Monday, March 30, 2020

COVID-19 part 2





   
     This post may be a bit of a departure from my normal style, but I figured that unusual times call for unusual postings. With all the questions that have been coming my way, and all the people who have been asking my advice, I decided to gather together a good bit of my research and thoughts here. I apologize as this may be a bit long-winded. With that in mind, I’ve broken things up into two separate posts. This is the second post in this series. The first post covered what this Coronavirus is and the symptoms. This post will be about prevention and some possible herbal support.

     If you haven’t read the previous post, you can find it here. It goes into more detail about the virus itself.

     Though I have a general disclaimer on this blog, I just want to reiterate that I am not a medical doctor. I do not work in the medical field. I am an herbalist and have a background in nutrition, not infectious disease. If you feel you may have become infected, please call your medical service provider to ask for further advice.

     Once again for those in the back...If you are sick and think you may be infected, call your doctor for advice and testing.

     Now, with that out of the way, lets move on to something that may be of use.

What can we do to prevent infection?





     This virus is new to our species. Unfortunately this means that our immune systems are confused by it. So what can we do to try and perk up our immunity and make it a little bit more ready to fight back?

Don’t over do it on the quarantine cocktails! 

     Excessive alcohol use can dampen general immune function. While yes, alcohol can help to kill the virus, we’re not talking about sanitizing our hands here. When you consume alcohol it slows down your responses, including immune responses. That isn’t saying that having a glass of red wine at night is a bad idea, it may help you get better sleep. Maybe just don’t consume the whole bottle out of boredom.

Take it easy on those quarantine snacks!

     Sugar is not the best of things for your body in the best of times. It, like alcohol, when consumed in excess, can reduce immune function. So maybe limit yourself to 1 Little Debbie snack a day. Maybe stock up on fruit instead. After all, you’re home right now, so why not go for that home made smoothie?

Cut out the smoking (not just tobacco people).

     This virus attacks the lungs. Smoking, in general, weakens them. We are all aware of how dangerous tobacco can be for our lungs, but most of us aren’t aware that cannabis can be almost as bad when smoked in excess (not that it isn’t a great medicinal). So while you’re sitting on the couch, maybe only hit that joint a little bit (or switch to edibles for the time being) and don’t over indulge..

We are all aware of this next tip, but just to make sure… WASH YOUR HANDS!

     This virus can survive on a number of surfaces for hours. You never know what you’ll pick up on your supply runs. Washing your hands can go a long way.

Eat right, drink often, get some sunlight, and get some rest

     Vitamins D and C, as well as Zinc are great for improving immune function. Make sure you are getting enough of these valuable vitamins and minerals either from your food, or from sunlight. Staying hydrated is also super important. When we are dehydrated, our immune function is compromised. Drinking enough water can help you stay healthy.

Herbs and other recommendations

     Drinking herbal teas is a great way to stay hydrated. So why not choose some herbs that boost your immune system and that tone your respiratory system.  Chai is a great blend of herbs, all of which help to boost immunity and most of which help to improve the respiratory system as well. Also consider using peppermint, thyme, mullein, licorice, marshmallow, chamomile, and lavender. You can also drink teas made from adaptogens, such as tulsi, to help you manage the stress you’re experiencing right now. Also, since you are likely eating more home-cooked meals right now, consider adding some extra spices to it. Culinary spices such as thyme, oregano, garlic, onion, ginger, cinnamon, and turmeric (as well as blends such as herbs de province or garam masala) can be great immune boosters.

Let’s talk Hand Sanitizers for a moment.

     In general, hand sanitizers are antibacterial and not specifically antiviral. Not to say that it’s not good practice to use them, just that they may not be as effective as most people believe. Granted, the viral envelope (the cell walls of the virus cells) of COVID-19 are susceptible to alcohol, you have to have a minimum of 60% alcohol in your sanitizer for it to be effective at all. Studies have shown that this virus is actually more susceptible to regular soap and thymol. Thymol is the active chemical found in the herbs Thyme and Oregano, and is extracted in the process of making essential oils. If you’re going to make your own soap and/or hand sanitizer, consider adding in a few drops of Thyme or Oregano essential oils to make it more effective. The EPA, FDA, and CDC all recommend that any homemade hand sanitizer be made with high proof alcohol (rubbing alcohol or everclear), and if you want to include essential oils, you want to use one that has a minimum of 0.25% thymol. Essential oil of thyme has around 30% thymol while essential oil of oregano has about 5-10%, so you may have to use more of that if you choose to use oregano. Also, concentrations of thymol can vary from batch to batch, Benchmark Thyme attempts to standardize these concentrations.


What herbs and preparations should you take if you show symptoms?





     Once again, I am not a medical doctor. If you believe you are infected, please call your doctor for advice and testing.

     The following recommendations are all things I might do before calling my doctor, but once I talk to my doctor I recommend following all of his/her instructions and leaving off these herbs if that is what they recommend. If you follow these recommendations, make sure you tell your doctor about them so that they are aware of what is going on.

Bidens

     There are 230 to 240 known Bidens species, the two most commonly found in Florida are B. alba and B. pilosa. Bidens is best known as a weed, but it’s one of my favorite herbs. Not only is it super nutritious, and tasty, it’s also my go-to herb for dry coughs. That’s why I immediately think of Bidens when I’m thinking about COVID-19. It’s most distinct symptom is a dry cough. It’s also an excellent mucus membrane tonic as it not only removes pain, but also heals the tissue. Which is another point in it’s favor for use against this virus. It is also a great anti-malarial herb. Granted, malaria is not a virus, but it does have a lot of the same symptoms. Also, a few of the most promising medications that seem to have an effect on the Coronavirus are malaria medications, so there may be another connection.
     When I take Bidens for any length of time I try to use it as a tincture (alcohol), with a small amount of black pepper to help act as a catalyst. I use a 1:5 ratio (dry herb/menstruum) using 9 parts Bidens and 1 part Black Pepper (if you have gastro-intestinal issues you might want to leave out the pepper and just use bidens). For dosage, I recommend starting with 2 ml, 3 times a day when you start showing symptoms.
     Cautions and warnings: Bidens is generally considered safe, however this herb does effect your blood pressure and blood sugar. So use caution if you have issues with either.

Tulsi

     Ocimum tenuiflorum, or Tulsi is another herb I think about in regards to this illness. However, this herb is not so much for the virus as it is to help mitigate the stress you are under. I recommend this herb to absolutely everyone. It tastes great and helps us manage our stress so much better. Just holding a warm cup of Tusli tea can help calm me down on a high-stress day. However, it also has benefits that may work specifically against COVID-19. Tulsi is a respiratory herb, helping to relieve symptoms of typical colds and flu. It also helps to reduce fevers. All around it’s a great herb for Coronavirus.
     I recommend drinking tulsi tea often (1-2 tsp of dry herb in a coffee mug full of hot water, allow to steep, covered, for 20+ minutes). At least 1 cup an hour, warm is best but not 100% necessary.
     Cautions and warnings: This herb is generally considered safe, however this herb does effect your blood pressure and blood sugar. So use caution if you have issues with either.

Marshmallow

     No, not the candy. Althaea officinalis, commonly known as Marshmallow, is one of my favorite demulcents. Demulcents help to moisten and soothe dry, inflamed tissues. COVID-19 is characterized by starting off with a dry cough. This leads me to think that a demulcent may be a great herb. This herb is also specifically great for dry cough.
     I recommend preparing a cold, overnight infusion (put 1 oz of marshmallow root in a quart of cold water and allow to sit, at room temperature, 8 hours or overnight) with this herb and drinking the infusion throughout the day and as needed for cough. You can also make a cough syrup using marshmallow root and raw honey.
     Cautions and warnings: Talk to your doctor if you’re taking other medications before starting marshmallow root, as it’s been found to interact with lithium and diabetes drugs. It can also coat the stomach and interfere with absorption of other medications.

