It’s that time of year again friends! When we are awoken to the senses of colors, smells, and growth. Especially for us herbalists and farmers, the tiniest details of changes in the soil and the budding of trees indicate to us the changes and when certain plants are ready to share their medicine. Buds like Cottonwood of the Populus balsamifera tree provides a fragrant and cleansing resin that we can utilize. Nettles poking out of the ground also represent to us the promise of longer and warmer days in the not too distant future or so we can hope. Cleavers, Galium aparine, Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) and Oregon Grape root (Mahonia nervosa) are also a part of this month’s share.
1. Nettles (Urtica diocia)- dried
As a drying, stimulating, highly nutritious herb, Nettles is most enjoyed as a food or as a tea …in my opinion. Nettles is mostly known to strengthen, nourish, and also drain.
Preparation: Throw some in a soup because it’s that nutritious and delicious! For teas, make an infusion (pour hot water over dried tea) and let sit for 10-15 minutes or all day if you really want more potency, but it might make you urinate often. If you are presenting with dry conditions, be cautious with too much of nettles. Half of a cup in a 1 Qt jar works well or 2-3 tbsp in 1-1.5 cup of water can work as a smaller alternative.
2. Cottonwood and Cleavers Salve
A great salve for lymph and minor cuts, aches, and skin irritation. Cleavers has a special affinity for the lymphatic system. It has a more gentle approach to supporting your lymph to gently filter out our daily doses of toxins which has a link to the skin. Applied externally, Cleavers is helpful in situations of psioriasis, wounds, burns, scabs and eczema. In this salve solution, it joins our friend Cottonwood whose resin are full of antimicrobial and soothing anti-inflammatory properties.
3. Rosemary syrup
Rosemary! The many wonders of the plant other than it’s fragrant smell and lovely application to meals, also has other potent uses. As a medicinal use, Rosemary is most valued to me for its stimulation to the circulatory system. Just as the sap in trees is running up from the roots to the leaves in Spring, we need to get our stagnant, winter blood pumping and what better way then to do it with the sweetness of raw, organic honey?
4. Oregon Grape vinegar
Get those digestive juices flowing! Oregon Grape is one of my revered bitter allies that works with the entire GI spectrum of our bodies, meaning from the mouth down to where it all exits. A bit in your salad dressing or a couple of drops before a meal to initiate our salivary glands into action can do just the trick for a delicious, happily accepted meal into your body. Oregon Grape is also anti-microbial for any of those unwanted bacterial infections so a little nip before a cold could be helpful.