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

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

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

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

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

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 The use of fennel is mentioned in Greek mythology and also in their historical documents as having many different uses, but when we come to the 3rd century B.C. we find Hippocrates prescribing it for the stomach to calm it down and for colic in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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to use Fennel

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

Culinary uses

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

Fusilloni Pasta

Fennel butter

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

Ingredients

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

Method

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

Black Jellybeans

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

Fennel Teas

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

Fennel Tea from seed

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

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

Fennel Tea from leaf (For a teapot)

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

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

A Tea for nursing mother’s

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

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

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

Chai tea Potpourri

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

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

A different use of fennel

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

Fabric dying

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


More Health uses for Fennel

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

Fennel Eye bath

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

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

Fennel oil and Russia

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

Potpourri

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

Gardening Uses

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

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

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


How to grow Fennel

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

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

From Seed

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

From Cuttings?

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

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

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

From roots

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

Maintenance

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


Collecting

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

Drying

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

Storage

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


Herbalism

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

Common names:

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

Parts used:

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

Dosage:

Daily minimum to maximum dosage: 2.0 – 3.0 grams

Main actions:

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

Indications:

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

Constituents:

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

Safety concerns:

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

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

Adulterants:

None known



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

Kind Regards,

Russell a.k.a Herbal Panda

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

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Email: theherbalist@theherbarius.com.au

Sales: sales@theherbarius.com.au

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

“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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The ever fragrant Rosemary.
The photo is taken from another garden I personally manage.

If ever Miss Lavender had a sister, as Miss Chamomile is really like a cousin belonging to the Asteraceae Family, it would be Miss Rosemary, I mean, she is literally from the same family, the ‘Lamiaceae’ family, so how can we argue. But as every sister is, they have their differences and therefore different preferences for style, colour, shades and hues, and here Miss Rosemary typically has dainty blue to pale lilac flowers that attract those ‘busy bees’, both the honey and native bees who buzz their way around Miss Rosemary’s flowers. Yet, she is not so well known for her flowers as beautiful as they are, it is her leaves they want. We should mention that she does have other flower colours which must be noted, such as white, pink and a darker blue, and so lovely, and these come from her various cultivars. Her flowers as good as they are, just haven’t caught the Herbalist’s eye as much as her leaves, which have the real efficacy, and this girls no ‘bimbo’ just flashing her colours, she has something to say and do.

Rosemary’s dainty blue/pale lilac flowers with her dark green/light green near linear revolute leaves

Lavender and Rosemary have the same heritage in that they both have a Mediterranean culture, where lavender came from the rocky hillsides of the Mediterranean and rosemary came from the seaside of the Mediterranean. This is probably why the name “Rosemary” comes from the Latin – Ros marinus, meaning – ‘Dew of the sea’, and the flowers smattered around the leaves could look like dew/salt drops just hanging there; what is your thinking?

Said to be written in cuneiform thousands of years before Christ, and then the next mention comes from the ancient Egyptians who used it in their burials, and after that the next mentions of rosemary was from the ancient Greeks such as Pliny the Great and Pedanius Dioscorides and the Romans. She even made it over to China after about 200 years, then to Merry Old England ‘officially’ around the 1300’s, and then America around the 17th century and from there she spread globally.

How to use Rosemary

The herb rosemary has literally many uses other than just culinary uses, which are fine, because hey, it tastes and smells great, and why wouldn’t you. So lets look at a few of them, there are bodily uses, such as, perfumes, in cosmetics, toiletries, soaps, shampoos, hair rinses for a hair tonic and conditioners. In potpourris, and used either in the dried leaf, in oil form or as a water and sprayed. To promote sleep, place a handful of dried leaves into a cloth sachet and put it under the edge of a child’s pillow. Rosemary is an excellent Mood Tonic, and dried bunches can be tied up in the air to act as a fly deterant and as a sachet again, it can be place into closets as a moth deterant as well. And finally have you tried ‘Spice balls’ for some unforgettable and wonderful aromas.

