Plants Containing the Planetary Metals

This listing of plants containing significant quantities of the alchemical planetary metals has been taken from the Phytochemical Database – USDA – ARS – NGRL at http://www.ars-grin.gov/cgi-bin/

Plants Containing LEAD

1. Nyssa sylvatica MARSHALL – Black Gum (Leaf) 0.2-182 ppm

2. Symphoricarpos orbiculatus MOENCH. – Buckbrush (Stem) 2-176 ppm

3. Juniperus virginiana L. – Red Cedar (Shoot) 0.7-132 ppm

4. Nyssa sylvatica MARSHALL – Black Gum (Stem) 0.1-132 ppm

5. Prunus serotina EHRH. – Black Cherry (Stem) 0.2-108 ppm

6. Carya glabra (MILLER) SWEET – Pignut Hickory (Shoot) 2-103 ppm

7. Rhus copallina L. – Dwarf Sumac (Stem) 0.2-92 ppm

8. Fucus vesiculosus L. – Bladderwrack (Plant) 91 ppm

9. Diospyros virginiana L. – American Persimmon (Stem) 0.2-81 ppm

10. Quercus alba L. – White Oak (Stem) 0.2-76 ppm

11. Prunus serotina EHRH. – Black Cherry (Leaf) 0.3-67 ppm

12. Rhus copallina L. – Dwarf Sumac (Leaf) 0.2-67 ppm

13. Malus Domestica BORKH. – Apple (Fruit) 0.002-64 ppm

14. Pinus echinata MILLER – Shortleaf Pine (Shoot) 1.7-63 ppm

15. Lycopersicon esculentum MILLER – Tomato (Fruit) 0.003-60 ppm

16. Quercus stellata WANGENH. – Post Oak (Stem) 0.7-59 ppm

17. Liquidambar styraciflua L. – American Styrax (Stem) 0.2-57 ppm

18. Carya ovata (MILL.) K. KOCH – Shagbark Hickory (Shoot) 0.7-46 ppm

19. Sassafras albidum (NUTT.) NEES – Sassafras (Stem) 0.1-37 ppm

20. Diospyros virginiana L. – American Persimmon (Leaf) 0.5-35 ppm

21. Sassafras albidum (NUTT.) NEES – Sassafras (Leaf) 1-34 ppm

22. Quercus velutina Lam. – Black Oak (Stem) 1.5-31 ppm

23. Asparagus Officinalis L. – Asparagus (Shoot) 1.5-30 ppm

24. Liquidambar styraciflua L. – American Styrax (Leaf) 0.4-25 ppm

25. Quercus phellos L. – Willow Oak (Stem) 0.4-21 ppm

26. Rhus glabra L. – Smooth Sumac (Stem) 0.4-20 ppm

27. Hypericum perforatum L. – Common St. Johnswort (Leaf) 6-18 ppm

28. Quercus rubra L. – Northern Red Oak (Stem) 1.4-17 ppm

29. Zea mays L. – Corn (Seed) 0-14 ppm

30. Hypericum perforatum L. – Common St. Johnswort (Plant) 2-12 ppm

31. Prunus domestica L. – Plum (Fruit) 0.02-11.9 ppm

32. Phaseolus vulgaris L. – Blackbean (Fruit) 0.01-10.5 ppm

33. Cinnamomum sieboldii – Japanese Cinnamon (Root Bark) 9 ppm

34. Vitis vinifera L. – Grape (Fruit) 0.02-9 ppm

35. Vigna unguiculata (L.) WALP. – Cowpea (Seed) 0.4-8.4 ppm

36. Cinnamomum sieboldii – Japanese Cinnamon (Bark) 8 ppm

37. Citrus paradisi MacFAD. – Grapefruit (Fruit) 0.02-7.7 ppm

38. Lactuca sativa L. – Lettuce (Leaf) 0.02-6 ppm

39. Urtica dioica L. – European Nettle (Leaf) 1-6 ppm

40. Brassica oleracea L. var. capitata L. – Cabbage (Leaf) 0.002-5.8 ppm


Plants Containing TIN

1. Schisandra Chinensis (TURCZ.) BAILL. – Chinese Magnoliavine (Fruit) 940 ppm

2. Elytrigia repens (L.) NEVSKI – Couchgrass (Plant) 67 ppm

3. Juniperus communis L. – Common Juniper (Fruit) 63 ppm

4. Silybum marianum (L.) GAERTN. – Milk Thistle (Plant) 42 ppm

5. Gentiana lutea L. – Yellow Gentian (Root) 40 ppm

6. Cypripedium pubescens WILLD. – Ladyslipper (Root) 33 ppm

7. Rhodymenia palmata – Dulse (Plant) 33 ppm

8. Althaea Officinalis L. – Marshmallow (Root) 29 ppm

9. Valeriana officinalis L. – Valerian (Root) 28 ppm

10. Chondrus crispus (L.) STACKH. – Irish Moss (Plant) 27 ppm

11. Urtica dioica L. – European Nettle (Leaf) 27 ppm

12. Achillea millefolium L. – Yarrow (Plant) 26 ppm

13. Berberis vulgaris L. – Barberry (Root) 26 ppm

14. Cnicus benedictus L. – Blessed Thistle (Plant) 25 ppm

15. Trifolium pratense L. – Red Clover (Flower) 25 ppm

16. Fucus vesiculosus L. – Bladderwrack (Plant) 24 ppm

17. Glycyrrhiza glabra L. – Licorice (Root) 24 ppm

18. Harpagophytum procumbens DC. – Devil’s Claw (Root) 24 ppm

19. Mentha pulegium L. – European Pennyroyal (Plant) 24 ppm

20. Rumex Crispus L. – Curly Dock (Root) 24 ppm

21. Cucurbita pepo L. – Pumpkin (Seed) 23 ppm

22. Humulus lupulus L. – Hops (Fruit) 22 ppm

23. Myrica cerifera L. – Bayberry (Bark) 22 ppm

24. Rosa canina L. – Rose (Fruit) 22 ppm

25. Arctium lappa L. – Gobo (Root) 21 ppm

26. Caulophyllum thalictroides (L.) MICHX. – Blue Cohosh (Root) 21 ppm

27. Chrysanthemum parthenium (L.) BERNH. – Feverfew (Plant) 21 ppm

28. Plantago psyllium L. – Psyllium (Seed) 21 ppm

29. Ruscus aculeatus L. – Butcher’s Broom (Root) 21 ppm

30. Dioscorea sp. – Wild Yam (Root) 19 ppm

31. Smilax spp – Sarsaparilla (Root) 18 ppm

32. Viburnum opulus L. – Crampbark (Bark) 18 ppm

33. Viscum album L. – European Mistletoe (Leaf) 18 ppm

34. Echinacea spp – Coneflower (Root) 17 ppm

35. Thymus vulgaris L. – Common Thyme (Leaf) 17 ppm

36. Panax ginseng C. MEYER – Chinese Ginseng (Root) 16 ppm

37. Ulmus rubra MUHLENB. – Slippery Elm (Bark) 16 ppm

38. Stevia rebaudiana (BERT.) HEMSL. – Ca-A-E (Leaf) 15 ppm

39. Equisetum arvense L. – Field Horsetail (Plant) 14 ppm

40. Larrea tridentata (SESSE & MOC. ex DC.) COV. – Chaparral (Plant) 14 ppm

41. Crataegus oxycantha L. – Hawthorn (Fruit) 13 ppm

42. Polygonum multiflorum THUNB. – Chinese Cornbind (Root) 13 ppm

43. Taraxacum officinale WIGG. – Dandelion (Root) 13 ppm

44. Zingiber officinale ROSCOE – Ginger (Rhizome) 13 ppm

45. Centella Asiatica (L.) URBAN – Gotu Kola (Leaf) 12 ppm

46. Hordeum vulgare L. – Barley (Stem) 12 ppm

47. Juglans nigra L. – Black Walnut (Fruit) 12 ppm

48. Salix alba L. – White Willow (Bark) 12 ppm

49. Verbascum thapsus L. – Mullein (Leaf) 12 ppm

50. Vitis vinifera L. – Grape (Stem) 12 ppm

51. Agathosma betulina (BERGIUS) PILL. – Buchu (Leaf) 11 ppm

52. Aloe vera (L.) BURM. f. – Bitter Aloes (Leaf) 11 ppm

53. Barosma betulina (BERG.) BARTL. & WENDL. f. – Buchu (Leaf) 11 ppm

54. Ephedra sinica STAPF – Ma Huang (Plant) 11 ppm

55. Foeniculum vulgare MILLER – Fennel (Fruit) 11 ppm

56. Hydrangea arborescens L. – Smooth Hydrangea (Root) 11 ppm

57. Mentha x Piperita L. – Peppermint (Leaf) 11 ppm

58. Nepeta cataria L. – Catnip (Plant) 11 ppm

59. Turnera diffusa WILLD. – Damiana (Leaf) 11 ppm

60. Carthamus tinctorius L. – Safflower (Flower) 10 ppm

61. Chamaemelum Nobile (L.) ALL. – Garden Chamomile (Flower) 10 ppm

62. Hibiscus sabdariffa L. – Roselle (Flower) 10 ppm

63. Prunus persica (L.) BATSCH – Peach (Bark) 9.4 ppm

64. Hydrastis Canadensis L. – Goldenseal (Root) 9.3 ppm

65. Euphrasia Officinalis L. – Eyebright (Plant) 8 ppm

66. Salvia officinalis L. – Sage (Leaf) 8 ppm

67. Yucca baccata TORR. – Spanish Bayonet (Root) 8 ppm

68. Cymbopogon citratus (DC. ex NEES) STAPF – West Indian Lemongrass (Plant) 7.1 ppm

69. Lobelia inflata L. – Indian Tobacco (Leaf) 7 ppm

70. Symphytum officinale L. – Comfrey (Root) 6.7 ppm

71. Allium sativum L. – Garlic (Bulb) 6 ppm

72. Avena sativa L. – Oats (Plant) 6 ppm

73. Rhamnus purshianus DC. – Cascara Sagrada (Bark) 5.1 ppm

74. Capsicum annuum L. – Bell Pepper (Fruit) 5 ppm

75. Angelica Sinensis (OLIV.) DIELS – Dang Gui (Root) 4 ppm

76. Trigonella foenum-graecum L. – Fenugreek (Seed) 4 ppm

77. Tabebuia heptaphylla (VELL.) TOLEDO – Pau D’Arco (Bark) 3.7 ppm

78. Bertholletia excelsa HUMB. & BONPL. – Brazilnut (Seed) 3.5 ppm

79. Citrus paradisi MacFAD. – Grapefruit (Fruit) 0.66-3.3 ppm

80. Carya ovata (MILL.) K. KOCH – Shagbark Hickory (Seed) 3.2 ppm

81. Daucus carota L. – Carrot (Root) 0-3 ppm

82. Beta vulgaris L. – Beet (Root) 0.8-2.8 ppm

83. Corylus avellana L. – English Filbert (Seed) 2.7 ppm

84. Symphoricarpos orbiculatus MOENCH. – Buckbush (Stem) 0.5-2.6 ppm

85. Quercus alba L. – White Oak (Bark) 2.2 ppm

86. Carya illinoensis (WANGENH.) K. KOCH – Pecan (Seed) 1.8 ppm

87. Zea mays L. – Corn (Seed) 1-1.8 ppm

88. Juglans nigra L. – Black Walnut (Seed) 1.7 ppm

89. Cocos nucifera L. – Coconut (Seed) 1.5 ppm

90. Scutellaria lateriflora L. – Maddog Skullcap (Plant) 1.2 ppm

Biological Activities of TIN:

Antiacne ; Bactericide ; Pesticide ; Taenicide MAR;


Plants Containing IRON

1. Taraxacum officinale WIGG. – Dandelion (Leaf) 500-5,000 ppm

2. Echinacea spp – Coneflower (Root) 700-4,800 ppm

3. Symphoricarpos orbiculatus MOENCH. – Buckbush (Stem) 19-4,400 ppm

4. Valerianella locusta (L.) LATERRADE – Corn Salad (Plant) 3,519-4,143 ppm

5. Artemisia vulgaris L. – Mugwort (Plant) 1,200-3,900 ppm

6. Boehmeria nivea (L.) GAUDICH. – Ramie (Plant) 1,500-3,500 ppm

7. Physalis ixocarpa BROT. – Tomatillo (Fruit) 14-2,974 ppm

8. Harpagophytum procumbens DC. – Devil’s Claw (Root) 2,900 ppm

9. Asiasarum heterotropoides MAEK. – Asian Wild Ginger (Root) 450-2,800 ppm

10. Asiasarum sieboldii (MIQ.) MAEK. – Siebold’s Wild Ginger (Root) 450-2,800 ppm

11. Stellaria media (L.) VILLARS – Chickweed (Plant) 2,530 ppm

12. Verbascum thapsus L. – Mullein (Leaf) 2,360 ppm

13. Mentha pulegium L. – European Pennyroyal (Plant) 2,310 ppm

14. Carthamus tinctorius L. – Safflower (Flower) 81-2,200 ppm

15. Petasites japonicus (SIEBOLD & ZUCC.) MAXIM. – Butterbur (Plant) 2,000-2,100 ppm

16. Amaranthus spinosus L. – Spiny pigweed (Leaf) 22-1,965 ppm

17. Polystichum polyblepharum (ROEM.) PRESL – Chinese Polystichum (Plant) 500-1,900 ppm

18. Trifolium pratense L. – Red Clover (Shoot) 10-1,850 ppm

19. Nyssa sylvatica MARSHALL – Black Gum (Leaf) 8-1,820 ppm

20. Angelica dahurica BENTH & HOOK. – Bai Zhi (Root) 1,800 ppm

21. Schizonepeta tenuifolia BRIQ. – Ching-Chieh (Plant) 1,700 ppm

22. Caulophyllum thalictroides (L.) MICHX. – Blue Cohosh (Root) 1,640ppm

23. Ruscus aculeatus L. – Butcher’s Broom (Root) 1,640 ppm

24. Diospyros virginiana L. – American Persimmon (Stem) 3-1,620 ppm

25. Amaranthus sp. – Pigweed (Leaf) 23-1,527 ppm

26. Thymus vulgaris L. – Common Thyme (Plant) 1,075-1,508 ppm

27. Camellia sinensis (L.) KUNTZE – Tea (Leaf) 189-1,500 ppm

28. Manihot esculenta CRANTZ – Cassava (Leaf) 28-1,500 ppm

29. Arctium lappa L. – Gobo (Root) 8-1,470 ppm

30. Prunus serotina EHRH. – Black Cherry (Leaf) 20-1,440 ppm

31. Berberis vulgaris L. – Barberry (Root) 1,410 ppm

32. Anemarrhena asphodeloides BUNGE – Chih-Mu (Rhizome) 90-1,400 ppm

33. Peucedanum decursivum (MIQ.) MAX. – Qian Hu (Plant) 780-1,400 ppm

34. Nepeta cataria L. – Catnip (Plant) 1,380 ppm

35. Chamissoa altissima (JACQ.) HBK – Guanique (Leaf) 137-1,370 ppm

36. Cynanchum atratum BUNGE – Bai-Wei (Root) 1,350 ppm

37. Juniperus virginiana L. – Red Cedar (Shoot) 11-1,320 ppm

38. Polygonum cuspidatum SIEBOLD & ZUCC. – Japanese Knotweed (Plant) 360-1,300 ppm

39. Senna occidentalis (L.) H. IRWIN & BARNEBY – Coffee Senna (Seed) 1,300 ppm

40. Equisetum arvense L. – Field Horsetail (Plant) 698-1,230 ppm

Biological Activities of IRON

Antiakathisic M29; Antianemic M29; Anticheilitic DAS; Antimenorrhagic

100mg/day/wmn/orl PAM;


