I am writing this during the spread of the ‘Corona virus – Corvid 19’ in Australia, and observing the hysteria and panic buying, reminds me of why I started learning about herbs and self-sufficiency in the first place, what will you do when these things happen?

Any form of natural disaster, or break down in the system can possibly cause massive shortages in supplies of food, water and energies.

But worst of all, what about medical supplies:

How will you survive without your medications!?

Now the purpose of this is certainly not to cause undue worry and serious concern, but to encourage us into some preparedness. The purpose is to get us all to start thinking, hmmm, it would be a good idea to start moving in this direction.

Anyway, let’s chat about our main subject today.

Purslane is an annual herb, that is a native to Australia, (nobody really knows its exact origin, some say from Greece to China), as it has been around for such a long time now, but is found in temperate regions all around the world.

Its botanical name comes from the Latin potare, which means to “carry,” and lac or “milk,” the milky like sap of the plant, which may be why so many believe it helps with lactation.

Purslane or as it is sometimes ungraciously called, ‘Pigweed” has been used as a food for thousands of years, as it was eaten by the Indians and Persians (Iran) in the Middle East, and it was used as a green to go into salads in the Mediterranean, and was probably carried into Europe through Spain due to the Saracens in the Middle Ages.

During the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1st, it was first recorded to have been planted in England in 1582, and it was used as a common garden vegetable.

It was even used as a treatment for scurvy on the high seas, due to its very high Vitamin C content.

The Australian aborigines use to make a flour out of the seeds, which have the highest known source of omega-3 fatty acids* from a plant. (*Alpha linolenic acid).

They collected the seed simply by heaping the plants up side down on a smooth flat surface and allowing the seed to fall out, and found it easy to gather up.

The Australian aborigines really had an excellent, healthy and very nutritious diet, and this can be easily proven by observing the very old photos of fit and active men and women, with full sets of teeth and practically no disease to be found anywhere. We could and should learn a lot from these people.

The African Zulu used a variety called Portulaca quadrifida as an emetic.

It grows as a thick matting on the ground, but can grow up to 20cm / 8″ tall, as the branches and flowers try to reach upward towards the sun. Its leaves are generally light to dark green with green to reddish stems. Common Purslane has 2 to 3cm / 1″ long leaves, which form in clusters at the stem nodes with small yellow flowers. The seeds appear after the flowers drop off, and are black in colour and are the size of fine sand.

There are varieties that produce a whole range of bright colours and these don’t seem to be as invasive as the common Purslane, so can be used in gardens.

The Weed File

There are two other types of Purslane worth considering, and they are Golden Purslane – Portulaca oleracea var. (Sativa) and the Jade Plant – Portulacaria afra, sometimes called Elephant Food or Spekboom.

Golden Purslane is an upright (45cm / 18″) annual that has obovate fleshy yellow to lime coloured green leaves that are about 4cm / 1.5″ long. On the whole it is bigger the common Purslane in both leaf and plant size.

Jade plant is a hardy perennial, which grows much taller than both other varieties, up to 60 to 150cm / 2′ to 5′ tall. It is great for pots and other containers, as well as rock and dry gardens.

It is happy in either full sun or partial shade, and it also has succulent obovate leaves that are 1cm / 3/8″ long with red to brown stems.

My very own Jade plant, sitting in a marine/boat/macerating toilet

Also there is a Yellow Purslane – Portulaca lutea var. Soland, which can be found in New Zealand.


How To Use Purslane

There are two main ways to use Purslane, and they are cooking and as a medicinal herb. Sadly, many people just don’t know either, all they can do is complain about some ‘weed’ in their garden or lawn and spray it with something which would harm them more then help them.

In a era of anything made with Kale, has to be good, we completely over look good ole Purslane. But all you need to do is go out and pick a handful of bright green leaves and cast them into your salad bowl with other greens etc., and voila, there you have an interesting green salad, full of nutrition.

Medicinally, it is extremely high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are very necessary for good health and especially heart and nerve health, which we all need to be aware of. Topically, it can be used on insect bites and burns, plus, sore, irritable, and inflamed skin, such as eczema for example.

Those with gout shouldn’t not eat it raw, due to its oxalic acid, but used as a poultice externally has benefits.

Herbal Teas

Purslane tea itself was once drunk as a tonic for the whole body.

Simple Purslane Tea

Being easy and simple to make, plus the benefits of its nutrition, why not have a try at making Purslane tea.

To make Purslane tea, just grab a small amount of the leaves and stems, (younger leaves are better) place them into a cup, pour in boiling hot water, allow it to steep for about 15 minutes, and drink.

You can add a little sweetener such as raw honey, or stevia if needed.

Customised Purslane Teas

Some say it has a lemony or acidic flavour, which could mean adding lemon or lime juice or herbally you could try lemon balm, or lemon grass, which could make things interesting. But don’t let yourself stop there, why not add Chamomile or Peppermint with a bit of Ginger.

So why not develop your own personal favourite?

Culinary Uses of Purslane

When picking Purslane for cooking, it is best to pick all the young and tender leaves as these are nicer than the older ones, and the best time for picking is before the flowers come on. Some actually use the flowers in salads and meals too.

So if you want to experiment with Purslane, just think of where and how you could use a green vegetable, like spinach? And most likely you have an answer, for example, any type of salad, stir-frys, coleslaw, steamed veggies, juice drinks and smoothies, soups e.g. sorrel soup, stews and broths, casseroles, dumplings, any egg dishes, and omelettes, pancakes, fritters, and you can even pickle it with apple cider vinegar.

A few more specific uses could be steaming the young shoots and serving them up in a buttery sauce with a little salt and pepper, mixing the leaves in a sandwich with cream cheese or an egg and Purslane sandwich.

Purslane is one of the traditional ingredients of the French soup called Bonne femme, and in the Middle Eastern salad called Fattoush.

Before I got married, I use to work on a farm growing various fruits and vegetables and the farmer described one day how he use to eat Pigweed soup, when growing up as a child, and I was quite surprised, as at that stage I only of thought Purslane as a ‘weed’.

Yes, Pigs love Pigweed too!

PigWeed Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 heaped cup of Purslane, chopped
  • 1 large potato finely chopped
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 6 cups of stock, usually chicken
  • Salt and pepper for taste
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup of cream (optional)

Method

  • Place all ingredients into a suitable saucepan except for the milk and cream
  • Place it in low simmering water for five minutes
  • Take off the heat and use a stick blender (or similar) to blend until smooth with no lumps
  • Just before serving, reheat and now you can add the milk and cream
  • Serve and enjoy

Health Uses of Purslane

There are two minerals that men and women generally need and that is zinc for men and iron for women, and Purslane is quite high in iron assisting them in this nutritional requirement.

It is also high in other minerals such as, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and lithium, and Vitamins such as, A – via its betacarotene, Bs such as folate, C and E, and being so rich in so many goodies makes it a wonderful tonic for the whole body. And I have found that most of humanity is deficient in magnesium.

As mentioned above it is high in Vitamin C, so if you cannot get a hold of Vitamin C, then eat plenty of Purslane.

Traditional Chinese Medicine

Purslane or Ma Chi Xian – 馬齒莧 or what Chinese practitioners would call the “vegetable for long life.” and what an amazing title for what most people want to kill.

From the TCM view point, it is classified as sour and cold in treatment and is used for the organ meridians of liver, heart and large intestine.

Its actions include: Clearing heat, cools the blood, plus, clearing damp heat of skin disorders, and they use it for swelling and pain of insect and snake bites, amongst many other indications.

Purslane Health Recipes

Poultice for Inflamed Breasts

This is made by mixing an oil such as a little coconut oil, a raw egg and Purslane. Place all the ingredients into a blender, and blend until you have a thick paste, and apply thickly and cold to reduce inflammation. This poultice can be left on for several hours or overnight.

