Herb of the Week: Self Heal


Species: Prunella vulgaris

Common names: Prunella, All-Heal, Hook-Heal, Touch and Heal, Brunella, Heart of the Earth, Blue Curls

History/Folklore: Self-heal’s use has been noted in Chinese medicine as early as 206 BC. It has been used quite commonly in Europe for centuries as a remedy for throat ailments and as a treatment for wounds. It was valued as treatment for cuts and wounds and used to stop bleeding and help knit a wound together. It was taken internally as a tea to help with fevers, diarrhea, and internal bleeding. More recently Self-heal has been used to treat herpes and mouth and throat lesions because of its antiviral properties, although John Parkinson had noted its use back in 1640. It has also been found to be effective for hypothyroidism by stimulating an underactive thyroid.

Appearance:

Prunella has erect, many-flowered spikes and associated, overlapping, hairy bracts. The square stem has dense, cylindrical, terminal spikes of purple flowers Grows from 2 inches up to 1 foot in height.

Parts Used: Leaves, Flowers

Collection: Leaves from Spring through Fall, flowers just before blooming or as it is blooming if using fresh, allow spike to brown slightly before picking if drying.

Actions: astringent, bitter tonic, diuretic, styptic, vermifuge, vulnerary, amphoteric, antiviral, antibiotic, antiseptic, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. 
Indications: Calms inflammatory and allergic responses, increases appetite and promotes digestion, increases the flow of urine, stops bleeding, effective against many types of bacteria, heals injuries.

Contraindications: none noted

Cultivation: stolons, division or seeds (cold-stratifying helps)

Light: Full sun to Shade

Zones: 4-9

Plant Type: Creeping herbaceous perennial

Posted in flowers, Gardening, Herb of the Week, herbalism, Herbs, Home & Garden, Materia medica, Natural Health, Uncategorized, western Mass | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Artemisia of the Week – SOUTHERNWOOD


 

southernwood 3Species: Artemisia abrotanum

Common names: Southernwood, Lad’s Love, Boy’s Love, Old Man’s Beard, Garderobe (clothes protector)

History/Folklore: Originating in Spain and Italy it was brought to the UK around 1550. In the US it is mainly used as an ornamental. It was believed, combined with Rue, to protect against contagious diseases. The leaves were powdered, added to treacle (molasses) and given to children to expel worms. In medieval times it was used to flavor fatty meats, probably to hide the taste of rancid fat as well as to aid in digestion. It has been recorded that the Shakers were using Southernwood medicinally as early as 1830. Southernwood was burned and the ashes were added to lard or oil and smeared on the face by young men to encourage beard growth. The leaves were strewn between clothes to deter months and other insects, hence the French name Garderobe.

Appearance: The leaves are green, feathery and aromatic with a bitter lemon scent

Parts Used: leaves

Collection: Harvest and dry in August and September. Cut stems and hang to dry.

Actions:  tonic, emmenagogue, antiseptic, bitter, anthelmintic and deobstruent.

Indications: induces or hastens menstrual flow, aids in digestion, expelling of parasitic worms, to clear or open the natural ducts of the fluids and secretions of the body.

Counter indications: Avoid during pregnancy, may cause contact dermatitis.

Cultivation: Perennial to zone 5. Plant 2 feet apart in slightly acidic, well drained soil. Propagation is by root division, layering or cuttings.

Light: Full sun to partial shade

Zones : 5-9

Plant Type: Perennial, Herb, Shrub

Posted in Artemisia, Gardening, herbalism, Materia medica, Natural Health, Uncategorized, western Mass | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Products for 2014


Happy 2014!

Here at Airmeith Naturals we have been busy working on new additions to our product line. After much trial and error we are happy to announce that we will be introducing:

  • Hot Stuff Oil- Made from cayenne, brown mustard seeds and ginger root you can see why we call it “Hot Stuff”. We recommend it for cold joints, muscle spasms and arthritis
  • Herbal Simples ‘Simples’ are remedies that only use one herb at a time so we can allow the true nature of these amazing herbs to shine.

