Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Herbs 201 ~ Mod 7, Option 1 ~ Effects

Explain the action of demulcent and emollient herbs, using examples.

Demulcent: These kinda herbs create a soothing film over a mucous membrane, which help relieve pain and inflammation of the membrane. Demulcent are used internally. An example of a demulcent would be Slippery Elm (Ulmus fulva). It is the bark that has a mucilage. One can make a tea or gruel from the bark, which is good for soothing either a sore throat or the digestive tract.

Emollient: These kinda herbs help soften and soothe the skin, or soothe a irritated or inflamed internal surface. A good example of a emollient is Black Hollyhock (Alcea rosea L.). One can make a poultice or infusion from the leaves for relieving inflammations, bruises, burns, wounds, boils or abscesses. It's use is similar to that of the Marshmallow (Althea officinalis). The Chileans are known to apply a root decoction for tumors. The Peruvians use the leaves as a poultice by cooking them in oil or milk, to relieve swelling.

Both Demulcent and Emollient herbs are both considered mucilaginous, which creates a soothing coated film over the mucous membrane that protects it from being agitated so it can heal properly without being disturbed. Many herbs like Slippery Elm (Ulmus fulva) and Black Hollyhock (Alcea rosea L.) Can be used both as a Demulcent (internally) or as a Emollient (externally). How the herb is used is based on it's dominate active constituent, it's therapeutic action, or the contraindications of said herb. Slippery Elm (Ulmus fulva) has no known contraindications and Black Hollyhock (Alcea rosea L.) appears to have no known contraindications as well. At least I have not found any in my research on this plant.

Source Cited

ACHS, “Intro: Demulcent Herbs”, http://www.achs.edu, 7/31/2010
ACHS, “Monograph: Ulmus fulva”, http://www.achs.edu, 7/31/2010
Wikidot, “Alcea rosea L. + Malvaceae – HOLLYHOCK”, http://hollyhock.wikidot.com, 7/31/2010
Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, “Emollient”, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emollient, 7/31/2010
Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, “Demulcent”, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demulcent, 7/31/2010
Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, “Ulmus rubra”, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ulmus_rubra, 7/31/2010
Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia,”Alcea rosea”, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcea_rosea, 7/31/2010
MedicineNet.com, “Demulcent definition - Medical Dictionary”, http://www.medterms.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=11142, 7/31/2010
Dictionary.com, “Emollient”, http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/emollient, 7/31/2010

Herbs 201 ~ Mod 6, Option 1 ~ Effects

Describe the system of the body with which diaphoretic herbs are associated. Explain how diaphoretic herbs effect the body.

Diaphoretic herbs help induce perspiration in the skin of the body, allowing it to release toxins and waste through it's pores. If the pores are clogged the bloodstream ends up getting backup with all these toxins and waste, which can cause the whole system to work a lot harder, which can cause problems.

There are two main classes of diaphoretic herbs, depending on the conditions.

If the client's skin is cold and they have a weak pulse you will want to stimulate blood flow by using a stimulating diaphoretic herb like say, Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) or Sage (Salvia officinalis).

If they have hot, dry skin and a steady normal pulse you will want to use a relaxing diaphoretic like say, Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) or Yarrow (Achillea millefolium).

Stimulating diaphoretic herbs stimulate the local nerves of the sudoriferos glands, which are small tube like pocket located just beneath the skin (in the subcutaneous tissue). This causes you to heat up and increase perspiration.

Relaxing diaphoretic herbs stimulate the periphery sensory nerves that relax and dilate the superficial capillaries and vessels. This increases blood flow which causes an increase in perspiration.

Source Cited

ACHS; Her 201, Mod 6, Intro: Diaphoretic Herbs, http://www.achs.edu, 07/23/10,

Herbs 201 ~ Mod 5, Option 7 ~ (Part II)

Choose a day and drink appropriate herbal diuretic teas or infusions. Consider the best time of day to take your diuretic tea or infusion. Discuss your experience including why you used the herbs you selected, what dosage you used, and what time or times of day you took it. Be sure to check any contraindications before conducting this practical. Monitor your urine output versus liquid intake the day before your practical, the day of, and the day after. What differences do you see?

Herb: Uva Ursi
Latin Name: Arctostaphylos uva ursi
Also Known As: Arberry, BearBerry, Bear's Grape, Crowberry, Foxberry, Hog Cranberry, Kinnikinnick, Mealberry, Mountain Box, Mountain Cranberry, Mountain Tobacco, Sandberry, Upland Cranberry
Parts Used: Leaves

I chose Uva ursi because of it's ability to disinfect the urinary tract, point blank. None of it's other purposes seem to relate to me. Uva ursi is also used to treat arthritis, bronchitis, bladder inflammation, cystitis (acute and chronic), diabetes, enuresis (involuntary discharge of urine), kidney stones and congestion, leucorrhoea, nephritis, uric acid deposits, urethritis, and pyelitis. It's also used as a prostate tonic. According to the Mod 5 monograph, Uva ursi is only effective if the urine is alkaline as it need to be activated to produce hydroquinone which is a type of phenol which it must produce from the inactive esters, arbutin.

Note: Along with this tea I drank a cup distill water with a teaspoon of baking soda, which the monograph saids will increase the alkalinity of the urine and entice greater action from the Uva ursi.

Contraindications: Uva ursi is high in tannin which can cause kidney damage if used over a long period of time and it is recommended that it be used as a cold infusion so you get lest tannin and more allantoin. One should not use it for more than a month without consultanting your primary caretaker. So since Cleaver also has tannin in it I have decided to make as a cold infusion tea. Also avoid acidic juices and fruits. Also you should avoid if you are pregnant, have a kidney disorders, irritated digestive conditions, acidic urine, or in conjunction with remedies that cause acidic urine.

Because I wanted to do this as a cold infusion a steeping tea to lower the tannin levels, I tripled the steeping time. This is purely an experiment and have no way to know whether this is the right way since every site I looking up gave a different time it seem. I averaged out all the suggested steeping times and this is what I came up with. If someone can give me a better way to do cold infusion that be great!

