Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Why I am shutting down my blog permanently.

I have a big announcement and, I have to admit, it’s a bit bittersweet for me. 

Over the next few months I am going to be moving all the information from this blog to my newly designed site HerbalRemediesAdvice.org. Once I move everything over I’ll be shutting this blog down.  

I know some of you really value this website and I want to share with you the story behind it and why I am moving on. 

I started this blog in 2008. I had just moved to the Methow Valley at the time and had high speed internet at the house for the first time in a long time. At that time there wasn’t a whole lot going on in the herbal internet world but it was inspiring! There were only a few blogs like Kristine Brown’s, Kiva’s and Darcey’s. Henriette, jim mcdonald and LearningHerbs had their great sites. There were a couple of herbal forums like the Herbwifery forum and Susun Weed. I loved it all and I wanted to be a part of it! 

So I started my own blog. My vision for my blog was that I would share my own herbal adventures in the Methow Valley: wild plant hikes, wild food harvesting and herbal preparations, etc. Oh the blog parties we used to have! 

Over time my readers grew. I grew as an herbalist and my vision for my own herbal calling evolved. 

My most recent vision for my blog was that I wanted it to be an abundant resource of information for herbalists. Besides my in-depth herbal articles I also wanted to highlight what was going on in the grassroots herbal world. So I hosted a blogroll with hundreds of blogs. I created an herbal bookshelf with all my favorite herbal books and I even hosted a page for herbal CSAs. 

Then about three years ago I created a new website. It took me about 9 solid months of work to lay the groundwork. This site was totally different from my blog. I wrote this site for people who were looking for natural solutions to their chronic health problems, not necessarily herbalists. That site also began to grow. 

And now, with two popular herbal websites, it has admittedly gotten too complex and confusing. 

People ask, “What’s your website?” And I have to pause and then say something like, “Well, if you want this type of information go here but if you want this other type of information go here…” Not too long ago my dad told me that he wanted to give my website link to someone but he was just too confused about which one was best. 

If my own dad is confused then it’s time to get some clarity. 

I spent a lot of time thinking about what to do about the two sites. At one point I considered getting a whole new website, but in the end decided I didn’t want to start over from scratch. 

So, after a lot of thought, I’ve decided to have only one website and the one that made the most sense was www.HerbalRemediesAdvice.org

Over the next few months we’ll be slowly moving the best articles from my blog to HerbalRemediesAdvice.org

I hope that by combining my two sites it will be a better resource for you! 

I have spent the past two months working with a designer to totally transform the new site. (It really needed an update, something my dad also informed me of). And for the past several weeks my husband has been working non-stop to get it all programmed. If you know Xavier you know he’d rather be in the woods or tanning hides. I am so grateful for his work! 

So there you have it! Admittedly this is a bit bittersweet because I love my blog. My blog was 100% me. I did the design, 95% of the photos are mine, the writing (for better or for worse) was mine and I’ve handled everything on that site now for 8 years. What’s more is I’ve cherished all the support I’ve gotten from so many of you with your comments and shares. 

However, I am very excited to have one website and I am committed to continually improve that site so that it is an increasingly valuable resource for you all. 

Please come check out the new site! 



Also I have a gift for you all! 

I wrote a new ebook: Top 3 Herbs For Your Health. 
Visit www.HerbalRemediesAdvice.org to get your free copy.  

Thanks for reading about this transition. I really wanted to share my story with you and thank you for supporting this blog over the years. It’s an honor to be an herbalist and I am privileged to share that journey with you. 


Onwards! 

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Herbal Intensive in the Methow Valley



Last year 19 people from around the world traveled to take a week long herbal intensive with me in the south of France. 

We had an amazing time. 

Which got me to thinking... I live in one of the most beautiful places in North America. I could invite people to do the same thing in my own valley! 

In July of this year I am hosting an herbal intensive for herbalists who want to learn more about using herbs for chronic diseases. 

We will cover important topics in the classroom (including tongue and pulse diagnosis), explore the beauty of this amazing valley and we'll even make beautiful floral scarves and learn about growing medicinal herbs organically.

Interested? 


I also have a brand new ebook for you! 

You can download your copy of 6 Medicinal Plants of the Methow Valley when you sign up to hear more about the course. 





