Humble Herbal’s Herbarium

A compendium of the herbs we grow, forage and use.

Many years ago, working in Romania, Matthew fell ill and was taken to the local hospital. Rather than being given the latest antibiotic her was prescribed herbal tea. This sparked a fascination with herbs, natural remedies, foraging and working alongside nature to create balance within the world and within our bodies

Step forward 20+ years, Matthew is now a qualified herbalist and uses his knowledge to create balms, herbal teas and infusions for friends and family. Focusing on herbs and wild flowers that grow within Cumbria, Matthew loves the innate quality of every day plants and the potential to do good to body and soul.

If you’d like information about advice and guidance Matthew, as a herbalist, can offer herbalist, please send us an email and we’ll be in touch with the options available.

Below is our “Humble Herbarium” details the herbs we use, why and how we use them. We only use herbs local to our area as our aim is to be as one with our home environment, using the world we live in to aid our wellbeing, health and happiness

Calendula (Calendula Officinalis)

Calendula Officinalis – This cheerful, golden flower, takes pride of place as an antiseptic first aid remedy.

Calendula enhances immunity and helps the body fight bacterial, fungal and viral infections. In the digestive system it relieves irritation and inflammation and aids digestion and nutrient absorption. Taken as a hot tea, calendula brings down fevers, improves blood and lymphatic circulation and regulates menstruation. In the uterus it clears the congestion that contributes to period pain, excessive bleeding, fibroids and cysts. Apply calendula externally to sooth cuts and skin problems, varicose veins, warts, burns and cold sores.

This versatile flower, grown liberally in our Cumbrian garden has many properties that support wellness and balance, these include anti-inflammatory properties, reducing inflammation within the tissues of the body, astringent elements, reducing the amount of fluid lost from the bodies cells, and Vulnerary properties, promoting wound healing especially of skin lesions.  A secondary benefit is it’s anti-fungal properties, always useful!

The dried flowers of our Calendula are central to many of our products, it is the core ingredient of our “Bee Soothed” range due to it’s ability to sooth and benefit the skin, but it’s included in the majority of our oil infusions as a herb renowned for it’s ability to promote health and healing.

California Poppy (Eschscholzia Californica)

This herb, the state flower of California, is a 2-foot high annual with finely cut leaves and bright orange, pink, red or yellow flowers. The above ground parts of the plant are used in herbal medicine. It is calming and anti-inflammatory. The main active component is californidine which has sleep inducing and sedative effect.

A little goes a long way!

The recognised properties of this beautiful flower are that it’s a nervine helping the body to relax, it’s hypnotic, aiding sleep and anodyne, helping with pain relief. The vibrancy of the colour, lasting well into the Cumbrian autumn, lifts the spirit whilst the infusion soothes the mind.

German Chamomile (Matricaria Recutita)

Chamomile – is a delicately fragranced, spirit lifting herb ideal for relieving the symptoms of stress.

 It calms anxiety, soothes irritability and combats nightmares. As a gentle herb, it relieves tension and inflammation in the digestive tract making it an ideal treatment for pain or colic as well as diarrhoea and constipation, being anti-septic, anti-inflammatory and pain relieving it is beneficial in the treatment of flu and will ease aches and pains along with a host of symptoms associated with infection and allergy including cystitis and eczema. A chamomile infusion can be used in the treatment of wounds and thrush.

Learning about herbs lots of new words are discovered, Chamomile taught us about “carminative” properties, something Chamomile is excellent for. As well as soothing intestinal spasm and pain by relaxing thee intestinal muscles and sphincters, it also relieves flatulence! It’s a bitter herb, so the taste can take some getting used to, but through being bitter it stimulates the secretion of bile, thereby aiding the digestive process. As with Calendula it’s vulnary and as with California poppy, it’s a sedative. Essentially, it’s a pretty daisy that helps healing, aids relaxation and reduces flatulence.

The bees buzz around our chamomile bed, looking very chilled and buzzing a little faster than normal, sure this has noting to do with its carminative properties!

Cleavers (Galium Aparine)

A common hedgerow weed cleavers are a wonderful cleanser and detoxifier.

Used as a cleansing remedy to remove toxins and reduce heat and inflammation. Soothing and diuretic, cleavers are also good for cystitis, fluid retention, arthritis, gout and taken regularly as a tea can help clear a range of skin conditions.

Cooling cleavers can help swollen lymph nodes and can help to reduce congestion and inflation, it will also reduce fevers. An infusion of cleavers can be applied to aid the healing of wounds and burns and as a hair rinse against dandruff.

