Tag Archives: Bradford Angier

The Curative Powers of Blackberry Cordial


Blackberry bushI love raspberries and blackberries, and grow red raspberries in the garden among my bounding mint patch. The berries only recently succumbed to hard frost, but were producing right up until it hit. My dear grandmother grew red raspberries and this variety is much like hers. I did a little digging and discovered more about the bramble family. Raspberries and blackberries are native to North America. Some kinds are thorny, others thornless, and there’s a wide variation in taste and color. They thrive in all 50 states and Canada.

From Field Guide to Wild Plants by Bradford Angier, a wonderfully informative book given to me by my grandmother years ago. Mr. Angier has also written many other volumes. (This Amazon link takes you to the second edition of his book, I have the first).

“Juice and wine made from the berries is still used in Appalachia to combat diarrhea. The berries and their juice were long used by many Indian tribes to rid their members of chronic stomach trouble and to allay vomiting. It was considered effective in preventing miscarriage. It is astringent and believed generally beneficial to digestion, being thought mild enough to control diarrhea and dysentery even among infants and children. Early Americans sometimes combined it with honey and alum to tighten loose teeth. The settlers also came to use the juice to dissolve tartar on the teeth. It was turned to by numerous tribes to cure cankers of the mouth and gums.

Blackberry blossomsThe juice was also turned to by many Indians and pioneers to lessen menstrual flow without suddenly ending it entirely. When the bowels were loose it was drunk instead of tea or coffee. It was thought to ease nausea, be an antacid, and act as a parturient (aids in birth). Many a colonial deemed his medicine chest incomplete if it did not contain blackberry brandy or cordial.”

This is how strongly they believed in its curative and stomach soothing properties, which I can also vouch for. Blackberry leaves were gathered after the dew was off them, dried at room temperature, not in the sun, and stored in tightly capped jars in dark cupboards. A level teaspoon of the dried leaves were steeped in a boiling cup of water, then drunk cold, 2 cups a day, as a tonic or blood purifier. It was thought helpful to give to mothers in childbirth and during delivery. A potent tea was applied to sores and used as a gargle and mouthwash. Strong healing teas were also made from the blackberry roots and bark (steeped fresh, or from the dried bark/roots) as a tonic, for treating diarrhea, upset stomachs, whooping cough, labor pains…

An old standby from the McNess Company is great for soothing troubled digestion. McNess salesmen used to go door to door, and we had a kind elderly gentleman, but they no longer do. It’s called Aromatic Compound and is a liquid medicinal blend made from extracts of blackberry, rhubarb, and ginger with anise and clove oil. If you’re interested in getting a bottle, visit the link to their site.

Anne of Green GablesAnne of Green Gables fans will remember the scene (I watched the series) where Anne is delighted to host a tea party for her friend Diana. She’s particularly proud to serve a special bottle of Marilla’s raspberry cordial, but mistakenly offers Diana currant wine, not meant to be imbibed by the tumbler full (3 of them) as it’s alcoholic. The inevitable happens and causes much distress, which is eventually overcome. Those of you interested in making raspberry cordial, and/or catching up on Anne of Green Gables, will enjoy visiting this blog post: http://thehistorykitchen.com/2012/07/20/anne-of-green-gables-raspberry-cordial/

“Faierie-Folks Are in Old Oaks.” ~Herbal Lore with Beth Trissel


“Where the yarrow grows there is one who know.”~
My fascination with herbs and herbal lore is largely prompted by my absorption with all things historic and the thrill of seeing, touching, tasting, and above all smelling the same plants known by the ancients. Herbs have changed little, if at all, over the centuries and offer us a connection with the past that precious little does in these modern days. It’s pure intoxication to rub fragrant leaves between my fingers and savor the scent while pondering the wealth of lore behind these plants. I hope my enthusiasm enriches your life with a deeper awareness of those people who dwelt on this earth long before us. With such a vast trove of plants to delve into, I’ve only done posts on a handful of herbs, but am working along on adding more. I also give online workshops on herbal lore and the historic medicinal use of herbs.
Regarding my resources, my favorite herbal ever, a massive two-part volume, is A Modern Herbal by Mrs. M. Grieve first published in 1931. It’s not actually all that modern, but is in comparison to those of the ancient Greek and Roman naturalists, Pliny the Elder (Roman, 23 AD–August 25, 79 AD) Dioscorides (Greek, circa 40—90 AD) and Galen (Roman of Greek ethnicity AD 129-199/217 AD), or British herbalists John Gerard (1545–1612) and Nicholas Culpepper (1616-1654).
Interesting here to note that Pliny the Elder, whose 37 volume Natural History served as the basis of scientific knowledge for centuries, died on August 25, 79 A.D. while attempting the rescue by ship of a friend and his family from the eruption of Mount Vesuvius that destroyed the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum. The prevailing wind wouldn’t allow his ship to leave the shore. His subsequent collapse and death were attributed to toxic fumes. Go figure. His nephew, Pliny the younger, writer, historian, and Roman senator is also an important figure because of all the letters he left behind detailing events and persons.
Back to Maude Grieve and A Modern Herbal, apparently in the early twentieth century it wasn’t illegal to include instructions for growing and distilling opiates, but it is now so I won’t. However, despite her quaintness or perhaps because of it, there’s a wealth of information in her herbal.
I’m also quite fond of Rodale’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs, by Rodale Press. I misplaced my original volume or foolishly lent it to someone, or perhaps it wasn’t mine to begin with and I returned it. All I know is it could not be found and so I bought another. Engrossing.
A little known volume I’ve found vastly useful regarding Native American plants and their historic uses is entitled Field Guide to Medicinal Wild Plants by Bradford Angier, published in 1978. This invaluable book was given to me by my dear late grandmother.
My collection is a rather random acquisition and I’m adding all the time, but I’ve learned a lot. OK, so those are my three faves out of all the herbals I’ve read, available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble. I’ve also come across innumerable online sites that I refer and link to as they arise.
somewhere_my_lass_final1 (1)In preparation for writing my Scottish time travel  romance, Somewhere My Lass, I did a lot of research on medieval hospitals and came across some fascinating sites. For medicinal info on ancient British/Scottish practices found at the monastic hospital of Soutra outside of Edinburgh visit: A Day In The Life Of A Medieval Hospital.
 For more on medieval hospitals in general visit this site:

“Here’s flowers for you; Hot lavender, mints, savoury, marjoram; The marigold, that goes to bed wi’ the sun, And with him rises weeping…”

William Shakespeare, 1611.

The Lure of Herbal Lore


“Faierie-Folks Are in Old Oaks.” ~ Old Herbal Saying
“Where the yarrow grows there is one who know.”~

My fascination with herbs and herbal lore is largely prompted by my absorption with all things historic and the thrill of seeing, touching, tasting, and above all smelling the same plants known by the ancients. Herbs have changed little, if at all, over the centuries and offer us a connection with the past that precious little does in these modern days. It’s pure intoxication to rub fragrant leaves between my fingers and savor the scent while pondering the wealth of lore behind these plants. I hope my enthusiasm enriches your life with a deeper awareness of those people who dwelt on this earth long before us. With such a vast trove of plants to delve into, I’ve only done posts on a handful of herbs, but am working along on adding more. I also give online workshops on herbal lore and the historic medicinal use of herbs.
Regarding my resources, my favorite herbal ever, a massive two-part volume, is A Modern Herbal by Mrs. M. Grieve first published in 1931. It’s not actually all that modern, but is in comparison to those of the ancient Greek and Roman naturalists, Pliny the Elder (Roman, 23 AD–August 25, 79 AD) Dioscorides (Greek, circa 40—90 AD) and Galen (Roman of Greek ethnicity AD 129-199/217 AD), or British herbalists John Gerard (1545–1612) and Nicholas Culpepper (1616-1654).
Interesting here to note that Pliny the Elder, whose 37 volume Natural History served as the basis of scientific knowledge for centuries, died on August 25, 79 A.D. while attempting the rescue by ship of a friend and his family from the eruption of Mount Vesuvius that destroyed the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum. The prevailing wind wouldn’t allow his ship to leave the shore. His subsequent collapse and death were attributed to toxic fumes. Go figure. His nephew, Pliny the younger, writer, historian, and Roman senator is also an important figure because of all the letters he left behind detailing events and persons.
Back to Maude Grieve and A Modern Herbal, apparently in the early twentieth century it wasn’t illegal to include instructions for growing and distilling opiates, but it is now so I won’t. However, despite her quaintness or perhaps because of it, there’s a wealth of information in her herbal.
I’m also quite fond of Rodale’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs, by Rodale Press. I misplaced my original volume or foolishly lent it to someone, or perhaps it wasn’t mine to begin with and I returned it. All I know is it could not be found and so I bought another. Engrossing.
A little known volume I’ve found vastly useful regarding Native American plants and their historic uses is entitled Field Guide to Medicinal Wild Plants by Bradford Angier, published in 1978. This invaluable book was given to me by my dear late grandmother.
My collection is a rather random acquisition and I’m adding all the time, but I’ve learned a lot. OK, so those are my three faves out of all the herbals I’ve read, available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble. I’ve also come across innumerable online sites that I refer and link to as they arise.
somewhere_my_lass_final1 (1)In preparation for writing my light paranormal romance, Somewhere My Lass, I did a lot of research on medieval hospitals and came across some fascinating sites. For medicinal info on ancient British/Scottish practices found at the monastic hospital of Soutra outside of Edinburgh visit: A Day In The Life Of A Medieval Hospital.
 For more on medieval hospitals in general visit this site:

“Here’s flowers for you; Hot lavender, mints, savoury, marjoram; The marigold, that goes to bed wi’ the sun, And with him rises weeping…”

William Shakespeare, 1611.