Tuesday, September 22, 2009

My dog the herbalist

Vida's been grazing the fruit of this tree for years as a digestive.

It's a ficus, though I don't know what variety.

I'm in the habit of calling the fruit "ficus berries" simply because "fig" to most people means the big juicy fruits we eat.

These small fruit have the same basic form as a large fig. A smooth skin with lots of tiny seeds. They aren't what I'd call juicy, but if you don't rake them they'll make a thick layer on the ground that will have a distinct fermented smell at some point as they decay.

They are a terrific source of fiber. In fact, I used to complain about Vida and a previous dog eating too many when together because of how much more poop I had to clean up. Vida eats them "as needed" when she's an only dog (not that they're available all year 'round).

I don't know how she chooses which ones to eat.

Years ago, when an animal communicator, Paula Brown, first communicated with Vida, this habit came up. I didn't figure it out at first because Vida described them as "little rocks" but even then she used them for her digestion.

She's eating them now because she's on a new Chinese herbal formula from her holistic vet, Dr. Weingardt. It's called "Stasis Breaker". She's on it because some growth has restarted in her mouth. She's been on it two weeks, and things are stable. I was warned about diarrhea from this formula, but she's had none. I'll take some credit because I've been giving her some tea for her stomach (chamomile, fennel, plantain, slippery elm), but I'm sure her grazing has helped too.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Making Mushroom Tea

Soooo easy!

If you want to make amazing immune system medicine for yourself and your dog, you can do this. The traditional method of making medicine from mushrooms is to cook them. Yep, that simple. Simmersimmersimmer for the day, strain and oila!

I got my giant bags of mushrooms from
Mountain Rose Herbs.
Each of these is
one pound of mushrooms.

I got (sliced, & of course organic) Reishi

and (organic) Maitaki (also called Hen of the Woods).

I just put a handful of each in an enamel pot....

Added two quarts of water, put the cover on and put it on the back burner (literally) for the day (started at about 8am 'til about 5pm) to cook. It smells pretty good actually - much better than it tastes.

I strained it with a colander & ladled it into ice cube trays (5!).

Between the two of us it's an ice cube a day. Just a tonic, right, not trying to megadose, no no no. Be sensible and you can use this longterm. Luckily my dog doesn't mind the "earthy" taste. I just add it to my orange juice. Go ahead, try it!

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Herb Fest = Brain Full

Well we're back in California. We left New Hampshire the day after the New England Women's Herbal Conference, so I had no time to digest all the information that I stuffed in to my brain that weekend. Here are a few of the tidbits:

Medicinal Mushrooms: if you want cancer fighting properties you have to do a water extraction. Eating dry powder will not suffice (stay tuned to the next blog post). Heck, you want to do a water extraction, period. They are wonderful for healing auto-immune problems (which really are inflammation).

Stress: You need to start with nervines (herbs that relax the nervous system), before you apply adaptogens (herbs that help rebuild a depleted adrenal system and help the body respond to stress). Because dogs can't control their life (and thus can't be asked to change their lifestyle) they should continue with nervines when you start with adaptogens. A relaxed nervous system will allow the adaptogens to work.

The liver: amazing organ! working cells regenerate every five months (in humans), milk thistle can increase that regeneration 5x. Everything that comes in to your body gets dealt with by the liver, so take care of it! Parasite, like fleas, love "dirty blood" (and make more dirty blood when they feed) - you want less fleas on your dog, get their liver working better so the blood is clean.

Think about this... simple reasoning, I love it: Plants evolved soooo long ago, back when there was more oxygen in the atmosphere, enough to be damaging, so they developed antioxidents to deal with it. That's why plants are a great source of antioxidents for us and our pets.

When do "invasive" plants become "native"? Examine how many bugs live off the plant. An invasive from England may have 4 bugs living off of it here, and 200 living off of it in England - after 400 years!

Unless you pollute your backyard with poisons there is probably some great medicine out there. Weeds are your friends.

If your dog has trouble changing foods (gets diarrhea), just give some chamomile tea (with or without fennel) to calm the digestion.

If there is a problem with chronic inflammation, treat the nervous system first.

I found a real disconnect among the attendees I spoke to when it came to feeding their pets. Most of the people I spoke to fed dry food. A few fed raw, but in an unbalanced way. Some said they used to feed raw (but now fed dry). Most did not use herbs as part of their pet's diet. There was one session on pets, packed with people, that got bogged down by all the questions - people are very eager to learn, and don't realize how close they are to getting it. They're hungry for knowledge and context. I know I could do a good job teaching there, so I've asked for a chance (waiting to hear back).