Rosemary tea was very popular with the participants at my talk on Sunday.
Here is how you make it and a little bit of information about Rosemary:
Take a sprig of fresh rosemary, leaves and green stalks are fine, avoid the brown ones. About 2" (5cm) is fine.
Put your rosemary in a café tier, teapot (you'll need a strainer) or infuser mug and pour boiling water from the kettle onto it. Now cover it with a lid or plate. Leave to infuse for 5-10 minutes, strain and drink.
Rosemary - Rosmarinus officinalis
Main actions: astringent, carminative, helps memory.
Harvest time: May to September.
Parts used: leaves and flowers.
Both the leaves and the oil of rosemary have long been used in Mediterranean medicine. The properties are described by Dioscorides, Plinius and Galen. The Arabic physicians considered it one of the most valuable items in the materia medica (medicinal herbs used at the time). Rosemary stimulates the metabolism, enhancing the burning and consumption of blood sugars and fat. It therefore warms and cleans throughout the body. It is thought to be strengthening to the arteries, stomach, intestines, gall passages and heart. It is indicated for a cold, sluggish gallbladder condition where there is pale, yellowish complexion, slow digestion, bitter taste in the mouth and lack of energy.
Myths and legends:
Students studying in ancient Greece used to entwine rosemary twigs in their hair to improve their memories.
At the time of the Black Death, the herb was burnt indoors to prevent the risk of contagion and was used in churches as a cheap substitute for incense. Mourners at funerals carried a sprig of Rosemary to prevent infection from the corpse and threw the sprigs into the grave with the coffin to prevent the spread of disease. It was burnt with juniper berries in sick rooms and hospitals to prevent contagion.
Rosemary was an emblem of fertility and was used in marriage festivals. In Spain and Italy it was believed to protect the wearer from magical spells. Rosemary leaves put under the bed were supposed to stop bad dreams. Arab physicians put powdered rosemary on the umbilical cords of newborn babies as an astringent antiseptic.
Rosemary was a charm against snake bites and the stings of venomous insects. The leaves and flowers were tied in a small bag and hung around the necks of children. There was a superstition that were Rosemary blossomed in a garden the woman was the head of the household. Apparently men were believed to secretly damage the bushes lest they be ridiculed for their lack of power.
Rosemary is a stimulant to the nervous system and being hot and dry, is useful where the body is cold and sluggish and needs pepping up to dispel cold and phlegm, one of the four humours. Used for depression, lethargy, dizziness, poor memory and concentration and migraine due to feeling cold, and any disease of excess phlegm. Rosemary increases the blood flow to the head and helps concentration and wakefulness. It is useful as a stimulant for complicated mental tasks when caffeine has to be avoided.
Warning: Avoid if there is a history of high blood pressure, and during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
As a solar herb it is a heart tonic, causing it to beat more strongly, whilst increasing the circulation of the blood, so the herb is especially for those with cold limbs, chilblains and poor circulation. It will raise low blood pressure. It is a digestive and liver remedy and is especially useful for wind, colic and indigestion and the bloated feeling after meals. It helps to digest fatty or rich foods. Rosemary has been used as a remedy and as a preventative against hardening of the arteries or arteriosclerosis.
Rosemary works on the heart chakra and is generally cleansing to the aura, chasing away dark jealous thoughts. It opens the heart and allows the warmth of the midday sun inside, where there is grief, anger, hatred and bitterness. It lets love and joy into the heart.
To make a bath of rosemary you just use a bigger quantity, about a handful, to make the tea as above and once it has infused add it to your bath. You can also make a footbath in the same way.
Rosehips are commonly found in hedgerows at this time of year. The following information is taken from a course I ran a few years ago. I hope you find it interesting.
Rosehips are sour and astringent and in Greek medicine they were classified as cooling and drying. Maude Grieve (1931) says they are useful for 'diarrhoea and dysentery and, allaying thirst'. They are also useful for 'coughs and spitting of blood' due to heat and irritation. Avicenna, the great medical authority, cured bloody expectoration (coughing up blood) with rose jelly alone (not stated if from petals or hips) and subsequent to this, it became established as a treatment for tuberculosis. This is certainly a condition where we would have heat/ irritation and bleeding and therefore a cooling astringent herb is perfectly indicated.
In more recent times rosehips have used on the premise that they are high in Vitamin C. They are also considered to be antioxidant. The petals, sepals, hips, leaves, stalks, roots, root bark, and thorns have all been used traditionally. The wild rose was the standard remedy for rabies in Roman times. According to Plinius, the mother of a centurion who dreamed her son had been bitten by a dog introduced this usage during the Augustian period. She also dreamed of the remedy for him. After his recovery the emperor publicised this usage.
The hips and petals are used for acute inflammatory conditions of the respiratory tracts including sore throats, free nasal secretions or obstructions. It is also a remedy for chronic inflammation. It is indicated in the weakness of convalescence, old age and delicate children. Rose also acts on the in the digestive tract including diarrhoea and dysentery and stubborn inflammatory conditions. Maurice Messegue (1979) recommended it to counteract the ill effects of antibiotics on intestinal flora. Herbalist Phyllis Light uses rose hips 'when the mucous membranes needs to be dried up and cooled down' and for constipation with mucous.
During the second world war rosehips were collected to make syrup for their vitamin C content. By the end of the war 2000 tons had been collected. The following recipe was recommended by Mary Thorne Quelch in 19456.
'Wash four pounds of ripe hips in lukewarm water and put in an enamel pan. Cover well with water and bring to the boil. Simmer until tender and mash with a wooden spoon. Put into a flannel jelly-bag and squeeze out the juice. Return the pulp to the pan and add the same quantity of water as you did at first. Bring to the boil and simmer for five to ten minutes. Put into the jelly bag and squeeze. Empty the jelly-bag and wash it thoroughly. Mix the two lots of juice and pour into the clean bag. This time do not squeeze but hang up over a basin and leave to drip all night. By this method perfectly clear juice is obtained, free from all harmful seeds and hairs. It is very important the juice should be thus carefully strained. Return the juice to the saucepan and boil till it is reduced to three pints. Add two and a quarter pounds of sugar, stir till dissolved, then boil for 5 minutes. Bottle while hot and seal down immediately. Store in a dark cupboard. Fifteen drops divided into two portions is the daily dose for a baby. Older children should take a teaspoonful at least twice daily.'
This delicious drink is laborious to make because of the fine, irritant hairs surrounding the central seed must be excluded. The hips themselves can be nibble carefully – eating just the outer layer – and along with other edible berries must have been an important source of Vitamin C during past winter. It should be noted that a lot if not all Vitamin C is destroyed on heating, this suggests that the herbal syrup had other beneficial constituents.
When to consult the herbalist:
If you are taking any medications, if you have other health issues you would like to address, if you want something tailored to your individual needs or if the above remedies are not suiting you. The herbalist will take a full case history including past medical history, drug history and family history and from this will devise a regime suitable for you.