Plants Containing GOLD

None

Biological Activities of GOLD:

Antiarthritic ; Antiulcer MAR; Nephrotoxic ;


Plants Containing COPPER

1. Prunus serotina EHRH. – Black Cherry (Stem) 1.3-378 ppm

2. Liquidambar styraciflua L. – American Styrax (Stem) 0.6-360 ppm

3. Nyssa sylvatica MARSHALL – Black Gum (Leaf) 1.25-182 ppm

4. Liquidambar styraciflua L. – American Styrax (Leaf) 2.8-164 ppm

5. Symphoricarpos orbiculatus MOENCH. – Buckbush (Stem) 3.8-132 ppm

6. Diospyros virginiana L. – American Persimmon (Stem) 0.2-108 ppm

7. Sassafras albidum (NUTT.) NEES – Sassafras (Leaf) 1.6-102 ppm

8. Lycopersicon esculentum MILLER – Tomato (Fruit) 0.4-100 ppm

9. Brassica oleracea L. var. capitata L. – Cabbage (Leaf) 0.3-87 ppm

10. Corylus avellana L. – English Filbert (Seed) 13-82 ppm

11. Sassafras albidum (NUTT.) NEES – Sassafras (Stem) 0.2-56 ppm

12. Sesamum indicum L. – Sesame (Plant) 14-56 ppm

13. Carya glabra (MILLER) SWEET – Pignut Hickory (Shoot) 0.9-55 ppm

14. Brassica oleracea L. var. botrytis L. – Broccoli (Leaf) 0.68-52 ppm

15. Carya ovata (MILL.) K. KOCH – Shagbark Hickory (Shoot) 1.25-45 ppm

16. Phaseolus vulgaris L. – Blackbean (Fruit) 0.62-45 ppm

17. Brassica oleracea L. – Collards (Leaf) 2-43 ppm

18. Cucumis sativus L. – Cucumber (Fruit) 0.3-42 ppm

19. Quercus stellata WANGENH. – Post Oak (Stem) 1.2-42 ppm

20. Anacardium occidentale L. – Cashew (Seed) 22-37 ppm

21. Rosa canina L. – Rose (Fruit) 1.8-36 ppm

22. Eupatorium odoratum L. – Jack na bush (Leaf) 35 ppm

23. Rhizophora mangle L. – Red Mangrove (Leaf) 35 ppm

24. Prunus domestica L. – Plum (Fruit) 0.33-34 ppm

25. Cocos nucifera L. – Coconut (Seed) 3.2-33 ppm

26. Pistacia vera L. – Pistachio (Seed) 11-33 ppm

27. Psophocarpus tetragonolobus (L.) DC. – Asparagus Pea (Seed) 28-33 ppm

28. Senna obtusifolia (L.) H.IRWIN & BARNEBY – Sicklepod (Seed) 9-32 ppm

29. Nyssa sylvatica MARSHALL – Black Gum (Stem) 0.3-31 ppm

30. Quercus velutina LAM. – Black Oak (Stem) 1.5-31 ppm

31. Cucurbita maxima DUCH. – Pumpkin (Leaf) 4.2-30 ppm

32. Helianthus tuberosus L. – Jerusalem Artichoke (Plant) 8-30 ppm

33. Momordica charantia L. – Bitter Melon (Fruit) 30 ppm

34. Prunus persica (L.) BATSCH – Peach (Fruit) 0.3-30 ppm

35. Rhus copallina L. – Dwarf Sumac (Stem) 1.8-30 ppm

36. Rumex acetosa L. – Garden Sorrel (Leaf) 3-30 ppm

37. Arctium lappa L. – Gobo (Root) 29 ppm

38. Lactuca sativa L. – Lettuce (Leaf) 0.36-29 ppm

39. Prunus serotina EHRH. – Black Cherry (Leaf) 0.8-29 ppm

40. Quercus phellos L. – Willow Oak (Stem) 1-29 ppm

Biological Activities of COPPER

Antiarthritic DAS; Antidiabetic 2-4 mg/day WER; Antiinflammatory WER; Antinociceptive WER; Contraceptive MAR; Hypocholesterolemic DAS; Schizophrenigenic DAS;


Plants Containing MERCURY

1. Cinnamomum aromaticum NEES – Cassia (Plant) 60 ppm

2. Fucus vesiculosus L. – Bladderwrack (Plant) 40 ppm

3. Rhodymenia palmata – Dulse (Plant) 26 ppm

4. Lycium chinense MILL. – Wolfberry (Fruit) 8 ppm

5. Chondrus crispus (L.) STACKH. – Irish Moss (Plant) 7 ppm

6. Juncus effusus L. – Rush (Pith) 1.41 ppm

7. Arctium lappa L. – Gobo (Root) 1.27 ppm

Biological Activities of MERCURY

Nephrotoxic PAM;


Plants Containing SILVER

1. Lycopersicon esculentum MILLER – Tomato (Fruit) 0-1.4 ppm

2. Quercus rubra L. – Northern Red Oak (Stem) 0-1.32 ppm

Biological Activities of SILVER

Astringent ; Bactericide MAR; Pesticide

Herbal Chemistry

Herbs are used for healing the human body, they are considered to be holistic agents, and they are used on a physical and biochemistry level. Many pharmacologists try to find out the constituents of herbs, place them according to their chemical groups and have done numerous researches and have found herbs to be very complex in their characteristics. Herbs contain a huge variety of chemicals like water, inorganic salt, sugars, carbohydrates, proteins that are highly complex, and alkaloids.

witches alchemy

Plant Acids:

An example of weak organic acids is generally found among plants, lemon is the perfect example of citric acid. Organic acids can be split into those based on a carbon chain, and those, which contain a carbon ring in their configuration, but what both have in common is the -COOH group. Chain acids are also known as aliphatic acids, which can range from formic acid (the simplest one, found in the stings of the nettles) to the more complex chain acids like valeric acid and citric acid. Valeric acid is being used in sedatives in allopathic medicine.

The ring acids are known as the aromatic acids, they form a crucial pharmacological group. The most uncomplicated aromatic acid is benzoic acid, which is found in foods like cranberries, resins, and balsams, like Peru balsams, gum benzoin, and tolu. These acids are used in antiseptic lotions and ointments and they are also used for antipyretic and diuretic actions. One can cure a chronic bronchial problem just by inhaling these acids.

Alcohols:

Alcohols are found in a variety of forms in the plant kingdom, they are mostly a component of volatile oils or sterols, for example, geraniol in attar of rose and the menthol in peppermint oil. Waxes too are also a common form of alcohol. Mixtures of alcohols and fatty acids are generally found on leaves and other parts of the plants. Carnauba wax is acquired from the palm Copernicia cerifera.

Volatile Oils:

Volatile oils are a combination of simple molecules like isoprene or isopentane, which can mix in various ways to produce terpenes. It is a basic mix of 5 carbon molecules, sometimes with slight differences here and there. All this combines to make the volatile oils.

Volatile oils are mostly found in aromatic plants, herbs like peppermint and thyme are the perfect example of volatile oils. The combination of the oils and the smell can be in variations, even if they belong to the same types of the plant, basically, it all depends on the concentration of the oils. When these oils are extracted from the plants, the aromatic oils are produced, which are used for many therapeutic treatments, and the major part of the production is used to manufacture perfumes.

There is a wide range of aromatic oils and they each have specific qualities, though most of these oils have some common characteristics, which are worth learning about.

Most aromatic oils are antiseptics; oils like eucalyptus oil, garlic oil, and thyme oil fall under this category. These oils are absorbed with ease inside the body and they are effective for both internally and externally on the whole body system. When they are consumed internally or applied externally they land up finally in the urinary system, lungs, bronchial, sweat glands, saliva, tears or vaginal fluids. They can even occur in breast milk and during pregnancy can go to the placenta inside the fetus. Apart from having antiseptic functions, it can also encourage the creation of white blood cells, therefore increasing the immune system of the body.

Volatile oils have the quality of arousing the tissues they come in touch with, some oils like the mustard oils irritate the skin slightly, while oils like menthol and camphor leave a numb feeling. Both these oils help in digestion arousing the lining of the colon which gives reflex reaction thus increasing the gastric juices to flow, which also makes the person feel hungry. People, who suffer from acute pain, can benefit from these oils by calming the peristalsis in the lower part of the intestines.

Volatile oils are also beneficial for the central nervous system. Oils like for example chamomile oil, are known to calm and sedate, while peppermint oil helps in stimulation, both these oils have the quality so easing out any tension in the body system thus reducing conditions like depression or tension. When there is an external application of aromatic oils on the body, the aroma is easily transferred through the nose to the brain, triggering an instant reaction.

Herbs, which contain volatile oils, have to be retained by storing them carefully in sealed bottles or containers, as volatile oils can evaporate with ease.

Carbohydrates:

There is a huge variety of carbohydrates in the plant kingdom, they are found in foods like sugar: fructose and glucose, they are also found in starches, which is the storage of the main energy and they can also be in the form of cellulose which is much more complex or elaborate, which helps in supporting the structure of the plants.

Large cellulose known as polysaccharides combines with other chemicals and produce molecules known as pectins, which are generally found in fruits like apples or even in seaweeds like algin, agar or even carragum, which are found in Irish moss. They are very effective and have the power to cure and are used in producing gels, which are further used in medicines and foods.

Gums and mucilage are carbohydrates, which are complex in nature and are retained in soothing and healing herbs like coltsfoot, plantain, and marshmallow. Once applied it relaxes the lining of the gut, arousing a reflex reaction that goes to the spinal nerves to areas like the lungs and the urinary tract. The mucilage not only reduces irritation, it even reduces inflammation of the alimentary canal, it also decreases the sensitivity of the gastric acids, can cure diarrhea and reduce peristalsis, it also cures the respiratory system, lessens coughing and tension, and increases the secretion of watery mucus.

Phenolic Compounds:

Phenol is a bulging block of many components of plants. The compounds of phenol could be simple in structure or could be a composite of a variety of basic molecule. One of the simplest phenolic compounds is salicylic acid, which is generally found in the combination of sugar, it forms glycoside found in willow, cramp bark, meadowsweet, and wintergreen. It functions as an antiseptic, painkiller and has anti-inflammatory functions too. It is utilized in most allopathic medicines like aspirin, acetylsalicylic acid is the main component of this medicine.

Eugenol oil is found in cloves and it functions like a painkiller, even thymol from thyme oil also cures pains, and both oils contain salicylic acid. Bearberry acts like an antiseptic on the urinary system of the body because it contains phenol hydroquinone.

Tannins:

Tannins in herbs have the quality to function as astringents. They act on proteins and other chemicals to protect the layer of the skin and the mucous membrane. It can even bind the tissue of the gut, decrease diarrhea and also stop any internal bleeding. They are also used for an external application like the treatment of burns, healing wounds and reducing inflammation. Tannins can cure eye infections like conjunctivitis or even infection in the mouth, vagina, cervix or rectum.

Coumarins:

The evoking smell of hay is due to the coumarin chemicals. The grass is not the only plant, which contains this aromatic component of coumarins; sweet woodruff also contains these chemicals. Coumarins do not have much effect on the human body but one of its components known, as dicoumarol is a strong anti-clotting agent. Coumarins have been used extensively in allopathic medicine. Small doses of warfarin are used as an anti-clotting drug to cure conditions like thrombosis and as a rat poison, large doses are used.

Anthraquinones:

Anthraquinones are found in plants, which are supposed to be effective laxatives and they are also natural dyes. They are generally glycosides and are found in plants like rhubarb, yellow dock, senna, aloe, and buckthorn. Anthraquinones stimulates the colon after eight to twelve hours of ingestion and they also stimulate the peristalsis of the intestine, all this can be achieved if the natural bile is present. If the colon is over stimulated, then colic pain could occur. Anthraquinones are usually combined with carminative herbs to cure this type of condition.

Flavones and Flavonoid Glycosides:

Flavones and flavonoid glycosides are chemical groups commonly found in most plant components. They can actively act as anti-spasmodic, diuretic, circulatory and cardiac stimulants. Some like rutin, hesperidin, and bioflavonoid vitamin P can aid the circulatory system and decrease blood pressure too. Buckwheat is an herb, which can be used effectively for such health problems. Bioflavonoids help in absorption of vitamin C. Milk thistle is another herb, which has a strong presence of flavonoid and can cure an ailing liver.

Saponins:

Saponins have drawn the attention of majority pharmaceutical chemists in the world. They are utilized in the synthesis of cortisone, which is an anti-inflammatory drug, and they are also widely used in the synthesis of sex hormones. Saponins are found in herbs, which do not essentially act in a similar way, the body can use them as raw products to build the necessary chemicals. Natural saponins and synthesized drugs are quite similar, like cortisone and diosgenin, which is found in wild yam.

