Myrrh is one of the oldest and most revered resins and aromatic medicines of all time. It is mentioned in Ebers Papyrus in 2000 BC, and is currently still a very valuable medicine!
This is all information learned in my Aromatherapy Practitioner course by the inimitable Jeanne Rose. This is an answer from one of the course questions.
Myrrh (commiphora molmol - Burseraceae family) - Commiphora has many different species and generally it grows in Africa especially around the Ethiopian regions. The tree is punctured and the "tears" of resin come out. These little resin balls are used in incense and is one of the oldest medicines dating as far back as 4500 BC!! It can be distilled for the essential oil and is commonly now found CO2 extracted. It is a deep rich amber brown, very viscous extract, it is not clear, and has a smoky, herbaceous, woody odor with an intensity of about 6 on a scale up to 10. Although mostly sesquiterpenes, it also contains the alcohol Bisabolol, that can be detected as a powdery back note. The sesquiterpenes are responsible for Myrrh's anti-viral properties and the Bilsabolol for its anti-inflammatory action. It is also indicated for hyperthyroidism & as a sexual sedative (anaphrodisiac) by inhalation. Jeanne also says it cools the emotions upon inhalation, we can certainly attest to this. The resinous nature plus the powerful chemical make up have proven to give Myrrh the job of fixative in the perfumery world. This means it will "hold" the scent and be the last scent left when the others have volatilized. It sticks, literally!! We read in Jeanne's books that Myrrh could be used for mouth pain and sore throats, so one day we put a PIN sized drop in our tea. Our mouth and throat was numb for 2 hours! It tasted hot and bitter.
Myrrh CO2 from Somalia is currently found in our Egyptian Body Nectar, our body creme for Winter 2014.
Summertime means all the berries!! I love berries!! Let's talk about how amazing the whole plant is and what we can do with it internally and externally. The genus Rubus consists of Blackberry, Blackcap, Boulder Raspberry, Boysenberry, Brambleberry, Cloudberry, Dewberry, Ghost Brambles, Loganberry, Raspberry, Salmonberry, Thimbleberry, Whitewashed Brambles, Wineberry. Our most commonly found Blackberry in Northern California is invasive and not native, but here to stay, the Rubus villosus. It is covering the back of my yard and I am constantly pulling it up, it is a BEAST, but I sure am LOVING eating fresh blackberries! A study in the American Journal of Nutrition said that Blackberries are the top antioxidant food, second only to Concord Grape juice. Their deep dark coloring is the give away. The fruits contain mostly malic and citric acids, which make a powerful peel when used on the skin. We are mashing this in our face masks during treatments this season for sure. Blackberry in your smoothies, in your salads, and on your face!! Believe it or not, there is also an incredibly nutritive OIL found in the SEED, we use Rubus idaeus aka Raspberry seed CO2 extract. It is a very potent, thick, dark greenish-brownish extract which contains lots of Omega 3 and 6 linoleic acids. This makes your skin extra smooth, and helps retain moisture, skin elasticity, and helps strengthen cell walls. INTERNALLY & EXTERNALLY IT DOES NOT GET ANY MORE ANTI AGING. Raspberry CO2 is found in this seasons Eraser Oil and Body Nectar. Grieves suggests putting the blackberries into malt vinegar for a few days, then strain, and boil with sugar (pound per pint of liquid). This Blackberry syrup is said to quench thirst when other beverages fail, just mix some with water! I can't wait to try this, and certainly will not leave for any adventure without it.
What do you know, the whole plant is good for diarrhea. There is a high amount of tannin found in the root bark and this is a well known cure for dysentery due to its potent astringency. The leaves are also known for having this property, as well as for being able to cure long standing ulcers. Hutchens suggests making a decoction of the root bark and leaves (non flowering); this mixture can be used freely for excessive menstruation, and is very effective in fevers and hot distempers of the body, head, eyes, and other parts. Culpeper in the 1500's wrote, "It is a plant of Venus in Aries. If any ask the reason why Venus is so prickly? Tell them it is because she is in the house of Mars." We can relate. He also says while the buds, leaves and branches are green they are great as a wash for sores in the mouth and anywhere else, including "secret parts". He says, "The berries of the flowers are a powerful remedy against the poison of the most venomous serpents. It also says the leaves boiled in lye make a black hair dye..interesting.. Sounds like we are going to make a tea of the whole plant, vinegar of the whole plant, and eat as many berries as possible and put fresh leaves and root in my daily tea. The FES Flower Essence of Blackberry is said to assist a person with: Competent manifestation in the world; clearly directed forces of will, intentional and decisive action. For the soul that has many lofty visions and desires but is unable to translate these into concrete manifestation. They give much consideration to their intentions but lack the ability to manifest & execute such goals. Their blood is often sluggish, as is the entire lower metabolism. As the light comes more to the limbs, the soul feels greater inner power to take real action in the world, & to translate what is spiritual into actual change in the world.
First of all I am so excited that my roomie just asked me for some Rosemary to take with her on a road trip. She knows [from living with me] that you can put it in your water (for flavor and cell wall strengthening) and spray it on for mental clarity and refreshment! YES! ITS WORKING some people are listening! We went into the lab and I busted out all three of my Rosemary distillates that I have done over the last year and a half. This was great because I had not smelled them side by side before!
