Wildly Beautiful Dog Rose (Rosa canina)

On a recent forage I saw the beautiful pink roses of the dog rose. Foraging while it was pouring with rain didn’t make me appreciate them any less. In fact the clear fresh air that comes with a downpour feels invigorating.

The flowers are seen in May and June and can be found in hedgerows, scrubland and the edges of woodland. 

Picking the petals I chose those which were about to fall to the ground anyway. The Woodland Trust also advises that it is best to pick them as they begin to drop.

If you are new to foraging take a look at my “Foraging Tips for Beginners” post;

http://theforagingherbalist.com/foraging-tips-for-beginners/

Other Names for the Dog Rose

Some say that the dog rose got its name because the rose’s root was once thought to cure rabies. Other names include;

  • Wild rose because it grows in the wild.
  • Briar rose maybe because of the Brothers Grimm story of Sleeping Beauty, also known as Briar Rose. King’s sons came from far and wide to the castle where she lay asleep, but they could not get through the thorny hedge to reach her.  Therefore she was also named Briar Rose because Sleeping Beauty was the rose among the thorns.
  • Hip-Rose because of the rosehip fruit that the dog rose produces which is harvested in autumn.

 

 

Eating  Rose Petals

There are various ways to enjoy eating rose petals which include;

  • Adding them in soups, salads and meat dishes.
  • Turkish delight – You are probably aware that rose is a Turkish delight flavour and one which I enjoyed very much as a child. I always loved my Christmas treat of rose and lemon Turkish delight.
  • Many desserts which are made with rose water such as meringues, crystalised rose petals and rose flavoured Panna Cotta.
  • Having a slightly fruity flavour which makes them good for jams, jellies and syrups.
  • Rose infused vinegar – I infuse cider vinegar with the rose hips too.

Take a look at my “Rose Hips in January” post to see what you can do with the rose hips later in the year;

http://theforagingherbalist.com/rose-hips-in-january-foraging/

Support for the Body

Wild rose petals are a great source of vitamin C and may also support the body in various ways including;

  • Having anti-inflammatory properties and these reduce the heat of inflamed skin.
  • Cardioactive and in the past herbalists would favour the rose petals to strengthen the heart and spirit.
  • As a mild sedative they may relieve insomnia, soothe the nerves and lift depression.
  • The petals have a astringent effect because of their high tannin levels which reduce bleeding. This means that they may be helpful as a menstrual regulator which reduces uterine pain and cramps.
  • Having anti-viral properties.
  • Supporting the immune system.
  • As a aphrodisiac for low libidos and impotence.

Make rose water with the petals and then use the water as a mouthwash, gargle and a lotion for inflamed eyes. The rose water can also be used as a douche for vaginal irritation and dryness.

Making Rose Petal Glycerite

After tasting the delicate but sweet dog rose petals I had a think about what to do with the rest. Reading a lot of articles about making rose petal glycerite I combined the processes which felt right to me.

The process I use is;

  1. Wash the petals and place them in a jug.
  2. Add 60% vegetable glycerine to 40% bottled water covering the petals.
  3. Place the mixture into a blender and blend for a few seconds.
  4. Pour the mixture into a glass jar and screw on the lid.
  5. Store in a dark cupboard and shake briefly but thoroughly every few days.
  6. In 2-6 weeks time when the petals have lost their colour strain the liquid into a clean jar using a conical funnel and cheesecloth. Make sure you strain out all of the precious liquid.
  7. Discard the rose petals.
  8. Label with preparation name, preparation date, expiry date, ingredients and uses. If using clear bottles ensure the glycerite is kept in a dark cupboard away from daylight.

Using glycerine is a good alternative if you don’t want to make a tincture with alcohol.

Uses of Rose Petal Glycerite

Possible areas for support include;

  • Sore throats and viral infections
  • Menopause
  • Loneliness

Standard doses are 1 teaspoon 3 times a day.

The glycerite can even be mixed with equal parts of water and be used as a face toner for dry skin.

 

Rose Pure Essential Oil

The sedative effects of rose pure essential oil may support the mind and body with regards to;

  • Bringing forth a sense of spiritual connection
  • Constipation
  • Depression and emotional wounds
  • Headaches
  • Irregular menstruation
  • Insomnia because psychological studies indicate that rose can lead to sweeter dreams.
  • Nausea
  • Nervous tension

Caution

Avoid use of this oil during pregnancy because it is an emmenagogue. Hence it is a substance that stimulates or increases menstrual flow.

Bach Flowers Remedies

Bach flower remedies are complementary medicine preparations which are made from flowers. These remedies may help to balance the emotions and  allow peace and happiness to return so that a sufferer’s body is free to heal itself.

The Wild Rose Bach Flower Remedy is for those who drift through life resigning themselves to accept any eventuality. It is also for fatalists who believe that no matter what they do, the outcome will remain the same because it’s predetermined.

Consequently using the wild rose essence may bring forth a renewed interest and zest for life.

Potpourri

You don’t even have to eat the rose petals because they are also a basic ingredient of potpourri.  I dried rose petals from my garden last year, as they began to drop, for just this purpose.

To prepare rose petals for potpourri I wash them and then place them onto kitchen roll paper for a week or two to dry.

Magical Roses

Magically roses hold power with regards to love, fertility and clairvoyance.

Love

Being well known as the plant of love, especially the red ones, there is no wonder that roses emotionally soften the heart.

Scattering rose petals on and around the bed of a couple’s honeymoon suite is a well known practice. In fact my friend put loads of petals in our suitcases when my husband and I went on honeymoon. We did not discover them until we opened them at our destination.

Rose oil

Rose oil is also known as the love oil. Magical uses for the oil include inducing peace and harmony, adding to baths, and using in all love operations.

 

Be aware that you never know if you’re intolerant to something new until you try it for the first time. Therefore only try a tiny amount first and wait a day or two to check that there is no adverse reaction. 

If you have any pre-existing medical conditions or are taking any medications, always check with your doctor to ensure that using any of these suggestions don’t contradict them.

 

If you have enjoyed this post please feel free to share, comment or subscribe for future posts.

Furthermore if reading my posts are making you feel like you want to start your own blog then give it a try. I describe myself as a technophobe but here I am having a go and enjoying it too. There is still a long way to go with my blog but there is a lot of help out there on the internet.

I use SiteGround because they have a good start up deal and they are there to help when you need them. Furthermore I like their system and if a technophobe like me can navigate it then I feel anyone can.

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Marshmallow and Safflower Oil Salve – Amazing Natural Anti-Itch Cream!

Drawings of marshmallow and safflower blooms 

Finding leftover marshmallow root capsules in my cupboard I did a bit of research to find a new use for them. One of marshmallow root’s possible uses is to support the healing of old wounds. Consequently I decided to create a salve in the hope of healing my mosquito bite scars. As it turns out the salve is so much more than this.

Amazingly the salve is proving fantastic support for various skin conditions against itching!

If you’re struggling with biting insects too take a look at my “Natural Mosquito Repellents and Bite Relief”  post for further natural support;

http://theforagingherbalist.com/natural-mosquito-repellents-and-bite-relief-simple-rosemary-insect-repellent-dealing-with-insect-bite-scars-lavender-essential-oil-aloe-vera-plants-chickweed-sage-basil-plants-petunias-repelling-insec/

There are certain benefits to using an ointment / salve which includes;

  • Stays on the skin for a long time
  • Forms a protective barrier
  • Easy to apply
  • Useful for delicate skin
  • Keeps heat in and water out
  • Less invasive because you don’t ingest them

 

 

Now lets take a look at the separate ingredients in my creation;

Marshmallow

This herb is native to Europe and is also known as Guimauve Tea. This name is due to a sweet dessert called Pâte de Guimauve which is made from whipping the sap of the mallow root.

By applying marshmallow externally as an ointment it may help support the body with regards to;

  • Abscesses
  • Boils
  • Ulcers
  • Old Wounds

It is also useful externally because it is an emollient which means that it softens and soothes the skin.