Wormwood

     I recently read that some current studies have been showing that Artemisia annua, or Sweet Wormwood, may be effective against COVID-19. The only thing I can think is that it is also effective against malaria, so this may be a good herb to fight the symptoms, since COVID-19 and malaria do have some similar symptoms, including fever.
     I would recommend taking this as a tincture. 1:5 ratio (dry herb/menstruum), drop 10 drops into a glass of water and drink 3 times a day.
     Cautions and warnings: The FDA lists wormwood unsafe for internal use due to the toxicity of thujone oil. However, it’s considered to be safe when taken by mouth in the amounts commonly found in food and beverages, including bitters and vermouth, as long as these products are thujone-free. Using wormwood for longer than four weeks or at higher than recommended doses may lead to nausea, vomiting , restlessness, insomnia, vertigo, tremors and seizures.

Diaphoretic Herbs

     This classification of herbs includes a number of herbs that help to induce sweating. This generally helps to break fevers. Some diaphoretic herbs include Yarrow, Peppermint, Ginger, Fennel, and Chamomile. However I think I would, personally, choose a combination of Lavender and Catnip. Lavender (Lavandula augustifolia or Lavendula officinalis) will help reduce pain and inflammation as well as providing some much needed calm. It will also help you sleep and sleep is one of the best things you can do when your sick. Catnip (Nepeta cataria) has a long history of use in breaking fevers, but in addition, it is also great at gently easing muscle aches. Both of these herbs are also in the mint family, which is a family known for their use in respiratory conditions, which is another thing in their favor for use against Coronavirus.
    I would mix these herbs with your other preparations. For instance, I would put Lavender and Catnip in a tea with Tulsi.

Expectorants

     Expectorants help to open up the chest and expel the mucus that may collect in the lungs. Many of these are warming and spicy, such as ginger, fenugreek, thyme, and fennel. I mentioned above that this virus seems to be susceptible to thymol, which is found in the herb Thyme. Thyme and Ginger would be the two expectorants I would choose to fight against COVID-19. Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) will help to expel the mucus and hopefully fight the virus directly as well. Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is also a diaphoretic, so it is another dual purpose herb, helping to expel mucus and fight the accompanying fever.
     These herbs I would actually recommend to be added to broths (preferably bone broth). Not only would they improve the flavor of the broth, but the broth itself has healing properties. Also, the more liquids you can consume, the better, to keep you from becoming dehydrated. I would add 1 tsp of dried thyme to each bowl of broth, or 2 slices of fresh ginger. Allow the broth and herbs to steep for 20 minutes or more before consuming.

Lymphatic Herbs

     The lymphatic system is super important for immunity, so we should not neglect it in times of sickness. I recommend herbs such as Chickweed (Stellaria media), Polyporus (Polyporus umbellatus), and Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) are great herbs to help improve lymphatic function.
     I would honestly add at least one of these three to each of my preparations (except the marshmallow, I think that’s best on it’s own). Maybe throw some chickweed into my tulsi tea and make my broths with both of the mushrooms.

Hot Showers and Steams

     Roughly 1/3 of the people who are afflicted with COVID-19 are reporting sputum (thick mucus in the lungs) production. Steam helps to keep this mucus from drying out. Add a few drops of essential oils to help open up those airways and soothe the throat. I recommend Peppermint, Thyme, and/or Eucalyptus (avoid this one if you are prone to seizures) essential oils.



Don’t Neglect Your Recovery!


     Americans are so ready to go and get things done that they often neglect the importance of the recovery phase, post illness. The most important thing is to be gentle with yourself as you are still weak and feeling the effects of your illness.

Gentle Tonic Herbs

     Tonic herbs help improve your overall health. These are great herbs to call on during your recovery period. Look to herbs such as Astragalus (Astragalus propinquus) and Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) to help support your health during these times.

Lung Support

     Remember, this virus attacks the lungs. Your lungs will be weak for a while after your illness. Make sure to support them and help get them back to full health. Herbs that may be great for this include Mullein (Verbascum thapsu), Astragalus (Astragalus propinquus), Thyme (Thymus vulgaris), Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra), and Peppermint (Mentha piperita).




     This is where I will end this series. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them down below. Follow me on Facebook (Bat Lady Herbals) and Instagram (BatLadyHerbalist) for updates on my adventures in Nature. Find me on YouTube and check out my videos! I also have a few things up on Teespring, check it out! Also, if you like what I do and what to see more, Become a Patron!



Resources: 


Coronavirus Alternative Treatments, Can Traditional Chinese Herbs and Treatments Help?: Medicine Net: https://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=228775

COVID-19, One Herbalist’s Thoughts on the Coronapocylapse: Eclectic School of Herbal Medicine: https://www.eclecticschoolofherbalmedicine.com/covid-19/?fbclid=IwAR2chq5q82xmxIdCDGbtwE1I77_E1vQoPJOTDJEsQ041LSuSLjjYs3GC6W4

COVID-19, 5 Reasons to be Cautiously Hopeful: Medical News Today: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/covid-19-5-reasons-to-be-cautiously-hopeful

List of Personal Things You Can Do To Stay Well in a Time of COVID 19: Rupa Marya, MD: https://medium.com/@radiorupa/list-of-personal-things-you-can-do-to-stay-well-in-a-time-of-covid19-cd10ff0df106

Pantry Medicine for When The Plague is Upon Us: Wonder Botanica: http://wonderbotanica.com/newsletter-archive/pantry-medicine?fbclid=IwAR3Lgtv1Icdt7IdSm6z5Nj0rLwDCEKguQ-Cr8nMLzXPjDgWk8MGmNAIhNNk

Traditional Chinese Medicine & COVID-19:WVTF Virginia’s Public Radio:https://www.wvtf.org/post/traditional-chinese-medicine-covid-19#stream/0

The World Health Organization Backs Call to Avoid Ibuprofen for Coronavirus: The Jerusalem Post: https://www.jpost.com/HEALTH-SCIENCE/World-Health-Organization-backs-call-to-avoid-ibuprofen-for-coronavirus-621408?fbclid=IwAR1V4lFRjETb_hNgPVR6qmN2Rj0nN1KmSQxqTNCK3rNR9_OL4iud75eqdCM

Monday, March 23, 2020

COVID-19 part 1



   
     This post may be a bit of a departure from my normal style, but I figured that unusual times call for unusual postings. With all the questions that have been coming my way, and all the people who have been asking my advice, I decided to gather together a good bit of my research and thoughts here. I apologize as this may be a bit long-winded. With that in mind, I’ve broken things up into two separate posts. This post will cover what this Coronavirus is and the symptoms. My next post will be about prevention and some possible herbal support. If you want to skip forward, you can do that here.


What is COVID-19?


     Well, unless you’ve been living under a rock, or on another planet, everyone is aware that we are in the middle of a Global Pandemic. Most of us know, by now, that COVID-19 originated in China. Most of us are also aware that it is a virus that jumped from animal to human. There is a similarity between COVID-19 and two other virus strains found in animals, a 96% similarity between a virus from a horseshoe bat sample collected in Yunnan, and 90% similarity to a virus carried by pangolins. From this little bit of information, we can assume that it likely jumped to humans from bats, though it’s possible that it came from pangolins. Also, we know that a traditional soup found in China is made from bats, and that some viruses in the past have made the jump to humans via unsafe consumption of an infected animal (the SARS outbreak of 2002-2004 for example). Thus do I sadly admit that my favorite animal most likely was the culprit.

     According to the CDC, 15%-20% of people with COVID-19 develop a severe infection and require hospitalization. The CDC has done some number crunching and has estimated that between 2.4 million to 21 million people in the United States could require hospitalization. Most people will recover, with adequate medical treatment. However, a greater problem is that there are only about 925,000 staffed hospital beds, and less than 100,000 ICU beds, about half of which are already being used. The U.S. has 2.8 hospital beds per 1,000 people. That’s fewer than in Italy (3.2), China (4.3) and South Korea (12.3), all of which have had problems keeping up with the surge in hospitalizations from this pandemic.

