ASPIRIN was once meadowsweet, morphine is Papaver somniferum and the recent hypertension drug Cynarin is just an extract of common artichoke (Cynara scolymus). The brilliant thing about the original cures is that they never stopped working, meadowsweet tea will still kill a headache or a period pain and some braised artichokes with a lemon balsamic dressing and homemade bread will not only lift your culinary soul, but is great for your liver function and blood pressure issues.
Common roadside yarrow and its exuberant ornamental cousins that regularly feature amongst the designer gardens at Bloom cause coagulation.
A hint to its use in stopping minor bleeds and serious wounds is contained in its name of Achillea, after that great Greek hero of the Trojan wars – Brad Pitt. Yarrow can be infused in hot water with thyme to make an antiseptic wash. The active antibiotic principle in thyme, thymol, is considered to be 25 times as effective as phenol (the active ingredient in over the counter antiseptics).
Thyme, as a medicinal plant, goes back to the Egyptians and the origins of medicinal botany. Before the discovery of antibiotics, doctors once soaked bandages in thyme to disinfect the cloth, to kill germs on the surface of wounds and help activate the healing of wounds. Best of all it takes neglect in the garden, so no need to be a growing expert – just free draining soil in full sun and you will have it to harvest forever.
There simply is no need to run to the pharmacy for a topical antiseptic when a plant rich in antiseptic and wound healing phytochemical grows at the very place you just scuffed that knee or scraped that elbow.
The garden just yields treasures and while Fiann's bloom garden is filled with medicinal ones so too is your own. It is just a case of discovering which ones.
FIANN Ó Nualláin is a garden writer, broadcaster and garden designer. His latest Bloom garden – The First Place – is based upon his book The Holistic Gardener: First Aid from the Garden. Fiann will be talking on the topic at Bloom. For more information and to purchase tickets visit bloominthepark.com
Minor bleed seal
Minor bleed seal for small cuts and wounds
2 heaped tablespoons of chopped shepherd's purse
1 heaped tablespoon of fresh calendula petals
1 heaped tablespoon of fresh yarrow flower heads
2 heaped tablespoons petroleum jelly or zinc ointment
20 drops of essential oil of geranium.
Method: In a mortar and pestle, mash the shepherd's purse, fresh calendula petals and yarrow flower heads. Crush to a paste.
Warm two heaped tablespoons of petroleum jelly or supplement with cool zinc ointment.
Add to the herb paste with 20 drops of essential oil of geranium. Allow to set.
Stores for several months.
Use as required – to seal cuts and wounds – all ingredients being astringent and styptic.
Sunflower and Honey ointment – for wounds and cuts, post-burns and general skin repair
Sunflower oil is a regular in kitchens, but, apart from frying and salad dressing, it is packed with alpha tocopherol (Vitamin E) and so lends itself well to healing blends for skin conditions.
In this treatment, it is both part of the delivery method and an active principle in repairing damaged skin. I give it a twist by infusing the oil with sunflower petals and other healing members of the sunflower family – Asteraceae aka Compositae – the largest flowering family, so not hard at all.
Golden rod is a member of the sunflower family and its botanical name 'solidago' means 'to make whole'. Yarrow, the great wound healer, is a member, as are the disinfectant tagetes, the anti-inflammatory pot marigold (the oil of which escalates collagen production, so helping prevent or lessen scar tissue) and of course the antiseptic (but also anticoagulant, so select for certain wounds only) helichrysum. Allow to infuse for two weeks at least.
100ml sunflower oil (infused or culinary)
Method: Utilizing the heat of a bain-marie, melt the beeswax in a few tablespoons of the oil, add the rest of the oil and honey and stir well. Allow to cool.
Apply as needed to keep wounds moist and promote healing, and also to avail of the active principles of the skin regenerating oil and the honey which prevents bacterial growth. Beeswax is also germicidal.
Health & Living