And Finally, Herbal Folklore & Old-Fashioned Tips

 

HERBAL FOLKLORE AND OLD-FASHIONED TIPS

NATURAL REMEDIES WITH HERBS

We all know that herbs make great companions in the garden and kitchen. Herbs also have a long history as a natural remedy—and many other more unusual uses, too! Read on…

Anise
Romans paid taxes with anise, and it was used in cough drops.

Anise seed steeped in milk is said to be a sleep-producing drink, but it is also quite likely that the warm milk alone would do the trick.

Basil
Precious to lovers in Italy and considered sacred in India. Many years ago, Italian men wore a sprig of basil to indicate their intended marriage. A cup of basil tea after dinner helps digestion. Ease a headache by drinking tomato juice blended with fresh basil.

Borage
The Romans believed the herb to be an antidepressant, and ancient Celtic warriors took it for courage.

Caraway
Caraway was used to scent perfumes and soaps. The Greeks used it for upset stomachs.

Chervil
Eating a whole plant would cure hiccups; chervil was said to warm old and cold stomachs.

Chives
Bunches of chives hung in your home were used to drive away diseases and evil.

Dill
Romans made wreaths and garlands out of dill. Dill keeps witches away.

Fennel
Bunches of fennel were used to drive off witches. It was used in love potions and as an appetite suppressant.

Garlic
It was thought to give strength and courage. Aristotle noted garlic’s use as a guard against the fear of water. It’s also been widely used against evil powers.

Lovage
Chewing on a piece of the dried root will keep you awake. Lovage warms a cold stomach and help digestion. Added to bathwater, it was believed to relieve skin problems.

Marjoram
The Greeks believed it could revive the spirits of anyone who inhaled it. At weddings wreaths and garlands were made of marjoram.

Mint
It was believed to cure hiccups and counteract sea-serpent stings. The Romans wore peppermint wreaths on their heads. It was added to bathwater for its fragrance.

Oregano
Used for “sour humours” that plagued old farmers. Also used for scorpion and spider bites.

Parsley
Used for wreaths and in funeral ceremonies. Believed to repel head lice and attract rabbits.

Rosemary
Rosemary in your hair will improve your memory. It will protect you from evil spirits if you put a sprig under your pillow.

Sage
Thought to promote strength and longevity and believed to cure warts. American Indians used it as a toothbrush.

Summer Savory
It was believed to be an aphrodisiac. Some thought it was a cure for deafness.

Tarragon
Put in shoes before long walking trips to give strength. It has been used to relieve toothache and as an antifungal.

Thyme
Burning thyme gets rid of insects in your house. A bed of thyme was thought to be a home for fairies.

Anyone who has sage planted in the garden is reputed to do well in business.

 

The Old Farmer’s Almanac

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The Old Farmer’s Almanac for Mar. 28:

 

FLOWERS YOU CAN EAT

But did you know that the flowers of hundreds of common wild and cultivated plants are edible? Yes, there are many flowers that you can eat!

But did you know that the flowers of hundreds of common wild and cultivated plants are edible? Dressing up your soups, salads, drinks, and desserts with buds and flowers will add color, diversity, and new flavor to your meals. Adventurous folks might also want to explore some of the traditional medicinal uses of common flowers.

When preparing most flowers (exceptions: squash, violets, and nasturtiums) for food or beverage, use only the petals for best flavor. Remove the sepals, as well as the pistils and stamens.

FAVORITE EDIBLE FLOWERS

  • Nasturtium sits at the top of my list. It’s easy to grow from seed, indoors or out, and every above-ground part is edible. Its buds and delicate, voluptuous blossoms spice up a bland salad or cooked vegetable platter. Nasturtium leaves and flowers are rich in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds, and have a long history of medicinal use in indigenous cultures for urinary-tract, cardiovascular, and respiratory disorders. Extracts of this cabbage-family relative are currently under investigation as possible treatments for many diseases, including antibiotic-resistant infections.
  • Daylily  Harvested fresh, the plump buds and meaty flowers of this common garden plant are delicious sauteed in a little oil or butter, then seasoned with salt and pepper. Some people stuff the just-opened blossom with a favorite stuffing mix, then saute the stuffed flowers in a little oil or poach them in broth. Use only freshly harvested buds/flowers.
  • Violets I’ve already written about my love of the irrepressible wild violets that pop up all over my lawns and gardens. Give it a read, and tend your lawn violets with care!
  • Roses The darker-colored, more aromatic the variety the more flavor it will have. Strew rose petals across a fresh salad, brew them into tea, or use the entire blossoms to decorate a cake.
  • Sunflowers Carefully separate the petals and sprinkle them into salads. For a real treat, harvest the unopened buds, remove the sepals, and steam the buds until tender. Meaty and filling, they taste like artichoke. Mmm!
  • Chamomile Dried or fresh, chamomile tea is renowned as a safe and gentle calming and sleep-promoting agent. It’s readily available in stores (buy flowers in bulk), and easy to grow in the home garden.
  • Calendula A lovely and easy-to-grow annual flower, calendula petals will add color and spice to just about any cooked or fresh dish. Carefully remove the petals and toss them into salad, stir-fries, or your favorite rice dishes.