     One of the scariest things about this virus is that infected people are most often asymptomatic for up to 14 days. However this is when the virus is most easily spread. Those who don’t know that they are infected are spreading COVID-19 to, at least, 2 other people before they develop symptoms. This can increase cases of infection exponentially, unless we limit contact with others. The other, super scary, thing about this virus is that it is slippery. The term ‘slippery’ is given to viruses who mutate quickly. Believe it or not, the CDC and WHO monitor diseases relatively well. Especially those that are likely to jump from animal to human, because those are the ones we are less likely to have a natural immunity to. When one of these is identified, they pay extra attention to it and keep track of when it does make those jumps. Usually it takes years and years of jumping from animal to human before the disease then jumps from human to human. COVID-19 took about 2 weeks.

     Who’s at risk? We all are at risk for infection, however most people will recover without any permanent damage. The people more likely to not be in that majority are the elderly, people with compromised immune systems, and those with chronic illness (diabetes, heart conditions, etc). Also, people who have weak lungs (asthmatics, smokers, etc) are at a higher risk for complications.

     I have heard this virus referred to as a “lung eater.” And while that’s not 100% accurate, it is a pretty good description. Deaths from COVID-19 typically stem from pneumonia. Most pneumonia is bacterial in origin and can be treated with antibiotics. This one, however, is viral. Antibiotics do not necessarily work on viral pneumonia. But how does it develop into pneumonia? The virus enters in through the airways. A microscopic view of the virus reveals spikes all around the cell walls. These spikes attach to the cilia found in the lungs and respiratory tract. The cilia usually work to keep the airways clear of mucus and dirt, allowing us to breathe easily and without irritation. COVID-19 attaches to the cilia and infects them. Causing them to become inflamed. This in turn irritates the nerves in the lining of the airway. They become so inflamed that just a speck of dust can stimulate a cough. If the infection goes past just the lining of the airway and goes to the gas exchange units, which are at the end of the air passages, it triggers another inflammatory response and our lungs begin pouring out inflammatory material into the air sacs that are at the bottom of our lungs. If this continues, it’ll cause those air sacs to become inflamed which then causes the lungs to fill up with inflammatory material which then becomes pneumonia. Another way that COVID-19 pneumonia is different from other pneumonia is that it tends to affect all the lungs, where the majority of pneumonia cases only affect parts of the lungs at a time.

     COVID-19 patients are often described as having flu-like symptoms. However, the symptoms are slightly different from the typical cold, flu, and/or allergy symptoms one might come across this time of year. Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, a dry cough, fatigue, shortness of breath, sputum production (thick mucus in the lungs), muscle or joint pain, sore throat, headache, chills, nausea or vomiting. How can you distinguish COVID-19 symptoms from the others? The cold and flu do not usually include shortness of breath or difficulty breathing. Allergies do not typically come with a fever.

     If you are coming down with a respiratory illness, remember that it isn’t necessarily COVID-19. There are plenty of other bugs around, particularly this time of year. If you do contract COVID-19, your symptoms will likely remain quite mild. Don’t panic and try to avoid heading to the emergency room unless your symptoms become severe. Feel free to call your health care practitioner of choice and ask them for advice.

     There is a silver lining. The majority of patients are recovering without any permanent damage to their lungs. Treatments are becoming more and more effective each and every day. And medical research is coming closer to a vaccine. There is also talk of other treatments. I know some European countries have been using a pneumonia vaccine on COVID-19 patients, helping to mitigate the worst of the effects. Some countries have been using remedies that worked on SARS, a related virus, and are having some measure of success with those. The most exciting news, however, comes from France where a malaria medication (chloroquine phosphate) had an 80% success rate in curing COVID-19 in a small trial. There has been a few negative issues regarding this treatment, predominantly with those who are using it to self medicate, without the supervision of trained medical personnel. However, it shows that this virus can be beat.

     Living in Florida, I have had the good fortune of not seeing a large number of people getting sick. However, our governor has taken amazing precautions. Florida is both a high-risk state and one that is not likely to fall victim to a huge outbreak. Humidity helps to slow the spread of COVID-19, and even though it is the dry season, and we’ve had even less rain than normal, we are known for being one of the more humid states. However, the vast majority of our population is over the age of 60 and at high risk. Social distancing, curfews, and bar closures should help reduce the chances that people will be infected which will help our hospitals stay on top of the spread of this virus.


     This is where I will pause, my next post will be on prevention and herbal support. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them down below. Follow me on Facebook (Bat Lady Herbals) and Instagram (BatLadyHerbalist) for updates on my adventures in Nature. Find me on YouTube and check out my videos! I also have a few things up on Teespring, check it out! Also, if you like what I do and what to see more, Become a Patron!


Resources: 


Coronavirus Alternative Treatments, Can Traditional Chinese Herbs and Treatments Help?: Medicine Net: https://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=228775

COVID-19, One Herbalist’s Thoughts on the Coronapocylapse: Eclectic School of Herbal Medicine: https://www.eclecticschoolofherbalmedicine.com/covid-19/?fbclid=IwAR2chq5q82xmxIdCDGbtwE1I77_E1vQoPJOTDJEsQ041LSuSLjjYs3GC6W4

COVID-19, 5 Reasons to be Cautiously Hopeful: Medical News Today: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/covid-19-5-reasons-to-be-cautiously-hopeful

List of Personal Things You Can Do To Stay Well in a Time of COVID 19: Rupa Marya, MD: https://medium.com/@radiorupa/list-of-personal-things-you-can-do-to-stay-well-in-a-time-of-covid19-cd10ff0df106

Pantry Medicine for When The Plague is Upon Us: Wonder Botanica: http://wonderbotanica.com/newsletter-archive/pantry-medicine?fbclid=IwAR3Lgtv1Icdt7IdSm6z5Nj0rLwDCEKguQ-Cr8nMLzXPjDgWk8MGmNAIhNNk

Traditional Chinese Medicine & COVID-19:WVTF Virginia’s Public Radio:https://www.wvtf.org/post/traditional-chinese-medicine-covid-19#stream/0

The World Health Organization Backs Call to Avoid Ibuprofen for Coronavirus: The Jerusalem Post: https://www.jpost.com/HEALTH-SCIENCE/World-Health-Organization-backs-call-to-avoid-ibuprofen-for-coronavirus-621408?fbclid=IwAR1V4lFRjETb_hNgPVR6qmN2Rj0nN1KmSQxqTNCK3rNR9_OL4iud75eqdCM

Monday, March 16, 2020

Oxalis






     There are a few plants that I grew up eating, only finding out later in life that they are also medicinal. This one is especially good for the Spring time, as it’s often mistaken for clover (I don’t really know how as the leaves and flowers appear completely different to me) and is also commonly referred to as Florida’s Shamrock. This plant also flowers around Easter every year, though here in Central Florida it’s almost always flowering.

     There are over 850 species in the family Oxalidaceae. This family consists of five genera of herbaceous plants, small shrubs, and trees, with the great majority of the species being in the genus Oxalis (wood sorrels). Members of this family typically have divided leaves, the leaflets showing "sleep movements", spreading open in light and closing in darkness. There are at least seven species in Florida, all edible, (three of them rare) and they have either pink or yellow blossoms. The seven more common species found in Florida are O. articulata, corniculata, debilis, latifolia, macrantha, triangularis and violacea. The rare ones are O. articulata, triangularis, and violacea, I recommend that you avoid wildcrafting and/or foraging those as the other four are readily available and interchangeably used. All parts are edible including the root bulb, which is succulent and sweet. Above ground it tastes quite lemony and can be used to make a drink similar to lemonade.


Check out this video from Eat The Weeds


Check out a companion video all about Oxalis!


 

Medicinal Uses:


Common Names- There are a number of species used world wide, some of the more commonly used common names for these species include: Common Yellow Woodsorrel, Creeping Lady’s Sorrel, Creeping Oxalis, Creeping Wood Sorrel, Fairy Bells, Indian Penny Wood, Indian Sorrel, Procumbent Yellow Sorrel, Shamrock, Sleeping Beauty, Sour Grass, Soursob, Tufted Yellow Wood Sorrel, Woodsorrel, Wood Sorrel

Scientific Name- Oxalis spp. There are over 500 species. Some of the more commonly used species include: O. acetosella, articulata, bushii, corniculata (previously known as stricta), debilis (previously known as corymbosa), latifolia, macrantha, pes-caprae, purpurea, regnellii, triangularis, tuberosa, and violacea. 

Edibility-  All parts are edible including the root bulb, which is succulent and sweet. The delicate leaves of this weed have a sour, citrus-like taste and is ideal for salads and for use as a garnish. However it wilts quickly and should be used soon after picking. The flowers are also edible. I am also partial to adding the leaves and flowers to my omelets, soups, and using it as a pot herb. Wood sorrel in particular should not be eaten in large quantities (we’re talking multiple pounds in one sitting...quite hard to accomplish, but possible) because of its high oxalic acid content, which can be poisonous in large amounts and has been linked to kidney stones. However, the quantity of oxalic acid will be reduced if the leaves are cooked. The dried plant can be used as a curdling agent for plant milks

Nutrition Information- The entire plant is edible and is rich source of Vitamin C, Vitamin A, and Potassium. The important phytochemical constituents isolated from the plant are flavonoids, tannins, phytosterols, phenol, glycosides, fatty acids, galacto-glycero lipid and volatile oils.

Summary of Actions- Anodyne, Antiscorbutic, Astringent, Diuretic, Emmenagogue, Expectorant, Febrifuge, Irritant, Refrigerant, Stomachic, Anti-inflammatory, Anxiolytic, Anticonvulsant, Antifungal, Antiulcer, Antinociceptive, Anticancer, Antidiabetic, Hepatoprotective, Hypolipidemic, Abortifacient, and Antimicrobial.

Energetics and Flavors- Sour, Tart, Cold, Moistening

Parts Used- Leaves, Flowers, Seeds, Immature Green Seed Pods, and Tubers

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)- Known as Cu Jiang Cao, Oxalis works on the Stomach, Bladder, and Lung Meridians. It clears Heat and supports Stomach Yin, which makes it useful for fevers, thirst, sore throat, cold sores, headache, and prevents scurvy. It also clears damp heat, which means it is good for sinusitis, congestion, headaches, diarrhea, dysentery, jaundice, kidney stones, gravel, and herpes. Oxalis also stops bleeding.

Ayurveda- Called Changeri in Ayurvedic Traditions, Oxalis is used for treating stomach and liver problems including abdominal tumors, piles, leprosy, and dysentery. It balances vata and kapha doshas. It’s sour in taste, and hot in potency, which aggravates pitta dosha.

Domestic and Other Traditional Uses- Red to brown, orange, and yellow dyes can be obtained from this plant. In Canada, it’s used as a weed for glasshouses. The juice of the leaves removes iron mould stains from linen

High in Vitamin C- Because of it’s high levels of Vitamin C, Oxalis is a traditional treatment for Scurvy, a disease that results from Vitamin C deficiency.

Fevers & Flu- It's cooling action appears to help reduce the discomfort of fevers when taken in a tea made at 1 ounce of herb to 1 pint of water.

Cardiovascular System- Useful as a general Cardio-tonic and blood cleanser. 

Skin & Wound Care- Externally, the leaves are crushed and applied locally to dispel boils and abscesses, they also have an astringent affect on wounds. The leaves also provide some benefits when made into an ointment for cuts, scrapes, rashes, and skin infections.

Digestive Issues- strengthen a weak stomach, produce an appetite, check vomiting, and remove obstructions of the viscera.

Mouth Sores & Ulcers- Taken as a gargle it also seems to have some effect on mouth sores or ulcers.

Cautions, Contraindications, and Warnings- This plant is high in Oxalic Acid, those prone to kidney stones, and those afflicted with gout, rheumatism, and hyperacidity may want to avoid using this herb medicinally.

Do Not Use With Metals- Do not cook sorrel in cast iron or aluminum cookware. The oxalic acid in the plant reacts with the metals to produce a metallic flavor.  When using aluminum, the acids in sorrel may allow potentially toxic quantities of aluminum ions to leak from the cookware.






     I only included a basic introduction to this amazing, often overlooked, plant. If you have any questions or comments please leave them below. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram or updates on my adventures in Nature. Find me on YouTube and check out my videos! I also have a few things up on Teespring, check it out! Also, if you like what I do and what to see more, Become a Patron!




Resources:


Acetosella, Wood Sorrel: Medicine Traditions: https://www.medicinetraditions.com/acetosella-wood-sorrel.html

Changeri (Oxalis corniculata): Planet Ayurveda: https://www.planetayurveda.com/library/changeri-oxalis-corniculata/

Edible Weeds that are Safe to Eat and How to Use Them: ABC Health & Wellbeing: https://www.abc.net.au/news/health/2016-05-12/edible-weeds-and-how-you-can-use-them/7406004

Florida’s Native Shamrocks: Florida Native Plant Society: http://fnpsblog.blogspot.com/2012/03/oxalis-corniculata-floridas-lucky.html

Flower Friday- Creeping Woodsorrel: Florida Wildflower Foundation: https://flawildflowers.org/flower-friday-oxalis-corniculata/

Garden Sorrel (Cu Jiang Cao): White Rabbit Institute of Healing: https://www.whiterabbitinstituteofhealing.com/herbs/garden-sorrel/

Important Medicinal Facts About Changeri (Oxalis corniculata): Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Scinces: http://ccras.nic.in/content/important-medicinal-facts-about-changeri-oxalis-corniculata-l

Medicinal Uses of Oxalis (Wood Sorrel): Gardens Ablaze: http://www.gardensablaze.com/HerbOxalisMed.htm

Oxalis: Atlas of Florida Plants: https://florida.plantatlas.usf.edu/Genus.aspx?id=876

Oxalis acetosella: Plants for a Future: https://pfaf.org/user/plant.aspx?latinname=Oxalis+acetosella

Oxalis corniculata: Always Ayurveda: https://www.alwaysayurveda.com/oxalis-corniculata/

Oxalis corniculata: Florida Native Plant Society: https://www.fnps.org/plants/plant/oxalis-corniculata

Oxalis corniculata: Plants for a Future: https://pfaf.org/user/plant.aspx?LatinName=Oxalis+corniculata

Oxalis corniculata: Useful Tropical Plants: http://tropical.theferns.info/viewtropical.php?id=Oxalis+corniculata

Oxalis- How to Drown Your Sorrels: Eat The Weeds: http://www.eattheweeds.com/oxalis-how-to-drown-your-sorrels/

Oxalis or Wood Sorrel: Julia’s Edible Weeds: http://www.juliasedibleweeds.com/general/oxalis-wood-sorrel/

Oxalis stricta: Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center: https://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=OXST

Sorrel, Wood: A Modern Herbal: https://botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/s/sorwoo68.html

Wood Sorrel: Natural Medicinal Herbs: http://www.naturalmedicinalherbs.net/herbs/o/oxalis-acetosella=wood-sorrel.php

Wood Sorrel: WebMD: https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-228/wood-sorrel

Wood Sorrel: Wild Edible: https://www.wildedible.com/wild-food-guide/wood-sorrel

Wood Sorrel: Wild Food UK: https://www.wildfooduk.com/edible-wild-plants/wood-sorrel/

Wood Sorrel- A Nutritious Edible Weed: Dengarden: https://dengarden.com/gardening/oxalis

Wood Sorrel (Cu Jiang Cao): White Rabbit Institute of Healing: https://www.whiterabbitinstituteofhealing.com/herbs/wood-sorrel/

Wood Sorrel- Oxalis stricta: Edible Wild Food: https://www.ediblewildfood.com/wood-sorrel.aspx

Yellow Sorrel: Natural Medicinal Herbs: http://www.naturalmedicinalherbs.net/herbs/o/oxalis-corniculata=yellow-sorrel.php





Monday, February 24, 2020

4 Thieves Vinegar






What Is Four Thieves Vinegar?: A vinegar based tincture of herbs thought to cure, treat, and/or prevent the Bubonic plague. In modern day, it’s used to boost the immune system, repel insects (including the fleas that spread the plague), and as a condiment.

