Archive for August, 2013

True Heart Tea

Posted on August 23, 2013. Filed under: Herb(s) of the Week, Herbal Medicine Making, Plant Friends, Trees | Tags: , |

Sometimes in the flurry of daily life your heart can take a beating and become hidden away.   That’s when that happens,  I try to re-connect to my true heart via the magic of Hawthorn, Linden and Rose as a tea (with just a touch of Licorice root.)

True Heart Blend (Image by Michael Blackmore - Mad Crow Herbalism)

True Heart Blend (Image by Michael Blackmore – Mad Crow Herbalism)

Linden -aka Lime, Basswood, Bee Tree (Tilia spp.)  Family: Linden

Linden is a pretty magical tree in of itself.  One of my favorite bits of folklore says that if you fall asleep under a Linden tree you will be whisked off to fairyland.  To be honest, as much as I’ve tried to replicate that, I still always awake where I started.  Dangnabit!

Although not classified as a Nervine, in its heart Linden is a Nervine. I think of it as particularly helpful for generally calming and relaxing the emotional nervous system and addressing a host of physical ailments whose underlying cause is emotional. Insomnia, IBS, headaches, indigestion and high blood pressure whose basis is more emotional are often best dealt with by Linden.

In this blend I think of it as having a special affinity for the emotional heart – soothing and gently unwinding the emotional knotting of it.

Hawthorn (Crataegus spp.) Family: Rosaceae

One of its other names in England is the May tree because it tends to flower in May.  I like to think of it as adding “Spring/spring” to the heart.   It is also known as the “father of the heart” which speaks to its profound affinity to the heart.

It is the classic herbalist heart remedy and is great for almost every heart and circulatory issue. It strengthens the heart and its antioxidants components help protect the heart from damage. It relaxes the blood vessels and thus improves the blood circulation and circulation to the heart. It generally works in a fairly gentle and supportive way. Its full effect builds slowly so it works best over long periods of time. While not only a classic physical heart tonic it can be a great balm for the emotional heart as well and is almost nervine like in its ability to support in cases of nervous tension and stress.

So I place it in this blend for its healing of the physical heart but also for its ability to align in a healing way to the emotional heart as well.

Rose Family Rosaceae

There’s a saying that “Roses are good for the skin and the soul” and I think that is powerfully true.   While herbally they have been used for their anti-inflammatory properties and ability to help with everything from headaches to sore throat as well as in skin care.  Which is just a way to show off their ability to soothe in general.

There is a particular uplifting quality to ones spirit with Rose is involved, which makes it a great addition to this blend for the more spiritual aspects of the heart.

Finally, I usually add a touch of Licorice root to the blend to harmonize the formula as well as for the touch of sweetness it adds which always help sweeten not only the tea but one’s mood and life.

That’s my favorite True Heart Blend for keeping you “young at heart.”

Young at Heart – Jimmy Durante

Yes, I’ve been on a bit of Jimmy Durante kick lately.  🙂

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Make Someone Happy

Posted on August 16, 2013. Filed under: Healing, Random Musings, Spiritual Practice |

I was thinking about happiness,  spirituality, herbalism, yoga and living in general recently.  Call it a confluence of thought leading to an a-ha moment.

English: Emotions associated with happiness

English: Emotions associated with happiness (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Part of it came when I was flipping through a couple of volumes of an annual anthology of best spiritual writing and I was struck by something.   Not one of the essays was about helping or even dealing with other people.  They were all about turning in or at times about connecting with nature.  Nothing wrong with that but I was bothered by how not one essay was about spirituality and helping others.

Then I was thinking about a friend whom I would call a self-help addict.  She was always a bit lonely and unhappy, always broke and chronically “busy” running to seminars about improving herself and changing her life as well as  buying books about the topic – while never truly connecting with others or actually seeming to find her own happiness since she was so busy in quest of it.    I could only help but think how much her fuller and richer (in many senses of the word) her life would have been if she channeled that money and time away from her “self-help” and into connection with others.

In herbalism, one of the most popular requests is about herbs to help with emotional issues that really could be said to stem from being lonely and/or unhappy.   And folks go to yoga to often work on themselves in similar ways as well.

While I do think these are valuable tools and great parts of one’s life, I look at some folks using them and think how they are still so aimed just at themselves and change eludes them.

Sometimes, I think when you focus too much energy on yourself and changing yourself it becomes almost like a black hole continually sucking your time and energy inward allowing little light to emerge.  There has to be a balance of energy connecting you out and to others. And, as you do, you get positive energy back from them as well.  And it becomes a wider web of support and connection supporting you rather than a hole growing ever deeper.

