Memorial Day marked the unofficial start of the summer season. Summer ignites the fire element. The warmth of fire has the power to bring us out of the contraction of the cold dark winter into a state of expansion and joy. We have more energy to accomplish our tasks and more hours of light within which to accomplish them.
Fire is known for its dynamism, transformation and passion, but also gives us the capacity to feel joy, compassion, empathy as well as deep sadness, because only a strong heart can truly feel deep sadness. If we turn again to the natural world, we find nature’s herbal antidotes to the heat of summer.
As we discussed in our recent spring post, one of the first plants that shows up and blooms in our area is violet. Violet is an anti-inflammatory and is particularly helpful for inflammation of the respiratory system, like bronchitis, as well as skin conditions, such as eczema. Violet cools fire by acting as a demulcent which soothes and calms any surface areas that may be irritated or inflamed.
Stellaria Media, or Chickweed, another herb which showed up in the spring and is unfortunately on it’s way out, is also a cooling demulcent, anti-inflammatory and vulnerary (wound healer). Chickweed pacifies the fire in the joints as an anti rheumatic and reduces itching on the skin.
Another beauty that has just started to bloom in Virginia, Calendula officinalis, heralds the bright, vibrant, fiery energy of summer with it’s stunning saffron flowers. But even with this fiery exterior, calendula actually cools tissues which are inflamed both internally and externally. A vulnerary, that is specific for the skin, this useful plant is applied topically as a poultice or salve onto any tissue which is red, tender and oozing. It heals burns, bruises, and sprains, decreases swelling, clears infection, speeds tissue regeneration, and prevents scarring.
Internally, Calendula is specific to the digestive and lymphatic systems. Calendula raises immunity by stimulating lymphatic drainage. The lymph is an essential part of the immune system, filtering and eliminating waste products and bacteria as well as producing infection-fighting cells. Calendula is also a powerful anti-microbial and anti-viral.