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Herbal Medicine

04 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)

18 May 2015

Comfrey: Symphytum officinale

Written by Flora, Posted in Herbal Medicine, Local Plants

2009.6 comfreyWe grow comfrey in every spare nook. This deep-rooted perennial comes from Europe but has naturalized here, and it is one of the first plants to come up vigorously in the spring. Its leaves are large and dark green, and the plant also boasts purple or blue flowers which nod over in clusters. It flowers from May to August and will produce four cuttings through the season.

Comfrey has long been used medicinally and is most renowned for its ability to heal wounds, stings, sprains, and inflammations of all kinds. Known commonly as “knitbone,” it is used for healing broken bones in people and animals. Probably due to its high mineral content and the phytochemical allantoin, it stimulates cell reproduction.

11 May 2015

Make a Wild Salad

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

2015.4.3 corinna nettles - med cropI know many of you have already been getting out into the garden and woods to harvest the edible wild plants this spring. With so many abundant edible “weeds,” making a wild salad can be a simple, quick dish that delights the eye as well as the palette.

To make an easy wild salad, I usually pick one mild-tasting, wild edible herb for the foundation -- like chickweed, violet, or lambsquarters. Of course, it's fine to mix in some fresh, local spinach or lettuce leaves to get you started.

Then throw in smaller quantities of dandelion leaves, ox-eye daisy leaves, and/or other strong-flavored wild edibles that you’re familiar with. If you have violet or dandelion blossoms blooming nearby, by all means, garnish your salad with those beautiful blossoms!

03 May 2015

Cleavers: Galium aparine

Written by Flora, Posted in Herbal Medicine, Local Plants

cleavers flowerAs children (and adults) we love to make garlands, fairy crowns and corsages out of the abundant, and local Galium aparine, aka Cleavers. The fine hairs of the leaves, stems, and seeds tipped with tiny hooks, allow this lovely plant to attach - or cleave - to clothes, fur, hair and more.

cleavers on wristCleavers is an herbaceous annual with long stems that climbs and sprawls over the ground and other plants. The lanceolate leaves are simple and borne in whorls of six to eight, and the white to greenish flowers are 2-3 mm across with four petals. It flowers in early spring to summer, and each seed is 4-6 mm in diameter. The peak potency for harvesting is when both flower and seeds are present.

 

26 April 2015

How to Make an Herbal Infusion

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

An infusion is a potent, powerful, medicinal tea. To make an infusion, the plant material must be steeped for a long time. We find the easiest way to do this is to prepare before going to bed and drink in the morning. Instructions gathered from Susun Weed.
quart infusion

To prepare an infusion:
1. Put one ounce (approximately a cup) of dried herb into a quart jar.
2. Fill with boiling water and cover (this traps the important volatile oils).
3. Steep for 4-10 hours.
4. Strain and drink.
5. Refrigerate the remainder to prevent spoilage.

 

22 April 2015

Rainbow of Flavonoids

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

Juliet Blankespoor explains all the delicious benefits of a flavonoid-rich diet in this highly informative handout from the Southeast Women’s Herbal Conference 2014.

raspberries 400x600Imagine a bowl overflowing with color: garnet cherries aside crimson and golden raspberries, blueberries the color of a summer sky, resting against the blush of rose petals. Juicy and alluring, tempting you with vibrancy that promises fresh sweetness. Our intuition is fine-tuned to spot vitality and nutritional density. Humans are naturally drawn to bright colors in our food—the invention of food coloring testifies to this phenomenon. There are a wide variety of compounds lending their color to food; flavonoids are some of the most researched and widely represented colorful phytochemicals in the plant world. It is refreshing to dive deep into the well of tradition and science, both of which describe the medicinal virtues of these tasty treats.

09 April 2015

Wildcrafting Tips

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

imm out 2015 6 536 cropped lo resWildcrafting is fun and exciting, a bit like a treasure hunt. You'll come home with lots of fresh, edible and medicinal treasures from your bioregion. Here are some tips to get you started.

1. Start with a few easily recognized plants, and get to know new plants slowly.

2. Study the poisonous plants that grow in your area, and always know whether the plant you're harvesting has any poisonous look-alikes.

3. Always be sure you have identified a plant correctly, either through the use of a field guide or an experienced harvester.

24 March 2015

Are Standardized Extracts Better?

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

Here’s an excerpt from an article by Nancy and Michael Phillips to help address that question.
Green Blessings ~ Corinna

2012.5 hand with red clover top of pagePhilosophy enters deeply into the debate on standardizing herbal preparations. People oriented towards a scientific point of view feel the need to quantify healing possibilities by knowing the concentration of the chosen active principle (constituent) used to achieve proven results. Others view synergy and spirit as working in ways we may not fully comprehend but have certainly observed with whole plant remedies that embrace healing, often in more ways than one.

