Thursday, 10 October 2013

Rootz Workshop

Valerian coming out da ground
So today we met in our community garden and got to work in the freezing cold bright sunny morning digging up roots. Its close to the new moon, just gone this last weekend, so a good time to work with roots. This time of year most of the plants have flowers and have gone to seed so all the energy is dropping back down into the earthy roots...

We focused on 4 plants; Nettle, Marshmallow, Valerian and Elecampane In pairs and three took turns working with each plant. Observing the differences and similarities between them.

Yellow Rhizomes
The Nettle is bright yellow and close to the surface of the earth as you pull on them they come away easily. 

The Elecampane was a lot more stubborn to come away and much deeper set with hues of burgundy and creamy white, Marshmallow again was extremely deep set and training along the ground, Kris joked about ‘giving birth to the root’ as he worked really hard to unearth it. The valerian had us all sat around the ground playing, teasing its millions of tiny worm-like rootlets gently away from the soil….

We brought our bounty home and Kris set to work  destroying mybathroom washing and scrubbing the Elecampane in the bath. The valerian got the kids paddling pool for a washing, the marshmallow, washed and ready first so Belle got to work chop chop chopping away. The fibrous roots were quite difficult to process in contrast to the much crisper and more similar to cutting a carrot marshmallow in fact there were a lot of similarities to carrots with that one!

I am writing this pretty ‘out of my head’ as I nibbled on a little bit of the valerian, not expecting to feel quite this hazy…. straight after chewing it I lost the power of speech! Nutty whilst you are trying to run a workshop and explain the medicinal applications of the herbs…. Luckily all the other participants were also totally valerianed up.

We made tinctures and prepared root for drying and then sat discussing and making notes about each plant.

Nettle Root – The roots of this plant are really rhizomes travelling across country in a clever fully connected network. The taste is sweet, astringent and salty. It dried all our mouths out very quickly! Reminding us of its Mars like qualities of Heating and Drying, Fire force element. Sweet gives it the potential for tonifying in deficiency conditions. Astringent allows it to contain fluids, to stop bleeding and discharge. Its salty taste points to the ability to soften hardness and dissolve deposits

Stinging nettle root is used for urination problems related to an enlarged Prostate (benign Prostate hypertrophy).

Marshmallow- We ate a piece each and soon our mouths very extremely mucousy, coated in a gelatinous type substance, it over ridding qualities cooling and moistening marshmallow root does contains a lot of mucilage, which is exactly a gooey gelatinous substance that some plants naturally produce. It acts as a demulcent, so a soothing film coats all the irritated mucus membranes, thus reducing pain and inflammation quickly. This is the primary mechanism of action, although marshmallow root also adds moisture, reduces inflammation and acts as a mild diuretic. Very useful in a massive variety of differing conditions.

one of my favourite lung herbs we ate a piece and immediately felt a bit like we were eating soap! The saponins responsible for this taste act as irritants to lung tissue provoking an expectorant action.

As well as this expectorant or bringing phelm up and out action it is also, anti-tussive (stops coughing), sedative, anti-fungal, relaxing, warming, and anti-microbial. Elecampane is extremely soothing to bronchial tube linings and is used as a specific remedy for chronic bronchitis and bronchial asthma as the root contains these amazing constituents; helenalin, helenin, and inulin, a phytochemical that coats and soothes bronchial passages and is an expectorant which helps to reduce chronic bronchitis secretions.
This wonderful herb is being used to relieve symptoms of pulmonary tuberculosis and, according to recent research on tuberculosis; Elecampane’s volatile oils stimulate circulation and the bronchi, bronchioles and nose.
There is also exciting research showing that Elecampane is active againsgt MRSA
Valerian -  Little bright white wormy rootlets, really crisp and crunchy to chop. We were all quite drawn to working and processin this one.

Valerian is used extensively for nervousness, insomnia, and muscle spasms, including menstrual cramping. Valerian, however, is not a plant well suited to all people. Rather than relieving nervousness, anxiety, and promoting restful sleep, valerian can stimulate and increase hyperactivity. Not all of us even ate a piece but the room suddenly fell silent and everyone became introspective and sleepy.

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