Czech Apple Spicebush Strudel

Czech Apple Spicebush Strudel

For the holidays this year, Michael made his favorite Christmas apple strudel with a few local spicebush berries thrown in for a wildcrafted Appalachian twist in a dish in which the new world meets the old...via strudel! 

December 18, 2019 — Red Moon Herbs
Herbal Tea Hot Toddy Recipe

Herbal Elixir Hot Toddies

A new herbal twist on the traditional hot toddy gives this winter drink an immune boosting power and a tasty finish.
January 13, 2018 — Red Moon Herbs
A New Year of Nourishment: Nutritious Nourishment vs. Dirty Detox

A New Year of Nourishment: Nutritious Nourishment vs. Dirty Detox

January 1st marks Detox D-Day for many who practice the heroic or the scientific traditions of medicine. We all know what this looks like: a holiday season full of fatty richness and unhampered excess followed by a January resolute with green smoothies, lemon water cleanses, and partially used gym memberships. But in the Wise Woman Tradition, the new year marks a new season of nourishment.

We don’t cure or cleanse; instead we enrapture and enrich. Instead of living the ‘out with the bad’ philosophy, we think ‘in with the good’, feeding our bodies and souls and treating them with kindness, compassion, and love. We don’t resolve to persistently scrub our colons and clear our livers, because our guts and our filtration systems are already doing that for us, 24 hours a day, and far better than we could ever do it with all the diets in the world. We don’t detox, because we aren’t dirty.

You’re Not Dirty, and You Don’t Need Cleaning

There is an overarching ethic – which gets its time in the spotlight at this time of the year – that we human bodies are walking dirt bags from years past and in order to start fresh, we must get clean first. But have we forgotten that our bodies are already doing this for us, cleaning, filtering, and ‘detoxing’ in our waking life and our sleep so that we can continue living each day as fresh, whole, human beings? Each hour of each day, the body produces brand new cells and turns the old ones into waste products. Every minute, 1,450 milliliters of blood circulate through the liver after having been ‘cleaned’. Every 11 months, we have a completely new body made up of those brand new cells. We are renewed, replenished, re-nourished. And we didn’t even have to ‘detox’.

In the heroic tradition, which encompasses much of the alternative health world, pain is gain. Detoxing is purifying. The body is polluted, toxic, and sick, and only by hard work and careful cleansing can we get it clean again. We are filthy and must be controlled by regular detox rituals. Healing is the removal of everything bad from the body, and the addition of nothing.

In the scientific tradition of medicine, which represents much of western medicine as we know it, bodies are machines and herbs can be standardized into drugs, which fix machines. Health and sickness are always at opposite ends of the spectrum, and sickness is never a gift, never an opportunity, only a state that demands fixing. Healing the body through drugs and medicines helps the ‘machine’ to get back to a normal state of healthy function.

In the Wise Woman tradition, the world’s oldest system of healing and the one still practiced by the majority of indigenous cultures in the world today, good health is vibrancy, change, flexibility, and possibility. Health is an integrated both/and situation, rather than a black-and-white either/or dichotomy. Wholeness is ever-changing, unique, abnormal, and doesn’t involve eliminating the bad so much as including and honoring the whole. Nourishment is as simple and innocent as a steaming bowl of soup, as grounded as the powerful earth, as all-encompassing as the universal garden of healing, and as beautiful and perfect as you.

Resolve to Love Your Body for Its Pre-Existing Perfection

Trusting the body to provide you with your own optimum level of in-house cleanliness is part of trusting the body to do its job perfectly, provided that we offer it enough nourishment in terms of food, medicine, and emotional and physical engagement. It is like trusting the body to breathe, pump, and circulate the appropriate substances for those precious few hours of sleep you get each night.

This new year, consider resolving to love your body in its own perfect wisdom, rather than trying to scour every corner of it for bacteria and muck. The energy that you desire to put into detoxing is so valuable, but it would be so much better used in carefully choosing and preparing the foods that nourish your body, rather than trying to clear out any unwanted, invisible toxicity.

Those bacteria that we loathe are the same ones that grow the garden of our gut flora, those microbes that we want to purge are the same things that build up our immunity to viruses, and there is a good chance those toxins that we perceive are long gone, having being evacuated by our body’s own miraculous built-in detoxification system. Loving and nourishing yourself is a commitment to self-acceptance and self-awareness. Trust that your daily nourishing habits, like drinking nourishing herbal infusions, consuming nutrient-dense food, and using herbal medicine when appropriate, are enough.

How Can You Nourish this New Year?

Deep nourishment, soul-level, bone-level nourishment, comes from myriad different places. In the food world, we may grasp it from savory, warming winter broths and stews. We may suss it out of roasted root vegetables and lacto-fermented vegetables that are brimming with probiotics and the makings of good gut flora. And we definitely derive it from our daily nourishing herbal infusions, using the dense nutritional load of nettles, oatstraw, linden, comfrey, and red clover to get our everyday doses of fully absorbable vitamins, minerals, and nutrients.

In the emotional world, we find nourishment from rewarding relationships, personal time spent with the spiritual self, and the wonderful hibernation period that only winter allows for. Nourishment is all around us, nestled in the tree buds sleeping silently until spring, tucked under the first layer of snow in the chickweed that still blooms white beneath the January ice. This year is new, this year is nourishment, and this year, you can choose to nourish yourself in your personal perfection and in your own perfectly messy, perfectly clean soul and body.

January 08, 2016 — Heather Wood Buzzard

Unexpected Gifts

While walking in the forest recently with the kids, we found several of Earth’s bountiful treasures: whimsical witch hazel flower and a few lucky buckeye (Aesculus spp.) pictured here. We see the remains of summer’s leftover reishi (Ganoderma spp.) and lingering dried oyster mushrooms, fresh turkey tail (Trimetes versicolor), usnea (Usnea spp.) on branches fallen, a few clinging hawthorn berries and plenty of wild rose hips for syrups and teas (see both fruits pictured below).

These gifts of the forest offer their abundant fruit to us with no expectations in return, so we choose to give a token to express appreciation.

We may leave dried tobacco or herb from an offering pouch, a few strands of hair or a prayer of thanks. A neat winter gift for our bird and forest friends can easily be made using a pine cone or two as a bird feeder. These are gestures in the season of giving. Replanting the yule or holiday tree of cedar, spruce or pine can be a safe place for wildlife while providing cone seeds or evergreen berries as winter food.

Birds also forage on berries such as hawthorn (Crataegus spp.) beautyberry (Callicarpa spp.), Oregon grape (Mahonia aquifolium), barberry (Berberis vulgaris) and black haw (Viburnum prunifolium). All of these shrubs will soon be ready to plant in your garden or forest in early spring. Some of these shrubs have medicinal properties, such as hawthorn for heart health, barberry or Oregon grape as a digestive bitter and wound healer and black haw with its numerous uses, including support during threatened miscarriages or postpartum hemorrhaging.

I am humbled and ever so grateful to Mother Earth’s generosity even in the coldest season, such unconditional giving shared during the lean times is the ultimate example for us all.

Abundant harvests and gift giving year-round,
Jeannie Dunn, Director

February 01, 2015 — Jeannie Dunn

New Wild Cherry Bark Syrup!

Our new Wild Cherry Bark Syrup supports healthy respiratory function and is just the thing for soothing raspy coughs and sore throats from winter colds or allergies. We tested several formulas and found that this blend of elecampane root, wild violet leaf, slippery elm bark, and wild cherry bark extracts mixed with local raw honey offers the most relief for a variety of coughs.