Does spending a week learning about herbs in a beautiful location sound fun to you? If so, I hope you'll join me. 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Monday, November 24, 2014

Best Earl Grey Tea

This page has moved. 
Please go to http://www.herbalremediesadvice.org/best-earl-grey-tea.html 
to read about the Best Earl Grey Tea Recipe.




Monday, November 17, 2014

Giving Credit and Citing Sources


Lately I’ve been asked by several people about the correct way to cite sources or provide references within herbal articles. 

While I don’t feel like I am the most qualified person to answer this I thought I would take a stab at it. I would love to hear other’s comments below or in their own blog posts. 









First I would like to break this up into two different categories. 

1. Citing sources when writing a book or a professional article (such as for the JAHG)
2. Citing sources in more informal circumstances such as blog posts, class materials/handouts, etc. 

The method of citations in professional circumstances is usually determined by the publication itself. They will provide you with citation guidelines such as which citation format to use. In these types of publications citations will be more frequent. You’ll need to provide citations for any claims you make, any studies you reference or any material that is not strictly your own. 

For the purposes of this article I am going to focus on more informal circumstances since this is what most commonly effects the herbalists I work with. 

Here are four things that need to be cited. 

  • Ideas and concepts learned from other sources. 
  • Quotes
  • Recipes
  • Any claims about herbs. (For example, instead of merely writing “studies show,” provide citations to specific studies.)

Why should you provide citations at all? 

If you look around at the majority of herbal articles written by grassroots herbalists you’ll see that citations and references are few and far between. Is it even necessary? 

YES! 

Here are some important reasons why citations are important. 

1. Honoring and respecting other herbalists

Citing or referencing the original source who inspired you or who you have learned from is a way to honor and respect that source of information. 

Sometimes people may feel that saying they learned something from somewhere else puts them in a bad light. Not at all! First of all we all learned everything somewhere. None of us were born knowing any facts about herbalism or any recipes or any diagnostics. We all had to learn this from somewhere, whether that be another herbalist, a medical researcher or a plant! 

Taking the time to acknowledge our teachers is a way to honor and respect them. I love to remember my teachers while I am teaching and writing. It gives me a sense of purpose and helps remind me that I am part of a greater whole. I don’t stand alone, I am standing on the shoulders of my own teachers. 

2. You’ll be taken more seriously. 

Are you trying to change people’s opinions? To help them see the value of medicinal herbs? 

Writing an article with a lot of claims about medicinal herbs, but without supporting evidence, will make people question the validity of what you are saying. 

3. Not citing materials reflects poorly on your integrity

Whether you are doing it out of ignorance or maliciousness, repeating information that you learned from someone else or using other people’s recipes without referencing that original source makes you look dishonest and unethical. 

4. It helps prevent “herban legends”

The act of questioning long held-assumptions by looking for proof can help prevent herbal myths. 

It has been a common occurrence that myths about herbs get repeated over and over because no one has stepped in to question the validity of the statement. An example of this is goldenseal. You will commonly hear that goldenseal is a broad-spectrum antibiotic that is good for colds and the flu. Yikes! 

In his stellar book on Echinacea and Goldenseal Paul Bergner writes extensively about why goldenseal is not an antibiotic. He cites traditional sources as well as modern day studies to prove his point. I wonder, would goldenseal have been as unethically over-harvested if it hadn’t been wrongly portrayed as a “broad-spectrum antibiotic?” 

5. Using copyrighted information without citations can violate copyright laws. 

Up until now I’ve focused on why you may choose to cite something based on your integrity and respect for other herbalists. But the fact of the matter is that a lot of information is copyrighted. Using copyrighted information as your own is against the law. This most often refers to printed materials such as books and magazine articles as well as electronic information, including ebooks and even blog posts. 

How do you know you need to cite another herbalist or source? 

Knowing when it is necessary to provide citations can be somewhat of a judgement call. 

Some knowledge is considered general knowledge that wouldn’t need to be attributed to one single person. For example, you might say in an article that rose hips are high in vitamin C. If this were an informal article you probably wouldn’t need to cite that since that information is readily found anywhere. If this were a more scientific or professional article you may want to cite a study showing this to be true. 