Who would have thought the humble sticky bud, the lover of woolly socks on grassy walks, the attacher to terrier hair when they go scurrying through the hedgerow, could be so good for you? As a herbal infusion this diuretic promotes the production and elimination of urine, essentially, it makes you pee, but this clears the system and helps the endocrine system to remain healthy, it’s a tonic, nurturing and enlivening the body and soul, as an alterative, it helps to restore proper functioning of the body and as an astringent and anti-inflammatory, it tightens cell walls and reduces tissue inflammation. It also sticks to anything and everything so take care when harvesting.

This is one herb we haven’t had to carefully plant and nurture in our Cumbrian garden, it’s there, in our garden, in the ancient lane, throughout the farmyard! Just be conscious when harvesting it that it’s not somewhere it can be sprayed by anything nasty, keep it natural, for body and soul.

Comfrey – (Symphytum Officinale)

Although the root has been used for many years, concern over how it can have a toxic effect on the liver has reduced its use. The leaves however, especially in the form of a balm speed up healing, and helps broken bones. No broken bone should be without the invaluable support offered by Comfrey balm!

The renound herbalist, Kiva Rose, writes: “Comfrey, she’s just too charming. Such pretty bell shaped flowers, and intricately detailed leaves. And what attitude! The plant that proliferates from one tiny, itty bitty crumb of root and grows into an explosion of new life. This particular talent speaks to the action of the plant on our body as well. This plant is a folk legend in European based herbalism and deserves its reputation.

Comfrey is one of those “no-brainers” when it comes to appropriate application of its talents. Broken bone, pulled muscle, sprained ankle, busted knee? Somebody get the Comfrey!

I’ve seen old breaks that just wouldn’t heal recover in record time (sometimes in less than a week) with use of Comfrey (internal or external). I’ve seen skin I thought would never find its way back together (pressure sores) neatly knit itself whole with a simple salve. I’ve used it for large sections of abraided, raw skin and on a severely injured knee (from a powerful contusion that resulted in massive bruising and some internal damage), all with great success.”

This is a real favourite of our local bee communities, and takes pride of place between our house and the workshop. As it’s so voracious in its enthusiasm to spread it has an entire bed to itself and provides a riot of purple bloom.

Dandelion – (Taraxacum Officinale)

Seen as a humble weed, dandelion is an excellent detoxifier and tonic.

Dandelion has a bitter taste which triggers the secretion of digestive enzymes and bile from the liver, as a result, dandelion helps to improve appetite and digestion and improves the action of the liver and gall bladder.

Dandelion root stimulates the pancreas which secretes insulin and so can regulate blood sugar.

Dandelion leaf tea has a diuretic action and makes a good wash for irritating skin complaints such as eczema and acne.

Applied directly to the site of a wart or verruca the white “sap” can help speed healing.

As with the cleaver, this diuretic is excellent at helping to eliminate toxins from the body, but also, an infusion of dandelion can help sooth skin irritations as well! Not bad for a plant that is so widespread across the fields and verges on the British countryside

Elder (Sambucus Nigra)

The elder tree is a pharmacy providing medicines for all manner of conditions

Both the flowers and the berries induce sweating and dispel toxin, clearing heat and inflammations from the body. The flowers have decongestant, anti-inflammatory and relaxant properties and are excellent for colds, catarrh and flu. The leaves, flowers, berries and bark are all diuretic. Elderberries are rich in immune-boosting vitamin C and have a laxative effect.

Outside our living room window we have an elder tree which we have nicknamed our “Tree of Life”. Over the winter it is adorned with bird feeders, a constant cacophony of song can be heard from its branches as our local woodpecker, blue tits, sparrows and robins feed both on the feeders we provide and the bugs nestled within the bark.

As a life long hayfever sufferer, the flowers are crucial for Matthew throughout the pollen season to enable him to carry on functioning, a regular dose of elderflower infusion is vital in reducing the impact of the summer blight.

The berries should never be eaten raw, but cooked / boiled, they create a wonderful syrup that strengthens the immune system and reduces the risk of winter colds.

One of our projects for 2020, Elderflower champagne, to be used to toast our wedding in August! The Elder, a tree that just keeps on giving

Fennel (Foeniculum Vulgare)

A feathery herb with aniseed aroma is a crucial herb for settling and relaxing the stomach.

