Archive for the ‘Wellness & Healing’ Category

The Difference between Tinctures, Tonics and Teas…  via Oh My! – Nourishing Herbalist

…and infusions,decoctions,syrups,brews,etc. Basic terms you need to know when making herbal remedies.


Tear gas and pepper spray 101, from Occupy Oakland… | Tips for Radicals.

Tear gas and pepper spray 101, from Occupy Oakland Medic Collective. USA-centric, but still relevant to lots of other countries.

Tear gas and medical info for protesters, by Starhawk. Quite detailed, goes into respirators and stocking a protest first aid kit.

Who should avoid tear gas, by the Black Cross Health Collective. Contains useful health warnings, and also a bit more on remedies.

I think it’s interesting that one of these links is from Starhawk . Some comments on the original thread I grabbed this from dismissed the suggestion of Rescue Remedy. For anyone who doesn’t know what Rescue Remedy is, it’s a homeopathic blend of diluted Impatiens, Star of Bethlehem, Cherry Plum, Rock Rose, and Clematis . These flowers are thought to have “vibrational energies” that are useful for when people need calming or have had a shock to their system, both physically and emotionally.  Personally, I’m not a huge believer in homeopathy but I know people who swear by Rescue Remedy and always have some on hand. 


Three of my Little Preppers went on a walk along the creek in back of our house the other day to hunt down some ramps. DSC_0016

(I don’t know if “Little” would be the correct way to describe my older kids. They’re not so little anymore. One is actually an adult. So, I haven’t quite figured out a better thing to call them yet )

Ramps are pretty awesome. Some people call them wild leeks and they are close to real leeks but not quite. For one thing, ramps are much easier to clean and prepare. They grow in wet ,woody places, usually near streams or ponds and lakes. In the springtime , you’ll be able to smell them before you see them usually. They have a garlicky -oniony scent. To harvest, you just give a yank and they come right up out of the ground.

They’re really  pungent,actually. My whole kitchen reeked for a day or two after the kids brought them home. There’s a festival in Pennsylvania celebrating ramps that’s called “Stinkfest”.  Not hard to smell why.

In my area in upstate NY, local restaurants that feature local,in season foods love the springtime and ramp season. You use ramps in dishes just like you would onions or leeks but it does have a distinctive flavor of it’s own.

If you’re lucky enough to know where a huge patch of ramps is, you can make some nice extra income in the Spring selling your harvest to local restaurants.

There have been some problems in some places due to over harvesting and environment destruction. In Maine, Rhode Island, and Tennessee, ramps are on the “special concern” list . In Quebec, ramps are a protected plant species and you can only harvest a limited amount.

If you can harvest ramps where you live, it’s worth exploring woods and clearings to find them. Obviously not on private property but I didn’t really have to say that,did I?
They’re high in Vitamin A & Vitamin C and also a good source of selenium and chromium. Selenium is one of those super helpful antioxidants that may be helpful in relieving symptoms of asthma,cystic fibrosis…and dandruff. Chromium helps metabolize fats,carbs ,and insulin.

To use ramps, all you need to do is clean the dirt off of them and trim the bulb from the stem and roots.Use the bulbs as you would onions. You can use them fresh or store them in airtight containers in the freezer. I’ve never tried it but I do know that you can also use the leaves to make pesto. Some people also pickle and can them.



More detailed information on where types of spiders are located  : Spiders by state

How to treat spider bites








Damn right.  Lemons are good for a helluva lot more than lemonade. And you know what I love about the Internet? There are infographicy picture memes floating around that tell you all the great things about just about everything out there. It makes the writing part of blogging really easy.

So, here are all the great things about lemons:











See? SO good!

And of course, post-apocalyptic living …you know what you’re going to do with the seeds,right?  Yeah, that’s right. You’re going to plant those seeds and grow little itty bitty lemon trees.

Like this: How to grow a lemon tree from a seed

I happen to know this works. when my oldest son was about 5, we had been doing a lot of gardening at home and he noticed a seed in a lemon slice in my iced tea. So, we planted it. We had a beautiful and thriving little lemon tree for a few years but when we moved to a new house, the lemon tree did not adjust well to the change in scenery and died.  I don’t know exactly the cause of death but probably changes in sunlight or water or both.



Avocados have a bazillion health benefits. well, probably more like a dozen but the point is, they’re good stuff. They are also thought to be good in aiding breast & oral cancer prevention and for heart health.

Post-apocalyptically speaking, you’re going to have to be in the right place if you plan to use avocados as a resource. Avocado trees do not tolerate cold at all and grow best in sub-tropical or tropical climates. They could probably fare well in a greenhouse but grow up to 20ft, so that could be a challenge. If I was feeling the need to have a plate of loaded nachos with guacamole, I’d head to California where there are about 5,000 commercial avocado groves in existence. Although…without people, not all the groves would survive without artificial watering.

The best way to propagate a successful tree would be to graft from seedling root stock but you can start a seedlings from the pit,too. You’ve seen that done,right? You stick toothpicks evenly spaced around the bulbous end of the pit, place it in a dish or cup with water, and wait for the magic to happen. One of my kids always has said the bottom of the pit submersed in the water reminds him of someone who  has fallen into the toilet . I think it looks more like that when you’re using a cup rather than a dish.

Like this:

How to Grow an Avocado Tree from an Avocado Pit at The Hungry Mouse

[via  The Hungry Mouse]

Now, I can’t count how many times I’ve done this little activity with my own kids more for the lesson on germination than an actual survival skill but I’ve never been able to grow it past a very small seedling. I have seen it done though, so I do know it’s possible and  even knew someone once who had an indoor tree that bore very small fruits. This tends to be an exception. Most avocado trees grown from the pit won’t bear fruit or if it does, it won’t be the same as the parent tree. BUT, even if you never have avocados on your tree, you still have the beneficial leaves.  So,basically…if you grow an avocado tree from the pt, what you end up with is a very nice looking houseplant that has some medicinal uses.

