Friday, January 22, 2010

Module 6 - Option 1
Herbal Dish ~ Using fresh herbs

Choose two or more of your favorite culinary herbs, preferably herbs that you have growing in your herb garden or in pots, but dried is also acceptable. Use your herbs to create at least one dish that you have not made before. Report on your experience at the discussion board.

Growing up, my grandma cooked a lot of food using pasta. One of me and my little brother's favorite meals was her American style Goulash. She made it with hamburger meat, egg shell pasta, corn, tomato sauce, garlic and salt. It was delicious, but I imagine probably not very healthy. It was all run of the mill grocery store stuff. I thought, Hmmm, wonder if I could change it. Make it organic. Looking at recipes of goulash I realized that grandma's recipes was not real goulash anyway. Just a American dish she decided to call goulash. Anyway I decided to re-invent my grandma's recipe. I'm ½ Romani (how I got the last name Villalobos), so to honor my heritage I call my recipe “Organic Gypsy Goulash”.

Organic Gypsy Goulash

You will need the following ingredients:

1lbs Organic Ground Buffalo Meat
4 cups Organic Shells Whole Grain Spelt Pasta
10 Ripe Tomatoes
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Real Butter (I use Organic Valley)
1 Green Bell Pepper, Chopped
4 Cloves Garlic, Minced
1 Can Organic Corn
¼ Cup Chopped Fresh Basil
¼ Cup of Caraway Seeds
1 Bay Leaf
2 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
2 Pots
1 Large Frying Pan

Bring a pot of water to a boil and put all 10 tomatoes and let boil for about a minute or till the skins start to peel. Remove and let cool then peel off skins and remove seeds best you can. Take 8 of them and run them through a blender. Chop the other 2 into small squares.

In another pot over medium heat cook the garlic, corn and bell pepper in the olive oil and butter for about 5 minutes then add the blended tomatoes, chopped tomatoes, basil, caraway seeds and the bay leaf and stir it up good, cover and let simmer for 1 ½ hours over low heat. Stir the tomato paste in and let simmer another ½ hour. Cook the pasta in another pot, and fry up the buffalo meat in a pan and then add the tomato sauce and meat to the pot of pasta, cover and let simmer for another hour. Remove the bay leaf and serve.


You could cheat and just buy organic tomato sauces in the jar but that take half the fun away. I really do believe food taste better when made from scratch with your own hands. The goulash is yummy and filling and can feed a lot of folks for pennies on the dollar, and with the present economy, eating healthy on a budget is important. Never can go wrong with pasta when trying to stretch the budget.

I cooked this over a campfire so you will have to judge what medium and low heat is. Medium for me was a low fire and low was cooking over hot coals.

NOTE: Garlic, basil and bay leaves are pretty popular and well known for their uses. Caraway is not so well known. Below are some facts.

Medicinal Uses of Caraway Seeds:
Caraway is related to dill, fennel and anise and has been thought to have many of the same medicinal properties - an antiseptic, antispasmodic, carminative, and digestive. It's been used to stimulate milk production in mothers as well as treat infant colic and is often used to flavor children's medicines

Cite References
Our herb garden; History of Caraway;; 01/18/10; Homemade Tomato Sauce;; 01/18/10 (modified recipe)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Module 5 – Option 2
Herbal Shampoo ~ For the treatment of dry hair/scalp and dandruff

Review the tables of problem areas of the eyes, hair, skin, and teeth. Note in your alphabetical notebook any problem areas you experience, and steps that you can take to address these.

I have major dandruff and had tried everything to no true avail. I finally decided to make my own herbal dandruff shampoo. Armed with the internet, Youtube and the ingredients on the back of the best herbal shampoos (I recently started using Avalon Organics Revitalizing Shampoo. Wish I could duplicate it, but it has stuff in it that I don't know how to replace). I tried a few different formulas found on Youtube with mix results. I finally decided to just experiment. I ended up settling on four herbs that seemed to be the most common among all the commercially produced herbal shampoos.

These herbs would be the following:

1. Peppermint (Mentha piperita L.)
2. Lavender (Lavandula spp.)
3. Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
4. Jojoba (Simmondsia chinensis)

Each of these herbs treat dry scalps and dandruff. Jojoba oil also is chemically very similar to human sebum which helps lubricate the scalp and hair.

Anyway this is the recipe I used and the shampoo works pretty well for me if I only wash my hair every other day.

