Living and thriving through regenerative practices and a sustainable worldview.

Herbal Medicine

The Nitty Gritty Guide

Check out a new project from Alli and Carlo Manzella, called “The Nitty Gritty Guide – Our Guide To The Good Life“.

The Nitty Gritty Guide

The Nitty Gritty Guide

An excerpt from their site states: “We are a growing number of individuals from various different backgrounds who have come together to share and learn time honored skills, traditional art forms and revive the knowledge that kept our ancestors alive and thriving without the dependency on modern conveniences, imports, petroleum based products, the commercial agricultural system and conventional food.”

These two are interviewing people who are doing work in the areas mentioned above within their local community, in order to spread the word and educate folks about what they’re doing.

Check out their latest interviews here!


Healing Maiden Soup

Healing Maiden Soup

Healing Maiden Soup

OK, ladies.

It’s that time of the month and you’re feeling crampy, bloated, and maybe also dehydrated all at once. Maybe you get headaches and are a little weepy, too.
I’ve found that sometimes, the right food can really help. Hence, my Healing Maiden Soup.

This soup is nourishing, has lots of vitamins and minerals, and is comforting and re-hydrating.  I may be called a blasphemer for this, but… once in a while, there are just some things that chocolate can’t fix. For those times, there’s soup.

Our first ingredient is Stinging Nettle. Nettle is a treasure trove of  nutrients! The dried leaf of nettle contains 40% protein, and also vitamins A, C (perhaps fresh only), D, E, F, K, P, b-complexes, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B-6, high content of the metals selenium, zinc, iron, and magnesium, and also boron, sodium, iodine, chromium, copper,  sulfur and sixteen free amino acids.
Source: http://www.herballegacy.com/Vance_Chemical.html

During this particular phase of a woman’s moon cycle, she needs all the extra nutrients and metals that she can get, particularly iron and selenium. This is what makes nettle such a great ingredient.

But there’s more…

Reishi mushrooms have been known to boost the immune system (which can take a hit when your body is using most of its energy on your moon cycle),  fight viral infections,  help with fatigue and stress, and a whole host of other things. Reishi is also known for emotional and spiritual healing, and can be useful during a time when we are more susceptible to the emotional tides of our moon cycles.

Shiitake mushrooms are good for the kidneys and liver, which helps with the overall load of stress your body is delegating to those organs.  I would theorize that it may also aid the nearby adrenals, which sit atop the kidneys and are considered part of them, in Chinese medicine. Overworked adrenals make handling stress a nightmare, and who needs that?

Sidenote: All mushrooms produce vitamin D2 upon exposure to the UVB rays of sunlight or broadband UVB fluorescent tubes. You can literally take mushrooms you just bought or grew, throw them in a window gills-up (try not to heat them up) for a day or two, and get a higher Vitamin D content from them. This is a great trick in the winter, when sun exposure is lower.  You also always want to heat mushrooms in order to receive their nutritional value. Uncooked mushrooms are essentially just fiber, as the nutrients are not available to our bodies without being heated in some way.  High heat and alcohol also kill those nutrients, so a simmering tea or soup is best, rather than frying or tincturing.

Next, we have some roots. Ginger and turmeric add flavor, but are also great anti-inflammatories, which can help with feelings of being bloated, and also with cramping.

Escarole, the featured green in this soup,  is a member of the chicory lettuce family, and its nearly 50 micrograms of vitamin K per serving supplies between 60 and 74 percent of an adult’s daily vitamin K requirement. Vitamin K is essential in proper blood clotting, which is important for menstruating women.  It also contains approximately 1.9 milligrams of vitamin C and 64 micrograms of folate, as well as 16 milligrams of calcium — 1.6 percent of the RDA of calcium for all adults — and 0.46 milligrams of iron. This amount of iron only fulfills 2.5 percent of the RDA of a woman’s RDA of iron, but having a high iron content is not always good, so in conjunction with nettle, we have multiple sources available, without risk of too much.  Escarole is also high in calcium and potassium, two essential nutrients that we are often lacking sufficient amounts of.
Source: http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/benefits-escarole-lettuce-2188.html

Leeks contain 52.2%  RDA of vitamin K, and together with the 60-70% found in escarole, make sure that our blood remains healthy. They also contain important amounts of the flavonoid kaempferol, which has repeatedly been shown to help protect our blood vessel linings from damage, including damage by overly reactive oxygen molecules. They are also high in folates and manganese, contain Vitamins A, C, and B6,  calcium,  potassium and iron.

As you can see, this soup is a powerhouse of nutrients, so without further adieu, here is the recipe.