Medicinally, it can be used in herbal teas, liniments and a chest rub, in a wine (this is similar to a tincture), used as an essential oil, as a douche, and a warm douche for the vagina, or you can add the prepared liquid (decoction) for a Rosemary bath, Ahhhhh, I’m melting.

I won’t supply any recipes for meat dishes as there is just so many out there that are wonderfully made and easy to follow. Well, don’t let me stop you, off you go, find something yummy, and then write back and tell me about it.

Rosemary Tea

So easy to make:

  • Place 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of dried rosemary leaves, or 2 to 3 teaspoons of chopped fresh leaves into a herbal tea infuser and place it in a cup
  • Pour in boiling hot water
  • Cover to keep the volitile oils in
  • Steep for 5 to 15 minutes (longer times will be more bitter)
  • Add a little sweetener such as raw honey or stevia or erythritol

Rosemary Honey

  • Place a handful of chopped fresh rosemary leaves into a glass jar
  • Gently warm up some raw honey to thorougly cover the rosemary leaves
  • Make sure the leaves are fully mixed in and covered
  • Seal with a lid and place in a warm spot for at least 1 to 2 weeks
  • Warm gently to help strain out the leaves, and rebottle and label
  • Use it on buttered toast or whatever you like, so long as it tastes great

Potpourri

Potpourri Uplifter ingredients:

  • 1 cup of dried rose petals, plus a few buds mixed in for good looks
  • 1/2 a cup of dried rosemary leaves
  • 1/2 a cup of dried orange slices
  • 1/2 a cup of dried lemon slices
  • 1/2 a cup of lavender flowers and some leaves
  • And a spritz or two of Bergamot oil

Mix carefully and spritz it a few times whilst mixing gently and enjoy.

Note: You can make these from fresh ingredients and then dry them in the oven at 93C or 200F for two hours or until fully dried out.

Rosemary Liniment:

  • Place 50grams of chopped rosemary leaves into a glass jar
  • Pour 500mls or 1 pint of alcohol such as vodka over the leaves
  • Seal the bottle and place in a cool place
  • Shake the bottle vigorously each day
  • After 1 week, strain and label the bottle with its name
  • As needed rub onto stiff muscles and sore joints

Rosemary chest-rub

  • Put 3 to 5 drops of Rosemary essential oil into 2 teaspoons of almond oil
  • Rub onto the chest for relief of respiriatory distress

Rosemary hair rinse

  • Place a handful of squashed or well chopped rosemary leaves into mug
  • Pour in boiling hot water, and cover
  • Allow to steep for 15 to 20 minutes
  • When cool enough to use safely, and after shampooing
  • Strain and run the rinse slowly through hair, and thoroughly massage the scalp and gently rubbing the hair as well

Rosemary bath

The process shown below can used for other herbs such as lavender as well, which is more calming and less stimulating. It is easier to put in 30 drops of essential oil into a bath, but by making a decoction from rosemary leaves is far superior.

  • Place 4 handfuls of rosemary leaves into 1 litre of water
  • Bring it to boil and then simmer for 20 minutes
  • Strain out the leaves and pour into a already prepared bath
  • Optionally and better, you can add 4 cups of Epsom salts, which really does help
  • Soak wonderfully for 20 minutes

Rosemary does help to stimulate the vascular system whilst helping with the mood.

Gardening uses

Rosemary can be used as a ‘filler’ or a ‘thriller’ in both large pots and in gardens. Prostrate Rosemary, or creeping rosemary, R. officinalis prostratus, can be an interesting version to have in your garden due to its ‘prostrating/hanging’ branches. Or if it grows well in your area, rosemary is excellent as a hedge, beautifully screening out unwanted neighbours, whilst attracting bees and fragrance to your home. Rosemary is also a very good companion plant, working well with sage. Some veggies that companion plant with rosemary are beans, cabbage, cauliflower and carrots. Rosemary helps to repel most sap-sucking insects and is great for attracting ‘predatory’ insects to your garden, enabling more ‘organic’ control of pests.