My Shampoo Recipe
You will need the following: 8 Oz distilled water
1/3 Oz Peppermint
1/3 Oz Lavender
1/3 Oz Rosemary
4 Oz Liquid Castile soap
¼ teaspoon Jojoba oil
A clean empty shampoo bottle

Using a small pot, bring the distilled water to a boil. Add all your herbs and cover. Allow to simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Using cheese cloth (or a strainer if you have one), strain into another pot and let it cool to room temp. Pour the herbal mix into a shampoo bottle, then slowly add the castile soap and stir till it's mixed well. Add the Jojoba oil and close bottle and shake real well. Wa la! You have Organic Dandruff shampoo. It works pretty good. I can go three days before dandruff starts showing again.

Cite References

1. Lagow, Bette. PDR for Herbal Medicine. Third Edition. Montvale: Thomas PDR, 2004, pp. 476.
2. lbid., pp. 628.
3. lbid., pp. 689.
4. Dwyer, James. Magic and Medicine of Plants. Pleasantville: The Reader's Digest Association, Inc., 1989, pp. 250.
5. lbid., pp. 233.
6. lbid., pp. 285.
7. Ody, Penelope. The Complete Medicinal Herbal. First Edition. New York: Dorling Kindersley, Inc., 1993, pp. 73.
8. lbid., pp. 92.
9. lbid., pp. 79
10. ksmama81; Make your own herbal shampoo;; 1/04/10.
11. knp512; Herbal Tea Shampoo;; 1/04/10.
12. Wiki; Jojoba oil;; 1/03/10.
13. Wiki; Castile soap; ; 1/03/10

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Writing a Nature Dictionary

(Note: This is a very old piece. I decided to share it here as it plays a role in my building a relationship with herbs)

Way back in ancient times (when I was still young & in my 20's. LOL) I took my first steps on the path of the Druids. My mentor Sparrowhawk introduced me to the language of nature. Strange thing was it sounded different to me than it did to her yet the message was still the same. Language you say? Well what I speak of is symbolic language. Those who keep a Dream Journal will understand what I'm talking about. My mentor didn't believe in books on dreams or Tarot interpretation. Said that it was someone elses interpretation. A tree may have a different meaning to you than it does to me. Symbolism is the language we use to speak to our sub-conscious and we all have our own symbolic language.

Much of my learning from Sparrowhawk came when we went on our
nature hikes around her cottage just outside of Boulder, CO. When ever I ask her a question she would point to a tree, plant, stone or some wildlife & ask me, "what do they say?" Afterwords she tell me what they say to her, always careful to let me get my own meaning first before giving me her own so as not to influence mine. After words her meaning only allow me to expand my own.

Shortly after moving in with her, she gave me a blank journal and sent me out on walks by myself & told me to meditate on different things in nature & write them down. I would come back & discuss them with her, then under my meanings I add Teacher's meanings.

When I left her a little over a year later, that journal was pretty full and kept adding to it long afterwards. Several years later I took that journal and expanded on it. I would list each thing, with my meaning, then her's (Later entries didn't have her meanings as she wasn't there), then I research each thing in a scientific context (text book stuff, this helps to expand ones own understanding of the object thereby redefining & expanding your own meaning of them), under that where available I would add spiritual meanings from Pagan books (like the Druidic meaning of the trees etc...). In time I not only evolved my own Nature language, but I new part of hers & learned Nature's language as understood by many Pagan traditions (the stuff written in Pagan books). My focus was my own language as she taught me that was the most important & most realiable one. Her's & the Pagan communities different interpretation were for reference only, so as to create a common language (the language of the Pagan community's collective-consciousness) we can all share when together (kinda like how the different Celtic tribes had their own dialects but also had a Traders dialect they used to communicate with the other tribes).

The biggest problem with Religion is people try to force their mentor/holy teacher's personal language onto others as the common language & vice versa. Religions tries to force you to accept their common language as your personal language. The Pagan community like to think they escape this but they don't. This is one of the very things that causes witch wars.

Over the years I moved alot (I lived a very nomadic life for most of my years) and somewhere along the way I lost it. But the majority of its lore is still locked away within my mind and when I visit the Nature areas (Each eco-system has its own dialect; forests, deserts, oceans/coasts, plains, wetlands, etc...) I've been to before I dust the cobwebs from my mind & remember how to read them.

Each forest for example have their own dialect.

This way of learning that my mentor gave me is now serving me well in my studies of herbalism.

~I hear herbalist talk about building a relationship with ones plant allies. To do that you need to know how to understand their language.~

The Druid's Herbal Vlog

Just folks know I also have a "The Druid's Herbal Vlog" channel on YouTube.

Right now it's mainly playlists of herbal videos I have collected from other channels. I will soon be doing my own videos. Mostly on Wildcrafting. So be sure to subscribe over there as well.

