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

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Obsessed with sour taste

Although winter wasn’t strong this year, we expect another wave of frosty weather next week. My body is already exhausted from endless wait for spring and more and more often calls for sour taste.

On the scale of tastes I usually prefer the bitter one. Sweet probably occupies the second place. Salty is in the middle, sometimes alternating with the sweet. But spicy and sour are definitely in the end of my selection with the only exception. When spring slowly awakes from winter sleep, I am obsessed with sour taste. I need to add some acidity to every meal and it doesn’t matter if it’s sweet or salty.

At this time, sour taste helps me to overcome the last winter days, it keeps me enough alive. What coffee makes for mind in the morning, the sour does for body before spring definitely comes.

Now, the opportunity to really use what I’ve done before came.

Rosehip chips are simple, tasty and sour enough to keep you from eating so much of them. Actually, I made them by accident. I originally wanted to make jam, but I harvested more fruits than I had sugar. So I cooked and mashed the rosehips without sugar, pushed through the sieve, placed a thin layer on a sheet and dried in oven at low temperature. Efficiency isn’t high, but I don’t like to waste the harvest.

Except of lemon, what do you imagine under sour taste? Yes, vinegar!

Perhaps some or most of you have tried to make homemade apple vinegar. It’s nothing complicated as soon as you have apples, big jar and patience.

Based on the same technology, I made also other kinds of vinegar – from the hawthorn berries and from elderberries. And I must say – I love both of them!

Homemade vinegars are great as they are, or you can add some herbs to extend their taste and flavor.

I have three types of apple vinegar – with common wormwood (Artemisia vulgaris), rosemary and onion skins. They are great fresh or cooked, for eat or hair rising.

The hawthorn vinegar is a kind of medicine as well, having a tonic effect for heart and blood pressure. I divided the final amount into three parts – pure hawthorn, with sage and with speedwell (Veronica officinalis), which also helps to keep heart and veins in healthy condition.

But the elderberry vinegar, it’s a treasure! I love even to watch it! It looks like a good red wine or magical elixir. I feel the taste in every cell of my body, awaking me for life. I put it into porridge in the morning, into the soup at noon and into legumes in the evening. As I said, I’m really obsessed!

I’m going to make bigger amount this year, especially after I used the elderberry vinegar instead of lemon juice into the herbal candies. I mixed it with cloves, cinnamon and star anis and it became a heaven in the mouth! They were gone before I took a photo, so you have to imagine or make it yourself 😀

What kind of sour ingredients do you like? I would appreciate more inspiration for my actual obsession. Thanks in advance!

With love, Ivana

Herbal magic for healthy hair

There are many useful herbs to improve quality of your hair. I took an example of my local herbs, divided in groups according to the type of hair. I’ve been testing them by myself and few of my friends.

Blond and/or thin

The key herb of the group is definitely Chamomile (Matricaria Chamomilla) from the family Asteraceae. Trying to sense the energy, it makes clear that Chamomile brings a floral softness and asterisk lightness into the hair. Don’t expect hair thickening from it! Chamomile is proud of its gentle quality and ready to share.

Other herbs could make a good company to Chamomile. Usually I choose a birch leaf or linden blossom. Both of them are a good companion for another group of hair too.

Red and/or middle

The leading herb of this group is hops, either alone or processed in beer. At least in Europe, using beer for strong and shiny hair has a long tradition. Try to imagine growing hops (Humulus lupulus) and you will see long lianas, richly covered by leaves and small green cones called strobili. They are highly aromatic, full of useful components for your hair and skin. No wonder, hops belongs to the family Cannabaceae and is completely legal worldwide.

Longterm use of hops makes your hair thicker (like lianas) and your scalp healthier. But it doesn’t make sense to use it for really thin hair. It seems to me that the strong aroma of hops and fullness of the compounds are too hard (aggressive) for thin hair.

