If you have recently been out for walk you may have noticed beautiful crimson red berries growing on the trees. These are hawthorn berries which traditionally have been used as heart medicine and were much praised for their cardio protective ability by having hypotensive and anti arrhythmic action and also acting as coronary and peripheral vasodilator.
The medicinal benefits of hawthorn are due to number of constituents, particularly the oligomeric procyanidins (OPC’s) and flavonoids that have been confirmed to have beneficial effect on the heart through:
Except cardio protective abilities, hawthorn berries have been also used as a relaxant and mild diuretic for both children and elderly.
Whereas hawthorn has been much recognized for its medicinal action in the kitchen it has been completely forgotten and it is shame as it tastes really delicious especially in cakes. This hawthorn cake recipe it was more experimental than anything else but it came out simply divine. It is a bit time consuming but all worth it by the end.
Ingredients for the cake:
2 whole eggs
1 glass of flour
¼ glass of sugar
2 tbs of double fat cream
2tbs of coconut oil
4tbs of milk
1tbs baking powder
1L of ripe hawthorn berries
75g of baking margarine
Hayfever also known as allergic rhinitis or pollinitis, a seasonal condition characterized by number of symptoms such as runny nose, red and itchy eyes, swelling and sneezing that may trigger more dangerous condition such as difficulty in breathing and asthma. It is estimated that around 10 million people suffers from allergic rhinitis in the UK and further more may be affected.
The orthodox treatment for allergic rhinitis usually involves symptomatic relief with antihistamines and corticosteroids that are used over short period of time as longer term of use may produce unwanted side effects such as weight gain, acne, drowsiness and mood swings.
Herbal medicine also offers symptomatic relief from allergic rhinitis based on herbs that have been used traditionally to combat mucus production and modulate immune response. For instance Eyebright (Euphrasia officinalis) has been used traditionally for red, watery and itchy eyes and also conditions associated specifically with mucus membranes. Having an anti-inflammatory, astringent and anticatarrahal action makes a valuable remedy for allergic rhinitis as well as sinusitis and other upper respiratory conditions. Eyebright has been also found to an effective remedy externally for conjunctivitis and for that reason it has been also employed in cosmetics to reduce eye swelling.
Another herb used also specifically for hay fever is Elderflower (Sambucus nigra). The flower of the Elder tree has diaphoretic (sweat inducing), anticatarrahal and antispasmodic properties. It reduces mucus production, improves nasal drainage and decreases nasal congestion. Elderflower anti spasmodic action may also help with asthma as it relives bronchospasm and aids in the elimination of toxins as it induces sweating. The Elder tree has truly medicinal properties as the berries have been shown to be effective against influenza virus type A and B and the leaves applied externally may also effective for bruising.
Less known but also a good traditional remedy for hayfever is Ground Ivy (Glechoma hederacea). Ground ivy has also anticattarahal, astringent, diaphoretic and expectorant properties. While it cleanses mucus membranes it also works through reducing build of mucus in the bronchi as well as fighting middle ear infections. It naturally contains vitamin C, as well as flavonoids, tannins, saponins and volatile oils (if you rub leaves they are quiet unpleasant) therefore it may also help to strengthen immune system.
Another herb that is worth mentioning for hayfever is plantain (Plantago lanceolata). Plantain is also rich is vitamin C but also in iridoids (aucubin, catalpol), flavonoids (Apigenin, luteolin, scutellarin, baicalein, nepetin, plantagosides), tannins, oleanoic acid and plant acids. It has demulcent (soothing), anti inflammatory, astringent and anti microbial action which not only soothes the mucus membranes but also draws out fluids upwards. Plantain is a gentle but powerful herb that also may work on bronchitis, coughs, dysentery, cystitis and diarrhea. Many herbalist uses plantain today for inflamed gums and teeth problems and externally for wound healing.
There are of course many other herbs that are used for hayfever and each prescription is made accordingly to the patients needs. It has to be remembered however that herbal remedies for hayfever are made of combination of herbs not singular ones and if you are unsure please contact your local health practitioner/ herbalist to assess your suitability for the treatment.
If you have been recently wondering about white/creamy flowers arranged in clusters on a tree you have probably seen an Elder tree. The Elder tree (Sambucus nigra) flowers come into bloom beginning of June until July when they can be harvested in whole clusters. If you decide to harvest Elder flowers leave more than a half on the tree as bees love Elderflower and birds feed off the berries in the autumn.
The Elder tree has a rich traditional history of medicinal properties, the flowers can be used in delicious tea, added to bakes, used in cordial and tincture and the berries in winter syrups (much like Sambucol), wines, vodkas (Sambuca) and cakes. The flowers of the Elder tree are rich in flavonoids, phenolic acids, triterpenes, volatile oils, sterols and tannins. Elderflower has anticatarrhal, anti inflammatory and diuretic properties which makes it a perfect remedy for Hay fever, sinus congestion and colds. Elderflower is a gentle herb that can be used by children however pregnant and lactating women should consult their GP before taking elderflower.
To make elderflower cordial you will need:
It may not look as appetizing as you think but this vegetarian nettle soup recipe with mushrooms is simply delicious. Over the years I heard so much positive reviews about nettles and their health benefits that I have decided to try it out myself. If you are wondering why I have used nettles, here is some information about this wonderful herb.
Nettle (Urtica dioica) is a fairly common plant and much undervalued from culinary and health perspective. Nettle is rich in vitamin A, B6, C, calcium, magnesium, iron and boron which may not only help support your healthy bones, hair and nails but may also help you with anemia and fatigue due to iron and vitamin C content. Nettle is not only nutritious but also some studies suggest that it may help with arthritic pains due to elimination of uric acid from joints, prostate enlargement (root), anti asthmatic and anti allergenic (reducing histamine release) as well as antilithic (preventing kidney stones).
Mushrooms are fantastic source of proteins and minerals and they also bring wonderful taste to the nettle soup.
To make nettle and mushrooms soup you will need:
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