During our June herbalism course, we talked about ways to work with elements—earth, water, fire, air— in our healing practices. We explored the ways in which plants correspond with these elements, and various methods of working with medicine: teas, tinctures, herbal steams, baths, meditation, plant ally work, smoke blends, ritual, oils, salves and more. As always, we engaged our intuition and talked about the ways the following plants might be applied as medicine for our mind, body, spirit and soul.
Here’s a bit about the 5 healing herbs we received in our beautiful share from Sawmill Farms:
STINGING NETTLES Urtica Dioica
Nettles are a nutritional and medicinal powerhouse. Their sting lets us know they are a helpful ally for protection and maintaining personal boundaries. Nettles have shown promise in treating alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, allergies, asthma, bladder infections, bronchitis, bursitis, gingivitis, gout, hives, kidney stones, laryngitis, multiple sclerosis, PMS, prostate enlargement, sciatica, and tendinitis. Externally these healing plants are used to improve the appearance of the hair, and are said to delay greying. Rich in chlorophyll, nettles are also famous for providing sustained, caffeine-free energy and nourishing the entire system and kidneys; relieving adrenal burnout.
MULLEIN Verbascum thapsus
Mullein helps us stand tall, breathe deeply, speak our truth & listen. All parts of the plant offer an abundance of healing medicine. The leaves are the most commonly used part of the plant among the first remedies to be thought of in treating asthma, congestion and dry coughs. As an expectorant, mullein helps our lungs in expel mucous by loosening it from the walls of the lungs to be coughed up. A strong tea, the tincture, and even smoking the dried leaves can achieve this end. The doctrine of signatures states that plants often resemble or communicate their medicine to us. If we look at Mullien in it’s second year, we see a plant that stands tall with relaxed leaves along side it; perhaps helping us to stand tall and breathe deeply. It’s difficult to take a full deep breath if we’re collapsed into our chest.
CLEAVERS Gallium aparine
Helps us cleanse & let go.
A valuable diuretic that stimulates the lymphatic system. The fresh plant or juice of Cleavers herb is used as a medicinal poultice for wounds, ulcers and many other skin problems. An infusion has shown to benefit the treatment of glandular fever, tonsilitis, hepatitis and cystitis. The infusion is also used to treat liver, bladder and urinary problems. An alterative is an herb that gradually restores proper function to the body and increases overall health and vitality, and Cleavers may do so by promoting the ability of the body to eliminate waste through the main elimination channels of the kidneys, skin, liver, or lungs. It’s best to use cleavers as either a cold infusion (medicinal tea), tincture, fresh pressed juice, or as an infused oil for lymphatic massage.
ECHINACEA LEAF Echinacea Purpurea
Offers Protection. Rallies our internal troops to boost our immune system and speed healing.
The health benefits of echinacea include its ability to boost the immune system, prevent cancer, eliminate bacterial and viral infections, reduce inflammation, improve skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis, protect respiratory health, speed healing and recovery times, manage allergies, boost oral health, and prevent recurrent infections. Echinacea does more than stimulate T-cells, it also increases the production of white blood cells in the body, which are the main soldiers in the battle against illness going on in our bodies every day. The active chemical components in echinacea have been proven to reduce inflammation and the associate pain of that irritation. For this reason, echinacea is often recommended as a “cure-all” for aches and pains in the joints. The anti-inflammatory capacity of echinacea extends to the respiratory tracts, so for those who suffer from conditions like bronchitis, echinacea can help to reduce the irritation and mucus deposition in those tracts, thereby helping you to heal faster. Echinacea allows for various immune-boosting compounds to build up and remain in the body, altering the structure and reactivity of our immune system.
CHAMOMILE Marticaria recutita
These sweet, beautiful flowers made everyone happy… which gives a clue to its medicine.
Chamomile has been used for centuries in teas as a mild, relaxing sleep aid, treatment for fevers, colds, stomach ailments, and as an anti-inflammatory, to name only a few therapeutic uses. Chamomile may be used internally or externally. including antipeptic, antispasmodic, antipyretic, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-allergenic activity. Chamomile contains substances that act on the same parts of the brain and nervous system as anti-anxiety drugs. This flower’s mildly sedating and muscle-relaxing effects may help those who suffer from insomnia to fall asleep more easily. Other uses include treating eye inflammation and infection. Cooled chamomile tea can be used in a compress to help soothe tired, irritated eyes and it may even help treat conjunctivitis. Chamomile oil also has a calming effect and can be a great massage oil to induce sleep, soothe frayed nerves, and promote a general sense of peace.