Spring Tonic

Young NETTLE leaves have the effect of increasing the haemoglobin in the blood (Bircher), hence the various "spring tonic" uses one finds in folk medicine, whether it is called that or a "blood purifier". The medicine usually takes the form of a tea, sometimes with dandelion leaves added, as in a Dorset "blood tonic" recipe (Dacombe), or in the East Anglian use to "clear pimples" (Hatfield. 1994). WOODRUFF has a high coumarin content, so it is a blood-thinner, so a tea made from it was taken for a spring tonic (G B Foster) in the days when that was thought to be necessary. CAMOMILE is listed as a bitter stomachic and tonic, and as such is recorded in Hampshire as good for "clearing the blood" (Hampshire FWI), by which a spring tonic is probably meant. Wiltshire people used the powdered roots of AVENS in boiling water as a spring pick-me-up. It was said that these roots should be dug on 25 March, from dry ground (Wiltshire). A tonic known as "Spring Juice" was fresh BROOKLIME and SCURVY-GRASS, cut and beaten in a mortar, and left to steep for twelve hours. Then it was strained and an equal amount of the juice of Seville oranges was added. A wineglassful taken fasting each morning for a week was the spring tonic (Quelch).

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