Lice? Natural solution for prevention and treatment.

As our children go back to school, lice start to appear! Lice are a normal phenomenon to children, especially during the first few months of the school year. Their appearance causes parents headaches, as it is thought to be very hard to get rid of lice. However, there is no need to get stressed out. There is a way to get rid of them without using harmful chemical lotions.

It is a myth that the problem occurs on people who don’t have good hygiene.

In contrast with the common belief amongst many people, lice don’t actually get attracted to dirty hair, as they find it hard to get their food source in such conditions. Lice usually get attracted to clean hair. It is extremely easy for children to catch lice from other children, especially between the ages of 3-12, as they tend to get into very close contact with other children.

Live prefer a warm and moist environment and they can be usually found in areas behind the ears and around the hairline close to the neck, where it is warm and dark there.

Lice are tiny grey-white bugs, around 3-4 mm, it can suck blood while glueing its legs on the hair. The female lice lives up to a month and during her life she lays 7-10 eggs a day, which she goues onto hair. The eggs stay at the roots and they get move as hair grows out. Lice don’t fly, nor can it get transferred from animals and pets. A grown lice can survive for 48 – 55 hours away from human skin.

Prevention

The best way to get rid of lice is prevention. Adults and children, when they live in the same environment as someone diagnosed with lice, should check if they have caught them too and to treat it as soon as possible. If they sleep in the same bed, they should get treated whether or not they have been diagnosed having lice or eggs in their hair. If your child has long hair, make sure that before they go school, their hair is tied up in a bun or braided. That way, their hair won’t get in contact with other children’s hair who may have lice. Put 3 drops of lavender on your child’s comb or hair brush. When they b their hair, the oil will stay on the hair and scalp and will repel lice. Other essential oils that can also repel lice are oregano, eucalyptus, tea tree and rosemary, but lavender and rosemary have  more pleasant smell.

Up until now, parents have used toxic, chemical products and repellents, or non organic plant based lotions for prevention. However, both of these two categories show weakness when it comes toattling with lice. These chemical and “plant based” products often cause side effects such as dermatitis, and cause sensitive skin on the scalp. They can also cause hair loss. Lice have developed immunity with these products over the years as well, due to genetic mutation. Because of this, lice seem to be used to these chemical ingredients. On the other hand, most plant based products that are on the market work to prevent lice but they often don’t show satisfying results when it comes to gettin rid of lice.  

In my laboratory, where i make organic herbal products, i have discovered that the distillation of oregano as a hydrolate is very effective and harmless to people and pets, as a bug repellent. I have been using oregano hydrolate to spray the organic plants at Cyherbia. I have recently done research on 5 volunteers to see the effects of using

 oregano hydrolate to get rid of lice and found that i got 100% success on completely getting rid of them in just a few days! Oregano hydrolate is natural, pure, gentle to skin and hair, doesn’t cause ANY side effects, and it quickly acts and gives positive results.

It is very simple to use: spray oregano hydrolate on the hair roots and scalp and leave it in all night. The next morning, you will find dead lice on your/your chid’s pillow. Proceed by combing the hair from roots to ends thoroughly to remove eggs, using a special comb (you can find these at pharmacies). Repeat this procedure for about a week.

You can get organic oregano hydrolate at our shop at Cyherbia Botanical Park in Avgorou, Cyprus, or via our webshop by sending us an email: cyherbia@gmail.com or via facebook/cyherbia.

Miranda Tringis, herbalist.

www.cyherbia.com

Lemon Verbena Days

Lemon Verbena Weekend 16th and 17th of September at Cyherbia Botanical Park in Avgorou.
On Saturday the 16th and Sunday the 17th of September, starting at 11:30 herbalist Miranda Tringis will give a free informative talk on the benefits and uses of Lemon Verbena as a tea, culinary herb, essential oil and medicine.
Straight after, our kitchen fairy Vikki will show you how to make lemon verbena cookies, followed by a demonstration by our cosmetics fairy Polina, who will teach you how to make your own fizzy bath bombs with lemon verbena oil.
All visitors will have the chance to taste FREE lemon verbena ice tea, cake, cookies, even lemon verbena soup! Handouts with recipes will be given out to take home with you.
Normal entrance fees apply, no extra charges.
CLICK/TAP ON THE PICTURE TO WATCH A SNEAK PEAK OF OUR LEMON VERBENA WEEKEND!

