Copyright © 1990 - 2016 by Robert Dale Rogers. All rights reserved.
No portion of this book, except for a brief review, may be reproduced, or copied and transmitted, without permission of author. This book is for educational purposes only. The suggestions, recipes and historical information are not meant to replace a medical advisor. The author assumes no liability for unwise or unsafe usage by readers of this book.
FIREWEED WILLOW HERB
(Epilobium angustifolium L.)
(Chamerion angustifolium [L.] Holub.)
(E. halleanum Haussknecht)
(E. glandulosum Lehm)
(E. ciliatum Raf.)
(E. adenocaulon Hausskn.)
RIVER BEAUTY WICK UP
(E. latifolium L.)
(C. latifolium [L.] Holub)
MARSH WILLOW HERB
(E. palustre L.)
(E. alpinum L.)
(E. anagallidifolium Lam.)
PYGMY FIREWEED SMOOTH BOISDUVALIA
(E. pygmaeum [Speg] Hoch & P. H. Raven)
PARTS USED - leaves, stems, buds, flowers, fluff and roots.
And only where the forest fires have sped,
Scorching relentlessly the cool north lands,
A sweet wild flower lifts its purple head,
And, like some gentle spirit sorrow-fed,
It hides the scars with almost human hands.
TEKAHIONWAK (PAULINE JOHNSON)
With many curve my banks I fret
By many field and follow
And many a fairy foreland set,
With Willowweed and Mallow.
ALFRED LORD TENNYSON
Epilobium is from EPI meaning upon, and LOBIUM pod, lobon, or capsule. It refers to new flowers being superior, or on top of the seedpods. Boisduvalia is in honour of Jean Alphones Boisduval, a 19th century French naturalist and author of a floral book in France. Angustifolium means narrow-leaved.
Fireweed is perhaps derived from the German FEUERKRAUT, the name given by Gesner in 1561, for a plant that flourishes on ground cleared by fire.
In England, the common name Bombweed was given for the quick manner of its colonization of bombsites.
The Cree call it IHKAPASKWA, and noted it flowered when the moose were fattening and mating. Other names include ASKAPASK, ATHKAPASK, and AKAPUSKWAH.
The root was macerated and applied to boils or infections. The leaves were plastered on bruises. The raw roots were a popular native food source. Even the summer stem was split open with the thumbnail or between the teeth, to extract the inner edible “pith”.
It tastes a bit like cucumber but is very sweet and can give a sugar buzz when needed.
The Kamtschadalis of eastern Russia boiled the plant with fish and used the leaves as tea. The pith was scraped out with shells, tied in bundles and sun-dried. Known as KIPRI, it was boiled into thick, sweet wort and used to make QUAFFE, a fermented drink of malted rye, flour and wild mint.
Six pounds of Kipri was mixed with one pound of cow parsnip stalks and fermented for vinegar.
Fireweed is a popular food of moose, with one study showing more than 70% of the rumen content during July to October consisting of fireweed, birch twigs and blueberry leaves.
The Woods Cree of Saskatchewan made a tea of the whole plant for intestinal parasites. The root can be crushed and applied to boils or abscesses, or to draw out infection from open wounds.
The root is used by the Cree of Wabasca, Alberta as part of a decoction to reveal whether or not a woman is pregnant.
If the decoction, when drunk, causes a violent nosebleed she’s pregnant. Otherwise, menstruation will begin.
The Blackfoot rubbed fireweed flowers on their mittens and rawhide thongs as waterproofing. The inner pith from the stems was dried, powdered and rubbed on the hands and face as protective talc from winter’s icy grip.
The Ojibwa call it ZHOSHKIDJEEBIK, or OJA’CIDJI’BIK meaning “slippery root”, or “soap root”.
They would moisten and pound the root until it lathered up and applied it as a poultice to bruises, boils, furuncles and sores. An alternate name is KÊGI’NANO’KÛK meaning “sharp pointed weed”.
The northern Chipewyan call fireweed, GON DHI’ELE meaning Fire New Branch. Natives of Nunavut ate the tops of PAUNNAIT as summer food. The young stems are full of sweet water and can be sucked out. Sophie Thomas a Sai’Kuz elder and herbalist suggests drying the root and then cooking (decocting) to treat asthma.
