Podcast 123: Four Herbs for Moms

Happy mother’s day, 2020! The truth is, any herb could be an herb for moms, because not all moms are alike, in their needs or their preferences. These four, though – linden, dandelion, yarrow, and violet – are really worth knowing and sharing with the mothers in your life.

These plants are abundant, so you know you’re being sustainable and responsible. They’re resilient, and can pass that resilience on to us when we work with them. And they’re especially relevant to a mom’s life in the world today, too! Linden can help us release tension in the body and in the mind, and soothe frazzled nerves. Dandelion is irrepressible and sunny, and provides rooted nourishment when you’re feeling trampled. Yarrow is a warrior’s herb, and sometimes moms need to put on their armor and go to battle – whether that’s for the kids, or against them! ūüėČ And violet helps you soften your heart, remember yourself, and take delight in simple pleasures.

Whatever kind of mother you have – or whatever kind of mother you are! – we’re sure that one of these herbs for moms will be a welcome gift and become a lifelong ally.

Mentioned in this episode:

One thing most moms could use help with is getting more sleep! Whether it’s worry keeping you up at night, disruptive midnight waking, or a mismatched circadian rhythm, our newest short course Holistic Help for Better Sleep has solutions for all your sleep troubles. Get some Zs and rest easy!

As always, please subscribe, rate, & review our podcast wherever you listen, so others can find it more easily. Thank you!!

Our theme music is “Wings” by Nicolai Heidlas.

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Episode Transcript

Katja (00:02):
Hi, I’m Katja.

Ryn (00:15):
And I’m Ryn.

Katja (00:15):
And we’re here at the Commonwealth Center for Holistic Herbalism in Boston, Massachusetts.

Ryn (00:19):
And on the internet everywhere. Thanks to the power of the podcast. Yeah. Hey, happy mother’s day. 2020.

Katja (00:30):
Yeah.

Ryn (00:32):
And it’s 2020. So like all holidays, this one’s a little bit weird.

Katja (00:37):
Yeah. It’s mother’s day where you can’t go see your mom probably.

Ryn (00:40):
Possibly. Yeah. And I mean not to make light of it. That is a big source of stress for a lot of people right now is if you’ve got parents who are maybe elderly, maybe in a home somewhere, but you can’t visit. And you haven’t been able to for months now and you’re not sure if you will. So whoa man, not to get super heavy right out of the bat.

Katja (00:59):
Right. Well, I don’t know. We were just about to say that these are herbs for mothers for mother’s day. And as we were choosing these herbs, we were thinking a lot about parenting and dealing with kids and herbs that can support you while you do that. But I suppose also there is always that pivot point. Because when you are a parent, you may also still have parents. And so you’re in that place in between of supporting your children, maybe supporting your parents, trying to support yourself in there. Yeah.

Ryn (01:36):
Yeah. I mean, holidays like this, you know, sometimes people get very counter consumerist about it and like, ah, this was holiday invented by hallmark cards and stuff like that. And you know, that’s not entirely false. But at the same time, the point or the pure idea…

Katja (01:56):
The sentiment.

Ryn (01:56):
…of a holiday like this. Yeah. The sentiment… Is you have a relationship. And it’s important and here’s somebody who took care of you for a long time, or you are the one who’s doing the caretaking. And that matters a lot. And we want to recognize that. So we can get to a sentimental way with these kinds of things too. So, yeah. So we wanted to talk about herbs for mothers on mother’s day this year.

Katja (02:24):
Yeah. We picked out four.

Ryn (02:24):
We did, we did.

Katja (02:26):
It’s hard. It’s hard to pick out only four.

Ryn (02:31):
Right. And I mean, you know, herbs for moms is kind of like herbs for people who have a dog or like herbs for people who live in Massachusetts. I don’t know. It’s just like any herb could be an herb for a mom. It could be the herbs that really makes the difference for that mom and really helps her turn things around. And I mean, certainly I can think of some moms who would benefit a lot from codonopsis or from jiaogulan.

Katja (02:58):
Or from kava. As a mom, I definitely benefited from chamomile.

Ryn (03:05):
For sure. Yeah. Right? So that’s all real. But these four that we’re going to talk about today: linden, dandelion, yarrow, and violet. We think that these are worthy of consideration for any moms or mom-adjacent humans that may be out there listening to the pod.

Katja (03:21):
Yeah. p.s. They are great for dads too, and parents and caregivers of all varieties.

Ryn (03:28):
Yeah, absolutely.

Katja (03:29):
If you are raising kiddos, these are herbs that will help,

Ryn (03:34):
Right? Right. you know, mother is a verb at least as much as a noun. So you know, it’s an act. It is something that you do. And if that’s something that you do, then these herbs might help. But before we leap in to our discussion, let’s give everyone our reclaimer.

Katja (03:53):
Yes, we want to tell you, we have to tell you, and we want to tell you that we are not doctors. We are herbalists and holistic health educators.

Ryn (04:02):
The ideas discussed in our podcast do not constitute medical advice. No state or federal authority licenses herbalists in the United States. These discussions are for educational purposes only. Everyone’s body is different. So the things we’re talking about may or may not apply directly to you, but they should give you some information to think about and some ideas to research further.

Katja (04:21):
And we want to remind you that your good health is your own personal responsibility. So the final decision when considering any course of therapy, whether it’s discussed on the internet or prescribed by your physician, is always yours.

