Tree Medicine (how to decoct pain medicine)

My husband and I are reading Outlander by Diana Gabaldon together.  It has been recommended to me no less than a dozen times.  With our love of history, Celts, and plant medicines, it is no wonder.  We are enjoying it immensely.  However, I did find an error on page 116.

willow

It states that willow bark has salicylic acid in it which aspirin contains.  Wrong.  Willow bark contains salicin.  There’s not a smidge of willow left in aspirin.  When a plant cannot be patented (therefore not much money made) researchers, scientists, and the like take it to a lab to isolate the constituent that they feel is the reason it works.  Once you isolate a derivative you have a lab created version of the plant.  This happens in about every case of pharmaceuticals.  I know we have romanticized the idea of taking plants from the rainforest for their cancer fighting abilities.  You see, the problem is though, that if you change the constituent, you change the entire identity and spirit of the plant.  In short, you get side effects.  The plant in its natural state is the only way to obtain complete healing.  Salicylic acid is the lab created version of willow.  It causes stomach problems and bleeding issues but salicin does not.  There are no side effects to willow or the other trees that contain salicin. They are perfect medicine.

cotton

Anyways, off my podium.  We were hiking around beautiful lagoons yesterday.  My goodness it was a lovely day.  Not a soul around.  The sky blue like autumn, no clouds, the sea was a color that I have never seen.  Much like the Caribbean sea but with deep hints of celadon.  The breeze was warm and inviting as we crossed the shale to the water.  There in the water stood, with their feet gaily drenched, cottonwoods enjoying the warm day.  A branch had just recently been sawed off, for the pulp shavings of the branch were still fresh and I gathered them into my sweater.  Cottonwood is also an analgesic, like its friends the willow and poplar.

cottonwood

When gathering wood for medicine a downed branch is always nice because you are not affecting the tree at all.  Simply pull the outer layer off with a knife until you get to the pulp.  Shave this onto a blanket.  You will reach the impenetrable core which can be used as firewood.  The shavings can be prepared fresh or dried in a paper bag until need arises.

You will decoct tree medicines.  Simmer for 20 minutes.  A handful per quart or a full pinch per cup if it is quite fine and then only boil 5 minutes or so.  The salicin content makes it taste a bit chalky.  You can add 1 part chamomile, poppies, St. John’s Wort, lemon balm, or mint to strengthen or make tastier your medicine.

We have beautiful medicines at our shop and online at http://WhiteWolfHerbs.com should you like a lovely blend of our quite potent medicines.

Trees are such lovely creatures.  I am thankful for their medicine.

 

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