Saturday, March 28, 2015

Bear Berry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi)

While in the Deer Lodge National Forest a plant called me to it. It grew close to the ground creeping along with dark green mouse-ear leaves and it had little red berries on it. 

What are you little plant, and why do you call me to you? Upon returning home and doing a little researching online, in my Pojar, and talking with my herbal mentor, I have learn this plant to be Arctostaphylos uva-ursi or commonly Uva Ursi which is Latin for Bear Berry. 

I asked my teacher what medicinal properties does this plant have and she informs me that it is a great one for UTIs. Ah ha! This is why this plant calls me, my mother has been suffering from UTIs lately and due to her age becomes confused. Confusion is a common side-effect to be aware of in elderly folks who have a UTI. 

UTI stands for Urinary Tract Infection which includes symptoms of urgency, pain, burning and if not treated properly can move up the ureters to the kidneys causing kidney infections which can become a medical emergency.

See previous blog post to learn more about your kidneys and other kidney herbs!

Another day and I am with a great harvest of Uva Ursi. I choose to tincture most of it and dry the rest for tea.

According to a great book called Opening Our Wild Hearts to the Healing Herbs by Gail Faith Edwards, Uva Ursi's leaves are powerfully astringent and highly regarded for their ability to tone the urinary passage.

Uva Ursi Tincture
  • Arctostaphylos uva-ursi 
  • Deer Lodge National Forest west of Anaconda, MT 
  • Fresh Leaves in 40% alcohol 
  • Take tincture 10 drops 3-6 times per day until symptoms subside, continue 2 times per day for 7-10 days 
  • Use for UTI, any bladder or kidney related ailment including urethritis and cystitis or to tone and heal the entire urinary system or as a preventative.

Opening Our Wild Hearts to the Healing Herbs by Gail Faith Edwards
Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast by Pojar & Mackinnon

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Chickweed (Stellaria media)

Chickweed grows in my parents yard here in Anaconda, Montana. To my parents it is a weed, to me it is medicine. Today I harvested a basket full of this beautiful weed to dry to make infusion and to make a tincture.

On hand, I was able to find 80 proof vodka to make the tincture. I chopped the aerial parts of the herb into a clean jar filling it, yet, leaving about one-inch room, then filled the jar with the vodka. I created a label that includes the following:

Stellaria media
Fresh aerial parts in 40% alcohol from Anaconda backyard
dosage: 30 drops, 2-3 times per day for 2-16 months (per Susan Weed)
Actions: anti-rheumatic, vulnerary, emollient (The New Holistic Herbal by David Hoffmann)

From day-to-day I will greet my tincture, shake it and send it love, I will do this for 6 weeks before it is ready to be strained and used as medicine. It will be kept in the kitchen cabinet.
  • Emollient: applied to skin, to soften, soothe, and protect
  • Vulnerary: applied to skin to aid in healing of wounds and cuts

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Front Yard Harvest

The weather has cheered up once again and I sure am grateful as I am ready to harvest some herbs from my parent's front yard. I was delighted, when I showed up to visit, to see growing in their yard; Yarrow, Peppermint, and Raspberries.

Today, I harvested these plants to dry to later make infusions, teas, or tinctures. It's wonderful that common plants that may be growing in your yard have so much more potential than just beauty or in the case of raspberries, fruit. According to The New Holistic Herbal by David Hoffmann (the only herbal book that I have with me right now) these plants have the following actions.

Yarrow (Achillae millefolium)
  • diaphoretic
  • hypotensive
  • astringent
  • diuretic
  • antiseptic
Peppermint (Mentha piperita)
  • carminative
  • anti-spasmodic
  • aromatic
  • diaphoretic
  • anti-emetic
  • nervine
  • antiseptic
  • analgesic
Raspberry (Rubus idaeus)
  • astringent
  • tonic
  • refrigerant
  • parturient

Monday, July 22, 2013

Montana Herb Gathering

The Montana Herb Gathering was in Hot Springs, Montana this year and I am so grateful to be able to go this year.

