Entries organized under Herbs

Our Recent Cardiac Escapade

August 1, 2019

Greetings, Friends ~

Here is the promised update on our cardiac medical adventure.  We hope you find this informative, helpful and hopeful.

Harry had his surgery on Wednesday 12 June 2019 and was home the following Sunday afternoon!  We went back three weeks later for the surgical follow-up and to get his staples out.  He was doing so well that they dismissed him with no need for further care nor need for the usual several month ‘cardiac rehab’… just the usual temporary restrictions on lifting, driving, etc.  (Which, of course, are driving him mad.)

He is recovering amazingly!  His excellent progress owes much to his general good pre-surgery health (aside from the defective aortic heart valve, of course); Deb’s pre-surgery preparations feeding him well and filling him full of appropriate herbs and supplements; those herbs and supplements she gave him before and after surgery; and, of course, the skilled medical staff and the loving care during and after his hospital stay.

In the hospital – especially during the time in post-operative intensive care – the doctors and nurses were surprisingly accepting of our herbal administrations.

Following surgery, it is customary – actually necessary – to restrain patients in ICU so they do not remove or dislodge the many tubes, probes, ports and monitors or inflict damage in their delirium and confusion as they emerge from anesthesia.  Harry indeed experienced this agitation and struggled against his bonds.  

He also suffered from extreme nausea as he came out of anesthesia.  Deb offered to the ICU nurse a spray of our Red Clover flower essence we had prepared to act as a calming agent due to the shock of the surgery.  Deb applied the spray to acupressure points on Harry’s wrists and ankles with almost immediate reduction of his agitation and struggles and his systolic blood pressure dropped by nearly 20 points.  She also massaged the spray into Harry’s feet – and the nurse continued to do this throughout the night.  When Harry could start drinking after the tubes were out of his throat, he drank coconut water and natural electrolyte drinks we brought from home ~ we turned down offers of soda pop.  Also, he sucked on Slippery Elm lozenges to soothe his throat irritated by the tubes once they were removed.  Most importantly, we had made a flower essence mix spray of Wood Betony (to ‘ground’ his body after anesthesia), Yarrow (for continued general protection), Comfrey (for overall healing) and Red Clover (for shock) which we used during Harry’s whole hospital stay. 

After Harry was transferred from the ICU to the cardiac recovery unit, vampires visited him four times a day (at least) to draw blood for various monitoring testing.  Eventually, there were little dark bruises on every one of his fingers.  (Mercifully his thumbs were spared!)  A couple of applications of Yarrow (in this case, a mix of the flower essence and tincture) cleared the bruises in short order!

Deb continued to give him coconut water as well as miso soup, nettle tea and ginger tea.  We also began using homeopathic remedies  – Staphysagria for relief after surgery in addition to Comfrey, Calcarea Carbonica, Calcarea Phosphorica and Boneset to aid the healing of his sternum. 

Thankfully, our surgeon’s nurse practitioner patiently went through the list of over 35 herbs we said we may use to aide Harry’s recovery.  Of that list, there were only two herbs they wanted us to stop prior to surgery and to avoid for a while after returning home – both were cardio-active herbs which, as best we could determine would either counter or duplicate the effects of some of the pharmaceutical compounds on which they rely following heart surgery.

Since we have been home, we have done much of what we did for Harry’s broken back ~ except now using tinctures.  Boneset for bone healing, Comfrey for bone and soft-tissue healing, Solomon’s Seal to help heal and keep intercostal ligaments supple.

The only other difference from treating his back is we used a ‘dry poultice’ on his incision since instructions were for no wetness until the staples came out.  So instead of the usual wet herb poultice, Deb put dried Comfrey, Boneset and Yarrow leaves in an old pillowcase and Harry would keep that on for several hours a day.  We also have made daily infusions of Nettles, Linden, Oat Straw, Comfrey or Red Clover to accelerate his healing along with many additional supplements such as Vitamin E, Vitamin A, Selenium and others.  We employed the use of Modified Citrus Pectin to bind and remove the toxins left in his body from the anesthesia and other pharmaceuticals given in the hospital.

At this time, Harry is off ALL cardiac pharmaceutical medications!  Hurray!  We are so very happy with his progress!

