Thursday, December 27, 2007

Snow For Christmas!

Nice surprise! We had a white Christmas! According to the news it was the first white Christmas(down to the valley floor) in the pacific northwest in a few decades. It has been snowing steady all day, it looks like we will probably get at least 4 or 5 more inches.

I have been relaxing after a busy holiday. We drove to the coast to visit relatives and enjoyed some great seafood. Unfortunately however, it did not agree with me so I spent the last few days (and early mornings 2 am) sick again :( Back to tea and chicken soup for me! Still waiting for the first trimester nausea & throwing up to pass- thought it would be over by now!

Best wishes and enjoy the new year!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Update & Holiday Plans

Just a quick note to let everyone know I have been ill with morning, afternoon and evening sickness most of the time. If I do have moments when I feel OK I find myself having to play catch up on things, leaving little time for the blog. I have also hosted Thanksgiving and Ella's 1st Birthday party. Both events went great to spite my nausea and having to excuse myself to the restroom at 1 hour intervals. Ella is doing great, walking and growing like a weed!
Relatives will be coming in from the East Coast for the holidays soon, I will be busy with family and friends and getting as much rest as I can fit in. I have spent very little time on the computer, taking time to grade student assignments and check email only. The blog posting will be much more regular after the holidays and hopefully I will be feeling better soon (fingers crossed that this is only first trimester).

In the mean time warm tea & bland warm foods have been my friend. The weather has been very cold making it easy to crawl under the covers at every opportunity and just rest when I have a chance. When dizziness, exhaustion, and nausea set in & I feel like just laying around I watch Star Trek reruns, forensic shows, old movies, or listen to Harry Potter books on CD (when Tony is home to watch Ella of course) :)

Happy Holidays Everyone!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Strengthening autumn Foods Thyme thymus vulgaris

During the last stages of autumn the air gets crisp, cold season approaches and we crave warming comfort foods. I love to eat with the seasons, it is a shock for the body to drink colds sodas and eat cold foods when the weather is cool outside. Many herbs that are used everyday in cooking that were recently harvested from your garden also have healing properties, I love to fresh freeze herbs in ice cube trays, remove when frozen, store in a container (in the freezer) & label;use through the winter for soups, stews, and other recipes. It is also great to add your dried herbs to recipes and use year round for healing teas. Thyme is warming & spicy~ as a medicine thyme is a great respiratory herb, stimulating to the immune system, & is used to clear up phlegm and stop coughing (antispasmodic properties) Thyme is also great combined with other culinary herbs such as sage for sore throats, horseradish for head colds, and combined with echinacea it is great for the immune system.Thyme also is great to add to syrups for colds, Henriette has some great recipes here, herbal Honey's check it out on Rebecca's site, and Kiva writes about using Thyme as a substitute for Monarda in her mountain medicine chest post. Thyme is indicated for acute and chronic respiratory problems. coughs, gas, indigestion, diarrhea, whooping cough, bronchitis, spasmodic respiratory and urinary tract conditions, urinary tract infections. Legends say that if you sleep on a bed of thyme and inhale the fragrance you will never have nightmares, it will cure depression and you will wake rested and exhilarated. In ancient Greece the herb represented courage and bravery, it was often burned as incense to clear the air of illness and disease. In the middle ages women would wear embroidered scarves with a design of a honey bee and a sprig of thyme to protect the solders knights that were going into battle.
Culinary Pleasure~ I love to add thyme to fish and poultry dishes, it combines well with parsley and bay. You can drink thyme alone or with other herbs. Here is a great warming, roasted vegetable recipe from Healing secrets of the seasons by Judith Hurley
Thyme Roasted Vegetables
4 carrots, sliced
2 onions, quartered
2 cups whole button mushrooms
2 medium potatoes, cut into 2 inch chuncks
5 cloves garlic, peeled
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried
Pinch of sea salt
1/2 cup vegetable stock or water
In a large cast iron roaster, or other roasting pan, combine all of the ingredients and cover. Roast until the vegetables are almost tender, about 45 minutes. Remove the cover, stir, and continue to roast, uncovered, until the vegetables are very tender, about 20 minutes more. Serve warm as a lunch or dinner entree.
Makes 4 servings
Resource Healing Secrets of the Seasons By Judith Benn Hurley
Healing with the herbs of life Tierra
The Magic Teaspoon By Victoria Zac
Rosemary Gladstar's Family Herbal
Picture used with permission

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Another way to get free plants

Writing the recent blog party Local Herbs post got me to thinking about ways you can get local herbs/ wild foods for free without having to know where to wildcraft and if it is legal. I have talked about asking the land owners permission in the past to gather plants. You may think it is a little embarrassing to ask someone you do not know to gather weeds off of their property. One thing I found this year was people are giving away herbs for free! Many people re landscape their gardens, check the paper and craig's list, often people give the plants away to make room for new ones! Also I would post something yourself on craig's list, simply offer to come to someone's property to collect "weeds" or post "looking to collect your weeds for free" and see how many responses you get! Also, if you see new construction about to go on, ask to talk to the foreman, if you are nice the will probably have no problem with you collecting plants before they break ground (they may think you are a little nutty but o well!) I am sure there are many more ways to collect, including word of mouth, you would be surprised just mentioning you collect plants, someone may know someone who owns private property. My husband and Dad both go to private property sites to hunt and fish, I just ask if I can tag along to collect plants, they always have some teasing remark, but I get my plants!

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Kiva's Blog Party Local Herbs

Have you ever read Medicinal Plants of the Mountain West and Medicinal Plants of the Pacific Coast by Michael Moore? Well if you have you see the difficulty I have narrowing this down to my 100 mile radius~ I do however have some plants I really want to focus on, these of course will not be the only plants I work with and there will be barter and trade going on. Some of these are old friends that I cannot be without and others I want to get to know better. This was so hard to narrow down! No real order, I kept adding herbs as I thought of them. Honestly, my list was much smaller, but I kept adding plants LOL! I may not get to all of these, or I may work with others I run across, but I think this is a good start!


Aster, chokecherry, Yarrow, mullein, nettles, false solomon's seal,sage, crains bill, self heal, osha, angelica, goldenrod,usnea, violet, red root, mallow, California poppy, cow parsnip, skullcap, Devil's club, Ground Ivy, maidenhair (& other) ferns, plantain, Hawthorn, Salal, yellow dock, wild ginger, red root, mints (& work more with bee balm monarda fistulosa, henbit Lamium amplexicaule), licorice, horehound, evening primrose, Coptis, coltsfoot, currant (ribes species), cleavers, elder berry, evening primrose, Rosemary, catnip, burdock, bunchberry (cornus canadensis), chickweed , chicory, red clover, dandelion, wild rose, wood betony, uva ursi, valarian, St Johns Wort, red raspberry, motherwort, echinacea, horsetail, Hound's Tongue, Huckleberry leaf, knapweed, meadowsweet, Oregon grape, Pearly Everlasting, pyrola, serviceberry, sheep sorrel, sweetroot Osmorrhiza occidentalis, Thistle, Wild Mustards Brassica nigra Capsella bursa-pastoris and Lepidium perfoliatum, Black Walnut Hulls, Wild strawberry root and leaves.

Trees (OK give me a break I have to list these separate, so many!)

