Wednesday, April 27, 2011

An evening with Stephen Harrod Buhner - Friday, April 29, 2011

I had the great pleasure of hearing Stephen Harrod Buhner speak at NCNM today. He spoke of the outrageous including trashing maps and invisibles! Herbal elders are so inspirational and helpful in reminding my mind to be out of it’s box and into real life.  SHB encouraged us to reclaim and trust our capacity to feel - anyone can do it; I can do it. The importance of trusting our bodies and our senses; reclaiming our body as a friend. 

I am inspired to look at things differently, as anew, and not be afraid to experience and feel. I shall take the time to listen and feel and try to understand. I will not believe everything that I know to be true. 
One thing that sticks with me is that, the words we use to explain things are not alway accurate. An example would be sunrise and sunset. Does the sun ever rise or set? No, the sun does neither. SHB suggested better terminology being, sun sight and sun eclipse. I like this unlearning, thinking, exploring, understanding, relearning... I hope to be able to look at more things in life and make my own sense of them and not be stuck with what I have known to be true. 
Stephen told stories of experience and personal connection that were really good to hear. Stories of Angelica, Chimpanzees and Dolphins, all creating memorable points. I really enjoyed his talk and wish that I could make it back tomorrow as it seems that he won’t be speaking again in the near future.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Poisonous Plants - Sunday, April 24, 2011

A great place to start learning plants is with the poisonous plants. Always be 100% sure of your identification and NEVER, ever use any plant that you are unsure about.

Poison Control 1-800-222-1222

The most toxic wild plants in our area:

  • Pacific Yew (Taxus brevifolia)
  • Death Camas (Zygadenus venenosus)
  • Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea)
  • Larkspurs (Delphinium sp.)
  • Water Hemlock (Cicuta douglasii)
  • Skunk Cabbage (Lysichiton americanum)
  • False Hellebore (Veratrum spp.)
  • Bleeding Heart (Dicentra formosa)
  • Acconite (Aconitum sp.)
  • Baneberry (Actea Rubra)
  • Poison Hemlock (Conium maculatum)
  • Poison Oak (Toxicodendron diversilobum)

I ordered Common Poisonous Plant and Mushrooms of North America by Nancy Turner along with Foundations of Health: Healing with Herbs and Food by Christopher Hobbs. I admit that I am addicted to books; not the worst addiction to have.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Cora House - Sunday, April 17, 2011

We learned about the digestive system and herbs that assist with digestion. First things first, before herbs come into play, it’s important to smell the food, chew the food, enjoy the food. Eat while relaxed and around those whom you enjoy their company. Eat and drink to assist belly flora including fermented food. Stay hydrated and consume fiber. Seventy-percent of your immunity is the digestive system.

Digestion starts with the mind - thinking of food; the nose - smelling the food, then the mouth. Mastication breaks the food into smaller particles and the carbohydrates start breaking down into sugars. Once the food is swallowed, peristalsis forces it down the digestive tube and the esophageal sphincter opens to let the food into the stomach. The esophageal sphincter closes once the stomach has released enough gastric acid. Here the food is partially digested and mixed with the stomach acids becoming chyme. Then the food enters the small intestine where bile made in the liver and stored in the gall bladder further breaks down the food. From here the broken down food enters the large intestine where water and electrolytes are absorbed into the body, forming solid waste that is stored in the rectum until excreted via the anus.

We harvested Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) from the back yard and made Dandelion tincture. We used 66% alcohol (95% Everclear) and 33% filtered water. It will be ready in 2 to 6 weeks, so anywhere from May 1st to May 29th.

When harvesting Dandelion it is good to ensure that the plant is indeed Dandelion which does not have fuzzy leaves. It does have a hallow stem that has white milky juice and only one flower per stem. Dandelion generally has a dark brown tap root. Dandelion is in the Aster (Sunflower) family. (Pojar)

When labeling tincture, always note name (common and latin), date, where herbs where harvested and percentage of menstrum.

We discussed some plant constituents including: tannins, oxalic acid, volatile oils, resins, carbohydrates, alkaloids, coumarins and glycosides.

