Cucumber is believed to have originally come from India or Thailand and has been cultivated for thousands of years.
In England, it was common in the time of Edward III (1327), and then became forgotten until the reign of Henry VIII. It was first cultivated in Britain about 1573, but not generally cultivated until the middle of the seventeenth century.
In 1597 John Gerard, an English herbalist (who wrote a General History of Plants) suggested that eating soup containing cucumber and oatmeal three times a day would ‘combat a fiery and pimply complexion’.
The ‘upper classes’ in Victorian England introduced the cucumber sandwich, which is made from paper-thin slices of cucumber placed between two thin slices of traditional (lightly buttered) crustless bread with a touch of salt and lemon juice.
Cucumber sandwiches were often been at afternoon tea; interestingly, both green tea and cucumber are said to help reduce the effects of rosacea.
There are many variations of cucumber sandwich, some may be made with cream cheese and flavoured with dill or mint. Different types of bread are also used, rye, pita or French bread and extra ingredients are also added, for example salmon, tuna, watercress and / or tomatoes.
Using cucumber externally
The cucumber can be sliced and the rosacea sufferer can lie back and place pieces on affected areas. This is said to be particularly good for the eyes and ocular rosacea.
The cucumber can be made into a puree; use about 6 slices, add 4 tablespoons of natural yoghurt and then blend. The mixture is applied to the affected parts of the face and left for about 10 minutes and then washed off; it should also relieve itching.
Making a mud pack; use a whole cucumber, specially purchased mud, a glass of cream, a spoonful of honey and olive oil. Blend the mix and then refrigerate. When the mixture is cool, apply it to the affected parts and leave for 10 to 15 minutes and then wash off.
Soap; there are various recipes for handmade cucumber soap, which can also be purchased from health shops and may also contain other ingredients, for example, aloe vera.
A recipe for a cucumber wash or lotion; slice a large cucumber and put it in a ‘boiler’, which should be closely covered. Cook it slowly until it is soft and then place the pieces in a fine linen bag and squeeze the juice out. Add about one quarter of this volume of rectified spirits of wine (or whisky) and one-third of Elder-flower water. For example if there were 24 mls of juice, you would add 6 mls of rectified spirits and 8 mls of Elder-flower water. The mixture is then shaken and poured into bottles ready for use.
Another recipe for a lotion; chop up a cucumber and use a lemon-squeezer to extract the juice. Make a mix of equal parts of glycerine and rose-water mixed, and then mix this with the extracted juice in equal parts.
Cucumber contains a relatively high levels of silica, for this reason it is often beneficial for the skin and complexion.
It is also used to treat dark circles under the eyes (a slice of cucumber is placed over the closed eyelid before sleep).
To end the article on a light, slightly humorous note – Caution for ladies using cucumber as a rosacea treatment on their face – Cucumber juice ‘is said’ to promote hair growth, especially when added to lettuce, spinach and carrot juice. Hopefully this only applies to men with bald heads!