Sunday, November 25, 2012

Food sensitivities

Last week I discovered that one of my sisters is lactose intolerant. She hadn't told any of us, so of course Thanksgiving was heavy with cheese and cream and butter.

Food sensitivities are rampant, especially as people get older. Stomacheaches, heartburn, etc, are pretty much ignored except to pump pharmaceuticals and other chemicals into an already overstressed system.

If you have food alergies or sensitivities, the best thing you can do is tell other people about it. Other people can help you (or snipe and warn) and adjust their foods to accomodate. Mashed potatoes may not taste the same with margarine, or without the heavy cream, but they're still good.

Avoidance may be the best option, but some people lack self control and sometimes you simply don't know what is in the food you're eating. Once in a while you may slip and unknowingly eat something you shouldn't simply because it's related to something you're sensitive to.

If you do slip up there are a number of herbs that will help with digestive problems (many of the mints, dill (carrot familly) as well as turmeric and ginger). But herbs, by their nature, are related to other herbs and people will often have the same sensitivities to their relatives (rather like your sister-in-law's mother).

That being the case, I'm going through all the old posts here and putting up plant family information. I've started but not finished, so look back later for additional information.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Experiment update

Looking out at two feet of snow on the ground reminds me that I haven't given an update on the garlic experiment yet (See Soil-less growth medium).

The first "planting" is about two feet high. I wasn't aware (since it's always happened under the ground) that the old clove is destroyed in building the new bulb. It develops at the center and splits the old clove open. Then it just falls off.

I planted two more rows, staggered. All of the original planting is popping at the seams, so I'm guessing we'll have new garlic in time for Christmas, which is good since the cold and flu season is upon us.

Garlic is a heavy feeder, so I've been fertilizing it about once a week. I hope that's enough.

I brought the citrus and the amarylis in months ago (they would normally go on the shelf where the garlic is sitting), so my room is just a little crowded right now.

Thursday, November 1, 2012


Juniperus communis
Family: Cupressaceae

Many of my neighbors have juniper. It seems to be everywhere. It's recognizable by the pokey, fleshy, faintly blue tinged "berries" that come on in the fall. They're actually cones.

I see no reason to keep one of my own, although it's nice to know it's available if necessary (and I do have seeds, JIC).

The first thing to remember is that Juniper is poisonous. For the most part it's used internally for infections or intestinal pain, but I can't see that there's any point to that when it can cause intestinal and kidney inflammation.

I think this will have to be one of those things I don't touch unless I have an herbalist who can tell me how it's supposed to be used. Maybe as I become more comfortable with herbs in general I'll be more willing to experiment.

One of the more interesting possible uses is to help with the symptoms of diabetes, but since I'm not diabetic I've never tried it. Studies support its ability to lower blood sugar.

Juniper also seems to have potent anti-viral properties.

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