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Do It Yourself

09 August 2018

Delicious nutritious coconut oil fudge

Written by Corinna Wood, Posted in Corinna's Corner, Do It Yourself, Nourishing Foods, Women's Wellness

2018.7 cutting fudge 2 600x450As you may know, nourishment is one of the main tenets of the Wise Woman Tradition, right up there with local plants and self-love.

Unlike the "heroic tradition" which focuses on denial and cleansing (therefore inherently viewing our bodies as dirty), we prefer to nourish our bodies to health and wholeness. For example, rather than doing a liver fast/cleanse, we use herbs like dandelion to support our liver. Because when the liver receives optimum nourishment, it is able to effectively perform its function of filtering the blood!

When I arrived at Susun Weed's home as a young apprentice, I had been very much caught up in the heroic tradition. I fasted regularly and ate a very low-fat vegetarian/vegan diet, unwittingly contributing to nutritional deficiencies that had already begun to manifest in a variety of health issues in my early twenties. Susun helped me recognize that I had been denying myself some of the basic nutrients my body needed—most importantly, the healthy fats.

Around the same time, I discovered Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon and the work of the Price Foundation identifying common elements of traditional diets worldwide.

It turns out that across the globe, traditional people received 30-80% of their calories from fats, almost all as saturated fats! This was shocking for me to learn since both mainstream and alternative nutritionists were touting low fat / no fat diets as well as polyunsaturated vegetable oils like canola.

Nowadays, I am relieved to see that more and more people are getting turned on to the healthy fats—including organic butter, olive oil, and coconut oil—as a central food group. And we still have a lot of questions pop up!

18 July 2018

Herbal uses of raspberry leaf

Written by Flora, Posted in Do It Yourself, Herbal Medicine, Women's Wellness

This article excerpted from the materia medica of Rosemary Gladstar's Herbal Healing for Women, who we're delighted to be welcoming back to the Herbal Conference again this year!

raspberries 400x600Raspberry Leaf
Rubus idaeus, R. strigosus
Rosaceae
Parts used: primarily the leaf, but often the whole plant for medicinal purposes

For centuries raspberry leaf was recognized as a powerful uterine tonic by indigenous people throughout the world, but the herb’s uses as an aid in childbirth were largely ignored in the West until the 1940s. At that time, several reports were published in prestigious medical journals extolling raspberry leaf’s extraordinary effects on the uterus and pelvic region, and the herb quickly became famous in the United States and Europe. Such scientific studies and the traditional uses of raspberry leaf both confirm its role as an exceptional aid in pregnancy and childbirth.

The presence of fragarine, an alkaloid found in rich concentrations in the leaf, contributes to the plant’s potency as a pregnancy tonic. Fragarine, in combination with several other of the plant’s constituents, serves to tone and relax the pelvic and uterine muscles. It is a rich source of many vitamins and minerals and is particularly high in calcium, iron, phosphorus, potassium, and vitamins B, C, and E.

In the early days of my herb shop, if anyone walked in to purchase raspberry leaf, they were either pregnant or buying the herb for someone who was. This wonderful tonic herbs was largely ignored by everyone else. Fortunately, things have changed. Raspberry leaf is now recognized not only for its value during pregnancy, but also as a woman’s herb in general. (It’s also a great herb for men.) Its astringent properties make it a good remedy for excessive menstruation. The high concentration of vitamins and minerals, especially calcium and iron, make raspberry a wonderful nutritive tonic for use during all the cycles of womanhood.

14 March 2018

Chickweed dishes

Written by Corinna Wood, Posted in Do It Yourself, Local Plants, Nourishing Foods

chickweed 001Have you been joyfully nibbling on chickweed sprouts already? She thrives in the cool, wet weather of early spring. A favorite salad green around here, she can be used as the base of a wild salad, or to garnish your bowl of fresh lettuce leaves.

When this versatile green is in season, chickweed rice salad is always a big hit. Just mix equal parts chopped chickweed and cooked rice, then stir in some olive oil, minced garlic and salt to taste. It's even more delightful with chopped walnuts and crumbled feta cheese. 

Another delicious way to introduce your friends and family to chickweed is the BCT (bacon, chickweed and tomato sandwich). Chickweed also works well in pasta salads, omelets and potato salads.

13 September 2017

Hawthorn Recipes & Remedies - Part 2

Written by Flora, Posted in Do It Yourself, Herbal Medicine, Local Plants, Nourishing Foods

EagleSong Evans Gardner, community herbalist, taught Hawthorn Remedies and Recipes at the 2016 Southeast Wise Women Herbal Conference. Here is some of her wisdom about the plant and it's uses.

hawthorn berriesRead Part 1 for a brief overview of the properties of hawthorn as well as some delicious water-based preparations.

