Cramp bark

The term cramp bark is related to the properties of the bark’s ability to reduce smooth muscle tightness. It is called cramp bark as relieving this type of muscle tightness is most often associated with relieving women’s menstrual (period) cramps. However, this can also be used during pregnancy for cramps or pain and general muscle cramping. It is also known to ease headaches, arthritis pains, back pain, and as a cardiovascular tonic.

Cramp bark comes from the small shrub, Viburnum opulus, which grows in the northern half of the United States. Multiple species are native throughout the northern hemisphere. The twigs can be harvested in the spring to make tinctures and teas. Topically, cramp bark oil can be used to help relax muscles and restore blood flow to injured joints and surrounding tissues.

Parts Used:  Bark

Main Constituents: Bitter (viburnin), valeric acid, tannins, coumarins, saponins 

Actions/Medicinal Properties: Antispasmodic, astringent, cardiotonic, diuretic, emmenagogue, hypotensive, mild sedative, anti-inflammatory

Energetics: Cooling & Drying

Dosage: For a tincture, take 1tsp 3-5 times daily as a relax and for nervous or muscular tension, or for pains affecting the digestive or urinary tract. For decoctions or strong teas, take 1 cup every 3-4 hours for period pain or colic. Can be used with other remedies for excessive menstrual bleeding. Teas can also be used to help with back pains and for arthritis relief.

Magickal Properties: This feminine plant associates with Saturn and the element of water. Also associated with the astrological sign of Capricorn. There isn’t much folklore surrounding cramp bark, what few references there are refer to women’s magic and protection.

Planet: Saturn

Element: Water

Red Clover

Naturalized in America and Australia, this plant was native to Europe. The plant was known as “honey stalk” for it’s sweet sap that children like to chew on. In the 1930s, red clover became popular for treating breast cancer. Today, it’s been used for coughs, skin problems and menopausal symptoms. Red clover is best harvested while dry – with no dew or droplets, as it tends to hold onto moisture even after harvest, and can become moldy while drying.

Parts Used: Flower Heads

Main Constituents: Flavanoids, salicytes, coumarins, phenolic glycosides, cyanogenic glycosides, volatile oile, sitosterol

Actions/Medicinal Properties: Alterative, Anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antispasmodic, demulcent, estrogenic, expectorant, nutritive, secretory

Dosage: For tinctures, take 3 times daily for skin conditions and sores or minor skin wounds that are slow to heal. For infusions/tea, take 1 cup 3 times daily for coughs, menopausal problems or skin issues. As a gargle/mouthwash, use 1 cup of infusion for coughs, mouth ulcers, or sore throats. For fresh flowers, crush and place directly on insect bites and stings.

Magickal Properties: Abundance, Grounding, Luck, Success, Protection

Planet: Mercury

Element: Air

Red Clover is an alterative, meaning it improves chronic conditions throughout the body over time by helping the body to assimilate nutrients to remove metabolic waste products. it’s often referred to as a blood cleanser due to its affinity for the lymphatic system and liver. As a diuretic, red clover keeps fluids moving through the lymphatic system and supports elimination of wastes via the urinary system. It also stimulates and nourishes the liver to keep blood well-filtered. Red clover is indicated for conditions that the result from buildup of metabolic waste in the body, such as cystic lumps, lymphatic swelling, infections, acne, eczema, and psoriasis. Because of red clover ‘s gentle alterative nature, it is a premier herb for many skin conditions as well as chronic inflammatory conditions and degenerative diseases, including as a support in cancer, alongside conventional treatment.

Red clover is rich in phytoestrogen isoflavones, which may be helpful for normalizing hormone levels during the fertile years and in menopause. Some clinical trial shave shown positive effects on hot flashes, bone density, mood, and cardiovascular health in menopausal women.

Grounding Ritual

Burn fresh or dried Red Clover, or light Red Clover incense. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, your arms held loosely at your ides and your gaze focused gently forward.

Imagine a sting lifting you from the top of your head and two more pulling your feet toward the center of the Earth. This is yoga’s Mountain Pose, which teaches you the vitality of stillness.

Now, add breath, inhaling all the way down to your belly and exhaling fully. This is flow.

Finally, picture Red Clover, calling into your heart as you expand your energy

Abundance Water Meditation

This mediation can be done in the shower or in a bath. The point is to use water to help the body relax.

For a Bath, add red clover flowers into the water to float on the surface.

For a Shower, create a ‘tea bag’ of red clover flowers fresh or dry in a cloth bag that can be hung by a string directly under the shower head so that this ‘tea’ falls directly on your body.

Alternatively, light red clover incense or burn the herb in your bathroom while you bathe.

Relax the body, and close your eyes. Scan your body for any tension and release as you scan up and down your body.

Imagine a red glowing ball of light hovering just above your head. This light represents abundance. It gently lowers itself into your body and begins to enter your core and moves into your heart. This light, is now growing and shrinking in your chest to match your heartbeat.

Imagine that the light grows larger as you inhale, and shrinks as you exhale. Complete this breathing exercise until full relaxation is reached or until you feel ready to end meditation.

To end meditation, slowly bring your presence back to the calmness of the water. Normalize your breath and bring your attention back to the present. Remember that the light of abundance is always within you. You have the power to reach all of your goals and everything you need is within reach.

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…