Stinging Nettle and Diabetes

I once thought diabetes was limited to the obese until a thin and fit friend confided that she suffers from it. In it nutshell, it is a condition where the hormone insulin runs amok. If left untreated, it can damage the kidneys, heart, skin, eyes, and ears. It is even linked to Alzheimer’s disease. Sadly, well over a million adults and children in America suffer from it. Medical treatments are intended to manage the disease and are not a cure. The damage caused by diabetes is considered irreversible.

One of the things I noticed when I began looking at wild plants as an alternative to expensive medical treatments was the confusing amount of information offering opposite opinions about their safety and effectiveness. One group praises a plant as a miracle cure, while the other tells you it is useless and dangerous. You would think that somebody is right and the other wrong, but like most debates, the truth usually resides somewhere near the middle.

To begin with, you heal yourself. This isn’t a new concept, “Heal Thyself” is an ancient proverb that our ancestors knew well. Never forget that your health and your life is your responsibility. It is more about what you do for yourself than getting the right mix of medication or seeing the best specialist.

So, what can you do for yourself? Begin with an open mind by allowing yourself to consider all of the possibilities, not just the limited options offered by the experts. Do your homework, but think for yourself. Rarely are the risks of herbal remedies as severe as pharmaceuticals.

Stinging Nettle is another one of those wild plants that seemingly grows everywhere. It has been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years. Herbalists use Stinging Nettle to balance hormones, prevent diabetes, increase energy levels, detox the kidneys, etc. It is worth a try, my friends.

Here’s to your good health, my friends.

Peace out,
Robert

Wild Lettuce and Family Dinners

My grandmother knew how to lay a spread on the dinner table.  When our large family came together, we gathered around a long table stacked high with country-style home cooking.  In the middle of all the protein and starches was a large bowl of field greens tossed with honey vinaigrette. I didn’t understand it then, but this simple dish did a marvelous job of balancing sweet, salty, bitter and sour.  Even though I was a typical kid who avoided vegetables, her salad was an exception.

One of the ingredients was Wild Lettuce, which despite its name is a member of the sun flower family.  Like aspirin, it is bitter and has a mild analgesic effect.  Even though Wild Lettuce has a history of use dating back to the Egyptians as an opium substitute, it is a mild plant that is not addictive, unless you include the natural response to wholesome foods that nourish our body and restore good health.

Like carrots it contains Vitamin A, an anti oxidant connected to eye health, a strong immune system, and the growth of healthy new cells.  As you know, we are constantly replacing our old cells with new ones, lending credence to the idea that we are forever renewing ourselves.  This renewal takes fuel and a good place to fill her up is with wild edibles like Wild Lettuce.

Here’s to your good health, my friends.

Peace out,

Robert

 

Pennywort and Longevity

On May 6, 1933 the New York Times published the obituary of Li Ching-Yeun, a Chinese herbalist, who died at the age of 197. Other Chinese government sources claimed he was even older at 256. If you’re like me, you have mixed feelings about a story like this. My practical lawyer-side finds it hard to believe that a man actually lived that long and would like to see credible proof of these claims. On the other hand, there’s a part of me that wants to believe there is hidden knowledge out there that can forever change my life. What if?

I like to think I have a healthy balance between critical thinking and open-mindedness. I never accept the opinions of “experts” as the final word. You should always do your homework and make the best possible choice given the information available to you. As an attorney, I’ve questioned many expert witnesses who reach different conclusions about scientific data. At the end of the day, their opinions are only educated guesses. Maybe a career in litigation has left me a little jaded, but I prefer to think for myself and encourage others to do the same.

Part of my homework is to slowly incorporate wild-plants into my diet. I pay attention to how my body reacts, looking for any sign the plant doesn’t agree with me. I also note any positive reactions. If there are no adverse reactions, then I give it a try for a while. If it improves the quality of my life, then I’ve lost nothing and gained everything.

