Summer Solstice Week: Summer Herbal Medicine Chest
The start of the summer season is a good reminder to restock your
herbal medicine chest and prepare for the wonderful season ahead.
Summer. The high season of greatest Yang and activity is complemented
by the hot fun-filled days at the beach and warm, delightful nights
enjoyed outdoors. As we tend to overdue in summer..too much sun,
working out and physical activities; below you can find some of the
best herbs for headaches, burns, and skin problems. Also herbs for
strengthening the respiratory tract, maintain sinus passages, support
for healthy circulation and herbs to sooth the discomfort of sore
joints and muscles.
Basil (Ocimum basilicum L.) - The Leaves; frequently, the entire herb
(all aerial parts) are harvested. Best arvesting season is before
flowering. Basil leaves should always be used fresh, as they lose
most of their flavor within a few weeks after drying or as an
essential oil. The essential oil (less than 1%) is of complex and
variable composition. Within the species, several different chemical
races exist, and furthermore climate, soil and time of harvest
influence not only the amount but also the composition of the
essential oil. The most important aroma components are 1,8 cineol,
linalool, citral, methyl chavicol (estragole), eugenol and methyl
cinnamate, although not necessarily in this order; in fact, hardly
any basil contains all of these compounds in significant amounts.
Chamomile - German (Matricaria recutita), Roman (Chamaemelum nobile) -
an herb of the sun, Chamomile's bright yellow flowers bring power
and light to your space and rituals. Chamomile's medicinal properties
range from skin inflammations to lightening hair to treating
digestive problems. As a mild sedative, anti-inflammatory, and
antibacterial, it improves digestion by relaxing the muscles
throughout the gastrointestinal system and it can induce an overall
sense of calm and well-being.
Dandelion - (Taraxacum officinale) - The common dandelion is an
unusually nutritious food. Its leaves contain substantial levels of
vitamins A, C, D, and B complex as well as iron, magnesium, zinc,
potassium, manganese, copper, choline, calcium, boron, and silicon.
Worldwide, the root of the dandelion has been used for the treatment
of a variety of liver and gallbladder problems. Other historical uses
of the root and leaves include the treatment of breast diseases,
water retention, digestive problems, joint pain, fever, and skin
diseases. The most active constituents in dandelion appear to be
eudesmanolide and germacranolide, substances unique to this herb.
Other ingredients include taraxol, taraxerol, and taraxasterol, along
with stigmasterol, beta-sitosterol, caffeic acid, and p-
Dill (Peucedanum graveolens) - The summer herb of the season, Dill
like the other umbelliferous fruits and volatile oils, both Dill
fruit and oil of Dill possess stimulant, aromatic, carminative and
stomachic properties, making them of considerable medicinal value.
Oil of Dill is used in mixtures, or administered in doses of 5 drops
on sugar, but its most common use is in the preparation of Dill
Water, which is a common domestic remedy for the flatulence of
infants, and is a useful vehicle for children's medicine generally.
Elderflower - Elder flowers are highly effective in managing upper
respiratory congestion and infections. Picked from the elder tree in
mid to late summer, they seem to capture the dry warmth of this time
of year, perfect for drying up that runny or blocked nose. These tiny
pale white flowers have a delicate floral taste and contain
flavonoids and small amounts of mucilage and tannins, a perfect
combination for soothing healing and protecting mucous membranes. An
old tradition was to make fresh Elderflower wine in summer ready to
drink in winter Food as medicine?
Fennel - (Foeniculum vulgare) - Fennel, a hardy, perennial,
umbelliferous herb, with yellow flowers and feathery leaves, grows
wild in most parts of temperate Europe, but is generally considered
indigenous to the shores of the Mediterranean, as it spreads
eastwards to India. It has followed civilization, especially where
Italians have colonized, and may be found growing wild in many parts
of the world upon dry soils near the sea-coast and upon river-
banks.On account of its aromatic and carminative properties, Fennel
fruit is chiefly used medicinally with purgatives to allay their
tendency to griping and for this purpose forms one of the ingredients
of the well-known compound licorice powder. Fennel water has
properties similar to those of anise and dill water: mixed with
sodium bicarbonate and syrup, these waters constitute the
domestic 'Gripe Water,' used to correct the flatulence of infants.
