One of my favorite teas around, Yarrow & Rose make a beautiful combination in the jar and the meadow. Whenever I'm picking yarrow in a meadow it's often growing between big beautiful bushes of white and pink roses. This makes sense to me, as they're both faerie flowers and lend an astringent, toning quality to the entire body. More specifically, yarrow helps tone the digestive system and breaks down toxins in the blood so that they can be flushed out from the body without too many detoxification symptoms like headaches, rashes, or nausea. Roses tone the heart, circulatory system, and feed the capillaries beneath the skin: perhaps this is why drinking roses makes one's skin rosy?
I like to take a big handful of yarrow and a nice handful of roses and throw them into a quart jar. I boil water and fill it to the top and let them steep overnight. In the morning I drink 1-2 cups warmed up on the stove before eating anything to flush my body, tone my organs, and nourish my skin from the inside out!
Oh, the many benefits of ginger! Warming to the body, detoxifying for body, cleansing to the liver, softening to the tissues, thinning to mucus, circulating for the blood, beautifying for the skin, intensifying for the chi, toning for the sexual organs, healing for the stomach, strengthening for the heart, and appealing to the taste.
This ginger tea recipe of ours will surely keep your immune system strong throughout the Winter or, if you're already sick, have this in addition to 4 cups ofhot yarrow infusion while taking hot baths for 3 days.
1) Begin with boiling 4 cups of water in a pot on the stove.
2) While the water boils, chop ginger into big chunks like so.
3) Add the ginger to the pot and let it boil for 10 minutes, then simmer for another 15.
4) Pour the water into a mug through a strainer and add:
- The juice from half a lemon.
- 1 dropper full of Mullein tincture
- 1 dropper full of Echinacea tincture
- I teaspoon of local, raw, chemical-free honey*.
Drink this throughout the day and you will be doing your body a lot of good. The lemon is alkalizing, which helps bring more oxygen into the blood to flush out pathogens and other anaerobic things like fungi and mold. The Mullein is cleansing to the lymphatic system and helps remove mucus from the lungs. Echinacea is lymph cleansing as well, but really good for boosting the immune system. Local, raw, chemical free honey is nourishing, gentle for upset stomachs, and loaded with special minerals, vitamins, and unknown magic (including natural antibiotics) that help rid the body of bacteria and viruses.
*I will do a larger article about honey, but for now I will say this: I'm a pure vegetarian and strongly believe in animal welfare but I find local, raw, organic/chemical-free honey to be helpful for the bees during their crises the same way an animal sanctuary is for retired farm animals. As long as they're leaving plenty of honey for their bees to live off of throughout the Winter, I consider it ethical. Honey is truly a food straight from the Goddess. That being said, it should only be used in small, medicinal amounts out of respect.
Dandelions? You mean that weed that we wage wars on in synthetic green lawns throughout suburbia? You mean that prickly leaf that sprouts up through urban sidewalks? That humble yellow flower that makes us feel like Spring? That magickal plant that wishes were blown on?
Yes, that weed. Dandelions are such a part of our culture, yet how many of us grew up eating them? What we've been missing out on is incredible. Dandelions are, easily, the most nutritious, powerful green on our beloved planet. They help balance blood sugar with inulin, clear up liver issues, beautify the skin, help the body metabolize fats, and flush excess water weight from the body within a few hours of eating or drinking them.
In my person practice I have seen women who suffer from hormonal imbalances rebound almost over night from drinking dandelion root tea. I've seen a gentleman without a gallbladder drink 2 cups a day to cure his incessant loose bowels and violent digestive response to fats. I've seen a woman lose 15 pounds of excess water weight within 3 1/2 weeks of drinking a strong quart of dandelion for breakfast every day. I've also seen skin issues like eczema and acne dissolve over the course of several weeks when raw dandelion greens are added to the diet. You can also read two fantastic articles from the Leafy Lady here and from my love Aemen Bell here.
