January 24, 2015

Traditional Medicinal Uses of Pine Tree Needles

White pine aka Weymouth Pine and Northern White Pine, is a tree native to Canada, and is favoured for woodwork carvings and furniture construction.
This soft pine is the provincial tree of Ontario, Canada and is one of the most commercially valuable trees for eastern North America.

The tall straight trunks made excellent naval ship masts, and some of the largest trees were reserved for the Navy. This made Eastern Canada the world centre for wood harvesting in the 19th century, that is until the Giant Pines became extinct from over harvesting.

The Native Iroquois considered this tree a symbol of their strength and endurance. The tree tips were boiled to make a nutritious tea. 

Scots pine aka Scotch Pine is used in the same way as White Pine and grows world wide, but doesn’t grow very well in North America. It is not used in the lumber industry, but it makes a good Christmas tree. Different Pine species are used medicinally in the same way.

Both Pine needle Essential oil and Pine needle Tincture treat coughs and colds. Pine opens up breathing passages and resolves congestion created by phlegm, mucus and catarrh. It opens the chest, relieves wheezing and is good to use for respiratory infections, inflammation and pain.
Pine is a cardiovascular and adrenal tonic, which makes it good to use to restore strength and alleviate fatigue.

Use the essential oil externally in steam inhalations for sinusitis or upper respiratory conditions like catarrh. Mix with base oils like hemp, coconut oil for chest or body rubs, or mix in the bath with carrier or in an Epsom salt, baking soda scrub.
Use the Pine needle tincture or cough syrup internally at acute dosages for coughs, colds and infections.

Caution is advised when using the essential oil in massage, it can irritate skin in large doses, because it is very drying. Do not use during pregnancy.

Pine should not be confused with Turpentine essential oil, which is made from the resinous pitch of fir and pine, and sometimes other trees like spruce, it is a medium strength remedy.

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Common Name Pine needles herb
Latin Name Pinus strobus (White Pine) 
Pinus sylvestris (Scots Pine) spp.
Family Pinaceae (Pine Family)
Parts Used Perennial tree pick young twig tips of evergreen tree needles
Target Organs Digestion, lungs, liver, urogenital, respiratory, adrenals, cardiovascular,
Common Uses Respiratory: relieves phlegm, opens sinuses,
coughs, colds, flu, congested sinus with headache, infection, dry and damp lung phlegm, bronchitis, tight chest, upper respiratory catarrh
Adrenal: Tonic to adrenals and uterus
Cardiovascular: Tonic to vascular system
Digestion: gas, spasms infection, catarrh, 
Immune: infections, arthritis, gout, inflammation, pain, 
Nutritive
Deodorant, foot perspiration, hygiene,
Properties Adrenal tonic, antibacterial, anticonvulsant, antidepressant, inflammatory- general local, antioxidant, antispasmodic(digestive, respiratory, general), antiviral, astringent, bronchodilator, carminative, decongestant, diaphoretic, diuretic, drying, relaxing/stimulating expectorant, haemostatic, nervine, relaxant, vascular tonic, vasodilator, uterine tonic
Constituents Essential Oil:
Monoterpenes up to 80% content, a+b pinene, limonene, borneol, bornyl acetate, cardimene, phellandrenes, pumilone, Pinicrin,
Esters: bornyl acetate
Monoterpene alcohol: borneol 2%
Other: Vitamin C, glucose, galactose, resin, tannin
Cautions mild remedy do not take during pregnancy.
Dosage Tincture: 1-4ml 
Tea: 1-2 tsp. infuse

Trees of Ontario – Linda Kershaw. Lone Pine publishing, 2001
The Energetics of Western Herbs- Peter Holmes.

January 20, 2015

How to Make the Garden an Extension of your Home

When choosing a house, one of the non-negotiable priorities for many buyers is that it must have a garden. There’s something about having that patch of lawn bordered by flower beds, or that useful patio, littered with pretty flowerpots, that we just can’t do without. And even when it’s the size of a postage stamp, we cherish it. So how can you appreciate your garden even more?

Portal

Having a solid wall between you and your slice of outdoors will never do. And whereas most people opt for a set of French or patio doors, this won’t invite the garden in like a bi or tri-fold sliding door. The beauty of this type of door is that it’s possible to have wall-to-wall glass, which then slides open and neatly folds out of the way.

