Sunday, July 28, 2013

Vitex agnus-castus

One of the first plants I became intimate with is Vitex or chaste berry.  I was first learning about herbs (or should I say remembering what was deep in my bones) when I started to experience excruciating pain each month.  It turns out I had ovarian cysts that grew each month with my cycle and were determined on letting me know where my ovaries were in my body.  The doctors of course wanted to put me on birth control pills to stop the cycle and the pain.  I said no.
Knowing what I was dealing with I was sure I could fix the problem naturally.  I had heard about Vitex agnus-castus and was willing to give it a try.  It was said to take up to three months to show results.  I could handle that.  I didn’t want to take pharmaceuticals if I didn’t have to.  I had been on the pill for years as it seemed the easiest option for birth control for me.  It worked.  But, not needing to use birth control any more thanks to my dear hubby I was free to go without medication.  For me a half dropper of tincture every morning worked like a charm.  The cysts went away.  Every so often I feel a twinge but I can live with that.  And it is only once or twice a year.
As I became familiar with Vitex I learned a lot about her qualities.  She is known as a reproductive tonic. She has the effect of stimulating and normalizing pituitary gland functions, especially in progesterone function.  She normalizes or balances female sex hormones.  This makes her an ally to women of all ages.  Both my daughters have found her helpful in their teen years when their menstrual cycles were finding their rhythm. They have experienced fewer cramps, lighter periods and less acne once taking Vitex.  Prior to taking Vitex they had very heavy painful periods.  She can also be beneficial during menopausal changes.  She can aid your body in regaining hormonal balance after the use of birth control pills.  She can increase breast milk production.  She can shorten long periods and lengthen short periods.
It is her fruit that we use as medicine.  Her dark berries are picked when ripe in the late fall and dried.  The berries can then be made into a tincture or an infusion.  An infusion is what I refer to as a strong tea – hot water is poured over the berries and steeped for 15 to 20 minutes.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

St. John's Wort

Look who showed up. Hypericum perforatum in all his glory came to the party. I was told that you could plant St John’s Wort in your garden and that he might even grow for a season but, he may or may not return.  And if he returns to your garden it will be in a completely different spot than the year before.  So, I have admired him from afar.  I have looked for him when hiking and traveling but he has remained elusive until this year. 
On a walk to the backyard to hang the laundry I spotted him.  I was shocked that this beautiful yellow flowering plant had escaped my husband and the weed whacker.  And then when I came closer I realized that I had a special visitor to my garden. I thanked him for coming and told him he was welcome to stay and multiply. And then I quickly grabbed my hubby and threatened him and his weed whacker if he ventured too near. 
My one visitor is not enough to harvest only admire. But, I found an untouched patch near home. I asked if I could take their beautiful blossoms for oil.  They kindly agreed.  I came home with a beautiful bouquet that I meticulously dismantled.  The blossoms went in a mason jar and were covered in olive oil.  The yellow blossoms turned the oil a beautiful red.  This will be strained in a few weeks and bottled in an amber bottle.  Some of the oil will find its way into a salve.
St John’s Wort is often thought of for depression and this has validity but today I want to focus on the reason I picked and infused this flower in oil.  It is great topically for nerve and joint pain.  It can be used for small abrasions, bug bites and burns.  It is anti-inflammatory and helps when used on strains and sprains. For those days you have worked a little too hard in the garden (or on that hike) a gentle massage with some St John’s Wort oil is heavenly.  I keep a small bottle in my first aid kit. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

What's in a name?

You may wonder where the name Raven’s Edge came from.  When I first learned to make soap I wanted a label.  The label would list the ingredients, the scent and the date I made it.  All this was useful information.  But, what is a label without a name.  So, as I pondered what I would call my soap I thought about life around me.

I love watching the birds in my yard.  I have planted many flowers and trees to attract them to my yard.  I do not put out seed as this attracts the bears in the area.  I don’t mind the bears wandering through the yard as they often do I would rather they not stop for extended periods of time.  Crow frequently visits.  I love watching him walk across the yard.  So I took my attraction to crow and named it after his larger cousin the raven.

I live on a hill and over look the valley below.  It is a beautiful view of green, of trees and hills.  I can watch the storms roll in from the West.  I am amazed by the fog that lingers in the valley and the blue sky I see above it.  This hill became a mountain in my mind.   My perch became the edge of that mountain.

In the print program I was using I could not find an image of raven but several images for crow came up.  This whimsical image is the one I chose to represent me and my manifestations.