Favorite Herb Remedies
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Kava Kava, Our Favorite Pepper
It seems like every time someone asks, "What herb would you take for blank?"... I hear myself saying "Kava Kava." So I thought I'd do an article telling everyone what Kava Kava is, and give you some information on it. I'll of course put a little disclaimer in here saying, "Please, before you take any drug, even herbs, consult your physician, especially if you are taking any medication or are being treated for any type of illness. Even natural remedies can cause allergic and/or drug interactions.”
Kava Kava (Piper methysticum), an herb, is a member of the pepper family and is a bush that grows in the South Pacific. The islanders have long used a "magical drink" in ceremonies and celebrations for its calming abilities. The root and rhizome are used in preparing the powder, fluid extract and the tonic beverage. Although Kava has been used for over 3,000 years, it is becoming more and more available across the world. It can be used instead of aspirin, acetaminophen and ibuprofen.
Kava has been termed "Nature's Valium" because of its abilities. However, Kava has been tested and proven to be safe and non-addictive. Kava also doesn't leave you with depressed mental functions or physical impairments. In studies, no side effects have been reported. One man in Utah was, however, stopped for "driving under the influence" and admitted that he had consumed 16 cups of Kava. So yes, you can take too much. High quantities of Kava beverage over long periods of time (a year or more) can cause Kava dermopathy, a skin condition accompanied by dry, scaly patches possibly due to niacin interference. It is very important to note that high dosages of Kava Kava are not necessary. The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine recommends 45 to 70 mg three times per day for anxiety.
Along with anxiety, Kava is used for insomnia, depression, and restlessness. For people who suffer from anxiety, Kava also increases concentration, memory, and reaction time. Thus, it achieves a state of relaxation, without adverse side effects. Kava also has a direct effect on muscle tension, relaxing and easing pain. Kava has been found to be the most relaxing botanical herb with the exception of the opium poppy. Kava is mildly narcotic and produces euphoric changes characterized by mood elevation, lively speech, and increased sense of hearing (people with Hyperacuity may wish to avoid Kava).
Kava has also been found useful for treatment of ailments in the areas of genitourinary tract, vaginitis, gonorrhea, and menstrual cramps. Why? Kava is a diuretic. Being a diuretic, it is also used for weight loss. Kava Kava is also an anti-inflammatory, which leads to its use for gout, rheumatism, bronchial congestion, cystitis and prostatis. A liniment can be made with Kava and applied as an anesthetic to painful areas.
Kava is effective as a natural sedative and sleep enhancer. It treats nervousness and insomnia. Kava's relaxing effects leave you with a feeling of peace and contentment, along with a sharpening of the senses. It promotes a deep and restful sleep. Kava is a muscle relaxant and relieves cramping due to spasms. A combination of these effects contributes to an aphrodisiac effect.
My Favorite Home Remedies - Garlic
Any one of you who have spoken to me, even once, has probably heard my praises of garlic. To me, it's simply a miracle cure. Not to mention the fact that it'll keep vampires away. Traces of garlic have been found in caves that were inhabited over 10,000 years ago, which tells us that garlic is almost older than we are (maybe older?). Egyptians swore oaths on garlic, fed garlic to their slaves to give them strength. Garlic caused one of the earlier labor disputes after it was withheld from the slaves working on the pyramids. Garlic was found in King Tut's tomb as an essential plant for the afterlife.
Ancient Greece believed if you chewed garlic before a foot race, no one could match your swiftness. Romans called garlic the herb of Mars, the god of war. They would eat garlic before battle to ensure strength and bravery. The medieval French told a legend called "Four Thieves Vinegar," where four thieves were hired to bury the dead of the plague since they couldn't get the plague - they were drinking a mixture of garlic and vinegar, and this mixture is still sold in France because "no one has died of the plague since."
Another old legend states "when Satan stepped into the world, garlic sprang from his left footsteps, while onions grew from his right." Italians believed that if you were in the presence of evil spirits, you should bite a clove of garlic to banish them. Of course we're all familiar with hanging garlic from a red thread from the walls and doors or in a protective wreath for your home. There are many more legends, which seem to all lead to some very practical uses today. Garlic is ruled by the planet Mars, creating garlic’s ability to battle illness. Although ancient people believed that garlic protected them by attracting the spirits to it instead of their house, it is very true that garlic and onions both attract germs. You should never leave a garlic clove out in the open unpeeled because it works like a magnet to collect germs, hence its healing powers when ingested or used as any type of remedy.
