My Herbs Blog
I Want to Talk About Herbs and Sadness
I am not a therapist, or a doctor. I am an Herbalist. I like all the definitions of an Herbalist- from dictionary.com
1. a person who collects or deals in herbs, especially medicinal herbs.
2. herb doctor.
3. an author of an herbal.
4. (formerly) a botanist.
Many herbs that I incorporate into my practice as a community herbalist, are designed to help deal with grief. Let me tell you a story. When I was a teenage, my dog died. I really loved this dog. She went to the Veterinarian for surgery, and she was suppose to come home. When she was there, the Vet put her to sleep. There were complications, and because she was a dog, and not a human, it was "easier" to put the animal to sleep then to not. I was so terribly devastated. This was my beloved animal, and I never got to say goodbye. I didn't say goodbye when she went in for surgery, because it was not suppose to be goodbye.
Consequently, as a child I lost a lot of faith, not that I had a lot, but I lost faith in the God I was learning to call by name. For many years after that loss, I wandered in a Godless dessert not understanding the pain from that event.
I have since learned that God uses all things for the good, even very painful things, and living a life without God is an exercise in futility. Not only that, I feel that it caused me a lot more heartache, and physical deterioration in my own body, mind and spirit.
There are some very wonderful herbs that can help bring about a healing from past traumas. You only need to be a recipient of what they have to offer and let the plants do the work.
Just recently my father passed. This was the biggest grief I have ever faced, but in the midst of the BIG grief, I found God in an even BIGGER way. I also relied on my herbal knowledge to help me through some tough times. My go to herbs during the month of grieving were Lobelia, Lavender, Mugwort, Valerian, Chamomile and Catnip. Now there are many other herbs I incorporated with these plants, but specifically (write their Latin names here) stood out as the stars in my healing through the pain of losing my father.
There wasn't a day that I didn't burn incense (Nag Champa, Frankincese or Sandalwood), in the house. I also really relied on burning smudge sticks such as Sage and Mugwort to cleanse the air and change the energy in my home. With a large family, all grieving a father, grandfather and mentor- the emotional energy was "off" so to say. The subtle smoke produced from burning either incense or a smudge stick worked wonders on my own personal mood, and over-all feeling of well-being.
Lobelia: Lobelia Inflata, and Great Blue Lobelia are both plants that I have personal experience with. I learned about Lobelia, from the great herbalist Dr. John R. Christopher. This was one of his favorites! He called it "The Thinking Herb," and included it in many of his formulas.
I have learned to really love Lobelia, and will share one of my experiences with it. This past winter I came down with a very thick, congested cough, and had trouble breathing in the night. I do not remember everything I was doing herbally, but I remember this:
I woke up, trying to cough, but feeling so thick in my chest. I had a bottle of Lobelia tincture I had made with Apple Cider Vinegar. I knew that if I took a lot, maybe 8 teaspoons, which is a lot, that the herb might cause an emetic reaction. I normally take about 1 dropperful at a time, which is about 35 drops. I began by taking dropperfuls, and waiting a few minutes in-between. I think it was somewhere around the 12th dropperful, which would have been about 3 teaspoons, that I felt a loosening, and a shift where I could then breathe.
At that point, I went to bed, and slept so peacefully; it was amazing!
Lavender: Not sure if I have to say much about this wonderful plant. There probably isn't a person alive, ok- I am exaggerating, but there probably are very few people who have not smelled this heavenly wonder. Lavender if very acceptable as a plant remedy, especially when used for its aromatic properties. Many times I wanted to find something else, and get away from lavender, because it is so "trite." That really does lavender disservice. Nothing compares to the sweet, relaxing fragrance of properly grown, and cared for lavender flowers, especially when distilled into an essential oil. This is probably my favorite method of applying lavender as a relaxation remedy. I like to diffuse it in the air, rub it on my wrists, make dream pillows filled with it, and I often mix some in my herbal tea blends. Lavender is a good herbal friend, and one I would not want to be without.
Mugwort: Artemesia vulgaris, or I have heard it called Cronewort by Susan Weed. This plant is one I only became acquainted with this year. I was set to identify as many plants as possible on my property and surrounding areas, and this one I found nearby. A "weed" I have often over looked, but as I have got to know this plant I realize how stunning and singularly amazing it is for relaxation. The first night I brought it home, I slept with some near my bed, and had very vivid dreams and deep sleep. If an herb helps me sleep, it becomes one of my new favorite plants. I then tried it as a tea, with the same results, and proceeded to make smudge sticks which I have burned in the evening, giving the whole household good night's sleep. It is a plant I would always want to keep on hand, as sleep is very important to overall health and well-being.
Valerian: Valerian, is said to "smell like stinky socks." I am not sure I agree with that, but it does have a very strong, and surprising odor. When I keep it in my herbal medicine chest, it is one of the first herbs, I smell, when I open the door. It is sort of musty and earthy. When I speak of Valerian, I am referring to the root. I have never used any other part of the plant, medicinally. However as a flowering plant, it is quite lovely and often planted for its beauty.
This was one of the first plants I was given when I went to an Herbalist 20 years ago. She gave it to me for stress, and to promote relaxation. I was not so aware of things back then, and did not see the cause and effect between lifestyle and physical manifestation. Since that time, Valerian has been a faithful herb that I take during times of stress, and deep grief. I have made a formula with Valerian, Chamomile, and Lavender. It is a tincture with vegetable glycerin, so it tastes very good! The glycerin is sweet, and the lavender and chamomile shine through, masking some of the muskiness of the Valerian. I give this to my children before bed, when they really need to some calm. My one son in particular had a habit of grinding teeth while sleeping and this remedy worked amazingly to allay that problem.
The last herb I want to talk about is Catnip. This is the very same plant that drives cats wild. It however, has a very calming effect on people. This is due in part to the B Vitamins that this plant possesses. Whenever I find myself frazzled, and unable to sleep, I know it is time for Catnip. Truly I shouldn't let myself go that far, but inevitable it happens, from time to time. Catnip tea is delicious, a bit minty, and soothing a few hours before bed. For a quicker measure, I use a Catnip tincture made with Apple Cider Vinegar. I always have this on hand in large amounts, because it seems to be just what busy, stressful lives require.
I seriously do not know where I would be without the plant world, and the relaxing herbs specifically. I think I would have had a melt down a long time ago, that I never came back from. Herbs are my closet allies for health and wellness, and have proved time and time again, their faithfulness. I thank God for his mercies, and for giving us such a wonderful replenishing medicine.
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