This is a production of West Virginia Public Broadcasting.
Appalachia is filled with a lot of people that are herbalists and granny, witches in the wise woman.
Tradition is about nourishment.
From the very beginning, the food is medicine.
People often ask me whether is my favorite flower.
And it's a hard decision because there are so many amazingly beautiful flowers.
But Passionflower is way up there, definitely in the top ten for its beauty, for its smell, and for its ability to help us.
This is passiflora incarnata and it is a native passionflower to west virginia.
It is most well known for its ability to help you sleep.
It's a very calming herb.
It's unnerving and safe for children.
So it's a wonderful herb to use when you have sleep issues.
But it also is good for depression and anxiety.
It will help lower blood pressure and it the smell.
I just love coming out here and smelling these plants.
The bees love it.
And the way I work, you pay attention to the insects that enjoy a plant and where it grows and how it grows.
And that will tell you a little bit about how it wants to be used.
Often the bees will will start in the center of the plant where the pollen is, and they'll spin around and look, ooh, and then they'll slow down in the slide down and then they'll sleep.
So the bees are falling asleep on this flower, which is something about what it's used for.
So I'm going to harvest some and then they're ready to go in the house for medicine.
I want a lot of plant material to the menstrum.
The menstrum is whatever liquid you're using to put your plant material in.
The menstrum is alcohol or honey or vinegar.
Water is even a menstrum.
Some people use glycerin.
In this case, we have honey.
The main mistake that people make is not using enough plant material.
And then you get a very weak finished product.
So I like a lot of plant material and a little bit of menstrum, so I'm going to put these in the honey and I'll put the lid on tight and I'm going to turn it upside down.
Now, when you put plant material in honey, it will ferment, which is good for us.
So each day you have to burp it, you have to open it up, or even when it's finished for a couple of days, I'll burp it each day and then I will label it and it will sit for six weeks, six weeks is the magic number.
My favorite way to use the honey is to have it in warm milk in the evening before I go to sleep and it really the warm milk and the passionflower honey is just a fabulous sleep.
We're looking for a reishi mushrooms, which are a highly medicinal, sought after mushroom.
They're also one of the most beautiful mushrooms, in my opinion.
The depictions of the Reishi are the oldest of any fungus in Chinese history.
All the way back to the First Emperor of China.
And it's been associated with immortality, vitality, wisdom, health for thousands of years.
Here's some they're growing out of this dead hemlock tree.
There's a lot of dead hemlock trees around here, which is kind of nice for the Reishis.
You can see there is tons of them growing out of this tree.
So you want to harvest Reishis that are at the end of their lifecycle, that are mature, preferably ones that have already dropped their spores.
And you can tell that a couple of different ways.
I'll grab this one here.
We'll cut it with a knife at the base.
This one's ready to go.
You can kind of tell by looking at this white edge when the mushrooms are mature.
That's going to be really small or gone altogether.
And you can tell also when a group of Reishis is mature by looking at the backs of the ones around it.
So you can kind of see this brown powder that's actually the spores.
So the the Ricci, the mushroom above this one already dropped its spores, which means it has completed its lifecycle.
It doesn't have any more work to do.
So you can take it home and use it for whatever you want to use it for.
So that's different from this one.
You can kind of see the white edge is a lot bigger and that means that still growing.
So you could let it get even bigger if you wanted to harvest it and wait for it to drop its spores.
There's no known lookalikes for Reishi Mushroom.
There is plenty of Garnet Hermes species, so there may be others that are not the hemlock variety that look like this or that look similar to this.
But these are it's not easy to confuse this with anything else growing around here.
And they're really just perfect and they're so beautiful.
It's a cancer fighting mushroom.
So it actually activates your immune system, stimulates your T-cells in certain doses.
And to get that, you actually want to do the alcohol extraction.
So so it really does a lot.
There's a lot of different things in here.
I think it deserves its reputation for.
We got some amazing mushrooms yesterday and today we're going to use them to make Reishi tea.
The first thing you want to do to do that is you want to break them into pretty small pieces.
You want the most surface area that you can get, and there's a lot of different ways to do this.
