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Valerian

Valerian plant is known to help those who take it …relax, take a nap, and let loose. This plant focuses on the nervous system and can be used as a mild sedative. Be aware that most people do not like the smell of this flower; some claim it smells like sweaty socks!

Scientific name: Valeriana officinalis: The name is from Latin ‘valere which means to be strong or healthy.

Parts Used: Root, Rhizome, herb

Planet: Mercury

Element: Water

Main Constituents: Volatile oils, valepotriates, akaloids

Actions/Medicinal Properties: Sedative, hypnotic, nervine, antispasmodic, expectorant, diuretic, hypotensive, carminative, milldly analgesic.

Dosage: 

  • Soaked in cold water for up to 10 hours: drink 1 cup strained water/tea up to 3 times daily for anxiety, nervous tension or blood pressure related stress. Take 1 cup before bed for insomnia.
  • Tincture: take 1tsp (1-5ml) up to 3 times daily for nervous problems. Doses can vary between individuals. Sometimes high doses can cause headaches for some; so it’s best to start with small doses. If taking other forms of medication, check with your doctor prior to consuming this tincture. Will not usually cause drowsiness/grogginess unless you are also taking other medications.
  • Compress: soak a pad in a cup with maceration or tincture and apply to muscle cramps or abdomen during period pains and colic.

Magical Properties: Protection; purification; restfulness; calmness; grounding; love and harmony.

Valerian is a well-known relaxant and is useful when muscle tension combines with anxiety or sleep problems. It relaxes smooth muscle spasms and cramping.

Most of the benefits are stored within Valerian’s volatile oils. Many find the tea tastes disgusting and the smell is disgusting (…think gym socks, yuck!) but many will struggle through that smell and taste for it’s amazing benefits!

As Nature it ordain’d its own like hurt to cure,And sportive did herself to niceties inure.Valerian then he crops, and purposely doth stampTo apply unto the place that’s haled with the cramp

Poet Michael Dayton

Although it is a fairly safe species its use is not recommended for extended periods of time and it should be used with caution for those suffering from liver failure. Not recommended for pregnant or nursing women, or children under the age of 12.

Valerian Through History

During medieval times in Sweden, many grooms wore Valerian to ward off the envy of elves on their wedding day, or leading up to their wedding days.

Most of us have heard the tale of the Pied Piper of Hamelin, Germany who played his flute and led the rats out of town forever. Many feel the Pied Piper must have been familiar with valerian and put it in his pockets or rubbed himself with it. Rats love the smell, and it may have been the valerian, not the music, that enticed the rats to follow him!

The Nordic goddess Hertha is said to have used valerian as a whip to encourage the stag she rode to greater speeds.

In magic, it was used in love potions, and in Sleep Pillows.

Some people claimed that if valerian was thrown where people were fighting, they would cease immediately and that it could be used to tame the wildest of beasts.

The ancients Greeks would hang bundles of valerian in their homes, especially in their windows, to keep evil entities from entering. The Celts believed hanging it their homes would keep lightening from striking.

In the wizard world of Harry Potter, valerian was believed to have soporific qualities and was given in teas to encourage sleep.

It was generally regarded as a feminine element. Its powers were believed to be love, sleep, purification, and protection.

In addition to a sleep aid, valerian has been used for anxiety, stress, to treat addictions, convulsions, gas, pain, hyperactivity, intestinal cramping, migraines, aggression, nervous exhaustion, coughs, epilepsy,  and the flu. And the list goes on and on…

Stinging nettle

Stinging nettle is an invasive plant known for it’s painful sting; you should always wear gloves while harvesting this one!

Parts Used: Aerial parts, Leaves

Main Constituents: Amines, flavanoids, formic acid; glucoquinones, minerals ( Silica & Iron), Vitamins A, B, C; tannins

Actions/Medicinal Properties: Astringent, diuretic, tonic, nutritive, hemostatic, circulatory stimulant, galactogogue, hypnotensive, antiscorbutic, anti-allergenic, alterative, rubefacient.

Dosage: Tinctures should be taken three per day for allergic reactions; Drink 1 cup of infusions/teas daily for arthritis and rheumatism, gout, and eczema. Infusion can also be used as hair rinse for dandruff.

Stinging Nettle Through History

Though cursed by hikers, gardeners, and homeowners alike, stinging nettle is a nutritional powerhouse, a potent medicine and endlessly useful. Its praises have been sung across the globe and nettle appears in many fables and myths, as well as European, Asian, and American history. 

Records indicating the use of nettle are plentiful throughout European and Asian history. Widespread use is recorded as far back as the Late Bronze Age, or between 1570 and 1200 BCE, and continues today.

Roman soldiers in damp Britain found that rheumatic joints responded to a beating with nettles. Tyroleans threw nettles on the fire to avert thunderstorms, and gathered nettle before sunrise to protect their cattle from evil spirits.”

Folk Stories/Poems

old folk lore tells us we should cite this rhyme during the rubbing process.

Nettle in, Dock
Dock in, Nettle out
Dock rub, Nettle out

Urtica_dioica38_ies
Nettle Plant Stingers

Magical properties

Planet: Mars

Element: Fire

Properties: Protection against negative energies

Stuff a small cloth doll with nettles to remove a curse, or negative energies; Sprinkle the herb around the room to protect or add protection to sachets. Burn during rituals to banish negative energies.

Create a dream protector by filling a small cloth drawstring bag with dried nettle and hang over your pillow to protection against nightmares and negative energy while sleeping.

