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Imagine something you can cook with, splash on salad, make medicines from and use to get rid of dandruff. What is this magic elixir? Raw, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar.

This wonderful alkaline liquid can electrify a bowl of kale or add character to a pot of collards while making the minerals in the greens more accesible. It’s a digestive aid, it can ease arthritis pain and lower fevers. It’s full of enzymes, rich in malic acid, potassium, sulphur, iron, phosphorus, copper and many other fantastic minerals. Who knew apple cider vinegar was so fabulous?

One way to get the goodness of apple cider vinegar onto your plate is by making herbal vinegars. To do this, you’ll need a glass jar with a plastic lid, apple cider vinegar and some fresh herbs. I’ve made herbal vinegars from raw dandelion greens, fresh rosemary and nettles. I like the convenience of getting the benefits of both the herbs and the apple cider vinegar by making the vinegar and including it on salads, in stir fries or greens. So I get the herbs, put them in a jar, cover them with apple cider vinegar, close the jar and let it sit for at least three weeks.

I remember my aunts adding apple cider vinegar to steaming pots of collard greens to make the greens more tender. Not only were the greens delicious but they were easier to digest because of the addition of apple cider vinegar.

Fire cider, a popular cold and flu preventative among herbalists and elders in the know, counts apple cider vinegar as one of its key ingredients. This strong mixture consists of garlic, onions, ginger, horseradish, cayenne pepper all thrown into a jar of apple cider vinegar. You can put a tabelspoon of this in water daily and drink it as a tonic during the winter. I have a friend who enjoyed his first cold-free winter season as a result of taking a shot of fire cider daily.

Funny enough, this elixir can bring the fire and rev up circulation when necessary but it can also help bring a fever down. In Family Herbal Rosemary Gladstar writes that bathing a feverish “child in a tepid bath with 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar added to bath water” or wrapping the “child’s feet in a cool cloth that has been dipped in a mixture of apple cider vinegar and water” can help lower the fever.

Besides being wonderful for our health, I know two people who have used apple cider vinegar in their hair and had good results. One used a rosemary vinegar rinse to keep her hair dandruff free, another used apple cider vinegar alone to add shine and fullness to her hair.

The way I most frequently make use of apple cider vinegar is in my food. With Spring just around the corner, I want to share my favorite kale salad recipe. This stuff is so yummy that my five year old and three and half year old gobble it up!

1 bunch fresh kale
1 tomatoe
1/2 yellow onion
4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
4 tablespoons olive oil
cayenne pepper (optional)

Tear the kale and place it in a large bowl. Chop the onion and tomatoe and add them to the kale. Pour the apple cider vinegar and the olive oil over the salad, add a few pinches of salt. This is the most important part of this recipe: massage the kale salad thoroughly. Make sure all of the veggies are coated with oil and apple cider vinegar. Let this sit for about 15 minutes. The kale will wilt and the flavors in this simple salad will delight you. Sometimes I add ripe avocado to this salad (I stir it in so it becomes part of the dressing)or a little cayenne pepper for extra umph. Enjoy!

How do you use apple cider vinegar?

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Lovely Mamawort in Flower (Image by Parks Service)

Motherwort: the name alone conjures up comfort. Her deep green leaves extend like gentle hands. Her pink/purple flowers let you know that there is something soothing about her medicine. Her small thorns let you know that there is something powerful in it too. I have come to see motherwort’s medicine as a lesson on the interplay between gentleness and strength: in order to truly embody one quality, we must wholeheartedly embrace the other. Keep in mind, her botanical name is Leonurus Cardiaca meaning lion heart.

Like most mothers, this is an herb that multi tasks. Motherwort is used to strengthen and invigorate the heart. A family member who started using motherwort to treat heart palpitations has not complained of them since. This herb helps balance hormones, is fabulous for menopausal women and women dealing with PMS. Motherwort plays an important role in keeping my moon cycles comfortable as it alleviates menstrual cramping and helps promote flow. This herb is also known to help those suffering from high blood pressure. Motherwort has all these great gifts, yet when I think of this beautiful, lion-hearted herb, three words come to mind: ease,rest,centeredness.