How to grow Rosemary

From seed

  • Fill a suitable seed raising container with seed raising mix
  • Sprinkle some seed on top of the mix
  • Lightly rub you fingers over the top, gently rubbing the seed into the mix
  • Spray water lightly over the seeds and mix
  • Keep the mixture just on the moist side but not wet
  • Place a bag over the container, keeping the bag clear from the seed
  • It will take approximately 3 months before they germinate
  • Once they have begun to grow i.e. put out a few leaves, plant them into larger containers or in a suitable place in your garden
  • From seed, rosemary will take a ‘Very’ long time before you get a substantial crop, so I probably wouldn’t try

From cuttings

Cutings are the best and fastest way to get things going, saving you heaps of time.

  • Find a healthy rosemary plant
  • Find one with young healthy branches
  • Don’t use old woody branches
  • Unflowered cuttings tend to work better
  • Take off cuttings at about 8cm to 12cm long
  • These can be cut from the same ‘branch’, just don’t plant them upside down
  • Carefully strip off 4 – 5cm of leaves from off the bottom
  • Fill some pots with ‘cutting’ mixture
  • Push a hole into the mixture with a dibbler, a stick will do
  • Push the cutting into the mixture, at least one to two bare nodes into the mix
  • Press down and around the cutting to firm it in
  • Water the cuttings in carefully
  • Watering lightly every day for two weeks
  • Then water about every second day for about a month
  • At this stage you should have a reasonably healthy root system
  • Repot into a larger pot or plant into your garden

Also you can propagate through root division or by air laying.

Maintenence and Prevention

Rosemary tends to have five main pests or diseases, and they are:

Spittle Bugs

Small brown sap sucking insects called Spittle bugs, these leave small foamy white excretions, normally not a serious problem, but when you see them, hose them off with a jet of water and these foamy excretions from your plant.

Aphids and White fly

Sap suckers such as aphids and also white fly can harm your plant, and although you can use some chemicals on them, it is better to hose them off with a good jet of water, especially if you intend to eat the stuff.

Root Rot

Root rot is a sad one, as generally it is now impossible to fix. So the best thing to do is give the plant a eulogy and then throw it in the bin. Root rot is usually prevented by planting in well-draining soil and don’t water it too much. Pots and raised beds work well with rosemary.

Powdery Mildew

Powdery Mildew is often due to high humid conditions, poor ventilation, and moist and shady areas. Generally the best way to treat powdery mildew is a fungicide spray, so unless you have a natural version, you may not want to eat from it after that.

Prevention

This starts at planting, rosemary prefers lighter and low acid soils, so a little lime may be useful here. Do not plant your plants too close together and allow about 1 – 1.5 metres apart (3 – 5′ apart). Don’t plant in shady areas or damp places in your garden.

This large and healthy Rosemary is in an open and sunny position with plenty of drainage, and gets watered once a week

Collecting

Most of the leaves are collected in the mid-morning once the dew or moisture has dried off as this helps to prevent mould and mildew forming during the drying process, storage and ruining the supply later on.

To pick its leaves go out into your garden or wherever you planted it, (don’t pick your neighbours unless you’ve asked) and take some garden snips and carefully cut off a branch. Place them into a suitable container or basket, but don’t squash them or damage them in any way, and don’t pick everything off, just cut off enough to do the job, that is, a few sprigs to stick into your lamb roast, for example.

As your picking them, beware of damaged, sick or diseased leaves and make sure your leaves are free from defects, such as, brown edges and yellow or dead leaves as these will ruin your pick, and won’t be as effective. Also, be aware of debris such as unknown leaf matter, dirt, dust or ash, or any other matter that should not be there, plus insects such as aphids and spiders and insect eggs that can be found on these branches.

