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Monday, June 25, 2012

It is so HOT, It must be SUMMERTIME!

Roselle or Hibiscus sadariffa
The flowers only last a couple hours
but they sure are gorgeous!
Good afternoon, All!  Summer has arrived!  And is it hot!

I know what we need on a hot day like today!  A glass of iced Hibiscus Ginger tea!  Oops, we don't seem to have any fresh ginger....but Hibiscus tea is delicious all by itself.

"Hibiscus tea is popular as a natural diuretic; it contains vitamin C and minerals, and is used traditionally as a mild medicine. (Diuretic....diuretic herbs help the body shed excess fluids.) 

Dieters or people with kidney problems often take it without adding sugar (be prepared to pucker up, talk about tart!) for its beneficial properties and as a natural diuretic.

Dried Hibiscus Flowers
begging to become a delicious tea!
A 2008 USDA study shows consuming hibiscus tea lowers blood pressure in a group of prehypertensive and mildly hypertensive adults.  Three cups of tea daily resulted in an average drop of 8.1 mmHg in their systolic blood pressure, compared to a 1.3 mmHg drop in the volunteers who drank the placebo beverage.  Study participants with higher blood pressure readings (129 or above) had a greater response to hibiscus tea: their systolic blood pressure went down by 13.2 mmHg.  These data support the idea that drinking hibiscus tea in an amount readily incorporated into the diet may play a role in controlling blood pressure."wikipedia

Refreshing and healthy, plus this Iced Hibiscus
Tea gets the Garden Fairy's Seal
of Approval!

         Iced Ginger Hibiscus Tea

1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
one3" piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1/2 cup dried red hibiscus petals
8 cups water, room temperature

Make the ginger simple syrup:  Combine the sugar and 1/2  cup of water in a 2-quart saucepan.  Bring to a boil and let syrup cook for 3 minutes, stirring until all the sugar is dissolved.  Remove the pot from heat and add the grated ginger.  Let syrup cool completely and strain.  Set the syrup aside.

Make the hibiscus tea:  In a 4-quart saucepan, pour 4 cups of water over the dried hibiscus petals and place the pot over low heat.  Bring the water to a slow simmer and let cook for 5 minutes.  Turn off the heat and let the tea steep for another 5 minutes.  Strain into a pitcher (When I don't use the ginger syrup, I add 1/4 cup honey and 2 packets of Stevia) and add in the remaining 4 cups of water.  Fill the pitcher with ice (I do not add the ice).

To serve, pour tea into glasses and stir in ginger syrup, sweetening to taste.

Oil painting of a White Hibiscus
"In the Indian traditional system of medicine, Ayurveda, hibiscus, especially white hibiscus and red hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis), is considered to have medicinal properties.  The roots are used to make various concoctions believed to cure ailments such as cough, hair loss or hair graying.  As a hair treatment, the flowers are boiled in oil along with other spices to make a medicated hair oil.  The leaves and flowers are ground into a fine paste with a little water, the resulting lathery paste is used as a shampoo plus conditioner." wikipedia

The Hibiscus family is very large and not all the members are edible.   The Hibiscus sadariffa is edible and medicinal.  Quite a versatile and beautiful plant.  Roselle or hibiscus is an aromatic, astringent, cooling herb that is much used in the Tropics.  I believe it, because it is the "tea" of choice here on the farm during our long, hot and humid summers!

StarDragonfly Herb Company
"The Little Herb Shop on Elm Street"
Winnsboro, Texas

We have dried Hibiscus flowers in stock and can sell all our dried herbs and herbal teas by the ounce.  Besides dried herbs, we now have hand-spun yarn from local animals and will soon have relishes, jams, jellies, herbal soaps, therapeutic bath salts and aromatherapy candles.  Products will always be changing, so stop by often to see what is new.

Until later....stay cool, love your heart by drinking lots of Hibiscus tea and have a lovely week!  Herbally, Susan

"it's a smile, it's a kiss, it's a sip of wine....it's summertime!
Kenny Chesney
Rose of Sharon
Chinese Hibiscus

Monday, June 18, 2012

A What Doctor?

