slaying the serpents of health anxiety #2!

1. use bitters!!! whether a tincture of bitter herbs, raw or cooked bitter greens, a bitter aperitif before dinner–bitters promote good digestion and assimilation.

2. F you raw food fruitarians! look, i try to be tolerant. but please stop promoting the fact that packaged “live” food snacks that cost 8.00 each are in any way reasonable. this is elitist caca. if all-raw food hapens to agree with your consitution, well, great. but the mere thought of eating a cucumber tofu sprouts wrap on a cold and rainy mid-october day literally chills my soul.

3. is there any possible way all humans could have evolved to NEED coconut oil every day? no, there is not.

4. is there any way “rescue remedy”, grapefruit seed extract, apple cider vinegar, diatomaceous earth or manuka honey  could possibly cure everything? no, there is not.

5. do you need to make kids separate food? less tasty food? hell no. model adventurous eating! please, friends, observe my 9-year-old son eat copious kale and octopus sushi. without a bribe. shhh, he thinks it’s “normal”.

6. gluten free has been a godsend to those with celiac disease. however, beware of replacing wheat with gluten-free junk food. it tends to be high glycemic and full of sugar. good for a treat, but not what i’d build my pantry on.

7. all food trends, from gluten-free to vegan to paleo and more-are what you make of them. some people seem to thrive on rules when it comes to food…but remeber, noone has all the answers. (including me!)

8. we do need to slay the myth that food and medicine are to be kept separate. food is medicine is food. food is poison is food.

9. if it sounds too good to be true, it is.

10. don’t look to “superfoods”, turdy little vitamin bars , packaged drinks and exotic snacks as your main food sources. that stuff is crap. nourishment does not come just from eating good foods. it also comes from the growing, the foraging, the cooking, the sharing, the plotting and mmm-ing.

11. advertising is manipulative. they are trying to sell you something. your skepticism should know no bounds. they do not care about you. they want your money.

12. a little wine with dinner is fun.

 

on slaying the poisonous serpent of health anxiety

perhaps you have noticed a great increase in people with many allergies lately? and wondered how humans made it this far….alive. inability to digest what we eat is one of the major problems filling up herbalists’ offices across the land. but why? obviously, the most important issue is that our food supply is a bunch of crap—salty-pesticide-laden corn, wheat and sugar made into many different cute shapes. yet many people eat that crap and do just fine. why?

well, i for one would prefer to eat a hot dog amongst friends than the most delicious healthy meal in a pit of vipers.

i would prefer to thankfully snack on a bucket of evil marshmallows than to resentfully down  a bowl of  kale.

i would prefer crap made with love, by hand, over microwaved “allergen free”  “health food” eaten in front of the tv.

because though food can cure and harm, it is not always JUST the ingredients that affect us. the rituals, the feelings, the associations around our food all feed us.

you can eat all the coconut butter and acai berries and seaweed in the western hemisphere but still not be well.

why?

wellness is not just the absence of discomfort. it is also connections-to community, to the earth, to our families and-most importantly- to ourselves.

anxiety about food and health can CAUSE indigestion! when i feel anxious i suffer from poor appetite, tension in my stomach, acid reflux, short transit time, churning “butterfly” feelings and indigestion-induced sleeplessness. which leads to more anxiety. which leads to more indigestion. which leads to more anxiety. which leads to more indigestion. which leads to more-well, you get the idea.

i am not alleging that it is all in your head. but sometimes some of the problem is in our heads, in our hearts and in our long-held ideals, value judgements and in our constant fears and worries around food.

resilience-physical resilience, emotional resilience–is at the root of wellness. for humans, for animals, for plants and the earth.

i do believe that it is best to try to eat in a healthy way. i do believe that sugar is poison and junk food has taken over and colonized our tables. i do believe it is good to eat local, to simmer bone broths and avoid most of the garbage they call “food” at the supermarket. however, i believe we need to do so for the right reasons and with a sense of humor, a sense of joy. this is not a battle, it is not a war. we are privileged to be able to choose good foods for ourselves.

truly good food is nothing less than a sacrament. and yet for some of us, a hot dog among friends can be a sacrament too.

you’d better believe i have a lot of these puppies stockpiled!

 

 

what is bias?