Volatile oil of Fennel has these properties in concentration. Fennel
tea, formerly also employed as a carminative, is made by pouring half
a pint of boiling water on a teaspoonful of bruised Fennel seeds.
Lavender - (Lavandula officinalis) Lavender is laid on the fires of
the Summer Solstice and is soothing to the spirit. Good for stress
and depression as reflected in the skin. These flowers pressed into
essential oil form can relieve stress and depression. Good for
headaches, burns, and skin problems. It is analgesic, anti-coagulant,
anti-convulsive, anti-depressant, anti-fungal, anti-infectious, anti-
inflammatory, antiseptic, anti-spasmodic, anti-toxic, cardiotonic,
and is a sedative. It has a very balancing effect on the body,
emotions, mind and spirit.
Pine - Pine Needle was used by the ancient Romans and Greeks to treat
respiratory problems and muscular aches. A holiday staple, this
fantastic scent is often used to accent potpourri and diffused into
the air. It promotes a healthy immune and musculoskeletal system.
Distilled in Austria from the finest pines, Pine Needle can be
diffused to help strengthen the respiratory tract and maintain sinus
passages. When massaged into the skin, Pine Needle supports healthy
circulation and soothes the discomfort of sore joints and muscles. A
true disinfectant, a strong germ killer, excellent for viral
infections and for muscular aches, rheumatism and arthritis. In this
aspect, Pine is used for its properties of purification. It
represents the Male aspects of the Divine at this time. Consider
burning Pine with Meadowsweet for an incense of energetic balance.
Rose - The Mother of All Flowers, the Rose has amazing powers of
love, trust and self acceptance. Roses are representative of faith,
hope and love and has the qualities to restore the very center of
being. A gentle tonic of the heart, Rose oil's psychological
properties lie mainly in its effect on the mind,the center of our
emotional being. Rose oil calms and supports the heart and helps to
nourish the soul! Also symbolizing the feminine, red is the color of
choice for Roses used or gathered at Midsummer. Long associated with
the eternity of true love, at Midsummer this flower also blesses the
St. John's Wort - (Hypericum perforatum) - Aromatic, astringent,
resolvent, and expectorant. Used in all pulmonary complaints, bladder
troubles, in suppression of urine, dysentery, worms, diarrhea,
hysteria and nervous depression, and other hemorrhages and jaundice.
The flowers, leaves, and stems are all utilized and may help to
inhibit viral infections, including herpes. Good for depression and
nerve pain. The Welsh called this plant the "leaf of the blessed",
believing it to be the ideal combination of water with fire, and
between light and dark, night and day, making it a perfect
celebratory herb at Midsummer.
Thyme - The pungent oils found in Thyme are an effective
antimicrobial in the treatment of respiratory infections. When taking
Thyme, people often note tasting it on their breath as the oils
permeate through the respiratory system to reduce the proliferation
of viruses during infections. It also warms the digestion and reduces
metabolic congestion, aiding to clear the body of conditions for
Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) - This germicide and antibacterial
oil is great for cleaning infected wounds or as a gargle for a sore
throat -- use a 10-percent solution but use pure 100-percent tea tree
oil. This essential oil is a disinfectant and good in healing all
skin conditions including acne, athlete's foot, nail fungus, herpes
outbreaks, insect bites, warts, cuts and scrapes, scabies, vaginitis.
Seasonal Healing is one of the best ways to remind ourselves that it
is time to evaluate our health. Our moods and bodies change as the
seasons change. See more on seasonal healing:
Andrew Pacholyk, MS, L.Ac.
Therapies for healing
mind, body, spirit
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