Keeping cool in the heat with healthy herbal ice tea

Cyprus is sizzling at this time of year and the summer can seem endless at times. We put ourselves into a lower gear, spend lots of time at the beach or in a pool and stay out of the sun during the hottest hours of the day.

Eating cooling foods such as salads, watermelon or cold soups also help the body cope with the heat, as does herbal ice tea. You have to try it to really appreciate just how much a herbal tea cools you down, but once you do, you’re likely to prefer this healthy drink over anything fizzy or sugary!

This summer why not try one of the two ultra-cooling and constitution-moistening tea blends of herbs and flowers which effectively cool the body, help you relax, boost your metabolism and give a feeling of lightness and wellness! I am sharing the recipes but if you don’t have your own herb patch, you can find the ready made blends at Cyherbia Botanical Park in Avgorou, or order via email cyherbia@gmail.com. 

Cyherbia’s Summer Breeze ice tea blend is an oasis for the body and mind in the midst of heat and

heat stress. To make a litre of this tea you will need half a teaspoon each of mulberry leaf, jasmine, passionflower and fennel seed, and a teaspoon each of lemon balm, hibiscus flower and lemon verbena.

Another delicious ice tea blend is Cyherbia’s Positivi-tea. This is a fresh, relaxing and uplifting blend of herbs, flowers and fruits. To make it yourself use half a teaspoon each of chamomile, red clover, lemon balm, lemon peel and dried apple, and a teaspoon of lemon verbena and hibiscus flowers, for a litre of tea.

To make ice tea all you need is a little preparation ahead. If you use the ready made blend, for a litre of tea put a modest tablespoon of the tea in a teapot or tea press (a cafetiere used only for this  purpose is the handiest), add a pinch of stevia leaves or a little honey and leave your tea to infuse for half an hour. Then strain and put it in a nice glass pitcher. When it has cooled down enough to be placed into the fridge, chill for a few hours and serve with ice cubes.

Ice tea will keep in the fridge for 48 hours maximum.

Stay cool!

Miranda Tringis

Herbalist

Cyherbia Botanical Park, Avgorou

www.cyherbia.com

www.facebook.com/cyherbia

Lavender

Summer has arrived in Cyprus and for us herb folk this means we’re busy as bees! All Mediterranean herbs are at their peak now, ready for harvest. Oregano, thyme, marjoram and hyssop are all vying for our attention and the herb garden is awash with colour and fragrance. But nothing beats the intoxicating aroma and the lilac, blue and purple hues of lavender, which has just started to bloom now. Taking a stroll in the lavender lined gardens, brushing against the plants and releasing its aroma lifts the spirits and dispels all thoughts and worries of the day. Here you can just be, and enjoy the moment.

The climate in Cyprus is very suitable for growing the most fragrant of all 450 varieties of lavender, Lavandula Angustifolia. This variety has the most distinctive floral note and is considered the most valuable for use in perfumery, as well as the most therapeutic. Lavender is one of the most versatile herbs, with a long list of health benefits. It is best known as a relaxant for the nervous system, effective in stress-relief, anxiety, tension and headaches. It is also a powerful antiseptic, antibacterial, analgesic and expectorant, relieving coughs, colds and fever.

We can make a relaxing tea from the dried flower petals to benefit from its therapeutic properties. To make a lavender tea, simply put half a teaspoon of dried lavender flowers in your cup, pour boiling water onto it and let steep for 5 minutes. Then strain and drink. for sweetening you may add a teaspoon of honey or a pinch of stevia.

