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Why we all need friends…

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Friends are important. My friends have in no uncertain truth helped me survive the last few months. Without their love, support and presence in my life I am not sure that my mental health would have remained as intact ) but frayed) as it is. Friends have appeared from so many places, the long term ,soul touched friendships that have remained strong for many years and the people on the periphery of my life who have shown themselves to be kinder more thoughtful and of such importance that I would never have known without this most terrible experience of my life. 

Science has proven that having friendship can extend life expectancy and lower chances of heart disease,  it physically helps us to  survive. Friendship ignites the part of the brain that makes us feel good, which makes us want  and need to be close and interact with our friends. We release the ‘ feel good’ chemicals like dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin

Which in turn relieves stress and promotes happiness. 

Lonely people are more likely to die and to have heart disease , we are not designed as humans to be alone or solitary and thankfully in this modern age of technology we are open to a huge arena of possible friendships even if we are confined to home.  We are able to reach out and make ‘virtual’ long-distance friends which can help immensely in the small hours when close at hand friends are not available or when you are feeling isolated and fragile. 

At different stages in our lives we will make friends and leave them along the way, Life will twist and turn as we grow, have families, move areas and change.Some friendships will survive , some will flounder and people who were simply acquaintances will fade away with fond memories. 

If you are incredibly lucky one of your closest friendships will be your partner.The one who understands and respects your dreams and goals who  believes in you and supports even your tiniest , silliest ideas. The one who will listen to your fears and hopes and hold your heart safe. 

 

We all have some dark secrets in life , your friends are where they are absolutely safe. You can talk about your silly mistakes, family problems, simply pour your heart out knowing with a breath of kindness they will let it go and never hold against you.

Everybody goes through some difficult times when you need a shoulder to cry on. Friends will be there to listen to your nonsense talks and still acknowledge whatever you are saying to lighten your heart and calm your soul. They give advice ,show you the kindness that you need when you are in trouble and are the ones who understand you and no matter what the situation is surrounding you with positive energy.
I am so lucky, I have friends who love me just the way I am . They have seen me at my ugliest both physically and emotionally and in the worst situations in my life they flew to my side. . They know me inside out.
They know my weaknesses, flaws, dark past, everything and still, they are by my side.

Friends are so important because unlike family who have an obligation to us they love us unconditionally, they love without expecting anything in return. The times spent with them are likely the most memorable ones in our lives. My friends and I set out to make memories now and those are above anything that can be bought.

I'm a slightly deranged middle aged widow, living in the Cotswolds with two fabulously funny little dogs. A mother, grandmother, sister and friend. Determined to survive by writing to remember, to forget and to cope with grief. the memory of my husband supporting me, guiding me and probably laughing at me if there is a ‘somewhere’

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Herbal Medicine

Properties of burdock; what this plant is for and how to use it

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Burdock

Burdock (Arctium Lappa) is commonly found in the UK, especially in hedges and on roadsides and paths and anywhere where it can grow undisturbed. A plant known for centuries for its medicinal properties, especially for its diuretic properties.

It is also said to be good for the blood. It is also used for skin problems and to promote sweating. Burdock contains many minerals including iron and substances such as lignin and inulin. It also contains small doses of caffeine.

properties of burdock

What are the other properties of burdock?

It is a good blood purifier and is used for arthritic rheumatism, sciatica and lumbago. The seeds and leaves are a powerful purifier and are used to treat skin ailments. Burdock is used to promote kidney functions and helps these organs filter the blood, eliminating harmful acids.

In general, crushed seeds are used from which an infusion is made, while the roots are used to make a very strong decoction. The decoction can be used for internal or external use. A table spoon of roots and a cup of water are enough to make a decoction.

You can drink it once a day, not during meals to see some benefit. Once cooled, you can use this lotion on the skin, especially in cases of acne and oily skin in general. When taken internally, this substance is eliminated by the sweat glands, thus removing toxic waste and promoting sweating. Burdock seeds are then used to eliminate fever and heat conditions boils, ulcers and infections. To induce sweating, first drink a cup of burdock seed tea.

There is also a Chinese version of burdock which is supposed to be an aphrodisiac, not all properties of burdock are the same.

Warnings Do not take burdock by mouth if you have type II diabetes and are taking medicines to control blood glucose.

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Herbal Medicine

How the ancient Egyptians used medical plants

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Of all the ancient civilizations, the Egyptian one was definitely the first of which we have a good knowledge of how they used herbs and plants for medicinal reasons. Sure, everything we know is a bit vague, but we have some ideas.