BIAS. noun. prejudice in favor of or against one thing, person orgroup compared with another, usually in a way considered to be unfair .

to concentrate on a particular subject.

bias inhibits impartial judgement.

so–is this blog biased? yes. it is. should you EVER make any decision based only on this blog? no way. except, perhaps, “is this blog kicking ass and taking names”, of course.

when someone is selling something, they are biased TOWARDS it.

when someone is philosophically opposed to something, they are biased AGAINST it.

for example, i am biased towards herbs and against pesticides.

this blog is not balanced. it does not present every side of any story. however, what this blog does have is DISCLOSURE. yes, i am selling something. no, you do not have to buy it. yes, i fully admit that this is all my opinion. no, i don’t give a rat’s ass if you disagree. see? disclosure is fun! it’s healthy!

i feel strongly that people looking for health information should always get more than source of information…at least one of which is not selling something. i feel that folks should TRY something before recommending it to others. and i feel that opinions should NOT be called facts.

i feel that any psycho who can fog a glass can make a blog–myself included. that is part of why the internet is so amazing and equalizing. and so dangerous.

so take every word here with a grain of salt. ask yourself-does this make sense? does this resonate with me? is she off her rocker? and try it out for yourself! think it through, bang it around in your head and heart and see if it comes out the other side intact…

“someone on the internet said this is red clover”

 

 

On the Joys of Doing Nothing

spring forth, all.

So…nothing. It is my #1 medicine. No, i am not a nihilist. They are obsessed with nothingNESS. Big difference. iI am into standing by, quietly, while stuff happens without my meddling. Why does nothing work so well? Because the human body is a little ecosystem which has built-in ways to resolve much of the challenges that come along.

I am not talking about emergency medicine. Not the Ebola virus, people. I mean self-limiting illness. The common cold. Non-fatal wounds.  Mild to moderate gas. Just wait.

It is fun to support ourselves and others when moderate non-fatal illnes comes along-chicken soup, hot nourishing infusions, basic hygiene, rest, herbal steams. Addressing symptoms has a place in the world.  However, it is amazing to realize that with or without us and our potions the human body exhibits the will to heal. Need a salve for wound healing? not really-wounds heal. Herbs may be better used here to keep it clean. Need some herbs to “dry out” mucous? Just remember, mucous is  often there for a reason. Dry it at your own risk. Echinacea/Goldenseal to “ward off” a cold? Not only is a cold natural, we can drive illness deeper with endless faux immune boosters.

Additionally, why not live everyday for health? I often see folks get ill and decide to temporarily swear off their normal 3 pounds of sugar a day, cram a ton of vitamins and herbs in,  and increase their nightly rest from 4 to 6 hours.  Good health is like a savings account that you make deposits into every time you nourish yourself! You cannot draw health funds out forever without replenishing. Basic self-care  is a life skill worth practicing all the time, not just in times of crisis.

azul!

The other day my son came home with a fever, headache, tiredness and mucous. I propped him in front of the woodstove with a blanket and an herbal infusion for fever support and lymphatic moving. I did nothing to lower his (mild) fever. He ate very lightly and put himself to bed very very early. The next morning he was back to normal.

Now, had I placed him next to a Himalayan salt crystal lamp or rubbed him with overpriced  hemp seed oil and precious endangered goldenseal I could have said “see! those things work!” and if I see a salt lamp regenerate a severed limb I will be impressed. But until then my dreaded indoor electro-smog is not keeping Levi from overcoming his self-limiting illness naturally and quickly.

This may sound funny coming from an herbalist. but i am not an herbalist IN ORDER TO sell products. iIprovide herbal tinctures to those who want or need them because I llove to share my love of plants and humans.  But moving product by any means necessary does not drive my day.

And all this is not to say don’t use herbs. Not at all!  DO use herbs-for nourishment, for support, for emotional and physical and spiritual wellness! And use movement, use grounding, use rest and therapeutic talking and writing, Use healthy sexual expression  and love and ferments and meditation and baths and dance and sunshine and a shot of whiskey. Lord knows in this world we can use all the help available to make it through. But do not let these  goods and services  take the place of your own life force, the most amazing-and free-medicine available.

purple power

manuka honey ain’t all that

dear friends,

boy, honey sure has become trendy lately, eh? and it should–it is a miraculous substance. i am  a beekeeper, i keep 3 top bar  hives which are completely and utterly treatment free–not “organic”, beyond organic. and i love it. i use the propolis, the beeswax and some of their  honey for myself, my family and herbal clients.

hungry little honeybee

 

i use propolis to support the immune system, to promote healing, to soothe sore throats, to deal with mold exposure and some other nasal allergy issues, to banish nasty bad bacteria in wounds, to fix up tooth and gum issues. amongst other things.

apis something-or-other

i use honey to flavor elixirs, to support immune system, to address some seasonal allergies, on burns and some types of wounds, to soothe sore throats and other cold-and-flu related illness. amongst other things.

and beeswax is a main ingredient in the majority of the salves and balms that i make.

manuka, my buttocks.

however, i do not use or recommend manuka honey. i am not alleging that manuka honey is “bad”–more that it is promoted as a cure-all and as an “exotic” which is somehow better than what we ourselves can make. bullshit.  local raw honey contains the local pollen, supports small local beekeepers and doesn’t need to be shipped from new zealand. which, for me, is far. beware of marketing, my friends.

honeycomb, baby!

