Linden Leaf and Flower for Head Colds, Aches, Dry Skin, Sleep, and More

You know those head colds where it starts off with your nose running like a faucet and uncontrollable sneezing?  And then once that stops, your nasal passages just swell up and seal shut,  but your nose continues to run and drip down the back of your throat?  Yeah.  I had one of those last week.  I don’t think I ever ran a fever, but I did feel a bit worn down and lethargic for a day or so.  It was fairly mild, as colds go, but that nose thing was very distressing.

Honey, Lemon, Ginger teaI was on vacation, so had limited herbal remedies on hand.  I started taking Airborne. I also made myself a soothing cup of honey, ginger, and lemon tea (boiled water poured over chopped fresh ginger, a spoonful of honey, and a squeeze of lemon).  Later I made a hot toddy, and wow, that was potent!  (1/4C each of of whiskey and fresh lemon juice heated, plus 1/4C honey.)  Tasty, instant warmth, a pleasant buzz, and peaceful sleep shortly thereafter.  Although these remedies were comforting, they were only temporarily.

The swollen shut, runny nose continued, but I was on the mend the next day and felt much better, plus we were heading home.  As soon as I got home I started looking through my herbs for another remedy to treat the stuffy, drippy nose.

Linden Leaf and Flower TeaEnter Linden Tea!

It is an incredible feeling when you ingest an herb that seems as if it was made just for you.  It totally matches your constitution, relieves the imbalances causing your symptoms, almost makes you feel more like yourself than you did before.  Incredible!

I chose this herb because of its moistening and anti-inflammatory properties, both of which I thought would be a good match for my currently dry winter constitution. Plus it was listed in numerous information resources as a good cold remedy.

This tea almost instantly moistened and reduced the inflammation in the hot, swollen tissues of my sinuses, while simultaneously tightening the tissues and stopping the leaky, drippy mucous. Half way through the first cup I realized I could actually breathe through my nose!!!  And it wasn’t dripping!  It also induced the most lovely relaxation, ahhhh.  The relaxation was very similar to what I get when I drink Chamomile tea. This herb actually reminds me a lot of Chamomile.

Also soothes dry, itchy skin, gut inflammation, and musculoskeletal pain

Coincidentally, I also had a couple of other nagging issues that were relieved with the Linden Tea.  I have been experiencing a tender tummy lately, and achy joints and muscles,  probably due to some gut inflammation. This problem completely cleared up the day after drinking the Linden tea, and I awoke with absolutely no stomach pain and no musculoskeletal pain.  I was astounded to feel so good after having spent months in some degree of pain.

I also had begun to develop extremely dry skin this winter, which was quite different from my usual oily skin type.  I had a particularly nagging spot under my chin that itched and was extremely wrinkled. In fact, I was noticing a lot more wrinkles on my face in general. I had attributed the change to perimenopause and changing hormones.  However, after drinking the Linden Tea, I noticed a distinct change in the softness of that patch on my chin, and it wasn’t itching.  I was intrigued to say the least!

After doing some additional research on Linden, I decided to switch up the daily nourishing infusion I had been drinking to include some Linden, since it seemed to be so good for my current constitution.  My latest infusion recipe includes a base of Oat Straw, with some Violet Leaf, Red Clover, and LINDEN!  I have so far had one quart of this infusion over two days time, and that itchy patch on my chin has completely cleared up, my skin is softer and less dry (less wrinkles too!), and my body continues to be pain free.  I have also slept easily and all through the night, when I had been averaging only 5 or 6 hours and waking frequently.

Had I had a fever, or more chest congestion with this cold, I think I may have mixed it with Yarrow and Mullien.  As it was, I only seemed to need the Linden.

In my research, I learned that Linden is also considered a tonic for the heart – some consider it second only to Hawthorne.  Additionally, there is quite a bit of spiritual lore related to this magnificent tree. Read more about the medicinal and spiritual properties of this herb from the links at the bottom of the article.

Some Personal Lore

When I was a child, my grandmother lived on Linden Street. In the front yard was a large Linden tree with low enough branches that I and my cousins could climb into it when we played all sorts of fun games, like hide-and-seek for one.  Sometimes we played “house” and one branch would be the  kitchen, and the other the living room; our bikes were our cars when we had to go to work.  It made a fine place to sit with a book on a lazy afternoon, also.

There are  Linden trees where I live now, too.  I smell them every year when they bloom.  This is the year I will spend time getting to know her better.  And I need an Ogham stick from her wood!  Lot’s more to learn, and I’m sure I will be writing about her often.

