Blog: Elderberry and Echinacea: What’s the Difference? Part 1

 

 

 

 

COVID-19 surprised us, caught us off guard. Many wonder how best to prevent or support our immune systems through this crisis we are in. Not just for COVID but we still get colds and influenzas too. What helps?

Herbal teas nourish and provide many health benefits. Warm liquids are recommended to keep our mucous membranes healthy and resistant. I keep many dried plants as part of my home medicine chest, But, with any herb, it’s wise to know how to properly ID them in the wild, and know how to use them; what form is best.

One of my most popular blog posts talked about the value of elderberry. Family and friends frequently ask me about this woody shrub. With the COVID-19 flu virus causing unprecedented changes to our lives, I thought it worthwhile to look at the differences between elderberry and echinacea both used to support our immune systems during cold and flu season. I added echinacea here because folks wonder about that herb’s health benefits. Today, we’ll review elderberry. In Part 2, we’ll look at echinacea and then compare the two.

Elderberry: Sambucus nigra, also known as European Elder. Elder has a rich history. One of its name origins is Aeld, which meant fire. The pith in young branches is soft and easily pushes out. A hollow tube remains which was used to stoke the kitchen fires. In ancient times pipes were made of elder wood, hence the common name, pipe tree. The hollow reed was fashioned into instruments and of course pea shooters.

Where Found: common to Europe and Northern Africa; now found all over the United States; in fact, it was thought this was the tree Judas chose to hang from. A fungus occurs on the elder, Hirroneola auricular Judaea, so named from the above historical story or myth. Elder is considered a small tree about 10-12’ high or a shrub. It is commonly found along wood edges, along with wood stands in fields, along banks and fences.  This plant is also nitrogen loving and in the Honeysuckle family. It flowers from May- June.  Fruit ripens in August. Virginia Tech has a great ID page and plant facts.

Parts Used: bark, leaves, flowers, and berries. Do not eat the bark, leaves raw. The dried flowers dried or fresh or dried berries are often taken in tea form.

Actions: The flowers and berries are ideal for colds and flu, even sinusitis or any inflammation of the upper respiratory tract.
“What our study has shown us is that the common elderberry has a potent direct antiviral effect against the flu virus,” said Dr. Golnoosh Torabian. It inhibits the early stages of infection by blocking key viral proteins responsible for both the viral attachment and entry into the host cells.” Does it work against COVID-19? That’s still in debate. But since our immune system can be attacked by these types of viruses, research is on.

James Duke, Ph.D., who wrote, Herb-a-Day studied the studies conducted on herbs. He recommended the elderberry for the flu. and his research states that this plant was used by many Native American tribes.

Sambucol, Sambucus, two popular names for commercial products fly off the shelves of health or natural supplement departments. I have heard many stories of folks getting through a winter with no or few respiratory ailments hitting their households when combining elderberry with good winter health practices. If a cold should hit, elderberry syrup supplements are often the herb of choice.  Research studies are being conducted by notable University’s Complementary and Alternative Medical Departments including the NIH. The German Commission E recommends elderberry and elderflower preparations for colds and flu even bronchitis.

Medical News Today states: One cup of elderberries contains 106 calories and 26.68 grams (g) of carbohydrate. A cup also contains the following vitamins and minerals:

  • 870 mg of vitamin A
  • 406 mg of potassium
  • 52.2 mg of vitamin C
  • 9 mg of folate
  • 55 mg of calcium
  • 2.32 mg of iron

Elderberries are also an excellent source of fiber, containing 10.2 g of dietary fiber per cup.

How used: Edler flowers can be brewed and taken as a tea. Elderberry syrup and lozenges are part of my home medicine chest. I usually use elderberry during the winter or if I am traveling to keep my immune system strong. In fact, there is some research that indicates it’s beneficial to take when flying. There are many products that are available for children too. In view of the recent flu outbreaks, I thought it important to get info out about this wonderful plant. The berries have a long “food as medicine” history and can be found recipes including wine, jams, vinegar, and more.