Cleaver | Uva ursi cold infusion tea:

3 teaspoons of Cleaver 3 teaspoons of Uva ursi
A pitcher filled with 4 cups of distilled spring water

Mix herbs in a bowl then place in pitcher and pour water over it. Let it soak for 5 hours then strain and place in refrigerator. Next day, starting around 10am drink about 3 cups by 12pm..

The day before was normal as was my bathroom runs. I drink a healthy amount of water everyday so I urinate quite regular. Early evening I made my tea and refrigerated before going to bed.

The next day I started my morning at 6am and had a light breakfast (small bowl of cereal). Usually I have a large breakfast. By 10am my stomach was pretty much empty (diuretics work best on a empty stomach). So I had a cup of tea. By noon I had drank all the tea (3 ½ cups actually). Within an hour after the first cup, I notice that I was urinating longer, but was going to the restroom no more frequent than normal. Within an hour after the last cup I noticed a definite rise in the length of my urinating time in the restroom, but still not more frequent. I went to bed at 10pm. I got up twice during the evening to go to the restroom (I never get up to go to the restroom during the evening). The next day I got up to my normal routine. Urine was definitely back to water down cheap beer color.

Source Cite

1. Hoffmann, David; An Elders' Herbal; 1st Edition; Rochester, Vt; Healing Arts Press; 1993, pp. 205-206
2. Ibid, pp. 214
3. Brown, Deni; Encyclopedia of Herbs; 1st Edition; New York, NY; Dorling Kindersley Publishing Inc; 1995; pp. 86
4. Ibid, pp. 2855. Foster & Johnson; Desk Reference to Nature's Medicine; 1st Edition; Washington, D.C.; National Geographic Society; 2006; pp. 32-33

1. ACHS; Herb 201 Mod 5 , Diuretic Herbs; http://www.achs.edu (link is really long); 7/01/2010
2. lbid, Herb 201 Mod 5, Uva ursi or Bearberry 3. lbid, Herb 201 Mod 5, Cleavers 4. lbid, Herb 201 Mod 5, Cystitis: Bladder Infection.
5. Wiki; Bearberry; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bearberry; 7/01/2010
6. Wiki; Galium aparine; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cleavers; 7/01/2010

Herbs 201 ~ Mod 5, Option 7 ~ (Part I)

Choose a day and drink appropriate herbal diuretic teas or infusions. Consider the best time of day to take your diuretic tea or infusion. Discuss your experience including why you used the herbs you selected, what dosage you used, and what time or times of day you took it. Be sure to check any contraindications before conducting this practical. Monitor your urine output versus liquid intake the day before your practical, the day of, and the day after. What differences do you see?

I have chosen to use Cleaver, Galium aparine and Uva Ursi, Arctostaphylos uva-ursi for my Practical Lab. Recently I noticed my urine was way darker than normal and it's odor over powering. So I decided it wouldn't hurt to do a good flushing of my system.

Herb: Cleaver,
Latin Name: Galium aparine goes
Also Known As: Stickywilly, Common Bedstraw, Goose Grass, Goosegrass, Cleavers, Catchweed Bedstraw, Cleaverwort, Scarthgrass, White Hedge.
Part used: All parts accept the roots is used.

I chose Cleaver cause it increases the amount of toxicity eliminated by the kidneys. It also helps cleanse the liver of toxins as well as stimulate the lymphatic system, which is a system that helps move waste and toxins out of the body. If the glands get swollen the system will slow down and the thing that the glands are meant to help get rid of can actually damage the gland if they are allowed to clog them. And it also helps by thinning the blood and keeping it flowing which can help with high blood pressure which has do do with the presence of the constituent asperuloside, a substance that is converted into prostaglandins by the body. Prostaglandins also helps regulate calcium movement, which helps in

preventing kidney stones. So over all, cleaver is a great diuretic herb.
Contraindications: Cleaver is considered safe for the most part. But due to a lack of scientific data, it's recommended that one uses caution in it's use. Especially if you are pregnant, breastfeeding or diabetic. Also it is a strong astringent due to it's high levels of tannin, so try not to use for long terms as this can actually cause damage to the kidneys.

Note:Continues in next post.

Herbs 201 ~ Mod 4, Option 4 ~ Herb Uses (Part II)

Choose two of the emmenagogue herbs we studied and make use of them for medicinal or culinary purposes. Discuss your experience. Be sure to check any contraindications before use.

Herb:Red Raspberry
Latin Name: Rubus idaeus
Parts Used: Leaves, fruits, roots and stems
Properties: Is a emmenagogue, alterative, stimulant, styptic, tonic and a astringent herb that tones the uterine muscles during pregnancy.

Medicinal: The main two uses they have is 1. It can be used to relieve menstrual cramps with a feeling of heaviness. 2. It's used to tone and strengthen the tissue and muscle of the uterus. Drinking it during the last few months of pregnancy to tone the muscles to assist contractions and check bleeding in labor.
It also can be used externally to treat tonsillitis, mouth inflammation, sores, conjunctivitis, minor wounds, burns and varicose ulcers.

Preparation: OK! I just like to eat them. But my mom was tested and told her body was low on Iron. She loves teas, so I told her to start drinking red raspberry tea. My mom went and bought some and tried it and she seems to like it.

Here is how she prepared it as per my instructions.

Take about 1oz of red raspberry leaf and steep in 2 cups of boiling water for 5 to 10 minutes and strain through a cheese cloth into a mug. Add honey to sweeten since raspberry leaves are kinda blah. lol

Contraindications: Although this herb is commonly used in pregnancy, Dr. Francis Brinker says in his book Herb Contraindications and Drug Interactions that it is contraindicated where there is a history of precipitate labors. He also claims it has antigonadotropic activity.