Ryn (04:35):
That’s what. That’s what it is. So these four herbs that we chose to talk about today, we didn’t sort of pick them out of a hat. You know, when we were talking, we were like, well, mother’s day, of course, that’s motherwort. And then we remembered, oh right, we did an episode like that last year. So that was, where did my letters go? Oh yeah, yeah. Podcast, episode 79. So you can scroll back and find that. And that was all about motherwort for mother’s day.

Katja (05:03):
And then, you know, of course all of our usual best friends came to mind, like Tulsi, you know, just to keep the good mood going. And elderflower to let go of things when maybe you were feeling a little worked up. Or chamomile, obviously, for every possible reason. There were so many that came to mind and we thought, Hm, but those are our everyday friends and the friends that we really talk about a lot. And we wanted to think about some friends who were special, and maybe we don’t talk about as often. Now, all four of these herbs — linden, dandelion, yarrow and violet — these are all herbs that you could work with every day if you wanted to. If the situation called for that. They’re not herbs that you have to be careful with or restrict your working with them.

Ryn (06:03):
Yeah, that was part of the reason we wanted to focus on these. They’re abundant. And that means that they’re sustainable and that we can work with them in a responsible manner, and not worry that we’re depleting the last vibrant wild stocks of some at risk medicinal plant. Which is a thing to be concerned about, you know, in our world right now. But with these ones, you don’t really have to worry about that quite so much. Now, it may be that there’s only one linden tree in your particular city. But in most places where these plants grow, which is a lot of places, they’re quite abundant.

Katja (06:37):
Well, the other thing about these plants is that every one of them is resilient in a little bit different way. But they all have a particularly, like how do I want to say this? The resilience of these plants is a specific part of the plant itself, right? Like it’s a characteristic of the plant. And I thought that was really important. They’re all resilient in somewhat different ways. But all resilient in a way that made me think about mothers, because when you are mothering, you are giving and giving and giving. And you are usually also sacrificing things for yourself. And you know, making sure that everybody else has what they need. Usually while you do not have what you need. And every one of these plants has a resilience that resonates with that quality of being a mother. So I think that’s particularly excellent also. Yeah.

Linden

Ryn (07:55):
Well, let’s start with linden. Yeah. So linden is just such a gentle, calming, soothing kind of a nerve. I think soothing is the word. We come back to linden over and over again. And it’s for times when you want to be soothed. You know, mothers spend a lot of time doing the soothing. They spend a lot of time, you know, kissing the wounds and patting the head and rubbing the shoulders and,

Katja (08:22):
And Oh God, once they’re tweens and teens, then it is hours and hours of listening to, you know…

Ryn (08:33):
social turmoil stories.

Katja (08:33):
All of the teenage angst and soothing all of that as well. Yeah, we like to talk about linden as a hug and a mug. And when we talk about that, we’re often talking about it to adults.. And talking about it in terms of like, when you’re feeling really bad and you want like the best person in your life to come and give you a hug and like maybe a plate of gluten free cookies, and tell you that everything’s going to be okay in a way that you can believe. And for you that might be your mother, that might be the relationship that you have with your mother. But for everybody there’s probably somebody in your life who is that kind of a soother person, even if it isn’t your actual mother. And so that is what I’m envisioning sort of that platonic motherly, soothing ability that linden has. And that’s so appropriate for mothers, because after you have soothed everybody else, and all that’s left for you at the end of the night is exhaustion and frazzled nerves and looking at your to do list tomorrow to make sure that everybody has what they need to have the next day. Like you need a minute for somebody to give you a hug and a plate of cookies.

Ryn (10:02):
Yeah, for sure. So yeah, so linden can convey that feeling. And you, you had a word in there about frazzled nerves and that’s something else that we come back to over and over again with linden. That when you feel like your nerves are very dried out, over blow-dried hair with split ends on it.

Katja (10:21):
Yeah.

Ryn (10:24):
So you may be saying, sure. I know exactly what that feeling is, Ryn. What we mean is when it feels like your skin is a little thinner than it used to be. That all your nerve endings are exposed and everything’s a little bit buzzier than it, than it normally is or then than you would like it to be.

Katja (10:41):
Like when everything is getting on your nerves.

Ryn (10:43):
Yeah. Then linden comes over and it’s like putting a soothing protective coating over those exposed nerves. And just helping you to feel a lot more comfortable with what you’re experiencing and what you’re exposed to and what you’re coping with.

Katja (11:03):
Linden has a particular resilience that really makes me think about mothering. Linden is a community tree and it hosts communities of insects. And one of the interesting relationships that’s going on in a linden tree is between ants and aphilds. And the ants want to drink the delicious sap from the linden trees, from the leaves. And the aphids make that possible. And so the ants are like the goat herders of the insect world, you know, or like the shepherds of the insect world. And they’re like shepherding the aphids so that the aphids will have healthy lives and provide the ants with food. And all of this is happening and it doesn’t damage the linden. I mean it damages the linden. You can see by the end of any given growing season, linden leaves are pretty battered, but it doesn’t hurt the tree. The tree is fine. It doesn’t make the tree unable to survive. Linden is a tree that is really able to persist. It is able to spare resources to support its community and still thrive on its own. And that, you know, another thing about it is that the wood of linden is exceedingly pest resistant, which is why it was very popular for furniture making. But the leaves are almost like insect attractant, you know, and it’s like linden has its own boundaries. Like, Hey, my trunk is for me. That’s my core. That’s where my own energy is. That’s where my boundaries are. Like this is the part that’s me. You can have my leaves, you can have all the nourishment you need from my leaves. My trunk is for me. And I think that is something that is very difficult in modern parenting, especially the parent who’s filling the mother role. Because there is this expectation to be the perfect mom, and to do all the things, and to never say no, and the the perfect birthday party and the perfect this and the perfect that. And it doesn’t matter how late you have to stay up to make it. And it’s hard I think for mothers and the people who are filling that particular role in a child’s life to hold some boundaries and say, Hey, but this part is for me. This is like, I’m actually allowed to have something for myself. And I think that linden does a really beautiful job of like abundantly providing and also holding some things back for itself.

