A LITTLE HERBALISM FOR YOUR DAY- Plant Identification and Majorum

 

Plant identification and Majorum

When I began learning herbs from someone other than my grandmother I was taken back at how little information was being given and in my brazen style decided I could do better. So I asked if I could teach a class or two and was given permission. Little did I realize the amount of work and research that really went into knowing more about herbs!

As I proceeded I realized herbalism had its own language. In an earlier blog post, I wrote an herbal glossary that focused on types of concoctions and the actions of the herb. Today I include the language of plant Identification. It is very important to know you have the correct herb as there are many look-alikes out there that can harm rather than heal.

At the end of the glossary I show the type of research I do on all my herbs while discussing Majorum, but first the glossary. Sources are available on request.

PLANT IDENTIFICATION GLOSSARY

AXIS: The axis is the plant stem; more generally the line of growth of a stem or any of its branching parts that carry flowers, other branches, or leaves.

AXIL: This is the upper angle between a bract or leaf and the stem on which it grows, or an axillary flower or bud.

ACHENE: A small dry, nut-like, one-seeded fruit that does not split open when ripe to release the seed, It can be winged, such as a maple seed, or caraway seed.

ASCENDING: This simply means curving upwards.

BASAL: These are the leaves growing at the base of a stem.

BIPINNATE: A leaf that is twice pinnate i.e., a pinnately divided leaf whose leaflets are themselves pinnately divided. (See Pinnate description below)

BRACT:  A small leaf or scale-like structure from the axil of where a flower often begins.

COMPOUND LEAF: This is a leaf divided into two or more leaflets or a leaf or flower cluster with a branched main axis.

DECIDUOUS: These are plants with shedding leaves at the end of the growing season.

DIVIDED: A place in the plant where they separate towards the mid-rib or base.

ELLIPTICAL:  Leaves that are oval but slightly pointed at each end.

FEATHERY: Leaves that are cut into many fine segments along the edge that look “Feathery”

FURROWED: Leaves with longitudinal (long) channels or grooves that run toward the base of the leaf.

GLOBOSE: This term is usually applied to a fruit or a seed that is round like a sphere

LATERAL: This term means something that is situated at the side of the leaf. “It is lateral to the object being viewed”

LEAF AXIL: Is the part between the leaf and the stem

LEAFLET: This is a subdivision of a compound leaf where you find several small leaves in a group.

LINEAR: Leaves that are long and narrow, almost parallel-sided.

LINEAR- LANCEOLATE: These are leaves that are long and narrow but tapering to a point at the tip

LOBED: Leaves that are divided toward the mid-rib but not into separate leaflets, each division is rounded at the apex, like an oak leaf.

LATEX: This is a milky fluid produced by several kinds of plants such as poppy, milkweed, rubber plant, and many more.

MARGIN:  The outside edge of a leaf or seed.

MID-RIB: Is the center vein of a leaf, usually thickened and obvious.

NODE: This is a point on a stem in which one or more leaves grow or have grown; the part of the stem between the nodes is called an internode.

OBOVATE: This describes a leaf that is oval, with the end farthest from the stalk being wider than the end attached to the stem that is somewhat egg-shaped, also called OVATE.

OPPOSITE: Leaves that grow in pairs at the same level on opposite sides of the stem.

PALMATE: This describes a leaf that has the shape of a hand. The leaf will have a center like our palm with three or more leaves extending from it as our fingers do on our hand. The Virginia Creeper vine is one of these types of leaves.

PETIOLE: Is the stalk of the leaf, not the whole plant.

PINNATE: A leaf that has the structure of a feather in that similar parts occur on opposite sides of an axis. A pinnate leaf is divided into numerous leaflets that grow along either side of the leaf stalk and have their own center stalk, which is called a petiole.

RAY FLOWER: These are flowers that edge a central disc, such as sunflowers daisies and many more.

RHIZOME: This is a creeping, usually horizontal underground storage stem, which sends up leafy shoots each season, like ferns, and water hemlock.

SESSILE: These are stalkless flowers or leaves. They have no petiole or stem of their own but grow right from the main stalk much like Chickory does.

SIMPLE: Leaves that are not divided into leaflets of stems but are unbranched in any way.

SPREADING: These leaves stand out horizontally or at a wide angle from the stem.

SHEATH; The sheath is the lower part of the leaf that wraps around the stem or stalk, near the base that is separate from the main part.

TERMINAL: This is the end of a stalk or stem or branch that limits more growth.

