“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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Little Miss Anise, yes the dainty lass and did you see her lacy parasol, just beautiful?

Little Miss Anise, “where are you going with that pretty unbrella, to a wedding?”, they asked. “No, I am not,” she said, and thanked them kindly, “a smart girl is always ready for any occassion” as she continued strolling along with out missing a step. This wisdom must have been shared with many of her family, the Apiaceae Family, why, you ask, because so many of her siblings seem to have the same idea, such as Miss Fennel, the counrty girl Miss Cow Parsley, the classy Miss Chervil, Miss Dill, and her brothers, Mr Carrot and Mr Celery.

Anise or as some say Aniseed – Pimpinella anisum, appears to have originated from West Asia and has been cultivated and used in the Egypt since ancient times (used in breads) and middle eastern regions, plus the Greece, Syria and Turkey and was introduced to Europe from the Romans, who used it in a type of cake after meals, because it helps with digestion, (I hope they declared it at the border) and the Americas received it from the early settlers, and since these times it has spread around the world. Spain, France and Russia are major producers of anise these days.

Speaking of Russia, Anise was one of the first herbs ever to be accepted by Russian herbalists. During the 19th century a Landlord began cultivating it in the province of Voronez and since then it is largely grown in the Caucasus and the Ukraine. It is one of the most popular ingregdients in over-the-counter remedies.

King Edward the First, had anise used to pay the custom tax ‘luxuries’ for the repairing of London bridge during the 14th century.


Miss Anise being ready for every social occassion is why she along with many of her siblings, end up at the social and entertainment table, with sweets and candy, drinks and beverages, buns and breads and excellent dishes and can be mixed with cumin and fennel.

This is due to her wonderful ‘liquorice-like’ flavour and aromaaassss.

Miss Anise is a great compliment to many a refreshing and healthy drink, for example: she can be mixed with coffee, chocolate and carob beverages, and makes great liquorice-flavoured tea combinations with such herbs as dandelion, and ginger. She is great in baked sweet pies containing mince fruit, plus various pastries, cakes, buns and breads – raised or flat such as, Pan Chuta – a Peruvian flat bread, muffins and biscuits/cookies, and due to its lollie-like flavour, can be used in after dinner dessert drinks. Plus soups, sauces, creams, and relishes.

Some other uses apart from medicinal, are potpourris, insecticides, antibacterial and fungicide, and aromatherapy. Some of these uses are in the essential oil form, and pure essential oils should not be ingested. An infused anise oil can be made from the seed too.

Anise can be confused with other members of her family and fennel is the main one due to being such alike, ‘look-a-like fraternal twins’, and so many others looking very similar.

Another herb and cooking favourite is “Star anise” this girl is a real foodie and looks nothing like Miss Anise, yet people will mix them up, due to having a similar flavour and their common names.

One character that you should never ever mix Star anise or Chinese star anise Illicium verum with is Japanese Star anise Illiicum anisatum or I. japonicum, as nice and kind as the Japanese people are, this plant is highly toxic and must be avoided.


How to use Anise

Herbal Teas

To make a simple Anise herbal tea, just throw in 1 teaspsoon of anise seed into a cup or mug. Pour in boiling hot water and cover for 5 to 10 minutes, after the steeping time, if needed you can add your favourite sweetner such as raw honey, stevia, erythritol, and enjoy. Yes it really is that simple.

My Anise Tea that I decided to make whilst writing this very Blog

If you want to Jazz it up a bit, you can mix anise seed with many other herbs to add more therapeutic affects or frankly just to add flavour, an example of this is dandelion root.

Here you would add 1 teaspoon of anise seed and 1 teaspoon of dandelion root, pour in the boiling hot water, cover and allow to steep for 5 to 10 minutes, add your sweetener and enjoy. If you want extra ‘potency’, break or crush the seed a little with a mortar and pestle. And if you have issues such as seeds wanting to float in you cup of herbal tea then you can either strain out the seeds or use an infuser.

