Friday, August 22, 2008

Lemon Balm & Milky Oats postpartum

Lemon Balm Melissa officinalis was one of the plants I had in my garden this year. Because of being so far along in my pregnancy, and my back problems acting up, I was not able to really go crazy with planting herbs in the garden this year. I did however have some lemon balm growing out there amidst the lovely weeds. I went ahead and tinctured up some fresh lemon balm 95% alcohol 1:2.
I was smart enough to order some milky oats ahead from jim mcdonald (he makes the ~best~!) so I would have them at the ready after Wyatt was born. Milky oats has been great for me, it has helped support me through my tendancy to go go go which can lead to burnout. Wonderfully mellow and soothing- I love it!
I have found the combination of milky oats and lemon balm have been an excellent ally for me postpartum. Although milky oats is great as a simple, adding the lemon balm really made a difference for me this time around. I like to use less of the lemon balm 2-5 drops, and a little more of the milky oats- about 10-15 drops - 3 to 5 times a day.
This particular batch of lemon balm turned out to be extra spicy (which I love), and the cooling aspect goes well with my constitution. While relaxing, it isn't so much so that I feel tired and want to sleep all day. It really helped me to balance (it gives me that just right feeling) I feel relaxed enough that I can carry on my everyday tasks without feeling overwhelmed, yet still have the energy I need to take care of my newborn and toddler. I also have a tendancy to over-think things a bit, especially being a new mom. I have found this to help my brain to relax enough to focus. I also am the type to take on too much, feel overwhelmed and sometimes get snappy and angry (before even realizing that I have overdone it- fully believing that I can take on ~everything~ no problem). After all, it is easy to feel overwhelmed with a newborn and a toddler- and everything that comes with it. At night if I am really over thinking things and can't sleep (which is another thing I tend to do, causing insomnia), I like to add a little skullcap to the blend as well.
You can read more about postpartum herbs here

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Bull thistle is edible.... Sort of

You may find some field guides that say bull thistle cirsium vulgare (or some other plant you have to boil and drain 3 times so you don't choke to death or die) is edible. Great! I am picturing a wonderful wild salad or soup now! I don't want to diss any of the field guides, but to say that the thistle "Provide palatable dishes" OK, but at what price?
You can really separate the writers who have actually done it, from the copy and repeat type writers when you come across talking about how GREAT bull thistle is to prepare and eat (it tastes so wonderful, it's so easy, here are 10 recipes for your enjoyment!! blah blah blah).
I mean really, have you ever seen or touched one of these babies?
Come on, by the time you get past all the thistles (and get poked a few times in the process), skin and eat the thing you could have built a really nice green house and grown some real salad food.
Don't get me wrong, I am SURE there is someone out there that will insist that it is the best thing EVER.
I doubt they have a newborn and toddler alongside when they are picking it.
Just a thought

PS- I am thinking the bull thistle has all of this protection for a reason, it must serve a much bigger and better purpose than for us to eat it as food. Considering all the other wild foods there are to choose from, I will let thistle be and enjoy it's lovely purple flowers:)

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Students Speak: Herbalist 101 Universal Class

Above Picture Tormentil Potentilla erecta flourishing

Enjoy this Guest Post from student Emma Sunerton- Burl who has graduated from the class Herbalist 101.

Text Box:   Wood Sorrel Oxalis acetosella Herbalism 101

I joined this course about 4 months ago, having suddenly been inspired by my 6 year old son's friend who showed me wood sorrel and asked me to taste it! Wow what a flavour and such a surprise. I searched for more information on this wonderful plant and found this course and signed up immediately. Its one of the best things I have ever done! I am grateful to wood sorrel waking my system up into the wonderful world of herbs!

The course was excellent, it starts by asking you to look at your own life, its balance and your goals preparing you for the changes that working with plants can bring. Then moves on to look at the style of herbalism you are most drawn to using. I found this wonderful as I immediately was drawn to the shamanic and plant spirit methods of working as this so suits the intuitive tarot work I do in my everyday life. Angie was extremely encouraging and supportive of my following this method and I felt she would have been whichever I had chosen.

Then as we moved on to look at how to harvest plants, how to make medicines I started to put together formulas and medicines for myself and my family intuitively. Many of which were very effective. I learned how to sit with a plant and become very observant of its look, feel, smell and way and allow my intuition to tell me its uses and action. I would them look up the details of what it is traditionally used for and often found a strong correlation. I felt plants start to communicate with me whenever I was out too. Some seeming to want attention more than others and these became my focus for study.

Text Box:   Tormentil Potentilla erecta  flourishing

For example one of my favourites is Tormentil. It is very apparent here in North Wales and I was very drawn to using this wonderful plant throughout the course. It is good for healing cuts and bruises – stopping blood flow and being antiseptic. Extremely useful when out on the mountains walking, climbing or running and you have a scrape or a fall. A poultice of chewed plant placed on a cut enables it to stop bleeding and heal quickly. The plant itself has four yellow petals and represents to me the balance of self esteem – it brings an energetic healing as well as a physical healing. This being - out of struggle or apparent struggle (the apparent 5 lobes of its leaves) then a balance (4 petals) of self worth (yellow) can come. I see this plant as being excellent to help someone overcome the difficulties of life and bring balance into their daily living.

Part of the course task was to keep a daily journal where you cite both your own experiences with plants and herbs as well as your personal reaction and development that has been triggered by working with the plants. This was a wonderful way to really become conscious of just how much I was learning, and benefiting from the plants I worked with and studied. As well as serving to remind me that whenever there was a ache, pain, cold or other bodily discomfort or illness that I could turn to a herbal solution in addition to whatever else was needed.

Then the course turned to look at some specific plants – wild herbs as well as kitchen herbs. It was wonderful to find out more depth with each of the plants covered and also to be shown how to make many varieties of preparations with them – from salves, to teas and decoctions, vinegars and oils. Things I would have never have tried to do without the guidance and encouragement that Angie and the course provided. I am particularly pleased with now being able to make a successful salve. It took me a couple of attempts to get it right, but it is a wonderful skill to know I have and I can make a whole variety of massage salves for different energies and ailments which are pure in their ingredients and effective in their action. I am using a rosemary salve in particular at the moment for helping muscles recover from being over exercised ... it is absolutely wonderful!

Text Box:    Fringecup Tellima grandiflora  - a new found friend

I am finding that connecting with the energies of plants around me is becoming a way of life. Acknowledging the spirit of the earth more and more strongly and working within it. I feel that the plants themselves are calling to me offering their healing powers for all manner of things. And that it is like having found a whole new realm of friends.

I liked the way we are encouraged to work with the plants in our own environment, every time I walked out of the house I would be looking for plants and identifying them and then perhaps sitting with them or just returning home to look up their uses and properties. Over the period of the course I have a good list of local plants now and their uses and remedies, some are like acquaintances that i have yet to get to know well and others are becoming firm friends already.

Now when I go camping I know if myself or may family gets ill, stomach ache, falls over, or gets a cold I have no need to seek out commercial preparations, but can turn to the natural world around me and bring aid in the situation. Particularly useful when we camp far away from shops and villages as is often the case.

In all I feel my life has been enriched by my experiences here on the course and I will now continue to develop my relationships with herbs throughout my life. I am very grateful for this opportunity to have come my way.

I thank the spirit of Wood Sorrel and my sons friend Jo for triggering this interest, and also Angie's knowledgeable encouragement and excellent course and the support of the others in the training group for inspiring me to get further and further into the world of plants and their healing energies.

Emma Sunerton-Burl

Intuitive Psychic and healer

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