Inflammation of the Urethra

Make a decoction by bringing to a boil and then simmering low for a few minutes, 60 grams of Purslane, 6 grams of Liquorice root and a cup water. Allow to cool slightly, strain and drink.

It can be turned into a mouth wash and gargled for any infections in the mouth. For coughs and shortness of breath, crush out the juice and mix it with a little honey, and gargle.

Those with reflux can eat Purslane to assist with alleviating stomach acid issues.

Gardening Uses of Purslane

Because Purslane is frankly one of the easiest things to grow, it is a great plant for those who want a pretty garden with colour and greenery, but just don’t want to put in the effort, like no effort. There is quite a range of varieties that produce many different bright colours, sizes and shapes. Plus, it doesn’t just flower for a short period and then disappear, but stays around for quite some time, providing lots of colour.

This simplicity makes it great for rock gardens, and for example, just stick it into those gaps and holes in between the rocks or logs if you want and let it grow with splashes of colour coming out for you to enjoy.

It also makes a excellent ground cover, thickly growing up and over whatever is near, but not over very large objects, which is another reason to grow it as a ground cover or in rockeries to fill in gaps.

Other Uses of Purslane

Grazing stock just love the stuff, and if you have any in the paddock they will find it and it will be gone, so encouraging it to grow out in the meadows for animals to eat is a good thing, as it is quite nutritious for them.


How to Grow Purslane

Purslane is just so simply to grow, and probably the best plan to grow it is to neglect it, and you’ll find that you can love it to death. But if you must, a little organic composting or fertilising (nitrogen) will give you thicker and more succulent leaves.

From Seed

The black seeds of Purslane are quite small and can lay dormant for up to seven years or more, so even if it dies down, and disappears, it may just as easily pop up next year. Each plant can produce thousands more of its own kind.

The best season to plant Purslane is in early spring, or once there are no more frosts, but if you are in tropical regions then you would be best to plant in Autumn.

Simply spread out the seed into a seed container filled with equal parts of sand and potting mix, and lightly water in. In a short while you should have germination, and just transplant these into pots, to get established and harden up a bit, then plant them into your garden etc. They should be ready to harvest in about 6 to 8 weeks.

From Leaves

You can propagate Purslane directly from the leaves, like most succulents, but it can be a bit of a ‘hit and miss’ affair. Just carefully break off whole leaves from the variety you want, and place these onto the soil/seed raising mix and just keep the soil slightly damp. Eventually, it will put down roots and grow.

From Cuttings

From about the middle of spring, take your cuttings of about 5cm / 2″ long, remove any bottom leaves, and place these into a sandy potting mix, keeping the mix slightly damp and warmish. Keep the container out of direct sunlight, and once growing roots, you can transplant these out into your pots or garden.

From Layering

Purslane as it spreads out and touches the ground will put down roots all on its own, and from these, you are able to propagate more plants, just follow what you would do if you were normally transplanting, and water in.

Maintenance

Purslane, is one of the most easiest plants to grow, in fact, if you just leave it alone, it will just keep coming back, this is why so many people consider it, dare I say, a ‘weed’. So neglect is the order of the day, as it grows in both sun and partial shade, in any soil type, and you can forget fertilising it and can often have no water given to it for ages.

Probably the only thing to be concerned about is the fact that it can spread quite easily, I guess this is why most people consider it a weed, as it can be propagated by both seed and its leaves, so if you bump it and some of the leaves fall off, most likely the plant will regrow.

So, I have not bothered with adding my usual extras on pests and diseases, soil and fertilisers etc., and apart from the occasional slug, as it just doesn’t matter.

If you really want to keep it under control due to its ability to spread, then just eat it, don’t poison it.


Collecting

When collecting it fresh, it is best to wait at least until the plant is about 10cm / 4″ wide, that way you can get enough for at least a salad or meal and it helps you not to strip the plant too much, then it should quickly recover supplying you with even more free food.

If you are harvesting for a future meal soon, then you can leave it with its whole stems, and keep them fresh in the fridge for a few days.

Always make sure that you only collect clean and healthy leaves and stems, free from damage, grubs and insects and their eggs and any other foreign matter and dust.

Drying

To dry Purslane you can do this in either an oven or a dehydrator keeping it at about 46C / 115F, but it is just as simple to dry it in the open air, say, on dry paper towelling or cloth towelling or on a tray of fine mesh. Just keep the leaves and stems apart so that they don’t come in contact with each other or you’ll need to move them around regularly to help them dry evenly and prevent mould.

Place your Purslane in a dry and airy room away from bugs and dust etc. They usually only take 2 to 3 days to dry, depending on your weather conditions. They will need to be dry, crispy and crunchy to touch and should have kept the basic shape, colour and flavour.

Once fully dried, it can be turned into a powder and put into a huge range of meals, teas and drinks, and although you don’t have to, it is better to turn it into powder just before using it as this holds in the goodness in slowing down oxidation.

Storage

Properly dried and stored Purslane can keep for 1 to 2 years. Always store your dried herbs in dark coloured glass jars or bottles, out of the sunlight and in a dark, cool dry place.

Fresh Purslane does not store well, due to its high water content, so you should use it fairly quickly, or you can store it in the fridge for a few days in the crisper.


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:

Wild Purslane, Pig weed, Common Purslane, Pussley, Horse Coin, Horse Money, Green Purslane, Kitchen or Garden Purslane, Yellow Portulaca

Botanical Name:

Portulaca oleracea, P, sativa

Family:

Portulacaceae

Chinese Name:

Ma Chi Xian – 馬齒莧

Parts used:

Leaf, stems, juice (The entire plant is edible)

Dosage:

Daily minimum to maximum dosage: 6.0 – 12.0 grams

Main actions:

Refrigerant, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antibiotic, tonic, alterative, mild antispasmodic, diuretic, emollient, mucilage, and emmenagogue

Indications:

Headaches – nervous excitability, sore throat, sore gums, gingivitis, mouth wash, urethra pain, dry cough, muscular rheumatism, jaundice, gout – poultice, skin ulcers and sores. Plus, Dysentery, post partum bleeding, anti tumour, parasites, and promotes contraction of uterus

Constituents:

Extremely rich in n-3 fatty acids, Vitamin C, carotenoids, alkaloids, sitosterol, volatile oils, resin, galacturonic acid, tannins, lupeol, glycoside, sterols, oxalic, citric, malic and glutamic acids, dopamine, B – Amyrin, noradrenaline, sacchariferoid, and protein

Safety concerns:

Do not use during pregnancy. Those with rheumatism and gout should avoid raw Purslane.

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 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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“Our misunderstanding about ‘weeds’ is that we haven’t come to use them correctly, then they will cease to remain weeds”

Herbal Panda

Some of my own Purple Cone Flower

Wow, Miss Echinacea, that seems like funny name, up to four syllables I counted” questioned the little girl, whilst staring at her beautiful pink gown. “Well, my inquisitive little girl, I may have a funny name, but if people knew what I can do, they would be dancing in the streets” answered Miss Echinacea, “Really! So can I dance with you” squealed the girl, “Yes, lets dance” offered Miss Echinacea.

So where did Echinacea get its name, it comes from the Greek word, “Echinos” meaning hedgehog, referring to the centre of the flower, which becomes harder and dryer as the flower moves to maturing seed.

All Echinacea species are native to the North American prairies and woods, but these days it is just about grown anywhere with very little care.

I find the original discovery of the benefits of Echinacea very fascinating, let me tell you about it. Originally written by J.H. Henley MD.

“Many years ago American Indians observed that by tantalising the rattlesnake it would in its wrath bite itself. The creature was seen to become immediately restless and sought to retreat. On following the snake it was observed that it went straight to a certain shrub and there became a veritable ‘sucker’. When it finished sucking the plant it would seek a hole in which to hide, but not to die. It would recover. This led to the discovery of plant, Echinacea. It was from the medicine-men of the Mohawk and Cherokee Indians we obtained our first knowledge of this remarkable herbal remedy.”

