“Mister Elderberry, how are you today”, said the wayfaring man walking along the path. “I’m actually feeling quite well indeed, is there anything I can help you with, as those in the know, know I have so much to offer” replied Mr Elderberry. “Oh really!?” said the wayfaring man, “Yes, I am the ‘Poor Man’s Pharmacy” declared Mr Elderberry.

Elder, has been in use since the ancients Egyptians and has not been out of use right up until today, and since colds and flus are just so common these days, it should be in everyones ‘medicine cabinet’, or at least growing somewhere in the backyard.

Elder was once known by the ‘ancients’ as “rixus, ixus or akte”, but was later on called Sambucus, which dates from the early Greek times who called it Sambuke, coming from the name of a harp made from the wood and was then to become part of its botanical name.

The term Elder, is said to come from the Anglo Saxon words ‘Ellaern or Aeld’, which mean either fire or kindle, due to the fact that the stems could be hollowed out and used to start fires.

Elder, especially the common Elder – Sambucus nigra, is native to Europe, North Africa and Western Asia, and don’t forget the American Elder – Sambucus canadensis, a native to North America, was used by the first nation peoples there.

It is thought that the original pipes of pan were made from Elder, as the common Elder can be easily hollowed out, if it can’t, you have the wrong variety. Plus, the English boys of old used to hollow out its stems to make a ‘pop gun’, as Mr Nicholas, mentions in his book stating,

“I hold it needless to write any description of this, since every boy that plays with a pop gun will not mistake another tree instead of elder:”

He does go on to speak on behalf of Dwarf Elder, but this must only be handled by a experienced herbalist, as it is much stronger than the common Elder.

The book “Memoirs Illustrative of the Life and Writings of John Evelyn“, written by John Evelyn in the 17th century, mentioned Elder by saying,

“If the medicinal properties of its leaves, bark, and berries were fully known, I cannot tell what our countrymen could ail for which he might not fetch a remedy from every hedge, either for sickness or wounds.”

The Weed File

There are two types of Elder bush or shrub that are considered when thinking ‘Elder’, and they are the European or Common Elder – Sambucus nigra or the American Elder – Sambucus canadensis. The European variety grows to a height of 7m / 22′ tall and the American variety grows to a height of 3m / 11′ tall, both have value.

There is the lesser known Golden Elder – Sambucus nigra ‘Aurea’, known for its golden yellow leaves.

Ultimately, there are many other varieties, but a couple you may need to be careful of are the Dwarf Elder – Sambucus ebulus, as all parts are somewhat poisonous, and the Red Elder – Sambucus racemosa, as the seeds are poisonous until properly cooked.


How To Use Elder

Medicine, cosmetics and cooking are the three main ways the Elder and its various parts get used.

Medicinally in infusions, decoctions, syrups and tinctures, which are used either directly for specific conditions, or they are used in combination with other treatments, such as compresses, poultices, lotions, ointments, creams, salves and washes and soaks.

For cosmetics, it has being shown that the flower is good for the skin, which can be used in some kinds of creams or lotions, but even the infusion of the flower can help simply as a skin cleanser, especially for greasy skin. An extension of this could be to use the flower in poultices and compresses, or even a soaking bath, which sounds good to me!

The Elderflower can make an interesting flavoured cordial or an iced Elderflower water, also the berries and flowers can be used in pancakes, fritters, cakes, tarts and fruit minces, added to jams and jellies or even added to salads. Let alone in chocolate custard, hot beverages, soups, gingerbread men, and vinegars. Plus, the berries can be used as a replacement for capers or raisins.

Herbal Teas

Teas are one of my favourite ways to consume most herbs, and here you can use the flower in a tea, which makes a great night cap. Plus, they ensue many of its other benefits, as well as being enjoyable.

Simple Elder Tea

  • Place 1 to 2 teaspoons of the flower into a cup (Less, if using dried flowers)
  • Pour in boiling hot water and cover
  • Allow to infuse for 5 minutes
  • Either strain or drink as is

Good to drink 3 times per day, but if you are after more therapeutic value, then you’ll need to drink it every 2 hours until things settle down.

If you drink the tea ‘hot’, then it tends to have an excitable stimulating affect, but if you allow it to go cold, then it is more sedative and can have a laxative affect. You can also use cold tea to soothe and help to heal chapped skin and infected or sore eyes.

Customised Elder Teas

Simply by adding a little lemon juice, steeping with lemon grass or adding peppermint, can really excite you Elderflower tea. Plus, you could also add Lemon balm, Chamomile, Rose petals or Lavender.

To make a more interesting tea, and make it more therapeutic, you can use it with equal parts of peppermint and yarrow. This is great for preventing hayfever and reducing fevers.

Culinary Uses

There are many traditional recipes using its berries and flowers, so I am sure a little searching in the internet, should pull up a few very tasty treats.

The Elderberry is not eaten raw, but is used in some form of cooking process, such as making fruit mince pies (from dried berries) and tarts (with apple), jellies and jams go well with crabapple and in chutneys.

Being a berry, it can be mixed with any of the other berries, such as, blackberry, and raspberry, or frankly any other dried fruits such as raisins or sultanas.

Elderflower Fritters

Make a batter by combining 1 cup of flour, 1 beaten egg yoke, and add just a small amount of water until you have a smooth batter. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter and add it to the mix, and finally, fold in 1 stiffly beaten egg white.

Dip the Umbels – Flower heads into the mix and fry in hot oil. Once fried, remove and place them on a rack to drain. Serve them up immediately, with a gentle dash of your favourite sweetener.

Health Uses of Elder

Those who know something about Elder, know that it is excellent for coughs, colds and flus, but it also helps in their prevention, so here, it is especially great for children, being a powerful antiviral, as they just seem to pick up everything.

You can it for sinusitis, and for hayfever, and many other fevers and causes of fevers. Plus, when added to fennel, it can be a help to those with sciatica.

For hayfever, you can drink three cups of Elderflower tea each day, several months before the hayfever would normally begin. Also, if you are already suffering, you can eat the flowers straight to get some relief.

Externally, you can make washes for the mouth and sore eyes, or make a warm or cold compress to put on the eyes to sooth them. If you add it to a cream, it can be used on sore, inflamed and irritable skin, chapped lips and hands or itchy ‘nether regions’.

A very common issue with children and medicines is that it is ‘yucky’, but if you make an Elderberry Rob, you can add it to the medicine, to greatly improve its flavour.

Elderberry Rob

Elderberry Rob is great for adding to cough and cold medicines, or simply as a flavouring in a suitable meal, dessert or drink.

Ingredients
  • Collect enough Elderberries to produce 500ml / 1 pint of Elderberry juice
  • 1 teaspoon of Allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Ginger powder
Method
  • Squeeze all the juice out of the berries
  • Compost the seeds and the skins
  • Place the juice and the spices into a heavy bottomed saucepan
  • Under a low heat reduce down until it is a very thick consistency
  • Scrap into a clean sterile jar, label and store in a cool dry place

Should keep for 6 months.

Elderberry Ointment

Elder leaf ointment is useful for painful piles, and similar swellings and swollen joints, plus, it can be used in poultices and compresses.

Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup of Beeswax
  • 1/2 cup of Olive oil
  • 1/3 of a cup of Elder leaves (heaped)
Method
  • Gently melt the beeswax in a double boiler until clear
  • When thoroughly melted, add the olive oil and stir in
  • Now add the leaves and heat (don’t boil) until the leaves are crisp
  • Remove from the heat, finely strain and place in a shallow wide mouth jar
  • Seal and label

Should keep up to 6 months.

Elderberry Syrup

  • Place 1 cup of dried Elderberries into a bowl with 2 cups of water and cover and allow to soak over night or at least 8 hours
  • After soaking, put them into a blender and smash them up
  • Put this into a cloth and press out the juice, such as a tincture press
  • You only want the juice, so the skin and seeds can be sent to the compost bin
  • Put this juice into a saucepan and gently simmer down until about half
  • Either add 1 cup of vegetable glycerine or 1 cup of honey
  • When thoroughly mixed, strain or filter out any final particles
  • Pour into a dark coloured bottle, label and date

Store in the fridge and it should last about a year.

Oil of Elder

The essential oil can be used in petaled perfumery, added to body oils, and blend well with many other essential oils. Such as, Chamomile, Jasmine, Rose, Linden Flowers, Neroli, Ylang ylang, Geranium, Vanilla, Lavender, Lemon balm, Frankincense, Bergamot, Grapefruit, Lemon, and Lime.

Gardening Uses of Elder

Elder has such wonderful and delightful sprays of flowers that visually they make good additions to the garden, let alone its powerful smell. But it should be remembered that it is only the European variety that has the strong fragrance, not the American variety.

If you don’t want a solid fence, then Elder is an excellent plant to use as a hedgerows, for either privacy screening, wind protection or just to hide an ugly structure or object.

Apart from being used in hedgerows, two of the main reasons to grow Elder is its flowers, which have a beautiful scent, that can hang around for up to two months, starting in early summer. The berries, which can arrive early summer and into the autumn, have many uses or even just to feed the birds, if you’re too slow at picking them. They also help to attract both butterflies and bees, which many are welcome in the garden.

An interesting gardening use for Elder is where you make a strong decoction from the leaves, which becomes a contact insecticide for greenfly, aphids and caterpillars.

Other Uses

You can spray a decoction from the leaves on yourself to repel mosquitoes and flies.

Dyeing with Elder
  • If your after a black dye, you can use the bark of the tree
  • The root and leaves with alum supplies a green colour
  • The berries give a purple to blue colour

It is said that if any livestock, which has ‘foot-rot’, eats the bark and leaves of the Elder, then they should soon be on the way to healing.


How to Grow Elder

The Elder loves full sun and doesn’t mind ‘moist soils’ and isn’t very fussy where it grows so long as it is ‘reasonable’ soil. If you are short on space you can use pots, and container growing is possible, but, not the best way to go, so getting a ‘large’ pot would be helpful. If you do have a small garden, but don’t want to use pots, it can be used as a hedge, so as to block nosey neighbours or fill a ugly corner.

Elder is a deciduous perennial shrub/bush or tree, that depending on your variety can grow from 2 to 7m / 6.5′ to 23′. That develop sprays or umbels of beautiful white to cream flowers, that are 0.5cm / 1/4″ in diameter, and star shaped.

Elderberries can just about grow anywhere decent but prefer, sunny to partially shaded areas, mildly acidic (5.5 to 6.5) fertile soils that are well drained.

Tip: Cross pollinated flowers tend to produce bigger berries.

From Seed

Yes, you can grow from seed, but, on the whole, this is a much slower way to propagate. And honestly, I wouldn’t bother, for several reasons. 1) It takes a very long time from start to getting your first crop. 2) The germination rate is very poor, sometimes complete failure, and 3), there is no consistency with what you end up with and its parents.

  • Gather your berries mid to late summer, once the fruit has ripened. Place them into a bucket and smash them up a bit to allow the seed to separate and cover them with water.
  • Allow them to stand for 24 hours stirring them from time to time, shaking the seeds loose. Anything that floats to the surface is of no good, so throw that away. After the 24 hours decanter anything that floats off the top and collect the seeds at the bottom.
  • Clean up the seeds so that there is no fruit pulp left. Fill up some small pots with equal parts of course sand and clean potting mix. Place a few seeds in each.
  • Place the pots in plastic bags and keep the pots slightly moist and warm for at least 2 months by either keeping them in a hot house/ glass house, sun room or near a sunny window, so long as they stay between 24 to 27 C / 75 to 80 F.
  • Now you need to reduce the temperature to at least 4 C / 40 F for 3 to 5 months to copy what would happen in winter. (Cold scarifying)
  • After this period, remove the plastic and keep them warm in between 20 to 30 C / 68 to 85 F for 1 to 2 months. Keep the soil slightly moist and hopefully something might come up.
  • If more than one seedling comes up, pluck out the weaker ones and keep the healthiest. You can allow the soil to become a ‘little’ drier to prevent any rot etc.
  • Once the seedlings have become well established, and have become somewhat hardened, especially if the roots start popping out the bottom, transplant them out into your garden at about 2 to 3m / 6 to 10′ apart.

From Cuttings

The best time for cuttings is late summer to autumn, you can use root cuttings as well, but these seem to be more difficult to do.

To do a cutting, choose a soft branch that is going from green to brown and hardening up. Cut it up into 10 to 15cm / 4 to 6″ lengths, remove most of the leaves from the bottom up, but leave a few on top.

You can then choose to use water or potting mix.

Water

Place these cuttings into a glass jar and fill until the cuttings are about halfway up. Leave this jar in a sunny area for 1 1/2 to 2 months, changing the water regularly. Occasionally spray a mist over these to help prevent them from drying out. By about 2 months you should start seeing roots forming, but wait until they look strong and healthy before attempting to plant them into the ground.

Potting Mix

Before putting your cuttings in soil, first give them a soak for 12 to 24 hours. Then make up a mix of equal parts of sand and peat moss, and dampen this mix but not soaking wet. Place this moist mix into 5 to 10cm / 2 to 4″ pots and then place your cuttings into these pots to about a depth of 1/3. Place these pots either into a hot house/glass house or cover them with a clear plastic bag and tie them with a rubber band. Keep them in a well lit area but not in direct sunlight. Keep the potting mix only slightly moist.

After a month and a half, the roots should be starting form, and once roots just start to come out of the bottom. Remove the plastic and allow the plants to harden for a week in sunlight and then transplant them out into your garden.

Maintenance

For Elder, it is best to mulch instead of digging out the weeds, as digging them out can damage the roots. If any weeds do get through, then get a sharp pointy object, like a Philip’s screwdriver, and dig down beside the weed and wiggle him out.

Elder likes about 2.5 to 5cm / 1 to 2″ of water per week, so make sure you keep up the water to them and watch out for dry spells, as they don’t like drought.

For the first 1 to 2 years, do not prune them, but allow them to grow wild, even allow the first crop to fall to the ground, as this allows them to get firmly established, then your harvests will be better.

There are two times when you can prune the Elder, and that is in late autumn or early spring before any growth starts and the sap really gets going.

Pest and Diseases

On the whole, Elder doesn’t get too many issues so long as you follow its basic needs, such as good rich mulching, regular watering, good sun, slightly acidic soils that are well drained, but they can get a few issues.

They do suffer from iron deficiency, so if you see yellowing leaves it may be an idea to check the levels of iron.

Also, Verticillium wilt can affect them from time to time, and the other is leaf spot, and they can get attacked from black fly.


Collecting

Harvest the flowers once they come out in full, and have had enough time to dry off from the morning dew, and be careful not to bruise them. Make sure that they are free from damage and foreign particles and any bugs of course.

The berries are harvested in the autumn, once they are shiny and of a deep purple to black colour. Do not eat the Sambucus canadensis – American Elderberries raw, only cooked.

Drying

To dry the flowers, you place the umbels or flower heads upside down on fine mesh or netting, and keep them from touchy each other. Make sure that there is plenty air circulation, in a shady spot that is dry. Once the flowers are fully dry, you can just rub the flowers off their stems and place them into air tight containers for later use.

When properly dried, which may take up to a week, they should look and smell the same as before you dried them, but they will be a bit smaller.

To dry the berries, make sure that there completely dry and have no damage or foreign matter in or on them, watch out for insects and their eggs etc, and make sure to remove any unripe berries.

Usually the best time to harvest Elderberries, is about mid morning on a cloudy day. Place your berries on clean dry paper, or fine stretched out mesh or dry towelling and spread them out to prevent them from touching each other, or at least move them around regularly to get even drying.

Try to dry them on days of low humidity and at least 25 to 32 C / 75 to 90 F and receiving direct sunlight is good, but watch out for birds and insects which may want to eat or ruin them. You can put a clear glass or plastic cover above them to protect from birds, bugs, and dust etc.

Drying time normally takes three days, but may take longer depending on the climate etc. So pick hot dry days for drying and to test them for readiness is just to pinch them and feel if they are still soft and moist, if they are, just leave them for a few days longer. In the end they should look like a lot like raisins.

Storage

The best way to store the blossoms and berries is to use dark coloured glass jars that seal very well, and keep them in a cool, dry and dark place. If stored properly, they should last up to a year, or at least until next harvest.


Herbalism

The information below is for informational and education purposes only. So please do not “self-treat”. When seeking any ‘therapeutic’ advice always see a Qualified Health Care Professional first.

Common names:

Elder, Common Elder, Elderberry, Elderflower, Sambuco, Pipe tree and Black Elder

Botanical Name:

Sambucus nigra, S. canadensis

Parts used:

Flower, berry, leaf or outer and inner bark

Dosage:

Daily minimum to maximum dosage: 6.0 – 12.0 grams (Varies on which part.)

Main actions:

  • Berry – Antiviral, anti-inflammatory, immune enhancing, antioxidant, diaphoretic, laxative, diuretic (urinary antiseptic)
  • Flower – Diaphoretic, emollient, anti-catarrhal, astringent
  • Bark – Laxative
  • Inner bark – Hydragogue / cathartic (purgative), emetic

Indications:

  • Berry – Influenza, common cold, all other acute viral infections.
  • Flower – Common cold, influenza, acute sinusitis – all acute doses, acute infections with fever, pleurisy, acute bronchitis, measles – all acute doses, chronic sinusitis, hay fever, otitis media – bacterial or serous, pharyngitis, laryngitis, nasopharyngeal catarrh, catarrhal deafness, sinus headache.
  • Flower – Asthma with sinusitis
  • Bark and berry – Constipation

Constituents:

  • Berry – Anthocyanins – sambucin, sambucyanin, flavonoids – rutin and quercetin; astragalin, isoquercitrin; essential/volatile oil, ascorbic acid, pectin, tannins, sterols.
  • Flower – Flavonoids, phenolic acids, triterpenes, essential/volatile oil.
  • Leaves – Sambunigrin
  • Bark – Resins
  • Seeds and Bark – Cyanogenic glycosides

Safety concerns:

  • Herbal preparation of the Berries – Safe for children. Anthocyanin constituent unstable in liquid form, although use caution with pregnancy and when lactating.

Adulterants:

  • Berry – None known.
  • Flower – Sambucus ebulus


Please remember, this blog cannot and should not replace a health care professional, and is for informational and educational purposes only and is not for medical advice or treatment, and no cure is implied in any way. If you have a known serious condition, or are pregnant, please consult your health care professional, before use.

Kind Regards,

Russell a.k.a Herbal Panda

Website: http://www.theherbarius.com.au

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Email: theherbalist@theherbarius.com.au

Sales: sales@theherbarius.com.au

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“Berries are the lollies of creation, if only we would stay off the man made ones”

Herbal Panda

“Hello, can you help me?” asked the man at the markets. “I am looking for a lady who is full of colour, flavour and carries herself with style … do you know of anybody?” added the man. “Indeed I do,” replied the lady across the market stall, “you must be looking for Miss Turmeric I believe … she is the only one fitting that description,” the lady continued.

