Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Brown gloop

Many people think of us as "brown bottle herbalists".  We interview people about their health problems, then proceed to hand them a brown bottle full of brown gloop.  This is a fair description of how we tend to proceed in some situations.  There are even stories of herbalists who hand clients a bottle of the same herb at the end of each consultation.  I don't do this.

One good description of the stuff herbalists give people is "liquid salad".  I think Hyde probably came up with that one, and i like it.  It makes me want to come up with a mixture consisting entirely of salad plants.  Apium graveolens and Lactuca virosa come to mind.  It really seems quite strange to me that taking salad as medicine is not seen as a good idea, although the description tends to call to mind weak, watery vegetables whereas the plants I am thinking of are the likes of capers, garlic, chicory and Cayenne pepper rather than forced celery or lettuce, whereof the above are not examples - wild lettuce looks more like ragwort and celery is of course related to hemlock, a plant not noted for its lack of action on the human body.

At some point, i will upload a video on how to make a tincture.  The barrier is the cost of vodka.  I am not in possession of an absolute alcohol licence, so to make an alcohol tincture, that's what i'd probably use.  Other options than alcohol exist but they alter the properties of the remedy or have drawbacks, and of course alcohol has its own drawbacks.  Vinegar is quite an easily available choice and can easily be made at home, so i will probably opt for that.

Right, here's the video:

(as of the time of writing it's not ready).

Just to go through the plants used in the clip:

Cimicifuga racemosa - black cohosh, largely a gynaecological remedy.  Like many other such remedies, it's native to North America although there is a European species too.
Eleutherococcus senticosus - adaptogen, Asian herb, more effective and safer than Panax ginsengs.
Prunus serotina - cherry.  Antitussive and not particularly useful, interestingly one of the many plants which relies partly for its action on cyanide.  Mainly used for whooping cough.
Aesculus hippocastanum - horse chestnut.  Yes, i know it's poisonous.  Often used topically in creams for varicose ulcers.
Salvia officinalis - not to be confused with Salvia divinorum although it happens to be mildly psychoactive for different reasons.  Another oestrogenic herb which is also good at reducing excess sweating.
Potentilla tormentilla -  tormentil.  The strongest widely used astringent herb, although many trees are far more astringent.  Useful for toothache and various other things, although it's illegal for a herbalist to treat dental complaints.
Apium graveolens - celery.  Used for arthritis among other things.