From here the First Nation peoples used it for a range of ailments such as:

Infections, toothaches, many skin issues, sore throats, wounds and snake bite.

The Weed File

There are three main varieties of Echinacea that need to be considered, when using herbal remedies, and the two most common ones are Echinacea angustifolia and Echinacea purpurea. They are very similar in appearance, but with a few differences:

Main Herbal varieties:

Echinacea angustifolia:

  • Grows to about 60 to 100cm / 2 to 3′ tall
  • Leaves have a smooth margin but are hairy and rough and lanceolate in shape

Echinacea purpurea:

  • Grows to about 1.5m / 5′ tall
  • Leaves are more ovate and wider with course margins

Both have the same looking flowers, which range from pink to purple, found on terminal stems.

Then there is the Pale purple coneflower.

Echinacea pallida:

  • Grows to about 60 to 100cm / 2 to 3′ tall
  • Flowers are generally more pale – pallida, have very thin and reflexed rays (drooping)
  • Leaves are also course and hairy, lanceolate and have no teeth

Of course, there are many other lesser known varieties with red, orange, yellow and white flowers, and here are a few.

  • Yellow coneflower – Echinacea paradoxa
  • Sanguine purple coneflower – Echinacea sanguinea
  • Topeka purple coneflower – Echinacea atrorubens
  • Narrow-leaved purple coneflower – Echinacea serotina
  • Tennessee coneflower – Echinacea tennesseensis
  • Wavyleaf purple coneflower – Echinacea simulata
  • smooth purple coneflower – Echinacea laevigata

How To Use Echinacea

The principle way of using Echinacea, is medicinally, and this is easy to prove just by typing the word into the search bar, and rightly so, because it really is a gift to mankind. But it can easily be added to cosmetics and various personal body care and hygiene products.

When one considers all the many and powerful benefits of Echinacea, you see the value of adding this to toothpastes, soaps, hand cleaners, shampoos, facial and shaving creams, make-up, lipstick, lip gloss and lip balms, body washes, moisturisers, and sunscreens.

Therefore, with a bit of experimentation, anyone can make their own medicating body care products and cosmetics.

So apart from the direct medicinal use in tinctures, syrups, lozenges, liniments and powders, the most popular use is making your own herbal tea.

Herbal Teas

This is one of the most easiest and simplest way to get Echinacea into you.

Sometimes when you drink Echinacea tea you will get a real tingling sensation in your mouth, this is only for a little while and is of no concern, in fact, it is actually a sign of good quality herb, but just be aware, some folks are allergic to the Asteraceae family.

Simple Echinacea Tea

The simplest for the home user, is to pick a couple fresh leaves and flower petals about 1 to 2 teaspoons worth, finely chop them up, put them into a cup, pour in boiling hot water, cover, and allow to steep for 5 minutes.

If necessary, add a little natural sweetener, as it can be a sort of bittersweet.

To jazz things up a bit or for the adventurous, you can add a little lemon juice or even apple cider vinegar, as this adds to the extraction process making to more efficacious.

If you make a tea from the dried root, you will need to simmer it for at least 5 to 10 minutes (longer is stronger) then add your sweetener.

Even though you can use the whole plant and all of it has health benefits, its the root which is the most powerful.

Customised Echinacea Teas

Many other herbs can be added to make it more interesting and flavoursome, but if you want to really add more power to your herbal tea, then adding some Golden seal will work amazingly, but with this one, I would sip it throughout the day, don’t just drink it in one go, it’ll have more affect.

It is rare, but sometimes people can have a nauseous feeling, and if you do, try adding some liquorice root with it as it seems to keep things calm.

Culinary Uses of Echinacea

Now this will probably be a short list of ideas, because really, the idea of using Echinacea in cooking isn’t very high on anybodies list.

Because you can buy Echinacea in powder form, you can make super healthy foods by adding this special ingredient. So, you could add the powder to pancakes, pikelets and fritters, blended into smoothies and juice drinks, sprinkled on the oatmeal or breakfast cereal. Also, for those who are a little more adventurous, you add it to your home made pasta or vegetable dishes. With the flower petals, add them to jams or jellies for interest, plus they could be used as decorations, floating on drinks and desserts. And finally you can juice the leaves and add that to juice shots.

Please let me know if you have heard of any culinary dishes using Echinacea in some way, as I would love to here from you.

Health Uses of Echinacea

When it comes to Echinacea, there isn’t much it can’t help you with, such that if you’re sick, just take echinacea, and at least something good should happen. No, its not a complete panacea, but I will tell you what, it is one of my back stops for many issues, as it will help in ways you may not have thought of.

The main reason for Echinacea’s great success, is that it is both immune stimulating and modulating, and this knowledge of it resisting infection has been known for over a hundred years by the west. So if you think about it, many problems we face in life come from bad diet, and bad ‘bugs’. And when it comes to especially bad bugs, Echinacea, can help with viruses, bacteria, fungi and even parasites.

So, if you keep thinking about it, how many conditions could involve these baddies.

In the world of herbs, quite often, slightly different varieties do contain different amounts of different constituents, therefore, taking just one variety may not actually be the best solution, unless you know that that variety is specific for that condition. Where it’s easy to come unstuck, is that most books just don’t tell you which variety is best for what, So an easy method to deal with this is simply to take a ‘blend’, that is, mixing together both E. angustifolia and E. purpurea. So, if you purchase some capsules for example, and you read that it has at least these two varieties, then you are generally safe.

A very simple tip on how to use Echinacea, is to slowly suck on or chew a small piece of the root (1 to 2grams) as it can have as much efficacy on your system as many of the fancy tinctures. (Remember the rattle snake story above?)

Indications for Echinacea

For a general list of suggestions for using Echinacea:

  • All infections: bacterial, viral and parasitic (topical and internal)
  • Skin disorders: wounds, boils, abscess and acne
  • Respiratory conditions: colds, flu, fever, pertussis, sinusitis, bronchial, tonsillitis
  • Gastrointestinal: diarrhoea, dysentery, IBS, ulcers, gingivitis, candidiasis
  • Urinary: cystitis, urethritis
  • Immune deficiency and post viral
  • Inflammation and also in the connective tissue
  • STD’s/STI’s
  • Reducing the effects of Chemotherapy

Areas of caution

One of its benefits is that it stimulates or boosts your immune system, and this is normally a very good thing, but, there are a few people who should completely avoid this herb, and these are especially those who are going to or have recently had an organ transplant. I would definitely speak to your health care professional if you have ever had a transplant, before taking this herb.

Also, if you do have a serious disorder such as, AIDS, HIV, MS, leukosis, auto-immune and collagenosis, for example, please speak to you health care professional, before taking Echinacea.

Oil of Echinacea

Although not as famous as many of the essential oils, Echinacea essential oil has basically the same benefits of the herb itself. Essential oils should always be applied topically and with a carrier oil, say Jojoba or coconut oils for example.

Gardening Uses of Echinacea

Echinacea is actually a very easy plant to grow. It is a plant suitable for borders or filling in small holes that can do with a splash of colour.

Some folks just don’t want a flowing green lawn but actually want more of a meadow, which actually can save water, fuel and time, so Echinacea can provide an interesting addition to your ‘field’.

It attracts butterflies, bees and other pollinators and some birds for either the nectar or the seed, and this is generally a good thing as a natural form a pest control.

Echinacea does have a fragrant flower that unless you have lots of them will not dominate the garden, and it flowers for about 3 months, depending on your climate.

Other Uses of Echinacea

The flowers are quite long lasting and therefore, can be used as cut and dried flowers to pop into your favourite vase.


