September Herb of the Month; Annatto

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

Annatto, Bixa Orellana

• An orange-red dye or colorant, flavoring for food and healing agent derived from the seeds of
the achiote tree, an evergreen native to tropic and subtropic zones of the Americas
• Spiny red fruits contain the seeds and the reddish pericarp that surround the seed contains
the annatto or color
• Foods colored with the annatto pigment range from yellow to deep orange and include
chorizo sausage, cheese (like cheddar and American), smoked fish, popcorn, oil, butter,
margarine, rice as well as processed products like snacks and breakfast cereals
• Historically used to create a face or body paint by rainforest tribes and natives of the
Caribbean; Applying the paint lips dubbed achiote tree the lipstick tree; annatto paint was
also used as a sunscreen, bug repellent, food, and medicine
• Aztecs enhanced the color of hot chocolate with annatto
• Commonly used in Mexican cooking…

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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: 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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Food as Medicine: West Indian Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus, Poaceae)

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

West Indian lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus, Poaceae) is an aromatic tropical perennial with long, slender, light green leaves that grow in groups with bulbous and fibrous stems at the base of the plant.1-3The grass can grow from two to six feet tall, and its leaves are approximately one inch wide with slightly toothed, saw-like margins.2 West Indian lemongrass likely originated from India, Malaysia, or Sri Lanka.1,2,4,5 It is now cultivated in tropical and subtropical countries.4 The largest exporter of lemongrass leaves and stalks is Guatemala,5 while India is the largest producer of lemongrass essential oil, 80% of which is exported annually.6Lemongrass grows well in warm and humid areas with plenty of sunshine and moisture.4 The leaves and fleshy part of the stem are used for flavoring teas and broths in many Asian cuisines, and its essential oil is used in…

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Activity of Lemon Balm and Moldavian Dragonhead Essential Oils against Foodborne Microorganisms

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

It has been postulated that plant essential oils can be used as natural preservatives to delay food spoilage, inhibit pathogen growth, and improve food quality. Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis, Lamiaceae) aerial parts and Moldavian dragonhead (Dracocephalum moldavica, Lamiaceae) aerial parts have antibacterial and antifungal activity. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the chemical composition, antimicrobial activity, and antioxidant capacity of lemon balm and Moldavian dragonhead essential oils with the goal of finding natural agents to protect against oxidation changes and pathogenic bacteria of food.

Lemon balm and Moldavian dragonhead aerial parts were collected at blossoming in the summer of 2013 in Urmia, Iran. The plants were confirmed by the Herbarium Department of Jahad Agriculture and Natural Resources Center of West Azerbaijan, Iran. Essential oils were extracted via hydro-distillation, and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) was used to analyze the compounds in the essential oil. Antibacterial…

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Plant Spirit Communication, Part I: Your Native Langauge

The Druid's Garden

When I was  new to my first job, a colleague had given two of us both who had been recently hired an elephant ear plant seedling for our offices. Our offices were next to each other, both with the same window. Each plant was planted in an identical pot and in identical soil. My elephant ear plant grew quite large and beautiful, while my colleague’s plant kept sending up small shoots and dying back. Finally, she said to me, “Why is your plant doing so much better than mine?” And I responded as a druid, totally without thinking, “I just talk to the plant and it tells me what it needs.” She rolled her eyes at me, let out an exasperated sigh, and walked away. She was never a very pleasant person, but she was particularly nasty to me for some time after that. Perhaps she thought I was mocking…

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Attraction Body Mask & Bath Ritual… Recipe Included!

The Witch & Walnut

attraction-bath-ritual.pngFridays are a made for love and attraction of all types. Sundays are good too… but lets stick with Fridays.

Today specifically I am talking about making a body paste for attraction, to get someones attention more than just a friend. What happens after that is up to you;) This is an old recipe and does require the use of real fresh pumpkin, since that isn’t something that is always available, you can use canned pumpkin.

This can be performed simply in ritual, or in preparation prior to meeting this person. Ideally on a Friday

Ingredients:

  1. Pumpkin – if you are using a small sugar pie pumpkin, use half the pumpkin and then use the emptied part as your mixing bowl. Save the other half for another bath.
  2. Honey
  3. Lavender – fresh or dried
  4. Cream – you only need a little. Use the thickest you can find. I recommend 35%…

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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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New event scheduled! Old Growth Forest Hike & Spring Water Gathering

Greetings!

I am excited to announce that I will be leading the Old Growth Forest Hike & Spring Water Gathering during the weekend of August 25th and 26th at Cook Forest State Park.  And of course, I’d love for you to join us!

If you’ve never experienced the magnificence of Cook Forest, it truly is one of the most remarkable natural areas in Pennsylvania.  This particular ecosystem encompasses one of the last remaining old growth forests in the entire eastern United States, currently hosting 11 old growth areas that total over 2,300 acres.  One of these areas within the park, the Forest Cathedral, contains arguably the finest concentration of old growth trees in the northeastern United States.  This special area is home to dozens of old growth eastern white pine and hemlock trees, many over 300 years old and towering above 140 feet in height!

In this event, we will hike and explore the Forest Cathedral surrounded by Pennsylvania’s tallest and oldest trees while discussing:

  • Edible and medicinal plants
  • Edible and medicinal mushrooms
  • Tree identification, along with edible and medicinal uses
  • Medicine-making using wild plants and mushrooms
  • Natural history of the area

…and lots more!

For the second part of the event, we will visit a pristine spring to gather wild Pennsylvania water straight from the source.  As you may or may not know, I’ve been harvesting wild water from springs all over the country as part of my personal health strategy for several years, championing the idea that nature’s wild water can provide the perfect alternative to other conventional hydration strategies (tap water, bottled water, commercial filters, etc.).

During this second part of the event, we will discuss the benefits of drinking wild spring water, the importance of developing your own personalized water strategy, and locations of other fantastic springs.  You are encouraged to bring your own collection vessels so that you can harvest fresh, clean spring water following the event.

Interested?  Here are more details:

What: Old Growth Forest Hike & Spring Water Gathering
When: Saturday, August 25th OR Sunday, August 26th
Where: Cook Forest State Park, Western Pennsylvania
Time: 12:00 PM — 5:00 PM

The program is geared toward adults and will entail moderate hiking (about 1.5 miles).

Please note that in order to maximize your learning experience, space is limited and registration with payment in advance is required to secure your spot.

To purchase your ticket, and to learn more about the outing, please visit the following link and choose the appropriate session:

Old Growth Forest Hike & Spring Water Gathering

I’d love to see you there!
—Adam Haritan