As previously mentioned its the applying to old wounds suggestion that attracts me because of the old bug bite marks that I have on my legs. In fact they are unsightly and I feel that using marshmallow as an ointment base is worth a try.

To make the salve I add 5% of powdered root to the ointment base and I choose safflower oil for my ointment base because of its skin benefits too.

Safflower Oil

The Safflower herb is also known as Hong Hua because this is its name in China.

Safflower oil seems the perfect choice for my salve because eczema and roughness of the skin may also be soothed by its supporting properties.

Safflower oil is high in linoleic acid which is said to be nourishing to the skin. In fact there are many articles suggesting that topical application of linoleic acid helps with acne too.

It was very difficult for me to find safflower oil because I couldn’t find it in any of the supermarkets or local shops. Therefore I ended up buying it online;

Safflower oil does seem quite expensive but I wanted it for its particular properties that are helpful to the skin.

Using soybean or corn oil are other possibilities because they contain linoleic acid too.

Beeswax

Finally I use beeswax when making my salves and ointments because this gives them the right consistency.

I find Fresh Skin yellow beeswax to be good price, quality and melts very easily;

Using beeswax has many benefits because it also adds healing properties to the ointment. These include;

  • Forming a protective barrier by sealing in moisture while still allowing the skin to breathe.
  • Contains vitamin A

Making Marshmallow and Safflower Ointment

I make the salve as follows;

  1.  Pour 200ml of safflower oil and 17mg of beeswax into a Pyrex jug.

2. Add 1000mg of marshmallow root powder. I do this by opening and emptying the contents of two 500mg marshmallow root capsules into the mix.

3. Stand the pyrex jug in a large pan. Then pour water into the pan until it reaches just below the level of the safflower, beeswax and marshmallow root mix.

4. Using a mid heat I slowly bring the water to a boil and then turn the heat down to simmer. Stir the mix occasionally.

5. When the beeswax has dissolved remove the jug from the pan with a heatproof glove. Leaving the jug on a heatproof chopping board I allow it to cool slightly.

6. Pour the mixture into pots before it starts to solidify. Using five 2oz / 60ml plastic storage tubs is exactly the right quantity for these measurements.

7. Leave the pots on the side to cool and set.

Take a look at this link for the storage containers I use if you are looking for some yourself. I find the following are a good price and the 60ml pots are the perfect size;

https://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/710-53481-19255-0/1?icep_id=114&ipn=icep&toolid=20004&campid=5338456669&mpre=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.ebay.co.uk%2Fitm%2FRound-Food-Containers-Plastic-Clear-Storage-Tubs-with-Lids-All-Sizes%2F331469803628%3Fhash%3Ditem4d2d23d06c%3Am%3Am6BM4HHkz-k_exzrgq2Pufw

8. When the ointment cools I find that some of the marshmallow root powder pools at the bottom of the pots. Therefore I take a small spoon and stir the powder into each pot more evenly. The ointment is a consistency that allows this to be easily done.

9. Place the lids on the pots.

10. Label the pots with name, expiry date, ingredients and uses.

11. Store in a bathroom or medicine cabinet away from the light.

Expiry date

Oil based preparations can last from 6 months to 3 years. I have decided to opt for an expiry date in a years time  because this is usually the advised expiry date for safflower oil.

I use my own common sense and judgement with expiry dates. If a preparation smells wrong, feels different from when it was made, or the colour has changed dramatically then its time to think about throwing it away. If I’m not sure I throw it away just in case.

Review of the Marshmallow and Safflower Oil Salve

Its still early days but the salve is very impressive so far. It is proving itself to be a wonderful anti-itching ointment for different types of skin conditions.

Personally I find it useful on my mosquito bites and their angry redness is reducing a lot quicker than they normally do. I also find that it stops new ones itching too.

With friends and family its also proving extremely useful with regards to the itching associated with eczema and lichen planus. From researching  it appears that many skin conditions will disappear or fade in time, but unfortunately sometimes this can take years.

Therefore stopping the itching seems high priority. Stopping scratching assists the conditions to heal because scratching exacerbates them. This salve seems a little miracle so far in assisting in this way.

I have been told that it is giving more relief than any of the pharmaceutical preparations and suggestions.

Basic Ointment

To make a basic ointment I leave out the marshmallow root and just use the beeswax and safflower oil. I follow the same instructions as above and just omit adding the marshmallow root.

I find this basic ointment useful for rubbing onto the hard skin of my heels but it can also be used on rough skin found on elbows and feet. Gently rubbing it onto the rough skin I notice the difference almost immediately.

CAUTIONS

  • Ointments should not be used for hot, inflamed or weepy skin conditions.
  • Don’t forget to do a small patch test with the ointment to check for intolerance.

 

Be aware that you never know if you’re intolerant to something new until you try it for the first time. Therefore only try a tiny amount first and wait a day or two to check that there is no adverse reaction. 

If you have any pre-existing medical conditions or are taking any medications, always check with your doctor to ensure that using any of these suggestions don’t contradict them.

 

If you have enjoyed this post please feel free to share, comment or subscribe for future posts.

Furthermore if reading my posts are making you feel like you want to start your own blog then give it a try. I describe myself as a technophobe but here I am having a go and enjoying it too. There is still a long way to go with my blog but there is a lot of help out there on the internet.

I use SiteGround because they have a good start up deal and they are there to help when you need them. Furthermore I like their system and if a technophobe like me can navigate it then I feel anyone can.

Take a look for yourself;

Web Hosting

 

This post contains affiliate links

 

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Kick-Ass Kelp

Here is a post about kelp, my new best friend. After losing a lot of weight last year I went in search of herbal assistance.

While doing my online Master Herbalist course last year I came across this little beauty. My weight loss is due to me not being able to digest food correctly and as a result I constantly lose essential vitamins and minerals.

Imagine my excitement while reading when I saw that kelp may help with faulty nutrition.  Thinking “wow that’s me” my next step was to look for kelp to buy and try.

 

What is Kelp

Here are some interesting things about kelp;

  • A large brown algae seaweed which grows to form dense underwater forests.
  • Can be found all around the coast of the UK and are native to the North Atlantic and Western Mediterranean shores.
  • A wide range of sea life uses kelp for food and protection.
  • Kelp forests absorb massive amounts of carbon and produce oxygen. Consequently they help with climate change.
  • Help to regulate the body’s metabolism and this is where the body converts what you eat and drink into energy.
  • Contains Vitamin K which is needed for blood clotting, bone formation and repair. Moreover kelp may help to prevent cancers that target the inner linings of the organs.
  • Rich in iodine kelp supports the functioning of the thyroid gland, metabolises excess fat, as well as aiding physical and mental development.

In fact many seaweeds have been used traditionally as medicines for hundreds of years.

 

Adding Kelp to Your Diet

Drinking

Some people stir a teaspoonful of kelp into a glass of water. I’ve tried this and I’m not a fan. I find the strong fishy smell too powerful and its unpleasant trying to drink the floating bits of kelp.

Another option would be to make a tea to drink up to three times per day. To make a tea;

  1. Add 1/2 teaspoon of the dried herb to a cup of boiling water
  2. Cover the cup and infuse for 15 minutes
  3. Strain
  4. Drink 1/2-1 cup up to three times per day

The strained hot version is better and the smell is not as strong. However if your like me and your not too keen on fishy smells drinking kelp may be difficult for you.

Eating

Alternatively add kelp to your meals. I add 1/2 a teaspoon to hot meals like soups and casseroles. I’m finding that doing this 3 or 4times a week is enough to keep my weight in check.

However everyone is different and require different dosages to be effective. Take a look at my “Herbal Preparation Dosages” post which explains more;

http://theforagingherbalist.com/?s=herbal+preparation+dosages

Kelp can also be sprinkled onto cold foods like salads and muesli but again I find the fishy smell too potent this way. Adding the kelp to hot food is better for me because I can no longer smell it.

