The healing powers of Hibiscus*

Believe it or not the hibiscus flower (family malvaceae or mallow family) is a very beneficial plant in aiding in maintenence of health and healing of blood-pressure/heart and body temperature-related maladies. With over 100 different species, you can take your pick! Hibiscus is a tropical/sub-tropical plant, ranging from Asia all the way to where we usually think of it: Hawaii. I love my hibiscus plant, and I’m here in sunny FL, so it grows just fine 🙂

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The malvacaea family with its ranging 100+ different species of beautiful blooms originate from Angola, and contribute many healthful benefits including moderation of body temperature, just to name one. Gaia Herbs  gives a great easy-to-read list of common uses of this wonderful and gorgeous plant ranging from Egypt and parts of Africa all the way to Europe and here in the U.S.–*a note be said here on its usage in the U.S.: we do not practice traditional herbal medicine as a traditional way of healing, rather we rely heavily on modern medicine, but I included the note on the U.S. because it is easy to grow here in FL and other tropical/sub-tropical regions including Hawaii and the Carribean regions.

My first exposure to hibiscus as a healing plant was when I bought a lovely craft tea of rose and hibiscus mixed with raspberry. The tingle and pink tinge of the brew was a little alarming at first, and the taste a little different. It’s a little tart, but sips wonderfully! This brew was very relaxing as well as easing on my PMS (TMI I know!) and cramping–mainly due to the fact that raspberry was in it. But after researching and continuing to study the benefits of this medicine-in-disguise, I wanted to share just a few of the many benefits of hibiscus:

  • support and aid in respiratory health
  • occasionally used to help ease constipation
  • supporting heart health
  • maintaining normal body temperature
  • …and women, hibiscus has been linked to hormonal/mood balance (ahem PMS) and fertility regulation, though this point is still under research
  • rich in Vitamin C
  • also aids in hydration of body/cells

These are just a few of the many great healthful benefits of hibiscus. So shop around, find some tea bags with hibiscus, and get brewing! If you live in a region where your gardening zone and climate can support growing your own hibiscus plant, by all means, grow it! Not only is it beneficial health-wise, this family of plant offers many different beautiful species that will add just the right aesthetics to your yard. *Another note: all parts of this plant can be used for different medicinal and healing purposes. I am including a list of resources to aid in identifying the best part of the plant to use with relation to any maladies.*

 

Resources for further reading:

Gaia Herbs

Concsious LifeForce

Nile Valley Teas

Rosella Tea

Barely Green Life

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The Feminine Divine

She walks softly on sacred ground. She respects all Earthly beingsbirds and beasts and the insects that give the tell-tale signs of the health of the Forest. She smells of wet soil, ferns, and oils of her own crafting…dark and musky, and totally, completely female.

She bends low to gather a feather–by its markings a red-tailed hawk–and adds it to the others decorating her long and mussed hair. She remembers the spaces between, she sees that which others cannot perceive with untrained eyes.

She’s a collector of bones and stones, odd things left by the Earth Mother for those willing to see–to learn and evolve. She is a practitioner of an ancient Craft, she keeps the Old Ways and the Light as well as the Dark. She reads the signs present in all Earthly thingsshe can see in shadow–and she decorates her face with the Blood of her Sacrifice to the Gods…warm and willing, a regretful yet necessary thing to feed hunger and the change in Seasons.

The plants speak to her like lovers whispering secrets; she uses all for purpose–medicines, sustenance, and deep magic bleeding from the Earth and the depths of the Sacred Land. She finds mysterious mushrooms and ghost flowers to aid in her Craft, as well as Blessed Thistle and White Sage to aid in her Healing Arts. She is hedge ryder, a keeper of the Old Ways and faith…a Shamanone who sees when darkness falls, one who can divine with the Forest.

Bee-friendly gardens w/ FL native plants

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In light of the tragedy of the 37 million bees found dead in Canada, I wanted to include a little blurb (late though I am) about planting bee-friendly gardens that are composed of FL native plants/flowers.

Keep in mind that bees are going to be attracted to brightly colored flowers that have petals that splay open, exposing pollen and nectar that these insects thrive on. So a good tip as far as flowers are concerned, have a variety of brightly colored blossoms that produce decent amounts of pollen.

Remember that bees are very important to the care-taking of the agricultural industry as well as being the means that most plants/flowers are able to be seeded and spread. Bees also make honey–duh–and in order to prevent harm and to keep the bees hanging around, please, by all means, NO pesticides. Not only do they get into some veggies and herbs (this is why you thoroughly rinse any veggies/fruits/herbs you purchase from the supermarket that aren’t organic), pesticides can be the nemesis of some very garden-friendly and beneficial insects that are those ”good guys” in keeping the true pests at bay alongside maintaining the health of the garden.

A great article provided by Mother Earth News on organic pest control

**Again, bees will be/are great for helping your herbs and fruit/veggies! There are a number of FL native flowers that are also beneficial for companion planting with many fruits and veggies, as well as herbs.**

Five great FL natives to include in your garden/landscaping plans to attract more native bees:

  • Azaleas (Rhododendron genus) such as common, pinxter, and FL flame azaleas, attract butterflies, birds, and bees. These are FL natives(with the exception of some common rhododendron species) and offer a variety of colored blossoms, depending on which species are planted. These plants are perennials.
  • The FL blanket flower/Indian blanket flower (Gaillardia varietiesis a common native found in wildflower patches and in gardens alike. The daisy-shaped flower is perfect for landing bees and they love this flower’s nectar and pollen. This is also a perennial with some species natives, and some not. These little flowers are very hardy, perfect for growing in virtually all regions of FL, from north-central, all the way down to the FL Keys.
  • Milkweed/Butterfly weed (Asclepias spp.) is another beauty that will attract the bees as well as butterflies. Some species are non-natives, but this is another hardy plant that can be grown from north to south FL. Another perennial with flowers perfect for landing bees.
  • Purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) is not only a FL native completely, it also has medicinal value as well. A great addition to any FL friendly garden, this blossom will attract a variety of wildlife including native bees, butterflies, hummingbirds and other species of birds as well. This is also a native perennial and hardy in virtually all FL regions.
  • Swamp sunflowers (Helianthus angustifolius) and beach sunflowers (Helianthus debilis) are both FL natives and perennials. These attract a multitude of species, including birds, butterflies, and bees and are super easy to grow. These spreading flowers are hardy in all FL regions.

