School of Natural Healing by Dr. John R. Christopher
The Way of Herbs by Michael Tierra
The Herbal Medicine Cabinet: Preparing Natural Remedies at Home by Debra St. Claire
Really my favorite sources now tend to be online blogs. Their narrative style brings the herbs to life in a way books have never done for me, while allowing them to drill deeper into any particular aspect than seems possible than the books, which seem to favor breadth of knowledge. The one exception to this seems to be the general art of making preparations, in which books seem to have the upper hand.
Funny you should mention Yaupon holly as a commercial product. I was thinking about that earlier this week myself. There is one on the property I steward, and I was wondering what time of year is best to harvest the leaves. Leaves are said to be best when very young, before flowering. But Yaupon holly, like all hollies, are evergreen! So does that mean they are available year round?
Red raspberry is a mildly bitter herb on the nutritional end of the spectrum, very safe for long-term regular use. It has a flavor that resembles black tea. It is very easy to get. On the other end of the spectrum, extremely bitter, but very safe and gentle, are the gentians. Gentian is considered a tonic for the stomach and liver. I have never used it myself, but you might look into it.
The only thing stopping me from turning my compost bin into a humanure compost bin is the fact that I frequently find a possum sitting on top of it! Jenkins insists it is important to exclude animals in the Humanure Handbook, but he doesn't elaborate much. I would be happy simply to surround it by chicken wire, but it's a roofed pile by the wooden property line fence and I don't know that the animal wouldn't simply get in from the fence or by climbing off the overhanging roof. I hate to move the entire two bin edifice (soon to be three bin), and build a whole new roofing structure, and there may not be anywhere else more suitable on my 1/4 acre lot anyway. Am I overreacting, am I overlooking something, or am I out of luck?
Chickenbone Watt: I would be happy to share a few garlic recipes.
The antiseptic tincture is Dr. Christopher's formula called "X-Ceptic". It consists of equal parts of the following (by weight): oak bark, goldenseal root, myrrh, comfrey, garlic,and cayenne, tinctured in straight grain alcohol. It is an extremely potent topical liniment for cuts and wounds, antiseptic, astringent, styptic, and vulnerary in properties.
The basic cold and flu remedy is a recipe known by a number of names such as "super five", "super tonic", and the like. It is equal parts of cayenne, garlic, ginger, onion, and horseradish steeped in apple cider vinegar. Steep for at least two weeks, strain off and press, and store in dark glass. The vinegar can corrode rubber, I am finding out. Keep the pressed solids in the freezer for adding to chili, if you care to. I take it by the ounce when I feel a cold coming on, or any other infection such as a sinus infection. I take an ounce every 15-30 minutes until I feel well again, which usually only takes an hour or two unless the infection is deeply set. A friend of mine insists that if you take an ounce or two the first time around you only need doses of about one dropper afterwords to finish the job. I can't vouch for that personally. I never want to be without this preparation. It's not as potent as the Anti-Plague formula given below, but it is much cheaper and easier to produce and is very potent and well-rounded in it's own right.
As for the most powerful one I have mentioned, the Dr. Christopher Anti-Plague formula, the recipe is very complicated and would require quoting the entirety of at least three pages of text. It can be found in full in a pamphlet called "The Cold Sheet Treatment and Anti-Plague Recipe" by Dr. John R. Christopher, published by Christopher Publishing. The finished product can be purchased as well. I did in fact make my own, and it took at least a full dedicated day plus some.
To make a short version, you first use apple cider vinegar to extract garlic juice from minced garlic, and using a mathematical formula measuring the volume of vinegar added initially against the total volume of fluid present after pressing off the tincture, you come to a ration of 8 parts vinegar to two parts garlic juice. This is then combined with a 7th power decoction of the following herbs. A 7th power decoction means the herbs are simmered over the stove over low heat for thirty minutes, strained and pressed off, and then simmered down to 1/4 the original volume.
The herbs are: 2 parts comfrey root 1 part wormwood 1 part lobelia herb or seed 1 part marshmallow root 1 part white oak bark or husk 1 part mullein leaf 1 part scullcap 1 part uva-ursi, hydrangea, or gravel root
combine the above ingredients with 5 parts warmed raw honey and 5 parts USP grade vegetable glycerine.
You see, extremely complicated. Completing it in a timely manner before ingredients begin to go off requires having multiple large pots simmering on the stove all afternoon, fancy arithmetics, loads of effort spent in pressing large amounts of herb, and it gets pricey too. It may be worthwhile to buy it pre-made even if you do have the capacity to make it yourself. But once you have it one way or another, it really is invaluable, and it can work very well. It is what I used on my most recent sinus infection, and finished it off in a matter of hours, using tablespoon doses every half hour or so, after two weeks of misery.
