Posted on

As Garden Season Ends…

 

The dome we put in was a complete success. The hugel beds which we also put in exceeded our expectations as everything we planted both inside and around the outside of the dome went crazy. I’ve frozen more beans than I did last year and even though it’s October and we’ve had some frost, they’re still growing. The gourds are finishing out and I’m letting them hang, curing a bit before I cut them down.mini bottle gourd

tomatoesThe year has been odd though for tomatoes. I have a section over by my cannabis plants that came up as volunteers, mostly of the Roma variety. They’re loaded with tomatoes but they’re taking their sweet time to ripen. The same with the Big Mama Roma plants in the dome. But we have some warm weather over the next week or so and if I need to, I’ll hang them inside to finish out. I have no blossom end rot this year. I added epsom salts to the planting holes before dropping in the transplants. It really does make all the difference. But I’ve been able to make a bunch of tomato soup so far and last night I canned 5 quarts of pasta sauce.pasta sauce

apiary greenhouseThe apiary greenhouse had a hard time getting started, but then it took off. My clematis died out, however, but it was fairly root-bound when I bought it, so I didn’t have much emotional investment in it. The two over at the dome made it though as did the honeysuckle I planted. It’s all about the bees you know. I listened to someone in our local bee community and pulled my honey too soon on my new split and I lost the whole thing. I’m sure they went back to the original hive, but I’m done listening to anyone other than Michael Bush and a few others who are more into the natural side of beekeeping. He’s amazing and his videos are full of great information and Jerry and I have learned so much from them as well as his books.

celeryThe Thai pepper and celery continue to grow in the dome while temperatures remain above freezing. This is the first year I’ve grown celery. I had no idea it would grow here on the High Desert and it was so adorable coming up. Each one came up with tiny celery leaves and while the stalks didn’t get as big as those in grocery stores, at least mine don’t have a bunch of pesticides on them, and they taste great!

The new herb garden was prolific even though my arnica, elecampane, and wood betony didn’t come up. They might come up next Spring though. So I’ll get more seeds, but wait to see what actually comes up before replanting. My white sage and skullcap came up at the end of the season, so you never know. I’m just thrilled it worked out because creating the space with eight foot game fence isn’t exactly easy. But everything I planted is perennial and I’ve already harvested all kinds of herbs to dry for tinctures, salves, and teas, and after one last weeding and mulching, the garden will ready itself for the coming year.

herb garden

We have spuds galore! I grew six different varieties in the dome and some of them are huge. A few had obvious water spots and we chucked those, but that was probably due to running irrigation water through the dome. We have another bed outside of the dome as well as two structures that typically yield tons of spuds, but as of yesterday, we’ve harvested over one hundred pounds. We’ll probably harvest the rest this weekend.

spuds

 

snakeI would be remiss if I didn’t include my helpers in the garden. A snake has been my constant companion in the dome and his watchful eye was always present, crawling all over the dome, hiding among the beans, melons, and gourds.

bee-on-borageOf course butterflies, bees, and lady bugs were ever present. It’s odd to harvest herbs next to a borage plant vibrating with hundreds of honeybees and bumblebees. But we all shared space and it wasn’t until I was watering over by some comfrey that I got stung. Multiple times. That never happens over at the hives. If I’m stung, it’s on the finger while moving frames or something.lady-bug-copy

 

butterfly 2Butterflies were all over the garden, seeming to follow me everywhere. But the best one was the praying mantis. I love those guys! They all stood ready to pollinate and protect. And our gardens simply cannot do without them.

praying-mantis

Fall is here with winter soon after. My garden gets better and better, with full credit going to the bees. Observe them and watch as they show us the way forward. They operate as one organism. It’s their reality, just as it is ours.

~Blessed Be

Oh..one last picture..of Agent Orange. Wonderful medicine!

agent orange

 

References:

  1. Michael Bush ~ The Practical Beekeeper.

 

 

 

Posted on

Comfrey and My Possibly Broken Toe

I won’t bore anyone with the picture of my toe. It’s on my Facebook page and anyone can see it there. I confess I unintentionally kicked a stool that I didn’t see was in my way after listening to a clip on the television from that crazy guy running for President. I’m a Democrat and it’s no secret that I’m with her. But he had been particularly insulting and I wasn’t looking where I was going when I shouted an expletive on my way into the kitchen for some tea. I’m sure there was a gesture involved as well aimed for the television. It wasn’t until a few hours later that I realized what I had done when the toe was purple.

While my rheumatoid arthritis was out of control for all those years, my feet were never not swollen. None of my rheumatologists even responded to my concerns until one of the last ones finally referred me to a neurologist to have him tell me why my feet are numb from the toes to the middle of my arch. But after testing, all he could come up with was fibromyalgia. Well, that’s nice and all, but it would have been better if someone would come clean about how this happened because I don’t always know when I’ve been injured. I don’t always know if I’ve stepped on something that’s injured me, or even if my foot is bleeding. It’s weird because my feet aren’t completely numb in that area, only partially. But since 1998 or so, I’ve experienced this numbness.

However, on the day in question which was around two weeks ago, I felt the full impact of my klutziness. When I realized how much damage I did I immediately got out my comfrey root oil and smeared it all over my toe, the toes surrounding it and part of my foot just for good measure. Then I hobbled around collecting various herbs for tea. I chose the most healing herbs I could find with comfrey leaf as the main ingredient.

