September 2nd, 2013


Herb studies

In this glorious time of my retirement from full time teaching i have rediscovered the joy of making soap. Not just any soap, but soap made with all natural organic ingredients with absolutely no artificial chemicals or additives.

This means i need to become an amateur herbalist, so i can understand and best use the properties of those herbs that can be added to soap for skin care, skin repair and not forgetting hair shampoo bars.......harking back to my childhood, when we bathed on Sunday night and washed our hair with velvet soap ...the same soap used in our laundry, until my Grandmother made her own new batch of soap in the copper using the fat saved from cooking and killing our meats.

Modern methods have eliminated the copper and introduced, vegetable oils, prepackaged tallow, stainless steel and the stick blender,but the basic chemistry of soapmaking remains the same. The herbal additives are age old remedies with sone NewWorld twists. After all Culpepper wrote his Herbal Treatise in 1653. And though some information within it is outdated much remains of invaluable assistance to the soap making and medical profession today.

I have signed up with a Herbal Sage in the UK who will mentor my studies of herbs and their medicinal uses, particularly in Australia. So i will include Eucalyptus and Teatree (melaleuca) on my list of suggested herbs for study. Though our seasons are opposites we can work around those differences with a little flexibility.

Today  i planted Verbena and Catnip ( Nepeta Cataria) to go with the Oregano, thyme, sage, rosemary, calendula, comfrey, garlic , viola and borage already planted. I am considering and researching the idea of a special herb garden rather than have them as now, scattered through both vegie and flower beds. Weeds too, will come under my studies as i have found that many common weeds are supremely effective for skin conditions when incorporated into soap. Many are also edible and deserving of further research (and tastings).
this is my list of herbs to study, but more to come for sure.
Herbs for study
1: cleavers -Gallium Aparine
2: chickweed - Stellaria Media
3: comfrey - Symphytum Officionale
4: nettle -  Urtica Dioica
5: hawthorn- - Crataegus Monogyna
6: ginger -Zingiber Officinale
7:calendula - Calendula Officinalis
8: marshmallow - Althaea Officinalis
9: flax- Linum Usitatissimum
10:aloe vera - Aloe Barbadensis
11: plantain - Plantago Major
12: Raspberry - Rubus Idaeus
13: thyme - Thymus Vulgaris
14: rosemary - Rosmarinus Officinalis
15: sage - Salvia Officinalis
16; dock - Rumex Obtusifolius or Rumex Crispus?
17: herb robert - Geranium Robertianum
18: heartsease -  Viola Tricolour
19: tansy - Tanacetum Vulgare
20: lemon balm - Melissa Officinalis
21: garlic - Allium Sativum
22: elder - Sambucus Nigra
23: catnip - Nepeta Cataria
24: Eucalyptus sp (Eucalyptus Globulus)
25: Teatree - Melaleuca Alternifolia

my next post will contain notes on the first two plants on my list, both are common weeds with uncommonly healthy attributes.