Calendula flowers are renowned for skin care and healing. You’ll find calendula listed as an ingredient in many high-end skincare products and healing creams.

Here’s a nice recipe for homemade calendula oil or cream: Pull the petals from enough dried or fresh calendula blossoms to give you a cup. Add petals to a cup of olive oil in a large glass jar with a lid; seal and leave in a sunny window or outside for a week or two. After straining out the petals, you can use the oil as is, or heat it in a double boiler with ¼ cup of melted beeswax to make a spreadable cream.

 

Some caveats

  • Never eat a flower you can’t identify with absolute certainty and know to be safe.
  • Don’t eat commercially grown flowers or flowers that came from a florist; they could have been sprayed.
  • Don’t forage wild flowers on treated lawns or along well-traveled roadways (possibility of chemical contamination).
  • Introduce a new edible flower or floral tea slowly and gradually, especially if you have a serious ragweed or other pollen allergy. On your first try, take a few deep sniffs, then only a bite or two.
  • Because flowers may contain powerful phytocompounds (which confer their healing virtues, as well as their flavors and colors), check with your healthcare professional before eating edible flowers if you’re pregnant or taking prescription drugs.

ABOUT THIS BLOG

“Living Naturally” is all about living a naturally healthy lifestyle. Margaret Boyles covers health tips, ways to avoid illness, natural remedies, food that’s good for body and soul, recipes for homemade beauty products, ideas to make your home a healthy and safe haven, and the latest news on health. Our goal is also to encourage self-sufficiency, whether it’s relearning some age-old skills or getting informed on modern improvements that help us live better, healthier lives.

 

Source

The Old Farmer’s Almanac

The Old Farmer’s Almanac for Mar. 28: CALENDULA: BEAUTIFUL FLOWERS THAT HEAL

 

CALENDULA: BEAUTIFUL FLOWERS THAT HEAL

If you have a garden, I hope you grow the beautiful annual flower calendula.

Calendula self-sows readily in the garden if you allow a few flower heads to fall to the ground (or you can harvest and dry the mature flowers, save the seeds, and plant them where you want them next spring). Its flowers are edible, and its long use as a cooking herb gives the flower its common name pot marigold. Adding calendula flowers to cooked foods (grains, casseroles, breads, even desserts) gives them a lovely yellow color.

The flowers also have a long history of use for healing, especially for wounds, inflammations of the skin, mouth, and mucous membranes, and sunburns. You’ll find extracts of calendula in many cosmetics, hair-care, and baby-care products, too.

When you harvest the blooms or handle the plants, a sticky, resinous substance with a distinctive, fruity fragrance clings to your fingers. Herbalists say these plant resins are partly responsible for the plant’s healing power.

HOW TO MAKE CALENDULA TEA/WASH, OIL, OR SALVE

Most calendula medicinals begin with a supply of fresh or dried flowers. If you’re not growing your own, buy dried flowers intended for human use.

  • To make a tea that soothes internal mucous membranes, add calendula flowers to water in a ratio of a tablespoon of fresh or two teaspoons of dried flowers to a cup of water. Bring to a boil and simmer or allow to steep for 10 minutes. You can either drink the tea or use it as a soothing wash for sunburns, rashes, or sores. Refrigerate for up to a week any tea you don’t use right away.
  • To make calendula oil/lotion, fill a sterilized glass jar (of any size) with dried calendula flowers and cover the flowers with a high quality oil: olive, almond, or grapeseed work well. Cover the jar and let it sit in a cool, dark place for four to six weeks, shaking or stirring occasionally. Strain the plant material from the oil using two or three layers of cheesecloth, and refrigerate the oil until ready for use. You can rub the oily cheesecloth bag holding the spent flowers onto face or hands as a moisturizer. To help prevent the oil from going rancid, add two or three drops of benzoin essential oil or half a teaspoon of tincture of benzoin per half cup of oil, along with a few drops of rosemary or lavender oil.
  • To make a healing salve, add three or four teaspoons of melted beeswax per half cup of warmed oil in a double boiler, and stir well until the mixture begins to cool. Pour it into a suitable glass or metal container and seal. If the salve is too hard, reheat it and add a bit more oil; if it’s too runny, add a bit more beeswax.

