Friday, September 24, 2010

The Witches Medicine Cabinet

I Copied this from WITCHY WISDOM (my favorite haunt)

~The Witches Medicine Cabinet~


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As witches we should have a stock of medicines and remedies or recipes for such in our first-aid cabinet. Many every day aches, pains and illnesses can be treated effectively at home.

Herbs have been used for food and healing, by all cultures, for thousands of years. Many of the common culinary herbs are rich in vitamins, minerals and trace elements and are recognised as being beneficial to good health. For example, garlic is a natural antibiotic, parsley is rich in vitamin C and iron, mint aids digestion. The most natural way to benefit from these herbs is to include them regularly in a balanced diet.

Many minor ailments can be safely treated at home, using wild or cultivated herbs. However, many herbs have extremely potent properties and it is vital that you correctly identify and fully understand the properties of a plant before using it.

The first thing to assess when looking at your own natural first aid kit is which conditions benefit from a simple natural treatment and which situations need more urgent attention. Obviously, if you have a broken bone, a laceration that requires stitches, a puncture wound or other symptoms that require professional help you must seek it.

There are, however, many excellent herbal and other natural preparations that should be in your first aid kit, e.g. Echinacea tincture, a tincture of yarrow, calendula cream or ointment, a topical horse chestnut extract product (in a gel or cream formula), arnica tincture or ointment for bruises, a few simple herbal teas, such as peppermint and chamomile, and a combination herbal salve for minor bites and scrapes. Also, keep Bach Rescue Remedy in your first-aid kit, along with a good muscle balm and a chest rub.

However... If in any doubt about the safety of the herb DO NOT USE IT!Essentials

Echinacea - for any kind of cut or minor wound. Echinacea speeds healing by preventing infection and developing new tissue at the site of a wound.

Yarrow - to stop bleeding It also acts as a local anesthetic. The oil is anti-..inflammatory and stimulates the formation of healing wound tissue. Closes wounds quickly, therefore make sure the wound is clean before applying.

Calendula - to soothe the skin and accelerate healing. To treat minor burns and scrapes. It has antiseptic, anti-..inflammatory, astringent and immune-..stimulating properties. Good for taking the discomfort out of excema.

Horse chestnut - for bruises or sprains, reducing pain, bruising, and swelling of sprains and sports injuries. Diminishes the number of tiny openings in capillary walls, which helps to "seal" the outflow of fluid surrounding tissue.

A good general herbal salve - including comfrey, chickweed, Echinacea, calendula, goldenseal, plantain, essential oils, and a host of other herbs.

Bach Rescue Remedy - combining star of Bethlehem, rock rose, impatiens, cherry plum and clematis flower essences. The flower remedies work on a mind-body level, centred around life force energyIt is harmless and could help in many stressful situations.

Peppermint tea - for any mild upset stomach or nausea.

Chamomile tea - to calm an upset stomach and help children fall asleep. To soothe irritation in the gastrointestina..l tract. An excellent anti-..inflammatory.

Slippery elm - a teaspoonful in a cup of hot water, stirred vigorously, is an excellent beverage when recovering from the flu or when the stomach is unable to hold down any other food. It's also used in lozenges to soothe a sore throat.

Muscle balms and chest rubs - including ingredients such as camphor, menthol, peppermint oil, cinnamon oil, clove oil or other essential oils that will penetrate and help relax muscles. Also helps to relieve chest congestion.

Aloe Vera Gel
Use fresh gel from the plant or f you have to buy the most pure gel you can find, the Lilly of the Desert brand is good. Aloe Vera is invaluable for treating burns, sunburn, inflamed skin, rashes and acne. It also makes an excellent toning, anti aging moisturizer. However if you have an aloe vera plant you can cut a piece of the plant and squeeze the gel inside straight onto the above wounds.

Arnica Cream/..Gel/..Ointment/..Infused Oil
Excellent for applying to bruises (where there is no broken skin), mild sprains and aching muscles. Can't stress enough how good arnica is for preventing bruising...it can be amazing!

Echinacea Tincture
Available in both adult and children’s versions, echinacea is an essential herb to help the body to fight off any infection. Use as instructed, continuing for a week or two after infection subsides.

Lavender Oil
Anti bacterial, anti-..inflammatory oil good for calming inflammation and helping to induce relaxation.

Myrrh Powder
Anti-bacterial and anti-fungal powder, which can be can be dusted onto wounds, abscesses, ulcers and boils. Can be held in the mouth but not swallowed.

Tea Tree Oil
One of the best anti-fungals with antiseptic action too. Use diluted on sensitive skin or young children, otherwise use neat.

Tiger Balm
Available in white (cooling) or Red (warming). The red can stain clothes so beware! Excellent as a rub for aching muscles, cooling down insect bites and soothing headaches.