A plague doctor!
Nancy taking photos!
Italian:  medico della peste
Dutch:  pestmeester
German:  Pestarzt

Good morning, All!  Well, StarDragonfly Herb Company opened Friday, June 15, 2012 and now, maybe, just maybe, I can relax a little and life will get back to some semblance of "normal!"   Naaaay, welcome to my crazy life!

We had an awesome store party Friday evening!  The new store was packed with family, friends and potential customers!  We were entertained by Caleb, who came dressed as a "plague" doctor and Karl, as a bee keeper.  I think all present learned a lot about the plague and bees.

Nancy and Karl of Falster Farms provided homemade ice cream....Strawberry Basil and Chocolate Chip Mint and fresh brewed Chicory coffee.

For snacks we had Chocolate Chip Mint cookies and Herb filled Cheese Roll-ups...the herbs all came for the StarDragonfly gardens.

Plague Doctors

"In medieval times the large loss of people due to the bubonic plague in a town created an economic disaster.  Community plague doctors were quite valuable and were given special privileges.  For example, a normally well guarded procedure of autopsies was freely allowed by plague doctors to allow research for a cure of the plague during the Middle Ages.

"A plague doctor was a special medical physician who saw those who had the plague.  They were specifically hired by towns that had many plague victims in times of plague epidemics.  Since the city was playing their salary they treated everyone, the rich
Plague Doctor

and the poor.  They were not normally professionally trained experienced physicians or surgeons, and often were second-rate doctors not able to otherwise run a successful medical business or young physicians trying to establish themselves.

Some plague doctors wore a special costume, although graphic sources show that plague doctors wore a variety of garments.  The protective suit consisted of a heavy fabric overcoat that was waxed, a mask of glassed eye openings and a cone shaped like beak to hold scented substances.

Some of the scented materials were amber, balm-mint leaves, camphor, cloves, laudanum, myrrh, rose petals, and storax.  This was thought to protect the doctor from miasmatic bad air.  A wooden cane pointer was used to help examine the patient without touching.
Tincture of Opium


"Paracelsus (1493-1541) born in Salzburg, Austria, a 16th-century Swiss-German alchemist, discovered that the alkaloids in opium are far more soluble in alcohol that water.  Having experimented with various opium concoctions, Paracelsus came across a specific tincture of opium that was of considerable use in reducing pain.

Paracelsus' laudanum was strikingly different from the standard laudanum of the 17th century and beyond.  His preparation contained opium, crushed pearls, musk, amber and other substances.  One researcher has documented that "Laudanum, as listed in the London Pharmacoepoeia (1618), was a pill made from opium, saffron, ambergris, musk and nutmeg."

A potent narcotic by virtue of its high morphine concentration, laudanum was historically used to treat a variety of ailments, but its principal use was as an analgesic and cough suppressant.  Until the early 20th century, laudanum was sold without a prescription and was a constituent of many patent medicines.  Today, laudanum is strictly regulated and controlled throughout most of the world."  en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laudanum

Sweetgum Tree pod
American Sweetgum

"Storax is the resinous exudate of the tree Liquidambar orientalis (commonly called oriental sweetgum or Turkish sweetgum), occasionally used in incense or as an aromatic fixative in perfumery."  en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Storax

Well, Paracelsus would have definitely used the oriental or Turkish sweetgum in his laudanum, I though you just might be interested in knowing that our good ole southern sweetgum tree is in the same family!  And is a East Texas native.

"Sweetgum is chewed in the treatment of sore throats, coughs, asthma, cystitis, dysentery, etc.  Externally it is applied to sores, wounds, piles, ringworm, scabies etc.  The resin is an ingredient of "Friar's Balsam" a commericial preparation based on Styrax benzoin that is used to treat colds and skin problems.  The mildly astringent inner bark is used in the treatment of diarrhea and childhood cholera."  http://www.naturalmedicinalherbs.net.


StarDragonfly Herb Company
Winnsboro, Texas
Ready to Party!
Gosh, who would have thought that the Sweetgum tree was such a medicinal plant!

Well, enough for today.  Stop by the new store and I will put on a pot of herbal tea!  Hope you have a great week!  Herbally, Susan

Every day is a new beginning.  Treat it that way.  Stay away from what might have been, and look at what can be.
Marsha Petrie Sue


Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Little Herb Shop on Elm Street!

