Monthly Archives: October 2014

Liniment and Leisure. A Local River Tour!

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It is autumn. The aspens in the mountains have turned yellow and are dropping their leaves. Down in the valleys and lower elevations near rivers and arroyos and small villages near where I live… the cottonwoods are throwing out their golden shimmmery hues against blue sky. With all my learning and studying and home apothecary making of tinctures, salves and liniments… I need to also remember what is going on outside. I spend a lot of time outside amist other chores and work responsibilities. But, the special places remind us of the beauty of nature. Also small willow trees grow near arroyos and rivers and I will feature a gallery of the river walk I took today. Images dispersed throughout this post as a parallel post. Nature always surrounds us. And as a creative expression to take a parallel tour.

Here goes…And make an herbal liniment with me too!

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Willow near the river

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I used Witch Hazel for the base of my healing liniment. To this I added dried herbs: Grindelia, Lavender, Thyme, Chamomile and Lemon Balm leaf.

All of these herbs have healing and/or anti-microbial, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-fungal properties for the skin. Witch hazel also has many healing properties.

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Witch Hazel!

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If you have already seen my post about tinctures, then rest assured! Making a liniment is very similar to making a tincture… with one basic difference!

Liniment, liniment… What is a liniment. I felt like I knew what it was but now, with so many herbal terms swimming in my head like: balm, salve, embrocation, percolation, tincture etc…. I needed some clarity. And with that clarity, I can share with you!

Basically, a liniment is like a tincture but is only used on the skin. It is used externally for topical use only. In fact, label your liniment: FOR EXTERNAL USE ONLY!

tinctures

Liniments can heal skin issues such as rashes and dermatitis. Liniments can soothe and heal inflammations, bruises and sprains. Liniments can ease and lessen pain. The proper liniments can soothe a sore throat by applying the liniment to the neck area. Liniments can cool down an area or heat it up. Liniments can work deeply on tendons, nerves, muscles and even bones!

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tips and ingredients & Dr. Kloss’ famous liniment!

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In this post I will show you how to make a liniment to soothe skin irritations. I am sometimes prone to skin irritations and rashes and thought it would be a good addition to my Home Remedy Kit!

Grindelia herb for skin: is excellent for poison ivy rash, contact dermatitis, eczema, stubborn to heal wounds, fungal infections and other skin irritations.

Grindelia liniment is excellent for rashes.

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Please seek informed, appropriate counsel when applying herbal preparations to various wounds and skin conditions as well as for internal use. For instance, in a list I found of Grindelia health benefits, it is listed that Grindelia helps heal bed sores but, what is the proper herbal preparation? Would it be a tea, a tea compress, a salve?… I haven’t found specific treatment methods or I would share it here.

I describe this as a way to show importance of knowing and understanding methods of herbal preparation and treatment for a specific condition.

When using a liniment do not apply to open sores.

It is essential to know the proper dose and/or application and the proper herbal preparation.

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Grindelia is a versatile herb. And, when I learned about Grindelia’s beneficial skin properties… I decided that I wanted to make a skin healing liniment. Its beneficial uses for skin led me into researching other skin benefitting herbs which I could add to the liniment.

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Grindelia, with a locust seed pod, found draped amidst its stems.

Grindelia is equally known for skin healing properties as it is for healing bronchial and cough issues! And the other herbs, I used to make the liniment, are healing for a variety of internal and external issues as well.

Grindelia and How to Make Tinctures!

A Field Walk and Finding Grindelia!

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And how and what to put in your very own Herbal First Aid Kit? Here is a very helpful guide with contraindications and guidance for best use of herbs!

Make Your Own Herbal First Aid Kits! by Susan W. Kramer, Ph.D., Esq.

The first aid kit includes helpful liniments!

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Liniments are useful when quick evaporation and penetration of healing effects is needed.

liniments and more!

Adding oily salves to an inflamed area may not be beneficial. Because sometimes an inflamed area does not want more heat. And, oil contains heat and does not typically let the heat dissipate.

