Tag Archives: Sprains

365 Frankendael day 42

Today a post about one plant, my favourite, Elder (Sambucus nigra).

This wonderful ancient healing plant, which has been steeped in mysticism and folklore for millennia, is producing flowers that cheer up almost every hedgerow in town, right now.

Where you find one Elder shrub, you are likely to find others close by. It springs up in the most unexpected places and is a true survivor. It has bumpy, brittle, crooked branches, smelly leaves and phenomenal frothy flower heads, stacked all over the plant. They remind me of small terraces, tilting in almost the same direction, all over the shrub.

This photo shows one of many Elder shrubs, along the Hugo de Vrieslaan hedgerow which provides a boundary for Park Frankendael. Now the flowers are mature and plentiful.

I’ve talked about this plant quite a lot previously, Google Elderflower recipes and you may be amazed by how many people like to eat this flower. Remember to avoid eating the leaves amd twigs, they will likely make you ill. I was refreshing my knowledge of the plant this evening by reading Wild Man Steve Brill’s book, Edible and Medicinal Plants. He talks about an American cousin of our local Sambucus nigra, called Sambucus canadensis and I was surprised to learn that the stems and leaves can sometimes yield cyanide, when a bitter alkaloid and glycoside within them change. So definitely parts of Elder to avoid in your diet!

One piece of Elder history I want to mention today, is how ancient Christians were irritated or threatened by the Elder Mother cult in Europe. The Elder mother was/is said to live within the Elder bush. You should ask her permission to harvest from her tree, should never burn her, should never chop her down, without asking her to leave. Ancient Europeans revered the Elder, welcoming and encouraging it to grow near their homes. the Elder mother protected homes from fire and lightning, kept your cattle safe and of course provided simple medicine for your whole family. This folklore helped to make the shrub commonly available for all manner of uses. In an attempt to rid communities of their attachment to the Elder Mother, the plant became embedded in the most negative ways, within Christian stories. Judas was said to have hanged himself from an Elder and Christ was said to have been nailed to an Elder cross. But of course this couldn’t be true due to the brittle nature of the tree. The tree was also much associated with witchcraft and yet was also said to protect you from witches. It seems that everyone had something to say about this shrub which points to it having had many uses.

I’ll be harvesting some more Elderflowers tomorrow, probably to be broken up and sprinkled into a light batter, some to be added to general cooking (we had it on baked fish last week, very good and interesting), some to make a face wash and some to be dried for use as a fever remedy when needed. I also fancy making some Elder leaf infused oil this weekend, for external use in an ointment. It is often useful on bruises, sprains and chilblains.

Love Elder and she will love you back, but be gentle with her and ask (and listen) when you’d like to take some of her gifts. She has many, many gifts and is not to be overlooked or underestimated.

43 Uses for Calendula (NL:Goudsbloem)

Calming, cooling, cleansing. Calendula officinalis (Pot Marigold, NL: Goudsbloem) is one of the easiest herbs to grow and perhaps one of the most useful to Urban Herbologists. It is a hardy annual which does very well in containers, can flower throughout the year and self seeds readily. It is beautiful, tastes good and has gentle astringent, anti-inflammatory, cooling, detoxifying and antiseptic actions. If you only have space to grow one herb, this has to be one to consider. Many of the remedies mentioned here are very easy to make, if you prefer to buy them from a reliable source, I recommend Weleda products (some links are included in the list). N.B. Calendula is not to be confused with French marigold (Tagetes patula). Calendula is very gentle but when trying a new herb it is always wise to use very small quantities at first or to do a skin patch test.

43 uses for Calendula

Medicinal uses
1. Sprains
– make a compress from infused flowers.
2. Gum infections –
Mouthwash from tea or a few drops of tincture in water.
3. Sore throat pastilles – Powdered dried flowers, blended with honey.
4. Mastitis & sore nipples – Calendula Cream can help strengthen nipples and prevent mastitis in nursing mothers.
5. Cold sores – Calendula salve is helpful to many cold sore sufferers.
6. Acne – Lotion made from Calendula tea can help speed healing and reduce scarring.
7. Nappy rash – Infused oil, lotion or Calendula Cream can prevent and speed healing.
8. Athletes foot – Calendula cream or infused oil, anti fungal.
9. Ring worm – Calendula cream or infused oil, anti fungal.
10. Period pain – Many women find regular use of Calendula tea helpful as a menstrual regulator.
11. Digestive inflammation – Calendula tea can often gently reduce inflammation.
12. Scar reduction – Often Calendula Oil, cream or salve can help to reduce existing scars and prevent scars.
13. Lowering mild fever – Drinking Calendula tea at first signs may help.
14. Skin softening – Massage using Calendula infused oil.
15. Eczema – Calendula infused oil or cream often calms red, hot eczema conditions.
16. Dry chapped skin – Calendula salve or infused oil.
17. Varicose veins – Calendula salve or cream.
18. Chillblains – Calendula salve or cream.
19. Post operative recovery – Calendula tea. Gentle, cooling, nourishing, speeds healing, reduction of scarring.

Culinary uses
20. Herbal ice cubes/wands – Freeze petals in ice cubes for summer drinks.
21. Salad flowers – Pretty and tasty, sprinkle on top.
22. Soups Add dried or fresh flowers or petals to soups. An ancient broth without Calendula was incomplete, hence the name Pot Marigold.
23. Saffron colour substitute – The taste is different but the colour is very similar.
24. Risotto – Adding whole petals livens up the appearance of risotto.
25. Soft cheese –
Blend in whole or chopped fresh petals. Previously used to colour cheese yellow.
26. Yoghurt –
Mix in fresh petals or spinkle on top.
27. Butter –
Mix in finely chopped fresh petals. Can be frozen.
28. Omelettes –
Add fresh petals for colour and taste.
29. Cakes –
Use calendula butter or add fresh petals to cake mix.
30. Milk dishes –
Add to rice pudding, custards and similar dishes.
31. Sweet breads –
A little like saffron.
32. Vegetable bouillon – Add to mixes of dried herbs and vegetables.
33. Source of Vitamin A

Other uses
34. Fabric/Wool dye –
Boil flowers, yellow dye. Suitable mordant is alum.
35. Pot pourri – Whole dried flowers retain colour and mild scent.
36. Alter decorations – Used since ancient times to adorn spiritually significant objects and buildings.
37. Skin toner – Cooled tea.
38. Eye make-up remover – Infused oil.
39. Face cleanser – Infused oil or cream.
40. Lip balm – Soothing and calming, beeswax and infused oil.
41. Hair rinse – Tea, to brighten blond hair.
42. Companion planting – Useful for deterring pests in organic gardens.
43. Year round colour – The Romans noted this plant tends to be in bloom on first day of each month (calends), hence the latin name.