Sunday, July 05, 2009

Happiness Herb (s)

This summer is filled with herbal experiments and adventures! I'm having a ball trying different things. I have never been one to follow the relatively new rules for making herbal preparations, but prefer to try things to see if they work. Of course there is an overview - how to make a salve, how to make a tea, how to make a tincture - but after that I think that our great-great-great-grandmothers could do it without anyone setting rules, and so can we. You can find our tinctures HERE.
Some of my experiments sitting on the counter currently are valerian flower tincture and sour cherry tincture. I've been wanting to try both, and we'll see what happens. As far as the sour cherries, well... if that one fails I am "stuck" with sour cherry vodka that can become a cordial. Oh well.

One that is NOT an experiment is the Mimosa (pictured below) also known as Albizzia. I started making this a few years ago after Betty from Green Spiral Herbs mentioned the interesting properties of "the happiness herb" on the Essential Herbal Magazine's discussion group. Traditionally the bark and flowers have been used. Michael Tierra writes, "Categorized in the Chinese Materia Medica as a calming spirit herb, the bark is thought to “anchor” the spirit, while the flowers lighten it. The flowers have also been used for the treatment of insomnia, amnesia, sore throat, and contusion in Oriental traditional medicine (Kang, et al) as well as depression, melancholy and anxiety". Another source said that was due to the fact that the flowers were more rare. I only use the flower, although the tree is short-lived and easily sprouts from seed - so there is bark available. Following my own personal doctrine of signatures, it seems like a no-brainer to look at these flowers and know where the happiness part of the plant is stored.

I usually use this along with holy basil, and there is some lovely milky oat seed tincture cooking away on the counter, too. The combination has been nothing short of miraculous in my experience. Some also call albizzia "herbal prozac" but I am not fond of giving herbs drug nicknames.

To make the tincture, we packed a jar with the flowers after snipping off the stem parts. The flower is made up of silky strands that remind me of cornsilk, although they are much finer. The flowers are then covered with vodka. After a few days, the pink color from the flowers is transferred into the liquid and the flowers are white and colorless. At that point, we strain out the liquid and start again with fresh flowers, reusing the original alcohol. We'll continue this way until the tree stops giving us flowers.

Between the still and the tincturing, it is a very productive summer so far. Along with that, we've been wildcrafting our usual haphazard blend for tea. Christie Sarles from Radical Weeds mentioned a really great children's book (out of print but available on Amazon) called Wildflower Tea a few weeks ago on the Yahoo! list. My sister ordered it and gave it to me as a gift. I loved reading it! There is an old man out there who is a mirror of me - lol.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Can you help her identify the green she is wondering about?


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