There are many spices that should be in everyone’s diet and one of the best is Turmeric. It appears that although it has been in use for thousands of years, especially in India, China and other Asian countries, turmeric is a relative new comer to the west. Yet by simply putting it in your food and drink, it can do so much good, both in prevention and healing of dozens of conditions. These benefits can happen either directly or indirectly from its use. So lets learn something about this wonderful herb, and start adding it to your daily routine.

The earliest mentions I can find with the use of turmeric started during the Vedic period, which began about 1500 B.C., where it was first used as a dye, and since then it has been used for culinary, cosmetic and medicinal purposes. Nobody seems to know exactly where it originated from, but probably the best guess is western India, which is the Indo-Gangetic Plains of the Indian subcontinent.

Somewhere from there, it must have spread quickly across the trade routes into various Asian countries where it grows wild and especially into China, and also into Africa. We know this because it has been used in China medicinally also for thousands of years.

In China, as in many cultures, yellow was very important and only the emperor was allowed to wear yellow.

As turmeric travelled up into medieval Europe, it was used as an alternative to saffron, gaining its name Indian saffron, because saffron was then and is still now, very expensive.

There is a product called Curcuma paper, or Turmeric paper, which was developed around the 1870’s, where a paper was brushed in a tincture of turmeric and allowed to dry. When this paper came into contact with an alkaline substance it turned a reddish-brown. This was used for many years by chemists, but eventually, it was replaced with litmus paper.

The Eclectic/naturopaths of early America never really caught on to turmeric’s benefits, but now they are really starting to get in on the act. This is due to turmeric being a powerful anti-inflammatory and very high in antioxidants.

Weed File?

There are at least 133 species of turmeric, but medicinally, there are two types of turmeric and sadly both are called ‘turmeric’, just to add confusion, and they are Indian turmeric – Curcuma longa and Javanese turmeric – Curcuma zedoaria. Indian turmeric has a yellow/orange colour and Javanese turmeric has white flesh and the Chinese call it E Zhu.

The Chinese herbalist splits up the Indian turmeric into two groups, one is the Yu Jin, which is the primary central tuber, and Jiang Huang, which is the rhizomes or fingers.

In Chinese Traditional Medicine, qualities of the part can be considered warm and cool, amongst other things, and here the Yu Jin is cool, but the E Zhu and the Jiang Huang are warm, therefore they would be used in different ways. But all are good for neck, shoulder and upper back pain.


How To Use Turmeric

The uses of turmeric are really just growing in the West, even though it has been very well known in the East. Somehow, I just feel that many people are put off by this strange yellow to orange powder. I think partly the reason for being put off is due to its ‘pungency’ as putting in too much into your meal can be very strong, but honestly it can be added to many meals and drinks for that matter.

Turmeric has wonderful medicinal benefits worth using. A previous herbalist that I use to work with, use to by it by the barrel full for his clients, so much that he used it in his formulas. Some of the more evidence-based uses have been: Arthritis, eczema, endometriosis, pain, tendinitis, atherosclerosis, bursitis, carpel tunnel syndrome, cancer, cataracts, cirrhosis of the liver, gallstones (preventative), halitosis, periodontal disease, heart attacks, HIV/AIDS and indigestion.

Herbal Teas

Turmeric can make an excellent and health-o-licious tea, latte or what ever brew you design.

Simple Turmeric Tea

  • Finely chop 1/4 teaspoon of fresh turmeric rhizome and place it into a cup
  • Pour in boiling hot water
  • Allow to steep for five minutes
  • You can add some sweetener such as raw honey, stevia, or erythritol and a slice of lemon.

Customised Turmeric Teas

Turmeric can have quite a range of other teas and herbs added to it to create fascinating taste sensations, that are worth investigating, even just for the fun of it.

Some of the herbs and fruits that could be added or combined with turmeric could be: Hibiscus, Pomegranate, Orange, Lemon, Guava, Cardamom, Cranberry, Ginger, Mint, Saffron,  Lemongrass, Bergamot, Cinnamon, Pepper, Cloves, Nutmeg, Moringa, Fennel and Tulsi.

Golden Milk

Ingredients

  • 2 cups coconut milk, creamier the better
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1cm / 3/8″ of grated ginger
  • Cinnamon and nutmeg powder
  • To sweeten use either raw honey, stevia, or erythritol

Method

  • Place all the ingredients in a saucepan (except honey, but the dry sweeteners, yes) and stir well.
  • Heat over medium heat until it starts to bubble
  • Turn down to low and simmer for about 5 minutes so that the flavours combine
  • Strain out the grated ginger
  • Add honey now if using honey and stir
  • Sprinkle with a little cinnamon and nutmeg

Serves 2, because its good to share

Culinary Uses

It is one of the main ingredients of curries and curry powders, and even more so with commercially made powders. Depending on what you are trying to achieve, if you add turmeric to the oils at the beginning of the cooking process, you will get a more ‘pungent’ dish, but if you add during the cooking then you will have a more milder flavour.

I won’t add any recipes here, as really there would have to be thousands of them out there, but I would certainly invite you to hunt one down and enjoy it. Quite simply. it wouldn’t take much to tempt me, because I enjoy a little curry powder in my egg and lettuce sandwiches.

Although its the rhizomes that are usually dried and made into powder for cooking etc., some folks use the leaves to cook the food in or for flavouring, for example, fish and sweets, as the leaves promote a warm, rich and sweet aroma and others use the flower in their cooking, this is done in Thai cooking. The leaves are picked during the growing season.

A do-it-yourself Curry Powder

Stir and mix together, 10g of ginger, 5g of cayenne pepper, 30g of turmeric powder, 30g of cardamon powder and 30g of coriander seed powder. Place in a recycled herb shaker and use when needed.

Health Uses of Turmeric

Traditional Ayurvedic uses have been to treat inflammation, gastric disorders and coughs and colds. If you want to ‘up-the-ante’, as they say, add a little pepper into the mix as this increases the absorption rate of the constituents. This is caused by the ‘piperine’ in pepper, slightly irritating the stomach lining, allowing the constituents to pass through, ultimately creating better efficacy. Or another way to assist with absorption is to eat it with healthy fats, such as coconut or olive oils, this is because curcumin is ‘fat soluble’. When I personally use curcumin, and extract of turmeric, I often throw in a little turmeric to assist it, as whole herbs are generally better than extracts, due to the synergistic workings of herbs.

It can be used as or in a poultice, or directly placed on cuts or minor burns, infected wounds, bruises, acne, ringworm, sprains, and oedema, and it has been used to alleviate itching or hair removal. Remember that turmeric can stain.

Some suggest that you should not use turmeric when you are trying to conceive, that is, falling pregnant, as it may reduce fertility, or even not to use it during pregnancy, or that you shouldn’t use turmeric long term. If anyone is unsure, then don’t use therapeutic doses. I am personally not sure why this is so, and I will present my argument like this:

The Indian women have been using turmeric in their meals basically for thousands of years, they were breastfed from the moment they were born by mothers who ate turmeric and until the moment they died, they would have consumed turmeric every day of their lives, yet India’s population was 1.37 billion in 2019. Doesn’t sound like a problem to me, maybe some better studies are needed.

Traditional Chinese Medicine and Turmeric

With TCM, you really need to divide the turmeric into two groups, one is the tuber, which is the primary central tuber or round, and the other is the rhizome or fingers that come off the tuber, as these have different energy and flavours and affect different organs, and therefore has different actions.

The tuber (Yu Jin)

  • Reduces associated pains and moves Blood and breaks Stasis
  • Regulates the Liver and relieves patterns of Stagnant Qi with pain
  • Clears the Heart and Cools the Blood
  • Relieves Stagnation and clears Heat in the Liver and Gallbladder

The Rhizome (Jiang Hunag)

  • Unblocks Stasis and moves Blood
  • Brings about the movement of Qi and reduces pain
  • Clears the meridians and expels Wind and moves Blood to relieve pain

Oil of Turmeric

‘doTERRA’, one of the leaders in essential oils suggest Turmeric oil internally for:

  • Supporting healthy glucose and lipid metabolism
  • May enhance cellular antioxidant enzymes (e.g. glutathione)
  • May help support healthy nervous and cellular function
  • Shown to increase curcumin potency and absorption
  • Could promote healthy immune function and response

Externally

  • Maintains clean and healthy-looking skin and reduces blemishes

For further info contact doTERRA

Gardening Uses of Turmeric

Although turmeric is grown mainly for its ‘tuber/rhizome crop’, it does have a beautiful floral spike with dainty yellow to cream flowers peeking out of pockets. You can get different varieties that produce different flowers too. The plant itself does have a worthy looking stalk and lance-shaped leaves, which can add interest to the garden, giving shape, variety and colour to the garden.

Turmeric can be a very productive crop and in one season if grown well, one plant should produce a bucketful of healthy brown rhizomes, which are a orange yellow on the inside.

Other Uses

Due to its powerful yellow colouring ability, turmeric is excellent as a natural dye, this not only includes cloths, silk and cotton, but it is used to colour medicines, paints and varnishes, and also foods, such as cheese and yogurts and confectionaries.

Warning, warning!

I must add, that turmeric really does have a wonderful ability to stain, and if you are using the extract curcumin, as I have done, the tiniest bit can spread like you wouldn’t believe. Just get a speck on your fingers and for some strange reason it ends up ‘everywhere’!


How to Grow Turmeric

Turmeric is a tropical and subtropical herbaceous perennial plant that is part of the Zingiberaceae family, typically, it is propagated during the spring from either its primary central tuber (sometimes called rounds) that are actually a ‘modified stem’, or from the side shoots called rhizomes, which are also called fingers. The plant can produce actual tuberous roots, which form at the distal ends of the normal roots, these are of no real value.

The reason these are classified as modified stems is due to the fact that they have ‘nodes and internodes. Therefore, it is not a root crop.

The plant can grow to a height of 1m /3′ or more and its leaves are of a lance shape. The spread of the rhizome is unknown, as in, depending on its conditions it could be large or small.

It has a pocket lined floral spike of about 20cm / 8″ long, that is yellow-green in colour and its actual flowers are yellow to creamy white popping out from those pockets, but it does have other variations of colours with pinks.

Turmeric prefers growing in well drained soils that are rich in humus and also prefers a slightly acid soil. It can be planted in either full sun (very hot regions should reduce to part sun) or shade, but give it plenty mulching to prevent weeds competing against it and to preserve moisture. Cuttings and division is normally done in spring and if you are growing in cool to cold climates, then usually the crop be will smaller.

From Seed

The seed from the turmeric flower is sterile, so you cannot propagate from its seed (although some varieties may be viable). I would personally believe that once it was, but due the man crossbreeding to develop more productive varieties etc., that now its sterile. And honestly it is quicker and easier to grow from the rhizomes.

From Cuttings

You can grow turmeric from both the rhizomes, which are the fingers of the sides and the primary central tubers; and when taking cuttings, it must have at least one ‘tooth bud’ or eye/horn. The easiest place to find your rhizomes is at the fruit and veggie shop, just make sure you find the healthiest and freshest piece you can find, or order online.

Place these into a shallow pot of potting mix that is about the same size or slightly larger as the rhizome itself. Only cover the rhizome until the toothed bud is just poking out of the mix. This will now need to be kept over and above 20C / 68F and keep the soil moist and out of the sun. All going well, you should see shoots coming up in about 3 to 4 weeks, once the plant is established, then you can either plant it into a slightly larger pot or out into the garden.

From Division

Division is similar to propagating with cuttings as you are simply dividing the same, but now you are separating the sections of the rhizome and the stalk combined. Simply dig up the whole clump out of the ground, split apart the mass of rhizomes, trying to keep sections with at least a couple of buds on each. Replant these pieces into the ground or pots; support them especially if their tall and water them in.

Maintenance

Normally the only pruning that you will need to do is when the stalks die down at the end of autumn or beginning of winter, just to make them look nicer. Otherwise keep the ground slightly moist during the hotter growing months and allow it to become a little dry during the colder and cooler months.

Pest and Diseases

Turmeric normally doesn’t have too many problems with pests and disease, but it does get a few issues. The two pests you should be looking out for are red spider mite and scale, these normally can be controlled by washing or spraying them off with water, horticultural soap or using some other natural controls, such as, lace wings, lady beetles, birds, hoverflies, small wasps and ‘predacious’ thrips and mites.

The diseases that it make get are rhizome rot and leaf spot, the rhizome rot can usually be controlled by using well-draining soils and the leaf spot can sometimes be prevented by plenty of ventilation or controlled by a natural anti-fungal spray or you could try spraying a mix of 1/2 a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda to 4 litres of water / 1/2 teaspoon to a gallon.

Soil and Fertiliser

As mentioned above, make sure your soil is well draining, slightly acidic with lots of rotted compost and manure, and mulch on top. During its growing season, from spring to late autumn, add some organic pelletised or liquid fertiliser once a month.

Climate and Region

Turmeric is a tropical to subtropical plant, so of course it will grow better if this is where you live. If you are in much cooler climates, then it would be a good idea to either keep it in a pot where you can move it to warmer spots, or keep it in a hot house/ heated glass house during the colder months, as it will need to be kept above 18C / 65F.


Collecting

You will know when it is time to harvest and that is when you see the leaves start to go yellow and die down, which is usually around the end of autumn into early winter. Once you see this happen, use either a shovel or garden fork to dig up the clump of rhizomes with the stalks, shake out the dirt, and keep a few rhizomes for next season or replant them if you live in a warmer climate.

Typically it takes 8 to 10 months depending where you live to produce a mature crop, so if you live in tropical to subtropical climates then you can plant, harvest and replant every 6 months all year round.

Drying

  • Place the rhizomes into a saucepan and completely cover with just enough water
  • Boil the rhizomes for about 40 to 50 minutes
  • If there is any water left over just strain it off
  • At this stage you can either carefully remove the skin from the rhizomes or just leave them on
  • Now cut them up into thin slices, no more than 3mm / 1/8″ thick
  • Evenly spread over a dry paper towel or cloth towel not allowing any to touch each other
  • Dry them by exposing to direct sunlight.
  • Natural drying can take up to 2 weeks or more depending on where you are and how dry it is
  • You can dry these also in a dehydrator at 70C / 158F until completely dry
  • Oven drying is one of the quickest, drying at 77 to 94C / 170 to 200F for 1 1/2 to 2 hours

Making Turmeric Powder

Once you have thoroughly dried your turmeric slices, place them into a blender or coffee or spice grinder, and grind until you have powder. It doesn’t hurt to sieve the powder occasionally to remove the fines so that you can keep breaking down the larger particles.

Storage

Very dry powder should last for up to a year or two if stored in a air-tight container out of sunlight. For real freshness and aroma, always dry and grind turmeric freshly and only produce what you will use each time. And if you are making your own, you will know where it came from and that there are no adulterants added.


Herbalism

The information below is for informational and education purposes only. So please do not “self-treat”. When seeking any ‘therapeutic’ advice always see a Qualified Health Care Professional first.

Common names:

Indian turmeric, Indian saffron, Yellow ginger, Karmin, Haldii, Haridra, Gauri, Curcuma, Curcuma domestica, Curcuma rotunda and Yellow turmeric

Botanical Name:

Curcuma longa

Parts used:

Rhizome or tuber

Dosage:

Daily minimum to maximum dosage: 4.0 – 12.0 grams

Main actions:

Anti-inflammatory, aromatic, anti-platelet, antioxidant, hypolipidaemic, digestive, choleretic, blood purifier, stomachic, carminative, cholagogue, bile stimulant, detoxifier and regenerator of liver tissue, tonic, astringent, analgesic, antifungal, antibacterial, alterative, anti-cancer, and anti-tumour

Indications:

Peptic ulcer – includes helicobactor, dyspepsia, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, Enhances phase 1 & 2 liver detoxification, asthma, topical for chronic skin disorders, cholesterol, liver and gallbladder disease/insufficiency, salmonella, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, cancer preventive, eczema, cardiovascular disease preventative, digestive weakness, psoriasis, amenorrhoea, dysmenorrhoea, diarrhoea, epilepsy, and pain. Plus, Alzheimer’s and cardiovascular disease, cystic fibrosis, hypercholesterolaemia

Constituents:

Borneol, eugenol, alpha-pinene, alpha-terpineol, azulene, beta-carotene, caffeic acid, caryophyllene, cineole, diarylheptanoids – yellow pigments, essential oil, curcuminoids, curcumin, methyloxylated curcumins, sabinene, sesquiterpene ketones, ar-turmerone, guaiacol, limonene, linalool, 1,8-cineole, p-coumaric acid, p-cymene, vanillic acid, zingiberene, vitamins, minerals, protein and bitters

Safety concerns:

Caution with high doses in anti platelet and anticoagulant drugs, also with gallstones, obstructive jaundice, acute bilious colic and toxic liver disease

Adulterants:

Adulterated with similar species or colourants



Please remember, this blog cannot and should not replace a health care professional, and is for informational and educational purposes only and is not for medical advice or treatment, and no cure is implied in anyway. If you have a known serious condition, or are pregnant, please consult your health care professional, before use.

Kind Regards,

Russell a.k.a Herbal Panda

Website: http://www.theherbarius.com.au

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Email: theherbalist@theherbarius.com.au

Sales: sales@theherbarius.com.au

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“Is your aroma to the sweetest therapy”

Herbal Panda

Ginger

“O Miss Ginger, what ales thee, I have found you to be so helpful to so many, what has happened” asked her good friend. “I am sadly becoming aware, … sniffle, sniffle, … that some folks are forgetting, sniffle, just how useful I am.” replied Miss Ginger. “Strange, very strange indeed” puzzled her friend,”I will see what I can do about this” her friend added.

Out of the many truly delicious herbs one can add to their diet, Ginger is one of my personal favourites, I even add it to my coffees, … shock, and ‘oh the horror’. So what do you add it to, and if not, why haven’t you tried? I have had literally hundreds of ginger teas as well, so versatile is this herb, especially in drinks and beverages, but don’t let me stop you there!

Ginger – Zingiber officinale, is one of those ancient herbs that has been used as much medicinally as culinarily for a very long time.

Shen Nung 神農, the legendary emperor, is believed to have been the author of the Chinese pharmacopoeia, “Shen-nung pen ts’ao ching or (Divine Husbandman’s Materia Medica). Revered for being the Father of Chinese Medicine and was believed to have ushered in the technique of acupuncture. He advised ginger for colds, fever, chills, leprosy and tetanus, plus, eliminating body odour.

Later on, the women of China also used it for menstrual discomfort, and when they suffered morning sickness, the Chinese sailors added it by chewing on it to prevent seasickness. Since then, Chinese Physicians used it for conditions such as, ulcers, kidney complaints and arthritis.

It is believed that one of the reasons why ginger was used in Chinese cooking, is because it is said to be the anti-dote to shellfish poisoning, as it does assist in killing Anisakis larvae and other parasites. It is also said that Confucius (551 to 479 B.C.) ate ginger with his meals to assist with digestion and as a carminative.

