Tag Archives: alternative medicine

The Curative Powers of Elderberry


elderflowerIt’s also known as American Elder, Black Elder, and Tree of Music to give a few of its many names. There are different varieties, some that grow no larger than bushy shrubs while others obtain the height of huge trees. Native Americans used the long, straight, hollowed stems that became woody with age for arrows.

Huge Bull Elk in a Scenic BackdropThey pushed all the soft and poisonous pith out of the stems with hot sticks. Indians also bored holes in them to make flutes which gave Elder its name ‘tree of music.’ Hunters lured elk closer with elderberry whistles. I referred to this use of elder in my American historical romance novel Red Birds Song.

elderberriesThe fruit was believed to have a cooling, gentle, laxative and urine increasing effect. Elderberry wine was thought to be a tonic. The berries are said to aid arthritis. The juice simmered until thick was used as a cough syrup and for colds. The rest of the medicinal was used with great caution and some parts avoided entirely. The inner bark of elder stems and the roots were generally regarded as too dangerous to experiment with, however women drank very small amounts of elderberry bark tea for bad menstrual cramps, to ease the pain of labor and help the child along. I used a potent dose of elderberry bark tea in my historical Native American romance novel, Through the Fire.

Indians and settlers believed that small amounts of potentially poisonous plants could be beneficial under certain circumstances to stimulate the body to heal or maybe because it was fighting off the poison. Native Americans shared their storehouse of knowledge regarding herbal treatments with colonists who used these remedies in combination with those lauded cures they brought with them. Elderberry was also a vital plant in the Old World.

From Rodale’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs:

Elderberry Syrup“One of the human race’s earliest plant companions (found in Stone Age sites) the elderberry has developed reputations for great powers of good…as well as great powers of evil. In some parts of the world, no prudent carpenter would make a cradle of elderberry wood for fear of bringing harm to the baby. The elderflower has been involved in human history for centuries, and one story suggests that it takes its name from a unique medicinal dimension. The generic name Sambucus may come from the Greek Sambuke, a musical instrument made from elderberry wood. For centuries the plant has had the reputation of healing the body, but in elderberry’s golden age, it made music to heal the spirit.

During its long association with humanity, the elderberry’s traditions have become an incredible jumble of conflicting currents. It provided the wood for Christ’s cross; it was the home of the goddess Freya. If seen in a dream, it meant illness was on the way; it was such a healthful plant that seventeenth century herbalist John Evelyn called it a remedy ‘against all infirmities whatever.’  It would ward off witches if gathered on the last day of April and put up on the windows and doors of houses; it was very attractive to witches and thus should be avoided after dark.
bird eating elderberriesElderberries worked their way into every aspect of living from dyeing hair black to showing berries just at the right time to signal the beginning of wheat sowing. Shakespeare had something to say about it. One of his characters called it ‘the stinking elder.’ The Shakers used it as a medicinal. The wood of the old stems, hard and fine grained, was prized by the makers of mathematical instruments. The list could go on and on for pages; elderberries stand in our gardens as old friends.”

From: http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/elderberry

“Elderberry, or elder, has been used for centuries to treat wounds, when applied to the skin. It is also taken by mouth to treat respiratory illnesses such as cold and flu. In many countries, including Germany, elder flower is used to treat colds and flu. Some evidence suggests that chemicals in elder flower and berries may help reduce swelling in mucous membranes, such as the sinuses, and help relieve nasal congestion. Elder may have anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and anticancer properties.”

*Image of elderberry syrup, also below

477900653Plant Description

“European elder is a large shrub or small tree that grows up to 30 feet tall in wet or dry soil in a sunny location. Elder is native to Europe, Africa, and parts of Asia, but it has become widespread in the United States. Deciduous leaves grow in opposite pairs and have five to seven leaflets. Flowers are white and flat-topped with five primary rays. Berries are green, turning red, then black when ripe.”

Parts Used: “The berries and flowers are used as medicine. Berries must be cooked before they are taken. Raw berries contain a chemical similar to cyanide.”

