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[Herbal Rootlets]: No. 65 – Calling on Cumin

Posted in Uncategorized on January 29th, 2016 by KristineBrown — Be the first to comment!

Calling-on-Cumin

It is a wholesome and necessary thing for us to turn again to the earth and in the contemplation of her beauties to know of wonder and humility.”

– Rachel Carson

A popular spice in a variety of cuisines, Cumin has a long standing use in Ayurvedic medicine as well. This plant is native to Levant (the east Mediterranean) and India. This spice was popularized in the Middle Ages and often used in place of Black Pepper because of his accessibility.

There are several herbs that are known as Cumin. This issue of Herbal Roots zine is focusing on Cuminum cyminum, which is also known as Green Cumin, Jira, and Jiraka. Other Cumins include Black Cumin, Bunium persicum and Caraway, Carum carvi. Both are often used interchangeably with Cumin, though Caraway seems to be a closer match than Black Cumin.

Have you had Cumin before in your meals? If you’ve eaten Mexican, Mediterranean, Indian, Middle Eastern, and/or certain Chinese cuisines then you’ve most likely eaten Cumin.

Cumin Seed

Let’s have a taste of Cumin to discover his energetics. To do this experiment you will need some Cumin, preferably the fruits (which are commonly called seeds) though powdered will work if that’s all you have in your cabinet. Chew some of the fruits in your mouth and notice the flavors. The first thing you will notice is his bitter taste followed by a bit of pungency. How does your mouth feel? Does it seem to be warming or cooling? Views seem to be divided as to whether Cumin is warming or cooling. Most likely you will notice that Cumin does not seem to dry out your mouth or moisten it further because Cumin is neutral.

Nutritionally, Cumin if full of vitamins and minerals: vitamins, A, C, E, K, thiamin (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pyridoxine (B6), calcium, choline, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and zinc. Cumin’s main constituent is his volatile oil, cuminaldehyde.

Medicinally, Cumin is an anodyne, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiseptic, antispasmodic, carminative, diuretic, emmenagogue, galactagogue, stimulant and vermifuge. Let’s take a look at what this means…

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Cumin is best known as his use as a carminative and herbalists of the past deemed it to be stronger in this action than Caraway and Fennel but due to his disagreeable flavor as a tea, the use of Cumin for this practice fell out of favor. By adding Cumin to our food, we are taking advantage of this medicinal action. As a carminative and antispasmodic, Cumin is often added to a colic tea for babies. Adding Cumin to our food has more advantages than just being a carminative. Cumin is also a vermifuge, helping to kill and expel parasites from the body. Cumin is antioxidant, which means he will protect cells against the effects of free radicals. Being high in iron, Cumin is an important herb for those who are suffering from anemia.

Although Cumin is a mild emmenagogue and may bring on delayed menses, many women find Cumin to help with nausea associated with morning sickness and use it with no ill effects. Pregnant women should not use excessive amounts of Cumin because of his emmenagogue actions. Nursing moms may find Cumin beneficial by increasing their milk flow as he is an excellent galactagogue.

Cumin is also a mild diuretic, stimulating the flow of urine.

By Franz Eugen Köhler, Köhler's Medizinal-Pflanzen, via Wikimedia Commons

By Franz Eugen Köhler, Köhler’s Medizinal-Pflanzen, via Wikimedia Commons

Cumin is often used to help fight off the common cold. My first experience with Cumin was back in the early 90’s when a friend of mine added a lot of Cumin to my chicken noodle soup when I was sick. I recovered quickly and have been sold on using Cumin ever since! Cumin is also recommended for coughs and fevers though I do not have any experience with him in this manner.

Studies show that Cumin gives promising results in lowering blood glucose, cholesterol, and triglycerides, increasing bone density and protecting the liver from toxicity.

Externally, Cumin can be applied to bruises and swellings to ease pain and reduce swelling. Dr. James Duke, PhD., studied the properties of Cumin and discovered pain-relieving compounds, four of them combatting swelling and seven that are anti-inflammatory. He lists Cumin as an herb to take for those who are suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome, along with other herbs such as Chamomile, Cayenne, Willow, Turmeric, and Sage as well as gentle exercises and massage with herbal oils.

Cumin grows well in the garden but does need a long growing season so start your seeds indoors several weeks before your last frost date. There’s nothing like your own freshly harvested Cumin!

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Want to learn more about Cumin? Grab this month’s issue for only $3.99. But hurry, the sale ends January 31, 2016.

[Herbal Rootlets] No. 64 – Making Herbal Salves with Kids

Posted in Uncategorized on January 15th, 2016 by KristineBrown — Be the first to comment!

making-herbal-salves-with-kids

Children are born with a sense of wonder and an affinity for Nature.  Properly cultivated, these values can mature into ecological literacy, and eventually into sustainable patterns of living.

– Zenobia Barlow, “Confluence of Streams”

Kids love to make herbal remedies. Salve making is easy to do and a lot of fun and kids take pride in being able to use it for themselves or their friends and family. Lip balms are made similarly to salves and can be another fun project. Salves are great for applying herbs where you need them without a huge mess. They are compact and can be traveled with easily and ready to use when the fresh herb isn’t around.

To make a salve, you first need to infuse your oil with herbs. You can read up here on how this is done if you missed the previous newsletter.

Let’s get started!
To make a salve, you will need your infused oils, beeswax and vitamin E. You can purchase vitamin E capsules at your local drugstore. You’ll only need a few drops.

