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.
  2. Grate the cheese.
  3. Add the cheese, basil and toasted pine nuts to the pestle and mortar.
  4. Crush into a paste.
  5. Stir in the extra virgin olive oil.
  6. Cook the pasta as per packet instructions.
  7. Gently cook the chopped mushrooms in extra virgin olive oil and add grounded black pepper if desired.
  8. Strain the pasta and stir in the pesto sauce.
  9. 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.

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.

 

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

 

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.

 

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

 

This post contains affiliate links

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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

 

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Bramble / Blackberry Leaf Tea and Mouthwash

 

Foraging at the end of April I find early bramble leaves and they look a fantastic green in colour. To pick them I put on a pair of gardening gloves because they are prickly and sharp to the touch. Then I cut some of the leaves stalks with a pair of secateurs and place them into a bag.

The best time to pick the blackberry leaves is when they are fresh in the spring and summer. In April they are lovely and tender.

To see how I prepare for foraging take a look at my “Foraging Tips for Beginners” post.

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

The blackberry / bramble leaves are said to have astringent properties which means that they shrink or constrict body tissue. Due to this the leaves can be chewed to ease bleeding gums.

Preparing the Bramble Leaves

Holding the cut stalks on their very ends is important because this minimises pricking myself. Then snipping each leaf off the stalks with a pair of scissors I place them into a colander. I throw the prickly stalks away.

Thoroughly washing the leaves under the sink tap, I then leave the colander on the draining board to drain.

Once this is done I divide the leaves into two piles;

  • Those that I wish to keep fresh and store in the fridge for a while.
  • Those which I will dry for future use.

Drying Bramble Leaves

Placing the drained and washed leaves onto kitchen paper I leave them until they are fully dried and brittle. I  always cover drying herbs with further kitchen paper to avoid them being covered in dust during the drying process.

I have asked my husband to make me a herb drier because he is very handy with DIY. In the meantime this process works fine for me.

After about a week the leaves are brittle and ready.  I crumble them into a brown paper bag and store them away until needed. I use inexpensive brown paper grocery bags like these;

Brown Paper Food Bags

Labelling the bag I add the date I store them because dried herbs are best used within 12 months.  I also add the dried herbs possible  uses and dosages on another label.

Storing the dried leaves in an airtight container is another option. If using this option they need to be put inside a cupboard away from direct sunlight.

Here are some of the leaves that I dried last year

My existing dried leaves came from foraging for blackberries and their leaves last August. I make blackberry oxymel with the blackberries using honey and vinegar. Drinking a dessertspoonful of the oxymel in a cup of boiling water has helped to stave off a few colds during the winter months.

Look out and subscribe for future posts so that I can share what I do with the blackberries later in the year.

Making Bramble Leaf Tea

I make bramble leaf tea with fresh or dried herb. The general rule is to use twice as much fresh herb as dried herb to make an infusion. Infusing extracts the plants flavour and chemical compounds into the water.

I make a mug of tea using fresh herb by;

  1. Bringing 300ml of water to the boil. Personally I prefer bottled water for herbal preparations and cooking. Having digestion problems I avoid anything which may irritate my condition. For that reason I avoid the aluminium found in tap water as much as possible. This is just my personal choice due to my health condition.
  2.  Adding 25g fresh herb (12.5g dried herb) to the water. I use electronic scales to weigh the blackberry leaves because this gives an accurate reading.
  3.  Covering the mug with a plate I infuse for 15 minutes.
  4.  Straining away the herb I drink as often as required.

When the tea is ready it has a slight green tinge.

Cupping the mug between both hands I inhale deeply and notice a slight smell of blackberries. Tasting the tea I also notice a slightly sweet blackberry taste.

I like to sweeten my herbal teas further with stevia or honey.

Some of the suggestions where the tea may help the body to support itself are for;

  • Colds
  • Diarrhoea
  • Flu and fevers
  • General Health
  • Gingivitis
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Sore throats and throat irritation
  • Topically as a wash for wounds

 

Making a Bramble Mouthwash

I also make a mouthwash with the fresh bramble leaves because it is claimed to help fasten loose teeth. Having gingival recession this sounded worth a try.

Gingival recession is also known as receding gums where the roots of the teeth are exposed and can cause very sensitive teeth. I worry about tooth loss because of a couple of wonky and wobbly front teeth.

To make the blackberry leaf mouthwash I make double strength tea by;

  1. Adding 35g of fresh leaves (17.5g dried herb) to 200ml of boiling water.
  2. Covering the mixture with a plate to infuse for 15 minutes.
  3. Straining the liquid into a plastic cup or bottle.
  4. Leaving the cup on the side to cool.
  5. Covering the cup with clingfilm.
  6.  Placing the cup in the fridge until required.

I only make 200ml because teas and infusions are recommended to be used within 24 hours. This is because microbes multiply in water quickly. Microbes are bacteria, viruses, algae, fungi, and protozoa.

Therefore I use the mouthwash the evening it has been made, then the following morning and evening. Keeping it in the fridge between each use.

Some of the suggestions for the mouthwash to support the body are with regards to;

  • Fastening loose teeth
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Spongy, bleeding or inflamed gums
  • Tongue sores

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Important Note:

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

19710total sites visits.