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I am very fortunate that we have wild garlic or ramsons growing in the Oakridge garden. I live in an area that has acidic soil and was once woodland, perfect for the wild garlic to grow. I keep a small patch of the garden to let nature take its course and each year I am blessed with this delight. This plant has many names but my favorite is bear’s garlic, apparently bears like to forage for this wonderful gift in springtime too. Obviously, we don’t have any bears in the UK, but this plant grows all over the world and is related to the cultivated onions and garlic we know and love today. When the new shoots grow in early spring it is a good indication to me that warmer weather is just around the corner. I use the garlic when it starts to sprout leaves in early March. I picked some of the leaves today and noticed the flower buds are just forming. The leaves are one of the first things I use from the garden whilst they are young and fresh and full of flavour. In the next few weeks I will use the flowers and the bulbs too. By the end of June everything is wilting and returning to the ground just as nature intended.
I love its slightly sweet yet pungent flavour and is such a versatile plant to use in cooking. My personal favorite is to chop it in an omelette or to make a pesto from the bright green leaves. Once the flowers come in May the white heads look really appetizing to liven up even the most boring salad. Wild garlic like its cultivated family it is high in vitamin C, can lower cholesterol and has antiseptic qualities. It has been used in folk medicine as a remedy for many ailments including sore eyes, toothache, coughs, colds and sciatica. To ward off the common cold fresh leaves would be put in your shoes before you ventured outside. A poultice would be applied to wounds to aid healing and treat infection or to be used as a blood tonic.
In Chinese Medicine garlic helps to nourish the lungs. The lungs relate to the distribution of qi, our vital life force, and are involved in the circulation of Wei qi in our body. In Chinese Medicine Wei qi is our army of foot soldiers always ready as the first line of defense against invasion from disease and infection, it can be likened somewhat to our immune system. If our Wei qi is strong then our bodies are in a better position to fight. By having regular acupuncture treatments and eating nourishing foods our Wei qi can be stimulated to strengthen, rebalance and support our immune system enabling us to be stronger and more resilient to threat.
So tonight my family are in for a treat, I will be using it to make a pesto to help boost our Wei qi and there is nothing more satisfying than knowing that I can forage this from my garden.
March is Endometriosis Awareness Month. It affects more than 1.5 million women in the UK. That’s a staggering 10% of the female population of childbearing age and yet over half the population are unaware of this debilitating condition. Even if you don’t suffer yourself you are likely to know someone who does. Endometriosis is a condition where cells like the ones found in the womb grow elsewhere in the body, usually in the pelvis, including the bladder and the bowel. These cells react to the hormonal changes happening during the monthly cycle and especially around the time of menstruation. It can cause chronic pain, painful and heavy periods, fertility issues, painful sex, digestive and urinary issues, fatigue, depression and anxiety, leaving many women having time off school, college or work every month. This can go on for years. Many suffer in silence as culturally we don’t like talking about the menstrual cycle and many women go undiagnosed and untreated. There is no known cure, so managing this condition can be very difficult. Most treatments consist of pain relief, some include hormonal treatment and even surgery. For some it may be so severe and debilitating that the only option is to have a hysterectomy, completely ruling out any chance of having babies. Many women seek alternative treatments to help them with their symptoms. There is some initial evidence to suggest that acupuncture can help by reducing pain, inflammation and help hormone regulation. Only a few research studies have been conducted specifically on endometriosis and acupuncture, so further research is required in this field. So next time someone around you is complaining or off work during their menstrual cycle, just take a moment to consider that their suffering maybe more than just a bad period.