Herbs have always been a part of my life but until I began working for my mother and aunt I had never studied or had a particular fascination with herbs. For me herbs were always a constant in my life. Whenever I had a headache or was stressed over a class Mom always had the best herb to cure whatever ailment I had. I knew they worked, I knew we had them but I had never really focused on how or why.
So as I began studying herbs I was amazed by how virtually every plant has a purpose. As the plants and my knowledge grew I was thrilled to put what I had learned to work, which made me have an affinity toward certain plants.
I’ve always admired how full and vibrant Calendula flowers are but I had never used the plant for anything other the soap we make. Both my mother and aunt would rejoice whenever they had a great crop or were given Calendula by Marci Tsohonis but I could never figure out why. Was it the color it made in the soap? The smell? No, it couldn’t be the smell.
And then I tried my aunt’s Busy Day facial, which contains Calendula. Even though my day’s of acne are (well, almost) behind me I still enjoy using this mask because it does an amazing job of exfoliating my skin and keeping my face clear when breakouts occur.
As I’ve been taking Sue Hess’s homesteading class as well as working with Susanna Reppert-Brill at The Rosemary House I have also learned how useful the plant can be. Since it is anti-inflammatory and antiseptic, it is great to use as a salve for bumps and scraps as well as a lotion for skin problems. If used in a tincture or tea it can be ingested for digestion or menstrual issues.
For years I did not enjoy the scent of Lavender. Many use Lavender to wind down before bed or to use in scones, cookies, and other delicious recipes. For me it reminded me of the painful days where I forgot sunscreen at the beach or when I was a child and my mother was forced to give me a lavender bath so I would fall asleep after a nightmare.
You can imagine why it wasn’t my favorite.
That fortunately changed this summer while I was working on a Lavender wand at Sue Hess’s home. I was so amazed by how quickly the entire class took a more relaxed turn as we began to weave and the porch became filled with the scent of Lavender. Even now I keep a Lavender wand in my car to roll during traffic jams. It fills my car with the fragrance and I’m more at ease as traffic comes to a complete stop on I-83.
I first noticed this plant this summer on the highway and could not get over how it looks like an alien life form. Before I knew it, it had shot up everywhere and I could not help but look at its bright yellow stalks as I walked through hiking trails or into our woods.
Once I had learned the name of the plant I had asked Susanna Reppert-Brill about it and she was eager to tell me everything she knew. One use I learned from her was to use it as a preventative for fevers and earaches.
It is also used for breathing problems or sore throats and stomach issues. Often taken as a tincture or as oil drops in the ear for earaches and fever.
These are my most recent obsessions. As the seasons change I’m excited to learn more about harvesting, uses, and autumnal herbs as well. Even though I have known about herbs all of my life, it’s amazing to finally understand them.