Collecting Fall Herbs: Field Day Friday

Do you look at the beauty of weeds like I do? Fields of the yellow tasseled goldenrod, roadsides covered in frilly blues of  chicory, happy looking Black eyed Susan’s and the purples of the many different types of thistle invigorate the sense of beauty as far as the eye can see. I see beauty all around me, but I also see the innate medicinal value of these plants as well. We have many of them growing on our farm. Some would tell me to cut them down, to pull them out, but I won’t. Instead, as nature does her work, I allow them to spread naturally. My husband has known me to bring home seeds and roots of some plants to transplant in our herb garden as well.

Being part Cherokee and having learned much from my elders, I know that all year long we are blessed with opportunity to gather wild herbs to save and use for different purposes. I can’t prescribe what herbs another should use, but I can share with you what different ones are used for, and allow you to make decisions for yourself. Also, having practiced as a Registered Nurse for 26 years, I will be the first to tell you to talk with your personal physician before using any herbal, holistic type of healthcare regimen. He or she and you, should decide what is best for your personal condition and go from there.

Today, I want to share with you one of the fall herbs that I’ve gathered, it’s medicinal values and how to collect and dry. Herbs, in general, should be collected in the mornings, after the dew has dried, but before the heat of the midday sun. Most herbs may be dried on a screen, covered with another screen or cheesecloth to keep off insects. Some herbs may be hung upside down, in small bunches, and allowed to air dry. Some people advocate drying herbs in a dehydrator or in the low heat of an oven. It’s a personal choice, but at our homestead, we don’t use either of those methods. My pantry looks like an upside down garden at the moment, and smells heavenly.

Today, let’s talk about goldenrod. goldenrod  These flowers amaze me. For so long, they’re been regarded as one of the worst allergens of the fall. They can cause issues for some, but do you know how medicinally good they are? Used for hundreds of yeas by Native Americans, they have antifungal properties, the saponins, that can help alleviate such yeast infections as oral thrush when a tea made from it is used as a gargle. It can be used for skin yeast infections or those elsewhere when used as a wash or rinse over it. Gargled, as a tea, it helps to stop coughs and sore throats. As a weak tea, it can help stop diarrhea naturally, without having to resort to chemical compounds found in over-the-counter medications. It’s been found to be an effective treatment in colitis and IBS.

Goldenrod tea is also beneficial for the urinary tract, kidneys and bladder. The saponins, tannins,  and flavonoids found in the flowers and leaves help keep infection and stones from forming in the urinary system.

Mixed with dandelion and thyme in a tea, it is an effective immune stimulating drink.

The usual dosage for a tea for ingestion or gargle is about 1 teaspoonful of the dried herb in a cupful of boiling water. Allow the herb to steep for about 10-15 minutes for the full effect, strain, sweeten with honey if desired, and drink. For gastrointestinal issues, it’s recommended to drink about 4 cups (1 quart) of tea daily.

We keep goldenrod planted on our farm, not just for medicine, but to draw in pollinators. goldenrod with bee

I love watching bees and butterflies visit the golden fronds goldenrod with butterfly. and coating their legs and bodies with the powdery pollen.

Goldenrod is associated with fall, the waning of the heat of the summer and watching the trees slip into the last final burst of glory. It’s fall already?  I am not ready to give summer up quite yet.

Herb of the Day: Horse Chestnut aka Buckeye

Horse Chestnut
   (Aesculus hippocastanum) 

also known as buckeye
HORSE CHESTNUT
Caution: Horse chestnut seeds are toxic for humans. Herbalist in Europe 
use the leaves and bark of the horse chestnut tree, as well as a 
standardized extract of the seed, as herbal medication for various 
disorders.

