Sunday, June 30, 2013

Goldenseal

 Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis)

We've been talking about digging up the goldenseal in our garden for a couple years, but never got to it. until a couple weeks ago.

On our recent trip to the Catskills, a rock fell on Beren's foot. We three were playing along a large brook at a trailhead. He climbed the grey infrastructure - huge rocks that the northern counties put in along streambanks after Hurricane Irene. He was a bit cavalier, as he often gets when he's hungry. Jared was on his trail and I was about to nag him when the jagged rock fell from several feet up.

Beren let out a shriek, and Jared grabbed him and scaled the embankment. As we ran back to the car, Beren cried out, "No! No! No!" Once we reached the car, Beren cuddled in my lap and asked to nurse. He whimpered and gasped, but was unable to latch. I knew, then, that this was bad.

Beren's blood dripped on my shoes and pants. We washed his foot off with water from our drinking bottles. I gave him Arnica. We has soon able to nurse, and I rocked him slowly.

Jared and I assessed his toe. The skin was broken above and below the nail. The nail was dark and the toe swollen and bluish. I gently applied a salve of plantain, calendula, and yarrow on the uninjured skin on his toe. We took bandages from our travel first aid kit and asked Beren to open a few. We showed him how they worked. I asked him to put a couple on me before I told him that I would bandage his toe.

When Beren settled, we opened our lunch and started with the sweets, offering him a slice of apple bread. He happily ate it. We finished lunch, and discussed what to do next. Jared suggested we put Beren's shoes on and see how he'd do. I had considered going back to our cabin, which had no running water, or possibly driving four and a half hours home.

I watched Beren limp down the road as he held Jared's hand. A milestone - my son's first injury beyond skinned knees. When he reached the span across the brook, Jared called back, "I think we can go ahead."

I packed our day pack with water, snacks, and a change of clothes for Beren. I hardly though of it until we got back to the cabin. Beren's toe looked terribly beat up. We made an infusion of lemon balm and thyme, both anti-microbial. We soaked his foot. Jared had packed the lemon balm, saying, "This will be nice for the cool evenings." It was a very recent gift from our friends, Lindsay and Johann at Fields Without Fences. I wished we had some heavy duty anti-microbials - we didn't even have hydrogen peroxide. But, the plants have their way of getting where they are needed.

Keeping his foot clean and shorn for the rest of our stay was tough. On the days previous, we'd gone wading in the chilly, spring-fed pond. Beren had bravely dunked his bottom in and rose again and again, giggling, "Shake it off, shake it off," until his teeth chattered.

When we came home, it was time to ask the goldenseal for help. I dug one plant and trimmed the rhizome, leaving enough so I could replant and make a tincture and soak. We used the soak to wash the wound. We used peroxide, also.

Now, the tincture sits on the counter. I'll strain it in a few weeks, and it will accompany us on our next trip. Beren's toenail fell off and the skin is completely healed. The twice (Beren pulled it up after I planted it, and chose a different location for it) replanted goldenseal is doing well, too.

 Hydrastis roots

Hydrastis wash

2 comments:

  1. Nice :-). It's interesting to know about all these herbs and when to apply them. I know you and Jared because I recently bought lots and lots of native plants from your plant sale :-)

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  2. I went through so many emotions reading this. my first was, poor Beren, oh my god, i can't believe they didn't take him to a hospital, to, i would have been freaking out if i didn't have any hydrogen peroxide! to herbs?? is that going to be ENOUGH to stave off a bacterial infection??!

    as i continued reading, however, i realized that my reactions were what i find most sad and unfortunate about traditional "medical" care.

    it's not that we have a million different pills to pop for every ache or pain, or feeling; a "specialist" to consult every time we feel a weakness, a shortness of breath, or a headache.

    it's not even that our hospitals are cold, sterile, unfeeling places filled with chemical treatments and "cures" often worse than the dis-ease itself...

    it's that this system, our current healthcare system is so removed from any intuitive and natural healing system.

    what is saddest of all is that we have lost our beliefs and faiths. our belief in our bodies to heal and "right" themselves. our faith in our spirits to heal us, and our knowledge in our plants and herbs to assist us in our healing process.

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