It’s honeysuckle time again! I have been harvesting the flowers and unopened flower buds. It is slow work, as each individual flower gets harvested and put into the basket but I find it rather meditative. I mean, I’m surrounded by sweet-smelling flowers, outside, with various pollinators buzzing all around, watching my basket fill up and I’m getting all pollened up–it is the kind of moment which, as a wildcrafter, I live for.
(Never mind the insects and scratchy thorns and rain and sun….mere hazards of one of the best and most ancient jobs ever. I take pride in my lineage of muddy pants and clay-dabbed blackfly bites.)
So, Honeysuckle. You know, there isn;t a ton of information available on herbalist uses. It is a member of Caprifoliaceae, the same family as Elder–and I do think of the uses of Elder flowers as a jumping-off point for my uses of honeysuckle. However, (caution tiny rant) I do NOT consider it a “substitute” for Elder, as I don’t believe in substitutes. Each plant can stand or fail on its own merits, and sub means under- so let’s not undervalue plants! In fact, when I hear Dandelion-or-whatever is a “coffee substitute” I want to say “stop turning nice people away from herbalism!” So, OK, not a substitute. BUT.
What I am saying is I use Honeysuckle flowers in a similar way to how I use Elder flowers, and more: to support the body during a flu, fever or infection, clear heat, move energy. I see it as clearing emotional heat too, soothing on several levels. It’s quite tasty, I love both the taste and smell and use it in oils externally just for the pleasure. I am interested in the use of Honeysuckle to help support Lyme but I don;t have enough experience with this yet to share, other than that Honeysuckle told me (weirdo alert) “tincture my stem for Lyme”…I then found some support for that in the book Invasive Plant Medicine by Timothy Scott so I am experimenting. I would LOVE to hear others’ experiences with this application.
It is a very abundant plant here, so I have been able to make some elixirs this year too-mixing fresh Honeysuckle flowers and buds with fresh grapes, sweet cherries, raw honeycomb, cognac, brandy, blending it with other flowers such as Violets, Hawthorne and Wild Roses…and I also make a super-strong tincture of both flower and fresh green stem (separately) in grain alcohol, I dry it, I infuse it in a carrier oil. I carry it in my larger first aid kit, as it is not widely available as a medicine outside of the brief flowering phase. Additionally, sometimes I don’t know what the heck Culpeper was talking about.
American Extra Pharmacoepia by David Winston
Herbal Antivirals by Stephen Harrod Buhner
Invasive Plant Medicine by Timothy Scott
Earthwise Herbal by Matt Wood