    Calendula Salve– is so useful that we have made a simple salve for use on skin rashes, eczema, varicose veins inflamed wounds, etc

    Chickweed Liniment- relieves inflammation and speeds healing

    Lavender Salve– is for burned, chafed or irritated skin. Lavender is naturally antiseptic so it is a gentle way to soothe and protect your skin.

  • Catnipcat toy – This is a 2.25in cotton fabric cube filled with organic catnip. It’s sure to transform your cat into a playful little kitty.
  • Whole Back Hot/Cold PackThis is a 24in x 29in pack with a removable cotton cover with straps to keep it in place. Use it hot or cold like our other herbal therapy pillows. This is the perfect size for your entire back.
  • Potpourri π Yes; we have indulged in our geeky side. We created a room potpourri that looks like a little pie.
  • Shower Fizzy-We have finally come up with a way to enjoy the scent and benefits of an aromatherapy bath in the shower. Perfect for our crazy, fast paced, no time for anything lives.
  • Stress Block Almost like a stress ball but better because as you squeeze the cotton fabric cube filled with herbs, flaxseed and essential oil; it will release its scent to help relieve your stress.
  • Cotton Potato Cookers with Potato Fixin’s
    – With this great potato cooker you can cook 4 large potatoes in the microwave in about 12 minutes; then with our fixings you have a perfect side.

    Garlic/Chive & Onion Fixin’s Blend

    Lemon/Chive & Salt Fixin’s Blend

  • Herbal Finishing Salts
    -Blends of salts and herbs, which should be used within the last 5 to 10 minutes of cooking, just before serving, or as a substitute for regular salt.

    All Purpose Blend- perfect for chicken, pork, steamed vegetables, tomato & cucumber

    Caribbean Blend- Beef, chops and fish

    Smoky Seasoned Blend- pork, popcorn, corn on cob, in baked beans

    Greek Blend-raw & cooked lamb, vinaigrettes, eggs

Pictures coming Soon!!!

Posted in Cooking, Gardening, Gifts, Massage, Natural Health, South Hadley, Uncategorized, western Mass | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Herb of the Week: Sweet Cicely


Sweet Cicely in Airmeith Naturals gardens

Sweet Cicely (Myrrhis odorata), not to be confused with American Sweet Cicely (Osmorhiza longistylis), is a hardy perennial (zones 3-7) that emerges in early spring. The leaves have a beautiful fern like appearance followed by tiny white flowers in the summer. It can reach a height of 4-5 feet with a 2-3 foot spread. It prefers moist rich soil and partial shade, but can tolerate somewhat sunny areas.

This herb, once extremely common in European gardens, is definitely underutilized in North American gardens. Sweet Cicely has an anise like aroma which distinguishes itself from lookalikes Cow Parsnip and Poison Hemlock. The leaves, seeds and root have a sweet anise like flavor that can be used in a variety of ways in cooking. The leaves are a natural sweetener and can be used in recipes to cut in half the amount of sugar needed. This makes it great for use by Diabetics trying to cut back on their sugar intake. The fresh leaves can also be chopped and used in salads. The roots can be peeled, steamed and buttered, similar to parsnips or carrots. You can also eat the roots raw, peeled and sliced, served with vinaigrette.

Traditionally, Sweet Cicely has been used to stimulate the appetite and provide relief from flatulence and indigestion. It has also been used to help “lift the spirit”. Sweet Cicely is a good herb for the elderly who have lost their zest for live. It gives their spirits a boost and helps increase their appetite allowing them to enjoy their food more. This in turn helps in the absorption of important nutrients. It is also beneficial to people who are still weak after a long illness or someone who has been worn down from taking caring a loved one for an extended period of time. It helps restore their energy, slowly rebuilding their strength while revitalizing their entire system. Prepare Sweet Cicely as a tisane for relief from asthma, cough or chest complaints (non heart related). Sweet Cicely has been used as a general tonic herb.

Sweet Cicely in Mid May 2013
Airmeith Naturals – South Hadley, MA

Following are some recipes incorporating Sweet Cicely.

