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All About Violet

 

 

wild violet title picWild Violets (viola odorata) are pretty little perennials that tend to pop up in late winter/early spring (depending on where you live). Unfortunately, most people consider them to be annoying weeds. They are easily identified by their purple flowers and heart shaped leaves. Please don’t confuse them with African violets that are grown as houseplants. They are NOT the same thing.

This sweet little plant really is versatile and useful! But, before you start, you need to know a few things about wild harvesting. First, make SURE that the area that pick from isn’t sprayed by chemicals, where your dog defecates, close to the road, or any other place that you think is contaminated. Secondly, you want young and healthy growth. Look for vibrant colors. Third-you always want to ask permission from both the land owner and the plant itself. Fourth, never take more than you will use and never more than 5-10% of what is available. And lastly, always give thanks to the plant, earth, Mother Nature, God, or who/whatever you recognize as the giver of what you are taking. You should try to do your harvesting in the morning just after the dew has evaporated. Some of the ways that we will use wild violet call for fresh plant material and some require it to be dried, so make sure you save some to dry. 

Nutritional. Violets are packed full of minerals and vitamins-especially A and C. One of my favorite things to make is a wild green salad with violet leaves, blooms, dandelion greens, yellow dock, plantain, purslane, henbit, dead nettles, and cleavers. You can also saute the leaves like you would any other green. Another delicious treat is Wild Violet Lemonade. This is a great way to sneak in some extra nutrients to your kids and replace those toxic ‘fruit’ drinks they love so much.  Infused vinegar is my other go-to usage for wild violet. Vinegar is well known for its ability to extract vitamins and minerals from plant sources. Infusing vinegar is super easy. Get a clean mason jar and fill it with either violet blossoms, leaves, or both and cover with either white vinegar or apple cider vinegar. Let it set in a cool dark place for 2-6 weeks. Strain and label. If you use white vinegar, try to make a batch with just blossoms-you will make a BEAUTIFUL purple vinegar! I use vinegars for all kinds of things. I flavor cooked greens with them, you can make a salad dressing with it, you can even use it as a hair rinse and a bath soak. Think of all the goodness of apple cider vinegar that you hear about-and add a power punch of nutrients with plant infusions!

10247459_728384073849329_8258624107772710316_nMedicinal. Wild violet has numerous medicinal properties. It is anti-inflammatory, helps the lymphatic system, is a blood purifier, it is a mild laxative and diuretic, a fever reducer, and supports the immune system. Making a syrup from the flowers is probably the easiest way to get your kids to reap the benefits. A syrup or tea is great for young ones who are constipated or have a fever. Simple fill a glass jar with the fresh flowers and pour boiling water over them. Allow to steep for 4 hours. Strain. You can stop here if you would like to have a cup of violet tea ( really, it’s an infusion…) or continue if you would like to turn it into a syrup. Herbal syrups are really just ways of making teas/infusions palatable for children (or those with tastebuds of children!).  Pour the infusion into a saucepan. Add equal quantities of sugar or honey and bring to a slow boil. Allow to boil for about 20 minutes or so and pour into glass jar. Store in fridge.  A great preparation for violets is in a salve or balm. It has been known to treat eczema and fibrocystic breast issues. Simply infuse dried violet leaf in an organic oil of your choice for several weeks. Strain and heat in a double boiler with a bit of beeswax. Continue to heat until wax is melted. Pour into glass jar. If it is too hard, remelt and add more oil. If it is too soft, remelt and add more wax. Tinctures are probably my favorite herbal preparation. Whenever possible, use fresh plant material. Place in clean glass jar (notice a theme here?) and cover with 100 proof alcohol (I prefer vodka, but use what you would like). LABEL! Give a good shake and place in cool dark area for 6+weeks. Give it a shake every day or so. Strain and bottle in an amber dropper bottle. Tinctures are the most effective form of herbal medicine. It is quick and easily absorbed into your blood stream. 

Just for fun! Crystallized violet blossoms and violet ice cubes! Crystallized violets are a fun garnish for baked goods and violet ice cubes would be a hit a kid’s party. Just fill an ice cube tray with the blossoms and fill with water as normal.

If you do not have access to fresh violets for some reason, you can always order them. I prefer to use Mountain Rose Herbs, but there are plenty of other herbal companies available!

WEHswirl

AFFILIATE DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging and social media activities, I may  receive monetary compensation for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this article. However, I only recommend products or services that are in line with my personal and professional ethics and standards. 

 

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Featured Herb: Goldenrod (Solidago spp.)

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Chances are, you’ve seen this lovely lady waving at you as you’ve traveled around lately. And, if you have seasonal allergies, chances are Goldenrod has been wrongfully accused of causing such allergies.

In reality, Goldenrod’s pollen is very sticky and doesn’t leave the plant. You are NOT allergic to goldenrod. But, guess what? Ragweed blooms at the exact same time, and it is a MAJOR allergen. That’s probably what you are reacting to.

It gets better. Not only is Goldenrod NOT the culprit of your sneezing and itchy eyes, but she can also help alleviate those symptoms! That’s right! Goldenrod has antihistamine properties!!

Nothing in nature happens without reason or randomly. Mother Nature/God/Goddess/etc. gives us exactly what we need.  We just need to learn how to listen again.

Other uses for goldenrod:

  • Cold and flu relief;
  • Colic and gas relief;
  • Lowers fever;
  • Powdered Goldenrod root helps heal wounds;
  • Goldenrod Vinegar helps prevent kidney stones and boosts immune responses; and
  • Can help with other kidney and bladder issues.

 

 

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Featured Herb: Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

YarrowYarrow is definitely one of my herbal allies. She literally grows all over my entire yard! Enough that I have been able to share it with a pretty large handful of friends.