UMBEL: Is a bract of flowers that are umbrella-shaped in which all the flowers or the secondary umbels in a compound umbel are borne on smaller stalks that spread out and are equal in length. They arise from a common stem, like on water hemlock and wild carrot.

VEIN: This is the passageway for water and nutrients to and from a leaf; also the mechanical support system you see them when you look very closely at a leaf.

So now that we know more about how to identify a plant let’s talk about one of my favorites, Marjoram! I have fond memories of this herb as it was one of the first teas my mom introduced to me. I knew when mom brought out the Marjoram it was time to sit and quietly talk.

How the following is laid out also shows the type of research I do on all of my herbs. The reason I do this is because I was taught herbs are medicine. Many of the terminology used here can be found in my blog article Herbal Glossary.

MARJORUM;

CONTAINS: vitamins A,B-12,C AND K, thiamine, riboflavin, calcium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, sodium, zinc, silicon, phytonutrients, beta-carotene, lutein, and flavonoids.

ACTIONS; Tonic, carminative, diaphoretic, calmative, anodyne, stomachic, antidote, antispasmodic, anti-fungal, antioxidant, aperitif, diuretic, antibacterial, anti-viral, optic tonic, aromatic, expectorant, emmenagogue, and hypertensive.

USES; asthma, violent cough, spasms, cramps, measles, dropsy, respiratory issues of all kinds, digestive problems, nervous headache, colic, gas, gargle, allergies, colds, nervous disorders, rheumatism, toothache, prevents neural damage in the brain, food poisoning or staph infection

I have used Marjoram as a calmative and tonic. Any time I am over-stressed and worn out, or wrung out during or after a cold or flu or other illness. I find it has restorative qualities and feels very relaxing to the system and I love the earthy aroma!

You can infuse oil to use on sprains or joint pain, by putting the fresh herb in olive oil and let stand in the sun for 2-3 weeks. Another way to do this is to get one of those small warming crock pots for sauces. They heat to 140. Put ingredients in and let warm overnight or two days to get the same effect. This oil can be used for earache and toothache and massage for varicose veins and gout.

The planet of Marjoram is Mercury, and it is used for communication, thinking logic, writing, motivation, and wisdom. This is a good tea to serve at a study group or business meeting.

Its tarot card is the Magician because it has all the tools it needs to do the job. It brings temperance that promotes growth and changes that make one humble. Excellent before meditation. Marjoram’s Goddess is Aphrodite who is the symbol of happiness, love, joy, and serenity. This herb is one of my staples. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. Many Blessings!

 

 

 

 

Herbal Information Sources

Today I thought I would write about herbalism. And I realize there is so much information out there that you might like to know what sources I use and my process for researching them.

I have several rules of practice when looking for information on herbs. First, I google medicinal uses for….(insert herb here) I look at no less than 15 sites if the herb is new to me. Then I look for what the herb contains, not just its uses. When I begin to see the same information being repeated, that is the information I then write down. After that, I go to my books, and for a new herb, I use no less than eight. Then when that information matches up with what I found online, I enter the matching information into my herbal journal confident in what I have found.

Why do I do all of this? Because herbs are medicine and chemicals just like a prescription.

My number one rule is “Do your own research”, even if a trusted friend gives you good information. Two herbs are responsible for this rule, Kava and the mint family of which there are 7000 species. Kava is listed as harmless and non-toxic, yet if someone has liver issues it can cause them harm. In the mint family of 7000, if someone is allergic to one of them, they are likely to be allergic to all of them. Almost every herb has some indication like this and it takes deep research to find it at times.

I also look at what an herb contains and I find words like saponins, flavonoids, or rutin. I look them up too so I know what they are and how they interact with the body. I look at the actions and find words like depurative, vulnerary, and diuretic, and look them up too. All for the sake of safety and being confident of what I am using.

This resulted in my creation of an herbal glossary I keep for my own use and teach my students. You will find that glossary on my blog at https://catginacole.com/a-little-herbalism-for-your-day/ It is an excellent example of the types of words to look for. I also created the glossary because I discovered herbalism has its own language and the glossary became the key to understanding it.

I do have several friends I have come to trust over time to converse with about herbs, they are: Kathleen Crochet Stursa- Herbalist, simpler, and Gardner extraordinaire, Ruth Overholser-Owner of Lady Thyme Herbs in Cave Junction Oregon, Janice Patterson Sidel-Owner of the Dancing Gypsy in Klamath Falls Oregon, Erika Fortner- Owner of Queen Meb in Portland, Katrina Rasbold- Owner of Crossroads Metaphysical Store in Shingle Springs Ca. These ladies really know their stuff and if the research fails, I can always count on them.

