Thursday, March 31, 2011

Home drinking Ginger tea - Thursday, March 31st, 2011

Today I make a Ginger decoction! I used 32 ounces of filtered water and I used a potato peeler to grate the ginger. I do not have a scale and guessed at what an ounces of Ginger would be.

A decoction is made by simmering plant parts in boiling water for at least 20 minutes. (Arctos) It smells so good.

Also, due to having a cold, I’ve been taking a tincture that my naturopathic provider gave to me. The tincture includes: Echinacea, Elder, Osha, Myrrh and Elecampane. Dr. Mindy Cash wrote 3-4 droppersful every 3-5 hours for viral or respiratory support.

It took this tincture 4 times through out the day. I noted that my throat stopped hurting.

Upon looking up these herb’s core benefits I found: (Bremness, Lesley. The Essential Herbs Handbook, Duncan Baird Publishers 2009) Found here unless otherwise stated*

  • Echinacea (Echinacea angustifolia) kick-starts immunity, antimicrobial, reduces inflammation
  • Elder (Sambucus nigra) inhibits viruses, soothes nerves, supports skin
  • Osha (Ligusticum porteri) bronchitis, cold, irritating coughs *(
  • Myrrh (Commiphora myrrha) raises consciousness, heals the skin, clears respiration
  • Elecampane (Inula selenium) bronchitis, chronic cough, asthma *(

I have bolded the benefit, that I believe, is the reason it has been added to my tincture.

When I awoke today, I had a fever. Throughout the night I kept waking up feeling super cold and each time I turned the heat up a bit. I had fleece pajama bottoms, long sleeve top & my bed covers: flannel sheet, down comforter, fleece blankets and an afghan. My fever was anywhere from 99.7-100.1 according to a electric sublingual thermometer. I don’t usually experience fever and would say this is high enough to stay away from others. By 7pm my temperature read 98.7 degrees fahrenheit. Hooray for the natural fever to assist in fighting off whatever it was fighting off.

My theory is that on my hike on Saturday I did not dress warm enough. I dressed for a hike, one where I would get warm, forgetting that this is more of a stroll in the woods. Therefore, I was cold for most of the day. Then on Wednesday, Mindy gave me a deep tissue massage that broke up a lot of the crud. Between being chilled and the crud break up, my body decided to take care of issues by burning them out. Well done body.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Hoyt Arboretum - Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

Today, I took the day off from work to venture into the Hoyt Arboretum to meet the trees. The Hoyt Arboretum has labels on many of the trees and shrubs. Murphy and I walked around to see what we could see.

Oregon Ash (Fraxinus latifolia) is a smaller tree, less than 25 feet tall according to Pojar. Also, it states that Oregon Ash seems to protect from snakes: traditional wisdom suggest that rattlesnakes will not crawl over an Oregon Ash stick, and areas where this tree grows are free from poisonous snakes. Interesting. The Fraxinus latifolia is bare today as it is a deciduous tree, brown trunk covered with green moss/lichen ridges.

This day ends up being a good day to better learn the Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) which happens to be Oregon’s State Tree. The Douglas Firs today seemed to range in size of truck but where all quite tall. Some of them had low enough needles that I was able to touch and get a good look at while others where way up high. I had trouble determining if these were both Douglas Firs, but according to signs they are. The outline in the Pojar shows the trunk growing very tall before the branches and needles appear. Next time, I not only need to look at the way they grow spirally but see how flat the needles are.

Moss/lichen seem to grow in small amounts on the bark. The bark is very intricate and mysterious with wrinkled depth.

One way to determine if it is a Douglas Fir is to look for cones on the ground surrounding the tree. I have learned these cones and have read that they are unique. They are the ones that are about 2 inches in length that can be held hidden in my hand.

Upon double checking that Douglas Fir is indeed our state tree I found some other interesting things about Oregon. Oregon’s state bird is the Western Meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta), state flower is the Oregon grape (Mahonia aquifolium), state nut is the hazelnut (Corylus avellana), state stone is the Oregon sunstone and the state animal is the American Beaver (Castor canadensis). (

Time well spend on Saturday getting to know the waterleaf (Hydrophyllum tenuipes) because today I able to point some out to Murphy and then look in my Pojar to ensure my correctly. Pat on the back, well done.

Regarding homework, perhaps my new plant friend to practice water-based botanical extracts will be Marshmallow. I will look into getting some Marshmallow. Initially I thought Ginger and bought some Ginger at the market today. After reading about Ginger I had second thought but it is handy when fighting off a cold. My second guess occurred when I noted that my ‘cold’ is mainly a sore throat. Maybe both, ginger as my known and marshmallow as my new found friend. The sliminess will most likely help my dry scratchy throat.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Cora House - Sunday, March 27th, 2011

Sunday morning, I walk a few blocks from my home to our meeting spot for the day. Once again I run into Deborah on the way there :) We take off our shoes and enter a living room where we sit in cozy circle ready to learn. Once again we introduce and get to know our new friends.

We learn definitions: cold infusion, compress, decoction, essential oil, fixed oil, flower essence, infused oil, infusion, liniment, poultice, salve, succus, syrup, tea and tincture. We look up definitions in many books and share the differences, including: analgesic, antispasmodic, antitussive, calmative, carminative, demulcent, disphoretic, diuretic, emetic, expectorant, nutritive, restorative, etc. Stick these plus much more into brain, Go! :)

We Portlanders go into the rain and spend sometime with the garden herbs. First, a whole pot of beautiful Nettle. Up next, Rosemary and Sage. Then Violets. We taste the Rosemary flowers, and the Violet leaves.

Inside we taste tea including a cold infusion of Nettle, a warm infusion of Nettle tea and of Ginger. Tea lasts up to 48 hours and then it’s better to discard rather than ingest. Prior to letting tea go bad, make ice cubes instead.