Fresh Hawthorn Tincture

Fill any size jar (start small) with fresh or frozen mashed hawthorn berries or whole leaves and
flowers. Add 100 proof vodka to cover, cap tightly, shake daily for 1 week, continue to macerate
for several more weeks shaking weekly. Finally, strain and bottle for future use as a tonic.

Dried Hawthorn Berry Tincture

Fill any size jar half full with dried haws. Fill jar with 100 proof vodka. Cap tightly. Shake daily
for one week. Let macerate for several weeks shaking weekly. Strain when ready. Use as a tonic.

Hawthorn Vinegar

Follow tincture directions using apple cider vinegar instead of vodka. Different menstruums used
for extraction add more options, expanding the basic staples in your culinary herbal repertoire for tending health!

16 August 2017

Hawthorn Recipes & Remedies - Part 1

Written by Flora, Posted in Do It Yourself, Herbal Medicine, Local Plants, Nourishing Foods

EagleSong Evans Gardner, community herbalist, taught Hawthorn Remedies and Recipes at the 2016 Southeast Wise Women Herbal Conference. Here is some of her wisdom about the plant and it's uses.

hawthorn branchHawthorn, Crataegus spp. is the epitome of a common plant, proliferating around planet Earth in the temperate northern latitudes. A member of the congenial Rosaceae family, this small to medium tree takes her place in rough environments with grace and even charm. Growing 16’-­50’ with small pome fruits, haws, and often sharp, thorny branches, Crataegus are used as specimen trees in gardens, as a foundation tree in countryside hedges and as a gnarly free agent in neglected landscapes providing shelter and food for innumerable insects, birds, amphibians, small mammals and, occasionally, humans! Just for fun, check out www.theplantlist.org where you’ll find 2718 plant names for Crataegus sp. found around the world!

The name hawthorn is an old English term for hedgethorn. Crataegus oxycantha or monogyna predominate as a shrubby tree used in European hedges along with its counter part the black thorn, sloe or trnka plum! An exceptionally vigorous and adaptive tree, Crataegus occasionally resort to apomixis, a form of asexual reproduction not requiring cross fertilization to create entirely new species. Two other commonly used herbs with this capacity are Taraxacum and Alchemilla, our friends and allies, dandelion and Lady's mantle. Somehow, this just tickles my fancy!

Generally recognized as a food with special properties wherever it grows, hawthorn preparations include haw candies, juice, wine, herbal medicines, and is used fresh and dried in soups, teas, punches, jams, butters, chutneys and relishes. Although, not universally accepted as beneficial, at least one county in WA state has listed the Hawthorn as an invasive species...since this is the county where I harvest all the haw used in my practice and heart health is a major concern in our communities, the mark is being missed in engaging an ally by some!

17 July 2017

Becoming Health Rebels

Written by Corinna Wood, Posted in Do It Yourself, Sisterhood, Women's Wellness

Corinna Wood interviews Dr. Aviva Romm

In preparation for the annual fall Southeast Wise Women Herbal Conference, Corinna Wood interviews Aviva Romm about her work with supporting women in "overcoming overwhelm" and getting out of S.O.S. (Survival Overdrive Syndrome), as well as some of the root causes of trauma and oppression that contribute to these health issues in the first place. Aviva Romm is a midwife, herbalist, and Yale-trained MD, bridging the best of traditional medicine with good science for over three decades.

Corinna: Aviva, what is SOS, and how does it impact women you see in your practice?

Aviva Romm 400x400Aviva: SOS is a term I coined which means Survival Overdrive Syndrome, and it's based on a few things: one, it started because so many of my patients were coming in and saying things like, "Aviva, Dr. Aviva, I feel like I'm constantly in overdrive. I feel like I'm always stuck in survival mode. I feel like I'm going from one thing to the next, and I can't turn off the stress. I'm constantly overwhelmed." I started to pay attention to the words women were using and at the same time started looking at the impact of various contributors to health and imbalance on what symptoms that they were exhibiting, for example brain fog, forgetfulness, poor concentration, weight gain, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, hormonal problems, insulin resistance, anxiety, depression, fertility challenges, mood challenges.

Corinna: You seem to view sleep as a form of medicine. I love that. How has your perspective on that developed, and would you share some of your personal and/or professional experience regarding benefits of sleep for women's health?

