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Friday, March 21, 2008

Hemorrhoids and suppositories

Hemorrhoids thrombosis can be an uncomfortable and embarrassing situation. The symptoms include pain or burning when defecating, pain when sitting, itchiness, and bright red blood from the rectum. Everyone has hemorrhoids, hemorrhoid thrombosis is simply swollen blood vessels. There are many in-depth websites full of information about hemorrhoids - try googling it if you are looking for more information.

If you are looking for herbal solutions to hemorrhoids you know you have then read on. If you are unsure whether or not you have hemorrhoids, please seek medical help for a proper diagnosis. Hemorrhoids can easily be confused with other problems such as anal fissures.

I've never given much thought to hemorrhoids until a friend of mine got them after giving birth and asked me for help. She was very uncomfortable, so I suggested she make some herbal suppositories.

The recipes for suppositories can vary greatly, we just worked with what she and I had on hand.

1 cup of coconut oil
2 T powdered calendula buds
2 T powdered plantain leaf
2 T powdered comfrey leaf
2 T powdered yarrow leaf and flower
(I am guessing on herb amounts as small handfuls were ground and added in.)

Melt the coconut oil over medium heat - once it has liquefied add the powdered herbs and stir well. Remove from heat. As it begins to firm up keep stirring the oil so that the herbs are mixed in well. It should be a nice green color. Once the oil is mostly firm, use clean hands to form the green goop into smooth tampon shaped suppositories. Keep them stored in the freezer until ready to use.

To insert, just before going to sleep at night, lie on your side, find the right the opening for your anus and then insert gently. Your symptoms should clear up within a few days, but keep using the suppositories for a few days after that. If symptoms do not go away after several days, seek a holistically minded medical professional.

Instead of a suppository you can also do an herbal sitz bath with the above herbs. You don't want a lot of water in ratio to herbs, so a small amount of water with the herbs in a small tub should suffice. Let your booty rest in there for twenty minutes, twice a day until symptoms have gone away.

I chose the above herbs because they were what we had on hand. A variety of different herbs could be used. If you know your plant properties you can easily substitute different herbs. I was looking for soothing, demulcent herbs, vulnary herbs, astringent herbs, antiseptic herbs and anti-inflammatory herbs. Off the top of my head other herbs that could be used are slippery elm (demulcent), rose (anti-inflammatory and astringent), Geranium (antiseptic and astringent), etc.

Hemorrhoids can be caused by too much straining or bearing down (i.e. constipation or birth), sitting for too long, tight muscles or vigorous anal or vaginal sex. You probably know which one of these caused yours and you may want to take preventive care in the future.

If you frequently have swollen hemorrhoids changing your diet and increasing aerobic exercise might be appropriate. You may also find this blog post by Henriette to be helpful.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Tasty bread spread


One of our current students at the Institute of Structural Medicine (where I live and work) has dedicated his life to helping those with chronic disease. Dr. Paul Chhabra immigrated to the US over ten years ago and has spent more than twenty years in various fields of integrated health. He is an ayurvedic practioner, a physical therapist, and naturopathic physician, master herbalist, an author and more.

He has a very fascinating approach to chronic disease and he addresses nutrition, the lymph system and the fascial system. You can read more about him here as well as buy his latest book.

He is also an incredible chef. Give him twenty minutes in the kitchen and he will whip up healthy vibrant cuisines from all over the world. He left us with some bread seasoning last time he was here and we just can't get enough of it.

The following recipe is from his book, which is full of nourishing recipes.

Olive oil toast

1 1/2 teaspoons of ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons of dried parsley
1 1/2 teaspoons of toasted sesame seeds
1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper (optional)
1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder (optional)
1/4 teaspoon olive oil
Sea salt to taste (optional)

As I said we're using the seasonings he left behind, so I am not sure what optional ingredients he may or may not have used, but let me tell you it's delicious.