Goldenrod, chickweed, figwort, and wild yam all contain saponins, which are used to produce anti-inflammatory drugs. Saponins are very good at stimulating the upper digestive tract and herbs like primrose, mullein, violet, and daisy is rich in saponins.

Cardiac glycosides:

Cardiac glycosides were discovered in 1785 in foxglove. A lot of investigations have taken place over this chemical component. They have a lot of similarities to saponins and are used in medicine to give support to heart problems.

Cardiac glycosides are made of a mixture of sugar and steroidal aglycone. The center of activity is charted out by the characteristics of aglycone. In the combination, sugar determines the bioavailability of aglycone, which is quite active.

Cardiac glycosides are found in most flowering plants. Lily of the valley, squill, foxglove and Strophanthus family are the best resources of cardiac glycosides. In therapeutic treatment, cardiac glycosides are very effective in increasing the force and power heartbeats, and at the same time keeping the level of the oxygen intact for the heart muscles. They can help the heart to function in a steady manner without straining the organ.

Bitter principles:

Bitter principles stand for a group of chemicals that have an extremely bitter taste. They are diverse in structure and the bitterest ones are iridoids, terpenes, and other groups.

Bitter principles are known to be very effective in most therapeutic treatments. Through the taste bud, they arouse the secretion of the digestive juices and also help the liver to be more active, helping in hepatic elimination.

Sedatives like hops and valerian, cough remedies such as white horehound, anti-inflammatory herbs bogbean and devil’s claw, and the vulnerary marigold have all the properties of bitterness.

Alkaloids:

Alkaloids are the most powerful group of plant constituents that act effectively on the human body and mind. Under the category of alkaloids, you will find hallucinogen mescaline and the very poisonous brucine. These alkaloids can work on the liver, lungs, nerves and the digestive system of the body. You will find alkaloids in most of the herbs. Alkaloids inside the plants do not really have any specific function, apart from storing excessive nitrogen. Alkaloids as a group are very different in their structure and they have separated into 13 groups accordingly. Their structure is dominated by nitrogen and they have a distinguished physiological activity.

To encourage weight loss there is a supplement known as chitosan, which is basically a fat blocker. Chitosan is derived from chitin which is found in exoskeletons of shrimps and crabs, it is quite similar to plant fiber and cannot be digested easily. If chitosan is consumed orally it behaves like a big sponge absorbing the fat of the body up to four to six times than the body usually does while passing the digestive system. It helps flush out all the excess fat of the body which could have been metabolized and settled inside the body. It is like you can eat as much as you want if you are consuming chitosan.

The disadvantage of chitosan is that it does not cure chronic overeating at all. It should only be consumed for two weeks at a time to just get a weight loss diet started. Chitosan can be very good at absorbing fat, but at the same time it can be quite harmful in the sense that it can rob the body of essential vitamins like E, A, D and K. If chitosan is consumed, diet supplements like vitamins and essential fatty acids should also be included in the diet too. According to studies, chitosan is considered quite safe for any weight loss program. A test was conducted on two mice, one was administered chitosan while the other was not, the mice which had consumed chitosan and other supplement diets had few precancerous lesions than the one who did not have chitosan at all. It can also lower total blood cholesterol level in the body and raise the level of HDL, known as good cholesterol, which in turn protects the body against any heart disease. Chitosan is a versatile supplement, it is a good antacid and helps prevent tooth decay.

The Seven Steps to Spiritual Alchemy

The following are the seven spiritual and transformational steps or processes in Alchemy.

spiritual-alchemy

FIRST STAGE – CALCINATION

CALCINATION is the first of the following seven major operations in the alchemy of transformation.

Chemically, the Calcination process involves heating a substance in a crucible or over an open flame until it is reduced to ashes. In the Arcanum Experiment, Calcination is represented by sulfuric acid, which the alchemists made from a naturally occurring substance called Vitriol. Sulfuric acid is a powerful corrosive that eats away flesh and reacts with all metals except gold.

Psychologically, this is the destruction of ego and our attachments to material possessions. Calcination is usually a natural humbling process as we are gradually assaulted and overcome by the trials and tribulations of life, though it can be a deliberate surrender of our inherent hubris gained through a variety of spiritual disciplines that ignite the fire of introspection and self-evaluation.

Physiologically, the Fire of Calcination can be experienced as the metabolic discipline or aerobic activity that tunes the body, burning off excesses from overindulgence and producing a lean, mean, fighting machine. Calcination begins in the Base or Lead Chakra at the sacral cup at the base of the spine.

In Society, the Calcination is expressed in the lives of revolutionaries, conquerors, and other warriors who try to overthrow the status quo. Of the Planetary level, it is the Fire of creation, the formation of a livable environment from molten matter and volcanic ashes.

SECOND STAGE – DISSOLUTION

DISSOLUTION is the second major operation in the alchemy of transformation.

Chemically, it is the dissolving the ashes from Calcination in water. In the Arcanum Experiment, Dissolution is represented by iron oxide or rust, which illustrated the potentially corrosive powers of Water on even the hardest of metals. When processed, Vitriol breaks down into sulfuric acid and iron oxide, which are the first two Arcana or secret ingredients. The Egyptians smelted Iron as far back as 1500 BCE and used iron compounds in tonics and as disinfectants.

Psychologically, this represents a further breaking down of the artificial structures of the psyche by total immersion in the unconscious, non-rational, feminine or rejected part of our minds. It is, for the most part, an unconscious process in which our conscious minds let go of control to allow the surfacing of buried material. It is opening the floodgates and generating new energy from the waters held back. Dissolution can be experienced as “flow,” the bliss of being well-used and actively engaged in creative acts without traditional prejudices, personal hang-ups, or established hierarchy getting in the way.

Physiologically, Dissolution is the continuance of the kundalini experience, the opening-up of energy channels in the body to recharge and elevate every single cell. Dissolution takes place in the Genital or Tin Chakra and involves the lungs and spleen.

In Society, the process of steady growth through gradual Dissolution is exemplified by agrarian, monastic, or agriculture-based lifestyles. On the Planetary level, Dissolution is the Great Flood, the cleansing of the earth of all that is inferior.

THIRD STAGE – SEPARATION

SEPARATION is the third operation of transformation in alchemy.

Chemically, it is the isolation of the components of Dissolution by filtration and then discarding any ungenuine or unworthy material. In the Arcanum Experiment, Separation is represented by the compound sodium carbonate, which separates out of the water and appears as white soda ash on dry lake-beds. The oldest known deposits are in Egypt. The alchemists sometimes referred to this compound as Natron, which meant the common tendency in all salts to form solid bodies or precipitates.

Psychologically, this process is the rediscovery of our essence and the reclaiming of dream and visionary “gold” previously rejected by the masculine, rational part of our minds. It is, for the most part, a conscious process in which we review formerly hidden material and decide what to discard and what to reintegrate into our refined personality. Much of this shadowy material is things we are ashamed of or were taught to hide away by our parents, churches, and schooling. Separation is letting go of the self-inflicted restraints to our true nature so we can shine through.

Physiologically, Separation is following and controlling the breath in the body as it works with the forces of Spirit and Soul to give birth to new energy and physical renewal. Separation begins in the Navel or Iron Chakra located at the level of the solar plexus.

In Society, Separation is expressed as the establishment of clans, cities, and nationalities. Separation on the Planetary level is represented by the formation of land masses and islands from the powerful forces of Air, Water, Earth, and Fire.

FOURTH STAGE – CONJUNCTION

CONJUNCTION is the fourth of the seven operations of alchemy.

Chemically, it is the recombination of the saved elements from Separation into a new substance. In the Arcanum Experiment, Conjunction is symbolized by a nitrate compound known as cubic-saltpeter or potassium nitrate, which the alchemists called Natron or simply Salt. Blue-colored Natron acid, (aqua fortis), was made by mixing potassium nitrate with sulfuric acid and was used to separate silver from gold. The inert residue precipitated from the acid during the reaction like a child being born.

Psychologically, it is the empowerment of our true selves, the union of both the masculine and feminine sides of our personalities into a new belief system or an intuitive state of consciousness. The alchemists referred to it as the Lesser Stone, and after it is achieved, the adept is able to clearly discern what needs to be done to achieve lasting enlightenment, which is union with the Over self. Often, synchronicities begin to occur that confirm the alchemist is on the right track.

Physiologically, Conjunction is using the body’s sexual energies for personal transformation. Conjunction takes place in the body at the level of the Heart or Copper Chakra.

In Society, it is the growth of crafts and technology to master the environment. On the Planetary level, Conjunction occurs when primordial life forms are created from the energy of the Sun or lightning.

FIFTH STAGE – FERMENTATION

FERMENTATION is the fifth operation in the alchemy of transformation.

Fermentation is a two-stepped process that begins with the Putrefaction of the hermaphroditic “child” from the Conjunction resulting in its death and resurrection to a new level of being. The Fermentation phase then begins with the introduction of new life into the product of Conjunction to strengthen it and ensure its survival.

Chemically, Fermentation is the growth of a ferment (bacteria) in organic solutions, such as occurs in the fermenting of milk to produce curds and cheese or in the fermenting of grapes to make wine. In the Arcanum Experiment, the process of Fermentation is represented by a compound called Liquor Hepatis, which is an oily, reddish-brown mixture of ammonia and the rotten-egg-smelling compound hydrogen sulfide. Egyptian alchemists made ammonia by heating camel dung in sealed containers and thought of it as a kind of refined Mercury that embodied the life force. Liquor Hepatis means “Liquor of the Liver,” which they believed was the seat of the Soul, and the color they associated with the compound was green, the color of bile. Surprisingly, Liquor Hepatis exudes a wonderful fragrance, and the alchemists made a perfume of it called “Balsam of the Soul.”

Psychologically, the Fermentation process starts with the inspiration of spiritual power from Above that reanimates, energizes, and enlightens the alchemist. Out of the blackness of his Putrefaction comes the yellow Ferment, which appears like a golden wax flowing out of the foul matter of the Soul. Its arrival is announced by a brilliant display of colors and meaningful visions called the “Peacock’s Tail.” Fermentation can be achieved through various activities that include intense prayer, desire for mystical union, the breakdown of the personality, transpersonal therapy, psychedelic drugs, and deep meditation. Fermentation is living inspiration from something totally beyond us.
Physiologically, Fermentation is the rousing of living energy (chi or kundalini) in the body to heal and vivify. It is expressed as vibratory tones and spoken truths emerging from the Throat or Mercury Chakra.

In Society, the Fermentation experience is the basis of religion. On the Planetary level, it is the evolution of life to produce higher consciousness.

SIXTH STAGE – DISTILLATION

DISTILLATION is the sixth major operation in the alchemy of transformation.

Chemically, it is the boiling and condensation of the fermented solution to increase its purity, such as takes place in the distilling of wine to make brandy. In the Arcanum Experiment, Distillation is represented by a compound known as Black Pulvis Solaris, which is made by mixing black antimony with purified sulfur. The two immediately clump together to make what the alchemists called a bezoar, a kind of sublimated solid that forms in the intestines and brain.

Psychologically, Distillation is the agitation and sublimation of psychic forces are necessary to ensure that no impurities from the inflated ego or deeply submerged id are incorporated into the next and final stage. Personal Distillation consists of a variety of introspective techniques that raise the content of the psyche to the highest level possible, free from sentimentality and emotions, cut off even from one’s personal identity. Distillation is the purification of the unborn Self ¾ all that we truly are and can be.

Physiologically, Distillation is raising the life force repeatedly from the lower regions in the cauldron of the body to the brain (what Oriental alchemists called the Circulation of the Light), where it eventually becomes a wondrous solidifying light full of power. Distillation is said to culminate in the Third, Eye area of the forehead, at the level of the pituitary and pineal glands, in the Brow or Silver Chakra.

In Society, the Distillation experience is expressed as science and objective experimentation. On the Planetary level, Distillation is the realization of the power of higher love, as the life force on the entire planet gradually seeks to become one force in nature based on a shared vision of Truth.

SEVENTH STAGE – COAGULATION

COAGULATION is the seventh and final operation of transformation in alchemy.

Chemically, Coagulation is the precipitation or sublimation of the purified Ferment from Distillation. In the Arcanum Experiment, Coagulation is represented by a compound called Red Pulvis Solaris, which is a reddish-orange powder of pure sulfur mixed with the therapeutic mercury compound, red mercuric oxide. The name Pulvis Solaris means “Powder of the Sun” and the alchemists believed it could instantly perfect any substance to which it was added.

Psychologically, Coagulation is first sensed as a new confidence that is beyond all things, though many experience it as a Second Body of golden coalesced light, a permanent vehicle of consciousness that embodies the highest aspirations and evolution of mind. Coagulation incarnates and releases the Ultima Materia of the soul, the Astral Body, which the alchemists also referred to it as the Greater or Philosopher’s Stone. Using this magical Stone, the alchemists believed they could exist on all levels of reality.

Physiologically, this stage is marked by the release of the Elixir in the blood that rejuvenates the body into a perfect vessel of health. Brain ambrosia is said to be released through the interaction of light with the phallic-shaped pineal gland and matter from the vulva of the pituitary. This heavenly food or viaticum both nourishes and energizes the cells without any waste products being produced. These physiological and psychological processes create the Second Body, a body of solid light that emerges through the Crown or Gold Chakra.

In Society, it is the living wisdom in which everyone exists within the same light of evolved consciousness and knowledge of Truth. On the Planetary level, Coagulation is a return to the Garden of Eden, this time on a higher level in tune with the divine mind.

Herbalism, Anatomy, Physiology Series

Healing starts with the gut. That’s what our herbalists will tell you. A healthy digestive system supports our mental and emotional well-being, while also processing nutrients and delivering them through the entire body. And it’s not just about what you eat, but rather, what you assimilate. Through the release of the liver’s bile and digestive enzymes and an orchestra of other processes, our bodies are capable of creating fuel from the foods we eat and absorbing essential vitamins and minerals. That’s why a healthy digestive function is so important to herbal practitioners and why many tea and tincture formulas contain herbs to support the gut and the liver.

