Cardiovascular health is a hot topic in our country, and for good reason – many people suffer from cardiovascular related diseases. There is a great deal of talk about how diet and exercise (or lack there of) affect the health of this system, but rarely do we hear talk of how our emotional lives and the health of our spirit plays a role. In Chinese medicine, it is said that the heart is the home of the human spirit. The health of our blood and heart effect our emotions/spirit and vise versa. In this way of thinking, a supportive and emotionally nourishing lifestyle positively affects the health of our cardiovascular system and a healthy cardiovascular system nourishes the spirit. This is a beautiful illustration of the interconnected nature of holistic healing.
Hawthorn is a wonderful tonic for the cardiovascular system and the nervous system, nourishing both the emotional and the physical heart, blood vessels and arteries. It is a common remedy for high blood pressure, high cholesterol and arteriosclerosis. I also include it in some formulas for stress and anxiety. In addition, hawthorn berries are highly nutrative, rich in flavonoids and antioxidants.
Here I am (left) amongst the motherwort! Motherwort is an herb who’s name reveals a great deal about its medicinal applications. Wort is an old English word for herb, so the common name motherwort means herb of the mother. As the name suggests, motherwort has long been used as a tonic for the female reproductive and hormonal system. It is also highly metabolically active and helps improve liver function. The latin name for motherwort, leonurus cardiaca, means lion hearted. As this name implies – motherwort has an affinity for the cardiovascular system, working through the nervous system to regulate and normalize circulation and through the liver to help regulate cholesterol and improve the quality of the blood. I like to think of motherwort as an herb that helps us to self mother – to care and nurture ourselves as deeply as we do for others. I also think it is helpful for connecting with the self-confidant and self-actualized, lion hearted nature that we can all find within ourselves when we connect deeply with our own spirit.
This recipe is an excerpt from The Art of Home Herbalism Online, my introductory herbal apprenticeship program. I’m excited to share it with you here! You can also watch a video demonstration of me making a syrup on YouTube or Vimeo (an excerpt from The Art of Home Herbalism Online video tutorial, Making Water Based Medicines!).
3 cups water
1 tablespoon dried hawthorn berries (or 2 tablespoons fresh)
1 tablespoon dried motherwort leaf and flower (or 2 tablespoons fresh)
1 tablespoon dried yarrow leaf and flower (or 2 tablespoons fresh)
½ cup raw, unrefined honey
¼ cup apple cider vinegar or brandy (optional, but good preservatives)
Combine herbs and water in a saucepan and simmer over low heat until the water volume has reduced by half.
Strain through a fine metal strainer and pour the strained liquid into a quart jar. Add honey (and apple cider vinegar or brandy if desired) and shake or stir until combined.
Store in the refrigerator, where the syrup will last for 4 – 6 months if you add apple cider vinegar or brandy, and 4 – 6 weeks if you do not.
Take 1 tablespoon to 1 ounce once or twice daily. Syrups are delicious in tea, water, homemade sodas, on oatmeal, yogurt or by the spoonful!