As restrictions are lifted, we are happy to report Harry is doing light chores in our garden, cooking some (Yahoo!, his guacamole is back on the menu!), doing some herb harvesting and preparation, has walked as much as 1½ miles and is anxious to get back into the woodshop.  All in all, incredibly, this journey has been 10 times… no probably 100 times – easier than his recovery from his broken back last year.

Frustratingly, as is sometimes the case after a ‘trauma’ like surgery, Harry has developed a case of shingles.  Luckily, thanks to his phenomenal immune system and our quick use of Calendula oil and Lemon Balm infusions (even though we did not exactly know what he had), his rash was not nearly as painful as a typical case of shingles can be.  Nor did his rash ever advance to the point of blisters before he began a course of a pharmaceutical antiviral which has knocked it out.

We sincerely, deeply, devoutly pray this is the last of our need for intensive medical care for a very long time!  Thank you again for your support and prayers.

And YES, we are both already happily back in business!  Please do not hesitate to contact Deb if you’d like to know details Harry’s care during this adventure or if you need other support in your life.  Deb’s assistance is not limited to herbs ~ she happily shares her empathy, compassion and care with friends, family and clients at Sacred Living as well as here on Grandparents of the Forest

As you may notice in the first photo above, Harry had to shave his wonderful beard for the surgery.  It is slowly coming back in, but sadly, we have no remedy for quickly re-growing it.  If you have suggestions, do tell! 

Oh, Them Broken Bones

February 20, 2019

Deb broke her calcaneus (heel bone) in early May 2017 while caring for her Mom; and Harry crushed his L1 vertebra when he fell 10 feet off our porch roof this past September.

Accidents happen.  While we can do everything possible to prevent them, sometimes we trip, fall or get injured no matter how careful we are.  Because your children may be at risk of injury on the playground, playing sports or any of dozens of ordinary daily activities, we thought it might be good to share what we know about tending broken bones so that if you are ever faced with having a broken a bone or tending someone who does, you have a resource of healing information.

So, back to our accidents ~

After we sought immediate appropriate professional medical care (by getting Deb to the urgent care center and calling an ambulance [911] for Harry) , we began to apply the things we knew to aid and hopefully accelerate healing of broken bones.

The very first thing that we did when we had our accidents was to use a flower essence specifically for aid during traumatic events:  Bach Flower Essence Rescue Remedy®.  We were very happily surprised that the ER nurses encouraged the use of this remedy, which we carry with us at all times.  When we returned home, we used our own Red Clover flower essence, which provides a very similar support for trauma and shock.

Let’s not build unrealistic expectations:  different types of fractures and different bones take more or less time to heal.  Some bone breaks might take only 4 weeks to heal while other fractures might take 24 weeks or more. And there are factors such as general health, age and other conditions like osteoporosis that affect healing.  So, it is hard to say what ‘normal’ is for any particular person or break.

Having said all the above, our research and herbal training on broken bones revealed in general it is advised to:
~  Avoid inflammation-causing foods like sugars (including high-fructose corn syrup), artificial trans-fats, excessive alcohol and processed meats.  Instead, eat inflammation reducing foods: ‘good’ cooking oils (like olive oil rather than ‘vegetable oil’), tree nuts, fruit, garlic, aromatic culinary herbs, turmeric, chocolate (YA-HOO!!), green tea, beans, onions and avocados.
~  Move as much as is comfortable when you are able without aggravating the break.  (You definitely could have made a lot of money betting on turtles against Harry right after his failed attempt at flight!)  You need to keep your muscles in tone and prevent atrophy. 
~  Get good nights sleep; a lot of repair and healing occurs while you sleep.
~  Also, there is debate about the application of heat and/or cold to an injury like this.  We chose to alternate between the two.  You may decide to take a different course concerning temperature.  Check with your physician.

And, of course, there are several herbs that should assist a body in healing broken bones:

[If you have any kind of negative reaction to any remedy, stop it immediately.]
* Arnica (Arnica montana) taken as a homeopathic remedy orally and/or applied topically as a cream, gel or ointment as soon after the injury as practical should help reduce swelling, bruising and pain.

