Nobility and wisdom of Spruce

A tall and noble tree, which likes to live friendly with other trees of the same species, this is Spruce (Picea abies). Despite of its vulnerability to pests and regardless of the softness of its wood, Spruce is kind of forest’s High Priest.

Spruce belongs to the old trees, whose original homeland is Europe, especially its mountains and foothills. It seems to me, that the higher positions give to Spruce its natural overlook. Spruces domesticated in lower areas are somehow impoverished.

Spruce is tall and spiky, but not proud. It has always willingly offered wood and cones to people for heating and later also for industrial processing. It was people, who became proud and greedy, so they almost devastated some locations.

My most striking experience with Spruce is a few years old, but still very vivid in my mind. I spent holiday with friends in local mountains and all the roads were lined with spruces. Their branches rumbled in the wind and kept whispering me: Don’t forget your nobility, don’t forget your nobility. And the more I defended myself from listening, the more loudly they called.

When I finally opened my heart to their message, I realized that nobility doesn’t mean pride. It was more like: Stop to underestimate yourself! It is not a shame to be soft and vulnerable because this is exactly what spruces are. It is important to take and use benefits that sensitivity brings. You cannot make oak from what was born as a spruce.

I also realized that I can happily live with all my opposites. I don’t have to choose between them. Like Spruce, I can enjoy the juicy sweetness of the young and inexperienced shoots, being protected by sharp prickness of the old needles. It’s important to learn how to merge the opposites or let them live side by side.

And then, one of those old and spiky spruces gave me a very personal advice on the level of a real high priest: Stay in your heart, you will find there everything what you need. And try to merge the wisdom of desert with the wisdom of forest.

And so I do.

With love, Ivana

Elderflower Princess

At these days, my small flat is full of Elderflowers’ intensive scent and it’s almost impossible to think about anything else. In my place it’s the harvesting season now!

Elder (Sambucus nigra) grows in low-end soils, but it’s the queen among the medicinal plants. I believe that mainly fruits represent the royal majesty. Inside of red-black elderberries I feel some kind of essential truth of life. Eating elderberry products it’s like pumping the spark of life with all its wisdom directly into blood.

But now, it’s the elderflower season. The queen is still very young, not enough experienced. Its beautiful white-yellow head is proudly erected, attracting bees to come and sharing potential with them. It is a cheerful princess, which cannot deny its royal origin.

Like most children, this princess likes sugar. Elderflower Princess goes with sugar even fresh, making in few days’ lovely and delicious syrup. It perfectly fits for both, summer refreshments and winter colds. And because of its healing majesty you get extra bonus for lungs and respiratory system.

There are huge amount of recipes how to use Elderflower in many ways. Recently, I was pleased to verify, that my Elderflower herbal soap successfully cares for some kinds of eczema skin. So I need to prepare much more of it!

I would appreciate if you share some tips or comments for Elderflower Princess.

With love, Ivana

Playing trumpets: Glechoma hederacea

Today’s plant belongs to beautiful spring ones, which you can find in wet forest or meadow, mostly in lowlands. Where it’s happy it can become a difficult weed.

You can recognize it easily if in bloom and this luckily takes a long time, even two months or so. Looking at the flowers, I always see proud blue-violet trumpets calling “Here we are!”

In case you are looking for details, the trumpet’s bloom has lips, which is a typical sign of the family Lamiaceae. But I prefer to stay with trumpets as they are helping to memorized which the plant is for. I mean the whole plant, not only the flowers.

Every good trumpet player has to have strong lungs. And Glechoma belongs to the herbs, known as expectorants which mean the capability to dissolve and release mucus from the respiratory system. So if you catch cold or flu, think of Glechoma herb and you get lungs like a trumpet player!

Second, the trumpet player has to have good stomach, because respiration starts in belly. And Glechoma is excellent for using in kitchen. Accidentally I discovered it years ago, adding this herb into some potatoes’ food. It was delicious, similar to marjoram but not the same.

Then I did a small research regarding chemicals inside and there is mentioned rosmarinic acid, which I consider responsible for the tasting effect. So it also helps with digestion, especially with the part working with gases in the intestines. From this point of view Glechoma belongs to the other herbs with rosmarinic acid inside as oregano, marjoram, sage, mint, thyme and of course rosemary.

My last trumpet context is metallic. Even though trumpets are not usually made from iron, iron is the important metallic element significantly contained in Glechoma. So if you need to fresh your blood with herbal iron, Glechoma is here! In this case you have to eat it, because iron doesn’t leave the herb for tea.

So you can see that if you remember the trumpets once, you will always remember the three important effects of this herb.

Thanks for reading. With love, Ivana

Question: What is the best common name for this herb in English? I couldn’t find anything reasonable. Your experiences are welcome!

Back on board!

Today, two months from surgery, I am finally on board again. Or I feel like it. Speaking about physical body, it was a bit earlier. But the healing process redirected part of my mental capacity into the abdomen, so I missed it. I wasn’t able to concentrate myself for particular target and not at all in English. Hopefully I’m back, looking forward to write next herbal stories.

