Researching Slavic Paganism

Typically I wouldn’t write about personal things on this site but today is an exception based on what I just found.  Today is one of those days I miss my family, my grandfather and grandmother on my father’s side. I miss hearing them speak Polish, not understanding any word of it, yet eating Polish Kielbasa (sausage) and my grandmothers dumplings.  I can remember the distinct taste and aromas in the air as I write this… yummmmm!

With that in mind, I started to research Slavic paganism. It lead me to the Native Polish Church.  I then found this link, interesting enough, has my last name:  Kolodziej .

I also do genealogy on my family, in my spare time, which just raises the bar now.

It’s just interesting to me that my pagan views and my last name have now come together after all these years . . .

Very interesting indeed . . .

 

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Daily Correspondences

Sunday

Magickal Intentions

: Growth, Advancements, Enlightment, Rational Thought, Exorcism, Healing, Prosperity, Hope, Exorcism, Money

Incense: Lemon, Frankincense

Planet: Sun

Colors: Gold, Yellow, Orange and White

Herbs/Plants: Marigold, Heliotrope, Sunflower, Buttercup, Cedar, Beech, Oak

Stones: Carnelian, Citrine, Tiger’s Eye, Amber, Clear Quartz and Red Agate

Oil: (Sun) Cedar, Frankincense, Neroli, Rosemary

The first day of the week is ruled by the Sun.

It is an excellent time to work efforts involving business partnerships, work promotions, business ventures, and professional success.

Spells where friendships, mental or physical health, or bringing joy back into life are an issue work well on this day, too.

Monday

Magickal Intentions: Psychic Sensitivity, Women’s Mysteries, Tides, Waters, Emotional Issues, Agriculture, Animals, Female Fertility, Messages, Theft, Reconcilliations, Voyages, Dreams and MerchandiseIncense: African Violet, Honeysuckle, Myrtle, Willow, Wormwood

Planet: Moon

Colors: Silver, White and Gray

Herbs/Plants: Night Flowers, Willow Root, Orris Root, Birch, Motherwort, Vervain, White Rose and White Iris

Stones: Carnelian, Moonstone, Aquamarine, Pearl, Clear Quartz, Flourite, Geodes

Oil: (Moon) Jasmine, Lemon, Sandalwood

Monday belongs to the Moon. Monday’s energy best aligns itself with efforts that deal with women, home and hearth, the family, the garden, travel, and medicine. It also boosts rituals involving psychic development and prophetic dreaming.

Tuesday

Magickal Intentions: Courage, Physical Strength, Revenge, Military Honors, Surgery and the Breaking of Negative Spells, Matrimony, War, Enemies, Prison, Vitality and AssertivenessIncense: Dragon’s Blood, Patchouli

Planet: Mars

Colors: Red and Orange

Herbs/Plants: Red Rose, Cock’s Comb, Pine, Daisy, Thyme and Pepper

Stones: Carnelian, Bloodstone, Ruby, Garnet and Pink Tourmaline

Oil: (Mars) Basil, Coriander, Ginger

Mars rules Tuesday. The energies of this day best harmonize with efforts of masculine vibration, such as conflict, physical endurance and strength, lust, hunting, sports, and all types of competition. Use them, too, for rituals involving surgical procedures or political ventures.

Wednesday

Magickal Intentions: Communication, Divination, Writing, Knowledge, Business Transactions, Debt, Fear,Loss, Travel and Money MattersIncense: Jasmine, Lavender, Sweet Pea

Planet: Mercury and Chiron (though this is a moon of Pluto)

Colors: Orange, Light Blue, Grey, Yellow and Violet

Herbs/Plants: Fern, Lavendar, Hazel, Cherry, Periwinkle

Stones: Aventurine, Bloodstone, Hematite, Moss Agate and Sodalite

Oil: (Mercury) Benzoin, Clary Sage, Eucalytus, Lavender

This day is governed by Mercury. Wednesday’s vibration adds power to rituals involving inspiration, communications, writers, poets, the written and spoken word, and all matters of study, learning, and teaching. This day also provides a good time to begin efforts involving self-improvement or understanding.

Thursday

Magickal Intentions: Luck, Happiness, Health, Legal Matters, Male Fertility, Treasure and Wealth, Honor, Riches, Clothing Desires, Leadership, Public Activity, Power and Success Incense: Cinnamon, Must, Nutmeg and SagePlanet: Jupiter

Colors: Purple, Royal Blue and Indigot

Herbs/Plants: Cinnamon, Beech, Buttercup, Coltsfoot, Oak

Stones: Sugilite, Amethyst, Turquoise, Lapis Lazuli and Sapphire

Oil: (Jupiter) Clove, Lemon Balm, Oakmoss, Star Anise

Jupiter presides over Thursday. The vibrations of this day attune well to all matters involving material gain. Use them for working rituals that entail general success, accomplishment, honors and awards, or legal issues. These energies are also helpful in matters of luck, gambling, and prosperity.

Friday

Magickal Intentions: Love, Romance, Marriage, Sexual Matters, Physical Beauty, Friendship and Partnerships, Strangers and HeartIncense: Strawberry, Sandalwood, Rose, Saffron and Vanilla

Planet: Venus

Colors: Green, Pink, Aqua

Herbs/Plants: Pink Rose, Ivy, Birch, Heather, Clematis, Sage, Violet and Water Lilly Stones: Rose Quartz, Moonstone, Pink Tourmaline, Peridot, Emerald and Jade

Oil: (Venus) Cardamom, Palmrosa, Rose, Yarrow

Friday belongs to Venus, and its energies are warm, sensuous, and fulfilling. Efforts that involve any type of pleasure, comfort, and luxury, as well as the arts, music, or aroma (incense and perfume) works well on this day. As Venus lends its sensuous influences to the energies of this day, use it for any magical work that deals with matters of the heart.

