Posts Tagged ‘cuts’

Medicinecabinet1I must admit that prior to beginning my journey as an herbalist my medicine cabinet was loaded with over the counter and prescription drugs. I did have some herbs, but wasn’t quite sure how and when to use most of them. Over the years I have managed to “weed” out the synthetic drugs and replace them with herbs and remedies that work with the body and have few if any side effects.

As a mother I was and am very concerned about the risks associated with most of the over the counter drugs used for kids. Barring a broken bone or conditions requiring a trip to the emergency room I have a remedy for just about any acute situation that may arise.

When you are first starting to make the transition from synthetics to herbs it never hurts to make a plan. I find that the best way to do this is by making a list of acute illnesses which occur frequently within your household such as colds, ear infections, sore throats, etc. It also never hurts to anticipate injuries from accidents or trauma. For example, here a just a few of the conditions that I have treated within my family:

– Bug bites and stings
– Dog or animal bites
– Puncture wounds
– Headaches
– Sinus infections
– Colds and Flu
– Rashes
– Bumps, bruises, sprains and strains
– Fungal infections
– Constipation
– Urinary and Respiratory tract infections


Initially, it can be a bit expensive to restock your medicine cabinet. However, there are quite a number of remedies that you can make at home that will save you some money. If you are just starting out and you are interested in making your own herbal remedies at home you can check out my book, “Herbal Preparations and Applications”. This book covers just about everything you need to know to make your own herbal remedies, how to use them and includes a number of recipes you can try at home.


The herbs and spices found in your kitchen are wonderful allies and can be used for numerous acute conditions. Most of these kitchen herbs are antiseptic as well as antimicrobial meaning they have an effect on bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi. Some examples include Thyme, Sage, Oregano, Rosemary, Garlic and Onions. Some examples for using cooking spices in lieu of over the counter drugs include:

GINGER ROOT can be used to quell nausea:

– Add a thumb size piece of ginger root to one quart of water and bring to a boil. Simmer with lid on at low heat for 30 minutes. Let the mixture cool. Strain and drink ½ – 1 cup as desired. You may sweeten this with honey.

PARSLEY can be used as a poultice to help ease the pain of insect bites and stings.

– Simply crush, chop or chew up the leaves and apply them to the affected area.

An herbal infusion made with FENNEL can be used for gas, bloating or intestinal spasms.

– Place 3 tbsp of fennel in a pot and cover it with 3 cups of water.
– Bring the water to a boil and reduce the heat.
– Simmer the mixture until it is reduced by ¼ to ½ .
– Strain out the seeds.
– Drink a 1-3 cups as needed

There are also other items in your kitchen that can be used for acute conditions to include Baking soda, Apple cider vinegar, Honey, Lemons and Salt.


As a parent I know all too well how helpless we can feel when our kids get sick. Having knowledge is power and enables us to calmly and rationally deal with these acute illnesses when they do arise. In order to help you feel more comfortable in dealing with these conditions I have put together a number of articles in this upcoming series which will include various conditions we might encounter and natural ways of treating them at home. Hopefully this information will allow you to eventually “Weed” out those over the counter drugs and replace them with safe and effective remedies that you can make at home.


Before we talk about gathering your supplies let me introduce you to Hydrotherapy. Hydrotherapy is a traditional technique which uses water applications to help restore vitality and remedy pain. Most traditional cultures use some form of hydrotherapy when treating disease.

Cold and/or warm water can be applied in such a way as to stimulate or sedate, reduce inflammation, ease pain and expedite healing. The only thing required to use hydrotherapy at home is water which most of us have available to us. Some of the ways that you can use Hydrotherapy at home include:
Bruises – Run a cloth under cold tap water, wring it out and apply it to the bruised area. Apply a dry towel or wool scarf over the wet cloth. Allow the cloths to stay in place until they become warm and then repeat the procedure several times per day.

Cuts and Scrapes – Allow the area to bleed briefly which will flush out and cleanse the wound. The area should then be run under cold water for approximately two minutes and then apply a compress. Once the compress is in place follow the same procedures as with bruising.

