HERBS of URANUS

Stimulating / Intuitive / Innovative

The Trans-Saturnial Planets: Herbs of Uranus    

The study of the planets beyond Saturn (Trans-Saturnian planets) and its association to herbal remedies came later within the classic texts of medical astrology. The ancients had intricate analysis on all the planets between Sun and Saturn —  from planetary alignments to biodynamics to herbal correspondences, to archetypal manifestations. And for thousands of years, many believed that our solar system ended with the rings of Saturn’s boundary. Uranus broke the known and became the first planet discovered with the use of a telescope. Unlike the other planets of the solar system, Uranus is tilted so far that it essentially orbits the sun on its side, with the axis of its spin nearly pointing at the star.
S Y M B O L S   OF   U R A N U S 

Uranus is the celestial body that embodies BIG change, innovation, breakthrough, and transformation. The planetary body that rules ideas, insight, speed, intuitive “downloads”, transformation, the visionary worlds, the future, the wisdom of change, and more.

E N E R G Y   

In astrology, Uranus helps us understand where to let go, and how to take chances to shift powerful change within our lifetime. Often interpreted in the natal chart as an essential place to where we gather inspiration. The archetypal energy brought into our lives during a Uranus transit is VITAL change, an important transformation that needs to happen regardless of our mind, desire, etc. If we are in flow to this archetypal presence, that means excellent fuel that shifts you even further into your powerful and authentic self, providing you with a creative, spontaneous and free-spirit type of life. Unhealthy Uranus energy can manifest as erratic circumstances, having the carpet be pulled from underneath our feet, sudden and surprising changes that are not so easily palatable, yet mandatory in order to continue the fulfillment of our truth.

M E D I C A L   A S T R O L O G Y

As the ruling planet of eccentric Aquarius, Uranus is “associated with the circulatory system, and with the gasses contained within the blood, and within the body’s cells. Uranus has also corresponded with the nervous system and the natural energy triggered by the impulses between nerves which communicate sensations.” (Beyerl, P.)

Classic medical conditions associated to Uranus, as well as ones that flare up during intensive Uranus transits, are narcolepsy, nervous system disorders, varicose veins. Types of chemical imbalances can be seizures and dysfunctional behaviors. On an emotional level, it can trigger a feeling of “boredom” needing excessive stimuli, other influences can be total detachment from emotions, constantly inhibiting feelings with the mind, and preventing self-reflection with an overly active intellect.

URANIAN HERBS

The herbs of Uranus tend to be yang in effect, yet considered androgynous. They’re highly activating (like Mercurial herbs), promoting alertness, stimulation. On a magical note, they stimulate imagination, attuning us to surrender to the spontaneity and insightfulness of the present moment.

S O M E   F A V O R I T E S

Activating Spices + Culinary: 
Allspice, Cloves, Cinnamon, Green Coffee, Nutmeg, Pomegranate, Star Anise.

Ceremonial: 
Cacao, Cedar, Coca, Kola Nut, Mandrake, Tonka Bean.

Nervines: 
Valerian, Lady’s Slipper.

Tonics:
Brahmi, Guarana (also Mars), Rhodiola.

Other:
Wild Carrot, True Unicorn Root, Spikenard.

 

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Aster is the Flower Chosen as the Floral Emblem for September.

COMMON NAME: aster
GENUS: Aster
SPECIES, HYBRIDS, CULTIVARS:
Most hybrids were developed from A. Novae-belgii and A. Novae-angliae.
‘Eventide’- purple; 4 to 5 feet tall; from A. Novae-belgii, ‘Harrington’s Pink’- light pink; 5 feet tall; from A. Novae-angliae. Dwarf forms also available.
FAMILY: Compositae
BLOOMS: Fall
TYPE: annuals and perennials
DESCRIPTION: Small daisy-like flowers come in shades of pink, purple, and red. Yellow centers contrast beautifully with the colored ray flowers. Taller varieties grow to be 36 to 56 inches tall. Dwarf varieties grow as short as 8 inches.
CULTIVATION: Plants should be divided in very early spring and replanted immediately. Native species come very easily from seed but might not stay true to the color of the parent plant. Asters are adaptable to varying environmental conditions but perform best with full sun and ample moisture.
Asters are ancient wildflowers that were considered sacred to Greek and Roman deities. Two myths told of the origin of the aster. The first said that Virgo scattered stardust on the earth, and fields bloomed with asters. The second said that the Goddess Asterea looked down upon the earth and saw no stars. The sight saddened her so that she began to cry, and where her tears fell, there the asters bloomed.
Known as starwort in England and Germany and as an eye of Christ in France, asters have always been thought to carry magical powers. In ancient Greece, aster leaves were burned to keep away evil spirits and drive off serpents. An ointment made from asters was supposed to cure the bite of a mad dog.
Virgil wrote that asters boiled in wine and placed near a beehive would improve the flavor of the honey.
In 1637 John Tradescant, Jr., took native asters from America and introduced them to Europe. Europeans liked this wild member of the daisy family and it soon became a favorite garden flower. Two of the most popular asters the New England aster {A. Novae-angliae} and New York aster {A. Novae-belgii}. The species name for New York aster is “New Belgium” because New York was originally called New Amsterdam; the Dutch were the first to settle that area, and Holland was at one time included in a Roman province called Belgica.
Purple asters were often used to dye wool a greenish gold color.
Aster is the flower chosen as the floral emblem for September.
The Chinese asters are not true asters but are in the genus Callistephus. Jesuit missionaries found these plants growing wild near Peking. They sent plants back to Europe and since they resembled asters from America, they were nicknamed Chinese asters. Seeds from these plants were sent to Paris in 1728, and the first plants were grown in Versailles. They were soon hybridized to produce double and even quadruple florets. So enthusiastic were the Germans about hybridizing this plant they were sometimes known as German asters. By 1750, it was said that Chinese asters grew from Scotland to the Rhine. They were introduced to America in 1806.
Chinese aster comes in so many subtle shades that it is a symbol of variety. It was planted in Chinese gardens in pots with one shade blending into another and was said to look like a rainbow. The genus name is from two Latin words, kallistos, meaning “most beautiful,” and stephos, meaning “crown.”