Aviva: Sleep actually is medicine, and it's particularly important medicine for SOS because much as we like to think of ourselves as modern human creatures, and much as science likes to tell us that nature is unimportant and science can always win over nature, the reality is that as human beings we are hardwired to be in harmony and relationship with our planet, including the 24-hour cycle of the Earth around the sun. That's called our circadian rhythm. Cortisol is released on what's called a diurnal rhythm, which means it's got two 12-hour cycles. Those 12-hour cycles together make up that circadian rhythm. Cortisol should be high in the morning, decrease throughout the day and be much lower at night to where it reaches its lowest point about midnight or 1:00 AM or so and then it starts to go up again.

19 June 2017

Plant Spirit Meditation

Written by Flora, Posted in Do It Yourself, Herbal Medicine, Local Plants

The "Language" of Plants

Suki Roth taught a Plant Spirit Communication class at the 2016 Herbal Conference. She has created these easy to follow guidelines for getting in touch with our green growing friends, and as she says "if you listen, they will ​teach y​ou​".

imm out 2014 5 woman writing plants

Feeling Vibrational Fields

Plant communication strengthens our connection to the plants on a spirit-to-spirit level… We are literally in their energetic field, open to their vibrations, messages and effects. Each one of us has a fingerprint uniquely our own. Each plant species has a specific frequency or vibration unique to that species. Sensitive people can feel and sometimes see these vibrations. Ancient peoples used this skill of observation and receptivity to develop a greater understanding of an individual plant’s attributes.

Exercise To Enhance Sensitivity to Plant’s Energy Fields

  • Rub your hands together briskly till palms feel warm.
  • Now blow on them and feel the effect of your breath.
  • Repeat .. your hands are now more sensitized.
  • When ready slowly pass them over the tops of your plant.
  • Do this several times and observe the feelings on your hands.
  • Next try a different species nearby; a tree, a rock, a person, or a body of water.
  • What do you notice? What physical sensations do you feel?
  • If you practice this exercise frequently you will become much more sensitive to vibrational frequencies.

Use the following ​suggestions to make your experience more successful and intimate.

10 May 2017

Making Motherwort Tincture

Written by Flora, Posted in Do It Yourself, Herbal Medicine, Local Plants, Women's Wellness

Motherwort goddess 450x600Open up a Wise Woman medicine chest and chances are, you will find motherwort tincture.

Easy to grow in a garden, motherwort often finds her way into the paths and new beds. She is is in the mint family—relax, though, she’s not like peppermint. Motherwort spreads by seed, and not by creeping roots.

Like all plants in the mint family, motherwort has square stems, opposite leaves and double lipped flowers. Motherwort's leaves, though, are maple shaped. And unlike most other mints, Motherwort is not aromatic and is quite bitter to the taste—some say it tastes like chocolate!

Botanically Motherwort is known as Leonurus Cardiaca which translates to lion-hearted! She is well known as an ally for the heart and circulatory system.

28 April 2017

Rich Russian Nettle Tonic

Written by Corinna Wood, Posted in Corinna's Corner, Do It Yourself, Herbal Medicine, Local Plants, Nourishing Foods

nettle tonic on squash 500xI first fell in love with nettles after discovering a lush patch near my house when I was in college studying plants and eating wild greens.

During that time, I cooked nettles in as many ways as I could imagine. One year before apprenticing with Susun Weed, I read her book, Healing Wise, and found my all-time favorite nettle recipe, Rich Russian Nettle Tonic. These days I have a constant supply since it is the peak time of year to harvest nettles.

Is nettles one of your favorites too? Have you felt her sting when reaching for her? If you have nettles near you, it takes just a few minutes (feel free to get your gloves!) to snip a basket of nettle tops. Bring them into the kitchen and then cook down—which removes the sting—for this delicious, nutritious dish . . .

06 February 2017

Winter Herbal Kitchen

Written by Corinna Wood, Posted in Corinna's Corner, Do It Yourself, Herbal Medicine

In this winter season when we don’t have the fresh herbs handy, like our foremothers, we rely on herbs that we have preserved for the winter. I drink nettle infusion almost every day, covering a cup of the dried herb with a quart of boiling water in the evenings, to steep overnight and heat up the next day for my warm mugs of infusion.

2017.1 newsletter reishi lo resThis week, I’ve also been enjoying brewing three other dried herbs, each in her own water-based form of extraction--depending on which method optimizes the medicinal properties of that particular herb.

I was delighted to find local reishi mushroom at the food coop in Asheville last week. I am adding a handful of the dried slices to each pot of bone broth, for the adaptogenic and deep immune support that reishi offers.

Similar to making stock, a long slow simmering is the most potent way to extract the medicinal properties of reishi, which adds a rich, deeper flavor to the bone broth. As the name suggests, adaptogens support our bodies and hormonal systems to adapt to a wide range of circumstances and changes, both physically and emotionally.

