I have been interested in and learning about herbal remedies for the past 30 years. While in the past my learning has come reading countless books and attending workshop and classes I found a few years ago an online resource that I’ve found to be excellent. Maybe you’ve heard of them, Learning Herbs.
John and Kimberly Gallagher have created the only herbal online resource of its kind. There is a strong focus on both kids and adults learning how to identify herbs in your own backyard and surrounding areas, what they’re good for, how to process and harvest herbs, and ways herbs are used (in detail too).
The Learning Herbs website is abundantly full of free and paid lessons, educational products (I love their herbal Board game called Wildcraft – which I will write about in a future blog post), an Herbal Medicine Making Kit, they even have a herb ‘mentoring’ membership site (called Herb Mentor) which is filled with all kinds of content, fantastic how-to video’s, and much more. How I wish this was available when I was a kid (or even as a young adult), I would have devoured everything!
Of particular note for parents of budding herbal remedy maker’s, Learning Herbs even has a special section of interest for kids who want to learn about herbs, it’s called Herb Fairies. In particular what I like most is the way the Gallagher’s approach learning, through ‘cooperation’ – a skill-set that has been making some ground in recent years which I am delighted to find occurring. This is particularly true in the Wildcraft board game that teaches edible and medicinal plants, which by the way is great fun for kids and adults!
My personal feeling about everything that Learning Herbs has available is this, no matter what your age or herbal skill level is there is a lot of terrific information to take your herbal remedy making to the next level. I am a member of their herb mentor membership site and I’m loving it! I also enjoy their webinars and other things they offer. I am also an affiliate of what Learning Herbs offers, I personally utilize and enjoy what they offer and enjoy representing the best of what I find.
Also known as: Rubus fruticosus, Black Berry, Bramble, Dewberry, Goutberry, Rubi Fruticosi Folium, Rubi Fruticosi Radix, Rubus affinis, Rubus plicatus, Thimbleberry.
Blackberries are sweet darkly colored fruits that grow on bushy vines in small clusters known as drupelets. In Britain, the same plant is usually called bramble, because of its prickly thorns. The plant is also known as cloudberry (in northern Europe) and dewberry (in the American South). Blackberry brambles can become quite invasive if left to their own devices.
Many earth based and Wiccan religions claim that blackberry leaves can help return evil to enemies that sent it, and may also help remove evil spirits from your home. Superstition in the United Kingdom holds that blackberries should not be picked after Michaelmass (September 29th) as the devil has claimed them, having left a mark on the leaves by urinating on them. There is some value behind this legend as after this date wetter and cooler weather often allows the fruit to become infected by various molds such as Botryotinia which give the fruit an unpleasant look and possible toxicity.
Blackberry leaves have been traditionally used in herbal medicine as an antimicrobial and for their healthful antioxidant properties. A laboratory study published in the “International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents” in July 2009, conducted by researchers from the University of Siena, Italy, confirmed the usefulness of blackberry leaves for these purposes. Blackberry leaf extract was demonstrated to be effective against Helicobacter pylori, the bacteria associated with causing stomach ulcers. The study identified blackberry leaves as an effective alternative to antibiotics often prescribed to fight H. pylori.
Young blackberry leaves have high levels of antioxidants, or oxygen radical absorbance capacity, according to a study conducted by the U. S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service and published in the “Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry” in February 2000. The USDA study found that the leaves of blackberry and raspberry, the portion of the plant used in tea, were higher in antioxidant compounds than the berries of either fruit.
In this video, herbalist and storyteller Doug Elliott shares the wisdom of Appalachia in performing “Blackberry Boogie” at the three-day RootStalk Herb Festival established by Mountain Rose Herbs
Using Blackberry Leaf as an Herb
Commission E, the German regulatory agency for herbs, has approved blackberry leaf tea for relieving non-specific acute diarrhea. Tannins in the leaves can alleviate this problem, according to Flora Health.
