Herbal First-Aid

Posted on: 3rd November, 2014

Category: Health & Lifestyle

Contributor: West Cork People

Based in Ballydehob, Jacqueline Kilbryde is a practicingherbalist with over 25 years experience. She is a memberof the National Institute Of Medical Herbalists, the oldest body of professional herbalists in Europe (established1864) and a member of the Irish Register Of Chinese Herbal Medicine.

Most homes will have an array of medicine for use in the home cabinet, ready for unexpected accidents, such as burns, cuts, scrapes and infections. Herbal first-aid medicines are extremely effective and useful to have to hand for such emergencies. Here are a few examples.

Burns/Sunburn: Burns are commonplace in the home and there are many herbs that are excellent for use here; notably the Aloe Vera Plant, and every home should have one! These are easy to grow and do well on a partially sunny windowsill. They do not like to be over watered and will grow to a large plant if maintained well. The leaves are full of a soft sticky, slimy substances called mucilage, which has an immediate soothing action via its anti-inflammatory effect, relieving redness, swelling and pain caused by burns and sunburn. Pick a large leaf and open it. Press out the mucilage and apply directly onto the affected area.  Other useful herbs include Plantain leaf /Ribwort, Calendula and Comfrey. All three plants can be made into a salve or ointment to be stored for future use.

A salve/ointment is made by steeping the plant in, for example, sunflower or olive oil, for two to three weeks and left on a sunny windowsill or by infusing the herb in oil, which is heated for extraction. The oil is then strained and heated and beeswax melted into it. As it cools the mixture hardens and can be kept in a container for use to be applied directly onto the skin.

Cuts and Bruises: There are so many wound healers in herbal medicine — it’s a long list. Primarily we have Comfrey, an excellent herb for any type of cut or bruise, as it heals broken skin and bruising. Calendula is another great choice along with Witch Hazel bark and St John’s Wort.

A secondary complication of cuts is infection. To disinfect cuts, as well as heal them, use Calendula, Golden Seal root, St John’s Wort, Fennel, Myrrh and Garlic (before the discovery of antibiotics, garlic was used widely to treat and to prevent infection). An infusion may be made with one or a combination of these herbs and used as a wash for the cut. To make an infusion, steep the herbs of choice in a cup of boiling water for around 20 minutes. The infusion is then strained and the liquid used. Alternatively the herbs here can be made up into an ointment or cream, to be applied topically to the affected area as needed.

A recommendation here is to grow these herbs in your garden. They are all very easy to germinate and grow and are perennial.

Staunching bleeding: Many of our native hedgerow herbs are excellent anti-haemorrhagics/styptics. The herb of choice here is Yarrow, another is Tormentil root; another is Nettle leaf. These can be picked fresh and dried and stored in airtight containers for that time when needed. An infusion or a decoction is then made and poured directly on to the wound, to arrest bleeding.

Witchhazel bark or leaf or Oak bark is also excellent. Interestingly, powder of Cayenne pepper was used to staunch bleeding wounds.

Insect Repellant: The best choice here is the essential oils, combined with a mixture of water and alcohol and kept in a spray- pump bottle. Essential oils of choice are Citronella, Eucalyptus, Peppermint, Lavender, Lemon Grass… all have pleasant aromas but are noxious to insects. One native herb, which is hugely overlooked, is Bog-Myrtle (Myrica gale). The flowers contain a strong essential/volatile oil, which repels troublesome insects, especially midges.

Insect bites: Poultices or ointments of Ribwort and Comfrey will soothe and heal the bite, as will Aloe Vera.

Headache and Muscle Aches: Meadowsweet has an anodyne action (pain reliever), as it contains naturally-occuring Salicylic Acid. It is also anti-inflammatory, thereby making it suitable for aches and pains in the joints and muscles.

Aspirin was manufactured from Meadowsweet and the White Willow bark, as both herbs contain appreciable amounts of Salicyclic acid. Feverfew leaf is also used in headache.

Sore Throats: A gargle of Sage leaf and Marigold flowers in combination both have an antiseptic and anti-inflammatory action on the throat and alleviate soreness of inflamed tonsils, as well as infection. Both plants are easy to grow and can be used fresh or dried. Make an infusion of the leaf and flowers, strain and gargle with the liquid.

Upset stomach: Ginger can be taken in capsule form to allay nausea and vomiting. Chamomile flowers and Lemon Balm are two other excellent choices. Fennel is used also to stop cramps and griping in the gut. Slippery Elm in capsule or powder form protects and heals an irritated stomach lining.

All the above herbs can also be used to stop acute cases of diarrhoea along with the use of Tormentil and Agrimony. These last two herbs are extremely astringent and stop excessive secretions.

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Wave to Mary! 65-year-old Mary Nolan Hickey is running around the entire coast of the Island of Ireland to raise funds & awareness for the RNLI and is currently running the roads of West Cork.

Mary is the only woman to have completed every single Dublin Marathon (all 38 of them). She’s also completed the grueling Marathon des Sables in the Sahara Desert, known as the ‘toughest foot race on earth’.

