Herb of the Month – Fireweed

 July 13, 2014   CHAMERION/EPILOBIUM ANGUSTIFOLIUM (fireweed) Fireweed is a common weed found throughout North America and Europe. Other names for this herb include: great willow-herb, spiked willow-herb, rosebay willow-herb, wild asparagus, and purple rocket. The name “wild asparagus” is used because the young shoots of Fireweed can be safely eaten much like asparagus. The “willow” in different variations of the name refer to the slender, willow-like shape of the leaves. And of course, the name “purple rocket” refers to the bright pink-purple flowers that grow in spikes – very similar to that of a rocket. Fireweed is truly a lovely plant with many benefits, to both humans and wild critters. It is a favoured by honey bees for its nectar, and...

Energy Drinks

September 10, 2013   As a health-care provider, I typically avoid getting annoyed at the huge variety of commercial products advertised as “good for you” (even though they are not), however I’m finding that there is one group of products I can’t ignore – energy drinks. The more I read about them, the less I like them. And it frustrates me to no end that these drinks are readily available on the supermarket shelf, easily accessible by children and teens. You might well think “what’s your problem – it’s just another version of pop”. Let me explain to you why these drinks bother me so much. You’re probably aware of the many “energy drink” products currently available on the market, and all of them claim to provide the...

Herb of the Month – Flax

August 10, 2013   LINUM USITATISSIMUM (Flax) Unless a person has been living under a rock this last decade, just about everyone will have heard of flax seeds. These small seeds pack a nutritional punch, and are an excellent source of Omega 3 (anti-inflammatory) fats. Flax seeds can be taken whole (i.e. mixed into home-made granola or bread and other baked goods), however unless soaked sufficiently before using in cooking or ingesting, the digestive system has a very difficult time breaking down the whole seeds. They do, however, impart a mild “scrubbing” effect on the wall of the digestive tract (especially the large intestine), thereby helping removal of waste build-up without causing damage to the lining. (Note: with some inflammatory bowel diseases,...

Herb of the Month – Nettle

July 6, 2013 URTICA DIOICA (Stinging nettle) Most people run in the opposite direction when they see the Stinging Nettle plant. I don’t blame them really because this herb needs to be approached with much respect, any other approach will simply lead to an unpleasant encounter, and trust me – Nettle will usually always win! What makes Nettle so fearsome are the fine stinging hairs that cover the entire plant. These hairs contain formic acid – the same kind of chemical found in ants that is responsible for the bite in their sting. Other interesting chemical ingredients in Nettles include acetylcholine, histamine, and 5-hydroxytryptamine (serotonin). (1) Nutritionally, Nettle is packed with all kinds of awesome vitamins and minerals, including (but...

Herb of the Month – Chamomile

June 1, 2013   Matricaria Chamomilla/Recutita (chamomile) German, or wild, Chamomile is a common herb that grows abundantly throughout North America and Europe. With its numerous white and yellow-centred flowers, feathery leaves and light pleasant fragrance it is a favourite among bees and insects.  It’s also one of my favourite herbs and, even though it’s labelled a “weed” in the area where I live, I encourage it to grow in my garden so that I can literally reap the benefits. There are a number of different varieties of Chamomile, including Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) and pineapple chamomile (has a strong fragrance and the flowers never develop white rays; instead they look like miniature pineapple buds) which are also...

Healthiest Chocolate-Banana Pudding Ever!

July 7, 2013   If you like pudding but don’t like the commercial kind (too much sugar, and too many additives), then this is the recipe you’ve been waiting for! Not only is it easy, it’s also raw, vegan, gelatin-free, and healthy! Did I mention that it tastes incredible too?! You’ll need the following: 1 ripe banana (organic if possible) – mashed or pureed 1 tablespoon organic, virgin coconut oil – melted 1 tablespoon raw, organic cocoa powder 1 teaspoon maple syrup Mix everything together and pour into cup or bowl. The banana pretty much turns it into a pudding immediately, but if you’d like a firmer pudding, refrigerate for a couple of hours. If you’d like something akin to ice-cream, put the mix into the...