Kiva Rose over at Medicine Woman's Roots has started a Local Herbalism Challenge Blogparty and I've decided to start with sunflowers. Sunflowers were sacred to the ancient Aztecs and were therefore rendered many times in gold. The flowers were worn by their priestesses in elaborate and beautiful headdresses. The following sunflower lore comes from Joelle's Herb Index:
As sun symbols, these flowers symbolize the healthy ego, the wisdom, and the fertility of the solar logos. Sunflower seeds are eaten by women who wish to conceive. To protect yourself against smallpox wear sunflower seeds around the neck, either in a bag or strung like beads.
If you cut a sunflower at sunset while making a wish, the wish will come true before another sunset - as long as the wish isn't too grand.
Sleeping with a sunflower under the bed allows you to know the truth in any matter.
If you wish to become virtuous, anoint yourself with juice pressed from the stems of the sunflower.
Sunflowers growing in the garden guard it against pests and grant the best of luck to the gardener.
Turns out that the seeds of the sunflower are the most important part. I always knew they were great but considered them to be only a tasty snack. But they are actually important sources of food for cattle and poultry and have a myriad of other agricultural uses. The stalks have many uses as do the leaves, for building and smoking respectively. Its medicinal uses don't seem to include the flower petals at all, just the seeds and leaves. The leaves are good as a tea for kidney issues and the seeds have diuretic and expectorant properties helpful in the treatment of bronchial, laryngeal and pulmonary problems. According to the extensive information at Botanical.com:
The following preparation is recommended: Boil 2 OZ. of the seeds in 1 quart of water, down to 12 OZ. and then strain. Add 6 OZ. of good Holland gin and 6 OZ. of sugar. Give in doses of 1 to 2 teaspoonsful, three or four times a day.
As me and my whole family were out of it for weeks with the bronchitis this summer almost all of our plants are either gone, having been burned up in the blistering heat and dryness, or overwhelmed by weeds. So, there's not much left for me to work with in terms of harvesting for any purpose, be it healing, crafts or magical uses. We do, however, have more than a few sunflowers in the back of the garden. They're the most prolific flower in the garden. So, I'm going to try a tea of the leaves and perhaps gather some seeds for other uses. This is only the first of a handful of things I'm going to try working with this month, I'll also include lemon balm, mullein, mallow and perhaps basil. I may add to this list as well.