I cite herbalists when I know I learned that specific piece of information from them whether that is an idea or concept. I also attribute direct quotes and give credit for recipes…

What about recipes? 

Basic recipes such as how to make a syrup, an elixir or tincture don’t need to be cited. 

If you are using someone’s specific recipe then you need to give credit and you may possibly need permission. 

There’s a general rule of thumb that if you dramatically change a recipe in three ways then it can become “yours” and no citation is needed. However, if you are highly inspired by someone’s herbal recipe then it’s just good manners to say “This was inspired by…”

How do you cite sources? 

Specific formats
As a reminder, there are specific sets of guidelines for citations in every profession. The APA format is specifically for behavioral sciences but is a popular and easy to follow format. You can see a tutorial of the APA format here.  

Another popular style is the MLA. This is commonly used in the liberal arts and humanities. You can read more about this style here

Need help with formatting your citation? Herbalist and friend Victoria Debra Bray told me about this citation machine which helps you generate citations within a certain format.  

Informal
I cite sources informally by citing the person and, if applicable, the article, book, study or course where that specific information is included. I generally cite this within the article as well as at the end in a resources section. Keep in mind that this is truly informal and is not up to professional standards. 

Attribution of Quotes
If you are quoting someone word for word then you’ll need to attribute that quote. This applies whether or not the quote comes from an article or book or from a personal conversation. Here’s a guide on quote attribution in the MLA style. 

Can you copy and paste entire articles or blog posts onto your own website as long as you give credit? 

No. 

There are two reasons why you should never copy and paste entire blog posts and put them on your own blog or website. 

The first reason is that it is illegal to take an entire article and copy and paste it somewhere else, even if you provide a link back to the original source. It violates copyright law. 

The second reason is that this really doesn’t help you and can actually hinder you as far as search engines go. Search engines have little bots running around to determine how far up sites should rank in their search engines. If you have duplicated content on your site then search engines will penalize you by putting your site lower on the search engine rankings. Unfortunately, if you steal my entire articles/blog posts for your own site we both get penalized. 

If you really want to share someone’s article on your own website the best thing to do is include a paragraph to introduce the article along with a link back to the entire original article. 

Summary

Providing citations and resources within your herbal articles is a way to show respect to your teachers and substantiate any claims you make. Besides showing personal integrity, citations also mean that you can avoid plagiarism of copyrighted materials, which can become a legal matter. 

For most grassroots herbalists, using informal citations will probably suffice; however, I could see a good argument for adopting professional standards, especially for those who want to be seen as professionals. 


Resources and citations

Echinacea and Goldenseal by Paul Bergner




Monday, November 10, 2014

Orange Elecampane Bitters Recipe

This page has moved. 
Please go to http://www.herbalremediesadvice.org/herbal-bitters-recipe.html
to read about the Orange Elecampane Bitters Recipe.




Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Monday, October 27, 2014

Your Key to Winter Wellness

Tired of being sick all winter long? 

Interested in using herbs instead of over the counter medicines? 

I've got a brand new herbal chart to help you choose the best herbs for your cold and flu symptoms. It also covers herbs to prevent you from getting sick. 

You can download it for free AND see a video I created on the three different types of coughs and the best herbs for each cough. 

Download the chart for free by clicking here


Monday, September 15, 2014

Ashwagandha Benefits

This page has moved. 
Please go to http://www.herbalremediesadvice.org/ashwagandha-benefits.html  
to read about Ashwagandha Benefits.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Benefits of Coriander


This page has moved. 
Please go to http://www.herbalremediesadvice.org/coriander-benefits.html 
to read about Coriander Benefits.






Friday, April 11, 2014

Lemon Balm Iced Tea Recipe Card


Do you have kids in your life? 

Herb Fairies is an amazing resource for inspiring children to explore herbalism. 


This book club was creating by my friends and affiliate partners John and Kimberly from LearningHerbs. It's a complete book club with stories, activities, journals and other inspiring ways for your kids to learn about plants and their remedies. 


When I first read the HerbFairies stories I was inspired to create an herbal cookbook to to along with the stories. For the next week only you can download an ebook with 13 recipes that are perfect for making with kids.  


