Thursday, 3 October 2013

Herbal First Aid Kit

Workshop: 14th September 2013

Firstly, I am not a qualified Herbalist (by Western academic terms that is). My knowledge comes purely from my interest, observation and love of plants. I have studied for 2 years as a Natropath, but decided to do more hands on things, which lead me to Permaculture. I like to know a plant intimately, and as much as I love books, I think there is only a limited amount of knowledge you can learn from a book about herbs. The real learning comes from the plant itself. I like to see them, touch them, taste them, smell them, make medicine from them... really experience the plant as an ally, as a friend.

I suggest this to everyone I meet that is interested in Herbal Medicine, Wildfoods and plant life. Pick a plant for a month, or even a year. Working with a plant for a whole year as amazing benefits, because herbs aren't supposed to cure your ills in one night with a pill. They often take TIME, like everything else, and you will really reap the benefits of being patient and getting to know a plant just like you would a friend. Learn all you can about this plant- sleep with it, bathe with it, use it as a bookmark, make every recipe you can with it, drink the tea each day, make tinctures or oils or vinegars, learn its properties, speak with it, write about it and draw it!! I assure you, you will never forget this herb, it will be one of your friends.

Wildcrafting: Wildcrafting is the practice of picking wild herbs. I suggest you do not do this by a busy roadside or polluted area. Collect from parks or fields. Always leave the 'mother plant' (the plant that looks the oldest and usually largest, that has given birth to all of the plants of the same species around her), ask the plants for permission, and make sure you leave a third of what is there to regenerate.

Herbal First Aid:

Kit Contains:







Calendula Cream:
Calendula officinalis
Constituents:
Sesquiterpene and flavonol glycosides, Triterpenoid saponins, Triterpene alcohols, Flavonoids, Carotenoids,  Xanthophylls, Phenolic acids, sterols, mucilage, tocopherols, calendulin and bitters.
Actions:
Anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic, lymphatic, astringent, vulnerary, emmenagogue, anti-microbial.
Properties and Uses:
stubborn wounds, ulcers, bed sores, varicose veins, bruises, rashes, eczema, burns, scraps, sore nipples, rashes and skin irritations.
Calendula can be used in a number of ways, mashing the petals up for use in a poultice, making an infused oil, used topically as an infusion, or even taken internally as a nourishing and uplifting tea. The flowers can be eaten in salads or you can even use the petals as an addition to biscuits and cakes for extra healing power!
Using the cream, apply to the affected area. This cream can be applied to open wounds, but make sure they have formed a scab (you can use the cream around the freshly wounded area), and always give wounds time to dry out so they can heal properly.

Recipe:
A cream is a thick substance, created using oil components and water components and making them bind together to form a liquid with a firm and creamy consistency. This is usually done using emulsifying wax, which I do not really like using if  I can help it. I use a blender and the miracle coconut oil!

Waters:
125ml (25 tsp) Calendula infusion >Calendula infused in hot water and left to stand for as long as possible
1 tsp Glycerine

Oils:
200ml (16 tsp) Calendula infused oil > Calendula infused in olive oil for 1 month
50g (10 tsp) coconut oil
25g (5 tsp) beeswax

Mix all of the oils together in a bain marie over the stove. When all combined put in a blender and blend until creamy.
Add the waters a little at a time, until completely combined with a thick and creamy consistency.
Place in a jar and label with the herb, ingredients and date.
This should last for about three months, but if kept in the fridge will last longer. You can add vitamin C powder as a preservative, but this will not act like a commercial preservative. Home made herbal preparations have shorter life spans because they are real and living, and have less chemical derived preservatives. Its a small price to pay for lush homemade medicines!

Chickweed Lotion:
Stellaria media
Constituents:
High in vitamin C, vitamin A, and vitamin B, and the minerals calcium, iron, potassium, copper, sodium, phosphorus, and zinc.

