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Mullein in between the cattle grid

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I found this little gem growing in between the cattle grid with barely any soil. Mullein loves to be watered and dries out easily in dry weather.

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So obviously I had to save this little one…

Mullein  Verbascum thapsus  is native to Ireland and known as Lus Mor in Irish.

Mullein was traditionally used to protect from enchantments and to restore the goodness to butter which had been enchanted. Historically Mullein leaf was smoked for its healing effect on the lungs. The leaves were also dried and used as burning wicks because of their hairiness.

Mullein was used in Ireland to treat consumption (Tuberculosis), bronchitis and coughs and colds. The leaves were smoked like tobacco for asthma and bronchitis. In Co. Meath Mullein was used to treat bee stings.   In Ireland Mullein leaves were boiled in milk and the milk then strained. This was drank twice daily.

Today the leaves and flowers are used. Mullein belongs to the Scrophulariaceae family. Caution is advised with the seeds as they contain rotenone which is poisonous.

Mullein is a demulcent, expectorant, anti-inflammatory, lung tonic, vulnerary, mild sedative, and a mild diuretic. It tones mucous membranes of the respiratory system, reduces inflammation, and stimulates fluid production (expectorant).

Mullein has a wonderfully soothing and hydrating effect on the lungs.It is particularly helpful for dry unproductive coughs, hoarseness, bronchitis, phlegm and whooping cough as well as for Asthma and COPD. Mullein root is also used for low back pain and inflammation.

Supporting health at a time of disease

Covid-19 is a condition caused by one of the corona viruses. It is said to be transferred via droplet infection (coughing, sneezing or contact with such fluids). After transmission it remains infectious for hours to days after contact on surfaces, hands or clothes. The virus enters the body via the airway and multiplies. The resultant by-products of the virus and its effects on physiological functions adds further burdens to our bodies.

Sore throat, fever, cough and difficulty breathing are symptoms of this infection. This is the body’s immune response to the virus. When the body becomes overburdened with the virus and its resultant effects on the body, a person will become very ill.

Some people may have symptoms of a cold or flu and not feel very ill, however this may be due to the fact that they have a healthy immune system. Others who may be older in age, have low immunity or pre-existing respiratory conditions are more likely to become very ill. This may be because their immune system is not strong enough to fight the virus. The virus will already be in your body before you present with symptoms, so you can pass it on to others without realising it.

It is important to self-isolate if you feel unwell. This means; stay home and telephone your health care practitioner for advice. The idea behind this is not to prevent (as this is already a pandemic) but to slow down the spread of the virus. This will enable health care facilities to address the needs of those who need to be hospitalised.

Information for the general public can be found on the HSE website at https://www2.hse.ie/coronavirus/ which includes information on how to prevent the spread of infection.

The Health Protection Surveillance Centre is also a useful resource to stay updated https://www.hpsc.ie/a-z/respiratory/coronavirus/novelcoronavirus coronavirus /

The Department of Foreign Affairs is regularly updating its website
regarding travel to affected areas at https://www.dfa.ie/

So what can you and your family do?

Where possible relax and destress. Get enough sleep. Being informed empowers us to look after our health and that of our families.

Wash your hands with hot soapy water. If this is not available use hand sanitiser.

Cough/sneeze into your elbow.

Clean the air in closed environments (home, work space). Use a diffuser with pure essential oils. For example; ravintsara, eucalyptus or tea tree.

Be mindful of your steering wheel and door handles. If you can’t clean them….wash your hands.

Avoid large groups of people. When out and about distance yourself from others. Avoid hugging, kissing or shaking hands. Hydrate with hot teas and water.

Herbal teas

Echinacea, Thyme, Elderberry, Elderflower, lemonbalm, hawthorn, peppermint.

Astragalus root may be chopped small and covered in water in a pot; bring to the boil and simmer for approx. 20 minutes.

Children may enjoy elderberry/flower syrup or glycerite in warm water.

Sore throat can be eased with frequent throat gargles of sea salt with warm water or thyme/sage tea.

Eat well

Eat a balanced diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables. Our body needs nutrients to build the resources to fight a virus and to eliminate its by-products.

Herbs can and should be part of our diet. In particular, use fresh crushed garlic, thyme, sage, oregano, ginger, turmeric and cinnamon. 

As we all have individual health care needs, be mindful that a person with a pre-existing condition or taking medication should follow the advice of their doctor.

Seek advice from a herbalist if you have uncertainty regarding any of the above herbal suggestions.

Dandelion

Taraxacum officinale


Family: Asteraceae/compositae, daisy/sunflower

Common names: Lions tooth, clockflower, cankerwort, caisearbhan, piss-the bed, monk’s head, priest’s crown, Bearnan Bride (the indented one of Bridget). It is said that that Bearnan Bride comes from the serrated edges of the leaves and the first flowers come up shortly after the feast of Bridget.