A Little History: There are a number of different versions of the origin of this traditional remedy, but they all share the same basic points. I’ll summarize them here. When the Bubonic plague was sweeping through Europe, there arose a group of grave robbers and thieves that covered their bodies and doused their face masks in an herbal vinegar with strong antibacterial and antiviral properties in order to keep themselves from contracting the plague. Initially no one worried about the grave robbers and thieves who stole into the houses in the dark of moonless nights to rob victims of the Black Death as, the townspeople assumed, the plague would inevitably infect and kill the thieves, too. But it didn’t. The thieves continued to assail the homes and graves of the dead with impunity until they were finally caught in the middle of their act, tried, and set to be burned at the stake. Astonished by the thieves’ immunity and seemingly indifferent attitude toward the plague that devastated the community so severely, the judges offered the thieves a bargain: in exchange for releasing the cause of their immunity, the thieves would be hanged instead of burned at the stake – a less brutal and more quick end. The thieves acquiesced and surrendered the recipe for their elixir, and the legend has continued to grow since then.

What Is That Recipe?: No one really knows the original recipe, and many recipes for Four Thieves Vinegar abound. Though a recipe written by Jean Valnet, a renowned aromatherapist and herbalist of the early 20th century, may resemble the original more closely than any other. He calls for vinegar, wormwood, meadow sweet, juniper, marjoram, sage, cloves, horse heal, angelica, rosemary, horehound and camphor. Valnet calls for steeping these herbs in vinegar for six weeks before decanting, for a lighter flavor some people only steep the herbs for only seven days.

Does It Work?:  While this traditional remedy may or may not have helped grave robbers and thieves to stave off the plague that ravaged Europe centuries ago, it seems modern herbalists and gardeners have revived the interest in this garden remedy. Many herbalists use it as a cleansing agent – transferring it to a spray bottle and using it to clean and sterilize kitchen counters or bathrooms; indeed, many of the herbs possess strong antimicrobial effects and vinegar, in any case, makes an excellent natural cleanser. Others recommend using Four Thieves Vinegar in personal care, diluted with water of course, as a cleansing agent for the skin or as an astringent. Among neo-Pagan circles, Four Thieves Vinegar is thought to have protective qualities and some swear that if you dress your doorstep with the vinegar, it’ll keep your enemies away. As to preventing the Plague, many people attribute it’s abilities to a combination of the immune boosting, antiviral, and antibacterial properties of the herbs and the bonus fact that many of the herbs used in the recipes also drive away pests such as fleas, which are the currently known way that the plague is spread.

The Basics of The Recipe: Really and truly, there are so many versions of this recipe that you can customize it almost endlessly. All you need to do is use a good quality Apple Cider Vinegar as your base (though some recipes call for other vinegars, I think this one has the most antibacterial and beneficial qualities), crush up a few cloves of garlic (crushing the garlic releases the antibacterial properties, though you may notice that your garlic turns blue after a few days in the vinegar, this is a natural process and does not indicate it’s gone bad), and throw in a handful of herbs. Herbs that are traditionally used include lavender, rosemary, mint, sage, marjoram, anise hyssop, wormwood, meadow sweet, juniper, cloves, horse heal, angelica, horehound, camphor, thyme, black pepper, cinnamon, rue, cayenne, chili pepper, coriander, plantain, and lemon balm. Though I’m sure there are more herbs that could be used. Some people recommend using only 4 herbs, one for each thief, and others just throw in however many they feel like using.

Four Thieves Vinegar

2 tbsp Lavender
2 tbsp Rosemary
2 tbsp Mint
2 tbsp Sage
2 tbsp Juniper Berry
2 tbsp Lemon Balm
4 cloves Garlic (peeled and crushed)
4 cups raw Apple Cider Vinegar

Instructions:
Toss herbs and garlic together in a one-quart mason jar, cover with vinegar and place them in a cool, dark location. After a minimum of seven days (you get more medicinal benefits after 6 weeks), strain the vinegar through a fine-mesh sieve into a second, clean 1-quart glass jar.


Some Ideas for Variations: In all these variations use 4-8 cloves of garlic, 4 cups of apple cider vinegar, and equal portions of the suggested herbs.
A Bitter Formula: Wormwood, Rue, Anise Hyssop, and Juniper
(this recipe would be great for your digestion, take a dropperful 15 minutes before eating
to improve digestion and prevent stomach problems)
A Great Salad Dressing: Lemon Balm, Thyme, Rosemary, and Coriander
(this recipe tastes great and is also good for digestion)
A Spicy Adventure: Cayenne, Chili Pepper, and Black Pepper
(this recipe will help clear upper respiratory illness, break fever, and makes a great marinade)


You can also feel free to add in any herbs you may feel like. Elderberry or Hibiscus may be beneficial to the formula, adding in extra immune boosting properties. Hawthorne and ginger may help to improve heart health. Mix up your own recipe, try new formulas. Feel free to post any questions, comments, and/or observations in the comments down below. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram or updates on my adventures in Nature. Find me on YouTube and check out my videos! I also have a few things up on Teespring, check it out! Also, if you like what I do and what to see more, Become a Patron!


Resources:


The Noursihed Kitchen: https://nourishedkitchen.com/four-thieves-vinegar-recipe/
Adventures in Making: http://adventures-in-making.com/recipe-the-legendary-four-thieves-vinegar/
Farmer’s Almanac: https://www.farmersalmanac.com/four-thieves-vinegar-35968
Magical Recipes Online: https://www.magicalrecipesonline.com/2012/08/how-to-make-and-use-four-thieves-vinegar.html
Common Sense Home: https://commonsensehome.com/thieves-vinegar/
Learn Religions: https://www.learnreligions.com/four-thieves-vinegar-2562515
The Herbal Academy: https://theherbalacademy.com/diy-four-thieves%E2%93%87-vinegar/
Tipnut: https://tipnut.com/four-thieves/

Monday, February 17, 2020

Browne’s Savory or St. John’s Mint





     If you follow me on YouTube, you may have noticed a video I posted in January, about a plant that is endemic to the Southeast (at least according to most botanists), specifically around the St. John’s River. I figured that it may be fun to go into a little more detail here.

    This little plant is known as St. John’s Mint or Browne’s Savory (Clinopodium brownei or Micromeria brownei for the scientific name) is found along lake edges and in freshwater wetlands, floodplain forests, and wet disturbed sites throughout much of the Southeast, especially in Florida. It blooms from spring into fall (though here in Central Florida, you can find flowers year round). The tiny flowers attract a variety of small pollinators, even some of our native bee species. Browne’s Savory flowers are tubular, five-lobed and lavender to pinkish-white with dark purple throats. The lobes are fused (three on top, two on the bottom) giving the flower a two-lipped appearance. Leaves are arrow-shaped with wavy margins and toothed apices. They are oppositely arranged on distinct petioles. Stems are square, pubescent, and angled. They grow in all directions and root at the nodes, forming large mats. When the leaves are crushed, a strongly minty scent is often noticed. They have all the major hallmarks of plants in the Lamiaceae (Mint) family, of which they are a member.

     St. John’s Mint is a wetland plant and will not survive in areas that dry out. It does, however, make a nice ground cover in the right conditions (river banks, or the banks of a lake or pond) and will also do well in a container or hanging basket. It’s often sold as an aquatic plant for freshwater aquariums and is often called Creeping Charlie in those situations.

     There are several patches in Orlando that I love to visit when I’m stressed out. Just walking on the minty ground cover, releasing those essential oils into the air, inhaling the smell of freshly crushed mint. That’s enough to relax me and ease some of my stress. I also enjoy laying on those same patches on a spring/fall (or what equates to those seasons in Florida at least) day.

If you haven't seen it (or want to revisit it) check out my video on YouTube 


Medicinal Uses:


Common Names- Browne’s Savory, St. John’s Mint, Creeping Charlie

Scientific Name- Clinopodium brownei, or Micromeria brownei

Edibility- The entire plant is edible, both raw and cooked, and has a strong mint flavor. It makes an excellent tea.

Summary of Actions- Abortifacient, Anti-inflammatory, Carminative, Diaphoretic, Emmenagogue, Rubefacient, and Stimulant

Parts Used- The aerial parts of the plant (everything above ground).

