Thursday, December 24, 2009

Baking Soda for Colds and Flu

I'm sending you over to Dr. Mercola once again. He reports on using baking soda for colds and the flu. Apparently it was used back in 1917-18 for the Spanish influenza to good effect. I haven't personally tried this yet (I'm waiting til I can get some of Bob's Red Mills baking soda, which does NOT have aluminum in it).

If you're interested, read here. It's quite interesting, and if it works, then it certainly would be a great thing to have around.

You can get your Bob's Red Mills baking soda at some stores, or order online here.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Excellent Article on Homeopathy

Jeez. Can I go forever without a blog post or what? It's embarrassing to be such a slag, but there you have it. My apologies to those who would rather I blog more often. I would, but then Real Life happens and the next thing I know it is a month or so later.

Anyway, have any of you ever wondered what exactly homeopathy is and why some folks swear by it (the Royal family in Britain for instance)? I have. I mean, I'm conscious of its existence and have been for years. Occasionally I will buy a preparation of some homeopathic medicine and use it, usually to good effect. Sometimes. The article I'm going to send you to explains this healing path well, and it also explains why some of the preparations I've purchased don't always work. The answer there is that each patient is different and a good homeopathic doctor would spend a lot of time figuring out exactly what I need, might, indeed, try out a few different preparations til we found the right one--the one that would cure me. Not just suppress my symptoms, but actually cure me.

I found this article on Dr. Mercola's site, in his email newsletter. You might want to sign up and get his info in your email as I do. If you're interested in alternative therapies, you might want to check this out. Like I said, it explains homeopathic medicine really well. It clarified a lot of what had been small mysteries to me about homeopathy. It's a good read.

Check it out!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Mullein Root?

A few weeks ago I came across a really interesting article on various uses for mullein. If you live in a similar bioregion to mine (southern Indiana) this is a good time to gather some first year mullein. I'm seeing it sprouting up in lots of places. I've been gathering both leaves and roots of these sprightly plants, harvesting what I can before the snow comes.

You can read this fascinating account of mullein over at Jim McDonald's website, Herbcraft. I had never heard of people using mullein root, just its leaves and flowers. So I was game, and made a tincture of the root, those first-year roots of the young plants, before they send up their flower stalk. I think the roots get too woody after the flower stalk blossoms. Anyway, I haven't had any issues with my spine, nor has anyone I know, so I haven't been able to test whether this tincture is as excellent for backs and joints as McDonald says yet, but I will.

I also have a lot of the leaves currently drying for various cough preparations (teas or tinctures). I expect we'll have uses for it this winter if/when colds and flus become a problem around here. I've posted on mullein in earlier posts, if you're interested. Do check out McDonald's article though. Very interesting!

I'll leave it up to you to read McDonald on using the roots for spine problems, but if it is as efficacious as he says, then there's lots of times this tincture would be useful. I scarcely know anyone who doesn't occasionally hurt their backs, whether it is muscle spasms or slipped disks. Backs, knees and joints are usual problem areas in the human body, quite common for any older person to have aches and pains with these.

I'm still suffering with the whatever I have, the excess mucus problem, but now my body is readily expelling the stuff. Yesterday I had lots of energy, the day before none at all, and today I'm doing OK. Not all better yet, but OK. Enough to get some things done, which is nice. It is HARD to sit around being sick as a dog when there's a lot of work to do.

I don't know about where you are, but here it is a glorious Indian Summer kind of day. Crisp, cool, warm in the sun. I think I need a hike outside, do a little foraging.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Heinerman: Cinnamon, Cold and Flu Fighter

Here's a bit from Heinerman's Encyclopedia of Healing Herbs & Spices:

Cold and Flu Fighter

To make an effective French folk remedy for colds and flus, combine 2 cups of water, a small stick of cinnamon and a few cloves together is a saucepan and bring to a slow boil for about 3 minutes. Remove and add 2 tsp. lemon juice, 1-1/2 tbsp. dark honey or blackstrap molasses, and 2 tbsp. qood quality whiskey. Stir well, cover, and let steep for about 20 minutes or so. Strain. Drink 1/2 cup at a time every 3-4 hours. It's pleasant tasting and really breaks up the fever and congestion accompanying either the common cold or influenza.

I doubled the recipe to make about a quart. He's right, it's a nice-tasting brew, the touch of alcohol is just right. I've been fighting some kind of nasty bug for a while now. A few days ago I stopped all over-the-counter meds for allergies and sinus. I had been just suppressing the symptoms and it wasn't helping me either fight the bug or allowing my body to do whatever it needs to do to get rid of it altogether. So now I'm just doing some herbal extracts and suffering all the symptoms--loads of mucus, coughing, some vomiting, diarrhea, feeling achy and tired. Is it a flu? I dunno and don't much care. It's low-level stuff, nothing that'll kill me. Yet, anyway.

We'll see how the cinnamon brew works out! Sure tastes good. :)

Reduce Your Risk of Flu

Came across a nifty little article on some basic simple things you can do to help reduce your risk of getting swine or any other kind of flu. You can read it here. All the suggested items in the list strike me as very sensible, cheap, easy to do and very common-sensical advice. Check it out!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Recommended for Flu: Boneset

Heinerman's Encyclopedia of Healing Herbs and Spices has many recommendations on which herbs work well for colds and flu. One of these is boneset (eupatorium perfoliatum). I'll quote you his section on using boneset for treating the flu.

Knocks the Flu for a Loop

Silena Heron, N.D. of Sedona, Arizona promotesa great "recovery therapy" during cold and flu season. Her standard recommended treatment calls for boneset, equal parts of yarrow, elderflower and lemon balm or peppermint to be made into a warm tea.

Heron encourages her patients to drink a cup of her special brew, get into a hot bath and then drink a second cup of the "flu brew" while still in the tub. After drying off, the patient should go straight to bed and cover up first with a sheet, then with a heavy wool blanket, followed by plenty of quilts. This will promote heavy sweating for an hour. Then the individual returns to the tub and sponges the body off with apple cider vinegar.

Edward Sieracki of Detroit, Michigan, who followed Dr. Heron's detoxifying regimen, reported that "twenty minutes after drinking this boneset blend tea, I started to sweat profusely. I drank another cup of the tea and went to bed. By the next morning I was fully recovered." Make the tea according to previously given instructions.

To cure a sore throat accompanying a cold or flu, just mix pinches of salt and cayenne pepper with the juice of half a lemon or lime and gargle. It may briefly burn your throat, but the soreness will quickly leave.

End extract.

I haven't tried this therapy yet, but if I get the flu, I will. It can't hurt and it is always good to detox. Your body will appreciate it.

In other posts, I'll run Heinerman's flu/cold recommendations here as well.


More Important Articles on Flu Vaccination

These two articles contain a great deal of information on H1N1 flu, seasonal flu, and vaccinations in general. The first is from Dr. Mercola and you can find it here. It's very interesting. There's also an interview with Dr. Russel Blaylock. Check it out.

The second article is from Natural News, by Mike Adams. It contains some historical facts about vaccination, and what a mess they can cause.

So what can we do about the flu? I can tell you what we're doing daily, all immune-boosting stuff:

  • Vitamin C (1000 mg) daily
  • Vitamin D3 (5,000 mg) daily
  • A teaspoon of Elderberry tincture (we will up this to a tablespoon a few times a day if we start feeling ill with flu. For more on Elderberries and flu, you could read some entries in this blog from last fall. Just click here and especially here.)
  • Clove of garlic daily
  • A serving of kimchi or other fermented food. This will provide probiotics in the gut, which is a big part of your immune system.
  • Eating a minimum of white flour or sugar foods. Eating lots of good veggies, fruits and meat.
  • Echinacea/Goldenseal tincture with some cayenne tincture to boost it.
  • Washing hands a lot.
  • Getting out in the sunshine and brisk exercise.

Personally, I think it is important to remain cheerful and optimistic. Easy to do on a gorgeous sunny day like today, not quite so easy when my dear husband insists on reading horrible news aloud to me. Or on a rainy, cold day. Still, it is better to be cheerful. One thing I do is visit LOL Cats nearly daily. I Can Has Cheeseburger is a hoot!

Onwards, all


Sunday, November 1, 2009

Homemade Hand Sanitizer

Friend Charli down in Alabama sent me this via email. I thought you all might like to read it.
It's from an article that appeared here.

It's quick and easy to make your own natural, waterless hand sanitizer.

Gather Your Ingredients

1 cup aloe vera gel
1 tsp rubbing alcohol
2 tsp vegetable glycerin
8-10 drops tea tree essential oil or lavender essential oil

Simply blend all of the ingredients together and store.

Decide Where You are Going to Store Your Sanitizer

Be creative! You can recycle old liquid soap or hand sanitizer dispensers. You can also purchase a beautiful glass jar with a pump top to store and display your sanitizer. Think out of the box. If you find some nice glass jars and then add your own label, you can give home made sanitizers as gifts to family and friends!

