What We Know...
In times like these, it's important to keep your mind open, your soul grounded, and your body deeply nourished. With all of the conflicting information out there, learning to listen to your body is important...we've never needed our truth meters more!
I wanted to make a post to share what I feel to be good protocols in regards to "IT" and to talk a little bit about what's out there.
1. Elderberry Syrup: Yay or Nay?
There have been numerous studies on elderberry and it's efficacy against colds and flu. One study suggests it shortens the duration of colds and flu by 3 to 4 days! (Barak V, Halperin T, Kalickman I.) Another talks about how elderberry works by binding with the flu virus so it (the virus) cannot gain entry into the cell to replicate (Roschek, B et al. Phytochem. 2009; 70(10): 1255-61). All of that sounds great! But early on in the pandemic, there were stories about how elderberry induced cytokine storms and was making "IT" worse. It is important to note that all of the studies done with elderberry (including the study that said that elderberry compounds incited deadly cytokine storms) have been in vitro studies. This means, they were done in a petri dish not in a living body. All of this information then needs to be seen within this lens and balanced with what we know from real life, anecdotal evidence which doesn't get a lot of credence in the western medical mindset...but in my opinion does not lessen it's value.
All of that noted, people have been using the antioxidant rich elderberry for generations with much success. The very study that many cited to claim elderberry was dangerous for "IT" shows that it does activate cytokine activity, but not all of that is negative. Cytokines are an integral part of our immune response! Not all inflammation is bad, it is the first stage of healing. In certain predisposed people, cytokine reactions can spiral out of control and this is not good. So, how do we know if we one of those people? What I have been telling people the past 2 years is simple...use your elderberry syrup to support your health and immune response. If you are exposed or test positive for "IT", stop taking your elderberry and switch gears. Just to err on the side of caution.
2. Supporting the whole body.
Be well friends.
2 quarts filtered water
5 sticks of astragalus
3 slices reishi mushroom
1 inch knob of ginger, sliced
Simmer for 2 hours on medium heat to reduce by half. Stain and set aside. Save astragalus and reishi to add to your wassail!
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 whole head garlic, minced
1 quart chicken bone broth (see recipe in fall book)
2 cups shiitake mushrooms or maitake, sliced
2 green onions, sliced as garnish
Saute onions and garlic in olive oil. Add bone broth and mushroom/ginger reduction from above and simmer for about 30 minutes. Add sliced shiitakes/maitakes toward the end of cooking. Season with mineral salt and pepper to taste and garnish
This soup is a delicious and deeply nourishing. If food was ever medicine...this is it.
Enjoy in radiant health,
First off, I’d like to apologize for my absence…at events, markets as well as though my newsletter. It’s been a rough year so far filled with loss and change, nothing that I could have anticipated last summer when I got to spend so much quality time with the plants and making wild food and medicine for you.
In November, I said goodbye to my dog Maddy Jo. She had lived a long and full life but she was 15 and suffering and it was time. It was sad but not unexpected. What follows was completely unexpected…About 2 weeks after Maddy Jo transitioned, my beloved Rosie dog stopped eating. We never really knew her age because she came to us off the streets…I just assumed that we had at least 3 to 4 more years with her. That, unfortunately was not meant to be. She contracted Lyme which attacked her kidneys and sent them into acute failure. We spent the winter solstice with her, loving her and on Dec 22 we let her go. I still cannot talk about it without crying. She was my soul mate. She taught me what it meant to love unconditionally. I have never felt a loss more profoundly in my life. In January, I got the call that my Dad had had a heart attack. It was said to be a small one but as so often happens in a hospital setting…things cascaded and he passed on January 23. At the end of March, my mother who has Alzheimer’s fell and broke her hip. I have been living here since, in my parent’s home, caretaking her.
