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Herbal Medicine

28 October 2015

Immunostimulating Herbs

Written by Flora, Posted in Herbal Medicine, Local Plants

spilanthes 400x600As the cold weather sets in, getting a refresher in immune enhancing and supporting herbs can help us all prepare for winter colds and flus. Here are some resources from Juliet Blankespoor's immunity class from the 2014 Herbal Conference. This is part 1 of 3, see also Part 2: Immunomodulating Herbs and Part 3: Immune Tonic Tea

Herbs for acute infections

This group of herbs is typically used to treat short-term, acute infections through the stimulation of immune activity. Immunostimulants help the body to resist infection during the beginning stages of infection, as well as throughout the duration of infectious illness. Many studies have demonstrated shorter periods of infectious illness with the use of herbal immunostimulants, as opposed to placebo. Potential exposure to a contagious pathogen is another indication for immunostimulation. Personally, whenever I fly, I take Spilanthes to help my body effectively cope with the higher concentration and variety of potential pathogens. A good number of these herbs also possess anti-microbial activity, and thus help the body to fight infection by augmenting the immune response, in addition to directly inhibiting the pathogen itself.

13 October 2015

Calendula: Golden Drops of Sunshine

Written by Flora, Posted in Herbal Medicine, Local Plants

By Jessica Godino

Calendula BasketAlthough we haven't had a frost yet, we have had several really cold nights. Many of the plants in the garden are turning yellow and dying back. But my Calendula patch looks happier than ever. In fact, the plants have put out a whole new set of blossoms since I last picked them just a few days ago. These Calendula plants will live well into the fall, surviving until the very deepest of frosts. And although I will miss them when they die, I know in spring babies from some of the flowers I wasn't quick enough to pick will sprout all over the garden, ensuring another years supply.

Calendula is native to Europe but because of its beauty and adaptability gardeners have spread it around the world. The flowers range in color from mild yellow to deep orange, and because of their intensity have been called "golden drops of sunshine."

10 September 2015

Hawthorn: Little Rose for the Heart

Written by Flora, Posted in Herbal Medicine, Local Plants

hawthorn flowersWhen most of us think of love, the flower that comes to mind is Rose. However, the noble Rose has a humble cousin that is such a gentle yet powerful tonic for the heart that perhaps it should be the symbol of love. This little known relative is Hawthorn (Cratageus sp.), a small tree that loves sunny and windy places. It has beautiful pinkish flowers in the spring that turn into dusky red berries by fall. Unfortunately, no one will ever send you a bouquet of Hawthorn because it is covered in thorns even bigger than the ones on roses!

Hawthorn is well known to herbalists as a restorative tonic for the heart, one that is able to revitalize the whole cardiovascular system. It has been used to regulate heart rhythm in cases of arrhythmia and tachycardia, and helps to slowly rebuild the heart in cases of degenerative heart disease. It is also a wonderful tonic for people with high blood pressure and arteriosclerosis. By helping to dilate the arteries it can improve blood flow to all parts of the body. This little shrub is a good friend to people with poor circulation.

05 August 2015

The Wise Woman Tradition

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

“The Wise Woman Tradition is the oldest tradition of healing known on our planet, yet one that is rarely identified, rarely written or talked about. A woman-centered tradition of self-love, respectful of the earth and all her creatures, the Wise Woman Tradition tells us that compassion, simple ritual and common herbs heal the whole person and maintain health/wholeness/holiness.” ~ Susun Weed, Healing Wise

candle in hands 600 x 417Our society insists on duality. There’s an either/or paradigm in mainstream culture, and even in much of the “alternative” sensibility and New Age spirituality.

It’s all about the “light,” and a predisposition to shutting out what is mysterious and “dark.” That tends to include the Earth—which remains untamed despite all efforts to master her—and woman, whose body and its great mysteries are intricately intertwined with Earth’s body.

The prevailing paradigm tells us that we need to overcome our connection to our bodies and to the physical plane in order to achieve a high level of spiritual “purity.” It calls us to answer to a “higher authority” that dictates strict codes of behavior, telling us that we are, essentially, dirty and flawed; in need of being saved. It negates so many essential parts of our experience as human beings and as women.

27 July 2015

Being a Black Herbalist

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

Black Community Herbology

black goddess drawingI 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.

Once 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.

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.

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).

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.

bee on dandelion 450x600Some 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

by Jessica Godino

vitex plant 600x400Outside 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

Most 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?

calendula 600x400Edible flowers:
• Calendula (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)

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