With this type of door, you’re truly extending your kitchen or living area into the garden. Even when shut, you can see your garden unimpeded, plus the extra light brought in is a real bonus.

Creating Flow

An interesting way of extending into the garden, is to have the same flooring going from room to patio. This ‘infinity’ look can be quite effective. Solid oak flooring is suitable for both inside and out, and together with the sliding, folding doors, will create a large, combined living space. If you’re not into the wood look, then limestone tiles would work equally well or some frost-proof porcelain tiles. If there is a step down, then you may want to consider raising the patio so that it’s on the same level.

Mirror Plants

By choosing varieties that are equally happy indoors as out, you can have mirrored plants. Get matching containers and pot them up with the same plants. Then place one just outside the door and its twin on the inside. This further confuses where the garden starts and the house ends. If you think flowering plants might require too much maintenance, why not choose some robust succulents, which include cacti and sedum.

Furniture

To blur those lines even further, particularly if the room in question is a conservatory or living area, you may wish to consider all-weather furniture, both inside and out. There are some very attractive and comfortable sofas and chairs available, such as a mock rattan design.
With a little ingenuity, and by making relatively small changes, it’s very possible to give the illusion of bringing the garden into your home, for maximum enjoyment.

http://www.barrier-components.co.uk/

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January 12, 2015

Edible Beauties

Originally posted on Illustrated Bites:

View original

December 30, 2014

5 Mushrooms That Can Heal Wounds

Originally posted on Wild Foodism:

Let’s imagine you’re walking through the forest.  I like birch and hemlock forests, so let’s go there.

You’ve got a field guide in your backpack, a foraging basket, and several freshly-harvested oyster mushrooms to occupy the basket.  As you’re strolling down the path, you fail to notice a low-lying birch root along the ground.  Another step forward and your minimalist shoe catches the root, propelling not only your body into the air, but your prized oysters as well.  Never mind the oysters for now… let’s inspect that nice-looking wound on your knee (thanks, rock).

It’s a small wound … nothing serious.  You wash it, bandage it, and continue your trek through the forest.  At home, calendula ointment and honey take care of the rest.

That seems like a wise strategy … something I would surely do.  In fact, there are several remedies that can help to accelerate the wound-healing process. …

View original 1,279 more words

November 28, 2014

Chaste tree berries are a Woman’s Best Friend

Chaste tree berries Vitex L. look like light grey brown wrinkled peppercorn fruit or allspice. These berries also have the same spicy, warm and pungent qualities like peppercorns, but taste more bitter in flavour, not hot. They are not sweet like blueberry fruit, they were used more like cracked pepper spice.

This very popular berry is native to the Mediterranean and has a long history of being used to regulate sex organ functions. Chastetree berry has both relaxant and stimulating actions that normalize and restore.
It is a pituitary and ovary tonic that balances all conditions of the Female reproductive system including PMS, amenorrhea, dysmenorrhea, menopause and infertility.

Chaste tree berry regulates hormonal balance and ovary function through the action of the female hormones: estrogen and progesterone; although primarily progesterone.
The pituitary gland gets stimulated to increase or decrease progesterone or estriol levels.

It therefore treats progesterone deficient conditions, such as: osteoporosis, fibroids or fibrocystic Breasts, along with other female complaints.

The reproductive restoration is also due to a dopamine action that reduces prolactin release.

It reduces male hormones and has been called monks pepper or cloister berry, because it was popular among monks, or men of the cloth to help temper sexual desires. It was used as an anaphrodisiac to treat sexual overstimulation and to curb nymphomania.
When given to nuns however, it turned out to be a female fertility tonic and aphrodisiac.

It is also a good herb for the digestive system, treating poor digestion or liver function, which may be contributing to female reproductive conditions.

It is best taken in a tincture, the long infusion tea needs to be mixed with some better tasting herbs. Also mix in other female friendly herbs in the tincture like mother wort to create a formulation.

