Tag Archives: Herbalism

Superfoods ~ Dandelion

at first a weed, and then a wish

When I was a much younger man, trying to grow a pristine lawn, the last thing I wanted in my garden was dandelions.  These damn weeds are incredibly pernicious and damn difficult to get rid of.  But back then I didn’t understand anything at all about herbalism, and the almost magical medicinal, therapeutic, and health benefits we can get from the common dandelion, or Taraxacum officinale. (to give it its proper name). The common dandelion is a real superfood.

Officially, this wild plant is a weed and usually very unwelcome in lawns, (or anywhere else come to that), because it will choke other plants and its silver tufted seeds will get everywhere when blown in the wind.  The easiest and best way to get rid of unwanted dandelions is with a herbicide, but these days none of us approves of herbicides at all.  If you just dig up a dandelion then you have to make certain to get every last bit of the tap-root.

But, unless it really is in the wrong place, why try to eradicate a dandelion at all?  For a start, dandelion leaves are a great addition to a summer salad, and it is said that eating dandelion salad will help women to lose weight, and is why French women don’t get fat.

Collected in the autumn, the most medicinally efficacious part of the dandelion is the tap root which can be juiced, dried and used as a coffee substitute, turned into tea, or in all of the other complex preparations such as tincture and homeopathic dynamizations.  For those biochemically inclined who may be interested dandelion root contains; taraxacin, choline, inulin, phytosterol, tannin, and mucilage.  The major properties of the dandelion are as a cholagogue, laxative, depurative, and as a tonic.  If you want to do a liver detox, forget celery juice and turn instead to the humble dandelion.

Dandelion sap will remove warts, corns, verrucae, dark spots on the skin, and lighten freckles.

However, like many medicinal plants the common dandelion is an exceedingly powerful collection of chemical compounds, so care should be taken when using it medicinally.

Broadly speaking, your common or garden dandelion leaf is packed full of vitamins, minerals, and other great stuff, so add some leaves to your salads.  There are a stack of dandelion recipes, a salad might even stop you getting fat or help you to lose weight, especially as part of a Mediterranean Diet.  Anything made from dandelion is damn good for your liver, and might just be the best way ever to do a liver detox.

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

blueberry balsamic chicken over dandelion greens

 

 

The Medicinal Rose

Not All Roses Are The Same.

Red_RoseSome say that one should never use garden hybrid roses for medicinal purposes.  And, that there are more than 300 active compounds present in roses, of which only about 100 have been identified.  All I know is that medicinal preparations from any rose can have strong and immediate effects on some people, especially women.

The good witch or experienced herbalist will try to find a true wild rose for medicinal use.  There are many species of wild rose, but they are all easy to identify.  Every wild rose has exactly five petals, and almost all of them are pink shading to white.  They also tend to be leggy and straggling in form, extremely hardy, and likely to thrive on total neglect.  There are also some ‘nearly wild’ roses which are just as good as the true wild rose for the herbalist, but are much more suitable for the average garden.

Here in England the good witch or experienced herbalist will preferentially use the true wild rose, the dog rose, rosa canina, for medicinal purposes.  The thing is, unless you have a huge estate, you’re not going to plant this vigourous thing.  Luckily it does grow wild all over in England, especially in mature hedgerows.

However, if one has a largish garden one can plant the Japanese wild rose, rosa rugosa instead.  This is still a very strong growing shrub, but it’s more manageable than the dog rose, and you still get great hips.

Another great medicinal rose is the aptly named apothecary’s rose, rosa gallica.  This is another wild rose, basically from France.

In North America there are dozens of species of wild rose, all of which have been used by Native American tribes in medicine and magic.  In addition, many other species roses have naturalised into the American landscape, so sometimes it’s difficult to know which is a true American wild rose, and which is an introduction.  It doesn’t really matter.  If a rose has five petals and is pink or shading to white, then it’s a good medicinal plant.

nearly-wildHowever, if you are growing an apothecary’s garden, a herb garden, or a medicine garden, then perhaps the rose nearly wild in whatever variety you can find it would be your best choice.  It’s compact, has a long flowering season, and is close enough to the species wild rose to be ideal as a medicinal plant.  This rose is also readily available from specialist rose nurseries all over the world.

