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.

Thursday
Apr192012

Harvesting Season Has Begun...Already!

It's always a jolt for the wildcrafter out of the torpor of winter into the harvesting season starting in spring. At this time of year, everyday there is someone new to see returning after the sleepy winter months. Already there are many herbs ready for harvesting. From now until the snow falls, there's no rest for the weary wildcrafter! Here are a few of the herbs ready to be harvested now in my neck of the woods:

Dandelion flowers (Taraxacum officinale) - just the flowers are collected at this time. The leaves are harvested in the summer, after the flower stalk has died back and the roots in the fall.

Common Blue Violet (Viola sororia) - the leaves and flowers are collected in the ratio of 2-3 flowers to one leaf.

Periwinkle (Vinca minor - pictured here) - both leaf and flower are collected.

Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata) - the top 25 - 30% of the aerial parts are collected.

Wild Leek (Allium tricoccum) - the whole leaf is used, but not the bulb for conservation reasons.

Coltfoot flowers (Tussilago farfara) - we're at the end of the harvesting time for these, but you may still find them in a spot that doesn't receive full sun all day long.

Ground Ivy (Glecoma hederacea) - the top 50% of the aerial parts are collected.

Stellaria media (Chickweed) - the whole plant above ground is collected.

Trout Lily (Erythronium americanum) - for this plant you harvest two flowers to one leaf.

 

Saturday
Mar312012

Healthy Dressing or Butter Substitute

This is a delicious blend I’ve been making for years. Depending on how thick or thin I make it, I use it as a dressing for salads, steamed veggies, pasta, etc. or as a spread for bread or toast on its own or in a sandwich. It’s savoury, so I don’t use it with sweet things like jams, or with nut butters, etc. For those kinds of things I just use straight coconut oil.

The basics:

Any kind of cold-pressed, organic oil such as flax, hemp, olive, coconut, etc.

Garlic – either powdered or fresh minced

Tamari

Nutritional yeast

Other possible ingredients:

Kelp powder – this gives the dressing a thicker texture and is a yummy way of getting iodine.

Cayenne pepper

Black pepper

Mustard – either prepared or dry

Tahini

Humus

Italian spices – rosemary, oregano, thyme, sage, basil – fresh or dried

Honey

Maple syrup

Vinegar – any kind.

Sundried tomatoes  

Whatever you can think of!

Specific amounts of the various ingredients isn't really that important – just blend them to taste. If you like lots of garlic, then add lots; if you like it thicker, add more nutritional yeast and kelp; if you like spicy, add more cayenne; etc.

This is the blend I make most often as a dressing:

1 tbsp flax oil

1 tbsp olive oil

½ tsp garlic powder

½ tsp kelp powder

1 tbsp nutritional yeast

pinch of cayenne pepper

1 tsp Tamari

It is so easy to whip this up. Especially if using dried garlic and spices, you can put this together in about a minute and have a very healthy, nutritious, delicious spread or dressing. It’s a good way to eat your omega 3, 6, and 9 oils without having to take them straight or in gelatin capsules. You can make up a bigger amount and keep it handy in the fridge. Be sure not to heat this dressing as it destroys the fragile oils. It’s fine to add it to hot foods after they’ve been cooked though.

Be sure to keep track of your recipes if you create something you absolutely love and want to repeat!

Thursday
Feb232012

The Health Benefits of Bare Feet and Being 'Grounded'

A study called Earthing: Health Implications of Reconnecting the Human Body to the Earth's Surface Electrons which came out in the Journal of Environmental and Public Health in January brings to light the important health benefits of walking barefoot on the Earth or being 'grounded' to the Earth, otherwise known as 'earthing'. In the conclusion of the article, the authors state:

"Emerging evidence shows that contact with the Earth—whether being outside barefoot or indoors connected to grounded conductive systems—may be a simple, natural, and yet profoundly effective environmental strategy against chronic stress, ANS dysfunction, inflammation, pain, poor sleep, disturbed HRV, hypercoagulable blood, and many common health disorders, including cardiovascular disease."

I've always loved being barefoot. As a kid, I don't think I ever put shoes on in the warmer months unless I was forced. Remember how tough your feet would get? Even as an adult, I still walk barefoot as much as possible and can spend a whole week camping barefoot.

There is a barefoot revolution going on out there. Tom Kutscher, the co-ordinator of the 'Barefoot Hikers and Grass Walkers of Greater Kansas City', has written an article with 125 reasons to go barefoot.

While walking barefoot in areas where you could injure your feet, such as a forest, it's important to 'fox walk' - a way of walking that prevents injury and allows you to walk quietly in nature. Here's a short video on the techniques of fox walking by Ryan Salmon to get you started. 

So this summer find yourself a patch of earth somewhere and free your feet for some profound physical and spiritual healing!

Saturday
Feb042012

Toronto Standard's film 'Made in Toronto' - Herbalist