There are also two Asian Vitex species used in Chinese medicine: Mu Jing-five leaf chaste tree berry and Man Zing Zi- Seashore chaste tree berry that are used in the same way. They all share the same bitter pungent taste, having the same essential oil constituents and flavonoids, and are used also for rheumatic and arthritic conditions.
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Common Name Chastetree berries aka monk’s pepper, Chaste Lamb
Latin Name Vitex agnus-castus
Family Verbenaceae (Vervain)
Parts Used Perennial shrub mature fruit/berries picked in the Fall
Target Organs Female reproductive, urogenital, intestines, liver, pituitary, sinews,
Common Uses Pituitary Ovary Tonic
Female reproductive: PMS, amenorrhea, dysmenorrhea, menopause, infertility in women, hormonal imbalance, imbalance of ovary function, fibroids, swollen Breasts, withdrawn,
premature ejaculation, sexual overstimulation, sexual disinterest, progesterone deficiency,
Stimulates circulation, chills, painful joints, muscle tension, osteoporosis, fatigue,
Stimulates digestion, liver congestion, indigestion, fluid congestion,
Properties Bitter pungent, drying, regulating, anti-inflammatory (local, systemic) general antispasmodic (digestive, uterine) anxiolytic, astringent, analgesic, anti-androgenic (reduces male hormones) warming carminative, circulatory stimulant, diaphoretic, bitter digestive tonic stimulant, emmenagogue tonic, nervine, relaxant, female reproductive tonic, tranquilizer, uterine relaxant, ovarian tonic, pituitary tonic, progesterone, aphrodisiac/anaphrodisiac, 
Constituents Essential oil,
Flavonoids: casticin, isovitexin, orientin; 
Iridoid glycosides: aucbin, agnoside
Cautions mild remedy- Do not use during pregnancy or lactation
Dosage Tincture: 1-3ml Tea: long infusion 4-10g
October 20, 2014

Wormwood the Infamous Ingredient In Absinthe

Wormwood is an ingredient used in the infamous alcoholic drink absinthe, also known as the green fairy. It is an extremely bitter herb and absinthe was traditionally poured over sugar cubes to sweeten the taste.
When used on its own, it is a powerful medicinal herb. It’s main taste is bitter, which is good for stimulating the digestive axis of the stomach, liver/gallbladder and intestines. As its name suggests it expels internal worms, while it also provides immune support.

It is best combined with aromatic carminatives like peppermint, anise, fennel, ginger, chamomile, bergamot, thyme for taste and balance, just like the ancient recipe absinthe.

I prefer wormwood macerated in red wine to temper the bitterness. Steep it for at least a couple of weeks, and then strain. I take a single teaspoon once a day, for a week. Take small doses before or after meals as an aperitif. A tincture formulation is good, but the tea infusion might be too bitter to swallow. It is Not advisable to add sweeteners, the taste cannot be masked. It is better to taste the bitters to stimulate secretions for maximum medicinal power. This is a medium strength remedy so caution is always advised. Be careful dancing with the green fairy.

Use Artemisia species medicinally in the same way, including mugwort, annual wormwood, southernwood, but wormwood is the most bitter.

Wormwood is native to Europe and Western Asia and established in the temperate regions of North America.

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Wormwood herb starting to show its tiny yellow flowers from my garden.

Common Name

Wormwood herb
Latin Name

Artemisia absinthium
Family Asteraceae
Parts Used Perennial herb pick aerial parts, flowering tops bloom in July/August summer
Target Organs Digestion, stomach, nervous, urinary, reproductive
Common Uses Digestion: cooling bitter stimulant, digestive conditions, infections, poor digestion, promotes bile, indigestion, dyspepsia, flatulence, IBS, inflammation, parasites worms-pinworm, roundworm, threadworms, constipation, colic, poor appetite, anorexia, food poisoning, toxicity, headache, nausea

Stomach: all conditions,

Liver/gallbladder: congestion, infections

Moxybustion

 

Properties Cold bitter digestive, astringent, pungent, antibacterial, hepatic, liver decongestant, carminative, stimulating digestion immune, cholagogue, laxative, stomachic, anthelmintic, anti-inflammatory, tonic, nervine, antimicrobial, anti-emetic but emetic in large doses, vulnerary,
Constituents Sesquiterpene lactones, volatile essential oil, thujone, thujan, cineole, linalol, chamazulene, camphene, cadimene, monoterpene, pinene, phellandrene, azulene, bisabolene, flavonoid glycosides, rutin, quercetin, organic acids, amino acids, phenolic acids, polyacetylenes, lignans, ascorbic acid, tannins,

