Thursday, May 22, 2008

Heavenly Honeysuckle

Is there anything so wonderful as the smell of honeysuckle? With its heady scent hinting of coconut and gardenia, it makes every spring breeze a luscious, sensual delight.

Our farm used to be overrun with honeysuckle vines (everywhere, that is, that wasn't already overrun with poison ivy vines!), but the sheep find it so tasty that it is now all gone except for several healthy vines that tangled themselves in our enormous boxwoods, out of the reach of sheep.

Even the few plants that are left are making our whole yard smell delicious right now. The flowers make a wonderful herbal tea, very healthy, and it makes you feel good just because it tastes as wonderful as it smells.

Honeysuckle doesn't dry well for use as tea. Even after a VERY long time in a high-quality food dehydrator, I've found that the flowers have a tendency to mold if stored over the winter. So this year I collected a ziplock bag of flowers, which I'm going to try freezing, to see if that preserves them better.

Since I'm prone to long bouts of bronchitis every time I get the smallest cold or flu, I've done a lot of research on herbs and natural remedies that can help. Honeysuckle-Hyssop tea, sweetened with honey is one of my favorites. It tastes SO good!

Here's part of what the Peterson Guide to Eastern/Central Medicinal Plants and Herbs, by Steven Foster and James A. Duke, has to say about honeysuckle:

Leaves and flowers a beverage tea (Japan). Flowers traditionally used (in e. Asia) in tea for bacterial dysentery, enteritis, laryngitis, colds, fevers, flu; externally as a wash for rheumatism, sores, tumors (especially breast cancer), infected boils, scabies, swelling. Stem tea is weaker. Experimentally, flower extracts lower cholesterol; also antiviral, antibacterial, tuberculostatic. Widely used in prescriptions and patent medicines in Traditional Chinese Medicine to treat colds and flu. Pills are made from floral concentrates. Both authors have used such preparations for bronchitis, colds, and flu. When Echinacea or Garlic have failed against flu, Jim Duke has used the plant as a last resort. Flowers contain at least a dozen antiviral compounds. With the rapid evolution of viruses, synergistic combinations of phytochemicals, such as those found in Japanese Honeysuckle, are less liable to lead to resistant strains than solitary chemical compounds. This serious weed might be managed by using it for proven medicinal purposes.
Such a wonderful gift from the land: something so beautiful to see and smell that makes good sheep feed and helps cure you when you're sick!


Anonymous said...

thanks for that!

Bainbridge Island flowers

Anonymous said...

Here from Arnold, MO. I started with this cold/flu on Thursday, steadily getting worse, moving to chest, bronchitis now. Tons of honeysuckle in back yard. Going out to pick some now and infuse(?) into a tea solution to try cuz I can't feel any more miserable than I do now. Will be back with results. I am a nurse, but love to find successful herbal, natural solutions!

Nancy Chase said...

Good luck, Karen. I hope it helps. I know how miserable bronchitis is!

Another herb that I have not tried myself, but my sister swears by to help clear bronchial congestion, is marshmallow root.

If nothing else, at least the honeysuckle tastes delicious!