John Rushton

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since Aug 14, 2010
Norman, OK
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Recent posts by John Rushton

Anything by Susun Weed.

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.

For web sources start with
9 years ago
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?
9 years ago
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.
9 years ago
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?
10 years ago
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!
10 years ago
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.

Glad to hear the infection passed!
10 years ago
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.
10 years ago
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.
10 years ago
No diagrams, but if you read the book it should make more sense.  I've never tried it, so I can't speak to the potency.  I would love to know the results of any experiments anyone undertakes.
10 years ago
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.
10 years ago