Sweet Cicely Apéritif –

To a quart jar, add enough macerated leaves and stems to fill halfway. Add vodka to within ¼ inch of top. Cover, shake and set in a dark location for one week, shaking every day or two. After one week, taste it to see if the flavor of the herb has infused sufficiently. If too weak, allow to steep longer. You may even add additional leaves & stems. If too strong, add additional vodka. When the aperitif has reached the desired flavor, strain off and store in a clean glass container. Place in a dark space at room temperature and allow to age for a few months. Serve before meals to increase appetite, after dinner to aid digestion (digestif) or as a tonic to relieve flatulence or lift your spirits. 

Sweet Cicely – Airmeith Naturals Gardens

Strawberry Rhubarb & Sweet Cicely Pie
½ to 1 cup sugar (depending on taste)
1 TBLS finely chopped Sweet Cicely leaves
2 cups rhubarb chopped
2 cups strawberries
¼ cup Tapioca
1 ½ TBLS butter
Enough pastry for a 2 crust pie – use your favorite recipe or store bought.
 
Preheat oven to 425°
 

Line the pie pan with one of the pie crust.

Mix the first five ingredients together in a bowl until the fruit is well coated.

Pour mixture into the pastry lined pie pan, dot with the butter and then cover with top crust. Make a few slits in top crust to allow steam to escape. Bake until crust is nicely brown and juices bubble up through slits.

Sweet Cicely
Early June – Airmeith Naturals Gardens, South Hadley, MA

Posted in flowers, Gardening, Herb of the Week, Herbs, Home & Garden, Natural Health, South Hadley, Uncategorized, western Mass | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fresh Ideas for Valentine’s Day


February 14th, Valentine’s Day is coming up fast and you want to do something a little different this year. You don’t want buy the same old heart shaped box of chocolate and a dozen red roses; you already did champagne and strawberries; now you are wondering what you can do. I find that the best gifts are the things that are a little off the beaten path (and I don’t mean edible underwear), something that is made by a small local company, or better yet, made by you. I have been married for 24 years and both my husband and I have always made it a point to add our own twist to Valentine’s Day. One year my husband decided to do a “Hawthorn” (an herb that has a special affinity to the heart) theme. He made me a half gallon of hawthorn tincture, some hawthorn syrup (which is amazing on pancakes), hawthorn ketchup and Hedgerow jelly (Hawthorn berries are used in it). I was so happily surprised that I’m clearly still talking about it.

How about making something that will be talked about for years to come; it doesn’t have to be expensive or so far out there that no one would use or like it. The following are a few recipes and links to help you come up with an amazing Valentine’s Day gift that will sure to be a hit.

 
 
Rose Massage Oil
2/3 C grapeseed oil
1 tsp alkanet root (omit if you don’t want it colored)
1/3 C wheat germ oil
10 drops vitamin E oil
6 drops rose absolute oil
To make:
Put grapeseed oil and alkanet root into a top basin of a double boiler. Gently heat the water bath of the double boiler on the lowest heat. Once the oil is the red color that you desire, remove from heat and strain out the alkanet (do not over heat). Add the wheat germ oil, vitamin E, and rose oil to the red oil after it has cooled. Pour the oil into a dark bottle and shake well.
To Use:
Shake well before each use. Pour small amount of oil into your hands to warm before massaging into your body (or someone else’s body).
 
Calming Milk Bath
4 oz fine sea salt
8 oz powdered milk
6 drops chamomile essential oil
12 drops neroli essential oil
To Make: Mix the sea salt, powdered milk and essential oils well. Place in a covered container and leave for 3 weeks for the oils to mingle with the ingredients before using.
To Use: Add a handful of milk bath mixture to a running bath; get in and relax.
 
Chocolate Rose Elixir
1/3 C Cocoa powder, sifted
1 C Sugar
1 C boiling Rose Water (purchased or homemade)
¼ to ½ C Rose petals
½ C Brandy
1 tablespoon Vanilla extract
2-3 drops Almond extract or 1 teaspoon additional Vanilla extract, optional
To infuse brandy: simply fill your jar ¼ full of dried herbs or ½ full of fresh herbs, and pour in your brandy. Let the herbs infuse at least 5 days.
Begin by making chocolate syrup by mixing the cocoa powder and sugar together and add boiling rose water, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. When cooled, add the vanilla extract. To this syrup, add the brandy and additional vanilla extract or almond extract. Bottle the ingredients and shake well. Let sit for 2 days to 1 week. You can add honey infused with fresh rose petals to this elixir. This recipe is also amazing with brandy infused with spices such as cardamom, star anise, cinnamon, fennel, and fresh ginger.
 