* A plant called, appropriately, Boneset (yes, it’s pronounced “bone set”) (Eupatorium perfoliatum) assists bones knitting back together.  This three to four foot tall plant with an open head of small white flowers has the interesting ‘signature’ of having its opposite leaves fused together at their base… a strong indicator of its use.  Actually, Boneset is particularly indicated and useful in spinal compression fractures, as it is believed Boneset will open up the crushed bone to allow new bone to be built as it restores the nearly original shape. We believe we observed this in the progressive X-rays of Harry’s spine.

* Comfrey (Symphytum officinale) is a powerful aid to healing, but it should be used with a little caution.  Comfrey is a fuzzy perennial plant related to borage with bell-shaped, lavender-colored flowers.  We have a lot (and increasing!) around our home to a point that it might be considered invasive.   It accelerates healing so much that it will cause wounds to close around debris, so make sure wounds are well cleaned and make sure broken bones are properly aligned and set before beginning Comfrey. [Take note:  there is some concern over toxicity of Comfrey root, so only Comfrey leaves should be taken internally as a tincture or water extract.  Also, Comfrey should be avoided during pregnancy.]
* Horsetail rush (Equisetum arvense) is an interesting ‘primitive’ plant (100 million year-old fossils have been found!) that has no true leaves.  It is very high in silica content and acts in aiding strong bone construction.

So, what we did, after the doctors told us the bones were in their proper position to heal and properly immobilized, was to immediately begin our regimen of herbs.  For each of our respective fractures, we took homeopathic Arnica 30c internally once an hour and applied an Arnica gel over the injury three times daily for the first few days.  We also continued to take Red Clover flower essence.  During Harry’s fall, Deb, not surprisingly,  was traumatized as well so she also took Red Clover.

The other above herbs, except Elder, were all taken internally as a tincture (ethyl alcohol extract) thrice daily (except Comfrey, we had overlooked making this tincture [which is most definitely now on our ‘to do’ list for this summer], so we purchased and used homeopathic Symphytum officinale 30c).

We also made infusions (water extracts) of fresh Boneset, Elderberry and Comfrey alternately and drank a quart during the day for several weeks after the accident.  The difference between a tea and infusion is a tea is steeped for 5 to 20 minutes while an infusion is steeped for 4 to 12 hours.  Boneset can be a bit unpleasant so adding a little honey may help render it a little more palatable.  Interestingly, it seems that when Boneset becomes completely unpalatable your body no longer needs it in this form.

And we would take the plant material from the infusions (and Yarrow) and apply a poultice to the skin over the break. (Luckily neither fracture required a solid cast; instead having a brace that was easy to carefully remove to expose the area for treatment then refasten.)

Another tool we employed was homeopathic remedies.
* As mentioned, we used homeopathic Comfrey (Symphytum officinale) 30c.  We also took Silicea 30c (acts similarly to the Equisetum mentioned above), Calcarea carbonica 30c and Calcarea phosphorica 30c all to aid healing and strengthen the new bone being built.  (As mentioned above, we also took Arnica every hour for the first 3 days.)

* Solomon’s Seal (Polygonatum spp), which we will discuss in much more detail in a future letter, helps ligaments and tendons heal while helping bone breaks draw together for proper healing.  And beyond helping with fracture healing, Solomon’s Seal helps keep bone joints healthy by helping the body regulate synovial fluids.
* Yarrow (Achillea millifolium) is a wonderful ‘intelligent’ blood herb.  It stops bleeding from an open wound, yet helps blood flow better to where it is needed thus getting nutrients to the healing bone.  It also helps bruises heal quickly.  This herb was especially helpful for Deb’s broken foot, since she had a badly bruised sprain on top of the fracture. [Take note:   Yarrow should be avoided during pregnancy.]
* In addition to the berries being antiviral, especially against influenza, Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis) leaves and stems are also a known treatment for broken bones.  Only very dry or very fresh Elderberry material should be used for medicinal purposes since toxins may develop then dissipate as it dries.