There are two links I use the most, they are Web MD and VeryWellHealth.com I also watch Suzan Weed on YouTube and a few others on occasion. I look at many other links as well but these are the most used.

There is nothing like finding a good herb book with special nuggets of information. When you buy one, check the glossary, index, and bibliography. This will tell you exactly how good the book really is. Here is the list of my current herbal books.

Practical Herbalism by Frtichey

The Good Herb by Judith Benn Hurley

Rodale’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs

The Consumers Guide to Herbalism by Steven Kirch

Magic and Medicine of Herbs by Readers Digest

The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs by  Sarah Bunny-Barnes and Noble

Magic with Incense and Powders by Ana Riva

Medicinal Plants of The Pacific Northwest by Moore

Petersons Guide to Medicinal Plants & Herbs

Todays Herbal Health by Tenny

The Herbalist by Joseph E Meyer

I also have assorted books on aromatherapy and oils and am always looking for more! Feel free to share your favorites with me by leaving a comment and happy herbing!

Cinnamon, A herb for the Season

Cinnamon is the bark from the lauraceous tree. While the tree is of the moon the herb is of the sun. Once I began researching cinnamon, I was surprised at the qualities of this un-assuming herb in my kitchen! It has many medical qualities. It is a great anti-fungal and antibacterial herb that makes a nice non-toxic bug repellant when sprinkled in kitchen cabinets. In large amounts, it even keeps away fire ants as long it is freshly applied around their mounds.

Cinnamon can be a lady’s best friend. A tea made with honey and cinnamon powder taken regularly arrests the advance of old age keeping the skin soft and reducing wrinkles!. For this take four spoons of honey, one spoon of cinnamon powder, and three cups of water and boil. Drink one cup per day. I have used cinnamon honey tea to reduce overall inflammation in the form of one cup each morning for a month with good results.

Cinnamon helps with fatigue when made with half a teaspoon of honey in a glass of water sprinkled with cinnamon around two or three in the afternoon when your energy is the lowest. If taken daily at the same time you will see an increase in your energy in about a week.

Cinnamon is high in antioxidants and the oil has anti-microbial properties. It also has manganese, fiber, iron, and calcium. Several studies show it may help type two diabetes, lower cholesterol, and blood pressure. For blood pressure, I make a tincture of cassia sticks. I break them up roughly and place them in a small jar with three ounces of 100 proof vodka. I place them in a dark place and shake now and then for 4 weeks.

CAUTION!

This makes a strong tincture, no one should be on other blood pressure medicines if they are using this tincture. Dosing is one or two DROPS per day NO MORE and use for only 1 week at a time NO MORE. I have seen this tincture misused and drop a person’s blood pressure to dangerously low levels.

In powdered or stick form, culinary amounts of cinnamon are non-toxic, however, the oil is different. On the skin, it may cause redness and burning. If you were to ingest the oil, which is not a thing to do, it can cause burns on your lips, in your throat, and esophagus.

 

Chinese herbalists mention cinnamon as early as 2700 B.C. as an herb and treatment for fever. Later it was the Greeks and Romans that adopted cinnamon as a spice.

In the seventeenth century, Europeans considered cinnamon primarily a kitchen spice, but they used it to mask the bitterness of other healing herbs. There is a sound reason for flavoring toothpaste and mouth wash with cinnamon because it is a powerful antiseptic that kills many decays and disease-causing bacteria, fungi, and viruses.

Cinnamon does more than add flavors to cakes and other high-fat deserts, the herb helps break down fats in your digestive system, possibly by boosting the activity of some digestive enzyme. I think cinnamon is my newfound friend!

Cinnamon is certainly an herb for the season, but few of us think of it in magic. As we approach winter it is time for new beginnings. A time to take a look at what our harvests have brought us. It is a good time to clean and clear out the old to make room for the new. As you do the cleaning and clearing think of ideas, plans, and good fortune you hope to draw to you in the coming year.

The following spell courts the favor of the Kings of four winds. For this spell, you will need to ascertain North and South and so forth.

The four winds were given magical names by the ancient Greeks—Boreas, Eureus, Notus, and Zephyrus. In some circles, they are known as the four guardians. It is these forces together with those of the elemental spirits of Air, Water, Fire, and Earth, that are called upon to carry your desired goal to the four points of the universe.