Ash (fraxinus)
Red Cedar
Douglas fir

Friday, November 2, 2007

Pregnancy Tea and getting back in the swing of things

Well as you can see it has been a while since my last post. Don't worry, I am beginning to get back in the swing of things. I decided to take a break from the computer, now tackling my literally hundreds of emails on my return. You see I have not been feeling well, nausea, head aches, exhausted, crampy.......anyway we are expecting again! I am enjoying my Pregnancy tea Rose hips, Dandelion root, Raspberry leaf, nettles, spearmint, oats, and Alfalfa. I have a history of high risk/ early miscarriage and complications. I also made a tincture of False Unicorn, wild yam, partridge berry and a little cramp bark- I have a separate cramp bark and wild yam tincture I take when I feel the cramping coming on. I am also taking my pre natal, extra calcium magnesium, vit D, and fish oil, my diet is great - ironically I am craving steamed vegetables, soups & salads, not anything weird like ice cream or pickles. My husband insists I go the high tech hospital way at least until the the pregnancy has been shown to be "normal" and not high risk~ at that time I would like to switch to a midwife and try water birth if possible. We had an early scare because they did not see anything on the first ultra sound, the fear was an ecotopic pregnancy may be possible because of my past history. That was ruled out however when 2 days later a gestational sac was there and normal HCG level increases. I go back next week to confirm normal development has continued. The whole thing has taken an emotional tole coupled with exhaustion, and trying to talk myself out of fear of the past repeating itself. Going the high tech way also has a rigid, cold feel about it that I don't particularity like, although I do really like my Doctor, she does take the time to talk with me, is very understanding and warm, and is not anti herbal remedies.
Look forward to some new posts in the next few days including Kiva's blog party (late sorry about that)

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Immediate food allergy reactions and food sensitivities

An immediate food allergy reaction is when you are allergic to a certain type of food, the reaction is predictable, happens every time you ingest the food, and it happens immediately. I have a family member who has this issue, his throat closes and he feels as if he cannot breath when eating the offending food. This reaction happens when he eats various types of melons, it has even happened to him when he has eaten pizza (who knows what went into the sauce). So this person avoids this type of food (not pizza, just that place where he bought it that time LOL). He has other problems as well on a daily basis, excessive gas, chronic heart burn, IBS symptoms, and even a tendancy toward depression, anxiety and problems with "brain fuzziness" . Could this be food caused? Unfortunately a little bird with a white coat has whispered in his ear that food sensitivities are a bunch of BS. He has no problem avoiding the foods that cause the immediate reaction, but foods causing IBS and heart burn, come on! In fact, people who have these types of reactions are likely to have other less 'obvious' food sensitivities as well.

Food can be emotional and complex, it involves tradition, habits, and emotional attachments. No one wants to feel like they must be "deprived" after all, their aunt, brother, Grandma or whoever always ate the food so they should be able to right? If a person can get past this and try an elimination diet to see if it may make them feel better, maybe they would be willing to change. Mind body techniques, really getting in touch with your body and working with it instead of against it can really benefit. Meditation (this does not have to be traditional, simply taking a time to be silent and connect is OK, or even a walk or yoga), and being in the present, delaying immediate gratification in order to have your body functioning at it's optimum level will help as well. Rewarding yourself with other things instead of food is also a good alternative, massage, a brisk walk, a swim these things will help decrease stress and increase energy~ you feel better immediately, you will wonder why you thought you needed that cookie for a quick energy boost. Change is very hard for most people, but the benefits will outweigh any temporary discomfort. After a while your new style of eating will be like second nature, you will make mistakes, and your body will likely let you know you made them, simple try and do better most of the time rather than giving up completely. The question is, how bad do you really want to improve your quality of life? There are many symptoms that may be related to food sensitivity.

Here are some examples (and there may be others):
  • Chronic Digestive problems of all kinds
  • recurring infections of any kind
  • recurring inflammatory conditions of any kind
  • Difficulty loosing weight, putting on weight easily to spite exercise
  • Unexplained bouts of fatigue after eating
  • Tendency to hold water that is not associated with cyclic fluid retention or menstrual cycling
  • Chronic dark rings under eyes
  • Chronic horizontal creases under the lower eye lids
  • Frequent stuffy nose or nasal drip for no explainable reason, clearing throat after eating
  • Chronically swollen glands, with no known reason
  • Bouts of anxiety, sweating, or heart palpitations withing several hours of eating
  • Frequent unexplained skin rashes
  • Immediate family members with food allergies or asthma
  • History of gall bladder disease
  • Mental fuzziness for fogginess after eating
  • Bouts of "low blood sugar" that do not go away
  • Headaches that don't go away
  • General ill feelings that do not go away and are not explainable
I highly recommend keeping a food diary of everything you eat for one week (be honest and consistent) I have found that this is hard for some to do, but it is very important, many people are not eating consciously, in other words, eating while driving, eating and doing other things, many times forgetting that they ate the particular food at all. Sit down and take a break when you eat, really be in the present moment. Find foods that overlap each other that you eat frequently (these may be culprits), also note any symptoms you may feel after eating. Try the elimination diet that Henriette explains on her blog on the post about food sensitivities- you will also find much more detailed information there about the subject. Once you start an elimination diet, you will be amazed at some of the creative alternatives you may come up with! Ask family members to help as well and do not bring the offending foods into the house to make you tempted.

Besides the major culprits discussed on many web pages and in books that focus on food sensitivity (Dairy, Wheat, soy, corn, yeast, eggs, citrus, carrots, apples and berries, members of the nightshade family, refined sugars)

Be mindful of what you drink and cook with as well, you may be sensitive to; alcohol, refined sugars and or additives in drinks, coffee or certain teas, citrus drinks, tap water, certain processed oils, additives and preservatives such as MSG & food colorings (before you spice up that meat, read the label many pre made spice blends have added preservatives, colorings, sugar and other junk! or better yet create your own spices with fresh herbs or single herbs where you know the source)

Really read those labels!

Changing food habits can be very hard at first, I have heard every justification and excuse in the book, but I guess what it boils down to is how bad do you really want to feel better and have a better quality of life. I have seen the effects of those who have stayed committed. I have one client who found she had food sensitivities to both dairy and gluten, she worked out daily and could not loose weight, plus she had many other symptoms, as soon as she eliminated these foods, she dropped 30 pounds, feels great, has more energy and even has had improvements with her menstrual symptoms, her relationships have improved and she has more energy to spend time with her child and husband after she does her daily workout. Trust me if you have food sensitivities, it is worth it to change your food choices!

Resourse: Healthy Digestion the natural way L Berkson 2000

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Devil's Club Oplopanax horridum Pacific Northwest

Image URL:

Kiva's Post reminded me of some of the Pacific Northwest Native American uses for Devil's Club Oplopanax horridum. Native American tribes in British Columbia used a tea made from the root of Devil's club to treat diabetes (Kiva talks about her success with blood sugar levels in her post)
Other Coast Native American's used a strong decoction of the bark to cause vomiting to purify themselves before important events. It was given to all members of war parties, and to hunters before important expeditions. Strong sacred medicinal power is attributed to this plant by the Pacific Northwest Native American tribes. The medicine man of the tribe would wear devil's club wood as an amulet for protection from negative energies or supernatural beings. Entire lodges were built of devil's club to keep bad intruders out. Pieces of the bark were also attached to fish hooks to ensure a good catch of fish.

Devils club root tendencies are cooling, stimulating and supportive, it is part of the ginseng family. According to Sharol Tilgner (see references) Paraphrased; This is another plant that is indicated for adrenal burnout with mental, emotional and physical exhaustion. Devil's club is indicated for generally worn out individuals who lack mental and emotional strength. It would be indicated for an individual who needed spiritual strength and invigoration. This herb would be indicated for someone who is feeling oppressed and insecure (timid), needs a spiritual uplifting, and is overwhelmed by a stressful situation either physical, emotional or both. I have not used Devil's club for this specific purpose, but the Native American uses tell me at the very least, perhaps it may be a good herb to wear or have on your person(something that not many people think of using herbs nowadays, but can be very effective) for emotional spiritual uplifting & security. I see this plant working on a deep emotional level with the person who is using it as healing medicine. I have read other sources that state it is part of the ginseng family but not the same medicine or to be used as a substitute for ginseng ( not that I would think of it as exactly the same). According to Gregory Tilford it is a strong respiratory stimulant and expectorant. It's use for blood sugar regulation has been documented in this century by scientific studies~ Plus Kiva Rose reports hands on experience or it working great for this purpose~ Quote"Really helps with those evil sugar cravings that potentially drive you to ripping open candy bar wrappers with your teeth" Even Better!. Michael Moore states in his book "Medicinal Plants of the Pacific West" (1993, Red Crane Press, Santa Fe) that it works best for stocky mezomorphs with elevated blood fats, and perhaps hypertension. Devil's club is a plant I plan on working with more, to experience it's subtle energies and especially it's effect on a emotional level.