Garlic is a "heal-all." It has antibiotic qualities and attacks bacteria much like penicillin. Hippocrates, the fifth-century B.C. physician known as the "father of medicine," was the first to use garlic for infections, wounds, cancer, leprosy, digestive disorders, and ailments of the heart. Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder used it for colds, epilepsy and tapeworm, while sixteenth-century innovator Culpepper used garlic when treating all diseases. Garlic prevents blood clots by making the blood "less sticky," opens blood vessels, and reduces blood pressure. During WWI, Army doctors soaked sphagnum moss in garlic juice and placed it on infected wounds to guard against gangrene. It proved better than penicillin for typhus of the same period. Garlic contains Vitamin C and prevents scurvy, fights tuberculosis, eliminates lead and other toxic metals from your body. Used as an antibiotic to fight bacteria, it kills the bacteria, while leaving your own system intact. Garlic also contains potassium and is rich in sulfur.
Garlic is easily grown and can be rooted using the procedure in this picture, or by removing individual cloves, leaving the papery skin on, planting with the pointed end up, about 2" deep and 1' apart. It tolerates partial shade and will grow well in full sun. Do not allow it to blossom - when the stalks appear, cut them off so that the nutrients stay in the bulb. When the leaves begin to yellow and brown, they are ready to pick. Simply place on a screen or on newspaper in a shaded area to dry it. Store your garlic in a cool, dark place; or braid it and hang it for a very pretty effect.
Once you have your garlic, you can make syrups to keep you healthy. Here are two recipes:
Garlic Syrup: Peel three (3) entire bulbs of garlic and simmer in a non-aluminum pan in two (2) cups of water. When they are soft and have reduced to one (1) cup of water in the pan, remove the garlic and place it in a mason jar or other sealable jar. Add one (1) cup cider vinegar and 1/4 cup of honey to the water in the pan. Boil until the mixture gets syrupy. Pour the mixture over the garlic, cover and let stand overnight. If any aluminum is used, it will make the remedy ineffective.
Garlic Syrup Variation: Slice one (1) pound of garlic into one (1) quart of water. Bruise one (1) ounce of caraway, one (1) ounce fennel seed, and add it to the garlic water. Boil the mixture until the garlic is soft and let it stand 12 to 14 hours in a covered container. Measure it at the end of the 14-hour period, and add an equal amount of cider vinegar to whatever measurement you have. For example, if you have 2 1/2 cups of garlic water, add 2 1/2 cups of vinegar. Bring this entire mixture to a boil and add enough sugar to make syrup.
Using either of these mixtures, one (1) teaspoonful every morning, should keep illness far away and can be taken for general health. You will smell of garlic. If you want to see how fast garlic gets into your system, rub an open clove on the bottom of your feet... within seconds, you will be able to smell it on your breath. For those who are concerned about the odor of their breath, simple garlic capsules may be a more desirable form to use.
If you don't want to use Garlic because of breath odor, simply chew Parsley after taking it.
# One clove of garlic chopped and mixed with mayonnaise, eaten on a slice of bread at the first sign of sore throat and runny nose... the cold will be gone in the morning.
# Place a clove of garlic between the cheek and teeth - do not chew - occasionally release the juice by squeezing the clove between your teeth... replace the garlic every 3-4 hours... this will rid you of the cold in under 24 hours.
# Combine one crushed clove of garlic, 1/2 teaspoon cayenne, the juice of one lemon, and one teaspoon of honey. Take this mixture along with vitamin C three times a day with your meals. I use this one and simply swear by it for prevention! When everyone around me starts to get sick, I start this.
# Peal and crush six cloves of garlic, mix into 3/4 cup white lard or vegetable shortening, spread the mixture on the soles of the feet and cover with a warm towel... keep a close eye on your skin. Re-apply every 5 hours until your cold is gone.
# Eat a clove of garlic or take the juice three times a day to deter the cold symptoms.
# Crush one clove into 1/4 cup of water, draw the liquid into an eyedropper, squirt eight drops of the clear garlic water (strain garlic pieces out) into each nostril three times a day for three days to clear an infection... whew!
# Take two garlic pills and two parsley pills every four waking hours for six days.
# Eat two garlic cloves three times a day for one week for infection.
# For colds, fever, sinus infections, take raw garlic in honey every 2-3 hours mixed with either licorice juice or in candy form.
# Combine one quart boiling water, one pound fresh sliced garlic, steep for 12 hours, add enough sugar to produce a syrup, add honey and take four times a day.
# Make an infusion by chopping several cloves of garlic and step in 1/2 cup of water for 6-8 hours... gargle with the infusion to ease the sore throat.
# Add one teaspoon of finely chopped garlic to one-teaspoon honey and take three times a day, two hours after each meal, until diarrhea stops.
# Puncture one garlic oil capsule and squeeze the contents into the ear, plug with cotton... there should be relief in just half an hour.
