Monday, April 30, 2007

Henriette has 7 dwarfs plus worker elves and perhaps a few fairies

From Henriette's blog: You have data on how many plants?

Some of the various herb-related sites out there proudly exhibit things like "7000 plants in our database" and similar.

So on a whim, I did a quick and dirty database query: count the number of unique latin names with URLs attached.
I have data on 4200 different plants, give or take a few.

And, lemmesee, I have photos of 2164 genera online

On a whim? Are you kidding me? How do you find time for this Henriette? I am suspicious. Let's see you have your site, your list (which is a very tight ship let me tell ya, she doesn't miss a beat) Your blog, You teach, you practice as an herbalist, and who knows what else. You have the perfect answer for everything herbal at the drop of a hat, your a computer wiz techi, I am sure I have left out 1000 more things you do.

Tell us, do you have elves, fairies, dwarfs, and several pixies you are not telling us about? You see I am conducting this little experiment to see if one of your elves finds my site. Waiting for comment.......should take approximately 2.2 seconds.

In case you have been under a rock some ware and missed it here is Henriette's site. Everything herbal, you can find it there. Oh and it is the best site, save your self some time and go there!

Chickweed itch oil

Growing in my yard is the chickweed plant. It is the first thing I see when I go out my back door. My Dog is suffering from flea bite dermatitis, he was hanging around some dogs with fleas. Now he chews, bites and itches himself. He is getting the mange type sores from the flea's saliva that he is allergic to. His diet is great so the fleas are gone, just have the sores left to deal with. After giving him a sea salt water bath with some calendula flowers I am going to follow up with some chickweed itch oil. He is a Bernese Mt Dog so he is covered with long thick hair. An oil will work better than a salve on him. Since I have so much chickweed available I am going with this plant for the itch oil.

The chickweed is in flower so now is the time to pick it, it is most potent at this time, according to Nancy Phillips, I will get better results from an extract of the freshly dried than the fresh plant ( the chickweed does not retain it's alkalinizing constituents for long, so it must be recently freshly dried for this to be true- experiment with both, fresh seems to be good as well). Certain herbs are best dried before being processed, other examples are Cascara Segrada, actually has toxic qualities when fresh and Fresh Angelica root can be hard on the digestive tract when fresh. I'm going to use the dried plant, but if you were to use fresh plant to make an oil, you may want to add a little sodium benzoate.

Chickweed is a very palatable plant & packed with nutrients including Vitamins B1, B2, B3, C & E, Calcium, essential fatty acids, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, silicon, sulfur, & zink. You can eat it right there on the spot, or add it to your sandwich as a sprout replacement, or add it to your evening salad (Just make sure the area has not been sprayed with pesticides.) It reminds me of a bright sunny day, just it's name sounds happy. I have grabbed some chickweed, chewed it up and used it as a quick poultice out in the woods when I get scrapes and cuts from passing by thorn bushes (the superficial ones that itch). So this is the last "weed" I am going to get to harvest from my current home.

Resource: The Herbalist's Way Nancy and Michael Phillips


An oil is an extraction of herbs in oil for external use as massage oils, creams, and ointment. Herbal oils made from flowers are usually cold infused, while those from leaves are best prepared by hot infusion. To make a cold infused oil, pack a quart glass with the fresh or dried herbs. Cover with the oil. Cap tightly and place on a warm, sunny windowsill for two weeks, shaking each day. Strain through a jelly bag, squeezing hard, and then repeat with more herbs. After two weeks, strain again and pour into sterilized, dark glass bottles. Cap tightly, label and refrigerate for up to a year. To make a hot infused oil, combine 8 ounces dried herbs with 2 cups oil in the top of a double boiler or for roots you can use a crock pot set on medium. Heat gently for three hours or longer, careful to not let the lower pan boil dry if using a double broiler. Cool. Strain through a cheesecloth, jelly bag or muslin. Pour into sterilized, dark glass bottles. Cap tightly, label and store in a dark, cool place.
Above Picture Taken By Angie Goodloe Sandy Or