Choose Essential Oils Carefully

The original recipe calls for tea tree or lavender oil, but you can be creative and use other types of essential oils as well. I like to pull out a list of oils that have antibacterial AND antiviral properties and make a blend that suits the season. Look at the properties of citrus oils, especially. Use oils that suit your likes as far as scents are concerned but will still add the cleansing properties appropriate for a hand sanitizer.

Use Sparingly

Your home made hand sanitizer will not dissolve into your hands as quickly or effectively as the commercial hand sanitizers you buy in the store. It is better to err on the side of too little than to end up wiping excess sanitizer off of your hands later. Waste not - want not!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Wormwood (Artemisia Absinthium)

I've been reading in Heinerman's Encyclopedia of Healing Herbs & Spices lately. This is something I'm always doing with my various herb books. And I find out interesting items all the time. I thought I'd pass this section on Wormwood on to you.

I haven't found wormwood in the wild here yet. But I happened to see some at the wine supply store I visited recently. They had some wormwood there for flavoring for beer, I think. Or to make absinthe with perhaps. So I bought a couple of packets since the herb looked nice and green.

Here's what Heinerman's had to say about a few uses for this herb:

Overpowering Relief for Pain

The team of Simon, Chadwick and Craker in their Herbs--An Indexed Bibliography (1971-80) mentions that "wormwood has been used as a pain reliever for women during labor and against tumors and cancers." An alcoholic tincture of the same applied externally often has a profound effect in relieving the soreness of aching muscles, the hurt accompanying swollen, arthritic joints, and the terrific pain felt with a bad sprain, dislocated shoulder/knee or fractured bone.

The following episode was related by the eldest son of the Mormon prophet, Joseph Smith, Jr. The prophet's son was a teenager residing in Nauvoo, Illinois at the time he had his experience with wormwood.

"Our carriage had stopped by the roadside for lunch and to rest the horses. Upon getting back into my seat after the brief interval, I thoughtlessly put my hand around one of the carriage posts, and as the driver closed the door, two of my fingerts were pretty badly crushed.

"The wounds bled freely and Mother (Emma Smith) bound them up with some cloths from her bag, and we traveled on. My fingers became very painful, and after a while we stopped at a farmhouse. Mother unwrapped them, soaking the temporary dressing off with warm water and rewrapped them with fresh cloths. Taking from her trunk a little bottle of whiskey and wormwood, she turned the tips of my fingers upward, and poured the liquid upon them, into the dressings--at which, for the first time in my life I promptly fainted! It seemed as if she had poured the strong medicine directly upon my heart, so sharply it stung and so quick was its circulatory effect.

When I returned to consciousness I was lying on a lounge against the wall and Mother was bathing my face most solicitiously. I soon recovered and we proceeded on our journey, reaching home in good time and without further mishap."

To make an effective tincture for relieving excruciating pain, combine 1 1/2 cup of finely cut herb or else 8 tbsp. of the powdered herb in 2 cups of Jim Beam whiskey. Shake the jar daily, allowing the wormwood to extract for 11 days. Let the herbs settle and then pour off the tincture, straining out the powder though a fine cloth or paper coffee filter. Rebottle and seal with a tight lid until needed. Store in a cool, dry place. When using this tincture to relieve external pain, remember that because of its strong potency a little bit goes a long way! Wormwood oil used externally can relieve pain too.

End Excerpt

Hmmmmmm. Now that sounds like a handy tincture to have around, doesn't it? So, I used the wormwood I had purchased from the wine supply store and made a tincture with it as directed. I'm not sure of the quality of the wormwood purchased, so this one may not work out, but I'll let you know. If wormwood grows around you, you might want to give this a try. Heinerman also says that the wormwood tincture can be used internally to rid people of intestinal parasites: "Using an eyedropper, put 10 drops of tincture in with 1 tsp. of honey or molasses. Mix well before eating. The honey or molasses helps to alleviate the bitter taste of the tincture."


Monday, October 26, 2009

"Our Vanishing Landscape"

This is just a few meandering thoughts. There's a conservation organization in a city near us. You don't need to know the name--but you know the type, the kind that asks for donations of land for them to hold in perpetituity in order to escape the dread evil of "our vanishing landscape." That line has always made me laugh--WHAT vanishing landscape? Hell, I live out in the sticks and we got veritable TONS of landscape and as far as I can tell, it is all still there. So, like, what's the problem?

I mean, it sounds like you'd be driving along, and all of a sudden, you wouldn't see fields or farms or woods or trees, you'd just see gray blank walls of nothingness. Right? The landscape would have "vanished." That's what makes me laugh.

I'm poking fun at this silly environmentalist thinking, of course. And I have to say, it seems to me that most "environmentalists," especially those who consider themselves tree-huggers, that they all live in cities. They see sidewalks, streets, buildings--in other words, lots and lots of cement. And that apparently causes a bit of brain dysfunction, because they will believe things like "our landscape is vanishing." They also probably have no idea exactly how much work it takes to maintain cement, to restrain rampant vegetation from simply taking over.

Because, folks, it WILL. All you have to do is STOP all maintainence work on roads, highways, bridges, etc. and pretty soon the whole damn mess of it will simply disappear from view. All you will see is a plethora of, well, "landscape." Vines, trees, loads of my buddies, the weeds, grasses, you name it. Vegetation alone will easily overcome anything we might call a city. Just look at those ruins of cities and temples in South America, easily returned to the jungle by victorious landscape.

If you live out in the country, you've seen dandelions poking their bright, yellow heads right up through pavement on a back country road. In the cities, you see dandelions poking out through cracks in the sidewalk. Of course you have, if you're alert. There's your landscape returning, folks. And if you're a city environmentalist, come out into the country. Hell, we'll be happy to show you that landscape ain't disappearing nohow. It'll rule in the end.

Well, OK. I AM thinking about the "national emergency" Obama just declared to handle the not-a-big-deal-government-produced-and-directed swine flu. And that's bad news. But I can't think about bad news all the time. That's my husband's department. But crisis or no crisis, world-ending or no world-ending, dinner still has to get to the table somehow, and since the sun is shining and it is a beautiful October day, I'd rather be grateful and cheerful, and nothing cheers me up more than to think about dandelions taking over the world after us damn-silly human beings have done ourselves to dirt.

Dandelions Uber Alles!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Teasel for Lyme Disease

Teasel basal rosette--first year plant

First of all, my apologies for not blogging much this past week. I was under the weather as they say, dealing with various physical problems. And I was busy researching Lyme disease, as Joaz, our Amish friend and farmer, had been diagnosed a few weeks ago as having Lyme. He'd been ill for 2 weeks, going on the third week, which is quite a long time for a very active, usually healthy young man. He had all the usual symptoms for early Lyme, headaches, fatigue, bright lights hurt his eyes, fever and chills, muscle and joint pain, swollen glands, etc. And Fred and I were worried and praying for him and his family.

Lyme disease is rising in the US, and it can be a devasting disease. Google Lyme Disease to find out more than you'd ever want to know about Lyme. In fact, you can read up on it here, but there is lots of information out on the web about it. A few years ago, I had a tick bite and it had gotten infected--the bite was on my back and while I was aware of it itching, I couldn't see the damn thing and so didn't connect it with a tick bite. Anyway, a quick search around the web for info on Lyme disease and I called my allopath MD for an appointment. While I normally avoid antibiotics (not to mention doctors), this time I thought I'd better get right on it; my doctor agreed and I did a course of some sort of expensive antibiotic that did the trick. I did NOT want to have to deal with lyme disease. Fortunately for me, the antibiotic therapy worked. Other folks are not so lucky, or they don't have the rash and the lyme gets diagnosed as something else or it goes untreated and all hell breaks lose.

So, Joaz and Lydia and their kids believe in natural health, herbs, and use naturopathic doctors, chiropractors, massage, etc. and avoid the general allopathic medical world as much as they can. Since Fred, Michael and I do pretty much the same, that makes sense to me. But in this case, for lyme disease, I told them my story with lyme and what I did and suggested that a course of antibiotics might be a good idea.

I don't know if they did that (I don't think so but I didn't ask) but yesterday when Fred and I were there for our normal Saturday morning visit, Joaz was feeling much, much better. He looked better, more energetic and almost his normal self. Thank you, Lord! I gave them some materials on herbs and alternative therapies for lyme, with a list of herbs that some herbalists had recommended. I'll be bringing a few that I have on hand for them next week.

We discussed teasel root tincture for lyme. I am most emphatically not a doctor, nor even a certified herbalist--just an ol' wild food/medicine forager, but I feel OK about mentioning various herbs/plants to people as perhaps being helpful, and if they are interested, I can mostly find the plant and make some sort of simple preparation for them. I had not known teasel until this summer when I noticed this interesting plant growing down by the pond, and what seemed to be the basal rosette of it growing on our hillside, which, upon on a closer inspection and checking all my herbal books and using google, etc., turned out to be the mysterious teasel himself.

Yesterday afternoon was so glorious, I couldn't stay inside, so I went out to see if I could get some teasel roots for Joaz. I found the old dried plants from this summer, and then, to my delight, I saw the basal rosettes just across the road on the hillside. Perfect! Ok, it IS on a hill and it won't be easy digging out the roots, but certainly I could get some. Eureka!