History and Folklore: The use of red raspberry Leaves dates back to ancient Greeks and Romans. I haven't found anymore than that. Haven't been able to find any history on it's use as a wine though there were wineries producing it as a wine since at least the 1800's

Source Cited

1. Brown, Deni. The Herb Society Of America, ENCYCLOPIDIA of HERBS & THEIR USES, 1st Edition. New York, NY: Dorling Kindersley Publishing Inc, 1995, pp. 373,
2. Ibid, pp. 223
3. Ibid, pp. 194
4. Ibid, pp. 344
5. Moore, Michael. Medicinal Plants of the Pacific West, 1st Edition. Santa Fe, NM: Red Crane Books, 2001, pp. 305
6. Bremness, Lesley. The Complete Book OF HERBS, A practical guide to growing & using herbs, 1st Edition. New York, NY: Penguin Books USA Inc, 1994, pp. 247-248,

Herbs 201 ~ Mod 4, Option 4 ~ Herb Uses (Part I)

Choose two of the emmenagogue herbs we studied and make use of them for medicinal or culinary purposes. Discuss your experience. Be sure to check any contraindications before use.

...It is of an heating and digesting qualitie, and is profitable for the stomacke.
~John Gerald, 1597

Herb: Ginger
Latin Name: Zingiber officinale
Parts Used: Rhizomes, oils
Properties: Is a sweet, pungent, aromatic herb. It can raise perspiration, improve digestion, liver function and ease nausea, vomiting, and coughing. It is a stimulate that can help circulation. A antispasmodic and pain reliever.

Medicinal: Ginger is very popular internally for easing morning sickness, indigestion, colds, coughs and a host of other symptoms. Externally it is commonly used as a antispasmodic to relieve menstrual cramps, spasmodic pain and rheumatism. There is tons of uses within Chinese medicine as well, but my focus is Western medicine right now. I don't want to spread myself out to far yet. Focus on becoming adept at one system first, though I have every intention of delving into both Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine at a later date.

Preparation: I love Ginger tea and I tend to have digestion problems quite often. So I drink ginger to settle my stomach. Here is how I prepare it. I take about 3oz of sliced Ginger and put it in a teapot and pour 2 cups of boiling water over it and cover the pot. I let it steep for 15 to 20 minutes then strain it through a small square of cheese cloth over a mug. Kick back and relax and ya! Yum!!!

Two of my friends are pregnant right now and I have recommend it to them to combat morning sickness.

Contraindications: Ginger has no known toxic side effects, but some may experience heart burn and too much could cause a reverse effect of what it was intended for, and make the stomach upset. Some folks are sensitive to it's strong tangy taste. There are no known ill effect for pregnant mamas. But I would still suggest staying on the side of caution and using in small doses.
History and Folklore: The Romans brought Ginger west from Asia. It can be found in the Koran and Hindu writings and Confucius mentions it. So it's oldest documented use is dated around 650 BCE. It was brought to Europe by the Roman soldiers where it became second to the pepper in popularity. In the Roman Empire it was used more as a medicinal than culinary herb. The use of Ginger as a medicinal is actually older than it's use as a culinary spice and is one of the few herbs to have almost everyone of it's medicinal claims verified scientifically.

Note:This paper continues in next post.

Herbs 201 ~ Mod 3, Option 2 ~ Herb Actions

Explain each of the following actions and use examples:
1. Vermifuges 2. Vermicides 3. Taenifuges 4. Taenicides

All for of these kinds of herbs are called Anthelmintic herbs, in that they can either expell or destroy different kinds of parasites or worms. These kind of herbs are the 4 actions that Anthelmintic herbs are broken up into.

1.Vermifuges: These are herbs that expel basic intestinal worms from the body. Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis) is a vermifuges herb. The hyssop oils from the flower is used in the form of a hot infusion to expel intestinal worms along with related therapy, good hygiene and nutrition. Note: It has been used since Biblical times and is mention in the Bible, Psalms 51:7, “Purge me with Hyssop, and I shall be clean”. No doubt they were speaking of worms, no?

2.Vermicides: These are herbs that kill basic intestinal worms from the body. Wormwood (Artemisia absinthum) is a vermicide herb. It has been used in India to kill intestinal worms and still is to day. Interesting note: They say it was used to kill tapeworms as well, even though they list it as a vermicide, not a taenicide herb, and was used by the Greek, Romans, Arabs and Persians to expel intestinal worms which would make it a vermifuges herb, which it is not listed as either. .

3.Taenifuges:These are herbs that expel Tapeworms from the body. Pumpkin Seeds (Cucuribita pepo) is a vermicide. The expressed oil of the seed is used in the form of a infusion or the emulsion or one to two tablespoons of crushed seeds with honey in three doses spread out over 6 hours. Note: They say the seeds from the West Indies is strong than American pumpkin seeds.

4.Taenicides: These are herbs that kill Tapeworms. It was not easy finding a strictly taenicides herb. Ripwort Plantain (Plantago lanceolata) turns out to be a taenicides herb widely used in Ethiopia to kill tapeworms in children in the form of a infusion from it's dry seeds. Note: The Plantain monograph in Module 2 mentions that it is a anthelmintic herb used for worms but doesn't say it was a taenicides herbs.

Source cited

RBC Herbal; Parasite Cleansing; http://drclarkia.com; 06/15/10.
Divine Remedy; Wormwood Uses; http://www.divineremedies.com/wormwood.htm; 06/15/10.
Global Herbal Supply; Hyssop; http://www.globalherbalsupplies.com/herb_information/hyssop.htm; 06/15/10.
The Bible; Psalms 51:7; 06/16/10.
Protabase Record; Plantago lanceolata L.; http://database.prota.org/PROTAhtml/Plantago%20lanceolata_En.htm; 06/16/16.
Herbal Nation Blog; Pumpkin Seed; http://herbalnation.blogspot.com/2008/09/pumpkin-seed-cucurbita-pepo-medicinal.html; 06/16/10.

Herbs 201 ~ Mod 2, Option 3 ~ What are active constituents?

Discuss three from any of the herbs studied in this lesson.
(All three need not be in one herb).

The Active constituents is the chemically active part or the plant that does the healing. A plant can produce several active constituents, where usually one is the dominate. Depending on which we need, there are several ways to draw and isolate them for use either by ingestion or topically. Steeping in teas, infusions, decoctions, tintures, fluid extracts, fomentations, ointments & salves, poultices, syrups.

