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Photo by Matthew Sleeper on Unsplash

Added this Week: 2021-01-16

A New Year! I truly hope this blog finds you in good health and good spirits and that the world is just a bit brighter for you than it has been in the last few months.

For us here it’s time to settle into our winter routine of hibernation, snow shoveling, reading, lighting candles, and of course tea drinking. Despite the comfort that the heretofore warm and almost snowless winter has brought us so far, I do have a little nagging voice telling me we need snow; snow-pack for the much-needed groundwater of spring and summer, snow for those buzzing and crawling little parasites that will swarm if there’s not a good freeze, snow to insulate the myriads of seeds and bulbs from the variances of temperatures that will cause harm if left unchecked… So yes waiting for snow. Maybe at least just to have a snow day and head off for an afternoon of sledding with a jug of spiced hot cocoa in tow…

One of the bits of delights of this time of year comes in the infrequent moments when the clouds clear and you can find yourself in a sliver of sunlight streaming through the window with a warm critter snuggling in the chair beside you. The perfect finish to this scene? A good book and a freshly brewed cup of Rose Scented Black Tea.

One of my all-time favorite treats is a good cup of hot cocoa. I’ll have to admit though, sometimes, I am a bit impatient and don’t want to bother with the fuss of grinding the cocoa, heating the milk, adding the sugar, spices, stirring, oh you get it… So, I cheat. I grab the mix, heat the water, and add the secret ingredients. A grind of nutmeg, a dash of hot sauce, and a dash of Vietnamese Cinnamon. A splash of cream, maybe some Cabot’s whipped cream to top, and Oh, Boy! 

Ginkgo is considered the oldest living tree species on Earth and has been part of the herbal pharmacopeia for millennia. It was first introduced in Europe from Japan in the 1730s. It is reported to arrive on US soil in the 1840s in Philadelphia. The signature leaves look similar to the two lobes of the brain or of the lungs… Thus the herb is indicated for both of these systems. The Ginkgo we utilize primarily in our blends is Fall Gold Ginkgo which has the distinction of being grown and harvested in the US. In contrast to regular ginkgo, Fall Gold Ginkgo is harvested during the peak of autumn, after the leaves have achieved their golden color. Some herbal traditions recommend the use of leaves that are harvested at the point in the season when the medicinal properties of the plant are believed to be at their most potent.

Valerian is a well-researched herb containing the constituent ‘valepotriate’ which in extract reportedly seems to depress the nervous system. Indications are that the fresh plant is more sedating. Termed as “Nature’s tranquilizer”, Valerian reportedly calms the nerves without the side-effects of comparable orthodox drugs. Noted for a rather unpleasant smell (similar to sweat-socks) it was called ‘phu’ by the Greek physician Galen. Hippocrates noted the sedative and anti-anxiety properties and he often used it to treat ‘women’s diseases’. By the 18th century, Valerian was widely used as a sedative and to treat nervous disorders. It was also commonly used to treat headaches, anxiety, palpitations, high blood pressure, irritable or spastic bowel, menstrual cramps, epilepsy, and childhood behavioral and learning problems. 

As with all of the tinctures that we create here at UsefulWeeds certified organic herbs are macerated in certified organic grain alcohol for at least eight weeks in order to ensure the fullest range of alcohol and water-soluble plant constitutes before being pressed and stored in dark amber glass bottles to preserve the contents in their fullness.

~ References courtesy of the Materia Medica Resource

Pepper: The Spice of Life?

A solid argument could be made that the Peppercorn is indeed the Spice of Life. Even before Attila the Hun demanded 3,000 pounds of pepper as a ransom for the city of Rome, this spicy little fruit has been in high demand for its culinary and healing uses in every herbal tradition worldwide. Popular in India for thousands of years, black pepper is now one of the most commonly used spices in the world, adding its signature warmth and zest to every type of dish. In recent years, several derivatives of black pepper, such as piperine, have shown great promise in supporting the health of the digestive system. It only seems fitting that we humbly offer a generous variety to our friends.

Well, that a good start, I would say!
For now, it’s time to get out move some vehicles around before the snow comes.
So, we’ll be seeing you next time.
‘Till then, Stay Safe, Be Well, Stay Whole!

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