Starting from the jug on the left in the picture:
* Rosemary officinales var. San Francisco - My friend Rabekah gave me a whole long-leaved bushes worth of cuttings in January of 2012. I distilled the flowers and leaves, it came out very camphoraceous yet crisply green, indicating most likely high amounts of Cineol. I have used this in masks for oily skin and drink it in my water for cell wall strengthening.
* Rosemary officinales var. Oakland - Over in Oakland at the Henhouse Preservation Society soon to be coolest hair salon / healing zone ever, Celia & I distilled her short-leaved Rosemary bush in March of 2012. It was less camphoraceous then the SF Rosemary distillate, but it was still very camphoraceous with more of a spicy floral back note. It is stellar to clean with, just add 2% Orange essential oil in a 12oz spritzer bottle, fill with Rosemary distillate, and you get what I call FINAL SWIPE, and I spot clean and use it as the final swipe after cleaning surfaces. Clears the grease and the air!
Rosemary officinales var. Santa Cruz - Distilled at Amy and David's place in Soquel, CA on Passover 2013 (March 26). Their bush was in full purple flower mode and it was long leaved. It came out so green, floral and citrus-like that it makes me hopeful it is due to the presence of Verbenone. Verbenone is a ketone found in some Rosemary that grows here in Northern California. This distillate is fabulous for skin care, it is found in our Rosemary Verbena Skin Tonic, one of my favorite toners ever made. It is available now!
The picture is a leaf from all five Artemisias in my garden at the moment. Starting from the bottom left up then up and over, I humbly introduce to you:
* Artemisia absinthum - Most well known due to the fact that it is used in the making of the famed spirit, Absinthe. It contains an aromatic ketone called Thujone that IF OVERUSED can be neurotoxic, it is good to note but you would REALLY have to over do it to intake that much. Note: Thujone is also responsible for the PARASITE killing properties of many Artemisias.
* Artemisia douglasiana - NATIVE to NORTHERN CALIFORNIA. It contains Matricin which converts upon distillation into Azulene, which is a beautiful deep blue color, and is a well known Anti-inflammatory agent that is now synthesized and widely used. I am in love with this plant right now.
* Artemisia ludoviciana + douglasiana + sukdorfii = SILVER SURFER. I distilled it's leaves in the practice still to see if it would be blue but it was not the right time or plant part. The scent was fresh green, herbaceous, and fruity/floral. It is about to flower, perhaps I shall repeat my experiment!
* Artemisia arborescens - Jeanne Rose has a huge bush of this in her backyard, and we have distilled it in her distillation classes she teaches in June. It came out a brilliant blue (also due to Azulene) and intensely herbaceous to smell. It has been indicated for use on skin cancers and is a very special potent medicine. This was recently planted and it is expanding already!
* Artemisia ?? - This plant was already in the yard when I moved in. The leaves are a different color and thinner than the Artemisia arborescens or the absinthum. Let us know if you know what it is (bottom right of picture).
Artemisia ludoviciana var. Nutt is the one I want to grow for distillation, it is native of northern California and the essential oil is more anti-inflammatory then Roman Chamomile!! It can be found currently in our Honey Creme Cleanser, and is often used in treatments and skin detoxes. It is definitely always in my back bar and within close reach at home.
I am a HUGE Cannabis for medicine proponent (This does not mean that I am a stoner..). Topical pain relief oils help many of my friends and clients. It is very anti everything and pro health. Infused topical oil works on the nerves allowing two way communication where pain may be caused by only one channel being open due to immune system over activity because of injury or disease. Cannabinoids accomplish this by locking into your EXISTING CANNABINOID RECEPTORS and activating all sorts of healing functions within your systems. The combination of the Infused Oil AND Hemp Oil provides incredible cell wall strengthening. Hemp Oil from the seeds of the male plant contains over 80% of your essential fatty acids that you need and cannot produce yourself. Used on skin will heal any skin disorder, ingested will nourish your body and luricate it's systems. Forget Argan Oil, HEMP OIL! I have distilled Cannabis (extracted the essential oil and floral water) and used it topically for Acneic and Oily skin, it works wonders, there are absolutely NO CANNABINOIDS in the distillate only Aromatic Terpenes which play a vital role in the plants immune system. In fact the psychoactivity only comes once you decarboxylate the existing THCa and CBDa, in their raw form they are not psychoactive at all and play a very important role in the Immune system of Cannabis sativa. ALL parts of the plant can (and should) be used. Here is todays favorite article on the benefits of juicing it: http://www.medicaljane.com/2013/01/19/cannabis-the-foundation-of-health/
The picture is a close up of the trichomes (aka the resinoid glands that hold the aromatics and the cannabinoids; aka where the "magic" happens), which are first line of defense in the plant's immune system.
This is also a prime example of how the part of a plant you take can directly correlate to the part of your body you are looking to address. Mmmm..herbal nerdy food for thought..
The Seasonal Apothecary is so happy to be working with our friends at The Big Bounce Festival in Twain, CA! Located on the beautiful Feather River surrounded by the majestic conifer forests of Redwood, Fir, Spruce, Thuja, Cedar, and Junipers; we will be distilling the grounds and bottling it for patrons to purchase as a rememberance of their wonderful time there.
Monica will be leading a class about Aromatherapy on Saturday at 3:30pm, that will cover the basics and how to use what is around us. We will have Sun Veil, Bug Spray, and Bounce in a Bottle available for purchase. Those that attend the Aromatherapy workshop will receive bounce in a bottle for free!
Picking calendulas and planting lots of other things! Much more on this to come..