With the coming indulgences, for many, of the Christmas season, and the celebration of the New Year, I thought it appropriate to touch on Heart Burn and Indigestion. By dealing with this subject now, it leaves you plenty of time to stock- up on this natural remedy. Certainly, if this is an on-going problem associated with your eating habits, you would be better advised to consider changing those habits in the long term. Chronic digestive discomfort can also be a symptom of other, more serious, gastric conditions and should not be allowed to go on unattended. You would be best advised to seek proper medical advice rather than just mask the symptoms.
For me, there are few herbs that can compete with Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria) when it comes to dealing with acid imbalances of the digestive system. It is extremely effective and extremely available. The availability of Meadowsweet echoes my earlier comments with respect to the abundance of certain herbs, as offered to us by nature, as reflecting the degree of need. In the past instance I was referring to the vast availability of Nettles and Clivers as a means of dealing with accumulated acids in our body after the long winter period. In this case, it is evident that abundance has again been deemed essential in dealing with excesses of acid due to our commonly poor eating habits.
Meadowsweet offers an excellent example of where a plant's environment has influenced the energetics of its constitution.
In this instance, Meadowsweet is greatly influenced by the water element. It grows in damp meadows (even in those that are lightly flooded, albeit temporarily). In this sense it has much in common with Willow and Birch, two trees that are also affected by the water element, as reflected in their medicinal action. In this example, the burning acid condition is cooled and extinguished by the action of the plant constituents that have been encouraged to develop in the plant by the water element associated with its host environment. In this case, salicylic acid and salicin are just two examples.
In many of the texts written by Witches, Meadowsweet is often presented as being governed by the wind element. Looking at its tall stalks and wispy cream flowers, it gives a good indication where the inspiration for this association comes from. It also underscores how essential it is to understand this element as "wind" rather than "air", because it is the nature of the wind element, and how its behaviour affects our bodies, rather than the simple, inert, presence of air that best illuminates our understanding of this association. Since wind can play a role in digestive upsets, it makes Meadowsweet doubly significant as a digestive remedy.
Meadowsweet can be harvested once the flowering begins. I like to harvest all the aerial parts although, as with Yarrow, some herbalists like to concentrate on the flowers only.
Once again, before you begin to harvest, it is important to identify the correct plant.
The first three pictures above (from the top downwards) are those of Meadowsweet. The fourth picture is that of Agrimony (Agrimonia eupatoria), while the last picture is that of Silverweed (Potentilla anserina). If you look closely, I think you can appreciate that the similar smaller leaves situated between the larger leaves of all three plants could cause some confusion if the whole plant is not scrutinised fully before harvesting. However, the flowers of all three plants are distinctly different. Meadowsweet leaves, when crushed, give off, what I describe as, a sweet aspirin-like aroma that is very unique to this plant. In fact, I have been able to discover patches of Meadowsweet by the scent released from, unknowingly, treading on the first leaves to appear early in the season.
Meadowsweet can be taken fresh or dried in the form of an infusion (tea). Alternatively, you can grind and sieve the dried herb into a powder that can be made into capsules, which would be far more convenient for use in a Natural First Aid kit.
As an infusion of dried herb I would mix 1- 2 tsps to a cup of boiled water, covered for 15 minutes ( it is always better to start out with a smaller amount and increase if necessary). Take three cups a day.
Alternatively, I would take a couple of size "O" capsules (350-500mg) with water, and see if they improve the condition. Capsules can be obtained on line from suppliers.
The advantage of Meadowsweet over pharmaceutical ant-acids, is it can actually work to improve the underlying condition rather than just mask the resulting symptoms. Additionally, unlike its chemical derivative aspirin (which actually derived its name from the earlier botanical name for Meadowsweet, "Spiraea" ulmaria) the herb actually has a positive influence on ulcers rather than causing them, as aspirin does.
Meadowsweet also functions as a "hepatic", meaning it has a positive influence on the liver, which can often be the source of digestive troubles such as indigestion.
Finally, Meadowsweet has a calming influence on diarrhoea and could be combined with the Viburnum of my earlier post, when necessary, to bring further relief in this condition.
There is much more that could be said about this wonderful herb (one of my favourites) but this is sufficient for the purpose of our kit.
Health and Happiness
The Green Man