Category Archives: Medicinal Plant

rosa canina

Roses: The Medicinal Properties Of This Highly Popular and Romantic Flower

rosa caninaThe rose – it’s the most commonly purchased flower, typically given during special times – anniversaries, birthdays, Valentine’s Day, etc. Not sure what it looks like?

How To Identify The Rose

The family of roses has flowers with open petals shaped like cups and thorns along the branches/stems. On some rose species, thorns are found on underneath the leaves. The key action of them is astringent, which means the tissues contract. This aspect can be found in both the rose’s leaves and petals.

During the warmer seasons of the year, the rose is dotted with red oval-shaped fruit. This “fruit” can be both eaten and used for medicinal purposes.

Now, most commonly seen rose is the dog rose (wild rose); it’s the one most people see when they walk around the neighborhood.

As a child, you may have seen rosehips. In fact, you might have used the seeds as itching powder. This reason is that the seeds are a powerful irritant. Thus, when the hips are being processed, the skin should not be constantly exposed to them. The hips can easily be cut in half, seeds removed and keep the flesh for either them to be dried or processed further. Now, you can eat the outer red, fleshy section of the rose as well as the petals.

How To Create Syrup From Rosehips For Medicinal Purposes

rosehipsIf you plan on using the rosehips for medicinal purposes, put them into a syrup concoction. Of course, the key issue in creating syrup is to have sterilized containers that are well-sealed. Rosehips have less sugar than what’s in jams and, if it’s not properly prepared, it will ferment.

What are the steps to create syrup from the rosehips?

  1. Crush them so that water can touch the flesh while ensuring the seeds are kept away.
  2. Use water to cover them and simmer until the hips become soft.
  3. Using a cloth, strain the juice. Whatever you do, do not squeeze the cloth. If you do, the syrup will turn cloudy.
  4. Throw in sugar, just half a kilo per one liter of juice.
  5. Simmer until sugar is completely dissolved.
  6. Allow to cool

If it’s overcooked, it will change into jelly. Now, there are some recipes where the water will re-cover the hips, allowing more juice to be extracted. This is then put into sterilized bottles. Be sure you boil the containers for 15 minutes and allow them to drain. Be sure you leave a two and half centimeter gap when you fill it up.

Now, screw the lids on, undo it by half a turn and place it in a pan of water. Slowly bring it to a boil and boil for up to 30 minutes. When cool, tighten. If it’s not sealed properly, use wax to cover it.

How Are Rosehips Used For Medicinal Purposes

For hundreds of years, the syrup has been used to prevent colds and flus. It wasn’t until recently that scientists learned that Vitamin C was the rosehip’s active ingredient.

Rosehips also have the astringent action, which can be used in treating gums that are bleeding. You can use the petals a survival plaster – lick and apply on a cut and it’ll stop bleeding. Oil can also be made from the petals. Many worthwhile uses for it include antidepressants and aphrodisiacs. Thus, if you feel blue during the winter season, it’s time to use rose oil. However, it’s costly so keep that in mind.

Other worthwhile uses include using the rose stem’s outside fiber to make a cordage material. But, don’t forget to remove the thorns.

Related Articles

 

5 Ways To Preserve Your Herbs

5 Ways To Preserve Your Herbs

5 Ways To Preserve Your HerbsYou can store herbs in several ways: drying, freezing, tinctures or glycerites, oils and vinegars.

Your desired use will determine the way you preserve them:

  • Drying is perfect for teas.
  • Freezing offers fresh tastes even during the cold winter.
  • Tinctures or glycerites are great tonics if you want an immunity enhance.
  • Oils and vinegars are full of the minerals and vitamins from the herbs, not captured in the tinctures and may be used in your cooking.

Drying Herbs

Hang herbs upside down in a dry, dark, well-ventilated location. Attics are ideal for this. Put a paper bag around them to avoid dust.
Put them in a jar once they are dry. Use a glass container, not plastic and place away from direct sunlight or heat. Your basement or a closet is perfect.

Freezing Herbs

Freezing can be achieved in 2 ways:

  • Clean and dry the fresh herbs and put on a cookie sheet in the freezer. When they are frozen, place them in freezer bags. A few herbs may turn brown or dark after freezing, but the flavor remains preserved.
  • Another way is to mix the herbs in some water or oil and freeze in ice cube trays. Employ 2 cups washed leaves to 1 ½ cups water or 6 cups leaves to ½ cup oil. Freeze then place in freezer bags. Just add the cubes to your recipes.

