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Natural Awakenings Tucson

All Wrapped with a Bow: The Medicinal Uses for Holiday Decorations

Dec 01, 2019 03:34PM ● By J Garnett
‘Tis the season to see all of the annual decorations that bring about warm memories, cheer and joy. Most often, the overlapping holidays of Christmas and Hanukkah have their own special color schemes, food, plants and flowers and other adornments—poinsettia plants, holly berries, mistletoe, blue delphinium, cranberries, white lilies, white roses and of course, Christmas trees.

What most people don’t realize is that all of these natural decorations also have some effective medicinal values.

Although stunning to look at, many people have warned children and animals to stay away from poinsettias because they’re poisonous. Surprisingly, this beautiful holiday plant has a number of medicinal benefits. While it is true that the poinsettia belongs to a group of plants that are poisonous, the variety used for decorating for the season is not to be feared. There are still poisonous components of the plant, but the amount of leaves that would need to be eaten to have an adverse reaction is huge—over 500.

From the roots to the bracts to the flowers, most parts of the poinsettia can be used medicinally. The plant is used to kill parasites in the gastrointestinal tract. The roots can be ground into a paste and eaten to end the stomach flu. The Christmas plant is also used to stop diarrhea and prevent dehydration. Although immediate medical attention should be sought out after being bitten by a snake, poinsettias can be used as a “first-responder” in treatment. The sap from the leaves can be applied to a stubborn wart that won’t go away, or directly applied to pimples and other skin irritations. The sap is also used as a hair remover.

The blue delphinium has some controversy as far as the medicinal qualities because of the continued research on the plant, but has been used to treat insomnia, intestinal worms, fluid retention and lack of appetite. The leaves of the white lily can be placed on cuts and wounds as an instant pain reliever. The root of the white lily can be boiled and made into a poultice to put on the chest when congestion is present. Drinking tea two or three times daily made from the beautiful white flowers can help treat infections of the skin and nails, insomnia, heart palpitations, memory loss and ear infections.

White roses are usually seen throughout the days of Hanukkah. Roses, full of antioxidants, are known to relieve headaches, soothe a sore throat and skin irritations, improve mood and help heal cuts and burns. Rose petals can be eaten raw or boiled down to make a light and refreshing tea.

A holiday feast would be lacking without the appearance of cranberries. Cranberry sauce, jelly and jams are often a much loved addition to the meal. Cranberries are often categorized as a superfood because of their high levels of antioxidants, minerals and vitamins. The cranberry has also been shown to prevent certain types of cancer and maintain a healthy urinary tract. Many holiday decorations are adorned with holly berries and pine cones. Both of these are packed full of natural treatments for ailments and disease. When the correct dosing is decided by a medical professional, holly is a superstar used in treating fever, high blood pressure, digestive issues and rheumatoid arthritis.

The star of the holiday season is the Christmas tree, usually a pine variety. All pine trees produce pine cones. Green pine cones have been used as a medicine in the Far East for centuries. Boiling or grinding the pine cone can be used in teas that aid in fighting off respiratory infections. The needles are full of antioxidants and reduce inflammation. They are used in tea form to combat depression, boost memory and as a treatment for some cancers.

Christmas cannot be complete until a stolen kiss takes place under the mistletoe. In Europe, the mistletoe is used to treat cancer, and it is believed that over 50 percent of cancer patients being treated in Europe have used some form of mistletoe extract. Mistletoe is also used to combat high blood pressure and diabetes.

The holiday season is one of joy and cheer, and for conjuring warm memories. The festive decorations are full of color and aromas that make the holiday complete. It’s a wondrous thing when holiday decorations and all their beauty can also help heal and treat the body for so many different diseases and conditions. Next time while admiring the beautiful decorations that accompany this season’s holidays, remember to give thanks for the many medicinal ingredients within them—a miraculous holiday gift from Mother Nature.

J. Garnet, M.A., is an educator and freelance writer. Garnet’s studies have led him to the world of plant medicine and its many benefits. His work is centered on educating the public on alternative medicine. Connect at 520-437-8855 or [email protected].