Burns – To help remove the heat and pain associated with a mild burn run the area under cold water for approximately ten minutes. Apply a compress as mentioned above, but do not allow it to dry out. If the compress does dry out do not try to remove it but instead soak the area in cold water.

Bleeding – Apply a cold compress as close to the area or organ as possible to stop bleeding. According to herbalist James Green a cold compress may be applied to the upper portion of the back to stop a nose bleed or relieve nasal congestion.

Strep/Sore throat, swollen lymph nodes or Cough – Apply a cold compress around the neck. Make sure that the compress does not lie directly on the back of the neck but closer to the hair line. Wrap the compress in a wool cloth or scarf and leave in place until it is warm or dry. Repeat this procedure several times a day.

Nervousness, Agitation and Depression – Soak in a neutral or warm bath (96 – 98 deg F) for approximately 30 – 60 minutes

If you are interested in learning more about Hydrotherapy check out my book entitled, “Hydrotherapy: Reference Guide to Using Water Therapy”. This book discusses all the various applications and includes over 55 remedies you can use at home.


In my next article we will begin to gather up our supplies and learn several more techniques for dealing with acute conditions. If you just can’t stand to wait for the next article to come out you can find all of this information and more HERE or subscribe to my blog or newsletter to get a copy hot off of the press.

Read Full Post »

Opuntia humifusa 3A couple of weekends ago I went on a pecan picking expedition in Live Oak Florida with some friends. Out in one of the fields amongst the cows and pecan trees I found quite a number of Opuntia spp. or Prickly Pear as they are commonly known.  Other common names include Devils Tongue, nopales and Indian Fig.  Despite their harsh and abravisive appearance I find something oddly beautiful about them.  I also love the fact that the Prickly Pear can be used both as food and as medicine.  It is so cool to me to just walk out on my property and gather wild food or medicine for my family.

Description:  Cactus with jointed pad and sharp spines.  Fruits are normally a puplish-red when the are ripe and the flowers a bright yellow.

Location:  Found in dry sandy soils from Mass. to Florida and Texas to Minn.

Properties:  Analgesic, anti-inflammatory, hypoglycemic, galactogogue and anti-viral

Historical Medicinal Uses:  Native americans would remove the spines from the pads and split them open and use the pulp as a poultice for wounds, abrasions, burns and fractures.  The peeled pads have been applied to the breast to encourage milk flow or applied to other areas for rheumatic pain.  The juice from the plant applied topically has been used historically to remove warts or taken internally for kidney stones.  Baked pads have been used for gout and  Native Americans once used a tea made from the pads for lung ailments.  Recently research has been conducted which showed that Opuntia may be beneficial in hypoglycemia, benign prostatic hyperplasia and a number of conditions affecting the urinary system.

Food Uses:  The plant is quiet nutritious and a good source of potassium, calcium, vitamin A and fiber.  The fruits can be used to make a tea which can be turned into jelly, a syrup or candy.  The pad can be cut up eaten raw in salads.  The seed from the plant can be ground up and used to make flour.  Sliced pads with the skin removed can be cut up like green beans and either steamed or sauteed.


Nopales on The Grill

Prepare the cactus pads as described in the preparation section above. Once you have removed the needles, nodules and thoroughly washed the pads, they are ready for the grill. Cook each pad for approximately 10 to 12 minutes on each side. While grilling, brush each side of the cactus pad with olive oil or a flavored oil of your choice. Pepper or garlic-flavored oil are often used on grilled Nopales.

Scrambled Nopales

1 or 2 cactus pads

8 Eggs

1/4 lb. of cheese (your choice)

salt & pepper to taste

Prepare the cactus pads as described in the preparation section above. Once you have removed the needles, nodules and thoroughly washed the pads, slice into bite-size pieces. Sauté the sliced pads in a small amount of butter for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside. Beat the eggs in a mixing bowl; add shredded cheese and the sautéed cactus pieces. Pour the egg mixture into a skillet and scramble. Serve warm with salt and pepper to taste.

