Friday, May 20, 2011

Medicinal Herb Walk at Bucktoe Creek Preserve

 (Photos by Lori Schnick-Ryan of Bucktoe Creek)

The medicinal herb walk at Bucktoe Creek Preserve last Sunday was so much fun. The weather was a bit chancy, but folks turned out to learn about the gifts of the wild medicine. It was great to meet Casey and Eli of Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative and Lancaster Farmacy as we took turns sharing how we each used the medicinal plants we found along our walk. The plants have so much to teach us, and there is always more to learn. It is always such a great feeling to share the gifts of the plants, but even more wonderful to learn more about them myself. This walk was both for me.

As we gathered back at the tables for herbal tea and food, one woman commented about how she wished she had learned this information in school. Yes, wouldn't it have been nice to actually have learned some life skills while growing up. We have lost our connection to the earth and her gifts and the knowledge of how to use them. I believe the loss of that connection has caused much of the problems we now face. But there is a longing to reconnect. Getting to know the medicinal plants and how to use them is just one way to reconnect with Gaia and, as Casey mentioned, re-wild ourselves. We are a part of the environment we live in, and our health is directly connected to the greater health of the living earth around us. This is yet another aspect of herbal medicine as people's medicine. For connecting with the living plants reconnects us to Nature, and that in itself is good medicine.


Monday, May 16, 2011

Herbal Medicine/ People's Medicine--Creeping Charlie

I have a feeling that most gardeners know this plant very well, though perhaps not by name. Creeping Charlie is also known as ground ivy and gill-over-the-ground. It is often found taking over flower beds at a rapid pace and many years before I began using herbs as medicine I spent long hours pulling buckets full of Gill out of my beds. But Gill is a medicinal plant as has it's own gifts to offer. It represents to me the epitome of people's medicine, because not only is it likely growing in your yard right now, but you would be hard pressed to find this herb sold in any form at the health food store.

Gill is a bitter tonic, and one of the first plants in the spring we harvest to bring us out of winter's slump. The whole above ground plant is very nutritive and high in vitamin C. We add it to our smoothies and chop it into salads. You could also add it to cooked dishes.

As a tea, Gill is warming and toning. It can be used to treat coughs, colds, bronchitis and fever. Drink it warm to induce sweating if you are in bed with a cold, or let it cool first if you do not need it's febrifuge property.

Use Gill as a poultice for wounds or squeeze out the juice to rub on bruises. 

Gerard, a 16th century English herbalist, has written that Creeping Charlie "purgeth the head from rheumatic humours flowing from the brain." I'm not exactly sure what he meant by that, but it sounds like a good thing.