health · medical formulas · preparedness

That Fragile Space Between Life and Death

Bill’s dad had finished his coffee and headed out to check the oil in the old motor home before they took off which left Bill and I sitting at the kitchen table with Bill’s Mom. It was the beginning of camping season.  Bill’s parents had stopped for a brief visit in their motor home on way to tour the U.P. Their favorite destination spot was an RV campground on the shores of Lake superior.

Bills mom sat silent for a few minutes, her fingers wrapped gingerly around her coffee cup.  She took on a far away look for a few seconds. “You know life is like a slow walk up a hill,” she lamented, “slowly you pull the toboggan to the top of the hill, when you get there and finally climb on the toboggan in an instant it slams you to the ground and the ride is over. Take care of your health, kids, be sure you take care of your health.” She got up from the table, put her coffee cup in the sink and went outdoors to find Dad.  Her cryptic message to us was that she letting us know she was sick. It was a short 6 years later she was gone. This dear woman had been fighting colon cancer for years, she strictly forbade Dad from telling any of us.

She was right, you know, lots of people are getting slammed. Over the course of the next 10-12 years or so we lost on average 3 people a year, 2 sisters,(1 of his and 1 of mine) 2 Dads( his and mine), various uncles and aunts, cousins, friends, acquaintances and neighbors. It seemed like people were dropping like flies. These poor souls were stricken with cancer, heart conditions, falls, accidents and other conditions and damage detrimental to the human body. Then one day out of the blue it was our turn.

Bill had been in bed feeling like he had the flu since Friday. Suddenly I heard him hollering for me from the back deck. I found myself enjoying being out in the yard on this warm August Sunday afternoon playing in the garden. “You gotta take me to the hospital.” He demanded, as he bent over clutching his stomach. “Somethings not right, we gotta go now!”  He was weak, short of breath, and his skin was an odd sort of gray color. He was in so much pain he could barely get himself into the car.  I was scared!

When we arrived at the hospital the first thing they did was triage him. The nurse asked a bunch of questions then hooked him up to a blood pressure machine. “That can’t be right, it must be broken,” She claimed. On a recheck from different machine, she was shocked and immediately put him into a wheel chair and rushed him back to emergency. His blood pressure was 84 over 50, it’s was why she thought her machine was malfunctioning. Doctor came into the room, doctor left the room another doctor came in and then he left. Labs were taken and an x-ray was taken. Less than 2 hours later they were rushing him in to emergency surgery.  It all happened so fast.

Once the surgeon had the scopes in place in his chest, he could see the gallbladder. It was so full of stones and gunk that the gallstones had closed off most all of the blood flow to it creating the perfect condition for gangrene to thrive. Bill had a gangrenous gallbladder, the surgeon told us later. Now to save his life the he needed to remove the gallbladder which turned out to be a very difficult proposition due to the fact that half the organ had turned to jelly. The gangrenous toxins escaped despite the surgeons best efforts and began surging throughout Bill’s body. It was so toxic the doctors couldn’t believe that Bill had had no symptoms until he became sick on Friday. The surgeon said “worse case I’ve seen he was a miracle, a miracle he survived.”,151

Bill’s whole body was now septic. Toxic nasties cursing his veins, hell bent on destroying his organs and body. He lay in that narrow space between life and death. 

For 11 days in ICU his body fought to stay alive, a ventilator doing the breathing for him. A chemical induced coma so the surge of antibiotics and various other medicines could do their work undisturbed. There he lay, 15 IV’s full of life saving medicine running into his arms and groin area.  A few days later 2 ports were created in his upper shoulder area for even more medicine. At one point the nurses and doctors were buzzing around his room trying to bring down a fever of 106.5. More medicine, more panic. They were successful, however, and by day number 6 he was still holding his own but his condition hadn’t gotten any worse despite the fever. That was good news, although it had now been 10 days since Bill had eaten food of any kind.

It emotionally rips  your heart out to watch your once vibrant loved one lying there motionless, wasting away, relying absolutely on nurses, doctors and modern science for his very life. One nurse told me that they had already put at least 20 pounds of saline and antibiotics through his system to help flush out the sepsis bacteria. That’s a lot of flushing and they weren’t done yet.