Dandelion is known across Europe as a diuretic and thus acquired a similar name across Europe such as; pissebed (dutch), pissenlit (French), pee-the-bed (Co.Antrim), pisterbed (Co. Longford), piss-in-the-beds (Co.Offaly), pishamoolag (co. Donegal). In Ireland the seeds of Dandelion are known as Jinnyjoes or jimmyjoes (Dublin). The name Dandelion comes from the latin dens leonis meaning lion’s tooth or ‘dent de lion’ in French.

In Ireland dandelion was traditionally used for liver trouble, jaundice, stomach upsets, rheumatisim and consumption (Tuberculosis).

Dandelion seed head was used to determine the weather, closing when there is a threat of rain and opening only in good weather.

Dandelion was also used in folklore as a clock. The flowers of Dandelion open at 5am and close at 8pm. The number of breaths it took to blow off all the seeds indicated the hour or the amount of seeds left after three breaths indicated the hour.

It was also thought that the amount of Dandelion seeds left on the head after one breath represented the amount of time a person had left to live.

Also known as the rustic oracle, the amount of seeds left on the head/globe after it has been blown suggest whether or not one is loved; a lot of seeds remaining on the globe; one is not loved, if some seeds are remaining on the globe your loved one may have reservations about the relationship and if all seeds can be blown off in one breath the person is loved with a passionate intensity.

As Dandelion has opening and cleansing properties, Culpepper recommended it in the treatment of obstructions of the liver, gallbladder and spleen including the diseases that arise from them. Also opening the urinary passages of the young and old and cleanses pus and ulcers of the urinary passage.

Diancecht’s porridge

Diancecht was the god of healing and medicine in celtic culture during the bronze age in Ireland. He was the son of Dagda who was the good god of the Irish celts and was the physician to the Tuatha de Danaan, who were the ruling clan of gods. This porridge was fortified with a brew of dandelions, hazelbuds, chickweed, wood sorrel and oatmeal. This porridge was used for fourteen different disorders of the stomach, colds, sore throats and worms.  

Sleep problems in childhood

As the parent of a child who could not sleep and from my experience working with children, I have accumulated experience with sleep problems in childhood. I am aware that not everybody has the time or energy to attend a course like I did, so I would like to share what I have learned. My life would have been alot easier ten years ago, if I had this information.

Some sleep disorders affecting children are insomnias, hypersomnias, circadian rhythm disorders and parasomnias. Insomnia refers to insufficient sleep, of which there are three types; difficulty initiating sleep, difficulty maintaining sleep and non-restorative sleep. Hypersomnia describes excessive sleeping during the day while getting enough sleep during the night. Circadian rhythm disorders can be described as sleep schedule problems, where the child sleeps well but at the wrong times. Parainsomnias refer to sleeping disorders which occur during sleep and disrupt it, such as night terrors, nightmares, sleep enuresis or sleep walking.

Although there are various reasons why a child may not sleep well, it is important to note that some sleep disorders in children are behavioural in origin and require behavioural interventions. The importance of maintaining a sleep routine when maintaining and establishing healthy sleep habits in children cannot be stressed here enough.

Studies have shown that some of the issues associated with children’s sleep problems are:

Parental difficulties in limit setting, parental conflict and inter-parental conflict about parenting.

It is important to note that a risk factor should not be viewed as a cause of sleep problems but as an increased probability that the sleep problem may occur. We as parents can help our children sleep.

How to help your child sleep.

To be honest there is no quick fix to helping our children establish healthy sleep hygiene/routine. I have found it is always best for parents to come to terms with that first. After that information has been digested things start to get easier. with a little knowledge, a good sound action plan, and lots and lots of love, parents become equipped to help their children sleep.

So here’s what i recommend:

1. Choose your time to introduce the sleep routine, once started, hang in there.

Choose a time when both you and your child actually have time, for example a mid term break, or a time when there isn’t too much going on at home. Remember it’s no good picking a time when you are stressed out yourself or your child has a head cold.

2. Keep a routine during the day that is recognizable to your child.

Children work well with routine. For example most children recognize from an early age that after waking in the morning, they get dressed, have breakfast and brush their teeth. Children respond well to a bed time routine, for example: brush teeth, put on pyjamas, read a story, go to sleep.

3. Establish limits.

We all have to play by the rules and children are no different. Using positive parenting skills we can help our children learn their limits. If children learn how to accept rules during the day it will be easier for them to accept that it is time to sleep at night time.