Ryn (14:18):
Yeah. Nice. That’s lovely. You know, another aspect of linden is that it’s a relaxant herb. And that that is where a lot of its medicinal applications come from. Linden is an herb we think of often when there’s stress and tension. And especially when that’s affecting the heart or the cardiovascular system, causing things like high blood pressure or heart palpitations. We turn to linden as a relaxant with that affinity for the heart and the vasculature to release those pressures, to release that tension. And so it can help with those conditions. But that relaxing effect of linden is much broader than that. You know, it can help to release lots of things, including mental and emotional tensions that you may be carrying around with you. One that a lot of mothers carry with them every day is expectations about how to be a good parent, or a world’s best mom, or you know 12 tips to be a better mom in the new world or whatever. Like, you know, so many, I’m thinking of like magazines in the supermarket and just like scrolling through your Instagram feed and other things that are like, yeah, you’re a mom, but are you doing it right? Are you doing it enough? Are you doing it as much as this one? And, you know, like so many other things, there are these impossible standards to live up to. But that doesn’t, and even knowing that it doesn’t necessarily stop you from feeling the need to live up to them or feeling shame if you’re not. So that can be a lot of weight. And that can, that doesn’t really serve anything, you know. It distracts you from what you’re already trying to do and can make it hard to see the good that you are doing. Or just to recognize that you’re doing the best you can, you know. So something to let go, to release some of those expectations, to release some of that internal friction, is really valuable. And linden can do that.

Katja (16:09):
You know, even if you are a parent of an older child or an adult child or a parent who no longer has their child, there is also this sort of pressure post-parenting around how your kids turned out. And that’s not on you, that’s on them. And I mean, okay, as parents like sure. Some of it can be on us and there are things you can do to really screw up your kids. But also, you know, you’re trying to be the best parent you can and no kid has a perfect life. So you do the best that you can. You parent with as much kindness and compassion and respect as you can. And that’s all you can do. After that, it’s up to your kids to decide what kind of people they want to be. And the decisions that they make about that are theirs. It’s not on you. And that’s very hard to let go of. It’s very hard to say, to really allow yourself to let your kid, your now-grown kid, be out in the world just being who they are. And not feel like that reflects on you as a person. Because it is their life. They are allowed to make those choices. Or if you are a parent who no longer has your child, there is a feeling of like, I failed, I did something wrong. But that has to be let go of too, because your child ultimately gets to make choices for themselves. And that isn’t about you necessarily, like children are their own people. And this I think is a complicated topic that we could spend an entire day talking about. But I want to acknowledge that it’s real, and acknowledge that it’s difficult as a parent to face these issues, and to let go of those expectations that we put on ourselves around how our kids turned out, or the things that happened to children that we don’t have anymore. And that’s another place where linden can be just so soothing and supportive.

Ryn (18:47):
So how do we work with linden? Well, there’s a few options.

Katja (18:50):
In a mug.

Ryn (18:50):
In a mug is a great one. Yeah. So yeah, we love to make linden hot infusions. So like a short steep of tea in hot water. And when you work with linden, what you’re working with is the leaves and also the flowers. And you know, the more flower you’ve got, the lighter the scent is going to be. The more kind of aromatic and uplifting and floral it will be. But the leaves and flowers together is what we tend to work with. And if you have a linden tree growing near you, the optimal time to harvest is when it’s in flower. But don’t let that stop you. I’ve chewed on linden leaves right off of the tree in many seasons and they’re delightful every time.

Katja (19:32):
Throughout the season. Yeah.

Ryn (19:35):
Yeah. So tea is fantastic with linden and you can combine it with other friends. It’s flavor on its own is nice. Some people feel it’s a little bit musty sometimes.

Katja (19:45):
Oh, I don’t know. I feel like it’s just light and floral and uplifting. I’ve never met anybody who didn’t like the flavor.

Ryn (19:54):
Well I had a couple in QA the other day, so they are out there. Yeah. But don’t worry, we have solutions for that. So try combining it with chamomile, or a little bit of lavender, or maybe some rose petals, or all of them together. And that makes a lovely cup of tea. It makes a lovely looking bag of tea as well with the rose petals in there. Maybe some calendula flowers or blue bottle flowers in there for a little bit of extra color. We say this every now and again, but I always think that I should say it more often that looking at the tea in the bag or in the jar or in your tea cup itself as it steeps, that’s part of the medicine, right? It’s nice to see those colors, especially if it’s a gift, you know? And hey, you know, any herbalist is going to be delighted if you hand them a bag full of chopped up green leaves. They’ll be like, Ooh, this is great. But if people haven’t spent a lot of time with plants, they might be more delighted if there are some, you know, shots of yellow or blue or pink coming through there. And that counts for a lot.