Available Forms: “Elderberry is available as a liquid, syrup, and tincture, as well as in capsule and lozenge forms. Dried elder flower is usually standardized to at least 0.8% flavonoids. Sambucol is standardized to 38% elderberry extract for adults and 19% for children. Sinupret contains 18 mg of elder flower.”

How to Take It: “Do not give elderberry or any product containing elder to a child without first talking to your pediatrician.”

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To Make Your Own Elderberry Syrup:

http://wellnessmama.com/1888/how-to-make-elderberry-syrup-for-flu-prevention/

Or order the Original Sambucus: http://www.naturesway.com/Products/Winter-Season/6970-Sambucus-Original-Syrup.aspx

If You Love Herbs


Nonfiction Herbal

Nonfiction Herbal

My herbal, Plants for a Medieval Herb Garden in the British Isles, is reduced to.99 in Kindle through the 29th. The print book is a lovely option for those of you who prefer a book you can hold in your hands.

Daughter Elise designed the print book and did the gorgeous cover. Both the print and kindle formats are filled with wonderful images. In addition to being a book about herbs from the Middle Ages in the British Isles, it’s also about many of those plants commonly known today. Colonists brought a lot of their beloved herbs with them when they came to the New World.

Book Blurb: An illustrated collection of plants that could have been grown in a Medieval Herb or Physic Garden in the British Isles. The major focus of this work is England and Scotland, but also touches on Ireland and Wales. Information is given as to the historic medicinal uses of these plants and the rich lore surrounding them. Journey back to the days when herbs figured into every facet of life, offering relief from the ills of this realm and protection from evil in all its guises.

At Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Plants-Medieval-Garden-British-Isles-ebook/dp/B00IOGHYVU

The Lovely Willow and its Cures


“All a green willow is my garland.” ~John Heywood

weeping willow

The beautiful willow tree has an ancient, varied history of use and lore, depending on which culture is referenced. While regarded as a cure-all in America, it had strong pagan associations in early Scotland.

From The Scot’s Herbal by Tess Darwin: “Willows were one of the first trees to appear in Scotland after the last Ice Age and no doubt this versatile species has been used since prehistoric times for a great variety of purposes.

In addition to many practical uses of willows for basketry, rope, house building, fencing, beehives, lobster pots and coracle frames, it was a magic tree. A willow wand symbolized the goddess, and was used for divination—the original magic wand. Willow was one of the druids sacred woods…the word wicca (the craft and wisdom of witches) is said to be derived from the use of willow to make a wicker frame to build an effigy of the Celtic God Balder, king/consort to the queen/goddess, ceremonially sacrificed on Beltane.

Weeping Willow

Fear of the power of willow persisted long into Christian times: witches’ broomsticks sometimes had a willow shaft, and persecuted witches from North Berkshire were said to sail in willow winnowing riddles. In central Perthshire willow wands were reportedly used to work the evil eye. Black magic worked with willow could be counteracted by rowan.

On the other hand, a branch of willow catkins in the home is still believed to bring good health; this may relate to its medicinal uses. The bark contains acetylsalicylic acid (the main constituent of aspirin) and has long been used as a pain killer.”

In America, the willow is considered “one of Nature’s most valuable gifts to mankind.” From Field Guide to Medicinal Wild Plants by Bradford Angier. He goes on to say, “The North American Indians soon discovered that tea decocted and steeped from the cambium of the majority of willows was important for arthritis and for reducing fever and many pains—this centuries before the isolating and marketing of aspirin. The ashes of burned willow twigs were blended with water and used for gonorrhea.

pussy-willow-hatsWillow roots were powdered with stones and turned to in an effort to dry up sores from syphilis. The settlers soon joined the Indians in using potent teas brewed from the cambium or inner bark of the bitter willows to treat venereal disease. The dried and powdered bitter bark, astringent and detergent, was applied to the navels of newborn babies. It was utilized to stop severe bleeding, as were the crushed young green leaves, the bark, and the seeds, also stuffed up the nostrils to stop nosebleeds. These were also used for toothache.”

And the uses go on, including a spring tonic made of steeped willow roots, an Indian practice adopted by the settlers. The roots were used to kill and expel worms and willow tea to bathe sore eyes. Some settlers also shared in the Indian practice of using pussy willow catkins as an aphrodisiac. Probably in the form of a bark tea, but it doesn’t say.