More information:

http://www.methowvalleyherbs.com/2011/09/lovely-linden.html

http://www.herbalsafety.utep.edu/herbs-pdfs/lindentree.pdf 

http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/linden

http://urbanherbology.org/2011/06/26/lime-nllinden-for-magical-midsummer-happiness/

http://www.anniesremedy.com/herb_detail309.php

Tasty Magnesium Rich Herbal Infusion

I’ve been showing signs of magnesium deficiency, so I made a magnesium-rich herbal infusion, steeped over night.  It’s really tasty!

Part of my symptoms are related to the peri menopause I’m sure, but I suspect magnesium deficiency is at the root of it. I’m having a lot of fatigue, grumpiness, digestive issues, muscle spasms, tingling in my hands some times, occasional heart flutters…

And it seems the worse I feel the less likely I am to take care of myself properly. WHY do I put off taking care of myself?

So I made this herbal infusion. It is mostly oatstraw and horsetail for the magnesium and other minerals that support healthy connective tissue and nervous system, a little nettles for kidney support, and some licorice root and ginger for flavor as well as liver and digestive support.

It’s really good!  To me anyway. Maybe because I need these particular herbs right now.  If you make this and it doesn’t taste good to you consider that one or more of the herbs may not be right for you at this time.

After just one glass, I swear I feel better already!

Here is how I made it.

This much Oatstraw
This much Oatstraw
This much Horsetail
This much Horsetail
About half as much Nettles
About half as much Nettles
Three slices fresh ginger, chopped
Three slices fresh ginger, chopped
One piece Licorice Root, broken up
One piece Licorice Root, broken up
Put in a french press and pour boiling water over the herbs. Let steep over night.
Put in a french press and pour boiling water over the herbs. Let steep over night.

 

Then enjoy a cup or two over ice the next couple of days! Keep refrigerated after you steep it and it should be good for about 2 days.

More information…

http://www.susunweed.com/How_to_make_Infusions.htm

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2015/01/19/magnesium-deficiency.aspx?x_cid=20150119_nonlead1_magnesium-deficiency_facebookdoc

 

 

Roses!!

My Rugosa roses (gifted to me by my sweet friend, Sue, who lives in Minnesota) are blooming like crazy!  Every day I get a harvest like this, and they make my kitchen smell so lovely while they are drying. I can’t wait to make some infused oil, face cream, tea blends, bath blends, infused honey, etc. with these fragrant beauties.

 

 

I already put some in a jar with chocolate mint and sugar to make Darcey Blue’s Rose Gulkand that she shared in a recent newsletter.  It is so tasty!!

Rose Gulkand

 

 

Do you have roses? How do you use them in your kitchen?

New Plant! Cancer Weed

Salvia lyrata - Cancer Weed

Does this plant look like a lyre to you? (click on the photo for a larger image)

Uh-uh, doesn’t to me either.  Never-the-less, I learned this week that it was named Salvia lyrata because of its striking resemblance to a lyre.  I don’t get it.  It is also known as cancer weed, because it has been used to treat skin cancer.  Now that makes sense.

I found it growing in a sandy, gravel-y, practically soil-less spot in our yard, surrounded by a pile of scrap metal waiting to be hauled away.  It took a while, though, before I actually stopped to take a closer look and positively identify it.  Each time I walked by it for the last couple weeks or so, I intuitively called to it as I passed by,  “Salvia!”  The blooms look a lot like garden sage, so I suppose it was easy to leap to that conclusion.

Salvia lyrata - Cancer Weed
Salvia lyrata – Cancer Weed

As a general rule when I am curious about a new plant, I like to see what I can find out through direct experience on my own before I look up what others have written. One thing I must do before even that, though, is to positively identify it and check to make sure that the plant I am working with is not toxic.

The first thing I had noticed on close inspection was that it had square shaped stems and opposite leaves.  Ah ha!! Likely Mint family!  Probably safe to handle and taste. But I still wanted a positive ID. 

I pulled out my Field Guide to Medicinal Plants and Herbs: Of Eastern and Central North America and flipped to the purple flower section hoping it would be there.  It didn’t take long to find it, it was right on page 217. 

Let the exploration with the senses begin!

Salvia Lyrata - Cancer Weed

I first leaned in to smell the blossoms, and when I didn’t smell anything, pinched a couple off and crushed them to see if they would release an aroma. Still nothing but a mild grassy scent. The leaves, however, had a quite distinctive, though mild, aroma. Not sure what to compare it to or exactly how to describe it.