We take a heaping tablespoon of seasonings and mix with with about two tablespoons of olive oil and stir to make a paste. We then spread it onto some sprouted bread and toast it.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Top 9 Pro-active Choices for Health

I believe very strongly in taking personal responsibility for our health. Making informed choices in our every day lives is the first key to optimal health. Here is a list of nine choices I think are incredibly important for optimal health. (A later post will address things to avoid.)

1. Pay attention
Our bodies have incredible communicating abilities. If we are aware and attuned with our natural processes we will become easily informed of small mishaps within the body before they become disasters. By paying attention to our whole being we can realize the whole healthy beings that we all are. Paying attentions also means being aware of what gives you juice in life - to when you are most fulfilled, most joyous, and then living that way as best as you are able. Not living out our dreams is a sure fire way to health challenges.

2. Nourishing Herbal Infusions
I drink a nourishing herbal infusion every day. On the rare days I am unable, I really miss this health ally. Nourishing herbal infusions are like a powerful multi-vitamin that nourish our body. Since I've started drinking them daily there have been subtle, but important shifts in my body that would be hard to explain. More easily to explain is the lack of sickness I have had since drinking these daily. If you want to learn more about these infusions check out my earlier blogs.

3. Eating Organic Real Foods
When I was 23 years old I was diagnosed with a rare auto-immune disease the doctors said would first debilitate me then then kill me very young. There's nothing like a bad prognosis to get you inspired! After my initial diagnosis it took me about six months to get rid of all symptoms. I did multiple things during that time: acupuncture, energy work, and nutrition changes. I had always eaten very healthy. Even though I was raised in a small mormon town in Utah I sought out health food stores in unlikely nooks and crannies ever since I could drive. But, even though I was eating healthy, it was often "healthy" processed food.

(I am sure by now I don't need to list the incredible benefits of eating organic whether it be for the health of your body or the health of the planet, so I will assume we are on the same page with such a given.)

I no longer buy organic in a bottle or can. Everything we eat is fresh from the earth or fresh from the butcher. This has also made for much less fuss in the kitchen. Our meals are generally protein and veggies. So, Salmon and a Salad. Steak and Winter Squash. Chicken and Artichokes. Easy to cook, easy to clean, and absolutely scrumptuous.

Eating local is one of the most powerful things you can do for the health of the planet as well as the health of yourself, family and community. They say that most people's food has been shipped an average of 1500 miles before it reaches their plate. By eating food that has been shipped from so far away we lose our ability to take responsibility for our food. We don't know how this food was farmed, if the people who farmed it were treated fairly, we can't possibly know the damage that has happened because of the oil usage in the shipping of these foods. On the other hand by visiting your local farmer's market and getting to know your farmers you'll end up with dinner on your plate that you will have a connection with. The list could go on about the benefits of local food and on and there are plenty of other articles and books on the subject.

I also eat according to my Metabolic Type. This "diet" is a way of determining how individual bodies metabolize food and creating a lifestyle that is supported by that metabolic type. I really appreciate this method as it puts the responsibility of food choices in each person rather than making a generalized statement like: "the mediterranean diet is the healthiest way to eat." I am sure it is... for Mediterraneans.

When it comes to eating Real Foods there is an easy to way to determine if it's real or not. Just ask the question, did my ancestors eat this 200 years ago? No? Then you'd probably better stay away from it now.

4. Dance, Yoga, Qi gong
There's nothing like exercise - especially the kind that feeds your soul. Dancing is a given in our household. I've done yoga for many years now and really appreciate the many aspects of this ancient art. Qi gong is something I have only done through tapes and DVDs, but even still I have to say it's incredible powerful. The days I choose to do Qi gong in the morning are the days I am vibrant and full of energy.

5. Spend time outside
Being outside reminds me of why I am on this beautiful earth. Seeing this valley and our river teeming with life makes my heart swell and is a strong reminder of why I believe humans are here - to caretake all life. Being outside in the sunshine also has the practical application of giving me essential nutrients like Vitamin D.

