If you are just joining us, I would encourage you to go back to the  beginning of the series and see all the amazing herbs we have covered in the last week and a half. Go ahead. Do it. Just click

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 One of my VERY favorite times is Spring, and I cant believe we are actually experiencing it so early this year. And one of my very favorite PARTS of Spring is watching the lilacs bud, then leaf, and then burst into bloom. My mother often talks about how her first smell memory is climbing to her bedroom window as a toddler, and breathing in the lilac scented air from  the huge bush growing right outside. She used to tell us stories about having tea parties with her dolls underneath its branches, and that it was as tall as the house.

When I think of Easter, I dont think of Lilies, even though Christ is called the Lily of Heaven.

I think of Lilacs.

After all, He wore a purple sash, didn’t he, in many of the famous paintings and pictures, which is a sign of royalty? Well, when I see my bushes covered in lacy brilliant purple, and smell that breathtaking lilac scent, I think we are just getting a small glimpse of Heaven. 🙂

   Not only are they just gorgeous, smell amazing, and brighten up my day, they can be used in so many ways! There is lilac jelly, lilac sugar, and best of all, the amazing medicinal properties of lilac to consider when that bush is growing strong.

Here is a wonderful picture for those of you who love lilacs, and for those who aren’t quite sure what they look like.

 

   Lilacs are hardy and adaptable, and will grow if placed in good sunshine and where they can send roots down deep and strong. They will reward you 1000 times over for a little care, and a little pruning each year, and require you to take off the suckers that will grow around the roots, pulling vital growing nutrients away from t he main plant. I have heard you can actually re-root those suckers and get new plants, but have never tried it, so cant tell you if it really works or not.
   Obviously, one of the main uses of lilac oil is in aromatherapy, where it is unparalleled in easing tension, calming minds, and bringing calmness. Many women in bygone centuries would make sachets of lilac flowers to keep with them throughout the winter until the next bloom, and it was reputed to bring true love if those sachets were placed with the garments worn closest to your heart (aka–your undies drawer).
   Otherwise, Lilac oil was well known for bringing down fevers for malaria, and other high fevers from illness. It is also used extensively in other parts of the world for clearing out intestinal worms, because it is highly irritating to them. As a healing salve, it is well known for healing skin eruptions and wounds without leaving a scar.
   When used with a carrier oil, such as almond oil, or jojoba oil, it also helps with healing weak kidneys when used as a massage oil on the lower back. So if you, like me, suffer from kidney stones or another illness where damage has been caused to the kidneys, lilac oil is a wonderful natural healing boost to your system.
The downside of lilac is that it does not give up its healing properties easily, and it is very difficult to make perfume or oil from without a lot of work. I am just stubborn enough to want to do it on my own, but if you would rather, just purchase Lilac essential oil from a reputable place such as the ones I listed below. (so we are clear, they are just recommendations and I receive nothing if you go there and order something, other than personal satsifaction that you are trying it out). I am also listing the only web link I had written down that told you how to do your own. 🙂 Have fun and let me know which option you chose.
   Next we are going to talk about Milk Thistle, a common weed that I have battled mightily against for years until I realized just how powerful it was. Then it actually got its own patch in my garden, although it was difficult to keep it from spreading.
   For those of you blessed to be unfamiliar with it in a gardening setting, here is a picture:

 

