Science Update: Paleolithic Herbalism By Guido Masé, January 10, 2017

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Jacob’s Bridge (Gesher Benot Ya’aqov) is an archaeological site in Israel, at a historic crossing of the river Jordan, just north of the Sea of Galilee. It has been a crossroads for thousands of years – for trade, for culture, and for migration of human populations. But in one particular area, archaeologists have been working on a site that is much older – closer to 800,000 years – where a wealth of evidence from stone-age culture has been preserved under layers of mud and water. The prehistoric humans who lived here (archaeologists estimate they occupied the site for close to 100,000 years!) were part of an ancient migration from Africa and into Europe and Asia.

Nira Alperson-Afil, who works at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, has been studying this site extensively. She has been part of the research team that, at this site, uncovered perhaps the earliest evidence of human control of fire,1 as well as what seems to be a basic organization of the living and working spaces into sleeping, cooking, and manufacturing areas.2 Inhabitants created advanced stone tools, using rock hammers but also more subtle tools such as animal antlers, that were used for building, hunting, and (presumably) preparing and cooking plants for food.

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It is usually difficult to accurately characterize botanical remains form that long ago, because plants spoil very […]

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Cayenne Medicine & Winter Warmth By Aisling Badger, December 9, 2016

Capsicum annuum is the plant that produces the spicy fruit commonly known as Cayenne Pepper or Chili. It has been used by native cultures as food and medicine for thousands of years, and its use continues to grow in modern culture today. Early evidence suggests its cultivation may have begun in Mexico, but has been used throughout many communities around the world. While it is often used as a culinary spice, most cultures have a history of using cayenne pepper therapeutically as well.

cayenne for medicine

A small fruit, cayenne is often dried and powdered, and it brings a powerful kick that is noticed in even the smallest amounts. Cayenne pepper has gained popularity for cleansing and is used in detoxifying drinks such as the master cleanse, which uses the spice to support the circulatory and digestive systems.

Cayenne’s most profound action is bringing warmth to any formula, dish or beverage. It provides initial spice that lingers on the lips but then spreads heat quickly throughout our body. A healthy dose of cayenne can be felt deep in the stomach, warming and supporting our immune system and digestive tract.

The most well-known active ingredient in cayenne is a components of its pungent oleoresin: capsaicin. The degree of pungency, calculated in heat units of dried Capsicum or the extract, determines its value of potency. Many traditional herbalists believe that cayenne is one of our most useful herbs in the medicine cabinet, not only for the circulatory and immune system but for its ability to bring to life and to wake up a formula. It acts as a […]

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Apple Cider Vinegar Bitters: New England Practicality, European Wisdom By Guido Masé, November 25, 2016

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Doctor Jarvis, who studied medicine in our hometown of Burlington, Vermont, was perhaps the epitome of the New England country doctor. He worked during the first half of the 1900s, helping countless patients, visiting homes of friends and neighbors, and relying on strategies that supported and nourished – the same tonic approach we favor today. But he is perhaps best known for popularizing the use of apple cider vinegar, recommending its use for a range of complaints. We may owe the recent popularity of switchel, fire cider, shrubs and other infused vinegars to the old country doctor. His popular remedy makes sense: New England is rich in apples, and every fall, pressed and fermented into cider, he had access to endless quantities of raw, natural vinegar. Ever practical, Dr. Jarvis realized that this abundant natural product (already popular with old-time Vermonters) could provide a range of health benefits.

Some of the classic uses for apple cider vinegar include improving digestion, especially the occasional bout of heartburn, and helping to keep healthy blood sugar levels stable. This seemed to us to provide a perfect match for the traditional European digestive bitters, another classic digestive and metabolic remedy. Furthermore, since apple cider vinegar’s fermentation process converts alcohol into acetic acid, steeping the right herbs and roots in vinegar provides a way to enjoy all the benefits of bitters in a preparation made without alcohol.

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We wanted to rely on the time-honored bitter roots that serve as the foundation of our original formula, so we started with burdock and dandelion […]

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8 Herbs To Have In Your Medicine Cabinet This Fall By Aisling Badger, November 10, 2016

Dried Herbs

It’s the time of year, where more often than not we are turning to our medicine cupboard to support our bodies and our families. An abundance of tea herbs, honey and lemon, fresh herbs like ginger, turmeric, cayenne and garlic are all great to have on hand throughout the winter. A few herbal tinctures also play useful roles and are key ingredients in the medicine cabinet.

elderberryElderberry | Elderberry is an excellent superfood-like ally safe to take in large quantities. With elderberry and plenty of rest, our body’s natural response kicks in–that’s why elderberry syrups and tea have long been used to help support optimal immune function. All these amazing herbs come in handy when our resources are low: elderberry helps our body maintain its normal immune response. Because it’s so much like food, it’s incredibly safe for kids, and happens to taste divine when combined with honey–hence the elderberry syrup! This one is a must have for the kitchen herb cabinet as it’s family-safe.

The flowers of Elder are also quite useful and are used for supporting sinuses and a healthy inflammatory response. While lovely in tea because of its sweet aromatic quality, Elderflower also is great in tincture form and used in combination with other herbs. You can find Elderflower in most of our First Aid formulas because this plant is safe, and supports so many different functions of our body.

Elecampane flowerElecampane | Herbalists rely on Elecampane when it comes to

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