Nothing about this path is easy for any of us. But we try every day to make the best of the situation we find ourselves in…hoping that we do not lose ourselves in the process. Finding myself disconnected from everything I know, my land, my gardens, the wild areas I am bonded with, my community, has been challenging. Not having an income to support my daughter and myself has made it even more difficult. We both miss our life. But we know this is a temporary situation as life continues to flow, it only feels like stasis. I’d like to lead into a short discussion on the plants that have been my allies in this journey and what they have taught me…but if I’m being honest, my grief clouds me. Sure, motherwort is always my closest ally but even she has had difficulty piercing the fog around my heart and finding my soul in the abyss. Breathing, spending time outside playing with my new puppy Luka, doing Yoga and practicing EFT have all served to keep me grounded. For now, I just wanted to check in to let you know that I have not actually fallen off the planet, even though it certainly feels like it some days.
I am here, my store is open even though inventory is low. Filling orders is perhaps the most fulfilling activity right now, it feels good to be reminded of my purpose and to feel in service. I will be back fully at some point and I hope to see you then. I am working on a piece about Goldenrod for you, it should be ready next week.
Kindred Root is now offering an Herbal CSA!
Community Supported Agriculture is a fun way of supporting your local farmer/herbalist while enjoying the bounty of the season in new and unique ways! Buying a seasonal share up front allows me to invest more deeply in my business, so I can better support my community.
What can you expect in the share?
Seasonal goodies from my yard and kitchen to your home. Wild foods, wild medicines, an herbal project and a chapter from one of my EarthDeva Oracle Books! It's an herbal adventure! Get all of the delicious details here!
An Elixir for the Heart
I created this elixir in cooperation with Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca). In the summer months, when Motherwort is vibrant and plentiful, I spend many moments sitting with her, absorbing her wisdom and guidance. She is the embodiment (or emplantment, if you prefer) of the Great Mother and she fulfills her role beauty-fully. Always present, patient and loving and when she needs to be firm and sharp. She is not afraid to set boundaries. She is not afraid to employ tough love. Motherwort pulls no punches and as such her medicine/lessons can sometimes be difficult to take. She will tell you what you need to hear even if you don't want to hear it. She is a powerful heart opening presence. She will not allow you to hide, to slack, to be less than you are...her expectations are high, not based on her own need but from her deep knowing of your heart and your soul. She longs to feel you in love with all of life, glowing radiantly and prospering abundantly. The Motherwort herb grows wildly and abundantly in my backyard and is gathered mindfully.
Hawthorn (Crateagus sp) was called in for her gooey grandmother energy. She, too will tell you what you need to hear but she will do so while you are sitting in her warm soft lap eating a warm fresh baked cinnamon roll. She takes the edge off...she is the honey that sweetens the hatchet...she is the spoonful of sugar that helps the medicine go down. Grandma makes it all better. She is like a balm for your broken heart, filling the cracks and patching the shards with love.
Wild Rose (Rosa acicularis) is an important ally for all matters of the heart. She is the great heart opener, she is the "one ring that rules them all!" Rose is an amplifier and a cozy-maker...she not only makes the other herbs more powerful but she marries them into a happy union. Rose acts like a great big hug around the whole remedy. The wild rose petals used in this elixir grow abundantly in the meadow across from my home. She is gathered mindfully.
St. John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum) was invited because she is uplifting and enlightening...she is pure, radiant Solstice sunshine. When you are processing the deep grief and sadness and hurts often held in the heart, it is important to have a lightness of the mind in order to ease the task. The St. John's Wort used grows wild all over my property and in the meadow across the street. She is gathered mindfully over a period of weeks around the Solstice.
Self Heal (Prunella vulgaris) is a lovely agent of self healing. She is here to remind us of our body's ability to heal itself. She is gathered mindfully from my medicine wheel garden and from the lawns of many friends.
The perfect blend to support and love your heart.
Be a Dandelion!
Real ingredients make the best tea! Did you know that many of the chai teas on the market are artificially flavored? Yuck.
Chai tea dates back 5000 years to India and the courts of Siam...I doubt they used chemically formulated chai flavoring in the King of Siam's tea...Chai tea was created on order of the King for a healing beverage.
