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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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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Our Pantry Profile: Thyme

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

Thyme {Thymus vulgaris}

Common garden thyme has been used for protection, courage, food, and medicine since the beginning of recorded history. A low-growing, aromatic shrub native to the rocky hills of the Mediterranean and Southern Europe, it’s now a staple of herb gardens around the world.

Roman soldiers bathed in thyme to maintain their courage and strength before a battle, and in medieval times, departing knights received thyme-embroidered scarves from their lady loves to keep up spirits and inspire courage. A popular belief was that thyme tea prevented nightmares and even encouraged dreams of fairies. Carrying thyme warded off evil spells and witchcraft, while sewing thyme and fern into the hem of a dress kept the Devil from taking a woman as his bride. Placing a sprig of thyme in one shoe and a sprig of rosemary in the other on the Eve of St. Agnes {January 20} was said…

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Linden Sends Soft Sleep

The Herb Society of America Blog

By Beth Schreibman-Gehring, Chairman of Education for The Western Reserve Herb Society unit of The Herb Society of America

6a00d8349ca72c53ef017c36657a78970b-320wiMeet one of my favorite wellness remedies — the flowers and leaves of the lovely linden tree. You may know it by its other names, lime tree or American basswood. It’s an easily identifiable tree with lovely boxy leaves and pretty seed pods. It’s easy to identify when blooming. Just use your ears and nose.  A linden tree may be called a “bee tree” for good reason. Walk under it and look up. If it’s covered with flowers it will undoubtedly be covered with busy, buzzy honeybees. I have been obsessed with its clean yet sweet and floral fragrance. A stand of linden in full bloom is the scent of warmed raw floral honey and freshly mown hay.

In European countries it’s commonly referred to as the linden and in America as…

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Geographical Variation in Nutritional Content of Baobab

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

The baobab (Adansonia digitata, Malvaceae) tree is indigenous to sub-Saharan Africa and is an important source of food and economic generation. Leaves, fruit, and seeds are eaten, and timber, fodder, and fibers from the tree are marketed. With roles in traditional medicine, culture, and religions, it is widely considered a sacred tree and often allowed to thrive in agricultural lands. Baobab is known to be high in vitamin C and other nutrients. However, nutritional studies on baobab vary greatly by sourced material and analytical methods. In addition, data on nutrients from east and south African baobabs have not been previously reported. Therefore, the authors analyzed fruit pulp and seeds from 17 populations in east, south, and west African nations (Kenya, Tanzania, Mali, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Malawi) to determine if the region of origin affects nutrient content.

Provenances were from 8-1114 meters above sea level with rainfall of 463-1125…

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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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Native American Herbs of the Northeast

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

A look to the past reveals some of the most important plants used by Eastern woodland tribes – and an inestimable connection to nature.

My adventure into the historical uses of many Native American plants began when Maine native Kerry Hardy, author of Notes on a Lost Flute: A Field Guide to the Wabanaki, presented a program for Western Maine’s Greater Lovell Land Trust, billed as “Native American Plant Medicine” last summer. So many plants and so many uses! I was intrigued to find out more about these plants and explore the wealth of medicinal knowledge from Eastern Woodlands tribes like the Mohawk, Wyandot {Huron}, and Iroquois. From Hardy’s work, as well as from the research of author Charlotte Erichsen-Brown, I enjoyed a glimpse into how these tribes looked to nature for healing – and how early pioneers benefited from their knowledge.

elderberries-af-canyon-3-2013-09-05

The Essential Elderberry

Hardy’s book focuses on…

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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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