Herbal lore has been practiced for Centuries by Wise men and women who knew the land and understood nature and its powers. All herbs have both medicinal and magickal properties and, today, these powers are undergoing a revival to enhance both our bodies and our lives.
With the knowledge of the Old Ways, the Green Witch has put together a list of herbs and spices, gums, resins and barks that have both medicinal and magickal powers to help you gain control of your health, your wealth and your happiness.
This witch’s herbal list contains information of the herbs, both magickal and medicinal.
NEW: if you follow the page past the herb types, the new section shows what you can do with your newly stocked herb cupboard...infusions, decoctions etc
A Short History of Herbal Medicine…
2000AD here, eat this root
1000AD that root is heathen, say this prayer
1850AD that prayer is superstition, drink this potion
1940AD that potion is snake oil, swallow this pill
1985AD that pill is ineffective, take this antibiotic
2000AD that antibiotic is artificial. Here, eat this root.
Need I say more!!!
Time to play…how to make herbal stuff…
How to make your own infusions, decoctions, syrups etc were part of everyday life but this knowledge is no longer passed from mother to daughter. However, these home made remedies were imperative to surviving the winter and may be the little extra we are going to need this year, as I think we will be inundated with coughs and colds and these concoctions are great. But how do you make a herbal tea? Or a cough syrup? Well, I am here to help you discover this help as you never know when you may need it. When in Turkey, I wasn’t feeling well and I was made a special tea by our host and it worked a dream – and only consisted of a couple of herbs from the garden, a squeeze of lemon and some hot water and a lot of local herbal knowledge.
A herbal infusion is the same as your cup of tea – a teaspoon of the dried herb (usually flowers or leaves) or 2tsp fresh herb is added to a cup and hot water poured over, then allowed to infuse for a few minutes, to allow the medicinal qualities of the herb to transfer to the water ready for drinking. Add a little honey if the taste isn’t quite to your liking (though my Nan always reckoned if it tasted rotten, it must be doing you good…)!!
A decoction is somewhat different to an infusion and what is needed to get the qualities from twigs, roots etc that are a little harder than aerial parts and cannot be got simply by infusing. The root, twigs, bark etc must be placed in a pan with a cup of cold water, brought to the boil and simmered for 5 minutes. This breaks down the harder outer material allowing the medicinal qualities to then transfer to the water.
When colds are around, I make a decoction with cinnamon, clove and licorice, and when simmered for 5 minutes, pour just the medicinal water into a mug to which you have already added a spoon of honey (local honey of course) and half a freshly squeezed lemon. Simply stir for a fantastic herbal remedy for coughs, colds and sore throats – much better than Lemsip anyday!! This can be drunk freely several times a day and even a little whisky added at night for a good Scottish medicinal nightcap (my nan swore about her daily nip of whisky and lived to 94!!).
Continuing the “how to do it yourself” bit… with home herbal remedies
We have covered infusions and decoctions previously, but what about infused oil? I mentioned St John’s wort above but you can make very useful carrier oil if this plant grows in your garden. The same goes with pot marigolds which make excellent Calendula oil…just use your imagination and the possibilities could be endless.
So, take some fresh flowers/herb etc and place in a lidded/sealed jar. Cover herb with oil such as almond or apricot kernel, with additions of jojoba or Wheatgerm if wanted. Shake the sealed jar and leave on a sunny windowsill. Shake daily for the next 3-6 weeks whilst the herb infuses into the oil. At the end of the time, your oil will probably have changed colour – in the case of St Johns wort, it will have gone bright red… Drain the oil through muslin into a clean container and voila…your jar of infused oil which can be applied direct to the skin or essential oils added for additional health properties. You will all be planting lots by the spring in preparation of what you can make now, and herbal cooking oils can be made the same way, with olive oil so get playing….
Making healthy Rosehip syrup…
As mentioned above, now is the time to raid the hedgerows. I used to make rosehip syrup for over the winter and the kids took it no probs and never seemed to get coughs and colds. Also get some good old fashioned Malt Extract with Cod Liver oil from your local pharmacy (I called it “Toffee on a spoon” haha!! – Cruel mum I know…) but they usually remained cough and cold-free over the winter.
Nowadays, we tend to rely too much on chemical products so how about having a go to make your own home-made natural remedies…at a cost of next to nothing – just time…so here is how to make good old-fashioned Rosehip syrup to keep the kids topped up with Vitamin C through the winter…
Gather about 40g-50g fresh rosehips, rinse and put into an enamel pan (glass or stainless steel will also do but no non-stick or aluminium). Cover with 750ml cold water and bring to the boil. Simmer for 30 minutes until it has been reduced by a third. Strain the liquid through a sieve into a jug and press rosehips to ensure as much goodness and liquid goes in the decoction. Add back to the pan with equal amount of local honey (500ml decoction to 500ml honey) and stir until it is dissolved. Pour into sterilized dark glass bottles, preferably with cork stoppers as syrups can ferment…keep in the fridge and give children 5ml daily for their natural vitamin C.
Elderberry rob can also be made the same way using elderberries. Again, full of Vitamin C, this was used at the first sign of a cold. Add a spoonful of the elderberry rob to a spoonful honey and juice half lemon and add hot water for a warming, soothing children’s drink.
Have a go this year and see how you get on…who knows, I may well go back into production…watch this space!!
Will give you more ideas another time but this will get you started with some herbal remedies of your own and in the meantime, you can check out your stores and books and see what you can brew for yourself.