Katja (21:00):
Yeah. I made once an amazing elderflower and linden flower – and it was just the flowers, nothing else – honey infusion. And then I also made a tincture at the same time, and pressed them both out and combined them. And it was literally the best elixir I’ve ever made in my whole life.

Ryn (21:24):
Yeah. That was the good stuff.

New Speaker (21:26):
Yeah. I want to do that again. That was so good. Oh my God.

Ryn (21:31):
Yeah. So elixir is a really great way. And you know, we didn’t plan ahead enough to record this two weeks before mother’s day so you would have time to go out and do all of your projects and stuff. But maybe there’s an herbal apothecary near you. And maybe it’s even open right now and you could go and pick up a little bit of linden tincture. Mix that with some honey, you know, 20% honey into the mixture. That’s going to be plenty. But that will give a sweetness to the finished product that may be more delightful than just the straight tincture on its own.

Katja (22:02):
So tasty.

Ryn (22:05):
Yeah. Okay. Oh, and then there was that linden perfume you had for awhile.

Katja (22:13):
I actually still have it.

Ryn (22:14):
That was really fantastic.

Katja (22:15):
I do still have it. It is extremely fancy and I only wear it for super fancy occasions. And it’s been coronavirus, but maybe I should just get some out just for fun.

Ryn (22:29):
We should anyway. We should just like have fancy dress night and stand around and drink cocktails.

Katja (22:35):
Right, right. linden flower cocktails. Yes. Like, look, we’re having a fancy night. Yeah, I think that I should get that out. Actually. I keep it stashed away for a special, but I’m pretty sure you can still get it. I can not remember where I got it. It’s French. And actually it came from a student who I was saying whenever I walk past the linden tree, I always think, Oh, if only you could bottle that amazing fragrance and have it as perfume. And then the student found it. And actually it had been sold at whole foods at the time, and brought some to me. But then I looked up, like it had a website on it, and I looked it up and it was not hard to get or terribly costly.

Ryn (23:24):
Yeah. We’ll see if we can dig that out. Yeah.

Katja (23:27):
Yeah. But I think if you just Googled linden flower perfume, I do think it would come up. Anyway, yes.

Ryn (23:34):
Lovely stuff.

Katja (23:35):
If you have a mom who enjoys fragrances, yes.

Dandelion

Ryn (23:39):
Nice. Alright, great. So our next step is dandelion. And you may be thinking to yourself, I’m never going to give my mom dandelions because they’re weeds, and they’re too common.

Katja (23:51):
And yet, I guarantee that when you were two years old, I guarantee that you showed up to your mother with a fist full of dandelion flowers. And she loved them.

Ryn (24:01):
Yeah. There’s something very retro about that. I don’t know, maybe that’s not retro at all. Maybe that’s just like what’s the nice one? Childlike as opposed to childish.

Katja (24:15):
Right, no. Childlike.

Ryn (24:15):
Yeah. So yes, I actually think it would be great to show up at mom’s house with a handful of dandelions. You can leave them on the doorstep if you’re not allowed to go in today.

Katja (24:26):
Right, right. Not because you’re in trouble, just because of coronavirus. Yes.

Ryn (24:31):
Well, so dandelion is amazing in many ways. And one of the things that always strikes me about dandelion is that every single part of this herb has medicinal applications for humans and other species as well. But the roots are a fantastic liver medicine and support for your gut microbiome at the same time, by the way, which is really cool. The leaves are amazing for your kidneys and they’re so rich in minerals for your whole body. The flowers are uplifting, exhilarating, emotional medicine. They’re solar medicine for your spirit. And even the stems, you know. This is an old folk remedy, but those stems have some wart fighting power.

Katja (25:16):
Yeah. In the latex-y sap. Yeah, that’s a really old folk remedy. Yeah.

Ryn (25:24):
So, but dandelion, all of its different parts can touch all of our different parts in some really critical ways, and support us in a broad spectrum of activities. And it’s just a very giving flower. And its abundance is part of that. It’s irrepressible nature is a really big part of its medicine.

Katja (25:43):
Yeah. I think that nourishment is really key. That was something that was strong in my mind when we were thinking about the four plants that we wanted to plan out. Because moms get depleted, they get exhausted like all of the resources. First off, when you are developing, when you are pregnant and you are developing and growing a baby inside of you, or what will be your baby, that it is like actually physically depleting. You are using up your body. You’re using up the resources that you have stored in your body to create a new body. And that does not stop once baby is born. That just keeps going. Just constant depletion, constant using of of the mama’s resources to support and grow the kiddos. And on one hand, that’s how it should be. On the other hand we’ve got to nourish the mama. And that depletion can be really intense. And it can lead to all kinds of things from postpartum depression all the way through to, you know, it doesn’t even have to be immediately after birth. It can be much later just feeling utterly spent and then wondering what’s wrong with me? Why do I feel like this? Well, because you’re spent. That’s why. And I was thinking about how trampled dandelions are. And how much they are you know, just part of the lawn or whatever and they get run across by children playing or I’m thinking of baseball fields or, you know, whatever. They get mowed, they get all this stuff and they’re still there. And they’re still sunny yellow and they’re still producing. And that was the kind of nourishment I was really looking for, you know, in a mom-supporting way. That when you feel like you’ve been mowed and run across and trampled and whatever, that there’s still something there to put it all back again.

