Lately I’ve been thinking about herbs in a slightly different way. In the beginning of my herbal adventures, I was eager to get to know all the different plants, and furiously made a profusion of tinctures, oils, glycerides and the like. This is common for beginning herbalists. After a while, I realized that I had a larger apothecary than I needed. As time passed and glycerides and oils had to be tossed because they were losing potency, I began to get a better understanding of what my personal needs were, and felt guilty for taking more plants than I used.
Plants give us everything. I’ve said it before and I will say it again: they give us oxygen, food, medicine, and ask for nothing in return except our carbon dioxide and maybe the hope that we won’t destroy this planet we share. When I realized I was taking more than I used, I began to make conscious choices about what to stock, and how much. More recently I’ve gotten even more specific, identifying those herbs that are “must haves” for me – the “Go To” plant allies which, season to season, I always have on hand. I consider them my personal arsenal. Here are a few:
There is never a time when I don’t have beautiful yarrow in my apothecary. I absolutely love this herb and admire its versatility and strength. The dried herb in tea form is wonderful to ease fevers and severe colds. The infused oil is a must have ingredient for healing salves. I also like to use the infused oil with castor oil packs to heal deep bruising or severe menstrual cramping. The tincture is a without parallel if you’re trying to heal a severe injury and need any stagnant blood to break up and move out. It is also the premiere herb for treating fibroids. The essential oil smells heavenly, is one of the beautiful “blue” oils and is wonderful as part of a PMS remedy. Cautionary note: avoid while pregnant. Yarrow flower essence is a strengthener of the auric field and for those who are easily hurt by others.
Another must have for me is St. John’s Wort, specifically it’s beautiful cranberry-colored oil. Every year I make a fresh batch of this wonderful oil so that it’s readily available for use. Its analgesic properties are legendary. This beloved plant ally is a staple of my arthritis remedies/salves.When getting a massage, I always make an aromatherapy blend with St. John’s Wort oil as the carrier and ask the massage therapist to use it during my session. You can almost feel the heat of the sun warming the affected area when using this amazing plant in oil form. The flower essence is wonderful for those afflicted with Seasonal Affective Disorder. Another cautionary note: if you are taking anti-depressants, stick with St. John’s Wort flower essence rather than tincture, as the tincture is contra-indicated.