Friday, May 23, 2008

Herbal Wine

It seemed as good a day as any to get along on the Poppy Sake` project, the purpose of which is to produce a calming sleep supporting medicinal wine. The California Poppies have made themselves quite comfortable in the front and back yards over the past year. One big clump was just right for my needs. The most potent part of the Cal Pop is the root, but the aerial parts are good too when harvested at the point where there are late flowers and seed pods. There are a few different ways to prepare herbal concoctions; water decoctions, extraction, tincturing and pills. An herbal wine is about the easiest, although the alcohol % is low and wont tease out all the active constituents, it is an easy gentle and traditional delivery system. In Chinese Medicinal Wines and Elixirs by Bob Flaws different methods and strengths of spirit are advised depending on the condition addressed, most use something like Sake`, Huang Jui or Yellow Wine, and they age in a sealed container for a month. According to Richo Cech's Making Plant Medicine if you use the fresh herb and macerate the material (put it in a blender and with the alcohol and make a strange smoothie) then the time can be shortened to two weeks. California Poppy or Eschscholzia californica, is used  to treat insomnia, anxiety, mild pain, and in children, ADD type issues. Cal Pop does not have the addictive properties of its opium cousin, Papaver Somniferum, nor is it anywhere near as strong for pain relief. In the picture to the left you can
see, clockwise starting at 5'clock, leaf, flower, seed pod, and chopped root. The roots seep bright orange when nicked. Because we had some and it seemed like a nice addition, I picked some Lemon Balm, Mellisa officianalis, used to allay anxiety, worry, depression and agitation, it is also a relaxant digestive, and can be used to for fever. Ancient sources thought if it as a longevity herb. Current German research shows infulence on the Limbic system of the brain which controls the emotions and nervous system. Lemon Balm is top left in the picture. Top right is Jin Yin Hua, Honeysuckle Flower, Lonceria Japonica, Gold and Silver Flower, in terms of Chinese Medicine it clears heat and toxin, basically inflammation. The freshly picked Lemon Balm and Honeysuckle smell so fantastic together, delicious! Da Zao, Ziziphus Jujuba, Jujube, "Big Date", this Chinese herb nourishes the blood and calms the spirit. Research shows it has a restorative effect on the liver. You have probably figured out the Da Zao are the wrinkly red things. The idea of this little concoction is to help with sleep. the main herb, Cal Pop, does that. It is supported by Lemon Balm, which relaxes and restores the nervous system and helps with digestion. Poor digestion can a cause of insomnia. Because alcohol in general is heating and too much internal heat can be another cause of insomnia, to balance this out is the energetically cooling Jin Yin Hua, which also decreases inflammation, and who doesn't have a little inflammation somewhere. Da Zao helps with sleep, obviously, by calming, but also because healthy blood if important for sleeping. Da Zao as well is an herb that harmonizes the other herbs in a formula. 

Everything is put in the oft used blender with a bottle of Sake`, I used Sho Chiku Bai Nigori unfiltered no sulfites, and given a good whirr, then transferred to a Mason jar which is placed in a dark cupboard and shaken every day for two weeks. At the end of this time the plant material is strained out ( a couple times ) and the extraction re-bottled. A dose of medicinal wine is 2 oz., a shot glass. Bob Flaws recommends dosing until you feel the warming effects but are not drunk. If this sort of thing interests you get one or both of the books mentioned. And for goodness sake don't go out and try this based only on reading my silly blog!


archi's mum said...

aw heck, i barely cook so i wouldn't do it just based on the blog, but it sounds cool... i think i'll go grab a glass of wine ;-)

YowlYY said...

I would not dare to try it out...what if I get the wrong quantities?!? I'd rather play it safe too and get a bottle of Cannonau di Ierzu (my favourite red from Sardinia)...but then again I doubt that the result would be the same ;-)

M.KATE said...

We love to eat chicken cooked in herbal wine, a must for Chinese during their confinement period (after birth) :)

Amy-and-Fez said...

My my, that all looks very complex. Can I just eat the plants? I like to eat.

I tagged Tyler and Sydney for a name meme, are they allowed to play? Pretty please?