We're just going to slice them up in the strips and we're going to boil them for a while.
When you find wild Ricci that you want to process yourself, it is best to do that as soon as possible, within a day or two of picking them, because they'll really start to harden up as they draw and they'll become almost impossible to break.
You can break a coffee grinder trying to cut one of these things up.
So we're going to cut them as soon as we can.
So if you're using dried, you only need a little bit about three ounces.
But if you're using fresh like this, we're going to need a bit more about 25 ounces.
Now, once we have the water in here, we're going to put it on to the heat.
You can do this on your stovetop at home.
And we're going to bring this all the way up to a boil.
And once it's up to a boil, you want to leave it for at least 30 minutes.
And as much as 2 hours, you can actually boil it for 2 hours and then we'll just bring it over and strain it out.
Some people like to add flavor.
It has a really earthy taste, so you could add ginger, orange peel or honey in the last ten, 15 minutes of the cooking process.
But we're just going to go ahead and drink it straight to the.
So there you have it.
Here's some reishi tea.
There's so many wise women out there.
This is medicine for the people.
But anybody can do this here.
This is mother wort and the Latin is Leonurus Cardiaca, which means Lionheart and Mother Wort means mother's herb.
So it's a great herb for women, it's good for everybody, but it's a really great mother's little help.
So right now this is the time to harvest.
You want to harvest her flowering tops and that's usually right around the summer solstice.
So this is the perfect time.
And when you're harvesting, you just want to take only a third of the flowering tops from one plant, which includes the stem, the flowers and all the leaves.
And that's what you're going to tincture.
It's real simple.
Some people make tinctures with dried plant material, and that's fine.
But I think the the best is to get her while she's fresh and in the wild.
So we've got our mother wort here that we just gathered.
We have lots of ants letting them crawl out of the plants so they don't become part of the medicine.
And we have a clean jar jar of any size and we've got some 100 proof vodka.
For extraction and cover for baking.
This so my neighbors don't think I'm a lush.
Is that not?
Okay, so we're going to cut up the plant material with our scissors into little pieces.
Now, her seeds are pretty sharp and they bite a little bit, so I like to try to fold the leaves up over them, but do expect to get poked a little bit and generally just work with what's growing around me.
It's said that, you know, the medicine you need is right outside your door.
It's known for women's health.
It helps regulate your menstrual cycle.
It can bring on your period.
It's great for PMS.
It mitigates cramps over time.
You just have a much easier cycle.
But also it's really good for anxiety and panic and worry in the moment.
Now we're just going to cover it with our 100 proof vodka.
What I'll do tomorrow morning, I would check it and see if the vodka has gone down any bit and top it off again another time just to make sure there you have it.
And you're going to label that in dates with today's date and then I let mine go for at least six weeks.
I put it, you know, on my apothecary shelf or like up in a cabinet.
It's been six long weeks and we're all in need of mother work now.
So this mother, it's been sitting in 100 proof vodka on a dark shelf in my kitchen, my little apothecary.
And so today we're decanting the medicine, so we're going to strain out all the plant material, and then we'll just have the vodka with the medicinal properties of the mother, where it has been extracted into that.
So that's all we're doing.
But you're going to use a funnel and a strainer and you just put it in of the plant material up there.
You can see.
And then I like to press it down to get as much medicine out as you can, and then you've got your tincture right there in the jar, so you're going to put a lid on it.
And that'll keep for a really, really long time.
It's not going to go bad.
And then if you have a dropper bottle, you can put some more in there.
We can fill that up.
Now, even if you're really stressed out and really in need of your mother, we're don't take a drink from the bottle because it is 100 proof vodka and it's really strong.
It's like that though.
It works quick and then you're going to want to label that.
And I do believe that the plants are there for you and even like poke, you know, here in West Virginia in my ancestors ate poke.
that was what they ate and that was food.
But it also purge them from the wintertime, probably eating, you know, smoked meat that probably just wasn't really good for their system.
The sad thing is that we've lost that connection to nature and there's so many look alikes and then there's so many invasive.