In 1500 B.C., which was the beginning of the Vedic age of India, the Sanskrit texts were beginning to be written, and within these texts ginger is mentioned, called ‘Maha- aushadhi’ which means – the Great Medicine.

Ancient traders from Greece discovered the use of ginger and brought it over to their country and they also used it as a digestive aid to ward off nausea after big meals. At first they would wrap a piece of bread around it, then adapted it into a sweet bread and ultimately became what we now call ‘ginger bread’.

Shortly after the Greeks had ginger, the Romans soon got in on the act, but by this stage, ginger was beginning to get rare. Thankfully, over period of time, trade pick up again, and this time, ginger began to travel throughout Europe. It is also interesting to note that the surgeon to both the emperors Claudius and Nero used ginger for the stomach.

Later on during the 1200s and 1300s ginger and pepper were one of the most traded of spices and the Arabian people sailed across to places such as, Zanzibar and East Africa to plant it in their coastal settlements.

The Europeans not to be out-done, took ginger bread into one of its most delectable forms, the gingerbread man, gaining further notoriety through the book written by the Brothers Grimm, Hansel and Gretel. It was also eaten by Queen Elizabeth the 1st, at royal dinners shaped like dignitaries, and it is mentioned in William Shakespeare’s comedy, Love’s Labour’s Lost , “An I had but one penny in the world, thou shouldst have it to buy ginger-bread,” Costard the Clown jests.

The English are believed to have turned ginger into that wonderful drink called ginger beer, which was also carried over to the early American colonies. Ginger beer was the predecessor to ginger ale, (not the modern soft drink version) which can be used for nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea.

The first peoples of America, the American Indians, used a native variety called Wild ginger or Canadian ginger – Asarum canadense, to treat digestive issues, to preserve food and flavour. The American early settlers used it as a spice and a candy, and the liquids were boiled down into a syrup, and medicinally it was use as a poultice amongst other things.

John Gerard in his book ‘The History of Plants‘, said “Ginger groweth in Spaine, Barbary, in the Canarie Islands and the Azores. Our men who sacked Domingo in the Indies, digged it up there in sundry places wilde” … “Ginger, Dioscorides reporteth, is right good with meat and sauces, or otherwise in conditures; for it is of an heating and digesting qualitie, and is profitable for the stomacke, and effectually opposeth it selfe against all darkness of the sight; answering the qualities and effects of Pepper.


How To Use Ginger

Believed to have originated in the Indian subcontinent and from there it gained the truism that, “Every good quality is contained in ginger”, and this is just correct today, as it is just so versatile.

So versatile that you can use it in sweet and savoury meals, such as, meat dishes, sweet and sours, and soups, dozens of desserts such as cheese cakes, ice cream, puddings, cakes, fruit pies, drinks and beverages, like ginger beer and ginger ales, kombucha, condiments such as sauces, pickles and chutneys, and the beauty of this is that you are getting its health benefits whilst enjoying its deliciousness.

Not to mention, that it has a range of medicinal benefits with so many of the issues we humans face on regular basis, it can help so easily by added it to a meal or drink.

Ginger has a range such interesting flowers and if the stalks are kept fresh, it can be used wonderfully in the garden as an ornamental.

Ginger flower

Herbal Teas

The thing about ginger tea, is that it is very easy to make, and at the same time you are getting many of its medicinal benefits just by drinking it. Then you can jazz things up a bit and add further herbs or fruits to the mix and increase flavour, aromas and health benefits all at the same time.

Simple Ginger Tea

The easiest way to make a ginger tea is to obtain a fresh knob or rhizome of ginger from the market, cut off about a tablespoon’s worth of thinly sliced ginger, place them into a cup, pour in boiling hot water and wait about five minutes, and enjoy.

You can if you want add a little sweetener like raw honey, stevia, agave nectar or erythritol.

Customised Ginger Teas

Ginger can go with so many other herbs, teas and fruits, and this allows you to customise your very own flavours and combinations, and not only that, they can be drunk hot or iced. They can even used in second ferments in making Kombucha, or just put in a few slices of ginger to the second ferment of kombucha or water kefir. To see how I make kombucha click here.

A quick list of possible herbs could be: chamomile, turmeric, lemon grass, lemon verbena, many of the mints, such as chocolate or apple mint, liquorice, sarsaparilla, and cinnamon, clove and nutmeg, or any of your normal teas such as black, green and white teas. Fruits and their juices could be lemon and lime, peach, pear, mango, grapefruit and orange.

Culinary Uses

Many of its culinary use are: curries of which it is a very important part, plus, various meat dishes and stews, soups, e.g. pumpkin soup, and grated in salads and vegetable meals and sides, such as, carrots, peas and beans or try in mashed sweet potatoes, dried crystallised sweets such as, crystallised ginger or try making your own and replace the sugar, and then there is the endless powdered uses for making ginger beer and ginger ale, for cakes, cup cakes, breads, buns and pastries, plus, biscuits, cookies and of course gingerbread men. But don’t forget putting it in your breakfast oatmeal or muesli or your morning smoothie or beverage such as a bullet proof coffee, but what about hot chocolate or carob?

Then there is the obvious Asian, African and Caribbean fantastically gorgeous meals to be had of which there are literally hundreds to choose from.

So, have I made you hungry yet? I hope so, so what are you waiting for, go and make one.

Beetroot, Carrot and Ginger Salad

Mix up in a bowl, one grated small (peeled) beetroot, one grated small (peeled) carrot, plus, 1/2cm to 1cm / 1/4″ to 3/8″ of peeled and grated ginger rhizome, one teaspoon of chopped basil, four sprigs of finely chopped parsley, the juice of 1/2 of a lemon and some salt to taste, and serve cool and fresh.

Making Ginger Beer

Making ginger beer is relatively simple to do and you can make rather large batches in readiness for hot summer days and parties. Since this method uses fermentation, it will have some health benefits just from that alone, as with all fermented foods and drinks, but I personally don’t go as far as making things alcoholic.

  • Put 1 teaspoon of powdered ginger into a cup
  • Add 1 teaspoon of sugar
  • 1/2 a teaspoon of dried yeast
  • Stir in 1/2 a cup of lukewarm water
  • Cover with a cloth and leave aside for about 1/2 an hour or until frothy
  • Then…
  • In a large clean plastic container dissolve 2 to 3 cups of sugar into 5 cups of boiling water
  • Add 1/2 the juice of a lemon (more if you want to)
  • Plus 1 teaspoon of ginger powder
  • When the first cup of frothiness is about double its size, add it to the bucket and mix
  • Allow it to stand for about 2 to 3 hours
  • Then bottle and seal for 3 days to brew, you will need about 12 large bottles
  • After 3 days put the bottles into the fridge
  • As they become cold drink and enjoy

If you don’t put them into the fridge, they will continue to ferment and may blow up, what a waste?! Some adventurous folks add other things to add flavour etc,. but these can make them blow up as well. You have been warned!

Health Uses of Ginger

The first consideration for ginger is the key term ‘diffusive stimulant’ when considering how ginger may be of a help to the body, meaning, its a substance that is intermingling and temporarily stimulates a physiological activity. Therefore, this herb can also help in the absorption of other herbs through the stomach.

Its most popular health benefits, are found in how it affects the digestive system, which are nausea and vomiting, with travel and morning sickness, flatulent colic, irritable bowel, and diarrhoea, plus, loss of appetite and low acid by stimulating digestive juices and even hiccups.

Most people actually mistaken their acid reflux or gastro-oesophageal reflux disorder (GORD) for high acid, but this is often wrong. Its your “low acid”, poor digestion, causing your stomach’s Lower oesophageal sphincter and Pyloric sphincter to malfunction causing acidic gases etc., to come up the oesophagus. How can you test this, easy, when you feel the acid rising, just take a small sip of apple cider vinegar, (watch out, as it does have a “KICK”), wow, it just went away didn’t it, how did adding acid, reduce the acid in your stomach if high acid was supposed to be your problem????

It should be noted that as far as some of the claims of ginger go, such as, helping and preventing travel sickness, plus, nausea and vomiting, that it doesn’t always work with everybody.

Its fresh fruit juice can be placed directly onto burns to reduce its pain. Plus, for those who are taking chemotherapy or have just had surgery, it is said to help with post-operative nausea. It can be incorporated into a liniments for external use.

It has been well used for reproductive issues such as poor menstruation during cold menstrual cramps and is said to improve your libido.

Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ginger

  • Ginger expels Cold and warms the Spleen
  • It expels Interior Cold and restores collapse of Yang
  • Warms the Lungs and helps in the expectoration of Cold Phlegm
  • Stops chronic bleeding caused by Cold

Oil of Ginger

One of the principle uses of ginger essential oil is its use in aromatherapy, which can affect us in so many ways, such as, possibly reducing post-operative nausea, but it does have many other practical and medicinal uses. From a medicinal point of view, ginger oil seem to demonstrate some anti-inflammatory properties, on the skin and with arthritis.

Essential oils are concentrated and therefore can be irritating to the skin etc., so always do a small test to see if there is any possible chance of a reaction. If it is only slightly reactive, try a carrier oil to dilute its strength, such as, jojoba, avocado, rosehip seed, argan, tamanu and evening primrose oils, all are fantastic for the skin.

Gardening Uses of Ginger

There are over 400 varieties of ginger, which can give reasonable versatility in the garden. Some are used for their most excellent blossoms, which are truly fascinating in their own right, and others are grown for the wonderful fragrances. But the plant stalks and leaves themselves can play a role in the garden with their shape and style as an ornamental, and because it prefers shade and moist ground, it can be placed in wet and shaded areas.

Siam Ginger, simply beautiful isn’t it!

Other uses for ginger in the garden is a screen due to its height to keep nosey neighbours out, a wind break, a back drop for other flowering plants or to hide an ugly view. Let alone the obvious uses for making your own spice, culinary dishes, desserts, besides drinks and beverages.


How to Grow Ginger

Ginger is a deciduous perennial that is clump forming, it grows to 1.5 m / 5′ tall with long (20cm / 10″) lanceolate mid-green leaves. The more common flower is yellow/green that then gets a deep purple and cream lip during summer, that produces a fleshy red fruit, which has 3 chambers with small black seeds inside.

It also prefers broken or dappled sun light, as it is a plant native to tropical jungle forests, but can handle some full sunlight. The soil should be rich in organic matter, such as compost and/or some rotted manure, loose, well-draining and friable and just on the alkaline side, you may need some lime before planting.

On average, from planting to harvest it usually takes five to nine months, and typically it requires 150cm / 5′ of watering per year in either rainfall or irrigation, with average temperatures of around 30C / 86F.

If you are intending to grow it in pots, you won’t get a large abundance of rhizome, so unless you have a very large container to put it in, then only grow it for more ornamental purposes, and if you do get the amount of rhizome you wanted, then thanks just great.

From Seed

I believe that the commercial ginger plant is sterile, but you can still grow ginger from seed. Just follow the seed companies directions. But simply, it is somewhat rare to grow from seed, as it easier and quicker to grow from the rhizome.

From Cuttings

Root cuttings of the rhizome are the most quickest and easiest to use to propagate ginger, because you can simply purchase your ‘root stock’ from your local fruit and veggie supplier. Just make sure that the rhizome is fresh and light coloured, not dark and wrinkly, and that it has some of the growth buds on it.

Try to obtain about an 8cm / 3″ segments with the growth buds, and allow them to dry out for a few days. Then plant them in well prepared soil about 8cm to 10cm / 3″ to 4″ below the soil. If you are in tropical regions, then plant in autumn, otherwise plant in mid-spring. Well water it in, and make sure that you have mulched it with compost or rotted manure or good hay such as lucerne. Keep your rhizomes well apart and don’t cram them in as they are a spreading plant.

From Division

Growing from division is similar to using cuttings, but in this case you are splitting off a piece of the whole plant. Simply dig up a section of the clump of ginger with either a garden fork or shovel, prise off a smaller section/s of the clump, stalk and rhizome and plant that piece back into the ground or large pot and make sure it is well watered in and composted.

Maintenance

Prune your ginger plant low to the ground in autumn, as this make way and room for fresh new growth.

Pest and Diseases

Generally ginger has very few pest and disease problems, but I do know that it can get red spider mite, which can normally be controlled either by a strong hosing, or an horticultural soap or neem oil/water mix. Also, encourage natural predators such as, lace wings, lady beetles, birds, hoverflies, small wasps and ‘predacious’ thrips and mites.

Water and Fertiliser

Water in very well at the time of planting, and water once each week in tropical regions, but if you are in more temperate areas then just keep the soil moist. Either way, as temperatures rise water more, and less, if the temperatures drop. After flowering, you can reduce watering somewhat, and it doesn’t mind being a little dry over winter.

Ginger is a heavy feeder, so make sure that you have it well prepared at the time of planting and fertilise regularly, that is, at least once a month with a good organic fertiliser from spring to mid summer, and replace any mulch as the ground becomes bare.

Climate and Region

Ginger really is a tropical plant that originates from wet and lush jungles, but sometimes it will grow in different climates, except for cool to cold regions, such as areas that frost. Or unless you have it in a pot, which you can move indoors or create a suitable microclimate, such as a sunroom or hot house/heated green house or similar.


Collecting

If you have an established plant that is at least a year old, then you can harvest at any time, depending at what stage you want the rhizome, but if you have just recently planted a new plant, say in early spring, then typically late Autumn is the time to harvest, unless very young. Younger rhizomes are generally lighter in colour, with less heat, pungency and fibre. Older rhizomes will be larger and more heat, fibre and pungency. Keep a few rhizomes with their growth buds for next planting.

Drying

  • Clean the ginger root in cold water and peel it with a spoon, yep, a spoon
  • Slice your root into thin slices about the same thickness, about 3mm / 1/8″
  • Place the ginger on a drying rack in a sunny dry spot away from ants and other creatures, keeping a gap between the pieces for 3 to 4 days
  • Once the ginger becomes brittle, that is, totally dry, then they are ready for storage
  • They should last 5 to 6 months this way

Storage

Fresh rhizomes will easily store in the fridge for a few weeks, (I have stored some for a few months, and still made it into tea) but if you want longer, you can do several different things. You can grate ginger for storage in the freezer or dry freeze them, or you can pickle or crystallise your ginger for much longer storage. Throughly dry ginger powder can keep up to one to two years if stored well.

Making Powder

So long as the ginger is thoroughly dry and brittle, you can make your own ginger powder. Simply place the dry ginger into a spice or coffee grinder (some machines are better than others of course) and grind away until it is simply powder. It may help to sieve out the fines and put the larger particles back in for further grinding. Sometimes the powder can get a little warm, so allow it to cool down just for a bit. And once cool, put it in air-tight glass containers and keep it out of sunlight, or you can store it in the freezer.


Herbalism

The information below is for informational and education purposes only. So please do not “self-treat”. When seeking any ‘therapeutic’ advice always see a Qualified Health Care Professional first.

Common names:

Sweet Ginger, Green Ginger, Ginger Root, Shunthi, Adrak, Jamaican, African, and Cochin Ginger

Botanical name:

Zingiber officinale

Parts used:

Rhizome

Dosage:

Daily minimum to maximum dosage: 0.9 – 3.0 grams

Main actions:

Antiemetic, antibiotic, carminative, antioxidant, antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, peripheral circulatory stimulant, anti-inflammatory, anti-platelet, diaphoretic, carminative, analgesic, pungent, aromatic digestive, demulcent, aromatic, antispasmodic, expectorant, vasodilator, anticholesterol, circulatory and metabolic stimulant, anthelmintic, antihistamine, and tonic

Indications:

Nausea, vomiting, morning sickness, travel/motion sickness, digestive weakness, dyspepsia, intestinal colic, abdominal bloating, flatulent colic/wind, acute infections, bowel infections, fever, common cold, acute bronchitis, bronchiectasis, chronic bronchitis, asthma, bronchial asthma, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, rheumatism, fever, arthritis, spasmodic dysmenorrhoea, endometriosis, impaired peripheral circulation, Raynaud’s syndrome, effects from chemotherapy and surgery, rheumatic and muscular disorders. Plus, Irritable bowel syndrome, food allergies and sensitivities, cold hands and feet, hypothermia, appetite loss, hiccups, achlorhydria, coronary artery disease, low libido, jet lag general weakness, suppressed menstruation due to cold, increases gastric juices, toothache, and migraine 

Constituents:

Phenolic compounds – gingerols, shogaols, galanolactones, fixed oils, essential oil, asparagine, oleoresin containing sesquiterpenes – zingiberene, gum, acetic acid, linoleic and oleic acid, palmitic stearic and lauric acids, starch, sugar, and mucilage

Safety concerns:

Caution with peptic ulcers, gall stones, avoid high doses in pregnancy, kidney disease and warfarin and anti-platelet drugs, quit 1 week before surgery and pro-thrombin time and international normalised ratio values may increase

Adulterants:

Can be adulterated by: Turmeric, ferric oxide, cayenne, usually in powders



Please remember, this blog cannot and should not replace a health care professional, and is for informational and educational purposes only and is not for medical advice or treatment, and no cure is implied in anyway. If you have a known serious condition, or are pregnant, please consult your health care professional, before use.

Kind Regards,

Russell a.k.a Herbal Panda

Website: http://www.theherbarius.com.au

Name Logo

Email: theherbalist@theherbarius.com.au

Sales: sales@theherbarius.com.au

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“No spice in your life, I guess you have no colour either”

Herbal Panda

Peppermint in all its simple glory

Gentlewomen and Gentlemen, I would like to introduce to you, His Royal Highness, Prince of Mint. And without further ado, I have the pleasure of handing over the stage to Prince Peppermint: Dauphin of Digestion, Raj of the Respiratory, Archduke of Analgesic and Maharani of Menses.

Well, after writing all that, I’m not sure whether or not, I should be bowing or something. Have I stepped into royalty without knowing it? Well, in a strange way, Mint or more technically, Mentha, as a species of the Lamiaceae family, really is an amazing ‘genre’ of plants that many people have only glanced at, a bit like royalty rolling by in a Rolls Royce, but only seeing a hand waving at the crowd.

A special accolade in the world of herbs is if you are mentioned in the ‘Ebers Papyrus’, and what is that you say, it is one of the world’s oldest medical text still surviving. Here in this ancient of books written by the Priests in 1500 B.C, said it helps with soothing of flatulence, aiding digestion, stops vomiting, and a breath freshener.

It seems that all of the mints were just called, ‘Mint’, and along came a Botanist called John Ray from Great Britain, and he began to distinguish between them, of which I am very glad, because there really is a huge variety of them with so many different smells and tastes, as well as flowers and styles. This should have been taken on by cooks and chefs alike around the world, to explore them and to admire them. Maybe they just missed the ‘hand wave’.

Historically, after the Ebers Papyrus, the next mention of mint comes from the Holy Bible, and in Matthew 23:23, it states, “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone”.

After this, it appears to have travelled up into Greece, where it entered Greek mythology and ultimately, the word Minthe became Mentha the name of that genus.

