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Summer Solstice Reflections from Germany

Guten Tag!

This summer, I'm visiting Germany with my significant other. We've taken walks almost every day, partially because we do not have a car and rely on public transit. Every day we go out, I notice different herbs growing along side walks and even in crop fields. In my opinion, it looks much better than mowed lawns. The sidewalks here are fragrant, except when passing the dump or the sewer of course.

Sunset in corn field near Bad Homburg.


Here's a photo journal of what I've seen so far:

Chamomile is used often in teas to soothe anxiety, a sleep aid, and gastrointestinal issues. It's classified as an adaptogen, meaning it is a non-toxic substance helps mitigate stress through central nervous system stimulation and stress reduction pathways related to cortisol. If you're allergic to daisies, you may be allergic to chamomile! It makes a delicious tea and I often drink it with milk and honey.

St. John's Wort has been used to treat a variety of illnesses, but has been most heavily researched for its use to treat mild depression,although results are mixed. Research shows that it is NOT effective in treating moderate to severe depression. It's name comes from John the Baptist because it blooms around the feast of St. John the Baptist in June. This herb may also be a remedy for menopause symptoms, anxiety, OCD, nerve pain, and wound healing. This herb negatively interacts with some forms of medication, rendering medicine ineffective or causing severe side effects. Drugs that do not mix well with this herb include birth control, digitoxin, among others. With any herbal medication, be transparent with your physician about what you're taking, especially this herb.

Chicory was used historically by Egyptians as a coffee substitute and vegetable crop. The root contains 40% inulin and has been used to treat metabolic disorders such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and kidney disease. It also may help with gastrointestinal issues. Having a bitter taste, they're paired with garlic and anchovies and used in dishes in Greece and Albania. It contains phenolic acids with anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant qualities.

Lavender is one of my favorite herbs. It's commonly used in aromatherapy to treat nervous disorders, headaches, and fatigue. It's also found in salts, oils, and topicals to treat muscle pain.

This herb can negatively interact with narcotics, while strengthening the effects of anti-depressants. Lavender has also been used to alleviate respiratory conditions such as asthma, in addition to skin conditions like eczema. I love using it in my stress reduction routine.

Common Mallow is used to soothe throat and mouth. In medieval times it was considered a "cure-all" herb. It's also been used as a laxative and for liver and blood purification. It has a high level of Vitamin A and C, carotenoids, and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. It is full of antioxidants and a source of fiber.

Can you guess which Schedule II Controlled Substance this is? Yes! This is an Opium Poppy! I found it growing in someone's backyard! Now, before we assume Germans are living wild with poppies growing in their backyards, I did find out that you can grow them legally with a license and for culinary purposes. Poppy seeds are after all very yummy on bread and muffins. The seeds are not going to give you a high. The milky sap from the opium plant is what is used to make heroin, morphine, and other narcotics. Did you know that heroin is one methyl group different from heroin? Another name for heroin is diamorphine. The difference between morphine and diamorphine, is a diacetyl group which increases lipid solubility. This means that heroin/diamorphine can cross the blood brain barrier faster than morphine, making the euphoric effects occur faster. Prescription opioids have similar effects to heroin. Heroin was actually created by the same research team that invented aspirin, Friedrich Bayer, yes, German. It was intended to be used as a cough suppressant and to treat lung disease.

It was not always illegal, given that it was commonly traded on the Silk Road between Europe and Asia. Like other abused medicines, the poppy has become associated with one of the most addictive drugs. It is such a beautiful plant, with a complicated history as a result of abuse by people. Needless to say, I will not be bringing any back with me through US Customs.

I hope that you enjoy

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