Sunshine in a bottle

‘If you could bottle sunshine,’ a patient said to me, ‘you’d be very rich.’

What would bottled sunshine look like?  Most herbal tinctures are more or less brown.  The ‘colours’ of the herbs tend to come out in their actions, not in how they look, but there are exceptions.  The flowers of St.John’s Wort are a bright clear yellow, and they bloom at midsummer.  St.John’s Wort is one of the best-known herbs for helping to lift mild to moderate depression, so it could well be the closest thing to bottled sunshine.

Or what about Calendula?  Tincture made from the flowers keeps their lovely golden colour.  Culpeper thought that just looking at the flowers helped to chase out melancholy, and as a herb, it certainly has a tonic action, waking up your immune system and healing gastritis.  On the other hand, there are plenty of yellow-flowered herbs that don’t lift your mood, though if you think of general vitality as ‘sunshine’, then increasing that is what most herbs are about.

‘Feelgood’ herbs come in all shapes and sizes, from the tonic roots loved by Chinese medicine, such as Korean Ginseng and Chinese Angelica, to the green leaves of Basil, rich in essential oil which is said to promote enthusiasm, to the blue flowers of Borage which ‘bring alwey corage’ according to Gerard.  Lots of plants can help us get through the dark days of winter, but there’s no substitute for real sunshine. 

‘If you could bottle sunshine,’ a patient said to me, ‘you’d be very rich.’
What would bottled sunshine look like? Most herbal tinctures are more or less brown. The ‘colours’ of the herbs tend to come out in their actions, not in how they look, but there are exceptions. The flowers of St.John’s Wort are a bright clear yellow, and they bloom at midsummer. St.John’s Wort is one of the best-known herbs for helping to lift mild to moderate depression, so it could well be the closest thing to bottled sunshine.
Or what about Calendula? Tincture made from the flowers keeps their lovely golden colour. Culpeper thought that just looking at the flowers helped to chase out melancholy, and as a herb, it certainly has a tonic action, waking up your immune system and healing gastritis. On the other hand, there are plenty of yellow-flowered herbs that don’t lift your mood, though if you think of general vitality as ‘sunshine’, then increasing that is what most herbs are about.
‘Feelgood’ herbs come in all shapes and sizes, from the tonic roots loved by Chinese medicine, such as Korean Ginseng and Chinese Angelica, to the green leaves of Basil, rich in essential oil which is said to promote enthusiasm, to the blue flowers of Borage which ‘bring alwey corage’ according to Gerard. Lots of plants can help us get through the dark days of winter, but there’s no substitute for real sunshine.
These days, it’s back in fashion. Yes, you risk skin cancer if you get too much of it, but most of us don’t get enough. And it’s not just about vitamin D, though that is important. Depression grows in darkness; sunshine is good for your soul. But it’s probably just as well that it can’t be bottled, or we’d spend even more time indoors, drinking expensive sunshine while the real stuff pours down outside for free. Well, at least some of the time…
These days, it’s back in fashion.  Yes, you risk skin cancer if you get too much of it, but most of us don’t get enough.  And it’s not just about vitamin D, though that is important.  Depression grows in darkness; sunshine is good for your soul.  But it’s probably just as well that it can’t be bottled, or we’d spend even more time indoors, drinking expensive sunshine while the real stuff pours down outside for free.  Well, at least some of the time…   

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