Hal's Hat

Hal's Hat

Friday, November 16, 2012

New items: web links

I've been wanting to do this for awhile; weblinks to useful, helpful online sites and aritcles. I'm always running into article or info that I want to share directly, not reinterpreted by me into a blog post, but send you directly to the article.

Here are some from today:
Plant totems

Good article on Yarrow for kids- no tinctures, just a fever tea! 

Also- I've just completed the best Boo Boo salve around! (I know- lots of people make salve. I'm not judging, just giving myself a cheerleader rah-rah!). It includes infused calendula oil- handmade from my own calendula (organic from seed to flower). Infused comfrey oil- from Hal's famous stock of comfrey that grows all over our property. Infused rosemary oil- a unique oil that is often overlooked, made from my own home grown plant stock as well. St. John's wort oil- commercially made, organic. Olive oil, almond oil and coconut oil and local, lovingly gathered beeswax (from Richard Bean's bees). Minimal essential oil: clove and rosemary.
What sets this salve apart? Local wax from a local producer. Locally grown and hand gathered herbs. Rosemary oil- it's powerful and overlooked. Coconut oil- I cannot get over the anti-bacterial qualities of this oil that is GREAT FOR KIDS! Minimal essential oils. This is controversial but my opinion from my research and experience is that essential oils are really powerful and best used in very small doses. I have used a few drops, as listed above. But these are to ameliorate the stinky comfrey oil- ha ha!

Pictures to come....

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Fall roots and shoots- burdock and dandelion

Disclaimer: Do not pick any plant that you cannot identify 100%. Ask an herbalist to help you. Never pick or dig any shoot or root that might have been sprayed with chemicals. Be careful where you dig roots, since roots can absorb any chemicals near the ground (like lead paint, motor oil or the like).

Sorry for the huge space between posts- it seems that I get caught up in online discussions of herbs/ herbal uses/ advice and then feel like I've expressed all that I wanted to say on a topic. However- this is what I've been cooking up, herbally speaking:

It's Burdock root time! I love cool fall because it's really time to dig roots. I get the yen to have burdock at the most awkward times of year- early spring (don't dig roots at this time), late summer (really don't dig roots now). Then- poof, it's Samhain and it's chilly and I take a break and find burdock. Or rather burdock finds me. Burdock is one of those allies of mine that my dad had no experience or calling towards. He knew about it but only ever offered it to anyone in pill form (nonononono). I asked about it, told him about my research and he found some (without me: I was in college and 23 or something). He made a tincture and I took it with me to Europe. My skin magically cleared up- burdock? or non-processed food? Or adventure?
When I found burdock for myself, I was in my '20s and living in semi-rural WyCo. It appeared in some fields around me and my dad identified it with me. I then found it in my trusty Susun Weed library and was energetically magnetized!
Myrna helping with the big bucket
Aside: my relationship with my herbal allies is a casual one. Some seasons, I pay no attention.They tolerate that and my body probably suffers the loss a bit. But when I tune back in to my needs psychically, physically, the herbal allies pop right back to the front of my mind. This is more a reflection of my state of being, rather than the herbs "power" or something. It's just "my trip" as Hal would say. 

In the past, I have been a very steady burdock tincture advocate. It has a deep brown, nutty flavor. When it is tinctured, the root gets chopped up and soaked in 100 proof vodka, just like all my other tincture. In order to get the slow-acting benefits, it needs to be taken orally once-twice a day (droppersful) for awhile.

