Old Ways Herbal: Juliette Abigail Carr, RH (AHG)

Women & Children's Herbal Clinic, Vermont Herb School, & Ramblings on Family Herbal Wisdom


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Frozen Yogurt Infusions: Toddler Magic

Turn infusions and decoctions into delicious, fun remedies that go down easy!  Frozen yogurt infusions are a fantastic trick to get medicine into kids who don’t eat when things go awry, and they’re especially nice for kids prone to tummy trouble.

 

  1. Make strong tea out of your choice of herbs, using either the infusion or decoction method (instructions here).  The infusion needs to taste good, so choose herbs accordingly.  Sweeten with ample honey for electrolytes, probiotics, and immune-boosting properties.  Make sure you can taste the honey.  Allow to cool.
  2. The best yogurt is organic, unsweetened, whole milk yogurt, either plain or in a flavor your child likes.  If you’re using flavored yogurt, make sure it won’t be disgusting with the flavor of the tea.
  3. Start with twice as much yogurt as tea.  Combine cool tea and yogurt in a blender until smooth.  Add more tea slowly until you have a consistency about halfway between tea and yogurt.  If the texture is a little liquidy that is okay.
  4. Pour into silicone popsicle molds (ice cube trays also work, but popsicles are more fun).  When frozen, they can be popped out and stored in freezer bags to make space for another batch, or just keep them in the molds.

I mostly use this trick for immune formulas (like elderberry, thyme, and hyssop), and digestive formulas (like ginger, fennel, catnip).

What combinations work for your family?

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Oxymels: Love in the Medicine

Oxymels: Love in the Medicine

Oxymels are one of my absolute favorite remedy forms.  There’s something about the sweet tang of an oxymel that seems to embody the love and heartfelt good wishes of the medicine maker, as well as the complexities of caring for each other.  They are delicious, versatile, high in a wide variety of medicinal constituents, and I can generally get them into any client–from the world’s crankiest toddler to my fussiest “…but it tastes weird” clinical client.  This delicious, nutritious medicine is a mineral-rich digestive aid, in addition to being full honey’s anti-inflammatory, wound healing, probiotic, and immune-boosting properties, as well as the medicinal properties of whatever herbs you used.

Any combination of honey and vinegar medicines is an oxymel, including fire cider and herbal vinaigrette.  There’s no wrong way to do this.  Following is my preferred method after years of puttering and experimenting.  I find that combining gently heated honey and raw vinegar gives me the perfect balance of effectiveness and palatability, but find your own kitchen magic and do what works for you.

I usually use equal parts honey and vinegar if everything tastes good.  If one of the herbs is especially bitter, I may infuse it in the vinegar and use half as much.  Sometimes I’ll use less vinegar if I want less of those particular herbs, as I have a pretty solid stash of both infused honeys and infused vinegars in my apothecary, so I’m often just mixing together existing creations.

My favorite herbs for oxymels are fragrant flowers and herbs, including rose, lemon balm, lilac, bee balm, thyme, and garlic.  I also really like using herbs with primarily water-soluble ingredients (more info here) like borage, as those constituents extract and preserve really well in vinegar.

  1. Infuse half your herbs in honey, instructions here
  2. Turn the other half of your herbs into a folkloric tincture using vinegar, instructions here
  3. Combine honey and vinegar in a glass jar or pretty bottle and shake vigorously
  4. Label with ingredients and date.  Store for years in a cool, dry place.

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Goldenrod: August Medicine Journal

Get ready for goldenrod!  This much maligned plant is a wonderful ally for allergies, sinus issues, urinary tract infections, kidney stones, sore throats, and more.  It is wonderful as a tincture, syrup, honey, or dried for tea.

Allergy syrup is my favorite way to use goldenrod.  I combine it with Tulsi, Nettles, & Schisandra, in raw wildflower honey.

I also love goldenrod as part of a cold & flu syrup, together with Thyme, Bee Balm, Hyssop, & Elder.

Learn to make your own Herbal Allergy Syrup with goldenrod!

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Identifying Lookalike Forest Plants: June Wild-crafting Journal

Solomon’s Seal and Blue Cohosh are blooming! 