Historically, those wanting to lose weight and stay young chewed fennel seeds. The seeds are most effective as digestive aids – settling the stomach, relieving colic, and wind, easing indigestion and heartburn. You can also boost your appetite by chewing on some seeds before a meal. Fennel is also antispasmodic and diuretic. The cool tea can be applied to skin to reduce wrinkles. The seeds also increase milk flow for nursing mothers.

With a strong aroma  of aniseed, we have fennel beside one of our garden paths, the scent as friends, family and animals brush against it always evokes childhood memories of sweets long forgotten, the taste of the tea, an instant return to a distant past.

Globe Artihoke (Cynara Cardunculus)

The use of the immature flower as a vegetable is widely appreciated. However, herbalists value other parts of the plant for their medicinal value. In particular the leaves of Cynara have a well-established tradition for stimulating bile and urine flow, restoring liver function and lowering cholesterol.

This is a herb only occasionally used, we love it in our garden as the architectural properties of the towering flower and broad leaves makes a real impact, the purple, as with blues, are a primary focus of the native bees. As an infusion the leaves can support digestive and liver function, regular doses have also been shown to significantly inhibit the creation of cholesterol.

Hawthorn (Crataegus Monogyna)

A “food for the heart”, hawthorn is renowned for its ability to strengthen the heart and balance circulation.

If you suffer from thickening of the walls of your arteries, hawthorn can soften deposits in the arteries. It is effective in the treatment of high blood pressure, ow blood pressure and angina and regulates the heart, helping to overcome irregular heartbeat and palpitations. The berries are astringent and can help to cure diarrhoea. A tea made from the leaves, flowers and berries together treats indigestion. A decoction of the flowers and berries, used topically can cure acne and a gargle can sooth a sore throat.

Along the lane from our home, where we walk daily with the dogs (and occasionally cats), hawthorns are abundant. They are vibrant in their voracious colour, overhanging the small railway line on one side, and brushing against the farm traffic on the other. Used for bespoke products, all Hawthorn used is foraged from within 100m of where we live, nature and it’s finest.

Lavender (Lavandula Augustifolia)

Sweet smelling lavender is an aromatic healer for mind, body and spirit.

Historically used to ward off moths in our grannies wardrobes it is now more commonly used to help you relax, unwind and go ahhhhhhh.

 Lavender is an antioxidant protecting the body against free radicals which spread the signs of increasing age, as well as helping in decongestion and generally battling bacteria.

 Externally lavender essential oils help to reduce scaring and heal wounds, and relieves the irritation caused by insect bites and stings.

There is a supplier of lavender plants, they sell the most wonderful varieties and model specimens. Once a year they sell off their “misshapen” lavender, those that don’t quite come up to standard of the perfect shape and proportions. We’re glad to say we give a home to these misshapen specimens, we nurture and tend them and they flourish in the morning sun of our Cumbrian garden. The lavender infused for our bee calm range is harvested and dried on site, the lavender buds in the soap and shampoo bars have all lived and shared their beautiful aroma in our garden near Kendal.

Lemon Balm (Melissa Officinalis)

Once believed to hold the key to eternal life, lemon balm both improves memory and also aids concentration.

Lemon balm should be a staple in any herb bed or family garden. Not only does it taste nice with a soft, neutral taste, it can work wonders in helping to ease headaches, migraines, insomnia and the dizziness caused by vertigo.

When taken as a hot infusion its anti-microbial and decongestant properties are enhanced meaning that it is ideal for the treatment of colds, flu, chest infections and coughs.

Lemon balm can help lower fevers, speeding up the recovery from colds and flu.

If a strong infusion is added to a child’s bath it promotes relaxation, reduces hyperactivity and induces a restful sleep.

Other symptoms that respond well are any stress related digestive problems, PMT, painful periods anxiety and depression.

This herb has something for everyone, the student needing focus to study, the hyperactive child who is full of energy when parents are desperate for some sleep, the whole family as winter colds kick in. Once the plant germinates it is not complex to grow and with careful harvesting will give free, tasty and long lasting health care for many, many seasons.

Nettle (Urtica Dioica)

Get past its sting and the nettle is one of the most versatile herbal remedies available. The leaves and stems are packed with vitamins and minerals including vit A and C, potassium, iron and calcium and they make an excellent remedy for allergies. The roots can be used to prevent hair loss and can help reduce the size of enlarged prostrate. The diuretic actions of nettle helps clear toxins from the body while its astringency helps stem bleeding, lessen diarrhoea and heal ulcers. The sting itself brings blood to the surface of the skin and helps relieve joint pain and swelling associated with arthritis.