Storing Kelp

The first time  I bought kelp I stored it incorrectly. Placing the kelp powder into a glass storage jar I put it on a shelf in the kitchen. After a while the kelp was losing its dark green colour and starting to turn brown. Also when I opened the jar the distinctive “fishy” smell was disappearing.

At the same time the kelp wasn’t helping me anymore and I started losing weight again. As a result this led me to research storing herbs. This helped me to realise that the jar of kelp needs to be in kept in a  cupboard away from direct sunlight. Leaving it out was leaching the kelps potency.

Therefore buying more of the kelp I put it in a dark cupboard. Guess what it’s working again!

I purchase my kelp from Buy Whole Foods Online  because of its good price and it works for me;

Uses for Kelp

There are so many ways that kelp may help to support the body including;

  • Building back up broken-down constitutions
  • Faulty nutrition
  • General debility
  • Glandular ailments
  • Goitre (swelling of the thyroid gland)
  • Assisting to prevent the onset of rheumatism and arthritis
  • Hypothermia
  • Listlessness
  • Maintaining elasticity of blood vessel walls
  • Obesity
  • Rickets
Cautions
  • Do not take if you are suffering from any thyroid problems and taking medication such as thyroxine.
  • Avoid if you have high blood pressure because it can contain large amounts of salt.
  • Do not take if pregnant or breast feeding.
  • Do not give to children under 5 years old.

 

Be aware that you never know if you’re intolerant to something new until you try it for the first time. Therefore only try a tiny amount first and wait a day or two to check that there is no adverse reaction. 

If you have any pre-existing medical conditions or are taking any medications, always check with your doctor to ensure that using any of these suggestions don’t contradict them.

 

If you have enjoyed this post please feel free to share, comment or subscribe for future posts.

Furthermore if reading my posts are making you feel like you want to start your own blog then give it a try. I describe myself as a technophobe but here I am having a go and enjoying it too. There is still a long way to go with my blog but there is a lot of help out there on the internet.

I use SiteGround because they have a good start up deal and they are there to help when you need them. Furthermore I like their system and if a technophobe like me can navigate it then I feel anyone can.

Take a look for yourself;

Web Hosting

 

This post contains affiliate links

 

28887total sites visits.

 

Sharing My Epilepsy Experience

In this post  I share my personal epilepsy experience to explain why I’m so careful to follow epilepsy warnings on my herbal journey. Luckily I have not had any seizures for a long time now but my story explains why I don’t want to trigger them again.

I’m hoping that my story will resonate with fellow epileptics and give them comfort that they are not alone.

Before reading please note that my seizures, consequent tests and treatment were a long time ago. Things may have changed a great deal since then.

 

How My Seizures Began

One night in Tenerife I awoke in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. While walking back to the bedroom I must have passed out because the next thing I knew I was waking up on the floor screaming in pain. This woke up my husband who came to my aid and led me back to the bed to lie down.

While lying there he saw that I had broken my protruding front tooth and cut my lip. I guess this is no surprise because the floors of the apartment were made of hard tiling.

My protruding tooth was a consequence of falling over when I was a very small child and hitting my face on a concrete playground. Ever since that day my two front teeth were crooked with one tooth overlapping the other and making it protrude slightly. Looking on the bright side as a result of this accident people would tell me I had a lovely smile. This was because I would smile widely to avoid seeing the protruding tooth sticking over my bottom lip.

The dentist in Tenerife gave me the choice of having the broken tooth fixed or taking the opportunity to cap both front teeth. I remember the dental nurse saying to me that this “could be my God given opportunity to now have straight teeth.” Thinking about this I chose the caps and straight front teeth option.

This was the silver lining with regards to my epilepsy because I much prefer the look of my straight front teeth, and the big smile still remains!

What Happens When I Have a Seizure

Firstly I sit up  howling like a wolf and then I collapse. My eyes roll into the back of my head and all that can be seen are the whites of my eyes. I guess that must be pretty scary for the person watching.

Then I begin to fit/convulse for 10-15 minutes.When I awake all I remember is the weirdest feeling. The best way I can describe it is to say that my head feels like it is in the spin cycle of a washing machine.

Some say that they have no memory at all of their seizures.

Problems with Speech

When I awake from a seizure and someone tries to talk to me  it sounds like they are talking gobbledegook. In return when I try to talk to anyone nothing I say makes sense to them either. Despite the fact that in my own head what I am saying is clear.

Biting My Tongue

I bite my tongue and leave teeth marks. Sometimes the bites are so hard that they draw blood.

A Metal Taste in the Mouth

This drawn blood leaves me with a metal taste in my mouth because of blood’s iron content.

Burst Blood Vessels in the Neck

One time looking in a mirror I saw that a seizure gave me two very dark and ugly marks on my neck. This was because the violence of the seizure caused my blood vessels to burst. Afterwards I just wanted to hide away and  let them disappear.

Loss of Bladder Control

The most embarrassing occasions for me were when I couldn’t control my bladder and wee myself. Fortunately this did not happen very often.

Uncontrollable Jerking and Shaking of the Body

Waking on another occasion I saw that I had fallen at the top of the stairs. Its lucky that I didn’t fall down them!  Looking down at my right hand I saw a burn mark because convulsing on the carpet had given me a carpet burn!

Confusion and Extreme Tiredness

For at least a week following a seizure I experience extreme tiredness and this makes every little thing I try to do feel like a huge effort.

How to Deal with an Epileptic Seizure

The old wife’s tale about putting something into a persons mouth when they are fitting (like a wooden spoon) is wrong. All that happens if you do this is that you can potentially hurt the persons mouth and teeth. To help them just turn the patient onto their side and put some sort of cushioning under their head.

For full details of first aid for someone having a seizure take a look at the following by The British Red Cross;

https://www.redcross.org.uk/first-aid/learn-first-aid/seizures?gclid=Cj0KCQjwuLPnBRDjARIsACDzGL0JyPOay4ALT0Oj8PcI522683Zrh9WVpw89cpV0jc3Od7MH1Fuohg0aAmfGEALw_wcB

Testing for Epilepsy

 

To diagnose the epilepsy an electroencephalogram (EEG) is used because this checks for unusual activity in the brain. This is done by attaching small sensors to the scalp. They look like round plastic discs with wire coming out of them. When they were placed on my head I remember thinking that I must look like I should be in some kind of Syfy movie.

During the hospital tests for the epilepsy you look at a lot of flashing lights which test for photosensitive epilepsy. The tests were able to rule out photosensitivity as a trigger for me. Alas pinpointing the actual cause of my epilepsy never came to fruition. In fact most people’s cause of their epilepsy is  unknown.

For me personally concluding that I had epilepsy was a relief. My other fear was that my seizures were due to the possibility of my cancer returning. Fortunately this was not the case because if it was the seizures would indicate that cancer was in the brain. I’m sure that not many people would feel relief at being informed that they are epileptic but I sure was!

Timing of Seizures

My epileptic seizures occurred approximately every six weeks. When I knew it was nearing the time for the next one I wouldn’t leave the house in case I collapsed in public and wet myself.

A strange feeling would occur a few seconds before each seizure began. It was a kind of a woozy sensation. This feeling seemed like a warning to tell me to lie or sit down ready for the seizure.

I believe that my seizures were just daytime ones but I cannot be a hundred percent sure. Sometimes I would find teeth marks on my tongue when I awoke along with a little blood on my pillow.

Epileptic Drugs

Finding the correct strength of epilepsy drugs took some time. The initial drug they put me on made me feel dizzy and nauseous all of the time. Moving onto a drug called Epilim Chrono Controlled Release Tablets (sodium valporate) was better for me.

Sodium valporate works by stabilising electrical activity in the brain. I was on a pretty high dosage of this drug to begin with of 1600 mg per day.

Impacts of Epilepsy

Epilepsy definitely effects day to day life.

Personally I was unable to work for a while until the doctors found the right medication  to control the seizures. It was a real struggle to do anything for a week or so after each seizure.

