Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Mrs. Greenhands - BlackBerry winter

(Please remember - this author is not suggesting any type of herbal or alternative medicines.  Consult a doctor or healthcare provider before using any type of herbal or alternative medicine.)
Blackberries in bloom
bdr
Ever wonder why the Bluegrass was so cold this past weekend?  If you are an older gardener, or remember your grandparents gardening, then you know we are having a "Blackberry Winter." Old gardening lore tells us that when the Blackberries start blooming in May, we will usually have a snap of cold weather, and this is certainly true of this past weekend.  Blackberries, or Rubus species, are blooming all over Kentucky, blanketing the countryside with a sea of white blossoms.
Blackberries fall into two distinct categories:  wild and thornless.  WildBlackberries are tall with thorny, arching canes and compound leaves. The marble size berries start out red and slowly turn a deep purple-black color when fully ripe. The Blackberry canes are biennials - living only two years - while the roots are perennial - living indefinitely.Blackberries of both types multiply by spreading roots
Thornless Blackberries, or tame Blackberries are just as their name suggests. These canes contain no thorns and make harvesting very easy. Typically theBlackberries of thornless varieties are much larger, but they also contain larger seeds. Many people prefer the taste of tame berries to wild berries, but personally, I think the wild ones taste much better.
Edible Blackberries: Every portion of the Blackberry -  leaves, berries and roots - are edible or medicinal.  Naturally, the berries are the prized element ofBlackberries and they can be eaten raw right off the vine or cooked into delicious desserts.  Blackberries also make yummy jams and jellies.  Young edible shoots can be harvested in the spring, peeled and used in salads.  TheBlackberry leaves also make a great tea, rich in Vitamin A and several minerals.
 
Medicinal Blackberries: The leaf is more commonly used as a medicinal herb, but the root also has medicinal value.
  •  The root-bark and the leaves are astringent and diuretic. They make an excellent alternative medicine for dysentery, **diarrhea, hemorrhoids, and cystitis.
  •  Orally, the roots can be used to treat sore throats, mouth ulcers and gum inflammations.
  •  A decoction of the leaves is useful as a gargle in treating thrush and also makes a good general mouthwash.
  •  The presence of large amounts of tannins that give Blackberryroots and leaves an astringent effect useful for treating diarrhea are also helpful for soothing sore throats.
  •  Medicinal syrup is also made from Blackberry, using the fruit and root bark in honey for a cough remedy.
  •  Blackberry vinegar can be used to sooth the throat by making compresses. Dip a cloth into the vinegar and wrap around the throat, then wrap with a couple of layers of dry cloth - reapply several times daily until throat feels better.
**As a personal note - I have used a tonic to Blackberry leaves and roots to help treat diarrhea naturally and it works great.
Blackberries contain bioflavonoids, which have weak estrogenic activity (1/50,000 the strength of estrogen).  Even though the estrogen properties are low, Blackberries are very effective in controlling such common menopausal symptoms as hot flashes, anxiety, irritability, and fatigue. I have just started experimenting with this to see if it will help my hot flashes and anxiety, so I'll keep you updated.
Trivia:  Centuries ago,  Blackberries were  supposed to give protection against all 'evil runes,' if gathered at the right time of the moon. Ancient Greek physicians prescribed the herb for gout, but the most common uses were for treating diarrhea, sore throats, and wounds. Native Americans made fiber, obtained from the stem, and used it to make a strong twine.  Blackberry brambles were also used as a barricade around villages to protect them from 4 and 2 legged predators.
For more information on Blackberries in Kentucky, check out this article from the UK Cooperative Extension Office and Kentucky Proud.

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