Herbs of the Month
March Herb of the Month Dandelion I love the cheery yellow dandelions on the waysides at this time of year. To me these wonderful weeds herald a new season of abundance on the way and remind me its time to shrug off Winter’s comfy blanket and get my body outdoors again.
The young leaves can be added to salads but be warned too many and you’ll experience their diuretic action. It’s not called pissenlit in France for nothing! A tea of the leaves (fresh or dried) or tincture can be helpful as a gentle kidney tonic and for fluid retention.
The root works more on the digestive system especially our livers making it a great spring tonic to any sluggishness we’ve accumulated over winter whether from lack of exercise, heavy foods or perhaps a bit of over-indulgence J You can try a tincture or either boil up the root or try some roasted Dandelion coffee (not the granules) instead of one or more of your usual coffees. Prepare it in a cafetiere in the morning for a positive start to the day (that will also gently get your bowels moving). Its also great after dinner as there’s no caffeine to disturb your sleep as well as promoting good digestion. Remember if your liver is working well to aid digestion and metabolise all those hormones and toxins, it can better address other health issues prevalent at this time of year from stress, depression and low energy to skin problems and hormonal issues. More info (link to MM)
April Herb of the Month Horsechestnut Ahh the beautiful flowers are one of the most magnificent sights of Springtime. If you’ve never done so, make this the year to really get up close to the blooms, they’re truly beautiful and smell divine. It’s a great way to connect with Nature as well as earmarking your conker supply for next autumn ;) In the past, the flowers have been added to baths to aid relaxation ( a dreamy experience as long as you don’t mind a few beasties in the bath with you!) but it’s the seeds or conkers that are used to make herbal medicines. Its generally recommended in tincture or tablet form as its important to control the dosage (too much and it may irritate the stomach). Traditionally its used for varicose veins.. just think of all the power in those tree trunks aiding your venous return (your blood flow back to the heart).. and other venous issues such as haemorrhoids. More info
May Herb of the Month Hawthorn Its frothy white flowers mark the beginning of the warmer weather as referred to in the Yorkshire saying “Ne’re cast a clout (don’t take off your coat), til May (Hawthorn the May tree) is out”! Its flowers are a mild diuretic and traditionally used in infusions to reduce high blood pressure. The berries which are ripe September time make an excellent home tincture which may be used as a heart tonic both physically, for example in cardiovascular disease, and emotionally, for example to help with heartache or for those who are prone to giving too much of themselves or exhaust themselves being the ‘heart and soul’ of something. Its in the Rose family after all. More info
June Herb of the Month Elderflower So summer is finally here! Known as natures medicine chest, all parts of the Elder have been used for their therapeutic properties. Because it was highly valued, it’s one of the most magical trees and a place to be close to the fairies! The beautiful creamy flowers are particularly good for all snotty conditions from runny noses to hayfever and sinusitis. They also promote perspiration and so are traditionally given ‘to break a fever’. Its one of the key ingredients in my ‘Cold and Flu’ tea and hayfever teablends. Emotionally, I find its diffusive qualities help in opening you up to new ideas and perspectives and in becoming more sensitive to the subtler energies in life… Its also a diuretic so not advised to be drunk before bed or a long bus journey! More info
July Herb of the month Limeflower I just love lazing under limeflower trees… its like a being beneath a herbal honey waterfall with all the bees buzzing among the sweetly scented flowers… sooo soothing. And that’s its key quality: to soothe the mind and nerves making it an excellent remedy for anxiety, sleeping problems or stress-related blood pressure issues. It also tastes lovely and is super safe so great for fretful or poorly children. Ideal for those times when you need a loved one to stroke your brow, allowing those worries to just melt away and feeling everything will be ok again. The flowers blend beautifully with chamomile and rose petals and you’ll find it in my Relaxation and Sleep Easy tea blends. It’s handy to have as a tincture but I find I mainly use it as an infusion so you get the added benefits of the sweet smell and taste, the warm mug in your hands and the soothing smoothing experience in your mouth and throat as you drink it. More info.
August Herb of the Month Meadowsweet Queen of the meadows and once widely prized in mead making (I so want to have a go at this!), this gorgeous herb with her frothy cream flowers adorns the waysides and river banks at this time of year. Her leaves are high in anti-inflammatory salicylates and the name Aspirin derives from Meadowsweet’s old Latin name Spiraea (‘A-spirea’ from-Spiraea). Identification wise, the crushed leaves are reminiscent of ‘Germalene’ if you’re unsure. Traditionally its used for aches and pains but also as an antacid and to address stomach irritation (in contrast to the drug Aspirin’s damaging effect on the gut lining). Interestingly it doesn’t have the blood thinning effect of Aspirin either and is a good example of how pharmaceutical drugs even if derived from plants are completely different from Nature’s original creations which have been tried and tested by mankind for thousands of years. It has quite an astringent taste and so blends well with chamomile, liquorice and/or peppermint. I mix it with lemon balm, peppermint and fennel in my ‘Digestive tea blend’. More info.
September Herb of the Month Elderberry It is said the British Summer begins when the Elder flowers and officially ends with her berries but lets not get depressed about it, lets just get out there! For me, the lush juicy berries are symbolic of the abundance of life found everywhere at this key foraging and harvesting time. Its time to reap all the solar enriched fruits of the summertime to see us through the darker restorative days of Winter. Elderberry syrup has traditionally been taken through winter to ward away coughs and colds and clinical studies have now proven the berries anti-viral effect. You can easily make a home tincture of elderberries or have a go at making elderberry syrup. Or you can always buy some tincture when you need it and for now just pick a few berries to add to an apple and blackberry crumble with some ginger and cinnamon… delicious J More info
October Herb of the month Rosehips So the chilly mornings are finally here but that’s good because we need a first frost to sweeten and soften our rosehips before they’re past harvesting. Rich in vitamin C, it makes a great immune tonic for the winter months. I make rosehip syrup with my daughter every year, her middle name is Rose, and it’s a really bonding, fun and heartwarming experience. Roses are all about nurturing, compassion and openness, making rosehips essentially ‘Love berries’! Similarly preparing them takes a little time but is so worth the effort and makes the perfect gift for your loved ones. C’mon, lets cook up some love everyone J Rosehip syrup recipe. More info