Spring Herbs, Foods & Internship Excerpts~
One of my favorite ‘classes’ with Paul Strauss and 7Song in my fall internship, in 2011, at United Plant Savers ‘Goldenseal Sanctuary’, was the evening 7Song was asking about us, and somehow we got Paul Strauss to tell a story about “one of his most significant moments in his life”. He was in the South West, forgot which state he said, and he heard while in a small town about a mule race, where if you won you would get a large sum of prize money, AND the mules from the race. Many people didn’t believe he could do it, he had never worked with mules, let alone wild ones, and as he stated, he looked like a hippie, with long blond hair, sneakers and tye-dye. He had the recent knowledge of working with a Native American herbalist, and three herbs from that dessert excursion including: Peyote, Pinyo nuts, and Chaparral. First to get the mules to listen he tried to feed them Chaparral, with no luck being a strong herb. He later tried to get the wild mules to trust him, and follow him around the track to win, by feeding them Pinyo nuts and Peyote, and low-and-behold—it worked! He won the race, mules AND prize money, and was able to live in the wilderness by himself, learn about living close to nature, plants and more.
***Positive energy is as strong as gravity*** ~ Paul Strauss
Also that evening, Paul talked about one of his favorite, and now favorites of my herbs as well—Stinging Nettle!
“Can’t live without Nettles”, Paul stated. He uses them everyday, because they deal with connective tissues, are rich in Iron, treats allergies, and sinusitis. You can harvest Nettles throughout the year, since it is a perennial herb. Paul also said the are better tasting than spinach and healthier, I agree, though I tend to mix frozen-cooked nettles with a lot of Basil pesto with rice pasta, it tastes a bit strong for me, but still love the health benefits. The young shoots are best for medicine and food!!
“A plant that makes you pay attention is a wonderful thing”~ Paul Strauss
Thorns puts in formic acid in Nettle medication…whip self with nettles which brings blood to the area and speeds healing and reduces inflammation. Used to curdle milk, making fabrics, and is a compost bio-activator, cut back and activates nutrients in soil, and only compost it when not in seed or else it’ll become a Nettle bed! (my nettle blog link) Yarrow energizes the soil as well.
|Urtica dioica , Stinging Nettle|
The primary way Paul mentioned he loves to take his medicine is every morning, he makes what he calls “Smangi” tea, being an acronym.
S- Slipper Elm powder
M- Mint, Peppermint or Spearmint, to energize you
A- Alfalfa for healing joints and overall healing as well
G- Ginger, for digestion, respiration and joint health
**Extra: Lemon Balm & Red Raspberry leaves**
Nettle root is good for the treatment of UTI’s, and urinary tract related-problems, and Red Raspberry leaf is high in iron and calcium, so it is excellent for pregnant and menstruating women. Lastly, he mentioned Cayenne peppers, being one of the highest sources of vitamins A and C, Rose Hips are very high in vitamin C also, being a major digestive, stimulating herb, it helps promote blood clothing when in powered form (so do boiled nettles), and directs pathogens away from the G.I. tract. Paul also mentioned someone who made Cayenne a bit famous, Dr. John Christopher—who made salve with Cayenne, and alsowould use Cayenne on himself to show its herbal powers for arthritis and other ailments. 90,000 BTU Cayenne, along with Burdock and Ginger, among other herbs, is a very cleansing tincture. The sting of pepperspray is from Cayenne’s capsacin compound, which internally is pain relieving. Cayenne with Garlic, and soap, becomes an insecticide and pest, bug or animal, deterrent. Tiger Balm, to stimulate circulation and healing; hemorrhoids.
