Wednesday, 30 September 2009
Early this Spring when we had first moved into our new home, I noticed a spotted green leafy plant with pinkish-violet bell-shaped blossoms growing in the back garden. As we were landscaping the front garden and has as yet no early bloomers in the border, I moved a clump of this plant there. Later when at the garden centre I asked what this plant was, and was given the named 'Pulmonia'. I now know that it is actually called Pulmonaria Officinalis and that it has been used medically for hundreds, perhaps thousands, of years in Europe.
I used an infusion of 5 fresh leaves of this plant infused for 10 minutes in a cup of near-boiling water today to treat my husbands sore throat. Though the remedies I've read called for dried leaves, I thought to give fresh ones a go. He does say his throat feels better and it's only been about 15 minutes since he gargled the tea. As there are some toxins in this plant, any application should either be external or used as a gargle - but not swallowed.
The following was taken from www.herbsociety.org.uk :
Medicinally only the leaves are used. They contain saponins, allantoins, silica, flavonoids, tannins, vitamin C and mucilage. Lungwort has long been used as a herbal treatment for lung diseases, such as tuberculosis, asthma and coughs. The success of lungwort in treating these conditions may be down to the fact that it contains antibiotics which act against bacteria. The silica and allantoin content of lungwort may be the reason this herb is recommended for its wound healing properties and for use externally for treating eczema, hemorrhoids, varicose veins, wounds and burns. The leaves are astringent and have been used to help staunch bleeding.
When made into a tea, the leaves are also used as an expectorant, to relieve congestion and ease a sore throat (often mixed with coltsfoot and cowslip flowers).
The leaves are astringent and have been used to help staunch bleeding. When made into a tea, the leaves are also used as an expectorant, to relieve congestion and ease a sore throat (often mixed with coltsfoot and cowslip flowers).
Wednesday, 23 September 2009
I'm currently reading this book called 'Wisdom, Memory and Healing - The History of Domestic Plant Medicine' by Gabrielle Hatfield. Being incredibly interested in healing plants I wanted to learn a bit more about herbal medicine as practiced in the UK. This book describes numerous home therapies and medicines recounted from oral tradition and also outlines the history of their use. While most modern medical practitioners consider using home remedies a quack, Ms. Hatfield argues that the literate wrote their stereotypes and misunderstood perceptions of traditional medicine and the oral tradition which kept them alive into being - and that a majority of the population has been influenced by these prejudices.
While there seems to be quite a bit of detail outlining contraceptive medicine, traditional herbal remedies for burns, headaches, toothaches, flu, colds, rheumatism, cuts, bruises, bone breaks and other various ailments are also provided.
Who would ever have known that the Elder tree could have as many health and healing benefits that it does? I'm going to have to go home and have another sample of my Elderberry jam!
Sunday, 13 September 2009
A few weeks ago Ross and I tried to hunt down an orchard of plum trees on park land that a guy down at the allotments told us about. We spent about two hours hiking along the woodside park trails and forest but couldn't find it. However, we did find Elderberries...tons of them! As soon as I got home I put the berries in the freezer - I'd read that the berries taste much better after a frost. They are now merrily bubbling away on the stove, destined for Elderberry jam. I'm taking a chance on this idea as firstly, I've never made it before and secondly, I've never tasted ElderBERRY anything before in my life! Am always up for new things though so fingers crossed. Anyway, if we don't like it then I guess some of our friends and family will be lucky enough to get a homemade jar of Elderberry jam for Christmas!
2 peeled and cored granny apples
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp vanilla
I brought the elderberries and apple to a boil and then continued boiling for about 20 minutes.
Then I sieved the fruit mixture into another pan - in the end I was left with 2.5 cups of juice.
I added the lemon juice, vanilla and sugar into the mixture and returned to a boil.
Boil for an hour or until the setting point has been reached.
Pour the hot jam into still warm glass jars and seal
(Earlier I boiled the jars and left them to dry on a clean kitchen towel until needed).
Saturday, 12 September 2009
In a few weeks time I'll take part in a wild mushroom hunting course in a park in London. I'm so excited about it that I'm sure I've convinced a few of my colleagues that I'm a bit of a nutter. I remember hunting down Shaggy Manes (Shaggy inkcaps) as a child and am excited to learn to identify more types of edible mushrooms.
To get a head-start in my fungal education, I bought a Shitake Mushroom kit from online. Thus far, I've placed the set in the sunlight for a couple of weeks then submerged the set in a bucket for 48 hours. Five days ago I took the set out of the bucket and placed it back in its container out in the conservatory. I'm excited to see that quite a few mushrooms are starting to emerge (see picture). My husband is convinced they're going to poison him but I'm really looking forward to cooking them up in a nice stir-fry when they get a bit larger.
I went downstairs this morning to make a cup of coffee and decided to water the tomato plants as well. It must have been the water or maybe they are getting a bit big for their boots but two of them fell straight over. As guilty as I felt, I had to hack them down to a more manageable size. Shame that so many green tomatoes had to be cut off as well but I'm hopeful that they will mature in the sun!