing herb to keep coughs and colds at bay.
In fact Rose hips have been used over the centuries in pills and syrups to heal scurvy, skin problems and even the Plague, although it was not until the time of the Second World War that the essential oils containing Vitamin C were found to be the healer. Fragrant and healing rose water was carried to “The Front” areas during the First World War to bathe the eyes of soldiers suffering from Gas and smoke, and today rose water, rose oil, pot-pourri and that most exotic of all Moroccan spice mixtures “Ras-el-Hanout” enrich our lives within the kitchen and around the home, most of us without thinking of the past uses of this beautifully fragrant Herb.
The photo at right shows one of the most ancient of Roses, “Rosa Mundi”  that has recently been planted in the Medieval Garden in memory of artist Brian Hargreaves. Brian’s beautiful illustrations are to be found within the Still Room and Medieval Garden guidebook The Garden Beyond the Tower that I wrote in conjunction with Brian and his wife Joyce, who also contributed some lovely illustrations to this publication . And so finally to the Poppy; the Herb most associated with the horrors of warfare and its consequences.

It is a sad truth that although the Poppy has produced pain-relieving Laudanum and Morphine over many years it now stands as a symbol of pain for millions more. Wherever an area of soil is turned over Poppies grow readily, the carpet of bright red flowers stretching over War Graves in France and Flanders of World War One making this the Flower of Remembrance to commemorate ‘The War to End all Wars. The art of using herbs for healing has been around for thousands of years, with every culture encompassing their own unique system based on the plants of their bio-region, or what they may have cultivated in their gardens. However, in the last hundred years, we have vastly grown away from our intuitive abilities to utilize these plants medicinally on account of industrialization leading to a fear of nature as pharmaceutical drugs claim to be the only effective treatment for illness. Nevertheless, this intuitive, earthly knowledge was not lost, and we can certainly bring it back to heal and awaken our mind, body, and spirits!
Sybil Killiana€™s Introduction to Herbal Healing will go over the basics of herbalism, such as the common herbs that can significantly improve onea€™s health when used on a daily basis, sampling tinctures and remedies, and learning the basics on preparing your own. S Y B I L K I L L I A N: Is a certified herbal healer and Reiki practitioner and founder of Root, Leaf, and Flower. The fact that I am also dropping those excess pounds and my skin is getting back its glow is an added bonus! Apothecaries, those early chemists, and surgeons would have a large collection of powders, lotions, syrups and ointments at hand to both heal wounds and ease trauma and illness caused by such stress. As usual with herbal plants Cornflower has other important properties including use as a good blood tonic when taken as a tea, and many years ago was grown to produce a blue ink, taken from the deep colouring of its attractive flowers. For those Ancient Britons who painted this blue dye of war on their skins it served a double purpose.
Until the coming of Indigo, Woad was the only really strong blue dye and is still grown for use by many cloth dyers today.
It is a delicately fern-like perennial plant that tastes of cucumber and completely belies its underlying importance as a wound herb. John’s Wort is another herb associated with wounds, healing and in latter times, depression.
It is strongly sedative, and widely used in the First and Second World Wars as a calming drug for soldiers suffering from terrible trauma and stress. Valerian is also used in herbal calming tablets today, but obviously should be treated with caution.
Even you may already be doing it by adding basil to your tomato sauce and cinnamon to your oatmeal.

So, when I chanced upon a part of this gorgeous and super-helpful wall chart by Liz Cook, it simply had to dress up my kitchen door. If they were within a Castle or Manor House these would include preparations including local herbal ingredients, collected in large quantities then worked upon in a Still Room, such as the one to be seen within Ypres Tower.
Would anyone think we would be growing plants used by Achilles and his counterparts from 1250 BC within our Ypres Tower garden today? Similarly, “Centaury” was a medicinal cure-all, a blood purifier, wound healer and astringent tonic. The sight of a painted warrior must have been frightening, but more importantly the ancient tribes must have known that this antiseptic herb helped heal blade wounds and staunch blood flow.  As with all these herbal cures, someone must have used them first to find which killed and which cured, and Woad was certainly a good plant to have growing nearby in ancient times, with such healing power in its leaves. Famously, on film even Mel Gibson reverted back to the ancients’ blue body paint when playing the Scottish “Braveheart” William Wallace. It has been cultivated as a simple salad herb since the 1500’s, but has been carried to war to treat blade wounds for centuries, the root in particular being of use to staunch blood flow and has well earned the Latin name of ‘Sanguisorba (blood absorbing). Its Latin name shows the importance of the Sun and sunshine, “Hypericum perforatum” with the healing powers from its leaves thought to have come from St.
Since Roman times Comfrey has been known as “knitbone” used for healing and setting broken bones and is used to treat arthritis today in tablet form. The root has a particularly unpleasant smell that is attractive to rats and is thought to have been used, such as in the Pied Piper of Hamelin story, to draw rat infestations from buildings. Well, humble “Yarrow” has long been associated with this great warrior, its Latin name “Achillea Millefolium” naming both Achilles and the plant’s own many tiny leaves containing blood-staunching properties. For the keen gardener Comfrey can be harnessed to provide a rich liquid feed for all garden plants and crops, and like many herbs may not be the most attractive but is probably one of the most helpful. It is popularly known as “The Carpenter’s Weed” and alternatively “Militaris” showing the importance of this plant to soldiers through the ages. I have found this one difficult to grow in the Medieval Garden because of the shading from the walls, but will try a couple of plants in another border during 2016, probably near the Womens’ Tower where there is more light for most of the day. Other uses have included easing toothache, with the flowers even used as a hop substitute when brewing ales in those later Still Rooms!

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