I vote for spring.

The Healing Herbs May Bring


medieval herb garden smaller sizeA lot of people are fighting respiratory ailments these days. Don’t overlook herbs when reaching for a cure.

In my herbal, Plants For A Medieval Herb Garden in the British Isles, I discuss several plants used in treating colds, coughs, congestion… Remember, many of these herbs traveled to the America with the colonists, so their use spread. And Native American herbs were sent back to England.

“Much Virtue in Herbs, little in Men.” Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) Poor Richard’s Almanac

Some excerpts from my herbal:

“I often come across references to coltsfoot in my reading. My favorite is related by the beloved British Author Miss Read in her charming books about rural life in the small, fictional village called Thrush Green. In her Thrush Green collection, coltsfoot is a favorite herb in a concoction brewed by the eccentric herbalist, Dotty Harmer. The herb is native to England and Scotland, in grasslands and wastelands. It flowers in early spring and is one of the most popular ingredients in cough remedies. It’s generally given together with other herbs possessing soothing respiratory qualities, such as horehound, marshmallow, and ground ivy. Coltsfoot tea and coltsfoot rock, a confectionery product created from Coltsfoot extract, has long been a remedy for coughs.”

“The tincture of pulsatilla (from the pasque flower) is beneficial in disorders of the mucous membrane, the respiratory, and the digestive passages.

From A Modern Herbal: “A few drops in a spoonful of water will allay the spasmodic cough of asthma, whooping-cough and bronchitis.”

fuzzy sage with blue larkspur“Why should a man die whilst sage grows in his garden?” ~ Old English Saying

“Sage is wreathed in lore. I love this herb. An old friend, sage always has a place, generally several, in our garden. We grow the traditional variety, also some of the unusual kinds. They rarely survive as well as the old standby, if at all. A centuries’ old tradition recommends planting rue among the sage to keep noxious toads away, but I like toads. They eat mosquitoes and other nasty’s. It was believed sage would thrive or wither as the owner’s business prospered or failed. Man, I hope our plants are alive. I use sage in cooking. The leaves can also be made into a tea for fighting colds. I know a woman who swears sage tea helped her ward off a cold. I don’t doubt her, but the flavor is so strong, I’d be hard-pressed to get my family to drink it.” (Image of sage in our garden with heirloom larkspur)

Natural fresh herbsNot in my herbal, because olive trees weren’t widely grown (if at all) in Medieval England or the rest of the British Isles, is Olive Leaf extract. Invaluable. I order mine from Olivus–organic, excellent quality, I get their premium extract. Olive leaf also comes in a tea, but I drink enough tea. I credit olive leaf and green tea with the significant improvement in my blood levels after my 2010 diagnosis of chronic leukemia. Both are powerful antioxidants that help with whatever you’re fighting. (Image of fresh herbs and oil)

In the hit paranormal television show, Grimm, my favorite spot is Rosalee’s Exotic Tea and Spice Shop, filled with herbs. She’s often making an herbal potion or remedy for whatever curse or condition needs curing. They use a lot of herbs on that show–fascinating. For more on Rosalee’s Shop visit the link.

For some reason, herbs are often associated with the realm of fantasy. But they’re quite real, as are their properties, while sometimes misunderstood and their effects exaggerated. Herbs possess medical attributes of inestimable worth, if used properly and for the right condition.

herbal medicineOf course, I had to include a disclaimer in my book so people wouldn’t stupidly overdose on an herb, particularly a poisonous one, but I believe much healing lies in plants. More than we yet know. Medieval monks were amazingly well versed in using medicinal plants. Some of that knowledge was lost with the destruction of the monks and monasteries during the Protestant Reformation. If we recovered all of that ancient knowledge, combined with what we possess now, plus ongoing research, we could cure anything. And we should be doing just that. (Image of old Alchemy laboratory)

***Plants For A Medieval Herb Garden in the British Isles is available in kindle and print at Amazon and in Nookbook and print at Barnes & Noble.