Comfrey has mucilaginous properties that heal both internally and externally. And if you run a rototiller through your comfrey patch, you’ll have it forever. All it takes is a smidgen of a root and you’ve got a comfrey patch that will provide you with healing medicine forever. The bees love it, particularly the bumblebees, and it makes a wonderful green mulch for the garden. I lay fresh leaf on my raised beds and I not only have fertilizer, but it helps keep the weeds down. I have a plastic garbage can full of comfrey compost tea that’s several years old. Of course I have to dilute it and hold my nose when I remove the cover, but it’s wonderful in the garden.

I included some horsetail that I gathered from my younger son’s new home over in the valley. It grows like it should over there instead of the smaller, more stunted version that I have up by my irrigation ditch. He and his wife bought the place last fall and with three acres, they’ll have plenty of room for the horses my beautiful daughter-in-love wants to raise. Her mom has horses and competes in various long rides near her home in Australia. Horses are in her soul and I can’t wait until they have some.

Horsetail is a source for silica and treats both internal and external bleeding and acts as a vulnerary to treat wounds. I included milky oats, both the seed and the stems, to nourish and protect my toe. Its demulcent and vulnerary properties are healing and as a nervous system herb, milky oats helps soothe the pain.

Red Clover grows throughout my property and my bees just love it! But they have to share because red clover is a wonderful herb for tea. It’s an alterative, anti-spasmodic, and an anti-inflammatory making it perfect to include in this supportive tea blend.

Dandelion and chickweed are wonderful diuretic herbs and I tend to include them in most tea blends I make. Chickweed is great for inflammation as well, so although delicate, chickweed is a real powerhouse for healing as is dandelion. Dandelion is a liver alterative and balances and tones the master cleanse system.

Lastly, I included both spearmint and lemon balm in my nutritive tea blend. Spearmint is an adaptogen and lemon balm a nervine and both add a lovely delicate flavor to the tea. Lemon balm is said to kill the Epstein-Barr virus, the probable instigator for RA, so I try to include it in everything. I also use it daily as a tincture in support of the RA tincture I formulated.

The idea behind formulating is that 70% of the herb(s) used should focus on the primary complaint. 20% should be nutritive and the remaining 10% should stimulate the action of whatever effect we’re trying to have. I’m not the most exact herbalist who ever lived, so I tend to do things in parts. I might measure parts out using a tablespoon, or just grabbing the herb with my fingers, but I decide on how much a part is and then I try to remain consistent from there.

For this blend, however, I confess that the excruciating pain I was in made me probably weigh a little heavier on the nutritive portion of the formulation but that’s okay. Here’s what I came up with. I’ve been drinking it along with putting comfrey root oil on my toe since I did this to myself and on Wednesday I walked five miles, nine days after possibly breaking my toe. So, I’m willing to go out on a limb and say that it worked for me and I’m thrilled with the results.

  • Comfrey leaf – 3 parts
  • Milky oats – 2 parts
  • Horsetail – 2 parts
  • Red Clover – 2 parts
  • Dandelion – 2 parts
  • Spearmint – 2 parts
  • Lemon Balm – 2 parts

Now, had I truly observed the formulation strategy, I probably would have used one part each of spearmint and lemon balm, but given the pain I was in, I just didn’t care. And now I have a wonderful tea blend that I can drink daily if I want. I have an elbow and a finger that suffers from RA damage and this tea should help with it.

Oh, and one last thing. A Facebook friend recommended a Tens-like unit that her father is using to increase the circulation in his legs and feet. It’s called Revitive and I bought one. I’ve been using it for the last few days and I’ve noticed a change in how my feet feel. If things progress as I hope, I’ll do another post sharing how all of that went. If I can get ANY feeling back I’ll take it.

Blessings to all!

feverfew

 

References and Links:

  1. Confessions of a Back Porch Herbalist
  2. Grimoire of a Crone
  3. Revitive Circulation Booster
Posted on

Crone Balance Tea

Tea harvest

In gathering herbs for tea, I do so intuitively. I have an idea of what I want to accomplish and then I walk around looking for herbs to fit the bill. All of my teas have herbs that address my rheumatoid arthritis. But they also address other issues as well. As a Crone, I also include herbs that help balance and tone. I refuse to take any hormones and so far I’ve been successful in staying away from them.

My raspberries are ripening and each time I pick a bowl, I also harvest some raspberry leaf. Raspberry leaf is a wonderful reproductive system tonic for both men and women. I harvested some leaf this morning and then got a little carried away harvesting other herbs. I like to select small amounts of each herb and then craft a tea from there.

Wandering about my garden area, I found some comfrey leaf, a soothing, demulcent herb that’s wonderful for healing both internally and externally. Comfrey root has a mucilaginous quality to it and it’s useful as a poultice for bruising and wounds. Comfrey leaf I use internally in teas and tinctures and it’s really good as a green mulch or compost tea for the garden. I gathered a couple of leaves and added them to my bowl.

Nettle grows over by my pond. I found it growing in a hanging planter so I grabbed it and planted it next to the main pond (I have four). Nettle doesn’t seem to grow around the High Desert the way it does over in the valley, so I was thrilled to finally have some. Herbalists hate having to buy herbs that grow naturally. Nettle is a liver alterative herb which tones the master cleanse system. It contains Vitamins A and C and nourishes the body.

