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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The Forager’s: Foraging for Summertime Herbs

The Forager’s: Foraging For Summertime Herbs …

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

Go beyond the confines of the garden and into the wild to find some of nature’s most valuable medicine.

Summer is the perfect time to stock up on nature’s healing gifts. But all too often we walk right by these treasures, not recognizing them as valuable plants. Learning how to identify and then use a variety of edible and medicinal plants in your region can open up a world of botanicals, not only providing you with access to important medicine but also helping you familiarize yourself with the wilderness that abounds.

Five Rules for Sustainable Foraging

Before you head out into the fields and forests to harvest plants, you need to know a bit about foraging ethics, as well as the dangers that certain plants can pose. In an environmentally fragile world, you want to proceed without taking from nature in ways that are harmful.

  1. Properly identify the plant

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Getting to Know Lyre-Leaf Sage

Getting to know Lyre-leaf Sage …

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

Having fallen into disuse, this North American species is making a comeback thanks to some notable herbalists and a nod from the Herb Society of America.

Graceful, light-blue wildflowers border the roads and cover swaths of meadows in periwinkle, from the Mid-Atlantic to Missouri and from Florida to Texas. Known as “just a roadside weed” or invasive species, lyre-leaf sage has a lengthy history. A much-valued wild edible and medicinal plant of indigenous people, and a time-honored remedy in the southern folk traditions, this North American sage has been chosen by the Herb Society of America as the Notable Native Herb of 2018.

lyre leaf sage

Lyrata in the Garden

A beautiful, wild, flowering plant, lyre-leaf sage {Salvia lyrata} is part of the Lamiaceae {mint} family along with rosemary and oregano, and it’s closely related to garden sage {Salvia officinalsi}.

The only sage native to the United States, it has reportedly grown as…

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Scientists Discover How Chinese Medicinal Plant Makes Anti-Cancer Compound

Chinese Medicinal Plant Makes Anti-Cancer Compound …

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

New research led by Professor Cathie Martin of the John Innes Centre has revealed how a plant used in traditional Chinese medicine produces compounds which may help to treat cancer and liver diseases.

The Chinese skullcap, Scutellaria baicalensis – otherwise known in Chinese medicine as Huang-Qin – is traditionally used as a treatment for fever, liver and lung complaints.

Scutellaria flower

Previous research on cells cultured in the lab has shown that certain compounds called flavones, found in the roots of this plant, not only have beneficial anti-viral and antioxidant effects, but they can also kill human cancers while leaving healthy cells untouched. In live animal models, these flavones have also halted tumor growth, offering hope that they may one day lead to effective cancer treatments or even cures.

As a group of compounds, the flavones are relatively well understood. But the beneficial flavones found in Huang-Qin roots, such as…

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Summer Herbs: Feverfew {Tanacetum parthenium}

Summer Herbs: Feverfew …

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

Also, Known As:

  • Bride’s Button
  • Compositae
  • Featherfew
  • Featherfoil
  • Febrifuge Plant
  • Feverfew
  • Wild Chamomile

The feverfew herb has been used as an herbal remedy since the time of Dioscorides-78 A.D. The herbal remedies made from the feverfew was used to treat problems such as a headache, the development of menstrual irregularities in women, disorders such as stomachaches, and all types of fevers in particular. The common name of the herb itself is a simple corruption of the name in Latin- febrifuge or the fever reducer. Botanist is still agreed about what proper scientific name to give to this strongly aromatic and perennial herb. The feverfew belongs to the plant family Asteraceae, the disagreement among botanists about naming the plant has been existing for a long time now. The feverfew was in fact, placed into five different genera at different times. At this present time, the herb is known by the botanical name Tanacetum parthenium…

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The Spice Pantry: Clove

By Crooked Bear Creek Organics

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

Eugenia carpophyll Ata syn. Syzygium aromaticum

Also, Known As:

  • Clove

The association of the clove with human society is old indeed. The ancient Chinese Han dynasty – lasting from 207 B.C. to A.D. 220, gives us our first clue to the uses of the fragrant clove. Chinese physicians of that era wrote that the court visitors to the emperor were required to hold cloves in their mouths while they addressed the emperor, it would be reasonable to believe that this was to save the ruler from the bad breath of the visitors. The clove is a pungent and aromatic floral bud, and its use as a spice reached Europe around the 4th century A.D. when commercial trading really started with the Arabs who in turn acquired these dried and fragrant buds from the cultures to the east in Asia. The spice trade leading to great competition among European seafaring nations…

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The Spice Pantry: Benefits Of Cinnamon And Honey

By Crooked Bear Creek Organics

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

Since ancient times, people have been using a blend of cinnamon and honey to heal several ailments. While honey is readily available in most countries across the globe, contemporary scientists also acknowledge the benefits of honey as a ‘Ram Ban’ or extremely useful medication for almost all types of maladies. What is more significant is the fact that ingestion of honey does not lead to any unfavorable aftereffects in any type of ailment.

According to contemporary science, despite being sweet, taking honey as a medication and in measured dosages is also beneficial for people suffering from diabetes and does not cause any damage. The January 1995 edition of a Canadian magazine called the Weekly World News has published a directory of the maladies that can be healed by taking cinnamon and honey. The report of the magazine is based on the findings of the different studies undertaken by the scientists in the West. The disease-specific findings vis-à-vis…

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Sacred Tree of India: Amla {Phyllanthus emblica}

By Crooked Bear Creek Organics

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

Also, Known As:

  • Amla
  • Indian Gooseberry

Amla (botanical name Phyllanthus Emblica) is an elegant ornamental tree, which usually grows up to a height of 60 feet (18 meters). In some rare cases, the tree may even be 100 feet (30 meters) tall. The bark of amla tree is somewhat smooth and has a light greyish-brown hue. Similar to the bark of guava, amla also peels off its bark in thin flakes. Although amla is a deciduous tree, which sheds its leaves and branches from time to time, the tree is rarely found completely bare. Hence, this tree is often described as an evergreen species. Amla trees bear tiny, oblong-shaped leaves that grow up to a length of anything between 1/2 inch and 3/4 inch (1.25 cm and 2.0 cm) in length and they are just 1/8 inch (3 mm) broad. These miniature leaves are disposed of distichously (arranged alternately in…

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Medicinal Value of Tea Tree {Melaleuca alternifolia}

By Crooked Bear Creek Organics

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

Also, Known As:

  • Cajeput Tree
  • Melaleuca
  • Manuka
  • Tea Tree

The tea tree is not the common tea plant that produces both black and green tea. In fact, leaves of this tea tree are known as Melaleuca alternifolia and belong to the family Myrtaceae that has long been used by the aboriginals as an antiseptic. This tea tree was first discovered in 1770 when Captain James Cook dropped anchor off the coast of New South Wales and his sailors went aground and prepared a perfumed tea from the leaves of a tree growing in the marshy valley there. Because of the aromatic tea prepared by the sailors, it is called the tea tree and should not be mistaken to be the common tea plant.

In fact, the aboriginals residing in New South Wales used the volatile oil obtained from the leaves of the tea tree to heal scratches, burns, cuts, insect bites, athlete’s…

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