Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Nothing Like Some Warming Soup on a Cool, Rainy Day.....

Coconut Sweet Potato Soup

sweet potatoes
can of coconut milk
liquid aminos (or soy sauce)

Bake sweet potatoes in oven at 450 until tender
Make a broth by boiling onions and garlic in a few cups of water with a splash of liquid aminos until tender
Add all ingredients to a blender, with seasonings to taste
Blend until smooth and enjoy!
Recipe also works well with carrots.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

My Experiential Paper on Chaparral

Since this is an "experiential" blog, I would like to share with you all my personal experiential materia medica paper for herbalism class. Enjoy!

Rory Wilson

Experiential  Materia Medica

Latin name, family: Larrea tridentata, Zygophyllaceae

Common name: Chaparral, Creosote Bush

Taste: bitter, pungent

Delivery systems: I have found that using a hot or cold infusion of Larrea leaves me with a clean, cool, tingling feeling. As it moves through my body, I can feel it detoxifying, sweeping through my organs like a broom and collecting the debris. The tincture I have only used externally, with the same effects. It has cooled and healed many of my inflammatory skin problems, including a mysterious rash that appeared on my face, cold sores, and acne. I also found that it slightly relieves the discomfort of bug bites.

Description:  To me, this plant is the one that aesthetically sticks out of the dessert landscape wherever I go. It almost glows, seemingly boasting its amazing healing powers. The shape is what most people would see when they pictured a bush. Its branches are thin, but surprisingly tough to break. The leaves of this plant are what I deem it’s most beautiful feature. They are small, tremendously green, little beads of resinous glory. Their sticky coating makes them shine in the sun, thus giving this plant its glowing effect. On the ends of some of the branches are tiny buds, and on some, precious little yellow flowers.

Actions:  Alterative, antitumor antifungal, antimicrobial, and laxative. In my experiences, I have felt the cleansing and detoxifying powers of this plant. I have used the tea a few times to disperse the effects of a hangover. I also have seen the externally healing power in clearing up my acne, inflamed rashes, bug bites, and cold sores.

Effects on body energy:  I have not used the tea extensively enough to greatly comment on the long term effects on my body. The powerfulness tells me that it is not something I should be taking regularly or long term. When I do occasionally drink the infusion, I immediately notice a cooling effect, and also a sense of well being physically. I feel that the energy goes to my kidneys and liver, with also a little bit of disruption to my normal digestive flow. It feels like a pushing energy, almost like its expelling any unwanted material within me.

Current clinical uses: Used to cleanse the body after chronic chemical poisoning, clears chronic mucus congestion from people working around chemicals, treats anemia associated with impure blood, clears parasites in the bowels, eases chronic indigestion, cramps, and nausea, dissolves calcareous deposits, treats ongoing kidney and bladder infections, helps clear skin fungus, athlete’s foot, nail fungus, skin mites, ringworm, scabies, chiggers, herpes simplex, shingles, poison ivy, insect and snake bites, inflamed splinters, impetigo, staph infections, acne, blackhead, whiteheads, liver spots, psoriasis, and eczema, soothes arthritis, prevention of cancer from radiation exposure, reduction of tumor growth especially abnormal cervical tissue growth and cancer in females.

Biochemistry and mechanism of action: The major active constituent in chaparral is nordihydroguaiaretic acid (NDGA), a lignan that has potent antioxidant and anticancer effects. Lignans have been show to have antitumor and antiviral actions, and this may explain the overall cancer risk reduction that is seen in the use of this plant.  It is active against human papillomavirus, herpes simplex virus, and human immunodeficiency virus. It also displays hyperglycaemic, antioxidant, and oestrogenic activity and decreases progesterone production.

Safety factors: Using this plant in excess can be strenuous to the liver and cause symptoms of hepatitis. NDGA inhibits certain enzymes in the liver, possibly encouraging production of pro-inflammatory mediators and potentiating hepatoxicity.  If improperly used eternally, it has been seen to cause contact dermatitis. Although studies have warned of this plants potential toxicity, it seems that with the correct dosage, these side effects can be avoided.

Herbs to pair with:
Red clover: blood cleanser
Milk thistle: Liver protecting
Peppermint: liver and gall bladder support
Dandelion leaf: kidney support
Dandelion root: liver support
Tea tree oil (topically): antiviral, antifungal, antimicrobial

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Weed That Feeds

Taraxacum officinale

Growing up in New Jersey, I was constantly surrounded by yards and fields full of these little yellow flowers from a plant commonly known as dandelion.They were everywhere, and easily took over any space they inhabited. Considered by most to be an invasive weed, many people pulled them up or sprayed weed killer to keep this ambitious plant in check. As a child, I remember picking bundles full of the flowers, placing them in my hair, and I believe a few times chewing on them a bit out of curiosity. Little did I know the  medicinal power that lies within these versatile plants.  