Essential Oil- The herb can be steam distilled fresh or slightly dried to produce the oil, which is clear to pale yellow. As you might expect, it will have a very fresh, herbaceous, and minty scent. Much like Pennyroyal, Browne’s Savory blends well with Citronella (Cymbopogon nardus), Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens), Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis), and Sage (Salvia officinalis).

Insect Repellent- The plant is used as an insect repellent. When rubbed on the body it is said to repel ticks.

Digestion- Almost universally, plants in the Lamiaceae (Mint) family are digestives and carminatives. This little Florida mint is no exception. Munch on a few, fresh, leaves to help relieve gas and bloating, reduce stomach cramps, and improve digestion. Drink a tea after your meal to stimulate digestion and soothe stomach pains. Bonus point alert! It also has a wonderfully minty flavor that improves breath after your meal!

Dental Health- *The following information is from my own personal use, not from any clinical studies.* I have used the fresh leaves to help reduce inflammation in the gums. It also helps to soothe the pain associated with this inflammation. A strongly brewed tea, or an alcohol tincture, also makes an excellent mouth wash that helps to fight a number of nasty germs in the mouth, especially the ones responsible for bad breath and plaque formation.

Upper Respiratory- Most plants in this family have some use in a number of upper respiratory conditions. So it comes as no surprise that St. John’s Mint can be used to help open up congestion and reduce cough.

Fever- Browne’s Savory can be used in the same way as Pennyroyal to induce sweating and help to sweat out a fever.

Women’s Complaints- As an emmenagogue (a substance that stimulates or increases menstrual flow), you can imagine that it’s a potent herb for women. However, it can be dangerous if used when pregnant.

Cautions, Contraindications, and Warnings- Since it is so similar to Pennyroyal, all the warnings from that plant also apply to this one. In large quantities this plant, especially in the form of the extracted essential oil, can be toxic if taken internally. Skin contact with the pure essential oil can cause dermatitis. Do not harvest wild in South Florida! It is listed as "critically imperiled" by Regional Conservation's IRC South Florida Status.






     I only included a basic introduction to this wonderful Florida native. If you have any questions or comments please leave them below. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram or updates on my adventures in Nature. Find me on YouTube and check out my videos! I also have a few things up on Teespring, check it out! Also, if you like what I do and what to see more, Become a Patron!




Resources:


American Pennyroyal: Natural Medicinal Herbs: http://www.naturalmedicinalherbs.net/herbs/h/hedeoma-pulegioides=american-pennyroyal.php

Browne’s Savory: Florida Foraging: https://www.floridaforaging.com/plant/clinopodium-brownei

Clinopodium Brownei: Atlas of Florida Plants: http://florida.plantatlas.usf.edu/Plant.aspx?id=3353

Clinopodium Brownei: Florida Native Plant Society: https://fnps.org/plants/plant/clinopodium-brownei

Clinopodium Brownei: Useful Tropical Plants: http://tropical.theferns.info/viewtropical.php?id=Clinopodium+brownei

Flower Friday- Browne’s Savory: Florida Wildflower Foundation: https://flawildflowers.org/flower-friday-clinopodium-brownei/

Hedeoma: Henriette’s Herbal Homepage: https://www.henriettes-herb.com/eclectic/kings/hedeoma.html

Hedeoma pulegioides: Plants for a Future: https://pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Hedeoma+pulegioides

Micromeria Brownei: Eat The Weeds: http://www.eattheweeds.com/tag/micromeria-brownei/

Micromeria Brownei: TRAMIL: http://www.tramil.net/en/plant/micromeria-brownei

Pennyroyal Essential Oil Uses: Mom Prepares: https://momprepares.com/essential-oils/pennyroyal/





Thursday, January 16, 2020

The Health Benefits of Fermentation




   
     If you follow health trends at all, you’ve probably heard of Kombucha, Kefir, or one of the other, currently trendy, fermented concoctions. However, fermentation has been with us for thousands of years. Fermentation is a natural means of preservation and was, in many cultures, the main one until the invention of refrigeration. During fermentation, microorganisms (such as bacteria, yeast, or fungi) convert organic compounds like sugars and starch into alcohol or acids. In Lactofermentation, for example, the starches and sugars in vegetables and fruits are converted to lactic acid and this lactic acid acts as a natural preservative, allowing them to be stored (in a cool place) for a year or more. Because of this, fermentation produces distinctive, strong, and sour flavors. Some other examples of traditional, fermented foods include Sauerkraut, Kimchi, Miso, Tempeh, Yogurt, Dosa, and a number of traditional Cheeses.

     The process of fermentation doesn't only preserve the food, it also creates a number of beneficial enzymes, vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, and probiotics. All of this makes fermented foods (and drinks) super beneficial to your digestion and overall health. And it doesn’t take much to provide that boost. You really only need ¼ cup of fermented food/drink a day to provide an amazing benefit. That all sounds good, but what are those benefits?

     Improved Digestion and Metabolism: Fermented foods are a great source of beneficial bacteria and enzymes. The beneficial bacteria improve the general health of your bowels by balancing out your gut flora which can have a huge impact on your digestion and metabolism. The enzymes also help to break down hard to digest food and improve nutrient absorption.

     Better Absorption of Nutrients: Not only do the extra enzymes present in fermented products help improve nutrient absorption, but fermentation increases the bioavailability of vitamins and minerals, helping us to better use what we consume. Additionally, by boosting the beneficial bacteria in your gut, you are promoting their ability to manufacture B vitamins and synthesize vitamin K.

     Get More from Your Proteins: Lactic acid, the main by-product of natural fermentation, supports the growth of healthy intestinal flora, normalizes stomach acid levels, and helps the body assimilate proteins.

     Good Source of Vitamins: Not only does fermentation help us to better absorb and use the nutrients in our food, they also provide an excellent source of vitamins. B vitamins, in particular, are a natural by-product of fermentation. Some fermented foods also have higher amounts of vitamin C, or other vitamins as well.

     Overall Improvement of Health, Mood, and Immunity: Improving gut health has been linked to overall improvement of immunity and general health. A 1999 Lancet study showed regular consumption of naturally fermented vegetables positively correlated with low rates of asthma, skin problems, and autoimmune disorders among children attending a Waldorf school in Sweden. There have been numerous other studies that showed similar results. But your gut is also intrinsically connected to your mood. So not only do ferments help improve your general health, they can help to stabilize and improve your mood. Read more about this connection here.


     Those of you who may have been keeping up with this blog since the beginning may remember that one of the first recipes I ever posted was a fermentation one. Fermentation is something I’ve believed in for quite a long time. As such, I’ve gathered a decent number of recipes and resources. So here are some links for you if you want to pursue home fermentation.

Bat Lady Recipes: 

     Fermented Coleslaw
     Pickled and Fermented Red Onion
     Kombucha
     Fermented Lemons

Helpful Resources:

     Kombucha Kamp
     Mastering Fermentation
     Wild Fermentation

   
     I hope I have convinced you to give fermentation a try, and maybe even try to do it at home. I only included a basic introduction to fermentation and it’s benefits. If you have any questions or comments please leave them below. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram or updates on my adventures in Nature. Find me on YouTube and check out my videos! I also have a few things up on Teespring, check it out! Also, if you like what I do and what to see more, Become a Patron!