Not being able to drive for a year after your last seizure can really restrict life too because nowadays we rely so much on our cars.

Other things to keep in mind if you have epilepsy;

  • You musn’t swim, have a bath, or use a jacuzzi alone because a seizure may make you drown.
  • No diving due to the water pressure.
  • Watch out for games which give you electric shocks because the shock you get if you lose may bring on an episode.
  • Look for warnings on certain exercise equipment which gives you electronic pulses because these too could bring on a seizure.
  • Do not use a sauna or steam room alone.

The above are just a few things to consider while you are still having seizures.

Web Hosting

For further information about epilepsy take a look at The Epilepsy Society website;

https://www.epilepsysociety.org.uk/?gclid=Cj0KCQjwuLPnBRDjARIsACDzGL3gDzSO60o2VfXKlptLzb7ASd6JntINMNjxiQUXetAbAJJSEPmxGu8aAjD_EALw_wcB

 

Wishing you all long life and happiness.

 

If you have enjoyed my story please do not hesitate to share with anyone you think it may help.

 

This post contains affiliate links

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Versatile Valerian (Valeriana Officinalis)

I  love valerian and as a result its one of my favourite herbs. In fact there is always a bottle of homemade tincture readily available in my cupboard.

Valerian’s pretty pink flowers bloom in July  and grow throughout Europe.

Furthermore Valerian is a member of the honeysuckle family. This family is well known for its shrubs and woody vines.

 

Folk Names Names for Valerian

Other names that valerian is known by includes;

  • All heal because of its many uses.
  • Capon’s valerian – A capon is a castrated male chicken. The spreading head of valerian’s flowers are said to look like a capon’s tail.
  • Cat’s valerian because cats have a strong attraction to the herb. It has a similar effect on them as the better known catnip. As a result cats’ love to roll around on valerian and rub themselves with it.
  • Fragrant valerian may be because of its sweet smelling flowers or the strong odour of its roots. The root smell repels many but I actually like it.
  • Phu or “phew!” because of ancient Greeks thinking the roots smell like dirty old socks.
  • Valere – maybe Valerian came from this Italian word because it means to be strong / healthy.

Valerian Root

Valerian is well known for its herbal support. Particularly with regards to easing anxiety and its sedative effects. I love valerian’s root and use it because of a meditation I was listening to. Consequently after listening to the meditation I followed its suggestion to make a decoction by;

  1. Placing a teaspoon of valerian root into a 500ml bottle of water.
  2. Leaving it to soak for 8-10 hours in the fridge overnight.
  3. Sipping it throughout the next day.

This works for me when I need help to keep calm during a bad day. I also drink it before night time to promote sleep.

This was a good option for me initially but now I have a better way of taking valerian in tincture form.

Homemade Valerian Tincture

Valerian tincture is readily available to buy but I prefer to make my own. I love making my own concoctions because I have a creative side. In fact valerian tincture is the most widely used preparation for valerian root

Its easy to alter the amount taken to suit different individuals using a tincture. To find out more about why this is important take a look at my “Herbal Preparation Dosages” post;

http://theforagingherbalist.com/herbal-preparation-dosages-hsp-highly-sensitive-person/

I use vodka to make my tinctures but other spirits can be used. The vodka I use is 40% alcohol. If you can’t or don’t want to use alcohol another alternative is glycerine.

How I Make My Valerian Tincture

  1. Weigh 15g / 1/2oz dried root using electronic scales for accuracy.
  2. Finely cut the dried root and place it in a Pyrex jug.
  3. Add 200ml of vodka (or glycerine).
  4. Stir and pour the mixture into a glass bottle or jar with an airtight lid.
  5. Shake the bottle
  6. Label the bottle with the name “valerian tincture”and date of preparation.
  7. Store in a cupboard away from direct sunlight.
  8. Shake the mixture daily.
  9. After 4 weeks strain away the root using a conical funnel and cheesecloth. Most noteworthy its important not to leave it any longer.
  10. Throw away the root.
  11. Pour the strained tincture back into a clean bottle.
  12. Label the new bottle with “valerian tincture”, the date of straining, dosages, ingredients and uses.

I use 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of the tincture in water, or a cup of tea, depending on requirements. Using up to 3 times per day if necessary.

Measuring the ingredients is even easier using a set of aluminium cups. I put a 1/4 cup of valerian root into a jar and add 2 cups of alcohol. I love how easy it is to use cups. Try some for yourself and this link shows the ones I use;

https://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/710-53481-19255-0/1?icep_id=114&ipn=icep&toolid=20004&campid=5338456669&mpre=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.ebay.co.uk%2Fitm%2FUtensil-Set-Stainless-Steel-Measuring-Cups-Scales-Flour-Scoop-Measuring-Spoons%2F283261374686%3FssPageName%3DSTRK%253AMEBIDX%253AIT%26var%3D583986998305%26_trksid%3Dp2057872.m2749.l2649

I buy my valerian root from Buy Wholefoods Online Ltd and I’m very happy with its quality and price.

 

My personal experience with valerian tincture

Personally I find the tincture very useful in the following situations;

  • Keeping me calm on particularly trying days.
  • Helping to ease pounding headaches.
  • Easing extremely bad stomach pains. My pains happen regularly because they are due to my digestion issues. Its very important to go see a doctor if you don’t understand why you have excruciating pains of any kind.
  • Helping me to sleep when I struggle to drop off.

Sleep meditations and/or chamomile tea are my first ports of call when I can’t sleep. As a result of not sleeping for a few days I start to struggle to function. When this happens I reach for the valerian tincture. I add 1/2 – I  teaspoonful of tincture to a cup of tea and this works well for me.

Its important to note how quickly the valerian tincture works and I make sure I’m off to bed straight after taking it.

For a double whammy I add the tincture to my chamomile tea. The valerian tends to give me at least five or six solid hours sleep without interruption.

To find out more about chamomile tea take a look at my “Drinking Chamomile under the Wolf Red Blood Moon” post;

http://theforagingherbalist.com/?s=DRINKING+CHAMOMILE+UNDER+THE+BLOOD+RED+MOON

 

Uses

Valerian has so many possible uses showing why its also known as “all heal”. Some ways that it may ease or support the body are with regards to;

  • Anxiety and nervous tension
  • Bronchial spasms
  • Epilepsy symptoms
  • Excitability, restlessness and irritability
  • High blood pressure
  • Hypochondria
  • Insomnia
  • Menstrual pain
  • Menopausal restlessness
  • Mental confusion
  • Muscle and intestinal cramp
  • Pain Relief
  • Palpitations
  • Skin Problems
  • Smokers cough
  • Tension headache and migraine
  • Upper respiratory problems

 

CAUTIONS

Anxiety UK shows these cautions before considering taking valerian;

  • Valerian enhances the action of sleep-enhancing drugs. Therefore it should not be taken at the same time as sleeping pills or tranquillisers. Valerian can be combined with other herbs and these include chamomile, Melissa and passionflower.
  • Do not take if pregnant or breast-feeding.
  • Valerian should not be taken before driving or any other situation where you need to be alert.
  • Valerian is not suitable for children

https://www.anxietyuk.org.uk/get-help/anxiety-information/guide-to-herbal-medicine/

Also;

  • Don’t use for severe depressive states.
  • Large doses may cause dizziness and mental confusion..
Interesting points
  • Valium in NOT related to valarian.
  • It lacks the side effects of some sedative drugs and these include barbiturates and benzodiazepines.
  • No dependence or withdrawal symptoms reported.

Be aware that you never know if you’re intolerant to something new until you try it for the first time. In fact I believe its best to try a tiny amount first and wait a day or two to check that there is no adverse reaction. 

If you have any pre-existing medical conditions or are taking any medications, always check with your doctor to ensure that using any of these suggestions don’t contradict them. There are some medications that valerian may interfere with.

Valerian and Gardening

Valerian good for the garden because it attracts more earthworms to the soil. Equally important it increases phosphorus in the soil and this is an essential macro-element for plant nutrition.