The plants metabolism uses the sun to make simple sugars through photosynthesis which is partially responsible for making active constituents.

There are many different types of active constituents. Here are three.

1. Flavonoids: Flavonoids are what give flowers and fruit their color, and in some cases the leaves as well. Flavonoids are known for their actions as antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral and antiallergenics.

The herb Red Clover (Latin: Trifolium pratense) has been found to be rich in a flavonoids called isoflavone. Red Clover isoflavones is believe to help maintain the density of the bones in both menopausal and peri-menopausal women.

NOTE: For the ancient Celtic priesthood of Druids , clovers were a symbol of the Earth, Sea and Sky which are the three realms of Druidry. Just thought I toss that in there. ;-)

2. Glycosides: Glycosides have a strong affect on animal and body tissue and some are real poisonous. Using water they can be separated into sugar and non-sugar.

The herb Plantain (Latin: Plantago major) has the active constituent, glycoside aucubin, which is known to have both healing and analgesic effect on bladder infections and stomach ulcers. It also has potential hepatoprotective and anti-inflammatory actions.

3. Allicin: Allicin is a constituent found in garlic oil if I'm reading this right. Allicin is created when garlic (Latin: Allium sativum) is finely chopped or crushed. Allicin has strong antibiotic properties. It's great as an anti-fungal in the treatment of skin infections and athlete's foot.

Source cited

WebMD; Menopause Symptoms: Natural Remedies; http://www.webmd.com/menopause/guide/8-natural-ways-to-ease-menopause-symptoms; 06/04/10
Garlic Central; Allicin – Health; http://www.garlic-central.com/allicin.html; 06/04/10

Herbs 201 ~ Mod 1, Option 2 ~ Essay

Where do I began? I believe I did a short version of this in my first class, but I shall try to go into greater depth this time around. I can't pin point the moment my interest in herbalism first began, but I can piece together what led me to where I am now.

I'll begin by saying that my spiritual beliefs and my membership within Ár nDraíocht Féin; A Druid Fellowship (ADF) play a major role in where I am going with my herbal studies.

I have been a practicing Druid for going on 26 years and actually stepped on the path of earth centered spirituality at the age of 16.
As long as I can remember, I have always been what I would call a nature nerd. As a kid my bookshelves and window sill was covered with leaves, twigs, pine cones, acorns, walnuts and any seeds I found. When my brothers and sister were off playing I be in the yard helping my grandfather doing the yard work or helping my grandma re-potting her plants. As a young teenager I loved to wander the Los Padres in my hometown.

I had a infinity for trees and in my early 20's I joined the California Conservation Corp for a year. Then I met my mentor in Boulder, CO who first set me feet to the Druidic path. Later at 24 I got involved with EarthFirst! and was involved with the Redwood Summer rally. Around this time I begin to realized I was starting to pick up a little here and there and thought it be cool to actually learn about herbs .
Over the years I continue to pick up a bit here and a bit there on herbalism. I worked on a few organic farms and started to get really interested in sustainable living and homesteading. By my mid 30's I had decided I wanted to homestead and started really researching and learning all I could.

During this time I went out with a lass who was training to be a midwife and this was my first real introduction to herbalism. I had wandered through a few ICs (intentional communities) and realized that the medical field was the one area they were not looking seriously at. Oh many dabbled in kitchen herbalism, but there were very few medically trained herbalist. It was strange too. There were a lot of trained masseuses and yoga instructors and Reiki practitioners and energy workers. But medically trained herbalist were majorly lacking in numbers. Being organic farming seemed to be at the center of this whole movement I would have expected herbalist to be at the top of the list among these communities. I started studying herbalism seriously on my own.

In 2003 I joined ADF and a homesteading plan begun to formulate in my mind. At first I was thinking purely a Druidic farm. My hearth culture is Gaelic,so it didn't take long for my work with herbs to attract Airmid to me. In 2007 I contacted Chris at Austrasian College about my interested in the Master Herbalist program. It took me 2 more years before I was finally able to find the funding to enter ACHS. In that 2 years I was encourage by my friends and the leadership within ADF to start a Order dedicated to Airmid and work towards getting a herbal training program going within ADF. I formed Ord na Airmid, and begun planning how to go about setting up a Druidic monastery and herb farm. I begun my work on my Dedicant studies. It will take me a year to complete that then start my Clergy Studies. My goal is to earn my clergyhood about the time I complete my herbal schooling and get my certification as a Master Herbalist. Education, knowledge, science and scholarship is taken seriously within Druidry and believe there should be accountability in any field one claims to practice. Hence my desire to get certified by a respected accredited college. My specific tradition follows the path of Knowledge (herbalism), Devotion (Airmid) & Service (tending to the health of the poor & needy). So you see I will be able to meet all three paths as a herbalist. Oh and for those who do not know, Airmid is the goddess of herbalism in the Gaelic hearth of Druidry. If you are interested you can read a great piece about her at: http://www.seanet.com/~inisglas/airmid.html

The picture above is of me at the Earthfirst Redwood Summer rally. Darryl Cherney is on guitar. My work within the environmental movement played probably the greatest role in my interest in herbalism because I studied the eco-system of the great red giants and I became fascinated by the diverse plant life that depended on them.

So what do I hope to gain from this course? A deeper and better scientific understanding of herbs to compliment my spiritual understanding and relationship with them. To help not only preserve a practiced once revered among my ancestors, but also teach it to others. And to be able to offer alternative healthcare to the needy who can't normally afford it.

Some who know me are probably wondering, "What about Brighid? Isn't she you matron?" Yes and no. Brighid is more like my spiritual mother. She has seen fit to foster me off to Airmid. So I am a child of Brighid, a Devotee of Airmid. It's actually a beautiful relationship, since my mother is a goddess of healing as well.

Beannachd leat!