For external use the essential oil is a must have in every home. It is one of the few essential oils that can be used neat on the skin. To dispel a headache you simply rub one drop of it onto the temples for instant relief. Lavender oil is very helpful in acne. It gets rid of spots and blackheads without drying out the skin. It disinfects cuts, grazes, relieves itching from eczema and dermatitis, repels mosquitoes and heals burns. In fact, the father or modern

aromatherapy, French chemist and scholar René-Maurice Gattefossé discovered the fast healing power of lavender oil when he badly burned his hand in a laboratory experiment in 1910. He quickly poured lavender oil over his burns and was amazed how quickly his wounds healed, with very little scarring. Later, during the first World War he successfully treated wounded soldiers with it. Lavender’s uses are not restricted to tea and aromatherapy, the fresh or dried flowers can also be used in the kitchen! At the herb garden we make lavender cakes and cookies, refreshing ice tea and lemonade, even lavender ice cream and liqueur!

From the 10th until the 25th of June 2017 Cyherbia Botanical Park in Avgorou will host its 6th annual Lavender Festival. The park is home to the biggest lavender garden on the island and even boasts a lavender labyrinth! Celebrating the queen of all herbs, the gardens and tea room will be awash with purples and lilacs. Visitors can take part in the processing of lavender, witness the extraction of lavender essential oil, and taste the special lavender drinks and cookies mentioned above while relaxing in the cool shade of the tea room overlooking the gardens. A tranquil walk in the lavender meditation labyrinth is an experience not to be missed. Craft workshops and presentations will be held, and of course there will be a vast range of organic lavender products on display in the herb shop.

The Lavender Festival truly is a unique experience. For more information on the event program, as well as directions how to get there, please visit cyherbia.com or check their facebook page www.facebook.com/cyherbia.

Warming Winter Spices

Winter is coming, as George R.R. Martin tells us. Although winters are very mild in Cyprus, nevertheless it does get chilly in the evenings and if we’re lucky, we may even get some snow in Troodos and go skiing.

Winter is a time for retreating within. We see this in nature around us. Trees shed their leaves and their energy withdraws deep inside their roots. This is why herbalists harvest roots in October and November, just when this process starts and the roots of medicinal plants are at their energetic peak.

Image result for winter spicesSome of my favourite herbal tea blends for winter include roots, bark and exotic spices. These blends are warming, soothing and comforting like a blanket. The aromas and flavours of spices like cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, nutmeg,  pepper and ginger promote good health and wellbeing and are a perfect healing beverage for coughs and colds.  These spices are cultivated in the tropical and subtropical climates of India, Malaysia, Indonesia and surrounding countries in the Far East and were first brought to the West by the Dutch and Portugese at the end of the 16th century from their colonies. In fact, the Dutch built an entire empire out of the spice trade, chased away the Portugese from their strongholds in the Moluccas (Indonesia) and held a monopoly in the trade for nearly two centuries. During this time, spices such as black pepper and nutmeg were more valuable than gold.

All the aforementioned spices are very rich in minerals, vitamins and antioxidants, therefore useful to build immunity, combat colds, reduce inflammation and generally promote overall health.

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Nutmeg

Nutmeg is a super-spice, packed with valuable nutrients. Always buy whole nutmeg  and grind them in a pepper mill to get the most of their  flavour and benefits.

Cinnamon helps to lower cholesterol, triglycerides and blood sugar levels and  is both antibacterial and antifungal. It also enhances the mood and stimulates the brain.

Ginger is one of those spices no home should be without.  Ginger tea is one of the best flu remedies, especially in combination with honey and some lemon juice. It is a great anti-inflammatory and therefore useful in rheumatic and arthritic pain, helps in nausea, stomach aches and digestive problems and improves the absorption of nutrients in the body.