Warming Sugar Scrub
½ C Brown sugar
1 TBL Ginger powder
1 TBL Cardamom powder
2 oz. Grapeseed oil
Place the brown sugar into a container. Add ginger and cardamom powders to the sugar and stir. Add enough oil to moisten the sugar and stir. Let sit for 2 days for the sugar to absorb some of the oil; adding more oil if needed. To use: gently massage sugar scrub onto wet skin, wash scrub off with warm water, pat your skin dry
 
Margaret’s Spicy Aphrodisiac Tea
From Wise Concoctions pg.100 by Bonnie Trust Dahan
4 C Water
1 tangerine with peel sliced
3 cardamom pods spilt
1in piece fresh ginger, sliced
Dash of ground nutmeg
½ vanilla bean
4 cinnamon sticks
1 to 2 tsp pomegranate seeds
To make: Combine all the ingredients except two of the cinnamon sticks and the pomegranate seeds, Simmer, covered, for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the pomegranate seeds for the last 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Serve in mugs with a cinnamon stick for stirring.
 
Double Chocolate Cardamom Pot       Clementine’s in Ginger Syrup         Fig Salad with Goat’s Milk
                                                                                                                Yogurt and Pepper Cress


Posted in Cooking, Gifts, Herbs, Natural Health, Tea Time, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Herb of the Year for 2014: Artemisia Spp.


Tarragon ~ A.dracunculus

This year, instead of one specific herb species, the Herb of the year is an entire Genus. Artemisia is a large, diverse genus of plants with between 200 and 400 species belonging to the daisy family Asteraceae. Some of the common names for species in this genus include Mugwort (A. vulgaris), Wormwood (A.absinthum), Tarragon (A.dracunculus) and Sweet Annie (A.annua).

Most of the Artemisia are known for their strong aroma and bitter taste. This seems to discourage herbivory, making the dried herb a good deterrent for fleas , moths and other insects. Wormwood was often used in the brewing of beverages such as beer, wine, vermouth and Absinthe. Some species are notably used as a flavoring. A good example being the use of A. dracunculus (Tarragon) in French cuisine. Artemisias have also been traditionally used in herbal medicine to aid the digestive system, serve as a liver tonic and as treatment for malaria.

012414_0054_HerboftheYe4.jpg

Wormwood ~ A.absinthum

Artemisias tend to be hardy perennials, drought tolerant and able to grow in a variety of conditions. They also come in a wide mix of shapes and sizes, ranging from sprawling ground covers to large shrubs. Many have narrow silvery foliage, with some having broader leaves. There are even some that have dark green foliage. No matter how you look at it, Artemisia make an interesting addition to your garden with their beauty and functionality.

012414_0054_HerboftheYe3.jpg

Mugwort ~ A. vulgaris

Throughout the year we will be blogging about some of specific species of Artemisia. There will be more information about growing tips and uses. So stay tuned and let us know if there is a specific species you want to learn more about.

Posted in Artemisia, flowers, Gardening, Herbs, Home & Garden, Natural Health, Uncategorized, western Mass | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Herb of the Week: LAVENDER


Lavandula is a genus of 39 species of flowering plants in the mint family, Lamiaceae. The name lavender comes from the Latin root lavare, which means “to wash.” Lavender may have earned this name because it was frequently used in baths to help purify the body and spirit. However, this herb has also been used as a remedy for a range of ailments from insomnia and anxiety to depression and fatigue.

Name: Lavender (Lavandula officinalis); English Lavender (Lavendula augsutfolia)

Parts Used: flowers

Collection: Flowers should be harvested just before coming into bloom between June and September. They should be dried in a shady area with a temperature below 95* F to maintain the essential oils

Actions: Carminative, antispasmodic, antidepressant, rubefacient, antifungal

Indications: This beautiful herb has so many uses including culinary, cosmetic, and medical. This little flower is amazing effective when used to headache especially related to stress. Lavender is quite effective in alleviating depression, but should be used in conjunction with other remedies. Lavender can be used as a gentle strengthening tonic for the nervous system. Externally, the oil may be used as a stimulating liniment to help ease rheumatism.