   This very strong and virulent weed is one of the most widely recognized and accredited herbal medicine tonics that is accepted by modern medicine. It’s effect on supporting, and cleansing the liver while protecting it from serious reaction to heavy metals or other contaminants, is very well documented. It has been used in Europe for literally thousands of years specifically for this purpose, all the way back to the Romans.
   But it does more than that.
   It also contains very powerful antioxidants and scavenges those nasty little cells called free radicals that are the main cause of cancers in the human body. It is best used as a preventative in smaller doses, but when you are sick with something, THIS is the heavy duty cleaning crew you want to call in to help, and you should only take larger doses of this medicine under the oversight of a physician who is familiar with your medical history and how best to use this potent herb. It counteracts any Tylenol, so if you are sick and taking this, and then try to take Tylenol to help with pain, this herb will actually capture it and remove it from your body before it hits the liver and kidneys. How awesome is that? I mean, in a way, right? It is also good at healing damage from taking too much Tylenol for people with chronic kidney, liver and gall bladder disease.
   Even better, this common weed has shown surprising capabilities of healing damage in the livers of children who were exposed to chemotherapy due to cancers of various kinds. Just goes to remind us that we need to look beyond the package of anything to what it truly was created to do!
   The part of this plant that is used in treatments is the seeds. Milk Thistle is a biennial, or an annual that only flowers every other year. Because of its propensity to take over your garden and is almost impossible to eradicate, or contain, take it from this gardener, and just buy the seeds from a reputable organic source. Unless you have somewhere you would like to keep invaders off your property, then place it there, because no-one in their right mind is going to try to break through a patch of milk thistle just to get somewhere, no matter HOW enticing! They hurt! 🙂 Another idea would be to wear heavy protective clothing, after locating a naturalized patch, and go collect the seeds when they are ripe. Just be sure you dont track any of it back with you, because this plant can regenerate itself from a single piece of root that is only one inch by one inch.
(Can you tell how this was the bane of my gardening existence for quite a while?)
    I would encourage you to look online at places like Frontier herbs to check out the cost of a supply.
   Now let’s talk about Aloe Vera. Here is a good picture of it for you:
   Now this is a plant I actually have a good story about, and it is one from my childhood.
    Before you ask, NO I did not steal any of it
from my neighbor’s flower garden.
Thanks.
 I see how you are.
   I remember this rather ugly plant as one of my mother’s favorite, and one of her proudest treasures that grew in our windowsill in the mountains. Right next to the weird statue of an ugly little guy in a running suit hanging onto a fridge for dear life. Funny the things you remember from being a kid.
    I always thought she just had this weird attraction to it, the plant I mean, until the day came where I got myself in some serious trouble, and needed to use it.
    I was about ten at the time (what can I say, it was a rough year for me), and since we lived very high up in the mountains, it was a rare time of year when you could actually go swimming without freezing certain parts of your body off for  a while. Also, the nearest lake, which was of course, ice-pack fed *mountain ice pack for those of you who have no idea what that is*, was a couple miles out of town, and we just didn’t get out there often. It was a gorgeous summer day, and we went as a family. I had on a swimming suit (of course), played in the water, and then, tuckered out, fell asleep on my stomach in the sand on the beach.
   Now, if this was a normal place, like Minnesota, no big deal, right?
    But it wasn’t. It was at 10,000 feet elevation, where the atmosphere is thinner, where sun rays are more intense, and for a very fair skinned child with red blonde hair, well, the water droplets on my back concentrated to cause great blisters and a terrible sunburn. I was in so much pain I could not even lean against the back of the car seat to get home, and I spent three days on my stomach while the blisters just grew bigger and bigger on my back until they burst.
   Gross, I know. TMI, I know. However, I am telling you this NOT to relive that horrible time in my life, but to make myself a very real, living, breathing person who has seen firsthand how AMAZING this herb is at healing the human body inside and out. Once the blisters had started to heal over again, I can remember my mother’s cool, calm hands breaking one leaf at a time off of her prized plant, squeezing out the gel, and smoothing it over my back. I can remember the instant relief, the secondary notice of the dulling of the pain, and somehow, in my mind, I remember thinking she had magic in her hands.
   It was in the plant, too.
   Aloe Vera is renowned for its ability to calm and to heal.
   It has unique cells which, when used to bond to wounds on the human body, interact with our chemistry and makeup to rebuild cells from the inside out and stimulate our body’s ability to heal at a quicker rate. Anything that would need healing on human skin can be helped by an application of aloe vera gel. How about acne? Athlete’s foot? Scars? Shingles? Herpes? Alopecia (hair loss–stress related, not the genetic kind as far as I know). Ringworm, fungal infections, you name it, this gel will help heal it.
   And now, lets talk about using it internally. This herb has remarkable properties for stimulating your immune system. SO MUCH SO that it is being used on the forefront of studies with AIDS patients who have seen an enormous response across the board in reduction of symptoms after using it.
   And all from a little, abnormal looking houseplant.
   Isn’t God good in creating things that we would tend to overlook, and yet can be some of the the most powerful things known to mankind? I have included a link at the bottom of this post for those of you who are interested in harvesting your own aloe vera gel from your plants. I had this series in mind when I saw it featured on another blog, and just had to include the link for those of you who are determined to do things yourself. 🙂 This gel tastes horrible, so often it is paired with other herbs in an attempt to make it easier for others to get it down. I personally have found that there are a couple brands on the market that make Aloe Vera juice that is not bad tasting, so try a few and see which ones you like the best. I have moderate Fibromyalgia, and have found Aloe Vera juice to be a big help in having less flare ups with continuous use over time.If you have some sort of auto-immune disorder, then you should certainly try it and see if it helps you as well. It is also good for the less serious things we all deal with, such as heartburn, or indigestion, and yet packs a huge punch when dealing with balancing the blood sugar of a diabetic patient or someone with chronic ulcers or Crohn’s disease. If you use digitalis or any type of heart medication, then aloe vera is most likely not for you as it can counteract and nullify that medicine. If you are pregnant, stay away from it as it is well known to cause uterine contractions in some women.
   Aloe Vera is most commonly grown as a house plant unless you live in a very hot climate in the lowest US states. It loves sunshine, dry soil, and the more you harvest, the more it will grow.
We were able to celebrate 100 members over on the Welcoming House FaceBook Page last night, and it was so much fun! I am looking forward to our giveaway here over the Easter weekend, and hope you stay tuned in for it. Someone is going to get a gift certificate to
Baker’s Creek Heirloom Seeds!!
to start their own herb garden! After all the fun we had last night, I just cant wait!
If you haven’t checked out our FaceBook page, you really should. Just click ((HERE))

Many Blessings to you and yours,
Heather

Make your own essential oils (including lilac oil instructions) :
 Make your own Aloe Vera Gel:
More links on Lilac:
More links on Milk Thistle:
More links on Aloe Vera: