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…)

change your mind, change your life

Do you ever find your thoughts getting in the way of your life? That ideas you have about how things should be prevent you from doing the things you know you want or need to do? Have you ever thought that if you could just change your mind you could change your life?

 

In this video, one patient describes his experience:

 

 

Of all the treatments I’ve used in my medical practice, the most magic I’ve seen comes from using flower essences to address exactly this. (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…)

flower essence training with Dr. Izakson

It’s no secret I’m a plant lover. It’s why I went into medicine.

 

I love that plants reinforce our connection to nature, while helping us navigate the modern world. Nearly every patient I treat gets some kind of plant-based prescription, whether it’s a powdered herb, a tea or an herbal extract such as a tincture or a gemmo.

 

The plant medicines I use most in practice are flower essences. They’re safe and gentle, don’t interfere with any other prescriptions and reliably make big changes in my patients’ well being.

 

Here’s one patient’s testimonial: (more…)

smell yourself to sleep

Filed under: herbal medicines,insomnia,sleep,Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Orna @ 6:45 am

Sedatives and sleeping pills are some of the most commonly prescribed drugs, despite having serious side effects and becoming addictive to many people. Now German researchers have found a sweet alternative in an aromatic form: The scent of jasmine (Gardenia jasminoides) seems to activate the same chemical pathways in the brain as do drugs like valium. Benzodiazepenes, barbituates and anesthetics work by making receptors in the brain more responsive to GABA, a calming neurotransmitter. The researchers studied the effects of specific natural and synthetic jasmine fragrances and discovered they work exactly the same way as the drugs do, and are just as potent. (Via ScienceDaily.com.)

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…)

Dr. O’s advice for flu season

December 1, 2009

Natural advice for staying well this flu season

Originally published in Indian Country Today

By Terri Hansen, Environment, Science & Health Writer

 

Portland, Ore.—When naturopathic physician Dr. Orna Izakson looks at a plant she sees more than its stem, leaves or vibrant flower – she sees medicine. And naturally, she takes a natural approach to flu prevention and hastening a healthy recovery.

 

“Our bodies are trying to bring us toward health,” she says. “The responses we experience to outside stressors are our body’s intelligent response to that stressor. A fever is an intelligent response: It makes the body more responsive to invaders… and it makes us feel lousy so we slow down and go to bed so that our bodies can heal.” (more…)

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