one of my ongoing self-taught areas of study (i think of them as mama unschooling courses) is basically, all things plant. i have been reading widely in plant field guides, and especially focusing on edible and medicinal features of wild (i like to think of them as free range) plants. i’m putting together quite a little herbal first aid kit, and these days the hot items are all ripening and blooming all at once! here is my harvest of self-heal, from none other than the lawn in our backyard! (luckily i know for sure that the owners have not used any chemicals in all the time they’ve owned the place, and it has been that way for years! phew! free range AND organic!)
self heal will mostly be featuring in a healing oil i am planning to make, which will then become a salve for cuts and abrasions (we call them “owies” in the trades). i’ll let you figure out what special herbal magic this plant does (hint: refer back to the common name!) it is also used in teas and infusions.
speaking of infusions, this is an infusion of my favorite plant at the moment, stinging nettle. it has been sort of a totem plant for me, lately. the more and more i read of its amazing qualities, each and every one of the things it helps with are things that… i need help with. i have been learning that i run low on the temperature scale, which may be a sign of lowered thyroid, a problem i never would have thought to look into. some of the minerals that nettle is rich in are said to be helpful in this area. in addition, i have been running borderline anemic on my iron levels, and nettle is fabulous both for iron and vitamin C, the necessary cofactor for iron uptake. i started this week being more consistent with preparing an infusion of nettle leaves for myself, and have been really enjoying it with a sprig of spearmint added, though the flavor of nettle is wonderful on its own as well. covering the “tea” while it steeps retains the goodies that would be lost through steam, and letting it steep for a couple hours allows more of the goodies to be released into the water. i can go on and on about nettle at the moment. the only thing i’m NOT going to tell you is where my secret little patch of it can be found in the wilderness!!!
what i love most about herbalism, is that many plants are able to nourish us in far more ways than just the issue we may be targeting. i can’t tell you how many times i’ve read now of nettle that it is “a nourishing tonic” which basically means- eat and drink this! it’s just pure goodness! in addition, plants seem to work in much more subtle ways that encourage real healing, by stimulating one’s own body to do the healing itself. (“tonics” are used over the long term, to encourage this type of healing and strengthening of the body.) finally, i’m enjoying having a much more pleasant relationship with this plant that was purely a pain when i was a kid, accidentally running through patches of it with bare legs in the summertime. stinging nettle is notorious for its bristles that break off in exposed skin, and causes bothersome irritation. strangely enough, stinging nettle- as in, the actual stinging factor- has been used throughout the ages as a remedy for rheumatism. i’ve noticed that when i’ve obtained a few minor stings recently, that i could almost understand willingly bearing this type of pain, in exchange for having arthritic pain removed. i’ll certainly keep that tidbit tucked away for later in life, in case i need to give it a try! (i’m also privy to the knowledge that touch-me-nots, a.k.a. jewelweed, are a remedy for the sting of nettles! another little fun fact to tuck away, in case you or your kiddo has a run-in with nettle.)