The Herbalist - - Dipaunka Macrides

Immune System

It is now autumn but by the time you read this it will be winter . Now is the time to stock up on all the immune boosting and respiratory herbs in preparation . Have lots of garlic, lemons, chilli , and honey on hand to have in your food or even as teas

Diet comes into play here so cut down on the dairy products and Carbohydrates which are mucus forming . Another thing that boosts your resistance to colds and flu’s is having cold showers after your hot or warm shower . Also to improve your circulation and help your body eliminate try dry skin brushing before you shower or bathe . Sun baths are also good to increase your vitamin D to help prevent you feeling down .

I thought we could look at some of the herbs in an old recipe for colds and flu’s . This consisted of Elder flowers { I would also include the berries which are rich in Vit C } Peppermint and Yarrow . There are a number of other useful herbs , some of which we shall look at in other issues . These are Boneset, Lemon , Angelica root, Hyssop, Mullein , Wild cherry bark, Echinacea , Baical Skullcap , Codonopsis . I also have a tried and tested Cough, cold and flu syrup which I make up and sell in my clinic .

Astragalus –Astragalus membranaceus
The Chinese name for this herb is Huang qi , the common name is Milk Vetch . The part that is used is the root which has a sweet , warm taste to it .The organs that it has affinity with are the Spleen and Lungs . As you may know the Spleen is part of the Immune system and this herb stimulates and supports the Immune system and helps to warm the lungs if there is any (what is known in TCM as ) “cold damp “. In my clinic I use a lot of this herb as it has a wide range of uses .
Parts Used : The Dried root
Properties . It is an Adoptogenic, Immune stimulant , tonifies Chi , is diuretic , Antiviral , lowers blood pressure ,lowers blood sugar , is anhydrotic (stops sweating ), vasodilator, cardiotonic.
Uses : Astragalus is a primary herb in TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine ) . Its Nature is sweet and warm and is used in tonic wines and also in soups . It increases stamina and endurance , improves resistance to cold and strengthens internal organs . In this instance it is used for prolapsis in the uterus , rectum, or other organs It also helps with nephritis and is useful when combine with Codonopsis , Borage (though this is restricted for internal use in Australia ),Withania , Siberian Ginseng , Chen Pi and Liquorice , for adrenal burn out .
It raises metabolism , promotes the healing of wounds and strengthens collapsed energy .It belongs to the Leguminosa family of which Liqorice , Alfalfa, Fenugreek , Goats Rue and many other herbs belong .
I highly recommend having this herb in your herbal cupboard and would advise taking it on a regular basis during winter . It is much sweeter and easier to ingest than Echinacea and so compliance with children will be optimum .
I am unaware of any Majikal uses prescribed to Astragalus but I would suggest it would be used for protection and warding off negative energy .

Elder - Sambucus nigra
I have an amazing Elder tree in my back yard which I planted 4 years ago . It gets covered with flowers but what is so wonderful is that it produces berries in abundance which is quite uncommon in this climate. I have had enough berries in past years to make 6 litres of tincture and 8 jars of elder berry jam (which was absolutely delicious). Part of the folklore of the Elder is that it is inhabited by a spirit or witch so if you want to cut it or take any branches you have to first ask permission from the spirit. Elder berries are used to make wine and spirits while the flowers used to make a refreshing sparkling drink.
Parts used : All parts : bark , leaves , flowers , berries .
Properties : Flowers : Diaphoretic, anti-catarrhal , anti- inflammatory ,.
Berries : Diaphoretic, diuretic , laxative .
Uses : The leaves can be blended to make a good bug spray as well as being used to heal wounds, cuts and bruises . The flowers can be used for sinusitis, hayfever , colds and flu’s . They can also be infused to make an eyewash or used in eye cremes along with Eyebright. If you have freckles and wish to lighten them a lotion made with elder flowers will do this. The diaphoretic qualities make it useful for sweating out colds and flu’s.
The Berries are great as a food , my son Bodhi eats them by the bunch from the tree . They are good for rheumatism and can be used like the flowers in most applications . I use the tincture in Asthma mixes for kids to add a bit more flavour . If you like making your own dyes then try Elder berries for a nice rich red dye .
Majik and folklore Folk names used are - Ahuren , battree,bouse tree, bour tree, eldrum, elhorn , hylder, lady elhorn , old gal , old lady , pipe tree , rob elder, sweet elder, tree of doom .
It’s gender is Feminine { obviously) , ruled by Venus , element is water and deities are Holda & Venus . It’s powers are for Healing , exorcism, protection , prosperity, sleep .
Majikal Uses : {there are many }
Wear elder to ward off attacks of any kind , or carry it to stop the temptation of adultery . Elder grown around the home brings prosperity and protects against sorcery. The wood has been used by Mages to make majik wands . If you hang elder over your doorway it keeps negativity out of your home . The berries if carried protect against negativity. I use the flowers in the ritual cup that is part of handfasting ceremonies I do . They are for blessings and luck .

Yarrow - Achillea millefolium. From the latin name we get the association with the greek Hero Achilles . The rest of it’s Latin name describes the plant very well - 1000 leaf . It has been used since ancient times as a wound healer . I have 2 varieties growing in my garden and they are very hardy and prolific. As stated at the start of this article use it in combination with the other 2 herbs for Colds and Flu’s . Yarrow sticks were used as I Ching sticks .
Parts Used : The aerial parts and the Essential oil .
Properties : Antiseptic, astringent, anti-inflammatory, antipyretic, diaphoretic, diuretic, haemostatic, hypotensive, spasmolytic, urinary antiseptic.
Uses : For anyone who is giving up smoking you can use Yarrow as a tobacco substitute . It is very good for lowering blood pressure and for toning varicose veins . If you have a urinary tract infection or cystitis , using yarrow with Buchu and Uva ursi will be of great benefit .It’s antipyretic properties are what help reduce fevers . For those of you who like making your own skin care , yarrow is good for cleansing greasy skins . Even though it is not specifically an emmenagogue , yarrow promotes menstruation so don’t use it if you are pregnant .
Contra’ s : Large doses can cause headaches and vertigo .
Majik and folklore : There are a lot of folk names so I will only give a selection. : Arrowroot , devils nettle , field hops , military herb, seven years love, snakes grass, wound wort, Yerw .
It’s gender is Feminine , ruled by Venus , element is Water . It’s powers are for Courage , exorcism , love , psychic powers .
Majikal Uses : It is used in love spells and carried at a wedding or hung over the marital bed to ensure love will last at least 7 years . To prevent baldness wash your hair with Yarrow . It brings courage and protection if you wear it . It is used in incense to clear houses and objects of negativity.

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