Herbs on Stanpit Marsh

Herbs on Stanpit Marsh

Stanpit Marsh Nature Reserve Christchurch, Dorset, UK

Stanpit Marsh is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). It has a 7000 year history of human activity. In 1969 excavations on the eastern shore of Mother Siller's channel revealed artefacts left by Mesolithic coastal wanderers (3000 BC). As well as flint fragments, traces of Purbeck Limestone and stone from Portland were found (evidence of human movements across Dorset). At that time, the sea level was lower than today so there are likely to be more Neolithic remains now under water.
Stanpit Marsh is situated on the north side of Christchurch Harbour, just below the confluence of the rivers Avon and Stour. The 65 hectare site has an unusual combination of habitats including salt marsh with creeks and salt pans, reed beds, freshwater marsh, gravel estuarine banks and sandy scrub. It was designated as a Local Nature Reserve in 1964 and in 1986 as a Site of Special Scientific Interest. The Marsh is home to over 300 species of plants, 14 of which are nationally rare and endangered. find out more. None of the plants on Stanpit Marsh may be cut or collected by anyone of course as the whole area is designated a National Nature Reserve. The Reserve is looked after by professional wardens of the Christchurch Borough Council, Dorset, UK.

Alan Hopking, medical practitioner and director of Herbactive Health Clinic, is Chairman of the Friends of Stanpit Marsh (founded 1982).

Herbs found on Stanpit Marsh and their Medicinal Action

I have often taken groups of herb lovers for a stroll round this ancient unspoilt 65 hectare area called Stanpit Marsh Nature Reserve. We start at the scout hut under the Elder Tree, and slowly go round identifing herbs and talk about their traditional and modern medicinal virtues, some of which are listed below.

Plantain – inflamed skin and eyes, burns, ringworm allergies
Clover – protective against cancerous growths (ext), psoriasis, eczema, lungs/whooping cough
Ragwort – stimulating/warming for rheumatics (externally only)
Daisy – pains/aches, inflamed liver, wounds
Ox-eye – whooping cough, asthma, nervous excitability
Dandelion – diuretic, kidney and liver stones/ tonic, cardiac diuretic, warts
Nettle – asthma, goitre, weight reducing, diabetes, anaemia, hair growth, arthritis (flagellation), alterative tonic
Teazle – cleansing, eyewash; root for warts, ulcers, fistulas
Dock – alterative, laxative; skin, piles, protective against cancer, psoriasis
Groundsel – diaphoretic, anti-scorbutic, purgative, diuretic; hot diseases
Gorse – insecticide (powdered), cardiac component; Bach Remedy for hopelessness, depression
Buttercup – herb tincture in wine for shingles; root for gout (ext), rubefacient for joint pain
Thistle – lactation, catarrh, pleurisy, protective against liver cancer, stones melancholy (use as Milk Thistle)
Watercress – anti-scorbutic, increases appetite
Chickweed – demulcent, skin/eczema, ulcers, piles, inflamed skin
Bugleweed – lowers thyroxin level, weak heart, cough, bleeding lungs, weak narcotic
Dropwort – (poison) pectoral problems, asthma, ulcers (ext), piles (use fuits)
Hemlock – (poison) eruptive skin, foul ulcers (poultice)
Elder – leaf: insecticide (ext), piles, purgative; flowers: eye/skin lotion, pulmonary action, colds/flu, catarrh, coughs; berry: sudorific (increases sweating), tonic
Horseradish – stimulating, aperient, rubefacient, diuretic, antiseptic, right heart failure (dropsy), stones, circulatory stimulant, expectorant (root)
Marshmallow and Common Mallow – coughs/colds; main use poultice for leg ulcers, lungs, internal ulcers, IBS, colitis
Hawthorn – heart remedy, circulation, cholesterol, blood pressure regulator
Watermint – IBS, colitis, digestive, anti-inflammatory
Blackberry – anaemia, tonic, constipation
Honeysuckle – headache, bronchitis, asthma
Pennywort – stones, earache, tinnitus
Silverweed – IBS, mouth ulcers, sore throat, bleeding (use like the American Cranesbill)
Willow herb – haemorrhages
Wild celery – arthritis, antiseptic diuretic, depression
Mayweed – relaxes, gentle sedative, digestive help, eyes, inflammations
Sea beet – blood cleanser, nutrient in convalescence
Yarrow – high blood pressure, colds/ flue, cystitis, thrombosis, wounds
Lupin – seeds: worms, bladder problems, emmenagogue, diabetes
Dog rose – high vitamin C, anti-depression, nervine, anger help
Meadowsweet – digestive, lowers stomach acid, ulcers, gastritis, arthritis
Fleabane – insecticide (powdered) (also used on dogs and cats), diarrhoea
Ground ivy – sinuses, cough, bronchitis, haemorrhage
Dead nettle – leucorrhoea, skin eruptions
Lesser celandine (Pilewort) – piles
Sea clubrush – insomnia, diuretic, sudorific
Yellow flag – cathartic, diarrhoea, leucorrhoea, snuff, toothache
Common meadow rue – purgative, laxative
Skullcap – tonic, nervine, anti-spasmodic, headaches, fits, epilepsy, insomnia, hydrophobia, hysteria
Sea lavender – astringent tonic, diarrhoea, gargle, piles, prolapse, eye problems
Burdock – alterative, diaphoretic, blood purifier, skin, boils, all skin problems, stones
Oak bark/galls – astringent, antiseptic, bleedings, diarrhoea, gargle for gums
Holly leaf – diaphoretic, catarrh, pleurisy, small pox, tonic (use as Mate tea)
Black horehound – anti-spasmodic, vermifuge (worms), nausea/vomiting (pregnancy sickness), sedative
Rowan tree berry – anti-scorbutic
Silver birch leaf – cystitis, diuretic
Guilder rose – cramps, high blood pressure, relaxant
Herb Robert – use as geranium, digestive
Yellow Melilot – cholesterol, circulatory system tonic
Fennel – digestive, flatus, colic
St John’s Wort – depression, stress, anxiety, anti-viral, AIDS