Holy Basil or Tulsi is an adaptogen, meaning that it goes where its needed in the body. It’s also a nervine and antispasmodic as well making it excellent for rheumatic complaints. I grow three varieties, Vana, Rama, and Kapur, in both the herb greenhouse and in pots on my deck. The smell is both spicy and minty and it’s lovely.

Another adaptogen is spearmint and likely chocolate mint. The chocolate mint is pure nirvana. It smells heavenly and so far I’ve purchased two transplants this year. Spearmint stimulates digestion, settles an upset stomach and has diuretic properties. I pinched a couple of ends off both plants and included them in today’s tea.

I recently harvested some mugwort, so I grabbed a couple of fresh leaves off the plant itself. I like to use fresh herb when I can. Mugwort is a versatile herb with anti-spasmodic, alterative, and sedative properties. It can be used in ritual as a smudge or to simply burn on charcoal in the cauldron for hedgeriding and shamanic journeying.

A beautiful sage plant is growing in a pot on my deck. It has large leaves, larger than I’ve ever seen on a sage plant and I just had to have it. It’s a nice respiratory herb with its astringent properties, but that also works well for rheumatoid arthritis. Sage also functions as a nervine, helping with pain.

Lemon balm or Melissa is a nervine and liver alterative. It reportedly kills EBV which may be at the root of rheumatoid arthritis. So, I grow it and use it daily as a simple tincture as well as in teas. It’s delicate and lemony.

I love the look of California Poppy. I discovered if I harvest it periodically, it grows back more lush and thick than when it comes up initially. A perennial, it comes back year after year. When I turned my outside garden space into a medicinal herb garden in the shape of a pentacle, I planted white California Poppy on each tip of the pentagram. But today, I clipped a couple of yellow flowers and stems for my tea. It has mild sedative properties, similar to its cousin the opium poppy, but not as strong, so it’s safe to use, however I have read that it may aggravate glaucoma, so those people suffering from that condition might want to consult a practicing herbalist before using California Poppy.

I think it’s possible that all four of my beehives are foraging on my borage. I have borage planted in two separate areas of the medicinal herb garden and they’ve gone nuts this season. They’re just covered in flowers and I gathered some as well as a couple of small leaves for my tea. Borage is both demulcent and diuretic and only undamaged leaves should be used. It has a cucumber flavor and can be used raw in salads as well. The flower is lovely to float in iced teas and other summer beverages and has a sweet taste.

Lastly, but definitely not least, I included some oat seed and oat straw in my blend. While not gathered fresh, I just finished harvesting and processing my first attempt at growing oats so they were fresh in that respect. Harvest happens when the oats reach a milky green color. Separating the seed from the stem is exhausting and I kept my arnica tincture next to me while I did it. My middle knuckle on my middle finger of my right hand was damaged by a customer in my former business when he crushed it while shaking my hand, all while knowing I suffered from RA. It was hard to miss my swollen hands, particularly if you held them in any way, but he was not happy with a competitor of ours and because I couldn’t make his experience over there better, he decided to take out his frustrations on me. And now I have permanent damage from his petulant and abusive behavior. You’d think a guy in his mid-sixties would know better, but apparently not.

Herbs like oats and oatstraw, along with comfrey leaf, are nutritive and soothing to the nervous system. Oatstraw is a nervine, demulcent, and tonic. It aids digestion and elevates the mood. Just what a Crone witch needs. I planted the oats in the top point of the pentagram, reflecting Spirit, to nourish and balance Self.

The idea behind today’s tea was to soothe and balance. The events of the past few days have left me feeling somewhat drained, but then that happens with empaths and other sensitive people. I’ve had to limit my news access because otherwise I experience overwhelming pain. I don’t understand the killing of others and we’ve lost too much in the last few days.

So let’s take extra care of each other, love each other instead of all this other nonsense. Let’s be the one family that we truly are.

Blessed Be

tea in pot

References:

  1. William, Anthony. Medical Medium: Secrets Behind Chronic and Mystery Illness and How to Finally Heal (Kindle Location 998). Hay House, Inc.. Kindle Edition.
  2. Erickson, Jan. Grimoire of A Crone. Kindle Direct Publishing. Kindle Edition.
Posted on

Liver Cleanse Tea

Liver cleanse tea

My knee was hurting this morning so I decided to make a tea to help with that. Years ago, when my rheumatoid arthritis was severe, I fell, tearing my inner meniscus on my left knee. Many years earlier, I had done the same on the outside meniscus of that knee while teaching karate. So I have to be careful when I walk because my knee isn’t particularly stable.

I think my entire property is comprised of uneven ground. Cottonwood roots have decided they prefer above ground living in lieu of where they’re supposed to live. So I have constant opportunities to trash my knee on a daily basis. I think our daily five mile walk which we increased to between six and seven today took its toll. But that’s okay. It’s Friday and Ancient Aliens is on the History Channel for the next ten hours. I love Fridays.

I chose herbs with a liver alterative focus for my tea. Many of them are also diuretic and some are analgesic. The roots and bark were decocted first for 45 minutes after which the mixture was removed from the heat and the remainder of the herbs added and infused for another 30 minutes. I strained the mixture and sat down for a nice cup of cleansing tea.