ABOUT THIS BLOG

“Living Naturally” is all about living a naturally healthy lifestyle. Margaret Boyles covers health tips, ways to avoid illness, natural remedies, food that’s good for body and soul, recipes for homemade beauty products, ideas to make your home a healthy and safe haven, and the latest news on health. Our goal is also to encourage self-sufficiency, whether it’s relearning some age-old skills or getting informed on modern improvements that help us live better, healthier lives.

 

Source

The Old Farmer’s Almanac

Making Herbal Salves

Making Herbal Salves

 

Making herbal salves at home is easy and they can provide better results than over-the-counter medications. Mainly used externally, herbal salves are most efficacious in the treatment of skin wounds, infections, and irritations.

Herbal Salve Basics

While grinding your own fresh herbs produces the best result you may also purchase dried herbs in bulk or in capsule form. If you opt for using the latter form, break apart the capsules to release the powered herb.

Use a small dish to contain the herbs and mix them with mineral water, petroleum jelly, or Aloe vera juice. Petroleum jelly is an excellent choice since it is thicker and will stay in place when you spread it on the skin. Aloe juice is a good choice for penetrating salves because it will carry the herbs into the inflamed or swollen muscles and joints.

Virgin olive oil may ever be employed as an emulsifying agent. However, when using Aloe juice or either of the oils adding slippery elm is a good idea. This herb will thicken the mixture so it won?t be so runny.

Consistency

In making herbal salves consistency and homogeneity are crucial. To this end mix the herbs with a small portion of the liquid or jelly at a time. This will ensure a uniform saturation of the active ingredients. Also, you can better control the consistency so your finished medication won?t be too thin and not adhere to the skin.

Comfrey Salve

When you have kids at home with their penchant for getting cuts and scrapes comfrey salve is a very useful all-around ointment to keep in stock. Comfrey is an herb that accelerates the repair of damaged tissues. Wounds will close more quickly and scarring will be minimized. Mix the ground comfrey with petroleum jelly for best results. Also, add a pinch of goldenseal to prevent infection from occurring. Comfrey also relieves pain and has general tissue soothing properties.

Hemorrhoid Relief

If hemorrhoids are a problem concoct a salve by mixing Aloe Vera juice, Goldenseal, and white willow or white oak bark. The goldenseal will treat inflammation and the white willow bark will ameliorate the discomfort. Aloe juice will speed absorption into the tissues. Insert the salve into the anus before bedtime and frequently the hemorrhoids are gone by morning. The addition of garlic to the salve is an excellent treatment for killing pinworms and expelling their eggs. This treatment is completely safe for children.

Making herbal salves provides a safe and inexpensive treatment for ailments ranging from splinters and ingrown toenails to burns and cuts. Some of these salves can be used internally as in a hemorrhoid preparation but most are used topically on the skin.

 

Making Herbal Infusions

Making Herbal Infusions

 

Herbal infusions are potent water-based preparations. They are superb for extracting the medicinal properties of dried herbs. You can drink them or use them externally as skin washes, compresses, douches, sitz baths,or poultices.

How are they different from a tea? They are made using larger amounts of herbs and are steeped in an air-tight container for at least several hours. You can drink them at room temperature, reheated, or over ice.

Quart size canning jars are ideal to use because they rarely break when you pour boiling water into them as long as they are at room temperature when water is added. They also allow for a tight seal.

Using Dried Leaves

Put 1 ounce (a large handful) of dried leaves into a quart jar and fill the jar with boiling water.

Screw the lid on tight and let steep until completely cool.

Strain out plant material.

Using Dried Roots or Barks

Put 1 ounce (a large handful) of dried roots or bark into a pint jar and fill the jar with boiling water.

Screw the lid on tight and let steep until completely cool.

Strain out plant material.

Using Dried Flowers

Put 1 ounce (a large handful) of dried flowers into a quart jar and fill the jar with boiling water.

Screw the lid on tight and let steep 2 or 3 hours.

Strain out plant material.

Using Dried Seeds

Put 1 ounce (a large handful) of dried seeds into a pint jar and fill the jar with boiling water.

Screw the lid on tight and let steep for 1/2 hour – no more or the taste will be bitter.

Strain out seeds.

