Today is the first day of the return to some sort of reality as the limbo of the week between Christmas and New Year ends. Shops, banks and the Post office will be open ‘normal’ hours all week and hopefully we will be able to stop asking each other what day it is. Living in a tourist town it is often hard to focus on work when the rest of the world is on holiday but the demands of animals, gardens and harvest keep me somewhat grounded in the practical.
Christmas is the time of year that the St John’s Wort flowers here. Some of the most prolific patches grow on the damp verges of the road to Summertime farm (the same road pictured above). This year the crop flowered early and I harvested a bag of flowers the week before Christmas. Hypericum perforatum is an introduced weed of excellent medicinal properties. Analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antiviral and antibacterial, it has been used To soothe wounds, burns and bruising, ease fibrositis, sciatica, arthritis, rheumatism and gout and to help relieve depression.Last year Nerys and I made extractions into oil and Nerys has posted a blog on this wonderful process that saw yellow flowers gradually turn the oil a miraculous deep red.http://gypsysoul-au.blogspot.com/2009/01/little-bit-of-magic.html and http://gypsysoul-au.blogspot.com/2009/01/st-johns-wort-oil.html This year she asked me to make her a tincture.
Here is the method:
Fill a glass jar with flowers, after the spiders have had a chance to run away.
Cover with the highest proof alcohol you can buy (I use vodka but you can use brandy or gin.)
Label the jar with the date you start and the date the tincture will be ready (10 – 14 days.)
Each day tap the base of the jar 100 times ( or for one minute) onto either the heel of your hand or a folded cloth. This is known as ‘succussion’ and is a process that allows the release of the plants properties into the alcohol.
After 10 days – 2 weeks, strain the tincture first through a sieve and then through a paper coffee filter into a brown bottle to protect from the light. 5 ml of glycerine added to each 250ml of tincture will increase its keeping properties.
Label and store in a cool dark place.
Dosage is 5-15 drops in 40ml of water three times a day.
Do not give tinctures to children under five.
More information on herbal tinctures is available in 'Healing with Herbs,' click on the cover in the side bar.
The particular magic of making this tincture was that it turned red before our eyes. As the weather became very hot, I decided to strain it after 10 days.By the way, be careful, the red tincture created black stains on my white shirt, which then spookily turn yellow in the wash!
May the New Year bring you joy and inspiration,