As herbalists, one of the first things we think of when we feel the season shift is that in a matter of weeks, there will be an abundance of medicine to harvest, eat, and preserve. Plants we don’t grow in our gardens can be wildcrafted in surrounding areas and we enjoy what the earth provides. As herbalists, we know the plants intimately, and we deepen our relationship with them each year. Knowing how to use wild medicine, and where to find food, also bears a significant commitment to being an herbal steward and to be radical in our approach to preserving the wild plants around us.
While the growth of the herbal and wellness industry is exciting and ever on the rise, what has come with it is a mass production of herbs and a severe increase in over-harvesting.
Wild foods have become hip and are sought out in trendy restaurants that will pay a good price for a few pounds of local wild edibles. What isn’t always apparent is that this has been resulting in the over-harvesting of popular favorites—like Wild Ramps, Fiddleheads, Ginseng and Goldenseal.
Instead of thinking with money on the mind, we need to retrain ourselves to think about what happens to these populations of edibles that are quickly becoming at risk. Is it worth it?
It is important to think about this delicate relationship as we approach the peak seasons of abundance. If we are harvesting our food and medicine, we then become accountable for the wild gardens, their health, and their upkeep.
At Urban Moonshine, we make conscious decisions to […]
Malaria is a deadly disease. Because of its reliance on tropical mosquitos for transmission, it disproportionately affects people living in the developing world: of the more than 600,000 deaths from malaria every year, over 90% occur in sub-Saharan Africa where resources are few and transportation to care facilities is difficult. What’s more, over the last fifty years the malaria parasite has evolved considerable resistance to tried-and-true treatments (such as chloroquine, quinine and its derivatives, along with other drugs such as sulfadoxine) in most areas where the disease is widespread. That’s why most physicians in the developing world are now using a class of drugs derived from a molecule called artemisinin. This compound is very effective against the malaria parasite, and is derived from Artemisia annua (Sweet Annie, or quing hao as it is known in the Chinese materia medica). It forms the cornerstone of current antimalarial therapy in the developing world. Unfortunately, isolating artemisinin from the whole plant has led to the development of drug resistance – still localized mostly to Southeast Asia, and not very widespread. Nevertheless, as combination artemisinin therapies […]
March often teases us with springtime weather, while also delivering blustery days full of rain, snow and gray clouds. Our moods can be all over the place too after a burst of warm sunshine and a cold snow storm leave our bodies in confused states. As we make this transition and await the arrival of spring, our spirits are definitely in need of some brightening, uplifting inspiration and energy!
Nourishing ourselves with good food and time spent outdoors is always helpful. We can also turn to our plant allies, whatever the weather, for mood-brightening tonics to get us through these transitional months.
Even if you don’t take mood and stress support tonics on the regular, it’s fun to break up the routine a little and make herbal beverages that are not only beautiful and inspiring but serve a purpose in your mental health and optimal well-being.
Perhaps you are in the mood for a solid energy buzz, or a joyful, brightening spritzer; whatever the occasion these drinks are perfect for this time of year.
Kombucha Joy Tonic Sparklers, with Damiana and Hawthorn
½ cup favorite kombucha flavor- we used schisandra & rose!
1 tablespoon Urban Moonshine Joy Tonic
1 teaspoon Damiana tincture or powder
1 teaspoon Hawthorn tincture
Rose and Schisandra Sugar for cup rim.
To make Rose and Schisandra Sugar- combine 1 tablespoon of each herb (powdered) and add 1 tablespoon sugar. Mix well.
Wet the rim of the glass by dipping in water […]
Whole Plants Versus Pills: The Cases of Curcumin and Quercetin
Herbalists, though we’ve been known to use isolated constituents from plants, often prefer traditional, whole-plant preparations like teas, tinctures, or powders. These “crude” extracts, we often claim, may appear to be less concentrated but are actually more effective than isolated molecules when given by mouth to a living, breathing human being. But is there any evidence to support this claim? If a certain constituent has therapeutic activity, it seems counterintuitive that refining and concentrating it might somehow make it less effective.
The issue, in the end, is one of bioavailability: the ability of medicinal chemicals to reach the target areas in the human body where they can exert their effects. It does us little good to take high doses of molecules that never reach tissue at appreciable concentrations. This, of course, is one of the problems with petri dish research: a given chemical may have an effect on neurons in a lab, but that’s far from a guarantee that it will enter our bloodstream, leave the liver unchanged, cross our blood-brain-barrier, and have the same effects on neurons in our central nervous system.
One of the most famous, and researched, examples comes to us from the traditional Indian spice turmeric (ground rhizome of Curcuma longa). Curcumin and its molecular relatives the curcuminoids are polyphenolic pungent chemicals found in turmeric. They have attracted substantial attention, especially over the last decade, as potential medicinal compounds. But as a recent review article discovered, this rarely translates […]