The Druid's Herbal Vlog

Monday, January 18, 2010

Module 4 – Option 2
Herbal Remedies ~ For the treatment of headaches, fevers and coughs

Which herb tea or combination of herbs would you drink if you had a fever, a headache, and a cough? Explain why you selected these herbs and how you would prepare them. Be sure to include any contraindications.

I didn't want to repeat the herbs some have already chosen, so I decided to go outside of the herbs mention in the module, accept Borage, which I like cause I love cucumbers and that's what Borage infusion tea reminds me of.

Anyway, I chose Passion Flowers for headaches, Borage for fevers and Wild Cherry Bark for coughs.

Common name: Passion Flower
Botanical name: Passiflora incarnata

Similar to chamomile, Native Americans have been using Passion Flower as a sedative and to calm the nerves. Though Passion Flower is considered mild, it is said that it works great to alleviate headaches. Passion Flower is also known to help lower blood pressure. I picked up a ounce of Passion Flower at a local herb shop here and found a tea recipe for it online.

Take 1 cup of boiling hot water and pour it over 1 tsp of dried flowers, steep for about 10 minutes and then strain. Doesn't taste great. I suggest adding a bit of honey which is what I did.

I didn't feel anything to be honest. But that might be, because I'm used to drinking chamomile, and since I didn't have a headache I don't know if it actually works. I have plenty left so I'll have to find me a guinea pig with a headache to test it again.


Use of Passion Flower is contraindicated during pregnancy because of the uterine stimulant action of its alkaloids harman and harmaline, and the content of the cyanogenic glycoside gynocardin. (NOTE: Some source say that this has not been confirmed. I would err on the side of caution and not use it if the patient/client is pregnant.)

Common name: Borage
Botanical name: Borago officinalis

I have been given Borage infusion tea in the past for fever and my memory is of the taste of cucumbers. Not only is Borage infusion tea good for helping to lower fevers but is also great for soothing sore throats which can help with coughs. It has also been use to combat kidney and bladder problems, and as a poultice can be used to soothe skin inflammations.

I bought an ounce of Borage at the same place I did the Passion Flower (these plants don't grow wild around here). I found a recipe online and below is that recipe.

To make a infusion tea of Borage, boil 2 ½ cups of water and then remove from heat. Add ¼ cup of dried leaves and cover, allowing the infusion to steep for 10 minutes. Drink ¼ cup of Borage infusion tea up to three times a day. This will help reduce your fever, purify your blood and remove toxins from your kidneys as well as help relieve your cough and soothe sore throats.

Again I don't have a fever to really test this. But as I said earlier, I have been given Borage in the past to combat fever and it worked. But then I was also eating diced up raw garlic and wearing several layers of clothes and blankets as well. Like I said I love cucumbers and that's what Borage kinda taste like.

Borage shouldn't be given to Schizophrenic or epileptic patients because it may cause temporal lobe epilepsy. Also should not be used during pregnancy and while breastfeeding.

Common name: Wild Cherry Bark
Botanical name: Prunus serotina

Now this was my favorite herb to work with. I remember as a kid my grandmother bought Wild Cherry Bark cough syrup from this old fashion Rx drugstore out in I.V. Back in the early 70s. Me and my little brother thought we was getting candy. I decided I wanted to attempt to make this myself. The herb store in my town didn't have any, so I had to drive up to S.L.O. To get some. I searched online fore a how-to recipe and ended up using a YouTube video done by Herbal Mentor. It came out well and I even had a guinea pig to try it on.

Wild Cherry Bark has been used for a very very long time. It is believed that the early colonist learned about it from the Native Americans, and from the early 1800s till 1975 was listed in the standard pharmacopeias. Besides being used as a cough syrup, it's also known as chokecherry cause the fruit is sour and believed to invoke sweating in order to lower fevers. Also in old folk medicine the bark was used as a ingredient in tonics and was used both as a decoction and extract to drive out worms and used in the same form externally on ulcers and abcesses.

Recipe for Wild Cherry Bark Cough Syrup:
Because this does not grow in my area I had to buy it from a herb shop and I had to drive up to San Luis Obispo to get it. If you harvest the bark yourself, be sure to take the young shoot growing from the oldest stems in the autumn. First pick off all the little buds. Use a pairing knife to peel off the bark into thin strips till you have a decent pile. About a hand full and a half should be about right. I believe they call this type of recipe a decoction. Take the pile of bark shavings and put them in a pot. Put about twice as much boiling water as bark in the pot. I believe this is written as 1 part bark, 2 parts water? Anyway, enough water to cover the bark anyway. Let simmer on the stove for about 20 minutes or till the water is reduced by ½. Then strain it. Strain off all the Wild Cherry Bark. You should come out with about 1 ½ cups of decoction. Add about a ¾ cup of good honey. Not sure what brand I used. A friend gave it to me in a little bear bottle with no label. Stir it in so it mixes well. Then add about a cup of cherry juice for flavoring. I used Lakewood Organic Cherry juice in mine. Mix in well and bottle.

