The Scottish Hedgewitch: time for a spring detox

By Pamela Spence

A detox plan may seem like a modern phenomenon but, actually, we've been trying to clean up our act for centuries. Spring is traditionally the time when we step away from the stodgy food of the winter and the warmth of the fire and get out more. In Scotland past, if you had the money to treat yourself to the latest cures, you might have found yourself paying for a session of blood-letting or taking all manner of purging pills and potions, designed for a more drastic clear-out!

The common Scots folk had their own ways – and although they may have lacked the cash to splash on the latest city trends, they would simply have picked the first spring greens to grace the countryside. One of the most important of these is the humble stinging nettle. Often used as a potherb, nowadays nettle is making a resurgence as a herbal tea of choice and nettle soup remains a healthy springtime treat for the more adventurous.

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The Scottish Hedgewitch

Pamela Spence, medical herbalist, shows us traditional ways of using Scottish plants as food and medicine. BBC World Affairs Correspondent Allan Little describes some of the key moments from his career and answer questions about what it is like to report the world in an age of conflict. Bill Boyd reads his poem Hogmanay, written in the style of Robert Burns.

Wild garlic is another delicious spring green. Just follow your nose when you smell garlic strongly in the woodland. The broad leaves can be picked and used in place of bulb garlic when cooking. Wild garlic has many of the same health benefits as its more commonly used cousin. There are many delicious recipes available but I love to make a wicked wild garlic pesto that tastes fantastic with pasta or as a topping for baked fish.

Wild garlic pesto

Wild garlic in Scotland
Wild garlic

If you fancy trying a home detox this spring, you don't need to worry about the gruesome treatments of bloodletting and purging and you don't need a lot of cash. Just take some simple steps to tidy up your diet and get ready to face the new season.

Firstly, are you drinking enough? It is generally recommended that adults try to drink an average of two litres of water. Water is essential to the detox process and it helps your body flush out unwanted toxins. It also hydrates your skin making it look healthier and may reduce dark circles under your eyes. Sufficient water can help you feel more alert and is also important to keep your digestion running smoothly.

Dry body-brushing is another great way to get skin looking fresher. Before your shower use long, gentle strokes working from your feet, up your legs and trunk and along your arms – always brushing towards the heart. This simple step will help slough off dead skin cells and encourage circulation leaving skin smoother and ready to emerge from under woolly pullovers! Make your own herbal detox body oil by adding a few drops of cleansing essential oils to a base oil to help get skin in great shape.

Spring detox body oil

Spring detox body oil
Spring detox body oil

100mls Sweet Almond oil;
5 drops each of Rosemary, Lemon and Black Pepper essential oils;
Mix well and apply after showering.

Note: Rosemary essential oil should not be used by those with epilepsy or high blood pressure.

As the temperature begins to rise a little, make sure you increase your intake of fresh fruit and vegetables and start to leave behind the stodgy comfort foods of winter. Eating fresh fruit and vegetables not only delivers the vitamins and minerals vital to health, but also helps to rehydrate your body.

All these changes will help you to start shedding those extra winter pounds. Help get your spring detox off to an even better start by going outside for a few brisk walks. Feel your energy levels rise as you take on the new season!


All content within this article is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. The BBC is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made by a user based on the content of this article. The BBC is not liable for the contents of any external internet sites listed, nor does it endorse any commercial product or service mentioned or advised on any of the sites. See our Links Policy for more information. Always consult your own GP if you're in any way concerned about your health.

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