It is so beautiful to know that Spring on the East Coast is almost here. With Spring just around the corner we will be filled with flowers and weeds. Weeds, as are flowers, play an important role in our daily herbal life.
Most of us think of weeds as bad but they are so important to us that we should not remove them from our gardens. Take this weed for instance yarrow.... most would not think of it as a weed since it flowers, but it is a weed and we like seeing it and having it around.
Before the commonplace drug store existed, our forebears found helpful medicinal compounds in the plants that grew around them. Since store shelves today are stocked with medicines of every kind, it’s easy to forget that many of those medicines were first discovered in wild plants. Yarrow plant is also referred to as Nature’s Neosporin in the herbal community. The flowers are rich in chemicals that are converted by steam distillation into anti-allergenic compounds, of use in the treatment of allergic catarrhal problems such as hayfever. The dark blue essential oil, azulene, is generally used as an anti-inflammatory, or in chest rubs for colds and influenza.
It should provide a sense of comfort to know that common injuries and ailments can be treated with common plants. One of the best of these medicinal plants is yarrow.
Yarrow, also known as millefoil, is a pretty foliage that is native to Europe but can now be found throughout North America growing in many meadows and fields. Many indigenous people like the Shakers began to use yarrow for its medicinal properties many years ago. This plant flowers from the month of June through October.
The yarrow plant also has a long history as a powerful “healing herb” used topically for wounds, cuts and abrasions. The genus name Achillea is derived from mythical Greek character Achilles, who reportedly carried it with his army to treat battle wounds. This medicinal action is also reflected in some of the plant’s common names, such as staunchweed and soldier's woundwort.
While yarrow was once used as a divine plant to assist with furthering spirituality it now has a number of uses in the herbal world. Yarrow can help a wound stop bleeding, which is why it was used in the military years ago for battle wounds during World War I and the Trojan War. The active components of yarrow include lactones, tannins, flavonoids, amino acids, sterols, coumarins and saponins.
Yarrow herbal oil has much healing potential and in addition to its ability to stop the flow of blood this herb is also a great antiseptic, it is antispasmodic and has antibacterial properties. Yarrow oil can even be used on the hair follicles to help stimulate growth. You can also find yarrow in dried herb form, and as a tincture.
Yarrow is a very beneficial ingredient to keep on hand as part of a holistic and homeopathic medicine collection. You can find more information on certified organic herbal infused yarrow oil by visiting the Just Skin Food website. All of our herbal infused oils are USDA certified organic and they are made of organic herbs and an organic carrier oil (olive). All of our herbal oils are also used in our salve products as well.
As herbalist Ryan Drum once said: Usnea is among our best herbal antibiotics against gram positive bacteria, particularly Streptococci and Staphylococci, both internally and externally.
Usnea is tree-moss, a lichen, which is a symbiotic relationship between an algae and a fungus. While usnea is certainly an herb, it’s not a plant! It grows on trees around the world. It especially likes pine, spruce, juniper, firs and hardwoods like oak, hickory, walnut, apple and pear. It prefers moist habitats.
Usnea is useful for many applications such as, infections, pneumonia, urinary tract infections, sore throat, fungal infections, vaginal infections, sinus infections, colds/flu, mastitis, and boils.
Looking at the above list of uses for usnea you might guess that this is one powerful herb, and it is!
I use this powerful herb in my Anti-Fungal Salve. Not just a pinch but as one of the main ingredient. My salve was tested by Jim Stivaly* in Montclair, NJ, who practices biofeedback and other holistic modalities, and he indicated that it is one strong anti-fungal salve.
Brief History on Usnea
In Chinese Medicine several types of Usnea were used. The specific indications were for infections with signs of heat and dampness: redness, yellow pus, fast pulse, etc. Today Usnea is used for infections of all types even without indications of heat.
Today Usnea is used as an antibacterial herb, an antiviral herb, and as an antifungal herb.
- Usnea as an antibacterial herb
Usnea is an anti-microbial herb, meaning that it effects a wide range of pathogens. It is not an antibiotic herb that kills all types of bacteria; it effects mainly gram positive bacteria. It can effectively kill unwanted pathogens without totally disrupting healthy gut flora!
- Usnea as an antiviral herb
Herbalist Kiva Rose says it best – The Usnea are their own delicate medicinal miracles. They have a special affinity for rebalancing bacteria and eradicating infection throughout the mucus membranes, from mouth to lungs to gut to urinary tract and on. This medicine is a special gift for those with signs of infection in the lungs and bronchial area, often indicated by yellow or green phlegm, chest pain, difficulty breathing and sometimes accompanied by a fever.
- Usnea as an antifungal herb
Usnea is effective at killing many types of fungal infections, including Candida species. It can be taken internally as well as used topically.
Here are some examples of fungal infections that you may use usnea for: athlete’s foot, jock itch, dandruff, ringworm, vaginal infections, etc.
- Homeopathic Version of Usnea
In HomeopathyUsnea Barbata (known as tree-moss) is a remedy used in some form of congestive headache; headache from sunstroke. Head - Bursting feeling, AS IF TEMPLES WOULD BURST, OR THE EYES BURST OUT OF THE SOCKETS. Throbbing carotids. It is one of those remedies that has a limited or specific use for these types of headaches.
It is very interesting to see how the uses in herbology, chinese medicine and homeopathy can differ but have similar relationships.