Tinctures

You can make tinctures with alcohol or vegetable glycerin, which is technically a glycerite.

Alcohol should be 80-100 proof. Use fresh herbs if you can ,. The ratio is 1:2 for fresh, i.e. 50g of fresh herb per 100g of menstruum. The ratios for dried are 1:5, i.e. 50g of dried herb for 250g of menstruum.

Put the herbs in a jar, cover completely with the liquid and cap. Place in a cool, dark place – back to the basement, for 4-6 weeks shaking daily. Always label your tinctures with the date. When done, strain the herbs off with gauze and bottle the liquid.

Normally ½ to 1 teaspoon, 3 times a day is a good dosage. As with anything medicinal, if you see an allergic reaction like rash, trouble breathing etc., cease use immediately.

Oil Infusion

Herb infused oils are fantastic to employ in cooking, but also if you want to make a salve or ointment, you already have the base ready. They’re also perfect for massage or liniments.

Only use fresh virgin olive oil. Fill a jar ¾ full of fresh chopped herbs. Put oil to cover the herbs to ¼ inch below the jar top. Put a piece of gauze over the jar top and secure with the metal ring. This will let the moisture to escape and keep the oil from becoming rancid. Place in a warm, sunny location for a minimum of 14 days, stirring daily. After you have let the oil steep, strain off the herbs and cap. Store in a cool, dark location.

Vinegars

Tincturing draws out the therapeutic properties of herbs, but not the minerals and vitamins. The best choice is to use raw, organic apple cider vinegar. Always use fresh herbs. Lightly position the herbs in a jar, don’t jam. Cover with vinegar and top with a plastic lid. If you haven’t one, put some plastic wrap over the jar and screw down the lid. Label your jar with the date. Shake daily for 6 weeks. Strain and store. Use to marinate meats, fish, vegetables, or on your salads or take as a tonic, ¼ tsp at a time.

Chamomile

The Amazing Health Properties of Chamomile

Chamaemelum nobile, Asteraceae, Roman Camomile...
Roman Camomile (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Chamomile is one of the most commonly used medicinal herbs. This daisy-like plant is characterized by its yellow disk flowers that are normally 1-3 cm wide each, and surrounded by white rays. It also features some linear feather-like leaves that are finely divided. This wonderful herb grows in populated areas in many parts of the world, including North America, Europe, Australia and Asia.

There are several species of chamomile. However, the ones that are mostly recognized for their medicinal value are the Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) and the German chamomile (Matricaria recutita). These two have some stark differences in their appearance. The Roman chamomile is a short, creeping plant that does not exceed 30 cm in height. On the other hand, the German chamomile can grow up to 60 cm tall, and has many stems hence more flowers. These flowers are smaller than those of the Roman chamomile. Another difference is that the Roman chamomile is a perennial plant while the German chamomile is an annual plant. However, the two of them have the same therapeutic benefits albeit these physical differences.

Echte Kamille (Matricaria recutita)
German chamomile (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The great thing about chamomile is that it blooms continuously from early summer to the start of the winter season. In fact, it blooms throughout the year in areas where there are no cold winters. This means that there is never a shortage of flowers.

Chamomile has very many health properties. First, it acts as a digestive tonic that is not only safe, but also gentle on the stomach. It is highly effective in dealing with bowel problems, vomiting, gas, indigestion and a host of other stomach issues. Chamomile is the only herb that can deal with acute or chronic gastric disorders and bowel diseases that are caused by hyper-excitability and nervousness. Its constituents contain sedative and antispasmodic agents that ease inflammation as well as nervous spasm in the digestive tract. These agents also help to expel gas, and boost the production of bile.

Chamomile is a great laxative with strong antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. It can treat all skin inflammations that arise from fungal or bacterial infections, contact allergies and flea bites. These include things like hemorrhoids, plaques, conjunctivitis, skin dryness and psoriasis. An infusion of chamomile flowers makes a nice antimicrobial rinse that not only heals the skin but also soothes it, leaving behind a very nice feeling.

Chamomile has been used for generations as a sleep aid. It is a mild sedative with relaxing and soothing properties. Apart from humans, it can be fed to animals to cure a variety of anxiety-related or spasmodic problems. Being a sweet-tasting herb, which is soluble in water, chamomile is quite easy and safe to administer to animals. It usually recommended by vets before trying other stronger sedatives and antispasmodics.