How to Grow Echinacea

Echinacea is a herbaceous perennial that dies down in winter, but will spring back up in spring. I encourage every and anyone to grow their own, as people and especially companies find it of tremendous value that it may become endangered.

Echinacea is a very low maintenance plant, that is easy to grow, perfect for those who do not wish to be too busy in the garden, and it is good for those who do not have much water, or frankly forget to water, as it is suitable for drought or hot conditions, tolerates humidity and can grow in poor clay, dry, shallow or rocky soils.

Echinacea is also an excellent plant for putting into pots, and putting on your balcony, and if it’s cold, wet and damp, just bring it inside, as they don’t like being cold, wet and damp.

Echinacea does re-bloom, but does not drop its dead flowers, but with a quick snip of the secateurs will soon fix that.

From Seed

Echinacea does self seed, so once established in the garden, or even in a pot it will come back year after year. Or, you can collect the seeds and plant these in pots or spread them throughout the garden or meadow.

Although germination can be rather slow, it is definitely worth a try. Cold Stratifying the seed is highly advisable. So place the seed into moist sand and for about 3 to 4 weeks keep them at 0C / 32F, then take them out and wait for them to germinate. Once they start coming up and have at least four leaves, gently transplant them into bigger pots, and when ready, transplant them into much larger pots, at least 20cm / 8″ or into the garden.

Remember don’t over water them as they don’t like it.

From Division

Echinacea naturally forms clumps, and from these, you can create divisions and propagate from them. The biggest issue with division is that most varieties have tap roots, except E. purpurea, and most plants with tap roots just don’t do so well once it is damaged. So care needs to be taken.

So, if you do wish to propagate via division, every 4 years, and in spring, divide the clump as they do become overcrowded, this is especially so in pots, and it isn’t a bad idea in the garden as well.

Maintenance

Actually, Echinacea is a very low maintenance plant, easy for those lazy gardeners, who forget to water and fertilise, and don’t care for sprays and poisons, so if that’s you, here is your plant.

The only pruning that may want to do, but its not really necessary, is to remove the dead heads, as they don’t look real nice, but from these it does self seed. So if you want, you can either chop up the dead heads and leave them on the ground or collect the seeds and keep them for next year or just let them be.

Pest and Diseases

It is rarely affected by pests and diseases so don’t get too concerned, but, I have complied a list of possible baddies: Japanese beetle, vine weevils, leaf miners, slugs and snails, plus, powdery mildew, leaf spot, bacterial spots, grey mould, and a virus-like disease called ‘aster yellow’.

Soil and Fertiliser

Due to the tough hardiness of the plant, frankly you don’t need to fertilise much at all, but if you do, just give it a little organic fertiliser at the beginning of its growing season, as it seems to do better with neglect than good-loving.

Climate and water

Echinacea will just about grow in any climate, except for extremes such as wet and damp, and in most situations this is easily fixed by carefully placing the potted plant indoors or suitably designed structures.

Regular watering is fine, but don’t be excessive, and at times you can let it dry out some, remember it does naturally grow out in the prairies and woodlands, and we should copy its original habitat.


Collecting

The time of the year to pick the flowers and leaves is just as the flowers are starting to bloom, and before they are fully formed, or harvest the roots during full bloom.

Collect the seed after the flowers have died back, and then fully dry them out by cutting up the seed heads into smaller parts.

When harvesting the arial parts, always wait until the dew has dried off, checking for any damage, insects and their eggs and any foreign matter.

The roots are best collected from at least 4 year old plants, as this is when they are most medicinal.

Drying

To dry the leaves and the flower petals, spread them out on dry paper or dry towelling keeping the parts from touching each other, or at least keep turning them over keeping them well ventilated.

They should retain their colours and fragrances, but just be dry and brittle.

Storage

Store all dried components in dark coloured glass jars or bottles that seal air tight and kept out of sunlight. If there is no foreign matter, bugs etc., and everything is thoroughly dry, it should keep up to 1 to 2 years.


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:

Cone flower, Black Sampson, Rudbeckia, E. purpurea (Purple cone flower), Missouri coneflower 

Botanical Name:

Echinacea angustifolia, E. purpurea, E. pallida

Family:

Asteraceae

Parts used:

Root or aerial parts or whole plant

Dosage:

Daily minimum to maximum dosage: 2.5 – 5.0 grams

Main actions:

Immune enhancing, immune modulating, antioxidant, prophylactic, depurative/alterative, lymphatic, anti-inflammatory, blood cleanser, detoxicant, vulnerary, sialogogue, antiseptic, deodorant, tonic, antibiotic, analgesic, antifungal, antibacterial, antiscrofulus, parasiticide/anthelmintic, vasodilator, diaphoretic, antiallergenic

Indications:

Acute infections: viral, bacterial, parasitic (all acute doses, chronic infections, swollen lymph glands, splenic enlargement, infection prevention, slows immunological ageing, upper an lower respiratory conditions: common cold, influenza, conjunctivitis, sinusitis, nasopharyngeal catarrh, infections otitis media, pneumonia, pleurisy, bronchiectasis, acute bronchitis, bronchial asthma, pertussis, skin conditions: boils/ furunculosis, abscesses, ulcers and varicose ulcers, dermatitis, psoriasis, cellulitis, herpes, shingles, Gastrointestinal conditions: infection candidiasis, peptic ulcer dysentery, cholecystitis, infectious hepatitis, UTI’s: cystitis, urethritis, kidney infections, dental caries – prevention, pharyngitis, tonsillitis, mouth ulcers – liquid better, Systemic infections: glandular fever, Ross River virus, mastitis, measles, mumps, and insect stings.

Plus, Autoimmune disease (caution), adjunct to cancer therapy – chemotherapy, radiotherapy, chronic lymphocytic leukaemia, lymphoma, promotes healing, venomous bites, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, and post-viral syndromes

Constituents:

Flavonoids, alkaloids, essential oil, polysaccharides, inulin, Inuloid, alkylamides – isobutylamide – echinacein, phenolic acid derivatives – cichoric acid; echinocoside. Check for levels of alkylamide content, phyto-oestrogen, phytosterols, betaine, resin, vulose, sucrose, fatty acids, 

Safety concerns:

Much of the concerns brought up about Echinacea really don’t have any bases, but taking a few precautions, should greatly protect your well being.

  • Some people may be allergic to it, think ragweed or sunflowers
  • Immunosuppressive drugs and organ transplants

Adulterants:

Sometimes they are adulterated with another variety of the same species, or adulterated with Parthenium integrifolium.



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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A Herbal Glycerite is easier to make than most extractions and therefore can be done at home by anyone. You just need to follow one main rule, keep your glycerine content always about 60% or more.

So if you are considering purchasing some glycerine, there are actually quite a few other possible uses from your purchase other than herbal glycerite.

But what is a Herbal Glycerite?

Herbs are great, and as you would have guessed by now, I have a very high opinion of them, but at times, you don’t have instant access to them, that is, difficulty with storage, accessibility, time of harvest or season, and transport, for example. So often you need to make an extract out of the herb, and store it for a period of time for use later on, and also to increase the concentration of the herbs constituents for more efficacy.

Early in man’s history he used water, vinegar and wines to store and transport these herbal qualities, and later on, he used stronger alcohols and also he discovered glycerine.

Glycerine was found to be a reasonably good solvent and a preservative as well, this makes it a suitable menstruum for herbs.

Glycerine comes from fats and oils, which are basically the same thing, sort of, and can come from both animal and plant sources and both will work. A Swedish chemist by the name of Karl. W Scheele, first discovered this in 1779, and called it the “sweet principle of fat”. It was named Glycerin, from the Greek – glykys meaning sweet, in 1811 by a French guy, called Michel Chevreul.

