Mullein

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Hi, guys!

Ready to talk about one of my favorite plants in herbal medicine? MULLEIN!

I had posted about mint during a time where my son had some pretty bad congestion. I steeped mint tea for him, but also mixed it with some steeped mullein once the minor congestion turned into an awful cough.

Mullein on its own would have worked, but the mint tea helped with flavor. Mullein is far from the most bitter thing we’ve used (I find it rather mild), but he’s seven and he was sick, so adding something tasty with it made him happy.

This “herb” is actually a weed. There are several types you can find out in the wild, with similar benefits. What’s known as “common” mullein is what we have growing in our garden. It’s a type of mullein that is easy to buy from nurseries due to availability (though not every nursery carries this) and the type most commonly used for its medicinal properties. I have mine confined in a pot right now, but it can spread. I can easily spread these myself in an area and expect success. I can just as easily let nature take its course and expect to see some growing here and there (ground, adjacent pots, etc). I’m waiting for the day one accidentally makes it onto our hydroponic deck. It happened once with some random nightshade that decided to take residence where a bell pepper was supposed to grow. Nature always wins.

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Bronchial Tract

Mullein is one of my absolute favorites because it’s awesome for cold and flu seasons. Actually, it’s pretty phenomenal for most bronchial problems where the biggest need is to really knock out that congestion nad phlegm nastiness. Mullein is an anti-inflamatory, which can assist with inflammation in the chest, throat, and sinus areas. Many herbs and plants possess this characteristic. What makes mullein different from some is that it’s an expectorant. A medicine or herb that’s an expectorant helps with coughs. An expectorant helps get rid of what’s called sputum, which is a combination of phlegm and spit that you cough up when you’re sick. This is very beneficial because the more time phlegm is stuck in there, the higher risk you have of it turning into an infection. Another awesome fact is that mullein doesn’t have sedative properties. If you want relief, but still need to be on the go, this is a very helpful plant.

Nose and Throat

Mullein is anticatarrhal, which means it aids in the breaking up of mucous in the nose and throat. I’m going to be gross so bear with me. The way this works is that it makes mucous a thinner liquid so that it’s easier for your body to get rid of it. It’s gross, but it does work. You begin draining, and that’s pretty disgusting, but you know what Shrek says: “Better out than in!” This is a great trait to share with being an expectorant.

How to Use It

It’s most often steeped into a tea. I find the taste is not as overwhelming as other medicinal plants can be. When I get headaches from pressure and congestion I often steep this with white willow bark (DO NOT CONSUMER WHITE WILLOW BARK IF YOU CANNOT HAVE ASPIRIN; DO NOT GIVE TO CHILDREN). I find for mild cases of a cold I drain for about a day (without drowsiness unless I’m seriously ill) and then bounce back about the second or third day. Here and there while letting the cold run its course I’ll feel a little run down, but the discomfort from the colds ar greatly lessened and I notice the cold doesn’t often progress into something more severe, like an infection. There are those who smoke dried mullein leaves. Everything I have researched states it is quite effective. I have not tried it yet, but I will update the day that I do.

Interested in what else we’re growing for medicinal purposes? Visit this page.

Mint

Mint is an easy to grow herb that smells and tastes great. I commonly pull a leaf to chew when I’m outside. It’s a favorite here to use to steep as tea, even just for the flavor. There are several benefits to consuming and using mint, other than its pleasant taste.

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Nausea

We often hear of how ginger is used for any stomach issues, but mint does a pretty decent job in dealing with nausea and other digestive discomforts. I steep it with ginger when my stomach is mildly bothering me. It’s not an instant fix, but it does help.

Headaches

Another way mint aids us is with headaches. For me, just smelling some essential oil or a fresh cup of tea brings a great deal of comfort when I have a headache.

Congestion

Believe it or not, this herb’s cooling effects help with congestion. I like to drink it on its own as a tea, but if I’m severely ill, I will mix it with mullein (fantastic herb used to help clear out actual congestion).

If you have chronic issues with minor headaches or stomach problems, you can make a tincture out of mint to take on a consistent basis. Teas are great and I love tea, but tinctures can be a bit stronger if that’s what we need. There are other herbs to use for these problems, but in more severe cases. Mint is also great to use in conjunction with other stronger herbs to help with taste.

Cooling and Pain Relief

But, if I’m being honest, the coolest thing I love about mint are the different body butters, salves, and balms I can make with it. I have a muscle pain salve I make with cayenne. Cayenne does most of the hard work for this task, but the mint provides a nice cooling effect to counter the heat when applied to the skin. Cracked feet? A body butter with shea butter and mint help heal and soothe.

Tea

The most common method of using mint is as a tea. I made some with fresh leaves this week for my son’s congestion.

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First, you harvest this amazing creature.

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If you’re using fresh leaves you do need to chop it. There are many methods to this. This time around, I chose to put some in a small cup and simply cut it.

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I like using tea balls for steeping. They’re easy to use and store. I pack two of these full of fresh chopped mint.

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I boil water in an electric kettle. Once it is done and the bubbles from boiling disappear, I add the water to my favorite tea kettle with the tea balls. The kettle holds 1 liter of water. To get health benefits from the herb, you cannot just steep it for five minutes. You need to do a good 30-45 minutes.