The households of the Greeks and Romans put mint into their milk to prevent spoilage and they would consume mint after their meals to aid digestion. So maybe here is where the term ‘after dinner mint’ came from, or did they get that from the Egyptians?

Pliny the Elder, suggested that mint should be used for reanimating the spirit, and to hang it up around the sick to help with convalescence and “found by experience to cure leprosy, applying some of them to the face”. Pedanius Dioscorides the Greek physician, thought that it promoted lust because he felt that it has a heating, plus a binding and drying quality. (Actually its qualities are dry, cooling and then into warm.) Other Greek physicians prescribed it for dozens of different conditions including Leprosy.

Further around the world, we have the Ayurvedic and Chinese physicians using it also as a digestive aid, and for respiratory issues such as, coughs, colds and fever, as well as a tonic.

Hildegarde von Bingen, 1098-1179 AD, a Benedictine abbess, who attained skills as a polymath, and in herbology, medicine, biology, and natural history, suggested it also for digestion and gout.

Nicholas Culpeper wrote much of mint, giving it many virtues, and I shall try give a quick brief for you.

“It dissolveth imposthumes (Abscess/pus), being laid to with barley-meal … repress the milk in women’s breasts … with salt, it helpeth the biting of a mad dog … it is very profitable to the stomach … a very powerful medicine to stay women’s courses (menses) … to the forehead and temples, it easeth the pains in the head … it is good against the gravel and stone in the kidneys, and the stranguary … cureth the gums and mouth that is sore and mendeth and ill-savoured breath”. (Stranguary – painful and slow urination with feelings of urgency.)

When the early American pioneers came over to settle in North America, they found that the First Nation Peoples were already using the marvellous herb – Mentha canadensis. Using it for conditions like coughs, colds, congestion and pneumonia.

The early Eclectics, now Naturopaths regularly prescribed peppermint for ailments, such as: coughs, colds, headaches, bronchitis and stomach issues.

It was during the 1880’s that chemists distilled menthol out of peppermint, and found that it has good germicidal and anaesthetic properties. From here, it became widely used in many medical preparations such as, insect bites and stings, wounds, scalds and burns, eczema, hives and even toothache. As a chest rub it can ‘draw’ and also it was used for hay fever, asthma and morning sickness.


The Weed Files

Mint has at least 25 different species and 600 hundred varieties from there, and what I would like to share here is that there are some real interesting varieties among them.

A Mentha list of interest

Apple mint – Mentha sauveolens

This mint has a mild and sweeter flavour and really does has an ‘appleness’ to its taste and aroma. Great for cooking. Soft hairy oval shaped grey/green leaves 4cm / 1 3/4″ long.

Basil mint – Mentha piperita var. citrata “Basil”

A fussy mint that likes everything to be perfect. As the name suggests, it can be used instead of the herb basil. Its flowers can also be used well in certain potpourris once dried.

Calamint – Calamintha nepeta

This is one of those plants you put in your garden for one main reason, it flowers beautifully for quite some time, and attracts butterflies and bees and can be used in potpourri. Can be used medicinally, but avoid if your pregnant.

Chocolate mint – Mentha X piperita f. citrata ‘Chocolate’

Yes, this mint really does have a chocolate mint flavour and aroma, what a find if you want to impress your guests.

Common mint – Mentha spicata syn. M. viridis

When you find a mint just anywhere, it usually is a common mint or sometimes called garden mint. This mint is often used in culinary dishes and sauces.

Corsican mint – Mentha requienii

This mint is also known as rock mint, and is the smallest of the mints with 6mm to 12mm / 1/4″ to 1/2″ heart shaped leaves, and can be used decoratively along paths and pavers, cascading and amongst rocks etc., but make sure it gets plenty of shade. It has the taste and flavour of peppermint.

Eau-de-cologne – Mentha piperata var. citrata

An actual mint that really does have an ‘eau-de-cologne’ fragrance. This one is great in the bath.

Egyptian mint – Mentha sylvestris

With bright green wavy lanceolate leaves that are 4cm / 1 3/4″ long.

Ginger mint – Mentha gentilis syn. M sativa

Sometimes called Scotch mint. It has purple to red stem that comes with a ginger/fruity/peppermint fragrance.

Grapefruit mint – Mentha x piperitaGrapefruit

This is an unusually-flavoured mint that has a tasty tangy flavour. This mint goes interestingly with fish and chicken dishes.

Japanese mint – Mentha arvensis var. piperascens

A mint with lavender like flowers, that has one powerful aroma, if you want to help clear the sinuses, the rub this one together and inhale its fragrance. In Japan they actually call it English mint

Lavender mint – Mentha piperita ‘Lavendula’

This mint is used in teas and potpourris, as well as personal care products. Add it to a cool glass of homemade lemonade.

Liquorice mint – Agastache foeniculum.

Liquorice mint has a strong liquorice fragrance when you crush the leaves, and the beautiful flowers are attractive to bees and edible. It is also known as Giant Hyssop and Anise Hyssop, is said to be non-invasive and grows great to fill up a corner of the garden.

Mountain mint – Pycanthemum pilosum

This mint is not a true mint. Clumping and does not spread, with a refreshing peppermint aroma, this one goes great in drinks that have either oranges or lemons.

Orange mint – Mentha peperita citrata

It has crinkly green leaves with a good fruity aroma

Pennyroyal – Mentha pulegium

This mint is a low growing herb, which has intense aroma. This mint is a great plant for pathways and to use in-between pavers etc., but it doesn’t like drying out. To encourage it to spread, yet enjoy its beauty, mow it after it flowers and you can spread it easily via seed. Do not use this one if your pregnant.

Peppermint – Mentha piperita

Peppermint is sterile F1 hybrid of Mentha aquatica and Mentha spicata, and must be propagated via cuttings, and is famous for its flavour – peppermint.

Pineapple mint – Mentha suaveolens variegata

Its sweet and fruity aroma reminds one of pineapples and is in appearance to apple mint. Less rampant than most, and grows nicely in hanging baskets.

Spearmint – Mentha spicata

I’m sorry, but spearmint is my favourite flavour, generally you could nearly tempt me with its taste and aromas, rich in oil of spearmint. Great for mint-sauce, jelly and julep.

Stone mint – Cunila origanonides

It also comes by the names Sweet Horsemint or American Dittany. Similar in aroma to pennyroyal, it has a real cool mint fragrance.

Rust free spearmint – Mentha rubra raripila

As its name sake says, it is ‘rust free’, and it has amazingly intriguing sweet spearmint fragrance.

Water mint – Mentha aquatica

Sometimes comes by the name Druid’s Mint. Has a intense peppermint fragrance, with beautiful lavender pom pom like flowers, and grows well in water and damp areas.

White peppermint – Mentha piperita officinalis

Has hairy small grey leaves.


How To Use Peppermint

Mint has many uses from the culinary to medicinal to gardening, and really peppermint covers most of them quite well. It can be used to help with many ailments of the body, from acne on the face to haemorrhoids below, you can use it as a hair rinse, for you or your dog, a gentle steam bath for cleansing the face, protecting against insect bites or soothing them after you were bitten, to help heal wounds, burns and abscesses, rub it on areas that are in pain or where your headache is hurting.

It does wonders for many digestive issues such as, colic, nausea and vomiting, gastric spasms, flatulence, a mouth wash and halitosis. Russian women use it to help with scanty or painful periods. Its noted in Russia for increasing your appetite, and treating anxiety, insomnia and hysteria.

Most of these are greatly influenced by peppermint oil, but simply having two to three cups a day of peppermint tea can help too, because you are still consuming the same ingredients.

Herbal Teas

Simple Peppermint Tea

  • Place 1 teaspoon into a cup
  • Pour in boiling hot water
  • Cover and allow to steep for 5 to 10 minutes
  • Take up to two to three cups per day

A stronger version can be made simply by adding more peppermint, this then starts to become much more therapeutic.

Customised Peppermint Teas

You can make your own customise peppermint tea, simply by adding other herbs, such as, chamomile, lemon balm, lemon verbena, a squeeze of lemon or lime combined and ginger, or make a green, black or white tea blend.

Not only can you try these, but why not have a go at making an ‘iced tea version’ especially for those hot summer days.

Culinary Uses

There are literally dozens and dozens of recipes for mint, that include main courses and sauces to go with them, heaps of desserts such as the famous choc-mint ice cream, yogurt and jellies, cool drinks and hot beverages and teas, so I won’t go too much into how it can be used in a culinary fashion. But I’ll just offer a few different types of ideas.

Mint Julep

  • Steep 2 handfuls of chopped orange mint in one litre of boiling hot water
  • Strain out the leaves and chill the water
  • Add 1 litre of pineapple juice
  • Add 1 finely sliced orange or lemon
  • Add the pulp of two passionfruit
  • Add 1 litre of crushed ice
  • Ginger ale can be added if you wish but not necessary
  • And serve

Chocolate Mint Mousse

Serves 2

Ingredients
  • 100g of dark chocolate
  • 2 eggs that are separated
  • 1 teaspoon of coffee (instant)
  • 1 teaspoon of freshly chopped mint
  • 4 whole mint leaves
  • Whipped cream
How to
  • Place the chocolate in a double boiler
  • Melt the chocolate until smooth and runny
  • Remove from the heat
  • In another small bowl beat the egg yolks
  • Add the yolks to the chocolate and stir in
  • Add the coffee and chopped mint and stir
  • Allow the mixture to cool for 1/4 of an hour
  • Beat the whites, but not real stiff
  • Fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture
  • Spoon into two containers
  • Decorate with whipped cream and garnish with a few mint leaves
  • Eat and enjoy

Mint Dip

  • Place in a bowl: 1/2 cup of sour cream, a squeeze of lemon juice, 2 tablespoons of tomato relish, 2 tablespoons of freshly chopped mint and salt to taste.
  • Mix until even
  • Store in the fridge until ready to serve
  • Serve with vegetable sticks or use on freshly cooked seafood

Health Uses of Peppermint

Out of the two most well known mints, Peppermint and Spearmint, most believe that Peppermint is the most efficacious of the two. Most mints function and work the same to some degree, but if you want to use it therapeutically then stay with peppermint.

Traditionally Peppermint has been recognised for many things, and even in these “Science-is-God” times, peppermint is also proven to have useful benefits, such as: Digestive upsets, tension headaches and migraines, helps to open up sinuses and reduce bacterial infections, eases menstrual cramps, reduce fatigue and raise energy levels, improves concentration, and sleep, reduce the affects of allergies, and finally, help some with weight loss and freshens your breath.

A word of warning, some mints varieties must be completely avoided during pregnancy, and the rest avoided during the first trimester.

Peppermint oil

Any essential oil should be used with caution, as they are very concentrated and mint oils are quite strong. If you have sensitive skin or are allergic to certain plants, it is wise to do a small skin test first. But generally, peppermint oil is usually quite safe to use topically, our family uses it regularly on just about any pain (rubbing it on where it hurts), from tummy and muscle aches to menstrual cramps and especially headaches and migraines, and it works best just as they are beginning, once the migraine is in full swing, it only helps a little. But don’t get it into your eyes.

Peppermint oil in a diluted form can be placed on haemorrhoids.

Peppermint oil is extensively used in aromatherapy for fainting, headaches, colds and flus, difficult breathing, and it is mixed with carrier oils and used in massage, and added to sunflower oil to be used in capsules.

An oil made from pennyroyal mint is very good for ridding yourself, your home or your dog of fleas and mites, even the crushed leaves act as a deterrent to them. Rub the crushed leaves on your skin to deter mosquitos, fleas and mites and other biting insects. This works with most mints, but pennyroyal is best.

Pennyroyal mint oil is very powerful and can be toxic, and should only be used under strict guidance from a professional, and never used during pregnancy.

Potpourri

Dried flowers and leaves are easily used in potpourris, especially due to their aromatic flowers and leaves. A nice potpourri for the bath can be made up of equal parts of lavender, rose petals, peppermint, bee balm, chamomile, comfrey, and lemon verbena.

Gardening Uses of Peppermint

Mint on the whole will always have a wonderful aroma, so planting along and in pathways, garden borders, and just under steps, anywhere where you may walk along and brush up against it can regularly perfume the air. Also, it can make a great ground cover, particularly due to its ‘invasiveness’ meaning that once it has got a hold of the area, it can hang on under hard conditions, preventing erosion. Plus, it can be mowed and used as a ‘chop and drop’, to help with mulching, as well as it attracts bees and butterflies

Companion Planting Mint

Mint goes well with many plants that you may want to grow in your garden, plants such as: cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, kale and radish, onions, tomatoes, beets, broccoli, eggplant and brussels sprouts, capsicum, chillies and lettuce, kohlrabi, squash and peas.

Plus, you can use it with your favourite roses.

But remember that mint is invasive, therefore keep this plant well tamed in a pot near its companion, not in the soil, where it can take over.


How to Grow Peppermint

For most mints it grows to an average of 60 cm / 2′ but depending on the variety can grow from 15cm / 6″ to 100cm 3′ 4″. The plants love rich, moist and loose/well drained soils with a soil pH of 6.5. They can grow in full sun, but I seem to find that they prefer only part sun with some full sun. Most mints are well known to be very invasive, except for a few, so unless you want the mint to take over, it is best to keep it in a decent sized pot, say 25cm / 1′, and keep it near your kitchen back door for easy access. If you really want it in you garden, then you can plant it in a deep pot into the ground, but with at least 2.5cm / 1″ out of the ground. (This method I personally do not trust, just for the record, as runners will jump and make their escape.)

Except peppermint, all of the mints can be propagated by seeds or cuttings. If you wish to grow a range of different mints, be very careful as they can very easily cross-pollinate, so you will need to create means to prevent this or grow from cuttings.

From Seed

Most choose not to grow from seed, simply because it is quicker and easier to grow from cuttings and division. All mints will grow from seed except for peppermint, and just simply follow the direction of the seed supplier. Make sure you have the exact variety that you want and it is from a reputable brand. Be careful of the seed in your garden, as it may have cross-pollinated with something close by ruining the next generation, otherwise you should be safe.

From Cuttings

The cuttings come from the roots, look for a piece of root that has a little node along it. Cut a section of this out and place it in a pot prepared with good potting mix, cover over and water in. Depending on the season seeing new shoots can take different times but in spring, they should take about 2 weeks.

From Division

The plant grows into a mass of roots and new shoots, as this is happening, take the plant out of the pot, literally get a big knife, or machete (if its really big) or similar and hack it up into smaller pieces. Place these into pots, with good potting mix and water in, care for these until shoots begin to appear and water as needed.

A machete may seem a little too much, but at times I have used hand saws, axes, shovels, mattocks, hoes and large knives to perform such intricate divisions and to cut away root bound plants and trees, seriously! The plant will thank you.

Maintenance

To create and keep thick and lush mints, regularly cut them back about the time the flowers appear, as some species do become a bit scraggly and the branches become woody, unless you are growing a species for the flowers as some are excellent for.

Pest and Diseases

Some pests that may attack mint are spider mites, aphids, loopers, mint flea beetles, mint root borers, cutworms, scale, and root weevils.

Possible diseases are verticillium wilt, leaf spot, mint rust, powdery mildew, stem, root and stolon rot and mint anthracnose.

Fertiliser

Personally I find that regular fertilising with good organic pelletised or liquid fertiliser really helps to keep your mints growing great.

Climate and Region

As far as I can tell mints can just about grow anywhere, but in some regions you may need to alter how it lives depending on where you are. Such as creating microclimates that naturally cool, if you are in very hot climates, or keep your mint indoors during extreme cold, although it usually grows back.


Collecting

If you are in more temperate to tropical regions you can grow and harvest mint all year round, but if you are in very cold climates, then as soon as it comes up, you can begin harvesting. For best flavour, the young and tender leaves and soft stems are the nicest.

Typically, if you are after the leaves and not the flowers, then collect them before it goes into flower, but if you want the flower you only have to wait a bit.

Collect the leaves once the sun has just dried off any moisture from the leaves. If you’re collecting for medicinal value, then make sure the leaves are free of damage, such as brown edges, and disease such as scale and aphids or fungal diseases, plus no insects or their eggs, or any foreign matter.

Drying

When drying mint you simply follow the basic rules of drying leaves and these are: spread the leaves over dry paper or cloth towelling, in an open and airy room or at least under cover from the sun. Don’t just heap it up on the towelling, but allow it to breath as it dries, and if you do put it on a ‘little’ thick, make sure that you turn it over fairly regularly to remove moisture, prevent mould and dry evenly.

Storage

Affective drying should leave the leaves very dry, yet with the same taste, colour and aroma of the original leaf. Store the leaves in air-tight glass jars, and label them with the product and date. If at any time they become mouldy then throw them out.


Herbalism

The information below is for informational and education purposes only. So please do not “self-treat”. When seeking any ‘therapeutic’ advice always see a Qualified Health Care Professional first.

Common names:

Peppermint

Parts used:

Leaf and oil

Dosage:

Daily minimum to maximum dosage: 6.0 – 9.0 grams

Main actions:

Spasmolytic, carminative, cholagogue, antiemetic, antitussive, emmenagogue, tonic, antimicrobial, mild sedative/stimulant, anti-emetic, diaphoretic, pectoral, digestive and enzyme activator. Topically – analgesic, antipruritic, antiseptic, and insect repellent

Indications:

Dyspepsia, intestinal colic, flatulence, flatulent colic, infantile, irritable bowel syndrome – particularly the oil; gall bladder dysfunction, gallstones, gastritis, nausea, morning sickness, sickness, common cold, influenza, cough, nasopharyngeal catarrh, and sinus headache, Plus, tension headache, pruritus, osteoarthritis, neuralgia – essential oil, and inhibits lactation.

Constituents:

Essential and volatile oils – menthol, menthone, cineole, acetaldehyde, limonene; tannins, flavonoids, azulines, and carotenes

Safety concerns:

Gastro-oesophageal reflux disorder, do not take in the first trimester, do not take with supplements, thiamine, and alkaloids, do not ingest pure ‘menthol’, it can be fatal.

Adulterants:

Adulterated with similar species



Please remember, this blog cannot and should not replace a health care professional, and is for informational and educational purposes only and is not for medical advice or treatment, and no cure is implied in anyway. If you have a known serious condition, or are pregnant, please consult your health care professional, before use.

Kind Regards,

Russell a.k.a Herbal Panda

Website: http://www.theherbarius.com.au

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Email: theherbalist@theherbarius.com.au

Sales: sales@theherbarius.com.au

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“The weightier the rock, the more squashed the finger”

Herbal Panda

Oh Lemon balm, my sweet balm, my companion and friend, travel with me on this journey and stay by my side. They say that it is not good for man to be alone, so will you be my companion in my life’s journey? In a world so full of haste and rush, waste and gush, we all need a true friend indeed, will you be mine?

