published February 2017
No Such Thing As A Weed: Herbs for Aging Gracefully–Part 2
by Dorje Root, RH (AHG)
Matters of the Heart. There is nothing more important when talking about aging than heart health. There are many herbs that affect the heart, and three gentle ones in particular that I’d like to talk about.
Hawthorn (Crataegus spp.) is probably the most well known heart tonic that we have. Not an emergency remedy for when the heart is suddenly in trouble, Hawthorn’s magic is in slowly strengthening the heart over time. It’s a great herb to take on a daily basis for anyone over 40. Hawthorn has been used to reduce high blood pressure, relieve anxiety, and benefit pretty much any heart condition. Hawthorn is in the Rose family, the same as apple. Hawthorn grows as a small tree or bush that blooms in the spring and is characterized by long “thorns” on the branches. The part used is the white flowers and young leaves in the spring, and the red berries in the fall. Tinctures are often made with the combination of all three parts. Hawthorn is completely water soluble and so is perfect as an infusion (if the dried berries are ground).
Linden (Tilia europa) is another beautiful heart tonic. The flowers and inner leaf or bract are the parts used. Linden trees bloom in early summer, filling neighborhoods with a strong fragrance. Interestingly, both Hawthorn and Linden are also considered to be “relaxing nervines”, herbs that soothe the nerves and relax stress.
One of my favorite herbs is Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca). Motherwort is not only a heart tonic herb but, like the other two, is also a nervine. It’s in the mint family, but is much more bitter than other mints, so is not really suitable as an infusion or tea. Better taken as a tincture. Motherwort has been used to calm heart palpitations. One afternoon I was leading an herb walk up a rather steep mountain trail and started to have heart palpitations. Luckily, I remembered that this particular class had had an herb walk that morning in an area where Motherwort grew. I asked if anyone had taken a sample, and one generous student untaped her sample leaf from her notes and offered it to me. I ate the leaf and was fine for the rest of the walk. Motherwort grows near the creeks in Crestone and in many gardens.
Here’s to keeping our Elders healthy enough to be able to thrive at our sometimes difficult altitude!
Dorje Root, RH (AHG) is an herbalist and natural healer, also working with Plant Spirit Medicine, Intuitive Energy Healing and ‘The Journey’ cellular healing. For an appointment call 719-937-7786 or visit www.rootsofhealing.com