The Commission E advises taking 4.5g of blackberry leaves daily as a tea or other internal supplement.
University of Maryland Medical Center lists a standard dosage of blackberry leaf tea for relieving diarrhea as 1 heaping teaspoon of dried leaves per cup of hot water, and drinking 1/2 cup per hour, and the UMMC recommends talking to a doctor before taking blackberry leaf for treating diarrhea, because certain types of diarrhea can be worsened with herbal treatment.
Both blackberry leaf and sage leaf have long been used in traditional medicine to address a number of illnesses and digestive disorders. Combining the benefits as well as the pleasing flavors of both these leaves into blackberry sage tea creates a delicious beverage with the antioxidant and healing benefits of both blackberry and sage.
Both sage and blackberry leaf are used in traditional medicine for the treatment of gastric distress, including diarrhea and stomach bloating and discomfort. Blackberry leaf is astringent and helps dry up the intestinal membranes to fight diarrhea, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Sage promotes bile flow that aids in the digestion of fats, according to the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension. Sage is also an anti-spasmodic, and helps to prevent the formation of intestinal gas.
Thornless blackberry fruit and leaves have antioxidant properties, according to a study published in the February 2000 issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. The study found that blackberry leaves had higher oxygen radical absorbance capacity than the fruit.
How to Make Blackberry Leaf Tea
There are two ways to extract the medicinal properties of herbs or plants to make tea, infusion or decoction.
When using leaves of blackberry you will want to use the infusion method.
Blackberry Leaf Tea is prepared by adding 2 teaspoons of dried leaves to a cup of boiling water, cover and let steep for 8 minutes then strain.
In order to achieve a greater medicinal effect a decoction can be prepared by using about a handful of dried blackberry leaves in a quart of water. Boil until half of the water boils off. According to medical research, it is recommended to take about 2 to 3 small cups every day. Many say that Blackberry leaf tea has no side effects and it is tea you can drink daily. I would like to add that it is a safe herb for those who are not sensitive to tannins, fortunately most people are not over-sensitive.
Blackberry leaf tea as a compress for wounds and skin rashes: it is recommended to make a compress for treating skin irritations and wounds. The best way is to make a decoction (see above) with the blackberry leaves then soak a cotton cloth in the liquid. Wring out the cloth then lay it over the affected skin area. Cover with a plastic wrap for about 30 minutes. This process can be done several times a day.
Additional Herbal Uses for Blackberry Leaves
Chewing fresh blackberry leaves releases tannins and vitamin C which can soothe and heal canker sores and inflamed gums.
Anthocyanocides contained in blackberry leaves act as powerful antioxidants that are essential for reversing cell damage resulting from free radicals which makes drinking the tea a very useful herb for wellness.
Blackberry leaf tea also helpful in regulating both heavy and light menstrual flow as well as intestinal inflammation since its leaves contains the astringent tannins. It is advisable to blend 2 oz of blackberry leaf tea with 1 oz of peppermint leaves in order to get the most effective relief.
Minor sore throat pain: blackberry leaf tea is recommended for those individuals suffering from sore throat pain as it acts as an anti- inflammatory for both throat and mouth normally caused by cold. Using the decoction method is best because it has a thicker consistency. Honey can be used to sweeten the bitter taste then simply use it as a mouthwash or as a gargle. When symptoms of sore throat are first observed, it is highly recommended to take this tea to prevent increased severity of the condition. Two to three cups of blackberry leaf tea daily is recommended to provide the effect.
Blackberry leaf is also approved in Germany for treating mild inflammation of the mucous membranes of the mouth and throat. This makes it beneficial for relieving sore throat, mouth sores and gum inflammation. For these purposes, it can be used as a gargle, mouthwash or tea.
Tannins, gallic acid, villosin, starch, and calcium oxalate.
