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

Wild Lettuce Anyone?

If you suffer from insomnia, this common weed could be your best friend. It can provide deep relaxation and a delicious, gritty-eyed, cuddly sleepiness when you are wound up and your mind is racing and you find that you can’t get to sleep or stay asleep for long.

Last month I started a bunch of new things in my life. I changed my work schedule, started massage school, began doing some computer consulting work on the side… there were a lot of new things to absorb and a lot to juggle. I was quite wound up and often had trouble getting to sleep, and when I did, I slept lightly and woke just a few hours later to begin tossing and turning for the rest of the night.

Just when I was getting desperate, I found the prickly lettuce (Lactuca scariola) growing tall and strong right at the edge of the yard. To make sure I had the correct plant ID, I felt the row of prickles along the bottom mid-vein of its leaves, and then plucked off one to see the yellowy sap oozing out. Sap will ooze out of any part of the plant that you break off.  I ate about half a leaf, tasting its sweet, slightly bitter, flavor. The young leaves are often used in salads, though the older leaves can get much too bitter for eating.

After eating the leaf, I began gathering what I needed to make a quart of tincture. I felt super relaxed as I walked around the edge of the yard snipping the stalks. Not drugged at all, just calm and relaxed. I also began to feel pleasantly tired and sleepy. I hadn’t felt that in sooooo very long. Delicious.

After I chopped up my harvest and put it in a labeded jar with 100 proof vodka, it was time to get ready for bed. I went through my usual bedtime routine, tidying up, washing up, laying out clothes for the next day, etc, all the while feeling very calm, very relaxed, and knowing that I would have no problem falling asleep that night. I crawled into bed, went right to sleep, and slept soundly the entire night — the first time in over a month!

I have purchased wild lettuce tincture in the past and knew it could help me sleep, but that’s really all I knew about it. Last week I got my hot little hands on Matthew Wood’s new The Earthwise Herbal: A Complete Guide to Old World Medicinal Plants and have now learned a few more things about this plant.

According to the profile in Wood’s book, I can see why it works so well for me. “It is indicated for stiff sore persons with painful muscles, especially the lower back. The pulse is slow and hard… [which] indicates ‘cold blockage’ or ‘internal cold’… Sometimes there is slight evidence of the heat that is being blocked… it produces red margins of the eyelids, allergies, and facial acne.” (p. 307, 308)

I had been very, very cold this past winter, and very, very stiff and sore, especially in my lower back. After reading this I looked in the mirror and sure enough there were red margins around my eyelids also.

He goes on to write that Lactuca also addresses hormonal imbalances caused by excess of androgen — think teenage acne as a common manifestation of this. It has also been used to cure “dropsy” (water retention, edema). Acne and edema — two more conditions that I have dealt with in the past.  Seems I have a lot of affinity for this herb.

However, even if you don’t fit the profile completely, I think it would be beneficial to almost anyone who needs a little help relaxing and sleeping. It is very gentle and effective for that purpose, and unlike most pharmaceuticals on the market for that purpose, it is non-addictive.  I plan to make it a permanent part of my herbal medicine chest.