Monday, 4 July 2011

(8) Depurative and Alterative Remedies

Using our Seasonal Materia Medica knowledge of the tonic blood cleanser herbs, we are to formulate, in theory only, a herbal preparation that one may refer to as “Wild Bear’s Medicine”.

A “Wild Bears Medicine” is effectively a Spring remedy, to re-mineraliser, re-energise, and regenerate after the Winter. The name for this medicine comes from the fact that after winter, wild bears come out of hibernation, and due to their need for nutrition they gorge on the wild Garlic that is growing at that time.

I believe, that for a Spring remedy that is to rejuvenate the body after a long winter, a tonic, concentrated down into a cordial would be the most appropriate remedy. Making a cordial, therefore allows, that the tonic can be consumed over a longer period of time, it also gives the option of consuming some when you’re feeling a bit low and in need of a boost.

Botanicals I would include in this cordial would be:
  • Nettle – Urtica diocia
  • Lemon Balm – Melissa officinalis
  • Herb Robert – Germanium Robertianum F geraniaceae
The three botanicals have their own distinct taste, some not as pleasant as others, so to mask the less pleasing tastes, you could add orange and lemon zest, to boost the flavour of the Lemon Balm – so as the over-riding flavour would be sharp and tangy.

The reason I wanted Nettle in the cordial is for its diverse array of benefits, it is not only a nutritious blood tonic and re-mineraliser – yielding high quantities of calcium, iron and vitamin C, but and eliminative and detoxifier, anti-rheumatic, hypotensive, hypoglycaemic and galatogogue. However, the most interesting aspect of the Nettle is its natural anti-histamine properties.
If taken in a Spring cordial, the Nettle would provide natural anti-allergy protection, this would be hugely beneficial, especially for those that suffer hayfever. As whether or not you suffer from the symptoms of hayfever, all can feel the effect of a high pollen count – it would also help to nullify the “summer cold” symptoms. All-in-all the Nettle included would bring a huge boost to the cordial’s potency.

The use of Lemon Balm in the cordial, is not only for its over-riding flavours which will make the cordial pleasant to drink, but for its ability to soothe low spirits, calm and relax the nerves and alleviate stress. It can be compared with the effectiveness of mint in the soothing effect it has on the stomach and the positive effect it has on the digestive system. It contains volatile oils, including citronella and citrals A and B, which can be noted for Lemon Balm’s soothing and sedative properties. Lemon Balm’s antioxidant properties show to improve memory and attention span, they would also improve the body’s internal condition.
Finally, using Herb Robert in the cordial – little information is available on the constituents, however this herb is an outstanding enhancer of the immune system. Full of volatile oils, a natural bitter, high quantities of vitamin A, B complex and C, as well as the minerals: calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus and germanium – which makes oxygen available to the cells. It is also anti-viral, an antioxidant, antibiotic, anti-cancer, digestive, diuretic, astringent and a sedative.
It is known nowadays primarily for its anti-cancer properties. However it also improves the function of the liver and gallbladder. The Doctrine of Signatures, due to the red stems of the herb, believed it was good for regenerating blood, and some of its uses show that it alleviates the symptoms of cold’s – sore throats etc.

Making the cordial is a simple process, requiring no specialised equipment, everything can be found in your kitchen cupboard – spare the fresh herbs of course.

Firstly you will need: 1 big pan, an available hob, 1 wooden or plastic spoon, one fine sieve or muslin, and a storage bottle or ice cube container – personal preference.

For the ingredients you will need:
  • 2 handfuls (rough estimate) of fresh Nettle leaf (preferably the top, soft leaves)
  • 3 handfuls (rough estimate) of fresh Lemon Balm leaf
  • 1 handfuls (rough estimate) of fresh Herb Robert leaf
  • 1 litre Water
  • ¾ lb Raw Cane Caster Sugar
  • Zest and Juice 1 Orange
  • Zest and Juice 1 Lemon
 The zest and juice volume may alter dependent on personal preference.

The procedure of making the cordial is fairly simple:
  1. Dissolve the Sugar and Water together in a large pan
  2. Gently bring this syrup-mixture to the boil
  3. Boil rapidly for 7-10 minutes
  4. Remove from the hob and add the rest of the ingredients – not all leaves may fit at once so add in batches
  5. Allow to steep (infuse) for 5-10 minutes – removing burnt leaves as applicable
  6. Strain through a fine sieve or muslin
  7. Bottle and clearly label
Keep the cordial refrigerated and use within a couple of weeks of preparation. Alternatively, freeze in an ice cube container and defrost as required. Remember to add water to drink. 

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