A Spring Herb Walk with Sacred Owl School of Original Medicine

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Sunday was bright and just the right amount of warm.  We were like school girls tripping down the trail stopping every few minutes to look at new growth, smelling and tasting plants, and looking for snakes.  Laughter and stories fell around the group as we made our way down the meandering and winding path.

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Scrub oak is used in place of witch hazel for its astringency.

One of the classes from my school, Sacred Owl School of Original Medicine, went on a herb walk to Castlewood Canyon.  There weren’t a lot of things popping up this early but the spring tonics were showy and beautiful.  Some things that we tried to identify were small in their early spring infancy and we scoured the pages of the guide I brought.  A lot we couldn’t be sure, but promises of coming again later in the season, the fresh air, and the cold drinks and herb truffles the students had made, and resting at the end of the path made for a lovely day out of the classroom.

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Young yarrow leaves promise lots of beautiful white yarrow for circulatory, heart, and wound use.
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Dandelion may seem ordinary, or even obnoxious, but it is one of the best liver cleansers available.
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Currants, along with all berries, are very good for the kidneys, and the leaves are demulcent making them great for tummies, and uteruses!
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Dock (curly, burdock, or yellow) are all amazing medicines for cancer use, blood cleansing, and immunity.

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I highly recommend getting a nice, colorful guide for plants for your area and heading out onto a hiking trail.  That is medicine in itself!

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Class of Spring 2016!

For more information on my Master Herbalism program and my school, check out www.SacredOwlSchool.com

 

A Summer Herb Walk (and soothing liniment recipe)

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Now is a great time to take a summer herb walk.  Your first aid herbs await.  The skies have been so bright blue and warm and the evenings chilled with rain that the plants are overflowing with medicine and vigor.

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Our first stop is at the mullein plants.  This is one of our favorite herbs.  Every few days Doug and I head out to gather the yellow flowers from the top of the stalk which easily pop out in your fingers.  These are put in a paper lunch bag with a few holes punched in it that is clearly marked Mullein.  Herbs do tend to look alike once dried!

We use the mullein flowers for a couple of different things.  They are excellent for lungs.  They are anti-viral as well as soothing to the bronchial tract and the lining of the lungs.  They are invaluable in asthma remedies and in cold medicine.

They are also a mild pain reliever, especially excellent for animals and children.

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The leaves are very soft and when put in an extract or tea form it becomes gelatinous.  This effect is called demulcent and acts like a blanket, if you will.  Once consumed it helps cover nerve endings that are misfiring for pain (so a great supporting actor in pain medicines), used to settle the stomach and help with ulcers since it creates a covering over the lining of the stomach.  Similarly, it also creates a soothing lining on the lungs when a hacking cough arises.

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The humble Christmas pine tree holds in its boughs a myriad of medicines.  It is a strong pain reliever for strains, sprains, and breaks used topically and also speeds healing.

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Yarrow=Blood.  Should one fall whilst running through the woods on a fine summer day and obtains a wound will find yarrow to be most helpful.  Simply crush the flowers in the hand and apply to the wound to stop bleeding.

Yarrow stops bleeding externally whereas it keeps blood from clotting internally making it a fine heart medicine and ally in varicose vein and other blood related extracts including blood cleansing remedies.

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Yucca abounds and is a much desired component in any pain relieving remedy for internal or external use.  Yucca root is a wonderful anti-inflammatory.

The leaves and roots can be boiled to release the saponin which is essentially soap.  Taken internally as a tea or when used in extracts the saponin cleanses the organs and acts as a tonic while decreasing inflammation and pain from arthritis and other inflammatory diseases.

A Summer  Herb Liniment (for strains, sprains, and other aches and pains externally)

Combine in a one quart canning jar a piece of pine 4-6 inches long, 3-4 inches wide.  Just shove it in there.

Add a 3 inch long chunk of yucca root

Add 2 Tablespoons of mullein flowers and two smaller mullein leaves.