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After that, enjoy!

Want to learn about other herbs we grow and use? Visit this page to learn more! We will be adding more posts about each herb, but if you see a herb you’re curious about and there’s no post, do not hesitate to get a hold of us!

Medicinal Herbs

Happy Monday, everyone! I want to start this post off saying my intent is in no way to discredit modern medicine. I understand and fully acknowledge its place and importance in society. Advances in medicine have been, in large, beneficial and I am not going to claim otherwise.

We do see however, a sort of abuse in the use of medicine. One of the most baffling for me is the overuse of antibiotics. If you have a viral illness, the antibiotic doesn’t really work anyway. Longterm overuse of the antibiotic can result in the development of resistant bacteria.

I always highly encourage others to do their own independent research, and I recommend this article to start with.

What makes the general public so quick to seek out those prescriptions are the discomforts experienced during colds and other viral illnesses. We especially don’t deal well as parents if our children become ill. We want fast solutions to our problems. The sad fact of the matter is, the best option is often to let the illness run its course.

So with this in mind, the goal we should have is not to grab that antibiotic, but to find ways to alleviate the symptoms as much as possible. There are several herbs that can help with symptoms and be of further benefit to your health in other areas.

I use colds as an example frequently, but truly there are herbs for other ailments like different types of pain, chronic issues like allergies, focusing, fatigue, sleep aids, digestion issues, etc.

We began a medicinal herb garden. Here is a small list of some of the herbs we have so far:

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This picture shows our spearmint, peppermint, and lemon balm. We have them growing in our hydroponics.

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Lavender, also growing in our hydroponics.

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Vicks plant. Bet you can’t guess what this smells like…

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Comfrey. This plant is amazing.

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Sage.

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Rue.

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Feverfew.

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Rosemary.

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Mugwort.

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Mullein.

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Yarrow.

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Calendula.

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Eucalyptus.

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Wormwood

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Passionflower.

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Valerian.

I dabble in homemade salves, tinctures, infused oils, and essential oils. I would like to do homemade goat’s milk soap in the future. There will be future posts on each individual herb in this garden, but don’t let that stop you from reaching out if you have a question about any of them. We will add posts as we add to our medicinal garden as well.

Anyone else here work with herbs?

Tried Something New

So, my AMAZING husband got me something pretty remarkable for Christmas. I know it’s March. I know I’m super late in trying my Christmas gift. Don’t judge me. It takes me a bit to research before stepping into the unknown. And it was well worth it!

Zach got me:

 

*drum roll*

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A still. No, I’m not making moonshine. Living as green and healthy as possible has led me to the adventures of making my own every day hygiene and beauty items. Not everything is homemade, but I’m getting there with my homemade charcoal toothpaste, salves, and deodorant (soon to be soap!). In this process I have started collecting a very large amount of essential oils. Already having started my own medicinal herb garden, Zach got me a copper still with the idea of making my own hydrosols and essential oils.

And it made a LOVELY centerpiece for my dining room table until Spring Break rolled around and I felt comfortable using it. And by comfortable, I mean my husband saw me cleaning nonstop and it drove him crazy so he set it up for me and told me to take a break and play.

I decided to harvest my mmugwort. Why? It’s my largest plant, grows back quickly, and I figured no one would really want to fight over it should it be successful.

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I packed everything in tightly and made the mistake of not chopping the herb (more on that later). For this to work, water is heated under where the herb is placed. The steam travels through a condenser (the outside filled with ice cold water being circulated with a pump).

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I monitored the temperature of the water nonstop. It was my first time using it and I was paranoid. I waited. And waited. I grew impatient within five minutes, waiting for the water temperature to rise.

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I finally smelled the mugwort. It was pungent. It was exciting. I felt witchy and accomplished having taking the essences of something I grew and capturing it in a mason jar. I had my very first hydrosol.

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The hydrosol is mixed with the essential oil. I recently did tea tree and chopped the leaves and got a very large amount of essential oil in comparison with the mugwort. I’m unsure if it is because of plant type differences or the chopping of the harvest, but my gut says it was the chopping. I am still waiting for the water and oil to completely separate naturally before removing the oil, so we’ll see. Even though, hydrosols have their uses in aromatherapy and homemade beauty products. They’re not as intense as essential oils. So far, I have enjoyed pouring spearmint hydrosol into my diffuser without worry.

The entire process took about two and a half hours. I didn’t want to burn anything or run out of water and not know. I know copper can be hardy, but I was constantly worried about the soldering holding everything together. When the hydrosol leaves the condenser, it is important to have the container collecting it lower than the still. It’s important that gravity be allowed to perform its job. The hydrosol must be stored in a dark glass container, or in a dark location. Mine is currently in the makeshift pantry we use under the stairs. My fingers are crossed for success, but I think I’ll find more success in my last minute, deal of the day I had with tea tree. I am looking forward to learning more about this art and putting it to use in our household. Anything unique to add to my herbal medicine closet is well worth the time and effort put into it.

Does anyone else out there have any experiences with working with stills, oils, or herbs? If so, please comment below and tell me all about it.