Measure your oil and place it in the top of a double burner. For every 4 parts oil, add 1 part beeswax. For instance if you have 4 oz. of oil, you’ll add 1 oz. of beeswax.

Gently heat until the beeswax is melted. Dip a teaspoon into the salve and bring out, shake off. Let it set up either at room temperature or in the freezer for quicker results. When it has hardened, you can tell how thick the salve is. If you think it’s going to be too hard, add a bit more oil. If you’d like it harder, add a bit more beeswax. It will become a bit harder than it is on the spoon so keep that in mind when you make any adjustments.

When it is the consistency you want it, use the tip of a sharp knife to poke a hole in the vitamin E capsule and squeeze it into the salve. Stir and pour your salve into a wide mouthed jar or metal container.

Storing your salve
Salves store best in a cool, dark place. They generally remain useable for about a year. Smelling them often will indicate when they’ve gone bad as they will have a strong rancid smell. If this occurs, compost the salve and make a new one.

How about lip balms?
Once you make your own lip balm, you’ll be hooked! One batch of lip balm makes about 18 – 20 lip balms. You can use lip balm tubes or tins for pouring your salve in. Both can be found on eBay fairly inexpensively.

1/2 oz. almond oil
1/2 oz. jojoba oil
1 oz. shea butter
1 oz. beeswax
1/4 teaspoon honey
1/8 t. vitamin E
2 tablespoons Dried herbs of choice (Calendula, Prunella, Plantain are some good choices)
Essential oil of choice such as orange, peppermint, cinnamon or vanilla extract

Place chosen herbs in a mini crockpot or double boiler and cover with almond and jojoba oil. Let gently simmer for 2 -3 hours until herbs have infused with oil. The herbs will look spent. Alternatively, if you already have your oil made, you can use a previously infused oil.

Strain off the herbs.

Add the shea butter and beeswax to the mini crockpot and return the infused oil until melted. Stir to combine. Add vitamin E oil and essential oils and stir to combine.

Pour your lip balm into a small glass measuring cup that has a pour spout on it. Carefully pour the lip balm into the tubes or tins.

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What some more sources of information about making herbal salves?

Try these books:

A Kid’s Herb Book by Lesley Tierra page 94

Healing Wise by Susun Weed pages 273

Making Plant Medicine by Richo Cech pages 87 – 88 (Second part of Chapter 10)

The Herbal Medicine-Maker’s Handbook by James Green Chapter 18: Ointments, Salves & Balms pages 201 – 208 (click to see online…5 pages are missing from this version)

Herbal salve are easy to make and easy to use. They are a great next step for kids to learn how to make.

Have you made herbal salves or lip balms with your kids? What kinds did you make and what did you use them for?

Giveaway Monday – Cacao from Mountain Rose Herbs

Posted in Uncategorized on December 28th, 2015 by KristineBrown — 6 Comments

***THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED. CONGRATULATIONS TO CHRISTINA M., SHE IS THE WINNER!***

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In honor of the December issue of Herbal Roots zine, we are giving away this awesome Cacao package from Mountain Rose Herbs:

4 oz Raw Cacao $3.50

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4 oz Roasted Cacao nibs $5.00

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4 oz Roasted Cacao powder $4.25

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4 oz Cocoa Butter $5.50

Cocoa_Butter

This collection of Cacao products will give you plenty of inspiration when working with Cacao!

Mountain Rose Herbs is a certified organic processor through Oregon Tilth which is fully accredited with the USDA National Organic Program. Since 1987 they have continuously worked for the advancement of sustainable organic agriculture and state they will continue this lifelong passion into the future. They wholeheartedly recommend discovering the joys to be found in organic food products and the best place to start is right here at Mountain Rose Herbs. From the herbs they offer, to the teas they process and the oils they have distilled.

M0untain Rose also has a great YouTube Channel which offers an amazing amount of tutorials and educational videos, many created by John Gallagher and Rosalee de la Foret of Learningherbs.com.

You can also follow them on their Blog for more information and great Giveaway offers!

Love Mountain Rose Herbs? You can show your support by ‘liking’ them on Facebook. Tell them Herbal Roots zine sent you!

Want a chance to win this awesome package from Mountain Rose Herbs? Leave a comment, telling us if you’ve ever worked with Cacao medicinally before. For more chances to win, leave a separate comment every time you do one of the following:

-if you’re a kid, tell me how old you are and what your favorite Herbal Roots zine activities are

-Check out MRH’s website and tell me some of your favorite things

-Blog about it (leave reference link)

-Follow Mountain Rose Herbs and Herbal Roots zine on Pinterest and pin this giveaway with hashtags #mountainroseherbs #giveawaymonday #herbalrootszine (list your pinterest name in comments so we can find you)

-Become a follower of Mountain Rose Herbs and Herbal Roots zine on Twitter and tweet this giveaway with hashtags #mountainroseherbs #giveawaymonday #herbalrootszine (list your twitter ID in comments so we can find you)

We’ll announce the winner on Monday, January 4, 2016!

[Herbal Rootlets] No. 63 – Making Herbal Oils

Posted in Uncategorized on November 19th, 2015 by KristineBrown — Be the first to comment!

making oil infusion

“Once upon a time, children would have learned about the many uses of plants—as food, as decoration, and most importantly, as medicine—from their elders. A wise woman or man who had learned the ways of the plants would have guided children as they discovered the natural world around them. Our world is very different now, but plants still have much to teach us.”

