#ELDERBERRY# START: ELDERBERRIES ARE BURSTING WITH GOODNESS AT THIS TIME OF YEAR. HERE IS A DESCRIPTION OF THE TREE WITH A RECIPE ON HOW TO USE THE BERRIES: (SAMBUCUS NIGRA) Family; Adoxaceae (caprifoliaceae) Temperament; drying & cooling Parts used: Berries when deep purple and ripe Description: It is a deciduous shrub or small tree growing to 6m (20 ft) tall and wide (rarely 10m tall). The bark, light grey when young, changes to a coarse grey outer bark with lengthwise furrowing. The leaves are arranged in opposite pairs, 10-30 cm long, pinnate with five to seven (rarely nine) leaflets, the leaflets 5-12 cm long and 3-5 cm broad, with a serrated margin. The hermaphrodite flowers are borne in large, flat corymbs 10-25 cm diameter in late spring to mid-summer, the individual flowers ivory white, 5-6 mm diameter, with five petals; they are pollinated by flies. The fruit is a glossy dark purple to black berry 3-5 mm diameter, produced in drooping clusters in late autumn. Actions; the berries are rich in vitamin A & C. They are diuretic, laxative and promote sweating. Dose; see winter rob recipe Use; Elderberries taken as a winter tonic or/and at the onset of a cold is one of the best preventatives known against the advance of influenza and the ill effects of a cold. Taken hot at night it is a good remedy for promoting perspiration in the early stages of severe catarrh, accompanied by shivering and sore throat etc. Caution/drug interactions; raw and unripe fruit in excess can cause nausea and diarrhoea. Avoid or talk to your healthcare professional if you are taking medications for autoimmune diseases as elderberries stimulate the immune system. ELDERBERRY WINTER ROB A rob is a fruit or vegetable juice that is thickened by simmering. 4 mugs of ripe elderberries removed from their stalks (easiest way to de stalk them is to use a fork) 300g honey 1 tsp cinnamon powder 1 cm ginger grated (or 1tsp dried ginger powder) 5 cloves 1 star anise 1. Put into a pan the elderberries, honey and spices 2. Simmer gently until the juices are thick like honey 3. Strain and bottle whilst hot. This should keep all winter, keep in the fridge. Dose; 1 or 2 tbsp to a cup of hot water. Take as needed. Indications; to bring warmth to the body, to promote perspiration, for coughs, colds and flu. End:
#MULLIEN Verbascum Thapsus# Start: I found this beautiful, tall flowering plant up a path from my field towards the forest. I first noticed it growing last year, in its first season, when I spotted a rosette of large, grey green , soft, hairy leaves. So soft to the touch, like rabbit ears. I have been waiting and watching it grow to its magnificent height. Now the yellow flowers are just beginning to open up along its flowering spike. Ones of its many old names is the candlewick plant. This is not just due to its shape but more to do with the down on its leaves and stem making an excellent tinder when dry, readily igniting on the slightest spark. It was used for lamp wicks before the introduction of cotton. Mullien is said to be under the influence of Saturn, having a cold temperament and belonging to the earth humour. It grows in dry places and its leaves are arranged so as to guide rain water towards its roots. Constituents: mucilage, flavonoids such as verbascoside, hesperidin,glycosides, saponins, volatile oil and tannins. Parts used: Flowers and leaves Actions: expectorant, demulcent, diuretic, emollient, vulnerary. Uses: Mullien is used for chest complaints like bronchitis, catarrh, whooping cough, asthma, emphysema, wet pleurisy and hoarseness. Mullien flowers have a broad balancing effect on pulmonary function. Saponins have an effect on the respiratory system; a stimulating expectoration brought about by reflex stimulation of the stomach wall. It is an emetic-expectorant with saponin constituent. Taken in sub-emetic doses, the emetic action is sublimated to a reflex-stimulating expectoration. The leaves can be applied fresh to piles or the oil can be applied as an emollient to wounds, ulcers or piles. The flowers macerated in olive oil for several days make an excellent remedy for ear ache and eczema of the outer ear. Harvest the leaves before the plant flowers and harvest the flowers individually. The leaves and flowers can be dried. When using the leaves as a tea make sure that the tea is filtered well to avoid the little hairs causing irritation. Straining through a muslin cloth and coffee filter paper helps. Doses; 50g dried herb to 500ml water, infuse 15 minutes drinking 1/2 to 1 cup three times a day. End:
Rose (Rosa spp.) – for this potion you need to pick the petals from the wild rose, of which there are several types, and fragerant garden roses. Obviously do not use roses which have been sprayed. This cough medicine tastes like Turkish delight and its wonderful to watch the remedy turn from a clear liquid to deep pink liquid as you make it. This remedy is prepared in the workshop but continued at home, where you remove the old faded petals and replace them with fresh petals, for about 2 weeks. Then it is ready. The more pinker your added petals are, the deeper the end results are. This sweet, tasty medicine is great for children with dry, tickly coughs. The children fill their jars with rose petals, then simply add the right ratio of glycerine( I use a plant based glycerine) to water and then leave for up to two weeks, adding new petals every few days, before straining and bottling.
Elderflower (sambucus nigra) starts to appear in our hedgerows, gardens and woods from the end of May. In old folklore it is believed that to smell the blossoms of Elderflower on Midsummers eve would enable you to see the Fairy king & queen. The elder is an important tree to us herbalists, even being described as a whole medicine chest, as its flowers, berries, bark, root bark, leaves, shoots and seeds can be used. But in this workshop it is the flowers we are using. The flowers are very beneficial to anyone suffering from a cold or hayfever and they make a tasty drink. But drink the homemade drink within a few days or it starts to ferment and then turns into an alcoholic elderflower fizz! If you make too much, you can freeze the excess to have another time. The children put a few flower heads, shaken free of bugs, into their jars. Then they added lemon rind, lemon juice, sugar and apple cider vinegar (white wine vinegar can also be used). The mixture is stirred, then left for 24 hours. We strained some elderflower drink that I had made the day before and drank it. Delicious!
Despite the recent weather, Summer is approaching and one of the first signs of Summer is the blooms of Elderflowers & wild roses just starting to fill our hedgerows with colour and scent. Just in perfect time for my Lotions & Potions kids herbal workshop, which was a great success. Thank you to all the budding young alchemists, witches and wizards who took part. I am sure most of us remember as children the fun times we had making up potions in the back yard, with anything that we found growing. Taking great delight in mixing the ingredients with water, smelling the mixture, then leaving it in its jar until it all turned brown and slimy. Well this workshop showed the children (and their parents) which plants can be made safely into useful potions and the children took home recipes of their particular potion, so as it make more at home. There was a choice of lavender bath bombs, rose cough syrup, daisy bruise ointment or elderflower drink to make and take home. Take a look at the following sections to this workshop to see the potions being made.
: When we get back to the house we go into the filed to dig up yellow dock (rumex crispus), dandelion (taraxacum officinalis) and burdock (arctium lappa) roots. Between them they have blood cleansing, lymphatic, liver, bitter, laxative and diuretic actions. A great combination for a spring detox. As with all plants, its important to know what the plant you are harvesting looks like and where it grows. When you come to dig up roots, like burdock, its important to know that you have the correct plant as come spring it will be hard to see where the plant is located as nothing of it is showing yet. I always mark out where the plant is in the summer/autumn when it is in full growth. The roots need to be clean and dry. So they need a good wash and then left to dry. Once dry they can be chopped up ready to be put in your fresh spring tincture. Below are some photo’s of nettles, cleavers, dandelion roots and yellow dock roots being prepared and made into a tincture.