I had a friend who had a really sore throat and was coughing like crazy and I gave him some and it seemed to help some he said. He wasn't coughing as much anyway. My syrup came out more runny than syrupy. I think I need to use a little more honey next time. Maybe a 1 ¼ cup of honey?

Cite References


1. Lagow, Bette. PDR for Herbal Medicine. Third Edition. Montvale: Thomas PDR, 2004, pp. 120.
2. lbid., pp. 622.
3. lbid., pp. 877.
4. Dwyer, James. Magic and Medicine of Plants. Pleasantville: The Reader's Digest Association, Inc., 1989, pp. 117.
5. lbid., pp. 266.
6. lbid., pp. 334.
7. Ody, Penelope. The Complete Medicinal Herbal. First Edition. New York: Dorling Kindersley, Inc., 1993, pp. 41.
8. lbid., pp. 164-165.

9. HerbMentor; Homemade Herbal Cough Syrup with Wild Choke Cherry Bark;; 12/18/09.>
10. Mountain Herb Estate; Article: BORAGE (Borago officinales);; 12/17/09.
11. Shair, Kyra; Champaign-Urbana Herb Society;; 12/17/09

Module 3 – Option 3
Herb Lab ~ Results for the first two herbs in my herb kit.


Common Name: Alfalfa, also called California Clover or Spanish Clover.

Latin Name:
Medicago sativa

Appearance: Bright green and leaves are very bushy and full with clover like yellow to violet-blue flowers.

Texture: When it is dried it is very brittle. Crumbles easily in your hands.

Scent: Not very strong or very noticeable in small quantities, otherwise smells pretty much like hay, or should I say smells like Santa Ynez Valley, CA. lol (I'm surrounded by horse ranches and wine vineyards.)

Taste: I agree with the class consensus, it taste like grass to me. I haven't had a chance to try fresh alfalfa yet so I don't know if it taste different yet.

Tea: I was staying at my favorite campground in the Santa Barbara, CA hills called Davey Brown when I tried this as a tea. I boiled water in my old blue camp coffee pot and using a brand new bandana wrapped some alfalfa in it and dipped it in the pot and let it steep for about 15 to 20 minutes. Didn't taste that great so I added a bit of mint. Was a strange combo. Will have to experiment some more to get a good tea out of it

According to my PDR for Herbal Medicine and the Module 3's Alfalfa monograph, alfalfa is high in vitamins and minerals, vitamins A & C, Folic Acid (vitamin B9), Niacin (vitamin B3), Riboflavin (vitamin B2), and minerals Calcium, Iron, Magnesium and Potassium.


Common Name: Catnip, also known as Catmint and Field Balm.

Latin Name: Nepeta cataria

Appearance: A leafy plant with ridged tear drop shape leaves (They don't look heart shape to me), are green to a grayish green. The flowers are small with slightly curled petals. Are white with purple spots on them.

Texture: Like alfalfa, catnip is brittle and crumbles easily in ones hand.

Scent: Maybe I still have the Alfalfa mixed with Mint tea from the day before stuck in my head. But I asked a friend to smell it without telling him what it was and he agreed with me. It smells like a minty hay.

Taste: When I chewed some raw, I can taste the mint, but also I don't know how to describe it. It has a dry powdery taste, or would that be a texture. No it definetly has a powdery taste to it if that makes sense.

Tea: Again I boiled water over a campfire in my camp coffee pot and used a bandana to steep the catnip for about 15 to 20 minutes. Definitely a minty taste but with a slight bitter after taste that I didn't much care for.
Catnip has a long history in folk medicine in the treatment of colds, colic and fevers. It was also used to calm ones nerves and soothe migraines.

Cite References

Thomas, PDR for Herbal Medicine, Third Edition, New Jersey, Thomas PDR, 2004, Page 11 and 173

Module 2 – Option 2
California ~ Identify & research 3 poisonous plants in ones area and document your findings.

Common Name:  Western Jimsonweed, Sacred Datura, Sacred Thorn Apple, Indian Whiskey, Momoy (Chumash)

Botanical Name:  Datura Wrightii

Family: Nightshade (Solanaceae)

Methods of Poisoning:  Ingestion, also can soak into skin. All parts are poisonous.

