The Druid Herbalist

An ongoing journey with the healing power of plants


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Herbs for the Heart

Apologies for the huge gap since last posting!

With the hawthorn in full bloom, it’s time to celebrate the wonderful properties that hawthorn and other herbs can provide for our circulatory system. As always, please talk to a qualified herbalist before taking any medicine, as there may be contraindications, especially if you are pregnant or are already on medication.

Welcome in the May!

Hawthorn (Crataegus oxycanthus) – leaf, blossom and berry

Hawthorn is a good heart tonic, beta blocker, protects the heart muscle, prevents heart attacks, is a vaso-dilator (peripheral), helps promote sleep and is the best herb for blood circulation.  It regulates low blood pressure, steadies the heartbeat and lowers cholesterol.  It contains chemical compounds that keep blood vessels open, and it vital where vessels lack tone and are inert due to fatty or calcium deposits.  It lessens pain in the heart and adjacent areas, re-elasticates blood vessel walls (through rutin), rebuilds collagen fibres in outer layers of vessels and is a powerful anti-oxidant, as well as being rich in vitamin C.  It reduces inflammation, relaxes the smooth muscles of the uterus, intestines and other areas to relieve congestion and reduces water retention (bloating before period).  It also aids digestion and eases sore throats.

This herb is to be used as a tea, syrup (berries) and as a tincture.

*Not to be used with other beta-blockers or heart drugs/herbs. Please consult a qualified herbalist if on heart/blood pressure medication of any kind.

 

Cayenne (Capsicum annum) – fruit

Cayenne is a brilliant styptic (stops blood flow from wounds). It equalises blood pressure and is good for heart attack or stroke victim recovery as it strengthens the heart and improves circulation. It dilates the arteries and protects from damage. It aids in heat tolerance, stimulates endorphins and is a good treatment for migraines (prevention and cure).  It also reduces the tendency for blood clots. It aids digestion, is a cathartic and also relieves sore throats.

This herb can be used in cooking, in capsule form (powder) or as a tincture (HOT!).

*There are contra-indications with this herb, especially for asthma sufferers.

 

Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria) – flowers

Meadowsweet is an analgesic, antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory and anti-rheumatic. It thins the blood, is astringent and also works as a diuretic. It balances stomach acid as is good for treating diarrhoea. It is also good for treating colds and flu, headaches and reduces fever.  It is an excellent pain reliever and is also good for cystitis and urethritis, breaking down kidney stones and gravel.

This herb is used as a tea, tincture, glycerite and compress.

*There are contra-indications present, especially if you are on anti-coagulant medication such as for a stroke.

 

Motherwort (Leonorus Cardiaca) – herb  *Lionheart

Motherwort is a good heart tonic. It reduces blood pressure and lowers cholesterol, also reducing hardening of the arteries.  It is a galactagogue and also a sedative. It is anti-spasmodic and aids in nervous complaints. It also reduces pain from angina pectoris.  It helps treat migraines and panic attacks, and is good for menopause.  It helps correct anemia, flatulence and diarrhoea.

This herb is used as a tincture, tea or powder (capsule)

*There are contra-indications, especially with pregnant women.

 

Gingko (Gingko Biloba) – leaf

Gingko slows ageing and reduces the risk of stroke.  It helps with anxiety and depression, improves blood flow to the brain (good for Alzheimers and demetia sufferers) and is also beneficial for diminishing eyesight.  It helps treat Raynaud’s Syndrome as well as preventing blood clots.  It improves recovery in heart attack victims and those who have suffered head traumas. It also aids with varicose veins and other circulatory conditions.  It is an anti-asthmatic, antispasmodic and an anti-inflammatory, as well as inhibiting immune-based disorders.  It also treats depression, dizziness and tinnitus.

This herb can be used as a tea, powder (capsules) or tincture.

*There are contra-indications for this herb, please see a qualified herbalist before taking it.

 

Lime (Tilia europa) – flowers  *Linden

Lime is a natural anti-spasmodic. It opens the arteries, reduces high blood pressure, hardening of the arteries and eases nervous palpitations.  It helps migraines, relieves sinus headaches, eases stress and nervous tension and helps in cold and flu.  It is very palatable and sweet-tasting – a popular herb with children in France. The cold tea is especially beneficial for hot flushes.