I then took a little piece of the leaf into my mouth to taste.  I chewed it between my front teeth only, and tried not to swallow any, though I’m sure a small amount of the juice made it into my body anyway.  The taste was cooling, slightly astringent, and had a tiny little minty tingle to it.  It seemed a lot like many wild salad greens, but it evolved into a little more complexity the longer I held it on my toungue. After I had spit it out, I found that it had a mild minty after taste, ya know, a cooling tingle.  And then a little while later, a slightly bitter “after-after” taste.

A few minutes after tasting, I felt a very, very mild headache (really just pressure, not exactly pain) in my temples — not sure it was related, but it could have been.  I also felt some diffusion, a sort of prickly sensation on the tip of my tongue where the leaf had been tasted.  The prickliness came on shortly after the headache, and was accompanied by the mildly bitter “after-after” taste.  The prickliness began to fade after about 10 minutes, but still a ghost of it lingered for a while after that.  My tummy also began to move a bit just as the temple pressure was subsiding, suggesting an action on the gut, too.  As the headache disappeared and the bowels began move just a little, it felt like a gentle whole body release of some sort, but it was very subtle.

After using my senses to begin knowing lyrata, some quick Googling of the plant name yielded the following, which is essentially what my field guide had already told me: Edible plant with medicinal uses. Leaf poultice or salve used for skin sores, skin cancer, and warts. Whole plant tea for colds, coughs, asthma, nerves.  It is said to be mildly laxative and diaphoretic. Another source said, “has properties like those of garden sage; but it also contains acrid substances…” It mostly grows wild as a lovely weed — that means it’s tough!  It can be mowed and stepped on and still survive!  It is also sometimes cultivated in gardens.

So folks, this is what I know so far.  This plant is super tough and quick acting, but is also very mild and subtle. It has a gentle yet confident strength. I will definitely be on the look out for more information.

Have you heard of this plant before?  What can you tell me about it?  Have YOU discovered any new plants lately?

Easter Weekend 2012

The weather has been beautiful here!!  Hubby and I spent the entire Easter weekend outside, celebrating all the wonder and renewal of spring.

I mulched and weeded my little culinary herb patch, and added a border from rocks out of the creek in our backyard.  Isn’t it pretty?  I’m going to lay out a spiral medicine garden next week.

Herb garden

The rose bushes and bee yard are the next area to weed and mulch.  The girls in the hive are busy making honey.  I bet they can’t wait for the roses!

Bee hives

Hubby built a new gate for the garden, and I stapled on the chicken wire.  He still needs to put a wheel on the bottom edge to help support the weight and to make it easier to open and close.

Garden Gate

 

 

 

 

 

 

We built some raised beds.

Raised bed

Our tomato seedlings are doing well!

And… we’re getting chickens!!  Here is the half completed chicken tractor we are building.  This is the run, and they are getting an enclosed roost on top.  See their little ladder up to the platform?  Hopefully by next week we’ll have this complete and can go get our girls.  Until we get our plants in the ground, we plan to let them run free in the garden yard during the day so they can help fertilize and weed for us.

Chicken coop

What a soul nourishing weekend!  I wound up with a little sunburn, several splinters in my hands,  dirt I can’t get out from under my fingernails, and a heart filled with wonder and joy and incredible gratitude.

Rosemary Blessing for Body, Mind, and House

I recently cleaned my floors and baseboards and other surfaces with Rosemary infusion. Yes, just a simple infusion made with a handful of fresh and dried Rosemary, boiled in water, and left to infuse over night. The result was a beautiful mahogany colored, resinous, vibrant smelling solution that tastes as good as it dissolves grease and grime.  And it’s antiseptic, so it will kill germs too.

What? You don’t feel like cleaning the house today? A sip or two of Rosemary infusion may change all that. Rosemary has long been used as a tonic and pick-me-up, so have some before you get started.

As one of the loveliest culinary herbs, it truly does taste as good as it cleans. Now I ask you, how many cleaning solutions can you actually drink before you clean with them? Just a little, please. A strong infusion like this will go a long way. Feel free to dilute it with fresh water and/or add some honey if you like.  And you can drink it either hot or cold.

Now that you’ve tasted and felt the energy of this plant, put a little of your infusion to the side (I’ll tell you why in a minute), and use the rest to bless the house. Pour it into a bucket, dip your cloth in, and clean away!

Watch the dirt disappear and notice how the energy will begin to shift toward peace, love, and happiness. I feel this energy shift in my body when I drink it, and I feel it in my house as I dip in and out of the water, inhaling the divine fragrance, cleansing my space. I sometimes smudge with Rosemary too.