Kava Kava Massage Oil / Good for therapist and client

Kava Kava massage oil, an ingenious idea I got from Jim McDonald. It gives you this wonderful tingling warming sensation, and the muscles respond wonderfully to it. I practice medical massage so I had not had the chance to use oil that often (in this type of massage very little if any lubricant is used) However, Lomi Lomi has become a recent interest of mine as well as everyone likes the occasional plain old relaxation massage. The one thing I have noticed about this oil since I have been using it more, not only does the client love it, but my hands feel GREAT after using it! Light, Warm, & magical! This is something to take note of considering most LMT's get sore wrists and hands. I suspect this oil along with some do it yourself deep tissue & soft tissue release technique on the forearm would be a great preventative for carpal tunnel sydrome. Do this exercise daily, place your thumb of your other hand near the top (proximal) of your forearm (the one that is sore) palpate until you find the area that is just between your two arm bones (radius and ulna) on the top of your arm, press firmly, rotate the wrist and hand of the arm you are pressing on back and forth (from right to left palm down) Continue to move down your arm (proximal to distal) with your thumb applying pressure & rotating your hand. After the exercise, liberally massage with the kava kava oil. This exercise is great for hands and arms that are sore from typing as well. This deep tissue move will get the muscles to release, easing the pressure on the nerves that are causing the pain sensation.

To make

I make mine with dry or fresh kava kava roots.
I made some in Johoba oil or Jim Suggests:
almond (75%) and sesame (25%) oils, infused for a couple days
in a slow cooker or double boiler.

Pressed Herb Cards for Mother's Day

Here is something easy you can make for your favorite Mom on Mothers Day. The picture shows leaves but you can really use any delicate cuttings (because they dry easily) Maidenhair fern & Goldenrod come to mind. Working on an ironing board, place leaves and or petals on top of three layers of plain newsprint, available at art supply stores. Place another sheet of newsprint on top. Press with an iron set at medium temperature until the plant cuttings turn slightly paler, about 2 minutes. Attach dried cuttings to card stock and spray with adhesive, let dry.

Urban Sprawl Fever

Above Picture Me & My Mom
I am deeply sad when I see the destruction of the woods. When I was a child our house backed up to a big wonderful woods full of wildlife. I remember having hiding places where I would go to talk to the plants, salamanders, frogs, & birds. There was something magical about that place. Well, Fugi sold his farm and they built mobile homes and apartment buildings right below us cutting down most of the woods. Native American artifacts were found there and sent off to the museum. This broke my heart as a child and it continues to break my heart now. Here in Sandy someone is attempting to burn down the new construction they are building. The news said someone is upset because they are cutting down a very old wood area. This is walking distance from my house. It seems we now have to go farther and farther to really enjoy the woods. (I do not condone the burning of new construction) My car broke down and I see just how hard it is to really get to the woods from here now. There are little patches here and there, and now that I carry Ella I can't walk as far and carry plants. I am getting "urban sprawl fever" sort of like "cabin fever" although I can still go outside. Sometimes I just need to be far enough out where you can't here the cars from the hi-way, people talking, see garbage, et. I tried Kava Kava Massage Oil (Thank you Jim McDonald for the Kava contact for the Purple Moi and recipe), Goldenrod externally (thank you Kiva Rose for the idea and Jim for the fast ship of the tincture since I couldn't wait 2 weeks), although they helped temporarily, a new pain would pop up in some other area. Little head aches, moody, I need to get out! I am looking forward to wildcrafting soon, my Mom is coming over from Prineville and we are headed for the Coast (she heard my whining and is driving over early). Plenty of woods there. Can't wait!

Sunday, April 29, 2007

My dog the herbalist

Well it's that time again, flea season. Other dogs that Koa mingles with are flea ridden. He is healthy, on a raw diet, so fleas aren't so bad, but he has very sensitive skin. When we lived at our other rental we had a walnut tree. The hulls would fall to the ground, I saw him out there, eating away, no need to worry about worms that year. He is great at healing himself. He even digs up the dandelions and eats the roots! This year the winter was pretty warm, we also have a cat who picks up fleas from who knows where. There is this quaint little herbal/ liquor store near the beach. The lady is a clinical herbalist and had a flea powder. We were just chatting away when I said "hey, I could use some of that". Bought it without even looking at the ingredients, got it home and the main herb was Wormwood. Wormwood, worms, makes sense right? However,As a powder you can't control the amount, the dog or cat chews and licks it off. Any animal that is sensitive will have a reaction, or accident when you least expect it where you least want it. Wormwood can be very hard on the host, wormwood has an assortment of strong bitter principles and tannins. If you use to much it can irritating to the liver and kidneys. I suppose you could use wormwood, but extra moderation and care should be considered, and the amount controlled. For some safer substitutes consider, garlic, sage, black walnut hulls, thyme, pumkin seeds, oregon grape. For the skin a salve with caledula, aloe and plantain works well.

