Tag Archives: Herbal

Coltsfoot–Herbal Cough Remedy


“Waters are distilled out of Herbs, Flowers, Fruits, and Roots.” ~Nicholas Culpeper

(Coltsfoot)

I often come across references to coltsfoot in my reading. My favorite is related by the beloved British Author Miss Read in her charming books about rural life in the small, fictional village called Thrush Green. In her Thrush Green collection, coltsfoot is a favorite herb in a concoction brewed by the eccentric herbalist, Dotty Harmer. The herb is native to England and Scotland, in grasslands and wastelands. It flowers in early spring and is one of the most popular ingredients in cough remedies. It’s generally given together with other herbs possessing soothing respiratory qualities, such as horehound, marshmallow, and ground ivy. Coltsfoot tea and coltsfoot rock, a confectionery product created from Coltsfoot extract, has long been a remedy for coughs.

(Owl Cat in one of my garden beds with catnip)

In A Modern Herbal Ms. Grieve says, “The botanical name, Tussilago, translates to ‘cough dispeller.’ Coltsfoot has been called ‘nature’s best herb for the lungs and her most eminent thoracic.’ Dioscorides, Galen, Pliny, Boyle, and other great authorities recommend the smoking of the leaves for a cough. Pliny recommended the use of both roots and leaves.”

Ms. Grieve goes on to say coltsfoot leaves are dominant in the medicinal blend called British Herb Tobacco. Other ingredients include: Buckbean, Eyebright, Betony, Rosemary, Thyme, Lavender, and Chamomile flowers. This herbal tobacco is reputed to relieve asthma and chronic bronchitis. She adds, “A decoction of coltsfoot is made of 1 OZ. of leaves, in 1 quart of water boiled down to a pint, sweetened with honey or liquorice, and taken frequently in teacupful doses for both colds and asthma.”

Liquorice has been cultivated in England since 1562, mentioned in Turner’s Herbal, and was popular by the time of Queen Elizabeth. But the plant, native to Southeast Europe and Southwest Asia, has an ancient history of use elsewhere. An extract of the root is made into a syrup, or administered in a powdered form. The most notable use for liquorice is in flavoring and candy, also a sought after remedy for soothing coughs, chest congestion, and the bladder and bowel. I take a powdered extract of the root in hot milk with a few drops of vanilla and a pinch of sugar.

This post is an excerpt from my herbal, Plants for A Medieval Herb Garden in the British Isles, available  in print and kindle at Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/Plants-Medieval-Garden-British-Isles-ebook/dp/B00IOGHYVU/

Nonfiction Herbal

An illustrated collection of plants that could have been grown in a Medieval Herb or Physic Garden in the British Isles. The major focus of this work is England and Scotland, but also touches on Ireland and Wales.

Information is given as to the historic medicinal uses of these plants and the rich lore surrounding them. Journey back to the days when herbs figured into every facet of life, offering relief from the ills of this realm and protection from evil in all its guises.

If You Love Herbs


Nonfiction Herbal

Nonfiction Herbal

My herbal, Plants for a Medieval Herb Garden in the British Isles, is reduced to.99 in Kindle through the 29th. The print book is a lovely option for those of you who prefer a book you can hold in your hands.

Daughter Elise designed the print book and did the gorgeous cover. Both the print and kindle formats are filled with wonderful images. In addition to being a book about herbs from the Middle Ages in the British Isles, it’s also about many of those plants commonly known today. Colonists brought a lot of their beloved herbs with them when they came to the New World.

Book Blurb: An illustrated collection of plants that could have been grown in a Medieval Herb or Physic Garden in the British Isles. The major focus of this work is England and Scotland, but also touches on Ireland and Wales. Information is given as to the historic medicinal uses of these plants and the rich lore surrounding them. Journey back to the days when herbs figured into every facet of life, offering relief from the ills of this realm and protection from evil in all its guises.

At Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Plants-Medieval-Garden-British-Isles-ebook/dp/B00IOGHYVU

Never Give Up On Anything You Love


flowers near gardenYou probably think I’m speaking of my writing that I’ve fought like a mad dog for, but in this instance I’m referring to my beloved garden(s). After learning I rank in the top ten percent of allergy sufferers in the nation, which explained a lot and has led to 30 plus years of allergy shots (four at at time), daily meds, inhalers, etc, I can be outside much of the year, although ragweed season remains a challenge. My allergist declares I’m the only patient extremely allergic to spring who revels in it anyway. And definitely the only one who gardens as I do despite my inherent intolerance of all pollen.

