How to Forage & Process Horsetail For Medicinal Use

Giant Horsetail is common, edible, and medicinal. You’ve probably seen it scattered throughout parks and near roads without knowing it. City dwellers take note–this is a plant  you can usually forage without taking a drive to the woods! Early to mid spring is ideal for foraging horsetail and other delicious shoot vegetables.

Why Forage for Horsetail?

ashley_basil
Courtesy of Ashley Basil

 DELICIOUS

If you get to them early enough, young fertile shoots are a delicious wild vegetable that can be eaten raw. The flavor is juicy and similar to celery without all the stringiness. Fertile shoots are a traditional seasonal delicacy to many indigenous groups, especially on the west coast up through British Columbia.

Shoots should be eaten while young and green. Once they begin to brown, they are no longer palatable. Once leaves appear on the stalk, horsetail is no longer edible, but is great for medicine.

MEDICINAL

Horsetail is full of minerals and trace elements, filters heavy metals and toxins from the body, helps grow and strengthen hair, and increase bone density. It’s also an excellent natural remedy to strengthen and rebuild connective tissues such as the kidneys, lungs, mucus membranes, hair, skin, cartilage, and sinuses.

Horsetail is more than 35% silica, one of the highest percentages in the plant kingdom. Silica is necessary for calcium metabolism and essential for the formation and repair of bone and cartilage. Only a small portion of silica on the Earth is bioavailable to us (able to absorb in the body), however horsetail is a rich source that we can use.

Continue reading “How to Forage & Process Horsetail For Medicinal Use”

How to Harvest & Process Stinging Nettle

Nettle is one of those magical plants that gives us more than the effort we put into harvesting it. It’s no wonder that nettle has been used worldwide for centuries as a potent medicine, documented as far back as Ancient Greece. Nettle can be eaten as a nutrient-dense food, woven into cloth, applied to the skin, drunk as a tea, made into a tincture, or dried and put into capsules.

Growing season is June through September, though in some regions it can be harvested throughout the year.

Medicinal Benefits of Nettle

Nettle contains more protein than nearly all other plant species and is brimming with vitamins and nutrients.

Some useful properties include: anti-inflammatory, astringent, antiseptic, antioxidant, antimicrobial, trophorestorative to kidneys and adrenal glands,  diuretic, promotes neurotransmitters, and more.

Studies have proven that nettle can be used to relieve certain health conditions, including: arthritis, muscular and joint pain, rheumatism, urinary issues, eczema, hay fever, anemia, and more.

NUTRITION CONTENT

1. Vitamins A, B complex, C, E, K
2. Protein
3. Folic Acid
4. Histamine
5. Anti-inflammatory compounds
6. Dietary fiber
7. Neurotransmitters, including 5HTP (serotonin)
8. Iron
9. Calcium

Continue reading “How to Harvest & Process Stinging Nettle”

How to Gather & Process Dandelion Roots in the City

The act of wildcrafting (gathering roots and herbs) is wonderfully good for the soul, especially for city dwellers. Not only does it take me out for a walk, but it also gives me a mission. It makes me feel like a kid when I’d run wild for hours and pretend to be a scientist or a witch, dig up “medicines” from the Earth. It turns out we really can dig up medicines from the Earth, even in the city.

Dandelion root is a great place to start if you’re not familiar with wildcraft. Dandelion is easy to identify and grows almost everywhere.

Below are a few tips and tricks to help you harvest and process dandelion roots.

Medicinal Benefits of Dandelion Root

-Boosts the immune system
-Fights off microbes and fungi
-Rich in vitamin K, C, A, calcium, fiber, potassium
-Also has iron, B6, and magnesium
-Full of antioxidants
-Digestive aid
-Cleans out the kidneys
-Improves liver function
-Helps to regulate blood sugar
-Diuretic
-Lowers cholesterol in animal studies
-Reduces inflammation
-Increases bile production

Continue reading “How to Gather & Process Dandelion Roots in the City”

10 Ways to Reduce Waste in Your Home This Week

My journey towards a zero-waste home wasn’t triggered by thinking about it myself. Nope, the idea came to me after reading an article someone posted on Facebook. It hadn’t occurred to me that there are so many little things I do and use each day that can be done a little differently to reduce or eliminate my waste. It was really just a matter of re-framing the way I view consumption.

If you’re just beginning to think about waste reduction, you might feel like the extra steps are burdensome or more trouble than they’re worth. But seriously, trust me: it gets easier and becomes second nature once you have a handle on what to do. Just do your best and don’t worry if it doesn’t come together all at once.

Here are a few things to get you started:

Continue reading “10 Ways to Reduce Waste in Your Home This Week”

Ornithology Collection at the Burke Museum

In the heart of Seattle’s U-District lives the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture, which celebrated its 125th anniversary this year. It began as a club of young naturalists with a passion for collecting all types of specimens; over time it became a tangible catalog of natural history, a conglomerate of objects that help us see Earth and its creatures over a timeline much longer than our own.  Today the Burke is a hub of research and public education.

img_0359

Before my visit I didn’t realize just how important museums are for preserving natural history and contributing to scientific discovery. What we see in the displays as we browse the aisles is only a tiny percentage of what the museum actually holds. The Burke has one of the largest tissue sample collections in the world, specifically avian tissue samples. With so many specimens at hand, scientists are able to understand how the tissue of, say,  a  modern Pileated Woodpecker differs from that of a 100 year old woodpecker, and so on. Beyond public education, museums are vital in preserving history so that we might study it and understand how our world and the creatures on it change over time.

Continue reading “Ornithology Collection at the Burke Museum”

Earth’s Cleanser: Turkey Vulture

Have you ever bought a new car, and then everyone on the road suddenly had it too? The Turkey Vulture is my new car, so to speak.

After an enlightening visit to the Woodland Park Zoo’s raptor program a couple months ago, my husband and I realized that not every large, dark-colored bird of prey circling above us was a  “hawk” or “eagle”, general terms we’d throw out there because we had nothing else to go on. With our identification skills for raptors lacking and our binoculars far from “good”, it never occurred to us that the alien-looking Turkey Vulture we vaguely knew from childhood books and Westerns would be so prolific in the Pacific Northwest. After our revelation, we noticed those naked red heads and wobbly, V-shaped flight patterns everywhere, even more than hawks and eagles. We’ve become deeply interested in this bizarre creature; its presence is a favorite companion to our car trips and walkabouts now that we know what to look for, and suddenly I find them quite beautiful.

Continue reading “Earth’s Cleanser: Turkey Vulture”

5 Easy Plants to Liven Up Your Apartment

Why Plants?

If you’re like most people I know, you’re an apartment dweller. While apartment living can be a fun and convenient way to live in or near a city, it isn’t ideal for easy access to trees and fresh air. Don’t get me wrong–there’s no greater pleasure in life than spending days in my bath robe watching Lord of the Rings and baking cookies–but allowing enough time outside is vital for a healthy mind and soul. Nature is nourishing. According to the EPA, Americans spend an average of 90% of their time indoors. Even more shocking, air pollutants are 2 to 5 times higher indoors than out. (1)

One of the quickest and most satisfying ways to liven up an apartment (literally) is to add plants to your decor. Not only do plants bring beauty and the feeling of nature to your home, they also provide cleaner air by filtering out toxins.

NASA has lead the way in research on air filtering plants in order to create more habitable living quarters on space stations. Luckily for us, this information applies to our own habitats on Earth. All plants have some purification properties, however some plants are particularly superb at removing the most common household toxins: benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene.

Continue reading “5 Easy Plants to Liven Up Your Apartment”