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27 July 2015

Being a Black Community Herbalist

Written by Flora, Posted in Herbal Medicine, Sisterhood, Women's Wellness

black goddess drawingOnce I’m out of bed in the morning, I look for the things I need to honor my ancestor warrior healers: singing bowl, nag champa incense, prayed over stones, orisha candles and lemon water. I call out the names of the African, Indigenous, and white blood and spiritual grandmothers whose shoulders I stand on. These are the women who birthed babies at home, cooked only food they grew or raised, knew which weeds to eat and when, and sat with the dying as they transitioned.

I am a black herbalist, and as such, I am required to do healing work constantly connected to the past, relevant to the communities I’m accountable to, and in service of the future I want to help co-create.

My herbalist praxis, as defined by Paulo Freire, is reflection and action directed at the thing that I wish to transform. I fight against the same conditions that the people who come to see me are struggling with; stress and anxiety which can lead to hormonal imbalances that cause sleep disturbances which impair your immune system and render you vulnerable to depression. These disorders are also connected to the fact that we live in a society founded on racism, patriarchy, misogyny, and capitalism.

22 July 2015

Usnea: Immune-Enhancing Lichen

Written by Flora, Posted in Do It Yourself, Herbal Medicine, Local Plants

UsneaAnyone who has walked through the forests of the southeast has encountered Usnea, but you might not have noticed it. You probably didn’t know that the inconspicuous gray-green fuzzy stuff covering many of the trees is one of the gentlest yet strongest immune tonics in the herb world. Usnea is a lichen; a combination of an algae and a fungus growing together. Also known as Old Man's beard, it grows in little hair-like tufts, with the green algae covering the white string like fungus. The best way to identify Usnea is to pull a string apart and look for this white thread. However, since Usnea is nearly impossible to find in field guides and rarely in herb books, I recommend showing a sample to a knowledgeable person to confirm you've got the right plant.

17 July 2015

Laying on the Earth

Written by Corinna Wood, Posted in Corinna's Corner, Women's Wellness

2015.5.2 core bio 2 med res croppedIn the midst of the freedom and fun of summer, we also can find ourselves overwhelmed with all the fullness! One of my favorite “remedies” this time of year, is simply, to lay on the Earth.
As children, we were naturally drawn to run barefoot --to lie in the sweet summer grass, to play amid the autumn leaves, to sit on the ground. As we reclaim that joy, we actually plug in to the vast, free body of healing energy, of the Earth herself.

A large body of research has now verified what ancient people knew about “earthing”—lying on the Earth for guidance and comfort. Even just a few minutes a day of simply lying quietly in the park, in your yard or garden or in the woods benefits physical, emotional, and spiritual health.

12 July 2015

Magical Medicinal Herbal Coffee

Written by Flora, Posted in Do It Yourself, Herbal Medicine, Nourishing Foods

chicory.dandySeveral years ago I was told that coffee has a negative effect on the delicate kidney and adrenal systems. Knowing that this is a major area of support for sexual energy and Qi (life-force energy), I knew that I needed to take immediate action towards better care of this crucial component of my life and body.

I found a basic recipe for an herbal coffee substitute, played around with some roots from my yard, added a little local honey and dark chocolate, and came up with a magic decoction that is not only not harmful but acts as a powerful tonic for the liver, kidneys and heart while building the blood and Qi.

Add a little cream and you have a delicious latte. I hope you enjoy it!

07 July 2015

Garlic Elixir

Written by Flora, Posted in Do It Yourself, Herbal Medicine, Nourishing Foods

“Garlic and vinegar have been prized for thousands of years for their amazing healing powers. Alone or in combination, these foods are powerful medicine.”

So starts the first chapter of Garlic and Vinegar: Nature’s Healing Twins by Julia Charles. One of our favorite remedies is our Garlic Elixir, a tangy, pungent, yet slightly sweet combination of garlic, apple cider vinegar and honey; a delicious way to nourish and stimulate your immune system. It’s best to buy garlic and honey from local farms to make this tonic for sore throats, sinus congestion, colds and winter blues.

Since the garlic harvest season is fast approaching we’d like to share our Garlic Elixir recipe with you. As you stroll through your local farmer’s market this summer, keep an eye out for garlic and honey to brew up some zesty Garlic Elixir.

alliumsativumsmallGarlic Elixir Recipe
Makes: 1 quart; for smaller batch use same ratio
Prep time: 30 min + 6 weeks brewing time

Ingredients: 
10 oz Garlic
16 oz Apple Cider Vinegar (or other)
5 oz Honey

02 July 2015

Herbs: Fast-acting or Tonic?