7. Bodywork
Call me biased, I am a bodyworker, and I also absolutely love bodywork. Whether it's Structural Medicine, Craniosacral, Reiki, or general massage - I'll take it. Often seen as a luxury, I think it's a necessity. Regular bodywork can help us to avoid injury and prevent other structural problems before they start. And, as someone who regularly works with structural issues: It's much easier to solve them 20 years ago.

8. Say thanks
Upon waking, before eating, after eating, as the deer play in the yard, as I drink clear tasty water, as a client walks away with reduced pain, as I walk by my plant friends I give thanks. I give thanks to remind myself of all the good things in life. I give thanks, simply to give back.

9. Love and relationships
There's no greater thing on earth than love, whether it be love for ourselves, our partners, friends, family, the earth and the creatures we share it with.

I'd love to hear what your pro-active health essentials are.




Nourishing Herbal Infusions ( Part 10 FAQ)


Red Clover



After publishing an ebook on Nourishing Infusions (published on HerbMentor.com) I've received lots of questions about nourishing infusions. Here's the most frequent questions.  











I want the benefits of nourishing infusions but I don’t like the taste…
When we find distaste for a particular beverage or food it may be for several different reasons. One reason may be that our bodies are adapting to the new tastes and sensations. I am sure we all have memories of initially disliking something and then, after some time, really finding we enjoy it. I distinctly remember the first time I had brie cheese – I thought it was a practical joke or something. Years later living in France, I just couldn’t get enough of it.

Disliking a certain taste may also be our body’s way of communicating that we don’t need this particular nourishment at this time. I think intuitively we know which is true. If you taste a particular NHI and find that every cell in your body is shaking in disgust, I would suggest trying a different herb. However, if you try a NHI and it tastes too “green” or the texture isn’t your favorite, you can try the following to help your body’s taste buds to adapt.

• Add a pinch of mint. Not much, just a few leaves or so.
• Try adding a little salt. A pinch of salt can reduce any bitterness you may be experiencing.
• Try using less herbs. You could start with a ½ ounce and slowly increase the herb material to a full ounce. Or you could make it with the full strength of herbs and dilute it with water.
• Add a little honey or a small pinch of stevia leaves. I used to add a little honey to my infusions, and now I find that I love them straight.
• You can try mixing different herbs together. Nettle has a very strong taste, while oatstraw is much more mellow. Some find that by mixing the herbs they find wonderful concoctions that are pleasing to the palette as well. (Also see FAQ below, “Can I mix different herbs together.”)

Over time, as our taste buds change or as our nourishment needs change, we may find that a particular NHI that was once unpleasant is now quite pleasing. Also, we may find over time that we need less and less honey, salt, or mixing of herbs to enjoy the NHI. Instead of getting stuck in a rut, always be sure to re-visit different herbs and different preparations.


Nettles, a favorite herb for nourishing infusions
Can I use fresh herbs?
We typically use dried herbs when making infusions because drying herbs breaks down their cell wall, enabling their nutrients to be extracted into the water with greater ease.

What if I don’t drink it in time?
NHIs should be drunk in a 36-hour time period, otherwise it will probably be host to all sorts of bacteria. 

If you find that you haven’t drank your mix there are several things you can do besides pouring it down the drain.

• You can use it as a luxurious hair rinse – my best hair days always follow a nettle rinse.
• You can use it to fertilize plants – indoors and out.
• Or simply put it in your compost pile to nourish the soil.

Kiva Rose says she prolongs the use of her infusions by adding a little slippery elm to the mix.

Can I mix different herbs together?
Yes! When choosing my NHI herbs I like to “sample” all the options by smelling them, really looking at them, and enjoying the whole experience. In this way I can tune in to what my body is needing, and sometimes I end up mixing several herbs in my infusion.

That being said, Susun Weed recommends trying just one herb at a time. In this way you can receive the full strength of one particular plant and really learn to recognize and appreciate the way in which your body interacts with individual plants.

Especially when starting out, trying just one herb at a time really helps you to form a relationship with that plant.

Are NHI safe for children?
Absolutely. The herbs used in NHI are chosen because of their gentleness. Rather than thinking of them as medicine we can think of them as super foods that are beneficial to all, from the baby in the womb to the wisest of elders.