Ryn (28:06):
Yeah. Or even outright, just feeling like people are against you or don’t want you to be where you are or don’t think you fit there or would prefer if you would just look like all the other grass or, I don’t know what. I don’t know what people want when they’re trying to kill dandelions. Like they have, they have something in mind. I don’t know what it is, but you can’t do it. You can’t stop the dandelions. You can spray them and you can cut them and you can dig them out and whatever, but they come back.

Katja (28:30):
You know, sometimes it’s your own kids who want you to look like all the other grass. Like, why can’t you be like Susie’s mom? Like, whatever. Why do you have to be like you all the time? And really someday they will thank you for that. But I mean, or maybe they won’t, but you have to know that what you’re doing is in their best interest. And so maybe they don’t want you to stand up for them or make a scene or like do whatever. Or just I don’t want the good food. I want to just eat Doritos like everybody else or whatever the issue is. Like it’s not just always society that’s putting that on you of why aren’t you just like all the other parents, but also sometimes that’s coming from your kids.

Ryn (29:21):
Yeah. So you know that irrepressibleness, that sunniness even in the face of stomping. That’s something that dandelion can really bring in for us. And again, there’s lots of different ways to work with dandelion. You know, the, the root part is probably best either as a decoction where you cook it down for a good long time. And that’s honestly probably the single best way to work with dandelion root because it is going to get that liver stimulation and activation. Which, you know, think about that as helping you to process, helping you to metabolize, helping you to transform things that you’ve taken into your body and experienced. And we could all use some help with that. But the decoction also gets you that benefit for your gut flora, right. For your little colony of microbes that you carry within you. And so decoctions are really fantastic. A little bit bitter but that’s good for you and you can always just mix dandelion into your coffee. That’s an option that you’ve always got to fall back on there. You can work with dandelion root as a tincture also. And that does work nicely as a digestive bitter to support the liver and to get that processing going. So that’s pretty nice.

Katja (30:34):
Yeah, you don’t get as much of the inulin that way, of the microbiome supporting aspect that way. But you still definitely get the liver stimulation and sometimes, especially when you’re a mom, there’s not a lot of time. And so you can, on the go, you can squirt a tincture in, but there wasn’t time to make a decoction today or whatever. So it’s still a way that you can get dandelion root into you and that liver support into you.

Ryn (30:59):
Yeah. dandelion leaf, again, you can make tinctures of it, but we do prefer tea. We like a nice long steep tea of dandelion leaf to draw out that mineral content and the chlorophyll too. And to get all the other good stuff from there. So that’s pretty wonderful.

Katja (31:16):
I mean, you can also just eat it. You can put it in your salad.

Ryn (31:20):
You can. Yeah. Dandelion leaves in a salad are really fantastic, really good for you. And with the flowers, we like to make a tincture or an elixir or a honey infusion of the flower heads. So it’s super simple. A little jar, stuff it full of dandelion flowers. Pour some honey on there, give it a little while, a couple of weeks maybe in a warm place. And ah, the honey, it turns bright yellow and it kind of glows. And it’s just wonderful.

Katja (31:47):
Yes. And if you really want to make it fancy, then put only the yellow parts in and carefully separate out all the green, the sepals from the petals. Well, actually in the case of a dandelion, the thing that we call the petals. Dandelion is a composite flower. So, when you look at a dandelion, all yellow and pretty, the part that you’re referring to as a petal is actually one individual flower. And an uncountable number of individual flowers make up the composite flower head. And then the green part are the sepals. And the green part, that part can be a little on the bitter side. And there’s nothing wrong with that. That’s fantastic. But sometimes you’re making something fancy, and you really only want the flavor of the yellow.

Ryn (32:43):
Yeah. Like when you make dandelion wine, that’s part of the recommendation there.

Katja (32:48):
Yeah. It’s worth pulling only the yellow and removing all of the green.

Ryn (32:53):
Oh, dandelion wine. It’s so good. It’s so good. Wow.

Katja (32:57):
Yes. Dandelion mead.

Yarrow

Ryn (33:00):
All right. Let’s talk about yarrow?

Katja (33:04):
Let’s do it.

Ryn (33:05):
Yarrow, yarrow, yarrow. Yeah.

Katja (33:10):
I love what you wrote here actually. Because we were talking about it, but the way that you wrote it was just so beautiful for moms of teens, because every day is a battle. I think we’re done. I think we have described everything right there.

Ryn (33:24):
Yeah. Well yarrow, in long tradition, yarrow has been considered a warrior’s plant or a plant relative to those kinds of things. And that goes all the way back in its old names. This herb used to be called herbal militaris. And you know nosebleed was a name for it before. But its Latin name, its botanical name is Achillea millefolium. And Achillea there, is connected to the name Achilles.

Katja (33:57):
I’m just getting out.

Ryn (33:59):
Getting some, yeah. So, you know, it’s named for Achilles because he’s a famous warrior in Greek myth. And he was almost invincible. He did have that one spot…

Katja (34:11):
That one little spot

Ryn (34:13):
on the heel, there, that made him vulnerable. But one thing that’s important to remember about the Achilles myth is that it was his mother, Thetis, the Naiad, who dipped him into the river Styx and gave him his invulnerability. So you know, I’m sure that he exercised and practiced spear throwing and everything. But he had a lot of his military prowess to owe to his mom.