Studies have shown that the antispasmodic, antiallergenic, anti-inflammatory and anxiolytic effects of chamomile have health benefits for diabetic and cancer patients. They also improve the oral mucous membrane and help wounds to heal faster. The sedative effects of this herb are highly effective in treating insomnia, nervousness, cramps, cold and fever. Additionally, chamomile has been shown to boost the health of patients with bladder problems, bronchitis, skin eruptions, cataplasms, swelling, back pain, jaundice, heatstroke, spleen and kidney problems.

Chamomile is a proven tonic, which strengthens and constricts smooth muscle tissues in the body, including the uterus, the bladder and the heart. It’s relaxing and tonic effects help to ease dental pain. It is also used as an appetite tonic before meals. Another dietary benefit of chamomile is expelling worms. Unlike other herbal wormers such as walnut hulls and wormwood, chamomile is completely non-toxic. However, it is not as effective as the other anthelmintics.

Preparation and administration

To prepare a cup of chamomile tea, you will need 2 tablespoonfuls of  flowers.

  • Boil the water, and then add the flowers.
  • Put it in a cup and cover it with a plate.
  • Leave it to infuse for around 12 minutes, after which it will be ready for consumption.
  • You can add a teaspoon of honey or lemon juice to taste, and for additional health benefits. Lemon juice boosts the cleansing process of the digestive system. It also helps to deal with flu.
Ginger - Zingiber officinale

The Powerful Healing Properties of Ginger

English: A Ginger Plant (Zingiber officinale)....
Ginger Plant (Zingiber officinale). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is probably one of the most favorite cooking ingredients and medicines in the world. Ginger is a perennial herb that originates from China and India. For centuries, Asians having been using ginger root in cook and for therapeutic purposes. Asia, Australia, Jamaica, South America and the United States are some of the countries where different varieties of ginger are cultivated.

The ginger plant has delicate green leaves that resemble baby spinach, which are eaten in salads, but the true benefits of ginger come from the roots of the plant, known as rhizomes.

Health Properties of Ginger

  1. When it comes to aid digesting, ginger is probably the best herb because it has antispasmodic or carminative properties. Proteins are broken down by ginger, getting rid of bloating and gas from the intestines and stomach. It also helps the stomach digest fatty foods as well.
  2. As a result of the warming quality of ginger, circulation is improved and stimulated, and the muscles surrounding blood vessels are relaxed. This way, the flow blood throughout the body is facilitated.
  3. There is a lot of evidence that motion sickness can be prevented and treated with ginger, since the stomach is relaxed and the feeling of nausea is relieved by it.
  4. It has been demonstrated by studies that the absorption of cholesterol in the blood and liver is reduced by ginger, thus cholesterol levels are lowered. The levels of bad or LDL cholesterol in the body can be reduced with its extract and the risk of the development of heart disease is also reduced this way.
  5. The secretion of mucus can be stimulated by consuming ginger, which can soothe scratchiness in the throat and relieve cough.
  6. Ginger contains anti-fungal, anti-toxic and anti-viral properties, so it can be used to prevent and treat common cold.
  7. Ginger can help treat allergies because it acts as an antihistamine.
  8. Ginger can be used for the treatment of osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and a variety of other muscular disorders because anti-inflammatory properties are displayed by it. The biosynthesis of prostaglandins, which is the main cause of inflammation, is inhibited by the chemical components of ginger.
  9. Since the secretion of mucus is promoted by ginger, ginger protects the stomach from the development of ulcers.
  10. Along with lowering cholesterol, the formation of blood clots is also prevented by it.
  11. Minor burns and skin irritations can be immediately relieved by applying fresh ginger juice.
  12. Arthritic pain can be reduced by applying ginger oil.
  13. Ginger oil also refreshes the mind, so it is used in saloons and spas.

How to use ginger?

Ingwer (Zingiber officinale)
Ingwer (Zingiber officinale) (Photo credit: blumenbiene)

To benefit from the health properties of ginger, fresh ginger should be chosen over dried ginger. Not only does fresh ginger taste superior, but it contains higher levels of its anti-inflammatory compound and gingerol. Fresh ginger is usually free of mold, with a smooth, fresh skin and with fewer joints and twists as possible.

Young and mature are the two forms of ginger that are generally available. The skin of mature ginger is tougher and needs to be peeled, while the skin of young ginger does not have to be peeled. Ginger can be julienne, minced or sliced. Ginger can also be brewed as a tea.