Fresh local elecampane root is an expectorant to make coughs more productive while violet’s demulcent qualities help coat agitated areas. Wild cherry bark is traditionally used by Natives for aches and calming cough and slippery elm bark soothes internal inflammations and sore throats. And the raw mountain honey makes the syrup yummy and smooth.

The adult dosage is only 1 teaspoon per serving so a little goes a long ways. Add some to your medicine cabinet today to be ready for the next cold or sore throat.

December 07, 2014 — Jeannie Dunn

Finding the Light This Winter

by Jackie Dobrinska

Staying healthy means staying in harmony with the energy of the season. The Tiajitu – the yin/yang symbol pictured to the right – is a map for this. It shows that as we flow into the watery blue of the yin, we must stay connected to the seed of the fiery red. There is yang in the yin and yin in the yang, just as there is light in the darkness and darkness in the light.

To stay in harmony during these darker days of the winter solstice and the weeks that follow we invite you to consider the following:

Get outside. See the light of the sun on a daily basis – for at least 30 minutes. This is especially true for those who work inside or who experience Seasonal Affective Disorder. The sun helps increase serotonin levels, the “feel good” neurotransmitter.

Keep Active. Keep the blood moving by exercising your body and joints daily. Stretch, dance and walk. Choose activities that move in harmony with this slower season.

Stay warm and dry. In 5-element theory, winter is associated with the water element and the kidneys. Extreme cold can injure them, leading to emotional imbalances like fear and physical imbalance related to immunity.

Oil your body. Winter can dry the skin. Keeping it well lubricated will keep this organ – one of the largest in the body – healthy, vital and vibrant. (see “Rituals” sidebar) It will also protect our insides from the things we want to keep outside!

Cozy up with tea. During the winter, a plant’s energy is in its roots. We can help strengthen and tonify our own roots by boiling up fresh or dried root teas. Fresh ginger root is a favorite winter tea because of its warming properties.

Eat soups. Warm, grounding, nourishing foods keep digestion in good order during the cold winter season, and good digestion equals good health. Slow cooked roots, stewed whole grains, and salty miso and sea vegetables make excellent staples. (see “Soup” sidebar)

Take your herbs. St. John’s Wort, also known as “Bottled Sunshine” helps support emotional balance, nervous system function and immune system function. Wild Lettuce supports sleep function.

Relax & Sleep! During the winter we must be careful not to run our batteries down with stress and the plethora of holiday obligations. Instead, get plenty of sleep. Take time to relax with baths, body work, and daily massages (see “Rituals” sidebar).

Like the hibernating bear dreaming in her cave, the dark days of winter CAN bring much needed rest and respite when we allow it. Staying in balance means being in harmony with both the darkness and with the seeds of light contained within it. Doing so will nourish and carry you into more dynamic phases of the year, with more energy and ease.

Return of the Spring Maiden

by Corinna Wood, Director, Southeast Wise Women

For many in the Northern Hemisphere, February can be a harsh and bitter month.  It is often cold and dreary.  Yet at the same time, small but sturdy signs of new life begin to appear: lambs are born, ravens build their nests, days get softly longer, and the earth begins to be tilled. The fertility of the land is being reborn.

In Celtic Lore, Imbolc is the time of year when old woman winter is transformed into the young maiden of spring – Bridgid, goddess of regeneration and abundance. At this time of year, the ancient weather divinations asked “How much longer will the winter last?” Modern folklore has translated this into Groundhog’s Day – watching to see whether the groundhog will emerge from its hole and see it’s shadow!

Traditional celebrations use this time to compost what has become stagnant and plant seeds of intention for the coming year.  At Earthaven Ecovillage, we celebrate the season by honoring the fertility of the land – last year we tied elven dolls in the barns over where the animals sleep to bless their protection and health.

As the sun begins to strengthen, take a moment to honor the season, strengthening your bodies, minds, homes, community and spirits. Celebrate the life-force in your own life in whatever ways you feel most called.

Happy Imbolc!

January 26, 2012 — Red Moon Herbs