Culinary Uses

The leaves and soft stems of anise can be added to salads and mixed with vegetables when being cooked as they too are aromatic, or finely chopped and cooked into baked goods and pastries. Frankly the seeds and oils suitable for cooking can be used anywhere you want to add the anise/liquorice flavour.

Simple Anise Leaf Wafers

Ingredients

  • 1/2 teaspoons of crushed anise
  • 1 teaspoon of chopped anise leaves
  • 60 grams of butter
  • 1 cup of flour
  • Boiling water

Process

  • Place the chopped leaves into 2 tablespoons of boiling hot water and cover
  • Allow to steep for 10 minutes and chill
  • Rub the butter into the cup of flour, until looking like breadcrumbs
  • Add the wet ingredients
  • Make into a dough
  • Roll into balls and flatten out on a greased baking tray
  • Bake in a hot oven that has been ‘preheated’ for 10 – 12 minutes
  • Or until the edges are slightly browning
  • Cool and enjoy

Soaps

Due to its aromatic freshness and anti-microbial actions, anise can be used in soaps, creams and ointments and lotions. For example a ointment can be rubbed on the chest to help relieve chest discomfort from a cough, or a syrup can be made to ease chest congestion as well.

For Potpourri

The leaf and stem may be of good use as well as cracked seed or powder, depending on what you waht to do, as they all are aromatic.

Anise for Bad Breath

Simply chew on a few seeds , before meeting your loved one, EASY! And cheaper than those sugar or chemical filled breath poisoners, oops, I mean fresheners.

Anise for Lactation

Traditionally anise has been used to improve breastfeeding for mothers, so it can often be found in nurse maid teas. With breastfeeding, it is best to have a selection of several different herbs working in a few different ways:

Oxytocics

These are herbs that help the mother directly to produce milk: some herbs are fenugreek, goat’s rue and blessed thistle.

Digestives

These support the mother’s digestive system, calming and assiting her body to digest and obtain nutrients and to help baby too, some of these are: Fennel, anise, caraway, hops, and milk thistle

Nutritives

These herbs help simply to obtain nutrients, and improving the mothers health and well being, that’s why it’s called ‘Nutrition’, along with reasonable vitamins and minerals helps her baby as well via the breast milk.

Nervines

These primarily are to calm and relax her, the more happy she is and content the more her natural hormone oxytocin goes up and this should improve her milk supply. ‘A frazzled mum don’t milk to well’. These herbs are lemon balm hops and oats, plus if you wish you can add some rose, lavender or chamomile.

Once the milk supply is confirmed by a qualified lactatition consultant then there really is no more need to continue the herbs and this may take a few weeks. If you wish to continue taking these herbs in a tea, I would advise just lowering the amount per day.

Please understand that there are many issues in regards to poor breastfeeding, so it is best not to self treat, and find a caring, supportive, qualified lactation consultant, who takes the time to explain things, answer your questions and care about you.

Anise Oils

Anise Essential oil can be applied in the use of aromatherapy, and can also be used topically to help assist against skin infections, because it has anti-microbial actions, and is toxic to insects, therefore it can help to remove scabies, fleas or lice (nits) in the hair by placing and combing a little evenly throughout the hair and can be used to inhibit growth of fungus. Don’t use pure essential oils on babies and infants only and use inconjunction with a carrrier oil, for example olive oil, to dilute the concentration.

Infused Anise oil (not an essential oil)

Ingredients

  • Anise seeds (dried and approximately a handful)
  • A carrier oil – Almond oil or coconut or olive oil or similar

Equipment

  • Mortar and Pestle
  • Loosely woven cloth or cheese cloth
  • Glass container
  • Sticky label and pen

Process

  • Break up and bruise the Anise seeds, but don’t powderised
  • Place into a glass jar or bottle
  • Pour in the carrier oil, enough to thourougly cover the seeds
  • Seal on the lid and placed in the sunlight
  • Leave in the sunlight for at least 4 weeks, or a minimum of 2 weeks
  • Shake up the bottle once a day
  • After 4 weeks strain into another glass container through the cloth
  • Place the lid back on, and label with contents and date

You can speed up this process by following the same process as mentioned how to make Lavender oil in the lavender post.


