My Herbs Blog
Making Horseradish from Fresh Roots
Horseradish seems like a fall and spring food, but we enjoy it all year round! Every spring when the green leaves come back to life, and we are busy picking dandelions, it is time to make fresh horseradish. My children love to eat Lamb at Passover, with horseradish and dandelion salad. It is not only traditional, but also a cleansing and uplifting start to the new season.
I usually make a quart of horseradish early in the spring, and it carries us through the summer. Now it is fall, and before the leaves die back and the roots freeze. I make another batch of horseradish to carry us through the winter months until Spring comes again. Horseradish is useful for more than just roast beef. I love it on potatoes, eggs, and roasted vegetables. It makes a great condiment for sandwiches, and I even scoop a spoonful on to my soups.
If I experience congestion, I may just open a jar and take a deep breath. Be careful if you are not use to this, it can really give you a "start" if you have little experience with this plant. Like all the plants, I have found that small, and slow introductions are best. When you are comfortable, you may find yourself really immersing yourself in a particular plant. That may also be for a season. This particular year, I spent a lot of time with horseradish. I even soaked horseradish in white wine, to make a tincture of sorts, but when you do this, the result is not as medicinal and a much lighter extract. However, the plant energy has still been extracted and makes a very pungent, strong tasting wine. I would sip a few thimblefuls in the evening to help open my head.
The last thing I want to caution you about, but not scare in anyway is in regards to the sensation that horseradish can cause in your head if you take a big bite. You may be familiar with this if you have ever eaten Wasabi. These particular roots can send a semi-painful, yet delightful sensation through your head upon the moment of eating. This area can be different for every person, and I think coincides with places of congestion. Once you have taken a delicious bite, and the sensation passes, you will find a whole new openness in your head and breathing, well worth the heat!
Wasabi or Japanese horseradish is a plant of the family Brassicaceae, which also includes horseradish and mustard in other genera. A paste made from its ground rhizomes is used as a pungent condiment for sushi and other foods.
My instructions for making Horseradish:
Start with a few good sized roots, freshly dug. If you do not grow your own, you can actually order roots, or buy at a local market. Wash thoroughly and slice off the skin; or peel off the brown skin. When that has been completed, cut the root into 1 inch sized pieces and place in a good blender. I use a Ninja and it works well. Place all your cut up pieces in the blender. I personally would not blend more than a cup at a time, because it can be hard on the machine. After putting a cup of cut up pieces in the blender, you will pour Apple Cider Vinegar with the Mother just to cover the roots. Then pulse. Pulse. Pulse. Then blend until creamy and smoothish. You want chopped up little pieces, and almost a paste.
WARNING! When you take the lid off the blender, you may be tempted to take a deep breath. If you have really good roots, it may feel like a punch in the face. Take the lid off, and step back a minute before taking a deep breath. But you will want to breathe in your fresh horseradish; it is part of the ritual of making your own. Hope you enjoy! 😊
How to Make an Herbal Dream Pillow
This "how to" is not a spiritual exercise, but I guess it could be if you should choose to see it that way. I won't be getting into the science of aromatherapy. This is just an exercise for fun, and relaxation, and to enjoy the fragrance of plants and herbs. I also wanted to do this exercise, because I wanted to teach my boys how to sew, and I thought it would make a great sewing project.
What you need to do this:
1. HERBS- I used Lavender, Rose petals, Chamomile, Mugwort, Lobelia, Hops, Spearmint, Peppermint and Boneset. To be honest, I kind of wanted to use up some herbs I had had a little while. All herbs listed here, except for the Boneset and Lobelia sitting for a few months. Although herbs can last years if store properly, I do not like to have my herbs sit and sit. The Lobelia and Boneset were wildcrafted at a creek bed, and I had dried quite a bit, so I decided to add a little to the mixture. The Hops was in powder form, because that is what I had, but I would really recommend HOPS flowers.
I did not use a specific recipe, but for the purpose of this post, I will give you one so you know what to do! When I give parts, I will give part the value of 1 ounce.
2 parts Rose petals
2 parts Lavender petals
1 part Chamomile flowers
1 part Mugwort
1 part Spearmint
1 part Peppermint
1/2 part Hops flowers, or clusters
1/4 part Lobelia (optional)
1/4 part Boneset (optional)
** You can add any other herbs you want to this mixture. The more fragrant flowers you add, the more fragrant your dream pillow.
