Tuesday, October 16, 2012

What I did the last Months

 Summer round up.

Our summer here in Belgium was dreadful this year,  with little sunshine and lots of rain.Very bad for a little gardener, result...no harvest.
But the herbs grow with all this rain.
I managed to do,

-Elderflower tincture against hay fever
-Thyme tincture against acne
-St john's wort tincture

-Took nice pics of my roses

-Rose elixir

Take a jar and fill it with rose petals, poor,1/3 raw honey and 2/3 brandy,stirring to remove air bubbles.
Let sit for 3 to 6 weeks, shaking regularly.
You can use it internally in stressful situations. It is a mild nervine, calming without sedating.

-St john's wort oil with almond to use in ointment,
-St john's wort oil with olive oil for my inflamed shoulder,
-and double infused St john's wort oil with olive oil

-Lemon balm syrup

Instead of Lemon balm, Sage can also be used. 
Or for example,  Sage and Thyme soothes the throat.
Research suggests that Lemon balm promotes a calm and relaxed state of mind, wich is an important part of falling asleep.

All you need is,
Cane sugar or other
1 lemon squeezed and filtered
Fill a pot with lemon balm (I use a pot of 2 liters and fill it for three quarters)
Pour boiling water over and let stand about 3 hours with the lid closed.
I use about 800 ml water.
Then filter the liquid,add sugar and cook briefly,then add the filtered lemon.
Let it cook briefly(30 seconds),and pour into bottles immediately.
For about 800 ml of juice, I use 600 g sugar.

To drink, pour about 2 or 3 tablespoons in a cup and cover with boiling water. Or a bit more in a large cup. Keep an opened bottle in the fridge.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

St. John's Wort Oil & Catnip

St. John's Wort Oil
Traditionally, St. John’s Wort is harvested on St. John’s Day (June 24). However, harvesting can take place as early as the summer solstice or as late as the end of the month.

This wonderful red oil has been used historically to soothe sunburn and relieve nerve pain relating to repetitive motion injuries, strains and shingles.

Flowers, buds and some leaves are gathered during the flowering season. Leave them rest overnight. Put them in a clean jar and fill with olive oil. Make sure that al parts are covered with oil to avoid mould. Cover the lid of the jar with a muslin, so moisture can evaporates. Leave for 4 till 6 weeks and then strain with cheesecloth or filter it through a coffee filter.
Actually I prefer to work with dried herbs, because they don't cause mold.

Please note that St. John's Wort Infused oil has none of the anti-depressant effect of the herbal extract. The Hypericum, used to treat anxiety and depression does not come through the infusion process.


Is harvested at peak potency from my garden. Put leaves and stems in a clean jar and fill with vodka, leave for a minimum of six weeks and strain.

Catnip (Nepeta cataria) has been used historically as a mild tranquilizer that helps relieve stress and stimulate the appetite. Catnip herb has also been used to treat anxiety, colds, flu, fever, inflammation, and general aches and pains. This cat‚’s fancy has also been shown to be effective as a mosquito and insect repellent.

It is also used with restlessness, nervous irritation, nervous headaches, insomnia, amenorrhea and dysmenorrhea.

Caution: Not recommended for use during pregnancy or lactation.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Elderflower liqueur

Take a big bowl - stuffing with elderberry blossoms and 3 sliced lemons - pouring cold water and cover with a plate to keep everything under water - 48 hours later - pour everything through a muslin or filter - take 1L juice and 333gr sugar (I use raw cane sugar) - cook together - let it cool down, then add 500 gr gin and pour into bottles.
Drink ice cold :)

Monday, May 28, 2012

The Herbs I want to use.

Now is the time to start thinking about what I may need both for the coming summer and winter. Which conditions may I need to treat? Which herbs do I need to dry, which oils should I be making, which flower waters, tinctures or vinegars can I make fresh now? What would be good to make just for the fun of it?