You can download a free herbal cookbook I wrote for a limited time by clicking this link. 



I also have a special recipe card for you to download today. Here's a sneak peak at some of the fun recipes and activities included in the HerbFairies book club. 


Click on the image below to download your recipe card. 






Learn more about HerbFairies and download your free cookbook by clicking the image below. 



Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Violet Herb - A guest post by jim mcdonald


I am very honored to be hosting this guest post from Michigan Herbalist jim mcdonald.

jim is one of my favorite herbalists to learn from. He has a rare gift of sharing his unique herbal insights through wonderful analogies and his eclectic wit. Spending time with jim means a lot of laughing as well as gaining insights into the plant world you don't hear anywhere else. 

jim offers a Four Season Herbal Intensive that gives students a core foundation in herbal energetics in western herbalism with a strong focus on bioregional herbs. 

Participants will learn how to become herbalists who make their own herbal preparations to address the health and wellness of themselves and their friends and family from the plants that grow around them 

If you are interested in expanding your herbal knowledge I highly recommend studying with jim. He has a limited amount of spaces left in his herbal intensive, contact him ASAP if you are interested.







Scientific name: any of numerous Viola species 
Family: Violaceae
Energetics: cooling, moistening
Foundational actions: primarily demulcent; astringent, bitter as indicated by taste.  Some species have aromatic flowers.

Here at my home in southeast Michigan these early March days have gotten warmer, hinting of the coming Spring, but there’s still a few feet of snow covering everything, making the promise of tender green leaves feel farther away than perhaps it is.  Recently, I’ve taken to standing at the top of my ice covered driveway and looking under the 5 feet of plowed up snow, beneath which a multitude of violets are sleeping.  I’m seriously feening those violets.  

There are many species of violet, and as a genus they are prolific… the USDA website indicates Viola species grow in every state and province in North America, though it’s important to note that 33 species are threatened or endangered in at least part of their range.  Fortunately, most species tend to grow in abundant stands, covering the ground with their (often) heart shaped leaves and welcoming spring with their delicate blossoms.  Despite the common name "violet", they flowers range from the palest of blues to white and yellow in addition to the light purple “violet” we imagine.  The heartsease pansy, Viola tricolor, offers three colors in one, but I’ve not yet seen it growing in the wild in the part of Michigan in which I live.  Interestingly, the springtime blossom of the violet isn't a reproductive flower - these appear in late summer and are an inconspicuous green.  The violet's spring blossoms have therefore been seen as a celebration of life and the rebirth of Spring, and are believed to banish despair and "comfort and strengthen the heart."

I collect leaves and flowers each spring, and have found that if you keep picking them, new leaves (though not flowers) keep growing; therefore, the plant is available for year round consumption.  Lise Wolff, of Minneapolis, prefers to collect older leaves in the summer.  I find violet sensitive to degradation, so be sure to store it in glass away from heat or light.  The demulcent and nutritive qualities are more stable, its lymphatic actions seem less so.  Violet seeds and roots contain a constituent that acts as an emetic, and are not regularly used.  As mentioned above, there are threatened and endangered viola species.  Know the status of what you collecting in your area.  “There’s a lot of them” doesn’t cut it; you can find local abundance amidst regional scarcity.




Medicinally, “violets” (on the whole, members of the genus seem broadly interchangeable) are exemplary in demonstrating that immense benefit needn’t be associated with the dramatic strength and medicinal intensity… something we should all try to keep in mind.  On a foundational level, violets nourish.  First and foremost: eat them.  They’re delicious; when the leaves are young and tender they’re sweet and green tasting; as they get older, some species develop more bitterness, perhaps some astringency.  Add them liberally to salads, and pluck some out of the ground whenever you walk by.  Oddly, for all the popularity of nourishing infusions in the herbal community, violets are still, in my opinion, too rarely prepared as such.  Violet is rich in minerals, and especially abundant in vitamins A & C. They’re a perfect alternative or addition to those who try nettles, and find its diuretic effect too drying for their constitution.  Whereas many will suggest adding marshmallow or licorice (licorice has never sounded even remotely tasty to me), I find violet a much better compliment.  Indeed, it might be the case that those with drier constitutions should think in terms of adding some nettle to their violet infusions.  To most effectively extract the nutrition from violets, add an ounce of dried leaves & flowers to a quart of water just off the boil and steep overnight.  A wondrous sippin’ tea can be made by steeping any arbitrary amount of fresh or dried leaves/flowers in hot water till cool enough to sip.  Although nutrients are probably less efficiently extracted from the fresh plant, the tea just tastes wholesome and healthful.  Mince up the fresh leaves fine to optimize extraction.   