When the house is finally clean, take a shower, shampoo your hair, and use the bit you put aside earlier for a hair rinse. Some will skip the shampoo and use the infusion mixed with baking soda as their sole hair cleanser. Others will mix the infusion with a bit of castile soap for an all natural shampoo that lathers.

Rosemary is especially good for oily hair.  Just like it will gently dissolve grease and dirt on the floors, without stripping them, and leaving behind a lovely squeaky clean shine, it will do the same for your hair. If you have oily skin and/or blemishes, you might also want to dab some infusion on your skin.  Again, Rosemary is antiseptic, so it’s a great thing to use for acne.

As a medicinal herb, Rosemary is considered by some to be a near panacea, and it also has a rich folkloric history.  There is a ton of information to be had, but I’ve included just a few links and books I personally enjoyed below, for your reading pleasure.

So revel in your Rosemary blessing, inside and out.

Embrace the happiness. Smell the freshness. Notice the shine.

See it.  Feel it. Believe it.

——————————————

Links:

Now Remember Rosemary, by Susun Weed

A Modern Herbal – Rosemary

Rosmarinus Officinalis – Dew of the Sea, by Kristena Roder

Witchipedia – Rosemary

Herbal Books (that have wonderful sections on Rosemary):

The Earthwise Herbal: A Complete Guide to Old World Medicinal Plants

Common Herbs for Natural Health (Herbals of Our Foremothers)

Opening Our Wild Hearts to the Healing Herbs

What the Kitchen Slave (errr, I mean Witch) Did Today

Today I peeled and seeded over 5 pounds of tomatoes (organically grown in our garden). This involved boiling a big pot of water in which to blanch them for a minute or so, then dipping them into a large bowl of ice water.  The skin then peels off easily, and slicing them in half makes it easy to squeeze the seeds out. This process took forever!

tomato skins

I’ve since remembered that you can also put the tomatoes into the freezer, then when you take them out and thaw them, the skins come off just as easily.  I did that last year a couple times, and it saved a lot of work without all the water and boiling and dipping in and out of hot and cold water. I will definitely go that route with the next batch… much easier.

tomatoes

Then I chopped jalapeno peppers (from our garden) until my entire hands were burning. I scratched my nose and had my face on fire also. I can still taste the peppers on my hands and feel the fire, even though I’ve washed them several times and also had a shower.

 

Then on to mince about 12 cloves of garlic (from our garden), chop some onions, cilantro and tomatoes.  Put them all together with some lemon juice, water and salt to make 2 quarts of lacto-fermented salsa.

salsa

THEN, I chopped some more onions and green peppers and garlic, and the processed tomatoes, to make an amazing batch of homemade spaghetti sauce.  I added quite a bit of dried holy basil and oregano (both from our garden), some salt, a pinch of sugar, and some sweet white wine.

holy basil

I let it cook for an hour or so, used the hand blender to puree it all together, and let it simmer for another 3 hours.  This will be delicious with some sweet Italian sausage and some quinoa pasta.

tomato sauce

At the end of it all I was in the kitchen for over 4 hours.  Chopping and processing all those vegis takes quite a long time, not to mention the clean up.

I’m tired.

The end.

Reclaiming My Voice

I just read over some of the posts I wrote here over the last couple of years, and find myself feeling very sad, even shedding tears.  I think I am mourning the spiritual connection and authenticity that exuded from my writing as I was on the threshold of a major transition in my life.  I seem to have misplaced that connection, along with my writer’s voice, as I have navigated the waters of tremendous change recently, and I long to have it back again.

You’ve probably noticed that I haven’t been writing very much here at all the last year or two.  Back when my marriage was ending in 2008, I found that my writing voice was stronger than it had ever been. During that time I was suffocating and needing freedom, and I found space through which to breathe via my relationships with plants and my writing on WitchenKitchen. Oh the dreams I dreamed, the insights I gained, the personal growth I experienced during that time!  I connected to the plants and my innermost self when I couldn’t connect to my partner, and my, how the words did flow!

But when that relationship was actually over, I unexpectedly found myself adrift at sea with nothing but emotional survival on my mind.  I no longer had a home with plants I knew intimately just outside my door, no herb cupboard or kitchen to experiment in.  By my own choice, I moved all my furniture and personal belongings to a hot, musty storage unit, put my jars of tinctures and oils and dried herbs into boxes and stacked them in a spare room at my mother’s house. I knew I would get back to them someday, but for the time being, I could only look longingly at the boxes.

I wouldn’t even open those boxes to get tea ingredients, because I knew I’d only have to pack them up again, and it was all just too, too sad for me.  During this transition, I couldn’t communicate at all with the plants, could barely even go outside and just sit with them.  I could hardly write a word on the topic, save short little snippets on my Facebook page.

