Archive for April, 2012

April 25, 2012

Violet honey

Following up the sweet violet blog http://earthelixir.ca/2012/04/19/sweet-violets/

I decided to go violet flower picking and make violet (Viola) honey.

Viola

 

Flower scented honey was very popular in Victorian times in England and violet honey was a favourite. Use flavoured honey as a spread, to flavour sauces and desserts, for tea, mead, wine, and anyway that you would use honey. Flavoured honey is delicious, nutritious, and it is simple and easy to make.

Violet Honey Recipe:

1 cup honey

½ cup of sweet violet petals

Directions:

Pour 1 cup of honey into a double boiler or a bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Warm on low heat and stir in violet flowers, I used a wooden chopstick to stir. Cover and heat on low for ½ hour. Turn off heat and let cool slightly. Remove from heat and leave the honey to infuse, covered for a week or pour it into a mason jar.

After a week slowly warm the honey again in the double boiler or a bowl over a simmering pan of water on low heat. The warm honey will be easier to pour and strain the flowers out with a fine mesh strainer and it put back into the jar.  Makes about 1 cup of flavoured Violet honey. Label jar or use a honey pot.

Flavoured Variations:

Rosemary is a popular breakfast preserve.

Infuse 4 springs of rosemary in 1 cup of honey.

Bibliography on Violet and Violet honey:

The Herb Bible  Peter McHoy Pamela Westland

Quarto publishing 1994

The Energetics of Western Herbs Peter Holmes

Lotus press 1998

The Complete Illustrated Holistic Herbal David Hoffman

Element books 1997

April 24, 2012

Dandelion

Dandelion is an amazing nutritious wild edible! Some see dandelion as a noxious weed and try to poison it, but it is amazing medicinal food that has gentle but deep action that detoxifies and nourishes. Dandelion is one of the best supporting herbs for the liver and kidneys, which are important organs for detoxification.

Dandelion is medicinally used in Western Herbalism, Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurvedic medicine. The West mainly uses it as a digestive bitter stimulant, diuretic, detoxicant and to restore the liver. It is prized in the Orient for its anti-inflammatory properties that treat acute and chronic infections. In Ayurvedic pharmacology the focus is on the bitter salty taste that drains and detoxifies.

Hardy Dandelion

Dandelion is a liver, kidney tonic that is well suited to treat toxicity related conditions including liver toxicity, chronic skin, joint and rheumatic conditions. It has demonstrated anti-tumour action in vitro and has proven anti-inflammatory, hypoglycemic, diuretic and cholagogue/choleretic properties.

Dandelion is a diuretic that helps to drain fluid and pulls toxins out through the urine. Its bitter taste stimulates digestive secretions such as bile and enzymes and it enhances the quality and quantity of bile helping to digest and break down fats. Its sweet taste due to inulin content restores liver and pancreatic function. The root has a high mineral content that gives it its salty taste that regulates and detoxifies fluids.

It is a well-rounded remedy that treats both deficiency and excess conditions and brings balance, nourishment and detoxification. If more people ate dandelions instead of pouring poison on them the world would be a healthier place.

Dandelions

Every part of dandelion is edible and used medicinally.

The root roasted and ground makes a good caffeine-free coffee substitute drink and still maintains many properties after roasting, grinding and decocting. The root is also decocted or tinctured fresh or dried.

The young leaves eaten raw in salads, as steamed greens or mixed in a stir-fry. 1 cup of raw dandelion leaves is more nutritious than 1 cup of broccoli.

The flowers are high in nutritive antioxidants and are edible raw in salads or cooked as fritters and made into wine, tea or tincture.

The stem has milky white latex inside that removes warts when applied frequently topically.

Dandelion root: picked in the fall or spring from second year or older plants when the larger leaves have died back in November or in early spring when the leaves are small in March or April.

The leaves are an option to add with the root tincture or make it separately. Both the leaves and root work on the kidneys and liver but the small difference is that the leaves have more action on the kidneys because of the higher potassium content and the root has more action on the liver.

Common Name  Dandelion
Latin Name  Taraxacum officinale
Family Asteraceae (Aster Family)
Parts Used Perennial/ the second year, older root picked in fall or early spring root, leaves, flowers 
Target Organs digestion, intestines, stomach,  urinary, kidneys, liver/gallbladder, spleen, pancreas, kidneys, blood, fluids, skin
Common Uses Antioxidant Nutritive culinary medicine

Digestion: bitter digestive tonic, laxative, inflammation, hemorrhoids

Urinary: tonic, urinary infections, gout, arthritis,  muscular rheumatism, edema,

