Thursday, 13 August 2015

Comfrey  Symphytum officinalis

Pick the leaves of comfrey from the banks of streams, canals and other damp places where it likes to grow, then dip them in boiling water for a minute or so to make them soft and pliable, them wrap them around a muscle sprain, damaged tendon or fractured bone, before covering the whole area with a bandage. This will speed up healing. 

You can make a comfrey ointment by adding clean comfrey leaves to oil in a saucepan, being careful not to let the oil come to the boil. The leaves will wilt and you can keep adding more until all the oil has been taken up. Strain the oil through muslin and stand upside down until all the watery part has come to the surface. Pour this away and add a few drops of essential oil of rosemary or lavender. You can transform the oil into ointment by adding a little beeswax.

There are two good reasons why you should only use comfrey externally. One is that it contains pyrollizidine alkaloids, which can be harmful to the liver if taken in large quantities, although completely harmless when applied to the skin. The other reason is because it is possible to confuse the leaves of comfrey with the leaves of foxglove when they are not in flower. Foxglove leaves contain cardioactive glycosides, which, if taken in large quantities cause dizziness, headache, coma and eventually death. Again foxglove leaves do no harm if applied to the skin. They probably do not do much good either. 

Calendula officinale

Today I picked some to the calendula flowers that I have been growing in my allotment.

I spread them out on a clean cloth on the table to dry

and added them to the already drying flowers.

When they are dry I will add them to some sunflower seed oil, packing as many of the bright orange petals in as possible and leave them to infuse into the oil.
I will strain the oil through clean muslin when it has become bright orange and I may warm it and add a little beeswax to make a healing ointment.

Calendula has anti-bacterial properties and will speed up the healing of wounds.

It's very easy to grow calendula and each plant makes a multitude of seeds.

The Romans brought calendula seeds with them when they came to live in Britain. 

Wednesday, 9 July 2014



Plantain, Plantago major leaves contain soothing mucilage, and tannins which speed up the blood clotting process as well as the wound-healing allantoin. The leaves also contain antibiotic compounds, so a tea made from the leaves will soothe an irritating cough. You can also make an ointment from the leaves by steeping them in hot (but not boiling) oil, straining through muslin, then mixing with beeswax .