Many native groups including the Gitksan used this syrup as a type of glue to keep their berry rolls stuck together. When not available, they would use bunchberries as glue.
It is called HAAST. The K’ILHAAST, or single fireweed, was the first totem pole, and GISK’AAST is the name of one of the four Pdeek or Clans of the Gitksan. One totem pole of Kitsequecia shows the flower as a crest, and fireweed was used as the name of a clan or society within the tribe.
The fireweed was first chewed and crushed to remove all the sour juice. The ground fireweed was often mixed with seal blood and then oil to make ALUK.
Various tribes rubbed the fresh leaves on bowstrings to help preserve them. The Thompson from British Columbia used the small twisted roots as good luck charms.
The Haida peeled the young shoots and ate them to purify their blood, make them handsome, or to “move stuff around one’s insides”, referring to a tonic and laxative effect.
The shoots are split with the thumbnail and then the tender inside is scraped out with the bottom teeth. The Dena’ina of Alaska place the raw stem on cuts or boils to draw the pus and prevent infection.
A decoction of the aerial parts was used in parts of Alaska and throughout the Arctic to initiate breast milk secretion. Birket-Smith, The Chugach Eskimo 1953.
Newcombe in 1897 noted that cordage is made from the stem fibers. “From the fibrous skin or bark after the outer layer ad been go rid of by prolonged immersion in water, a string used to be spun, which was afterwards made into nets.”
According to Swanston (1905) a game called “Woman’s Pubic Bones”, used fireweed stalks as an item of wager. Sounds like an interesting game!
Fireweed is a healer of burns, including mother earth. Whenever forest fires have devastated, the beautiful magenta blooms begin the healing process, and prepare the soil for willow and poplar to follow. Fireweed is indifferent to soil pH, and is adaptable to both acidic and alkaline soils.
The fireweed starts flowering from the bottom up, each blossom lasting only two days. On the first, it produces sticky turquoise colored pollen, and on the second no pollen, but is receptive to fertilization and gives off a strong fragrance from its nectar. Older blossoms contain more nectar, giving bees a drink first, before they climb up to scrape pollen out of the younger flowers.
The stickiness of the turquoise pollen is due to a lipoid coating, pollenkitt, and viscin threads. This helps ensure cross-pollination, with each plant capable of producing up to 45,000 seeds.
Early French settlers called the young shoots ASPERGE and steamed them as an early green. The unopened buds can be added to salads, or pickled like capers for winter. Fireweed was introduced back to Europe, where today it remains a popular vegetable. Fireweed contains 90 times the Vitamin A and 4 times the Vitamin C of oranges.
In Greenland, the leaves are combined with seal blubber for a spicy treat.
Research in Sweden found the roots are an acceptable survival food if soaked in ash water for several hours.
The Inuit have been reported to eat the roots, after boiling. Further south, the Algonquin grated the fresh root as a poultice to eliminate furuncles.
The fluff from ripened pods is used as tinder to start fires; and when carbonized is extremely susceptible to the smallest spark or heat friction. Wick up refers to the use of rolled fluff as a wilderness candlewick inserted in tallow or other fat.
This insulating factor of fluff was utilized by many peoples including natives of Puget Sound that wove the fluff with mountain goat hair, to make blankets.
Other tribes used duck feather cattail/fireweed combinations. Down feathers and fireweed fluff make excellent comforters. Dog hair is used when nothing else is available.
It makes an excellent wilderness bandage combined with balsam pitch; and the best of wilderness candle wicks that do not carbonize.
The outer, mature stem fibers are very tough and can be twisted into snare cordage, and is usable but inferior to dogbane.
It should be peeled off the stem and dried in June or July, before the plant flowers, and stems become too hard. Later, the dried strips are soaked in water and twisted or spun into twine for nets, or to make pack straps. Six or more strands require braiding to make a string that possesses any great strength.
The Cheyenne of Montana call it red medicine. A tea from the root and leaves was taken for rectal hemorrhage.
