I can hardly believe we’ve made it to June. (winter went on forever this year!) And really, what’s not to love about June? The weather is warmer and not yet really hot, at least in the Northwest, the garden is planted, mostly, the wildcrafting has begun and it’s time to start thinking about where I want to hike.
And, next week is the Summer Solstice. It’s the longest day of the year, my wedding anniversary, and the official start of summer.
Summer is all about lots of activities and outdoor projects. And, Summer seems short, so it all has to be packed into a small window of time.
We’ve already gotten a fence put up around the garden. No more snacks for hungry deer! The ground squirrels and birds are another story.
It was really physically demanding work. I thought we would never finish digging holes and tamping dirt. Geez, I don’t need a gym membership, just doing projects around the knoll is a workout. But, my body hurt.
Thankfully we’re blessed to have a pretty well-stocked herbal apothecary. And I made good use of it.
Muscle tightness, inflammation, and spinal misalignment are typical consequences of too much physical exertion.
So, what herbs do you turn to when you’re exhausted, inflamed, and in pain? It depends on what’s causing the discomfort and what you happen to have on hand. H
Here are a few herbs to help you recover.
St. John’s Wort Infused Oil can be used for muscle pain, nerve pain, muscle aches, muscle spasms, and strains.
The thing that makes St. John’s Wort oil different from other herbs for aches and pains is that it has an affinity for the nerves. It helps with nerve pain, sharp shooting pain, numbness, and tingling. Like sciatic pain, neuropathy, and pinched nerves.
Part of what makes St. John’s Wort an effective pain reliever are two of its constituents, hyperforin, and hypericin. They are also responsible for helping to improve blood flow and reducing inflammation.
So, rub on some St. John’s Wort oil for muscle pain. Rub it on your aching hands, your back, your shoulders, and your feet.
Wait, what? Why rub the feet if by neck or back hurt?
Well, in reflexology the feet are associated with the entire body. By rubbing the feet you can relieve tension and pain in other parts of the body. And. it relaxes the entire body.
Of course, you can also take a tincture of St. John’s Wort instead of or in addition to using the oil.
Meadowsweet is in the Rose family and is anti-inflammatory.
The most notable chemical constituent found in meadowsweet is salicylic acid, which is known to decrease pain.
A little side story.
In 1897, a guy by the name of Felix Hoffman figured out how to chemically alter salicin taken from the meadowsweet plant to make it less irritating to the stomach. Hoffman’s new chemical, named acetylsalicylic acid, was renamed aspirin and was officially patented and sold by Bayer in 1900.
Aspirin is still one of the most widely used drugs on the market. Most people tend to think of over-the-counter medicines as being safe but each year the side effects of NSAIDs kill 16,500 people in the U.S. alone. The most common side effects of aspirin include bleeding ulcers and tinnitus. Not good.
It’s funny or rather ironic that Meadowsweet helps heal the problems that aspirin creates.
The plant is a mild to moderate pain reliever and is especially helpful for stagnant pain, the kind that gets stuck in one spot.
It’s also good for people with symptoms of heat because it’s cooling so it’s great for all your summer activities. Try it instead of ibuprofen or aspirin.
And you can try taking it daily as a tea or tincture to help relieve chronic arthritic pain and inflammation.
When I take people on herb walks and show them Wild Lettuce there is usually a gasp of astonishment followed by ‘That grows in my yard and I pull it out’. Yep, it’s another one of those useful ‘weeds’.
Wild Lettuce is a great remedy when there is stiffness and coldness in the muscles, you have deep achy pain or you need to limber up before you can function very well.
It helps to sedate the nervous system so you relax in a really deep way which helps your muscles to relax.
It is an antispasmodic and pain reliever specifically for musculoskeletal pain like tension, constriction, spasm, and tightness in the lower back and extremities. It can even be used in cases of severe injury to dull the pain a little.
Herbalist Matthew Wood says Wild Lettuce “looks like a street person” meaning the person who might need it has been through lots of adversity and hardness.
And, it is helpful if you tend to be a negative thinker along the lines of “Oh, that would never work.”
Wild Lettuce is best tinctured fresh and definitely needs to be taken in enough quantity for it to be effective.