Our friend "Sweetie Pie" in the background
Do you see an issue? I do. I don't want to take droppersful of vodka tincture every day for 6 weeks. The alcohol really isn't good for you in the long term (not in the tender tissues of your mouth or gums or tongue). As well, in aging, I've rediscovered how much I need vitamins/ minerals and green food daily and in much larger doses than I might normally eat. Susun Weed is adamant about the nutritive aspects of burdock. In China, it's Gobo root and is eaten. It is vastly healthy and affects the lymph system and liver directly. So, I've made the change this year: burdock vinegar. I'm doing it.... this Virgo is breaking from her plodding path. Burdock vinegar is made by thoroughly soaking the dug root in water. Don't really wash it- just let all the dirt soak away. The chop it up into small pieces and fill a quart jar. When you've filled it to the brim, then pour in your apple cider vinegar. I used to use only unpasteurized vinegar with the mother still in it. Now I use the pasteurized stuff since most of the vinegar I have is used in soups and hot liquids, thus pasteurizing it!

So I went out with my older girl to dig for burdock. A chilly and cool morning is perfect for it.... Burdock grows in the least friendly places to dig, as a rule. It likes shallow, rocky areas and loves to grow in between sidewalks and a rock wall. Sheeesh. But the roots we found on this trip were pretty accessible. We found both small and extra large. It was strange! Roots as big around as my wrist with very little green material. I suspect those are 2nd year, but were mown over and unable to work up to a bloom. Burdock is a biennial and only live 2 years. So its first year is supposed to be preferable to its 2nd year. I = not too picky.

And then Myrna says, "Mom, let's pick dandelion." She's big into the greens, above ground. Now, not really eating it, per se. She is not a green vegetable gal. But she likes to pick stuff outside and eat it. Spring is the best time to pick dandelion greens because, in cool weather, all the energy goes to the roots, leaving the greens mild. It also means that it's a good time for dandelion root. I've been meaning to dig dandelion root for years. I love the greens and fully recognize the huge benefit the root offers. It is a kidney healer, great for liver function, the greens are HIGH in vitamin C and it all helps bile production and stomach issues (ulcers, digestive upset, etc). This fall, I've actually completed my task!

I've decided to make a tincture of this. I anticipate the usage being more critical- you've decided to take hormones and want to support your renal system and liver while you do. Take dandelion tincture as needed or daily for 2 weeks. You are working to support your gall bladder because you fear you might have to have it removed. You eat too much processed food and your gall bladder, kidneys and liver are MAD. This will help, along with fresh, unprocessed food. Dandelion is great if you are transitioning, under going a sex change or doing HRT. Men taking testosterone are seriously taxing their systems for years at a time (women taking estrogen are too. See all the hoopla about why HRT is dangerous!). While I do not think there are seriously effective ways to naturally transition from MTF or FTM, I really encourage my friends who are transitioning to take care of their organs. We don't know the long term repercussions of taking hormones. Well, we do. They aren't great. But living with body dismorphism? Total hell. So the long term stress on your liver seems pretty-damn-worth-it. To any folks who want further information about herbs and natural ways to support yourself while transitioning, private message me. I'm a proud ally to the GLBTQ community and want to lend my support where I can.

Can we talk about gall bladders for a minute? Did you know that your gall bladder produces bile, which is required by your liver for processing and straining out all of the crap in our system? (That's the liver's function, BTW; to filter) When your gall bladder ceases producing bile, you will get massive pain when you try to digest greasy, fat rich and processed foods. It is at this point that many western doctors will recommend you get gall bladder surgery. You can guess that I might suggest some other options first, to stimulate your gall bladder.
Also, if you have chronic stomach pain, indigestion and take an antacid, you need to make friends with dandelion. Please. Get off the purple pill and talk to your lawn. I'll get back to you on this one- I don't want to lecture but I do want you to consider OTHER OPTIONS beyond pills. Why are folks with indigestion always the most stubborn? Riddle me this. 

I want to keep this blog going and not exhaust myself by talking too much online. I like my blog topics and conversations which arise. However, if you have questions, please let me know! I need more interaction about what you are interested in. Facebook is perfectly fine for that too! Ask away. If it's personal, send me a message. If you want a full consultation or a weed walk, I'll charge you. Not much or we can do trade! But I can't give all my own energy away for free. I hope you understand and will give me back some of your energy. :)