Follow by Email

Monday, February 14, 2011

2010 Back to Basics Presentation: COMFREY Top Ten Herbals for Wellness

                                                                Symphytum officinale

Also known as Knitbone, Knitback, Consound, Blackwort, Bruisewort, Slippery Root, Boneset, Yalluc (Saxon), Gum Plant, Consolida, Ass Ear. 
This is one of my favorite herbs to grow. As the picture shows, it needs be kept contained or it will literally take over an area. I let my plant flower as I wanted to make Flower Essences.

Description: Comfrey is an herbaceous perennial. The large, hairy, lance-shaped leaves grow in clusters about 12 inches high. It sends up a central stem, which can reach three feet in height. The bell shaped flowers appear in clusters on this stem shortly before midsummer. The flowers of wild Comfrey vary in color, but are most often yellow. Prickly Comfrey may have blue or pink flowers, and Quaker Comfrey has purplish flowers. The root is black on the outside, white on the inside and tuberous, shaped like a turnip.

Propagation: A cultivated herb that prefers full sun, but might need some shade if you live in a very hot place. Soil should be rich, but it's not picky. It appreciates a bit of fertilizer once in awhile. It is most often propagated by root cuttings. It can become invasive if not kept contained. Comfrey likes it moist, so water regularly if it does not rain. Flowering stems should be removed in the first year, so that the plant's energy is focused on a sturdy root and leaf system After that, you can let the plant flower. Growth continues while the plant is in flower. 

Constituents: A great source of protein, potassium, calcium, and vitamins A, B12, and C. Most important is mucilage and Allantoin with a little tannin. (While Comfrey has finally gained some acceptance from the “official” medical community, there is also a quite a bit of fear surrounding the consumption. Recently, the FDA banned Comfrey from all commercially produced herbal supplements. Bear in mind that the FDA decided to ban the plant only after injecting unnaturally large amounts of the plant's inherent alkaloids into animal test subjects, which then died of liver failure, just as they would have had the alkaloids been extracted from a carrot, concentrated, and injected into their bloodstreams.) The highest percentage of the alkaloids are found in the root.

Harvesting and Preserving: The more you harvest this plant, the more it will grow. It should be harvested from early May and throughout the summer. Harvest before it blooms, for the greatest potency. Collect the leaves in the morning and immediately dry in a dehydrator as they break down easily. Dry at temperatures of 90 degrees or lower. Infuse leaves with oil and then keep refrigerated. Prepare a tincture/extract of the leaves with vodka, and bottle in colored glass. When collecting flowers for essence, do not touch but instead cut with scissors into a glass bowl. Use spring water to sun infuse for at least three hours. Preserve in dark glass with equal amounts of vodka or brandy.

 Wellness Properties and Modalities: Containing allantoin, which is found in the milk of nursing mothers, it encourages cell reproduction and thus stimulates healing and regeneration. No better ally can be found for the woman with thin bones. Contains special proteins used in the formation of short-term memory cells. Its soothing mucilage adds flexibility to joints, eyes, vagina, and lungs. This is another herbal that Susun Weed promotes for Menopausal Womyn's Infused Wellness Herbals.

 Infused Tea: A gentle remedy in cases of diarrhea and dysentery. Infused leaves are said to help speed the healing of broken bones and other internal injuries. Use as a soothing addition to baths. The root is used for persistent, painful coughs as well as hemorrhage and ulcers.                                                                                                                                                                         
Infused Oils: Add to salves for burns, acne, bruising, abrasions and other topical complaints. Add when making lotion to smooth and reduce wrinkles in the skin.                                                                                                                                                                        
Poultices: Use fresh leaves for sprains, swellings, bruises, severe cuts, boils, abscesses, and ulcers. The whole plant, is excellent for soothing pain and is useful in any kind of inflammatory swelling.                                                              

 Flower Essence: Telepathy/Yoga This elixir is a powerful tonic for the nervous system. It can enhance telepathic abilities and other seldom used parts of the brain. It is also useful for athletes and yoga practitioners for it may increase physical coordination. Deep healing, encourages feeling emotionally and physically safe.

Folk Lore: Saxons referred to the plant as “Yulluc” and utilized it in travel magic. Comfrey was apparently also given to bards and minstrels to protect them in their wanderings.

Cautions:  Do not use while pregnant or nursing. Never us Comfrey for very deep or puncture wounds, because it can actually make the surface heal faster than the lower part of the wound, causing abscesses. Make sure a wound has been thoroughly cleaned before applying Comfrey, so as not to seal dirt inside the wound. Comfrey should not be used internally or externally for longer than four to six consecutive weeks.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

2010 Back to Basics Presentation: NETTLE Top Ten Herbals for Wellness

After the Back To Basics presentation that I gave on "Top Ten...slash....Fourteen Herbals and Botanicals For Wellness" I decided I would post each of the botanicals and their information on this blog. I had compiled all the information from numerous resources which I'll share. Any time you see italics, those are an indication of a personal note and experience from myself.