I was sitting next to my husbands mechanical hospital bed one evening mesmerized by the rhythmic beeps, and humming of the computerized machines keeping his body alive when I suddenly remembered an article I had read a few months earlier of an experimental treatment for sepsis. I left the hospital a little earlier than normal this night, went straight home to fire up my computer determined to find the information on this unproven treatment.

Sure enough, I found it. Vitamin C, B1 and cordisteroids, the combination was new and experimental but it turned out there was plenty of information and doctors were already using it in some hospitals to treat sepsis patients.  

 I took this information and several case studies into the hospital and presented it to my husband’s doctor. I was sure he would simply brush me off as a desperate old lady just doing anything to save her dying husband. Imagine my shock and excitement when the doctor actually said he would look into it.

A few hours later he came back into the room to tell me that it took awhile to find some vitamin C cocktail because our pharmacy didn’t have it, but that he had in fact found a source, but did I know that this combination wasn’t FDA approved? Yes, I assured him, I knew.  Ok, Dr. B said as he turned on his heel and left the room. The next day he came into the room to let me know that he had some vitamin C cocktail delivered overnight and nurses were going to hook hubby up with an IV of this experimental cocktail shortly. Oh, thank you, thank you Dr. B!! But wait! What if this was a mistake? I should not have interfered with standard hospital protocol for sepsis patient treatment. All kinds of stuff ran through my brain. Again, I was scared.

The first day of the experimental cocktail showed nothing new at least to my untrained eye. Bill’s 4 sisters drove up from lower Michigan and were now weeping over their brother’s bedside, one of his daughters, her husband and me, were gathered around Bills mechanical bed and a dozen humming, beeping computerized machines.  The 8 of us and two nurses held good loving thoughts and energy in our hearts and said prayers over Bill as lay there unaware that so many people were cheering him on. Beth (his daughter) anointed his forehead with holy water as we said another prayer and wished Bill a speedy recovery.

Dear husband slept well that night his overnight nurse reported and by day number 3 of the experimental cocktail his lab tests indicated much improvement. When the doctor came in to check on him in the morning, he stood there, seriously contemplating the humming, beeping machines.  “We going to start the waking up process today.” he said. “Give us an about an hour or so to get things ready.”  I was so emotional I could barely contain myself. He was going to live! Even now writing this gets me all emotional and goose bumpy.

I knew in my heart there would be a long road ahead even as the doctor was explaining this to me. Bill had severe muscle wasting from lack of movement, he had lost at this point, about 85 pounds. (Did you know that ICU mechanical beds periodically take the patient’s weight? Amazing.)  Bill had already been diagnosed with beginning stages of heart disease before this ordeal, the sepsis weakened his heart tremendously and at faster rate than he normally would have experienced had he not had sepsis. So he did end up in a nursing home for a few weeks. There was no way I could take care of him myself, he was totally helpless. He could only sit up in bed with help and couldn’t hold his own weight to stand at all. It took two people to move him even in bed. At the nursing home they gave him therapy and showed him how to strengthen his muscles. But, damn! He did it! The guy is a miracle! By the time he left the nursing home he could stand for a few minutes and climb about 4 steps which was all that was needed to get him into the house.

Was it the vitamin C, B1 and cordisteroids combination or was it all the loving energy and prayer that did it or a combination of both? Only God knows for sure.

It has been quite the toboggan ride since August and the real miracle is that we get to celebrate Christmas with him. The sad part is that he has a month of no memory. A hole in his life, he calls it. Drug induced coma, sedation medication and pain medication took away most of his summer. Just 3 days ago Bill had a pacemaker put in to help his ailing heart muscle. He’ll have two doctor appointments a month for a while but that should slow down eventually.

Before I close out this tale of Christmas joy, there are two very important things that came to the foreground in all of this. Some might call them lessons.

Doctors are the mechanics of the health care industry. Very special people they are. They get a gold star. Becoming a doctor is a daunting task on it’s own, then specializing adds extra years of dedicated learning.  But the ICU nurses are the angels, they are the life blood of any hospital. They know the heart and soul of a patient and deal with life and death on a personal daily basis. The stress these angels go through when a new patient arrives in their unit is unbelievable. These nurses trip over family members while running the IV’s, dispense the proper doses of meds at the directed moment, change bandages and see to the patients comfort. They clean, care and administer loving kindness to the most vulnerable day in and day out.  There is no payment or gratitude big enough for these front line individuals. All I can offer is a heart-felt thank you and a hug.