The comfrey root is very controversial to advocate ingesting, and anyone with a troubled liver would be wise to think very carefully about how they feel on the matter, and if they choose to do so, should provide liver support concurrently. It's never given me a problem though.
Another garlic preparation worth knowing about is a garlic foot paste. Minced garlic mixed 50/50 with petroleum jelly can be spread on the soles of the feet, not extending to the sides of the foot (not sure why, that's just how I was taught), and covered with cotton and finally an old sock. I have seen this work overnight on some potentially very serious respiratory infection. Petroleum jelly is nasty stuff. I would love to know if anyone has experience with an alternative. I was taught it was essential to use in place of natural carrier oils because it is the only one that is not absorbed into the skin leaving the garlic only. Minced garlic without a carrier oil used in this way, especially kept on overnight, can cause a bad chemical burn. This property has been used advantageously, btw, to treat warts. Chemically corrosive and anti-fungal at the same time!
I always go by weight. It's not so bad to take it either. A little intense, but rather tasty otherwise. I've heard more than one herbalist joke that they are often without their supply because they used it all as salad dressing.
I'll take a stab, Tel, and suggest that perhaps the benefits to the original innovators was one of more standardized doses, than of pure potency? It could be useful to prepare a medicine in two days rather than two or three weeks in certain acute cases as well - though you can make a perfectly passable tincture in that amount of time too with enough agitation, even if not as strong as one allowed to macerate the full period.
I tend to rely on preparations including large amounts of garlic, and have had a lot of luck with sinus infections. I am a bad sinus case and deal with crud all the time. I like a common recipe known as "super tonic" "super 5" or other similar names. Made of equal parts cayenne, garlic, onion, ginger, and horseradish tinctured in apple cider vinegar. Taken 1-2 oz at at time several times in a day, most illnesses are toast. I also have used a Dr. Christopher product called "anti-plague" that can be bought online. It can be made at home, but it is a major hassle so I won't go into it here tonight. Another trick for bypassing the need for antibiotics is a garlic foot paste. Equal parts minced garlic and petroleum jelly spread onto the soles of the feet - only the soles for some reason, I was taught. Cover with gauze or cotton, and pull a sock over it and go to bed. Petroleum jelly is gross, but it's the only oil that won't be absorbed into the skin leaving the garlic to cause a chemical burn. I have seen this work fantastically. Irrigation is a wonderful idea, keep it up.
Here is herbalist Jim McDonald's advice, which I can't begin to touch. His favorite herb for sinus infections is yerba mansa, but check out his precautions first.
I've never used one, and I don't know the history. But instructions for making and using one can be found in the book "The Herbal Medicine Cabinet: Preparing Natural Remedies at Home" by Deborah St. Claire. What a fantastic book that is, btw. It teaches methods for preparing almost every type of herbal preparation and extract imaginable, including some very complicated standardized extracts, of which this is one, and obscure extracts made from unusual substrates.
To quote from the book:
"You can make your own with a Perrier bottle. Take it to a glass cutter and get the bottom removed then smooth the cut with fine sandpaper. Sterilize it in boiling water and use a plastic cap from an Evian bottle with it."
I don't want to quote a whole page of text on how to use it, it's an eight step process involving loading the herb and solvent and packing it to varying degrees while tightening and loosening the lid to let it sit and eventually slow-drip from the bottle. It does take a little more than 24 hours, perhaps more like 48 or so, but yes, you do only need to let it stand for 24 hrs before allowing it to percolate out. This is a technique developed presumably by the Eclectics, designed to create an extract of standardized potency.
"There are many species of bumblebees; all of them dwell in small underground hives which they build in abandoned burrows, and they have queens who live for several years and workers who live only one. The limiting factor in their case is not homes, but homes safe from predators such as field mice, who like to dig down into hives and eat the larvae.
The way to make Liebig’s law work in bumblebees’ favor is to take a small wooden box full of cotton wool, and with a short piece of old garden hose extending from a hole in the side maybe six inches. Bury the box in the ground in a secure, fairly dry place, so that the end of the hose just pokes out of the ground. Once a newly hatched queen finds it – which rarely takes more than a single spring – you’ll have a bumblebee hive full of pollinators who will do their duty for your garden and the wild plants around it as well."
You have to be very careful about which soaps and detergents you use in water you intend to release into soils. In particular, anything with salt (sodium chloride) is a real no-no, and I imagine petroleum distillates are as well. I placed a bulk order for Bio Pac brand dish soap and laundry soap with my local health food store, as it is the only brand I am aware of that is specially formulated for grey water compatibility. I would love to know any other brands or formulas that are safe!