Devil's club must have gotten it's name from it's brittle sharp spines that can easily break off in your skin, they can be considered a weapon of sorts if one breaks off in your hand while trying to collect it, or it stabs you in your leg as you are hiking past (perhaps this is the plant teaching us awareness and respect) The plant can get quite large under the right rain forest type conditions, some as tall as 8 ft. The stems often curve and turn in several directions and the leaves can be quite large in diameter up to a foot. The flowers are small and white, later developing into long clusters of bright red berries, it blooms from April till June. If you want to eat this plant the young shoots are edible, but catch them early because of the spikes (make sure you know the plant you are identifying) Devil's club can be found in Alaska as well as the Pacific Northwest, mountains of California, parts of Montana, and the Idaho panhandle. The whole bark of the root and the lower portion of the stalk are used as medicine it is very aromatic and high in essential oil; use, or dry and store immediately to retain volatile oil components.

Resource: Profiles of Northwest Plants by Peggy Robinson
Herbal medicine from the heart of the earth S. Tilgner N.D
Edible and Medicinal Plants of the west Tilford

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Coho Salmon For Dinner!

Tony Caught this Coho Salmon fishing at Cedar Creek on the Sandy River this morning (that is our dog Koa checking it out). The fish had tons of eggs to use for future bait. Yum! Can't wait for dinner! I think I will broil the fish with some of my garden fresh tomatoes.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

No more naked gardening?


The town of Happy Valley here is Oregon is trying to pass an law against naked gardening. Come On! I can think of a lot better laws to try and put on the books- people are actually wasting their time with this?

That's it, I'm streaking the neighborhood in protest!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Elk Steak Stew

Burrr! It's cold, windy and rainy today. Perfect day to cuddle up Ella and make some Elk steak stew! I received an excellent bottle of red wine from the nice store clerk the other day (mentioned in my nasturtium post)I always cook with wine I like to drink~ I would never use "cooking wine". We received the Elk in trade for fish (Tony didn't get an Elk this year) I don't cook with a recipe, my intuition is my guide, I just add a handful of this and a dash of that, so here is my description.
So I browned the Elk steak (3 firm shoulder steaks a little bigger than the size of your hand) in oil on the bottom of the pan (the secret to browning is, if the steak feels like it does not want to come off the bottom, don't turn it over, wait until it shrinks and dis attaches itself, then you can turn it)

Anything that grows in the ground is great for stew, I happened to have potatoes, carrots, onions- chop them in big chunks- use more veges than meat because they will shrink upon cooking- and add 1/2 the vegetables (no need to brown the veges, the steak gives plenty of browning flavor)~ red wine (the more the better) a little over half the bottle.

I added some water (you could use stalk) so you just cover the meat and vegetables, a large sprig of rosemary and a few bay leaves. I will let them simmer most of the day, toward the end of cooking, I will add the second half of the vegetables (so you get the best of both worlds, all the flavor of the veges you added earlier and that thickness of the cooked potatoes, plus the firmness of the vegetables you just added) A little sea salt and pepper if needed for seasoning....

Yum! Just the smell throughout the house is delish!

Passionflower Gift

Just wanted to share this excellent start of passionflower I received from my Mom today. She added rooting hormone, I am hoping it will take root, adjust to my garden & thrive! Lovely!

Monday, October 1, 2007

Blog Party - What plant got me started in all this?

Wow, plants mean so many different things to me I cannot pinpoint one that got me started. Plants have been my ally in so many ways. My stinging nettle post is a good example, as well as my musings about going and collecting plants with my family. I remember as a child when things first started to get really stressful in my home with my family, my mom would bring me chamomile tea at night to sooth my nervous stomach and help me sleep, I used to call it "pee tea" because of it's yellow color (give me a break I was only about 5 lol) This gave me comfort, even if it was only for a little while. Behind my house was a woods where I would spend hours getting to know the plants and eating wild foods. When I was around 8 the book The Clan Of the Cave Bear came out by Jean M Auel (you can read about some of the herbs used in the book here), this book is what really got me more interested in herbs for healing purposes, and I knew this is what I wanted to do. Herbs were used in my family, but sometimes things are taken for granted, and this book really helped me put it all together, got me excited about herbs and healing. I could relate to the book because Ayla the main character, was a strong girl and an outsider that others did not understand. The medicine woman took her under her wing to spite what the others in the clan thought, this very much reminded me of my own life and my Grandmother. I had a lot of problems and dysfunction in my immediate family, I was lucky to have my Grandmother to go to for support & healing. My Grandmother was spiritual, loved to cook, garden, quilt, sew, write poetry and tell stories around the table. She was born in 1905 up in the mountains of Arkansas, she attended school in a one room school house, she lived miles away from any hospital or paved road, there were no doctors, the doctors were the "granny women" ( this is what they called women home herbalists/midwives in Arkansas) . This was a simple time when people still used horse and buggy to get around, used herbs for medicine, & the houses had no electricity or indoor pluming. I used to love to hear her stories about her times in Arkansas. After she got married, she left Arkansas, her and my Grandpa traveled and worked the fields for a living with their children in tow, not only was a doctor financially impossible, but impractical (they lived in berry shacks temporarily as they traveled from crop to crop). She took the lessons she learned from her mother and the mountains of Arkansas and applied them to her own family. She had many children and grandchildren, she acted as the family "traveling nurse" (her education? Good old fashioned mountain medicine) she would be there to assist anyone after surgery or childbirth( she herself gave birth to 10 children at home) She was the spiritual adviser, nurse, teacher and mother for the whole family. She would make me toys that she had sewn herself and her quilts still keep me warm at night. I remember standing on a stool in the kitchen helping her cook using fresh vegetables out of the garden, drinking tea, and helping her tend to her flower garden. She loved to write so we would often play word games. She would send me loving and inspiring hand written letters & poems that would always arrive just at the right time when I needed healing medicine~ I received countless letters, one I pulled out of the stack I have reads- Sept 9- 1985: " I don't get to see you nearly enough but I love you just the way you are and that is the way God loves us too. Stay sweet and be true to yourself" Great advice for someone entering the 8th grade in a new school. In my crazy teens, days would go by and I would not go see my Grandmother, when I did finally make it over, it was as if I never left, she welcomed me with open arms, an open ear, and something warm and soothing to eat and drink. She has a quiet strength about her that was her medicine she gave to me. I knew I was safe, loved and understood. She was the ultimate medicine woman. So I guess what I am trying to say is it was not only the plants that got me started in wanting to be a "medicine woman" it was my Grandmother. Her quite patience & wisdom, her practice of old ways instilled in me, taught me to take the time and see the plants & learn from them & her qualities as a healer showed me what medicine was really about. My Grandma had a lot of grandchildren and great grandchildren, she chose me to take under her wing and pass on this wonder domestic art, I plan to pass this on to my own daughter, and hopefully someday she in turn will pass it on as well.

Women healed the sick by ministering to their souls as well as their bodies. They mobilized patients’ hopes and restored their confidence; their role was psychological, spiritual, and physical. While none of their techniques could match the power of today’s antibiotics and other tools of modern medicine, domestic medicine was more effective than it has been given credit for. At a time when little else was available, women maintained the health of their families and neighbors with home remedies, prayer, ritual, and love. That was no small achievement.

Quoted from the above article :

View the blog party at Gaia's Gifts!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Hormone Changes

Oh how I long for the days when I first started nursing and had no menstruation. Sometime around the 6th month mark after the birth of my daughter, my periods began again. At first they were not so "bad" now that Ella is around 10 months they began to get back to "normal" emotional mood swings, flu like symptoms, cramping, tiredness. It is time to make a plan, although my nutritional and herbal part is in balance, I was leaving out lifestyle protocols and outside environmental influences. Because after all, we are all aware that our moons occur monthly, but for some reason it is only after the fact that we find ourselves having apologizing to family members, store clerks, and anyone else we decided to do a Jeckle and Hide on during that pre-menstrual week. Doing some research I have found a rather remarkable article that suggests that your partner may be contributing to your symptoms of PMS, on. The article 'men to blame for PMS' quotes:

Caring partners can help ease the symptoms, but unsympathetic men make matters worse.