Where to buy your herbs
I buy all of my herbs for nourishing herbal infusions at Mountain Rose Herbs. They have high quality and organic herbs at a great price. 


Bulk organic herbs, spices and essential oils. Sin

Further Reading

Healing Wise, Susun Weed

Opening Our Wild Hearts to the Healing Herbs, Gail Faith Edwards

Here are links to the rest of my Nourishing Herbal Infusions Series











Comfrey: Nourishing Herbal Infusions (part 9)



Comfrey
Symphytum officinale

Comfrey is well known under its other names such as knitbone or bruisewort. It’s a champion for healing superficial scratches and cuts, bruises, broken or fractured bones, and torn tendons and ligaments. Commonly used externally for all of these ailments, the leaf can be taken internally as well for additional benefit*.


Comfrey leaf is a strong ally against osteoporosis. Its high calcium content is readily absorbed into our
systems, creating strong and flexible bones.
A comfrey nourishing herbal infusion is also powerful in healing bronchial conditions and lung congestion, and its demulcent and wound healing qualities are useful for gastric ulcers and colitis.


Parts used
Leaf
Properties
Relaxing expectorant, demulcent, alterative, astringent, vulnerary, cell proliferant, nutritive

Special Considerations
Comfrey has gained some negative attention lately in regards to alkaloids found within the plant; pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PLAs) can cause silent liver disease. You will find herbalists who claim that the internal use of comfrey poses absolutely no threat, while others absolutely refuse to use it internally at all. Every person who wants to use comfrey needs to come to their own conclusions on this matter. I find myself more middle of the line.


The risks of using comfrey seem to be rare, but real. The roots have more PLAs than the leaves and the young leaves contain more PLAs than the mature leaves. With these considerations in mind, the internal use of comfrey is definitely contraindicated for pregnancy, children, alcoholics (including a history of high alcohol use) and those with liver disease.  



Keep it simple
Although we now know we need to approach this herb with caution, comfrey leaf remains a powerful herb for healing our skin, ligaments, and bones as well as for strengthening our lungs.


Want to explore other herbs to use for nourishing herbal infusions? 

I've got you covered! Click the links below to see other nourishing herbs.  








Where to buy your herbs
I buy all of my herbs for nourishing herbal infusions at Mountain Rose Herbs. They have high quality and organic herbs at a great price. 

Bulk organic herbs, spices and essential oils. Sin

Linden: Nourishing Herbal Infusions (part 8)

Linden (Tilia cordata)



Linden is a cooling and mucilaginous herb – I love to brew it up on hot, dusty days when I am feeling parched.
It’s used extensively in Europe, especially in France, for soothing sore throats and coughs. Its diaphoretic properties make it a beneficial herb for colds and flu. Sharol Tilgner reports its use has been shown to shorten the duration of infectious viral conditions.

It is a superb relaxing nervine for nervous tension, stress, and panic conditions.

Linden is used to nourish the heart and is specifically beneficial for high blood pressure associated with arteriosclerosis and nervous tension.

In France it is commonly used in lotions for itchy skin conditions.


Parts used

Flowers and leaves
Properties
Cool/moist, relaxing nervine, anti-spasmodic, relaxing diaphoretic, hypotensive, demulcent, diuretic, mild astringent

Nutrients
Flavonoids, glycosides

Keep it simple
Linden’s demulcent properties make it a valuable ally for colds, flus, and parched conditions. It’s a gentle nervine that calms the heart.



Where to buy your herbs
I buy all of my herbs for nourishing herbal infusions at Mountain Rose Herbs. They have high quality and organic herbs at a great price. 

