Friday, 26 September 2014

Nature's Medicine Cabinet.

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.

16 comments:

  1. Fascinating, B2B. Is the tincture fundamentally different to the tablets? Obviously it can be used externally, but the tablets are excellent natural anti-depressants and I wondered whether the tincture or tea works in the same way. Axxx

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    1. Yes it can be used like the tablets but the dose would be a bit difficult to measure.

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  2. Thanks for all the extra info on this BtoB. I was utterly amazed at how my dog bite healed so quickly with it's use. And it was a very deep bite so I was a little sceptical. I'm always going to make sure I have a supply in the house

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    1. I keep some in the kitchen cabinet. It's good for insect bites too.

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  3. . . isn't it just! Have you got your copy of Culpepper's Herbal? ' A tincture of the flowers in spirit of wine, is commended against melancholy and madness'.

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    1. Better than pills , tastier anyway.

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  4. DEar Annie, thanks for the info--both the pluses and the possible side effects. I'm not sure if this will help you but doing the blogging A-Z challenge in April of this year one of the bloggers I follow--Manzanita who is 83--wrote about a different herb or plant used in medicine each day. Here's her site: http://beajayblock.blogspot.com/
    If you go to her listing for 2014/April you will find all the postings--30 of them.

    Peace.

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  5. Annie, Remedy for age-related memory loss? Sign me up for that, that . . . uh, what was that? Oh yeah, St. John's port, er, wort. Thanks for the tip.

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  6. Liam could do with some help with the old grey matter. Me too I suppose!

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    1. A few petals in your nightly glass or red.

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  7. It really is fascinating BB, the generous source of natural remedy at your part of the world always amazes me. And yes please, sign me for that re weak memory too! Sevgiler, Ozlem

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    1. I'm sure they have it in Holland and Barrat.

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  8. Very interesting, BtoB. The flower looks so pretty, who would guess? Not sure I've ever noticed it though but will keep my eyes open! Maybe Assos has it? Kantaron eh!

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  9. The flowers are small, not very noticeable unless you are looking for it.

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