Trees

herbal drinking vinegars for digestion + joy

As those of you on my email list know, I’m not a very make-y person. I put together some basic preparations, and obviously create custom herbal formulas for my patients. But I sort of stall when it comes to anything that hits me as cooking.

 

(Yes, I do make food for myself. But it’s a struggle. I’m writing a whole book about it.)

 

But some things are so simple and delicious, it’s just silly not to do them. And what I’ve got for you today is one of those.

 

In this video you’ll see me make a drinking vinegar, commonly known as a “shrub” or technically an acetracta (vinegar extraction.) These are tasty ways to get the medicinal benefits of herbs in a palatable package. (more…)

the forgotten garden flavor

When you see a lavender plant in flower, what comes to mind?

 

Maybe you think of bees. Or the familiar fragrance. That it grows easily without tons of water. That it’s just plain pretty.

 

If you know its medicine, you may be reminded that it helps heal skin and calm the mind.

 

But how often do you think of lavender as a flavor?

 

Until recently, lavender was a largely forgotten flavor in most of the United States. Its culinary renaissance has been inhibited by its association with soap — some folks just can’t untangle the tastes. But lavender’s profile is rising again, and you can find it in items ranging from tea to ice cream. (more…)

rites of spring: rose petal honey

Rites of Spring: Rose Petal Honey | Dr. Orna Izakson | herbalist + naturopathic doctor | Portland Oregon

Alchymist climbing rose in front of the clinic.

It’s full-bloom time here in the City of Roses. Which means I’m munching on flowers.

 

Did you know that rose petals are edible? Some taste better than others, and all are somewhat astringent. But the best ones carry both the rose fragrance and flavor. (Try them! Just make sure the plants aren’t sprayed with pesticides.) (more…)

the happy medicine of spring violets

April 18, 2019

 

Every year there’s one particular plant that grabs my attention and won’t let go. I’ll start seeing it everywhere. And I get excited in that way you do when you have a new friend — even if it’s an old friend.

 

So far this year violets are my jam.

 

There have been at least one or two stray blooms on my backyard plants since around Thanksgiving. They kept going all winter, at least a little.

 

And this spring they’ve been completely full on. Walking by my house, sitting on the front porch or the back deck, their sweet smell fills the air.

 

(Not for nothing their Latin name is Viola odorata. As in odor. As in fragrant.)

 

The fragrance is not as dramatic as some other spring favorites like Daphne (D. odora). If you’re not familiar with sweet violets, the scent is reminiscent of a certain era of little old lady. And for a while, it hit me in a not great way.

 

But this year… well, this year I’m all about it.

 

Violet flowers are used in various ways for medicine. (more…)

herbal steams for respiratory health

If you’ve watched my herbal origin story video, you know that thyme is one of my secret weapons for colds and flus — any kind of stuck or infected issue in the upper or lower respiratory tract. Steaming with thyme is one of my go-tos in the clinic, and one of the key practices described in my Winter Wellness Toolkit (Haven’t downloaded it yet? Check out the link at the bottom of this post to grab your copy.)

 

I almost invariably recommend that my patients with colds, flus or sinusitis symptom use thyme in an herbal steam. I give them a handout and describe the procedure using hand gestures.

 

This is the kind of thing that sounds confusing until you see it demonstrated or figure out how to do it yourself. So I made a quick video for you.

 

(more…)

when foods sit around and ‘go good’

Dr. O’s note: This awesome post was written by my friend Marina P-K, who lives in a Permaculture paradise of her creation in the northern Sierra Nevadas. She works with beings of several kingdoms — plants, animals and microbes — and shares her copious knowledge freely. Reprinted with permission from her blog, Cultured, Aged, Brewed, (“A docu-sploration of what happens when we allow foods to sit around long enough to ‘go good.'”) this article considers serious infections, building and supporting a strong immune system, and giving the body appropriate microflora through the use of traditional fermented foods. 

 

Warning, graphic pictures in today’s post. I think they’re amazing documentation of the body’s ability to heal, but if your stomach is easily turned I suggest scrolling down til the subject turns to garlic.

 

Today marks the fourth week in healing the holes my pig poked and tore in my legs. The puncture in my shin is growing smaller and remains predictable, but the cut on my thigh has become infected. I host a certain strain of staph bacteria. A neglected cut at age six resulted in a  swollen foot and a course of antibiotics. The doctor explained to my mother that once staph enters our blood stream, it never really goes away. My immune system can surpress and restrain it, but when a large enough disturbance tests my biological defense systems, staph emerges.  (more…)

herb and garden book roundup

Filed under: garden medicine,Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Orna @ 12:29 pm
viola

Violets in my back yard.

At the end of a talk I gave the other day about gardening with medicinal plants, a lovely woman came up to me afterward to ask about books.

 

If I could only have one herb book after the apocalypse/revolution/peak oil, etc., she asked, which book would it be?

 

Book geek that I am, of course I couldn’t pick just one. I cheated by recommending the new two-volume set, Earthwise Herbal, by Minnesota herbalist Matthew Wood.

 

Luckily (or not, depending on your perspective), the apocalypse/revolution/peak oil is not yet here, enabling bibliophiles to stock up now. Here are my top recommendations to begin or continue building your library. (more…)

Thyme for flavor and health

photo by orna izakson.

photo by orna izakson.

New Year’s day was as one of those perfect Pacific Northwest winter days — 45 degrees, misty and soft. The kind of day that smells and feels like earth.

 

My garden is pretty much hibernating. A long spell of deep cold knocked back the last of my greens. There’s a fairly even layer of deciduous leaves covering the ground, punctuated by bare limbs and decomposing stalks.

 

Still, it was a day to survey. And one of the bright points was indefatigable thyme, sprightly in the day’s gloom at the base of a fig tree.

 

Herbalists often like to play around with favorite herbs lists: If you only had three (or five, or ten) herbs to work with, which would you choose? On my lists, thyme always shows up. It’s incredibly easy to grow, tastes fantastic and makes powerful medicine. (more…)

top 10 garden medicines

A spring planting guide while you’re planning what to plant

 

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. (more…)

six great reasons to start gardening

wide purple basil

My favorite seed catalog came in today’s mail.

What’s new for 2010: organic Floriani red flint corn, green meat radish, Bolivian rainbow pepper, purple pac choy, ruby streaks mustard.

This is why I started gardening – I was awed by the incredible diversity of life I could sustain on my little corner of earth.

There were other reasons too. After my urban upbringing, I longed for the pastoral and bucolic ideal of self sufficiency and thriftiness. And certainly there were the political reasons: getting off the corporate food trough while promoting biological diversity and personal health.

But what really pushed me past reading and into action was a full-color catalog that arrived one Winter’s day. I saw purple carrots, speckled lettuces, striped snappy string beans, and a bright orange tomato that turned out to be an eggplant! If your vegetable education came largely from mainstream supermarkets as mine once did, you’ll understand my shock. Who knew there were purple potatoes, or that we could grow Thomas Jefferson’s beans or the Anasazi’s corn?

These days I’m a passionate gardener and my garden supports over 100 species. Here’s why you should tend a garden, even if it’s just a couple of plants: (more…)

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