The Spring has sprung herbalist

April 2014

As the sun warms us up and the blossom cheers our spirits, we unfurl from our Winter hibernation ready to face the world again, much like the sticky buds of the Chestnut trees revealing their fresh, green new leaves.  The garden has leapt into life, the bulbs are displaying their rich colours and Winter’s grey starts to ebb away.  What a relief it is.  Spring has definitely started when Sunday’s dawn chorus is followed by the hum of lawnmowers!

Now is the time to think about those detoxes which were too difficult as optimistic New Year’s Resolutions in dark, dreary January.  When better to spring clean yourself than with the lightening of the days?

Tips for a Spring clean:  A cold infusion of fresh herbs

These can be gathered from your local park, or if you’re really lucky, your garden!

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinalis) leaves in Spring are less bitter than later in the year.  Add a few to your salads and dose yourself with natural nutrition.  Dandelions are diuretic but also a rich source of potassium.  So, whereby standard diuretics leach potassium from your body, dandelion assists in the elimination of excess water but replaces the potassium which leaches away with it.  Clever plant.   You’ll find dandelion in most places where there is grass.  The yellow flowers are a giveaway but seek out the younger, smaller leaves.

Cleavers (Galium aparine) is a rampant weed to many but a herbalist’s dream.  For the spring detox it is a wonderful addition.  It imparts a light flavour and the medicinal properties for which it is renowned is that of lymphatic drainage.  The lymphatic system contains clear fluids which are recycled from blood plasma.

Pick a large handful of each herb, place in a jug and cover with cold water.  Leave overnight and drink the following morning.  Feel the power of green as you imbibe this pleasant tasting fresh and natural infusion!  To make a more fragrant version, add a few leaves from a lavender plant.

Dandelions and Cleavers are gentle herbs but be very sure that what you are picking is suitable – herbal mis-identification can be serious.  It may be natural but so are plenty of deadly plants!  To be sure, use a good ID guide or ask your local herbalist. Please do not pick everything from one area, leave plenty for others and for the wildlife. It is also advisable to steer away from sites where dogs may have peed!

DISCLAIMER:  Before undertaking any form of self-medicating health activity, if you suffer from long-term health conditions or are pregnant, it may not be suitable for you to follow these ideas.  Please check with a qualified medical herbalist first.