Raw Milk Rant

OK, last night I couldn't sleep (what a surprise for me) some nightline type show was on TV. They had a farmer on there that sold Raw Milk. The FDA came in armed strapped with guns (no exaggeration) and shut him down. The farmer said he was just trying to make a living for his family, his wife was pregnant with their 3rd, and customers really wanted this milk with no hormones. A customer comments "hey I am 65 years old, I haven't died yet, my family has been drinking this for generations" "How much did you spend" the journalist asks "Don't tell my husband, $132.00, I am stocking up". "It is in demand, the customers won't let me stop selling it", The farmer replies, the FDA was taking away his livelihood "I'm scared I have a baby on the way". The solution, he had to mark his product "Pet food" his regular customers said "Hey I don't mind eating pet food" LOL. This guy was not getting rich by any stretch of the imagination. The FDA reply "Don't you want to be safe?" (my first thought, let's see those preservatives in foods you OK are really safe obesity is killing this country) Another farmer's solution was to make all of her customers part owner of her cows, in that state you could only use raw milk if you owned a cow. I am not even eating dairy products now, that is not the point, what is with all this control? Don't we have a choice? We should be able to eat McDonalds (YUK), Alfalfa or raw milk if we want to. No one is going to stop me from picking weeds out of my backyard and making them into anything I see fit. There has been a lot of talk about the FDA taking away our rites to make, use or sell herbal medicines. Maybe I should come out with a new product, PET FOOD medicinal herbal tinctures and teas. Just in case.

New House, New Garden

This is going to be so fun! We are buying a house out here in Sandy, we live on Mt Hood so the garden season starts late, Mothers day at the earliest. My Garden is going to be different this year. As a new mom I was tempted to just do pot herbs. But.....Let's think about this winter. Will I really feel like cooking exquisite meals? NOT! So my garden this year is going to be all about preserves. Ella is not walking yet and Grandma is here to help. I have a ton of green beans so much I am sick of them, ditto on the garlic. I'm thinking baby food frozen in ice cube trays, same with parsley, basil, oregano, and other culinary herbs for cooking. I have to have fresh tomatoes, I will preserve some of them as well. I love tomatoes so I will have at least 3 varieties. My husband loves to fish, smoked salmon sandwiches will be great with some cream cheese with dill, capers, lemon zest. Ditto on the herb butter, all this stuff can be frozen, so I can look like I am some great chef this year! As far as the medicinal herbs I am all about de-stressing and relaxation. Hey birth is tuff on my 33 year old body, Ella is a great baby, she is also a morning baby (I am not) and I have not slept in for a year. I am thinking Valerian, catnip , chamomile, lemon balm. Sage for my over production of milk (careful with that, don't want to stop it all together) and I am sure I will go hog wild with other medicinals. This is a nice size garden. I am going to love getting dirty all summer, I am sure Ella will too! I will take pics of the before and after and post them here. Any comments and ideas would be appreciated!

Catnip and Chamomile New Mom Necessities

No mom should be without these two herbs. When Ella hit the 8 week mark colic kicked in. I was having trouble with heavy letdown of the breast milk, she had gas and was miserable (manging this will be discussed in another article). I found out later that she is sensitive to dairy in the breast milk so that has been removed from my diet. At around 4 PM it starts, the screaming and constant crying. Now I am nursing so Kava Kava tincture for my stress is out of the question. Something had to be done. I reached for my herbs. Catnip, Chamomile, linden flower (Passionflower would also be good if you had it) Lemon Balm, a little Spearmint to mask the Catnip taste. I made and infusion and gave it to her using a tincture dropper filled approximately half way. Within 5 to 10 minutes the crying stopped. She did not wake crying in the middle of the night. I ran this by my Doctor and she said none of this absorbs in their system anyway so the herbs can't hurt (do you think an 8 week old knows what a placebo is?) Needless to say I have a new Doctor.
This is a life saver! Ella is 5 months old now and she still loves chamomile & Catnip, now that the teething has started this formula works great for that as well, especially with the linden flower added (thank you Rosemary Gladstar). The infusion does not interfere with my nursing regimen, I am able to give her a little more now than the 1/2 dropper full. She enjoys it. We are happy :)

Photo used by permission from

French Women Don't Get Fat a book review

A friend of mine gave me the book French Women Don't Get fat, was she trying to tell me something? LOL. Well, I am doing pretty good post pregnancy. I do like to keep up on the trends out there to see what other people are doing. I don't believe in dieting. The one thing I will say about this book is I really liked it's overall theme. Basically, you are supposed to sit down and enjoy your food, slowly....No going through the drive through, as your speeding away and shoving in the fileOfish thinking your getting some Omega 3's. She makes a day of it. She WALKS to the store, that's right folks actually walks. Only buys the ingredients for that days meal. She talks about the French lifestyle, have your wine, but only 1 glass, yes even with every meal if you wish. Have your desert, but a very small piece. Moderation.......Something most American's have a hard time with. Eat in beautiful surroundings and enjoy the experience. I liked this book. If your thinking, I don't have time to walk to the store. Hum....may this be part of the problem? Just a thought.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

To license or not to license, is that the question?