Digestive herbs discussed today include: Catnip (Nepeta cataria), Wild Yam (Dioscorea villosa), Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) and Yellow Dock (Rumex crispus & R. obtusifolius)

It’s best to harvest:

  • Leaves - at first leaves before plant flowers
  • flowers - just after opening
  • seeds - fully grown, still green
  • roots - in the cold months
  • bark - fall

Ensure that plant is identifiable!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Camassia Nature Preserve - Saturday, April 16, 2011

After lunch we headed towards Lake Oswego, Oregon to find Camassia Nature Park tucked within houses and streets. A sacred place that represents plants east of the Cascades while being located on the west side.

Plants growing there today include: White Oak (Quercus garryana), Madrone (Arbutus menziesii), Saskatoon (Amelanchier alnifolia), Tall Oregon Grape (Mahonia aquifolium), Poison Oak (Rhus quercifolia), Trillium (Trillium ovatum), Sessile Trillium (Trillium chloropetalum), Fawn Lily (Erythronium oregonum), Camas (Camassia quamash), False Hellebore (Veratrum sp.), Sheep Sorrel (Rumex acetosella), Miners Lettuce (Claytonia perfoliata), Wood Violet (Viola glabella), and Dead Nettle (Lamium purpureum).

Tryon State Park - Saturday, April 16, 2011

I rode my bike to People’s to meet for class today. We were minus four students. I rode with Meredith, Missy and Derek today, to Tryon State Park located in SW Portland, Oregon.

Today we learned about flowers!

  • Petals attract pollinators
  • Peduncle is the stem
  • Sepals protect the flower before it opens
  • The Pistil (the female) contains the Stigma, Style and Ovary
    • Stigma receives pollen
    • Style is the tube on top of the ovary
    • Ovary becomes the fruit
      • Ovul is the reproductive cell which will become the seed when fertilized by pollen
  • The Stamen (the male) contain the Anther and Filament
    • Anther produces pollen
    • Filament holds the Anther

Trillium (Trillium ovatum) have 3 leaves, 3 sepals, 3 petals, 6 stamen and 3 stigma giving Trillium it’s name meaning “in 3s”. (Pojar) The flowers are bright white attracting pollinators, turning pink/purple once pollination is complete.

Wood Violet (Viola Glabella) are sweet little yellow violets that have dark purple lines exiting the bottom 3 petals.

I really enjoy learning about plants, botany is awesome! I saw and studied so many plants and flowers today including: Western Red Cedar, Red Alder, Big-Leaf Maple, Oregon Grape, Salal, Osoberry, Salmonberry, Red Elderberry, Hawthorn, Trillium, Hellebore, Garlic Mustard, Chickweed, Wood Violet, Waterleaf, Lemon Balm, Mullein, Dandelion, Nettles, Cleavers, Wild Ginger, Skunk Cabbage, Sword Fern, Horsetail, and Scouring Rush. I need to let all of this sink in.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Yarrow tea - Tuesday, April 12, 2011

After my Yarrow tea last night, I do not believe I felt any warmth. Also, I did not wake up until 5:30 am to use the restroom. Obviously, as I suspected, my dosing was low. Never hurts to start low and work up to a full dose to ensure unwanted side effects. This evening, my hot tea is much darker, almost dark brown and not very translucent. It’s quite bitter.

I feel unsuccessful with my Yarrow tea making. I will try all over again after I get an adequate amount of Yarrow.

Looking forward to class this coming weekend. I need to buy 150 proof everclear from the liquor store tomorrow.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Yarrow tea - Monday, April 11, 2011

Today, hot Yarrow tea made from Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) stems, flowers and leaves purchased at People’s Food Coop. I purchased a small amount and made one cup (2 actual cups) of hot tea for this evening. It smells woodsy and is a light brown translucent. It smells better than it tastes, it’s not bad, kind of bitter and rather woodsy as well. I await the warmth hoping that drinking this before bed, that I don’t experience the diuretic effect.

