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.

 

How to Make Ear Drops

ear drops

Shyanne often had ear aches when she was little.  A lot of children do.  Ear infections, ear aches, swimmer’s ear, and in dogs and cats we have yeast infections and ear mites.  One single ear drop can take care of it all.

Take 1 clove of garlic (more is not better) sliced in half and combine with 1/2 cup of olive oil in a sauce pan.  If you have a willow tree, take some of the leaves or a 1/2 inch twig.  If you have mullein flowers, use those.  If you have a health food store you can pick up willow bark or you can purchase it online.  Use about 2 teaspoons.

Now over medium-low heat gently shake the pan every minute or so to keep the oil from burning.  Do this for 20 minutes until the smell of garlic is evident.  Cool and use a cotton ball, cotton swab, or dropper to administer a few drops in affected ear.

Or, work ahead of time.  Add all ingredients into a half pint jar and place in sunny window for two weeks.  Done.

This little concoction can save you in the middle of the night with a screaming baby or hundreds of dollars at the vet with a dog who won’t stop scratching his ears!

So simple.  So effective.

 

Wild Food and Medicine

herb walk

Yesterday the amazing women in my herbalism course took an herb walk around the property to see what was in bloom now.  The skeletons of many herbal medicines and bushes stood stark still but the life was brimming around their bases.  We could see Artemisia, Lady Sage, used to regulate periods, and Yucca, also called Soapwort, which contains saponin.  The leaves are boiled to make soap and the root is one of the best anti-inflammatories I know of.  There were many pain relievers and liver tonics to be harvested.  Almost like nature knew that after a long winter of meat and wine to keep warm (and the deplorable lack of fresh vegetables!) that our livers and organs would appreciate a bit of a cleansing.  Dandelions waited to be made into teas and salads and tinctures.  Motherwort and lungwort sprang to life in my garden.  And knowing that we would be sore this time of year with all the work spring brings, cleaning, planting, birthing, mucking, building, the willow bark, cottonwood barks, and pine needles stood at the ready for relief.  Ready for salves and tinctures.

herb garden

Along with the medicines that were available, the herb garden was put in yesterday morning.  It looks quaint now but by July the bed will be raucous with life, bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, riotous herbs reaching their hands up and color splashes worthy of any palette.  Antibiotic herbs mixed with digestive herbs mixed with herbs for risotto.  It is close to the kitchen and will create a lovely backdrop to outdoor cooking.  The ducklings became all of a sudden quite brave and marched past me and my helper and took a ginormous bite out of a basil plant!  I shall have to locate some small fencing.

scrozonera salsify

After the pantry began to empty its contents in wintery meals I became quite disenchanted with green beans, and carrots, and beets, and the like.  Lord, I need variety.  This year I spread my wings and planted new items for us like parsnips and rutabagas.  Okra, arugula, mustard.  Other interesting food crops like scorzonera joined the masses.  A carrot-like tap root with medicinal flowers.  Yesterday I made a large batch of Ragu and will can the rest of what we didn’t eat.  Food is everywhere, I just need to be mindful to find it in the wild, try new things, and not let things go to waste!

beltane

I am thankful for this lifestyle.  We are fiercely in tune with weather patterns, beautiful natural events, and the seasons of life here.  More and more fear disappears as I look out on all the food and medicine the Creator provided for us.  May 1st was Beltane.  A lovely agricultural celebration of the renewal of life and of Mother Earth.  And may we all find renewal and peace as well.