The Ancient Paths Family Farm

Getting Back to Basics in Health and Nutrition

Stinging Nettle for Allergies

Posted by theancientpathsfamilyfarm on June 2, 2008

To the wild food and herb forager who has learned to respect its sting and recognize its attributes, stinging nettle is a true delight.  From ancient Greece to the present, nettle (both leaf and root) has been used for treating a wide range of ailments.  Stinging nettle leaf has anti-inflammatory and diuretic properties.  Stinging nettle has been used to treat urinary tract infections and as an aid in increasing milk production in nursing mothers.  When used as a health treatment, stinging nettle helps to reduce the inflammation of allergies, benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH) and lupus, eczema, hemorrhage (nosebleed, excessive uterine bleeding) and chronic diarrhea.

Stinging nettle is a very valuable plant, used for food, medicine and fiber.  Nettle contains iron, vitamin C and chlorophyll – all of which aid in the treatment of iron-deficiency anemia.  I’ve been told that nettle has more iron than spinach.  Nettle provides the iron necessary for the production of red blood cells.  Stinging nettle roots also help keep testerone in an active form in both men and women.

We have been harvesting and drying stinging nettle for a few months now, this is our first year in using nettle at all.  After learning about how valuable nettle has been since ancient times, we opted to add nettle to our medicine cabinet this season.  In our family there are some who suffer terribly from seasonal allergies.  In fact, almost 10 years ago my husband was told by his allergist that he had the worst reaction to his allergy testing that he had seen in his 25+ years of practice.  He was almost rushed to the emergency room by the allergist from his testing alone!  This was days after his throat swelled almost completely closed from his allergies.  Needless to say, allergy treatments have been high on our family priority list for quite some time.

As I said, we’ve been learning about the value of stinging nettle as a treatment for allergies in the past year.  My husband is really excited to start with the nettle treatment.  I’ll write here about how we harvested and dried the nettle and how I’ve been making an extract for him to use here.  In only a few more days the extract will be ready for him to begin using and we’re hoping that he’ll find some added relief with it quickly.

Harvesting & Drying

It has been a cool and wet spring.  Right now it’s not even 60* outside.  Things aren’t growing very well so far this year so it has taken us longer than we had hoped to be able to harvest stinging nettle.  A few weeks ago we decided that one patch of nettle was big enough to harvest so Shalom cut several stocks down and I tied them in bunches to dry in the attic.  We were sure that Shalom left some stalks in place so they could reproduce for next season by dropping their seeds.  Herbs should be dried quickly and a dark dry place is preferred.  Beside our attic having plenty of room to hang herbs from the beams and trusses, it is the only place that is dark and dry that gets hot.  After a few days the nettle was dry and I crushed them into a jar for storage while I searched for how to make an extract.

Brewing Nettle Tea/Infusion

  1. Weigh out 1 ounce of nettle and place into a coffee press with the nettle below the screen.
  2. Bring to boil 1 pint of water, pour into measuring cup to allow to cool a little for 30 seconds, then pour over nettle.
  3. Allow to steep for 10 to 15 minutes.
  4. Drink between 1 and 4 cups a day, depending on what you’re most comfortable with.  In peak seasons, more tea during the day can be cumbersome so an extract might be easier to manage.

Making the Extract

  1. Weigh out 2 ounces of nettle in a large mason jar.
  2. Pour 2 cups of a mixture of 60% water and 40% vegetable glycerin over the nettle in the jar.
  3. Shake well and let stand for two weeks.  Be sure to store your herbs in a cool place and in a dark colored glass jar and/or in a dark cupboard.
  4. After two weeks, place cheesecloth inside strainer over a bowl and pour the contents of the mason jar into the cheesecloth.  Wrap the nettle in the cheesecloth and squeeze the extract juice out of the nettle and into the bowl.  The cheesecloth prevents any stems or leaf pieces from making it’s way into your extract as well as providing an easy way to press the extract out.
  5. After you’ve pressed as much out as you can, the nettle leaves can be put in your compost bin.  Pour your extract into colored glass jars with lids.  I’m using small dropper bottles that I found at the local co-op.  Again, be sure to use dark colored glass.  And be sure to label your bottle!  On your label include what it is and when you pressed it.  It can last in the fridge for up to 9 months.