Herbalists aren’t the only practitioners to recognize the immense powers of the gut. Recent studies show that “gut feelings” aren’t just an old wives’ tale; they’re actually an old wise tale, which highlights what we now know: the gut-brain connection is incredibly intricate, and even the microbiota in our gut can influence our serotonin levels and, in turn, our mood.

Recent studies show that “gut feelings” aren’t just an old wives’ tale; they’re actually an old wise tale…

So How Does it All Work?

Digestion begins when you first see and smell your food. The sight and aroma of a delicious meal trigger the salivary glands, which release saliva to help the body break down sugar and starches. This is why digestive bitters are so good to take medicinally; they stimulate a similar reaction by igniting the taste buds to set off the production of digestive juices, from saliva to bile. We then chew our food, which is one of the first voluntary opportunities we have to promote healthy digestion. By chewing slowly, we can more mindfully process our food and promote healthy digestion.

Once you swallow your food, it then passes through the esophagus through peristalsis, a series of wave-like motions that helps to move food through the digestive tract to the stomach, where it can be stored for up to five hours. With the help of gastric juices, your food breaks down into a liquid substance called chyme and is slowly released into the small intestine. While most of the absorption happens in the small intestine, water and medications are capable of being absorbed quickly through the stomach and then directly into the bloodstream. This is why medicinal teas are so powerful.

To call this intestine small is a bit misleading. This vital organ stretches about 22 feet in length and absorbs critical nutrients through the walls of its lengthy and windy canal. From there, these digested nutrients are absorbed and delivered to the rest of the body via the bloodstream. Next stop on the digestion ride? The large intestine, where the final undigested particles are either absorbed or turned into waste to be released through the rectum. By examining or asking questions about your stool, traditional medicine practitioners can tell if your digestive system and processes of elimination are functioning properly. (Incidentally, this is why consultations involve a lot of talk about number two!) During this whole process, accessory organs like the liver, gallbladder, and pancreas also work in tandem with the stomach and intestines to facilitate digestion.

So what happens if those gut feelings aren’t all that pleasant? Here at Traditional Medicinals, we turn to our herbal allies. There are many different ways to approach digestive dysfunction, depending on the root of the symptom. If nerves are throwing your gut out of whack, we suggest calming nervines like lemon balm and chamomile.* If a heavy celebratory meal has got you feeling like a spaz, ginger is the perfect carminative to warm and soothe digestive spasms and bloating.* Or, if you’re having trouble digesting fats it might be time to use some herbal bitters, like dandelion leaf and root tea, to support liver function.* While the world of herbal remedies can feel overwhelming, digestive support is where plants easily shine. Adding these herbal teas to your eating rituals can do wonders for digestive support.*

Herbs for the Digestive System

Peppermint (Mentha x Piperita): cool and uplifting, a herbal carminative that alleviates digestive discomfort.*

Dandelion Leaf and Root (Taraxacum officinale): while the whole plant can be enjoyed as a medicinal tea for its bitter liver supporting properties,* its leaves can be enjoyed in salad, pesto, and more.*

Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare): this sweet, soothing tea might not taste like herbal medicine, but each seed contains essential oils rich with anethole and fenchone, known for their capacity to ease bloating and gas.*

Ginger (Zingiber officinale): a warming carminative traditionally used for motion sickness, stomach upset, and cramping.*

Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis): used for thousands of years as an aromatic nervine to support digestion and calm frazzled nerves.*

Chamomile (Matricaria recutita): this common flower isn’t just a sleep aid but also a calming flower that eases digestion and relaxes twitchy tummies.*

Slippery Elm (Ulmus rubra): while we famously infuse this (inner) bark into our Throat Coat Tea, this demulcent herb soothes gastrointestinal tissues, too.*

Calendula (Calendula officinalis): herbalists prize this golden flower for lending its bright notes to herbal butter, and salads. Traditionally, they use it as a gentle demulcent to moisten and soothe digestive tissue.*

Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia): this common flower isn’t just a lovely scent, but also a treasure trove of essential oils that work to calm nerves and upset tummies.

While the human body is amazingly complex, herbs that support it don’t have to be. By simply infusing one medicinal herb into your day—like herbal tea—you’re adding hundreds of medicinal compounds in your life that you didn’t have before! It’s always a good idea to connect with a herbal practitioner for individual recommendations.

bitters-class

Citrus Spiced Dandelion Bitters

Bitters aren’t just for fancy cocktails. They’re also an incredible digestive aid perfect for any holiday season.* We too enjoy mulled wines, grandma’s cinnamon raisin bread and those amazing miniature hors-d’oeuvres (that we ate a dozen of) at last week’s holiday party. But sometimes, our bodies have trouble processing all these bizarre combinations of foods. It’s at these times we turn to our bitter allies, like our lovely Citrus Spiced Dandelion Bitters.

Traditionally, all cultures enjoyed bitter foods during their mealtime rituals. Many of these bitter plants were collected from the wild or found in the garden, but farming has actually changed the taste of many of our bitter greens. Our cultivated vegetables have been bred to appeal to our preference for sweet foods, and the consequence is we’re now missing out on the incredible wellness benefits of these bitter plant allies. The bitter taste actually activates the liver and digestive juices to prepare the body to effectively process foods, which is especially helpful when digesting all the rich and fatty foods that we tend to enjoy more of during the holiday season.*

In Western Herbalism, we often create bitters as tinctures, which make it easy to incorporate bitters on the go. Tinctures are plant extracts (usually alcohol based) that can easily be taken from a dosage bottle. Taking bitters can be helpful anytime, but we suggest a teaspoon about 30 minutes before eating to give the plants enough time to activate our bodies’ natural digestive processes.

In this tincture, we have chosen to include herbs that are simple to find in the produce section, spice aisle or perhaps growing in your front yard! One of our favorite ingredients here is dandelion, and while some might consider this plant a pesky weed, the dandelion is incredibly supportive of both our digestive system and our bodies’ natural detoxification process by helping the body break down fats and carry away waste.* If you can’t find any fresh dandelion root, we would suggest using an organic Dandelion Leaf and Root Tea for this recipe.

When you taste your homemade bitters, you’ll notice a rich orange flavor, followed by cinnamon spice and a mild touch of bitter at the end.

 

Ingredients:

1 cup white rum

4 tsp of fresh orange peel

2 tbs dried dandelion root and leaf (or 6 tbsp fresh, chopped finely)

2 tsp fresh ginger

½ tsp cinnamon

6 cardamom pods

 

Materials:

12 oz Mason jar

6-8 amber dropper bottles (1 oz)

Instructions:

Place all herbs into a mason jar, and fill to the top of the jar.

Label your jar with the name, plants used, alcohol used and alcohol strength. Include the date on the label.

Shake daily for two weeks, and then strain out the herbs with muslin or cheesecloth. Be sure to squeeze out any remaining liquid from the herbs.

You should have enough extract to fill about six (or more) one-ounce dropper bottles.

You can save all this plant power for yourself, or share the bounty as gifts with friends and families. We would like to add that we would not recommend using bitters if you have kidney stones, gallbladder disease, acid reflux, hiatal hernia, gastritis, peptic ulcers, severe menstrual cramping, or if you are pregnant.

Digestion Perfection: Herbs Make Great Allies When it Comes to Keeping Your Body Running Smoothly

Digestion is one of those things you’d rather not think about if you don’t have to. When our digestive system is working properly, we take it for granted, but when it runs into problems, it can’t be ignored. Gas, constipation, heartburn-these symptoms can make one miserable. Happily, there are several steps we can take to ensure that things run efficiently. By using some simple culinary herbs and following a few basic lifestyle rules, you can prevent many of these symptoms from occurring. And if trouble does come your way, some effective, natural remedies can put you right in no time.

Digestion 101

Your digestive tract is a tube {upwards of 24 feet} that have been assigned a pretty simple job: get food from one end to the other. When food traverses the imposing territory between the mouth and the rectum, it meets with several biological processes. Food enters the mouth, where both your teeth and enzymes in your saliva start to break it down. Food disintegrates even further thanks to acid in the stomach, and then it’s on to the small intestine, bacteria finish the job, while the bloodstream absorbs nutrients. Anything left over…well, you know the rest.
Special muscles called sphincters separate each section of the gastrointestinal tract. When not in use, these muscles are tightly closed. They open to allow food residue to pass from one section to the next. Contractions move food slowly through the small intestine, inexorably marching towards the large intestine. Normally, the first part of a meal requires about 90 to 120 minutes to reach the large intestine. {The last portion of the meal may not make it there for five hours.} Thankfully, each special section has corresponding herbal remedies to help things move along at an efficient clip.

The Stomach

This first stop in the digestive journey involves powerful chemicals, including hydrochloric acid and enzymes. If these digestive juices fall short, though, the whole process gets off to a bad start, giving you that overly full, Thanksgiving dinner feeling.
Herbs with bitter flavor promote digestive secretions and speed up the processes in the upper GI tract.
Gentian root is the most popular digestive bitter in the U.S. and in Europe, often an ingredient in both alcoholic and non-alcoholic aperitifs. An ounce or so of any bitter herbal beverage taken before the first bite of a meal spurs digestive secretions and keeps food passing through on schedule. In general, bitter herbs reduce gas, bloating, allergic responses, and indigestion. Barberry root, dandelion, and artichoke are other effective bitter herbs.
In traditional Chinese Medicine {TCM}, the use of “hot” herbs can also help. Essential oils {often derived from a plant’s seeds} of carminative herbs like cardamom, dill, cumin, caraway, and lemon balm warm up the digestive tract, helping to expel gas, while speeding up and improving the efficiency of the digestive process. Use these herbs in teas. Lemon balm, and  Dill
Popular in Europe, herbal “gripe water” {griping is another word for intestinal cramping} relies on dill seed, chamomile, lemon balm, or ginger. Fennel is a stand-out in this regard, and probably the world’s most popular gas remedy, even for kids. In one study, published in Phytotherapy Research, 121 colicky infants randomly received 5 to 20 ml of a 0.1 percent fennel seed oil emulsion or placebo, up to four times daily for one week. Parents kept symptom diaries for the week, as well as the week before and the week after. The kids taking the fennel formula had a 45 percent decrease in colic symptoms, compared to a 5 percent drop in the placebo group.
In 2005, a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial looked at 93 healthy breastfed infants with colic. For one week, they consumed a dose of fennel mixture twice daily before breastfeeding. Crying time dropped {by an average of two hours per day} in 85 percent of infants in the fennel group, compared to 48 percent in the placebo group.

The Intestines

Comfortable, regular, bulky, and soft bowel movements are critical for good health. And, as the Ayurvedic aphorism explains, “If your stool is sinking, you’re sinking.” Of course, if nothing is passing through, you have a bigger problem: constipation. The medical community defines constipation as eliminating waste less than three times a week, or in low quantity.
Transit time and regularity are the key concepts behind proper bowel timing. Transit time is the time it takes a meal to be eliminated from the body after it has entered the mouth. For a person who eats a healthy, unprocessed, whole foods diet, 30 hours is average transit time, although Ayurveda maintains that the ideal time falls between 18 and 24 hours. In our constipation-prone society, 48 hours, or considerably more, is common. {Clock your transit time by swallowing something to tint the stool, such as charcoal powder, beets, or chlorophyll. Mark the time from when you’ve ingested this matter to when you see this color show up upon elimination.}
The longer waste stays in the colon, the more chance it has of decomposing into unhealthy compounds. This waste matter tends to absorb more water, too, as it sits in the body, making it harder and smaller. The body has a tougher time moving it onward. The potential long-term complications include the development of gallstones and even colon cancer.
Regularity, on the other hand, is defined as the interval between bowel movements. The gamut of recommendations runs from two or three bowel movements a week to one a day, depending on whom you ask. However, like all mammals, humans automatically start the digestive process every time they chew. Each meal stimulates this process and initiates elimination. So as a rule, natural healing practitioners insist on at least one bowel movement per day, or up to one per meal.
Success in the intestinal process depends mainly on three pillars: Peristalsis, fiber, and moisture. When everything goes right with peristalsis, the wave-like motion of muscles that impels waste out of the large intestine, muscles squeeze briefly every few seconds and then relax, propelling it toward the rectum. Stimulant laxatives can promote this wave. Among the best are senna leaf, cascara bark, and aloe leaf in capsule form. Use these only for short-term episodes of acute constipation. Start with a very small dose {500 mg} and adjust the dose as necessary. Since these herbs can sometimes produce intestinal cramps, especially in excess doses, they’re often combined with warming herbs, such as ginger and fennel. Expect these herbs to facilitate elimination in about six hours.
Fiber helps out by absorbing excess moisture, making the stool softer and increasing its size, essentially giving the muscles in the intestinal walls something to push along. Natural bulk fiber laxatives provide soluble fiber, which includes pectin from fruit, flaxseed, chia seed, and oat bran. Use these each day as necessary. Make a point of increasing your fiber intake from whole foods {fruit, vegetables, dried legumes}, as well. Aim for as much as 35 grams of fiber per day.
Psyllium seed, a well known bulk fiber laxative, balances bowel function and relieves the pain of irritable bowels. As psyllium travels through the gut, its slimy mucilage offers soothing benefit, which may relieve cramping. An English study revealed that constipation significantly improved in patients taking psyllium. Eighty-two percent of the subjects had irritable bowel symptom relief. The optimum dose appears to be 20 grams per day.
The third factor, moisture, is a common issue for constipation sufferers. Proper moisture content is critical for efficient elimination. The large intestine pumps about five gallons of fluid every day, from what we drink, plus our digestive secretions. Most of this must be reabsorbed, or else we would quickly become dehydrated.
Demulcents are herbs that contain mucilage, which coats and soothes the gut wall and helps waste exit smoothly. These herbs include marshmallow root {Althea officinalis} and slippery elm bark {Ulmusspp.}. To use either herb, stir 1 tablespoon of powdered bulk herb into a bite of food, such as applesauce, with each meal. Magnesium, a natural mineral, is an osmotic laxative that draws moisture into the bowels and softens waste. Most people can tolerate up to about 1,200 mg of magnesium per day.

Other Helpful Herbs

Herbal medicine is quite beneficial for keeping digestion perking along, as shown in the results of a study from Europe. Twenty-four patients took an herbal mixture containing dandelion, St. John’s wort, lemon balm, calendula, and fennel. Of the group, 95 percent had total relief of colitis symptoms within 15 days.
Triphala, an Ayurvedic combination of the fruits amla, haritaki and bibitaki  is the classic herbal remedy for long-term digestive help. It tones the intestinal walls, detoxifies the system, and promotes elimination. It has a high tannin content, so it treats diarrhea in low doses {1 gram per day}. In higher doses, it treats constipation in a very slow, gentle way, tightening the walls of the gut while it works. Triphala is suitable for children and ideal for older folks who need a little daily help with regularity. For maintenance, take 2 grams per day. As a short-term laxative, use 6 grams. An easy bowel movement should occur in about 8 hours.
Turmeric root {Curcuma longa} is widely used to improve digestion. A common curry spice, it keeps GI tract inflammation under control. One of its active ingredients, curcumin, the pigment that gives turmeric its distinctive yellow color, has anti-inflammatory effects comparable to cortisone and phenylbutazone, widely used anti-inflammatory drugs. And curcumin is non-steroidal, so it has none of the devastating side effects of steroids.
Like another medicinal spice, cayenne, it relieves pain by depleting nerve endings of substance P, the pain receptor neurotransmitter. Historically, this herb has been used to reduce gas, a benefit that is now getting increasing scientific support. Curcumin stimulates gallbladder contractions, promoting better digestion. Ptolymethlcarbinol, another compound in turmeric, boosts the production of several important secretions in the digestive tract.
Turmeric also increases mucin secretion, which protects mucous membranes against damage by stomach acid and other digestive juices. With its ability to suppress inflammation, increase mucin content of the stomach, and stop bleeding, turmeric prevents ulcerations of all types, including gastritis, peptic ulcer, irritable bowel syndrome, and colitis. Take 1 to 2 grams powdered herb in capsules, or as a spice, with each meal. Higher doses are quite safe and may produce better and faster results.

Licorice Root {Glycyrrhiza uralensis},

also, guards digestive mucous membranes by escalating the production of mucin. Deglycyrrhizinated licorice root {DGL} has the glycyrrhizic acid removed-glycyrrhizic acid is the ingredient in licorice root associated with increased blood pressure and water retention but retains its soothing properties. One to two chewable wafers of DGL with a meal will usually do the job.
Use 1 teaspoon of the chopped root, brewed as a tea, three times a day, or one to two chewable wafers of DGL {250-500 mg} 15 minutes before meals and one to two hours before bedtime.

Peppermint Leaf {Mentha piperita},

is a well-known digestion herb. Peppermint oil works well to prevent dyspepsia because the oil relaxes the muscles of the intestinal wall. Enteric coated capsules postpone the release of this oil until the remedy is further down in the digestive tract so that the medicine works in the right spot. They also reduce those minty burps. In one double-blind trial from Taiwan, four out of every five patients experienced reduced symptoms when given enteric-coated peppermint oil. In 1999, a study from Germany used peppermint and caraway oils to treat 223 people, and the combination brought about a significant reduction in discomfort. Another German study, published in Phytotherapy Research, from February 2000, again confirmed that a combination of peppermint and caraway oils effectively reduced unwanted intestinal symptoms. Take 1 teaspoon of chopped herb brewed as tea, three times a day, or 0.2 to 0.4 ml, three times a day, of an enteric-coated capsule.

Ginger Root {Zingiber officinale},

a warming herb works better for some folks than the cold herbs. Tasty and aromatic, this root is an eternal remedy for stomach upset. Ginger’s benefits for motion sickness and nausea has been consistently proven, and European practitioners routinely use ginger in tea for indigestion. A 2008 study, published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, had chemotherapy patients consume ginger for nausea. In 28 patients, ginger reduced the nausea of chemotherapy and the need for antiemetic medications {pharmaceutical drugs that treat nausea and vomiting}. The herb also reduces gut spasms, absorbs and neutralizes toxins in the GI tract, and boosts digestive juice secretions, including bile and saliva. Use 1 teaspoon chopped herb brewed as a tea, three times a day.
 Cinnamon Bark {Cinnamomum cassia},
another warming digestive star is a mild but useful remedy for lethargic digestion. Commission E in Germany, the European standard for herbal medicines, recommends cinnamon for loss of appetite, dyspeptic complaints, mild gastrointestinal spasms, bloating, and flatulence. Use 1 teaspoon chopped herb brewed as a tea, three times a day.
Making sure your digestion perks right along is as easy as cooking with delicious, intriguing spices, sipping some tasty teas, and turning to a few notable herbal medicines. Keep the digestive fires burning: Turn to herbal aids for a smooth, comfortable digestive experience and you’ll have the stomach for just about anything life throws your way.
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Dandy Tummy Bitters Recipe

These homemade bitters with fennel seeds and dandelion root should be taken before or after a meal to help stimulate digestion.

Take a drop or two of these dandelion bitters before or after a meal to help with digestion.

Is your digestive system ready for a big feast? Just a drop or two of any bitter herb on the tongue will help stimulate healthy digestion before or after a meal. In addition to dandelion’s bitterness, the aromatics from the fennel, ginger, and orange will help with uncomfortable post-dessert bloat.

Ingredients:

• 2 parts dandelion root
• 1 part fennel seed
• 1/2 part ginger root
• 1/2 part orange peel
• 1 glass jar with lid
• Enough 100-proof vodka to fill your glass jar
• Cheesecloth

Instructions:

1. If using fresh plants, harvest and clean your herbs before chopping and grinding them.
2. Fill a clean glass jar halfway with the fresh, ground herbs. If tincturing dried herbs, only fill the glass jar one-third of the way because dried roots will expand.
3. Pour the vodka over the herbs until the jar is full, and be sure your herb mixture is completely covered.
4. Label your jar with the name of the herbs, date, alcohol strength, and plant parts used.
5. Allow the tincture to sit for 6 to 8 weeks, shaking the jar often to keep all the plant material submerged.
6. Strain the finished tincture through cheesecloth to separate the herbs from the liquid, bottle the liquid in amber dropper bottles, and label.

A Gentle Daily Dose

Bitters:

If you wanted to get your body into good physical fitness, would you choose to exercise vigorously for 1-2 weeks of the year and otherwise remain inactive? If you wanted to live in a clean home, would you obsessively scour every nook and cranny for five straight days and every other 360 days let the mess pile up around you?  Unless you’re a wise-cracker, I’m going to go ahead and guess you answered “no” to those questions. It’s only common sense and, in fact, the model described above can be detrimental. 

Why, then, has our culture become so fond of the high-intensity detox cleanse? While there is certainly a place for narrowing in on specific dietary and lifestyle habits for a short period of time as, say, a gentle Spring cleaning or for particular health-related reasons, our focus on extreme cleanses is in general both misguided and ineffectual. 

If you’re looking to improve your health and feel better in your body, the real key is in making more subtle long-term shifts. Mohamed Ali is quoted as saying, “It isn’t the mountains ahead to climb that wear you down, it’s the pebble in your shoe”. So, let’s take a look at that pebble in your shoe; for addressing that is where you will find a sustained change in your life and in your health. And you’ll feel a marked difference once you do.

An extreme cleanse could get you to the top of the mountain, but you may very well be hurting once you arrive and it’s unlikely you’ll be making it back up there again anytime soon. Instead, take a reasonable look at that pebble. Focus on moving your body every day and eating good protein, healthy fats and lots of greens. Make time for gratitude, deep breaths, and connection. With these gentle, sustained shifts, the stamina to climb any mountain will always be at your fingertips. 

It is in these simple daily rituals that we call on bitters to do their best work and to keep us in our best shape. While it would be helpful to have a bottle of bitters with you for your yearly sprint up the mountain, they offer the most as a tonic. Taken daily before meals, your body will thank you for all of the health benefits they provide.

Enjoy the liver support bitters offer and expect a clean burning metabolism, clear, healthy skin, and fewer cravings. Appreciate how they support your digestion, and soothe gas and bloating. Note that bitters actually encourage digestive secretions, which in turns helps you absorb the most nourishment available in all that healthy food you are eating. Most of all, take small daily strides for your health and appreciate the energy and clarity that accompanies you each step of the way on your hike through life.

Bitter Principles

In modern herbal medicine, bitter principles occupy a central place in herbal therapeutics beating the acrid constituents. Most people consuming herbal medicines complain about the bitterness of the medicines prescribed. This is the only defining attribute of herbal medicine and the only feature to set it apart from other therapies.

The bitter principles work by stimulating the bitter receptors of the tongue and increasing saliva secretion. Thus, it is always advisable to taste and chew the herbs for making them most effective. The bitter principles also bring about an increase in the secretion of digestive juices, thereby increasing appetite. They protect the tissues found in the digestive tract, boosts up the bile flow and strengthens the pancreas.

Their chemical composition includes a complex pattern of molecular structures. Since they act on the bitter receptors of the mouth, thereby producing the bitter taste in the mouth, their stimulation does not produce any electrical changes on the surface of the cell. Instead, the bitter molecules bring about intracellular biochemical changes by acting on the cell membrane receptors. This facilitates an increase in calcium concentrates within the cell and signals the gustatory nerve.

The bitter substances are mostly of terpenoid structure, especially the sesquiterpene lactones, monoterpene iridoids, and the secoiridoids. Iridoids are responsible for the chief bitter constituents of the plant family Gentianaceae, Cichorium intybus (chicory), dandelion, Valeriana officinalis (Valerian), wild lettuce (Lactuca virosa), and quassia bark.

Sesquiterpenes account for the bitter taste of the Artemisia plants, or wormwood genus, Cnicus benedictus (blessed thistle), and ginkgo biloba (ginkgo). Other components which add to the bitterness are diterpene bitters, found in columbo root (jateorrhiza palmata) or white horehound (Mar.rubium vulgare). Triterpenoids are the cause of bitterness for the Cucurbitaceae family of plants, which includes pumpkin, cucumber, colocynth, marrows, and the bryonies.

Many alkaloids also contribute to the bitter taste as in the protoberberine isoquinoline alkaloids of goldenseal (Hydrastis Canadensis), and Berberis, the morphine alkaloids, the quinoline alkaloids of quinine and Angostura and the purine alkaloids ( in coffee). In addition to this, many miscellaneous compounds like ketones and amino-acids are responsible for the bitterness, as found in hops.

Bitters are indispensable when it comes to counter a heavy meal. Sometimes, chicory and dandelion roots are mixed with coffee beans to produce a bitter drink usually taken after meals. The drink vermouth is a good example of an appetizer which gets its name from bitter herb wormwood. The traditional beer that is brewed with hops can also be used as a digestive remedy due to its bitter principle. Even nowadays, bartenders are faced with the inquiry of a lot of Angostura Bitters (Cusparia angostura) which is commonly used to shoo away a hangover. What’s common to all these practices is the belief that a bitter medicine can balance a heavy or rich meal and can be the basis of excellent tonics. Our grandpas used to believe that medicines that didn’t please our tongue were the best of all. When we go through the records of traditional plant medicine we find a reflection of this notion. All the bitter medicines are cited as ‘genuine stimulants’ and the real panacea for all.

With the passage of time, we have come to discover and understand some more features of the bitter medicines. It is accepted that bitters stimulate only a certain type of taste receptors. Thus, they will have no effect if they are taken in capsules or by intra-gastric tube. The bitter taste buds are thus the mediators in the way of making the responses happen. This is one of the best examples of a reflex response which takes place when a small stimulus initiates a complex reaction. As soon as the bitter taste bud is stimulated, it releases the gastrointestinal hormone gastrin. If we study the common physiological actions of the gastrin, we find a close similarity with the traditional remedies of the bitters. We can, therefore, tally the actions of bitters with that of gastrins.

Basically speaking, gastrins are beneficial in numerous ways. Researchers over the years have established that it increases gastric acid and pepsin secretion, hepatic bile surge, hepatic bicarbonate production, intestinal juice production, pancreatic digestive secretions, and intrinsic factor secretion. At the same time, gastrins help in enhancing the flow of Brunner’s glands secretions, insulin, glucagon and calcitonin release, helps muscle tone of lower oesophageal sphincter and muscle tone of stomach and small intestine, augments cell division and growth of gastric and duodenal mucosa as well as helps in cell division and growth of the pancreas.

This information will now help us to explain the role of bitters in herbal medicine. Let us examine them one by one.

Bitters Act as Appetizers

Gastrin is known to be very effective in increasing the appetite. It acts directly on appetite centers in the hypothalamus and indirectly through increased stomach motility. As we have seen earlier, bitters have also been used as key elements in aperitifs or for increasing appetite during convalescence. They can be very useful indeed in treating anyone for whom anorexia is posing an obstacle to recovery. Sometimes, lack of appetite is the body’s own signal to prevent over-stuffing. But this type of anorexia should be distinguished from other harmful types that reduce the strength of an individual. Administering bitters then comes in quite handy and especially in case of anorexia nervosa where bitters are a very helpful tool to counter the problem.

Bitters Increase Secretion of Digestive Juices

Bitters are known to expedite the process of digestion by boosting the stomach and pancreatic enzyme secretions. In those cases where these secretions are irregular or malfunctioning, bitters can help a lot towards speedier digestion by breaking down the food material. Digestive secretions sterilize the food material inside the stomach and break down protein and other large molecules that threaten the body’s immune system.

There is a paradox with food. It is certainly the most important source of nourishment for the body, but it also poses the greatest immunological threat to it. This is reflected in the presence of lymphoid tissues in the digestive tract. The digestive juices denature the antigenic material that prevents the situation from going out of control.

Sometimes, a low rate of secretion arises due to enteric infections, or if any suggestion is found of antigen penetration through the gut wall. This may occur in case of a food allergy or an autoimmune problem that contains the symptoms of reduced digestive abilities.

Herbal therapeutics point out that a fall in digestive secretion can damage the body to a great extent. It should always be corrected immediately as and when encountered. Besides enteric infections and food allergies, such reduced ability to digest can be understood by the symptoms of a nauseous feeling or feel bloated even after taking a little food. Passing small malodorous stools is another sign.

