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Ready to Begin Again!! With Calendula

Hello all!  I know it has been a super long time since I took the time to visit the blog-o-sphere and even post on my own site, but it has been super crazy busy in my life and time is what I just did not have too much of to spare.  So here I am, giving  some of that “time” I have to share with any one who wants to listen, read, or invest their time.  Holidays were good and got to see many in the family I haven’t seen in a while.  New year was busy too. 

Calendula officinalis

Calendula officinalis, this is a super plant and pot herb.  “Pot herb” means that it is good to cook and eat, in a pot.  I used to think that it was good to grow in a pot, but I learned differently, ha.  By the way you can grow Calendula in a pot if you take the notion to:).

Part used:  flower petals

Some phytochemicals:  caffeic acid, galactose, gentisic acid, lutein, lycopene, malic acid, rutin, salicyclic acid, quercetin

Nutrients:  Calcium, coenzyme Q10, vitamins C and E

Actions:  anti-inflammatory, astringent, vulnerary, anti-microbial, cholagogue, emmenagogue, tonic

Uses:  skin inflammation, diaper rash, external wound, minor burns, gastric ulcers, gall-bladder problems, indigestion, athletes foot, poison ivy, menstrual cramps.

I personally grow and harvest this herb for medicine.  It is easy to grow and will reseed itself every year, this is good if you don’t mind where it pops up next season.  I harvest the flowers after they open and after the dew is gone in the morning.  I place about a handful of them in a small paper lunch bag, fold down the top and place in a dry, warm, dark area.  I check them every other day or so to make sure no mold is creeping in and to give the petals a shake to redistribute them.  After about a week or so they are completely dry, crispy, and still have their color.  I store them in a glass jar, dated and labeled.

I use this great herb in teas, ointments, and tinctures.  It will also be great in a lotion.  Adding it to soap is good also.  A WWII vet told me he witnessed huge vats of  Calendula tincture being used in the field hospitals for flu, infections, and wounds.

Flower of calendula

It is quite a pretty flower to add to any flower bed or landscape.  The color of the petals can range from orange to yellow.

Flower of calendula

Love life and breathe deep,

Angela

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Uva-Ursi

Uva-what??, Uva-ursi, a medicinal herb found indigenous to many countries, including northern America, Asia, and the British Isles.  It grows in Canada and as far south as New Jersey and Wisconsin.  It is also found in Scotland, especially in the highlands and is the badge of the Clan of Ross.

Latin name: Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

Picture taken near Akureyri, Iceland.

Showcasing some great herbs to have on hand for your herbal medicine cabinet,  Uva-ursi is one I have used several times.  It is easy to procure and keeps well.  It also goes by the name Bearberry.  This common name comes from the Greek arkton staphyle meaning “bear’s grapes”, referring to the notion that bears eat the bright red berries that ripen in autumn or early winter.

The dried leaves are the part used for healing, gathered from summer to fall.  Gather only bright green leaves in the morning after the dew has dried, and dry them.

Actions of Uva-ursi:  Diuretic, astringent, demulcent, anti-catarrhal, anti-microbial, tonic

Phytochemicals:  arbutin, beta-carotine, ellagic acid, gallic acid, hyperin, tannin (6%), oleanolic acid, quercetin, ursolic acid.

Nutrients:  calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, zinc, vitamins B1, B2, B3, and C.

Uva-ursi can be used as tea, capsules, douche, or extract.  It is a specific in urinary upsets as it tones, soothes, and strengthens the mucous membranes of the urinary passages.  It has been used since the 13th century.

Uses:  kidney and bladder congestion or ulceration, cystitis, kidney stones, bed-wetting, prostate weakness, uterine hemorrhage, dysentery, hemorrhoids, chronic nephritis, anemia, Bright’s Disease, uterine ulceration, rheumatism, vaginal sores and infections.

Having alkaline urine will enhance the medicinal performance of Uva-ursi.  To achieve this go on a 3-day juice cleanse, eat only fruits and veges, and drink plenty of distilled water. 

I went on a lovely float trip with church friends and family, and came home with a severe bladder infection.  I had pain all the way home, a 4 hour drive.  Not only was I dealing with pain, I had blood in by urine, never a good sign.  When I got home I drank lots of water and ate a salad for supper.  I made a strong cup of tea using uva-ursi and corn silk, yes that dried stuff on corn.  I drank this right before I went to bed.  The next morning, to my utter amazement, I had no pain and my urine was completely clear!  I continued with salads and lots of water for the next 2 days, but I never experienced any more symptoms.  Herbal healing amazes me and every time I see how effective these plants are I am in awe.  The more I learn I realize how much I don’t know!  I also learned that drinking water while out on the water is essential!!