Grafefruit Seed Extract

Good for fungal infections especially thrush and candida...Ingredients

10 drops essential oil of peppermint

10 drops essential oil of eucalyptus

5 drops essential oil of clove

60 ml extra-virgin olive oil or coconut oil

15 g beeswax

Heat olive oil and beeswax in a double-boiler over low heat. Stir until wax is melted. Remove from heat. Stir in essential oils, and pour into small glass or metal containers to cool. Preparing Herbal Remedies

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To get the maximum benefit from herbal remedies they must be properly prepared. Women of childbearing age should always make sure the herbs they are using are safe during pregnancy. Also how they affect children can be different to how they affect adults so make sure you follow any instructions to the letter.

But don't let this be too scary.....herbalism is a very important part of the craft. Here are some standard herbal preparations:

Infusions

A standard infusion is prepared by adding 1 to 2 teaspoons of dried herb (or 2 to 4 teaspoons of fresh herb) to a cup of boiling water. Infuse for 10 minutes before straining. If the herb is left too long, the infusion will become bitter. It's best to use a ceramic pot with a lid.

The standard dosage is one cup three times a day. It may be taken hot or cold, but infusions prepared for colds and flu should be taken hot. Never prepare the infusion more than 24 hours in advance.

Decoctions

This is usually the method of choice for bark and seeds. Use 1 to 2 teaspoons of herb per cup of cold water. Bring the mixture gently to a boil. Keeping covered, simmer for about 10 minutes.

The usual dosage is 1 cup three times a day. If the herb is very bitter or strong, use 4 teaspoons three times a day. Prepare no more than 24 hours in advance.

Tinctures

A tincture is an alcoholic extraction of a herb. Alcohol dissolves the active constituents out of the plant matter and acts as a preservative, allowing the tincture to retain its effectiveness for up to 2 years. Any part of the plant may be used.

Place 4 ounces of dried herb in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid and add 2 cups vodka. Leave for two weeks, shaking occasionally, then strain through a cloth into a brown glass bottle. Keep tightly closed.

The standard dosage is up to 8 drops three times daily.

Herbal Wine

Use a sweet red wine with an alcohol content of at least 12%. Cover four ounces of herb with three cups of wine. Leave for a week before straining.

Take four teaspoons one or two times daily. Herbal wine is best used within a month.

Syrup

Sugar is a good preservative and is ideal for cough mixtures, especially since some herbs for cough are very bitter.

Prepare two cups of an infusion or decoction of the required herb. Strain and add 1¾ cup brown sugar or a honey and sugar mixture. Heat gently until the sugar dissolves. Pour into a clean glass bottle and seal. Store in the refrigerator.

The standard dosage is 1-2 teaspoons three times a day.

Capsules

Dry, powdered herb can be placed inside empty capsules. This method is preferred by some people who cannot tolerate bitter herbs.

Oil Infusion

Oil infusions are for external use only. They can be prepared by hot or cold methods. For the hot method, fill a jar with fresh herb and cover with olive, sunflower or almond oil. Place the jar up to the neck in a saucepan of water and bring to a medium temperature. Simmer for up to three hours. Strain through filter paper or cloth into a brown glass bottle. Follow the same instructions for the cold method, except that the oil should be placed on a sunny windowsill instead of heated. The process can be repeated with the strained oil infusion and a fresh supply of herbs to make a stronger oil.

Cream

A cream is a blend of oil, beeswax/cocoa butter and water. You can make your own, or purchase an unscented, water based cream. After adding herb to purchased cream, simmer in the top of a double boiler for 30 minutes. Strain before it cools.

Melt two ounces beeswax in a double boiler. Add one cup olive or other vegetable oil and blend. Add two ounces herb. For lighter cream, add a little water, mixing well. Simmer 20 minutes, mixing well. Add a drop of tincture of benzoin as a preservative. Strain thorough a cloth in to sterilized jars.

Ointment

Ointment does not penetrate the skin like cream, but covers and protects it. Petroleum jelly is a good base, and the method is the same as for a cream.

Melt petroleum jelly in a double boiler and add plenty of herbs, making sure that the melted petroleum jelly covers the herb. Simmer until the herbs are crisp. More herb may be added to make a stronger ointment. Strain into jars while hot.

Suppositories

These are best made in advance so they will be ready when needed. Blend equal quantities of powdered herbs with cocoa butter. Place the mixture into bullet-shaped molds made of foil and refrigerate. Remove the foil before use.

Compress

Soak a cloth in a hot decoction of herb, squeeze most of the liquid out and apply the hot cloth to the affected area. Once it has cooled, repeat the process. Tinctures of other herbs and essential oils can be added to the liquid.

