Pink beauty for healthy lungs

It looks that spring is finally ready to manifest itself! Despite strong frosts and snowfall recently, sunshine calls nature to start unrolling buds. Even though it’s too early, I’ve been already checking my places and searching signs of new life among dry and brown last year’s leaves.

First what I’m looking each spring for, are wonderful flowers of Lungwort. I’m hungry for the moment when I see the incredible tenderness of pink and purple. In my daily life I always prefer yellow before pink, but the first spring flowers of Lungwort are probably the only exception.

I really love the unique colors of Lungwort, sweet to look and also sweet and juicy to taste. It’s like a promise that the whole season could be such sweet and delicious. Once I discover the first Lungwort flowers of the year, I gather them directly to my mouth and eat them immediately 😋

My second choice for Lungwort flowers is still eating them directly, but in more civilized way like adding them into salad or put them on potatoes with cottage cheese. It looks and tastes fantastic!

Lungwort belongs to the plants that bloom before their leaves grow fully. So you can enjoy the beauty and taste of flowers before serious harvest for healing purpose. And there is one big purpose of the Lungwort, clear by the name, the healthy lungs!

Lungwort has strong anticarrhal and demulcent effects, so you can successfully use it in case of cold with cough. It reduces unwanted mucus caused by pathogens and protects irritated tissues. The content of silicon and allantoin accelerates skin regeneration, so the Lungwort can be also used externally for longterm wounds even with pus. But the most common use of Lungwort is still in wide range of lung diseases like bronchitis, asthma, pneumonia, etc.

Even though the Lungwort looks so useful and kind, there is one warning for all who have problems with blood coagulation (clotting) because the Lungwort slightly increases the level of it. A few fresh flowers should be fine, but be careful about longterm use.

I hope to see the pink and purple flowers soon and this year herbal season will really start!

Which plant is the sign of spring for you?

With love, Ivana

Advertisements

Herbal candy, homemade

Several weeks ago I got a sudden idea to make herbal candies even though I’d never tried it before. But it cannot be so difficult, right? Sugar, herbs, water and probably few drops of lemon juice.

First time, I was obsessed with violets. No matter it was after midnight, I found a small amount of dried flowers from last spring remaining and this was a great opportunity to use them.

I made a strong tea from violets, which got after adding lemon juice a beautiful pink-purple color. I mixed it with large amount of sugar, cooked to thicken with constant stirring and poured into a silicone mold. They were yummy!

Before I could eat them, a friend came and complained about troubles with vocal cords – tension and too much mucus that needed to be released. So I offered her my new candies because I assumed that violets’ healing effects could complete their mission. I was right and happy when she confirmed that the candies did their job perfectly.

Then I made other batches – chamomile, elderflower, elderberry, pine, lavender – and always came somebody whom I gave most of them. I am still learning how to get the best consistency, but I don’t have complains about taste yet.

I feel like Columbus when he discovered America, even though it existed long before he arrived.

Today, I prepared a small batch from sage and wild thyme. Maybe tomorrow someone comes with cold or flu.

Do you have an experience with homemade herbal candy?

With love, Ivana

Playing with the Elements, Part 3 – Water

Water is lazy, quiet and cold. Therefore it represents sleep, silence, darkness and even death. Water cannot move on its own. Its movement is always caused by external forces such as gravity or Moon in the case of high and low tides.

So, why we do say that healthy water must flow? And that standing water is an opportunity to grow molds and diseases? Because the external forces of nature and the Universe never stop. And if the water stands, then something acts against those natural or universal forces.

We humans love to act like this. Here are some examples of how we block the natural flow of water in our civilized lives.

On a macro scale, I would mention a boom of concreted riverbed which didn’t respect the original streams and which, a few decades later, cause disastrous floods.

Inside of human body, we often block natural sweating, which is the most effective way to get rid of toxic substances through the largest body organ – the skin. Instead we massively use inappropriate deodorants that block the sweat glands and forbid them natural working, which is the exact parallel to the amount of concrete used in the artificial riverbeds.

I understand that the sweat can smell badly and we live close to each other, especially in cities. On the other hand, the amount and smell of sweat depends on what we drink and eat, how our metabolism works, and how much stress we live in. If we focus more on these improvements, we don’t have to use devastating deodorants, but only light natural versions.

Emotions like sadness or regret require natural flow of tears to overcome difficult situation. But the common social habits often demand to hold tears back. Again, it is close to the parallel with concrete riverbeds. If you block the flow of tears for a long time, there is born a retention tank of emotions that will rupture in future for sure. And then all the pain pours at once.

Sleep is another good example inside the water element. Naturally we are set up to sleep at night, silence and darkness. In such conditions, the body really rests and gains enough strength for the next day. How many of us respect biological clocks and go to sleep with the sun? First I admit that I am a night creature and I don’t want to get up early in the morning. Even though I know it is bad, and it spoils my metabolism and water levels in my body. This is definitely my weakness.

But that’s not all yet. Night sleep should be in silence and in dark. But where to look for them, especially if we live in cities? Unfortunately we live in constant light and sound smog, so darkness and silence become unachievable ideals. And so the water element is spoiled a bit more every day, and thus our physical and emotional health. In the long-term it is definitely worth to invest in the light and soundproofed bedroom.

I prefer to stop with negative examples now and present a few positive tricks how to improve the quality of the water in our lives.

Dreaming is a nice quality inside of water element. And it could be a lucid dreaming even though it seems very useless. Fantasy is an eternal ally of water, so use it as much as possible. You can start with drawing or painting, let be inspired by fantasy rather than reality. No matter of the outcome, the process is beneficial.

Being alone and in silence is always a tool for harmonizing the water element in your life. Therefore, prayer, meditation and relaxation techniques are so effective.

