November 20, 2014

Myrrh: A Scent of the Season with many Benefits

Myrrh is an aromatic tree resin that includes several species of Commiphora. Myrrh trees are Native to Eastern Mediterranean regions and the Arabian Peninsula including the countries of Yemen, Somalia, Eritrea, and Eastern Ethiopia. Myrrh has a very long History dating back to ancient Egypt and the times of the bible.  Many people easily recognize myrrh as one of the gifts given the baby Jesus.  It was once equal in value to gold by weight.  It is still used in a wide range of religious rituals today.  

Myrrh has a spicy, bitter scent and it is very good to use during meditation.  It can purify the body and soul and bring clarity to the mind.  It is also very good for purifying objects and spaces.  Myrrh also strengthens the potency of other herbs it may be blended with.  

Myrrh is frequently used in Ayurveda medicine for its rejuvenating properties.  Myrrh has analgesic properties and can be used to treat headaches, stomach pain, and tooth aches. It is particularly useful in salves and ointments that can be applied to arthritic areas, bruises, aches, sprains, abrasions, and other minor skin ailments.  Myrrh has been shown to be beneficial in the treatment of nervous system and circulatory disorders. Myrrh is frequently used as an oral antiseptic in toothpastes, gargles, and mouth washes for the prevention and treatment of gum disease.  Myrrh has also been shown to decrease bad cholesterol and increase the good cholesterol.        

November 2, 2014

The benefits of black cohosh

Black Cohosh
For many years black cohosh has been used as a natural remedy to cure many ills. This herb is known for its emotional, physical and spiritual benefits and remains a popular herbal remedy, especially among women.

What is black cohosh?
Black cohosh grows in North America and Canada. It was traditionally used by the Native American’s as a herbal remedy and its use dates back to the 19th century. Black cohosh belongs to the buttercup family; it can be taken as a tea, in the form of capsules, or as a tincture.

Health benefits
The herb has often been used to treat joint problems such as arthritis and it can be taken as a remedy for other forms of joint pain as well. Black cohosh is also suggested for use as a nerve tonic and can be utilised in the treatment of pain for nerve conditions such as neuralgia.
Moreover, black cohosh is an effective remedy for colds, flu and sore throats, and for the treatment of skin rashes and sore or inflamed gums. However, its most common use is to help women suffering from problems associated with hormonal imbalance.
It is commonly recommended for women that suffer from PMS, menopausal symptoms such as night sweats and hot flushes, endometriosis, cramps and painful periods, and for women who suffer menstrual irregularities. In addition, black cohosh is sometimes taken by pregnant women to help induce labour. However, pregnant women should seek medical advice before supplementing with this herb.

Spiritual benefits
Black cohosh was once used as one of the main ingredients in witches spells. It was believed to have magical properties and would be utilised to create love spells; it is also believed to improve determination, faith and courage.
There was once a common belief that black cohosh could drive away negative energy in the presence of evil; it is also associated with male potency and it was thought that if black cohosh was used in the bath, it would act as a cure for impotency.

Emotional Benefits
Due to its balancing effects on the hormones, black cohosh can also be beneficial in balancing the emotions. It can help to regulate moods, ease irritability and there is some suggestion that it might be beneficial to patients with depression, however, anyone seeking to use black cohosh for that reason should speak to a doctor first, especially if they are on medication.

October 23, 2014

Wormwood Uses: The Many Benefits of a Traditional Herbal Remedy

Dried Wormwood
Dried Wormwood

Wormwood is a perennial herb sometimes called by its scientific name Artemisia absinthium. Many people have only heard of wormwood's use in the alcoholic spirit absinthe, which grew in popularity in Europe during the 19th century and is coming back into fashion today; however, wormwood has been used as a medicinal herb for centuries in parts of Northern Africa, Europe and Central Asia. Today, science has begun to verify many of the benefits of wormwood, causing it to become a more mainstream alternative medicine for a number of conditions.

An Inflammation Fighter

Wormwood extract contains azulene, an organic compound that contributes to the coloration of wormwood's flowers. Studies have found that azulene has an anti-inflammatory effect, meaning that it disrupts the immune system activities that lead to swelling and pain. The anti-inflammatory activities of wormwood have led to its use for addressing a number of conditions, including gout.

Promoting Digestive Health

In traditional medicine, wormwood was often recommended for individuals suffering from various gastrointestinal problems, as it was believed that the herb could assist with proper digestion. In the modern era, there has been some promising research concerning the use of wormwood for digestive concerns. One study found that people who suffered from Crohn's disease were able to discontinue the use of prescription medications for the condition without a return of symptoms when they took a wormwood supplement. Research has also indicated that wormwood could help to lessen the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, acid reflux and indigestion.

Antimicrobial Actions

Laboratory analyses has uncovered that wormwood has antibacterial and antifungal products, indicating that the herb could be used to fight various kinds of infections when applied topically or taken internally. Wormwood appears to have the ability to kill certain types of parasites, leading to its use as a natural remedy for certain stomach parasites. The herb is also frequently utilized as a natural alternative to synthetic insect repellants for keeping mosquitoes, ticks, fleas and other harmful pests away while enjoying the great outdoors.