Take advantage of ginger

Ginger is used as a flavoring for various culinary preparations and so, this is the most common way of having ginger and benefiting from its health properties. Ginger can be used to prepare ginger ale, ginger beer, gingerbread, ginger biscuits, ginger cake, ginger cookies, ginger tea and a lot more. Thus, ginger is one of the most renowned herbs with some remarkable health properties, and above all, it is easy to find and easy to consume.

chickweed - Stellaria media

Chickweed: The Best All Around Weed

Nature provides us with a lot of the medicines we need to not only survive, but thrive. When you learn to identify some of the vegetation around you, you can use many of them to your advantage in emergencies, or even as daily remedies for common ailments.

English: Chickenwort, Craches, Maruns, Winterw...
Common Chickweed -Stellaria media (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of the most beneficial, natural herbs is chickweed (Stellaria media). This plant grows uncultivated readily throughout the world, and can provide relief to ailments from coughs to water retention to inflammed and irritated skin. Not only is chickweed a wonderful natural remedy for a variety of ailments, it is also high in vitamins and minerals, and tastes great in salads or a summer veggie side dish.

Chickweed is fairly easy to identify. It thrives during the summer months, and will grow easily in sunny, moist soil. It grows on a stem which can grow to 15-20 cm in height with leaves growing opposite each other on the stems. White flowers will bloom on the ends of the plant, which will reseed easily for more chickweed to grow. The stems are slender and may have what appear to be tiny hairs growing on them.

Chickweed provides a lot of health benefits to users. The U.S. Navy used chickweed in the prevention of scurvy in the early years because it is high in Vitamin C. While sailors didn’t know the cause of scurvy was low Vitamin C, this edible plant naturally kept levels of Vitamin C higher in sailors onboard ships to lower the numbers of sailors suffering from the potentially deadly disease. It is also a natural diuretic, making it excellent for people suffering from certain types of edema, as well as weight loss due to water retention. Because of it’s anti-inflammatory properties, chickweed is a wonderful soother for people suffering from cough due to inflammation of the lungs or mucous membranes. It can also be used to treat minor skin irritations and rashes due to insect bites or other mild skin discomforts.

Chickweed can be prepared a variety of ways, and can be eaten raw, or can be cooked, steamed, boiled, brewed into a tea, or added to clay to make a poultice for the skin. Varieties of chickweed which have hairs on the stems and leaves are best cooked to soften the hairs and make the stems easier to consume.

The leaves are often added to fresh salads and eaten raw, and provide a mild, pleasant flavor similar to corn on the cob. It can also be sauteed with other veggetables as a side dish with some olive oil and seasoned to taste for a delicious and nutritious boost to a meal. The leaves and stems can also be steamed, which retains a lot of the nutritient value, and eaten alone, or they can be added to a cup of warm water to steep for a few minutes to drink as a tea.

If you are consuming chickweed for the added boost of vitamins and minerals, consuming it raw or lightly steamed will be the best preparation method. High in Vitamins C, A, D, and iron, you can get a large boost in these essential vitamins and minerals by consuming the leaves and stems of chickweed mixed in a salad several times per week. To consume as a diuretic or a soothing natural cough remedy, preparing a mildly brewed tea with some leaves and stems will help you achieve the greatest benefit from its use. For minor skin irritations, making a poultice out of clay with chickweed which has been pulverized will work wonders for red, itchy, irritated skin.

Chickweed also contains small amounts of saponins. These are natural thickeners, which can work well in soups and stews. It creates complex, deep flavors while aiding in the thickening of soups, sauces, and stews.

It is amazing what types of natural remedies we can find by looking around us in the great outdoors. One of the most versatile of nature’s remedies is chickweed. It is self-sustaining and uncultivated, and an extremely hardy edible plant which can be found in almost all areas of the world. It provides high levels of certain vitamins and minerals, and can provide soothing relief to certain types of edema, calm coughs, and is a natural anti-inflammatory which can help relieve many minor skin irritations.

Devil's claw - Harpagophytum procumbens

Knowing more about the Devil’s Claw

Harpagophytum procumbens Français : photo util...
Harpagophytum procumbens  – © CITES Secretariat

If you are someone who has never heard about the Devil’s Claw (Harpagophytum procumbens), then you should know that this is a trailing perennial plant that comes with creeping stems which has been reported to develop up to a staggering 5 feet in length. Its root resembles a very thick carrot and it also features secondary roots tuberous in shape. When it comes to its stems, they are grayish in color, it has a woody and thorny fruit and reddish-violet flowers which are tubular in shape. This herb actually grows in S. Africa and also in the Madagascar Island.