BI always mix my herbs in ceramic, or pottery dishes. You can use wood, glass, or other natural material. I believe that all life forms, and plant do have life- emit an energy force. I like to use natural materials, because they have more life energy, than say- plastic.
You will also need fabric. I suggest choosing fabric that is not too thin, or too thick (like flannel). You want it to breath, so you can smell the herbs. Choose something soft and appealing. I chose to use bigger needles and crochet yarn, which is about the thickness of embroidery floss. I wanted my kids to sew with bigger needles and thread, because it is easier to learn to sew with bigger tools. I found that this worked out really well.
I cut the squares to sizes 4 x 5 inches (approximately). You can choose any size you want! Usually they are smaller, but it really depends on the size you want to make. I told my kids to fold their cut fabric, hamburger style and with the pattern facing inward. We sewed three sides, and then flipped the fabric, inside out which really made it the correct way, and then stuffed the fabric with our herbs. We premeasured all the herb mixture to determine how much we wanted to use for each pillow. We wound up with 7 cups, and made 7 pillows. To be honest, I would have liked to use more herb in my pillow for the size 4 x 5". I think 1 1/2 cups would have been better.
The last simple step, is just to sew up the final side. Yeah! Then put it on your pillow or in your pillow case, or even beside your bed. The fragrance is a welcome delight when you arrive to bed, and wake in the morning. Below is the video I made on this DIY project. If you make your own, please come back and comment. Have a blessed day!
The first thing you need to 'believe' to be a really effective Herbalist is a love of plants. Maybe I should step back a minute and define what an Herbalist is. Dictionary.com defines an herbalist as 'a person who collects or deals in herbs, especially medicinal herbs.' This definition is ok. It is basic, but I want to expand on what I believe an Herbalist is. An Herbalist is someone who works with plants, and "work" is not a thing you go to and leave at a certain time. When I say work, it is a total life immersion with plants- almost a oneness with them. There is a small word in that definition that I want to concentrate on and that word is 'collects.' An herbalist is someone who collects plants from nature. They know plants, and can identify them. They are familiar with their ways and growing patterns. They wait expectantly for their shoots, flowers, and follow the plants cycles. They also have a deep respect for nature and plants. Let me give you an example of what I mean by "loving plants."
Every time I moved, I took my plants with me. "Oh your potted plants," you say. No- not just my potted plants, but my plants that were rooted in the ground. I always divided them and made baby plants that I could take and replant somewhere else. I was saddened each time to leave my plants, even more than my homes. I would miss a lot of the trees. In fact my children still talk about a certain apple tree we had at a property when they were young. As an Herbalist you will love plants and see plants as your friends. If you tend to see plants as how you can make a profit. If you look at a beautiful forest, or field and only see dollar signs, you are not an Herbalist, you are something else. Not sure what- but something else.
An Herbalist will collect seeds and save the seeds to bring more plants to life. An Herbalist will not over harvest an area. She will take from the gifts of nature, respected the space where plants grow, and allowing the other little creatures to enjoy those gifts as well. An Herbalist will always be growing something. She (or he) will have seeds and pots and little containers of soil, starting more plants, and more trees, encouraging more growth. She will also find little plants alone and in danger of being cut, or mowed, or torn out and transplant them to a safe environment. She will pray for the plants that are suffering in areas where people abuse them.
Another story- where I live there is a home, a property where an older woman lives. I do not know this woman as she really is not willing to communicate with the neighbors. She mows the property daily and weeds whacks back the grass so low, that much of the tree roots are exposed to open air. There are no flowers, or weeds of any sort, or any other growing thing on the property. There is a definite feeling of low energy when we walk by the home. I feel sorry for the woman, and even sorrier for the plants, who cannot move from their spot. We say prayers when we pass her place, and I think of the day when the trees can stretch their roots, and feel the swaying grass and be happy in the sunshine again.
The second 'belief' you need to have to be an Herbalist is the the belief that herbs are nature's way of healing. I am always careful at saying this, and unless you are an herbalist, you probably will be angry or not understand what I mean. I am not saying that I do not appreciate hospitals, or doctors, and am grateful for a system of emergency care. My belief is that God has provided a bounty in nature to feed the souls of mankind, if we only knew how to harvest that gift. Modern medicine is so new, compared to the thousands of years of plant medicine we have in our history. Some people may feel that that was a backward time, and real life only began when modern medicine, and pharmaceuticals began. All I am saying is an herbalist at heart, will be fully committed to plant medicines.