My favorite class was with Susun Weed who was very informative about estrogen. We learned about the 29 baseline estrogens and about estridiol. She spoke about the different kinds including phyto (plant), xeno (chemical), endogenous (body) and pharmaceutical, and whether they are short path estrogens or long path and what that meant. It's a broad subject and one short class is just going to skim the surface. 
The information that was easier for me to process is regarding gut flora and the importance of taking care of the landscape within. Gut flora is in the small intestine where digestion occurs and the most important things is to avoid to keep happy gut health include:
  • antibiotics (for obvious reasons right?!)
  • chlorine (it's a toxin and it turns into a gas which can be breathed in while in the shower; note that it's a great idea to buy a shower filter; or boil water)
  • food preservatives (prevent and kill bacteria, even the good bacteria)
  • essential oils (also anti-bacterial, Susan keeps far away from essential oils stating that they are anti-bacterial drugs that even on your skin or breathed in are killing good gut bacteria!)
Things that a good for your gut are, not washing the greens and veggies that you eat out of your garden, eating fermented veggies, mold, yeast, mushrooms and avoiding hot peppers.  Eat more lentils (brown, red, black) because lentils repair damaged DNA; make hummus with lentils. Eat red clover, more whole grains and more seeds! 

Eat plants that grow near you in abundance! Eat dandelion, all of it and in any way - you can cook the leaves, freeze them and eat in the winter. Try fenugreek seed tea, flax seeds, green tea, nettle leaf infusion and eating lots of seaweed as a veggie not a seasoning.
Try these herbs sparingly and only when in need; agave, alfalfa, black cohosh, black currant, cramp bark, devil's club, licorice, peony, sage and yarrow.

Yet another elder herbalist suggesting that it's best to take care of your body. It's not about treating with herbs so much as carrying for what you have.

More notes: 
AVOID ever getting mammograms and colonoscopies. 
Try alternating these 5 herbal infusions: oatstraw, nettle, red clover, linden and comfrey. 

I would love to take Susan Weed's apprenticeship program but it's too costly for me. If anyone wants to donate to my education, feel free to hook me up :)

We did a nice breathing exercise visualizing our exhalation breath as a color, the trees taking this breath into their leaves and exchanging the CO2 for oxygen and us breathing in the oxygen given off by the trees. Inhaling and exhaling visualizing this connection with the plants. It is a nice connecting and grounding meditation that can be done any time.

Another favorite class that I went to was Improving Tissue Function by Heather Nic an Fhleisdeir out of Eugene, Oregon.

Questions to ask about tissue function include: where does it hurt? what is it? what is it made of? and what is happening to that tissue. Less concern with how it happened and more focus on how to help it heal. Heather prefer using infusions, decoctions, vinegars (try making your own from apples or rice), and low alcohol tinctures (20%-40%) noting that vitamins and minerals help tissues heal.

Kinds of Tissues:
  • Bones/connective tissue including, skeleton, teeth, gums, sphincters, valves in heart, arteries, veins, bronchi, alveoli, pharynx, larynx, epiglottis, wind pipe, trachea, tendon, ligaments, joints, skull plates, and flat bones of pelvis
    • comfrey, horsetail, milky oats; 1:1:1 for arthritis
    • garden sage for gums ie: receding gums, make a low alcohol mouth wash 
  • Brain/spine/nerve tissue pain
    • eat whole foods; brown rice and greens, make green vinegars (nettle, chickweed, cleavers)
    • B vitamins
    • peppermint infusion, drink during day
    • catnip infusion, drink in evening
  • Muscles: skeletal, smooth (stomach & intestine)
    • blackberry and raspberry leaf (both dried) and other high mineral content herbs
  • Glands: (makes secretions) endocrine system, pineal, pituitary, lymph system, spleen
    • dandelion
    • chickweed and cleavers (fresh, make into a vinegar)
    • calendula (spleen)
    • bitters
  • Mucous Membranes: eyes, ears, nose, throat, digestive tract, vagina, anus
    • comfrey
    • chickweed
    • marshmallow root and leaf (dried infusion)
    • purslane

Another class was called Skin the Forgotten Garden taught by Robyn Klein who states that the body can heal it's self if nudged in the right direction.
Plants have a garden and the skin has a garden which includes bacteria, fungi, and yeast.

Herbs that are beneficial in skin healing include:
  • Plantain (Plantago major or lanleolata)
  • Burdock (Arctium lappa)
  • Lawn Daisy (Bellis perennis)
  • Tamanu (Calophyllum inophyllum)
  • Borage (Borago offinalis)
  • Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
  • Calendula (Calendula offinalis)

I made an infusion for a very special person from plantain, burdock, borage, yarrow, and calendula, which helped immensely with some skin issues. One quart was consumed each day for two weeks. Along with the skin healing some negative emotions where released as well creating a well needed cleanse. Supporting your loved one through times of cleansing and healing can be very important including knowing when to give them some loving space. From my understanding this emotional cleansing can happen when taking cleansing herbs especially burdock.


