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Medicinal herbs from the Alps

Medicinal herbs from the Alps

Dandelion, Dog tooth (Dandelion) - Taraxacum officinale

Habitat: spontaneous from the plain to the mountain areas.

In spring it is a very common sight in Trentino to observe women and children armed with sharp knives invading fields and meadows that are now becoming green. All this tinkering is aimed at the collection of dandelions (or dog's tooth) to prepare tasty salads at home. It is a plant that does not need particular descriptions, being widespread everywhere and universally known.
The gastronomic habit of consuming fresh leaves with great taste dates back to ancient times and is dictated by a natural need of the body which, poisoned by the long rest of the winter, claims something to effectively cleanse the blood, liver and bile. So, tasting these tasty salads of dog teeth, we do, without knowing it, an energetic purifying treatment.
The most important part of the dandelion is, however, the root that is collected in the spring or, better yet, in the autumn. It is washed vigorously in water and dried thoroughly in the sun. It constitutes the sovereign remedy in liver dysfunctions, jaundice, gallstones, organs, those named, which are very important and which are solicited or cured by the numerous medicinal principles contained in the root itself. In addition to these virtues, since ancient times, febrifugal, tonic, diuretic, laxative, antihemorrhoidal and depurative properties have been attributed to the dandelion root.
The root is used in the form of a decoction by boiling it in a liter of water for a quarter of an hour. Three cups of this decoction should be drunk daily for two or three weeks in cases of liver or bile disease. Instead, for a normal purifying treatment, a single cup is sufficient in the morning on an empty stomach. A more complete purifying treatment consists of the decoction composed of a pinch of dandelion root, one of burdock root, one of centaurea and one of chicory root. A glass a day for twenty or thirty days of this very bitter decoction will do real miracles. Those who prefer it, can always prepare an excellent dandelion wine, infusing for eight days a handful of chopped root in a liter of generous white wine. Half a glass with meals of this wine will be an irreplaceable cure-both for digestion and for the proper functioning of the liver and bile.


Dog tooth (dandelion) - Lavender - Plantain

Lavender - Lavanda officinalis

Habitat: arid mountain areas, spontaneous and cultivated.

It is an elegant bushy plant with erect and branching branches that grows spontaneously and perennially in arid or stony places or on well exposed bumps. It is also cultivated in vegetable gardens and in gardens or even on an industrial scale to extract the fragrant essence known now all over the world. If lavender arouses us fond memories of neat and clean houses, of our grandmothers' chests of drawers in which the linen smelled of spike, nevertheless this plant has significant medicinal virtues.
Who does not remember the famous asedo de spic that was prepared in the spring by putting an abundant handful of wheat flowers in a liter of vinegar? The wraps of this miraculous vinegar were used to calm an excruciating headache or sudden dizziness.
Lavender oil is also excellent, prepared by macerating, for a few weeks, a handful of these flowers in half a liter of olive oil. Five drops of lavender oil taken on a sugar cube twice a day favor the expulsion of superfluous gases from the intestine, so harmful to the stomach, heart and even the brain. The lavender flowers are also antispasmodic and are excellent for calming the access of asthma, convulsive coughs, attacks of laryngitis shrill in the badly fallen. So lavender flowers are antiseptic, disinfectant, therefore, they are useful in influences, improving, among other things, the secretion of the bronchi. Linfuso, to be taken at the rate of four cups a day, is prepared with the usual handful of flowers in a liter of boiling water. Warm compresses of lavender flowers cooked in wine can help resolve troublesome swelling in the belly and calm violent bladder pain in cases of urine retention. Lavender tincture is excellent for washing sores and wounds and for applying, as a soothing, on painful bumps. It is prepared with a handful of flowers soaked in a liter of grappa. In case of states of shock and severe migraines, it can be administered to the patient by reason of a few drops on a sugar nut. And to conclude, mention should be made of the antiseptic and delicately scented lavender water, which is very suitable for hygiene and daily cleaning. It is prepared by macerating for fifteen days in half a liter of pure alcohol a hectogram of lavender flowers, then it is filtered and kept tightly closed.

Plantain - Plantago lanceolata

Habitat: from the plain to the mountain areas.

It has astringent and energetically healing effects. This is why it is used in the treatment of varicose ulcers, torn pustules, scrofulous ulcers, purulent sores and in certain skin diseases or in annoying and persistent nasal bleeding. It is sufficient for this purpose to thoroughly clean the leaves, chop them more or less finely according to use and apply them to the diseased part.
For internal use, plantain has a strong astringent and antihaemorrhagic action. The decoction, prepared with half a hectogram of leaves boiled in half a liter of water and taken at the rate of two glasses a day, serves very well in case of dysentery, diarrheal enteritis, chronic nephritis, metroraggie and movements of the uterus. it is unsurpassed to purify the blood, lungs and stomach, to quell coughs, to tone up frail children, being the most active plantain of cod liver oil itself. One shot a day of freshly squeezed plantain leaves will serve this purpose. For the winter, the juice will be replaced by the syrup obtained by boiling three or four abundant handfuls of plantain leaves for three hours, fresh or dried, and a handful of juniper berries in three liters of water. The liquid is filtered and used at the rate of two glasses per day. In case of laryngitis, tracheitis, lowering of voice, hoarseness, frequent gargling with decoction of plantain is needed. The same decoction will still serve in intermittent, malarial or Maltese fevers, in inflammatory states of the digestive and urogenital system. For frequent eye inflammations, just boil a handful of plantain and one of rose petals in a liter of water: frequent washing and compresses will calm the most annoying inflammations.

Ferrante Cappelletti Herbal health Medicinal plants of the Alps Publilux Trento 1977

Dandelion - Taraxacum officinale (photo www.dcnature.com)


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