Drying:

The leaves need to be dried quickly in a well-ventilated room and not in the sun as this may cause the loss of the volatile oils from time and heat. Spread out the leaves onto brown wrapping paper or paper towelling into a thin layer. Make sure that they are not piled on top of each other and the air can get around the leaves. The leaves once dry, should retain their colour and aroma and remain whole, looking the same as the original pick. Be aware that bugs may crawl out from the leaves, so be kind and provide a way of escape for them.

If your worried about something getting on the dried leaves, whilst drying them, then drape a light mesh over the top without touching them.

Storage:

Store your beautiful smelling rosemary leaves in a sealed bottle, it can be clear, but must be kept out of the sunlight, and in a cool place away from heat, otherwise keep in an amber coloured jar and still away from heat. Either way, make sure that the bottle is labelled with its contents and dated. They will keep for at least two years like this. If you see any mould throw it out.

Macerating:

Macerating rosemary is best to be done in a glass due to its higher oil content.


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 and top sprigs

Dosage:

Minimum to maximum of dried leaf is 1.5 – 3.0g per day

Main actions:

Carminative, spasmolytic, antioxidant, antimicrobial, circulatory stimulant, and hepatoprotective

Indications:

Improves memory, concentration, and mental performance, enhances phase 2 liver detoxification, a cardiovascular disease preventative, tension headache, and debility. Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s – cerebral antioxidant, ADHD, slows ageing process. Topically – myalgia, sciatica, neuralgia, wound healing, and hair loss – alopecia

Constituents:

Essential oil – cineole, alpha pinene, camphor; phenolic diterpenes – carnosol, carnosic acid; rosmarinic acid, flavonoids, and triterpenoids

Safety Concerns:

Don’t take with mineral supplements

Adulterants:

This is uncommon



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 very well known and popular sister flower to Chamomile is the delightful Miss Lavender, she doesn’t come over too strong, yet she is such a pleasure to be around and have around, everybody wants her as friend, and so she should be too. She is one of the best companions to have around when there is deep sadnesses and outward griefs, suggests Mr. Nicholas Culpeper, and here she is a worthy and good friend, especially in her oil form at this time.

Lavender or Lavandula angustifolia, or its synonyms Lavandula officinalis or Lavandula vera, which has many varieties, and has been widely used around the Mediterranean maquis (French), or Macchia (Italian), where the hillsides abound with rock and much native shrubbery, rocks and plenty of sun and dry weather for thousands of years. It should be noted that lavender is also a native to the Canary Islands (Spain), France and also to India, but now it is grown in many parts of the world, showing its great desirability.

Historically, it appears that it was used by the Ancient Egyptians, Arabs and Phoenicians, and then it was used by the Greeks and the Romans, and after that, it was brought over to England via the Romans through their conquest of that country, and then maintained by the monks within their gardens. Later on, it was grown in Surrey and Kent until the war there, but it is still grown in Norfolk, near Norwich, and probably in every other English country garden since. (And I don’t blame them!)

The word lavender comes from the medieval Latin ‘Lavandula’, across to the Anglo-Norman, ‘Lavendre’ all meaning ‘to wash’, as it was used by the Romans in their baths, probably with a floating duck. Many history buffs would have heard the term, ” Who will buy my lavender”, which was shouted amongst the many sellers of flowers.

How to use Lavender

Lavender has been used in numerous ways such as body soaps, shampoos, bath gels, shower rinses and other cleansers and detergents. Culinarily in jellies and vinegars and crystalised in confectionaries, plus the adventurously use it in biscuits and cookies. Lavender can be used with meats, such as, pheasant or venison, and I wonder if there is some chef somewhere who has used a flame thrower on them? (Remember, it is similar in appearance to Rosemary, and comes from the same family, therefore may have similar uses.)