As modern food items contain an increased percentage of adulteration, the risk of depressed digestion has increased greatly, and the only measure is to administer bitter remedies.

Since the bitters increase the destructive components of digestive secretions, their use is generally not advised in cases of hyperacidity or those with peptic ulceration. But it also raises the secretions of protective fluids, such as bicarbonate from pancreas and liver and from the Brunner’s glands. This is not the case for the acrid constituents. The bitters expedite the whole digestive process. For other reasons, they are not prescribed in hyper-acidic conditions.

Bitters Offer Protection to the Gut Tissues

In cases of heartburn, hiatus hernia or oesophageal inflammation, the reflux of corrosive stomach contents into the esophagus is prevented by bitter remedies. This task is achieved by increasing the tone of the gastro-oesophageal sphincter. The bitters also decrease the harmful effects of the digestive juices and dietary toxins by enhancing the already rapid rate of mucosal regeneration in the stomach and duodenum. This acts as a healer in the case of ulceration or infection. Similar action, if performed on the matrix of the pancreas might as well help in pulling through a pancreatic disease.

Bitters Enhance Bile Flow

Bile juice is secreted by the liver. It is also considered as the excretion of the liver. The liver contains an extremely dynamic flow of juices. If pictured, each cell can be seen as being in a stream of a mixed nutrient-rich portal blood from the gut and oxygen-rich arterial blood from the general circulation. These fluids disseminate through the cell and are subjected to heavy dispensation that is a part of the liver function. The metabolic products that are born out of this activity move from the liver cell into the outgoing blood flow. Some of the most important, however, is channeled into a separate exit that drains into the biliary system. The liver thus self-cleanses by its own mechanism.

This is the organ which suffers from all the harmful effects of binge eating, defective digestion or ill health by being overloaded with toxins or the deposition of waste material. The fluids which pass through the liver cells may not be enough to wash out the toxins. This poses a threat to the liver making it prone to liver pathology or a more common range of functional disorders. Improved flow of bile juice will definitely not allow such waste material to accumulate. Bitters play this role very effectively. With the consumption of toxic materials increasing, this is certainly one of the advantages.

The bitters have been proven to be effective in curing all allergic, metabolic and immunological conditions where the diagnosis points to the digestion. The liver exerts an influence over the immunological system as well. Even in case of herbal therapies for migraines, hepatic remedies are suggested, most of which use the bitter.

The use of bitters leads to greater production of biliary elements and dilutes the bile as well by increasing the bicarbonate content. In case of gallstone formation or gall-bladder disease, that is formed by the over deposition of bile, bitters are known to work wonders. Along with lemon juice which dilutes the bile as well, bitters are also an effective and accepted treatment of these diseases.

Bitters Improve Pancreatic Functions

Gastrin helps pancreatic secretion and also increases the secretion of insulin and glucagon, the two main hormones the pancreas produces. However, these are conflicting in nature. There is a possibility of a ‘state dependent’ effect. This is a response to gastrin that varies according to the condition of mutual and simultaneous secretion of the two hormones.
Bitters have also been used in controlling late-onset diabetes. Chinese physiology states that bitters can effectively reactive hypoglycemia and produce immediate and excellent results.
Thus we conclude that bitters neutralize pancreatic hormone secretions by increasing the amount of glucagon when insulin is high and vice versa. They are more likely to raise a hormone level when it is deficient. Bitters control fluctuations in blood sugar levels permanently and temporarily as well.

Bitters Act as Tonics

All the above contributions of bitters make it easy to understand that they can boost your health to a great extent. Their primary role is to stimulate all the above-mentioned digestive functions. The digestive processes are the platform where the nourishment requirements of the body are met. This is the place where the body examines the materials it is fed with and most calorific and metabolic processes are regulated. Depending upon the extent to which this platform is in danger under the modern living conditions, it might or might not respond to the bitter remedies.

Bitter remedies were mainly resorted to in old age or in a convalescent state in order to be able to improve the quality of nourishment to the body. However, in the modern age, as illnesses become chronic in nature and more frequent, attacking persons of all ages, it is advisable to resort to bitter remedies. Food has also become less wholesome and more prone to indigestion. Bitter remedies can definitely offset the harmful effects of adulteration to a great extent.

Herbal Bitters

At one point in time, bitters typically only made an appearance in the American diet in the form of black coffee or a dash of Angostura in a cocktail. But times are changing, and bitter-tasting herbs now rock the aisles of natural food stores, hipster bars, and the workshop offerings at herbal conferences. We can thank herbalists for bringing these herbs to the forefront of “mainstream” herbal consciousness, but medicinal bitters actually date back thousands of years and have played a major role in modern herbalism for decades.

What Is A Bitter?

Quite simply, a “bitter” is a herb that tastes bitter. Bitters stimulate bitter receptors on our tongue’s taste buds and elsewhere in the body. Strong classic bitters include gentian and wormwood, though we don’t tend to use either due to sustainable harvesting concerns and potential safety issues, respectively. Our favorite basic bitter is artichoke leaf. Fellow mild lettuce-family bitters include burdock, dandelion, chicory {radicchio, endive}, and certain varieties of lettuce. More complex bitters include coffee, which has high levels of the alkaloid caffeine, and herbs rich in the antimicrobial alkaloid berberine, including goldenseal, coptis, barberry, and Oregon grape root. Aromatic bitters include elecampane root, chamomile, lemon balm, and catnip.

What Do Bitter Herbs Do?

Although individual herbs can have different properties, we generally call on their bitter flavor to encourage a certain set of health benefits.

Turn on Digestion: Bitters are most well known for their ability to stimulate digestion and assimilation, particularly when you taste them on the tongue {versus taking them in capsule form} since this turns on digestive-system function. Peristalsis, the wave-like motion that moves food through the digestive system, kicks in, which promotes better transit time and elimination. Blood circulation to the digestive tract also increases, and the body produces more stomach acid and digestive enzymes. Interestingly, many people with acid reflux actually feel better with bitters because they improve function and signaling so that the lower esophageal sphincter shuts properly while food churns in the stomach. Bitters seem to stimulate vagal tone, improving the bi-directional communication between the digestive system and the brain.

Studies show that bitters such as gentian and artichoke leaf relieve and prevent dyspepsia, a broad group of digestive symptoms that includes belly issues with food {pain, discomfort, feeling too full}, bloating, burping, heartburn, GERD, and the loss of appetite. This effect makes bitters potentially useful in various digestive issues, such as indigestion, hiatal hernia, ulcers, gastritis, irritable bowel disorder, and gastroparesis. Finally, they boost the absorption of nutrients.

Bitters may not agree with everyone, but you can usually tell within a dose or two whether or not they’re helping you.

Boost Detoxification: Most bitters have a cholagogues action, meaning that they encourage the liver to produce and excrete more bile. The liver produces bile as a waste product when it filters the blood. The gallbladder stores this bile. After you eat and food passes from the stomach to the intestines, the gallbladder releases its contents via the common bile duct to join the partially digested food. Through this process, it leaves the body via your waste, but it also helps emulsify fats and aid digestion in the process. If you don’t have a gallbladder, your body excretes bile gradually throughout the day rather than via food-driven spurts, which is why it’s harder to digest fatty meals without a gallbladder. By improving bile production and excretion, bitters support detoxification as well as fat digestion – regardless of the status of your gallbladder.

We often turn to dandelion, yellow dock, burdock, turmeric, artichoke, and other classic bitters for these benefits. Yellow dock has added laxative effects, burdock also boosts lymph detoxification, and dandelion leaf and root both enhance kidney detoxification. Artichoke leaf and turmeric help protect the liver from damage as well. New research suggests that bitters may also improve the cell’s ability to pump out toxins for removal.

Regulate Appetite and Reduce Sugar Cravings: Bitters have additional effects on the digestive system and brain-gut connection, as well as on endocrine function. In addition to supporting vagal tone, the stimulation of bitter receptors also regulates the production of gut hormones {CCK, leptin, and ghrelin}, as well as the sensitivity of your cells to these hormones. Among other things, these hormones affect your appetite and cravings. Taking bitters with meals can help people who tend to overeat feel healthfully full more quickly while also stimulating a better appetite for people who find themselves nauseated by food. {Note that taking strong bitters without any food can overstimulate the digestive system and aggravate nausea and hypoglycemia in sensitive people.} Regular use of bitters reduces your desire for sweets and increases your interest in healthy food, which can make it much easier to opt for good food choices and maintain a healthy weight.

Some herbalists believe that many of our obesity and appetite issues stem from”bitter deficiency.” As humans have selectivity adapted our food crops from their wild to current states, we have bred out bitter flavors in favor of sweet and starchy. Technology that allows us to process and refine foods furthers that divide. What was once a ubiquitous flavor in our diet is now quite rare, particularly in American cuisine. Other cultures still maintain the use of bitters in the meal, including citrus peel, bitter cordials, tamarind, artichoke, and wild bitter greens and lettuces. Even though we love our bitter coffee and chocolate, we sweeten and cream them past the point of recognition.

Lower Blood Sugar: We almost intuitively know that bitters reduce blood sugar when we sip black tea or coffee alongside something sweet. When consumed with sweets, bitters may reduce the glycemic effect of that food and improve the body’s sensitivity to insulin. This goes along well with the aforementioned ability of bitters to improve satiety as we eat, reduce sugar cravings, and improve our desire for healthy foods. Researchers think that insulin resistance may be caused in part by a lack of bitter stimulation of receptors on the pancreas.

Beyond The Bitter Basics

New research is revealing, even more, capabilities of the bitter flavor. We’re finding bitter receptor sites throughout the body, not just on the tongue or in the digestive tract. Here are a few potential benefits bitters may offer based on highly preliminary research:

  • Improving lung function by boosting bronchodilation.
  • Improving longevity by enhancing gene function.
  • Encouraging the parasympathetic “relaxation” response via its vagal nerve stimulation.
  • Promote bladder control.
  • Helping to regulate energy metabolism in the cardiovascular system, as well as heart rhythm and contractile force.
  • Supporting immune function.

Bitter Herbal “Coffee”

This coffee-like drink tastes particularly nice over ice. You may also enjoy adding chaga, cacao powder, and/or a pinch of ginger or nutmeg to the mix. It’s caffeine-free unless you use cacao.

1 part dandelion root

1 part burdock root

1 part roasted chicory root

1 part cinnamon chips or 1 cinnamon stick per cup {optional}

Simmer one heaping teaspoon of the blend per 8 to 16 ounces of water for 20 minutes. Strain and enjoy hot or cold. While it tastes great with cream and sugar, these offset the benefits.

Bitters Spray

Blends of bitters generally include strong bitters, warming spices, and perhaps a few other extras. Lightly sweeten them if desired. You can use dried herbs to make your own bitter tincture blend. Feel free to play around to create your own mix. Citrus peel/fruit, spices, elecampane, catnip, lemon balm, chamomile, holy basil, blue vervain, fennel, and other herbs make welcome additions.

1/2 oz dandelion root

1/2 oz artichoke leaf

1/2 oz burdock root

1/2 Tsp grated fresh ginger

1 cardamom pod

4 oz of 80- or 100-proof vodka

2 oz of maple syrup or vegetable glycerine {or substitute more vodka}

Combine all of the above in an 8-ounce jar with a tight lid. If needed, top it off with more vodka so that it’s filled to the brim. Shake every day or so. Strain after one month, bottle, and store in a cool, dark, dry spot.

To Use: Take 1 ml {30 drops} or 1-4 sprays by mouth or add 1-2 ml to plain seltzer and sip with meals.

Bitters: A Healing Craft

WE ARE IN THE MIDST OF A RENAISSANCE in both the interest in natural health and herbal medicine; and the craft cocktail. The use of bitter herb extracts are a key part of both of these wonderful traditions, and a practice I adhere to regularly.

 bitters-class

What Are Bitters & How Do They Work?

“Bitters” as a term refers to an alcohol extract of bitter tasting herbs such as gentian or yellow dock mixed with spices and natural flavors. Bitters formulas were very popular in the 1800s as herbal formulas and it is to this knowledge that we refer back to as bitters again gain deserved attention. Certain classes of herbs that produce a bitter flavor have a similar effect on the body, and herbalists know these bitter tasting herbs to have a positive effect on the digestion system and the body’s detoxification system. When bitters are tasted by specific receptor sites in the mouth, and at sites found throughout the entire gastrointestinal system, they activate the digestion system to function properly.

In the early 20th century, herbalism was the most common form of healing in North America. Most people had common knowledge of how to use herbs to heal common ailments. Bartenders knew this too. Bitter herbs are particularly helpful when we are consuming excess food and alcohol. Bitters were a key component in traditional cocktails and still are to this day. In cocktails, bitters provide depth and character to cocktails. They are the ingredient you should not be able to pick out clearly but would miss it if it was not there, like salt and pepper in food. Pre-abolition there were hundreds of bitters companies, but by the mid-20th century, it reduced down to a handful including Angostura and Peychaud’s. Happily, in the last decade there have been craft bitters companies popping up all over North America and you can now easily find a wide range of bitters that range from small distillers who brew their own alcohol and infuse the herbs in the process, herbalists preparing medicinal grade formulas, as well as a slew of incredible formulators making bitters for culinary uses and popular cocktails.

It’s exciting to be both a herbalist and cocktail enthusiast these days. We have an opportunity to share wonderful drinks with friends and family while at the same time sharing the wonderful healing properties of bitters. You can bookend your celebration meals with cocktails, aperitifs, or even desserts that feature a dash of bitters and support your guest’s health and feeling of wellness. Bitters taken before and after meal times support our bodies in a number of ways:

  • Stimulating the important vagus nerve in our body that connects key parts of our gastrointestinal system such as the tongue, stomach, intestines, liver, and gallbladder. This nerve is the ‘brain-to-gut connection’
  • Increasing saliva and digestive enzyme secretions
  • Slowing the movement of food out of the stomach and into the intestines. This action makes us feel fuller faster, and prevents gas and bloating through a better breakdown of food in the stomach.
  • Ensures a proper seal of the valve between your esophagus and stomach preventing acid backing up and causing heartburn
  • Supporting the liver and gallbladder by kick-starting important secretions and proper detoxification

Many traditional cocktail recipes such as the Old Fashioned and Manhattan call for bitters but feel free to add a dash to any cocktail you love. I personally recommend serving a dash of bitters in a small glass with sparkling water and/or a splash of juice as a pre-dinner aperitif.