I just wanted to include some of my favorite FL native bee-friendly flowers that can be incorporated in your own FL garden. Remember that most flowers that attract butterflies will also attract bees. FL native plants will most of the time be the only source of food for FL native bees, but the native bees may sometimes feed on exotics as well.

Some related blogs that I found useful:

Central Florida Gardener

NE Florida’s Native Bees

FL Native Plant Society

Our Native Bees — a word about this blog, it’s not about FL at all, but there’s some great information regarding bee keeping, attracting native bees to your garden, etc., which follow the same principles for attracting and maintaining a FL native landscape for FL native bees.

Some awesome FL resources for bee friendly landscaping/gardening, info on wildflowers and FL natives, etc.:

FL Friendly Landscaping

UFL’s FL Natives and Landscaping Guides (PDF)

Sarasota Sustainability: FL Native Bee Information (PDF)

Michelle Patterson, St. Lucie Master Gardener (PDF)

Bees of Florida

a must-have resource for anyone interested in Herbalism

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Herbal Medicine: Trends & Traditions by Charles W. Kane

I picked this book up from the library last fall, and behold! I found a really useful short ~n~ sweet basic encyclopedia on medicinal herbs and preparation methods/collection methods. I just love this book!

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Herbal Medicine has an easy to read format that includes the plant’s common name and family, genus, and species names, plus a description of the plant, distribution of the plant (habitat), chemistry, medicinal ueses, indications, collection, preparation and dosage, and any warnings or cautions about the plant.

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With 58 full-color photos of various plants mentioned in the text, Herbal Medicine offers readers a look at the physical characteristics of some important medicinal plants so they can get to know them and eventually be able to identify them.

of Wild Roses and Fading Dreams…

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Last night my dreams took me to an ancient and serene river, where I stood on the bank looking upstream to where the first bend curved to the North. It was warm and calm and I could smell the scents of the forest behind me.

I remained silently standing, frozen in time…watching. A shadow stirred in my left-hand peripheral vision, beckoning my attention. I think it was my sister that stood to my left; her presence was comforting…I returned my gaze to the river, and scanned everything, and I noticed a plastic Ziploc bag floating down the currents toward me…I remember being curious…

The bag flowed on the currents up to the river bank at my feet. I reached into the water to scoop it out and wonder at its contents. I opened the bag and pulled out what looked like old and forgotten papers…papers with my name on them…like I had signed for a package or insurance policy many years before…

…Then I saw the message. It was a message from an old friend. The words so clearly written in his handwriting asked are you content living the life of a soldier?I didn’t quite understand that question, because I’ve never been a soldier…

The dream shifted and I was riding passenger with my father in his old Jeep as we journeyed through primordial wooded wilds. The light was grey, as if this world would hold no color beyond the deep greens of the mysterious woods surrounding our dirt path. We drove for eternity and yet, only a second in time, and finally arrived at my friend’s house…I said something to my father, and then he was gone, leaving me standing alone before an unfamiliar place. Tall and ancient trees surrounded everything.

The dream hazed and turned again, and I was swimming in a pool with my friend. We swam, watching each others’ blue eyes, knowing this would not be the last time we met in dreams.

He said he was sorry, and I embraced him. He still felt the same…I breathed him in, and his scents still held familiarity inside my nose and throat.

…Then the rain fell and we ran inside. His home was unfamiliar to me…two stories with a balcony ringing the whole living room, looking down. It felt…I don’t know…ancient, in a way…The room upstairs held a computer atop an antique stout wood desk, and every piece of artwork I’ve ever created was displayed lovingly on the walls. He said he saved this spot for me because he know how much I loved to create things of beauty.

The dog came to me and he reminded me that she never really took to anyone but me since I went away. She sat down at my feet, smiling up at me.

Then we were in a garden of tangled herbs and flowers breathing in the scents of a place neither of us had been to before. He handed me some seeds that I couldn’t identify, and I planted them at our feet. Wild roses started creeping up out of the wet black soil, seducing us with their scents. He took my hand then, and said he was sorry once more. He told me your daughter is beautiful, just like you. You’re welcome to stay here…I can’t remember if I said anything back…

…I remember being choked with tears, looking into his blue eyes, and smiling sad smiles. We hugged tightly again…

When I woke up from the restless sleep of this dream, it was raining outside. It had been raining most of the night into the morning. I could tell because the steady rhythm was constant, and the scents were too wet to have been a short rain. I couldn’t get his face and voice out of my mind for a while that morning.

No, that rainy morning was meant for lighting candles and sweet incense, and sending sermons and prayers of remembering, of love, of younger days when things should have mattered more.

As we grow older and learn more, it becomes the smaller packages in life that we are most afraid to open and accept…and this small package of mine—a faded dream of symbolic references—I have been afraid to revisit for fear of the thoughts and visions it pulls back to mind.

But Spirit has subtle yet blindingly powerful lessons that adhere themselves to those little packages we are so afraid to accept. Whether this is a past dream, or one yet to come, dreams are mine, and this one does not lie.