The spell is designed to be performed outside because you would not want a child or pet to lick up the cinnamon and get harmed. For this spell you will need:

A quarter Tsp measuring spoon

2 small dishes for powdered cinnamon

A small rock or dish of dirt to represent the earth

A white or red candle and holder to represent fire

A feather to represent air

A shell or dish of water to represent water

2-Tsp powdered cinnamon

To set up a proper place, cast a circle of protection as you create your sacred space. Arrange your items on your altar or table and light your candle. Take up one dish of cinnamon, and think for a moment about the four kings and what they mean to you. Then raise up the dish and say Oh great Kings of the Elemental quarters I make this offering to you in gratitude for all you do and have done. After you cast a pinch of cinnamon in each direction, say, Great King of the ( say direction here, north, south, etc) I ask you attend my working and accept my offering so mote it be.

Take the second dish of cinnamon and visualize the achievement of your goal in fine detail. Hold the herb to your mouth being careful not to let it touch your lips, and breathe on it gently, like an exhale to charge the spice with your goal.

Next, put a ¼ tsp in your hand and turn to the North and say; King Boreas of the Northwind, by the powers of Earth, I call on you and ask that you carry my desire to your realm in the Northern Quarter, that you may lend your great power toward my success. Now gently blow the herb from your palm in the direction of the North., and say So Mote it be. Do not blow on the cinnamon too hard or it will get in your eyes and that will be painful.

Take another ¼ of cinnamon into your hand and turn to the East and say; King Eureus of the East wind, by the power of the Air I call you and ask that you carry my desire to your realm in the Eastern quarter, that you may lend your great power so toward my success, then blow a quarter of the herb to the East from your palm and say So Mote It Be.

Put another ¼ tsp of cinnamon in your hand and turn South and say; King Notus of the South wind, by the power of Fire, I call you and ask that you carry my desire to your realm in the Southern quarter, that you may lend your great power toward my success. Blow a quarter of the herb to the South from your palm and say So Mote it Be.

Turn to the West with another ¼ of the cinnamon and say; King Zephyrus of the West, by the power of the Water, I call you and ask that you carry my desire to your realm in the Western quarter, that you may lend your power toward my success, blow the final quarter of the herb to the South from your palm and say So Mote it Be.

Now face the altar and raise your hands and voice and say Oh great kings of the quarters may you accept my offering and my works, thank you for your presence and power as you safely return to your realms with my desire. Then say so mote it be. Leave the items there and let the candle burn down all the way, making sure it is safe from pets and kids, or you can take the candle in and let it finish burning indoors.

 

Sources;

(1)Catanna.com/yule spells

(2)sacresdspiral.com

(3) alchemy-works.com/herb-cinnamon

(4)hub pages.com/hub/cinnamon

(5)alzheimersreadingroom.com

(6)healing herbs, by Michael Castelman

(7)spells by Mathew Green

8) web MD

Miner’s Lettuce, A Beautiful Herb

MINER’S LETTUCE -Claytonia perfoliata

 

Miner’s lettuce is a fleshy hairless annual. It is a slender taproot, that can grow up to 16 inches in height. The leaves are a slight oval basil rosette to triangular, growing on long petioles. It has two stems that fuse into a round disk below a small white to pinkish flower, and they bloom from January to July. The petals are notched with an oval seed pod that has a three valved opening from the tip, and the seeds are black and shiny, similar to a poppy or mullein seed.

WHERE FOUND, miners lettuce is found in the moist shady places of the forest, and disturbed sites, as long as it is shady and cool they will be sweet. If they are in the hot sun, they will be bitter. Their range is California to B.C. they can be highly variable in size and leaf shape depending on the region in which they are found.

Miner’s lettuce is found in the wild more often than it is cultivated. Miners Lettuce is crisp with a sweet flavor and is used in both fresh and cooked applications.

 

USES; The Shoshone applied a minors leaf poultice for syphilis and rheumatism. This plant was also used to soothe sore eyes and improve vision. It is used as a laxative, for cuts, as a diuretic, and even as an aperitif. Its stems and leaves placed on cuts after the blood is washed away help speed healing. Miners Lettuce has been used as an antioxidant, for heart disease, and as a potherb. This herb is well suited for both raw and cooked applications such as steaming, boiling, stir-frying or sautéing and is great in salads.

The flowers, leaves, and stems are all edible and can be cooked with other delicate flavors. The leaves will keep 3-4 days when stored in a sealed container with a damp paper towel in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator.

MINERS LETTUCE CONTAINS; iron, beta carotene, it has a high content of vitamin C, Omega 3, and protein.

ACTIONS; antioxidant, anti-rheumatic, laxative, antiseptic, prevents scurvy, blood purifier, spring tonic.

Miner’s lettuce gets its name from California during the Gold Rush. The miners needed a source of vitamin C. The gold miners quickly discovered from the Native Americans that Miner’s lettuce could be consumed both raw or cooked to prevent scurvy.

