This post is late in coming---in other words, I haven't written for a while.
Nope, no more foraging. It seems pretty safe to say that the foraging season has come to an end. Ever since we turned back the clocks an hour and the amount of daylight has been waning, I haven't felt the call to go out and explore. I had the idea to go and dig burdock and yellow dock roots, but I ended up buying them instead! Yep, someone else did the work of hauling them up ;)
I have been reaping the benefits of foraging through my herbal recipes, however, aka wildcrafting. The other day I poured several goodies into amber jars: Wormwood tincture (ooh, she's a potent vermifuge!), Sorrel root & Mugwort tincture, a Stevia glycerite, and a St. John's Wort Oil. I've used that St. John's oil as sunscreen, facial oil and --just the other day-- for her classic use as a tight muscle reliever.
I have tons of other goodies still brewing and a few oils that are ready to be turned into creative beauty products. 1 is a comfrey/chickweed/yarrow oil to which I'm going to add beeswax to turn into a salve. The other two are perfume oils, chrysanthemum and lavender. I'm going to add some beeswax to them to turn them into solid perfumes.
Funny that every time I think I'm done wildcrafting for the season, I find another recipe to make! I ended up buying more vodka to make another Wormwood tincture as she needed a pruning. Then I made a Sage oil, great to use as a leave-in conditioner for soft, silky, dandruff-free hair. Very simple to do: add leaves to a jar, pour oil to cover them, put on lid and let sit 6 weeks. Strain and keep in a dark amber jar. I've even used this Sage oil as a facial oil during the lighter spring months quite successfully.
Then, what do I find that my elvish neighbor has left hanging on my door knob? A pretty bouquet of lavender!! This time, no wildcrafting recipe. I left her to dry to use for tea--- and anyway, you can still use dried lavender to make oils, salves, glycerites, etc.
I have been busy in-door gardening, tending to the plants that are inside the house. Too bad that there's white fly on Rosemary and fungus gnats lurking about. I used the Diatomaceous earth, and it worked to some extent. I'm going to use Neem oil with a bit of dish soap and water and see how that goes. Indeed, I used Oregano oil with a squirt of dish soap and water after planting some new seeds: Chickweed, Echinacea and Poke root.
I had already planted Chickweed and I was only able to harvest but a tiny jar to make a tincture. At first, she wasn't growing because she was getting too much sun. Then I thought perhaps the gnats. Turns out, what she really needs is a green house!
Yes, that is my new thing that I have been doing: meditating with plants. Some call it plant spirit medicine...
It's just a world of wonder, I tell ya :)
I feel so happy having this connection :)
It's like I never knew it existed before, and it has sparked my joy, my...heart. It's like having a heart to heart conversation. No words are needed :)
I really love my Taoist teachers, as I call them. They are happy to be as they are. If I talk to them, great. If not, great too! They are happy regardless...
They teach me to relax, relax into my being...
They've been telling me things that bother them. Aloe Vera was so cold where she was, I felt the coldness in my body almost immediately. She's beaming since she got moved to a warmer, sunnier spot. Wormwood needed pruning, and Bamboo wanted fresh earth and more mineral-rich water more frequently.
Wow-o! So great to have such open lines of communication! Much better, I was telling Cleavers just today, than having to resort to looking up information about each plant! But, that info is still quite handy, as I'm still new at this ;)
Anyway, I planted more Echinacea seeds and Poke root, I was saying. There are two baby Echinacea sprouts coming up but the other seeds didn't take. I love the look of Echinacea and I've been taking a tea with her root every day now...nice to be able to harvest my own one day!
Poke root I'd like to grow because I've started taking Poke tincture. She's an excellent plant to use for fibroids, endometriosis, lymphatic issues (encourage drainage), cancer, and for chronic infections. You can read more HERE by Susun Weed. WARNING: Poke is poisonous. SMALL doses as in 1 drop are used to poke or boost the immune system. Best to consult with an herbalist about this one...
That reminds me about Comfrey, and how some herbalists are just fine with using her while others aren't. My herbal teacher was fine using her (NOT the root) and we were to harvest Comfrey while she was in flower (the top 1/3 of the flowering top). After that, Comfrey was fine for External use only, such as for salves, which is really where Comfrey shines. Leaves and salves are great to heal bruises, sprains, strains and broken bones. Internally, she works as a vulnerary for the same issues, and is also helpful in all kinds of inflammatory diseases, including leaky gut.
Interestingly, I was using a few pieces of Comfrey in my tea when I suddenly got the urge to stop. I did and felt fine, and now I've gone back to including a few small pieces of leaves in my tea. The deal-breaker with some herbalists is that she has been shown to damage the liver because of her alkaloids---however, as I mentioned, others feel that this level is low or acceptable during her peak flowering time. As with any herb, I think developing a relationship with the plant and seeing if that plant works for you is really what's key :)
I'm thinking about making a new blog with just my herbal recipes/wildcrafting recipes, especially now as foraging has ground to a halt. I know there are different ways of preparing herbs, but it could be a nice reference to have...