Saturday

Magickal Intentions: Spirit Communications, Meditation, Psychic Attack or Defense, Locating Lost Things and Missing Persons, Building, Life, Doctrine, Protection, Knowledge, Authority, Limitations, Boundries, Time and DeathIncense: Black Poppy Seed and Myrrh

Planet: Saturn

Colors: Black, Grey and Indigo

Herbs/Plants: Myrrh, Moss, Hemlock, Wolfsbane, Coltsfoot, Nightshade and Fir

Stones: Jet, Smokey Quartz, Amethyst, Black Onyx, Snowflake Obsidian, Lava, Pumice

Oil: (Saturn) Cypress, Mimosa, Myrrh, Patchouly

Saturn lends its energies to the last day of the week. Because Saturn is the planet of karma, this day is an excellent time for spellwork involving reincarnation, karmic lessons, the Mysteries, wisdom, and long-term projects. It is also a good time to being efforts that deal with the elderly, death, or the eradication of pests and disease.

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Aloe Vera: How to Care for Aloe Vera Plants

Source:  The Old Farmer’s Almanac

How to Care for Aloe Vera Plants

The aloe vera plant is an easy, attractive succulent that makes for a great indoor companion. Aloe vera plants are useful, too, as the juice from their leaves can be used to relieve pain from scrapes and burns when applied topically. Here’s how to grow and care for aloe vera plants in your home!

Aloe vera plants have thick, variegated leaves that fan out from the plant’s central stem. Keep the aloe vera plant in a pot near a kitchen window for everyday use.

Please note: Aloe vera leaves should not be ingested by humans or pets. They can cause unpleasant symptoms and may be toxic in larger quantities.

Planting

Plant aloe vera in wide containers with a well-draining potting mix, such as those made for cacti and succulents. Aloe vera plants are hardy, but a lack of proper drainage can cause rot and wilting, which is easily the most common cause of a death for the plant.
Place in bright, indirect sunlight or artificial light.
Aloe vera do best in temperatures between 55 and 80°F (13–27°C).

Care

Water aloe vera plants deeply, but in order to discourage rot, allow the soil to dry at least 1 to 2 inches deep between waterings.
Water about every 3 weeks and even more sparingly during the winter. Use your finger to test dryness before watering. If the potting mix stays wet, the plants’ roots can begin to rot.
Fertilize sparingly (no more than once a month), and only in the spring and summer with a balanced houseplant formula mixed at ½ strength.
Repot when root bound, using a well-drained potting mix designed for cacti and succulents.

Aloe vera plants produce offsets—also known as plantlets, “pups,” or “babies”—that can be removed to produce an entirely new plant. Find where the offsets are attached to the mother plant and sever them with a knife. Allow the cuts on the offsets and the mother plant to callus over for a day or two, then pot them in a standard succulent potting mix. Put in a sunny location. Wait a week to water and keep the soil on the dry side.

Pests/Diseases

Aloe vera plants are susceptible to common garden pests, such as mealybugs and scale.

Common diseases include:

Root rot
Soft rot
Fungal stem rot
Leaf rot

Avoid overwatering to keep these conditions from developing.

Harvest/Storage

Aloe Vera Gel

To make use of the aloe vera plant’s soothing properties, remove a mature leaf from the plant and cut it lengthwise. Squeeze the gel out of the leaf and apply it to your burn, or simply lay the opened leaf gel-side–down on top of the affected area. Learn more about aloe vera’s healing properties.

Recommended Varieties

Especially attractive Aloe varieties include:

Tiger or Partridge Breasted Aloe (Aloe variegata)
Lace Aloe (A. aristata).

Wit & Wisdom

Aloe vera will decorate a kitchen shelf with quiet grace while doing double duty as a self-regenerating first-aid kit. Read more about the natural health benefits of aloe vera.

One of aloe’s most famous uses is to soothe sunburnt skin, and it can be also used for cold sores.

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Dandelion, A Common Garden Herb

by Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

Taraxacum officinale
Also, Known As:

Blow Ball
Cankerwort
Dandelion
Lion’s Tooth
Pissabed
Priest’s-crown
Puff Ball
Pu Gong Ying
Pu-kung-ying
Swine Snout
Telltime
White Endive
Wild Endive

The dandelion is a common garden herb, with easily recognized flowers. During the spring season, the leaves and the root of the dandelion begin to produce mannitol, which is a substance utilized in the treatment of conditions such as hypertension and a weakened heart in continental Europe – where it is often prescribed by herbalist for patients with these conditions. A herbal dandelion tea made using the roots and the leaves of the herb are good to take from about the mid of March to about mid-May in the treatment of such conditions. Prepare the herbal dandelion tea in this way, first, boil a quart of water in a pot, slowly reduce the heat and then add 2 tbsp. of cleaned and chopped fresh dandelion roots to the water. Let the water simmer for a minute, keep it covered during that time, and finally, remove the pot from the source of heat, following this, add two tbsp. of freshly picked and chopped dandelion leaves. Let the leaves steep into the liquid for forty minutes. After which, the liquid can be strained, people can benefit from drinking two cups of the herbal dandelion tea every day.

A chemical compound known as helenin which is found in the flowers of the dandelion may be the cure for those with a problem of reduced vision in the dark – night blindness, usually treated using large doses of vitamin A. The reports carried by the journal of the American Medical Association for June 23, 1951, showed that the blossoms of the dandelion herb contain large amounts of the vitamins A and the vitamin B 2 (riboflavin) beside the substance are known as helenin. A special herbal tea can be prepared by steeping a handful of freshly picked dandelion flowers in a pint of hot water, let the herb infuse into the water for about twenty minutes. Once the herb has steeped in the water, drink a cup of this herbal tea two times every day as a treatment for reduced vision at night.

Plant Parts Used:
Leaves, flowers, root.

Herbal Remedy:

The herbal remedies made from the leaves of the dandelion are used as a diuretic, it is also used in the treatment of high blood pressure which it accomplishes by reducing the total volume of fluid present in the body at any time.

As a detoxification agent, the root of the dandelion herb is considered to be one of the most effective and beneficial herbal remedies. The waste products accumulated in the liver and the gallbladder is removed by this herbal remedy and it principally affects the functioning of the liver and the gallbladder. The kidneys are also stimulated by the dandelion at the same time and it enables the rapid removal toxins through the urine produced. The root of the dandelion is known to be a remarkably well balanced herbal remedy, the steady and gradual elimination of toxins accumulating in the body due to infection or pollution is accelerated by the root of the dandelion. In the treatment of a variety of conditions, the dandelion possesses major and effective therapeutic benefits, these include the treatment of persistent constipation, the treatment of various types of skin problems, including acne, and eczema, and diseases like psoriasis. The root also treats other types of arthritic conditions, including severe conditions such as osteoarthritis, and disorders like gout.

