New England aster.


From: "jim mcdonald"
Date: Fri, 14 Feb 2003 11:06:08 -0500
Subject: [Herb] New England Aster

So, I've been using my Aster tincture (for those of you new to the list, I've been looking into the medicinal use of Aster species... in this case New Enland Aster - the darker flowered species seem to be stickier, smellier and more potent) and can verify that it ~definitely~ possess a marked sedative action. It also seems to be uniquely clearing & decongesting to the head & lungs, which may account for its use in smoking blends. The taste is quite nice, aromatic but not too powerful. I like it.

30 drop doses seem fine, and a relaxing effect is felt soon after taking it. Both King's & Cook's, quoting Rafinesque, classify Asters as a tonic nervine, and make comparisions to Valerian. I wouldn't compare it to Valerian, though wuld agree it seems more "sedative" (like Valerian) than calming (like, say, Passion Flower).

I recently saw a friend who was pretty down and stressed out (the tape player in her car broke, so she's been listening to public radio and inandated by info about the coming of war, which she found oppresive & overwhelming). I said, oh here, try some Aster. Figuring I knew what I was doing (as if I'd ever given this to anyone else...), she said, sure, & tried it. Within 15 minutes she was talking about her day, musing about this & that and was visibly more relaxed (no scruched forehead, no rubbing temples). It seemed to work as well as any other nervine I might have offered.

My wife recently had a chest cold, keeping her (and me) up at night. A dose of Aster helped stopped the coughing, helping her (and, again, me) sleep.

Since Asters are so abundant, this is good news for us wildcrafters eager to find new and effective local remedies. If anyone else is inerested in exploring its use further, I'd love to hear what they discover.

New England Aster roots are available in bulk through The Algonquin Tea Company, which has a beautiful selection of obscure herbs (sweetfern, alder bark) not usually found in commerce, wildcrafted on a small scale by a cool fellow...

From: "Erica"

Jim, I am very interested in exploring this further as asters are abundant in my area. However, I will have to wait until this fall to tincture my own. Please tell me what parts you have tinctured (assuming blossoms), and have you made infusions?

Thanks for your insights.
Green blessings,

From: "jim mcdonald"

>Please tell me what parts you have tinctured (assuming blossoms), and have you made infusions?

I tinctured the roots (only a couple ounces), though I munched on the flowers throughout the fall and these seem equally active. I haven't made a tea, but would expect it to be efficacious as well, though since the flowers and roots seem high in oils, the tincture may be stronger. I think that this would be a ~great~ plant to use in steam inhalations.

I've also smoked the dried flowers mixed with Tobacco, and that was pretty nice as well, smoothing out the flavor of the Tobacco nicely. I'll probably try to blend a new kinnick kinnick with them next fall when I can gather more.

From: "jim mcdonald"

My friend Gary Wanttaja, told me saturday the Chinese use Aster tartaricus (or something like that) for congestion, head colds and respiratory infections... that pretty much falls in line with what you can feel when you take it. Tartaricus is also a dark blue/purple flowered species... I would guess any dark flowered aster could be used interchangably, easiest way to tell ofr sure is to crush the flowers between your fingers & inhale... if they're sticky, smelly & aromatic, its probably a good species to use.