The third belief you must possess is a strong belief in treating nature with respect, and not seeing it as something to strip bare for profit.
“The land is sacred. These words are at the core of your being. The land is our mother, the rivers our blood. Take our land away and we die. That is, the Indian in us dies.” – Mary Brave Bird, Lakota “We learned to be patient observers like the owl.
My question to you is- What do you see when you look at the picture of the forest below? Make a list of the 10 words that come to mind when you see this picture. I would love to share mine, but I do not want to cloud your own thoughts with mine. Share below a few of your descriptions. Ok- I can't help but share one "tranquility."
I hope this article helped someone get a clearer definition of what it means to be an Herbalist. I want to end this article by saying I do belief it is a true calling. If you have been called to work with the plants, you will probably know.
Great book! This is a great book! As are all the "Nourishing Traditions" books. I actually bought this one by accident, meaning to buy a copy of the regular Nourishing Traditions book, which I had given away. When this book arrived, I was disappointed, but sometimes the Universe has a way of turning our mistakes into blessings. I thought- I don't need this anymore, I am past the baby stage. However- the truths, and lessons in this book for making babies, and early childhood nutrition are still applicable, and I will be a grandmother someday!
If you have not studied this book, or any of Weston Price's information he gathered from studying native peoples around the world, you will be in for a surprise for what he discovered. Weston's research and book were written ages ago, it seem.... back in the 1940's. I wish my parents would have read it before having me! What he discovered was that in small pockets around the world, in untouched areas people were living off the land, with diets rich in fat soluble foods found from full-fat grass fed animals, and fresh water fish, as well as raw, dairy from grass fed animals; imagine butter so full of nutrients it is almost orange in color!
When people are conceived by mothers and fathers, but especially mothers, who have diets with high in fat soluble vitamins A, D, and K2, like those who live off of a hunter/ gatherer lifestyle, their babies are happy, robust, healthy, and with strong bones. They develop properly and easily, without illness, and disease, and they teeth are straight and well developed without cavities, despite the fact that they do not brush, floss, and use mouthwash. To me this is astounding, because it goes against everything we have been taught in the Western Culture.
And- oh if I could go back and tell my mother, this information. I have been one of those people, like many Americans born with skin issues, allergies, crooked teeth, and other COMMON maladies to our country and dietary lifestyle. Life has been hard, and is hard when you are fighting against all the deficiencies that we were never meant to have. Even depression, moodiness, PMS, and argumentative, misbehaving children- all these commons in modern culture were absent in these pockets of people Price studied. They were Eskimo peoples, Gallic Fishermen, hunter/ gatherers in Canada, the Everglades, Amazon, Australia and Africa, as well as the Andean Indians.
As an Anthropology student in college, I learned that these "so called backwards people" were really anything but backwards. They may life more simply, or less developed but in so many ways, especially when it comes to nutrition and life satisfaction, they are so much further ahead of us. Sadly though many of these pockets of people are no longer. I honestly do not know of the corners of the world that have not been modernized. If I had to guess pretty much everywhere has been touched by modern culture, technology and civilization. It is sad to see these peoples and rich culture disappear. With them, the knowledge our ancient ancestors took for granted.
What if you are getting into the game, late?? It is the last quarter, and few minutes left, or even half-time. You may want to despair. You like me, got into the game late. You may feel like what is the use? I didn't have this growing up. My parents definitely did not eat in a nutrient dense way, so my condition is hopeless.
I urge you to get in the game anyway! Wherever you are in life. At whatever stage in life, you can always make changes, and these changes will improve the quality of your life. An added benefit will be more enjoyment and and happiness as eating foods high in nutritive vitamins will make you feel so much better. You may not be able to change your height or teeth, or facial structure if you are already an adult (and I do not recommend surgery), but I believe in inherent Divine intervention and wisdom. You never know what can happen when you move forward in steps of faith.
Following Your Intuition
This post is much more than herbs, although intuition combined with herbal practice is highly effective. I want to focus on intuition, or spirit. Is your spirit awakened? Do you know you are spirit? You are not really your physical body, but a spiritual being in a physical body. We are here temporarily but our spirit is permanent and long lasting to eternity. The bible tells us to care for our "house," because it is the home of God. Our bodies are important and are vehicles that take us where we want to go in life. God asks us to care and many scriptures refer to that care of the physical, but I want to remind you that you are not just what you see with your eyes.
