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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.

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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.

Hypericum perforatum -  St. John's Wort

Discover the Healthful Properties of St. John’s Wort

More and more people started to discover the benefits of herbal medicines. Along with the famous ginseng, echinacea and ginkgo biloba, St. John’s Wort started to become increasingly preferred by modern consumers. The truth is that the demand for natural alternatives to conventional medicine grew day by day, allowing this natural herbs to become extremely important. Companies started to use them to create unique products and supplements in order to satisfy the need of today’s savvy consumers.

What is St. John’s Wort

Hypericum perforatum (bostryx)
Hypericum perforatum (bostryx) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Also known as Hypericum perforatum, Klamath Weed or Tipton’s Weed, St. John’s Wort is a yellow flowering herb that contains several potent ingredients, such as hypericin andhyperforin. This unique herb features powerful antidepressant, antiviral, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Its success in treating depression has increased tremendously over the years, especially since a study that was conducted proved that about 80% of all people suffering from mild to moderate depression were cured. However, this herb is not that effective against moderate to severe depression cases.

Health Benefits of St. John’s Wort

This herb has been used for thousands of years as a sedative or painkiller. Moreover, its properties made it the perfect natural herb in treating minor to severe health conditions, from mood swings, sleep disorders and bruises to severe burns, malaria, lung and kidney problems, uterine cramping, hemorrhoids, peptic ulcers, breathing problems, hangovers, gastrointestinal problems, alcoholism and even more serious cases of tuberculosis. There is no doubt St. John’s Wort is one of the most important ingredient found in many tablets, capsules or tea.

According to a recent study performed by a combined group of scientists and herbalists in the United States, this natural herb can help you deal with a sore throat, psoriasis, sinus infections, Parkinson’s disease, chronic cough, chronic fatigue syndrome, arthritis, anxiety and other mental disorders.

Uses and Preparation Methods

St. John’s Wort has been found to possess significant amounts of hypericin and hyperforin. These two ingredients are known to raise the release of major neurotransmitters (serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine), which will improve the brain signals between your body’s cells, enhancing your nervous system and increasing its functionality. Moreover, hypericin is capable of inhibiting a bodily chemical (also known as monoamine oxidase), that is associated with depression and anxiety. The result of this herb over your body is an increased state of well-being that will help you deal with depression, wintertime blues, low energy levels, mood swings and chronic fatigue cases.

If you deal with anxiety, mood swings or depression, it is recommended to take one capsule of 300 mg at least three times each day with meals. However, it is wiser to consult your doctor before taking these pills. St. John’s Wort can also be administered in the form of tea, tincture, pills, tablets and decoction. Since there are hundreds of products on the market which contain this herb, you have a wide range of choices.

If you deal with alcoholism and hangovers, it is recommended to drink a tea that contains flowers of St John’s Wort. Add 1 cup of flowers to 1 cup and a half of boiling water. Simmer for about 5 minutes, strain and then drink while it’s hot. You can also add honey or any other natural sweetener for an improved taste. The recommended dosage for tea is just like in the case of pills or capsules, which is three times a day. If you prefer tincture, you should take it only twice a day. The preferred dosage is 1/4 teaspoon for one teaspoon of water.

Tips on How to Identify it in The Wild

English: Plantlets of St. John's wart (Hyperic...
English: Plantlets of St. John’s wart (Hypericum perforatum) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Nowadays, there are over 300 species of Hypericum. This herb grows all over the Europe and United States, mostly in hayfields, waste places and roadsides. It usually blooms in June and continues to grow until fall. If you want to identify this natural herb in the wild easier, Google it and study some pictures. Always look for that specimen with black dots on its petals and several clear dots on its leaves. These can be easily noticed when its leaves are held up to light. The good news is that you can grow St John’s Wort all by yourself, even if it might be hard to germinate. However, the best choice can be to buy it or simply go in the wild and reap them.

Lavandula_angustifolia_paint

Lavandula angustifolia

Name

The genus name “Lavandula” comes from the latin verb “lavare” (to wash) because ancient romans used to scent washing waters and baths. The specific name “angustifolia” is Latin for “narrow leaf”. Previously, it was known as “Lavandula officinalis” meaning that it was the official medicinal lavender.

Also Known as

  • common lavender
  • true lavender
  • narrow-leaved lavender
  • english lavender
  • Lavandula spica
  • Lavandula vera
  • Lavandula officinalis

Identification Keys

  • bushy evergreen herb
  • square stalk
  • height: 1-2 m
  • opposite leaves
  • narrow leaves, 2-6 cm long, 4-6 mm broad
  • pinkish-purple (lavender color) flowers
  • 2-lipped flowers
  • flowers grow on narrowly cylindrical spikes 2–8 cm long at the top of slender, leafless stems 10–30 cm long
  • strongly scented

Bloom Time

  • June-August

Habitat

  • prefers a sunny place and light, dry, well-drained soil
  • grows up to 1500 m

Look-alikes

You can confuse Lavandula angustifolia with other plants of the same genus Lavandula.


Medicine Uses

Parts Used

Flowers

Actions

carminative, diuretic, antispasmodic, nerve tonic, analgesic, stimulant, digestive, sedative, antimicrobial, antiseptic, diaphoretic, expectorant, antidepressant, antioxidant

Systems

Digestion

  • releases spasm and colic
  • relieves wind
  • combats bowel problems related to tension and anxiety
  • used for infections that cause vomiting and diarrhea
  • volatile oils active against bacteria and fungi

Mental and emotional

  • wonderful for anxiety and stress-related symptoms (headaches, migraines, neuralgia, palpitations, insomnia)
  • lifts the spirits
  • restores energy in tiredness and nervous exhaustion

Respiratory system

  • increases resistance to colds, coughs, chest infections, flu tonsillitis and laryngitis
  • clears phlegm
  • relieves asthma

Immune system

  • volatile oils are antibacterial, antifungal and antiseptic
  • reduces fevers taken as hot tea
  • help to remove toxins via the skin and urine, taken as hot tea

Reproductive system

  • reduces pain after childbirth and speeds healing (used in baths)

Externally

  • antiseptic for inflammatory and infective skin problems such as eczema, acne, varicose ulcers and nappy rash
  • stimulates tissue repair
  • minimizes scar formation applying oil to burns, cuts, wounds, sores and ulcers
  • repels insects
  • relieves bites and stings
  • soothes pain of bruises, sprains, gout, arthritis and muscle tension

Harvesting

  • gathering lavender when the flowers are full in color and they start to open
  • cut flowers on a dry and sunny day. The dew needs to be off of the plants before you harvest to allow a quickly healing
  • tie bundles of lavender upside down in a dark dry area with good air circulation. When dry, place in a jar and store out of light