Exciting day! I finally purchased a scale. It’s a small Escali Pico scale (model N115) with a capacity of 11 pounds. It takes a 9V battery and it cost me $26.00. Unfortunately, I did not research the best most cost efficient scale. Fortunately, I went to my favorite local kitchen store, Mirador, and purchased the only scale that they have to offer. This is more my style, I like to support local stores, hence all of the shopping at People’s Food Coop.

Another exciting purchase, at People’s, organic Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) seeds from Horizon Herbs. There is a bit of Yarrow in the community herb garden and it does grow around here but I would love to grow my very own Yarrow. I will plant some in a pot outside of my door and some in my garden. The package reads, Mounding and creeping herbaceous or evergreen perennial, flowering to 2 feet tall. Plant thrives in regular garden or woodland soil in full sun to part shade. Sow in spring, directly in the garden or in pots. Barely cover seeds, tamp firmly and keep evenly moist until germ, which take about a week. Thin or transplant to 1 foot apart.

By sowing these seeds you are taking part in the preservation of healing plants worldwide.

Horizon Herbs provides non-GMO seeds packed in packages made of recycled paper and printed with soy-based ink.

The day gets better yet, I have received a message from my friend who has Nettle for me. Now to get in touch with another friend who has offered me the barrel. Fill it with soil, plant Nettle and happy-day. Renee, the herbalist in the making.

The smell of Yarrow reminds me of something, perhaps cooking, that I cannot recall. It has left my tongue with an interesting sensation. My stomach also has a weird sensation though I can’t say for sure that the Yarrow is the cause of this as I did just eat dinner. Although, it could be the astringent qualities of Yarrow. As my tea cools before I drink all of it, I can smell the flowers.

Goal!: Upon talking to a friend about herbs today, I realized that there are a couple of herb shops not too far from my home that I have never been to. OMG! How could this be? I couldn’t say and have decided to make a goal rather than try. My goal is to visit both of these shops and write about my experience.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Nettle tea & Aloe - Sunday, April 10, 2011

Yesterday evening while readying to saute some shiitake mushrooms from the farmer’s market, I burned my finger on the stove coil. Ouch! What to do? Everyone knows to use Aloe (Aloe vera) from the potted house plant, right. Well, I had a moment of panic before I recalled this information from my brain. I alternated a cold pack and the gel from inside the Aloe leaf through out the evening. Miraculous healing occurred and today I don’t even feel that I’ve been burnt. I am very thankful for the healing that the Aloe has provided me. Thanks Aloe vera!

I am still drinking Nettle tea daily. Last night a started a cold infusion that I’ve been drinking today. I am enjoying the Nettle tea, it’s very refreshing. I like it both cold and hot. I have plans to grow Nettles at my home in a big barrel, same as the one planted at the Cora house. A friend of mine is bringing me a plant that he’s digging up from Farmageddon Growers’ Collective. I look forward to growing and harvesting my own Nettle.

Tomorrow I will purchase another herb to be my next tea friend. I am looking at Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) which according to Missy, warms the body during a sluggish cold. Since I am still fighting off my cold and since I am always cold lately, I think I will try it.

According to Green, Yarrow is one of the best of the diaphoretic herbs, making it a standard remedy for reducing fever. (That would have been great information last week.) It reduces hypertension and is a tonic. The herb’s main uses; astringent, anti-septic, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, and a diuretic remedy for the genito-urinary system.

  • tonic - stimulates nutrition by improving assimilation which improves systemic tone, giving increased vigor and strength to the tissues of the body organs.
  • astringent - contracts, firms, and strengthens body tissues by precipitating proteins, and can reduce excess secretions and discharge.
  • anti-septic - prevents or eliminates sepsis (infectious destructive condition of tissue)
  • anti-inflammatory - combats extensive or too-painful occurrence of inflammation.
  • antispasmodic - prevents or eases spasms or cramping in the body.
  • diuretic - increase the flow of urine.

(Green, James. The Herbal Medicine-Maker’s Handbook - A Home Manuel. 2000)

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Nettle tea - Saturday, April 9, 2011

Thursday evening I started a cold infusion of Nettle tea. I’ve been drinking it since yesterday morning, having the last of it this morning. The dark greenish-brown Nettle tea is so earthy and nutrition tasting. I purchased 3 ounces of Nettles (Urtica dioica) from Limbo. Knowing that I have 3 ounces is helpful and my ratios are more accurate since I still do not have a scale.

