What’s In Your Garden: By David Winston

David Winston shares his thoughts and insights as he strolls through his garden.

Black Walnut (Fall)

“We just recently had some rain here in the Northeast. We’ve had a very dry summer and so we are very thankful for the rain, but with the rain came some fairly high winds and even some hail. In addition to the hail dropping from the sky there were also Black Walnuts (Juglans nigra). The nuts can be eaten and the green hulls are used to make medicine. Black walnuts have a long history of use especially topically and internally both as antifungal agents and as a vermifuge. Black Walnut is traditionally used for amoebic infections such as Giardia, Blastocystis hominis, Dientamoeba fragilis, Cryptosporidium. A wide range of amoebic and amoeba-like organisms can be treated using black walnut. I prefer this herb for adults; it is a bit too strong to be used in children. And for those of you who are horse lovers do not use black walnut products with your horses because it is toxic to horses. But in humans, it is relatively non-toxic although incredibly bitter and horrible tasting. The extract of the green hulls ranks it as one of my top five worst tasting plants extracts. It can also be used topically for fungal infections such as athlete’s foot and ringworm. Be very careful with fungal infection in very sensitive areas such as the groin as it can cause irritation and swelling. Phyllis Light RH(AHG), who is a wonderful herbalist from Alabama also says that Black Walnut stimulates thyroid function. This is not something I’ve used it for, but when you have somebody who is as experienced an herbalist as she, is stating that it has that activity, I have no doubt that it does. So these are a few of the things that we’re seeing around the gardens at the moment and I hope that you’ll take the time to go out in your garden and look for them and maybe take a look at and share what’s ripening in your garden and yard.”

Fennel Seed (Fall)

“Now that September is here, the weather is turning cooler on the East Coast. Even though it’s not actually autumn yet, it is it certainly feeling like it. As the days shorten we see fewer plants blooming and we see the fruits of those blooms. One of those plants is fennel with its blooms now forming their licorice flavored seeds. Fennel is a lovely plant. It has a long history of use as a spice as well as a medicinal herb. Fennel is one of the best plants that I know of for gas and intestinal rumbling. It is amazingly useful for people who have a painful abdominal bloating and flatulence. I especially like to combine it with lavender for people who have what I call terminal flatulence. Terminal flatulence of course is not terminal to the person who has it, but it is to everyone around them. So for foul-smelling gas, a combination of fennel seed and lavender flower is very effective. Breast-feeding women have long known that drinking fennel seed tea can stimulate breast milk. It also helps prevent colic in breast-fed babies. Fennel has a long history of use as a carminative for gas. It can also be used for nausea, vomiting and other types of common digestive disturbances including children’s tummy aches or dyspepsia. In Chinese medicine, fennel seed is often combined with other carminatives (spice bush, fenugreek seed) not only for digestive disturbance, but it is also used for hernia pain. So I highly recommend fennel for anybody who has these types of digestive problems. It can help relieve the pain and discomfort and ultimately help deal with some of the underlying issues causing the digestive problems.”

Lemon Balm (Summer)

“Here is a picture of Lemon Balm from my garden. Lemon Balm is a nervine with a slightly “sour&rdqup; flavor. I use it for anger management issues; it is a mood elevator. I combine it with St. John’s Wort as part of my protocol for Seasonal Affected Disorder (SAD) in late autumn into winter. It is commonly used for hyperacidity along with Meadowsweet, Licorice and Marshmallow. Topically it has anti-viral properties and is especially useful for ophthalmic and for genital herpes lesions. It is mildly anti-thyrogenic and can be used as part of a protocol to treat hyperthyroidism along with Bugleweed, Self Heal and Motherwort. Small amounts are ok if you are hypo-thyroid, but I would avoid taking large quantities of it. Lemon Balm tastes better if it is harvested before it flowers and it not only makes a lovely cup of tea but it also can be made into a delightful cordial.”

Calendula (Summer)

“Calendula is starting to bloom in my garden with its beautiful orange flowers. While calendula is a common herb very few people seem to understand the full range of its uses. Calendula can be used topically as well as orally and of course it is wonderful in a range of skin care products.”

“Calendula is probably best known as a vulnerary or wound plant and it is used in both homeopathy and herbal medicine for cuts, scratchers, scrapes, abrasions and bruises etc. It also has similar activity internally and so it can be used for inflammation, irritation and bleeding, especially of the gastric mucosa; it has benefit for conditions like gastritis, gastric leaky gut syndrome and IBS. It has the same sort of vulnerary action in the oral mucosa and so it can be used for things like gingivitis, bleeding gums.”

“In addition, and this is something that most people seem to be unaware of, internally calendula is also phenomenally effective as a lymphatic. I usually combine it with other lymphatic herbs such as Violet leaf, Red Clover, Burdock root, Echinacea for enlarged lymph nodes and, although it takes a fairly long period of time, it can also be used for things like cystic breast disease and general lymphatic stagnation. And you often see that with people who are the proverbial couch potatoes, where there’s a lack of exercise they have a tendency toward obesity, a tendency towards getting frequent colds, they probably have allergies and so for people like that calendula can be really useful especially as a tonic herb; maybe in the spring and autumn especially during allergy season because it also stabilizes the mucosal membranes reducing histamine response and so helps reduce allergic response.”

“Calendula also makes a really good gargle for sore throats, especially a combination of calendula and sage. Adding Echinacea to that combination is phenomenally effective for sore throats, strep throat and other irritations of the mucous membranes. You can also use Calendula in a neti pot for things like sinusitis, fungal sinusitis and nosebleeds. In addition to all of those things let us not forget that Calendula is traditionally used in an oil base or in an ointment base not just for wounds but for a range of skin conditions especially where the skin is flaky and dry. It also has benefit topically as a hair wash for dandruff.”

“And of course let’s not forget that those orange and sometimes yellow flowers are rich in luteine and luteine is a very effective carotenoid used to strengthen the eyes and so calendula can be used for helping to prevent diabetic retinopathy and macular degeneration and improve the eye health in general. And so this is an herb that has a multitude of uses.”

black walnut image

Black Walnut

Fennel image

Fennel Seed

Lemon Balm image

Lemon Balm

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