The gallbladder is markedly affected by both the dandelion root and the dandelion leaf remedies, these herbal remedies can also be used to prevent the formation of gallstones in the gallbladder. If gallstones are already present, then the remedy made from the dandelion leaf may still help, by dissolving such gallstones aiding in their elimination.

Various conditions such as warts, all types of fungus infections, and malignant growths within the body and on the outside, the presence of ulceration in the urinary passages can all be treated using the herbal remedies made from the dandelion. The remedies made from the dandelion possess a laxative action, they can be used to treat disorders in the stomach, and the herb promotes healthy circulation in the body, it also tones the skin, and is considered a cleanser and strengthener of blood vessels. Rheumatism is cured by the remedies made from the dandelion, it can also be used in the treatment of badly affected arthritic joints, and as a herbal remedy, it is a marvelous and effective general tonic. A fine herbal wine can be produced from the dandelion, it is furthermore used in the manufacture of a great herbal beer, the dried herb is an excellent substitute for coffee, it is used in the manufacture of an excellent food for birds, it is used to rear bees in apiculture, it is fed to pigs and rabbits in the farm, and even people consume the plant as food.

Other medical uses

Abscess
Addictions

Habitat Of Dandelion:

While extensively cultivated in France and Germany, the dandelion herb also grows wild in most parts of the world and is a garden plant in many countries. Spring is the season to start planting the plant, and the dandelion is propagated from stored seeds. Harvesting of the young leaves is carried out in the spring, and these are used in the manufacture of herbal tonic salads and processed as a herbal medicine following storage. Autumn is the time to harvest and remove the root of two-year-old dandelions – this is used in the manufacture of various herbal remedies.

Research:

The Journal known as the Planta Medica, published the results of a research in 1974, the study confirmed that the leaves of the dandelion plant possess a powerful diuretic action in the human body, however, the exact mode of action of the herbal remedy within the body is still not well understood, even though the property stated has been studied and confirmed in many test subjects. Dandelion leaves are not like many other conventional diuretics in their actions, all other diuretics tend to cause a loss of potassium in the body, however, the leaves of the dandelion are very rich in potassium, and the person using this herbal remedy tends to have a net gain of the mineral following the use of the remedy.

In the year 1959 published German research pointed out that the dandelion root possesses a very important and noticeable cleansing action on the tissues of the liver and eventually helps to stimulate the production of bile in the organ. The root of the dandelion also functions as a gentle laxative and has a mildly bitter taste.
Constituents:

Dandelion contains:
Leaves – bitter glycosides, carotenoids, terpenoids, choline, potassium salts, iron and other minerals, vitamins A, B, C, D.
Root – bitter glycosides, tannins, triterpenes, sterols, volatile oil, choline, asparagin, inulin.

Many different types of chemical compounds and organic constituents have been chemically isolated from dandelion and chiefly from its parts which lie buried beneath the ground – the rhizome and the roots of the dandelion. While these parts of the plant do contain a lot of chemicals, it is still difficult to connect the therapeutic utility in any of these chemicals to specifically identified chemical compounds. For example, some favorable effects on the digestive system seemed to be induced by the undefined bitter principle mentioned previously, this is now identified as the compound taraxacum, but the other chemicals, such as the compound reported to be the cause of the mild laxative action of the herb has not been identified, that the extract from leaves of the dandelion exhibit a pronounced diuretic effect was demonstrated in a recent experiment conducted on small animal, the extracts of the leaves had a diuretic action on the animals in the test, however, the chemical responsible for this action was never identified in the conclusion of the experiment and is still unknown. Another property was recently discovered and a very recent scientific report suggested that the triterpene fraction of an ethanol-based dandelion root extract produced very significant anti-platelet aggregation activity in the platelets in the human blood.

As An Herbal Tonic:

Doses differ from individual to individual and from one disorder to another, when used as a general tonic for the liver or the gallbladder and when used in a stimulatory for the digestion, about 3-5 grams of dried dandelion root or about 5-10 ml of a herbal dandelion tincture sourced from the root can be used in the treatment, this dose must be repeated thrice every day of the treatment period. As the identified bitter principle tends to be more soluble in alcohol, certain herbal experts also recommend taking only the alcohol-based herbal tincture – it is more effective in treating certain disorders. When the herb is used in the form of a mild diuretic or as a stimulant to awaken appetite, about 4-10 grams of the dried dandelion leaves can be taken mixed in 250 ml or a cup of boiling water. This herbal remedy must be drunk as a decoction whenever symptoms appear. If preferred about 5-10 ml of the fresh juice sourced from the leaves or even 2-5 ml of herbal tincture from the leaves can be used instead, take thrice every day during the treatment period.

Possible Side Effects and Precautions:

Large side effects and significant toxic properties appear to be absent in the herbal remedies made from the dandelion herb. However, a few individuals do tend to develop a reaction in the form of a skin rash – called allergic dermatitis, which often occurs following the repeated contact of the skin with remedies made from the herb. At the same time, it can be said that patients, in general, must not expect any significant therapeutic benefits from the use of any form of herbal remedy derived from the dandelion. Aside from their slight laxative action, the roots of the dandelion affect only positive changes in the body, including the stimulation of the appetite and the boosting of the digestive process. The temporary diuretic action of the herbal remedy made from the leaves of the dandelion plant is also well known, this particular remedy seems to have no other side effects in the body. At the same time, a lot of positive sides exist, and a lot of people do enjoy eating dandelion greens, the plant is as has been mentioned, a fairly good source of the vitamin A – and it can be used in this role itself.

It is suggested that individuals with developed gallstones must use remedies made from the dandelion leaves and roots with extra caution. The consumption of dandelion should not be contemplated at all if the person suffers from any form of physical obstruction in the bile ducts. Dandelion may cause an overproduction of the stomach acids and for people affected by long-term and persistent cases of stomach ulcer or gastritis, the use of dandelion should be done with extreme caution. Before taking any dandelion leaves, individuals who tend to experience fluid or water retention must make sure that they consult a nutritionally oriented and professional doctor – this must be done to avoid any side effects which can come unnoticed. The supervising doctor of the person taking the dandelion leaves should monitor the potassium levels in his or her patient at all times, during the duration of the supplemental period.