This morning I made an infusion of the Nettle leaves in hot water. Cold infusions are nice and I look forward to drinking more of them when the weather is warm, but for right now, I would like some hot tea.

Nettle, according to Green, is a spring tonic and a general alterative detoxifying agent which clears out waste products, strengthen the mucosa of the urinary, digestive, and respiratory systems, and when taken fresh works against the allergic response to hayfever. It prevents uric acid build-up in joints and is extremely helpful in cases of gout, rheumatism, and arthritis. It is an astringent, which is useful for relieving excessive discharge and bleeding, and is diuretic and hypotensive.

Helpful definitions. (Green, James. The Herbal Medicine-Maker’s Handbook - A Home Manuel. 2000)

  • tonic - stimulates nutrition by improving assimilation which improves systemic tone, giving increased vigor and strength to the tissues of the body organs.
  • alterative - gradually restore health and vitality to the body by helping the body assimilate nutrients, eliminate waste, and restore proper function.
  • astringent - contracts, firms, and strengthens body tissues by precipitating proteins, and can reduce excess secretions and discharge.

Mmm, Nettle tea is so delicious and nutritious. I like it warm too.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Marshmallow tea - Thursday, April 7, 2011

Final day with Marshmallow (Althaea officinalis) for now. I did not try making marshmallow in hot water as it wasn’t suggested. According to Missy, Marshmallow’s mucilage is best extracted in cold water.

Tonight, I will start a cold infusion of Nettles (Urtica dioica) that I will drink cold tomorrow. While spending time with Nettles, I also plan on making a warm infusion. We tried both of these in class last Sunday and I enjoyed both. According to Missy, Nettles are rich in vitamins A, C, and K; protein; iron; potassium; silicon; and other minerals. I do enjoy all of these vitamins and look forward to Nettles tea.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Marshmallow tea - Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Still drinking the marshmallow tea though not the full 32 ounces in one day, I find that 16 or so per day is what I am able to drink. (8 ounces in the morning and 8 ounces in the evening) With all of the other tea that I am drinking right now, I know that I am not getting the full marshmallow experience. I am still fighting the crud, it seems to be on it’s way out though. Tomorrow will be day four of the marshmallow and I think I will try Nettles (Urtica dioica) next.

Before moving on to Nettles, lets see what Green has to say about Marshmallow. Internally, it is soothing demulcent indicated for inflamed and irritated states of mucous membranes. The root is used to treat all inflammatory conditions of the gastrointestinal tract, including the mouth, gastritis, peptic ulcers, colitis, etc.

  • demulcent - mucilaginous herbs which relax, soothe, and protect tissue.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Marshmallow root tea - Monday, April 4, 2011

Slick slime! Straining the marc of this liquid slime was quite interesting this morning. Kind of gross and quite intriguing. I shook up the jar to mix the slime and the water. The tea is a light brownish-yellow cloudy. Drinking the marshmallow tea is different than any other tea I’ve tried. The slimy texture was nice and smooth. The taste isn’t bad nor is it really that good. This might taste better with a complimentary tasty herb.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Drinking Ginger tea & Tryon Creek Trillium Festival - Sunday, April 3, 2011

Fourth and final day drinking Ginger, I awake to a refreshing cold infusion of Ginger root. It’s not strong and hot, it’s more sweet and it looks kind of like lemonade. I like it.

According to Green, Ginger is a master herb for relieving nausea and motion sickness, an anodyne in gastric and intestinal pain; a carminative and anti-spasmodic in the digestive tract; diaphoretic for promoting perspiration in feverish conditions; anti-inflammatory particularly useful in rheumatic conditions that benefit from heat, anti-microbial; rubefacient; and a reliable emmenagogue.

Some of this I have learned, but I’d like to study some definitions further before moving on.