Printer friendly instructions for making infusions

Herbal Baths

When used in the tub, the medicinal properties of an herbal infusion will be absorbed through the skin.Add 2 quarts of a strained infusion to your bath water and enjoy!

Herbal Sitz Bath

For a sitz bath, fill a large, shallow bowl or pan with at least 2 quarts of strained infusion and have a seat!

Herbal Poultices

For an herbal poultice you will retain the plant material from your infusion and apply it directly to the desired area. The liquid can be used to wash the area first if desired. This is an effective way to treat infections or wounds.

Herbal Compress

For an herbal compress you retain the plant material from an infusion and place it in a clean cloth or piece of gauze. Place it on desired area. You can dip it in the liquid from your infusion if desired. Compresses are useful for treating eye sties or when you don’t want plant material to enter open wounds.

Making Herbal Oils

Making Herbal Oils

 

Oils of olive, almond, coconut or almond are all good choices and it is best to use fresh plant material though some dried roots are appropriate provided they have been thoroughly dried. (You can bake roots at a very low temperature for 1 hour before using.)

~ Select fresh, dry plants. Wipe off any dirt and discard damaged parts. You should select enough plant material to completely fill the jar you are going to be using.

~ Coarsely chop the herbs and pack them into a clean and very dry jar. Use a jar with a very tight fitting lid as some herbs will ‘gas-off’ which can cause oozing.

~ Pour your oil slowly over the herbs all the way to the the very top of the jar. Poke the herbs with a long, thin object to eliminate as many air pockets as possible This will reduce the opportunity for mold to grow. Fill with oil to thevery top and screw the lid on very tight.

~ Label your jar with the date and type of herbs and oil used.

~ Keep the jar on a flat surface at normal room temperature for 6-8 weeks. Leaving the herbs in longer could result in mold.

~ Pour off into a clean, very dry jar. Strain herbs through a clean piece of cloth.

~ Let sit for several days after you decant it to let any water that seeped from the herbs settle to the bottom of your jar. Pour off into a new clean, very dry jar.

~ Label your creation and store in a cool dark place.

Making Herbal Tinctures

Making Herbal Tinctures

 

Herbal tinctures are spirit-based powerful elixirs made from a concentration of one or more herbs. These tinctures are usually made from fresh plant material combined with an alcohol such as vodka or brandy, or another liquid such as vinegar or ethanol.

Selecting Your Spirits

Before herbalist can begin the process of making an herbal tinctures, they need to determine the type of alcohol that will combine with the plant material.

Although many commercial tinctures use 198-proof alcohol, many herbalists chose a simple, easy to obtain, affordable 100-proof vodka. Using a 100-proof alcohol can also ease the formulation process of a tincture.

Ways to Avoid or Reduce Alcohol Content

You can employ strategies to reduce the amount of alcohol in a tincture, if you become concerned with the alcohol-to-herb ratio.

  • Placing the container in boiling water for one to two minutes after prepared can reduce the alcohol content by as much a fifty percent.
  • Vinegar or glycerin can be added to the solution, although most experts believe this decreases the potency of the tincture.

How to Make a Tincture

Although many different methods exist to make herbal tinctures, certain basic steps apply to most tincture recipes. These include:

  • Select herbs for the tincture
  • Properly prepare by lightly cleaning and removing excess dirt and/or foreign matter – be careful not to thoroughly immerse or clean, as this could reduce potency
  • Chop the stems, roots and leaves into a course material; flowers can be left whole
  • Place herbs into a glass jar or container
  • Add the liquid, ensuring all herbs/flowers are fully immersed
  • Firmly seal the container
  • Store in a temperature controlled environment for six to eight weeks for optimum flavor and affect

Storing in a cool and consistent temperature is best. Although tinctures do not require a cold environment, avoid higher temperatures that will affect the flavor of the tincture.

While being stored in its distilling period, it’s best to gently shake it periodically to allow the herbs and liquid to mix thoroughly.

After the weeks of distilling, strain herbs from the liquid; then pour the pure liquid into a clean, dry bottle for long-term storage and use.

Most herbalists advise getting into the habit of labeling bottles clearly with the herbs and liquids used in the tincture.

Advantages of Tinctures

Tinctures have several advantages, including:

  • Tinctures remain potent for years
  • A multitude of doses can be derived from a small amount of plant material
  • Tinctures are very portable
  • Most tinctures are fast acting, even in small doses
  • Tinctures can be easily controlled

Herbal tinctures have been used for many years and most of the recipes are easy to follow. Adding too much alcohol to the tincture is easily fixed; in addition, alternative methods can reduce or eliminate alcohol all together.