Most of the times this herb is use by herbalists in order to treat the pain caused by arthritis and it has also been tested by the scientists in order to see how effective it can be against lower back pain. It has been tested on people who are dealing with one of the most severe types of lower back pain and after individuals used it, the results they got were pretty spectacular. When the herb is used in an enteric coated form, its effectiveness in controlling pain will increase a lot. Below, you will be able to see the diseases and conditions this plant is recommended for:

  • Appetite stimulant
  • Upset stomachs
  • Tendonitis
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Muscle pain
  • Sciatica, lumbago, gout and arthritis

You can also apply it externally if you have boils or skin lesions.

Dosage and preparations

Over-the-counter

This amazing plant comes in tea form, tincture and capsules and can be found in drugstores and pharmacies.
Tincture: If you would like to use the Devil’s Claw in this form, then you will have to take between ten to forty drops of it on a daily basis and only follow the dosage your doctor recommended you.

At home

For a decoction, you will need to add half a teaspoon and up to a teaspoon of rhizome into 1 cup of water, bring it to a boil and then simmer for around ten to fifteen mites. For at least thirty days you will need to drink this three times per day.

Parts used

The secondary roots and the rhizome

Collection

The Devil Claw’s secondary roots are recommended for collection when the rainy season has ended.

Constituents

  • Luteolin
  • Harpagide
  • Harpagoside

Action

  • Digestive stimulant
  • Sedative
  • Analgesic
  • Anti-inflammatory

Combinations

If you would like you will be able to have it combined with Meadowsweet, Bogbean and Celery seed in order to treat your arthritis.

Side effects and safety

There are certain cases in which you will not have use this herb, because it might pose a certain danger to your health. These situations are as following:If you are under blood thinning medicationIf you have duodenal or gastric ulcersIf you have cardiovascular problemsIf you are pregnant

You will find a very high concentration of iridoid glycosides in the Devil’s Claw, but also secondary metabolites. Due to its massive beneficial effects this plant is very much used in Europe in order to treat inflammatory joint disorders and any other related pain. The fact is that there is little to no scientific proof in regards to the effectiveness of this herb, but it seems that the folkloric information found on it is plenty, which indicates that the herb is very much able to treat these problems.

Remember, as with any other herb out there, there can be side effects experienced by individuals, so that is why if you’re under certain medications, you will have to get in touch with your doctor before starting your use of Devil’s Claw. Some side effects you might experience number upset stomach, diarrhea and headaches, yet the good news is that they are very rare. But if you will experience these side effects you should talk to your physician as soon as possible.

Enhanced by Zemanta
Burdock

Burdock: The Edible Velcro

Burdock (Arctium spp.) relates to the daisy family. Additionally, it is directly related to Echinacea, Dandelion, and Feverfew. Back in the past the Greeks made use of the greens and the roots for healing. During the Middle Ages, Burdock was used for food and medicine.

Also Known as

  • Burdock
  • Beggar’s Buttons
  • Cockle Buttons
  • Gobo
  • Harebur
  • Love Leaves
  • Thorny Bur

 


 

Identification Keys

  • Stalk
    • Purplish-green leaf stalks
    • Arctium minus – Common burdock’s leaf stalks:
      • hollow, not furrowed
      • 50-150 cm tall
    • Arctium lappa – Greater burdock’s leaf stalks:
      • solid, with a groove along the upper surface
      • up to 250 cm tall
  • Greater-Burdock_Arctium-Lappa-__16288
    (Photo credit: Public Domain Photos)

    Leaves

    • basal rosette the first year and at the beginning of the second year with coarse, huge, wedge-shaped leaves up to 60 cm long and 30 cm broad.
    • The leaves are whitish and finely wooly underneath
    • Its alternate leaves are similar to the basal leaves, but smaller, especially toward the top

 

 

  • English: Greater burdock (Arctium lappa) Deuts...
    Greater burdock (Arctium lappa) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    Flowers

    • bristly, purple-pink, spherical, composite shaving brush-like flowers
    • 2 cm across in common burdock, short stemmed
    • 2.5 to 4 cm across in greater burdock, long-stemmed resemble shaving brushes
  • Fruits
    • The ripe fruits consist of brown, prickly spherical burrs the size of the flowers, covered with tiny hooks
    • They stick to virtually anything they touch, they’re the inspiration for Velcro
    • Inside are many small, hard, curved, brown seeds