The idea behind prevention is that we keep our bodies in balance so that we don’t become sick in the first place. So herbalists tend to choose herbs that deal with ground floor issues and our liver provides our bodies with their master cleanse system. If we’re ill, then odds are we can begin there when bringing things back to balance.

In autoimmune diseases like RA, the liver basically doesn’t function correctly, nor does anything else. The body begins attacking itself and there’s nothing in the body that’s not affected by the disease. So much of autoimmune based arthritis is this way. People hear the word arthritis and think osteoarthritis, but RA and other types of autoimmune based arthritis are all-consuming and so destructive.

Fluid retention is a problem with RA so I always include herbs with diuretic properties to keep my fluid level in balance. Due to the constant swelling in my feet, ankles, and legs during the years I was severe, my feet are somewhat numb from my toes back to about the middle of my feet. So half of each foot is partially numb all of the time. My doctors over the years did nothing about the fluid retention and now my feet feel so odd.

Because I’ve used herbs that require different processing, I decocted (simmered) the bark and roots first, and then added the more fragile herbs to the decoction after removing it from heat for the final infusion. Typically I decoct roots, bark, seeds and berries. Valerian is one root, however, that has high volatile oils so that one needs infusion because boiling it reduces its effectiveness. But in today’s tea, everything is fairly straightforward.

I have a bunch of yellow dock root that my husband keeps digging up and bringing me that I used in this morning’s tea. It’s a wonderful liver alterative, cleansing the blood and aiding in chronic skin disorders like psoriasis. Folks who suffer from psoriatic arthritis, another autoimmune arthritic disease, would benefit from teas that include this herb.

Dandelion root is another wonderful herb that I included that has both liver alterative and a diuretic properties. From Grimoire of a Crone

Dandelion contains vitamins and minerals including Vitamin s A, C, E, and K, and calcium, iron, magnesium, and potassium. It also contains glycosides, terpenes, flavonoids, and is bitter. (Wikipedia, Taraxacum officinale, 2016) If all we had were dandelion to use for medicine, we’d be just fine. It basically covers all the bases. It’s diuretic, laxative, antirheumatic, and tonic; you name it, it does it. It increases bile, and reduces fluid retention and fever. (Barton, 1844)¹

I have a lot of Oregon Grape Root growing around my home but I can’t bear to dig any of it to harvest the root so I buy it from Mountain Rose Herbs. Another liver alterative, Oregon Grape Root cleanses the blood and is extremely useful in rheumatic complaints. It’s also has anti-inflammatory properties. I include it in an RA tincture I formulate and use.

Various willow varieties grow on my property, but the white willow bark I harvested from my weeping willow trees. Because it’s a bark, I decocted it with the other roots. It contains salacin giving it analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties so I included it specifically for pain. It also has alterative properties as well.

After letting the roots and bark simmer for 45 minutes, I removed the pan and added the following herbs.

Dandelion leaf  has the same properties as dandelion root, but I threw in some fresh leaf for additional diuretic and alterative support. Yarrow is flowering all over my property and I’ve been gathering it daily for tincturing and salves. It heals wounds and has anti-inflammatory properties.

I include red clover in everything. I have almost three acres of it growing so it’s prolific. From Grimoire of a Crone, “red clover acts as an alterative, anti-spasmodic, expectorant, and anti-inflammatory”² so it’s perfect for rheumatic conditions like RA.

Another herb that grows everywhere is comfrey. I use the root for external oils and the leaf for tea and tincture. Comfrey heals. Period. And it does it both externally and internally. It’s mucilaginous nature is soothing, nourishing, and healing and I include it in many teas and tinctures.

California Poppy is a fun herb to use. It’s analgesic, sedative, and anti-neuralgic although not as much as its cousin the opium poppy so it’s safe to use. I grow a lot of it and its perennial nature makes it a favorite. I added white California Poppy in my medicinal herb garden this year at the tips of each point on the pentagram as well as various poppies over in the apiary. The bees love them and the fact that they’re medicinal is just awesome.

The last two herbs I included were chickweed and cleavers. Last year, I thought it would be nice if I could grow both herbs because they grow naturally over in the valley. That’s Oregon-speak for everything over on the west side of the state, typically along the I-5 corridor. But in Central Oregon, we live on the High Desert and I live at about 3000 feet above sea level and it only goes up in elevation from there. It’s volcanic and dry, hence the desert part. At least on my property, I’ve not seen chickweed in a long time, if ever.

And then this spring, I saw both chickweed and cleavers growing. It was odd. My husband says I call for certain plants and they show up. I had already ordered seeds from Strictly Medicinal Seeds (formerly called Horizon Herbs), a medicinal herbal seed source, thinking I would need to plant both, and then there they were. Now I have so much of both that I’ll have no need to order any. I hate ordering herbs that should be growing on their own. It’s like ordering dandelion root. For an herbalist, it’s embarrassing.

Both herbs are diuretic and alterative. I include them to control the fluid retention that comes with RA. As a salve, both cleavers and chickweed are also useful for skin conditions, burns and rashes.

liver tea in jar liver tea strained

After straining the tea, I poured myself a cup. The rest I poured into a quart mason jar which I’ll keep in the refrigerator to use over the next couple of days. It’s a fairly strong tea, so it’s fine to dilute it a bit with water before reheating. I don’t really use specific amounts when I make teas. I usually just gather up some herbs, throw them in and don’t look back as my husband would say.