How Dandelion Works in the Body:

The essential mineral potassium is found in very high amounts in the leaves of the dandelion herb, this mineral balances important biochemical functions in the body and the leaves themselves contain other chemicals that function as powerful diuretic agents – the potassium acts as a balancing agent of these diuretics. When compared to conventional diuretics, which always require a supplement of the potassium mineral to balance the total requirements of the body for minerals – the difference between the dandelion and these conventional medications becomes apparent. The dandelion plant is used as a herbal remedy for alleviating painful urinary ailments in the Chinese system of medicine. Dandelion roots are used for other forms of herbal remedies and their essential function in the body is different, mostly they are used in the treatment of the liver and are used to bring about improvements in its overall functioning, and also they also find use as a mild laxative. Heat disorders are treated in the Chinese system using the herbal remedies sourced from the dandelion, heat disorders especially those affecting the liver, the symptoms of which can include redness, swelling, and the development of painful eyes are all treated using dandelion, the remedies made from the dandelion are also used in the treatment of damp or heat jaundice in different patients. The gallbladder is treated using a tonic made from both the leaves and the roots of the dandelion – this herb is very useful for such conditions. The dandelion is used to holistically cleanse the body and is a herbal detoxification agent, it is believed that the herb produces beneficial effects by removing the chemical pollutants in the body – thus cleansing it of harmful and toxic substances accumulated over time. Firm and hard abscesses are also treated using the dandelion remedies in the Chinese system, this is especially so if such abscesses involve tissues in the breast and in the digestive system of the person. Topical as well as internal herbal remedies can be derived from the dandelion to treat a variety of internal and external disorders. Lactation is promoted in nursing women, through the use of specific herbal dandelion remedies during the period of breastfeeding. In the Chinese system, the dandelion is credited with having bitter, sweet and cold properties.

Applications:

Leaves:
FRESH – When used fresh, the leaves can be added as a garnish to spring salads and it will function as a cleansing remedy and help in the detoxification of the body.
JUICE – The leaves of the dandelion can also be taken in the form of a puree; this can be carried out when a diuretic action is needed from the herb. Doses of the herbal remedy can be 20 ml of dandelion juice, taken thrice every day during the treatment period.
INFUSION – The infusion of the herb can also be used to have a less effective diuretic action than the juice. Though less powerful than the juice, the herbal infusion is a very cleansing remedy for the treatment of toxic conditions such as gout and eczema in the patient. The herbal infusion can also be used as a gentle stimulant on the liver and digestive system. The herbal infusion can be prepared using freshly dried dandelion leaves as and when needed.
TINCTURE – The herbal tincture form of the dandelion can also be used, and it is often added to other herbal remedies used in the treatment of a failing heart – the tincture ensures that the person has adequate levels of the essential mineral potassium in the body.

Root:
TINCTURE – The herbal tincture can be made from the roots of the dandelion, using the fresh roots, this remedy is used in the treatment of toxic conditions including gout, skin disorders such as eczema, or even mild to severe acne. The tincture made from the root of dandelion is also often prescribed as a liver stimulant to treat disorders in the liver and the accompanying conditions and related constipation.
DECOCTION – The herbal decoction of the dandelion can also be used, and the same usage conditions as those of the tincture apply to this form of dandelion remedy.

Dandelion Wine

4 cups (250 g) dandelion flowers picked around noon on a sunny day
2 untreated lemons (without the juice)
2 untreated oranges (without the juice)
1 T (15 g) white wine yeast, dry
16 cups (4 liters) boiled water
3 lbs (1.5 kg) honey (dandelion honey, if possible)

Pour the boiling water on the flowers. Dilute the honey in the mixture. Cut the citrus fruit into cubes and add to the mixture. Allow to ferment in an earthenware jar or in a large glass pitcher in a dark location at 68 F degrees (20 C degrees) for 3 weeks and stir with a large wooden spatula every 2 to 3 days. When fermentation is complete, strain using a clean cheesecloth. Bottle the wine and seal with a cork.
Age in a cool area for 9 months.
This wine is excellent for the gallbladder, for treating gout and uric acid, and is highly recommended for a pre-diabetic condition.
Drink half a glass before meals: it is delicious, has an original taste and adds zing!
Note: For those who are lazy, here is the modified recipe: Macerate 1 cup (60 g) flowers in 4 cups (1 liter) white wine for 1 month. Strain and sweeten to taste.

 

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Make Herbal Tonics from Spring Plants

Source:  Mother Earth Living

Rejuvenate your body and soul by incorporating safe, nourishing tonic plants into your spring diet.

By Marlene Adelmann

With spring comes young greens that help revitalize us after a long and restful winter.

Spring cleaning is a well-known task for the home, but seasonal cleansing can also be applied to our bodies. While winter provides wonderful opportunities for deep nourishment and rest, spring produces seasonal plants to help revitalize us. Traditionally, people have gathered these first green plants to reintroduce a wealth of vitamins and minerals to their diets, and to enlist the plants’ support for gentle detoxification and the overall strengthening of their bodies.

Many spring tonic herbs are bitter. Bitter flavors activate taste buds that promote good digestion by stimulating the production of digestive acids, enzymes, and bile. Some spring tonics are also diuretics, which aid the body in removing excess water and flushing out waste products. Yet other spring tonics, such as cleavers, chickweed, and violet, kick the lymphatic system into gear so it can filter and remove waste materials and pathogens that may have accumulated during the sometimes-sedentary habits of winter.

The following seasonal tonics are hardy, well-adapted plants that can be foraged or grown nationwide, or bought in bulk from reputable online herb stores.

Burdock Root (Arctium lappa): Typically harvested in the autumn of its first year or the spring of its second, herbalists use this mildly bitter root as an alterative to support eliminatory organs in clearing wastes from blood, and as a diuretic to help flush excess water from the body. Peel, chop, and enjoy burdock root in stir-fries and soups, or as a decoction (1 to 2 teaspoons of chopped root, simmered in 1 cup of water for 15 minutes, and then strained). Burdock has become more popular in recent years, and you may be able to find the root in local health food stores or Asian grocery stores.