Around the home, the flowers can be used in both washing the clothes and in the clothes drier, to instil a lovely fragrance into your clothes and bedding, or fragrance yourself by taking a bath in them or using the essential oils. The essential oils can be used around the home to repel bugs and insects off surfaces and off your family as I do, plus it can be used on its own or mixed with other oils, such as tea tree oil, to help with insect bites, such as ants, midges and mosquitos.

Due to its wonderful fragrance it is placed into cloth sachets and made into a sleep pillow and placed in or near a person’s pillow for restful sleep. It is used in many potpourris and perfumes, ‘well that was obvious’, as well as candles and furniture polish.

Medicinally, it has many uses, of which I will go into further along, but for now, I will break up some of the information mentioned above into more ‘useful’ advice.

Lavender tea:

Which can be made from both the fresh flower and the leaf tips at the top or from dried flowers. When using fresh lavender, just place a couple of small sprigs into a cup of hot water, cover and allow to steep for 5-15 minutes depending on how strong you want it, (15min is more therapeutic and stronger), and enjoy with a little honey, or stevia. When using dried flowers just use one teaspoon in a cup of boiling water, cover and allow to steep for about the same time, and sweeten if necesssary, and drink slowly.

Lavender bath:

To make a simple lavender bath, just grab appproximately 30grams of lavender flower and the tips if you have them, and place them into half a litre of water and bring to boil. Once it has reached boiling, take it off the heat, then strain out the leaf and flower matter and add to your bath water, and soak to your hearts content.

Lavender liniment:

Type 1) Bring to boil half a litre of water and half a litre of apple cider vinegar, then place two cupfuls of lavender flowers into the ‘just’ boiling water, turn off the heat and stir in, cover and allow to steep over night. Strain out the flowers and bottle with a label. Half a cup of this can be used in a lavender bath or you can rub it on as a liniment for dry skin, sore muscles and joints.

Type 2) Place 50grams of lavender flowers into a medium sized sealable jar with a lid, then pour in half a litre an alcohol solution such as vodka, and leave in a cool place out of the sunlight. Then allow the flowers to soak i.e. macerate each day, giving the bottle a good shake each day to assist the macerating process and after about 8 days, strain out the flowers and place into an amber bottle and label. Rub onto affected areas as needed.

Lavender oil:

This easy lavender oil is made from just 60grams of lavender flowers and one cup of olive oil. This same formula and process can be used for many versions of herbal type oils that can be used for massage and to help provide forms of relief, depending on what is the goal in mind.

Ingredients:

  • 60grams of Lavender flower
  • 1 cup of Olive oil, (Almond and Sunflower oils can be substituted.)

Equipment:

  • Heat source i.e. a stove/hotplate or similar
  • 2 litre glass, ceramic or stainless steel saucepan (Do not use iron or aluminium)
  • Scales suitable to measure 60 grams
  • 1 measuring cup of 250mls
  • Container to measure into
  • Bowel to squeeze into
  • A spoon for stirring
  • Temperature gauge to measure from at least 43 C to 49 C (110 F to 120 F)
  • Jar or bottle big enough to store the Lavender oil into
  • Cloths, 1 for straining and 1 for squeezing
  • Label and pen to write on the label, to label the bottle with the amount and date
  • Some form of press is beneficial, but not necessary (Just squeeze harder)

Procedure:

  • Place 60grams of Lavender into a saucepan
  • Pour in 1 cup of olive oil over the flowers
  • Slowly bring to the required temperature (see above) Never boil!
  • Maintain the temperature for 2 hours, whilst stirring regularly. You can actually heat for a whole week stirring daily, ‘the longer the stronger’
  • Heat until the flowers feel ‘crispy’, each herbal flower will be a little different
  • Strain out the plant matter into a clean cloth
  • Fold the cloth up and place into a press
  • Squeeze until you have extracted the oil
  • Pour into a suitable jar and seal and label
A simple Lavender Oil Recipe

Please remember, that this is only a quick and simple method, not the best and most preferred, but it is a good place to start learning, and you can still use the oil for massages etc. It is not an “Essential Oil” as that is made very differently and is many times stronger and should be used with more care.