"What actually causes the symptoms is a combination of factors - what's happening in your body and what's happening in the environment.

"Men certainly play a significant role in PMS and can play a very significant role in women's depression and anger at that time of the cycle."

So Here is my plan of action for the following month.

* Disclaimer: I am in the midst of hormonal changes, if the following seems insensitive, bitchy, unprofessional, or whatever- I would suggest not emailing me about it (especially if you are male and don't get it) Yes my husband has read this and no he does not give a sh@#. On the other hand, if you are a male that does "get it" email away and I will be sure and forward the tips to my husband and anyone else who is interested.

Lifestyle Protocol

1. Get the irritating stimulus (It or Them) out of your life for a few days. I gave this a lot of thought, as convenient as it is to be reminded by my husband or relatives that your period must be arriving (or here), I decided a calender will do just fine thank you.
2. Have partner read "Men to Blame For PMS" I found this article quite convenient, I know I shouldn't blame others for my own reactions and problems, but if after 8 years my husband "gets it" it's worth a try.
3. Review my pocket handbook "what to do when you feel like strangling someone"
4. Give my partner a handy "what to do and how to do it" list, it seems unfortunately my husband has had a case of amnesia when it comes to housework, cooking, cleaning, or helping with the baby. He does miraculously remember how to watch football and change the channel- interesting.
5. Give my partner coping skills in the week prior to PMS, Here are some helpful hints (author unknown)

DANGEROUS: What's for dinner?
SAFER: Can I help you with dinner?
SAFEST: Where would you like to go for dinner?
ULTRASAFE: Here, have some chocolate.

DANGEROUS: Are you wearing that?
SAFER: Gee, you look good in brown.
SAFEST: WOW! Look at you!
ULTRASAFE: Here, have some chocolate.

DANGEROUS: What are you so worked up about?
SAFER: What did I do wrong?
SAFEST: Here's fifty dollars.
ULTRASAFE: Here, have some chocolate.

DANGEROUS: Should you be eating that?
SAFER: You know, there are a lot of apples left.
SAFEST: Can I get you a glass of wine with that?
ULTRASAFE: Here, have some chocolate.

DANGEROUS: What did you do all day?
SAFER: I hope you didn't overdo it today.
SAFEST: I've always loved you in that robe!
ULTRASAFE: Here, have some more chocolate.

13 Things PMS Stands For:
1. Pass My Shotgun
2. Psychotic Mood Shift
3. Perpetual Munching Spree
4. Puffy Mid-Section
5. People Make me Sick
6. Provide Me with Sweets
7. Pardon My Sobbing
8. Pimples May Surface
9. Pass My Sweatpants
10. Pissy Mood Syndrome
11. Plainly; Men Suck
12. Pack My Stuff...... ..And my favorite one...
13. Potential Murder Suspect

Another thing to giggle about... My husband, not happy
with my mood swings, bought me a mood ring the other
day so he would be able to monitor my moods. When I'm
in a good mood, it turns green. When I'm in a bad
mood, it leaves a big red mark on his forehead. Maybe
next time he'll buy me diamonds.

Here have some chocolate.

Author Unkown

6. Schedule a spa weekend during PMS

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Elderberry Sambucus a local forgotten medicinal?

As I am on my way up the mountain to collect elderberry, I notice several trees loaded with berries bordering yards, on the roadway, and in even in a nursing home parking lot. Elderberry used to be called "the medicine chest of the country people" but from the looks of my country town here in Sandy, many have forgotten. I picked some Elderberries a few weeks back for my friend Kiva. When I went to the small deserted country post office to deliver them, the clerk was eager to make conversation. I explained to her that I was shipping my friend some elderberries. "ewwwww where did you get them, I loved those as a child, my thumbs would be blue and numb, my Dad would use them for wine, jelly, cough medicine- I wouldn't know where to find any now" When I explained that they are actually quite common, she was sure they must not be the same berry, and in fact that to be careful that they may be poisonous. Have people gotten away from collecting their own medicinals? If there is one "goal" I have with this blog it is to empower people to get back to the old ways- lost traditions. Of course, be sure of what you are collecting, jim has a great guide for gathering your own herbs.
To (hopefully) get you interested in this wonderful plant, I will attempt to dredge up some interesting facts and legends.
Around here in the Pacific Northwest we have both red and blue elderberry. Blue is the one you want for wine (Rebecca's recipe), jelly, syrup (jim discusses it here), elixir ( Darcy's recipe) and other medicinals (kiva's tea), much more medicinal info can also be found on Henriette's site. There are 3 types of blue species that inhabit the West all similar in appearance; sambucus cerulea, S. racemosa & S. mexicana and one red fruit species S callicarpa (pacific red elder) the red has red berries and pyramid shaped flower clusters, the blue has blue berries and flat top flower clusters. Depending on what source you hear it from, the red can be toxic so I would stick to the blue. You can find the berries around here in the Pacific Northwest at the end of summer into early autumn.
The name Elder comes from the anglo-saxon word "aeld" meaning fire, the association being made because of the hollow stems were used to blow on fire (to increase flame) The name "sambucus" is from the Greek word meaning wind instrument. Both Shepard's & Native Americans used to make flutes from the elder branch, the tree was sometimes called "the tree of music". The hollow reads were also used to make smoke pipes, elk whistles, pop guns, and sprouts on maple syrup trees. Some Native American tribes used the sticks of elder for twirling sticks (the sticks used to start a fire by friction), the straight branches were also used for arrows. It should be noted that the leaves, bark, shoots, twigs, and roots of the fresh plant (of either color) are toxic, and children have been poisoned by chewing or sucking on the bark.
The Elderberry plant has held an important place in European myth. There have been opposite stories relating to it magical & supernatural qualities. There has been an association with both the devil and witches (the bad ugly ones lol) The wicked witches were believed to live in elder trees, so people were afraid to cut them down. It was considered dangerous to sleep in the shade of an elder or to plant one near a house. It was also believed if you fell asleep for too long under an elder that you would become intoxicated. Six knots of elder wood were used in a Yorkshire incantation to ascertain if the cattle were dying from witchcraft.
In contrast, the elder was believed to be a tree of protection against evil spirits and for this reason people would plant them near their homes. The leaves are an insect repellent and people used to hang the branches from doors & horses bridals to keep the bugs away. Elder was also planted near dairies to keep the milk from turning.
The fairy Folk love music and they used the wood of the elder to make all of their musical instruments. Hilda the mother of the elves is said to live in the root of the elder, and anyone under the elder tree at midnight on Midsummers day would see the king of the fairies and all his retinue pass by.
In England the dwarf elder was said to spring up whenever Danish blood was shed in battle, for this reason it was called "Dane's blood"
In Tyrol elder was planted on graves, if the plant flourished with berries it is believed that the dead person is happy in the other world after passing.
The appearance of berries on the elder would indicate it was the right time to sew the wheat in the field.
Food Uses
As described above in some of the links I provided, elderberry is both delicious and medicinal. In small quantities you can add it to food ( Elderberries do have hydrocyanic acid , in large quantities it can lead to stomach upset and diarrhea, how much I guess would depend on the person, this can be avoided by straining out the seeds or thoroughly cooking the berries, red elder berries have larger amounts of these compounds, which is why they are considered "toxic" Henriette has a nice write up here). Elderberries are good with other berries such as blueberry or raspberry, and a little honey can be added for sweetness.
Salad Dressing
Add equal parts of mashed fresh elderberries and blueberries to your favorite balsamic vinegar, shake well.
Elderberry Iced Tea
Equal parts frozen Blueberry and Elderberry (seeds strained)
Juice of 1/2 fresh Lemon
Approx 6 heaping tablespoons Green Tea (or other favorite tea)
Boil 3 cups water in a small pan. When it reaches boil, turn off the heat and add green tea. let steep for about 10 minutes. Strain and add to pitcher. Puree frozen berries in lemon juice, add to pitcher. Fill with water and ice, chill. Add honey or stevia to taste. (you can also used the dried berries and steep them like a tea, use the fresh blueberries for the puree)
Cream Cheese puree
Add elderberries ( seeds strained,to taste) to cream cheese and puree for quick sandwich spread, to put on fruit, add nuts, other berries, the possibilities are endless! To make it creamer add a dash of olive or flax oil, yum! You can also add
Add Elderberries to..
apple sauce
apple & rhubarb pies
cottage cheese
and yogurt.