American Basketflower
Plectocephalus americanus
Good morning, All!  Well, this is my final week of preparations before "The Little Herb Shop on Elm Street" opens.  So, this weeks' post is going to be short and sweet!  Cousin Sandra and I are making a quick trip to Tyler tomorrow (Monday) for supplies, bottles and jars.  Then all week will be devoted to baking granola, making more herbal products, packaging, arranging and re-arranging products then getting ready for our big day!  What a fun and busy week we have ahead of us!

StarDragonfly Herb Company
American Basketflower
I have not been able to find any information
on whether this plant is edible or medicinal.  This flower is easy to
grow....find a patch of basketflowers, wait until seed heads
form, then in the Fall, scatter them in your garden.  You should
have this beautiful flower by June of next season!

Officially, opens.....

Friday, June 15, 2012
10:00 am until 8:00 pm

From 6 until 8, StarDragonfly Herb Company will be celebrating 3rd Friday Art Walk with the rest of Winnsboro, Texas.

Stop on by for a glass of good old Texas ice tea with herbs and fruit, a couple herbal snacks, some home-made ice cream (made by our very own Nancy of Falster Farms) and be prepared for a surprise visit from the "Prince" of thieves.
Kevin Costner as
Robin Hood in the movie
Robin Hood: The Prince of Thieves.
Photo courtesy of

Naaaaay! Unfortunately, Kevin Costner is not on the guest list, but Caleb with Thieves Essential Oils http://www.secretofthieves.com/, will be paying us a visit.

"Black Plague & Thieves Oil

Century after century, bubonic plague outbreaks decimate the population of Asian and Europe for the better part of a thousand years.  Out of this period emerged a legend of four thieves who were captured and charged with robbing the dead and dying victims.  When the thieves were tried, the magistrate offered leniency if they would reveal how they resisted contracting the infection as they performed their gruesome acts.  They told of a special concoction of aromatic herbs, including garlic, cloves and rosemary, that they rubbed on themselves before committing their crimes." This info is from the website www.secretof thieves.com.

StarDragonfly Herb Shop is a small shop featuring handmade folk remedies.  These remedies are made with care in small batches with quality ingredients.  A lot of the herbs used in these remedies are grown in this area.  

We will have the following products available:

  • Herbal Extracts (tinctures), single herb and blends.
  • Herbal tisanes (teas)...caffeine free, wholesome and delicious.
  • "Infused" oils                                                                                              
  • Calendula
    I harvested this flower to use in
    my Calendula salve.  Great for
    chapped skin.

Day Lily
  • Herbal salves....tried and true blends...can be used for dry, cracked and chapped skin.  Gentle enough for children and animals.
Spice blends...hand blended with love....spice blends that I use in my own kitchen!

  • Sugar blends...love Chai tea?  Try our Spice Sugar blend for a easy but awesome cup of Chai tea
  • Dried herbs from StarDragonfly herb garden, or wildcrafted in the woods around the farm.  Or ordered from responsible companies that believe in quality organic free-trade products.  Fresh herbs on request.
  • Candied Ginger!  Hard to find, yes, yummy natural candy, yes, works great for stomachaches and motion sickness, yes!
  • Herbal pet products.  I have developed a "hot spot" treatment for dogs!  Worked on my pups and has no harsh chemicals!  We will eventually carry a home made doggie shampoo.
  • Fresh Granola, chocked full of wholesome ingredients.  Our specialty is a granola that is nut and seed free.  Wonderful cereal for those suffering from diverticulitis.
  • Falster Farms local honey
  • We will special order....I love to hunt for those hard to find herbs and spices.  Need fresh Vanilla beans?  Whole star anise?  Or an unusual type of curry powder?  Let me know and I will try to find it for you and/or carry it in the store.
See those yellow green buds?
Those are day lily buds and they are edible!
Delicious, rare or stir fried!

  • We have lots of great products coming in the near future!  Soaps, bath salts, vitamins and minerals, jams, jellies and relishes, whole foods, packaged and in bulk, hand-made house hold products and crafts, sustainable farming products, books and magazines.  The sky is the limit on what this little herb shop will eventually carry.  Let us know what you would like to see in this store!
Okay, enough for now!  Cousin Sandra and I have been down with a summer cold or allergies, yuck!  Woke up last night with an unbelievable sore throat.  Took about 2 dropperful of StarDragonfly Herbals Sore throat/cough tincture with 1 tsp. honey and a dropper of SDH Elderberry tincture.  Amazing!  I love herbal medicine!  Hope to see you Friday evening!  Herbally, Susan

I'm a big fan of dreams.  Unfortunately, dreams are our first casualty in life - people seem to give them up, quicker than anything, for a 'reality.'