This simple and unassuming plant, that doesn’t have the excitement of it’s cousins in the mint or specifically the ‘Mentha species’. We all know the wow factors of peppermint and spearmint, let alone their many other brothers and sisters, such as apple, chocolate, ginger, orange and pineapple mints. Yep, who needs a salad bowl when all you need to do is grow a range of mints.

But back to the story.

Lemon balm – Melissa officinalis, is a native of the Mediterranean and Central Europe, and now has become naturalised all over the world. The first documentation of its name is actually, melissophyllon, which means, ‘honey leaf’. But where did the name “Melissa” come from for Lemon balm? Actually, it is Latin for “bee”, why, because bees were often seen buzzing around the herbs flowers and seems to be a powerful attractant to them. The connection between bees and lemon balm don’t stop there, apparently lemon balm flowers make excellent honey, of which I don’t doubt. The plant was rubbed onto, and grown around the hives to prevent swarming and to settle them into their new homes.

It is also a great attractant to butterflies!

So in an age when bees are being massacred by the millions, maybe we should all be planting lemon balm everywhere.

Dioscorides, a famous ancient Greek physician, promoted the idea of drinking lemon balm in wine, plus, it could be used topically by placing the leaves on dog bites and scorpion stings.

A little side note: when I discuss with people the errors of alcohol consumption. I often get quoted back to me the Bible verse, ” use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake”, 1 Timothy 5:23, which is only a ‘cherry-picked’ quote. I am reminded that it was common place to use and dispense herbal remedies in alcohol back in ‘those days’. And honestly we haven’t changed, herbalists and pharmacists still use alcohol today, in herbal tinctures and cough medicine. That’s why when you read further on, it also says, “and thine often infirmities”. The Apostle Paul was telling Timothy, if you’re sick, take your medicine, sounds familiar?

Pliny the Elder, suggested lemon balm be used to stop bleeding, this would have been topically.

Theophrastus von Hohenheim, better known as ‘Paracelsus’, a medical revolutionary, believed that lemon balm was ‘to make the heart merry’ and ‘revived spirits’.

The art of healing comes from nature, not from the physician. Therefore the physician must start from nature, with an open mind.” — Paracelsus

Lemon Balm

Mr Nicholas Culpeper, calls lemon balm, simply Balm, and suggests the balm for many indications, but to quote from his book he states, and quotes Seraphio, ” It causes the mind and heart to become merry, and reviveth the heart, faintings, and swoonings, especially of such who are over taken in sleep, and driveth away all troublesome cares and thoughts out of the mind arising from melancholy or black choler; which Avicen also confirmeth.”

During the middle ages it was so often suggested for so many diseases that it was then that it began to be called by one of its common names – Cure-all. In the early times of America’s colonisation, lemon balm was regularly used for menstrual cramps, this was also eluded to in the time of Culpeper, suggesting that it “procure women’s courses”.

Now the herb lemon balm is used the world over, and has many different names for each country for example, in Russia, where it is called – Melissa lekarstvennaja, it is one of the most popular herbs for both culinary and medicinal use.

To give you an idea of just how wide spread across the world and the variety of names it has just check the ‘short list’.

  • Arabic – Louiza
  • Chinese – Xiang feng cao, (Mandarin); Heung fung chou (Cantonese)
  • Czech – Medunka lékarská
  • Dutch – Citroenmelisse
  • Estonian – Sidrunmeliss
  • Finish – Sitruunamelissa
  • French – Valverde boutons de fievre crème
  • German – Bienenfang
  • Hindi – Baadranjboyaa
  • Hungarian – Orvosi citromfu
  • Italian – Citronella
  • Korean – Kyullhyangphul
  • Nordic – Hjertensfryd or Moderurt
  • Persian – Badranjboya
  • Polish – Melissa lekarska
  • Brazilian – Erva-cidreira
  • Slovak – Citra
  • Slovenian – Navadna melisa
  • Spanish – Balsamita mayor
  • And in Sweden – Citronmeliss

How To Use Lemon Balm

Lemon Balm is an easy to use herb, simply because you are working with the leaf, you can either pick a few fresh leaves off the bush, grab a few dried leaves or powder out of the cupboard or use a few drops of oil out of a bottle.

Herbal Teas

Lemon balm tea is just so simple to make, and frankly most herbal teas are. Now I believe that one of the main things to do before you drink it is to allow a bit of aromatherapy to happen by breathing in deeply the volatile oils given off from the brew. Smell is just so important, and has more ‘power’ than we think over our minds.

Simple Lemon Balm Tea

  • Chop up enough to make two to three teaspoons of fresh lemon balm
  • Place the lemon balm into a tea cup or mug
  • Pour in boiling hot water
  • Cover to keep in the volatile oils
  • Allow to steep for 5 to 10 minutes (It doesn’t seem to become bitter like some teas.)
  • Add a sweetener, such as raw honey or stevia if needed and enjoy

Customised Lemon Balm Teas

Lemon balm can go with many other herbs, that you can ‘customise’ your own version of lemon balm tea. Straight away one can think of other ‘lemon’ flavoured ingredients to add, such as lemon grass, lemon verbena, and freshly squeezed lemon itself. Plus, you can add a selection of mints, such as apple, pineapple or orange mints.

Sometimes, I add in Ribwort to Lemon balm with lemon grass to help if I have a sore throat or a cold coming on, and to arrest it before it starts. Then there are other herbs which are calming, such as, chamomile, passionflower and even oats. Lemon and liquorice go together, so you could add anise, star aniseed, fenugreek or fennel. Yes, lemon balm is just so versatile.

To make your customised version you can either up the amount of lemon balm leaf first or just leave it at one heaped teaspoon, and then add a teaspoon of the other herbs of your choice, so basically so have equal parts of each herb.

Culinary Uses

Since it is obvious that ‘lemon balm’ has a ‘lemon taste’, it can be very useful in the kitchen, and lemon can be used in savoury and sweet dishes. So lemon balm can be good in meat dishes such as, chicken, lamb, pork, and seafood such as fish. Plus, a whole range of vegetables, from corn, beans and carrots to broccoli. Then you can add it to soups and stews, add the fresh leaf to salads, to soft cheeses like ricotta or cottage cheese, finely chopped leaves to jellies, marmalades, cakes with fruit, and lemon flavoured desserts, even yoghurt, milk kefir and over ice cream.

Another thing to remember about lemon balm is that it is also called ‘Sweet balm’, meaning that it does tend to sweeten, so adding it to recipes can reduce the amount of sugar or other sweeteners, and help with sourness. An example of this could be to add finely chopped fresh lemon balm leaves to sourdough bread in its final stage.

Health Uses of Lemon Balm

Most people are like me, ‘I don’t do exams’, so when I have a test of some form about to begin, I would make up a lemon balm tea. And I am convinced it works, and drinking lots of cuppas throughout the day, generally will keep you calm, throughout the day.

Since the tea is so healthful, helpful and calming it can be used on a larger scale too. You can make a larger amount of herbal tea and this can be poured into a bath to absorb its calming affects through the skin and the nose, or used in a foot bath to sooth tired and aching feet.

To prepare a lemon balm bath:

  • Put about 300 grams of fresh lemon balm into a bowl (About a good handful.)
  • Bring to boil 375ml / 2 1/2 cups of water
  • Pour in the boiling water in the bowl
  • Allow to steep for ten minutes
  • Strain and pour into your bath water
  • And relaaaaxxxxxx

When considering the idea of a foot bath or using a bathtub as just mentioned, lemon balm has real antimicrobial properties, as it is antifungal, antibacterial, antiseptic, antiviral and a insectifuge, therefore, a good soaking in the tea has benefits of topically relieving shingles, cold sores, infected cuts, and abrasions, boils, cystic acne, removing lice, soothing insect bites, and sunspots and due to its tannin content may help to stop bleeding. These conditions can also be greatly assisted by using compresses, which is the same as a fomentation.

Lemon balm is a very safe herb for anyone to use. Many women suffer from morning sickness when pregnant, and to assist her, she should make a simple lemon balm tea with some raw honey and slowly sipping it first thing when she gets up in the morning. Lemon balm tea is also good for calming your baby too, just add a little to their food or drink, just don’t use at full strength.

To remove bad breath, just eat a little sprig of the plant before heading out to socialise.

And finally you can make a sleep pillow from the leaves and stems.

Oil of Lemon Balm

Oil of lemon balm has the same properties as the rest of the plant, so it can be used in a similar fashion as the leaf, it is quite helpful during stressful situations, and can help with anxiety and mild depression. But I wouldn’t try to treat severe depression alone with it, as there may be other underlying causes to the severe depression.

To bypass the making of a tea for a bath or foot bath, you can place 10 to 20 drops of lemon balm oil into the water.

Potpourri

Lemon balm is used in potpourri, and a potpourri that is supposed to encourage ‘sweet dreams’ is an equal mix of spearmint and peppermint leaves, rosemary, lemon balm leaves, honesty (Lunaria annua), and Christmas roses (Helleborus niger), which is poisonous, so don’t eat it.

Gardening Uses of Lemon Balm

Lemon balm can be added to borders and other garden edges, in between pavers and rocks, especially where you may walk past and brush up against it and stir up a fragrance. (Mint also works like this.) Golden lemon balm and Variegata can add real colour to your garden.

Some farmers that are into organic framing of their cows actually grow lemon balm in the field for them to eat and to encourage milk production. For post-natal care, of their cows they also add sweet marjoram to the lemon balm to help strengthen them. The Arabs also believed that lemon balm made their animals more intelligent, this was probably caused by calming the animal, helping it to be less flighty and allow it to think and learn.

Lemon Balm is a good companion plant, as it seems that nobody isn’t a good companion to lemon balm. For the brassica family, such as, cauliflower, broccoli and cabbage, and tomatoes, onions, melons and squash. Fruits such as, apples and kiwi, plus, it can go with other herbs such as, nasturtiums, lavender, parsley, chives, basil rosemary and sage, angelica, chamomile, echinacea and hollyhocks. Amazingly, it even goes with Fennel!

Its aroma helps to hide the scent of other plants from insect attack. And as mentioned earlier, it is excellent at attracting bees and butterflies, therefore, it can help the whole garden with pollination, thereby gain a better and productive crop.


How to Grow Lemon Balm

Lemon balm is a branching perennial that can just about grow anywhere, but prefers a rich and moist, but well-drained soil and grows to about 60cm / 2′. It also prefers a neutral pH, but the soil can be somewhat either way. If you are in very cold climates, the above ground will die back but the roots are perennial.

Some good points about Lemon balm are that although it is part of the same family as mint, its roots are not as invasive and it tends to grow in clumps. It is a great companion in the garden attracting bees, and its flower is a white to cream two-lipped flower that form in clusters. The flowers don’t seem to do so well or form in the tropical to sub-tropical regions.


There are three main variations: (I have found much confusion on the Internet in regards to these cultivars! So here I make my stand.)

  • All Gold or Golden Lemon balm – Melissa officinalis ‘aurea’ , which has a selection with ‘yellow leaves‘, which prefers more shade
  • Variegata – Melissa officinalis ‘variegata’, has dark green leaves with golden yellow markings, which don’t put on their colours very well in subtropical regions
  • Lime – Melissa officinalis ‘lime’, is very similar to the Melissa officinalis, but with a distinctive lime aroma and mild flavour.

You can propagate lemon balm in four different ways, by seed, cuttings, root division, and by layering, all are relatively simple to do. Lemon balm does prefer a loose soil structure, rich and moist soil but complains after a while if its too dry. It likes to be fertilised every now and again, especially if you want a bigger healthier looking plant with large leaves. It can grow in the sun or shade, but I feel it does better with part sun and shade, as a lot of sun seems to create smaller leaves and a lighter green and sometimes it may begin to wilt in high heat.

From Seed

If you are starting from seed, remember that they don’t like frost, so if you live in a cold climate then start the process indoors.

  • Simply prepare a container or pot with good seed raising mix
  • The seed is small, so take some care when dispensing it out
  • Sprinkle the seed over the seed raising mix, but not too crowded
  • Just lightly rub your hand over the mix to gently work them in
  • Give the container a gentle misting enough to moisten the mix
  • Don’t wet the mix, as they don’t like being real wet
  • Typically the seeds will germinate in about 10 to 14 days, but may take longer
  • When they have about four leaves, you can use a screwdriver to prise them out
  • Then make a new hole either in the ground or a larger pot with the screwdriver
  • Then use the screwdriver to push the roots down into the soil
  • Press it in and lightly water in
  • P.S. you don’t specifically need a screwdriver, but something similar will do

From Cuttings

Cut out softwood lemon balm cuttings from the new growth from the early spring to summer. Remove any leaves at the bottom end by at least 4.5cm / 1- 3/4″. It may help to dip the ends of the cuttings into a root hormone compound, or honey will often work and even cinnamon will work sometimes. Poke a hole with a stick into the soil or potting mix, place the cutting into the hole, press around the cutting and lightly water in.

From Division

When the plant is growing successfully during its growing season, you can separate the root divisions and replant them with a little water.

From Layering

The plant as it spreads and the branches touch the ground naturally, it will make new roots on is own; these parts can be cut off and planted into a new pot. Water in and take care of it until it is established. This process can be done intentionally, but just make sure that you put the nodes just into the ground and peg down until the roots start to grow.

Maintenance

Lemon balm doesn’t seem to get any real issues if well maintained and cared for. But two things which may attack it are fungal diseases, such as verticillium wilt, powdery mildew and one that is similar to mint rust, and the other is scale, which I have seen growing on it, but the plant was a sick specimen. If you get any of the fungi, first make sure that the plants have plenty of space (at least 30cm / 1′ apart) and good ventilation, or spray the plants with a compost tea, which is a natural fungicide. If it is too bad, then cut back the plant and remove all material and dump it, and for scale all you need to do is hose it off with a jet of water.

Fertiliser

Many often suggest that you don’t need to fertilise lemon balm, and when planting, just throw in some compost, and you’ll be right. But I have found that it doesn’t hurt one bit to apply a small amount of good liquid or pelletised fertiliser every few months, therefore, I completely recommend it.


Collecting

The best time to harvest your lemon balm for ‘medicinal’ use is just before it goes into flower, as the energy is still in the leaf, and not moving to the flower or seed. For the best therapeutic value, use the fresh over the dried, but both will work. Otherwise you can even gather the flowers to use in your tea.

Collecting is easy, in the morning and once the dew has dried off the leaves, pick or trim off the ‘soft’ aerial parts of the plant, and this can include the stem if they are soft too, as all the aerial parts of the plant are useful. If you are making an infusion or decoction, you can chuck in the more harder and stiff bits, but I would advise finely chopping them. If you are just making a tea, then a few drops of dew are not a problem, and you can pick them first thing in the morning.

Drying

Drying must be done as soon as possible and don’t apply any real heat, otherwise the leaves will turn black. Place them on dry paper towelling or dry kitchen towels, that are in a well ventilated and airy room, and once dry and crispy they are ready for storage.

Storage

You can store the herb in two main ways, one is to put the fresh soft aerial parts into freezer bags and store in the freezer, or two, thoroughly dry them and store them in air-tight glass bottles out of sunlight (You can powderise the dry leaves for storage as well). Either way they should last at least 6 months.


Herbalism

The information below is for informational and education purposes only. So please do not “self-treat”. When seeking any ‘therapeutic’ advice always see a Qualified Health Care Professional first.

Common names:

Balm, Bee balm, Sweet balm, Melissa, Cure-all, Balm mint, Dropsy plant, Blue balm, Garden balm, Heart’s delight, Melissa, Common balm, English balm, Honey plant, Lemon Melissa, Mountain balm, and Sweet Mary

Parts used:

Aerial Parts

Dosage:

Daily minimum to maximum dosage: 6.0 – 12.0 grams

Main actions:

Carminative, spasmolytic, mild sedative, diaphoretic, TSH antagonist, antiviral – topically, tonic, appetiser, antidepressant, digestive, antihistamine, fungicidal, emmenagogue, stomachic, antioxidant, antibacterial, nervine, febrifuge, antiseptic, anticonvulsant and insectifuge

Indications:

Insomnia, anxiety, irritability, depression, infantile colic, flatulence, flatulent colic, intestinal colic, nervous dyspepsia, herpes – topically; hypothyroidism, migraine, stomach cramps, gout and urinary tract infection. Plus, fever, common cold, influenza, irritable bowel syndrome, promotes the onset of menstruation, and reduces painful menstruation and gout

Constituents:

Essential oil – citronellol, citronellal and citral, germinal, geraniol, linalool, tannins, bitters, resin, succinct acid, phenolic acids, flavonoids and terpenes 

Safety concerns:

Nothing major known, although use caution with hypothyroidism

Adulterants:

Adulteration has been with Nepeta cataria var. citriodora



Please remember, this blog cannot and should not replace a health care professional, and is for informational and educational purposes only and is not for medical advice or treatment, and no cure is implied in anyway. If you have a known serious condition, or are pregnant, please consult your health care professional, before use.

Kind Regards,

Russell a.k.a Herbal Panda

Website: http://www.theherbarius.com.au

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Email: theherbalist@theherbarius.com.au

Sales: sales@theherbarius.com.au

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Always be careful touching the truth, it may change you —Herbal Panda

“Miss Fennel, Miss Fennel, why you look so lovely today, with that white skirt, soft emerald green blouse and that mushroom hat beautifully arranged with yellow umbels”, said Mr Bee, busy in his work. “Well a lady has to keep herself looking good you know, she should never allow herself to become shabby, even in the garden.” replied Miss Fennel.

The herb Fennel has been around since time immemorial, as it has been used since history has been recording, and probably before. A herb that has been doing this much good for that amount of time really has to be in your kitchen cupboard or in your apothecary, or at least in your garden right now.

Fennel is part of the Umbelliferae family or as it is called these days, the ‘Apiaceae’ family, is also part of the family that has carrots, parsley, dill, celery and angelica. There are a few versions of Fennel, the most well known and used is Common fennel, Foeniculum vulgare, but there is also Foeniculum vulgare azoricum, sometimes called Finnochio or Florence fennel, which is not as tall, being only 30 to 40 cm / 1′ to 1′ 4″ high and ‘Bronze fennel’, Foeniculum vulgare purpurascens or – ‘dulce rubrum‘, which has a coppery/ bronze look.

Being a native of southern Europe, the Mediterranean and Asia Minor it can grow up to 1 to 2m /3′ 4″ 6′ 10″ high. The ancient Egyptian Pharaohs had fennel seed amongst their chattels in their tombs. The use of fennel is mentioned in Greek mythology and also in their historical documents as having many different uses, but when we come to the 3rd century B.C. we find Hippocrates prescribing it for the stomach to calm it down and for colic in infants. Pedanius Dioscorides born in 40 A.D. wrote of fennel as a appetite depressant and to be used for improving milk for nursing mothers. Sometimes the Greeks called it ‘maraino’, which means “to grow thin”, suggesting that it helps you lose weight, from the appetite suppression, that is, you eat less.