2018 Blood Moon Cycle Energy Reading — Spirit de la Lune

Change is in the air and we are approaching the equinoxes seasons, Autumn or Spring. We are transitioning from the Fire season of Summer to the watery energy of Autumn, and the earthy energy of winter, to the airy season of spring. Fire to Water, Earth to Air… The elements activate different energies within us!

Happy New Moon in Virgo!

We are being asked to tune into our bodies and really listen to what they need right now. You may have been overworking yourself, find you are on the brink of burnout or feeling a lot of overwhelming this New Moon. Virgo energy can make us feel extra critical of ourselves or others and can bring out our perfectionistic tendencies… But we do not have to engage with them. Give yourself permission to rest your mind, body, and spirit… however, this will look and feel to you. This will help you ease into the next season with more grace and fluidity.

Source: 2018 Blood Moon Cycle Energy Reading — Spirit de la Lune

The Energies of September

If you have been struggling somewhat to keep up with the demands for change brought forward by the energetic flow over the last few months, take heart because September looks set to be an easier more expansive month.

There is a lightness, flow and forward movement to the energies this month which should facilitate the consolidation of the inner work that we have all done over the summer months.

Of the six retrograde planets claiming our focus and attention during August only three will remain in retrograde motion over the coming month. Mars went direct at the end of August and Saturn turns direct on September 6/7th, while Mercury moves into Virgo, a position in which it is particularly at home. If you have been seeking greater clarity or hesitating to take action on something important, you should find things will now start to unfold with greater ease and certainty.

In general, September is a good month in which to take stock of where you find yourself so that you can reflect, organize, and create a forward plan for the last quarter of the year. The new moon on September 9th will be a particularly fertile, magical time to focus on this since inspiration and new ideas should be particularly available around this time.

The expansive, positive energies of September will help us manifest anything that we put our focus on. It is therefore particularly important to focus on what you do want in your life this month and to release any attention points you might be holding on things that are finished and unimportant for the future.

Virgo Symbol

The Influence of Virgo

All the other planetary activities this month are set against the backdrop of inflowing energies from the constellation of Virgo.

Aligning with the highest potential of the feminine, earthy, nurturing qualities of Virgo energy will take us deep into the realm of the feminine goddess, the Mother principle and the gestation of new life.

In the magnified flow of Virgo energies, we are reminded of the inherent unity between spirit and matter and the need to nurture and grow the light of our own divinity within the physical form that we are currently inhabiting.

At a practical level, Virgo energies stimulate the desire to be of service so we can expect its influence this month to bring to the fore any aspects of our lives that need adjustment so that we can align more fully with our true purpose. This could simply take the form of a reminder to nourish our own inner light so that it becomes more visible in the world and serves as a reminder to others of the power of the light within themselves.

Freedom & Responsibility

In general, September is a good month in which to take stock of where you find yourself so that you can reflect, organize, and create a forward plan for the last quarter of the year

For some time now there has been a persistent theme making itself felt within the energy flow that seems to be especially relevant right now.

This theme centers on our ability to take full responsibility for ourselves at all levels as we move from a 3rd/4th-dimensional patterning towards the freedom of a more 5th-dimensional expression of ourselves.

This month would be an excellent time to ponder how this theme might be playing out for you, as well as identifying any areas of your life where you are still playing out old patterns based in blame, lack, judgment, disempowerment etc. At a practical level, this might involve issues such as health, relationships, and finances, all of which could be emphasized in this month’s flow of Virgoan energies.

At a less obvious level, it could take the form of an examination of your unconscious thought patterns. For instance, is there anywhere you are holding other people responsible for things that have happened to you in the past, perhaps subtly giving yourself permission to hold on to old hurts or to blame someone or something else for the way life has shaped itself around you.

Perhaps you are unconsciously holding on to belief patterns that belong to a person influential in your early upbringing that has nothing to do with you now and certainly does not add value to your current life. For instance, a parent who believed that ‘life was unsafe’ or that the opposite sex was ‘not to be trusted’ and behaved accordingly.

Whatever might come into your awareness from such an examination this month, choosing to take ownership and pick up the responsibility for changing it will be an important pathway to greater freedom in your life.  Just to encourage us along the way, currently, there is a steely edge to the energies that will make it difficult to hang about in habitual ruts belonging to the old patterning without experiencing a sense of discomfort.

Remember that things can and will dissolve very quickly these days, but we need to be in that 5th-dimensional place of self-appreciation and neutrality to make this our personal experience.

Dark Moon, Virgo

DARK MOON & NEW CAZIMI MOON IN VIRGO

We are moving into our New Moon in Virgo this Sunday, September 9th at 11:01 am PST (2:01 pm EST). This is a time to look at what works and what does not work and how to make improvements. Take on Virgo’s ability to organize and shed a few things or gift others. There is nothing better than to feel the benefits of having things in their place and removing the clutter. Or maybe you just want to share yourself with a friend or family member ~ Virgo is about serving and caring for others.

Today, September 8th, we are under the Balsamic Moon which is always an energetic time for releasing before bringing in the new. Those of you who follow me know how much I love the Dark Moon ~ I love the raw, deep energy it shares and how much I learn in this small yet powerful window of time. The Moon is currently in Leo but moves into Virgo this morning at 7:29 am PST (10:29 EST).

As we move into this Dark Moon in Virgo today, September 8th, I want you to ask yourself this question~

What must I do to get to the truth?

