Horsetail Happiness

Today’s herbal angel is Horsetail (Equisetum arvense-[literally horse of the grass or meadow] you can always count on Lineas for creativity….NOT)

Equisetum arvense
Photo credit: The Internets (http://luirig.altervista.org/schedenam/fnam.php?taxon=Equisetum+arvense

This is a Silica jackpot with up to 70% found in these plants!! AND Silica is GOLD when it comes to bone formation- which is exactly what I am working on; I currently have 209 bones while the normal adult has 206.  And while I’m trying to piece those four parts back together I require lots of silica, calcium and magnesium. So besides horsetail, I am ingesting TONS of raw spinach (future Popeye the sailor, here) and getting sunshine to absorb that vitamin D that metabolizes Calcium.

And if you’d still like to make use of this intriguing cousin of the fern, the silica is also useful in polishing metal! ( I will use that AFTER the cast comes off to polish the screws keeping my bones in place) .

This plant is also amazing for stopping bleeding and treating ulcers and inflammation. Ironically enough the this plant also contains enzymes (called thiaminase) that can be harmful to horses.

          Does anyone else feel like a doctor when they get hurt and suddenly read up everything there is on their malady? Just call me Doctor Dawn 😉  

 

 

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Coffee Withdrawal…..

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The most delicious of coffees and views

Coffee…..nope unfortunately, coffee is not considered an herb for bone healing and what’s worse, IT actually can negatively affect the repair of your bones, so it’s a no go…for SIX WEEKS. Now, this would be hard for any average American coffee drinker, but humor me with your sympathy for a moment. I have been living in a country with the finest coffee (granted they export most of the best, but I had my go-to people for the best caffeinated goods ;)), and I walked to work through streets where coffee (“tinto”, rather) was wheeled up to you in a cart and handed over for a mere 500 pesos.

              By now your sympathy has run out, I understand, but this means my coffee addiction had risen to nearly 6 cups per day which means cold-turkey coffee cut-off is KILLER. I’ve tried to replace it with teas or even decaffeinated coffee, but it just isn’t the same.

        Anyone who has overcome the powerful clutches of a caffeine addiction, please impart upon me your great wisdom!

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Harvesting Fresh Coffee Beans in Colombia….when I could walk without crutches

Kicking off My Cast With Herbs

          As a blooming ethno-botanist, I will find a herbal cure or experiment with some sort of concoction long before turning to any sort of Western medicine.

        And now that I have some mandatory rest-time (thanks to a shattered ankle and a heavy, fiberglass cast), I have all the time in the world to learn and write more about herbalism!! I appreciate any comments, feedback and input as I am starting to learn!  Particularly as it pertains to piecing my shattered ankle back together and into yoga/running/rock-climbing/hiking/surfing/adventure/whatever-else-I-can-imagine shape!

        For starters, the swelling was miserable for the first few days, (granted I walked for about half an hour on the ankle, thinking it wasn’t broken-I DON’T recommend such a thing). Not to mention, healing can only occur after the swelling has subsided since the swelling decreases the blood flow to the wound site, and the blood is carrying all the necessary nutrients necessary for repair to get to the site(s) of the break. And while elevation and rest are helpful, here’s some splendid herbs that have helped alleviate swelling and hasten the healing. 

turmeric
Raw Turmeric Roots

Turmeric(Curcuma longa for those Lineas fans in the house): It’s pure magic! It’s an incredible herb for it’s anti-inflammatory, anti-parasitic and blood-purifying properties. It can be used to treat digestive issues, parasites, or applied in a paste with chickpeas to speed up healing of cuts (it’s like hummus for your wounds!! YUM!) Thankfully, today, I only need it for the anti-inflammatory properties to bring the swelling of my ankle from size 12 to it’s normal size 8W (I have hobbit feet, don’t judge me), so I’m ingesting it in the form of tonic.

