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

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Golden buttons

Today I have decided to choose another of the poisonous plants, Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare) with a beautiful nickname “golden buttons”, which is exactly how the flowers look like.

Because the plant blooms for a long period of time and the gold-yellow flowers are firm and durable, Tansy easily attracts attention. Therefore it’s important to know that the entire plant, especially the flowers, is poisonous. A small dose can help to remove intestinal parasites, but because the toxin content may vary from one plant to another, it’s safer to use other herbs for this purpose.

The main poison is thujone, which is a terpene, acting as a neurotoxin. The same thujone is present in wormwood and it’s why absinth (herbal liqueur made from wormwood, anise and fennel) has been forbidden in many countries. And that’s why absinth is still so attractive. The story about forbidden fruit is one of the best ads.

Thujone content in leaves is comparable to wormwood, but in flowers it’s roughly three times larger. So if you insist on Tansy experiment, start with the leaves and be careful.

Thujone is also a substance that causes increased blood flow through internal organs, especially in the abdomen and the pelvis area. Therefore, pregnant women should avoid it for sure! The effect of thujone is so strong, that Tansy flowers have been earlier used as a medicine leading to abortion.

Thujone has a strong menthol odor and together with other camphor-like terpenes in Tansy causes significant repellent effects. Try to put a dried bouquet into the wardrobe and see how the clothing moths fly away in disgust.

Did you know that because of the strong repellent effects Tansy has been used in funeral houses? In some countries, they put bouquet into the coffins to keep the bugs away as long as possible.

Anyway, I would like to finish my post in positive. Despite all warnings about poisonous thujone, there is one major healing application. Homemade ointment from Tansy flowers can relieve rheumatic pains.

With love, Ivana

The Elixir of Youth

The fall is definitely coming. It’s not just the morning mist, but also a lot of ripening fruit on the trees all around. You see the branches laden by fruits as they bend to the ground like the elder people often do. And both are full of experience and perhaps full of wisdom.

In my opinion, there are two most attractive seasons in nature – spring and fall. You can easily compare spring to the freshness and innocence of youth, and fall to the maturity and experience of the old age. Even the colors could bear this comparison – bright, fresh and vibrant colors in the spring and heavy and earthy colors in the fall. We can take an example.

Some time ago, I wrote about the elder (Sambucus nigra) at the time of its youth when it was in full bloom, I called it Elderflower Princess. The proud and cheerful girl now became a modest and wise old woman. The royal blood still circulates in her veins, but she has no need to demonstrate. In dust around the roads she patiently awaits those who know or are interested to know her quality. And there are plenty of them!

The most common and probably the most pleasant way how to consume elderberries is syrup. I do not exaggerate too much if I call it the elixir of youth. Sugar kicks the energy up and the fruit makes the energy better circulating throughout the body. A wide range of vitamins and minerals makes the body more resistant to virus and bacteria attacks, a small amount of sedative terpenes helps to calm tired nerves. Elderberries are among the most powerful antioxidants, it means they strongly prevent healthy cells from harmful effects. They keep us as young as possible.

It is easy to remember: the fruit of Elder protects our body from being much elder.

I wish you happy and rich harvest!

With love, Ivana

Sweet smile of Raspberry

Many of us love these beautiful and tasteful berries. You can find a huge amount of cute pictures and amazing recipes full of raspberries. So today, I focus on the Raspberry leaf instead.

The leaf of Red Raspberry (Rubus idaeus) doesn’t belong to major medicinal plants but it’s a very common source of herbal tea which can be safely used pretty often. I remember it was either raspberry or blackberry tea I tested first like a small girl during camping in forest. I was really surprised that tea did not need to be bought, but it could be prepared from leaves that grow everywhere and enough.

Since that time I’ve been drinking lots of different teas. Mostly I had periods – the period of black tea, the period of green tea, the period of fruit tea. Always the best of! Finally I returned to the little girl inside, and for many years I’ve been drinking only herbal teas, mostly from the herbs I gather myself.

Among other herbs, Raspberry leaf belongs to those I usually drink in blends just for taste, not for particular healing. But that doesn’t mean it has no healing effect! Raspberry leaf contains high amount of tannins, reasonable amount of antioxidants plus pectin, which is suitable for healing tissues. You can use it even for cosmetics purpose.

From the same reason (high amount of tannins) people use Raspberry leaf for fermentation, which is the process in which the ordinary herbal tea became a substitute of black tea. It might sound complicated, but the principle is very simple. Just take fresh raspberry leaves, rumple them, leave them 2-3 days in their own humidity and then quickly dry them in the oven or dryer. And it’s done!

I have to admit that I am not a big fan of the fermented tea. Maybe now it’s not exactly the period of mine. But recently I read the post from Katelyn how she made one. I became curious and wanted to try.

The process is really easy, the result tasteful. But I still don’t have the right period. Luckily I have friends and some of them are little bit tired of my always on table herbal tea. Now I can alternate and surprise them with new taste but stick with herbs.

What kind of tea do you prefer?

With love, Ivana

A visit from another world: The Male Fern

From my childhood, dense growth of ferns made me feel there are very mystic. They look like bounded shelter where monsters or other fairy-tale creatures can live and hide their secrets. I always felt respect, and was a little prepared to run away.

Still I see that the ferns are extraordinary and not entirely understandable. It seems to me they belong to different dimension or different time-space. They are like history that has refused to undergo evolution.

My favorite fern is the male fern (Dryopteris filix-mas). At the first glance, it is proud and bushy, combining ancient wisdom with feathery lightness. Juicy green calls for biting, but it is better to resist such temptation. The male fern is poisonous.

For safety reasons it is rarely used today. But I have experience and very good results with the male fern’s tincture in removing some internal parasites, especially from the digestive system.  It is still valid, that careful use of poison can have significant healing effects.

Those who do not want to treat poisonous aspects can only watch and admire this plant. The fern certainly deserves it. Do you also think so?

With love, Ivana

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

Between Life and Death: Poisonous Ivy

For me, Ivy has always symbolized something mysterious. And if I had to tell where I mostly see to grow Ivy, it is a cemetery for sure. There are many old trees, providing a shady retreat for grieving, and around their trunks grow layers of Ivy. The abundance and symbolism stand out especially in the autumn.

Colorful leaves fall from the trees as well as the youth gradually leaves our physical body. But Ivy remains green despite of frost as well as the soul is able to cross the gate of physical death. For me, Ivy is a symbol of rebirth and a new beginning.

I remember one day a few years ago when I walked to a cemetery just because of Ivy. I felt so strong calling to go there, so I did. I spent few hours in contemplation at the cemetery, where did not rest any of my friends or relatives. And when I returned home, I found unexpected dismissal in my mailbox. I was so sorry, but all the Ivy at the cemetery helped me to better accept this situation. Suddenly I knew deeply in my heart, that this end is simply a door to a new beginning. And it was.

Perhaps I have a strong connection to Ivy because of the name. My first name is Ivana and Ivy is one of possible short versions of it. And if you ask, I don’t mind that Ivy is poisonous. Even I know how to be poisonous. And no wonder, I am born under Scorpio sign. In addition, I am well aware that a lot of poisonous substances are healing. As well as Ivy and maybe sometimes like me and like my doing.

I fully believe that not only sweet and harmonious are important in the life. We can be greatly enriched by what we fear, and from what we run away.