Pacific Bleeding Heart: We all know bleeding heart. Either we know the plant or we know the feeling, or we know both.
Did you know that the Pacific Bleeding heart, native to the PNW, is a medicinal plant that can help you in many ways?
As I often do, I find this plant very giving in nature. For example, I was out for a run recently and the ditch where the ditch mower had cleared has since been filled with Pacific Bleeding heart plants. That and empty beer cans and fast food bags, so that’s fun.
All parts of the Pacific Bleeding Heart can be used medicinally. The plant contains alkaloids that are chemically narcotic like and therefore it is primarily used as a pain relieving plant. The root contains more of these alkaloids than the aerial parts of the plant. So if you are looking to create a pain relieving tincture, a root only tincture will be stronger. The plant can be prepared for topical pain relief, especially for joints and where physical trauma has occurred.
Pacific Bleeding heart has also been used a remedy for emotional trauma, I am going to assume this is largely due to its sedative capacity. I find this traditional use especially lovely, that a plant named “bleeding heart” that blooms literal pink hearts that appear to be dripping, can be used to calm the spirit of those who have experienced emotional trauma.
Be cautious in using Pacific Bleeding Heart as a pain reliever as it’s opiate like compounds can create a false positive on a drug test for opiates. It does NOT have the opiate effect on your body, plant extracts have dozens (if not thousands) of chemical compounds that together create a manageable effect in the body. Its when we start isolating compounds, think morphine from the opium poppy, that we start creating intense drugs.
Creating a tincture is always best with high proof alcohol. Yes, I have wandered into the local liquor store with three little kids in tow and asked where they keep the good stuff. Be that person. 151 proof is good, 180 is great, Everclear is behind the counter. The higher proof alcohol the better the solvent for your medicine and the purer the finished product.
If you are going for powerful pain relief, the root only tincture would be wise, and you would harvest when the energy of the plant is in the roots, this is when aerial parts of the plant are dying off at the end of it’s growing season. When harvesting, remember to only harvest what you need and only from large stands.
The first time I was taught about bleeding heart for pain I was told a few drops of tincture was all that was needed. I created a tincture with 180 proof and I used aerial parts and root mid growth season. My tincture requires a good 20-30 drops for relief and must be taken more frequently than pain meds. So start with a few drops, observe how you feel, add a few more until you find your dose.
ALWAYS avoid during pregnancy and lactation.