USES:
-treatment of diarrhea and other gastrointestinal tract disorders
-rheumatic discomfort when used as a salve, lotion or liquid poultice
-coughs
-varicose veins when used as a salve or in lotions when used in conjunction
 with support stockings
-treatment of external skin conditions
-has an anti-inflammatory effect
-diarrhea
-astringent
-fever reducer
-frostbite when used as a poultice, soak or compress
-hemorrhoids when used as a compress
-used to treat chronic venous insufficiency, lymph edema and swollen ankles

USUAL DOSAGE 
(per http://www.herbs2000.com/herbs/herbs_horse_chestnut.htm )

The herbal medication has been traditionally given in daily doses of 
0.2-1.0 grams of the dried seeds per patient. At the same time, it 
must be remembered that, only the standardized extracts are safe for 
internal use by patients. The seed extracts of the horse chestnut 
which is normally standardized for aescin content at about 16-21 % 
or the isolated aescin preparations are usually suggested to be taken 
in initial doses of 90-150 mg of the aescin per day per patients. 
When the first signs of improvement become noticeable, the dosage 
is often reduced to a maintenance dose level of 35-70 mg of aescin 
daily. 

SIDE EFFECTS AND CAUTIONS
Large amounts of the extract can be toxic! Use only as directed on 
the bottle, by your physician or licensed medical herbalist or 
holistic medical practitioner before self dosing with this extract. 
Liver and kidney damage may occur when too large of amounts are taken. 
Those people with pre-existing liver or kidney disease should avoid 
using this extract altogether. Use must be constantly monitored! May 
cause allergic skin responses

DO NOT USE DURING PREGNANCY OR IF YOU ARE SUFFERING FROM LIVER OR KIDNEY DISEASE.

Herb of the Day: Ground Ivy

ground ivy

Ground Ivy (glechoma hederacea)
 
Also known as:
-wild snakeroot
-creeping charlie
-cat's foot
-field balm
 
When the plant is crushed it will smell like camphor, citronella and peppermint mixed together. Harvest the flowers and stems between April and June.
 
Used for:
-decongestant, helps treat persistent coughs, asthma
-weak tea solutions are used to help treat eye infections, back pain
-has a very high vitamin C content 
-as a tea, for relief of flatulence
-has been used to help treat lead poisoning
-as a tea is has diuretic qualities and may be used to help treat kidney disorders, bladder and kidney infections
-as a wash, may be used to treat sinus cavity infections
-safe to give to children to help treat respiratory ailments such as coughing, bronchitis, 
-helps to alleviate diarrhea by drying up watery and mucous secretions.
-may be used to help treat arthritis and rheumatoid problems
-Compresses and poultices may be used help treat wound infections, boils, cuts and bruises.
-May be used in dried form to help alleviate heavy menses
 
 
per http://www.herbs2000.com/herbs/herbs_ground_ivy.htm 
To use as a tea- Use 1 teaspoonful into 1 cup of boiling water. Let it steep for 10-15 minutes and drink 3 times per day.
 
To use in tinctured form, use 1-4 ml of the tincture 3 times per day
 
To treat heavy metal poisonings, use 3 plants in 1 cup of boiling water, steep for 10-15 minutes, strain, cool and drink. Take 1 liter of this fluid per day for 10 days to 3 months, depending on how serious the heavy metal poisoning is. 
----------------------------------------------------
To make a tincture fill a glass jar 2/3 full of the herb, take equal parts of 100% grain alcohol and spring water and pour over the herb until the herb is completely covered. Allow to sit in a sunny place 24 hours, then shake and store covered, in a cool dark place for 1 month. Take 15 drops/day
 
Herb may be dried on a screen for later use.
 
HEALING OIL
1 3/4 oz (50 g) ground ivy, freshly dried 
4 cups (1 liter) olive oil
Grind the ivy in a mortar or in a blender. Add the oil and mix. Macerate 1 month and carefully strain. Pour the oil into several small bottles (easier to use and less likely to go rancid).
Excellent for wounds, bruises and even muscular pain.
 
 
 

 

Herb of the Day: Burdock

great burdock

burdock seed

 

Burdock  (Arctium Lappa) can grow up to nine feet tall, but most generally is around the 3-5 foot stage in North America. Seeds are disbursed via the oval seed pods with tiny burrs on them. You frequently find them attached to your clothes and socks after a walk through a field or a forest.