*Although lavender oil has reputed benefit to aid in healing of skin abrasions and burns… Know your ailment, therapeutic application and herbal remedies!

Also, oil will tend to spread rashes such as poison ivy, because oil, by nature has a spreading quality.

Liniments can be made in a Rubbing alcohol base. Or I prefer to use Witch Hazel with a maximum, 14% added ingredient of rubbing alcohol.

I’ve also read that vinegar can be used as a liniment base or even vodka, etc.

Liniments are made for a variety of desired effects.

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Gattefossé: Lavender Oil heals burns!

According to the above site, René-Maurice Gattefossé discovered the amazing miraculous benefits of lavender oil himself amidst a terrible accident. He worked in a laboratory of a cosmetic firm which his family owned, when a terrible accident caused horrible burns of his hand. The burns turned into rapidly developed, gas gangrene and he was in excruciating pain.

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image source this site

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He had been studying the healing properties of lavender oil and had good inclination to immerse his hand in the Lavender oil. His burns healed relatively quickly with little scarring and he worked on many burned soldiers during the first World War.

Gattefossé, Father of Aromatherapy.

A key influential book also available in English.

Aromathérapie: Les Huiles Essentielles Hormones Végétales.

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René-Maurice Gattefossé

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how to use Lavender essential oil

Lavender oil not recommended for 3rd degree burns!

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lavender and herb liniment

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And, now my own, unique herbal liniment!

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I really want to start an herbal garden. Along with wildcrafting and buying quality organic herbs like these! Above are some lavender flowers in the palm of my hand.

more about Lavender!

And some lovely chamomile flowers in the jar.

Health and Skin benefits of Chamomile

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I started off with 1/3 of a jar of cut lemon balm leaf. (More about my measurements later!…oops)

Lemon balm, bug repellant and anti-oxidant rich!

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Some chopped Grindelia I had wildcrafted

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And some Thyme

Health and Skin Benefits of Thyme

So my recipe really soaked up all the witch hazel. I used a pint sized jar. 16 ounces of Witch hazel. I left an inch and 1/2 from the top but all the dried herbs just soaked up the Witch Hazel.
So I would leave more room next time.

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I followed some basic guidelines though the blend of herbs was my idea. I have a tendency to overfill my jars although, I also learned that dry herbs can soak up a lot!

I used 1/3 of a pint volume of Lemon balm leaf.
Then added equal parts of Thyme, Lavender flowers and Chamomile. Then 3 Tbsp coarsely chopped Grindelia.

It is a thick mixture and the menstruum: the Witch Hazel does… cover herbs completely. But it’s thick!
I used up all the witch hazel. Next time I would use less dry herb overall. I will keep you posted. I am going to give the liniment 2 weeks to cure. I am flipping it twice a day since it is so thick and to diminish any oxidation effects by chance herb being exposed to air. Which the gap is minute, but still… to be careful.

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I will strain it with cheesecloth and squeeze and wring out the healing liniment. Pictures soon to follow when the liniment is done. Meanwhile waiting for the magic, I am hoping! To happen 🙂 also see my post on making tinctures to get good ideas on using phases of the moon in making herbal preparations or check here!

Lunar Based Preparations

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Stir it up! I added too much dry plant material and had to scoop some out! This is a thick mixture so flip it twice and shake it, at least, once a day. Should last several years!

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I couldn’t use latin binomials here because my source did not list them on the package! Something to consider when buying herbs. But this is for my own use so it is okay for me. All the herbs are organic.

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I also made a Brandy tincture using all the herbs except Grindelia. (Lavender, Lemon balm leaf, Thyme & Chamomile)

And now I also have a favorite hot tea blend using: Lavender, Thyme, Lemon Balm leaf and Chamomile in equal amounts. It felt both restorative and calming. Health enhancing and yummy. I added a bit of raw honey while it steeped. Yumm!