More Delicious recipes

Use your imagination!

Winter Teas
Elderberries are really fun to experiment with in different teas
Dried elderberries, & blueberries equal parts, with a little feverfew & rose hips, honey and a squeeze of lemon for a great winter tea if you feel a cold coming on.

Also try variations with (not all actions are listed) Astragalus (adaptogen, healthy immune function), peppermint and spearmint(digestive aid, antiseptic,analgesic, astringent, calming) , chamomile (anti-inflammatory, digestive aid, relaxing) , licorice (sweet, antiviral), cinnamon (carminative, anticeptic), ginger (carminative, expectorant, antimicrobial -to name a few but can be drying), echinacea (antiviral, antibacterial) and other dried berries such as raspberry.

Resource:Profiles of Pacific Northwest Plants by Peggy Robinson 1977
Edible and medicinal plants of the west Tilford 1997

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Nasturtium As Promised

As promised here is my take on Nasturtium tincture.

I am quite fond of nasturtium as a food, as you already know if you read my nasturtium salad post. And a aside, the fresh plant does give off a cabbage sent when picked, this dissipates quickly.
I made a tincture of both the leaves and flowers, fresh plant 1:2. The taste is spicy, hot and peppery, with a slight cabbage like after taste, much like when you pick the plant, the cabbage aroma/slight taste is there and gone, you are left with a pepper taste. Not bad, then again I love spicy.

I experimented with small doses a few times throughout the day. It seems to have a adaptogen type effect, just an overall feel good type of feeling. I went to the store, and the owner gave me a free bottle of my favorite wine because "he like my smile". I had been pretty burned out doing a lot of writing on the computer, it seemed to lift my spirits. Later that evening I felt "lovey dovy" instead of tired and ready for bed(no I had not opened the wine). I think this is why I was attracted to the plant to tincture it, I have had a lot going on and my adrenals have been shot off and on. Funny how that works.

Olivia Boyce Abel makes an antibiotic tincture for her medicine chest using four parts fresh garlic . . . four parts fresh nasturtium leaves and flowers . . . and one part echinacea root. (You can also use echinacea's leaves or flowers.) she uses four ounces of this mixture per pint of vodka. According to Olivia, Nasturtium is an antiseptic and helps one expel mucus from the lungs and throat. This may come in handy this winter. I am looking forward to trying it. I have also heard from another herbalist that you can use the nasturtium tincture on it's own (not a blend), right when you feel a congestion coming on and it kicks it right away.

More uses to come........

Friday, September 21, 2007

Getting out heading back up the mountain

It has been a pretty busy week, a lot of writing. I am creating a new class online. So finally when I had enough of sitting in front of the computer, I decided to head back up the mountain. Today I collected some false Solomon seal root. I decided to give this medicinal a try, some say you can use it for some of the same uses as the "True" Solomon's seal". We will see. I read in Edible and Medicinal Plants of the west by Tilford that some Northwest Native tribes used a poultice of the root to treat inflammations of the skin, treat sunburn pain, and stop bleeding. Also, and I think the most interesting~ some tribes used to promote smoking the root to "cure insanity" and quite emotional children (did the two go hand in hand?) LOL.
I was also able to score some more elderberries! Yay Elixir her I come!
As soon as the I am done creating my new course (I gave myself a deadline of this weekend) I will be posting more frequently.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Holistic Wellness and our Kids

Many times I hear statements like "my kid wont take herbal teas" Certainly some herbs can taste bad or too strong to a kid, but there may be something deeper going on. Are herbal teas only introduced when there is a "problem"? Have you asked yourself as a parent how you view healing and medicine?
Traditional Western medicine is necessary and often life saving, however the mind body connection and the miraculous ability of the body to heal itself with the assistance from nourishing foods and natures medicine is often ignored. The Traditional Western medicine approach is to attack disease, you feel as if something is being done to you and that can often feel very invasive. A child is going to naturally want to rebel from this approach, it is scary and intimidating. "Take your medicine" can sound like something of a punishment.
Holistic medicine is about nourishing the body and living a healthy lifestyle. When I say "nourishment" I don't mean to simply take vitamins and minerals and eat good foods. Nourishment is a healthy loving emotional environment, exercise, rest, herbal remedies, connection with earth, connection with community and loving one another. It's reading fairy tales to your child, planting a garden, taking time to listen, & having a loving home. Involve your children when collecting healing medicines from the wild, show them how to make healing teas and infusions, help them to cultivate a healing kids garden. My mother and I often wildcrafted together and Ella being only 9 months old has gone with me on all of my outdoor adventures. Kiva gives a wonderful example on her blog of spending the day with wonderful wise women and her daughter Rhiannon.

We can be good role models for our children by showing them the beauty of their bodies and nature. Approaching sickness as if it were an enemy or something bad reflects badly on the child. If we teach our kids that sickness should be avoided at all costs, or attacked, we are denying that illness is a natural part of life. Even if you are extremely healthy, if you participate in life illness or "problems" will eventually occur. Explain issues when they arise in an age appropriate way that the child will understand, let the child be involved rather than approaching illness as a problem that needs to be attacked. Explain that the natural remedies support the bodies own ability to heal rather than a remedy being a magic bullet cure.

The "detox" rage is in my opinion is not approaching herbal medicine with a holistic view in mind. The extreme idea that we are somehow dirty and full of toxins is damaging. This illusion that we must live perfectly and become more pure will only lead to disappointment and disconnection from our bodies. Health is not about attaining perfection. There will be birthday cake, pop cycles, and chocolate. Balance is the real key, everything in moderation, even moderation! Extreme ideas are just as damaging as not taking responsibility for your health at all.The inner stress and guilt this causes is the opposite of being holistic. This view does not teach our kids to feel relaxed about themselves, enjoy life, be confident about their bodies, and celebrate good health. If and when illness does arise the child will feel defeated, like they somehow brought the illness on themselves because they are not "pure" or "perfect".
The goal is not to somehow fight the enemy of illness and toxins. The focus should be on avoiding unnecessary illness by nourishing ourselves with local grown foods, herbal medicine, exercise, fresh air and getting out in nature. When illness does arise we can attend to it with compassion instead of guilt, fear, and blame like the child is somehow doing something wrong and needs to be punished by "taking medicine"
If natural holistic living is part of your life as a parent, the child will be much more likely to accept it. Children are inundated with media messages that health is a perfect size 2, and skinny, COOL, active young people eat at McDonald's (or other fast food). Our goal should be to empower our children and try to send a different message.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Ella's New Doc

Went to Ella's 9 month checkup today. I got into this clinic with this Awesome Doctor. Her name is Dr Monique Pritchard MD, FAAP she is at the Sellwood Medical Clinic. I drove about 40 minutes to get there and let me tell you it was worth it! Her bedside manner with Ella was amazing! The first thing Ella did was wave and say "HI" O MY! That was a first! I knew I was in the right place. No wonder she has patients who drive 3 hours 1 way from Seattle. The room was cozy with an old rock fireplace with a very cool Native American picture, I felt very much at home. We were talking about organic food & nutrition, garlic ear oil, herbal remedies and teas, Infant massage, co sleeping (here baby is only a few weeks older than Ella and she co sleeps), importance & benefits of long term nursing, I couldn't believe it. A doctor, who actually gives a crap, spends longer than 5 minutes, in fact, we were talking for at least 30 minutes! She also said she is OK with no vaccinations (will write up a religious exemption) , and if they do vaccinate it is only tested and proven vaccines (plus she is willing to spend the time to educate on each one and what it is for), no more than needed, on your schedule! She checked Ella for lead because of the new toy scare, checked for anemia (she was A OK) Ella seems to be right on track, the nurse said "whatever your doing, keep doing it!" She asked where I lived and told me that since I am far away they will make an extra effort to schedule me in so I do not hit traffic. This is so refreshing. When I told her I was an herbalist and LMT, her eyes lit up and she requested my cards. WOW, not only was she listening to what I had to say, she was actually interested and agreeing with me! Am I dreaming? Oh and our insurance covers it!!???