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Cardamom

Cloves are tiny flower buds but they are giants when it comes to natural health. They’re packed with antioxidants and are anti-fungal, antibacterial, antiseptic and analgesic.

Cardamom is a member of the ginger family. It is an excellent digestive aid, it fights gum disease and  is useful in
urinary problems.

 
Making tea from spices is a great way to boost your health and it tastes delicious too. Image result for winter tea cozy fire These spices need to be crushed with a pestle and mortar, ginger root sliced – a couple of
slices will do- then boiled in water for about five minutes to get all the aromas out.  Add a few chilli flakes or
peppercorns as well if you like. Strain and sweeten with honey. Enjoy your blanket in a cup!

 

 

 

Winter Herbs for Immunity

As the days and nights turn colder even in Cyprus, we may find ourselves and our children coming down with the sniffles, there’s nothing like a warming cup of herbal tea to keep winter chills at bay. There are numerous wild herbs growing on the island to help us combat colds and many other common ailments too. These precious gifts of Nature help us to boost our immunity and keep us strong and healthy.

Medicinal properties of sage revealed | Food Freedom

Sage

Traditionally in Cyprus one of the main herbs to turn to in winter is Sage (Salvia Officinalis). Sage has a pungent and bitter flavour, the endemic Cyprus sage of the mountains Salvia Fruticosa much more so than the cultivated Salvia Officinalis.

Sage is a powerful warming and drying herb, very helpful in clearing up phlegm and cattarh, is anti-microbial, decongestant and antiviral, making it a perfect remedy for colds with lots of phlegm.

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Thyme

Thyme (Thymus Vulgaris) is another local herb with powerful antiviral, expectorant and antimicrobial action. A tea made from the leaves gives immediate relief from

a persistent cough.

You can combine these herbs and make a soothing tea by putting one teaspoon of dried herbs per cup into a teapot, then pour boiling water over them and let the herbs infuse for ten minutes. Strain and sweeten with honey if you wish.

In order to combat dry, persistent coughs we need to turn to other green allies, such as peppermint, licorice root or marshmallow root. These herbs moisten the respiratory tract and soothe the dry irritation, and help to expel any mucus too. Roots and bark should be boiled in a saucepan with water for five to ten minutes in order to release their therapeutic properties. Then strain the herbs and enjoy your healing tea. Licorice root is very sweet of itself so you probably won’t want to add any honey or sugar.

The Cyprus countryside offers us various wild berries too, which are full of vitamins, especially vitamin C, antioxidants and flavonoids.

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Rosehips

When we go on a hiking trip in the mountains we can find blackberries (Rubus Sanctus), elderberries (Sambucus Nigra) and rosehips (Rosa Canina) in great abundance.  These are rich in compounds that disarm viruses and prevent them from taking over healthy cells. We can make a syrup from each of these and take a few teaspoonfuls daily to boost our immunity or to hasten our recovery from a cold. The taste and quality of homemade healthy syrups greatly surpasses any store-bought one and it is a pleasant and easy job to do at home.

Here’s how:

Place one cup of fresh elderberries or rosehips and three cups of water in a Image result for winter teamedium saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer on medium-low for thirty minutes. Mash the berries to release any remaining juice. Strain the mixture into a glass bowl using a cheesecloth. When the liquid has cooled down to room temperature, gently stir in one cup of raw honey and mix thoroughly.

Enjoy the wonderful and delicious gifts of Nature in Cyprus!

 

Energizing Herbs for Vitality

In today’s demanding world, we often find ourselves depleted of energy. Our lives are fast, pressured and stressful. Like it or not, we’re on the treadmill and there seems to be no getting off it. This continuous stress inevitably takes its toll on our body and mind. Most of the time we are tired, overstressed and undernourished, as our bodies are in overdrive producing stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol which use up the vital minerals and nutrients needed elsewhere in the body. Ultimately, chronic stress can lead to many health problems, such as an impaired immune system, diabetes, gastrointestinal problems, insomnia and depression.

