Herbal Household Remedies: Mint

Most plants of the mint family have a wonderful fragrance and can be used in various ways. Check out this link to find out more.

Here is an interesting article on the OFA‘s website about mint and its uses.  If you have some in your yard, you know just how prolific all the mint family plants are.  Make use of them instead of fighting them as ‘weeds’!

12 USES FOR MINT LEAVES FROM HEALTH TO HOME

How do you use extra mint leaves? Here are 12 marvelous uses for mint around the home and garden—from culinary to medicinal to mouthwash to bug repellent!

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All images on this post are straight from the article we are linking to, only slightly edited

Link: Harbinger of Spring Look-Alikes: Dead Nettle & Henbit — The Herb Society of America Blog

Dead Nettle is just beginning to take off in the yard. Have a look at this great post about uses of it!

By Susan Belsinger

The first spring wildflowers, herbs, and weeds are popping out all over. Two that frequently appear together are both members of the mint family, Lamiaceae: dead nettle (Lamium purpureum) and henbit (Lamium amplexicaule).

via Harbinger of Spring Look-Alikes: Dead Nettle & Henbit — The Herb Society of America Blog

Disclaimer: The author of this blog is not an medical professional, nutritionist, or dietitian. Content on this website is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to substitute for legal or medical advice, or medical treatment or diagnosis. Consult your health care provider if you are experiencing any symptoms and before using any herbal product or beginning a new health regimen. When wildcrafting or foraging for plants, do so ethically; be accompanied by an expert; and always have absolute certainty of plant identification before using or consuming any herbs. By using any or all of this information, you do so at your own risk. Any application of the material provided is at the reader’s discretion and is his or her sole responsibility.

Herbal Household Remedies: Dandelion

“Dandelions are Nature’s way of giving dignity to weeds!”

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) grows in abundance all over the fruited plains.  It’s a perennial with deeply cut leaves forming a basal rosette in the spring and flower heads born on long, hollow, milk-sapped stalks.  Both leaves and flower stems grow directly from the rootstock.  The root itself is surprisingly long, going straight into the ground.  Its root is one of the reasons why dandelion leaves are so healthy: The plant pulls its nutrients from deep in the soil and thus is chock full of vitamins A, B, C, and D as well as minerals such as iron, potassium, and zinc.

dandelion

Dandelion tea is for good for hypertension (high blood pressure):  In the spring, dandelion leaves and roots produce mannitol which is used in the treatment of high blood pressure and a weak heart.  A tea made from dandelion roots and leaves is good to take during this period, from about mid-March to mid-May.  In this tea, both root and leaves should be used fresh.

Dandelion tea also helps reduce fever during childhood infections like mumps, measles and chicken pox, and is excellent for upper respiratory infections like chronic bronchitis and even pneumonia.  For this tea, dried roots and leaves are used.

Below are the two tea recipes, the first for high blood pressure, the second for childhood infections.

Dandelion Tea for Hypertension

For dandelion tea, bring one quart of water to a boil, reduce heat and add about 2 Tbl cleaned and chopped fresh roots.  Simmer for 1 minute, covered, then remove from heat and add 2 Tbl chopped, freshly picked leaves.  Steep for 40 minutes.  Strain and drink 2 cups per day.

Dandelion Tea for Childhood Infections and Upper Respiratory Infections

Bring 1 quart of water to a boil.  Reduce heat and add 2 1/2 Tbl dried, cut dandelion root and simmer, covered, for 12 minutes.  Remove from heat and add 3 tsp dried, cut leaves.  Steep for half an hour.  Strain and sweeten with 1 tsp of pure maple syrup or 1 tsp of blackstrap molasses per cup of tea and give to the child, lukewarm, every 5 hours or so until the fever breaks and the lung congestion clears up.


 

Disclaimer: The author is not an medical professional, nutritionist, or dietitian. Content on this website is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to substitute for legal or medical advice, or medical treatment or diagnosis. Consult your health care provider if you are experiencing any symptoms and before using any herbal product or beginning a new health regimen. When wildcrafting or foraging for plants, do so ethically and always have absolute certainty of plant identification before using or consuming any herbs. By using any or all of this information, you do so at your own risk. Any application of the material provided is at the reader’s discretion and is his or her sole responsibility.

Herbal Household Remedies: Reconsidering Over-Socializing

‘Social distancing’ appears to be a scary thing for many.

No herb talk today – again! – because I have something else on my mind.  In these days of virus fear and quarantine, people are told to practice ‘social distancing’, even that social distancing is something they might have to continue practicing after the immediate threat of this virus has passed.  It seems that the term ‘social distancing’ has become something dreaded, as though life were over when one cannot freely socialize (or travel, for that matter) anymore.

