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Making Herbal Decoctions

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Tonic Herbal Decoction

What is a Herbal Decoction?

A Decoction is a herbal tea that is lightly simmered for 30 minutes-5 hours. It is different from an Infusion, which is a tea that is steeped in hot water, but not simmered. Typically decoctions are done with woody plant parts like roots, barks, seeds and berries as well as mushrooms, where the medicinal compounds require longer extraction as they are contained by tough fiberous cell walls. They are not ideal for leafy green herbs or those containing highly volatile oils. These types of herbs are better made into Infusions. The strength of a decoction is based on how long they are brewed for and how much herb material is added. Most are typically done with 20 parts water (ml) to 1 part herb (grams), 20:1 . To make stronger this can be reduced as low as 5:1 before you start having more herb than liquid. When making a decoction, it is also important to use the best water you can get (spring water is ideal).

As it can take up to a few hours to make a strong decoction sometimes it is ideal to make more then you are able to use right away. After straining, they can be stored in mason jars or other glass container in the fridge and reheated or used cold when desired. Most will last for up to a week, so keep this in mind, so as not to make more then you can use, unless you plan to freeze or can some of it.

How do we use Decoctions?

Once created, a decoction can be used in many ways other than drinking as a tea, they also make a great base for other projects. One of my favourite options is to make a hot tonic drink. This can be done by adding super food powders like Raw Cacao or our Super Power Blend, a nut mylk, coconut oil or cacao butter and sweetener to the base and blending while still hot, like an amped up hot chocolate.  Another option is to use it cold, as a smoothie base or a base for making your own nut mylks.  Decoctions  also make a great base for a tonic Immunity soups, becoming the broth. Some are used externally for skin conditions by applying with a dampened cloth or sponge. They can be added to a bath or used as a traditional steam bath, surrounding the area with a towel to keep the steam in. To preserve a decoction, sweetener and alcohol can be added making a syrup or just alcohol making a tincture.

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Medicinal Mushroom Decoction

Herbs of choice:

Like I said before, the best choice of herbs are those with tough fibrous cell walls, like roots, barks, seeds, berries and mushrooms.

Harmonic Arts Tea Blends that lend well to decoctions- Adapting Gems, Tonic Immunity, Organic Chai Mix, Throat Harmony, Coastal Roots, and Amazonian Allies.

Adaptogenic Tonic Herbs-  Chaga, Reishi, Astragulus, Ginseng, Eleuthero, Ashwagandha, Fo-Ti, Rhemmania, Codonopsis, Wild Yam, Goji, Maca, Licorice, Suma, Devils Club, Sarsaparilla

Immune Herbs- Chaga, Reishi, Astragulus, Goji, Echenacea, Elder Berry, Codonopsis, Wild Cherry Bark, Lomatium, Wild Indgo, Osha

Digestive Support- Fennel, Licorice, Fenugreek, Slippery Elm, Marshmallow, Ginger, Gentian, Burdock

Liver Herbs- Burdock, Dandelion, Milk Thistle, Artichoke, Black Radish, Oregon Grape, Yellow Dock, Turkey Tail, Maitake

Reproductive Support– Dong Quai, Vitex, Cramp Bark, Fo-Ti, Rhemmania, Wild Yam, Maca, Muria Puama, Catuaba, Ginger

Circulation and Blood- Ginger, Cinnamon, Clove, Cardamom, Chai Spices, Hawthorn, Turmeric, Garlic, Cayenne

Pain- Willow Bark, Jamaican Dogwood, Cramp Bark, Ginger, Poplar Buds, San Qi

Seaweeds- Bladderwrack, Kelp, Wakame (Harmonic Arts Fucoidan Blend)

All the Herbs mentioned above are available at Harmonic Arts Botanical Dispensary

If you are using a small cut of herb they are ideally brewed loose and strained out, but can also be put in a re-usable muslin tea bag*, cheese cloth pouch or should be strained out before adding other vegetables. Another option is to add herbal powders and not filter them, although tis will leave some sediment in the soup.

 

Women’s Practices for Maintaining Vital Health

Artist- A. Andrew Gonzalez

Artist- A. Andrew Gonzalez

By Angela Willard Cl.H.

I love life, and I love it even more when I feel the ease in my body during and after a cleanse. The thing is, we need to find ways to feel this way all the time, even when the cleanse is over and ‘regular’ life sets back in. After experimenting with finding my optimal health level over the past number of years, I have found certain daily practices to come to mean the difference between feeling alright, and feeling fantastic! Follow me on this journey in discovering your own super goddess that resides within you.

For us women, who have a rainbow of responsibilities we all too often need to tend to in our lives, we generally run with a vessel more on the empty side. With that, my goal in writing this piece is to guide women in all places and spaces, to be inspired to fill their vessel so full, that they experience life with ease rather than effort. When things come from a place of effort, all of our energy becomes focused on catching up, and restoring balance. Why not instead experience the blissful feeling of having abundant reserves, which fuel us to fulfill not only our responsibilities, but also our passions and creativity. It is in our creativity that we may find our solace, get to know our selves more deeply, and continue to grow and evolve on this path of life.

