Motherwort

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Motherwort is a cool and dry bitter tonic. It’s part of the mint family and it’s used frequently for indigestion and to aid the body in complete digestion. It likes open disturbed land and is very easy to grow and reseeds itself.

Antispasmodic

A herb with antispasmodic actions means it can aid in muscle spasms. This can also be useful for digestive issues since this motherwort already has actions that aid in digestion.

Emmenagogue

Along with its antispasmodic properties, motherwort also has emmenagogue properties. This aids in uterine cramping during menstruation and can help induce a cycle (especially helpful if you’re irregular).

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Hypotensive

Motherwort is hypotensive, which means it can aid in lowering blood pressure.

Nervine, Sedative and Heart Tonic

One of the most fascinating bits of information found on motherwort is that it’s a nervine. It’s extremely helpful for anxiety that leads to heart palpitations as it’s also a heart tonic. Motherwort can be used to increase blood flow through the coronary artery and improve microcirculation throughout the body. Motherwort can stabilize heart rate and prevent blood platelet agglutination (without thinning the blood). Motherwort can also be used for angina (chest pain caused by reduced blood flow to the heart).

Safety

Motherwort should not be taken by pregnant women or people taking cardiac medications.

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Gentian Root

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Gentian root is a strong bitter and serves in aid for quite a list of digestive ailments; dyspepsia, bloating, indigestion, heartburn, constipation, loss of appetite, nausea, gas, anorexia, and inflammatory bowel disease. Gentian root contains the chemical glycosilated iridoids. This chemical contributes to its bitter taste and properties and its strength is what aids in this root’s amazing digestive properties. Up to 10% of the root’s weight can contain this chemical. If harvesting, do so during the spring time to get the most of its bitter properties.

Gentian has also been used to rid the intestines of parasites.

The root can also be used in colds with fevers where throat relief is needed. It can also be added in blends used for muscle spasms and headaches.

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The herb can be used topically for wound treatment.

Gentian root can also assist with kidney health. It helps eliminate harmful substances due to its antiseptic properties.

Gentian has a long list of uses, which makes it a great addition to many blends geared toward many different ailments. I absolutely love its versatility.

Do you use gentian root? What are your favorite blends and uses?

Many gentian species are threatened and should not be wild harvested. Although this herb can be decocted into a tea, many people prefer a tincture due to its taste.

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Want to see what herbs we have in our garden? Take a look here.

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Rosemary

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This is a very popular herb to grow for culinary purposes. It’s great with several chicken dishes. It’s a strong taste and the smell is exhilarating.

It has several benefits other than culinary though.

Rosemary is often used for colds and sore throats. Because of its bitter taste, it can also be used as a tea 15-20 minutes before eating to aid in digestion. I don’t personally use rosemary by itself when I have a cold. I normally mix it with other herbs with similar and stronger benefits. The smell itself is very comforting and anything to boost morale when you’re ill is important as well. Illnesses are easier to get through if your spirit is at least a little less than foul.

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Rosemary is awesome for hair. In our house, our shampoos normally have SOME rosemary in it, along with tea tree. Rosemary helps with an itchy scalp and improves circulation. This is great for hair follicles because the blood supply is needed to actually keep the hair not only healthy, but keep the hair period. If there’s not enough blood there, the hair will fall out. It also aids in premature greying. I have personally been growing grey since I was 23. Before I began actually dying my whole head I did use several herbal rinses that included rosemary. It is effective. I stopped because I was blond and wanted to be a redhead. I use henna for that, but that’s another topic.

Its abilities on memory are what got me hooked on rosemary though (other than the amazing flavor). I’m a teacher and I have this going in my diffuser during longer than 10 minute lectures.

And bees love the blooms. I love providing enough plants for our bees. It’s so easy to grow and you can easily clip a branch or two to share with a friend.

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Mugwort

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Mugwort is the herb of October. Okay, well maybe not the only herb, but it is pretty representative of this time of year. The name alone conjures up images of black cats, cauldrons, and the witch’s broom.

Funny enough, mugwort is often boasted for its spiritual use. There are other natural remedy properties of this herb that we’ll cover later, but since it’s October, let’s go ahead and take a look at one of the biggest reasons why people use mugwort.

