We should all know more about the natural medicines in our midst. Am I wrong!? Tanya Stiller is an educator at The Ohlone Center for Herbal Studies as well as the Edible Schoolyard. She showed us Pedicularis densiflora, commonly known as betony, an herbal medicinal that is especially meaningful to her. It's a rare herbal medicinal because it has properties that help to release muscle tension in the body. Not many other herbs can do that. We harvested Pedicularis densiflora in the East Bay hills in Richmond and El Sobrante in early early spring, when the flowers were a bright brilliant purple pink magenta color scattered all over the floor of the oak and manzanita forest. Afterward, we made our way to Tanya's in Berkeley where she showed us how she makes the medicinal tincture she uses to treat herself and her community.
Pedicularis densiflora grows in oak and manzanita forests. Because it can parasitize on the roots, it's important to be aware of the plants growing nearby. If it has parasitized on a plant, it can take on properties from it's host. So if you see it growing next to poison oak, for example, take care.
Harvest the flower and greenery down to the first leaves.
100 grams Pedicularis densiflora
200 milliliters of pure grain alcohol
Roughly chop and then blend the flowers to break them down. In a large mason jar, combine the processed herbs with pure grain alcohol (190 proof). The alcohol will break down the herb thereby extracting the medicinal properties from the plant. Close the lid and leave the mixture to sit for 2-3 weeks.
Use a fine (medical grade, if you can get it) cheesecloth and put your back into it. Squeeze every last drop of that medicine into a clean jar. Take it orally in tea, water or straight. Check with an herbalist to determine the correct dosage for you.