The Peach trees in the village just burst into bloom these past few days, all radiant pink and headily fragrant. From a distance, the trees look to be on fire with a soft magenta light that draws the eye in like a spotlight, obscuring the image of the empty fields beyond, the cars on the road nearby and even the green creeping up from the slowly waking ground. Although Peaches are closely related to Cherries, Apples and Roses, each of the Rosaceae species has its own very unique feel and personality. Peach has a feeling of longing and wistfulness, of hot southern nostalgia that smells like perfume and whiskey and fairies masquerading as fireflies and glow-worms on a summer night.
I’ve written a bit before on this lovely tree and Matthew Wood has also elaborated about his understanding of Peach both on his website as well as in his book, The Practice of Traditional Western Herbalism. Some of the info here is a repeat of what I already wrote, but with expansions or added subtleties in some cases.
I often use Peach tincture when I find my fists unconsciously clenched or notice that I have built up tension manifesting as feeling overheated, parch mouthed and overtly irritated. It makes a soothing, cooling nervine is such cases and won’t aggravate dryness. There’s something deeply restorative about Peach that I can’t perfectly describe, something that helps to heal hurt caused by grief or loss, or anger that stems from a deep wound. It works very well with it’s cousin Rose for these uses, especially if there’s any depression or sexual component involved. Where Hawthorn seems to work better for the raging grief caused by rejection or acute loss, Peach is often most specific where there’s some level of obsession or chronic focus on something lost or long awaited for, and that obsession manifests as ongoing irritation, tension leading to burnout and consuming sadness. That’s not say that Peach doesn’t make a fabulous general nervine, it certainly does. Peach leaf tea is a traditional Southern/Appalachian remedy for hysteria, anxiousness and nervousness. It’s quite safe and is particularly helpful for children, pregnant women and those of sensitive or delicate constitutions.
This is also a lovely remedy for all kinds of bothersome belly troubles, especially those accompanied by a sense of heat, flushed skin, a red tongue and nausea. In cases where there is less heat Ginger is a lovely warming addition. Nausea caused by pregnancy, menopause and other hormonal issues is especially responsive to Peach. In the same energetic vein, it’s also very cooling and soothing for hyperimmune/allergic responses and quite useful in the treatment of venomous insect stings/bites, allergic reactions and raging red infections of all kinds.
Depending on the part of the plant you’re using, Peach tastes sweet, sour and slightly bitter in varying proportions. It is cool energetically and somewhat moistening. Most parts of the plant are good for medicine and more or less interchangeable. I have used the leaves, twigs and flowers, all of which are delightful. Others have used a syrup of the concentrated fruit or even a tincture of the dried pits (see the wonderful comment by Robin Rose Bennett to my former Peach post.) Of the parts I’ve used, the bark/twigs are the strongest, but all bits are very useful and will serve you well (and be very very tasty). I tend to save my leaves for teas and infusions for the most part, and although I find a normal beverage tea made with Peach leaf to be fine, I only make my Peach infusions in cold water. My next project is a nice Peach salve from either kernels or leaves, I expect great things from this venture because the poultice, compress and tincture are all great wound/rash healers.
One of my favorite tincture formulas for burnout/nervous exhaustion is 3 parts Milky Oats, 2 part Peach, 1 part Rose flower, 1/2 part fresh Ginger root and 1/4 part dried Nettle Seed. This is a nice smooth recipe to enhance mood, relax tension, calm the belly and cool excess heat. I do tend to work with it as a simple in most cases though, it is such a multi-dimensional and complex plant that it works very well on its own.
Did I mention it tastes nice? Really really nice.