Ginger Cinnamon Elderberry Syrup ~ Immune System Support

The elder tree is known to many herbalists as a sacred tree. While we’re sure it has its own stories to tell, there’s already an abundance of recorded folklore. In Scandinavian and Danish myths, this tree was thought to be guarded by a forest spirit named Hyldemoer, also known as Elder Mother. Before anything was taken from the tree, it was believed that one must say a certain charm for her permission. While we wish we knew these ancient words, we’re sure a “thank you,” a song of appreciation or a token of gratitude would suffice when carefully collecting its medicinal flowers or berries.

Elder tree flowers and berries are often used in teas, tinctures, jams, jellies and syrups. Traditionally the berries are used to support immune system health.* A syrup can easily be made from fresh elderberries (Sambucus nigra) and elderflowers, or you can simply use dried berries like we’ve done here. There are dozens of variations of this traditional syrup recipe, so we urge you to play around with the recipe to see what works best for you. We’ve added some fresh ginger and cinnamon sticks to give it an extra kick. You could try adding ginger juice if you’d like even more zest!

Ginger Cinnamon Elderberry Syrup

A traditional syrup recipe that’s perfect for the holiday season.
Servings: 6-8 (4oz amber bottles)

Time: 1.5 hours

Materials:

  • large pot
  • large bowl
  • large strainer
  • cheesecloth (to line the strainer)
  • 2-ounce amber bottles, quantity 10-12
  • labels for your bottles
  • liquid measuring cup
Ingredients:

  • 3 cups dried elderberries
  • 6 cups water
  • 1-2 large thumbs of ginger
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 3 cups of honey
  • 1/3 cup of high proof alcohol such as vodka (optional)

Directions:

  1. Chop your fresh ginger root up into slices.
  2. Add the ginger, dried elderberries and cinnamon to your large pot.
  3. Then add all 6 cups of your water and bring the mixture to a boil; immediately drop it down to a simmer. Keep the pot mostly covered, with the lid slightly open.
  4. Keep cooking until the mixture has gone down about half-way. This should take you about 30-45 minutes.
  5. Then strain out your mixture using your strainer lined with cheesecloth. Once the berries have cooled down enough, you can try to wring out the cheesecloth to get out all the liquid.
  6.  Measure the elderberry liquid, and add it to your large bowl. While it is hot, add in equal parts honey. If you like, you can now add the alcohol, which helps preserve the mixture.
  7. Then you can pour it back, a little bit at a time, into your liquid measuring cup to dispense it into each of the amber dosage bottles.
  8. On the labels, write the name of the syrup and the date you made it. Include a list of all ingredients. You should also note that it needs to be stored in a fridge and used within three months.
  9. Then put it on each of your bottles so you can easily spot it in your home apothecary. Use 1-2 tablespoons several times a day when you’re feeling like you need immune support.

These small bottles are the perfect size to be given as gifts to friends or used as holiday stocking stuffers. This syrup can be used to promote immune system health, or it could be added to holiday cocktails

 

 

Resource: Traditional Medicinal Teas

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Medicinal Herbs: Wood Betony

Stachys Officinalis

Also, Known As:

  • Betony
  • Lousewort
  • Purple Betony
  • Wood Betony

The herb known as the wood betony is commonly considered to be the most important among the Anglo-Saxon herbs. There are at least twenty-nine uses of the wood betony in the treatment of physical diseases. At one time, the wood betony was probably also the most popular amulet herb – such amulets were used widely until the Middle Ages as a charm to ward off so-called evil or ill humors that supposedly brought disease to the human body. The many uses of the wood betony were written down by the medical herbalist Gerard in 1597, he gave a long list of herbal applications for this plant, adding that –“it maketh a man to pisse well”– an inference to the herb’s effectiveness against urinary disorders. Most contemporary herbalist neglect the wood betony as a potential remedy, however, the beneficial properties of this herb are worth rediscovering.

While remedies made from betony or wood betony has a long historical use in the folk medicine of many cultures, the herb is one of those medicinal plants that once had a great reputation, being considered good for practically every malady, but the use of which gradually decreased over the years until it was seen to be of little value. Contemporary folk medicine disregards the many benefits said to be possessed by the herb. The great reputation the wood betony had in earlier eras can be seen in two old proverbs or sayings: an Italian proverb that states, “Sell your coat and buy betony,” and a Spanish proverb states, “He has as many virtues as betony,” illustrate the reputation of the herb in previous ages and allude to its versatility as a common folk medicine.

The medication is made from the dried out parts of a plant commonly called betony – botanical name Stachys Officinalis; the entire aerial parts of this herb is what is called wood betony. This herb is a square-stemmed perennial belonging to the plant family Lamiaceae. The herb bears a rosette of hairy leaves and has a spike of pink or purplish flowers and can grow to three feet in height. The plant is a native species of Europe, found mainly in cleared areas and meadows throughout much of Europe – it is also widely cultivated in herb gardens in temperate regions around the world.

The wood betony was highly regarded as a cure-all plant during the Middle Ages. The herb was believed to possess many magical properties, including the power to ward off evil spirits – it was widely used in amulets for this reason. In contemporary folk medicine, the medication is principally valued for its astringent properties, useful in the treatment of problems such as diarrhea and in treating irritations affecting the throat, the mouth, and the gums. The leaves of the wood betony are often prepared as an infusion or used in the preparation of a herbal tea, these liquids are either drunk or employed as a gargle or mouthwash to treat oral and throat disorders. The use of the leaves to make an infusion or a tea depends on the type of disorder affecting the person.

When the composition of the sap of the wood betony is chemically analyzed, the herb is found to have about fifteen percent tannin; this high tannin content explains its great effectiveness as an astringent. Wood betony was also analyzed in one Russian study, which found a mixture of glycosides in the composition of the herb, at least one of these glycosides was found to be a plant pigment called a flavonoid. The glycosides found in the wood betony are reported to possess a hypotensive effect – an ability to lower the blood pressure. While this report needs to be verified by further studies, this property of the herb can partially explain the reputed effectiveness of wood betony in alleviating headaches and mild anxiety states.

At this time, the only principal use for this remedy in folk medicine is as a herbal astringent, this beneficial effect is due to the high level of tannins present in the herb. This property of the wood betony makes it very effective in alleviating problems such as diarrhea and in treating various irritations affecting the mucous membranes of the body. When used as an ordinary herbal remedy, the wood betony should not induce any significant side effects in a person, however, an overdose of the remedy could induce excessive irritation on the tissues lining the stomach and cause other symptoms.

Plant Parts Used:

Aerial parts, root.

Herbal Remedy Use:

The wood betony is not seen as a panacea anymore and its use in contemporary folk medicine is limited. However, the wood betony is of real value as treating headaches and pain in the facial region. The mildly sedative action of the wood betony is also effective in relieving nervous stress and emotional tension. The wood betony is included in British herbal medicine as a remedy that helps improve the functioning of the nervous system and as a herb that can help counter overactivity in the body. The remedies made from the wood betony are often used in the treatment of “frayed nerves,” in treating premenstrual complaints, in treating poor memory, and in alleviating nervous tension and other emotional problems. The astringent properties of the wood betony are well known, and it is used in a combination with other herbs, including the comfrey – botanical name Symphytum officinale – and with linden flowers -Tilia species. When used combined with these herbs, it is effective in the treatment of sinusitis headaches and in treating nasal congestion. The remedy made from wood betony used with yarrow or used alone will also staunch nosebleeds in a patient. The taste of the wood betony is mildly bitter and it is used to stimulate the digestive system and to boost the functioning of the liver. The herb also has general tonic like effect on the human body and is used in various treatments.

The Habitat of Wood Betony:

The herb called the wood betony is found throughout most regions of continental Europe and can also be found in parts of Asia as far east as the Caucasus Mountains. The plants are found growing mainly in meadows, in heathland, and in thinly wooded hilly regions. When the plant blooms in early summer, all the aerial parts are collected and used to prepare various remedies.

Constituents:

Wood betony contains alkaloids (including stachydrine and trigonelline), tannins, saponins.

Herbal Infusion:

Dosage for the herbal infusion can be a cup of the infusion taken thrice daily, prepare the infusion by pouring a cup of boiling water on 1 – 2 teaspoonfuls of the dried herb. Let the herb steep into the water for ten to fifteen minutes before straining and drinking. Dosage for the tincture can be 2 – 6 ml of the tincture three times daily as long as needed.

