My sister- in- law traveled to Sri Lanka back in December. She brought us fresh nutmeg picked right from the tree where they were staying and fresh tea from the rainforest. She told stories of the spices that grew everywhere – Cinnamon sticks the length of broom handles, blooming cardamom, cloves, curry leaves, turmeric, tamarind, coriander and peppercorns of red, green and black hanging from the vine. What a vision!
Then I received a wonderful book called Healing Spices by Bharat B. Aggarwal with Debora Yost . I learned that a number of plants are considered to be both an herb and a spice.
All of this recent, interesting, spice knowledge has encouraged me to share some of these herbs/spices on the list below. There is literally a world of exciting information to learn. Here are some fun and unusual facts to peak your interest:
Did you know….?
Basil can be frozen fresh in olive oil and used later in recipes.
Bay Leaf keeps bugs out of flour and other dry goods.
Celery -The stub of organic celery can be planted and it will grow another plant.
Curry Leaf is said to improve memory loss.
Garlic- During the Middle Ages it was hung on a door at night to repel evil spirits.
Horseradish was the International Herb Society Herb of the year in 2012
Juniper Berries – you only pick the blue berries when gathered in the fall.
Lemongrass is used in Brazilian folk medicine to reduce anxiety.
Marjoram Wreaths are ancient symbols of love and joy.
Mint is one of the most popular and recognizable flavors in the world..
Onions, if cut in half and placed in a bowl, will absorb germs and viruses.
Oregano –There are Mexican, Greek & Turkish varieties that are easy to grow.
Parsley, if dried, has a richer aroma if you steep it in hot water before using.
Rosemary – Studies show that it’s smell can enhance memory functions.
Sage made into tea can calm you down and improve your mood.
Thyme –There are more than 100 varieties.
Turmeric – Marco Polo discovered it in China in 1280.
I have collected this information from the above mentioned source and also from Tom Tracey at Swan Valley Herbs School of Natural Healing in Bigfork MT.
Computers seem to have a mind of their own sometimes. Finally, we have it all cleaned up and ready to start again..If you wrote a comment- it was erased in the clean up. Sorry ..
Stay tuned – more good information is coming soon.
This is such good advice that I just copied it. Thank you Jessica Smith from the Huffington Post. Sandy
1. Tap Your Thymus
“Your thymus is located at center top of your chest, below the collar bone, between your breasts. When tapped it triggers the production of T-cells, boosts energy, relieves stress, and increases strength and vitality,” says Marian Buck-Murray, a nutrition coach and Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) practitioner in Maplewood, New Jersey.
For an instant boost of energy, Buck-Murray recommends tapping your thymus with your fingertips for 20 seconds, while slowly and deeply breathing in and out.
2. Get Some Sun
It’s not surprising you feel tired when you’re stuck inside a cold or stuffy office with fluorescent lighting. Sneak outside to soak up some sunshine for 15 to 20 minutes.
“Sunlight energizes and elevates mood,” says Dr. Lorraine Maita, a board certified internist and author of Vibrance for Life: How to Live Younger and Healthier in Short Hills, New Jersey.
3. Sip Some Green Tea
If coffee is your go-to solution for the afternoon slump, try swapping out your cup of Joe for green tea. “Green tea has small amounts of caffeine, and there are many noted studies that demonstrate that EGCG, the active compound in green tea, facilitates weight loss,” says Dr. Elizabeth Trattner, who specializes in integrative medicine in Miami Beach, Florida.
4. Stand Up
Are you reading this slumped over your computer, feeling tired at the moment? Perk up by standing up, says Moshe Lewis M.D., chief of the department of physical medicine and rehab at the California Pacific Medical Center, St. Luke’s Campus, in Redwood City, California.
“Never sit too long. Vessels have a natural tendency to constrict during periods of inactivity, zapping you of energy and making you feel tired — even if you are not sleep deprived.”
Standing up and walking around even just for a few minutes is enough to jump start your heart and muscles. Plus, it can help you be more productive once you sit down at your desk again, Dr. Lewis says.
5. Give Your Brain A Mini-Vacation
Next time you’re fighting off the urge to doze off at your desk, try blinking more often, suggests Dr. Douglas N. Graham, author of The 80/10/10 Diet. “When reading, watching television, viewing the computer, or otherwise engaged, blink 10 to 20 times per minute, rather than staring at the screen or page without blinking at all. Your brain takes a mini-vacation with each blink.”
6. Drink A Green Monster
Think you can’t live without your morning coffee? Trade it for this nutrient-packed drink once and you’ll change your mind. “I usually have [this] for breakfast and then don’t need to have coffee,” says Joanna Chodorowska, a nutrition and triathlon coach in North Whales, Pennsylvania.
Here’s how to make it: In a juicer, combine 2-4 leaves of kale, 2-4 leaves of romaine lettuce, 1 inch ginger root, half a lemon (with the seeds removed), one apple (cored), and a clove of garlic (optional for cleansing and boosting immune system).
