When some people wake up feeling less than fabulous they take themselves off for a spot of therapy. Retail therapy that is. Or perhaps they go out for a coffee to get the heart started or wind down with a drink with a friend. Some people swear by exercise to get the endorphins going, you know, the ‘happy’ hormones. Everyone has their go-to method.
So many of my clients come in and tell me that flowers make them feel better. They make them happy. They laugh and tell me that must be why we are such happy people, because we get to work with them everyday. Maybe it is. But the truth of it is that flowers can heal, and that is just another reason to treat yourself to the power of the flower!
Echinacea, the purple coneflower is believed to be the closest thing to a cure for the common cold, so with the decreasing temperature taking place here at the moment, everyone should be stocking up! It stimulates the activity of cells that fight all sorts of infection. In fact, it makes our immune system more efficient; attacking bacteria/viruses/abnormal cells, simulating new tissue growth for wound healing and reducing inflammation in skin conditions and arthritis.
It is most successful in increasing Phagocytosis; the consumption of invading organisms by white blood cells and lymphocytes, by 20-40%. And has been noted to inhibit the enzyme (hyaluronidase) which is secreted by bacteria to help them gain access to healthy cells. Research from 1950’s showed that Echinacea managed to completely counteract the effect of the enzyme, which meant that it prevented infection in open wounds.
Echinacea was initially used internally for treatment of colds, coughs and flu as well as respiratory conditions, urinary tract infections, boils, acne, candida, herpes and persistent infections. Now it is being used more for the treatment of external wounds, skin regeneration, skin infections, eczema, and inflammatory skin conditions. It kills yeast and slows/stops bacteria growth, but also stimulates the growth of new tissue.
Lavender (Lavandula Angustifolia) is a fragrant herb with a pretty purple bloom that contains an oil that seems to have sedating qualities and may relax certain muscles.
It is component of compounds used for herbal and alternative medicine/aromatherapy that is most commonly used for restlessness, migraine, headache, insomnia, anxiety, nervousness and even depression. It can be utilised best in tinctures, as an essential oil in teas, salves etc, but can also be used in heat bags, burning the essential oil, (to help with insomnia) adding the oil to a warm bath for muscle relaxation or inhaling the oil vapour which is believed to help with pain management.
I did not know that the oil actually has antiseptic properties and is therefore good for cleaning scrapes and cuts that may contain foreign material. Linalol is an active substance in lavender that heals sores, burns and other wounds. Pain and inflammation are reduced at the site of pain.
Lavender is believed to reduce anxiety and other nervous conditions.You can place a sachet with soothing leaves and tuck it into your drawer or under your pillow or alternatively add essential lavender oil to your bath water for a calming end to your evening. It can relieve headaches just by dabbing a small amount of oil onto your temples, and similarly the oil can be used in an aromatherapy massage to unknot the muscles and relive spasms, particularly helpful during a womans menstrual cycle.
Versatile Lavender can even be taken as a diluted essence. Simply add one or two drops of the essence in a glass of water, for depression, hysteria, and fainting.
Calendula (Calendula Officinalis)
Calendula has been used medicinally for centuries to treat conjunctivitis (as it helps to reduce the swelling and redness of eye infections), eczema, gastritis, minor burns including sunburns, warts, and minor injuries such as sprains and wounds, cramps, coughs, and snake bites. In animal studies, it has been shown that Calendula reduces inflammation, increasing blood flow and promoting production of collagen.
Calendula posesses both antiseptic and antiinflammatory properties, so is great for treating a variety of skin ulcerations, eczema, acne, as well as being utilised in mouthwashes and gargles for the same reason, to soothe and heal mouth ulcers, or sore throats.
Calendula has a high content of flavonoids, chemicals that act as antioxidants in the body. Antioxidants are thought to protect body cells from damage caused by a chemical process called oxidation. Oxidation produces oxygen free radicals, natural chemicals that may suppress immune function.
As a mum, I have come across Calendula by way of a fantastic nappy rash cream. It is known to be good for both acne and nappy rash, as well as athlete’s foot, ringworm, and candida. A tincture applied to a cold sore can also encourage healing.
Today, Calendula is being examined for it’s anti-cancer properties. In combination with herbs such as Echinacea purpurea, Scorzonera humilis L., and Aconitum moldavicum, there has been evidence of success in treating certain cancers (e.g Heren’s carcinoma) according to the Fedkovich Chernivtsi State University in the Ukraine.
St. John’s Wort (Hypericum Perforatum)
St. John’s Wort is the number one treatment in Germany for depression and has become popular again as an antidepressant worldwide. Chemicals such as hypericin, hyperforin, and pseudohypericin are found in St Johns Wort, and are thought to be the major sources of its antidepressant properties. Although St John’s Wort may be effective in reliveing mild- moderate depression, it can take several weeks to see maximum antidepressant effects.
NOTE; St. John’s Wort should not be used with alcohol and some other foods.
Evening Primrose Oil (Oenothera Biennis)
All us ladies know the healing properties of Evening Primrose Oil very well. In fact, Evening Primrose Oil has been called the most sensational preventive discovery since vitamin C. The plant is well known for its healing properties, relieving the discomforts of PMS, menopause, menstruation, endometriosis and fibrocystic breasts but on top of that it has been found to contain a pain relieving compound phenylalanine and is increasingly being used to treat chronic headaches.
It is also being studied as a treatment of: easing joint pain and swelling of rheumatoid arthritis, preventing diabetes-associated nerve damage, reducing the symptoms of eczema, acne, rosacea, counter impotence and female infertility, nourish hair, scalp and nails, .
Wowzers, well, aside from adding colour and fragrance to your home, some plants bring much much more to our lives. Amazing hey? Florists truly are a lucky bunch!
All hail the power of the flower,