Applications:

Aerial parts:
INFUSION – For general use as a relaxant and as a tonic – low doses of one tsp per cup can be taken daily. The infusion can also be used in therapeutic doses for alleviating menstrual pain, in the treatment of migraines and other headaches, to alleviate nervous tension, or to stimulate digestion and cleanse the system. Hot wood betony infusion can be drunk during a difficult or painful labor to alleviate the pain.
TINCTURE – The wood betony tincture can also be used in the same doses as the infusion and to achieve similar results. Drinking the tincture is particularly beneficial in case of nervous headaches; the tincture combines well with the remedy made from lavender. The tincture can also be used as a cleansing liquid in toxic and arthritic disorders.
POULTICE – The poultice made from the herb can be applied to heal wounds and bruises on the skin. This can be prepared by grinding fresh wood betony leaves to a pulp.
WASH – The infusion can be used as a herbal wash to bathe and clean leg ulcers and other wounds on the skin especially if they are infected.
MOUTHWASH/GARGLE – The herbal infusion is useful in treating mouth ulcers, various gum inflammations, and as a gargle in the case of sore throats.
TONIC WINE – The wood betony can be made into a herbal tonic wine by macerating about fifty grams of wood betony and adding twenty-five gram each of vervain and hyssop in seventy-five ml of white wine – this mixture must be left standing in a bottle two weeks. Doses of a quarter cup per dose will bring relief from nervous headaches and mental tension or other emotional disorders.

 Harvesting Wood Betony:

The wood betony blooms in summer and the aerial parts are best collected just before the floral bloom. The collected plants must be dried carefully by laying them out in sunlight throughout the summer.

Herbal Combination:

A herbal combination remedy made from a mixture of wood betony with skullcap is good for treating nervous headaches.

Winter Tree Lore

ELDER (Sambucus spp.) – The Latin name Sambucus is derived from a Greek word for a wind instrument made from the elder. Also known as Ellhorn, Elderberry, Lady Elder. Sacred to the White Lady and Midsummer Solstice. The Druids used it to both bless and curse. Standing under an elder tree at Midsummer, like standing in a Fairy Ring of mushrooms, will help you see the “little people.” Elder wands can be used to drive out evil spirits or thought forms. Music on panpipes or flutes of elder has the same power as the wand.  The pith can easily be removed from the small branches to make a flute. Elder re-grows damaged branches with ease and can root rapidly from any part. A tea for purifying the blood can be made from the flowers and wine from the fruit, but in general, the tree is poisonous. In Norse mythology, the Goddess Freya chose the black elder as her home. In medieval times it was the abode of witches and it was considered dangerous to sleep under its branches or to cut it down. Sticks of Elder were used as magical horses by Witches. Elder indicates the end in the beginning and the beginning in the end. Life in Death and Death in Life.

‘Elder is the Lady’s Tree, burn it not or cursed ye be’!

Elder, 13th Moon of the Celtic Year – (Nov 25 – Dec 23)

Tree Spirits:

To the ancient Greeks and Romans, trees were thought to be inhabited by female spirits called Dryad (in oak trees) or Meliae (in ash trees). In Greek, drys signifies ‘Oak’ from an Indo-European root *derew(o)- ‘tree’ or ‘wood’. In Scottish folklore, a friendly tree spirit, called the Ghillie Dhu, helps lost children find their way home. Japan is home to a rich tradition encompassing various tree spirits, generally called Kodama. Traditionally, foresters made offerings to the Kodama before cutting a tree down.

PINE (Pinus spp.) – The Pine tree is an evergreen, its old title was “the sweetest of woods”. Its needles are a valuable source of vitamin C and can loosen a tight chest. The scent of Pine is useful in the alleviation of guilt. The Bach’s flower remedies list it for dealing with feelings of guilt. Pine indicates issues of guilt within you. It was known to the Druids as one of the seven chieftain trees of the Irish. Mix the dried needles with equal parts of juniper and cedar and burn to purify the home and ritual area. The cones and nuts can be carried as a fertility charm. A good magical cleansing and stimulating bath are made by placing pine needles in a loose-woven bag and running bath water over it. To purify and sanctify an outdoor ritual area, brush the ground with a pine branch.

MISTLETOE: – Also known as Birdlime, All Heal and Golden Bough. It was the most sacred tree of the Druids and ruled the Winter Solstice. The berries are poisonous. Bunches of mistletoe can be hung as an all-purpose protective herb, also for kissing under. The berries are used in love incenses.

HOLLY (Ilex aquifolium)  – Holly is associated with the death and rebirth symbolism of winter in both Pagan and Christian lore. Holly is also associated with magic for protection, prophecy, healing, animals, sex, invulnerability, watchfulness, good luck, Holiness and consecration.  It is also said to have the ability to enhance other forms of magick. In Arthurian legend, Gawain (representing the Oak King of summer) fought the Green Knight, who was armed with a holly club to represent winter. It is one of the three timbers used in the construction of chariot wheel shafts. It was used in spear shafts also. The qualities of a spear shaft are balance and directness, as the spear must be hefted to be thrown the holly indicates directed balance and vigour to fight if the cause is just. Holly may be used in spells having to do with sleep or rest and to ease the passage of death. A bag of leaves and berries carried by a man is said to increase his ability to attract women.

BIRCH(Betula spp.) – Long associated with fertility and healing magic, new beginnings, purification, protection, creativity, fertility & birth. It was known as ‘The Lady of the Woods’. Birch twigs were used to bestow fertility on cattle and newlyweds, and children’s cradles were made from its wood. Birch is one of the first trees to grow on bare soil and thus it births the entire forest. Criminals were at one time birched to drive out evil influences on them, to renew them for the new year. Birch is an incredibly useful tree – nearly every part of it is edible, and its sap was an important source of sugar to Native Americans and early settlers. The inner bark provides a pain reliever and the leaves are used to treat arthritis. Its bark was used for everything from paper to canoe hulls, and axe handles were also made from Birch.

Lore of the Christmas Rose

COMMON NAME:  Christmas Rose
GENUS:  Helleborus
Species, Hybrids, Cultivars:
H. niger “Angustifolius”-small flowering, pure white form. H.n. “Praecox”-blooms September-February. H.n. “Major,” H.n. “Multiflorus”-smaller flowers.
FAMILY:  Ranunculaceae
BLOOMS: Winter
TYPE: Perennial
DESCRIPTION: This plant, which grows to a height of 12 to 8 inches, has interesting evergreen leaves that are slightly toothed and divided into seven to nine leaflets. The large white flowers are 2 inches or more across, with bright yellow stamens in the center. The blossoms turn pink or purplish as they age.
CULTIVATION: Christmas roses prefer sandy, neutral soil rich in humus. They do best with a bit of winter chill, and they need heavy mulch to protect them from the summer heat. Protection from winter storms and severe weather will also benefit the plants. Winter sun, summer shade, and ample moisture throughout the year are the perfect conditions for the Christmas rose. Plants can be divided in late summer, or after flowering, and planted immediately. Plant new plants in fall or spring, approximately 18 inches apart. It will take a year or so for these plants to get established and bloom well. Established clumps should be treated with a top dressing of compost or liquid fertilizer in February. Although the Christmas roses have a reputation for bringing somewhat introverted and wanting to be left alone, garden writer Vita Sackville-West contends that this reputation is not “wholly deserved: If the plant is dug with a large ball of soil, it will transplant quite easily.”
Christmas rose, also commonly known as hellebore, provides a delightful bit of spirit for the winter garden and deserves the attention it gets due to the lack of competition.
For many centuries, the Christmas rose was thought to possess powerful magical and medicinal properties. In Greek mythology, it was used by the physician Melampus to cure the mad daughters of Proteus, god of the sea. Because of the legend, the plant was often used to treat the insane. Epictetus, a second-century Greek writer, said that the more deluded a man was, the more hellebore he would need. John Gerard, an author of 1597 herbal, wrote that hellebore was “good for mad and furious men.”
The hellebores gained such a reputation for being magical that they were often used to purify houses and drive out evil spirits. The flower is often used as a symbol of purity. According to legend, the Christmas rose grew in the garden in heaven and was tended by the angels, who called it the rose of love. In Holland, it is known as Christ’s herb because it so often blooms at Christmas time. An anonymous poem aptly describes the character of this small flower:
… this winter rose
Blossoms amid the snows,
A symbol of God’s promise cares and love.

Perhaps the best-known legend about the Christmas rose is of Madelon, a small shepherd girl who came to Bethlehem on the night that Christ was born. She had come to see the miracle of his birth but had no gift for the Christ child. Sad and lonely, she stood outside the manger and began to cry. God looked down from heaven and saw her tears and took pity on this small girl with empty hands but a heart full of love. He sent the angel Gabriel to her. Gabriel touched the earth around her, and suddenly, through the frozen ground, there appeared dozens of the small white flowers that today we call Christmas rose. Madelon happily picked an armful of the blossoms and laid them in the manger.
The genus name, Helleborus, sheds a different light on the character of the little Christmas rose. The name is from two Greek words, helein, meaning “to kill,” and bora, meaning “food.” This name was given to the hellebores because the roots are poisonous  Even the bruised leaves give off a toxic substance, so handle the plant carefully. The species name niger was given because the root of this plant is black.
A closely related species is the Lenten rose, H. orientalis. It blooms somewhat later in the season, in March and April, and has blossomed colors that range from green to white and many shades of pink and purple. It grows to a height of about 18 inches, and its cultural requirements are similar to those of the Christmas rose. Both the Christmas and the Lenten rose are native to limestone areas of Europe and Asia.
Sheila MacQueen, the grande dame of English flower arranging, considers the Christmas rose a “necessity for both garden and flower arrangers.” She suggests that you force Christmas rose under a pane of glass to assure blossoms by Christmas. An arrangement of variegated holly, yellow jasmine, and flowers from the Christmas rose, she says, makes a perfect table arrangement for the holidays.
Both the Christmas and the Lenten rose will last longer indoors if their stems are conditioned when cut. Either hammer the ends of the stems or dip the ends into boiling water for thirty seconds and then allow them to stand in deep water for 12 hours.

 garden-plants-christmas-decoration-tischdeko-christmas

The seed heads are also attractive in arrangements. Pick them after the seeds have formed, and put them in a warm spot in the water.

