Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Treben Triad

One of the first herbals I read years ago was Maria Treben's  Health From God's Garden.  It was probably my first real introduction into the wonderful world of healing with herbs, and a cherished gift from my former mother-in-law. She herself was an avid herbal enthusiast and her house always had corners filled with odds and ends jars, dated and labeled, full of steeping tinctures or bulk herb finds, the pungent and fragrant whiffs of that collection so reminiscent of her herbal realm.

I thought I would keep that copy of my Maria Treben book forever, but as with many things that are precious, the day came when it needed to be passed along to be pored through by another.  One of my past clients, in her nineties, gave me so many valuable herbal tips from her remembrance dating all the way back to her childhood in pre-WW2 Poland, and I am grateful for her fanning the embers of my curiosity and love of traditional medicinal herbs through those conversations.  Among her conversations were the mentions of the late herbalists Father Kneipp and Maria Treben.  She lamented the loss of some writings of theirs she had owned in the past, so I was delighted to pass along my own book to her and see her joy at being reunited with an "old friend."

Since that time, I've discovered many books on traditional herbals, and I never seem to tire of unearthing more finds, comparing opinions and seeing what favorites other respected herbalists like to rely on.  It's an entry into a conversation spanning thousands of years and immensely varied cultures and traditions...fascinating historically, biologically, medically, botanically...the filtered wisdom of many ages.

I do find that I return periodically to Maria Treben's book, the smaller of which I now own, Health from God's Pharmacy.  In many of her formulas, the reader will quickly notice her reliance on a backbone of three herbs -- yarrow, stinging nettle, and calendula.  Indeed, they are indicated for such a broad range of conditions, there seem to be few formulas in the book that don't call for them.  I tend to think of them as the Treben Trio, or Treben Triad.  In the many notebooks in which I've scribbled ideas for particular formulas based on my readings, I find the same three cropping up regularly.

We currently have not grown any yarrow, calendula, or stinging nettle in our own yard, though we do have many others, but I wanted to go ahead and test this formula on the willing members of my own little household (just my husband and myself at the moment) and to note any results or preferences before deciding whether they prove to be the all-round workhorse formula in our own experience that they seem to be in the Treben writings.  I am beginning with them because yarrow, stinging nettle, and calendula are historically proven traditional medicinals, mild, and considered to be safe, though I don't find from recent authors that calendula is taken internally as much now as in decades past.

I also found a more reliable "brewing" container, an enamel coffeepot from a thrift store, gutted of its strainer and now put to use making infusions with loose herbs.  It holds about a quart and is great for keeping warm at the back of the stove.


Maria Treben's formulas call for fresh herbs, for the most part.  Since I don't have any of these available fresh to me at this time, my experiment was done with dry herbs from reliable suppliers.  The joy of running my hands through the bright colors and textures was as much fun as enjoying their beauty and sipping my first cup of the infusion.  It was pleasant and deeply green in taste, mild and with a mildly bitter undertone.  Since the general health benefits are what we're going for rather than flavor, the fact it was not unpleasant was welcome.  It was really nice sipped while relaxing together, and so far neither of us has had any allergic sensitivity to be concerned about.

Before mixing up a big batch of mixed herbs, be sure to test for sensitivities such as allergies, using a very small amount of the single herbs before committing to a bigger blend.

For specific medicinal benefits purported by Maria Treben's books for this combination, please consult her books directly.  In general, it is said to be both blood cleansing and building, immunity-stimulating, tissue healing, hormonally regulating, adaptogenic, digestively soothing, and rich in flavanoids.

As I note any specifics in our own experience, I'll write about them more here.

Do you have any experience using any of these three herbs internally, and if so, what was your experience?

As always, I learn from our shared experiences!

Be well!