Only one herbal book I researched, and I have ALOT, cautioned using uva-ursi while pregnant.  So do your own research and please be careful.  Herbs seem harmless, but they do have powerful actions that stimulate or calm organ function.  However, don’t be intimidated by this.  If you are pregnant, use lots of 100% cranberry juice, distilled water, and teas made with: corn silk, parsley, juniper berries, or cleavers.  And don’t forget the best, fresh juiced garden carrot.

Learning to deal with everyday ailments at home is wonderful.  Just use common sense and read, read, read, and ask, ask, ask. 

Love life & breathe deep,

Angela

Another Injury . . .

Nathan, my youngest son, came home with this.  He had an altercation with a sawzall and by the time he got home his finger was stiff, sore, and throbbing.

So I go out to the garden head straight to the comfrey patch to gather some leaves.

I gathered some good-looking leaves, some small and some medium-sized.

I place them in the blender to give them a quick chop, someday I’ll get a fancy food processor:).

Next, I had to use a pestle and mortar to finish macerating the leaves into a paste-like consistency.

I spooned some of this mixture onto some cheesecloth, which was placed on top of some plastic wrap.

A close-up

This was wrapped around his finger, around the hand, and then taped in place, he loved this, . . . . not really.

He just sat at the table for a long time . . . .don’t ya just love the look only a teenager can give you?

Comfrey is a go-to herb for any external wound, bruise, or laceration.  I have comfrey fresh, in an ointment, in a mucilage, and dried.  It is stupendous, I love it.  Everyone should have some on hand for first-aid.

Love life & breathe deep,

Angela

Yarrow

Yarrow   Achilles millefolium

Yarrow

Parts used:  all aerial parts

Yarrow was used and valued by ancient Greeks.  The Latin name Achilles is from the legend of the same name.  He used it on his soldiers, calling it “military weed”.  Millifolium is Latin for “a thousand leaves”.  The leaves of yarrow are very fine and feathery.

Achillea millefolium - leaves (scan)

Medicinal Actions of Yarrow:  diaphoretic, hypotensive, astringent, diuretic, antiseptic, stimulant, emmengogue, vulnerary, anti-catarrhal, hepatic

Some plant constituents yarrow contains:  volatile oils, flavonoids, tannins, bitter alkaloid, potassium, calcium, selenium, silicon, phosphorous, lysine, beta-carotine, iron, inulin.

Historical Uses:   Hot Infusion – for colds, flu combine with peppermint , elder flowers, and/or boneset, diarrhea, hemorrhage of lungs and bowel, eruptive skin diseases, indigestion, gastritis, colitis, tonic to nerves, hypertension with hawthorn, lime blossom, and mistletoe, suppressed urine, colic, jaundice, typhoid fever, diabetes.

Yarrow can be used dried or fresh to make a tea.  An ointment can also be made with yarrow and used for old and new wounds, burns, ulcers, varicose veins, hemorrhoids, and eczema.  Fresh leaves will staunch bleeding, just crush them and make a quick poultice.

Yarrow tea drunk as hot as can be tolerated is super for cleansing out toxins via the skin, our largest organ.  We have upwards of 2 million sweat glands and when they are functioning correctly they can eliminate putrid mucusy matter fast.

My sister was having trouble with her monthly cycle after going off the “pill”, and the first herb we used was yarrow.  She drunk about 2 cups every morning on her way to work.  By the time she got there , her drive was about 30 minutes, she had sweat beads on her face!  She did this for 2 weeks, and then we switched to different teas to help her get back to normal.  It was not long before she was expecting her first baby.    

Yarrow is one of my favorite teas to employ for any ailment due to its cleansing and toning properties.  It tastes bitter, but that is one of the attributes that makes it medicinal.   Yarrow is very easy to grow and you can harvest much of it to dry for later use.  I have actually moved my yarrow patch 3 times and it still grows beautifully.

So, now you have learned about a great medicinal herb and how to use it.  Hope this inspires you to maybe research it some more and try it out.

Love life & breathe deep,

Angela

Garlic

As a Master Herbalist I am asked often what is good for this or that.  There are some herbs that I am always listing off.  One of those is garlic.  It is surprising to me that most people don’t know that before big pharmaceutical companies rolled out their drugs, garlic was used to treat infection.  It was, and is still extremely effective.  Garlic is ubiquitous to all civilized areas as a food and medicine.  It is mentioned  in written records as long ago as people have been on the earth.  It is believed to originate in South Central Asia and it grows wild in Italy and Southern Europe. Herbalists employ garlic in bacterial, viral, fungal, parasitic, and catarrhal conditions.

Here is the rundown on Garlic:

Garlic             Allium sativum             part used: fresh bulbs

Garlic contains the phytochemical alliin, and when the tissue of the garlic bulb is crushed it is converted into allicin.  This is where the familiar odor of garlic comes from, the allicin.  This allicin is a main component of the volatile essential oil that makes garlic so powerful as a medicine.  Allicin has been shown to lower cholesterol and Lower Density lipoprotein (LDL), reduce blood clots, and it is a broad-spectrum antibiotic. 