Herbactive home.

Go to Stanpit Marsh Web Site for more information.





Our herbal tonic medicines are carefully prepared on a personal and individual basis for your healing by medical herbalist Alan Hopking MA MNIMH FINEH.

Only whole herbs are used in our herbal medicines. Nothing else is added. If you have symptoms which you consider might be helped with herbal medicine please contact herbal practitioner Alan Hopking for a friendly confidential professional consultation. See terms and fees.

Once you have received your herbal prescription you can contact Alan Hopking at any time for more free advice (preferably by email). When you have completed your bottle of herbal medicine and if you want a repeat prescription you are requested to phone or email so that your progress can be assessed and adjustments made if necessary so that there is no break in your treatment. To order or re-order, click here.

MRCHM - see Alan Hopking's statement about renouncing his association with membership of this organisation

HERBACTIVE Centre of Herbal Medicine, England, UK. Freephone 0800 0834436

General advice to consumers on the use of herbal remedies from the Medicines Healthcare products Regulatory Agency

From the website of the Medicines Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (www.mhra.gov.uk) Department of Health, UK

• Remember that herbal remedies are medicines. As with any other medicine they are likely to have an effect on the body and should be used with care. • Herbal remedies may sometimes interact with other medicines. This makes it particularly important to tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking a herbal remedy with other medicines such as prescribed medicines (those provided through your doctor or dentist). • Treat with caution any suggestion that a herbal remedy is '100% safe' or is 'safe because it is natural'. Many plants, trees, fungi and algae can be poisonous to humans. It is worth remembering that many pharmaceuticals have been developed or derived from these sources because of the powerful compounds they contain. Any medicine, including herbal remedies, which have an effect on the body should be used with care. • Treat with caution any herbalist or other person who supplies herbal remedies if they are unwilling or unable to provide written information, in English, listing the ingredients of the herbal remedy they are providing. • If you are due to have a surgical operation you should always remember to tell your doctor about any herbal remedy that you are taking. • Anyone who has previously experienced any liver complaint, or any other serious health complaint is advised not to take any herbal remedy without speaking to their doctor first.


