Herbs

Making Decoctions

MAKING DECOCTIONS

The decoction method is used for tough plant materials, such as barks, berries, or roots, which need a more vigorous extraction than is possible using the infusion method. Decoction involves heating the plant material in cold water, bringing it to a boil and simmering for 20-40 minutes. Combinations of herbs can be mixed together, or herbs can be used singly. The standard quantity, which can be drunk hot or cold, is enough for three doses and should be make fresh each day. As with infusions, decoctions are frequently used as the basis of other remedies, such as syrups.

Parts Used: Barks, berries, roots (dried or fresh)

Standard Quantity: Add 30g dried or 60g fresh herb to 750 ml (approx 3 cups) of cold water. This reduces to approx 500 ml after simmering. If using a combination of herbs, be sure that the total weight of the mixture does not exceed this standard amount.

Standard Dosage: Take a teacup or wineglass dose 3 times daily. Repeat doses may be reheated. Honey or unrefined sugar may be used to sweeten each dose, or they may be flavored with a little lemon juice. Reduce the dose for children.

  1. Place the herb in a saucepan (do not use aluminum!) and pour in the cold water.
  2. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer gently for 20 to 40 minutes, until the volume has been reduced by a third.
  3. Take the decoction off the heat and strain through a nylon or plastic sieve into a jug.
  4. Pour the decoction into a covered jar or pitcher and store in the refrigerator.

 

Joelle’s Sacred Grove

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Making Infusions

MAKING INFUSIONS

Infusions are a very simple and popular way of using herbs, infusions may be taken as remedies for specific ailments or just be enjoyed as relaxing or revitalizing teas. An infusion is made in a very similar way to tea, using fresh or dried herbs. The water should just have begun to boil, since vigorously boiling water disperses valuable volatile oils in the steam. Infusions can be made from a single herb or from a combination of herbs, and may be drunk hot or cold. It is best to make them fresh each day.

Parts Used: Leaves, flowers, and most aerial parts (dried or fresh)

Standard Quantity: For most medicinal teas with a therapeutic action, add 25g dried or 75g (for best results use a kitchen scale to weigh the herbs) fresh herb to 500 ml (approx. 2 cups) water to make 3 doses. If using a combination of herbs, be sure that the total weight does not exceed the standard quantity.

Standard Dosage: Take a teacup or wineglass (approx. 2/3 cup) dose 3 times daily. Repeat doses may be reheated if desired. Add a little honey or unrefined sugar per dose to taste. Reduce the dose for children or the elderly.

  1. Warm a teapot with hot water. Add the fresh or dried herb.
  2. Pour on hot water that has just boiled. Cover the teapot with the lid and infuse for 10 minutes.
  3. Strain the infusion through a tea strainer.
  4. Take a dose, adding honey or a little unrefined sugar to taste. Strain the rest into a jug, cover and store in the refrigerator.

 

Joelle’s Sacred Grove

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Harvesting Herbs

Harvesting Herbs

No matter how you intend to use your herbs after harvesting a few basic rules still apply.