                                                             "NETTLE Urtica dioica"

Also known as; Bichu, Common Nettle, Grande Ortie, Great Stinging Nettle, Nettle, Nettle Leaf, Nettle Seed, Nettles, Ortie.
Here in Minnesota the Nettle will be popping up in early May...well, maybe even April sometime. I always start picking the new plants as soon as they are about 3-5" and continue to harvest through out the summer.

Description: Stinging nettle is found and wild crafted in nitrogen-rich soil. It blooms between June and September, and usually reaches 2 - 4 feet high. Stems are upright and rigid. The leaves are heart-shaped, finely toothed, and tapered at the ends, and flowers are yellow or pink. The entire plant is covered with tiny stiff hairs, mostly on the underside of the leaves and stem, that release stinging chemicals when touched.
Cultivation: Widely distributed as a weed. You can take cuttings or seeds from naturalized stands and plant them.
Constituents: Nettles are rich in iron, silicon, and potassium. They are very high in vitamins A, K and C. When dried, nettles are 40% protein.
Harvesting and Preservation: Best when gathered early in the season. Harvest all of the young plant, up to six inches tall. When picking older plants, use only the young, tender leaves. Nettles may be cut back to obtain a second harvest. NETTLES STING - USE GLOVES WHEN PICKING AND HANDLING THE FRESH PLANT. The volatile component is neutralized by heat (cooking or drying). Dry nettles at a low temperature. For even drying, separate leaves and stems.  Prime nettle season is short, 1 to 2 months. The sting may be relieved by rubbing the skin affected with Rosemary, Mint or Sage leaves. Prepare Extract/tincture with fresh, clean leaves in Vodka. Bottle in dark glass.
Culinary Uses: Add young fresh leaves that have been simmered to soups, stews. Use in quiche in place of spinach.
Medicinal Properties and Modalities: Stinging nettle has been used for hundreds of years. They have beneficial influence on various body systems including the lungs, kidneys, skin, and blood. It is used to treat painful muscles and joints, eczema, arthritis, gout, and anemia. Use it to treat urinary problems during the early stages of an enlarged prostate, for urinary tract infections, for hay fever, asthma, seasonal allergies, and hives. Recognized for its ability to stop bleeding, relieve mucous congestion and water retention, and improve skin irritations. Beneficial during pregnancy due to its rich mineral value and vitamin K, which guards against excessive bleeding.  It is used during labor to ease the pains, and will increase milk production in lactating women. Often recommended for pre-menstrual syndrome because of its toxin-ridding activity. It acts as a restorative remedy during menopause, and the astringency of the herb helps in excessive menstrual flow.
Dried Leaves: Stops nose bleeding.                                                      
Infusion: As a gargle, it is useful for mouth and throat infections. Nettle tea is an excellent nourishing herbal. Susun Weed has included Nettle as one of the main nourishing herbals for women's health. An infusion (below for instructions) of nettle builds energy, strengthens the adrenals and is said to restore youthful flexibility to blood vessels. A cup of nettle infusion contains 500 milligrams of calcium plus generous amounts of bone-building magnesium, potassium, silicon, boron, and zinc. An excellent source of Vit. A, D, E, and K, for flexible bones, a healthy heart, thick hair, beautiful skin, and lots of energy.                                    
Compress: The tea is said to help relieve acne and eczema.                   
Tincture/Extract: An excellent blood purifier. Preventative therapy for Gout and Urinary Tract Infections, Allergies, Asthma and Hay Fever.                                                
Creams/Salves: For treating joint pain, sprains and strains, tendonitis, and insect bites.                                                                                                   
Other Uses: Dried nettles have also been widely used for farm animals. Added to chicken feed, they will increase egg production. Used as fodder for cows, they will increase milk production. Nettles produces a healthier, glossier coat.
Folk Lore: Nettles in a pocket will keep a person safe from lightning and bestow courage. Kept in a room it will protect anyone inside (common knowledge of huge amounts of nutrients, making them a powerful plant in that sense).  Nettles are reputed to enhance fertility in men, and fever could be dispelled by plucking a nettle up by its roots while reciting the names of the sick man and his family. Arthritic joints were sometimes treated by whipping the joint with a branch of stinging nettles. The theory was that it stimulated the adrenal therefore reducing the swelling and pain in the joint. A 2000 controlled study supports the effectiveness of this treatment.

