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Top 3 Healing Flowers
Top 3 Healing Flowers
“Flowers seem intended for the solace of ordinary humanity,” wrote Victorian author, artist and conservationist John Ruskin. Indeed, research has proven that multitudes of different flower species possess natural compounds essential to healing.
Certified medical herbalist Sara Stewart Martinelli, owner of Three Leaf Concepts—the parent company of Boulder Tea Company, Three Leaf Farm and a number of restaurants and teahouses—individually blends many of the teas served in her establishments. Here are three of her personal favorites.
Sweet violet (Viola odorada)
“Little sweet violets are the perfect harbingers of spring, with their quiet, humble purple faces cheerfully appearing amidst their heart-shaped leaves,” Martinelli says. Known as sweet violets, English violets, wood violets or common violets, these European natives are now found growing throughout the world. Violets are thought to “gladden the heart,” says Martinelli, and their sweet aroma and flavor make them popular in cosmetics, perfume and even food—candied violets are used in gourmet pastries, and fresh leaves and flowers can be added to salads.
Medicinally, violets have been used traditionally to promote sleep, mental balance and improved mood. They’re also used to make cough syrup, especially for bronchitis. Martinelli shares this recipe: Add 2½ pints of boiling water to one pound of fresh violet flowers. Let steep for 24 hours in a glass container, then strain the liquid. Add double the liquid weight in fine sugar, and heat until the mixture becomes syrupy, being careful not to let it boil. Use the syrup for as medicine or in food.
California poppy (Eschscholzia California)
The official state flower of California, the California poppy has blue leaves, and its flowers range from vibrant orange to pale yellow. Unlike the poppy from which opium is made, the California poppy is safe and non-addictive, while still possessing some of the sedative properties of its more powerful cousin, Martinelli says.
“California poppy has been used widely and safely with children of all ages to help combat overexcitability and to promote healthy sleep patterns. It’s also an antispasmodic herb and can be used effectively to treat stomach or bowel upset or cramping,” she notes. To use them, dry the stems, leaves and flowers, and make a tea by pouring a cup of boiling water over one teaspoon of the dried herb; steep for 10 minutes, add honey and drink at bedtime. Don’t drink more than one or two cups, or you might feel lethargic the next day.
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
Found both in the wild and in the garden, yarrow has feathery leaves and tiny bunches of flowers that come in a variety of colors, including yellow, pink and red. For medicinal purposes, it’s the wild white yarrow that is most revered. “Yarrow has been known for centuries as a plant that assists in the healing of wounds and was considered ‘the soldiers’ woundwort’ for its ability to stanch the bleeding of wounds of battle,” Martinelli explains. “This ability led to its being named after the legendary warrior, Achilles.” Yarrow leaves can be used as a natural bandage, placed directly on a superficial cut or scrape. The leaves also are reputed to stop nosebleeds—just roll them and place them in the nose.
Used internally (as a tea), yarrow may help treat fevers by creating perspiration. “A famous old recipe calls for equal parts yarrow, boneset, peppermint and elderflower as the most effective antifever tea,” Martinelli says. To use the plant, harvest the above-ground parts when the flowers are at their peak. Dry the flowers and steep in hot water to make tea.
“Along with its many medicinal uses, yarrow has been used in many cultures as a tool of divination,” Martinelli says. She explains that its long stalks are dried and used during readings of the I Ching, a book of Chinese prophecy; and when its leaves are placed under a pillow, it is said to bring visions of one’s future spouse.
By: Debra Bokur
Debra, a former Contributing Editor at Fit Yoga Magazine, Travel & Wellness Editor at Healing Lifestyles & Spas, and Managing Editor at Delicious Living Magazine, has been covering health, travel and wellness for over 25 years. She currently writes for Global Traveler Magazine and serves as the poetry editor at the national literary journal Many Mountains Moving. Previously, she trained horses for the sports of dressage and combined training, and worked for a variety of equestrian magazines including Spur, Horse & Rider, HorsePlay, and Discover Horses.
June 21st, 2012