The ancient Greek physician Hippocrates (460-377 BCE) famously said “Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food.”
Gardeners know the best way to get your veggies is fresh and organic, ideally straight from the farm or garden. But beyond simple nourishment, scientists are finding some foods specifically help prevent or reverse certain diseases. Published research from the past few months alone has shown fruits and veggies protect your heart, brain and eyes, and help fight asthma, cancer, swine flu, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, type 2 diabetes and osteoporosis.
Much of the research looks at isolated constituents in the foods, although of course there’s more to fresh fruits and veggies than the isolated “active ingredients” scientists have identified so far. All the components in the plant work synergistically, and do more than just one thing.
This post was written by acupuncturist Christine Dionese, who practices in California and New York. She’s one of my colleagues at WellWire.com. It’s an honor to have her contribution!
By Christine Dionese, LAc
If your back yard looks anything like mine down here in sunny So-Cal it’s ripe for the pickin’. The peaches are falling by the second, and the scent of the blooms on the Meyer lemon tree fill the early a.m. air. If I beat the bees to it, I’m lucky enough to pick a few lemons for a delightfully soothing and aromatic afternoon tisane! To my white peony tea I add the exotic scent of jasmine flowers, the zest of a Meyer lemon along with the oily leaves, the fuzzy skin of a peach, a few colorful miniature rose buds and a small handful of gummi goji berries.
Weed Lover: Unintentional Medicine from Evolution’s Winners
Back in the late ’90s and early aughts, a small but information-dense ’zine circulated in the Eugene area called “weed lover.” The premise was that weeds offend gardeners by growing where they’re not wanted, but that they nevertheless offer great value by way of food, medicine and pulling nutrients up from the subsoil to feed neighboring plants. They also may be physically useful: one gardener tied her tomatoes to their cages using bindweed.
One of the very best things about using weeds for medicine is that you rarely have to entertain the usual worries about overharvesting. It’s an interesting exercise for an ethical wildcrafter to try: Find a field full of an unkillable weed and keep picking it for a while after you feel like you’ve done too much. (Don’t worry, you can always find an herbalist who can use some, or mulch your garden with the extra.)
I’ve tried this exactly twice. The first time was picking blooming yarrow on a friend’s land in the Columbia Gorge. The second was picking St. John’s Wort on an Okanogan land trust. In that case, the plant wasn’t even native, but rather a European invasive. It techinically wasn’t even overharvesting, but arguably just a feeble attempt at restoration.
Weeds are survivors in the game of evolution for many reasons. Here let’s consider a few that help humans be survivors, too. Continue reading “weed lover”
When we learn about Permaculture — or any kind of gardening, for that matter — we often see that certain plants are listed as medicinal. But do you ever wonder what part of the plant to use? When to pick it? What kind of health issues the plant medicine is used for? Would it be handy to get some ideas about this before spring planting?
It’s one thing to know that plants have medicinal functions, but Permaculture education rarely includes the body of knowledge needed to actually make use of plant medicines.
Join the Portland Permaculture Guild at 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 15 when herbalist, Permaculture designer and naturopathic physician Orna Izakson will discuss the functions and uses of many garden medicinals. The Garden Medicine slideshow draws from Orna’s extensive study of herbal medicine, with an eye to Permaculture functions and practical ideas for putting the people’s medicines back into the people’s hands.
PPG meetings are held at Pacific Crest Community School at NE 29th and Davis (2 blocks N of Burnside) in Portland, Oregon. The meeting starts at 7pm. Please enter at the North door (Davis), or the door from the parking lot.
A spring planting guide while you’re planning what to plant
By Orna Izakson
Gardeners have a big advantage during deep darkness of a northwest winter: We get to pore over garden books and catalogs that offer shards of sunlight and whiffs of spring. Dreaming about striped tomatoes, salivating over the prospect of a fresh melon, imagining the thrum of a snapping pea, gardeners know that their dreams and will be rewarded with a well-stocked kitchen when the sun returns.
While curled up by the fire or the space heater with your summer hopes this winter, consider adding the flowerful, textural and healing world of growing medicine along with your food. The results will improve your garden — many medicinal plants also support beneficial bugs while confusing problematic pests — and improve your health.
It is absolutely irresponsibly unfair to ask any herbalist to narrow their favorite herbs down to a measly ten, and reasonable people will disagree heatedly about how to go about trying. This particular list is intended as a general top 10 list of medicinals that are easy to grow from seed or starts. This article is not intended to substitute for medical advice, as each person has a specific history and specific needs. Continue reading “top 10 garden medicines”
Orna is spending the late summer of 2009 as writer-in-residence at Newforest Institute in Brooks, Maine. As part of her time there, she will be doing a community presentation about natural medicine on Tuesday, Sept. 8. Community dinner starts at 6 p.m. and the talk begins at 7 p.m. The event is free, with donation requested for dinner. More details coming soon!
welcome to gardenmedicine, home to information about creating beautiful landscapes that feed your eyes, your body and your soul. on these pages i’ll discuss growing and using specific medicinal plants, shrubs that can help your garden be more productive, herbs that feed the pollinators on which we depend, and flowers and weeds that help keep you healthy.
you’ll also find extensive links to resources for herbal and gardening information, as well as herbal and gardening educational programs.