Maybe instead of dreading what is to come – a very unhealthy attitude indeed – we can ponder what was because we do know what was, whereas what is to be is altogether speculative.  In other words, instead of fretting about ‘social distancing’, ponder the amount of socializing that people have become accustomed to.

Is it truly necessary to spend every waking moment in the company of ‘friends’, physical or virtual?  Or indeed, in the company of people other than your immediate family?  How about enjoying some quiet time all by yourself?  Do you even know, let alone have any control over what is going on inside your head?  It is the only thing you truly COULD have control over, you know, if you just put the effort into it.  How much time do you normally spend pondering things, or reading for meditative purposes rather than entertainment or education?  Any at all?  This time of ‘social distancing’ could be a wonderful time for turning inwards, if only you dared.

At least, let this time of ‘social distancing’ be a time to reconsider the over-socializing that has become the new normal.  Social distancing is what used to be normal.  Only then, it was called discretion, indicating a cautious reserve in word and deed.

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Herbal Household Remedies: Home

Home is where the heart is.

Among all the news about Covid 19 and the recent developments in Italy, the tidbit that struck me the most was that having to stay home purportedly took the joy right out of life for many Italians.

It makes me wonder.  How common is it that people do not actually like to be home?  Do people not like their families, significant others or pets, for that matter, well enough to actually spend time with them?  What’s wrong with staying home that it would deprive people of what makes life worth living?

I guess the thrust of my health-considerations for today is clear by now:  How healthy can it be to call a place ‘home’ that you don’t actually like to be at?  Where do people prefer to spend their time that being home is experienced as such a burden?

Here is something to consider:  Many people even of our grandparent’s generation still spent most of their life living in the same area, and most of their days in or around the house or homestead.  In fact, for by far the larger chunk of human history, spending time with your family or clan was the normal, traditional way of life.  Neither extensive circles of friends, nor many hours spent shopping or being entertained otherwise, nor extensive travel were part of people’s lives, surely not on a regular basis.  Consequently, people were a lot less concerned about other people’s business and a lot more concerned with their own, and put a good bit of effort into making their living place a home indeed.

Every crisis is also an opportunity.  Maybe we can use this pandemic to reconsider our lifestyles and turn our houses into homes again, places where we love to spend time rather than places that we flee.  It’s the way our ancestors lived.

Home is where the heart is.  If you do not have a home, where, pray tell, is your heart?

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Happy puppy

Herbal Household Remedies: Do Yourself a Favor

Less is more, did you know?

Did you know that among the good things you can do for yourself is achieving something?  If you do something with your own hands, or achieve something by your own strength of will, that’s a very healthy thing for you.

Right now is the time when some religiously inclined people do the annual Lenten fast, that is, they do something, or refrain from doing something for forty days (and a week), between Ash Wednesday and Easter Saturday night.  Some do not watch TV during this time.  Some stop eating chocolate.  Some pray the Rosary or the Chaplet of Saint Michael every day.  Some work on a particular flaw they feel they have, like their volatile temper or their laziness.  Some stay away from coffee.  Some fast.  Some read a chapter of the Bible every day.  Some start visiting lonely community members.  Some do not use social media.  Some do not buy their usual morning drink at a local fast-food chain every day but save the money and donate it to a charity at the end of their fast.  The list, in fact, is endless.

What all these seemingly unrelated things have in common is this:  If you do any of them, you are doing yourself a favor.  In all of us, there is always room for improvement.  If we pick one of the constructions sites of the Self to work on for 40 days, the good we learn during this time will have become a habit.  After all, it takes only 21 days to form a habit, or so they say.  If you take your spring fast seriously, no matter which form it takes, you will come away with a definite sense of achievement that adds to your quality of life more than a cup of coffee or a piece of chocolate ever will.

Try it out!  And I sure hope you are not wondering what all this has to do with Herbal Household Remedies.

three trees header

Herbal Household Remedies: Poultices

Our forefathers and -mothers knew full well how to use Mother Nature’s medicine cabinet.

A poultice is a raw or mashed herb applied directly to the skin, dry or wet.  Some herbs, grains or vegetables are better encased in a clean cloth before applying them.

Poultices are used to heal bruises, break up congestion, reduce inflammation, withdraw pus from putrid sores, soothe abrasions, or withdraw toxins from an area.  They may be applied hot or cold, depending on the health need.  Cold poultices and compresses are used to withdraw the heat from an inflamed or congested area, hot poultices to relax spasms and for some pains.