Tea Steeping Time Reduces the Bitter Tannin Flavor
Tannins tend to have a ‘bitter’ flavor when the tea is steeped for too long. Therefore, it is recommended for ‘normal’ drinking of the tea that the steeping time not exceed 6 minutes.
Try a test yourself… take two individual cups of hot water and add to it the same amount of Blackberry leaf. Steep one of the cups for 5 minutes and the other for 15 minutes. Taste. Do you taste the difference?
Washes, compresses, and baths. Can be taken internally as a tea, capsule or extract. Leaf is slightly sweet and may be sprinkled on food.
The properties of tannins should always be kept in mind while applying extracts from tannin-rich plants for medicinal purpose. Tannin is basically an astringent that means that it tauten the pores and pulls out liquids from plants. In plants, tannins are large astringents molecules that easily attaches with proteins. To find the truth about these properties of tannins you may try a few small experiments. If you put tannin on your skin, you will witness it to shrink and if you apply if on your face you will notice wrinkles appearing. At the same time, tannins help to draw out all irritants from the skin. These properties impart medicinal qualities to tannin which is applied on the skin to pull out poisons from bee stings or poison oak bringing in instant relief.
The other remedial values of tannins include application on burns to heal the injury and on cuts to stop bleeding. Tannin’s ability to form a strong ‘leather’ resistance on the exposed tissues helps in protecting the wounds from being affected further. While it stops infection from above, internally tannin continues to heal the wound.
In case of third degree burns using strong tannin sources will not only prevent septicemia, but also help to save life. This traditional method has been practiced by most medicos in all countries. On the other hand, when a tannin-rich solution is poured on the flesh, it generates a sealing ‘eschar’ that often helps in growing new skin albeit temporarily. This technique requires repeated washing of the wound with tannins and this helps to eliminate the bacteria too. Hence, tannins are also said to have antiseptic properties. Interestingly, this practice is still followed in the primary health care centers in China and is also recommended as a first-aid treatment at places where emergency medical services are still inadequate or faulty.
Tannins can also be effective in curbing hemorrhages as well as restrict bare swellings. While tannins are proved haemostatics, they are also beneficial when applied on mucosal coating in mouth. Hence, herbs possessing tannins are widely used as mouthwashes, eyewashes, snuff and even as vaginal douches and also treat rectal disorders.
Tannins sour the mucus secretions and contract or squeeze the membranes of the stomach and other digestive parts in such a manner that secretions from the cells are restricted. Tannins’ anti-inflammatory effect helps to control or curb indications of gastritis, enteritis, oesophagitis and irritating bowel disorders. This action is possible by involving lymph stasis and neutralizing the autolytic enzymes.
Conventionally, tannins have also been used to cure diarrhea. Diarrhea can be caused by the irritation of the enteritis or the small intestine and is the reason for many deaths worldwide. Although diarrhea initially affects the large bowel, but a reflex action origination higher up aims at eliminating the disturbing material in the system as early as possible. Diarrhea many be considered to be a healthy action as it helps to remove the unwanted or disturbing substance from the system, but if it prolongs, it may lead to dehydration and nausea often resulting to death. Thus, in order to control the fierceness of diarrhea, application of an effective astringent medicine is recommended. An effective astringent does not stop the flow of the disturbing substance in the stomach, but helps in controlling the irritation in the small intestine.
Blackberry tea contains tannins, plant substances that can have negative effects. Blackberry tea contains hydrolysable tannins such as gallotannins and ellagitannins, which can have toxic effects on the liver in large quantities. Do not drink blackberry tea if you suffer from any type of liver disease without talking to your medical practitioner. Signs of liver damage include yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes, upper right quadrant abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and fatigue.
Tannins can also interfere with absorption of calcium and iron. Taking blackberry tea with milk helps to neutralize its effect on calcium and iron absorption. Adding lemon, which contains vitamin C, also helps to increase iron absorption. Don’t drink blackberry tea at the same time as meals. Low calcium levels could lead to bone disorders such as osteoporosis; low iron levels can cause anemia. Signs of anemia include pallor, weakness, low energy levels and shortness of breath on exertion.