The natives of Kamchatka made stupefying ale from fireweed. They combined fireweed pith, cow parsnip stems, unripe bog blueberries and dried Amanita muscaria mushroom in a fermented drink. See my book The Fungal Pharmacy: The Complete Guide to Medicinal Mushrooms and Lichens of North America for more information.
Dried Fireweed leaf tea is relaxing and calmative, reminiscent of green tea, but caffeine free. An oven roasted leaf tea from Russia is called Kurilski Chai, Kapoorie or Kurile Tea. The fresh leaf tea is sour and not particularly pleasant. In Siberia, the leaves are first fermented and used for tea. It is called John’s Tea, or IVAN CHAI.
The roots may be roasted and prepared as a coffee substitute. Fireweed honey is an important commercial bee product, with a distinctive buttery, caramel taste. Sugar yields from individual flowers range from 0.66 mg per flower per day to over 4.0 mg; with yields increasing with temperature up to 24 degrees Celsius, and decreasing thereafter. Flower life is 5-6 days at 14 degrees Celsius. Work in Russia reports honey production as high as 10,000 kilos per hectare, an unbelievable, and unlikely, yield.
Fireweed is the floral emblem of Yukon. White-flowered variations are probably the result of mutation from radiation near uranium deposits, and in the wild may well help geologists find these sources.
When additional nitrogen is made available to the plant, a noted increase in asparagine and glutamine is found.
One unusual experiment, carried out in Russia in 1972, was the injection of a water extract from fireweed racemes into the stem of a barley variety.
This led to early maturation, increased resistance to lodging, and a higher protein content in the grain.
In Quebec, the flowering of fireweed signals the optimal time to pick the ripe, mature seed cones of white spruce.
Hall’s Willow Herb is rare, but found around Lesser Slave Lake. The flower is white, often fading to pink, with distinct fireweed leaves, and found on moist ground, or in the wet boreal forest. I thought I had discovered a new species, but alas, it was named long ago.
River Beauty (E. latifolium) inner stems were a choice edible of the Bella Coola people. The Inuit of Baffin Island call it Broad-leaved Willow Herb, Dwarf Fireweed, or PAUNNAT. The leaves are eaten raw or mixed with fat, while the flowers are mixed with crowberries, blood and oil.
In Greenland, the plant is known as NIVIAQSIAQ meaning “little girl, and is considered the national flower emblem. Epilobium glandulosum was used by Hopi healers as an analgesic for leg pain. The Navaho-Kayenta used plant infusions as a lotion and the roots as a poultice for muscular cramps. The Potawatomi tribe used root infusions to help stop diarrhea. The name was bitter weed or WISIGI-BAG.
Pygmy Fireweed is found on mud flats, especially alkaline clays on the prairies. Its small flowers are similar to those of River beauty, but the leaves are lance-shaped with small teeth.
Marsh Fireweed, according to Dr. Millspaugh, is “a mild tonic and astringent, quite useful in slight types of diarrhea and dysentery attended with colic, cramps in the stomach, and light typhoid abdominal symptoms.”
The seed hairs (fluff) are applied as a styptic in Traditional Chinese Medicine, where the plant is one of several species known as LIU YE CAI.
Linnaeus, the father of plant classification, was inspired to make a list of edible flora, due to the Swedish famine of 1756. He listed 12 dialect names for E. angustifolium including Weasel Milk, Heaven Grass, Elk Food, Calf Ass, Milk Ass, and Fox Ass.
The related E. brevifolium aerial parts are made into a paste in Nepal, and applied to muscular pain.
The related E. hirsutum is known as Codlins and Cream in England, as the plant has the refreshing scent of ripe apples.
Breeders have crossed this species with our native E. luteum and created a purple black flowered plant with apple perfume. I have no idea if an essential oil is possible. It sounds wonderful.
CONSTITUENTS E. angustifolium- mucilage, tannins (up to 20%), chaermenericm olenolic and maslinic acids; ursolic and 2-hydroyursolic acids; sugars, starches, pectin, vit C, calcium salts, beta-sitosterol caproate, sitosterol glucoside and sitosterol6”-acetylglucoside; various sitosteryl esters including propionate, caproate, caprylate, caprate, palmitate; and flavonoids including myricetin 3-0-beta-D-glucuronide; quercitin (0.42%), myricetin (0.32%), kaempferol (0.37%), sexangularetin, and various sterol acetates such as beta sitosterol (66.8%) kaempesterol (1.2%), and stigmasterol (0.4%). Total sterol content is 0.1221g/ 100 grams.