Cultivation: Drought- tolerant, heat- tolerant, and wind-tolerant, lavender doesn’t like poor drainage, waterlogged soil, or high humidity. Raised beds can enhance drainage; surrounding plants with a gravel mulch can help increase heat around roots. After flowering, shear plants to induce bushiness and subsequent bloom. Avoid cutting plants back to the ground. Dried blooms retain fragrance for a long time; crush dried flowers to release aromatic oils anew.

Light: Sun
Zones : 5-10
Plant Type: Perennial, Herb, Shrub
Plant Height: 1-3 feet tall
Plant Width: 1-3 feet wide
Flower Color: Deep violet, lavender, white
Bloom Time: Flowers early to midsummer
Landscape Uses: Containers, Beds & Borders, Slopes, Groundcover
Special Features: Attractive Foliage, Fragrant, Cut Flowers, Dried Flowers, Attracts Birds, Attracts Hummingbirds, Attracts Butterflies, Drought Tolerant, Deer Resistant

 

The following is just a brief introductory to the many uses of lavender.

Lavender Toner
1 TBL lavender buds
1 Cup witch hazel
6 drops lavender essential oil
Combine all the ingredients in a jar with a tightly fitted lid, store in a cool dark place. Allow mixture to macerate of 2 weeks. Shake jar every other day. After 2 weeks strain mixture into a bottle with a mister top.
This toner does not need to be refrigerated; but is quite refreshing cooled during the hot months of the year.

Aches and Pains Oil
5 drops     lavender essential oil
5 drops nutmeg essential oil
5 drops rosemary essential oil
15 ml sweet almond oil (carrier oil)
Mix essential oils into the almond oil. Massage into skin where you are having pain.
 
Lavender Cream
1 TBL dried lavender buds
1 Cup heavy cream
Lightly crush lavender buds, mix into cream. Cover and chill for three hours. Strain the lavender buds out of cream. The lavender cream can be used in place of regular cream for baking, coffee, tea etc.
Posted in Cooking, flowers, Gardening, Gifts, Herb of the Week, Herbs, Massage, Natural Health, western Mass | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Is the Season Getting You Down?


In northern climates when the heavy snows fall and the sun moves south, many people find their moods shift from upbeat to downright depressed. The severe form of winter depression–called seasonal affective disorder, or SAD–affects at least two million North Americans. Another thirty-nine million experience milder symptoms of moodiness and extended sleep patterns that somewhat resemble hibernation.Spruse Trees Under Fresh Snow Canada

Overeating, sleeping for prolonged periods, mood swings, carbohydrate cravings, and weight gain during winter months may be more than just symptoms of cabin fever. They can suggest a biochemical reaction caused by a lack of exposure to sunlight.

Like all living things, we humans are sensitive to the seasons and sunlight. We secrete a hormone called melatonin, which helps us sleep at night and stay awake during the day. Melatonin production is directly linked to sun exposure. So, as the days get shorter during the winter, our bodies produce more and more melatonin and we can literally feel like going into a cave and Hibernating.

Many SAD sufferers manage their seasonal depression with daily exposure to full-spectrum lamps or light boxes. By getting daily doses of natural light, they can fool their brains into thinking it’s summertime, and their need to sleep decreases.

Recent research shows that timing these light therapy sessions to our natural biological clocks is even more beneficial than usage during the day. Exposure to natural spectrum bright light for thirty minutes on awakening is twice as effective as evening sessions, and one study found this practice actually had an 80 percent chance of sending SAD into remission.Snow and Ice on Branches

If winter blues are getting to you, consider investing in a full spectrum lamp and use it first thing in the morning–because SAD is for the bears.

Posted in Natural Health, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

5 Tips for Staying Healthy During the Holidays


5 Tips for Staying Healthy During the Holidays.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Home Remedies for Dry Eyes Relief


Home Remedies for Dry Eyes Relief.

Posted in Herbs, Natural Health | Tagged , , | Leave a comment