Black Pepper – Herb of the Month

The Herb Society of America Blog

By Maryann Readal

Black pepper, Piper nigrum, is a ubiquitous spice that can be found on tables anywhere in the world where food is served. But what is the story behind this popular spice that is used in kitchens the world over? 

P. nigrum is native to the Malabar Coast of southern India. It is also grown in other parts of the tropical world, including Vietnam, which has taken the lead in production by exporting 287,000 tons of black pepper worth $722 million in 2019. This is about 35% of the world’s black pepper trade. 

pepppercorn drupe from Missouri Botantical Garden Pepppercorn drupes. Photo credit: Missouri Botantical Garden

Black pepper is a perennial vine with heart shaped leaves and pendulous flowers. It is grown for its fruit, which is dried and then used as a seasoning. The black pepper vine grows in my Zone 8b garden; however, it has yet to produce any peppercorns, although…

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Are You A Forager? New Forager Course — Good Witches Homestead

As herbalists, we have a lot of passions, and foraging is top of the list! With spring in full swing and summer inching closer, we are enjoying our foraging forays and plan for even more time in the fields and forests as the green world bursts into a riot of growth! To make the most […]

via Are You A Forager? New Forager Course — Good Witches Homestead

Herbal Beauty Ideas for All Year — Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

DIY Moisturizing Skin Serum Growing up, I was fed the beauty myth that oily skin is bad. The cosmetics industry pushes the use of harsh, drying soaps and products that strip natural oils to help you get rid of shine. However, those natural oils actually help moisturize your skin. Washing them away can result in overly […]

via Herbal Beauty Ideas for All Year — Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

The Sun; Overexposure to Sun, Sea, and Wind — Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

Despite repeated warnings that skin cancer is caused at least in part by exposure to the sun, people still flock to the beach, where they lie prostrate, soaking in as much sunshine as they can. Hopefully, they are wearing a high factor sunscreen. But lying on the beach more than half-naked with nothing much to […]

via The Sun; Overexposure to Sun, Sea, and Wind — Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

Essential Oils for Treating Cold Sores — Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

Cold sores, which are also called fever blisters, can be itchy, painful, and embarrassing. They are typically caused by the herpes simplex virus. Cold sores can be treated with antiviral medications, which may shorten how long the symptoms last. There are various home remedies, as well, which are used to ease their discomfort. Furthermore, a lot […]

via Essential Oils for Treating Cold Sores — Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

A Safe Bug Spray That Really Works: Natural Mosquito Repellent

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

Summer is prime time for enjoying the outdoors. But more often than not, there’s a dark cloud hanging over that backyard barbecue: bugs – and especially mosquitoes. These blood-seeking fun busters expertly follow their senses right to your skin. But if you can repel them with one quick application of bug spray, then what’s the problem? It turns out that many old-fashioned bug sprays contain neurotoxic ingredients that may increase cancer risk. But, worry not – there are plenty of nontoxic essential oil blends that repel the bugs, without the bite to your health.

Why Should We Use Natural Mosquito Repellent?

Mosquito bites are not just annoying. They can also transmit diseases such as malaria, Zika, and dengue fever, among others. So, it’s important to guard against them. Mosquitoes are guided by their sense of smell, which is equipped with hundreds of odor-receptor proteins, and they’re attracted to the carbon dioxide we…

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Wild Foragers, Violets, Spring Enchantments

Good Witches Homestead

Violet has been on our minds this spring as we see her pretty little flowers blooming here in southeastern Utah. Violets are one of the earliest wild plants to appear in the season, and we are reminded of her beauty as well as her long history of culinary and herbal use that may have us deciding to seize spring for all that it is!

Violet, being rich in vitamin C, indeed has our attention for a supportive immune boost! 

We love to harvest the fresh leaves and flowers to incorporate into springtime salads, juices, and refreshing smoothies. Violet, of course, also makes a really lovely tea, vinegar, or syrup, not only for the vitamin C content but also for soothing respiratory symptoms. 
Violet has a cooling and moistening energy, and its demulcent and expectorant properties are soothing to a sore throat, dry cough, and other respiratory irritation.
The recipe for…

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ESSENTIAL OILS FOR HOPE, HEALING, AND HAPPINESS

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

During turbulent times, the ability to adapt to constant change is vital. Coping with transitions and a shift in routines can be inherently stressful, leading to issues such as the zapping of energy, frenzied thoughts, confusion, low mood, restlessness, and sometimes feelings of loneliness or isolation.

Adopting a constructive mindset and healthy coping strategies, although not easy, can be an important factor in sparking hope and beginning a journey towards positive emotional healing. Pure essential oils can provide a powerful complementary tool to help the mind and body adjust to the sensations of overwhelm, fear, boredom, lethargy, sadness, and hopelessness commonly experienced during a crisis. Combined with other therapeutic and self-care techniques such as meditation, exercise, journaling, calling loved ones, and talking to a licensed therapist, these potent plant oils can offer a soothing, relaxing, and uplifting respite from day-to-day worries and anxieties.

Essential oils have been used historically for…

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Woad as natural antibiotics | Joybilee® Farm | DIY | Herbs | Gardening |

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

Isatis tinctoria for a broad-spectrum antibiotic

I have a guest post on the Herbal Academy of New England blog about using one of my favorite herbs, Dyer’s Woad, as a natural antiviral. It works so well as an antiviral because it is also a natural antibiotic and so it prevents secondary infections.  Woad and other Isatis spp have been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for thousands of years for their unique ability to prevent viruses like influenza and measles from replicating in human cells.  Check out my post to find out more about this unique and generous plant.

A brief history of woad

Isatis tinctoria or dyer’s woad is an easy to grow biennial that originated in the Caucus area, near Turkey. It was valued for its rich blue pigment and archeological evidence traces its use as a natural dye back to the Neolithic period in France, the Bronze age…

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Bidens Can Help Fight Infections and Viruses: Get to Know It

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

Bidens, a common weed of pastures and vacant lots, has antiviral and antibacterial superpowers.  Get to know it better.  You never know when you might need to call on it as your herbal ally.

Bidens, an overlooked weed that will help you in the fight against MRSA infections

If you spend any time walking through pastures or vacant lots in July and August, you may have met Bidens. And if you haven’t met it, your dog probably has. Bidens sticks like a needle into your clothing. If your dog walks through a patch of Bidens, you’ll be picking the needle-like seeds out of his coat for hours. Also called, “beggarticks”, “Spanish needles,” “demon spike grass,” and “needle grass,” 1000 Biden seeds weigh less than a gram. If you walk through a patch of Bidens in the fall, and you’ll probably have 1000 seeds in your socks. Hint, wear jeans not…

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