# Mix one teaspoon honey and 1/2 teaspoon garlic juice and swallow... headache should be gone in about half an hour.
TINNITIS (Ringing in the ears):
# Put six cloves of garlic in the blender and add one cup of olive oil. Blend until the garlic is minced, spoon into a glass jar and allow it to steep, covered, for one week. Strain and apply several drops in the ear daily until ringing stops.
# Make a special tincture by soaking 1/2 pound peeled garlic cloves in one quart of brandy. Shake a few times each day for two weeks, then strain. Keeps for about a y ear, and it is safe to take 25 drops per day.
# Eat a clove of garlic six times a day, after 4-weeks, your blood pressure will drop.
# Eat raw garlic in salads or use in your cooking.
# Take four garlic capsules a day, two after breakfast and two after dinner.
# Take one or two cloves with a spoonful of garlic syrup every morning on an empty stomach to prevent asthma.
# Rub a clove of garlic on the painful area and take two garlic capsules after breakfast, repeating after dinner.
# To prevent indigestion, take two garlic capsules after lunch and after dinner.
# Rub soles of the feet and nape of the neck with peeled garlic cloves to put yourself right to sleep.
# Puncture a garlic oil capsule and squeeze contents onto the burn.
# Use crushed garlic under the nose to bring the victim back to consciousness.
Garlic can be used as pest control for everything from aphids to deer. In California, they spray the breeding ponds with garlic and oil to kill the larvae. Garlic infusions can control potato blight, and black spot can be stopped. Garlic contains a natural fungicide and can be planted near your cabbage, eggplant, tomatoes and roses. Planted under peach trees, it controls leaf curl. Do not plant near beans and peas, because it will stunt their growth.
My Favorite Home Remedies – Oregano
With gardening season upon us, I thought I'd write about a healing herb that we can all grow and learn to use ~~ Oregano, which means "joy of the mountain." Most of us are familiar with the use of Oregano in Italian food, such as spaghetti and lasagna. It has a wonderful taste and a strong aroma. Oregano is a member of the mint family and has several different varieties:
# Dwarf Oregano (an ornamental)
# Pot Marjoram (Oregano used to be called "wild Marjoram")
# Golden Oregano (an ornamental)
# Greek Oregano (very pungent)
# Dittany of Crete (used to make vermouth)
# Common Oregano (the most popular variety)
Growing Oregano ~
Oregano is a perennial. In the book, The Green Guide to Herb Gardening, by Deborah C. Harding, she says,
"The herb's seeds are quite tiny, so if you want to start seeds, do it indoors. Sprinkle seeds over a planting medium and leave them alone. Do not cover with soil or press down. Mist with water and cover with plastic. Make sure the temperature under the pot is kept at 70. If the seeds do not germinate in 4 to 5 days, try again."
It sounds much easier to buy a young plant and start from there! They should be planted in the spring, after the last frost. Oregano favors a drier soil and mild weather. Ms. Harding also says that if you cut back your harvest in midsummer, you will get another harvest before winter arrives. Oregano can also be grown indoors with good results. To harvest, simply snip a few cuttings, and either hang to dry or use a drying screen. Oregano dries very fast!
Now that you've got your Oregano, you can cook with it, use it as a remedy, and enjoy its aroma. I use oregano in my kitchen potpourri. My husband thought of this idea one year at Thanksgiving when he decided that the smell of the holiday was probably the best part.
Kitchen Potpourri ~
This is only one of the varieties that I use in my kitchen, and you can really make this potpourri using the herbs and seasonings from ANY of your favorite meals. I mix together oregano, basil, and thyme and seal them in a ziploc baggie, making sure to remove all the air before I seal it up. When I'm ready for that combination, I place a couple of pinches in my potpourri burner (a small crockpot replica) and add a little bit of water.
This mixture can also be used by taking a small square of mesh, placing a couple tablespoons of the herbs in the center of the square, and then pulling the corners together. Tie this with a ribbon and hang in your kitchen. I've got several different mixtures hanging in little packets all over the place. My kitchen always smells like a good meal. Different guests notice different aromas and always mention a childhood memory associated with the scents. It's pretty good energy! Oregano also does very nicely in flower arrangements or wreaths.
Oregano is used in healing for muscle pain, coughs, asthma, swelling, arthritis, tension headaches, toothaches, seasickness, and nausea.
Oregano Poultice ~
A poultice is made by gently bruising the Oregano leaves, adding a drop or two of water, and mashing the leaves into a paste. Wrap the herbs in a cheesecloth and place on the effected area. This poultice can be used to relieve sore, achy muscles and swelling.
