Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Herbal gifts & a cupboard full of goodness

Apologies for the long gap since the last post due to various circumstances including being responsible for co-running a week-long camp at  Samhain, at which herbs in various guises played a part including ritual offerings, Mugwort assisted dreaming, cold remedies & a talk about using herbs to help keep healthy over the winter.  I also had my 50th birthday in November, which feels like a major milestone especially as I am in the process of passing through the transition of menopause.  Then in December like many people I was busy with the lead up to the festive season.  I managed to find time to make some herbal gifts of creams & salves for family and friends, using some of the infused oils & tinctures I have made, which was a lovely way to share some of what I have been doing as a herbwife apprentice during the last year.

Skin Cream

I made some skin creams using Christopher Hedley's basic cream recipe:

1oz base cream
1 teaspoon infused oil
2 teaspoons tincture
4 drops of essential oil

- Add the infused oil or oils if using a combination to the base cream and stir until it is all absorbed.
- Then add the tincture or tinctures if using a combination and stir again.
- Add the essential oil & stir in.
- Spoon into small jars with screw top lids & label.

I used Olive Tree Rich Cream Base from Baldwins herbal suppliers for my base cream.

I made a soothing skin cream with 4oz base cream, 1 teaspoon Rose petal infused oil, 1 teaspoon Calendula infused oil, 1 teaspoon Marshmallow infused oil, 1 teaspoon of Elderflower infused oil, 4 teaspoons of Rose petal tincture & 4  teaspoons of Elderflower tincture.  These are moisturising & soothing for dry skin.  I didn't use essential oils, just infused oils.

I also made Rose & Elderflower skin cream using just Rose & Elderflower infused oils & tinctures in equal proportions.

Cream, oils & tinctures for Soothing Skin Cream

Mixing cream

Soothing Skin Cream

Rose & Elderflower Skin Cream

Back & Joint Salve

I made some Ginger double-infused oil by chopping up a large Ginger root into small chunks then dividing into 2 batches and putting the first batch in a small pan covered with Olive oil and heated over a slightly larger pan of water on a very low heat for 2 hours, then removed the first batch of Ginger and put in the second batch into the same oil to heat for another 2 hours, the oil was strained through a piece of muslin over a sieve into a jar and labelled.

I made a salve for soothing back & joint pain using:

3 fluid oz Meadowsweet infused oil - which has pain-relieving properties
3 fluid oz St John's Wort sun-infused oil - which relieves nerve pain
2 fluid oz Ginger oil - which is walming & soothing for inflamed joints
2 fluid oz Marshmallow oil - which is lubricating & soothing
1 oz chopped beeswax - which makes the salve set & has healing properties

This was heated in a small pan in a slightly larger pan of water on a low heat and stirred until the beeswax all melted.  The salve was then poured into small jars and left to set then the lids were put on and the jars were labelled.

 Making Ginger double-infused oil

Root Ginger infused oil

 Back & Joint Salve

To mark the end of my first year of the herbwife apprenticeship and beginning of the next year I have taken stock of the remedies I have made over the past year and listed them all in an inventory.  This will be useful to help me keep track of my growing pharmacopeia of remedies and to plan for remedies I need to make this year.  I also made a list of the books I have read or used for reference over the last year.  I already have some books lined up to read to continue to deepen my knowledge and appreciation of herbs as allies for health & well-being over this coming year.

 Creams & salves in my bathroom cabinet

Oils, salves, flower essences & dried herbs

Herbal vinegars

Tinctures & elixirs

Tinctures, elixirs, glycerites & preserves

Herbal honeys

Herbal books

I look forward to continuing to share my learning and reflections on my journey as a herbwife with my readers over the next year.  Thanks for all the positive comments I have received over the past year, they are really appreciated.  Please do post a comment if you want to know more about anything I have posted, I am happy to share information with others who share my interest in all things herbal.


  1. Fascinating as usual...congrats on five oh! I've just turned 49 last week so do chaps do menopause too?

    1. Some people do identify something called the andropause (from memory)as testosterone levels fall off but it's not as clear cut as with women - and for us there is this clear marker of the end of fertility which has many psychological ramifications. As you know it is possible (though not necessarily desirable) for men to father children very late in life. Jung said for all of us afer forty is a very significant time when we go through a process called individuation. But I'll eave you to look that up. Best wishes ...

    2. There is an analogous though not exactly the same process for men called the andropause as testosterone levels do drop after the age of 40 which can cause similar effects to the menopause. Susun Weed recommends a book called 'Male Menopause' by Jed Diamond for information on the andropause.