After eating lunch, we get to taste many beautiful tinctures and learn about digestive herbs. We tasted, Lavender, Yarrow, Hops, Chamomile, Comfrey, Nettle, Marshmallow, Calendula, and Angelica.

For my homework, I will pick a herb as my tea friend. Which herb shall I pick? I will keep a journal of making/taking with much detail. I will sit with a plant for an hour and get to know it as my friend. Personally, I will work with learning plants and plant medicine as daily as possible. YAY! Go plants!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Oxbow Park - Saturday, March 26th, 2011

Class started with 12 students and 2 teachers meeting at People’s Food Coop in SE Portland, Oregon. Well, 11 students, one met us at Oxbow Regional Park. Starting at People’s is very handy, we were all able to get any last minute snacks, lunch or coffee.

We introduce ourself and play, “If you knew me better, you’d know...” Missy talks to cats, Nik grew up in a mining town in Montana, Matthew could eat soup for every meal for the rest of his life, Cyndi won’t live without having chocolate in her daily life, etc...

It was about an hour drive out to Oxbow, I was in a car drove by Patti along with Nik, Matthew and Deborah. It was nice getting to know my new friends.

Out of the car and all ready with day-packs and rain gear we breath in the fresh forest. We begin our hike and shortly we stop to notice some plants. First, we have a mystery plant, hmm, what is it? It looks kind of like carrot leaves but less frilly. The stem is round but with a u-shaped edge. We wonder what it is...

Next plant we meet, we already know by looks. It’s stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) and I’ve met nettle before and it has stung me. It’s a tingly feeling that goes away after a day or so. We learned that nettle has opposite leaves, and above the leaves on the stem, 4 little leaves. Harvesting nettle, cut the stem right above the leaves to ensure that it doesn’t rot or get disease. We want to leave at least 3 or so leaf opposites on the plant and not harvest further down. Never harvest greater than 10% of a plant in an area.

Next on our walk we meet chickweed (Stellaria media) and lucky me chickweed is helpful in soothing nettle sting. It did not work for me immediately and the relief was only temporary. How do we know it’s chickweed when there is a very similar plant growing around it. Upon closer look at the chickweed, with a loop, we see along the stem are a line of fine hairs. Chickweed is edible and I chewed it, then put it on my nettle sting, this is called a poultice.

Looking up, a huge broadleaf friend, we see the Bigleaf Maple (Acer macrophyllum) standing tall and grand covered in layers of moss. Many leaves decompose on the ground creating soil; going back to the earth. Acer macrophyllum sends small roots back up it’s bark in the soil created by the moss, these roots are called canopy roots. Maple syrup is not harvested from our west coast maples, as without the freezing winters that the east coast receives, maple syrup is sparse. The seeds are something I recall from childhood as the little helicopter seeds that you could stick onto your nose. Bigleaf maple also known as Oregon Maple grow near Douglas Fir.

Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) make wrinkles and aging look good, something that Missy heard and has passed onto us. Douglas firs are conifers and have flat needles which are arranged spirally. The pine cones are about two inches in length, a red-ish brown color with three-forks extending from between scales. The cones this day were dark and wet, the three-forks being more redish-tan.

I met the Osoberry (Oemleria cerasiformis) which is unique to me with it’s leaves growing upward as it’s flowers dangle. My memory of this plant is lacking and I shall have to meet it again. Did it taste like cucumber?

Western Hemlock (Tsuga heterophylia) grow below the Douglas Fir. Growing tall with a leading droop. The pine cones of this conifer are much smaller being about as big as my thumbnail.

Further along on our forest hike we come upon a very strong tree that we circle around hands held. The Western Redcedar (Thuja plicata), also a conifer, has flat needles and little loose cluster cones. The useful bark doesn’t grow much moss and other forest greens as it is antimicrobial. (I believe...) The fibrous wood is grayish to red-brown.

Little baby trees can start there lives on a fallen Douglas Fir tree. As the fallen tree breaks down and decomposes, it creates soil and nutrients for the young trees.

What are these sticky leaves sticking to me? Cleavers (Galium aparine) perhaps. Yes, little rounded flower leaves surround the stem.

It’s the season for trilliums (Trillium ovatum) and I learned that trillium are perennials growing from rhizomes. Trillium has three white flower petals that turn pink-purple as they age. This brilliant flower has the ants planting it’s seeds. These are a no-pick plant/flower.

The middle of our day hike brings us to a picnic shelter over looking the river where we all enjoy lunch.

I spent some time petting and memorizing waterleaf (Hydrophyllum tenuipes) and I hope to remember this one well when we meet again. Along with all of the others that I met and can’t quite recall.

The Sword Fern (Polystichum munitum) is a beautiful and large fern. Ferns are Pteridophyte and Sphenophyte which have vascular systems but reproduce by spore. The underside of the fern leaves are full of many spores.

Upon coming to a flood plain near the Sandy River we meet some blooming Salmon Berry (Rubus spectabilis). The salmon berry grow right out of the sand near many Red Alder (Alnus rubra). Closer to the river grow Willow (Salix sp.), some budding soft pussy willows.

After resting in the sunshine on the Sandy River beach, we head back. On our way we meet Black Cottonwood (Populus trichocarpa) and smell is very stick resonated buds and find a few catkins on the ground.

All along our hike we see more of the mystery plant and on our way back to the car, I know what the mystery plant is. It’s a bleeding heart (Dicentra formosa). I can’t wait to go back and see of them in bloom, beautiful!

Circled back up before we hit the road we share with each other the joys of the day. A very wonderful day it was!

For my homework, I plan on a trip to the Hoyt Arboretum to learn more about trees.