December Birthstone Turquoise ~ Did You Know About White Turquoise?

While much rarer than its bluer counterpart, White Turquoise and its blue/green sister have very similar energetic properties.  This gemstone is a most efficient healer, providing solace for the spirit and well-being of the body.  It is a protective stone and has been used for amulets for many years.  White Turquoise promotes spiritual attunement and enhances communication with the physical and spiritual worlds.  Placed on the third eye, it enhances intuition and meditation.  On the throat chakra, it releases old vows, inhibitions & prohibitions, and allows the soul to express itself once more.  This gemstone explores past lives and shows how the creation of your “fate” is ongoing and depends on what you do at each moment.

Turquoise is a purification stone.  It dispels negative energy and clears electromagnetic smog (a subtle but detectable electromagnetic field given off by electrical power lines, computers, televisions, cell phones).  It balances and aligns all the chakras, and attunes the physical level to the spiritual.  In traditional thought, Turquoise unites the earth and the sky, bringing together male and female energies.  This gemstone is empathetic and balancing.  A promoter of self-realization,  it assists creative problem-solving and calms the nerves when speaking in public.

Psychologically, White Turquoise is a strengthening stone.  It dissolves a martyred attitude or self-sabotage.  Mentally, this stone instils inner calm while remaining alert, and aids creative expression.  Emotionally, White Turquoise stabilizes mood swings and brings inner calm.  It also stimulates romantic love.

Physically, White Turquoise is an excellent stone for exhaustion, depression or panic attacks. It enhances the immune system by regenerating tissue, supporting the assimilation of nutrients, protecting against viral infections and healing the entire body (especially the eyes).  It reduces excess acidity and benefits gout, rheumatism and the stomach.  White Turquoise is anti-inflammatory and detoxifying, alleviating cramps and pain.

As We Approach the Winter Solstice

If you are like me, December can be overwhelming…. As we approach the Winter Solstice, the gift of sunlight is hard to come by, causing light deprivation, circadian disturbances, and shifts in melatonin regulation.  The subsequent effects on mood, behavior and health can be difficult to deal with, especially since the reins of life’s expectations don’t loosen to accommodate these seasonal shifts.  Instead, the holidays bring their own unique stresses and can add to a sense of depletion and anxiety.

In my case, it’s the same each year.  The effects of light deprivation sneak up on me, much in the way that seasonal allergies seem to. I start feeling sluggish and apathetic.  My eyes take on a dull ache and my skin and hair feel like straw.  My sleep is less rejuvenating and I feel starved for more of it.  When the morning alarm rings, it takes me by surprise like a nighttime intruder on my dreams, rather than the harbinger of a new day.  I crave food that can be defined as ‘sticking to the ribs’–starches, sweets and carbohydrates.  I move about my day in an uncomfortable fog, as if I’ve shifted into a Winter torpor.

Obviously, the effects of these shifts in our circadian rhythms can have major implications for our functioning.  The term SAD, or seasonal affective disorder, has been specified by the American Psychiatric Association as a recurrent major depressive disorder.  There are many treatments for SAD, from lightbox therapy and negative air ionization to antidepressants and vitamin D supplements–all of which can be valuable.

However, what I think is critically missing from the conversation surrounding this ‘condition’, is that it is actually quite a balancing force, allowing the external energies of Spring and Summer to gently ebb into the reflective and restorative influence of Fall and Winter.  In this way, we are connected intimately to all of the other living beings around us.  Those of us who don’t choose to migrate by feather, fin, foot, engine or airplane to lands of longer days, are given to the same process of slowing down.  Amphibians bury themselves in the cold muddy bottoms of ponds and slow their metabolic rates to a crawl.  Bears, rodents and small mammals snuggle into burrows, caves, hollowed logs, warrens, dams and tunnels and hibernate.  Deciduous trees shed their leaves, stop photosynthesizing and go dormant. Perennials pulse energy and nutrients through their roots.  Plants and animals are allowed the most logical and reasonable response to the shifting in seasons–rest.

As for we humans, it is essential that we allow some self-care rituals to usher in the shorter days and colder weather to avoid feeling at odds with our environment.  SAD is, at least in part, a result of the cultural expectation that our patterns should remain the same, despite the changes in our environment.  Our culture is not set up to keep us thriving through these transitions.  Our work and school days remain the same.  Our financial pressures only increase with the need to heat our homes and accommodate holiday spending. We are accustomed to eating the same varieties of foods in these lean times as we do in the vegetative abundance of summer.  We can feel isolated and alone as the roads become icy, and the weather less appealing.

However, we can take a cue from some other Northern cultures that have adjusted for the dark days surrounding the Solstice.   Scandinavian countries, specifically Denmark and Norway, have adopted the concept of ‘Hygge”.  This is a term that signifies a physical and psychological state of coziness, safety, togetherness and well-being.   Hygge is a state of being that does not try to defy the influence of these circadian changes, but rather embodies them in a celebration of reflection, unity and restoration. There is much evidence that this concept is good medicine. Despite sometimes as much as 17 hours of daily darkness, the Danes are one of the happiest people on the planet.

And while it is unrealistic for most of us to shirk the responsibilities of modern life, we can adopt some of the principal tenets of Hygge into our daily routines.  Below is a simple, attainable list of small changes that can have mighty effects on our mental, physical and spiritual health as we enter these Winter months.

  1. Declutter. Physical clutter leads to mental congestion and makes it harder to relax. Make your home a sanctuary by creating tidy and clear spaces. Focus instead on coziness–soft blankets, warm socks, and plush textures work wonders.
  2. Create a glow.  The warm, flickering light of wood stoves, candles and soft lighting give a softness and security that incandescent lighting can’t match.
  3. Exercise first thing in the morning, outside in the natural light. This helps in multiple ways–it keeps circadian rhythms fixed and maintains a strong sleep drive at the end of the day. And, exposure to natural morning light can stave off grogginess for the rest of the day as it signals the body to cut down melatonin release and increase serotonin levels.
  4. Maintain a consistent sleep and waking cycle.Going to bed and waking up at the same times each day can work wonders on keeping our circadian rhythms aligned.
  5. Put away the back-lit gadgets at least 1 hour before bed and enjoy the natural warm light of a fire or candlelight instead. The blue spectrum light given off by electronics confuses the brains rhythm’s and inhibits the hormonal release needed for good sleep.
  6. Be together. Hygge is created through togetherness. Allow the holidays to be a chance to come together and help each other, rather than a cue to buy presents. Give the gift of your time and be present, and ask that others give the same. Physical objects cannot create happiness the way that feeling secure, unstressed and valued can. Together, we can support each other and create an unparalleled expression of light in the darkness: the feeling of being loved.

I hope you all have a happy Solstice, and a cozy start to your Winter! For more information about Hygge, check out Meik Wiking’s book, The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well.

herbal truffles

Herbal Truffle Recipe

These truffles make beautiful and healthful gifts for the holidays. They are a great way to give your loved ones the benefits of herbs as they enjoy the luxurious treat of homemade truffles.  Enjoy!

Ingredients:
¼ cup cocoa powder
¼ cup maca powder
¼  cup turmeric powder
2 tablespoons damiana powder
1 tablespoon ginger powder
1 tablespoon rosemary powder
1 tablespoon cardamom powder
½  tablespoon black pepper finely ground
3/4 cup tahini or almond butter
1/2 cup raw honey or maple syrup
1 tablespoon coconut shreds or black sesame seeds to roll balls in
Directions:

  • Mix the nut butter and sweetener together in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the powdered herbs.
  • By hand or with an electric mixer, slowly add powdered herbs to the nut butter mixture.
  • Form mixture into 1-inch balls and then roll in coconut shreds or sesame seeds.
  • Store in airtight container in the refrigerator—refrigeration will give the truffles a firmer texture.
  • Enjoy 1-3 truffles per day.

Medicinal Herb: Desert Lavender

Hyptis emoryi

FLOWERS

Violet up to 1 inch wide and in clusters.

DESCRIPTION

Medium to tall, cold tender, perennial shrub, found in the southwestern United States of Arizona, Nevada, California, and northwestern Mexico in Sonora and Baja California.

HABITAT

Dry washes, and on rocky slopes, up to 3000 feet in elevation. It is evergreen or cold deciduous, depending upon its location.