I started using motherwort after I flew into a rage at my (then) three year old daughter. I was at my wit’s end dealing with Serene’s daily tantrums. I felt isolated caring for my two girls for hours on end while trying to juggle endless cleaning, mountains of laundry, and constant errand running. (I am not a natural at this stuff) I hadn’t had a moment to hear my own thoughts in what felt like an eternity and I certainly hadn’t had a night of unbroken sleep in over a year. I snapped. My daughter began her mix of screaming and crying and I found myself almost standing outside of myself. I yelled back, shook my daughter by her shoulders, and put her in her room. It was not simply what I did, it was as the intensity of my anger that scared and shocked me. I felt totally out of control. I was trembling inside. “Do you have motherwort?” My teacher Robin asked when I told her about the incident through tears. That was my introduction to this healing plant.

This herb soothes our nervous systems and helps us get back to our centers. I have found that using motherwort gives me more space to reflect before I react. Sometimes, when my daughters are going off, I listen to them and then give them about ten drops of motherwort tincture in water. It helps!

I use motherwort when I am faced with intense feelings of anxiety, when I can’t sleep, or when my thoughts are flying by so quickly that even I can’t grasp them. I’ll take a dropper full of tincture (about 20-25 drops) in any of these situations. Taking motherwort feels like taking a deep breath.

I am discovering that motherwort’s gifts as a nervine also make it a supportive ally during times of grief. In her fabulous book, Opening Our Wild Hearts to the Healing Herbs, Gail Faith Edwards writes, “At times of extreme emotionally upset, when you can’t hold yourself together or stop crying, 20 drops of motherwort tincture can be taken as often as necessary.” This is an herb that nurtures.

Because Mamawort is very, very bitter, I prefer using her in tincture form. (The bitterness of this herb lets you know that it can do wonderful things for your liver too.) Enjoy the gifts of this big-hearted herb, they are many.

How do you use mamawort?

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They knew the land back then
even better than scripture.

Sassafras bark
dandelion leaf
red raspberry
made the journey from backwoods
to kitchens
into pots and jars and vinegars.

Seeds crushed
greens washed
bark boiled.

Our grandmothers knew.

They knew the land
like they knew husbands and children.
like they knew giving and pain.

Their hands indigo and work stained
weaving high grass into baskets
like the mothers they were stolen from
scraps of lost languages under their tongues.

They knew the land back then
our grandmothers did.

Would bury their children
and plant to keep from turning to salt,
would hum hymns steeped in a freedom they never knew,
would quilt their dreams,
harvest with stars

and we left them there
lured by clean nailed visions of progress
we left our kin
and the aching hands
that caught us when we were born

sometimes I hear them

their hopes
rustling the branches
of proud peach trees

sometimes I taste their stories

in the medicines of bitter
endangered roots.

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Sometimes when I am working with herbs or walking in the forest gathering plants, I think about my Great-Grandmother Sally Strong. My father recently told me about going into the woods with “Grandma Sally” to pick wild greens; the first time I served him sassafras tea he said, “I haven’t had this since my Grandmother made it for me. It used to be my favorite.” My father also tells me that when he or his siblings were sick, Great-Grandma Sally would go to her yard or to the woods and come back with something for them to take.

Quilt by Adesser Tallie, my grandmother.


Now I understand how I–a bona fide city girl who knows the NYC subway system like the back of her hand–could find myself so deeply in love with earth and trees and herbs and healing: it is in my blood. Really, it’s in all of our blood.

I am thrilled with this inheritance. By working with plants we can honor our ancestors’ wisdom and the earth. I am young on this path and  know that learning about herbs will be a lifelong journey; however,  I want to share some of what I have learned.

Come join me for a series of free herbal workshops on Saturdays in Queens, New York.