hyssop in the gardenBefore making strides with my shots, allergies drove me indoors from August through late September, with bouts in between. This is actually how I ended up writing novels. I called that time ‘being under house arrest’ and gazed longingly out the windows. It occurred to me that I could focus on my love of literature, history, mystery, romance, and yes, the out of doors, in my books. My passion for herbs and herbal lore is woven throughout many of my stories, and I’ve even written an herbal. If I didn’t have allergies I’d probably still be making dried wreaths and arrangements, potpourri, raising and selling seedlings…Now, my gardening is strictly for myself and whoever else enjoys entering in. Daughter Elise is my right arm. The grandbabies take a keen interest, and those who drive past our farm enjoy seeing the garden(s) visible from the road. When allergies surge, they grow neglected, but my many hardy perennials, reseeding heirloom flowers, and herbs have a way of hanging on. And there’s always next year.

With spring around the corner, my thoughts turn, as ever, to the garden. My beautiful valley I call, ‘The Shire’, is known for being quite inhospitable to allergy sufferers, but nothing would compel me to leave.

Never give up on anything you love.

Emma and Owen in the garden1Images by Elise and hubby Dennis

Now in Print! Plants for a Medieval Herb Garden in the British Isles


Plants for a Medieval Herb Garden in the British Isles CoverAfter exhaustive efforts on my and daughter Elise’s part, Plants for a Medieval Herb Garden in the British Isles is available in print at Amazon (also other outlets).

For those of you who’ve been patiently waiting, it’s here, with over 100 lovely images. Remember, a number of these plants accompanied the colonists to the New World. Many are the herbs we use today, though some of their applications fell into disfavor. Not everyone still seeks a way to avert the Evil Eye, or risks potentially poisonous treatments for a cure.

Book Description: An illustrated collection of plants that could have been grown in a Medieval Herb or Physic Garden in the British Isles. The major focus of this work is England and Scotland, but also touches on Ireland and Wales. Information is given as to the historic medicinal uses of these plants and the rich lore surrounding them. Journey back to the days when herbs figured into every facet of life, offering relief from the ills of this realm and protection from evil in all its guises.~

dill with white aster and heirloom poppiesA Few Amazon Reader Reviews:

 
A perfect resource for gardeners and history buffs alike.  By Dorothy Johnson
 
Plants for a medieval herb garden is a fun, easy resource. I have been making my way through its pages and enjoying every minute of it. I’ve even found some new plants that I’d like to try out in my own garden.
Excellent Source for Herbal Lore,

Beth Trissel delivers detailed and useful information about herbs in the middle ages. Of course, no self-respecting medievalist would be without a thorough knowledge of healing herbs and their uses, and Beth lays it all out for us in alphabetical order.

archangel-michael, old stained glass windowWell-researched Medieval Herbal
I was in the online workshop where Beth first began putting this book together. The information she gave the participants in each session was amazingly detailed and very well-documented. She gave us an early version of this book and I’ve referred to it more than once as a resource for my own novel writing. When I saw the finished product was out and available, I grabbed my copy immediately. If you’re ever lucky enough to attend one of her herbal workshops — DO IT!! Until then, this is an excellent substitute and one heck of a resource. If you’re writing in this time period and location and want to make sure your characters are using historically accurate herbs in the way they were used at the time, you’ll definitely want this book. If you’re simply interested in learning how herbs were used in Medieval times in the British Isles, if you love knowing the history of the herbs you might use every day, or if you’re just learning about using herbs, this is the book for you!

Herbal Lore, History, and Allergies


Being passionate about the past, I relish a connection to those who’ve gone before us.  I’m fascinated with history and love old homes, historic sites, all that ties us to the richness of bygone ages.  Intrigued with herbal lore, I often use it in my writing.  Herbs influenced every facet of life in pre-modern times and have changed little over the centuries. When I hold an aromatic sprig of rosemary in my hand, I’m touching the same plant beloved by the ancients. Some heirloom roses hail from the glory days of Rome.

To further that sense of oneness, and for their many uses, I grow a variety of herbs.  Thyme, basil, sage, and chives are a few in my kitchen garden.  Lavender and scented geraniums are wonderful for their scent alone.  Ladies once wafted the delicate perfume of toilet water.  Porcelain bowls filled with colorful potpourri scented musty parlors.

Before taking the leap into penning historical novels, I wrote vignettes on rural life. I’ve compiled these into a memoir on gardening and country life, Shenandoah Watercolors, a 2012 EPIC eBOOK Award finalist available in kindle at Amazon.

At one time, I had a modest herb business and gave talks on herbal lore to local groups much as Julia Maury did in my light paranormal romance Somewhere My Love.

Back to my herbal enterprise, with the faithful assistance of my long-suffering mother we grew and dried herbs and flowers for wreath making and potpourri which we sold in the fall.  Herbs and heirloom flower seedlings were raised in the small greenhouse my hubby built me and sold in the spring.  Any profits were swiftly overrun by subsequent visits to the allergist,whom I’ve seen regularly for years now and still get four shots at a crack.  It seems I developed every allergy latent within me by exposure to all these pollens.  *Note, If you’re allergic to ragweed, avoid an herb called Sweet Annie and the Artemisia family.  But I’m considered to rank in the top ten percent of allergy sufferers in the nation, so what are the odds of that?

After being run indoors and my gardening curtailed, I took up writing and have used my love of plants there.  I’m still an avid gardener, though with shots, meds and limits.  Is it spring yet?  My nose says yes. 🙂

Herbal Sleep Pillows


From this very interesting site: Herbal Musings~

“For centuries, the fragrance of herbs have been captured in pillows and sweet bags to purify and scent the home. They were known by European mothers anxious to lure their offspring into tranquil sleep, by those seeking relief from headache or depression, and by the solitary who yearned to find true love. Fragrant herbs were sewn into pillows and placed at the head of the bed or between the linens. Often, their scent would be carried from open doorways and windows where they were carefully hung. During medieval times, herbal pillows and sachets were actually more of a necessity than mere fanciful decorations. They were actually designed to mask the consequences of poor sanitary conditions of the time, when fresh air was considered potentially dangerous.

It was the lady of the house who took pride in making these preparations and spent considerable time doing so. One can recall perhaps, grandmother’s rose jar lovingly placed in the “best room” where her guests would benefit from the jar’s sweet aroma. When visitors came to call, the lid was lifted and the contents stirred to release the soothing perfume. In all probability, she also made sachets or sweet bags to scent her linen and fine articles of clothing. She may even have placed small pillows of fragrant herbs near her head upon retiring to prevent nightmares and assure a good nights rest.

Today, herbal pillows are all but neglected as sleeping aids. But, if you’re willing to take a chance on this simple indulgence, they stand a good chance of resurrection.

Herbal pillows are made by sewing dried herbs into a square of cloth or bag, but without a fixative, their aroma is short lived. Many herbs lose much of their original scent when dried.

The lovely scent of the rose for instance, is greatly diminished when dried. Fixatives help to retain and develop the fragrant combination of herbs used in making potpourri, the base material for making herbal pillows.

Spices add an interesting scent to the potpourri mixture, and also act as fixatives. Cinnamon is derived from a tree (Cinnamomum zeylanicum), grown in China, India, and the East Indies, and was used during Biblical times to make holy oils to anoint priests and altars. The familiar sticks, obtained from the inner bark of a young tree, may be ground and added to the potpourri mixture.

Sandalwood (Santalum album), native to the Malabar Coast, is another enticing additive. Since ancient times the wood of this tree was used for making fans, musical instruments, and to line closets to ward off moths. Sandalwood is also burned at the altar, and eventually became an important ingredient in incense burned in synagogues. The chips, or shavings, are most suitable for potpourri.

Various materials are suitable for pillow coverings, such as velvet, silk, or chintz. A layer of muslin or cotton should be placed between two evenly sized squares of material, which can be 12 to 18 inches, or whatever size you care to make the pillow…On this layer, the potpourri is added, and another thin layer of cotton or muslin is placed on top…Decorating the pillows with bits of ribbon, buttons, lace, or everlastings, adds a personal finishing touch, and will help to make your dreams a little bit sweeter.”

*I didn’t include every last detail from this site so visit the original post for more info.  A very worthy site.

From another informative site I discovered:

How to Make An Herbal Sleep Pillow:

“For centuries, herbs have been used to induce a restful sleep. Herbs have been traditionally steeped in teas, used in baths or simmered in aromatherapy pots to create a calm and relaxing atmosphere that allows one to fall into a deep slumber. An herbal sleep pillow is another time-honored way to use the sleep-inducing power of herbs. An herbal sleep pillow provides a continuous scent of lavender and mint that works all night. The pillow also serves as a room freshener during the day, filling the bedroom with the light fragrance of mint and lavender.”

FOR STEP BY STEP INSTRUCTIONS on making a pillow please visit the site:

And Sweet dreams~

*Please note, I linked the images so that if you click on a picture it will take you to the site where you can glean yet more information about herbal sleep pillows or purchase those that they make, all depending on the site~