In smaller to ‘normal’ amounts Blackberry leaf tea has no negative warnings and is thought of as a very safe herb to use with the exception of those who are very sensitive to tannins.
Likewise, those who experience shortness of breath and/or nausea after having a Tamiflu shot, this is due to the Tamiflu vaccine being very high in tannins.
With the way things have been going it’s difficult to know whether we will be forced into becoming more self-sustainable or if we will form regional groups on our own and just instinctively begin taking matters into our own hands. In either event I still think it’s a good idea to start making the shift our of consumer driven ways and getting more into functioning as small communities. I was watching PBS Explorer channel the other night and was quite impressed with the work many had done to make spaces in urban and suburban places more community oriented. You can buy the DVD of the four-part series, “Designing Healthy Communities”, and get some good ideas.
Here is a list of resources to help you get started on thinking, living and working towards making your life more rich and remarkable:
CoGenra Solar – they sell solar panels that combine hot water. This is brilliant because solar panels lose efficiency when the temperature of them gets too hot in the sun. By having water flowing through them helps to keep them cooler and much more efficient! This is brilliant!!!
Eliot Coleman Keynote at VABF 2011 – an excellent 90 minute video of Eliot Coleman discussing winter gardening and harvesting, followed with a Q&A. The first 10 minutes is difficult to hear but afterwards they’ve gotten the mic fixed and the sound is fine.
Shoals Creek Village - a newly planned ecovillage in western NC opens its arms to Farmers and Artisans.
New Earth Living – a blog about the Aurora Pocket Neighborhood in Ithaca, NY, an EPA Climate Showcase Community.
“I AM” via GaiamTV.com – I AM is an engaging documentary about Tom Shadyac, a Hollywood director with fame and fortune, and a serious bike accident that turned his world upside down. Seeking answers, Shadyac talks with some of today’s most revolutionary minds, asking them two essential questions: What’s wrong with the world? And what can we do to fix it? Start a 10-day Free Trial and watch this excellent documentary!
Green Bronx Machine: Growing Our Way Into A New Economy – this is the best video out there! So moving and inspirational!!! Watch South Bronx teacher Stephen Ritz give his standing ovation talk at TEDxManhattan. His students have gone from 40% attendance to over 90% – all from his edible food walls.
Sustainable Gardening Ideas for A Better Community – an excellent video by Shawna Coronado of www.shawnacoronad… she and a panel of organic gardeners speaking at Google Chicago on her dramatic and life-changing experience in the natural environment and the sustainable personal health and economically viable community benefits of gardening. Watch to learn some great ideas and get tips on how a garden can change lives.
Desert Harvesters - is a non-profit, volunteer-run, grassroots effort based in Tucson, Arizona striving to promote, celebrate, and enhance local food security and production by encouraging the planting of indigenous, food-bearing shade trees (such as the Velvet mesquite or Prosopis velutina) in water-harvesting earthworks, and then educating the public on how to harvest and process the bounty.
Proper preparation of your dandelion root for wellness is as important as when it is harvested. George Cairns articulates below how this is done properly. I highly recommend following his instructions right down to every last detail. Cairns, near death from cancer, was told by his doctor that he had 6 months to live. Over 90 years old now, Cairns has lived to see over a decade of living cancer-free, he shares his story on how he was guided to use dandelion root powder to release cancer from his body.
The other important consideration here is to harvest the dandelion ‘yourself’ in a place that is free of chemical pollution. Additionally, the dandelion products sold in stores will NOT be of the same quality as if you had done the work yourself, companies making products have price points to meet and thus cannot pay attention to the finest details and it is not known to help those with cancer.