Culinary

Lavender Biscuits

Ingredients:

  • 50 grams of stevia/erythritol, you can use sugar, but honestly best not to
  • 100 grams of butter (not margarine)
  • 175 grams of self raising flour
  • 1 Tablespoons of fresh lavender flowers
  • 2 Tablespoons of fresh lavender leaves

Procedure:

  • Mix the sweetener and butter until light and creamy
  • Add the leaves and the flour to the butter mixture
  • Knead until it forms a dough
  • Roll out onto a floured board
  • Sprinkle the flowers onto the dough and roll in gently
  • Cut into a shape you like
  • Place them onto a greased baking sheet
  • Bake in an oven for 10 to 15 minutes at 230 C /450 F until firm and golden
  • Remove and cool on a wire
  • Enjoy,
  • ‘Disclosure’, well honestly, not everybody enjoys them

Potpourri

A Purple Potpourri:

Mix together an even and balanced mixture of

  • Lavender
  • PinCushion flower
  • Larkspur
  • Blue Salvia
  • Bachelor’s Buttons
  • Globe Thistle

Collecting

Most flowers are collected once they have bloomed and are in the early stage of maturity and in the mid-morning once the dew or moisture has dried off and this is to prevent mould and mildew forming during the drying process and ruining the supply later on.

To pick its flowers go out into your garden or wherever you can find wild growing lavender to collect the flowers, (don’t pick your neighbours unless you’ve asked) and take a small sharp knife or some garden snips and carefully cut off the flowers or you can pick the flowers by hand, picking them directly behind the the bud or taking some of the sprig depending on what you are to do. Place them into a suitable container or basket, but don’t squash them or damage them in any way.

As your picking them, beware of damaged flowers and make sure your flowers are free from defects, such as, brown edges and dead petals as these will ruin your pick. Also, be aware of debris such as unknown leaf matter, dirt, dust or ash, or any other matter that should not be there, plus insects such as spiders and caterpillars and insect eggs that can be found on these flowers.

Drying:

The flowers need to be dried in a well-ventilated room and not in the sun as this may cause the loss of the volatile oils. Spread out the flowers onto brown wrapping paper or paper towelling into a thin layer. Make sure that they are not sitting on top of each other and the air can get around the flowers. The flowers once dry, should retain their colour and aroma and remain whole, looking the same as the original pick. Be aware that bugs may crawl out from the flowers, so be kind and provide a way of escape for them.

If your worried about something getting on the dried flowers, whilst drying them, then drape a light mesh over the top without touching them.

Storage:

Store your beautiful smelling lavender flowers in a sealed bottle, it can be clear, but must be kept out of the sunlight, and in a cool place away from heat, otherwise keep in an amber coloured jar and still away from heat. Either way, make sure that the bottle is labelled with its contents and dated. They will keep for at least two years like this and if you see any mould throw it out.


Herbalism

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

Parts used:

Flower

Dosage:

2.0 – 4.0grams

Main Actions:

Carminative, spasmolytic, antidepressant, and anxiolytic

Indications:

Anxiety, insomnia, excitability, nervous dyspepsia, mild depression, flatulent colic, intestinal colic, plus, Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and tension headache

Constituents:

Essential oil – lineally and linalool

Safety Concerns:

If allergic to Lavender

Adulterants:

Sometimes it is 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

Email: theherbalist@theherbarius.com.au

Sales: sales@theherbarius.com.au

The beautifully fragrant Chamomile, she could be considered the darling of the herbal flowers, so well known by so many people, and she would be next to her other well known darling flower, Miss Lavender. The fragrance is right there in the bud, or from the moment you open the container the fragrance flows up into your nose screaming out beauty and gentleness, and chamomile is just so wonderfully gentle.