Katja (34:40):
That’s kind of good.

Ryn (34:41):
Good to remember.

Katja (34:42):
Yeah, I was just I was just noticing that last summer when we had our yarrow flowers in bloom, I harvested a bunch and made a fresh plant tincture. And then we moved in the fall and then it was just busy all winter and I forgot to press it out. And I’m pretty excited because I think this is the perfect activity for tomorrow would be to press out this yarrow tincture. Again, you know, yarrow is one of those, because I think that there’s not enough recognition to the fact that not everybody’s parenting experience is hugs and puppies. That for a lot of mothers, mother’s day is very difficult. And yarrow can really play such an amazing role there.

Ryn (35:38):
Yeah. You know, when we were talking about linden, we were describing a feeling of being exposed or like your skin was too thin and everything was a little more irritating or a little more sharp than you would like it. And linden helps with that kind of like soothing, coating, covering in a moist way, you know, energetically speaking. Yarrow helps with that feeling in a really different way. Yarrow helps to give you armor, right? Like Achilles, to become impenetrable, to have a thicker skin. And it’s especially helpful when things feel contentious, you know?

Katja (36:10):
So now we’re back to teenagers.

Ryn (36:13):
Right, right. Every day can be a battle, whether that’s battling for your kids, right? Standing up. Warrior mom. Or battling with your kids, because sometimes that happens.

Katja (36:22):
Or battling just to get through the day, because society has said what mother’s day should be and that’s not what it is for you. That’s a battle to you and yarrow can be with you in each one of those ways.

Ryn (36:38):
Yeah. It can help with boldness. It can help with saying, all right, I got to do this. It’s not going to be fun, but I’m geared up and ready to go. Yeah, let’s push on.

Katja (36:48):
Yeah. I can remember too that you know, my daughter was homeschooled a lot, but also went to school some as well. And I can remember parent-teacher conferences and feeling like, what am I doing here? Like, how can I be old enough for this? You know, like how? And that kind of a feeling is a great time for yarrow when you’re like, how did I get here? Aren’t I still a kid? .

Ryn (37:25):
Yeah. Nice. Lots of ways to work with yarrow again. You can make a cup of tea with it. It is a little bit on the bitter side. But it has some nice aromatics, especially the fresher it is. You know, if your plant material is really green and vibrant like we just had some awhile back from Foster Farm Botanicals.

Katja (37:43):
Oh, it’s up here actually. And it is so green. It like literally glows. It’s astoundingly green.

Ryn (37:51):
Yeah. It’s just a fantastic batch. We were really, really pleased with that.

New Speaker (37:54):
Yeah. This is a really, really good batch of yarrow. Yes.

Ryn (37:59):
Right. Well so tea is an option for sure. Short, steep, you know, you’re going to want to be inhaling while it’s steeping to breathe in the aromatics that are coming off of the yarrow. They’re really distinctive. They’re different from other plants in a kind of a special way, so that’s really nice to enjoy.

Katja (38:17):
I’m not even sure how I would describe them other than different from other plants. Yeah, definitely. They’re not like mint. I mean, maybe more in the Juniper direction.

Ryn (38:29):
They’re not like thyme or sage or rosemary. It’s closer to mugwort, maybe, you know.

Katja (38:33):
Yeah.

Ryn (38:35):
Right. well so, and those can be captured in a tincture. You know, those kinds of constituents come out happily into a sanctuary. So that’s a fine way to work with yarrow. And when we’re working with yarrow for that defensive kind of like armoring up, frequently the way to do it is just a few drops of a normal tincture of yarrow will do the job for you.

Katja (38:58):
Yeah. You know, yarrow is on the bitter side, so if you’re going to drink it as tea, having it all by itself is great, but it might not be the most delicious tea that you ever drank. It might, it might just speak right to you, but it might not be appealing for every day. And this is a place where the tincture really can come in handy, because you still get that bitter aspect and that’s important, but it’s sometimes a little easier to take with a tincture.

Ryn (39:32):
Yeah. I really enjoy yarrow tincture actually. You know, the bitterness is there, but there’s that aromatic quality. And it has that complexity and it feels active when you taste it. Yeah. It has movement. You can make an elixir out of your yarrow preparations, you know, your tincture and infused honey for sure. That’s pretty great. Infused yarrow honey would be fantastic.

Katja (39:55):
We have some very good infused yarrow honey. Actually, it’s in the kitchen, but yes.

Ryn (40:00):
But yeah, infused yarrow, honey, that’s delicious. It’s fantastic. It’s a great way to work with the medicine. It’s also amazing as a first aid remedy as a wound care. So if you’re the kind of mom who still has some scraped knees to cope with from time to time, then some yarrow infused honey could be really handy to keep on on hand.

Violet

Katja (40:21):
Excellent. Well then it’s time for violet. I have been so obsessed with violet’s lately. They’re popping up all over the place and I can’t stop taking pictures of them. It’s sort of ridiculous actually at this point. And dandelion too, like the two of them.

Ryn (40:38):
It’s the time too, though. Like our Instagram feed is full of herbalists and everybody’s got their violet photos going on.

Katja (40:46):
Yeah. Violets and dandelions are everywhere right now. Everywhere in the dirt and everywhere, all over herbal Instagram.