Chickweed (Stellaria media): One of the first greens of spring and last greens of fall, chickweed loves cold weather. This plant’s botanical name means “little stars,” a nod to its star-shaped white flowers. As a lymphatic and diuretic, chickweed decongests the lymphatic system and clears excess water from the body. Juicy chickweed flowers, leaves, and stems are delicious raw in salads or steeped as a tea (add 1 to 2 teaspoons of chickweed to 6 ounces of boiling water). Chickweed has a fresh, green taste without any bitterness.

Cleavers (Galium aparine): Cleavers (also known as “bedstraw”) is easy to identify as it has small, prickly hairs covering its stalk and leaves, which causes the plant to stick to itself or passing objects. Harvest the aboveground parts of cleavers in early spring; these can be juiced, infused in cold water, or eaten in salads or on sandwiches. Cleavers has been used to stimulate and decongest the lymphatic system, and as a diuretic to help remove excess water.

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale): Young dandelion greens are tender and less bitter than mature leaves, so harvest new growth throughout the season. One cup of these raw nutritive leaves contains 535 percent of the recommended daily value of vitamin K, and 112 percent of vitamin A. Bitter dandelion leaves are a liver tonic and are also a well-known and powerful diuretic. Eat dandelion greens in a salad, cooked like kale, or added to a zesty pesto.

Lambsquarters (Chenopodium album): Lambsquarters is easy to identify, with goosefoot-shaped leaves that have white or gray powder on their undersides. If gathered when young and tender, lambsquarters is a delicious and nutritive stand-in for spinach eaten either raw or, more usually, cooked. One cup of cooked lambsquarters contains 1,112 percent of the recommended daily value of vitamin K, 281 percent of vitamin A, 111 percent of vitamin C, and is also high in calcium and manganese.

Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica): Harvest the bright-green tops of nettle as soon as they emerge in spring. (Wear gloves to avoid the sting, which can be neutralized by drying or cooking.) Nettle is a nutritive tonic that supports the body, as well as a diuretic. Blanched nettle can provide between 90 and 100 percent of the recommended daily value of vitamin A, and it’s a good source of dietary calcium, iron, and protein. Cook nettle as you would spinach, sauté it before blending it into pesto, or steep it in boiled water for a nutrient-rich spring tea.

Violet (Viola spp.): While there are more than 550 species of violets, those most commonly chosen for edible and medicinal use are sweet violet, common blue violet, and Johnny-jump-up. Violet leaves and flowers are used for lymphatic congestion and are diuretic as well. As lovely and mellow spring greens, the tender young leaves are a delight in pesto or salads. Violet flowers make a pleasant tea or garnish and can also be candied or frozen in ice cubes.

Spring Tonic Recipes

While the following recipes call for particular greens, feel free to mix and match from the previous list to suit your tastes and what grows near you.

Forager’s Pesto

This wild-harvested version of pesto is zingier than regular basil pesto, but just as creamy and delicious. Try wild pesto with pasta, as a sandwich spread, stirred into soups and scrambled eggs, or layered in a lasagna. Yield: about 2 cups.

• 2 to 4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
• 1/2 cup pine nuts or walnut pieces
• 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
• 3 cups mellow greens (lambsquarters, spinach, chickweed, violet leaf, lettuce, or blanched nettle)
• 1/2 cup bitter, spicy greens (dandelion or arugula)
• 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
• Sea salt, to taste

1. In the bowl of a food processor, combine garlic, nuts, cheese, and greens. Process until finely chopped.
2. With processor running on low, slowly add oil, and then process until smooth.
3. Season with salt and either serve immediately, refrigerate for several days, or freeze.

Wild Greens Salad

Bitter greens, such as dandelion, pair perfectly with mellower greens, such as lettuce, violet leaves, and chickweed. You can garnish the salad with lovely violet flowers, too. Yield: 2 servings.

• 2 cups butter lettuce
• 1 cup young violet leaves or chickweed
• 1/2 cup young dandelion leaves
• Handful of violet flowers (optional)

1. Tear or chop butter lettuce into bite-sized pieces.
2. In a bowl, combine lettuce with remaining greens.
3. Garnish with violet flowers, if using.
4. Toss with 4 tablespoons Simple Vinaigrette (recipe below), and serve.

Simple Vinaigrette

Homemade salad dressing is so simple! To the basic formula below, you can also add chopped herbs and garlic, or try substituting different oils and vinegars.

Yield: 1/2 cup.

• 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
• 2 tablespoons balsamic or white wine vinegar
• 1 teaspoon maple syrup or honey
• 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
• Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Combine the ingredients above, stir or shake well, and then enjoy over a fresh spring salad.

Spring Nettle with Garlic-Lemon White Beans

Nettle can be substituted for cooked spinach or other dark leafy greens in about any recipe — just be sure to steam nettles well in order to inactivate the sting! Yield: 2 to 4 servings.

• 1 medium to large bunch fresh nettle leaves (about 4 to 6 cups)
• One 15-ounce can white beans, such as cannellini, drained and rinsed
• 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
• 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
• Juice of 1/2 lemon
• Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. While wearing gloves, carefully remove nettle leaves from their stems. Rinse in a colander.

2. Add rinsed nettles to a steamer basket set over water, and then steam for 10 to 15 minutes, or until tender.

3. In a soup pot, combine beans, garlic, olive oil, and lemon juice. Heat through.

4. Stir the greens into the beans, and then season the dish with salt and pepper. Serve warm.

These recipes are just a starting point for integrating spring tonics into your diet. They can invite creativity into the kitchen while nourishing you with their vitamins and minerals. As winter turns to spring, these humble plant allies can help you greet the new season with vitality.

Marlene Adelmann is an experienced herbalist and the founder of the Herbal Academy.