Osain’s Children: 4-week herbal workshop series with Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie

In Nigerian cosmology Osain is the master herbalist. He knows the healing secrets of all the plants in the forest; he knows the cures to the illnesses in his community.  What relevance does Osain hold for us in our fast paced, modern lives?  Osain’s Children is about the healers among us, the medicines growing on our blocks and in our backyards, the healing spices in our kitchens and the many ways we can use herbs to improve our health.

All workshops are free and open to the public. Spread the word and bring friends.
These events are made possible by Queens Council on the Arts.

Afrikan Poetry Theatre
176-03 Jamaica Avenue
Jamaica, Queens 11432
F-Train to 179th street

Mullein and me

November 20, 1-3pm: Osain’s Children – Video
Excerpts from interviews with Tioma Allison, Dr. Kamau Kokayi, Baba Rahsan Abdul Hakim, Yonette Fleming, Dinah Veeris and Stephanie Rose Bird. These beloved healers discuss the paths that led them to work with plant medicines, the challenges facing communities of color health-wise and how spirituality influences the work they do.

November 27, 1-3pm: Kitchen Medicine
Did you know that there are delicious spices in our kitchen cabinets that can also work wonders on our health? Come learn about common, inexpensive spices we see in our supermarkets every day that can help with sugar imbalances, digestive problems, arthritis and other ailments. You will never look at your kitchen cabinet the same way. You can check out  2 video excerpts from this workshop below:

December 4, 1-3pm: Making our own medicines
While going to the health food store to purchase herbs, natural remedies, supplements and syrups is a sound investment, it can also  burn a hole in your pocket. Come learn how to make your own tinctures, elixirs, and healing tea blends. We will discuss how to bring ancient practices of wildcrafting and foraging to our concrete jungle.  This hands-on workshop aims to keep us healthy and empowered.

December 11, 1-3 pm: Traditional African Medicine for Modern Times: A round table discussion
What practices in African healing separate it from those of Western healing? How can we successfully implement traditional healing modalities when dealing with modern ailments? What are the benefits of doing so? Come hear practitioners discuss their experiences with various forms of African based traditional healing including divination, plant medicines, color therapy, and sound healing.

See video excerpts of these workshops here:

Video 1: Kitchen Medicine: Excerpt 1 – Honey

Video 2: Kitchen Medicine: Excerpt 2 – Cinnamon

Video 3: Making Our Own Medicine

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My spice cabinet feels incomplete without cinnamon in it. This warming, spicy, sensual herb has been in heavy rotation in my home for awhile. Oatmeal is half asleep without a few dashes of cinnamon in it to wake it up. Chai, sorrel, banana bread–even carrots, all benefit from generous sprinklings of cinnamon in my kitchen.

Sometimes I boil water with cinnamon in it just so that aroma can sweeten the air in the house. I call it kitchen aromatherapy. (Real estate agents actually do this sometimes in the homes they are showing to inspire feelings of comfort and warmth in prospective buyers. Come to think of it, cinnamon is also said to attract money. So next time you hang out with a real estate agent don’t be surprised at the lingering scent of cinnamon.)

But the truth is that although I know that cinnamon is great for our digestive systems and our circulation and even though I have found it useful in combating congestion and colds, I never really gave cinnamon the respect it deserves as a powerful medicine until a few months back when it got my father out of a crisis.

My parents were moving to another state. All of their stuff was in their new house and they had taken one last trip here to New York to tie up some loose ends. I was seeing them in the space I had grown up in for the last time.

“Look at your father. Something is not right,” my mother said.

I looked at my father and it was true that something seemed off but I did not know what. My father has a variety of ailments; however, his type II diabetes is the one that causes the most problems. After a little conversation, my mother and I decided that we needed to check my father’s blood sugar. Turned out that the machine was at their new house. I had a feeling that his blood sugar was elevated. My mother was beginning to panic and threatened to call 911.

