� Vicki Peterson.

 The Spring and Summer of 2005 was exceptionally cool and wet, maybe to offset the lack of snow we had this Winter. It was said that we were 27% below normal precipitation for the winter, and as spring unfolded, it more than compensated with a 15% over normal precipitation through the season - and below normal temperatures.

This unusual weather created some unusual responses from the plants in north Idaho. Some plants thrived in these conditions; others were stunted or stifled completely. For example, I noted that there was a bumper crop of apples and some grain crops, legumes in particular. However, huckleberries, blueberries, plums, and "berry" crops were poor to non-existent. Interesting�

The weather did not appear to have an adverse affect on the four herbs I chose for this year, as they were plentiful throughout the woods. Violets are my choice for my Spagyric preparation in 2006/2007. Although my property is dotted with natural artesian springs and a nice creek, the violet growth was sparse.

As the focus is on simple Galenic preparations this year, the four plants I chose not only for their physiological properties, but because I have either cultivated them on my property, or they grow readily in the wild, availability should never be a concern. I should say, also, that I feel a special affinity to these plants; their intrinsic beauty and spirit tugged at my soul�and working closely with these beautiful plants will not only enhance the health of my body, but my spirit as well. Not to mention being able to help my family and friends.

Fam. Labiatae.  Synonyms: Sweet Balm, Lemon Balm, Cure-all

One plant I chose was Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) for its beauty, calming qualities, scent, flavor, because Paracelsus loved it, and bees adore it. Melissa thrived in its location, cultivated below terraced landscaping next to the basement. Plenty of early sunshine and cool shade in the afternoons encouraged abundant, healthy growth. It was happy growing next to the other mints: ginger mint, peppermint, lavender mint, and pineapple mint.

I would cut small sprigs to put into iced tea, loving the citrus scent of the crushed leaves. Melissa�s also tasty in any recipe calling for some kind of citrus flavoring, and Melissa schnapps is a wonderful treat�just a few snips of stems and leaves in vodka - leave to sit for about a week, and you have Melissa schnapps. In the evening after work, my husband and I would enjoy a refreshing toddy of iced Melissa schnapps with a twist of lime and pinch of stevia�very nice way to end a hot summer day.

Melissa has calming and mildly sedating qualities, both of which are necessary in today�s world, helping to alleviate stress and anxiety. Historically as well as today, Melissa is used in "complaints of the nervous system", as well as being a carminative and assisting digestion. This combination makes it excellent for stomach upsets relating to nerves, i.e., the "nervous stomach". There have also been some good results in applications for migraines, neuralgia, palpitations, and insomnia�a nice combination for women such as myself approaching menopause. In fact, hormone-regulating properties have been documented, piquing interest and research into hyperthyroidism.

Alleviating pain and swelling of insect bites and bee stings is another attribute, as well as being soothing to sun-burned skin. And along with treating skin, Melissa�s anti-viral activity is attracting attention in the area of oral and genital herpes treatments, appearing to make flare-ups much less intense and lasting for shorter periods of time. But, it has not yet been proved to cure herpes.

When I tested my reference sample of Melissa, the color was a very deep green, the fragrance a very strong and delicious lemony-citrus scent. It dried nicely, breaking off cleanly, but did not shatter.

After harvesting and processing Melissa for this year, I will use it mostly for her calming and sedating qualities. In a tincture, probably a dose of 2 - 6ml three times a day, especially when hormonal "tremors" hit. I also plan on concocting a salve from the tincture, as well as dried herb, for bug bites and other skin maladies.

Fam. Compositae. Synonyms: Milfoil, Nosebleed.
Another beauty is Yarrow (Achillea millefolium). Gorgeous, fern-like delicate leaves and tiny flowers set in an umbel display cloak the medicinal power within. It grows abundantly throughout my yard and property, gracing all with its presence. I enjoy it so much that I have some ornamental varieties planted in my garden as well; lending reds, corals, and golds to my garden long after other flowers have faded for the year.

I noticed this year that the Yarrow plants were not quite as numerous; however, the plants that did grow were huge, with profuse leaf and flower growth. I should have waited a little later in the summer to harvest, as they peaked more toward July and August rather than June. Still, the plants were beautiful.

Yarrow is mostly known for its use during colds and flu for stimulating elimination and inducing sweating in dry fevers as a strong infusion. In fact, it is one of the best remedies for helping the body deal with fevers. It is also noted for helping to lower blood pressure.

From some of its common names, such as Nose Bleed and Staunchweed, one can probably deduce the styptic properties. I have used Yarrow frequently on cuts from gardening, on my husband�s over-worked hands, shaving cuts, and during the rare occasions when he has a nose bleed (I�ve never had one, so I couldn�t personally relay the experience). The astringent qualities have also been used to decrease menstruation and help shrink mild hemorrhoids. One will find most monographs focusing on Yarrow�s abilities as an astringent and diaphoretic more than anything.

Interestingly, Yarrow seems to "know" when bleeding needs to be stopped, or induced, as it has also been

used to cause bleeding to quell sinus infections or drain wounds. Nature and Her wisdom at work.

On testing my reference sample earlier this year, its color was still a deep blue-green. The scent was a pungent and wonderful herbal fragrance - like fresh but stronger and heady. Initially when testing for dryness, the stems gave a little giving me some concern that it wasn�t drying properly; but on another inspection a couple weeks later the stems snapped nicely - color and fragrance still pungent.

