With the Chelsea Flower Show in full bloom, our parks a riot of colour and the scent of English country gardens in the air, it’s time for flowers to have their moment of glory once again.
But while roses, daisies, poppies and the other natural beauties popping up around us look pretty, what makes many flowers even more wonderful is their secret health-boosting powers.
Sebastian Pole, medical herbalist for Pukka Herbs, has suggested five of Britain’s best flowers (and one lowly yet lovely weed) for helping us feel fantastic this summer.
They can all be enjoyed in the form of herbal tea, so you don’t need to go around grabbing flowers and eating them (something we strongly advise against!) to feel the benefits.
Here’s what Sebastian recommends:
These characteristic white daisy-like flowers might just be our best companions when we are in need of some relaxation. This plant is most widely used for its nervine effect, relaxing the nervous system and relieving tension in the whole body.
Chamomile helps to relieve insomnia, colic or general anxiety and also has anti-inflammatory properties that have proven effective in digestive and skin-based infections.
The national symbol of England and arguably one of the sweetest smelling flowers to grace the flowerbed, rose is a soothing flower for all the senses, on both a physical and emotional level, helping to relieve emotional tension.
The cooling and anti-inflammatory nature of rose has an affinity for the heart and blood. Rose is excellent at clearing excess heat and congestion from the bloodstream and targeting blood-based disorders such as those associated with the menstrual cycle and/or the skin.
Part of the daisy family, the purple-petalled Echinacea plant supports and strengthens a weakened immune system. Echinacea reduces the severity and duration of symptoms, whilst also helping the body to deal with infection and stimulate the immune response.
It is effective when we have become ‘run-down’ as a result of stress or over-work, the classic scenario being that an individual becomes ill as soon as they start to relax, and will support and gradually strengthen a weakened immune system in addition to being able to effectively treat an acute attack of infection.
Famous for its pungent smell when you brush past its bristles, lavender is a classic herb for cheering the heart, easing emotional pain and promoting relaxation within the nervous system, digestion and the mind.
Lavender is high in levels of naturally occurring essential oils that have a profound effect upon the central nervous system. It is effective in clearing anxiety, depression and insomnia through gently strengthening the nervous system. It is of particular benefit for those who experience symptoms such as insomnia, hypertension, indigestion and tension headaches as a result of stress or anxiety.
Despite this ‘weed’s’ bad rep, nettle is an incredibly nutritious plant, rich in vitamins A and C, but is also high in iron, magnesium, calcium, chromium, zinc, potassium, phosphorous and silicon.
Nettle is a survivor by nature: it can grow anywhere and is good for treating a variety of ailments. Its high iron content makes it an excellent support for blood-based disorders such as anaemia, and it has a high anti-histaminic response, calming an allergic reaction, particularly seasonal or skin. Nettle also removed acidity from inflamed joints and helps to balance blood sugar.