Scotia Scott

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since Mar 23, 2010
Laurentians, Quebec (zone 3b)
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Recent posts by Scotia Scott

'herbs for back pain...', a very comprehensive aritcle by Jim MacDonald, and in particular this section about Mullein Root:

mullein verbascum thapsus

Mullein is mostly thought of as a “cough herb”, but is, like Solomon’s Seal, among the best musculoskeletal remedies I know of.  While both the leaf and root can be used, I have the most experience with, and am partial to, the root.  To be honest, I’m not entirely sure that Mullein works by affecting synovial fluids, though this is Matthew Wood’s hypothesis: “It has a moistening, lubricating effect on the synovial membranes… so that it is hydrating to the spine and joints. It is often indicated in back injuries. People think they are untreatable and incurable, but an increase the synovial fluids will make the spine more pliable and comfortable. The vertebra will slip back into place more readily, pain and inflammation will decrease and the condition will get better."  So, that’s his thought.  What I know of mullein root (Matt uses the leaves) is that it is one of the most effective means of addressing back problems caused by or resulting in misalignment.  Whether or not it’s working via lubrication, Mullein Root has helped me immensely when my spine’s been kinked and I couldn’t straighten up, and I’ve repeatedly seen it work well for clients and students as well.  It seems to be most effective before the muscles react to the misalignment, and I’ve seen and experienced numerous instances where a single dose allow the person (occasionally myself) to just straighten right up.  I think it is specific to misalignment resulting from herniated discs, as well as in treating sciatica resulting from misalignment.  In acute cases, with all the nerve and muscle reactions that go along with them it need to be used more long term and supportively with other herbs, but after the acute phase has past and the back is no longer in “crisis” mode but still weak and not wholly stable, Mullein Root on its own can be immensely helpful.  I think of it among the most essential remedies to restore spinal strength and integrity.  5-15 drops is a good dose; you can also make a tea from the roots.
4 years ago
Thanks Julia, having little personal experience with pastured land conventional or holistic, I was hoping for some good news about regenerative animal agriculture after reading the article. It certainly does point out some weakness in the Savory position, so far as being able to reach out to a broader audience who will want to have the scientific answers that the journalist was looking for, and I hope those answers will become available once more work and research is carried out on the subject. If you have any particular links or recommendations to specific information or sites that address and detail successful applications of the method, I would feel great having some awesome resources to point people towards.
4 years ago
So the people at Cowspiracy have their own opinion piece about Allan Savory and Holistic Management up at their blog, in reference to some folks here saying they have not differentiated between industrial and remediative animal agriculture, seems they don't believe in the latter.
4 years ago
Maybe late with this reply, I would love to hear Diane talk about the individual/communal balance within communities, the difference in effectiveness of communities operating with communal space (ex. gardens, living spaces, other property) and those operating more on the individual property model (i.e. Kin's Domains, each family or individual having their own house, garden, pond, energy...).

Thanks Paul *
I have had success ordering seeds from Horizon Herbs here in Quebec.

But shucks! I just checked their site to see if they carry Slippery Elm, they do but say specifically they cannot send the seeds to Canada

You'll likely find lots of permie kin at this event too, should be happening again this summer at the farm there in Tatamagouche:
7 years ago
Wondering if anyone here has read this new book...

"Invasive Plant Medicine", by Timothy Lee Scott
The Ecological Benefits and Healing Abilities of Invasives


The Paradox of Invasive Plants
By Timothy Lee Scott

“Every plant is a teacher-
But as in every crowd,
There are always
A few loudmouths.”
Dale Pendell, Living with Barbarians

Many years ago, my wife imparted the idea in me “there is no such thing as a weed”, and from then on I’ve tried to follow the assertion of Ralph Waldo Emerson that a weed is “a plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.” As a practicing herbalist, with training in Chinese and Western herbal medicine, I recognized these prolific plants deemed ‘invasive’ as valuable healing remedies that have documented medicinal uses for thousands of years. A few years back I began writing an article to vent my frustrations to counter the mainstream version of these plants as insidious, noxious species sweeping over our lands with vengeance and malice, claiming no benefit to the landscape. Through my deepening with these plants, I learned that these opportunistic species are providing essential ecological functions for the Earth by protecting, enhancing, and cleaning the soil, water, and air in which they live. This has lead to my adventure into writing a book to demonstrate the benefits of ‘invasive’ plants, and to uncover the origins of this fallacy of the ‘bad’ plant.

Or as some surmise about the ‘plague’ of ‘invasive species’: ‘insidious’, ‘evil’, ‘destructive’, ‘threatening’, ‘pervasive’ ‘pollution’…

Today’s ‘War on Invasives’ is full of ‘scientific’ theories and far-reaching policies based on opinions of ‘good’ plants verses ‘bad’ plants, in which the federal government, various corporations, nature-based organizations, and the puritanical public allocates billions of dollars trying to control the wilds of Nature. Deadly herbicides, destructive removal policies, and a hate mentality divert vast resources that could be better spent on more imperative issues like habitat preservation, studying plant medicines, renewable resources, and repopulating the land with those unique plants that are on the brink of extinction. This war results from individuals and Big Business with vested interests, who have created the belief that the movement of a new, ‘exotic’ plant species entering a ‘native’ ecosystem is harmful to the surrounding inhabitants.