Written by Flora, Posted in Herbal Medicine, Local Plants

Herbs are used in two distinct ways. One is in acute situations, providing relief for things like an upset tummy or menstrual cramps. The other is to nourish and regulate organs and systems, revitalizing the body's own ability to maintain overall good health.

plantain 1 600 x 405The first way is fast. The second often takes time. A robust herbal medicine chest contains both types of herbal remedies. Herbs like yarrow, skullcap, plantain, wild lettuce, motherwort, and lemon balm are usually used for acute situations. It is best to take them immediately at the on-set of the issue and at regular intervals to have the most desired effect.

29 June 2015

St. Johnswort, Lemon Balm & Motherwort

Written by Corinna Wood, Posted in Corinna's Corner, Do It Yourself, Herbal Medicine, Local Plants

cw in lemon balmLemon Balm, Motherwort, and St Johnswort are three of my favorite herbs to grow. The pleasures of growing these herbs are many. . .

To begin with, in herb gardening, I am partial to perennials and strong self-sowing annuals, which result in more benefit year by year from the original input of labor. Sure, there’s mulching and tending each year but there’s also the advantage that the plants grow bigger and offer more as they grow.

26 June 2015

Wise Woman Medicine Making

Written by Corinna Wood, Posted in Do It Yourself, Herbal Medicine

At the Fall Conference 2014 Corinna taught a Wise Woman Medicine Making Class. Her very simple and well organized handout is a wonderful go to for beginner and advanced medicine makers alike. When in doubt it's the perfect reference on infusions, tinctures, vinegars, oils and salves.

0 Wise Woman Medicine Making Chart.pdf - HO

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

23 June 2015

Lambsquarters Leaves and Seeds

Written by Corinna Wood, Posted in Corinna's Corner, Do It Yourself, Herbal Medicine, Local Plants, Nourishing Foods

cw 2015.5.22  field med res cropped 320 x 346One of my favorite things to do after work on a long, languid afternoon of summer is to gather a fresh, wild salad for the evening meal. I always add plenty of lambsquarters to my basket. Her curvy, velvety leaves create a mild base for other, stronger tasting salad greens like dandelion.

Lambsquarters is abundant during the late spring and summer season. The beguiling, undulating leaves—often tinted with just a touch of magenta—have the appearance of a webbed goosefoot, hence her botanical name, Chenopodium album, which translates as “goose foot powder”. The powder refers to a chalky coating that appears on the underside of the leaves. It’s a good way to identify her and also gives a hint to one of her nutritional benefits; lambsquarters is high in calcium.

chenopodium giganteum2 484 x 324This is a good thing, particularly because lambsquarters is a native ancestor of spinach. She shares many of the same health benefits but, like spinach, contains some oxalic acid. The high level of calcium in lambsquarters helps to neutralize that component. Like spinach, she’s wonderful cooked as well, and her tender leaves make a wonderful dish when sautéed with some garlic and olive oil (to provide healthy fats which increase absorption of the minerals and nutrients).

18 June 2015

Balancing Hormones

Written by Corinna Wood, Posted in Corinna's Corner, Nourishing Foods, Women's Wellness

2015.5.2 core bio 2 med res croppedSo much of women’s health revolves around our reproductive cycles and the corresponding hormonal cycles. I get countless questions about the estrogen/progesterone balance. Women want to understand more about their PMS, endometriosis, fibroids--or to how to support their fertility, a healthy pregnancy, or menopause.

In these times, many girls and women tend to have high levels of estrogen, or what’s being called “estrogen dominance,” in large part to the xenoestrogens found in pollutants such as plastics, pesticides, and bovine growth hormones, which find their way into our food and water supplies. This estrogen dominance is being found to contribute to many of women’s chronic reproductive system health issues.

Taking steps to balance the hormones is helpful for many reproductive illnesses as well as easing common issues such as PMS or the menopausal transition. Some ideas:

13 June 2015

Fermented Honey: Mead Making 101

Written by Flora, Posted in Do It Yourself, Herbal Medicine, Local Plants, Nourishing Foods

Lindsay Wilson's Mead Making Class that the Fall Conference 2014 was a hit. The following is her handout with information about honey and a thorough recipe. In case you are unfamiliar with mead, it is an alcoholic beverage made from fermented honey. It can be infused with plant matter and used as medicine.

