The most famous and perhaps the oldest such plant is the olive, but the gorgeous Istrian hills, its fertile valleys and picturesque coast offer the perfect conditions for a range of other plants which have been used as medicines in food and potions since ancient times, and this includes laurel, myrtle, rosemary, lavender, mint, thyme, plantain, dogwood and St. John’s wort.
St. John’s wort
In Istria they call St. John’s wort kantarion, and it is usually mixed with olive oil to make a poultice perfect for sun burnt skin in the summer, and as treatment for dry and flaking skin. Kantarion, a golden yellow flower, is considered a “sun” plant because its Latin name, Hypericum perforatum, comes from Hyperion, the Greek god of sun. It should be harvested when the sun is at its strongest, between the end of June and the end of July, which is why some consider it a strong antidepressant.
This beautiful wild plant with an intoxicating scent, which virtually grows out of the rock, is the finest medicine against skin aging that you will ever find! No wonder then that some of the names it is known by – immortelle, everlasting – are connected to the notion of eternity. In addition to treating wrinkles, immortelle essential oil is also used to treat varicose veins, broken capillaries, reduce black marks and stretch marks, while inhaling it reduces stress and anxiety.
Unfortunately, to extract one liter of essential oil, it is necessary to distill literally a tone of flowers, which is why a lot of places which used to be rich in this plant are today bare due to the greedy and irresponsible way of harvesting. The good news is that today immortelle is a protected species.
This beautiful plant with tiny pink flowers which can be found in Istria between June and August or September is a highly valued medicine for liver and stomach problems. It is used to enhance the functioning of the liver and gall bladder, to ease problems caused by kidey stones and to regulate problems in the liver and gall bladder, which is why it is often proscribed during recovery from illnesses, especially after therapy with medicines.
Although it is bitter, it is mild enough to be given to children, for whom it is often used to stimulate appetite, and it is used for the same effect with patients suffering from anorexia or problems with digestion. It can also be used as an ingredient for a medicinal tea that helps clear the airways.
Plantain grows on humid, fertile ground – in ditches, alongside roads, on lawns and fields, and if you find it in the nature you can eat it raw! It is replete with provitamin A, vitamin C and K, citric acid and potassium, and if you boil it, it tastes like porcini mushrooms. Plantain leaves can be used to stop bleeding from smaller wounds and prevent infection due to the the plant’s antibiotic properties, while the aucubin enable it also function as anti-toxin.
In addition, plantain contains a whole range of medicinal compounds, such as the ascorbic acid, apigenin, benzoic, oleic and salicylic acid, which give it anti-inflamatory and anti-septic properties. It is also used as a supplementary medicine for asthma, cough, sinus infection, bronchitis, hypertension, fever, allergies and hay fever, constipation, gastritis, irritable bowel syndrome and diabetes.