Friday, July 29, 2011

Borage - Sunday, July 29, 2011

(Borago officinalis)
Boraginaceae family
Other names: Purple Bee Star, Starflower
“to purge the veins of melancholy” (Burton, Anatomy of Melancholy 1621)
Description: (from my observation)
  • fine & not so pleasant to the touch hairs - cover the entire plant excluding the flowers
  • stem; round
  • leaves; alternating, elliptic, pinnately veined
  • flowers; receme, inflorscence, five petals, blue stars
  • roots; (unknown at this time; did not dig)
Borage grows easily in my garden inviting in the bees with it’s beauty. As I harvest the flowers I ensure to only take some and share the rest with the bees.
Borage leaves and flowers have a mild cucumber flavor.
Habit: Hardy annual with lanceolate, hairy, green leaves and five-petalled, star-shaped blue flowers.
Habitat: Chalky to rich, well-drained soil in full sun
Medicinal uses: The leaves and flowers stimulate the release of adrenaline (epinephrine), the “courage” hormone that gears the body for action under stress.
Borage is said to comfort the heart, dispel melancholy and strengthen resolve.
A borage cough syrup can be made to ease dry cough, or relieve a cold, fever or other signs of respiratory congestion.
Additional uses: Drink borage flowers to lighten the spirits and raise confidence as ancient Romans used to do. The flowers can be used to decorate salads and cakes and are frozen in ice cubes.
Preparations: tea or syrup of leaves, tincture of flowers
Contraindication: eat leaves in moderation
(Bremness, Lesley. The Essential Herbs Handbook, Duncan Baird Publishers 2009)
(Bremness, Lesley. HERBS, United States by DK Publishing, Inc. 2002)
(Linford, Jenny. A Pocket Guide to Herbs, Parragon Publishing Book 2007)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Nervines - Sunday, July 17, 2011

Felt like I was walking on clouds today after class as we experienced so many nervine tinctures. Wow! Nervines are beneficial to the nervous system. 

Top 3 nervines of the day include, St. John’s Wart, Skullcap and Milky Oat. 

Other nervines of the day include, Damiana, Rose, Lavendar, Chamomile, Lemon Balm, Feverfew, Blue Vervain, Pedicularis, California Poppy, Hops, Valerian, Passion Flower and Kava.

We infused St. John’s Wort in extra virgin olive oil. We cut the top 3 or so inches off of the top; flowers, stem and leaf. Garbled and chopped the Hypericum, placed it in a very dry and clean jar, then poured the extra virgin olive oil over the top. I have placed mine in my window with a cheese cloth over the top to sit for the next 8-10 days. The cheese cloth will allow any water to evaporate, which is very important as mold could grow and ruin the medicine. The alternative would be to keep the lid on and remove water with a clean paper towel off of the top twice a day. 
This after noon I also harvested Mugwart, Borage, Calendula and California Poppy to make tinctures.
Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris)
  • 40%; Arctos - Cora House; vodka
  • buds stem, leaves
  • 16 ounces
Borage (Borago officinalis)
  • 40%; Jovial Garden #2; vodka
  • flowers
  • 16 ounces
Calendula (Calendula officinalis)
  • 40%; Jovial Garden; vodka
  • flowers
  • 16 ounces
California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica)
  • 40%; KEV Herb Circle; Everclear & filtered water
  • flowers, stem, leaf
  • 8 ounces

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Mid-Elevation Meadows and Forests - Saturday, July 16, 2011

A wonderful day full of amazing energy today as we drive out Foster through Damascus to Mt. Hood National Forest. I got to drive today and what a delight to drive such a familiar route that I haven’t taken in so long. Filled up the Zipcar with 5 herbies and followed a car of 5 more of us out for adventures in botany.

Today, a bit of wildcrafting:
Western Coltsfoot (Petasites frigidus)
  • 40%; Zigzag River; vodka
  • leaf and stem
  • 8 ounces
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
  • 40%; clear cut near meadow; vodka
  • flowers, stem, leaves
  • 8 ounces
Today during our first stop where we harvested the Petasites it was a drizzle of rain with the sun peaking out every now and a bit. The forest was beautiful and the ground was soft and spongy; everything was green and radiant. The Petasites grew in a flood plane near Alders and Western Hemlock. I harvested one big leaf and stem to place in my paper bag to process upon return to home. I cut the stem off at the bottom near the earth with a pocket knife. At home, I chopped the leaf and the stem into small bits, added to the 8 ounce jar then poured 40% Crater Lake vodka over the top. The Petasites showed it’s mucilaginous properties as I was cutting up the leaf. Petasites smells so very delicious and yummy. Thank you Petasites for coming home with me to be very important medicine. 
Petasites frigidus is found from sea level to about 4000 feet in the mountains. It seems to like boggy and disturbed area including drainage ditches and roadsides. (Gradey)
Our second stop was higher in elevation and we got to enjoy the bright blue sky with the warmth of amazing sunshine. The clear cut where we harvested the Yarrow was dry and dusty with lots of dried out and rotted trees. There were many Yarrow plants growing happily upon this hill of clear cut. I visited many plants determining if each one would like to come home with me. Upon finding willing plants, I cut with a pocket knife above a node taking stem, leaf and flower. I also took some ground leaves, placing everything in a paper bag. Upon returning to my kitchen, I cut the Yarrow into small pieces, placed in an 8 ounce jar, then poured 40% vodka covering the plant. Thank you Yarrow for your amazing and versatile medicine.
Yarrow is in the Compositae or Asteraceae family growing by rhizomes often in large colonies. We have now seen Yarrow growing from the coast to mid-elevation meadows. (Gradey) According to herbalist CoreyPine, Yarrow is a top herb to keep in a first-aid kit. CoreyPine stated Yarrow as a bitter, anti-septic, stanches bleeding, anti-microbial and used to; stimulate late menses, a sore throat gargle, for mild diarrhea and to lower fever. It is a blood mover that stops bleeding. 
According to The Essential Herbs Handbook, the core benefits of Yarrow include: 
  • encourages sweating
  • staunches blood flow
  • aids digestion
The flowering tops yield: 
  • a cleaning tonic
  • a digestive
  • a diuretic used to treat high blood pressure
  • a useful tonic for oily skin
Yarrow’s botanical name (Achillea millefolium) honors the Greek warrior Achilles, who was instructed in a dream to use yarrow leaves to staunch the blood of this soldiers’ wounds.
(Bremness, Lesley. The Essential Herbs Handbook, Duncan Baird Publishers 2009)
According to Michael Moore, Yarrow:
  • Yarrow is a perennial
  • The flowers are highest in aromatic constituents
  • The foliage is higher in tannin constituents
  • The roots hold their aromatics in complex resins
  • beneficial for acute fevers
  • hot infusion or tincture in water stimulates sweating and moderately lowers the temperature
  • an effective hemostatic and sometimes helps bleeding hemorrhoids and nosebleeds
  • stops/slows bleeding from cuts or scraped knees or elbows
  • will help in recovering from gastroenteritis (intestinal flu)
  • as an anti-inflammatory for muscle pain and joint inflammation
(Moore, Michael. Medicinal Plants of the Pacific West, Red Crane Books 2003)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Taking a Nervine - July 2011