MAKING BITTERS

Making your own bitters is deceptively easy to do—all you need are some bitter herbs, spices, a jar, vodka, a touch of patience, and a willingness to experiment. With bitters, a little goes a long way. When making bitters of your own start by making small amounts. A one-ounce bottle will last you many, many, cocktails. Use recycled jam or even spice jars for making your them—don’t start with large quart-sized mason jars.

When making bitters you can technically use any alcohol you like. Every bitters-maker has their favorite for a reason. When teaching herbal medicine making, I recommend my students start making their alcohol extracts with vodka. It’s clear and neutral in flavor so you can really see and taste the herbs you infuse into it. It’s also 40% alcohol so you get a good extract of a range of constituents and it ensures proper preservation. Once you’ve made a few formulas I encourage you to try other types such as bourbon, whiskey or rum.

The next step is to get your hands on some herbs. Most local health food stores carry a selection of organic dried herbs, and you can use fresh ingredients from the grocery store or a local garden. You can use either fresh or dried herb in your bitters. (Note that herbs shrink by roughly half their weight when dried so you would use half as much of a dried herb as you would fresh.) If buying herbs it is important to buy certified organic or cultivated herbs as some species such as gentian are endangered in the wild. Most organic gardeners in your area would be quite happy to have you dig a few dandelions or yellow dock roots as they are very weedy species!

bitters making

 

To craft your own bitters extract here are some guidelines to follow for ratios of herbs;

  • 10% very bitter herbs: These would include gentian, cinchona, yellow dock or wormwood. They are by far the most intense, and using too much will overpower your formula.
  • 50% medium to mild bitter herbs: We get most of our action from medium to mild bitters herbs. My favorites are dandelion root and leaf, orange or lemon peel (make sure you include the white pith), bitter greens such as parsley or arugula, and angelica root.
  • 30% aromatic herbs: This is where we get to have fun. Aromatic herbs are what we think of as tea and spice herbs. Use ones that smell fragrant and delicious—some examples are rosemary, coriander, fennel, peppermint, ginger, lemongrass, celery seed, or allspice. This part of the formula is where you get to really infuse the flavor you want, allowing you to play and experiment until you stumble upon a blend you really like.
  • 10% sweet: A touch of sweetness acts as a harmonizer in our formulas. It pulls together the flavors and actually helps their uptake in the body. You can use traditional sweeteners such as simple syrup, maple syrup or honey (these you would add after you have infused and strained the extract). You can also use herbs on the sweet spectrum such as burdock root, codonopsis root, or licorice root. If you want to make savory bitters such as rosemary or jalapeno, I’d use burdock root.

To make your extract you need enough herb to loosely fill half of the jar if using dried or three-quarters if using fresh. Top the herbs with vodka, seal with a tight-fitting lid, and label with the date and contents. The important part is that the herbs are covered entirely by the alcohol in the jar; you may need to top up the jar a day or two later as the dried herbs will absorb some of the fluid. Place this jar in a dark place and shake daily for a period of two weeks to one month. Taste your formula every few weeks to see when you like the flavor. When the bitters are ready, strain the mixture through a fine strainer or an unbleached coffee filter. If using honey, maple syrup, or simple syrup as a sweetener this is the time to add it. A good ration is a tablespoon of sweetener to a cup of extract, shaking well to dissolve. Pour the finished extract into a clean bottle; a small dropper bottle works great. Let your extract age for at least one or up to a few weeks and then start using them in your favorite recipes, or as a digestive tonic before meals.

Modern Herbal Medicine ~ ‘Bitter Principles’

In modern herbal medicine, bitter principles occupy a central place in herbal therapeutics beating the acrid constituents. Most people consuming herbal medicines complain about the bitterness of the medicines prescribed. This is the only defining attribute of herbal medicine and the only feature to set it apart from other therapies.

The bitter principles work by stimulating the bitter receptors of the tongue and increasing saliva secretion. Thus, it is always advisable to taste and chew the herbs for making them most effective. The bitter principles also bring about an increase in the secretion of digestive juices, thereby increasing appetite. They protect the tissues found in the digestive tract, boosts up the bile flow and strengthens the pancreas.

Their chemical composition includes a complex pattern of molecular structures. Since they act on the bitter receptors of the mouth, thereby producing the bitter taste in the mouth, their stimulation does not produce any electrical changes on the surface of the cell. Instead, the bitter molecules bring about intracellular biochemical changes by acting on the cell membrane receptors. This facilitates an increase in calcium concentrates within the cell and signals the gustatory nerve.

The bitter substances are mostly of terpenoid structure, especially the sesquiterpene lactones, monoterpene iridoids, and the Seco iridoids. Iridoids are responsible for the chief bitter constituents of the plant family Gentianaceae, Cichorium intybus (chicory), dandelion, Valeriana officinalis (Valerian), wild lettuce (Lactuca virosa), and quassia bark.

Sesquiterpenes account for the bitter taste of the Artemisia plants, or wormwood genus, Cnicus benedictus (blessed thistle), and Ginkgo Biloba (ginkgo). Other components which add to the bitterness are diterpene bitters, found in columbo root (jateorrhiza palmata) or white horehound (Mar.rubium vulgare). Triterpenoids are the cause of bitterness for the Cucurbitaceae family of plants, which includes pumpkin, cucumber, colocynth, marrows, and the bryonies.

Many alkaloids also contribute to the bitter taste as in the protoberberine isoquinoline alkaloids of goldenseal (Hydrastis Canadensis), and Berberis, the morphine alkaloids, the quinoline alkaloids of quinine and Angostura and the purine alkaloids ( in coffee). In addition to this, many miscellaneous compounds like ketones and amino acids are responsible for the bitterness, as found in hops.

Bitters are indispensable when it comes to counter a heavy meal. Sometimes, chicory and dandelion roots are mixed with coffee beans to produce a bitter drink usually taken after meals. The drink vermouth is a good example of an appetizer which gets its name from bitter herb wormwood. The traditional beer that is brewed with hops can also be used as a digestive remedy due to its bitter principle. Even nowadays, bartenders are faced with the inquiry of a lot of Angostura Bitters (Cusparia angostura) which is commonly used to shoo away a hangover. What’s common to all these practices is the belief that a bitter medicine can balance a heavy or rich meal and can be the basis of excellent tonics. Our grandpas used to believe that medicines that didn’t please our tongue were the best of all. When we go through the records of traditional plant medicine we find a reflection of this notion. All the bitter medicines are cited as ‘genuine stimulants’ and the real panacea for all.

With the passage of time, we have come to discover and understand some more features of the bitter medicines. It is accepted that bitters stimulate only a certain type of taste receptors. Thus, they will have no effect if they are taken in capsules or by intragastric tube. The bitter taste buds are thus the mediators in the way of making the responses happen. This is one of the best examples of a reflex response which takes place when a small stimulus initiates a complex reaction. As soon as the bitter taste bud is stimulated, it releases the gastrointestinal hormone gastrin. If we study the common physiological actions of the gastrin, we find a close similarity with the traditional remedies of the bitters. We can, therefore, tally the actions of bitters with that of gastrins.

Basically speaking, gastrins are beneficial in numerous ways. Researchers over the years have established that it increases gastric acid and pepsin secretion, hepatic bile surge, hepatic bicarbonate production, intestinal juice production, pancreatic digestive secretions, and intrinsic factor secretion. At the same time, gastrins help in enhancing the flow of Brunner’s glands secretions, insulin, glucagon and calcitonin release, helps muscle tone of lower oesophageal sphincter and muscle tone of stomach and small intestine, augments cell division and growth of gastric and duodenal mucosa as well as helps in cell division and growth of the pancreas.

This information will now help us to explain the role of bitters in herbal medicine. Let us examine them one by one.

Bitters Act as Appetizers

Gastrin is known to be very effective in increasing the appetite. It acts directly on appetite centers in the hypothalamus and indirectly through increased stomach motility. As we have seen earlier, bitters have also been used as key elements in aperitifs or for increasing appetite during convalescence. They can be very useful indeed in treating anyone for whom anorexia is posing an obstacle to recovery. Sometimes, lack of appetite is the body’s own signal to prevent over-stuffing. But this type of anorexia should be distinguished from other harmful types that reduce the strength of an individual. Administering bitters then come in quite handy and especially in the case of anorexia nervosa where bitters are a very helpful tool to counter the problem.

Bitters Increase Secretion of Digestive Juices

Bitters are known to expedite the process of digestion by boosting the stomach and pancreatic enzyme secretions. In those cases where these secretions are irregular or malfunctioning, bitters can help a lot towards speedier digestion by breaking down the food material. Digestive secretions sterilize the food material inside the stomach and break down protein and other large molecules that threaten the body’s immune system.

There is a paradox with food. It is certainly the most important source of nourishment for the body, but it also poses the greatest immunological threat to it. This is reflected in the presence of lymphoid tissues in the digestive tract. The digestive juices denature the antigenic material that prevents the situation from going out of control.

Sometimes, a low rate of secretion arises due to enteric infections, or if any suggestion is found of antigen penetration through the gut wall. This may occur in the case of a food allergy or an autoimmune problem that contains the symptoms of reduced digestive abilities.

Herbal therapeutics point out that a fall in digestive secretion can damage the body to a great extent. It should always be corrected immediately as and when encountered. Besides enteric infections and food allergies, such reduced ability to digest can be understood by the symptoms of a nauseous feeling or feel bloated even after taking a little food. Passing small malodorous stools is another sign.

As modern food items contain an increased percentage of adulteration, the risk of depressed digestion has increased greatly, and the only measure is to administer bitter remedies.

Since the bitters increase the destructive components of digestive secretions, their use is generally not advised in cases of hyperacidity or those with peptic ulceration. But it also raises the secretions of protective fluids, such as bicarbonate from pancreas and liver and from the Brunner’s glands. This is not the case for the acrid constituents. The bitters expedite the whole digestive process. For other reasons, they are not prescribed in hyper-acidic conditions.

Bitters Offer Protection to the Gut Tissues

In cases of heartburn, hiatus hernia or esophageal inflammation, the reflux of corrosive stomach contents into the esophagus is prevented by bitter remedies. This task is achieved by increasing the tone of the gastro-oesophageal sphincter. The bitters also decrease the harmful effects of the digestive juices and dietary toxins by enhancing the already rapid rate of mucosal regeneration in the stomach and duodenum. This acts as a healer in the case of ulceration or infection. Similar action, if performed on the matrix of the pancreas might as well help in pulling through a pancreatic disease.

Bitters Enhance Bile Flow

Bile juice is secreted by the liver. It is also considered as the excretion of the liver. The liver contains the extremely dynamic flow of juices. If pictured, each cell can be seen as being in a stream of a mixed nutrient-rich portal blood from the gut and oxygen-rich arterial blood from the general circulation. These fluids disseminate through the cell and are subjected to heavy dispensation that is a part of the liver function. The metabolic products that are born out of this activity move from the liver cell into the outgoing blood flow. Some of the most important, however, is channeled into a separate exit that drains into the biliary system. The liver thus self-cleanses by its own mechanism.

This is the organ which suffers from all the harmful effects of binge eating, defective digestion or ill health by being overloaded with toxins or the deposition of waste material. The fluids which pass through the liver cells may not be enough to wash out the toxins. This poses a threat to the liver making it prone to liver pathology or a more common range of functional disorders. Improved flow of bile juice will definitely not allow such waste material to accumulate. Bitters play this role very effectively. With the consumption of toxic materials increasing, this is certainly one of the advantages.

The bitters have been proven to be effective in curing all allergic, metabolic and immunological conditions where the diagnosis points to the digestion. The liver exerts an influence over the immunological system as well. Even in the case of herbal therapies for migraines, hepatic remedies are suggested, most of which use the bitter.

The use of bitters leads to greater production of biliary elements and dilutes the bile as well by increasing the bicarbonate content. In the case of gallstone formation or gall-bladder disease, that is formed by the over deposition of bile, bitters are known to work wonders. Along with lemon juice which dilutes the bile as well, bitters are also an effective and accepted treatment of these diseases.

Bitters Improve Pancreatic Functions

Gastrin helps pancreatic secretion and also increases the secretion of insulin and glucagon, the two main hormones the pancreas produces. However, these are conflicting in nature. There is a possibility of a ‘state dependent’ effect. This is a response to gastrin that varies according to the condition of mutual and simultaneous secretion of the two hormones.
Bitters have also been used in controlling late-onset diabetes. Chinese physiology states that bitters can effectively reactive hypoglycemia and produce immediate and excellent results.
Thus, we conclude that bitters neutralize pancreatic hormone secretions by increasing the amount of glucagon when insulin is high and vice versa. They are more likely to raise a hormone level when it is deficient. Bitters control fluctuations in blood sugar levels permanently and temporarily as well.

Bitters Act as Tonics

All the above contributions of bitters make it easy to understand that they can boost your health to a great extent. Their primary role is to stimulate all the above-mentioned digestive functions. The digestive processes are the platform where the nourishment requirements of the body are met. This is the place where the body examines the materials it is fed with and most calorific and metabolic processes are regulated. Depending upon the extent to which this platform is in danger under the modern living conditions, it might or might not respond to the bitter remedies.

Bitter remedies were mainly resorted to in old age or in a convalescent state in order to be able to improve the quality of nourishment to the body. However, in the modern age, as illnesses become chronic in nature and more frequent, attacking persons of all ages, it is advisable to resort to bitter remedies. Food has also become less wholesome and more prone to indigestion. Bitter remedies can definitely offset the harmful effects of adulteration to a great extent.

Cleansing, Balancing, Rituals, and Routines

Our Full Moon Rituals

Full moons have forever been a mystical time of connecting with our spiritual, sacred feminine selves. Many Goddess and earth-based traditions honored all phases of the moon, while Eastern religions like Hinduism and Buddhism still celebrate special holidays according to the lunar calendar.

While new moons are associated with new beginnings, full Moons represent the culmination of energy: fruition, completion, and celebration, as well as releasing and shedding of the old to pave way for a whole new cycle.

