Healing with Herbal Medicine

Canada is home to a diversity of plants which have helped nourish and heal our people for thousands of years. 

 

Herbal Medicine: it’s about understanding our interconnectedness with the natural world through the exploration of wild food and medicinal plants.

 

Healing with herbal medicine teaches us patience with ourselves by giving us the time to reflect on the imbalance of our body. As everything is interconnected, being able to cure the body and soul with the nature that you’re surrounded by is also part of the wholistic healing process. Making that connection, we feel and act respectively towards our land and the beings on it. They become like old friends.  The food, mushrooms, herbs and trees that are all around us are medicinal.
Mother Nature is calling us to put our roots down to connect, simplify and embrace a symbiotic life.

 

Nature Heals!

 

“We root in mother Earth; our flowers are the expressions of our joy, and our seeds blow in the wind when we share knowledge and ideas. The spirit of the Earth is calling us together to simplify, return to our roots, and live in a symbiotic relationship with nature.”

 

At the farm, we make many medicines ourselves: salves, ointments, teas, tinctures… Using plants wild-harvested or grown with love at Medicine Farm.

 

First, some quick rules for foraging medicinal plants

#1: Identification. Don’t use a plant if you aren’t 100% confidant that it is that plant. So if you are not sure about what is and isn’t a Dandelion, and if no amount of google images or foraging books are making it clear to you, please find a local foraging expert to help teach you.
#2: Clean Environment. Make sure you are foraging for plants in a place that hasn’t been sprayed with chemicals. If you aren’t foraging Dandelions on your own property, then really REALLY make sure that you have permission to get it where you found it and that it hasn’t been sprayed or near  a roadside.
#3: Never take all of the plant. That’s how ecological systems can be ruined. Take some of each plant, but leave enough of the plant to allow it to continue to thrive.

 

Here, we will explain the infused oil process with the example of the dandelion flower.

It’s probably a safe assumption to say that almost all of us have dandelions in our yard.  This is one of the most common “weeds” around. Sadly, dandelions are despised by most people and these poor plants get sprayed with all sorts of yucky chemicals. However, Dandelions deserve our respect and admiration! This is an amazing plant for us. The leaves, flowers, and roots of Dandelions are loaded with nutrients and natural remedy qualities that are very good for our bodies.
 Why we are making a dandelion infused oil
Dandelion flowers act as a mild analgesic (a minor pain reliever), so it will be great in salves for sore tissues/joints.
The flowers help with dry and chapped skin, so it will be great to use in DIY lotions.
Dandelion has the potential to both detoxify and cleanse your clogged pores.
It is loaded with vitamin C, which can help speed up the healing process and help reduce scars and inflammation.
Dandelion flowers are known to ease the pain of sore muscles and arthritis.
Here, you can find some of our natural recipes: Depending on your needs, you can change the plant material, and you can also mix a few different herbs that work well together. Please research plants before using and mixing.

 

Directions for Dandelion infused Oil

Decide how much Dandelion Infused Oil you will need and find a glass jar that fits those needs. Harvest the Dandelion flowers on a dry and sunny afternoon.
Allow the Dandelion flowers to dry overnight.

 

Use one of the following Infusion methods with your Dandelion Infusion Oil: Solar Infused Oil
Fill your glass jar half full with the herbs/plants and then completely cover them with your oil (good quality olive oil is the best) right up to the brim.
Use a spoon or butter knife to gently stir the plants to make sure there are no air pockets.
Cover tightly.
Place the jar in a warm and sunny spot and let it steep for only 2 weeks. The flowers have too much moisture in them, and waiting longer just increases the chance of mold.
Check it every few days and gently shake it to encourage the plants to release their medicinal benefits.
After 2 weeks, strain the oil through some cheesecloth (keeping the oil!), and make sure to wring that cheesecloth good and tight to get every last precious drop of your medicinal oil. Store in a tightly closed jar in a dark place. Apply to the skin where needed.

 

 

Tincture is the best way to preserve herbs because they have a shelf life of around 2-3 years. Tincture is typically an alcoholic extract of plants for use as medicine. The alcohol acts as a solvent, extracting primarily the medicinal components such as alkaloids, glycosides, minerals, and essential oils. Other solvents can be used in place of alcohol, such as vinegar or glycerin, though they are typically less effective at extracting medicinal constituents of plants.

 

A few important notes in making any tincture

Make sure that you only use plants that are safe for human use.
If you do not know the plants you are working with, research them thoroughly before hand.
Use only alcohol made for human consumption as your tincture base. You can either use brandy, rum or vodka for your tincture base. Ideally, acquire a grain alcohol that is 95% alcohol and dilute it as necessary.
Make sure that the alcohol covers the plant material fully. Do not leave any plant material exposed to the air.
Tinctures are meant to be used as medicine in small amounts. Once made, put them into small dropper bottles and add a little bit to your tea, juice, water or directly into your mouth when needed. For most tincture recipes, you will want to let your tincture sit for about two weeks. Then you will need to strain it and pour it into your preferred containers.

Here it’s a basic example of a tincture recipe you can reproduce with different plants depending on your needs. Whether to maintain or boost health, tinctures are a simple and accessible way to get started making your own at home medicines.

Stinging Nettle Tincture

Although stinging nettle is known to many mainly for its itchy stings, it is an amazing medicinal and edible plant. Nettles are rich in iron, potassium, calcium, manganese, and trace minerals.
Cut fresh or shred dried plants.
Put them in a clean container
Use a vodka that has 50% alcohol content (also known as 100 proof)
Add the alcohol at a 2:1 ratio (i.e. 2 cups of vodka to 1 cup of plant materials)

 

Want to learn more? Here are some book suggestions:

→ BREEDLOVE, Greta. The Herbal Home SPA. Naturally refreshing wraps, Rubs, Lotions, Masks, Oils, and Scrubs.
→ HOFFMANN, David. Holistic Herbal: A safe and practical guide to making and using herbal remedies.
→ POJAR, Jim. Plants of Coastal British Columbia.
→ PREUS, Mary. The Northwest herb lover’s handbook: A guide to growing herbs for Cooking, Crafts and Home Remedies.
→ ODY Penelope. The Complete Medicinal Herbal.