While I was there, I saw some young mulleins starting, so I sat by them for a while too, asking for their help and feeling so grateful to live in this place where so many herb friends grow and thrive. Then I took some leaves and dug up some roots as well. Also harvested some black walnuts, to use the hulls for a decoction for diarrhea and a few other things. It was a short, but blessed, foraging trip.

You can find out more about using teasel for lyme disease at Lady Barbara's website. Clicking here will tell you how she used teasel root tincture to cure her nasty case of lyme. Or do a google search on teasel root for lyme disease and you'll get all the same links I did. To dig the roots, you want to find the basal rosette (pictured at the top). You'll find them near the older, dried teasels of the summer or close nearby. Dig roots in the spring or fall.

Happy foraging!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Flu Vaccines: Pure Quackery

There are 3 or 4 alternative health sites I visit regularly. I always read Bill Sardi if an essay of his shows up at He's excellent. Then there's Dr. Mercola, also excellent. And Mike Adams, the Health Ranger of Natural News. Each of these are good, reputable critics of our current medical system.

Lately there's been some very interesting articles on flu vaccines. If you're interested, read the following articles. In my not very humble opinion, we HAVE to be interested in our health, because it takes effort to keep it these days. If you're the sort of person who runs off to the doctor, takes whatever pill or potion they give you, believes in their diagnosis without question, takes whatever test is recommended, then I'd say you are in Big Trouble and your health will suffer greatly. We must question "authority" on this and everything else. Frankly, I lost trust in the medical system years ago. Like most people who lose trust in the system, I think I was more harmed than helped by their treatment. That lack of trust has served me well since.

Anyway, the first article on this list is from Mike Adams, of Natural News. In his piece, he summarizes and explains/comments on a current article in The Atlantic. Mike is biased in favor of natural medicine, and opposed to the medical system as it is. With that in mind, however, here's his take on the topic of flu vaccine:

Then, if you are like me and have the time, you'll want to read the original article in The Atlantic. The authors did a great job of showing the empty science behind the vaccine industry:

And last, over at Dr. Mercola's website, you find this article on how getting a seasonal flu vaccine doubles your chances of getting swine flu:

Pretty amazing, isn't it? In the past few days I've seen the hordes of people lining up to get their seasonal flu shots at $24 or $30 a pop. My bet is most of those folks get a flu shot every year. They probably and reliably get the flu every year as well. Sigh. Well, there are good people challenging this vaccine "science" this year.

I want to leave you with a paragraph from the Atlantic article. It is a real eye-opener. It will show you exactly how deadly modern medicinee can be:

The annals of medicine are littered with treatments and tests that became medical doctrine on the slimmest of evidence, and were then declared sacrosanct and beyond scientific investigation. In the 1980s and ’90s, for example, cancer specialists were convinced that high-dose chemotherapy followed by a bone-marrow transplant was the best hope for women with advanced breast cancer, and many refused to enroll their patients in randomized clinical trials that were designed to test transplants against the standard—and far less toxic—therapy. The trials, they said, were unethical, because they knew transplants worked. When the studies were concluded, in 1999 and 2000, it turned out that bone-marrow transplants were killing patients. Another recent example involves drugs related to the analgesic lidocaine. In the 1970s, doctors noticed that the drugs seemed to make the heart beat rhythmically, and they began prescribing them to patients suffering from irregular heartbeats, assuming that restoring a proper rhythm would reduce the patient’s risk of dying. Prominent cardiologists for years opposed clinical trials of the drugs, saying it would be medical malpractice to withhold them from patients in a control group. The drugs were widely used for two decades, until a government-sponsored study showed in 1989 that patients who were prescribed the medicine were three and a half times as likely to die as those given a placebo.

Keep in mind: when dealing with the medical system, it is definitely Caveat Emptor!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Diatomaceous Earth

I got the pix above from a website that sells DE for ridding birds of parasites. And I got the idea for researching DE from Kellene Bishop's nifty and useful blog Preparedness Pro. She discusses using DE in your food storage; that is, when you go to store a 5 gallon bucket of wheat or rice or beans or whathaveyou, you add a tablespoon of DE to kill insects. We've been using DE in our food storage for about a year now and we have very little bug problems, if any. We also use bay leaves. I highly recommend it for this purpose. However, Kellene also mentions that DE can be a good source of trace minerals, it absorbs nasty heavy metals and toxins in your system (and disposes of them), rids you of worms and other parasites, regulates digestion and elimination, and gives you stronger, healthier skin and hair. Wow. Sounds like a good deal!

Since I didn't know any of this prior to reading Preparedness Pro on the subject, I thought I'd better do a bit of research. Let's look at each of the benefits separately.

Absorbs Heavy Metals and Toxins

Diatomaceous earth (DE) Fossil Shell Flour has been reported in scientific literature to absorb methyl mercury, E. coli, endotoxins, viruses (including poliovirus), organophosphate pesticide residues, drug residues, and protein, perhaps even the proteinaceous toxins produced by some intestinal infections. Pyrethroid insecticide residues probably also bind to diatomaceous earth, since pyrethrins from Chrysanthemum flowers bind to and are stabilized by this material.

This excerpt is from an article on the benefits from a website that sells food grade DE from Canada. I haven't checked prices at various vendors, but I would before I buy. However, this website includes a lot of useful information, and I always like that. I'd certainly consider buying DE from these folks if the prices were equivalent to other vendors. The entire article is very good. Apparently, DE binds to all these toxins, including pharmaceutical drugs and other poisons, and takes them out of the body via elimination. Activated charcoal and benntonite clay can do the same, however, DE has so many other uses and benefits to make it even more attractive.

Trace Minerals

DE is essentially silica, which performs a host of good things in the body. You can't easily absorb calcium without the presence of silica. See this article on the benefits of silica/DE on health. It all sounds great, although I take everything I read with a grain of plain old sea salt. DE contains calcium, magnesium, potassium, copper, zinc....well, check it out here. That's a LOT of trace minerals, which, lord knows, are difficult to get from our basic foods these days (see my previous entries on the nutritional value of food--and look under the label for it).

Kills Worms and Other Parasites

DE is used to rid animals, both livestock and pets, of worms and parasites. Of course, it works for humans as well. I have read that 80% of the entire human population on earth has parasites, which can cause a host of nasty diseases. The parasites in your gut will eat YOUR nutrition, eliminate their toxic waste in your gut, and cause many other problems, even kill you. Frankly, I don't know if I have worms, but if I do, I'd want to get rid of them. I don't like any parasites, including lawyers and politicians, but at least I can take DE to rid myself of the less evil kind (HAH!).

Over at Wolf Creek Ranch, they feed everyone DE: humans, kids, pets, livestock, feral rescue animals, birds, etc. You may want to read all the information on that page, it's excellent stuff.

On final note on this topic: if you care to read one woman's diary of how she uses DE to rid herself of worms, read here. A word of warning: it's not very pretty. But it is very enlightening.

Regulates Digestion and Elimination

If you read all of the articles at the links mentioned here, you'll find a lot of mention how DE helps nearly everyone with constipation and other digestion problems. You'll find more here.

The upshot of all this is that food grade diatomaceous earth is very beneficial. One website even includes some nifty household uses (besides ridding the house of pests). It cleans metal, you can use it as a face mask and toothpaste, etc. With all this good stuff going for it, I think incorporating DE into your normal healthy routines is a great idea. I just started taking it a few days ago. I will let you know how I feel in updates (although I don't think I'll share all the worm elimination details if it is all the same with you :).

If anyone currently uses DE and has good (or bad) things to say about it, I'd like to hear about it. Thanks!


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Update on Canned Butter

Reader Andrea emailed me to ask if the butter we canned was of good quality, that is, worth it. Did it taste the same, was it the same texture as regular butter? Here's some observations:

We opened one of the jars of butter. The three of us (husband, brother, self) agree that it tastes fine and the texture is about the same. That is, it is not gritty or gravelly or crusty. The butter stays solid at room temperature, but it is a bit more runny/moist than what we were used to. See, I keep our butter normally in the fridge when it is not in use. When I take it out, the butter is hard until it warms up and softens. The butter in the jar is soft and melty. As I said, it tastes just fine, just like normal butter. I haven't noticed a difference.

Keep in mind that we just canned that butter a week or so ago. I don' t know how the butter will be 1 year, 2 years, 5 years out. Can't tell til we get there. However, the reason we canned the butter in the first place is so we would have butter to hand if our regular supply wasn't available. Lower-quality butter would be acceptable if it was the only butter around, I think.

Normally we get our butter either from the Amish farmers (purchased as "pet food") or I buy some from a store. I love the Amish butter as it is fresh churned from a cow milked that morning, but store butter is OK too. I have never used margarine or oleo or any of the fake butters. For me, I'll take the healthy if a bit fattening butter over whatever margarine is (one molecule away from plastic) any day.