With that, I have compiled a list of simple practices to implement on a daily basis, whether cleansing or not, to bring fullness to life and allow us to come from that place of nourished contentment rather than from a sense of imbalance and struggle.

Fermenting Foods

Not only do I feel much better eating fermented foods on a daily basis, I get great pleasure and nourishment from playing a part in the fermentation process. Having a direct relationship with your food is a potent way of receiving healthful benefits. Fermentation is a vast area you can participate in, from making your own sauerkraut, to creating your own tempehs, delicious drinks such as beet kvass and kombucha, or even special occasion beverages such as meads and herbal wines. Some plant properties are more potent and bio-available when fermented, and fermented foods are high in probiotic cultures that support and guard the GI tract. It doesn’t take too long to feel confident with fermenting, and usually you can get your favorite process down after one or two tries. I recommend you start with small batches until you feel you have it right. The following recipe for Beet Kvass is something I’ve really enjoyed making, and it’s positive impact on women through supporting liver function and hormone balance makes it an optimal daily tonic drink.

Beet Kvass:

3 medium beets, cubed

1 Tbsp Salt

Clean source of Water

Add chopped beets to a 1 liter mason jar, sprinkle on salt, and top with water leaving about one inch of air from the top. (You can also add 1 Tb of Kefir to add more cultures). Cover with a lid, give it a good shake, and let sit at room temperature for 2-3 days (if you are in a warm climate 2 days should be enough). Place in fridge and drink about ½ cup per day. When the jar gets low on kvass, top with water again for a second batch. Save a little of the kvass to add to your next batch with new beets to help kick start the fermentation process. After using the beets to make your kvass, you can add them to your next meal as a delicious addition!

Consume Seaweeds

The health benefits of consuming seaweeds is a very extensive list. Keep in mind that if you are new to bringing seaweeds into your diet, it may take a few weeks to notice some of the benefits, as some receptors in the body need to ‘re-learn’ how to integrate seaweeds into the system. What I consider the top reasons for women to eat these wonderful foods are the following:

-High mineral content, especially great for those that eat little or no animal products.

-It’s iodine content helps to regulate the thyroid, a sensitive endocrine gland that when in a healthy state directly affects ones feeling of well being and ability to move through life with full reserves of energy. *Not to be used uncooked for those with hyper-thyroid.

-High Vitamin content, specifically containing Vitamins A, B’s (B1, B2, B3, B6, and B12), C, D (contains ergosterol which the body converts to D), E, and K.

Fucoidan, a property specific to brown seaweeds, is a great life giver from the ocean. It has the ability to target foreign cells and dismember them while encouraging proper energy flow throughout the body and it’s integrative systems. The simplest way to consume Fucoidan is to take 2 tsp of any powdered brown seaweed (or you can use Harmonic Arts Fucoidan blend), add it to 1 C of water, and bring to a gentle simmer for 30 minutes. Take 2-3 Tbsp each day, mixed with juice if needed to make it more palatable. Stores in a container in the fridge for up to 1 week. You may start to notice uplifted feelings in your sense of self fairly quickly, as it efficiently helps to improve mood within a womans hormonal cycle. Currently there are about 900 scientific studies around the world on Fucoidan, it appears to have an incredibly positive impact on overall human health.

Incorporate Superfoods and Superherbs into a regular regime

These potent botanicals can support a high quality lifestyle, for the long term.

Superherbs are basically powerful acting herbs that have an intelligent ability to adapt to current needs and stresses, in order to support the whole person system with greater flexibility in life. With that, many of them are considered Adaptogens and Longevity Tonics, as they act most prominently on ones internal weak spots and support the HPA axis for accurate stress response.

Superfoods can be described as nutrient dense low calorie foods, with little to no negative effects, allowing the body to consume higher quantities than other botanicals. Consuming the same amount of Superfoods as other common foods will deliver much higher nutrition to the body. Below is a list of some of my favorite super herbs and foods that deliver an especially great boost to the female reproductive and hormonal system:

1)Goji berries (Lycium chinense); these tasty berries are very high in antioxidants, protect and strengthen the liver, boost immune, and stimulate the release of HGH, a hormone that keeps us looking and feeling young.

2)Fo-Ti (Polygonum multiflorum); this traditional chinese yin tonic nourishes the body, as it builds energy reserves and slows the aging process. It increases fertility and libido in women, allowing women to feel as though they are in their power and feeling their best.

3)Maca (Lepidium meyenii); influences the pituitary gland which in turn regulates overall hormone excretion. Increases energy, addresses a wide variety of women’s menstrual and menopausal discomforts, and contains significant amounts of vitamins B1, B2, B12, C and E, as well as minerals (calcium, phosphorous, zinc, magnesium, iron).

