Food as Medicine: Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica, Urticaceae)

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

Urtica dioica (Urticaceae) is commonly known as nettle, common nettle, or stinging nettle. The species is an herbaceous perennial with a spreading growth habit. Growing 4-6 feet tall, stinging nettle produces numerous erect and wiry stems that hold up its opposite, roughly textured, serrated leaves.1-4 It produces small, inconspicuous greenish-brownish flowers that emerge as axillary inflorescences.The stems and undersides of leaves are covered with hairs called trichomes. When touched, these stinging trichomes inject a chemical cocktail that typically causes localized skin irritation as well as a painful, tingling sting from which the species has derived its most common name, stinging nettle.1,5

The Urticaceae family contains about 500 known species, distributed mainly in tropical areas.1 The genus Urtica, whose name comes from the Latin uro (to burn) and urere (to sting), consists of both annual and perennial herbaceous plants known for the burning properties of the…

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Crystals for Autumn Equinox

by Hibiscus Moon

I REALLY LOVE this time of year! But I think I say that every time the seasons change. I get such a charge from the seasonal cycles.

The Autumn Equinox (or Spring Equinox for those in the Southern Hemi) is now upon us and for the purposes of this blog post I’m going to stick to the Autumn aspects, but if you’re from Down Under or just plain interested, you can read my classic blog post on Spring Equinox here.

Some Science, Of Course!

So, before I get to the crystals, a bit o’ science on the Equinox stuffs for a sec. I can’t help myself! This year’s Autumn (or Fall) Equinox lands on Friday, September 22.

There are 2 equinoxes each year; in September and March. Because of the tilt of our planet on our axis, we’re usually getting more sun on one hemisphere than on the other, but there are 2 times/year (Spring and Autumn Equinox) when we get pretty much equal amounts of sunlight on both hemi’s, so our night and day are of equal length everywhere on Mama Earth. So cool!

IMAGE BY PRZEMYSLAW “BLUESHADE” IDZKIEWICZ.

Continue reading Crystals for Autumn Equinox

Herbal Healthwatch, September 2018

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

Rhodiola Relieves Stress

Rhodiola {Rhodiola rosea} is a perennial groundcover that grows in some of the harshest conditions on Earth; the Arctic regions, from Scandinavia to Siberia. For centuries in Russia, Rhodiola enjoyed a folk reputation as a while-body strengthener or tonic. After World War II, Russian researchers added it to the short list of “adaptogens,” plants such as ginseng that strengthen the entire body. But during the Cold War, the Russian military seized Rhodiola supplies and suppressed information about the herb, convinced that it could give Soviet troops an edge in potential battle. After the fall of the Soviet Union, Russian Rhodiola research was published in the West and the herb became available in the U.S. and Europe.

More recent research shows it has several health benefits, particularly in the realm of coping with physical and emotional stress, and a new study shows that it helps prevent…

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Our Pantry Profile: Rosemary

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

Rosemary {Rosmarinus officinalis}

The name Rosmarinus loosely translates to “dew of the sea,” given to rosemary because of its affinity for the wind-swept cliffs of the Mediterranean coast, where it originates. Beloved for centuries for its aroma and health benefits, this strongly aromatic member of the mint family is now cultivated worldwide.

Greek scholars wore garlands of rosemary to improve their memory and concentration, and many ancient herbalists recommended rosemary for failing mental acuity. During the Middle Ages, some would wear it around the neck to protect from the plague. Thirteenth-century Queen Elisabeth of Hungary claimed at 72 years of age, crippled with gout and rheumatism, that she had regained her beauty and strength by using “Hungary Water” {largely rosemary-infused}, compelling the King of Poland to propose marriage to her. Along with juniper, rosemary was frequently burned by the tub-full to disinfect the air from disease, from ancient times through…

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Food as Medicine: West Indian Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus, Poaceae)

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

West Indian lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus, Poaceae) is an aromatic tropical perennial with long, slender, light green leaves that grow in groups with bulbous and fibrous stems at the base of the plant.1-3The grass can grow from two to six feet tall, and its leaves are approximately one inch wide with slightly toothed, saw-like margins.2 West Indian lemongrass likely originated from India, Malaysia, or Sri Lanka.1,2,4,5 It is now cultivated in tropical and subtropical countries.4 The largest exporter of lemongrass leaves and stalks is Guatemala,5 while India is the largest producer of lemongrass essential oil, 80% of which is exported annually.6Lemongrass grows well in warm and humid areas with plenty of sunshine and moisture.4 The leaves and fleshy part of the stem are used for flavoring teas and broths in many Asian cuisines, and its essential oil is used in…

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Useful Links and Resources

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

For more information and updates on the work of the three partner organizations of the ABC-AHP-NCNPR Botanical Adulterants Program, please visit ABC at www.herbalgram.org, AHP at www.herbal-ahp.organd NCNPR at www.pharmacy.olemiss.edu/ncnpr/.