Secondly, Why are there so many sick people?

During the 5 weeks my husband was hospitalized I had the opportunity to watch the comings and goings of people needing treatment of one kind or another. There were so many. We live in a small community, at least 65% of this community came through the hospital doors while I was there. (I’m sure this is an exaggeration, but you get the point.) The other 25% worked there. That left about 10% healthy? Really?

Again, why are so many people sick? In Bill’s case we can trace it back to 32 years of chemicals in the work place, 32 years of putting plastic in the microwave to heat his lunch, and  40 years of blood pressure medication. Throw in other variables like years of drinking diet soda, fast food, horrible stress from a previous marriage. It’s all accumulative. It’s accumulative, means it keeps getting piled on in the body.

His thyroid had been destroyed from several blasts of chlorine gas in his work place. Eating food from the microwave heated in plastic. The BPA in plastic is an endocrine disruptor for starters. Toxic chemicals in fast food and aspartame in diet sodas also contribute to his case of heart disease. Our modern commercial lifestyle is a downhill slide until it slams you to the ground.

Another item is the 40 years of blood pressure medicine without asking why he needed it or suggesting he consider a lifestyle change to correct it and given information. Oh, it genetic, they say. Hold on there pal, listen up. Genes are only 30% of the equation, life style and environment are the other 70%.

I taught a couple of classes at the local college a few years back as an adjunct. The first thing I asked the incoming 20 something age students was, “What do you want to be doing in 80 years?”  They’d look at me like I had 3 eyes. They either hadn’t thought about it or they simply didn’t believe they would live to 100. “The human body was designed to live 120 years,” I’d offer. The human body wants and is designed to be healthy whether you want to believe it or not. Give it what it needs, treat it right and every one can live to a ripe old age. I’d get, “yeah, right” looks every time. I lost my credibility after that it seemed.

On the tiny island of Okinawa, Japan I’d tell them, they have some of the longest lived people on earth. You are not even consider an adult until they reach the age of 55.

By then some of the male students cross their arms over their chest and with a snide retort, “You and your facts aren’t going to change the way I eat and live.” And this is the lesson, that sacred space between life and a nursing home bed. Or death.




























domestic duties · health · herbs · preparedness · religion · self-reliance

Doctoring During the Depression Era

Plants are people too!


One of my favorite jobs over the years has been that of an in-home-care-giver. In-home-care-givers are trained and certified, then sent to homes of people who need help but are not ready, for whatever reason to move to a nursing home. Some folks would be described as having different degrees of mental and physical handicaps, some were just old or infirm. Most often I was sent to the home of an extremely old person who was able to be at home but who couldn’t do all the daily living tasks without help. That’s where I came in.  Most ya’all know what it takes to care for others. Lots of dishes, laundry, helping with personal hygiene, you know. My favorite part was when the oldster cracked open the stories of their youth. Damn! What a worlds worth of information!

I loved my clients, but of course, you can end up with your favorites. One of my favorites was a 98 year old lady who loved to look over her high school year book. 1920’s year book! Even back then the football jock got the girl. Sometimes the girl had to leave high school or there was what she described as a “shotgun” wedding. In this area, she whispered that there are lot of Italian folks and German folks they hate each other. I remember a girl who was Italian and a boy who was German, she told me one day. They were in love and wanted to marry, but their fathers forbade it.

I took care of 90 year old Jewish dear. OMG, I loved Louie. He lived in a senior apartment complex, he was on the 3rd floor. Dear Louie would sometimes wait until I was busy making the bed or doing dishes. He would silently put on his hat and coat and sneak out the apartment door. I would find him shuffling for the elevator at a top speed of escargot.

“Where ya going, Louie?”

“I’m am going to take my Cadillac for a drive.”

“No, not today, sweetheart.” I said as I turned him around and headed him back to the apartment.

Louie owned a Newspaper in a fairly large city during the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. He and I talked for hours about the history as he saw it through his paper. Also, he talked a lot about his Jewish faith. Fascinating! If people would only listen to each other, we would discover that we are all really quite alike. I learned so much from Louie.