How should one use dandelions? Here are my recommendations:
Eat The Leaves!
Eat at least 10 raw dandelion leaves a day in salads, in smoothies, or between meals. I eat about half a bunch as a snack after dinner. Not only does it help digest my meal, it begins cleansing my blood and my liver before I sleep which then helps my liver cleanse itself better during the night at its normal cleansing time. Stick your tongue out after you eat them and you will see the darkest, most beautiful green color that you've ever seen. This is the magickal chlorophyll doing its work at cleansing your breath, flushing out fungus from the body, purifying the blood, and helping the body assimilate vitamin D from the Sun.
Steep The Roots!
Take 1 tablespoon of dried dandelion roots per 1 cup of hot water and steep overnight. Drink it first thing in the morning to flush fat and water from the body. Drinking dandelion root tea upon waking also helps optimize digestion throughout the day. I like to fast on 4 cups of this infusion for breakfast until noon during the Springtime to cleanse out anything stagnant from my Wintered body.
Make A Vinegar!
Pull out young dandelion plants - root and leaves - and add to a ball jar. Fill with apple cider vinegar and let it infuse into the vinegar for 3 days to several weeks. Use a tablespoon of the vinegar in warm water as a tonic, or dress your salads with it for a mineral-rich dressing.
I was going to close with an insightful poem, but I'm thinking this recent email from one of my clients is far more raw and poignant than anything I could come up with about the effectiveness of dandelion.
Luis!!!!!!!! I'm dancing around the house because not only am I shedding water weight and feeling lighter but MY PERIOD HAS RETURNED!!!!!!!!! Thank you sooooo much for helping me!!!!!! I was so stressed about the loss of my cycle and thought I was in perimenopause but you were TOTALLY right about me needing to detox my liver!!!!
Staying strong on my detox!!! See you April 7th!! A million thanks!!!!
This past Winter showed us one of the worst flu seasons we've seen in a long time. From Woodstock, NY to the East Village in Manhattan, I helped hundreds of people prevent and treat, what seemed to be, a never-ending epidemic. I was coughed on, sneezed on, breathed on, hugged, and, at one point, kissed full on the lips (not by my choice) by these contagious beings yet I did not develop even one sniffle. Why? Yarrow baby!
Last November, on a beautiful Fall afternoon, my gorgeous partner (and personal herbalist) Aemen offered me a cool cup of Yarrow tea. Now, I have heard of love at first sight but I have never head of love at first taste: wow! It felt as if I was drinking in an entire garden - a monastic garden at that. The bitter taste of those magical, delicate white flowers was immediately greeted with the heavenly taste of floral bliss. I could feel it going to work immediately.
Yarrow has, both, anti-septic and anti-viral properties. This means that it is good at sweeping the blood clean and protecting the body against viruses like influenza. It contains a volatile oil, called Alchillein, and tannic acid that tones the body's tissues, strengthens the liver, and stimulates bile production. Its tonifying properties make it a wonderful herb for lessing symptoms of PMS, as well as for anyone dealing with a sluggish interior from years of toxicity.
Yarrow's detoxification properties are unique among other herbs because it gathers the body's impurities then, like a detergent, breaks them down to be easily removed from the body. This allows the blood to be swept clean without us having to deal with headaches, nausea, and other undesired detoxification symptoms that usually arise during a cleanse. Along with breaking down toxins, Yarrow inreases the circulation of the lymph to quickly flush out those toxins. It also increases circulation to the skin, and stimulates our pores to open and release waste - making it, of many things, a beautifying herb. Furthermore,Yarrow is an excellent herb for balancing blood sugar, making it an excellent fasting tea.
I had recently moved from the city and I had been dealing with a harsh skin rash, hypoglycemia, and general fatigue. Within days of drinking yarrow tea my skin became clearer, my blood sugar started to stabalize, and my energy had returned back to me. Since then I fast on 4 cups of yarrow tea every morning until lunch. I believe this, along with an organic whole food diet, kept me healthy during the flu season and continues to rebuild the health of my body and my skin. I even came down with food poisoning three days ago and, after fasting on Yarrow tea for the day of, managed to overcome the toxicity of the food within 12 hours - without a fever, a chill, or even diarrhea. The Yarrow simply pulled out the toxins before they even entered my tissues. Amazing!
Yarrow is, undoubtedly, my herb of choice for balance, detoxification, and immunity. I recommend making a tea from Yarrow flowers. The whole flowers are much stronger, however the cut and sifted will also work well if the whole flowers cannot be found. Use, roughly, a tablespoon of the cut and sifted per 1 cup of boiling water. The whole flowers can be used in the same proportion. I make 4 cups worth before bedtime, screw on a lid, and let it steep until I awake. This makes an extremely potent tea that helps me wake up, cleanse, and build my body and mind for the day ahead of me.
"Yarrow sings of fevers, of cold sores, and of flus,
And to intestinal pain he certainly rues.
Songs of rashes and scratches, clean blood and short fasting,
For help with all these, Yarrow tea is quite lasting."
- From the book "10 Essential Herbs" by Lalitha Thomas
Ostara, Easter, Passover, Spring Equinox - whatever you call it we're all united in celebrating the same key elements of Spring: more daylight, planting seeds, and the fertility of the Earth!
Many of us think of rabbits and eggs at this time of year, but rabbits don't lay eggs - and neither did Jesus. What do these symbols represent and how did they come to be such firm traditions in the lives of most religious and non-religious peoples? I think the excerpt below from Paulina Campanelli's book "Wheel Of The Year" explains it the best:
"There is little doubt that clutches of eggs laid by many different kinds of birds in the Spring were a welcome dietary supplement to early hunter/gatherers after the sparseness of Winter. It is also possible that gathering a variety of eggs from the nests of birds...gave rise to two customs still popular today - the Easter egg hunt and coloring eggs in imitation of the various pastel colors of the eggs of wild birds."
Eggs are symbolic of fertility, birth, and something new coming into our lives. Spring is magical, as it comes after months of barren, cold Winter when everything looks and feels dead. It is a time to reflect on our goals, our inner births, and our inner cleansing. Winter was cold, so we may have put on some extra weight to keep warm and strong. Spring comes with a cleansing, green, lightness that allows us to shed the excess that came with Winter. Here are some simple ways to start:
Dandelion Root Infusions
Dandelion is one of our favorite herbs. I would write more about it but, since my charming holistic partner in crime has already done so here, I'll save her, and all of you, from being redundant.
Use one tablespoon of dried dandelion root to one cup of boiling water. We like to use the four cup mason jars and steep it overnight, then drink it in the morning. Steeping it overnight makes a potent brew that will flush out excess water weight, add minerals to your blood and bones, alkalize your body, and help the body to better metabolize fats. Add dried yellowdock and burdock root and you will have a very potent liver cleansing tea that is sure to spring you ahead into the new season. Roasted Dandelion and Chicory root tea is another great way to clean your blood and liver after a dense Winter. You can read my article about it here.
If you're like us, most of your Winter fare has consisted of porridge, stews, and salty soups. Now it is time to walk away from the sodium-laden foods and toward the potassium that is abundant in green sprouts. Sprouts are super concentrated in enzymes, minerals, and phytonutrients. Some health experts even claim that brocolli sprouts are more nutritionally potent than a whole head of brocolli. Add a liberal handful to salads and sandwiches each day.
Green powders are made from the dehydrated juices, or whole leaves, of wheat grass, barley grass, alfalfa, and other young green grasses. They are naturally gluten free, inexpensive, and a potent, convenient source of chlorophyll, potassium, beta-carotene, and enzymes. Start each morning with a scoop of green powder in pure water on an empty stomach.
