Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Scarborough Fair

I've seriously neglected this blog, but I hope to dig my herbal knowledge out of the musty back room of my brain and share it with you on a regular basis.

A few days ago the Song Scarborough Fair kept running through my mind.  It reminded me of my daughter teasingly calling one of my favorite herb blend my "Scarborough Fair" blend.  I hadn't even thought about it, but I had all those herbs growing in my garden, and I combined them often.  The following article came about as a result.

Are You Going to Scarborough Fair   Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme. . . 

So goes the song “Scarborough Fair”.  For some today it may just be words, but those four herbs were common, easily obtainable and essential for the health and well being of the people in the middle ages.  I don’t find much reference for their use as culinary herbs, but they are antibacterial, antifungal, antiseptic, carminative, sedative, stimulant, tonic, rejuvenative vermafuge, vulnerary.  Some contain all those properties.

During the middle ages parsley was used as a poison antidote.  It was also thought to ward off drunkeness.  The poison antidote is understandable as the leaf is a powerful kidney cleanser.  The leaves, root and seeds are all used in modern herbalism, but only the leaf should be used without the direction of a professional.  The diuretic properties of the leaf make it useful for treatment of high blood pressure.
A poultice may be made of parsley to treat bruises, sprains and insect bites.

Growing sage in the mediaeval garden was a sign of prosperity.  If sage flourished in the garden it was
considered a sign that the woman ruled the house.  There is an old saying “Why should a man die who has sage in his garden”.  Sage is a panacea meaning it is good for any thing that ails you.  It has been used for centuries by cultures all over the world for smudging.  Although among primitives this was done to drive out evil spirits, many modern day cultures burn sage in their medical clinics to cleanse and disinfect.  

The leaf is made into a tea to treat respiratory and digestive ailments among other things.  This tea can be use topically for a hair rinse to alleviate oily scalp and dandruff.  There are many other medicinal uses for sage.

During the sixteenth century Europeans carried pouches of rosemary to ward off the plague.  It was used as a strewing herb in public places to ward off disease and infection.  Today we use it to improve memory, increase circulation, relieve depression, stress, headache, anxiety and fatigue.  

Rosemary can be made into a tea for a hair rinse to alleviate dandruff, dry scalp and to strengthen the hair follicles.  The dried herb is put into pillows to promote sleep and pleasant dreams.

Roman soldiers used thyme as a bath herb to give them courage.  It was often burned as incense.  In that era
incense was used to fumigate.  Thyme was burned to deter scorpions.  It was used to treat snake bite and the sting of poisonous insects.  Today it is used to deter bacterial, fungal and viral infections.  Thyme is warming to the lungs and taken internally can help with respiratory ailments like whooping cough, flu, colds etc.

Topically thyme is used to kill lice, crabs and scabies.  It is still used topically to treat insect bites.  It is also helpful in treating athlete’s foot, and ringworm.

These herbs are all used as culinary herbs today and using them regularly can help build your immune system and make you healthier in general.  There are many more medicinal uses for all of them.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Is That Sneeze Really The First Sign of a Cold

We are so busy, and our lives are so hectic that we rarely pay attention to what our bodies are telling us.

We’ve all seen the TV ads claiming that if you take product XYZ  at that first sneeze, you can shorten the duration of a cold.  Is that sneeze really the first sign of a cold?  Is there a way we can tell if a cold is coming on before that first sneeze?  If so, is there anything we can do to ward it off?

Listed in this article are some signs of an impending cold that occur as much as five days before that first sneeze.

Three to five days before that first sneeze:

You may experience extreme exhaustion, lack of motivation and the desire to just sleep.  While this is not a sign that the cold virus has attacked your body, it is a warning that you are a prime target.  An exhausted body doesn’t have the ability to ward off a viral attack.

Two to three days before that first sneeze:

Your taste buds may seem impaired.  For me, coffee tastes like creosote or like it is made with chicory.  Other foods just don’t taste right and I crave salty foods.  

Your sense of smell may also be altered. You may smell something burning, but not be able to find what it is, or any meat products may smell rancid.

You may experience joint and muscle pain.

One or two days before that first sneeze :

You may experience headaches that feel like pressure inside your head and ears.  The pressure may be so intense you feel like you head is going to explode.

The first sneeze arrives.  At this point most of the previous symptoms have disappeared, but the sneezing, runny nose and watery eyes are totally exhausting.  The symptoms of a cold may progress to coughing and congestion.  A cold will run its course in 10 days if your body is strong enough to fight it off.  It is possible that complications may set in if your immune system is compromised.

So what can you do about it?