I decided we should get a blood sugar monitor. Then one herb came to me: cinnamon. There was none in the house, but unlike many herbs we could get this one anywhere at anytime. I had been taught that cinnamon balances blood sugar,  so I put faith in it being able to help my father whether his blood sugar was elevated or low.

My (fabulous) husband ran to the store and returned with a blood sugar reader and a bottle of cinnamon. My father’s blood sugar was 152 at that point. My mother was still thinking of 911. I took a teaspoon of cinnamon, stirred it into an eight ounce glass of water and sang a quick prayer to Oshun. 40 minutes later my father’s blood sugar was down to 98.

That night I learned that cinnamon is more than a fabulous culinary spice. Cinnamon is indeed medicine.

Have you had any healing encounters with cinnamon?

Ekere’s Special-Tea

(This is my slight twist on masala chai)

  • Three cups of water
  • 2 tablespoons roasted dandelion root (you can either roast dried dandelion roots in an oven or get roasted dandelion root tea bags from Traditional Medicinals)
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 green cardamom pods
  • a sprinkling of ground black pepper
  • 3 1/4 inch round slices of fresh ginger
  • honey
  • Whatever kind of milk you use

Prepare roasted dandelion tea and let it it sit in a pot.

Pound your fresh ginger with a mortar and pestle.

Put the cinnamon, cardamom, black pepper and pounded ginger in a skillet on low heat. Warm the herbs until the cinnamon changes color and the mixture is fragrant. Turn the heat off.

Spoon some of your tea into the skillet to pick up all the herbs.  Pour this into your pot of dandelion tea. Let the herbs and dandelion root tea simmer very gently, covered, for at least 15 minutes. Add whatever milk you use to taste. Let this simmer very gently for another 20 minutes. Add honey or agave or stevia and serve.


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A few months back I ran out of one of my favorite hair products. It was a delicious smelling, expensive, deep conditioner that left me scented of coconut long after the last bits of shampoo were washed from my hair. But I could not go to the store to grab more of that fabulous stuff as both time and money were short. ‘What can I do?’ I wondered. Because really–something needed to be done to pamper my dry, thick and tangled mane.

When I was a kid I used to spend hours perusing the books in my mother’s collection. One of the books that fascinated me was one published in 1971 called Organic Make-Up by Mary Gjerde. This book was my intro to kitchen cosmetics. I used to grab the honey and the oatmeal and make facial masks according to Gjerde’s instructions. I remember loving the idea that we could use stuff in the kitchen to make ourselves look good.

I think that spirit never quite left me because on that day all those months back when I could not buy something for my hair, I got the notion that I would go in my cabinets and make something instead. Now, as I headed to the kitchen part of me was going ‘This is crazy’ and another part was going ‘No, it’s not. This is what our grandmothers and their mothers did.’

So I got ta thinkin,’ what were the ingredients most likely doing all the work in that product anyway?’ Two things stood out: eggs and coconut oil.

Coconut oil is one of my favorite things to have around the house. I have one jar of it to cook with and another jar that is strictly for my skin and hair. Not only does the oil smell fantastic but it is a wonderful conditioner, my hair and skin glow under the spell of the coconut. So using it for a conditioner was a no-brainer.

Since eggs are protein rich I figured they would  feed my hair. As I reached into the fridge for them, I Suddenly remembered my Aunt Izola doing my hair when I was a child. (I had so much hair and I was tender-headed to boot). I remembered sitting between my Aunt’s knees as she parted my hair and put mayonaise in it before she washed it. What is the main ingredient in mayonaise? Eggs. I knew I was on to something because my Aunt is indeed a wise woman and at 96 she still has a full head of hair. After doing some reserach I found that folks have long used eggs to strengthen their hair, make it more manageable and give it some sheen.