People sometimes ask, if they can plant and harvest any herb in their garden, what should they try first. It never goes down well when the answer given is nettle! It is such an incredible herb though, it’s tonic properties, how it refreshes the system, helps detoxify the body and aid general health and wellbeing. It might be really painful if you’re stung, but ignoring that minor detail, it’s a herb no garden or family should be without!

Passion Flower (Passiflora Incarnata)

This striking flower is a potent remedy to calm the spirit and induce restful sleep


Passionflower is a wonderfully relaxing herb that has been known to bring on restorative and refreshing sleep, even to the most difficult cases of insomnia. It calms the nerves and gently relieves muscle tension, making it perfect for relieving all kinds of stress related problems. Passionflower has also been successful in treating nervous conditions such as neuralgia, Parkinson’s and shingles. If you suffer from asthma, or have a nervous cough, passionflower can help relieve tension in the chest.

Our passionflower is growing on an ancient apple tree (well, a quite old, very not-living apple tree to be exact), the wonderful angularity of the apple’s branches provide the passion flower ample anchorage for its vibrant bloom, south facing, the flowers offer an iridescent backdrop against the Cumbrian fells behind

Peppermint (Mentha Piperita)

Peppermint – more than just a flavour of toothpaste!

Warming and cooling, peppery and pungent peppermint is the essential digestive aid,

Peppermint stimulates the flow of digestive juices helping in the smooth digestion of food, relieving stomach cramps and keeping you feeling healthy as well as being healthy! It is a circulatory stimulant helping to promote sweating and reduce fevers and combat flu.

As a circulatory stimulant, Peppermint will help keep you warm in the winter and cool in the summer and by increasing the blood flow to the brain increasing concentration and alertness. It helps clear catarrhal digestion, and eases pain and tension that is caused by stomach pains, headaches and arthritis.

Once sown peppermint will give a reliable, solid crop that is easy to harvest. Placed near a footpath in the garden, its strong, distinctive smell can freshen the air and lighten the spirits of all who pass.

Peppermint embodies “Bee Lively”, it stimulates, it increases focus, it is core and central to our bee lively soap and shampoo bars. Anyone struggling to wake up in the morning…a bee lively peppermint shampoo bar will definitely put a spring in your step!

Rosemary (Rosmarius Officinalis)

Deliciously aromatic, rosemary can banish negativity, dispel anxiety and lift the spirits.


Rosemary will strengthen the nerves, but sooth them too, making it wonderful if you are feeling low or anxious. The herb also stimulates the flow of blood to your head, improving mental clarity and concentration, and relieving headaches. Us the essential oil or take hot rosemary tea to fight infections. Rosemary will stimulate the digestion, as well as promote the production of bile in the liver making it a great remedy for a hangover. A rosemary oil massage will ease all manner of muscular or nerve pain.

Used in a variety of our products, the mental clarity associated with rosemary is central to our “Bee Lively” range, infused alongside peppermint for balance and wellbeing


Sage is renowned for its infection busting qualities, earning it the name “herb of immortality”


Revered for many years’ sage is one of the most effective antimicrobial herbs for the treatment of cold, flu, catarrh, sore throat or chest infection. It is an excellent digestive and bitter remedy, increasing digestion and the absorption of nutrients. Sage tea is a great diuretic, helping to clear the body of toxins and so is useful in the treatment pf arthritis and gout. Sage’s oestrogenic properties help regulate periods, relieve period pain and ease the symptoms of the menopause, especially hot flushes.

Yarrow (Achillea Millefolium)

A summer herb, found wild in the countryside, yarrow is renowned as a remedy for bleeding.

Yarrows astringent properties have a drying on body fluids and help to stem blood flow, curb diarrhoea and clear catarrh. The herb is also a great to stimulate the appetite, enhance digestion and absorption and relax tension in the gut. Antiseptic and anti-inflammatory, yarrow speeds healing in gastritis and enteritis. A hot tea can overcome fevers, colds and flu and a lukewarm tea can relieve cystitis. Use of yarrow tea externally to bathe wounds, varicose ulcers and burns, as well as haemorrhoids and skin conditions such as eczema.

Please note, Matthew is a clinically trained and qualified herbalist. The information above is for background information and for personal reference, but should in not be used by individuals to self medicate with foraged or purchased herbs.

If herbal treatment is of interest, please contact a registered herbalist for advice.