Garlic also has: beta carotene, caffeic acid, quercetin, rutin, saponin, calcium, folate, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, zinc, and vitamins B1, B2, B3, and C.

The actions of garlic are: antiseptic, antimicrobial, anticatarrhal, antispasmodic, antiviral, antiparasitic, antifungal, diaphoretic, hypertensive, anthelmintic, expectorant, pectoral, rubefacient, stimulant, tonic, vulnerary, and cholagogue.

Garlic has an affinity for the respiratory area and diffuses throughout the entire system quickly detoxifing body tissues.  It has a stimulating effect on the gastric juices helping digestion and infection in this area. Garlic is a specific antibiotic, meaning it targets pathogens, and it actually  helps build the friendly flora in the gut. Pharma drugs target all and every bacteria in the system, it being non-specific. Four average size cloves of garlic is equal to 1 adult dose of penicillin. It is effective against Streptococcus, Staphylococcus, Typhoid, Diphtheria, Cholera, Tuberculous, Tetanus, Rheumatic bacteria, and others. It is tonic to the nervous system and has been proven to help with cancer. Garlic has 200 sulfur compounds making it a free radical scavenger.

Garlic was employed in WW I and WW II, and was wonderfully successful in treating pus, bacterial, and viral conditions.  It is referred to as “Russian Penicillin” because the oil is a popular remedy used in Russia.

Garlic is a wonderful medicine that should be in every medicine cabinet in every home.  I am never without it.  I make garlic oil and have fresh cloves on hand not only for cooking, but for illness as well.  It may stink up the place, but you will be much improved in health for the eating of it!

Uses of garlic:  any infection, high blood pressure, arteriosclerosis, earache, cancers, abscesses, hay fever, typhoid, cystitis, diphtheria, ringworm, athletes foot, threadworms, coughs, tuberculosis, colds, flu, asthma, whooping-cough, croup, colitis, diarrhea, dysentery, high cholesterol, strep throat, tonsilitis, boils, bronchitis, sciatica, flatulence, dizziness, heart weakness, swolen glands, pimples, smallpox, indigestion, headaches, chills, bladder weakness, eczema, cramps, dropsy.

When you feel a cold coming on, just eat 2 or 3 cloves three times per day, along with distilled water, light foods, and rest.  This dose is average, you can certainly eat more. Some eat this amount every day as a preventative measure against cancer, heart disease, bowel complaints, and stroke. 

To make garlic oil, crush several cloves of garlic and place in a glass jar, cover by 1 inch of olive oil, put the lid on, label and date it.  Shake the jar several times each day for 3 days.  After three days strain, bottle, label and date it.  I use this in the ear for ear infections (as long as the ear drum has not ruptured), and topically for skin infections, fungal infections, nerve pain, and combined with mullein oil for chest congestion.

I hope no one will be ill . . . but just in case, get some healing, detoxifing, stimulating garlic today!! 🙂

Love life & breathe deep,

Angela

Herbal Fundamentals

Infusions and decoctions – the basic quintessential herbal preparations.

  • What is an infusion and decoction?  Well, an infusion is a fluid extraction using the soft parts of the plants.  They can be fresh or dried, cut, and sifted leaves, flowers, berries, and stems.  A decoction is a fluid extraction using the hard parts of the plants – roots, root barks, barks, inner bark, seeds, or twigs.  To be succinct, you are making a tea, ha!
Some visual examples of herbs in their dry state.
  • How do ya make a tea? For the fresh or dried, cut, and sifted leaves, flowers, berries, and stems you make an infusion.  You bring some distilled water to a simmer and pour over the herb or herbs, cover and let steep for 10 – 15 minutes.  You can use some of the gadgets for tea making such as a tea ball with any cup, tea bag with any cup, or use a tea-pot! I use a saucepan because  I generally prepare a good amount at a time. For a decoction, place your  barks, seeds, roots, or twigs in a glass or stainless steel saucepan, pour distilled water over and bring to a slow simmer and simmer for 15 minutes.  How much distilled water and herbage do you use?  Ok, pay close attention: it is up to you.  This question is answered by how strong  you like your tea and how much are you wanting to make?  Try making some and then adjust to suit your pallets, yes it’s that simple.
A cool teapot from http://www.mountainroseherbs.com
Handy muslin tea bags with drawstrings and a useful tea ball.
  • You will hear, is “hear” the right word or should I say “read”?, Hmm, but I digress, I will instruct you to use steam distilled water in all your herbal preparations.  Why you ask?  Because steam distilled water is a pure “hungry” water and it pulls the maximum level of medicinal properties and constituents out of the herbs.
Purchase distilled water at any grocer.
  • I always sweeten my tea with honey I bought from a local bee keeper. MmmmMmmm.  Try making your own tea today, the making of a tea is therapeutic in and of itself!