There can be a lot of answers in the still, quiet moments of life when you ask God and the Universe to show you the answers you seek. In the business of daily living, it is near impossible to get the answers you seek. You must stop and slow down and sometimes unload a little before the answers come. I am going to give you three tips that I implement to get the answers I often need to keep me on track and moving towards the goals and plans for my life.
Sometimes the first step is to unload a little. I am not supportive on long complaining sessions, and rehashing issues over and over, or dwelling on past hurts. I am for writing some of your thoughts down, even some ugly ones so as to not suppress your feelings. Then, you must quickly turn from those thoughts. Often times I erase them, or throw them away, or even burn the paper I wrote them on. I believe more firmly in writing down positive thoughts, but you can not just bottle up some of the negatives. If you are upset about something. Write it down. Sometimes the answer comes by releasing it.
Go outside, and spend time alone in nature. Nature is my favorite teacher. I have learned so much from my time spent outside. The key though is to be quiet and alone. Cutting the grass, playing games, or spending active time with others, can be great exercise but it is in the quiet moments with God and nature that answers often come. This may be difficult to arrange. I know it is for me. When I was young, pre-kids, I would go on long walks communing with nature, crossing streams, listening to the trees and plants. Now it is difficult to carve out 20 minutes of that precious time. I make an intention though to find it almost every day.
Tip 3: Although I do not advocate staying up late in the night, there may be times when you go through some restless nights where spirit may be trying to communicate with you. Instead of tossing and turning, or putting on an electronic device, open your mind to what the Universe may be saying. I think more than receiving answers in nature, most of the answers I have sought came in dreams at night or when I wake up, unable to fall back to sleep. Instead of fighting with myself, I will go somewhere quiet, and read, or write, or look up at the moon, and pray and the things I have been questions, or fears I have let set in my mind- are erased in the special moments with God.
Those are my 3 main tips for allowing your intuition to take over. Intuition is nothing more than learning how to hear from the Universe and from what your body is telling you. This ability is sharpened, through practice. See if you can implement some of these tips today. Blessings to you.
The Humble Dandelion
Are dandelions really humble? I think so. They are not flashy and temperamental like Roses. They are low to the earth, and unapologetic. They do not mind growing in the most lowly places, and are never the center piece of any bouquet. They lack the delicious fragrance of Honeysuckle or the gorgeous purple Wisteria. In fact they have very little scent at all. Dandelions are accused of being weeds, and sprayed and pulled up in force. Yet they keep growing, reseeding and beautifying any space where they are allowed to grow.
I love the Dandelion- Taraxacum officinale. All parts of the plant are used. I even pick the flower tops and dry them to add to my tea blends in the winter. It adds a bit of Spring sunshine to a wintery day. The leaves are delicious in salad greens, and high in Vitamins A, as well as Iron. The roots are where the real magic happens. Dandelion root is very tonifying and strengthening to the liver. After a long, and perhaps sluggish winter, I find it so delightful that God has given us Dandelion to lighten our steps, and spring us into spring. Just as you clean your house and air it out after months of indoor heat, the dandelion leaves and roots will clean up your own "house,"- your physical body.
My favorite method of utilizing the roots, is to dig them up from the garden. If you let your dandelions seed naturally, you will find them in the garden, which is the best place to find them. You should have rich, nourished soil, to produce the best dandelions. I wash the roots, and let them air dry for an hour or two. Then I cut the roots into small pieces, about 1/2 inch long. They can be dried even further by placing them in paper bags for at least 2 weeks, or you can make tea with them right away.
To make dandelion tea, you will place all of your root pieces in a large pot. (Assuming you have collected a lot). So for numerical purposes, for every 1/2 cup of root pieces, use 2 cups water in a pot. Turn your burner on low/ medium heat and bring to a simmer. Keep the temperature at a simmer for 30 minutes. The water should turn a brown color as the properties of the dandelion roots are pulled into the water.
You can add other roots if you have them. I like burdock root especially with dandelion root. Or make it just as it is- the unapologetic dandelion. After the roots have finished simmering. Put a lid on your pot and steep for 15-30 more minutes. Serve in ceramic mugs with a little milk and honey. Delicious!
**From The Lost Book of Herbal Remedies p. 69
"Dandelion contains antioxidants, phytonutrients, and essential fatty acids that reduce inflammation in the body. This relieves swelling and related pain in the body. Inflammation is the root cause of many diseases, suich as arthritis."
