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This has been added to the Herbarium as we wanted a place to offer personal reflections, observations and snippets of information that don’t warrant a full article. Everybody can join in, (use the ‘Comments’ box at the bottom of the ‘Blogservations’ file) but please keep faith with the core values of the Herbarium. We won’t, for instance, accept personal political rants or questions about herbal treatments – there are enough herbal chatrooms for such purposes already.

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Last winter I found myself forced to harvest our Valerian root in freezing mid-February, and rather than the recommended preparation method had to content myself with merely picking out any adhering chunks of dirt (not to mention chunks of ice!) When I came to tincturing it, there was as one might expect a lot of earth in the bucket. No matter, it filtered out all right, and (this is the point) the resulting tincture was more aromatic (evocative of the flowers), much more potent & energetic and, (you’ve guessed it!), more earthing. The best ever, in fact.

On the strength of this, (and here I expect all those of you who still like your herbal medicines pasteurised, standardised and authorised to pass out), we’ve made all our root tinctures this way, simply picking them clean-ish and admiring the mud at the bottom of the bucket. By now we’ve done this with Angelica, Bistort, Echinacea, Elecampane, Liquorice, Lovage, Marshmallow, Poke Root, Solomon’s Seal, Teasel, Rose Root, and half a dozen others. All good. All very, very good. So that’s how we’ll go about it on future.

Are we being reckless? Actually, many gut problems, particularly diverticulosis, have by now (no doubt grudgingly) been strongly associated with the lack of dirt in out diet: we, like parrots, need a bit of grit at the bottom of our cages, and of course those ready-cleaned, double-wrapped vegetables from our supermarkets provide none. And all those bacteria that teem in the soil? Rather than pathogenic to humans, it turns out that they contain in their ranks some of the most useful probiotics – a term that sounds like somebody just invented something, when really it’s just another bit of evidence that we urgently need to restore the relationship that we and nature were once used to sharing, before we decided to take charge and ruin everything.

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