April 2007 Ageless herbal newsletter
Botanical Name: Stellaria media
Chickweed is a very common plant, found in most gardens all over the world. As the name suggests, it is considered a weed. It is called “Chick” weed because birds, especially caged birds, love to eat it.
There are many different plants called chickweed, such as the mouse ear chickweeds, but the name chickweed applies mainly to the Stellaria media plant.
It is a spreading annual with a slender taproot with diffuse brittle branches and ovate leaves with small white star-shaped flowers.
An interesting fact about chickweed is that it goes into a state of “sleep” at night, where the upper surfaces of the leaves fold over the buds of the new shoots. The leaves on the ends of the branches of the plant close around the tip, protecting the tip of the shoot.
The young leaves can be boiled and are a very nourishing alternative to spinach and can be eaten raw in a salad.
Pigs, rabbits, cows, horses and birds enjoy eating chickweed, but goats refuse to touch it.
The whole herb, excluding the roots, is used medicinally.
Chickweed is used for rheumatism as well as chest infections. In homeopathy, it is used against joint inflammation as well as rheumatism. When liquidized, it is included with other herbs and vegetables as a tonic juice. Chickweed is also boiled in water as a tea and used as a cure for obesity, but this remedy is considered to be an old wives tale.
It is a superb herb to use for pruritus and itchy skin, as well as eczema, acne, hemorrhoids, varicose veins, psoriasis, inflammation, ulcers, vaginitis, urticaria, boils, abscesses, allergies and other skin problems. The vulnerary properties of the herb are also most useful in treating wounds. It also has cell-proliferating properties, useful in speeding-up the healing process. Although the anti-itching and healing effect of this herb are sometimes attributed to the saponins contained, the actual mechanism is unknown but can possibly be a corticomimetic activity. Although this herb is not often used, its excellent healing action makes it a must in any healing cream.
Safety precautions and warnings
Excess consumption of this herb can cause vomiting and diarrhea and the internal use of this herb is contraindicated during pregnancy.
The word “meditation” immediately makes one think of an ancient guru sitting cross-legged on the top of a mountain. One has to battle across various obstacles to reach him, and on reaching him, ask the question: “what is the meaning of life?” - to which he replies: “search for the answer inside yourself!” – this makes one wonder if the arduous journey to reach him was worth the while!
Meditation actually describes an attitude of inward reflection, or concentration on some thought or understanding, and has been a major component in most Eastern religions for thousands of years. Monks and nuns in the Catholic Church have also practice meditation or “contemplation” since the founding of the church. The practice has become more popular in Western culture since the 1960’s, when the hippy movement occurred, changing conventional thought on religious and social practices.
Meditation is employed to improve mental activity, personal development or to focus the mind on God or a higher consciousness (or an aspect thereof). Meditation is usually used as an aid to relaxation or to achieve a feeling of peace and balance. It is also used in conjunction with physical yoga to become healthier. Many psychologists believe that meditation can induce an altered state of consciousness, and the method they use during hypnotism relates very strongly to the exercises employed when meditating, although hypnotism is done under strictly controlled conditions.
The English word “meditation” comes from the Latin "meditatio", which referred to the practice of every type of physical or intellectual exercise. In its modern sense, meditation refers to a practice of reflection on an idea or subject, such as “meditation on the sufferings of Christ” or Descartes’ “meditation on the First Philosophy,” a set of six exercises to examine the nature of reality.
Nevertheless, meditation as a relaxing, invigorating, cleansing and positively creative exercise can be practiced by anyone, and is considered to be a great aid to the health and to calm and balance the mind.
We have included a simple meditation exercise below, if you wish to try it out:
Find a quiet place where you will not be interrupted. Lie flat on your back on the floor with your arms next to you and your legs uncrossed. Close your eyes and imagine that you are seeing your body.
Start relaxing your entire body from your feet upward - feel how the tension moves out of your toes, bridges of your feet, your calves, upper legs, buns, abdomen, chest, upper and lower arms, neck, face and scalp.
It might take some time to get your whole body relaxed, and some people fall into a very light sleep in the beginning. As you practice this more, you will be able to relax totally without falling asleep.
While doing the exercise ensure that you breathe deeply and evenly - fill your entire lungs - not just the top part of the lungs, as we are so inclined to sometimes do.
Next, see your entire body bathed in a bright white light, which is warming your body and calming it. Stay like this for a couple of minutes and enjoy the relaxed weightless feeling.
Now start to visualize your body the way in which you would like to see it - more erect, slimmer, healthier and more vibrant. Imagine every detail - from your well groomed fingers to your well kept hair and your vibrant energized body.
