Herbs

MISTLETOE, Viscum album

A few mistletoe species grow out of the ground like any other bush or plant. However, most of the mistletoe plants are parasites. In other words, they attach themselves to different kinds of trees. Then they suck out their nourishment or sap from that tree.


The insides if mistletoe berries are very sticky. They are indigestible, but birds eat them anyway. Then, they wipe their breaks on a branch of a tree, or they leave their droppings on a branch. The very sticky seed sticks to the branch of the tree. As the seed starts to grow, it sends down a root that digs into the bark of the tree for its sap or food. The mistletoe is a very different plant.


Many superstitions existed during the time of the Druids. One involved a mistletoe plant. It seems someone said they saw a flash of lightning and a light descend and come to rest on one upper branch of a huge oak tree. On this selfsame spot, a huge mistletoe plant grew. To everyone in all the Isles of England and in Brittany, the oak tree was a very special tree with very special healing powers. Now the mistletoe would be even greater because it would also have the powers of this mighty oak tree.


The Druids watched this clump of mistletoe grow until very late in December. They waited and when the moon was in just the right sign, it was time to harvest the sacred mistletoe. Everyone gathered around the tree with much anticipation. A group came forth clad in white robes. One had a golden knife. He ascended the tree, and with great ceremony he separated the mistletoe from the oak tree with his golden knife. After he had brought the mistletoe from the oak tree with his golden knife. After he had brought the mistletoe down safely, he suspended it from a branch for all to see. They all danced in a circle around the giant oak tree and sang the tune of “Hey Derry down, down, down, Derry.” Then they all joined in a celebration. It is said, that in the spirit of celebration, some paused under the mistletoe and stole a kiss.


This was the “golden bough,” the giver of life. It would protect anyone who possessed one of its twigs or branches from all evil and danger, and make him invincible. They planted mistletoe on oak trees because it took on some attributes of the oak tree. Soon mistletoe from an oak tree was in demand all over Europe.


The mistletoe is a perennial plant with green leaves and white berries. It should be used with caution, as it is highly toxic, especially the berries. Use the leaves and twigs. Gather before the berry ripens. In the winter, seeing this green mass of twigs and leaves of the mistletoe plant growing on a tree that is bare, looks quite strange.


Down through the ages, mistletoe has been used as a nervine, anti-spasmodic and nerve tonic. Ancient doctors like Hippocrates and Pliny used mistletoe to cue vertigo and epilepsy. When the Druids first gathered mistletoe from the oak tree, they used it for palsy and convulsions. It has been used to relieve neuralgia, calm hysteria and soothe delirium. As a nerve herb, it could feed and calm the nerves. Mistletoe is used in Grandma's herbal Nervine formula. It will feed, build and soothe the nerves. However, mistletoe is more than just a nerve herb. For centuries, the humble mistletoe has been used for many different health problems. Some older herb books show it being used for lowering blood pressure. Mistletoe has also been combined with other herbs and used as a cardiac for many problems of the heart. It is diuretic that will help the kidneys and help to purge water out of the body. Mistletoe is also an emetic. If you take too much, it will make you throw up. In centuries past, mistletoe was used for cholera. In the middle ages, St. Hildegarde recommended it for gout and chest ailments. Bavarian herbalist Abbot Kneipp prescribed it for hemorrhages and disorders of the circulatory system.
Not bad for an herb that steals its food from another plant.
 

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