Oregano Infusion/Tea ~
An infusion is made by steeping the leaves or flowers in hot water, just like a tea is made. A regular-strength tea can help coughs and ease asthma attacks. A stronger infusion is very relaxing and can ease the symptoms and discomfort associated with nervous or tension headaches. An infusion of the Oregano flowers, on the other hand, relieves nausea and helps seasickness.
Oregano Oil ~
Oils are one of the easiest home remedies to make and use. Simply combine olive oil and oregano leaves, two parts oil to one part fresh herb, and steep for 24 hours. Then strain and use the oil when needed. Oregano oil is a wonderful aid for arthritis pain and should simply be massaged into the stiff and achy joints. Oregano oil also helps relieve toothaches.
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, Oregano is used in spaghetti and lasagna. It is also used in pizza sauces, in salads and salad dressings, on Italian subs and sandwiches, in rices and on breads, in soups and stews, and is especially wonderful on the grill. Here's a little bonus recipe for this week's article:
Grilled Shishkabobs ~
# Cauliflower florets
# Bell Pepper & Onion chunks
# Cherry Tomatoes
# Zucchini & Squash chunks
# Whole bite-sized Mushrooms
# Garlic powder, olive oil, dried oregano, lemon juice
Wash and cut your vegetables and arrange on a skewer. Combine 1/4 cup of olive oil, garlic powder to taste, 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice, and a pinch of oregano, also to taste. Brush the mixture on your kabobs and grill. This is heavenly served at any cookout.
The Magick of Aromatherapy
This week, I have a favorite new aromatherapy book. The Magick of Aromatherapy, by Gwydion O'Hara is packed with information. Don't let the world magick scare you away from reading it, either. This book isn't just for Pagans. It is an extensive search into holistic aromatherapy, covering the areas of body, mind and spirit.
When I first saw this book, I thought "Oh, how pretty!" I know that sounds kind of silly, but the illustrations, color and feel of The Magick of Aromatherapy really draws you into it; and Gwydion's way of introducing and organizing the information creates a flow that is easy to follow and understand. Don't misunderstand that statement and think that this book is only for beginners. It's a great reference guide for the experienced aromatherapist as well.
What I really love about this book is that it starts out covering the history and science, but doesn't dwell on it. The author gives us the special considerations when using aromatherapy for healing and also covers ethics in the practice. He also gives us a brief look at the extraction processes for essential oils, along with the tools of the trade.
Now for the good stuff! The next section of The Magick of Aromatherapy covers a wide selection of oils from apple to ylang ylang, including a description, their planetary influences, elemental associations, zodiac influences, mental/emotional effects, healing properties as well as magickal properties. That's only 1/3 of this book!
The rest of the book covers uses and application broken down into therapeutic blends. If you've never thought of taking the time to create your own blended scents, this book will change your mind. For those of you who suffer from sore muscles, he gives recipes for a very wide variety of mixtures to use; as well as mixtures for stress, energy, headaches, blood pressure, circulation, PMS, depression, anxiety, fear, and much more!
For example: Muscle Relaxer (from Page 153 of The Magick of Aromatherapy)
# Lemon verbena
Along with the physical therapy using essential oils, Gwydion also covers the emotions, the spirit, and specialty areas such as the chakras and psychic enhancement; as well as dreaming, astral travel, meditation, vision quest, astrology, and cosmetics.
You can feel the healing energy of this book just by holding it in your hands! I hope that anyone interested in learning aromatherapy, or anyone who is practicing aromatherapy, adds this book to your healing library. It's a wonderful source of information, as well as a beautiful inspiration to heal.
Mint - Persephone, A Woman Scorned
In Greek mythology, Persephone, the wife of Hades, king of the underworld, discovered that he was in love with a nymph named Menthe. In a jealous rage, she turned the nymph into a plant. Over the ages, her name changed to Menthe, and then to Mint.
From ancient Greece, the story says that two strangers traveling throughout Asia went from home to home, and no one offered them anything to eat. An elderly couple, Philemon and Baucis not only offered them a meal, but as they prepared the table, they rubbed it with mint leaves for cleansing and freshness. As the travelers sat down to eat, the couple discovered that they were in all actuality, Zeus and Hermes, who had set out to "test" mankind. This story has made mint the symbol of hospitality.
In the Bible, Jesus was angry at the Pharisees because they demanded tithes on mint. Shakespeare mentions mint in his writing. Mint is said to produce wisdom just by inhaling its scent. In Victorian language, flowers of mint stand for virtue.
The interesting folklore of mint, however, is only a small part of its fame. Mint is an unbeatable healer! Mint is an antispasmodic, an antibiotic, and a perfect incense accompaniment to any healing work. Try rubbing a piece of fresh mint on your skin and you can instantly feel its cooling effects. Wrap mint in a coffee filter, tie it, and toss it into your bath water to feel refreshed and energized. Hang mint from your ceiling to freshen the air in a room. To increase concentration, place two drops of peppermint oil (essential, not cooking variety) on a cloth or handkerchief and inhale. Mint can also be used to deter insects, rodents and pests by placing in a windowsill or around shrubs, in your closets and drawers.