This is the time to gnaw and chew your way through your obstacles to the truth ~ crack things open to penetrate to the essence. This will help you to reach the result you are holding back from.

Then under the New Moon in Virgo on Sunday, September 9th, I want you to ask yourself this question ~

What would I do if you knew I was blessed?

Because you are! Let yourself imagine where you want to be, and then take the first steps that will commit you to go there. This is how to keep the momentum going. This is a time to receive.

Virgo can sometimes shed a bit of low energy but with all the beautiful planetary action we have lots of great energy to work with. On Sunday we are also gifted with

a Grand Earth Trine between Uranus, Mercury, and Saturn. This trine encourages us to listen. So take the time to listen on Sunday and to gather solid support and information that this trine offers. If you do ~ you may find that your wishes and gifts shown will take flight like a kite!

We also have a Cazimi or dropping Moon energy that is available for the New Virgo Crescent Moon on Sunday ½ hour before and after the New Moon (10:31 – 11:31 am PST). It is a perfect time to start something new or complete an important task that is waiting for ~ use this Virgo Cazimi energy to get it done or make it happen!

For your altar, I suggest earth colors of the Earth, browns, oranges or reds. Gemstones to add are jasper, carnelian, agate or emerald! Add essential oils to your meditation of ylang-ylang, orange or cardamom.

A few short rituals: 

  • Take a bath under the Dark Moon Energy with your question and see where your heart takes you.
  • On Sunday morning prepare a cacao ceremonial drink and sip on it before and during the Cazimi New Crescent Moon Energy. It will heighten your wishes and open you to the gifts that are yours from the Grand Earth Trine. Call in your angels or guides for help in the area that you need them ~ I am sure they will answer!
  • Write in your journal all your wishes and dreams that you want to manifest over the next two weeks. Keep them close to your bedside so that you can feel them and share them with your heart before sleeping and upon waking.
  • Place your body or feet on the earth to connect and ground yourself.

And to each of you ~ please, remember that you are blessed.

The Mysteries of Sapphire, One of the Birthstones of September.

HE PASSED THE FLAMING BOUNDS OF SPACE AND TIME:
THE LIVING THRONE, THE SAPPHIRE-BLAZE,
WHERE ANGELS TREMBLE WHILE THEY GAZE,
HE SAW; BUT BLASTED WITH EXCESS OF LIGHT,
CLOSED HIS EYES IN ENDLESS NIGHT.

– THOMAS GRAY (English POET, 1716-1771)

Blue sapphires have long been associated with the sky and heaven. The word itself is derived from the Greek word “sapphirus”, which means blue. This is the stone you want to carry and use to enhance your spiritual wisdom.

I enjoy reading books on all kinds of spirituality—everything from the Bhagavad Gita to A Course in Miracles. While books on spirituality may differ wildly on their views, one thing they have in common is their density of information. I mean, have you ever picked up A Course in Miracles? That thing is heavy and its pages are basically written on onion paper! The blue sapphire is used to help assimilate and retain information created from a higher plane of consciousness. And let’s face it, modern brains need this help, as today ’s information is usually conveyed in the form of a 140 character tweet. Most people don’t bother to read an entire paragraph anymore – in fact, I’ve probably lost half of you already.

“THE BLUE SAPPHIRE IS USED TO HELP ASSIMILATE AND RETAIN INFORMATION CREATED FROM A HIGHER PLANE OF CONSCIOUSNESS.”

…they come in different colors and help with different metaphysical enhancements:

Orange – encourages optimism

Yellow – boosts intellect and memory

Green – brings luck

White/Colorless – enables self-compassion

Black – grants inner strength

Brown – provides grounding

Pink – for love and loyalty

Violet – awakens intuition and psychic abilities

There is also the star sapphire (it also comes in many colors), which is a type of sapphire that exhibits star-like lines caused by thin inclusions of rutile. When moving a star sapphire around in the light, a six-rayed star will appear on the surface of the stone.  Its image of a “burst of light” symbolizes energy being unleashed in all directions. Perhaps this is why it is said to be such a powerful protection stone. This is the kind of sapphire Charles should have given poor Diana, not the blue one surrounded by diamonds – officially called “The Ceylon Blue Sapphire”– which now adorns Kate Middleton’s finger. If I were Prince William, I’d look into a star sapphire necklace for Kate. The worlds largest was discovered last year in Sri Lanka and is said to be worth between 100 and 175 million dollars. It may be a bit big for a necklace—but chunky jewelry is making a come back and if anyone can rock that rock it’s Kate!

Sapphire is an all-around good stone to enhance one’s wisdom, so whatever the color, a sapphire will help on your journey to becoming the kind of woman the world needs more of—a wise one.

 

 

Living Well During the Holidays

Make your own healthy cocktails for days like today!
When you’re mixing drinks at a party or at home, and want something easy, natural and elevating. All you have to do is mix some plant medicines, a fizzy base like sparkling water or kombucha and maybe some good quality spirits (or not even!) If you are a spirit-type of person, add healthy add-ons to your cocktails to not only boost up the vibes, but perhaps to metabolize the damage with some healthy agents. Like liver support, to the not-so Liver friendly spirit, balances out the equation a little more.

anima mundi cocktail2

Here’s a super easy and sexy cocktail that you can make just about anywhere.

Directions:
  1. In a cocktail shaker, muddle blackberries with Euphoria elixir, lemon juice, maple syrup or agave, until broken up and they release their juice.
  2. Double strain, using a fine mesh strainer, to remove seeds.
  3. Fill 3-4 rocks glasses with ice. Divide blackberry -gin mix among the glasses, and top with sparkling water or kombucha.
  4. Garnish with a blackberry and seasonal flowers.

Apple Cider Vinegar Formulas

The Quintessential Symbol of Fall, The apple lends itself to a tasty vinegar that’s become a staple base for herb tonics. By improving digestion to combating allergies, these “ACV” formulas give the body a {delicious} boost.