  • Tree Leaves  should be gathered before Midsummer. After that, the percentage of natural insecticides in the leaves are too high.
  • Leaves  are at their most fragrant, and richest in volatile oils, before any flowers have opened. The exceptions to this are: borage, coltsfoot, cowsslip, fenugreek, lungwort and sweet violet; they should be gathered after flowering. Rosemary can be gathered at any stage. Gather early on a dry day, after the dew has dried but before the sun is too strong. Dry in a shady, cool, and airy place away from any strong heat sources. Avoid steamy places such as kitchens or bathrooms. Once dry, crumble the leaves and discard large pieces of stem, store them in a lidded glass or ceramic jar away from the light.
  • Flowers  are gathered on a dry day when the flowers first begin to open. They should always be dried in the shade. Carefully cut each flowerhead off the stalk, remove any insects or dirt, and place on a paper lined tray. Leave to dry in a warm place and turn regularly Small flowers such as lavender, are dried in the same way as seeds – by hanging them upside down and collecting the flowers in a paper bag. Once dried, store in a lidded glass or ceramic jar. Dark colored jars are best because they keep out the light. Calendula petals should be separated from the center part once they are dry.
  • Roots  are generally gathered in the fall after the plant has begun to die back. The exception to this is dandelion roots, they should be gathered in the early spring. Wash them thoroughly to remove any dirt. Chop large roots into smaller pieces to speed up the drying process. Spread the root pieces on a paper lined tray. Preheat the oven and turn it off. Place the trays inside with the door ajar for 3-6 hours (depending on how large the pieces are). Transfer the trays to a warm room away from the sun until completely dry. Store in airtight containers away from the light. Check periodically as dried roots have a tendency to reabsorb moisture from the air, discard any pieces that become soft.
  • Seeds  should be gathered as they ripen, usually in the fall. Seedheads should be hung to dry inside a paper bag. Don’t use plastic as any condensation that gathers could lead to mildew and cause the seeds to rot. Once dry separate the seeds from their cases and store in the same manner as leaves and flowers.
  • Berries  are harvested when they are just ripe, usually in the early fall, before they have become too soft to dry effectively. Spread on paper lined trays, discard any that show signs of mold. Preheat your oven and then turn it off. Place the trays of berries inside with the door ajar for 3-4 hours. Transfer the trays to a warm, airy spot, away from the sun until completely dry. Turn regularly to ensure even drying.
  • Tree barks  generally contain the desired medicinal properties in the soft inner layer (cambium) between the sapwood and the dead outer bark, or the bark of the root. Bark should be harvested in the autumn when the sap is falling. This will avoid damaging the tree too much. Never remove all the bark or even a strip of bark completely surrounding the tree. Dust or wipe bark to remove moss or insects. Break into small pieces (about 1-2 inches). Spread the bark on paper lined trays and leave to dry in a warm, airy room away from the sun.

 

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Joelle’s Sacred Grove

 

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Herb of the Day for September 18th is Passion Flower

Herb of the Day

 

Passion Flower

 

Medicinal Uses: Passionflower is used in the treatment of insomnia, nervous tension, irritability, neuralgia, irritable bowel syndrome, premenstrual tension and vaginal discharges. An infusion of the plant depresses the motor nerves of the spinal cord, making it very valuable in the treatment of back pain. The infusion is also sedative, slightly reduces blood pressure and increases respiratory rate. The herb contains alkaloids and flavonoids that are an effective non-addictive sedative that does not cause drowsiness. As a sleep aid use 1 tbsp. dried herb to 1 cup of boiling water, steep for 10 min. drink at bedtime. It relieves headache pain due to stress and helps one end addiction to tranquilizers. It is also used in cases of epilepsy. It has also been used to support treatments of female anxiety during menses, childbirth and menopause.
A poultice or juice has been used for burns and wounds.

Do not use during pregnancy. Large doses may cause nausea and vomiting.

Magickal Uses: Place a passion flower under the pillow to ensure a night of peaceful dreams. Carried in a pouch it can bring you popularity and friendship.
 
Properties: Antispasmodic, astringent, diaphoretic, anodyne, anti-inflammatory, hypnotic, narcotic, sedative, vasodilator and also used in the treatment of women’s complaints. The primary chemical constituents are known to be alkaloids (harman, harmine, harmaline, harmol, harmalol), flavonoids (apigenin, luteolin, quercitin, rutin), flavone glycosides, sterols, sugars, and gums.