At that first sign of exhaustion, drink a cup of chamomile tea before you go to bed at night.  It will help calm you, allow you to put your hectic day aside, and rest.

Start a regimen of Vitamin C, Zink and L Lysine.  These help build your immune system and give your body the nutrients it needs to combat infection

Take herbs or berries that help detoxify your body.  Some suggestions are Acai Berry, Black Cherry, Red Clover, and Citrus fruits.

There’s no guarantee you won’t catch a cold, but taking these steps may mean you the colds may be fewer and less severe.

Content Source: Bukisa - Is That Sneeze Really The First Sign of a Cold

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Primal Wisdom: New Study Shows Pharmacological Foundation of Chinese Herbal Medicines

This is a great article on alternative medicine, particularly TCM.

Primal Wisdom: New Study Shows Pharmacological Foundation of Chinese Herbal Medicines

And here's another article on Spirit of Simples giving the advantages of using just one herb at a time.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Raspberry Leaf

RASPBERRY LEAF is generally considered a "women's herb", but its uses extend far beyond the common use by pregnant women to tone the uterus, nourish the mother and infant and facilitate birth and placenta delivery.

When taken over a long period of time it helps improve visual accuity and benefits joints and tendons.

It is also useful in relieving eye lid infections and discharge by either using it as an eye wash or a compress. When used as a compress for relieving a stye it helps facilitate drainage and eases the pain.

Raspberry leaf has been used as a mild remedy for diabetes, anemia and diarrhea.

The fruit is tasty and nutritious as are the flowers and leaves.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Chicagoland Gardening Magazine ISO Young Gardeners

via Chicago Garden by Mr. Brown Thumb on 9/17/09

Are you interested in gardening and under 35? If you found an Ed Hardy t-shirt in your closet would you throw it in a compost bin before ever wearing it?* Do you and your friends use around buzzwords like "sustainability?"If you answered yes, then ChicagoLand Gardening magazine wants to talk to you. They're conducting a 35 and Under Garden Focus Group to help direct the magazine and garden dialogue in Chicagoland. You'll discuss edible gardening, ecology, sustainability, environmentalism.When: Saturday, October 17, 2009. A second meeting takes place in April of 2010.Time: 9:30 a.m to noon.Location: Chicagoland Magazine's Office. 915 Parkview BLVD., Lombard, IL 60148 (near I-355 and I-88)To volunteer for the Garden Focus Group send an Email with your Name,...

Posted via email from containerherbgardening's posterous

Dorm room gardening

via Garden Variety on 9/17/09


Garden Variety


Photo courtesy of Matt Lehman

In my garden column in The Baltimore Sun today, I talk with Matt Lehman, a 19-year-old college sophomore who carried a garden with him when he return to college in Kansas.

Matt's family owns Lehman's, an Ohio, hardware story and catalog outlet that caters to Amish and others who do not have or use electricity.

After working in the family store all summer - and contracting a bit of cabin fever - Matt said he found refuge working outdoors in his mother's garden when his shift was over.

Attracted to Mel Bartholomew's book on square-foot gardening, he decided to build his own (1 foot X 3 feet), cart it back to college, and place it under his dorm window. With the help of some extra lighting, he is growing some fine tomatoes, beans and cukes.

Matt said his little garden gave him the same kind of pleasure working in his mother's had during the summer - something constructive and contemplative to do during down time.

Matt discovered what we all know....gardening can be a refuge.

And a good source of fresh vegetables!

Posted via email from containerherbgardening's posterous

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Obesity Gene

This isn't herbal, but nevertheless health related.

Science Daily reports that University of Michigan researchers have identified a gene that acts as a master switch to control obesity in mice. Deleting the gene seems to switch off the weight gain that is result of a high fat diet and also to protect against conditions that can lead to type 2 diabetes.

But what about other harmful effects of eating a high fat diet? Weight gain and type 2 diabetes aren't the only thing we need to be protected against. What about heart disease, diminished cognition and physical endurance? Do they know that deleting the IKKE gene ONLY stops weight gain? What else might it effect in the long term?

We really need to wake up and take responsibility for our own health. The "There's a pill for that" mentality has definitely gone too far. Is this what we're calling "health reform"?

Science Direct
reports that exercise can reverse the harmful effects of high fat diet. Why mess around with the genes? Are we so lazy that we'd rather alter our genetic make up than exercise? Yes, obesity is on the rise especially in children and adolescents. This may be a direct result of a high fat diet, or it may be a combination of an unbalanced diet that doesn't provide all the various nutrients the body needs and the fact that most children and adolescents seem to be glued to a TV, computer or game station and get no exercise.