Prunus persica: peach
The simple peach tree can provide a wealth of medicine– the flowers, the pits, the leaves, and the twigs are all useful, and good things to have on hand for you and your family.
Common name: Peach (or nectarine– it’s a recessive gene that makes the peach non-fuzzy, but contrary to popular belief that it’s a hybrid, it’s actually just a bald peach)
Botanical name: Prunus persica
Taste: astringent, bitter, sweet
Tongue: Bright red
1. Nausea and vomiting. Especially nausea related to tension, nervousness, or excitation. It’s completely safe during pregnancy, which makes it fantastic for morning sickness. If there’s less heat then ginger can be used too. I often get heat-related nausea during the summer months, and a peach leaf tea, or a few drops of brandy tincture relieves it almost instantly.
2. Constipation or diarrhea. It works, very gently, for both, and soothes the digestive tract along the way. By relaxing overly tense muscles, it helps to get peristalsis moving properly again. For bad diarrhea I’d use a combination of peach and blackberry leaf.
3. Nervous tension. It’s a fantastic relaxing nervine, especially for over-heated folks who tend towards irritation and insomnia. For vata types who overheat too fast, think too much, and get stressed out way too easily.
4. Allergies. Externally (either tincture, vinegar, or a leaf poultice), it is great on hives, rashes, eczema. Internally, it helps with the heat and dryness that arise from seasonal allergies.
5. Insomnia. Not everybody with insomnia, as there are SO many possible causes. But if your insomnia comes from deficiency heat, it’s fantastic. Especially when paired with a tonic like withania (which doesn’t help with insomnia, but helps address the underlying cause).
6. Bug bites/ inflammation. Peach works great on all kinds of histamine reactions, from bug bites to allergies. Use the leaves as a spit poultice, or take peach leaf infusion internally.
Parts used: All parts of the plant can be used– I have jars full of twigs, flowers and leaves. Pick the twigs and leaves any time of year. Flowers when blooming. Dry in a cool dark place on a piece of paper, and when brittle, transfer to an airtight container (and label!). My favourite way to make peach medicine (and the way that is most convenient during the summer) is to make a peach-pit brandy tincture. The recipe follows below.
Cautions and Contraindications: Members of the prunus family contain small amounts of cyanic acid. If the pits are at all broken, don’t use them. If the leaves are bruised and beaten up, likewise. If your tincture or tea tastes REALLY bitter, then throw it out and start over with different peach pits or leaves. The effects of cyanic acid are such that you’ll probably fall asleep long before it has a chance to be harmful, and if you don’t fall asleep then you’d throw up long before it has a chance to be harmful. Unbroken pits and unbruised leaves are fine though .
To make a peach-pit brandy tincture:
1 mason jar with lid
brandy (no need for expensive stuff)
peach pits (Unbroken, in good shape. This is really important*)
Come summertime, I usually leave a mason jar half-filled with brandy out on the countertop somewhere. Every time one of us eats a peach, we just pop the pit in the jar. It fills up pretty fast. Especially when I’m preserving copious numbers of peaches in syrup.
When the jar is full, make sure that all the pits are completely covered with brandy. Screw lid on tightly, label (contents, origin of contents (if the peaches work well it’s good to know where they came from), date made), and place in a cool dark place for a month. After a month, take as needed– a few drops work fine.
*see cautions and contra-indications
Sources: Kiva Rose’s fantastic website, and Matthew Wood.