Growth: Passion flower is found growing in sandy thickets and open fields, roadsides, fence rows and waste places. It is a climbing vine renowned for its beautiful white flowers with purple, blue, or pink calyx crown blooms. The plant is native to North, Central, and South America. Passion Flower bears small berry-like fruit called granadilla.
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Author: Crick

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Herb of the Day for September 16th is Mullein – Candlewick Plant

Herb of the Day

 

Mullein – Candlewick Plant

 


Medicinal Uses: The honey-scented flowers flavor liqueurs and yield skin-softening
mucilage. The expectorant, soothing, and spasm-sedating properties of the leaf and
flowers are used to treat raspy coughs and are added to herbal tobacco. When smoked,
Mullein soothes inflamed or infected lungs, and prevents coughing until infection or
inflammation is broken. Externally, a poultice of the leaves is a good healer of wounds and is also applied to ulcers, tumours and piles. An infusion of the flowers in olive oil is used as earache drops, or as a local application in the treatment of piles and other mucous membrane inflammations. This infusion is also strongly bactericidal. A decoction of the roots is said to alleviate toothache and also relieve cramps and convulsions. A poultice made from the seeds and leaves is used to draw out splinters. A decoction of the seeds is used to soothe chilblains and chapped skin.
Any preparation made from the leaves needs to be carefully strained in order to remove the small hairs which can be an irritant.
Woolly leaf wraps preserve figs and are used as tinder and emergency bandages.

The leaves contain rotenone and coumarin, though the quantities are not given. Rotenone is used as an insecticide and coumarin can prevent the blood from clotting. Hairs on the leaves can act as an irritant. The seeds are slightly narcotic and also contain saponins.

Magickal Uses: In India, mullein is regarded as the most potent safeguard against evil spirits and magic, and is hung over doors, in windows and carried in sachets. It is also used to banish demons and negativity. At one time Witches and magicians used oil lamps to illuminate their spells and rites and the downy leaves and stems of the mullein often provided the wicks. Also used for cleansing and purifying ritual tools and altars. The powdered leaves are sometimes called “Graveyard Dust”, and can be substituted for such.
Mugwort is masculine and ruled by the planet Saturn. It is associated with the Element of Fire.

Properties: Anodyne; Antiseptic; Astringent; Demulcent; Emollient; Expectorant; Homeopathy; Narcotic; Odontalgic; Vulnerary. Mullein contains approximately 3% mucilage and small amounts of saponins and tannins.

Growth: Mullein is native to much of Europe and Asia and is naturalized to North America. There are over 360 species of Verbascum with V. thapsus, V. phlomides, and V. densiflorum mentioned most often in herbal texts. Mullein is a biennial growing to 1.8 m. It is hardy to zone 3 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from June to August, and the seeds ripen from August to September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Flies and Lepidoptera (Moths & Butterflies). The plant is self-fertile.
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Author: Crick
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Herb of the Day for Sept. 13 is Cinquefoil

Herb of the Day

Cinquefoil

The roots have a bitterish, styptic, slightly sweetish taste and have been employed medicinally since the time of Hippocrates and Dioscorides. Cinquefoil is used as a mouthwash for “thrash” and taken for dysentery and diarrhea.     A decoction is odontalgic, used as a gargle for loose teeth, spongy gums and, periodontal disease. A medicinal tonic is used for fevers and debility. Fresh juice mixed with honey removes hoarseness and relaxes sore throat, is very medicinal for coughs.    
                                   
A strong decoction is poured over infections,  sores, rashes and as a bath additive it is soothing for reddened or irritated skin. An infusion of the leaves makes an excellent skin cleansing lotion and is also used cosmetically as a soothing lotion for reddened skin and for babies delicate skin. Powdered or crushed root stops bleeding.