Nature has so many remedies for us. Doug Tallamy, a podcast guest on my show: Holistic Nature of Us, reminds us: our personal land can play a huge part in supporting wildlife. And Elderberry is a host plant for a variety of butterflies and moths.

Elder, referenced by Shakespeare and Pliny, holds a place of connection whether superstition, hedgerows, or poetry capturing us with its many uses and meanings.

Have you made elderberry vinegar or jam? Next week we’ll talk about echinacea and then compare the actions and uses of both plants. We enjoy hearing from you. Any comments or suggestions are always appreciated.

Enjoy. Judith

Blog: Sustainable Cookware with Beatriz Garcia

 

 

 

 

Beatriz Garcia is my guest blog post writer this week. She reached out to me recently about sustainable cookware and I found her information useful. We often look at packaging as sustainable or not but what about our kitchen cookware? Summer is also a time for weddings and purchases for college dorms. I happen to be a fan of cast iron. Yes, they are heavy but I find them easy to clean and I like the even heating. What type of cookware is your favorite and why? Beatriz and I would love to hear from you.

Beatriz Garcia found out about the sustainable side of cookware when researching healthy cookware for her site Clan Kitchen.  You can find her writing there in the rare moments she isn’t busy looking after her family. Beatriz is keen to cook healthily and sustainably, but also has to balance this with quickly cooking foods her kids want to eat!

Coatings 

Whatever material you choose, you need to beware of the coating. If, for example, you want to avoid Teflon, then you should look for “PTFE free”.  Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) is the active ingredient in Teflon. Unfortunately, many pans are advertised as PFOA free. This is not helpful – PFOA was banned years ago. Other chemicals are now used to manufacture PTFE!  Unfortunately, when reviewing different pans, I’ve found many ceramic or stone pans actually have a coating that includes PTFE. People buying those bands could be misled by this. I certainly wouldn’t expect a ceramic or stone pan to include Teflon. Dr. Mercola, the number one holistic wellness expert, and site in the world, says this about Teflon coatings:

“In fact, the convenience of a nonstick or stain-resistant surface comes at a steep price, as such chemicals persist in the environment, are contaminating water supplies and have been linked to developmental problems, cancer, liver damage, immune effects, thyroid problems and more.”

My advice here is that if you are buying a pan that advertises itself as non-stick; check if it is PTFE free. If it doesn’t state PTFE free, then it probably does have Teflon. This is especially the case with ceramic, stone, aluminum pans, or any pan with a special coating. Here’s the problem with coatings in general: They wear away over time. And when they wear away, the pan loses any non-stick properties it had. The underlying layer/body of the pan is also exposed. This is often not healthy. For example, Aluminum exposure may cause Alzheimer’s. Once the coating of any pan starts to chip, I’d recommend throwing it away. And here we are back to the durability issue!  One coating that you can repair is the seasoning on cast iron or carbon steel pans. 

Efficiency 

It’s not just the energy used in creating the pan that counts, but also the energy used every time you cook with it! The miles per gallon metric for cars is unachievable and unrealistic. But at least it allows you to compare different cars. Yet cookware doesn’t come with anything like that. How can we compare?  The overall conductivity of each material to get an idea of which cookware is best. This isn’t perfect, but it’s something. 

Examining this factor suggests copper and aluminum top the charts, followed by cast iron. Stainless steel is the worst of the typical cookware metals. You don’t normally expose food directly to copper or aluminum for safety reasons. One option is a copper or aluminum core to help conduct and spread the heat. Some pans even have a copper bottom. I can’t imagine a layered pan would make the job of recycling any easier though! 

This might also depend on how you cook though. Cast iron is in the middle of the conductivity range and takes ages to heat up. But there is a way around this! Heat the cast iron pan before putting the food on it, then turn it off the stove when the food is almost ready. The pan keeps its heat a while and carries on cooking. With a little bit of practice, you can get the timing right on this. 

What Next? 