Ascorbic-acid, Beta-carotene, Coumarins, Genistein, Gamma-linolenic-acid, Flavonoids, Hentriacontanol, Magnesium, Niacin, Oleic-acid, Riboflavin, Rutin, Selenium, Triterpenoid saponins and Thiamin.
Actions:astringent, carminative, demulcent, diuretic, expectorant, laxative, refrigerant, vulnerary.
Properties and Uses:
Chickweed is an amazing herb for the skin, it has a cooling action, making it great for burns, itchiness and rashes. It reduces swollen glands, carries unnecessary fats from the body, can be used for eye complaints such as conjunctivitis and can be used for bronciol infections due to its expectorant properties.
Use the lotion to rub on the skin when insects sting you, for minor burns and scalds and to alleviate itching.

Recipe: A lotion is a low viscosity topical preparation for use on unbroken skin. Usually an aqeuous solution with an oil or alcohol content.

30ml (6 tsp) chickweed succus (fresh chickweed juice in alcohol, 1 part chickweed juice to 3 parts alcohol)
30ml (6 tsp) chickweed infused oil (see the oil recipes below and follow the same method using chickweed)
130ml (8 tbs) chickweed infusion (1 part chickweed to 3 parts boiled water, steeped for 4hrs or more)
8g (1.5 tsp) Borax

Mix all ingredients together and shake well!

Insect Repellant Oil:
This is a mixture of different herbs that smell quite strong and have amazing repelling qualities for both the garden and for us!
It is a mix of Rue (Ruta graveolens), Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) and Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis).
This is a recipe used by one of my most loved herbalists, Juliette de Bairacli Levy.


Recipe:
Fill a jar with equal parts Rosemary, Wormwood and Rue.
Pour oil over the top (I use olive, coconut or sunflower)
Make sure all plant material is under the oil so it doesn't oxidize and go mouldy, you may need to use a weight to do this.
Cap and keep in a cool and dark place for 1-2 months.
As the plant material absorbs the oil you will need to keep topping it up, perhaps once a week.


Sunburn Oil This makes a great oil to relieve our tired skin of the suns potent rays!

Recipe:
Fill a jar with equal parts St Johns Wort herb and Aloe Vera Gel
Pour oil over the top
Make sure all plant material is under the oil so it doesn't oxidize and go mouldy, you may need to use a weight to do this.
Cap and keep in a cool and dark place for 1-2 months.
As the plant material absorbs the oil you will need to keep topping it up, perhaps once a week.


Ginger Tincture:

Constituents:
Ginger contains volatile oils, pungent principles (gingerols and shogaols), lipids composed of triglycerides, phosphatidic acid, lecithins, free fatty acids (lamic, palmitic, stearic, oleic, linoleic, etc.), proteins, starch, vitamins (especially niacin and A), minerals, amino acids and resins. 

Actions:
Antiemetic, Diaphoretic, Carminative, Circulatory stimulant, Anti-inflammatory, Antiseptic.
Properties and Uses:
Ginger's active ingredients, gingerol and shogaol, relieve nausea, regardless of its cause. It has been theorized that these ingredients quiet the part of the brain that causes vomiting.

Ginger also has an anti-inflammatory effect; it seems to regulate the chemicals that cause inflammation. And because it is calming to the gastrointestinal tract, it can cause fewer problems than synthetic anti-inflammatory drugs, which in many people trigger major stomach upsets.
It also inhibits platelet aggregation (clumping), which is common in people with coronary artery disease, so it may also be good for heart problems. And its warming effect is good for the general circulation.

Recipe: This tincture can be used for travel sickness, nausea, shock, digestion and stomach upsets. It can also be used as an alcohol rub on feet and hands to stimulate circulation.

Fill a jar with grated ginger
Pour alcohol over the ginger (I use brandy, but vodka is good and I have also used gin at times)
Once again, make sure all the plant material is covered, as you do not want it to go moldy!
Leave in a cool dark place for 1-2 months. 


During the workshop we discuss some more things which can be added to the first aid kit in time, as well as foraging tips and drying techniques.

The next workshop will be on October the 12th in Belgrave, Victoria.
For bookings contact: thepermapixie@gmail.com