-Ellen Evert Hopman, Walking the World of Wonder

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In herbalism, there are many ways to extract herbs to make remedies. Infusions are a common method and can involve water, alcohol, vinegar, or oil. Today we are going to focus on oil infusions.

Oil infusions are fun and easy to make with kids. They will enjoy making an herbal remedy that they can use on themselves.

Why oil infusions?
Oil infusions (not to be confused with essential oils, which are a completely different process) infuse the constituents of herbs in oil. Resins, gums and oleoresins are most soluble in oils. Other active principles such as the hypericin in St. John’s Wort, as well as essential oils, mucilage and alkaloids are all partially soluble in oils. These make oils that are great for topical use. They can be massaged directly on the skin, or combined with other ingredients to make salves, lotions, creams and even soaps for using topically.

Internally, infused oils are great for using as a base for salad dressings or any other way that oils are used in cooking. They are best used on food after the cooking is finished so that the constituents of the herbs are not cooked out of them.

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Which oils are best?
A variety of oils can be used for making infused oils. Olive oil is a standard, all purpose base and works well as a massage oil, salve base or salad dressing. If you want to make an oil specifically for a massage oil, almond oil, apricot kernel oil and grape seed oil are all lighter and work especially well for this task. Coconut oil is also a great base, especially if you will be using it in your hair. Be aware that coconut oil generally solidifies at temperatures cooler than 76 degrees fahrenheit. Don’t limit your oils to vegetable oils. Animal oils can be used as well: emu oil, lanolin, lard, tallow, butter and ghee are all excellent oils to use.

sjw4

St. John’s Wort flowers make a great herbal oil for sunburns and nerve pain.

What herbs infuse best into oils?
Some herbs that are great for skin include Calendula, St. John’s Wort, Comfrey, Plantain, Prunella, Chickweed, Cottonwood, Garlic, Ginger, Lavender, Goldenrod, Birch, Burdock, Cayenne, Mullein and Black Pepper. The list is endless but these are a few to get you started!

Calendula flowers make a great herbal oil.

Calendula flowers make a great herbal oil.

Whichever herbs you use, it’s best to use dried herbs for the infusion. If you must use fresh, let the plants wilt for at least 8 hours so that some of the moisture will come out of the plant material. The exceptions to this rule are St. John’s Wort, Mullein and Garlic which infuse best fresh.

Infusing Cottonwood. Photo by Ananda Wilson.

Infusing Cottonwood. Photo by Ananda Wilson.

Let’s get started!
First decide what you would like the oil for. If you want to make a lovely massage oil for achy muscles, try infusing a massage type oil such as apricot or almond with herbs for achiness such as Birch, Cottonwood, Goldenrod, Lavender or Prunella. These plants work great for sprains, strains, bumps and bruises too.

For a wound healing oil, which can later be made into a wound healing salve, herbs such as Calendula, Comfrey, Plantain, Chickweed and/or Cottonwood can be used. If you are using Comfrey on wounds, be sure to add an antibacterial herb such as Calendula to the mix since Comfrey can be quick to heal skin over a wound, trapping any debris and germs inside that may not have been thoroughly removed.

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Fresh Ginger infused oil

For help with circulation, Ginger, Cayenne and Black Pepper work great. Mullein and Garlic oil make a nice ear oil, especially with a little St. John’s Wort added in.

St. John’s Wort makes a mild sunscreen, especially when infused in Sunflower oil which also has sunscreen properties. Burdock seeds, smashed and infused in oil make a nice scalp oil for treating dandruff.

Jaden with a bouquet of Prunella, ready to be dried and made into oil.

Jaden with a bouquet of Prunella, ready to be dried and made into oil.

How to infuse oils
Once you’ve decided what type of oil to make, it’s time to get started! To make an oil, place a handful of herb in the top of a double boiler. Pour enough oil to cover, bring the water below to a boil then turn down and gently heat for 2-3 hours. Turn off the heat and strain out the herbs from the oil by pouring it through a strainer lined with cheesecloth. Squeeze the cloth to get the final bits of oil out of the plants.

Pour your oil into a jar and cap it. After 48 hours, check to see if anything has settled to the bottom. Usually when using dried material, there will not be anything settling but when your plants are fresh, water can sometimes mix with the oil during the infusion process and will settle to the bottom. If this happens, you will want to strain off the oil from the sediment at the bottom as the sediment will cause the oil to go rancid.

There are alternative methods for oil infusions. The basic premise of oil infusions is to heat the plant material at a level that the pores open and release the medicinal constituents but not so much that you cook the plant material. Any heat source is acceptable although a continuous heat source is best.

Sun Method:

Fill a jar about 1/2 full of dried plant material in a jar and fill to the top with oil. Stir with a chopstick to get air bubbles out and put on the lid. Set jar outside in the sun for about 2 weeks. Bring inside and follow instructions for straining and settling.

Crock Pot Method:

If you are making a larger quantity of oil, you can heat it in a crock pot. Place the desired amount of herb and oil into the pot, set on low and let heat overnight. Follow instructions for straining and settling.