Also, mostly as a point of interest, it is said that the leaves are most potent in the mid- to late-morning just after the dew has evaporated but before the sun has become too strong, and at the point in the season when the plant is just about to produce flowers, but hasn't yet done so. That is when the energy is in the leaves, when the plant focuses it's primary energy usage on photosynthesis, usually in the spring or early summer. This time of the year, October, the energy is retreating into the roots, leaving the leaves with less potency. Just how much of a difference that makes in practice, I have no idea, I harvest at all times of the day and year when I need to and get results, but if I was to make a single large, organized harvest each year, I would certainly make an effort to go by these guidelines.
I'm not sure what the result would be of taking all of the leaves right before winter dormancy. I would suspect that it could hurt the plant, as before they drop the leaves the plants withdraw large quantities of nutrients from those leaves. The traditional rule of harvesting is not to take more than a third of any plant's leaves. I would be interested to know if anyone had in fact tried this, and what their experience was. It may be worth a try as an experiment, if you don't mind risking loss of the plant.
Sure thing! Purslane is the best, James Duke says it's nearly 2% magnesium on a dry weight basis, eat it as a green. Also alfalfa, watercress, garlic, red clover, peppermint, comfrey, cayenne pepper, catnip, ginger, pennyroyal, nettles, chickweed, burdock, horsetail, sage, Dong Quai, passion flower, red raspberry leaf, slippery elm bark, white willow bark, mullein, dandelion, licorice, coriander, black cohosh, as well as whole grains, oats, green beans, spinach, lettuce, poppy seeds, celery, soybeans, greens in general, and nuts.
Natural herbal sources of calcium include amaranth (pigweed), oatstraw (combine with a little horsetail for better results), alfalfa, red raspberry leaf, nettles, lambs quarters, broadbeans, watercress, licorice, marjoram, savory, red clover shoots, thyme, chinese cabbage, basil, celery seed, chaya, dandelion, purslane, slippery elm bark, cranberries, dong quai, echinacea, marshmallow, pau d'arco, white willow, shepherd's purse, plantain, chickweed, comfrey, garlic, rose hips, peppermint, garlic, ginger, oak bark, oregon grape root, black cohosh, and mullein.
Your best bet for receiving significant quantities is probably the herbs and foods within the first half of the list. Information taken from "The Green Pharmacy" by James Duke, "herbs to the Rescue: Herbal First Aid" by Kurt King, and "20,000 Secrets of Tea" by Victoria Zak.
The reports of people beating cancer with natural methods are too numerous to ignore. The thing is, most of them embarked on a program that most people would find prohibitively intensive, a program that would require total dedication for hours a day every day, doing things like making fresh juices, exercising, brewing herb teas multiple times a day, alternating hot/cold therapy, and so on. I would argue, a course of treatment far less troubling than the average round of chemo with it's pain, nausea, mouth ulcers, weight loss, and hair-loss caused by deliberately poisoning oneself, but without a strong belief in oneself and some serious research to back it, I can see how it would be daunting to consider such an effort. The other thing to keep in mind is that the AMA and the FDA are extremely sensitive about the topic of cancer, moreso than almost anything else, and it is highly illegal to claim to have a cure for cancer that is not the traditional and approved surgery, radiation or chemotherapy. People have reportedly been thrown in jail with multi-million dollar cash bails for doing so. And for that reason, no self-respecting licensed doctor is going to verify a home-baked cure even when it walks into his office, either. So natural cures are of course difficult to verify! Most MDs won't even ask what you did for fear of the responsibility of having that knowledge under such a legal climate, a common response seems to be "whatever you did, keep doing it", and in the official records, it's called "spontaneous remission". Which is to say, we're on our own where natural remedies are concerned, for the foreseeable future.
An old recipe for even the most serious burns: equal parts wheat germ oil and honey, combined with comfrey root powder mixed to the desired consistency. Watch out, it's very easy to make it too thick!
On that note, almost any botanical oil will be healing to the skin, whether olive or coconut or shea butter or cocoa butter, or what have you.
Oh, and lavender essential oil! As the story goes, a famous pioneer in essential oil usage burned his hand badly making oils one day. In a panic, he plunged his arm into the nearest vat of cool liquid, which happened to be lavender essential oil, and was totally healed.