“What is Paradise? But a Garden, an Orchard of Trees and Herbs, full of pleasure, and nothing there but delights.” ~William Lawson, 1618

Now in Print! Plants for a Medieval Herb Garden in the British Isles


Plants for a Medieval Herb Garden in the British Isles CoverAfter exhaustive efforts on my and daughter Elise’s part, Plants for a Medieval Herb Garden in the British Isles is available in print at Amazon (also other outlets).

For those of you who’ve been patiently waiting, it’s here, with over 100 lovely images. Remember, a number of these plants accompanied the colonists to the New World. Many are the herbs we use today, though some of their applications fell into disfavor. Not everyone still seeks a way to avert the Evil Eye, or risks potentially poisonous treatments for a cure.

Book Description: An illustrated collection of plants that could have been grown in a Medieval Herb or Physic Garden in the British Isles. The major focus of this work is England and Scotland, but also touches on Ireland and Wales. Information is given as to the historic medicinal uses of these plants and the rich lore surrounding them. Journey back to the days when herbs figured into every facet of life, offering relief from the ills of this realm and protection from evil in all its guises.~

dill with white aster and heirloom poppiesA Few Amazon Reader Reviews:

 
A perfect resource for gardeners and history buffs alike.  By Dorothy Johnson
 
Plants for a medieval herb garden is a fun, easy resource. I have been making my way through its pages and enjoying every minute of it. I’ve even found some new plants that I’d like to try out in my own garden.
Excellent Source for Herbal Lore,

Beth Trissel delivers detailed and useful information about herbs in the middle ages. Of course, no self-respecting medievalist would be without a thorough knowledge of healing herbs and their uses, and Beth lays it all out for us in alphabetical order.

archangel-michael, old stained glass windowWell-researched Medieval Herbal
I was in the online workshop where Beth first began putting this book together. The information she gave the participants in each session was amazingly detailed and very well-documented. She gave us an early version of this book and I’ve referred to it more than once as a resource for my own novel writing. When I saw the finished product was out and available, I grabbed my copy immediately. If you’re ever lucky enough to attend one of her herbal workshops — DO IT!! Until then, this is an excellent substitute and one heck of a resource. If you’re writing in this time period and location and want to make sure your characters are using historically accurate herbs in the way they were used at the time, you’ll definitely want this book. If you’re simply interested in learning how herbs were used in Medieval times in the British Isles, if you love knowing the history of the herbs you might use every day, or if you’re just learning about using herbs, this is the book for you!

Slippery Elm–Medicinal Native American Tree


slippery_elmA beautiful and important native tree, slippery elm is also called Indian Elm and Moose Elm among other things, Slippery Elm is a medium-sized tree, well-known for centuries to many a youngster who chewed its aromatic, alluring, and mucilaginous bark and twigs. In Appalachia, some people still soak the bark of this tree in warm water to make a soothing emollient for skin injuries and wounds. The Indians mashed the bark and used the pulp for gunshot wounds and to ease the painful removal of the lead. Tea brewed from the roots was given to pregnant women at the time of birth. The slipperiness of the bark, sap, and juice was used by midwives to ease the birth itself by applying it topically to the birth canal and infant’s head. One to two ounces of the inner bark were steeped in two cups of water for an hour or more, then strained and used for many medical needs including digestive troubles. For the sick, the powdered and easily digestible bark from the inner layer was flavored with honey or maple syrup and eaten as a strengthening gruel.

From: http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/slippery-elm

elm tree“Slippery elm (Ulmus fulva) has been used as an herbal remedy in North America for centuries. Native Americans used slippery elm in healing salves for wounds, boils, ulcers, burns, and skin inflammation. It was also taken orally to relieve coughs, sore throats, diarrhea, and stomach problems.

Slippery elm contains mucilage, a substance that becomes a slick gel when mixed with water. It coats and soothes the mouth, throat, stomach, and intestines. It also contains antioxidants that help relieve inflammatory bowel conditions. Slippery elm also causes reflux stimulation of nerve endings in the gastrointestinal tract leading to increased mucus secretion. The increased mucus production may protect the gastrointestinal tract against ulcers and excess acidity.”