  • anodyne, analgesic - relieves pain when administered orally or externally.
  • carminative - promotes the expulsion of gas, and soothe the stomach, supporting healthy digestion.
  • anti-spasmodic - prevents or eases spasms or cramping in the body.
  • diaphoretic - induces increased perspiration, dilates capillaries, increasing elimination through the skin.
  • anti-inflammatory - combats extensive or too-painful occurrence of inflammation.
  • anti-microbial - helps the body’s immune system destroy or resist the proliferation of pathogenic micro-organisms.
  • rubefacient - generates a localized increase in blood flow when applied to the skin.
  • emmenagogue - increases menstrual flow.

(Green, James. The Herbal Medicine-Maker’s Handbook - A Home Manuel. 2000)

During my last few days with Ginger I have experience some of it’s wonderful effects on my body. I did not experience any unwanted effects. It’s difficult for me to quantify any pain relief that I received from the Ginger but I believe that it was a helpful addition to my rest and yoga to relieve the post massage pain and soreness.

Ginger has soothed my stomach at all times except when trying to eat some of the marc left over from the tea. I had to try it, Ginger is good. Ginger has helped me sweat, even the cold infusion, which seems to have some very warming and soothing attributes among it’s pleasant taste. Regarding menstrual flow, I may consider less Ginger tea around that time to avoid increased flow.

Over all my experience with Ginger (Zingiber officinale) has been marvelous. I enjoyed drinking Ginger tea warm and cold. I am pleased to learn about Ginger’s many amazing medicinal uses. Cold infusion of Ginger was previously never thought of and I excited to have found this new way of making Ginger tea. It seems that the warming of the cold infusion is more noticeable because I am not already warm from the tea. It’s delicious!

Today, me and three friends went to the Trillium Festival at Tryon Creek State Park. We had the opportunity to go on a guided hike with a long-time friend of Tryon Creek. Tryon Creek has many native flora growing upon it’s 645 acres. We saw familiar friends including, Douglas Fir, Western Hemlock, Big Leaf Maple, Black Cottonwood, Oregon Grape, Salmon Berry, Western Red Cedar, Red Alder, Water Leaf, and of course Trillium.

New discoveries including Wild Ginger, we were able to scratch-and-sniff and the leaves which smell like Ginger. Wood Violet has little yellow flowers currently in bloom. I believe that we also met Sitka Willow (Salix sitchensis).

Also today, at Brooks’ house, Demel pointed out Yarrow (Achillea millefolium), which has fern-like leaves and it is an herbaceous perennial.

This evening, I have started my Marshmallow (Althaea officinalis) cold infusion. Still without a scale, I used 4 heaping soup-spoonfuls guessing that it may be near an ounce. I am really not sure and will be looking into a scale this week. I’d like to know that my doses are correct. Drinking the last of my cold infused Ginger tea, mmm, very refreshing.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Home drinking Ginger tea - Saturday, April 2, 2011

Day three drinking water-based botanical extract of Ginger root. I thought today might be the last day but turns out I would like to try a cold infusion over night tonight. Then, I will switch to Marshmallow Root.

Today, even more Ginger added to my decoction.

I am still taking my tincture but I will start spacing it out more and only using 3 droppers full. I’ve been outside gardening and playing. I feel much, much better but I am aware that I must continue getting rest and boosting my immune system. I don’t recall being as sick as I have been this year in a long time, with acute bronchitis and a fever. The sickness lasts only a few days but I’d much prefer to fight of these evils before they effect my body.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Home drinking Ginger Tea - Friday, April 1, 2011

Today I will use more Ginger in my Ginger tea as it was not very strong yesterday. I will continue taking the tincture as well.

The Ginger tea is stronger than yesterday though it could be stronger for my taste preference. I would like to purchase a scale soon to ensure correct dosage of my decoctions and other herbal preparations.

I took my tincture 3 times today, spent time in the sunshine and went on a walk down to Reed Canyon. Everything is budding and I am especially glad to not experience allergies which I hear others complain about this time of year. Today I saw, a beautiful Robin, a bee cozy with a beautiful flower, Skunk Cabbage, Salmon Berry, Cedar trees, Geese, Wood Ducks, Trillium, a curious Squirrel, Oregon Grape, Giant Horsetail, and many, many unknowns, mostly buds.