An Apple Falls from the Tree

The first recorded mention of vinegar date back to 5,000 BCE in Babylon and 3,000 BCE in China. People used vinegar both as a food and as a preservative for perishables, much like we do today, but they also believed it was capable of some pretty unbelievable things. Legend has it that Hannibal the Conqueror dissolved limestone boulders using a combination of fire and vinegar on his march over the Alps to attack Rome. In 400 BCE, Hippocrates suggested vinegar as an antiseptic to treat wounds and prescribed formulas made with vinegar and honey, our modern day oxymels. These oxymels have remained in use throughout history with records found in old British, German, and French pharmacopeias. In later years, Posca, a mixture of water, herbs, and vinegar or sometimes wine, became a popular drink in Rome. And by the 11th century, Sung Tse {1188-1251 ACE}, the “father” of forensic medicine, instructed his students to wash their hands in a combination of vinegar and sulfur to prevent infection.

While many early herbal formulas used vinegar as a preserving solvent {menstruum}, over time, alcohol proved more stable. It lacked the “mother” of vinegar – the colony of beneficial bacteria in unfiltered vinegar that instigates the secondary fermentation process {to produce vinegar} – that could alter a formula’s chemistry if stored for too long.

apples

Assistance from Apples

Apple cider vinegar is composed of 5-6 percent acetic acid, which serves to preserve ingredients and extract their compounds. While we don’t expect vinegar to dissolve boulders, it does have legendary powers in the realm of health.

For the heart: To start, high levels of polyphenols in ACV protect the heart from atherosclerosis and heart disease. In a study published in Life Science Journal, regular doses of apple cider vinegar lowered LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol.

For blood sugar: Before the advent of modern medicine, people living with diabetes used vinegar to help maintain blood sugar levels. Now, current research is beginning to understand why. In a study from the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Japanese scientists found that adding pickled foods to rice reduced its glycemic index {GI} by 20-35 percent. This and other studies show that meals containing vinegars may have a significantly lower glycemic response from diabetic patients. In those without diabetes, vinegars can still reduce blood sugar, potentially giving a longer sense of satiety, resulting in the consumption of fewer calories and weight loss.

For digestion: Because it’s a fermented beverage, ACV contains probiotics, which help promote healthy flora in the gut. In order to enjoy this benefit, you will need to opt for raw, unpasteurized ACV, which contains the mother. It’s this mass of enzymes that provides the probiotics.

For bacteria and fungus: Studies have found vinegar capable of combating some levels of bacteria and fungus, but if you need its antibacterial cleansing powers, you will want to use it at full strength, undiluted. Studies of watered-down vinegar have found it ineffective.

For cancer: While evidence is still limited, studies have found vinegars effective against human cancer cells in lab dishes and against cancers in rats.

An Apple Improved

Aside from its own benefits for health, apple cider vinegar serves as a wonderful base to deliver medicinal herbs and foods. Its particular flavor profile supports endless combinations of ingredients, providing for formulas that can do anything from boost the immune system to combat allergies.

There are two general ways to make an ACV herbal formula: a vinegar extract known as an “aceta,” or an oxymel, which is basically an aceta with the addition of honey. Some people like to add the honey up front so it infuses with the herbs, while others add it later as just a sweetener. Fire cider recipes usually call for adding it at the end. Both acetas and oxymels can be made to taste using a traditional method of simply covering herbs with vinegar, allowing them to infuse, and straining. For more precise measurements, James Green’s Medicine Maker’s Handbook recommends making an aceta with 1 part dried herbs to 7 parts vinegar {e.g., 1 ounce of herbs to 7 ounces vinegar}. For an oxymel, he recommends a ratio of 1 pound {16 ounces} of honey to 1/2 pint {8 ounces} of vinegar. However, many other ratio recommendations exist, depending on recipes and herbalists. It really comes down to your taste buds and personal preferences. Unless you plan to sell your formula, there’s no need to be exact.

Here are basic directions for acetas and oxymels. Some recipes will offer slight variations, particularly on the length of infusion time. In general, I follow the longer infusion time if one is provided.

Basic ACV Formula Directions:

  1. Chop and/or grind herbs as small as possible.
  2. Cover with ACV {and honey if desried}; allow to macerate for 10-14 days {unless otherwise, noted}, shaking the formula regularly.
  3. Strain and bottle your formula. {Use a plastic lid to prevent corrosion.} If you are making an aceta, you’re done! If you want to make an oxymel, move to step four.
  4. If you haven’t already added honey while the herbs were infusing, add it now.

Recommended dosage:

For an aceta, take 1 tablespoon per day as a tonic {more if you are ill} or add to salad dressings or drizzle over grains or meats. For an oxymel, take 1 tablespoon per day, or 3 if you are under the weather. Try it over pancakes or in a smoothie.

fire cider ingredients

Fire Cider

Perhaps the most common herbal recipe featuring ACV is the classic fire cider – packed with healthy ingredients and the go-to ACV formula for combating colds and flu and generally boosting the immune system. It can also help with heart disease and diabetes.

Garlic combats the bacteria that causes salmonella, E.coli, Staphylococcus {staph}, and Streptococcus {strep}. It’s a flu-fighting antiviral herb, and research has found garlic a more effective treatment for typhus than penicillin. If you do get sick, garlic’s antispasmodic action can help ease cramps and spasms from coughing. On top of all of this, garlic lowers blood pressure and prevents blood clots, and shows great promise in managing diabetes as a cancer preventative.

Onion contains the same properties as garlic but in milder amounts, and adds depth of flavor. Horseradish stimulates both the circulatory and digestive systems and helps lower cholesterol. As an expectorant, it loosens mucus, and those suffering from sinusitis know how it’s strong aroma can relieve the pressure. As an antiviral, it wards off the flu.

