Saturday, August 30, 2008

Goldenrod (Solidago canadensis)

Today is a New Moon, and I celebrated by harvesting wild Goldenrod with my family. There's an old country road off the beaten path beside a big brown, muddy pond about two miles from my house, and the Glorious Goldenrod is proliferous there. Acres of yellow as far as the eye can see, along with Joe Pye Weed, Trumpet Vines, and Thistles. I've never seen so many bees and butterflies in my life! What a lovely day. Too bad that by the time I got home my camera batteries were dead and I couldn't upload them! My camera karma appears to be off lately. Technology and I do not jive. Thanks again to Wikipedia for providing a very nice pic for us. I do promise to post my pics when I replace my camera battery.

Goldenrod is a very common, widespread plant of the Asteraceae (Aster) family, and she grows in dry, sunny areas. Unfortunately, she has earned a reputation she does not deserve as a harbinger of late summer and fall allergies/hay fever. The lowly ragweed, green and inconspicuous, usually blooms at the same time as Goldenrod but lurks in the shadows and so her bright and beautiful neighbor takes the blame. The opposite is actually true ... Not only is she a sunny, friendly girl, Goldenrod is a very useful herb for the treatment of seasonal allergies and the red, itchy eyes and noses which accompany them. Matthew Wood states in his "Earthwise Herbal" that Goldenrod is specific for cat allergies. I'm hoping my friend Melissa, who suffers from a cat allergy, is going to test this for me in about six weeks, when my Goldenrod tincture is ready.

In "Medicinal Plants of the Southern Appalachians", Patricia Kyritsi Howell lists other names for Goldenrod as Farewell-to-Summer, Aaron's rod, Woundwort (not Stachys palustris, a.k.a. Woundwort, a smelly European mint naturalized in North America), Sweet Goldenrod, and Anise-Scented Goldenrod. There are between 40 and 60 different species of Goldenrod, but the medicinal properties of most species are similar.

It was too late for me to harvest the leaves (a wonderful stomach tonic) on this late August day because the prime time for Goldenrod Leaf harvest is before she blooms. But bloom she does and so I've started a tincture using coarsely chopped flowers (easily stripped from the stems), filled but not packed into a quart jar, covered with 100 proof vodka, capped tightly, and labeled. I allowed the flowers to sit and dry a few hours before chopping. My tincture will be ready to use in six weeks, and I'll give it a gentle shake or two each day in the meantime.

My tincture will be not only be useful for allergies and upper respiratory inflammation/congestion but also for sinus infections, colds and flu, and kidney/bladder infections. Goldenrod is anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic and antiseptic, and is a well-known kidney medicine, stimulating them to greater efficiency, particularly during times of disease or stress. Solidago virguauria, the European species of Goldenrod, has even been used to dissolve or eliminate kidney stones.

Goldenrod also makes a yummy medicinal tea (yes, I've tried it and it really is good), which is great for heartburn, indigestion, and diarrhea. Take that, Pepto Bismol! An infusion is a remarkable sore throat gargle. I used it with great success during a recent, nasty bout of strep throat, along with two Poke Berries, swallowed whole, and two dropperfuls of yarrow tincture in a little water every day with lots of good, clean water and rest.

I hope you find some Goldenrod where you live and give her a try. At the very least, give her a kind nod and a "Fare-thee-well."

Happy harvesting! :D

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Monsanto, GMO's, PCB's, Roundup Ready Crops, and oh yes, there's more...

If you eat (or breathe, for that matter) you need to watch this video. It's about 26.5 minutes, and it's serious stuff. I am not exaggerating when I say it could save your life.

Ever had questions about Monsanto, the safety of genetically modified crops, GMO's, PCB's, Roundup, "Roundup Ready" plants, Cancer, Bioengineering, Biotechnology, the standards by which these things are regulated, or how all of it is tied to government? Have you wondered what exactly is the big deal about organic food? Watch the entire video. This is REAL, and it's happening to you and your loved ones. This is our lives these people are playing with, and they aren't playing fairly. Sitting around on our hind ends thinking someone else will take care of this thing is irresponsible, lazy, and just plain stupid. I don't even have the words to say how it makes me feel, but it absolutely, positively scares me to death.

Anniston, Alabama, is less than one hundred miles from my home. My next door neighbors use Roundup every season. *I* used to use Roundup, many years ago before I became educated about it. Local farmers here are using Roundup Ready crops. And please don't get me wrong, this isn't just about Roundup! All consumers are affected by this genetically modified madness. My husband and mother are cancer survivors. This is a very important subject to me and I hope it is to you, too. After you watch the video, please take a moment and join the Millions Against Monsanto Campaign.

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Great Article on Eating Locally-Grown Produce

I wanted to share this fantastic article I found today at, by John Cloud. I hope you take the time to read it!

Eating Better than Organic

Monday, August 11, 2008

FDA Globalization Act

If you're offended by swearing, please read no further.

Have you heard of it? If you're a work-at-home mom or small business owner who manufactures "cosmetics" (soap, lip balm, salves, lotions, etc.), you should have. I read the 69 page draft. Of particular interest, Section 301, Registration of cosmetic facilities, on page 7 informs us that, "Section 301 requires the Secretary, by regulation, to require any facility engaged in manufacturing, processing, packing, or holding of cosmetics to register annually. These facilities will be subject to a $2,000 registration fee. The Secretary shall, by regulation, require cosmetic manufacturing facilities to report all anticipated and unanticipated serious adverse events. The Secretary shall also, by regulation, require that cosmetic facilities comply with good manufacturing practices."

Of course I agree that manufacturers of cosmetics should comply with good mfg practices, and that every product should have its entire ingredient list, inci names included, provided either on the package or an insert. Canada has "Cosmetic Regulations" which require mandatory ingredient labelling on all cosmetic products sold there, and I think the US should do the same. The International Cosmetic Ingredient (ICI) Dictionary and Handbook "presents, in detail, the bulk of INCI names juxtaposed with their corresponding empirical chemical formulas, technical/trade names, Chemical Abstracts System numbers (CAS No.), or alternate numbers" (from Health Canada). What more could you ask for? Don't answer that.

There is a copious amount of information about the FDA's mandatory rules and regulations concerning the manufacture of cosmetics listed in their Compliance Guidelines. They have the right to inspect any manufacturer without notice, but they can't afford all the extra leg and paperwork the new legistlation will require. If there were only 10 WAHM's or other small home businesses in every state paying the fee the FDA would generate an extra $1 million annually (remember, it's not a one-time fee) in revenue. You can do the math from there. Business as usual. I read on an FDA Law Blog in April that, "There are fees for registration, reregistration, reinspection, certification, certifying agent accreditation, laboratory accreditation, export certification, and importer registration. The Energy and Commerce Committee predicts that the food registration fees alone will generate approximately $600 million for food safety activities at FDA. In addition, the bill provides for the levying of substantial fines for violations of the new requirements. The proposed fees in this bill mirror the efforts seen in FDAAA to increase user fees as a means of generating revenue for FDA."

One of the reasons this makes me so mad is because I read at the that the FDA has performed inspections at just 1,500 of the nation’s *5,000* drug manufacturers since 2002. I find this infuriating and think they need to - once again - take a good long look their big ducks before they start eyeballing the ducklings. But the big ducks have government lobbyists and a team of expensive lawyers in every corner, don't they? Did you see the piece on CNN this morning about Gardasil? It's been linked (coincidentally, of course) to over 9,000 "adverse events" and 21 deaths. Please don't tell me the FDA is actually going to show up in Flat Rock to inspect my lip balm when they are already *3500 drug manufacturers* behind. The annual $2000 fee is a crock of shit. I don't think neglecting to monitor big pharma is any excuse to let small biz mfg companies slide. But I do think the fee is another way for them to make more money and that it won't change a thing, except for putting small time businesses, including work-at-home mom's who already barely pay their taxes and won't have the extra time or energy for all of the additional paperwork (and trust me, I am already struggling under a mountain) which will come with the legislation, out of business. They aren't going to effectively regulate WAHM production any more than they do Merck or Mary Kay. I was a bookkeeper and tax preparer for a struggling small business for eleven years and I know exactly how the government deals with the "little guy". If I stay in business for 10 years under this ammendment I will have paid $20,000.00 to Uncle Sam and have filled out literal mountains of paperwork. Surely there is an easier way to ensure public safety from my plantain salve. They don't give a hoot about your ethics or the quality of your products, they just want your money and a little extra insurance to cover their own asses. If they're going to charge us no matter what we say, they should at least do so based on our annual sales. Not that I really believe that would be a good alternative. I didn't even MAKE $2000 in my first year of business.

I support consumer safety 100%, and I follow every single guideline set forth by the FDA concerning cosmetics mfg. I wouldn't even mind paying a one time $2000 fee (even though I would have to borrow it ) to cover the additional paperwork it will take to establish ingredient safety materials for consumers. I do, however, respectfully decline the annual poke-in-the-rear, thank you very much.

If you support small businesses who provide quality handcrafted bath and body products, please sign the "Stop the FDA Globalization Act of 2008" petition.

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Thursday, August 7, 2008

Constructive use of time?

Nope. But here's what I learned to do yesterday (easy!) while my internet was down. Um, besides clicking on "Send/Receive" every other minute ....

There were lots more edited pics (got a little carried away), but these are two of my favorites.

Just becaue I love them....

And this is a pic of my Mom (and her older sister) when she was a baby! It's in pretty bad shape and I'm still working on it. Ironic how my grandmother had two daughters 15 years apart, and now I have two daughters 12 years apart!

More on the Southeast Women's Herbal Conference 2008

Once again, the link for program information is HERE. Click on the orange tabs for all of the details.

And in case you missed it, the full weekend schedule for 2008 (Adobe .pdf document) is HERE.

In addition to the incredible workshops offered by many well-known presenters including Phyllis D. Light, Patricia Howell, Amanda McQuade Crawford and Kathleen Maier (and many others!), three intensives will be offered. Pre-registration is recommended for intensives and there is an additional $45 charge for each:

Gaiacology: Gyne-Ecology, Herbs & Women, with Amanda McQuade Crawford on Friday, Oct. 4, 2:30 PM - 6:00 PM EST.

Healing with the Five Elements, with Patricia Howell, Sunday, Oct. 5, 9:00 AM - 12:30 PM EST.

Awakening to Our Power and Tapping Our Profound Roots of Womanhood, with ALisa Starkweather, Sunday, Oct. 5, 3:00 PM - 6:00 PM EST, post-conference.

Mel and I are camping, which is included in the registration cost, but there is likely still time to reserve a cabin or bed in the bunkhouse if you need one. There is also still time to make the pre-registration deadline on September 5! If you need it, Ride Sharing information is available.

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