Other Uses for Wormwood

Over the centuries, wormwood has been used as a folk remedy for a number of other conditions. There is some evidence that suggests that wormwood extract can help to protect the liver from damage and promote proper liver function. Some herbal practitioners use it to address jaundice, yellowing of the skin that occurs due to liver problems. The herb is also a traditional remedy for anemia, which is a type of iron deficiency that causes poor red blood cell production. As a beauty remedy, wormwood is sometimes applied to the skin to refine the pores and control oil production due to its astringent properties.

It's important to note that wormwood can be toxic if ingested in large quantities or if the wrong portions of the plant are consumed. As a result, wormwood should only be used by experienced herbologists or under their consultation.

October 12, 2014

Native American Day

October 13th is officially recognized as Native American Day in the state of South Dakota.  South Dakota is the only state in the nation that has officially done away with Columbus Day to more appropriately adopt Native American Day. I think it is time that the rest of the country got on board to give appropriate credit where it is due.

The truth is that Columbus did not discover America as the Native people were here long before his arrival.  Giving a national holiday to celebrate Columbus is offensive to the Native American people who truly were the first settlers of this great land.  It is time to recognize the truth and stop propagating the lies told to children in history class.

In South Dakota Native American Day is celebrated with the opportunity to attend many educational and cultural events that celebrate Native American heritage.  There are many beautiful pow-wows, hoop dances, museum exhibits, lectures and other events for all people - native and non-native to attend.  It is an opportunity for different cultures to unite so that many aspects of Native American culture can be shared.I am very proud to live in a state in which I have opportunities to learn about this beautiful culture.

I am also very proud to live in a state that has the integrity to stand up for the truth.  Native American Day was officially adopted in 1990, which was declared the "Year of Reconciliation" by the then serving governor George S. Mickelson.  This was not an easy thing to pass as there was still many prejudices and cases of discrimination through out the state.  This passed in South Dakota because we had a white man in power with the integrity to stand up for the truth and respect for all people.  Native people of other states would like to follow suit in the abolition of Columbus Day but what they are missing is a strong Governor who believes in truth and integrity to make it happen.  We are all one and people must unite for real change to take place.  If you believe it is time for the truth to be told please consider writing to your own governors for the adoption of Native American Day in your state.

I am also going to be having a Native American Day Sale on all the herbs and crystals in my store in protest to the big corporations like Walmart that come into our state and continue to promote their Columbus Day sales - we don't recognize Columbus Day!.  I also want people to have the opportunity to experience the wonderful bounty and healing energies that mother earth has provided for us - things that the Native Americans have known about and used for centuries.

Wishing you all a wonderful Native American Day!

October 5, 2014

Samhain: A Harvest Tradition

Samhain table - photo by  Denise Grustein
The Gaels, or Goidels are a branch of Celctic culture and language that established numerous traditions and practices that are still observed today by the Irish, Scottish, Manx, Wiccans, and Celtic Neopagans.  Among these religious holidays is Samhain, a seasonal festival marking the end of the harvest season and the beginning of the winter, or 'darker half' of the year.   Samhain comes from the Gaelic word 'samain' or summer and 'ruin,' the end.  This translates literally to Summer's End.  Early Celtic culottes believed the year was divided in half.  Thus, Samhain also marked the end of the light half, and the beginning of the dark half.
            At sunset on Samhain Eve, clans or local villages begin ceremonies by igniting a large bonfire.  Everyone would gather around the fire and present sacrifices to the Celtic Gods and Goddesses.  These sacrifices primarily consisted of animals and crops, in order to give back to the deities who made their success possible.   This fire also represented a rebirth, in which it is custom to clean out the old year and welcome in the new.  During this celebration, Celts wore beautiful costumes and danced to to stories that commemorate the cycles of life in death in their natural cycles.
            The costumes were constructed with three principles in mind.  The first was to honor those who have died and were allowed to rise.  They believed that each year on Samhain, souls were set free from the land of the dead.  Those who were punished, were released and sent to their new incarnations.  However, not all souls were respected and welcome.  Some spirits were feared, and people believed they would destroy cops and reek havoc on livestock.  Which leads to the second reason, which was to hide from this evil spirits and escape their harm.  Lastly,  it was to honor the Gods and Goddeses of the harvest, flocks, and fields. 
            This time was a spiritual high for followers, and opened the doors for many varieties of divination.  From fortune-telling to communications with the dead, Celts looked for direction and solice during the 'darker half' of the year.   By leaving food and beverage outside their doors, they appeased the roaming spirits that may harm the family.  Numerous other events have been said to occur, such as the reading of tea leaves and painting images on wood.  Many believe this to be the first precursor to Tarot Cards.
            At the end of the festival when the sun came to the horizon once more, Celts would each take a torch or ember from the bonfire when they returned home.  This flame, would become the beginning of a hearth that would burn for several months.  The fire was said to protect the family from tragedy and trouble and if the flame were to go out, the family would be plunged into darkness.   Along with Samhain, come three other celebrations that celebrate seasonal changes.  Imbolc, Beltane, and Lughnasadh are all seasonal festivals that serve much of the same purpose.  To give thanks and give back.