Did you know that the location ‘Marathon’ or Μαραθών, comes from the herb fennel called marathon, μάραθον, so the word marathon literally means “a place full of fennels”. This was where that famous event in which a runner once carried the news of victory some 42 kms all the way to Athens in 490 B.C. And of course where the term ‘marathon’ also comes from.

Pliny the Elder, a Roman naturalist amongst other things, went on to write 22 medicinal recipes for fennel. Who must have been unusually observant, as it is said that he watched snakes rub themselves against a fennel plant to remove its skin, and noticed that the glaze of their eyes disappeared. Therefore, assumed that it must assist with eye problems.

The Ayurvedic physicians of ancient India, used it as a digestive aid.

The Doctrine of Signatures takes the idea of yellow flowers, to be a link to the yellow bile of the liver, therefore helps the liver.

During the fifth century the Anglo-Saxons moved to England and used it as a digestive aid as well as a spice in their meals.

It was ordered by Charlemagne the emperor, that all of the imperial medicinal gardens have fennel growing in it. The household of King Edward used 4 kilos of the herb every month, and when peopled fasted or went to meetings, they were allowed to chew on fennel seeds to suppress their appetites, thereby given them the name, ‘meeting seeds’.

The German Benedictine abbess, composer, and writer, who put fennel as one of her top four foods, wrote that fennel should be used for colds and flus, helping with good digestion, with the idea to “make us happy” plus it was good for the heart and good for body odour.

John Gerard’s, ‘History of Plants’, suggests the virtues of fennel as “The pouder of the seed of Fennell drunke for certaine daies together fasting preserveth the eye-sight: whereof was written this Distichon following:”

Antique Fennel
"Of Fennell, Roses, Vervain, Rue, and Celandine,
Is made a water good to cleere the sight eine"
Mr Nicholas Culpeper in his book 'Culpeper's Complete Herbal' has described some of it's virtues. "Fennel is good to break wind, to provoke urine and ease the pains of the stone, and helps to break it. The leaves or seed, boiled in barley-water, and drank, are good for nurses, to increase their milk, and to make it wholesome for the child. He also went on to mention how it may help with snakebite, poisonous herbs and mushrooms, benefitting the liver, respiratory issues, losing weight, and helping the eyes, and more.

How to use Fennel

Fennel is just so useful, and you can use the whole plant too, the flowers to the seeds, the stem, the bulb at the bottom and the roots. The most well known use for fennel is in cooking and I suppose it should be due to being so useful and its aroma can just fill the house. One of the reasons for it being used in cooking is simply its milder aniseed flavour.

Culinary uses

One of the early uses in culinary recipes was its use with fish and other seafood dishes and this was also mentioned by Culpeper, who didn’t seem to like fish, as it helps with flavouring, tenderising and deodorising the fishy smell that some folks don’t like. But, fennel can go with so many other foods and recipes, such as meats like pork, mutton, veal, rabbit, small goods like salami, and with root vegetables, in pumpkin soup, and mashed potatoes or potato salads, green and fruit salads, tabouleh, in fermented and pickled products, I personally put it in my sauerkraut, you can also add it to eggs, pickles, gherkins, cucumbers, and olives. Let alone stews of many sorts including apples, sauces such as white sauce, marinades, macaroni rice, batter, fritters, dips, quiche, breads, buns, biscuits, pastries and sweets.

Fusilloni Pasta

Fennel butter

This ‘butter’ can be applied to many different uses and recipes and the formula can be used for many other herbs such as, chives, garlic, parsley, sage, oregano, lemon balm, mint, basil and coriander. Just use your preferred herbs instead of fennel.

Ingredients

  • A little handful of dried fennel leaves
  • 1/2 cup of unsalted organic butter
  • 1 tablespoon of cream
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • A sprig to garnish

Method

  • 1. Wash the fennel and finely chop
  • 2. Place the butter and cream into a bowl and mix with a wooden spoon until soft
  • 3. Add the chopped fennel leaves, Celtic salt and pepper to taste and mix evenly
  • 4. Push the mixture into a small container and refrigerate
  • 5. Before serving place the fresh fennel sprig on top
  • 6. Goes great with fish or chicken, or on toast

Black Jellybeans

No, I don’t have the recipe for Black Jellybeans, which I think are everybody’s favourite including me, but eating the plump fennel seeds while they still green are like eating black jellybeans in flavour. This can be increased by making a candied fennel seed, this is done by some Indian Restaurateurs.

Fennel Teas

Fennel tea can be made either from the seed or the fresh or dried leaf, both can have therapeutic value, and it’s a tea with a ‘liquorice-flavoured’ infusion.

Fennel Tea from seed

  • Place 1/4 to 1/2 a teaspoon of crushed Fennel seeds into a cup
  • Pour in boiling hot water, cover and allow to steep for 15 minutes
  • Add sweetener if necessary

A teaspoon of this cooled tea should suffice for an infant with colic. Plus, it can be added to more stronger laxative herbs, such as senna, rhubarb, aloe and buckthorn to buffer against their stronger intestinal cramps.

Fennel Tea from leaf (For a teapot)

  • Finely chop 3 to 4 teaspoons either fresh or dried leaves
  • Place them into your favourite teapot
  • Add boiling hot water allow to steep for a few minutes
  • Pour into your favourite cup
  • Add sweetener and enjoy

Apart from obviously drinking this tea, it can be used as a facial rinse, once it has cooled. Plus, you can use it as a rinse to wash away fleas from your doggy, and the leaves on their own tend to discourage away flies.

A Tea for nursing mother’s

A formula which comes from the colourful Latin America, for helping mother’s milk production can be done by carefully simmering the crushed seed in milk for about five minutes. Strain and drink.

Fennel helps with the let-down reflex and is also said to help with improving milk production, plus if the mother drinks fennel tea it will indirectly enter the child.

Often colic can be from the mother’s diet, but not always of course, so keep an eye out for what you are eating and if things get better or worse, and alter the diet accordingly.

Chai tea Potpourri

To make Chai Tea Potpourri you can use any or all of the spices listed in the following group: cinnamon, cloves, allspice, nutmeg, black pepper, ginger, coriander seed, mace, star anise, fennel, and bay leaf. Experiment with these herbs and spices until you find your favourite.

If you chew on a few fennel seeds you will gain a fresher breath for socialising.

A different use of fennel

The fennel flowers can be a delicious gourmet treat; you simply pick and deep-fry the flower umbels once the seeds start to form for an interesting addition to a salad.

Fabric dying

Another less known use of fennel is to obtain a yellow dye from it.


More Health uses for Fennel

Apart from the health benefits that are mentioned above here are a few more.

Fennel Eye bath

A douche for the eyes, which can be used for red-eye and blepharitis, which can be made by simply sprinkling half a teaspoon of crushed seeds in cold water, allowed to infuse for 1 hour, strain carefully and use with an eye bath filling halfway.

You can make a fennel tea and when cooled down and use it in a compress to be placed on inflamed, watery and sore eyes.

Fennel oil and Russia

Russian folk healers suggest that fennel oil can be rubbed on tired and sore muscles, and in some areas of Russia they ‘can’ young flower umbels and juicy leaves.

Potpourri

Usually the only thing that it used of fennel for Potpourri is the seed, since it is so aromatic, or the oil is used, which is one of the most common uses of fennel oil. The aroma of fennel can give the feeling of mental alertness and personal well-being.

Gardening Uses

Apart from growing fennel for its huge range of uses in cooking and the medicinal benefits that comes with Fennel, it can be used just to decorate the garden, and because of its height, flowers and feather-like leaves it makes an excellent back drop or an ornamental plant. And if you’re interested, the bronze variety would be a most attractive plant to plant in the garden.

It is loved by bees and it is a food for some Lepidoptera species, that is, butterflies such as the swallowtail butterfly and mouse moths. It is an excellent predatory insect attractant as well, which is very beneficial in the garden attracting: lady beetles, parasitic wasps, hoverflies and tachinid flies.

With companion planting it is not a good idea to put coriander and fennel together as fennel will not fruit. Also don’t plant strawberries, eggplant or peppers near fennel as fennel is said to inhibit the growth of bush beans, caraway, kohlrabi, and tomatoes. But in saying that, I haven’t had too much trouble, as it is supposed to stunt the growth of other plants. Don’t grow fennel with dill or coriander as they can cross pollinate, and alter the flavour of the seed, or reduce the seed production.


How to grow Fennel

Fennel is a hardy herbaceous perennial herb, with a fleshy bulbous base, that has become naturalised in many parts around the world. The best times to grow fennel is by planting seed in spring and summer for most climates and you can plant all year round in warmer climates. It is very tolerant of a wide range of soils, which it prefers to be well draining and the pH can be a wide range to, but for better results it likes a slightly alkaline 7.0 to 8.0 sandy or loamy soil.

It does not like high summer rains nor high humidity, and grows best in cool to warm climates. It prefers a sunny position if possible, but doesn’t like being exposed to high winds or frosts.

From Seed

  • In the spring, soak your seeds for 24 to 48 hours before sowing to ensure a better germination
  • Plant your seeds in drills about 50cm / 20″ apart
  • Plant your seeds about 6mm / 1/4″ deep when using containers
  • Plant about 1cm / 3/8′ deep in the garden
  • Keep the soil moist until the seeds start to sprout
  • Seeds should sprout in about two weeks
  • Thin out the fennel plants to 30cm to 45cm /12″ to 18″ apart, and when they are 10cm to 15cm / 4″ to 6″ tall
  • Fennel will start flowering in about 3 months after planting.

From Cuttings?

Well not from the typical understanding of cuttings, but it is a cutting in the sense of the word. This is done by basically leaving the last part of the base of the bulb. So when you buy a fennel bulb from the grocery store to cook with, keep the base and leave as much of the root area as possible and keep some of the bulb.

Place this fennel base into a container with water just covering the roots underneath in a sunny to well lit place, for example, beside a window sill. Every couple of days, change the water to keep it fresh and to keep the fennel from going mouldy.

Soon you will see new green shoots coming up from the top, and shortly after that, you will see roots starting to form underneath. When you have the roots big and strong enough you can transplant it either into a large deep pot or into the garden. You can actually keep growing it in the water if you wish.

From roots

Although I have not tried this one, I believe the fennel can be propagated via root division, so long as you don’t damage them too much.

Maintenance

On the whole, fennel is not bothered too much by pests and diseases but they can be attacked by white fly and aphids. Aphids can be hosed off and well composted fennel that is not too high in nitrogen and to raise the potash levels, can help the plant to resist white fly. Or encourage predatory insects such as lady beetles, spiders, damsel bugs and hoverflys, or you can use a pyrethrin spray for the whitefly. The other main concern is when the plants are young they can be affected by root rot, this is usually due to over watering.


Collecting

Leaves can be harvested really at any time, once the plant is established, but of course don’t constantly strip the plant of leaves. If you are after the bulb, wait until it is about golf ball size and start heaping the soil around it, this helps to sweeten it and makes it the lovely white colour, that is, blanching. When it’s about a tennis ball size, which is in about 2 to 3 weeks, it should be ready to harvest. Then keep the base and regrow another one.

Drying

If you are after the seed, you can harvest the seed umbels in late summer, which you can dry in a light and airy room and store for replanting next year if you have a cold climate or replant if you are in a warmer climate.

Storage

You can keep the leaves well sealed in freezer bags in the freezer for use later on, and they should keep for about 6 months, or you can store the leaves in an oil, which can look nice if prepared right and given as a gift, or you can make a fennel vinegar for storage or as a gift too. Store the dried seeds in airtight containers.


Herbalism

The information below is for informational and education purposes only. So please do not “self-treat”. When seeking any ‘therapeutic’ advice always see a Qualified Health Care Professional first.

Common names:

Sweet fennel, Large fennel, Wild Fennel, Carosella, Marathon, Meeting seeds, Funcho Fenkel, and Finnochio, also called Florence fennel, which is a smaller cultivar

Parts used:

Fruit/ Seed therapeutically, but you can use the entire plant

Dosage:

Daily minimum to maximum dosage: 2.0 – 3.0 grams

Main actions:

Carminative, spasmolytic, expectorant, orexigenic, galactagogue, antimicrobial, oestrogen modulating, aromatic, digestive, rubefacient, diuretic, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory in polyarthritis

Indications:

Intestinal colic, flatulence, flatulent colic, infantile colic, dyspepsia, anorexia, nausea, diarrhoea, difficult lactation, spasmodic dysmenorrhoea, secondary amenorrhoea, obesity, nasopharyngeal catarrh, acute and chronic bronchitis, bronchial asthma, and cough. Topically for idiopathic hirsutism, conjunctivitis, blepharitis, and pharyngitis. Plus, Irritable bowel syndrome, may assist weight loss (needs to be applied with change in diet and more movement.)

Constituents:

Essential oil (2-4%) to contain mostly trans-anethole and fenchone, volatile and fixed oil, phenolic acids, flavonoids – rutin, coumarins, sterols, and furanocoumarins

Safety concerns:

May irritate if you have gastro-oesophageal reflux, avoid therapeutic doses if you are pregnant, doses in menopausal women may bring back slight periods. High doses of the oil can possibly cause convulsions. Women with oestrogen-dependant tumours should avoid fennel.

Also, it does have a similar appearance to Hemlock, so be sure to know how to identify the plant in the wild.

Adulterants:

None known



Please remember, this blog cannot and should not replace a health care professional, and is for informational and educational purposes only and is not for medical advice or treatment, and no cure is implied in anyway. If you have a known serious condition, or are pregnant, please consult your health care professional, before use.

Kind Regards,

Russell a.k.a Herbal Panda

Website: http://www.theherbarius.com.au

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Email: theherbalist@theherbarius.com.au

Sales: sales@theherbarius.com.au

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Do not use your mind as ‘shins in the dark’ when walking through life — Herbal Panda

“Greetings Mr Fenugreek, I hear that you are such a handy and capable fellow”, said an earnest looking man as Mr Fenugreek was busily working. “Yes I am, very much so in fact,” replied Mr Fenugreek. “I have been helping many folk for a very long time, and I’m sure I can help you too.”

You know, we find different peoples around the place, but strangely enough, no matter how different they seem to be, they can have similar strengths and abilities, and this is comparable to three other friends to Mr Fenugreek and they are Mr Comfrey, Mr Garlic and Mr Irish Moss.

Fenugreek can be used in place of Comfrey when dealing with healing, especially with bones and Fenugreek can be used instead of or in conjunction with Garlic, in which it boosts the benefits of garlic, and the seeds are comparable to Irish moss.

Fenugreek, and its botanical name – Trigonella foenum-graecum is one of the oldest used herbs known to man, and it has also been very beneficial to animals as well, even before it was used for humans, such as, cattle, pigs, and chickens as apparently they liked the taste of it, its supposed to increase milk supply, improve their coats and even enlarge the egg size of chickens.

The word ‘Trigonella’ is used to describe its three-lobed or three-angled leaves and the term ‘foenum-graecum’ basically means Greek hay. Fenugreek has certainly been around for a very long time, as it is recorded that the Pharaoh, King Tut, had it in his tomb after he died in 1323 B.C. Long before it was used by the Greeks and Romans as a medicine it was used to feed livestock. Here, it was mixed with insect damaged or mouldy hay to encourage their livestock to eat it, and then it turned out that if the animals were sick, they would only pick out the fenugreek and eat it, and wouldn’t eat anything else. And we called them dumb animals? I have read where veterinarians still give fenugreek to encourage sick animals to eat.

Originally from the European Mediterranean coast, it spread all round the Mediterranean and was grown from Morocco to Turkey and ultimately from India and to China.

The Indian physicians used it to treat tummy upsets, bronchitis and even arthritis, and to improve milk supply in their women, and the Chinese doctors used it to treat muscle pains and hernias, from fevers to gallbladder issues and impotence, and the earliest mention of Chinese doctors using it I can find is in 1057 A.D. for the treating of kidney complaints. (If you have or believe that you may have a hernia, please go and see your doctor.)

It was used by Arabian and African women gain weight and enlarge their breast size, and as it was mentioned in one piece of Arabian medical literature, it is “for alluring roundness of the female breast” and also the women from Syria to Libya, roasted the seeds also to gain weight and enlarge their breasts as well.

I have read that these effects are due to fenugreek slowing down the rate at which the liver enzymes break down oestrogen, but this does not appear to affect women when lactating.

Herbs should be used for healing, but apparently according to the Historian Flavius Josephus, when the future Roman Emperor Vespasian commanded his troops to climb the walls of Jerusalem, the Jewish defenders mixed fenugreek to the oil so that the attackers could not easily climb their ladders.

John Gerard, the superintendent of Lord Burleigh’s Gardens in the 16th century wrote when speaking of Colewort, “The same being applied with pouder of Fenugreeke, taketh away the paine of the gout”.

And finally, did you know that fenugreek is one of the major ingredients to the contraceptive pill, possibly due to it containing precursors to progesterone, which may mean it can be a help to peri-menopausal women.


How to use Fenugreek

Fenugreek can be used in a number of ways and two of the most well known methods are as a tea, which is quite simple to make, and can be made several different ways depending on what you are trying to achieve, and the other is sprouting the seed to include in different meals. Culinarily the seeds and it’s powdered form can be used in those famous Indian curries, but it can also be used in marinades, chutneys, pastries, pickles, and brines, and it has a spicy, somewhat pungent and bitter celery or maple aroma. If you lightly roast the seed, it gains a sweet maple syrupy like flavour. If you want to make your own fenugreek powder, just make enough to use each time, as it can lose it flavour quickly.

Commercially, it is used as a source of imitation maple flavouring, plus it is used in flavouring vanilla essence, caramel and butterscotch creations.

Fenugreek Herbal Teas

Fenugreek teas are very easy to make with an unusual bitter maple flavour.

The simplest fenugreek tea

  • Take 1/2 a teaspoon of fenugreek seeds and put them into a cup
  • Pour in boiling hot water
  • Allow to steep for 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Add sweetener if required such as raw honey or stevia
  • And enjoy.
  • A simple addition to the tea is light squeeze of lemon juice

A more therapeutic version of fenugreek tea

  • Crush 1 to 2 teaspoons of fenugreek tea
  • Place them into a small saucepan
  • Add just over a cup of water
  • Bring it to a boil
  • Gently simmer for 15 minutes
  • Take it in two lots of half a cup, 1/2 in the morning and 1/2 in the afternoon
  • And for extra boost eat the seed when you finish the drink

If you gently and slowly roast the seeds it can be used as a coffee substitute.

Culinary uses of Fenugreek

It appears to have been the Egyptians who may have been the first used fenugreek as a culinary herb, but we do know that the Indians added it to their curries, but it is also used in Persian, and Ethiopian dishes. The Jewish and Arab communities call it Halbah or Helbah and use it in a sweet called ‘halva’. I won’t add or suggest any Indian curry recipes that include fenugreek simply due to the fact that there are thousands upon thousands of them out there that are simply just so delicious, but I do encourage you to find one you like and give it a try. And let me know how you wen’t and I’d love to see a photo of it!