Healing Maiden Soup

Ingredients:

Water
Reishi mushrooms – dried
Shiitake mushrooms – fresh
Dried Nettles (can also use fresh, instead of Escarole)
Fresh Escarole
Rice noodles
Leeks
Fresh ginger root – 1/2 inch (do NOT use ginger powder, as it is too strong. If no fresh ginger is available, skip it.)
Sunflower, sesame or other oil – 1 TBSP
Turmeric
Applewood Smoked Sea Salt (Yakima), or other flavorful sea salt – 1 Tbsp or less, if desired
Tamari soy sauce (gluten-free version is available)

  1. Fill a small-medium sized saucepan with water and heat on medium-high setting until water begins to boil slightly.
  2. In the meantime, cut fresh mushrooms, ginger and leeks. Slice escarole into ribbons and then chop in half, so they’re not too long to eat.
  3. Crumble the dried reishi mushrooms or pull into pieces and set aside.
  4. Once the water is boiling, turn it down to a simmer.
  5. Add all mushrooms, leeks, ginger and escarole, and simmer on low-medium heat for about 10 minutes.
  6. Add the dried nettles, rice noodles, oil, turmeric, and sea salt and simmer until rice noodles are done.
  7. Add Tamari to taste, and serve.

Enjoy!

 


Making Gumweed (Grindelia) Tincture

Last year I planted some Grindelia, and they never grew. I tried not to be disappointed, as I know sometimes that’s just the luck of the germination draw.

But, like so many of my perennials, they popped up this year as a pleasant surprise in my garden (yay!).
So, what was Grindelia supposed to be good for again? As it turns out I think I’ll be using its gifts mostly in the autumn and winter. It seems that it’s good for a dry, unproductive, sticky cough, which happens sometimes when the air gets colder.

Gumweed (Grindelia) ready for harvest

Gumweed (Grindelia) ready for harvest

Gumweed is a stimulating expectorant and antispasmodic, which will help “unclog” anything rolling around in the lungs and  promptly escort it out the door, and also keep a spastic cough from becoming a drain. I don’t know about you, but I just hate those coughs that make your ribs sore and your lungs raw from all the hacking.
I’ve also heard from folks that this is a great remedy specifically for a dry cough associated with dust inhalation, or the cough that lingers after a cold.

Grindelia is also a urinary tract disinfectant, so if you have issues with that, you might want to add a few drops of gumweed tincture to your cranberry juice.

So, on to the HOW:

I waited until the Gumweed buds were JUST about to bloom. It’s ok if some are already in bloom,  but the buds are full of gum and have not opened up to allow the gum to dry out yet, so they’re the best.

I chopped the buds off  into a jar, and then rinsed off all the critters and debris and strained them. Then I cut the buds in half, and the flowers into quarters with a scissors and mushed them up a little.

Next, I filled up a small mason jar about a third of the way with buds, and the rest of the way with grain alcohol and a little vodka (I was getting low on grain, and both alcohols have alcohol-to-water ratios that are suitable for tincturing).

Gumweed (Grindelia) Tincture

Gumweed (Grindelia) Tincture

Then the usual tincturing practices – shake it up, put it in a dark cabinet, shake it once every two days or so, and leave in there for about 6 weeks.

Once 6 weeks are up, strain the tincture and bottle it in dark glass or put it in a mason jar and store in the dark (this keeps the sun from breaking it down faster).

There is little info on tincture dosage, but I never take more than half a dropperful (MAX!) of anything when first testing out.

Ryan Drum has experimented quite a bit with Grindelia, and suggests using ”5 drops tincture under the tongue or in strong hot steeped yarrow tea.”
So, I would start off with 5 drops and see how that works for you.


Spring Wild Edibles – Chickweed pesto!

It’s May and there are a lot of wild edibles and medicinals to be found!So far I’ve found violets, trout lily, nettles, fiddleheads, daylilies, oxalis(sourgrass), and mayapple (not edible until later in the summer).
Also… I helped clean out someone’s yard and scored more chickweed than I could have ever imagined!

I quickly made up a jar of tincture, and the rest became a beautiful green pesto.Here, I slathered a huge spoonful of pesto onto a hemp & greens burger.

I’m not a food porn type of person, as I think it’s a rather gluttonous fad, but damn, that pesto made the meal when paired with some sweet potato fries and a dollop of spicy dipping mustard. Mmmm!

Chickweed pesto
My Chickweed Pesto “recipe”:

  • Throw some chickweed into a food processor with a little bit of olive oil and pulse until it starts to blend into a kind of “paste”.
  • Add some pine nuts, or in my case, all I had on hand were some raw pumpkin seeds, aka “pepitos” and some sunflower seeds. Add more olive oil and maybe a little water to get the right consistency.
  • Pulse again.
  • Add a clove or two of garlic, depending on your penchant for garlic. (mine is fierce)
  • Taste, and add salt and little lemon juice to taste.
  • If it’s too thick, add a little more water and oil until it reaches the proper consistency. If it’s too watery, add some more nuts or seeds (you may have to add more of other ingredients to even out the flavor).

YUM!!

Trout lily

Trout lily

Chickweed ID

Chickweed ID – see that little one line of hairs on the stem?


The New 2013 Herbal Roots Calendar

Do you have kids who love learning about plants, herbs, or foraging?
Are you a kid at heart yourself? (I certainly am!)

Then you might just dig the new 2013 Herbal Roots Calendar, from the kids’ magazine “Herbal Roots”.
You can purchase a pre-made calendar HERE, or print it out for free HERE.

(The ‘zine is pretty cool too, check it out!)

Herbal Roots Calendar 2013

Herbal Roots Calendar 2013

From Mountain Rose Herbs:
“This delightful and educational calendar, beautifully illustrated by Herbal Roots zine creator Kristine Brown, is not only visually stunning, but is also a treasure trove of herbal education. Each month, you’ll enjoy an intricate illustration of a different herb, such as blackberry, vanilla, milk thistle, and more. Each illustration is accompanied by general information for the botanical including Latin name and common uses.”

I am personally a sucker for the occasional dose of *~*whimsy*~*,  but my practical side often wins. Lucky for me, this calendar has both! Check out some sample illustrations:


Make Your Own Korean "Honey Tea"

Found this interesting blog post from Catherine Boley on how to make Korean “Honey Tea”.
It looks delicious and I’m sure going to try it! But I’ll be adding ginger too, per the comments on her post. Mmmmmm.

http://catherineboley.blogspot.com/2009/08/preparing-for-winter.html

 


9 Simple Steps to Sheet Mulching

Source: http://www.chelseagreen.com/content/9-simple-steps-to-sheet-mulching/

Excerpt:

Nine Simple Steps to Sheet Mulching

  1. Mow or cut your lawn, weeds, or other vegetation right down to the ground.
  2. Plant any crops that will require a large planting hole (including woody plants, perennials in large pots, and large transplants).
  3. Add soil amendments (as determined by your soil test).
  4. Water the whole area thoroughly. You are going to be putting a layer of cardboard or newspaper over it, and rain and irrigation won’t soak through very well until that weed barrier breaks down. Water also helps the decomposition process get going.
  5. If you have compost materials that may contain weed seeds (like fresh manure, leaves, or hay), spread them in layers on the ground. Put a dry, carbonaceous layer of hay or shredded leaves below any manure layer. Avoid thick layers, and make sure to get a good carbon-to-nitrogen ratio just as if you were building a compost pile (see Start with the Soil or other gardening books for details). Water this layer well.
  6. Lay down a weed barrier. I prefer to use large sheets of cardboard from appliance stores, because these last longer and are quicker to lie down. You can use layers of wet newspaper too. Make sure to have a 4- to 6-inch overlap where sheets meet so buried weeds can’t find a route to the surface. If you have already planted crops, or have other preexisting plants, don’t mulch over them. Cut holes in the cardboard to make some breathing space for each plant (or leave some room around each plant when laying newspaper).
  7. Now you can add your weed-free organic materials. I like to keep it simple, and just add a nice layer of compost. You can also do some sheet composting here, alternating layers of nitrogen-rich materials like fresh grass clippings with carbonaceous materials like weed-free straw.
  8. Now you add your final top mulch layer, at least 3 inches thick. Water the whole bed thoroughly once again. Your sheet mulch bed is complete.
  9. You can plant right into your bed if you like. To plant tubers or potted plants, just pull back the top layers until you get to the weed barrier. Cut an X in the cardboard or newspaper. If you are transplanting a large plant, peel back the corners of the X. Throw a double handful of compost in the planting hole and then put in the plant. Pull the layers and top mulch back around the plant, water well, and you’re all set. Planting seeds is easy too. Just pull back the top mulch to the compost layer and plant your seeds. You may want to cut through the weed barrier below first, depending on weed pressure below the barrier. If you are planting seeds, be sure to water regularly, as compost on top of cardboard can dry out quickly.

See that itty-bitty yard space out front?

BAM!! Awesomeness!

Please go visit http://www.chelseagreen.com/content/9-simple-steps-to-sheet-mulching/ for more!


