The Southsea herbalist who's fizzing with excitement
Budd's Herbal ApothecaryÂ sounds like something from the pages of Charles Dickens. Inside the traditional Victorian shop in Albert Road, Southsea, there are row upon row of wooden cabinets filled with large glassÂ jars holdingÂ herbs with weird and wonderful names such as slippery elm, colts foot and ashwaganda root.Â
Old-fashioned brown bottles are filled with nettle, St John's wort and avena sativa. There are teas, Himalayan salt, compounds, and soaps.
TheÂ smell of incense fills the air and theÂ overwhelming feeling is one of calm, as owner Wendy Budd greets customers and advisesÂ on herbal remedies forÂ ailments as diverse as pre-menstrual tension to IBS, anxiety and even eczema.Â
Wendy, 39, is a medical herbalist.Â She treats people, rather than the conditions, by working holistically and giving dietary advice as well as herbal remedies.Â Â
'˜At my school reunion they all said to me 'you were always weird!'Â laughs Wendy.Â Â '˜IÂ would make rose petal perfume in the garden as a little girl Â and I was always aware of herbal medicine and its power.Â
'˜As a teenager I'd save all my pocketÂ money to buy one essential oil a month and evenÂ as a 16-year-old I went to meditation group.'
It was always Wendy's dream to open an apothecary but the business was only made possible because of a legacy from her mother, Linda Kail, who died of liver failure just over seven years ago.
Wendy grew up in the shadow of her mother's alcoholism and would lose herself in creating potions and perfumes from plants and flowers.Â
And she thinks, in part, it was seeing the toll that alcohol took on her mother's well-being that drove her to embrace herbal medicine.Â
She says: '˜My dad brought me up from about the age of four. Although I would see my mum at weekends, my time with her was spent in the pub eating crisps and drinking coke.Â In my teenage years it was fun because she would let us drink alcohol. But I started to realiseÂ it wasn't normal.Â
'˜She went to rehabÂ and had periods off drink and I'd have my mum back. But it never lasted.Â
'˜My mum was the biggest lesson. I could easily have gone down the same path, I was definitelyÂ hedonistic. But seeing herÂ demise and how ill she was stopped that. It was a slowÂ and painful death. She had liver failure and her legs blew up like balloons. Even her toes hadÂ rolls of fat.Â
'˜People say the liver is strong and can regenerate itself but that'sÂ only up to a point. Once it's past that point there'sÂ no going back.'Â
It was an inheritance from her mother that enabled Wendy to open the apothecary.Â In a way, it is her legacy.Â
The business is flourishing, riding theÂ the crest of the wave in Southsea with vegan cafes andÂ healthfood shops dedicated to healthy living.
But it took a long time to get where she is. Wendy fell pregnant in the first year of a herbal medicine degree in London.Â She took two years out to spend with Rowan, now 17, before taking a leap of faith and going to the University of Preston.
Of that time, she says: '˜I knew I had to finish my degree. ItÂ was hell in Preston,Â it was really tough and rained constantly. It was grey and I didn't know anyone. It was a very lonely time but it was worth it.'
Back in Portsmouth she worked in pubsÂ before consulting in a local chemist as a herbalist, advising on weight loss, smoking and diabetes.
And even when she opened the shop times were tough. Often Wendy didn't have gas or electricity at home until she made enough in the shop to charge the meter key.
Rowan, now anÂ A-level student,Â works part-time at the apothecary and wholeheartedly believes in the power of herbal medicine. He has never had to have antibiotics.
He says: '˜When I was littleÂ my mum made me a compound formulaÂ called Deep Green which got rid of my growing pains when my doctor couldn't help.Â I'm really proud of mum and what she has achieved.'
WithÂ the apothecary now thrivingÂ Wendy has launched her own blend of the ancient Japanese herbal drink kombucha, The Mighty Bucha.Â
The sweet fermented black and green tea concoction has been drunk for its health benefits '“Â including improved digestion and energy levels '“ for 2,000 years.
Wendy adds: '˜When I first got the shop it was in such a state but I could envision all the herbs in jars, how it would look, but the reality is even better.Â We've been going from strength to strength ever since.'
Go toÂ buddsherbalmedicine.co.uk.
What is kombucha and what does it do?Â
Kombucha isÂ sweetened green or black teaÂ fermented with a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast,Â known as a scoby.
During the fermentation processÂ the yeast in the scoby breaks down the sugar in the tea and releases probiotic (good) bacteria. It becomes carbonated after fermentation.
Records of kombucha goÂ back 2,000 years ago.Â
It is drunk around the world because it is believed to be good for digestion and balancing internal bacteria and is said to boost the immune system, easeÂ constipation and diarrhoea, reduceÂ acid reflux,Â IBS and heartburn.Â
Kombucha is promoted asÂ an alternative to high street energy drinks and used by athletes. It contains B12 vitamin,Â pro-biotics,Â anti-oxidantsÂ and is believed to increaseÂ vitality.Â
But there has never been a major study on its effect on humans, and pregnant women should not drink it. It can also cause side effects.Â
The Mighty BuchaÂ comes in two flavours '“Â ginko, ginseng and sarsaparillo, and green coffee and greenÂ tea.Â It is priced at Â£2.79 for 250ml andÂ Â£7.99 for one litre. Pick up a bottle fromÂ Budd's Herbal Apothecary, Wild Thyme andÂ Hunter Gatherer.Â