How To make Dandelion Root Powder By George Cairns
To make dandelion root powder, let’s start at the beginning. This would be collecting the seed. The seed is at the base of the white fluffy crown that appears when the yellow flower matures. Blow on them and they fly away. These little seeds do not grow until the next spring. I collect the seeds in May and June, then I put them in the freezer. This way you fool Mother Nature, as the seeds must freeze before they grow. This way you can grow the seed the same year you collect then. Work up the land where you are going to plant them and spread the seeds on top of the ground and rake them in very lightly and water. I usually plant the seeds in August.
I dig up the seedlings the next April. I try to do all my transplanting in April as by the end of April they start blooming, which takes the energy away from making roots. It’s a good thing to pick the buds off for the first couple months. When I did the seedlings up in April, I plant them about 6 inches apart in rows 18 to 20 inches apart. I hoe them when needed and keep the weeds and grass out of them. After about 2 months you won’t be able to hoe as they will cover the ground. Then I pull the weeds and grass out of the bed. Water when needed.
I usually start digging them up in October. By this time some of the roots will be 1 inch in diameter. I shake off most of the dirt and slice lengthwise the bigger roots to about ¼ inch so they will dry evenly. To dry them I use a forced-air incubator without any water in it. I set the incubator at 100 degrees or a little less. It takes about 5 days until they are ready to grind. You can use a dehydrator, set around 100 degrees. If it doesn’t have setting, don’t use it. You can also dry in the sun if you put them in something the wind can blow through, life a small potato or onion sack. Hang them in the sun but take them down in late afternoon and put in a plastic sack and tie it. If you don’t they will pick up moisture and you will be back where you started. Then put them out the next day when the sun in up. Once you have heat in the house, it’s no trouble, as they will dry OK most anywhere there is heat, like near a register or stove. The excess dirt will pop off as they dry. Mother Nature knows how much to leave. If the roots are very clean, add a little dirt, as this powder won’t work without the dirt.
When you make powder, try not to lose anything. Pound the roots flat, then put in an electric coffee grinder for 25 seconds and you have powder. You can also keep pounding and crumbling until you have it the right fineness. What I did for a long time, a friend gave me a cast iron pestle and mortar. With this you can get it down as fine as you wish.
To store, put in an airtight jar and fill as near to the top as possible. I’ve kept it 10 months this way. Also, keep in a dry place.
NOTE: Please save this page, as it won’t be printed again by me. It may save your life or the life of a loved one or a friend. Anyone may reprint this if they print it word for word. ~ G.C.
The Gunnison Sage-Grouse is a spectacular but declining bird of the western sagebrush. It is restricted to seven isolated locations in Colorado and one tiny population in Utah. In early 2013, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service placed it under consideration for listing under the Endangered Species Act. The males have an extravagant spring display in which they puff out their bodies, fan their tails into a starburst, and make low, gurgling sounds with bizarre frog-like air sacs in their chests.
• It takes roughly a millennium to build an inch or two of soil.
• It takes less than 40 years, on average, to strip an inch of soil by farming in ways that are more focused on current yield than on sustaining fertility.
• A third of America’s topsoil has eroded since 1776.
In the 1970s, the United States lost 4 billion tons of soil per year.
• Roughly a third of all farmland in the world has been degraded since World War II, with annual soil erosion worldwide equivalent to the loss of 12 million hectares of arable land, or 1 percent of total arable land.
• About a third of China’s 130 million hectares of farmland is seriously eroded, and Chinese crop yields fell by more than 10 percent from 1999 to 2003, despite increasing application of synthetic fertilizers.
“Soil is not usually lost in slabs or heaps of magnificent tonnage. It is lost a little at a time over millions of acres by careless acts of millions of people. It cannot be solved by heroic feats of gigantic technology, but only by millions of small acts and restraints.” ~ Wendell Berry
"Has it ever occurred to you that beauty depends on something being identified as ugly? Therefore, the idea of beauty produces the idea of ugliness, and vice versa." ~ Wayne Dyer
"Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
"I long to accomplish a great and noble task; but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble." ~ Helen Keller