Make Nettle Moon Tea

Infuse water with moon energy by setting it outdoors to absorb moonlight during waxing phases; or place it near a windowsill indoors, where it can be touched by moonlight. Do this for one to three nights in a row. After infusion, bring moon water to a boil, and pour this over dried nettle leaves. let it infuse for up to 30 minutes; strain and soak up all that lovely moon energy with every sip!

Lavender

One of my favorite scents comes from the beautiful, calming, Lavender.

From the Latin name: ‘Lavare’, meaning to ‘wash’; for centuries, lavender was used in soaps and bath oils and has been knows as an herb that can cleanse the aura, and ward off evil spirits.

Parts Used: Flowerbuds, Petals, Essential Oils

Main Costituents: Vilatile oils, Tannins, Triterpenoids, Flavonoids, Coumarins

Actions/Medicinal Properties: Relaxant, Antidepressant, Analgesic, Carminative, Cholagogue, Anti-emetic, Antibacterial, aids in nervous system, Circulatory stimulant

Dosage: Tinctures should be taken twice per day for headaches, depression or nervous tension, and to help ease asthma

Essential Oil: Add 3-4 drops essential oil. or an essential oil spray to your pillow to help you sleep; Undiluted essential oil can be added to insect bites and stings for soothing relief; Can also be added to lotion to treat sunburn, or irritated skin. Essential oil can be added to a Hair Rinse to help with lice control; When topically applied, can be used as a massage oil to relax muscle tissue; rub the essential oil on your temples to help ease headaches.

Lavender Through the History

In Spain and Portugal, lavender was included in bonfires on St. John’s Day to help ward off evil spirits.

On St. Luke’s Day in the 15th & 16th centuries, young maidens sipped lavender in hopes that they would be granted a dream in which they would see their true love. Lavender tucked under the pillows of young men was thought to encourage them to ask for a lady’s hand in marriage. And completing the circle, lavender was used by wives to ensure their “husband’s marital passion.”

On the other hand, ladies of the unmaidenly sort, would wear lavender to attract customers. It would also protect them from cruelty and violence.

And, in yet another contradiction, lavender folklore also claims that if lavender is used in combination with rosemary it will preserve virtue.

Lavender also has been linked to the plague. Doctors included lavender with rose petals and Rosemary among other herbs in their beaks; it was believed that the plague traveled in the air through foul stench, and therefore sweet smelling herbs would help protect against it.

The ancient Egyptians used lavender oil for perfume, in rituals to bless items, and for mummification; they used Lavender to heal wounds. Much of folklore surrounding lavender suggests that Cleopatra used its scent to seduce both Julius Caesar and Marc Anthony. Some sources also suggest that the venomous snake that was the cause of Cleopatra’s death had been hiding in lavender bushes.

15th to the 17th century also known as the Tudor times young maidens would drink lavender tea and chant: “St Luke, St Luke, be kind to me. In my dreams, let me my true love see.”

Because of the strong association of love, alpine girls would put lavender under their lover’s pillow to nurture romantic thoughts and/or connections, continuing to do so after marriage to strengthen marital passion and avoid quarrels.

The Romans also used lavender oil in soaps and carried it with them throughout the Roman Empire.

In Medieval and Renaissance France, women who took in washing for hire were known as “lavenders.” Clothes were washed in lavender and laid to dry on lavender bushes. Lavender was used to scent drawers, perfume the air and ward off infection and heal wounds. It was also recognized in Roman times for its antiseptic and healing qualities.

The Ancient Greeks used lavender to fight insomnia and back aches.

Folk Stories/Poems

Lavender is often used to ward off dark/evil energies, therefore, it is put into incense. It is said that the herb is capable of heightening clairvoyance. In combination with chamomile, rose petals and mugwort it will attract fairies, sprites, elves and others of the fae folk.

An old century poem, which later evolved into the nursery rhyme, ‘hey diddle diddle’ originally was about lavender:

Lavenders green, diddle diddle, Lavenders Blue

You must love me, diddle diddle, cause I love you

I heard one say, diddle diddle, Since I came hither

That you and I, diddle diddle, must lie together

This poem shows us just how much Lavender was used in representing love and seduction.

Lavender’s Magical Properties

Folk names: Spike, elf leaf

Planet: Mercury

Element: Air

Powers represented/usage: Purification, Love, Protection; Used in purification and protection sachets; Used in incense for purification properties; Burn in midsummer fires to attract healing energy; The scent is widely used for seduction.

Infusing your Lavender with Moon Energy

Lavender can be harvested periodically, but the best time is just after the full moon, as the moon begins waning. The waning of the moon is used as a marker to keep track of the days your lavender is to dry. Once the New moon hits, your lavender should be dried. Hang it outdoors or near your window where it can receive moonlight, and allow it to absorb this moon energy until the moon is full again.

Welcome to my materia medica

“Materia Medica” is Latin for ‘healing material’

In Herbalism, every herbalist has a record of herbs; recording what herbs have what properties helps us to better create helpful remedies to aid specific ailments.

This is my Materia Medica! I’ll be posting about specific plants every week! This will be a helpful record for myself to keep track online of every herb; and in turn it can be used as a useful guide for you!

If you are looking for a specific herb, or medicinal remedy, you can search for this on my search bar. If you are on a PC, the search bar is on the right side of this page. If you are on a mobile device, you can click on the menu bar above; there, you will find a search option.