Wild lettuce tincture

Harvest leaves and above-ground parts of wild lettuce while it is in flower in the summer. Take care of the spines. Chop it up and place in a blender with vodka to cover. Blend, then put the mixture into a jar and leave it in a cool dark place for two weeks. Strain and bottle.

Dose: Half a teaspoonful 3 times a day to calm over-excitement, or 1 teaspoonful at bedtime to help with sleep.

Wild lettuce tincture

• overactivity

• excitability

• colicky pains

• irritable coughs

Wild rose

For centuries the wild or dog rose was valued most for its galls, used to eliminate the stone. It wasn't until the 1930s that the hips became valued for their vitamin C, just in time for use in a rich syrup given to Britain's wartime children against infection.

Rose is the plant of love, the petals being the basis of the perfume industry. Herbally, it supports the immune system, is a good eliminator, and is cooling to the body.

Rosaceae Rose family

Description: Rambling deciduous shrubs with thorny stems and pink or white flowers, followed by bright scarlet hips in the fall.

Habitat: Field sides, scrub, and woods.

Distribution: Wild roses are found around the world, mainly in temperate areas.

Species used: There are many species, and they can all be used medicinally. Choose fragrant varieties if you are using the petals. Dog rose (R. canina) is the most common in Europe, with fragrant pale pink or white flowers and scarlet hips. North American native species include prickly rose (Rosa acicularis), prairie rose (Rosa arkansana ), smooth rose (Rosa blanda), climbing rose (Rosa setigera), Virginia rose (Rosa virginiana), and Wood's rose (Rosa woodsii).

Parts used: Flowers gathered in midsummer and hips harvested in the fall

Autumn brings mist and mellow fruitfulness, in Keats's famous words, but he overlooks the frosts and flus of the fall. Fortunately, the fields and woods are "loaded and blessed" with a bounty of rose hips to help build up strength and resistance for the winter.

Everybody now knows that rose hips contain plentiful vitamins and minerals, but it was only in the 1930s that research established that home-grown hips had twenty, even forty times more vitamin C than oranges, plus good supplies of vitamins A, B, and K.

Oranges were to be an early casualty of the Second World War in Britain, and the Ministry of Food turned to the nation's school children to collect the domestic alternative. By 1945 amounts of 450 tons or so of rose hips were gathered each autumn to make into syrup; collectors were paid threepenny a pound, a useful bit of pin money for youthful entrepreneurs.

Rose hip syrup was rationed and provided to mothers for their children through the war years and for some time thereafter. The syrup (made by Delrosa) was in the shops, although Matthew, a post-war baby, remembers better the joy of seeing and eating his first orange in the early 1950s.

The Miracle Of Vinegar

The Miracle Of Vinegar

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