REGION DESERTS

The Southwestern United States of Arizona, Nevada, California, and northwestern Mexico in Sonora and Baja California.

desert lavender

Energetics: Cooling, calming, stimulating

Actions: Bitter, astringent, aromatic, diaphoretic, antimicrobial, styptic

Wound healing. Hyptis makes a top-notch wound wash (strong decoction) or applied to bleeding wounds in infused oil or salve form. I’ve used it for various wounds over the years (often combined with white sage), and it is effective not only in stopping the bleeding but because it is also strongly antimicrobial, it helps prevent infection. It’s proven useful as haemorrhoid soak in sitz baths for a heavily pregnant friend: those astringent and hemostatic properties in combination with it being cooling, soothing, and anti-inflammatory really came in handy. She’d use the hyptis (with yarrow) in a sitz bath then apply the same in a salve directly to the area and reported much relief.

Antimicrobial/ digestive: Hyptis is strongly antimicrobial with an affinity for the digestive tract. Internally, in infusion or tincture, it is highly effective for acute conditions like food poisoning, especially when it feels like someone’s taken a scouring pad to your intestines. I use it myself every time I have the scouring-pad-to-intestines feeling (which, given that I have an extremely sensitive stomach, happens quite frequently). I’ve used it in formulas for dysentery type conditions, norovirus, and numerous bouts of random food-related illness, all to good effect.

A notable recent case was for a client who had diarrhea for a couple of weeks straight. I’ve been trying to convince her to do some elimination testing for food allergies, as she really does exhibit signs of one (eczema and IBS type symptoms most notably), however (understandably) she’s really reluctant to completely change her lifestyle. I gave her a formula with desert lavender, evening primrose, plantain, blackberry leaf and ginger in a tea, and has been keeping her guts so happy that she’s put off eliminating any foods once more. I’m not entirely sure if this is a good thing…

For more chronic microbial issues like thrush and intestinal dysbiosis, hyptis proves to be a valuable part of any formula, often in combination with chilopsis linearis (desert willow), white sage, alder, yerba mansa, and ocotillo (in various combinations).

Diaphoretic: Desert lavender is a particularly delicious and effective relaxing diaphoretic. The antimicrobial properties come into effect well here, too.

Cools the fire: For headaches, irritability, overheating, itchy and irritated eyes, hangover bellies, nausea and all other symptoms that you’d associate with liver fire, desert lavender swiftly comes to the rescue, cooling and calming things down. Systemically it’s incredibly useful for people who tend towards constitutional liver heat, and I reach for it to try first every time I’m presented with a liver heat type headache because it works probably 70% of the time. Desert lavender calms the stomach and is especially effective for those mornings after you’ve drunk a little too much and feel like your stomach lining is going to consume itself and that there aren’t enough fry up breakfasts in the world to help. Internally its lovely used in tea blends for ulcers and for nausea, applying that calming-of-overactivity action to the stomach.
Anti-inflammatory: Used externally as a wound wash, or as a soak for swollen joints or aching swollen and tired feet, desert lavender absolutely excels. It really helps to relieve pain and reduce inflammation. It can also be combined with white sage in this manner, especially if there is more pain (white sage, among other things, is analgesic). Internally, because it tastes so good (in small quantities), it a great daily anti-inflammatory infusion, and is a nice humble antioxidant that doesn’t come in a plastic bottle from halfway around the world. Systemically, it is cooling and calming, making it a great addition to any regime for people with chronic inflammatory conditions.

desert lavender 1Bitter: One of the nice things about hawking my wares to a variety of people is the feedback get en masse for certain products or combinations. I made a desert lavender (with white sage) bitters blend last year that I’ve been getting some great reviews from people about— as a digestive bitter, it stimulates, but not overly so. I also married a strongly anabolic man who eats himself into a food coma regularly and this often results in some pretty wretched indigestion followed by terrible gas. It is in my best interest to treat these things as quickly as possible as we share a bedroom. Desert lavender bitters come to the rescue on a regular basis, easing indigestion and calming the flatulence to the point where I can sleep without feeling like I’m in a gas chamber. Small blessings. I also have a customer with IBS used to use Swedish Bitters on a daily basis but had to stop because it irritated her intestines too much. She now uses hyptis bitters in their place and finds them as effective at aiding digestion without causing the purging that Swedish Bitters did. Once again that cooling, soothing and stimulating action in effect.

hyptis-emoryi-flowers 

Calming: That frenetic buzzing, the same thing that bees do, that nervous systems do, desert lavender has a strongly calming action on, bringing it down to a manageable level. I’ve seen this time and again, with people who tend to go into stress-mode, who drink too much coffee, are wired hours later, and generally seem to be in a state of sympathetic nervous system access. A half dropper or so of hyptis tincture will really take the edge off, tone down the frenzy and chill a person out. It’s a nice smoking herb for this kind of thing too, especially mixed with pedicularis.

Other: Use it as a smudge (you could combine it with white sage, or with pine pitch, or juniper berries, or all of the above), in a sick room for help fighting airborne microbes, or, for respiratory illness, add it to a steam. Try cooking with it (I use it in a spice blend with bee balm, white sage, black sage, rose petals, sumac, and California bay leaves), or making a desert lavender syrup to add to sodas. Its flavor is enough like true lavender that you can substitute it in a lot of recipes, though keep in mind desert lavender is slightly stronger tasting and lacks the sweetness of some types of true lavender.

Combinations:

As a digestive bitter, it is particularly effective in combination with white sage, with ginger, cinnamon, and some lemon peel.

With any combination of white sage, yerba mansa, ocotillo, alder: Immune boosting, antimicrobial, infection fighting.

With rose and monkeyflower: uplifting, liver moving, gently calming and relaxing. A really lovely little blend.

With evening primrose: cools inflammation and soothes the digestive tract.

With elderflower and a wild mint (I’m particularly fond of it with one of our local Monardella species) in hot infusion: great diaphoretic blend. Especially because the desert lavender is so strongly

antimicrobial and immune system stimulating.

With Chilopsis (desert willow): a particularly nice combination for candida or gut dysbiosis.

The bits and bobs:

Desert lavender grows in the Sonoran and Mojave deserts, in sunny washes. It’s common and abundant in most places within its growing range. You can harvest hyptis year-round, though it’s most likely to be gather-able in the winter and spring, after the rains but before the desert gets too hot. Gather it when it is flowering, pinching off the top 8 inches or so with the freshest growth. As with most mints, it’ll actually grow back bushier as a result. California hyptis, probably due to there being less rain than in Arizona, is remarkably smaller than Arizonan species unless you gather it in a shady canyon. I highly recommend finding a shady canyon.

Preparation: Tincture (fresh 1:2; dry 1:5). While Michael Moore says 95% I’ve personally found it to be so dry usually that I don’t need to waste my [hard to come by in California] 95% everclear; 70% works really nicely. Luckily those who live in Arizona with more lush plants also have access to higher percentage alcohol on a regular basis. I’m assuming this is some sort of ‘Arizona government loves herbalists’ conspiracy.

hyptis-emoryi-flowers

Try preparing hyptis as a salve, infused oil (both for external use and ingestion as food), vinegar, oxymel, honey (which is beyond delicious).
About Desert Lavender (Condea emoryi)Hyptis emoryi (Desert Lavender) is a fragrant, multi-stemmed shrub species of flowering plant in the Lamiaceae (mint family). The genus Condea (formerly Hyptis) is commonly known as the bush mint. Desert Lavender is a medium to large perennial shrub found in the deserts of southwestern United States of Arizona, Nevada, California, and northwestern Mexico in Sonora and Baja California at elevations below 3,000 ft.

Desert Lavender prefers sandy or gravelly soils with good drainage, and full sun or part shade. It can tolerate summer water up to 1x per month.
Plant DescriptionPlant Type

Shrub


Height

12 Feet (3.7 Mts)


Width

8 Feet (2.4 Mts)


Form

Rounded, Upright Columnar


Fragrance

Fragrant – Pleasant


Growth Rate

Moderate


Deciduous / Evergreen

Summer Semi-Deciduous


Leaves

Small, furry, blue-green or grey-green in color. It is drought deciduous but will retain its leaves with 1x month watering


Flowers

Blue, Lavender


Flowering Season

Jan-Mar
Apr-Jun
Jul-Sep
Oct-Dec


Native Status

Native

Site CharacteristicsNatural Setting

Gravelly, sandy washes, canyon bottoms and alluvial fans of the Colorado Desert, extending slightly into the Mojave Desert, usually as part of creosote bush scrub


Sun

Full Sun


Soil

Prefers sandy or decomposed granite soil


Soil Texture

Sand


Soil PH

6.0 – 7.5


Drainage

Fast


Cold Tolerance(degrees F)

Tolerates cold to 25° F


Drought Tolerance ?

Extremely
Very
Moderately
Not


Sunset Zones ?