Today Miner’s lettuce is used as a source of food for animals. In the wild it is a grazing source for gophers, flocking birds, quail, and doves. Miner’s lettuce is used as a spring tonic to cleanse the body. It is a purifying green that fortifies and filters out blood and lymph systems and is full of omega 3.

The Chlorophyll it contains is an antioxidant-rich nutrient and the omega 3, acts as an anti-inflammatory that counteracts the pro-inflammatory effects of LA omega-6 fats and their derived oils we get in so many other foods.

I collect it and use it in salads, it has a very nice taste to it. I also use it as a tonic. To make a tonic stuff a clear jar full of the herb and fill with water and leave it in the sun to warm for the day. Then strain and refrigerate and drink as often as you like. It is a great way to get extra vitamins and clean up your system.

When collecting Miners Lettuce in the wild I leave some of the plants behind and use scissors to cut it rather than pulling up the roots. I find this plant to be one of the more beautiful plants in the forests and cheerful to look at and really enjoy the bounty this plant has to offer.

FOLLOWING A DREAM

DO YOU LET YOUR DREAMS GUIDE YOU?

This was a question asked in a zoom group this week. My reply was a resounding yes!

I have been an active lucid dreamer since I can remember. My dreams are everything to me. They guide my life, solve my problems, teach me magic and take me to wonderous places. My world is not complete unless I have my dreams, they are such a huge part of me and my magical practice. In my book Psychic Skills for Magic and Witchcraft, which will be released February 2022, I wrote an entire chapter devoted to dreams where you will see how and why they are so important to me.

Dreams are the cornerstone of spirituality; they are its creation and continuation. Many of our magical practices that have been recorded over time were inspired by dreams.

I am in quite a few Pagan groups on Facebook and one of the most common questions asked is to have someone interpret their dream. Reading and learning from others is very beneficial and will teach you a lot. Such activities will give you the language of dreams and teach you the basic concepts.

However, in the end, only you know the real meaning of your dreams. The symbols in the dream are the symbols your mind and spirit relate to. While it is beneficial to discuss them with others who may be able to provide some clues and insight, your dreams are about how they made you feel, what they made you think, and the best way to interpret their meaning is by meditating on them or writing about them.

Being used to spiritual dreams, I was merely curious one morning two years ago, as I woke with a lingering dream. In the dream, I was instructed to make a body oil to anoint myself and to use it on January 20th with the chant I was taught in the dream. The why came when I turned on the computer to discover there was going to be a major planet alignment on that day. Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and Mercury began their alignment and visibility in December and their zenith was on January 20th their movement of descent, continued on through February. During that time there had also been a four-inch shift in the Ocean floor off the coast of Oregon and the full moon was on the next day on the 21st of January.

To a witch like me, that is a lot of cosmic movement and energies. I know such movements and energies affect us even if it is subtle. I had been feeling this energy build for weeks and wondering about its cause. The morning after this dream the energy was such a good feeling energy it inspired me to raise my arms, open myself and take it in. I used this energy in all my works the rest of the day.

As a Witch, I desire to discover the properties and characteristics of such forces so I can connect with them for magical uses. To me, the main definition of witchcraft is working with the forces of nature. So, I went pouring over my book of shadows and other books to reveal the magic within this energy. By the time I was done reading I had the correspondences of each of the planets, their Deity, the Deities characteristics, and the corresponding Tarot card meaning and number for each.

This information tells me more about the specifics of the natural force. This knowledge educates me more on what I am about to do and why as I connect it all together. All this research and gathering increases my focus and the results of my magic. Then I take all the information and infuse it into my incantation and potion. It rather reminds me of Cerridwen’s year-long potion.

You say that is a lot of work for an oil you dreamed of. True. However, the research into things, what they are, what they symbolize; deepens our understanding, our knowledge and reconnects us to the natural world in a very tangible way. This work allows the energies within us to align with the energy of the cosmos, rebuilding the mystery, the awe, the power, the sacredness within us. To me, this kind of work is the craft part of witchcraft, among other things.

Now, do I do this kind of research and correspondence work for all the dreams I follow? No. Do I do such correspondence research for each bit of magic I do? No. There is a time and place for all things. Some days I might simply commune with a blade of grass as I reflect on a dream. Others I may only journal and meditate on and leave for another day. Tapping my intuition, exploring how the dream made me feel, and letting certain elements of the dream guide what I will do, has worked very well for me, and provided many wondrous things I never would have thought of on my own.