31 January 2017

Racial Justice Work

Written by Flora, Posted in Do It Yourself, Sisterhood, Women's Wellness

kifukristenKifu Faruq and Kristin Wilson have been offering their invaluable racial justice dialogue and training at the Southeast Wise Women Herbal Conference for several years. We are delighted that they are now offering their combined services to the broader community through Solutionary Apothecary.

Solutionary Apothecary offers a number of services for the important work of supporting people in dismantling white supremacy culture, in their lives, work, and communities.

Their four part video series called "Race Talk" provides the building blocks for racial justice education and community work. 

The last video of the series, What To Do In The Next 100 Days, includes a step by step on how to hold space for yourself and friends/family for healing (to grieve, feel, share vulnerabilities), resources to educate and grow together, reflect and then strategize together post-election. There is a video specifically for White folks by Kristin, and another for People of Color by Kifu. Their Race Talk video series is full of great information including more resources.

Kristin also just taught a class on Dismantling White Supremacy in Amy Jo Goddard's virtual series, "Calling In White Women." And she is now preparing a curriculum for White folks to join her in Dismantling White Supremacy.

20 June 2016

St. Johnswort Preparations

Written by Corinna Wood, Posted in Corinna's Corner, Do It Yourself, Herbal Medicine, Local Plants

Make your own bottled sunshine

st johnswort oilThere is no other medicinal herb that bespeaks more of sunshine than St. Johnswort, or St. J’s, as we fondly call it. It loves sunny open places, blooms at the height of summer solstice, soothes the skin after sunburn, and even brings sunshine into our lives through its mood elevating properties. Establish some of this sunny plant in your garden this spring!

The most well known, most widely used species of St. Johnswort is Hypericum perforatum, studied for its uses against depression—especially helpful for the kind of dark moods that come from seasonal affective disorder (SAD). In fact, it is often said that plants grow where they are needed—and St J’s is a prolific “weed” in the Pacific Northwest, where dark and rainy winters contribute to a high number of SAD cases.

02 June 2016

Herbal Oils & Salves

Written by Flora, Posted in Do It Yourself, Herbal Medicine, Women's Wellness

Foundations in Medicine Making - Part 5

calendula salveHerbal constituents can be released into and stored in various solutions such as water, oil, vinegar and alcohol. Some liquids (called menstruums in herbal medicine making) facilitate the release of different compounds and can be more or less effective depending on the plant and it's properties. Below are several different techniques for extracting herbs with oil from Ceara Foley's class at the 2016 Herbal Conference.

Infused Oils

Oils are an effective way to introduce herbs directly on and through the skin. I prefer to use olive oil for medicinal purposes due to its healing properties and long shelf life and almond or apricot oil for massage and skin care.

23 May 2016

Syrups & Elixirs

Written by Flora, Posted in Do It Yourself, Herbal Medicine, Women's Wellness

Foundations in Medicine Making - Part 4

elderberry syrupHerbal constituents can be released into and stored in various solutions such as water, oil, vinegar and alcohol. Some liquids (called menstruums in herbal medicine making) facilitate the release of different compounds and can be more or less effective depending on the plant and it's properties. Below are several different techniques for extracting herbs in syrups from Ceara Foley's class at the 2016 Herbal Conference.

Syrups

Syrups are generally made to help with the flavors of herbs, especially for children. I like syrups just for variety’s sake. There are many methods handed down from our ancestors. I have adapted this first one from Rosemary Gladstar’s teachings to include my own experiences and tastes.

13 May 2016

Glycerine & Vinegar Extracts

Written by Flora, Posted in Do It Yourself, Herbal Medicine, Local Plants

Foundations in Medicine Making - Part 3

dropper bottle pinkHerbal constituents can be released into and stored in various solutions such as water, oil, vinegar and alcohol. Some liquids (called menstruums in herbal medicine making) facilitate the release of different compounds and can be more or less effective depending on the plant and it's properties. Below are several different techniques for extracting herbs with water from Ceara Foley's class at the 2016 Herbal Conference.

Glycerine Extracts:

Glycerites can be beneficial for those with alcohol concerns or for children’s remedies. The disadvantage is in not dissolving resinous or oily materials as well as alcohol. There is also a shorter shelf life.

The ratio of glycerin to water varies greatly from 50% to 100%. The only hard and fast rule I know is you always need more glycerin than water to preserve the herbs well. Make the extract as you would with alcohol, chopping, macerating, and straining the herb with the final results being a thick, sweet tasting product.

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