Mint Remedies include:
# Indigestion - add 2 tablespoons of mint to warm milk to ease the upset stomach.
# Stomach Flu - mix 2 tablespoons dry pepper, 2 tablespoons bruised caraway seed, measure 1 teaspoon into a cup and add boiling water, steep 15 minutes (covered), strain, sweeten with honey.
# Nausea - chew mint leaves (peppermint works best).
# Heartburn - strong infusion of mint tea.
# Liver - take a strong infusion once a day to stimulate the bile and increase liver function.
# Cold - make the infusion, adding chamomile.
# Menstruation - drinking an infusion will relax your muscles around the uterus and help cramps go away.
# Insomnia - an infusion of spearmint, peppermint, or orange mint to induce sleep.
# Headache - apply fresh grated leaves to the forehead.
# Toothache - place diluted peppermint or spearmint oil on the tooth.
# Chapped Hands - wash hands with a spearmint infusion and let air-dry.
# Bad Breath - pretty self-explanatory... just chew the leaves.
# Bee Stings & Insect Bites - rub crushed leaves on the bite after removing the stinger (if you start to swell, go to the emergency room)
# Footbath - double recipe of strong infusion to soak your feet in.
# Sore Throat - gargle several times a day with a strong infusion (don't take mint for laryngitis as mint will dry out your vocal chords - the best remedy for laryngitis is lemon water).
Mint also has cosmetic uses:
# Cleanses the oils from the skin mixed as an astringent
# Steam your face over 1 cup of peppermint leaves in boiling water by placing your face over the pot and a towel over your head
# Take a facial wash with vinegar, water and mint (let the infusion sit 3 days, keep refrigerated, apply with a cotton ball)
# Make a facial mask by beating together 1 egg white, 2 tablespoons dry skim milk, 3 drops mint extract (cooking variety) and 6 drops spirit of camphor (apply to face, let dry, wash off with warm and then cold water).
The Famous Mint Julep:
1 large handful of spearmint leaves
2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons sugar syrup (below)
6 ounces of bourbon
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1 handful of mint leaves
Bring water and sugar to a boil and boil until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat, bruise mint leaves by squishing with a heavy glass to release the oil. Then add to water/sugar mixture, cover and refrigerate for 12-24 hours and strain.
Combine 2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons of sugar syrup in a pitcher with the bourbon, stir well and pour into a tall glass filled with cracked ice. Garnish with mint sprigs.
More on Mint -
Mint can be dried by hanging in small bunches in a dry, sunny area or by dehydrating on a screen in the oven. The microwave method isn't recommended, as it dispels the essential oils. Mint can be frozen, but it will be limp and slimy when defrosted.
Never use mint oil in its pure form; always dilute it with water. Pure mint oil can prove to be toxic if used incorrectly, and never give even diluted mint oil to young children. Mint appears to be safe for pregnant women since it does not promote bleeding, however if you are pregnant, ask your doctor first! Mint can also be used to move gallstones if they are stuck, but you should see a doctor immediately and not just mask your symptoms.
Not only is mint easy to grow, it's actually pretty hard to get rid of. It's a perennial that returns year after year, preferring moist soil and shade. Mint is a sterile hybrid that doesn't produce seed and needs to be propagated by cutting, divisions and layering. If you grow mint in a container, it needs to be about 12" deep. Mint loves rock gardens, especially pennyroyal.
Other varieties of mint include apple mint, orange mint, black peppermint, peppermint, spearmint, pineapple mint, ginger mint, curly mint, and Corsican mint. Each has its own unique flavor, scent, and beauty.
The Green Guide to Herb Gardening
The Green Guide to Herb Gardening by Deborah C. Harding is an excellent resource for those of you who would like to begin experimenting with herbal remedies. The herbs that this wonderful book covers can be found right in your own spice rack! So many times when we look for a remedy, it's got a name like Wu Jia Pi. Now where in the world do we get Wu Jia Pi? Wouldn't you much rather hear your herbalist say, "Oh, you can use oregano for that!"