Add one head of yarrow

And one cup of mint.

These herbs can be dried or fresh.

Fill jar leaving one inch head space with vodka.  Replace lid and mark jar with ingredients and date.  Place in sunny window.  Liniment will be ready in 2 weeks.  Should you come across comfrey you can add that too and the liniment will help heal breaks in record time!  I do not strain the liniment.  The stronger the better.  The shelf life is forever thanks for the vodka!  Apply with a cotton ball or flat strips of an old cotton t-shirt.  This remedy can be used for animals as well as children and adults.

 

The Apothecary Garden

An Apothecary Garden is an important addition to any farm whether your plot is an apartment balcony or large acreage.  Herbs easily grow in pots on the porch or a south window in the house or in their own space in the garden.

IMG_0658 (Rosemary increases focus and memory)

Apothecary gardens have been a staple in every culture around the world for many, many centuries.  The religious leaders were generally the herbalists, medicine men, and healers of the village.  Herbs have amazing healing powers and are every bit as effective and much more safe than pharmaceuticals.  Herbalists have been known as healers since the beginning of mankind.  Sometimes these things are met with cynicism.  I know how to make a broken bone heal in two weeks.  Folks that aren’t aware of herbs are confused about this.  My own family stems back to the Salem witch hunts where many of my herbalist ancestors were burned at the stake.  Herbs are wondrous and miraculous, but met with confusion all the same.  My goal is to take the woohoo out of herbs.  They heal.  End of story. Now let’s get your Apothecary garden going!

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Peppermint is a staple everyone should have.  It is a mild pain reliever but its real job is in the digestive area.  It will calm an upset tummy, help stop heartburn, even heal stomach lining due to ulcers or colitis.  It is carminative, meaning it is anti-gas!  A cup of tea is delicious and with a little chamomile and ginger (which contain the same digestive properties) you will have a fine medicinal tea ready for the taking.

IMG_0657 (St. John’s Wort)

St. John’s Wort is becoming harder to find to grow, but if you can get it, grab it!  The pharmaceutical companies use a derivative of St. John’s Wort that is then lab created to make chronic pain medications and anti-depressants.  If you can change the structure of the constituent then you can patent it.  Can’t patent something God made up.  He was there first.  Therefore, you cannot make very much money peddling a plant.  Big pharma is after a bit more money than that.  Making a tea of St. John’s Wort flowers, leaves, and rose petals is every bit as strong as an anti-depressant/anxiety medication.  There are corporations out there that don’t want you to know that!

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Valerian is a beautiful plant that will get your sleep cycle back into a peaceful rhythm.  It is also an excellent pain reliever.  Add catnip and chamomile to go to sleep.  Add California Poppy and St. John’s Wort for an excellent sleep remedy.

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Stinging Nettles will stop allergies in three minutes flat.  Take care when harvesting them (they aren’t called Stinging for nothing!) and dry them in a paper sack.  Crumble them up and make tea with them.

Dandelions can be made into tea or salad to help heal the liver and gallbladder.

Red Clovers help with women’s health, uterine health, and breast and uterine cancer.

So the weeds that pop up in the garden are there for a reason too!

There are Apothecary gardens that are designed in a circle with paths leading north and south, west and east.  There are Apothecary gardens that have winding paths.  I turned the front three feet of my long front yard into our garden.  The left side is medicinal plants and the right side are culinary (which also have medicinal qualities) herbs.  One large section of the garden holds the Poppies and Calendula (great for skin when infused into oil) to inspire beneficial insects to the garden.  Pots of herbs line the porch and in the winter are brought in to line the window sills.

Head to the nursery and see what you can add to your garden.  Want to learn more and completely take charge of your family’s health?  Look up my correspondence classes for Certified and Master Herbalists and take control of your medicine! http://gardenfairyapothecary.com

I am also leading an herb walk and medicinal tea talk Sunday, June 30th from 10-12 at Castlewood Canyon.  Meet at the visitor’s center.  Their cost is $7.