Yet again it is a gloomy, windy day here in Connemara so I thought I would take pictures of some flowers that are nevertheless, looking very bright. I realised as I was snapping away that many of our garden flowers belong to medicinal plants as well as to plants grown for eating. I was reminded of Hippocrates who suggested that our food be our medicine and our medicine be our food. With some plants it is not difficult to achieve that recommendation.
Nasturtiums are blazing brightly on this grey day and also add bright colour and a peppery taste to your salad. They are quite delicious as a food and also, due to their high vitamin C content and anti-bacterial qualities can be applied as a medicine! I love making these connections.
Raspberry is obviously a food and it is probably my favourite summer fruit and of course it has a vitamin content which is beneficial to our health but the leaves too are medicinal. The leaves are astringent and cooling and have traditionally been used during pregnancy to tone the uterus and for reducing the risk of haemorrhage. The leaves can also be used for diarrhoea, mouth ulcers and inflammation of the gums.
Borage is a plant with bright blue flowers, (sometimes the flowers can be pinkish) and it is the flowers that are used in salads and in drinks. In times past the flowers were used in the brewing of ale to make the drinkers merry. The Celts used Borage to increase courage before a battle or a quest. This food is a potent medicine when used for adrenal stress and can be useful during convalescence.
I put these Pink Poppies at the entrance to the poly-tunnel to attract pollinators and just because they are beautiful. Their latin name is Papaver Somniferum aka the opium poppy. While they are food to the eyes because they loook so beautiful they can be used as an analgesic or painkiller and for diarrhoea. I would not recommend any one try this medicine at home as poppies are very addictive and therefore can be dangerous. Enjoy looking at them and saving the seed for bread making.
The cheerful Calendula or Pot Marigold flower petals are delicious added to salads and give a lovely colour to a green salad. As a medicine, it pretty much does almost everything from cleansing the lymph system, normalising the menstrual cycle, reducing inflammation and improving digestion. It is also an anti-fungal and is beneficial to all kinds of wounds, bruises, burns or sprains. When making natural skin care remedies and cosmetics it would be the first herb I would reach for.
I have taken some liberty with the meaning of Hippocrates’ quotation (as he meant that if you eat well, your food is a medicine, keeping you healthy) to make the point that some of the plants we see as food plants only, actually have medicinal properties as well.
This final plant, Rose Campion, is NOT a food plant and is NOT medicinal and NOR can I find any magical correspondences for it; but it really does brighten up a grey day so here it is.
If you would like to know more about making your own herbal preparations, I run a workshop every month here in Connemara on the Wild Atlantic Way. Check out the Workshop section of the website.