Here is a list of a few effective poultices that use either common kitchen items, kitchen herbs or weeds that can be picked just about anywhere.  If you research poultices a little, you will find that there are many more fairly common herbs that work well for poultices, so this list is really just an appetizer, so to speak.

garlic

Garlic: Known for its antibacterial action and drawing power.  Use it grated or boiled, added to milk and softened bread.  Apply bread as a compress to soak out poison or pus.

Marjoram: For liniment, use equal amounts of marjoram, thyme and olive oil for back ache, arthritis, sprain, muscle sores, bruises, rheumatism and the like. For a sore throat, a folded cloth dipped in a strong brew of marjoram and wrapped around the throat can relieve the soreness. (The featured image shows marjoram.)

Oatmeal: Apply hot, cooked oatmeal, encased in a clean soft cotton cloth, to relieve inflammation or help withdraw foreign objects.  Use for stings and bites.  It can be applied directly to the skin as well.

Plantain: Plantains is a common green weed.  Learn to recognize it, as it is invaluable in first aid medicine.  Apply mashed or crushed form on a cut, swollen sore or running sore, and wrap around finger for whitlow; attach with any clean cloth or bandage.  Throw away the pulp when it gets hot and apply fresh plantain to the wound.

plantain

Vinegar: Vinegar made from either blackberries, grapes or apples has a very healing effect on sprains, strains, sore throat, swollen glands and aching muscles.  Dip a folded cloth into such vinegar and apply to the body.  Attach with a clean bandage.  Fore sore throat, make a ‘double compress’:  First dip folded neck cloth into the vinegar and wring out.  Apply and pin so that no air enters.  Then take slightly larger woolen cloth or large wool sock and pin it over the first, wet bandage.  Make sure no air enters.  Fairly soon the throat will heat up from within, and the pain and congestion will be alleviated.


 

Disclaimer: The author is not an medical professional, nutritionist, or dietitian. Content on this website is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to substitute for legal or medical advice, or medical treatment or diagnosis. Consult your health care provider if you are experiencing any symptoms and before using any herbal product or beginning a new health regimen. When wildcrafting or foraging for plants, do so ethically; be accompanied by an expert; and always have absolute certainty of plant identification before using or consuming any herbs. By using any or all of this information, you do so at your own risk. Any application of the material provided is at the reader’s discretion and is his or her sole responsibility.

Herbal Household Remedies: Comfort

The Stoics knew: Being bothered is unhealthy.

Reading about Sebastian Kneipp with his cold showers and cold wading exercises probably made some of you, esteemed readers, shiver.  And rightly so:  Shivering is part of the benefit!  So today, I would like to elaborate on this a little, more precisely on (dis-)comfort, and your comfort zone.

Before you turn away bored or disgusted:  I am not talking about comfort zone in contrast to ‘where the magic/money/success/life’ is, as in, everything that’s worth achieving lies outside of your comfort zone.  Surely you have heard enough about all that.  I am talking about your tolerance for physical discomfort, particularly with regards to temperature and surfaces.

The Stoics already knew:  If you subject yourself to discomfort every once in a while, voluntarily, your tolerance for this discomfort will increase and your comfort zone will grow, in other words, you won’t be bothered by discomfort so easily.  Too much comfort makes us soft and unhealthy; a bit of discomfort makes us more resilient: a good thing.

Concerning cold water, Kneipp operated on a similar principle.  If you learn to endure and even enjoy cold temperatures for short periods of time, your personal comfort zone with regards to temperature will expand.  The result:  The cold will not bother you as much anymore.  After all, if we lived with nature and did not try to avoid the outside at all costs, we would experience a lot of different temperatures and be used to them all to a degree.  Living in an evenly ‘climatized’ environment and avoiding nature as much as possible has very little to do with how we were designed to live and is, hence, unhealthy.

Another example that points in the same direction concerns how we sit and sleep.  If your bed as well as all your furniture is soft and deep, you will quickly become much like the Princess on the Pea:  Every little discomfort will bother you.  Sitting on hard chairs, preferably the kind without back or arm rests, throwing out your couch in favor of furniture that does not encourage slouching, and sleeping on a hard bed or on the floor every once in a while, especially when you do not have to, will improve your posture, strengthen your muscles and increase your tolerance for physically uncomfortable situations.  Feeling comfortable leads to peace of mind (and good breathing!).  It pays to broaden your physical comfort zone.

The Stoics valued above all their peace of mind, their inner tranquility.  Being bothered by such trivia as uncomfortable chairs or a cold breeze was among the first things that needed to be overcome if a joyful mindset in all situations was the goal.  They knew what they were doing.

talb on stoicism

Herbal Household Remedies: Breathing

Have you ever tried to watch your own breathing? 

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Our life is determined by rhythms, and the first and most obvious rhythm of our daily life is the coming and going of our breath.  In and out.  Expanding and contracting.  Coming and going.