A digestive aid clinically proved to alleviate gastrointestinal discomfort, diarrhea, and bloating, ginger also lowers blood cholesterol and sugar and blood pressure levels. Like other fire cider ingredients, it provides an anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antifungal, antiviral, and antioxidant boost, helping to support the immune system.

The amounts listed below are from fire cider’s creator, herbalists Rosemary Gladstar, but you can alter it as needed or desired.

  • 1/2 cup onion
  • 1/4 cup garlic
  • 1/2 cup horseradish*
  • Cayenne pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup ginger
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Honey to taste

Follow the basic directions {above}. Let the vinegar infuse for 3-4 weeks. Strain out the solids {you can add these pickled ingredients to salads, grains, or roasted meats}. Add honey to ACV to taste. *If you use a food processor, let sit for 30 minutes before opening as the horseradish vapors can burn!

Recommended dosage:

A tablespoon or shot glass 1-2 times a day for prevention, and more if you are ill. Fire cider will keep for several months in a cool cabinet and longer in the fridge.

Some folks like to add Echinacea {use only with acute illness or temporarily when exposed to acute illness} or astragalus root {good for a long-term immune boost}; others like cinnamon with a bit of fresh squeezed orange or lemon. The variations never end and, as you learn more about herbs, you can make this formula your own! I nearly always add turmeric root and black pepper for anti-inflammatory goodness. You really can’t go wrong in any combination here.

4 thieves oxymel 2

Hyssop Oxymel

Hyssop {Hyssopus officinalis} is an excellent respiratory support. Medieval herbalist Hildegard of Bingen suggested it “cleanses the lungs,” and Nicholas Culpeper said od hyssop, “It expelleth tough phlegm and its effectual for all griefs of the chest and lungs.” Modern-day herbalist and author Robin Rose Bennett says hyssop is her “go-to” herb in cases of bronchitis for both children and adults, due to the herb’s ability to loosen even the most entrenched phlegm, cleansing the lungs of mucus. In addition to containing the oils typical to plants in the mint family, giving this herb a fresh, minty flavor, hyssop also contains the phytochemical marrubiin, a diterpene that scientists believe can help with respiratory issues and even hypertension. Hyssop also contains phytochemicals that make it an excellent nervine, an herb that calms the nervous system and reduces stress – an excellent added benefit when you need some sleep with a cold.

Directions:

  1. Fill a canning jar about 1/4 – 1/2 full with dried hyssop {optional: add yarrow, boneset, lemon balm, or eyebright to your hyssop oxymel}.
  2. Next, fill your jar about 1/3 – 1/2 way full with a good, high-quality raw honey, and the remainder of the way with apple cider vinegar.
  3. Allow to infuse 2-4 weeks before straining out the herb.

Recommended dosage:

1-2 teaspoons every hour or so for acute coughs, bronchial issues, or congestion. Reduce dosages by weight for children.

Safety Considerations:

Be aware that while many plants go by the name hyssop, there are only one Hyssopus officinalis; check the Latin before purchasing. Only ingest Hyssopus officinalis, not other types of hyssop. Do not use this herb if you are pregnant or nursing. Do not give to children under two. Avoid taking extremely large doses of hyssop and taking it long-term.

Digestive Bitters

This recipe features equal parts dandelion {Teraxacum officinale} leaf and/or root, burdock {Arctium lappa} root, ginger {Zingiber officinale}, and chamomile {Matricaria chamomilla} blossoms. Because of their bitter properties, dandelion greens stimulate digestion. The roots act as a prebiotic to build healthy gut flora, treat indigestion, and speed the digestive process. Similar to dandelion root, burdock root also has prebiotic constituents that feed good gut bacteria, and it also acts as a digestive stimulant. Ginger is a classic digestive aid, a carminative, and anti-spasmodic, and helps to alleviate diarrhea.

Directions:

Follow the basic aceta recipe {above}.

Recommended dosage:

Take a teaspoon or more 15-30 minutes prior to meals and/or as needed. You will want to swallow down the bitterness rather than adding honey to this one. The physiological pathway by which bitters stimulate digestion begins with the taste buds. If it doesn’t taste bitter, its effectiveness is weakened.

Sting-Stop Spray

Plantain {Plantago major or Plantago lanceolata} is the herbal queen of astringency, capable of drawing out and drying up just about anything. As a result, it’s sometimes known as “the drawing herb,” and its perfect for any sort of skin irritation. Combined with apple cider vinegar, it contains extra antiseptic and soothing properties. This formula is also good for keratosis pilaris and other skin conditions, such as chickenpox, shingles, and acne. These conditions also benefit from ACV on its own.

Directions:

Infuse dried plantain leaves in apple cider vinegar and strain after 4 weeks. You can also add yarrow to the infusion. Spray on those pesky bug bites for itch-relief. {Keep away from eyes; if rash worsens, discontinue use.}

Spring Green Tonic

In this recipe, use any combination of dandelion greens, nettles, chickweed, ramps, garlic mustard {or other mustards}, or other edible spring greens local to you. All of these greens are high in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and blood and liver cleansers. Optional ingredients include yellow dock root {Rumex crispus} or burdock root {Arctium lappa} for extra iron and minerals.

Directions:

Allow freshly picked young herbs to wilt overnight, then chop finely, place all herbs in a jar, and cover with ACV. Keep this formula refrigerated. Because it’s made with fresh greens rather than dried, it might not last quite as long. Allow to infuse for 2 weeks, shaking daily. To use: Strain and use vinegar in salad dressing or as a daily tonic. Too bitter? Add some honey and turn it into an oxymel.

Elderberry Oxymel

This is a variation on the classic elderberry syrup. Most folks are familiar with elderberry’s immune boosting properties, but it also helps prevent anemia, promotes healthy circulation and kidney function, and aids digestion. If you do get sick, this wonderful decongestant can work with your body’s chemistry and either bring down a fever or warm you if you are chilled.