8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16,17,19,20,21,22,23,24


Companion Plants

Desert Willow (Chilopsis linearis), California Fan Palm (Washingtonia filifera), Creosote Bush (Larrea tridentata), Ocotillo (Fouquieria splendens), Jojoba (Simmondsia chinensis), Blue Paloverde (Parkinsonia florida), White Bursage (Ambrosia dumosa), Chuparosa(Justicia californica), Barrel Cactus (Ferocactus cylindraceus), Desert Agave (Agave deserti), Brittlebush (Encelia farinosa), Indigo Bush (Psorothamnus sp.), Smoke Tree (Psorothamnus spinosus), Apricot Mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua), Opuntia spp, numerous annual wildflowers


Wildlife Attracted

Bees, butterflies

Landscaping InformationEase of Care

Moderately Easy


Landscaping popularity

Moderately Popular


Max Summer Irrigation

No Summer Water
1x/month
2x/month
3x/month
1/week
Keep moist


Mulch

Inorganic


Pruning

Prune as desired in Summer or Fall


Common uses

Butterfly Gardens, Hedges


Nursery Availability

Commonly Available

Medicinal Herb: Lavender {Lavandula officinalis syn. L. angustifolia}

Also, Known As:

  • Common Lavender
  • Garden Lavender
  • Lavender
  • Spike Lavender
  • Sweet Lavender
  • True Lavender

The shrubby herbal plant called the lavender is a common sight in the South Europe. The lavender is also cultivated and grown in many other places, especially the southern and western regions of the United States, where it is also a common sight. The plant grows best at sites with a good exposure to sunlight; in general, the lavender prefers dry and sunny places for optimal growth.

The lavender is multi-branched and possesses a woody stem averaging in height from six and twenty-four inches – it is thus, a small shrub. Lavender bears oppositely placed leaves, each leaf is very narrow and can range anywhere from three-fourths of an inch to two inches in length, the leaves are gray-green in color, and they tend to be tomentose in shape.

The flowers bloom from the month of June through September in the fall, however, the blooms of one variety persist a little longer – the L. latifalia – into late fall. The flowers are baby blue in coloration and are small sized flowers; the flowers have a strong smell. Each flowering branch ends in spikes borne at the end of lengthy floral stalks. The best smelling of the flowers are the flowers borne by the L. Angustifolia subspecies. In general, all lavender varieties have flowers which contain a richly perfumed, colorless and volatile oil made from linalyl acetate and a hydroxycoumarin compound known as herniarin – these compounds find use in the perfumery and cosmetic industries.

Lavender-Flowers-Desktop-Background-Wallpaper-Lavender-Flowers-Field-Beautiful-FlowerThe scent of the lavender has been prized for thousands of years and the plant has been valued as a scented herb in many civilizations of the past. The mind and the body can be relaxed and soothed down by the inhalation of a herbal infusion or herbal tincture made from the essential oil of the lavender, smelling the lavender flowers also induces this effect in the body. The herbal remedy made from the herb is effective in the treatment of prolonged anxiety, chronic and persistent nervousness, as well as in alleviating the physical symptoms induced by an excessive stress such as tension headaches, persistent migraine, cardiac palpitations and sleep disorders like insomnia. The emotions are said to be brought into balance by the application of lavender oil, it is said to elevate flagging spirits, helping in relieving depression and enabling the person to overcome inner disharmony and mental problems. The stimulating effect of the lavender is another potent property of the herb, the remedy brings a tonic effect on the nervous system, and it helps to restore the vitality to individuals affected by long-term nervous exhaustion and mental trauma.

The disorders of the digestive tract, in particular, are greatly eased by the relaxing effect of the lavender, the herbal remedy soothes muscle spasms and eases colic related to mental tension and anxiety. It is also very effective in helping relieve abdominal distension, in relieving persistent flatulence, spells of nausea as well as indigestion. The lavender herbal remedy boosts a flagging appetite, enabling the person to absorb the maximum amount of nutrients from the diet. The volatile oils in the lavender are a powerful antiseptic and have been shown to have a good effect against pathogenic bacteria such as the strains responsible for diseases like diphtheria and typhoid, it is very potent against the streptococcus and pneumococcus strains of bacteria. The herbal remedy can be taken in the form of a herbal tea, it can also be inhaled as dispersed oil or used as a vapor rub. Used topically, the lavender is capable of alleviating common colds, chronic coughs, problems such as asthma and persistent bronchitis, problems like pneumonia, the flu, persistent tonsillitis and laryngitis in affected individuals. A lavender herbal tea or tincture is also useful for the treatment of stomach and bowel infections that are accompanied by vomiting or diarrhea as symptoms.

When prepared in the form of a hot herbal tea, the remedy made from lavender induces sweating and helps reduce the elevated body temperatures in case of fevers. The body is also detoxified by the lavender remedy; the herb rapidly eliminates accumulated toxins in the body through the skin and the urine as a result of its mild diuretic effect.

lavender heavenThe remedy made from the lavender herb is also very effective as an external disinfectant in the treatment of all kinds of cuts and wounds, helping heal all kinds of sores and ulcers on the body. The tissue repair and restoration process in the body is also stimulated by the herbal remedy resulting in the minimization of scar formation especially when the volatile oil is applied next to the burns. The diluted oil is used in the treatment of disorders such as eczema, chronic acne and varicose ulcers in the affected person.

Plant Parts Used:

Flowers, essential oil.

Herbal Use:

The soothing and calming action of the herbal lavender remedy is well known to herbalists. The lavender is often combined with mixed remedies with different sedative herbs to treat problems such as sleeplessness, nervous irritability, chronic headaches, as well as persistent migraine problems in affected individuals. The herbal remedy made from the lavender is also very useful in alleviating depression and related mental disorders.
Similar to other herbs that also contain significant amounts of volatile oil, the lavender helps soothe problems such as indigestion and colic in affected individuals, the lavender remedy also brings relief from excess abdominal gas and bloating in the abdominal region.
Some types of asthmatic conditions can be treated using the lavender; its relaxing effect helps treat such problems particularly if the condition is accompanied by symptoms such as excessive nervousness.
The volatile oil present in the lavender plant is a very effective first aid remedy for treating topical problems of all kinds. The potent antiseptic effects of the lavender beneficial in many instances, the remedy helps heal all kinds of burns, it helps in treating wounds, as well as sores on the skin. The remedy made from the lavender when rubbed on injuries caused by stinging insects can relieve the pain and the inflammation in the area. The remedy made from the lavender is also used in the treatment of problems such as scabies and head lice in affected individuals. Chronic headaches can be eased by massaging or rubbing the forehead and temples with a few drops of the volatile oil. Muscle tension can be relieved by adding five drops to a bath at night, this bathing will tone the nervous system, and help the person get a good night’s sleep – this is particularly beneficial for individuals affected by sleep disorders of all kinds.

OTHER MEDICAL USES
  • Denture problems
  • Herpes
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Ovulation pain
  • Pharyngitis
  • Phobia
  • Wrinkles

lavender-3-11CULINARY USES

The lavender is also used in cuisines, the dried parts of the lavender plant including the leaves, the floral buds, and the flowers are used as a seasoning for many kinds of meat and vegetable dishes in Europe.
The freshly chopped leaves and the diced flowering tips can be added to dressings, vegetable salads, to wines, and to vinegar of all kinds.
Dishes used as desert including puddings, ice cream, jellies and fruit, particularly berries can be flavored with the blossoms of the lavender. It is best to use the seasoning sparingly as the sweet lemon floral flavor of the English lavender can be rather potent.
An aromatic and refreshing herbal lavender tea can be prepared by steeping five ml or one teaspoon of the dried flowers or fifteen ml or three teaspoons of fresh lavender flowers in two hundred fifty ml or a cup of boiling water. The herb must be allowed to infuse into the water for some time before the infusion is drained and cooled for consumption.
The term “gourmet’s delight” is deserved by the honey derived from lavender flowers; this honey is used as a sweetening agent in many cuisines of Europe.
The classic French herbal blend called the “Herbes de Provence,” is made from a mixture of lavender blossoms and other common fragrant European culinary herbs such as the thyme, the savory herb, the basil, and the fennel.
The oil extract of the lavender is commercially employed as a flavor for food items like candy, all kinds of baked goods, to flavor chewing gum, in various gelatins, in puddings, and to enhance the taste of various beverages and drinks.

CRAFT USES

The beautiful and graceful appearing lavender spikes are a good addition to fresh floral arrangements sold in floral shops. The fragrant and aromatic quality of dried lavender spikes persists for a number of years; this makes them very nice additions to potpourris and floral sachets.

