Greetings! After a hot long summer, the rains, cooler temperatures, and early nights are here, and in my humble opinion, are very much appreciated. I can’t remember the last time I actually looked forward to a wet rainy winter. We’ll see how it goes this year. The plants had a very interesting growing season. I was talking with one of my long time apprentices just today about this. We’ve been out in the wild every single week this year, harvesting plants and observing the stresses they endured during the long drought of summer. Many plants put forth seeds and went dormant weeks and/or months earlier than normal. Some gave up the ghost completely. We saw certain plants, such as hawthorn, wild roses, blackberries, and fireweed flourish and take over ground where other plants did not survive the extreme stresses of drought. Seeds germinated when the rains began to fall with our first storm in August, and we have plants available to harvest now that customarily would not be emerging until spring. It’s been a weird yet amazing year, plant-wise, and my apprentices and I are very interested in seeing what the plants will be doing next year.
In the meantime, viruses are plentiful and have been wreaking their special kind of havoc on the human population. I very rarely get sick, but I recently succumbed to a viral attack, which happily gave me some much needed time off (I’ll take whatever I can get!) and an opportunity to use some of the remedies I made with the apprentices this year.
You all know that I’m a wildcrafter at heart and prefer to use wild plants over garden any day. I find that wild plants are much heartier and more strongly medicinal due to the necessity to withstand environmental and pathogenic stresses. They don’t get compost lovingly spread by caring hands, no one comes to weed around them or give them drinks of water. When they are attacked, they can’t get up and move or call a health practitioner. Believe it or not, I think and teach about this all the time.
The drought brought an environmental stress to plants that caused them to create more essential oils. Essential oils are highly medicinal. I prefer to use stressed out wild plants over
pampered garden plants. In addition, it seems that the bioflavonoids in the plants became extra robust this year. Bioflavonoids offer an amazing amount of health promoting benefits including protecting and strengthening the immune system by way of their antioxidant properties. The thing to remember is that bioflavonoids are destroyed with heat and drying. That means, if we dehydrate plants to make tea, not only are we drying the plants, we are also subjecting them to heat – a double whammy that results in destruction of the flavonoids, which include the vitamin C complex.
This year, in anticipation of the cold and flu season, I created a formula to provide relief from congestion in the lungs and sinuses, to kill viruses, and pain relievers to alleviate the aches and pains that accompany viral attacks as the immune system works to eradicate them from our body. The formula and recipe is as follows:
Equal parts fir and/or spruce needles and rosehips, half part cottonwood leaf buds, ginger, and lemon.
Fir and spruce needles contain aromatic essential oils that go directly to the lungs and sinuses to open up passages to allow for freer breathing and to kill viruses. Any fir can be used, although I prefer Grand fir due to its high essential oil content and Sitka and Engelmann spruces. Doug fir is a good alternative to the grand fir and is more easily found locally. You’ll want to gather about 5 branch tips about the size of your hand. Simply cut the tips of the branches and mince the needles with a pair of scissors.
Rosehips are packed with Vitamin C complex and rich in bioflavonoids. Bioflavonoids are capable of increasing bodily health by supporting strong immune function and cell formation, contribute to cardiac health, and eye health to name just a few of their super powers. Bioflavonoids are called Vitamin P! Gather about a cup or so of rosehips. I prefer wild rose hips, although Rose Mosqueta rose hips can be used as well. Do not use rose hips from cultivars as there is little to no medicine in those beauties. To process the rosehips, using kitchen or surgical gloves, cut the hips horizontally, scoop out the very irritating hairs and seeds. Discard the seeds and put the flesh into a bowl of water. The residual hairs will float to the top. Rinse several times to get as many of the hairs out as possible. The hairs have nasty tendency to imbed themselves in the alimentary canal and create mayhem in the digestive system.
Cottonwood leaf buds contain anti-inflammatory and fever reducing salicylates and anti-microbial constituents. For a hot dry cough with a lot of hacking but little relief plus feverishness, balm of gilead resin works well to cool the lungs and expectorate the mucous. With the winds we’ve had, I’ve found a plethora of fallen cottonwood branches. Pick the sticky resinous buds off the branches. No further preparation is necessary. You’ll need about a half cup of the buds.
Ginger is warming and helps to alleviate the “elephant on the chest” feeling and assists cottonwood buds to remove mucous from the lungs and sinuses. Take about a 2 inch chunk and shred, peel and all.
Lemon, as everyone knows, is rife with Vitamin C complex, small amounts of B vitamins, and antioxidants. Take half a lemon and thinly slice it, the cut into quarters. You’ll use both the peel and fruit.
Fill a pint jar with all your botanicals. Fill half the jar with either brandy or apple cider vinegar. Top off to the lower rim with honey. Brand and honey make an elixir, apple cider vinegar and honey make an oxymel. Tightly cover the jar and put it on a dish as there may be some leakage. Let steep for 2 weeks to a month, and strain. A quarter to half teaspoon in a cup of warm water is all that is needed to provide incredible relief. As it takes some time to steep, you might want to get on this right away! You, your family, and your friends will be very happy when you provide them with herbal medicine that works well!
As always, I wish you happy harvesting and medicine making. Ich liebe dich! Until next time, I leave you Wild About Plants!