Also known as:

Bur or Burr Buttons

Cockle Buttons

Grass or Great Burdock

Turkey Burrseed

Hardock

Niu Bang

Lappa minor

All parts are very useful and very healing as confirmed through laboratory studies.  The roots are particularly useful in treatment of acne, psoriasis, and eczema in salves.  Tinctures are known to be antifungal, antibacterial, and bacteriostatic (meaning that it inhibits the growth of new bacteria). 

Used as a blood purifier, it can assist with liver detoxification efforts, it is one of the ingredients in Essiac Tea, which is known to many herbalists as a treatment for many different types of cancers. It activates the pancreas, which in turn will help keep blood sugar levels lowered, detoxifies the pancreatic cells (the pancreas is a huge filter for the body). 

As a gut stimulating agent, it helps bolster a weak digestive system. It will help alleviate flatulence, and indigestion as well as act as a bacteriocidal agent in the gut in the event of gastro-intestinal infections.

Burdock has a mild diuretic action, therefore it will help the kidneys, bladder and urinary tract eliminate harmful bacteria or other toxins.

It can also be used as a tea to help alleviate fever, sore throat, coughing, a common cold, laryngitis, pharyngitis.

It has antiviral properties and has been used as a tea in alleviating the length and severity of chicken pox and measles.  With it’s antifungal properties, it can be used to treat ringworm and athlete’s feet, or skin surface candida albicans.

As a tea or used in salves, it can be used to help alleviate the symptoms of gout, rheumatism and arthritic discomfort.

Seeds are high in essential fatty acids, Vitamins B2 and A.

Recommendations for use will vary from one herbalist to another, but per Herbs2000.com and several of my books, about 2-4 ml of burdock tincture in a non-carbohydrate drink once a day, or using it in capsule form, 1-2 grams, 3 times per day is sufficient.

For use with urinary issues such as a urinary tract infection, kidney or bladder infection, or to help minimalize the incidence and severity of kidney stones, use a burdock tincture in conjunction with tinctures from cleavers, virgin corn silk, yellow dock, red clover, or catnip in teas.

While the healing effects of burdock are well known, and few side effects are known, it is in the best interest of women who are pregnant, not to use herbal concoctions or tinctures without the advice and consent of their obstetrician. Burdock can stimulate uterine cramping and should not be used by pregnant women.

PARTS OF THE PLANT AND THEIR USES:

ROOTS:

  As a decoction in salves and ointments for use on skin conditions.  As a tincture, in teas. Especially good when combined with other herbs as listed above. As a poultice, crushed or shredded, and applied directly to skin conditions, including ulcerated areas.  As a  wash, macerated, boiled, strained and cooled liquids applied to acne, eczema, psoriasis or other skin disorders.

LEAVES:

 As an infusion, in water leaves allowed to simmer in boiling hot water for 20 minutes, cooled and sweetened with honey to taste to aid in treatment of digestive, liver or kidney disorders.  As a poultice directly on skin disorders. As an infusion in oil, to apply directly to varicose veins.

SEEDS:

As a decoction, used in teas to alleviate fever, apply as a wash to skin conditions, as a cough and cold remedy and as a detoxifier.

Keep in mind when using burdock internally that it acts as a mild to moderate
laxative and diuretic and that it lowers blood sugar.

Leaves – harvest before flowering – used for stomach upset, improve digestion,
mild laxative, diuretic

Seeds – harvest when ripe in late summer to early fall – used for inflammation,
fever, mild antibacterial, diuretic, lowers blood sugar

Roots – harvest in late fall – used for cancer treatment (Essiac Ojibwa Tea),
cleansing and detox, moderate laxative, mild antibacterial, treat arthritis,
diuretic, topically for wounds, eczema and infection

Herb of the day: German Chamomile

german chamomile

German Chamomile

There are two plants that are known as chamomile—German Chamomile (which is the most popular) and Roman (or English) Chamomile. Though belonging to different species, they are used to treat the same conditions. Both have been used to treat frayed nerves, various digestive disorders, muscle spasms, mild infections, and a range of skin conditions.