Storing your oils
Whichever method you use, it’s best to store your oils in the refrigerator so that they won’t go rancid. Oils typically last about a year, sometimes longer. Smell them regularly and you will notice if they go off, they get a peculiar smell about them.

books1

What some more sources of information about making oil infusions?
Try these books:

A Kid’s Herb Book by Lesley Tierra

Healing Wise by Susun Weed pages 271 – 273 (Similar version taken from Breast Cancer? Breast Health! can be found online here: http://www.susunweed.com/herbal_ezine/July09/breasthealth.htm )

Making Plant Medicine by Richo Cech pages 81 – 86 (First part of Chapter 10)

The Herbal Medicine-Maker’s Handbook by James Green Chapter 17: Oil Infusion pages 193 – 200 (click to see online…3 pages are missing from this version but you can see most of this chapter).

Herbal oils are easy to make and easy to use. They are a great ‘starter remedy’ for kids to learn how to make.

Have you made herbal oils with your kids? What kinds did you make and what did you use them for?

Herbal Blessings,

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Giveaway Monday – Black Pepper Package from Mountain Rose Herbs

Posted in Uncategorized on November 16th, 2015 by KristineBrown — 23 Comments

***THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED. CONGRATULATIONS TO COMMENT #9, RACHEL, SHE IS THE WINNER!***

mrh-logo

This week’s theme is Black Pepper, our herb for November!

4 oz Black Peppercorn

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4 oz Long Pepper

long_pepper

1 bottle Rainbow Pepper

rainbow_pepper

This collection of Black Pepper products will give you plenty for learning about Black Pepper over the next month.

Mountain Rose Herbs is a certified organic processor through Oregon Tilth which is fully accredited with the USDA National Organic Program. Since 1987 they have continuously worked for the advancement of sustainable organic agriculture and state they will continue this lifelong passion into the future. They wholeheartedly recommend discovering the joys to be found in organic food products and the best place to start is right here at Mountain Rose Herbs. From the herbs they offer, to the teas they process and the oils they have distilled.

M0untain Rose also has a great YouTube Channel which offers an amazing amount of tutorials and educational videos, many created by John Gallagher and Rosalee de la Foret of Learningherbs.com.

You can also follow them on their Blog for more information and great Giveaway offers!

Love Mountain Rose Herbs? You can show your support by ‘liking’ them on Facebook. Tell them Herbal Roots zine sent you!

Want a chance to win this awesome package from Mountain Rose Herbs? Leave a comment, telling us if you’ve ever worked with Black Pepper before. For more chances to win, leave a separate comment every time you do one of the following:

-if you’re a kid, tell me how old you are and what your favorite Herbal Roots zine activities are

-Check out MRH’s website and tell me some of your favorite things

-Blog about it (leave reference link)

-Follow Mountain Rose Herbs and Herbal Roots zine on Pinterest and pin this giveaway with hashtags #mountainroseherbs #giveawaymonday #herbalrootszine (list your pinterest name in comments so we can find you)

-Become a follower of Mountain Rose Herbs and Herbal Roots zine on Twitter and tweet this giveaway with hashtags #mountainroseherbs #giveawaymonday #herbalrootszine (list your twitter ID in comments so we can find you)

-Follow Mountain Rose Herbs and  Herbal Roots zine on Instagram and share this giveaway with hashtag #giveawaymondayhrz  and tag @herbalrootszine (list your Instagram name in comments so we can find you)

-Sign up for the Herbal Roots zine monthly newsletter (and receive an issue for free!)

Sign ups end on and I’ll draw the winner on Monday, November 23, 2015. Thanks for entering and good luck!

How you can follow your passions with your kids in tow

Posted in Uncategorized on November 7th, 2015 by KristineBrown — Be the first to comment!
One of my childhood horses, "Spooky".

One of my childhood horses, “Spooky”.

When I was a kid, I wanted to be a zoologist or a graphic designer or a truck driver. My passions were animals, art and travel. I loved to be outside with my cats and my horse, playing in the woods, concocting meals from foraged plants, reading books while curled up in a tree, my imagination opening the world around me. And while I didn’t “become” any of those early aspirations, I did follow my passion. As I grew up my passions changed a bit but always travel, animals and art were there, along with the outdoors.

The one and only oil painting I ever painted in my senior year of high school.

The one and only oil painting I ever painted, done in my senior year of high school.

With the birth of my first child, I started seeking more natural ways of living for his sake. Those natural ways led me to learn about using the plants for health and medicine which led to another passion, herbalism.

Being in the midwest and finding myself single again with two kids in tow, I didn’t have the option of traveling around or moving to find an herbalist to study with. The internet was not like it is today, dial-up was tediously slow. The library had limited options for system book loans and their selection of herbal books was non-existent. The only option that I found was Rosemary Gladstar’s correspondence course and I jumped on that whole heartedly. It was a great place to get started learning about herbs.

My first born child, who prompted me to start living a more natural lifestyle.

My first born child, who prompted me to start living a more natural lifestyle.

Today, it is easier for moms to get ahold of herbal materials to study. Library loan systems rock and the internet supplies lots of great choices. Herb books are a dime a dozen. Learning herbalism is easier than it ever has been. But it can also be confusing. So many choices to choose from!

One of the number one questions I am asked is how parents can take the next step in learning. Herbal Roots zine is a great first step for teaching about the herbs, but how can you take those herbs and apply them? If herbs aren’t like pharmaceuticals, take this herb for that ailment, then how do we know how to match them correctly? It can be overwhelming!

The inspiration behind Herbal Roots zine.

The inspiration behind Herbal Roots zine, my youngest two whom I have homeschooled since day one.