* Once the doctors were satisfied the bone(s) had healed sufficiently to abandon the braces so we could begin physical therapy and approach normal activity, we added Teasel (Dipsacus fullonum) root tincture and Mullein (Verbascum thapsus) leaf tincture.  Jim McDonald writes: “Teasel root has been used to treat torn connective tissues, and may be among the best remedies for torn muscles.”  Matthew Wood believes Mullein “has a moistening, lubricating effect on the synovial membranes… so that it is hydrating to the spine and joints. It is often indicated in back injuries.  People think they are untreatable and incurable, but an increase [of] the synovial fluids will make the spine more pliable and comfortable. The vertebra will slip back into place more readily, pain and inflammation will decrease and the condition will get better.” Jim McDonald agrees that Mullein is valuable in straightening and realigning the spine, though he suspects a different specific action.  We probably should have added these two herbs sooner, especially for Harry.

The last two things we did were to employ Reiki (pronounced “RAY-key”) and Qi (pronounced “chi”) healing energies (which we and a friend are all able to do) to aid healing during incapacitation.  (Probably not as much as we could/should have since we were more focused on care and comfort of the patient and herbs – and, honestly, initially forgot [Doh!] we had this tool in our repertoire.)  And, finally, when mobility had returned enough to allow, Qi Gong exercises helped immensely to finish the healing processes.

We estimate we increased our bone and other tissue healing rates by mmm… maybe 10 to 20%?  That may not seem significant, but every day quicker returning to ‘normal’ is valuable. (Maybe more,  since Harry was out uprooting wild invasive rose bushes – 15 minutes at a time – 4 months after his fall!)  And less pain is always a good thing too!  Don’t you agree?

While it is not likely you will often (if ever) need a full set of bone building remedies, it might be a good idea to have a few herbs in your home first aid kit.
* Arnica gel or cream, which you can get at most drugstores, is handy for bruises and overworked muscles.  Homeopathic Arnica would be good for the same reasons and may be easier to use if applying topical Arnica is a problem (like reaching the middle of your own back or you can’t get to the damaged area due to a cast).  It is also a must have for days when you’ve physically overworked and your body hurts.
* Yarrow dried leaves (for making a compress or poultice) or tincture is also good at healing bruises as well as stopping bleeding of cuts (the dried leaves for cuts, not the tincture –Yow!).

* Solomon’s Seal tincture or oil (or salve) is good to have on hand for repetitive motion injuries or strains and sprains.  It’s also a good for arthritis.
* Red Clover Flower Essence for times of great shock, trauma or distress.

 One more thing:  if you have broken a bone in the past and it still hurts, using the above herbs and homeopathic remedies may still aid your body’s healing now – even years after the injury.  The same is true with using other herbs and homeopathic remedies for many illnesses or trauma.  Use the herbs that you would have used at the time of the injury/illness to treat longstanding issues and residual pain or distress.

So… go outside, enjoy nature, have fun, be careful and when an unforeseen accident breaks a bone, consider calling on nature for some assistance.  We hope your children don’t have a fall off the monkey bars or an injury when playing soccer but if they do ~ or you do ~ we hope this information is of help to you!

We covered a lot here.  Let us reiterate:  each case is different, so if you use any of this information, your results may be different.   We may be able to offer advice to help you more effectively individually should this or other situations require it – especially if the injury is not straight-forward.  You can contact Deb here.

You can purchase Solomon’s Seal tincture here.  We also have a limited supply of Solomon’s Seal salve you can get here.
To have Sacred Forest Red Clover Flower Essence on hand for shock, please click here.
To your health, happiness and wellbeing,

[Also, let us say that we are not dispensing medical advice or making suggestions for treatment of any disease or condition.  We are merely reporting our experiences.  Seek proper professional medical advice for any medical condition about which you are concerned.  Any statements and claims regarding any product or advice offered have not been evaluated by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).]

Grow or Pick Your Own

June 27, 2016

Contributed by HarryHarry closeup glasses

Do you need something to do that is both fun and educational (and delicious)?

There is nothing better to teach an appreciation of the source of the food we eat, and the effort it takes to get that food to our table than a visit to a pick-your-own farm, berry patch or orchard.

P1110803We greatly miss the fresh blueberries we used to grow on our farm and have wanted to visit a blueberry farm down the road from us ever since we found out about it. We finally had the time and memory to go during blueberry season.

The berries were big and juicy and tasty. There were also plum, pear, peach and apple trees and currants – though only the currants were ready to harvest.P1110800

There were several varieties growing there. Some varieties ripen early, some later. This allows for a longer harvest and less fruit is likely to go un-harvested if it all ripens at once.