Then a little while later, I fell in love and started a new relationship.  Suddenly I was whirling around, caught up in a fantastic and blissful adventure.  You’d think my thoughts would be overflowing and spilling from my pen, but being in love can be one of the most overwhelming things a person can experience.  As we busily went about establishing the foundations for a long term relationship and making a home together, I still could not find my spiritual center, and I could not write.

I tried a few times.  I can’t tell you how many drafts of articles I penned, but ultimately trashed because they had no authenticity.

As my partner and I began our journey together, I unpacked most of my herbs and put them in a cupboard in our home just for them, but I would almost never go get anything out to actually use.  I grew vegetable gardens, but that was hardly a substitute for connecting with wild plants as I had once done.  I would walk around our yard sometimes looking at wild, growing things, but lacked the motivation to go get my books and try to i.d. the unknown plants, or bring any of them into my kitchen to get to know them better. I maintained my interest and a certain longing, but from a distant, uncommitted place.

My priority and focus through all this relationship upheaval has been to re-establish solid human connections…  the plants and my writing, well, they just had to wait.

My new relationship has stabilized and grown a solid base now, and I feel my feet touching the Earth again.  I feel I have regained a home base and roots from which to spread my branches. My heart is telling me that I can now safely turn my attention elsewhere from time to time and be sure that I won’t go spinning off into the unknown, unconnected abyss. I am ready to reclaim myself, my spiritual connections, and my words.

I felt my passion for all things green rekindling during our recent family beach vacation, when the local plants began calling out to me again. I heard them intensely and insistently, and felt a familiar and overwhelming desire to research and write about them again.  Perhaps they have been calling all along, but only now have I come to a resting spot where I can hear them.

I hope you will continue this journey with me, as I find the words to share it with you here.

🙂

Meet Pennywort

I just returned from a relaxing vacation on the beaches of the Outer Banks of North Carolina, and met some sweet new plant friends.  Although I saw many herbs that were new to me, a couple really caught my attention and inspired me to get to know them better. I wanted to share my research with you.

Pennywort

Prolific is the first word that comes to mind when I think of this plant.  Several sources classify this plant as invasive, and I can see why. It was everywhere along the coast, on and near the dunes.

I was attracted to the succulent, brilliant green, and round foliage, with a small, whitish dot in the center. It exudes archetypal wholeness, a sacred naval of the world, appearing to contain a full universe within each perfect leaf. Very plump and moist and healthy, even though it was growing out of dry, hot, sand.

I only know the name of this plant because of a book I picked up at the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge we visited while at the beach.  The book is titled “A Guide to Ocean Dune Plants common to North Carolina” by E. Jean Wilson Kraus. None of the other herbal reference books on my shelves (and I have a lot) mention Hydrocotyle at all.

In my internet research, I found very little specific and reliable information on the possible medicinal properties of this plant. The few references I did find, indicated it may have possibly been used as an alterative for various skin and kidney disorders, as well as arthritis.

Not knowing a single thing about this lovely little plant when I discovered it, except that I found it beautiful, I didn’t do very much hands-on experimenting on our first meeting. As I sat with it, I imagined it could bring moisture and coolness to dry, inflamed tissues. Perhaps it could deliver some kind of cosmic energy to a tired spirit, renewing life force in the cells of the body. Its personality seemed to me to be very similar to Chickweed. Roundness, balance, greenness, longevity… these are the words that came to mind.  Since many sources indicated that H. bonariensis is edible, raw and cooked, I will feel safe to experiment a bit more next time I am on the coast.

Other common names I came across for this particular species: Water Pennywort, Beach Pennywort, Marsh Pennywort, Salt Pennywort, Coast Pennywort, Dollarweed, Sombrerillo, Waternaval. I will certainly be looking for more ethno-botanical information under any and all of these names. If you have any tidbits to share, I would love to hear them.

In my next post I want to talk about Fire-wheel, Indian Blanket (Gaillardia pulchella), another coastal plant that captured my heart and imagination while I was in the Outer Banks.

My first Mullien!

mullienI finally have Mullien that I can harvest! I have admired them from afar for several years now, but never had any I could get to easily for medicine making. Here she is just beginning to flower. I see Mullien flower oil, and dried Mullien leaf for infusion, and Mullien leaf syrup, and Mullien root tincture in my future!

 

Want to know more about the medicinal properties of Mullien?Read this excellent article written by Michigan herbalist, Jim McDonald: http://www.herbcraft.org/mullein.html

 

The violet is prolific here also this year… off to gather some to dry for nourishing infusions!