St John's Wort

Back and shoulder pain:
St John's Wort oil


Thyme tincture

Stress, Anxiety:
Catnip tincture

Hay fever
Nettle tincture

Stomach ache:
Mint, Chamomile, Lemon balm and Thyme syrup

Sore trouth:
Sage and Thyme syrup

Increase resistance:
Elderberries syrup

Elderflower and Sage syrup

Cough syrup:
Ribwort syrup

Wounds and scratches:
St John's Wort, Thyme and Rosemary ointment

Dry chapped skin
Calendula ointment

Comfrey ointment

For the fun
Dandelion syrup
Shampoo & Conditioner
Chive oil for the kitchen

For making the infused oils, I'll dry all the herbs, to avoid mold.
For the tinctures I'll use fresh herbs.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

May task list.

Theoretical task: The reproductive system Year 1: Research the human reproductive system, either male or female. If studying female anatomy and physiology, choose either a) age 15-45 or b)45 +. Consider which herbs can be useful during your chosen age group looking at (i) herbs for fertility and PMS or (ii) menopause. Consider which herbs can be used across all age groups.

Female Reproductive System Produces eggs (ova) Secretes sex hormones Receives the male spermatazoa during Protects and nourishes the fertilized egg until it is fully developed Delivers fetus through birth canal Provides nourishment to the baby through milk secreted by mammary glands in the breast.

Menopause is the physiological cessation of menstrual cycles associated with advancing age. Menopause is sometimes referred to as "the change of life" or climacteric. Menopause occurs as the ovaries stop producing estrogen, causing the reproductive system to gradually shut down. As the body adapts to the changing levels of natural hormones, vasomotor symptoms such as hot flashes and palpitations, psychological symptoms such as increased depression, anxiety, irritability, mood swings and lack of concentration, and atrophic symptoms such as vaginal dryness and urgency of urination appear. Together with these symptoms, the woman may also have increasingly scanty and erratic menstrual periods. Technically, menopause refers to the cessation of menses; the gradual process through which this occurs, which typically takes a year but may last as little as six months or more than five years, is known as climacteric. A natural or physiological menopause is that which occurs as a part of a woman's normal aging process. However, menopause can be surgically induced by such procedures as hysterectomy. The average onset of menopause is 50.5 years, but some women enter menopause at a younger age, especially if they have suffered from cancer or another serious illness and undergone chemotherapy. Premature menopause is defined as menopause occurring before the age of 40, and occurs in 1% of women. Other causes of premature menopause include autoimmune disorders, thyroid disease, and diabetes mellitus. Premature menopause is diagnosed by measuring the levels of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH). The levels of these hormones will be higher if menopause has occurred. Rates of premature menopause have been found to be significantly higher in both fraternal and identical twins; approximately 5% of twins reach menopause before the age of 40. The reasons for this are not completely understood. Post-menopausal women are at increased risk of osteoporosis.

Night sweats - how to help yourself
There are a number of factors that can make the problem of night sweats worse:

It is obvious that night sweats are made worse in a warm bedroom. Turn off the central heating, open the window and bring out the lighter duvet
Night sweats can be triggered by sudden changes in temperature
Avoid hot drinks, caffeine and red wine at night
Avoid chocolate, refined or spicy foods
Avoid becoming dehydrated by drinking plenty of water
Smoking can make night sweats worse
Emotional upset and stress increases adrenaline levels, making your sweat glands work harder
Using an extract of sage such as Sage tablets can provide relief from excessive sweating and night sweats

Perimenopause refers to the time preceding menopause, during which the production of hormones such as estrogen and progesterone diminish and become more irregular. During this period fertility diminishes. Menopause is arbitrarily defined as a minimum of twelve months without menstruation. Perimenopause can begin as early as age 35, although it usually begins much later. It can last for a few months or for several years. The duration of perimenopause cannot be predicted in advance.

Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) It is common for women to experience some discomfort in the days leading up to their periods. PMS usually is at its worst the seven days before a period starts and can continue through the end of the period. PMS includes both physical and emotional symptoms: acne, bloating, fatigue, backaches, sore breasts, headaches, constipation, diarrhea, food cravings, depression, irritability, difficulty concentrating or handling stress.

Recommended Herbs For Infertility
Red Clover Blossom,is a most useful herb in transforming infertility and problems with endometriosis. This herb is very valuable to the uterus due to it's high vitamin and protein content. It is also high in calcium and magnesium which relax the nervous system and help promote fertility.

Flaxseed Oil,has wonderful benefits for men and women trying to conceive. Flax Seed Oil contains omega-6 and omega-9 essential fatty acids, B vitamins, potassium, lecithin, magnesium, fibre, protein, zinc and is considered to be nature's richest source of omega-3 fatty acids. Nearly every system in the body can benefit from flax seed oil's natural properties including the reproductive system. For women, it help stabilize a woman's estrogen-progesterone, improve uterine function and thus treat fertility problems. Flaxseed oil is a great herbal supplement to consider taking when trying to promote fertility.

Dong Quai,is extremely popular with women in Asian societies. It has been used as a health tonic for many generations. In particular, dong quai has been used for the health of the reproductive system in females by regulating menstrual cycles and improving the overall health of the uterus. Women with endometriosis find significant relief of their pain when taking dong quai, especially when mixed with the herb chasteberry, black cohosh or ginseng.

Chasteberry, also well known as Vitex is a very popular fertility herb made popular by the Europeans. Chasteberry is often used to regulate hormonal imbalances and can be especially beneficial when dealing with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOC). If you are dealing with irregular menstrual cycles, acne, excess hair growth or weight gain in addition to infertility, this herb for infertility is recommended to help regulate ovulation and overall hormonal balance.

Red Raspberry Leaf has a highly nutritive ingredient which aids in its ability to tone the uterus and muscles of the pelvic region. Red Raspberry is a powerful fertility-promoting herb, especially when used in combination with Peppermint which has the added benefit of serving as a sexual stimulant!

Fennel ,works as an aphrodisiac for women. The key to its reputation as an aphrodisiac lies in the fact that the plant contains compounds that are similar to the female hormone estrogen. This estrogen-like substance (phytoestrogen) is know to boost the female libido, alleviate several types of gynaecological disorders, encourage menstruation for women suffering irregular periods and help PMS-related symptoms. Besides working to enhance a your libido, fennel is packed with valuable nutrients essential for building up immunity and the proper functioning of all systems of the body including the sex organs.

In addition to the herbs mentioned above, Nettle Leaves, False Unicorn Root, Green Tea, Black Cohosh, Evening Primrose Oil and Ginseng are herbs also used for infertility issues.

Practical Task: Preserving your herbs Now is the time to start thinking about what you may need both for the coming summer and winter. Which conditions may you need to treat? What would be good to make just for the fun of it? Which herbs to you need to dry, which oils should you be making, which flower waters, tinctures or vinegars can you make fresh now?

Your herbal ally Continue with your tasks as set out last month.

Seasonal task Make a dogrose petal and leaf vinegar and/or elixir. Gather rose petals to dry and to make tincture. Make as many different elderflower products as you can. (eg dried, fritters, double infused oil, cordial, water, tincture, elixir, honey, vinegar and champagne!)

Observational task Notice which plants around you are flowering. Choose somewhere with a large patch of flowers e.g. bush/tree etc. Count how many different insects spend time with the flowers. Identify as many different species of bees as you can. How do they gather the nectar and pollen? Where do they enter the flower?

A blog article I wanted to share.

Learning about our plants around us that are being bottled for commercial uses of healing

I have this article from http://practicalherbalismgoldenrod.blogspot.com

"Like so much in this consumerist society, it is easy to ignore the connections between a bottle on a shelf in some store and a living, growing plant out in the world somewhere. It can be hard to know if the plant grows a mile away or on another continent. There is much to be said for reconnecting, for educating ourselves about the herbs we use and gathering our own medicine when we can. That's how we will be able to build a whole new system of healing--one that can support our movement away from the corporate power structure that medicine has become."

