Wednesday, September 30, 2009

eight weeks later

i have solomon's seal root (Polygonatum biflorum) tincture. i am so pleased. my first tincture.

i put cheesecloth over a bowl and squeezed. i then labeled bottles; one for storage, one with dropper - with common name - latin name - date i started the tincture - date i squeezed it - and what was used: 50% herb - 50% grain alcohol. a few weeks ago i read that you can run your tincture thru a blender - especially if using roots - like i was - to help break down the root better and get more medicine out of it. 

what did i notice ? well... it was very slimy. which makes sense because i just read that solomon's seal is mucilaginous. mucilage is a gelatin like substance found in herbs. it is used in medicine for it's demulcent properties. demulcent herbs have the effect of acting as a protective barrier on inflamed or irritated tissue. these herbs are soothing and cooling.

solomon's seal helps joint injuries and helps restore lubrication and pliancy in the joints and tendons... and after actually touching the herb - it was thick and slimy - so it makes sense that it lubricates.

time for a tea break

when it all gets to much... the nicest thing i do for myself is take a break and make a cup of tea. yesterday i harvested some lemon verbena (Aloysia triphylla) so today i can have some tea. i only picked a few of the stems off the plant - just enough for a few cups of tea... that gives the plant a chance to keep growing. i let it sit for at least an hour before sipping...

lemon verbena is calming and sedating and has a positive effect on nervous digestive disorders.

Friday, September 25, 2009

whats out there... ?

well. there are no open lush fields around here where i can go harvest... i live in a cement pit - 20 minutes from downtown los angeles. this isnt all so sorry and sad... i have angeles crest national forest 45 minutes away... and the santa monica mountain range is close enough.

got me thinking about my herb garden.... some things i planted that did well and then did not. its to hot for the fragile chamomile... not sure what happened to the horehound... rue is putting up a good fight... mints are struggling, but i have faith in the mints. catnip is doing so-so.... and valerian comes and goes. lemon balm has dwindled back. comfrey is trying. lemon verbena was vibrant - but is now pale. basil was strong but is now twiggy. feverfew was abundant - now it is not - but i think it will bounce back.

so - i thought - work with what is working out there. concentrate on the plants that are thriving and have held tight for years. the herbal pillars in my little community that have held strong. everytime i walk out to the garden - there they are - standing tall and proud.

and even though i can just as easily order big batches from mountain rose herbs ( and they will be here in a few days... something is tugging at me to go look in my own backyard. i know who they are.... lavender has stood tall and quiet in the corner for 12 years. i cut her back many times when she got unruly - but she stays. and sage keeps going strong. and the surprise oregano. beautiful flowing happy. and marjoram who has the bunko spot where all the water collects and its sludge under my feet where you live, but you like it i suppose.

what i want to do is gather some information on those plants. the ones who have stuck it out in my yard.

my new allies




Tuesday, September 8, 2009

more on oatstraw

i posted earlier about my daily nourishing infusions - and made a small comment about oatstraw (Avena sativa) - but since i am now doing either nettles or oatstraw on a daily basis i thought i'd write about oatstraw a little more.

to make an infusion - use one ounce of dried herbs in a jar and cover with one quart boiling water. stir it a bit to get all the herb wet. let it sit overnight and then next morning strain off the herb and drink the infusion throughout the day.

infusions draw out beneficial vitamins and minerals. they are helpful because you get the highest quality nutrition - and by getting vitamins and minerals from a whole source rather than extracted materials - such as a supplement pill form - our bodies assimilate them better.

oatstraw acts as an anti-depressant and restorative nerve tonic. it is ideal if you are stressed, exhausted, nervous or sad. if you use it regularly it eases inflammation in your body. it is a great source of calcium to strengthen bones, teeth, and nails. to get your daily calcium supplement add a little horsetail (Equisetum arvense) in the infusion. oatstraw nourishes your nervous system and cleanses your circulatory system. it will help alot if you are just plain worn out.

