Monday, February 28, 2011

Bryoria - Edible Black Tree Lichen

Filled with envy, I've been watching my southern friends posting about their emerging spring plants. To add insult to injury we just got another 6 inches of snow in the past two days with more on the way.

However, even though the ground is still covered in several feet of snow, there are still plants to be found!

On a recent walk Xavier and I were tracking a cougar near our cabin and found bryoria, or black tree lichen growing in the trees. You can watch the video below to learn about this plentiful plant - and see our blustering northern weather.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Spring Tune-Up: A weekend retreat in the North Cascades

Awaken to the vitality of spring with a weekend of nourishing food,  herbs and yogic presence. We will explore the idea of 'food as medicine', preparing simple ayurvedic recipes and herbal teas, supplementing this with asana and pranayama practice, sauna time and silence. Support body and mind as we move into the season of heightened energy and activity! 

Led by

- Rosalee de la Foret, traditional herbalist and Structural medicine Specialist. Rosalee is the author of dozens of articles and several ebooks on herbal healing.

- Becky Studen, certified yoga teacher, has studied various types of yoga including Vinyasa, Ashtanga, Pre- and Post-natal, and Power Core and Yin yoga. Yoga has reminded her to breathe deeply when parenting, love her body and to take time to simply be.


Friday night ~ Restore
Arrive at 5:00
5:30 - 6:30 
Grounding yoga practice
7:00 - 8:00 
8:00 - 9:00 
Opening circle; introductions, intentions

Saturday ~ Rejuvenate
8:00 - 8:30 Awakening yoga practice 
8:45 - 9:30 Breakfast 
9:30 - 10:30 Free time (outside time encouraged) 
10:30 - 12:00 Discussion: Exploring the therapeutic value of taste 
12:30 - 1:30 Lunch 
1:30 - 3:30 Free time, sauna 
3:30 - 5:30 Deepening yoga practice 
6:00 - 7:00 Dinner 
7:30 - 9:00 Laughing yoga, spring seed-planting ritual

Sunday ~ Radiate
8:00 - 8:30 Awakening yoga practice 
8:45 - 9:30 Breakfast 
9:30 - 10:00 Free time 
10:00 - 11:00 Discussion: Nourishing Herbal Infusions 
11:00 - 12:00 Completion yoga practice
12:30 - 1:30 Lunch 1:30 - 2:00 Closing circle

All meals will be eaten in silence, and silence will be encouraged in common areas. Participation in meal prep and clean up is part of the weekend experience.

We are joyfully offering this weekend at an exceptionally low price in order to serve those who need this retreat. Space is limited to 11 participants - register early to ensure your spot. 

$175 before March 4, includes meals and lodging

$190 after March 4th

Please visit Skalitude Retreat Center to register. Or email Linsdey here.  

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Kava Hot Cocoa

Kava Hot Cocoa
Kava (Piper methysticum) comes to us from the Pacific Islands. It has a long traditional and ceremonial use, dating back thousands of years. 

The root of the kava plant is used as a beverage and it was traditionally prepared by mastication or chewing of the root. When Europeans made contact with the Pacific Islanders they discouraged this practice. We now know that mastication and fermentation of kava root makes a potent brew. 

Kava can be a little tricky to work with. It doesn’t like heat and the alcohol percentage in a tincture is very specific. The recipe below calls for kneading the powdered root in cold water which is an effective means of preparing this root. 

Kava is a wonderful relaxing nervine. It can relax muscles and give a sense of calm. A friend recently described drinking kava to getting a luxurious massage. That’s a pretty good description! 

Kava can also be used for acute pain due to spasms. Kidney stones or menstrual cramping are good examples. 

Chocolate is a good source of magnesium. Magnesium can stop muscle spasms and also promotes a sense of calm. The two go together quite well! 

If you’ve never had kava before you’ll quickly notice a very distinct acrid taste and numbing sensation on your tongue. If the kava doesn’t produce this effect it probably wasn’t prepared correctly. 

Recently kava made the sensational news headlines as being a dangerous herb. It’s true that kava contains some potent alkaloids. However, in all cases where injury was established it was from extracts that had potentiated certain constituents of the kava root (Kavalactones). There have been no injuries associated with appropriate use of the whole plant. However, it is contraindicated in pregnancy, breastfeeding and those with liver disease. If you visit jim mcdonald’s incredible article index and search for “kava” you’ll see many articles on the safety of kava.

Kava has been over harvested in the wild. Please do not buy wild harvested kava. Get it from a sustainably cultivated source. 

