When hubby asked me to go to the store and get him some Immodium, I started wracking my brain for a suitable herbal alternative. He was feeling pretty bad and needed quick relief, so whatever I came up with needed to be effective. I remembered that blackberry is a specific for this condition so off I went to pick some bright green, prickly leaves from the numerous bushes we have on our property.
I’ve read that all parts of the blackberry plant are good for intestinal troubles, but this was the first time I ever attempted to use it. My understanding is that the berries and/or their juice are best for constipation because of the fiber and moistening properties, while the leaf and root are best for diarrhea, due in large part to their astringency, with the root being the strongest in this regard. All parts of this plant have an affinity for the digestive tract and are especially healing to its tissues.
I’m noticing more and more that I am selecting medicinal herbs based on a combination of my reading of other herbalists along side a growing awareness of the plant’s particular personalities and a deeper intuitive understanding of their energetic properties as related to what’s going on in the body.
Here is what I was thinking as I prepared this medicine. When diarrhea occurs, the tissues are leaky and may be inflamed and irritated. Astringent herbs like blackberry tighten up the tissues. A rose family plant, blackberry is also cooling to inflamed tissues. I’m sure there are many other nutrients and active components working in synergy to produce its healing effect, but just this simple energetic framework was enough to help me be able to use it more confidently and intentionally.
If I had had blackberry root, I would have used that, since I wanted a strong, fast acting remedy. But no time to dig! Instead, I boiled the leaves I had gathered into a strong decoction. I took a sip myself and confirmed that it was indeed very astringent. I could feel the tissues in my mouth tighten and become drier on contact. There was no bitterness or sweetness, just a mild, green, astringent taste.
I felt hubby needed some mucilage to help heal the mucous lining of his stripped gut, so I threw in some dried linden leaf and flower (very mucilaginous and healing to the gut). I also added some dried yarrow to help deal with any creepy crawly bacteria that may be causing trouble, and to help clear some of the heat I saw flushing his face and neck (yarrow is great for addressing bacterial infections and fevers and for purifying the blood). I poured the boiling decoction over the linden and yarrow and let it steep for a few minutes before adding some honey. The yarrow added a bit of bitterness to the brew, also good for the gut.
“Here, drink this,” I said to hubby. ” I don’t care if you don’t like it. Just drink it. It is medicine.”
He did… and no more diarrhea since! Plus, I saved a trip to the store and the cost of Immodium, which would have just paralyzed his poor intestines and done nothing to heal them. I’ve been watching carefully to see if he needed a repeat dose, but so far, all is well. He feels great, no more heat in the face, and no more stomach cramping or diarrhea. Yay!
I’m picking more leaf to dry for winter use. I suspect the leaf tea may also be a good remedy for nausea and vomitting. This fall, when the energy of the plant has gone underground, I will dig a root and make some tincture. I believe the tincture will be even stronger and fast acting, and a little will go a long way.
Everybody needs a good diarrhea remedy in the cupboard. So far, I’m convinced this one can’t be beat.