The Green Guide to Herb Gardening tells us everything we need to know about ten of the most popular herbs. That may not sound like a lot of information, but this book is 178-pages long, and packed with useful information including propagation, preparation, preservation, and magical uses. Each chapter on an herb lists the name and description of the many types of each plant. For example:
Types of Basil
# Sweet Basil
# Lettuce Leaf Basil
# Lemon Basil
# Bush/Greek Basil
# Licorice Basil
# Cinnamon Basil
# Holy Basil
# Camphor Basil
# Opal Basil
# Anise Basil
# Green Ruffles Basil
# Purple Ruffles Basil
The chapter then covers the history, magic and folklore of the herb as well as the individual planting, cultivating, harvesting and storage unique to the herb. When you're saying, "Wow, that's a lot of information," you reach the next page on the culinary uses of the herb. This is my favorite part. Examples of all the different recipes for Basil follow:
# Italian Seasoning
# Perfect Pesto
# Pesto Pizza
# Grilled, Basiled Veggie Mix
# Pesto Omelet
# Basiled Bread
# Bouquet Garni
# Basiled Eggs
# Green Noodles
These are good served with chicken or fish...
8 oz spinach noodles
3/4 cup butter
2 tablespoons fresh basil
Cook spinach noodles per package instructions. Melt butter in a frying pan and add basil. Stir until basil wilts. Place cooked, drained noodles in a serving bowl and pour basil/butter mixture over top. Toss and serve. (excerpt from book)
# Basil Butter
# Opal Basil Vinegar
# Tomato Basil Salad
# Basil Jelly (2 versions)
# Stuffed Basil Tomatoes
# Basil Tea
Even though this tea possesses many medicinal benefits, you can drink it just for the flavor. Enjoy some on a cold winter evening to get your circulation going.
6-8 sprigs any culinary variety of basil
4-6 cups rapidly bowling water
Place sprigs in a teapot and add boiling water to cover. Steep covered about 10 to 15 minutes. Strain. Add honey of desired. (excerpt from book). Then the book moves into the remedies of each herb:
# Stomach Cramps
# Insomnia and Depression
# Lung Congestion
# Menstrual Cycle
# Milk Production for Nursing Mothers
To finish off the chapter, we get a description of the aromatic, cosmetic, ornamental and other uses. Though I've used Basil as an example for this review, Ms. Harding also covers:
# Lemon Balm
She ends the book with two additional "bonus" chapters that teach us to make our own herbal teas, decoctions, infusions, tinctures, herbal oils and vinegars. She also shares her experiences of growing herbs from seed, stems, root cuttings, how to freeze and dry our herbs, and how to create magical sachets or potpourri. When you finish reading and studying this book, be sure to try the Sauerbraten recipe! It's become one of my favorites.
Deborah Harding knows her stuff, and this is an excellent book not only for the beginner, but also for the experienced herbalist and/or chef. I love the idea that I can use healing herbs in my cooking, as a nice tea or as a potpourri for my burner. I also like this book because these are herbs we can grow in just about any climate or pick them up at the local grocery or vegetable stand. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did (and still do).
Flower Essences – Make Your Own Tinctures
The discovery of the amazing holistic healing power of flower essences was brought to us by Dr. Edward Bach. Dr. Bach was stationed in a homeopathic hospital in London shortly after the First World War when he first began to notice that certain personality traits contributed to ill health. He then traveled the English countryside in search of natural remedies, testing each remedy on himself first, and then continuing on to create 38 flower essence remedies.
Dr. Bach discovered that people with certain attitudes had the same conflicts within their bodies. His approach was very holistic. Moods, negative attitudes, and negative emotions can create disharmony and illness within the body, and Dr. Bach started with the original cause of the illness when treating the client.
The flower remedies are grouped into categories based on these negative emotions:
# Insufficient interest in present circumstances
# Oversensitivity to influences and ideas
# Despondency or despair
# Over-care for the welfare of others
Dr. Bach's flower essences are designed to create:
* Peace * Hope * Joy * Faith * Certainty * Wisdom * Love *
Because of the way that flower essences are designed to work, it is important to be truthful with yourself and ask yourself questions about why you are feeling the way you are. You can begin this soul searching by asking yourself the following questions:
# How do you feel?
# Why are you feeling this way?
# How do the symptoms affect you?
# What could have caused this problem?
Flower essences can be used:
# For support in times of crisis
# To treat emotional outlook produced by illness
# To address a particular recurring emotional or behavioral problem
# To give strength during a temporary emotional setback
# As a preventive remedy when things begin to become unbalanced
The remedies are made using the "Sun Method" and the "Boiling Method." First of all, you will want to make certain that you have the right classification of the plant you are using. This is very important. If the tincture calls for impatiens, for example, find out which strain of impatiens. In flower remedies, Impatiens glandulifera is used, and you MUST use this exact flower.
Secondly, you must insure absolute cleanliness. Wash your hands, and rinse them well. Boil all of your utensils in the same quality water you use for the remedy itself. You also will not want the plants for the remedy to touch your hands, even after you have cleaned them. Take a large leaf from the plant to put your pickings on. When you handle them, you might want to take a twig from the plant to move them around with. This will make sure that there are no oils from your skin on the plants you are using for the remedy.
