Just when you thought the holidays were over, along comes Valentine’s Day. While it may seem like just another commercial holiday, Valentine’s Day is an important reminder to send love to others and to ourselves. It’s a time for us herbalists to remember how we can use herbs to support our hearts, both physically and spiritually through medicinal formulas and self-care rituals.
Herbs for the Heart Space
Rose (Rosa spp.) grows as a beautiful shrub with an array of pink and red flowers. Around Valentine’s Day, you’ll probably see an abundance of different species in local markets, some medicinal and others that are prized for their beauty. This marriage between roses and the symbol of love is nothing new. In Roman times brides and grooms were crowned symbolically with roses. These flowers are often used for aromatherapy purposes, and as an astringent to tone and tighten tissues.* After the flower has withered, rose hips appear on the shrub, growing into plump little capsules of vitamin C.* We love using this plant in our self-care rituals. As an essential oil, its luscious aroma enhances herbal creams, and the petals can be infused into a relaxing herbal bath. It’s wonderfully decadent!
Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) trees are known for their bright red berries, which can be used as a cardiac tonic.* The classic book, The Language of Flowers, states that this plant can be used as a symbol of hope. It was often hung over doorways in medieval times to ward off evil spirits. These heart healthy berries can be found in teas, tinctures, jams, jellies, and alcoholic herbal elixirs. We make Hawthorn with Hibiscus tea, a delicious, fruity and tart red tea that can be used to promote heart health.*
Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca) is a plant that can be used to promote relaxation, heart health, and the female reproductive system.* The leaves and aerial parts of the plant were used to nurture those experiencing “hysteria” in the olden days, and its name nods to its inherent maternal energy. The iconic 17th century herbalist, Culpeper, states that “There is no better herb [than motherwort] to drive melancholy vapors from the heart, to strengthen it and make the mind cheerful, blithe and merry.” The leaves can be used to make tea, and it’s easy to find in tincture form if you’re looking for something simple and easy to carry around with you.
Damiana (Turnera diffusa) was traditionally used to promote a healthy libido.* The leaves have been used medicinally in Central and South American cultures for hundreds of years. It’s said that the first margarita cocktails made in Mexico were created with damiana liqueur. You can still find the liqueur, often sold in a glass bottle shaped like a pregnant Incan goddess, which could be interpreted as symbol of fertility. This herb can be tinctured and used as a tea, but it’s more commonly found in herbal cocktails or cordials.
Whether you choose to start using these herbs for the heart space or to whip up something tasty like our Rosewater and Damiana Lover’s Truffles, we invite you to celebrate love during this month of February.