Bulk organic herbs, spices and essential oils. Sin



Red Clover: Nourishing Herbal Infusions (part 7)

Red Clover 
(Trifolium pratense) 

Parts used: flowers and top leaves

Taste: Sweet (astringent)

Properties: cool/dry, astringent, alterative, blood thinning, antispasmodic, expectorant, anti-tumor

Used for: eczema, fertility, coughs, cancer, anti-inflammatory


Red clover is world renowned as an anti-cancer herb. It is used by 33 different cultures as an aid against cancer. It is one ingredient in the famed Essiac Tea, and scientific studies have found 4 anti-tumor compounds in this miraculous plant. Besides being a strong ally for those dancing with cancer, red clover is a strong alterative, loosely defined as altering towards health. 

Rich in phytosterols, red clover nourishes hormones, making it an excellent choice for women going through menopause as well as those wishing to increase their fertility. 

It’s been used to treat dry, irritable coughs such as whooping cough and tuberculosis. 

The infusion can also be used externally (as well as internally) to nourish the skin, eliminating eczema and psoriasis. 



Special Considerations
Although safe to use for many people, red clover’s ability to thin the blood makes it a poor choice for pregnancy and for those already on blood thinners. Regular use of this plant should also be stopped before surgery. 

Keep it simple
Renowned for its anti-cancer properties, red clover is also an incredible alterative, nourishing and cleansing our blood. 
Red clover is “God’s greatest herbal blessing to mankind.”
Old time herbal (Antol, pg. 186)

Where to buy your herbs
I buy all of my herbs for nourishing herbal infusions at Mountain Rose Herbs. They have high quality and organic herbs at a great price. 

Bulk organic herbs, spices and essential oils. Sin


Burdock: Nourishing Herbal Infusions (part 6)

Burdock 
(Arctium Lappa)

Parts used: Root (First year roots gathered in the fall.)

Properties: alterative, nutritive, mucilaginous, alterative, diuretic, diaphoretic, urinary tonic, demulcent, bitter, laxative, vulnerary,


Nutrients: Amino acids, calcium, chromium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, potassium, selenium, zinc, vitamins B1, B2, B3, and C.


Gifts
Burdock is a strong alterative – sometimes called a blood purifier. It does this by strengthening the kidneys and liver, which in turn helps to clean up the circulatory system. Burdock is a strong ally for those dealing with skin problems such as boils, eczema, psoriasis, rashes, acne, and herpes. It’s revered as an anti-tumor herb and is one of the ingredients of the Essiac formula. Used long term it helps strengthen the immune system and nourish intestinal flora – a great ally to use after a round of antibiotics. Burdock is a cooling herb that helps us to feel grounded and stable.


Keep it simple 
Burdock is a grounding herb that strengthens the immune system, kidneys, and liver. It’s especially useful for those dealing with skin problems, from blemishes to tumors.


Burdock is like a cleaning woman, or garbage collector: essential to modern life, but underpaid and undervalued. She’s the old black rag-a-muffin of herbs.
Ellen Greenlaw 1988

Where to buy your herbs
I buy all of my herbs for nourishing herbal infusions at Mountain Rose Herbs. They have high quality and organic herbs at a great price. 

Bulk organic herbs, spices and essential oils. Sin
Want to explore other herbs to use for nourishing herbal infusions? 

I've got you covered! Click the links below to see other nourishing herbs.  






Oat straw: Nourishing Herbal Infusions (part 5)

Oatstraw 
(Avena sativa)


Oatstraw acts as a restorative nerve tonic. This makes it ideal for those experiencing stress, exhaustion, nervous breakdowns, or grief.


Regular use decreases inflammation in the body, which is especially helpful for those with crohn’s disease, lupus, or other autoimmune diseases.

It’s a wonderful source of calcium and silicon for those wishing to strengthen their bones, teeth, and nails. Susun Weed recommends adding a pinch of horsetail (Equisetum

arvense) in your oat straw infusion. For additional silicon, try simmering the oastraw for twenty minutes instead of just infusing it in hot water. 

Oatstraw has been known as a love tonic for centuries because of its ability to nourish your nervous system, bringing rejuvenation to a stressed out system. Oatstraw is also a powerful restorative for those who are just plain worn out. 



A tincture of the fresh milky oats is a wonderful nervous system trophorestorative and has a slightly different action than taking the tea or decoction of the dried oatstraw. I generally recommend both at the same time. 