Being out of order doesn’t mean being without herbs. I’ve been surrounded by them and I would like to thank to them.

First of all, I’d like to thank to mullein which helped to release my respiration, irritated by extremely dry hospital air. It helped with tough coughing attacks that tend to destroy my fresh scar across the abdomen. Probably it seemed strange when I was drinking yellow liquid with flowers to my pills for pain. Medical staff and surrounded patients watched me in disbelief but mullein did help.

Other herbs helped me after return from hospital, especially yarrow and mallow. I washed the outer scare in bath of yarrow and to heal the inner scares I drank a macerate from mallow.

Next step was healing ointment from Calendula and St.John’s wort, still in use.

So again: Thanks to all medical staff, friends and herbs!

With love, Ivana

Alchemilla: Feminine Innocence

Every time I look at the leaves of lady’s mantle (Alchemilla) in the grass, I see the pleated skirts of teenage girls. Healthy moisture and virginal purity are usually emphasized by drop of dew, which likes to stay in depths of leaves. Everything is so original and intact, well prepared for future use. Harvesting lady’s mantle means to feel the love and respect for everything, which is represented by this herb. Everything what is hidden under the lady’s skirt.

As soon as the girl matures into a woman, lady’s mantle offers its assistance during menstruation or inflammatory diseases of female organs. It seems that lady’s mantle effects in treatment of certain fungal infections in this intimate area as well. It heals such damaged tissues, as if wants them to return back into the original innocence.

Although innocence is a good start, the fundamental role of women is having children. And there is also place for lady’s mantle which supports both, conception and maintaining healthy fetus. It perfuses appropriate tissues adequately and so makes them excited to fulfill the major task of women. Lady’s mantle might help also to mature women with their late fertility.

After giving birth, nursing mothers appreciate lady’s mantle too. It supports lactation and improves quality of milk. Again, lady’s mantle cares about innocence, which has just been born.

Lady’s mantle is also for women whose active cycle is coming to the end. It helps to clean and finish everything inside of the intimate area to be returned into innocence after hibernation. And that is the experience, which I am going through. And that is the reason, why lady’s mantle calls me to draw its picture and write this post.

Thanks for reading.
With love, Ivana

Chocolate, chocolate..

If anything was a major theme in the last week of mine, it was definitely chocolate. We placed a bulk order for professional quality dark chocolate with group of my friends and logistical center was localized in my small flat. I must say I haven’t seen such quantity of chocolate in my whole life! Only my part was 2,5kg (over 5.5lbs), most of it in 96% Ebony black chocolate.

My original plan was using of this no-sugar chocolate for cosmetic purposes. But it tastes absolutely great! There are no additives, only high percentage of cocoa which you can perceive as a kind of dark brutality on your tongue. Bitter taste of this chocolate is not for people of weak character. You have to be stable adult to enjoy it fully. Then you feel a dark heaven in your mouth!

Anyway I haven’t forgotten the original plans.

First, I made herbal-chocolate foot cream with horsetail, sage, yarrow and oak bark. It has antibacterial and antiperspirant effects, smooth consistency and smells like chocolate. Due to high concentration of effective herbs is small amount enough which is also safer. In case of careless application it could let brown color on clothes or shoes. Nevertheless, it is absolutely amazing!

Then I made two kinds of herbal chocolate soap which I can recommend to everyone. In this activity I joined two great loves – herbs and chocolate, and I believe that among you are many with the same preferences.

Do you have your own experience with dark chocolate in cosmetic? I’d be happy to read your comments.

With love, Ivana

Yellow Bedstraw: Galium verum

Abundant plant on sunny slopes, dry meadows or along the roads looks more like bushy weed than a useful medicinal herb. Perhaps only huge amount of little yellow flowers attracts careful attention of people and lovely attention of bees.

I chose this herb among the five for my Herbal Materia Medica course and before I am going to be overwhelmed by scientific information I would like to share my existing experience.

Yellow Bedstraw (Galium verum) is not as friendly or sticky as its more famous relative Galium aparine. It doesn’t play the major role in homeopathic or Chinese medicine but it stands nearby and waits for being understood and wisely used.

This herb is for those who cannot be discouraged by untidy appearance, a little bit prickly inaccessibility or unpleasant bitter astringent taste. That’s why it’s mostly used externally.

I love its effects in soaps for problematic skin treatment, no matter if it’s adolescent acne or adults’ hemorrhoids. In facial treatment can be used also as a bath or tonic. Affected areas are treated well by yellow bedstraw which I occasionally supplement by other potent herbs.

If I want to use yellow bedstraw internally, I usually go for capsules. My tired kidneys like to be refreshed from time to time, so I combine yellow bedstraw with heather and goldenrod, manually powder them and fill the capsules. There is very welcome side effect because yellow bedstraw also helps with night spasm in legs which I sometimes suffer.

Before other products appeared on the market, yellow bedstraw was widely used in cheese production. In accordance to its astringent taste yellow bedstraw is able to coagulate milk very effectively. You can try and have a useful fun.