The tea as well as the tincture promotes a calm and happy mood. Lemon balm is known as the merry heart herb. All four of these herbs benefit mood and ease anxiety. Chamomile is also a gentle cleanser for the liver.

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I’ve really enjoyed using these herbs in tincture, herbal infusion and in a liniment. Showing that herbs have, sometimes, many benefitting uses both external and internal. Not all do, but some surely, as in this case do.

Lavender essential oil has some definite caution for internal use however!

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herbal terminology

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The tea!

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And let the music in your life be merry. Whatever gives you joy, makes you happy to sing along, hum a tune, play along or want to dance to!
Thankyou for joining me in this Liniment making Merriness and Best Wishes on Your Journey!

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Tincture Making Exploratorium! Herbal Tincture Apothecary.

Purple Aster
Dieteria bigelovii
Mullein
Verbascum thapsus
Grindelia
Grindelia aphanactis

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Grindelia

The Simpler’s method using these 3 wildcrafted herbs and 40% brandy are what I am starting with in my tincture making exploratorium!

I am very excited about this as I can see and feel that this will be lifelong endeavor of herbal tincture making! 🙂

Simpler’s Method

I am going to try the Simpler’s method with 80 proof Brandy! (40% alcohol)

excellent clear guide!

The above link by Annie’s Remedy describes Herbal Extracts in good detail. I have summed up here:

Herbal tinctures are herbs- whose healing, vital properties are extracted using either: alcohol, glycerin or vinegar.

These agents act as a solvent and this solvent is called a Menstruum.

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Alcohol is often used because it can result in a more potent tincture.

Alcohol acts as a solvent for many herbal compounds. And can more readily extract resins, waxes, fats, volatile oils, and other healing and assistive plant compounds, etc.

Water would then be necessary to extract water soluble components of the herbs. (for ex, I think herbal infusions such as teas, here…)

Since 80 proof (40% spirits) also contains water, I do not have to add water to my Menstruum.

Of course, there is also debate, tradition and research about how much alcohol proof will work optimally, according to each herb.
With this specific remedy, I know I will come up with a safe healing tincture so will be flexible in observing and feeling its healing effects. And therefore my dosage with it. My feelings are to start with least dosage first and go from there.

Also, for adults or children, where taking an alcohol tincture is unwanted due to the alcohol… some people opt for glycerin or vinegar tinctures. (Not white vinegar!)

My herb teacher said that it is a myth that alcohol dispels in hot water. So, I am going with that and would offer a glycerine or vinegar tincture instead.

Also, many teas are very effective medicines as many plant constituents are water soluble.

So, an herbal tea, syrup, medicated ghee, or herbal paste mixed with honey would be of benefit in some cases. Other methods abound! There are many herbal methods of preparation and therapeutic value for each or a combination of methods.

safety guide on which herbs to use!

Also tinctures have certain properties and the alcohol produces certain effects by itself. Tinctures are not a good health strategy for all conditions. Please see this next site, it is useful!

When to use tinctures!

And, this is something I want to put more into my herbalism methods. Harvest and make preparations according to the phases of the moon!

lunar based

It is suggested to make your tincture on the new moon and strain it on the full moon. The moon exerts physical properties on the liquid and the herbs and this method makes for a stronger tincture!

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New Moon

Image source: livingshamanically.com

wise woman herbalism

When using Everclear or 190 proof grain alcohol, it is necessary to add distilled water because it can burn the herbs. See site links above and below.

everclear and % alcohol in tinctures

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Huge Mullein leaves from a gorgeous plant!

Ideally it is suggested to pick mullein from the first year growth’s basal leaves in spring.

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Autumn basal leaves. A bit less vibrant.

I harvested the large, 2nd year growth leaves in autumn where the energy of the plant also went up the stalk to the flowers. (And roots) But there are still medicinal qualities in these leaves.

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Second year Mullein plants

And, it is bi-annual so will die soon. I gratefully harvested a few leaves from this majestic plant.