After studying herbs for 10 years, I learned there is more than just knowing the herbs. You have to know the people too. And how to match them up, so they can form a partnership in healing. And slowly, over the next 10 years, I began to learn that, through conversations with other herbalists, more studying, more reading, more conferences, more, more, more

Boy, would I have been happy if I’d been able to take Rosalee’s course Taste of Herbs 10 years ago! She makes it so easy to understand this important piece of the puzzle.

If you are a parent and you are ready to take that next step, I encourage you to check out her videos to see how easy it can be to learn this important next step. Not only are they great for adults but I feel the course is easy enough that older children will also benefit from this knowledge.

Sadly, this course, while it is a ‘work at your own pace’ course, closes enrollment tonight at midnight. It’s been 2 years since they last offered this course and it will probably be another 2 years before they offer it again.

This course is created by John Gallagher and Rosalee de la Foret of HerbMentor.com. And as a bonus, they are giving anyone who enrolls a FREE one year membership to HerbMentor.com, a really cool website that has been super helpful for folks interested in herbs and herbalism. You won’t see this membership offer listed in the Taste of Herbs page but you will get the information upon registration.

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If you are wanting to take that next step, for yourself, or maybe even with your kids, I urge you to check out Taste of Herbs to see what it’s all about, download the free “herbal compass” and recipe ebook (who knew chocolate cake could be good for you and medicinal too?!) and take that important next step on your herbal journey. Your passion will thank you!

P.S. Taste of Herbs closes tonight for registration but you can follow the course at your own pace. And if you watch the videos but still have more questions, John and Rosalee are doing a live Q&A call today at 1pm PACIFIC TIME  (2pm Mountain, 3pm Central, 4pm Eastern). The details are on their webpage.

[Herbal Rootlets]: No. 62 – The Benefits of Black Pepper and the Bitter Truth About Herbs

Posted in Uncategorized on November 4th, 2015 by KristineBrown — 1 Comment so far

the benefits of black pepper

Foolish things:
A blacksmith who never touches horses, a musician with only music paper, a physician who sees no patients, a theoretical ballet dancer, a pharmacist reduced to counting pills, an herbalist who gathers no plants.

― Michael Moore, Southwest School of Botanical Medicine

Piper nigrum vine and unripe fruits By J.M.Garg (Own work) GFDL, via Wikimedia Commons

Piper nigrum vine and unripe fruits by J.M.Garg (Own work) GFDL, via Wikimedia Commons

You’re probably familiar with Black Pepper as a popular seasoning for food but did you know that Black Pepper is actually a great medicinal herb as well? Like many of our culinary herbs, Black Pepper is an important herb that has been used far back in history for medicine.

Black Pepper is a tropical plant in the Piperaceae family, known botanically as Piper nigrum. Peppercorns were once used as a form of currency when exotic trades were hard to come by. Today, Black Pepper can be purchased rather cheaply and is a staple in just about every household. Ancient Egyptians used Black Pepper in their mummification process! Piper longum, or Long Pepper, is closely related to Black Pepper and is used as well, especially in Ayurvedic medicine.

Have you ever seen a mixed jar of peppercorns? Black, white, and green, they all come from the same plant. The color is determined by the time of harvest and the process method. Black peppercorns, the most commonly used, are harvested before they are ripe, boiled and then dried in the sun. The next most common is the white, they are harvested when the berries are fully ripe and then the outer skin is removed. Green peppercorns are harvested before they are ripe and then preserved through freeze drying, brining or in vinegar and served in pickle form. When dried, they do not last long. Pink peppercorns, though often combined with black and white, are not actually a true pepper, they are harvested from the Brazilian Pepper Tree, Schinus terebinthifolia, and have a mild pepper taste.

Close up of Piper nigrum vine and unripe fruits by K Hari Krishnan (Own work) CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Close up of Piper nigrum vine and unripe fruits
by K Hari Krishnan (Own work) CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Ready for a fun Black Pepper experiment? Lets see what he tastes like! If you happen to have the various colored peppercorns, try this with each of them and compare their tastes. Get a peppercorn from the pepper grinder. If you only have ground Black Pepper, that will work too, though it won’t be as potent. Put the Black Peppercorn between your front teeth and crack it open. What do you notice? It’s probably very warming on your tongue! Don’t spit it out yet, keep chewing with your front teeth and notice the energetics. It has a sharp taste, very pungent. When that hits the back of your throat, do you notice the acrid taste? Acrid grips at your throat. If you have a cold when you try this experiment, you may start coughing, and bringing up a lot of phlegm. We’ll talk about this action later. One final thing to note, does he seem to dry out your mouth? Moisten it? Or does it seem to be neutral? I find Black Pepper to be warming, pungent, acrid and neutral to mildly drying. OK, go ahead and spit it out now!

Black Pepper’s main constituent is the alkaloid piperine. Piperine contributes an important role in the use of Black Pepper by making the food and herbs we consume with him more bioavailable. Piperine does many other things as well, such as offering pain relief, increasing our brain’s production of serotonin, increases our adrenal glands’ production of epinephrine, decreases stomach ulcers, increases the pancreas’ production of digestive enzymes, reduces inflammation when caused by irritation and allergies and relieves asthma symptoms. Black Pepper also contains volatile oils and oleoresin, which are often used in perfumery. Other constituents include chavicine, an isomer of piperine, coumaperine, and piperidine. Black Pepper can render astringents inert so caution should be used when taking Black Pepper with other herbs for their astringent properties.