But two ideas I would like to suggest are how to make fenugreek berries and how to sprout fenugreek yourself, which actually has higher nutritional value than the seeds, plus added fibre.

Fenugreek Berries

Depending on the size of the salad or meal soak for 24 hours 2 to 4 tablespoons of fenugreek seeds in water. Depending on the weather, this make take a little longer. After the soaking period drain off the water, then add the jelly like soft berries to a tossed salad or any other dish you wish to add them too.

How to sprout Fenugreek

Equipment
  • A glass jar that holds a bit more than two cups
  • A piece of gauze, old stocking, curtain netting or similar
  • A large rubber band to fit firmly over the top of the jar
Ingredients
  • 3 tablespoons of Fenugreek seeds
  • A supply of fresh pure water
How to do
  • Place the seeds into the glass jar
  • Add approximately 2 cups of water
  • Place the mesh over the top of the jar and fasten on with the rubber band
  • Allow to soak overnight or at least for 8 hours
  • After the soak, drain off the water through the mesh
  • Wash the seeds with fresh water and tip that off
  • Stand the jar with the seeds upside down and leave on a good angle to drain. (This can be done in the kitchen sink dish drainer)
  • Twice a day, wash the seeds with fresh water and repeat the process above
  • After each rinse, roll the jar to loosen up the seeds
  • Depending on the weather, your sprouts should be ready in about 2 to 4 days, or, about 1 to 3cm / 3/8 to 1 1/4″ long
  • If you’re not going to use them all immediately, then store them in the fridge, but allow them to breathe

Once they have reached your preferred length, they can be simply eaten raw used in your lunches, in sandwiches or in different types of salads such as green, summer, potato and pasta. But don’t forget fruit salads with Papaya or mangos, let alone on toast with avocado, cream cheeses, or ginger jams or marmalades and lemon butter. As well as many vegetable dishes, stir-fries or just a garnish to decorate your meals.

If you grow the fenugreek in pots or close by in your garden, you can also harvest the leaves, which can be used in salads, sandwiches, as a steamed green vegetable, plus in stews and soups. These leaves should be picked young and used fairly quickly to enjoy their freshness, which have a similar flavour to fresh peas.

Fenugreek’s medicinal uses

Fenugreek has many medicinal virtues helping with all sorts of upper respiratory issues, inflammation inside and outside the body and digestive problems such as an inflamed gastrointestinal system, plus peri-menopause, a possible aphrodisiac to lowering cholesterol or improving milk production in mothers to breast enlargement, or even helping with bad breath by just chewing on a few seeds (be careful they can be hard, allow them to soften a bit). The simple beauty of many of the complaints it can help with, can be provided by drinking its tea specifically, or eating the sprouts or leaves.

Because fenugreek is a vulnerary, (it promotes healing of bodily damage) it can assist in the healing of wounds, and the suggestion I would like to make, is that you can use it as a poultice or a compress, which is similar, to draw out toxins from the body, helping with ulcers, skin irritations, bruises, boils and abscesses on the skin, as well as simple things such as speeding the healing of wounds and other skin problems.

Lots of other herbs and not just fenugreek, can be used either as just the herb itself or mixed with other herbs to gain further benefits that each added herb may give, so this type of preparation or technique below, can be used with other herbs.

Fenugreek Poultice

  • Either obtain as much fenugreek powder or grind up enough whole seed either in a mortar and pestle or use an electric coffee grinder until you have enough to cover the desired area with a thick smear, say 6mm/ 1/4″
  • If you want to increase the blood circulation then you can use a hot poultice at no more then 41C / 105F or if you want to cool inflammation you can make a cold poultice
  • Here you could use a herbal decoction for the liquid or even a vegetable oil or raw honey, plus add a few drops of essential oil to gain extra benefit
  • You can add a little charcoal too
  • Mix in enough liquid to make it into a thick paste
  • Smear it thickly over the area to be treated
  • Cover the area with plastic such as ‘cling wrap’
  • Then wrap around with a cloth or towel

Examples of a herbal decoction could be chamomile or dandelion and an example of oil could be olive, castor or coconut oils. The best time to apply a poultice is just before going to bed, but if you need it through the day, and sometimes you may need to, and require mobility, wrap around with plastic cling wrap, then a linen cloth and tie off without cutting off circulation or creating pain, or you may need a 10cm/4″ bandage wrapping from the thinner part of the limb to the thicker part.

Sometimes you can place the thick paste onto a linen cloth and fold it and then apply this to the area, or you can put it into muslin bag and place this onto the area as well. Many do it this way.

So why the difference between hot and cold poultices?

Let’s say you’ve got a month old injury, you’ve had a fall and hurt your knee and now it is still swollen, some what sore at times, and when you feel the swollen area its like thick gravy under plastic, but cold. This is when you would use a hot poultice, because you want to remove the stagnation and free up the fluid underneath. This can happen so much so that the bruise that would have occurred a few days after the accident can finally come through, and even hurt, so be aware.

A cold poultice is designed to ‘calm’ down’ the inflammation similar to a cold pack you would put on a sprain, numbing and reducing pain. This is done by reducing fluid leakage by constricting vessels. This reduces swelling, pressure, inflammation and muscle spasms, that are common sources of pain.

Fenugreek Water

The two main uses for fenugreek water is for diarrhoea and dyspepsia. One of the principles behind the effectiveness of fenugreek is the mucilaginous substance, which is 1/3 of the seed. So wherever it goes throughout the body, it creates a protective layer between ‘where it hurts’ and what’s around it.

  • Simply add 35 grams/ 1 oz of fenugreek seeds to a saucepan
  • Bring to a boil, then turn back to gently simmer for 15 minutes
  • Turn off and allow to cool
  • Strain and drink whilst the condition continues

Fenugreek Oil

  • For a massage oil you can add a few drops to a carrier oil to soothe the skin
  • Fenugreek oil can be used as a calming and aromatic experience
  • As a gargle, place one to two drops of oil to a glass of water
  • For your hair and scalp, add a few drops to your shampoo and conditioner

Fenugreek dye

The seed can be used as a yellow dye.

Gardening with fenugreek

Fenugreek has a variety of uses in the garden, the best would be growing it for culinary uses, as the young leaves are the best, which can be cooked or steamed or used fresh like a spinach and added to a potato salad or curry. The seed can be used in curries and other spicy dishes, teas and to flavour foods and beverages, as well as making sprouts and growing your own microgreens.

It is a well known fodder crop for many animals such as pigs, horses, chickens and buffalo, cattle/dairy cows, rabbits, sheep and goats, and even fish (seed).

It can be used as a nitrogen fixer, but apparently it needs the right bacteria to do this, which is Rhizobium melilot to improve your soil, or you can grow it as a cover crop and plow it back into the ground to add humus to your soil or just chop and drop to increase mulch or grow it for erosion control.


How to Grow

Fenugreek – Trigonella Foenum-graecum is a half hardy annual, that has a ‘trifoil’ -three-angle leaves that are obovate that alternate and it grows to approximately 60cm/ 2′ and has a spread of about 23cm/9″. The flowers are a white to yellow that are a pea flower.

Fenugreek likes a soil that is approximately neutral, but it can be either lower or higher, from 6.5 to 8.2 pH, but doesn’t mind a little lime. It grows in full sunlight, or it needs at least 4 to 5 hours of good sun and can tolerate some shade and the colder you go, you’ll need to have more sunlight.

It likes the soils to be slightly moist but it doesn’t like sitting in water and don’t let it dry out. Poor care does tend to lead to more pests and diseases.

From Seed

Seed is really the only way to grow and cultivate fenugreek, as it is just so quick and easy to grow.

  • Planting is anywhere from spring to early autumn
  • Don’t plant if frost is still around
  • Soak the amount of seeds you wish to plant overnight
  • Place the seeds into drills or holes that are about 6mm/1/4″ deep and 5cm to 2″ apart
  • Cover over and lightly water in
  • Germination is usually from 2 to 7 days
  • It reaches full maturity in about 2 to 4 months
  • Let some grow to seed so that you’ll have some for next planting

If you are growing for the leafy vegetable, then you can plant them much closer together, in a wide container that doesn’t have to be very deep. Keep this pot or container close to your kitchen for easy harvesting.

Maintenance

So long as you keep it watered just enough, and give it plenty of sun and fresh air, and generally things should go well. It doesn’t have a high demand for fertiliser, but you can make sure it is well manured at the time of planting or just add a little liquid fertiliser once every one to two weeks.

Pests and diseases

Fenugreek doesn’t have a lot of issues with pests and diseases but it can get a few, here below are some to watch out for.

  • Pests are aphids, slugs, snails and grasshoppers/crickets
  • Diseases can be powdery mildew, plus charcoal and root rot

Harvesting

If you are looking for a leafy vegetable crop it should be ready in about 20 to 30 days, don’t cut off at the base, just cut them off 3 to 5 cm above the ground. Then allow the stems to regrow and sometimes you can get a leaf crop every two weeks four times in a season.

Drying

Simply place the leaves on clean paper towelling or on clean dry kitchen towels in a well ventilated room until completely dry.

Storage

Typically the leaves are used fresh, but when thoroughly dry, place them into sealable airtight glass jars, label and date, and store in a cool, dry and dark place. If they become mouldy then throw them out.


Herbalism

The information below is for informational and education purposes only. So please do not “self-treat”. When seeking any ‘therapeutic’ advice always see a Qualified Health Care Professional first.

Common names:

Greek hay or hayseed, Bird’s foot, Foenugreek, Fenigreek, Hilba, Trigonella, Cow’s horn, and Goat’s horn

Parts used:

Seed therapeutically, but can use sprouts and leaf for more nutrition

Dosage:

Daily minimum to maximum dosage: 2.0 – 4.0 grams

Main actions:

Hypoglycaemic, hypocholesterolaemic, hypolipidaemic, demulcent, anti-inflammatory, galactagogue, and orexigenic

Indications:

Diabetes, dyspepsia, gastritis, gastrointestinal inflammation, anorexia, debility, convalescence, and difficult lactation, plus, the seed powdered for hypocholesterolaemia or high triglycerides

Constituents:

Steroidal saponin, mucilage, flavonoids, sterols, essential oil, 4-hydroxyisoleucine, trigonelline, bitter principle, arabinose, gentianine, phytosterols, coumarins, lecithin, and diosgenin

Safety concerns:

Saponins, can aggravate or cause gastro-oesophageal reflux, higher doses may cause body odour changes. Do not use if pregnant. Caution with those highly anaemic as it competes with iron. Don’t go over 100g/day.

Adulterants:

None known



Please remember, this blog cannot and should not replace a health care professional, and is for informational and educational purposes only and is not for medical advice or treatment, and no cure is implied in anyway. If you have a known serious condition, or are pregnant, please consult your health care professional, before use.

Kind Regards,

Russell a.k.a Herbal Panda

Website: http://www.theherbarius.com.au

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Email: theherbalist@theherbarius.com.au

Sales: sales@theherbarius.com.au

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The way you think you are, You probably are — Herbal Panda

Passionflower, passionflower, passionflower, O, the desires that are wrapped up in thee. She is the love of every truly beloved.

My Lady Miss Passionflower, one can see the beautifully ‘pulchritudinous’ character in you. (Now I would like to hear you say that word ten times real fast.) Beauty is found everywhere, and in the sight of the passionflower, this is so true, with so many varieties in so many places her beauty is spread so wide and free.

Passionflower, a native of the central and south Americas and the south east of the United States, was a food for the Incas, Aztecs and many other native tribal peoples of that region of the world for thousands of years, it must have been an inspiration to celebrate colour in their lives and in their dress. Beautiful and flowing, unashamed to bloom and shine with real presents, even the fruit has intense flavour, colour and aromas, this is a plant that is alive in everyway.

The Cherokee indians have been using passion flower for thousands of years both for culinary and medicinal purposes. Called “ocoee” by the Cherokee indians, eventually gave the name to the river and valley also by the same name.

Passiflora or Flos passionis – Passionflower – Passiflora incarnata, has a long history of use, as long as people have been in the Americas there has been some connection with passionflower, from the moment they viewed the flower and tasted its fruit, humans must have been captivated with this plant.

When the Conquistadors arrived with Priests of Rome, they also discovered this wonderful plant and gave and influenced its modern name, and due to their strong Roman Catholic beliefs named it from the Crucifixion and Passion of Christ. Historian and churchman, Giacomo Bosia gave the flower itself its religious interpretation in 1609 AD. The Spanish of that time called it the “La Flor de las cinco Llagas” meaning, “The flower with the five wounds” pointing to the wounds during Christ’s Crucifixion.

Locals in that region I believe still call it by that name today, I wonder what was the first peoples name for it, and why?

Although I see nothing wrong with naming the flower ‘passionflower’, I do really like the lesser known name “Sweet cup”, how about you, can you think of another name? Another name given to this plant is “maypop”, apparently and logically this is due to the result of stepping on the round egg-shaped fruit and it ‘may pop’. Others have applied this to mean at what month it comes out, that is the month of May in the northern hemisphere.

Brought to Europe during the eighteenth century has now been developed into many varieties and has spread around the world. It became popular in the Victorian era, but lost some of its notoriety, but is now gaining its proper status, in these recent times.

In Australia, there is a plant that is called Wild or Bush Passionfruit, passiflora foetida, it is not native to Australia, but is edible and quite tasty. Don’t eat the green fruit, you must wait until the fruit turn yellow. In some places, especially in the northern half of Australia and it is becoming quite invasive and damaging to native flora.


How to use Passionflower/passionfruit

Culinary Uses

Usually when speaking about culinary uses we tend to use ‘passionfruit’ not passionflower. Passionfruit has many uses, and the best known are the culinary uses, such as drinks and beverages of all sorts, for example, a fruit punch or smoothies, and the most popular would be desserts, and here in Australia it looks fantastic on Pavlova or cheese cake. Other sweet combinations can be with ice cream, tarts, meringues, jellies, cake, creams, cheese such as ricotta, curds, trifles, souffles, and slices, just to name a few, if you not feeling hungry already.

Yep, I’m hungry already

But apart from starring in many fantastic sweet dishes, it can be used in breads and buns, on salads, both fruit and leaf salads, and in sauces and butters, on meats such as prawns and fish, (oh I’m melting) also in your breakfasts with banana and berries, with vegetables such as carrots and sweet potato.

Herbal Teas

Passionflower’s main action is a nerve relaxant or a mild sedative, therefore it has a natural relaxing affect, and helps to reduce anxiety issues and sleeplessness, that is encouraging better sleep. This can help a person just by having a cup of herbal passionflower tea, which is very easy to make.

Passionflower Tea

  • Put 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of dried flower and leaf into a cup
  • Pour in boiling hot water
  • Allow to steep for 5 to 10 minutes
  • Add a little sweetener if needed
  • Enjoy

You can have 2 – 3 cups per day. Also you can mix passionflower with other herbs to alter the flavour or make stronger, examples of this could be ginger, chamomile, oats, hops or lemon balm.

Don’t use or make stronger if you are operating dangerous equipment.

It is advised not to take passionflower tea therapeutically if you are pregnant. I am not aware of any harm due to eating the fruit plup or seed, unless you have diverticula.

Passionflower seed carrier oil

This oil can be used in several different ways, one, it is a light non-greasy oil that can be used in aromatherapy or in the bath, and for a smooth massage oil. You can easily thicken the oil if needed with another carrier oil once you have added your prefered drops of essential oils. Passionflower carrier oil can be use in various skin creams and even hair products due to its light non-greasiness or simply apply it directly to your skin as is.

You can get a fragranced passionflower oil that is oil soluble (now that sounds odd), which can be used in soaps, shampoos and conditioners, plus lotions, cologne and used in potpourri and in candle making. If you wanted to improve the smell of your kerosene lantern, just add a 1 teaspoon to 240mls / 8oz of kerosene.

Gardening

From a gardening point of view, it is a great way of growing your own fruit for desserts and making all those incredible recipes, but it also can be used as a screen, to keep out prying eyes and neighbour’s noses, also it can make a wind block to protect from constant blowing, it can be used as a sun shield, protecting that hot and sunny side of the house or to cool a pond or over a Barbeque pergola. Since it can be a prolific producer, it can be an income too, or trade the fruit or cuttings for new plants with your neighbours for something else you may want.

One of several passionfruit plants I have recently planted for food, visual screening and wind breaks, as a lot of wind comes from this direction

How to grow Passionflower

Generally, passionflower is an easy thing to grow and if living in a wonderful position that it loves, frankly it can start to take over the thing it is growing on, and will definitly need trimming back. Passionflower prefers well draining loamy soils in a sunny position or some shade. Passionflower needs something to climb on such as a fence or trellis, climbing via its tendrils. It is a perennial with three lobe leaves 8 to 12 cm / 3 1/4″ to 4 3/4″ long. Most varieties require a warm climate except for a few such as banana passionfruit. One of its largest varieties is called Granadilla that grows a fruit the size of a football, and the corky passionfruit that grows the size of a pea.

From seed

Passionflower can grow from seed, but it can be slow and erratic at times and can take up to 18 months to two years to flower and then produce fruit shortly after. Planting should be done approximately in the spring to early summer and if you cannot plant the seed just yet, then keep the seeds dry and in an airtight container.

  • Collect your seed from some fruit that you have recently eaten as the fresher the seed the better.
  • Clean away any pulp
  • Fill a 10cm wide container with good seed raising mix
  • Moisten the seed raising mix
  • Place one to two seeds into 3 – 1cm deep holes and cover
  • Water in preferably with a seaweed type fertilser
  • If you are in cold climates keep the pot/s in a warm glass or hot house
  • Or put them into a foam/polystyrene box and cover over with a glass sheet
  • Do not put them direct sunlight
  • Keep the soil moist with a mist until seed germinates
  • Water gently with a fine spray fitting once seedlings are coming up
  • At a height of 5cm /2″ use a liquid plant fertiliser again
  • Repeat every two weeks with the fertiliser
  • Once the plants are 10cm /4″ high transplant into 15 to 20cm / 6″ to 8″pots
  • Water in well and firm around the plant
  • Supply a support of some form to allow the plant to grow on
  • At six weeks either plant into a much larger pot or into the garden

From cuttings

Often cuttings are the easiest and quickest way to propagate, but things are differnet with passionflower vines, and only seem to be slower, but this may be due to other factors and you may be just fine, so still give it a go.

  • Take the stem cuttings from the ‘softwood stage’
  • Cut 10 to 15cm / 4″ to 6″ long cuttings just below the node
  • Remove any leaves or tendrils at the bottom
  • Dip the bottom end into rooting hormone, some use raw honey and some don’t bother (Experiment)
  • Make up a mix of equal parts sand and peat
  • Fill a 10cm / 4″ pot
  • Make a hole in the mix with a stick
  • Place the cutting in the hole and press firmly in
  • Lightly water in
  • Cover the pot, cutting and all with a clear plastic bag that has just a few holes in it
  • Support the bag away from the cutting
  • Keep them moist but not wet and in a shady position
  • After about a month you should see new growth coming on
  • Only Transplant when the roots are well developed

You also can propagate by layering and this is one by tying or anchoring the stem down to the ground with a little dirt covering, this acts the same as striking cuttings.

