Mobile Apothecary

About us

The Mobile Apothecary is a growing network of talented volunteers spanning the areas of arts, herbalism, and horticulture/growing. Since April 2019, we have been bringing people together to collectively learn about medicinal plants and create herbal medicine for distribution to fellow community members facing barriers to health, food, and shelter. We run monthly pay-it-forward harvesting and medicine-making workshops at Phytology and distribution sessions outside of the Bethnal Green Underground Station, alongside Refugee Community Kitchen (RCK).

What we’re raising funds for

Given the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve had to pause the community workshops and the monthly Mobile Apothecary service outside of Bethnal Green Underground Station. Instead, we’ve pivoted to creating packages of flu support remedies from our remaining stock for people to collect alongside RCK’s food packages, adhering to physical distancing and other risk mitigation measures. Increasing our service to serve next to RCK’s weekly distribution at both Bethnal Green Underground Station and Hackney Town Hall for the past few weeks, we have quickly run out of stock.

So we are fundraising to continue this work for as long as needed, collaborating with local services delivering food and other essentials. During the COVID-19 crisis, we’re focusing on producing the herbal remedies with antiviral and immunity enhancing qualities to distribute in packed bundles (details below). Donations will go toward obtaining ingredients, containers, printing labels, and other materials entailed in production and distribution.

To continue distribution throughout 2020, we need to create 2,000 packs (~£5,500), and would appreciate any amount to help make this happen.

£2.75 - 1 pack

£5.50 - 5 packs

£8.25 - 10 packs

Pack details

B.R.A.V.E. (Botanical Respiratory Anti-Viral Elixir) - is a tonic concocted by the brilliant Herbalista project. This elixir includes herbs that support the respiratory system and protect from viral infection, which are infused in vegetable glycerine to make a remedy useful both as a preventative and during illness. The main antiviral herb is Elderberry (also the main herb in Immune Boost), and herbs such as Marshmallow, Thyme, and Yarrow, among others, add a range of soothing, anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory action (1 - 5).

Immune Boost - This tonic is based on Elderberry and Apple Cider Vinegar, both of which have antimicrobial properties. Elderberry has traditionally been used to help reduce severity and length of cold or flu. Several studies have provided evidence supporting this effect, and in vitro studies have shown that it works by inhibiting viral entry into and replication in human cells (6, 7). Apple Cider Vinegar has been used for thousands of years for its multifaceted healing properties, and recent studies have shown its effectiveness against specific pathogenic bacteria and fungi (8).

Decongestant Chest Rub – This chest rub is based on the following antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and soothing herbs, some of which are also aromatic, helping to alleviate congestion both through both the skin and inhalation: Bay, Marshmallow Leaf, Ribwort Plantain, Menthol, Eucalyptus, Rosemary (9-15).

Hand Sanitiser - This sanitiser is a simple, effective, and gentle botanical formula featuring Calendula Tincture, accompanied by a subtle blend of Tea Tree and Lavender Essential Oils. We use a 90% Calendula flower (alcohol) tincture for the resin which has anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties and reinforces the antibacterial action of alcohol (16). Lavender and Tea Tree Essential Oils, both known to be effective against specific microbial pathogens, further boost the antimicrobial action, and Lavender also provides a calming fragrance (17, 18).

Zinc - Zinc has been shown to reduce the length of a common cold if supplementation is started within 24 hours of the onset of symptoms (19).

Thank you

Thanks so much for being a part of the Mobile Apothecary community and for strengthening our solidarity work! Our presence and the herbal flu support packages have been immensely appreciated by users, and it’s important to continue to show up and distribute these to the extent possible. For those who may not have a fixed accommodation, are staying in crowded shelters, or are in other situations of extreme vulnerability, the care transmitted through showing up with herbal support is even more valuable during this unprecedented, but necessary, restriction of people in public spaces. Your help is allowing us to continue, and we’re very grateful for your support.


1) Deters, A., Zippel, J., Hellenbrand, N., Pappai, D., Possemeyer, C., & Hensel, A. (2010). Aqueous extracts and polysaccharides from Marshmallow roots (Althea officinalis L.): Cellular internalisation and stimulation of cell physiology of human epithelial cells in vitro. Journal of ethnopharmacology, 127(1), 62-69.

