Summer Hedgerow Herbal Healers
Today is the 2nd of August, the energy of the New Black Moon in Leo and Lughnasadgh (http://www.aurorastar.co.uk/2019/07/the-festival-of-lughnasadh ) are still evident. On my walk to the woods this morning the grass was heavy with dew, the berries are starting to swell and ripen, signs that the wheel is turning and Autumn will soon be upon us are apparent now!
As well as this time of year being a time for gratitude, it is also a time for reflection. I am drawn to thinking about how grateful I was for the herbs I was able to forage over the last few weeks, Linden blossom (Tilia) , Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria), Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) and Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) that I am still harvesting now! – this summer has been abundant. All of these hedgerow herbs can be found everywhere, woods, verges, gardens, parks, and they are all available to us to forage and make health giving medicines for ourselves.*
Linden Blossom (Tilia)
More commonly known as the Lime Tree, the Linden Blossom tree has nothing to do with the fruit tree other than the vibrant colour of its leaves in the early summer. The perfect remedy for stress, tension and overwork, Linden tea helps us to relax and sleep well. It is drunk widely across the continent, where people appreciate its health giving properties. Linden can boost the immune system, soothes irritation and protects the heart by reducing cholesterol levels and relaxing the arteries.
The season is very short, and the flowers are best harvested as soon as you see them appear. Bees and pollinating insects are attracted from far and wide as they too know how beneficial it is. Once you become aware of these beautiful and majestic trees you will see them everywhere in early summer, and the scent of them is delicious.
As with the Elderflower, the tea of the Linden, if drunk hot, will “break a fever”, in the most natural way, but if drunk cold, it is really cooling and useful for treating hot flushes.
Linden is also warming and soothing for the digestive system, calming gripey colic pains and menstrual cramps.
Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria)
Following hot on the heels of Linden is Meadowsweet, queen of the meadow. An ancient sacred herb, prized by the Druids and Celts, it is steeped in legend and fairy lore.
The tiny billowy white flowers are abundant through the hedgerows, fields and ditches, although are getting less common now due to the use of pesticides. The smell is heavy and distinctive, some people loving it, but some find it too overpowering.
Used as a tea, the Celtic peoples used it for treating fevers, headaches, and pain. It was strewn about the floors of dwellings because it masked the smell of the animals, and kept the flies at bay.
In modern times it is linked to the invention of aspirin in the 19th century, as it contains salicylic acid, which forms the pain killing ingredient of aspirin. However, the chemical synthesised version, it can cause heartburn and stomach problems, but when used as the whole natural plant, meadowsweet contains pain killing ingredients as well as stomach soothing ones! Another plant that can soothe the body as well as the mind, when drunk as a tea it can promote a restful sleep.
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
Yarrow, or milfoil, is a leading hedgerow medicine plant. It is one of the most ancient and favoured herbs for wounds and fever! It tones the blood vessels, moves stagnant blood, stops bleeding and lowers blood pressure! The legendary Achilles used Yarrow as a field dressing for his soldiers wounds in the Trojan war, with the plant being named after him!
It also lowers fever and has health benefits all round for the body and digestion. It can even be used as an insect repellent!! It is beneficial for a wide range of menstrual problems, and, like Linden and Elderflower, if taken as a hot tea will induce sweating and reduce fevers, taken at the beginning of flu it is an excellent way to reduce the fever and aches and pains associated with.
However, as much as Yarrow was known as a “cure all”, some cautions must be noted – Yarrow has a stimulating effect on the uterus, and can cause uterine contractions, so is best avoided during pregnancy. Prolonged use can cause photosensitivity and allergic rashes!
Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris)
Also known as Cronewort, Mugwort is known as the “mother of all herbs”. Associated with the moon and the goddess of the moon, Artemis, patron of women, especially at critical phases of their lives …onset of puberty, childbirth, and the menopause, hence the name Artemesia vulgaris, vulgaris meaning “of the people”/ common/abundant. All over the world it is recognised in treating female reproductive disorders. Mugwort had a deep ancestral connection to crone wisdom and feminine divine intelligence!
It eases stress and anxiety, aids lucid dreaming, promoting deep sleep. It calms the digestive system, can help rid the system of worms, and is even used for flavouring beer!
It also makes and excellent smudging stick when dried, dispelling midges, and other biting insects, clearing negative energy and killing airborne bacteria.
Using meditation is an excellent way to connect with herbs and reach them on a deeper level. http://www.aurorastar.co.uk/meditation-classes.
These are only a few of the uses of these amazing green blessings that Mother Earth has gifted us – there are many many more uses to each of them. The information I have listed here is just a tiny example of the easy ways that these herbs can be used, gently in our lives. Once you start looking, and opening your eyes to the wonderous healing plants that are around us, it will open up a whole new world, one where we can deepen our connection with Nature and the planet , and bring a little more peace, harmony, and healing into our lives.
The content in this article is not intended as a medical reference but as a source of information.
Before trying any herbal remedy the reader is recommended to try a small quantity first to establish whether there are any adverse or allergic reactions to the herb.
Please remember that although all the herbs I use are known for being gentle, when you are using herbs and plants for their medicinal properties, they are just that – ‘medicinal’. If you wish to take a herbal remedy with prescribed medicines, you should talk to a pharmacist or your GP first – treat all herbal remedies with respect. Consult a qualified herbalist if unsure.
Neither the author nor the publisher can be held responsible for any adverse reactions to the recommendations in this article. The use of any herb or derivative is entirely at the reader’s own risk.