Herb of the Day for June 15 – Valerian

Valeriana officinalis MEDICINAL:Valerian is a relaxer, and is very effective for insomnia. It is often used as a tranquilizer, but it leaves no sluggish effects on the user. It is used for nervous tension, pain relieving, strengthening the heart, lowering blood pressure, IBS, diverticulosis, menstrual cramps, and for muscle spasms. It should not be taken over a long period of time, as it can cause mental depression in some people after long-term steady use. It is not habit forming.

RELIGIOUS:Valerian is used to get fighting couples back together, in spells of love, and in purification baths.

GROWING: Valerian is a perennial plant that grows to 3 feet tall. It prefers full sun, and average to rich well-drained soil. Root cuttings are best for propogation, and once the plants are established, they self-sow and spread by root runners. Valerian has a similar effect on cats as catnip, so you may need to protect your patch with chicken wire. Harvest roots for medicinal use in the fall of their second year.

Pain, Spasm, and Cramp Tonic

Drink this tonic to abate headaches, tension, muscle spasms, and intestinal cramps. Ginger and cinnamon should be omitted if any inflammatory bowel or gastritis is involved. This tonic may also be used as a compress.

4    tablespoons cramp bark or blackhaw

1    (1/4 inch) slice fresh ginger root or 1/2 cinnamon stick

1    ounce chamomile flowers

Simmer cramp bark or blackhaw and ginger or cinnamon in 2 cups of water for 20 minutes, covered. Turn off the heat and add chamomile flowers. Cover. Allow to cool 15 minutes. Strain and sip a half cup every half hour as needed to abate symptoms.