Folks who have been canning butter for years using the method we used say it is fine at 3 years down the road, and fine at 5 years too. I'll take their word for it until I have another opinion to go by. So if you're wondering whether to "can" butter, I'd say go ahead. That way you have some in hand if supplies dry up.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Oil of Oregano for Flu

A friend sent me this in an email:

Everybody, remember to get your Oil Of Oregano to protect yourself against the swine flu (and any other illness) this season. It's not expensive ($20 for a month's supply) and can be found online or at Good Earth in Broad Ripple. It's an extremely effective antiviral, antifungal, and antibacterial agent that you just drop 2-3 drops of into your mouth twice a day- just like taking a vitamin (which I presume everyone already takes). It can be a little strong tasting, but you'll get used to it. It's just a concentrated oil that's made from a certain type of Mediterranean oregano (similar to the Italian spice) that comes in little one ounce bottles, anywhere from $18-40, depending where you go and how strong it is. I urge everyone to at least look it up and read about it, and you'll see what I'm talking about. I've been taking it since April, when the first round of swine flu hit, and haven't been sick since!

I have some oil of oregano, an essential oil from Young Living. It is very expensive ($40 or so). Yet I've had this same little bottle for years and years, since I only use a drop at a time. It is also very strong, almost too strong-tasting to use straight. I usually will put a drop in a glass of water and take it that way. I take my cayenne tincture that way too.

Other items recommended for flu in general: Netti pots for washing out the sinuses (you see these in regular drug stores these days), cold season teas, humidifers. All will be beneficial if the flu season gets bad this year.

On the other hand, part of me feels this whole swine flu thing is just another government sideshow, meant to keep our little minds busily terrified and thus not thinking about the sticky hand in our pockets, or bailout ripoffs. CDC has certainly blown what seems a mild flu all out of proportion. I imagine most readers are familiar with all the funny business of this "swine flu" "pandemic" and I won't get into it here. Suffice it to say I find the whole thing suspicious, possible big gov/big pharma driven (gov gets more control, potential martial law, big pharma gets billions with no responsibility for safety of vaccines), CDC/media collusion in calling the thing a "pandemic"--it all seems crazy to me.

And of course, the govt will never tell us to do the sensible things, the common sense things or to look for nutritional aids to help our bodies prevent disease or cope with disease if we become ill. No, for what profit in that? Well, this whole point has been discussed by much better writers than I. Read Bill Sardi's archives at There is a great deal of very useful information there.

In the meantime, do some research on oil of oregano. It is another beneficial tool for your own flu protocols.

Fred's Foot Infection

Fred, our 81 year-old friend, had a sore on his foot that became infected about 3 weeks ago. That's where this saga begins. His foot was slightly swollen, with what looked like an infected corn that had been aggravated by being rubbed against with his shoe. First step, change the shoe so the corn is no longer aggravated.

Second, clean the infected area really well. He used hydrogen peroxide. Then Fred spread moistened clay on the sore, hoping the clay would pull out the infected matter and then it would heal.

He called me a few days later. He was keeping the clay on his foot at all times. His foot was now swollen, toes swollen, hot, and very tender to the touch. Now, I'm not a doctor, or trained nurse, or trained anything but a wild food forager who has read a lot about herbal and alternative medicines. I didn't have any suggestions, really, but it seemed to me that the clay treatment wasn't doing much for him. I suggested letting the clay dry out a bit, see if that changed things.

Fred then decided to try using activated charcoal on the sore. Activated charcoal can be used as a compress on wounds, so it seemed a worthy idea to me. And the foot seemed a bit better, but not really healing. I brought over plantain tincture to see if that would help. So Fred used a few drops of the plantain tincture with the charcoal. The foot started looking worse.

Oh dear. In fact, the next day, his foot looked so bad I told him to call a doctor or that I'd take him to emergency or the walk-in clinic. I told him it was far out of my ken or abilities at this point. But Fred is very stubborn and dislikes the allopathic medical system as much as I do. Besides, the medicos charge an arm and a leg for those without insurance. We joked that at this point, Fred might well lose a foot to them. Hah. As much as I dislike the system, I argued with Fred that he needed some professional help at this point. I said I'd settle for him calling Anna, a nurse who lives in the valley. And I said that if a red line started up his leg from the sore on his foot he was in big trouble and then must go to a doctor.

I called Anna. She went over that night and also told him to get to a doctor or the clinic, but that she didn't think the infection was systemic or in the blood (yet). Fred still refused to go to a doctor. She told him to keep his foot elevated, so he did.

Next day I went and gathered plantain leaves. We soaked his foot in Epsom salts, then put on a plantain leaf poultice, and stopped with the charcoal, clay, and plantain tincture. Finally, his foot swelling went down, the foot became less red and hot and Fred became a bit more comfortable. But the sore still wouldn't heal. In the midst of all this, regular life went on of course. I had lots of home and garden chores, food preservation to accomplish, meals to cook, rooms to clean, work to do. Anna also came by a few times and said she thought Fred's foot was getting better.

But I kept fretting about it. I remembered reading somewhere that raw honey was effective on wounds of all kinds as an antibiotic dressing. I quickly did a bit of research, and then Fred and I put a small amount of pure raw honey on the sore. Fred said that at first it stings, then it feels better. He still would get shooting pains from the foot occasionally, but the honey was helping the sore to heal.

And that's where we were yesterday when we went to the Amish as we normally do on Saturdays for our "pet food," and other produce. While there, we asked Lydia if she could think of anything else we could try. Lydia's niece and nephew were visiting and helping out because Joaz had been ill. Lydia's niece (also named Lydia) said to try the tonic bitters that her parents make. She said it can heal sores and is very useful in any number of ways. This tonic bitters is made by the recipe for Swedish Bitters. So Lydia gave us about an ounce of what she had and we made arrangements to purchase some from the niece next week. I've also found the recipe at the link above, but it would take time to gather the herbs and other ingredients.

So we get Fred home and soaked a gauze pad with some of the bitters and put that on the sore. By this time, with the plantain leaves and the raw honey, Fred's foot was looking almost better, but still a bit swollen and warm to the touch. Fred agreed that he'd alternate using the raw honey and the bitters and see what that does. He had the bitters as a dressing last night and reported that his foot hurt all night. I suggested he use the honey at night instead, as the honey helps with the pain.

So, what's with this long, drawn-out story, HM? I've told you all these details to show a picture of what many of us might have to deal with IF there is no medical system for us to rely on (and complain about or avoid). There will be many people dealing with situations outside of their limited medical experience in a time of chaos or disruption of normal life. This somewhat confusing story presents some ideas you might find useful in the future. This saga of Fred's foot isn't over yet, but I think we're past the danger point. It'll heal, if slowly. There are no miracle herbs or tonics--although at times some herbs and tonics can seem a miracle.

So far, the raw honey has worked the best. In this case, I don't think the clay or activated charcoal helped much, although both are excellent treatments for other situations. Here you have two people basically stumbling around trying to figure out what to do, what might work. And both Fred and I have read extensively about alternative health treatments and medicine. We have ideas of what might work, not what WILL work. And that's not bad, at least since this situation wasn't life-threatening. We came up with other ideas, a garlic foot bath, for instance. (Before I googled it, I didn't know that bit about a garlic foot bath helping the lungs clear from mucus!)

I'm sure this post doesn't show me in the best light--but that's good. It is TOO easy to think that someone is an "expert" because they are a bit knowledgable about a subject. I've always said in this blog that I'm a beginner, an amateur, more a forager than an herbalist. In the future, however, I expect that many of us will be called upon to stretch our skills and learning, and by stretching, to become more skilled. The doctors I have respected most are those who still consider themselves students, that is, they are still learning.

Who was it who said that the more you learn, the more you learn that there is ALWAYS more to learn?

I'd love to hear from any of you who have dealt with stubborn infections, especially in the elderly. Thanks for tuning in...

Friday, October 2, 2009

Our Flu Protocol

My husband and I have decided to do these things every day (or as near as possible), in order to give ourselves a growling good immune system and to combat whatever flu bugs might accidentally wander into our environs.

Vitamin C (1000 mg base amount, more if needed)
Vitamin D3 (1000 - 50000 mg base amount)
2-4 droppers of elderberry extract (more if needed)
Multivitamin/mineral mix (Michael takes this; I skip it as I prefer to get my nutritional needs met via eating wild plants. I just go outside an nibble on whatever I find--wood sorrel, plantain leaves, yellow dock leaves, gnaw on some sassafrass leaves, a couple of spice berries here, couple of wild grapes there, the classic nibbler diet)

Clove garlic a day
Kimchi at least one serving a day
The usual good diet of meat with veggies galore, a minimum of sugar or white flour products, very little to none processed foods

If necessary/as needed
Goldenseal/Echinacea extract with a Cayenne extract for booster

And getting out into sunshine, getting some exercise, swinging our arms, praising God's gifts. The last mentioned is without a doubt the most important, praising God and being grateful. And if by chance we get a flu--we normally don't, nor have we ever taken flu shots, then we'll live with it and let the elderberry extract deal with it.

Another fairly important element in this is to avoid those who are ill. Be very careful when you go to stores, wash your hands so often you'll feel obsessive/compulsive, all the usual stuff.