Oh, wait… how do you know if you have a dry constitution?  That’s a good question.  Is your mouth frequently dry?  Your throat?  If you get a head or chest cold, do your mucous membranes tend to feel dry and tight, as opposed to stuffy and congested?  Is your skin dry?  Do you tend to have darker, stronger smelling urine?  Those are good indicators.  Of course, hydration is important, and getting enough good quality fats and oils in the diet.  But violet will help in addition to that, especially for dryness of the mucous membranes.


Violets contain a mucilage that accounts for a substantial portion of its medicinal merit, and this quality can easily be experienced by simply munching on the plant's delicious leaves and flowers, which will release the slippery mucilage... the more mucilaginous, the more potent the medicinal virtues associated with that.  Mucilage coats, soothes and lubricates tissues, which will ease the pain of inflammation and promote the healing of those tissues.  The fresh leaves can be chewed for a sore throat (try keeping a wad in your cheek, the way some people chew tobacco), or a tincture or tea of the plant used.  The mucilage also helps to loosen and expel mucous from the lungs when it’s too dry for coughing to expel.  A mild tea of fresh or dried violet leaves can be made into a nasal rinse by added ¼ teaspoon salt per 8 ounce cup of well strained tea, and it is wonderfully soothing when dryness accompanies inflammation of the sinuses.  This same preparation can be used as an eyewash and is really quite impressive; use it when the eyes are dry and blinking feels like someone’s scratching sandpaper over your cornea.  For both eye and nasal rinses, it combines well with a slew of other herbs, from plantain to strawberry leaves to purple loosestrife (I almost always use plantain).  Violets have a reputation for acting as a laxative; this results from the mucilage helping to lubricate the intestines, helping to ease the passage of stool if it is inhibited by dryness.  Along the way, it will help soothe corollary inflammation.  To really manifest violet’s full potential here, infusions are preferable to tinctures, as they provide a volume of liquid to bathe and coat the tissues of the digestive tract.  Topically, violet oil or salve helps ease the discomfort of hemorrhoids: apply liberally.  Sits in violet infused sitz baths are likewise helpful.  Chewed violet leaves, perhaps with a bit of honey, can be applied to corns and can sometimes soften calluses and tough skin.  They would also make an appropriate poultice for any hot, inflamed swelling, be it bite or boil.  


Violets also seem to act notably upon the lymphatics, and are quite useful in acute congested states.  If you’re just getting sick, your glands are swollen, tender and hot to the touch, violet internally and topically can be immensely helpful.  I have a tendency to use a tincture of the fresh plant for internal use, though I may add this to a tea of the dried leaves and flowers, especially if the tonsils are swollen and inflamed.  The topical applications usually feel immediately soothing.  Violet can address older, chronic, “stuck” lymphatics as well, as it “softens” hardnesses to resolve blockage.  So, those swollen, tender and hot-to-the-touch glands?  They’re not tender and hot to the touch anymore, but they are still swollen, and they feel hard when you press on them.  In such cases, I feel violet combines well with a small amount of poke; like violet, internally as tincture (1-3 drops of poke mixed into squirt of violet) and topically infused violet oil with no more than ¼  part fresh poke root oil.  Poke on its own is irritating and instigating and not infrequently causes inflammation; violet balances and buffers that effect while assisting in the resolution of the congested lymph gland.  

Violet is especially well noted for its ability to resolve swellings and hardnesses in the breasts.  Being abundant in lymphatic tissue, this makes sense, and I’ve used violet oil topically for fibrosyctic breast conditions, plugged milk ducts and mastitis.  Occasionally, if it needs something more active, I’ll add poke root oil, as above, but not as a rule… I often find violet is fine on its own and doesn’t need to be pushed to immediate action with stronger herbs.  I feel it’s important to massage the oil in, and not just rub it on, as the massage itself will assist in clearing congested lymphatics. 