To mark her 50th year involved in Athletics Mary is taking on her biggest challenge yet (even though she thought she’d already done that when completing the Dublin Marathon when she was over six months pregnant!) She wants to raise as much money as possible for the RNLI.

Mary started her epic journey in Arklow, Co. Wicklow, on New Year’s Day. She aims to cover up to 5000 kilometers, using coastal routes, over the next five months. She hopes to get back in time to get her first pension payment in June when she turns 66.

Mary will stop off at as many RNLI stations as possible, on her once in a lifetime adventure. As far as she knows no other woman has ever taken on this challenge.

Speaking about her journey Mary said:

“I wanted to prove that age not a barrier. Coming from a coastal town I have a deep affinity with our local RNLI station & volunteers and have huge admiration for the brave men and women who risk their lives to save lives at sea”.

Mary, who’s depending on the goodwill of communities along her route for accommodation, has been astounded by the response so far. “The support has been overwhelming,” she said. “I have met the most amazing and encouraging people along the way”.

To see more about Mary’s adventures, and to pinpoint her location today, check out her Facebook page - rnlilapofthemap2018.

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20th March, 2018  ·  


This Saturday the 10th March, will see some magically curious activity as local Bandon national schools compete in a Wizarding Harry Potter Quiz. The prize will be the beautiful Bandon Banshee Perpetual Cup.

As any Harry Potter enthusiast knows, Bandon has the unique honour of having a character named after the town. The Bandon Banshee, was referred to as the nemesis of Gilderoy Lockhart in the Chamber of Secrets. The book grossed €60 million in sales and was the 7th highest earning film of all time.

Locals, looking to enhance the town for young people, saw the quiz as an ideal way promote the connection. The universally absorbing book series brings young readers on a huge adventure of magic, adversity and triumph. It is also an exploration of loyalty and friendship, good and evil – so it is not only popular way to engage young people, it is a hugely positive connection.

Zoe Tennyson, one of the organisers said they were delighted with the response from schools who ran a qualifying quiz as part of World Book Day. On Saturday Bandon Town Hall will be transformed into Hogwarts Great Hall, with proceeds going Bandon Playground Group, and to cover costs of the event.

Bandon Books will be rewarding the winning team with vouchers to each of the five members. The Bandon Banshee, or Bean-sidhe na Bandaan Perpetual Cup will be hotly contested – but which school will the Banshee go to??

If you have any questions please call Marguerite McQuaid on 087 900 9494
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8th March, 2018  ·  

Ballineen Foróige Young Engineers Exhibition 23 February 2018

The inaugural Ballineen Foróige Young Engineers Exhibition will take place in Gort Mhuire Hall in Ballineen this Friday 23rd February. As part of Engineers Week 2018, leaders and members of Ballineen Foróige Club have organised an exhibition which will showcase a diverse and exciting range of engineering projects that have been undertaken by members of the club over the last few weeks, with the aid of leaders and a number of local engineers.

With the aid of local pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly, along with the support of STEAM Education, a UCC based company focused on promoting science, technology, engineering, arts, and maths subjects in primary schools, Ballineen Foróige has been engaging members and leaders in all things engineering over the last six weeks. From researching, designing, and prototyping a project based on local problems, to participating in various workshops on coding and careers in engineering, Ballineen Foróige have been extremely busy in preparation for the exhibition this coming Friday night.

On the night itself, Michael Loftus, Head of Engineering at CIT, Fintan Goold, Manager at Eli Lilly and All-Ireland Cork winning Footballer, along with Geraldine Coughlan of GCA Architects & Designers, a local business, will act as judges on the night, evaluating the different engineering projects and offering some advice to the members of the club. Also in attendance will be the CEO of Foróige Seán Campbell, along with a number of local councillors, TD’s and Senators.

Leading the team of Ballineen Foróige leaders organising the event, is Rebecca Dwyer, a bioprocess engineer at Eli Lilly. Rebecca recently became a leader in the club and says that Ballineen Foróige Young Engineer Exhibition 2018 “promises to be a fun, challenging and rewarding experience for all involved and we look forward to welcoming parents, relatives, friends and members of the public to the exhibition and film screening on the evening of Friday 23rd February.” Overall, there are twelve projects entered in the exhibition. One project, led by Cian Kennefick and Charlie Nolan, members of the starting out club, examines the possibility of installing speed ramps on the road near local primary school. Fourteen-year-old Charlie says he got involved in the project as it was something to do and it gets you thinking. Cian says the most exciting part of the project was the building of the prototypes.

Both Cian and Charlie, along with thirty other members of the club will display their projects this coming Friday 23 February in Gort Mhuire Hall in Ballineen. Doors open at 8pm and the event runs until 10pm. All are welcome to attend, and admission is free. Catering, including tea and coffee, will be provided on the night.
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20th February, 2018  ·  

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Main course

17th February, 2018  ·  

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