Nutrients: Calcium, folate, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, zinc, vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, E, and amino acids.



Parts used
Aerial portions (I like infusing both the straw and the dried milky buds; you can also do either separately. If you are purchasing oat straw it is much cheaper to buy the straw and it works just as well.)

Properties
Neutral/moist, nutritive, nervous system trophorestorative, relaxing nervine

Special considerations
There is some debate as to whether or not oatstraw contains gluten. If you are gluten intolerant you may want to approach this one with caution.

Keep it simple
Oatstraw is a wonderful restorative tonic especially helpful to those feeling stressed or worn out. 




Want to explore other herbs to use for nourishing herbal infusions? 

I've got you covered! Click the links below to see other nourishing herbs.  









Where to buy your herbs
I buy all of my herbs for nourishing herbal infusions at Mountain Rose Herbs. They have high quality and organic herbs at a great price. 

Bulk organic herbs, spices and essential oils. Sin

Raspberry: Nourishing Herbal Infusions (part 4)


Raspberry 
(Rubus spp.) 

Parts used: leaves

Taste: Sour (astringent)

Properties: cool/dry, astringent, tonic, uterine tonic, hemostatic, mild alterative. 

Used for: fertility, menstrual cramping, promote lactation, uterine prolapse, leucorrhea, preparation for childbirth, diarrhea

Nutrients



Red Raspberry is often considered a woman’s herb and is commonly used especially during pregnancy. It gently eases nausea and morning sickness. It is scientifically proven to ease uterine and intestinal spasms as well as strengthening the uterine wall. These actions help to ease labor pains and facilitate births. There is also evidence that regular infusions taken during the third trimester reduce the incidence of false labor. 

Drinking infusions after birth increases the colostrum found in breast milk, ensuring a healthy start for the newborn. Susun Weed notes that although for some woman Red Raspberry leaf increases breast milk, for others the astringency of the herb may counter that. 

Raspberry infusions are also used to harmonize menstruation, reduce menstrual cramping and promote fertility. You can see why it is often thought of as a women’s herb! 

However, it’s unfair to classify raspberry leaves as only beneficial to women. Not only does red raspberry tone the uterus, it also has a toning effect for the male reproductive system as well. It has been used in cases of enuresis, spermatorrhea, premature ejaculation, impotence and sterility. 

As a strong astringent raspberry can be used in cases of diarrhea and frequent urination. 

Raspberry leaves have the ability to promote healthy bones, nails, teeth, and skin. It’s common to find it paired with red clover as a fertility tonic for both men and women. 

Keep it Simple
Red Raspberry is uterine tonic especially beneficial to women during pregnancy. Its high calcium and mineral content make it beneficial to all. 


Want to explore other herbs to use for nourishing herbal infusions? 

I've got you covered! Click the links below to see other nourishing herbs.  








Where to find the herbs
Many of the herbs we use for NHI can be found in our backyards. See my series on Wildcrafting to learn more about harvesting from the wild. 

 If these herbs are entirely foreign to you, ordering them from a respectable herb dealer is a simple way to gain access to these herbs and start incorporating them into your daily life. It's always best to buy local. If that's not an option then I highly recommend buying herbs from Mountain Rose Herbs. 



Bulk organic herbs, spices and essential oils. Sin

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Sustainability: Re-usable bags

I just love bags. I love getting funky looking bags and thrift stores and using them to carry home my wholesome food/library books/mail in from town. Re-used bags have a style with which boring brown paper bags just can't compare.

This holiday season my sister sent me two super cool bags that she crocheted out of used plastic bags. I have found these bags to actually be quite magical. They seemingly hold everything - sort of like a Mary Poppins bag, and are incredibly strong. This is a great use for all of that incredibly annoying plastic. I highly applaud the various countries and grocery stores who have stopped carrying plastic bags. Until they are gone for good though, you can read an article my sister wrote about these bags and learn to make your own here.

