Herb for Heroes and Hajduks

Achilles, an almost invincible hero of the Trojan War, owed his immortality to his mother Thetis, a nereid – a sea nymph – who regularly dipped him in the river Styx; however, he was left vulnerable in one part of the body – that by which his mother held him while dipping him in the river: his left heel which never touched the sacred waters of the river Styx. Thetis also used other methods in an attempt to strengthen her son. Some unorthodox methods which were opposed by her husband Peleus involved Thetis anointing the boy in ambrosia and holding him over a fire in order to burn away the mortal parts of his body. After she had been stopped by Peleus, she abandoned both her husband and her son in a rage and returned the the depths of the sea.

Peleus entrusted the upbringing of Achilles to Chiron the Centaur who achieved a feat that even modern medicine would be envious of – he carried out the first transplantation. He implanted the bone of the giant Damiso, a famous runner, in Achilles leg, thus making Achilles an extraordinary runner. Achilles had all the advantages of the most modern education of the time: his diet consisted of the intestines of lions and wild boar (so that he should become strong) and honey to make him sweet and eloquent. In effect, Achilles had all the advantages of the traditional medicine of the period.  

As the Greek fleet gathered in Aulis, Achilles mother gave him Hephaestus weapons, a divine horse and the slave Mnemon. Legend has it that the Greek army first reached Mysia on its way to Troy. Convinced that they had arrived in Troy, they set out to ravage the city, until Telephus, the son of Heracles, appeared. After Telephus had stumbled on a vine, Achilles struck him in the thigh with a spear.  

After many adventures Telephus and Achilles met in Greece again. Telephus’ wound was not healing and – as he leant from the oracle – it could be healed only by the person who inflicted it. Therefore Telephus donned beggar’s clothes and went searching for Achilles. In Aulis, he managed to get medical help thanks to his cunning: he promised the Greek army to show them the way to Troy if Achilles healed his wound.

A version of the story says that Achilles scraped pieces of his spear onto Telephus’ wound, which miraculously healed. According to another version, he used herbal medicine – he applied yarrow to Telephus wound. We all probably know how Achilles ended his life and how his heal became legendary, but that is not all. In year 1753 his healing powers inspired Carl Linnaeus to name a very special plant by Achilles’ name. That is how yarrow was given its scientific name Achillea millefolium. 

Many heroes’ wounds were healed by this herb.  In our region it became legendary thanks to hajduks (legendary anti-Ottoman freedom fighters and highway brigands in West Balkans), who are fated to have carried it on themselves, just in case. Centuries have passed, but yarrow (in Serbian called hajdučka trava /hajduks’s herbs/) does not cease to fascinate. It has a beneficial effect on the liver and kidneys, the reproductive system, digestive organs, the nervous system, and circulation; it lowers blood sugar, relieves the symptoms of the flu and colds, regulates blood pressure and cures haemorrhoids. As Achilles and hajduks have known for centuries, it can stop bleeding and can promote wound healing. 

Yarrow has a very good reason to be one of the ingredients used in Femisan A and B. Thanks to achilleine and tannin this precious plant soothes lengthy and heavy bleeding and has a positive effect on the hormonal balance. With its soothing effect on the nervous system it calms its oversensitivity in perimenopause and menopause, and after the onset of menopause it has a positive  effect on the cardiovascular system by preventing diabetes and strengthening immunity. 

Myths a legends are one thing but reality is something completely different. We all know that women are in effect the biggest silent heroes. That is why this heroes’ herb is here to ease their way through many heroic deeds – both those experienced on a daily basis, but also some momentous events in one’s life. 

The protector of women

The first description of lady’s mantle dates back to 1539, when the German botanist and physician Hieronymus Bock, known also by his Latin name Tragus, kicked off the process of modernisation of medieval botany. Bock laid the foundations of modern science with his catalogue of 700 plants based on observation and detailed description. Kreutterbuch, literally translated as the “plant book”, first appeared unillustrated. In the following 1546 edition it contained excellent drawings by the artist David Kandel. This particular book later served as a basis for Carl Linnaeus’ bionomial nomenclature, the modern system of naming organisms.

Bock knew well where each plant grew, which shows that he must have travelled a lot researching vegetation in the field. It is not an accident that a German scientist classified lady’s mantle in his book as a very important and useful plant; the plant was highly respected by the ancient German tribes and devoted to Frigg, the goddess of beauty and fertility.

Lady’s mantle was given its scientific name Alchemilla vulgaris thanks to alchemists’ belief that dew on its leaves could lead them to philosopher’s stone which has the ability to transform base metals into gold. Lady’s mantle is a pretty plant on whose leaves one can see droplets shining like little pearls throughout the day. Probably it was its beauty that first attracted our ancestors who soon realised that lady’s mantle’s biggest value were its medicinal properties. Women were particularly convinced of that.

 

Lady’s mantle can be found all over our hilly Balkan peninsula and has been used in folk medicine since time immemorial. Apart from helping with stomach upsets and diarrhoea, it helps to heal wounds and calm skin infections. It is most useful to women. Its precious ingredients – tannins, bitter glycosides, flavonoids, phytosterols, salicylic acid, saponins, ethereal oil – have anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties.

This natural hormone balancer helps with irregular or heavy periods, cysts, polycystic ovaries, uterine fibroids, endometriosis, but is also known to ease labour pain, speed up wound healing and recovery after childbirth. Tannins and astringents prevent increased bleeding and lessen period pains. With its anti-fungal properties it can help fight fungus and bacterial vaginitis; thanks to its power to prevent bacterial growth, some experience shows that it helps even to fight staphylococcus. Research has shown that lady’s mantle is useful in treating conditions caused by the human papillomavirus and that its ingredient agrimoniin prevents breast cancer.