Hard to pick a top five, especially since the best results I have thus far have been with combinations. That said:
1. Garlic is part of almost every effective anti-infection formula I use, whether for colds and flu, sinus infections, or topical use for stuff like staph as well as general prevention and wound care. I am extremely susceptible to sinus crud and colds, and I have figured out how to routinely beat colds and sinus infections in less than 48 hours. Garlic containing combos are among the most important methods, so long as you take enough. It's use in wound care and staph infections makes it worth it's weight in gold, too. I would never be without my anti-infection formula. It goes on every cut and wound I get and nothing has gotten past it yet.
2. Comfrey is such a wound-healing miracle. You will never believe the stories told about comfrey use until you experience it for yourself. Again, I use it mostly in combo. But I have seen flesh wounds that would have required stitches close up in just 2 - 3 days with no scarring. Also invaluable when I start having canker sore outbreaks in my mouth. 100% relief on all but the worst day or two, simply from swishing tea a few times a day! Add to it that it is so good for the lungs, and nutritive to boot, and it's hard to beat. Just be careful if you know you have liver problems. Some parts of the plant and some phases of the life cycle contain questionable alkaloids with known liver toxicity. Less dangerous statistically than an aspirin, as far as the number of people actually known to be harmed, but still worth keeping in mind.
3. Elder is another key remedy for colds and flus. I find the flowers to be especially potent when taken in large doses of a quart of tea or more immediately before bed. Often 100% effective overnight for me!
4. Red Raspberry leaf. Primarily nutritive, especially high in iron, and with no toxicity but also another surefire remedy for colds - though the dose tends to be prohibitively large (6 or more quarts in a day). Don't discount nutritive herbs! Used over a long period they can greatly improve health! There are several I choose from on a regular basis as a primary dietary supplement, also including nettles, alfalfa, oat straw, and comfrey.
5. Cayenne pepper. A fantastic accelerator for any herbal formula and a stimulant for all organ systems, it's value in deadly cardiovascular emergencies such as heart attack and stroke, and in stopping hemorrhage makes it a must have for any herbal kit. It contributes so much to the flavor of food too! Too many uses to go in to in this forum, it really deserves a page of it's own (if only I had that kind of time right now!)
Dr Christopher's formula used for all nervous system related difficulties including insomnia is equal parts: blue cohosh, black cohosh, blue vervain, skullcap, and lobelia, often used in tincture form. There are dozens of other relaxing nervines that one can try and see what works for them beyond what was mentioned in this and the other thread. Everyone has unique body chemistry, playing around can be useful.
Another interesting solution many natural healers have suggested is a simple long walk in the grass or bare earth of any kind barefooted, or a trip to the beach and swim in the ocean. Supposedly this has helped people with chronic insomnia resistant to any other course of treatment. Some say it is the exercise and stress release that does the healing. Others say something about the release of a buildup of static electricity within a body prevented from proper grounding by rubber soled shoes. Whatever the reason, effective or not, it's surely worth a try.
Maybe, maybe not. There are a lot of factors to consider. Have the weeds set seed? If so, then potentially. If not, then no way. More importantly, using a mulching mower may spread seeds, but the healthier soil that will result from mulching will be more likely to promote the growth of fussier plants such as your grass, helping to out-compete the weeds, and the mulch itself if it is thick enough can suppress weed growth by blocking sunlight from reaching the soil. Weeds are pioneer species that succeed by quickly filling in empty spaces in the soil and are not adversely affected by low nutrient content the way other plants are. Fill in those spaces with healthy grass using mulching along with all the other strategies used to build soil, and the weed problem will diminish over time. Probably won't go away completely without a lot of care, assuming an organic strategy, but it will diminish. It is important to note that there are always so many weed seeds already buried in the soil just below the surface just waiting for a chance to germinate that spreading a few around with a mower probably makes very little difference.
I find it perfectly tolerable to live without air conditioning, and that is in central Oklahoma where the august temps can rise to nearly 110 at times. It helps that I have trees and an attic fan to cool the house at night, and I wear few clothes when home (I am also about 110 lbs and very heat tolerant/cold intolerant). That is the biggest energy saver I have found. I have yet to invest the money in many strategies for winter. However, one thing that has made a surprisingly large difference is heavy drapes. I haven't even made proper curtains of them yet, just nailed them to the tops of the windows, and it turned a perfectly miserable, drafty apartment that would not stay warm with the central furnace running full time into a place that could be made quite tolerable with just a space heater, two or three on the very coldest of nights, and a blanket. Drapes are perfect for renters, unlike most other strategies for insulation.
