I invite you to send me any questions you have on health and wellness, herbs, herbal medicine, plant spirit medicine, natural skincare, and anything else that comes to mind that I may answer. I can’t diagnose or treat over the internet, but I welcome suggestions on what you might want to read in my blog.

Tuesday
May132014

Wild Pasta

Ah, spring. Michael and I spent Monday hanging out in the nature. There were many beautiful flowers and other forest floor plants out doing their thing.

Michael and Sasha enjoying a quiet sit by the river.

This time of year everything happens so quickly that everyday is an awakening to a new world. Birds are all twitterpated, flowers are bursting forth, the days are getting warmer and longer.

Fully unfurled ostrich ferms cover the forest floor.

Now is a great time for gathering wild foods. Already some are on the way out such as wild leeks and fiddleheads. We just managed to gather enough of the last of the fiddleheads to add to our wild pasta. We also gathered garlic mustard, dandelion flowers and stinging nettle.

To make our wild pasta, we gentley sauteed the greens in a bit of water in a large sauce pan with onions, enoki mushrooms, basil, rosemary, salt and chili peppers. At the end I added a bit of balsamic vinegar and olive oil. We tossed the greens into organic brown rice pasta and added grated asiago and parmesan cheeses and freshly ground black pepper.

Delicious!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thursday
Mar132014

Coming Soon: The New Edition of "Plant Spirit Medicine" 

The much anticipated new edition of the book "Plant Spirit Medicine" by Eliot Cowan will be coming out in April. I am so excited!

The original book literally changed my life. In 1995, a friend gave me a copy of the book and said to me, "This is for you." I cracked it open and couldn't put it down. When I turned the last page I knew two things very clearly: firstly, that I needed to experience this medicine as a client as soon as possible; and secondly, that I needed to study this medicine as soon as possible.

It took a while to fulfill this vision, but I finally became a PSM healer in 2006 and have been growing with the medicine ever since.

Eliot will be here in Ontario August 6 - 11 for Healing Retreat, and the plan is to have a book launch around that time. I haven't any details yet, but will post them as soon as I can.

In the meantime, here is an excerpt from the introduction:

One function of an elder is to demonstrate the wisdom of our wisest elder: the natural world itself. I say “demonstrate” because talk is not enough. I can say, “The natural world sustains itself with balanced relationships, and it can also restore balance, healing, and sustainability in human life.” This may sound appealing, but as an idea it is soon drowned out in the din of other ideas clamoring for attention. Even if you agree with it, nothing will have changed from thinking about it. An experience, on the other hand, can be denied and even forgotten, but it cannot be unexperienced. Experience changes you forever.

When your heart is touched by the medicine of a plant spirit, you feel the love and wisdom of the natural world. Ideas do not deliver the same touch; therefore, this book is not a theoretical treatise or a how-to manual.

Mostly this is a book of stories, because stories aim for the heart, where experience lives.

Thursday
May232013

Bird Photography"If one day I see a small bird and recognize it, a thin thread will form between me and that bird. If I just see, it but don't really recognize it, there is no thin thread. If I go out tomorrow and see and really recognize that same individual small bird again, the thread will thicken and strengthen just a little. Every time I see and recognize that bird, the thread strengthens. Eventually, it will grow into a string, then a cord, and finally a rope. This is what it means to be a Bushman. We make ropes with all aspects of the creation in this way." - Sans Bushman

Saturday
Mar162013

Living Earth School of Herbalism - Herbal Field Studies 

This is a series of seven full-day workshops running monthly from April to October. Participants will learn how to identify, harvest and use many wild herbs that grow in Ontario . At each field workshop they will also have the opportunity to make some kind of herbal preparation using herbs that they will harvest during the workshop.

The course begins with an online introductory class that establishes the theoretical foundation for the field workshops. The field workshops take place in various wilderness locations outside of the Toronto area. Whenever possible, carpooling will be arranged for participants who do not have vehicles.

For students who enrol in the Traditional Herbalist program that do not live in southern or central Ontario and are unable to attend the regularly scheduled field workshops, the field workshops will be included as an extension to the intensive workshops that make up the advanced part of the program.

Topics include:
Identifying local herbs through the various stages of their life-cycle; introductory botany and plant anatomy; the ecology of wild harvesting herbs; harvesting instructions for different herb species; drying herbs; making herbal preparations from fresh plants; the medicinal properties and uses of local herbs.