Breathing is a fascinating thing.  It is the only bodily function that works both automatically and deliberately, you know.  You can make yourself breathe deeply, you can breathe in and out through your nose, or through your mouth, or in through one and out through the other.  You can deliberately breathe into your stomach or into your chest, you can breathe quickly or slowly.  All these things are under your control.  You can also hold you breath, even until you pass out, if need be!  But once you do, you will in fact start breathing again because breathing will continue whether you like it or not.  If you do not think about it, your body breathes all by itself.

Have you ever tried to watch your own breathing?  If you do, you will quickly realize that all of a sudden, breathing seems a difficult thing.  If you watch your breath for the first time, you suddenly feel like you are quickly running out of breath, or do not get enough air, and breathing regularly becomes almost impossible.  But as soon as you stop thinking about it, your breathing goes back to normal.

Our breathing is a reflection of how well we are doing overall.  If we are breathing deeply and regularly, we are calm and composed, our organs and muscles are well fed with oxygen, and our general well-being is pretty good.  If, on the other hand, our breathing is shallow or irregular, or if we hold our breath involuntarily (that is, without noticing it), something is not going quite so well.  This might be because we are in a stressful or strenuous situation, or because our thoughts are stressful in one way or another.  In any case, shallow, irregular or interrupted breathing make for poor general well-being, be it while we are awake or while we are asleep.

Quite obviously, breathing well is good for us.  It is no big surprise that practices which aim at a well balanced body and/ or mind start with controlled breathing.  Indeed, watching yourself breathe for the first time can be a difficult thing, but the more often you do it, the easier it gets, and just about all meditative practices use the rhythm of our breathing to calm and relax the body as well as the mind.

If you feel that something is not quite in balance in your life, familiarizing yourself with breathing exercises might be a good first step for you.  There are many prayers and meditative mantras that are particularly designed to be prayed or repeated along with the rhythm of your breathing.  For stress reduction, anxiety control or sleep help, there are plenty of exercises suggested online that you can try out.

Have a look around.  Try things out.  Find your own rhythm.  Breathe.

 

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Herbal Household Remedies: Kneipp 1.01

Humans should live in accord with nature.

There is a lot to say for and about the Bavarian priest Sebastian Kneipp (1821 – 1897), his water therapy and his five pillars of health.  If you have not heard of him yet, have a look at his Wikipedia entry just for a general introduction.  Growing up hiking in the German hill country and mountains, coming upon a Kneipp-inspired wading-pool was so common that I knew his name and what to associate with him long before I even knew that Kneipp was a name to begin with.  Kneipp was just a synonym for very refreshing breaks on hot summer days:  To do a Kneipp exercise, all you had to do was take off your hiking boots and socks, roll up your pant legs, step into a pool of sorts and walk around in cold, knee-deep water a bit.  Wonderful!

But since it is not the kind of weather outside at the moment to fill the wash tub and wade around in it (unless you live a good bit further south than we do), I would like to share a rule I learned from Pfarrer Kneipp much later, although I have been following it unknowingly for most of my life:

Cold for the outside
Warm for the inside

Cold for the outside: The idea is that when you shower or wash, it is more beneficial to your health to shower cool rather than hot, and to finish every shower with a cold splash, so to speak: Stick your legs under the cold shower, left foot first and then up, then your arms, left hand first and then up, then your front, then your back, lastly your face, all just for a moment.  If you try it, you’ll find how much nicer it is to step out of the shower and not shiver in the cold air because the air won’t actually feel cold.  The same counts for washing your face and hands: Use cold water.  To clean your hands (so very important at this time of year), it is more efficient to wash with cold water and rub your hands real good than to use warm water.

Warm for the inside: No beverage you drink should be colder than room-temperature.  It is a shock to your system to drink very cold beverages, causing stress and supporting inflammation.

By and large, this little rule is just one expression of Kneipp’s general belief that humans should live in accord with nature.  I quite agree.  Living the way we were designed to live makes it easy to stay happy and healthy.  Give it a try.

cup of tea

The featured image shows a drawing of Pfarrer Kneipp giving a lecture in Bad Wörishofen in 1895.

 

Disclaimer: The author is not an medical professional, nutritionist, or dietitian. Content on this website is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to substitute for legal or medical advice, or medical treatment or diagnosis. Consult your health care provider if you are experiencing any symptoms and before using any herbal product or beginning a new health regimen. When wildcrafting or foraging for plants, do so ethically; be accompanied by an expert; and always have absolute certainty of plant identification before using or consuming any herbs. By using any or all of this information, you do so at your own risk. Any application of the material provided is at the reader’s discretion and is his or her sole responsibility.

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