When I was last sick, I was just getting into (and still am) the studies of Plants and Herbs I was finding on my own Land -- and since I didn't know much yet of what is growing here and still learning about what is and each of their Medicinal Properties, I wanted to purchase something that I heard was good for building my Immunity System back up while at the same time using the old-fashioned remedies I'd grown up with from my mother for helping to aide in keeping the buggies away.

I'd seen many times the plant of Echinacea, and had been doing a little research on it since I didn't have any growing on my and or close by -- and decided to purchase a bottle of its capsules. I used them regularly for about 7 days, and noticed the changes and aide it helped in ailing me back to my healthy non-sick being again.

It had done wonders for me! And I was thinking about afterwards how many of these Commercial Bottles of this plant there were for sale in stores -- then how many of these precious plants in the world where the substances came from were used in creating this medicine, which obviously, there are a whole heck of a lot of Echinacea flowers used in making this product!

I thought to myself, well, since this has worked for me in healing myself back to health, it would be a good time in starting to learn again more intensively about it -- and look into growing it on my OWN LAND since there are no Echinacea around me. Not only would I learn about its preservalence, but it would in turn bring natural beauty to the Land itself, and only be harvested and needed in times where it could be useful in having on-hand with other medicines I've made from the plants/herbs in my yard.

Blessings and Love to my friend, dear Susan Ventura, for bringing this site back to my attention again...bonus! There are a lot of good reading and information for those who haven't seen this site before, and the articles are substantially a great learning tool for those in the Bioregional Field of Animism. May the learning and living of plants and herbs live on!!!

)O( Indigenous Shamanic Winds xo

Monday, March 19, 2012

The garden in March

The garden at the beginning of March

Sage - Lavender - Catnip - Thyme

Confrey - St J W - Calendula - Lemon balm

Daffodils - the garden March 19 - Lesser celandine - Daffodils - Comfrey - thinnings of Birch

Harvesting Rosemary and made a double infused oil.

Made a salve for wounds with equal parts of double infused Rosemary, St J W and Thymus oil.

Cleaned up the garden and the herb beds.

Nettles - sprout buds of the Elder tree - Comfrey and Chamomile

Monday, February 27, 2012

Rosehip honey, Rosehips and Hibiscus syrup

Filter the rosehip honey.

Rosehip-Hibiscus syrup
The rose hips that I filtered out the honey I reused to make the rosehip and hibiscus syrup. I've added new rosehips and hibiscus. Poured boiling water over the rosehips and hibiscus and left it in the pan for two hour. Now you have a very strong tea, but one you can't drink.

Than filter everything out and add the sugar.
300cl tea
300gr cane sugar
Let it simmer for about 2 a 3 minutes and pour in bottles.

Winter-sowing in jugs.
A little late, but...
It's the first time I did this.
Cut the jugs in two and punch some holes in the bottem for drainage. Throw some soil in and sowe the seeds you want. Moisten the soil a bit and tape the jugs back together.

Remove the caps, the opening of the jug permits ventilation, but also the necessary entry of rain.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Theoretical Task February

Walk around your 'harvesting space' (this may be your garden, a local park, field, hedgerows, allotment, canalside etc) and identify what plants are growing. If you can find them, pick and make tea with cleavers, chickweed and young nettles. If you can gather enough, add chickweed to a salad or stir-fry and make an oil and/or salve. With nettles make an iron tonic and/or soup. Make sure the area you are picking from is not frequented by dog walkers and rinse your harvest thoroughly before eating/cooking.

Theoretical task
Research the function of blood and skin, looking particularly at why people develop acne and eczema. What herbs could be used to help control and alleviate these conditions?

Function of blood
Blood has three main functions: transport, protection and regulation.