Homework includes selecting a nervine herb that I would like to use for one week, three times per day. Research regarding dosing must be done selecting three different book sources.

Common Name: Hops
Latin Name: Humulus lupulus
Plant Family: cannabaceae or hemp family
Dosage suggestions & sources
Per Herb Pharm tincture bottle: two to five times per day take 30-40 drops in a little water.
Per Medicinal Plants of the Pacific West; Michael Moore: 30 to 90 drops as needed.
Form in which I will be taking the herb: Herb Pharm tincture of dried, lupulin-rich strobiles (female flowers) purchased from People’s Coop; certified organically grown.
Notes: According to Rosemary Gladstar’s Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health, Hops is a nerve sedative, which directly relaxes the nervous system and helps reduce pain, ease tension and encourage sleep. Hops gently soothes and nourishes the peripheral nerves and muscle tissue.
Background: Over a week ago I fractured a rib or so it feels that way and the urgent care doctor seemed to think that was the case as well. I have a most constant throb-like irritating pain under my right breast that has radiated into my back directly behind it. This pain is tolerable as long as I do not attempt too much activity. This pain worsen greatly during actions of getting up or laying down, breathing deep, sneezing, coughing, etc. This unfortunate situation isn’t horrible as long as I do not do much or get up and down a lot. I’ve been slowly working yoga back into my days and I’ve been ensuring to breath deeply. Day 11 of broken rib is day one of hops tincture. Otherwise, I have been drinking Nettle, Hawthorne and Comfrey tea. 
Day one: Monday, July 4, 2011: The drops of Hops cloud the water as I drop about 30 drops into my small cup of water. The full dropper is about 30 or 35 drops. Hops makes me very mellow. I took The 2nd dose of the day straight into my mouth without water. This made me nauseous. Then after a bit I took a nap; a very sound and lovely nap. Hops makes my body feel very relaxed.
Day two: I feel like I sedated myself appropriately yesterday.
I drank a few beers throughout the day. Later in the evening I was experiencing anxiety from the loads of fireworks and the smoke. I took some respiratory syrup as I was exposed to toxic smoke. My friend and I drank some kava kava tea, then I topped that off with more hops and some pot. I slept well after that despite the horrible explosions. I am too sensitive for this holiday! I do not believe in all of this madness and disconnection; but that's another story. I awoke feeling like more sleep would be good; not a complete 8 hours-plus received - oh well. I feel good otherwise, my body was still very relaxed and in need of yoga. My hamstrings are awful tight! 
I took a dose in water this morning on a mostly empty stomach which doesn't feel great. Will be eating some oatmeal shortly; mmm oatmeal!
My rib pain is slowly dissipating; thanks to much rest over the three day weekend. I was able to do downward dog during my yoga practice yesterday and going from sitting to lying down and back is much easier. Still taking time from riding my bike. I find it a difficult line between resting to heal and getting back into exercise to heal. I shall feel this out and practice yoga and walk and soon I will feel the need to ride my bike; it's okay to take this resting time. As soon as I am healed I will get back into a exercise routine that helps me strengthen to achieve my summer adventure goals for 2012!
Day three:  Hops is said to sooth the stomach, but not so much upon my mostly empty stomach. I won't eat breakfast until I get to work, so should of probably waited to take tincture. I have some gums bothering me with flossing pain/bleeding, so I held the tincture in my mouth in hopes that it would help with that bother - I think so, gums aren't as irritated.
Yesterday, I took 30 drops three times. If the afternoon I got quite sleepy and nodded off a bit. This happens sometimes due to the monotony of my job and can't be completely contributed to the tincture, though I am sure it helped. 
My rib is healing; pain is less. Mostly what I need now is more and more yoga. I always feel better the more yoga that I practice.
I am a pretty mellow person and I seem to be quite mellow on the hops except for being irritated yesterday. A coworker was especially bothersome to me. Hopefully today I can center and not let him get to me.
Day four: I only took hops once yesterday. I forgot to take it. I will try to remember better today. My days are busy lately with work, classes, plays and dance parties and no complaints! Scheduled rest in 2 days :)
So... I may stop the hops during the day. I think it makes me too sleepy to function appropriately at work. Especially since I am considering coffee. I will take it before bed and see how that goes and I will look into another nervine to try!