When I was at the local co-op near Seattle I bought a few of these nifty bags for putting vegetables in. You could also easily make these yourself by buying a similar meshy fabric and making a simple bag. We used to wash out our plastic bags for fruits and veggies, but these are much more practical for keeping things together.

Blood blisters and cottonwood buds

This morning I was a little careless and gave myself a blood blister with a pair of scissors. If you've ever had a blood blister then you will know how painful these tiny little things will be. I am making a bunch of cottonwood salve today so there were a a lot of buds on the counter. Moments after I pinched myself, thus creating the blister, I picked one up and applied the bud and resins directly to the darkening area. Instantly the pain was gone and has remained so. And although blood had been forming under the surface of my skin, it's completely gone 30 minutes later. Gotta love cottonwood for first aid.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Another day of bountiful cottonwood (Populus balsamifera)




I couldn't sleep early this morning - something that rarely happens. As my mind was wandering over hills and through valleys I was suddenly hit with an idea, or rather an afterthought of sorts. With so many downed trees in the area I should definitely take advantage of this bounty and harvest the bark. The bark can be tinctured to make an anelgesic medicine, and I was also interested in drying some bark to later pound into flour.

As we were heading into town today (for an adorable 1 one-year-old's birthday party) we noticed several trees down by the river. Apparently the beavers in the area have been hard at work.


Having never harvested cottonwood cambium before we were a little baffled about which part to harvest for flour. Eventually we decided that perhaps it's too early in the season and the sap isn't running yet. I've harvested cedar cambium before while the sap is running and it's really amazing how easily it separates from the tree - which was definitely not the case today. If anyone else has experience with this please let me know.

I do have a hard time imagining that the cambium would taste good as a flour. I put some of the bark in my mouth and it tasted like strong aspirin. Hence the tincture. :) This explains why the flour was used primarily as famine or emergency food.

Update: I did some reading on cottonwood last night and it does seem that we are a little early on harvesting the cambium. May or June sounds like a better time. I also read that although some tribes ate this food very rarely, other tribes (in Montana esp.) considered it a treat. (Thanks to Nancy Turner and all the research she has done with Northwest ethnobotany.)

There was one really fresh older tree on the ground. We were able to harvest a lot more buds from the top of the tree, which is by far the most plentiful. I already had lots of buds from the other day, but I just couldn't resist. Although we had already been to the store, we went back before leaving town to buy a gallon of olive oil for a cottonwood bud infusion. I am teaching a class on oils and salves in a couple of weeks, so I know it'll come in handy.

I also wanted to make a tincture of the buds. I wanted to use a higher percentage of alcohol to extract properties from this resinous source, but only had a little tiny bit of everclear hanging around. (It's not sold in this state, so I am at the mercy of traveling friends.) So, I did one small tincture of half everclear, half vodka, and then another tincture with scotch whiskey. I'm curious as to the results. Already there is a big difference in colors. Surprisingly the everclear/vodka mix has a much darker and cloudier appearance than the scotch whiskey (the one on the right is the everclear/vodka) which begins as an orange color. These tinctures will be used as an expectorant for nasty chest colds.

I also did a tincture of the bark in scotch whiskey as well.

I have only recently started making tinctures out of scotch whiskey. In part two of the Village Herbalist on Herbmentor, Heather says she uses scotch whiskey for her tinctures for several reasons. One, scotch whiskey is made from barley, which has it's own health benefits. (As opposed to wheat, which a lot of vodka is made from these days.) Also, she said to buy the cheapest scotch whiskey available. When taking a sip you'll notice the astringent properties of this beverage. This astringency, says Heather, adds to the extracting properties of the alcohol making it act more like 60%-70& alcohol. So, seeing how everclear is hard to get, I thought I'd give it a chance. I'd love to hear other thoughts on this.

The sun is setting in the valley which has turned several shades of pink, blue and purple. The bald eagles have been busy feasting on the fallen deer in the field. We've really enjoyed watching so many up close right from our kitchen window. I am feeling very grateful to live in this beautiful bountiful valley.