Various acids such as ferulic, gallic, protocatechuic, ursolic, maslinic, cinnamic, caffeic, gentisic and chlorogenic also present.
The leaves, buds and stem tips contain 28-31% protein, and cellulose of 9-10%. Fifty-eight grams of fireweed young leaves contains 8 mg calcium, 1 mg. iron, 332 RE vitamin A, 0.49 mg riboflavin, and 57 mg of vitamin C.
flowers- sexangularetin, chanerol, chanerozan
pollen- linoleic, linolenic, lauric, margaric, capric, myristic, myristoleic, nonadecanoic, oleic, pentadecanoic, stearic and palmitic acids
E. latifolium- beta sitosterol, and various flavonoids including quercitrin, myricitrin, and isoquercitrin.
Fireweed leaves and flowers are useful for a multitude of skin problems, ranging from psoriasis, to eczema, acne, burns and wounds.
Fytokem, an exciting biotech company in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan has produced a patented Canadian Willowherb Extract with clinically proven anti-inflammatory properties. A flavonol glucuronide is believed responsible; at least in part.
Studies using 5% extract were tested against 1% cortisone cream and a control over a 24 hour period on irritated skin.
The extract showed improvement in redness and irritation of 35.5%
within the first hour and 40.5% in 24 hours. Cortisone cream had a 10.75% improvement in first hour, and 25.75% over the 24 hour period. And none of the side effects associated with cortisone.
Glucuronic acid is a growth factor, and has been used in the past in abdominal surgery, as a detoxifying agent, and in therapeutics for arthritis and rheumatism.
The flower can be infused and gargled for sore throat and laryngitis, and combined with the leaf for insomnia, and relieving of headaches. The flower juice is very antiseptic, and can be simply squeezed from the fresh petals.
Cool decoctions of the whole plant are used in hiccoughs, whooping cough and asthma, slowly sipped until the spasms subside.
Leaf tea is mild, but helpful in cases of persistent, slow hemorrhage conditions from lungs, nose, bladder or uterus. It is mild and may be combined with cranesbill root, shepherd’s purse or fleabane for more severe cases.
Fireweed leaf decoctions soothe stomach problems like ulcers, gastritis, and colitis; as well as more serious conditions such as gastric tumours either malignant or not. Leaf decoctions are demulcent with mild astringency and can be useful in sub-acute stages of diarrhea and dysentery. Watery diarrhea, due to a change of drinking water, is resolved.
Poultices of fresh leaves and flower can be applied to inflammations of ears, throat, and nose. In arthritis and rheumatism, it plays a role with its anti-inflammatory and kidney cleansing properties.
Fireweed (E. augustifolium) leaf and flowering tops show strong activity against Staphylococcus aureus and Candida albicans; and moderate activity against E. coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Borchardt et al, J Med Plants Res 2008 2:5.
Both flowers and leaves show equal anti-microbial activity. Kosalec I et al, Curr Drug Targets 2013 14(9):986-91.
Whole plant extracts inhibit growth of both gram-negative and gram- positive bacteria , in culture, more efficiently, than vancomycin or tetracycline. Bartfay WJ et al, Biol Res Nurs 2012 14(1):85-9.
Fireweed shows inhibition against Klebsiella pneumoniae. Battinelli et al, Farmaco 2001 56. Ethanol extracts of the root show activity against C. albicans. Jones et al, Journal of Ethnopharmacology 2000 73.
Extracts have been shown effective in treating tinea capitis. The tannins are both anti-fungal and may act as an ileocecal valve tonic in chronic candidiasis. Colic, and other irritated conditions, including chronic diarrhea, are relieved.
Grujic-Vasic et al, Periodicum-Biologorum 1990 94:2 showed significant activity against Candida albicans, Streptococcus and Staphylococcus aureus; with relative astringency greater than walnut leaves. Although the author is no biochemist, I would suggest that some of the caprylate compounds may be responsible for its anti- fungal activity.