Resources:


Eating Fermented Foods Can Give a Boost to Your Immune System: Science Focus: https://www.sciencefocus.com/news/eating-fermented-food-can-give-a-boost-to-your-immune-system/

Health Benefits of Fermented Foods: WellnessMama: https://wellnessmama.com/2245/fermented-food-benefits/

Health Benefits of Fermenting: BBC Good Food: https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/health-benefits-offermenting

How To Try Fermentation in Your Kitchen for Probiotics on the Cheap: WellnessMama: https://wellnessmama.com/402891/fermentation/

Lacto-Fermentation – How It Works: The Spruce Eats: https://www.thespruceeats.com/how-lacto-fermentation-works-1327598

Why We Love Lactofermentation: Cedar Circle Farm: https://cedarcirclefarm.org/tips/entry/why-we-love-lactofermentation


Thursday, January 9, 2020

Red Onions - Pickled and Fermented




 
     I love pickles, of just about any kind (as long as it’s veggies…..pickled meat is just weird).  I actually eat something pickled just about every day. Whether it’s snacking on a pickled cucumber, or adding a little bit of pickled onions to my dish, there’s always pickles around. However, I also love my fermented veggies, and often eat both preparations interchangeably. Fermenting your veggies, as opposed to pickling them, gives you a greater amount of control over their flavor, and it also provides more beneficial probiotics. If you want them to taste less tart, just stop the fermentation earlier. Both preparations actually help to improve your gut health, pickles help to improve the function of your gall bladder and increase bile production (which is a good thing) and fermented veggies help to boost your immunity and balance your gut flora. Fermented or pickled onions are some of the easier things to add to your food, they go with just about every meal. So I figured I’d share these two recipes with you today and wish you the best of luck in you journey to a healthier gut.
   


Quick Pickled Red Onions


Ingredients
1 medium Red Onion
1 tsp Salt
½ cup Apple Cider Vinegar
*optional 1 tsp Seasoning of your choice (I like Garlic Powder)


Instructions:
     Spice up your red onions, super thin, and leave them in rings. Put them in a mason jar and sprinkle with salt and other seasonings. Cover the onions with vinegar. Place the lid on the jar and allow to sit at room temperature for 2 hours before consuming. Afterwards (if you have any left over) store them in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.



Fermented Red Onions


Ingredients
1 medium Red Onion
½ tbsp Sea Salt (not Iodized!)
Distilled Water
*optional 1 tsp Seasoning of your choice (try mustard seeds)



Instructions:
     Spice up your red onions, super thin, and leave them in rings. Put them in a mason jar and sprinkle with salt and other seasonings. Cover the onions with water. Place the lid on the jar and allow to sit at room temperature, in a dark place, for 3-6 weeks. If there are still bubbles in the liquid, the fermentation is not done yet, let it sit a bit longer for more of a pickled flavor, though it’s safe to eat after 3 days.
   





     As always, I hope you enjoy these recipes. Feel free to play around with the ingredients and let me know what you think below!



     If you have any questions or comments please leave them below. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram for updates. Find me on YouTube and check out my videos! I also have a few things up on Teespring, check it out! Also, if you like what I do and what to see more, Become a Patron!

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Catnip, Not Just for Kitties





     If you have a cat, chances are you’ve heard of this herb, or may even have a stash of it hidden somewhere. While we may be well acquainted with it’s effect on our feline companions, but do you know that it has a long history of use on us as well?

     In ancient Rome, Catnip tea was a favored beverage. This herb was often combined with lavender and chamomile to induce a relaxing effect. However, it was often said to help prevent, and in some cases even cure, insanity. It’s effect on mood has been seen in a number of cultures, even in the middle ages it was said to have those same properties. However it was also said to make certain people mean, and was given to executioners to get them “in the mood” to do their job efficiently. Catnip tea continued to be a popular drink throughout Europe and Asia, even being the predominant tea consumed in England up until the Elizabethan Era where it was supplanted by the Camellia sinensis plant, the plant we know of as Tea today.

     Native to Europe and Asia, Catnip was introduced to America with the early Colonists and soon spread throughout the continent. A number of Native American tribes recognized the benefits of this herb and discovered their own uses for it. Today it can be found in most continents.

    Catnip, Nepeta cataria, is part of the Mint, or Lamiaceae, family and has the characteristics that the family is known for. It has a square stem, opposite leaves, flowers that resemble lips, and the whole plant is aromatic. While Catnip is not native to his continent, it grows freely in the right conditions. It’s often found near old homesteads. Once established, it needs less water than many plants in the mint family. The size of Catnip varies greatly, depending on available moisture and the soil. It has been seen up to 5’ tall in ideal conditions, but most often does not get above 16 inches when cultivated. If you are looking to add this plant in your garden, make sure you have the scientific name correct as there are a number of hybrids and other plants that are commonly labeled Catmint.


Medicinal Uses:


Common Names- Catnip, Catswort, Catmint, Field Balm, Ment De Gato

Scientific Name- Nepeta cataria

Edibility- The young leaves are edible raw. They have a mint-like flavor and they make an excellent addition to salads. Older leaves are used as a spice in cooked foods. They can be used fresh or dried to make an aromatic herb tea. The tea should be infused in a closed container in order to preserve the essential oils, boiling is said to spoil it so bring your water to a boil and allow it to cool slightly before pouring it over your herbs.

Summary of Actions- Diaphoretic, Nervine, Relaxant, Antifungal, Bacteriacide, Sedative, Febrifuge, Carminative, Tonic, a Slight Emmenagogue, Antispasmodic, and a Mild Stimulant.

Parts Used- The leaves are the primary parts used although flowers and fresh tips can also be included and some herbalists consider the flowering tips best to use for medicinal purposes. The stems are large enough that they should be avoided.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)- Known as Mao Bo He, Catnip works on the Stomach and Lung Meridians. It releases to the Exterior, Clearing Wind Heat, which makes it useful for colds, flu with headache, chills and fever, sore throat, congestion, wheezing, and restlessness. It revives Stagnant Q, helping to alleviate emotional, mental, or nervous tension, gas, and cramping. It also reduces Inflammation, particularly benefiting to the skin in cases of dermatitis.

Traditional Native American Uses- Several Native American tribes used Catnip to support immune function, and for relaxing muscle spasm and cramps associated with digestion. The Mohegan tribes used a tea made from the leaves to relieve infant colic.

Essential Oil and Aromatherapy- Catnip Essential Oil is most highly regarded for its potential as a mosquito repellent, this is due to nepetalactone, which is the same substance that makes it attractive to cats. The essential oil is also antiseptic, anti-microbial, antispasmodic, and helps to clear up congestion. Catnip Oil may be a skin sensitizer and to use it with caution. Avoid using it in the bath, even if it is diluted and this use may increase chances of having an adverse skin reaction.

Insect Repellent- The active ingredient, which causes unusual behavior in cats, is a volatile oil called nepetalactone, which can be found in the leaves & stem of the plant. The plant itself can be used to keep pesky insects out of certain areas, by placing the plant close to entryways. However the essential oil works best in a preparation to keep those same pests away from your body. It is also interesting to note that this essential oil was found in one study to be about ten times more effective at repelling mosquitoes than DEET, which is the active ingredient in most insect repellents.

Digestion- Catnip is a great herb to use as a bitter and gentle nervine. When taken before meals, it improves digestive problems, especially those caused by nerves. It can be especially potent when combined with chamomile or lemon balm for this. Add a touch of licorice or honey and you have a tasty tea for all ages. Try adding a little peppermint in with your catnip to make a pleasant tasting tea that is useful for gas, bloating, nausea or as a general after-dinner type beverage.

Children- Catnip has a long history of use in childhood infections, fevers, aches and pains, bad-tempered moods, sleeplessness and digestive upsets. It was even recommended as a front-line treatment against the dreaded fever of smallpox. This gentile herb is save for use in children of any age.

Fever- Catnip has the ability to release tension and heat from the core of the body, out through the skin. This induces perspiration and helps to reduce fevers. Since it’s a gentle herb, this makes it ideal for working with children and other sensitive individuals.

Anxiety and Stress- This herb is a gentle nervine and can be drunk throughout the day. It’s much less likely to cause drowsiness than some of the stronger herbs such as hops or passionflower, and it helps take the edge off a stress-filled lifestyle. Combine it with tulsi to help improve your ability to deal with stressful situations.

Cautions, Contraindications, and Warnings- This herb is generally considered safe for all ages. Keep in  mind that there is always a chance, however rare, for allergic reactions with any plant. If you notice anything out of the ordinary, stop using this herb and speak to a medical or herbal practitioner. Some people caution against using this herb during pregnancy, as it can over stimulate the uterus. But this caution is not universal. If you are pregnant, consult your doctor or midwife before using this herb.




     I only included a basic introduction to this adorable, cat-friendly plant. If you have any questions or comments please leave them below. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram for updates on my adventures in Nature. Find me on YouTube and check out my videos! I also have a few things up on Teespring, check it out! Also, if you like what I do and what to see more, Become a Patron!