You can plant valerian in large and deep pots. Placing them where they thrive in sun and partial shade in the afternoon is important. Its easy to harvest the roots from the pot and then replanting them they grow well.

Equally important is to keep in mind is that valerian may grow up to five feet tall. Keep this in mind when deciding where to plant them.

Please remember that if you see valerian while foraging that it is illegal to uproot a plant without the landowners permission.

Furthermore valerian can attract rats as well as cats. In fact some wonder if the Pied Piper of Hamelin’s flute had nothing to do with the rats following him. Maybe there was valerian in his pocket!

 

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Magical Valarian

Magically the herb’s uses include;

  • Love spells
  • Purification
  • Reuniting fighting couples
  • Sleep – Harry Potter fans may remember mention of soporific qualities in the stories. Due to these properties it was given in teas to encourage sleep.

 

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Bewitching Basil (Ocimum Basilicum)

Basil makes a fantastic addition to food, smells amazing and can help support the body too.

The garden variety basil that we use in the UK is not the same as holy basil (ocimum tenuiflorum). This is because holy or sacred basil is native to the Indian Subcontinent and Australia. It also contains different biochemical compounds. Despite this our basil is still amazing!

Containing high levels of vitamins A & C basil is very useful because the body can’t utilize protein without vitamin A. Furthermore vitamin C is the most important vitamin for the immune system.

Basil is part of the mint family which also includes peppermint, spearmint, lavender, rosemary and thyme. Known as labiatae the mint family produce flowers and have square stems.

Other Names for Basil

Basil has many other names which include;

  • Alabahaca because its the Spanish term for Basil.
  • Sweet basil because it relates to its sweet clove like taste.
  • Witches’ herb maybe because some say that witches drank basil juice before flying on their brooms. Whereas the “flying” may actually relate to astral projection where the witches’ bodies remain inert while their minds “fly.”

Drinking Basil

Basil tea can be made with fresh or dry herbs and one-herb infusions are also known as simples.

I make a cup basil tea by;

  1. Bringing 600ml of bottled water to the boil. I prefer bottled water because it tastes better and does not contain the chemicals that tap water does.
  2. Measuring 2oz (50g) of fresh herbs or 1oz (25g) of dried using an electronic scale because of its accuracy.
  3. Adding the herbs to the boiled water.
  4. Covering the cups / teapot and leaving the mixture to infuse for 10 minutes

Trying both the dry and fresh basil tea I prefer the fresh. Dry basil tea is too overpowering in taste and smell for me. The fresh tea is milder and far better suited to my taste buds. However the dry basil tea produces a beautiful deep hue in colour.

Suggested uses where the tea may help support the body are;

  • Headaches
  • Indigestion
  • Fight mild depression
  • Poor memory and lack of concentration
  • As a mouthwash for bleeding gums
  • Compounds found in basil may even disrupt cell mutations leading to cancer development

Dairy and Gluten Free Basil Pesto

Pesto sauce is one of the most well known uses for basil.

Being dairy and gluten intolerant I like to put my own twist on basil pesto sauce. There are not many dairy free options available out there and you can’t beat a bit of home cooking even if there was!

Ingredients

  •  A cupful of fresh basil leaves – I use a set of aluminium cups in different sizes for my teas and other herbal concoctions.
  •  One garlic clove – because dairy free varieties of cheese tend to be milder in taste and adding too much garlic would overpower the dish.
  • One teaspoon of sea salt.
  •  25g / 10z of toasted pine nuts –  I prefer to toast my own pine nuts because its cheaper and easy to do. Putting the pine nuts into a small pan on medium heat I toss them every 30 seconds. There is no need to add oil because they can be toasted dry. Keeping a careful eye on them I remove them from the heat as soon as they turn brown. Its very important to keep an eye on them because they can burn very quickly.
  • 50g / 2oz dairy free cheese –  I use violife vegan cheese which is made with coconut oil. Its good to see that dairy free cheese has improved over the years because I couldn’t eat it years ago. The violife cheese has the same texture as edam cheese and a mild creamy taste.
  • 100ml of extra virgin olive oil
  • A handful of finely chopped mushrooms
  • 250g of gluten free pasta –  I love Tesco gluten free red lentil and brown rice fusilli pasta. Their gluten free pasta is a good price, tastes great and noone complains when I use it instead of wheat pasta.

You can substitute dairy cheese and wheat pasta into this dish if you prefer. If you do this you may need to add a little extra garlic because the cheese taste will be much stronger.

Preparation

  1. Finely chop the garlic and place it into a pestle and mortar along with the sea salt and crush. Then add and crush the toasted pine nuts too.
  2. Add the basil leaves and crush into a paste.
  3. Stir in the extra virgin olive oil.
  4. Grate the cheese and stir into the sauce.
  5. Cook the pasta as per packet instructions.
  6. Gently cook the chopped mushrooms in extra virgin olive oil and add grounded black pepper if desired.
  7. Strain the pasta and stir in the pesto sauce.
  8. Sprinkle the mushrooms over the top and serve.

This recipe is a lovely and tasty addition to my dairy and gluten free homecooked meals.

Insect Repellent

A basil plant has pride of place in my living room windowsill because it repels flies and mosquitoes . I buy my basil plants from the local supermarket because this is an inexpensive option.

To find out more useful herbal tips to deter flies and mosquitoes take a look at my “Natural Mosquito Repellents and Bite Relief” post;

http://theforagingherbalist.com/natural-mosquito-repellents-and-bite-relief-simple-rosemary-insect-repellent-dealing-with-insect-bite-scars-lavender-essential-oil-aloe-vera-plants-chickweed-sage-basil-plants/

Keeping my basil fresh and sweet smelling takes a little care. At this time of the year I need to water them daily because this stops their leaves wilting. I also prune them regularly because this encourages the basil to branch out and produce more leaves.

The pruned leaves do not go to waste because I put them in sealed freezer bags for future use.

This article from The Old Farmer’s Almanac was very useful with regards to growing and storing  basil;

https://www.almanac.com/plant/basil

Basil pure essential oil can also be used to repel mosquitoes and flies.

Basil Pure Essential Oil

 

Known as a relaxing essential oil basil may also support the body with regards to;

  • Asthmatic and bronchial conditions
  • Colds and flu
  • Depression and mental problems because its smell lifts the spirit
  • Vomiting

Basil oil can be used in an essential oil burner or as an ingredient in a massage oil.

Cautions

  • Do not use on sensitive skin because it will irritate it.
  • Do not use while pregnant because it may cause bleeding.

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Magical Basil

Possible magical uses for basil are;

  • Business success -try keeping a well cared for basil plant in your work place to attract customers. Sources even say that prostitutes wore basil in Spain to attract business!
  • Exorcism
  • Love and harmony – wear to avoid major clashes.
  • Money matters – try a sprig in your purse or wallet to attract money.
  • Protection – crush and sprinkle basil leaves around the home to bring peace, soothe bad tempers and bring luck into the home
  • Purification

 

Be aware that you never know if you’re intolerant to something new until you try it for the first time. In fact I believe its best to try a tiny amount first and wait a day or two to check that there is no adverse reaction. 

If you have any pre-existing medical conditions or are taking any medications, always check with your doctor to ensure that using any of these suggestions don’t contradict them.

 

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How to Make Mini Saging Sticks

Saging is also known as smudging and is something that I like to do on a regular basis. The reason I sage is to remove negative energies from the home and myself.

Magically saging is said to remove negativities from objects as well. Some even burn sage before divination sessions. Take a look at my post “Dowsing for Earth Energy” for more information on this subject;

http://theforagingherbalist.com/dowsing-divining-earth-energy-spiritual-dowsing-long-meg-and-her-daughters/

Sage is also said to have magical uses for healing and prosperity.

Growing my own sage

Smudging sticks are readily available to buy but I like to make my own mini saging sticks. I make mine because its easy, inexpensive, and they work a treat.