Poultice

Poultices are effective for boils, abscesses, chest infections and sprains. Mix chopped herb or powdered seeds with boiling water to make a pulp. Place the pulp in a piece of cloth and apply to the affected area while hot. It should be replaced when cool. A thin layer of calendula cream will protect the skin and prevent the poultice from sticking.

Steam and Inhalant

Use steam for skin problems like acne and an inhalant for bronchial problems like sunusitis and laryngitis. Add a strong decoction, one or two drops of essential oils, or 2 teaspoons of tincture to boiling water. Add salt if the chest is congested.Bach Flower Remedies

Each of the 38 remedies discovered by Dr Bach is directed at a particular characteristic or emotional state. To select the remedies you need you only need to think about the sort of person you are and the way you are feeling. Then you take the remedies you need.

There is also a combination remedy called rescue remedy ...is the most famous of the remedies, but in fact is not a remedy at all, but rather a mix of five different remedies (Cherry Plum, Clematis, Impatiens, Rock Rose and Star of Bethlehem) which together help deal with any emergency or stressful event. Taking a driving test, exam nerves, speaking in public, after an accident or an argument - there are countless uses for Rescue Remedy.

In an emergency Rescue Remedy can be taken neat from the bottle, four drops at a time, and as frequently as required. Otherwise put four drops in a glass of water and take frequent sips until the emotions have calmed.Witch Heal Thyself.

I’m not sure who first said, ‘witch, heal thyself’, but it is something that you will hear repeated a lot in witchy circles. It is generally said as a reminder that we all have the capability to heal ourselves just as well if not better, than we can heal other people. While it can be about mixing the right herbs or burning the right aromatherapy oils, it is more often about using the power of our minds and our connection with the divine and natural energy around us, to channel inwards.

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If someone was to ask your help in sending energy to them, towards a specific emotional state or ailment, you would have the tools in your Book of Shadows now to be able to do that. Everything that you could do for them, you could do for yourself. Of course, it’s much easier to be objective about other people’s troubles,..whereas you have to fight through your own feelings and narrow perspective in order to do the same for yourself; but you have that emotional core to fuel the energy and you have more information about the root of the trouble.

Once it connects, therefore, it can be the most powerful energy work you will ever do. There is a certain amount of self-..sufficiency built into Wicca. We all become priests/..priestesses, then high priests/..priestesses; and the solitary practitioner is increasingly common.

This isn’t to say that Wiccans shouldn’t ask for help, when the need is great enough, but that eyebrows would be raised if it was aid given for something that could easily have been sorted out for oneself, if knowledge of their craft was adequate. We are all human beings and there will be times when the ways ahead appear so swampy that something seemingly massive might otherwise have been brushed off as insignificant.

Wicca does not ask that we become superhuman merely that we try to sort ourselves out before it gets that far. We all know – or should know – by now that emotion fuels the energy around us. If we constantly darken that energy with negative thoughts and pessimism about the future then we shouldn’t be surprised when the world rearranges itself to fit our thoughts. If you were sending out love and light into the world you would focus on everything being calm and lovely creating that aura within and without you, then you would send it out.

Now reverse that. Imagine yourself worrying over every little detail and deciding that the worst will happen. What are you doing to the energy around you? All of this, I believe, is the true basis of Wicca, once you understand that, as you evidently do, then all spellwork can be built upon it and all your day to day living too.Positive thinking does not have to be unrealistic. There is a school of thought that says that you can focus and think your way into attracting lottery wins and gorgeous lovers, but what I’ve been referring to are more mundane things.

If you find yourself speculating that something bad is going to happen, then simply tell yourself that it’s speculation and you can’t possibly know yet; that there is as much a chance that everything will go right than it might go wrong. Unless you are really worried, check with yourt divinatory tool.

Let it go.

Energy aside, people often take their cues from your body language. If you relax, then they might too. The language that you use might be significant. For example, if you are struggling to pay your bills, then focussing on ‘debt, debt, destitution, debt’ are inviting these things into your lives.

Instead, focus on ‘change of fortune, way forward through these times’ etc. Think about what you are saying in your mind and throughout your emotional statejust as hard as you consider the words for your chants. You are leaking energy and fuelling it with your will. These things are the basis of a spell.

Sometimes, however, things happen too quickly and too emotionally to cope with schooling your thoughts in that way. Often we can call friends and family for help, but if things are happening too fast then it might be deity on the other end of the SOS.

As Wiccans, it is useful to do your homework beforehand, just in case an emergency situation requires the same sort of screaming for Mother or Father as you might have done as a baby, only this time in the divine sense. You can give thanks later. If it happens that you don’t know which deity to invoke, then that isn’t cause for panic.Just call upon the Lord and Lady, the right aspect will come and you can determine later on who that might have been

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My Herbal Medicine CabinetI use many different herbs and oils for home remedies. Paul is one of those allergic people who is very sensitive to artificial ingredients and I have to search quite hard to find things that doesn't upset his asthma or excema.

