Tuesday, May 13, 2008

A Tuesday apprenticeship in photos

Tuesday May 13th
Sunny 70 Degrees

Ladys Mantle Unfurling
Alchemilla vulgaris (Rosacea family)

In mediaeval Latin it was called Leontopodium (lion's foot), probably from its spreading root-leaves, and this has become in modern French, Pied-de-lion. Two common English local names, 'Lion's foot' and 'Bear's foot.

Alchemilla has lime green leaves and dainty star shaped flowers, and has been in gardens since before the 16th century and I'm sure in the wild much before then. The entire plant is covered in very fine hairs that cause dew or soft rain to gather in it's leaves. This liquid was known as "celestial water" and used in alchemy. These tiny jeweled drops inspired poetry and magic over the years.

The herb became known as Our Lady's Mantle because the scalloped shape of the leaves, were thought to resemble the mantle (cloak) of the Virgin Mary. Later, politics intervened, and the "Our" was taken from the name.

Some medicinal uses.....of the herb and roots.......

Lady’s Mantle was once a widely prescribed treatment for gynecological problems. This herb is commonly used as a cure for excessive menstruation and is taken internally as an infusion ( 1 OZ. of the dried herb to 1 pint of boiling water) in teacupful doses as required. It is thought to help the uterus return to its natural size after childbirth. Decoctions made from the lady's mantle can be used as vaginal douches or as a lotion - it can be mixed with rose water as well. These decoctions can help reduce vaginal discharges, minimize irritation and infection in the vaginal cavity. A strong decoction of the fresh root, by some considered the most valuable part of the plant, has also been recommended as excellent to stop all bleedings. It has also been used externally for wounds and skin irritations, as well as a compress for treating puffy eyes. In Sweden, a tincture of the leaves has been used in cases of spasmodic /convulsive diseases.

Lady's Mantle has astringent and styptic properties, on account of the tannin it contains. It is 'of a very drying and binding, and has been considered one of the best vulneraries or wound herbs. Disorders such as diarrhea and gastroenteritis are easily dealt with by the strong astringent action of the herb, the herb is also rich in salicylic acid and this induces a rapid reduction in the inflammation affecting the digestive system as well as the reproductive system of patients.

In folklore it is thought that if placed under the pillow at night, the herb will promote quiet sleep.

The herbal lady’s mantle decoction can also function as an excellent skin lotion for the treatment of rashes in diseases such as eczema, it can be used to heal cuts and wounds, as well as external sores and insect bites of all kinds. The herbal decoction can also be used as a mouthwash and gargle in cases of bleeding gums, to treat mouth ulcers and to minimize the symptoms of sore throats in patients.

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