Stately Silver Birch (Betula Pendula)

Carrying on with my love of trees I now turn my attention to the silver birch. Also known as the European birch this majestic tree is very beautiful with its drooping twigs. The European name does not surprise me because the tree is native throughout the UK and Europe.

Silver birch is deciduous which means that it sheds its leaves annually.  

Bark, leaves and the sap of a silver birch tree have uses but I just use the leaves. You can find silver birch in woodland, heaths and moors. In fact my leaves came from the edge of a woodland. Silver birch trees like dry, sandy and peaty soils.

 

Identification

Firstly identify silver birch by looking at its very characteristic bark. The white and scaly bark is white all year round. Its also very papery and when it becomes old it will develop dark fissures.

The “silver” part of the name first came from Alfred Lord Tennyson in one of his poems.

The leaves are a triangular-shape with double-toothed edges. This means that the leaves have small, marginal teeth or serrations between the main veins but then also have smaller teeth between these.

I use a pocket book for tree identification and its fantastic. Its simply called “trees” by Alastair Fitter and David More and I can easily carry it around while foraging. I’m finding it so exciting to be able to identify the trees around me! Whatever the time of year it is does not matter because it describes bark, leaves, catkins, flowers, cones, seeds and flowers.

If you would like to take a look for yourself here is a link;

 

Making a Silver Birch Leaf Tea

I dry a few leaves and store them away for making tea. Picking a few leaves from a tree I bring them home and wash them. Next I spread them onto kitchen roll and place them somewhere safe to dry for a week or two. I also cover them with further kitchen roll because this stops them from collecting dust while drying.

To make the tea I do the following;

  1. Boil a cup of water.
  2. Add 1 teaspoon of dried leaves.
  3. Cover the cup with a plate and leave to infuse for 15 minutes.
  4. Sieve, throw away the leaves and drink.

Drink one wineglass full of the tea 3 times per day as required.

Uses of the Tea

Silver birch tea may support the body with regards to;

  • Gout
  • Kidney and bladder complaints and this includes kidney stones
  • Rheumatism
  • Sore mouth
  • Young leaves may increase the flow of urine

Cautions

Do not give silver birch to children or anyone allergic to aspirin because it contains aspirin.

Magic and Mythology

Here are some interesting findings;

  • Some magical herbalists use birch wands for purification and blessings.
  • A witch’s broom is traditionally made with a hazel wood handle and a head of birch twigs.
  • In Celtic mythology the silver birch is a sacred tree symbolising new beginnings and protection. In fact tradition shows lighting Beltane fires using birch twigs and making May poles from silver birch. Beltane is the Gaelic May Day Festival marking the start of summer and new beginnings. Celebrations are traditionally on 1st May which is halfway between spring equinox and summer solstice.
  • Another traditional use of birch twigs is where people use bundles of the twigs to drive out spirits from the old year.
  • Being a symbol of fertility is probably why birch is dedicated to Thor the god of thunder and fertility. Due to this symbol Scottish Highland folklore tells of herding a barren cow with a birch stick to make it fertile.
  • There is a  tradition of hanging silver birch bows on Midsummer’s Eve to guard and bring good luck.
  • Some gardener’s still use birch brooms to purify their gardens by using them to sweep away unwanted influences and negative energy.

 

Finally

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

 

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Enchanting Elderflowers (Sambucus Nigra)

Late May to June is the best time to pick elderflowers from an elder tree. I make sure that I only pick a few of these beauties for my own use. Furthermore I only take a small number of flower heads from different trees because this ensures that their beauty isn’t spoiled for others.

When the berries form I pick them too because I make a concoction which really does seem to keep colds and flu at bay. I will share this when I forage for them late summer to early autumn time.

Elders are shrubs or small trees which grow in woodland, scrub, hedgerows and wasteland.

To identify the elders I look at the leaves, flowers or berries. The leaves are dark green and slightly toothed. They are pinnate and this means that the leaflets are arranged on either side of the stem. Typically in 2 -3 pairs opposite each other.

The elderflowers themselves are umbels of numerous tiny cream-white flowers as shown in the above picture. The flat-topped clusters have tiny sweet-smelling flowers.

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

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

 

Preparing the Flowers

Getting home I shake the flowers to remove any insects which may still be lurking.