Produce Calendars

From: http://chasingdelicious.com/produce-calendars/

Awesome charts for eating seasonally from Chasing Delicious!

Seasonal Vegetables


 

Seasonal Herbs


 

Seasonal Fruit


DIY Herb Dryer

Old window screen attached to picture frames and some chain.
Brilliant!I think you could also use old stockings instead of window screen, as long as the weave was large enough to let air through.

Here’s a tutorial!

 


Using Trees As Medicine

From: http://wyldestonecottage.blogspot.co.uk/2010/04/using-trees-as-medicine.html

by Ellen Ever Hopman

Many common North American trees can be used as medicine. Their advantage over medicinal herbs is that tree medicines can be used year round. In fact, trees make among the most versatile medicine you will find.

In early spring and summer the leaves of trees are useful healing agents. In fall and winter, the bark and twigs or of the roots may be used to treat common ailments. Some simple rules must be learned, however, and followed for tree medicines to work.

Preparing Tree Medicines for Use

Here are several rules to ensure you are mindful in gathering tree medicines. First never cut the bark off of the trunk of a living tree. Especially avoid girdling the tree by removing the bark as this will kill the tree. To gather bark use that found on a twig or a root of felled tree. In these cases, it is a simple matter of striping the bark off the twig or root with a sharpe knife. Medicinal agents are found in the cambium-the living green or greenish yellow layer just under the outer bark.

Once you have gathered the bark of a tree…

Read entire article


Wildflower Coloring Pages!

From:  http://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/kids/coloring/index.shtmlWelcome to Celebrating Wildflowers Coloring Pages!

Get out your crayons and get ready to color! Celebrating Wildflowers has pages and coloring books you can color while learning more about wildflowers.

We also have some noxious weeds to color. You can learn how they can threaten public health, agriculture, recreation, wildlife, property, and our native plants.

Color Wildflowers Pages Color Wildflowers

Color Wildflowers are wildflowers you can color! Each coloring page includes a wildflower and facts about the flower.

Color of Flowers Sheets Color of Flowers

Color of Flowers are color-by-number pages. Each Color of Flowers page includes four wildflowers. The parts of the wildflowers are numbered. A color is listed for each of the numbers in a table at the bottom of each Color of Flowers sheet.

Coloring Books Covers Coloring Books

Coloring Books are entire wildflower coloring books you can color! Each coloring book includes information about the wildflowers and drawings you can color. You can print the entire coloring book or just the pages you want to color.

You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to open and print these coloring books.

Color Noxious Weeds Pages Color Noxious Weeds

Color Noxious Weeds are weeds you can color! Each noxious weed coloring page includes information about the noxious weed and a drawing you can color.


A Practical Guide to Making Herbal Tinctures

http://www.herbcompanion.com/herbal-living/practical-guide-to-making-herbal-tinctures.aspx

0tincture1
All tinctures are extracts, but not all extracts are tinctures

“…Tinctures are concentrated herbal extracts that have alcohol as the solvent. If you are using water, vinegar, glycerin, or any menstruum (solvent) other than alcohol, your preparation is an extract—not a tincture. Although, there are exceptions to every rule and sometimes an acetum is defined as “a vinegar tincture” in the tomes.

 The Folk Method

Making tinctures is easy. I learned to make tinctures deep in the coniferous woods along green river banks that glitter throughout the Oregon Cascades. Unless you have some sort of handy-dandy collapsible scale contraption that fits in your pack, using the folk method is the way to go when making medicine in the forest! Simple, practical and efficient, this method allows you to estimate your herb measurements by eye. Here are a few important tincturing tips I learned during those years, while apprenticing with the Columbines School of Botanical Studies.

Fresh Herb

• Finely chop or grind clean herb to release juice and expose surface area.
• Fill jar 2/3 to 3/4 with herb. ~ OR ~ Fill jar 1/4 to 1/2 w…

Read the full article : http://www.herbcompanion.com/herbal-living/practical-guide-to-making-herbal-tinctures.aspx


Some Mid-Atlantic wild edibles…

Wild Edibles Common to Philadelphia Area
by Lynn Landes, organizer of Wild Foodies of Philly – wild edibles enthusiast, not expert!

http://www.learnstuff.us/CommonWildEdibles.htm


Wisdom and Know-How Books!

Black Dog and Leventhal Publishers has a great series of large, everything-you-ever-wanted-to-know-about “X” books.

Check them out here.


Added: Herbal Materia Medica (download)

Added Herbal Materia Medica – 5th edition by Michael Moore to herbs section of this website.
Download a brief outline of major medicinal plants, giving preferred media, strengths, and common dosage ranges.
Click here to check it out.