Amber Westfall

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since May 26, 2011
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Recent posts by Amber Westfall

Hi Thelma,

I agree that probiotics are essential to reestablishing healthy gut flora after antibiotics.  I prefer powdered products that I can mix with water, yogurt or applesauce, but capsules will work as well.  Make sure that you get the ones that require refrigeration.  Probiotics are alive and prolonged storage at room temperature will cause them to die off.

Stay away from sugar, caffeine and alcohol until recovered, these all depress the immune system.

If your son will eat them, fermented foods like sauerkraut, kosher dill pickles, kimchi and kefir are loaded with probiotics, and the yogurt you mentioned.  Only thing is, you need to find them unpasteurized. And get plain yogurt without sugar and other preservatives.  Don't bother with fancy claims about probios on the uberpackaged, big brand stuff.   If you can find something local and organic, or even make your own, that would great!

To further help him recover, if he is not vegetarian, bone broth will be deeply nourishing and healing.  You can add shitake or oyster mushrooms to this to help boost the immune system.

Eating less and lighter foods in general will allow his body to spend more energy on healing, rather than digesting, particularly if gut flora is compromised.

If he has limited mobility due to the surgery, he'll want to make sure that his bowels are moving regularly.  Make sure he is adequately hydrated.

If there is pain, bruising or inflammation at the surgery site, or any kind of emotional stuff like anxiety, restlessness, difficulty sleeping, which are all common with people who are ill and recovering, there are many herbs to address this, but would require more information and would be a lengthier post!

Of course, it goes without saying that rest is a must. 

Best wishes for a speedy recovery.

9 years ago
Hi there.  What do you mean by spikey leaves?  Are they long, narrow and pointed or are they actually sharp to the touch?  The shape looks a like Artemisia vulgaris to me, but without a better closeup pic, the green leaves or the flower, it's very difficult to tell.

Is the stalk round, ridged and red tinged?  That would be another indication that it is A. vulgaris.  There are many other Artemisias as well and all are medicinal.

Good luck with the id!
9 years ago
I adore Queen Anne's Lace(QAL)!  AKA wild carrot, AKA Daucus carota.  The yummy carrot we all know and love today? AKA Daucus carota.  The domesticated carrot is the not very distant ancestor of the wild carrot. (So yes, it will cross with your carrot plants.  Left unchecked, our garden carrot will revert back to wild, in no time at all.)  QAL is as poisonous as a carrot.  But you definitely don't want to confuse it with poison hemlock, or water hemlock (two of the most deadly plants in North America).  Once you know what to look for, it's actually fairly simple to tell them apart.  One key identifier is that the stems of QAL is covered in fine hairs.  Hemlock has smooth stems.  So, remember, Queen Anne has hairy legs!  She also smells distinctly carroty.  Many of the flowers have a red to maroon flower in the centre of the umbel. So, if you're really in doubt, never eat anything without the red flower in the centre.

Once you know what to look for, the young leaves are nice in a pesto, soups and as a seasoning.  I use the flowers in soups too.  I fry them up like a fritter in a bit of oil.  Yum!  I've only just nibbled on the root.  It's small, tough and chewy, but there are ways of preparing it, in the right season, to make it palatable.  Just don't expect a big ole' juicy carrot.  The seeds make a lovely seasoning/salt substitute.

Medicinally, it has important uses, including natural contraception (I've been using it this way for over two years now).

Apologies for the self-promotion, but it's easier for me to just link to <A href="">my recent blog post on QAL</A> where I have useful links for more information.  The Linda Runyon PDF has an excellent article on using QAL.

Once you have a 100% positive ID of this plant, enjoy getting to know her.  Queen Anne's Lace/Wild Carrot is wonderful!
9 years ago
Many herbalists now believe that yellow dock doesn't contain lots of iron, so much as it makes iron more available and easier for the body to assimilate. 

I made this yellow dock and molasses syrup when my last blood test revealed that my iron is low.  The Dr. also mentioned the importance of consuming iron and vitamin C together.

Here's a video on how to make the syrup:

Other herbs high in iron include: dandelion, mugwort, chickweed, burdock root, and red raspberry leaf
9 years ago

Paul Stamets talks about the uses of medicinal mushrooms, mycelium and ecosystem remediation.
9 years ago

In this Herbmentor radio interview, Skeeter talks about how to sustainably wildcraft plants and covers  a few common plants of the PNW.

From the site:
"Michael Pilarski is a farmer, educator and author who has devoted his life to studying and teaching how people can live sustainably on this Earth. He has extensive experience in organic farming, seed collecting, wildcrafting medicinal herbs, plant propagation, horticulture, teaching, and international networking.

He founded Friends of the Trees Society in 1978 and has authored many books on forestry, agriculture, agroforestry and ethnobotany. Michael has been involved in the permaculture movement since 1981 as a writer, teacher and networker. "
9 years ago
Chamomile and/or catnip tea.  Both very safe and gentle for little ones.  And big ones too!  Just be careful, it's so effective sometimes I fall asleep mid-sip and end up coughing!  Oh and lemonbalm is nice if there is over-stimulation, anxiety or the child tends to get hot and sweaty.
9 years ago
Just read this book review over at Henriette's Herbal:

Haven't read the book myself, but I respect Henriette Kress' opinion!
9 years ago
I second the recommendation of Backyard Medicine.  It's a great book!

Another good one for beginners is: The Herbal Home Remedy Book: Simple Recipes for Tinctures, Teas,
Salves, Tonics, and Syrups By Joyce A. Wardwell
9 years ago
I'm pretty sure that what you've got is the edible plant goutweed, ground elder or Aegopodium podagraria.  I note the 'mitten-like' appearance of the leaves in the picutres you posted.  Other distinguishing characteristics can be found here:

Water hemlock can grow from 3-6ft high, goutweed from 1-3ft.  Water hemlock has a white bloom on the stalk which can be easily wiped off.  In my experience, goutweed does not have this. A good descriptions of water hemlock here:

I find that goutweed has a noticeable celery-like scent to the stalks.  It tastes just like celery too, but it's not as palatable once it flowers.  This year I dried a bunch of it and added it to salt, for a lovely seasoning.  If you still aren't certain- and the umbelliferae family can be really tricky- stick with eating the variegated kind of goutweed if you have it.  There's no mistaking that one! 

More on goutweed:
9 years ago