Kevin Costner
Border Collie and Sheep
Art Print

Monday, June 4, 2012

Mullein Flowers and a Folk Remedy

Welcome to the wild, and wonderful
world that is my "herb" garden!
Zinnias and Black-eyed Susan line the
garden path.
Sister Belle watches over farm
life from the shade of the Oak tree.
Morn'in, All!  Well, thank you to all that inquired about Ann and her dealings with the Copperhead.  Believe it or not, she went to work Monday morning! Ann owns Groomingdale's Pet Salon in Sulphur Springs.  She drank lots of water to flush the venom out of her system, took her prescription meds, used the Echinacea tincture for several days and has been putting Comfrey salve on her foot and wrapping it with a towel.  We are all so happy that her recovery has gone so well.  I feel this is a very good example of Modern and Folk medicine working together for the good of the patient.

This week we are actually going to spend some time foraging in the garden.  The mullein plants have been in full bloom for about 2 weeks.  So, let's learn a little about Mullein and make some Mullein infused oil.

Genus Verbascum
also known as Velvet plant


"The flowers and leaves are anodyne (relieves or soothes pain by lessening the sensitivity of the nervous system), antiseptic (agent used to remove pathogenic microorganisms and to remove pus, blood, etc.), astringent (agent that constricts and binds by coagulation of proteins a cell surface), demulcent (soothing action on inflammation, especially mucous membranes), emollient (softens and soothes the skin)expectorant (facilitates removal of secretions) and vulenary (used to heal wounds).  An infusion is used internally in the treatment of various respiratory complaints including coughs, bronchitis, asthma and throat irritations.  An infusion of the fresh or dried flowers in olive oil is used to treat earaches, sores, wounds, boils, etc.  The plant is harvested when in flower and should be dried quickly and with care or it will lose its medicinal qualities." http://www.naturalmedicinalherbs.net

If you make yourself a tea from the fresh mullein leaves, I would suggest straining it through a coffee filter (organic, of course) because the hairs on the leaves can be irritating.

Mullein Flowers

Historical uses.....Mullein has had an important and varied role throughout history.  The Greeks, Romans, British and Native Americans have all used mullein to treat a number of conditions, from a mild cough to bronchitis and asthma.  The dried stalks of mullein have also been used as torches.  The flowers can be used to create bright yellow or green dyes, which were used by the ancient Romans to color hair, according to "Healing Teas" by Marie Nadine Antol."  Livestrong.com article by Jonathon Thompson.  And if you are into Greek mythology...Ulysses was supposed to have carried mullein to protect himself from the evil Circe (Circe transformed her enemies, or those who offended her, into animals through the use of magical potions.  She was known for her vast knowledge of drugs and herbs.)  Hmmm.....  Okay, now......what could have happened was that Ulysses feet hurt because of those long marches, so he padded his sandals with mullein leaves for some cushioning.  And being a Hero and All, he was probably embarrassed to tell his buds so he made up the story about the evil Circe. (My apologies to all those experts in Greek Mythology!) If you would like to read more about Ulysses and Circe here is a link... http://www.pantheon.org/articles/u/ulysses.html.
Circe and Ulysses
The hogs are Ulysses' men that
she "reportedly" turned into hogs.
Mullein Flower Ear Oil      

"Mullein flower ear oil, made with fresh live mullein flowers and unopened floral buds, is very effective for painful symptom relief from earaches caused by inspissated (thick or dense) earwax, especially in young children whose cerumen (ear wax)production and secretion is still being perfected.  Very warm (105 degree F) mullein oil is droppered into the outer ear canal. (ummm, I would not put "droppersful" in a child's ear....start with 5-10 drops every hour and for a child, I would prefer the oil to be a little cooler, say 98 degrees F)  Garlic oil is sometimes added to the mullein 

Jar filled with Mullein
flowers and buds.