So I grabbed one egg, scooped some fresh aloe gel from a leaf and added coconut oil to this. I blended it up and left the mixture on my hair for about 20 minutes. Wow! My hair was soft, easy to detangle and ready to be washed. I would have kept this little discovery to myself if it weren’t for Bianca. Bianca is a fabulous poet and painter who asked me about natural hair care recently. Since Bianca is exploring the vegan path, she took the egg out of the recipe and substituted banana. I loved the idea of using banana because quite frankly egg, coconut oil and aloe don’t smell so good. So this is the updated hair conditioner recipe thanks to Bianca:

Recession Proof Hair Conditioner

  • Two eggs
  • Gel from a large aloe leaf (you decide how much to use depending on how much hair you have)
  • 1/2 Ripe banana
  • Coconut oil

Mix this up in the blender, put it on your hair. Either use a shower cap to cover it or just let it marinate. 🙂 Wash this out after 20 minutes or so. Enjoy!

What is your favorite kitchen cosmetic?

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I began giving the girls their cough medicine. The house was cough free for about a week.

Then the weather changed again and the next thing I knew, I had a fever and was coughing. I got rid of my cough in three days by resting all weekend and drinking a cup of mullein infusion with a dropperful of echinacea tincture every two hours. I was thrilled.

But then Serene started coughing again. And then, so did Joy-Shanti. Buoyed by my own healing, I decided to take matters back into my own hands. I wanted my girls to experience something beyond the quick fixes that medicines sometimes bring. I was confident I had something in my kitchen to bring their little bodies back in balance.

The first thing I did was something Robin, my herbal teacher, had suggested earlier. She noted that I might be less overwhelmed caring for the girls if I wrote down everything I did to treat them.

I also realized that I needed to be more centered to be effective. Fear had driven some of my actions the first time around. Fear and feeling like I had to have all the answers. So I took a deep breath and decided on this treatment:

  • A ginger foot bath followed by garlic and goldenseal sock treatment
  • 1 teaspoon Chestall (homeopathic cough syrup) every two hours with 2-4 drops elecampane tincture
  • 15-17 drops hyssop tincture
  • mullein and echinacea tea every two hours
  • frequent vitamin c powder drinks

This treatment worked very well for Serene. In four days her cough vanished and she was back to her old tricks.

But not Joy-Shanti. Her cough got worse. She began having fevers every other day. Just when I thought she was on the road to recovery she’d cough more, get a fever and refuse to eat or drink much of anything. I made a syrup and I consulted Robin.

Robin suggested plantain, elder berry, elder flower and catnip. She also asked if I was giving Joy-Shanti a high enough dose of echinacea.  I went back to the drawing board.  As I did I gave thanks for the  biggest realization of this experience:  I have a community of people I can call on when I don’t know what to do. I don’t have to come up with all the answers alone. Knowing that centered me more deeply.

  • 1 dropperful of plantain tincture
  • 1 dropperful of elderflower tincture
  • 1 dropperful of Herb Pharm immune defense tincture
  • 1 dropperful hyssop tincture
  • 3/4 tablespoon elderberry glycerite (Joy-Shanti delights in elderberry)
  • 3-4 drops elecampane tincture in three tablespoons of rose hip, violet,echinacea, mullein, dandelion leaf syrup.

I gave Joy-Shanti these plant medicines three times a day and saw immediate improvement. No more fevers. Within seven days  there was no trace of the cough either.

I learned so much from this experience.

  1. You can be using the right herbs in the wrong dosages
  2. Writing things down takes lots of pressure off of a caregiver,
  3. Having one highly skilled herbalist to talk to about what you are doing can mean the difference between a trip to the emergency room or one to the kitchen cabinet
  4. There are times when it is absolutely appropriate to consult a doctor and  YOU will know when/if that time arises.

I saw a doctor during Joy-Shanti’s healing process when I learned her symptoms–particularly the off and on fevers– could be a sign of pneumonia. It turned out her lungs were all clear so I continued my herbal course of treatment. Keep in mind that in order to give effective herbal treatments, we need to know as much as possible about what is going on.