A man by the name of T. E. Groves originally introduced Glycerine to the herbal scene in 1867, and it was a few years after that it began to be widely used for both herbal/medical and personal and cosmetic uses. And this really is just so natural, because glycerine is a natural by-product of making soap.

Being a Humectant, which is a substance the encourages the holding of moisture, they do this by attracting water molecules to itself. This is why it is often used in skin moisturises. But it is used in a huge range of products such as, toothpastes, shampoos, moisturisers, deodorants, and makeup.

Culinarily, it can be used to blend oil and water, sweeten and moisten foods, and prevent crystals from forming frozen foods. Plus, candles and a range of other medications.

I do believe that there is a place for herbal glycerites, but some push them for reasons that are not well established, such as, that being from a ‘fresh herb’ it has more vitality or energy, but this has not being well proven. Plus, there is a ‘concern’ with the appearance that often during the process of macerating, the naturally occurring enzymes in the plant are still functioning, and therefore actually breaking down the extracted juices before preservation.

During the late 1800’s a Guy by the name of Alfred Nobel discovered the ‘peacefulness’ of nitroglycerine and then demand for glycerine “Exploded!” This does not mean that using a Herbal Glycerite will cause your kids to blowup when they irritated you.

In the 1940’s they did develop a synthetic version of glycerine from propylene, which is a byproduct of petroleum.

It is also a by-product of biodiesel manufacture, I know, I have made biodiesel too.

Reasons why to make a Herbal Glycerite

Glycerine is a viscous and syrupy like liquid, that is both colourless and odourless with a sweet taste. It’s abilities to extract are in between water and alcohol. It isn’t the best menstruum for extraction processes, but it does have a few other advantages, one is the taste factor, meaning, that it is quite sweet, and therefore, gets around the child who won’t accept the “its good for you” argument.

Another is the problem with the alcohol, that is, some cannot take any amount or form of alcohol due to alcoholic sensitivities, possible allergic reactions, serious liver disorders and religious reasons. For example, if someone from the Islamic Community came to me and wanted a herbal remedy, but would not receive any tincture made from ethanol. This way, I can give help without offence, and also follow a major rule for alternative practitioners, “First do no Harm”.

If you want to remove the ‘alcohol’ from the alcoholic tincture, but aren’t so bothered by the fact that it was originally made from alcohol or the taste, you can remove it. This is done by a placing the specific dosage into a cup of water that has just recently been boiled. Allow this to stand for about five minutes, as this will cause the alcohol content to evaporate.

Although not the best menstruum for herbs in general, glycerine does work fine with a few herbs, which have the ‘water-soluble’ constituents you require, for example Marshmallow root.

A glycerite preparation can be designed to be used both internally and externally, and this increases their use and scope greatly.

Glycerites can be added to alcohol extracts to ameliorate its taste, and to add actives, and glycerine works well tannins.

Once you have made your glycerite, you can use them in recipes and formulas that can be part of creams, lotions, gels, cleansers and exfoliants. And glycerites do have an added ability to possess the aromas of the herbs being extracted. So this gives them a special natural advantage in making topical applications both medicinally and aroma-therapeutically.

Also, glycerites are great for using alternative medicine on animals, especially due to its taste internally or even topically.

Similar to a Succi, you can use it to preserve expressed herbal juices instead of alcohol, but it won’t have the shelf life of the grain alcohol, and you will need to keep the ratio at least 1:3, that is one part juice to 3 parts glycerine.

How to do a Herbal Glycerite

Glycerine is often readily available from chemists, supermarkets, sometimes hardware and even some farming suppliers, plus there are heaps of online suppliers too, so obtaining glycerine shouldn’t be a problem.

Always choose a organic, GMO free version, and ethically sourced to your preferences.

An important point when making glycerites is to try to be meticulously clean and hygienic, glycerine is not such a killer of bacteria as alcohol. So make sure your herbs are clean of any bugs, or other foreign matter, dust and soil, and manure etc.

Basic Herbal Glycerite

Glycerine and Water combination

  • Finely chop, grind 50g herbs and place in a suitable jar
  • Add 500ml glycerin
  • Add 340ml pure water
  • Give it a good shake to combine the glycerine and water and to cover all of the herbs
  • Replace the lid tightly and shake it every day for 2 weeks minimum, longer is better
  • Strain or filter out the herbs (this may be slow)
  • You can use a tincture press with cheese cloths or similar (faster)
  • If you are using powder, you will need fine filtering

Glycerine only

  1. Collect your herbs after the moisture has dried off
  2. Check for and remove any dirt, dust or foreign matter, such as insects and their eggs
  3. Finely chop or grind up the herbs being processed
  4. Fill a suitable jar to about 1/2 to 2/3 of jar with the herbs
  5. Completely cover the herbs and fill with 100% glycerine
  6. Make sure you glycerine is approximately at least two times the herb
  7. Put the lid on the jar and label the contents and shake the jar
  8. Allow to macerate for two to four weeks, shaking it daily (4 to 6 weeks is better)
  9. After 2 weeks, press it out using 2 or 3 layers of cheesecloth and tincture press
  10. You may need to go finer if you were using a powder
  11. Pour into a clean sterilised glass jar and label and date
  12. You can immediately use it, if needed

Dosage would be about 2/3 of a teaspoon, 3 times daily, can be taken in a little water.

On the whole, your herbal glycerite will have a shelf life if stored well, of about 1 to 2 years, and make sure you store out of the sunlight and in a cool dry place.

Choice of Herbs for a Herbal Glycerite

Two things that make a herb, a ‘better’ choice of herbs, is that they work best with fresh herbs, and the more water soluble the constituents are the better the choice of herb. That being said, you can honestly use either dry or fresh, or just about any herb, they just get a little more complicated. But start with an easy herb first.

A minor point here in Australia, but more important in colder countries, is to pick your fresh herbs in the spring and summer, to get the most ‘juiciest’ herbal parts, even picking shortly after rain can add to the water content. If they are very watery, then be careful, as too much water content can cause problems, particularly with preservation, and you may need to alter the formula.

By no means a complete list, but here are some herbs you could try:

German chamomile, Burdock, Calendula, Echinacea spp., Fennel, Ginger, Peppermint, Hawthorn berry, Mugwort, Elderberry flowers, Cleavers, Lavender, Bee balm, Lemon balm, Oregon grape root, Skullcap, Mullein leaves, Golden seal, Nettle, Oats, Plantain, Rose petals, Chaste tree, Turmeric, Valerian, and Yarrow.

Variations of a Herbal Glycerite

Apart from the possible variations of a huge range of herbal choices, and using them internally and externally, plus for cosmetic and culinary uses, you can also add essential oils to them. This is due to glycerine’s ability to solubilise them into the mix. Don’t use essential oils internally, only externally.

Although I have not tried it myself, you can actually make glycerites out of ordinary foods, such as fruits and vegetables, but you’ll need to pick fresh and high in water soluble constituents.

Safety

  • Always be aware of a allergic reaction to any new herb you try
  • If adding essential oils only use that glycerite ‘externally’
  • Some people do react against glycerine itself although it is generally considered safe.


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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“Sadly pain is long remembered, but a sweet is soon forgotten, plus, it rots your teeth”

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The “Poultice” has been around for a very long time, exactly how long, I’m not sure, but it does have documentation that goes a fair way back, at least in ancient history, anyway.

One of the earliest written mentions I can find at this stage, is that there are two mentions of what could be called a poultice, (but it is not a poultice), is in the Bible. These two mentions are in 2 Kings 20:7 and Isaiah 38:21, both of these are speaking about the same event where a King called Hezekiah, had such a serious ‘boil’, that it threatened his very life. In the Bible it says: “For Isaiah had said, Let them take a lump of figs, and lay it for a plaister upon the boil, and he shall recover.” KJV.

Just a quick note, ‘plaister’ is the older version of the word – ‘plaster’, so I will use the modern usage here.

