It's that time of year again here in Wales, and whilst we celebrate the longer bright days and blue skies many of us dread the arrival of summer with the impending doom of the dreaded pollen. Hayfever affects many people in varying degrees and let me tell you it can be debilitating. I have suffered needlessly in the past and I have had extreme symptoms, hot read itchy eyes, itchy throat, constant sneezing and tiredness to go with it.
COMMON ELDER | Sambucus Nigra | As it is currently elderflower season and many excited foragers are out there hunting for elderflowers to turn into cordials, icecreams, jams etc. It brings to mind the wonderful medicinal properties that the elder tree has and how we can use our native trees and plants to heal common ailments. Common elder is a bushy, shrublike, small tree. It has attractive green foliage, the leaves have 5-7 leaflets attached to each twig. The flowers of the elder tree appear in early summer, they are sweetly fragrant and grow in large, flat topped umbels. The flowers turn into berries, they hang in heavy drooping clusters which ripen in early Autumn. Birds love to eat them!
Several properties are as follows:
Elderflower is especially beneficial for treating symptoms which affect the respiratory system. Herbalists traditionally used it to treat colds, swelling of the nasal passageways and fever.
NETTLE | Urtica Dioica | is a powerhouse of vitamins and minerals and has many wonderful healing actions. It is nutrient dense and very rich in iron. It is one of my absolute favourite medicinal plants growing abundantly here in the UK. The young nettle leaves can be eaten early in the season, as soon as they are blanched or cooked they lose their sting. Just to mention a few of the relevant actions of this wonderful herbal ally.
Several properties are as follows:
With these medicial plants you are going to make a 'tea' of sorts. What is important is that you cover it, this is to protect the volatile oils from evaporating, also if possible leave it to infuse for 2 - 4 hours. Infusing for longer, you can be sure that you extract all of the wonderful healing properties from the plant material. Ideally make this in the morning when you rise, allow to infuse and drink several cups a day. If there is any left over, it can be stored in the fridge for the next day. I tend to make my infusions in a kilner jar.
My small kilner jar, as seen in the photo holds 400mls of water. To this I have added just 1tspn each of dried nettle and elderflower. It is that simple! Cover and infuse. If the infusion is for a child. Let the infusion cool, I would give them roughly 1/5 of a mug (40mls) of the infusion and to this I would water it down with some apple juice and honey or cordial. Give them 2-4 small cups of this per day. I often put herbal infusions in a drink bottle for my daughter, with apple juice added, she sips this throughout the day. Another good tip is to start taking this infusion a week or two before your hayfever symptoms normally start. Be prepared next year!
Many of you won't be as eager as me to go out foraging for your remedies, that is ok, you can purchase both, dried online. If you decide to go picking them in the wild be sure to identify your plants correctly and always only take what you need. Do not pick anything from the side of the road and make sure it hasn't been sprayed with chemicals. If you are picking elderflower, pick a couple of flower heads from several mature trees. This way you are leaving enough flowers to turn into berries which are my absolute favourite winter tonic, I must include that in another blog post! You are also leaving enough for nature and wildlife. Please be respectful, I cannot stress enough how important this is.
Safety | As with all medicinal plants there can be interactions with prescribed medication. Please seek advice from your doctor or healthcare practitioner, if you intend on taking a natural remedy. Please seek advice during pregnancy.
Susun S Weed *Herbal For The Childbearing year
Pamela Michael *Edible Wild Plants & Herbs