Blood transports the following substances:
Gases, namely oxygen (O2) and carbon dioxide (CO2), between the lungs and rest of the body
Nutrients from the digestive tract and storage sites to the rest of the body
Waste products to be detoxified or removed by the liver and kidneys
Hormones from the glands in which they are produced to their target cells
Heat to the skin so as to help regulate body temperature

Blood has several roles in inflammation:
Leukocytes, or white blood cells, destroy invading microorganisms and cancer cells
Antibodies and other proteins destroy pathogenic substances
Platelet factors initiate blood clotting and help minimise blood loss

Blood helps regulate:
pH by interacting with acids and bases
Water balance by transferring water to and from tissues

Function of the skin
The primary function of the skin is to act as a barrier. The skin provides protection from: mechanical impacts and pressure, variations in temperature, micro-organisms, radiation and chemicals.
The skin is an organ of regulation. The skin regulates several aspects of physiology, including: body temperature via sweat and hair, and changes in peripheral circulation and fluid balance via sweat. It also acts as a reservoir for the synthesis of Vitamin D.
The skin is an organ of sensation. The skin contains an extensive network of nerve cells that detect and relay changes in the environment. There are separate receptors for heat, cold, touch, and pain. Damage to these nerve cells is known as neuropathy, which results in a loss of sensation in the affected areas. Patients with neuropathy may not feel pain when they suffer injury, increasing the risk of severe wounding or the worsening of an existing wound.http://www.clinimed.co.uk/Wound-Care/Education/Wound-Essentials/Structure-and-Function-of-the-Skin.aspx

What causes acne
No one factor causes acne. Acne happens when sebaceous (oil) glands attached to the hair follicles are stimulated at the time of puberty by elevated levels of male hormones. Sebum (oil) is a natural substance which lubricates and protects the skin. Associated with increased oil production is a change in the manner in which the skin cells mature so that they are predisposed to clog the follicular openings or pores. The clogged hair follicle gradually enlarges, producing a bump. As the follicle enlarges, the wall may rupture, allowing irritating substances and normal skin bacteria access into the deeper layers of the skin, ultimately producing inflammation.
Inflammation near the skin's surface produces a pustule; deeper inflammation results in a papule (pimple); deeper still and it's a cyst. If the oil breaks though to the surface, the result is a "whitehead." If the oil accumulates melanin pigment or becomes oxidized, the oil changes from white to black, and the result is a "blackhead." Blackheads are therefore not dirt and do not reflect poor hygiene.

Specific Herbs for Acne
ALOE GEL has astringent & antibacterial properties and is applied topically.
CALENDULA promotes healing of skin tissue. You can make a strong infusion of this herb and use as a facial was or steam. It is also available in creams.
LAVENDER compresses are used to relieve inflammation.
ROSEWATER is applied topically for pain & inflammation.
TEA TREE OIL is a powerful antiseptic but must be diluted before applying to skin.
WALNUT LEAF is a useful astringent skin wash.
WITCH HAZEL has antibacterial & astringent properties.
ECHINACEA tincture taken internally promotes healing, reduces inflammation.
GOLDENSEAL is an antimicrobial which stops oozing.

Another common cause of outbreaks is a sluggish liver. When the liver is not functioning optimally it cannot clear excess hormones. When trying to clear acne it is important to balance the hormones and cleanse the liver.

BURDOCK ROOT and DANDELION contain insulin which improves the skin by removing bacteria.
MILK THISTLE is the most commonly used herb for cleansing and strengthening the liver. It also helps remove excess hormones through the stool by stimulating bile production.

Traditionally this condition has responded well to a combination of herbs.
When treating acne it is important to take a two-fold approach:
Internally and Topically
Generally speaking, just treating the skin topically does not address the internal causes of acne and skin eruptions.
Internally, a good combination for cleansing the liver and blood would be a tincture of MILK THISTLE and DANDELION. The traditional dosage is 30 drops in a little water 3 times daily.
Topically, you can combine any number of herbs such as CALENDULA, LAVENDER, TEA TREE OIL, WITCH HAZEL and ROSEWATER, depending on the specific condition of your skin.