I keep lavender, eucalyptus and tea tree oils in my cabinet. They can be used neat onto the skin unlike some oils and are excellent for many different things.

Lavender - I use for spots, cuts and any broken skin because it helps to rebalance the skin and prevents scarring. Also good for insomnia.

Tea tree - Head lice (urgh), athletes foot, put in the hair to stop gnats and midgies biting, also as an antiseptic.

Aloe vera - For burns, scalds and sunburn.I use a bought prepartion gel even though I have the plant because the smell is not nice. I once stood on my hair tongs in bare feet and the pain was horrific but thanks to aloe vera I didn't have a single scar or mark.

Arnica - Is wonderful! It takes away swellings and bruisings almost over night. Before I found arnica my legs would be covered with bruises from the steroids but I can put arnica on and now have bruise free legs. It is also amazingly good for arthritis. I keep the flowers and make a bath tea for a soak they really help with aches and pains. I use a muslin cloth tied with wool and hang it in the bath.

Peppermint - a tea made from peppermint is is really good for indigestion and upset stomaches.

Mennuca oil - is one of the best anti-itch oils I have ever found, brilliant for dermatitis and excema.

Cloves - toothache also clove oil is good for mouth ulcers.

Callendula (marigolds) - heals broken skin beautifully we keep it for Paul's excema. Use a small handful of marigold flowers, about half a pint of hot water steep and use to wash the broken skin, helps healing and prevents scarring. I also have a bought jar of callendula gel.

Eucalyptus Oil - As a steam inhalant. Really clears the nose ..strong though so only use a drop or two at most.

Eyebright - Use a teaspoon of eyebright and pour on hotwater to make a tea, strain with a tea strainer and allow to cool. Once cool bathe the eyes either with an eye bath or if the eyes are just strained and tired use a cotton ball and leave on like a compress. I particularly like it chilled cos it is lovely and refreshing on sore eyes. But must be used up within a day or two, even if kept in the fridge.

A cold remedy I use - a little fresh ginger about half an inch-ish, a broken stick of cinnamon, 4 cloves, some lemon slices or a teaspoon of lemon juice, some honey to taste. Simmer in a pint of water for 15 minutes with the lid on drink a cup three or four times a day.

A sore throat gargle - 3 tsp cider vinegar, 1 tsp honey, a small handful of sage leaves. Make a tea with the sage then strain and add the vinegar and honey, gargle 3 times a day.

As you can see using herbs for healing is a huge subject, it is worth getting yourself a good herbalism book to help you. This does not necessarily be by a magickal practioner. We will cover the magickal use of herbs next week...Conditions Which May be Treatable with Herbs:

The following is a list of conditions and/or diseases that often can be prevented or treated by the actions of herbs. Frequently, herbs are used in combination within various formulas. The formulas are not listed, but include names of major herbs that provide benefits for the conditions noted.

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Alcohol Abuse: Milk Thistle (Silymarin), Kudzu

Anxiety: Valerian, Passion Flower

Arthritis: Devil's Claw, Boswellia, Evening Primrose Oil

Blood Pressure: Garlic, Hawthorn

Cholesterol (High): Garlic, Gugulipid

Circulation (Poor): Ginkgo biloba, Garlic, Cayenne, Hawthorn

Colds/Flu: Echinacea, Astragalus, Garlic, Goldenseal Root

Constipation: Aloe, Cascara sagrada, Senna, Psyllium

Coughs: Licorice, Wild Cherry Bark, Thyme

Depression (Mild): St. John's Wort, Valerian

Detoxification:.. Milk Thistle (Silymarin)

Digestion (Poor): Chamomile, Peppermint, Ginger

Fatigue: Panax Ginseng, Eleuthero (Siberian Ginseng)

Hemorrhoids: Horse Chestnut, Witch Hazel (topical)

Insomnia: Valerian, Passion Flower, Hops, Lemon Balm

Liver Dysfunction: Milk Thistle (Silymarin)

Memory Loss: Ginkgo biloba

Migraine Headache: Feverfew

Menstrual Irregularities/..PMS: Dong Quai, Vitex agnus-castus, Evening Primrose Oil

Nausea: Ginger, Chamomile, Peppermint

Prostate Enlargement (Benign): Saw Palmetto, Pygeum africanum, Stinging Nettle Root

Skin Conditions: Calendula, Chamomile (topical), Tea Tree Oil (topical)

Stress/..Tension: Valerian, Passion Flower, Kava Kava, Eleuthero (Siberian Ginseng)

Ulcers: Licorice, Aloe juice

Urinary Tract Problems: Cranberry, Uva Ursi

Varicose Veins: Horse Chestnut, Bilbery, Witch Hazel (topical)
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