Practicing acts of kindness and connection to others is powerful and profound and should be a part of one’s “self-improvement”, spirituality, yoga and other practices.

I think parents can touch upon that magic with their children (and many folks can with the animals in their lives as well) which is of course why it is so easy to spoil them too. 🙂

In other words, make someone happy.

There’s actually a lot of wisdom in that song, which is why I’ve always been fond of it.

So, of course, it is good to be self-aware and work toward changing yourself though whatever modality you are drawn to but try to balance it with energy toward being kind, helping and connecting to others as well.  For that is an important part of your practice and growth as well.

Perhaps in finding the balance of that is where happiness can be found.  🙂

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Tulsi, I just have to sing about it…

Posted on August 9, 2013. Filed under: Herb(s) of the Week | Tags: |

Ah yes, I’ve been enjoying me some fresh Tulsi tea a whole lot lately and it’s been something to sing about.

Tulsi Flower

Tulsi Flower (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tulsi, aka Holy Basil, (Ocimum sanctum/Ocimum tenuiflorum)  Family:  Lamiaceae

I have to say the time I’ve spent with Tulsi has been eye opening.   Sometimes you can know about a plant but haven’t quite discovered its real magic yet.    Like the difference between knowledge and the beginning of true wisdom.

Typical Information

Here are some of the bits of Tulsi information….

In typical  herby speak it is considered to be: diaphoretic, febrifuge, nervine, antispasmodic, antibacterial,  analgesic, adaptogenic and antioxidant

Toning down the polysyllabic addiction problem some herbalists have you can think of it as by what it has been seen as traditionally:

  • Helping with stress
  • Improving memory and concentration
  • Good for respiratory problems
  • Aiding with balancing blood sugar levels and cholesterol
  • Easing IBS and gastrointestinal issues
  • Soothing minor aches and pains including headaches
  • Helping fight infections and such
  • Potentially lowering blood pressure

You can also use the juice externally for insect stings and skin diseases as well as rashes and fungal problems.    And as ear drops for ear infections.

(Which is actually pretty similar to a lot of the Mint family and especially many of the herbs we think of as culinary, or Italian seasonings, like Basil proper, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme for some examples.)

But Tulsi special magic is something more complex…

The Spiritual Side of Tulsi

In Ayurveda, it is not just thought of as an herb aimed at improving physical health and vitality but also valued for aura cleaning and helping to balance the chakras.  It is said to be sacred to Vishnu and often used in daily prayers.

As well as considered to be a potent dream herb to increase the vividness of dreams as well as your recall of them.   Which is not often mentioned as such but I’d consider it a nice shamanistic dreaming aid myself.

Three are One

Recently, I saw some folks online discussing how they had used Tulsi to aid with emotional issues but how they hadn’t really appreciated it for the ability to help with more physical problems (like insomnia in that case) until recently and how impressed they were by it.

That is one of the interesting things about herbalism is how different plants have different strengths and affinities.  Not only for particular physical aspects but in a more broader philosophic sense of  physically, emotionally and/or spiritually supportive and healing.

And that is where I had the realization of what it is that made Tulsi special once I truly got it and connected to it.   There may be many herbs better at any one of those aspects, but I find Tulsi to be very evenly balanced and supportive across all three.  The physical, spiritual and emotional aspects are all connected powerfully in this plant.

For example, it is an important part of a blend I use in retuning my nervous system.  You know how when life seeming gets out of way and you react too strongly to simple things?  I see that as times when you need to re-tune a bit and I use a blend of Passionflower (classic Nervine), Tulsi (to harmonize and apply cross the three aspects of physical, emotional and spiritual self), Eleuthero (classic Adaptogen)  and Licorice (another Adaptogen and formula harmonize) that call Harmonizer Blend.   Then I have  a cup a couple of times of day, each day until I feel more settled.

It’s that subtle cross support of three aspects in one herb which makes Tulsi such a marvel.

And, of course, something to sing about…. 😉

“Tulsi” (to the tune of Maria from West Side Story and with apologies to Stephen Sondheim, Leonard Bernstein, et. al.)

“I’ve just drank a tea made from Tulsi,
And suddenly I’ve found
How wonderful a sound
Can be!
Tulsi!
Say it loud and there’s music playing,
Say it soft and it’s almost like praying. ”

Tulsi, love ya babe!

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