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Friday, March 12, 2010

Spring herbal

                                  Young Long Needle Pine of North Carolina Pinus palustris

   Spring! The bursting forth  energies are singing and we are emerging back into the light. In the medicine cabinet are the herb/food to stroke our livers gently, to wake and to strengthen our sleepful eyes/minds. Our breathing becomes more strongly connected, deeply, as it heightens with the warmth. The plant kingdom stirs up the soil, its life energy signals us to harmonize ourselves to the changing environment and to receive its nourishment as its roots strengthen into the rising aerial growth.
   The early sprouting plants, Dandelion Tarraxacum offininale, Burdock Arctium lappa and major, Wild Leeks Allium tricoccum, Poke Root Phytolacca americana,  Fiddleheads Pteriidium aquilinum, Bracken and young shoots of many other plants are medicinally and nutritionally useful, especially in stimulating liver and respiratory functions. Liver and respiratory function helps to determine our whole body tone, strength and adaptive ability greatly as we awaken in the spring. The process of spring calls for large bursts of energy to bring us out of the winter months. Like growth that surges, these spurts are followed by levels of rest, or return, from where we have come.
   This back and forth is the  energy we face with the weather at this time of the year. Synchronizing with these variables is the balance we seek. It is a sustainable practice.  It is apparent in our own lives as we adjust to the changeful season of extremes, cold to warm, dark to light, wet to dry, and death to life all around. This back and forth calls for flexability, resourcefullness and a balancing  adaptability to our environment. We can aid keeping our balance by taking in the nourishment of the plants.
    In using these plants we nourish ourcells/selves. The fresh new leaves are very rich in vitamins C & A and minerals. Spring salads of Dandelion leaf Tarraxacum off., Wild Leeks Allium tricoccum, Violet leaf and flower Viola spp., Chicory leaf Chicorium intybus, Yellow Dock leaf Rumex crispus, Chickweed leaf Stellaria media  are some greens that will help align us to the emerging energies of the environment. The bright spring green branch tips of Pine Pinus spp.  is  perhaps the largest source of Vitamin C in our forests.
     The roots of Dandelion and first year Burdock are  traditionally detoxifying to our liver, decocted or tinctured, and they help to clear the damp heat that accumulates in our bodies during the winter. Burdock is biennial. First year root will not have last years “burr” growth attached. Capsules, tinctures, decoctions, teas, baths and cooking with these herbs help strengthen us for the coming warmer and more liver/ly  season of summer. The roots of burdock and dandelion can be steamed, sauteed lightly, or gently added to soups and casseroles.
    In many traditional healing methods the eyes are considered to be the sense organs of the liver. As the liver detoxifies and is stimulated to life during the spring its performance heightens. The eyes, being affected by the liver, become stimulated and adapt more easily to the brightening, longer days of sunlight, to the increasing visual stimuli of color and to the changing shapes in our natural landscape.
    This symseasonal relationship between the plants and animals is observed throughout the year of changing seasons. Within each season the characteristics of the elements air, water, earth and  fire combine and shape that season on many levels. Each spring/season has different qualities from previous and subsequent  springs/seasons. These qualities mark a symbolism for us to use as a guide to follow in maintaining our own balance on earth. Because of this changeness, I feel standardization of herbal medicine must be looked at most cautiously. Do we really want to think that we can standardize nature!? Have we ever really been successful at that for very long as a species? Let us  recognize changeness in all things. What are balancing with?
    It is interesting that a single plant’s healing energy form changes with the characteristics of the season and the conditions  of the land it is growing in. The root and leaf of dandelion crafted from damp lowland in a very wet spring and the dandelion leaf and root of a higher, drier elevation plant would have a different balance of constituents. As a plant to human correlation, a person living at higher altitudes will have marked higher/faster heart rate and a different lung structure  than that of a ocean side dweller. The two differing leaves and roots of plants would have two differing effects in an herbal application in palnts from different bioregions. We can apply these differences to specific conditions of our healing/balancing.
     As we examine ourselves and see our condition on physical, mental, emotional or spiritual levels we can feed our starving or weaker imbalances more appropriately with the plants whose qualities would most appropriately feed our personal requirements for resourcefullness and adaptability.
    The back and forth energies of spring and fall can be seen as a breathing in and out of elements. The parallel between this and our own breathing can be looked at as a natural phenomena occurring on many levels. For a smoother transition from season to season we can help to maintain harmony between our breathing with that of our environment.
    By consuming plants that work specifically with conditions of  our respiratory system we can tonify appropriately. These plants include Dandelion and Burdock, but also Wild Ginger Assarum canandense, Mullein Verbascum thapsus, Skunk Cabbage Symplocarpus foetidus, Coltsfoot Tussilago farfara, and Stinging Nettle Urtica dioica. Each has its’ ascribed place in spring tonic materia.
    Mental and spiritual stimuli will be effected by stimulating the liver and respiration and spring herbs will help tonify those facilities by used in them in our diet. As we align ourselves to these natural cycles/spirals/enfoldments we discover a new meaning to preventative health care, we are in balance with the changing balances of our environment sustainably.
   Apart from bioregional theoretics; for pollen, mold, etc. sufferers and/or those of us with a compromised respiratory or pulmonary system consider these herbs for soothing and/or strengthening: Astragalus A. membranaceus, Barberry root bark Berberis vulgarios, Cinnamon bark Cinnamomum cassia, Clove Syzygium aromaticum, Colinsonia Colinsonia canadensis, Coptis root Rhizoma coptidis, Echinacea Echinacea spp., Elecampane Inula helenium, Fennel Foeniculum vulgare, late season gathered Ginkgo leaf Ginkgo biloba, Goldenseal root Hydrastis canadensis, Grindelia bud Grindelia robusta, Honey, Hyssop flowers Hyssopus off., Irish Moss Chondrus crispus,  Khella seed Amni visnaga, Lemon Citrus limonum,  Licorice root Glycyrrhiza glabra, Lobelia whole herb in seed Lobelia inflata, Lomatium Lomatium dissectum, Mullein leaf, Verbascum spp., Oregano leaf, Origanum vulgare, Osha root, Ligusticum porteri, Peppermint Mentha piperita, Poke root Phytolacca americana, Propolis resin, Red Root Ceanothus americanus, Reishi mushroom/mycelium Ganoderma sinensis/lucidum , Sage Salvia off., Stinging Nettles Urtica dioca,  Thuja Thuja occidentalis, Thyme Thymus vulgaris ,  Usnea lichen Usnea barbata,  and Wild Indigo root Baptisia tinctoria.
     As with any writing on herbalism this article is not a  prescription for medical action. We  each need to process our own lives, and disease/imbalance with it, with the guidance of a Doctor and/or skilled health practitioner. One needs to have a trained understanding of “how much” for instance. Starting with small amounts is key to coming to that understanding on a personal level. Other skilled healing therapies, acupuncture, chiropractory, reiki, massage, the arts ( music, dance, painting theatre, etc.), yoga, tai chi etc., are very helpful in healing/balancing work. Living is

DISCLAIMER: The information by Greg Patch is intended to provide general and educational information for you. The information given on these pages is not a substitute for a physician's diagnosis. Please consult your physician and/or professional health care provider on specific medical questions.

© 2000 Greg Patch

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