Work by Towers et al, at UBC found both aerial parts and root active against all nine fungal species tested. It also completely eliminated elastase activity suggesting skin healing and support.
More recent work has found the herb active against bacteria, including S. aureus, Micrococcus luteus, E. coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa in a manner more effective than vancomycin or tetracycline. Bartfay et al, Biol Res Nurs 2011 January 5.
Webster et al, J Ethnopharm 2008 115:1 found fireweed to possess strong anti-fungal activity. Fireweed exhibits significant anti-oxidant activity. Fraser et al, Can J Physiol Pharmacol 2007 85.
The rhizomes contain fewer tannins, and no mucilage, but contain the flavonoids useful for anti-inflammatory process such as prostatitis and enlarged prostate.
Michael Moore wrote, “One of the classic indications for fireweed is chronic, pasty diarrhea, without heat and fever, and green or yellow in color. This is a common complaint in the spring in the north country, due to changing from a meat and potatoes winter diet to one of green and red spring plants.”
He continued. “Some prescription drugs for ulcers, colitis and arthritis can induce a lingering low-level swelling and dryness in the descending colon, and in men, a low-grade prostate heaviness; two or three cups of tea a day for a week will help, and Fireweed has no contraindications with drugs.” Maybe, I’m not sure about that.
Studies by Hiermann et al, Planta Medica 1991 57:4 at Universitat Graz, Austria confirm the anti-inflammatory and prostaglandin inhibition properties.
This is due in large part to the myricetin 3-0-beta-D-glucuronide that inhibits release of prostaglandins PGI2, PGE2, and PGD2. Optimal levels are obtained during and just after flowering.
Follow up studies by Lesuisse et al, J Nat Prod 1996 54 490-3 have shown the tannin, oenothein B, from various fireweeds the active compound that inhibits 5alpha-reductase in human prostate. This compound has also been shown to possess anti-viral and anti-tumour activity.
Extracts of the herb with administered testosterone increased estrogen receptor alpha activity by 9% and decreased ERbeta by 36% in a rat model. Ginekol Pol 2010 81:8.
Oenothein B is found in all species of Epilobium. Hevesi et al, J Pharm Biomed Anal 2008 Oct 8 found it possesses antioxidant activity equal to trolox, vitamin C, etc.
Work by Ducrey et al, Plant Medica 1997 63:2 found both oenothein A and B inhibits 5alpha reductase and aromatase.
Work by Kiss et al, Planta Med 2004 70 found fireweed extracts inhibitory against angiotensin converting enzyme, aminopeptidase N and neutral endopeptidase (NEP), all of which play a role in prostate disease.
Kiss et al, Pharmazie 61:1 and Phytomed 13:4 found oenothein B, extracted from E. angustifolium, inhibits proliferation of cell lines with high NEP expression. This suggests use in disturbed metabolism of signaling peptides by an unbalanced NEP activity.
Oenothein B, from this species, exhibits immune modulation both in vitro and in vivo. Schepetkin et al, J Immunol 2009 183:10.
Pharmacology studies comparing E. angustifolium and E. parviflorum show remarkable similarity with flavonoid content of the former at 6.6% and the latter at 5.9%. Triterpene and sterols were 4.2 and 4.7% respectively. Nowak and Krzaczek, Herba Polonica 1998 44:1.
Phytomedicine 2000 7:3 by Myagmar and Aniya, showed Fireweed (E. angustifolium) to possess strong free radical scavenging activity both in vitro and in vivo. This confirms work by Kähkönen et al, J Agric Food Chem 1999 47 that found significant anti-oxidant activity due mainly to phenolic content.
Work by Stajner et al, Phytother Res 21:10 identified the leaves as possessing the highest anti-oxidant levels. The leaf infusion can be used as a wash for infant skin problems including cradle cap.
This follows previous work by Juan et al, Agric Act 1988 23 that showed anti-inflammatory and prostaglandin inhibiting activity.
Fireweed decreases PGE (2) release and inhibition of COX enzymes. Hevesi et al, Phytother Res 23:5.
Work by Vitali, Calvo et al, J Ethnopharm 107:3 found topical applications analgesic and anti-inflammatory, and internal use anti- diarrheal and anti-motility on gastrointestinal tissue.