Other names these plants go by are: chamomile, chamomile, wild chamomile, sweet chamomile, German chamomile, Hungarian chamomile, mayweed, scented mayweed, and pineapple weed. 

 

Some of the uses for Chamomile are:

 

  • Sore Throats
  • Chest colds
  • Abscesses
  • Gingivitis – inflammation of the gums
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Psoriasis
  • Acne
  • Eczema
  • Minor burns
  • Ulcerative Colitis – Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Stomach ulcers
  • Chicken pox
  • Diaper rash
  • Colic

 

  • Internally, chamomile flowers have widely been used for herbal tea. It is so popular that it can be found in the tea aisle of most grocery stores. Chamomile tea has been used as a mild sedative and a tonic to calm the nerves. When a child is teething, chamomile tea can be safely used for both of these purposes. It will calm him and help to keep him from being emotional while cutting his teeth.
  • Other uses for chamomile tea are: Anti-inflammatory – used for arthritis, and other swellings.
  • Antispasmodic – used for intestinal and menstrual cramps, relieving gas pains, and a mild, effective laxative.
  • Vasodilator – used for fever, sore throats, the aches and pain of colds and flu, headaches and allergies.
  • Anti anxiety tonic.

 

Externally, chamomile flowers can be made into an infusion, which is especially good for the hair. They can be added to cosmetics as an anti-allergenic or made into an ointment for treating wounds or hemorrhoids. Dried chamomile can be used as potpourri and for herb pillows, and burned for aromatherapy. Other external uses are:

  • Compresses – for swellings, sunburns, burns.
  • Added to baths to relieve muscle aches, sooth tired feet, and soften skin.
  • Rubbed on the skin to repel insects.
  • Water plants with the tea to feed them and prevent some diseases.
  • Essential oils can be used as a flavoring, in making perfume, and to combat neuralgia and eczema.
  • Made into a paste, use it to treat skin irritations, infections, and burns.
  • Steam therapy for treating asthma, hay fever, and sinusitis.

 

Paste:

Grind dried flowers in mortar and pestle, add some water or unsweetened chamomile tea, and slowly add oatmeal as needed.

Bathing:

Place a handful of flowers in a mesh bag, hang from the faucet by its string, and run the bath water over it.

Natural Hair Highlights:

Thoroughly wet hair with unsweetened, warm chamomile tea. Wrap head with plastic wrap and cover with a bath towel. Keep head warm for 30 to 60 minutes to bring out natural highlights. Dry and style as usual. This will add golden highlights to brown hair.

Steam Therapy:

Place dried chamomile flowers into a mesh strainer over a pan of boiling water. Breathe the steam deeply to ease respiratory symptoms.

 

Children:

Children under 18 should use half of the recommended adult dose.

To relieve colic use 1 – 2 ounces of unsweetened chamomile tea daily.

Adults:

  • Tea: pour 1 cup boiling water over 2-3 heaping tablespoons of dried flowers, steep 10-15 minutes. Drink 3-4 times daily      between meals.
  • Tincture: (1:5, 45% alcohol) use 1-3 ml (100-150 drops) three times daily in a cup of hot water.
  • Capsules: 300-400 mg three times daily.
  • Gargle/mouthwash: make the tea above and let it cool. Gargle as often as desired. You can also make an oral rinse of 10-15      drops of chamomile extract in 100ml warm water. This may be used three times daily.  (dosage information via Herbs2000.com)

 

While chamomile is considered to be a safe herb, some people may experience allergic reactions such as hay fever, sneezing, runny nose, and itchy eyes. It may worsen asthma symptoms, so those with asthma should not use it. Those with allergies to asters, daisies, chrysanthemums, and ragweed may also have reactions to chamomile, as they are related.