So, you’re sold on sustainable cookware but you’re not sure what to do next!  Perhaps you don’t have money to just go and buy another cookware set.  Keep using the pans you have for now, and watch out for my next article, where I will give you 10 tips on how to buy and afford, sustainable cookware. 

Thanks, Beatriz, for sharing the above information on how to look at our cookware sustainably. Next week Beatriz offers 10 tips for buying sustainable cookware.

Remember your comments are appreciated.

Enjoy. Judith

 

Podcast: Holistic Nature of Us: Meet Nate Liebenberg, Co-Founder: idiveblue.com

Description: Oceans are mysterious and deep. So many species color these waters that we scarcely see unless one takes to scuba diving. Then the panorama of life unfolds and it’s breathtaking.
I am a certified scuba diver. When one plunges into the depths of any ocean especially near reefs, colors and textures explode. Undulating waters speak of tides and cycles, of mysteries and treasures. However, our oceans are precious. They are taking a beating from dumping our garbage within her waters without thought to the long term consequences. My guest this week, Nate Liebenberg, co-founder of idiveblue.com, is passionate about bringing awareness to the problems we have created with throwaway plastics. They harm so many ocean species. They pollute these precious waters. And ultimately they harm us. 
Join us for a deep blue discussion about our oceans and what we can do to be part of the solutions.
Contact information: www.idiveblue.com
email: [email protected]

About My Guest: Nate is an ocean fanatic, who co-founded iDiveblue.com along with his brother Bill in2018. Nate previously worked in financial modeling for a medical group and at a genetics and bioscience company, before deciding to pursue his dream of running his marine
conservation and watersport business full-time in 2019. Although his business is centered around our beautiful oceans, Nate has a postgraduate degree in financial analysis and portfolio management from the University of Cape Town and is in the process of completing his Chartered Financial Analyst Certification. As the Brothers of iDiveblue.com, Nate and Bill are a couple of South Africans who have scuba dived, swum, snorkeled, sailed, skied, surfed, supped, freediving, fished, kayaked, canoed,
jet skied, kite surfed, body surfed and boated all around the world. They all hold several marine certifications across these activities including skipper licenses, PADI certifications, and more. They consider themselves waterborne and as such, they’ve made it their mission to help preserve our oceans and waterways. They take this on zealously. As such, iDiveblue.com provides community, work, and resources to t

Transcript: Nate Liebenberg 

https://idiveblue.com/ocean-plastics-environmental-disaster/

 

Blog: Anthropocene: How are Humans Influencing the Planet?

Ellen Bennett, featured in this TED Talk gives us hope. There are many stories and articles about our climate, for the most part, highlight existing problems. We get tired of that approach in our news, right? I know I do. Ellen offers a different approach, one that proves to be more sustainable.

She mentions Anthropocene. I wondered what that meant as my podcast guest this week, Alaya Young, founder of the 1 million redwood research and planting project mentions that too in her work.  So I looked it up and found this site and hope-filled talk about changing where we place our attention: Are we going to focus just on the doom and gloom or the stories filled with imagination, practicality, action, and innovation that are working today? We need both for balance but she offers 5oo seeds she found around the world; projects initiated that are sowing the seeds of sustainability and regeneration, changing community life for all.

But let’s step back a moment. Anthropocene relates to or denotes the current geological age, viewed as the period during which human activity has been the dominant influence on climate and the environment. Anthropos means human with the root, cene ( the standard suffix for epoch in geological time). The current epoch we are in is known as the Holocene Epoch of Quaternary Period which began approximately 10,000 years ago. I don’t know about you, but for me, the important point to remember is: overall, how are we affecting our environment from all levels of progress during our current epoch, and what will the future consequences be?

I love how Ellen Bennett’s pathways to sustainability include positive stories. Humble listening is a key point that enables us to connect the dots in innovative ways for regeneration; one seed becomes one project at a time just like Wangari Maathai’s Green Belt project in Kenya. I hope my podcast series contributes too. It’s been my deepest desire to highlight positive ways that folks are impacting today. And, what we can do on a daily basis in the midst of our lives to make a difference today.