So the next time you feel a little off, wander about and look for some dandelion leaf, some chickweed and cleavers. Maybe you grow some California Poppy as well. Even if you don’t have a veritable herbal materia medica growing around your home, you probably have at least these herbs. Gather them up. Put your fresh herbs in a jar and pour boiling water over them. Steep them at least 15 minutes or longer for a more intense brew. Then strain and enjoy. That’s all there is to it. And you do this often, you just might notice a change in how you feel. And I don’t know about the rest of you reading this, but after thirteen years of excruciating pain with my RA, I’ve had enough of that.

Blessings to all!

~ Jan

Cup of liver tea

  1. Erickson, Jan. Grimoire of a Crone (Kindle Locations 1666-1670). Kindle Direct Publishing. Kindle Edition.
  2. Erickson, Jan. Grimoire of a Crone (Kindle Location 1858). Kindle Direct Publishing. Kindle Edition.

 

Posted on

Wildcrafting My Morning Tea

Morning tea

 

There’s nothing like wandering about, gathering herbs to use for tea. I live on five acres, three of it pasture. I never know what I’ll find growing out there, but mostly that’s where the red clover grows. I commandeered my vegetable garden and turned it into a large medicinal garden. Raised beds comprising the shape of a pentagram have everything from mugwort to milky oats growing in them. I’ve had to replant my skullcap a couple of times as well as my wood betony, but it could have simply been too cold when I planted them. Echinacea, elecampane, and yarrow surround the outside, with lemon balm, astragalus, St. John’s Wort, motherwort, burdock, and valerian planted about, observing their elemental correspondences for placement.

herb garden

I also hugeled the beds somewhat before defining their shape to help with moisture retention. The High Desert is dry and volcanic. With hugel beds, logs and sticks line the bottom of the bed, soaking up water and providing moisture to the root system of the plants during dry conditions. It’s a nice option for gardening in our area, because at 3000 feet above sea level, gardening in Central Oregon can be a challenge.

For this morning’s tea I gathered comfrey leaf, borage flowers, mugwort, and some lemon balm from the herb garden. From the yard I gathered dandelion leaf, chickweed, cleavers, nettle, and horehound. Once you plant horehound and comfrey, you have it forever, particularly if you run a rototiller through it thinking you’ll get rid of it.

Yes, I did that.

But the great thing about comfrey is that it makes really good green manure to use in the garden as mulch. That’s assuming you can get close enough to cut any. Bumblebees, along with my own bees, really love comfrey. A bumble actually followed my husband over to the new area where he was moving some comfrey plants. He hovered around crawling all over the comfrey plants even though no blooms were present yet. My patch is so big now, and with four hives, it’s probably going to be best to don our bee suits before harvesting the comfrey this year.

So let’s take a look at what I gathered, along with information from the materia medica section of my new book, Grimoire of a Crone.

Dandelion – taraxacum officinale – “contains vitamins and minerals including Vitamins A, C, E, and K, and calcium, iron, magnesium, and potassium. It also contains glycosides, terpenes, flavonoids, and is bitter.” “It’s diuretic, laxative, antirheumatic, and tonic; you name it, it does it. It increases bile, and reduces fluid retention and fever.”

Borage – borago officinalis – “the dried leaves contain essential oils, mucilage, tannins and saponins. Borage reduces fever, purifies the blood, helps itchy skin conditions, nervousness, acts as an expectorant, anti-inflammatory, tonic, galactogogue, and diaphoretic. Borage is useful as an eyewash, for adrenal stress, respiratory infections, and as a source of calcium and potassium.”

Chickweed – stellaria media – “contain bitter constituents and saponins. Chickweed is used externally for skin conditions as a poultice. Internally, chickweed is used to control weight, for respiratory conditions including fever, as a blood purifier, and for inflammation.”

Cleavers – galium aparine – are “bitter and the constituents include glycosides, alkaloids, and flavonoids.” “Cleavers are diuretic and are useful for fluid retention and inflammation.”

Comfrey – symphytum officinale – “Comfrey acts as a demulcent, vulnerary, expectorant, and astringent. It’s used for respiratory and gastric complaints, to regulate blood sugar, and to heal wounds and breaks.”

Horehound – marubium vulgare – “horehound is used for cough and other respiratory ailments.”

Lemon Balm – melissa officinalis – “treats respiratory ailments and digestive complaints.” and “with its nervine properties, alleviates headaches and nervous tension.”

Mugwort – artemisia vulgaris – “Mugwort acts as an emmenagogue and narcotic bringing on menses and treating nervousness.”

Nettle – urtica diotica – “aids respiratory conditions including asthma and hay fever. Nettle is a diuretic, expectorant, and tonic and controls inflammation and fluid retention associated with rheumatic conditions.

Red Clover – trifolium pretense – “acts as an alterative, anti-spasmodic, expectorant, and anti-inflammatory.” I use it for menopause symptoms.

These herbs are not only helpful for menopause symptoms but they also help keep my rheumatoid arthritis in check. Fluid retention seems to go hand in hand with inflammation and was a problem when my RA was active. So I look for herbs that are diuretic or respiratory in nature as well as liver alterative herbs to keep my system balanced. Other herbs such as comfrey leaf nourish and heal the body and I like to include it in my teas and tinctures.

So I love the wandering about of it, gathering all of these herbs for my tea. It’s a meditative experience in appreciation of all the land has to offer. It’s a blessing like no other.

And when all is said and done, relaxing with a cup of herbal tea is the best part of all.

~Blessings!

References

Erickson, Jan. (2016) Grimoire of a Crone. Kindle Publishing.

Posted on

Medicating with Cannabis – an Update

image001

 

I thought I would do an update on how I’m medicating with cannabis. I’ve been a patient now for almost six years and over that time, I’ve modified how I use cannabis for my rheumatoid arthritis. I’m in remission now and I don’t need to use as much as I once did.

As a herbalist, I prefer natural methods of healing. I even make my own toothpaste, face scrub, face cream, and deodorant. Almost daily, I can be found wildcrafting dandelion or some other herb that’s normally thought of as a weed. My husband knows not to kill weeds without discussing it with me or spells will be cast. Immediately. I mean who doesn’t love a good binding spell anyway?

Initially, I adopted the saturation approach to healing. I used cannabis concentrates daily as well as smoking and vaping. I used raw leaf and bud in smoothies and juice. I made cannabutter and used it in my cooking. And a year into the process I began making cannabis oil. From my research, when folks are seriously ill or have ongoing chronic conditions, saturation works best to give our body’s endocannabinoid system the best support to begin functioning properly again. A few hits off a pipe every day certainly helps but isn’t enough to deal with this level of illness. Otherwise, all we’re really doing is alleviating symptoms, not curing the problem.

I prefer to grow and medicate with indica-dominant strains, although it’s nice to have a sativa-dominant plant in the mix. Then I can do a blend when making tincture. I like making cannabis tincture with glycerin over alcohol, although I do make it with alcohol. The process is different, however. Alcohol tinctures are made using the shake the jar method and glycerin tinctures are made using a crockpot on the keep warm setting. At one point, the cost of glycerin had risen to around $50.00 per gallon, but thankfully prices on Amazon have come down substantially, back to at least half that price. I prefer a glycerin-based tincture in my tea. The alcohol version is too bitter.

I continue to make and use oil, but I no longer use it in a vape pen. It works and all, but after a point, I felt uncomfortable using it that way. It’s one thing to have the body break it down and assimilate it via the digestive tract by ingesting it in capsule form the way I do, or as a rectal suppository as many folks with cancer do, but to inhale it felt too much, so I now only use it at night in a capsule. I leave one side off the capsule so that the oil is absorbed more quickly. Besides, any alcohol that might still be in the oil can be digested in the stomach far better than with inhalation. I don’t want to take the chance of breathing in any solvent in the event I didn’t get all of it out when making it.

Vaping dry cannabis is another thing though and I still do that from time to time. But it’s a hassle to get out the vaporizer, etc, so typically I use a pipe or a bong and medicate that way. I’m not a fan of medibles so I don’t make much cannabutter anymore, although I may make some canna ghee soon. Medicated ghees are great and I think infusing cannabis into ghee would be really healing. Ghee is great for Pitta type doshas. I’m a Pitta/Vata person so with Pitta dominant, ghee is wonderful for me to use.

I also love to make cannabis-infused honey. I have a lovely large mesh tea infuser I purchased through Mountain Rose Herbs that I can put cannabis in for infusing. You never want to simply put the cannabis in the honey the way you can in other menstruums. It’s too difficult to strain out, so using an infuser of some kind, even if you put the cannabis in some cheese cloth, is recommended.

Cannabis infused coconut oil is still a staple in my medicine cabinet, or actually my refrigerator. I use it in smoothies and as a base for medicated salves. It can be used in the boudoir as well. Just sayin’. Seriously.

I must say, however, my primary focus now is on remaining in remission. Cannabis is part of that process, but it’s not the only herb I use. I formulated a tincture that includes herbs such as cat’s claw, sassafras, and Oregon grape root that I use daily. I also use lemon balm tincture because it’s said to be effective for EBV, which I believe to be the underlying cause of my RA.

I use liver, adrenal, and diuretic support tinctures I formulate as well. I prefer to approach health from the standpoint of nourishment and support of body systems that focus on assimilation and elimination. Somewhere that process became imbalanced and with the presence of EBV, eventually I became ill. So I focus on that now. Also in menopause, I’ve formulated a tincture for that along with using herbs such as motherwort and nettle in teas.

Medicinal mushrooms have also become a part of my daily regimen. I made some double extract reishi tincture and some chaga is currently in process. I grow turkey tail, reishi, and shiitake mushrooms as well as oyster in my cannabis room to give the ladies some much needed CO2 and then dry and either use them in cooking or for tincturing. I recently added powdered maca root to my smoothies for Crone support. It’s reduced my hot flashes immensely.

I use salves and oils I formulate for use on my joints when they become sore. Comfrey root, St. John’s Wort, and Arnica are favorites of mine to use and they work well. I infuse them into olive or almond oil or into cannabis-infused coconut oil for additional pain relief. And I still use raw cannabis in smoothies. Raw really is the best form of cannabis to use. I get all the healing plant acids that dissipate when dried. And there’s no high when ingesting cannabis in raw form, only healing.

It’s been an interesting experience, my return to health. I couldn’t have done any of it had I not grown my own cannabis. I would have never had enough to make any of the concentrates I used. It takes a pound of bud to make a quarter cup of oil, so having to obtain cannabis from a dispensary wouldn’t have worked and buying oil in one of those places is extremely expensive.

I’m no longer taking any prescribed medications, ending my last one six months ago and I continue to do well. If anything, it proves that a more foundational approach to health deserves a second look. Allopathic medicine treats symptoms which can be an appropriate choice at times, but it can also send the patient down the proverbial rabbit hole of endless symptom treatment. After nearly thirteen years I healed using cannabis when nothing else worked. And now I keep myself well with diet, exercise and all things herbal.

Our bodies and our health belong to each one of us. Taking control of both is not only responsible but necessary.

~Greenest blessings to all!

 

 

 

Posted on

Witch Notes: At Loose Ends Edition

herbs 3I’ve completed my herb course with Sage Mountain. I’ve submitted the last assignments and exam and now I await the results. I feel pretty good about it, though. So, fingers crossed. A certificate in herbalism doesn’t exactly allow me to be a practicing herbalist, but I like that I completed the course because it helped me organize and extend what I already knew. I find as I get older, that it’s really more about the process than the goal anyway.

I have other projects on the table, but I always feel at loose ends when I complete a project as involved as Sage Mountain’s course. It’s like the energy for that work continues without me, looking for something to do. At least with herbs, my work is never ending. I’ll continue to formulate various herbal remedies to keep my rheumatoid arthritis in clinical remission as well as others to keep my husband healthy. The end, in this case, is really just the beginning of more study.

Herbalism is an interesting thing. Throughout history, herbs have been the primary medicine for everyone and yet currently herbalists are discouraged from sharing that knowledge with others to avoid creating all sorts of legal headaches for themselves. Still, we have wonderful herbalists to learn from because for them, it’s a higher calling at work. At some point, we’ll find a way to blend herbs with allopathic medicine, preserving the integrity of both. But at this point, every herbalist must arrive at his or her own comfort level in terms of what they choose to share with others.

I think the biggest issue is that people don’t realize what they’re asking of a herbalist when they want to know what to do for one thing or another. In a medical situation, a clinical history would be taken before anything else happened. When a friend or a stranger asks, there is no clinical history possible and without that, a herbalist risks giving improper advice. At worst, the herbalist could inadvertently recommend a treatment which could be harmful and no one wants that. Herbalists have no medical malpractice insurance, so we’re basically on our own with what we know and choose to share. So, as much as many of us want to help others, we find ourselves in a weird place doing so. And I hate that because I love herbs so much and I know the power they have to heal. And I’m chatty, so there’s that.

herbsI’m redoing the garden, devoting the entire area to herbs. I can tuck vegetables anywhere and I’d love to grow as many herbs as I can myself. I’m adding a dome greenhouse and an apiary greenhouse, both with living covers in lieu of traditional greenhouse plastic. The bees will appreciate foraging for pollen in the small living greenhouse in their area and the 25-foot dome greenhouse will give me a place to grow veggies that can climb.

In past years, we’ve spent all of our time creating the spaces in which to grow. Now we can focus on specifics, improving the soil and focusing more on aesthetics. While we’re waiting for our outside mushrooms to grow, we’re slowly creating a permaculture bed to see how that works. And we await the arrival of the bees for our two new hives.

In the meantime, my herbs continue to grow in pots under Dominator XL LED lighting in the room I normally grow medicinal cannabis. I have a lettuce raft in there as well, growing lettuce, bok choy and fennel. I have to replant the kale because I used old seeds. I started early this year, so I’ll no doubt be re-potting some of it, but that’s okay. I’m just thrilled to be gardening again.

~Blessings!

herbs 2

 

 

Posted on

Herbal Foot Soaks

foot soakSo I have some blisters on the bottom of two of my toes, and I need to soak them in some epsom salts. We’ve begun walking eight miles again after only doing five for the last couple of months, and I’m back to issues with my feet. But first I’m going to decoct some herbs to help heal the blisters. When it’s done I’ll add it to the hot water I’ll use to soak my foot in.

I dug some comfrey root yesterday to use for an oil infusion so I used some I had drying in the dehydrator. To that, I added some dried yellow dock root and some sage. I simmered it for 20 minutes and then strained the mixture. I added some to the hot water in the container I’m using for the foot soak and soaked my foot for a while, adding more to the water as it cooled.

herbal infusionAfter the herbal foot soak, I soaked my foot in some cool water with epsom salts dissolved in it. Foot soaks are wonderful for tired, achy feet, to removing splinters, or cleaning out wounds. They’re useful when we feel stressed or have a headache as they draw energy down and out of the body. Besides, they’re relaxing after a long day and great for folks like me who walk eight miles a day in the summer.comfrey root

Comfrey and yellow dock roots are mucilaginous and soothing for wounds and other skin issues. Sage has astringent properties, helping the blister to dry out sooner. Epsom salts draws out impurities and infection. So this is a great. And roots can be decocted more than once, so when they cool, I’ll freeze them for future use.

A variety of herbs can be used for herbal foot soaks in addition to the herbs used in this situation. Hops, oatstraw,  chamomile, and yarrow, oatmeal as well, can be used as can any other relaxing herb. Essential oils such as tea tree, lavender and eucalyptus can also be added to the water. Half the fun is the creativity involved.

foot soak

So that’s my foot, soaking away in the herbs and epsom salts. I love epsom salts. You can use them for anything, but I love them for drawing out anything as well as to add as a soil amendment. Epsom salts dissolved into water can also be used as a foliar feed to add magnesium to control blossom end rot, or just to give plants a pick me up.