Shamanic balance is a particular stance. It is not a balance achieved by synthesis; it is not a static condition achieved by resolving opposition. It is not a compromise. Rather it is a state of acute tension, the kind of tension which exists...when two unqualified forces encounter each other, meeting headlong, and are not in reason but in experience. It is a position with which the westerner, schooled in the Aristotelian tradition, is extremely uncomfortable.- from Shamanic Equilibrium: Balance and meditation in known and unknown worlds

Licensing/ Certified rant

Here is what I think. Do we not give credit to the village herbalists who, through experience, passed down tradition, observation, and practice, probably know more than most? Are you really going to attempt to stop the use of "weeds" that people have been using for 100's of years? I am not anti- certification, however, I think we should be able to practice regardless of the piece of paper we hold. I have full respect for the ND's and the genius of people such as Paul Bergner who specialize in medical herbalism & clinical training for their students. I think this would be a great opportunity for any herbalist. Should we be cautious? Absolutely. Should we be scared, no! There is much to learn from the plants, be responsible about it, talk to other herbalists, study credible books, & KNOW the poisonous plants. I don't think we should feel we need a piece of paper to start learning from the plants. I have studied college level pathology, anatomy and physiology, have received a MH, but I know I could still learn much more from the elder who lives next door if I just opened my ears to listen. There is the use of local folk herbalism that you may not find at your school, wherever that may be. Clinical trials may not support the use of a certain herb, yet we know what it does for us. Herbalism is a basic life skill that can and should be used in our communities. I think herbalists should be ecstatic if people take an interest in responsible earth practices. The more herbalists the better I say, we can all contribute and compliment each other in different ways. Just be humble and responsible about what you know (or don't know)

Rosemary Wine, Headache Caused by Neck Muscle Pain

Rosemary is one of my absolute favorite plants. Juliette Levy Jokes she uses it for everything. This picture was taken 2 months ago, amazing this plant was flowering this early.
I was shopping when I saw white wine on sale for $2.99 for a 4 pack of the small bottles (187 ml), the bottles were dark green in color, perfect for storing tinctures! But what else could I use the wine for? Perfect! Rosemary wine to help this crink I have in my neck from all of this typing! Does it work you ask? You bet! The best thing about it is the bottles are small so you can't go "hog wild" and drink to much (give yourself another kind of head ache). I simply put the whole sprig, flowers and all into the bottle with the wine, close the lid. Let them sit for at least a day. Drink a glass with dinner (or whenever) Do not exceed recommended dose. I also love to use the sprigs in the bath, very rejuvenating when you feel like you just can't get moving. Love it!

These statements are not recommend or evaluated by the FDA (thank God)

How Stinging Nettle Saved My Life

It was a beautiful sunny day in mid June 1984, I was 11 years old. I was walking down the deserted street headed for the woods when all of a sudden I hear "GET HER" I turn to look, and saw, it was the boys from my class who had been harassing me for weeks. I decided to make a run for it. Down the steep trail and through the woods I ran, I cut across the trail through the stream. I could hear the branches crunching and crashing, and the sound, it sounded like a heard of wild elk running down the embankment- it was coming closer and closer. There I was stuck, the end of the woods, I either risk trespassing on to Fugi's farm and getting shot by the worker's salt pellet guns (again) or stop and defend myself. I stopped, adrenaline pumping, out of breath, & in a complete fight or flight mode. Well I already flew- now the fight was ON! The boys yelled "Strip!" followed by evil laughs as they are rubbing their hands together mischievously. I tried yelling back "No" but they just kept laughing and coming closer. Well there was just one thing left to do, next to me was a patch of Stinging Nettle 2 feet higher than my head, I grabbed a few out from the root and started swinging them wildly. "Get back or your DEAD!" I screamed "I WILL DO IT!" The look on their faces was one of shock, amazement and fear, then they ran! I stood there, nettles in hand looking cautiously back and forth. My conclusion as I looked at my hands? Nettles really don't hurt that bad, and now I have some new friends (the plants). From that day on instead of taking the road, I walked through the nettles from directly behind my house, I no longer feared their sting and I took the road less traveled.

Nettle Uses
Prepubescent Adolescent boy repellent

Oh, and the whole plant is good for seasonal allergies & eczema too, makes an excellent spring tonic.

Tip: Search Stinging Nettle Urtica dioica L. on the net today, you will find literally 100's of uses for this awesome plant!