Summer. The high season of greatest Yang and activity is complemented by the hot fun-filled days at the beach and warm, delightful nights enjoyed outdoors. As we tend to overdue in summer..too much sun, working out and physical activities; below you can find some of the best herbs for headaches, burns, and skin problems. Also herbs for strengthening the respiratory tract, maintain sinus passages, support for healthy circulation and herbs to sooth the discomfort of sore joints and muscles.
Basil (Ocimum basilicum L.) - The Leaves; frequently, the entire herb (all aerial parts) are harvested. Best harvesting season is before flowering. Basil leaves should always be used fresh, as they lose most of their flavor within a few weeks after drying or as an essential oil. The essential oil (less than 1%) is of complex and variable composition. Within the species, several different chemical races exist, and furthermore climate, soil and time of harvest influence not only the amount but also the composition of the essential oil. The most important aroma components are 1,8 cineol, linalool, citral, methyl chavicol (estragole), eugenol and methyl cinnamate, although not necessarily in this order; in fact, hardly any basil contains all of these compounds in significant amounts.
Chamomile - German (Matricaria recutita), Roman (Chamaemelum nobile) - an herb of the sun, Chamomile's bright yellow flowers bring power and light to your space and rituals. Chamomile's medicinal properties range from skin inflammations to lightening hair to treating digestive problems. As a mild sedative, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial, it improves digestion by relaxing the muscles throughout the gastrointestinal system and it can induce an overall sense of calm and well-being.
Dandelion - (Taraxacum officinale) - The common dandelion is an unusually nutritious food. Its leaves contain substantial levels of vitamins A, C, D, and B complex as well as iron, magnesium, zinc, potassium, manganese, copper, choline, calcium, boron, and silicon. Worldwide, the root of the dandelion has been used for the treatment of a variety of liver and gallbladder problems. Other historical uses of the root and leaves include the treatment of breast diseases, water retention, digestive problems, joint pain, fever, and skin diseases. The most active constituents in dandelion appear to be eudesmanolide and germacranolide, substances unique to this herb. Other ingredients include taraxol, taraxerol, and taraxasterol, along with stigmasterol, beta-sitosterol, caffeic acid, and p-hydroxyphenylacetic acid.
Dill (Peucedanum graveolens) - The summer herb of the season, Dill like the other umbelliferous fruits and volatile oils, both Dill fruit and oil of Dill possess stimulant, aromatic, carminative and stomachic properties, making them of considerable medicinal value. Oil of Dill is used in mixtures, or administered in doses of 5 drops on sugar, but its most common use is in the preparation of Dill Water, which is a common domestic remedy for the flatulence of infants, and is a useful vehicle for children's medicine generally.
Elderflower - Elder flowers are highly effective in managing upper respiratory congestion and infections. Picked from the elder tree in mid to late summer, they seem to capture the dry warmth of this time of year, perfect for drying up that runny or blocked nose. These tiny pale white flowers have a delicate floral taste and contain flavonoids and small amounts of mucilage and tannins, a perfect combination for soothing healing and protecting mucous membranes. An old tradition was to make fresh Elderflower wine in summer ready to drink in winter…Food as medicine?!?
Fennel - (Foeniculum vulgare) - Hang Fennel on Midsummer's Night to repel evil spirits. The rest of the year, carry Fennel when you speak truthfully and others will trust your words. Fennel, a hardy, perennial, umbelliferous herb, with yellow flowers and feathery leaves, grows wild in most parts of temperate Europe, but is generally considered indigenous to the shores of the Mediterranean, whence it spreads eastwards to India. It has followed civilization, especially where Italians have colonized, and may be found growing wild in many parts of the world upon dry soils near the sea-coast and upon river-banks.On account of its aromatic and carminative properties, Fennel fruit is chiefly used medicinally with purgatives to allay their tendency to griping and for this purpose forms one of the ingredients of the well-known compound Licorice Powder. Fennel water has properties similar to those of anise and dill water: mixed with sodium bicarbonate and syrup, these waters constitute the domestic 'Gripe Water,' used to correct the flatulence of infants. Volatile oil of Fennel has these properties in concentration. Fennel tea, formerly also employed as a carminative, is made by pouring half a pint of boiling water on a teaspoonful of bruised Fennel seeds.