One of the herbs Li Ching-Yeun was said to favor is Pennywort (Gotu Kola). It has a history of use in both Indian Ayurvedic medicine and traditional Chinese medicine. I follow the example of Asians and add it to a tossed salad of wild herbs and common garden vegetables. In traditional Chinese medicine it is used to reduce fever, treat ulcers and anxiety, as a laxative, and to calm the nervous system. Nutritionally, it is rich in antioxidants, such as Vitamin C, beta-carotene, and the B Vitamins, thiamine niacin, and riboflavin.

Here’s to your health and long life.

Peace out,
Robert

Lucky Clover

There is nothing like feeling soft grass between my toes. I’m not exactly sure why, but it gives me such pleasure. I think maybe it’s a need to feel connected to the Earth, because I feel much the same thing gardening as I plunge my hands into the rich soil.

I grew up in a neighborhood where the kids ran barefoot all summer. Rarely was anyone injured, because the soles of our young feet were tough as shoe leather. The one exception came from the bees harvesting fields of clover. They didn’t care much for being disturbed from the busy work of collecting pollen to feed the hive, and although our soles were protected from their stingers, the rest of the foot was not.  In my mind, the patches of clover were the bee’s domain.

It wasn’t until I became interested in herbal remedies that I learned of the health benefits of red clover. Herbalist use the flowers to treat a wide variety of conditions, fight infections, promote hormonal balance, and restore the glow to ashen skin. This plant is a source of beta-carotene, zinc, calcium, potassium, selenium, iron, and vitamin E, C, B1, B2, and B3.

Sometimes when I hike I like to munch on a flower and stick a few more in my pocket to add later to a cup of green tea.

Here’s to your good health, my friends.

Peace out,
Robert

 

I’m Not a Weed

Milk Thistle

“I am not a weed,” the flower replied, sweetly.
The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint−Exupery

A weed is a useless and undesirable plant growing where it is not wanted. Very often, our attempts to remove them backfire on us as in the case of the recent death of a friend’s family member. Her death was swift and unexpected. The doctors told the grieving family her liver failed, but couldn’t say why someone who had been the picture of good health would suddenly take such a deadly turn.

My friend believed she had an adverse reaction to a herbicide she was using just before she got sick. She was trying to wipe out a patch of Milk Thistle so her cattle wouldn’t get into it. Of course, proving his suspicions is a daunting task and the family had no intention of pursuing legal action against the chemical giant who manufactured the poison.

The heartbreaking twist to this story is Milk Thistle is not a weed. It is a very old medicine that has been used for centuries by herbalist to flush toxins from the liver. Maybe her legacy to us is a reminder to add Milk Thistle to our salads instead of reaching for the poison used to kill this beautiful plant.

To your good health, my friends.

Peace out,
Robert

 

Wild Food & Medicine

I’m not exactly sure when I first became interested in wild food and medicine, but these days I like to think of it as a bridge to the past. Long before we had big pharma, patented seeds and giant corporate farms our ancestors not only survived but thrived.

They say life was harsh and short-lived, but my great-grandmother, who was born during the Lincoln administration, lived on an organic farm to the ripe old age of 106, while my dad died at 66 from cancer after spending his working life in a factory surrounded by dangerous chemicals.

It seems to me that we have been bombarded by a vast amount of propaganda that allows men who care little about the consequences of the poisons they bring into the world to line their pockets. Instead, I choose to take ownership of my health by using wild foods and medicines rather than the unnatural things they manufacture in their labs.

One such herb is Plantain, not to be confused with the banana-like fruit with the same name. This herb is another one of those nutritious plants labeled a noxious weed that appears seemingly out of nowhere in disturbed soil. I admire its will to survive. Despite our best efforts to eradicate it from the garden, it won’t be denied its right to live and thrive in this beautiful world.

