By Kathie Schmidt
Although this is not your average herb garden herb, this perennial herb is grown for many reasons! So, where shall I start? This is an herb that was grown and its roots ground and put into protective sachets. It is said that these sachets would gaurd against lightning stricking the house, and sprinkle a little around the floor area of two people arguing to induce calm. It was put into “love” pillows and hung above doors to make evil spells go away. It was known as the “all-heal” plant in medievil times. This is the herb that the PIED PIPER OF HAMELIN used to lure away the rats…cats love it, too!
Valerian’s real name is: Valerianaceae-valeriana officinalis It’s hairy root system is the part that is used for medicinal purposes, however, these days it grows in people’s garden mainly for the 4-5′ tall plant, with ferny-like leaves that sprout a head of pink or white flowers that have the fragrance of vanilla. These flowers are great in flower arrangements, but do not dry well.
If the plant is grown for the root’s medicinal purposes, the flowers are dead-headed so all the energy goes into the root. The seeds of this herb are not hardy. It is best to start this one with the division of clumps.
For medicinal purposes, this herb is used in a sedaitve manner. This herb should not be taken in strong doses for a long period of time-for you will see side effects like addiction. The constituents of this plant are an essentioal oil-.05 to 1 %, valepotriates, tannins, alkoloids, and bitter compounds. With these coponets, this herb is a sedative herb used for heart disorders, convulsions, depression, bringing down blood pressure, headaches, insomnia, and anxiety.
Recent scientific findings show that a cup of valerian tea relieves stress, and helps one to fall asleep easier. It is also better for one to use a cup of valerian tea over barbiturates and benzodiazepines, for by drinking the tea, you won’t wake up feeling drugged!
To make a valerian tea, it is important to make a cold infusion instead of a hot one, because valerian looses some of its properties when heated. Pour 8 oz. of cold water over 1 level teaspoon of chopped root. Let set overnight. Drink 2-3 cups of tea per day, warming it a bit if you prefer. A cup of tea about 45 minutes before bedtime will help induce sleep. It is a good aromatheraphy herb for the bath as well!
The White Willow has been well known for thousands of years for its medicinal value. The White Willow can grow up to 75 feet tall. The very popular pain reliever Aspirin © is a derivitive of the White Willow. The active ingredient in the formerly noted pain reliever is Salicylic Acid. This is also found in the human body after having ingested any of the medicinal Willows. The Willow’s active ingredient is called Salicin, which is what is converted to Salicylic Acid when taken inwardly.
The White Willow has been known to reduce inflamation, to treat articular rheumatism, help with internal bleeding, and it is also good for heartburn and stomach problems. The White Willow helps with headaches, minor aches and pains, as well as arthritis.
The medicinal part of the Willow tree is the bark. There are a few different ways to prepare it. First, it is best to collect the bark in Springtime. One preparation option would be to boil the bark for at least 20 minutes, then either take internally or as a poultice. A decoction can be made by soaking up to three teaspoons of bark in one cup of cold water for up to five hours, and then boil down to a potent formula. To intake this you should take one cup unsweetend, no more than one a day. A decoction of Willow can be used to help with mouth problems, ie. you can gargle with it to help with inflamations of the gums and tonsils. A decoction can also be used externally for sores, burns, and cuts. To make a cold extract, soak one teaspoon of bark in one cup of cold water for up to ten hours and strain. You can make a powder by taking one to one and one-half teaspoons, three times a day. Everything I’ve read about intaking a hot Willow drink says that it is important that it is taken in large gulps, not small sips.
Willow (Sal0ix spp. Salicaceae)
There are over 500 different types of Willow trees, ranging from shrub size to over 75 feet tall, but only a handful are utilized for their medicinal value. These include the White Willow, the Black Willow, the Purple Willow, and the Sallow. “Knock on wood” evolved from the phrase “Knock on Willow”, due to it’s protective powers in folklore. The Willow is a very easy tree to plant. Just take leafless, long branches and root them in moist soil. Willows don’t take well to transplanting. They choose where they want to live, and if they can’t live there, they won’t live anywhere else. If you do decide to attempt to transplant them, you must first prune them considerably. Willows flower in mid-spring.
In Ireland, harps were prodominately made out of Willow because the soul of the Willow tree was thought of as musical. The Willow promotes healing, health, protection, and love. Its planet is the Moon, its element is water. It is best to use Willow for moon magic and wishing magic. It has a feminine gender. Some folk names used for the Willow are the “Tree of Enchantment”, “Osier”, and “Sough Tree”. The Willow, in some traditions, have dieties which correspond to it. Some are Artemis, Ceres, Hecate, Persephone, Circe, Hera, Mercury, Belili, and many others. Willow wands are normally used in healing rituals. The branches are used to bind home made brooms. Planting a Willow by a spring or river will protect your home.
Warning: Pregnant women should not use asprin or any derative due to links with birth defects. Do not take while using any other blood thinners. May reduce blood sugar.