I’ve been making them for a couple of years now and started off by buying a pot of sage from my local supermarket. I planted the pot in my herbal patch and I receive new growth every year. Throughout the warmer months of the year I  prune my sage to make sticks because it has regular growth spurts.

Making Mini Saging Sticks

  1. I take a pair of secateurs and cut off sage branches between 15cm and 20cm in length. How many branches I use per mini stick depends on the amount of leaves per branch. Their thickness should be an average of 2cm wide once wrapped.
  2. I measure a length of string for each bundle of branches. Each string needs to be two and half times the length of the bundle.
  3.  A quarter to a third of the way from the top of each bundle I lay one end of the string. I do this because once I start to wrap the shoots the end of the string will be safely secured.
  4. Holding the leaves tight to the stems I wrap the string tightly around the branches and leaves. There should be a few centimeters of string left over.
  5.  I secure this end by looping the remaining string underneath the last loop on the stick.
  6.  I tie a loop in the end of this remaining string.
  7. With this loop I hang the sticks upside down because this is a good way to dry the herb. I use a protruding branch from a wood framed mirror to dry mine because it enables me to hang the herbs away from direct sunlight.
  8. I leave the sticks to dry for a week or too. When the leaves are crisp they are ready for saging. 
  9. I wrap the extra string used for hanging the herbs around the stick. Wrapping it from the bottom towards the top and looping the other end under one of the rings to tie it off.

The Saging Process

The items that I use for saging are;

  •  A small mortar bowl because it is heatproof, easy to carry around and catches the ash.
  • One of the mini saging sticks.
  • A feather because it is ideal to waft the smoke around. My feather is a naturally shed one that I found in my garden.
  • A handheld safety gas lighter or a match.
Caution

Do not leave the saging stick burning in a room alone.

Preparation for Saging

  1. Firstly I take the battery out of the smoke alarm. This is a very important step because its a bit of a shock when you start saging and the alarm goes off. I remember this happening my first time but I have not forgotten to take the battery out since!
  2. Then I open all of the room doors, cupboard doors and drawers within the house and then open an upstairs window. I choose my office / spiritual room because this seems an appropriate room for the negative energy to flow out of.

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The Saging

  1. I light the sage stick and wait until it starts to smoke nicely.
  2. Then I waft the smoke with the feather up and down myself to remove negative energies from me first.
  3. Starting by the back door on the ground floor of the house I waft the smoke into every corner, cupboard, drawer, and behind blinds and curtains. If you only have one floor I suggest starting at the opposite end of the property to where you leave a window open.
  4. Finally I go into the room with the open window where the negative energies flow away. I stub out the saging stick and leave it in here until it totally stops smoking. Importantly I say in the room myself until this happens.
  5. After a little while I go around the house to close all of the cupboard doors and drawers. I seem to feel when its the right time to do this and close the open window.
  6. Pop the battery back into the smoke alarm.

Some say a prayer or a little chant while they are saging.

Warning for epileptics with regards to saging

Saging is a form of aromatherapy and therefore its important to note that some essential oils may trigger epilepsy. Sage is one of these along with rosemary, fennel, eucalyptus, hyssop, wormwood, camphor and spike lavender.

On the other hand some essential oils may have a calming and relaxing effect. These oils include jasmine, ylang ylang, camomile, and lavender (not spike lavender).

Alternative herbs which you can use for smudging include cedar, sweetgrass and lavender. Although I have not had a seizure for many years now I am still classed as an epileptic. For this reason I have decided to err on the side of caution and switch my choice of herb the next time I’m smudging.

I am going to use lavender (not spike lavender) in future because I already have some in my garden.

If you are an epileptic too, or know someone who is, take a look at my “Sharing My Epilepsy Experience” to see why I’m switching;

http://theforagingherbalist.com/my-epilepsy-experience-how-to-deal-with-an-epileptic-seizure-testing-for-epilepsy-impacts-of-epilepsy-epilepsy-cautions-epileptic-seizure-side-effects/

To find out more about essential oils and epilepsy take a look at the following article from The epilepsysociety.org.uk;

https://www.epilepsysociety.org.uk/complementary-therapies#.XN5ROXdFzIU

Warning for saging while pregnant

It is also advised to avoid burning sage while pregnant as well.

 

If you haven’t tried saging before give it a go and see how much better your house feels.

 

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Spice up Your Life and Health with Ginger!

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I like to keep fresh and dried ginger in my kitchen because its is a very versatile spice. My fridge contains the fresh ginger whereas I keep the dried ginger in my spice rack.

I now keep my spice rack in a dark cupboard due to what my herbal studies taught me. The different coloured spices and herbs may look great on the kitchen counter but the sunlight gets to them and reduces their colour and potency.

I like to add ginger to my casseroles and soups at least once or twice a week. My first option for cooking is fresh ginger but I will use dried if the fresh is unavailable.

Julie Bruton Seal and Matthew Seal managed to inspire me yet again with their wonderful book “Kitchen Medicine”. As a result I made a wonderful ginger, garlic, chilli, and cinnamon soup to help me stave off a cold. Amazingly after eating the soup my sniffing and sneezing stopped and it tasted great too!

Ginger is a wonderful herb to keep in a home apothecary because of its so many uses.

Other Names for Ginger

  • Sheng Jian which means a fresh young and tender rhizome. A rhizome is a subterranean plant stem sending out roots and shoots from its nodes.
  • Singabera which in Sanskrit means shaped like a horn or antler. Looking at a root the antler term makes sense to me.
  • Zingiber officinale is its scientific name.


Making Fresh Ginger Root Decoction

The best way to drink ginger is by making a decoction . Boiling the root this way achieves extraction from the herb. Decoctions are good for roots but also for hard seeds and barks as well.

Here is how I make a ginger decoction;

  1. Slice 15g / 1/2 oz of fresh root ginger. I slice the roots diagonally because this maximises the extraction from the ginger.
  2. Place the ginger into a earthenware pot and add 300ml of bottled water. (I always prefer to drink bottled water rather than tap water because I don’t like the idea of consuming the additives that tap water contains).
  3. Bring the water and ginger mixture to the boil and then cover the pot to simmer for twenty minutes.
  4. Strain the liquid using a sieve and throw away the ginger.

The boiling and simmering reduces the amount of liquid but still leaves me with a good mug full of decoction.

The best way to drink a herbal decoction is on a empty stomach, at least half an hour before eating. I don’t make more than three days supply  at any one time and keep the surplus in the fridge. When required I re-heat the decoction but I only drink a maximum of three cups per day.

My review of the decoction

There is a lovely mild ginger smell to the drink and it has a slight yellowy brown colour.

Drinking the decoction leaves a tingle on my tongue and the back of my throat. It reminds me of eating chilli  because the more you have the stronger it tastes and feels in the mouth.

Overall I think that the decoction is a lovely and comforting brew but feel that trying to add any sweetness to it would  ruin the taste. However honey, lemon juice or stevia can be added if desired.

Store Bought Ginger Tea

Drinking store bought ginger tea bags is pleasant enough but they are not a patch on the fresh root decoction. The tea has a fainter ginger smell and I don’t get the pleasant tingling sensation drinking these.

In my opinions its definitely worth the effort to make your own drink from scratch. Tea bags are great if you are short on time but if you want to feel the real power of the ginger I suggest having a go at making your own decoction using the root.

Making a Tea with Dried Ginger

  • Add 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon of dried herb per cup of boiling water
  • Cover and infuse for 4-10 minutes depending on taste
  • Strain into a cup or mug

It’s wise to note that making a drink with dried ginger produces an even hotter feel and this can be too stimulating for some.

