Food as Medicine: Anise (Pimpinella anisum, Apiaceae)

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

Anise or aniseed (Pimpinella anisum, Apiaceae) is an herbaceous annual that grows to almost a meter (3.3 feet) in height.1,2 The lower leaves of the plant are dark green, heart-shaped, and shallowly lobed, while the upper leaves are feathery. In the summer, the plant produces small, white flowers in an umbrella-shaped head, and, in the fall, these flowers produce aromatic fruits that are three to four millimeters in length. These fruits, called “anise seeds” in the market and referred to in the rest of this article as “seeds,” are the medicinal and culinary portion of the plant.

The cultivation of anise, which is native to the Anatolian peninsula, Greece, and Egypt, has spread to other countries. The plant grows well in warm, frost-free climates.3,4 Anise should not be confused with fennel(Foeniculum vulgare, Apiaceae), licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra, Fabaceae), or star anise (Illicium verum, Schisandraceae), which have…

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Bittersweet … A Tale of Two Sisters

The Herb Society of America Blog

By Kathleen M Hale, Western Reserve Herb Society

The Sisters’ Shame
We were two daughters of one race;
She was the fairest in the face.
    The wind is blowing in turret and tree.
They were together, and she fell;
Therefore revenge became me well.
    O, the earl was fair to see!

Alfred, Lord Tennyson

bittersweetA lot of legends of magic, revenge and sorcery begin with two sisters. Sometimes they are friends.  Sometimes they are rivals.  But an unspoken message in many stories is, “Don’t pick the wrong one!” Increasingly, North American gardeners are finding themselves faced with this dilemma.  The choice may be between a native plant and its sometimes seductive, sometimes invasive sister, introduced from elsewhere.

Bittersweet gives us such a story. American bittersweet, Celustrus scandens, is seen everywhere this time of year in wreaths and dried arrangements. It has tiny vivid orange fruits…

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Home-Grown and Wildcrafted Smudge Sticks: Plant List and Recipes

The Druid's Garden

Basket of newly made smudge sticks Basket of newly made smudge sticks

Creating homemade smudge sticks with local ingredients is a wonderful activity to do this time of year.  As the plants die back, you can harvest whatever you aren’t using for other purposes and create a number of beautiful smudges that can be used for many different purposes: clearing, honoring spirits, protection, setting intentions, letting go, bringing in, preparing for ritual or mediation, and much more.

A few years ago, I wrote an initial post on homemade smudge sticks using local ingredients–this has become my most popular post on my blog.  Given that, I wanted to offer a follow-up post with some additional information and share a few smudge stick recipes for specific purposes. For initial instructions on how to make your sticks, please see my first post.  This post expands the plant list that you can use to make smudges and also offers…

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Making Smudge Sticks from Homegrown Plants and Wildharvested Materials: Step by Step Instructions with Cedar, Rosemary, Sage, Mugwort, and More!

The Druid's Garden

I recently posted about my research on Eastern White Cedar, and I wanted to follow-up that post with information on making smudge sticks, inspired by Eastern White Cedar. Smudge sticks are bundles of herbs that are dried and burned for purification and ceremonial uses. They come out of Native American traditions, but today they are broadly used by many for their purification purposes.  I use them as a druid in my ceremonies, to bless and cleanse my house, to cleanse outdoor spaces that are in some kind of energetic funk.  But I also use them practically–as a blessing for my garden at the start of the growing season, as a way to remove hostile energies from my chickens who aren’t getting along, or to pass among friends before sharing a meal.  They are a great way to bring a bit of ceremony and the sacred into the everyday.