The first Egyptian physician we know was called Imhotep and worked for the pharaohs of the third dynasty, around 3000 years BC. We also know about him that he was an astrologer and had the ability to cure many diseases.

Obviously our knowledge is partly based on legends, anyone who was able to cure diseases was considered a magician and therefore seen as if an almost divine character, a magician and for his healing powers. But in general in Egyptian civilization, medicine and religion went hand in hand. So it wasn’t just the medicines that healed but the gods through medicines.

The concept of active ingredients, chemistry and pharmacology are modern concepts that were not found in Egyptian medicine. Another aspect of Egyptian culture that developed knowledge of the properties of herbs and plants was mummification. In fact, many substances that we use even now were used to mummify and perfume.

The interesting thing is the use of certain plants or natural remedies such as frankincense or myrrh (which would be the resins of plants and therefore require a little processing) which are still used today. They certainly used different essential oils such as peppermint, camphor and others that we also use.

Frescos have been found in Egyptian times showing the production and use of essential oils. Of course, even in this case everything was very much linked to religion.

Another thing we know for sure because papyri have been found, such as Ebers’s, which list the medicines that were recommended to a patient, were basically the ancestors of our medical prescriptions. Obviously not all medicines were plants, the Egyptians also used minerals as medicine but the majority were undoubtedly of vegetable origin.

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Grieving

A day in the life of a slightly deranged widow… The Ice cream

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It has been cold , rainy , miserable and days since I have seen a human being in person. I think for the sake of my sanity I need to pop to the shop and buy ice cream. I will get essentials at the same time of course but right now all I can imagine is ice cream. The problem is I don’t keep much in the house anymore, gone are the days visitors would arrive and I’d frantically whip up some scones or brownies. Gone the days Andy would say I fancy a brew , do we have any cake and Id say so what do you fancy and if there was nothing in the tin I’d make him something quickly. 

I don’t do sweet stuff, but just occasionally the human body seems to crave things and science proves this is to do with the state of our emotions. 

So donning clothes suitable to be seen  in public I tug a brush through my hair and decide not to check a mirror in case I decide it’s too much work before I can leave the house. 

Smugly remembering to pick up a shopping bag – seriously I have  a retirement fund’s worth of bags under the sink but I regularly forget to take them – I grab a couple of dog treats to throw for my babies and yell ‘’ bye! See you in a while, be good! ‘’ and head for the car. 

I start my usual routine, bag, check, purse, check, keys, check mask… bloody hell. I dig in my bottomless handbag and pull out a mask that really needs a wash. Ok…that’s not good, i am sure I have some disposable ones in the glove box. No… they are now strewn on the floor in the back from when I entertained my grandchildren while my daughter shopped the other day. They are now drawn on, ripped into animal shapes and screwed up to be pretend birthday presents. 

Ok…do I go back into the house and upset the dogs or try something else first, I’m starting to go off the idea of going out but I really do need milk ,bread and just to see another human so I dig in the boot. Yay! I found one. It’s damp and smells a bit like mildew because its been under a bottle of screen-wash but it will do. ok…I can leave at last. 

Eventually masked up, trolley sanitised and a pound coin found in the depths of my purse I wander into the shop. I weave my way through the few people in the aisles, its odd to think this time last year we thought nothing of slipping past people or bending past them to grab things, now we are shuffling like wary crabs to keep distance and as I allow people past or they stand aside ,  I smile forgetting they cant see my mouth so think I’m probably just staring manically.

I grab the things I need and decide that will be enough, I’m not enjoying being in public, it feels weird and uncomfortable somehow and I am not sure if it is because of the situation we are all in or I am just becoming very antisocial and uneasy, I make my way to the ice cream and look at the array on offer, All I want is pistachio but as I have never found it for sale anywhere I will have to make do with honeycomb. 

Food bought and back in the car, home and unload. I’m so relieved to be back. I can’t imagine why I had been so desperate to get out in the first place.  I grab a spoon and sit with the tub of ice cream and cuddle up with the dogs on the sofa. I turn on some music and can feel myself actually calm down . The sweet frozen yumminess is like a burst of sunshine and a jolt of something akin to actual pleasure goes through me.

This is why I am the size of a whale, I seek comfort in food. Food has probably always been akin to happiness to a certain extent  for me but now I can accept it is what I am turning to for that quick fix, food you can replace easily, You can have without feeling guilty,( unless you are dieting but that’s a problem we won’t go into at this point) and it doesn’t die on you…

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