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Sage: Salvia officinalis

By Granny Earth, ND

The word ‘Salvia’ comes from the Latin- salvare, meaning ‘to cure’. There was an old medieval saying that went like this: “Why should a man die, while Sage grows in his garden?’

Sage is a perennial plant (a shrub actually) that grows about 2 foot high. It’s considered to be a woody evergreen, with soft gray-green or purple leaves.

lmp sage 2

The delicate flowers are bluish-purple. Native to Mediterranean areas, Sage has been praised throughout history for its powers of longevity.

This one is no trouble to grow, it’s not invasive and will come back year after year. I have given many Sage plants away over the years- they thrive in sunny spots, making it through our cold winters just fine. Every year the plant gets bigger and more beautiful. Probably just one plant would do a family quite well for a whole year, medicinally.

Sage is good for many things: as a remedy for sore throats, poor digestion and irregular menstruation. It’s also used as a gently stimulating tonic, having a slightly warm, but bitter and astringent taste. It contains a volatile oil, Thujone, which is strongly antiseptic. It also has estrogenic actions, making it a good menopause remedy for hot flashes and helping the body adapt to hormonal changes. Thujone also helps to reduce breastmilk in nursing mothers.

lmp sage 1

Another Sage phytochemical, Rosmarinic acid, is a strong anti-inflammatory used for muscle spasms. It’s also an effective antimicrobial agent and is both a digestive tonic and stimulant, as well as a nerve tonic. It helps calm and stimulate the nervous system, depending on what the body needs. The combination of antiseptic, relaxing and astringent actions of Sage, makes it ideal for sore throats. For this, you’d gargle with it, in the form of a tea.

Being astringent, it will also help with mild diarrhea too. Astringent weeds tend to stop bleeding, so the sage leaf would be used topically for healing wounds, in the form of a poultice.

To make an infusion for use as a gargle: Take 1 teaspoon of dried leaves and infuse them in a cup of boiling water. Pour the boiling water over the leaves, cover and let steep for 15 minutes. Alternately, half the water may be replaced by cider vinegar. Use some to gargle with and drink the rest with a little honey, added for taste.

A note from Dr. Culpepper- ‘A decoction of the leaves provokes the urine, brings down women’s courses and expels the dead child.’

According to that old, wise man-I would recommend that Sage NOT be used by expectant mothers.

‘No matter where life leads me- I always have some Sage as a grounding friend, a constant companion. As a live plant, she gives me patience. As a tea, she cleanses my body. As a smudge, she clears my energy and as a friend-she says- ‘I love you!’. Your loyalty is beyond compare, thank you- dear, sweet, Miss Sage.’ –

Page 137 – 138 in ‘Do It Yourself Weed Medicine’.

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Yarrow: Year After Year She Comes Back – More Beautiful Than Ever!

By Granny Earth, ND

The name ‘Yarrow’ is a corruption of the Anglo-Saxon name for the plant –gearwe and the Dutch, yerw. It’s said that Achilles staunched the bleeding wounds of his fellow soldiers in the war with Troy, hence the name of the genus, Achillea. Its specific name-millefolium, is derived from the many segments of its foliage, hence its popular name, Milfoil and Thousand Weed. Yarrow is a perennial weed, growing wild, all around here in Pennsylvania. This wild variety has white flowers, grows in full sun and any type of soil, and up to 4 feet tall. (Other types of Yarrow are yellow).

If you’re planting Miss Yarrow in your garden, you’ll want to leave about one foot of space between each plant. She’s easy to grow and will return year after year for your health and sheer enjoyment!

The seeds germinate in 2 weeks at temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees. Light is necessary for seed germination, which takes only five to seven days.

A native to Europe and Asia, Yarrow’s foliage is ‘fern-like,’ very gentle and pleasing to the eye. She is drought resistant and will grow well in any type of soil. Blooming in June, you’ll find that if you pick the flowers, she’ll bloom again in September – giving you two harvests. The flowers dry nicely if hung upside down for a few weeks, providing you with a nice dried bouquet to admire all winter long.

Yarrow may be taken internally for a variety of uses:

  • fever and infectious diseases
  • stops internal bleeding
  • cleanses the liver, kidney and bladder
  • heals mucous membranes
  • stops diarrhea
  • heals lungs
  • aids circulation
  • balances the endocrine system

Externally, Yarrow can be used as an antiseptic for wounds, rashes and deep punctures. For these you would use as a poultice, or compress.

