Does Veronica bring the rain?

Who has never met tiny dark blue flowers in summer green grass? It’s a widespread flower, growing abundantly and due to the color attracting attention. Common names usually indicate similarity of the flower with an eye, whether it be a bird’s eye, a cat’s eye or even a frog’s eye.

Locally, we call it “storm flower” perhaps because the shade of blue reminds the sky before storm. And there is a superstition that if you pick this flower, rain or even a storm will come. As children, we were careful not to waste this flower because the rain would ruin our holiday games. That’s why the storm flower was among the first plants I learned to recognize.

Botanically we talk about Veronica chamaedrys, the sister of Veronica officinalis. Both of them belong to the family Plantaginaceae, so we could expect some healing effects. Although Veronica officinalis is less abundant in my surroundings, I focus my attention on it. The mind says, that’s because it has stronger effects, but maybe the old habits from childhood work in the subconscious and I am just reluctant to call the storm 😋

Both Veronicas are diuretic, so they help in case you need to remove water from the body or just rinse the kidneys and urinary bladder. According to my experience, Veronica is a treasure in blood purification either solo or in combination with other plants. People appreciate the ability to decrease the cholesterol level. I like the feeling that my veins are getting necessary treatment. Veronica is safe and you can use it for a long time.

I am looking forward to gather Veronica soon!

With love, Ivana

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Healthy heart and blood vessels: Hawthorn

In this season, colorful fruits are ripening on thorny shrubs and trees, and the harvest of rose hips and haws is ongoing. I have already written about wild roses Wild Rose: Beauty among thorns, so today I focus on the hawthorn and even experimental products from it.

This year I’ve heard a strong call from hawthorn since blooming. Usually I’m not a big fan of hawthorn flowers because I don’t consider their odor to be quite pleasant even though hawthorn belongs to the same family as roses. Perhaps the hawthorn is a proof that not every rose must smell wonderful.

Listening to my call, I gathered hawthorn flowers and made a tincture or something between tincture and liqueur. Guided by intuition, I added a tincture from fresh roses to the hawthorn basis. Now, the result should harmonize heart on both, physical and emotional levels. Definitely it tastes great!

As soon as the first fruits became ripe, my intuition brought another input. Make vinegar! The rational part wasn’t against. There is enough sugar inside, the taste is similar to apple, and most of the effective substances can act from acidic environment. Since the vinegar preparation takes several weeks, my haws are still in the process of fermentation. Comparing with the apple vinegar, so far the haws are doing very well!  Perhaps vinegar could be another way how to use hawthorn for healthy heart and blood vessels. I would appreciate your experience if you have any.

Being inspired by Lydia with her Pear butter, I tried to make “hawthorn butter”. Since the first moment, it was even challenging or stupid idea. Although the taste of haws is similar to apple, the size is much smaller, and there is a stone inside! Finally I succeeded, but I don’t want to repeat it again! Pitting took ages and proved amount of yellow flavonoids, which has remained on my fingers up to day.

It might seem like I’m already fed up with hawthorn. However in my kitchen is still sitting another bowl of haws, which I gathered yesterday. So far I don’t know what to do with them, but they didn’t want to stay on tree!

Do you have any suggestion? Thanks for sharing.

With love, Ivana

Horsetail: Brutal Kidney Washing

The shape of Horsetail is done by its name (or vice versa) and the major effect is a derivate from the shape. Look carefully and you will see a whisk which can swirl and sweep dirt from your blood. And because the main operation center for blood washing is kidneys, Horsetail mostly works there.

Horsetail is strongly diuretic, so you have to drink more than usually. It is easy to remember. When you want to wash anything you cannot do it without water. If you forget to pour water into washing machine then you will crash whole system. And the same could happen with kidneys and liquid circulation. So drink a lot otherwise Horsetail drying your body.

There is another warning for Horsetail users. The whisk of Horsetail is pretty rough while the kidneys are soft and sensitive. Sometimes I really sense the traces that Horsetail leaves inside of kidneys’ tissue. Then it’s time for a smart combination with some of herbs, providing mucilage. I like to use mullein (Verbascum).

Horsetail is useful herb for external application too. If we stick with the sweeping parallel you can easily imagine cosmetics purpose like facial mask or lotion. Considering the whisk is rough, it’s better to use both for mix or oily skin especially with impurities. Adding a small amount of alcohol helps to reach a clean and smooth skin.

And for those, who like to brush the hair roughly, Horsetail can be used in shampoo or like a hair bath.

What is your favorite use of Horsetail?

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!

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.