In addition to these foods, supplements, and herbs it helps to generally incorporate more vegetable foods into your diet, instead of animal foods. The potency of animal foods that may provide nourishment in the Winter is no longer necessary in the Spring and Summer months. It can actually become detrimental to your health. Incorporate whole grains, lightly steamed vegetables, raw salads, sprouts, and fresh seeds into your Spring regimen.
The cleaner your diet, the cleaner your blood and liver. When your blood is clean, disease cannot live in it. Breathe in the fresh, crisp air of Spring and affirm your own fertility, growth, and plans for the Summer. Nourishing your body is the first step to nourishing your life.
After a long, and intensely cold Winter, Spring has finally arrived! The snow has melted and the warm Sun is giving life to a fertile Earth full of young green shoots, budding trees, and beautiful flowers. Plants are bursting open, animals are emerging from their hibernation, and plants are breaking through the soil. This is a very explosive time of year, but not just for plants. People, too, are feeling like their heads are about to explode from allergies. Thankfully, the Earth has provided us with all we need to prevent allergies. All we have to do is take her remedies.
Stinging Nettles are amazing at preventing allergies. They contain special compounds that act as natural anti-histamines and are naturally anti-inflammatory. They also contain an abundant amount of chlorophyll to keep the blood clear of pathogens, as well as many minerals to help alkalize the body. Read more about Nettles here.
How To Take: Add 4 tablespoons of Nettles into a mason jar, then fill it with four cups of boiling water. Close tightly with a lid and allow it to steep overnight. Strain in the morning and drink 2-4 cups each day. You may also make a strong infusion of Nettles by adding 10 tablespoons (or 1 ounce) to four cups of boiling water and let it steep overnight. You need only drink 1-2 cups each day of this strong infusion.
Local Bee Pollen
Local bee pollen is another fantastic way to prevent allergies. Aside from containing valuable minerals, vitamins, and enzymes bee pollen is loaded with, believe it or not, the pollen of flowering trees and plants. This works under the homeopathic principles of "like heals like". When the blood contains pollen, the body is naturally immunized to pollen in the air and is then unaffected during allergy season. It is very important, however, that your bee pollen is local. If you're living in New York but you're eating pollen from plants in New Zealand, chances are you're not living around the same plants and your bee pollen, though nutritionally sound, will do very little in the prevention of allergies. In addition to being local, make sure the bee pollen is organic or harvested from bees that gather pollen from wild plants, rather than pesticide-laden farmed ones. It's also very important to make sure that the bees are being treated with respect and that the farming principles work toward sustaining them, rather than simply farming them.
How To Take: Start by testing the bee pollen for any allergic reactions. Those who are allergic to bees may also be allergic to the pollen. Start by rubbing the pellets, along with some saliva, into the back of your hand. Look for a rash. If no rash appears, try a few pellets in your mouth but do not swallow. Spit them out after a minute or so and see if your tongue becomes swollen or itchy. If there is no reaction, go ahead and begin taking a dime-sized amount each day. You can work up to 1 teaspoon twice daily. If there is a reaction, try introducing it into your body in very small amounts until your body accepts it. If irritations persists, discontinue use.
I'm allergic to bees and I find that my throat begins to itch when I start taking bee pollen, however after three or four days it goes away and I can eat it without any problems.
Quercetin is a bioflavonoid (a compound of citrus fruits and vitamin C) that works as a strong anti-oxidant as well as a strong anti-histamine. I have found 500mg of Quercetin twice daily, along with 1500mg of Nettles (or 2 C of strong infusion) each day to be very effective in treating and preventing allergies. Taking Quercetin with a whole food Vitamin C will double its abilities. It's important to also make sure that the Quercetin is a whole food supplement. I've seen synthetic Quercetin work as well, but nothing compares to the quality of a whole food supplement. Quercetin is mostly found in onions, garlic, and in the skin of red apples.
How To Take: Take 500mg of Quercetin 1-2 times daily.