Gardening uses

Anise is supposed to make a great companion plant to coriander, as it is said that coriander helps to speed anise’s germination and growth, and they assist the seed formation of each other. Anise attracts predatory wasps and helps to repel aphids. But its not a good idea to grow it with basil, rue and carrots.

How to grow Anise

Anise is an annual that grows to approximately between 45cm to 90cm or 18″ to 3′ that becomes a natural source of phosphorus and aids digestion. It should be noted that anise can be slow to germinate, depending on conditions, but I believe that it should be only 2 weeks. Sow after the last frost, when in colder climates, and when placing it out in the garden, give it a warm and sunny position, out of the wind, with well drained soil around 6.0 pH, and the best seasons to plant in are spring and summer. When young, it does prefer regular watering especially if it’s getting a dry, once established it can handle some dryness.

Plant the seed 6mm to 12mm 1/4″ to 1/2″ into seedling containers or into garden seed drills and cover over gently and water in and keep the soil slightly moist. If planting into seed drills, plant about one every 2.5 cm or 1 “. Water regularly 2 times a week until they are about 18cm high, then reduce watering.

A simple ready to sow packet of Anise seeds in my hands

If planting from seedlings from the nursery, be gentle with them as they are soft and fragile.

Maintenance

Pests and diseases

Some possible pests are: larvae from the Lepidoptera species, that is, butterflies and moths, for example, the lime-speck pug and the wormwood pug


Collecting

During late summer and into autumn collect from your garden or from the wild if it grows near you, (always carefully identify all herbs from the wild), once the first ‘Umbels’ appear, this is the beautiful array of tiny flowers that spread out like an umbrella.

Technically, an Umbel is the ‘infloresence’ from which the flower stalks arise from one point.

Drying

You can dry the seeds by tying them up together in small bunches upside down inside paper bags in an open space with plenty of fresh air to stay dry, for example, a well ventilated room or covered area

Once the seed is dry, you can store them in a cool, dry and dark place and will keep sealed in a glass container for up to 3 years, but if you grind it to powder, it will shorten its potency life, but the flavour should still be there.


Herbalism

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

PARTS USED:

Seeds, but can use leaves and soft stems in cooking etc

DOSAGE:

Daily minimum to maximum dosage: 3.5 – 7.0 grams

MAIN ACTIONS:

Expectorant, oestrogen modulating, galactagogue, spasmolytic, carminative, and antimicrobial

INDICATIONS:

Intestinal colic, flatulence, flatulent colic, infantile colic, dyspepsia, acute and chronic bronchitis, bronchial asthma, tracheitis, gastrointestinal candidiasis, parasites, modify bowel flora, and hot flashes. Plus, Difficult lactation and pertussis, spasmodic cough, bronchial catarrh, scabies and pediculosis

CONSTITUENTS:

Essential oils, fixed oil, flavonoids, phenylpropenyl esters

SAFETY CONCERNS:

Gastro-oesophageal reflux disorder (GORD), do not consume in large doses, and do not use during pregnancy without professional advice.

ADULTERANTS:

Not very common



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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Introducing Miss Dandelion

Now that we have established that Miss Lavender and Miss Rosemary are sisters to Lamiaceae family, we look back to realise that Miss Chamomile had another true sister, who is well known around the world, but I am so upset to say that she is just not fairly treated, and some would say that she is the black sheep of the family, and just a ‘weeeed’, and that is just not true. Miss Dandelion is a real gal, no wimp and very adaptable to wherever she is found, therefore I’ll stand by her anytime because she has so much more to offer than we think.

