Category Archives: Plants

Catnip: Kitty crack, kiddo calmer

Catnip: Nepeta cataria

Catnip is an herb in the mint family commonly used to make cats twitchy and insane. Every time I have had a bag of catnip in my herb stash not properly stored in an airtight container, my cats have completely annihilated it and gone on a crazy kitty catnip binge that rivaled WWI. Cats have receptors for the chemical nepetalactone that enhance emotion that people do not have, which is why we do not roll around in piles of the stuff making a mess all across the house. Fair warning, cats will destroy the live plants as well, so protecting your plant if your home is around cats may be something to consider when growing it.

Catnip is commonly used with humans to treat colic, headache, toothache, colds, and spasms. It is a calming nervous tonic and USUALLY will help a person fall asleep. Some people might have an opposite effect so if you are trying it as a calming agent, try it the first time during the day to see if it calms you so you are not accidentally up all night.

It is effective for treating anxiety, insomnia, and nervousness, and is also great for easing migraine headaches, stomach complaints, and also reduces swelling associated with arthritis, hemorrhoids, and soft tissue injuries.

An oil infusion of catnip is useful in baths and good for massages for children suffering from measles, chickenpox, whooping cough, colic, fevers, hives, insomnia and hyperactivity.

It is one of the best herbs you can find to use with children because of its gentle calming nature.

I add catnip to my daughter’s chamomile tea when she is teething. The combination helps alleviate pain and calm her so she can sleep. It also adds a slight minty flavor which is pleasant. I keep a sippy cup with the tea in her crib at night for when she wakes up. I also add it to a teething glycerite I make for her, and add it to my husband’s sleepy time tea.

You can see why this wonderful, gentle herb has made it into my “medicine cabinet“. How do you use Catnip in your home?

Shared on Wildcrafting Wednesday, and Simple Living Wednesday.

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Wellness Wednesday: Calendula

Calendula officinalis – Also known as marigold or pot marigold.

Calendula’s bright flowers range in color from yellow to a bright orange. It has widely spaced toothy leaves and grows to a height of about 18 inches. Be sure not to confuse this bushy, aromatic annual with African or French Marigold.

It is a readily self seeding annual. Plant in direct sun with well drained soil with moderate water. Pick flower heads daily to encourage more growth. Calendula will repel eelworm in the garden and is a good companion plant for beans, lettuce, potatoes, roses and tomatoes.

Calendula is a great soothing herb for the skin. I use it in a lot of my salves, oil and skin care recipes to sooth and calm skin redness, rash, and irritation. It is good to treat cuts, burns, lacerations, bruises, diaper rash, sprains and inflammation. It promotes rapid healing and helps minimize scarring.

Calendula is great in a poultice for sore nipples, ulcers, sprains and varicose veins.

It is also a very good lymphatic herb that helps thin and drain lymph that sometimes gets clogged and congested.  My husband had very thick lymph around his neck and ears that was causing ear issues and with massage, and Calendula tea, his lymph drainage improved and so did his ear problems. It also boosts immunity by increasing lymphatic drainage. Note that Calendula tea will make you pee a lot, and this is a good thing. Just be sure to drink plenty of water with it to help aid the body in the clearing of toxins from the body.

I hope you can see why this wonderful and beautiful herb is always at hand in my herbal “Medicine Cabinet“.

How do you use Calendula?

 

Shared on Wildcrafting Wednesday.

Lakeside chamomile

So we went to estes park two weekends ago to get out of the heat and go for a hike. As things turned out our car had some issues (just the fuel injector thankfully) and we spent some time resolving that issue instead of hiking. So since we were already there we decided to go for a walk around the lake. We took the short 3.8 mile path and it was a nice, beautiful, relaxing walk.

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I have started learning to identify herbs out in the wild and don’t usually pick anything unless I know exactly what it is. I got a handy dandy little chart last week from borders to help me better identify native Colorado plants. This plant though I can identify pretty much anywhere. Chamomile.

German Chamomile

We all know chamomile, or at least should. It is a wonderful calming,  cooling herb. People use it to sleep, soothe and relax, reduce redness and inflamation, help resolve bloating, stomach pain and nausia. Other benefits include soothing colds, helping wounds or abscesses heal, reducing gum inflammation, treating skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema, and treating ulcerative colitis. Chamomile is also gentle enough to be taken to treat children’s maladies like chicken pox, diaper rash, and colic. Generally, chamomile is taken as soon as symptoms manifest themselves.

So as we were starting along the lake path I see large patches of Chamomile growing along the walking path. I am not sure if you know this, because I sure didn’t until this spring, but chamomile is a weed. It will grow anywhere and it loves disturbed soil. Our back yard in our house in Spokane is full of the stuff instead of grass. I promise you that just happened and had nothing to do with anything we might have done!

So lots of chamomile all down the path and I decide to pick some. I end up getting a good 4 handfuls of full chamomile plants before we were done with our walk and I hardly made a dent in the chamomile patches.

As you may know one of the tenants in wild crafting is  you leave enough of the plant to leave seeds for the next generation to grow next year. We avoid exhausting our resources now so that they are available for us again next season. I know a novel concept but it seems to work when our greedy human brains don’t get in the way.

So why, you ask, did I pick the whole chamomile plant instead of just the flowers for the tea? I picked the whole plant so that I could dry the plant and get the flowers for the tea, then I will make an oil infusion with the rest of the plant for use in skin care recipes. I will also probably go back, get some more fresh plants and make a quarter bottle of vodka and quarter bottle of vinegar (separately not together) worth of chamomile tincture for use later.

What do you like to use chamomile for?