Tag Archives: Herbs

witch’s stitches

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Goldenseal has been used to treat digestive problems as well as the common cold and respiratory tract infections, and many other ailments. The chemical berberine found in goldenseal may be responsible for it’s effects against bacteria.

The bulk of my experience with goldenseal is it’s use topically for skin conditions and wounds. Goldenseal can be used on the skin to treat ulcers, infections, cold sores, eczema, acne, and itching.  It makes a good antiseptic skin cleanser.

Combine goldenseal root powder with a pinch of cayenne pepper to make an excellent first aid for wounds called “witch’s stitches”. What cayenne adds to the equasion is a fair bit of pain relief and it helps stop bleeding.

I keep witch’s stitches in a bottle close to my first aid supplies. A small sprinkle on a cut before adding a bandaid can prevent an infection. Once I used it to treat a wound that may have otherwise needed a couple of stiches… my daughter had been jumping on the bed and fell and busted open a little gash on her chin. A sprinkle of witch’s stitches and a butterfly closure bandage, and she was good as new. Her older sister had gotten a gash in the exact same spot a few years earlier while running in the halls at school and was sent to the hospital for stitches. Her gash may have been a little wider, so actual stitches may have been warented, but I feel good knowing I could possibly have treated it myself if we had been in a zombie apocolypse situation and hospitals were not available.

As always, do not take this as medical advice. Check with your health care practitioner for answers to questions about your health and the use of herbs. Seek emergency medical help for serious injuries.

witch's stiches

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ginger tincture

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Ginger is one of those herbs that are so useful and versatile. When my daughters were young, I gave them candied ginger to head off car sickness on long trips. Not only is ginger an excellent remedy for nausea, but it is also good to take for better digestion, relieves gas and bloating, helps your body absorb nutrients and deter intestinal parasites.

Aside from taking in candied form, in a tea, or in food, ginger can also be preserved as a tincture. A tincture is simply a liquid extract. They are usually made with a strong odorless 80 proof alcohol like vodka or Everclear. Tinctures can also be made with vinegar, which are usually just referred to as herbal vinegars. Vegetable glycerin can also be used to make a tincture, and the resulting extract is called a glycerite. Glycerites are especially suitable for children, as they are sweet and alcohol-free.

I made the ginger tincture you see here with vodka. The same method can be used with apple cider vinegar. If making a glycerite, use a mixture of half vegetable glycerin and half distilled water. Sterilize all your equipment in boiling water. Peel and wash your ginger root, and slice thin. Fill a canning jar with the ginger. Pour alcohol (or your other choice of liquid) to fill the jar. Lid tightly and keep in a cool dark place. Take out and shake every once in a while. Let steep for several weeks to a month. Strain out into a bottle and keep out of direct sunlight.

preparing ginger tincture

In general, 30 drops is the usual adult dosage recommendation for alcohol tinctures. I think that’s about half a teaspoon.
For glycerites, it’s about 10 drops for up to 24 pounds of body weight, 20 drops for 24 to 48 pounds, 30 drops for 48 to 95 pounds, and 40 drops for 95 pounds and up. Consult your medical professional before taking any herbal remedies.

Another use of ginger tincture I’d like to mention is it’s use in magic. In sympathetic magic, like attracts like. Ginger is a spicy tasting root with a wonderful spicy-sweet smell. These qualities lend to it’s use in a variety of ways. It lends passion, fire, and verve to magical workings, including that of a romantic nature. Ginger in the liquid form of a tincture is especially useful as it can be used to dress magical objects such as charms, talismans, tools, and sachets (mojo bags), and even be used as a room spray.

Healing Herbs

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When I first decided that I was going to take a natural approach to medicine, I was a little bit overwhelmed- there are what seems like an infinite number of herbs!  It was such a daunting task to decide where to start.  I don’t remember my family using herbal remedies when I was growing up, but then again, I was rarely sick.  When my oldest child was a baby, my dad grew catnip to give her for colic.  If he knew more herbal remedies than this, he never mentioned it.
So I got a few books, attended a class or two, still the amount of information was overwhelming.  I wanted to get to the point where I had a basic knowledge to draw from so that I wouldn’t have to page through books for the simplest of remedies.  Then I got a book from the library called 10 Essential Herbs: Everybody’s Handbook to Health by Lalitha Thomas.  This was the key- narrowing it down to a manageable number of herbs.  Most of the herbs on the list are pretty common, and very versatile.  She even has little rhymes for each herb to help one learn the uses of the herbs.  Here is, according to Lalitha, the 10 essential herbs: cayenne, chaparral, cloves, comfrey, garlic, ginger, onion, peppermint (my favorite!), slippery elm, and yarrow.  There is one from her list that I do not think should be there though, and that’s chaparral.  I have heard that it has been known to cause kidney and lymph lesions and liver failure if taken internally, but may be safe if used externally.  Chaparral isn’t something that grows locally in my area of the country anyway.  Also, I would have put echinacea on the list of top 10 most useful herbs.  So despite the fact that I don’t agree with all her choices for the list, I think the whole concept of it is so useful- get to know just a handful of common (very versatile) herbs, and have some around in case you need them… genius!

*Disclaimer- this is my simple approach to home herbalism- I am not an herbalist nor a doctor.  Check with your doctor or herbalist before taking any herb.