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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Chamomile and Pineapple Weed: Herbal Wellness Workshop at Back To Basics 2010

German Chamomile
                                                              (Matricaria chamomile)
                                       Also known as; Mayweed, Scented Mayweed. 

                                  Pineapple Weed
                                                          (False Chamomile)

In 2010, on the homestead in Aitkin County, there was Pineapple Weed growing in abundance near the chicken coop! There had always been a bit growing, but the conditions were perfect for abundant growth. I was able to wild craft a couple of huge cuttings in spring and early summer. It did wintered over, and I was able to harvest it again in the spring of 2011.

Description: Chamomile is typically an annual herb originally from Europe. It has escaped and is now naturalized on almost every continent. The branched stem is somewhat erect, round, hollow, and grows to about 20 inches tall. The leaves are finely divided, light green and feathery. The flowers are daisy-like about 1 inch across and bloom from May to October. The entire plant has an apple scent. Planted in the garden is said to help sickly plants to grow. A close sister plant known as the Pineapple Weed grows abundantly and wild crafted. To wild craft look for it growing along fence rows, roadsides, and in sunny open fields. The entire wild plant has a pineapple scent.  
Propagation: Chamomile can be propagated by seed. Seeds germinate easily. The plant thrives in partial shade, but can be grown in full sun if kept moist. May winter over for another season, maybe two. Pineapple Weed is a wild perennial.
Constituents: The flowers contain various volatile oils including proazulenes. Upon steam distillation these proazulenes produce chamazulene, a remarkable anti-allergenic and is useful in the treatment of asthma and hay fever. 
Harvesting and Preservation: Gather the flowers each day as they bloom, in the morning and dry in a dehydrator. Infuse flowers and leaves with oil and then keep refrigerated. When collecting flowers for essence, do not touch but instead cut with scissors into a glass bowl. Preserve in dark glass with equal amounts of vodka or brandy.                                                          
Wellness Properties and Modalities: Both cultivated Chamomile and the wild sister Pineapple Weed have basically the same properties. Pineapple Weed tea is naturally sweeter tasting. Chamomile is one of the most widely used flowers for herbal tea. It is used as a mild sedative, and is good for insomnia as well as many other nervous conditions. It is especially suited to teething children and those who have been in a highly emotional state over a long period of time. The anti-inflammatory properties make it good for rheumatism, arthritis, and other painful swellings. Additional uses include an antispasmodic for intestinal and menstrual cramps, relieving gas pains, and a very mild but efficient laxative. Milder tea in large doses is given throughout the day for fevers, sore throats, the aches and pains due to colds, flu, and allergies.
Dried Flowers: Made into potpourri and herb pillows. Used as an insect repellent.                                                                                                                       Wash/Compress: Relieves skin inflammations, sunburn and burns.                                          
Infused Tea: Added to bath for relaxing tired, achy muscles.                                                       
Infused Oil: Flowers used in cosmetics as an anti-allergenic.                                                                                                                 Ointment/Salves: For use on hemorrhoids and wounds.                                                               
Flower Essence: Harmony/Higher Wisdom which stimulates the pineal gland which creates states applicable to meditation. Aligns the mental body and emotional tensions are released. Emotional stability and greater calm results from the use of chamomile elixir.                                                                                                                                                        Miscellaneous Uses: Chamomile tea is used as a liquid feed and plant tonic, effective against a number of plant diseases.
Cautions: Except for the small risk of allergy, Chamomile is also one of the safest herbs to use.
Culinary Uses: The flowers are edible and quite tasty in salads.
Folklore: The Blackfoot Indians called it mat-o-at-sin, using the dried plant as a perfume.

2010 Back to Basics: RED CLOVER Presentation Top Ten Herbals for Wellness

Red Clover
                                                                      (Trifolium praetens) 
Also known as; Meadow Honeysuckle, Meadow Trefoil, Purple Clover, Trefoil, Wild Clover, Cleaver Grass, Marl Grass, Cow Grass.

I pick Red Clover blossoms every year. On our homestead, we have one particular pasture that grows Red Clover in abundance. I get to harvest as much as I want, just before we begin our haying (cutting and baling for our cattle, horses and goats). I bring my cloth bags for harvesting, bring all the dogs with me for a walk and enjoy a few hours of wild crafting. I add this to most of my tea blends as it is an excellent blood purifier and overall health tonic.

Description: A perennial herb, with origins believed to be in Britain where it is abundant. Found world wide and naturalized in nearly every country, even the Arctic Circle and high up into mountains.
Cultivation and wild crafted it is an easily grown, from seed or root cuttings and requires little attention. The long root is rhizome, and sends out runners, producing several stems 1 to 2 feet high, slightly hairy; leaves ternate, leaflets ovate, slightly toothed, ending in long point often lighter colored V shape in center, flowers red to purple, fragrant, in dense terminal ovoid or round heads. Blooming from April thought out the summer months.
Constituents: Contains phenolic glycosides, flavonoids (Vitamin P and citrin), salicylates (known for its ability to ease aches and pains and reduce fevers. These medicinal properties, particularly fever relief, have been known since ancient times, and it was used as an anti-inflammatory drug. Some researchers believe that salicylate is an essential micronutrient in the human diet, potentially qualifying as a vitamin, namely Vitamin S), coumarins (sweet-smelling plant substance), cyanogenic glycosides, mineral acids.
A viable source of many nutrients including high protein content, calcium, chromium, magnesium, niacin, phosphorus, potassium, thiamine, and vitamin C. It is also considered to be one of the richest sources of isoflavones (water-soluble chemicals that act like estrogens and are found in many plants). Contains genestine which is known to inhibit cancer cell growth.

Wellness Properties and Modalities: Healing properties of the flower and young leaf alleviates the symptoms of female menopause, promotes general prostrate health, normal urinary tract function in males, support for normal cholesterol levels, lymph flow and supports the immune system function. It is suggested to provide a mild sedative effect that can relax and relieve muscle cramping and nervousness.
Known as a blood purifier, useful for improving the overall health of the liver. Acts as a digestive aid and stimulator of digestive fluids and bile production. It is a good expectorant and relieves bronchitis and coughs.

Crushed Fresh Flowers: applied to insect bites and stings.                                                        
Tincture: Taken internally for eczema and psoriasis.
Compress: Used for arthritic pains and gout.                                                                                      
Ointment: Applied topically to lymphatic swellings.
Eyewash: 5 to 10 drops tincture in 20 ml water (a full eyecup) or a well-strained infusion is used for conjunctivitis.
Douche: Infusion is used for vaginal itching.
Syrup: A syrup made from the infusion is used for stubborn, dry coughs.
Flower Essence: Self-awareness: Provides true self-awareness so that the individual can think in a calm and balanced way, and act from his/her concept of reality without the undue influence of the group consciousness. Used for centered awareness and clearing the heart chakra when it is in conflict. It allows new energies to be involved when overcoming a crisis and brings on new opportunities.                                                                                                                                    
Cautions: Use with caution if on anti-coagulants and anti-platelet agents or if using contraceptives. Do not use before or after surgeries because of blood thinning properties.

Culinary Uses: Harvest edible leaves for soup or salad before flowers fully bloom. The sprouted seeds are edible in salads and have a crisp texture and robust flavor. 

Folklore: In the middle ages this herb was considered a charm and worn to ward off evil spirits and witches. The four leaf plant was said to have even more power against evil, a five leaf plant was said to be worn by witches to give them evil powers, and a two leaf plant would give a maiden the power to see her future lover.