This herb is used as a tea (hot and cold) and as a tincture.

*There are contra-indications for this herb, especially for those on blood pressure medication.

 

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officianalis) – leaf

Rosemary stimulates blood flow to the brain, thereby aiding memory, easing migraines and improving circulation. It eases varicose veins, helps with low blood pressure and helps treat wounds.  It calms anxiety, helps hair regrowth, is an anti-inflammatory and also aids in loss of appetite  and other digestive problems. It works well with liver and gall bladder complaints, menstrual problems, eczema and toothache.  It is also known as a remedy for exhaustion.

This herb is used as a tea, gargle, wine, salve, bath, herb pillow, in cooking and as a tincture.

*There are contra-indications for this herb

 

Common Circulatory Complaint: High Blood Pressure

Three ways to relieve symptoms:

  1. Diet – change to low in salt and fat, meat-free if possible
  2. Use hawthorn tincture – care must be taken if other heart medications are used
  3. Meditation – mindfulness meditation to calm and reduce stress, creating compassion for self and others

 

Bibliography:

Bruton-Seal, J. & Seal, M. (2009) Hedgerow Medicine: Harvest and Make Your Own Herbal Remedies, Merlin Unwin Press

Davies, J. R. (2000) Healing Herbs: Hawthorn – Crataegus Monogyna, Penguin

Hopman, E. E. (2008) A Druid’s Herbal of Sacred Tree Medicine, Destiny Books

Künkele, U. & Lohmeyer, T.R. (2007) Herbs for Healthy Living: Recognition, Gathering, Use and Effect, Paragon

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Summer Madness

hawthornThings have been so busy here – I apologise for not posting as often as I’d like!  This month I am studying the heart and circulatory system, and herbs that benefit and aid both.  It’s a lot of hard work, going back and re-learning all my human anatomy and biology from over 25 years back when I was in high school! Thinking about blood, veins, arteries and the like always makes me a bit queasy, but I got through it 🙂

I went out yesterday and collected hawthorn, elderflower and birch leaves. I’ve made a hawthorn tincture with half of the harvest straight away, and am drying the other half of the leaves and flowers in my airing cupboard.  Put the flowers and leaves in a blender and cover with brandy, mix it up and then place in a jar in a cool, dark place for 1 month.  Strain and use as directed.

Hawthorn is such a wonderful plant, medicinally and spiritually. Medicinally, it is a heart tonic, a beta blocker (regulates rhythm and blood pressure), the best herb for circulation, protects the heart muscle, prevents heart attacks, helps promote sleep and is good for heartache (of all kinds).  Special care must be taken with hawthorn is one is one any sort of heart medication – seek out a qualified herbalist if you intend to use this and are on any medication!

Spiritually, it is the favourite fairy tree in folklore.  It is also one of the ogham trees in Druidry.  For a good blog post about the spiritual aspects of hawthorn, please see my friend Danu Forest’s post on SageWoman HERE.  (Note: she states that it is unlucky to bring hawthorn blossom into the house, and I would agree if you are using it simply as decoration – it’s always much better on the tree anyway, and good for bees and other wildlife. However, as a herbcraft practitioner, it is perfectly safe to bring indoors to use in your work.)

The elderflowers I am drying to use with some dried oak leaves I collected a couple of weeks ago, for a tea to treat coughs.  In the autumn when the elderberries are out I will collect those as well and add them to the mix.

The birch leaves I collected for a birch leaf tea, which is a good all around body tonic and quite refreshing.  The bark and sap are also really good spring tonics, but it is too late to collect the sap – it should be done before the leaves come out.  When collecting the bark, do not “ring” the trunk of the tree – instead collect some twigs and branches and use the inner bark of these.

Note: when collecting tree leaves, do so before the summer solstice, as afterward they may contain too many plant alkaloids.  reference: Ellen Evert Hopman, A Druid’s Herbal of Sacred Tree Medicine.