Caution: The leaves are an abortafacient, so if you’re pregnant and wish to stay that way, don’t ingest avocado leaves.

Besides eating the avocados, you can also make your own avocado oil, which is good for skin conditions , not just cosmetic but healing for inflammations and abrasions.

Chills, high fever,sneezing, runny nose, coughing,achy muscles…all the crap that goes along with the flu or the common cold. Here’s some natural ways to ease the symptoms and promote healing and a speedier recovery.

  • Apple cider vinegar –  There’s a million things ACV can do for you ….reducing fever, for one thing.. Warmed apple juice may also help with fever reduction
  • Chamomile– known for it’s calming effect, it also it anti-inflammatory & antispasmodic. Excellent for relieving aches.
  • Lemon- It’s both anti-viral and anti-bacterial, so it helps to kill germs and keep viruses at bay. You can also use it along with vinegar to disinfect the surfaces in your house to prevent germs from spreading. Works great to disinfect dishes,too.
  • Garlic- Another one that has both antiviral and antibacterial properties but it’s also good for relieving nasal congestion and upper respiratory symptoms. For an ear ache, use some crushed garlic in olive oil & use as drops.
  • Ginger – One of my very favorites for coughs and colds, as well as stomach aches and nausea. Ginger thins the mucous in your body, so it’s especially good to help relieve chest congestion and encourage productive coughs. It also has a warming effect and will help heat the body, very helpful for chills and for helping to sweat out fever.
  • Honey – Another of my favorite multi-purpose cures for what ails you.Honey is anti bacterial  and can help reduce fever, relieve sore throats ,and ease coughing.
  • Echinacea – This is most helpful before you come down with a case of the flu or a cold but it can also be helpful during as an immunity booster and anti-inflammatory.

And then there’s always some good bourbon in Lemon-Ginger tea…with honey,of course.



Good luck finding someone to fill your script when TSHTF, ladies.

Ladies, you’re going to need to know this stuff for when The Shit Hits The Fan.

The premise that you’ll be wanting to breed like rabbits to repopulate the planet may not be so appealing in an unstable environment but never fear…you don’t have to use Lysol as birth control (yes, assuming you could find Lysol ).

Gaia Health Blog contributor  has some natural remedies that I can attest are some great (though not foolproof,of course) natural contraception methods. He covers The fertility awareness methods (FAMs) ,The basal body temperature (BBT) method, The mucus inspection method, The symptothermal method Lactational infertility,and natural spermicides. Read the whole article here

A quick word on lactational infertility and why I wholeheartedely agree with the advisement given in the article….

My own OB-GYN doctor used this method after the birth of her first child. 10 months later, her second son was born. So, there ya go….not really a reliable method. I know some women who swear it has worked for them, so individual results may vary.


[via Food Infographics ]

Three Must-Have herbs for your post-apo herb garden – Chervil, Oregano and Tarragon.

How to grow chervil

Growing Tarragon

My favorite use for Lemon Balm in the world we have at the moment is as a mosquito repellent.   You simply pick a few leaves, crumple them up a bit so that they’re bruised (it releases the oils in the leaves) and rub on your skin. The  leaves contain 24% citronella , a safe and effective natural deterrent against mosquitoes. You can also use the leaves to make an infused oil you can rub or spray on (or mix w/ a carrier lotion to spread more evenly)

In a post-apocalyptic scenario, the systems we have in place  for controlling mosquito populations would cease. We take those methods and even bug repellent for granted but in a environment where mosquitoes are allowed to breed and spread malaria ,West Nile virus,encephalitis and other mosquito-born maladies, a good repellent could effectively save your life.  There are some good sources of natural repellent but lemon balm is very easily found and can be readily available. It’s a prolific grower and there isn’t mcuh danger of running low on your supply.

Lemon balm is best planted in containers. It behaves much like mint and spreads like crazy when allowed to grow unfettered by a container. The advantage to this in a scenario where you might not exactly have access to a garden supply store or mail order seed catalog is that you can find lemon balm growing wild throughout North America. It’s native to southern Europe so I might assume the same can be said there.  You’ll know lemon balm primarily by it’s lemony scented leaves and it’s square stems.

Square stem!

You can harvest leaves straight from the source or if you want to cultivate at your home(base) , it transplants quite well. Usually a solid yank at the base of the plant will uproot it. Wrap the roots in moist heavy cloth or drop into a container with dirt (a mop bucket, a large plastic planter…whatever you have on hand) for transport.

Another handy use for lemon balm is to reduce plasma DNA damage in those who have had low dose radiation exposure when drank as a tea. I don’t think this is going to save your ass in a serious nuclear meltdown or bombing but with slight exposure, it could be better than nothing.

For normal, everyday tea drinking, it has calming properties and I often brew it with some chamomile or mint for headache and stress relief. It  also has anti-viral and antibacterial properties, as well as high antioxidant levels, so it’s a good one to use in any healing tea blend. It works on cold sores (herpes simplex) ,too!

Lemon Balm Tea

Use a heaping teaspoon per cup of tea of chopped fresh or dry leaves in a tea ball or other infuser. You can also make your own tea bags using coffee filters or other material such as cheesecloth. Steep in hot water for 10 minutes. Drink!

Lemon Balm Infused Oil

For topical remedies, such as cold sores and insect bites, it’s helpful to use as an infused oil.You could also use this as your mosquito repellent.

Here’s exactly how: