Tree Medicine and the Magic of Blisswort
Wolf trimmed some Alders and Cottonwoods the other day, and this small trimming resulted in a whole pickup bed full of branches. Now, I generally gather bark at the prescribed times of Spring and Autumn if only because the bark is generally easier to peel back then, but how I could I resist all that yummy resinous Cottonwood and silvery Alder bark just calling my name. Truth is, I couldn’t, so I hauled tarps full of clipped limbs to the Medicine Lodge where I do most of my herb work and proceeded to sort and chop these mountains of trees. At the same time, my floor is already nearly covered with drying Quelites (Lambsquarters) so it’s quite a squeeze in there right now, I can’t even begin to reach my chest full of dried herbs or the shelves of tinctures and oils.
And I learned something, Narrow-leaved Cottonwood is much harder to dry than regular broad leafed Cottonwoods, they want to blacken right away rather than retaining their cool green crispness the way the other species do. Strange…. Nevertheless, I have successfully dried more leaf and bark that I know what to do with or even how to store. I think I need a new method of storing plants. This year has been bountiful that I have dried plants coming out my ears and all these silly little quart jars that are of no use in such a situation.
The Monarda began blooming yesterday, on the Summer Solstice, and I’ll be taking a nice walk through the Arroyo in the morning to harvest the flowering tops and enjoy the lushness of the season.
The Woodrats are destroying my garden, but we won’t go into that…. I’ll just remain incredibly grateful for the immense amount of sustainable wildcrafting I’m able to do.
It rained today, a storm from the North so not a monsoon though it was full of hail and lightening that ignited multiple small fired in the Gila. The monsoons come from the South, from Tucson and I hope they’ll arrive on schedule despite the unusual weather. Regardless of where the rain originated the plants thirstily drank it up. It’s been very hot here, in the mid-nineties and oppressively dry. But the Canyon is so very green as a result of the many Spring showers so I can’t complain at all, I just take my walks early before the heat becomes unbearable.
The Blisswort (commonly called Skullcap, but what an awful name for such a lovely plant) I harvested earlier this Spring has matured into a wonderfully green tincture full of the nerve restorative qualities of the dreamy purple-blue hooded flowers. Blisswort has, over the last three years, almost miraculously healed my deep fried nervous systems. The shaking the used to be nearly constant is almost gone, I haven’t had an anxiety attack in I don’t know how many months and my sleep is peaceful and regular. I only take one to two drops at a time and find that the extra bitter nature of New Mexico’s Blisswort is extra beneficial for my stomach and liver, both of which have seen their fair share of trouble.
Taken in acutely stressful situation, a bad tension headache or stress induced insomnia, the plant will work her magic quickly, easing the tension from the body and allowing us to slip into a deep sleep. Used over a period of time, it will help restore the overall health of the nervous system from long term stress, drug or alcohol abuse and certain CNS disorders.
It’s bitter nature also helps clear heat, infection and toxins, making an extra useful nerve tonic for the Pitta/Adrenal stress person. I’ve also successfully used Blisswort for Shingles and Sciatica as well as many other kinds of nerve pain.
I especially like her combined with Blue Sage or Evening Primrose for general use, or with Rose Petals, Evening Primrose and Mugwort for delayed onset, crampy menses. But she works just fine on her own too, I suggest a fresh plant tincture as the tea is very bitter (at least from the plants here, I’ve heard that not all spp., are as bitter).
Oh, and Blisswort gives some people very vivid, intense dreams (not to say pleasant or unpleasant just very intense) so be aware of that if your prone to nightmares or the like.
This plant is one of my best friends and one I’ve used for many people and for a long period of time on myself, she is dependable and safe; a superb medicine plant that grows the world over.