Nutritionally, Black Pepper contains several vitamins and minerals: choline, thiamin (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pyridoxine (B6), folic acid (B9), vitamins A, C, E and K as well as calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and zinc. He also contains carbohydrates, protein, fat and fiber.

Medicinally, Black Pepper is considered to be analgesic, antibacterial, anticonvulsant, antidiarrheal, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antimutagenic, antioxidant, antipyretic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, aromatic, carminative, diaphoretic, expectorant, hepatoprotective, immunostimulant, rubefacient, stimulant and vasodilator. Let’s take a look at what we can do with Black Pepper…

Piper longum, a close relative of P. nigrum  I, GFDL, via Wikimedia Commons

Piper longum, a close relative of P. nigrum by I, GFDL, via Wikimedia Commons

As an expectorant and stimulant, Black Pepper is great to get mucus flowing when it is  thick and stuck. If you have a hot, irritated, dry cough, it’s best to stay away from Black Pepper as he will only make the condition more hot and dry. When congestion is present, Black Pepper helps to stimulate and clear it away.

Black Pepper is helpful as a stimulating diaphoretic for colds and influenza, especially when there are fevers with cold chills, raising the body’s temperature to help reduce fever through sweating. Asthma sufferers may benefit from Black Pepper’s actions as well.

Like Cayenne, Black Pepper’s rubefacient action is stimulating to the extremities, making him useful for cold hands and feet.

Black Pepper is best known for his use as a carminative and all things digestive. He stimulates the appetite, improves digestion and eases digestive disorders including indigestion, diarrhea and flatulence while at the same time is a gentle laxative, stimulating bowel movements when constipated. Traditionally, Black Pepper was used to treat cholera.

For those dealing with anxiety, Black Pepper can be helpful in reducing anxiety. Chewing a peppercorn, taking a whiff of some essential oil or having a cup of spicy chai with Black Pepper in it can all assist with anxiety.

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Piper nigrum, ready to be ground

Research has shown that Black Pepper’s constituent piperine has been effective in improving the bioavailability of substances in our foods such as beta carotene, pyridoxine (B6), selenium and amino acids. The bioavailability of Turmeric, Goldenseal and Juniper are also increased when combined with Black Pepper. Black Pepper will also increase the bioavailability of many pharmaceutical drugs as well so use with caution and consult a healthcare provider before using medicinal doses if you are on medications.

As an anti-inflammatory and analgesic, Black Pepper has been found helpful for reducing pain and inflammation from arthritis. Black Pepper oil and peppercorns have been used to help ease the pain of a toothache.

Black Pepper shows promise with antimutagenic actions in suppressing cancerous tumors.

Large doses of Black Pepper can cause gastric reflux problems to increase. Black Pepper is also considered a mild contraceptive, interfering with egg implantation when taken long term in large doses as well as decreasing fertilization in men and decreasing testosterone.

With all that Black Pepper has to offer, it’s kind of hard to refuse adding him to your meal!

nov-15-black-pepper

Want to learn more about using Black Pepper medicinally? Check out this month’s issue of Herbal Roots zine, Benevolent Black Pepper, on sale through the end of November for only $3.99.

BitterTruth

I have some cool news if you want to know how to match the right herb to the right person…

This Thursday night, LearningHerbs and Mountain Rose Herbs are presenting a free webinar called “The Bitter Truth About Herbs”.

In this webinar Rosalee de la Forêt and John Gallagher will…

* show you how TASTE helps you know exactly which herbs to use

* demystify herbal energetics into a PRACTICAL system you can put to use immediately

* explain how the bitter taste reduces anxiety, stimulates digestion, balances blood sugar, and much more

Simply register here.

You’ll be able to ask questions on the webinar and Rosalee and John won’t hang up until they drop! :-)

They are well known for their epic webinars…and live giveaways & surprises.

It’s happening tomorrow night, Thursday, November 5, so go check it out now.

[Herbal Rootlets]: No. 61 – The next step in teaching your kids about herbs

Posted in Uncategorized on October 28th, 2015 by KristineBrown — Be the first to comment!

Free-PDFs

We are in the midst of the sixth mass extinction, with plant species disappearing at alarming rates. We need botanists! We need young people to embrace the wonders of plant life and to be ambassadors for the ancient beings that make life possible on this planet we call home.”

― Susan Leopold

It has been awhile since I have had a moment to compose a newsletter for all my wonderful subscribers and I apologize. I am gearing up to get back into the swing of sending out weekly newsletters full of great tips and ideas for working with herbs and kids, please bear with me. I appreciate your patience.

For all my new subscribers, welcome to the list! I have lots of great back issues of this newsletter and you can access them all on my website here.

Many of you have been with me since day one (thank you so much for your years of support) and while Herbal Roots zine is great for your kids, you may wonder what is the next step for YOU. Or perhaps you have teenagers who may still love Herbal Roots zine but are ready for that next step.

Today’s newsletter is for you, and them!

Taste-of-Herbs-Logo-495x278

Earlier this year, I discussed teaching kids about the tissue states and tastes of herbs. They are a foundational building block of taking herbal learning to the next step. Herbalism is more than just herbs, it’s knowing people and knowing which herbs to match them with. And while Herbal Roots zine does a great job of teaching kids (and adults) all about herbs and their energetics, we have not been able to take the next step in teaching how to match the herbs to people (so little time, so much information…).

One thing in this life’s calling that I am grateful for is community. And connections. And teachers. And knowing many herbalists who have many walks in life, all within the herbal community that I am grateful to be a part of. Which leads me to the point of today’s newsletter, how to take this knowledge on step further.

