When the goldenrod starts to flower then summer is igoin out and autumn is icumen in. I am sure we will have lots more lovely sunny and warm days like today, in fact my birthday in early October has been a sunny day for as long as I can remember. However, now is the time to start preserving and drying to ensure the natural medicine cabinet can see us through until next summer. Today I have been out in the garden harvesting comfrey, lavender, rosehips and chamomile
Let’s start with the comfrey. Comfrey goes by many names Knitbone, Boneset, Bruise wort. You get the gist, it’s a healer. There is much discussion about the safety of comfrey due to its very high content of hepatotoxic pyrrolizideine alkaloids (PAs) wh rapich as you can guess from the name can lead to liver disease in high doses and it has been implicated in one death. Consequently I only use it topically, in a salve, tincture or fresh compress. See here to see it in action.
First collect your comfrey. This is remarkably easy around us as the Boss planted it some 10 years ago and it is very hardy! I collect both leaves and the root, there is a higher level of allantoin, which stimulates cell growth (and thus healing) and reduces inflammation in the root, but also a higher level of PAs. Again I only use comfrey products externally and would caution anyone who wishes to take it internally to seek the advice of a professional herbalist first.
I made two types of salve and a tincture.
Salve one was made using the oldest and most traditional method. Chop up your leaves and add them melted lard. I used 125g lard and four handfuls of leaves. Bring to a simmer, cover and leave to seep for a couple of hours and pour into a sterilised jar (you may need to warm it slightly to melt it sufficiently to pour into the jar.
Looks a bit poisonous doesn’t it?!
Salve two is the process I first learned when making salves. Instead of using lard I used coconut oil and cold pressed rapeseed oil. The first stage is the same as making salve one. 125ml of rapeseed oil and three tablespoons of coconut oil, four handfuls of leaves, chopped. Bring to simmer, leave to seep. What you have now is comfrey oil and you can leave it like that. It is a good massage oil for those broken bones that cannot be set (such as toes and shoulders). If you want to make a m ore solid salve you will need approximately 30g of beeswax (the amount you use will determine the solidity of your salve). Grate the wax and place with the comfrey oil in a bowl over a pan of boiling water and heat gently until the wax and oil are combined. Pour into sterilised jars.
Comfrey Tincture is the easiest recipe of all. Wash and chop 100g of comfrey root and place in a clean jar with 150ml of vodka (the highest proof you can find, I am kicking myself for not buying the 96% vodka I saw on sale in Romania for about £15/litre!) Leave it for 2-3 weeks and transfer to clean amber dropper bottles.
Finally I put the leftover root in the dehydrator and will grind it up to make tincture or salve later on in the year if we run out.
Next up rosehips.
Love Gillie x