4)Schizandra berries (Schisandra chinensis); these berrries contain lignans, which help to protect the liver. It is said that if consuming Schizandra berries every day for 100 days, your skin will glow like the moon. They also bring healing to the lung, increasing the ability to take in oxygen, as well as keep defenses against external pathogens strong.

5)Holy Basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum); Useful for coping with stress, helps increase energy, and raises the ability to deal with pain. All in all this herb is wonderful for fortifying and building overall strength. It’s ‘holiness’ comes from the Vedic observations that it opens the heart and mind which in turn enhances love and devotion.

6)Shatavari (Asparagus racemosus); Brings balance to symptoms of the female hormone cycles. Helps to improve sense of well being prior to menstruation, tones the uterus, lessens hot flashes in menospausal women, and maintains womens overall good health.

7)Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera); The translation of this Sanskrit name is ‘to make like horse’, so if you can imagine the strength and vigor of a stallion, it gives you an idea of the force of this plant. It is helpful to build back the body’s strength after illness, or during times of high stress. It also has shown to help increase fertility in both men and women.

8)Medicinal Mushrooms; I couldn’t pick just one of them- studies have shown that medicinal mushrooms are more effective when combined as opposed to used singularly. They are a potent way to help prevent most all illnesses through a number of mechanisms. They are proven to enhance immune response, improve the bodies ability to produce Vitamin D, are anti-inflammatory, cardioprotective, liver supportive, and calming to an overactive nervous system. Harmonic Arts has two medicinal mushroom blends available~ 5 mushroom or 14 mushroom blend steam extracted powders, which are bio-available to the body as is, and can be sprinkled in anything from smoothies, salad dressings, and soups. Some examples of medicinal mushrooms are Shiitaki(Lentinus edodes), Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum), Chaga (Inonotus obliquus) , and Maitaki (Grifola frondosa).

 

Get your Daily Sweat On!

 

Whether it be from exercise, or relaxing in a steam or sauna, allowing the body to sweat supports the skin. The skin is one of the four eliminatory channels of the body. Regular exercise is proven to extend the human life span, and greatly increase the quality of life. A physically fit body is able to efficiently protect against invasive pathogens, process toxins and other substances that may be backed up and causing imbalance. Exercise also strengthens the respiratory and cardiovascular systems, keeping them functioning at their highest. All of this increases oxygen to each and every cell, gifting your whole being a breath of fresh air.

The lymphatic system also benefits from the muscle pump action generated in exercise. As it is the pathway that toxins are channeled out in the body, the best way to cleanse it is through movement. To support the lymphatic system during a steam or sauna, alternating the session with very cold showers will give the lymph a good cleansing. Infrared sauna is ideal, but also beneficial are herbal steams, cedar sauna, sweat lodges, or the traditional latin american temescal.

And Don’t Forget to Stretch

Stretching yourself comes in many forms. Often people think of yoga right away, which is a wonderful practice to bring into your life if you have not already. There are other ways you may wish to explore stretching in your life as well. Trying something new, or different than the way you normally would do things, can be both exhilarating and consciousness shifting. Sticking to patterns can work for awhile, but when it comes to evolving the self, patterns can equate to turning in circles versus spiraling up and cultivating growth. Try to bring into your daily practice the choice of doing something you don’t normally do. Record each new experience down in a journal, and after a cycle of one month, look back on your recordings and notice how your self has changed with this practice. You may find that your growth has accelerated in the direction you wish to be going.

Along with the above suggestions, I recommend that you do a mini inventory on the daily influences that you allow into the experience of your life. We are regularly bombarded with un-natural sights, sounds, ideas, circumstances, and occurrences. It has now become a mass acceptance of the norm. Ask yourself if what you are experiencing in each moment lines up with your highest self. If it in any way does not, purge and cleanse that influence from your life and fill that space with something that fills your heart. Not only will this improve your experience in the world, it ripples out and improves the overall experience of the world, coming back at you as the love you are willing to accept. Using discernment with what you allow into your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual body will ultimately take you to a place of feeling ‘cleansed’ in every moment, gifting your life a continual experience of true well being.

 

angela willardAngela Willard received her Clinical Herbalist Diploma from the Wild Rose College in Calgary, Alberta, Canada in 2005. She has since been in practice as an Herbalist through many avenues including consulting, growing herbs, wildcrafting, and co-creating the Harmonic Arts Botanical Dispensary. She actively adds herbal and health tools to her basket through continual upgrading of her knowledge with a strong focus on Women’s health and wellness. Sharing information that empowers people to live with integrity to their highest potential is a strong calling that fuels her on this path.

Super Tonic Oatmeal!