Some basics about honey

  • Humans have been gathering honey a very long time ~ rich symbiotic relationship ~ (a coevolution) of flowering plants, humans, and honey bees
  • Nectar of the flower of plants, stored in the stomach of the bee (predigested) and then regurgitated during a process called “food share” which adds enzymes to the nectar and then inserted into hive cells; they then fan their wings until nectar reaches 18.6% moisture content; cap and store honey
  • Bees change sucrose into glucose & fructose
  • 2 million visits to flower = 1 lb of honey
  • Honey bees travel from up to 3-5 miles to collect nectar, pollen, and resin

10 June 2015

Vitex: For Every Cycle of a Woman's Life

Written by Flora, Posted in Do It Yourself, Herbal Medicine, Women's Wellness

vitex bushby Jessica Godino

Outside my window a lovely little shrub with silvery leaves and clusters of purple flowers is just beginning to bloom. Not only is this plant one of the most beautiful in the garden, it is also one of the most valuable herbs in my medicine chest.

Vitex, also known as Chasteberry or Monk’s Pepper, has an ancient reputation as an an-aphrodisiac for men. The leaves were strewn at the feet of novices as they entered the monastery. However neither modern science nor practical experience supports this particular use of the plant.

05 June 2015

Edible Flowers

Written by Flora, Posted in Herbal Medicine, Local Plants, Nourishing Foods

roseMost people are now familiar with the high flavonoids content of berries, but did you know that edible flowers are also good sources of dietary flavonoids? It may be challenging to ingest enough flowers to contribute a substantial amount of flavonoids in the diet, but some edible flowers are quite large and tasty. Examples are daylily, rose of Sharon, and roselle hibiscus. Plus, who doesn’t want to engage in fleuravory every day?

Edible flowers:
day-lily-1Calendula (Calendula officinalis, Asteraceae)
• Daylily (Hemerocallis fulva, Xanthorrhoeaceae)
• Rose (Rosa spp., Rosaceae)
• Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus, Malvaceae)
• Roselle hibiscus (Hibiscus sabdariffa, Malvaceae)
• Pineapple Sage (Salvia elegans, Lamiaceae)
• Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale, Asteraceae)
• Chives (Allium schoenoprasum, Amaryllidaceae)
• Bee Balm (Monarda didyma and other species, Lamiaceae)
• Squash (Cucurbita pepo, Cucurbitaceae)
• Pansy (Viola, various species and hybrids, Violaceae)
• Nasturtium (Tropaeolum, several species, Tropaeolaceae)

28 May 2015

Fermentation Basics: Lacto-Fermented Apple Chutney

Written by Flora, Posted in Do It Yourself, Nourishing Foods, Women's Wellness

Lindsay Wilson brought so many yummy fermentation recipes to her class at the Fall Conference 2014. We're going to post them here in a series, so come back and look for more! For our last installment, here's a sweet tangy favorite.

Lacto-Fermented Apple Chutney
Makes 1 quart

3 cups fresh cut apples
1/2 cup water
grated rind of 2 lemons
juice of 2 lemons
1/8 cup of rapadura, sucanat
2 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup whey (separated from curds in raw, whole milk ideally)
1/4 cup sunflower seeds or chopped pistachios
1/2 cup dark raisins
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp coriander seed
1 tsp fennel seed

Mix all the ingredients except apples. Add the cut apples and mix well.

Pour into glass quart jar. Cover with a little filtered water if they apples are not covered fully. Make sure there is at least 1 inch of space between top of apples and the lid.

21 May 2015

Fermentation Basics: Lacto-Fermented Pickles

Written by Flora, Posted in Do It Yourself, Nourishing Foods, Women's Wellness

Lindsay Wilson brought so many yummy fermentation recipes to her class at the Fall Conference 2014. We're going to post them here in a series, so come back and look for more! Our fourth installment: Pickles!

“Health and homeostasis require the humans coexist with microorganisms.” ~ Sandor Katz

Lacto-Fermented Pickles
Makes about a quart

4-5 cucumbers (small/medium-sized)
2-3 cloves of garlic
2 Tbsp fresh dill or 1 Tbsp dill seeds
1 Tbsp sea salt
1-2 cups of spring/filtered water (or more if needed)
4 Tbsp whey
couple grape or oak leaves

If you don’t have whey, use one more tbsp of sea salt. I definitely prefer whey when I make my ferments, though.

Place the leaves (tannins in the leaves keep the pickles nice and crisp), garlic, and dill into the jar.

Pack the jar snug with quartered cucumbers (or smaller sections).

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