Hurray, I made a start! This is the very first of what I hope will be a long-running series called "Ask an Herbalist." This video covers how I got started as an herbalist, and one plant that I consider to be essential for every home herbalist. A transcript follows after the video. Hope you enjoy, and don't forget to join in by posting YOUR questions in the comments section!
Eatin' Wild Series: Cleavers
Eatin' Wild is my series of articles on edible or medicinal plants that grow wild around us, including edible weeds that you may have been spraying or mowing over. This installment of the series covers a great spring/summer edible weed that is both food AND medicine!
Just this week I found a fantastic wild edible growing on my property for the first time this year. I was so excited that I shot a quick video to share a few details about this highly useful weed known as cleavers.
Cleavers (Galium aparine) have a lot of nicknames, but the ones that I hear most commonly are sticky weed, sticky plant, goosegrass, or velcro weed. One touch of the leaves or stems, and you'll quickly learn why cleavers have picked up these monikers. Tiny hooks on the leaves and stems cling to just about everything, including your skin, your clothes, your pets, and even itself. Once the plant seeds, well, they'll cling to you too. But there are a lot of good reasons not to mow this sticky plant down! Read on to learn more about cleavers, and how you can use them for food and medicine.
Natural Remedies for Cold Sores
Cold sores. Fever blisters. Whichever name you call them by, these little sores are painful, unsightly and for some of us, embarrassingly chronic. The good news is that Nature offers us numerous ways to manage cold sores. Let's take a look at this annoying infection, and see what we can do about it.
What Causes Cold Sores?
Cold sores are viral infections caused by a virus in the herpes family, usually HSV1 (herpes simplex virus 1). They can develop anywhere on the body, but usually appear on or around the lips, extending to the chin and up to the nostrils. Cold sores can also develop on the inside of your lips.
Many first feel a tingling sensation in the area where a cold sore will form. Small blisters develop, which can be quite painful. The blisters will break open and ooze. Cold sores are at their most contagious at this time. Over the course of about 7-10 days, the cold sore will scab over and heal.
The herpes virus behind cold sores IS contagious, and can spread from close person to person contact like kissing, or even indirect contact like sharing a drink with someone who has a cold sore.
Ready to learn more, including how to handle cold sores with natural remedies? Read on.
In the Herb Garden: German Chamomile
For so many of us German chamomile (Matricaria recutita) was our first introduction to herbs as a remedy. We were given cups of hot, honey sweetened chamomile tea when we were sick, had a tummy ache, or had trouble turning ourselves off at night. Chamomile soothed and calmed with its gentle, yet steady action, helping us to digest our food better and slip off to sleep.
It’s that gentle reputation that has made this member of the Asteraceae family so popular as a safe herb for children. Don’t let chamomile fool you though. She’s neither weak, nor just for the very young. She’s there for us when we aren’t feeling quite ourselves, whether that’s from:
So grab a cup of this aromatic, golden tea. Let's get into German chamomile, and talk about how we can grow, store, and best use her wonderful benefits!
Earaches, Ear Infections: Herbal Remedies
When your child is suffering with an ear infection or earache, it’s hard not to feel helpless. We want to take away their pain, and often turn to medications and antibiotics to do this. However, unless the situation is severe, we could be doing our childrens' immune systems a disservice by turning too frequently to medications. Studies have shown that many childhood ear infections will often clear up on their own in a few days. This means that worried parents can focus more on offering comfort and immune boosting measures than directly combating the pathogen behind the infection. Herbalists have long turned to mullein herb and garlic to soothe the discomfort of earaches and ear infections. Let's take a closer look at these two powerful plants.
Read on to take a closer look at the big hitters in this, and many other herbal earache oil remedies: Mullein and Garlic.
Herbal Remedies and Their Actions on the Body
Herbal remedies are a wonderful way to use plants, the people's medicine, as healing assistants. They do work, though usually gently and over time. Have patience with them, and give them time to work. Remember that herbal remedies cannot substitute for clean eating, healthy body movement and stress management. They are assistants that can nourish us and help us to mitigate unpleasant symptoms while we work to repair our diet and lifestyle, but they will refuse to mask a poor lifestyle. There is no miracle cure in either pill or natural remedy. You must work to make positive changes to your way of living. I know that's hard. I live it too, but it can be done!
"They are assistants that can nourish us and help us to mitigate unpleasant symptoms while we work to repair our diet and lifestyle, but they will refuse to mask a poor lifestyle."
The other thing to know about plant medicine is that it isn't one size fits all. Specific remedies and plants are not guaranteed to work on everyone. While there are some well studied, very reliable plants that seem to work well for the vast majority of people (ginger comes to mind), sometimes a particular herb or remedy just won't do it for you. Don't fret. That's okay. This is normal and natural. Evaluate your condition to ensure that a visit to the doctor and/or a prescription isn't warranted. If your condition isn't severe enough to require Western medication, then consult your herbalist and work to find alternatives that may work better for you. Mother Nature has blessed us with many, many medicinal plants, and there is a LOT of overlap. Sometimes, a switch in herb or a switch in method is all that's needed. If your herbalist is me, then don't hesitate to contact me. We'll put our heads together, and see what we can come up with. If a custom formula is needed, I will happily make it for you if I can.
I still have some slots open for a group consultation focusing on dealing with arthritis naturally. This is a small, focused consultation in a closed group setting. All types of arthritis can be covered. The consult is likely to run about 2 hours, and is $30 per attendee, a large savings over a one-on-one consultation.
If you'd like to reserve a spot, please message me privately, as I'd prefer to preserve your privacy. If you know someone who would benefit from this workshop, please pass my contact information on to them. Thank you!
I found a very nice infographic on vegetables that are best eaten raw, best eaten cooked, and the in between. While many foods are indeed best eaten raw, the raw foods diet is not generally the best way to approach wellness. The best way to approach a healthy diet is to ditch the extreme and go for informed. Check out the infographic for more details. Also, because I loved the article that the graphic came with, here's your link: Demystifying Raw Food Diets
I'm finally getting the teas added to my Etsy shop. First up is Relax & Digest, an herbal blend that I handcrafted to help with relaxing the body and encouraging digestion, especially when you're feeling over full! Featuring kid friendly chamomile and other soothing herbs, Relax & Digest is gentle and delicious. Teabag and loose tea options are available. Click here for more details.
Here's what you've got to know about getting enough fluids into you: Drink when you're thirsty.
While it's true that water is one of the best things that you can be drinking, other healthy beverages like herbal teas & infusions, smoothies, kombucha, kefir and juices are also healthy and hydrating to the body. It doesn't just have to be water, and it doesn't necessarily have to be eight glasses a day. It also doesn't necessarily have to be half of your weight number in ounces (i.e. a 150lb person should drink 75oz of water per day). There's little to no evidence based research to support these claims.
So don't obsess too much over how much water you're drinking. Avoid sugary drinks, too much caffeine, and drinks that contain additives for which we have no idea what the long term effects on the body are. Get to know your body, and drink when you're thirsty.
10 Myths & Facts About Water
I'm Jennifer Capestany, a clinical herbalist and freelance writer with a practice in North Texas. Helping people deal as naturally as possible with rheumatoid arthritis, chronic illness and other chronic conditions is my calling.