Miss Dandelion, which grows to 15cm to 25cm (6″ – 10″) and is native to the regions of Europe and Asia, but due to the travels of man, she has spread along with him, and although she is sadly perceived as a ‘weed’ (nasty people), she is truly a gift. Oh by the way, we must not forget that she has versions in Russia – Taraxacum kok-saghyz Rodin, which grow to 30cm – 12″, which was harvested during WW2 for latex and a Chinese dandelion – Taraxacum mongolicum, which grows to 25cm – 30cm (10″ – 12″).

The Russians called Miss Dandelion, the “elixer of life” and was considered to be a “life infusion”. It was greatly used by the Russian aristocracy and was the favourite remedy of Russia’s most famous Herbalist and Russian Orthodox priest, – Panteleimon the Healer.

The Dandelion is sometimes called ‘Lion’s tooth’, and where did this name come from? When the French saw this plant they looked at the leaves and noted that the leaves look a lot like a set of lion’s teeth, therefore they called it ‘dent de lion, meaning lion’s tooth. Mr Culpeper notes the other rather frank and vulgar French term given to it as, ‘Piss-a-beds’, and although somewhat coarse, this term comes from it being an excellent diuretic. Mr John Gerard noted that her flower was “double, & thicke set together, of colour yellow, and sweet in smell … but bitterer in taste than Succorie.”

Dandelion, which comes by many other names such as Puff Ball, Royal Herb, Old man’s clock, wetweed, swinsnout, wild endive and Prince in Paupers Clothing, and many more, has the botanical name of Taraxacum officinale, which can be found either as T. officinale folia, which is dandelion leaf or T. officinale radix, which is dandelion root, two parts of the same plant that have many benefits. The flower is sometimes used but much less. There is a ‘Red-seeded’ dandelion – T. erythrospermum.

The Weed File – Detective work

She has a copy cat, who is called by the name of Cat’s ears, Hypochoeris glabra and H. radicata and another couple of imposter’s called Hawkbit, Leontodon saxatilis, and Hawksbeard, Crepis capillaris and to be fair, they are not really fakes because they are what they are, its just that they look very similar, but don’t have the same gifts. Who knows what true benefits they may have, and no-one has discovered them.

Dandelion

She has flower stems that do not branch with a single large flower up to 3.5cm – 5cm or 1 3/8″ – 2″ diameter flower. These stems as well as the leaf stalks are ‘hollow’ that once they are cut, produce milky sap and her leaves are ‘hairless’ with a point at the tip and the lobes are backward pointing – runcinate. This ‘hollowness’ is not found in the others, so this is important.

Cat’s ear

This girl has sparingly branched flower stems, that only have one flower each. Her leaves are ‘hairy’ in a ‘bristlely’ way and due to the ends of the leaves looking somewhat like cat’s ears, that is where she got her name of course.

Hawkbit

She has unbranched flower stems like Miss Dandelion with a single flower, but her stems are solid and not hollow. Her leaves are hairy and there is a ‘forking’ in the hairs making a ‘T-shape at the tip.

Hawksbeard

She has very branched flower stems that have lots of leaves on them, that produce many smaller sized flowers. She is the only one who is a ‘annual’ as the others are perennials.

A few things to note: If you are getting any of these plants growing in your garden, yard or paddock, it means that the soil is becoming compacted, so aeration and loosening up of the soil will ‘naturally reduce’ them, therefore there is no need to use chemicals and saves money. Also, it is said that ‘True Dandelion’ is healthy for horses, but the others are not and are said to cause ‘string holt’.

How to use Dandelion

Dandelion has many uses, but not quite like her sister Miss Chamomile, as principally its the chamomile flower that is used, and it is lovely don’t you think, but with Miss Dandelion we can use the whole plant, specifically the leaves and the roots. Apart from the medicinal uses of Dandelion, it has many culinary uses – for example, salads, vinegars, syrup, in soups (leaves) or on soups (petals), mustards, in and on breads, muffins, pizza and fritters and various herbal teas, gardening, in shampoos and even for dying.

