“There are olive and orange groves, hills of pine, lavender and sage, and the valleys of wild orchids, cyclamens and anemones. Children snacked straight from the trees on green almonds,figs, apricots, sweet carob pods, pine kernels and many more natural ‘fast foods’. When they were thirsty, they simply drank from the streams of mountain spring water.”
Lebanon is situated in an area of the world that is distinguished for its outstanding natural beauty and abundant and diverse flora. Naturally it has brought forward many herbal and plant remedies and outstanding healers working with the spectacular diverse nature in their homeland. This post can be understood also as a follow up to my post on “Wise Muslim Women Medicine” and my quest for finding and promoting female herbalists and healers in the Muslim world. The inspirations given in here are insh’allah inspiring for Muslims who seek alternatives to such popular alcohol based “quick remedies” as the popular Bach Bluten Therapy (Rescue Remedy) which are essences of flowers in a alcohol solution. The alcohol content in these Bach tinctures is so high it has to be considered a liquor, and it is diluting in my experience the healing properties of the plants.
I have found this Lebanese family owned business, Avicenna Herbs, who are preparing plants and herbs according to Lebanese traditions with added techniques from Alchemical traditions of the East and West. They share much knowledge on the treatment of various illnesses with plants and are masters in the preparation of plants for medicinal purposes in the Middle Eastern tradition. I find their reflection on their homeland – Lebanon – in particular beautiful, and I want to share this with you, as reading it is in itself a healing experience.
“There are olive and orange groves, hills of pine, lavender and sage, and the valleys of wild orchids, cyclamens and anemones. Children snacked straight from the trees on green almonds,figs, apricots, sweet carob pods, pine kernels and many more natural ‘fast foods’. When they were thirsty, they simply drank from the streams of mountain spring water.
Many householders in the villages were proud owners of a small distilling apparatus and with the arrival of spring (…) many put their stills to the service of aromatic plants. Aromatic waters would be carefully and lovingly distilled to produce an abundant supply for the year. In Lebanon, three very precious aromatic plants were harvested and distilled for this purpose: Bitter orange flower, Greek sage herb and Damask rose. March would bring the initial warmth of spring, rousing the sleeping buds of the bitter orange tree. Out came the Stills from their winter snooze to be loaded with handpicked bitter orange blossom, mixed with a little quantity of the tree’s fresh scented leaves. The cherished aroma of neroli and petit grain would permeate the alleyways for the good part of three weeks. Precious orange flower water would be stocked in glass bottles for the year. Before storage, the experienced distiller would always expose these bottles to the strong rays of the sun for a whole day. This transformed the clear water to a faintly orange yellow colour, and was said to improve its quality and prolong its shelf life.
“Flower scented water are also called hydrosols and are gentler than essential oils, making them safer for small children, the elderly or those with weakened immune systems.”
This aromatic water found its way into people’s diet as a delicious flavouring added to various deserts and to create a refreshing homemade lemonade. In Lebanese and Mediterranean folk medicine, it is unrivalled as a calming nervine. Its soothing action is summoned in situations of acute anxiety and distress. Its classical application is as a facial splash for fainting due to emotional shock or psychological strain. ‘Run!! Fetch the bottle of flower water!’ is the first response in such situations. In milder cases, a cupful of the water with added sugar is sipped slowly to calm an agitated person.”.
Flower scented water are also called hydrosols and are gentler than essential oils, making them safer for small children, the elderly or those with weakened immune systems.
Contamination is one concern regarding the production and use of hydrosols. Some people in the aromatherapy community believe caution is necessary because of the potential for bacteria and mold development. However, producers of essential oils and hydrosols claim the distillation process eliminates much of the bacteria, though small amounts of botanical residue may remain. Proper bottling in sterilized containers, preferably glass, helps eliminate contamination, and refrigerating hydrosols may help prolong shelf life. A cloudy hydrosol is a sign that bacteria are present. When in doubt, it’s best to dispose of the product.
Most aromatic waters found on store shelves are derived from synthetic rather than natural sources. Sometimes, essential oils are added to distilled, spring or tap water and then bottled and sold as aromatic waters. These products may also have preservatives, synthetic fragrance oils or alcohol added. While they may have a pleasant scent, fragrance alone doesn’t provide the therapeutic benefits of a true hydrosol.
Only true hydrosols provide therapeutic benefits and you should pay attention to buy scented waters that are naturally made to get the full therapeutic benfits.
For a rescue remedy I am adding this fast recipe for aromatic orange water lemonade. In particular zesty smells are lifting darkened moods and you can also consider adding orange flower water to a rescue remedy bath (follow link for recipe).
Orange blossom essence comes from the citrus flowers family, but the scent is not zesty and bright like that of citrus peel. A lemon and orange blossom combination in particular is pure joy to drink as lemonade.
These recipes for homemade orange water lemonade is a real pick-me-up for tired souls and will give you back joy and a zest for life. You can replace the lemons also with lime.
2 lb lemons (about 8 large ones)
1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
2 Tablespoon orange blossom water
4 sprigs of mint
8 cups cool water
Cut lemons in quarters. In a large bowl, crush lemon pieces with sugar, squeezing out the juice. Cover and let macerate for 2 hours or overnight in the fridge.
Once the lemon and sugar have macerated, add water, mix well and strain. Add orange blossom om water and serve chilled.
Recipe 2 (fast and simple):
In a blender, blend water, orange blossom water, lemon juice, and mint. Pour into glasses filled with crushed ice and serve , or keep in refrigerator until ready to serve.
Posts from this series:
Rescue Remedies against Mental Distress, Part 1: Take a healing bath
Rescue Remedies against Mental Distress, Part 2: Enjoy aromatic water
Rescue Remedies against Mental Distress, Part 3: Smudging