Symptoms of Poisoning:  Respiratory depression which can lead to death, seizures, fevers, panic, lost of vision.

Treatment: Forced vomiting, the use of activated charcoal is used to absorb the poison from the stomach and gastrointestinal tract. Doses of physostigmine are intravenous administered if any signs of anticholinergic symptoms and agitation occur.

Notes: The Chumash here call it Momoy and they use it religiously in puberty rites as a hallucinogenic. Is similar to Datura stramonium (Jimsonweed) which is why it is called Western Jimsonweed.

Common Name:  Meadow Deathcamas

Botanical Name:  Zigadenus venenosus

Family:  Lily (Liliaceae)

Methods of Poisoning: Ingestion, All parts are poisonous.

Symptoms of Poisoning: . The known symptoms are, vomiting, slow breathing and heart, unconsciousness, hyperactive tendons and limbs, hypotension, dilated pupils.

Treatment: The usual, the use of activated charcoal used to absorb the poison from the stomach and gastrointestinal tract, saline carthartic (induced bowel movement), and forced vomiting (emesis).

Notes: Poisonous in high doses, though Chumash have been known to eat it's fruit with no ill effect. I have been unable to find out why this is so.

Common Name: Douglas Nightshade or Greenspot Nightshade

Botanical Name:  Solanum douglasii

Family:  Potato (Solanaceae)

Methods of Poisoning: Ingestion, also can soak into skin. All parts are poisonous.

Symptoms of Poisoning: Was unable to find anything concrete on this plant. Finally asked a herbalist friend and she said it was safe to say since it is looks like a pretty classic nightshade, she would expect it to cause the normal atropine side effects (Blurred vision; constipation; decreased sweating; difficulty sleeping; dizziness; drowsiness; dry mouth, nose, or skin; headache; loss of appetite; loss of taste; nausea; nervousness), including being a powerful anti-cholinergic that suppresses the parasympathetic nervous system as well as death.

Treatment: Most common treatment of poisoning caused by Nightshade is forced vomiting, the use of activated charcoal to absorb the poison or stomach pump.

Notes: When I chose this plant I didn't expect to find nothing beyond a description of it online or in a book. I spoke to two Chumash friends and they were unfamiliar with it which was strange considering it is a very common local plant. I finally ask a herbalist friend. Don't know how to site actual people from interviews.

Cite References

USDA ~ Natural Resources Conservation Service - PLANTS Profile for Datura wrightii (sacred thorn-apple) | USDA PLANTS - – (11/08/2009)

USDA ~ Natural Resources Conservation Service - PLANTS Profile for Zigadenus venenosus (meadow deathcamas) | USDA PLANTS - – (11/08/2009)

USDA ~ Natural Resources Conservation Service - PLANTS Profile for Solanum douglasii (greenspot nightshade) | USDA PLANTS - – (11/08/2009)

Montana Plant Life - Meadow Death-Camas Zigadenus venenosus S. Wats - – (11/15/2009)

Module 1 - Option 4
Definition of Herbs

Write out the definition of herbs used in this module. Explain how this corresponds with your own definition before you started this program. You may choose to google other definitions to see what you come up with. Be sure to note your sources if you do this.

ACHS President Dorene Peterson says that herbs are, “All those plant species, from the tallest tree to the smallest weed, that contain medicinal substances in harmony with the cellular structure of the human body and are capable of balancing the systems of the body to achieve and maintain wellness.” Also The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language includes the following definition: "Any of various, often aromatic plants used especially in medicine or as seasoning." According to the Dorland's Pocket 28th Edition Medical Dictionary, herbs is: "Any leafy plant without a woody stem, especially one used medicinally or as flavoring."[1]

For me herbs are all those plants that have either medicinal or nutritional value to us or any animal that can benefit from them. I like to point out that for me this includes plants from lakes and the ocean. I also consider plants used for perfumes, cosmetics and incense as herbs as well.

When I work with herbs, I prefer to wildcraft them, because I strongly believe that herbs that grow in their natural habitat tend to be stronger. I believe the herbs and other plants somehow share or effect one another when they share the same space. Also there's a reason why the herbs grows naturally where it does, and growing them in a alien garden next to other herbs it does not know as it's allies some how changes them.

This is all based on hunches or shall we say intuition. Most of my knowledge of herb lore is based either on intuition or has been taught to me by others. It is my hope to polish my intuition with a healthy dose of more scientific training. I feel you need a healthy combination of both intuition and science to be a good herbalist.

REFERENCE: [1] Saunders. Dorland's Pocket 28th Edition Medical Dictionary. Philadelphia: Elsevier, 2009, pp. 392.