Magickal uses: Flying ointment consists of equal parts of cinquefoil, aconite, belladonna, hemlock, parsley, and cowbane. If a seven leaf specimen is found and placed under the pillow, one will dream of their future lover. Hand a bag of the dried herb next to the bed for a good nights sleep. Place above a doorway or sprinkle around the home for protection. Bathe the head and hands nine times with an infusion of cinquefoil to break a hex or curse. Carry the herb for love, prosperity, health and wisdom. Carry to court to win case. Bore a hole in an egg and empty out the contents. Place cinquefoil inside the egg and then close the hole with tape or putty. This will protect the home from evil. Burn during divinations about love. The points of the leaves represent love, money, health, power and wisdom and when carried grants these. Cinquefoil is associated with the Mother Goddess and is ruled by the planet Jupiter. It is associated with Beltane and Midsummer and the element of Fire. It is a masculine herb.

Properties: astringent, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, bactericidal, carminative, decongestant, deodorant, expectorant and insecticide and tonic. Contains tannins

Growth: Cinquefoil is a perennial herb found growing in dry open woods, prairie hillsides, roadsides, old fields and waste places. The roots are long, slender rhizomes branched at the top from several crowns, from which arise the long-stalked leaves and solitary, yellow flowers that close up at night, and threadlike, creeping stems. The stem-runners root at intervals and often attain a length of 5 feet or more, spreading over a wide area. The name Five-leaf or Five Fingers refers to the leaves being divided into five leaflets. Each of these is about 1 1/2 inch long, with scattered hairs on the veins and margin. The margins of the leaflets serrated. In rich soils the leaflets are often six or seven. Flowers bloom in late May thru August.

Infusion:  1 oz. of the herb to a pint of boiling water is used in wineglassful doses for diarrhea and looseness of the bowels, and for other complaints for which astringents are usually prescribed, and it is employed externally as an astringent lotion and as a gargle for sore throat.

The juice of the root, mixed with wheat bread, boiled first, is recommended as a good styptic.
The root boiled in vinegar, being applied, heals inflammations, painful sores and the shingles. The same also, boiled in wine, and applied to any joint full of pain, ache or the gout in the hands, or feet or the hip-joint, called the sciatica, and the decoction thereof drank the while, doth cure them and eases much pain in the bowels.
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Author: Crick
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Herb of the Day for September 12 is Flax

Herb of the Day

 

  Flax

Mecicinal Uses: Flax is used as an aid to achieving cardiovascular health, to help in menopause, and as a mild laxative. The seed and the seed oil are being studied as a possible cure for cancer. The oil helps slow the kidney disease that accompanies lupus.    
                                                                                                                                       
The ground seed mixed with boiling water to make a thick mush is used for poultices. Any herb, such as smartweed, elm bark, hops, mullein, or any other herbs recommended, can be added. Use as a poultice on old sores, boils, inflammations, skin ulcers, wounds, and tumors. Poultices should be changed at least every 2 hours; have a new, hot poultice ready to apply before the old one is removed.                                                                                                  

Also used for female disorders, colon problems. Promotes strong nails, bones, and teeth and healthy skin. A decoction of the seeds can be used for coughs, catarrh, chronic bronchitis, asthma, pleurisy, fever, dropsy, leprosy, pimples, age spots, burns, scalds, gout, inflammation, cystitis, lung and chest problems, and digestive, gastritis, dyspepsia, diarrhea, and urinary disorders. To eliminate gallstones, take 1 1/2 to 2 tbsp. linseed oil and lie down on your left side for a half hour. The gallstones will pass into the intestines and be eliminated from there. Eating the seeds intact is useful for chronic constipation. The seeds swell up in the intestines, encouraging elimination by increasing the volume of fecal matter. For emollient uses and for rheumatic complaints, apply a linseed poultice. The oil was a folk remedy used for pleurisy and pneumonia.                                                                                             

The seed has been used for ages as a medicine. Take 1 tsp. of the whole seed mixed with water, orange juice, vegetable juice, etc., to provide a gentle lubricant laxative. Or use this mixture as an enema.                                       

To remove foreign bodies from the eye: place a grain of whole flaxseed under the lower lid, close the lids. The seed becomes surrounded by a thick, adherent mucilage, which entraps the foreign body, and soon carries it out from the angle of the eye.