 

 

My Favorite Poppy

California poppy

By Cat Gina Cole

The Spanish name given this flower is Dornidera. It is known as the drowsy one and is the California state flower. Like any true Californian, this flower worships the sun and closes up tightly at night.

The California Poppy has been recognized for its effects on mental, emotional, spiritual levels for enhancing vitality and warmth surrounding the heart. It is also known to provide self-acceptance and self-awareness for those who are often attracted to the glitz and glamor of others.

To find spirituality within one’s heart or to encourage self-responsibility and quiet inner development use as a flower essence. This Poppy has calming effects with no opioids, it is completely non-narcotic or habit-forming, it inhibits the loss of dopamine that stabilizes mental ability. The parts used are the root, seeds, and the leaves. Harvest is best at full flower maturity.

Following are descriptions of how and why this herb works.

CALIFORNIA POPPY ACTIONS: anodyne, calmative, possibly mydriatic ( dilates the pupils), nervine, analgesic, nerve tonic, adaptogen ( increases bodies resistance to stress) antidepressant, sedative, antispasmodic, antimicrobial.

CALIFONIA POPPY CONTAINS; chelirubine, sanguinarine, macropine, flavenglycerides, cryptopine, some sedative alkaloids highest in the root (but no real opium)

CALIFONIA POPPY USES; sedative, mental stability, pain relief, dry up lactation, toothaches, insomnia, hair tonic, nerve tonic, poultice for sores, headache, ease anxiety, remedy for ADHD, stomach aches, kill head lice, treatment for S.A.D.

I make a simple tincture of California Poppy by filling a jar of herb I buy from an apothecary with 80 proof vodka. I seal the jar tight keep it in a cool dark place and turn over and shake it once a week for four weeks. I use this tincture to keep me calm before public speaking or any other anxious times I may have. I do have ADD and it really does work well to help calm and focus the mind. Research backs this up and shows good results when given to treat ADHD as it improves intellectual capacity, memory, concentration and soothes the hyperactivity of the system. I have even made the tincture in glycerin for kids that have had good results from it.

The leaves were chewed by the indigenous people of California for toothaches The Pomo Indians rubbed the mashed seed pods or a decoction of the herb on a woman’s breasts to dry up lactation. The plant was given to babies as a sedative and placed under the bed for better sleep. Other tribes decocted the plant in its powder form and rubbed it into the hair to kill head lice. The root juice was taken for stomach aches and to fight TB and used as a wash for weeping sores.

Today some Californians of Spanish heritage, cook the plant in olive oil to make a hair tonic that makes the hair grow thick and shiny. You can even diffuse it in a room to promote sleep. The herb relieves nerve and muscular pain slows the pulse and eases a spasmodic cough. Research shows the California Poppy nourishes the nervous system and pain pathways. Using the root is not recommended for kids under 12.

To make a tea, use 2-3 tbsp. of herb per cup of water. Dosing for a tincture is 15- 25 drops daily for mild pain or ADD symptoms and up to 30 -40 for more severe pain, one herbalist stated they personally use ½ dropper of tincture straight, no water, that is also about what I use. This is a rather mild herb so the tincture is typically made from the whole plant, stems, seeds, leaves, roots, and flowers. Slightly crush root and seeds if you are using them then strain through a coffee filter or fine cheesecloth.

CALIFONIA POPPY MAGIC; Gender- feminine, Planet- Moon, Element Water, Deities- Hypnos and Demeter

Powers- fertility, love, sleep, money, luck, invisibility

They are also eaten or carried to promote fertility, attract luck and money. At one time poppy seed heads were gilded and worn as talismans to draw wealth. The seeds are also added to food to induce love or are used in love sachets.

If you wish to know the answer to a question, write it in blue on a piece of white paper. Place this inside a poppy seed pod and put it beneath your pillow. The answer will appear in a dream. I found one reference that said if you soak poppy seeds in wine each day for five days while fasting you will be able to make yourself invisible at will. Magic is such a fascinating thing.

A LITTLE HERBALISM FOR YOUR DAY

AN HERBAL GLOSSARY

I was 50 before I began to study under a teacher that was not my family. Eventually, I was asked to teach herbalism. My experience with herbs up to this point had been learning from working in the garden with my dad or grandma. To teach others I need more formal information, which led me to books, lots of them! As I read, I realized the topic of herbs had its own language and a working glossary would be quite helpful.

Mom taught me that if you want to understand a new topic read the glossary first. That way you understand what you are reading. When it comes to herbs there are many different glossaries on many sub-topics. I cherry-picked the most used or important ones to make a basic glossary for myself and my students. This glossary was the first lesson I taught my students and is broken down into categories. It has proved useful over time as a quick reference that I keep in the front of my own herbal notebook, maybe it will be useful for you too.