2) Benbassat, N., Kostova, B., Nikolova, I., & Rachev, D. (2013). Development and evaluation of novel lozenges containing marshmallow root extract. Pakistan Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, 26, 1103-1107. Retrieved from

3) Zarei, B., Saifi, T., Fazeli, A., Khodadadi, E., & Namavar, A. (2013). Evaluation of Antibacterial effects of marshmallow (Althaea officinalis) on four strains of bacteria. International Journal of Agriculture and Crop Sciences, 5(14), 1571. Retrieved from

4) Kemmerich, B. (2007). Evaluation of efficacy and tolerability of a fixed combination of dry extracts of thyme herb and primrose root in adults suffering from acute bronchitis with productive cough. A prospective, double-blind, placebo-controlled multicentre clinical trial. Arzneimittel-Forschung, 57, 607-15.

5) Saeidnia, S., Gohari, A., Mokhber-Dezfuli, N., & Kiuchi, F. (2011). A review on phytochemistry and medicinal properties of the genus Achillea. Daru: Journal of Faculty of Pharmacy, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, 19(3), 173–186. Retrieved from

6) Barak, V., Halperin, T., Kalickman, I. (2001) The effect of Sambucol, a black elderberry-based, natural product, on the production of human cytokines: I. Inflammatory cytokines. European Cytokine Network, 12(2), 290-6 . Retrieved from

7) Zakay-Rones, Z., Thom, E., Wollan, T., Wadstein. (2004) Randomized study of the efficacy and safety of oral elderberry extract in the treatment of influenza A and B virus infections. Journal of International Medical Research, 32(2), 132-40. Retrieved from

8) Yagnik, D., Serafin, V., & J Shah, A. (2018). Antimicrobial activity of apple cider vinegar against Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus and Candida albicans; downregulating cytokine and microbial protein expression. Scientific reports, 8(1), 1732. Retrieved from

9) Algabri, S. O., Doro B. M., Abadi, A. M., Shiba, M. A., Salem, A. H. (2018) Bay Leaves have Antimicrobial and Antioxidant Activities. J Pathogen Res 1(1), 3. Retrieved from

10) Batool, S., Rasheed, A. K., Muhammad, A. H., Muhammad, A. A. (2020). Bay Leaf. In M. A. Hanif, H. Nawaz, M.M. Khan, H.J. Byrne (Eds), Medicinal Plants of South Asia - Novel sources for drug discovery. Retrieved from

11) Ali Shah, S., Naveed, A., Akram, M., Shah, P., Saeed, T., Ahmad, K., Asif, M. (2011). Pharmacological activity of Althaea officinalis L. Journal of Medicinal Plant Research, 5, 5662-5666. Retrieved from

12) Muhammad, B. A., Muhammad, T., Muhammad, F. A., Mohamad, S.A., Muhammad, B.A.K, Mohd, S., Pinaki, S., Deny, S. (2017). Chemical constituents and medical benefits of Plantago major. Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy, 96, 348-360.

13) Kamatou, G. P. P., Alvaro, I. V., Viljoen, M., Lawrence, M. B. (2013). Menthol: A simple monoterpene with remarkable biological properties. Phytochemistry 96, 15-25. Retrieved from

14) Bachir, R. (2017). Antimicrobial activity of Eucalyptus globulus oils. In A. Méndez-Vilas (Ed), Antimicrobial research: Novel bioknowledge and educational programs. Retrieved from

15) Nieto, G., Ros, G., & Castillo, J. (2018). Antioxidant and Antimicrobial Properties of Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis, L.): A Review. Medicines (Basel, Switzerland), 5(3), 98. Retrieved from

16) Efstratiou, E., Hussain, A.I., Nigam, P. S., Moore, J.E., Ayub, M. A., Rao, J. R. (2012). Antimicrobial activity of Calendula officinalis petal extracts against fungi, as well as Gram-negative and Gram-positive clinical pathogens. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice 18(3), 173-176. Retrieved from

17) Puškárová, A., Bučková, M., Kraková, L. et al. (2017). The antibacterial and antifungal activity of six essential oils and their cyto/genotoxicity to human HEL 12469 cells. Scientific Reports 7, 8211. Retrieved from

18) Carson, C. F., Hammer, K. A., & Riley, T. V. (2006). Melaleuca alternifolia (Tea Tree) oil: a review of antimicrobial and other medicinal properties. Clinical microbiology reviews, 19(1), 50–62. Retrieved from

19) Rao, G., & Rowland, K. (2011). Zinc for the common cold--not if, but when. The Journal of family practice, 60(11), 669–671. Retrieved from

The Mobile Apothecary would like to thank Company Drinks, Liquidsun & Baldwins for their generous support.

©2023 Bethnal Green Nature Reserve Trust