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

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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!

Heart, love and trees

With autumn progress I feel forest as a place of evening hygiene. Trees put off unwanted dresses directly on damp ground and some of them are completely naked, ready to put snow pajamas on. Just conifers remain proudly green as if they ignore the cycle of life.

Today’s walk brings me to think about linden (Tilia). I realized that a strong linden tree needs space. To prosper, it cannot be squeezed in a tight crowd. Linden tree is wide and noble, needed a place for its majesty. It can grow on the edge of forest or in the alley, but other trees must maintain a respectful distance.

Since childhood, I was taught, that linden is our national tree. Never ever I had any idea what does it mean. I just honestly admired huge linden trees, which survived centuries. Centuries of peace and wars, centuries of children’s games and lovers’ kisses.

I remember two old linden trees in my hometown beside the church. Big sign proclaimed that they are the trees protected by the state. When you come closer, you could see huge metal belts around the trunks. And to make the protection perfect, they poured concrete into cavities. I didn’t feel any pride at all, either personal or national. I felt only sympathy for the living thing that grows despite the protection provided by the people and the state.

Today, I realized my respect and love for linden. It has nothing to do with the nation, it is a matter of heart and humanity. It responds to patient love and gifts, supplied to us from linden trees through ages. It’s no coincidence that the leaves are shaped like big hearts. Fragrant blossoms attract thousands of bees in order to produce equally fragrant honey. Tea of linden blossoms is an effective tool against fever and colds. And linden wood is an excellent inspiration for carvers of any nation to make our world more beautiful.

What are your experiences with linden or its products?