AND did you know that in India, the regular use of Turmeric in cooking is connected with the decreased rates of cardiovascular problems and cancer rates! The only catch is it’s bioavailability. What in the world is that you may ask? It’s the ability for your body to metabolize and use the active ingredients in Turmeric (which in this case is Curcumin (diferuloylmethane)). Typically, in Indian food pepper increases the bioavailability of turmeric, but since I’m not into highly peppered pills, I’m taking the tonic version!

 

Just be careful, turmeric will stain everything you own, which IF you like a yellowy tint to your world, should be just fine!

comfrey
The Lovely Comfrey Flowers

Comfrey (Symphytum officinale-literally meaning “combined together plant officinale) – This is the go-to herb for skin and bone-healing as it was used for this purpose by the ancient Greeks centuries ago. It is typically made into a salve and applied to help everything from wounds and scars to muscle aches and wouldn’t ya’ know it: broken bones. Unfortunately, the doctors glued a giant cast on my ankle to ensure I won’t wiggle this thing around, so I am taking comfrey as a part of a tea, in order to ingest properties from comfrey root that encourage healing from the inside-out.

Comfrey is also essential for reduction of inflammation in the joints, so with Comfrey and Turmeric teaming-up, I have all the swelling to a minimum!

New Adventures, New Families

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Each summer is a new experience and even more than that each summer I get to make a new family.  Whether it’s a group of crazy gals on an Island in Greece, a house full of goofy humans working at SeaWorld Orlando together or a group of urban farming gals as it was this year.

I love my summer families. We talk about everything and tackle life together, day in an day out we share food, fun and frustrations. We argue politics, beliefs, redefine our perspectives and furiously defend our feminism together. And it’s beautiful.

I am elated for one member of last years family to be getting married this fall as I got to be there for the adorable proposal and I got to witness another amazing young woman fight for food security and make it into the New York Times. Another family member is moving to Lebanon to tackle international relations while another is making our world more sustainable. These are some incredible young women and men who inspire me and make the experiences of my summer more incredible and educational than ever before.

This echoes so many experiences in life from internships, to travel to school: it is the people that matter most. From those five second interactions that change your world to those eternal friendships that cover thousands of miles. And this summer just as the summers before (and most certainly the seasons in between) remind me that in the next steps of life, the scary, exciting NEXT that is before me there will always be a new family to be made.

There will be those humans so inspiring and wonderful whose world with collide with my own, and I am so grateful for the humans who are already a part of my world. And as we each adventure off into our own city, country, continent, and worlds, I am so elated to see what each of our journeys hold.

 

Lessons from the Garden:Suckering Tomatoes

It’s 9am in the high tunnels and we are eager to beat the heat. With hundreds of tomato plants to be suckered, we set a pace to get out of this humid houses before 11am. Yes, we are suckering tomatoes. I started laughing when I heard this term, but this is the official term for the removal of those tiny parts of the plant that will grow into new stems and start sprouting their own flowers, which will result in more and more fruit. So, this seems like a good thing, right? Wrong.

These suckers grow so rapidly that, left to their own devices, we would have hundreds of flowers per plant and tons of beautiful green tomato leaves, but the fruit would be tiny and flavorless. Because just as it is in life, in the greenhouses and the botanical world, it’s all about allocation of resources.

As I sort through the rapid excitement of my next steps in life, with visa applications and tickets, I feel the need to ensure that my life be focused on a few, simple parts. If we don’t, we are left with tons of beautiful greenery but no delicious fruit in our lives. And if we’d like to extend that tomato metaphor, the leaves can be toxic, so while beautiful and ethereal in scent ( to my own nose, at least) the effort put into growing so much lush greenery is wasted as an inedible visual delicacy.

Our hours of suckering, gives me plenty of time to visit the important elements in my life. Time spent with plants and in the earth enable me to sort out the priorities. And as we end another successful Monday morning with plants whose fruit will be bountiful, I feel the same is reflected in my own life.

Happy suckering!