Next I very briefly rinse them in cold water because washing the flowers too much will remove most of their fragrance.

The flowers can be used fresh but I decided to dry them on this occasion. To do this I leave the flower heads on kitchen roll for a week or two to dry out. I personally also like to cover them with further kitchen roll to avoid them getting dusty.

Once dried I remove the flower heads by rubbing them between my fingers or by using a fork. Finally I store them in brown paper bags and label them with name, expiry dates, uses, dosages and how to prepare the tea.

I put an expiry date on which is one year on from the date of storing my dried herbs.

Uses for Elderberry Flowers

I am storing some of mine for tea and making an elderberry cordial with the rest. Other uses include making elderflower sparkling wine and elderflower fritters. Using fresh flowers for flavouring wine, liqueur, syrup, jellies and desserts are other options.

Caution

The flowers and berries are the only edible part of the elder tree. They both require cooking before use because this removes the small amounts of toxic chemicals.

 

Elderberry Tea

How I make elderberry tea using dried flowers;

  1. Place two teaspoons of dried flowers into a cup of boiling water.
  2. Cover the cup with a plate and infuse for 15 minutes.
  3. Strain and drink.

Drink 1/2-1 cup every two hours for acute conditions.

Uses of the hot tea

  • To excite and stimulate
  • Encourages sweating at the early stages of fever. This supports breaking the fever and the early stages of colds and influenza.

Internal uses of the cold tea

  • Laxative and sedative

External uses for the cold tea

May support the body with regards to;

  • Soothing chapped hands
  • Cooling sunburn
  • Chillblains
  • Eyestrain, conjunctivitis and twitching by soaking cotton wool pads in the cold tea and applying them to the closed eyelids
  • A face wash for oily skins
  • An aftershave for men

Elderflower tincture may support the body with regards to respiratory infections. This is because it stops bacteria sticking to the walls of the lungs and throat.

Elderberry Cordial

I thank Richard Mabey and his book” Food for Free” for inspiring me to make my very first elderflower cordial. All I needed was;

  • 750ml of water – I use bottled water to avoid the chemicals in tap water.
  • 10 elderflower heads
  • 2lb of granulated sugar
  • Grated rind and slices of a lemon and/or a orange. I use a lemon because I’m intolerant to oranges.

How I interpret the recipe;

  1. Bring the bottled water to the boil.
  2. Add the sugar and stir until it has all dissolved.
  3. Put the lemon (or orange) slices, peel, sugar, and elderflower heads into a large Pyrex bowl.
  4. Cover the bowl with a frying splash guard because this keeps any insects away.
  5. Leave for 24 hours, stirring occasionally.
  6. Sieve into a jug through cheesecloth and throw the flowers, peel and rind away.
  7. Pour the cordial into screw top glass bottles. I use old cider vinegar bottles which are perfect for the job.
  8. Keep bottles in a refrigerator and use within 6 months. The cordial can also be poured into ice cube trays. I do this when I make Persian oxymel of mint and vinegar.

I love Richard Mabey’s “Food for Free” because the pocket sized version is ideal to take when I go foraging. It includes drawings to identify the plants, advises what to pick and when, and has some great recipes.

Take a look at this link if you want to try the book for yourself;


Adding ice cold bottled water to the cordial gives me a very refreshing drink. Its like drinking summer in a glass!

Elder Leaf Ointment / Salve

I also made a elder leaf and safflower oil salve inspired by Julie Bruton-Seal and Matthew Seal’s “Hedgerow Medicine”.

I love their books which have great illustrations for identification, brilliant recipes to try and loads of useful information about the herbs themselves. Here is a link to “Hedgerow Medicine” if you wish to take a look;


For my safflower twist on the elder leaf salve, I make as follows;

  1. Wash a handful of leaves.
  2. When the water evaporates roughly chop the leaves.
  3. On a medium heat warm up 125ml of safflower oil in a pan.
  4. When simmering add the leaves and continue to simmer until they turn crisp. They look and feel a little like crispy seaweed when they are ready.
  5. Remove from the heat and strain the oil into a jug using a tea strainer and throw away the crispy leaves.
  6. Return the oil to the pan and adding 17g of beeswax stir until it melts.
  7. Leave the pan to cool slightly.
  8. Pour the oil into containers and label with name, expiry date, ingredients and uses. I date my salves expiry date for a years time.

