Recipe: Herbal Spring Elixir
By HWB Member Karin Mecozzi
Taken from her book “Verde resilienza, erboristeria pratica nel cambiamento”, Natura e Cultura Editrice, 2020 by Karin Mecozzi.
Early in the morning, on a dry and windless day, take a beautiful walk in the countryside. Take with you a basket, scissors, and gloves, and as you walk, collect any of the following herbs you may find:
Dandelion leaves, root, or flowers (Taraxacum officinale)
Daisy flower (Bellis perennis)
Chicory (Cichorium intybus)
Poplar buds (Populus spp.)
Bramble leaves (Rubus spp.)
Hazelnut buds (Corylus spp.)
Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris)
Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis)
Mint (Mentha spp.)
Oregano (Origanum vulgare)
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
Wild thyme (Thymus serpyllum)
Willow bark or flowers (Salix spp.)
Yellow bed straw (Galium verum)
Cleavers (Galium aparine)
Herb Robert (Geranium robertianum)
Hawthorn flower (Crataegus monogyna)
Blackberry flower (Rubus spp.)
Or any other springtime herb in your area with purifying and tonic effects – make certain you review reliable texts or ask a local herbalist.
At home, spread your findings on a white cloth, remove dry parts, pieces of earth, pebbles, twigs, insects. Put the leaves, flowers and roots cleaned on a cutting board, then chop them finely. Do this quickly, so as not to lose the juice or living vibrations of the plants. Arrange everything in a glass bowl, cover with equal parts of alcohol, water and honey and mix until blended with a wooden spoon.
Pour into a glass jar container and close tightly. Soak the jar in lukewarm water at 37 ° C (98.6 F) for one afternoon to help with the extraction of constituents (a crockpot on warm, or a yogurt machine can help with this). Afterwards, put the container in a warm place in the dark, soak the herbs for 10 days, and shake daily to mix.
After ten days filter contents through a cheesecloth and pour into dark glass bottles with dropper caps. Apply a label with the date and the names of the herbs you added. After filtering and bottling, let the elixir rest for at least two weeks, then you can use 20 drops two or three times a day, diluted in a little hot water.
The elixir can be kept for one year and is known as concentrate of “viriditas” (Hildegard von Bingen 11th century) - the vital and regenerating force of nature - given by the plants you encounter when you go for a walk.
This regenerative and traditional elixir can be repeated in the fall. Traditionally, this elixir is considered suitable for elderly people, pregnant women and children over 14, simply by decreasing the doses and diluting the drops a little more.
Please do not self dose, please consult an appropriate practitioner, especially if you are pregnant or if you plan to give a spring or fall elixir to a child.
Contribution by Karin Mecozzi.
Karin Mecozzi, Dipl. Herborist, lives in San Severino Marche, in the Apennines, Central Italy. She is Author of books in Italian and German “Ars herbaria, medicinal plants in the rhythm of the year” and “Green resilience, practical herbalism in times of changing.” Karen teaches herbalism and naturopathy, is a researcher and teacher in Goethian botany and landscape ecology, expert and counsellor in anthroposophic herbalism and naturopathy, biodynamic farming and wild medicinal herbs of the Apennines. www.karinmecozzi.com
Karen is also HWB Italy Coordinator.
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Every year it comes, and every year it spreads a bit of misery to a large part of our population who are sensitive to pollens and blooms. Everything from trees, grasses, flowers, and weeds, allergy season hosts a barrage of challenges for so many people.
Yet, what if I told you that you didn't necessarily have to rely on your over the counter anti-histamines to help with the symptoms of itchy and watery eyes, stuffed up and itchy nose, cough, or itchy skin/hives?
Nature is so incredible, it has a tremendous expanse of herbs that specifically calm the immune response, lower histamine levels, clears up stuffy noses, and lessens coughs and post nasal drip.
The attached graphic is simply five of the many helpful herbs available. Despite them being readily common plants, these are powerful allies and when used in the right combination most of the time the use of over the counter allergy meds can be greatly reduced or stopped all together.
Please do not self dose, speak to an appropriate practitioner before starting with herbal medicine. Not all herbs are appropriate for certain medications or certain health issues.
What are some of your most dreaded seasonal allergy symptoms?
Have you found any herbs that are most helpful to you?
~Your Friends at HWB
While many people on the east coast of North America are still digging out of the snow, in other parts we are starting to experience spring! There are few early spring herbs as well known as common Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale). Dandelion has a long history in herbal medicine, with written documentation in early medical texts dating back to the 10th and 11th century. The beautiful thing about Dandelion is that all parts of the plant can be used! The flower is an antioxidant, the leaf is a potassium rich diuretic, and the root has been used in cancer studies concerning the liver, and has been used as a bitter tonic to assist with liver, gallbladder, and pancreatic health.