When interviewed, many of the oldest and healthiest people in the world claim that oatmeal or porridge was a staple food in their diet.  Rolled or chopped Oats, Rye and other grains can have a harmonizing effect on our digestive tract and the ecological balance inside us.  Soothing inflammation, absorbing toxins and scrubbing the colon walls clean on their way through.  The fibre in whole grains helps regulate the delivery of energy to our body, not spiking the blood sugars too quickly. They also relax the nervous tissue of the digestive tract, which increases our absorption of nutrients.  Most importantly, they make a great pre-biotic, which is food for our pro-biotics (Acidophilus & Bifidus cultures).  These pro-biotic cultures act as our initial immune protection from pathogens and help absorb essential vitamins/minerals more effectively.  A strong gut ecology is a precursor to good health and longevity.  It makes us more adaptable to our environment, which is constantly changing.  For these reasons and more porridge is a great addition to the modern lifestyle.  But, why stop at just plain porridge, when we can create our own personalized Super Tonic Oatmeal! We make it either savory or sweet, using the grains as a medium to help our other nutrients absorb better.

Chaga Mushroom

 

Chaga (Inonotus obliquus) Growing from an old wound in a Birch tree

Chaga Mushroom
(Inonotus obliquus)

Where does it come from?
Chaga is a mushroom that mostly grows with the Birch tree, all through the boreal regions of our planet.  It has a symbiotic relationship with Birch, exchanging with living trees in a way that benefits both organisms, rather than a recycler/parasitic relationship, eating a dying or dead trees.  The health of the tree is preserved by the chagas protective attributes and its ability to pull nutrients our of the soil that roots are unable to get at. This all  in exchange for a steady stream of sugars to grow itself on.  Chaga does not make a fruiting body like other mushrooms, rather it forms a sclerotia, which is a large growth with an outer black skin that protrudes from the tree. These sclerotias are slow growing, taking many years to form.  They are typically found where the bark has been compromised or the tree has been wounded.  It is in these growths that we find the medicine this wonderful mushroom has to offer.
Medicinal Uses
Like other medicinal mushrooms, Chaga is a rich source of Beta-Glucans.  Beta-Glucans have a modulating effect on the immune system, helping in both under active and over active systems.  This gives the body a huge advantage when dealing with pathogens and pollutants, as it becomes more adaptable to its environment.  Chaga also has  a number of other gifts that can assist us in healing.  It concentrates betulinic acid from the birch trees.  Betulinic acid is a triterpene that has strong anti-oxidant and anti-tumor effects in the body.  Chaga  generates Superoxide Dismutase (SOD) a potent free-radical scavenger that concentrates in major organs and cells to prevent oxidative damage.  In fact, according to the ORAC scale, Chaga may be the most potent anti-oxidant we have ever found, higher than green tea, chocolate, or any of the berries. The outer black surface of Chaga also has been shown to have potent anti-viral properties, and is currently being used with some success for HIV patients.  It is also helpful in soothing inflamed mucous membranes, particularly those of the throat and intestinal tract when drank as a tea.  All in all, Chaga ranks up there with the top medicinal substances on the planet, and yet it is one of the safest.  Acting as a tonic on the body, Chaga can be taken daily with benefits that increase the longer it is used.  Making Chaga a regular part of your lifestyle can help increase the ability to adapt to that which life throws at you.

Brewing Chaga Tea:
Bring water to a boil, turn heat down and add chaga.
Lightly simmer for 20 minutes to 5 hours, stirring occasionally.
Strain off liquid and serve.
The grounds can be re-brewed or stored in the fridge to brew again later. Up to 20% of its bio-active compounds are released with each brew, so it is a good idea to brew it at east 3-4 times.  As there are anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties to it, often it will keep in a pot on the stove for a good week or more with out going bad.  During the winter months, our family just has a pot going most of the time, adding water as needed.
Taste of the tea
The flavour has been compared to that of a sweet mild coffee with hints of vanilla.  It is very tasty and many start to crave the taste after awhile.  There can be a small amount of bitter to the tea, coming from the anti-viral compounds in the outer black skin, which usually dissipates after the first brew.

Chaga Steam Extracted Powder:

Prepared in a way that makes the Chaga more bio-available. It can be added to food such as oatmeal, hot tea, elixirs, smoothies or soups. The powdered extract also makes an instant tea when added to hot water. It does form some sediment however, which can be filtered out, consumed or re-brewed for a second batch of tea. Any of the Harmonic Arts Mushroom powders can be used in tthese ways.

Categories: Mushrooms, Uncategorized

Super Food Fruit Crumbles

During the fruit season we practically live off superfood fruit crumbles and crisps.  They are incredibly easy and with so much fruit for the picking, we can hardly process it all.  This one is a peach, blackberry, apple.  If its not Fruit season you can always use frozen fruits or whats in season in other countries.  The crust is mostly our frozen almond pulp left over from making nut mylks.  To this we added lightly blended coconut ribbon, tocotrenol rice bran, mesquite, lucuma, vanilla, maca, coconut palm sugar and coconut oil.  Baked for 15-20 min. Yum….  Some we’ve done with Chai spice or pumpkin spice.  Some tropical flavours or roasted nuts.  Some sprouted chia and buckwheat or other seeds and grains as topping.  There is almost no end to what you can do with a fruit crumble.  Get out and find what ever fruit you can in abundance and try a few out this season!