During your picking, ask the farmer how he or she takes care of the crop. Are the crops grown organically? How are the crops fertilized? How are they watered? Does she prune the plants? When and how? What varieties does she grow? Why? What special soil conditions do the crops need? What pests eat his crops and what does he do about it? (Our blueberry grower plays a loud series of bird alarm calls to keep several species of hungry birds away so people can eat them first! It seemed to be working since there were a lot of berries to pick.)P1110808


We also visited a local nursery. Not the kind with human babies; the kind with lots of plant babies. They had lots of tiny seedlings just starting and bigger plants ready to plant in a garden or put on a table.

You can learn how to start your own seeds, how to attract butterflies and more by talking to the people that own or work at a nursery.

There is SO much to learn from people who grow our food and help us grow our own food and make our home pretty.


If You Need It…

May 1, 2016

Contributed by HarryNicolas Graybear

There is a principal in ‘herbology’ that effectively says if you need it, it will appear… even if you don’t realize you need it. We experienced this phenomenon several times on the farm.

P1100242This year, the Ground Ivy (Glechoma hederacea) (also known as Gill-over-the-Ground) has REALLY increased its presence in our lawn and in the field up the hillside behind our home. With its square stem and stereotypical flowers, Ground Ivy is definitely a member of the mint family.

So the obvious question is: Why do we need it? What can it be used to treat?

One thing we knew is it has been used as a treatment for cancer. As far as we know, we are healthy in this respect.

Just last week a post was made on Facebook mentioning it was good for tinnitus.  After verifying this use in other sources, we tried it. (For definitive identity assistance, you might visit the Identify that Plant site.P1100239

Harry has had tinnitus for years… perhaps from hunting as a child with his Dad and Grandpa, perhaps from too many loud rock concerts during his college days… who knows.

Harry’s tinnitus stepped up a notch recently, from the constant high-pitch squeal or whistle to a noise that sounded more like spring peepers chirping… non-stop.

The recommended treatment is to drink a Ground Ivy infusion. An infusion is made by pouring boiling water over an ounce or so of plant material and letting it steep in a sealed container (like a capped Mason jar) for at least 4 hours, but preferably overnight. Then strain the plant matter out and drink a cup or two of the liquid during the day. (Inspection by kittens is NOT required.)P1100244

After the first quart of infusion the peepers were silenced.  The squeal remains, but slightly diminished(?).

Here’s hoping for further improvement with more infusion! Luckily, the Ground Ivy will be available all summer.

Upset tummies

February 26, 2016

Contributed by Deb

Help for your stomach ~

I had a horrible stomach bug this week and as I laid in the bed clutching my belly I thought of all the times my children had stomach cramps, vomiting and nausea and how utterly helpless I felt.  Is there anything much worse than seeing our children suffer and not knowing how to help them?
I thought I’d take a moment and share a few things that relieve some of the discomfort of stomach bugs.  These tips are especially helpful for cramps and vomiting.

A Hot Salt Pack ~

This is a miraculous treatment for vomiting and stomach cramps – and it’s so very easy.  It works by sending heat into the hollow organ of the stomach which aids the cramping.

  • Heat 1/2 cup of natural sea salt in a skillet.  It takes about 5 – 7  minutes to get it very hot – but not burning. Pour the salt into an old sock.  It’s easiest to do this if you have two people – one to pour the salt and the other to hold a funnel that goes directly to the sock.  Then tie it shut.
  • If you need to, wrap the sock in another layer or two of soft fabric to prevent any burning. Make it as warm as possible.  Apply it right on the stomach – not over the whole belly.
  • Keep it on as long as needed.  Hopefully, it will bring enough relief that they’ll miraculously fall asleep.  You can reapply it (reheating the same salt) every thirty minutes.

Keep the salt in a plastic container in the medicine chest along with a sock so it’s ready every time.

Electrolyte Replacement Drink

When children (or any of us) have vomiting and/or diarrhea it’s easy to become dehydrated and lose essential minerals.  It’s very easy to make an electrolyte replacement drink at home with very common kitchen items.