What are the causes of eczema
Doctors do not know the exact cause of eczema, but a defect of the skin that impairs its function as a barrier, possibly combined with an abnormal function of the immune system, are believed to be important factors. Studies have shown that in people with atopic dermatitis there are gene defects that lead to abnormalities in certain proteins (such as filaggrin) that are important in maintaining the barrier of normal skin.

Some forms of eczema can be triggered by substances that come in contact with the skin, such as soaps, cosmetics, clothing, detergents, jewelry, or sweat. Environmental allergens (substances that cause allergic reactions) may also cause outbreaks of eczema. Changes in temperature or humidity, or even psychological stress, can lead to outbreaks of eczema in some people.http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/hp.asp

Eczema herbal remedy
Aloe Vera
The Aloe Vera plant has been used for centuries for a variety of skin conditions including burns and dryness. In fact, you will most likely find it as an ingredient in your favorite skin care product. So why is aloe vera an effective eczema herbal treatment? For one, aloe vera contains complex sugars, called polysaccharides, that naturally moisturize and hydrate the skin. Aloe also helps to kill bacteria, as well as increase oxygen availability to the skin cells. Aloe vera is also great for soothing irritated skin and prevent future infections.
You can find many topical products that contain aloe vera, but the best source is from the plant itself. To use, simply cut a leaf from the plant, and directly apply the gel to the skin. With time, Aloe vera will help to reduce eczema symptoms and improve the skin’s overall quality.

Turmeric is a powerful Indian herb that is used for both cooking and medicine. Curcumin, The active ingredient in turmeric, is an anti-inflammatory agent that can help to lower histamine production in the body. Turmeric also contains anti-oxidant properties that will help the skin maintain a youthful appearance.
Turmeric as an herbal remedy for eczema can be used internally and externally. Turmeric spice is readily available at almost any grocery store, and adding it to your meals may prove to be beneficial. Alternatively, you can find turmeric as a supplement at natural food stores. Create a topical treatment by making a paste mixing turmeric powder. Apply the paste to the affected areas and rinse with warm water.

Chamomile is one of the most popular eczema herbal treatments. The German and Roman chamomile varieties are the most commonly known plants; Germain chamomile is the most commonly used plant used a an eczema herbal remedy. Chamomile contains a compound called alpha bisabolol, an anti-inflammatory and anti-itching ingredient.
Chamomile is a topical treatment and can be found in essential oil and herb form. Chamomile oil, diluted with a carrier oil such as almond, can be directly applied to the skin. Adding chamomile herbs or flowers can be added to a warm bath to soothe itching and inflammation.

Witch Hazel
Originating from North America, witch hazel is a potent herb that has been used for conditions such as hemorrhoids and cold sores. Witch hazel is also a good eczema natural remedy, due to its astringent and anti-inflammatory properties.
Tea is a very popular way for administering witch hazel. To create a witch hazel tea, add 2 to 3 grams of witch hazel leaves to boiling water for about 15 minutes. Witch hazel tea can be taken two to three times a day. You can also find witch hazel in liquid form at any drug store. Bottled witch hazel can be applied to eczema problem areas as well.

Rosemary is one of the best eczema natural remedies because of its antiseptic and antioxidant properties. Rosemary is known for reducing skin inflammation and stimulating blood circulation. Rosemary also has a powerful aroma that helps to relieve stress.
Rosemary is available as an essential oil, oil capsules, and teas. The best way to use rosemary for eczema is by adding a few drops of oil to bathwater and soak. You can also opt to use topical creams and/or cleansers that has rosemary as an ingredient. Rosemary is also a uterine stimulant, so it should be avoided during pregnancy.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Using Elder bark

How do I see the elder tree?
As a child I spent much time with my grandparents. In the chiken yard (wich was huge) was a large elder tree. I remember that I always played unther this tree.
Previously you could find elder at any yard and allong any field tracks, but not anymore.

