Friday, May 27, 2011

Shepherd's Purse

Yesterday, New York yoga teacher and doula Lisa Kazmer and I met in Central Park on a mission - to harvest and make our own medicine. After beginning my studies at the Wise Woman Center, I am becoming increasingly aware of everyday healing herbs and foods that are in my home environment right here in New York City. I operated for years under the assumption that I I had to leave New York City to exist closer and more authentically with nature, but more and more I find that I have quite astonishingly overlooked what exists right in front of me surrounded by this city of stone. How appropriate that the herb we are harvesting just happens to grow in sidewalk cracks and in rocky terrain as if shouting -"Hey, look at me, I'm like you - an urban survivor and thriver!" As I took my oatmeal in Central park yesterday morning, there Shepherd's Purse was peeking up through large rocks and as I walked through the meadows she popped her head up in clusters and at various moments her white flowering tops and heart shaped seed pouches standing tall and proud on their slender stems.

I called Lisa, who is co-creator of our earlier herbal product for women's reproductive health 'yoni steams' with me and told her to meet me in the park that afternoon as we were on a mission. I gathered all the info I could on Shepard's Purse, printed it off and took two canvas bags, two harvesting scissors and a snack for us. We meet at 59th and 6th Ave in front of the horse carriages with the grassy musky manure aroma of NY carriages greeting us as we entered the park. We walked to the gazebo and sat on the rocks and read aloud to each other the printed information I had gathered on Shepherd's Purse. One piece off the internet had a photo of Shepherd's purse. I asked Lisa based on the photo to find the plant. She pointed to a few similar looking things from the photo. This was actually a trick exercise. The photo was actually wrong - meaning 1. you can't trust everything on the internet and 2. sight is on of the worst ways to identify herbs and leads to often harvesting the wrong and potentially plant. We then moved to the correct variation of Shepherd's Purse, greeted her and talked about sustainable harvesting, asking the plants permission and only taking what we need. Shepherd's purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris - Brassicaceae family) is an anti-hemorrhaging herb that regulates blood flow in the body. About to be on the heaviest day of my moon flow, it was an appropriate time to harvest ;) Shepherd's Purse stops excessive bleeding in the body by constricting the blood vessels with its atstringent quality. It's a wonderful herb to lighten excessively heavy menstrual flows and post-partum hemorrhaging as well as bleeding from all parts of the body including stomach, lungs, uterus and kidneys. Shepherd's purse has also been taken internally to treat cases of blood in urine and bleeding ulcers. Shepherd's purse was most likely brought over from Europe as it's actually not indigenous to our continent. It is an herb that was used during the Great War when amputations took place right on the battlefield and they needed to stop a new amputee form bleeding out.

Lisa and I harvested Shepherd's Purse from three different places in the park only taking what we need. Shepherd's purse is obviously not an herb we will take regularly and would only be used under very specific conditions. The jar we made into a tincture will last us the rest of our lives. Lisa commented to me after our harvesting trip she felt incredibly grounded. That is the power of The Mother - sharing with us indefinitely her energy and wisdom and deep powerful presence. As we deepen opening to Her knowing we are able to share with others her power. Urban medicine making is teaching me patience.

In New York one thing is for sure - we want everything right away - our food, our entertainment, our business. Herbal medicine takes time. Shepherd's Purse will steep in Vodka for 6 weeks before she is ready to be medicine. While six weeks doesn't seem long for a life-time worth of medicine, in our electronic tweet-ing, facebook-ing world - it's an eternity which is why alopathic medicine was birthed in the west. Natural healing took too long. But even in New York there are times where a deep penetrating sense of grounding can take us over and pull us into The Mother's embrace. Thank you Pacha Mama for your gifts, your healing, your wisdom." Lisa shared this Paulo Coehlo quote with me yesterday and it feels good to share it with you here - "God placed 'Her' pharmacy in the woods and fields so that everyone could enjoy good health."

Please stay tuned as we continue to grow our Urban Herbals Business.