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Herbal Study Group 2008

Study Group 2008: Herbal Spotlight

January, 2008 Herbal Spotlight: Yellow Dock

There was not a class this month due to weather.

February 13, 2008 Herbal Spotlight: Rosemary

This month, we studied the culinary delight Rosemary. It is well known for adding great flavor to vegetables and meats but few know of its medicinal powers.

Originally from the Mediterranean, rosemary has done well growing in other parts of the world. Here in the midwest, I am able to keep the plant growing by covering it with plastic in the winter. I continue to harvest as needed and once Spring arrives, I uncover it to welcome back the warmth.

Nutritionally, rosemary contains vitamins A, B6 & C, thiamin, riboflavin and niacin. It also has calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, zinc, copper and manganese.

Rosemary is used medicinally as a carminative, anti-spasmodic, anti-depressive, rubefacient, anti-microbial, emmenagogue, and a stimulant.

It is used as a circulatory and nervine stimulant and in addition to the toning and calming effects of the digestive system, it is used where psychological tension is present (shown in symptoms such as flatulent dyspepsia, headach or depression).

Externally, it can ease muscular pain, sciatica and neuralgia. It acts as a stimulant to hair follicles and circulation of the scalp and has been rumored to help restore hair growth due to premature baldness. Rosemary makes an excellent hair rinse as well.

March 12, 2008 Herbal Spotlight: Herbal Honeys, Syrups and Cough Drops

What a fun class this was! Unable to find an herb awake this early in the year, I decided to take a break from a single herb and instead focused on Medicine Making techniques.

We started by discussing the medicinal uses of honey. There are so many wonderful things to say about it that it is hard to know where to start. Studies have been done in New Zealand using honey to treat 1st, 2nd, and 3rd degree burns, gangrene, diabetes and many other diseases, testing honey against huge name drugs and honey blew the socks off of them all.
When treating a deep wound, there is no need to clean the site first as the honey will draw out all the debris. It is recommended to fully pack the wound with honey, soak a gauze pad with more and tape over the wound. Unless it is oozing a lot of fluid, the bandage only needs changing once a day. Honey will pull the debris out, remove the necroses from the site, heal the skin from the inside out and offer some pain relief.

Research has been done to prove using honey effective in many types of wounds including surgery incisions (which are healed w/o the use of sutures) and perineal tears just to name a few.

Placing a drop of honey in each eye once a day can help with night vision, improve eyesight and dryness. I am currently testing this out myself. An herbalist who taught a class on Healing With Honey at the SEWHC in North Carolina last fall stated “it burns like the dickens for about a minute but then starts to feel good.” I have even noticed the severity lessening with each treatment.
I have also successfully treated sore throats with turmeric and honey and used it when I and my three youngest children had whooping cough this summer. Honey has been proven to kill strep and staph infections so any time there’s a sore throat, you can bet it will be part of the artillery.

For more information on the glories of honey, you can read all about it at Waikato Honey Research Unit.

We made a salve using honey and deer tallow. This salve in an ancient Egyptian recipe. We also mixed powdered slippery elm bark with honey to make throat lozenges. This is simple to make: just drizzle a bit of honey in with a lot of powdered herb and mix into a thick paste. Roll into balls the size of marbles. Roll in more powder to remove stickiness. These will last for several years in a cool, dark place.

Earlier in the day, I had boiled some wild cherry bark down and made a syrup using the thickened decoction and honey. We continued boiling it down and made cherry cough drops. Sampling them, we all agreed that they were tasty enough to be candy. After they cooled, they were broken into pieces and dusted with powdered sugar.

Next month, we’ll be back on the herbal trail, learning about the goodness of Yellow Dock.

April 9, 2008 Herbal Spotlight: Yellow Dock

May 14, 2008 Herbal Spotlight: Peach Leaf

June 11, 2008 Herbal Spotlight: Pineapple Weed

July 9, 2008 Herbal Spotlight: Red Clover

August 13, 2008 Herbal Spotlight: Motherwort

October 8, 2008 Herbal Spotlight: Spilanthes

Last night, we learned about an unfamiliar herb, Spilanthes. While it is from subtropical regions, it has been grown in North America for awhile but doesn’t get a lot of attention from the mainstream herbal world.

Until recently, I myself only knew of it as the ‘toothache plant’, which it is called due to its mouth numbing ability. While we did learn about its other wonderful qualities, we learned very quickly why it is called that: chewing a leaf or a flower will leave your mouth tingling and drooling as it has the ability to increase saliva.

Spilanthes is now one of my top ten herbs. It has anti-bacterial and anti-viral as well as anti-fungal properties making it a well-rounded herb. If taken at the beginning of an illness, it can stop it in its tracks. It has immune enhancing abilities as well. It has been reported to heal children with thrush and impetigo, and is excellent in combating tick borne diseases such as Lyme and relapsing fever. Due to its anti-fungal properties, it is an excellent herb to reach for when treating candida albins.

And finally, what about that numbing sensation we have in our mouths from tasting it? Well, spilanthes also treats gum disease and other mouth ailments when used several times daily as a mouthwash.

The herb is effective as a tea or tincture and the tingling is felt either way as well. Personally, I prefer the concentration of the tincture.

December, 2008 Herbal Spotlight: Yellow Dock

There was not a class this month due to weather.


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