Cautions Medium strength: contains thujone a neurotoxin with narcotic properties. Large doses can cause vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramping, restlessness, tremors, convulsions. Long term use may lead to liver and kidney damage. Not recommended during pregnancy, lactation, infants, or if kidney or liver damage is present.
Dosage Use in formulations (herbal combinations) up to 25% of formula. continuous use should not exceed two months.
Macerate in red wine or vermouth: 1 small teaspoon a day for a week
Or used as an aperitif small sips before or after meals to aid digestion

Tincture: 1-2ml dilute with water 1 oz before consuming.
Mix a formula with aromatics, do not add sugar or sweeteners

Tea: 3-5g (Very bitter) infuse

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September 17, 2014

DIY Aromatherapy Deodorant

Just combine 2 simple ingredients with your choice of essential oils and you have got an easy to make, inexpensive, effective, long lasting natural deodorant.

DIY Aromatherapy Deodorant Recipe

Mix together:

1 cup baking soda
1 Tablespoon of activated powdered charcoal or less

Add Essential oils of your choice:

Good combinations are

Vetiver, Tea tree,
Lavender, Patchouli,

Place in spice, salt or pepper jars or small squeeze top bottle.

After a shower powder underneath armpits.

Powder can also be used to combat foot odour in shoes, or placed anywhere else that needs freshening up.

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September 2, 2014

Monarch Metamorphosis

Monarch Metamorphoses

What is an ending to the caterpillar is a beginning for the butterfly. One in the same cocoon. Trust the process.

“What the caterpillar calls the end of the world the master calls the butterfly.” Richard Bach

“A great beginning is sometimes at the point of what you thought would be the ending of everything.” Dodinsky

“The caterpillar does all the work but the butterfly gets all the publicity.” George Carlin

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For more information on how to help improve the Monarch butterfly population >

http://earthelixir.ca/2013/07/02/milkweed-is-not-a-weed-it-is-important-monarch-butterfly-food/

July 31, 2014

Ten Things NOT to Say to People Who Have Cancer

Ten Things NOT to Say to People Who Have Cancer

These are real actual things people have said to cancer patients.

1. Don’t ask cancer patients if they are going to lose their hair, it is upsetting and misguided. Cancer doesn’t make you lose your hair, chemotherapy does. There are many types of cancer, which are treated in different ways, and it doesn’t necessarily involve chemotherapy or hair loss.

2. Don’t blame a person for not going to the doctor sooner, and say it is their own fault for not looking after themselves. We live in a toxic society, illness happens to everyone. Illness is a defined human trait that no one escapes from, no matter how healthy we think we are and how often we go to the doctor.

3. Don’t blame a person for getting cancer because of their lifestyle habits. Some people who smoke get lung cancer, others don’t, but it is always unfairly assumed that they are smokers. While it is not a healthy habit it is still misguided to blame people at a time when they need the most compassion and understanding.

4. Don’t say that they have negative or bad karma, and that they must have done something bad, if not in this life, then in a past life. Saying to them that they must really be unbalanced and harbour dark energy is unhelpful, or that they must think really negative thoughts to get cancer and must be vengeful, or unforgiving.

5. Don’t tell them to just think happy thoughts because negativity will do more harm. People are allowed to feel what they want to feel. It is unhealthy to suppress emotions. Expressing all emotions is natural and therapeutic. Don’t placate and pretend everything is happy when clearly it isn’t, it’s ignoring the issue. Don’t deny people their feelings just because you can’t handle the upset.

6. Don’t tell them to keep it a secret or tell them not to tell anyone like it is something to be ashamed about. It is a personal matter whether someone wants to share their health issues or not. If they do share it with you, it means they need your support, understanding and empathy during a difficult time.

7. Don’t ask if it’s okay to smoke cigarettes around a person diagnosed with cancer while you light up a cigarette anyway. Or give excuses like it should be fine because you are by an open window, or wave your arms around and act like it is clearing the second-hand smoke. Minimizing toxicity during this critical time is paramount. This should be a no-brainer.

8. Don’t think that god quotes like “God only gives us what we can handle,” or “it’s just gods plan” are well meaning. It implies that you don’t have faith or are not spiritual if we question.