Pregnant/Breast-feeding mothers

Few conventional medicines have been established as safe to take during pregnancy and it is generally recognised that no medicine should be taken unless the benefit to the mother outweighs any possible risk to the foetus. This rule should also be applied to herbal medicinal products. However, herbal products are often promoted to the public as being “natural” and completely “safe” alternatives to conventional medicines. Some herbal ingredients that specifically should be avoided or used with caution during pregnancy. As with conventional medicines, no herbal products should be taken during pregnancy unless the benefit outweighs the potential risk.

Volatile Oils

Many herbs are traditionally reputed to be abortifacient and for some this reputation can be attributed to their volatile oil component.(6) A number of volatile oils are irritant to the genito-urinary tract if ingested and may induce uterine contractions. Herbs that contain irritant volatile oils include ground ivy, juniper, parsley, pennyroyal, sage, tansy and yarrow. Some of these oils contain the terpenoid constituent, thujone, which is known to be abortifacient. Pennyroyal oil also contains the hepatotoxic terpenoid constituent, pulegone. A case of liver failure in a woman who ingested pennyroyal oil as an abortifacient has been documented.


A stimulant or spasmolytic action on uterine muscle has been documented for some herbal ingredients including blue cohosh, burdock, fenugreek, golden seal, hawthorn, jamaica dogwood, motherwort, nettle, raspberry, and vervain. Herbal Teas Increased awareness of the harmful effects associated with excessive tea and coffee consumption has prompted many individuals to switch to herbal teas. Whilst some herbal teas may offer pleasant alternatives to tea and coffee, some contain pharmacologically active herbal ingredients, which may have unpredictable effects depending on the quantity of tea consumed and strength of the brew. Some herbal teas contain laxative herbal ingredients such as senna, frangula, and cascara. In general stimulant laxative preparations are not recommended during pregnancy and the use of unstandardised laxative preparations is particularly unsuitable. A case of hepatotoxicity in a newborn baby has been documented in which the mother consumed a herbal tea during pregnancy as an expectorant. Following analysis the herbal tea was reported to contain pyrrolizidine alkaloids which are known to be hepatotoxic.

Breast-feeding mothers

A drug substance taken by a breast-feeding mother presents a hazard if it is transferred to the breast milk in pharmacologically or toxicologically significant amounts. Limited information is available regarding the safety of conventional medicines taken during breast-feeding. Much less information exists for herbal ingredients, and generally the use of herbal remedies is not recommended during lactation.

Paediatric Use

Herbal remedies have traditionally been used to treat both adults and children. Herbal remedies may offer a milder alternative to some conventional medicines, although the suitability of a herbal remedy needs to be considered with respect to quality, safety and efficacy. Herbal remedies should be used with caution in children and medical advice should be sought if in doubt. Chamomile is a popular remedy used to treat teething pains in babies. However, chamomile is known to contain allergenic sesquiterpene lactones and should therefore be used with caution. The administration of herbal teas to children needs to be considered carefully and professional advice may be needed.

Perioperative use

The need for patients to discontinue herbal medicinal products prior to surgery has recently been proposed. The authors considered eight commonly used herbal medicinal products (echinacea, ephedra, garlic, ginkgo, ginseng, kava, St John’s Wort, valerian). On the evidence available they concluded that the potential existed for direct pharmacological effects, pharmacodynamic interactions and pharmacokinetic interactions. The need for physicians to have a clear understanding of the herbal medicinal products being used by patients and to take a detailed history was highlighted. The American Society of Anaesthesiologists (ASA) has advised patients to tell their doctor if they are taking herbal products before surgery and has reported that a number of anaesthesiologists have reported significant changes in heart rate or blood pressure in some patients who have been taking herbal medicinal products including St John’s Wort, ginkgo and ginseng. MCA is currently investigating a serious adverse reaction associated with the use of ginkgo prior to surgery. In this case, the patient who was undergoing hip replacement experienced uncontrolled bleeding thought to be related to the use of ginkgo.

From the website of the Medicines Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (www.mhra.gov.uk) Department of Health, UK


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