There are numerous references in herbal medicine to the use of violets to treat cancer.  Hildegard von Bingen stated that it "dissolves hardnesses" within the body, possibly referring to tumors, but also possibly to fibrocystic breast conditions.  Hildegard made an ointment of violets with olive oil and billy goat tallow... this would no doubt be an excellent preparation (animal fats are as good as and sometimes better than plant fats and oils in extracting and delivering an herbs virtues), but as billy goat tallow is somewhat hard to come by nowadays, beeswax can also be used, though lard or tallow from other sources is an excellent option (look for ethical sources on Local Harvest.  Tobyn, Denham and Whitelegg state in “The Western Herbal Tradition” that the earliest reference to explicitly refer to cancer is from 1902.  Maude Grieve’s “A Modern Herbal”, in 1931, makes reference to the use of violets in treating cancer of the throat and tongue through consistent use of the strong infusion, and a salve or poultice applied externally to tumors.  From there, references abound, but frequently without any specifics or citation.  I think it need to be understood that cancer is a complex systemic disease, and we would be naive to assume that violets, or any other treatment, would be a "cure" for any or everybody’s particular case.  The “______ cures cancer” mindset is a perilous one to fall into.  Cancer isn’t one thing; there’s a huge difference between a lymphoma and breast cancer, both in the nature of the illness and in how it’s treated.  Also, we need to remember that if we’re practicing holistically, we should be focusing on individual people, not the names of illnesses.  This doesn’t mean violet might not be appropriate.  It doesn’t suggest you shouldn’t try it, if a situation indicates the use of violet.  In fact, the toll of cancer (and its treatment) often presents a state that does indicate the use of violet.  Let’s just remember to beware of the perils of name-association herbalism, and of simplifying complex conditions which necessitate nuanced and personalized care.

Violets, like meadowsweet, wintergreen and birch, contain methyl salicylate, from which aspirin is derived, though this it seems to exist in lower levels than these other herbs.  Nicholas Culpeper declared that violets "easeth pains in the head caused through want of sleep."  Johann Christopher Sauer, a colonial herbalist, suggested applying an infused oil of violet and rose for a “feverish headache”.  Freshly crushed leaves were applied similarly, as was the use of teas and syrups of the flowers, to various body parts to relieve all manners of pain and discomfort.   But to simplify this down to “Oh, you can use violet a headache instead of taking an aspirin/acetaminophen/ibuprofen” is too reductionist… you simply can’t reduce the action of a plant down to the actions of an individual constituent.  Violet does contain methyl salicylate, yes, and so will possess some pain relieving and anti-inflammatory action on account of it.  But violets use as a food staple suggests that this is not a predominant action; also pure methyl salicylate smells strongly or wintergreen: is that a predominant scent in your violets?  I’ve noted that it’s more likely to be present in older leaves, but even then it’s subtle.   If we consider traditional accounts of pain relief using violet, they are always connected to heat, and while its salicylic acid content likely plays a role in this, it’s not the beginning and end of it.  If addressing a headache, perhaps tinctures of wood betony (for tension in the head/mind) or passion flower (for relentless brain chatter) in violet tea would be a better course of action than in thinking of violet as “nature’s aspirin”.



Violet also exemplifies a quality that we simply don’t have a good term for.  Here are a few phrases you’ll find in old herbals “soothes/lifts the spirit”; “strengthens/gladdens the heart”… it’s tempting to try an insert the term nervine.  But violets aren’t really nervine.  Not quite.  Or (and I’ll preface this with an “edag!”) antidepressant.  But that’s not right either, and on the whole that’s not a helpful “action” to apply in herbalism.  What violets do for the “spirit” or “heart” is what they do for the rest of the body; they nourish, strengthen and soothe.  And, I find the physical indications for violet play out here as well.  Hot, dry temperaments (like the humoural choleric temperament) that tend to get frustrated and angry (we say “hot headed”) are particularly soothed by it.  Kids who respond to stress with screaming and yelling till they’re red in the face.  That.  Oh, and it’s not only kids who do that.  Here, violet isn’t the best acute remedy (though it does compliment skullcap well), but is better suited to a brew when you can see an outburst looming, or have noticed such events increasing in frequency… maybe as a deadline nears?  Violet is also good for people who react to stress (or perhaps life in general) with rigidity.  Violet softens.  It inspires flexibility.  Some “give”.  If the person needing it is cool by constitution (cold and dry as opposed to hot), simply add something warming (spicy or aromatic) to offset its cooling nature.