Update: Laptop Virus

Wow! It's been awhile since I have posted to my blog. I am so sorry! I recently got a virus in my laptop and am waiting for my new laptop to arrive. In the mean time I have manage to get limited access to my laptop (still won't let me access the net). I can't remember if I backed up all my school papers on my external harddrive (A friend has it). So I have decided to post them here and back them up by doing so. So the following string of post will be those papers from my Herbs 201 class. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Wild Remedy: Grassroots Herbalism from our Backyards & Beyond

As many of you know I am going to school as a student of herbal medicine. I read several blogs written by some great herbalist. One that I read religiously is Kiva Rose's Blog

She will be doing a Teleseminar on the 9th. Info can be found at the link Wild Remedy.

If you been interested in herbalism but been turned off by the new agey stuff you find in your urban community, then Kiva's blog is what you are looking for. She is old school and one of the people in the fore front of the rewilder movement that I see finally starting to catch on. (a few of my ADF friends seem to have come down with a touch of the rewilder bug. lol). Kiva shares her wisdom of the earth without all the flowery new age speech. Yet she writes with a wisdom that belies her years. Young ladies looking for a good role model could not do better.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Module 6 - Option 1
Herbal Dish ~ Using fresh herbs

Choose two or more of your favorite culinary herbs, preferably herbs that you have growing in your herb garden or in pots, but dried is also acceptable. Use your herbs to create at least one dish that you have not made before. Report on your experience at the discussion board.

Growing up, my grandma cooked a lot of food using pasta. One of me and my little brother's favorite meals was her American style Goulash. She made it with hamburger meat, egg shell pasta, corn, tomato sauce, garlic and salt. It was delicious, but I imagine probably not very healthy. It was all run of the mill grocery store stuff. I thought, Hmmm, wonder if I could change it. Make it organic. Looking at recipes of goulash I realized that grandma's recipes was not real goulash anyway. Just a American dish she decided to call goulash. Anyway I decided to re-invent my grandma's recipe. I'm ½ Romani (how I got the last name Villalobos), so to honor my heritage I call my recipe “Organic Gypsy Goulash”.

Organic Gypsy Goulash

You will need the following ingredients:

1lbs Organic Ground Buffalo Meat
4 cups Organic Shells Whole Grain Spelt Pasta
10 Ripe Tomatoes
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Real Butter (I use Organic Valley)
1 Green Bell Pepper, Chopped
4 Cloves Garlic, Minced
1 Can Organic Corn
¼ Cup Chopped Fresh Basil
¼ Cup of Caraway Seeds
1 Bay Leaf
2 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
2 Pots
1 Large Frying Pan

Bring a pot of water to a boil and put all 10 tomatoes and let boil for about a minute or till the skins start to peel. Remove and let cool then peel off skins and remove seeds best you can. Take 8 of them and run them through a blender. Chop the other 2 into small squares.

In another pot over medium heat cook the garlic, corn and bell pepper in the olive oil and butter for about 5 minutes then add the blended tomatoes, chopped tomatoes, basil, caraway seeds and the bay leaf and stir it up good, cover and let simmer for 1 ½ hours over low heat. Stir the tomato paste in and let simmer another ½ hour. Cook the pasta in another pot, and fry up the buffalo meat in a pan and then add the tomato sauce and meat to the pot of pasta, cover and let simmer for another hour. Remove the bay leaf and serve.


You could cheat and just buy organic tomato sauces in the jar but that take half the fun away. I really do believe food taste better when made from scratch with your own hands. The goulash is yummy and filling and can feed a lot of folks for pennies on the dollar, and with the present economy, eating healthy on a budget is important. Never can go wrong with pasta when trying to stretch the budget.

I cooked this over a campfire so you will have to judge what medium and low heat is. Medium for me was a low fire and low was cooking over hot coals.

NOTE: Garlic, basil and bay leaves are pretty popular and well known for their uses. Caraway is not so well known. Below are some facts.

Medicinal Uses of Caraway Seeds:
Caraway is related to dill, fennel and anise and has been thought to have many of the same medicinal properties - an antiseptic, antispasmodic, carminative, and digestive. It's been used to stimulate milk production in mothers as well as treat infant colic and is often used to flavor children's medicines

Cite References
Our herb garden; History of Caraway; http://www.ourherbgarden.com/herb-history/caraway.html; 01/18/10
allrecipes.com; Homemade Tomato Sauce; http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Homemade-Tomato-Sauce-I/Detail.aspx; 01/18/10 (modified recipe)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Module 5 – Option 2
Herbal Shampoo ~ For the treatment of dry hair/scalp and dandruff

Review the tables of problem areas of the eyes, hair, skin, and teeth. Note in your alphabetical notebook any problem areas you experience, and steps that you can take to address these.

I have major dandruff and had tried everything to no true avail. I finally decided to make my own herbal dandruff shampoo. Armed with the internet, Youtube and the ingredients on the back of the best herbal shampoos (I recently started using Avalon Organics Revitalizing Shampoo. Wish I could duplicate it, but it has stuff in it that I don't know how to replace). I tried a few different formulas found on Youtube with mix results. I finally decided to just experiment. I ended up settling on four herbs that seemed to be the most common among all the commercially produced herbal shampoos.

These herbs would be the following:

1. Peppermint (Mentha piperita L.)
2. Lavender (Lavandula spp.)
3. Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
4. Jojoba (Simmondsia chinensis)

Each of these herbs treat dry scalps and dandruff. Jojoba oil also is chemically very similar to human sebum which helps lubricate the scalp and hair.

Anyway this is the recipe I used and the shampoo works pretty well for me if I only wash my hair every other day.

My Shampoo Recipe
You will need the following: 8 Oz distilled water
1/3 Oz Peppermint
1/3 Oz Lavender
1/3 Oz Rosemary
4 Oz Liquid Castile soap
¼ teaspoon Jojoba oil
A clean empty shampoo bottle

Using a small pot, bring the distilled water to a boil. Add all your herbs and cover. Allow to simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Using cheese cloth (or a strainer if you have one), strain into another pot and let it cool to room temp. Pour the herbal mix into a shampoo bottle, then slowly add the castile soap and stir till it's mixed well. Add the Jojoba oil and close bottle and shake real well. Wa la! You have Organic Dandruff shampoo. It works pretty good. I can go three days before dandruff starts showing again.