I have been in the wood to locate elder in my village, I found several trees and took photos.
Some are small trees and others are large shrubs.

The thick branches are grey, but the thinner twigs are more green.

Here in Belgium, partly due to the mild winter there are already buts on the branches.

I took a few twigs home, stripped of the bark and cut into small pieces. Thrown everything into a bowl and topped with olive oil. Then I put the half into a double boiler for about 2 hours and then strained. Then poured the oil over the new bark and again infused for 2 hours.

Poured it through a filter and then into a clean bottle.
Double infused elder bark oil

Making a bruise salve out of the oil.
Using the double boiler method again.
I heated the double infused elder bark oil in a pan and melted the beeswax in the oil.
My friend Leslie told me to to use 1 part beeswax to 8 parts oil.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Theoretical Task - Januari

Research the structure and function of skin. How does a bruise form? What other herbs can be used to help bruises?
The skin is one of the largest organs in the body.
The skin consists of three layers: the epidermis and the dermis. Beneath the dermis lies the hypodermis or subcutaneous fatty tissue.
The skin has three main functions: protection, regulation and sensation. Wounding affects all the functions of the skin.

The skin is an organ of protection. The primary function of the skin is to act as a barrier. The skin provides protection from: mechanical impacts and pressure, variations in temperature, micro-organisms, radiation and chemicals.

The skin is an organ of regulation. The skin regulates several aspects of physiology, including: body temperature via sweat and hair, and changes in peripheral circulation and fluid balance via sweat. It also acts as a reservoir for the synthesis of Vitamin D.

The skin is an organ of sensation. The skin contains an extensive network of nerve cells that detect and relay changes in the environment. There are separate receptors for heat, cold, touch, and pain. Damage to these nerve cells is known as neuropathy, which results in a loss of sensation in the affected areas.
(Sourse: http://www.clinimed.co.uk/Wound-Care/Education/Wound-Essentials/Structure-and-Function-of-the-Skin.aspx)

How does a bruise form?
what causes your skin to turn back and blue?
Basically, a bruise, or contusion, as it's referred to in the medical world, appears when blood vessels break due to a blow to the skin. Blood leaks out of these vessels resulting in a red, purple or black mark on your skin. Sometimes your skin can become raised when the blood from these vessels leaks into the surrounding tissues. In most healthy individuals, your body eventually will reabsorb the blood, and the bruise will disappear. In general, the harder your bump or blow, the larger your bruise will be, and arms and legs are the most typical areas for bruises.
(Sourse: http://health.howstuffworks.com/skin-care/problems/beauty/bruise.htm)

What other herbs can be used to help bruises
Comfrey, Witch hazel, Calendula, Parsley, light massage, and herbs like Arnica can increasethe blood flow and help to heal the area.

To be continued

Friday, January 6, 2012

Finding a herbal ally

Finding a herbal ally
(taken from Kristine Brown’s blog Dancing in a Field of Tansy http://fieldoftansy.blogspot.com/2010/12/herbal-ally.html )

The idea of a herbal ally comes from Gail Faith Edwards in her book, “Opening our wild hearts to the healing herbs” She says
"Pick a new plant each year to focus on. Be sure to grow the plant, or meet it in the wild, observe it, make different medicines and foods with it, use it in many ways, consume it regularly, or use as applicable as often as possible, and constantly observe. Noting all you observe. Keeping your own notes is critically important. Learn to meditate with plants. Learn to take care of them, learn to process and use them, one by one. Fall in love with each and every plant you work with, one by one. Recognize the living being there, the spirit of the plant. Respect its power. Open your wild heart to it."
Susan Weed suggests “Choose a plant that grows very near to you ... no more than a one-minute walk from your door. You don't need to know the name of the plant, or anything about it. You will be sitting with your plant every day, so, if possible, choose one that grows in a quiet and lovely place ... in a pot on your balcony is just fine ... in a park is great ... so is an alley ... or a backyard. "

