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: Queen of the Spices, Cardamon

By Crooked Bear Organics

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

Cardamom – The Queen of Spices

My favorite spice in the house!

Cardamom is the Queen of Spices and has grown lavishly under the tropical canopy on hillsides in the Ghat Mountains on the Malabar Coast of southern India to be harvested by hand and shipped around the world.  The cardamom familiar to India and the western world is called green cardamom and it, along with several other types such as giant cardamom, black cardamom, and bastard cardamom, have been used for cooking, perfumery, incense, and medicine since very early in history.

cardamon flowers

Ancient Egyptians used it frequently for perfume along with frankincense, myrrh, cinnamon, and cassia, and had a recipe for an ointment called “Oil of Lilies” that included the scent from 1000 lilies. It is often mentioned as one of the ingredients of the ancient incense kyphi. Cardamom essential oil is one of the oldest essential oils known in perfumery…

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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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Aromatic Culinary Herb Called the Savory

By Crooked Bear Creek Organics

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

Savory

Satureja hortensis / Satureja montana

Also, Known As:

  • Mountain Savory
  • Savory
  • Summer Savory
  • Winter Savory

Ancient herbal texts frequently mention about two types of savories – summer savory comprising the dense parts of the herb Satureja hortensis L., and the winter savory, which is acquired from the herb Satureja Montana L. While the summer savory is an annual plant, the winter savory is perennial and is used to add essence to foods. Both these aromatic species belong to the mint (Lamiaceae) plant family. They are small plants that are cultivated extensively as garden plants. These plants produce slender leaves and flowers whose color varies from pale lavender to pink to white. Of the two Satureja species, the summer savory is valued highly and has been used widely in folk medicine in comparison to the winter savory. Both these herbs have been valued as sex medicines for several centuries. It…

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Blackberry and their Folk Traditions

By Elder Mountain Dreaming

Elder Mountain Dreaming @ gmail

By Phoenix of Elder Mountain –We have lots and lots of Blackberries bushes and hedges that grow all around Elder Mountain. We collect the fruit for eating, the leaves for an herbal tea winter remedy and the twigs for a folk smudge stick. I love blackberries in the mid to late summer and they are known to be a main source of summer nourishment for local bears. I thought I would research some Blackberry traditions and folklore so you can have access to use them in your Summer endeavors.

Edible and Medicinal, the blackberry has uses in both Native American lore and Western Europeans for centuries. It has a long history of healing female disorders and being used in spells for protection from ghosts and vampires. Used in syrups, teas and pies, blackberry leaves are cooling and the roots are astringent. Often used to treat sore throats, wounds and…

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