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Herbs Section

Lemon & Rosemary Tea

Rosemary has long been the herbal symbol of health and alertmness. It was used as a tonic in Roman times, for fatigue, especially mental fatigue. Probably Rosemary was in common use long before the romans but there are no records. It has unusual properties, especially when acidified, that do make you feel a bit more alert. The vapours from fresh crushed rosemary steeping in hot water will gently clear the sinuses.

The Ancients were well acquainted with the shrub, which had a reputation for strengthening the memory. On this account it became the emblem of fidelity for lovers. It holds a special position among herbs from the symbolism attached to it. Not only was it used at weddings, but also at funerals, for decking churches and banqueting halls at festivals, as incense in religious ceremonies, and in magical spells.

Rosmary in flower

A sprig of Rosmary in flower. There is also more ornimental strain with pink flowers.

In medieval times monks were the equivalent to doctors today. The accrued wisdom if the abbey was recoded in a herbal remedy book called "The Great Herbal". Because these were so valuable, they were often locked away and protected, so some still survive today. Here's an extract from a "Grete Herbal" about at treatment for a fever, using rosemary.

'ROSEMARY. - For weyknesse of ye brayne. Against weyknesse of the brayne and coldenesse thereof, sethe rosemaria in wyne and lete the pacyent receye the smoke at his nose and keep his heed warme.'

When it comes to colds and flu medications, you're dealing with the snake oil salesmen. Colds and flu are viral diseases and do not respond to antibiotics. In many cases, they might weaken the imune system enough for the patient to develop bacterial symptoms, like chest infections. However only anti-viral drugs can effect a cold or flu and they reserve these for serious diseases. The medications yoiu buy from the supermarket and your chemist, all treat the symptoms - an anti-inflamatory to reduce the swelling in the sinus passages, an anti histamine to dry up the mucus glands being ravaged by the virus and in some cases a decongestant to break up phlegm. All of these drugs cam lead to drowsiness and other side effects.

Girl inhaling rosemary vapour

A handfull of bruised rosemary in a bowl of boiling water makes a good inhalent for a cold to ease the sinus pain

Rosemary has the unique property of clearing the sinuses if inhaled as a vapour through the nose, plus it also does the opposite to the cold and flu medications - it actually makes you more alert. You get as sense of well being that lasts up to half and hour. If we add fresh lemon juice to the rosemary, you get a shot of vitamin C, a valuable aid to the imune system, as well. The resulting tea is sour so lets add some honey to sweeten it and get the benefit of all those natural essences too. You now have a tea that smells great, is invigorating, healthy, promotes immune system activity and tastes good too.

The results of laboratory tests suggest that carnosic acid, found in rosemary, may shield the brain from free radicals, lowering the risk of strokes and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's and ALS. Rosemary contains a number of potentially biologically active compounds, including antioxidants such as carnosic acid and rosmarinic acid. Other bioactive compounds include caffeic acid, ursolic acid, betulinic acid, rosmaridiphenol, and rosmanol. Several of these are stimulants which could also account for the envigorating effect rosemary has on patients.

Separator bar with green apple

Making rosemary and Lemon Tea

  • Get several sprigs of roseamry and strip the leaves off the stems. Remove any flowers.

  • Bruise the leaves by rolling them with a glass bottle.

  • Chop up the leaves as fine as you can and put them ito a cup.

  • Pour boiling water over the finley chopped leaves and leave to steep while you do the rest.

  • Juice a lemon and remove any pips.

  • Put the lemon juice in a cup with a teaspoon of honey.

  • Using a fine seive over the cup, to strain out the chopped rosemary leaves, pour the rosemary liquid into the cup with the honey and lemon juice.

  • Stir to dissolve the honey and it's ready to drink.

Note - do not boil the leaves in the water. This extracts the bitter tanins and is hot enough to vapourise the aromatic essences in the honey.

An original bottle of 1709 Eau de Cologne

Eau De Cologne
When Johann Maria Farina invented the original Eau de Cologne, it was named after his home town. When it hit the market in Europe it's fresh fragrance was associated with the fabled healing properties of the waters of Cologne, said to ward off the Bubonic plague. Although other perfumes were available it was the first one to be consistantly produced with the same fragrance at the same strength every time. One of the primary fragrances was from the essential oil of Rosemary. The exact recipe is still a cloely guarded secret.


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Why not grow your own?

Rosemary is ideal as a useful border plant forming a dense windbreak 1 metre high that is salt resistant and will attract bees, which will increase the yield in any garden by 20%. If you are afraid of bees – fear not, bees on rosemary are almost harmless, too intent on collecting the nectar to sting you. You would have to hurt one before it will know you are there. The dark green hedge effect is a pretty addition to any garden and the profusion of attractive blue flowers on each spike, especially the common Officinalis variety, that come out in Summer to winter, are a welcome site when everything else is dormant. A prostrate variety is an attractive drought tolerant addition to a rock garden and has the added surprise of a profusion of small pale blue flowers in winter to spring.

Rosemary officianalis

Rosemary officianalis - the upright form that grows over a metre tall, starting to flower

Rosemary grows as a small evergreen shrub belonging to the Labiatae family that is related to mint. In it's prostrate form it is a low dark green ground cover with lots of tiny pale pink or baby blue flowers in rock gardens. The erect form can grow over a metre tall, forming a dense bush with pale blue flowers that stand out against it's dark green foliage. Its leaves look like flat pine-tree needles, deep green in colour on top while silver-white on their underside. Much of the summer, it's covered in pretty pale blue flowers, that are a favourite for honey bees. Recently a pink flowering version has come onto the market and although the flowers appear a different colour, ther leaves have the same properties and the blue flower strains.

Rosemary can be propagated from an existing plant by clipping a spike with a stem 4-5mm diameter that is 10–15cm (4–6in) long. Strip all but few centimetres of leaves from the top, and plant it directly into moist but well drained soil. Today many varieties are available to the home gardener:

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Basket of Fresh herbs

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