Reviewing the virtues of violet, the degree to which it is undervalued seems apparent.  William Cook, the Physio-Medicalist didn’t mention violet in his Physio-Medical Dispensatory.  Nor did the eclectic Finely Ellingwood in his American Materia Medica.  Felter and Lloyd, in King’s American Dispensatory, do address it, but offer very little information, and seem to apply the emetic properties of the seeds and roots to the plant as a whole.  So perhaps these omission played a role.  It’s not like there’s a lack of conditions characterized by heat and dryness.  It’s not like violets are obscure or difficult to find.  It’s not like tradition didn’t laud their virtues.  It’s not like there aren’t a whole lot of frustrated angry cholerics that could use some softening and gladdening.  Maybe the humble viola are just too gentle, maybe they don’t act quickly or forcefully enough?  It’s a question not only to ponder when thinking about the population at large, but also for the herbal community, where we rely on our nutritive staples but also seem increasing fascinated by the strong medicine drop dosage plants.  Paul Bergner shares that "In medieval Baghdad, the “license” to practice medicine was given as permission to practice in the marketplace… One of the rules was that an individual would be disqualified from the practice of medicine if they were observed to 'use a strong herb when a mild herb would suffice, used an herb when a food would suffice, or use a food when simple advice about lifestyle would suffice.”

I put forth violet as a mild herb and food that will more than suffice.


an assortment of admirable preparations…
Poultice: crush fresh violets and apply topically; dried violet can be blanched in hot water to reconstitute 
Fresh violet tea: mince an arbitrary quantity of fresh violet leaves and/or flowers in hot water and steep till drinkable.  Yum.
Dried violet tea: do the same as above, but with crushed dried violet
Cold infusion (to extract mucilage most efficiently): steep 1 ounce of dried violet in 1 quart cool water for 3+ hours.  Strain and drink..
Nourishing violet infusion: pour a quart of boiling water over 1 ounce of dried violet.  Steep 4-8 hours, strain, and drink (you’ll get mucilage from this preparation as well, as it will be extracted after the water cools).
Nasal/eyewash: infuse violet in water (cool water will extract more mucilage), and strain through a coffee filter to ensure no floaties (which are fine for drinking but not so fine for pouring onto your eyeball).  To each 8 fluid ounce cup, add roughly ¼ teaspoon salt.  Stir till the salt is dissolved.  Use as an eyewash, in an eye cup, in a nasal spray bottle or neti pot.
Violet flower syrup: “To 1 lb. of Sweet Violet flowers freshly picked, add 2 1/2 pints of boiling water, infuse these for twenty-four hours in a glazed china vessel, then pour off the liquid and strain it gently through muslin; afterwards add double its weight of the finest loaf sugar and make it into a syrup, but without letting it boil” (from Grieve).  You can also use honey; Tobyn, Denham and Whitelegg state “Honey of violets is more cleansing and less cooling; sugar of violets works the other way around.”
Violet oil: wilt fresh violet leaves/flowers, and infused in your choice of oil or fat for a few hours to a dayish over low heat.  Violets frequently spoil when infused in mason jars in the sun because of their high water content, and even stovetop extractions can go off if any residual water isn’t removed before bottling.  Check out Henriette Kress’s “Troubleshooting Herbal Oils tips here for tricks and tips to avoid this potential bummer.  Many tradition sources laud a combination of violet and rose flower infused oils… try it.
Tincture: make a simpler’s tincture by mincing fresh violet leaves and/or flowers and covering with 100 proof vodka in a mason jar.  Macerate at least two weeks.  Or, if you prefer, add 2 ounces of grain alcohol to every one ounce of minced fresh violet in a mason jar.  Macerate as before.  I probably wouldn’t tincture dried violets, though I imagine very recently dried violet might be fine.

                                                              



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