I usually put off the first grass cutting of the year until I get a nice harvest of yarrow. When harvesting, I make sure to get the flowering tops along with some of the leaves and stem. It grows so abundantly, that I don’t have to worry if I don’t get enough in a day, because it will surely be back! It is considered a ground cover, so it spreads nicely and transplants take root very easily. So, if you are local to me and want to grow your own, let me know! I have more than enough to share.

Yarrow is one of those awesome all purpose plants. Fever reducing, anti-infective, insect repellent, pain reliever, blood purifier, and stops bleeding!

Yarrow is one of the herbs that I definitely recommend keeping on hand in tincture form in a travel first aid kit. You can put it directly on wounds to clean them and stop the bleeding, you can use it diluted in a spray bottle as an insect repellent, I also use it in a spray bottle for things like strep throat and tonsillitis.

As a fever reducer, it is best prepared as a tea. Now, it can be quite bitter, so mixing it with some more palatable herbs is probably the way to go.  Be on the look out for a fever busting tea soon!

**Unfortunately, pregnant women should not take yarrow in any form, as it may cause uterine contractions.**

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Featured Herb: Elderberries!

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So, in a few weeks, our children will be congregating in mass quantities. Yes-going back to school. Aside from the enormously wasteful piles of paper they will be bringing home for you to fill out for the umpteenth time, they will be bringing home all kinds of fun viruses and bacteria to ensure your immune system gets a nice workout.

Thankfully, the earth has decided to bless us with this immune support-elderberries. They are fruiting right now here in South Carolina. I just strolled around my neighborhood earlier today and harvested a basketful.

Elderberries have flavonoids that are powerful antioxidants and protect our cells from damage. These flavonoids also boost the immune system and strengthen our immune response to attacks from viruses. That combined with its HIGH Vitamin C content, you really can’t go wrong!

So, head on over to our shop  and stock up on Elderberry Syrup for the kids or Elderberry Tincture for yourself.

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Featured Herb: Red Raspberry Leaf (Rubus idaeus)

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Everyone is familiar with raspberries: delicious, abundant summertime treats.  However, the leaves are more nutritious and medicinally beneficially, too! Along with being rich in vitamins and minerals (calcium, iron, phospohorus, potassium, and vitamins B, C, and E) Red Raspberry Leaf’s (RRL) active ingredient is the alkaloid fragarine. Fragarine (when combined with the rest of the plant’s constituents-NOT isolated as an extract) tones and relaxes the pelvic and uterine muscles. This property makes it a favorite among women.

Used during a woman’s moon time, RRL can calm inflammation and reduce painful menstruation.  During pregnancy, it provides nutritients and tones and strengthens the uterus. It also can curb morning sickness due to the tannins.

Not only is it great for women, but the whole family can benefit from this powerhouse herb. Because it strengthens pelvic muscles, it may help children with bed wetting issues! It is also great for colds, the flu, digestive issues, sore throats, and more!

Red Raspberry Leaf is best used as an herbal infusion. Steep an ounce in a quart of boiling water and allow to infuse overnight.  Sweeten and refrigerate!

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Featured Herb: Comfrey (Symphytum uplandica x)

Comfrey“Where comfrey grows, there live a woman wise in the way of plants.”~from Opening Our Wild Hearts to the Healing Herbs by Gail Faith Edwards.

Comfrey is one of my all time favorite plants to work with. Unfortunately, she has gotten a bad reputation of being bad for your liver. This is true and untrue. WILD comfrey (Symphytum officinale) is toxic. Cultivated comfrey (Symphytum uplandica x) which gardeners and herbalists use is not.  Comfrey has been used traditionally for centuries without incident. It’s nickname “knit bone” is from it’s ability to strengthen and speed healing of broken bones. Comfrey is a beautiful plant that promotes cellular regeneration. It is fabulous for your joints, bones, muscles, skin, hair, and improves short term memory! Also, it is rich in folic acid, proteins, and vitamins and minerals.

The best way to add comfrey to your life, is to drink a quart or two of comfrey infusion a week. You don’t know how to make an infusion, you say? It is really, very easy.

  • Put one ounce of DRIED plant material in a quart sized mason jar.
  • Add boiling water.
  • Cap mason jar.
  • Allow to steep for at least 4 hours-up to overnight.
  • Strain and refrigerate.
  • Drink the infusion over the course of 1-2 days (after 2 days, its shelf life is suspect).

Comfrey is rich in tannins, so it may make your mouth pucker a bit. Add a tablespoon of dried peppermint to your infuse if you wise to improve the taste.

Adding comfrey as your green ally will be sure to make a positive impact in your health and wellness.

As always, this article is for informational purposes only. Any advice given has not been evaluated by the FDA and is not meant to treat or diagnose. Consult your primary care provider.

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Chickweed! My Little Star

 

I.Love.Chickweed. Chances are, it is growing in your yard! My entire side yard is covered with it.  Anti-inflammatory, loaded with nutrition like magnesium, calcium, zinc, and iron, and even eliminates fat cells!  A chickweed poultice will reduce external swelling and inflammation. A tincture made from fresh chickweed taken daily has been known to dissolve ovarian cysts! I love to put a handful in a salad or smoothie. You can even make a tea out of it.

Think before you treat your lawn. You can find all kinds of beneficial plants gifted to you by nature. I have found that if you hang out in your yard, or among nature, your herbal allies will show themselves to you. I know, I know, that sounds hooky. But, seriously! Once I gave the lawn mower a rest, I discovered so many friends just waiting for me to utilize them! Chickweed, plantain, yellow dock, wild violets, yarrow, and cleavers are all over my yard! And I realized, the more I needed something, the more it showed itself to me.

So, if any of you need any chickweed, just let me know! I have more than enough to share.