Chamomile grows wild in North America and in Europe, but it also grows in many other countries as well, and has several varieties, and they are German Chamomile, (Matricaria recutita) otherwise called camomile, or wild chamomile, then there are two varieties of Roman chamomile, (Chamaemelum nobile), which is also known as garden chamomile, low chamomile, whig plant, mayweed or ground apple, due to smelling like ‘apples’. Plus, (Chamaemelum nobile ‘Flore Pleno’), which is a ‘doubled flower’ and is more ‘compact’ than the standard Roman chamomile.

Also there are two lesser known chamomiles, which are the Chamomile treneague, which does not flower, and can be used as a no-mow lawn, and the Dyers chamomile, which is used for its dying ability.

The two chamomile’s principally used in herbalism are German chamomile and Roman chamomile. German chamomile is generally considered stronger and better for mucosal surfaces, and Roman chamomile is a little more bitter, soothes the lungs better, and can be used to speed up menstrual flow if needed, but may have more of a possible allergic reaction, such as dermatitis.

Chamomile’s most useful known action is that it is a ‘mild sedative’ therefore it is a relaxant, so much so it can be given to small children who are fretting. It relaxes the nerves, yet without much influence on sedation or side-effects.

How to use Chamomile?

Herbal Teas:

The most popular use of Chamomile is a herbal tea or Tisane, it is great also for the elderly and those convalescing, and this is how you make it:

A Chamomile tea is beautiful in every way
  • Take one heaped teaspoon of chamomile flowers, fresh or dried
  • Put it in a loose tea infuser
  • Place it in a warmed cup and pour in 250mls of just on boiling water
  • Cover and allow to stand for 3-5 minutes
  • If desired you can add a little raw honey or stevia, a slice of lemon, a slice or two of ginger or even fennel seeds

Culinary:

The flowers can be place in different types of salads, to add the colour of white and yellow, also they can be frozen in ice blocks to place into drinks.

Babies and Breastfeeding:

If you want to calm your baby from colic, teething or to encourage sleepiness, one can make a similar brew as mentioned above, but, it will need to be at “1/2 a teaspoon” not a whole teaspoon, to a ‘teapot’ not a cup, and this can be drunk in small quantities over the period of the day. Or, given via a bottle. Please note: always check for any possible allergic reaction, just to be safe.

Gardening uses:

Most only collect the flowers to make with a herbal tea, but it should be noted that some collect the leaves as well, these leaves can be used with the flowers in an infusion, which can be used as an accelerator to assist in decomposition and as a spray to help prevent dampening off. This infusion was made by bringing to boil 600ml of water and adding a handful of the flowers and leaves, then covered to help keep the volatile oils in and allowed to stand for half a day. Then strain and place into a suitable spray bottle for dispensing.

Potpourri:

An example of a Bath Potpourri you may like to try:

  • Rose Petals
  • Lavender
  • Chamomile
  • Peppermint
  • Comfrey
  • Lemon verbena
  • and Bee Balm

And Other uses:

Apart from its obvious and delicious use a tea beverage, it is used primarily as a herbal medicine, but it is also used in medicinal and pharmaceutical preparations, cosmetics, and its essential oil is used in perfumes.


How to grow Chamomile

Both German and Roman chamomiles are easy to grow, depending on where you live, that is, hotter or colder as most seed planting times will differ, if you are in more hotter and drier climates, then you should plant around autumn and winter, but if you are in cooler climates then plant from spring to early summer.

German chamomile grows as an annual that grows to approximately 30-50 cm high and Roman chamomile is a perennial low growing herb that matts.

From Seed:

  • Fill a tray or container with good seed raising mix, which is usually mostly sand
  • Sow your seed onto seed trays and cover with about 5mm (1/4″) of some of the seed raising mix
  • Lightly water the mix and keep it slightly moist (you can keep a hessian bag laid over the mix to keep the moisture in.)
  • They should start emerging approximately 2-3 weeks later
  • Transplant the seedlings into either pots or into the garden when you have four good leaves and water in well and protect from heat if necessary until established
  • The seed can be directly planted into the garden and thinned out to at least 20cm apart
This seed packet contains Roman Chamomile from a local hardware store

From Cuttings:

The double flowered chamomile and chamomile treneague must be propagated by cuttings or division and collect the cutting either during spring and autumn, and the cuttings are generally easier because they have ‘aerial’ roots. Simply make a hole into the potting mix with a dibbler and then carefully place the cuttings into the holes without damaging the roots and water in.