Kava Cocoa Recipe
1/2 cup powdered Kava
1/2 cup fair trade cocoa powder (I use 100% cacao)
6 cups water
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Honey and cream to taste

Step One: Make the Kava
Place 1/2 cup of kava powder into a muslin bag. 

Place the bag in a large bowl along with 4 cups of lukewarm water. 

Knead the bag for an extended period of time. How long? 20 minutes should do it, although longer could be better. 

Once you are done kneading you can start making the cocoa. The kava mixture should look cloudy. 

Step Two: Make the cocoa
Combine the cocoa, cinnamon and water into a small saucepan on medium high heat, stirring constantly. Once the cocoa has dissolved and the temperature is fairly warm, remove from heat. Add the vanilla. 

Step Three: Combining the two

I like to mix equal parts cocoa to kava, but you can mix it up anyway you like. 

I add cream and honey to taste. 

You can buy Kava and Cacao at Mountain Rose Herbs


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Pungent Herbal Medicine ebook

Last night I had the honor of presenting a webinar on the Pungent Taste in herbal medicine alongside Michael Tierra. 

For those of you who missed the presentation there is another opportunity to learn about this spicy topic. 

For the next 36 hours my Pungent Herbal Medicine ebook is on sale for $10. 

This ebook is 59 pages in length and covers philosophical considerations of the pungent taste as well as lots of classical and modern herbal recipes and formulas. My goal is that you can start using what you learn immediately in your own life. 

Here's what people are saying about the webinar and ebook... 

Thanks for sharing so much of your knowledge! Enjoyed the Webinar last night, very much. Just downloaded your E-book and bonus recipes. So excited to try them. Thanks for all you do.KL

I just downloaded Rosalee de la Foret's ebook ($10) "Pungent Herbal Medicine". There are a lot of uses: digestion, expectorant, diuretic, diaphoretic, blood mover, anti-microbial, kidney support, carminative, anti-viral, anti-depression, coughing, muscle spasms, muscle tension, etc. 40+ common herbs discussed, plus recipes. This is a treasure trove of natural medicine!PR

Incredible webinar and I purchased the ebook on Pungent Herbal Medicine. I am very impressed with your style of presenting as you are very succinct and I like that I can easily understand the information and be able to utilize it immediately!!!D

For more information about this ebook you can visit my website here. 

Also available at this link  is a free pdf download of a summary table on the Taste of Herbs. 

In March I'll be presenting another free webinar on Bitter Herbal Medicine. To be notified of the whens and wheres of the event you can sign up for my newsletter in the left hand column. 

Friday, February 11, 2011

Taste of Herbs: Free Webinar Series

Welcome to the official blogpost regarding my free webinar series, The Taste of Herbs. Over the past two months it has been my honor and pleasure to present this free webinar series alongside renowned herbalist, Michael Tierra. 

The next webinar is on Pungent Herbal Medicine and will take place February 15th at 5:30 PST. Please see below to register for this event. 

By signing up for my newsletter in the left hand column you'll be emailed occasional emails updating you on the latest dates for this webinar series. 

Understanding the taste of an herb is an important part of learning herbalism. However, it is rare to find books that give more than a paragraph or two explaining the tastes of herbs. Furthermore these traditional explanations can seem over simplified and too philosophical for the modern herbalist. This webinar series explains each taste in a focused way, giving practical examples of how to use these understandings in your every day life. 

Using our senses to learn how plants work is an innate human skill and one herbalists would benefit from honing. Understanding herbalism through the tastes and through taste sensations helps us to deeply understand the therapeutic qualities of a plant in a concrete way. We can (and probably should) spend hours memorizing information about plants, but once we know a plant through our sensorial experience we will never forget it.   

To me, any herbalist who doesn’t know the taste of an herb but attempts to use it can be compared to a painter who doesn’t know the colors of the rainbow, or a musician who doesn’t know the scales.

 Alan Keith Tillotson


Series Overview

Taste of Herbs
In the first webinar we had a brief look of each of the classical categories of tastes. 

Sweet Herbal Medicine
In the second webinar we looked more closely at the sweet taste. 

Pungent Herbal Medicine
In this next webinar we'll be gaining a planetary understanding of the pungent taste. This webinar takes place February 15th at 5:30 PST. 

These webinars are completely free and you can join any of them even if you missed previous webinars. 

In order to attend please register at the following address. 

We will be giving three more webinars in the future. 

Bitter Herbal Medicine
March (Specific date TBA) 

Sour and Astringent Herbal Medicine
April (Specific date TBA)

Salty Herbal Medicine
Date TBA

Again, if you'd like to be notified of future events, sign up for my newsletter in the upper left hand column. 

Thanks to all those who have participated in these events so far. Wouldn't be nearly as fun without you all!