House, Home and Health

Rosemary, Sage and Comfrey

Rosemary, Sage and Comfrey

Rosemary is an evergreen half-hardy shrub flowering in late winter or spring. Utilised traditionally, it was regularly used to make up a bitter tonic used for strengthening the digestion and improving liver-function. Rosemary is also used as a circulatory tonic, invaluable for all cases of poor circulation and aches and pains that are associated with the common cold. Long-term use of Rosemary tea will improve a whole range of symptoms relating to poor circulation. Rosemary also has a particular application to the head. When combined with chamomile, it can be used for the easing of headaches, and when used with cardamom it has been stated to assist in the alleviating of mild depression. Used on its own it is renowned for improving scalp condition, strengthening the growth of hair, and is even claimed to prevent premature baldness.

Another traditional use for Rosemary was that mourners would carry a sprig to the graveyard and throw this into the grave as a symbol of remembrance. This is more, however, than merely a symbol, as Rosemary really does strengthen the memory by improving blood flow to the head and by stimulating the nervous system. These are ancient and traditional remedies but they should not necessarily be completely ignored as they are increasingly being verified by modern scientific research and updated in modern uses and remedies. Native to the Mediterranean region, the plant is now common to the British Isles; essential oils from the plant have a myriad of uses when used alone or in combination is with other herbs and oils. And who is not aware of the fantastic flavour of Rosemary, particularly with meat, and especially lamb. It is an evergreen aromatic shrub that usually grows to approximately 1 and a half to 2 m high with long, dark green spikes containing narrow opposite leaves, and when flowering produces pale blue and light purple flowers in abundance.

The traditional use of rosemary is typically represented by the following extract from “The Herball or Generall Historie of Plants by John Gerard in 1597;
” The distilled water of Rosemary flowers being drunke at morning and evening first and last, taketh away the stench of the mouth and breathe, and maketh it very sweet, if there be added thereto, to steep or infuse for certaine dais, a few cloves, mace, cinnamon and a little aniseed.”
As with many of our common or garden cooking herbs, Sage originates in the Mediterranean although now can withstand the temperatures and frosts of the British Isles once established. It has a pungent aroma and strong taste, and in cooking is used to flavour richer meats such as duck and game. For centuries Sage has been highly regarded for its medicinal properties, as represented by the saying “Why should a man die whilst Sage grows in his garden?”

Traditionally used as a general tonic it is particularly good for the alleviation of tiredness that typically follows a viral infection. Sage is reputed to assist in toning the central nervous system and lifts the spirits. Sage has a high resin content, which makes it a useful antiseptic and slightly sticky; an ideal combination for treating sore throats, mouth and gum infections. Sage is a favourite of the traditional and modern-day herbalist, used regularly for gargles mouthwashes and tooth powders. It is also useful for hair treatment as the following recipe elaborates. The following poem by Sir John Harrington, in his book “The Englishman’s Doctor” of the early 17th century, wonderfully expresses the properties and high regard with which Sage has been traditionally held;
“Sage strengthens sinews, fevers heat doth swage
The palsy helps, and rids of muckle woe.
In Latin, Salvia takes the name of safety.
In English Sage is rather wise than crafty.
Sith then the name betokens wise and saving.
We count it nature’s friend and worth the having.”

Sage is a strongly aromatic grey green shrub that grows to approximately 60 cm/1 foot in height. Its leaves grow in an opposite manner and are slightly wrinkled on the top side and densely hairy beneath; its flowers are violet-blue and white. Another traditional herb of the Mediterranean it is now very popular in herb gardens of Great Britain.

The name Comfrey originates from the Greek meaning “unites” and is traditionally recognized for its ability to knit together broken bones. Indeed its traditional British, country name is “knitbone” as it was placed over an injury in a compress to provide support to a damaged bone before the days of plaster casts.

It was also eaten like the tender leaves of spinach; namely raw or lightly steamed, but special caution should be taken here, as modern medicine has suspicions that eating large quantities in this manner may be harmful. There are two or three varieties of comfrey in the British Isles but over 20 worldwide. The flowering tops of comfrey contain calcium, potassium phosphorus and vitamin B12. Comfrey is a common sight along rivers and pathways; its leaves, being a 150 to 200 mm long, extending down the stem like wings, with purple, violet or pinkish tubular flowers displayed in coiled sprays.
In addition to its traditional bone healing properties, comfrey poultices have been used to aid the healing of bruises and sores. Comfrey ointment is good for skin inflammation and various other mild skin disorders, including eczema; a traditional homoeopathic remedy for the treatment of skin tears. It can also be used as an infusion or tincture. The following recipe utilises comfrey’s healing properties on bumps, grazes and damaged skin.

For your hair: Sage and Rosemary Hair Rinse.
Utilising the generally-accepted antibacterial properties of the herbs, this rinse helps reduce dandruff and actively promotes a healthy scalp. The Sage adds shine to the hair, whilst the combination of the herbs provides a healthy sheen, particularly noticeable on dark hair. The hair rinse will keep for up to a week in the fridge and did his best to make the rinse the day before you use it used directly from the bottle after regular washing and shampooing leave in the rent is for up to 30 minutes and wash rinse and dry as normal.

You will need
* 50 g/2 ounces fresh rosemary sprigs
* 50 g/2 ounces fresh or dried sage leaves
* 600 mL/1 pint of boiling water
* Kitchen scissors
* Kitchen sieve
* Heatproof bowl
* Bottles of storage, with well fitting stoppers

With your kitchen scissors, simply snip the fresh rosemary into heat proof bowl. Make sure not to include the woody stems.
Add to this bowl, the sage leaves and carefully pour the boiling water on top of the herbs.
Leave the herbs to infuse into the water for at least two hours.
After the stated period and when cooled, strain the infusion into a jug through the kitchens sieve.
Carefully transfer from the jug into bottles and keep in the fridge until required.

If you are suffering from mild dandruff or scurf, then the addition of a little borax to the rinse will reduce this if used regularly after your normal hair wash and shampoo

For your skin.
Comfrey ointment.

You will need
* 25 g /1 ounce comfrey leaves
* 30 mL/2 tablespoons of melted beeswax.
* 150 mL/a quarter of a pint of almond oil or olive oil.
* 30 mL/2 tablespoons of cocoa butter.
* 10 mL/2 teaspoons of honey.
* 5 mL/1 teaspoon of borax.

(The addition of a small amount of borax in this ointment helps to preserve it). Carefully pour 600 mL/1 pint of boiling water over the comfrey leaves in heatproof jug.
Leave to cool and then strain on to another jug.
Carefully melt the beeswax in heat proof bowl over some gently simmering water.
When melted, add the beeswax to the almond oil in another bowl over a pan of hot water.
Whilst this mixture is fluid and slightly melted, stirred in the cocoa butter.
In another pan, place 150 mL/ quarter of a pint of the comfrey infusion.
Warm gently and stir the mixture as you spoon in the honey and borax.
When mixed, pour this mixture into the bowl of oil, beeswax and cocoa butter and remove from the heat.
Continue to mix and beat the mixture gently but steadily, whilst it thickens and cools (you could use an electric whisk this part of the process).
Whilst the mixture is still slightly runny, pour into pots, label and seal.

You may find it useful to use a warm spoon and to keep the beeswax over a pan of warm water as it tends to set quickly when cool. The cocoa butter is solid but melts easily at approximately body temperature. As the ointment contains a little borax it will keep for longer, but should be used within three months.

For your mind.
Relaxing Shakespearean tea.
Shakespeare is reputed to have mentioned these herbs in his works. This recipe that uses traditional herbs and flowers and is reputed to have the ability to conjure up the Bard’s spirit, but is more traditionally used for its relaxing benefits. As with most herbal recipes and remedies it is best to collect most herbs and flowers during the early morning.

You will need
* Rosehips
* Scented Rose
* Thyme
* Lemon balm.
* Lavender flowers.

Remove the tops and tails from the rosehips and carefully chop into quarters.
Place in your teapot.
Gently pull the petals from the Roses and tear and bruise gently.
Put the petals into your teapot.
(It is recommended to avoid florists’ roses, as they may have been sprayed with insecticides.)
Gently bruise and chop the sprig of thyme and add to this to the teapot with the petals.
To this add three to four sprigs of lemon balm and lavender flower heads.
Pour boiling water onto these ingredients and leave to infuse for five minutes.
As with normal tea, strain into a cup and find a peaceful corner to relax and enjoy.

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