I’m beginning to gather my annual and perennial medicinal herbs to plant out in my garden and/or in pots. In the photo above (left) I have comfrey, viola, calendula, mint varieties, Herb Robert, yacon, and nasturtiums ready to plant. In the pots, I have strawberries and lavender. Below are pictures of my herb garden, comfrey, and Herb Robert.
I like to plant mint and comfrey in pots as both of these species can take over the garden very quickly if left to their own devices. Comfrey will re-grow from the most minuscule piece of root left under the earth. A trick I’ve used in the past is to plant them in good sized pots, dig a hole in my garden and put the whole pot, with the plant potted inside into the hole. This method prevents the roots from escaping and the plant taking over the garden. They then become part of the herb garden and stay within their boundaries.
My little herb garden has been fertilised, mulched and left over winter. It’s now ready to plant out. This garden gets lots of sun in the summer so I have another little garden space for shade-loving plants like Herb Robert (above). My climate is sub-tropical, therefore the herbs I’m planting grow well in this climate. It is best to do some planning and figure out which plants will be happy planted in your garden bed and which ones would prefer a pot outside or even inside on the kitchen windowsill. I planted my lavender in a pot so I can control how much water it gets. Lavender does not particularly like the humid, sub-tropical climate or wet feet. My strawberries are in pots on the edge of my garden bed as strawberries are another plant that spreads rapidly and takes over. I only have a small herb garden so I have to plan it out well. I like to have a low maintenance, easy to manage garden. Everything comes down to how much space is available in your garden and what you choose to plant. It is important not to overcrowd the garden and to leave space for each plant to stay healthy and to grow to its optimum size…especially if you are using the plant medicinally.
Companion planting is also something I like to do. I know that nasturtiums and calendula like kale so I will plant a few kale plants with them. I’ve learned that kale isn’t keen on strawberries so I will keep the strawberry pots well away from the kale. Mint is good around cabbage and tomatoes but not parsley or chamomile. Lemon balm is often called bee balm as it attracts bees that pollinate other plants in the garden. Check out companion planting as a diverse mix of plants that are compatible makes for a healthy and beautiful herb garden.
Nature’s Creation Book and Cards have lots of good information about many of the available herbs and how to use them medicinally. www.naturescreation.biz
Herb Robert (Geranium robertianum) or Saint Robert’s Herb is a European woodland geranium with an extremely long history as a valuable medicinal herb. It had all but disappeared from medicinal herb gardens. However, with its amazing healing qualities, this little herb is making a well-deserved comeback.
Very little information is written on Herb Robert’s healing constituents but this special plant has repeated time and time again, that it has supreme therapeutic qualities. It has proven that it has the capabilities to enhance the immune system. Research has established that the source of germanium in Herb Robert is a beneficial element in the body…having the ability to make oxygen available to the cells. This ability gives the body the opportunity to fight disease enabling the cells to regenerate and heal quickly. Free radicals cause a lack of oxygen in the cells and disease such as cancer can manifest.
Germanium’s outstanding effects on the immune system have been well documented in medical journals. As an adaptogen herb, it increases the body’s resistance to stress, trauma, anxiety, and fatigue. Adaptogens generally work by strengthening the immune system, nervous system and/or glandular system…helping to boost, balance and normalise functions in the body. Herb Robert has earned a reputation as a cure for cancer with testimonials to back up the claims.
This is a herb that can be of great benefit and used daily. The plant provides vitamins A and C, as well as B. It is full of minerals such as iron, sodium, potassium, phosphorus, manganese, and calcium. Fresh leaves and flowers can be steeped to make a tea or dried and stored to use throughout the winter months as a tea or tossed into salads as a nutrient booster. The root can also be dried and used.
If we can do one thing to benefit our overall well-being we should focus on maintaining vigorous gut health. I ended up with fairly severe gut issues because I ignored the obvious signs of food intolerances and allergies. I continued eating gluten loaded food (because I love crispy French bread) and dairy until my gut said, “NO MORE!” I began to listen after I was tested for food intolerances and allergies and clearly explained the dire consequences of continuing to eat these foods. Most of us have an idea of what foods our gut likes and deep down we know which ones we are intolerant of. However, we tend to ignore the signs because we love our food and we really don’t want (or know how) to change anything. I was aware I had gut issues with certain foods but I didn’t realise how much damage I was creating by continuing to eat these foods. When I developed arthritis along with my gut issues, I decided it was time to get to the root cause and make whatever changes necessary.
Researchers have discovered that a lesser known nervous system in our guts (our “second brain”) communicates with the brain in our head. Together, “our two brains” play a key role in certain diseases in our bodies and overall health.
If you have been having gut issues for a while and none of the recommendations below help, I suggest you look into having food intolerance and allergy testing. I recommend going to a Naturopath or Integrative MD to find out your options. Also, look into having an analysis that will identify parasites, abnormal bacteria, yeasts and other gastrointestinal issues, which will help you create a supplement plan.
Excerpts from Kris Carr’s – 7 Ways to Improve Gut Health
Your gut holds trillions of bacteria that help process your food, produce nutrients, and fight disease. In fact, there are ten times more bacteria in your gut than cells in your entire body! Balanced gut bacteria is fundamental to overall health. Since what you eat, drink and think affects the environment in your gut. Your daily choices play a critical role in whether those trillion plus bacteria help or hinder your wellbeing.
But when the harmful bacteria stage a revolt, all hell breaks loose. They totally gum up the works and cause painful problems like inflammation and infection, which can then lead to health issues such as constipation, candida, allergies, arthritis, headaches, depression, autoimmune diseases and more.
Medications (especially antibiotics and antacids), environmental toxins and chemicals, stress and illness greatly affect the ratio of good to bad bacteria. When bacteria is wiped out indiscriminately, the good guys get mowed down, giving the bad guys a chance to increase their ranks. Hello, chronic health issues.
The food you eat also affects the ratio of good to bad bacteria. Everything you consume is processed and either absorbed into your body or eliminated via your gut. Your gut completes the amazing task of digesting your food and pulling the nutrients, vitamins and minerals out of the food so that they can be absorbed into your bloodstream.
Your gut is a major component of your immune system.
Did you know that about 60-70% of your immune system lives in your gut?
Meet your GALT, also know as gut-associated lymphoid tissue. Your GALT lies just below the mucosal lining of the gut wall. It’s very thin (only one cell thick!), and most importantly — it’s integral to your immune system. The GALT contains specialized immune structures called Peyer’s patches that are filled with immune cells, such as B cells and T cells, which are responsible for recognizing and neutralizing harmful bacteria. When pathogenic bacteria visits your gut via food or your environment, the Peyer’s patches trigger your immune response to prevent them from passing through the gut wall.
Another way your gut protects you from infection and disease is through an abundance of healthy bacteria.
To keep harmful bacteria from overthrowing your gut, healthy bacteria need to thrive and cover your gut wall — the only thing standing between everything inside your gut and your bloodstream. It helps to imagine that your gut wall is a parking lot. There are a limited number of “parking spots” along your gut wall. You want good bacteria parked in those spaces so bad bacteria is crowded out. Keep those spaces filled by adopting the following gut health.
Now that you know how important your gut health is to your overall wellbeing, how can you take care of your spectacular gut?
1. Take a probiotic supplement: A daily probiotic supplement will help boost the good bacteria in your gut, keeping the bad guys under control, boosting your immune system and easing digestive issues. This is especially helpful when you’re taking a medication, such as an antibiotic that has wiped out a large amount of gut bacteria. Any health food shop can recommend a probiotic.
2. Eat probiotic whole foods: You can also eat whole foods that are fermented and contain large amounts of good bacteria. Sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, microalgae and coconut kefir are fantastic plant-based probiotic-rich foods. When looking for probiotic-rich foods, avoid vinegar-based and/or pasteurized varieties, since these elements kill good bacteria. You want to pick up (or make!) lacto-fermented probiotic foods (FYI–this is a plant-friendly approach, no whey is necessary). If you’re interested in making your own probiotic foods, Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz is a popular book on the subject. Word to the wise: Get educated on fermenting at home before diving in–it can be risky if you don’t know what you’re doing!
3. Eat prebiotic whole foods: Certain foods feed and support the growth of good bacteria. By eating more whole, plant-based, fibre-filled foods, you’re fuelling the bacteria that support your health. Raw onions, garlic, dandelion greens, artichokes, and bananas are some of the best prebiotic foods to add to your diet.
4. Eat regularly, but not constantly (eat your last meal of the day preferably before 6pm): To give your gut a chance to clean up and clear out bacteria and waste, it needs a rest from digestion. Every 90 minutes to two hours, the smooth muscle in your intestines move and groove to keep bacteria and waste truckin’ through your digestive tract. But this process is put on hold every time you eat. Can you see why snacking constantly slows down digestion and contributes to bacterial overgrowth? I’m not saying that you need to fast for long periods — eating regularly helps prevent constipation and bloating — but it’s best to take breaks between meals.
5. Stay hydrated: A good rule of thumb for staying hydrated is drinking half your body weight in ounces of water each day. For example, if you weigh 130 pounds, you should drink about 65 ounces of water. That’s about eight 8-ounce glasses of water. Your gut needs water to keep bacteria and waste moving through your digestive system, which will help prevent constipation and bloating. When you’re dehydrated, these issues can throw off the balance of bacteria in your gut and lead to inflammation. Give your gut a hand and drink more H2O!
6. Cut out refined sugar and processed foods: When you consume processed, sugar-laden, refined foods, you’re giving bad bacteria an all-you-can-eat buffet, which increases the likelihood of developing gut issues and associated illnesses.
7. Reduce stress: The brain and the gut are closely connected and communicate with each other. When you experience chronic stress, your brain goes into fight or flight mode, causing your digestion and blood flow in the gut to slow down, the muscles that push along waste and bacteria to freeze up and the secretions for digestion to decrease. All of these stress responses equal a poorly functioning gut! Take care of your gut health by coping with stress through breath work, yoga, meditation, therapy, time in the outdoors and the countless other stress reduction techniques available to you.
The scientific definition of the term “ecology” relates to the study of the interrelationships and interactions between living things and their environments. In Deep Ecology the central idea is that people are an essential part of the planet and not just separate and detached observers. Deep Ecology emphasizes the interdependent nature of human and non-human life as well as the importance of the ecosystem and natural processes.
Definition of Yoga
The root of the word Yoga is yuj, meaning “to join, to yoke, to concentrate one’s attention”. Yoga is a method of practice leading to a conscious union of the human being with universal existence, internally and externally. This includes practices, philosophy, and lifestyle to achieve peace, power, spiritual wisdom along with perfect health, a sound mind, and a balanced personality.
Practicing Yoga with awareness of Deep Ecology is working with the forces of nature, which are not just material energies but powers of consciousness. Working with the forces of nature occurs at both internal and external levels. Internally, we need to balance the forces of our own nature as body, mind, breath, and spirit. Externally, we need to harmonize ourselves with the world of nature and with the Cosmic Spirit behind it. Each one of us is a manifestation of the entire universe and only when we discover the universe within ourselves can we really understand our purpose in life.
Yoga is a way of harnessing the secret powers of nature within us to manifest our own higher natural potentials for a greater awareness. This requires a very deep connection with the world of nature in body, mind, and heart. It cannot be done mechanically or en masse, nor made into a franchise. It requires an individual orientation to the living world, which is not just human society but all that is. We cannot truly think or live yogically without doing so in an ecological way as well.
Check out Anahata Yoga Retreat NZ for their October 2018 Permaculture & Yoga course. Combine Yoga, Permaculture and Deep Ecology for an unparalleled experience. www.anahata-retreat.org.nz
Yoga (inner ecology) & Permaculture (outer ecology) – A Foundation for a Healthy & Sustainable Life
The outer environment is in danger from global warming, pollution, and myriad chemicals. As our toxic outer world spins out of control we become aware of the environmental dangers of disturbed emotions, disease, negative and aggressive thinking.
The external environment is a reflection of the environment within our bodies. When the external environment and ecology is out of synch, our inner ecology is also affected. The mental and emotional pollution within us needs to be restored and harmonised just as the outer pollution does. Yoga practices can restore the inner ecology and Permaculture practices can restore the outer environment and ecology…bringing back harmony and balance internally and externally. The two are intricately connected.
For inner and outer ecology we have to consider the food we are consuming…the soil and how the food is grown. If the food we eat is impure then our mind and thinking will be impure also. Food has a tremendous influence on our mind. It forms the mind as well as the body. If our environment is sick and depleted, we will become sick and depleted also. Through yoga we realize that it is our duty and responsibility to look after the two gifts we have been given, namely, the environmental complex upon which we depend for our survival, and the body-mind complex in which we live.
Combining Yoga & Permaculture is a foundation for a complete approach to living a sustainable and healthy life. Anahata Retreat in NZ invites you to join us in November for a unique Yoga & Permaculture Design Certificate course to learn how to balance these two important aspects of a sustainable, healthy life.
The last Permaculture & Yoga Course held at Anahata Yoga Retreat, New Zealand was such a huge success that we are offering the same course again this October.
When British explorer, Captain Cook landed in Botany Bay, Australia in 1770 the Gwyeagal people inhabited the land around Botany Bay at that time. The Aboriginal people had a deep knowledge of native edible and medicinal plants passed down from generation to generation over thousands of years. They shared some of their secret knowledge with Captain Cook and his party, including botanist, Joseph Banks. The British spent a great deal of time studying and experimenting with the native botanicals. Melaleuca alternifolia and Melaleuca quinquenervia were amongst the plants studied and sketched by botanist, Joseph Banks.
Approximately 230 species of Melaleuca are indigenous to Australia and vary, depending on the species, from small shrubs to 30 metre tall trees. Melaleuca alternifolia is indigenous to northern New South Wales and Queensland and now most of the commercial Tea Tree comes from this region and this species. Melaleuca quinquenervia is indigenous to the East coast of New South Wales and Queensland usually along watercourses and swamps.
Tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) and Niaouli (Melaleuca quinquenervia) are members of the Myrtaceae plant family and are related to myrtle, clove, and eucalyptus. Although in the same family Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) should not be confused with Niaouli (Melaleuca quinquenervia). Tea Tree has needle-like leaves whilst Niaouli is commonly known as broadleaf paperbark. However, both varieties have strong medicinal qualities and similar chemical properties. Tea tree oil has highly effective antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, and antiviral properties. It is great for acne, athlete’s foot, contact dermatitis or head lice.
The Aboriginal people of Australia had multiple uses for Melaleuca quinquenervia. The bark was peeled off in layers and is used for shelter, bedding, containers, storing and cooking food, fire tinder, watercraft, fish traps and wrapping the deceased. In traditional medicine, an infusion from leaves was drunk, inhaled or used for bathing to treat coughs, colds, congestion, headache, fever, and influenza. Today…Melaleuca quinquenervia is known for its strong antiseptic and stimulating qualities. It is still extensively used to clear infections such as bronchitis, catarrh, and sinus, as well as acne, boils, burns, ulcers and cuts. It is known for its analgesic, antiseptic, bactericide, insecticide, decongestant and ability to treat intestinal worms.
If you waking up after a good sleep still feeling tired or constantly struggling with fatigue, or if you feel like you’re never able to catch up on sleep, this could be a warning sign that you have some level of adrenal fatigue or ‘burnout’. Feeling overwhelmed, stressed and anxious can be a sign of adrenal fatigue also, as well as a cause.
Adrenal burnout is not uncommon as most of us have experienced it at one time or another. People under stress from working long hours, eating poorly, skipping meals, lack of sleep or relaxation time are considered at high risk of developing adrenal exhaustion at some stage. Pain and chronic inflammation are also indicators. Cortisol levels become depleted due to long-term periods of stress. Cortisol is the hormone involved in the regulation of metabolism in the cells and helps us regulate stress within the body.
Effects of Adrenal Fatigue:
Sleep quality – still feeling constantly tired after what feels like a good night’s sleep.
Depression, foggy mind and memory problems.
Muscle and joint function.
Weight gain and inability to lose weight – when cortisol is out of balance the body will store fat rather than burn it for fuel.
Digestive/gut problems – manifesting as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), indigestion, heartburn or intestinal parasites.
Skin regeneration and premature aging
What can we do to maintain healthy adrenals?
Drink green juice daily
Eat loads of vegetables, especially spinach, kale, and broccoli. These are great for the adrenal glands, along with seaweed. Seaweed contains iodine and other minerals that can support the adrenals and help normalize elevated adrenal secretion.
Reduce stress…take up yoga. Learn to meditate and breathe correctly.