 

I begin with types of concoctions which is how something is prepared as you combine ingredients.

TYPE OF CONCOCTIONS:

COMPRESS: Is a piece of cloth soaked in herbal decoction and applied externally with pressure.

DECOCTION: An herbal dose obtained by boiling or simmering a certain weight of herb in a measured liquid for a specified amount of time.

A standard decoction is made with 1 oz of herb to 2 ½ cups of liquid (usually distilled water), Bring the liquid to a boil then add the herb and simmer for 30 minutes. By this time the liquid should have reduced by half. If more has evaporated, top with liquid to make 1 ¼ cups This reduction method is typically used for the tougher parts of the plant, roots, bark, stems, and seeds. For a leaf type tea, the reduction step is not needed nor desired.

MACERATING: Is for herbs that may lose some of their therapeutic value if heated. They can be steeped in oil, vinegar, or alcohol.

Pack a glass jar with crushed fresh herb, cover with liquid, seal the jar, and leave for two weeks, shaking jar each day.

For a stronger maceration, strain and repeat the process until liquid smells strongly. Use fresh herbs each time you strain. This is a two-week process, not a 4–6-week one like in tinctures.

INFUSION: This is an herbal dose obtained by pouring a certain amount of boiling water over a certain weight of herb and leaving it to steep for a set amount of time.

A standard infusion is 1oz of dried herb to 2 ½ cups of water. The average time to steep, is 5 minutes. Some recipes call for more or less time. Most of us use this method for making a leaf type of tea.

POULTICE: Is a crushed herb that is heated then spread on a cloth that is wrung out then applied to bruised or inflamed skin.

NOTE: The difference between a poultice and a compress, is that a poultice is a crushed herb that is heated then applied without pressure. A compress is a liquid herb, like a tea that is hot or cold that is then applied with pressure, and not wrung out before application.

TINCTURE: This type of concoction is what most of us are familiar with. It is a solution of extracts that are typically obtained by steeping herbs in alcohol, or a combination of water and alcohol. A tincture can also be made with vinegar or a food grade vegetable glycerin.

TONIC: A Tonic is a concoction that stimulates and invigorates the body as a whole or a specific system or organ of the body and is usually a blend of various herbs. These are typically made by steeping herbs in water. I prefer to pack my container with water and herbs and leave them in the sun to warm for a tonic, then I refrigerate them and usually drink them cold like iced tea.

ELIXIR: An elixir is a liquid containing alcohol and medicinal herbs that are sweetened usually with sugar or honey.

NOTE: If you sweeten a tincture, it becomes an elixir, and when you add a tincture to an infusion it becomes a tonic.

OXYMEL: This is a preparation containing honey, water, and vinegar and is used as an expectorant. These are usually 5 parts honey, 1 part water, 1 part vinegar.

EMULSIONS: Emulsions can be tricky, they are a preparation composed of totally un-homogeneous substances that are intimately mixed causing one to be suspended in the other, like the oil and egg in mayo to keep it creamy, or the oil in beeswax.

FOMENTATION: An application of a hot moist substance. Also known as a poultice.

OINTMENT: A solid herbal medication applied externally that softens when applied to soothe the skin like a wax-based concoction.

PLASTER: A medication that is applied externally and covered with a cloth, like comfrey for a bruise.

NOTE: This is different from a poultice because it is not hot, and it is different from a compress because it is not applied with pressure.

UNGUENT: A fatty medicinal preparation for external use that liquefies when applied, typically these will have coconut or olive oil in them. Long ago it was not uncommon to use bear fat, lard, and other like fats for this type of concoction.

ESSENTIAL OILS: An oil present in plants usually containing terpenoids that are extracted by steam distillation.

EAU DES CARMES: This has an interesting history. It is a sleep-inducing remedy produced by the Carmelite Nuns during the Middle Ages. It contained lemon rind, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and coriander in a white wine. I have yet to find an actual recipe for how this was made but I can see it being made as a spiced wine, strained, and served warmed.

DEPURATIVE: an agent that purifies ( can be a type of concoction and an action of an herb)

VULNERARY: These are used in treating wounds ( can be both a type of concoction and an action of an herb)

MELITTA: any liquid medicine mixed with honey instead of syrup.

 

ACTIONS: Actions are what the herb does.

RUBEFACIENT: These concoctions redden the skin bringing blood or heat to the surface of the skin. Mustard and cinnamon are the more commonly known rubefacients.