I'm also thinking of having a blog called Chitter Chatter, a place where I can "cathart" my energy and write about the emotional roller-coaster of the menutiae of my life...
Anyway, wanted to post here to close up the season.
Not sure if I'll be "cruising" trees during the winter...But maybe a lil plant spirit medicine will be my new guide :)
See you back next season, sunshine! And keep it sunny during the cold months, ya hear :)
I just had to make an update on Tansy: Oh My Acrid Smell, is all I have to say!
Here's what happened: I used some WD-40 to "loosen up" the springs on my trampoline. I store the can in my not-so-secret compartment in the kitchen island, on which Tansy was lying.
Wow, the smell of that WD-40 is still lingering about? I thought as I proceeded to take Tansy leaves off the stem.
That smell was from Tansy.
And she does NOT remind me of cinnamon or nutmeg either.
Needless to say, I was not about to be drying her leaves to use in some sweet confectionery or using her leaves for tea. Yech!
Instead, her acrid smell gave me the idea to turn her into a bug spray. Yes, if you check out the link on Plants for a Future Database, you'll see she contains borneol, thujone and camphor, has been used to kill fleas and lice, and is considered an excellent companion plant to repel insects.
Ditto on the insecticide. So I decided to make my own.
Tansy Bug_Off Spray
Add chopped leaves, stems and flowers to a mason jar, pour 40-50% proof alcohol to the top, place on lid and screw cap and let sit 6 weeks. Strain and store in glass spray bottles. Use as a bug repellent as needed.
Can't test this recipe out right now as there aren't any bugs in this cool fall weather, but I'll give it a go come next summer. Might even add this bug spray in equal amounts with Yarrow Tincture and see what good that does. Hopefully, bug freedom!! ;)
Just wanted to share another great Wildcrafting Recipe! It's lookin' like I'll be sharing more recipes for the next few months as foraging stories won't be happening in the snow ;) Unless I forage for trees, which I might *perhaps* do.
Keep you posted, sunshine! And stay bright and sunny, ya hear :)
Thyme, Honey: 4 Methods to Make Sore Throat/Cough Remedy, Mullein & Garlic Oil for Earache/Swimmer's Ear & Benefits of Diatomaceous Earth
I finally got in the last of the gardening: that's right, I harvested Tansy! Ha ha!
She was the last plant left outside and I was waiting for her to flower. This morning, when I awoke, I could see her on the balcony from outside my bedroom window.
It was time, she told me.
I noticed that some of her leaves had yellowed and some of her flowers were still in bud form, although a few had gone into flower. The yellow flowers are rather nondescript, they look like yellow buttons (hence her nickname, Golden Buttons) but it's going to be interesting using her as cinnamon substitute! She's considered a bit toxic, sort of like cinnamon or nutmeg or clove: a teaspoon or less, easy does it!
I got 2 Mint and 1 Thyme plant from the health food store. Oh boy, were they all root bound, poor them! From the one Thyme, I divided her into 4 new plants, and gave all the plants, including the 2 Mints, a good haircut.
I decided to get some new plants after having to oust out several infected plants (such as Nettle and Chickweed) onto the cold balcony because of Fungus Gnats and White Flies.
I must say that Diatomaceous Earth works wonders! I sprinkled it on top of the soil and even on the leaves of the plants.
I see a few gnats flying around here and there, but much less than before. It's a great anti-fungal that even us humans (yes, you and me) can take for parasites and candida.
Have I tried it?
The taste is not that great, best mixed in with a smoothie or juice to hide the taste, but it DOES help. Follow the instructions on the package: 1 tsp daily for 1 week or 10 days, then take 5 days off, then upgrade to 1 TBsp for the next 10 days. Take 5 days off, then continue @ 1 TBsp or do 2-3 Tbsp. You want to follow this 10 days on/5 days off schedule because many parasites follow this growth cycle. On the 5 days off, they are making babies and laying their eggs, and on the 10 days on you are doing the treatment with all kinds of anti-parasitic herbs!
You stop when your symptoms of gas, bloating, etc. stop. This can take up to 9 cycles and -of course- means you are following an anti-parasite/candida diet, as well as taking other measures, such as Wormwood, Black Walnut, garlic and doing enemas/colonics or herbs that flush those bugs out (like psyllium or bentonite clay or both or...).
OK, got carried away with those bugs, but they can be awfully pesky!!
Back on track: wanted to share a few recipes, no foraging today, but might go for Wild Grapes & Burdock roots later this week:
Anti-Cough & Sore Throat Thyme Honey (4 methods)
Method 1 Fresh Honey Infusion: Place FRESH Thyme leaves in a mason jar, rather loosely packed. How much thyme you have determines the size of the jar (1 cup, 2 cups, 4 cups etc). Add in a thick honey, and stir to coat the leaves. Add in more honey and stir to coat again. Pour more honey to the top of the jar, place on lid and screw cap and let sit 4-6 weeks. Strain out honey using a fine mesh sieve. You can use any jar (clear glass or amber) and keep in the cupboard.