Resources:


Catmint: Botanical: https://botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/c/catmin36.html

Catmint: Natural Medicinal Herbs: http://www.naturalmedicinalherbs.net/herbs/n/nepeta-cataria=catmint.php

Catmint: Richard Whelan: https://www.rjwhelan.co.nz/herbs%20A-Z/catmint.html

Catnip: Drugs.com: https://www.drugs.com/npc/catnip.html

Catnip Essential Oil: AromaWeb: https://www.aromaweb.com/essential-oils/catnip-oil.asp

Catnip: Gaia Herbs: https://www.gaiaherbs.com/blogs/herbs/catnip

Catnip: Mountain Rose Herbs: https://www.mountainroseherbs.com/products/catnip/profile

Catnip (Mao Bo He): White Rabbit Institute of Healing: https://www.whiterabbitinstituteofhealing.com/herbs/catnip/

Catnip Tea: Healthline: https://www.healthline.com/health/catnip-tea

Medicinal Uses for Catnip: Herbal Wisdom Institute: http://www.herbalwisdominstitute.com/blog/medicinal-uses-for-catnip

Nepeta Cataria: Plants for a Future: https://pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Nepeta+cataria

Nepeta Cataria – Catnip: AyurWiki: https://ayurwiki.org/Ayurwiki/Nepeta_cataria_-_Catnip

Nepeta Cataria Effects on Humans: Nepeta Cataria: http://nepetacataria.org/nepeta-cataria-effects-on-humans/

Plant Profile – Catnip: The Forager’s Path: https://www.theforagerspath.com/educational-resources/plant-profiles/catnip-in-the-garden/

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Snow Cream




     Having grown up in Florida, I missed out on all the fun that people talk about during the winter. Fun like making snowmen, snow angels, sledding, etc. It wasn’t until this year that I had even heard of Snow Ice Cream, or Snow Cream. Now, ask anyone that knows me and they’ll tell you that I may have a tiny, little, ice cream problem. I LOVE the stuff. So I immediately set out to try and make Snow Cream in an area that never gets snow.

     Apparently the texture of the snow can effect how much snow is needed for the recipe. Keep that in mind. Also, a lot of people worry about eating fresh snow as it may be dirty. I have been told that white, fresh, fluffy, snow is perfectly safe. However, living in Florida, we have to rely on our good, old fashioned shaved ice instead, so if you’re nervous about eating snow, try shaved ice.


Snow Cream


Ingredients:
8 cups Fresh, Clean Snow or Shaved Ice
1 cup Coconut Milk, Cashew Milk, or Milk
1 tsp Vanilla extract
1 pinch Salt
1/3 cup Honey or Maple Syrup to taste


Instructions:
     Mix your milk, vanilla, salt, and sweetener together in a large bowl. Run outside and gather the freshest, cleanest snow you can...or if you live in FL like me…. Just shave some ice. Mix them together until they come to the consistency of a firm milkshake.
     Enjoy!





     If you have any questions or comments please leave them below. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram for updates. Find me on YouTube and check out my videos! I also have a few things up on Teespring, check it out! Also, if you like what I do and what to see more, Become a Patron!

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Coral Bean






     One of the things I look forward to most this time of year is a certain, bright red, flower blooming among the piney flatwoods and mixed woodlands that my husband and I tend to venture. We first encountered Cherokee Bean (or Coral Bean) before we even knew what it was. Actually, our friend Justin dubbed it the X Wing plant because the leaves reminded him of the X Wings from Star Wars. (Yes indeed, we are ALL nerds here!) It wasn’t until about a year later that we realized that those leaves belonged to the pretty red flowers we kept seeing in the Winter. In most of the places we tend to hike, the flowers develop at the same time the plant drops it’s leaves, so the flowers and leaves aren’t always present at the same time.

     Erythrina herbacea (Coral Bean) is in the Fabaceae (Pea) family. The genus Erythrina includes over 115 species of trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants that all have orange or bright-red flowers. They are found throughout the tropical and subtropical regions of the world. In North and Central Florida, E. herbacea grows as a large perennial, reaching 6 feet tall before it freezes to the ground in winter. In South Florida it grows as a large deciduous shrub or small tree. This plant can be found from North Carolina through to Texas and further South. It’s range includes all the coastal states along the Gulf of Mexico. It prefers well-drained sand, loam, or clay, and can easily be found in open, sandy woods & clearings of the coastal plains. In Florida, it’s easy to find in mesic hammocks, pine flatwoods, scrub, secondary woods, upland mixed woodlands, coastal dunes, and sandhills throughout the whole state. Blooms are present from Winter until Spring.

Medicinal Uses:


Common Names- Coral Bean, Coralbead, Cherokee Bean, Cardinal Spear, Red Cardinal

Scientific Name- Erythrina herbacea

Edibility- The flowers and young leaves are edible cooked. With the leaves, it’s best to play it safe and cook them at least twice, throwing away the water after the first time cooking them.

Summary of Actions- Antiemetic, Diaphoretic, Diuretic, Narcotic, Purgative, Tonic

Parts Used- The whole plant can be used, but most commonly it’s the root, seeds, and bark.

Native American Traditional Uses- A number of Native American Tribes had many medicinal uses for this plant, varying between nations and localities. Creek women used an infusion of the root for bowel pain; the Choctaw used a decoction of the leaves as a general tonic; the Seminole used an extract of the roots for digestive problems, and extracts of the seeds, or of the inner bark, as an external rub for rheumatic disorders.

General Tonic and Fevers- A tea made from the leaves can be used as a general tonic, promoting a healthy digestive system and improving health in general. However a decoction of the root can also be used to help reduce fevers.

Nausea and Constipation- A decoction of the root can be used to clear up nausea and constipation. A cold infusion of the root has also been traditionally used for a variety of bowel complaints in women.

Urinary System- The diuretic properties of this plant make it excellent for clearing up blocked urination.

Joint Pain and Numbness- A decoction of the beans or inner bark has been used as a body rub and steam for numb, painful limbs and joints.

Other Uses- Traditional cultures use the seeds as beads. It’s also a beautiful landscape plant for those who want to have a native landscape and who may want to attract hummingbirds.

Cautions, Contraindications, and Warnings- All parts of the plant, but especially the seeds, contain numerous toxic alkaloids, including erysodine and erysopine, and cyanogenic glycosides. They can cause diarrhea and vomiting. The alkaloids have an action similar to the poison curare (Strychnos species) and have been used as a rat poison. In sufficient quantities, the seeds can cause human death.






     I only included a basic introduction to this brilliant Florida Native. If you have any questions or comments please leave them below. Follow me on Facebook (Bat Lady Herbals) and Instagram (BatLadyHerbalist) for updates on my adventures in Nature. Find me on YouTube and check out my videos! I also have a few things up on Teespring, check it out! Also, if you like what I do and what to see more, Become a Patron!




Resources:


Cardinal Spear: Natural Medicinal Herbs: http://www.naturalmedicinalherbs.net/herbs/e/erythrina-herbacea=cardinal-spear.php

Coral Bean: University of Florida Gardening Solutions: http://gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu/plants/ornamentals/coral-bean.html

Coral Bean- Hummingbird Fast Food: Eat the Weeds: http://www.eattheweeds.com/coral-bean-humming-bird-fast-food/

Erythrina: Science Direct: https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/erythrina

Erythrina Herbacea: Florida Native Plant Society: https://fnps.org/plants/plant/erythrina-herbacea

Erythrina Herbacea: Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center: https://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=erhe4

Erythrina Herbacea: Useful Tropical Plants: http://tropical.theferns.info/viewtropical.php?id=Erythrina+herbacea

Erythrina Herbacea (Coral Bean): Find Me A Cure: https://findmeacure.com/2012/04/01/erythrina-herbacea-coral-bean/







Welcome

Greetings from the Bat Lady!

     Welcome to Bat Lady Herbals.  I have been fascinated by herbs and various herbal uses for quite a few years now.  Plants are amazing t...