Maybe Don’t Try This at Home

Home medicine-making can be such a rewarding experience. You get to know a plant better through preparing and using it in a way that’s meaningful for you. It’s as simple as making an infusion, and no form is too complex.

That said, there’s a certain respect for self that medicine-making ought to engender. After all, you’re making something that’s meant to help someone else or yourself. May as well take care of yourself during the process.

Putting up tinctures with the new moon and pressing them out with the full moon is not too difficult. Lots of standing, some leaning, in other words. Somewhat hard on the body, depending on how long you go. I usually tincture several plants at any one time, so it can be taxing even though it’s exciting.

But preparing seed pods, roots, leaves…well, it depends. Whether tincturing a plant in alcohol or making an infused oil, you need to increase the surface area of the plant. And this is done through nicking, grinding, powdering, etc.

During a medicine-making lesson this week, I ground some plantain leaves to include with calendula flowers to make a salve. The plantain smells kind of like new-mown grass, but after a minute or so, the dust bothers me.

It got better…with the cayenne pepper. A student and I made the old Jethro Kloss cayenne liniment. Usually liniments are half infused oil and half alcohol (tinctures work well in that regard) and can be rubbed easily into the skin in areas such as joints that need external medicine, such as a liniment, as well as internal, such as a tincture. But the Kloss liniment is simply ground cayenne simmered in apple cider vinegar. No big deal, right?

Not so. Grinding those peppers was akin to eating one: Facial inflammation, including watery eyes and nose.

“Do you have some milk?” my student asked.

Good idea, I thought, reaching for the jug inside the fridge. It helped.

But I had not finished grinding the pepper, so faced another round of Flame Up at the O-Face Corral.

Geesh, I thought, and poured another glass of milk.

Next time, I’ll have a mask on hand. And some chopped chickweed for the eyes.

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