Difference between a Plaster and a Poultice

A plaster is usually made from freshly ground herbs, that are stimulating, such as, cinnamon, cayenne and mustard, mixed with a binding agent, such as, flour and water, using the herbs own volatile oils or adding essential oils, then spread onto a cloth and placed directly over the affected region. Yes, I know, that does sound like a poultice, but no.

A poultice is a lot more bulkier, which is made up of a herbal mash and/or powder, bound up in a ‘protective cloth’ or combined with a thick base material that is mucilaginous, that is ‘protective’, such as, marshmallow, slippery elm or mullein, and/or a ‘filling’ oil, (similar to a carrier oil in effect) and then it is placed onto the body. A principle difference here, is that a poultice uses stronger and more irritable herbs and may burn and uses a system to protect against the burning or irritation.

Therefore, a poultice is thicker, uses more stronger, healing and/or vulnerary herbs, and herbs that are mostly of a ‘cooling nature’, and a plaster uses more stimulating herbs with the effect of volatile oils, that are of a ‘warming nature’ and soothe irritation.


I do believe that the use of poultices has been around for thousands of years in Traditional Chinese Medicine for boils, infections of the skin and other infections, such as, abscesses plus burns. And also, they can be used for both external and internal conditions. (No, you don’t eat the poultice.)

Nicholas Culpeper also mentions poultices in his book “Culpeper’s Complete Herbal and English Physician”, which if you look closely, he is stating what is a poultice more accurately, ” Poultices are those kind of things which, the Latins call Cataplasmata, and our learned fellows, that if they can read English, that’s all, call them Cataplasms … They are made of herbs and roots, fitted for the disease and members afflicted, being chopped small, and boiled in water almost to a jelly; then, adding a little barley meal or meal of lupins, and a little oil, or rough sweet suet, which I hold to be better, spread upon a cloth, and applied to the grieved place.”

It is also interesting to note that he also goes on to state, “use no poultices, (if you can help it) that are of an healing nature, before you have cleansed the body,”.


Why you should use a poultice?

The poultice is specifically used to help draw or pull out, and this applies to infections, wounds and cysts, or to stimulate, to increase circulation to help encourage elimination, such as an old injury that hasn’t gone down. Or to cool and soothe, such as, a recent injury that is inflamed, either way, it should be promoting healing.

Poultices are great for all sorts of conditions, which are not very serious, and you can treat yourself at home. They can be used for muscle pain, oedema, bruise and sprains, osteoarthritis, rheumatism, boils and abscesses, wounds, fevers, mucus congestion of the chest, coughs, pneumonia, bronchitis and inflammation.

If you are using them for a serious condition, always use a health care professional.

If you are strongly idealistic as I am towards things natural, using where possible, organic or at least ‘more’ natural products, you honestly don’t know what is in some of those blends sold in chemists or supplied in hospitals.

Although modern medicine has many amazing things, which can be used in times of injury, and frankly, I’m glad that they are there at times, I personally prefer to use natural methods, that have been tried and found true.

And Honestly, there is something marvellous about tending to yourself and being self-sufficient. And I’ll ask you a simple question, what if disaster strikes and the world’s economy collapses or there’s another world war and medications are restricted? And then you or a loved one has an injury, what do you do?

But I will say this, that if you do have suspect that you do have a serious injury, please don’t hesitate to go to the hospital and have things checked out, as sometimes the damage is more serious than you think.

How to make a Poultice?

One the important things to remember as Mr culpeper said, fitted for the disease and members afflicted, meaning that with each and every condition, the major ‘hack’ is to choose the right herb or herbs for the job. Plus, different fillers and oils etc., can also make quite a difference towards healing and its speed.

Another thing to think about when choosing to use a poultice, or a plaster for that matter, do you need to make a hot or cold poultice, and what do I mean about that? You see, sometimes a situation will require a hot poultice, for example, does the condition benefit for increasing circulation, or would it be better to reduce inflammation, but alas, sometimes it appears to need both at the same time, but one will be better than the other.

You will need to make enough to cover more than double the size of the area of concern. So you will need to adjust your formula to suit. Further below, I have supplied a few recipes for basic poultices and one plaster.

Choice of herbs for a Poultice

So what herbs would you choose for “that” condition? I have listed just some of the many herbs, fillers and oils that can be use in both plasters or poultices. Yes, you can use them individually or in combination.

Herbs

  • Comfrey: fractures and ulcers
  • Linseed/flaxseed: infections of the chest, bronchitis and chronic cough, also, splinters, oedema, infection, pain and poisons
  • Bran: synovitis, sciatica and neuritis
  • Hops: boils, muscle pains, rheumatic panis, sciatica and neuralgia
  • Chamomile: muscle pains and neuralgia
  • Potato: sprains and bruises (used fresh and cold)
  • Slippery elm: ulcers
  • Onion: infection, inflammation, bronchitis, pneumonia, asthma, and congestion
  • Mustard: aches, sprains spasms – cold areas that need circulation, colds and flu
  • Black walnut: inflammation
  • Catnip: hives, sore breasts from breastfeeding and oedema
  • Chickweed: burns, boils, skin rashes and diaper rash
  • Chicory root: inflammation
  • Lobelia: inflammation, rheumatism and boils
  • Marshmallow: draws poisons
  • Ribwort or Plantain: draws poisons, infection and other foreign material
  • Poke root: boils, abscesses, caked breasts, and difficult urination (place over bladder region)
  • Wintergreen: inflammation, wounds, rashes, oedema, and toothache
  • Witch hazel: sores and wounds, sore eyes, bed sores, and exudative skin diseases

Fillers

Fillers are not just for filling sake, but assist in the drawing process, and keeping in the heat.

  • Barley meal
  • Whole wheat flour
  • Cornflour
  • Hayflower: this keeps it heat five times longer than a hot water bottle

Liquids

  • Water
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Mineral water

Oils

  • Vegetable oils
  • Castor oil
  • Olive oil
  • Suet
  • Lard

Combination Poultices

Generally poultices can be made with equal quantities of each herb, when unsure.

  • Boils and abscesses: Slippery elm and Marshmallow (to draw pus)
  • Lobelia and Slippery elm: oedema, wounds and ulceration
  • Chickweed and Slippery elm: inflammation
  • Blood poisoning and gangrene: Marshmallow and cayenne

Variations and additions

  • If you suspect an infection you can add a few drops of myrrh tincture.
  • To assist with pain, you can add arnica, but not on open wounds (I would rub arnica on after you have removed the poultice.)
  • Cinnamon, ginger and cayenne, can be added for extra stimulation, but give extra protection to the skin
  • Acacia can help with soothing and relaxing

Recipes

Advice before starting

Adding cling or glad wrap helps to hold in the moisture as once the poultice is dry, you need to replace it. More serious infections, wounds or ulcers, you need to have the poultice replace regularly, say 15 to 20 minutes, for “very serious”, even less, and keep changing through the night, but if it is not concerning, then you can leave it on for one to four hours, remember once its dry, its useless. Otherwise, put it on just before bedtime, and leave it on over night.

Linseed Poultice

  • Place 40 grams of linseed seeds in a blender or spice grinder and grind to powder
  • Place the powder into a bowl
  • Add 120ml of cold water and mix until it forms a paste (Usually a 1:3 mix.)
  • Spread the paste over the area to twice its size
  • Wrap cling wrap over the whole region
  • Wrap a bandage or similar to hold everything in place

Onion Poultice

  • Slice and dice 3 whole onions
  • Sauté until slightly soft
  • Place in a loosely woven cloth
  • Place over the region affected
  • Wrap in cling wrap
  • Wrap over with a towel
  • Place a heating pad or hot water bottle over the towel

Comfrey Poultice

  • Place 100 grams of comfrey root powder into a bowl
  • Carefully add hot water until the powder becomes a firm paste
  • Apply very thickly up to 2.5cm / 1″ to the area and further
  • Cover with cling wrap
  • And wrap a cloth or towel to hold in place

Mustard Plaster

  • Place 4 tablespoons of whole wheat flour into a suitable bowl
  • Add in 1 tablespoon of mustard powder
  • Slowly add water until it becomes a thick paste
  • Apply paste to area concerned
  • Wrap with cling wrap
  • Tie a cloth over the area to hold things in place

Added points

  • If the paste is somewhat irritating: add egg white instead of water
  • After removing the poultice, powder with some flour and wrap in dry cotton

Safety

Do not use comfrey on deep wounds or cuts as this speeds up the healing faster than the cleaning deeper in, possibly causing it to seal in infection.

Do not apply pure mustard powder or mustard oil directly to the skin.

If you are really desperate to make a poultice, for example, you are in the middle of ‘nowhere’ and cannot get medical help, almost any broad green leaf or herb will do, unless you’re allergic to it, the leaf is spiny, hairy, poisonous or very acrid.

If you suspect that you may have a serious injury or condition, please see your health care professional and seek medical advice. For example: one time I thought that my daughter had a bad bump falling off some playground equipment, so I rubbed some comfrey etc., on it, but she was still quite upset and wouldn’t settle down. So I thought, this seems more serious than a bad bump, so off to the hospital, and it even took them quite some time and several x-ray attempts to find the small green stick fracture.



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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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

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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

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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

“I must hippity-hop and I must not stop” said Mister Rabbit. So, Hippity hop, off went Mister Rabbit, hippity hop, hippity hop, but all of a sudden, Mister Rabbit felt very tired, Yawn and yawn again, in fact, he began to feel very sleepy, “think I have a little lie down, surely a little sleep won’t hurt” said Mister Rabbit. So he curled up under some tall green vines with florally fruity smelling flowers, and he slept the whole day away.

Hops or its botanical name Humulus lupulus, is so well known for its ‘Beer’ production, that some may think that this is what this post will be all about. There really isn’t any need for me to put forward any details and recipes of this process as many have thoroughly covered this subject in many ways and it would be rather superfluous for me to harp on about these subjects and there are those who know much more about this process than I.

Therefore, I am intending to keep with the herbal theme as this side of Hops isn’t as well documented. But where they are relating, or of interesting and just a ‘matter-of-fact’ details of things, that may cause some cross-over a bit, so yes some mentions of the history of beer will be made.

It is believed that the earliest details point this plant back to originating in ancient Eygpt, but others have suggested “northern temperate zones”, which I tend to believe. The ancient Greeks and Roman doctors used hops as a digestive aid and the ancient natrualist Pliny suggested it as a garden vegetable and during the first century was already being used in salads.

Ancient Traditonal Chinese practitioners also used it for leprosy, dysentry and tuberculosis.

As far as I can find, the first documentation of Hops detailing its cultivation is in the region of Hallertau or Holledau a region in Bavaria Germany in 736 AD. The next mention is in 768 AD, where Pepin the Short, who was the father of the famous Charlemagne, wrote in his will of leaving his hop garden to Cloister of Saint-Denis.

I find this small snippet and seemingly meaningless piece of information rather interesting, why, because why were they purposefully growing it in the first place? Salads maybe? Like seriously, practically nobody ever grew anything back in those days unless they ‘had to’ for example, for food and income, or they were rather rich and could afford to grow something that is more decorative or ornamental in nature. So what was Pepin the Short growing it for in the first place, you can’t tell me he liked the look of the vine and the smell of the flower!

Somewhere from then until the 13th century the use of hops in beer making must have been developed and made popular as the use of “Gruit” was starting to decline and no doubt the governments of the time taxing either the gruit or hops would have had an affect on the use of either ingredient, which would have affected what choices would be used due the cost of manufacturing. It is interesting to note that the Archbishop of Cologne, had a monopoly with rights to gruit.

So what is Gruit? Gruit was a mix of bitter herbs and flowers that was used to bitter or flavour the alcohol. Gruit was made of several different herbs, such as, dandelion, mugwort, horehound, wormwood, heather, marjoram, ground ivy, burdock, marigold and butcher’s broom, and I would not be surprised if a few other ‘secret’ ingredients weren’t added during those times. The interesting thing about this list of ingredients, is that they all have specific healthy benefits, and therefore the alcoholic drinks at the time would have acted similar to a tincture. Although the high alcohol consumption probably completely ‘discounted’ any real health benefits; you know, there is a difference between a teaspoon of tincture and a pint of beer.

John Gerard (1597) said of hops, “The buds or first sprouts which come forth in the spring are used to be eaten in sallads; yet are they, as Pliny saith, more toothsome than nourishment for they yeeld but very small nourishment.”

Nicholas Culpeper (1826), said of hops that “In cleansing the blood, they help to cure French disease, and all manner of scabs, itch and other breaking-out of the body … The decoction of the flowers and tops… expel poison that anyone hath drank.”

I’m frankly not sure what “French disease” is?

Hops has a male and female plant and it is the Female variety that is use medicinally and commercially. If you want to grow seed, you will need to have both growing together.

One of the principle differences between Beer and Ale, is that beer uses hops in its production and Ale uses malt without hops in its process.


Uses of Hops

A small square bowl of dried hops flowers for a cup of tea

Hops does have many other uses other than beer making, and also apart from the medicinal benefits, which are anti-anxiety, sedative, analgesic, antimicrobial, and diuretic for example, (but no good for depression) there are other practical uses that can be explored.

  • The stems of the vine were used in basket weaving, although I believe not as good as wicker
  • A reddish brown dye was made from the wax that formed on the vines tendrils
  • Also the leaf can help make a brown dye too
  • As a replacement for textile fibre, the fibres of the hop vine were collected and used
  • The un-used parts of the plant were used a fodder for livestock
  • It has been used in making floral arrangements, therefore has uses in potpourri
  • In making garlands and decorations for ceremonies at weddings or to wear bodily
  • When sugar beet is being processed, hops are used for an antibotic
  • Has been suggested as an antibotic used in ethanol production
  • As an antibacterial in the process of small goods, baker’s yeast and cornstarch
  • As a preservative during other fermenting processes (If you know of any others, other than beer, which everybody already knows, send me a line, I would love to hear from you.)

Herbal Teas

Hops can be used straight as a herbal tea that has lots of benefits, therefore making it worth the effort to drink it, you can also flavour it by adding chamomile, lemon balm or lemon verbena or to add more efficacy by adding other herbs such as passionflower or valerian to gain other actions or stronger sedativeness. If you are going to drive or operate dangerous equipment, I would not advise you to use hops or even in stronger mixes.

A Simple Herbal Tea

  • Add 1 teaspoon into a cup
  • Pour in boiling hot water
  • Cover and allow to steep for 10 to 15 minutes
  • Drink over the next hour or so

Culinary Uses of Hops

From a culinary point of view, the young shoots were added to salads as an interesting treat. They were basically steamed or lightly boiled and then they are eaten and used in recipes to that of asparagus. The male flowers can be used as well, here they are parboiled (partly cooked), then allowed to cool and then tossed into salads. The leaves of the hops can be used in soups and salads, but they will need to be blanched to help remove the bitterness.

Hops Sleep Pillow

To make a sleep pillow, either purchase a small breathable cloth bag, which you can close up in some way such as a zip or pull string, or you can make it yourself by obtaining two pieces a loose open weaved soft cloth about 10cm x 15cm / 4″ x 6″, and sew up three sides, then you can either sew in a pull string to close up the bag or you can sew it up entirely. When stuffing the bag, don’t pack it in tightly as you want it to allow air flow through the pillow and loose enough to be able to ‘fluff it up’ a bit. Here also you can mix in the herbs chamomile, lavender, rose, lemon balm, lemon verbena or any other herb that promotes relaxation.

