I've been talked into giving a lecture on the natural remedies found in this part of Turkey and this has had me going through all my old posts looking for inspiration. I was surprised to find a few that I'd written, but never posted. It's always a nice surprise to find a ready-made blog post that only needs a bit of updating.
St John's Wort - Kantaron
If you walk around any rural market in this area, you will see plastic water bottles filled with a red or burgundy coloured oil. If you ask what it is you'll be told "Kantaron" or Kantron" and this will be accompanied by a mime of rubbing an arm or face. The bottle will set you back between 7 and 10 TL and I suggest you purchase a supply for your medicine cupboard. What you are actually buying is a tincture of St John's Wort, which for centuries has been a renown cure-all. In ancient times it was hung over front doors to ward off evil and disease. In Germany it is medically accepted as an effective treatment for depression and in Turkey it is used to cure boils, burns, cuts, cold sores, piles, insect bites. muscle pain and ear-ache. My fellow blogger Ayak, was sold some by a pharmacist to treat a dog bite and she was impressed at its curative properties. It is clinically proven to be anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory. It is also undergoing trials to see if it is effective in treating age-related memory loss, and tests on mice are positive so far. (Do mice have problems remembering where they left their keys?) It is also traditionally used in some countries, (but not here) to reduce cravings for alcohol.
It has its drawback backs though. It interacts with many commonly taken drugs, so should never be used if you are taking prescribed medicine without first checking with your doctors, especially if you are taking anti-depressants. It also makes skin sensitive to sunlight, so if using it you have to keep well in the shade. It is poisonous to cattle, but the effects of the poison are reduced if the animals are kept out of the sun.
It is a common weed, so now you've seen the picture, you will notice it everywhere, especially in Spring. To make the tincture, either the buds of the plant or the seed pods are collected and put in jars for 24 hours, then olive oil is poured on top and the jars left in the sun for 6 to 8 weeks. The resulting red liquid is then strained into bottles. The whole plant is often pulled up and dried and used as tea, and in other countries, 40 grams of flowers are infused in 1 litre of wine, left for a month, strained and sweetened and 2 tablespoons are taken daily as a pick-me-up!
The more I research local remedies, the more I find that are backed up by scientific studies. It's a fascinating subject.