My overall protocol for allergies is 1tsp. of bee pollen and 4 cups of Nettle tea each day. I find eating the bee pollen first thing in the morning is key to absorbing it and allowing it to work faster. Add Quercetin to your regimen if you find that the bee pollen and Nettles isn't working as well as you hoped. Reducing dairy from your diet is also very helpful in the prevention of allergies. The body will have less mucus and congestion this way. Starting this regimen six weeks before allergy season is key to making it work the best, but starting it two weeks ahead of time (now) can also help greatly.
Eating plenty of fresh young greens will keep the blood clean with chlorophyll and flush out excess pollen and pathogens that add to congestion and general allergy symptoms. Do not fear the Earth and shut her out due to allergies. Instead, give into her with Nettles, bee pollen, and get plenty of fresh air and outdoor exercise. You will, most likely, find yourself free of allergies and full of health.
Besides a strong cup of stinging nettles, this triple root infusion has become my favorite tea so far this Spring. My Triple Root infusion is simple, inexpensive, and effective for skin health, liver health, and blood health. This infusion calls for dried burdock, dandelion, and yellowdock. Together, they work as a symbiotic team that rids the body of heavy metals, toxins, and other waste that does not promote good health.
Burdock and dandelion are both loaded with inulin, which is a fiber that feeds probiotics in the gut, as well as bind to heavy metals and other contaminants so that they can be easily flushed through the colon. Anyone with a skin rash can almost always find relief with dandelion and burdock since they clean the blood by allowing the liver to properly function better. This means all of those toxins do not need to be dumped onto the skin. Yellowdock is a fantastic blood builder and, with its copious amount of iron, can greatly help those who are anemic.
All three of these roots act as potent blood cleansers and, together, work in a beautiful harmony to clean the blood, liver, gallbladder, and kidneys. This tea is loaded with potassium, which flushes out excess sodium and helps to lower blood pressure, while strengthening the heart. Because these roots grow deep into the Earth, one can restore minerals to the blood and bones. Adequate mineral intake is associated with stronger bones, healthier skin and hair, a more alkaline body state, and less nervousness and anxiety. Minerals also help us synthesize, as well as assimilate nutrients and other health-promoting compounds in our foods.
Triple Root Infusion
1 tablespoons dried burdock root
1 tablespoons dried dandelion root
1 tablespoons dired yellowdock
4 cups of boiling water
Combine the roots into a quart-sized (4 cup) mason jar and fill with boiling water. Cover and allow the roots to steep overnight. This creates a potent brew that will go to work immediately once taken.
I recommend drinking 4 cups daily for, at least, two weeks. It's best to drink it throughout Spring until we start approaching Beltane (May 1st). This will give the body several weeks to clean up from the heavier Winter foods. You may double or triple, if you dare, the herb measurements to increase their cleansing properties. Drink 1/2 cup 20 minutes prior to eating as a digestive aid.
I was going to write an article about vegetarian sources of iron until I read a book called "Diet For A New America". The book brought up some nutritional points about how excessive dairy consumption is linked to Osteoporosis and Anemia. Since it's not part of my diet, I've almost forgotten that it even exists. I thought it might be helpful, for my own memory, to write an article about its effects on the body and how it can inhibit certain minerals and nutrients.
When many people think vegetarian they also think protein deficiency and anemia. To make up for the loss of meat and protein in their diets, some vegetarians will increase their consumption of dairy products. When calories from dairy begin to replace calories from whole grains, legumes, and vegetables the body is flooded with excess protein, poor quality calcium, and very little iron.
