Tag Archives: Herbal medicine

Making Fire Cider

Fire Cider ingredients by Mountain Rose Herbs
Fire Cider ingredients by Mountain Rose Herbs

Fire Cider is a traditional anti-flu, anti-infection medicine made with lots of garlic, horseradish, onion, ginger and optional herbs like chilies, turmeric, oregano, thyme or the anti-infective herbs of your choice, steeped in apple cider vinegar.  For many years I have been making and selling Fire Cider to my patients, after purchasing a bottle from one of Rosemary Gladstar’s students.  Like the vinegar of the Seven Thieves this is one of the medicinal herb-infused vinegars that have existed for about as long as there has been vinegar.  Continue reading Making Fire Cider

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Cloves for Preservation and to Lift the Spirit

Fresh cloves in hand
Raw Clove Flowers-Image via Wikipedia

Two months ago I made a chai tea redolent with cloves, but without milk or sugar.  I put it in my water bottle to drink during the day, but it was pushed behind other bottles and I forgot about it.  Two weeks later there was not one spec of mold floating in the liquid and a quick smell and taste of a few drops revealed no souring.  I was curious and put it back.  Two months after making it shows no growth of organisms or off taste or odor.  Which got me thinking about the Spice Route.

In the ancient time, refrigeration was unavailable, especially in cities where cellars and ice were generally unavailable.  Spices were important not only for food preservation, but to fortify the digestion and to cure food poisoning.  In Europe where there was little tradition of fermenting meat, spices or smoking (often with spices or aromatic wood) were the primary way of dealing with meat that might not be fresh.  Cloves were one of the most important. Continue reading Cloves for Preservation and to Lift the Spirit

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Grow Your Own Drugs

photo by Meggar
Oregon Grape-  Image via Wikipedia

It is almost Spring, depending on where you are in the country.  Time to start the annuals and to awaken the garden.  Even if your garden is primarily ornamental, you can include medicinal herbs, many of which are lovely.  And don’t forget to eat the weeds, once you know what they are and what is safe!          Continue reading Grow Your Own Drugs

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People Use Herbalism Because It Works Better

176461~Still-Life-Drying-Herbs-and-Spices-PostersA recent study in Great Britain queried people as to why they went to medical herbalists, a category of herbalists who have training much like Registered Herbalists of the American Herbalists Guild, people with the NCCAOM Oriental Medicine  Diplomate designation or other trained herbalists. Most of the patients had not initially sought out herbalists, but Continue reading People Use Herbalism Because It Works Better

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Sinusitis and Herbs

This is the time of year when we see a lot of sinusitis. There are several causes, and many things that can get rid of the condition.

sinusitis_bigIt helps to understand how sinuses work. The sinuses form a kind of cup that serves to lubricate our respiratory tract. Sinuses work like an overflowing teacup, filling with a thin liquid that moves up with the cillary action of small hair like cells and drips down your nose and throat, lubricating the tissue and providing mucus, potentially a designer antibiotic fluid that can fight off infection, prevent abrasion and protect tissues. The problem comes when the fluid is cooked down and is too thick to flow. This is considered pathological Phlegm in Chinese medicine. The problem isn’t usually that you make too much mucus, it is that the mucus has cooked down and exerts pressure on your sinuses, nasal tract and lungs. Continue reading Sinusitis and Herbs

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Don’t Use Echinacea for This Season’s Flu

echinaceaIt looks like last year’s rather mild flu may turn more virulent this season.  It already is killing large numbers of people in unusual ways, especially those of Asian or Native American descent.  The most vulnerable seem to be not the aged or the young, but healthy young adults.  And it has killed people during the summer, a time when influenza deaths are all but unheard of. The 1918 flu pandemic which killed millions worldwide started out mild too.

If the flu acts like the 1918 pandemic, it will cause a cytokine storm, where your immune system can overreact, rapidly killing you.  In cases like this you do not want to use immune system stimulants like echinacea.  You are better off with Vitamin D and immune modulators which will not hype up your system if you don’t need it. Continue reading Don’t Use Echinacea for This Season’s Flu

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How Chinese Herbs Help the Heart

This study only looks at one mechanism, but it is quite interesting, and found that Chinese herbal patents (OTC herbal formulas, confusingly referred to as “TCMs”) helped produce nitric oxide to widen blood vessels.  heart zoomAll of the herbal patents tested reveal nitric oxide bioactivity. Many of the TCM extracts contain a nitrite reductase activity greater by 1000 times that of biological tissues.