Someone more well versed in biochemistry would be much better suited than I am to respond. However, plants will accumulate lead and it is toxic to animals, so I would not recommend attempting to grow food for the wildlife in that soil. Lead being a heavy metal, it cannot be broken down, only moved about. If some plants are used to accumulate lead specifically in order to harvest and remove them from the property as a strategy for remediation (which is definitely something done by grassroots types in the know), you can count on those plants to send that lead up the food chain should animals eat them, and the results of bioaccumulation can be very difficult to get a handle on, with repercussions spreading through entire ecosystems in ways that are very hard to trace, often taking decades to spot and pin down. In general, fruits and seeds are usually considered to be less likely to accumulate toxins, as plants tend to be a bit choosy about what they add to their reproductive parts, according to common lore, but special cases may well exist, so seek further knowledge on individual plants if you feel it is worth your while to explore further. I'm not sure that knowledge even exists, btw, in formal science. I wonder if anyone has any personal experiences with this.
I wash by hand, and do it in a medium or large sized pot set into the sink, with a separate pot for rinse water set into the other basin, saving all wash and rinse water. I use Oasis Bio Pac brand dish soap, which is specifically formulated to be graywater safe, (and not made for dishwashers). I use about a quart of water letting the water heat and set the water aside for garden use. Then I use about a half gallon roughly every two days to wash our dishes. Each person who lives here tends to use only one dish which prevents multiple used dishes from piling up, so most of our dishes piled up to wash at the end of the day are silverware and cookware. I use about a quart of rinse water or less that goes into the second pot. This is all eyeballed measurements, btw. The initial run and the rinse water go immediately out to the garden. The soapy wash water ends up on the compost pile. I doubt a dishwasher can compete with that. Perhaps it would take all week, or even two weeks to fill at the rate we generate dishes, but who wants to leave dirty dishes to sit two weeks? Furthermore I wonder if there is any dishwasher detergent that is greywater compatible. The water I use gets used twice and ends up in the soil, so can hardly be considered wasted, in my mind.
Any reason to suspect you could turn your harvest this year into a harvest of grasshoppers? For instance, would it be worth your while to catch and sell them to a bait shop, or an exotic pet shop, or convince the local hippies they should pay a premium for your raw cacao covered grasshopper treats?
Re: cooking fruit with their stones: stones can have large amounts of cyanide, I believe. Presumably this is not a problem? Is the cyanide destroyed by heat, or does it not leach from the stone, or is something else at work?
I've read that flax oil is one of the most delicate and shortest-lived of all vegetable oils once opened. I am far from certain your oil is rancid, but I would not trust it if it were me, and I have disposed of flax oil I have found in the fridge of that age. I figure it's not worth the risk for the modest price of a new bottle of oil.
Perhaps this only muddies the water, as there is lots of folk lore about poke salad. What I read was the leaves are safe to eat, after 3 changes of boiled water, only when the plant is very young and the stalk is green. When the stalk turns purple it is unsafe. Not sure if this is more or less true than any of the other methods listed above.
Post hole diggers and mounds ought to give me something to work with! I was looking for somewhere to put horseradish too. As far as hugelkultur goes, the maple has shed plenty of wood this year alone to start a nice sized bed or two, all stored neatly in the back corner. Now I'm just waiting for the 100 degree temps to end. Thanks all!
The laws on this differ from state to state. I know that in Oklahoma you have to get a license for each formula from the health department, done by providing a sample to be tested for content, and pay a fee of some few thousand dollars. On top of that, a commercial kitchen and a liquor license are required. I don't know what other states require, I imagine Oklahoma's is one of the most draconian.
Many good suggestions here. I have seen more than one case of mild to moderate acne clear up quite quickly through the use of burdock root tincture, a dropper taken three times a day. Never tried it on a severe case though. This can be purchased commercially of course, but it is easy to make your own too, chop the root, cover with vodka and shake the jar once daily for two weeks. Burdock is a common weed in most places, a huge plant with large burrs, that many people are anxious to get rid of. It is almost root harvest season too, when you can get the most potent substance. Or, look for "gobo root" in the local Asian market, it's the same thing.
Hi, newbie here. I am working on a small suburban property I purchased about a year ago in central Oklahoma. The property has three mature, aging silver maples on it, probably 30-40 feet tall. I dug a garden bed beneath one this spring, and have been contemplating doing a sheet mulch on this bed, as well as under the other two trees in another part of the yard to establish a windbreak on the north edge of the property. I am having second thoughts now, having read recently in more than one place that altering the level of the soil, upward or downward, can seriously disrupt the root structure of a tree or even kill it. I have thought about taking the trees out, but to do so would be way outside my price range, so they are staying for at least a few more years, and I don't care to have them fall over on their own. Any thoughts? What have others experienced gardening within the dripline of established trees?