The Medicinal Mushroom Symposium

The Science, Lore and Applications of Medicinal Mushrooms

Saturday July 28th 10-7pm at the John Dutton Theatre, Calgary, AB

David Wolfe, Terry Willard, Blaine Andrusek, Robert Rogers, Malcolm Saunders, Yarrow Willard and more!

This is a special day where we will be journeying deep into the magic, mystery, folklore and science of Medicinal Mushrooms!

Join an eclectic array of world-renown & local experts exploring the kingdom of mushrooms and their unique & amazing medicinal properties.

Perfect for the beginner and advanced students alike, there is something to be learned from every expert on every topic covered.

Featured lectures by:

David Wolfe on the Incredible properties of Chaga – the ‘King of Mushrooms’, don’t miss what will be one of the most detailed and up-to-date lectures ever given on Chaga.

Dr. Terry Willard – Delving into scientific literature, incorporating the folklore, myths, and a little bit of magic, Dr.Willard will explain why mushrooms are some of the oldest and yes, wisest healers known to man. Expect some controversy and some mind-altering ideas.

Blaine Andrusek – Mushrooms Identification & Classification
The Canadian wilderness, city parks, and your own backyard, produce hundreds, even thousands of species of mushrooms. Many field guides are disorganized and poorly illustrated. Proper identification is a must! We will review some basic morphology, learn how to make spore ‘prints’ and view a slide presentation covering some of the more useful families.

Robert Rogers – author of “The Fungal Pharmacy – The Complete Guide to Medicinal Mushrooms & Lichens of North America”

Plus additional Special workshop sessions, exploring step by step approaches on how to:

• Grow a variety of medicinal and culinary mushrooms at home safely, efficiently & inexpensively.

• Custom design and craft your own mushroom medicine tea’s, tincture’s, elixir’s, chocolates & more.

AND special bonus feature on how to:

• Pickle & Ferment Mushrooms!

This will be a unique, enriching & inspirational event – not to be missed.

Lots of fun, gifts, prizes, surprises & activities …like the medicinal mushroom tea tasting booth! – so bring your own mug.

Some food will be available, however bring some snacks and a bagged lunch to make sure you are fully nourished.

To Purchase tickets online visit:

http://medicinalmushroomsymposium.eventbrite.com/

as well as at
the Light Cellar in Calgary, where you can call, email or visit to register

403 453 1343

[email protected]

Categories: Events, Mushrooms

Intro to Superfoods and Superherbs Workshops

Superfoods Superherbs PDF

We are absolutely thrilled to offer two workshops at our store location in Cumberland in the month of April that you don’t want to miss!

Intro to super-foods with special guest Malcolm Sanders from The Light Cellar in Calgary  and Yarrow Willard Cl.H/MH, on Thursday, April 12/12 6:30-9:30pm

Intro to super-herbs with Yarrow Willard Cl.H/MH on Thursday, April 19/12 6:30-9:30pm.

Intro to Super Foods is an informative and entertaining 3 hour intensive, where you will learn about and experience some of the world’s top Superfoods.  We will explore their benefits and nutritional properties, as well as learn how to easily incorporate Superfoods into a variety of simple and delicious recipes.
This class will be packed with tastings and samples. Come experience the energy and health enhancing benefits of Maca, Goji, Cacao, Bee Pollen, Hemp Seeds, Coconut, Chlorella, Chia and more…

Intro to Super Herbs is an Information packed 3 hour intensive, where we will be delving deep into the world of Super herbs. These herbs are plants that have multiple functions in the body, fortifying and enhancing our overall vitality. Through incorporating them into our lifestyle choices we can achieve a state of radiant health. In this class we will sample and blend many Super herbs, learn how to create personalized formulas, and discover some easy ways to use them as part of an overall health strategy. We will be covering herbs like: Ashwaganda, Astragalus, Chaga, Eleuthero, Fo-Ti, Ginseng, Holy Basil, Nettles, Reishi, and more…
These workshops are valued at $50 each, but we will only be charging $30, plus if you take both you will get $10 off. Please register via email at [email protected], call us at 250-400-4044, or drop by the store if you would like to attend. Space is limited as it is an intimate hands on class.

About the Teachers:

Yarrow Willard  is a Clinical/Master herbalist and co-owner of the Vancouver Island based Harmonic Arts Botanical Dispensary. Raised with an understanding of herbs and natural health, he is passionate about incorporating plant medicine in our daily lifestyle. His path and purpose is in creating a healthy relationships with the natural world and sharing . Through products and education, Yarrow hopes to assist our collective evolution towards a high vita cultivating health empowering practices with herbs, mushrooms, super-foods, advanced nutrition and more.