Herbal teas

Dandelion tea comes generally in two forms, either from the leaf or the roots, both can be delicious and have therapeutic affects. Usually the roots are roasted but the leaves can be fresh, dried or fermented.

Dandelion ‘leaf’ tea

This can be made out of fresh, dried or fermented dandelion leaf

  • Put 2-3 teaspoons of dried leaves or 5 – 6 freshly chopped leaves per cup,
  • Pour in boiling hot water
  • Steep for 5 – 15 minutes (Longer is stronger)
  • Add a sweetener if desire such as raw honey, stevia or erythritol
  • Enjoy

Dandelion and Liquorice Root tea

1) Infusion

  • Put in 1-2 teaspoons of dandelion root tea per cup
  • Add 1-2 teaspoons of liquorice root per cup
  • Pour in boiling hot water
  • Steep for 5 – 15 minutes (Longer is stronger)
  • You can strain out the dandelion and liquorice root or leave it in there
  • Add a sweetener if desired, such as raw honey, stevia or erythritol
  • Enjoy

2) Decoction

  • Put 2-3 teaspoons per cup into a saucepan
  • Add 1-2 teaspoon of liquorice root per cup
  • Pour in the water – 250mls per cup
  • Bring to boil and simmer for 15 minutes (Longer is stronger)
  • You can strain out the dandelion root or leave it in there
  • Add a sweetener if desire such as raw honey, stevia or erythritol
  • Enjoy

How to make Roasted Dandelion Root Tea

If you are trying to make your own dandelion root tea, so you can have a caffeine free beverage, it is best to use roots from the third year, but they can be used younger, if you can’t wait, say, about a year or two.

  • Simply dig them out
  • Wash them clean
  • Chop the roots up into small bits, 6mm / 1/4″
  • Dry them out for 4 – 14 days (until hard and brittle)
  • Place them into a tray suitable for roasting
  • Spread them out evenly over the tray
  • Slowly roast them in an oven at 94C / 200F until brown similar to coffee
  • Seal in an air-tight jar with a label
  • Grind the roots as you need them

Bacon and Dandelion salad

Ingredients

  • 250 grams of fresh young dandelion leaves
  • 110g of diced bacon or bacon bits
  • Packet of croutons
  • 5 tablespoons of your preferred vinaigrette
  • 2 teaspoons of finely chopped garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Optionally, you can add finely chopped parsley, or red onion, and cottage cheese, or use lemon juice instead of vinaigrette

How to make

  • Wash and lightly chop up the leaves and throw them into a bowl
  • Fry up the bacon, garlic and croutons in ghee or similar until lightly browned
  • Place the fried bacon, garlic and croutons into the bowl with the leaves
  • Toss until mixed
  • Pour the vinaigrette over the contents
  • And toss again and serve fresh

Also, have you tried dandelion flowers dipped in batter and fried?

And what about juicing the leaves in a vegetable juice, instead of kale or spinach?

Dying Colours with Dandelion

The leaves of the dandelion can be used for dying a pink/magenta colour and the roots are supposed to dye a yellow brown colour.

Gardening

Whilst most are fiendishly out to poison her, and therefore, poisoning themselves and their animals, she really has gardening uses such as feeding yourself and the family nutritiously, and therefore one of the best places to keep her is in a deep pot, because she is such a strong minded girl and likes to travel, and she can get a bit determined when set free.

The Easiest

The simplest gardening tactic is just to throw some seed into a ‘tall’ container of potting mix with some water and let her grow and enjoy her flowers. Also, keeping her in a pot means she can be kept close to the kitchen door or on the balcony, for example, for easy collecting.

Gardening for Pets

If you can legally keep rabbits where you are, so please check with your local authorities as you can get into a lot of trouble; you can grow dandelions to grow your own food for them. Plus, this can be fed to Guinea pigs (oh so cute) and gerbils, really anything that likes leafy greens.