Extract Dosage

Dosages are between 1/2 and 2 teaspoons, up to three times a day.  During allergy season the dosage will be higher and more often than in the “off season”.  My husband will be starting with on teaspoon once a day until we know it won’t have any adverse affects for him.  Then we’ll increase his dosage to where he feels most comfortable.

I’ll write about how the nettle treatment is going after he’s had a few weeks to give it a try.  I’d love to hear from any others who have used nettle as an alternative treatment for their allergies, or for any other issue for that matter.

— For further reading —
Stinging Nettle @ The People’s Pharmacy

Stinging Nettle from University of Maryland Medical Center

Stinging Nettle from The Eclectic Physician

Advertisements

Posted in Alternative Therapy, Health, Natural Remedies | Tagged: , , | 7 Comments »

The Seed and Round-Up Monopoly

Posted by theancientpathsfamilyfarm on May 28, 2008

I’ve been wanting to write about the struggle between the big agricultural industry and the small farm for some time, but I’ve not had the chance to put it together just yet.  Small farmers are really struggling to make ends meet when the “big guys” push for legislation that makes things hard for the little guys and when the big guys do things that should be illegal, they just hire better lawyers and work through loopholes.

However, there are other industries that are out there that are making things hard for the big guy and the little guy alike.  Have you ever thought about where the farmers get their seed?  Have you ever thought about the monopoly that a seed producer could have?

What if that seed producer was genetically modifying those seeds so that their other products would work better or to require their other product(s) be used in order for their seeds to grow well?  America didn’t like it when there was a monopoly on telephone services so why would they sit by and say nothing when a giant monopoly is taking over in the agricultural world?  Because the scientists at the seed plant have better lawyers!

Pa over at Taking Root has written an article that I appreciated and addresses, quite well, the issue of The Green Revolution and Big-Ag.

or the past several years, Monsanto has been patenting seeds. Once a seed is patented, it is now owned by the entity that submitted it. As an example, let’s say there are 10 different varieties of corn seeds available in our national seed bank. As long as Monsanto is the first entity to them, they may submit each of these seeds for patenting. Once the patents are secured, Monsanto will hold 9 of the varieties to themselves but will genetically alter the other variety that is left. The primary genetic modification that they have been making is to make the seed “Round-Up Ready”…

Swing on by Taking Root and see what Pa has to say.

Posted in Good Stewardship, Health | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Tips to Gauge Your Health

Posted by theancientpathsfamilyfarm on May 23, 2008

In a local paper the other day an article was published that I really appreciated.  Below are some excerpts from it.  I have made a few changes to some sentences and have included links to things I thought were relevant.  You can view the original article here.

In his new book, Medical Crisis: Secrets Your Doctor Won’t Share With You, Anthony Martin, a certified Natural Medicine Practitioner, asserts that breast cancer and prostate cancer are nearly 100% preventable.

It takes more than five years for most cancers to grow to the size of the top of a ball point pen. By the time cancer is found by routine blood tests or feeling a lump, the patient may have missed precious time.

Here are Martin’s four warning sign tips to find out if you are on the path to cancer, stroke or other illness:

1)  Energy

“If you’ve been tired for three weeks straight, your body is trying to tell you something is wrong,” he said.  Long-term fatigue is tied to red blood cells.  Red blood cell problems can lead to liver, kidney or brain trouble.

2)  pH Balance

70% of the human body is water.  Water, like in a swimming pool, is either acidic or alkaline.  An unbalanced pH is a breeding ground for cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and pre-mature aging.

3)  Free Radicals

The body produces free radicals as a process of detoxifying itself.  When balanced, they are used by the immune system to destroy bacteria and viruses.  Unbalanced free radicals can lead to cancer, coronary heart disease, stroke, arthritis or Alzheimer’s.