4. Eat well.

Nutritionally balanced diet is extremely important for the growth and development of our children. Three main meals a day with a morning and afternoon snack is best. Fruit and vegetables, protein (for example; varied in the form of unprocessed meat, poultry, fish, eggs, nuts,beans, peas and lentils), carbohydrates ( for example varied; in the form of brown rice, wholegrain pastas, wholegrain breads, oats, polenta, barley and bulgar), and some dairy. Remember vegetables are full of important nutrients and are needed everyday throughout the day.

Processed foods and sugary foods have an impact on insulin production in the body. Insulin in turn effects melantonin in the body, which is what we need to sleep. The routine intake of nutritious, non processed food will assist with regularizing insulin levels and therefore melantonin.

It is always best not to eat too close to bed time.

5. Drink well.

It is best children avoid drinking an hour before bedtime. Our children do not need fizzy drinks, milkshakes, jogurt drinks or sugary “fruit” juices. To hydrate our bodies we need pure water.

6. Avoid stimulants.

Our children do not need caffeine, sugar or any of the additives, preservatives etc. Which are found in so many foods and drinks today. These have a negative impact on the child’s ability to fall asleep, stay asleep and or have a restorative sleep. Not to mention the numerous negative impacts on the child’s growth, development and health. Did you know that there is caffeine in chocolate?

7. Toileting.

Invest in a waterproof under-sheet for your child’s bed! Children should use the toilet before they go to bed. It is not advisable to wake a sleeping child, to bring them to the toilet. Waking a sleeping child during the night only trains their bladder to empty every night at that time. It also prevents the child from maintaining their sleep pattern. A child’s sleep pattern is key in how they physically, emotionally and mentally restore and strengthen themselves everyday.

8. Sunshine and fresh air.

There’s no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing. Children should be encouraged to play outside everyday. The more fresh air and exercise they have, the more oxygen they are getting in their bodies. The body functions better when sufficiently oxygenated, however did you know that the more sunshine you get during the day, the more efficiently the body produces melantonin at night? So playing in the sun will help our children sleep at night.

9. A sleep friendly bedroom.

Although sunshine during the day increases melantonin levels at night, a bright bedroom at night time will reduce melantonin levels at night. Children’s circadian rhythm is set up in such a way, that brightness in the bedroom indicates to the body that it is still day time and there is less need for melantonin. A noisy bedroom should also be avoided. the use of stimulants in the form of technology is not advisable before sleep time. Reading to your child or allowing your child some time to read before sleeping is helpful. I have found that spending approximately fifteen to twenty minutes playing a non stimulating game before the bedtime routine, transforms bedtime into a more positive experience for younger children (and their parents).

10. Communicate with your child and  your family.

The new sleep routine needs to be explained to your child with age appropriate language. Older children may find it fun to have a star chart so they can track their success. The emphasis here is on “fun”. It’s important that if a star chart (or similar) is used that it is used only to showcase the child’s achievements. It is best to focus on our children’s strengths and what they are achieving as opposed to what is not going well. It is also important that parents (whether living together or apart) are agreed on the new sleep routine and how to introduce and reinforce the new sleep routine. If others are involved in your child’s care, for example grandparents, they too need to know the new sleep routine. A child will naturally test their boundaries and limits, it is up to the adults to guide them.

Does Your Child get a Good Night Sleep?

So what is a “good nights sleep”?

Epidemiologic studies (the study and analysis of patterns, causes, and effects of health and disease conditions in populations) support trends in normal sleep patterns across childhood.

Normal Sleep Patterns

From infancy to adolescence the duration of sleep within twenty four hours reduces.

Between the ages of 18 months and 5 years, daytime scheduled napping reduces.

From early childhood to mid/late adolescence going to bed and sleep onset time becomes later.

Irregularity of sleep/wake patterns are linked to school/non-school nights and weekends.

From age 1-5 years old children reduce their total daily sleep need from approximately 13.5 hours to 11 hours, most of which is achieved at night.

Until the age of 5 children nap during the day, with the frequency and duration of daytime sleep reducing with the increase of age.

We want our children to sleep well because sleep is important for growth, development, emotional health and immune function.

Establishing and maintaining healthy sleep hygiene in our children supports their natural balance of body, mind and spirit.

If you want to ask me any questions on healthy sleep patterns click here.

Here are a few practitioners who have written on the subject.

Owens, J. and Jones, C. (2011) ‘Parental Knowledge of healthy sleep in young children: Results of a primary care clinic Survey’, Journal of Development and Behavioural Pediatrics, 32(6).

Davies, K., Parker, K. and Montgomery, G (2004) ‘ Sleep in infants and young children: Part one: Normal Sleep’. Journal of Paediatric Health Care, 18(2).