Friday, September 4, 2009


the viscous wild dog... foraging amongst the lavender and feverfew...


i was going to pull this 'weed' i found creeping around my patio - but then thought it looked familiar to something i had seen in my plant id books. sure enough... its purslane (Portulaca oleracea). you'll know it by its branching stem pattern and succulent waxy leaves and stems. i did some research and this is what i found out:

purslane contains more omega-3 fatty acids than any other leafy vegetable plant we know of. omega-3s aid the body in the production of compounds that effect blood pressure, clotting, the immune system, prevent inflammation, lower cholesterol (ldl), prevent certain cancers and control coronary spasms. they also have positive effects on the brain and may aid in such conditions as depression, bipolar disorder, alzheimer's disease, autism, schizophrenia, attention deficit disorder, hyperactivity and migraines.

it can be eaten fresh or cooked. it has a mucilaginous quality (moist and sticky - so its moisturizing to your organs) and great for soups and stews.

purslane is a nourishing herb, an excellent source of vitamins a, c and e and essential amino acids, it has been described as a power food of the future because of its high nutritive and antioxidant properties. nourishing herbs are the safest of all and can be taken in any quantity for any length of time.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

in the garden

this is what i have in the herb garden right now and then a brief basic description on how the herb can be used medicinally. they can be prepared in an infusion (steep in hot water for at least four hours) or for stronger medicine - a tincture (soaked in alcohol for 4-6 weeks).

what is that sentence i am supposed to say now ? something like: these statements have not been evaluated by the food & drug administration. they are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. consult with your health care practitioner for proper use. there.

thyme (Thymus vulgaris)
- antiseptic properties - can be used as a mouthwash, skin cleanser, anti-fungal agent for athlete's foot and anti-parasitic for lice

sage (Salvia officinalis) - for mouth sores and sore throat. for sore throats, mix sage tea with apple cider vinegar and salt for gargling

lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
- a benefit for stress, anxiety, exhaustion, irritability, headaches, migraines, insomnia, depression

rosemary (Hyssopus officinalis)
- a digestive aid. treats depression and headaches. use as an expectorant and for muscle spasms

marjoram (Origanum majora
na) - relief from symptoms of hay fever, sinus congestion, indigestion, asthma, headache, dizziness, colds, coughs, and nervous disorders. marjoram essential oil has been one of my favorites for headaches - a few drops on forehead and temples

catnip (Nepeta cataria) - very mild herb medicinally. it has calming and sedative effects. which surprises me since cats go bonkers for this stuff !

parsley (Carum petroselinum) - a vitamin and mineral powerhouse. a natural breath sweetener. eat the leaves right off the plant to combat breath odors

feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium)
- helps dramatically in some cases of migraine, arthritis pain, painful menstruation, rheumatism, and muscle spasms

lemon verbena (Aloysia triphylla or Lippia citriodora - confused on the latin name here) - relief of digestive tract spasms, reduction of fever, strengthening of the nervous system. has the ability to break down cellulite, and has a soothing, healing and toning effect on the skin

basil (Ocymum basilicum)
- digestive and anti-gas properties. also for stomach cramps, vomiting, constipation, headaches, and anxiety

comfrey (Symphytum officinale)
- a priceless herb for wounds, sprains, bruises

valerian (Valeriana officinalis)
- a central nervous system relaxer and a sleep aid

common rue (Ruta Graveolens)
- the leaves applied externally will ease the severe pain of sciatica and headaches

horehound (Marrubium vulgare)
- benefits chronic cough and asthma
spearmint (Mentha spicata) - relieves hiccough and flatulence

chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) - a remedy for hysterical and nervous affections in women (!) has a wonderfully soothing and sedating effect

calendula (Calendula officinalis) -
a remedy for the pain and swelling caused by bee or wasp sting. a lotion from the flowers helps sprains and wounds