Most recently, there was Mr. D who is a 90 year old senior with a really cool sense of humor and an excellent story telling skills. One day he wanted to make some cookies, so while we were busy making cookies for his freezer, Mr. D and I were discussing what life was like when he was a kid. As old people love to talk about “life in the old days,” he told me a story of an incident that could have turned out very tragically if not for an observant old time country Doctor.

As a youngster of the 1930s Mr. D was left pretty much on his own after his assigned daily chores had been completed. At 12 years of age his mother had no worries about Mr. D and his buddies playing down by the pond several blocks past the old feed mill most every day. She knew basically where they were and when they became hungry, she was sure the boys would miraculously appear at the kitchen table.
Today Mr. D and several neighborhood boys had been fishing down at the pond when Mr. D suddenly found a fish hook lodged in his wrist. One of the boys whipped his pole to send his line with wormed hook out to the center of the pond. The flying hook didn’t make it far before piercing the skin of Mr. Ds wrist, the barb of the fish hook securely embedded into the muscle.
He worked for quite some time to dislodge the fish hook, using his jack knife to help with the task. The boys all gathered around to watch with fascination as blood dripped from his wrist. Finally, he got the nasty fish hook out of his wrist and cleaned up the blood with a little pond water and the boys resumed fishing until almost dark.

A few days later, Mr. D had walked several blocks to the towns only mercantile/ general store to purchase some things for his mother. With his arms loaded he was waiting at the corner to allow a car to pass before he could cross the street when it stopped directly in front of him. The driver was the village Doctor on his way to check on a patient. (In those days the Doctor drove to his patients homes for their care. I still remember as a child of the 1950’s a Doctor visiting our house to check on my sister who had recently had her tonsils removed.) The good doctor rolled down his window and asked Mr. D if he and his load would like a lift home since the doctor was headed in his direction and would drive right by his house.
Mr. D climbed into the front seat next to the doctor and set his packages on the floor in front of him. It was about then the good doctor noticed the green line running up the inside of Mr. Ds arm. He asked what had happened to create such a nasty infection?
Mr. D had the doctors undivided attention so he spilled his story on him. After which, the good doctor told Mr. D to have his mother make a poultice of ground flax seed and warm water and wrap it around his wrist until the infection and gangrene was gone. The Doctor pulled up to the curb, stopped the car and dropped the boy off in front of his house. Waving good bye, he drove off to his next appointment.

Mr. D showed his arm to his mother and told her what the doctor had said. She immediately went to work. She made a paste from the ground flax seed using a little warm water as instructed. Next she placed it directly on Mr. Ds infected arm, then wrapped it securely with a clean linen cloth. It was changed again before bed and the again the next day. Within three days the infection and the green line running up Mr. Ds arm had been healed by the flax seed meal. And so, Mr. D is still with us today.

Why whole plant Material heals?horehound

Plants are chemically complex. The chemical elements of which plants are constructed—principally carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, phosphorus, sulfur, etc.—are the same as for all other life forms animals, fungi, bacteria and even viruses. Only the details of the molecules into which they are assembled differs. This underlying similarity, plants produce a vast array of chemical compounds with unique properties which they use to cope with their environment. Pigments are used by plants to absorb or detect light. Perhaps the most celebrated compounds from plants are those with pharmacological activity, such as salicylic acid from which aspirin is made, morphine, and digoxin. Drug companies spend billions of dollars each year researching plant compounds for potential medicinal benefits.
When pharmaceutical drug makers isolate and concentrated an element from a plant they strip away all the complimenting molecules. All the plants chemicals work in synergy. When you take away one element and concentrate it, it is now possible to become a dangerous drug, poisonous. It is why pharmaceutical drugs are monitored and controlled.

So. . . .

Active compounds found in the plant such as chlorophyll are close to human blood. (Chlorophyll~~Chlorophyll is a chlorin pigment, which is structurally similar to and produced through the same metabolic pathway as other porphyrin pigments such as heme. At the center of the chlorin ring is a magnesium ion. This was discovered in 1906, and was the first time that magnesium had been detected in living tissue.)
The correct structure of hemin (heme) is part of the hemoglobin. ( hemoglobin is the red coloring of blood, the pigment, when combined with protein forms hemoglobin) Chlorophyll molecules closely resemble hemin. One of the major differences between chlorophyll and hemin is that chlorophyll contains magnesium while hemin molecule contains iron for the central atom. Owing to the close molecule resemblance between chlorophyll and hemoglobin is that chlorophyll and its derivatives is nature’s blood-building element for all plant eaters and humans.
Magnesium in plant chlorophyll picks up the blue light from the sun, add in plant carbs and proteins, which all contribute to turn the plant blood green. Iron plus proteins makes human and animal blood red. That’s why I say;

Plants are people too!!