Prerequisite: Students must register for and complete the online introductory class as a prerequisite for attendance of any of the field workshops.

Required textbooks: Newcomb's Wildflower Guide (Lawrence Newcomb); Peterson Field Guide to Medicinal Plants of Eastern and Central North America (Steven Foster, James Duke).

Field workshops Dates:
Saturdays 10:30 am to 5:00 pm
Field workshops: April 20, May 25, June 15, July 6, 27, August 24, October 19.


Saturday
Dec292012

Home Remedies for Coughs, Colds & Flu

Living Earth School of Herbalism has just released a one hour video lecture called Immune Support and the Natural Treatment of Colds and Flu. Here are some simple home remedies for coughs, colds and flu that you can do as well. These remedies are safe for pregnant women as well as children, though remember not to use honey with children under 1 year old.    

First of all, at the first sign of illness, simplify your daily activities and get lots of rests. Take a sick day from work if possible and give yourself some TLC. Also, be sure to keep warm and don’t let yourself get chilled. Next, use the following treatments and remedies to stimulate your immune system:

The Wet Sock Treatment:

The wet sock treatment is an easy way to boost your immune system quickly. I know it sounds bananas but you’ll have to trust me on this one. I’ve done it several times myself and can attest to its powerful healing abilities. Cold on your feet initiates the fever response which is the body’s natural way of fighting off cold and flu infections and increasing the circulating levels of white blood cells. It increases the circulation and decreases congestion in the upper respiratory passages, head, and throat. It is very effective for fever, sore throat, upper respiratory infections and congestion, coughs and bronchitis, ear infections, headaches and migraines. It also has a sedating action and improves sleep quality.

Method:

Ingredients: 1 pair 100% cotton socks; 1 pair thick wool socks

  1. Make sure your feet are warm first. If need be give them a soak in warm water or do this after a bath.
  2. Soak the cotton socks in very, very cold water and then wring them out thoroughly so that they aren’t dripping. Put them on your feet.
  3. Put the wool socks over the cotton socks and get into bed for the night immediately.
  4. Keep the socks on over night. In the morning they will be bone dry.
  5. Repeat this procedure for 3 nights in a row.

To enhance this whole process, sip a cup of ginger tea after getting into bed.

Ginger Tea & Friends:

Ginger tea and friends is an excellent remedy that can be used by everyone in the family. It will enhance your immunity, increase circulation, decrease congestion, and reduce a fever. You will feel very hot when you drink this tea because the blood is going to the surface of the skin to help dispel the fever.

[Caution: Ginger in large amounts (more than 1-2 grams of dried ginger per day) has been associated with miscarriage. Do not exceed the recommended dosage and avoid altogether in the first trimester if you have a history of miscarriage].

Ginger root is excellent for colds and flu because it stimulates the immune system, brings down a fever and helps clear toxins and congestion. It clears phlegm in the lungs and is good for infections of the lower and upper respiratory tract. At the onset of a cold finely chop fresh ginger root (a piece that measures from the last knuckle to the end of your thumb) and steep it in a cup of boiled water for 15 minutes covered. Strain and drink every couple of hours.

For greater kick and immune stimulating properties add a pinch of powdered cayenne to the ginger tea, one teaspoon of honey and the juice of half a small lemon (see my blog on lemons to learn more about their healing potential). To ratchet this tea up yet another notch, add one clove of crushed raw garlic. Garlic is one of our best natural antibiotics and is excellent for any infections in the body. Its essential oils are expressed through the lungs which is great for any lung infection.

Onion Soup: Cut 1 large yellow onion in small pieces; cover with 2L of water; simmer for ½ hour. Strain and add honey to taste. Drink 2 cups ever 2 hours until your flu is gone.

Reducing Fever:

Any of the above treatments will reduce fever. Also sipping a few cups of lemon balm, catnip, or chamomile tea throughout the day will bring your fever down.

Decongesting the Sinuses:

Mustard Foot Baths:

Hot mustard foot baths are used for congestion in the sinuses and lungs, a chest cough, headaches, and are an old recipe for throwing off colds. The blood flows away from the over-congested area and rushes to the feet. The body soon sends the blood back through normal channels, and proper circulation is restored. Mix 1 tbsp of dry mustard powder into 2L of hot water and soak your feet for 10 minutes, twice daily. Cover your head with a hat to increase body heat.