(note: these are just my notes, please look this stuff up for yourself; BE AWARE, and BE HEALTHY) 

Sunday, February 24, 2013

It's cold time again...

...and I am reminded of herbs that can be really helpful.

In addition to herbs it's a good idea to eat well, sleep well, drink plenty of water, avoid sugar, wash hands, and avoid touching face.

Some favorite cold herbs include:

Thyme and Oregano
  • help immune system
  • clear sinuses
  • anti-microbial

Sage (garden variety)
  • dries wet and drippy colds (put in salt water gargle)
  • anti-microbial
  • use in mouth wash for gum & tooth health
  • astringent

Red Cedar (the Pacific Northwest LOVES Cedar)
  • immune stimulant 
  • anti-microbial
  • respiratory health

Golden Rod
  • mouth health
  • wound care
  • respiratory, lungs & throat

Usnea (this lichen family fungi & agli mix only grows inch per year)
  • anti-microbial
  • UTI

Mullein Leaf
  • respiratory tonic
  • sinus, throat, lungs (strain tea really well due to fluffy hairy leaves)

Cherry Bark (any cherry tree)
  • coughs; the ones that linger & keep up
  • bronchitis
  • also an astringent; may make you hungry

Source: Missy Rohs of Arctos School of Herbal and Botanical Studies

Friday, June 15, 2012

Making tincture with my Herb Buddy

A lovely Friday evening with besties Rachel and Renee. We spend a wonderful evening make tincture from some beautiful plants growing in our community garden plots. Between the two of us we tinctured borage, lemon balm, lavender, artichoke, and st. johns wart. 
Artichoke (Cynara scolymos)
  • 50% vodka
  • Jovial Garden
  • 16oz leaf
  • dosing: 10-60 drops 3-4 times per day
Lavender (Lavandula augustifolia)
  • 70% vodka
  • Jovial Garden
  • 16oz flowering heads
  • dosing: 10-30 drops 3-4 times per day in some water
Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)
  • 50% vodka
  • Jovial Garden
  • 16oz leaf
  • dosing: 10-60 drops 3-4 times per day
Artichoke, a member of the aster family, is a bitter with cooling tendencies. Cynara scolymus enjoys supporting the liver.
Lavender, a member of the mint family, is a bitter and aromatic herb with cooling and drying tendencies. Lavandula angustifolia has many uses including, anti-inflammatory carminative, diuretic, stress, antidepressant, insomnia and antimicrobial.
Lemon Balm, a member of the mint family, has a slight lemon smell and taste, it is sweet, sour and aromatic with a slightly warm tendency. Melissa officinalis’ indications include anxiety, restlessness, headache, depression, and hypertension. Uses include, nervine, sedative, mild antidepressant, vasodilation, hypotensive, carminative, diaphoretic, antiviral and antioxidant.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Hike and tincture

Spent many hours at Oxbow Park today reminiscing the first day of Arctos and all of the wonderful plant friends that I met. To my delight I remember so many of the plants, actually I can’t think of any that I don’t remember. Today I saw, Western Hemlock, Douglas Fir, Western Redcedar, Red Alder, Bigleaf Maple, Black Cottonwood, Willow, Salal, Oregon Grape, Trillium, Waterleaf, Dead Nettle, Dandelion, Western Coltsfoot, Stinging Nettle, Bleeding Heart, Wood Sorrel, Cleavers, Swordfern and Horsetail. The sun shined it’s warming rays upon us and upon the earth, as it warmed our feet and filled our hearts with joy. My lungs opened in gratitude to the fresh air surrounding us as we mingled among our friends of the forest.
We noticed it interesting that up at the highest point in the park we found Alders, ferns, waterleaf, which associate to with lower elevation near water. Sure enough there was water coming from somewhere up there, however, we did not find the source.
Today, I dehydrated the Hawthorn Berries that have been in my freezer since fall 2011. They came from Woods, who harvested them from the farm. I finally processed the berries today and made a tincture. I also make Poplar Bud tincture from some buds I found on the ground on my walk in the woods. 
Hawthorne (Crataegus spp.)
  • 50%; Grain Alcohol
  • Farmageddon
  • 3-16oz jars; dried berries
  • 42 ounces
Poplar (Populus trichocarpa)
  • 100%; Grain Alcohol
  • forest floor near Sandy River
  • 8oz fresh buds
Lucky me! I’ve been gifted tinctures today including, Wormwood, Valerian, Fennel, Lemon Balm and Burdock Seed. I was able to share tinctures with my friend as well.