At the ripe old age of 84, my own Dad lived in one of those secured senior complexes too. But one day he took a swan dive out of the tub while taking a shower and laid on the cold tile floor for a 4 hours because he couldn’t get himself up alone. Someone finally came along to check on him and called an ambulance, then called me. During my 3 week stay with Dad while he recovered, I got to know some of the other seniors on his floor.

One 90+ year old lady had a number tattooed on her forearm. She had been in a Nazi camp as a child. Some of the stories she told me would make the hair on the back of my neck stand up. Some of her stories she actually lived, some stories she heard from other survivors. old women playing cards 1(Her story and that of others who lived before or without electricity can be found in my book, How to Survive and Thrive When the Power is Out.) 

Plants and plant medicine would have been pivotal in their survival, as it was during the last great economic depression. You know? Plants and old people, uh. Who would have ever thought?

camping · domestic duties · homesteading · preparedness · self-reliance · Thinking ahead

6 Properties Of Bushcraft Knives To Choose The Right One

Guest post from the makers of Perkins Knives, UK.


Are you a knife enthusiast?

Are you searching for the right bushcraft knife for yourself?

It is not just necessary to own a bushcraft knife, but it is important to own the right one for yourself. Every bushcraft knife is unique in its own way. It is built to last long and for hard use. All the properties should help it to perform a range of functions above the standards of a regular EDC knife.

Buying the right knife for you depends on a lot of factors other than the knife itself like if you are going to use it in humid or damp region, you need to buy a stainless steel blade to avoid corrosion and if in dry regions then it should be made of carbon steel. Folding knives are considered to be harder to use and are less strong as compared with fixed blade knives.

Properties to Consider

The following are some of the major properties that you need to look for in the perfect knife for you:

1. Blade Size
The temptation to pick the biggest blade available is known as the Crocodile Dundee temptation. There are pros and cons to even the biggest blade, when you consider it for bushcraft activities. If you are buying it to chop trees, then go for an axe or a machete. Similarly, small blades also have pros and cons i.e. if you wish to use it to chop trees, it would not do any good to you. Always go for 8-15 cm in length of blade size, as per your comfort and work.

2.  Design and shape
Ideally, you wish to have the thickest blade possible because it will be the strongest, but a good bushcraft knife should have a long, flat cutting edge that turns up to meet a tip. It should have a distinctive tip i.e. not every thin or pointed. Don’t go for a needle tip as well. Bushcraft knife tips are heavily used & abused, which requires it to remain functional for a long time. Something which is sharp and strong enough to withstand hard use. It also shouldn’t have a bulging underbelly either. The two best designs for bushcraft knife blades are drop point and spear point.

3.  Grind
It refers to how the blade is shaped above the cutting edge. The primary grind basically thins down the blade from its initial width. The best grinds versatile and strong because if the edge is too thing, the strength is severely compromised. Grinds like chisel grind, flat grind, convex grind and scandinavian grind are some of the popular ones. You need to avoid bushcraft knives with hollow grind because it is only good for EDC knives as it makes the blade too thin and ineffective.

4.  Cutting edge
It is a very tricky part of the knife because if you take a bigger angle, the edge will become very strong, but will lose its cutting power and if you choose a smaller angle, the edge will become very sharp, but will reduce in strength. Thin cutting edge is good for softer targets like in food production while thick cutting edges are completely the opposite. One of the other factors you need to look for is the ability of the blade to be resharpened because the edge wears out if used regularly and resharpening is required every once a while.

5.  Blade material
It is one of the most difficult aspect of a knife because there isn’t a best one; rather a right one, depending upon the work you wish to accomplish with your bushcraft knife. Blade materials range from stainless steel to alloy mixed steel to element-mixed steel like carbon, chromium, vanadium and molybdenum etcetera to make it corrosion and wear resistant, to improve its strength, hardenability, strength, toughness, and light-weighted.