My good friends Rosalee and John have put together the next step in a really awesome way. While the course is too advanced for most children, I feel that teens who have studied herbs and adults who have a basic knowledge will really appreciate what they have created. This course is a great learning tool to take your herbal knowledge to the next step.

Vending machine for the sale of drinks. Vector drawing for your design and advertisements

Vending machine for the sale of drinks. Vector drawing for your design and advertisements

Check out the video they’ve posted today and you’ll see what I mean. They also have lots of great free handouts to download that help you to take the next step. Honestly, I love the Herbal Compass that Rosalee has created and I keep a copy on my desk for quick reference. It’s an herbal cheat sheet to make using herbs easy peasy, as Jamie Oliver would say.

Next week I’ll be diving back into great ideas for teaching the younger crowd. If you have a question or topic you’d like me to talk about in a future newsletter, please drop me a line at info@herbalrootszine.com.

 ​​Herbal Blessings,

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[Herbal Rootlets]: No. 60 – Ahh-aah-CHO! Ragweed to the Rescue?!

Posted in Uncategorized on September 5th, 2015 by KristineBrown — 2 Comments

Aah-aah-CHO! Ragweed to the Rescue?!

The Environmental Protection Agency now warns us that indoor air pollution is the nation’s number one environmental threat to health- and it’s from two to ten times worse than outdoor air pollution. A child indoors is more susceptible to spore of toxic molds growing under that plush carpet; or bacteria or allergens carried by household vermin; or carbon monoxide, radon and lead dust. The allergen level of newer, sealed buildings can be as much as two hundred times greater than that of older structures.

― Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder

As I sit here to write this newsletter, my writing is interrupted in a volley of sneezes. Ahhh, Ragweed has struck at last! In the years past, this time of year was a time of misery for me on a daily basis for weeks at a time. Since working with herbs to treat my seasonal allergies, I now generally only suffer one or two days for the entire season. Blessed herbs!

As always, I attack with a multi-pronged approach. I drink Nettles infusions several times a week throughout the year. In the spring, when Ragweed sprouts out of the ground, I start adding a leaf to my daily tea, increasing the dosage as the leaf size increases. And when an episode happens, I take a few doses of Ragweed extract and the spell is over by the end of the day. This month’s issue, Redeeming Ragweed, is about how our foe, Ragweed, can be turned into our ally. The following is an excerpt from this month’s issue…

Ambrosia artemisifolia & A. trifida growing side by side.

Ambrosia artemisifolia & A. trifida growing side by side.

Sneaky Ragweed, shyly blooming in the autumn, has a tiny green flower that is not visible without closely searching the plants upper stalk to find it. Goldenrod generally gets the blame for the allergies that are caused this time of year, unfairly so as Goldenrod is insect pollinated while Ragweed, blooming at the same time, is wind pollinated, freely sharing his pollen with anyone within sneezing distance.

Interestingly enough, the plant that causes much misery (he is the number two cause of allergens, following closely behind the number one spot held by mold), can also be the cure. Like cures like, as homeopathy suggests, and Ragweed is no exception. I prefer to add small amounts of leaf to my morning teas throughout the season, increasing the size of the leaf as the plant grows. In doing so, my body has become acclimated to the Ragweed and autumn is no longer dreaded. Similarly, the tincture can be taken over the year or taken during an acute episode to relieve the symptoms as well. More on this later.

Ambrosia trifida seedling

Ambrosia trifida seedling

Common Ragweed, Ambrosia artemisiifolia, removes lead out of the ground more efficiently than any other plant, making him a good crop for cleaning lead toxins from the soil.

Ambrosia artemisifolia seedling

Ambrosia artemisifolia seedling

Ragweed is often called Ragwort, the name of another plant that contains toxic pyrrolizidine alkaloids, Jacobaea vulgaris, syn. Senecio jacobaea, which is also called Ragweed. Pyrrolizidine alkaloids are toxic to our livers, as well as animals which may consume the plant. This is a great example why it’s important to learn the botanical names of plants!

Ambrosia artemisifolia leaf

Ambrosia artemisifolia leaf

Historically, the Native Americans grew fields of Ragweed. Were they crazy? It would seem so but interestingly enough, the seeds (and leaves) of Ragweed have a great amount of nutrition to be had. The seed, or grain, contains 47% crude protein and 38% crude fat according to Green Deane. Given the botanical name of “Ambrosia” or “food of the Gods”, it seems likely that Ragweed was at one time considered a staple of their diet and documented by white man who later named it accordingly. Ragweed also contains calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, molybdenum, potassium, phosphorus, sodium, sulfur and zinc. He most likely contains vitamins but no studies could be found with that information.

Ambrosia trifida leaf

Ambrosia trifida leaf

Ragweed contains a good many constituents including volatile oils, quercetin and bitter alkaloids.

If you have Ragweed growing in your yard or garden, pick a leaf to try this experiment. Chew a bit of the leaf and notice what you taste. Is the leaf bitter? How does it make your mouth feel? A bit dry? Does it seem to warm it up or cool it down? Most agree that Ragweed is bitter, drying and cooling.

Ambrosia trifida male flowers

Ambrosia trifida male flowers – there’s a lot of sneezing power in that pollen!

