- Alternative & Natural Medicine
The magic of trees
Trees are amazing in so many ways.
Who can deny their beauty especially in Autumn when their leaves turn to reds and golds filling our hearts with joy as we behold them?
Are you feeling sad? Spend some time in the forest. Sit beneath a tree and look around you at its neighbours and draw inspiration and help from them.
Most trees out live humans - mature trees in the forest will have started lifelong before you ever came into being, and have withstood storm and tempest.
For this reason they offer stability and wisdom in times of need.
The scent of the flowers of the Lime tree is said to have magical properties - if you fall asleep under a Lime tree watch out you aren't taken off to fairyland by the fairies!
In rural communities, hedge cutters to this day spare the Elder as the tree is regarded as having magical properties. It is considered bad luck to cut down an Elder. Judas Iscariot was said to have hanged himself from its branches, and according to legend the cross of the crucifixion was made from the wood of the Elder tree.
The Laurel tree has possessed great symbolic importance since Roman times. A crown made from its leaves were worn by emperors, poets and heroes. It is associated with learning and intelligence.
In Irish mythology there was a magical Rowan tree guarded by a dragon. As the berries were considered to possess powers of longevity if eaten, anyone attempting to pick the berries would be burned to a cinder by the dragon. The dragon was thought to protect the Rowan and the Rowan protected the dragon. If you carry a small piece of the tree about your person it will prevent you being whisked away by the fairies, especially on Midsummer's eve when they are particularly mischievous! You'd better wear a piece when you're sitting under the Lime tree then!!
The Buddha achieved enlightenment whilst sitting under a Bodhi tree.
All over the world humans are felling trees to make way for crops and cattle or to search for oil and minerals for mining.
This has gone on for thousands of years and isn't just a modern phenomenon.
People have needed to make clearings to build their communities. Houses and furniture were made from wood and it has always has been used as fuel.
Dartmoor in Devon, where I live, was once virtually covered by trees, mainly oaks. Now only a few pockets of ancient woodland survive, most of them in river valleys. Dartmoor itself is almost entirely moorland, practically devoid of trees. The name 'Dart' is believed to come from an ancient Celtic word 'Der' meaning oak.
The Amazonian Rainforest is not only rich in flora and fauna but also plays an important part in maintaining the health of Planet Earth by regulating oxygen/carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere.
They say that climate change is happening because carbon dioxide emissions are hugely on the increase. So why deforest huge swathes of the planet? We desperately need MORE trees not fewer, to regulate the chemistry of the atmosphere.
And not only that - who has given thought to the idea that forests actually COOL the planet, whereas concrete jungles heat it up?
Trees provide shelter from the sun and a good balance of moisture as well as being an important ecosystem for millions of plants and creatures.
So plant a tree today! We need more trees!
Medicinal benefits of trees
Many people are interested in herbal medicines, myself included.
But have you ever thought that trees, too, can provide natural, gentle health benefits?
And not just the exotics found in Asia, but many common trees found in woodlands, parks and lining the streets of the UK, US and Europe have healing properties.
Below I shall list 5 common trees that can offer health benefits.
The main part of the birch used medicinally is the leaves. They can be useful for reducing infammation and may help with arthritis. They may also help with eczema, psoriasis and cystitis.
Make an infusion from the leaves and drink 3-4 times a day. Birch tar oil has been used for centuries to help alleviate skin conditions.
Oak bark can be used to help alleviate diarrhoea. It may help with sore throats, mouth inflammation and wounds. Use as a gargle for sore throats and as an ointment for piles.
In clinical trials hawthorn has been shown to be at least as effective if not MORE so than conventional drugs to treat hypertension. In fact it is also useful for hypotension as it actually regulates the blood pressure. Hawthorn also helps with palpitations and irregular heartbeats. Make a tea from the leaves, or a tincture from new tops including flowers. A tincture is made by soaking the tops in alcohol (eg vodka) for a few weeks until all the goodness has been extracted. Keep in a dark place.Take a couple of teaspoons in water twice a day (see my hub on Natural ways to reduce your blood pressure). http://justhelen.hubpages.com/hub/Natural-ways-to-help-reduce-your-blood-pressure)
Limeflowers makes a declicious honey flavoured tea and can be used to aid sleep, reduce anxiety and depression, support the immune system and may help prevent heart disease by relaxing the arteries. It can also help cure coughs and colds. Try a few cups a day.
Elder flowers and berries have always been popular with wine makers, and medicinally are used to treat colds and flu. Elder may also play a role in controlling diabetes showing it to have insulin like qualities. The flowers are also useful to treat hayfever, sinusitis and ear infections. Juice made from the berries may have potential cancer preventing effects as well as warding off viral infections. A compress made from the leaves help soothe bruises and sprains.
Trees sometimes mimic other creatures, which can come as a bit of a shock when you're wandering around the forest in a trippy frame of mind! Take a look as these weird critters - they are all completely genuine and were taken in Epping Forest.