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Health store help

Looking for advice on natural wellbeing? Your local independent health stores can offer a wealth of knowledge and expertise. This issue we speak to Lisa Scarff and Victoria Glanville of Roaring Water health store in Schull, Co Cork

Independent health store advice on healing herbs

Our ancestors have long recognised the healing properties of herbs, and they have been used in traditional medicine for millennia. Today scientific research is verifying that the potent phytochemicals found in herbs can have a really positive effect on our health and wellbeing.

As a keen gardener and plant lover I have always grown a variety of culinary and healing herbs in my garden. I have chosen two of my favourites to talk about here.

My colleague Victoria has chosen two more plants that she has a particular affinity with.

Nettle (urtica dioica) is a plant that everybody recognises. Because of its sting one could be wary of using it, but don’t hesitate as nettle is a wonderful medicinal plant. It loves rich soil and as a result it is rich in vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium and silica which gives it a restorative quality that can be helpful with mild anaemia and other deficiency conditions. It is also a wonderful strengthening tonic for the blood and its cleansing action helps with skin conditions like eczema. Being rich in flavonoids, it acts as a diuretic by increasing the excretion of uric acid from the body, alleviating the symptoms associated with gout and arthritis. Gather the young leaves before they flower and infuse to make a tea. Nettles can also be used to make a really nourishing soup, don’t forget to wear rubber gloves!

Thyme (thymus vulgaris) is another of my favourite herbs for culinary and medicinal use. When in flower it attracts bees to the garden too. Thyme is rich in plant phenols such as thymol and carracrol, which are powerfully antispasmodic, making them potent cough suppressants. The antibacterial and expectorant qualities of this herb thin the mucus that the cough is trying to expel, while gently healing and soothing the bronchial tract. Being a powerful antimicrobial, thyme is an effective remedy for sore throats. Pour a cup of boiling water on two teaspoons of the dried herb, infuse and enjoy as a tea or allow to cool and use to gargle. Thyme is also an effective diuretic and promotes the overall wellbeing of the digestive tract – it can even act as a mood booster. Try a few drops of thyme essential oil in an oil burner or in your bath.

These are Victoria’s choices:

Avena sativa: We have all experienced stress to one degree or another. We are told that a little can be beneficial, but when its effects become overwhelming the body suffers. This is when the herbal remedy avena sativa, or oat straw tincture can prove extremely helpful. Anxiety, mild depression, nervous exhaustion and insomnia are all relieved by this herbal remedy. And most of us have experienced the ordeal of trying to give up alcohol, nicotine or coffee or recreational drugs and here also avena sativa can be very helpful in reducing withdrawal cravings.

Cynara: ‘Fair, fat and forty’ is the common mainstream description of someone suffering from gallbladder problems, manifesting in the inability to properly digest fats, causing discomfort and sometimes extreme pain. From a herbal viewpoint the perfect remedy is cynara, or globe artichoke. It stimulates the flow of bile, which is the substance in the digestive system that breaks down fats. It is also helpful for other digestive issues such as IBS, indigestion and loss of appetite. It is an excellent liver tonic and very helpful in the relief of such conditions as gout and arthritis.

Other recommended herbs

  • Milk thistle – supports the digestive system.
  • Oregano – acts like a natural antibiotic and can treat a number of infections.
  • Dandelion – supports liver function and has anti-bacterial properties.
  • Agnus castus – a hormone balancer that reduces PMS.
  • Rhodiola – an adaptogen that helps the body to adapt to chemical, physical and environmental stress.
  • Rhodiola – helps balance cortisol levels and reduces cravings.

Who’s who and what’s what at Roaring Water

Lisa Scarff has been the owner-manager at Roaring Water health store in Schull, Co Cork for 11 years. “Schull is a small town and our health shop is on the main street. We have a very good local customer base with children looking for healthy bars, mothers with young children, older people and sporty types. We get a boost in July and August from holidaymakers coming to the coast – they often look for gifts or things they left at home like suntan lotion and midge repellent. We stock a range of nice local photographic cards which I produce with a friend and framed prints. I am a photographer as well.

“We stock a wide range of prepacks with lentils, rice, nuts, herbs and spices. We have an emphasis on organic and always stock these when we can. We have local fresh vegetables delivered twice a week from spring to autumn, and once per week all year round. We are always open to stocking local Irish products including a local salad dressing, apple cider vinegar, honey and fermented foods. We have a range of frozen products including nut burgers, pies and vegetables. Our chilled section has a good range of probiotics, soya products, kefir and sauerkraut.

“We stock a number of toiletry ranges such as soaps (including a palm-free soap from Co Clare), shampoos, deodorant and skincare products. We always go for organic, vegan and cruelty-free ranges, and also stock a range of seaweed-based skincare products.

“Our shop is very much customer-led – I will find and stock things customers ask for. We have a loyalty card and I would like to go more in the direction of refills – so that we have less waste and packaging and our customers can buy the quantities they want rather than prepackaged. At the moment we do refills for fabric conditioner, laundry liquid and washing up liquid.”

Visit: Roaring Water Health Store 47 Main Street, Schull, Co Cork
PHONE: 028 27834
SPEAK TO: Lisa Scarff, Victoria Glanville

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