The leaves have a bitter taste, similar to arugula or mustard greens, and are a pleasant and nutritious addition to salads. The flowers are also edible, and can brighten up any salad or dish, or be used to make dandelion wine (a task which I plan to take on once I move to Colorado where dandelions are abundant). The leaves can also be dried and made into a nutritive tea. Dandelion leaves are high in vitamins and minerals, particularly vitamin A, B complex, C, D, iron, potassium, and zinc. The roots can be dried, roasted, and made into a tea that closely resembles the flavor of coffee. My favorite herbal coffee recipe is:

Equal parts:
roasted dandelion root
roasted chicory root
raw cacao powder
Grind well, use 1 Tbsp per cup of hot water. Nutritious and delicious!

Dandelion roots have traditionally been used to treat live problems. They can purify the blood and stimulate the production of bile. This action rids the liver and gallbladder of toxins and congestion. It is a sight to see, when my "herbie" friends and I meet at a local brewery for a gathering, before taking a sip of our first beer, most of us pull out a dandelion tincture from our pockets and pass it around. Taking a little dandelion before partaking in your favorite cocktail helps the body rid itself of toxins quicker and more efficiently, thus easing the effects of a hangover! Put that in your "good to know" file for later.

So next time you see those little yellow flowers poking through the grass in your yard or garden, smile and take advantage of her loving and bountiful gifts! Happy spring everyone!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Harvest Time!

Spent some time in the Medicine Garden at the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine today. Got re-acquainted with some dear friends.....
Gotu Kola, Centella asiatica- Great cerebral tonic improving memory and focus, calms anxiety, and increases circulation.
Ashwagandha, Withania somnifera-Great adaptogenic herb, helping the body cope with stress. This is a friend that is currently part of my daily regimen. It has many talents such as reducing inflammation, decreasing stress, boosts the immune system, increasing metal activity, and promoting overall wellness and balance.
Cleavers, Galium aparine- Excellent lymphatic tonic, helping the body rid itself of toxins through its diuretic action. Aids in the detoxification of tissues and the immune system.
Chickweed, Stellaria media- A very nutritious plant, high in vitamins and minerals. Has a taste very similar spinach and can be cooked or added to a salad. Applied externally it can soothe minor skin irritations such as cuts, burns, eczema, and rashes. Drink as a tea for a mild diuretic.

Friday, April 8, 2011

New and Improved Hair Nourishing Vinegar!

After I did my normal once a month henna hair treatment last week, I was reminded how great henna made my hair look and feel. Not just the color, but the texture, thickness, and shine! So, I came up with a way to make henna part of my regular hair care routine without dealing with the mess.

Introducing Henna and Rosemary Infused Apple Cider Vinegar!

Here's whatcha need:
1 muslin bag
soup pot
stainless steel bowl
2-3 ozs of henna (whatever color you like, I use red)
1 32 ozs. bottle of Bragg's Apple Cider Vinegar
1 handful of an herb of your choice to compliment your hair color or needs.
I used fresh rosemary because it's good for rich, dark hair tones, adds luster and body, and smells great to!

Here is a short list to give you some ideas:
Burdock: helps prevent dandruff
Chamomile: softens hair, good for light golden tones
Lavender: stimulates hair growth, degreases
Calendula: lightens hair color
Sage: tonic and conditioning, darkens the hair
Nettles: tonic and conditioning, prevents dandruff
Witch Hazel: astringent, cleanses oily hair

I choose to do the double boiler method to infuse the vinegar. Use a large stainless steel soup pot and a stainless steel bowl that fits over the pot, like so:
Fill the pot up with a couple of inches of water. Warm on high heat until hot, but it doesn't have to be boiling.
Place ingredients in the bowl, mix well,  and place on top of the pot.
Bring heat to low, cover and let sit a least for a couple of hours, but longer if you have the time.
Stir occasionally.
When your done infusing, place the funnel into the vinegar bottle and place the muslin bag into the funnel, like so:
Slowly pour vinegar through the muslin bag, being sure to squeeze out all the liquid (rubber gloves are a good idea) and there is your very own herbal hair goodness!
I have been using it the same as the vinegar treatment I mentioned before, 1 Tbsp. in 2 cups of water, work thought hair, let sit a few minutes, and rinse. My hair is feeling fuller and healthier already! Enjoy:)