· Adaptogenic herbs such as tulsi, ashwagandha, licorice root, and ginseng are all excellent in supporting healthy adrenal function as they increase the bodies resistance to stress, trauma, anxiety and fatigue. Adaptogens generally work by strengthening the immune and nervous systems…helping to balance and normalise functions in the body.
Avoid: caffeine, dairy, alcohol, gluten, soy, and sugar as much as possible
You can read about these adaptogenic medicinal herbs in Nature’s Creation – Knowledge & Guidance through Healing Plants book/cards. Instructions for a yogic guided meditation called Yoga Nidra and Pranayama (breath balancing exercises) are also in the book. I recommend both these practices daily to assist in health and wellness and bringing a feeling of relaxation and peace to the body.
THIS EARTH IS PRECIOUS – Thought to be part of a speech by “Chief Seattle” 1854
Whether these words are actually from a speech by Chief Seattle or not is of no consequence. The meaning behind the words is as powerful and valid today as it was in 1854. I wonder if humanity will ever listen to the call for help from Mother Nature and the Earth …or will we wait until it’s too late to make sustainable changes.
Every part of the earth is sacred to my people.
Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every clearing and humming insect is holy in the memory and experience of my people. The sap which courses through the trees carries the memories of the red man. The rivers are our brothers, they quench our thirst. The rivers carry our canoes, and feed our children.
The white man’s dead forget the country of their birth when they go to walk among the stars. Our dead never forget this beautiful earth, for it is the mother of the red man.
We are part of the earth, and it is part of us.
The perfumed flowers are our sisters; the deer, the horse, the great eagle, these are our brothers.
The rocky crests, the juices in the meadows, the body heat of the pony, and man…all belong to the same family.
We know that the white man does not understand our ways. One portion of land is the same to him as the next, for he is a stranger who comes in the night and takes from the land whatever he needs.
Teach your children what we have taught our children, that the earth is our mother. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth. If men spit upon the ground, they spit upon themselves. This we know. The earth does not belong to man; man belongs to the earth. All things are connected.
Nature’s Creation – Knowledge & Guidance through Healing
Classified as a bitter herb with cool energy, Dandelion is one of the most nutrient-rich plants in nature. All parts of the plant are edible. The young leaves can be steamed or eaten raw in salads, the flowers made into tasty wine and the roots can be eaten as a vegetable or made into a nutritious coffee substitute.
The root of the Dandelion contains beneficial sources of vitamins A, C, and D as well as B-complex. It also contains the minerals zinc, iron, and potassium. Dandelion root provides a high antioxidant value to the diet. Traditionally Herbalists have used Dandelion to enhance the body’s eliminative and detoxifying functions. It is a powerful tonic for liver dysfunction, purifying the blood, treatment of anemia, constipation, rheumatism, gallbladder problems, inflammatory skin conditions, gout and a successful treatment for high blood pressure by eliminating excess fluids from the system. All parts of Dandelion contain strong, natural, diuretic properties.
Chicory has been cultivated for thousands of years. It resembles Dandelion in its deep taproot and both Dandelion and Chicory have many of the same medicinal properties. Together, the dried root of both plants can be chopped and roasted to make a herbal coffee substitute.
Lately, I’ve been drawn to Dandelion/Chicory coffee…whether my body is telling me I need it medicinally or because I’m just loving the taste of the drink…or maybe both reasons. I’m not sure. I’ve been drinking it as a hot coffee substitute drink and an iced drink in the summer. It’s my new favourite drink.
Here’s my recipe: For a hot drink
One heaping teaspoon roasted Dandelion & Chicory root in a mug
Add boiling water to fill the mug about 1/3 full
Stir and steep for 5-10 minutes
Add honey to taste
Add some almond or soymilk to fill the mug
Then: Pour through a fine strainer into a small pot and reheat.
For an iced drink:
Follow steps 1 through 5
Then: Pour into a large, tall glass and add almond or soymilk to fill the glass ¾ full.
Add 2-3 tablespoons of vanilla coconut ice cream or any preferred vanilla ice cream.
As the ice cream melts, the drink becomes smooth and creamy. Stir and enjoy.
Note: You can find Roasted Dandelion or Roasted Dandelion/Chicory root in most Health Food Stores sold as a coffee substitute.