Then reflect on all the things that worry you, be that conflict at work or at home, financial troubles or health problems – if you wish to pray, this is also a very good time to do so.
Form or picture an image in which all these problems are resolved and enclose them in a bubble of bright light – send them out into the universe and release them to God or a higher consciousness with the belief that all your problems will be resolved as pictured.
The saying of "where the mind goes the body will follow" is very true, and this exercise will help you train your mind to visualize yourself, your relationships and your surroundings as perfect, which will positively influence your life.
While doing this exercise, do not feel a sense of urgency to achieve the desired result - your body and actions will follow your mind at the right time. Do however feel that you are in control of your surroundings and body.
After you have let the image fade from your mind, start consciously feeling your body as it is lying on the floor, and feel the energy washing over you from your feet to your scalp - in the same way that you did when you relaxed.
When your body feels totally energized, you can get up. Get up slowly and enjoy the relaxed way you are now feeling.
Many people have benefited from visualizing and concentration - give it a try and see what you can achieve. You should do these exercises at least once a day.
Frankincense essential oil – used in churches and since ancient times as an aid to relaxation and meditation and to achieve a higher state of consciousness.
Frankincense essential oil is extracted from resin from the Boswellia carteri tree, of the Burseraceae family and is also known as Olibanum and gum thus.
The tree is found in Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Oman, and is also known as Boswellia sacra, Boswellia serrata, and Boswellia thurifera. The reported therapeutic properties and aroma are much the same in these species, but the Boswellia carteri specie was reported to naturally occur in Somalia.
It is one of the firm favorites in aromatherapy. This essential oil has a wonderfully calming effect on the mind and helps to create inner peace, while helping to soothe the respiratory and urinary tract and relieve pain associated with rheumatism and muscular aches, while having a rejuvenating, balancing and healing action on the skin.
Frankincense oil has a woody, spicy, haunting smell, a little bit camphoric, but very pleasant. It is pale yellow-green in color.
It originates from the Middle East and Northern Africa, with abundant pinnacle leaves and has white or pale pink flowers. Deep incisions are made in the tree trunk and the bark peels off in narrow strips. Over weeks a milky juice exudes and hardens on contact with the air, resulting in an oleo gum resin, from which the oil is extracted by steam distillation.
The hardened resin can be burned, but for most modern purposes it is processed into oil. The resin can also be dissolved into high grade alcohol, which is highly prized for use in the perfume industry as a fixative and because it evaporates slowly.
The word is from the French word 'Franc' meaning 'luxuriant' or 'real incense' and together with Myrrh, it was the first gum to be used as incense.
Also known as Olibanum, frankincense was used by the ancient Egyptians as an offering to the gods and as part of a rejuvenating face mask. It was also used to fumigate the sick, in order to banish evil spirits. The Hebrews valued Frankincense highly, it was one of the gifts offered to the baby Jesus. It is a little known fact that the Frankincense and Myrrh presented to the baby was worth more per ounce than the Gold was!
Frankincense oil is non-toxic and non-irritant and can be used by most people.
Frankincense oil soothes and calms the mind, slowing down and deepening breathing and is excellent for use when meditating. It also helps to calm anxiety and obsessive states linked to the past.
On the respiratory tract, it clears the lungs and helps with shortness of breath, asthma, bronchitis, laryngitis, coughs and colds.
Frankincense is one of the oils that can really calm and soothe the whole body and mind. It helps ease all aches and pains, clearing the lungs and acting as a skin tonic.
Different Methods of Use
Burners and vaporizers
In vapor therapy, frankincense can be used for bronchitis, colds, coughs and voice loss, as well as to calm the mind, reduce anxiety and cultivating internal peace and placing past obsessive states into perspective – an excellent oil to use during meditation.
Blended massage oil or in the bath
It can be used in a blended massage oil or diluted in the bath for colds, coughs, bronchitis, rheumatism, chilliness, poor circulation, exhaustion, nightmares, heavy periods, respiratory problems and mucus congestion. It also has a good astringent effect on the skin and perks up older more mature skin and helps wounds, sores and ulcers heal properly.
Creams and lotions
Added to a base cream or lotion it will help with general skin tone and condition while reducing oily skin, rejuvenating more mature skin, while at the same time helping wounds, ulcers and sores heal better.
Wash or use as a compress
To promote healing and prevent ugly scarring on wounds, add a few drops to the water when washing the wound. For cracked skin and bed sores, apply gently (suitably diluted) directly on to affected areas or use as a compress.