A new series begins at the blog – one that will offer more extensive profiles of plants of the Canarian tradition of Herbalism, both as a medicinal and as a magical source of reference. On each post, I will add five new herbs to the archive, explaining their medicinal use, their magical use, and any bits of folklore that I know related to that plant.
And remember – I am not a doctor, I am a Curandera. My advice is only that – advice, and cultural reference, and it should not be taken as a substitution for medical advice. Do your research, and know your own body – plant medicine is not harmless.
Latin Name: Ruta Graveolens
Medicinal Properties: This is a very bitter plant so its tea is not very pleasant. Pregnant women should avoid completely it as it is a powerful abortifacient. It is helpful to treat irregular menstruation and it is also antispasmodic, but I wouldn’t advise its use unless you are quite familiar with herbal remedies, because it is not a plant for beginners.
In the Canary Islands, there is a traditional remedy using rue for indigestion: fry a fresh branch of rue on two teaspoons of olive oil, set aside until the oil is warm and then dab your fingers on it and use it as a massage oil for the stomach area. I have used it myself and it works much better, and much more safely, than tea. This oil can also be used for arthritic pains.
Farmers: If you want your farm animals to breed, cut off all rue from their grazing zones.
Spiritual Properties: it is placed at the door of the house/business/temple to repel negativity, as this plant is a powerful warrior against negative magic, evil eye, and evil spirits. It is a major element on protection amulet bags (dried leaves) and on protection floor washes (tea).
CAUTION!!! The combination of rue and solar exposure is very dangerous, specially during the plant’s blooming. It may cause severe burns and blisters if picked during daytime, so harvest before or after sunrise and wash your hands well after picking. Not everyone is allergic to it, as it happens with other allergy-inducing plants, but don’t take risks or you could end up in hospital.
Latin Name: Chenopodium Ambrosioides
Medicinal Properties : Epazote is used mainly for digestive issues. It is a wonderful herb for indigestion, or after big meals to help the digestive system work properly. In my personal experience, epazote works worderfully both as a tea or as a tincture – actually, it is a very common addition of the Parra, a traditional digestive herbal drink that is used to finish huge meals.
Along with Wormwood (Artemisa Absynthia), it has been used for many generations to treat intestinal parasites of all kind. Though the risk of children having internal parasites is nowadays very low, pets can benefit greatly from this combination of plants, as fleas and ticks hate them. You can powder it and sprinkle your pet’s bed, or atomize the infusion over the pet’s body, always avoiding the head. This can also be used on farm animals’ beds, of course.
Spiritual Properties: used in protection and hex-breaking – as always, the magickal properties are analogous to the medicinal ones. Epazote helps us digest the obstacles in life and removes spiritual parasites. It makes a wonderful smudge/spray for getting rid of residual negativity from our houses: smudge/spray the house with it after situations that are highly stressful for the whole family, like after a family member’s death, after a divorce, etc. A bundle of dry epazote is a wonderful protection to keep nightmares caused by spirits away, and to protect children from spiritual attacks.
Latin Name: Passiflora Caerulea/Edulis.
Medicinal Properties: The Passiflora plant is the mother of the Maracujá or Passion Fruit. There are about 500 subspecies, but the most comon are the Passiflora Cerulea, which produces the yellow passion fruit, and the Passiflora Edulis, which produces the purple passion fruit. The fruit is one of the subtropical fruits with a higher amount of C and A vitamins. The juice is incredibly tasty and aromatic, as is used mainly to enhance the taste of orange and papaya juices. A juice made of papaya and passion fruit is a powerful cleansing and revitalizing juice, and does wonders for people with gastric problems.
Teas and tinctures of this plant’s leaves are used to treat anxiety and depression. This plant is usually combined with Valerian Root, Lemon Balm, Orange flowers, Violets and other calming herbs and flowers. The leaves can also be smoked, dried and powdered, and mixed with other smokeable herbs, as the sedative alkaloid it contains has the same effects.
Spiritual Properties:The flowers are used mainly for love and passion amulets – a bundle of leaves, left to dry over the bed, will assure the couple lovely and passionate nights; but since it is also related to the Passion of Christ, this plant is also used in ceremonial/blessing incenses and oils, as it is believed to keep away negative entities.
Latin Name: Thymus Vulgaris
Medicinal Properties: though used mainly as a spice for soups, stews and sauces, thyme has many powerful medicinal properties. Eases fever, phlegm and cough; relieves muscle pain and headaches caused by menstruation and sunstroke; helps digestion, lowers fever, and it is also a powerful antiseptic and antibiotic. Along with rosemary and sage, there is little thyme can’t heal.
Spiritual Properties: in magic, thyme equals courage and luck. A powerful amulet against negativity, evil eye and persistent ghost activity, it is also used for money and prosperity spells. It is just as powerful as a medicine than as a magical herb: there is hardly a spell/amulet that doesn’t improve with the use of thyme! It is also a very fragrant herb, so it can be burnt as incense to repel negative energies, specially on businesses.
Latin Name: Foeniculum Vulgare
Medicinal Properties: this humble plant, often overseen as a weed due to its prolific nature, is full of healing properties. Eases digestion, relieves nausea and vertigo, works instantly on heartburn and bloating, and it is mildly sedative, becoming an excellent after-dinner tea. It is also a wonderful eye wash, specially for people with allergies or those who are exposed to dry climates, and an excellent wound/sunburnt wash.
In the islands, it is customary to give fennel tea to babies with colic. Although today herbal healers are extremely cautious when giving herbal teas to babies younger than a year, many generations of Canarians have used this remedy for their sick babies with great success.
Spiritual Properties: fennel is highly related to children’s protection and thus, to angelic magic. Tied in a bundle over the main door of the house, it is a sign of angelic protection, keeping negative spirits away. It is also a very known herb for lucky gambling – keep a small red fabric bag filled with fennel near your lottery tickets for an extra dose of good luck.
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