Salt Decongestant:

Use a saltwater in the nose to decongest the sinuses. Dissolve ¼ tsp of sea salt in one cup of warm water. Use a tablespoon to sniff the solution up your nostrils one at a time. Place a tbsp of solution under one nostril, block off the other nostril with your finger and sniff. Spit out the solution, do not swallow it. Repeat in the opposite nostril, and then repeat the procedure all over again. After, gently blow your nose. Do this 3-4 times a day.

Sore Throat:

Echinacea Tincture: Gargle with 30 – 60 drops echinacea tincture in 30mls warm water for a few minutes and then swallow in small amounts while tilting your head side to side and back and forward so that the Echinacea washes over your entire throat.

Salt Water and Sage: Ingredients: 1 cup boiled water; 2 tsp sage leaves (dried; or 3 tsp fresh); ¼ tsp salt

Pour boiling water over the sage, cover and steep for 20 minutes. Strain and add salt and stir. Gargle when cooled to a comfortable temperature. Gargle repeatedly (4 times or so). Spit out tea. Do this at least 2 times a day (preferably 3).

Coughs:

Onion or Garlic Cough Syrup: Fill a glass jar ½ full with peeled and chopped garlic or onion. Poor warmed honey over the garlic or onion and put the lid on. In the morning, strain out the garlic or onion (you may need to liquefy the honey again). To use: hold the honey in the mouth and let it slowly trickle down the throat. For a child take 1 tsp as needed; for adults use 2-3 tsp. This honey must be used up within a week.

Garlic and Honey Cough Syrup: Peel and mince 6-8 cloves of garlic. Add to 1 cup of raw honey and let stand for at least 2 hours. Take a tsp of the syrup and garlic bits when cough acts up. This honey must be used up within a week.

Lemon and Honey Fever and Cough Syrup: Roast one to many big, juicy lemons on a pan at 350F until they split open. Squeeze out the lemon juice and add ½ the amount of raw honey and blend well. Take 1-2 tsp every ½ hour until the cough is under control. Lemons have long been used to control minor and major fever attacks. Lemon is a refrigerant (cooling). It is useful in all inflammatory and feverish conditions. Use up the syrup within a week.

Garlic Cough Syrup: This syrup is expectorant and is very useful for relieving spasmodic coughs and lung congestion.

Mince 90g of fresh Garlic. Add to 250mls of raw apple cider vinegar. Macerate for 4 days, shaking often. Strain and press. Add 500g of liquefied raw honey. Shake vigorously until well blended. Bottle in small dark bottles and store in the fridge.

White Pine Bark Cough Syrup: The dried inner bark of white pine is expectorant and diuretic and is used for coughs and congestion. Put ½ cup of coarsely ground bark in a jar and cover with 2/3 cup boiling water. When cool, add ½ cup whisky, seal the jar, and let it soak overnight – shake the jar occasionally. The next day, strain it, and to the liquid add 1 cup honey. Shake until homogenous. Transfer to a sterilized amber round bottle. Dose: 1 tbsp for adults and 1 tsp for children as needed.

Tincture and Honey Cough Syrup:

To make a quick and easy cough syrup combine 1 part herbal tincture to 3 parts raw honey. Liquefy the honey by placing the jar in hot water, stir in the tincture. Bottle in dark sterilized bottles. The adult dose is 1 tsp as needed; for a child use ¼ to 1/3 tsp.

Herbal tinctures to Use for Coughs/Lung Congestion: Use one or a combination of any of the following herbs as a tincture to make up a simple cough syrup depending on your cold/flu symptoms:

Stimulating Expectorant: elecampane, white horehound, white pine needles

Relaxing Expectorant: comfrey leaf, coltsfoot, hyssop, licorice, milkweed root, mullein

Anti-spasmodics:  aniseed, garlic, hyssop, onion, mullein, thyme, wild cherry bark

Anti-catarrhal: coltsfoot, echinacea, garlic, hyssop, mullein, onion

Anti-microbials: aniseed, echinacea, elecampane, garlic, onion, thyme, white pine needles

Anti-inflammatories: aniseed, coltsfoot, hyssop, licorice,

Demulcents: comfrey leaf, coltsfoot, mullein, licorice

Immune Stimulant: Echinacea, elder flower, elecampane, garlic, ginger, plantain