Directions:

Rather than infusing elderberries in water, pour dried elderberries into a jar, cover with vinegar and honey, and allow to infuse for 4 weeks. Add a bit of cinnamon and orange peel if you like.

Spring Allergy Oxymel

In the fall we harvest elderberries for use against colds and flu; in spring the same tree provides blossoms that have antihistamine properties. Mullein {Verbascum thapsus} serves as a natural bronchodilator, while eyebright {Euphrasia officinalis} provides relief for red and itchy eyes. Nutrient-dense nettles {urtica dioica} is a powerful antihistamine. Combine your herbs and vinegar with raw local honey, which will gently expose you to local pollens, potentially helping your body to recognize these allergens, preventing the histamine response.

The “Free Fire Cider” Movement

Like “ketchup,” “barbecue sauce,” or “salsa,” fire cider is a generic and cultural term, not a branded item. But it is the copyrighted intellectual property of herbalist Rosemary Gladstar, who have freely shared and allowed others to create variations on the recipe for 30-plus years. Nobody would think of trademarking the words ketchup or salsa, yet one small company, Shire City Herbals in Pittsfield, MA, has managed to trademark “fire cider” and has been actively pursuing legal action against smaller companies that use the name. The corporate world, of course, didn’t recognize that fire cider was a generic cultural term, and while a trademark by law allows for a period of Public Opposition, no herbalists were notified of the pending trademark. Only after the trademark had been filed did Shire City begin contacting other herbalists with orders to stop selling fire cider. This has resulted in immense push-back from the herbal community and the birth of the “Free Fire Cider” movement. Rosemary Gladstar is at the lead in advocating for its freedom. You can read more at FreeFireCider.com and learn how you can help reclaim this cultural tradition.

Dandelion Blossom Gnocchi: Golden Dumplings in Garlic Cream Sauce – Gather Victoria

Dandelion blossoms have a long culinary history, most often made into wine, cordials, jellies, vinegars, fritters, added to salads and the buds are popular pickled. I love to use them whenever I can in cooking, throwing them into muffins, scones, breakfast egg cups, cookies – you name it.

Dandelion Blossom Gnocchi just takes your standard potato gnocchi recipe but incorporates about a cup full of freshly picked petals right into the dough. This gives not just glorious colour but oodles of nutritional and medicinal benefits as well. High in vitamins A, C and B12, the flowers are full of polyphenols, flavonoids, luteolin (good for the eyes) and have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

With the summer heat receding, I’m so happy the sunny bright heads of dandelion flowers are on their way back! This means I’ll be making more Dandelion Gnocchi, a delightful dinner for the coming c…

Source: Dandelion Blossom Gnocchi: Golden Dumplings in Garlic Cream Sauce – Gather Victoria

Herbal Medicine; Homegrown

Although many homesteaders embrace herbal medicine, not everyone realizes how well these traditional medicines work, or that you can grow them on your own land.

One obstacle is that many people still equate herbal medicine with superstition, thinking it’s all folklore, of no proven value. But if that were true, it would be a surprise to the big pharmaceutical companies that are scrambling to isolate and test the active components of many traditional medicinal plants and herbs. A number of powerful pharmaceuticals, for example, have been derived from wild yam. Willow and meadowsweet contain salicylic acid, with analgesic effects like aspirin — but with fewer side effects. Controlled experiments with valerian have supported its traditional use as a sedative to relieve spasms and induce sleep.

The other obstacle to the home use of medicinal herbs is just the reverse — the assumption that herbal lore is so arcane that we inexpert homesteaders cannot hope to master it without years of study. If this is the case, I suggest you take a look at some common medicinal herbs, such as the list below. These herbs are from a very helpful book, The Herbal Medicine-Maker’s Handbook by James Green. He presents these “top 30” medicinal herbs, citing a list from the California School of Herbal Studies. Glance over these herbs, and you may find yourself saying one of the following:

“Hey, this looks easy!” Many of these plants are well known, and may already be growing in your landscape or garden. Blackberry, calendula, chamomile, comfrey, and willow — who knew that these ubiquitous and unobtrusive members of our communities would be in a “top 30” list of medicinal herbs?

“Some of these are weeds, for heaven’s sake!” We’ve been conditioned to think of dandelion, plantain, stinging nettle and yellow dock as “the enemy” in our gardens and yards. Perhaps it’s time for us to revise our conception of “weeds.” The insistence of a plant on being a part of our local ecology suggests that we explore its role and contribution, rather than devise strategies to eradicate it. Any plant that offers to boost our health should be welcomed and honored, not denigrated as a “weed.”

“Hey, I grow that for food!” It’s too bad that in our time “medicine” has come to be understood as a powerful, out of the ordinary — and probably vile tasting — substance taken in a heroic intervention to cure illness. An alternative view has been available at least as far back as 400 B.C., when Hippocrates said, “Let your food be your medicine, and your medicine be your food.”

The Many Benefits of Herbs

Regular readers know that I emphasize integrating components already on the homestead so that one project serves several needs. Growing medicinal herbs fits right in with that strategy.

Medicinal herbs as foods. As already stated, many of the plants we’ve come to rely on for food also offer medicinal actions. In some cases, the medicinal part is different from the food part — for example, it is often the root bark of blackberry which is used medicinally. But in many cases, it is the edible part of the plant itself which is a kind of “superfood,” toning and balancing the body while adding “punctuation” to our meals, such as cayenne (a general, circulatory and digestive system tonic), fennel, ginger, and peppermint. We should incorporate such herbs more frequently into our diets, and explore their use in a more directed way when there is a special need. We might make an infusion of fennel, for example, to treat colic, or to stimulate digestion or appetite.

