Miriam Kwari Herbal Space
Hello friends and welcome to yet another edition of Herbal Space. Let me hasten to thank all the friends who read this column, your support and feedback is much appreciated. It is also an amazing feeling when I meet people in town and they quickly acknowledge their interest in these articles.
Today we continue with our A-Z list of herbs. We are looking at Devil’s Claw, scientifically known as Harpagophytum procumbens. It owes its inauspicious name to its fruit, which bears several small, hook-like projections. The plant originates from the Kalahari desert and also found in parts of Southern Africa. The devil’s claw has historically been used to treat and relieve joint pain caused by osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, sports injuries, and muscle pain as well as a wide range of other conditions such as fever, gout, malaria and indigestion. The devil’s claw offers slow but sure relief of pain.
The roots of the plant are used to treat the ailments mentioned above. The devil’s claw can be found as a concentrated extract or powder. It is also used as an ingredient in herbal teas.
Do not take devil’s claw if you are pregnant, have gallstones or ulcers, or are taking an antacid or blood thinners. It can affect heart rate and may interfere with cardiac, blood-thinning and diabetes medication. It may also cause diarrhoea.
Some natural remedies for wintertime health
Our traditional grandmothers were not only a housewives but also doctors. Folklore healing traditions were in action; corrective uses of herbs were continued and handed down from one generation to the next generation. Thanks to our grandmothers who swore by these natural herbal remedies. We have herbal remedies at our fingertips during a season in which ailments abound.
Today, a healthy mind means a healthy body. That being said, illnesses that include coughing like bronchitis or the strain of the flu going around this time of the year can be exhausting and uncomfortable because they limit the ability to sleep restfully.
In these cases, I turn to homemade syrup to ease the coughing so the afflicted can get some rest which is also very important to illness recovery.
Honey soothes the cough by itself. Ginger is naturally anti-inflammatory and has an expectorant action. Chamomile soothes muscles, making it useful in relieving the “tickle” in the throat, plus it promotes restful sleep. Marshmallow root has one of the highest mucilaginous contents of all herbs and coats and soothes the throat.
Cinnamon helps boost immune system and improve taste.
Herbal cough syrup recipe
The combination of herbs helps sooth the throat to ease coughing and promote restful sleep. I only use this remedy on children over 1 year of age due to the honey, though you can substitute maple syrup in place of honey.
This soothing cough syrup uses honey, herbs and citrus to calm coughing and sore throat.
1 litre of water
1/4 cup Ginger Root fresh grated or dried
1/4 cup Chamomile Flowers
1/4 cup Marshmallow Root
1 tablespoon Cinnamon
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 cup honey
- Pour the water into a medium saucepan and add the dried herbs.
- Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.
- Simmer until the volume is reduced by about half. (You will need 1 cup of liquid after herbs are strained off)
- Pour through a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth to remove herbs.
- While liquid is still warm (not boiling) mix with lemon juice and honey and stir well.
- Store in airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 months.
Dandelion tummy bitters recipe
Keep these dandelion bitters on hand to aid digestion after your next big feast.
Dandelion tummy bitters recipe
- 2 parts dandelion root • 1 part fennel seed • 1/2 part ginger root • 1/2 part orange peel • vodka
- If tincturing fresh herbs, first clean them, then finely chop or grind them. Fill 1/2 of glass jar with the mixture. If tincturing dried herbs, only fill 1/3 of the jar, as dried roots will expand.
- Cover herbs with vodka, filling to the very top of the jar. Be sure your herb mixture is completely covered.
- Allow mixture to extract for 6 to 8 weeks, shaking often. Strain herbs with cheesecloth and squeeze any remaining liquid back into the extract. Bottle liquid thereafter.
Remember to keep sipping on GRAVIOLA every night.
The writer, Miriam Kwari is a Herbalist from Mutare and can be contacted on +263773378571 or @12 Herbert Chitepo Street, Oasis Building, Mutare.