Other Helpful Resources and Links: 

AHPA’s Botanical Identity References Compendium:
http://www.botanicalauthentication.org/index.php/Main_Page

AHPA’s Keep Supplements Clean Website:
http://www.keepsupplementsclean.org/intl_enforcement.html

Botanical Nomenclature Resource – Royal Gardens-Kew:
http://mpns.kew.org/mpns-portal/

Chinese Medicinal Plants Authentication Centre:
http://www.kew.org/science/ecbot/ecbot-cmpac.html

European Commission’s Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed:
https://webgate.ec.europa.eu/rasff-window/consumers/

Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) List of Tainted Products Marketed as Dietary Supplements
http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/sda/sdNavigation.cfm?sd=tainted_supplements_cder

Safety Alerts and Products Recalls: Products found to contain undeclared medicines. Drug Office, Department of Health, The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region:
http://www.drugoffice.gov.hk/eps/do/en/consumer/safety_alerts_and_medical_recalls/undeclared_medicines.html

US Botanical Safety Laboratory:
http://www.botanical-safety.com/us-botanical-safety-laboratory/85-botanical-identity-testing

USP Food Fraud Database:
http://www.foodfraud.org/

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Honeysuckle {Lonicera caprifolium / Lonicera japonica}

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

Also Known As,

  • Honeysuckle
  • Jin Yin Hua

The herbal plant called the honeysuckle is a climbing plant that can grow to twelve ft – four meters – in length. The plant comes in several varieties, and some varieties are deciduous – example, the L. caprifolium variety – while some are semi-evergreen – the Asian honeysuckle or jin yin hua, L. japonica. The plant bears oval-shaped leaves that come in pairs on the branches. The tubular shaped flowers of the plants come in a variety of colors, the yellow-orange flowers of the European variety or the yellow-white colored ones of the jin yin hua. The European honeysuckle variety bears red colored berries and while the berries of the jin yin hua variety are black in color.

The European honeysuckle or “Woodbine” – the L. periclymenum to botanists – was at one time employed widely as an herbal remedy for problems like…

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Herbal Meditations and Magic for Thriving in a Neo-Colonial World

Ancestral Apothecary

Guest student post by Avani Mody


Sunrise:

There is an incomparable beauty to sunrise. The time of the gods, as it is described in Ayurvedic traditions. As a child my father told me, walk barefoot on the earth and take in the green grass at sunrise, to strengthen my eyes. The combination of a luscious green and morning sunlight, calmed my eyes and mind. During my recent, formal herbal education, this advice remains in my psyche. The colors, beauty and feel of the plants, indeed calm my mind, and strengthen my vision my ability to see in multiple dimensions. Plant meditations are one of the ways I like to spend time with plants and imbue myself with their serenity.

Neo-Colonial Herbalism:

Learning herbal medicine that is rooted in traditional cultures, resilience and a holistic worldview is complex and profound. In our contemporary society, and perhaps especially here in the…

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Pantry Profile: Chives {Allium schoenoprasum}

By Crooked Bear Creek Organics

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

With its bright green stalks and vibrant, lavender-pink and spiky blossoms, chives are a lovely ornamental plant and herb garden staple. Found fresh in the yard in summer and dried in cupboards in the cooler months of fall and winter, chives hold surprising medicinal and nutritional benefits. A member of the Amaryllidaceae family {Amaryllis}, which includes familiar alliums garlic and onions, chives have a mild and pleasant onion-garlic flavor.

Chives have played a role in medicine and protection for more than 5,000 years. The ancient Romans used chives to relieve sore throats, lower blood pressure, and increase urination, while Traditional Chinese Medicine turned to it for coughs, colds, and congestion. In the Middle Ages, it was a popular remedy for melancholy.

A traditional Romani custom was to use chives in fortune telling and to hang them in the home to ward off disease and evil influences. Planting chives in the…

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Remembering Who We Are: Chinese Botanical Guides

Remembering Who We Are …

Ancestral Apothecary

Bekah gets to know the plants of her grandmother’s village in Guangdong, China.

As part of our studies in the Cecemmana program, we as students are encouraged to study our ancestral medicines. We are encouraged to ask questions like: who were the healers in our families? What plant medicine did they use? What healing foods did they eat? What healing songs did they sing? In the first two years of Cecemmana, we as students researched the answers to these and other questions and then presented our findings. In my first year of Cecemmana, I looked forward to learning more about the herbal medicine practices of my Chinese heritage.

I found that before I could get to know the plants, though, I had to better understand my family. Growing up in a mixed race household in a predominantly white community, my sister and I grew up feeling disconnected from our Chinese…

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