Also in this blog, I will focus on Yarrow, which I never wrote about, let alone knew much about, until recently. I first learned about Yarrow during my research on herbs to make my “Thymes Ancient Remedies” Allergy-Tea (above and on etsy). Other than that, I did not learn extensively of how useful yarrow is until taking Lise Wolff’s “3 Season’s of Herbal Medicine” course this winter. Some of the major things I took from her lecture on yarrow include: it is a powerful sunburn healer and preventer, fire-break say around houses, is excellent in preventing mosquito bites, and for colds, coughs, fevers, fever and flus. I thought it would be appropriate to talk about because, though it is not hot enough to have lots of bugs and possibly sun-burn, it is prime time to buy some from a store and make, until you can wild-craft and make some at home, for yarrow salve and oil. Currently, I have been getting great use of yarrow salve to treat my scrapes, bumps, bruises and achy muscles from garden-prepping.
“Yarrow is somewhat warm and dry and it has discreet and subtle powers for wounds.
If a person has been wounded by a blow, let the wound be washed with wine….
[and] gently tie warm yarrow… over the wound. It will draw out the infection
…and the wound will heal” ~ Hildegard of Bingen
Yarrow, Achillea millefolium, has an interesting history behind the name. It is thought to originally from the Greek warrior Achilles using in during Homer’s Illiad. Achilles taught his warrior’s the medicinal importance of this herb in healing wounds, though in several sources it was suggested that the Centuaur Chiron originally taught him what he know of this herb. Some other name’s it went by in history can include: thousand leaf, nosebleed, old man’s pepper, stanchgrass, knight’s milfoil Herba militaris, Garbe (German), yerw (Dutch), gearwe (Anglo-Saxon).
The Nitinaht Native American tribe used yarrow as a “medicine for everything” and would chew and swallow the herb straight (Moerman, 40). Though, don’t worry, you don’t have to go to that extreme to get this herb’s medicinal benefits. Yarrow was also historically used for: gonorrhea, listlessness, rheumatic pain, divination in China’s I Ching, and to keep high-way robbers and evil away, when worn as a talisman by the Anglo-Saxons. This bitter herb also was deemed gentle yet powerful enough to successfully treat “bruises caused by a severe fall”, from trees (Seymour, 128), and similar to Plantain, was able to draw out any “plint, iron, thorne or stub”, in the 17th century when mixed with cumin, southernwood, fenugreek and dittany (Jones, 4). Lastly, Nicholas Culpeper stated its poultice: “lessens bleeding, eases pain and induces sleep, cures wounds, inflammation, hemorrhaging and bleeding piles” (Jones, 7).
Yarrow is not short of medicinal properties and what they treat, including being antiseptic and anti-catarrhal, it is excellent at treating respiratory ailments such as hay fever, colds, and flus, tuberculosis and pneumonia, to name a few. As a diaphoretic, it will help you sweat out a flu’s fever, and keep you cool on hot days. Yarrow is also hemostatic in action, it stops AND starts bleeding, so if you have a bloody nose, or a wound that is gushing blood it is perfect, but if you also have excessive menstrual flow, it’ll slowly reduce that.
As an aromatic and digestive bitter, this herb is excellent at helping the liver and gallbladder digest whatever you just ate, especially it if is very fatty! Also, helps with diarrhea, kidney and liver problems. Lastly, Yarrow is the best bug-repellant and sunburn preventer ever! Also treats skin ailments including: sores, eczema, rashes, sunburn and burns; pain such as sprains, swelling, ear aches and headaches; lastly concussions, balance and memory problems (Moerman, 37-41) (Levy, 178-180) (Jones 2-11).
Wild Foods Foraging and Cooking with Rebecca Wood~~
I sadly didn’t remember everything that happened because I wrote in my journal a little late, but here are some recipes that we made from our foraging adventure with Rebecca Wood, a local teacher who takes people, like us on wild foods walks and than teaches you how to make food with it—how awesome! We made delicious wild foods health crackers: Kale, Nettles, Peppers, Lambs Quarters, Sesame & Flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, whole grain flower, olive oil. Being a bit chilly this day, we also made an excellent Wild Mushroom & Greens Soup: Oyster, Chanterrel, Morrel mushrooms (and some local, organically grown “14 Mushroom Mix”), Purslane, Kale, Onions and Garlic, and Lambs Quarters. Below is the recipe for our ‘wild greens’ pesto we whipped up.