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Thoughts on collecting plants

Whether your goal is collecting medicinal plants or foraging for wild foods, a few approaches seem to work well (or sometimes not so well) for me.

1. Start with no expectations. I like to check out an area with no intentions of looking for a specific plant or food. Just enjoy yourself, bring a camera and take notes. Collecting the plants is not your objective. When you are not looking for anything in particular, you will be amazed what you will find, you are also a lot more likely to cover a larger area of land. If you start off on a quest for one particular plant, and you have never been there before you may be disappointed and you may also pass up some really good finds. Also, if you happen to run across that particular plant, and you begin to gather, you may find later that there was a much bigger patch or better quality patch else ware. Because you were not familiar with the area and you did not scout it out, you missed it. Use that day for taking in the plants that are there, cover a large area, take mental & hand written notes of the area and where the plants are located. Return at a later date (maybe even the next day if you found the perfect plant) when the plants are at optimum harvesting stage. This is also a good time to get permission to collect if it's private property.

2. Going out with the intention that you will just collect anything you find. This includes any edible or medicinal plant you know. Then when you get back home you improvise and cook up or dry, tincture, any thing you bring back. This can bring many pleasant surprises and off the wall recipes that you would not normally plan. Sometimes you may even hit the jackpot! Study up before you leave and bring a good plant key ( this is why I like the picture before you gather method, you can take plenty of time identifying, and the plant remains there for when you return) Remember the more you know the more you can gather!

3. Spontaneous eating of wild foods or sampling of medicinals. This occurs when you are in the middle of some other activity like a company picnic for example. You cannot control yourself when you see some sort of wild delicacy and you indulge! This is great, especially when bosses, or unknown employees see you and your spouse has to explain that you have obsessive compulsive wild food consumption and collection disorder. Your excitement is enough to justify any weird looks of disapproval from others.

4. Going on a medicinal or wild foods quest for a single plant. This is sort of like gambling and may or may not be rewarding if you are hyper focused on the one plant. You go on a quest for the one plant that you know (or suspect you know) is in season for that region and habitat where you are looking. Say you are looking for huckleberries. If you do find them, they may not be at the harvest stage, or someone or something may have gotten there before you. A lot of disappointment can occur if you search for one plant to the exclusion of all others. You could come home short or with nothing at all. Not to mention the disappointment you have caused the other plants that you ignored that were calling out to you to be gathered.

Zig Zag mountain hike 4

Collected some Cow Parsnip Heracleum lanatum Seeds

Time for Goldenrod Solidago canadensis!

Beautiful Pearly Everlasting Anaphalis margaritacea in bloom everywhere!

Monday, September 3, 2007

Zig Zag mountain hike 3

False Solomon seal smilacina racemosa w berries.

A varity of stonecrop (not sure latin name) leaves are thick and meaty, juice is nice to rub on cuts.

Above: A variety of "birds nest" mushroom. Looks like a bird feeder. A great Key site for mushrooms

Zig Zag mountain hike 2

Klamath Weed or more commonly know as St Johns Wort Hypericum perforatum

According to Jonathan's Blog
if you decide to do any "recreational snorting" the resulting nose bleed could lead to hospitalization LOL!

Aster (purple flower top) subspicatus A beautiful wild flower, as a flower essence DOUGLAS ASTER aster subspicatus - endless expansion while maintaining centre; savouring life experience; living fully and consciously; promotes courage and adaptability. according to Healing Waters.

Horsetail Equisetum spp (middle pic)

Zag zag Hike Plants

Potentially toxic Baneberry Actaea rubra

Candy Flower Montia sibirica

Wood sorrel oxalis oregana yummy edible

Walk up the mountain zig zag

I saw many plants today, blogger only lets me post 3 pictures per post so this will be continuing.
Blue Elderberries sambucus cerulea, yummy!
Thimbleberry Rubus Parviflorus
Red Huckleberry Vaccinium parvifolium

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Walk up on Wildcat

It was a beautiful day today, I love this time of year, when fall is approaching. Soft breeze on my face, warm and sunny, yet cool enough. I pictured some really great plants today, just when I was getting started my battery went dead! Here is a few I captured.
Centaury centaurium umbellatum a lovely little bitter!
Goldenrod Solidago canadensis. As I learned from Kiva, lovely topical for sore muscles, and has many other fabulous uses.
Yummy Salal berries, nice little treat in the middle of the day!
Some snowberries symphoricarpos albus not really an edible, but you can chew it up and apply them externally on bites and cuts.
I could go on about my plant stories (much like fish stories) of all the other great plants I saw, but alas I do not have proof, I plan on going back up the mountain tomorrow, hopefully this time I will make sure the battery is charged!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Blog Party Harvesting

Well this year was busy, moving into a new house a little late to really get things going in the garden. I did grow some culinary herbs like basil, rosemary, sage, oregano, thyme, fennel, chives.
I have catnip which has come in especially handy for Ella and her teething. I also planted lemon balm, nice tea for me!
Tons of squash & tomatoes. In fact I have so much squash I can't give it away fast enough! I absolutely love garden fresh tomatoes so I will probably eat most of them fresh, I do plan on preserving some too for yummy soups and sauces.
I have one little cayenne plant that hasn't produced, I think I planted it to close to the squash, not knowing that the one plant would be about 5 ft in diameter!
My Husbands brother is a fishing guide in Alaska, he is shipping over 70 lbs of fish. I am looking forward to making a tomato base fish stew with fennel, onions, garlic for the base, nice aromatic white wine with fish stock, some pepper flakes, bay leaves, fennel seed, fresh fennel tops to garnish yummy!
Oh and I have lettuce and nasturtium leaves and flowers, these have made excellent salads. Oh and to spite what Henriette said on one of her rants on her blog not that long ago I couldn't resist taking some of my left over alcohol and making a very small batch of nasturtium leaves and flowers tincture, I am sure that it will taste just as you described ,"really stinky cabbage" but oh well LOL! By the way Henriette if you knew what it tasted like you must have tried it at one point yourself Hee Hee.
For the culinary herbs I like to make herbal ice cubs to add to cooking throughout fall and winter. I also like herb butters.
Just strained out a catnip tincture yesterday.
The garden came with dandelion, since the soil was good I got some really good root. Oh and there was a yellow dock in the corner.
I had big plans for the garden but only got half of it planted, the other half is taken over by morning glory from the neighbors yard, boy she grows fast!