Gardening Checklists | Frankie Flowers - Grow, Eat, Live Outdoors ...Time to take control and put a stop to the rat race? It might be difficult but we will have to make some lifestyle changes. Setting a specific ‘down-time’ daily to exercise, take a walk on the beach or do some gardening really helps us to wind down and relax. It is vital to set some time apart daily for physical exercise in any form we like. A healthy diet of fresh vegetables, pulses, fruit, juices and whole grains will ensure the body gets all the nutrients it needs to stay healthy. Avoiding processed foods and eating fresh, natural produce increases our energy levels, especially if we eat raw veggies whenever we can.

Nature really gives us everything we need for health and wellbeing, and Cyprus is a place of abundance when it comes to fresh fruit, vegetables and herbs.

The herbs that help to combat stress and increase vitality, energy and wellbeing are mainly yellow or orange in colour and are ruled by the Sun. Sun herbs promote self confidence, creativity, health, willpower and a sense of wellbeing and abundance.  Such herbs work  on our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual levels.

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Calendula

Pot marigold (Calendula Officinalis), Nasturtium (Tropaeolum) and Everlasting (Helichrysum Italicum)  are all growing abundantly on the island now and are marvellous sun herbs, imparting the Sun’s energies onto us when we use them in salads, as teas or tinctures. Nasturtium and calendula flowers and petals make a beautiful garnish on salads and add spicy flavour, and a tea made from all three of these flowers imparts the plants’ energies, and is delicious as well as a delight to look at!

An important vitality herb is Licorice root (Glykorrhiza Glabra). Licorice is what we call an adaptogen, a plant which regulates stress hormones, is antidepressant and energizing; it promotes balance on all levels. Licorice makes a very tasty, sweet tea and can also be added to other tea blends.

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Milky Oats

Another adaptogen is milky oats (Avena Sativa), a wild plant which can be found all over the island. We can use the flowering tops in tea or make a tincture. This herb is packed with nutrients and one of the top anti-stress herbs. All parts of this common plant nourish and tone the nervous system. Milky oats is an energizer, but it does this cumulatively, building energy slowly and consistently by deeply nourishing the entire body. It alleviates both physical and nervous fatigue, Taken before bed, milky oats tea or tincture supports deep refreshing sleep.

Let’s add a little sunshine to our life with these vitality herbs!

Eat the weeds!

Now the fields are green and the Cyprus countryside is full of them: wild edible plants. Weeds, that is, although that word is rather derogatory, as most wild plants are edible and they are a powerhouse of health! In fact, the Cyprus countryside these months is a free organic vegetable market! Mallow, white mustard, nettles, wild lettuce, even asparagus, grow all over the place, ready for picking. These wild greens are most delicious to eat, and a real boost to our health.  Take mallows for instance, these are the plants with the big round leaves that grow on just about every roadside.

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Of course, it’s best not to pick plants next to the road but go a bit further into the fields to pick clean, uncontaminated plants. In Cyprus mallow is mainly eaten boiled with an olive oil and lemon juice dressing. The water in which it was boiled is an excellent herbal drink to soothe the throat. The boiled plant can be used in pies, egg dishes and soups. Mallow has anti-inflammatory, astringent, laxative and diuretic properties. Mallow is one of the most soothing herbs we can find in Cyprus. Tea made from the dry leaves, stems and flowers are an excellent remedy for dry cough, stomach ulcers, inflammation and constipation.

Wild asparagus is another delectable delicacy.

