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Posted by portugaldailynews on November 19, 2013
Daisy Mae under one of Ceratonia’s signature carobs
Introducing Ceratonia, the Algarve’s new centre for herbal medicine
Learn about medicinal plants with Fernanda Botelho
Introducing Ceratonia, the Algarve’s new centre for herbal medicine
The Algoz stall of Kerstin Botter
Introducing Ceratonia, the Algarve’s new centre for herbal medicine
Introducing Ceratonia, the Algarve’s new centre for herbal medicine

It’s a brave new project that promises to keep centuries’ old herbal knowledge alive, and inspire people at the same time. And it comes less than three years after Europe was rocked by news that thousands of medicinal herbs used as everyday remedies were to be effectively ‘outlawed’ via EC Directive 2004/24/EU.

So what happened? People happened … It doesn’t seem to matter what regulations come down from power-makers on high, people seem to find a way around them.

In Portugal, suppliers resourcefully started relabelling medicinal remedies as “food supplements” months before the directive came into effect, and herbalists everywhere have joined forces.

Workshops by the locally famous Fernanda Botelho receive ever more participants. Next month in Tavira, Monte Mariposa will be hosting the 5th Medicinal Plant weekend (December 7 and 8) – designed to pass knowledge on to all-comers – and almost everywhere you look, herbal teas are still sold in plentiful supply.

The only downside of the new directive seems to be in the way herbs are packaged.

Tea producer Kerstin Botter, who has an extraordinary range of medicinal teas which she produces from her farm near Silves, told us recently that health and standards authority ASAE has forbidden her from saying on her packages what the teas can be used for.

“But they cannot forbid me from speaking!” she said from the stall she runs in Algoz monthly market, from which she speaks vociferously.

And now, the Algarve has another voice – one with the perfect name for a herbalist: Daisy Mae, newly arrived from 10 years of herbal practice in Scotland.

Daisy Mae’s lifelong dream has been for a healing centre set in gardens full of medicinal herbs. She has the land – eight rural acres rolling gently down to a river near Messines – and she is now busily getting it ready, while running what she calls a Cyber Clinic online.

“As a child, I used to say ‘I will live in the forest and people will just come’, she tells us with a smile. “But the reality is that I am 15 minutes from Tunes railway station, 45 minutes drive from the airport and available for Skype consultations. It’s more practical this way.”

Ceratonia – the name given to Daisy’s project – is the Latin name for carob tree, of which there are numerous gnarled and ancient examples in evidence.

“Carob is high in magnesium and highly nutritious. Tea made from carob is excellent for upset stomachs, although I use it mainly as a flower remedy,” says Daisy.

“There is a huge variety of medicinal plants growing wild on the land already. Nettle, dandelion, castor oil, cramp bark – endless ‘old friends’ that I know from UK, and then there are others that are particular to this kind of climate. Wonderful plants like lavender, which grow in abundance.”

The plan is for various healing gardens and groves – “a place for people to come and heal, and somewhere also for practitioners to come and host workshops and courses”.

“Herbs inspire and empower people,” Daisy explains. “My patients are always saying how much better they feel, how different they feel, as result of our consultations – and I have to tell them, it isn’t me, it is the herbs.”
Full of ideas, Daisy is keen to hear from volunteers who would like a working holiday – helping her get her centre ready while learning at the same time.

There is a long list of jobs to be done, ranging from basic pruning and tidying, to building dry stone walls and making pergolas.

Stonemasonry will be taught by a visiting stonemason in February, and all volunteers will be offered basic food and accommodation as they help and learn.

“It could be a wonderful opportunity for people,” Daisy tells us – particularly as the centre will use traditional growing methods, incorporating principles of permaculture and companion gardening (which involves the use of plants that attract the kind of bugs that fend off predators). “Anyone coming to help would learn a variety of skills – including even basic building – which would all help in their own lives.

“And meantime, I am open for consultations, here at Ceratonia,” she concluded.

By Natasha Donn
Anyone wishing to learn more can get in touch with Daisy via email or telephone. | 961 774 537 |


Introducing Ceratonia, the Algarve’s new centre for herbal medicine