The Habitat of Lavender:

lavender (1)The lavender is a herb originally found only in France and the western Mediterranean region. These days, the lavender is cultivated around the world mainly for its aromatic volatile oil. The lavender is also a popular garden plant and is a common sight in gardens even as far north as Norway in Europe.
The lavender is a perennial herb. The lavender comes in many varieties, which also includes a dwarf variety of the plant. The English lavender which is the hardiest variety is ideal for regions with harsh winters, it is best to mulch it over the winter season. The best way to propagate the lavender is by the process of root divisions.
All types of soils can be used to grow the lavender as the plant is tolerant of different types of soils; however, optimal growth is achieved on dry, sandy and well-drained soils which are in the alkaline range. Acidic soils must be neutralized initially using ground limestone before lavender is planted at a site. The pH range tolerated by the plant is from a slightly acidic 6.4 to an alkaline 8.2 pH.
The lavender plant requires good exposure to sunlight for optimal growth. The lavender must not be planted in shady, damp locations or sites – the plant may not flower well and development may be impaired at such sites.
The seeds of the lavender can be sown indoors approximately ten to twelve weeks before the last spring frost dates of the year. The rate of germination of the seeds can be boosted by chilling the seeds in a refrigerator for a few weeks before the planting is carried out. The seeds stored in a refrigerator should be kept moist at all times. Each of the seeds must not be planted deeper than six mm or one-fourth of an inch in the seedbed. Germination typically occurs in fourteen to twenty-eight days time. The growing seedlings can be transplanted outside after all the danger of late frost in the year has passed.
Lavender that has been propagated using seeds tends to be variable in size and other characteristics, the distinctive characteristics of the cultivar from which the seed is taken may not be reproduced in the seedlings or progeny – this is one reason for the preference for propagation via cuttings.
The other reason is that the germination time for the seeds of many lavender cultivars can take up to six weeks; the seedlings tend to grow at a very slow rate. Hence, it is relatively easier to propagate the lavender from stem cuttings, and these cuttings are normally done in the spring or fall season.
When planting at a site, the optimal growth of each seedling is ensured by spacing the plants thirty to ninety cm – one to three feet – from each other. This spacing of the growing plants ensures optimal growth rates and successful development in the seedlings.
The plants grown in pots can be encouraged to flower at a proper time by the addition of a liquid fertilizer to the soil bed at regular intervals.
The longevity of the English lavender is about twenty to thirty years. However, even though this time is long, the plant becomes rather untidy within a few years of growth – it is necessary to trim the plant once during the spring as well as in early in the fall season to ensure a neat appearance.
The floral spike of more compact plants can be nipped off just before the bloom during the first year to ensure proper growth of the plants.
The lavender is vulnerable to spittlebugs and the caterpillars of many Lepidoptera species. The lavender is also vulnerable to fungal diseases such as the leaf spot disease. Root rot disease also tends to affect lavender plants that are growing in overly moist soils or waterlogged areas. The chances of disease are minimized by improving the drainage and by planting seedlings in raised soil beds. The plants must be pruned near the stem to allow the air to circulate well in the area around the base of the growing plants. The seedlings can be planted outdoors, the seedbed must be mulched, and covered with straw, or evergreen boughs to protect them from cold weather during the winter.

Research:

A scientist has been researching the main chemical constituents of the essential oil for many decades now, from the results, it is believed to have a very low toxicity in the human body and possesses significant antiseptic and bactericidal effects. Nervous excitability, irritability, and pain are also reduced by the lavender.
The flowers of the lavender plant taken as a whole are also believed to have potent bactericidal and antiseptic effects. The remedy made from lavender calms the nerves helps in reducing muscular tension and actively relieves muscular cramps and excess gas in the abdominal region. The insecticide and rubefacient effects of the lavender are also potent as a topical remedy. Rubefacient means irritant and stimulating effects on the local circulation in an area.

Constituents:

  • Volatile oil (up to 3%) containing over 40 constituents, including linalyl acetate (30-60%), cineole (10%), linalool, nerol, borneol
  • Flavonoids
  • Tannins
  • Coumarins

Recommended Dosage:

The remedy made from the lavender can be taken in the form of a herbal infusion for the treatment of indigestion, to treat such problems doses of one hundred ml or four fl oz can be taken two times every day. The tincture of lavender can be used as a remedy for the treatment of chronic sleeplessness and other related sleep disorders, a dose of three to five ml – about half a tsp to one tsp – can be used at night for such disorders. The infusion or the essential oil of the lavender can be added to bath water and used for washing before bedtime, this helps relieve emotional and physical stress and aids in alleviating tension, this remedy can also be used in a diffuser to induce sleep in sleepless individuals. A topical lavender treatment can be used to treat persistent headaches, two drops of lavender essential oil added in a bowl of cold water can be used as a remedy – a cloth soaked in this solution can be used as a compress and placed across the forehead to bring relief from headaches. Physical and nervous exhaustion can be treated by adding five drops of lavender oil to a footbath, washing the feet with this solution brings soothing relief from tension. The lavender oil and infusion can also be used as a rub or massaging oil for treating arthritic complaints, one drop each of lavender essential oil and the essential oil of the wintergreen added to fifty ml or four tbsp of carrier oil can be used as a topical remedy to treat various problems affecting the human body. The essential oil of the lavender can be used as a direct application in treating insect bites or stings of all kinds.

Possible Side Effects and Precautions:

Topical use of the essential oil of the lavender can induce problems such as dermatitis in some individuals. The essential oil of the lavender is widely available for use in aromatherapy, and a herbal tea is often made from a few drops of this oil as well. Using large doses of the lavender oil is not advised for any reason, the lavender is a narcotic poison which can easily induce muscular convulsions and death in some cases. The oil must be used in small quantities to avoid these side effects.

How Lavender Works in the Body:

The remedy made from the lavender induces a calming and relaxing effect on the human body, making it an effective remedy to treat the disorders affecting various organ systems in the body. The remedy made from the lavender is very effective in treating disorders affecting the digestive system, it helps calm problems such as indigestion and alleviates related physical symptoms including excess abdominal wind and bloating in the stomach. The lavender is used for the treatment of chronic headaches, to treat long-term depression, and sleeplessness – it is also useful in treating other problems affecting the nervous system. The remedy made from the lavender is also useful in the treatment of asthma and related respiratory problems, particularly in cases where a nervous element contributes to the physical symptoms of the disease. The lavender remedy is also useful in the treatment of topical problems when added to different creams and rubbing oils – it can be effective as a rub in treating arthritic complaints of all kinds. The lavender also effectively acts as a painkiller remedy and helps relieve painful joints and related arthritic-type conditions. The remedy is also beneficial in treating nerve pain and neuralgia, the external remedy is useful and helpful when included in creams and oils meant for topical use.

lavender-beauty-benefits-5Applications:

Flowers:
INFUSION – The herbal infusion of the lavender is a good remedy for treating problems such as chronic nervous exhaustion, it can help relieve tension headaches and is very relaxing during labor. The remedy is also useful as a remedy for treating colic and indigestion related issues. Babies and infants can be given diluted infusion, about twenty-five percent of normal strength, to treat colic, nervous irritability, and excitement.
TINCTURE – Chronic headaches and prolonged depression can be treated by taking doses of up to five ml of the remedy, two times every day.
MOUTHWASH – The floral infusion is also useful for treating halitosis and as a general mouthwash.
Essential oil:
CREAM – The essential oil can be added to various topical creams, a few drops of chamomile cream is good for treating eczema and other skin disorders.
LOTION – Dilute a few drops of oil in a little water and use the solution to treat scalds, burns and sunburn on the skin.
CHEST RUB – The essential oil of lavender can also be used as a rubbing or massage oil, mix one ml of the oil and five drops of chamomile oil to ten ml of a carrier oil, this can be rubbed on the chest to alleviate asthmatic and bronchitic spasms and related problems.
HAIR RINSE – The essential oil diluted in water is also useful as a rinse, five to ten drops of the oil in water used as a rinsing on the hair can rid the person of lice. A few drops of undiluted lavender oil applied on a fine comb is also an effective treatment for nits.
MASSAGE OIL – One ml of lavender oil can be mixed in twenty-five ml of carrier oil, and used to massage sore and painful muscles in the body. The temples and the nape of the neck can also be massaged using ten drops lavender oil diluted in a twenty-five ml carrier oil – this massage will relieve tension headaches, alternately it can be used at the first sign of a migraine for immediate relief.
OIL – The undiluted lavender oil is an excellent topical remedy for insect bites and stings on the skin. Ten drops of the oil can be mixed with a twenty-five ml carrier oil as a treatment for sunstroke, this rubbing of oil can also help prevent sunburn on the skin. This treatment is not an effective sunblock and must not be substituted for commercial sunblocks.

 Harvesting Lavender:

The best time to pick lavender flowers is before the last blooms on each individual stalk has fully opened up. Typically, dry days are chosen when harvesting the flowers, the collection is carried out in the morning before sunlight has not evaporated too much of the essential oils present in the flowers. The floral stalks are harvested and tied in neat bundles and hung to dry in a warm, shady and airy area. Several weeks may pass before the flowers become completely dry. When the floral stalks become crisp to the touch, the flowers are stripped off the flowers and these are stored in airtight containers and kept in a dark place. Cookie sheets may also be used to dry the stalks; the stalks are laid flat on the surface and dried slowly. To make the best potpourris, it is ideal to use flowers in buds that have just begun to open up.

Lavender Potpourri:

  • 3 cups dried lavender buds
  • 2 Tbs. dried lemon peel
  • 4 Tbs. orris root powder
  • 4 Tbs. dried spearmint
  • 2 Tbs. dried basil
  • 2 Tbs. dried rosemary
  • 1 tsp. benzoic acid powder
  • 6 drops oil of lavender

Combine all the ingredients except the oil. Add the oil a drop at a time, tossing as you add. Seal and cure in a dry, airy, warm place for 6 weeks, shaking daily. Pack into a decorative container with a tight stopper.

Cotton Lavender Moth Repellent:

A mixture of cotton lavender and other herbs makes a useful moth repellent. Make sweet bags filled with the mixture and hang in wardrobes or place in cupboards or drawers to ward off moths, and to impart an aromatic scent to clothes and linen.

Equal parts, dried and crumbled.

  • Cotton lavender leaves
  • Lavender flowers
  • Rosemary leaves and rue

Combine the ingredients and use to fill bags made of lightweight fabric, adding ribbon loops for hanging if desired.

Lavender Sugar:

Store two or three dried heads of lavender in an airtight jar of caster sugar. This will scent the sugar beautifully. The sugar may be used sparingly in delicately flavored dishes, such as simple sponge cakes, custards or ice cream.

Medicinal Herb: Passiflora {Homeopathy}

Passiflora incarnata

The homeopathic remedy passiflora is obtained from the herb called Passiflora incarnata, which is also known as purple passion flower, maypop, true passion flower, wild passion vine and wild apricot. Passiflora incarnata is a perennial vine having a climbing or sprawling stems and grows quite rapidly. Belonging to the genus Passiflora, Passiflora incarnata or the maypop bears big and elaborate flowers having outstanding styles and stamens. Passiflora incarnata is considered to be among the most resilient species of passion flower and is a very common wildflower in the southern regions of the United States. The Cherokee, Native Americans who historically settled in the southeastern regions of the United States, of Tennessee region called this herb Ocoee and is the State Wildflower of Tennessee.

The long and trailing stems of passion flower are found in two forms – smooth or covered with fine hairs (pubescent) and have several tendrils. The plant produces leaves which grow alternately on the stem and are in the form of a palm (palmately) having three lobes and each measuring anything between 6 cm and 15 cm. The leaves possess two distinct glands at the bottom of the blade on the petiole. The plant bears bluish-white flowers that have five petals each. The flowers display a white and purple corona – an arrangement of excellent appendages flanked by the petals and corolla. The big flower is usually structured in a ring on top of the petals and sepals. Flowers of passion flower, which generally blossom in the month of July, are sterile by self and pollinated by insects like the bumblebees.

Passiflora-incarnata-pollinationPassionflower produces fleshy fruits, which are also known as maypop, that are oval-shaped berries of the size of a hen’s egg having a yellowish color. When the fruits are unripe, they are green in color, but the hue changes to orange when they mature. Like in the instance of other passifloras, the berries of passion flower also form the food for the larvae of many several species of butterflies.

Conventionally, the whole passion flower plant, freshly obtained or dried out, has been used as a herbal remedy to heal conditions such as nervousness and sleeplessness or insomnia. In Europe, people use the dried out and pounded herb to prepare a herbal tea. In addition, some manufacturers have used the herb to produce a sedative chewing gum. The fruits of Passiflora incarnata are also consumed in the form of jam and jellies or used as a substitute for its South African relative Passiflora edulis, which is cultivated commercially. In fact, the berries of Passiflora incarnata and the fruits of Passiflora edulis are similar in size as well as their yield of juice. In fact, the berries or the ripened fruits of passion flower can be consumed directly and when they are eaten, these fruits form a very tasty snack – but extremely seedy. Since ages, the fruits of this plant have been a favorite of the European settlers and the indigenous people in America.

It may be mentioned that in the 19th century, physician Edwin M. Hale extracted Passiflora incarnata from the passion flower leaves. The homeopathic remedy passiflora, which is prepared from the leaves of the passion flower, is extremely useful for people suffering from insomnia, especially infants, the elderly and those who are enduring nervous anxiety and people under stress. In fact, this homeopathic medicine is an effective remedy for people enduring insomnia owing to mental fatigue.

Symptoms of the patients who need the homeopathic remedy passiflora deteriorate when they are mentally troubled; endure mental stimulation during the night as well as after taking any meal. This homeopathic medicine is also beneficial for people suffering from insomnia and habitually taking morphine as well as individuals enduring nervous anxiety. Such people are usually wakeful and restive even when they are sleeping. Precisely speaking, the homeopathic medicine passiflora soothes the nervous system enabling the users to have a sound sleep.

Conventionally, homeopathic physicians have used freshly obtained or the dried up whole passionflower to cure insomnia as well as nervous anxiety. The chemicals enclosed by the passion flower help to induce sleep, calm the system as well as provide relief from muscle spasms. Several types of research have demonstrated that the homeopathic remedy passiflora has the potential to lessen the symptoms of nervousness, occasionally working as effectively as some of the prescription drugs.

The secondary or lesser important use of the homeopathic remedy passiflora includes gastrointestinal disorders related to anxiety or nervousness. In addition, passiflora is also recommended to provide relief from the symptoms associated with psychiatric disorders, asthma, hysteria, narcotic drug withdrawal, menopausal symptoms, palpitations, hypertension, irregular heartbeat, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and fibromyalgia (a rheumatoid chaos distinguished by muscle pain and headaches). Homeopaths also recommend passiflora for providing relief from different types of pains.

The homeopathic remedy passiflora is applied topically to the skin for treating hemorrhoids, pains, burns, swellings or inflammation and may also be massaged into the skin to encourage respite. Passiflora is known to be the adoring homeopathic medicine since it helps to encourage leisure as well as relaxation.

Insomnia is the typical symptom that is associated with the homeopathic remedy passiflora. People who respond best to this homeopathic medicine have a tendency to lie in a wakeful condition at night which causes exhaustion. Such people are susceptible to strange feelings, for instance, they may occasionally have a feeling that their eyeballs are sticking out like they have been pushed out of their heads or the cover of their heads are raising. When they lie down, they may have a feeling that their heels are lifting up in the air. While passiflora is effective for treating such conditions, this homeopathic remedy is especially useful for crying children and alcoholics.

A very common patient of passiflora has a tendency to have a clean tongue (neither white nor fuzzy), keep worrying all the time, undertake too much of work and demonstrate hysterical or frantic inclinations. The symptoms of Passiflora patients worsen when there is noise and they improve when the environment is peaceful and tranquil. Most people who require the homeopathic remedy passiflora are addicted to different substances and they may use this herb to effectively diminish their yearning for alcohol, drugs, nicotine and other intoxicating substances.

Since time immemorial, the natives of Central and North America have been using passion flower or maypop since this plant possesses valuable sedative and anesthetizing properties.

As aforementioned, Edwin M. Hale, M.D. was the first person who extracted passiflora incarnata from the leaves of passion flower plant in the 19th century. Homeopathic doctors have been recommending the use of passiflora to people who have been enduring neurological problems as well as disorders related to sleep.

Plant Part Used For Homeopathic Remedy:

The homeopathic remedy passiflora is prepared from freshly obtained or dried out leaves of the Passiflora incarnata or the maypop plant. The fresh leaves of the plant are collected in spring and subsequently chopped into fine pieces and steeped in alcohol.

Herbal Medicine Use:

It may be noted that passion flower or Passiflora incarnata has its origin in herbal medicine and this plant has been extensively used as a potent tranquilizer as well as nervine (a medicine that soothes the nerves). In fact, even in homeopathy, Passiflora incarnata is used to provide relief from similar symptoms – it is especially used for disorders that impede the normal sleeping habits.

The homeopathic remedy Passiflora incarnata is basically well known for its capability to deter problems related to sleep as well as control the sleep cycles – it is particularly beneficial for patients who have been enduring insomnia. In addition, homeopaths recommend passiflora for treating enduring nervous anxiety, restiveness, physical tiredness as well as mental exhaustion that frequently go together with or add to insomnia.

Passiflora may perhaps help in curing whooping cough too, especially the condition that deteriorates during night time as well as insomnia accompanied by pain in the coccyx (a small triangular bone forming the lower fringe of the spinal column in humans), hemorrhoid (unusually enlarged vein largely due to a constant increase in venous pressure, occurring within the anal sphincter of the rectum and underneath the mucous membrane) or causing discomfort through or just prior to menstruation.

Passiflora-incarnata-seedsApart from the above-mentioned uses of passiflora, this homeopathic remedy also helps to neutralize the stimulating effect of alcohol, which makes it a very effective medicine for numbing the senses of inebriated people. Passiflora also has the ability to clear congested air passages, ease soaring throat as well as help in treating whooping cough or asthma, the conditions that deteriorate during the night. In addition, this homeopathic remedy is also effective in curing habitual night-time coughs.

As aforementioned, the homeopathic remedy passiflora helps to control the sleeping patterns, particularly in people who have difficulty in getting sound sleep and usually lie in the bed in a wakeful condition. In fact, such individuals may be tired forever and undergo hysterics. Other people who respond very well to passiflora are those who endure strange headaches in the region of the eyes, convulsions as well as light-headedness.

The passion flower or maypop plant also helps to soothe the central nervous system of the body and, thereby, promotes the healthy activity of the brain. This herb also helps to fight strain and stress that may result in hallucination, periodic seizures or convulsions and spastic conditions, such as trismus (contraction of the jaw muscles making it difficult to open the mouth) and chorea (a problem of the central nervous system distinguished by unmanageable irregular short jerky movements). In addition, the homeopathic remedy passiflora also influences the respiratory system positively, effectively alleviating ailments related to the bronchioles, such as asthma and whooping cough.

People, who have been living with persistent indigestion, also benefit much from the use of the extract of Passiflora. This homeopathic medicine also controls the digestive issues and may aid in preventing flatulence and diarrhea. People who usually require this homeopathic medicine generally feel worse soon after having a meal. In fact, just after they take any meal, such people endure acute stupor, common fatigue as well as heaviness all over their body.

However, before you decide to take Passiflora incarnata, it is advisable to talk to a professional homeopathic doctor as it would help you to get the optimum results. Generally, before prescribing any medicine, homeopathic physicians depend on the comprehensive medical history of the patient and also intimate information of a medicine’s physical as well as emotional indications with a view to deciding on the accurate solution. In fact, homeopathic physicians evaluate issues, such as chronic medical issues, the patient’s mental condition, elimination pattern, diet as well as location. Although selecting the wrong homeopathic medicine usually does not do much harm to the patient, it actually fails to alleviate the symptoms successfully. Moreover, until the time the precise medication is determined, the patients continue to suffer and his/ her condition may also deteriorate during the intervening period.

Source:

The passion flower or maypop plant, whose leaves form the basis of the homeopathic remedy passiflora, is found in coppices growing in disturbed areas along the roads and railroads as well as adjacent to pastures and river banks. This herb thrives best in places receiving plenty of sunlight. You will never find passion flower growing in a shady region or underneath a forest shelter.

It may be noted that plants belonging to the Passifloraceae family are found growing across the globe, barring Antarctica. Similarly, passiflora is not found in Africa, while several other members of the Passifloraceae family can be found growing on this continent.

Mouse-ear {Hieracium pilosella syn. Pilosella officinarum}

Also, Known As:

  • Felon Herb
  • Hawkweed
  • Mouse-ear
  • Pilosella

Mouse-ear (botanical name Hieracium pilosella) is a perennially plant that grows up to a height of anything between three and 15 inches. Mouse-ear is a creeping herb that usually grows like a carpet on crawling runners, every one of which takes the form of a basal rosette of oval-shaped leaves. Mouse-ear bears green leaves having white bristles on the upper side and white or gray-green color relatively softer bristles on the under side. The herb bears vivid yellow to orange-yellow flower heads that look like dandelions during the period between May and September. These flower heads appear solitarily on stalks without leaves. The entire plant, barring the flowering parts, is swathed with glandular bristles, which are generally white, but occasionally reddish when growing on the stems. The rose-shaped arrangement (rosette) of the leaves are complete, varying from sharp to blunt, and they vary in length between 1 cm and 12 cm, while they may be anything between 0.5 cm and 2 cm in width. Underneath, the rosette leaves are covered with bristles or hairs (tomentose).

mouse-ears

Precisely speaking, mouse-ear is a yellow flowering species belonging to Asteraceae and is indigenous to Europe and the northern regions of Asia. Mouse-ear is an allelopathic plant denoting that its growth is often suppressed by the toxins released by neighboring plants. Similar to the majority of the hawkweed species, this plant demonstrates incredible variants and is basically a composite of numerous dozens of sub-species as well as several hundred varieties and forms.

At first sight, the blooms of mouse-ear appear similar to dandelion, but when one looks at them more closely, they discover that the flower head of this herb comprises florets. The flower head of mouse-ear encloses a milky juice or sap like other hawkweed species, but the sap of this herb is much less bitter as well as astringent compared to the other species. This is a primary reason why mouse-ear has been employed in traditional medicine in various countries where it grows indigenously. Mouse-ear belongs to the Asteraceae or Compositae family (also known as the daisy family). Ideally, the herb should be collected between the period of May and June when the plants are in flower, dehydrated and stored for use when necessary.

mEhawkweed_2

While mouse-ear is actually an ordinary dwarf of a weed, which emerges in patches akin to carpets on arid meadows as well as wastelands all through the Northern Hemisphere, this herb in a member of the genus whose botanical name has violent implications. The genus name of the herb ‘Hieracium’ denotes ‘hawkweed’, and the plant has derived this name from the belief of ancient people that hawks actually tore open the plant and soaked their eyes with its sap with a view to enhancing their vision to enable them to swoop down on their victim with much more fatal preciseness. Among all the hawkweed species, the modest mouse-ear had the longest as well as an enduring repute as a medication for treating several common ailments. A tea prepared from the plant’s leaves was used to cure liver diseases, diarrhea and inflammation of the intestine. In addition, mouse-ear was also employed by herbalists to cure asthma as well as different other problems related to the respiratory system. Moreover, mouse-ear found its place in herbal medicine in the form of a remedial agent to reduce fever. A powder prepared from the dried out herb was employed to stop nosebleeds.

The alternative name of mouse-ear is felon herb, but it has practically nothing to do with criminals. The plant has derived this name from an old English meaning of the term ‘felon’, which means ‘boils and inflammation on any finger or toe’. In fact, the topical application of the tea brewed from the whole herb, which possesses astringent attributes, definitely helps to cure these types of conditions. Even in the contemporary times, mouse-ear tea is occasionally used in the form of a home remedy to cure fever, diarrhea as well as bronchial disorders.

Plant Part Used:

Aerial parts.

Herbal Health Use:

Mouse-ear is used to cure a number of health conditions. For instance, this herb soothes the muscles of the bronchial tubes, encourages the cough impulse and, at the same time, lowers mucus production. Such a mishmash of exploits of mouse-ear makes the herb useful in every respect while treating respiratory problems, such as wheezing, asthma, bronchitis, whooping cough as well as different persistent and congested coughs. This herb has diuretic and astringent actions, which aid in neutralizing mucus production, occasionally all through the respiratory system. In addition, mouse-ear is also employed to treat excessive menstrual bleeding as well as to provide relief in case a patient is coughing up blood. Moreover, this herb may also be employed externally in the form of a poultice to speed up the healing of wounds.

A herbal tea prepared from the whole mouse-ear plant is used internally as well as externally. This tea may be used in the form of a gargle as well as a skin wash or salve. Nevertheless, extremely insufficient research has been done with this herb and none of their findings corroborates these uses of mouse-ear.

Chemical analysis of mouse-ear hawkweed has revealed that this herb encloses umbelliferone, a chemical compound that is comparable to coumarin and a familiar antibiotic to treat brucellosis. Frequently, this compound also forms an active ingredient in several sunscreen lotions. In addition, mouse-ear is also a very strong diuretic.

Traditionally, mouse-ear has been employed internally as well as externally for treating hemorrhages and since it also comforts the muscles of the bronchial tubes, it is helpful in encouraging coughing as well as lessening catarrh production. Mouse-ear also augments the flow of bile as well as its release from the body and had been employed to encourage perspiration in fevers. The herb has also been used in the form of a tonic and diuretic. Earlier, herbalists also used mouse-ear to patients enduring enteritis and flu, while the infusion prepared from the herb was administered to treat cystitis.

It may be noted here that John Parkinson (1567-1650), who served as the pharmacist (apothecary) to King James I of England as well as King James VI of Scotland had stated that provided the horses were given this herb prior to going to the blacksmith for being shod, they were unlikely to kick out at the blacksmith.

The Habitat of the Mouse-ear:

weed_mousearhawk3_edatncMouse-ear is widespread all over most parts of Europe as well as parts of northern Asia having temperate climatic conditions. Over the years, this plant has been naturalized in North America and is found growing by itself in arid meadows as well as on sandy soil. This herb is collected during the summer when the plant is in bloom.

Mouse-ear has a preference for arid and sunlit areas. This plant flourishes when grown on sandy soil as well as soil types that are comparatively less fertile. Mouse-ear produces stolons that give rise to new rosette at the extremity of the plant. In addition, every rosette of the plant has the potential of growing into a new genetic copy thereby forming thick mats in the open grounds. In addition, mouse-ear is also spread by its seeds.

Constituents:

Mouse-ear contains a coumarin (umbelliferone), fIavonoids, and caffeic acid. Mouse-ear is thought to be mildly antifungal.

Recommended Infusion and Tincture:

Medicinally, mouse-ear is used in the form of an infusion as well as a tincture.

Infusion: To prepare the infusion from mouse-ear add one to two teaspoonfuls of the dehydrated herb in a cup (250 ml) of boiling water and allow it to permeate for about 10 to 15 minutes. For optimum results, this infusion ought to be drunk three times daily.

Tincture: The tincture prepared from mouse-ear ought to be taken in dosage of 1 ml to 4 ml three times every day.

Mouse-ear is generally gathered between the period of May and June when the plants are in flowering season.

Combinations for Better Results:

For better results, mouse-ear is often used in conjugation with other herbs. For instance, to treat whooping cough, you may blend mouse-ear with coltsfoot, sundew, mullein or white horehound.

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