I like trees because they seem more resigned to the way they have to live than other things do.  ~Willa Cather, 1913

Of all the wonders of nature, a tree in summer is perhaps the most remarkable; with the possible exception of a moose singing “Embraceable You” in spats.  ~Woody Allen

Rosemary, the Herb of Remembrance


Rosemary“There’s rosemary that’s for remembrance. Pray, you love, remember.” ~ Hamlet

Rosemary is the herb that we leave on graves and a fitting one for Memorial Day. I love the scent of rosemary and the wealth of history behind it. Known as the herb of remembrance from the time of ancient Greece, it appears in that immoral verse by Shakespeare. My fascination with herbs plays a significant role in my historical-light paranormal romance novel Somewhere My Love, as does Hamlet, for that matter. I always wanted to write a murder mystery with a focus on herbs and parallels to a Shakespearean play, and so I did. Ghostly, murder mystery, time travel romance novel, Somewhere My Love, is interwoven with Hamlet and herbs.

‘Tis the Season for RosemaryRosemary is considered a tonic, astringent, diaphoretic (increases perspiration), stimulant. Oil of Rosemary has the carminative (induces the expulsion of gas) properties of other volatile oils and is an excellent stomachic and nervine (has a beneficial effect upon the nervous system), curing many cases of headache.


Rosemary1Beloved by the ancients, rosemary had the reputation for strengthening memory. On this account, it became the emblem of fidelity for lovers. And holds a special position among herbs from the symbolism attached to it. Not only was rosemary used at weddings, but also at funerals, for decking churches and banqueting halls at festivals, as incense in religious ceremonies, and in magical spells. It was entwined in the wreaths worn by brides, being first dipped into scented water. Anne of Cleves, fourth wife of Henry VIII, and fortunate to escape with her life due to an annulment, is said to have worn such a wreath at her wedding. Maybe it protected her. She outlived his other wives, two of whom were beheaded, and the sixth one, Catherine Parr, might have been had he hung on much longer. Such were the vagaries of his moods. But I digress.

basket of herbs with rosemaryA rosemary branch, richly decorated and tied with ribbons, was also presented to wedding guests, as a symbol of love and loyalty. Rosemary was one of the cordial herbs used to flavor ale and wine. It was also used in Christmas decoration. Together with an orange stuck with cloves it was given as a New Year‘s gift. Rosemary came to represent the dominant influence of the lady of the house, “Where Rosemary flourished, the woman ruled.” I add, to prove their dominance, some husbands would damage the flourishing plants. (A Modern Herbal)

“As for rosmarine, I lette it runne all over my garden walls, not onlie because my bees love it, but because it is  the herb sacred to remembrance,  and, therefore to friendship..” ~Thomas Moore

The Healing Powers of the Willow Tree


weeping willowI love weeping willows, especially in the spring with their graceful branches draped in soft green, but there’s far more to this tree than beauty. The willow is considered “one of Nature’s most valuable gifts to mankind,” says Bradford Angier in Field Guide to Medicinal Wild Plants. As mentioned earlier, willow contains salicylic acid, the same component as aspirin. According to Mr. Angier, “The North American Indians soon discovered that tea decocted and steeped from the cambium of the majority of willows was important for arthritis and for reducing fever and many pains—this centuries before the isolating and marketing of aspirin. The ashes of burned willow twigs were blended with water and used for gonorrhea. Willow roots were powdered with stones and turned to in an effort to dry up sores from syphilis. The settlers soon joined the Indians in using potent teas brewed from the cambium or inner bark of the bitter willows to treat venereal disease.

Sunset at the PoolThe dried and powdered bitter bark, astringent and detergent, was applied to the navels of newborn babies. It was utilized to stop severe bleeding, as were the crushed young green leaves, the bark, and the seeds, also stuffed up the nostrils to stop nosebleeds. These were also used for toothache.”

And the uses go on, including a spring tonic made of steeped willow roots, an Indian practice adopted by the settlers. The roots were used to kill and expel worms and willow tea to bathe sore eyes. Some settlers also shared in the Indian practice of using pussy willow catkins as an aphrodisiac. Probably in the form of a bark tea, but it doesn’t say.

pussy-willow-hatsPussy willows are also a favorite of mine, but just because. Spring wouldn’t be spring without their fuzzy catkins.