Yarrow exhibits diaphoretic, hypotensive, astringent, anti-inflammatory, diuretic, anti-microbial, bitter and hepatic (good for liver) properties. She has a high content of magnesium, calcium and phosphorus, which makes her a useful candidate for muscle spasms, depression, hyper-tension, muscle weakness, convulsions, confusion, personality changes, nausea, lack of coordination and gastrointestinal disorders.

Yarrow is one of the best diaphoretic herbs, and is a standard remedy for helping the body deal with common colds and fevers. She lowers blood pressure (with dilation of the peripheral vessels), stimulates digestion and tones up the blood vessels, too. Yarrow also helps regulate menstrual cycles, reduces heavy bleeding and eases menstrual pain. As a urinary antiseptic, she’s indicated for use with infections, such as cystitis.

Preparations of Yarrow flower have also been shown to stimulate gastric juices. This would account for her effectiveness as a tonic for improved digestion of foods, due to the presence of bitter substances in the blossoms.

The smell of Yarrow is also helpful in reducing stress and aids in restful sleep. I’ve never tried it, but I’ll just bet that adding some Yarrow flowers to your bath along with Violet would be an exceptional treat! I once planted ‘Golden Yarrow’ from seed and got a tremendous crop. Year after year, she comes back, bigger and more beau-tiful than ever! Cutting the flowers at mid-summer and drying them upside down, the beautiful golden color never changes. It stays that way all winter long . . . just a bit of color to help me endure the long and dreary winter months.

Plantain: One of the Most Common Weeds in the Whole World!

by Granny Earth, ND

There are 2 species of Plantain: A narrow-leaf called ‘Ribwort Plantain’ and a broad-leaf called ‘Plantain Major’. Plantain is one of the most common ‘weeds’ in the whole, wide world!

The broad-leaf is the one preferred, for making healing remedies and poultices.

Plantain is a perennial ‘weed’ that grows up to 10 inches in height, having a rosette of broad, deeply veined leaves and dense clusters of tiny green flowers (the seeds) on its ‘spikes’. You’re sure to find this ‘weed’ all around your garden and through-out your lawn if you don’t do that totally unthinkable thing and use a ‘weed killer’!

Plantain has a history of being called ‘the healing plant’, because down through the ages, it was used to treat wounds of ALL kinds. After making its way to the ‘New World’, Native Americans called it ‘English-man’s foot’, because it seemed to spring up everywhere, in the foot-steps of those white settlers.

Some of the properties in Plantain are: iridoids, flavonoids, tannins and mucilage. Aucubin (one of the iridoids) will increase excretion of uric acids from the body via the kidneys. So, you might want to try this for arthritic conditions. Andapigenin (a flavonoid) is an excellent anti-inflammatory–also good for arthritis. You can also depend on Plantain to stop blood flow of all wounds and to repair the damaged tissue. It can be used in place of Comfrey for treating bruises and broken bones, too. For these, you would make a poultice with the leaves.

Taken internally (as a tincture) Plantain is diuretic, expectorant, de-congesting. Also used to treat gastritis, peptic ulcers, diarrhea, dysentery, irritable bowel syndrome (I.B.S.), respiratory and urinary tract infections. I still make my Healing Salve, using Plantain- ‘Golden Gincture’ (See end of article.) It’s been known to ‘heal’ many conditions, through out the years, from skin wounds and muscle pain, to hemorrhoids and so much more!

In my opinion, one can never have too much Plantain on hand. He’s easy to pick, abundant and dries well, too. But, the most fun thing I’ve found to do with this weed, is to put him in my ‘weed soup’. Never heard of weed soup? Well, you have now!

First I put a big pot of ‘pure’ water on to boil. While this is getting hot, I chop up some onions, celery, garlic, parsley (or cilantro), celery seed and Himalayan Crystal Salt (for added minerals and taste) and add it all to the water. I wait till the pot’s boiling and turn it down to a simmer. Then I go outside and scout the yard for nice small, young Plantain plants. I dig them up carefully with my dandelion digger and wash them off. The roots are especially important for this adventure. I ever so gently and with great reverence, add the little plants (whole, not chopped) to the pot of simmering soup and let it simmer another ½ hour, or so. Friends are always impressed when I serve them my ‘weed soup.’ A real treat and so easy to make!Plantain, in all his beauty, looks like an exotic Chinese herb. (Page 119–120: Do It Yourself Weed Medicine.)

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