In the first half of this series, I introduced you to Meadowsweet and White Willow, herbs that have an affinity with the water element and therefore possess a quality ideal for dealing with the heat of pain.
Cimicifuga racemosa (Black Cohosh) is another herb that is bound to the water element.
It grows in the cool, rich and moist forests of North America. Because it is not readily available, it is not ideal for our kit, but serves to illustrate the diversity of usage, found amongst water affinity herbs, when treating pain.
Black Cohosh is ideal for the modern world. I have found it a specific for occipital headaches originating in the shoulders and neck from working all day on a computer in the commercial tension caused by time and output. Like the other water affinity herbs we have looked at, Black Cohosh also contains salicylic acid. However, it is more than an analgesic. Its action as a nervine and anti-spasmodic also play a role in its success.
Black Cohosh also clears the toxins from the body that occur when a "demanding" life clouds our judgment about nutrition. A congested liver can often be the seat of many symptoms, including headaches, as unprocessed toxins circulate in the blood. This can be demonstrated by avoiding the toilet for a day. It is common to soon develop malaise and resulting headaches. It is in its capacity to positively influence the menstruation, that Black Cohosh proves useful as part of a treatment clearing toxin related pain in females.
The natural opposite of water, is fire! Like all elements, fire comes in various degrees which can range from warming and healing to altering and even destroying.
The next two herbs, Matricaria recutita (German Chamomile) and Hypericum perforatum are influenced by the fire element....more specifically, in the form of the sun.
With respect to their signature, both herbs have a cheery yellow (or partially yellow) and sun-like flower that binds them to that solar body.
In terms of our Natural First Aid kit, it is Chamomile that we are primarily interested in, Just below this text you can see the pictures of chamomile that illustrate the cone-like structure of its flowers that aid in its identification amongst similar herbs.
In my house, Chamomile was a panacea for many ills. From Colds to digestive disturbances and all the aches and pains that come with them.
Whenever I was taken to my bed, from the earliest age, my daughter knew what to do. She would come into the room and ask if she could make me a cup of chamomile tea. Drinking the tea would bring on a warmth in the stomach that would send me off into a healing sleep.
Chamomile sedates and is anti-spasmodic as well as analgesic.
The herb is quite common in the country-side. Care should be taken that it is not gathered from places where there is spraying going on in the fields. Alternatively, it is quite easy to come by in the shops. I would suggest you opt for an organic tea-bag, which is very convenient to make as an infusion.
Finally, we tend to think of pain in physical terms. However, there is also that pain caused by emotional experiences.
Depression is a cold form of pain that is well served by plants with the sun/fire affinity. Excellent examples are Lemon Balm or Chamomile, Perhaps the best known in this case is Hypericum perforatum (Saint John's Wort) seen in the final picture of the page.
Fire affinity herbs seem to have an excellent impact on the cold state of depression. Even in the range of the Bach flower remedies, Mustard is the choice for depression that comes and goes. Hypericum can also be used in such cases at a first aid level, but it is better to get to the root of the problem, which may also originate in organs such as the liver. In chronic cases It can also require other methods to alter perspective.
Herbs with a an affinity to an element can work at either extreme. On a physical level St John's wort can balance the fire of wounds and is used specifically in puncture wounds, where the pain is of a shooting nature. On the other hand, a lovely red oil made from the flowers, is used against burns. This duality illustrates the complexity of herbs and their working, and tells us that we can never totally capture their knowledge but only ever gain a sense of them...always leaving an element of mystery.
Health and Happiness
The Green Man