earache oil.  A subsequent puddle of yellow to dark orange cerumen on the morning pillow is diagnostic for the mechanical problem of wax-impacted ear canals and a great teaching opportunity for the attending parents.  Occasionally little or no ear wax is out flooded indicating more serious ear problems, even though the warm mullein or mullein/garlic oil has reduced the pain." Ryan Drum, Herbmentor.com

Triple-oleated Mullein Flower Oil

Recipe from Kahlee Keane -  Root Woman

This is an excellent oil....if you are going to make it the old-fashion solar power way, well, it is going to take several weeks.  If you need it, like, yesterday....put oil and flowers in top of a double boiler and cook for 45 minutes (gently simmer the water in boiler). Make sure you COOL the oil. If you have the mullein
Mullein Flowers and buds read for
chopping.  I waited a few minutes to let all the
bugs escape.  I chop the herbs to a fine consistency
then put in a clean jar.  And yes, that is a cheese

flowers and the time, go ahead and do the process 2 more times....if not the first time should work.  Also, feel free to add some garlic cloves to the oil. Garlic is antiseptic and a whole lot of other herbal medicinal properties, but we will talk about that another time.

I realize the instructions say
put a lid on the jar.  Well, when I
make "infused oils"  from fresh herbs instead
of dried herbs, I always use a paper
towel over the jar.  You don't want
any water to form in your jars and
I was taught to do it this way.
Honestly, I have never had any
trouble making oils using fresh or dried
herbs, lid or paper towel, as long as I
was extra careful to make sure no water
got anywhere near my oils.
  • Collect a cupful of the fresh flowers, after the morning dew has evaporated and before the heat of the day.  (If you live in the South, that will be after the steam has evaporated and just before you faint from the heat!)
  • Put in a clean glass jar and cover with olive oil.
  • Place jar in a sunny window or outside in the sun for 10-14 days, shaking often. (or use the heat method described above, please note that I only use the heat method if I need my oil NOW, otherwise I use the old-fashioned solar method.)
  • After this time period, press and strain the oil.
  • Repeat the procedure 2 more times using the same oil to cover more freshly picked flowers (add a little more oil if needed).
  • After your final infusion, strain, cork and store the medicine in a cool dark place ready for use.  (LABEL!  Always LABEL!)
If you take care of children, pets or the elderly, I highly recommend you make yourself some of this oil or keep it handy.  It is not something you can run down to Walmart and buy.  Let me know and I will make you some Triple-oleate Mullein Oil.  

Her cheeks look a little irritated!
I think she used mullein leaf
to get that rosy glow!
Okay, enough for today.  There is a lot more information on Mullein than I can cover in the post today!  The Mullein is from Europe and Asia and has naturalized itself to the United States.  It is considered a Texas Wildflower but not a native.  "It is said the Romans dipped its dried flower stalks in animal tallow to use as torches. Victorian women rubbed the leaves on their cheeks, slightly irritating their skin, to add a dash of blush.  Early settlers and American Indians placed the soft woolly leaves in footwear for warmth and comfort"  Wildflowers of Texas Field Guide by Bowers and Tekiela

Okay, okay, I will stop now!

StarDragonfly Herb Company
"The little herb shop on Elm street"

StarDragonfly Herb Company will be opening June 15, 2012.  That is the 3rd Friday in Winnsboro, which means the stores will be open late and there will be music!  SHC will open at10 am until 8 pm that evening.  We will have speakers, herbal products, local products and local crafts for sale.  Stop by and have a glass of good old Texas ice tea with herbs added and some herbal snacks.  The snacks will be served from 6-8 pm.

The Winnsboro Farmer's Market will be having an Ice Cream Social and Homemade Ice Cream Making Contest....June 16th....for details please call.....903-629-3332.  I will have more info about this COOL event next week!  Dust off your granny's ice cream recipe and get out that old ice cream maker!  And make some ice cream!  Oh, and if you need a taste tester....pick me! pick me!

So, until later...have a lovely day, stop by the store and visit, I will put on the kettle and we will have a cup of herbal tea and a chat!  Herbally yours, Susan

Flowers have an expression of countenance as much as men and animals.  Some seem to smile; some have a sad expression; some are pensive and diffident; others again are plain, honest and upright, like the broad-faced sunflower and the holly hock.
Henry Ward Beecher