Birch could be a reasonable support for thin hair thickening and is a good companion for hops too. If you imagine birch tree (Betula spp) you will see long but light branches with small, heart shaped leaves. The birch has a beautiful and lifted hairstyle and you can achieve that for thin and middle hair.

Rich look of your hairstyle could be also supported by linden blossoms (valid for thin and thin/middle hair). If you imagine a flowering linden tree (Tilia spp), it will be clear to you. At the time of flowering the linden tree increases its volume and beauty. Blossoms shine with color and scent, attracting attention of bees and humans. It can work for you in the same way – except of insects 😃

Dark and/or thick

This is the group of hair with a good quality, sometimes too strong or thick to style them. Could you imagine a plant with a similar energy other than nettle? The nettle has tiny stingy hairs in huge amount and is ready to share the same quality with you.

Nettle (Urtica dioica) is the leader of the group and it is probably the most famous herb for a hair promotion. But as I have mentioned several times, for some hair (or hair skin) types, the nettle is too rough. For example, my scalp every time turns red after using nettles and it doesn’t matter whether it was in a decoction or processed in soap. The stinging power of nettle is simply too strong for me.

In case your hair isn’t extremely thick or you have a problem with nettle, a suitable alternative for you could be the wild thyme. The purple color of its flowers is a good guide where to use this herb. Disinfecting aroma helps to remove toxins from hair and scalp, and sometimes also from the mind beneath. I like adding the wild thyme for the red hair blends in the winter when they need more protection.

Method

You can easily prepare decoction (like more concentrated tea) and rinse your hair after washing. Or you can even wash your hair with a special soap that contains a suitable blend of herbs. And because it is much more comfortable, I prepare such soaps at home from the herbs I personally gather. Then it is a great pleasure to wash my hair.

I must say that it might be tricky to choose the right combination for chemically colored hair. They usually don’t cooperate well with herbal soaps, decoctions could be fine.

My originally red hairs (treated with henna) are more than happy with the herbal soap (hops, birch, linden blossoms) for more than two years. Even my hairdresser confirmed improvement of their quality.

I’m curious about your experience if you like to share it.

With love, Ivana

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

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

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.

Agrimony: The Herb of Truth

I love Agrimony like a beautiful and noble plant, like an effective medicinal plant and also like an essential flower remedy. It’s an amazing gift of nature and fully deserves our protection and respect.

I have my favorite place, where I observe and collect Agrimony plants. When at the end of spring begin to appear velvety hairs on young leaves and buds, I feel tenderness and vulnerability. It seems to be soft and supple. But few weeks later Agrimony dramatically changes its appearance. It rapidly drives the main stem to a great height, to keep track of everything what is happening around. Suddenly, tenderness becomes pride and vulnerability becomes need to control. Optimistic yellow flowers abundant on the top of stem balance both polarities. And this is the right season to collect Agrimony before its stem lignifies. Lignification represents the stage, when Agrimony preserves mask of optimistic arrogance, ignoring its own vulnerability and willingness to help.

Harvesting at the right time, Agrimony has a wide range of healing effects for both, exterior and interior application. I like yellow slightly bitter tea of Agrimony, which positively affects entire digestive system without any side effects. Additionally it strengthens our immunity. Externally, Agrimony is very helpful for wound healing and treatment of skin diseases. Together with Yarrow, Agrimony belongs to the most effective plants for coalescence of what has been divided and for aftercare of scars.

Who is familiar with the flower remedies of Dr.Bach, knows well the effects of Agrimony in our emotional system. And if you remember the words about physical appearance of Agrimony, you get an idea of these effects. Agrimony flower remedy helps to all, who covers vulnerability and true emotions by funny faces. People, who seem to be optimistic in every situation, just as they always have everything under control, are like Agrimony, which begins to lignify.

And that is why I call Agrimony “the herb of truth”. It helps to be honest and not to hide weaknesses and fear, not to waste energy on maintaining of artificial and always positive masks. Thanks to Agrimony we can feel free and freely use any of emotions.