Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Mullien- A Multi-Purpose Herb

written by Lorri, edited by Molly

It's cold season. And cough season. I can hear it when I work, when I'm on the bus, when I'm shopping for groceries. But there is no need to suffer a dry cough, with a little mullien.

Mullien, also known as velvet plant because of its soft fuzzy leaves, is a relative of spinach. Mullien is a hairy biennial plant that has small yellow flowers on a tall stem, which shoots up from a large rosette of leaves. It grows in a wide variety of habitats and is very hearty. All parts of the plant can be used for different remedies, from the leaves, to the flowers, and down to the root, which makes it a valuable plant as well as a beautiful one to include in your herb garden.

It was thought that witches used lamps and candles with wicks of Mullein in their incantations.In Europe and Asia the power of driving away evil spirits was credited to mullein. Thought to be a sure safeguard against evil spirits and magic, and from the ancient classics, it was this plant which Ulysses took to protect himself against the wiles of Circe. (Wikipedia)

dried mullien leaves

Internally mullein leaves are used to treat the respiratory system for coughs, colds, bronchitis and asthma.  It tones the mucous membranes, reduces inflammation and stimulates the production of fluids thus helping with loosening and removal of phlegm in cases of congestion. I clearly remember patiently spooning teaspoons of tea infused with mullein into my son's mouth when he was suffering from  bronchitis and the result of a much looser, productive cough.

Mullein is not a pleasant tasting herb, so it needs to be cleverly disguised with something strong enough to overwhelm it.  Licorice works wonderfully and is also a beneficial herb for the respiratory system:

Favorite cough tea:

1 part coltsfoot
1 part licorice root
1 part mullein leaves

Infuse the coltsfoot, licorice & mullein in a cup of water.   Sweeten with a little honey if necessary for your taste buds. 
mullien flower 

When mullein flowers are infused in olive oil, it makes an excellent ear ache remedy.  It has a mucilage property when infused that helps to coat and soothe - thus it feels wonderful when the mullein oil is dropped into an aching ear. It also has sterols that stop inflammation and help with pain relief.  Do NOT drop it into the ear if you suspect the eardrum has burst!

Adding beeswax to this infused oil can make a wonderful balm for inflamed skin, including for diaper rash, or as a first aid balm. The leaf can also be used as a poultice when there is swelling and bruising. A wet leaf placed onto the bruised area and then wrapped up under an Ace bandage is a wonderful and easy remedy. A bruised leaf can also staunch the flow of blood, and is also helpful in killing microbes in the wound that can cause infections.

An extract of mullien root can be used for the nervous system in cases of localized nerve spasms or disorders, like Bell's Palsy. It is also known to reduce blood pressure and can be helpful in treating stress, anxiety, and depression. When mullien is combined with chickweed, comfrey, and marshmallow root in an herbal tincture, it can also help asthma sufferers

What can this herb NOT do? It has so many uses, and is relatively side-effect free when used properly and in moderation. It's definitely one to include in your collection of herbs, or grow if you are able. 



Thursday, January 5, 2012

Grandma's Butcher's Broom

Butcher's Broom berry
by Lorri Stoltz, edited by Molly Stoltz

My mom wanted to share an herb that my grandmother happened to love, and so I'm going to pass this post on to Lorri. Here's mom!

Grandma Stoltz believed in Butcher's Broom, which helped her to tame her varicose veins. It happens to run in the family (both sides!) and I'm sure many women have struggled with them as well. So, this post is dedicated to Grandma Stoltz, an avid gardener and folk herbalist of sorts.

Butcher's Broom

Butcher's Broom is a rather obscure herb. It is an evergreen bush in the lily family.  It has leaf-like branches with a spine and until the 20th century the dried plant could be used as a broom -thus the name Butchers Broom!  It appears to fit in nicely with Christmas decor as well. It has pretty red berries that contrast the green leaves.

This dual purpose herb and household item has a variety of properties. Researchers in France have determined that butcher's broom contains compounds closely resembling steroids which may account for its anti-inflammatory action. It’s properties help support circulation and can actually make veins stronger.  In a nutshell it reduces swelling, alleviates inflammation and increases circulation making it popular with varicose vein sufferers. It also helps edema of the legs, asthma, jaundice, and other ailments.

illustration of Butcher's Broom

Traces of coumarins can also be found in butcher's broom . Coumarins are used today as anticoagulants in drugs that" thin the blood. Butcher's broom also contains ruscogenin, neo-ruscogenin and flavonoids. 

IMPORTANT: Butchers broom should be used with caution for anyone who takes blood pressure medication.  It also should not be used by pregnant women. Butchers broom is also a mild diuretic, and may cause increased urinary output.

Hemorrhoid suffers also appreciate it’s ability to tighten dilated blood vessels thus it’s effective in the relief of those nasty anal pests. For soothing relief combine a butchers broom tincture with witch hazel, refrigerate till cool and apply with cotton balls to inflamed area.  

Here's a tea blend from Rosemary Gladstar!

Healthy Vein Tea

3 parts Hawthorn berries

3 parts Butchers Broom

2 parts Prickly Ash Bark

1 part Ginger

1/2 lemon peel

Mix these ingredients together.

Use 2 teaspoons in 1 cup of water. Prepare as a decoction for 15 minutes. Then remove from heat and add 1/2 t. yarrow and let steep an additional 15 minutes. Strain. Drink 3 times daily.

And, if you don't need any of these remedies, you can still make a broom!

References:  Prescription for Herbal Healing - Phyllis Balch, CNC