Lucid Dreaming

Mugwort is often used for sleep, but it also aids in lucid dreaming. Your dreams can be very vivid and your dream recall may improve when taking this herb. I have also heard from people who have taken it that it can increase nightmares. This has not happened to me, but everyone is different. For the purpose of lucid dreams, many take it as a tea. Some do choose to either smoke it or burn it as an incense. Thujone is found in mugwort, which is why dreaming may be effected. Thujone is also toxic in large amounts, so use with caution.

Emmenagogue

Mugwort can act as an emmenagogue. This action generally aids women in their menstrual cycles, focusing on the pain caused by a cycle, or help start a cycle (particularly useful if you’re irregular). As such, this should also be avoided when pregnant because it can  unsafely abort a pregnancy. If a pregnancy does need to be aborted, seek medical advice. At home remedies for this are dangerous. However,  using this herb right after birth can be useful in the expulsion of afterbirth. I wouldn’t necessarily use unless entirely needed as you really shouldn’t be taking this if you’re breastfeeding (due to thujone).

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Bitter

Mugwort is bitter, so once you begin consuming it, the vagus nerve is triggered to begin the digestive process. Taking bitters about 20 minutes before eating, aids in digestion and can help prevent things like indigestion.

Antispasmodic

Mugwort is an antispasmodic and the herb can be infused into baths for muscle aches and pains.

Digestive Issues

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Spirituality aside, mugwort has shown quite a bit of promise for our digestive systems. Along with the benefit of being a bitter herb, mugwort has shown to aid in stomach pain and poor appetite.

Depression

Mugwort has milt properties to aid with depression. There are many herbs that aid in depression, but mugwort is best recommended when one of the side effects of depression is a loss of appetite.

Parasites

Related to wormwood, mugwort can also aid in ridding the system of parasites, including tapeworm.

Safety

Again, this herb has the potential to have negative effects if used continuously or in high doses. Consult with a doctor or herbalist if this is a herb you want to use regularly. Some even recommend taking a break from mugwort if used for an entire week. I don’t personally use this herb frequently. I’m not often plagued with insomnia, but when I am I generally turn to other herbs. I have been lucid dreaming with ease since I was a child so I don’t use the herb even for that. I generally use it, in tea or incense form, in October. What can I say? When I think of October and autumn, I think of mugwort.

I will say that it does help me in dream recall. My dreams are already vivid so I don’t think it really helps me with that, but I do remember a great deal more about my dreams when taking mugwort. It really is just a cool herb to have around, even just because of its mythical history. This herb is associated with the goddess Artemis (Diana for Roman mythology) who, coincidentally enough, had a pretty large focus on women, especially during childbirth. Which is funny. Because she’s a virgin. Although there’s debate about that, saying that the “virginity” aspect of her is that she belonged to herself and no man, but still took lovers. But that’s straying a bit too far off topic. If you’re curious, Google it. It actually is an interesting mini research project if you’re into that sort of thing.

So mugwort is especially useful for digestive issues, menstrual cycles, and lucid dreaming. Do you use this herb? Have you heard of it before? How do you prefer to use it?

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Basil

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Fresh tomato and mozzarella salad. That was my original reason for growing basil in my garden. I knew of the health benefits growing up, but my taste won over my logical sense in this case. Nevertheless, basil actually does have benefits other than culinary.

Vitamin A

This herb has a surprising amount of Vitamin A in it. Which is funny, because we don’t often think about vitamins and minerals when it comes to herbs. Vitamin A is important because it regulates gene activity. It is also great for eyesight.

Vitamin K

Vitamin K activates certain proteins needed for tissue growth (think cartilage, bone, stomach, and lung tissue). Vitamin K also helps in the forming of blood clots.

Antibacterial

Basil is antibacterial, but like anything, it has a special group of bacteria it’s most effective in attacking. The oils found in basil can restrict the growth of: listeria, staphylococcus, and E. coli.

Anti-Inflammatory

Basil can offer relief from inflammation caused by arthritis.

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Blemishes

Basil can actually help erase blemishes from the skin. How? It attacks bacteria induced acne. You can steep the basil and then let the water cool to room temperature. Then swab it on with a cotton ball.

So, that’s basil. We eat it very frequently because it is delicious, but it does have some medicinal properties we can find useful. And why not use it for skincare if you’re already growing it in the garden? How do you use basil?

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