Fertiliser – a natural source copper

  • Dig out 3 large dandelion plants, roots, flowers, leaves and all
  • Roughly chop them up and put them into a bucket
  • Just cover over enough with boiling hot water, approximately one litre
  • Cover the bucket and allow to steep for 1/2 an hour
  • Strain and when cool use immediately, as it doesn’t keep

Dandelion leaves can be used as a compost activator to.

They normally don’t make good flower arrangments, but if you try, put them into water straight away. Or you could just pick a couple and hand them to your girlfriend or put them behind her ear and dazzle her with all your knowledge about this flower.

How to grow Dandelion

If you are growing for salad greens it is better to refresh your plant each year to prevent the leaves from getting bitter, plus, to encourage more nutrition and faster and bigger leaves, constantly cut off the flower stems, as this directs the energy into the leaves instead of the flowers. Also, the French dandelion, a cultivar, has the biggest leaves, if you are very keen to eat lots of leafy greens.

From seed

  • Due to dandelion having such a long tap root, plant the seed in tall pots such as those used for tree seedlings, don’t use flat seedling trays.
  • Dandelion likes reasonably nitrogen-rich soils
  • Dandelions can grow just about anywhere, except for in snow and ice, and maybe the ocean?, but they do come to life after a snowy winter. (I have seen thousands of them coming up just after winter near Moscow, just wonderful)
  • Just simply prepare your tall container
  • Sprinkle some seeds over the top
  • Rub them in
  • Water them in
  • And wait

From root

Dandelion can be progagated from the root, so unless you have a severely damaged root, you should be able to replant from a piece of the root system, this is similar to growing comfrey.

Maintenance

Dandelion is typically not affected by pests and diseases, but if there is nothing much else around for the bugs to eat, it can get severely attacked.

Collecting

There are three different possible stages to collect from the dandelion, if you are harvesting the ‘whole plant’ collect it before it flowers. If you are after the leaves for salads or juicing for example, then pick the leaves when it is flowering and three, the best time to collect the roots is late autumn when you see the above ground part of the plant dying down.

Drying

When drying for storage, make sure that they have been thoroughly washed and cleaned and properly dried out 4 – 14 days, that is, becoming brittle, if you are going to store the roots. Depending on you climate, this may take from a few days to two weeks. If you have fat roots, then cut them up into thinner pieces, as this guarantees more even drying. If dried thoroughly they should last a year or two. Throw out if you see mould. If you wish to make a coffee substitute, then follow the instructions mentioned above for making Roasted Dandelion Root Tea.


Herbalism.

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

Parts used:

Leaves, roots and flowers

Dosage:

Leaf: Minimum to maximum of dried leaf is 12.0 – 30.0g per day

Root: Minimum to maximum of dried leaf is 9.0 – 15.0g per day

Main actions:

Bitter tonic, choleretic, mild laxative, anti-rheumatic (root), cholagogue, and mild diuretic

Indications:

Leaf: Oedema, hypertension, digestive liver insufficiency, dyspepsia, constipation, gallstones, cholecystitis, plus, Gout, and hot flashes

Root: Digestive liver insufficiency, dyspepsia, flatulent colic, anorexia, constipation, gallstones, cholecystitis, gall bladder dysfunction, plus, Rheumatism, chronic skin disorders, and hot flashes

Constituents:

Leaf: Sesquiterpene lactones, carotenoids, triterpenes, coumarins. potassium (4%) silicon

Root: Sesquiterpene lactones, carotenoids, triterpenes, taraxacoside,  phenolic acids, inulin, potassium (2%)

Safety Concerns:

No major problems found from normal use, if taking therapeutically, use under a qualified heath care professional if you have gallstones or inflammation of the gallbladder.

Adulterants:

The leaf is rarely adulterated , sometimes with Leontodon autumnalis and the root has been adulterated with Cichorium intybus



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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