Monday, 18 February 2019

Baltic Film Festival Munich

For those of you who may be in Munich next month. One of the highlights of the programme will be the award winning Estonian film 'The Little Comrad'.

Friday, 15 February 2019

The usefulness of medicinal plants is more than folklore

Ain Raal, Professor of Pharmacognosy at the UT Institute of Pharmacy, is the co-author of the recently published Estonian-language book, “Eesti Ravimtaimed'' (Medicinal plants of Estonia). The book is more than a treatise of folk medicine, as the authors provide a mythological and historical overview of plants, along with science-backed knowledge. The book describes the medicinal effect of many plants you can find in Estonian nature. 

People being skeptical of modern medicine and looking for folk remedies is very topical in Estonia. The book might therefore be regarded as a step in the right direction by explaining scientifically why and how the plants can be useful. Here are some examples from the 80 plants described in the book.

Another useful plant first described by Carl Linnaeus is peppermint. This is the plant of choice if you have a huge feast coming up. Infuse the peppermint in hot water for five minutes and drink it three times a day. It helps the body with producing bile and therefore eases digestion.

This plant is mostly seen near seashores in Estonia. It might look like a bush as well as a tree by its size and shape. Juniper is regarded as a magical plant because of the cross sign on the top of its berry-like cones, not to mention that one should use this conifer in the sauna for “whisking” oneself. Its health benefits are also recognized by the European Medicines Agency.

In Estonia, the smoke of juniper has been considered to be helpful in treating many diseases, and it turns out that this is for a good reason. Due to its essential oils, the smoke from juniper has a considerable amount of pinenes in it and is antibacterial, which makes it a natural antiseptic. A treatment of juniper cones can help with constipation as well as with minor problems with the urinary tract.

Birch leaves
This might sound like a strange medicine: tree (not tea) leaves. Although birch is often used in the same way as juniper – in the sauna – its real usefulness comes from the flavonoids in it. Flavonoids have a diuretic effect, as they help water to exit the body. It is useful against edemas (oedemas), which are an abnormal accumulation of fluid beneath the skin in the cavities of the body.

Linden tree blossoms
Linden trees are not only known for their smell, but also for medicinal properties. Namely, the blossoms of linden trees are one of the most well-known folk remedies in Estonia. Its effects are more than a topic of folklore, as its use against fever has been scientifically studied. Tea from linden tree blossoms stimulates sweating and therefore reduces the body temperature.

Furthermore, perhaps a less-known fact is that the infused linden tree blossoms have a stress-reducing effect, as acknowledged by the European Medicine Agency. For that, you need to keep the blossoms in hot water for 10 minutes before consuming the drink.

To sum up, folk medicine has deep roots in nature and mystical thinking, but this book is a good reminder that the field of pharmaceuticals also has roots in nature and plant products. A modern pharmaceutical research-backed approach helps to remind us of the link between nature and medicine, whilst bringing existing knowledge to its best use.

Eesti Ravimtaimed can be purchased online here.

Source: UT Blog.

Thursday, 14 February 2019

Happy Valentine's Day!

In Estonia Valentine's Day is not only about romantic love but the appreciation of good friends. This Curly Strings song 'Sõbrad, mu kallid' speaks about missing friends dear to us and of the power of sharing emotions with each other. 

If someone is important to you then make sure they know! Happy Valentine's Day everyone!

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Friday, 8 February 2019

Johan Pitka - My Formative Years

It is always wonderful to see Estonian books translated into English and not only great works of ficton but novels of historic figures. One such book is the autobiography of Johan Pitka (1872-1944) who was a famous Estonian military commander. Pitka's autobiography was first published in Estonia during the 1930s and now, thanks to Canadian-Estonian, Hillar Kalmar, it has been translated into English.

Johan Pitka (1872-1944) was born in Estonia, one of nine countries that border the Baltic Sea. Drawn to the ocean from reading tales of adventure as a child, he first saw the sea at age 12. After working aboard ships during summers and attending maritime school during winters, he earned his master's license in 1895. Pitka became captain of a wooden barque named Lilly at age 24. From 1896-1900 he made four Atlantic crossings with this cargo ship and also sailed the Caribbean, Mediterranean and Baltic Seas.

When Lilly was sold after her owner died, Pitka worked aboard other vessels until 1907 when he co-founded a shipping agency and chandlery in Liverpool. He moved to Tallinn in 1911 to advise shipping companies and represent the Canadian Pacific Railway in the Baltics.

Pitka founded the Estonian Navy during WWI and contributed to the success of the Estonian War of Independence (1918-1920) In 1919 he was appointed Rear Admiral and received a knighthood (KCMG) from Britain's King George V in 1920.

During WWII, Pitka's three sons were arrested and executed by the Soviets and Pitka disappeared in 1944 while organising resistance. His wife and two daughters managed to escape and resettled in British Columbia. 

Pitka's autobiography describes his voyages aboard Lilly, giving insight to how they helped him develop the initiative, confidence, character, resourcefulness and will that he showed in later years. 

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Marta Kivi - the oldest person in Estonia

Today the oldest person of the Republic of Estonia, Marta Kivi, celebrates her 107th birthday. Being older than the republic itself, she is still going strong and is an inspiration to us all. Marta was born in Kakuna, Saare county in 1912. Happy Birthday Marta!

Monday, 4 February 2019

The New 100 and 200 Euro Banknotes

On the 28th May 2019 The European Central Bank will release a new €100 and €200 banknote design. This second series of 100 and 200 euro banknotes will use new innovative security features including a  satellite hologram at the top of the silver strip and an emerald green number in enhanced form. The new design aims to effectively protect against counterfeiting, making it is easier to check and process.

The length of the new €100 and €200 banknotes will remain the same however the height will change making them the same size as the 50-euro banknote.  The new size will become more user-friendly as they will fit better in the wallet and are more durable. The €500 banknote is to be phased out.