Oats confession

Even small child knows oatmeal is healthy. We cannot miss the pictures of happy and healthy people who had oatmeal for breakfast. The media feeds us with nutrition information and markets offer the oatmeal with various flavors perhaps because the oatmeal itself is so common, and in the past it was mainly food for the poor or food for horses. This had to be a real challenge for marketing people!

I was lucky in my childhood. Nobody forced me to eat oatmeal. Level of the media advertisement was weak at that time and I have never looked like somebody who needs extra nutrients. Now I can tell you. I really hated even the idea of eating something so ugly as porridge. No flavor could change my mind!

A lot later, when I was an adult, I let the oatmeal come into my life under the weight of undisputed facts. In many ways I tried to overcome its ugliness, particularly in the form of porridge.  How do you consider the grey mass of rubber consistency to be delicious? No way!

And so I spent most of my life in a very distinct and mostly hostile attitude towards oatmeal. Only a few years ago I realized the importance of the rubber consistency for body. The mucilage helps to cover and heal wounds and tissues. It can seal the cracks, where the inner heat escapes. Then the body is better protected, the mind and nerves can better relax.

Although vanity is not the biggest of my sins, it was strong and visible effect on skin, which made me to definitely take oatmeal at mercy. Unique balance between cleansing and nutrition, also suitable for sensitive skin, which costs nothing! You can effectively combine it with herbs or other components. To make it as simple as possible, I usually add finely grained oats to all my homemade soaps.

And so it happened that the oats (Avena sativa) became my daily companion and ally. I bridged the foolish attitudes and finally recognized, that no plant was ugly, just have to look for the right angle.

With love, Ivana

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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

Yellow Bedstraw: Galium verum

Abundant plant on sunny slopes, dry meadows or along the roads looks more like bushy weed than a useful medicinal herb. Perhaps only huge amount of little yellow flowers attracts careful attention of people and lovely attention of bees.

I chose this herb among the five for my Herbal Materia Medica course and before I am going to be overwhelmed by scientific information I would like to share my existing experience.

Yellow Bedstraw (Galium verum) is not as friendly or sticky as its more famous relative Galium aparine. It doesn’t play the major role in homeopathic or Chinese medicine but it stands nearby and waits for being understood and wisely used.

This herb is for those who cannot be discouraged by untidy appearance, a little bit prickly inaccessibility or unpleasant bitter astringent taste. That’s why it’s mostly used externally.

I love its effects in soaps for problematic skin treatment, no matter if it’s adolescent acne or adults’ hemorrhoids. In facial treatment can be used also as a bath or tonic. Affected areas are treated well by yellow bedstraw which I occasionally supplement by other potent herbs.

If I want to use yellow bedstraw internally, I usually go for capsules. My tired kidneys like to be refreshed from time to time, so I combine yellow bedstraw with heather and goldenrod, manually powder them and fill the capsules. There is very welcome side effect because yellow bedstraw also helps with night spasm in legs which I sometimes suffer.

Before other products appeared on the market, yellow bedstraw was widely used in cheese production. In accordance to its astringent taste yellow bedstraw is able to coagulate milk very effectively. You can try and have a useful fun.

Back to School!

I live with my herbs on daily and more or less intuitive basis. Of course, I have some knowledge. Herbs interested me since childhood, but I cannot call it an obsession. That changed in the last few years, when I use them also externally for ointments, salves and especially soaps.

With herbs, I usually follow my instincts and then I double check the nature of my intuitive recipes in books and online resources. I would like to continue in this manner, but recently I decided to structure the knowledge base a little bit.

I enrolled in the Herbal Materia Medica Course on The Herbal Academy website last week. They impressed me by the combination of scientific and intuitive approach and I’m happy for the practical exercises. And what’s more, they push us to study only one plant in one moment, which I consider very useful. So back to school!

It is necessary to quickly pass the botanical definitions, which I learned in elementary school already, although not in English. It means shapes of leaves, their arrangements on stem, types of inflorescences, etc. Plus to observe the herbs of my choice according to these definitions. And because the fresh herbs are not available under snow, I have to work with dried ones. Luckily I still have enough from the last year’s harvest.

However, there is one thing which I do not feel harmony with. I should find the names of my herbs according to Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine. I spent a lot of time on the internet with very disappointing results. First, I am not familiar with these types of medicine. I fully respect both because they proved their longterm validity and efficiency. But somehow they are not compatible with my body and mind. All my inner setup has four elements rather than five. I am able to perceive how the herb works inside of the Kabalistic Tree of Life but my effort to see anything through the five elements leads me into the empty darkness again and again. So I gave up!

Instead, I returned to my own setup. I will continue in the course, looking forward to next interesting lessons. I will continue to believe that the most effective medicinal herb grows for anyone near his home because I continue to trust in wisdom of the Creator.

What is your opinion?

With love, Ivana

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.