We already know that Osteoporosis is the result of long-term acidity in the blood. In short, the bones must give alkalizing calcium to the blood whenever it becomes too acidic. Protein causes more acidity in the body than any other nutrient. Dairy is high in protein. A cup of cheese contains a day's worth of calcium (1000mg) , but it also contains over 35g of protein. Studies have found that 75g and more of protein intake results in high levels of calcium loss in the urine. One cup of kale, however, contains 10% of the day's calcium (100mg) and only 2g of protein. If you add in chlorophyll and trace minerals, you can see that the kale is a much more effective source of calcium. Dairy, which lacks trace minerals, natural vitamin D, and chlorophyll, simply dumps protein onto the body and flushes out calcium - not good for the bones. Calcium in the blood also means kidney stones, gallstones, and calcification in the joints that can lead to arthritis and other similar conditions.
Dairy also blocks the absorption of minerals like iron. If one replaces vegetables, legumes, and grains with dairy they are also replacing minerals, fiber, anti-oxidants, and vitamins with excess protein, hormones, and mucus. Furthermore, iron depends on vitamin C for absorption. Animal products contain no vitamin C, but almost all plants are an abundant source of this wonder nutrient. When comparing dairy to vegetables, in the name of iron, it takes 50 gallons of milk to equal one bowl of spinach in iron content. Green vegetables also contain chlorophyll which helps to build our blood and retain iron in our cells.
In addition to inhibiting iron and creating added acidity, inorganic dairy products are full of toxic compounds like antibiotics, steroids, hormones, GMOs from corn and soy feed, and stress chemicals. All of this is passed onto the consumer in their bowl of cereal, pint of ice cream, and cup of yogurt. If you love your body, stay away from dairy products.
If you feel you must eat dairy products, switch to those made from goats. Goat's milk contains a nutritional profile similar to human breast milk, which allows it to digest more easily. Goat's milk should be raw and should come from goats that are free to graze on omega-3 rich grasses and herbs in beautiful pastures and woodlands. It should come from a friend who, you know, is treating the goats more like family than machines. The milk should not be mechanically pumped, but taken intimately by hand and in small amounts. Using raw goat butter as a base for soups, or throwing some shaved goat's cheese over greens can be nutritionally sound and non-acid forming.
That being said, dairy products are not a necessity in terms of receiving adequate nutrition - whether it's from cows or goats. I, personally, think that if we can alleviate the stress from animals by eating a plant-based diet we can live healthier, more compassionate lives that will raise the vibration of our whole planet. I recommend switching from a glass of milk to a glass of Stinging Nettles infusion. The following information comes from Susun Weed's website:
"Stinging Nettle builds energy, strengthens the adrenals, and is said to restore youthful flexibility to blood vessels. A cup of nettle infusion contains 500 milligrams of calcium plus generous amounts of bone-building magnesium, potassium, silicon, boron, and zinc. It is also an excellent source of vitamins A, D, E, and K. For flexible bones, a healthy heart, thick hair, beautiful skin, and lots of energy, make friends with sister stinging nettle. It may make you feel so good you'll jump up and exercise."
Did you catch that? "One cup of nettle infusion contains 500mg of calcium." That's half the daily amount that is recommend! Do you know how simple it is to make a Nettles inusion? Simply take one ounce (or 1 cup) of dried Nettles and add it to the bottom of a mason jar. Boil water on the stove and pour it over the Nettles, then cap the jar and let it steep overnight while you sleep. Strain the liquid into another jar in the morning and refrigerate. It will keep for several days. One cup of this mineral rich tea will flood your body with minerals, vitamins, chlorophyll, and, perhaps most important, the ancient wisdom of the Nettles plant. A wisdom that is silent, invisible, and can only be felt. You may read more about the numerous benefits of Nettles here.
Take this information with a grain of Nettles and try it for yourself. Go to your local healthfood store or herb shop and ask them for several ounces of dried Nettles. Incorporate more kale, almonds, rice, beans, and seaweeds into your diet each day. Nettle infusions and a varied whole food plant-based diet will ensure you adequate calcium, iron, protein, and every other nutrient needed for survival.
I've known about Horsetail for quite some time. I've given it to dozens of clients in my practice, read about it in numerous books, and used it to help rebuild my skin and hair that had become damaged during a severe bout of eczema when I lived in New York City.