My herbal ally - The Rose

Herbal Ally Tasks January-March 2012
1. Consider your ally ion its dormant state. If you can see/visit it – sketch what you observe or take pictures. Does it need pruning/sheltering from possible frosts? Does it still have leaves or fruit attached? Are you going to grow it yourself? Where are you going to source it from? Are you going to buy/beg plants/grow from seed?
2. Obtain some dried form of your ally and take yourself a tea once a day for one week and notice taste/flavour/effects on you.
3. What did ancient herbalists use your ally for? How did they prepare it? Check Culpepper, Galen, Avicenna, Hildegarde of Bingen, 16th, 17th, 18 and 19th century writers. (Hint: Maud Grieve and Matthew Wood give good summaries of older herbalists). Don’t forget Scudder, Ellingwood and King on Henriette Kress’ and Paul Bergner’s websites.
4. If you are going to plant your ally, prepare the ground and decide on and plan your planting scheme and plant your seeds. Take careful note of how long seeds take to germinate in what growing conditions and how long they take to acquire two “real” leaves. Pot on.
5. Research modern/current usage of your ally. Check if there is any difference between UK/Us/European usage (or TCM/Ayuvedic/Western)
6. If your ally has bark, consider removing bark from prunings and either drying/tincturing, make tea or syrup or doubly infuse in oil. (Make sure the bark is suitable for internal ingestion first!).
7. Spend time with your ally during its dormant state – ask what it would like to teach you over the coming year.

January Task List

Practical Task: Recognising winter trees and harvesting bark.
Year 1: Find and map all the hawthorn, elder trees and wild rose bushes in a one mile radius from where you live. Notice the shape of the tree/bush and any different colorations/lichen growth on different sides of the tree/bush.
Identify whether the rose bush is a dog rose, briar rose or rosa rugosa. Cut some elder twigs and peel off the bark. Use this bark to make a double infused bruise salve.
If you have time and inclination, sandpaper the white elder twigs until smooth, then cut into 1cm/1/2” sections, remove the pith and thread on ribbon, string or elastic to make a necklace or bracelet. You could also make a hawthorn wand/meditation stick if you have time. (See http://kitchenherbwife.blogspot.com/2011/11/working-with-wood.html for instructions)

Theoretical Task
Year 1: Research the structure and function of skin. How does a bruise form? What other herbs can be used to help bruises?

Year 2: a) Research the structure of human blood cells. How does horsechestnut help to strengthen them?

Herbal terminology
Research and note the meaning of the following terms: expectorant, astringent and bitter.
Seasonal task: If you haven’t already done so, collect rosehips and sloes to make a single syrup or combination syrup flavoured either with lemon or spices and/or make a rosehip honey. (recipes are on my blog). At the end of the month, source and make a Seville orange bitter http://kitchenherbwife.blogspot.com/2010/01/citric-bitters.html

Monday, January 2, 2012

My first task is to select 20 herbs to study throughout this year

We were asked to give their common name and the latin name.

Marigold Calendula officinalis
Chamomile chamomilla officinalis
Comfrey Symphytum officinale
Dandelion Taraxacum officinale
Elder Sambucus Nigra
Horehound Marrubiumvugare
Lavender Lavandula officinalis
Lemon balm Melissa officinalis
Mint Mentha longifolia
Catnip Nepeta cataria
Nettle Urtica dioica
Rosemary Rosmarinus officinalis
Sage Salvia officinalis
St Johns Worth Hypericum perforatum
Thyme Thymus Vulgaris
Lime Tilia
Vervain Verbena officinalis
Pancy Viola tricolor

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Hello Everyone!

Hello all,
my name is Rita, I'm living in Belgium with my daughter and son, 4 dogs, 2 cats and some chickens. I love to work in the garden, I have two raised herb beds and a lot of flowers. I am so glad I'm in the apprenticeship. I love to do things with herbals, to make thea, sirups and suchlike...

I look forward to getting to know you all, best wishes for the New Year!