Ryn (40:53):
Which is wonderful. It’s lovely to see. VIolets are gorgeous. They can be purple, they can be white. They can be a mix of both of them. You had a beautiful photo today of a purple and white violet that just had these like threads of color in it. It was like somebody had dotted it with a brush.

Katja (41:10):
Yeah. It was amazing. I was like, Whoa. Yeah, it was great. Elsie, our dog, was aenduringly patient as I stopped literally at every yard. Ooh. That’s a beautiful clump of violets that I have to take a picture of. And then the next yard, Oh, that’s a beautiful clump of violets. And it was like, you know, so often Elsie wants to stop and sniff at every mailbox, post and whatever. And now like this time it’s me. Like I have to stop at every yard and take a picture of the next violet flower.

Ryn (41:45):
Yeah. Well, you know, violets actually have got some similarities to linden. You know, both of these are cooling, moistening relaxing herbs with a lot of affinity for the heart. And so there’s a lot of crossover. And we often work with them together for, again, for those cases where there’s tension in the heart, maybe especially in dry constitutional types where, you know, there’s that high blood pressure, that tension element. If we can soften, if we can soothe, if we can hydrate the body, then you know, those problems evaporate.

Katja (42:17):
Yeah. I really love a violet for those situations where you just feel like you’ve cried every tear and you can’t cry anymore and like your heart is wrung out. And that, you know, again, no matter how great your relationship with your children might be, that is still a part of parenting. And I find that violet restores the heart in those times.

Ryn (42:47):
Yeah. I’m thinking of, you know, a wilted plant that has lost integrity and has flopped over and is all limping and struggling because it doesn’t have that moisture restoration in there. Right. And that can happen for people too, you know. When we think about moistening, relaxant herbs like this, it’s often to take a tense pattern and to like soothe it and loosen it and take hard, hard places and to soften them. But sometimes when you get dried out or used up or wrung out, I think is a really great description, for too long, that can also sap your energy and make you feel limp and unable to provide or to offer to share. And in those cases, what’s needed is a restorative, moistening herb like violets.

Katja (43:34):
Yeah. You know, I had also once a very beautiful violet flower essence. And it was so helpful. And violet flower essence is really wonderful for sort of accepting things as they are, but not grimly…

Ryn (44:01):
Right. In the way of like, well, that’s the way of the world. We’d better just press on.

Katja (44:05):
Right, right. Yeah. Not like that.

Ryn (44:09):
That’s not violets.

Katja (44:09):
No. Yeah, exactly. Like accepting the way that things are as in to not put unreasonable expectations onto things. And to find contentment. And even if things didn’t turn out way you thought, or even if things didn’t go the way that you planned, that doesn’t mean that they’re ruined. And so it’s that kind of acceptance like, Oh, wait, actually as I look around, this is actually fine. That kind of of accepting of a situation. And I think that that is a wonderful gift for person raising children, because there are so many times where you have all these plans. And you think everything’s going to be a certain way. And then it did not turn out the way you thought for a multitude of reasons, because the cookies burned, because you went to a lot of effort and then it turned out that your kid wasn’t interested in that thing, because a million different things that just sort of go sideways. And having a friend who can help you say, okay, actually it’s fine. Oh, there could actually even be some good in this. That’s okay. Is pretty great.

Ryn (45:38):
Yeah. Violets can also be helpful when a mom or a mother needs a little bit of help separating from the children or from their identity their mom-ness. Right. Which I think is kind of connected to what you were just talking about? Cause you were describing a sort of detachment in some of the Buddhist senses of like it’s not removal from the world, which is the way that idea is often misinterpreted. Like, Oh, you’re just going to hold yourself at a distance from everything and not really engage. But detachments is more like, I am fully experiencing every moment. I’m just not trying to hold on to a moment that’s already gone. I’m allowing each new moment to come in and to be here now and to stay present with it.

Katja (46:27):
And maybe also then I’m not trying to drive every moment. I can just experience them.

Ryn (46:33):
Yeah. so violets can enable that. Like, okay, I don’t have to keep thinking about if I had done something differently, would they be happier today? Would they be, you know, more successful now or whatever. However that that thought goes for you. Violet can help you to just be, be where you are, be who you are in the moment. And violet can also be decadent sometimes. You know, violet is that deep, beautiful purple color. And I think that with violet, for beauty, a lot of times it comes down to that. And so there are some options here I can think of. I’m thinking about violet liquer or even a homemade violet syrup that can maintain that beautiful deep purple coloration to it.

Katja (47:21):
Yes. And it’s also so fun to do. You know, you get it all set up and then you add the lemon and then boom, it’s purple and it’s fun. It’s like really fun. So it’s delightful to all of the senses because it’s delicious, but also just delightful to look at and to watch that transformation.

Ryn (47:43):
Can you remind me briefly like the process for making violet syrup?

Katja (47:47):
Oh, you do just the same as any other syrup. But if you want to do the purple trick with the lemon, then it does have to be a sugar syrup. To be honest, I prefer violet infused in honey just because I always prefer infused in honey. But if you want to do the purple trick, then it does have to be with syrup, with simple syrup, with sugar. And so you layer that all in, you put in the violet flowers. In this case, we only want the purple part. If you’re working with violet as tea or even as food, absolutely work with the leave. They’re delicious. They’re great, they’re highly nutritious. But if we want to do this trick with the syrup, it does have to be only the purple parts. And you go ahead and make that as an infused sugar syrup, which is the same as with honey. You put all the violets in there, you put the sugar syrup on it, you wait awhile. And then after you’ve straightened out the flowers, or sometimes you just leave them in there for fun, then you put in some lemon juice and there’s a reaction that takes place. And then poof, you get the purple, like the bright purple color that happens. And it’s pretty fun.