And that’s all there is to it. Simmer some herbs and soak your feet in them. Sip a cup of tea while you’re at it, and enjoy!

~Blessings!

Posted on

I Published My First Book

It’s up on Amazon in Kindle format..and I thank everyone in advance for checking it out!

UPDATE: I had to reload the book in a different format so that the pictures would appear..it’s updating now on Amazon, so it should be fixed soon. I think this part is more stressful than actually writing the book..

 

Confessions of a Back Porch Herbalist

Posted on

Back Porch Herbal: Horsetail and White Willow Bark

 

I love wildcrafting herbs. Not all plants that grow in the valley grow on the high desert of Central Oregon. Nettle, chickweed are two that I typically have to purchase, although I found some nettle growing in a pot this year that I plan to cultivate. It probably came in a nursery plant I bought. I may end up with some chickweed that way next year if I’m observant enough. Or I’ll go over to Portland and find some growing. Chickweed grows everywhere over there.

I do have willow and horsetail, among other herbs, growing on my property and it’s wonderful to walk about, gathering what I need for my materia medica without having to order any of it. The horsetail, or shave grass as it’s also called, grows up by the irrigation ditch near the juniper trees. Various willow varieties grow on the property including three weeping willows from which I harvested the bark.

The aerial portion of horsetail, or shave grass, is best harvested in early summer. I dried the horsetail I gathered on some bamboo mats on the floor of a grow tent I have. With its astringent properties, horsetail has a mild diuretic property to it, and also helps ease hot flashes and is helpful with prostate issues. With its high silica content, it acts as a vulnerary, healing wounds and reducing bleeding, and protects bones from osteoporosis, and its anti-inflammatory properties protect the lungs and may also be helpful in rheumatic conditions.

I use horsetail as part of a blend for tea or tincture. It can also be incorporated into salves for skin conditions.

Willow bark contains salicin, a compound similar to aspirin, and as an anti-inflammatory and analgesic, is used for general pain and fever as well as pain associated with rheumatic conditions. I love my willow trees. I know I have weeping willow, and I believe I have black willow growing wild all over my property. At least I think that’s what it is. I also have a more delicate type of willow, the name of which escapes me, that hasn’t done well where I have it planted. But it’s still alive, so that’s something.

I watched a video of an herbalist named 7 Song show how he strips the bark off of willow. He sliced it lengthwise, and then carefully lifted the whole thing off the branch. I tried this. I failed. So, I whittled both the outer and inner bark off the branches. I read that it’s fine to use the outer bark as well and given that I didn’t take anything from the main tree itself, but instead took smaller branches, I couldn’t see any real way to separate the outer from the inner, so I left the shavings as they were.

2015-10-09 16.50.09

The process took hours. Horsetail is much easier. Okay, I’ll admit that I can be a little obsessive about things, but I really didn’t know how much I’ll be needing, particularly if I use some of it for tintures, so I wanted to be certain that I had enough. I gathered/whittled enough to fill a half gallon jar. I was surprised that my hands weren’t in any more pain than they were after my marathon whittling session, but I probably absorbed some of its painkilling properties as I worked with it. It’s worth it though to know that I chose those willow trees nearly twenty years ago and brought them home to plant next to the ponds. Three in total, they p2015-09-18 07.42.31rovide the first food for the bees in the Spring, in fact, we put our new apiary next to them just for that purpose. It’s cool knowing that next year it will be our bees making the willows hum. This is a picture of one of the bees gathering pollen from a pumpkin blossom. Next year, I plan to use a small greenhouse frame with webbing or something over it with pumpkins and gourds growing up over it, maybe some beans as well, creating a living cover for the greenhouse structure. It’s sitting in the apiary, so I think it would be a great source of food for the bees. And it’s cool.

In New Menopausal Years The Wise Woman WaySusun Weed recommends extracting willow bark with vinegar, with one teaspoonful considered the same as one aspirin. I plan to use apple cider vinegar for the menstruum. Apple cider tinctures are gentle and have the added advantage of being food, so they’re often used in herbal remedies for children.

I’ve chosen these two herbs to help with both rheumatoid arthritis and menopause/postmenopause issues. Both are anti-inflammatory, helpful with both issues. Fluid retention is helped by the diuretic properties of horsetail, something that happens with both RA and menopause. And it’s nice I can walk outside my house and gather them instead of buying them.

2015-10-14 16.32.47 2015-10-14 16.33.42

I’m really enjoying all that I’m learning. Below are some of the books I’ve used in my research and formularies. I ended up with enough horsetail to fill two 1 gallon jars and enough willow bark for a half gallon jar. I’ll continue sharing my research and everything I’m making in future posts.

~Blessings to all!

 

 

Recommended reading that can be found at Amazon:

Medical Herbalism and Holistic Herbal both by David Hoffman are excellent.

A Modern Herbal Vols 1 & 2 by Mrs. M. Grieve, also found online.

The Way of Herbs by Michael Tierra

Anything by Rosemary Gladstar

Anything by Susun Weed

Anything by Michael Moore