Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Dandelions are so useful...

This golden herbal infused oil is yet another use for our friend the Dandelion. This time it’s the flowers which are good for aching muscles and joints.


Infused oils can be made from many different herbs for many different reasons. For instance, Calendula or Marigold petals make a wonderful healing oil for inflammation and dry irritated skin. Rose petals are used as a cooling and nourishing oil that is exquisitely scented.

I found the details for this infused oil in one of my favorite books Hedgerow Medicine by Julie Burton-Seal and Matthew Seal.  When you have picked your Dandelion flower heads leave them out on some paper so that any wild life can escape. Then fill a jam jar with the blossoms and cover completely with either olive oil or sweet almond oil. Each time you check your oil over the next couple of weeks make sure that the flowers are submerged under the oil or they may go moldy.  Cover the jar with a piece of muslin so that any moisture from the flowers can escape into the atmosphere.

Place your jar on a sunny windowsill (we only seem to have rainy windowsills at the moment but I’m sure it will brighten up!) and leave for 2 weeks. Then strain off the oil leaving any watery residue in the jar, pour into sterilised bottles and label with the date and name of the oil. Store in a cool dark place.

Your oil can be combined with Rosemary essential oil for a warming muscle rub using 1 drop of essential oil to every 5mls of infused oil.

You could also make an Dandelion oil ointment, which is really simple to make, check it out on my website.

Have fun.


Thursday, 19 April 2012

Dandelions are taking over the world!!!

The combination of sunshine and showers has launched the Dandelion into a bid for world domination.

Their smiling faces are brightening up grass verges and roundabouts through out South Leicestershire. Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) is very fond of people, congregating in lawns and veg plots trying to get noticed.

It’s their indestructible nature that appeals, it shows strength of character. This feisty little plant is known as a weed, (which is just another name for a plant in the wrong place) but I think it should be celebrated and re-named ‘a good do-er’. This was a term my Grandad gave to his favorite Dahlias but surely they share the same qualities, endless cheerful flowers a striking leaf shape and beautifully delicate seed heads.   

The Dandelion has even more to offer though, it is a healing plant with an astonishing list of medicinal qualities. Dandelion is a nutritious spring green high in vitamins and minerals especially potassium. It is a bitter tasting plant which means it is good for your digestion, activating digestive juices and promoting a healthy appetite. Herbalists use both the leaf and the root as medicine and can be used either separately or together. When combined with Nettle, Burdock and Cleavers (Sticky weed) you have a fantastic spring tonic.

The root is mainly used to treat the liver and gently helps a sluggish digestion, skin problems, hormonal imbalances and headaches to name just a few. The leaves are beneficial to the kidneys with their diuretic qualities reducing excess fluid, therefore helping to reduce high blood pressure. It can help swollen ankles, eczema, acne, arthritis and also strengthens the urinary system, the list is endless. So rather than reach for the herbicide or the flame thrower why not make use of these helpful herbs.

As always, if you feel the need to forage for Dandelions or other friendly hedgerow goodies please make sure you identify the plants carefully. Always check in a plant identification book before you harvest your herbs to make sure you are munching on the right plant.
Oh, and it’s also good manners to ask the plant first if you can take a few leaves or flowers, a thank you is good too!

Herbal Spring Clean Vinegar

This herbal vinegar includes:
Dandelion (obviously) 
Cleavers or Sticky weed (Galium aparine)
Nettle (Urtica diocia)
Apple Cider Vinegar
You will need a 1 liter or ½ liter Kilner jar, or a glass jar with a lid that clips down. A jar with a plastic lid will be OK, but no metal lids, as the vinegar corrodes metal!

This medicinal vinegar is a fantastic spring tonic. It is cleansing due to its action on the digestion and nourishing because it is bursting with vitamins and minerals. Nettle is also a great nutritious and cleansing herb and Cleavers is especially good for the lymphatic system enhancing the removal of toxins and the cleansing process.

Once you have identified your herbs and gathered them from a herbicide and dog free area you are ready to go.

Wash and chop your herbs, you might want to wear some gloves as Nettle might fight back!

 Fill the glass jar or container with the chopped herb and pour on the apple cider vinegar, give it a poke and leave in a cool dark place for 2-3 weeks. When the time comes strain off the herbs, bottle your herbal vinegar in sterilized bottles (with plastic lids remember) and label.
You can take 5mls (1 teaspoon) of the vinegar in a glass of water as a ‘spring clean’ tonic to promote a healthy digestion and a clear skin. You can use it in salad dressing and even a hair rinse for strong, shiny hair.

Read more about Dandelion and other healing plants on my website: 

Monday, 16 April 2012

A botanical adventure begins

I sit on the front door step contemplating a botanical adventure… making a medicinal herb garden.

This has been on my ‘to do’ list for, well, too long really! 
And I’m bored of saying ‘one day I’m going to……’ so here we go.

My prospective herbal space is in the front garden, a 2 meter circle of turf, contained by bricks and surrounded by a sea of gravel. The aim is to select herbs that will be of medicinal benefit to the family and flourish in the growing conditions, making it a thing of beauty as well as a helpful herbal ally. 

The chosen herbs could be a mixture of both annual and perennial plants, which can be harvested fresh for a cup of tea or maybe to make a soothing compress for a bumped knee. There should be some structural herbs and also some that give interest through the winter months.

The first big step has been taken which was deciding to go for it. The next step is to think about the design and more importantly the herbs that will be included…watch this space!