  • 8 ounces of room temperature water
  • 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons of honey or maple sugar (if your child is over age 2)

Combine all ingredients and have them take sips or up to 1/3 cup every half an hour or so.

Please note – many years ago, I learned from my Chinese Medical Qi Gong Teacher that it’s necessary to have all beverages be at room temperature – or just slightly warm – when one is vomiting. Cold liquids (and especially ice) actually make the stomach spasm and they worsen the condition.

Home-made Ginger Ale

Who doesn’t like ginger ale when their stomach hurts?  Ginger is an amazing aid for chills, sore throat, flus, low fevers, coughs, nausea, vomiting, cramps, gas and stomach ache ~ making it a valuable ally any time your little one is ill.  Instead of buying ginger ale at the store, make it at home.  This ginger ale has a higher volume of fresh ginger than store bought so it has more medicinal value.

One word of instruction – ginger is warming so if your child has a high fever, it is not the best choice. At that point, you would do better with a cooling herb rather than a warming one. Yes, it’s true, not every herb and food is good for everyone on every occasion. Always trust your instincts and your child’s as well. The road to good health comes from deep knowing and trust in ourselves, first and foremost.

Directions  ~

  • Bring 1 teaspoon of grated fresh ginger and 1 cup of water to boil.  Turn down the heat to low and simmer for no more than 5 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and let sit covered for 10 to 20 minutes.
  • Add 1/2 cup carbonated water.
  • Stir in honey (if your child is over the age of 2) or sugar. Go lightly on the sweetener. Ginger is tasty all by itself.
  • Let cool to room temperature.
  • For illness – drink 1/4 cup every 2 – 3 hours then decrease day by day until the illness is gone. For regular drinking, because this is so medically potent, limit this homemade ginger ale to 1 to 2 cups a day.

Ginger Compress (Or in the Bath)
Ginger can also be used as a compress on sore muscles and body aches. Boil coin sized slices of ginger in a quart of water for about 20 minutes. Let cool to a temperature that is a bit warm, or about room temperature. Put a soft cloth in the water, wring it out and place it on the child wherever she is hurting.

Or if you like, pour the gingered water into a bath and let the child soak in it. It will soothe their aching bodies.

I hope these tips help you next time the ‘bug’ goes around!

Health and love to you ~


Making Flower Essences

January 21, 2016

Contributed by Deb

Sacred Forest Flower Essences ~ What, Where and How

Each flower, shrub and tree that grows holds sacred gifts for us. When we open our hearts to connect with this mysterious and pristine world, we are healed. Sometimes healing comes from merely being in nature; feeling the sun on our cheeks, listening to the birds’ serenade, feeling spring water caress our feet or absorbing a sunset. When we are in the forest, we take in a multitude of goodness ~ thousands of plants grace us, the air we breathe fills our lungs with the oxygen, aromas and energies they produce. This is our true home and when we open our hearts to this beautiful world, our spirits can rise and our troubles disappear. As we are peaceful and receptive, we heal and return to our own original essence.


Flower essences aid our ability to receive healing properties from the Living Soul of Nature. Each flower, every tree and every shrub holds a different gift of healing. Each one is uniquely imprinted with its signature, just as we are. The flower of the plant contains the concentrated essence of the plant. By taking the essence of the flower, your soul aligns with the particular gift it offers you.

Harry and I frequently traverse many paths by our Appalachian home and have come to know these flowers as friends.  We know where to look for them, when the plants first appear in spring, when they bloom and when they shed their seed.

We believe that harvesting the few flowers needed to make this sacred medicine is most aligned with right stewardship and relationship with Nature.  Our flower essences are effective because they are made with gentleness, devotion and respect.  We barely disturb the plants.  We ask them if they would like to be made into an offering to us humans.  We wait to sense an answer to this question.  If they agree, we pick them gently and bring them to the clear sunlight where they transfer their energy to spring water.

Next we add a small amount of brandy to the energized water, which now holds their essence to preserve the medicine they have given us.

Finally, the medicine is hand diluted to the proper potency into bottles to make their way to you, dear friend.

Each step is a prayer.  Our intentions are aligned with healing and love for you.  Yes, we make a sacred covenant with each plant we use so you will truly be nourishing yourself with a bit of heaven.