Dawn comes early this time of year. The brightening sky woke me up at 5 am and encouraged me to venture out of doors with a hot cuppa coffee in hand. I ventured downhill to view Ash creek, forever curious to observe nature’s activities in the quiet stillness of the early morn. I had walked less than 100 yards from my house when I noticed s small, flowering shrub tucked in my neighbors yard. Somehow, I had missed seeing this plant in my 26 years of wandering my rural neighborhood.
It’s peculiar flowers and heady scent drew me close. “Viburnum” it said to me, speaking its name as clear as a bell in my mind. I was startled by its direct communication and openness to me, and gathered a flower and leaf to properly identify it when I returned home. I offered it a gift of tobacco in gratitude while inhaling its sweet honey-like fragrance.
Cramp bark contains several compounds found to enhance health, including ellagic acid (a chemical with antioxidant benefits). It is a natural remedy for arthritis, chronic pain, High blood pressure, inflammation, low back pain, menstrual cramps, restless leg syndrome and tension headaches. The best time for me to collect some branches for the bark will be in autumn. Duly noted…
One of my favorite herb walks is what I call my “doorstep” version. I merely walk out the door and identify as many medicinal herbs and their uses within a one block radius.
This morning proved abundant with over a dozen herbs including alfalfa (nourishing), amaranth (controls mucous, stomach irritations), choke cherry (coughs, congestion), cleavers (urinary tract and skin), dandelion (tonic and diuretic), gum plant (bladder infections), hops (sedative, tonic, antibiotic), cramp bark (nervine), wild lettuce (pain relief), pineapple weed (calming sedative), mallow and mullein (coughs and colds), honeysucke (coughs), plantain (anti-inflammatory), blackberry (tonic), Old World rose (mild astringent, diarrhea), cranesbill (astringent, excessive bleeding), and California poppy (sedative, analgesic).One really does not have to venture deep into the woods to find plants with medicinal benefits. As a matter of fact, disturbances created by humans provides ample habitat for these “weedy” species to emerge. Take a walk around your block with a good herbal identification book in hand….you never know what you will discover!