6.  Handle material
Handles are chosen for their looks, durability, grip and shock & absorption. The material totally depends on the task that needs to be accomplished, environment in which it will be used and frequency of usage to get an idea of the wear & tear.

Choose The Right One

After reading the above properties, you must be having a clear understanding of what needs to be considered while purchasing a bushcraft knife as per your suitability and use. There are many places where you can get customised bushcraft knives in UK (, USA and other parts of the world, you just need to look harder.

Choose Wisely! Choose What’s Right For You!

Author Bio: Having been on the Perkin Knives team for several years as a marketing executive, Billy has been part of a great many top-of-the-line projects. Not only has he personally contributed to the service in every way, but he also happens to be one of the most revered members of Perkin Knives.



health · herbs · homesteading · preparedness · self-reliance · Thinking ahead

Planning Your Medicinal Herb Garden

When the Catalogs begin to arrive. . .


They start showing up in the mailbox right after Thanksgiving, sometimes even earlier. Those tempting little paper beasts that draw you in and bewitch you into spending your designated Christmas dollars with them. Dreary winter dreaming, you sit down at the kitchen table with your favorite cup of warmth and plan your artful garden for sunny springtime.

Blessed are those that have the will to resist the colorful pictures full of sunshine fields with pink, red and yellow flowers and the enticing, crisp, fresh, moist, mouth-watering vegetables expertly laid out for the camera. They evoke memories and the smell of freshly turned soil, moist, rich,  soft between your toes, comes flooding into your brain. This my dear friends is a gardeners high. Promises of a clean canvas in which to begin a new spring time painting. This is my art!

Oh, I’m sorry, back to reality. I kind of lost myself in this dreamy state. It happens this time of year. The holidays are over now and there is a lull between the beginning of the new year and the first shoots of green in spring. This is the perfect time to plan, arrange and perfect your new medicinal herbal garden.

The first question you should ask yourself; What are my familys’ health needs?  What culinary herbs would I like to have in my backyard grocery store/pharmacy? What does my location have to offer my chosen herbs?

What is in my garden from last year and why? (zone 4, 100+ miles north of the 45th parallel)

The soil base at our place is mostly acidic, dry, and gravely. There are pockets of loamy acidic, moist, piney places and if you really get lucky, you might stumble across a loamy neutral Ph soil patch but they are rare.

Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)  TP  The medicinal parts are the oil extracted by distillation. The whole plant can be used. Harvested before flowering, the taste and smelllemon balm is lemon-like, later becoming astringent to balm-like and warming.

Using lemon balm at home; gather early in the day when the sun has dried the dew from the leaves, wash and dry quickly in a just barely warm oven. Lemon balm is one of my favorites for tea, it imparts a wonderful lemon flavor and aroma in any preparation. As an herbal medicine it has mild sedative and carminative properties. Can be used in antibacterial and antiviral herbal medicinal preparations, most often however, it is used for nervous complaints, womans’ issues and headaches. Lemon balm imparts a cheerful therapy.

Be sure to plant this one close to walk ways. When you brush up against lemon balm a  lemony aroma waifs to gladden the senses.

Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) P  The root is used from this herb. It’s flowers are fragrant, the plant usually reaches 5 feet tall. The root/ rhizome smells bad when dried, sort of like dirty socks. Hydrolysis of the components in the root from isovaleric acid is what is responsible for the offensivevalerian-root- oder.

Valerian likes low-lying, sandy, humus soil that is well supplied with lime in a damp area. (The valerian I planted several years ago made a daring escape from the patch I had carefully designated for it and it now growing wild in dry places that it shouldn’t be growing. It truly has a mind of its own and has proven very adaptable.) The root is harvested in September and are carefully dug, washed, chopped and dried.

The biochemical components of valerian root reduces the time it takes to drift off to sleep. Improvements in sleep quality were demonstrated in a well constructed, randomized, placebo-controlled, multi-centered study involving 121 patients.

Valerian is used for restlessness, sleeping disorders based on nervous conditions, mental strain, lack of concentration, and states of anxiety. Caution; Valerian has an additive effect when used in combination with barbiturates and benzodiazepines. Otherwise, there are no known hazards using valerian.