Because the full moon increases psychic and emotional sensitivity, many of us feel its effects very palpably—often starting the days leading up to the full moon. While it can feel overwhelming to deal with the intense energies it brings up, learning to harness the gifts of this special time can help us not only better manage everything that comes up, but create powerful shifts in our psyches and our lives.

Here are five magical full moon rituals to embrace the many gifts of this blessed time every month. You can do them all (I recommend progressively), try one or two, or experiment with whatever you feel guided to. It’s a full moon, after all, so trust your intuition!

1. Shed Light on Darkness: Journal Ritual

One of the reasons we can feel so emotional during a full moon is because it’s a time of making the unknown known, the unconscious conscious, the hidden seen. Naturally, this includes relationships and patterns that are not in alignment with our truth and highest good.

If we don’t allow ourselves to face and process these insights, we may feel hypersensitive, confused and overwhelmed.

The best thing we can do for ourselves during such a time is actually take some time to express everything we are feeling in a safe and healthy way.

A simple ritual to bring light to any darkness you are facing is to take a sheet of paper and write out everything you are feeling—uncensored. Notice any surprises or insights you gain about issues that are important to you. Have you been ignoring or suppressing your feelings in a certain area? Have you been settling, compromising, or disowning your truth and boundaries? Are you ready to release what’s no longer serving you?

You don’t need to know the answers, but it’s important to ask the questions. In the next steps, you will learn how to awaken your intuition, which will guide you to any action to take and changes to make as you move forward.

For now, once you feel you have released all that you need to on this sheet of paper, (very safely, perhaps in a pot) burn it.

You can write an intention at the end, such as, “I now release all that no longer serves me for total healing, purification, and transmutation, for my best and highest good.”

As the paper burns, wash away any ashes or surrender them to Mother Earth, and feel the lightness of releasing what lurked in the dark before.

2. Clear Your Energy with Sage: Smudging Ritual

If you choose to do the above ritual, smudging is wonderful to perform after, although it can be done independently and anytime as well.

Of course, for this, you will need to have a sage wand/bundle handy, which can be bought from most spiritual/new age shops as well as online.

Smudging is a powerful energy clearing ritual used in Native and earth-based traditions during ceremonies. It is said to help release negative, toxic, stagnant energies, and even get rid of earth-bound spirits and attachments.

A full moon night is an especially potent time for a smudging ritual, as after facing and releasing what needs to, you can ceremoniously clear it away with the smoke of sacred sage.

To perform the ritual, simply burn the dried sage bundle, keeping a ceramic/fire-safe dish underneath to catch the ashes, and simply waft it around your entire body (at about a two-feet long distance).

As you do so, you can again set an intention such as, “I release all that no longer serves me for my highest good.”

After smudging yourself, you can smudge your home by waving the wand in the corners and centers of each room of your home—or anywhere you feel guided. Trust your intuition, as you may feel the need to smudge some unexpected places or linger somewhere a little longer.

Be sure to perform this very safely, keeping distant from fabrics, pets, children and always a dish underneath. You just need to wave the wand once or twice in each area to get the smoke flowing there as you keep moving along. Keep an eye out for any fallen ashes and put them out immediately.

After the ritual, open all your windows to air out the smoke and let new, fresh energy, and ideally moonlight, into your home.

Bonus step: Since your space is now clear, you can go around the center of each home and “re-program” the energy by setting intentions for what you want to bring into your space and life instead. You can clap three times at the end of each intention to seal it in, or if you have a bell or singing bowl, ring it three times for extra blessings.

Finally, you can also clear your spiritual objects like crystals, oracle decks, and malas by waving the sage bundle around each one three times.

3. Charge Your Spiritual Tools: Magical Infusion Ritual

The light of the full moon is amplifies everything with magic, so it’s a great time to infuse this energy into our spiritual tools, like crystals, essential oils, malas, and incense, etc.

I recommend clearing them with sage as mentioned above first so that they are pure and clear before absorbing the energy of the moon.

To “charge” them set your intention with each object and place it somewhere it can get the maximum amount of moonlight throughout the night.

For example, if you are using a crystal for a specific purpose, you can state your intention for that crystal and then add, “I welcome the light and magic of this full moon to bless and empower this crystal, and open me to all its gifts for my highest good.”

Be sure to take all your objects back in the morning, as some crystals and spiritual tools can react to and alter with sunlight.

As you place each object back in your space, thank each one, along with the moon, for their potent new energy, and notice the shift as you work with them.

4. Soak Up the Moonlight: Moon Bathing Ritual

This step may be a little risque, but since the full moon can bring out the primal animal in each of us, I had to include it! If you can do this safely and privately, it’s a beautiful idea to moon bathe in the nude or with minimal clothing. You don’t have to go outdoors. If you can see the moon from your bedroom, it’s actually advisable to do this there with a locked door!

Simply lie down and let the rays of the moon infuse you with their healing energy. Especially if you have done the clearing rituals above, think of this as a way to replenish, because whenever we release, we create space, and when we create space, we want to fill it consciously.

What better way to replace the darkness that you released than by filling up with magical moonlight?

As the light shines on and over you, imagine your mind, body, heart, and energy field soak up all luminescent silvery rays. While sunlight energizes and uplifts us, moonlight awakens our intuitive, receptive, softer, spiritual side. Absorbing full moonlight is especially healing for us women as it nourishes our sacral chakras—our wombs and menstrual—or moon—cycles.

You by no means need to lay under the moon all night—about 20 to 30 minutes depending on what’s feasible and comfortable for you will work wonders. I also love to play the Kundalini mantra, “Ra Ma Da Sa Sa Se So Hum” -which invokes the healing blessings of all physical and heavenly bodies—when moon bathing.

It’s also super fun and sacred bonding experience to do this with a trusted partner or friend. So find a safe spot, peel away those clothes and let Mother Moon shower you with her love!

5. Connect with the Moon Goddesses: Goddess Meditation Ritual

Because of our monthly cycles, women have always had a very intimate and special connection with the moon. The waxing, full and waning moon are associated with the triple goddess archetypes of Maiden, Mother and Crone, a new menstrual cycle, ovulation and bleeding/shedding, and the universal cycle of birth, life and death/transformation.

Because the full moon corresponds to the Mother (at its fullest) and Crone (just after full/starting to wane), the goddesses associated with it are intuitive Egyptian goddess Isis and Celtic Morrigan, Mayan healing goddess Ixchel, maternal Greek goddesses Demeter and Selene, and Norse Frigg/Freya—to name a few.

As each of these goddesses awaken different sacred feminine aspects within us, you can ask for all their gifts of specific ones, depending on what you want to open to in your life.

To connect with them, simply sit in meditation (you can also do this before lying down in the above moon bathing ritual), and state the name of the goddess you wish to invite and any specific area you wish to work on with her. For example, you can invite Demeter to nourish yourself and be more receptive, Ixchel to heal your menstrual cycle, Frigg for fertility, and Isis and Morrigan for increased intuition.

Remember, these goddesses ultimately represent your own sacred feminine qualities, so when meditating, connect with them in whatever way resonates with you—as goddesses in and of themselves, or as divine feminine aspects within yourself.

There’s nothing more to it than inviting them and just sitting in meditation. Pay attention to your intuitive senses, which are clairaudience (clear healing), clairsentience (clear feeling), claircognizance (clear knowing) and clairvoyance (clear seeing). Depending on which sense is stronger for you, you may hear, feel, know or see their guidance, presence, and love.

No matter what, trust that by simply asking for the support of these goddesses, you are opening to connect with your own divine feminine gifts, which reveal themselves subtly and mysteriously within yourself and your life.

As you play with these rituals, know that you are harnessing the incredible energies and gifts of a time that can otherwise feel overwhelming and out of control.

All cycles in nature bestow us with their own gifts and learning how to embrace the magical phases of the moon helps elevate our human existence into a sacred experience. So let’s open our arms to Mother Moon, and allow her to take us in hers.

Lungwort

Pulmonaria Officinalis

Lungwort is a perennial herb that normally grows up to a height of one feet or 30 cm. The plant bears wide oval-shaped leaves at the base, while the upper leaves are relatively smaller marked with the irregular color pattern, especially white spots. The lungwort plants also bear bunches of pink-purple colored flowers.

Going by the Middle Ages Doctrine of Signatures, an ancient European philosophy, herbs bearing parts that resembled human body parts, animals, or other objects, had useful relevancy to those parts, objects or animals. It may as well indicate to the surroundings or specific places in which herbs grew. Following this theory, lungwort is effective in treating chest ailments and hence its leaves bear resemblance to the lung tissues.

The lungwort plant is native to Europe and western Asia and belongs to the family of Boraginaceae and the Pulmonaria genus of flowering plants. One species of the plant – P. mollissima – is found in the region spreading from east to central Asia. Rough estimates prepared by various herbalists list around 10 to 18 species of Pulmonaria growing in the wild. However, researchers have found it extremely difficult and perplexing to classify or categorize (taxonomy) this species of the plant.

Interestingly, the scientific term Pulmonaria has been obtained from the Latin word Pulmo literally translated to English means ‘the lung’. During the period of ‘sympathetic magic’ (magic based on the belief that somebody or something can be supernaturally affected by something done to an object representing the person or thing) people were of the view that the white spots on the oval leaves of P. Officinalis were a sign of unhealthy lungs affected by ulcers. Consequently, they widely used the lungwort or medicines prepared from its derivatives to treat all pulmonary diseases. Significantly, owing to its properties to heal pulmonary diseases or infections of the lungs, the plant’s name in many languages refers to the lungs.

For instance, in English, it is known as ‘lungwort’, while in German it is called ‘Lungenkraut’. On the other hand, in some languages in Eastern Europe, the plant derives its common name from a word of ‘honey’. Like in Russian it is known as ‘medunitza’, while the Polish call it ‘miodunka plamista’ – both terms meaning ‘honey’ in the respective languages. In addition, in English lungwort also has many colloquial or idiomatic names – Soldiers and Sailors, Spotted Dog, Joseph and Mary, Jerusalem, Cowslip and Bethlehem Sage.

Plant Part Used

Leaves.

Herbal Remedy Use

The mucilage (a gummy substance secreted by some plants) properties of lungwort make it immensely helpful in treating chest problems, especially chronic bronchitis. In addition, lungwort may be blended with other herbs like coltsfoot for an effectual remedy for chronic coughs and also be administered for alleviating asthma. A combination of lungwort and coltsfoot is particularly effective in curing whooping cough. In addition, lungwort may also be used in curing ailments like a sore throat as well as jamming. Years ago, physicians applied lungwort for coughing up blood released owing to tubercular contagion. It may be mentioned here that leaves of lungwort plant are astringent (a substance that draws tissue together) in nature and are frequently used to impede bleeding.

The leaves, as well as the flowering shoots of lungwort, possess diuretic, astringent, demulcent (soothing), a little expectorant, emollient (relaxing) and resolvent (solvent) attributes. These parts of the herb are frequently employed for their curative impact when an individual is suffering from pulmonary ailments and their mucilaginous character makes these parts useful in the treatment of sore throats. The leaves as well as the flowering stems of lungwort are harvested during the spring and dried up for use when necessary afterward. Distilled water prepared from this herb is known to be effectual eyewash for healing tired eyes. In addition, a homeopathic remedy is also prepared using this herb. This homeopathic medication is employed to cure coughs, bronchitis as well as diarrhea.

Culinary 

The leaves of the herb lungwort also have culinary uses and they can be consumed either raw or after being cooked. The leaves may also be included in salads or employed in the form of a potherb. The leaves of lungwort have a rather insipid taste, but they have low fiber content and are favorable for being added into salads, despite their somewhat hairy and mucilaginous texture. However, the leaves of this herb are less acceptable for consumption on their own owing to these attributes. When cooked, the tender leaves of lungwort make a delicious vegetable. Nevertheless, the texture of the leaves has been found to be slightly oily. It may be noted that lungwort forms an element of the beverage known as Vermouth.

Habitat

Having its origin in Europe and the Caucasus, lungwort grows best in meadows at the foot of mountains and in humid locations. The leaves of lungwort are normally harvested in the latter part of spring.

The herb lungwort thrives well in any type of reasonably good soil, counting heavy clay soils. This herb has a preference for partial shade in a damp soil rich in humus content. Lungwort thrives well in shady places, especially beside tall buildings. The lungwort plants cultivated in shady locales are able to endure drought provided the soil has rich humus content. The leaves of this herb have a tendency to wither during hot weather in places where the herb is cultivated in full sunlight. The plants are resilient up to approximately 20ºC. Plants belonging to this genus are seldom if ever, bothered by rabbits and deer. Lungwort plants are a precious early on resource of nectar, especially for bees. This species has numerous named varieties, and are chosen for their decorative worth. Lungwort easily hybridizes with other plants belonging to the same genus.

Lungwort is generally propagated by its seeds, which are sown in a greenhouse during the spring. When the seedlings have grown adequately big to be handled, prick them out independently and plant them in separate containers. The young plants need to be grown in a greenhouse during the first year of their existence. The plants may be transplanted outdoors into the permanent locations during the later part of spring or early summer when the last anticipated frost has passed.

Alternately, lungwort may also be propagated by means of root division done either during the spring or in autumn. In case the soil is not very arid, the root division may also be undertaken during the early part of summer following the flowering season of the plants. Propagating lungwort through root division is extremely simple and you may directly plant the larger divisions outdoors into their permanent locations. It has, however, been found that it is better to grow the smaller divisions initially in pots in a cold frame in a slightly shady location. When these are properly established, they may be planted outdoors in their permanent positions during the later part of spring or in early summer.

Constituents

Chemical analysis of lungwort has shown that the herb encloses tannins, flavonoids, saponins, vitamin C. However, dissimilar to many other members of the borage family, lungwort does not comprise pyrrolizidine alkaloids.

Infusions and Tinctures

Lungwort can be ingested both as an infusion as well as a tincture. To prepare an infusion of the herb, add one to two teaspoons of dried up lungwort in a cup of boiling water and leave it to permeate for around 10 to 15 minutes. An individual should drink the infusion prepared from lungwort thrice daily. In the case of your favor lungwort tincture, ingest 1 ml to 4 ml of the herbal tincture daily.