My year has not started off as I planned, as the ringing in of 2017 has struck me with nothing worse than an ended relationship and a broken heart. Now, I do believe in life's heartbreaks, gifts and mysteries, and that wanting things to be another way steals from the present moment. But even when my mind found grounded rationale, my heart-center sobbed heavily like an inconsolable child. This emotional seat and intuitive organ shouted endlessly for days, and then it sat physically sore, cramped, and sad in my chest. This felt painful, but it also felt powerful and profound.
There is a learning experience to healing the saddened heart, which requires one to become quiet to oneself, to stop thinking in words, and to tend to the aching animal body. Lick your wounds; recount your passions. If, by chance, your heart feels numb to its purpose, this is all the more a reason to work with it energetically.
Perhaps you're experiencing a different sort of emotional struggle, like difficulty finding focus in your professional life or waning motivation to maintain your 2017 resolutions. Whatever the challenge, healing the heart is the place to start. The heart is the strongest generator of electrical and magnetic fields in the body, and these two fields are what create our perceived world. Energetically speaking, it is therefore most important to heal your heart, so that you can again move your life from your heart space, your soul-center, into the highest source of your eternal flame and soul-purpose.
Here enters the ancient and profound consciousness of healing plants. Evolutionarily speaking, plants are our predecessors. They possess nature's inherent regenerative knowledge that humans have also inherited and that our bodies still understand at the deepest levels. Below, you'll find a list of six herbs that will individually and collectively heal whatever malady your heart is facing, be it heartbreak, grief, jealousy, greed, sadness, stress or a lost soul-purpose. Expect to feel supportive changes physically, energetically, emotionally and spiritually as you shift into a high state of awareness and remembrance. At the end, you'll also see suggestions for several ways to source and use the herbs you choose.
1) Hawthorn (Crataegus spp.)
As a member of the rose family, this plant species (highly noted for cardiovascular health in herbal medicine) "gladdens" the heart while calming the nerves. Hawthorn is the renowned herbalist Rosemary Gladstar's favorite remedy for sadness, grief and loss or times when the heart needs a bit of extra protection.
Tip: Hawthorn's berries, leaves, twigs and flower buds can make for excellent tinctures, elixirs, teas or capsules, but if you're a newbie to herbal medicine, it's perfect to begin with a simple and easy dried herbal tea.
2) Rose (Rosa spp.)
Throughout thousands of years of history, the cultural role of roses has been one of reverence, divinity and purification. Energetically, roses help quell stress by connecting you to your heart-center, growing your sense of self-love, and reminding you to enjoy life. Rose is the motherly herb to nurture your heart and make it feel safe. Even the beautiful rose itself is a meditative mandala-like representation of a soft but stout heart that is open yet protected.
Tip: Use only organic, fair-trade roses, because commercial roses are notorious for chemical contamination and unfair trade practices.
3) Linden (Tilia spp.)
Tasting like sweet honey with a hint of tart cherry, the linden tree's leaves and flowers have a long reputation as a calming heart tonic with moistening, cooling, relaxing actions. Young leaves of the linden tree can even be eaten as salad greens.
Tip: Try creating an infused honey using dried leaves and flowers. Also, linden leaves can lose their potency quickly, so make sure that your sourcing is fresh!
4) Hibiscus (Hibiscus sabdariffa)
Fruity hibiscus flower sepals are packed with antioxidants that our heart and cells love, and just three cups of steeped hibiscus per day have been shown to lower hypertension in adults. The energetic properties of hibiscus are sensual, cooling and pleasureful, tending to the pangs of a stressed or saddened heart.
Tip: As a tea, hibiscus pairs well with cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, lemon juice or mint, as well as some honey for sweetening.
5) Passionflower (Passiflora incarnate)
Passionflower gently relaxes all body systems, so enjoy it before bed. Its influence on the nervous system and gentle sedative effects are good for relieving insomnia, anxieties and irritabilities. Helpful for a fragile heart, the medicinal flowering parts can be taken in tincture, tea or capsule form.
Tip: Almost everyone tolerates this herb well, but use caution during pregnancy and with sedative and cardiac drugs. If you are experiencing true depression, this herb may be too sedating and is not advised.
6) Holy Basil (Ocimum sanctum, syn. O. tenuflorum)
Sanctum, holy basil's species name, reflects the sacred nature of this plant as a great protector in Indian culture. Its leaves and flowering tops calm and energize the heart and nervous system, relieve anxiety and grief, and balance stress hormones — consider it meditation in a cup. Emotionally, it will help you feel hopeful again, guide the heart to experience gratitude for what is, and help you grow in tune with what your soul-purpose calls for.
Tip: When you feel ready for something of a gently stimulating nature, this herb can be blended with a green tea to amplify your energy levels. This is a generally safe herb, but do not use it while pregnant without professional supervision.
Where to buy your herbs:
To choose and purchase your herbs, you can search for a trusted community herbalist to work with or try the bulk herb section of a health foods store like Whole Foods or the homeopathic/bulk herb section of a local food co-op. Most chain grocery stores carry organic tea brand options. MountainRoseHerbs.com is an excellent online source for purchasing trustworthy dried herbs among other herbal items, and it also places importance on sustainable harvesting practices. Respected plants make the best medicine.
How to use your herbs:
Combine a teaspoon of each of the listed herbs to steep 10-15 minutes for a gentle and lovely tonic tea blend that will help your heart sing again (but remember- if you’re adding passionflower, only do so before bed). Add raw honey for some additional sweetness. Enjoy 2-3 cups per day for about a month, and honor when it is time to move forward from the healing that these plants have granted you.
p.s. Another of our favorite herbal remedies: this natural product to soothe chapped skin, all winter long.