You can read about herbs all day long, but you never really get to know them the same way as you do when you find them growing in the wild. This was my experience with Horsetail. Yesterday, on the way to a Nettles festival, we were rained out and, instead, drove to the charming town of New Paltz to visit the independent bookstore and organic chocolate shop. It was next to the chocolate shop that we found a fantastic trail that herbalists call the "Green Treasure Chest" - an old railroad track!
Oh, how it glowed bright green against the grey, wet Spring sky! It first appeared to us as a small patch of tiny Pine trees until we looked closer and noticed it was more of a succulent than the hard and sharp needles of Pine. It stood about one foot tall and broke quite easily from the ground. Its stem is hard, and reseembles a bamboo - with a significantly smaller circumference than bamboo (less than 1/4"). It's hair-like shoots grow in circles around the stem and look like spider legs as they wilt. These circles grow an inch apart up the stem. The entire plants glows a beautiful, bright green and looks like wispy hair blowing in the breeze.
Horsetail is a prehistoric plant dating back to the dinosaur era. During that time, the plant was said to be the size of modern day giant Pine trees, however, in today's world, these plants only reach four feet in height. Horsetail is a renowned herb for hair growth, bone health, and skin health. This is because Silica, a collagen generating mineral, makes up over 35% of the plant's biochemistry. This means that Horsetail is a great herb for stengthening the hard structures in our body like connective tissues, bones, cartilage, nails, and even the soft places like bone collagen, mucus membranes, and our skin.
According to Matthew Wood, the connective tissues in the bladder can become inflammed and irritated due to silica depletion. This makes Horsetail a fantastic remedy for bladder infections and the like. Gail Faith Edwards also says that Horsetail's collagen generating properties are only effective when the herb is dried and infused in water rather than in tincture form. Based on my experience with the herb I would agree with her. It's also important to understand that minerals are released when great amounts of heat are applied to them. Tincturing an herb in alcohol can effectively heal by capturing the plant's spirit, essence, chemical continuents, and some nutrients but an infusion is far more saturated in minerals than a tincture is going to be. If you're looking to build your bones, revitalize your hair and skin, or simply increase your mineral intake I would mix 2 tablespoons each of Horsetail, Nettles, Comfrey, and Peppermint into a 4C jar and top it with boiling water, allowing to steep overnight and strain in the morning. Drink 2-4 cups of that infusion each day for, at least, six weeks.
When harvesting Horsetail, one must be sure to catch it within the first six weeks of growth in early Spring. Horsetail is saturated in Silica and, as it matures, it becomes more and more concentrated in this mineral. Though Silica is responsible for this herb's healing properties, too much Silica can be toxic to the body. It is because of this that the young shoots are the most effective and safest to ingest. Hang Horsetail from the ceiling out of direct sunlight, or dry on screens. Store in an air-tight glass mason jar once its dried.
Go outside and see if this beautiful, ancient plant is growing near your home. If not, be sure to look around roadsides, landscaped parking lots, and railroad tracks. It loves to grow in all of these areas. Pick it up, inspect it, and hold it to feel its prehistoric energy. Imagine the forests, once made up mostly of this beautiful plant. See what it has to offer you and drink it into your body. Watch it transform your blood, hair, skin, and bones. Feel it strengthening your skeleton while adding flexibility to your joints and bones.
Aemen and I will be leading herb walks and showing those interested how to find and harvest Nettles, Burdock, Dandelion, Chicory, Red Clover, Yarrow, Horsetail, Motherwort, and many other local herbs and medicinal plants.
Have a wonderful day!
As I was hiking up our mountain the other morning I came upon a beautiful patch of Horsetail growing on a hill by the side of the road. I bent over and sang to it, while harvesting some of the young shoots. As I turned to run down the hill with my basket of harvest, I ran into a woman from town who asked me about what was in the basket. I told her, in short, most of what I said here, then I quickly ran home to lay the herb on screens so that they would dry properly and retain their minerals. It was lovely to impart some Horsetail wisdom onto someone else, and I felt inspired to continue talking about it to people throughout most of the day.