 

ultimately, i suggest  that all households keep their own treatment-free bees and watch them make their own honey, and use that when appropriate-though not as a substitute for actual medical care when needed.

swarm!

 

honeybees give more than just honey. they pollinate a large amount of our flowering plants. and they are fascinating. sometimes i like to stand near my hives and just feel the buzz that emanates, smell the warm resinous hivey smell, watch the ladies going from flower to flower on my ground-ivy-yarrow-prunella “lawn”. hands on, baby–it is part of the medicine!!! ordering a jar of WAY overpriced manuka honey from halfway around the world does not come close to sticking your nose into the top bar hive and inhaling…finding the queen…watching the colors of their legborne pollen change with the seasons….hanging out in the sun with a couple of snuggly drones…the honey dance…oh, and then there is the swarm–a force to behold.

plant things that bees like!

 

does an herbalist shit in the woods? on qualifications, detox madness and spotty dogs

in the absence of an actual herbal oligarchy to tell us who is a qualified “expert” herbalist and who is a freaking quack i will be providing, as a public service, a short checklist of qualities that i personally look for in an herbalist. note that i do not believe in experts nor am i telling you what to do– i think you should make your own darn list! but i provide this example merely to make a point! though  i don’t actually know what that point is.

1. can your herbalist shit in the woods? yes, people, i am serious. can the peson who is making your medicine excrete out of doors without whining. it is my favorite test of character.

2. how many years of provisions does your herbalist have buried in the backyard? preparedness, baby.

3. can your herbalist be seen without his or her girdle? openness.

4. can your herbalist identify the smell of mycelium? genius.

5. ask your herbalist how many times a bat’s wings flap from the barn door to the old oak! um, math!

6.does your herbalist hang with 3 dwarves and  a magical spotted dog who leaps canyons? ok, maybe that’s just me.

7.can your herbalist tell an acorn from a remote control? a puffball from a dirty sock? a honeybee from an airplane…

8. has your herbalist licked a toad?

9. can your herbalist identify and imitate an owl’s hoot? bonus points for a fabulous schnozzz.

10. has your herbalist ever killed a man with his or her bare hands?

11. ok, number 10 was kind of ridiculous. i was on a roll.

“what’s good?” on special orders

in my former life as a diner waitress i would go nuts when dudes plunked themselves down at my counter and asked “what’s good, honey?” it irked me becasue i was like “oh, it’s all good or we wouldn’t be serving it, you know? anyway, i don’t know what the heck you want”… since then i have changed my mind. the food was pretty much all bad, and i DO know what you want-even if you don’t know it yet!

i’m an herbalist, a grower and a forager, and a sometimes-writer, and this is a one-woman apothecary so all that “business” crap comes as a waaaaaay second to my more hands-in-the-muck work. however. in an attempt to be more responsive to YOU my customer -and i do love and appreciate you!!-i am going to list what IS actually especially good at the moment, or interesting at least, and try to do so seasonally. rest assured, all of my herbal products are good–or they get the boot! bam! but some just shine, ya know?

wild rose

so how can you get this stuff? you could check out my local harvest store, link at right, where a representation of the apothecary is listed. but listing is  a process , that list is not exhaustive, so feel free to inquire and special orders  should be obtained by clicking, yes,  SPECIAL ORDER, with your choice in the memo. i also joined 2012 by getting paypal recently-whoa.

doll’s eyes

ok, i hereby commence my list of top 10 awesome fall fellow workers farm products:

-sweetfern elixir. yes, it is the leaf and twig of sweetfern (comptonia) in brandy with maple. limited quantites! i also have a sweetfern tincture straight up.

-hyssop tincture. a great mint family plant for coughs and more, this year’s batch was noticeably vibrant. (hyssopus officinalis)

-propolis tincture. the strongest around! propolis plays well with others in combinations for throat spray, wound wash, immune support and more.

bee buddies

 

-arnica/pine salve. i am loving this combo! it is actual pine resin and actual arnica flowers, smells great, i use on all kinds of bonks, wrenches, bruises, welts and kinks. i find it warm and comforting. 1 oz. jars.

-barberry root/bark tincture. don’t hate “invasives”, use them! this berberis is closely related to oregon grape root and also shares SOME properties with goldenseal. very bitter! yellow power. good to have around for the nasties.