Ryn (49:03):
Yeah. So don’t worry if you’re just at the stage of, you know, you’ve made your sugar syrup, you pour it on, you’re like, why isn’t it purple yet? Don’t worry, it’s going to happen later.

Katja (49:10):
Yeah. And sometimes it has like some purple. But when you put the lemon juice in, it becomes like, Koolaid doesn’t have a purple. But if it did, that’s the color purple it becomes. I don’t know, maybe Koolaid does have a purple and I’m just way behind the times. I don’t know.

Ryn (49:31):
Yeah. Well, once you’ve got your violet syrup or if you have just a violet liquer you pick up, there’s a couple of those out there. That’s pretty great, we find, in a cocktail based around gin. And this is all very botanical, right? Because gin is full of Juniper and Heather sometimes and lots of other cool herbs.

Katja (49:48):
Sometimes a little orange peel. Yeah.

Ryn (49:50):
Yeah. The violet syrup goes really nicely with gin. But Hey, don’t let us stop you. Do what you like.

Katja (49:57):
Yeah. It can be anything.

Ryn (49:58):
Yeah. Another thing that might be fun is to work with the violet flowers. And this could be super simple, right? I mean, you could go out today and gather a whole basket full of violet flowers and leaves and some dandelion leaves and flowers and make a nice wild salad. You know? And that’s a really wonderful way to work with these plants.

Katja (50:19):
Well, we did that for our wedding. And when we were describing it to the person who was doing the cooking, they were like, violets for salad? And we were like, yes, please. And they had never heard, I mean, I don’t know, maybe they had heard of it before, but they’d never done that before. And then they were like, wait a minute, in my mother’s yard, there’s violets everywhere. Can I just take a basket and get, and we were like, yes, yes, that’s perfect. And the person who was doing the cooking was so delighted that they were going to go and pick violets, flowers and leaves and then serve them at our wedding in salad. And it was great.

Ryn (51:02):
It came out wonderful. Another option is to make candied violet flowers, which is not as hard as you might think. So the process is like this: you’re going to separate an egg white from the yolk. And it helps if you let it like warm up to room temperature before you proceed. And then you’re going to beat it with a whisk until it’s kind of frothy. And then you’re going to take your violet flowers. They can still be on the STEM at this point. This makes it easier. And kind of like paint them with the egg white, or maybe you can dip them in, but you might have to like still spread it around with a little brush.

Katja (51:34):
Yeah, like really lightly.

Ryn (51:36):
Yeah. And then you’re going to sift or just kind of sprinkle some powdered sugar all over them. It helps if it’s actually powdered sugar rather than granulated cause it’ll just be finer and it will stick more. But you know, cover all the surfaces over. You know, like twirl it while you sift the sugar on there, right? And then put that on like wax paper or baking paper or something like that. Make sure none of the flowers are touching each other and you can put it in the fridge to dry. Depending on your climate, you may be able to just leave it, leave it out somewhere warm and dry for like 24 to 48 hours. But they will dry, they will kind of like become crystallized. And then you can snip off the stems and you can store them in an airtight container or you can just put them onto a cake right away. You can put them on cake right away. You can just eat them though. They’re fun. They kind of like crunch a little bit and then sort of melt.

Katja (52:34):
Yeah. Very melty.

Ryn (52:34):
But they’re beautiful and they make people really excited when they see a little violet flower, you know, all crystallized and perfect on top of their cupcake. They’re like, yeah, this is a fancy thing. For sure.

Katja (52:48):
Yes. In fact I definitely, definitely recommend that. And if you’re listening to this and it’s too late to do it for mother’s day. If you’re listening this and you’re not a mother that’s okay. I really think that whatever it is you are going to do for the rest of this day is nowhere near as important as to go out and pick a bunch of violet flowers and candy them. And then to make, my suggestion would be gluten-free brownies, and then to frost them and put the… Yeah. what I’m really saying is, Hey, all that work that we had scheduled for this afternoon, babe, I think isn’t going to happen.

Ryn (53:30):
Well, now you know where the best violet patches in town are. So you’ve got the map ready. All right. Well, we’ve got our plan for the rest of our day and we hope that linden, dandelion, yarrow, or violet make their way into your day and into your mother’s day and into all of your days. Because you know, these herbs are going to be good for you for the long haul.

Katja (53:53):
Yes. And whether mother’s day is a wonderful day for you. Whether it would normally be, but now it’s wrought because you’re not able to go visit your mom because the coronavirus. Or whether this day is actually very difficult for you because not all mothering ends up to be the same, lots of herby hugs.

Ryn (54:20):
Well, thank you for listening. That’s it for this week’s episode, but we’ll be back next week with another episode of the Holistic Herbalism podcast for you. Until then, take care of yourselves. Take care of each other,

Katja (54:33):
Drink some tea.

Ryn (54:34):
Drink some tea, and call your mom. Bye

Katja (54:34):
Bye bye.

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