But it doesn’t just survive, Plantain gives back to those willing to give it try.  Among other things, herbalist use it to boost liver function, cleanse kidneys, or heal a gut.  Harvest the young leaves for herbal tea loaded with Vitamins A, C, and a good dose of minerals, including Zinc, Magnesium, Potassium, Copper, Phosphorous, and Calcium. It can also added to stews and salads

To your good health.

Peace out,

Robert

Pine Needle Tea

Cancer is a darkness that touches all of us to one degree or another. Many years ago, it claimed my dad and the grief damn near got me too. He was far too young to die. If it wasn’t for my children, who knows how it would have turned out. Somehow, I pulled myself together, shook off the heart-crushing grief, and made a silent promise to my daughters that I would take care myself so that I would be there when needed.

The healthcare industry has failed us. Cancer treatment is an abysmal failure. So, I began to listen to the alternatives. One alternative came from Linus Pauling, a Nobel Prize-winning biochemist who believed we are looking at cancer in the wrong way. Instead of seeing it as a foreign invader to be killed, he saw Cancer as a malfunctioning cell to be nurtured. His research focused on what it takes for a cell to be healthy and he became convinced that Vitamin C is critical.  He advocated high doses of it to both prevent and cure Cancer. Sadly, despite his two Nobel Prizes, Linus Pauling’s research findings were ridiculed by the healthcare industry.

So, what does this have to do with pine needles? When settlers came to America, the natives had a rich tradition of herbal medicine dating back thousands of years. In fact, they treated malnourished sailors suffering from scurvy with Pine Needle tea. As it turns out, this tea is loaded with Vitamin C.

Enjoy a cup today.

Peace out,
Robert

Mimosa

There was a Mimosa tree in my front yard when I was growing up. On hot summer days, the neighborhood kids gathered under its broad branches in the hopes of finding relief from the sun’s brutal onslaught. We wiled away our summer talking about life, girls, and football.

Someone once told me that farmers cut Mimosa trees down because they are poisonous. I’m not sure why they believe that, but in traditional Chinese medicine, the pink flowers and bark are used to relieve depression and lift a person’s spirits. They call it “happiness bark.”

We are an over-medicated society that gives antidepressants to our children even though they have a long list of negative side effects, including suicide. A society that puts its children at risk to control behavior has lost its way. On the other hand, Mimosa bark presents an inexpensive alternative treatment for grief without the dangerous side effects of pharmaceuticals.

Peace out,

Robert

Strong to the Finish

Maybe I watched too many Popeye cartoons as a kid, but I love spinach.  I’m sure you remember his signature song, “I’m strong to the finish because I eats me spinach, I’m Popeye the sailor man, toot, toot!”

I eat it in salads and wilted with onion and garlic as a side dish, but did you know there is a common weed that has seven times more vitamin E than spinach? It’s commonly called Purslane and you can find it throughout the summer growing wild. Like nature’s magic, it pops up in disturbed soil.

Of course, chemical companies classify it as a noxious weed even though it is also loaded with six times the beta-carotene as a carrot, as well as significant amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, and riboflavin.

It is tasty and nutritious adding a slight lemony tang to your salads, so does it make any sense to kill it, instead of eating it?

Peace out,

Robert

Dandelion Fields

The home improvement store had a bewildering number of herbicides, all promising to rid my lawn of noxious weeds. I wanted something safe, but effective, to get rid the dandelion invasion taking over my front lawn.

“What are we killing today?” asked the sales clerk.

I was shocked by his question. I’m not a killer. While he was making his sales pitch, I was struggling with an existential crisis. The more I thought about it, the more I realized I was on a killing mission that felt wrong to me. Did I really need or want a lawn devoid of all life except for Kentucky Bluegrass? The answer was no and I walked out of the store empty-handed.

Today, I use dandelion leaves in my salads and make tea from its roots. Herbalists say it provides liver support and many other health benefits. Some call it a great spring tonic. I’ve made peace with dandelion and no longer believe it is a noxious weed.

Peace out,

Robert