Monday, August 27, 2007

All About Lichen

Above Picture Ella inspecting Lichen
Lichen means "leprous" in Greek, the plant was named by Dioscorides he thought it resembled the skin of people with leprosy. I personally like the name "old man's beard"
The structure and origin of these plants was a mystery to botanists for years. In 16th century Europe they thought the lichens were secretions of soil, rocks and trees. In the 19thg century some experts thought lichens were composed of air and or water, others thought they found an example of spontaneous generation.
Now it has been found that lichen are a combination of an alga and a fungus. In this mutually beneficial partnership the alga, since it is green, can utilize sunlight and carbon dioxide to make food; the fungus holds water and provides structure.
The spoors of algae and fungi are in the air all the time, when they land together in a place they like a lichen is formed. They tend to grow in places where the algae and the fungi could not survive alone.
Lichens are very adaptable to becoming dormant during dry periods and at low temperatures, they can remain this way for years, reviving when the conditions improve. They grow very slowly and if left alone can reach an incredible 2000 years old!
They like to grow on tree trunks. They are not parasites, they do not penetrate the bark of the tree. Often Lichen grows on the North side of a tree, this was an advantage to travelers, especially traveling in the woods at night.
Food Uses
Lichen can provide a good emergency food source but some are poisonous. Some loose toxic qualities when cooked, but do not eat wolf Moss letharia volpina, also called wolf lichen (check it out in this book Poisonous plants and mushrooms of North America scroll down for picture this is usually found in the red woods east of the cascades. Usnea is a common northwest herbal remedy, it has a characteristic white band in the middle when pulled apart. Usnea is pictured above with Ella inspecting it. Usnea can be applied directly to an open wound in emergency situations, it will serve as an antimicrobial compress to stop bleeding and prevent infection. Put this knowledge in your memory bank when you are in the woods, you never know when it may come in handy! Usnea extract has been shown to be effective against a wide spectrum of bacterial and fungal infections. Many lichens are edible. A classic case where lichen was used as a survival food was the story of Martin Hartwell, a Canadian pilot, & his Eskimo companion, they crashed in the Arctic and survived 23 days on a lichen diet supplemented with dextrose from an emergency kit.
Rock tripe was eaten by trappers in Canada in times of scarcity, while in Japan this type of lichen was considered a gourmet food.
Nutritive value of lichens varies from species to species according to the amount of starch present. Lichen is a good source of vitamin C & would prevent scurvy among Eskimos, who rarely ate plants. They would receive their vitamin C by eating the undigested stomach contents of caribou.
Many people from the Ancient Egyptians to the Swedes would make flour for bread from Lichen. To make the flour, the lichen would first be boiled in a alkali solution to neutralize the bitter acids that can be irritating to the intestines. If you are in a survival situation you can put ashes from the camp fire in your water when boiling to get these results. Then the boiled lichen is washed, dried, and pounded into flour. People would mix the lichen flour with wheat flour so their biscuits would keep much longer.
The mana of the Bible may have been lichen (lecanora esculenta) this is still eaten by some desert tribes.
Locally here in the Pacific Northwest, Columbia River Native Americans ate the lichen which grows on fir and pine trees. Sometimes it was boiled. Another method was to wet it, allow it to ferment, and finally baking it.
In India one of the lichens is made into curry powder.
A process of making sugar from lichen was used in Russia in WW2 when beet sugar was scarce.
Lung lichen was used to make beer as a substitute for hops in Siberian monasteries. In the 19th century in Sweden and Russia, there was a brandy making industry that went bankrupt when the lichen supply ran out.
Since some Tribes of the new world & old world were dependent on Reindeer and caribou, and these animals survive the winters by eating lichen, I guess you could say human cultures themselves were dependent on lichen.
Medicinal Uses & Other Uses
coming be continued
Resource Profiles of Northwest Plants P Robinson

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Many Paths To Healing

I remember back 5 years ago when I was in massage school. Very intense study of anatomy, physiology, and pathology. Sometime toward the end a new class emerged, massage 4. This was a required class and we were the first to have to attend. It was prep for the National Certification Exam. As I sit down and TJ our instructor passed out the curriculum, we opened it up and several students raised their hands in outrage. What the hell is this! This doesn't make any sense at all. Meridians, Chakras, Ayurveda, what does that have to do with massage. Why in the hell are they requiring us to learn this stuff. You see everyone in the class was a Western medical major, not Eastern technique, so they did not understand the usefulness of the instruction. The hands on state exam was coming up and we were burdened with having to remember every action, orgin, insertion, pathology and contraindications, all with a proctor monitoring your every move. Nice time to through in this! This was not anything at all like our previous classes. The fear and outrage was understandable considering this is a whole new way of learning and moving from one mindset to another can be quite the shocker. You really have to think outside the box to wrap your mind around it.
Class would go something like this. Every day we would start the class with Makko Ho stretches, special exercises for each meridian. We would all be on tables and TJ would have us find a Qi point " no that is not quite right, you have to feel the energy" Feel the energy? This was not like finding the tibial tuberosity, the bone is right there, how do you feel the energy? Blockage of Qi flow, elements, meridians, a new understanding of organs. I loved the class from the start. For me it was a welcome vacation from the memorizing and logical approach to the western style (although I loved that as well). You really had to forget everything you thought you knew. I see now where the National board was going with requiring this study. There are many pathways to healing. There are unseen forces, there are ways of listening, feeling, observing that differ from just regurgitating memorized information when you hear a symptom or problem of a client. We spent 4 months touching on Chinese, Ayurveda, and cranial sacral therapy. Not enough time I know to really master any of these techniques. It does however give the practitioner a few tools they can use, open the mind to new observations, feel and observe energy flow, think of healing in a new way. I do recognize energy, and amazingly have observed as a client released an emotional problem to have the physical one disappear at the same moment. Blockage of Qi flow does not seem so strange to me now. Learning all the points and meridians was useful, I use acupressure any where any time, unlike a full session where the client disrobes. I can also apply what I learned to herbal medicine, for example there are certain points that are particularly valuable in stimulating and strengthening the immune system, great to incorporate into a overall wellness routine. The 5 elements interact with each other the same way they do in nature, and the elements have associated organs, seasons, tastes, feeling, & body regions. A clients symptoms could show an imbalance in an element which governs other organ systems. In Ayurveda, people have unique constitutions that may assist in assessing a client, these constitutions are also associated with wind, fire, water, the 6 tastes. Of course this is just a brief description.
With Western herbal medicine there is not an exact system, or perhaps there are many styles within the one Western style. I like this because I feel comfortable with incorporating other styles and using many tools. There is always more to learn. The more you know the more you realize you don't know. We can always explore and continue to learn. Opening up to the energy of plants and people is a start. Realizing that there is not always an easy answer. Really stopping to observe. Holding true to our intuition, imagination, and knowledge. Working with the plants to try to better understand their language as well as the language of our bodies, turning to our spirituality at times, and using our logical left brain when necessary.
oh and one more lesson I learned from massage that I also apply to herbal medicine. We do not strive to be perfect, and we are not all flawed. When a massage client comes in you try to achieve the right balance for that individual, every body is different, we are not robots all with the same posture, metabolism, body type, what is normal for Dave may not be normal for Jane. This is also true of herbal medicine. This is why I detest the cleansing programs that are selling for 100's of dollars, oh but every one is dirty, everyone needs it, before they can continue with any other herbal therapy, this is the answer to all your health problems. BS Let's focus on nourishing our bodies, living passionately (which may mean sugar or a drink every once in a while God forbid), and taking care of ourselves emotionally & spiritually.

A fun Ayurveda Taste Exercise
First smell the test object. Place a small amount in your mouth. Really focus, allow the taste to penetrate you. Focus on this taste for at least 5 minutes.

Sweet you may use sugar, very revealing!
Bitter Gentain, Dandelion, Endive etc
Sour Lemon, vit C etc
Salty Salt, Kelp etc
Pungent Ginger, Garlic, Elecampane etc
Astringent Black Tea, Blackberry Leaf, Oak Bark etc

What kind of visions does the taste stimulate?
What kind of sound do you associate with it?
What feeling or body sensation does it evoke?
How would you imagine it moving?
How would it manifest in your personal relationships?
What kind of work would fit this taste?
How do you imagine this flavor in your community?
How would this taste manifest in the spirit?
Are you attracted or repulsed to the taste?
Do you feel you need more or less of the taste?

