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!