Magickal uses: Flax is used to attract money and wealth, and is used in healing spells and rituals. When performinghealing rituals, sprinkle the altar with flax seeds and include in healing mixtures.

Properties: Antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, anti-tussive, demulcent, emollient, laxative, mucilaginous, pectoral, purgative, tonic. Contains Glycosides, gum, linamarin, linoleic acid, linolenic acids, mucilage, oleic acid, protein, saturated acids, tannins, and wax, vitamins A, B, D, E, minerals and amino acids.

Growth: Flax grows in a wide range through North America. Flax is a delicate annual plant 8-22 inches high; the slender, wiry, glabrous, single, leafy, stem has few branches and bears alternate, sessile, simple, entire, lanceolate to oblong, linear, leaves. The numerous leaves are stalk less, alternate, linear with three parallel nerves. Each branch has one or two, delicate, blue or violet-blue, five-petaled, funnel-shaped, slightly overlapping petals (1/2-3/4 inches across), flowers from June to August. The fruit is an 8- to 10-seeded capsule; the seeds are smooth, flattened, shiny, oval beaked, and light brown. Widely cultivated in the United States (mostly the northwestern states), Canada, and Europe but also found wild along roadsides, railroad lines, old fields, and in waste places. Native to Europe.
Author: Crick
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Herb of the Day for Sept. 11th is Cattail

Herb of the Day

 Cattail            


Medicinal Uses: The medicinal uses of cattails include poultices made from the split
and bruised roots that can be applied to cuts, wounds, burns, stings, and bruises.
The ash of the burned cattail leaves can be used as an antiseptic or styptic for
wounds. A small drop of a honey-like excretion, often found near the base of the
plant, can be used as an antiseptic for small wounds and toothaches.  
                                                                              
The American Indians used the jelly from young leaves to treat wounds and other
skin problems. When the brown flower head is burnt, it produces a smoke that repels insects.

Culinary uses:Tender white cattail shoots pulled from the water are edible raw. The core of the shoot is crisp, tender, and white. In early spring, dig up the roots to locate the small pointed shoots called corms. These can be removed, peeled, and eaten, added to other spring greens for a salad, or cooked in stews or alone as a pot herb. As the shoots reach a height of two to three feet above the water, peel and eat like the corms, or sautee. This  is also known as “Cossack Asparagus”.
Soon after these shoots reach this height, the green female bloom spikes and the male pollen spikes begin to emerge. Both the male and female pollen spikes can be boiled and eaten like corn on the cob.
In turn, the male pollen head will begin to develop an abundance of yellow pollen with a talcum powder consistency that can easily be shaken off into any container. Use this pollen to substitute for some the flour in pancakes to make cattail pancakes. This pollen also works well with cornbread, thickeners or as a flour extender for breads and cakes.
From late Summer and early fall on through Spring, one can harvest the root starch. To extract the flour or starch from the cattail root, collect the roots, wash, and peel them. Next, break up the roots in a pail of cold water. The flour will begin to separate from the fibers. Continue this process until the fibers are all separated and the flour is removed. Remove the fiber and pour off the excess water.

Do no use if pregnant.

Magickal uses: Cattail is used in spells of lust

Properties: astringent, hemostatic

Growth: The broadleaf or common cattail, is an erect perennial herb that grows on nearly every continent and is native throughout the United States, in any area where the soils remain saturated or flooded during the growing season. The broadleaf’s stem may reach three meters high. Its pale green leaves may be two inches across, and do not usually extend above the dense, cylindrical flower spikes. The female part of the plant consists of brown spikes, each shaped like a cigar, composed of tightly packed seeds on a stiff stalk. The male flowers are borne in a dense mass above the female flowers. These last only a short time, leaving the female flowers that develop into the brown cattail. Pollen from the male flowers is often abundant and bright yellow.
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Author: Crick
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