Your choice of administration; works well as a tea with other herbs, tincture, extracts, external use in baths, powdered and used in capsules for a sleep aid 30 minutes before bedtime.

Hops (Humulus lupulus) TP   Hops are green viney crawling plants that can reach 30 feet long. Usually they are grown on a string straight up a pole or trellis. Hops are the ingredient that gives beer that slightly bitter after taste and calm, sleeping feeling.

AT harvest time, the entire plant is cut at about ground level. The flowers are plucked off andhops-cone quickly dried, packaged and popped into the freezer to preserve their potency.

Hops work best with other herbs in preparations of extract, tincture or tea to promote a restful sleep. Also, used in folk medicine to treat nervous tension headache, nerve pain and inflammation.

Rose (Rosaceae supp.) P  Rose by any other name is still a rose. Only we are looking for the variety that produces rosehips. Some hybrids have been bred out to not produce the hips. Know which one you are growing. Roses and their hips are a wonderful addition to any herb garden. Roses in the wild, those growing at the forests edge, also produce beautiful orange to red hips loaded with vitamin C.

Roses are the work horse of the garden attracting  bees, butterflies and other bugs to help with pollination. They are wonderful and are simply delightful for the senses, producing a healthful potent fruit. Petals are gathered in full bloom and dried at a low temperature or in the shade. You definitely will be dodging bees and other bugs for your petals.

Rose hips appear when the petals begin to fall off later in the season. They are gathered after they turn red, however, I like to gather them after the first light frost. Rose hips seem easier to work with and a touch sweeter after the frost, in my humble opinion.

Rose petals generally, are used in skin preparations, but will make a wonderfully fragrant tea too. My favorite use for them is in wild rose and red clover jelly. I sell this at craft fairs with rave reviews and many return customers.

Here’s a great article on rose hips–

Elderberry (Sambucus Nigra) P  These tiny gems are one of my favorite plants. Domestic grown plants are readily available from seed catalogs and the berries are slightly larger than wild grown plants. I find elderberries occasionally growing wild along roadsides in damp areas. The domestic variety seems to like regular garden soil and will spread and take over the area in just a few short years if left unchecked.elderberries

The berries can give you a tummy ache if you eat too many, so they should be cooked before ingestion. The flowers are great in tea for colds and flu due to the fact that they promote sweating. The flowers are great in preparations for coughs and bronchitis too.

Elderberries make a delicious syrup for use during or just before the onset of colds and flu. They can be used in jams, jellies and pies, also.

Echinacea (Echinacea species) P Some people call these beautiful immune enhancers, coneflowers. They take two years to produce a flower head and it is best to wait that long to harvest the roots. Echinacea activity is directed towards the nonspecific cellular immune system. The herb exerts anti-inflammatory immunostimulating, antibacterial, and wound healing actions. Most often this herb is used for colds, flu and upper echinacearespiratory infections.

Other uses; Fevers, urinary infections, inflammation of the mouth and pharynx, wounds and burns. Native Americans used this herb for headaches, measles, coughs, stomach aches, gonorrhea and snake bits.

Dried roots can be ground and put into capsules or used with other herbs as a tea.

Hyssop (hyssopus officinalis) P This is one of those plants equal to your kittys’ catnip only for humans. You just feel like rolling around in it. Bees and butterflies love it too. They will swarm your garden where hyssop is growing, which is great for other plant dependent on pollinators.

The fresh and dried leaves and flower tips are used to make herbal medicines. Extracts of the leaves are antimicrobial, antiviral (herpes simplex) and the herb is mildly hyssopspasmolytic (relieves spasms of smooth muscles). Preparations of hyssop herb are used for gentle circulation, for diseases of the respiratory tract, colds, chest and lung ailments.

Tincture extract preparations are used most often as well a tea, however, hyssop has been found effective when ground and put into capsules also.

Caution; Hyssop is another one of those plants that will take over your garden if left unchecked.

Peppermint (Mentha piperita) Aggressive Perennial Peppermint is so versatile and delightful. It is hard to kill out once established so be careful where you plant this guy. He loves cool moist garden soil and will take over an area in a matter of a few years with over and underground runners. (Spearmint, too. If it has a square stem, it most likely is related to the Lamiaceae, belonging to the mint and balm family.)