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Suggested Herbal Support from Ginger

Possible uses of ginger to support the body are;

  • As an anti-inflammatory.
  • To ease asthma.
  • In the form of a  massage oil because used in this way it may ease the pain of arthritis and fibromyalgia.
  • Ease menstrual cramps.
  • To alleviate cold, cough and flu symptoms. Putting ginger into a bath can even help to help sweat out a cold. When I do this I add epsom salts and muscle soak bubble bath to the water as well. A nice 20 minute soak seems to do the trick. Try adding the dried ginger to the water by placing it inside a sock or cloth bag and running the hot water tap over it.
  • To help balance the cholesterol in the blood.
  • For its possible anitidepressant effects.
  • To help ease nausea – This includes morning sickness, alleviating the nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy, and the nauseous feeling after having an anaesthetic.
  • For travel sickness – Legend says that fisherman chewed on raw ginger to alleviate their sea sickness. Nowadays chewing ginger is one of the number one aids used for motion sickness.
  • As migraine support.
  • For boosting poor circulation which may also help with cold hands and feet in later life.
  • To assist digestion because it supports absorption through the stomach.
  • Act as an expectorant because it supports the clearing of mucus from the throat and lungs.
  • To ease flatulence.

Ginger Compress

Make a  compress by soaking a cloth in warm ginger tea / decoction and apply it to the painful area on the body.

Examples of suggested uses for the compress are to;

  • Ease mouth problems.
  • Ease the pain of kidney stones.
Cautions with regards to using ginger
  • Contra indicated in kidney disease.
  • Best taken with food.
  • Dried ginger may be too hot and stimulating for some.
  • Some people may suffer heartburn after taking ginger.

Ginger Essential Oil

Using pure essential ginger oil in a diffuser very quickly rewards me with the potent ginger aroma.

Ways that inhaling the oil may help support the body include;

  • Being warming and helpful to the digestive tract.
  • Tonify the stomach and spleen.
  • Ease the body from cold, sneezing and respiratory problems.
  • Using to promote an appetite.

I buy my ginger pure essential oil from Freshskin Beauty. This is because I have used their oils in the past and I am very happy with their reasonable prices and quality;


To find out more about aromatherapy take a look at my aromatherapy post;

http://theforagingherbalist.com/aromatherapy-spirituality-oil-diffuser-chakras-lavender-essential-oil/

Magical Ginger

Magically ginger is said to be an aphrodisiac which induces passion. In ancient times it was often put into love spells.

 

Now that my ginger post is at an close go and enjoy this fiery spice!

 

Be aware that you never know if you’re intolerant to something new until you try it for the first time. In fact I believe its best to try a tiny amount first and wait a day or two to check that there is no adverse reaction. 

If you have any pre-existing medical conditions or are taking any medications, always check with your doctor to ensure that using any of these suggestions don’t contradict them.

 

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This post contains affiliate links

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Foraging for Garlic Mustard – The Poor Man’s Mustard

Spotting beautiful white flowers next to a lake I eagerly walk towards the lake to investigate.

I take a photograph on my Plant Net app and they clearly show as garlic mustard. Crushing  the leaves to smell the distinct garlic odour is another way to help identify them.

Take a look at my Foraging Tips for Beginners to find out more about PlantNet;

http://theforagingherbalist.com/foraging-tips-for-beginners/

I see that the flowers have clusters of four petalled white flowers and these flower in the plants second year. This is because garlic mustard has a biennial life cycle which means that it has a natural life cycle of two growing seasons. In the first year there is only leafy growth and then in the second year the plant flowers and dies.

If you are not a 100% sure when identifying a herb then please don’t use or eat it!

Other Names for Garlic Mustard (Alliaria Petiolata)

  • Hedge garlic because of where it sometimes grows and due to it smelling like garlic.
  • Jack-by-the-hedge because of its garlic-like-aroma and Jack being an old English name for the devil. Some say that the devil’s breath smells of garlic. Or maybe it has this name due to the ancient Turkish legend. The legend says that the onion was born when the devil was cast out of the Garden of Eden. Its said to sprout onions where Satan’s right foot touched the earth, while garlic sprang up under his left foot. 
  • Poor man’s mustard because in the past the more unfortunate used to eat the leaves with their bread.
  • Sauce-alone because its often used in soups and sauces.

Garlic mustard is also found along hedgerows, verges and at the edge of woodland.

Eating the Leaves

Spring is a good time to pick the vibrant green and heart shaped leaves. They are not as palatable when picking once the weather warms up because then they develop a bitter taste.

The leaves can be used in an infusion, as salad leaves, and chopped to add to soups and casseroles. I imagine that they would be a good addition to a cheese or ham sandwich too if you like that sort of thing.

Eating a leaf there is a definite slight garlic taste and smell. This leaf makes a strong salad leaf and therefore can add a bit of bite to a boring salad.

You can also eat the root of garlic mustard which has been likened to taste like horseradish.

However remember that you need the landowners permission before any roots can be dug up. It is illegal to dig them up in the UK without permission.

Preparing the Leaves

I prepare the garlic mustard leaves by;

  1. Washing them in a colander and then leaving them to drain on the draining board.
  2. Putting some of the leaves into a sealed container in the fridge to use in salads.
  3. Drying the rest of the leaves and use for tea.

To dry the leaves I separate and place them onto kitchen roll. Next I cover them with further kitchen roll because then they do not get dusty. Finally I leave them a couple of weeks to dry until they are crispy and completely dry.

Once dried I store the leaves in a glass jar with an airtight lid and I place them in a cupboard away from direct sunlight.

Making a Garlic Mustard Infusion

I make an infusion  by using fresh or dried leaves and stems. Furthermore both dried and fresh leaves can also be used in poultices (see below). Here is how I make garlic mustard tea;

  1. Measure 25g / 1oz fresh herb (17.5g/1/2oz dried herb) using an electronic scale for accuracy.
  2. Boil 300ml of bottled water.
  3. Add the dried or fresh herb to the boiled water.
  4. Cover and infuse for 10-15 minutes. I use a plate which works perfectly fine.
  5. Put any leftover infusion in the fridge and drink within 24 hours.

Review of the infusion

Its hard to describe the smell and taste of this one because I’ve never tasted anything like it before. However the taste was ok and the liquid is a beautiful pale green colour.

Personally I wouldn’t choose to drink this one out of choice and would prefer to use the leaves in salads, sandwiches, soups and casseroles. Don’t let this stop you from trying the garlic mustard tea yourselves because we all have different tastes.

In the past garlic mustard infusions were used to treat gangrene. Furthermore its properties may also support the body as an;

  • Antiseptic
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Anti-astmatic
  • Expectorant

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Using as a Poultice

Poultices therapeutic actions absorb rapidly into the skin and are easily changed and renewed.

Make a simple poultice by crushing, grating or chewing fresh leaves and stems. Next apply by wrapping them in muslin or cheesecloth because this keeps the herb in place. Use the poultice within 24 hours.

Suggested conditions that the garlic mustard poultice may ease include gout, neuralgia and rheumatism.

Final thought;

I would not consider growing this herb in my own garden because of its invasiveness.

 

 

Be aware that you never know if you’re intolerant to something new until you try it for the first time. In fact I believe its best to try a tiny amount first and wait a day or two to check that there is no adverse reaction. 

If you have any pre-existing medical conditions or are taking any medications, always check with your doctor to ensure that using any of these suggestions don’t contradict them.

 

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Dandelion – So Much More Than a Weed

As dandelions start to pop up out of the earth I see them with brand new eyes. No longer do I look at them as weeds that I want to obliterate from my garden. They are now a very welcome sight which have so much to give.

For the first time I find myself delaying cutting the grass in the hope that a few more dandelions will pop up their beautiful yellow heads. I’m excited to cultivate them, especially their roots.

Apparently digging up dandelion roots you are never truly rid of them because a little of the root always remains and grows back. Due to my love of foraging hearing this fact is a joy to be heard because there is so much that I can do with them.

Never again will I spray these little beauties with weed killer!