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Herb: Dandelion

The Loathed Weed and Cure-All of the Lawn

Reader Contribution by Jennifer Heinzel
Source: Mother Earth Living

“Golden lads and girls all must, as chimney sweepers, come to dust” —William Shakespeare

Dandelion was one of the most loved and “esteemed plants of the herbalist,” especially by the famous Arabian herbalist Avicenna, and was referred to as “blessed medicine” in the 18th century in Europe. Though a native to Greece, it has been used medicinally and as food throughout the world, but more so in Germany, China and England. Across the world it has been loved by foragers and herbalists alike, such as Rosemary Gladstar who is “convinced, [that dandelion] is one of the greatest herbs of all time. The entire plant is restorative and rejuvenating.” Besides its popular reputation by historical and current-day herbalists alike, there is no other herb in the United States that is so “well known, so easily recognized, so much hated, so systematically singled out for extermination—and so little understood—as the dandelion.” Despite most people in the U.S. seeing the dandelion as only a weed, it is “ironically just those long, tenacious roots which contain the major portion of its wealth in natural minerals and alkaloids!” So before you spray your lawn, think twice about exterminating this restorative herb.

The dandelion (Taraxacum officinale), which is a part of the Asteracea family, ironically has many folk names for being such an aggressive, but medicinally useful, weed. Some of the more famous names include wild endive, blow ball, lion’s teeth, goats beard, fairy clock and peasant’s cloak, though it’s more interesting how the dandelion got its name. It started as the Latin Dens Leonis, to the Greek Leotodum. Once it crossed borders again to France, it changed to the French’s dent-de-lion, and lastly to the current day English version dandelion. Also, true to its name, the dandelion possesses long, lion teeth-like leaves that emerge from the taproot (usually around 2 to 12 inches long), forming a rosette of green leaves.

Some of the first records of dandelion being medicinally utilized were of the Egyptians, described by a Greek scholar 300 years before Christ. However, it was the Arabian physicians of the Middle Ages who first “officially recognized the plant’s medicinal properties and named it Taraxacon, from the Greek taraxos, for ‘disorder,’ and akos for ‘remedy.'” Another folk name-related medicinal use comes from the French name for dandelion,“piss en lit”, or literally “piss in the night.” Dandelion has strong diuretic properties and was commonly used by 18th century French squires for gout.

The uses of dandelion are as vast, boundless and varied as its folk names, including China’s more than 1,000-year use of it in the treatment of breast cancer, to being very “effectual for the obstructions of the liver, gall and spleen.” It was also noted to effectively treat jaundice and urinary infections, according to the famous English botanist Nicholas Culpeper. One of the most medicinally concentrated parts is the root (for when fresh leaves are not available). The roots are best dug up in the fall or spring of the second year. This was traditionally done so by the French-Canadians; Icelanders fried the roots as well. Another way people knew of dandelion, though not to my surprise, was as a magical plant. The dandelion was believed to increase a person’s physhic powers. In the 16th century a man named Matthiolus recorded that “magicians say that if a person rub himself all over with [dandelion], he will everywhere be welcome and obtain what he wishes.” Also in this century in England, John Evelyn noted that the leaves of the famous bitter green had “been sold at most Herb Shops about London for being a wonderful Purifier of the Blood.” Another famous English herbalist, John Gerard, compared dandelion to chicory (called ‘succorie’ at the time), because it was another coffee substitue, and “thrived especially in gardens and ‘highe ways much troden.'”

Another famous herbalist of the 19th through the 20th centuries, Maude Grieve, stated that dandelion tea is “efficacious in bilious affections.” In fact, most herbalists believe that the beneficence of such of tea is almost boundless. In Eastern medicine, they traditionally used dandelion to heal liver complaints; they also used the coarsely ground root to heal snake bites and to inhibit the growth of tumor cells in a mixture along with kelp and gotu kola.

Being so rich in vitamins and minerals, it’s no wonder that dandelion is so widely used and grown throughout the world. Dandelion is very rich in protein, magnesium, phosphorous, iron, niacin, riboflavin, magnesium, potassium and vitamins A, B, C, D, G and E. The leaves, amazingly enough, contain 7,000 units of vitamin A per ounce. In comparison to lettuce being 1,200 units per ounce of vitamin C, and to carrot being 1,275 units per ounce is quite astounding. With dandelion containing many vitamins and minerals, it’s no wonder that it treats many disorders such as anemia, IBS and sluggish bowel. It also improves the health of all digestive organs, including the liver, gallbladder and kidneys, and treats blood sugar problems. Dandelion treats the nutrient-deficient ailment anemia very well, since anemia is caused by a deficiency of nutritive salts present in the blood. With dandelion’s high levels of potassium, iron and vitamin B, this especially helps in the treatment of anemia, because this ailment is also caused from a the lack of iron, B-12 and folic acid.

When it comes to improving the health of digestive organs, no other herb can beat the dandelion. All parts of the dandelion are medicinal—the leaves specifically are a diuretic, which helps in the treatment of gout and other bladder related-ailments; and the two-year roots, when dug up in the fall, are the best age and medicinal quality. At this time, all of the energy and medicinal properties are concentrated in the roots, including the compound inulin. Overall, the dandelion is a very good liver and gallbladder cleanser and decongestant,. It enhances the health of all other organs as well. Current-day European herbalists use the juice of the dandelion root, specifically, in the treatment of diabetes, liver disease and other liver-related diseases such as eczema and arthritis. As a side note, dandelion can also externally be used to treat warts, old blisters and hard pimples. The split stem was used by Native Americans to treat stings.

Lastly, the glandular activity, which is stimulated with the juice of the entire plant, is used by European herbalists and is used to improve lymph drainage,when mixed with other herbs such as mullein, cleavers and calendula. Along with improving the intake of nutrients—being a nutrient-dense herb in its own right—the dandelion also improves the health of all digestive organs, and thus improves all digestion-related-ailments. Therefore, it can improve appetite, ease sluggish-bowel,and improve the assimilation of nutrients. A Belgian study, using a five-herb combination with dandelion, showed that more than “95 percent of IBS sufferers were pain-free after 15 days of treatment and also improved regularity.” Dandelion is a blood purifier, removes poisons and toxins from the blood and helps the kidneys and liver remove toxins.

