Monday, November 2, 2009

herb walk

i went on an herb walk yesterday. lucky for me, no one else showed up - so i got a private session. although it is fall - there was still plenty to look at and discuss. and it was really interesting for me to get to know some of the plants that are native to california.
the first we saw was oregon grape (Mahonia aquifolium). it contains the immune stimulating, infection fighting, antiseptic constituent, berberine. berberine is scientifically proven to protect against bacteria, viruses, and fungi. it has a sedative effect on the muscles lining the digestive tract and can relieve stomach cramps and abdominal pain.
i had never seen this before - and was quite excited to see some white sage (Salvia apiana). the leaves contain resins that have anti-bacterial and antiseptic properties. a hot infusion of the leaves stimulates perspiration and will lower fever. inhaling the steamed leaves breaks up chest congestion. applied externally, it can help skin infections.

there was plenty of horehound (Marrubium vulgare) around. shown here sitting next to some black sage (Salvia mellifera). horehound is an expectorant and used to treat coughs, bronchitis, respitory infections and sore throats. a strong tea or tincture can be used. here is a recipe for a cough syrup: steep 1 ounce of leaves in a pint of boiling water. cover, and allow to steep for 30 minutes. strain out the leaves, and then add twice as much honey, mix well, and bottle. take 1 teaspoon as needed up to four times per day.

we then came across the mysterious jimson weed (Datura Stramonium). i was told it has been used by shaman for centuries during ceremonies and for vision quests. it has hallucinogenic properties. this is NOT a plant to mess with under any circumstance - unless with someone VERY familiar with its magic and practices. i was just very excited to be in its presence. shown here are the leaves and seed.

then there was yerba santa (Eriodictyon crassifolium). it is an amazing plant with a lot of medicine to offer. it is called 'great medicine' by the local tribes. it is an anti-inflammatory and helps to dry congestion. it is also helpful for asthma, bronchitis, coughs and sinus allergies.
i got to see some nettles (Urttica dioica). we found it at the bottom of a dry creek towards the end of the hike - it was already getting dark. i have only seen it dried in bulk when i purchase it. i have a few posts in here on the medicinal and nutritional value of nettles.

there was mexican elderberry (Sambucus mexicana) around, which i have also posted about. it is known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. shown here is the elder flower.

there was so much more we saw.... black walnut (Juglans nigra) which has antimicrobial and antifungal properties. there was plenty of coast live oak (Quercus agrifolia), arroyo willow (Salix lasiolepis), yucca (Yucca whipplei), mugwort (Artemisia douglasiana), black mustard (Brassica nigra), and dandelion (Taraxacum officinale).

we even stopped for a while at some chia sage (Salvia columbariae) which had died back a bit and gone to seed and removed some of the prized chia seeds - which are high in protein and omega-3s.

it was an amazing few hours for me. i had gone on a herb walk quite a few months back - but it was more fascinating for me this time after a few more months of my herbal studies to actually see and touch a few of these treasures i have been reading about. also to get to know some of the medicine that is in my area. this park was close enough to home that i know i will be returning there as springtime comes to visit with my new acquaintances and spend more time with them. i think this is going to be so much more beneficial to my learning than looking at pictures in books.

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