So you really have to be super careful when you're going out in the woods and you think you got it.
I like double check.
Unless I know I think it's easier when I grow them because I know it is what it is like.
I have lemon brown growing.
I know that lemon balm like my apple is highly toxic.
So that's not something that I would willy nilly even offer as support to any of my clients unless I trust them to take it.
Because you don't take that much poke.
Like if you're eating poke, you're not getting it right now.
It has a red stem.
That's a no.
But if you if it's early spring is the first green up, you've got to cook it.
But you're not just going to cook it, like just throw it in a pan.
You're going to dump that water until like three times what my grandma taught me three times.
And then because it's so toxic, skullcap is like my favorite thing right now.
It's an adaptogen for your nervous system, but it's mad dog skullcap cap, which is native to the United States of America.
It was in the past used for rabies, but currently right now, if you use it for Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's, anxiety, stress, it's a sedative.
It's in the Mint family.
I do it in tinctures, I make it in teas all the time.
It grows like as far as a herb.
If you want to grow it from seed, you get to see it's going to grow.
And it's I mean, it's really delicate and small, but it has a big bang and the side effects are minimal.
Ramps Have there been this cultural icon in Appalachia for forever?
It's just one of those things that, again, you go to West Virginia and people buy messes of ramps for a dollar, and then you go somewhere like New York City and you can get a ramp dish for, you know, $20 a plate and know what's a ramp?
By the way, I don't have any idea.
So it's there's like a little there's a disconnect in education.
But sometimes I think maybe it's okay that not everyone knows about ramps, one, because it's a sacred kind of Appalachian plant.
The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources wants to determine whether or not the ramp should be classified as a vulnerable species.
So that's a plant species that wild populations are threatened to to humans, removing it from the environment.
So we're trying to get an idea of how much digging is occurring and harvesting.
We're trying to look at the genetics of it to determine if we remove large amounts of ramps from the population.
What is that going to do to the genetic diversity of ramps?
And we're also looking to see what types of habitat ramps grow well and so that we can educate people on how to grow them and how to propagate ramps, to lessen the pressure off the wild populations.
Before, it was not a commonly consumed vegetable, but now it's become quite trendy and everybody wants ramps.
And unfortunately for the ramp populations we have no idea what that means when people are coming in and digging.
And at many of our sites we've seen people actively removing them, taking out backpacks for buckets full of garbage bags full of ramps.
I saw them this year at Eastern Food Co-op in Pittsburgh, going for 1999 a pound I'm out here studying the photochemistry of ramps.
There's only been one paper that looked at any of the photochemistry that was back in 98 by Elizabeth Calvi.
And they she looked at organo sulfur compounds.
And so she did find sepenes, which are an a sulfur compound from onion.
And then she also found an organo sulfur compound called Allison, which is the compound in garlic that's the most health promoting and garlic.
That's why we think garlic is healthy.
And so she found Allison in ramps at 10 to 50%, the amount that you would find in garlic.
And so it kind of gives you the it corresponds with the flavors of ramps, like a little bit of onion, a little bit of garlic.
We're looking at bulbs versus leaves.
And so the leaves do have higher compounds than the bulbs.
And so it's kind of a health benefit of just harvesting the leaves.
We live in really amazing times because science now has the ability to confirm things that some of us have known.
There's so many people that use herbs and work with plants that don't really call themselves and herbalist.
As far as I'm concerned, if you eat wild foods and you use herbs, you're an herbalist on some level, the drugs that most people think of, they originally came from plants.
Digitalis from foxglove is another really good example.
But I believe that we all need to develop this own sense of personal responsibility that is so strong that we don't need someone else to tell us we have to do this, this and this.
My goal is to help people nourish themselves through wild foods, weeds, learning how to cook simple, healthy meals so that we can get the micronutrients that we need from our food rather than from taking a pill.
Comfrey is a profound healer.
It's one of the things that we have to be careful of when using comfrey with wounds is that it does work.
So well that if you have any bacteria in the wound and it heals on the surface without healing deep inside first, then you.
Yes, can get an infection.