I may go back and harvest some seeds and flowers from the stalk. Make a therapeutic oil infusion. The flowers gently warmed in oil. Some people also add garlic. (Heat the mullein and oil…Not too hot as to kill the beneficial properties…) Mullein infused oil is a traditional herbal remedy for earaches. Many mothers depend on this remedy for their children!
Do Not Use Remedy on a perforated eardrum! or with any doubt!

mullein & garlic ear oil remedy

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* Also my Herb teacher, who also is trained in Ayurveda, mentioned that if you treat one ear, even if the other ear doesn’t hurt… treat both ears. In this case, using mullein oil, start by slowly massaging oil on the outside rim of the ear, then massage the whole, front part of the ear itself working your way eventually to the ear canal.

Then add a drop or two into the ear canal.
Then another drop when the oil goes in fully.
Do both ears the same way. For application, warm the oil, only slightly. The ear canal is very sensitive and the person being treated is already in pain, so just warm the oil a tiny bit to take off the cool/cold edge it might have. It also will help it to apply better when slightly warm. Not hot.

But please, seek precise herbal and/or ayurvedic advice on this as I have not tried it myself…yet! And seek a physician if need be!

Also, see mullein & garlic remedy above.

Mullein flowers

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mullein uses

And here is the outer human ear and its Reflexology points just for fun.

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image source

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Also delightful aster is going into this remedy!

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all about aster!

All 3 of these herbs have beneficial effects for respiratory conditions. I am making it to assist healing of colds and coughs.

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Reknowned herbalist Michael Moore put together an online manual. Not to be sold but happily shared.

It is a comprehensive guide on making
herbal tinctures. Including dosages for children, % alcohol needed for effective tincture, etc. Also, one of the reasons I chose to do the Simpler’s method… (see links in post) is that I do not yet, own a scale for weighing herbs. But, soon I will happily have some more useful tools… On my wishlist!

In the online manual, herbal formulae contain ratios.
For example:

1:5 70% alcohol.

Sometimes the word alcohol is omitted and just the percentage is listed in the ratio.

Such as: 1:5 70%

These numbers are just examples. The percentage equals the percentage of alcohol content in the menstruum. For example, I used 40% Brandy. For higher percentages of alcohol content a combination of distilled water and Everclear will equal, in this case, 70%. Other spirits such as Vodka can be 70% alcohol, etc.

More about herb:menstruum % ratios:

So for 1:5 ratio above, take 1 part weight of *herb (such as 1 ounce weight of herb) to 5 parts (or 5 ounces measured volume of the liquid menstruum) Make sure the alcohol is proper percentage so that the dosage given corresponds with healing intent of the herbal formula. Negative Side effects could occur if dosage too strong or weak.

(*herb matter in tinctures is called marc)

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The Ratio is: the marc by weight (use scale) in ratio to ounces by liquid volume (use measuring cup) of specific percentage menstruum.

Herbs vary considerably by weight. Something light and fluffy would take up a lot more space per equal weight of a dense root, for example.

Follow the proven, effective ratio regardless of density of herb. Not to say there isn’t inventiveness in coming up with herbal blends and formula. Although some formula are well proven, is all.

Ounces of liquid for volume are, of course, much different than ounces by weight for plant matter.

At first, I was mistaken and thought you could measure an ounce of plant material in a measuring cup! But, of course that doesn’t make sense. What if I chopped my herb too fine or not at all. The volume would be different. Oy! So, weigh your marc, plant material, on a scale!
Chemistry class…you are coming back to me.
Mr. Emerson you were hilarious, as almost were my grades… but, with tinctures I am getting there!

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The online source for the manual.

Herbal Tinctures in Clinical Practice. by Michael Moore.1996.

And remember, if you want to you can always try the Simpler’s method!

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Now to the tincture making. My first one!

Remember those beautiful, majestic Mullein leaves? In just two days they shrank considerably. They were soft and not totally crispy. Many people suggest using fresh herbs, not dried but all the herbs I used were not, for instance, sitting on a shelf somewhere for a year or more. So I feel confident of their healing properties being intact!

