Pearly Everlasting is Blooming!
If there isn’t an essential oil of this plant, there should be. The smell is of thick, warm summer coming on, with sticky orange-minty maple syrup. When you see this plant, try rubbing its perfume on your neck. It will be with you all day long. This is how I first fell in love with Gnaphalium californicum.
Ceclia Garcia, a Chumash Medicine woman who wrote Healing with Medicinal Plants of the West, taught me the medicinal properties of Pearly Everlasting. When I studied with her, we played with the flowers in herbal sweats, foot and hand baths, sometimes mixed with bay leaves, white sage or yerba santa.
Ceciilia recommended the tea as a way to change a negative attitude and also as an effective method of fighting off the onset of flu and pneumonia. The Chumash people also smoked both leaves and flowers. The leaves have an appetite suppressing function and were used by the younger women and men during times of famine, so that there would be enough food for the children and elders.
I began using it for the colds my boys get every summer and noticed how quickly their symptoms would clear. My younger son calls it “flower tea,” and he always wants one flower that he can eat when he is done drinking the tea. Both of my boys often get moisture in their eyes when they get sick, sometimes turning into conjunctivitis, and I have them drink the tea as well as put drops directly into the eyes. I have also successfully used the tea and drops with my patients who have painful, swollen or itchy eyes.
Pearly Everlasting is found in dry places below 5,500 feet. It can be seen blooming from January to June in Southern California and blooms through July and the beginning of August in the Sierras. Make sure there is an abundance of plants in any area you collect from and only collect up to 10% of plants that are blooming. Pearly Everlasting is beautiful as a dried flower and can be stored in vases until needed.
Cecilia passed on in May and I am deeply grateful daily for her teachings and her wild presence in my life.
For colds, flu and as an eye wash: Pour boiling water over a small handful of flowers, about 10 per pint. Steep for 15 minutes and then strain out the plant. Store tea in the refrigerator and drink throughout the day for three days. For eyes, put drops of the tea in the eyes as frequently as possible.
For weight loss: Pour boiling water over three to seven dried leaves in a pint jar. Let steep for 15 minutes and sip throughout the day. Use for approximately two weeks or longer as desired.
Anna Werderitsch, L.Ac. 310-531-0314