Spring is the season of renewal, with nature discarding the cloak of winter decay and putting on its colourful garments of fragrant new growth. The fields are green and abundant with wild herbs and flowers, most of which can be used as food or as medicine. What a wonderfully abundant part of the world is our precious island, giving us all we need for health and wellbeing. As soon as the citrus trees have been harvested of their delicious fruit, they start to come into flower, spreading their amazing aroma all over the countryside. Bees love orange blossom and make a fantastic honey from its pollen, but the delicate white flowers of the bitter orange tree (citrus aurantium) also produce a highly aromatic essential oil: neroli. This is the oil the famous Eau de Cologne was made of. It is still a component in many expensive perfumes. The essential oil has many healing properties and is a favourite in aromatherapy treatments. The intoxicating aroma is a powerful antidepressant, aphrodisiac, tonic, digestive and cytophylactic, promoting the generation of new cells, which makes it a useful ingredient in anti-aging products.
Calendula, also known as pot marigold, is another bright example of a spring herb which does wonders for the skin, it is packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and flavonoids. The bright yellow flowers, once dried, are infused in almond oil for a month, extracting all the soothing and healing properties of the plant. This precious golden oil can then be used as is or made into salve, healing all kinds of skin problems, such as eczema, psoriasis, rashes, burns, wounds and scars, as well as inflammations and fungal infections. I have seen amazing results with calendula clearing up nasty rashes in just a few days. Used over time, it also reduces scars. The dried flowers make an excellent anti-inflammatory tea, which is soothing to the stomach, effectively fights internal fungal and viral infections and also relieves menstrual cramps. The fresh petals can be added to salads, butter or cakes.
The ultimate queen of spring flowers is undoubtedly the wild rose, Rosa Damascena. Rose yields one of the most exquisite and expensive essential oils. The oil is produced by steam distillation and is used in perfumery, cosmetics and aromatherapy. Vast quantities of freshly picked flowers are necessary for even a small quantity of oil, as many as sixty thousand roses make one ounce, which means sixty roses make just one drop! feminine and sensual, the aroma is truly breathtaking and lifts the spirits. It is rich in antioxidants and has an anti-aging effect on the skin, as it stimulates new cell growth and restores moisture balance. The dried flowers can be brewed as a relaxing and uplifting tea. Rose water, which is often used in confectionary, is also an excellent skin tonic. The village of Agros in Cyprus is known for its production of rose products and hosts an annual Rose Festival in early May, which is well worth a visit.
By Miranda Tringis, Herbalist at www.cyherbia.com