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my first salve

as soon as the dandelions burst into golden blooms, i scooped them up, drowned them in olive oil and made a dreamy-scented infusion for a breast and massage oil. Six weeks ago, i picked all the new, vibrant spring growth of lemon balm, packed it in a jar and poured 100 proof vodka over it. a couple weeks later, i went out in the yard and picked a bunch of plantain. i picked only the greenest, healthiest leaves that had not yet made it to an animal or insect’s dinner plate. i chopped them up, put them to simmer in olive oil for 3 hours, and from this lovely, deep green infusion i made a salve using beeswax and a touch of vitamin E.

brni and jesse are getting used to seeing towels with leaves and flowers of weeds wilting on the dinning room table, but they still roll their eyes as comment on the nasty things i’m brewing and turning into stuff that they will later be pressed to try out. these are the same weeds our neighbors struggle to rid their lawns of — pulling and poisoning without a thought to the great (and free!) food and medicine they could be making from them.

last week i gave my plantain salve to my sister. she’s been having a difficult time treating a skin condition on her hands. the steroid creams and antibiotics have been minimally helpful and her healing has been slow. today she told me that this salve made from my lowly lawn weed has helped soothe and heal better than any of the medications she’s tried to date.

so, ha! it works! maybe this herbal path i’ve chosen is truly pointing me in the right direction? maybe it isn’t so far-fetched to use local, common plants to heal? this ain’t just wavy gravy alternative hoo-ha. it is down-to-earth, *from* the earth, and sensible.

my lemon balm tincture will be decanted and bottled tonight. it will be stored in the cupboard, ready for the next bout of family congestion or nervous tension. but i have no illusions…brni and jesse will still roll their eyes when i press a plant remedy on them and grumble about smelly, witchy brews and how they’d rather have real drugs.

here’s the plain old plantain, otherwise known as Plantago major L. or “the bandaid plant.”

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