Cite References

1. Lagow, Bette. PDR for Herbal Medicine. Third Edition. Montvale: Thomas PDR, 2004, pp. 476.
2. lbid., pp. 628.
3. lbid., pp. 689.
4. Dwyer, James. Magic and Medicine of Plants. Pleasantville: The Reader's Digest Association, Inc., 1989, pp. 250.
5. lbid., pp. 233.
6. lbid., pp. 285.
7. Ody, Penelope. The Complete Medicinal Herbal. First Edition. New York: Dorling Kindersley, Inc., 1993, pp. 73.
8. lbid., pp. 92.
9. lbid., pp. 79
10. ksmama81; Make your own herbal shampoo; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PqcOn4OiVyw; 1/04/10.
11. knp512; Herbal Tea Shampoo; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QKyoVgRB3LM; 1/04/10.
12. Wiki; Jojoba oil; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jojoba_oil; 1/03/10.
13. Wiki; Castile soap; ; 1/03/10

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Writing a Nature Dictionary

(Note: This is a very old piece. I decided to share it here as it plays a role in my building a relationship with herbs)

Way back in ancient times (when I was still young & in my 20's. LOL) I took my first steps on the path of the Druids. My mentor Sparrowhawk introduced me to the language of nature. Strange thing was it sounded different to me than it did to her yet the message was still the same. Language you say? Well what I speak of is symbolic language. Those who keep a Dream Journal will understand what I'm talking about. My mentor didn't believe in books on dreams or Tarot interpretation. Said that it was someone elses interpretation. A tree may have a different meaning to you than it does to me. Symbolism is the language we use to speak to our sub-conscious and we all have our own symbolic language.

Much of my learning from Sparrowhawk came when we went on our
nature hikes around her cottage just outside of Boulder, CO. When ever I ask her a question she would point to a tree, plant, stone or some wildlife & ask me, "what do they say?" Afterwords she tell me what they say to her, always careful to let me get my own meaning first before giving me her own so as not to influence mine. After words her meaning only allow me to expand my own.

Shortly after moving in with her, she gave me a blank journal and sent me out on walks by myself & told me to meditate on different things in nature & write them down. I would come back & discuss them with her, then under my meanings I add Teacher's meanings.

When I left her a little over a year later, that journal was pretty full and kept adding to it long afterwards. Several years later I took that journal and expanded on it. I would list each thing, with my meaning, then her's (Later entries didn't have her meanings as she wasn't there), then I research each thing in a scientific context (text book stuff, this helps to expand ones own understanding of the object thereby redefining & expanding your own meaning of them), under that where available I would add spiritual meanings from Pagan books (like the Druidic meaning of the trees etc...). In time I not only evolved my own Nature language, but I new part of hers & learned Nature's language as understood by many Pagan traditions (the stuff written in Pagan books). My focus was my own language as she taught me that was the most important & most realiable one. Her's & the Pagan communities different interpretation were for reference only, so as to create a common language (the language of the Pagan community's collective-consciousness) we can all share when together (kinda like how the different Celtic tribes had their own dialects but also had a Traders dialect they used to communicate with the other tribes).

The biggest problem with Religion is people try to force their mentor/holy teacher's personal language onto others as the common language & vice versa. Religions tries to force you to accept their common language as your personal language. The Pagan community like to think they escape this but they don't. This is one of the very things that causes witch wars.

Over the years I moved alot (I lived a very nomadic life for most of my years) and somewhere along the way I lost it. But the majority of its lore is still locked away within my mind and when I visit the Nature areas (Each eco-system has its own dialect; forests, deserts, oceans/coasts, plains, wetlands, etc...) I've been to before I dust the cobwebs from my mind & remember how to read them.

Each forest for example have their own dialect.

This way of learning that my mentor gave me is now serving me well in my studies of herbalism.

~I hear herbalist talk about building a relationship with ones plant allies. To do that you need to know how to understand their language.~

The Druid's Herbal Vlog

Just folks know I also have a "The Druid's Herbal Vlog" channel on YouTube.

Right now it's mainly playlists of herbal videos I have collected from other channels. I will soon be doing my own videos. Mostly on Wildcrafting. So be sure to subscribe over there as well.

The Druid's Herbal Vlog

Monday, January 18, 2010

Module 4 – Option 2
Herbal Remedies ~ For the treatment of headaches, fevers and coughs

Which herb tea or combination of herbs would you drink if you had a fever, a headache, and a cough? Explain why you selected these herbs and how you would prepare them. Be sure to include any contraindications.

I didn't want to repeat the herbs some have already chosen, so I decided to go outside of the herbs mention in the module, accept Borage, which I like cause I love cucumbers and that's what Borage infusion tea reminds me of.

Anyway, I chose Passion Flowers for headaches, Borage for fevers and Wild Cherry Bark for coughs.

Common name: Passion Flower
Botanical name: Passiflora incarnata

Similar to chamomile, Native Americans have been using Passion Flower as a sedative and to calm the nerves. Though Passion Flower is considered mild, it is said that it works great to alleviate headaches. Passion Flower is also known to help lower blood pressure. I picked up a ounce of Passion Flower at a local herb shop here and found a tea recipe for it online.

Take 1 cup of boiling hot water and pour it over 1 tsp of dried flowers, steep for about 10 minutes and then strain. Doesn't taste great. I suggest adding a bit of honey which is what I did.

I didn't feel anything to be honest. But that might be, because I'm used to drinking chamomile, and since I didn't have a headache I don't know if it actually works. I have plenty left so I'll have to find me a guinea pig with a headache to test it again.


Use of Passion Flower is contraindicated during pregnancy because of the uterine stimulant action of its alkaloids harman and harmaline, and the content of the cyanogenic glycoside gynocardin. (NOTE: Some source say that this has not been confirmed. I would err on the side of caution and not use it if the patient/client is pregnant.)

Common name: Borage
Botanical name: Borago officinalis

I have been given Borage infusion tea in the past for fever and my memory is of the taste of cucumbers. Not only is Borage infusion tea good for helping to lower fevers but is also great for soothing sore throats which can help with coughs. It has also been use to combat kidney and bladder problems, and as a poultice can be used to soothe skin inflammations.