A legend has it that women used to believe that dew droplets from lady’s mantle leaves can help them remain forever young. But the ritual was not simple: at midnight, only on the nights when the Moon is full, fully naked, they would have to dip their small toe in the dew on lady’s mantle. Today we know that we do not have to be naked and wait for midnight, but lady’s mantle can certainly help us remain young for longer: in addition to using its leaves to treat skin conditions, it is excellent in reducing wrinkles and age spots. But the biggest aesthetic benefit is that lady’s mantle can enable us to maintain a good hormonal balance and thus remove the unwanted symptoms of such imbalance: obesity, acne, greasy skin, increased hairiness. And when the menopause time comes it can reduce its symptoms too.

 

Youthfulness and the future generations can be helped by lady’s mantle: this plant, in addition to its other beneficial properties, helps women with sterility issues. It is not by accident that lady’s mantle was devoted to Frigg, the goddess of fertility, and later in the Middle Ages, to Virgin Mary, our Lady, whose mantle or protector it was. Once upon a time women used to pick lady’s mantle and kept it in vases at home to increase femininity and attract love. Today we know that lady’s mantle increases the growth of progesterone, normalises the levels of hormones, strengthens the endometrium – the uterine lining, stimulates the ovaries and ovulation, and thus not only increases fertility but also ensures that pregnancy is free from complications and does not result in a miscarriage.

Lady’s mantle can be used on its own, but it is best used in combination with other herbs, such as yarrow, marigold, herb robert, shepherd’s purse and parsley. Nowadays we do not have to go in search of these herbs because they can already be found in their clearest and most usable form and perfect proportions in the completely natural preparation in our pharmacies. Femisan A, “cloaked in lady’s mantle” has been a woman’s best friend for two decades.

Thrown off the Track by Hormones

Do you suffer from acne, memory fog, chronic fatigue, depression, anxiety or sleep disorder? Do you often feel frustrated, extremely emotional and find it difficult to stop binge eating? Do you have tension headaches, IBS, sudden weight gain and experience extreme flatulence? Is loss of libido ruining your relationship or marriage?

Do you know that all of these symptoms and conditions can be caused by hormonal imbalance? Our modern way of living made us drift too far away from nature. We often use medications, we are swamped with toxic plastic and polluted air, we give in to unhealthy diet rich in fats, sugars and meat full of steroids and antibiotics, we sit for too long, we don’t get enough sunshine, and we are on the Pill. As a consequence, we are witnesses of an epidemic of hormonal imbalance among women all around the world.

It may take a while before we realize that the symptoms we have been having are caused by hormonal imbalance. Apart from the reproductive system, it can harm the thyroid, the bones and muscles, the heart and veins and it can increase risk of tumors. When it hits the uterus and ovaries, apart from the above mentioned conditions, it can also cause:

·         irregular or missed periods
·         trouble in conceiving
·         PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome)
·         ovarian cysts
·         cervical lesions
·         endometriosis
·         uterine fibroids
·         pre-menstrual symptoms
·         menstrual cramps and excessive bleeding during periods
·         fibrocystic breasts.
Once we get thrown off the track, going back is not easy. We are grateful to modern medicine for all the advances in various treatments of serious diseases, but when it comes to the hormones, apart from the synthetic substitutes, it does not have much to offer. Since the problem is caused by our drifting away from the nature, the solution, logically, would be to get closer to it once again.

Throughout history, women sought help in green fields and woods. There is a vast traditional knowledge that cannot be denied even by modern science. Certain herbs help, and clinical trials have confirmed that the traditional beliefs are well founded.

Lady’s mantle has been used for ages for female ailments and infertility. It contains tannins which have a strong astringent effect, thus preventing heavy bleeding, which explains why women with heavy, painful menstruations and uterine fibroids find it helpful. Studies proved that lady’s mantle is an efficient tumor inhibitor. Its effect on gastrointestinal disorders has also been proven.

Yarrow, known since ancient times, is known to alleviate cramps and pain, especially in the lower pelvic region. Its flavonoids have a spasmolytic effect, while pro-azulene soothes inflammations. It is an excellent remedy for painful periods.

Marigold can heal wounds, reduce inflammation, kill microbes and parasites and is an excellent diuretic. It prevents water retention during the pre-menstrual phase, and is a potent healer of uterine wounds, cysts and fibroids. Marigold is also used for dysmenorrhea.

Crane’s bill is another very potent herb and healer of wounds, it regulates blood circulation and works as a mild sedative. It is a strong antioxidant which prevents infections and boosts the immunity. It also contains tannins which prevent heavy bleeding.

Golden maca has been used for over two millennia in traditional medicine of the Andes as an adaptogenic herb, helping the body to adapt to harsh environmental conditions, increasing stamina and endurance. It balances hormones and has a very beneficial overall effect, both on the body and mind. It eliminates depression and brain fog, and is particularly useful in stopping the pre-menstrual energy and mood roller-coaster. Its alkaloids work against infertility.

Shepherd’s purse can regulate uterine contraction, blood flow and balance menstrual bleeding. It heals wounds and burns and is also very beneficial for the heart.

These six medicinal herbs, together with zinc which is a potent essential element and antioxidant, are assembled in Femisan A in well-studied doses, aiming to help women from the moment they enter puberty, till the menopause. Femisan A, the potent protector of women, brings us closer to nature.