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

Herbal candy, homemade

Several weeks ago I got a sudden idea to make herbal candies even though I’d never tried it before. But it cannot be so difficult, right? Sugar, herbs, water and probably few drops of lemon juice.

First time, I was obsessed with violets. No matter it was after midnight, I found a small amount of dried flowers from last spring remaining and this was a great opportunity to use them.

I made a strong tea from violets, which got after adding lemon juice a beautiful pink-purple color. I mixed it with large amount of sugar, cooked to thicken with constant stirring and poured into a silicone mold. They were yummy!

Before I could eat them, a friend came and complained about troubles with vocal cords – tension and too much mucus that needed to be released. So I offered her my new candies because I assumed that violets’ healing effects could complete their mission. I was right and happy when she confirmed that the candies did their job perfectly.

Then I made other batches – chamomile, elderflower, elderberry, pine, lavender – and always came somebody whom I gave most of them. I am still learning how to get the best consistency, but I don’t have complains about taste yet.

I feel like Columbus when he discovered America, even though it existed long before he arrived.

Today, I prepared a small batch from sage and wild thyme. Maybe tomorrow someone comes with cold or flu.

Do you have an experience with homemade herbal candy?

With love, Ivana

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

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

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

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.

Power of Butterbur

In my language, name of Butterbur sounds like 9 powers. This clearly demonstrates how effective and respectable plant Butterbur is.

Additionally to the healing effects, Butterbur is amazing plant. In the early spring, still in the snow, you can see around small water streams purple flower heads of Butterbur. They look fabulous. I have to admire them every year. You might think they have to be hard and tough when grown in snow. Be careful, they are easily breakable and full of cold water. I love to keep this fresh spring beauty in alcohol as a tincture because it helps preventively in time of cold and flu.

The most popular part for healing is root of Butterbur. And the best harvesting time is either in the early spring or in the late autumn, it means now! When you slice washed root and place pieces to dry, they look like magical rings of irregular shapes which can be created only by nature. Powdered root of Butterbur can be used directly or inside of tincture depending on type of healing.

Pay special attention to leaves of Butterbur. They are huge like umbrellas and often occupy large territory, so it is hard to pass through. They are very juicy and no wonder. Look at the leaf in detail and you will see large veins for water and nutrients transport. And this is how they work on human body. Because of juicy consistence Butterbur leaves represent effective skin treatment. All healing substances are quickly delivered to the right destination. You can use it directly without any complicate preparation. Just put slightly damaged leaves on affected area and you will see a miracle soon.

For me, density of robust veins inside of Butterbur leaves means a clear hint. They are more than useful for treatment of varicose veins and helpful in arteries unblocking.

Butterbur is also effective in releasing spasm of nervous origin, so you can imagine veins of the plant as healthy nerve fibers. No tension, no obstacles. That’s why some people use remedies based on Butterbur in treatment of migraine and headache. Luckily, at this point I don’t have any personal experience. What about you? Do you have any experience or impressions with Butterbur?

Pine Tree

This is an airy tree, which I mostly associate with freedom, space and breathing. If you ask for my first pine memory, so I see myself as a little girl picking mushrooms in the pine forest of the military band. I can still see the noble and free trees with warning signs written in Russian. I sniff the scent of pine’s turpentine mixed with the excitement of the forbidden fruit.

I had grown up in the 70s of the last century in the places, occupied by the Soviet army and they performed their military exercises deeply in our forests. On weekends, the soldiers had leisure time and Czech families from the neighborhood went into the restricted area to pick mushrooms. And they grew there!! We picked them up despite the danger to be caught or that the soldiers change their mind regarding leisure.

From the same forest I carried home pine bark, from which I tried to carve boats by little children’s knife. I loved the easy processing as well as the beautiful color.

Pine twigs and cones are excellent for fire setting. They beautifully crackle and smell and create romantic atmosphere.

Such are my pine memories. And what is it the present?

I still love the pine forests and still love breathing their fragrance. I feel how it expands and heal my lungs, how it wakes desire for freedom and growth up. Unfortunately, now I live in a place surrounded by deciduous forest with only few pines. I highly consider them. They are my allies in worse times. I return to them when I need to recharge my energy and rediscover my own place in the present moment, since the presence is the only right springboard to the future.

Oak tree: Repose and Relax

Speaking of the birch as a mental and spiritual support, I should mention the physical support of the oak tree.

Even if you have a big sized body, the oak tree’s body is much burlier. It takes all your heaviness if you want to share it.  Our ancestors knew the characteristics of the oak well and so they relied on the oak beds for daily rest and the oak coffins for the final rest.

With rapid development of technologies and general speed of life we have forgotten to respect basic energy of materials according to final products and their use. So remember, the first step for good sleep is an old reliable bed from the oak wood.

The oak tree doesn’t keep your heaviness for ever. It has a great ability to take your worries on its shoulders and later pass them deep into the Mother Earth. This ability remains unchanged for the oak wood although it’s no longer physically rooted to the ground.

Healing effects of the oak bark is based on the same capability. It brings you stability and support as well as it removes wide range of toxins and delusions. The oak bark is rough, but always reliable and trustful. Maybe it’s a little bit slow in results but finally they are longterm stable.

I love to use the oak bark in natural soaps, they look like dark chocolates and invite you to taste. Additionally they are great for problematic skin treatment because the oak bark is reputable fighter against eczema, acne and some skin fungus. And if you have no problems with your skin, a little detox can’t hurt you.

Being in touch with any kind of the oak tree energy, it means to be in touch with the physical dimension of life. It’s a true mirror of our Existence in traces of matter and time.

Betula (Birch): Take it Easy

I love this beautiful tree with white bark and long branches where even slight breeze starts rustling of small heart shaped leaves. All troubles seem to be smaller as if the specific rustling sound splits them into molecules to be more acceptable.

I remember a big help of a birch tree five years ago when my mom went away for ever and I needed some kind of moral help. I spent a long time sitting under birch tree, listening to characteristic rustling as if whispering “take it easy, take it easy”. I felt every day a little bit better and a load of grief became more bearable.

Who else better than Betula knows the importance of the lightness of being? Birch is the tree, which can grow from almost nothing in incredible locations. I really admire its ability to survive and I fully believe that a great part of this ability comes from the advice “take it easy”.

My hair likes birch and no wonder. Look at the birch tree with its bushy branches. It looks like head with long hairs. If you add the lightness, the ability to survive and easily grow, you get excellent product for your hair. And something more! As you wash your hair using natural birch products, the lightness can penetrate beneath, into your mind. I always feel less heavy, with new portion of inspiration.

Birch has great healing effects for internal use, especially as a diuretic. I know but I don’t care. They are other plants as well.

For me, the birch is respectable tree, supporter in difficult times. It’s supporter for mind, soul and hair.