I can not personally speak for a painful fungal infection, never had one, but I can ascertain that from the various conditions Usnea is used for there must be a connection with a bursting throbbing headache, and throbbing in general in fungal infections.
When I infuse Usnea in oil, it looks like tightly wound brains, that are throbbing. I also infuse Usnea as a powder with the whole herb which makes it even stronger.This is what my Herbal Infused Usnea Oil looks like.
Nature is bountiful, useful, and healing in all sorts of ways.
PS: Strega Nonna's Vapo Rub and Winter Brew available in stores now and online.
*JAMES STIVALY can be reached at 973-746-8007. His website will be up and running soon and I will post it in my next blog.
It has been awhile since I have logged into my blog to add new information or just send some highlights of products.
With the last few weeks trying to help out as much as I can with buying food, clothing or trying to volunteer and help those that are in need right now with being displaced from their homes (Hurricane Sandy), I just could not focus on anything else, let alone making new products.
But I just wanted to share some nice news about helping people. I am so grateful to be able to help people when they really need it in so many different ways and so here are some emails that I received over the last few months.______________________________________________________________
From: NORAH DOWNEY
Subject: note from Norah, Susan McGrail's friend from NY
Date: September 24, 2012 7:05:20 PM EDT
I don't know if you remember meeting briefly at Matt's wake, but Susan and I have been the closest of friends since since 2nd grade.
She was telling me about what you do and your studies and she sent me your deep pain healing salve, knowing I tend to have a lot of aches and pains. I have had Lupus for more than twenty years. My main manifestation is neurological and micro vascular.
But this year I started having a lot of skin problems. I have the hallmark "Lupus butterfly shaped rash" now, on and off for months. That's how Lupus (which means wolf) got its name. The rash looked like the bite of the wolf,(supposedly). Also, Lupus has "discoid lesions", raised, scaley dime sized lesions. I have had one on my eyelid and one below my eye that swell up and close my eye to a slit about once a month. I even get them in my nose. They have been there for months and they are so painful. I can't even use hypoallergenic moisturizer or anything. The doctors just throw more prednisone at it.
Well, I have been using your skin food for several days and they are almost gone! I saw a difference after the first application. And the pain was soothed. Your product is so gentle and my skin is almost clear for the first time in months. The discoids leave scars and I have no scars!
In the past, I would never take the garbage out without makeup on, and I haven't worn any in months. Of course being healthy and pain-free comes first, but a little concealer and mascara would sure cheer me up! I feel hopeful and I want to thank you. If you would ever like me to write a disclaimer for your website or product line I would be so happy to.
Thank you very much for the first hope and relief I have had in ages.
Norah Downey, Your Daily Jewels http://www.YourDailyJewels.Etsy.com
If you would like, you can check out Norah's jewelry on her website...http://www.YourDailyJewels.Etsy.com______________________________________________________________
On Aug 24, 2012, at 4:36 PM, RAUL RO wrote:
The other day Esther had a flare-up in some varicose veins; she applied your cream (Vein Relief Salve)
and she got much better in a short time.
I told Joe about it, and since he and I may not meet again very soon,
let's arrange to mail us two orders of that wonderful cream.
We will pay for the shipping also, of course.
Mille grazie, and continue your wonderful work with the skin food!
Date: June 27, 2012 12:03:02 AM EDT
I have been using your healing salve(vegan) I am a friend of Fran also know as
EFie also known as Kim's MOM
They introduced me to your Psoriasis salve. I really like it. It helped me a great deal now that the warmer weather is here it has improved because of the warm weather,
None of the ointments I was prescribed by my doctor could compare to your product.
I keep your salve in my pocketbook in case it flares up. I am on a lot of heart medicines so I was not allowed to take any oral medicine. For now it is ok. I have to be careful because in the warm weather the salve will melt.
Many people have been asking us how exactly the products are made and if we make it all ourselves.
So I guess we need to explain more about how the products are actually made…
We make all the herbal infused oils, salves and balms by hand, using various infusing methods with a range of organic herbs, unrefined, steam-distilled and cold-pressed ingredients.
What does it mean to infuse the oils…the herbal infused oils are made on premise and take about 6 plus weeks to solar infuse. We do not buy the herbal oils and then mix them to make an herbal infusion. Before and after the solar infusion we also use another method to intensify the process. This process is our own and it is an older method. This is where the most intense part takes place and it is much more labor intense.
We also have a green house to help the infusion along and a place that they are stored in order to keep it cool after infusion. Once the infusion is made it is measured according to the percentage that is needed to make that specific therapeutic herbal salve.
Depending on when the herbs have been picked, dried and stored and when the oils have been infused the color and scent can actually be different. Nature is incredible, and it is always different. There will never be any 2 batches that will ever be the same. But the healing power of each herb will still be as intense.
Our products are made in small batches in order to pay attention to each step in the process and to keep the integrity and quality of the therapeutic infused herbal oil. Keeping the integrity of each batch also means each batch will be different in consistency and look. You might even have some residual herbs in a salve giving it even more intensity.
We try to make our batches only twice a month during the full moon and the new moon and only if our supply is low. The energy is much stronger and yet much gentler for the batches to really intensify.
We do not keep lots of stock on hand. Our products are made when needed simply because the salves and balms need to be as close to the date made for the intensity of the herbs. And so there might be a wait for some salves if we are out of stock.
All our salves and balms are dated at the time they were produced.
So there is a lot of thought process and labor that goes into making a real therapeutic herbal salve and balm.