ANODYNE: These are the opposite of the rubefacients, they are herbs that are capable of soothing, comforting, calming, or relieving pain.

ANTI-HYDROTIC: An anti-hydrotic, slows the perspiration by reducing the action of the sweat glands which is the opposite of diaphoretic.

ASTRINGENT: This tightens the skin. It is a topical that can help stop bleeding and decrease mucous secretions.

BACTERIDE: This destroys bacteria on the surface of the skin. An antiseptic is a bacteride

CALMATIVE: These herbs are mild sedatives, like chamomile, or marjoram.

DIURETIC: Natures water pills, these herbs stimulate the elimination of water from the body.

EMETIC: A concoction that promotes vomiting.

EXPECTORANT: Causes phlegm to be coughed up from the lungs.

MYDRIATIC: Dilates pupils, many herbs have this action.

SIALAGOGUE: Produces a flow of saliva

MUCILAGE: A gelatinous substance occurring naturally in some herbs that is used to soothe inflammation of the skin. These herbs are often good for the hair too.

NARCOTIC: Any substance that in small doses deadens pain but in large doses can damage the nervous system, be addictive or be fatal.

BANE-BANEFUL HERB: An herb that is toxic or poisonous.

NERVINE: Relaxant, calmative, treats nerve disorders ( such as neuropathy)

PURGATIVE: A strong laxative, not an agent to cause vomiting

ADJUVANT: A substance that enhances the effect of another medication

ANESTHETIC: These substances numb, reduces, or abolishes sensation

ANALGESIC: A substance that reduces pain

ANTIPYRETIC: Reduces fever by lowering the body temperature

ANTITUSSIVE: Prevents coughing

APERIENT: Laxative

APERITIF: Stimulates the appetite, usually an alcoholic drink served 20 minutes before the meal

BITTER: Bitter herbs that stimulate the appetite by irritating the taste buds which stimulates the appetite and flow of digestive juices

CARMINATIVE: Relieves flatulence and  griping pains in the stomach and bowel

COSTIVE: Constipating action

SYNERGIST: Agent that increases the effectiveness of another when combined

CATHARTIC: Stimulates bowel action more forcefully than a laxative – see purgative

DIAPHORETIC: Increases perspiration

HYPOTENSIVE: Reduces blood pressure, vasodilator

HYPERTENSIVE: Increases blood pressure, vasoconstrictive

ANTIRHEUMATIC: Eases the pain and inflammation in joints and muscles

CARCINOGENIC: Cancer-causing

CHOLERETIC: Stimulates the liver to produce more bile or to stimulate the release of bile from the gall bladder and bile ducts into the duodenum

NERVE TONIC: A medical preparation that is meant to stimulate and tone up the nervous system and give a sense of well-being

ANTIEMETIC: Prevents nausea and vomiting

DEMULCENT: An oil or substance that can be used to protect or soothe a mucous membrane

DEPURATIVE: Substance used to purify the blood

HEMOSTATIC: Stops bleeding

RESORPTIVE: Herb applied topically to make bruises disappear

ALTERATIVE: A substance that gently detox’s the blood and enhances liver, kidney, and skin clearance

ADAPTOGEN: Any substance that increases the bodies resistance to stress

SUFFIX: Hem- blood, Hep- liver, Hypo- restrictive or less, Hyper- more, or overactive

ACTIVE INGREDIENTS

ACTIVE CONSTITUENTS: Medicinally effective chemical substance found in plants

TERPENOID: A hydrocarbon considered an essential oil common in our diets, can enhance the effects of some herbs

SAPONIN: Plant glycosides that produce a soapy film in water

CYANIDE: Poisonous chemical found in some seeds such as the wild cherry pit

SCOLPAMINE: A poisonous plant chemical of the alkaloid group obtained from plants of the nightshade family and used as a sedative, usually in combination with other herbs. Also used as a truth serum as it makes people talk more openly than normal.

ALKALOIDS: Are a diverse group of basic compounds with alkaline properties and generally a marked physiological effect on the nervous systems typically containing nitrogen. They generally have a bitter flavor and most are poisonous to varying degrees. They produce varied effects, such as analgesic, anesthetic, tranquilizing, vasoconstriction, and hallucinatory actions.

BETA SITOSTEROL: Found in soya beans used for the manufacture of steroids- may reduce cholesterol has anti-inflammatory properties

BISABOLOL: Calms the stomach and gives a blue color to the essential oil of chamomile

POLYPHENOLS: An antioxidant

TANNINS: A plant compound that binds to and precipitates proteins, amino acids, and alkaloids