4)  Inflammation

You need cells to “puff up” to stop bleeding – but too much can strangle the arteries and cause coronary heart disease.  Fat cells are a side effect of obesity.  Too many fat cells, or cells that are too “puffy”, can lead to asthma, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Martin suggests that people take charge of their health care and ask for specific tests:  urine, blood and saliva.  Once you and your Doctor know where you stand, you can start working on the antidote.

“Change your attitude, change your diet, change your exercise habits and change your supplements,” he said.  So much of what Americans are dying from these days is 100% preventable.”

Posted in Health, Natural Remedies | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

The Economy is Terrible, and That’s Great News!

Posted by theancientpathsfamilyfarm on May 15, 2008

Are you looking for a way to supplement your income? According to the news reports today, the majority of Americans are concerned about how they’re going to make ends meet. How many of us have had to make decisions between giving to those in need or paying your living expenses? How about buying groceries and filling the gas tank?

Most of us live on a set wage, our income doesn’t fluctuate from month to month. The majority of us either have capped salaries or a fixed wage with an hourly schedule. While our income hasn’t changed, the costs of living sure have.

In the news we hear about a food crisis, a mortgage crisis, gas crisis, debt crisis, crisis this crisis and that crisis. We can’t help but wonder, “What can I do? How can I escape my own financial crisis?”

Each of us know friends and family who are looking for ways to stretch their budget or to bring in some extra money. For some that means they take a side job or even a regular second job. For others it means that they look for a business they can run from home. In most cases, it’s only $300 or $500 a month that would make all the difference in making ends meet. Whatever the solution might be, people are looking for it RIGHT NOW.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Business | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

Saving Money At The Grocery Store

Posted by theancientpathsfamilyfarm on May 1, 2008

Several years ago our family began scouring through our lives and our lifestyle to cut costs wherever we could. We had some tough seasons, financially speaking, and it was critical that we cut back wherever we could. I thought I’d share some of the things we’ve done that have been helpful. Maybe someone else can benefit from our experiences. Not only have we cut costs but we’ve found that we’re healthier from this process as well.

Saving Money At The Grocery Store

One of the biggest ways we have saved money at the grocery store was to stop buying pre-prepared and processed foods. While it may be “cheaper” to buy a box of something to mix together on the stove and feed your hungry family, it will not yield long term benefits. Pre-prepared foods are most often full of fillers which have no nutritional benefit. The example has often been used of snacking on potato chips or cookies vs and apple. In the early afternoon when we tend to look for a small snack, many people tend to grab a handfull of chips or cookies or something similar. What we notice is that later on, we’re hungry for another snack. The snack we had first may satisfy our taste buds but our bodies are still crying out for some sort of nourishment. An apple, for example, as a snack may not be what your taste buds are wanting but it will surely ward off those recurring snack-attacks and give your body the nutrients it’s needing. Fillers don’t benefit the the body at all and leave us as hungry, if not moreso, later on.

Not buying pre-prepared foods means that we eat all homemade meals. It may take a little longer but it’s worth it – both in the satisfaction that you get from creating a tasty meal and in the nutritional benefits your family finds. Homemade meals don’t have all of the fillers, additives and preservatives that pre-prepared foods have. Let’s use bread as our example of homemade vs store bought. Rather than a loaf of bread full high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, chemical additives and highly processed flours, your homemade breads are so much more delicious and nutritious. Again, it may take a little more time to bake the bread than it would to go buy it at the store but your family will only benefit from it. And like the other foods, a sandwich made with homemade bread is so much more satisfying and filling than one with store bought bread. You can ensure that the flours used are more nutritious and even add things like sunflower seeds, raisins, or whatever suits your fancy.

It’s much cheaper to buy all the ingredients for making bread separately, than buying them already made into bread. You can easily save $30 or $40 a month by baking your own bread.

This is especially true if you buy as many of your bread ingredients as you can, in the bulk department of a supermarket.

An entire bag of whole wheat flour (enough to make 4 to 6 loaves) could cost $4.00 or less. This is just one example of how cheap baking your own bread is.

source: Should You Bake Your Own Bread?

