Shake the only hand of Tyr

Shake the only hand of Tyr

Tyr (referred to as Tiw, Tiu or Tew in Old English) was the god of combat. He had just one hand and the story behind it is as follows.

The prophecy of the sybil that three siblings would bring troubles to gods alarmed the pantheon and Odin (see also the section for Wednesday) decided to get rid of them. One of them was Fenrir, a huge mythological wolf. They tried to bound him, but he was too strong and tore any chain they used.

Finally they asked dwarves to make a special, untearable binding called Gleipnir. It consisted of six wondrous ingredients which do not exist any longer because the gods took them from the world for good. These were the sound of a cat’s footfall, the beard of a woman, the breath of a fish, the roots of a mountain, the sinews of a bear (meaning rather sensibilities in this case) and the spittle of a bird.

Fenrir did not believe them that they would set him free again after having tried the binding on him. Tyr had to put his arm in his mouth as the guarantee. That is why one of his arms is missing. And again, when Ragnarok begins, the wolf will free himself from Gleipnir and avenge this deception by devouring Odin.

In Romance languages, this day belongs to Mars, the Roman god of war (martes in Spanish, mardi in French).

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Goddesses Associated With Tuesday

Soorejnaree, Pinga1la, Anna, Aine, Danu, Yngona, Bellona, Aida Wedo, Sun Woman


The Goddess Book of Days
Diane Stein

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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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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).


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.


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.


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
Lion’s Tooth
Puff Ball
Pu Gong Ying
Swine Snout
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


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.


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.

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.


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.

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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