Enjoy this TED TAlk. I hope you come away inspired to know that at the grassroots levels folks are finding ways to innovate and create a healthy, regenerative world for all. Pretty cool! Your comments are always appreciated. Thanks. Judith

 

 

Podcast: Holistic Nature of Us: Meet Ayana Young

Description: Ayana Young is deeply concerned about environmental issues, including social justice, ecology, and land-based restoration. She has been the force behind a native species nursery and research center, including the establishment of the 1 Million Redwoods Project, and the film when When Old Growth Ends. Ayana is a podcast host on “For the Wild,” a weekly show featuring thought-leaders at the forefront of an environmental, artistic, scientific, political, and cultural shift.
Join us for discussions about her projects and how nature is teaching her and her team to have patience, slow down, and immerse within the community of plants.

About My Guest: Ayana Young is a podcast and radio personality specializing in intersectional environmental and social justice, deep ecology, and land-based restoration. With an academic background at the intersections of ecology, culture, and spirituality, Young was studying at Columbia when the Occupy Wall Street movement began and amid the burgeoning resistance in Zuccotti Park, she co-created the Environmental Working Group. Since then Ayana has been the force behind a native species nursery and research center, including the establishment of the 1 Million Redwoods Project, which was acclaimed as the most-backed farm project in Kickstarter history, the film When Old Growth Endsan ode to the complex interweaving of the irreplaceable Tongass National Forest during its last stand as a distinctly wild place in Southeast Alaska and the For The Wild podcast a weekly show featuring thought-leaders at the forefront of an environmental, artistic, scientific, political and cultural shift.

Transcript: Ayana Young 

Sustainable Landscaping: the Time is Now

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Sustainable Landscaping

Sustainable, edible landscaping is a hot topic today from at least four perspectives:

    1. Are we providing food in a way that builds soil for future generations?
    2. What will that food availability look like?
    3. What are the consequences of pesticide contamination in our food supply,
    4. Finally, what are the consequences of over-developed land-use practices?

We are rethinking land use. While turning a lawn into meadow is a favorite topic of mine there are a plethora of ideas flooding our internet channels on how to do just that:  create sustainable landscapes that serve vital purposes for the planet and ourselves and other species.

Sustain, in its simplest form, means “to give support to or relief to.” Sustainability, in landscaping, contains in its core, principles, efforts, and practices that enhance water and soil conservation, rebuilding wildlife habitat and prevention of further land degradation and provide food.

Fact: land degradation jeopardizes biodiversity. Doug Tallamy, in Bringing Nature Home, reminds us that 4000+ species are in danger today.

Fact: World forest cover continues to decline at an alarming rate.

Fact: Communities in the western part of the US face severe water restrictions due to intense development. Overdevelopment and the use of showy botanicals, often not native to the region, decrease food, water, and shelter for many species and I include humans in that mix.

The desertification of the planet (over 1/3 of our planet has been turned into the desert) creates food shortage problems.

The good news is “more than two billion hectares of land worldwide offer opportunities for restoration through forest and landscape restoration.”  Calamity, hardship, trials often create the soil for innovation and that is happening today in the use of land. For example: while city rooftops have been known to contain gardens, designers, architects, and engineers are looking at ways to convert flat building box store rooftops into gardens that produce the food they can sell. Front lawns are being turned into diverse landscapes that can produce food.

We are only limited by our imaginations. It seems to me there is a renaissance occurring planet-wide. Renaissance implies a renewal of life, vigor, interest, a rebirth, a revival. My podcast guest this week, Bettylou Sandy reminds us that our front lawns can be transformed into pleasant gardens with food. Start with one idea and section at a time. Get to know your land through the seasons and weather conditions specific to your area. This knowledge base will lead to your success.

Pinterest abounds in ideas, great visuals that take us to great articles.

What are your ideas? Have you changed your backyard into a more diverse landscape? Share your ideas, share your pictures. I would love to hear from you. Happy Gardening.

Enjoy. Judith

 

 

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