Friday, January 9, 2015

My Favorite Five Plant Allies

***1***
St. John's Wort
(Hypericum perforatum)

Lovely Sunshine St. John's Wort
It's medicinal properties are sedative, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiviral, astringent, antidepressant, aromatic, nervine, diuretic, vulnerary, expectorant, and hepatic.

Dosage: 1-2 teaspoons of dried herb per cup of water. Steep, covered, 10-15 minutes. Drink up to 3x a day. Or if using tincture 1/4 to 1 teaspoon up to 3x a day.

I have been in love with this plant since I first met it. It was amazing to see how if you rubbed St. J's green leaves or crushed it's yellow flowers it would bleed red! It was also amazing to see the color change when you put it in oil. It goes from green olive oil to ruby red infused oil in a matter of days sitting in the sun! I have used this oil to treat nerve damage in the back, on a broken foot for pain and inflammation, for ear infections, and turned it into salve for wound healing, burns, pain, insect bites and stings, and rashes. When taken internally it can cause photo-sensitivity, however the oil used topically can prevent sunburn and help it heal if you get too much sun. As an infusion, it is good for pain and depression, as well as can help with digestive inflammation around the Solar Plexus and help with the assimilation of food. Do not use if you are on MAO inhibitors or medicines like it.

 It is usually collected on sunny summer days and can be found around the sunny edges of woods. It is thought best to harvest on the Summer Solstice, which is also St. John's Day, but I am an opportunist and harvest when I find it. The flowers remind me of tiny suns, bright yellow! As you can see it is a plant connected to the Sun. 

It has been used spiritually for healing, protection, strength, love, divination, happiness, and fairies. 

***2***
Elder
(Sambucus nigra)

Elderberry syrup is so yummy it makes the spoon smile!
It's medicinal properties for flowers are diaphoretic, expectorant, alterative, nervine, and anti-catarrhal. The properties for the berries are diaphoretic, alterative, diuretic, and laxative.

Dosage: 2 teaspoon of dried flowers per cup of water. Steep, covered, for 10 minutes. Drink hot 3x a day. The berries are best made into a syrup or tea.

There have been numerous case studies about this plant and it's seemingly amazing flu killing ability. I know I stay pretty busy in the winter months making syrup for friends and family who swear by it! The flowers are a great fever reducer, nervine, and expectorant for sick children. The berry's juice is usually made into syrup but can also be added to teas for a preventative measure as well as an extra immune boost when sick. The berries are high in vitamin C and iron. My kids put the syrup in milk, on pancakes, plain yogurt, or they just do a little shot of it. One of my friends calls it their "flu shot". Definitely a big plant ally during flu season. The flowers are also used topically for minor skin issues, burns, and wrinkles.

This plant is a woody shrub around here. You often see them on the edges of farm fields. Their eye catching big umbels of bright, white flowers are hard to miss. From everything I have read the black and blue berried variety are safest, while the red berries should be left alone.

It's spiritual uses are exorcism, protection, healing, prosperity, and sleep. They say if you sleep under a Elder tree during the Summer Solstice you can see fairies!


***3***
Yarrow
(Achillea millefolium)

A Pretty Yarrow found by Devil's Courthouse on the Blue Ridge Parkway in NC
It's medicinal properties are diophoretic, hypotensive, astringent, diuretic, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, antipyretic, carminative, antispasmodic, stomachic, tonic, alterative, and vulnerary. 

Dosage: 1-2 teaspoons of dried herb per cup of water. Steep, covered, 10-15 minutes. Drink 3x a day. If feverish drink hot. If using the tincture use 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon 3x a day.

This herb is an amazing wound healer! It is a good wilderness first aid plant. If you get a cut or scrape while out and you can find this plant, chew a little and apply directly to the wound, it will stop the bleeding and disinfect it until you can get to a place for proper cleaning. I have used it to stop bleeding on my dog's ears after he got in a little tiff. It can also be powdered and used the same way, like a steptic powder. You can even sniff it when you get a nose bleed. It also helps the body deal with fevers by inducing sweating. I have used it to heal damage, tone, and stimulate my digestive system. Yarrow is an excellent urinary antiseptic and great for treating hemorrhoids. 

It grows it a variety of places but enjoys a little sun. I have found it at the tops of mountains and under trees. The wild variety that grows around here is white, but there are a bunch of colorful ones to brighten up a garden. These are usually less medicinal but not always. 

Spiritually I have always felt this plant is like a friend and always willing to give you a hug and tons of comfort. It has been used to give courage, love, psychic powers, and for exorcisms.


***4***
Rose
(Rosa spp.)

Multiflora Roses that grew in our woods in the NC mountains
It's medicinal properties are nutritive, astringent, anodyne, nervine, aphrodisiac, antioxidant, mood elevator, mild laxative, mild diuretic, and anti inflammatory.

Dosage: I-2 teaspoons of petals or hips per cup of water. Steep, covered, 10-15 minutes. Drink as needed. 

This plant's flowers and especially it's hips are the best natural and readily available source of vitamin C. They add great flavor and nutrition to formulas. Much better than orange juice, it is great for cold and flu season and completely safe for kids. Helps add digestive system and circulatory system especially the heart, both the physical and the emotional. Herbalist Robin Rose Bennett talks a lot about the Rose and how it can help heal ancient wounds and sweetens the soul.

You can use ANY rose as medicine or food, even the ones in your garden! You just have to be very careful that they haven't been sprayed with any toxic chemicals. Most people don't grow roses to eat them. I love the multiflora roses you can find in the woods, but they are all absolutely lovely!

It's been used spiritually for love, psychic powers, healing, love divination, luck, and protection.


***5***
Catnip
(Nepeta cataria)

I am sad to say that with all these years I have been growing catnip I can't find one single picture I have taken! :(

It's medicinal properties are anodyne, antispasmodic, carminative, aromatic, diaphoretic, nervine, sedative, and astringent.

Dosage: 2 teaspoons of dried herb per cup of water. Steep, covered, for 10-15 minutes 3x a day.
If using tincture 1/2 to 1 teaspoon 3x a day.

Absolutely hands down my favorite herb for children when they are sick. Or even on those nights before a big trip or the first day of school. It washes over you with a sense of calm. It is great for treating fevers, helping tummy troubles, and settling an upset child (or adult). Any mom or dad knows that kids get fevers and need rest but it can be like trying to tame a wild tiger! That to me is the biggest help this plant ally gives. Not only does it help with the fever and the icky feelings they have but it aids their little bodies in settling down and gives them a chance to rest. As a grown up though, I have made a tea of it during an extremely stressful time and I saw all the things I had to do but just didn't stress over them anymore. This is an extremely safe herb and can even be given as a weak tea to babies to relieve colic.

This beautiful plant is super easy to grow and will take over a good size patch of your garden so be mindful when figuring out placement. There is an old saying that:
"If you set it, the cats will eat it,
If you sow it, the cats don't know it."
So if you have outdoor cats in your area you may want to just plant seeds. 

Spiritually it has been used for love, beauty, happiness, anger management, and depression management.




References

A New Holistic Herbal ~ David Hoffman

Back to Eden ~ Jethro Kloss

A Modern Herbal ~ Mrs. M. Grieve

The Way of Herbs ~ Michael Tierra

Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health ~ Rosemary Gladstar

Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs ~ Scott Cunningham

Everyday Magic ~ Dorothy Morrison

The Gift of Healing Herbs ~ Robin Rose Bennett