Scientists help explain effects of ancient Chinese herbal formulas on heart health

New research at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston suggests that ancient Chinese herbal formulas used primarily for cardiovascular indications including heart disease may produce large amounts of artery-widening nitric oxide. Findings of the preclinical study by scientists in the university’s Brown Foundation Institute of Molecular Medicine for the Prevention of Human Diseases (IMM) appear in the Sept. 15 print issue of the journal Free Radical Biology & Medicine. Continue reading How Chinese Herbs Help the Heart

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The Sweet Herbal Blog Party

Each month herbalists are encouraged to submit articles to the Herbal Blog Parties, hosted by various herbalists.  The August party had as its theme sweet ways to use herbs, including herbal honey’s, glycerites, elixirs, electuaries, melomels and the like.  If you need definitions, go down to Kiva Rose’s article which has an overview.

Kiva'w Wild Rose Tincture
Kiva's Wild Rose Tincture

While we generally want to keep sugars low in our diet, there are legitimate uses for sweet herbs.  Sugar in its various forms is used in a variety of traditional medicines.  In Chinese medicine it strengthens the Spleen/pancreas function (in judicious quantities) and formulas often use dates, honey, longan fruit, or licorice to engage the digestive function.  Ayurveda makes medicinal honey and ghee preparations like Chayawanprash. Continue reading The Sweet Herbal Blog Party

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Numen, an Extraordinary Film About The Plants

Numen is a film that previewed at the International Herbal Symposium this June. It features prominent herbalists, botanists and ethnobotanists like Rosemary Gladstar, Tierona LowDog, the late Bill Mitchell, Stephen Buhner, Phyllis Light, Ken Ausubel, James Duke and Rocio Alarcon, among others. Numen, defined as the animating force in nature, brings together innovative thinkers to discuss how our disconnection from nature affects human and environmental health and the healing made possible by embracing our place in the wider web of life.

You can view a 15 minute preview here:

Rosemary Gladstar

The 80 minute film features wonderful time lapse photography and will be an extraordinary DVD to show and replay. The DVD will include tutorials on growing and harvesting medicinal herbs, preparing kitchen medicine, and on the growing field of ecological medicine and should be available later this month from the site above.

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Sleep and Health

Summer brings more light and usually increased levels of activity.  You can indulge in more work or play.  But don’t let that extra daylight rob you of sleep.


Example of dark circles
Example of dark circles (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Sleep is essential for your well being.  One study published in the journal Science found that the quality of our sleep has a greater influence on our ability to enjoy our day than our income or our marital status. Yet, we remain a sleep-deprived culture.


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The Herb-Blog Party

Blog Party! The Wonderful and Weedy Ones

It’s here! It’s the blog party! We have an amazing collection of writings on all sorts of weedy wonders that herbalists near and far love dearly.
Here’s the breakdown!

Karen Vaughan on Plantain!
Dragonlady on dandelions
Greenman rambling on Ground Ivy
Lady Barbara on Teaselbravado
Field of Tansy on Self Heal
Aquarian Bath on Mulberry!
Rosalee of Methow Valley on Yellow Dock!
Tales of a kitchen Herbwife on Sorrel and Watercress
Abby Artemisa on Garlic Mustard
Granny Sam on Mullien
Medicine Woman’s Roots on Nettle Seed Harvesting
Dreamseeds on Cottonwood

And Darcy Blue, who called the party will soon have her post on sweet clover (meliotus).

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Russian Folk Remedies

A fascinating look at Russian herbal folk medicine from the St. Petersburg Times:    Mumiyo is the Russian form of Shilajit.  I suspect they mean charcoal instead of coal.

Garlic, Mustard and Herbs: Russian Folk Remedies

Alexander Belenky / The St. Petersburg Times  A visit to the banya is believed to be good for the lungs, but not always for the liver.
Alexander Belenky / The St. Petersburg Times A visit to the banya is believed to be good for the lungs, but not always for the liver.

By Irina Titova

The St. Petersburg Times

If, when entering a Russian home or even an office, you are hit by the strong odor of raw garlic, it’s not necessarily because someone is cooking or eating garlic.

More likely, it is because someone is ill, and in order to stop others from getting infected, people have chopped up garlic and left it on a plate. In Russia, many people believe that garlic’s phytoncaedos kill diseases — even viruses as strong as flu.

Garlic therapy is one of Russia’s most popular folk remedies. During flu epidemics, Russian parents may put a piece of garlic in their children’s pockets. They also tend to eat more garlic in the winter in order to strengthen the immune system. Continue reading Russian Folk Remedies

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