Nopales Rellenos (Stuffed Cactus Pads)

12 tender cactus pads

3 cups of water

6 slices of Machego or Panela cheese

1/4 onion, thinly sliced lengthwise

1 clove of garlic

Salt to taste

1/2 cup of flour

4 eggs, separated

1 1/2 cups vegetable or olive oil

1 can of tomato sauce (12 ounces)

Prepare the cactus pads as described in the preparation section above. Once you have removed the needles, nodules and thoroughly washed the ads, boil in 3 cups of water with the garlic, onion, and salt. Drain.

On each of 6 cactus pads place a slice of cheese and 3 to 4 pieces of onion. Top with another cactus pad, secure with wooden toothpicks and coat with flour.

Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form, then add the yolks and beat for 1 to 2 minutes more to create a batter.

Heat the oil in a frying pan, dip the stuffed cactus pads into the egg batter and fry until golden on both sides. Drain on paper towels.

Serve drenched with cooked tomato sauce.

Nopales Salsa

1 lb. cleaned cactus pads

1/2 lb. tomatillos

1 small white onion

2 garlic cloves

2 poblano peppers

1/2 tsp. of salt

2 tsp.of fresh lime juice

1/2 tsp.of cumin

2 Tbs. cilantro

Prepare the cactus pads as described in the preparation section above. Once you have removed the needles, nodules and thoroughly washed the pads, grill for about 7 minutes on each side. Slice the grilled pads into strips. Place tomatillos, cubed onions and garlic in a baking dish, then cook in a 450-degree oven for 20-25 minutes. Roast poblanos on grill or under the broiler, then peel them and remove the seeds. Place all ingredients in a blender and mix until well chopped. A little water may be needed to moisten the salsa. Serve chilled with chips or use to season tacos, burritos or other Mexican dishes.

Nopales Salad

2.2 lbs. Nopales (cactus pads)

1 onion, halved

4 cups water

2 Tbs. salt

2 large tomatoes, chopped

1 large onion, chopped

4 green chiles – serrano or jalapeno – chopped

Prepare the cactus pads as described in the preparation section above. Once you have removed the needles, nodules and thoroughly washed the pads, chop into bite-size pieces. Place the chopped Nopales into a pan with the 4 cups of water, halved onion and salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 30-45 minutes or until tender. Drain Nopales and combine with remaining ingredients. Taste and adjust seasoning, adding more salt if necessary. This dish gets better if you let is sit a few hours in the refrigerator before serving. Serves 4 or more.

(Courtesy of Desert USA )


Prickly pear

3 c. vinegar

3 c. water

6 tbsp. salt


Garlic cloves (1 for each jar)

Jalapeno peppers (1 for each jar)

Cut needles off prickly pear, slice and pack into sterilized jars. Put one clove garlic, 1 jalapeno pepper and sprigs of dill into jar. Boil water, vinegar and salt until salt is dissolved. Fill jars with boiling brine to within 1/2″ of top. Put on cap and screw band firmly. Process in boiling water bath 10 minutes. Tastes best if let cure for at least 6 months.


Pick prickly pears with leather gloves on your hands. Take off spines. Rinse the fruit and place in kettle, adding enough water to cover. Boil until quite tender, squeeze through jelly bag or jelly press. To every 2 1/2 cups of juice add 1 (1 3/4 oz.) package powdered pectin and boil for a couple minutes. Then add 3 tablespoons lemon juice and 3 1/2 cups sugar. Stir often and boil hard for 5 minutes. Pour in jelly glass and seal with paraffin.

(Courtesy:  Cooks.com)



Steven Foster and James Duke, Eastern/Central Medicinal Plants and Herbs

Richard Deuerling and Peggy S. Lantz, Florida’s Incredible Wild Edibles

Michael Wilson, Medicinal Plant Fact Sheet:  Opuntia: prickly pear cactus;  http://www.pollinator.org/Resources/Opuntia.draft.pdf

Weeds of Southern Turfgrasses;  University of Florida

University of Florida School of Forest Resources and Conservation:  Florida Forrest Plants:  http://www.sfrc.ufl.edu/4h/Prickly_pear/pricpear.htm




Read Full Post »