white snowman on snow covered ground during daytime
Photo by Zoha Kidwai on Unsplash

Well, once again I learned the hard lesson of ‘be mindful of what you wish for’! It was only a few scant days ago that I was wondering aloud if we were going to have a dry, warm winter only to have a cold blast followed by new snowfalls every three or four days. Even when the forecast was ‘favorable’ we woke up to dustings and delays. Such is life in the hills of New England. After assuring that we can get out ( or maybe even more important, that folks can get in – Thank you my dedicated team of service drivers!!! ) I turned my focus on the daily tasks of UsefulWeeds. One of the harbingers of Spring is the arrival of the seed and plant catalogs as well as the welcome calls not only of returning birds but of our farming friends who are planning their growing seasons. The season will be fast upon us…

Thinking about Summertime it must be time to start planning for those triple H days that come all too quickly. One of the favorite teas around here during those sunny days is our New England Summertime tea. I love to double down on the strength of this brew and get it ready to pour it over some lemon or lime infused ice cubes. Minty, savory, and with bursts of Linden and Bay to bring in happiness and sweep out the difficulties. Perfect for those afternoons in the shade.

But before you get to those lazy summer days you have to get through Spring and a little burst of energy will come in handy to clear away those winter blues and dig into some spring cleaning. Rooibos is a wonderful tea on any given day and there’s no shortage of information about all the benefits that come from a cup of this tea. One of the things brought to mind about rooibos is since it is so rich in antioxidants people will report feeling energized even though there it contains no caffeine. Since green rooibos is not oxidized, it gives a slightly herbal aftertaste and brews light in color which makes it perfect for those that find red rooibos too sweet.

Until those carefree days arrive we’ll just have march on stoically in our felt lined boots! Until then, here are some of the latest updates in the herb shop since the last snow.

Grown primarily in Guatemala and India cardamon is a labor-intensive spice with each pod hand-picked when it is three-quarters ripened. Green pods are dried for one day and night in a heated room away from the sun, which would bleach their color. As one of the most expensive spices in the world (third after Saffron and Vanilla) it is an essential spice in the cuisines of the Middle East and Scandinavia. Whole pods can have the seeds removed as needed. In this form, the herb retains its aroma and flavor the longest.

The aerial parts of the Goldenrod plant have been traditionally used in herbal preparations to address damp, phlegm producing conditions of the upper respiratory system and is reported to be an anti-inflammatory for the mucus membranes. There is a reported affinity for the urinary tract system, though current studies point out that it is not to be used during acute attacks of kidney stones or other kidney disorders. Persons with allergies to other members of the Asteraceae family should exercise caution in its usage.

A wealth of folklore attachments to the Elder plant is often described as a ‘complete medical chest’ because of its countless therapeutic and prophylactic qualities. Classed as ‘hot and dry’ by Galen, Elder was used for cold, damp conditions, such as catarrh or excessive mucous. In the 17th century, it was a favorite remedy for ‘clearing phlegm’, both as an expectorant for coughs and as a diuretic and violent purgative. Elderflower water was much praised in the 18th century for whitening the skin and removing freckles. – Source: The Materia Medica Resource at WordPress

Whole elderberries are typically prepared as teas, tinctures, syrups, wine, cordials, and sometimes even ketchup, often combined with propolis or echinacea.

Garcinia fruits have been employed in Ayurvedic practices for their healthful qualities to aid in balancing metabolism, increasing energy, reducing stress, and relieving depression. The fruit has been used for hundreds of years mostly in many authentic curries from Southeast Asia and India.

A member of the Asteraceae family, coltsfoot has yellow flowers and leaves the resemble a horse’s hoof. It has a long history of use in traditional European herbalism and was often surrounded by folklore.. It was so popular in Europe at one time that French pharmacists painted its flowers on their doorposts. Coltsfoot herb is commonly infused for use in topical applications as well as having a long time use

for ‘chest complaints’. The plant has recently come under increased controversy due to its content of pyrrolizidine alkaloids which have shown liver damage in rats during testing. Amounts of the alkaloid in coltsfoot are reportedly minimal and Swedish research suggests that these are possibly destroyed when making a decoction.

A herbal staple of great longevity, Burdock is well known and used worldwide not only as a remedy but as a food source. Traditionally used as a purifier, it also holds a place in many formulations with its diuretic, laxative, alterative, and tonifying qualities. Energetically, it is believed to help frail people develop hardiness, provide faith to move on, and restore momentum to complete their journey in the face of unknown fears.

Cumin seeds have been used since the era of ancient Egypt and are employed for their healthful properties in Ayurveda. Cumin is a spice that is well-known in countries worldwide and as such it has been in continual use for thousands of years. Believed to have a balancing effect on all three ayurvedic body type classifications, its usage also spans across cultures as a digestive support. Traditional usages have been to relieve wind, bloating, and to alleviate nausea.

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