Having mentioned historical ways to take this medicine, many people prefer taking it as a decoction or as a wine. Having done none of these much, I much prefer to eat my medicine. My favorite way to eat the dandelion is in an omelet and here is my own recipe:

Wild Green & Dandelion Omelet

SERVES 1

• 2 to 3 fresh local eggs
• Sweet peppers, chopped into small squares
• 1 to 2 handfuls fresh dandelion greens, cut up
• About 3 sprigs lamb’s quarters, ripped up
• 1 to 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
• 1 sprig tarragon, chopped
• About 3 chives, cut up
• Goat cheese
• Salsa

1. Scramble the eggs in a bowl with a fork. Pour into a heated oiled or sprayed pan. After about 1 minute add the sweet peppers, dandelion greens and lamb’s quarters. Then, after 1 to 2 minutes later, add the garlic, tarragon and chives.

2. Flip one side of the omelet to cover the other half of it. Turn off the heat and cover with goat cheese (or another cheese based on personal taste), salt, pepper and salsa. ENJOY!!

References

+ For more information on folk names, traditional uses and a Dandelion Wine recipe, see Pamela Jones’s book “Just Weeds.”

+ For more information on obscure ailments dandelion treats and traditional uses, see Juliette de Bairacli Levy’s book “Common Herbs for Natural Health.”

+ For scientific studies related to dandelion, see Kathi Keville’s book “Herbs for Health and Healing.”

+ For dandelion tea recipes, see Rosemary Gladstar’s book “Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health.”

+ For a dandelion root coffee recipe, visit Mountain Rose Herb’s website.

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Herb: Crampbark

Viburnum opulus

Also, Known As:

  • Crampbark
  • Cranberry Bush
  • Cranberry Tree
  • Guelder Rose
  • Pembina
  • Pimbina
  • Whitten Tree

Crampbark (botanical name Viburnum opulus) is basically a shrub that is indigenous to Europe as well as North America and is also found growing in the northern regions of Africa and Asia. The US National Formulary documented crampbark as late as in the 1960’s in the form of a tranquilizer for conditions related to the nervous system as well as in the form of an antispasmodic in treating asthma. As the name ‘crampbark’ suggests, the therapeutic use of this herb is primarily related to easing cramps as well as other conditions, for instance, painful menstruation due to excessive tightening of the muscles as well as colic.

Crampbark is a shrub that sheds its leaves annually (deciduous) and usually grows up to a height of 4 meters to 5 meters. The leaves of this herb appear opposite to each other on the stalk and each leaf has three lobes that are about 5 cm to 10 cm in length and width having a smooth base and roughly indented margins. The leaves of crampbark have a resemblance to those of some varieties of maples and can be told apart very easily by means of their rather creased surface having an underlying network of veins on the leaf. The leaf buds of crampbark are green in color and have bud scales that meet without overlying (valvate).

This shrub bears white flowers possessing both the male as well as the female parts (hermaphrodite). The flowers are produced in a type of inflorescence called corymbs that are about 4 cm to 11 cm across at the apex of the stems. Every corymb includes an outer circle of sterile flowers that is about 1.5 cm to 2 cm across having very noticeable petals, which encircle a small center of fertile flowers. This center of small flowers is about 5 mm in diameter. Crampbark blossoms during the beginning of the summer and is mainly insect-pollinated. The fruit of crampbark has the shape of a globe and is actually a vividly red drupe that measures about 7 mm to 10 mm across. The fruits of this shrub enclose a solitary seed, which is scattered by birds for propagation.

Plant Part Used:

Bark from branches.

Therapeutic Use:

In North America, a native tribe called the Meskwaki ingested preparations from crampbark to ease pains and cramps all over the body. On the other hand, the Penobscot, another indigenous tribe of North America, employed crampbark to cure distended glands as well as mumps.

Crampbark has a number of therapeutic uses, for instance, it is very useful in alleviating any type of excessive muscle stress, including the smooth intestinal muscles, the muscles of the uterus and airways as well as the striated muscle in the back or the limbs – the striated muscles are those that bind the muscles to the skeleton. In order to ease stressed muscles, you may use crampbark both internally and also apply it topically on the affected areas. In addition, crampbark is also useful in treating symptoms related to extreme muscle tension, painful menstruation owing to too much tightening of the uterus as well as to ease breathing problems in the case of asthma. To treat conditions, such as back pain and night cramps, generally, crampbark is blended with lobelia. This herb also provides relief from other conditions, including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), constipation and colic.

Using crampbark in a number of instances of arthritis wherein the joint debility, as well as pain, have resulted in the contraction of the muscles till they nearly become firm may also significantly relieve the condition. When the muscles begin to unwind, there is an improvement in the blood circulation to the affected area, while waste products created by the different bodily processes, for instance, lactic acid, are eliminated from the body. As a result of this, the normal functioning of the body resumes.

As mentioned earlier, crampbark is also employed in the form of a tranquilizer for treating conditions related to the nervous system. Chemical analysis of crampbark has revealed that this herb possesses astringent, antispasmodic as well as sedative properties. In addition, this herb also encloses a coumarin called ‘scopoletin’, which produces a sedative influence on the uterus. A tea prepared with crampbark is taken internally to ease every type of seizures, counting spasms following childbirth and susceptible miscarriage as well as menstrual cramps. In addition, this herb is also used in the treatment of weakness and nervous problems.

The bark of this shrub is generally collected during autumn prior to the color of the plant’s leaves changing. Alternately, the bark is also harvested during the spring prior to the opening of the leaf buds and dehydrated for use when necessary later. The leaves, as well as the fruits of crampbark, possess emetic, purgative and anti-scorbutic attributes. The freshly harvested bark of crampbark is also used to prepare a homeopathic remedy, which is employed to treat menstrual pain as well as spasms the following childbirth.

The bark of this herb is also commonly utilized in treating high blood pressure (hypertension) as well as other conditions that are related to the circulatory system.

Habitat of Crampbark:

Crampbark is found growing on its own in forest lands, thickets and hedges in the eastern regions of North America as well as Europe, where this shrub has its origin. This shrub is generally propagated by means of its seeds, which are ideally sown during autumn. The bark of the shrub’s branches is harvested during spring and summer, especially during the period between April and May, when the plants are in full bloom.