Liver: tonic,  congestion, cirrhosis, gallstones,  inflammation, jaundice,

high cholesterol, high blood fats

chronic skin conditions, acne, eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis,  

obesity, fatigue, metabolic disorders

Properties Antibacterial, antifungal, antihepatotoxic, anti-inflammatory, antilithic, antineoplastic, antioxidant, antirheumatic, antiulcerogenic, antiviral,  aperient, appetite stimulant, astringent, bitter, cholagogue, choleretic, depurative, diaphoretic, diuretic, emetic in large doses, secretolytic expectorant, febrifuge, galactagogue, hypocholesterolemic, hypolipidemic, immune stimulant, lymphatic, nervine, pancreatic, relaxant, sialagogue, spleenic, stomachic, tranquilizer, vasodilator, vulnerary 
Constituents Bitter glycosides, triterpenoids, bitter resin, gum, phytosterols, fatty acids, tannins, essential oil, inulin, levulin, saponin, enzyme, citric acid,

Minerals: potassium, calcium, sodium, phosphorus, iron.

Vitamins A,C, carotenoids, choline, niacin, (mannitol in spring root)

Cautions Avoid during pregnancy and with diuretic, liver medications 
Dosage Fresh or Dried Tincture: 2-5ml                Decoction 6-16g
April 19, 2012

Sweet Violets

Nothing says spring like Violets! Not to confuse violets with the tropical African violets they are also known as Wild Pansy. There are so many varieties of Viola, which is their Latin name and what I prefer to call them so that there is no confusion. Sweet Viola is another nutritive antioxidant that is perfect medicinal food. Violet leaves and flowers are edible and are preferred fresh of course.  For tincture purposes using fresh Viola is also preferred. Viola is a nutritious remedy that detoxifies and decongests.

Use all species of Viola interchangeably because they have similar plant constituents and properties. For medicinal use the wild varieties of Viola are preferred over the cultivated garden varieties.

Common   Name Violet
Latin Name Viola spp.

Viola odorata- sweet blue violet

Viola tricolour- Heartease

aka Wild pansy, Johnny jump-ups

Family Violaceae
Parts Used Perennial- flowers, leaves picked in spring to summer. Best if eaten fresh.
Target Organs Central Nervous System, Nerves, Cardiovascular, heart, lungs, lymphatic, skin, kidney, bladder
Common Uses Nutritive antioxidant

Respiratory:   cough, bronchitis, colds, flu,

Lymphatic Immune   tonic,

Nervous system:   relaxant, pain, tranquilizer

Toxicity   conditions: skin conditions- eczema, arthritis

Properties anti-inflammatory, antirheumatic, cholagogue, diaphoretic,  diuretic, secretolytic expectorant,  depurative,   febrifuge, antineoplastic, nutritive, lymphatic, hypotensive, relaxant, nervine, vulnerary
Constituents Essential oils,   flavonoids: (anthocyanidins, violaquercetin,)

methyl   salicylate, salicylic acid, saponins, alkaloids, mucilage, tannins,

Minerals:   Calcium, magnesium

Cautions Heartsease is   high in saponins. Prolonged full dose may cause nausea, diarrhea and   vomiting. Best used in a formulation if taken for long periods.
Dosage Best eaten fresh or used fresh in a salad.

Fresh Tincture:   1-5ml best used in a formulation

Infusion: 8-16g

Viola odorata- Blue Violet

Sweet Blue Violets

This variety of Violet- Viola odorata is more medicinal. Sweet Blue violet herb and root has more expectorant, anti-tussive, antiseptic action than Heartsease that addresses lung damp or dry heat. It also has more anti-tumor action. The heart shaped leaves address matters of the heart.

Blue violet seed is a diuretic that is good for painful urinary conditions.

Viola tricolour- Heartsease aka Wild Pansy, Johnny jump-ups

Heartsease aka Wild Pansy

Heartsease growing in rye fields has been known to help skin conditions caused by too much rye wheat in the diet. There is a relationship I would like to explore more. As I curl up with my sweet blue violet fresh infusion, it is a reminder to make some Viola honey and syrups…mmmm

April 18, 2012

What’s blooming in the Garden?

 I can see why gardening is the number one hobby, it provides so many benefits. It is more than a hobby to me, it provides food and medicine for the mind, body, and spirit. Gardening is my connection to nature where I can recharge and rejuvenate.

Come and let’s take a walk, rejuvenate and see what else is blooming this time of year…

Forsythia is blooming and that means it is time to seed the grass. Forsythia is grown as a shrub or hedge border. It flowers first and then the green leaves grow in as a cover.

Periwinkle Vinca minor blooms early and looks good all year. It is a low growing ground cover that looks good spreading under trees or shrubs.

Glory-of-the-snow

Glory-of-the snow are spring bulbs that put on a show of blue to white colours.

Violet

Violets are one my favourite spring flowers because the leaves and flowers are so sweet and edible.

Forget-me-nots

Who can forget forget-me-nots? Their sticky buds cling to you when they turn to seed and they spread so quickly and easily they certainly do not let you forget them. They grow in cheerful clusters of white, blue and pink colours.

Thanks for stopping by the garden!

Come back soon and see what is in flower next…I have a feeling the tulips are about to bloom next :)

April 17, 2012

Welcome to my Garden

I am full of the joys of spring! I love watching the rebirth of nature this time of year. I thought I would share what is blooming in the garden right now. Come and join me for a stroll…

snowdrops

Snowdrops are the first spring bulb flowers to bloom and they have the right name, they can bloom and survive in the snow and cold.

Snowdrops open their flower heads when the weather is warmer.

Crocus is next to bloom in solid colours or stripes. I even love them peeking out from the lawn.

Everything is blooming a month early because it has been so mild.

I have never seen the daffodils bloom so early in March before.

daffodil

Daffodils come in a papery white colour too.

I love picking fresh-cut flowers.

Hyacinth House

The Hyacinths smell so delicious I love how they perfume the air.

A different variety of grape hyacinths look like blueberries to me.

Dutchman’s breeches just started to bloom. I guess the name refers to the flowers looking like breeches or pantaloons.

This trout lily is one of our wild forest flowers that blooms this time of year.

Trout Lily

I hope you come back and join me for another stroll and we will see what is blooming in the garden next. Thanks for stopping by!

April 10, 2012

How my Dad Overcame Diabetes

When my father got diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes he did not want to take the pharmaceutical medication offered to him because his arthritis medication he had taken earlier caused him to have a bleeding ulcer so severe he almost died.

****** Note to others who are taking pharmaceutical medications: Pharmaceuticals and even OTC remedies like aspirin can cause bleeding ulcers.

The doctor gave my father 4 months to change his diet and try alternatives to see if he could avoid taking the pharmaceutical medication for his high blood sugar levels. I usually do not treat family and friends because of the conflict of interest it can create, but if they come to me openly and willing how can I refuse?

I gave my dad an herbal tincture formula and some diet and supplement advice. I also gave him a glycemic index guide to help educate him on the sugar levels in foods and how they affect the body, and told him to start reading food labels.

When he started to read the labels on food he couldn’t believe how much sugar was in everything, not to mention the other types of code words for sugar like glucose, fructose, high-fructose corn syrups, now under the code word corn sugar, and the list goes on. He said no wonder diabetes is a problem; the over-consumption of refined sugars is killing people.

The danger with diabetes is that high levels of sugar destroy blood vessels which cause glaucoma, heart disease, and stroke. It is also good to avoid bad fats like hydrogenated, animal saturated fats, and processed and refined foods, because they destroy blood vessels just like high levels of sugar do.

When my dad went back to the doctor 4 months later he was no longer diabetic and his blood sugar was under control!!! My dad stuck with the change in diet and in 4 months he lost 20 pounds and is diabetes free! It is a comfortable weight loss of 5 pounds per month and he will be less likely to put it back on. He also avoided getting a knee operation for his arthritis, and now has less arthritic flare-ups and is pharmaceutical free. Not many seniors can say they are pharmaceutical free! The doctor also asked my dad tips about how to lower his own blood sugar.

My dad has stuck with his all natural diet, takes herbs and supplements and has maintained his healthy weight. Now he feels great, and everyone in my family has received better health benefits because of this immense change in diet.

When the problem is detected early the better the chances are for rapid recovery. An individual detailed diet is recommended because everyone is different and unique.

April 5, 2012

Rules for Ecological Wild-harvesting

Wild-crafting Guidelines

If you are thinking about wild-crafting or collecting herbs for medicine or food there are certain rules and guidelines to follow.  Correct identification is important to avoid fatal errors so when in doubt buy herbs instead.

Smiling Eastern Tree Frog

Do not harvest herbs in urban areas unless it is an emergency. Harvest herbs in healthy wilderness areas that are free from any sources of pollution. Don’t harvest near any major roads, road-sides or any area that has any intense agricultural activity. Herbs for wild-harvesting must grow 50m away from any road or be 100m away if it is dirt gravel road. Pick herbs at least 200m away from any agricultural industry other than organic farming. If there is running water nearby there shouldn’t be any sources of urban, industrial or agricultural pollution upstream. When in doubt buy herbs instead.

Follow these wild-crafting guidelines for health and abundance.

Make sure you have correctly identified plants because errors are fatal.

 

  1. Only harvest common species in the area you are harvesting. Do not harvest endangered species.
  2. Only wild-harvest herbs that are plentiful in the immediate area you are harvesting.
  3. Only wild-harvest herbs that have a healthy and strong local population.
  4. Never wild-harvest from more than 10% of herbs in any specific area.
  5. Never wild-harvest any herb if there is evidence that someone else has harvested in that area.
  6. Always find at least three different areas from which you can get each species of herbs that you need to wild-harvest from so that you never wild-harvest any species from any area more than once every three years.
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