The North London Botantics
Take inspiration from a different type of living, the art of foraging and how to to start from your own back yard.
When I first met Yayoi, I was humbled by the thinking and thought process behind her products, her respect for nature and and her belief in its power and ability to treat injuries both internal and external. Her background as a nurse and as a herbalist has provided her with a grounded understanding of how modern medicine works but interestingly why she is now turning to the wonders of plants to help both physical and mental wellbeing.
I asked if she would mind taking me on her next forage in the urban jungle of London, and it was honestly such an eye opener the care she took when picking - being careful not to rip the plant, or squeeze it to much, her understanding of when to avoid picking, when to respect nature and not to disturb its surroundings showed me a different way to living and perhaps a different approach to life. I felt transported to a time when this type of knowledge would have been commonplace once upon a time but today feels a like lost art form. In this interview with her below I wanted to share with you some simple tips to pick your own herbs with just a little bit of know how.
Tell us about who you are what you do?
I'm Yayoi Takagi. I'm a medical herbalist. (Member of NIMH: the National Institute of Medical Herbalists)
What did you do before? What made you want to become a herbalist?
I am a registered nurse in Japan. when I worked for the hospital, I've hit a plateau, kind of the dilemma: examples of which was giving painkillers (NSAIDs) to a patient who suffered headaches, but as that painkillers have strong side effects like an irritated stomach, so I had to give another medicine for preventing the side effects of that painkillers, and of course this felt like I was going in circles. Patients sometimes needed to take more than 10 medicines in every meal because of that.
These kinds of dilemma made question working a nurse,& also other thoughts: how much conventional medicine really helps human beings' health? Or am I doing the right thing for patients??
This dilemma made me weak both in mentally and physically, around that time, I discovered alternative medicine (CAM) and I got into it gradually. It was so fascinating because it balances up the human body, not like targeted treatment like the conventional medicine. So I decided to study herbal medicine in the UK.
What do you want to achieve as a herbalist?
Simple healthy life for everyone. Take care of people by using herbs that we can pick locally, and appreciate nature.
Tell us what you love about herb picking?
I like feeling the seasons by picking herbs, I now know that in the uk the four seasons are slightly different from Japan. And flowering times are also different. I enjoy learning these differences and how English people used these herbs in the past and how people in Japan use plants. I hope I can bring little tips about herbs or other plants which I know because I'm a Japanese.
When is the best time for herb picking
Spring time when the all plants start growing sprouts. But if the roots are needed, then winter time, just before spring time when a plant stores all its energy in the roots in order to grow healthy sprouts.
What should we be mindful of if we wanted to pick herbs ourselves
Correct plant identification & and pick only sustainably what you will use,
What's your top 3 tips for going herb picking
Wear long sleeves, trainers with socks to cover your feet & legs. And separate bags to put different herbs. Try not to squeeze them.
Can you give us an easy recipe for herbs you can find in your backyard?
Fresh Dandelion tea: wash the root and cut into pieces. Bring water to boil, put the dandelion root pieces into the water and boil for 1-2 mins, then turn off the heat and cover the pot. leave the pot for 30-40 min to infuse the tea & reduce any bitterness.
pour the tea into your cup and enjoy!
You can put dandelion leafs as well. Just add them in after turning off the heat, then cover the pot.
What is this recipe good for?
Dandelion root is a great coffee substitute as its caffeine free & is very good for the digestive system. it has antimicrobial properties.
Dandelion leaf has diuretic properties and lots of vitamins as well as minerals which we need.