Freshly Wrapped Smudges Freshly Wrapped…

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Food as Medicine: Date (Phoenix dactylifera, Arecaceae)

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

The date palm (Phoenix dactylifera, Arecaceae) has been cultivated for more than 5,000 years.1 Because of this long history of use and cultivation, the exact origin of the date palm is difficult to pinpoint. Dates have been harvested for centuries in northern Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, and have played a large role in the economies of countries where the plant grows.1,2 The largest global producers of dates are Iraq, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Algeria, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Libya, Pakistan, Sudan, and the United States.3

The date palm is a large palm tree and grows about 49-82 feet tall.1 The palm leaves are 1.5 to 11.5 inches long.1 Around the trunk of the date tree, the palm branches grow in a spiral pattern and form a crown with hundreds of leaves that are gray in color.2,4 The leaves have a…

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6 LUNG HERBS for the BODY & MIND

Good Witches Homestead

Healing the Lungs, Grief, and Trauma

Especially with all the deep sadness with the ongoing fires in California, the necessity to write on the herbs that heal our lungs is vital. My heart is humbled and heavy with what is happening with the world at large. Seeing these fires and shootings affect so many friends and community members, it really shook my core on how precious and vulnerable life can really be. Today we’re reviewing lung herbs as these are herbs that not only help repair lung tissue, they assist in the recovery of emotional trauma, PTSD and grief. Below are herbs that are easy to find in most herb stores and markets, that can help you or a dear one cope with environmental toxicity, and support you emotionally. 

Our lungs are always at work. At every moment of the day, they’re cleansing the air, delivering oxygen to the cells, and energizing the body with life. They are constantly filtering…

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Add Lemongrass to Your Garden Plans — The Herb Society of America Blog

Lemon grass is probably one of the easiest, cheapest herbs you can grow.

via Add Lemongrass to Your Garden Plans — The Herb Society of America Blog

Let’s Create Some Herbal Remedies – When Cold and Flu Season Arrives.

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

These two recipes are prepared as teas but are not taken in your tea cup – they help with the discomfort of flu season in other ways.

Winter Inhalation

living-herbs-for-cold-flu-thymeThis traditional herbal steam helps open your sinuses, discourages bacterial and viral growth, and reduces pain and inflammation. Remember to stay a comfortable distance from the steaming pot to avoid burning your face.

8 – 12 teaspoons fresh or 4 teaspoons dried eucalyptus leaf {Eucalyptus globulus}

2 – 3 tablespoons fresh or 1 tablespoon dried peppermint leaf

2 – 3 tablespoons fresh or 1 tablespoon dried thyme herb

3 cups purified water

Essential oils of the herbs above {optional}

Place the eucalyptus, peppermint, thyme, and water in a saucepan and stir to thoroughly combine. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer, covered, for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and uncover. Drape a large towel…

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BUILD YOUR OWN ALTAR Using These CEREMONIAL HERBS

Good Witches Homestead

Day of the Dead: Ritual and Ceremony 

Little is firmly known about the particulars of today’s holiday since the limited sources available are either folkloric literature like the Celtic sagas or Roman authors who would have likely “trashed” the traditions of a culture with which they were often in conflict.

Although, you can kind of imagine what really went on back then. Different cultures around the world gathered in a ceremony to honor their ancestors on and around November 1st. This sacred day was often known as a cosmic aperture, where the veils get thin, and the souls from “the other side” can contact us with more ease. There’s plenty of written experiences where people have encounters with spirits or ancestral anecdotes from all over the world regarding the ceremonial processing of these mystical energies. Samhain, for example, is very well known as its a three day ancient Celtic pagan festival…

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BE A HERBALIST THIS FALL

Good Witches Homestead

Autumn is the time to ground down and return to our inward selves.  After the ethereal light and abundant days of summer, we start to prepare for the darker days ahead.  It’s the best time of year to set intentions, get quiet, create and manifest dreams, and to re-commit to healthy habits–the simple things that add up to a healthier state of being.

Wherever you are in the world and whether you experience a dark winter or not, honoring the seasons within the body is one of the most fundamental practices within herbalism.

1. INVITE WARMING, GROUNDING AND NOURISHING RITUALS BACK INTO YOUR LIFE

From a holistic, traditional standpoint, each season is characteristic to an element or quality within nature, and we should guide our lifestyle choices to support the season. For example, in Traditional Chinese Medicine, this season marks the beginning of the Yin (cool, watery, deep) part of…

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