Then, a few days ago, that same woman came in to my store and asked me if Horsetail was poisonous. I told her that it could be toxic if the matured plant was picked late in the season, but besides that I knew of no other dangers it could pose. She then told me that she read that it contained nicotine and inhibited the body's ability to absorb Vitamin B-1, or Thiamine. These were good questions, so I told her I would look into it and write something on it this week.
Let's first discuss the concern of vitamin B deficiency caused by Horsetail. Thiamine (B-1) is a crucial vitamin that helps the body transfer carbohydrates into glucose, which then allows the nervous system to function properly. Without it, we develop a condition known as "beriberi" which manifests as overall weakness, mental confusion, body pains, tingling in the fingers, and other symptoms of a damaged nervous system.
Horsetail contains an enzyme known as "Thiaminase" which breaks down the Thiamine molecule into two parts, rendering it obsolete to the body. Thiaminase, like most enzymes, is destroyed by heat, alcohol, and other forms of processing. Mussels, scallops, carp, and many other wild aquatic foods contain Thiaminase, but pose no threat if cooked properly. Horsetail should never be eaten, only extracted. Whether it's tinctured in alcohol, or infused by boiling into water, herbal extracts of Horsetail should have no Thiaminase present due to the enzyme destroying properties of the heat, or alcohol, that processes them into medicinal formulas.
Horsetail is toxic to cattle and horses who graze in pastures abundant with fresh shoots, or who eat hay that have dried shoots of Horsetail mixed into it. Though there has never been one case of Horsetail toxicity in humans, the alarm was sounded due to the widespread toxicity in these animals. It is important to understand that these animals were eating raw or dried Horsetail, not taking Horsetail tinctures or infused teas. The mainstay of their diets were made up of raw Horsetail shoots rich in Thiaminase, unlike a small percentage of our diets made from Horsetail tea or tincture.
The second reason of concern was that Horsetail contains nicotine and, as we know, nicotine can be toxic and addictive. It is true that Horsetail contains nicotine, but less than 1 part per million, which is .00004% of its entire volume. Once again, heating, picking the plant early, and other processing factors can possibly rid all, or most, of the minute nicotine content from the final product. When you compare the miniscule amount of nicotine in Horsetail to that of common, everyday foods you can see there is little to worry about.
Tomatoes and peppers have 7ng (nanograms) of nicotine per gram of tomato, potatoes have an avergae of 15ng per gram, cauliflower has 16ng of nicotine per gram, and eggplants have a whopping 100ng per gram - the highest concentration next to tobacco. The latter is interesting because this study suggests that nicotine may help improve memory, protect neurons, and stimulate the brain. I'm certainly not advocating nicotine patches, but I find it interesting that they are claiming nicotine to be beneficial for memory and, at the same time, many studies have found that eggplants can prevent Alzheimer's.
A cigarette contains 9mg of nicotine, in comparison to a tomato that has 32ng of nicotine. To understand how small a nanogram is, consider that there are one billion of them in one gram. This poses little to no threat to your nervous system or body.
In conclusion, I believe Horsetail is a safe herb to use for urinary health, bone health, skin health, and overall body mineralization. If you feel it is unsafe, simply stay away from it. If you want to use it, but still feel concerned, use it for six weeks then discontinue for eight weeks before using again. This way you can still absorb the plentiful silica and other complementary minerals, while avoiding too much of the nicotine or Thiaminase that may, or most likely may not, be present.
Lastly, most plants and teas have natural detoxification, diuretic, and liver cleansing properties. The minute amount of questionable compounds in them would surely be outweighed, and quickly eliminated, by the massive mineralizing, detoxifying, and diuretic properties natural to these herbs.
I drink from thee.
Give my bones strength,
Make my skin clean,
I invoke thee.