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

Plantain Leaf

If you are looking for an all cure plant for cuts, scratches, bites, and small wounds on the skin, look no further! Known as the Fist Aid Plant for hikers, this wild plant is a life saver to many who are lacking band-aids or any wound care supplies.

Plantain was brought to the Americas by colonial travelers from Europe. There are more than 250 species of Plantain around the world and they are all said to be edible or safe for consumption. However, it may not be the most favorable flavor to many.

Parts Used: Leaves

Main Constituents: Flavanoids, iridoids, mucilage, tannins, minerals.

Actions/Medicinal Properties: Antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, astringent, demulcent, vulnerary

Dosage: For tinctures, take 3x per day for catarrhal conditions or digestive problems, including gastritis, and IBS symptoms; For infusions, drink 1 Cup 3x per day for digestion, and as a gargle for sore throats; As a poultice, mash the leaf with a bit of water into a pulp for slow-healing wounds. Alternatively, if you are in an emergency situation, and have no water, you can chew on the leaf and place that on your skin wounds for healing; For the juice, leaves can be juiced and taken in 2tsp doses 3x per day to soothe cystitis, diarrhea, and lung infections. The juice can also be applied to wounds and sores.

Magickal Properties: Healing, Cleansing, Protection, Strength, Power, Repel Evil Spirits, Repel Snakes, Wishes

Planet: Venus

Element: Earth

Healing Powers

Plantain is a must-have for any herbal first aid kit for its use in bites, stings, cuts and scrapes, as well as to help to draw out slivers, splinters and stingers.

Plantain has been described by herbalists as a lance that penetrates and opens the wound to draw out the poison. It may also be used to soothe and cool the pain, itching or burning symptoms of poison ivy, nettle stings, and sunburn. In-the-field preparation of a “spit-poultice” for direct topical application for any of the previously mentioned ailments, is a super easy and quick way to begin the healing process, particularly when there are no other first aid supplies at hand.

Plantain leaves can also bne placed in a sock for hotspots, blisters or made into a wash, compress, infused oil, salve, or cream for a variety of skin conditions.

Plantain’s anti-inflammatory and astringent properties applicable to soothe chronic skin conditions while toning skin tissues in the case of eczema, rosacea, shingles, varicose veins, and hemorrhoids.

Plantain also exhibits antibacterial properties that contribute both to its use for wounds and for acne. Its antibacterial properties, however, are destroyed by heat.

Basil

Basil is one of the most popular herbs used in the kitchen. But this leafy herbaceous plant represents so much more than flavor! Basil is not only used as a food flavoring, but also in perfumery, incense, and herbal holistic remedies. Recent scientific studies have established that compounds the essential oil of basil plants possess potent antioxidant, antiviral, and antimicrobial properties.

Basil is used as an uplifting nervine for stress, low mood, anxiety, and poor memory and concentration. As with many nervines, Basil positively impacts the digestive system; it helps improve digestion and absorption of nutrients. It also eases indigestion, nausea, and intestinal spams, making this the perfect tea to drink after desserts or any heavy meals. It’s also used for respiratory conditions and is specifically indicated for excess mucus in the head and chest. Taken in a tea, this is helpful for colds, flu, and other respiratory infections.

Parts Used: Aerial Parts, leaves

Main Constituents: Volatile Oil, Flavoring

Energetics: Warming and Drying

Actions/Medicinal Properties: Alterative, analgesic, anticatarrhal, antiemetic, antimicrobial, antioxidant, antispasmodic, carminative, diaphoretic, galactagogue, nervine

Dosage: For infusions, pour 1 cup boiling water over 1-2tsp. dried basil and drink 1-3 servings throughout the day; For Tinctures, take 3 times per day.

Magickal Properties: Luck, Money & Abundance, Love, Peace, Purification & Greif.

Planet: Mars

Element: Fire

Basil Magick

Plant basil near the threshold of your home to repel negative entities and welcome friendly spirits. Plant just after a New Moon so that the Basil has time to absorb all the positive moon energy throughout the phases for strong roots.

Repel an unwanted love interest: Let a piece of Basil wilt under your bed to encourage their feelings for you to fade.

Burning Basil incense with a charged emerald crystal can encourage abundance and prosperity. No Incense? just burn dried basil in a fireproof bowl.

Add dried basil to a drawstring bag with some pennies to draw luck to your money or business matters.

History of Basil

There are now up to 150 different types of Basil, each with it’s own distinct flavor. While Basil has been around for about 5,000 years, the origin of the plant is up for debate. The most widespread belief is that it originated in either India or Asia and spread to the Mediterranean through the ancient spice trading routes.

Sweet basil, along with other basil and mint plants, belongs to the genus Ocimum which is derived from the Greek meaning “to be fragrant.” This is exceptionally true of the basil plant, which is often described as being very fragrant. The word basil itself, however, comes from the Greek word for “king,” thus associating it with wealth and royalty. Basil can be carried in your pockets to attract wealth or kept in cash registers or grown by the door to attract business. However, basil is more commonly associated with love than wealth and royalty.

Holy Basil, which is highly revered in India, is a sacred Hindu herb and is believed to be a manifestation of the Goddess Tulasi. According to legend, the god Vishnu disguised himself as Tulasi’s husband to seduce her. When Tulasi realized she had been unfaithful to her husband she killed herself. In some stories, Tulsai was a mortal named Vrinda who threw herself onto a funeral pyre after her husband’s death. In both cases, her burnt hair turned into Holy Basil (Tulsi). In both stories, Vishnu ultimately defied Tulasi’s wishes to die and declared she be worshiped by wives and would prevent said wives from becoming widows. As such, Holy Basil is the symbol of love, fidelity, eternal life, purification, and protection. Often times people swear over basil bushes to ensure they will tell the truth during court hearings.

The myth of Isabetta is one of importance when reading up on Basil. Isabetta was a young woman from a wealthy family who fell in love with a lower class man named Lorenzo. When Isabetta’s brothers discovered her secret, they lured Lorenzo into the woods where they killed and buried him. Lorenzo visited Isabetta in her dreams, informing her of her brothers’ deceit and asked that she give him a proper burial. Isabetta dug up his body, but didn’t have the strength to carry him back, so she cut off his head and took it home, and buried it inside a pot of Basil, watering it with her tears of grief. When her brothers discovered this, they took the pot and destroyed the evidence, assumingly by burning it. Isabetta dies of a broken heart shortly after. Click link here for full poem: https://www.bartleby.com/126/38.html

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…