This is a great time to practice differentiating look-alike plants.  Remember that Solomon’s Seal blooms from all its chakras, with flowers all down the stem, whereas Solomon’s Plume only blooms from it’s head, with the flowers protruding from the end of the stem.  Another friend that is sometimes confused with Solomon’s Seal is Uvularia, or wild oats.  Appreciate its diminutive size, flexibility in habitat–dappled sunlight or deep forest–and small, sweet yellow bell of a terminal flower.  Solomon’s Seal is on the United Plant Saver’s At-Risk List; in other words, don’t harvest it unless you have a ton–just love it growing right where it is.  If you don’t have a huge, super abundant population, you might try using willow, turmeric, meadowsweet, or black birch instead.

In terms of Blue Cohosh, it is not Black Cohosh, nor is it wild Columbine or Rue.  Check out the buds and blooms and be like “oh yeah totally, I get it, so different.”  Now is the time, my friends–follow the same plants through the season to see how they differ from their cousins.  Fun fact: the people who gave Blue Cohosh its scientific name agreed with the rest of us that those leaves look really similar to Meadow Rue–Blue Cohosh is Caulophylum thalictroides, or “looks like thalictrum” (the scientific name of Meadow Rue).  So fun.

Read more about the importance of ethical wild-crafting here.

 


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High Summer: July Wild-crafting Journal

High summer is all about the herbs of the field.  Harvest your St John’s Wort flowering tops now, as the flowers hold all the life phases at once: buds, blooms, and seeds.  Harvest the late roses for syrups, oxymels, sugar and salt, dried for tea, and every other delicious thing under the sun.  Rose hips will be coming soon, as will bee balm, goldenrod, & the wild mints, so get ready–July is a busy time for bees and medicine makers!

Read more about the importance of ethical wild-crafting here.

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Summer Meadows: August Wildcrafting Journal

High summer is all about the herbs of the field.  Be on the look out for Bee Balm, Goldenrod, & the wild Mints.  Keep your eyes on the hedgerows for late Elder flowers, and be ready for ripe Elderberries soon.  New England Aster will be ready before we know it, too, although it has a long and forgiving season, unlike Elderberry–the birds and raccoons will harvest your medicine for you if you aren’t vigilant!

As you wild-craft, remember to be respectful and loving to pollinators, plants, and other animals that rely on plants for sustenance, as well as other gatherers.

Also get ready for goldenrod!  This much maligned plant is a wonderful ally for allergies, sinus issues, urinary tract infections, kidney stones, sore throats, and more.  It is wonderful as a tincture, syrup, honey, or dried for tea.

Allergy syrup is my favorite way to use goldenrod.  I combine it with Tulsi, Nettles, & Schisandra, in raw wildflower honey.

I also love goldenrod as part of a cold & flu syrup, together with Thyme, Bee Balm, Hyssop, & Elder.

Learn to make your own Herbal Allergy Syrup with goldenrod!

Read more about the importance of ethical wild-crafting here

 

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New England Aster: September Wildcrafting Journal

New England Aster is almost here!  This has become one of my favorite early fall medicines to harvest.  It is so fun to be out in the sun on a crisp, early fall day, picking beautiful purple flowers at the end of the season.  Often I’ll harvest some wild apples or Eliagnus berries while I’m out, rounding out a lovely, mellow day (made even more mellow by the effects of this plant).

New England Aster is one of our best allies for lung congestion and constriction, whether acute, as in cold and flu, or chronic, as in asthma or chronic bronchitis.  I use the fresh flowers, but I know people are experimenting with roots and young leaves as well.  It is a warming, calming expectorant that brings heat and life to the chest, lessening congestion, soothing spasmodic hacking coughs, and improving our ability to draw in breath.  It’s also a calming, soothing nervine, decreasing nervous tension especially characterized by flights of fancy, anxiety, “what if” rabbit holes, and anxiety felt in the chest or stomach.  This is an ideal every day ally for those of use who feel allergies, anxiety, and weather changes in our respiratory system.  I use it often for acute respiratory infections as well.

Make a weight-to-volume tincture of the flowers!

Or an infused honey!

As you wild-craft, remember to be respectful and loving to pollinators, plants, and other animals that rely on plants for sustenance, as well as other gatherers.

Read more about the importance of ethical wild-crafting here.