See my video below on harvesting Dandelion roots:
Black Walnut, Eastern- Juglans nigra. This wonderful plant is a deciduous tree in the Juglandaceae (Walnut) family. Black walnut trees grow everywhere in the Northeast US. If you go to the country and ask 10 people if they have a Black Walnut on their property, I guarantee 9 times out of 10 you will here- YES! You will also hear how they find the tree to be annoying because it drops (if it is healthy), hundreds of walnut hulls all over the ground. These hulls can be as large as a softball, but are usually more like something between a golf ball and a softball in size. At first they are just a bumpy nuisance for the lawn mower, but as they break down they are a messy black nuisance, that is unless you have learned to harness the beauty of this plant.
Every country home we have lived at, had at least one Black walnut tree. I have been amazed at where I find the inner shells, nestled in the ground, far from the tree- ready to burst forth with new life. I imagine that squirrels and other woodland creatures carry them hither and thither around the earth moving them, stacking them, dropping them and replanting this marvelous tree.
One year my husband and I decided to gather the hulls not only for the medicinal qualities in the green hull, but for the walnut inside. (I make at least a gallon of tincture every single year. See my video on making Black Walnut Tincture below.) I will never forget that exercise. First we gathered all the green hulls and placed them in our driveway/ parking area. We had a big Black Walnut tree right over a stone parking area at the back of our property. The hulls were conveniently close and nearly dropping on our cars. We made big piles of the the hulls and ran them over with our vehicles to help remove the green part.
Then we raked them aside and let them dry in the grass. Mind you everything under the green hull turns black and dies because of the juglone and tannins in the hull, which is the exact part you want for your fungal remedy. Anyway, I believe we let them dry out for about a week, and then we gathered them in big buckets and took them to our basement. Here my husband washed each hull and scrubbed them with a wire brush. This was a time consuming process, needless to say. We then continued to dry them, on some sort of rack or screen; I can not quite remember, but I know that we left them alone for a month or two. They were collected around September and we ate them around the holidays.
After all that effort, there is even more effort needed to get to the meat. You need a large, flat board and a hammer to crack open the shell that protects the walnut. These nuts do not crack with your normal nutcracker. The center though, is worth it. The prize is so delicious, almost a delicacy, and packed with flavor. I never tasted a nut that was so tasty. I am actually not a big fan of black walnuts, or walnuts in general but the ones we collected and opened with love and care were the best by far, I have ever eaten.
As for the topic of this blog post... I have mentioned that the hulls are used for fungal issues, and boy do they ever work for this problem. I have had skin issues my whole life, not so much anymore as I have gotten to a lot of the root problems, which would require another post another time. When I have a flare up of eczema- which from my research and understanding is really a bacterial, fungal storm, I have found no cream, lotion, potion or anything that works as effectively as the juice from the black walnut hulls (the green hulls).
If you go to the video below, and see my Sheep Hill Herbs You Tube page, I also have a video on freezing slices of black walnut hulls. In the fall- I use the hulls fresh and for as long as they last. I will even store them in the refrigerator for a few months. If I have any skin itchiness, or a flare, I cut the hull and rub the juice right on the spot. Most of my eczema has been on my hands, in-between my fingers. The juice stings if you have any skin problem, like ring-worm, or other creepy crawly thing going on. If your skin is healthy, it will stain with no feeling whatsoever. Usually a few applications, over a few days is enough to stop the microorganisms in their tracks and then "it" whatever that it is, fungus, bacteria, or parasite dries up and new skin replaces it.
There is a drawback though and maybe you have guessed it, you will stain your skin. It will be a dark yellow, to brown to even black in color where you have applied the juice. Maybe that is why most people do not want to try this method, but I have an interesting theory. If you have a skin issue- such as ringworm, or other infection, even poison or a rash, in many cases it can be contagious. By applying black walnut hull juice to the skin, and having to bear the black mark, you are very likely going to stay home, or want to stay home until the black fades away. I believe that this time is a good time to stay separated from others to avoid sharing the skin issue. It is sort of nature's way of keeping the spread from spreading.
This sounds way to much like current events, and I am not at all for hiding at home, or forcing others to stay isolated in illness, but I do believe proper common sense, and the use of old fashioned remedies, lends itself to a "forced" time of separation. Modern medicine, and creams, and pills often cover symptoms allowing people to share their illness. Herbs allow for a time to rest, heal, recover and be better for it.
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