Change some of your meal routines. For breakfast, have oatmeal or toast with homemade bread rather than a boxed cereal. Our children used to have 3 or even 4 large bowls of cereal for breakfast and not bat an eyelash at the amount. Some boxes of cereal don’t hold much more than 5 large bowls of cereal to begin with. When we switched everyone to oatmeal or toast and jam for breakfast, the volume of food they consumed changed drastically. One bowl of oatmeal was much more filling and satisfying than 4 bowl of cereal. Not only that, but they could hold out till lunch time without being hit by a severe snack attack. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Good Stewardship, Health, Nutrition | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Tips To Start Eating Organically

Posted by theancientpathsfamilyfarm on April 23, 2008

Eating organically is something that many of us are interested in doing but when we look at the prices of organic produce or organically produced foods, we sometimes opt for non-organic. Then there are those times when we take the plunge and buy some fresh, preferably local, organic produce but don’t get it eaten before it begins to spoil. Oh how we hate to throw away spoiled produce, especially if it cost us more than other produce!

So here’s a tip for those of us who want to begin eating organically but don’t know where to start.

Start with what habits you already have and incorporate organic products into your already established habits. For example; if you normally eat an apple every morning with your breakfast, make your morning apple an organic one. Or if you normally have a cup of coffee or tea during the day, purchase organically grown coffee or tea.

This way you won’t be creating two new habits at once, but you will simply continue your good habits with products you feel better about.

Posted in Health, Nutrition | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Real Nutrition News

Posted by theancientpathsfamilyfarm on April 22, 2008

I have this impressive catalog/magazine here on my table and I just found it online so now I can share it with my online friends. 🙂

Real Nutrition News

It has some very interesting information in it related to nutrition and health that I’ve been reading elsewhere: in books, news articles, other magazines, etc. Because of this, I consider the information in it valid.

Remember, we were created to eat food – not to take vitamins. Eating whole foods and ensuring that we get our daily 5 to 9 servings of fresh fruit and vegetables is important. Vitamins just aren’t being absorbed by our bodies and we’d be better off to flush our money down the toilet than to buy synthetic vitamins. G-d created us to eat food, real food.

Posted in Health, Nutrition | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Eating Fresh Local Produce

Posted by theancientpathsfamilyfarm on April 6, 2008

In an effort to eat fresh whole foods, we often wonder how we’re supposed to get fresh local produce all year long.  We don’t always know what is fresh in our local area, but we do know that strawberries aren’t fresh and local products in January.  The National Resource Defense Council has a helpful site where we can find out what products are available in our area by season.  For example, here in Washington State

What’s Fresh

Washington: Early April

  • Apples*
  • Bamboo Shoots
  • Cauliflower
  • Garlic*
  • Green Onions
  • Herbs
  • Leaf Lettuce
  • Mushrooms
  • Peas
  • Spinach
  • Winter Pears

* Indicates availability from local hothouse or storage

Now, contrast that with this little blurb from the NRDC site:

Here’s a hotlist of commonly air-freighted foods and their country of origin. Try to get these at a local farmer’s market when they’re in season. (They’ll taste a lot better, too).

  • Asparagus (Peru)
  • Bell peppers (Netherlands)
  • Tomatoes (Netherlands)
  • Blackberries (Chile)
  • Blueberries (Argentina)
  • Cherries (Chile)
  • Raspberries (Chile)
  • Peaches (Chile)
  • Nectarines (Chile)
  • Papayas (Brazil)

** In our county, Raspberries are distinguished as being produced in larger quantities here than anywhere else in the US.  We are privileged to have “fresh frozen” raspberries and strawberries in some of our local markets all year long.

Fresh and local produce not only tastes better but they are better for you.  They have not been transported over long distances which means that they have been allowed to ripen on the vine/bush/plant long enough to contain the vitamins and minerals that we expect them to have.  Produce that is shipped over long distances aren’t allowed to ripen before being harvested (think of green bananas in the grocery store).  But another big benefit is that your hard earned money stays in your local community – your neighbors benefit from your purchase.  And if you’d like, I’m sure that local farmers wouldn’t mind your stopping by their farm to see how your food is grown.  And in the summer months, go as a family to pick berries for yourselves.  Make it a science or social studies lesson for the kids, or for yourself.  Know where your food comes from, how it was grown – be an educated consumer.