I bought an ounce of Borage at the same place I did the Passion Flower (these plants don't grow wild around here). I found a recipe online and below is that recipe.

To make a infusion tea of Borage, boil 2 ½ cups of water and then remove from heat. Add ¼ cup of dried leaves and cover, allowing the infusion to steep for 10 minutes. Drink ¼ cup of Borage infusion tea up to three times a day. This will help reduce your fever, purify your blood and remove toxins from your kidneys as well as help relieve your cough and soothe sore throats.

Again I don't have a fever to really test this. But as I said earlier, I have been given Borage in the past to combat fever and it worked. But then I was also eating diced up raw garlic and wearing several layers of clothes and blankets as well. Like I said I love cucumbers and that's what Borage kinda taste like.

Borage shouldn't be given to Schizophrenic or epileptic patients because it may cause temporal lobe epilepsy. Also should not be used during pregnancy and while breastfeeding.

Common name: Wild Cherry Bark
Botanical name: Prunus serotina

Now this was my favorite herb to work with. I remember as a kid my grandmother bought Wild Cherry Bark cough syrup from this old fashion Rx drugstore out in I.V. Back in the early 70s. Me and my little brother thought we was getting candy. I decided I wanted to attempt to make this myself. The herb store in my town didn't have any, so I had to drive up to S.L.O. To get some. I searched online fore a how-to recipe and ended up using a YouTube video done by Herbal Mentor. It came out well and I even had a guinea pig to try it on.

Wild Cherry Bark has been used for a very very long time. It is believed that the early colonist learned about it from the Native Americans, and from the early 1800s till 1975 was listed in the standard pharmacopeias. Besides being used as a cough syrup, it's also known as chokecherry cause the fruit is sour and believed to invoke sweating in order to lower fevers. Also in old folk medicine the bark was used as a ingredient in tonics and was used both as a decoction and extract to drive out worms and used in the same form externally on ulcers and abcesses.

Recipe for Wild Cherry Bark Cough Syrup:
Because this does not grow in my area I had to buy it from a herb shop and I had to drive up to San Luis Obispo to get it. If you harvest the bark yourself, be sure to take the young shoot growing from the oldest stems in the autumn. First pick off all the little buds. Use a pairing knife to peel off the bark into thin strips till you have a decent pile. About a hand full and a half should be about right. I believe they call this type of recipe a decoction. Take the pile of bark shavings and put them in a pot. Put about twice as much boiling water as bark in the pot. I believe this is written as 1 part bark, 2 parts water? Anyway, enough water to cover the bark anyway. Let simmer on the stove for about 20 minutes or till the water is reduced by ½. Then strain it. Strain off all the Wild Cherry Bark. You should come out with about 1 ½ cups of decoction. Add about a ¾ cup of good honey. Not sure what brand I used. A friend gave it to me in a little bear bottle with no label. Stir it in so it mixes well. Then add about a cup of cherry juice for flavoring. I used Lakewood Organic Cherry juice in mine. Mix in well and bottle.

I had a friend who had a really sore throat and was coughing like crazy and I gave him some and it seemed to help some he said. He wasn't coughing as much anyway. My syrup came out more runny than syrupy. I think I need to use a little more honey next time. Maybe a 1 ¼ cup of honey?

Cite References


1. Lagow, Bette. PDR for Herbal Medicine. Third Edition. Montvale: Thomas PDR, 2004, pp. 120.
2. lbid., pp. 622.
3. lbid., pp. 877.
4. Dwyer, James. Magic and Medicine of Plants. Pleasantville: The Reader's Digest Association, Inc., 1989, pp. 117.
5. lbid., pp. 266.
6. lbid., pp. 334.
7. Ody, Penelope. The Complete Medicinal Herbal. First Edition. New York: Dorling Kindersley, Inc., 1993, pp. 41.
8. lbid., pp. 164-165.

9. HerbMentor; Homemade Herbal Cough Syrup with Wild Choke Cherry Bark; http://www.youtube.com/lV8jV4o-mvU; 12/18/09.>
10. Mountain Herb Estate; Article: BORAGE (Borago officinales); http://www.herbgarden.co.za/mountainherb/article_borage.htm; 12/17/09.
11. Shair, Kyra; Champaign-Urbana Herb Society; http://cuherbsociety.org/hotm/borage.html; 12/17/09

Module 3 – Option 3
Herb Lab ~ Results for the first two herbs in my herb kit.


Common Name: Alfalfa, also called California Clover or Spanish Clover.

Latin Name:
Medicago sativa

Appearance: Bright green and leaves are very bushy and full with clover like yellow to violet-blue flowers.

Texture: When it is dried it is very brittle. Crumbles easily in your hands.

Scent: Not very strong or very noticeable in small quantities, otherwise smells pretty much like hay, or should I say smells like Santa Ynez Valley, CA. lol (I'm surrounded by horse ranches and wine vineyards.)

Taste: I agree with the class consensus, it taste like grass to me. I haven't had a chance to try fresh alfalfa yet so I don't know if it taste different yet.

Tea: I was staying at my favorite campground in the Santa Barbara, CA hills called Davey Brown when I tried this as a tea. I boiled water in my old blue camp coffee pot and using a brand new bandana wrapped some alfalfa in it and dipped it in the pot and let it steep for about 15 to 20 minutes. Didn't taste that great so I added a bit of mint. Was a strange combo. Will have to experiment some more to get a good tea out of it

According to my PDR for Herbal Medicine and the Module 3's Alfalfa monograph, alfalfa is high in vitamins and minerals, vitamins A & C, Folic Acid (vitamin B9), Niacin (vitamin B3), Riboflavin (vitamin B2), and minerals Calcium, Iron, Magnesium and Potassium.


Common Name: Catnip, also known as Catmint and Field Balm.

Latin Name: Nepeta cataria

Appearance: A leafy plant with ridged tear drop shape leaves (They don't look heart shape to me), are green to a grayish green. The flowers are small with slightly curled petals. Are white with purple spots on them.

