In the third episode of the series, ethnobotanist, James Wong turned his attention to natural remedies made from trees. His recipes include a soothing gel for varicose veins made from conkers, a fragrant cologne made from pine, a lotion to tackle head lice and a traditional tea which could help improve memory function.
Ginkgo tea for memory
2 tsp dried/5 fresh ginkgo leaves per cup
1 drinking cup freshly boiled water
Add the ginkgo leaves to the cup of freshly boiled water and steep for 10 minutes. Strain, and drink immediately.
USE: Drink this tea once or twice a day.
Ginkgo is not recommended if you’re on any other medication, you are pregnant or breast feeding.
Neem lotion for headlice
Makes enough for 5-10 doses
20 tbsp (approx. 100 g) fresh rosemary leaves
20 tbsp (approx. 25 g) fresh lavender flowers
200 ml neem oil
200 ml almond oil
6 garlic cloves,minced
2 tbsp tea tree oil
1. Strip the rosemary leaves and lavender flowers from their sprigs.
2. Combine the neem and almond oil together in a measuring jug.
3. Crush half the rosemary and lavender in a mortar and pestle with a little of the oil, to help ease the crushing process. Place the mashed-up herbs in a saucepan. Repeat with the second half of the rosemary and lavender, again adding a little oil for crushing.
4. Place the crushed herbs, neem and almond oil in the pan, and add the chopped garlic. Heat gently for about 20 minutes.
5. Strain through a sieve lined with muslin. Add the tea tree oil to the reserved oil, stir, then filter into a sterilized 500 ml bottle.
USE: If using immediately, apply to dry hair, making sure that the hair is completely covered and that the oil penetrates to the scalp. Cover with a towel and leave on for at least 1 hour, or overnight if possible. Then wash off with two applications of shampoo. Apply conditioner, and comb through with a nit comb. Use the next application 7 days later, to deal with any nits that may hatch during that time. Comb through with the nit comb every 3 days.
STORAGE: Keeps for 6 months.
Horse Chestnut tincture
500 ml vodka
1. Blend the conkers and vodka in a liquidizer until smooth.
2. Place in a sterilized bottle and keep in a cool dark place for 10 days to 1 month, shaking every day or so. Strain before using.
STORAGE: Keeps for up to 1 year.
NB This tincture is only to be used to make the Horse Chestnut Gel (see below), and must not be taken internally.
Horse Chestnut gel for varicose veins
3 sachets vegetable gelatine
150 ml water
150 ml Horse Chestnut Tincture
5 drops lavender oil
1. Add the vegetable gelatine to 150 ml cold water in a pan and whisk until dissolved. Heat for about 2 minutes, whisking constantly. As the mix starts to thicken, slowly pour in the Horse Chestnut Tincture a little at a time. Add the lavender oil.
2. Pour into a 250 ml sterilized bottle.
USE: Try a 24-hour patch test before using (horse chestnut can irritate). Apply to affectedareas twice daily, or as often as required.
STORAGE The gel keeps for 3 months in the refrigerator.
1/2 tsp pine resin
250 ml vodka (or just enough to cover the ingredients)
rind of 2 lemons, finely chopped
rind of 2 oranges, finely chopped
10 fresh bay leaves, finely chopped
3 tbsp fresh pine needles, finely chopped
3 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
2 tbsp glycerine
100 ml orange blossom water
1. Crush the pine resin in a pestle and mortar until you have a very fine powder. Pour over 1 tbsp of vodka and stir to dissolve. The mixture should form a thin paste. Add the chopped lemon and orange rind to the mortar and stir with a spoon to remove the last traces of sticky resin from the sides.
2. Place the resin mixture along with the bay leaves, pine needles and thyme in a Kilner jar. Add enough vodka to cover, then seal and leave in a dark place for 2 weeks to 1 month.
3. When ready, strain off the herbs through a muslin-lined sieve into a jug, and stir in the glycerine and orange blossom water. Pour into a 100 ml glass spray bottle.
USE: Do a 24-hour test on a small patch of skin before using. Shake well and apply every morning to underarms, feet, etc.
STORAGE: Keeps for up to 1 year in a cool,dry place.