So what I have here is some comfrey oil and I have made this with olive oil and fresh comfrey and I've cold infused it.
I prefer to use fresh plant material and do a cold infusion rather than dry plant material and heat.
Because any time you heat oil, you have an opportunity for the oil to become rancid more quickly.
And I have some honey you don't want honey that has beeswax and bee particles and propolis.
You want a clean filtered honey for this?
You don't want to have anything else involved.
And I have a little jar of yarrow tincture that I will spray on the wound before I put the honey and comfrey on it.
I make this in small quantities because with wounds we're often going to be dipping our fingers in it.
And I don't want to have a lot of double dipping going on, so that's about half of this measuring cup for now.
Honey alone can be used for wounds as well, and it's very well known for its antibiotic properties, which is one of the reasons it works so well with the Comfrey, because it creates an effective antibacterial block and even honey by itself is an effective wound healer.
And what's a combination?
Does you have the antibacterial and the healing properties of the honey and then you have the healing properties of the comfrey.
And we all know that Comfrey is common name is knit bone and tha because it has the profound ability to knit tissue together.
And the constituent that does that is called Allen Toyne and it actually is a constituent that proliferates cell growth.
So I'm just giving this give that oil and liquid, I'm just going to try to mix it up as good as I can because I do not want to double dip.
I'm only going to take a small amount of this out and I'm going to put it in lid and I will use that.
And then when I'm finished with that, I'm finished with it and it will go into the compost and not be used for anything else.
My youngest grandchild called him Banana, so I still call him banana.
So we're going to call him banana for the sake of this.
He came home one night with this gaping wound we have no idea what happened.
I mean, to me, it looks like something beat him and just took a chunk out of him and it was as deep as my finger.
So when I got there, a few days later, it was smelling infected and it was not nice.
So we immediately started with the Yarrow and the Honey and the Comfrey, and a couple of days later that's what we had.
The next day the the infection was gone and then the healing started to happen, and then it gradually healed from the inside out and just got smaller and smaller and smaller until he has just this little tiny scar and good old banana.
I think he's 14, maybe 15 now.
He's getting old, but he's still around.
Using Yarrow as an antibacterial wash and then applying Honey and Comfrey does is provide that environment that helps the body heal from deep tissue wounds.
You know, the women's tradition is an ancient, ancient tradition.
We were the original healers.
We give birth, we bring life into the world.
Yellow dog can be found its she is plentiful.
She is in almost every farm pasture I've ever seen.
She really loves disturbed soil.
So anywhere you'll see like overturned soil or something like that, she can grow anywhere in everywhere.
So once you start to notice her, you'll be like, Oh my God, it's one to show you how yellow that is.
In the fall.
It'll grow up and have its like kind of like reddish brown rust colored seeds.
And when they blow, they just go everywhere.
This is what you'll see.
Rumus Crispus or Yellow Dock, also known as Curly Dock in the fall.
This is what she looks like in the fall.
You have the leaves are starting to kind of fade and you can tell, see how it's kind of curled up there.
And what's happening is all the medicinal properties and energy that was up here.
In the summer is going back down.
Into the roots to rest for winter.
And as always.
We're going to give a little thanks before we take.
The plants and just sit for a minute.
My daughter has is anemic.
And what Yellow Dock does is it helps you absorb the iron that's available.
I have her take her yellow dock tincture that I make with her with high iron foods.
And so then that seems to really help.
And then it supports the liver because if you have good, healthy blood that can come and be the liver and replenish the liver, then the liver is going to operate.
So it will help the liver and gallbladder secrete bile and then that bile breaks down the fats that you eat.
And so when you're lit, your liver is not going to get congested with fats.
It can break them down so that your body can use them.
Yeah, pretty much.
Dig it up and wash it off.
Cut it up and then tincture it in vodka.
I like to leave roots for eight weeks.
One of the things that I know for a fact is that bodies have the ability to heal themselves, provided the environment is conducive to healing.
And that's our bodies, our animals, bodies, plant bodies and the earth all beings have the ability to heal themselves.
This has been a production of West Virginia Public Broadcasting.