Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Ointment making workshop

I have had a really relaxing day making our Ache Ease Ointment with Su and Ingrid -we started by having a look at all the individual ingredients that go into making up our anti inflammatory healing balm.

The horseradish infused almond oil made on NU moon Oct 2010 still smelling extremely pungent - this heating herb is a strong circulatory and brings the bloody flow to any areas the balm is applied, Horseradish is one of those ancient plants whose origin no one really knows. Some consider that it originated in Hungary or other parts of Eastern Europe, as far east as Russia and as far north as Finland. It is mentioned by the ancient herbalist Pliny as being good for medicine but not used as food.

Both the root and leaves were used as medicine during the Middle Ages, and the root was used as a condiment in Denmark and Germany during that time. Gerard (1597) mentions it as an accompaniment to fish and meat, and also says that it doesn't grow well with grapevines: “. . if the rootes heerof be planted neere to the vine, it bendeth backward from it as not willing to have fellowship with it.”

Horseradish was one of the five bitter herbs (along with coriander, horehound, lettuce, and nettle) eaten historically during the feast of the Passover; in present times, horseradish is still commonly used in the Passover Seder. Horseradish is a member of the same family as cabbages, broccoli, brussels sprouts, etc.: the Cruciferae family.

The heather infused almond oil has an action on the kidneys so promoting the elimination of toxins and debris, the comfrey aka knit bone is a connective tissue restorative so perfect to apply to damaged joints and achy muscles.

Comfrey has been used for centuries for its wound healing properties. Comfrey is mainly used externally to treat inflammation and to stimulate wound and fracture healing. The phytochemical allantoin is known for its stimulation of cell proliferation. The tannins and rosmarinic acid are responsible for the anti-inflammatory action of comfrey.
The bees wax from Michael Boki our local bee keeper is the hardening agent to make the oils into a  more solid consistency and the cocoa butter is an emulsifying agent and makes it all creamy -
Cocoa butter, also called cacao butter, is the cream-coloured fat extracted from cacao seeds (cocoa beans) and used to add flavour, scent, and smoothness to chocolate, cosmetics, tanning oil, soap, and a multitude of topical lotions and creams. Cocoa butter has been called the ultimate moisturizer, and has been used to keep skin soft and supple for centuries. It is one of the most stable, highly concentrated natural fats known, and melts at body temperature so that it is readily absorbed into the skin. Cocoa butter is often recommended for treatment of skin conditions such as eczema and dermatitis. When applied topically, it creates a barrier between sensitive skin and the environment and also helps retain moisture. In addition, cocoa butter contains cocoa mass polyphenol (CMP), a substance that inhibits the production of the immunoglobulin IgE. IgE is known to aggravate symptoms of both dermatitis and asthma.

Also essential oils of peppermint – known as an anodyne provides good pain relief when applied topically can really cool the area and rosemary I find very uplifting and also circulatory-

We combined all the ingredients together in a Bain Marie – 400ml of the combines oils, 200g of the cocoa butter and 100g beeswax.

As we poured the oil over the other ingredients which all looked good enough to eat we put our intentions into the mix –To heal and restore damaged muscular skeletal injuries and aches.

After about 15 mins all the while us in discussion about animal medicine –Su’s Sister works for the RSPCA – if the balm could be used on animals etc –I learnt that Cats wounds heal very fast –often too fast and the skin over the tops can heal before the inner tissue!

We then did a spoon / plate test to see how hard/soft our balm was –it was just right so we added 20 drops of essential oil per 100mls of liquid –this was guestimated much to my guests horror as they are more detailed than I!!

Poured in to Jars n Viola –Ache Ease mmmm

Tuesday, 26 April 2011


We came across a wonderful bank of pale yellow flowers whilst out walking near the Cerne Abbas Giant - it was a Beech copse with a truely magical feel to it. What a pleasure and delight it is to collect these delicate spring flowers and leaves. They tasted sweet with bitter, drying undertones and a hint of bitter at the end but overriding the taste for me was perfume -delicious delicate anti infectious perfume. As we ate the flowers and new leaves I feel extremely connected to the folks who had harvested these primroses through the ages past and how before the advent of supershops we would have eaten these as our salad leaves intermixed with dandelions, sorrel, rocket and a host of other -we still can -they grow plentifully, calling to us to eat them many spray free and it is healing experience in itself to harvest them.

Primula vulgaris is the primrose of the English countryside, the essence of spring for many people. It is a hardy perennial, preferring shady or sheltered conditions, but able to withstand dry soil, growing naturally as it does in woodland or hedgerows. These days, when so many of its natural habitats are gone, it is also found growing happily on motorway embankments, forming spreading colonies.

Plants form a dense rosette of large, crinkled, deep green leaves with prominent midribs, and in spring soft yellow flowers with deeper eyes are borne singly on pink stems. When you look closely at the individual flowers, you can see that there are two different arrangements: in some flowers, the round stigma is visible in the throat of the flower. These are called 'pin-eyed' flowers. Sometimes, the clusters of stamens are visible. These flowers are called 'thrum-eyed'. 

This is clever natures way to ensure cross-fertilization through pollunation by visiting insects.

Primula vulgaris has been used in traditional medicine as a remedy for muscular cramps, headaches and as a sedative. It was mentioned by Pliny as a remedy for rheumatism. It is definitely a cooling remedy and fantastic for the lungs and any infection of the lungs or mucous membranes -we are gonna dry them all out next to the fire and use them in a mix in our Breath easy tea.......