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Wildcrafting… I am so grateful!

Next I chopped and added the dried grindelia I had stored out of sunlight, in a cool place. Just a few weeks from my harvest of it.

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Then I chopped and added the daisy aster. It can go to seed and become mere seed puffs in just one day of picking but only one blossom seed puffed in two days. It had a delightful resin-y healing smell as did the grindelia.

It is good to chop/cut the herbs as this exposes more healing properties to the Menstruum.

The hints of purple in the jar is the aster!

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I am calling this my MEGA Tincture… for Mullein Grindelia and Aster! So good for respiratory ailments, tickly throat, nagging coughs and bronchial issues. I have had a nagging cough since April. And, perhaps, not so ironically as I research, think and write about all this, I have had a cold. Luckily, I saved some of my grindelia, that I dried to make a healing respiratory tea!

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The Grindelia that I then dried!

So pack the herbs in the jar. Don’t smoosh them down too much as you want the alcohol to get in and around all the herbs… but do fill and pack the jar.

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Add the alcohol slowly.

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And press down herbs again to submerge them in the alcohol. Leave an inch of alcohol over the herbs if you can. Make sure no air has contact with the herbs. Weigh down herbs with a sterilized rock if need be. Fill jar to the very top with alcohol.

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The herbs may swell when they absorb the liquid. Especially when using fresh material. Just check your tincture and add more alcohol if this happens. You always want the herbs completely covered by the alcohol.

Cover tightly and shake. Check for leaks when you hold it upside down and tighten down the hatches! Flip bottle over every other day so the herbs all get equally covered by the Menstruum. <—I like this word. 🙂

Shake it every day and get it constituted that way.

Most herbal tinctures take 4-6 weeks to set. Check it and see what you think and I will keep you posted too!

Here is my MEGA tincture.

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When you make it, Congratulations!
Tightly cover it and give it a shake!

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The next morning the colors are vivid!
And even 2 days later, it had a wonderful medicinal smell that smelled different than the brandy… = happy… medicinal effects are on its way.

Go tincture!

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Next step for your Herbal Apothecary!

Make a Label.

1. Put the date on it
2. The herbs and their Latin Binomials
3. What the Menstruum used is, in this case Brandy
4. What ailments the remedy is for.
(i.e. Respiratory, bronchial issues, nagging cough and wheezing cough in this case.)
5. Date tincture will be done!

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Happy health and healing to You! And best wishes on your tincture making adventures and apothecary herbal medicines!

Then when the time is up and your tincture is ready… get a funnel and some cheesecloth. Line the funnel or colander and strain out all the herbal goodness! Squeeze and wring out all the tincture from the herb.
Some people even use a press, such as an apple press.

It is recommended to store in a dark bottle such as an amber brown colored one. My herb teacher recommends to cap off your bottle.

Do not leave the rubber sealed dropper in your tincture as the alcohol will corrode the rubber of the dropper and then this corrosion is in your tincture! Also, make sure your dropper is made of glass as a plastic dropper will corrode your tincture too!

And, don’t forget to cap off between use! 🙂

Also be sure to strain this tincture as mullein has irritating fibers! As possibly does the aster. Strain it in any case!

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Mullein basal leaves in Autumn

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Grindelia with locust seed pod draped by nature!

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and Aster with seed puffs!

make a glycerin tincture

make a vinegar tincture

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Beautiful fall in the New Mexico Mountains

my post about Grindelia

my post about Mullein

Stay tuned for my next post on How to make a healing liniment!

Calendula Grindelia Liniment!

So good for poison ivy, contact dermatitis and skin irritations!

Field Notes and a Sound Walk. Finding Grindelia

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Walking to a favorite arroyo… maybe a 1/4 mile away. I have the most amazing nature hike. Nature is always all around. Even beneath layers of concrete. The earth is there. The air. The cosmos outside our bubble of atmosphere is I would guess a cosmic nature.