The plants for flower essences must also be picked at exactly the proper time of day. No, this isn't as much of a pain in the behind as it sounds like. Simply scout out your area that you are going to pick your plant from the day before you plan to do it. For sun remedy plants, you want to pick them on a sunny day with no clouds. Any bright day is good for boiling remedy plants. The best time of day to pick most of the plants is in the morning between 9:00 a.m. and midday. You want to pick the plants just after the dew has started to dry but before they have become "sun-exhausted."
Each plant also has a season that it is at its very best:
# Early Spring ~ oak, borse, olive, vine
# Late Spring ~ water chestnut, water violet
# Summer ~ rock water, mimulus, agrimony, rock rose, centaury
# Late Summer ~ scleranthus, wild oat, impatiens, chicory, vervain, clematis, heather
# Fall ~ cerato, gentian
# Early Spring ~ cherry plum
# Spring ~ elm, aspen
# Late Spring ~ beach, chestnut bud, hornbeam, larch, walnut, Star of Bethlehem, holly, crab apple, willow
# Early Summer ~ red chestnut, pine, mustard
# Summer ~ honeysuckle, sweet chestnut, wild rose
The Sun Method:
You will need ~
# A bottle of spring or mineral water
# A plain glass bowl
# 3 fl oz amber dropper bottles
# 1 1/2 fl oz brandy
# Natural, unbleached filter paper (coffee filters do fine)
Pick your flowers at the moment they dry from the dew, but aren't sun touched. Put the flowers in the bowl of water, covering the entire surface. Use a twig to arrange them, not your fingers. You want to place this bowl directly in the sunlight for 3 hours. Then remove the flowers with a twig and filter the liquid.
Pour 1 1/2 fl oz (50ml.) of the water into the 3 oz bottle, filling the rest of the way with brandy. Shake and label "flower essence mother tincture" and date.
This mother tincture will prepare many bottles of tincture over the years. This recipe will make up to 6 of the diluted tinctures. To make the individual tincture, put 2 drops of mother tincture into a 1 fl oz (30ml.) dropper bottle, and top with brandy. Then take 2 drops of the individual tincture and add it back into the mother tincture bottle.
The Boiling Method:
You will need ~
# 6 pt (3l.) saucepan with lid (avoid copper, aluminum and teflon pans)
# 2 pt (1l.) of cold spring or mineral water
# 3 fl oz amber glass bottles (up to 6)
# 1 1/2 fl oz brandy
# Natural, unbleached filter paper (coffee filters will do)
# Pen & Label
Carry your saucepan to your place where you are picking, and fill the saucepan 3/4 full with your plant (twigs, leaves, flowers, etc). Place the lid on. When you have your pan at your heat source, remove the lid, cover it with the water, and bring to a boil. After it has reached boiling point, simmer for half an hour.
Use a twig to push the twigs, leaves and flowers under the water while simmering. After 1/2 hour, remove from heat, cover with the lid, and stand outside to cool. When cool, remove the twigs and filter into a clean container.
Put 1 1/2 fl oz of the flower water into the 3 fl oz bottles, filling the rest of the way with brandy. This will make your mother tincture. Again, to make your remedy tinctures, put 2 drops of mother tincture into a 1 fl oz dropper bottle, and top with brandy. The put 2 drops of that mixture back into the mother tincture bottle to keep her fed. (It's kind of like your sour dough starter.)
These are the basics. In future articles, we will cover different flower remedies and their purposes.
The Rescue Remedy is made using five (5) of the flower essence tinctures. In this article, we'll learn how to make all five and how to combine them to make this incredible remedy.
Cherry Plum is made using the boiling method. Its proper name is Prunus cerasus, and it is a small tree that is often used as a hedgerow. In early spring, it begins to bloom with pale pink flowers, and it is a fruit bearing tree. When making the remedy, however, just the twigs and flowers are used. Cherry plum is for those of us who have a fear of losing control, of letting go. It gives us the strength to release the fear and get back in touch with our emotions, and it is useful to the extreme extent of hysteria, making it an excellent addition to Rescue Remedy.
People who may need cherry plum as an individual remedy may have suicidal thoughts, be compulsive or destructive, and they are often going through an extreme amount of mental pain and/or stress. Cherry plum is also useful for children who have uncontrolled temper tantrums and unexplainable fears.
Clematis vitalba is a wild, rambling perennial that can often be found climbing the roadside hedge. It might also be known to you as "traveler's joy" or "old man's beard." This plant is poisonous, and care must be taken to prepare this remedy using the sun method.
Clematis is an excellent remedy for the escapist who is always in a dreamland of his/her own. Although it is wonderful to live in the mind or spirit, we must come down to earth every once in a while. In rescue remedy, its primary purpose is to bring back our will to live and to restore our interest in our present life.
As an individual remedy, clematis is for the person who is "airy" or impractical. This person might lack vitality and ambition, and may be recognized by their need for an excessive amount of sleep. Clematis is very grounding and can bring back our interest in the things around us and help us to focus. It will also aid the person who is so fatigued that they sometimes forget to eat, as well as helping children who daydream as an escape. This is an excellent remedy for the absent-minded professor!
Rock rose, also known as Helianthemum nummularium, is a yellow flowered plant that creeps along close to the ground and loves a nice dry, sunny, rocky spot. It can be grown in chalky or rocky soils, but the flowers that are grown strictly in a cultivated rock garden are unsuitable for flower remedies. This flower essence remedy is made using the sun method.
As an ingredient in Rescue Remedy, rock rose helps in cases of extreme fear, terror, and panic. It helps to give us courage, as well as faith that things will work out exactly like they are meant to.
As an individual remedy, rock rose aids those who feel helpless or experience panic and anxiety attacks. It is an excellent aid for heart palpitations as well. This remedy also helps those who might be a threat to themselves.
Many of us are familiar with impatiens, but when making the flower essence remedy, we need to make sure to use the Impatiens glandulifera, a tall annual with beautiful mauve flowers that grows in damp environments. Because the seedpods "explode on impact," this variety of impatiens is often called "touch me not." It grows well near streams and ditches, and the remedy is made using the sun method.
As part of the Rescue Remedy, its goal is to slow us down, help us be more patient. It can ease that "fidgety" feeling we get after something traumatic and even help ease nervous tension and the accompanying indigestion.
As an individual remedy, it helps us become more decisive, organized, and balanced. The person who needs impatiens might be one who speaks their mind before thinking, often hurting other people's feelings. This person probably never slows down until an illness makes puts them in bed to rest. This is what I call a "go with the flow" remedy because it helps us accept the natural pace of life instead of constantly battling it. If you're one of those folks who becomes very irritable while waiting in a line at the grocery store, this would make an excellent remedy for you.
STAR OF BETHLEHEM
The Star of Bethlehem, otherwise known as Ornithogalum umbellatum, is a beautiful, delicate wild lily with a bloom that resembles a six-pointed star. These lovely bulbs grow wild in Asia, North Africa, and the U.K. The flower essence remedy is made using the boiling method.
As an ingredient in Rescue Remedy, Star of Bethlehem is valued for its ability to ease the physical and emotional effects of shock. It is a comforting remedy.
As an individual remedy, Star of Bethlehem is especially beneficial for those who have buried traumatic events deep in their subconscious. This remedy works through every cell in the body and has a settling, neutralizing ability to heal. It brings us the harmony that we seek after surviving trauma.
To create the incredible Rescue Remedy you would start by making Mother Tinctures from each of the remedies above. Then you will add 2 drops of each of the essences into a 1 fl. oz. bottle of brandy.
You can also add 4 drops of stock Rescue Remedy to a neutral skin cream for external use.
So, what does the Rescue Remedy do? It helps us recover from the effects of emotional or physical trauma. It helps in cases of shock, after an accident of some time, after an argument, and even during the most difficult times like divorce or separation.
Not only is it a wonderful healer for the traumatic events, it is also excellent as a healing aid for cuts, bruises, sunburns, and after surgeries. It can help us be calm before exams, job interviews, public speaking, and any other event where we normally get nervous beforehand. And, of course, it is extremely helpful for those with panic and anxiety attacks.
Rescue Remedy is not diluted into individual tinctures as the other flower essences are. It is taken full-strength directly from the Mother Tincture. You can put 4 drops under the tongue or add it to a glass of water to sip. One of the most important things to remember about rescue remedy though is that it is not an every day treatment. Flower essences are designed to get to the root cause that needs healing. For example: If you are working on patience in your life but you have a panic attack because you have become overly impatient due to a certain event, you would take Rescue Remedy for the panic attack, but you would take impatiens for further treatments not accompanied by a panic attack.
Rescue Remedy is very versatile, too. It can be given to your plants in your garden that have suffered from a shock. It can help calm startled children, as well as pets, by adding a few drops into their food or water. With infants, adding four drops of rescue to the bath water is comforting and reassuring. Rescue Remedy can be carried with you in case of any and all emergencies.
These are fun to make and really get you involved in your own healing. Remember, though, that before taking ANY remedy, you should consult your physician, especially if you are already taking prescribed medication. The information in this article is NOT meant to replace your current medical care.