Peppermint leaves for our purposes, are gathered just before flowering, washed andpeppermint hung in a warm, shaded room to dry. It can be harvested a couple of times during the growing season.

Peppermint is generally used in a tea for upset stomach and digestion issues, however, it has been used for thousands of years as an anti spasm for the smooth muscles of the gastrointestinal tract. Other benefits from peppermint include a carminative, antibacterial, insecticidal and a secretolytic agent (breaks up secretions); it also has a cooling effect on the skin and works well in ointments.

In folk medicine, peppermint is utilized for nausea, vomiting, morning sickness, respiratory infections, dysmenorrhea (pain caused during menstruation) and colds.

Other uses for peppermint; cough and bronchitis, fevers and cold symptoms, inflammation of the mouth and pharynx, liver and gallbladder complaints and a general tendency toward infections.

White Horehound (Marrubium vulgare) TP The medicinal parts of this plant are the above ground leaves and flowers. Gathered and dried quickly in June to August, it has a slightly bitter, hot taste.

The bitter effects act as a gastric juice stimulant which can help to reverse loss of appetite in cases of chronic illness. In horehoundfolk medicine horehound is used internally for acute and chronic bronchitis, whooping-cough, asthma, tuberculosis, respiratory infections and jaundice. Also, it has been used for painful menstruation and as a laxative in higher doses. You may find horehound candy around town, it is useful for throat problems and upper respiratory infections.

Other herbs that have earned their  place in my herbal medicine garden are;

Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) TP Mostly known for its culinary uses, thyme earns a reward for being a bronchial antispasmodic, an expectorant and an antibacterial agent. Thyme is one of the ingredients in products such as Listerine.

Garden Sage and  Ceremonial White Sage (Salvia supp.) TP You will find garden sage  in your poultry seasonings but it also makes a wonderful tea. Used for internal gastric disorders such as loss of appetite, bloating, flatulence, diarrhea, and often used as a gargle for bleeding gums and laryngitis. White Sage is normally found in the southwestern U.S. and does not grow naturally up here in Michigans Upper Peninsula so it is grown in pots and brought into the house in the fall.

Basil (Ocimum basillicum) A People are often surprised to learn this culinary has antimicrobial properties, particularly found in oil of basil. This guy deserves a special place in the home herbal medical garden, especially if you get a bee sting. Simply crush a few basil leaves and place on the sting for pain relief. In Chinese medicine basil herb is used for disturbances of renal function, gum ulcers and as a hemostyptic both before and after birth.

Calendula (Calendula officinalis) A Pot marigold- Delightfully bright yellow, orange and orange-red flowers harvested in about July. Calendula flowers are antimicrobial and  shown to have potent anti-HIV activity. Surprisingly, these beauties have been also shown in studies to be anti-inflammatory and have significant wound healing powers when used as an ointment. Best used for frost-bite, burns to the skin and poorly healing wounds.

Around our homestead we find a pharmacopeia of wild healing wonders. Red clover, red and black raspberry leaves, ginseng, goldenseal, golden rod, Astragalus, mullein, plantain and many more.

Having listed last years garden herbs and herbs found nearby, we can now decide what we would like to grow in the new season. This will become your home herbal medicine cupboard to help keep your family and neighbors healthy and treat their injuries.

On a walk-about you will find other herbs growing wild, such as;

Red Clover– coughs, whooping-cough, upper respiratory and skin healing, wounds.

Raspberry leaves– help facilitate child-birth, gastrointestinal tract and blood purifying.

Common plantain– for wounds, to draw tissue together, help stop bleeding.

Coltsfoot- best used in smoking preparations to help cure smoking addiction.

Horsetail– Urinary tract infections, kidney and bladder stones, silicic acid.

Stinging Nettle– diuretic, anti-inflammatory, nutritive, prostate complaints

St. John’s wort– wounds, depression, tuberculosis, anti inflammatory

Marshmallow, Mullein, Willow, Birch, Burdock, and many, many more. . .

To find your special plants and seeds,

I love these guys.

Stay tuned for this coming years additions. I am so excited about trying these new herbs! Here’s a hint; Meadowsweet- Heather- Uva Ursi- Skullcap and a several more.