-monarda. i have already listed monarda fistulosa tincture, and it is great, but did you know that i also have monarda didyma, punctata and bradburiana? in smaller quantities, but all fresh flower/tops. hmm, do i see a monarda tasting party in my future? i am a little obsessed.

-honeysuckle flower, tincture of fresh japanese honeysuckle shrub(lonicera) which is seriously awesome. flu-fighter? perhaps. combines well with boneset,  elder, and yarrow.

-mullein! verbascum! along with leaf i also have small quantities of the root and flower, both fresh, and can make up any combination of the parts.

sweetfern

 

-milky oat elixir. that would be fresh milky oats tinctured with a vanilla bean in brandy. with or without maple. it’s actually damn good. and deeply nourishing.  limited quantity! (avena.) combines well with linden elixir.

-nettle seed. tincture of fresh seeds. kinda hard to find.

i am also all worked up about helping folks make their own special nervine blend–for relaxation, to move energy, to recharge, to sleep, or just for fun.

barberry

welcome, united international stump enthusiasts of the woooorld!!

welcome to the official stump lovers appreciation gallery. now, featuring even more symbiotic relationships!

close up stump

now accepting log lovers, lichen lickers and slug buddies.

mossy stump

“if a sunbeam wounds me, i shall succumb on the moss”-arthur rimbaud

the twins

worms eat free every wednesday!

the eft’s bookshelf

join me in an appreciation of all that rots.

lil’ nesty

well, it’s 1-2-3, what are we rotting for? don’t ask me i don’t give a damn. next stop is lichen-land.

bonjour

spores make the forest go around.

puffball family

yes, my friends, you too can enjoy stumps. for free! all you need to do is go outside, you are almost guaranteed to find one eventually. stump-spotting makes an excellent date activity and all you need are a pair of sensible shoes and a spotty dog.

fern riot

stumps do appreciate your attention, as they are often overlooked by those who stand on them to look at other stuff like birds, “the colors”,  stupid sunsets and such.

red efts

stumps come in all shapes and sizes! somewhere out there is the right stump for you.

one yellow leaf

and remember, i’m not just the stump club president, i’m also a client.

curves, interdependence and apple vs. jolly rancher

In our current society it is tempting to believe that products are just as good as nature..or even better. Many products engineered by humans are stronger,  last longer, and are easier to ship than their natural counterparts. Fat free! Now…with even more Aspartame! However, though these products may fill a temporary need, may feed our digestive system or briefly sedate our anxiety some are unable to feed us on a certain deeper level. The tactile and the sensuous are actual nourishment-without which we are literally atrophying inside. Yes, we CAN suffer from a malnutrition of the soul.

I feel that we humans are hyper-engaging some senses while neglecting others and the imbalance is a(one of) root cause contributing to many societal ills from insomnia to (some) anxiety to addiction to inablity to form healthy relationships. Our visual sense is constantly being stimulated–and, even worse, targeted by those who actually study how best to get our attention in order to sell us something. Most often what they are selling us is self-hatred which-amazingly!- can be remedied in 3 easy installments of 19.95.

I advocate that we all  go out and touch something in nature. Right now. Something actual and alive. Something unpaved, as pavement acts as a giant impermeable condom keeping the earth’s electrical charges from our bodies lest (horrors!)the combination conceive and give birth to happiness and joy. Or  the opposite, a natural inward look, a rest, a seasonal contraction and thus a loss of precious productivity.

I recommend an emotional affair with Fungi. I reccommend we enter into a relationship with roots and branches. I recommend we take the fruits of the earth into our bodies. Taste, smell, touch, hearing must be engaged in order to feed ourselves deeply. In order to nourish our spirit, recharge our batteries, move our worries. I am not suggesting we should actually have intercourse with an apple…but that we watch it grow.  It is time to take notice of the ultraflavors of certain foods which deaden us to the tangs  and crunches and umamis of reality.

Because, folks, the wild lands that surround us–all wildness–whether honeybees in a vacant lot of Milkweed or Owls calling back and forth to each other on a wooded ridge, whether swirling gurgling  stream or fruiting fungi on a log, Dandelions growing in the sidewalk or the much-maligned rain falling on our parade–are undeniably sensuous delightful pleasures which have the ability to feed us deeply, to share our joys and sorrows, to arouse our sensual desire, to  engage us in a way that no damn xbox or freaking blockbuster hit of the summer will ever ever ever ever do!

sex-ay!
fully embracing her moment
no comment.
ok, so i’m obsessed with fungi that looks like boobs-whatever.