Malcolm Saunders  is an Intuitive Chef who specializes in the Alchemy of Superfoods and Superherbs. He has an expertise and passion for creating, and teaching others how to make many special energizing and healing creations, including raw chocolate, elixirs and fermented foods. Malcolm’s purpose and mission is to raise the individual & collective consciousness about food and nutrition, this is accomplished and carried out through the Light Cellar, a unique specialty super food boutique, raw chocolaterie, and teaching kitchen which he owns and operates in Bowness, Calgary.

There will be more workshops, so keep your eyes and ears open and check our website regularly!

Spring Cleansing in the Green Season

We are getting close to the end of our damp West Coast winter season. Spring brings a renewed source of energy in our selves and the natural world around us, as everything wakes up. This makes it the opportune time to work on our selves and our health for the coming season. Traditionally people would graze on the young shoots and fresh greens available at this time. It so happens that many of these plants stimulate our body, specifically the liver, to shed the accumulation of toxins we’ve built up over the winter.

Guayusa

Harmonic Arts Botanical Dispensary is proud to now offer a loose leaf Guayusa tea that is fair trade and ethically grown in Equador.

Guayusa is a truly balanced stimulant, containing a diverse profile of both energizing and healthful compounds. This natural mix offers benefits for the whole body – an attentive mind, a peaceful body, and an awakened spirit.

Health Benefits of Drinking Guayusa*:

  • Boosts Metabolism
  • Traditionally used to support weight loss programs
  • Aids digestion1
  • Traditionally used to balance blood sugar and support diabetics2
  • Boosts Physical Energy
  • Increased mental clarity and alertness

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

Balanced Energy

Guayusa does contain caffeine – more than other teas but less than coffee. One cup of guayusa offers 90 mg of caffeine. Interestingly, guayusa also contains other stimulants in the same family as caffeine, known as methylxanthine alkaloids. Theophylline is a clarifying and uplifting compound also found in green tea. Theobromine is the stimulant found in dark chocolate that offers that pleasant whole body feeling many are familiar with. Theobromine is known to offer a settled and bodily energy. Guayusa’s unique mix of caffeine, theophylline, and theobromine is what gives the balanced energy effect without any jitters, crash, or jolted buzz.

Packed Full of Nutrients and Antioxidants:

Guayusa contains 50% more antioxidants than green tea and is full of polyphenols, flavonoids, and saponins. These compounds in guayusa offer a range of holistic health benefits from calming the nervous system to cardiovascular health

Some of the many compounds found in guayusa are:

  • Polyphenols: Recent studies in respected US labs have confirmed that 1 cup of guayusa has 30% more polyphenols than a cup of green tea. Scientific studies have confirmed polyphenols’ anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor properties, as well as their ability to boost the immune system and promote a healthy heart.
  • Saponins: Studies have illustrated the beneficial effects on blood cholesterol levels, cancer, bone health, and stimulation of the immune system.
  • Theanine: an amino acid compound that has been studied for its calming effects on the nervous system and for its ability to protect and restore the brain.

All 15 Essential Amino Acids, and relatively high amounts of:

  • Leucine – the most important amino acid for muscle protein synthesis and body building.
  • Important Minerals

  • Potassium

  • Magnesium

  • Calcium

  • Zinc

  • Chromium

  • Key Vitamins:

  • Vitamin D

  • Vitamin C

What are Antioxidants?

Antioxidants are substances that scavenge free radicals — damaging compounds in the body that alter cells, tamper with DNA (genetic material), and even cause cell death. Free radicals occur naturally in the body, but environmental toxins (including ultraviolet rays from the sun, radiation, cigarette smoke, and air pollution) also give rise to these damaging particles. Many scientists believe that free radicals contribute to the aging process as well as the development of a number of health problems, including cancer and heart disease. Antioxidants such as polyphenols in guayusa can neutralize free radicals and may reduce or even help prevent some of the damage they cause.

Traditional Uses

The indigenous Kichwa people say guayusa is so enlivening that before it is offered to a visitor, she is warned that once she drinks it, she will ever after return to the Ecuadorian Jungle. The indigenous communities that have consumed guayusa in the Amazon for thousands of years cite many health benefits of their sacred tea. Many women say that it relieves many symptoms of menopause, and is helpful for the liver and stomach because it calms these organs. Farmers say that it helps sooth and reduce body aches and pains and offers balance and strength to pregnant women. On a spiritual level, the community Rukus (elders) also say that guayusa helps them remember their dreams, protects against insect and snake bites, and spiritually connects them to the forces of nature. The Rukus say that people who drink guayusa have “mental strength and courage,” and that guayusa helps them conquer their fears more easily.

About the plant

Guayusa is one of three caffeinated holly trees that exist in the world, and is a distant cousin of Yerba Maté (ilex paraguariensis). Guayusa leaves have a smooth ribbed edge, similar to the distinctive shape of a holly tree leaf (but without the spikes). Very large in size, guayusa leaves can reach over 15 cm in length (about as long as your hand). Guayusa trees can reach a height of over 50 feet and live to be over 100 years old. They tend to produce lots of small trunks on one bush, and therefore are full of leaves (perfect for harvesting).

While guayusa is endemic to the Upper Amazon regions of Ecuador, Peru, and Colombia, it is estimated that over 98% of the guayusa trees in the world are located in Ecuador.

Interestingly, guayusa does not produce fertile seeds. This unique botanical characteristic demonstrates the intricate role that guayusa has played with human development in the Amazon. Botanists believe that after being propagated asexually for hundreds of years, guayusa lost its ability to produce fertile seeds. Just as we depend on it for a health source of energy, it depends on us to keep growing.

 

Moringa the Miracle tree

tree1downloadHarmonic Arts is proud to offer one of nature’s most nutrient rich and health enhancing superfoods, Moringa Leaf. We offer a freeze dried Organic Moringa  Powder,  cold pressed Moringa Seed Oil  and a Moringa Leaf & Seed Extract .

Moringa oleifera, belonging to the family Moringaceae, is a softwood tree native to the foothills of the Himalayas in India.  It is also called the “Miracle Tree”, because of its exceptional nutrient value and enormous benefits to health and humanity. In India it is grown all over  for its tender pods, leaves and flowers, and is a backyard tree for daily use in millions of homesteads in Southern India. The Moringa plant has had a long history of success according to Ayurveda, for centuries it has been used as a healing plant treating over 300 diseases.

Medicinal Mushroom Mysteries… and more

with Yarrow Willard Cl.H

What are Mushrooms?

Mushrooms are the fruiting body of a mycelium that lives underground. Similar to a flower or an apple on a tree, they contain the reproductive parts of the organism. Mushrooms release spores for reproduction, often from gills or pores on the underside. Many release billions or trillions of spores. A giant puffball for example lets off 20 trillion spores. It has been calculated that if all the spores from one puffball sprouted and reached maturity they would form a mass 3 times the size of our sun. Most Spores are spread by the wind, some are capable of entering the stratosphere and traveling circumpolar, meaning that anywhere there is an optimal environment for them to grow, the potential is there.

According to resent study, there are over 1.5 million species of fungi on earth, there are between14,000 and 22,000 known that produce mushrooms, but this may be less then 10% of the total. As some mushrooms don’t fruit for many years and or until there stressed or in an optimal setting. There is still the potential of finding hundreds of thousands of new species. If only 5% are beneficial for humans, we’re still talking of thousands of potential foods and medicines.

Fungus make up about a quarter of the Biomass of the Planet Earth. They require organic materials to feed on called “substrate”. Considered natures recyclers, they transform dead matter into nutrients that plants and animals can feed on. Without them there would be dead plants and animals laying around everywhere. All the nutrients would be locked up in complex arrangement unable to be reused. (sound like the familiar story that’s coming from our friendly neighborhood plastic?)

How Big and How fast can mushrooms grow?

There growth is all dependent on the right environment. Temperature and accessibility to food are the major factors. Researchers in Michigan reported a fungus (Armillaria Bulbosa) which attaches to the roots of Aspen. It is over 1,500 years old, 35 acres wide and weighs over 100 tons (known as the monster mushroom in Michigan). Using Molecular methods researchers were able to show that it germinated from a single spore. Other very old and large mushroom masses have been reported all around the world. Geologists have found giant petrified pillars that are the remains of some of the first mushrooms that colonize the land, making it inhabitable for the rest of life to happen on. As far as speed of growth, in the right conditions there are mycelium that can travel many miles in one day or generate large clusters of fruiting bodies over night.

How do they Grow?

Mushrooms require a food source or “substrate”. They secrete complex enzymes that break down organic matter in a way that allows the fungi to absorb the nutrients from it. This process frees up many nutrients in the soil which plants then feed on. One type of fungi called mycorrhizae, attach themselves to root systems of plants. Acting as “second roots” traveling deeper into the soil and breaking down dense nutrients that plants aren’t able to. The fungus exchange these with the roots they are bound with for sugars and other nutrient that allow the fungi to grow. Many plants are dependent on this type of fungi and can not survive with out them. They are natures great dis-assemblers, taking the complex chemistry created by life and making it digestible and bio-available once again. Where as Plants and animals are the great assemblers creating complexity out of the simplest of compounds such as carbon, nitrogen, and water.

Some believe that mushrooms ability to break down organic matter in nature is linked to how they work as medicine in the human body. Living in the harshest layer of the ecosystem, amidst decaying matter, they have to work out strategies to deal with disease causing pathogens far more frequently then other life forms. These anti-pathogenic properties that fungi develop as a survival mechanism for protection possibly can give our immune systems valuable tools to work with when facing our own invaders. Many mushrooms have also been shown to have pre-biotic function (food for pro-biotics). Its like they are able to help create good soil for our own gut ecology and health.

Whats the best way to extract the medicine? Why Water and Alcohol?

Most of the polysaccharides including many of the praised beta-glucans in mushrooms are soluble in hot water. The heat helps water to break down the chitin and other wood like substances that hold the chemistry locked in place. It is best to simmering lightly for several hours, up to days as a “decoction” to saturate the water fully. If this is to be kept for an extended length of time, a finished volume of 20-30% alcohol is recommended to preserve it. Any higher then 30% and some of the valuable polysaccharides will fall out of solution.

Many of the triterpenoidal structures and steroial compounds as well as a few of the polysaccharides are better absorbed by alcohol then water. This can be done by macerating the mushrooms in alcohol for two weeks and pressing off the liquid afterward. As different compounds are available in water and alcohol, we use whats called a “dual extraction” method. This way we are ensuring that all the chemistry we are looking for is in our extract. This involves either using two sets of mushrooms and extracting them differently or extracting in one method (hot water) then the other (alcohol). You can even add in a freezing stage to crack open the cells of your decoction.

Although both alcohol and hot water are ideal for increasing the absorb-ability of medicinal mushrooms there are other ways to unlock their chemistry. One Method is steam extraction, which is similar to the action of an espresso machine with high pressure stream, and then dehydrated and used as a powder. Another is bio-fermentation, which breaks down the compound and tough cell walls for increase availability.

Why use Mushroom blends?

A number of researchers have come to the conclusion that using multiple medicinal mushrooms is best for awakening the immune system and natural body defense/co-ordination. Many mushrooms seem to have a unique center of gravity in the body. When combined and supported with the use of other mushrooms the effects often are amplified. The combinations also seem to show better stress response and generate better whole body harmony.

Can Mushrooms help our connection to the earth?

If we take a step back and look at our relationship to the earth and the food we eat, we can see that the industrial world has lost much of its connection to its food source. In our past, the human relationship with food was very different. The plants and animals were seen as a sacred gift from nature/creator. They had spirits and when we consumed them we partook in there spirit as well. We participated in an intimate hands on approach to the food we consumed. Now a days very few people have a strong connection with the origin of there food. We understand it in terms of taste and texture but not as our connection to the earth and its vitality. Without connecting to the earth intimately through the food we eat, it is easy to see how this has lead the modern world to become ungrounded.

Mushrooms being the great disassembler, help us nurture this connection to the earth and its spirit. They give us a beautiful profile of nutrients in arrangements that communicate the importance of oneness within environment and self. Some people have found that consuming medicinal mushrooms helps bring grounding and clarity to their lives. In a way, helping digest their issues into base ingredients, to be viewed without unnecessary reaction. If we are balanced and grounded our connection to our planet is deepened.

Where did it all come from and where is it going?

My belief is that Mushrooms are natures way of controlling climates, creating ecosystems, and building nutrient rich bio-available living beings out of planets. The only requirements that many fungi have are temperature stability and food source. Which in the often symbiotic dance of life, are the byproducts they ultimately create. It has been shown that some mycelium are capable of enduring the hardships of space, this leads us to the conclusion that life could have traveled to earth in the form of a fungi from another place. Whether it was a life filled planet in our solar system, like scientists believe Mars was at one point, or a froze asteroid from a distant star. The likely hood is great that fungi are natures way of spreading life through the universe.

 

Categories: Mushrooms

What are Herbs?

Herbs with Yarrow Willard Cl.H

What are herbs?

Botanically herbs are non-woody flowering plant. Although we consider any plant that is valued for flavor, scent, medicinal, or other qualities to be a herb. Even fungi, pitch, minerals, and animals can be considered herbs to some practices of herbal medicine. Herbs are used in smaller amounts then food as they are more potent and have stronger action in the body.

Culinary Herbs and Spices

Plants that are used in small amounts to add flavor food rather then sustain the body. Many of them contain medicinal compound, often that are useful in the digestion and assimilation of food.

The west coast Reishi Mushroom

The West coast Reishi mushroom The Ganoderma oregonenses is one of the west coasts local Reishi Mushrooms. This video is an interview with an older mushroom, so the red colour is a bit dull. As they are annual, they come to fruit nice and shiny with a white polpypore bottom in September often. The decoction (long steeped or simmered tea) tastes somewhat similar to the cultivated lucidium from asia althouhgh not quite as bitter, leading me to believe that some of the adaptogenic chemical constituents are not in as high volumes as the licudium.  This mushroom lends well to the dual extraction method of hot water decocting and  alcohol tincturing combined to retain both the Branched polysaccharides as well as the triterpenes. The finished liquid should have an alcohol content of no higher the 30%, ensuring the polysaccharides stay in solution and the alcohol is enough to properly preserve it. I haven’t found any wild Ganoderma lucidum (Asian Reishi), but there are lots of Ganoderma applanatums (Artists Conk) and a few of these oregonenses to work with for those that want to kin-ect with some strong Forrest Allies.. .  🙂

Categories: Mushrooms, Video Blog