Almost every part of the rose has therapeutic uses.  The petals can be used to make rose petal tea or an unusual scented jam, or rose water hydrosol, or what about a rose, cardamom, and ginger body soak?  The rose hips can be added to organic cider vinegar to make a great salad dressing / tonic, and the leaves make a kind of substitute coffee.  If you dry the leaves you can smoke them ~ and I have no idea what that’s like.

dscf0012The main active effects of rose preparations are; laxative, opthalmic, diuretic, and linthontriptic, (removes kidney stones).   There are many benefits of using the rose as a medicinal plant, and some potential downsides.  Some people feel ill after ingesting rose medicines / tea, and some people feel mild hallucinogenic effects.  As I have already said, there are at least 300 active compounds in the rose and we only know what about 100 of them are, let alone what they actually do ~ weird.

If in doubt of any herbal preparation, then try just a little, in a very diluted form ~ especially if you are a woman.  And if you are either pregnant, or trying to get pregnant, then take specialist advice from your doctor or an expert herbalist before using any herbal / medicinal plant product.

~

dog-roseAphrodite’s Herbalist, jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

aphrodite

Rose Petal Tea

The Healing Powers Of The Rose.

Herbalists and witches know that the rose is a very useful and powerful medicinal plant, and that one of the interesting things you can use it for at this time of year is as a remedy for coughs and colds.  A very easy way to take advantage of the natural healing power of the rose is to make rose petal tea.  Well, the petals do contain vitamin C, which helps combat the common cold, but the petals also hold some powerful polyphenols and antioxidants.  Ideally one should use the petals of the wild dog rose, rosa canina, but I also use the petals from garden hybrid roses.

dscf0012Try making rose petal tea with just a handful of fresh rose petals, and a very little sugar or honey, (don’t use a lot of sugar or honey as it will overpower the taste).  Personally I just scald the petals, but some suggest simmering, (stewing), for 5 minutes.  Some also suggest removing the white portion of fresh petals, although personally I wouldn’t do that.  The white area does impart the tea with a slightly bitter, tannin taste, but I firmly believe that’s also where most of the good stuff is concentrated.

Scientifically, the principal qualities of rose petal tea are that it has; Laxative, Opthalmic, Diuretic, and Linthontriptic virtues.  I firmly believe it’s a lot more complicated than that.  For example, you should find that rose petal tea will slightly numb your mouth and ease any sore throat and cough you may be suffering from.

Among herbalists it is widely accepted that rose petal tea boosts the immune system and has beneficial effects on the following problems;

  • anxiety, depression, and stress.
  • arthritis.
  • constipation and other digestive problems.
  • coughs, colds, and sore throats.
  • menstrual cramps and pain.
  • skin and hair problems ~ the tea is said to relieve the symptoms severe acne.
  • urinary tract infections.

dscf0016If that wasn’t enough, drinking rose petal tea is supposed to help ward off cancers due to its beneficial effects on the immune system.  Some say that drinking rose petal tea also promotes weight loss ~ I couldn’t promise that, other than you may use much less sugar and cream than if you were drinking coffee instead of this herbal tea.

You can make rose petal tea either with fresh petals, (make certain they are pesticide free), and you can also make a green tea with dried rose petals.  You can buy dried rose petals mail order from all kinds of places, including Amazon.  As far as I’m concerned, I think it’s better to collect fresh rose petals, and keep a few handfuls in the refrigerator.

There are a couple of things to be careful of.  Firstly, drinking more than three or four cups of this stuff a day is likely to give you diarrhea.  Secondly, most really effective herbal remedies for menstrual pain are also female aphrodisiacs as they affect the production of oestrogen~ don’t say you weren’t warned.

~

p1050056Aphrodite’s Herbalist, jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

aphrodite

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