Texture: Like alfalfa, catnip is brittle and crumbles easily in ones hand.

Scent: Maybe I still have the Alfalfa mixed with Mint tea from the day before stuck in my head. But I asked a friend to smell it without telling him what it was and he agreed with me. It smells like a minty hay.

Taste: When I chewed some raw, I can taste the mint, but also I don't know how to describe it. It has a dry powdery taste, or would that be a texture. No it definetly has a powdery taste to it if that makes sense.

Tea: Again I boiled water over a campfire in my camp coffee pot and used a bandana to steep the catnip for about 15 to 20 minutes. Definitely a minty taste but with a slight bitter after taste that I didn't much care for.
Catnip has a long history in folk medicine in the treatment of colds, colic and fevers. It was also used to calm ones nerves and soothe migraines.

Cite References

Thomas, PDR for Herbal Medicine, Third Edition, New Jersey, Thomas PDR, 2004, Page 11 and 173

Module 2 – Option 2
California ~ Identify & research 3 poisonous plants in ones area and document your findings.

Common Name:  Western Jimsonweed, Sacred Datura, Sacred Thorn Apple, Indian Whiskey, Momoy (Chumash)

Botanical Name:  Datura Wrightii

Family: Nightshade (Solanaceae)

Methods of Poisoning:  Ingestion, also can soak into skin. All parts are poisonous.

Symptoms of Poisoning:  Respiratory depression which can lead to death, seizures, fevers, panic, lost of vision.

Treatment: Forced vomiting, the use of activated charcoal is used to absorb the poison from the stomach and gastrointestinal tract. Doses of physostigmine are intravenous administered if any signs of anticholinergic symptoms and agitation occur.

Notes: The Chumash here call it Momoy and they use it religiously in puberty rites as a hallucinogenic. Is similar to Datura stramonium (Jimsonweed) which is why it is called Western Jimsonweed.

Common Name:  Meadow Deathcamas

Botanical Name:  Zigadenus venenosus

Family:  Lily (Liliaceae)

Methods of Poisoning: Ingestion, All parts are poisonous.

Symptoms of Poisoning: . The known symptoms are, vomiting, slow breathing and heart, unconsciousness, hyperactive tendons and limbs, hypotension, dilated pupils.

Treatment: The usual, the use of activated charcoal used to absorb the poison from the stomach and gastrointestinal tract, saline carthartic (induced bowel movement), and forced vomiting (emesis).

Notes: Poisonous in high doses, though Chumash have been known to eat it's fruit with no ill effect. I have been unable to find out why this is so.

Common Name: Douglas Nightshade or Greenspot Nightshade

Botanical Name:  Solanum douglasii

Family:  Potato (Solanaceae)

Methods of Poisoning: Ingestion, also can soak into skin. All parts are poisonous.

Symptoms of Poisoning: Was unable to find anything concrete on this plant. Finally asked a herbalist friend and she said it was safe to say since it is looks like a pretty classic nightshade, she would expect it to cause the normal atropine side effects (Blurred vision; constipation; decreased sweating; difficulty sleeping; dizziness; drowsiness; dry mouth, nose, or skin; headache; loss of appetite; loss of taste; nausea; nervousness), including being a powerful anti-cholinergic that suppresses the parasympathetic nervous system as well as death.

Treatment: Most common treatment of poisoning caused by Nightshade is forced vomiting, the use of activated charcoal to absorb the poison or stomach pump.

Notes: When I chose this plant I didn't expect to find nothing beyond a description of it online or in a book. I spoke to two Chumash friends and they were unfamiliar with it which was strange considering it is a very common local plant. I finally ask a herbalist friend. Don't know how to site actual people from interviews.

Cite References

USDA ~ Natural Resources Conservation Service - PLANTS Profile for Datura wrightii (sacred thorn-apple) | USDA PLANTS - http://www.plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=DAWR2 – (11/08/2009)

USDA ~ Natural Resources Conservation Service - PLANTS Profile for Zigadenus venenosus (meadow deathcamas) | USDA PLANTS - http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=ZIVE – (11/08/2009)

USDA ~ Natural Resources Conservation Service - PLANTS Profile for Solanum douglasii (greenspot nightshade) | USDA PLANTS - http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=SODO – (11/08/2009)

Montana Plant Life - Meadow Death-Camas Zigadenus venenosus S. Wats - http://montana.plant-life.org/species/zigaden_vene.htm – (11/15/2009)

Module 1 - Option 4
Definition of Herbs

Write out the definition of herbs used in this module. Explain how this corresponds with your own definition before you started this program. You may choose to google other definitions to see what you come up with. Be sure to note your sources if you do this.

ACHS President Dorene Peterson says that herbs are, “All those plant species, from the tallest tree to the smallest weed, that contain medicinal substances in harmony with the cellular structure of the human body and are capable of balancing the systems of the body to achieve and maintain wellness.” Also The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language includes the following definition: "Any of various, often aromatic plants used especially in medicine or as seasoning." According to the Dorland's Pocket 28th Edition Medical Dictionary, herbs is: "Any leafy plant without a woody stem, especially one used medicinally or as flavoring."[1]

For me herbs are all those plants that have either medicinal or nutritional value to us or any animal that can benefit from them. I like to point out that for me this includes plants from lakes and the ocean. I also consider plants used for perfumes, cosmetics and incense as herbs as well.

When I work with herbs, I prefer to wildcraft them, because I strongly believe that herbs that grow in their natural habitat tend to be stronger. I believe the herbs and other plants somehow share or effect one another when they share the same space. Also there's a reason why the herbs grows naturally where it does, and growing them in a alien garden next to other herbs it does not know as it's allies some how changes them.

This is all based on hunches or shall we say intuition. Most of my knowledge of herb lore is based either on intuition or has been taught to me by others. It is my hope to polish my intuition with a healthy dose of more scientific training. I feel you need a healthy combination of both intuition and science to be a good herbalist.

REFERENCE: [1] Saunders. Dorland's Pocket 28th Edition Medical Dictionary. Philadelphia: Elsevier, 2009, pp. 392.