Chodorowska says you can use this as a base and add other dark greens, carrots, celery, beets, or even an orange or pear instead of the apple to make your own signature energy drink.
Don’t have a juicer? This creamy blend is just as effective at boosting energy (and tastes like an indulgent dessert!) and only requires a blender.
7. Socialize With High-Energy Friends
Surround yourself with people who help motivate and uplift you to revitalize your body and mind. “Associate with high-energy friends. Their energy and enthusiasm will soon enough rub off on you,” Dr. Graham says.
8. Breathe Deeply
“Learning how to inhale completely and how to exhale completely is one of the best energizers,” says Dr. Laurel Clark, president of the School of Metaphysics in Windyville, Missouri.
Next time you need a quick pick-me-up, try this simple exercise from Dr. Clark: Sit with your spine straight, eyes closed. Focus your attention on your breath, and slowly inhale to a count of 6. Hold your breath to a count of 3 and tense all of the muscles in your body. Exhale for a count of 6, completely releasing all of the breath, relaxing the muscles as you do so. Hold the breath out to a count of 3. Repeat this slow rhythmic count–inhaling, hold and tense, exhaling and relax, hold the breath out.
“After a while, you can cease tensing and relaxing the muscles and just focus on the slow rhythmic breath,” Dr. Clark says.
9. Sit Up Straight
“Shifting your posture can immediately give you more energy,” says Dana Davis, a certified yoga teacher and Balance Posture Method instructor at Sonoma Body Balance, in Petaluma, California. We typically sit or stand with our shoulders, neck, and head shifted forward, which can affect the arteries that bring blood to our brain, Davis says.
“When [the arteries] are bent out of shape, that can restrict the blood flow to the brain. Our misaligned posture also wastes a lot of energy, as the muscles have to take over work that the bones would normally do in a healthy person.”
Davis recommends a healthy, naturally aligned posture to help reduce long-term fatigue and stress. For help finding the most energizing posture.
10. Eat An Apple
It’s tempting to turn to sugar (hello, chocolate!) when your energy dips, but eating high-sugar foods will make your fatigue worse in the long run. Make a habit of keeping apples on hand–at home and at work.
“A simple apple is a great energy-boosting, mid-afternoon snack. Full of vitamin C, fiber, and complex carbohydrates, an apple can deliver a boost of energy and stabilize blood sugar,” says Peggy Kotsopoulos, a registered holistic nutritionist and author of Must Have Been Something I Ate.
What’s more, new research from Florida State University says apple antioxidants and pectin (the sticky part of fruit used to make all-fruit jams and jellies) can help lower “bad” LDL cholesterol (think L is for lousy) and fight inflammation, a known trigger of premature aging and disease.
11. Drink Some Water
“The most common cause of fatigue is dehydration,” Kotsopoulos says. Why? “If there is not enough fluid in your body, blood volume can drop; as a result, your body (and heart) must work harder in order to supply your cells with oxygen and nutrients.”
Dehydration can cause everything from mental fogginess, impaired short-term memory, dizziness, and fatigue, she says. Be sure to hydrate all day long but especially when you start to feel fatigue coming on to help combat low energy.
Well, here it is the end of the summer. For those of you who don’t know – I broke my ankle back in June and that kinda blew the summer …My husband, had to take over the garden, watering it everyday! Harvesting what needed to be harvested, etc. Without his help, I would hate to see what would have happened. As far as wild crafting - he also did that – I sat in the van and watched. Instead of spending happy days in the fields and forests, we just drove to where we knew we could find what we needed and he picked. I was able to infuse oils to make our salves later.
So now that I am “back” – I hope you will continue to follow along with me as I share what I have learned about herbs.
THE NOBLE MULLEIN
We have a huge Mullein that decided to plant itself in our flowerbed. Although it takes up a large space, we have nourished it along and are eager to collect its useful bounties. Friends see it and say “you know that’s a weed” or “I thought that was a bad weed” and we tell them yes, it is, and it is a medicinal plant that we are happy to have just outside the door.
Mullein (Verbascum thapsas)
Common Names: Great or Common Mullein, Candlewick, Velvet Leaf, Flannel Plant, Quaker Rouge, Indian Tobacco, Aaron’s Rod, Jacob’s Staff, Torch Wort, Shepherds Club…and many more.
Mullein can be found almost anywhere. Once you recognize it, you will see it everywhere. It grows abundantly along the side of the road or railroad tracks, in fields, along fence lines, in burned out areas and sometimes in your yard. It can be recognized by its large, velvety, soft, fuzzy, light green leaves and a tall center stalk that fills with little yellow flowers. It grows in direct sunlight.
This powerful plant has a rich history. The ancient Romans and Greeks used Mullein flower stalks for candles. Part of the name itself – Thapsus- comes from the ancient Town of Thapsus in North Africa on the Mediterranean. The Mullein plant is native to Europe, North Africa and Asia. It was introduced to the Americas and Australia. The common name Mullein, comes from the Latin word “mollis,” which means soft and describes the texture of the oval-shaped leaves.