Medicinally, Ragweed is antibacterial, antiphlogistic, antiseptic, antiviral, astringent, circulatory stimulant, febrifuge, hemostatic, kidney tonic, stimulant, styptic and tonic. Let’s take a look at what this means…

Ambrosia trifida male flowers on top, female flower at the base.

Ambrosia trifida male flowers on top, female flower at the base in the leaf cluster.

If you’ve ever had an allergic reaction to Ragweed, you won’t forget it: itchy eyes, nose and throat, sneezing, runny nose, eyes bloodshot; a whiff of the pollen is enough to make many people miserable. It is possible to build up a tolerance to the plant, by taking small doses of it throughout the year. It’s generally best to start as soon as the plant emerges from the ground, building up the amount taken as the seasons progress. Likewise, an extract or homeopathic dilution can also be taken to help nip the reaction in the bud. Ragweed is also helpful for rhinitis, or a stuffy nose, as well as sinusitis and ear infections caused by allergic rhinitis (seasonal allergies). Herbalist jim mcdonald uses Ragweed similarly to treat tissues that are swollen, inflamed and leaking, along with Goldenrod, Yarrow and Ox Eye Daisies. As an antiphlogistic, Ragweed helps to reduce inflammation of tissues and membranes, especially those associated with the sinuses.

Ambrosia trifida male flowers, can you see the star patterns?

Ambrosia trifida male flowers, can you see the star patterns?

Ragweed can also help to reduce fevers associated with colds and infections. As an added benefit, he is antibacterial and antiviral, helping to ward off the colds and infections at the same time.

As a styptic and hemostatic, Ragweed helps bleeding to stop. Chewed leaves can be applied as a poultice on a cut or nosebleed, stopping bleeding fast. Powdered Ragweed is useful for this as well and easier to keep on hand for use any time of year. Combined with his astringent actions, Ragweed is helpful for treating hemorrhoids too.

Ambrosia trifida

Ambrosia trifida – Giant Ragweed

Herbalist Tommie Bass spoke of other folk herbalists using Ragweed for treating kidney problems though he never used it himself. Ragweed has a tonic effect on the kidneys, and has been historically documented as such. William Cook, in his book The Physic-Medical Dispensatory: A Treatise on Therapeutics, Materia Medica, and Pharmacy, written in 1869 wrote: “a use of a strong devotion influences the kidneys considerably, sustains the tone of the stomach, and slowly elevates the circulation”.

Ragweed is very drying and astringent, making him a good herb to use for treating diarrhea, especially crampy diarrhea and dysentery. This same drying action can help to reduce the amount of saliva in the mouth as well for those who have an overabundance of saliva.

Want to learn more about Ragweed and his uses? Check out this month’s issue of Herbal Roots zine, on sale through the end of the month.

Giveaway Monday – Motherwort Issue of HRz

Posted in Uncategorized on July 27th, 2015 by KristineBrown — 14 Comments

***Congratulations to this week’s winners: Mark Egelston, Nancy Estes and Cindy!***jul2015-motherwort

This week we are giving away a copy of the July issue of Herbal Roots zine, Marvelous Motherwort to 3 lucky people!

Motherwort is one of my top 10 herbs. We all could use a little Motherwort in our lives at one time or another. While Motherwort is often considered an herb for women, Motherwort is beneficial for everyone. Not only is she wonderful for the reproductive system, she is also wonderful for treating anxiety and nervous conditions as well as treating many problems with the heart, both physically and emotionally.

Marvelous Motherwort Table of Contents:

Note to Parents
Supply List
Calendar
Herb Spirit
All About Motherwort
Herbal Glossary
Scramble, Search and More: Word Search, Circle the Energetics, List the Vitamins and Minerals,  Word Search, Word Scramble, Multiple Choice
Herbal Botany
Herbal Lore:
Songs and Poems: If You’re Cranky and You Know It, Motherwort
Herbal Recipes: Motherwort Extract, Motherwort Tea, Happy Heart Tea, Motherwort Oil, Motherwort Vinegar, Motherwort Flower Essence, Ginger Motherwort Chicken
Coloring Page
Herbal Crafts: Pressing/rubbing/drawing of Motherwort, Motherwort Pendant
Herbal Jokes and Puns
Maze: Can you find your way through the Motherwort leaf?
Journal: Write your thoughts, medicine making notes and other information about your month with Motherwort
Crossword Puzzle
Resources

52 pages from Cover to Cover

You can become a fan of Herbal Roots zine on Facebook if you would like to do so.

If you’d like a chance to win this month’s issue, leave a comment below, telling us who this issue would benefit (yourself, your kids, your grandkids, etc). For more chances to win, you can leave a separate comment each time you advertise this giveaway by:

-Kids, you get 1 extra point for being a kid! Leave a comment telling me how old you are and what you like best about Herbal Roots zine.

-blogging about it

-tell us which herb you’re most excited to be learning about this year with Herbal Roots zine

-telling me your favorite section(s) of Herbal Roots zine

-share this giveaway on your Facebook page

-follow Herbal Roots on Pinterest and pin this giveaway with hashtags  #giveawaymonday #herbalrootszine (list your Pinterest name in comments so we can find you)

-follow Herbal Roots on Instagram and pin this giveaway with hashtags #giveawaymonday #herbalrootszine (list your Instagram name in comments so we can find you)

-follow Herbal Roots on Twitter and tweet this giveaway with hashtags #giveawaymonday #herbalrootszine (list your Twitter name in comments so we can find you)

Sign ups end and I’ll announce the winner on Monday, August 3, 2015. Good luck!