Herbs can be used to make other foods with medicinal effects. In previous eras, a wide range of medicinal herbs — yarrow, ginger, wintergreen, licorice, St. John’s wort, elderflowers, and berries — was used to flavor and preserve beers and ales. Mead, a fermented beverage made from honey, has medicinal effects in its own right, but can also be made with herbs such as heather that boost its medicinal properties. Kinds of vinegar and vegetable oils can be infused with herbs such as rosemary, garlic, and cayenne, and used on salads and other dishes to promote health.

Boosting insect diversity. Wise homesteaders know that the solution to damaging insects is not a program for killing insects, but encouraging, even more, insect diversity, especially by cultivating plants that flower throughout the growing season. Many common medicinal herbs — such as calendula, chamomile, echinacea, fennel, peppermint, and yarrow — are flowering plants, and offer the valuable “fringe benefit” of providing food and shelter for beneficial as well. Plantings of flowering herbs are more effective at encouraging our insect buddies if incorporated among the crops to be protected, rather than planted in their own little fiefdoms.

Herbs as fertility plants. Smart homesteaders also know it is possible to grow more of our own soil fertility. Isn’t it fortunate that some of the best fertility plants have medicinal properties as well? Comfrey (used for healing wounds and broken bones) and nettle are high in protein (nitrogen) and can be used as nutritive mulches or to “spark” a compost heap. Dandelion and yellow dock are deep-rooted dynamic accumulators which “mine” minerals from the subsoil and make them available to more shallow-rooted crops.

Herbs as fodder crops. Many medicinal plants and herbs do double duty to provide fresh green (or dried) fodder for our livestock. I find that dandelion and yellow dock stay green deeper into winter’s chill than any other forage plant — I dig them up and feed them to my winter poultry flock by the bucketful. Oats make an excellent nerve tonic, and can be used to feed livestock as well, either cut and fed green, or self-harvested by the animals. My geese love comfrey.

Other ecological or landscape uses. Hawthorn and willow might be planted for shade, as a windbreak or as a “living fence.” As such they offer important ecological benefits (bird and wildlife shelter, and moderation of the effects of wind, heat, and loss of soil moisture to evaporation) in addition to their medicinal uses.

Simple Cultivation Tips

Where should you grow your medicinal herbs? Everywhere you possibly can. There are traditional medicinal plants and herbs to fit any micro-ecology on the homestead. For example, the drier, more exposed parts of the homestead can be planted with chaste berry, lovage, milk thistle, rosemary, rue, clary sage, hyssop, lavender, lemon balm, and thyme. Wetter areas might host mullein, peppermint, selfheal, angelica, cardinal flower, goldenrod, and skullcap.

I planted a woodland garden of medicinal and culinary herbs in a fold of our small woodlot, which is more likely to stay moist than any other location on our property. Shade-loving herbs growing there include goldenseal (an important antimicrobial for acute infections, a key medicinal plant of many Native American tribes), bloodroot, downy rattlesnake plantain, Solomon’s seal, wild ginger, spikenard, wild yam, black cohosh and blue cohosh.

You may have been told that herbs “like to grow in poor soil.” While it is true that most herbs do not have the high nitrogen requirements of heavy feeders like corn and squash, every plant prefers to grow in soil that is loved and nurtured. Just as in the rest of the garden, do everything you can to increase the organic matter in your soil (adding composts, using mulches, growing cover crops), and your medicinal plantings will respond accordingly.

Many medicinal herbs also can be found in the wild, but unfortunately many are threatened by overharvesting. Responsible herbalists avoid “wild-crafting” of endangered herbal species — and indeed, help preserve these precious parts of our ecological heritage by growing and propagating herbs like goldenseal, pipsissewa, black cohosh, American ginseng, and bloodroot.

How to Make Plant Medications

Let your kitchen be your pharmacy. With a reliable beginner’s guide to home medicine, you will require no equipment other than the pans, bowls, strainers, funnels, measuring utensils and electric coffee grinder probably already in your kitchen. If you get excited about the process, you can add items such as presses and distilling equipment for making more sophisticated extractions.

You will be amazed that you can duplicate in your kitchen all the forms in which you have encountered “medicines” in the past: tinctures (based on alcohol, glycerin, vinegar and even wine), infusions (herbal medicines can be as simple as a cup of tea) and decoctions, lozenges, capsules, syrups, salves and lotions — as well as some that are new to you (but would not have been to your grandmother) such as poultices, fomentations and herbed water baths.

Traditional herbal practices almost always use the whole plant, or extracts of them, as medicine. Modern pharmaceutical preference for isolating a single component of a plant as the “active ingredient,” and administering that element in isolation from its hundreds of other compounds, may be one reason for the greater incidence of unintended side effects of modern medicines, to say nothing of their vastly increased cost. Not only do the complementary compounds of the whole plant help balance its actions and alleviate possible side effects, there is evidence that some may help “feed” our vital intestinal flora, and thus act as a beneficial (and free) probiotic in the digestive tract.

Safety First! Common Sense Guidelines

The fact that herbal medicines are “natural” does not mean they can be used without regard to possible hazards. Some of our potential plant allies are quite powerful indeed and can be dangerous if misused. Some can be confused with dangerous look-alikes as well if we are not careful. Here are some essential, but common-sense, rules for safe medicinal use of plants:

Know the plant. Proper plant identification is crucial — there is no room for carelessness or guessing games. Fennel is a common medicinal herb, and closely related species such as parsley, celery, dill, cilantro, and lovage have a long history of medicinal use as well. But two members of this family are deadly poisonous — water hemlock and poison hemlock — and mistakes with these look-alikes can be fatal. This sounds scary, but we need simply to practice the same common sense we use when instructing our children about any hazardous plant in their environment — whether poison ivy, jimsonweed or lily-of-the-valley.

Know the part to be used. It may be that one part of a traditional medicinal plant is safe to use, while others are off limits. For example, elderberry flowers and berries are safe for the beginner to use (to make medicines for flu and fever), but the bark can have toxic effects.

Know the application. Some plants that can be seriously toxic if taken internally can be safely used externally. An excellent example is a foxglove (digitalis), which can be fatal if ingested but can be used to make a fomentation to promote wound healing.

Know the dosage. It should never be assumed that “if a little is good, a little more is even better.” Indeed, James Green observes that small doses of German chamomile can provide positive effects for the nervous system that larger doses cannot duplicate. In some cases, the possibility of side effects or toxicity goes up with increasing dosage. Remember that dosage is keyed to body weight as well, so special care must be taken when administering herbal medicines to children.

Know potential side effects. Though unwelcome side effects are much less common in herbal medicine than in pharmaceuticals, it is wise to “read and heed” herbal literature to minimize possible side effects. For example, herbals high in tannins — such as yellow dock (a liver stimulant and laxative) — can be a problem for individuals with a history of kidney stones.

Remember individual sensitivities. An individual might have an allergic reaction to a medicinal plant safely used by others. When beginning use of a medicinal herb (just as when trying a new food) start with a reduced amount and work up to a normal dose.

Be aware of restrictions on use. Some herbs safe to use by the general patient may not be appropriate for children or the elderly. Most importantly, pregnant women should always be considered a special case. With regard to any plant medicine, the responsible herbalist will consider the issue of safe use during pregnancy and will err on the side of caution. Some herbs such as black cohosh, comfrey, goldenseal, mugwort, and yarrow should be avoided entirely by pregnant women. Others such as cayenne and ginger might be used, but very sparingly.

Recognize the limits of your own expertise. There are many herbs that are easy and safe for the beginner to use. A good place to start is with herbs commonly used as food and in teas. Others require far greater experience, knowledge, and skill. In the case of elderberry bark, mentioned above, it actually is used medicinally, even for internal applications. However, it is strong medicine indeed and should be used only by those who know what they are doing. The rest of us should stick with the more user-friendly plants and applications and seek out a reliable teacher if we want to advance.

You may discover as you honor and get to know medicinal herbs, wild and cultivated, that your relationship with these plants grows ever more intimate, more personal. Herbal medicine is not just about using plants to synthesize compounds we match one-for-one with symptoms of illness. While the chemicals plants create can indeed be healing, our growing alliances with plants are even more so.

You may find in your walks through wood and meadow that a certain plant “steps out” of the background and presents itself to you in a personal way. Or you may experience a sense of recognition, of kinship, as you plant a particular herb. Pay attention to such moments and to such plants — they are offers of alliance, opportunities to heal the rift that has opened between us and the living world. This is the best medicine of all.

Sources

Growing 101 Herbs That Heal by Tammi Hartung is an excellent overview of medicinal herb gardening.

The Herbal Medicine-Maker’s Handbook by James Green may be the best book for the beginner on making plant medicines in the home.

Making Plant Medicine by Richo Cech is another guide to herbal medicine making, including “A Gardener’s Herbal Formulary” in which many plants are considered in detail with regard to parts used, medicinal applications, typical methods of processing and dosages.

Planting the Future: Saving Our Medicinal Herbs, edited by Rosemary Gladstar and Pamela Hirsch for United Plant Savers, is a guide for herbalists concerned about over-harvesting threats to some of our most valuable medicinal plants.

Growing At-Risk Medicinal Herbs by Richo Cech is a good companion to the United Plant Savers book. A guide to the sometimes tricky requirements for growing, and thus preserving, some of the at-risk healing herbs.

101 Medicinal Herbs by Steven Foster is a good, quick overview of the more common and accessible medicinal plants and herbs.

A Field Guide to Medicinal Plants and Herbs by Steven Foster and James A. Duke is part of the Peterson Field Guide Series. (This one is for eastern and central North America.)


Harvey Ussery lives in Virginia with his wife, Ellen. You can read more about his homesteading practices on The Modern Homestead.

30 Medicinal Herbs and Common Uses

Look at any list of medicinal herbs and you’re likely to see some familiar plants. Below are a few examples of common herbs and conditions they might be used to treat.

*Plants designed at risk for overharvesting by United Plant Savers.

Blackberry (Rubus villosus) Treat sore throat
*Black Cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa) Treat premenstrual discomfort
Calendula (Calendula officinalis) Heal Wounds
Cayenne (Capsicum annuum) Prevent peptic ulcers
Chamomile, German (Matricaria recutita) Encourage digestion
Cleavers (Galium aparine) Reduce inflammation
Comfrey (Symphytum officinale) Treat bruises, sprains
Crampbark (Viburnum opulus) Relax muscles
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) Diuretic
*Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea) Stimulate immune system
Elder (Sambucus nigra) Treat cold symptoms
Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) Encourage digestion
Ginger (Zingiber officinalis) Treat motion sickness
*Goldenseal (Hydrastis Canadensis) Reduce inflammation
Gumweed (Grindelia spp.) Treat cold symptoms
Hawthorn (Crataegus oxyacanthus) Promote heart health
Marshmallow (Althaea Officinalis) Treat sore throat
Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) Stimulate digestion
Mullein (Verbascum spp.) Treat sore throat
Nettle (Urtica spp.) Diuretic
Peppermint (Mentha piperita) Stimulate digestion
*Pipsissewa (Chimaphila umbellata) Treat urinary tract infections
Plantain (Plantago lanceolata or P. major) Heal Wounds
St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum) Treat depression
Scullcap (Scutellaria spp.) Ease muscle tension
Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) Sleeping disorders
Vitex (Vitex agnus-castus) Treat premenstrual discomfort
Willow Bark (Salix alba) Treat osteoarthritis
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) Reduce inflammation
Yellow Dock (Rumex Crispus) Stimulate digestion
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