Herb of the Month
The vanilla-almond scent of meadowseet fills the air this month and her creamy white, frothy flowers polka-dot fields and hedgerows. Known also as Queen of the Meadow, she is a majestic sight, a balm for the eyes and the spirit and medicine for the body. Meadowsweet, Filipendula ulmari, is a member of our beloved rose (roseacea) botanical family and grows heartily alongside her cousins blackberry, blackthorn, hawthorn and wild rose.
Meadowsweet is known, too, as Spirea for her flowery spires and this name is a Latin derivative for the word aspirin. She contains a natural occurring constituent called salicylic acid which is an active ingredient in aspirin. Meadowsweet has been used for hundreds (thousands!) of years to ease a headache or toothache, for general aches and pains and as a treatment for colds and fevers. Meadowsweet soothes both acute and chronic acidic condition in the stomach and eases nausea. She has astringent properties so is lovely to tone the skin and heal spots and blemishes.
Make a tea with the flowering tops: fresh plant (1 TBSP fresh herb to 8 oz water off the boil) or dried plant (1 tsp dried herb to 8 oz water off the boil).
Now is the time to harvest and dry her for your home apothecary. Harvest the flowering tops when the flower is fully opened and about 1/3 of the top of the plant. The red stem and leaves have therapeutic properties as well. Bundle the herb together and hang upside down in a dry location. The scent of meadowsweet is said to gladden the heart and it will bring you memories of long summer days.
Because of the salicylic acid properties, a meadowsweet infusion (strong tea) makes a fabulous face spritzer/ mister tonic, especially to heal spots and blemishes, although it is lovely for all skin types to tighten and brighten the skin. The smell is divine and there is nothing like a fresh cosmetic you make yourself!
Meadowsweet Facial Spritzer Tonic
· 1 cup of water, freshly boiled
· 4 TBSP fresh meadowsweet or 1 TBSP dried meadowsweet
· Optional: 25 drops of lavender OR tea tree essential oil
· Optional: 1 TBSP rose or lavender hydrosol
Make an extra strong tea and steep, covered, for 2 or 3 hours. Remove the herb and bottle for use. The tonic can be applied via a cotton wool although I prefer misting it lightly directly onto the skin. If you add the essential oils or hydrosols it will extend the shelf life of the facial spritzer tonic to about a month. Otherwise, use within a couple of weeks.
Always consult your GP before introducing herbs into your lifestyle.