It’s root harvest time of year so today I unearthed some Figwort roots (Scrophularia nodosa). This Queen of the herbs is certainly one among the hundreds of plants we grow and wild plants we use that my attention comes back to time and time again.
If you wish to know more about Figworts INTERNAL medicinal uses check out our Here Comes The Queen article.
The roots I dug up today are for making an oil for external skin remedies to be used in – creams, ointments, lotions, gels or mixed oil formulas. This lime green knobbly root has skin soothing, healing and anti-inflammatory actions for skin rashes, swellings, haemorrhoids, itchy skin conditions like psoriasis or types of weeping eczema. Figworts external healing action is also used for pustule/ vesicular type skin eruptions including those of: Chicken pox (varicella virus); Impetigo (Staph/ Strep bacterium), Shingles (herpes zoster virus), Cold sores (herpes simple virus) and certainly forms of dermatitis too. I made an oil from the leaf last summer which is also useful externally for the above. As herbalists and naturopaths we ALWAYS treat skin conditions internally but being able to soothe the uncomfortable symptoms and tackle externally is key too.
These roots are carefully washed and dried slowly before making a low heat, hot oil extraction over several days. When you go to make up an ointment or cream for someone your formulation always adapts for that person and the presentation and symptoms of their skin issue. There are so many other external skin herbs that are effective for skin conditions and would be mixed in a remedy with Figwort leaf or root oil depending on the specifics. Examples are Comfrey, Japanese Knotweed, Goldenseal, Burdock, Chickweed, Calendula and many more!
So we like making fresh oils and other extractions of lots of plants from the garden to have to hand and in good quantity for making external remedies. We have already made our list of new hydrosols, oils and glycerites from lesser used parts of our plants for the year ahead. To make the most of your herb garden you need to be on the ball! Be ready by knowing what and how much of a type of extraction you wish to make in advance. Otherwise you’ll find you have missed their optimum harvesting stage in a blink of the eye, especially if it rains continuously for weeks (which happens often in Ireland!) and they have moved on in their growth for the year.
Remember, medicinal plants want to and need to be used. Don’t be afraid to harvest from your plants when the time is right. Just be respectful. They are as energetic as you and me, just a lot more selfless in giving their energy!