Energetics the effect taste has on the body
Heating: pungent sour salty
Cooling: bitter astringent sweet
Tastes and Organs
excess sweet disturbs the spleen
excess pungent disturbs the lungs
excess bitter disturbs the heart
excess salty disturbs the kidneys
excess sour disturbs the liver
excess astringent disturbs the colon

resource: Pathways to healing Don Ollisin

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Sitting With Pineapple Weed

Pineapple Weed matricaria matricarioides

Kiva Rose is doing a write series talking with plants
This got me to thinking back. About my childhood, plants, nature, and it's role in my life. I often ran away to sit with plants. My childhood was very unstable and dysfunctional at times, with sprinkles of good times and memories. My parents divorced when I was only 2. My Mother and I were alone for about 3 more years until she met my Step Dad, I didn't have any brothers and sisters living with me until I was 15. I was not always the way I am now. I was very quiet & shy as a child. The reason I was quiet was I didn't want to say or do anything wrong. You see I thought if I was a good girl things may change for me, my Dad might come back, things would be better. I did not feel safe to talk with other adults. My Step Dad was a very odd type, I guess they have a name for it now, A personality with a side order of IED or intermittent explosive disorder I think is what it is called. He would be ecstatic and happy, people liked him, the kind of guy you like to have at parties one minute and the next he would be swinging and you had better get out of the way. OK maybe he was BI Polar as well. You just didn't feel safe. You walked on egg shells because you never knew what you were going to get. Is it the High funny guy or the Monster today. One day he would laugh at something you did wrong, and the next he was exploding over nothing. I was outside as much as possible. I would go to my Dad's every other weekend. He had an abusive girlfriend (basically the girl version of my step dad) who couldn't stand me.
I remember just getting out on my Dad's property, he had 5 acres of horse land with a few horses and a cow named curly. My Dad's girlfriend would say "what is it exactly that you do out there all day hum?" I didn't care. Sitting with the plants and talking with curly was my only escape. I would find a little hide away where I could sit and no one would bother me. Among the various "weeds" there was this lovely little plant I now know the name is pineapple weed. It smells lovely, a similar to chamomile, but it has it's own unique smell, once you have smelled it you will never forget it, soothing, understanding, calming. I would sit with it, feeling its soft, feather like leaves and taking in the gift of it's aroma. Spending my time studying every aspect of pineapple weed, I was not going back to the house. Hum, the leaves were slightly bitter, the flowers are little yellow, round, and smell lovely, I like to keep them in my pocket....
Well Pineapple weed seemed to show up when I need her. Always making me forget anything that was going on with her euphoric smell and bright yellow cylindrical shape flowers catching my eye.
It seemed whenever we got in the car with my mom and step dad there was a fight, getting out during one of these episodes I just started walking, what do you know there is my old friend pineapple weed. Tuning out the commotion I just sat with her for a while, everything was going to be OK.
Later as an herbalist I found that you could make a calming tea from pineapple weed and it's action was similar to chamomile, I already knew this of course because I spend days sitting with her.
Well when I hit adolescence the fear turned to rage. No one was holding me down. I was like a wild stallion that could not be broken. I spoke my mind, perhaps making up for all the time I kept my mouth shut. I rebelled. I drank and was gone with friends. There were little lapses in there where I would leave the camp site where the party was and go sit with the plants, yah everyone thought I was weird. After I got that out of my system, I returned to my calling and here I am the herbalist. I still sometimes want to run away, travel, take in all the learning and sites I can, I guess this is the girl in me craving the unstable but hopefully in a healthy way. I would not take back any of my experiences, if it were not for them I would not be the person I am today. OK that sounds cliche but it's true.
Picture source

Friday, August 10, 2007

Nasturtium Basil Fresh tomato salad

Yummy lunch! Perfect for the overcast and kinda cool day.
I started out by roasting some garlic in the oven. Roast until brown w/ a little olive oil and sea salt and pepper, just cut the hard end off and roast it in it's skin, when done squeeze the soft roasted garlic yum!
Then I made the salad.
Fresh garden lettuce
Fresh basil
Fresh tomatoes sliced & roasted in some olive oil sea salt and pepper in a stainless pan on stove.
Greek olives
Goat cheese
Red Onion
Nasturtium Flowers and leaves
Great Balsamic vinegar and olive oil (from what was left in pan from tomatoes)
Assemble the salad with the greens, When tomatoes are done add them with the cheese and olives. The warm contrast with the cool greens is delish!
It would not have been complete without a glass of wine a Cab/ shiraz mix that is to die for (a gift from a good friend)
Oh and the roasted garlic? Add that to some great bread, I like Dave's Killer multi grain.


Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Hard rock and Milky Oats

Ok I have been away from the writing for a while. Yesterday I went to the store alone and had the radio on full blast, singing at the top of my lungs at the Hy way 26 intersection (my voice carries), 92.3 had 80's rock on. Thoughts flash back to cruising seaside loop with my boyfriend who's long hair took longer to feather than mine did LOL. I made sure I purposely went to the store that was 20 minutes away so I could sing all the way.

I have to say I feel much better.

Or could it be the milky oats that Jim Mcdonald sent for our trade?
This along with some relaxation (much needed) has really helped my post baby craziness. I noticed a difference immediately. Ella is going on 9 months old now. Since her birth I have been having some postpartum symptoms. Problems with thinking clearly (Ok a least I have something to blame that on). Moodiness (where in the hell did I put that other shoe!) tiredness (what a surprise the last time I slept in was sometime in 2006) lack of libido (what the?).

Milky oats tincture aventa sativa fresh unripe seed extract, have proved to be an excellent nervine for me. I have also experienced a new type of energy, I have been having some *exceptional* dreams, how can I put this without sounding unprofessional, Oh wait too late for that refer to first paragraph-, anyway lets just say my libido has also improved dramatically as well.

Heartsong farm has a good explantion of milky oats.
They also have some available for purchase. If you would like to make the tincture, jim mcdonald informed me that this is one of the few herbs he does use a blender for.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Blog Party Berries Salal

I chose the Salal Gaultheria Shallon because it is native here in the Pacific Northwest. The name Salal comes from Pacific Northwest Native Americans. This plant was the first to get the attention of David Douglas when he landed on the Oregon Coast May 9th, 1825, he brought it back to Europe as a garden ornamental. These berries are great, they have a slight almond flavor and are similar to blue berries. You can make Salal jam, syrup, or mix them with other native berries such as Oregon Grape, Salmonberry, or Thimble Berries for pies, jams, and deserts. Salal makes a great wine (see recipe below) The coastal Native Americans used to dry them in large cakes weighing 10 to 15 pounds to store for winter use. Later when they wanted to eat them the cakes were soaked and then dipped in whale or seal oil. The leaves had medicinal uses among Native American tribes as well. The leaves were chewed to relieve colic or heartburn. The chewed leaves were used as a poultice to apply to wounds and sores. The leaves could also be used as a tea for coughs, TB, or diarrhea. Some of the Northwest tribes would blend Salal with Kinnikinnick to make a smoke blend.

Fresh Berry Soup

1 quart fresh orange juice
4 cups of any combination of yogurt, buttermilk, sour cream
1 Tbsp. honey (more, to taste)
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon or lime juice
dash of cinnamon
dash of nutmeg
1 1/2 pints fresh berries (raspberries, Salal, strawberries, thimble, Salmonberry)

Whisk together everything except berries.
Chill thoroughly.
Wash and drain berries.
Blueberries or raspberries should be left whole. Large strawberries should be sliced.
When ready to serve, divide berries into individual serving bowls.
Ladle the soup on top.
Garnish with sprigs of fresh mint.

Salal Berry Salad Dressing

Salal berry jam
Olive oil
Rice wine vinegar, or white wine vinegar
Tossed salad greens, or baby spinach
Dijon mustard (optional)

Mix together equal amounts of salal berry jam, olive oil, rice wine vinegar or white wine vinegar. Serve over tossed greens. Add Dijon mustard for additional zest.

As seen on "A New Day" with Bruce Williams
VILand Television, April 18, 2003


  • 4 lbs salal berries
  • 1� lbs granulated sugar
  • 6� pts water
  • � tsp acid blend
  • 1 tsp pectic enzyme
  • 1 crushed Campden tablet
  • 1 tsp yeast nutrient
  • 1 pkg wine yeast

Put half the water on to boil and stir in sugar until dissolved. Meanwhile, wash berries and cull out any that are not ripe or are unsound. Put berries in nylon straining bag and tie closed. Place in primary and mash berries. Pour sugar-water over berries and add remaining water to help cooling. Cover with colth and set aside until room temperature. Stir in acid blend, yeast nutrient and crushed Campden. Recover and wait 12 hours. Stir in pectic enzyme, recover and set aside another 12 hours. Add activated yeast and recover primary. Stir twice daily until fermentation dies down. Remove straining bag, squeeze to extract maximum juice, and discard pulp. Allow to settle overnight and rack into secondary. Top up if required and fit airlock. Rack, top up and refit airlock after 60 days and again when wine clears. Set wine in cool, dark place for 4 months, checking airlock periodically. Stabilize, sweeten to taste (if desired) and set aside for 14 days. Rack into bottles and enjoy.

Resource: Profiles of Northwest Plants Peggy Robinson

wine recipe source