Here’s a fun and colorful way to get rid of stress and ailments: medicinal flowers. Yes, you read it right. Flowers are now more than just garden and home accents; they can now be eaten and used as treatment for different health conditions. Echinacea, nasturtium, calendula, chamomile, red clover, yarrow, lavender are some medicinal flowers that are low-maintenance (soil, sun, space, and you’re done!) but are packed with nutritional benefits.
You can use Echinacea to as a treatment for fever and ear infections. Nasturtium contains vitamin C, mustard oil, carotenoids, and glucosinolates that are essential in treating urinary and respiratory tract infections. If you’re suffering from menstrual cramps, fever, muscle spasms, sore throat, duodenal and stomach ulcers, whip up a cup of warm calendula tea. Matricaria Recutita, or chamomile, has been used since the ancient times to treat nausea, asthma, colic, inflammations, various skin diseases, children’s ailments, and cancer. Calcium, vitamin C, chromium, niacin, thiamine, potassium, magnesium and phosphorus are just some of the many nutrients found in red clover. These nutrients help treat hot flashes, PMS, lower cholesterol levels, improve blood circulation and urine function. Red clover also helps women keep their breasts healthy. Coming from the sunflower family is yarrow, which can help relieve cramps and hormonal issues. Lavender, aside from its relaxing scent, helps treat hair loss, depression, insomnia, anxiety, and abdominal swelling. You can mix these flowers with other ingredients to create salves, topical creams, teas, tinctures, and herb-infused oils for various uses such as treatment for ailments, immunity boost, calming, and healing.
The benefits of using medicinal flowers is that you’re using natural ingredients for treatments. These are not as expensive as over-the-counter drugs and chances are, you won’t be suffering from the scary side effects. If you have these medicinal flowers in your garden and you want to maximize the benefits you can get from them, read the tips below to know how to properly harvest, dry, and store them.
HOW TO HARVEST MEDICINAL FLOWERS
This is a crucial step because medicinal flowers are very delicate. Here are some tips on how to harvest these therapeutic blooms:
- The best time to harvest medicinal flowers is at midday. When it’s late in the afternoon they slowly begin to close and you’ll have to wait again until midday for them to open. It’s also best if you harvest these blooms on a dry day because they’re not too moist and easy to dry.
- Medicinal flowers become less potent once they start to wilt so harvest them just before they reach their full bloom.
- Cut the flowers near the base. Keep less than an inch of the stem.
- Put the harvested flowers in a container or paper bag to protect them.
- Once you harvest the flowers, put them on a table at the drying area immediately. Keep the flowers from wilting and bruising and do not store them in an airtight container.
HOW TO DRY MEDICINAL FLOWERS
The drying process is just as important if you want to maximize the benefits that you can get from medicinal flowers. You can either air dry them or use a dehydrator.
- Carefully place the flowers on the dehydrator. Make sure that there is enough space between the flowers so that their petals and stems are not touching.
- Set the temperature at 90-100 degrees and check every sixty minutes to monitor the progress. The time it takes for the flowers to dry depends on their moisture content and size. The amount of flowers you’re drying is also a factor. The process usually takes two to ten hours.
Compared to the using the dehydrator, air drying doesn’t require much work. However, this process takes much longer since requires more time.
- Place the flower heads face down on a paper towel, dish towel, or old window screen so the air can flow freely underneath.
- Find a spot for them that’s well-ventilated, cool, and shaded.
- Keep rotating the flower heads from time to time until they’re completely dry. The process may take a week.
You can store the medicinal flowers once they’re 100% dry.
HOW TO STORE MEDICINAL FLOWERS
Remove the medicinal flowers from the dehydrator once they’ve dried. Place them in a mason jar, paper bag, or plastic container. You may opt to keep the whole flower head or pluck the petals and store them. The choice is yours. Some people prefer to use the whole flower head so they don’t lose any medicinal benefit.
Put the container in a room that’s dark and cool. This will help medicinal flowers keep their nutritional properties. As much as possible, use the flowers within twelve months of harvest. Since medicinal flowers are like spices and herbs, there’s a high chance that you can still use them beyond that period for as long as you store them properly. There’s a possibility, however, that their benefits and potency will be gone by then.