Before I had children I loved to travel and was lucky to visit many far-flung places. I was always in awe of the way many locals I met in Asia and South America had a vast knowledge of every plant in their environment and how it was used as a natural remedy.
Years ago, our ancestors would have known all the plants around us and how they could be used to treat common complaints. Yet somehow this knowledge has been almost lost from our everyday lives. We're quick to reach for the paracetamol or Vitamin C supplement, yet the treatments can often be found in our environment. Usually in the shape of weeds!
When plastic being so rife it is found in our drinking water, wouldn't it be great to stop relying on plastic covered pharmaceuticals and use remedies that occur around us naturally?
So, with that in mind I have been mixing up a family natural remedy with some of autumns top superfoods this season. Put your Echinacea away because it's Wild Berry season!
Health Benefits of Wild Berries
As many of you who come to our Baby Bee sessions will know, we are big fans of the elder tree at Bee in the Woods! Not only is the Elder Tree associated with ancient magic, but the hollowed out branches of the Elder provide endless opportunity for crafts - pencils, whistles, beads, etc. The flowers are great for elderflower cordial (and champagne) and autumn elderberries make great syrup (and wine-hic!). Elderberries are rich in Vitamin C, polyphenols and anthocyanin's. This means they are packed with anti-oxidants and immune boosting, antiviral properties and make amazing natural remedies for families.
The same goes for many other autumn treats. Blackberries are packed full of important nutrients (including vitamin C, vitamin K, manganese, polyphenols and anthocyanin's) and have been found to fight everything from premature skin aging to aggressive cancers. Wild grown blackberries fight infection and boost immunity. So treat yourself to as much blackberry crumble as you can forage - it's good for you!
Berries from the Hawthorn Tree are also packed with antioxidant goodness and were traditionally used for heart problems. They are also known to boost the immune system - which is why I'm adding them to my syrup. Due to hawthorns effect of blood pressure, it's best to AVOID if pregnant or breast feeding.
So here's my winter cold immune-booster natural remedy recipe (the measurements are 'woodland' measurements). Freeze in an ice cube tray on the day of making and add the cube to hot lemon & honey at the first sign of a cold...
- 8-10 Elderberry Heads (pick the berries off and remove stems)
- Handful of Hawthorn Berries
- Handful Blackberries
- Sugar (about 1lb to 1 pint water)
- Water (enough to cover the berries about 1.5pints)
- For extra potency you could add cinnamon/ginger and cloves too.
Wash the berries and pop in a pan, cover with cold water and bring to a rolling boil. After 15-30 mins it should become thick and gloopy. At this point you can strain or sieve your mixture. Mash the berries to get all the juices out. Add sugar to the liquid and mix.
Be careful when foraging. Only harvest with permission and if you are 100% certain that you have identified correctly. The BBC had some good advice here; www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/berry-bonanza