Maintenance

Passionflower can get several diseases, such as anthracnose, scab, septoriosis and alternaia spot, as well some more nasty ones such as fusarium wilt, crown rot and collar rot and viruses such as woodiness virus and cucumber mosaic virsus for example.

Some of the most common causes for disease are poor ventilation, over crowding, hot and rainy weather promoting fungal growth, plus poor hygenie of gardening tools and aphids and nematodes.


Collecting

The time to harvest your passionflower is when your plant is mature and blooming. Cut off the amount you want to dry and store for use, tie them together with string but allow the air to get through and hang them up inside a sunny window.

Drying

Leave them there for two weeks until they are dry and brittle to touch.

Storage

Once your leaves are completely dry and break up easily to touch in your hand, untie the the stems and crush the leaves, flowers and stems with your fingers and place them in a sealed glass jar and label and date it. anything too big and hard just throw out.


Herbalism

The information below is for informational and education purposes only. So please do not “self-treat”. When seeking any ‘therapeutic’ advice always see a Qualified Health Care Professional first.

PARTS USED:

Aerial parts: leaves, stems, flower and roots in a tea (though not so well known)

DOSAGE:

Daily minimum to maximum dosage: 1.5 – 2.5 grams

MAIN ACTIONS:

Anxiolytic, mild sedative, hypnotic, and spasmolytic

INDICATIONS:

Maintenance and sleep onset, insomnia, anxiety, excitability, irritability, nervous tachycardia, tension headache, and palpitations, plus, Drug addition and abuse (generally needs additional herbs to go with), trigeminal neuralgia, spasmodic dysmenorrhoea, asthma, and epilepsy

CONSTITUENTS:

Flavonoids – Flavone-C-glycosides – isovitexin, and derivatives, malt, isomalzol, Harman alkaloids – traces

SAFETY CONCERNS:

No major problems found, but do not use during pregnancy without professional advice.

ADULTERANTS:

Adulterated with “white flower” species



Please remember, this blog cannot and should not replace a health care professional, and is for informational and educational purposes only and is not for medical advice or treatment, and no cure is implied in anyway. If you have a known serious condition, or are pregnant, please consult your health care professional, before use.

Kind Regards,

Russell a.k.a Herbal Panda

Website: http://www.theherbarius.com.au

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Email: theherbalist@theherbarius.com.au

Sales: sales@theherbarius.com.au

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“Passion is a fire that attracts, be wise with what you are attracted to, it must only burn away the dross, or you will suffer loss” —Herbal Panda

The Plain and Underrated, and often called common, but truly impressive Master Oats

The plain and ordinary young man and sometimes called ‘common’, Master Oats, has suffered badly with the middle child syndrome, older brothers such as Mister Wheat, Mister Barley and Mister Rye, have taken the limelight for too long and now it is time for Master Oats to rise and shine. This very gifted young man has more ability than you think. I ask you, “what are oats good for?” Breakfast cereal you say, well that is a good start but, he is a greater contender for a fight than just a bowl of porridge, or glue, as some may dare to judge.

Well, how good is he then, I here you say, okay, I’ll tell you how good he is, when Tina Turner sang, “We don’t need another hero”, I’m sure she must must have been singing about Master Oats, I’m not sure who this Mad Max guy is anyway.

Okay, I hear ya, that does sound a little ‘extreme’, but seriously, he is made of good stuff and if given half the chance, he could become a hero for our modern heart-failing age, which is full of depression, anxiety, stress, fatigue and bodily weakness.

Yes, Master Oats has been around for quite some time, so why do I call him ‘Master’, as if relating to him as if being ‘younger’, because he just hasn’t been allowed to ‘come of age’ such as his older half brothers wheat, barley and rye, as they all do come from the same family, ‘Poaceae/Gramineae’, but wheat, barley and rye come from a different Genus. Oats is a native to Europe and does still grow there wild. Back then, as is often today, animals are fed better than humans, and traditionally it was fed to the livestock at that time, but there is records of it being used in the human diet.

Mr John Gerard an Elizabethan physician had this to say about it: “Some of those good house-wives that delight not to have anything but from hand to mouth, according to our English proverbe, may (while the pot doth teeth) go to the barne, and rub forth with their hands sufficient for that present time.” … and “Otemeale is good for to make a faire and wel coloured maid to looke like a cake of tallow,”.

Oats – Avena sativa, with the name Avena coming from the Romans calling it Aveo, meaning to desire, and the term Oat comes from the old English – āte and nobody seems to know where that came from.


How to use Oats

So lets discuss some of Oats many uses. Historically, it seems to be the food of the poor or just a feed for livestock, and during the 1500’s it was turned into various forms of bread and cakes, and a replacement for “want of Barley”.

The first thing that comes to most peoples minds are its many Culinary uses and the most well known is Porridge, which can be made very basically or can be almost stylised into something very fancy, and if you want to then do it. Another more popular use of rolled oats is Muesli, developed by the Swiss Doctor – Bircher Berner and also in ‘muesli bars’. Using rolled oats has health benefits, but not as much as the original green product, for example ‘green oat straw’ and ‘green seed’.

Basic Porridge

  • Put 50 grams or 1/4 cup of rolled oats into a saucepan
  • Add a pinch of salt
  • Add 350ml (12fl oz) of water to the saucepan
  • Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes
  • Stir regularly to prevent sticking to the bottom
  • Pour into a bowl
  • Add some milk and sweetener
  • And enjoy

From this point you can multiply the formula to suit extra persons, and once you have completed this highly complex recipe, you can now move on to adding extras. Instead of adding water you can add your preferred milk to simmer the oats in or have half water and half milk. You can add many herbs and spices to your porridge during the cooking process or after you have put it in the bowl: these can be cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. Or, you can add various berries such as, strawberries, cranberries, blueberries, mulberries or blackberries, as well as raisins and sultanas or fruit such as bananas. You can add extra fibre through various types of brans too. To add a little bite to your breakfast, you can throw in Greek yogurt, I have even tried a small splash of apple cider vinegar at the beginning, as it helps to break the oats down – predigestion, which is good for those trying to recover or convalescence. For sweeteners you can use honey, stevia, erythritol, and monk fruit, to name just a few. If I had to use sugar, I would use Jaggery or molasses, due to being very raw, and containing more nutrients.

Simple is usually the best

Lazy porridge

  • At night…
  • Place all your chosen ingredients from the list above (except for the water) into a Thermos, Vacuum or Dewar flask and evenly mix them up
  • Pour in boiling hot water, you may need a little extra hot water if adding more ‘dry’ ingredients
  • Place the lid on immediately
  • Leave until the morning
  • Open and enjoy

Oat Bread

Ingredients
  • 3 cups of wholemeal flour
  • 1 cup of rolled oats
  • 2 Tablespoons of finely chopped dandelion leaves or similar
  • 5 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons of honey or similar
  • 1 table spoon of coconut oil
  • 1 1/2 cups of milk
How to
  • Place flour, rolled oats, baking powder, and dandelion leaves into a bowl
  • Throughly and evenly mix
  • In another bowl beat the egg
  • Then to the beaten egg add the 2 tablespoons of sweetener, 1 tablespoon of oil and 1 1/2 cups of milk and mix
  • Add and mix in these to the dry mixture above
  • Put this mix into a suitable sized cake or bread tin
  • Cook at 177 C / 350 F for about 1 hour
  • Allow to cool and enjoy

Being an Aussie, I cannot dare to leave this thought here, as one of the most famous oat biscuit recipes in The land of Oz, is the ANZAC biscuit. The popular modern recipe for Anzac Biscuits has rolled oats, flour, sugar, butter, baking soda and boiling hot water and the modern version has desiccated coconut. These should never be called cookies and I won’t bother giving the recipe as there are many on the internet, and you promise to stick to the original recipe, hey mate.

Oat teas

Most of the oat plant can be used in a therapeutic manner, so with Oat tea, you normally use the oat straw, and on the whole it has the same values, but not exactly.

Simple Oat Straw Tea
  • Place 1 – 2 teaspoons of green oat straw into a cup (Dried or fresh)
  • Pour in boiling hot water
  • Steep for 10 – 15 minutes
  • If necessary, you can add a little sweetener
  • Drink freely

Please note: Green oat straw is better than dried, but if you can’t get the green version, then dried will do.

Strong Oat Straw Tea
  • Place equal parts of Oats, hops, passionflower and valerian into a cup
  • (Total amount should equal about a tablespoon)
  • Pour in boiling hot water
  • Allow to steep for 15 minutes
  • And drink
Menstrual Cramp Tea
  • Place equal parts of Oats, mugwort, chamomile and cramp bark into a cup
  • Pour in boiling hot water
  • Allow to steep for 15 minutes
  • And drink
  • Place the hot to warm cup onto the ‘sore spot’ as the heat will help to.

Other very good herbs for Menstrual cramps taken in capsules etc., are: Peony root, Cramp bark – very good and Primrose oil. With oats, both the seed and the straw are safe during both pregnancy and lactation as well.

You can grow oats as micro greens and use them in juices as well, similar to wheat grass.

Oat Straw Bath

  • Throw 2 -3 cups of oat straw into a large pot
  • Pour in 2 – 3 litres of water
  • Bring to boil and simmer for five minutes
  • Strain out the straw
  • Pour into a ready prepared bath
  • Soak to your hearts content

Oatmeal Sponge Bath

  • Place 500grams of ‘uncooked’ oatmeal into a loosely woven cloth bag
  • Tie up with a string
  • Place it under the hot running water whilst preparing your bath
  • Once your bath is ready, and the oatmeal is softened
  • Gently use the bag with the oatmeal as a sponge

You don’t have to use this in a bath setup and it is very helpful with conditions such as eczema and shingles.

Very Old Beauty Treatment

Nicholas Culpeper’s treatment (modified)

For the removal of freckles and spots on the face and other areas

  • Place enough oatmeal into a saucepan to cover the region wanted
  • Pour in enough vinegar to cover
  • Bring to boil and simmer for a few minutes
  • Allow to cool
  • Once cool enough apply to the face

How to grow

From seed

  • Prepare a decent sized container with rich potting mix
  • Evenly spread the seed over the top of the mix
  • You can have it close but not too close
  • Rake the seed into the mix
  • If you are planting the seed out in the garden, bury the seed at least 2.5cm / 1″ deep, to keep birds at bay
  • Water in
  • Keep the soil or mix slightly moist
  • After approximately 45 days depending on weather etc. you should be able to start harvesting
  • Depending how well the oats grow, they can reach anything from 60cm – 150cm / 2′ -5′

To the best of my knowledge, I don’t know of anybody propagating from cuttings or root division and probably not worth it anyway.

Maintenance

Due to the speed of the growth, so except for grasshoppers and other plant eating nasties, oats should be relatively easy to manage.

If you do get any disease it could be one of several things: Crown Rust, Yellow Dwarf Virus, Oats Halo Blight, Oat Leaf Blotch, Culm Rot or Stem Rust. But unless you are growing large crops then generally you should be fine and practice crop rotation and keep a hygenic garden.


Collecting

There is a simple test when to harvest the aerial parts, which at this stage can include young seed. This is described as ‘the milky stage’. Simply place the seed in between your two thumb nails and squeeze, and milky sap should come out. If you are specifically after the seed for things such as making your own rolled oats, then wait until the plant is mature and dry.

Drying

Place your harvest in a warm and dry area, spread it around as you are drying them out to cause even drying. Once they are fully dry, you can either store them or have a go at threshing them.

Storage

Store your product in a cool dry place in a airtight sealed jar or container and they should last approximately three months.




Herbalism.

The information below is for informational and education purposes only. So please do not “self-treat”. When seeking any ‘therapeutic’ advice always see a Health Care Professional first.

PARTS USED:

Aerial parts and seed

DOSAGE:

Aerial Parts: Infusion is 4 – 8 teaspoons per day

Seed: Minimum to maximum of dried powder is 3.0 – 6.0g per day

Rolled oats: simply a bowl a day

MAIN ACTIONS:

Aerial: Nervine tonic, anxiolytic, antipruritic, emollient, tonic, sedative, and antidepressant

Seed: Antipruritic, emollient, nervine tonic, tonic, antidepressant, lipid lowering, antihypertensive, blood sugar regulator, and mild thymoleptic

INDICATIONS:

Aerial: Fatigue – nervous, anxiety, insomnia, mild depression, dry skin, itching, eczema – bath, neurasthenia, shingles, herpes zoster, herpes simplex, and exhaustion. Convalescence, stress, plus nervous tension, 

Seed: Dry skin, itch, eczema, both topically and bath, neuralgia, anxiety, insomnia, mild depression, exhaustion, convalescence, stress, nervous tension, hyperlipidaemia, hypertension, hyper/hypoglycaemia, melancholia, menopausal neurasthenia, and general debility

CONSTITUENTS:

Aerial: Beta-glucan, triterpenoid, saponins, – avenacosides, alkaloids – avenue and trigonelline, sterol – avenasterol, flavonoids, starch, phytates, coumarins. Nutrients – silicic acid, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, iron, manganese, zinc, vitamins A, B-complex, C, E, K, and amino acids

Seed: Beta-glucan, triterpenoid, saponins, – avenacosides, alkaloids – avenue and trigonelline, sterol – avenasterol, flavonoids, starch, phytates, coumarins. Nutrients – silicic acid, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, iron, manganese, zinc, vitamins A, B-complex, C, E, K, and amino acids

SAFETY CONCERNS:

Pure certified organic oats, that have ‘not’ come in contact with other grains such as, wheat, barley and rye should not cause any trouble with coeliac or gluten intolerance. Always check before use if unsure. Do not use the seed/rolled oats if you have any intestinal obstruction.

ADULTERANTS:

None known



Please remember, this blog cannot and should not replace a health care professional, and is for informational and educational purposes only and is not for medical advice or treatment, and no cure is implied in anyway. If you have a known serious condition, or are pregnant, please consult your health care professional, before use.

Kind Regards,

Russell a.k.a Herbal Panda

Website: http://www.theherbarius.com.au

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Email: theherbalist@theherbarius.com.au

Sales: sales@theherbarius.com.au

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“Never made a mistake? How boring is your life?” – Herbal Panda

My own crop of lemon grass, with flowers of Aloe vera, poinsettias, and yellowed flowered lantana in the background

To continue my series of herbs that you can grow your own, namely culinary herbs the next one I would like to add is Lemon grass. This tough and hardy herb, is also an easy one to start with. Lemon grass or East Indian variety (Cymbopogon flexuosus) and the West Indian version (Cymbopogon citratus) is well known in Asian cooking can add a wonderful zesty citrus/lemon flavour to your stir fry or Asian soup. It is not one of those one-off crops where you’ll need to constantly replant, but something you can harvest over the years and at your own rate. In other words, “oh I really feel like some Chinese tonight, hey honey, do we have some lemon grass?”

Which is which?

To be specific, there are actually dozens and dozens of varieties of lemon grass found in many countries, and most would be fine, but here are two of the most common. To identify the East Indian lemon grass, used in both cooking and teas, look for the purple tinged one at the edge of the leaf or stalk etc., and it can also grow to 1.5 metres or 5′, and West Indian version, which can be used in cooking, teas and perfumes, only grows to about 90cm or 3′. I would personally just use whatever is easiest to get ahold of and go for it.

Which part do I use?

If you are making a tea/infusion or a decoction, cut off a leaf or two, finely chop them so that you have around about a tablespoon, place it in boiling hot water and allow to steep covered for about 10 minutes, and drink. For a stronger flavour, place the chopped lemon grass into room temperature water, and bring it to boil, then allow it to simmer for 10 to maybe 20 minutes, add a sweetener and enjoy. It can go well with lots of other herbs such as, chamomile, lemon balm and lavender. Why don’t you try a combination of your own and let me know. I often use it in a herbal tea with Lemon balm, Ribwort and a small squeeze of lemon juice.

To use it in cooking, dig down into the base of the clump, and pull out a few stems right from the base. Chop of any roots and leaves, peel off a few layers and your ready to chop. Don’t use the leaves in the cooking as they are quite tough, even a bit spikey and way too chewy when trying to eat your meal, and yep I’ve tried it, spent most of the time picking every little bit out.

Lemon grass seed head with tree and power lines in the background.

How to grow it.

Lemon grass is reasonably tough and hard to kill, no not impossible, but hard. It loves summers that are wet, and cool drier winters, with good drainage as it doesn’t really like it’s roots sitting in water. It’ll grow in just about any soil, but it does prefer rich soil with a little compost or manure, as it is a ‘grass’ meaning it likes nitrogen. Probably the only real concern is frost, so don’t put it in hollows that collect cold air, or areas of still air.

Although just fine in the ground and lemon grass can add interest to any garden honestly, so you could place it in hard to maintain sections, but my preferred choice is to use a large pot, near or conveniently close to the kitchen. Choose a pot or container approximately 30cm or 12″ in diameter, or bigger if you want a bigger clump. Mine was just chucked into an old rectangular black storage tub, I added a little potting mix and I occasionally throw in some fertiliser, and water it from time to time, and there you are, free lemon grass year after year.

From division

The easiest and quickest way to get your lemon grass going is from division. Depending how rough you are, break off a chunk of the clump, this can be one small individual piece or even one large group of stems, and so long as you have sufficient roots in good condition. Simply place the base of the stork of lemon grass with its roots into the mix and water it in well. Give it reasonable care for the next few weeks until it is settled and beware of winds and other weather conditions, which may knock it over for example. This can be remedied by simply putting in a stake and tying a little bit of cloth around them both.

From seed

Unless your region is very cold, you can plant seeds from spring to autumn, if you are very cold, plant either spring or summer, either way, don’t plant during winter as it really doesn’t like it, and it won’t germinate.

To get going fill almost to the top of a 100mm or 4″pot with vegetable potting mix and gently press down the mix, with your hands, then make four small holes about 75mm or 3″ apart at 6mm or 1/4″ deep with your finger and drop in 3 – 4 seeds per hole, cover over and water in.

Always price around for your seed, some are cheap and some are expensive.

Your cute little seedlings should pop out in about 14 – 21 days, if the temperature is above 20 C. If you have too many, just thin out the weaker looking ones without damaging the good strong ones. Place the container into full sun to part shade, water regularly and give it a little fertiliser every now and again.

As your lemon grass gets bigger all you need to do is transfer it into a larger container, add some fresh potting mix with some compost or manure, water it in and away you go, even more lemon grass to enjoy or share swap or trade with your neighbours.



Please remember, this blog cannot replace a health care professional, and is for informational and educational purposes only and is not for medical advice or treatment. If you have a known serious condition, or are pregnant, please consult your health care professional, before use.

Kind Regards,

Russell a.k.a The Herbarius

Website: http://www.theherbarius.com.au

Email: theherbalist@theherbarius.com.au

Sales: sales@theherbarius.com.au