I put by a lot of elderberry extract this year. I filled quart jars 1/2 to 3/4 full with elderberries, then add vodka to top it all off. The six weeks I usually allow for extracts is nearly over. I have offered the extract to everyone in the valley, and I hope they'll use it and wisely. I don't charge $$ for this, but donations will be accepted to cover the cost of the vodka.

I've also laid in some OTC pharmaceuticals--mucinex and sudafed in particular. Someone who'd already had the swine flu recommended those. So, on a just in case basis, I got a few of those. We also have gloves and masks, and somewhere I have a whole biochem suit (complete with gas mask) that someone once gave me. It'd make a great Halloween costume...

So that's our basic flu protocol. I don't know if we'll need it, but it can't hurt to give your body extra nutrients for combatting illness. It's very important also to detoxify--try to get rid of the crap in your system, fast one to three days every once in a while, take hot baths and sweat out toxins, don't eat processed "food" poisons, and move around a bunch.

If anyone has other/different ideas, I'd be glad to hear them. Thanks,

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Kimchi Soup

I wrote about making kimchi a few posts ago and the kimchi has now fermented into its hot, tangy, spicy, lovely self. Sauerkraut it isn't--but I love the mix of the hot, the garlic, the ginger with the cabbage, onion, and scallion. It is now part of our "flu protocol" which we'll start today (more on the flu protocol later) because of its reported action against SARS and respiratory illnesses.

It has gotten cold here, at least, chilly in the mornings. And there is nothing nicer on a cold day than hot soup. So I made kimchi soup--not an authentic Korean recipe, although you can find those with google. I knew what I wanted: something hot and tangy, spicy, a touch sour and brothy. I figured the kimchi I made last week would work great as a base.

I used four or five BIG tablespoons of kimchi and sauteed that with some more garlic and onions. Then I added some chicken broth and tossed in some other veggies, celery and carrots and a tiny potato. Got all that to a boil, then backed off to simmer. Added some hot pepper flakes and sea salt. Ummmmm, now we're talking. Then--and this may sound as awful to you as it did to me when I first thought of it: sardines. Yes, a can of sardines. It was a total surprise--and very, very good. I recall thinking I could always toss the soup on the compost if it was awful because of the sardines, but man, I wish I'd been doing this for years. The sardines work great in a soup. They stay firm, add a lot of flavor, and are mild in the midst of hot garlicky pepper broth. I added some noodles to it and voila, a wonderful kimchi soup!

For me, this soup is a winner, and a very pleasant way to eat the kimchi. See, food IS medicine. Your body requires nutrients--and doesn't require synthetic chemicals, which is what all drugs and most processed foods are. Give your body the nutrients it needs and you'll feel good and healthy. Deprive your body of nutrients (by taking drugs and eating processed foods) and you'll get sicker and sicker. Simple. More simple than it is, of course, but that is how I think about foods and medicine.

Canning Butter

We canned butter yesterday. Well, it isn't really canning, but it does get the butter in the jars and the jars seal and so you can keep your butter on the shelf with your other stored foods with no refrigeration for a few years. That's the theory. Lots of other folks have done this and presented all the info, so I'll skip typing out the actual steps but give you the links so you can go and read what they did, and what we did. It is nice to have 12 pints of butter stored (that's about 10 pounds worth). If you do this, you can buy butter when it's on sale and get a good price.

Michael's been after me for months to do this, so finally we did it. And it isn't hard or difficult, just messy. You can find clear instructions at Our Plain and Simple Life, or at the Just in Case blog. Both are similar with clear steps to take. Basically, the idea is to get both the jars hot in the oven, and the butter melted to boiling, then simmered, so all ingredients are hot. The jars are hot and must be handled carefully. The butter is greasy, and will spill out of the jars before they seal, but the jars must be shaken many times to get the butter to congeal, mixing the separated milk solids from the butter oil. If that's not clear, please go and read the instructions at those blogs and then what I've said here will make more sense.

We put the jars in a roasting pan in the oven, heated to 250 degrees. They have to be in there for 20 minutes before you start to fill them. During that 20 minutes you'll be melting your butter on the stove. Use the big pot you use for chili or stews, because 10 pounds of butter is a LOT of butter. The lids and rings go in a pot of simmering water on the stove. Once the butter has come to a boil and then simmered for 7-10 minutes, you fill the jars. Use a canning funnel and try not to spill the butter all over the place. Wipe the tops of the jars, then put on the lid and tighten the ring. Move the jar to the central shaking area (kitchen table) and ask the husband to shake them for you while you keep filling the jars. If you don't have an assistant, then you'll have to keep shaking the jars whilst filling the others. I imagine that could be a bit complicated.

Anyway, keep shaking the jars every few minutes. If/when butter spills out of the not-yet-sealed jars, wipe it off with a clean cloth (I used white vinegar on my cloth to help cut the grease of the butter). When jars are almost room-temperature, move them to the fridge, but keep shaking. Gradually the butter congeals in the jars and the jars seal. Leave the jars in the fridge for a while--hour or so. And that's it. You've "canned" butter.

Is it safe? I'm not entirely sure. According to the USDA, there are potential problems. Read about it over at an LDS forum here--scroll down a bit and you'll see the warnings. We went ahead and did it anyway, but I'll have those warnings in my mind and I'll be careful with that butter. The choice and the risk are yours too, if you choose to can butter.

I go and visit with Amish friends and farmers every week. They can food a lot, and don't always use mason jars and lids. And none of them seem to have problems with stored food spoilage. So I'm a little more relaxed about it having witnessed many friends canning and having done it myself. So keep in mind that there may be food spoilage issues. On the other hand, the same government agency that warns us about canning food problems can't seem to do anything about e coli on spinach on agribusiness farms, so what the hell. There are plenty of problems with foods you buy at the store--and thus any food has the potential to make you sick. You have to use your own judgment and discernment in this, as in all things.

Onwards, the only direction there is,


Sunday, September 27, 2009

From the book, Joy of Pickling

Here's an interesting pull quote for you. This is from The Joy of Pickling by Linda Ziedrich, the book I've been enjoying (from the library). I haven't gotten around to buying it yet, but I probably will. I've used a lot of the recipes and though I have some nits to pick with some of them, it's over all been fun. It has some fun quotes about pickling sprinkled throughout the text. Here's a curious one:

"I've once asked my grandmother, then seventy-two years old, how she kept her skin so wrinkle-free. The secret, she explained, was a daily dose of the fermented brine from the pickle barrel, rubbed into her skin. This treatment explained the unusual smell I'd always associated with my grandmother, but the astringent quality of the brine did seem to work wonders."
--Darra Goldstein, A Taste of Russia

Well, who knows? Has anyone else heard of this? If I were still wrinkle-free, I might give it a try, but as it is, I like my wrinkles. They fit my face, tell the story of my life and all of that. At any rate, just another tidbit.


Short Foraging Walk

I forage constantly, and I always try to be ready to harvest whatever might present itself to me. Thus, even for just a short stroll with my brother, I have a plastic grocery bag or two folded up in my pocket and a small useful many-blade knife in my pocket as well. Our first stop was at the black walnut tree at the bottom of the small hill we live on top of. Only found 1 walnut to have fallen so far. I snag it--I want to make an extract of the hulls this year. Black walnut hull extract is good for ridding oneself of parasites and for skin diseases, funguses (fungi?) and such. I need to do some further research before I make the stuff, but I know where to look.

Our next stop was the persimmon tree, now laden with lucious fruit. You simply HAVE to wait for persimmons. If you bite into an unripe 'simmon, you'll get the puckiest dry mouth in the world. When ripe, the persimmon is a sweet delicious treat, just bursting with flavor. But unripe? Yuck--horrible! The 'simmons still on the tree were not ripe and we left 'em there. We fought off the yellowjackets for the ones on the ground. And believe me, those bees love ripe persimmons as much as we do. This year I bought a new tool--sort of a french food mill thing--that makes it really easy to extract the pulp from the seeds and skin of the persimmon. I used that and got about a cup's worth of sweet pulp. I'll freeze it and add to it when more persimmons come ripe, until I have enough for a persimmon bread or pudding recipe.

If you want, you can store unripe persimmons in a container in the fridge with some unwaxed apple--the gas from the apple will help ripen the persimmon. I'll try that this year too.

Steve "Wildman" Brill says that persimmons "are one of the most caloric, filling fruits. They're a great source of potassium and Vitamin C, and provide lots of calcium and phosphorus. Persimmon leaf infusion is very high in Vitamin C and tasty too." That bit about the leaves is good to know. I'll gather some leaves before they all fall off to use in flu season.

I picked some small white flowers that I don't recognize--it is sort of a tiny daisy flower with lots of petals, maybe 18-20. I'll have to start looking through the plant books to find out what it is. This is time consuming, but it is a fun project in the winter.

I didn't pick the plantain or dandelions or other things I saw--I have both plantain extract and salve already, and dandelion extract. Don't pick what you don't have a use for. Of course, plantains and dandelions are ubiquitious, but still. Leave 'em be if you aren't going to use them.

On to the crabapple tree of my neighbors. I had pickled a small batch of these earlier and I thought the taste would go wonderful with a venison roast. In the hopes that my stepson comes home to visit (and gets me a deer :), my brother and I gathered a bunch more. These I'll pickle as I did before and look for other recipes. Maybe a crabapple chutney? Or crabapple wine. I'll dry some to use for winter tea. This is really just an ornamental crabapple tree, and the fruits are gorgeous on the tree, but they're not the tastiest thing in the world. But pickle them in sugar, water, vinegar with a spice bag of cinnamon, allspice berries and cloves, and you'll get a fairly nice tasting fruit--good for cooking with, if not for eating outright.

Then, as we returned, we saw a bunch of walnuts down by the pone. We went down and got a bunch of those which I'll use for the extract. I also saw some little berries that look like small grapes, and yep, they grew on a vine. But I recall some warning from Brill's book on a poisonous lookalike, so I'll just take a few and look that up before proceeding to nibble on them. Caution is a good thing in this business.

Some foraging walks are more productive than others of course. But it helps to be prepared and to look around you. I'm planning a longer hike soon--I want to get some sumac berries and sundry other goodies before fall starts getting truly wintry.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Odd's Condiments: Butternut Squash Marmalade

Lately I've been making little jars of tasty condiments, something to liven up a diet of beans and rice or beans and mush. We're not eating that way right now, the menfolk are on the Atkin's diet so we eat a lot of meat and cheese, eggs and low carb veggies. But the garden put forth a goodly quantity of butternut squash and we have to use that too. I can't do strict Atkins--I love my vegetables too much to give up the higher carb ones, but I'll cook the Atkins for the guys.

So my problem was what do I do with all this butternut squash? Michael and Terry don't want to eat it right now (which is insane, since butternuts are so delicious, even if a bit high carb). I started looking for recipes for using the squash in interesting, if odd, ways. Butternut squash is a terrific food, very tasty and nutritious. If you check the link, you'll find it is very high in vitamin A. And ever since I read about it over at Stealth Survival, I've gotten into eating "rainbow veggies, that is, veggies of all different colors. Nothing looks prettier on a plate than say, pureed butternut squash and a serving of nettles or spinach. Anyway... back to the topic at hand.

I found a recipe for butternut squash marmalade of all things. It's simple and delicious, and if you have the same plethora of butternuts in your garden that I do, you might want to give it a try. Since I found this on the web, it's only fair I direct you over to it and you can watch the video and read the recipe for yourself. This is really good: sweet and yet the flavor of the butternut comes though loud and clear. Yum!

Then, in the Joy of Pickling that I mentioned the other day, I found a recipe for a crisp pickled pumpkin or winter squash. Perfect, I thought. I'll pickle a bunch of it. At least we'll try it and see if we like it. My husband and brother tend to prefer the ordinary foods we've eaten all our lives, but I confess to liking the weird and out of the way. So here's a nifty recipe for the butternut squash pickle. I've got to wait a few weeks before eating it to let the pickle flavor develop, so I'll let you all know later if I like it.

Crisp Pickled Pumpkin or Squash
(makes 4 pints)
3 1/2 pound pumpkin or winter squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 3/4 inch cubes (about 9 cups)
2 tablespoons pickling salt
4 whole cloves
8 whole black peppercorns
1 bay leaf crumbled
2 cups cider vinegar
1 cup sugar
4 thin slices fresh ginger, slivered
3 garlic cloves, chopped

1. In a bowl, toss the pumpkin or squash with the pickling salt. Let the cubes rest for 2-3 hours.

2. Drain the cubes, rinse them, and drain them again. Pack them into pint mason jars.

3. Tie the cloves, peppercorns and bay leaf in a spice bag or scrap of cheesecloth. In a saucepan, combine the spice bag with the vinegar, sugar, ginger and garlic. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Reduce the heat, cover the pan and simmer the liquid 10 minutes.

4. Remove the spice bag from the pan and pour the hot liquid over the pumpkin or squash, leaving a 1/2 inch headspace. Close the jars with two piece caps. Process the jars for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath. Store the cooled jars in a cool, dry, dark place for at least 3 weeks before eating the pickle. After opening the jars, store in the fridge.

And there you go. The pickle sounds like it would taste good, and it certainly would be a break from a steady rice and beans diet. You might want to try making some different condiments to supplement your stored foods as well.

Why Odd's Condiments in the title? Well, simple. If I get to making a bunch of weird condiments and foods (weird at least for Indiana), then Odd's Condiments would be a great name for the lable. :)

Oh, one last note--I canned the butternut squash marmalade. The recipe didn't say to do that--you could probably just store your jar of it in the fridge--but I had a load going in the canner anyway, and if you want to give these as gifts to friends, can it. Boiling water bath, 10 minutes.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


It's only been a million years or so since I last blogged. My friend Charli Gribble down in 'Bama has been quietly yelling at me to get with it and get blogging again, so Charli, here you go! I've been busy as hell all summer growing, foraging, fermenting, drying, canning, wine-making and otherwise preserving food for our family. In fact, I've felt an almost primitive need to preserve food. Wild foods, garden goodies, produce from the organic Amish farm, you name it. I snagged as much of it as I could and preserved it in some manner. It will ALL come in handy and probably be necessary. I'm sure many of you have felt the same way--this is not only sort of a hobby, but an absolutely necessary project.

So I've been primarily gardening, foraging and drying in the dehydrator. What a wonderful tool! I had misplaced mine last year so I sun-dried, but it is much easier in the dehydrator. And fun. My brother makes fun of me: "She can't see a veggie without wanting to suck all the water out of it!" Me, I love seeing how the apples, peaches, berries, tomatoes, onions, rutabegas etc. all shrink down into little bits, only to plump back up again with the addition of hot water. It's all MUCH easier to store for us as we live in a small space. The vacuumed bags of dehydrated veggies, fruit and meat (jerky) now all live in some big popcorn tins I got cheap at the local thrift store.

Anyway, on to our topic of today: Kimchi. A national dish/icon of Korea. I was reading in The Joy of Pickling by Linda Ziedrich about fermenting veggies, especially cabbages and came across this bit:

Kimchi as Medicine
While more and more Westerners are turning up their noses at sauerkraut, Koreans and other Asians are eating more kimchi. This is at least in part out of fear of SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome), the deadly pneumonia that left Korea virtually untouched while sickening people throughout most of Asia in 2003. Many inside and outside of the country believe that kimchi kept Koreans safe from the disease.

(As an aside, this is my current interest in food as medicine: keeping us safe from any damn flu virus the government/vaccine industry can throw at us. Thus the quarts of elderberry tincture, the goldenseal/echinacea tincture, etc. And Kimchi!)

As Korean scientists have proven, beneficial microbes in kimchi can overpower bacteria such as Helicobacter pylori, Shigella sonnei, and Listeria monocytogenes. Scientists are now cultivating kimchi microbes in hopes of using them for mass production of a new kind of antibiotic.

Besides killing bacteria, kimchi may fight viruses. A team at Seoul National University reported in 2005 that an extract of kimchi helped in treatment of chickens infected with avian flu. After further studies, the team hoped to distribute the remedy to poultry farms across Korea.

In guarding human health, kimchi battles more than microbes. Scientific studies show that high consumption of cruciferous vegetables reduces the risk of breast cancer. Korea has one of the world's lowest incidences of this disease.

Here's another interesting bit about kimchi (and why we should make and eat it):

Korean scientists have studied kimchi at least as thoroughly as their Western counterparts have studied sauerkraut. The scientists have found that fresh cabbage kimchi is actually more nutritious than unfermented Chinese cabbage. When kimchi tastes best--before it becomes overly sour--its levels of B1, B2, B12 and niacin are twice what they were initially, and its vitamin C levels equals that of fresh cabbage. Scientists have also found that undesirable bacteria and parasites are destroyed during fermentation.

So I made some, using sort of a combination methods/ingredients from Sally Fallon's Nourishing Traditions cookbook and The Joy of Pickling. First I went off to the store because there were some items I was going to be needing for various pickling/fermenting projects. On this day I couldn't find napa cabbage OR daikon raidsh, so I grabbed some savoy cabbage and some regular red radishes. It won't be the real thing, but then, I'm not a real Korean so it won't hurt. Here's the basic recipe:

Cabbage and Radish Kimchi

3 tablespoons pickling salt
5 cups water
1 pound Chinese cabbage (1/2 large head), cored and cut into two inch squares
1 pound daikon cut in half lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon minced garlic
5 scallions cut into thin rounds
1 1/2 tablespoons Korean ground dried hot pepper (or other mildly hot ground red pepper)
1 teaspoon sugar

(I used the whole head of cabbage, a bunch of scallions, more ginger and garlic than called for; also, I used hot cayenne pepper flakes rather than the ground hot pepper--my kimchi doesn't look red for that reason.)

1. Dissolve 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons of the salt in the water. Combine the cabbage and daikon in a large bowl or nonreactive pot and cover them with the brine. Weight the vegetables with a plate and let them stand at room temperature for 12 hours.