I feel so lucky to know, at least, some of the plants by name. To tap in and align with ancient knowledge. To hopefully join a stewardship of respect for these plants and trees. Water and sky. And to remember, I am part of nature. Not de-natured. But one and the same.

I heard on a radio show that humans are, most attuned, to register the sound of bird calls. Songbirds. Why? Because songbirds are always around sources of water. We have an affiliation with songbirds that has always led us to water.

We are. Nature.

listen

Acoustic Ecology

Soundwalking

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Apache Plume

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Yerba del Buey
Grindelia
Grindelia aphanactis
Family: Asteraceae

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Indian Paintbrush

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Grindelia

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Limoncillo

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Cleome

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Milkweed…beautiful but, this species likely toxic to humans.

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I don’t know what this is

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Clammy ground cherry

And more Grindelia
a.k.a. Curlycup gumweed

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And it has coarse toothed leaves especially the larger ones further down the stem

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With my chipped polish!

Flower head with sticky curled bracts

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Basal set of leaves

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Graffitti and Grindelia

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Harvest during milky stage of flowers going to seed soon. I also harvested yellow flower heads and leaves when plant was in this stage above.

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Wildcrafting pretty photo blur

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I found Grindelia on the bank of this arroyo.
This beautiful plant… captured my attention. Its beautiful flowers and seeds… a mystery plant to me.
Also a reminder, to respect all plants and to wildcraft ethically and with good discernment and respect for the plant and the land.

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Grindelia in its sunny glory. Also known as gum plant as it has a sticky resin to it.

Medicinally it is a good expectorant and good for bronchial coughs and dry hacking coughs. Oh how I wish I had some Grindelia tea this past April!

It also makes a soothing skin salve. A tincture made with alcohol is recommended to help heal and dry up poison oak/ivy rash.

Also according to: Dunmire and Tierney’s book: Wild Plants of the Pueblo Province., 1995… p.p. 219-220

Uses include: waxes and resins in the U.S. and Europe. Also makes a good yellow dye.

Also the book sites various Puebloan uses… such as: a tea drunk for kidney problems, dried boiled herb parts with liquid added to clean abrasions, ground herbs applied to skin sores and a sticky blossom on an aching tooth.

I plan on making a tea after drying the flowers and leaves. And also making a healing salve with the dried leaves and flowers.

I will dry these tomorrow

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I did dry them… and now as I edit this post… I feel achey and a sore throat. I am having tea and honey now but I am going to make a Grindelia tea when I get home tomorrow morning. Feeling grateful that I have some Grindelia healing herb for a tea!

Meanwhile, I am saving most of my Grindelia along with Mullein and Aster for a healing respiratory tincture! I will keep you posted shortly!

history and use of Grindelia for lungs and skin aid!

Aster is a healing plant for respiratory problems too…

Aster Heals!

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So much to learn and discover.
On my own, nearby nature hike to an arroyo.
Some familiar plants.
Some new.
Songbirds happy with the weather and the recent rain.
A Sound walk.
Where I can listen.
Listen
And be in harmony with hearing.
Hearing what is offered. What needs to be still. What can be harvested or let alone. From hearing to listening and I am just beginning.
But at least beginning…
and joyfully.

Con alegría
Yerba del Buey

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Michael Moore Herbalist. Online Manual for Tinctures

Includes information on Grindelia

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Beautiful poetry…almost made me cry.
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poetry by John Luther Adams…acoustic ecology. “The Place Where You Go To Listen.”

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A spring in a desert arroyo.

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Posted Sites and these texts for Sources:

Wild Plants of the Pueblo Province. Exploring Ancient And Enduring Uses.
By, William Dunmire and Gail Tierney, Museum of New Mexico Press, Santa Fé. 1995.

Medicinal Plants of the Mountain West. by, Michael Moore, Museum of New Mexico Press, 2003.