 

Bloom Time

  • July-October

Habitat

  • lawns
  • fields
  • thickets
  • disturbed habitats
  • untended gardens
  • empty lots
  • edge habitats
  • trailsides and roadsides
  • parks
  • sun or partial shade
  • backyards

Look-alikes

  • “Dock” stands for take or eliminate, and not related plants that folks remove from their backyards, including the curly dock, also known as yellow dock (Rumex crispus), which has delicious leaves and stems, have the identical confusing surname. But you can’t confuse with burdock because curly dock has narrow leaves, not white beneath, with curled edges, a hard, yellow taproot, and different flowers and seeds.
  • Curly dock’s relative bitter dock or broadleaf dock (Rumex obtusifolia) has large leaves that look like burdock’s, and the plants occasionally grow next to each other, but as a relative of yellow dock, bitter dock’s hard, inedible taproot is vivid yellow when scraped, and the leaves don’t possess burdock’s white, whooly fuzz underneath. Even if nonpoisonous, every part of the plant tastes bad.
  • Cardoon (Cynara cardunculus) is an edible relative of burdock.

Poisonous Look-alikes

  • Cocklebur (Xanthium)

 


 

Medicine Uses

Parts Used

root, leaf

Actions

detoxifying

Systems

Digestion

  • eases liver problems and digestive disorders

Circulation

  • a decoction made by boiling the root is a blood detoxifier for the skin, liver, and kidneys.
  • Burdock helps combat hypoglycemia and pre diabetes conditions due to a large quantities of inulin, a polysaccharide that doesn’t get absorbed or induce an insulin response

Immune system

  • strengths the immune system when it’s weakened by environmental factors

Externally

  • use a poultice to clear bruises. Bandage for few days with a poultice made by blending the leaves with water and clay. Add spearmint stems to make this poultice even more effective.
  • put the leaves on burns to prevent bacterial growth, speed recovery time, and ease the changing of dressings.


Food Uses

Parts Used

roots, stems

Main Uses

potherb, root, tea

Nutrition

  • Burdock root supplies vitamins B6 and C, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, manganese, and sodium
  • It is really an excellent supply of inulin,  and is helpful to people with blood sugar problems

Caution

  • Avoid eating the seeds, which are poisonous.

Cooking

  • Root:
    • Burdock root seems like a blend of potatoes and artichokes.
    • Scrub the taproot under flowing water to clean it. Cut thin, so the root will become softer.
    • Raw, it’s hard to digest but not toxic. Simmer or steam 15 to 20 minutes, until tender. It’s also possible to bake it inside a covered baking dish that has a minimum of liquid, so that the hot steam tenders it.
  • Stem and Stalk:
    • It tastes like artichoke hearts.
    • Peel the fibers from the stems and flower stalks. Slice, then boil 5 to 15 minutes.
  • Leaf:
    • The leaves are really bitter. You can boil the very young leaves in multiple changes of water to reduce the bitterness, however, you can make a better use of your energy and time by harvesting other wild greens.

Harvesting

Harvesting Season

  • spring: root of 1st year plant, root of 2nd year plant (before the flower stalk appears), leaf stalks of greater burdock
  • mid-spring: stem
  • summer: root of 1st year plant, leaf stalks of greater burdock
  • fall: root of 1st year plant, leaf stalks of greater burdock

Harvesting Methods

  • Root:
    • Burdock’s taproot is very deep. Collect in a place that’s relatively free of rocks (not hard to find, since burdock is so common) and with a moist soil. Put the shovel 2 cm from the heart of the rosette. Grasp the handle strongly with both your hands. Over and over again stomp on the shovel, to push it straight down, so you don’t cut the root. You can try to push upward using the shovel while carefully pulling the leaves. If it’s not moving, don’t pull the leaves too hard, but remove the soil and do it again on the other side of the plant. When you’ve finished, refill the hole with soil, so you’ll reduce any environmental impact.
  • Stem:
    • Cut off the stem with a knife soon after it appears in mid-spring, when it’s large, but still very soft and flexible, long before the flowers appear.
  • Stalk:
    • Cut off the leaf stalks with a knife any time during the growing season, but only use greater burdock. There’s not enough food in common burdock’s stalks to make it worthwhile.

 

saffron

Saffron: What You Need To Know About This Golden Spice

Saffron (Crocus sativus) is an Asian herb, and the world’s most expensive spice, commonly used for culinary purposes.

Saffron spice is made from dried stigmas of the crocus’ flower. This spice has a rich history, having been used by ancient Egyptians and Greeks both as a spice and a medicine.

Traditionally, saffron was used to relieve symptoms of fever, menstrual disorders, epilepsy and problems associated with the digestive system. However, this spice has slowly dominated the kitchen, with countless recipes using it as an essential ingredient.

How to Identify Saffron

Saffron
Saffron (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Saffron has a rich red-orange color when used in liquids, and it gives dishes and baked items a rich yellow color. This is one of the main reasons why this spice is used for culinary purposes, in addition to its aromatic properties. When buying saffron, here are a few insights into buying the real stuff:

  • If you are on the go and want to buy saffron, you may probably find it powdered. To ascertain that the powder is indeed saffron, take a pinch and stir it in warm water. If the water is instantly colored, the powder is not genuine saffron. The authentic spice should take at least ten minutes to color the water since it takes some time to infuse.
  • Red stigmas mixed with yellow styles.
    Red stigmas and yellow styles. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    If you prefer the strands, it is good to learn how to identify high quality saffron. The quality of this golden spice is evident in the color of the stigmas. A high intensity of the color red means that the spice is of high quality, which also translates to a high price. However, to avoid buying dyed counterfeits at exorbitant prices, ascertain that the tips are a lighter red compared to the rest of the strand.

A saffron crocus flower.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To identify fresh saffron, one should know the basic characteristics of the plant. Crocus sativus is in the family of the Iridaceous plants. It grows to about 20 or 30 cm, and bears a maximum of 4 purple flowers per plant. Each flower bears only three bright crimson stigmas, which are connected to the carpel, along with the stalks. The flower emits a characteristic hay-like fragrance, which is hard to miss.

How Can You Get the Best Out of Saffron?

From simple preparation, crush a few strands of saffron and soak them in hot liquid for a minimum of 15 minutes. This allows enough time to infuse and give out maximum color and fragrance. The resulting mixture can be used in small quantities in teas, soups, pastries, confectionary and meals.

It is important to remember that saffron should be taken in minimal amounts. When using saffron as a spice, use only a few strands or a few drops of infused saffron. Too much of the spice makes meals and drinks bitter, and leave a medicine-like after taste.

What Are the Benefits of Using Saffron?

Since this is the most expensive spice, anyone would think twice before making a purchase. However, before you decide not to use it, here is a list of the benefits you will miss out on.

Saffron was, and still is, used relieve symptoms of troubled digestive system. It is a natural remedy for low appetite, nausea and vomiting, as well as diarrhea. It also offers relief from a bloated stomach and acidity. A few drops of the infused saffron in tea, soup or juice are enough.

The bright red-orange color characteristic of the spice is proof of the presence of carotenoids. This is a chemical that is vital for strong bones and healthy eyes. According to recent studies, this herb has enough of the carotenoids to cure arthritis and prevent blindness in old age. It also offers improved vision to people suffering from cataracts.

This golden spice is a mild antidepressant. This makes it the perfect remedy for mild and moderate depression. This property also helps to relieve sleep disorders such as insomnia. A small pinch of saffron powder taken in milk should suffice.

Traditionally, this spice was used to relieve menstrual conditions and regulate the periods. It can also be used to relieve muscle pains and spasms. This herb also clears any clotting in the uterine system, which can lead to excessive bleeding. Pregnant women are, therefore, advised to take this spice in extremely minimal quantities.

Saffron is an antioxidant. Therefore it is very useful in the prevention of cancer. It also relieves fever and acne, and boosts memory and blood circulation. It is a natural aphrodisiac, effective in both men and women.

Keep in mind that saffron is the most expensive spice, which makes it a perfect target for counterfeiters. When using this herb, ensure that you use the genuine one, not an adulterated version.

herbal preparations tinctures

Herbal Preparations: Tinctures

Tinctures are produced by extracting medicinal constituents of herbs in alcohol. They are more potent and longer lasting when compared with preparations that are water based such as decoctions and infusions.

 

Tincture Preparation

You will need the following ingredients:

  1. 30g dried herbs
  2. 400 ml of brandy
  3. 170 ml water

Method

  1. Bruise the herb and mix the water and spirit together
  2. Place the herbs in a large jar and add the water and spirit
  3. Leave to stand in a cool dry place for only 2 weeks. Make sure that you shake the jar daily.
  4. After the 2 weeks, strain through a muslin cloth and pour the liquid in a sterilized glass bottle.
  5. Make sure that you label the bottles with the name of the tincture, the dosage and use and also the date.