Image result for asparagus vegetable plantIt takes a little skill to spot them in the spiny bush that protects them, but that’s all part of the fun when it comes to foraging wild foods. The asparagus are the young shoots of the plant, they contain vitamin A, B and C and are very rich in minerals. Medicinally wild asparagus is a powerful diuretic, its consumption helps in prostate enlargement, urinary problems, kidney stones, gout, arthritis and rheumatism.  Asparagus also helps to lower blood pressure, stimulates and nourishes the liver and pancreas and helps in fluid retention. Furthermore, it lowers blood sugar levels, kills parasites  and soothes the intestines. It increases milk flow in breastfeeding women. The seeds of the plant are helpful in male impotence. Do not eat asparagus if you have inflammation in the urinary system, because it will likely worsen the pain. A traditional way to eat wild asparagus is fried with spring onions and egg. The shoots soften and are less bitter if you put them in a bowl of boiling water with salt for 2 minutes before frying.

White mustard plant is another health booster we can find literally everywhere, with its beautiful yellow flowers. Related image

You should only pick the young shoots and tender leaves, with the flower still in bud. Traditionally in Cyprus this plant is eaten boiled, served with an olive oil and lemon juice dressing, but you can add the leaves to egg dishes, make a veggie lasagna or add the young leaves to a salad. The plant is a rich source of vitamins and minerals and an ideal winter food, as it has a warming effect on the body and  has expectorant properties, making it an ideal healing food in coughs and colds. It also ‘cleanses the blood’ and should be an integral part of a winter detox diet. It gives energy and nourishes the entire body.

Stinging nettle really is one of the most nutritious and medicinal plants.

Image result for wild edible plantsNettle is very rich in minerals , especially iron, and is the best natural iron supplement, as all of it gets absorbed by the body. It also contains vitamin A, C and K. to use nettle in cooking we pick only the young tender shoots. Nettle makes an excellent soup, as all the healing properties stay preserved. At Cyherbia we serve soup made with all 3 of the above wild greens, it has become a favourite with visitors. Tea made from nettle relieves a number of health problems such as arthritis, asthma, bladder infections, bronchitis, kidney stones, laryngitis, prostate enlargement and seasonal allergies, as the plant contains natural antihistamines. Externally it is a remedy against hair loss, oily hair and dandruff. In Germany today stinging nettle is sold as an herbal medicine for prostate diseases and as a diuretic. It is a common ingredient in other herbal medicines for rheumatic complaints and inflammatory conditions (especially for the lower urinary tract and prostate) The leaf is used as a diuretic, for arthritis, prostatitis, rheumatism, rheumatoid arthritis, high blood pressure and allergic rhinitis.

With all these benefits, why not take a walk in the fields today and forage your dinner!

Bay Laurel – The Herb of Heroes

The ancient Greeks and Romans held this aromatic Mediterranean tree in very high esteem. They decorated their athletes and heroes with wreaths of bay, giving them the highest honour. This custom still exists today. Bay Laurel is connected with, and symbolizes, wisdom, honour and poetry.

The ancient Greek oracle Pythia used to chew on bay leaves before giving her prophecies, the winners of the Pythian games wore wreaths of bay, with bay the god Apollo redeemed Orestis from the murder of his mother.. Greek mythology is full of tales of this noble tree. The Latin name Laurus Nobilis confirms its noble
attributes.

Let’s take a closer look at our noble Bay.

Using bay leaves in cooking gives amazing flavour and depth to a dish but also helps the body digest the food better. Dry leaves give off a better and stronger aroma than fresh ones. Add 2-3 bay leaves to soups, marinades, meat dishes or oven baked vegetables.

We can also make an aromatic tea from bay leaves. Simply pour some boiling water over 2-3 bay leaves and let this steep for 15 minutes. Bay tea stimulates the imagination and creative inspiration, lifts the mood and opens the 6th and 7th chakras (remember Pythia!). Bay leaf tea also helps the digestion, soothes the stomach, lowers blood sugar levels and triglycerides, soothes the throat and is helpful in diarrhea and intestinal bloating.

If you feel down or stressed, put 2-3 drops of essential oil of beay leaf in a burner. The aroma calms the nerves, improves the mood and gives inspiration.

