Monday, 23 May 2011

May Tonics & Syrups

17 May 2011

Catherine started us off with a challenge: create a Wild Bear’s Medicine using the herbs we had discussed last week and any others that we might find in the wild garden of the RBGE.

We duly set off, en masse, to explore the north-western corner of the Botanics, beyond the great beech hedge, into the little woodlands of Scotland’s natural heritage. Our first introduction was to Herb Robert (Germanium Robertianum F geraniaceae), which frankly is a miracle herb.  Herb Robert

Full of volatile oils, a natural bitter, and containing loads of vitamins A, B C, calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus and a little know mineral germanium, which makes oxygen available to cells.  Its qualities are as an astringent and antibiotic that not only boosts the immune system, but is also antiviral and anti-oxidant.  Known for millennia (mentioned even by Dioscorides) as a cancer curing drug, its advocacy in modern cancer treatment is only just being rediscovered.  If you have it in your garden or woodland nearby, pick 4-5 leaves a day and add to your salad, or mix the leaves with Aloe Vera to make an eyewash. A tea of 1 dried tsp leaves steeped in 1 cup hot water.

We then met up with:
Plantain - good for bleeding encourages repair of damaged  tissue; anti-inflammatory
Sweet Cicely - a digestive and and natural sweetener that restores spirits

Horsetail - full of Silica
Wild Garlic - a natural blood cleanser

Bog Bean - a hepatic tonic with lots of Vitamin C
stinging nettles
Stinging Nettle - a fantastic detoxifier and re-mineraliser

Collecting handfuls and backpack full of herbs, we regrouped in our kitchen to concocot our potions.  Working in teams of two, Amy and I joined forces to make the following:

Spring Blast – (a tonic for exam-stressed teens). A deeply concentrated tea of Sticky Willy (for lymph cleansing), Horsetail (for replenishing silica), Bogbean leaves (to kick start a lazy digestive tract) and Wild Garlic leaves (to cleanse the blood). The aim is to drink this foul tasting liquor 3 times daily for 2-3 days and then follow it with:
Spring Blast Tonic brew

Re-Energising Tonic Cubes – Made of: Nettles leaves (to replenish iron, calcium and vitamins), Dandelion leaves (to counteract anaemia and clear the skin), Lemon Balm leaves (to soothe low spirits, calm the mind and alleviate stress), Sweet Cicely flowers ( because it is indicated as an excellent herb for 15- 18 year old girls), Herb Robert stems and leaves (for all it’s fantastic qualities and immune boosting properties). Ideally given more time, we would have added Barley (for calcium and slowing of cell aging) and its taste and Ginger which is an adaptogen and would act as a diffusive agent for all the other herbs. We froze the tonic into ice cubes, so that it could be taken readily in a multitude of drinks, whilst retaining its freshness.
Comfrey, Plantain, Horsetail & Hypericum

We also created a poultice, and applied it to Amy’s sore arm, and then finally a ointment for cuts wounds and grazes, containing Comfrey, Horsetail, Plantain and Hypericum.

The afternoon was spent creating two wonderful herbal syrups, which is in essence an equal mix of sugar to plant infused liquid.  The ancient Persians considered sugar as a powerful tool in their medicine kits and indeed it is an excellent way to preserve the therapeutic properties of herbs. Syrups release their potent therapeutic extracts readily into the bloodstream, helping to boost the immune system and body’s energy reserves.
Crushing hawthorn berries

Rose-infused Hawthorn Flower & Berry Syrup:

1) Infuse 4 heaped teaspoons of Hawthorn Flowers and 25gms of Rose petals in 300mls of hot/warm water for 10 minutes.

2) Crush 150gms of Hawthorn berries (can be soaked first/overnight in a little hot water) with a pestle and mortar (or grinder) and decoct in approx 200mils water over low heat for 1 hour. (Not too hard, Amy - you might break the bowl!)

3) Strain respective liquids and measure out 500 mls.  Combine with 500gms raw cane sugar and place in pan over low heat. Simmer until sugar is dissolved and mixture starts to thicken.
Hibiscus, rose & hawthorn

Dosage: 1 tsp three times daily.

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