Crampbark can be grown without any difficulty and this plant thrives well in most soils. However, crampbark is unable to get used to inferior quality soils as well as parched conditions. Crampbark has a preference for a deep, fertile, damp clay soil and a sunlit position. Although this herb thrives in partial shades, it neither grows well nor bears fruits when grown in such positions. Heavy loamy soils, as well as chalk, are ideal for the most excellent growth of crampbark, but it does not grow well when cultivated on soils that are extremely acidic. The plants grow excellently provided they are given some shelter from the early morning sun during the spring. Crampbark is an extremely ornamental shrub and is frequently cultivated in flower gardens to enhance their beauty. It may be noted that crampbark is able to endure temperatures as low as -30ºC. When it is trimmed down to the level of the ground crampbark possesses the aptitude to rejuvenate very rapidly and develops into thickets in no time by means of their suckers. It is worth mentioning here that this shrub is also a substitute host for the aphid that infests the broad beans and sucks out their sap.

As aforementioned, crampbark is propagated by means of its seeds, which are ideally sown in a cold frame immediately when they mature during autumn. Crampbark seeds germinate rather sluggishly, at times it even takes over 18 months for the seeds to sprout. Provided the seeds have been collected ‘green’ – completely developed, but just to ripen, and sown soon after, they ought to germinate sometime during the spring. However, if you are using stored seeds, they would need to be warmed for about two months and subsequently cold stratification for another three months. Even after these five months, stored crampbark seeds may need another 18 months from the day of sowing to sprout. When the seedlings have grown sufficiently large to be handled, they need to be picked out individually and planted in separate containers and grown in either a greenhouse or a cold frame. The young crampbark plants can be transplanted into their permanent positions outdoors during the end of spring or beginning of summer in the next year.

Alternately, crampbark may also be grown from cuttings of softwood of the plant in a frame during the beginning of summer. When these wood cuttings start developing roots, plant them in separate pots and the young plants propagated by this method may be planted in their permanent positions outdoors during the end of spring or early part of summer in the subsequent year. In order to propagate crampbark by means of its soft-root cuttings, ideally cut semi-mature wood into pieces each having a length of 5 cm to 8 cm and preferably having a heel. Make the cuttings in July or August and plant them in a frame immediately. As soon as these wood cutting begin to root, plant them in separate pots. It may be noted here that it is very difficult to sustain these wood cuttings over winter and, therefore, it is ideal to grow them either in a cold frame or in a greenhouse till the subsequent spring prior to planting them outdoors.

In case you are using mature wood of the herb, the cuttings should ideally be done during winter and planted in a frame. Generally, these mature wood-cuttings of crampbark should develop roots during the beginning of the spring. When the young plants have grown sufficiently large to be handled, plant them in their permanent positions outdoors directly during the summer. Provided the growth of the plants from the mature wood-cuttings is not adequate, it is advisable to continue growing them in pots in a cold frame throughout the subsequent winter and plant them outdoors during the spring next year.

Research:

The therapeutic, as well as other properties of crampbark, have not been researched sufficiently and, hence, scientists are yet to ascertain the active constituents of this herb. In addition, there seem to be several uncertainties regarding the active constituents of crampbark. In effect, many of the active constituents of crampbark are similar to those contained in another closely related plant called black haw.

Constituents:

  • coumarins
  • hydroquinones
  • resin
  • tannins

Recommended Dosage:

The standard dosages of different formulations of crampbark for treating different conditions differ. A decoction prepared from crampbark is generally taken when one is enduring a spasm and not continuously. Take the decoction in the dosage of 100 ml or 4 Fl. ounces for a maximum six times every day to ease spasms caused by painful menstrual periods or other reasons.

Alternately, one may also use a tincture prepared from the bark of the crampbark shrub to ease spasms. This tincture ought to be taken internally in the dosage of 2.5 ml (50 drops) for a maximum six times daily. For external use of the tincture to ease muscle spasms, make a proper blend of 2 ml (about 40 drops) of crampbark tincture and 30 grams (about 1.5 ounces) of any cream, such as comfrey, and apply it on the affected parts. In addition, if possible, you may also include 2 ml (40 drops) of tincture prepared from lobelia to this blend, as it will enhance the anti-spasmodic actions of the mixture. For best results, this blend should be applied thrice daily to the affected areas.

Possible Side effects and Precautions:

People who are using crampbark for therapeutic reasons or intend to use the herb ought to be aware of the possible side effects of this herb and exercise necessary precautions. Consuming large amounts of the crampbark fruits may result in diarrhea and vomiting. Although the crampbark is not toxic, or even if it is, the toxicity level is very poor, it may result in mild stomach disorders when consumed in large amounts.

How Crampbark Works in the Body:

The herb crampbark works to unwind the muscles, especially the soft muscles. As discussed earlier, whereas the Populus species of crampbark is believed to work on the body in general, the prunin folium species works especially to unwind or loosen up the uterine muscles. Therefore, the primary function of crampbark is involved with the reproductive system of women, for instance, providing respite from the spasms that happen during menstrual periods. In addition, this herb has been traditionally used to treat threatening miscarriage. However, when you are using crampbark especially to treat threatening miscarriage, always ensure that the medicine is being administered under the direct care of a competent and qualified physician or healthcare provider.

In addition to the functions of crampbark in the body that have been mentioned above, this herb has several other uses in various different systems of our body. For instance, crampbark is used to ease the symptoms of various conditions related to spasms in the stomach, including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). It is also used to treat conditions related to the respiratory system, such as loosening up the airways in the instance of asthma and, also employed for treating the musculoskeletal system to provide respite from tension/ stress in the case of pain caused by arthritis. Crampbark is also used in conjunction with various other herbs for treating problems related to the cardiovascular system as well as to lower high blood pressure (hypertension).

 Harvesting Crampbark:

The bark of crampbark shrub, which possesses most of the plant’s therapeutic properties, is usually harvested during the period between April and May. Subsequent to the harvesting, the bark is sliced into smaller parts, dried and stored for later use.

Combination Herbals:

While crampbark may be used internally as well as externally on its own, often it is also combined with other herbs to treat specific conditions. For instance, the bark is combined with wild yam and prickly ash to ease cramps. In order to ease ovarian and uterine pain or even susceptible miscarriage, crampbark may well be used in combination with valerian and black haw.

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