And how about influence of the previous elements?

Fire and water are of course opposites. But the life needs both of them. Water is quiet environment, which needs to get a fiery spark to create a fetus. Water represents woman, waiting for male (fiery) sperm. And do you remember that Air represents socializing? If a man and a woman socialize well, then they create a new life.

Frequent topic is the relation between emotions and mind, i.e. water and air. Take real elements for help. If you don’t saturate water with oxygen enough, your water environment would be dead, even it has appropriate temperature (fire). So using only emotions without oxygen of our minds doesn’t keep us alive. Then we could tend to stay alone, dreaming, without connection to other people. So much water takes the life spark out and we become more dead than alive.

In the case of too much oxygen in water you can see big bubbles, so the water looks more like soda water full of wild whirlwinds, where isn’t even one quiet thing. This is a parallel of overestimated mind and underestimated emotions, which means a stressful life without rest.

And both examples above worked with appropriate temperature. Imagine there is not enough fire, so the water becomes ice. And this represents situation, when emotional person doesn’t put fire into the water. From warm feelings, hardness or even cruelty become.

And that’s why we should maintain balance among the elements. Sometimes is useful to implement small tricks and so to change the sequence of other events.

Next, I will speak about the Earth and the mutual influence with previous elements.

With love,

Ivana

In case you missed Playing with the Elements, Part 2 – AirPlaying with the Elements, Part 1 – Fire

 

Cooling herbs

Why to mention cooling herbs in the winter season, when is quite cold outdoors anyway and the holidays call much more for warming spices? Well, you can need some of cooling functions even now!

First, we can easily get cold or flu which means we need to increase the immunity level and support the fight with viral disease and often always with a fever. First aid could be provided by herbal tea from the Rose hip, Echinacea and Elderflower. This combination is cooling, soothing and a bit diuretic, so it forces you to drink a lot of your medicine. Fluid exchange quickly reduces fever, antiviral components fight against viral origin, while the antioxidants prevent to spread of infection into the healthy cells. Additionally, there are anticarrhal and expectorant features that handle work with increased mucus secretion typical for this type of diseases.

But there are other kinds of inflammation you can meet and need to cool, for example various types of skin inflammations. In this case we look for different herbs and usually external application. For me, number one is always yarrow, especially the fresh one which is easily applicable directly to afflicted area. Yarrow quickly closes the wound, cleanses and protects against infection, and heals the skin surface. I like to use yarrow also in ointment.

Speaking of cooling, it means to speak about mental soothing as well. When we are exposed to massive amount of stress, then we may look for herbal ally. St.John’s wort is a good choice, especially using like infused oil for body massage. Then you will really feel total release of accumulated tension because the influence of the massage will be enhanced by healing effects of the St.John’s wort.

The range of mental soothing also includes help with poor sleep. For me, number one is hops. It will send you to the realm of sleep with rocket speed. The most effective applications are either tincture (ok, beer could be enough) or direct consumption of a dried herb, for example in capsules.

The last type of cooling or soothing for today is the release of spasm. If you have more frequent muscle spasm, you should definitely look at the magnesium consumption in your diet. In the case of internal spasm I would recommend Silverweed (Potentilla anserine) which effectively releases smooth muscle tissue and so can handle painful spasm of the organs we cannot control. Silverweed is best to use in the tea form, either solo or in blends.

There are plenty of cooling herbs for every season and my present selection was an instant idea and a small rebellion against the holiday tradition. I hope you will enjoy it anyway.

With love, Ivana

When the winter asks…

I believe that in many countries, at least in the areas where the climate brings a big difference between winter and summer, exists similar proverb. When the winter asks what did you do in the summer? And now there is the time which is going to test the summer activities.

During windy weather last week I caught a small cold, so it was the first opportunity to check my tincture made in summer. It is a highly aromatic blend of herbs in strong alcohol, balanced to touch typical winter disorders. This one is better to use against bacteria based infections, but is usable against flu as well. Most herbs act antiseptic and anti-inflammatory, helping to cleanse the body and increase its own immunity.

I have used following herbs:

Oak bark: Oak is a symbol of strength and its bark is an effective shield against lot of enemies for our health. It protects against a wide range of viruses and bacteria, and if some attack the body, it can squeeze them out. Oak bark is ready to absorb redundant moisture and so relieve most of “wet” diseases. Additionally, it stimulates the energy circulation in the body and so accelerates whole process of healing.

Sage: Sage is a sign of wisdom and cleansing, often used in magical rituals too. It means there must be a power inside! I respect all the abilities of sage, but somehow I perceive sage as a provocateur, who only cares where that person is unable to do it. In other cases sage forces a person to act in order to protect himself. So, sage is a big help in various situations, but it is primarily a great teacher, who keeps us in bed if necessary.

Plantain: Unlike the previous herbs, Plantain is here to care directly for throat and lungs. It works like a good uncle who treats injured places and exchanges wet tiles for them.

Wild thyme: Thyme is known especially for its use in the kitchen, but it has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory effects too. It is a good supporter for lung and breathing.

Goldenrod: Goldenrod has yellow-gold brushes that sweep many afflictions out and increase immunity so they cannot easily return. If necessary, goldenrod has a strong vulnerary effect.

Lavender: Lavender is another sign of cleansing or better to say “cleansing with calm head”. One of big lavender’s hobby is to disinfect and bring its own energy instead. Lavender soothes and lets us for a moment forget that we are sick.

Clove: Clove is an active part among the herbs, even in small quantity. It is another from stimulants, ready to fight with microbial enemies. Clove works through the whole body, but oral cavity is a home base for it. And to be honest, mouth is often very touched by winter disorders.

I made a range of tinctures in summer, but I successfully used this one for the small cold of the last week.

With love for herbs and people,

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!