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The essential oil is also a powerful weapon against hair loss! Just add 5 drops of bay leaf essential oil to your shampoo and conditioner. Stir well. The oil is rich in vitamin E and fatty acids, it improves the hair structure, nourishes and gives a beautiful gloss to the hair shafts, acts against dandruff and strengthens the hair. You can make a strengthening hair mask as follows: Add 4 drops of bay leaf essential oil to 2 tablespoons of coconut oil. Mix well and massage the scalp with this mask. Leave in for half an hour, then wash your hair.

Bay leaf essential oil is also effective in relieving pain, especially rheumatic and arthritic pain, when we use it in a massage blend. Add 5 drops to 50 ml base oil, such as almond oil, and massage the painful areas, or add 5 drops to your bath to help relieve pain.

You can obtain pure organic essential oil of bay from Cyherbia Botanical Park in Avgorou, tel. 99915443, or online from http://cyherbia.com

 

Brief History of Herbalism in Cyprus

Cyprus has a very long history of plant healing, going back to the ancient world when herbs were used to treat common diseases of the time such as leprosy, malaria, polio, skin and eye infections, boils and food poisoning. Healers used special rituals and herbs, such as frankincense, myrrh, olive oil, wormwood and mandrake.

The well known historian and naturalist Pliny mentioned the excellent quality of the herbs of Cyprus. In his book Naturalis Historia he wrote: “The herbs of Cyprus are the best in the entire Roman empire.” The climate and the quality of the soil on the island are ideal for the highest concentration of essential oils in the herbs that grow here. More than 400 different aromatic and medicinal plants are known to grow on the island.

pliny-the-elder

Pliny the Elder

Both Pliny and Dioscorides mentioned a known Cypriot doctor who lived in the 3rd century BC, called Diagoras the Cypriot. He devised the “Great Collirio” which was used to heal burns, keratitis, eye ache and earache.

Cypriot physicians made use of honey as an antibacterial and antiseptic, terminthos (trimithia) in urinary problems and indigestion, fragrant herbs such as lavender, mint and sage as antiseptics and black seed (nigella sativa) was used to treat stomach problems, neuralgia and pain, urinary problems and insect bites. Wine was used to kill staphylococcus, streptococcus, E.coli, and vibrio cholera.

The most famous doctor of the time was Apollodoros of Kition (2nd century BC). He was known as the Cypriot Hippocrates and wrote many medical books. But it wasn’t until the Byzantine times that traditional medicine (iatrosofia) became established. At the same time there was an increasing reliance on cures by saints.

Ordinary folk used home remedies for common ailments which were passed on from generation to generation. When medical attention from a healer was required, an experienced practitioner could be found in almost every village.

Herbal medicine was practiced by physicians, village herbalists, midwives and priests; most monasteries had their own healers. Furthermore, monks were among the few people that knew how to read and write and also travelled a lot, exchanging their knowledge with other healers in far away monasteries.

The most important work on traditional medicine in Cyprus was written by the monk Mitrofanos of the Machaira monastery, who lived in the Ottoman period (1790-1867 AD). This book beautifully documents the herbal tradition of Cyprus and it is worth mentioning that many of the recipes found in the book remain unchanged even today, and have been proven accurate in their healing action.

Herbal medicine was the main way to successfully treat illnesses until the rapid development of synthetic chemistry in the 20th century which offered faster results and was easier to administer, ultimately led to the rejection of natural medicine by the medical profession. The ancient herbal tradition and even the most common home remedies were no longer passed on to the next generation and soon forgotten by most Cypriots.

dioscorides

Dioscorides

After just a few decades however of using synthetic medicine, scientists realized that the possibilities of synthetic drugs had been greatly overestimated in comparison with the active medicinal components of plants. The World Health Organization then decided in 1977 to recommence research of medicinal plant constituents.

Nowadays in the Western world and in Cyprus also people feel they must return to nature to find the way back to health, as modern medicine, unethical farming methods, pollution and our modern lifestyle have disconnected us from the healthy life Cypriots used to enjoy.

By Miranda Tringis, herbalist.