Maintenance:

Chamomile loves a sunny position and slightly acidic well-drained soil, and since being relatively hardy and easy to grow, they can grow in less than desirable places. Chamomile does benefit from some liquid fertiliser at the beginning of its growing season and make sure that the ground does not dry out therefore mulch well.

Diseases and Pests:

Due to being highly aromatic by nature, Chamomile is relatively free from pests and disease


Collecting

Most flowers are collected once they have bloomed and are in the early stage of maturity and in the mid-morning once the dew or moisture has dried off and this is to prevent mould and mildew forming during the drying process and ruining the supply later on. But Chamomile and another flower called ‘Everlasting flower’ are a little different, and so with these, you need to collect the flowers ‘as’ they are starting to blossom, not after they have fully bloomed as with all the rest.

To pick its flowers go out into your garden or wherever you can find wild growing chamomile to collect the flowers, (don’t pick your neighbours unless you’ve asked) and take a small sharp knife or some garden snips and carefully cut off the flowers or you can pick the flowers by hand, picking them directly behind the the bud. Place them into a suitable container or basket, but don’t squash them or damage them in any way.

As your picking them, beware of damaged flowers and make sure your flowers are free from defects, such as, brown edges and dead petals as these will ruin your pick. Also, be aware of debris such as unknown leaf matter, dirt, dust or ash, or any other matter that should not be there, plus insects such as spiders and caterpillars and insect eggs that can be found on these flowers.

Drying:

The flowers need to be dried in a well-ventilated room and not in the sun as this may cause the loss of the volatile oils; spread out the flowers onto brown wrapping paper or paper towelling into a thin layer. Make sure that they are not sitting on top of each other and the air can get around the flowers. The flowers once dry, should retain their colour and aroma and remain whole, looking the same as the original pick. Be aware that bugs may crawl out from the flowers, so be kind and provide a way of escape for them.

If your worried about something getting on the dried flowers, whilst drying them, then drape a light mesh over the top without touching them.

Storage:

Store your beautiful smelling chamomile flowers in a sealed bottle, it can be clear, but must be kept out of the sunlight, and in a cool place away from heat, otherwise keep in an amber coloured jar and still away from heat. Either way, make sure that the bottle is labelled with its contents and dated. They will keep for at least two years like this. If you see any mould throw it out.

Macerating:

Chamomile’s macerating time is relatively short, literally only a few days if you are making a tincture from the flowers. Chamomile makes an excellent glycerin extraction, which is good for those wishing to avoid alcohol.


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:

Flowers, which have not fully blossomed

Dosage:

Minimum to maximum of dried flower is 0.9 – 1.8g per day

Main actions:

Anti-Inflammatory, spasmolytic, carminative, mild sedative, antiulcer, vulnerary, and diaphoretic

Indications:

Travel sickness, restlessness, anxiety, insomnia, nervous dyspepsia, plus, Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), food sensitivities, flatulent colic, flatulence, gastrointestinal tract colic and inflammation, diarrhoea, teething and infantile colic, gastritis, peptic ulcers, GORD, topically for dermatitis, mouth ulcers, and wounds

Constituents:

Essential oils with dicycloethers, bisabolol, matricine, flavonoids, coumarins. best to use when rich in bisabolol

Safety Concerns:

Allergic to Chamomile (Think Ragweed)

Adulterants:

Presently ‘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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German Chamomile 40 g / 1.41oz

Certified Organic German Chamomile. Includes Postage and Handling in Australia of $3.65

A$9.65