Lavender - (Lavandula officinalis) Lavender is laid on the fires of the Summer Solstice and is soothing to the spirit. Good for stress and depression as reflected in the skin. These flowers pressed into essential oil form can relieve stress and depression. Good for headaches, burns, and skin problems. It is analgesic, anti-coagulant, anti-convulsive, anti-depressant, anti-fungal, anti-infectious, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, anti-spasmodic, anti-toxic, cardiotonic, and is a sedative. It has a very balancing effect on the body, emotions, mind and spirit.
Pine - Pine Needle was used by the ancient Romans and Greeks to treat respiratory problems and muscular aches. A holiday staple, this fantastic scent is often used to accent potpourri and diffused into the air. It promotes a healthy immune and musculoskeletal system. Distilled in Austria from the finest pines, Pine Needle can be diffused to help strengthen the respiratory tract and maintain sinus passages. When massaged into the skin, Pine Needle supports healthy circulation and soothes the discomfort of sore joints and muscles. A true disinfectant, a strong germ killer, excellent for viral infections and for muscular aches, rheumatism and arthritis. In this aspect, Pine is used for its properties of purification. It represents the Male aspects of the Divine at this time. Consider burning Pine with Meadowsweet for an incense of energetic balance.
Rose - The Mother of All Flowers, the Rose has amazing powers oflove, trust and self acceptance. Roses are representative of faith, hope and love and has the qualities to restore the very center of one's being. A gentle tonic of the heart, Rose oil's psychological properties lie mainly in its effect on the mind,the center of our emotional being. Rose oil calms and supports the heart and helps to nourish the soul! Also symbolizing the feminine, red is the color of choice for Roses used or gathered at Midsummer. Long associated with the eternity of true love, at Midsummer this flower also blesses the Sacred Union.
St. John's Wort - (Hypericum perforatum) - Aromatic, astringent, resolvent, and expectorant. Used in all pulmonary complaints, bladder troubles, in suppression of urine, dysentery, worms, diarrhea, hysteria and nervous depression, and other hemorrhages and jaundice. The flowers, leaves, and stems are all utilized and may help to inhibit viral infections, including herpes. Good for depression and nerve pain. The Welsh called this plant the "leaf of the blessed", believing it to be the ideal combination of water with fire, and thus between light and dark, night and day, making it a perfect celebratory herb at Midsummer. In Brittany the herb is still gathered with ritual reverence and a prayer and question of permission is given before harvesting, as picking the plant represents the dismemberment of the God as Summer Lord, and the Great Sacrifice. Harvest time is Midsummer for drying over the Solstice Fires, or for soaking in an olive or almond oil for a beautiful ritual oil.
Thyme - The pungent oils found in Thyme are an effective antimicrobial in the treatment of respiratory infections. When taking Thyme, people often note tasting it on their breath as the oils permeate through the respiratory system to reduce the proliferation of viruses during infections. It also warms the digestion and reduces metabolic congestion, aiding to clear the body of conditions for infection.
Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) - This germicide and antibacterial oil is great for cleaning infected wounds or as a gargle for a sore throat -- use a 10-percent solution but use pure 100-percent tea tree oil. This essential oil is a disinfectant and good in healing all skin conditions including acne, athlete's foot, nail fungus, herpes outbreaks, insect bites, warts, cuts and scrapes, scabies, vaginitis.
About the Author:
Andrew Pacholyk, L.Ac., specializes in rejuvenating naturopathic therapies based in the ancient Chinese Medical approach to Endocrinology, Gynecology and Pain Management that encompass the increase of metabolism through hormonal balance, infertility, menopause and menstrual disorders, as well as increasing blood flow and vital energy in order to decrease pain, trauma and its associated symptoms. Andrew, through his New York City clinic, ProAcuMed, his many classes, private teachings, cross country lectures, health community and his website, has helped thousands of thoughtful people with his diagnostics and natural prescriptives.