The standard dose is 1 to 3 tablespoons daily. For gargles and washes however, it is important to dilute 1 tablespoon in 1 cup of water.

Tinctures are able to preserve themselves indefinitely.

 

Red Clover - Trifolium pratense

The Health Properties of Red Clover

Red clover also referred to as Trifolium pratense is an inhabitant of northwest Africa, Western Asia and Europe, but it has been planted and naturalized in other regions on the globe.

This wild plant belongs to the legume-family which is normally used for grazing livestock among other animals. Traditionally, red clover has been used to cure various illnesses including cancer, skin inflammation like eczema and psoriasis, respiratory problems and whooping cough. This plant was thought to aid with blood purification, liver cleansing, and blood circulation improvement.

Research has shown that this plant has some isoflavones, plant-based chemicals, known for stimulating the production of estrogen within the body. This chemical has demonstrated some potential in treatment of various conditions related to menopause like osteoporosis, cardiovascular health and hot flashes.

Description of Red Clover

Trèfle des prés (Red clover en anglais) (Trifo...

This is a herbaceous, perennial plant which is commonly grown in the meadows around Asia and Europe.

This short-lived plant is variable-in-size and it tends to grow up to 80cm in height.

The leaves of red clover are alternate with 3 leaflet and each leaflet measures 8-15mm broad and 15-30mm long, with a unique pale crescent on the outer half-of-the-leaf. The petiole of the leaflets is about 4cm long with 2 basal stipules.

On the tip of each branch there is a dark pink flower with a unique pale base about 12-15mm long which tends to produce a dense inflorescence.

Health properties of red clover

This perennial plant has been acknowledged for having various properties including:

  • Antispasmodic
  • Alterative
  • Tonic
  • Sedative
  • Expectorant

Because of these properties, red clover is able to tackle various ailments like asthma easily. Some of these health properties include:

Osteoporosis

During menopause the estrogen levels drop in the body, this increases the risk of developing osteoporosis. Various studies done suggest that red clover extract can help reduce the rate of bone loss thus boosting the bone density in both peri and pre-menopausal ladies.

Menopause

Various researchers think that red clover’s isoflavones aid in reduction of menopause symptoms like night sweating and hot flashes. This is caused by their estrogen-like effects in the body caused by the water-soluble chemicals, phytoestrogen referred to as isoflavones.

Diuretic properties

The extract from this plant has some diuretic properties and thus can aid raise an individual’s urine output. This is quite helpful in case you are retaining water because of various unknown/known reasons or you body is bloated from menstrual cycle.

Anti-inflammatory property

Red clover has been used as an anti-inflammatory for years now, especially when dealing with various skin inflammations like eczema & psoriasis.

Cleansing property

One of the major red clover properties is cleansing, this extract helps with blood and liver cleansing and it has been featured in various cleansing teas.

Detoxification

Another major property is full body detoxification; red clover helps eliminate the built-up of various toxins and chemicals within the body.

Lower your cholesterol levels

One most beneficial side effect of this extract is that it helps reduce the cholesterol levels. Various scientific studies have been done on the effects the red clover extract has on cholesterol and proved this property of red clover.

Cancer

Various preliminary test-tubes trials show that red clover’s isoflavones can help eradicate and also prevent the growth of various cancerous cells. Although it has shown various anti-tumor activities, this plant has been used in various parts-of-the-Globe to deal with cancer. This herb can help prevent both endometrial and prostate cancer, but the estrogen like effects produced by isoflavones can aid the growth of certain cancer cells.

Red clover infusion preparation

With this method you can create about a pint infusion which can be consumed at ones or in small equal proportions during the day.

1. Add approximately 30g of dried flower into a glass-jar and pour boiled water over it until the jar is filled.

2. Cover the jar with a lid and allow the flowers to rest calmly for about twenty minutes covered. You can leave it for up to 4 hours if you wish to.

3. Then strain the mixture into another mug using a fine-meshed-strainer and discard the flowers.

4. You can add a tea spoon of honey into the infusion and drink it after it has cooled to room temperature. If you want it to soothe cold or coughs you can take it hot.

5. You can then store the remainder in your refrigerator until ready to drink again.

Related Articles