In this downloadable monograph, learn all about Dandelion, its various parts and uses, and some of the clinical and pharmacological research that has been conducted.
~Your friends at HWB!
March is National Kidney Month, and to start off this HWB social media month, we thought that a brief discussion on kidney health would be a great way to start! The kidneys are an amazing pair of organs that cover a huge scope of key functions in the body. Our kidneys are crucial life sustaining organs which perform many of the main functions to keep our blood clean and chemically balanced.
Some of the more important functions they perform are:
1. They filter the blood to get rid of waste products of metabolism.
2. They keep the electrolytes (sodium and potassium being the most important) and water content of the body constant.
3. They secrete a number of essential hormones such as renin which keeps our blood pressure under control, and also Erythropoeitin another hormone that is secreted by the kidney, and acts on the bone marrow to increase the production of red blood cells.
Unfortunately for many, kidney health can be a chronic challenge. Often times issues with kidney health can also impact other systems as well such as our cardiovascular system (or vice versa) and our endocrine system. In the following article on Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD), we will review the physiology behind the disease as described by western medicine sources, and also comment on commonly used herbs, supplements, and dietary/lifestyle measures that may potentially support better kidney function for individuals with PKD.
The following information is not meant as a substitute for advice from your medical doctor, nor is it meant to replace any current prescription medications. As with all of our articles, if you are suffering from a current health issue, please speak with an appropriate practitioner. Also, please do not self dose on herbal remedies as not all herbs are appropriate for an individual based off of their current needs.
We hope you enjoy this article on Polycystic Kidney Disease.
Understanding Polycystic Kidney Disease
The above image is anatomy of a kidney with Polycystic Kidney Disease
According to Taber’s Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary, Polycystic Kidney Disease, or PKD is “any of several hereditary disorders in which cysts form in the kidneys and other organs, eventually damaging kidney tissue and function”. PKD is considered a hereditary disorder with two types. The first is considered autosomal recessive when the disease appears in childhood, and the second is considered autosomal dominant when it appears in adulthood (commonly over the age of 30). In both cases, this systemic hereditary disorder is characterized by the formation of cysts in the cortex and medulla of both kidneys. Small cysts lined by tubular epithelium (which play an active role in renal inflammation) form and the surrounding normal kidney tissue is compressed and progressively damaged which leads to the eventual damaged/destruction of the tissue. In the case of PKD, the damaged tissue stimulates the body’s protective inflammatory response due to the renal injury, thus beginning the chronic inflammatory cycle.
Individuals with early PKD are often without symptoms until later in life but generally show evidence of high or elevated blood pressure from the approx. age of 20 and onward.
In adults, this hereditary disorder has a prevalence of approximately 1 in 1000 individuals.
This is a hereditary genetic disorder most often passed down in families. Rarely, a genetic mutation can occur spontaneously so that neither parent has a copy of the mutated gene.
Individuals with a strong positive family history of ADPKD and no cysts detected by imaging studies can undergo genetic linkage analysis for additional evaluation.
When your Doctor diagnosis PKD:
“A person is considered to have PKD if three or more cysts are noted in both kidneys and there is a positive family member with autosomal dominant polycystic disease (ADPKD)” – Ferri’s Atlas and Text of Clinical Medicine
The diagnosis is usually based on family history, clinical and laboratory findings, and ultrasound examination, only your MD can diagnose PKD.
Symptoms of PKD:
Laboratory Findings in PKD:
Complications of PKD:
Dietary and Lifestyle Suggestions for PKD:
Always consult an appropriate practitioner before starting new dietary changes, dietary needs will differ with each individual. This list is not a complete dietary needs list, this is not a treatment plan.
Supplement Suggestions for PKD:
Always consult an appropriate practitioner before taking new supplements, do not self-dose. This list is not a complete supplementation list, this is not a treatment plan.
Herbal Suggestions for PKD:
Always consult an appropriate practitioner before taking herbs, do not self-dose. This is not a complete herbal list, this is not a treatment plan.
About the Contributor
Petra Sovcov holds a Doctorate of Natural Medicine (DNM) with a focus on Herbal Medicine (CHT) and is a current faculty member at the Institute of Holistic Nutrition Nutrition. She is a new member on the HWB Board of Directors, and has been a member of HWB since 2014. She currently runs the HWB Mahonia Chapter for the greater Vancouver BC area and coordinates the community free clinic. She is also the owner of Healing House Natural Wellness Centre, a multi-modality center located in BC Canada. For more info please visit the site, or follow her on Instagram @healinghouseherbal
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