In addition to the usual herbal gifts of herbal wreaths, vinegars, soaps, candles, spices, potted plants, flowers, beauty products and more, there are two other to consider this holiday season.
Teasel is such a fabulous herb to learn about, I’ve devoted a complete blog to it alone. As a gift, this herb is the choice to help those with joint pain. It’s particularly great for sore and painful lower back and knees, stiffness in the joints, weak legs, arthritis, rheumatism, and healing of bones in general, all particularly from coldness. In fact, the literal translation of the Chinese pinyin name, xu duan, means “restore what is broken” or “heal fracture.”
Western teasel (D. fullonum, D. pilosus) is used very similarly. It treats low back and joint pain, low adrenal function, stiffness in the joints, weak legs, arthritis, and rheumatism. It is also helpful for pains associated with Lyme disease.
Notably, Dipsacus is a low-dose herb. In fact, it’s one herb I’ve successfully used in small doses of 3 – 10 drops. I once gave it in 5 drop doses to a large woman with terrible back pain. The next day not only was her back pain gone, but her ankle leg swelling disappeared, too. That made sense because in Chinese medicine, dipsacus is considered a kidney yang tonic, meaning it strengthens the kidney-adrenals, which when weakened, can cause ankle swelling as well as low back and knee pain and coldness.
This herb is readily available in tincture form – an alcoholic extract – which may be found online or in most herbal shops. It might be labeled as either Dipsacus or Teasel, so look for both names.
China Bayles Mysteries
My second gift suggestion is a series of herbal mystery books written by Susan Wittig Albert called the China Bayles Mysteries, about a retired criminal attorney turned herbal shop keeper and behind-the-scenes sleuth. I just finished the first one, Thyme of Death, while Michael is reading, Wormwood. We both agree – they are well-paced, periodic page-turners, and all-around well-informed herbal fun. We even learned a few herbal tidbits neither of us knew before.
There are 29 books in total, written from 1992 to 2021, with such titles as Rosemary Remembers, Lavender Lies, Witches Bane, Indigo Dying, Bleeding Hearts, Bittersweet, and Queen Anne’s Lace. Each of these mysteries has a signature herb connected to a major theme. They are liberally sprinkled with various herbal tidbits, stories, historical information and lore, crafts, preparations, recipes, and even poisons to watch out for. She includes Chinese herbal uses and information as well, broadening their interest.
The China Bayles mysteries are perfect for those days when it’s raining or snowing, at the beach – any time really – when you want to cozy up with a well-written, fun, and engaging book that’s informative about herbs, too. And since there are so many in the series, this is a gift that will keep on giving all year long.