Saturday, 25 May 2013

Herbalism

Dandelion juice on left, Shepherd's Purse syrup on right.
It's been a while! A holiday and a horrible bug have meant I had a blogging break, but I'm back to share some news of a fun new hobby I've resumed. As I'm all about embracing nature and natural medicine I have been interested in herbalism for a few years now.
I noticed this crop of Shepherd's Purse outside our back gate, and we've some great juicy dandelions in our garden thanks to all the rain:
Shepherd's purse
The state of my back lawn! Dandelions
This book was a birthday present last year, and it's brilliant to see all the edible plants we walk by every day without realising their uses.
A great resource
Sample of pages from the Complete Herbal book
So rather than spending money on dandelion teabags, why not brew your own? I did it by taking a large handful of dandelion leaves, boiling them in enough water to cover them, then once soft I blitzed them with the handheld blender in the pot, and reduced the pulpy liquid over the heat for a few more minutes. Then I poured it through a wire tealeaf strainer. I wanted a concentrated juice I could keep in the fridge and add to boiling water for a quick herbal tea without all the infusing and straining each time.

I did the same with the shepherd's purse, and added honey to preserve it as a syrup, as it won't be used as much, it's more for medicinal use. I haven't checked if they're contraindicated for pregnancy / breastfeeding, so please be cautious, as all herbs have medicinal properties and can be toxic in large doses.

I love the idea of having a medicine cabinet full of my own decoctions, tinctures and syrups for all our families needs. I've done the odd thyme / honey syrup, but it's a lot of hassle to make fresh when you are sick, so the idea of preserving these medicines for future use really appeals.

You could also freeze them in ice-cube trays, then store in a freezer bag, for quick herbal teas, though I haven't checked if freezing changes the active nature of the herbs.

Basically I haven't a clue, I'm only playing around for now, and thought some of you might be interested to see the results. Please let us know below if you have had success with your own herbal teas / remedies, or link to any good sites you refer to.

Hope you're all well and enjoying the summer, it seems to have arrived finally!
Nee x

3 comments:

  1. Welcome back Niamh, missed your blog. Hope everyone well again and that you had a nice holiday. Do the potions taste a bit yuck?!

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  2. I'm playing catch up so only just saw this and am so interested as I'm in the midst of 'going herbal' too! I've just taken a couple of day courses with a herbalist friend so am now embracing my nettles and dandilions instead of cursing them. I've been taking a combination of nettle, dandilion, cleavers and plantain as a tea for detox, lemon balm tea to calm me down when I get worked up (usually over nothing, it's just an unfortunate personality trait) and thyme tea when anyone in the house is getting a cough. I'm also growing sage which is meant to be great for loads of things but I don't use it much as I don't want to risk reducing my milk supply. I plan to plant fennel (good for sore tummies), calendula (great antiseptic) and comfrey (wound healer). I've been gradually getting rid of all the herbal tea bags in the cupboard in favour of the real thing growing right outside my door. Nothing beats it! x

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    Replies
    1. Brilliant tips thanks Jennifer! I adore sago too, but have stopped using it and mint too for the milk-drying effects. Damn, I used to love a good mojito ;) Yes, it's way cheaper to make your own herbal teas, though I've still to find a good recipe for chai, can't beat the shop-bought one yet. Never heard of cleavers, must Google them!
      Thanks for taking the time to read and share your tips! xx

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