Native American tribes also have used this plant. The leaves were smoked in pipes to help throat and lung congestion. The Navajos blended it with ordinary tobacco and smoked it hoping to straighten out mild mental disorders. The Mohicans were among the tribes smoking the dried leaves to relieve asthma. The Mullein leaves were tossed over the dwindling coals of a fire, making a smudge, and inhaled for pulmonary troubles.
Still today, the Mullein is called a natural wonder herb. The leaves of the plant contain allantoin, among other compounds, which regenerates tissue. The anodyne, or pain easing properties of the mullein leaves soothe nerve endings thus reducing spasms and associated inflammation. It is a great pain killer and helps induce sleep as a tea. These are reasons why it works well in controlling coughs, and it has the ability to loosen mucus and move it out of the body.
Mullein can be used for all lung problems because it also nourishes as well as strengthens. Mullein tea has been used for dropsy, sinusitis, and swollen joints. The hot tea helps when applied topically to mumps, tumors, sore throats and tonsillitis. A fomentation or poultice of Mullein leaves can be applied over any area of the body that is experiencing lymphatic congestion. A poultice of Mullein leaves can also be used for minor burns, cuts and sores. Mullein can also be taken internally for ulcers, either by infusion, decoction or powder.
Native Americans suffering from gout attacks used a decoction of Mullein leaves. Poultices made from Mullein were placed on sprains. A tea was made from the heart of the young plant to relieve spasmodic intestinal pain. They also bound the large soft leaves to the bottom of the foot for foot pain. Mullein oil was thought to be effective against germs, similar to modern antibiotics.
The leaves are a rubefacient, which means that if you rub them against your skin it becomes red and irritated. That is why when you have been handling it, your hands get a warm and fuzzy feeling. Some people have used this property as a natural sort of makeup, which is how Mullein acquired the name “Quaker rouge”.
Mullein can be saved for future use by rolling up single leaves and drying them on a screen. The rolls can be stored in a glass container.
Mullein flowers can be soaked in an edible oil for several weeks and then used for treating earaches, hemorrhoids, sunburn, rashes, inflammations, bruises and contusions. The flowers were used as a diuretic and also to help cure coughs and other lung and chest problems. A tea made with the flowers can be used as a hair rinse to lighten hair color. A massage oil can be made by steeping the flowers in olive oil.
Mullein seeds, which are very tiny, are reported to be toxic and have been used to stun fish.
The Mullein roots were boiled and made into a decoction that was used as an antispasmodic and to help with nervous indigestion. Tea made from the roots was also used as an aid for liver trouble.
Not only is Mullein a medicinal, it is a food source in a survival situation.
Mullein is high in iron, magnesium, potassium and sulpher. It also contains Vitamins A, D and B-complex. Alma Hogan Snell in her book “A Taste of Heritage”, Crow Indian Recipes & Herbal Medicine, said “… Mullein leaves are edible, if they are boiled twice and you are very hungry. I chewed one once, and it was not very good, but I ate it.”
Animals won’t eat Mullein, because all those little hairs irritate their mucous membranes, but insects don’t mind them. Mullein also attracts a wide variety of pollinators, including bees, flies and butterflies.
Filter all preparations taken internally to eliminate the irritating hairs.
Here is my recipe for Ear Oil taken from the book, “The Forest Farmacy” by Tom Tracey, Herbalist and Mentor of the Natural Healing Arts.
Ear Oil Infusion
Pour olive oil or glycerin in a (preferably brown) jar– add Mullein flowers, some garlic juice (or chopped garlic), and Lobelia - Seal it and let it set from a few days to several weeks. Shake periodically, then strain into smaller dropper bottles. Warm the dropper bottle of oil by sitting it in a cup of warm water or run warm tap water over the bottle. Place several drops in the ear.
As always – don’t collect any herbs close to a road or where the area may have been sprayed with poison. These are remedies for your information not a prescription.
Here’s an idea for Mothers’ Day.
This list contains common herbs and their symbolic meanings, from the book The Language of Flowers.
Keep these meanings in mind when creating something for Mom and for other occasions throughout the year.
BASIL love, blessings, best wishes
CALENDULA joy, remembrance
CATNIP intoxification with love
CILANTRO hidden worth
DAISY innocence, loyalty
DILL good spirits
FENNEL worthy of praise
GERANIUM comfort, consolation
IVY friendship, matrimony
LAVENDER devotion, loyalty
MARIGOLD grief, honesty
MINT wisdom, grief
PANSY merriment, remembrance
- Basil for love and good wishes
- Burnet for a merry heart
- Rose Geranium for your preferences
- Rosemary for remembrance
- Sage for long life and good health
- Thyme for happiness and courage
The above herbs would be combined with flowers:
- Roses – Love
- Marigolds for joy and remembrance
- Forget-Me-Nots for true love
- Bachelor Buttons for single blessedness
The flower that symbolized the most important wish would be in the center and the other flowers surrounded it.