Place the pillow next to your own pillow and allow yourself to breath its aromas.

Also make sure that the ingredients for the pillow are really quite dry, because if they are damp in any way it can become mouldy.

Antiseptic Wash

The very same recipe described in the herbal teas can actually be used as an antiseptic wash for wounds, cuts and abrasions, or can be used in making poultices. If unsure of its effectiveness, just double the hops.

Potpourri

There are several ingredients that can be used to colour potpourris and hops certainly can be one of them, due to either using its flowers or ‘cones’ or better called strobiles or from the shape, look and scent of the papery calyces.


Gardening Uses

As mentioned earlier, hops can be grown for its young shoots, which act some what like asparagus, therefore providing food, and you could also use the vines to make a simple means of tying up various plants in the garden or making a light weight type trellis. Just as you can use other plants that grow on a strong trellis, you can use hops as a screening to keep out nosey neighbours or winds or cool a wall from the sun. Or you can keep it in large pots and place them on porches or verandahs, to hide yucky areas or grow them over pergolas for shade.

For screening and ease of harvesting there is a “hedgerow” variety, which grows only up to 2.4m / 8″, literally called hedgerow developed by the Wye College.

If you live near a brewery ask for their spent hops, as it can make great mulch or compost material.

Companion Planting Hops

Here hops tends to have different uses when thinking companion planting for a few reasons. It is a decidious plant, therefore you can plant it with another plant or vine that tends to grow better during the colder months dying back exposing the other companion. Or you can grow hops with another variety called Golden Hops – Humulus lupulus ‘aureus’, which when intertwined can make a lovely display of colours.

It can grow on strong tall plants as each crop will draw nutrients differently, plus some plants like corn like having the base roots covered, and you can cut down both plants once they are spent.

A list of herbs to companion plant hops with are: marigolds, yarrow, chives, coriander and anise.

Growing Hops

Hops grow better in cooler temperate climates, but if need be, it can tolerate subtropical conditions if given some shade at times to rest from the heat. Tasmania, the southern most state in Australia commercially grows hops. It likes moist conditions or at least good access to water, with loamy yet well drain soils that have a pH of 6.5 to 8.0. They will need something to climb on, which will need be a strong trellis as mentioned earlier, but will climb wires and string etc. These will need to be strong due to the increasing weight and mass of the plant. Do not grow near electrical wires and cables as it may completely cover them and lead on to more serious issues around fittings, lights or switches, eaves, roofs and other structures.

Hops can grow up to 6m /20′ and can grow up to 30cm / 1′ per day in its peak growing season, so give it plenty of space. Also, if you are attempting to grow it in much colder climates you will need 4 months of no frosts.

From Seed

You can grow from seed when attempting to grow hops, but germination isn’t very reliable and can be slow to germinate, but cold scarification will encourage better results. The biggest issue with growing from seed is the fact that you do not know if it will be male or female. Now if you are for growing for shade or seed, then that dosen’t matter, but if you are growing for the flowers then you’ll need female plants only. So personally, I wouldn’t bother. But if you’re keen enough, just use a container with seed raising mix, and once sown, keep moist and keep in a warm area until they are up.

From Cuttings

Cuttings are one of the best methods to propagate hops.

  • Take your cuttings about late spring into summer
  • Prepare your ground or pots by making sure that they are well draining
  • It is best to use a sterile potting mix
  • Prepare your soil to about a pH of 6.5 to 8.0, neutral is fine
  • They do like good composting
  • Cuttings should be around 12.5cm to 15cm / 5″ to 6″ long
  • Poke a hole into the ground or mix
  • Push the cutting 3cm to 5cm / 1 1/4″ to 2″ deep with at least two nodes in the soil
  • Provide support for your cutting and keep the soil moist
  • If using pots, cover over with a plastic bag to prevent drying out when undercover
  • They should be ready in about two weeks

From Rhizomes

The rhizomes are found under the soil close to the original plant, and collect them late spring.

  • Dig out the rhizomes that are about 8cm / 3″ from the main crown
  • Cut them off at around 12.5cm to 15cm / 5″ to 6″ long
  • Use a clean sharp sterile knife or clippers
  • Prepare the ground or pots the same as with cuttings mentioned above
  • Place them 5cm / 2″ below the ground
  • Keep the ground moist, but not soaking
  • After about a week they should be shooting up and have roots
  • When they are 5cm / 2″ tall begin building suitable supports for training

Maintenance

A simple means to prevent disease in your hops plant is to keep the vine off the ground and well ventilated, meaning to keep it light and airy. Trim the lower branches to keep the lower end of the vine away from the ground and allow air flow underneath. When watering, using a drip supply to the ground is best, as it is easily affected by fungal diseases due to humid, damp and wet conditions.

Diseases

Some of its disease can be Hop mosaic virus and Sooty mold which are spread by aphids, then there is Fusarium canker, Verticillium wilt, Black root rot, powdery mildew, gray mould and crown rot


Collecting

One of the more important things to be careful of when collecting hops is not to lose the pollen from rough or poor handling. Harvest the female flowers early in the day but after all the dew or moisture has dried off. Harvest in autumn when they are turning an amber colour, but not brown and are firm to touch, and you should be seeing a yellow dust on them, not orange. The yellow dust is yellow lupulin, this has the resins and essential oils that have those sedating effects

Some people report that they develop a rash when picking the flowers that they call hop dermatitis, but so far no harm has been reported. If you do find that you do get a rash, just wear long gloves or any other protective clothing when picking.

If havesting the leaves gather them while they are young, but they will need to be blanched to remove any bitterness, and also the male flowers can be harvested any time, and then parboiled (partly cooked) and used in tossed salads as well.

Drying

Drying should also be done carefully and as soon as possible, it is suggested to dry them in an oven or similar at no higher than 60C / 140 F, checking them about every 20 minutes.

You can use a food dehydrator, but make sure that it doesn’t get too hot and has plenty of air flow. Or you can use a fine meshed screen with a fan and plenty of air flow around and under it. A warm dry location and if needed, a fan would help, plus, turn them over to encourage an even drying.

To test to see if they are properly dry, see if you can break it in half, if not, it isn’t ready yet. Also that yellow powder should easily fall out and the leaves of the cone should feel papery with a springiness to it.

Storage

Once throughly dry, carefully place the dried flowers into an air-tight sealed glass jar, and store in a cool darkplace, if using for flavour then use within three months, but medicinally it can be stored for about two years, but can become bitter. (Some medicinal values actually keep strengthening for up to two years.) If any mould forms throw it out.

They also can be stored in freezer bags and placed in the freezer, and try to remove as much air as possible.


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:

Hop bine, Hoppen, Wild Hops, Beer Hops

PARTS USED:

The female flower or ‘Strobile’

DOSAGE:

Daily minimum to maximum dosage: 1.5 – 4.0 grams

MAIN ACTIONS:

Anodyne, antitussve, antiviral – topically, bitter tonic, digestive, hypnotic, oestrogen modulating, sedative, spasmolytic, and a anaphrodisiac – male, 

INDICATIONS:

Sleep maintenance, sleep onset for insomnia, anxiety, excitability, restlessness, panic attacks, anorexia, nervous dyspepsia, neuralgia, tension headache, trigeminal neuralgia, excessive libido in men, Plus, Menopausal symptoms, irritable bowel syndrome, and excess androgen

CONSTITUENTS:

Phloroglucinol derivatives, – bitter resin – contains humulone, lupulone; essential oil, flavonoids, phenolic acids, and osetrogenic chalcone (xanthohumol)

SAFETY CONCERNS:

Oestrogen sensitive breast cancer, and depression

ADULTERANTS:

Contaminated with wild hops, which is less effective



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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