Battinelli, Vitalone and Tita, Il Farmaco 2001 56 483-9 showed E. angustifolium active against human prostatic epithelial cells and analgesic in nature.
Water extracts decreased the weight of seminal vesicles of male rats, and in testosterone stimulated castrated rates, an increased weight was noted. Hiermann et al, J Ethnopharm 1997 55. The human implications are unknown.
Water extracts were tested against 6 bacteriophages by Delitheos et al, Phytomedicine 1997 4:2 and shown to possess activity.
Both this species and E. palustre show activity as a dry extract at very low (10-650 microM) levels.
River Beauty tops contain steroid compounds that act as a gastrointestinal astringent to soothe the digestive tract.
Fireweed leaf contains an unknown substance that, like grapefruit juice, enhances the action of drugs from 4-7 times, according to Mors Korchanski. He suggested this to me over twenty years ago.
One recent study found fireweed extracts increase the minimum inhibitory concentration of ciprofloxacin by more than four times. Tansy and quercitin were similar. Smimova G et al, J Appl Microbiol 2012 113(1): 192-9.
Epilobium is for the intractable diarrhea that accompanies typhoid.
DOSE- Tincture- 10-20 drops as needed
Marsh Fireweed has been proved by Dr. Wright and showed salivation, loose stools, red urine, and chills, followed by feverishness and general aching of the body.
An excellent sun infused oil can be produced from young flower heads and buds of fireweed. Use a 1:5 ratio, weight to volume. Set for two weeks, shaking daily in coconut oil. If weather is cool and cloudy, consider a low temperature crockpot to avoid spoilage.
This can later be strained and used for making superior anal suppositories for hemorrhoids, anal fissures, prostate inflammation, and childhood eczema.
Fireweed hydrosol has a most subtle and peculiar fragrance. It has literally no taste so can be taken easily by all ages.
Much research needs to be done on the water, but skin conditions such as burns, sunburn and other inflamed states would be worthy of trials. Anecdotal stories suggest great benefit in relief of irritated skin tissue.
The hydrosol shows anti-microbial effect against a number of bacteria including Propionibacterium acnes, associated with acne.
Fireweed is grounding, cleansing of old energy patterns from the body, so that new life may enter. It helps one access nurturing and restorative energy from one’s surroundings, especially after a traumatic experience.
River Beauty flower essence is for emotional re-orientation and regeneration. For starting over, and seeing adverse circumstances as potential for cleansing and growth.
White fireweed heals deep emotional trauma and shock, helping one release the energetic imprint of painful emotional experiences.
The three above, combined with dwarf fireweed (E. adenocaulon) form the Fireweed combination that is used for facing our fears, and letting go of resistance. ALASKA
Fireweed flower essence helps us realize the abundance of love both within and without. PACIFIC
Fireweed helps revive an individual after personal tragedy or long- term stress. It cools tempers in hot weather, and helps unstable, moody people feel more grounded. FLOWER ESSENCE SOCIETY
Willow Herb essence is helpful for those who have an aversion to being touched. ROCKY MTN
Fireweed flower essence addresses forcefulness and self-importance. When we are attached to our positions of power, we are in danger of over-influencing or manipulating others with our will power. FINDHORN
Fireweed keeps the heart from “street life” by supporting the heart protector or pericardium. Helps one to live the passion of their heart. Keeps the heart warm and the flame of the heart burning brightly. SWEETWATER
Fireweed has the ability to connect the soul with higher levels. It isn’t of much use to the majority of souls now on earth, but for seekers and those whose spiritual vibrations are already heightened. A tea made from the whole blooming flowers will produce energies in the lower bodies; which open the soul to input from the higher realms. HILARION
Each spike (of Fireweed) produces its own bunch of flowers, a head composed of a quantity of loose-jointed watery little flowers dangling flabbily by their necks from the main stem: insignificant, rickety, ill- nourished looking flowers, cold pink in colour and without smell. The head of the fireweed spike ends in a weakly green point. You would not expect anything so rank of growth to be sensitive, but Fireweed is exceedingly touchy and flops in a wilt at any provocation. EMILY CARR
Just wanted to let you know that I did some follow-up on the course of study for Fireweed. I prepared a flower essence using the described procedures in August of 1997 on a beautiful sunny day. I did not follow up with the other preparations as I had been “corrupted” along the way by the repeated references I came across for this herb in a number of texts while trying to maintain some forward momentum in the learning sphere.