Pregnant women should take care in using chamomile. It is a uterine stimulator and can cause contractions. Drinking large amounts of chamomile tea with high concentrations of the herb may cause vomiting.

Other possible interactions include:

  • Blood thinning medications – chamomile may increase risk of bleeding when taken with warfarin.
  • Sedative – chamomile can increase the effects of drugs that have a sedative effect, including anticonvulsants – Dilantin      and Depakote; barbituates; tranquilizers – Xanax and Valium; insomnia treatments – Ambien, Sonata, Rozerem; antidepressants – Elavil; and alcohol.
  • Herbs like kava, catnip, and valerian root.

Other medications – because chamomile is broken down by certain enzymes in the liver, it can interact with other medications that are also broken down by the same enzymes, such as: Saldane, statins (medications which reduce cholesterol, such as Lipitor and Xetia); birth control pills; and some antifungal drugs.

Goat Mastitis Prevention: Herbal Treatment

Our Gabby lost a set of twins and we’ve had ongoing issues with her having mastitis. This is information shared from our vet and from personal experience. The following picture is not Gabby, but one that I found online to show you what mastitis in goats looks like. It is something that must be treated, otherwise the soft tissue in the teat will become permanently damaged and kids born to that doe will not be able to nurse her,

picture of goat mastitis

Goat Mastitis Prevention

If milk tastes salty, the goat usually has mastitis
Too full of milk will cause milk leakage

Eliminate chapping. Use a good quality teat dip

Use a bag balm after milking. Make sure to towel dry the udder after washing it. Use an antibacterial milking soap.

Milk 3x a day to evacuate bacteria out of the udder.

Infection leads to tissue damage.. the white blood cells can get ‘outgunned&# 39;

Bed in straw over sand. Silica gives no source for bacteria to live.. clean the straw daily to every other day. Strip stalls.

Mastitis prevention: Apple cider vinegar. 1 cup to 1 gallon of water. Add molasses if you like. Milk does with mastitis or suspect of it LAST! And always wash your hands between milking different animals

Teat dip; Dry powdered goldenseal root. Use as you would for any other dip, except it is dry.

Medicine Balls for Mastitis:

Add these dry powdered herbs to molasses.. stir to doughish consistancy, roll in wheat flour and/or slippery elm and dry.

Equal parts, Thyme, Garlic, Rosemary, Oregano, Sage, Mustard. Give
approximently 1 TB every 12 hours for 7-10 days

And One Last Elderberry Recipe to Share with you

elderberry flowers

Refreshing Elderflower Drink

At the beginning of elderberry season, you have about 2 weeks to gather elderflowers before they drop off, forming the tiny green pellet sized balls that will eventually turn into the wonderfully, medicinally, rich in Vitamin C berries that are well known for their health benefits. Elderberries grow on canes, with a smooth tan-gray bark, usually in clusters along the wetlands as I explained earlier. Elder flower clusters are a creamy white, have a lemony smell and are in clusters about the size of a dinner plate. If you’ve ever taken walks in the woods, along the creeks or a river bank, there’s no mistaking an elder cluster from another tree. The canes can grow 8-10 feet high or higher, are very pliable, and actually, can be transplanted in their smaller stages to a place on your own farm.

For a wonderful, crisp, lemony flavored drink that’s high in Vitamin C and antioxidants, gather the flower clusters, rinse in a mild solution of vinegar and water to dislodge bugs or other debris, rinse and drain.

Use about 2-4 small clusters of the flowers from a flower head, put into boiling hot water and allow to steep for about 20-30 minutes. Strain the liquid, sweeten if desired.

It can be consumed as a hot tea, or chilled and ice added for a refreshing summertime drink.

NOTE: If you’re really crazy about elder flower tea as I am, you can dry elder flowers, store in an airtight container and use 1 teaspoon full in a tea strainer or a small muslin tea bag, in a cup of boiling water, steep and strain as above, to enjoy the summery fresh flavor of elder tea all winter long. It makes a nice gift too!!!