It is so rewarding to create your own plant medicines. From growing the herbs, or wildcrafting, to preparing the plants into a potion that can help you when you need it. I love forming a relationship with the plants that I grow for medicine or the land where I wildcraft. This "relationship" is about studying it's life-cycle, habits, patterns and beauty. One of my favorite summer herbs is St. John's wort. It is a weed that grows all over the roadsides and in abandoned fields. I harvested this year on the day of Summer Solstice at the sun's peak. I soak it in oil, placed in my warm greenhouse, for 4-6 weeks. When it is done it has the most deep blood red color! It is great for first aid on the skin for painful stings or burns.
A tincture can also be made and used cautiously for internal use. It is contraindicated in those with Bi-polar and can react with some medications so it should be used with guidance. I use it when I sense the solar plexus chakra is out of balance. It is a common pattern to see the solar plexus chakra congested in depressed individuals with who are often having spinning self-defeating thoughts or seasonal depression in the autumn. This plant's medicine, over time, can help to bring in sunshine to the subtle energy system for balance.
Spring is a time for waking up the garden and seeing things come back to life. There is such a deep, vibrant green in the garden like no other time of year. The ground seems to breathe as it is rehydrated with the fresh spring rains. Planting seeds, weeding away that which holds the strong plants back, and letting the dandelions bloom to feed the first waking bees.
It is also time for spring tonic plants to incorporate into salads, and simply eating the bitter leaves of these plants for health after a winter of heavy foods. Cleavers, salad burrette, dandelion leaves, sorrel, and fennel leaves.
It is also time for violets to bloom. I love the vibrant colors and the sweet, perfume aroma that violets emit. Every year I gather flowers and the most vibrant leaves for medicine making. I wilt them, then soak them in olive oil for 6 weeks. I use this oil everyday after a shower under my arms and on breasts for health.
Being in nature to just “ground” and be still is so important. Sometimes this is just a coffee in my small urban garden, or sometimes it means driving out to those secret hidden spots that you just connect with for some unknown reason. This time of year, I love to go to one of those secret spots to do plant medicine harvesting. More importantly, the harvest of the plants is what helps keep me connected to the earth and centers me into the present moment. I do believe that the trees and plants have a spirit. Learning their language, or rather attuning to their energy patterns, is something I am fascinated with. The songs that I hear and sing back in chants, the offerings to them, heart centered connection, and reverence to their existence is essential in making good medicine.
Usually sometime near February, just before the spring bursting of buds, it is time to harvest Cottonwood Buds. Cottonwood trees usually grow near wet places. The trees can grow quite tall, so it is best to go after a windstorm and harvest from fallen branches. The buds on the branches look like finger tips to me, and the branches look like they have joints. Each bud has a reddish sticky resin that has such a sweet perfume. This is the medicine used in healing salves and soaps that I make for the year for skin health with natural antibacterial properties. Oh, and the wonderful balsam smell!