9. Don’t say they should pray if they are not religious or spiritual, it is misguided if they do not believe in the power of prayer. Although some people may find other people praying for them helpful not everybody does.

10. Don’t ask them to run or walk a marathon for a cancer charity event or to donate money towards cancer causes, unless it is their idea. Otherwise it preys upon people during a vulnerable time.

These prevalent attitudes and reactions to people with cancer in society may be well intended, but they really are a way for people to distance themselves from pain and illness. It is a misguided self-protective mechanism that is really mean-spirited and lacks empathy in a time when support and understanding are important. Blame blocks healing and isn’t helpful.

What would you want someone to say to you if it was you?

February 6, 2014

The Differences Between a Common Cold, Flu and Allergies

There are many subsets and variables of viral infections that play havoc with our system. The virus strains have an ability to adapt and evolve, which means that a vaccine cannot be made for the common cold.

A flu vaccine is produced using the influenza virus that causes the flu. Flu strains are predicted every year because the virus adapts and evolves into different strains and needs to be reformulated for the yearly vaccine. Getting a vaccine is not a guaranteed treatment prevention program. The vaccine is incubated in eggs, so avoid if an egg allergy is present.

Antibiotics only treat bacteria infections, not viruses or viral infections. Overuse abuse of antibiotics is leading to the production of “super-flu” strains, which is a major threat. Proper identification of whether you have a virus or bacterial infection is important for correct treatment.

Germs are spread by coughing, sneezing or hand to hand contact in close proximity and can live on surfaces for long periods of time waiting to be picked up. Frequent hand washing can cut risk along with breaking habits like touching your face a lot and biting your nails.
Read blog on DIY natural cleaning products that will kill 100% of germs – http://earthelixir.ca/2012/01/05/diy-natural-cleaning-products/

Invading forces trigger symptoms, which is the way our immune system fights off the germs. Mucus production traps infection, coughing and sneezing tries to expel them, and fever triggers healing mechanisms. Immunity plays a big role in our susceptibility and determines how well we fight off these foreign invaders. Everyone’s immune system is different and varies as much as the virus. Some people have autoimmune disorders and are more prone to getting sick, and others are just surrounded by lots of at risk groups like children. Children will typically get up to 9 colds a year and adults get 1-3; any more than this is a sign that your immune system needs extra help.

Strengthening the immune system requires all around proper nutrition, good quality sleep, sufficient exercise and successful stress management strategies.
Allergies will erode immunity and lead to autoimmune disorders, a myriad of other illnesses and possibly death, so it is important to eliminate allergens. The hard part is finding out what you are allergic to and then trying to stay away from it.

Both the cold and flu virus are more prominent in the winter time, or when people spend more time indoors with each other and is typically not a “season.” It was first thought that allergies were caused by nature, but it didn’t explain why people suffer from allergies in the winter time. Allergy season is typically spring and fall, but depends on specific allergens. Anyone can be allergic to anything, but it is all a sign the immune system and the body needs a boost. Listen to what your body is trying to tell you. Take time out to take extra care of yourself.

If a cold lasts longer than a week to ten days it is probably a bacterial infection like strep. If it lasts longer than a month it is more likely allergies.

SYMPTOMS

Common Cold
Caused by corona virus, adenovirus and subset variants

Upper respiratory
Runny nose, congestion, sore throat
Sometimes low grade fever
If a cold lasts longer than a week to ten days it is probably a bacteria infection like strep

Flu
Caused by influenza virus and subsets

More body aches, joint pain
Digestive disturbances especially in children diarrhea, vomiting
More lower respiratory ailments
Lung infections
Coughing, breathing problems, hacking
May lead to pneumonia and possibly death
Lasts longer

Allergies
If symptoms last any longer than a month then it is more likely allergies
Allergies present more itchy throat and eyes, sinus issues, congested or runny nose,
sometimes coughing

Essential oils like eucalyptus, tea tree, and other tree oils have typically been used to treat colds and kill germs that are even airborne. Herbs and essential oils work on so many levels that germs can’t easily adapt, and are still the best treatment and prevention.

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Article about how overuse and abuse of antibiotics is leading to superbugs

http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/bacteria-getting-upper-hand-in-antibiotics-arms-race-1.2555750

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