The other thing I gained an appreciation for is just how much we are taking on when we decide to be the primary healers in our families. There were many times during this experience when I was tired, frustrated, confused, searching.  I understood the urge to turn to someone else and say “fix this, please.” This situation reminded me that the path to healing can be a winding one. Compassion for ourselves and the people we are trying to assist is key.

And this is the thing I love learning and leraning and learning again: herbs work! There are so many gifts in the plant world. Nature is writing us prescriptions every day. I am so glad I am learning to hear.

What lessons have you learned from a particularly difficult healing situation? Please share.

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I want to share the winding story of a healing in progress with you.

The last month and half has presented me with the most challenging experience I’ve faced in terms of working with herbs to heal my children. It all started with a cough. There is something going around in New York. My friends and neighbors have been making beelines to doctors and emergency rooms with their children because of respiratory ailments. It seems like every time I get on the subway folks are coughing like nobody’s business. But I have always been able to handle my children’s coughs and colds. I use mullein or do a ginger foot bath, I use homeopathic cough syrup or elderberry syrup, I pull out the echinacea and presto: the cough is gone.

But not this time. This is a stubborn something that has bounced from my four year old to my almost three year old. I got rid of it all (using the methods I mentioned above) only to have it reappear when the weather decided it didn’t want to be warm anymore. Then it got ugly. Both of my girls got sick, coughing through the night, feverish, hacking, crying. I tried everything I knew but nothing worked. The girls’ coughing continued. Mucus echoed in little Joy-Shanti coughs and Serene’s dry coughing pierced the silence of the house at night.

After two weeks of no positive changes I broke down and took the girls to the doctor. He prescribed cough syrup for Joy-Shanti and said that Serene would be fine. I did not fill the prescription that day. Joy-Shanti had never taken medicine and I was none too eager to give it to her. And that night, an odd thing happened: Serene woke up screaming, hot and hallucinating. We put a cold cloth on her head and called 911. That night she was prescribed the same cough syrup her sister was. It was bizarre. The next morning I filled the prescriptions and gave the girls their cough syrup. I was unwilling to see my girls suffer because of my ideals. I was very tired and honestly felt that I was all out of ideas at that point.

What do you do when you’ve seemingly exhausted your herbal options?

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“I’m sorry we are all out of nettles.” This is one sentence that never fails to hurt my heart. When I go to an herbal apothecary or health food store in need of nettles, it is serious business. I’m not the only one.  Herbal enthusiasts who suffer from allergies will tell you that spring without nettles is guaranteed to be a bit rough. One of the reasons  many places can’t keep this wonder herb in stock is because it works so well at relieving allergies. Urtica Dioica, is pure green magic and once this plant gets in your blood, you will not want to be without it.

This prickly plant is packed with minerals like iron, magnesium, zinc, calcium and an abundance of chloropyll. Nettles nourish us on a deep level. They are healing for the kidneys, the urinary tract, and the nerves. Nettles are also wonderful for pregnant women and nursing mothers. I know I have nettles to thank for the fact that I had any energy at all when I was dealing with my newborn and my two year old. I drank nettle infusion almost daily then. The milk flowed and I was able to get things done. An interesting thing is that since using nettles and red raspberry regularly, I no longer have anemia which I had for over a decade.

Last summer was my summer without nettles. Everyone seemed to be out of stock. After weeks of classes, conferences, teaching, long hours and day to day household work, I found myself experiencing a kind of exhaustion I had never known. I could not figure it out. I was enjoying the work I was doing. I was eating (fairly) well. I was sleeping five or six hours a night, but I was lethargic. At times my hands even shook slightly. Herbalist Margi Flint, who was teaching at the Women’s Herbal Conference, diagnosed me in two minutes flat.  She took a look at my tongue, asked me to hold out my hands and said “Ahhhh, you’ve got an adrenal issue.”  I did some research and it all started to click. We run ourselves so ragged and deal with so much constant stress that our adrenal glands get all out of whack.