The colours of these salves are amazing and this one turned out a beautiful yellowy green.

Uses for the salve:

  • Bruises
  • Chilblains – These are are small, itchy swellings on the skin that occur as a reaction to cold temperatures.
  • Sprains

To find out why I like to use safflower oil take a look at my “Marshmallow and Safflower Oil Salve – Amazing Natural Anti-Itch Cream!” post.

http://theforagingherbalist.com/marshmallow-and-safflower-oil-ointment-boils-abscess-ulcer-old-wound-eczema-rough-skin-itching-relief-for-insect-bites-eczema-and-lichen-planus-marsgmallow-root-beeswax-for-salves/

Elder Folklore, Legend and Magic

Magically elder is used for purification, love and is often associated with witches.

The elder’s berries and leaves are thrown to the four winds for protection. It is also said that witches can turn themselves into elder trees and that their wands are often made from elder wood. Some use elder wands for exorcisms.

There are also many folk names for the elder which include;

  • Devil’s eye perhaps because mythology says that planting elder by your house keeps the devil away.
  • Hollunder because “holunder” in German translates to “elder” in English.
  • Ellhorn because this is the ancient term for elder wood. In fact Harry Potter fans may remember the dark wizard Godelot calling the elder wand his “moste wicked and subtle friend…who knowes ways to magick moste evile.”
  • Pipe tree because of using the hollow stems of the elder branches to blow on a fire and keep it burning.
  • Sweet elder because this is the name for the common elder of central and eastern North America.
  • Tree of doom is the elder’s name in many Christian myths. This is because its often said that the tree of Jesus’s cross ,and the tree that Judas hung himself on, were both made from elder wood.
  • Lady elder, old lady and old gal because of the Elder-tree Mother who folklore says lives in the elder tree and watches over it. Legend says that woods should not be cut without her permission or punishment will follow.

 

Finally

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

 

49397total sites visits.

 

The Striking Sweet Chestnut Tree (Castanea Sativa)

On a recent walk I found several plants to forage including the sweet chestnut tree. This is a beautiful tree and produces some of the longest leaves you can find on Britain’s trees.

Also known as the Spanish chestnut this tree is found in woods and copses. Especially growing on light sandy soils. There is even one growing near me beside a path. Its no good for foraging though because heavy traffic passes it daily and therefore their toxic emissions will cover it.

In Roman times the sweet chestnuts were relied upon for its nuts which were ground and used for flour.

 

Wildlife

Bees and other insects love the nectar of the flowers. I also found this beautiful blue tit nestling within a sweet chestnut’s branches.

The nuts of the trees are important food for squirrels,  jays, pigeons, wild boar and deer.

Identification

Its the leaves that I use on this occasion but the bark and fruits have uses too.

The leaves are very striking and easy to recognise. They are beautifully glossy, narrow and dark green in colour with sharply-toothed edges.

The above photograph also shows the male flowers. They are known as catkins and are cylindrical flowering spikes of wind-pollinated flowers.

The bark of the sweet chestnut tree is also striking. It has deep, spiral, parallel ridges and they tend to twist sharply near the ground.

I recently bought a book simply called “Trees” published by Collins Gem. I’m very keen to find out as much as I can about trees because I’m hoping to move near a woodland area soon.

This “Trees” book is great because its pocket sized and therefore goes foraging with me. Its also inexpensive and contains all you need to know to enable you to identify trees in Northern Europe.

Take a look at this link to find out more;

 

If you are new to foraging or fancy giving it a try take a look at my “Foraging Tips for Beginners” post;

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

Preparing Sweet Chestnut Leaves after Foraging

Returning home from foraging I take my herbs outside. Next I open the bags containing the different herbs and leave them on my garden table for a couple of hours. I do this because it allows some of the insects to leave which may still remain on or in the herbs.

Bringing the herbs inside I wash them as well and when the water has evaporated they are ready to use.

Sweet Chestnut Decoction

My first forage for sweet chestnut leaves was last year while searching for supportive help for my husband’s chronic coughing.

From the leaves I make a decoction because it does seem to ease his symptoms a little. A decoction is basically a way to extract a herbs properties by boiling it in water.

How I make a sweet chestnut decoction;

  1. Roll the fresh leaves and shred them with a knife or a pair of scissors.
  2. Measure two teaspoons of the shredded leaves per cup of bottled water.
  3. Place the leaves and water into a saucepan then bring it to the boil.
  4. Simmer for 5 minutes.
  5. Strain and drink.

Drink 1/2-1 cup as required.

 

Sweet Chestnut Tincture

Although the decoction helps my husband a little, this time around I’m making a tincture as well. This is because I want to see if the tincture is more effective

I make the tincture as follows;

  1. Use electronic scales to weigh 1/2 oz of leaves.
  2. Measure 1/2 pint / 10oz of vodka into a Pyrex jug.
  3. Roll and shred the leaves in the same way as making the tea above.
  4. Place the shredded leaves into a glass jar which has a lid.
  5. Pour over the vodka covering the leaves.
  6. Put the lid on the jar and label with tincture name, ingredients, and preparation date.
  7. Store in a cupboard away from sunlight to macerate for 8 days. This will soften the leaves and absorb its properties into the liquid.
  8. After 8 days using a sieve strain the liquid into a fresh jar and discard the leaves.
  9. Label the new jar with tincture name, preparation date, ingredients, uses and dosages.

Tinctures made with alcohol have a long shelf life and I look at using them within two years.

Furthermore with tinctures patience is required because you need to start with a low dose and increase slowly if required.

Example dosages are;

  • As a tonic take 5 drops to 1 teaspoon once a day.
  • Standard dose take 1 teaspoon 3 times a day.
  • For acute conditions take 1 teaspoon 6 times a day.

Take a look at my “Herbal Preparation Dosages” post for more information on why getting dosages right is important;

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

Caution

Tinctures should not be used for those with alcohol intolerance or a history of alcoholism.

Uses

Here are some ways that the sweet chestnut leaves may help to support the body with regards to ;

  • Bronchitis
  • Dry and violent spasmodic coughs
  • Whooping cough
  • A gargle for a sore throat when making a decoction of the leaves
  • Diarrhoea
  • Polymyalgia and this is inflammation which causes stiffness in the muscles around the shoulders, neck and hips
  • Rheumatic conditions to ease lower back pain, stiff joints and muscles
  • Copius catarrh because of its tightening of the mucous membranes

Sweet Chestnut and Safflower Salve

I love to make salves / ointments and sweet chestnut gives me another opportunity to do this. It also leaves me with a salve which is a beautiful green in colour.

How I make my sweet chestnut salve;

  1. Put a good handful of shredded sweet chestnut leaves into a small 500ml saucepan.
  2. Pour in safflower oil covering the leaves.
  3. Heat gently for 30 minutes.
  4. Strain the liquid into a measuring jug using a sieve. Ensure to squeeze as much of the precious liquid from the leaves as possible.
  5. Then add beeswax in a measurement of 1:10 – measuring the liquid at 3oz I therefore add 0.3oz of beeswax.
  6. Melt and stir the beeswax into the liquid.
  7. Let the salve cool slightly.
  8. Pour into pots to set.

I use safflower oil because of it is high linoleic acid content which is said to be nourishing to the skin.

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;

 

Uses for the Sweet Chestnut and Safflower Oil Salve

The salve may support the body with regards to;

  • Boils
  • Cuts
  • Grazes
  • Skin Infections
  • Pimples

I thank Julie Bruton-Seal and Matthew Seal for their book “Wayside Medicine” because they inspired me to make this salve, but with my safflower oil twist.

I love their books which have great illustrations for identification, brilliant recipes to try and loads of useful information about the herbs themselves. Here is a link to “Wayside Medicine” if you wish to take a look;

 Sweet Chestnut Bud Bach Remedy

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 sweet chestnut bud remedy is for despair and hopelessness, when there seems no way out of a situation. It is also for people who are slow to learn because they lack interest, and fail to learn from their mistakes.

The essence may help people to keep their attention focused on the present, become attentive and more observant to nurture learning.

 

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

 

49397total sites visits.

 

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.

Take a look for yourself;

 

Web Hosting

 

This post contains affiliate links

 

49397total sites visits.

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 17g 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, lupus 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;

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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

 

49397total sites visits.