Chai-tality has a strong base. Chaga, dandelion root, burdock root and astragalus root all serve to restore your base vitality, building strength in immunity. But it also adds a strong flavor base...deeply woodsy which pairs nicely with the powerful whole aromatic herbs--real ginger, cinnamon chips, cardamom, allspice, cloves, peppercorns, orange zest, licorice root, and vanilla bean--are all warming and balancing to the body. Using real spices also contributes powerful antioxidants to aid the body in fighting cancer-causing free radicals. Ginger is great for calming an upset stomach as well as helping (with the others) to stimulate digestive enzyme production. Chai spices are also stimulating to the body therefore giving you a great caffeine-free pick me up whenever you need it! The spices also satisfy those sweet cravings, helping to curb the urge for that cinnamon roll!
Both burdock and dandelion root contain inulin, an important pre-biotic which feeds the beneficial flora that reside in our gut.
This chai is made via decoction. That means you boil your tea to reduce the volume by half before straining and serving. Each batch can be re-brewed at least one time.
The Herbal Grinder
"Let your food be your medicine" is an old adage the gets thrown around quite a bit. In fact, we've all heard it so much that many times when used, we just glaze over and no longer really feel what it truly means.
Eating is a joyful act. For many of us, it is a passionate act. Taking our medicine? Not so much. What if we could combine the two acts? What if taking our medicine was joyful and passionate and we actually looked forward to it? How would the energy change? Our thoughts and feelings are potent catalysts to our overall state of well-being. They are creative energy. So if our food is our medicine, then taking our medicine becomes a joyful, passionate act. An act of deep self-loving. This energy can amplify the potency of our medicine on our body.
How can we do this? A simple and delicious way is to start with my Herbal Grinder! By adding a little bit of herbal medicine to each meal, we are combining our medicine with our joy and passion! With each bite, we are enhancing our food and supporting our body. In this case, we are supporting our digestion and our liver.
Milk Thistle Seed (Silybum marianum), Dandelion Root (Taraxacum officinale) and Burdock Root (Arctium lappa) are all gentle liver tonifiers. Their actions are gentle enough for daily use and allows for a consistent flow of healing and support to stream through your liver. And in this world, our livers need all the help they can get!
Milk Thistle Seed (Silybum marianum) has been shown by research to protect liver cells from chemical damage. According to herbalist David Hoffmann in his book Medical Herbalism (2004), "Well designed clinical research thoroughly supports the efficacy of milk thistle seed in protecting and treating the liver. Studies confirm that the herb can restore liver function impaired by disease, such as viral hepatitis or by exposure to toxins, including ethanol, mushroom toxins, solvents, acetaminophen and pyschotropic medications."
Dandelion Root (Taraxacum officinale) is considered both a hepatic (has action upon the liver) and a cholagogue (promotes discharge of bile from the gall bladder) and so may be helpful for inflammation and congestion of the liver and gall bladder. According to Finley Ellingwood, author of the American Materia Medica and renowned Eclectic physician, Dandelion root is recommended for chronic jaundice.
Burdock Root (Arctium lappa) According to herbalist Matthew Wood, burdock stimulates the gallbladder, liver, thyroid and adrenal cortical functions, encouraging the digestion and metabolism of fats and proteins. Burdock helps to restore the primal blueprint of health, so to speak, when it has been lost in persons suffering from long, chronic illness. He quotes David Hoffmann (2004, 528) saying burdock will “move the body to a state of integration and health.” Burdock is an alterative (blood cleanser) and a bitter (stimulates digestion).
The Herbal Grinder is completed with organic peppercorns which not only add flavor but enhances the bio-availability of the other herbs in the blend helping them work more effectively. It is also a digestive aid. The last ingredient is Hawaiian Red Sea Salt whose high mineral content provides the trace minerals our body needs as catalysts in all cellular processes. With our commercial chemical farming methods, most of the food that once supplied our trace minerals are depleted.
What Shows Up
Maria is a spiritual writer and a self-love warrior with a deep and diverse background in both the culinary and healing arts. As a teacher, integrative healer, business owner, craft herbalist and cosmic gardener it has been her path throughout her many lifetimes to guide others (by sharing her process) to find strength and direction, gently planting seeds of heart centered, connected awareness. She is most passionate about guiding people to connect with their inner voice, a midwife to the joyful birth of inherent authentic creativity that lives within us all. When she is not busy writing, taking care of the farm or unschooling her feral daughter, she can often be found playing in the woods, communing with the flora and fauna and dancing with the faeries.