What I DID determine, at least for myself was the psychological impact of the flower essence. About 4 days after I prepared, I took 4 drops of the Mother Tincture under the tongue and had an immediate and strong physical reaction. I felt as if someone was pushing on the base of by breastbone accompanied with an overwhelming feeling of sadness. Along with this powerful emotional response was the strong direction of acceptance.
It was as if whatever stored up over a lifetime was brought right back to the surface. The impression I was left with was that the essence of Fireweed offers acceptance of undeniable and unpleasant truth.
This is an incredible gift, as many of us tend not to bring ourselves to accept those things which, for whatever reason, we can’t change or control.
My feeling is that this essence may be of value for those recovering from the loss of friends or family, recovering from marital breakup, or accepting terminal in self, in oneself, or in a loved one. The opportunity for growth flourishes after acceptance of mortal tragedy.
All of these realizations came in less time than it has taken to type this. I’ve also spent a great deal of time reflecting on my impressions, and they haven’t changed in over a year. I did not proceed with journeying with the essence as I find the experience so incredibly intense in a manner that I’m not completely comfortable with that it’s very much like dragging the proverbial horse to water. I’ve never had a bad experience in journeying although there have been some harrowing contacts in the past, and what I feel is a sort of fear about entering that level of consciousness. Maybe I’m a little afraid about what I’ll learn about myself. Personal correspondence with Jim Steele, a former student.
She introduced herself as Fiona, a spirit of Fireweed. She had an incredible mix of passionate, powerful energy combined with softness and kindness. She held these two energies in complementary balance. She explained that before one comes to passion they must first experience compassion. MONTGOMERY
[Willow herb] occurs in the wild in Europe, America and Asia. It has such an invasive habit it is easy to imagine its thrusting white roots making the transatlantic journey under the sea and crossing Alps and Himalayas with consummate ease. No doubt it will turn up in the Antipodes…Sometimes it is the unexpected guest who brings to the party just what was lacking.
MYTHS AND LEGENDS
One legend of the fireweed tells of an Indian maiden. To rescue her lover from an enemy tribe which was preparing to torture him, she set fire to the forest about their camp.
While they fled before the flames, she lifted the wounded man and carried him off through the woods. Some of the tribe, unfortunately, saw what she was doing and followed her. With her heavy burden she could not travel fast enough to escape but wherever she touched her moccasined feet to the black ashes of the forest floor a flame sprang up in her wake and drove the enemy backward.
When at last they gave up the chase, flames continued to leap about her but they took the form of a brilliant flower that blazed through the blackened skeleton of the forest long after she had passed. A BROWN
The First Woman of the Tlinget people, Asintmah initially appeared near the Athabasca River in northern Saskatchewan, Canada. As Earth Mother, she walked over the land, collecting fallen branches to make her loom. Asintmah wove a blanket from the fibres of fireweed, the willow herb loved by Earth. Then she gathered the sacred cover and walked in all four directions, spreading it over Earth’s body…Finally, Asintmah wove threads of music and sang as Earth heaved and birthed her children, bringing Mouse, Rabbit, Cougar, Caribou and all the other animals onto the land. MILNE/MILLER
INFUSION- Take two to four ounces of steeped tea five to six times daily.
TINCTURE- ten to twenty drops up to three times daily. Make the whole fresh plant tincture including root at 1:4 and 60% alcohol.
DECOCTION- One ounce of whole plant including root to one pint of water. Simmer for twenty minutes. Take one tablespoon every five minutes.
OIL- Add to salve and ointments for burns, cuts, childhood eczema and ulcerous sores. The oil is made at 1:5 from freshly wilted leaves in a crockpot at lowest temperature for at least 8 hours. Strain and bottle, and preserve with vitamin E or grapefruit seed extract.
CAUTION- Fireweed may increase potency or extend activity of other herbs and drugs.