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Pacific Yew bark tea  RSS feed

 
Landon Sunrich
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Location: Western Washington
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As I have mentioned elsewhere - I have one of the oldest and lastest Pacific Yews trees in my area - certainly with in walking distance or even within walking distance of anybodies house I know personally (and I live in a rather small expanding yet shrinking community). I think it is my responsibility to learn about (and from) this tree. It is a shade loving evergreen and its bark has been used to synthesize effective cancer drugs.

Pacific Yew is a tree that is naturally giving of its bark. Much like and even more so than western red ceder and madrona. It naturally sheds its bark in small sheets which pill bugs and others often explore.

Once a year for about a month I'm harvesting some of these dead sheets. I go for the ones that have a bluish lichen growing on them. Those ones grind up into a nice fine smooth powdery fiber in the palm of your hand with some thumb pressure. I crush dried nettle leaves with it and steep for ten minutes.

I make no claims about knowing anything about the medical value of the actual bark. It is just a renewable resource I have available which begs to be harvested respectfully. It's getting cold and I do like tea and it would be rude to refuse an obvious gift.
 
Dale Hodgins
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Yew is medically useful, but can also be dangerous. Taxol is the active ingredient in several cancer medications, breast cancer being the one that gets the media coverage. http://science.jrank.org/pages/7450/Yew-Medicinal-uses-yews.html Concentrations in one tree can be hundreds of times higher than in another !

The English long bow is made from yew wood. This was the decisive military weapon in Europe for 300 years, surviving well into the age of gunpowder. The trees were nearly all cut down in Britain during the reign of the long bow. Some of the oldest examples are in church yards where a taboo against their removal has protected them.
 
Landon Sunrich
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Dale Hodgins wrote:Yew is medically useful, but can also be dangerous. Taxol is the active ingredient in several cancer medications, breast cancer being the one that gets the media coverage. http://science.jrank.org/pages/7450/Yew-Medicinal-uses-yews.html Concentrations in one tree can be hundreds of times higher than in another !


Yes, I encourage everyone to use their own common sense and discression and know when they're out of their own depth.

That said. Thumbs up for the (completely understated) longbow history. That is a different Yew wood though, is it not? Deciduous even? Pacific Yew is a beautiful wood. The tree limbs seems to die completely leaving limbs to be harvested while the trunk remains strong.
 
Landon Sunrich
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and another thumbs up for the link. A cautious, measured, fair, and brief abstract on yew and taxol.
 
Dale Hodgins
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The European trees are straighter but plenty of bows have been made from good sections of pacific yew. All yews have needles and are coniferous.

Here's a few interesting videos. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EvKJcxa8x_g

This guy uses his 110 lb bow when he gets tired with his 132 lb one http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_DBiqrGOJiU

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GFSFRP2UR3Y This one shows stuff used in Jamestown

All of these bows are of PACIFIC YEW http://www.naturalarcher.com/?page_id=53

This one is about eating the berries and it shows a family posing for a picture, inside a churchyard yew. http://www.eattheweeds.com/yew/

An excerpt --- The Yew can kill you, very quickly.

Did that get your attention? Good. It should. There is only one safe, small part of the tree that is edible. The rest is toxic. What’s edible? The fleshy aril around the seed. The seeds are NOT edible though those who have eaten them have said before they died that the seeds had a good flavor. The same has been said of deadly mushrooms. What do chewed seeds do? They stop your heart. Any questions? The leaves are toxic as well killing, besides humans, horses, cattle and pigs.
 
Landon Sunrich
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Indeed Lots of good info on a variety of subjects as always Dale
 
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