All plants have been on the move for hundreds of millions of years with numerous factors helping them along into areas in which they did not previously inhabit. The idea of a weed was born with the invention of the ‘crop’ some 10,000 years ago, as a plant that interfered with agriculture. The nature of a weed is opportunistic and we, as humans, have created enormous holes of opportunity for these plants to fill. They have adapted to be at peoples side, waiting for those favorable times to cover the exposed soils we are continually creating. Weeds have evolved to withstand the punishments that humans unleash upon them, with ever-changing genetics of form, function, and transmutation.

The plants considered ‘invasive’ today were brought here and spread around with the help of people, and were cherished for food, medicine, ornament, soil enhancement, and scientific curiosity. Over time though, these plants have ‘escaped’ into the wilds and have found an ecological niche, in dynamic equilibrium, amongst the different species within the landscape.

Within their niche, all plants serve ecological functions for their environment. Mullein, for example, will blanket the land where fires cleared down forests. This appears as though the plant is ‘invading’ the land, but after a year or two, new species emerge and diversity expands. Mullein has acted as a kind of Earth balm that eases and covers with its leaves the internal burns and helps regenerate new growth- which it also happens to do for the human lungs.

Forests are the lungs of the Earth, you know.

And while some plants provide food and medicine for inhabitants, some protect the land after improper clearing (Blackberry, Barberry, Wild Rose), some cleanse the water (Common Reed, Purple Loosestrife, Water Hyacinth), some rejuvenate degraded lands (Wild Mustard, Russian Olive, Scotch Broom), and some breakdown and clean up toxins and pollutants from the soil (Japanese Knotweed, Salt Cedar, Kudzu) and air (Tree of Heaven, English Ivy).

The plants are here for a reason. They are here to serve essential ecological functions, and they are here for us to use as medicine.

With the widespread appearance of these plants, we find the remedies growing all around us to cure our modern ills. The present day ‘invasion’ of plants appears to parallel the epidemic movement of pathogenic influences, revealing the symbiotic relationship between plants and disease. The plants are cleaning the technological, industrial spills and healing the toxic and pathogenic illnesses. They are offering economic opportunities for impoverished communities and providing restoration for both the land and endangered medicinal plants. The rampant wetland plant Common Reed has been found to effectively clean sewage waste, and remove 15 heavy metals and at least 11 common pollutants from the water in which it grows. We see invasive plants arriving to treat invasive, endemic disease, like Japanese Knotweed spreading in the same trajectory and at the same rate as Lyme disease throughout North America. Kudzu, nicknamed the ‘plant that ate the south’, is an endless supply of biomass and the roots are a nearly perfect biofuel, while also providing food, fodder, and medicine for economic potentials.

And we find powerful plant remedies to replace the endangered individuals that have been over-harvested for medicine, disturbed by development, and poisoned with industrial progress. There is Siberian Elm as a substitute for Slippery Elm, Barberry for Goldenseal, and Purple Loosestrife for Eyebright.


Nature is in constant flux. Landscapes do not stay the same. Plants have an intelligence of their own. And we have created habitats in which these ‘exotics’ flourish. I do know that many of our beloved places harbor these uninvited guests, but maybe we should let them have their space, allow them to play out their role, and make use of these plants when we can.

For they are asking to be of service with their abundance.

These opportunistic plants have staked claims on these places and parade around trying to get our attention. While much noise is made about these persistent plants, there is a silent story being told, with an important message being conveyed.

Though, so many times, the messenger has been killed.

May we all come to our senses, and begin listening to these bountiful green teachers of the land, who speak with an ancient eloquence of deep ecological understanding.


One version of this article can be found in the United Plant Savers, Journal of Medicinal Plant Conservation, Winter 2010; p. 16-17.
9 years ago
I am wondering about trying garlic in a hugelkultur bed.  I have just made the bed (mid-September) and am considering to try planting some garlic in it.

Perhaps the garlic will like the overwinter composting heat of a Holzer raised bed, though possible that this extra soil heat will imbalance the growth cycle.

Also, unsure about optimum ph and nitrogen for garlic.
9 years ago
To comment on the image and issue of rocks on the raised beds, Paul does write in his article on Sepp Holzer's Permaculture that:

"In the videos, Sepp's hugelkultur beds were about two to three feet tall. During the classes, he felt that the beds should be built to be a little taller than the height of the person doing the harvesting. And the edges are all soil. No rocks or logs. And the edges are very steep!"

Perhaps this is a new insight of Sepp's, in contrast to what he was doing when creating the image... or maybe there's some additional understanding to be had on the matter.
9 years ago
I have also been wondering about what Sepp might do for mulching on his raised beds. 

Particularly, seeing that he spreads a mix of 40-50 different seeds on his raised beds when they are freshly made (* see below), I am trying to envision the timing/relationship between seeding and mulching.  So, wondering then if the seed mix is going down on bare soil, on a layer of mulch, or perhaps the bed is getting mulched after seeding/after seeds germinate (or, perhaps no mulch at all...).

*  "While the JCB is still busy Sepp plants more than 1500 fruit trees here and throws out his seed mixture of 40 to 50 different plants."
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9 years ago