Wild Greens Pesto~
This recipe was created at the United Plant Savers ‘Goldeseal Sanctuary’ in Rutland, Ohio, when I was an intern there the fall of 2011. We created this Pesto up with a local wild food/forager, teacher, Rebecca Wood! This is a very unique-twist to a popular favorite!
3 cps of Basil (Sweet, Italain, Thai, and Lemon)
1 handful of Kale 3-4 handfuls of Wood Sorrel
1-2 handfuls of Purslane 1 small handful of Amaranth
2/3-3/4 cp Walnuts 3-5 cloves of Garlic
½-3/4 cp Olive oil ½ cp or Parmesan to taste
1) Lightly brown the walnuts in the oven, at 325 for 5-7 minutes. Remove from pan and chop on a cutting board.
2) Combine Basil, Kale, and Sorrel, with the Garlic, Walnuts and some Olive Oil. Blend till smooth. Scrape contents from the sides of the blender, add the Purslane and Amaranth, and slowly more oil when it looks like it needs to be more wet.
3) Add the rest of the Olive Oil, parmesean and salt (you can add more or use less of any greens based on your taste buds). Best Enjoyed on Spinach and Whole Wheat pasta with local chicken, or as Tomato sauce substitute for a Pesto Pizza! **Side Note—you can freeze the final product in ice cube trays, and take out what you need the a few days before using, and thaw in the fridge**
Recipes of the Month:
Minnesota has recently felt like spring—for me this means wearing t-shirts, skirts, sandals, and of course—eating spring greens! My favorite spring greens include: purslane, stinging nettle and dandelion, which can be used in many ways The following is my favorite wild-greens recipe, though there are many more where that came from!
Quiet Creek Wild Greens Salad~
This recipe was put together after a wild food & foraging walk, at the Quiet Creek Herbal farm in Pennsylvania, when I was an intern. This was my first time hearing of, let alone tasting, Purslane— since it has a special place in my ‘wild foods’ part of my heart.
-4 handfuls Romaine Lettuce -3 handfuls Kale
-2 handfuls Lamb’s Quarters -1 handful Purslane
-2 handfuls “Deer Tooth” -Watercress to taste
-1 handful Dandelions -Chevre or other cheese topping
-Raspberry balsamic vinaigrette OR olive oil with Balsamic Vinegar
1) Freshly and wash all greens immediately in cold water, than dry
2) Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, or with raspberry balsamic vinegar and fresh Chevre – ENJOY
Purslane & Sorrel Summer Soup~
Serves 2 people
This recipe is featured in Pamela Jones’s “Just Weeds” Purslane, or Portulaca oleracea section. She states it is one of her favorite simple, creamy Purslane-soup recipes, and I am definitely adding it to my ‘herb recipes to cook’ list!
-1 cup Purslane
-1 cup Sorrel tops
-Chicken or Beef broth, 1-2 cups (or to taste)
1) In a medium-sized soup pot, heat 1-2 Tbsp butter over medium-high heat; add the Sorrel tops and Purslane. Cook for 2-3 minutes.
2) Pour into soup bowls, and add heated broth! Enjoy hot or cold
**SIDE NOTE—for a creamier winter soup, sauté onion with butter, use ½ lb Purslane and Sorrel tops each, 2 Tbsp flour and 2 cps Chicken broth; puree. Add 2 more cups broth-OR 1 cp broth and 1 cp milk/cream). **
-Bairacli-Levy, Juliette de. Common Herbs for Natural Health. Woodstock, NY: Ash Tree Publishing. 178-180. Print.
-Jones, Pamela. Just Weeds: history, myths and uses. New York, New Work. Prentice Hall Press. 1991. 2-11. Print.
-Moerman, Daniel E. Native American Medicinal Plants: an ethnobotanical dictionary. The medicinal uses of more than 3000 plants by 218 Native American tribes. Portland, Oregon. 2009. 37-41. Print.
-Seymour, Miranda. A Brief History of Thyme and Other Herbs. London: John Murray, 2002. 127-128. Print.