The skill of maintaining and balancing our own health appears to have mostly become a lost art in modern society.
Over the coming months I will try and share some of my bits and pieces with you, and hopefully some people will find them interesting and useful, and maybe even save some pennies rather than buy expensive potions from the chemist !
Today I was strimming away some overgrown blackberry brambles, which had started to invade the area where I have raspberries growing. It reminded me to gather some young blackberry shoots and young leaves before Autumn arrives.
Blackberry leaves are a very ancient remedy for several complaints. They are full of tannins and vitamin C. You can drink them daily and they have no side effects. However, a short break after a week of heavy use is advisable.
A tea made with blackberry leaves can help ease diarrhea (good for gastrointestinal flu with diarrhea and tummy cramps). It can ease heavy periods in women.
Use the tea as a gargle for inflamed gums and throat, and for minor sore throats.
You can make a compress of the blackberry leaves (or soak a cloth in the blackberry leaf tea liquid and place on the area) to soothe inflamed skin rashes. Leave it on for 30 minutes, covered with plastic or cling film (saran wrap in the US?) to keep the heat etc in.
Varicose veins and eczema can also benefit from the compress.
The vitamin C in the blackberry tea strengthens the immune system and promotes tissue repair.
Blackberry Leaf Tea
(a mild, general use tea)
Pour a cup of boiling water onto 2 teaspoonfuls of dried blackberry leaves.
Leave to steep (soak) for 10 minutes.
Strain and drink.
Blackberry Leaf Decoction
(for a stronger medicinal effect)
Boil 3 or 4 heaped tablespoons of the dried blackberry leaves in 2 pints of water. Keep boiling until about half the water has boiled off (evaporated).
Drink 2 or 3 small cupfuls a day.
Making a decoction (rather than a tea) releases more of the tannins from the leaves, making it stronger.
Both are rather an acquired taste (in my mind) and I personally add various honeys to the tea to make it sweeter. Clover honey is one of my favs.
Drying Blackberry Leaves
Pick the young and tender green leaves and shoots.
Dry them thoroughly in a dark place for at least 5 days, or a lot longer if you have the space.
Store in a dark, airtight container. You may need to aerate the container now and them to avoid mould. However, if you dry them longer and totally, this shouldn't be needed.