Herb info 08/2017: Alder.
In Finland, we have two species of alder: speckled alder (Alnus incana) and black alder (Alnus glutinosa). All species of alder can be used, although some species' leaves are more aromatic than those of others.
Alder's useful parts are cones, young catkins (male flowers), young twigs and young leaves. The cones are:
• astringent, that is, drying.
The other parts are also:
• mildly aromatic, that is, warming and drying
• a little bitter, that is, cooling and drying.
The catkins, twigs and young leaves are fairly good for infections and inflammations. I'm not sure if the cones work for infections, except of course locally.
Make a tea of the cones: add 10–15 cones to 250 ml water in a pan and bring to a boil. Let simmer about 15 minutes and drink in small sips for diarrhoea, irritable bowel and similar gut problems. (Chronic bowel problems are often caused by food intolerances. It's best to completely remove the offending food group from your diet.)
Make a tea or a tincture from the catkins, twigs and/or leaves for hay fever. Also give them a try for inflammations, eczema, hard-to-heal wounds and to strengthen the immune and lymphatic systems.
If you cut an alder, the wood soon turns red. The Finnish word for alder, leppä, is an old word for blood.
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