Christiane Northrup, M.D, writes, Here are some typical signs that your adrenals may need attention: You awaken feeling groggy and have difficulty dragging yourself out of bed. You can’t get going without that first cup or two of caffeinated coffee or tea. You not only rely on sugary snacks and caffeine to get through the day but find you actually crave sweets, particularly in the late morning or afternoon. (Perhaps you’ve even been diagnosed with hypoglycemia.) Your thinking is foggy and you have memory problems. You suffer from recurrent infections, headaches and depression. At night, though exhausted, you have trouble falling asleep as the worries of the day replay in your head and you suffer from insomnia. Ordinary stresses have an impact that is out of proportion to their importance.

I remember looking around me at the people holding Red Bull and clutching cups of coffee and realizing that I was far from the only one dealing with adrenal issues. My course correction was fairly simple. I needed to nourish my kidneys by going to bed by 11 (according to some holistic systems the most restorative time for the kidneys is between 10pm and 2 am) and by getting my hands on some nettles (which I did at that very conference.) Within a week I felt like a new person. This was a powerful teaching on the medicine of sleep and the medicine of nettles. It was also a clear signal that I needed to learn to deal with stress in different ways. Yoga, Orisha dance and meditation have all been extremely helpful when I am working to navigate stressful situations.

Another thing about nettles is that whey they are fresh, they sting. Some people actually sting themselves with nettles on purpose to relieve painful joints and arthritis. (No, I’m not kidding it’s called urtication.)

I sing my praises for nettles to any and every one who is interested. Have you experienced the magic of nettles yet?

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I’ve had turmeric in my cupboard for some time but I was somewhat shy about using it. Nothing I cooked seemed to call for its deep, complex, spincyness or that whisper of dry bitterness that brushes your taste buds when turmeric floats by.  Turmeric just didn’t fit into any of the culinary boxes I’m comfortable dwelling in and its bright orange for goodness sake! I had a feeling that an herb that looked that extroverted couldn’t help but dominate a dish.

But two things happened recently that have me cozying up to turmeric (Curcuma longa):

1-I learned that turmeric has a history of being used for all sorts of ailments from indigestion, arthritis, and poor circulation to bruise and wound healing. In The Yoga of Herbs, Dr. Vasant Lad, writes eloquently of the herb’s spiritual uses “Turmeric gives the energy of the Divine Mother and grants prosperity. It is effective for cleansing the chakras.” Of course I’d be attracted to an herb that can do all that.

The second thing was that I started cooking dhal which I have come to regard as the ultimate comfort food. Dhal without turmeric just wouldn’t be dhal. So I went into the cupboard and made friends with this fragrant, flavorful, brightly-colored healer.

If you want to get a bit of turmeric into your system, make yourself some dhal. This is my twist on a classic recipe:

1 yellow onion

1 clove garlic

a sliver of fresh ginger (turmeric is part of the same family)

enough coconut oil,ghee, butter or olive oil to do a bit of sauteeing in

1/2 pound dry red lentils (rinsed and sorted)

1 small tomato (optional)

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

1 1/4 teaspoons ground coriander

salt to tase

So I chop the onion, mince the garlic, pound the bit of ginger. Then I sautee them in the hot oil or butter. I add my lentils, the turmeric and coriander, stir them around for a minute and add about two cups of water. Once this food boils, I turn it down and cover it. Besides giving the dhal a stir and adding the salt, I mostly let it do its own thing for about a half hour. The dhal is ready when it looks like a thick soup.

Now that I have fallen into the zingiberaceae family, I find myself adding a touch more turmeric to the recipe. I also like to add a slice of dried astragalus to the dhal while it simmers. This has nothing to do with flavor of the dish and everything to do with wanting the immune support astragalus offers.

Let me know if you try this recipe. (Enjoy it with brown basmati rice or chappatis!)

Do any of you have any experience with turmeric as a healing plant?

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