It’s time for local farmers markets to start up again and I’d like to encourage my readers to frequent them, if they are able.  Not only will you benefit, but your community members will too.  In our area, the local farmers markets are open on Saturday’s, making it unavailable for those of us who keep Shabbat.  But they do have a Wednesday market as well.  Take a few minutes to look into what is available in your local area and feed your family more fresh, local whole foods.  It really is the way we were intended to live.

Posted in Good Stewardship, Nutrition | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

The Health Benefits of Grass Fed Meats

Posted by theancientpathsfamilyfarm on March 12, 2008

Our family farm consists of grass fed beef, sheep and free range poultry. In the beginning we couldn’t afford grain to feed to the animals so we stuck just to grass and grass hay. We were looked down upon by friends and neighbors who would tell us that our meat would be tough and tasteless, or that we’d have a hard time finding buyers for our steers. Of course, we believed them. They were, after all, not only more experienced but some of them are rather large producers. But we were after more of a lifestyle than making a living from the farm, so it didn’t bother us too much. Our cows were happy and healthy in their pastures, the chickens and turkeys roamed through the yard and the woods seeking whatever critters they could find to gobble up, and the sheep (4-H projects) were content in their pasture laying under the big evergreen tree. Everyone was content and peaceful.

Then comes the “all natural” and “grass fed, grain free” interest. We started to think that maybe we had “done it right” after all! So we began to learn a little about the health benefits of grass fed beef, in particular. What we’ve learned has been quite interesting!! I’ll share a little here and include links to other web pages that contain more information and more specific information. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Grass Fed Livestock | Leave a Comment »

Bottled Water – Did You Know…?

Posted by theancientpathsfamilyfarm on March 12, 2008

Our county public works department has a recycling department and we received a regular mailer from them this week. I wanted to share what they included in the latest newsletter. It makes me SO glad to have well water and that we don’t use plastics!! DH was up late the other night and learned (for himself) just how toxic fluoride is to our systems, he was horrified! He thanked me the next morning for eliminating toothpastes with fluoride in them. LOL At any rate, here’s what the newsletter said:

Gallon for gallon, bottled water costs more than gasoline – and at least 25 percent of bottled water is just processed tap water.

Tap water is much less expensive. In some cases, you’re paying for little more than the bottle itself: At least 25 percent (some experts say as much as 40 percent) of bottled water is nothing more than processed tap water. Beverage companies aren’t legally required to disclose the source of their water. If it doesn’t say “spring water”, chances are it comes from the same or a similar source as tap water.

Tap water is regulated more rigorously than bottled water. Municipal water is overseen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which has more regulatory oversight than the U.S. Food and Drug Administration which oversees standards for bottled water. It’s impossible to make any water totally free of contaminants, but most amounts in tap water are tiny – and tap water has to meet higher standards than bottled water.

It’s better for the environment. It takes three to four times the amount of water in the bottle just to make the plastic for the bottle, and that’s not including how much oil is used and how much carbon dioxide is created when the water is shipped to the store.

Take it with you.To make tap water more convenient for travel, put it in a washable stainless-steel bottle. (our family uses glass bottles) Water bottles made of regular plastic, when reused, can harbor bacteria, and they aren’t made to withstand the heat of a dishwasher.

Buy Domestic. If you can’t break the bottled water habit, look for a brand that hasn’t been shipped across the world. The less distance the water has to travel, the fewer greenhouse gases are produced.

  • 28 Billion – Number of plastic water bottles purchased in the U.S. annually.
  • 1.5 Million Barrels – Amount of oil used to make those bottles
  • $11 Billion – Amount Americans spend on bottled water annually.
  • 16 – Percentage of plastic water bottles that get recycled annually.
  • 2.5 Million – Number of plastic water bottles Americans discard hourly.
– From Women’s Health Magazine

Posted in Good Stewardship, Health | Tagged: , , , , , | 4 Comments »