THE WILLOW CATS
~Margaret Widdemer

They call them pussy-willows,
But there’s no cat to see
Except the little furry toes
That stick out on the tree:
I think that very long ago,
When I was just born new,
There must have been whole pussy-cats
Where just the toes stick through—-
And every Spring it worries me,
I cannot ever find
Those willow-cats that ran away
And left their toes behind!

‘What Can’t Be Cured, Must Be Endured’ but What if it Could Be?


alternative medicine--herbsMany folk are fighting respiratory ailments, or flu, these days. Don’t overlook herbs when reaching for a cure.

In my new herbal, Plants For A Medieval Herb Garden in the British Isles, I covered several plants used in treating colds, coughs, congestion, etc. Some excerpts from the book:

“I often come across references to coltsfoot in my reading. My favorite is related by the beloved British Author Miss Read in her charming books about rural life in the small, fictional village called Thrush Green. In her Thrush Green collection, coltsfoot is a favorite herb in a concoction brewed by the eccentric herbalist, Dotty Harmer. The herb is native to England and Scotland, in grasslands and wastelands. It flowers in early spring and is one of the most popular ingredients in cough remedies. It’s generally given together with other herbs possessing soothing respiratory qualities, such as horehound, marshmallow, and ground ivy. Coltsfoot tea and coltsfoot rock, a confectionery product created from Coltsfoot extract, has long been a remedy for coughs.”

“The tincture of pulsatilla (from the pasque flower) is beneficial in disorders of the mucous membrane, the respiratory, and the digestive passages.

From A Modern Herbal: “A few drops in a spoonful of water will allay the spasmodic cough of asthma, whooping-cough and bronchitis.”

fuzzy sage with blue larkspur“Why should a man die whilst sage grows in his garden?” ~ Old English Saying

“Sage is wreathed in lore. I love this herb. An old friend, sage always has a place, generally several, in our garden. We grow the traditional variety, also some of the unusual kinds. They rarely survive as well as the old standby, if at all. A centuries’ old tradition recommends planting rue among the sage to keep noxious toads away, but I like toads. They eat mosquitoes and other nasty’s. It was believed sage would thrive or wither as the owner’s business prospered or failed. Man, I hope our plants are alive. I use sage in cooking. The leaves can also be made into a tea for fighting colds. I know a woman who swears sage tea helped her ward off a cold. I don’t doubt her, but the flavor is so strong, I’d be hard-pressed to get my family to drink it.” (Image of sage in our garden with heirloom larkspur)

Natural fresh herbsNot in my herbal, because olive trees weren’t widely grown (if at all) in Medieval England or the rest of the British Isles, is Olive Leaf extract. Invaluable. I order mine from Olivus–organic, excellent quality, I get their premium extract. Olive leaf also comes in a tea, but I drink enough tea. I credit olive leaf and green tea with the significant improvement in my blood levels after my 2010 diagnosis of chronic leukemia. Both are powerful antioxidants that help with whatever you’re fighting. (Image of fresh herbs and oil)

In the hit paranormal television show, Grimm, my favorite spot is Rosalee’s Exotic Tea and Spice Shop, filled with herbs. She’s often making an herbal potion or remedy for whatever curse or condition needs curing. They use a lot of herbs on that show–fascinating. For more on Rosalee’s Shop visit the link.

For some reason, herbs are often associated with the realm of fantasy. But they’re quite real, as are their properties, while sometimes misunderstood and their effects exaggerated. Herbs possess medical attributes of inestimable worth, if used properly and for the right condition.

herbal medicineOf course, I had to include a disclaimer in my book so people wouldn’t stupidly overdose on an herb, particularly a poisonous one, but I believe much healing lies in plants. More than we yet know. Medieval monks were amazingly well versed in using medicinal plants. Some of that knowledge was lost with the destruction of the monks and monasteries during the Protestant Reformation. If we recovered all of that ancient knowledge, combined with what we possess now, plus ongoing research, we could cure anything. And we should be doing just that. (Image of old Alchemy laboratory)

medieval herb garden smaller sizeDaughter Elise is formatting my herbal for print, but the fully illustrated version is available in kindle now with 199 pages and over 100 images. ‘The major focus of this work is England and Scotland, but also touches on Ireland and Wales. Information is given as to the historic medicinal uses of these plants and the rich lore surrounding them. Journey back to the days when herbs figured into every facet of life, offering relief from the ills of this realm and protection from evil in all its guises.’

***Elise did the stunning cover. The book is 2.99 which doesn’t even cover the cost of a single image. Here’s the Amazon Kindle Link.

“The Garden is the Poor Man’s Apothecary”~German Proverb


Parsley: a member of the carrot, parsnip and celery family.  We always grow parsley and usually start our own plants from seed.  Slow to germinate, there’s an old saying that parsley must go to the devil and back seven times before it comes up and the devil likes it so much he always keeps some.  The flat-leafed Italian variety is best for cooking.  Parsley is one of the herbs preferred by the Eastern Black swallowtail butterfly to lay its eggs on.  If you spot some funny looking caterpillars eating your parsley or dill don’t be alarmed, they will transform into lovely butterflies.  There’s nothing like fresh parsley in leek and potato soup made from your own vegetables.  Home grown onions can be substituted for the leeks.

Let thy kitchen be thy apothecary;
and, Let foods be your medicine.
–  Hippocratus

From Rodale’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs:

Parsley has the misfortune of being a token herb on plates of steak and fish.  But that resilient sprig is really edible and its high chlorophyll content makes it a natural breath sweetener.

The Romans are said to have used it at orgies to cover up the smell of alcohol on their breath, while aiding in digestion. (Who knew this even mattered at a Roman orgy?)

And there’s the unflattering reference remark that was once made about those who looked as if at death’s door: “That man’s in need of parsley.” (Corpses were sprinkled with parsley to deodorize them.)

*First two images of parsley in garden are of ours.

In ancient Greece parsley was used in funeral ceremonies long before it was thought of as a garnish.  It was also placed in wreaths given to winning athletes because the Greeks believed that the god Hercules had chosen parsley for his garlands.  And for athletic horses, the greens were thought to give stamina to win races.

The Greeks also associated parsley with oblivion and death.  According to one legend, parsley sprang up where the blood of the Greek hero Archemorus was spilled when he was eaten by serpents.  The Greeks used the wreaths for graves.

By the Middle Ages, parsley had made its appearance in herbal medicines. It has been given credit for curing a great range of human ills, especially those having to do with kidneys and liver.  It has also been used against plague, asthma, dropsy, and jaundice as a carminative, an emmenagogue, and an aide to digestion.

*A carminative is an herb or preparation that either prevents formation of gas in the gastrointestinal tract, or facilitates the expulsion of said gas, thereby combating flatulence.

*An emmenagogue is an herb that has the ability to provoke menstruation and may be mild or dangerously potent.  More on this subject at: http://www.sisterzeus.com/Emmeno.htm

“Garlic is as good as ten mothers.”~

From A Modern Herbal:

Culpepper tells us:

‘It is very comfortable to the stomach…good for wind and to remove obstructions both of the liver and spleen…Galen commendeth it for the falling sickness…the seed is effectual to break the stone and ease the pains and torments thereof…The leaves of parsley laid to the eyes that are inflamed with heat or swollen, relieves them if it be used with bread or meat…The juice dropped into the ears with a little wine easeth the pains.’

Of our Garden Parsley (which he calls Parsele) Gerard says, ‘It is delightful to the taste and agreeable to the stomache,’ also ‘the roots or seeds boiled in ale and drank, cast foorth strong venome or poyson; but the seed is the strongest part of the herbe.’

Though the medicinal virtues of Parsley are still fully recognized, in former times it was considered a remedy for more disorders than it is now used for. Its imagined quality of destroying poison, to which Gerard refers, was probably attributed to the plant from its remarkable power of overcoming strong scents, even the odour of garlic being rendered almost imperceptible when mingled with that of Parsley.~

“Eat leeks in oile and ramsines in May,
And all the year after physicians may play.
“~
(Ramsines were old-fashioned broad-leafed leeks.)

Royalty free images except for tiny bunny