11 September 2014

Black Walnut: Juglans nigra

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

2012.4.5 corinna purThe black walnut (Juglans nigra) can be hard to miss at this time of year—or to mistake for anything else. There are other regional trees with pinnate leaves that have a similar appearance but as we move toward fall, an abundance of yellowish-green “tennis balls”—the fallen fruits—covers the ground around the base of black walnut trees.

green blk walnutsI adore black walnut’s edible nutmeat—it has a richer, more complex flavor than the supermarket variety European walnut. Nutritionally, black walnuts are dense with proteins and essential fatty acids, wonderful for heart health. But the prized meats are nestled deep inside those greenish balls, and it takes a bit of effort to tease out the nut meat.

03 July 2014

Jewelweed

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

jewelweed flower

I just returned from a special journey back to my hometown, introducing my son for the first time to my old stomping grounds. When we went through the local Arboretum up there, I fondly recalled to him how, as a girl, I first met a particularly enchanting plant ally: jewelweed (Impatiens capensis).

In an Arboretum nature walk for children, the leader entranced me by submerging a translucent, serrated-edged jewelweed leaf in water, glistening silver like a mermaid underwater. And then removing it to show how the water droplets beaded up, like little “jewels” glittering in the sun! I still love to catch sight of her shimmering at the edges of ponds and streams after a light summer rain.

Adding to the fun were the distinctively spotted, brilliant orange cornucopia-shaped flowers that come out in the late summer. Turns out, their common name is “touch-me-not”, since the ripe flower seems rather ticklish and will shoot out spirals of seedpods when pinched or prodded—much to our delight!

01 May 2014

Sweet Ox-eye Daisy

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

cw cropped hatAfter the dormant months of winter, springtime is so sweet—made even sweeter by the appearance of that delightful lady, the oxeye daisy. I feel elated this time of year when I catch sight of her curvy, dark green leaves.

It was her flower — a beautiful, large yellow center surrounded by spreading white petals — that first drew me to her. Then I came to recognize the unique shape of her leaves. Oxeye daisy has toothed leaves like dandelion, but each of the little lobes are distinctly rounded and spoon-shaped.

 

18 November 2013

Poke Root

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

PokeRootLate fall is the best time to harvest roots. One of my apothecary favorites is a low-dose botanical - the root of the Poke plant. Often considered toxic, I discovered that in the South poke root has traditionally been used in tiny doses as an immune stimulant. This powerful plant actually has a wide range of medicinal uses -- but you have to treat it with respect or risk unpleasant side effects (see below).

Herbs can rival the effectiveness of antibiotics, and they're generally much gentler on the body. Some folks turn to goldenseal for this purpose, but it is an endangered species. Poke, on the other hand, is a weed -- the problem is not having too little of it, but too much. And for most purposes, poke is at least as good, if not better.

23 August 2013

Plant Communication

Written by Flora, Posted in Corinna's Corner, Herbal Medicine, Local Plants

blog plant communication"Open to the world of plants and see what it has to say. After all, your heart chakra is green!" This statement, uttered during a plant communication class, resonated with an unstruck chord. Months later, I found myself at SE Wise Women's Spring Herbal Immersion where we experienced this practice. Corinna led us to a shady area overflowing with a tall, green, proud plant. We laid under her stalks, relaxed our bodies, and as the drum played, we began to listen.

04 July 2013

A Circle of Friends

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

6006 336360376466583 1820463906 nI have an intimate circle of friends. Nettles, comfrey, dandelion, burdock, violet, chickweed.... These friends are my plant allies, a circle of a dozen or so plants that meet most of my wild food and medicinal needs. I prefer to align myself with these backyard herbal friends over some of the more exotic, foreign, rare or declining plants. The allies in my circle make themselves at home right at my door-step, they are local and abundant.

16 May 2013

Meddle with Nettle

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

DSC 5110Anyone who loves green, growing things becomes enchanted in springtime. I love to go foraging during those first warm days, and, well, sometimes I become distracted. One particularly fine afternoon recently, a friend and I were blissfully picking violets near an old barn when my arm brushed against a nearby plant, and I felt a familiar tingle – an electricity – where we had touched. Nettle! How could I have missed her? Not one to be ignored, she quickly got my attention, and that of my friend as well.

Before I begin extolling her virtues, perhaps I should address her antisocial side. It’s unfortunate - nettle’s inhospitable demeanor belies her true nature as an incredibly generous herbal ally. Few plants provide such a rich resource to help nurture our wellness and nourish our bodies.

 

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