Method 2 Dried Honey Infusion: Same as in Method 1, only now use 1-2 Tbsp DRIED Thyme for every 1 cup of thick honey. Let infuse for minimum 5 days (very mild) up to 4-6 weeks (now there's the potency we want!).
The difference in the methods? Using Fresh herbs makes the honey runny. Using dried herbs is preferred by some to lessen the occurrence of botulism.
Either way: add 1-2 tsp of honey to a warm cup of water and drink to help soothe dry cough and sore throat.
Method 3 Tea Infusion + Honey: Make an infusion with Thyme leaves: place 1/2 oz Fresh thyme leaves in a 2 cup mason jar, then pour boiling water to the top. Put on lid and screw cap and let sit 4-8 hrs. Strain. Add in 1 cup thick honey and stir to combine. Yes, it will be runny, honey ;P But that's just fine, that's OK! Store in the fridge for up to 2 months. To use: 1-2 tsp in a cup of warm water as needed, to soothe a sore throat and ease dry lungs/coughing.
Method 4 Thyme Oxymel (oxymel = acid + honey):
This method takes longer but boasts using probiotic-rich apple cider vinegar (ACV).
Place FRESH chopped thyme in a mason jar (size depends on how much herb you have) and pour equal* amounts of apple cider vinegar (ACV) with "mother" AND honey over the thyme to the top of the jar. Place on lid and screw cap and let sit 4-6 weeks. Strain.
*You can also try using 3 parts ACV + 1 part honey.
* You can also try using 1 part ACV + 3 parts honey.
To use: you mix this with oil and use as a medicinal dressing over salads, take 1 -2 tsp straight up as needed, OR add 1-2 tsp in a cup of warm water OR even add 1-2 tsp to a cup of warm soup...as you prefer.
Note: everyone has their own preference when it comes to honey. Clover and wildflowers are rather neutral, but go with what you like (e.g. I'm rather partial to the more expensive but wonderful manuka honey!).
Note: You can use these SAME 4 methods with OTHER herbs.
Rosemary, oregano, mullein, garlic, elecampagne & elderberry. You can use 1 herb (also called using a Simple) or go for a combination of herbs. These herbs are pretty common for helping with sniffles, runnys, achoos and other cold and flu symptoms.
A second recipe I wanted to share has to do with swimmer's ear. Yes, it's true: I got swimmer's ear from being in the shower! I thought it nothing at first, just water in the ear, but then it persisted.
What did I turn to?
My first thought was Mullein flowers, but I had none on hand. It's exceptionally rare that I get an ear infection, which is why I don't make my own Mullein oil.
My second thought was Garlic oil, which is easy to make in a pinch.
Here are 2 recipes you can use for swimmer's ear (whether from the pool or the shower) or earache:
Mullein Oil Ears Be Good
Fill a mason jar with Mullein flowers. Mullein flowers have a special way of growing, FYI. First, the flowers at the bottom of the stalk start blooming. Then the flowers continue to open at the middle of the stalk and then at the top of the stalk. Let's just say that the flowers all take their time blooming ;)
What that means is that you start collecting flowers as they flower/open. Good news: Mullein often grows with her other Mullein sisters (meaning you'll often find more than 1 growing together or not far away). Since the flowers open at different times, no worries: put however many flowers you have in a mason jar and cover with olive oil. Place on lid and screw cap and let sit in the cupboard. As you get more flowers, just add them to the jar and add more oil to make sure that the flowers stay coated in the oil. When your jar is full, let it sit 4-6 weeks, then strain and store in dark amber bottles. To use: gently warm the oil first. Lie down on a bed on the side opposite the infected ear. Place several drops in your ear and wait 10-20 minutes. Put a cotton ball on the ear and go about your business. You can also let the oil drain out of the ear as well. You can repeat this process 2-3 x a day. Stop if it's not helping and switch to another remedy (there are many out there, from using ACV to using a hair blow dryer to colloidal silver).
Peel and chop the cloves of 1 bulb of garlic and place in a crockpot or double boiler. Cover the chopped garlic with olive oil. Warm the oil gently on low for 1 - 2 hours, making sure the oil does NOT boil. Let the oil sit 8 hours or overnight. Strain out the garlic and store in a dark bottle. Use similarly as with the Mullein oil.
Note: I like to keep this oil in the fridge, then warm it when I need it.
Bonus: Since this is garlic-infused oil, it can also double and be used to make...ta-dah, garlic bread!! Even in the fridge, the oil doesn't harden (as olive oil is wont to do), but that's OK: simply drizzle over warmed up bread and enjoy!! Sure, you can also drizzle the oil first and then warm up the bread in the oven ;P You can also add the garlic oil to soups and stews or even pair this oil with ACV and pour over salads. YUMMERS! :)
Hope you've enjoyed all the great recipes, sunshine! I sure have :)
Ps. Keep you posted on any future foraging adventures, BUT IF NOT, look out for other great Wildcrafting Recipes!!!
Curiosity Got The Cat: