15 April 2019
Tips from the herbalist
Tips from The Exmoor Herbalist: April
The spring equinox (when night and day are of equal length) has passed, the hedgerows are bright with green, and flowers are starting to show their stunning colours - spring is officially here in all its glory! More below from the Exmoor Herbalist Jane Wallwork.
"And frosts are slain and flowers begotten
And in green underworld and cover
Blossom by blossom the spring begins."
- A. C. Swinburne, When the Hounds of Spring.
Sweet violets are one of the earliest plants to bloom amidst the hedgerows, woodland edges and here in the herb field at Organic Herb Trading. The vivid purple flowers stand out against a mass of heart-shaped glossy leaves, a tenacious and delightful little plant ally, spreading by means of creeping runners. The violet leaf harvested by our Herb Field Manager Sarah has been dried with love and care and is a truly vibrant and beautiful product now available for many uses.
Violet leaf tea is a popular remedy, gentle enough to give to children and the elderly. It alleviates tension headaches, sore throats, coughs, and acts as an anti-inflammatory for arthritis and rheumatism because of its salycilate content. It is also a mild remedy for constipation acting as a soothing laxative. As a mild sedative violet leaf can help with insomnia and again is delicate enough for children. From a more adult perspective, if one has overdone the organic wine a touch, then the cooling properties of this helpful plant can help that tense nervous hangover, just add a teaspoon of dried violet leaves to a mug of boiling water and allow to steep for five minutes before straining and drinking. This cooled brew can also be used to make a compress to relieve pain and skin irritations externally along with making a cooling eyewash for soothing sore eyes.
A violet leaf honey remedy can be prepared using dried leaf and local honey to make a palatable medicine for children for throat and chest issues. Fill a small jar half full with dried violet leaf and pour over some runny honey. Keep in a warm place for around two weeks and then strain ready for use.
To make a cooling, soothing and healing salve for stressed and irritated skin and to help with wound healing, first make an infused oil of violet leaf. Half fill a clean jar with the leaves and add some apricot or almond oil. Leave to infuse for a month and then strain. If you have a slow cooker, place the jar of herb and oil in some water and place on a low heat for 24-48 hours, then strain. To make 100ml of violet balm, heat the infused oil with 10g of beeswax until the wax has melted, stirring well. This can then be placed in pots to solidify before use. A fragrant addition to the salve would be sixty drops of violet leaf essential oil. This has a green leafy odour with a sweet and floral undertone. It is perfect for soothing eczema, refining pores, treating acne, reducing redness and thread veins and healing wounds.
The heart-shaped leaves assure violets place as a plant of love and they are considered the true flower of Valentines day as when imprisoned, Saint Valentine wrote a letter using the juice as ink. They offer protection, healing, luck and peace and are a symbol of constancy, much needed in uncertain times. A truly joyous plant ally for our world.