Using the tincture as well as powdered dry leaf will be a part of my Apothecary. As I have stated earlier, I use it frequently to quell excessive bleeding. The tincture will be used mostly for colds and flu, (2 - 4ml three times a day, or hourly when feverish), in a cup of warm water to help warm the system and clear the sinuses.

Fam. Ericaceae. Synonyms:  Pipsissewa, Prince's Pine, Wintergreen, Bitter Winter-green, King's Cure, Ground Holly,  Love-in-winter, Rheumatism Weed; Herbe de Pyrole ombellee, Fr.; Dolden bluthiges  Harnkraut, Wintergrun G.
I love Pipsissewa (Chimaphila umbellata) - both the name and the plant are darling. Maybe that is not the best criteria for choosing a plant for its medicinal qualities, but being female, and Pipsissewa specializing in urinary tract problems, I�m sure its healing qualities will be useful if not to myself, then my female (and male) friends.

A native plant, the word pipsissewa comes from the Canadian Cree word meaning "breaks into small pieces", specifically referencing breaking up kidney stones.

I so enjoyed walking through the woods, ducking under the thick branches and underbrush to sit among Pipsissewa. It loves the dry, thick duff that falls from the cedars, spruce, fir and hemlock. That is where I also found its beautiful and ephemeral friend, the Calypso orchid. Perhaps they have a symbiotic relationship?

Because Pipsissewa is considered endangered, I took special care harvesting this year, taking only enough to provide a minimal amount of medicine. I thanked it, and ensured that the earth was left as closely as possible to the way it was before.

More popular as an ingredient in root beer, Pipsissewa�s medicinal qualities are not well known, nor is it known for its medicinal qualities�they are more subtle and probably not well researched yet. Historically it has been used by North American natives for rheumatism and aching joints, as it does have some rubefacient qualities.

It also possesses a diuretic action similar to Uva-Ursi (bearberry) although much less astringent, with some antiseptic action on the urinary tract, so is helpful for cystitis. Being gentler to the system overall, it is helpful for kidney weakness and bladder problems, such as frequent urination at night, and can be taken several times a week for extended periods.

Pipsissewa is also known to be effective used topically for inflamed, dry, flaky skin conditions and sores.

When I inspected Pipsissewa earlier this year, its color was still a rich, pure green which did not fade after harvest (being evergreen, I would have expected this). Fresh, there was a barely detectable note of sweet, vanilla-like fragrance, but no real noticeable scent when dried. Its leaves and stems snapped off easily and dried very well.

My use of Pipsissewa will extend to making a salve from the tincture and dried herb. If I need to use the tincture internally for cystitis or kidney issues, as not many of the monographs I have studied give dosage for fluid extracts or tinctures, I would likely use 4 - 8ml three times daily initially to observe physiological response, and adjust according to that response.

Compositae. Synonyms: Featherfew, Featherfoil, Midsummer Daisy.

Ah, Feverfew (Chrysanthemum parthenium), lovely but stinky Feverfew. It grows more than abundantly throughout my yard, and will self-sow everywhere if left to its own devices. A beautiful plant with small, daisy-like flowers and delicate leaves, I enjoy how it sporadically pops up in my landscaping lending an extra cheery light.

Yes, it is getting quite comfortable around my property�just a bit too much, as I�ve had to thin it out frequently, and not always saving it for remedies. However, it�s a powerful herb, and I would be negligent if I did not use its gifts to their fullest potential.

Having many wonderful medicinal qualities, Feverfew as a vasodilator, is now standing out as an excellent preventive remedy for migraine headaches - being the only herb used in European phytotherapy known to be specific for migraine treatment. Researchers are also looking at Feverfew for its ability to help both osteo and rheumatoid arthritis, especially in its painful inflammatory stage.

Since being an emmenagogue and helpful with sluggish menstrual flow and painful periods, Feverfew is definitely contra-indicated during pregnancy. There have also been cases of the fresh leaves causing mouth ulcers if chewed alone (without food), too frequently, or if one is sensitive.

Also, being known as a topical remedy for insect bites, as well as a repellent, is another quality I will find useful living in the woods.

On inspecting my reference sample of Feverfew earlier this year, the "fragrance" was even more pungent, and actually got a curled nose and a "wheeewie" out of me. I can see why it has insect repellent qualities, and bees hate it. The color was a pure, "Kelly" green. The plant dried wonderfully and broke crisply.

With all of Feverfew�s valuable medicinal gifts, I would make both a liniment for insect bite treatments and as a repellent. But for internal use for headaches, an emmenagogue, and when or if arthritis ever should become an issue, 4 - 8ml of tincture three times a day to start would be my recommendation.

In summary�this Spring and Summer of 2005 were wonderful. Although an interesting year weather-wise, the herbs thrived. I believe I captured a good harvest, as the spring was cool and wet for their growth, but the summer was dry, stimulating formation of quality essential oils and medicinal constituents at harvest. I had a wonderful time working with the plants, and look forward to creating medicinals, salves, and other fun concoctions.

Monograph references:

A Modern Herbal by Mrs. M. Grieve (

The Little Herb Encyclopedia, Third Edition, by Jack Ritchason, N.D.

Medicinal Plants of the Mountain West, by Michael Moore

Herbal Medicine Center, by David L. Hoffmann, B.Sc. (Hons), M.M.I.M.H. (

Herbdata New Zealand by Ivor Hughes, (

American Botanical Council�s Herbal E-Web Monographs

Diploma: Balm Melissa


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