VERY IMPORTANT INFORMATION:

Please note that it is illegal to dig up dandelion roots without the consent of the landowner. Take a look at my “Foraging Tips for Beginners post for more information;

http://theforagingherbalist.com/foraging-tips-for-beginners/

Other Dandelion Names and Folklore

There are so many names that the dandelion (taraxacum officinale ) is known by and some of these include;

  • Blow-Ball – This name is due to the white balls that appear when the dandelions go to seed. The seeds are whisked away by a gust of wind or perhaps blown while making a wish.
  • Lion’s Tooth -This comes from a French word “dent-de-lion” which means lion’s tooth and relates to the dandelions toothed leaves.
  • Swine’s Snout -This nickname comes from the look of the dandelion when it closes up before seeding.  Apparently when this happens the bud resembles a pig’s snout.
  • Telltime – Folklore says that time is told by seeing how many blows it takes to blow all the seeds from a dandelion seed ball. This is done by counting each blow and the total number should show the hour of the day.
  • Pissenlit This is another French name and by far the most amusing dandelion nickname. Pissenlit means pee-the-bed and the name is used because of the dandelions diuretic properties. The English country alternative is “wet the bed.”

Eating Dandelion Leaves

After washing some of the first dandelion leaves of the season I put them onto a salad. Adding my gorse pickles makes the salad a foraging feast.

Take a look at my gorse post if you want to see how to make your own gorse pickles;

http://theforagingherbalist.com/pickling-gorse-flower-buds-bach-remedies-hopelessness-gorse-syrup-gorse-pickles/

Unfortunately the dandelion leaves were too strong and bitter for my taste but I always do steer away from bitter salad leaves.

However I may need to think again. My “Hedgerow Medicine” book by Julie Bruton-Seal and Matthew Seal informs me that the bitterness of the leaves is good for the digestion. Apparently it stimulates secretion of digestive fluids so I best get used to that bitter taste with my poor digestion.

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Maybe next time I can cook and use it like spinach. Especially worth a try knowing that dandelion contains potassium, vitamins A, B and C, and are a rich source of iron.

Some of the ways that dandelion may ease the body are with regards to;

  • Cleansing because it is a powerful diurectic
  • Gastrointestinal disorders
  • Indigestion
  • Lack of appetite
  • Kidney and liver disorders
  • Muscular rheumatism
  • Stimulating the flow of bile

Dandelions and Bees

Dandelions are not only useful to us but to bees too. They help to prolong a bees life because they are one of the early spring flowers and are rich in pollen and nectar.

Making Dandelion Infused Oil

My “Hedgerow Medicine” book also inspires me to make dandelion infused oil.  I absolutely love their book series and I’m finding them invaluable.

As previously mentioned I don’t have many dandelion flowers growing in my garden. However my next door neighbours have loads growing in theirs so I don’t need to worry about the bees.

Therefore I make the oil as follows;

  1. I wash the flowers and place them into a small jar.
  2. Covering the flowers with extra virgin olive oil I ensure that there are no air pockets left.
  3. Then I cover the jar with a piece of cheesecloth and secure it with an elastic band.
  4. I leave the jar in a sunny windowsill.
  5. After a week or two the flowers lose their colour and the oil is ready to strain.

I look at the jar on a daily basis so that I can push down any dandelions that try to break the surface of the oil. This stops them turning mouldy.

I love my cheesecloth  which is lasting ages and here is a link to show what I use;

https://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/710-53481-19255-0/1?icep_id=114&ipn=icep&toolid=20004&campid=5338456669&mpre=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.ebay.co.uk%2Fitm%2FRegency-Naturals-Ultra-Fine-Cheesecloth-Cheese-Cloth-9-Square-Foot-100-Natural%2F231981197258%3Fepid%3D22011371971%26hash%3Ditem36032827ca%3Ag%3AfPgAAOSw2~Zb2t4L%26frcectupt%3Dtrue

Suggestions where the oil may support the body are with regards to;

  • Arthritis
  • Dry skin
  • Muscle aches and tension
  • Stiff neck

Add essential oils as a natural preservative. I am drawn to adding lavender because it is gentle on the skin. When taking a bath I often add lavender oil because of its gentleness and the smell relaxes me.

N.B Do not use lavender oil with psoriasis because of its ability to generate cell growth.

Review of the Oil

You can eat the dandelion oil  but I rub it onto my heals after bathing because I want to soften them. After applying I put on comfortable slipper socks because the oil is a little sticky and I don’t want to tread it everywhere.

Herbal solutions are more successful for me than the battery powered pedicure I usually use. As a result of using the battery powered pedicure my heels became a lot rougher!

My heels feel very smooth while using the dandelion infused oil. I also sometimes use the gel from the leaves of my aloe vera plants which are also more successful than the battery operated option.

Find out more about the beauty of aloe vera plants here;

http://theforagingherbalist.com/amazing-aloe-vera-plants-growing-aloe-vera-plants-burns-insect-bites-air-purifying-plant-air-purifier/

Dandelion Coffee

 

Dandelion root coffee can be a strong diuretic and therefore I am avoiding drinking this one myself due to bladder issues.

The last time I drank coffee was as a small child. What I remember most is dipping ginger nut biscuits into the coffee and making the biscuits so soggy that bits of them fell into the mug. I’m sure I’m not the only one to remember the sloppy mess in the bottom of the mug once the coffee is all drank.

Therefore I pass the dandelion coffee onto the house coffee expert to try – my husband! He is weaning himself off coffee and caffeine for health reasons. This is extremely hard for him because he loves coffee so much and I’m hoping that dandelion coffee may give him an alternative option.

I can already see more dandelions poking their heads out in the garden ready to make some more. For now I will leave the bees to enjoy them.

Making Dandelion Coffee

There are many ideas out there on the best way to make dandelion coffee. I decided to mix a few of the ideas together and came up with the following;

  1. Wash the dandelion roots as best as I can while scrubbing them with my fingers and nails under running water.
  2. Leave them in a sunny windowsill for a day to dry.
  3. Chop them up into very tiny pieces and place them onto a baking tray.
  4. Place the baking tray in a pre-heated oven at 200 degrees centigrade for 30 minutes. They smell beautiful as they roast.
  5.  Let them cool and then ground them using a pestle and mortar.
  6. Place 1 cup of water into a saucepan.
  7. Add 1-2 teaspoons of the ground root (dependent upon taste).
  8. Add a pinch of cinnamon.
  9. Bring the mixture to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes
  10. Strain into a mug using a tea strainer.
  11. Add sweetener and milk, or cream if desired. I like the idea of adding coconut milk and stevia drops.

My Husband’s Review of the Dandelion Coffee

Firstly holding his mug in both hands he inhales deeply to smell the drink. He informs me that it has a weak coffee smell, like coffee cake.

Next he drinks the coffee and smilingly reports that it had a definite coffee taste. My husband also likes the added cinnamon which he says gives it a sweeter taste and adds to its overall flavour.

Its good that the cinnamon sweetens the coffee because my husband prefers his coffee black with no sugar. He believes that adding milk to the dandelion coffee may overwhelm its flavour and it would then require more root per cup.

He especially likes the coffee being well roasted  because he likes a roasted taste.

As a result my husband would definitely like to have dandelion coffee again as a replacement.

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Cautions;
  • Don’t use in the presence of a blocked bile duct
  • Avoid while pregnant or breast feeding
  • Do not use for severe fluid retention
  • Do not take large doses if you have gallstones
  • Web MD warns   “Ragweed allergy – Dandelion can cause allergic reactions when taken by mouth or applied to the skin of sensitive people. Those allergic to ragweed and related plants (daisies, chrysanthemums, and marigolds) are likely to be allergic to dandelion. If you have allergies check with your doctor before taking dandelion.”

Be aware that you never know if you’re intolerant to something new until you try it for the first time. Therefore only try a tiny amount first and wait a day or two to check that there is no adverse reaction. 

If you have any pre-existing medical conditions or are taking any medications, always check with your doctor to ensure that using any of these suggestions don’t contradict them.

 

If you have enjoyed this post please feel free to share, comment or subscribe for future posts.

 

This post contains affiliate links

 

28887total sites visits.