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

Walnut tree: Faithful and Reliable Friend

Walnut tree (Juglans regia) is a friendly tree, living close to people and having its own brain. How to call the nuts and their specific shape otherwise? I see them as small brains, enclosed in hard shells just as human brain is locked in the skull. Additionally, consumption of walnuts brings great benefits especially to our brain.

Even though I am excited walnut consumer, I mostly harvest walnut leaves for further processing. I like the young ones, still soft and little bit brown with intensive unmistakable aroma. They are the promise of all that a massive tree is preparing for that year.

Basic energy of them is warm. I sense it like warm arms of a friend, always ready for hug to make you comfortable. It calms your nerves because you suddenly feel better, more secure. As if somebody lights a fireplace in the middle of winter storm.

And because walnut leaves have a repellent capability, you can be more secure with them even in physical reality.

The most common use of walnut leaves is a tea. I like the specific taste and my blood vessel appreciates the effects. However it is still warming herb, so don’t drink it in such a tropical weather as we have in these days with us.

I love to make and use herbal soaps with walnut leaves because of their almost chocolate color and high skin care ability, which perfectly works also for problematic skin with itchy eczema or fungi. Even in the intimate area!

In the form of homemade salve or ointment, walnut leaves help with similar skin diseases. Among other herbs, I do use walnut leaves for the foot care. Why? First of all, the warming effect is mostly desirable. Second, adstringent effect helps reduce sweating. Last but not least, there is the evergreen of antifungal components, which might be a great prevention too.

There is much more left about walnut, I would appreciate your opinion and/or experience.

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

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

Nobility and wisdom of Spruce

A tall and noble tree, which likes to live friendly with other trees of the same species, this is Spruce (Picea abies). Despite of its vulnerability to pests and regardless of the softness of its wood, Spruce is kind of forest’s High Priest.

Spruce belongs to the old trees, whose original homeland is Europe, especially its mountains and foothills. It seems to me, that the higher positions give to Spruce its natural overlook. Spruces domesticated in lower areas are somehow impoverished.

Spruce is tall and spiky, but not proud. It has always willingly offered wood and cones to people for heating and later also for industrial processing. It was people, who became proud and greedy, so they almost devastated some locations.

My most striking experience with Spruce is a few years old, but still very vivid in my mind. I spent holiday with friends in local mountains and all the roads were lined with spruces. Their branches rumbled in the wind and kept whispering me: Don’t forget your nobility, don’t forget your nobility. And the more I defended myself from listening, the more loudly they called.

When I finally opened my heart to their message, I realized that nobility doesn’t mean pride. It was more like: Stop to underestimate yourself! It is not a shame to be soft and vulnerable because this is exactly what spruces are. It is important to take and use benefits that sensitivity brings. You cannot make oak from what was born as a spruce.

I also realized that I can happily live with all my opposites. I don’t have to choose between them. Like Spruce, I can enjoy the juicy sweetness of the young and inexperienced shoots, being protected by sharp prickness of the old needles. It’s important to learn how to merge the opposites or let them live side by side.

And then, one of those old and spiky spruces gave me a very personal advice on the level of a real high priest: Stay in your heart, you will find there everything what you need. And try to merge the wisdom of desert with the wisdom of forest.

And so I do.

With love, 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!

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

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

Chocolate, chocolate..

If anything was a major theme in the last week of mine, it was definitely chocolate. We placed a bulk order for professional quality dark chocolate with group of my friends and logistical center was localized in my small flat. I must say I haven’t seen such quantity of chocolate in my whole life! Only my part was 2,5kg (over 5.5lbs), most of it in 96% Ebony black chocolate.

My original plan was using of this no-sugar chocolate for cosmetic purposes. But it tastes absolutely great! There are no additives, only high percentage of cocoa which you can perceive as a kind of dark brutality on your tongue. Bitter taste of this chocolate is not for people of weak character. You have to be stable adult to enjoy it fully. Then you feel a dark heaven in your mouth!

Anyway I haven’t forgotten the original plans.

First, I made herbal-chocolate foot cream with horsetail, sage, yarrow and oak bark. It has antibacterial and antiperspirant effects, smooth consistency and smells like chocolate. Due to high concentration of effective herbs is small amount enough which is also safer. In case of careless application it could let brown color on clothes or shoes. Nevertheless, it is absolutely amazing!

Then I made two kinds of herbal chocolate soap which I can recommend to everyone. In this activity I joined two great loves – herbs and chocolate, and I believe that among you are many with the same preferences.

Do you have your own experience with dark chocolate in cosmetic? I’d be happy to read your comments.

With love, Ivana