2. Drain the vegetables, reserving the brine. Combine them with the remaining ingredients, including the remaining 1 teaspoon salt. Pack the mixture into a 2 quart jar. Pour enough of the brine over the vegetables to cover them. Push a food grade plastic bag into the jar and pour some or all of the remaining brine into the bag. Seal the bag. Let the kimchi ferment in a cool place at a temperature no higher than 68 degrees F for 3 to 6 days, until the kimchi is as sour as you like.

3. Remove the brine bag, Cap the jar tightly and store the kimchi in the refrigerator, where it will keep for months.

Nourishing Traditions calls for pretty much the same ingredients, but no brine, just sea salt and whey added to the veggies. In this version, you'd pound the cabbage/radish mix with a meat hammer to free up their juices, then put them in a jar with their own juices covering them. Again, let it ferment.

(I didn't use the brine bag, just covered the veggies with the brine and left them to ferment. Both Michael and I tasted it and it was salty, spicy and good. I think it is going to be addicting!)

Kimchi is only one of the fermenting projects I've got going. There are lots of gallon jugs of wine, pickled beets, brined green beans, fermented tomatoes (then dried, rolled into balls, and stored in olive oil) fermented zucchini, fermented dill pickles, etc. The nice thing about fermenting is that the lactic acid formed by the fermentation process means that you don't have to water-bath can the jars. The veggies will keep, stored in a cool place, for months. I've used the Joy of Pickling, Nourishing Traditions, and Preserving Food without Freezing or Canning books for basic recipes.

Some good, basic info on kimchi can be found here, and here. The first link is a fun but bawdy romp about kimchi goodness. Enjoy!


Thursday, June 4, 2009


(The picture above is of a young wood nettle.)

I've been meaning to write about the wonderful nettle plant for a while now. Nettles are one of those miracle plants that are ridiculously good for you, as well as also providing the human family with cordage, cloth, and tasty beer or wine. However it is getting close to when the wood nettles I gather will flower, and then they are not so good to eat. I've read that after stinging nettle (urtica dioica) and wood nettles (larportea candadensis) flower, that consuming them could cause kidney damage. Plus, they get pretty tough and gravelly so they're just not as good as in the early spring. So, I want to go harvest more nettles while I can! Of course, you can harvest nettles in the summer and use them dried for a terrific tea or infusion.

Wood nettles grow in profusion here in our valley. Strangely enough, I have yet to find stinging nettles here. Wood nettles are just as packed with nutrition, vitamins and minerals, as the stinging nettle, so if you find wood nettles, feel free to use them just as you would stinging nettles. Wood nettles sting just as much as stinging nettles, so beware!

Wood nettles like to grow by forest streams or rivers. Stinging nettles prefer sunny areas. If you have a creek or stream or river near you, look along the banks for nettles. If you get stung by the nettles, jewelweed is usually growing nearby. Cut the stem of the jewelweed and it will ease the nettles sting. So do dock and plantain leaves. Stick some plantain in your pocket before heading out to gather nettles.

So, rather than read me trying to give you a full appreciation of nettles, read this article at Susan Weed's Wise Woman's Herbal Zine, here. I just read it this morning, and it will tell you all I would have said about nettles only better. Corinna Wood does a great job. The herbalists who write for Susan Weed's ezine have a habit of referring to their favorite plants as "she." That's fine by me, the info is there and well-presented.

If you are feeling run-down or under the weather, an infusion of nettles is invaluable. It's very healing. Expressed nettle juice has been used to good effect with convalescing patients in many countries. The infusion is green and very tasty. It even tastes green. I use a tiny bit of sea salt in mine and the infusion, warm or cold, is welcomed by my entire body.

I have many quarts of nettles frozen already, a gallon or so of nettle wine, and a quart jar of nettle tincture. But I need more! Both for eating and drying, since I want to have a good supply of it dried for winter-time tea.

I'll leave you with "The Glory of Nettles," then, and I'll go do what I really want to do: harvest more nettles!

Here's a couple of paragraphs from Wood's article, just as a teaser. Do read the entire article:
So why would you want to meddle with nettle? She is a veritable cornucopia of nutrients: calcium, magnesium, iron, B complex vitamins, C complex, vitamins A, D and K. She has protein, cobalt, trace minerals, potassium, zinc, copper and sulphur.

Nettles are especially rich in chlorophyll, which is only one molecule removed from hemoglobin, so they feed the blood. Add in nettle’s bounty of iron and it adds up to a fortifying tonic for anyone who is anemic or for pregnant, lactating, or menstruating women.

Nettle has also long been revered for its benefits to the kidneys and adrenals. The kidneys allow us to expel toxins and the adrenals help us to respond to stress (think adrenaline), so given the challenges of modern life, most folks can benefit profoundly from nettle’s medicinal properties. Additionally, she offers relief from seasonal allergies, strengthens the bones, hair and nails and nurtures the lungs, nervous, hormonal and immune systems – that covers a lot of ground.

One of the wonderful things about nettle is that her nutritional benefits are delivered in a very balanced form and are easily assimilated and absorbed into our systems.

Nettle is one of my favorite foraged foods. As such, I'll come back to it later. In the meantime, enjoy the article!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Simple Medicines in the Making

I've been busy gathering wild plants and making simple (but effective) medicines for my family's use. These extracts, infused oils and wines are easy to make, really no trouble at all. All you need is the plant: flower, seed, leaf, twig, root, bark; clean jars; alcohol; extra virgin olive oil and/or lard; and water, sugar, maybe a few other ingredients.

For the extracts, or tinctures, all I do is wash and chop up the plant, put it into a clean and sterilized jar, cover it with alcohol (usually vodka or rum or brandy), label it and put it aside for six weeks. After the six weeks, I strain out the herb (which goes into the compost), rebottle the extract, and label it again with contents and date. Then I store it until I need it.

For salves, I was and lightly dry the plant material. Then it too is chopped and put into a clean jar and covered with olive oil. This waits its month or six weeks, then it is strained. The oil is then warmed slightly in a double boiler on the stove, beeswax is added and when it is all melted, it is poured into little (clean, sterilized) jars. It will cool and become solid, voila, a medicinal salve.

Wine is a little trickier, but not much. The plant material is put in a big pot, so much water added, and boiled for a short time, depending on the recipe. Then sugar is added, and the mix is cooler to room temperature. Yeast is then added, along with yeast nutrient (if called for in the recipe). For me, for these simple wines, I have used baker's yeast and a small piece of toast for the nutrient. I am planning on getting the real wine-making stuff, but that's waiting on a trip to town.

Here's what's in the works:

Nettle--for its vitamin/minerals and general nutritional properties
Horsetail--for the silica, for bones, skin, nails, hair and maybe calcium (see earlier post)
Roots--a combo of dandelion roots, burdock root and yellow dock root--all excellent for the liver
Red Clover Blossom--blood cleansing, nutritional
Catnip/Skullcap/Chamomile--my sleepytime nervine, for tense times
Jewelweed--for poison ivy (use the extract with clay to dry the rash, draw out the poison)

Infused Oils
Jewelweed--for poison ivy (for a salve)

2 gallons of dandelion wine
1.5 gallon of nettle wine
2 gallon of sassafrass wine

OK, so the wines aren't strictly medicinal. :) The recipes I used, all of them from Jack Keller's fabulous wine making page at I'm an absolute beginner at this, and I don't know if the wines will be palatable or not. Last year's dandelion wine was very tasty so we'll see. I'm betting they'll be drinkable. If they're good or even really good, that'll be a plus! And like I said, making these products doesn't require much time, money, special ingredients, or even effort. Take a baby step and try a few things.

I've been foraging and gathering so many things that I see I've neglected to write about some of them, nettles for one. So stay tuned, I'll get to it.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

A Foraging Morning

Today is Sunday, and I took some Amish strawberries down to the barn to see if Fred and I could sell them. They are higher in cost that the berries currently selling in our local grocery stores, but these are organically grown, freshly picked lucious strawberries. They sold, no problem.

Once home, I went down to harvest some of the asparagus that grows wild at the bottom of the hillside. There was a goodly bunch of it, so I picked it to give to a neighbor. I've been harvesting lots of asparagus, so it was time to pass some on.

Then I picked a bunch of lambquarters, growing wild nearby at the top of the hillside. Got enough for dinner tonight. I also picked a lot of wild horsetail, to dry some for tea, and to make a tincture with the , rest. More on horsetail in a bit.

Let's see, then I saw a slew of red clover blossoms and naturally enough, went all over hill and dale getting a bag full of them. As a forager, I ALWAYS carry plastic bags, a Swiss Army knife, and all the rest of my foraging tools are in the car (shovel, hand trowel, root digger thingy, zillions of plastic bags, etc.).

In about an hour, I gathered enough horsetail for tea and medicine; enough red clover blossoms for the same purposes; and enough lambs quarters for a hearty side dish. Of course, processing it all takes a bit more time. Everything gets washed and rinsed, then cut up if that's part of the deal, and processed (i.e., putting out to dry or putting in a jar with vodka poured over to make tincture, chopped to eat, etc.). This all takes another hour or so. But it is work I enjoy, so I can't even really call it work (unless I'm talking to my husband, whereupon I rely heavily on the concept of all this activity being work).