Nettle Pie (Quiche)
Pie crust
1 cup flour
1/3 cup plus 1 T. cold butter                                                          1/4 t. salt
2 T. cold water
Cut the butter into the flour and salt until the butter is well distributed and mixture is crumbly. I use a pastry cutter to start and then my fingers to finish the job. Add cold water and mix with your hands just until the pie crust holds together. Place on a floured surface and roll out the crust. Place into pie pan.
To the crust add in order:
1 cup shredded cheese of your choice (I use a combo of parmesan, cheddar and mozzarella).
1/3 cup chopped onions and garlic sauteed in either olive oil or butter
about 2 -3 cups chopped, fresh (or simmered and chopped) nettles
Beat together, then add to crust:
4eggs                                                                                                                                                           1 cup milk (goat milk)
1/4 t. dry mustard
Bake in a 375 degree oven for 40-45 minutes. Enjoy the best quiche you have ever eaten!

Nettle Pudding
To 1 gallon of young Nettle tops, thoroughly washed, add 2 good-sized leeks or onions, 2 heads of broccoli or small cabbage, or Brussels sprouts, and 1/4 lb. of rice. Clean the vegetables well; chop the broccoli and leeks and mix with the Nettles. Place all together in a muslin bag, alternately with the rice, and tie tightly. Boil in salted water, long enough to cook the vegetables, the time varying according to the tenderness or other vise of the greens. Serve with gravy or melted butter. These quantities are sufficient for six persons.
Pepys refers to Nettle pudding in his Diary, February, 1661: 'We did eat some Nettle porridge, which was very good.'
Nettle Beer
The Nettle Beer made by cottagers is often given to their old folk as a remedy for gouty and rheumatic pains, but apart from this purpose it forms a pleasant drink. It may be made as follows:

Take 2 gallons of cold water and a good pailful of washed young Nettle tops, add 3 or 4 large hands-ful of Dandelion, the same of Clivers (Goosegrass) and 2 OZ. of bruised, whole ginger. Boil gently for 40 minutes, then strain and stir in 2 teacupsful of brown sugar. When lukewarm place on the top a slice of toasted bread, spread with 1 OZ. of compressed yeast, stirred till liquid with a teaspoonful of sugar. Keep it fairly warm for 6 or 7 hours, then remove the scum and stir in a tablespoonful of cream of tartar. Bottle and tie the corks securely. The result is a specially wholesome sort of ginger beer. The juice of 2 lemons may be substituted for the Dandelion and Clivers (known today as Cleavers). Other herbs are often added to Nettles in the making of Herb Beer, such as Burdock, Meadowsweet, Avens Horehound, the combination making a refreshing summer drink.

Nourishing Herbal Infusions: Vibrant elder years and an easier menopause! They provide protein, minerals phytoestrogens, and special fats needed by menopausal women. Many common menopausal problems can be connected to a lack of one or more of these nutrients.
To make a nourishing herbal infusion: Use a least one ounce of dry nettle leaf. Place the ounce of dried leaf in a quart jar. (Once ounce equals one full cup of dried herb.) Fill the jar to the top with boiling water. Cap tightly and allow to brew for at least four hours. Overnight is fine. Strain and drink 2-4 cups a day. Most menopausal women prefer their infusion iced, but hot or room temperature is fine. A little mint or sage may be added to change the flavor. Honey may be desired as well. Keep the infused tea in the refrigerator to store.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

2010 Back To Basics in Pine River

Saturday, January 29th, 2010 Happy Dancing Turtle hosted another "Back To Basics" Event. I had been a presenter or a vendor for 4 years running. The Workshop I offered was "Top Ten Herbals & Botanicals for Wellness". Unfortunately I couldn't pick just ten and had fourteen to talk about!
The class was filled and well received. My only wish was that I had chosen a double session, as the single session of 45 minutes was not long enough at all! I briefed through which was a shame. Sooo many herbs, so little time!

I set up stations for everyone to look over. For each herb, I provided an informational sheet, a dried herb sample in a jar and product made from the herb. Most stations consisted of a tincture/extract and an infused oil.
 I handed out informational sheets for Nettle and Wild Rose/Rosehip as well as a recipe sheet.
Included were informational sheets on "Body Dowsing", "A 12th Century Herbalist Invocation", A list of resources from the web and books, "Herbal Procedures and Preparations".
Here are the Top 14 Herbal and Botanicals for Wellness!
Nettle (wild crafted), Wild Rose & Rosehips (wild crafted, but of course you may use cultivated rose), Elder (cultivated), Plantain (wild crafted), Calendula (cultivated), Borage (cultivated), St. Johns Wort (cultivated), Chamomile (cultivated) & Pineapple Weed (wild crafted), Yarrow (wild crafted), Catnip (cultivated, but I've found it escaped and growing "in the wild" like along a sidewalk!), Red Clover (cultivated & wild crafted), Comfrey (cultivated), Jewelweed (wild crafted),

Everyone seemed to enjoy the procedure of self-testing by "Energy Scanning" and also known as "Body Dowsing:". The website that I used for the hand out sheet is from Heron Herbals.
Barbara is known throughout the herbal community as the guru of self-testing. Here is her website, "Lady Barbara's Garden".
I saw many familiar faces from the years before who had taken my workshops and many new who were just exploring into the herbal world.