I also gathered a bunch of melilot (melilotus officinalis), which I recognized for the first time today. YEAH. In early spring, the leaves are tasty and quite edible. Being as it is a bit later in spring, I didn't harvest it to eat, but to dry. I'll use the leaves in tea, as well as make a nice toilet water with it and some other herbs. Melilot has a wonderful vanilla scent to it, smells like you'd want to put it in cookies and such. I'll probably powder some dried leaves and do exactly that.

On horsetail, I've written about this herb a while ago. It is a rich source of silicon, a necessary and important trace mineral. One day, I was reading another blog and what books the blog author recommends, and I came across this bit:

Louis Kervran was a biological researcher who discovered decades ago that biological creatures routinely transmute chemical elements. He's still almost completely unknown, and scoffed at by people terrified of the changing their thinking even a tiny bit. One of many implications of his work: to build calcium in your body, you do not eat calcium, but organic silica, which your body changes to calcium. Kervran's book is Biological Transmutations.

I have yet to find and read Kervran's book, but that bit was really interesting. My thanks to Ran Prieur for his fascinating blog! Anyway, if you need more calcium (and who doesn't?), horsetail tea or tincture might be the thing for you. When Fred broke his elbow last fall, I made him lots of horsetail tea and comfrey tea. He healed readily, at least from the break. His arm is as good as it was prior to the break--but with his Rheumatoid Arthritis, I can't say his arm is "as good as new." Wish I could.

Foraging wild plants for foods and medicines is as old as anything. In a couple of pleasant hours, plants for both food and medicines were easily gathered. Honestly, folks, if you're not already foraging, please consider adding it to your repertoire of skills. The exercise is good for you (walking, bending, twisting, stretching), falling on your butt when your foot slipped on the hillside is good for your character, and certainly, eating and drinking the dishes and drinks you made from God's own free produce is good for you. It's win-win all the way.

The Amazing Hemp Plant--Part II

The "Marihuana" Trick: A Brief History of the Federal Campaign to Destroy Hemp
by Doug Yurchey

Part II

(Part I here)

The campaign against hemp begins. In the 1930s, innovations in farm machinery would have caused an industrial revolution when applied to hemp. This single resource could have created millions of new jobs generating thousands of quality products. Hemp, if not made illegal, would have brought American out of the Great Depression.

William Randolph Hearst (Citizen Kane) and the Hearst Paper Manufacturing Division of Kimberly Clark owned vast acreage of timberlands. The Hearst Company supplied most paper products. Patty Hearst's grandfather, a destroyer of nature for his own personal profit, stood to lose billions because of hemp.

In 1937, Dupont patented the processes to make plastics from oil and coal. Dupont's annual report that year urged stockholders to invest in its new petrochemical division. Synthetics such as plastics, cellophane, celluloid, methanol, nylon, rayon, Dacron, etc. could now be made from oil. Natural hemp industrialization would have ruined over 80 percent of Dupont's business.

Politics and special interests. Andrew Mellon became Hoover's Secretary of the Treasury and Dupont's primary investor. He appointed his future nephew-in-law Harry J. Anslinger to head the Federal Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs.

Secret meetings were hald by these financial tycoons. Hemp was declared dangerous and a threat to their billion dollar enterprises. For their dynasties to remain intact, hemp had to go. These men took an obscure Mexican slang word "marihuana" and pushed it into the consciousness of America.

Media manipulation. A media blitz to poison the public mind against the use of hemp while renaming it marihuana raged in the late 1920s and 1930s. Hearst's newspapers ran stories enphasizing the horrors of marihuana. The menace of marihuana made headlines. Readers learned that it was responsible for everything from car accidents to loose morality.

Films like "Reefer Madness" (1936), "Marihuana: Assassin of Youth" (1935), and "Marihuana: The Devil's Weed" (1936) were propaganda pieces designed by these industrialists to gain public support for the passage of anti-marihuana laws.

Reefer Madness, the best known of the three films, characterized marihuana as "a violent narcotic" that compelled people to commit "acts of shocking violence," caused "incurable insanity" and had "soul-destroying effects." The film even depicts a man who, while under the influence of the marihuana, "killed his entire family with an axe" and explained that "the menace of marihuana" is "more viscious, more deadly even that these soul-destroying drugs (heroin, cocaine)!"

Reefer Madness did not end with the usual "The End." The film concluded with these words plastered on the screen: "TELL YOUR CHILDREN."

In the 1930s, people were very naive; even to the point of ignorance. The masses were like sheep waiting to be led by the few in power. They did not challenge authority. If the news were in print or on the radio, they believed it had to be true. They told their children and their children grew up to be parents of the baby boomers.

On April 14, 1937, the Prohibitive Marihuana Tax Law, the bill that outlawed hemp, was directly brought to the House Ways and Means Committee. This committee is the only one that can introduce a bill to the House floor without it being debated by other committees. The chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, Robert Doughton, was a Dupont supporter. He insured that the bill would be passed by Congress.

Dr. James Woodward, a physician and attorney, testified too late on behalf of the American Medical Association (AMA). He told the committee that the reason the AMA had not publicly opposed the Marihuana Tax Law sooner was that the association had just discovered that marihuana was/is hemp.

Few people, at the time, realized that the deadly menace they had been reading about on Hearst's front pages was in fact passive hemp. The AMA understood hemp to be a MEDICINE found in numerous healing products sold over the last hundred years.

In September, 1937, hemp became illegal. The most useful crop known to man becaem a drug and our planet has been suffering ever since.

Congress banned hemp because it was said to be the most violence-causing drug known. Anslinger, head of the Drug Commission for 31 years, promoted the idea that marihuana made users act extremely violent. In the 1950s, when America was preparing to fight the communist threat, Anslinger claimed the exact opposite: marijuana will pacify you so much that soldiers would not want to fight.

Today our planet is in desperate trouble. Earth is suffocating as large tracts of rain forests disappear. Pollution, poisons and chemicals are killing people. These great problems could be reversed if we industrialized hemp. Natural biomass could provide all of the planet's energy needs that are currently supplied by products made from crude oil. Hemp could be the solution to soaring gas prices and petrochemical pollution.

The wonder plant. Hemp has a higher quality fiber than wood fiber. For fewer caustic chemicals are required to make paper from hemp than from trees. Hemp paper does not turn yellow and is very durable. The plant grows quickly to maturity in a season where trees take decades.

All plastics should be made from hemp oil. Hempen plastics are biodegradable. Over time, they would break down and not harm the environment. Oil-based plastics, the ones we are very familiar with, help ruin nature; they do not break down and are causing great harm. The process to produce the vast array of natural (hempen) plastics will not ruin the rivers as Dupont and other petrochemical companies have done. Ecology does not fit in with the plans of the oil industry and the political machine. Hemp products are safe and natural.

Medicines should be made from hemp. We should go back to the days when the AMA supported hemp cures. "Medical marihuana" is given out legally to only a handful of people while the rest of us are forced into a system that relies on chemicals. Hemp is only healthy for the human body.

World hunger could end. A large variety of food products can be generated from hemp. The seeds contain one of the highest sources of protein in nature. ALSO: They ahve two essential fatty acids that clean your body of excess cholestrol. These essential fatty acids are not found anywhere else in nature! Consuming hemp seeds is the best thing you could do for your body. Eat uncooked hemp seeds.

Clothes should be made from hemp. Hemp clothing is extremely strong and durable over time. You could hand clothing, made from hemp, down to your grandchildren. Today, there are American companies that make hemp clothing; usually 50 percent hemp. Hemp fabrics should be everywhere. Instead, they are almost underground. Superior hemp products are not allowed to advertise on fascist television. Kentucky, once the top hemp producing state, made it illegal to wear hemp clothing. Can you imagine being thrown in jail for wearing quality jeans?

The world is crazy...but that does not mean you have to join the insanity. Get together. Spread the news. Tell people, and that includes your children, the truth. Use hemp products. Eliminate the word "marihuana." Realize the history that created it. Make it politically incorrect to say or print the M-word. Hemp must be utilized in the future. We need a clean energy source to save our planet.

The brainwashing continues. Now, the commercials say: If you buy a joint, you contribute to murders and gang wars. The latest anti-hemp commercials say: If you buy a are supporting TERRORISM! The new enemy (terrorism) has paved the road to brainwash you any way THEY see fit.

There is only one enemy; the friendly people you pay your taxes to; the war-makers and nature destroyers. With your funding, they are killing the world right in front of your eyes. Half a million deaths each year are caused by tobacco; half a million deaths each year are caused by alcohol (and nearly a million people each year die from pharmaceutical drugs).

Ingensting THC, hemp's active agent, has a positive effect; relieving asthma and glaucoma. Hemp tends to allieviate the nausea caused by chemotherapy, causing people's appetites to return so they can take on nutrients and being feeling better so the healing process can begin.
There is physical evidence that hemp is not like any other plant on this planet. One could conclude that it was brought here for the benefit of humanity.

Hemp is illegal because billionaires want to remain billionaires.
End of part II.