Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Aralia nudicaulis- Alterative

Aralia nudicaulis: Alterative 
"It can be fairly problematic to get and grasp at a visceral gut heart mind level,  the commonplace antecedent terms from pre WW1 medico-botanical texts not because the green noise of the plants in our bodies as remedios has changed but because an archetypal block has been inserted in the group think of the hybrid technology-bio person to prevent the archetype from activating publicly. We see more and more of this when people gather together these blocking points, or taboo moments that monkey wrench communication..." -Paul Manski
Aralia nudicaulis f. depauperata 
Wild Sarsaparilla Family Araliaceae.  
Aralia nudicaulis spring

    The name Aralia is significant, it comes from the latin word, Aurelia, aureus, meaning golden, gold, referring to the golden roman coin, also refers to someone inherently beautiful with golden hair, blonde, and to most importantly Aurelia Cotta, the mother of Gaius Julius Caesar. Aurelia Cotta gave birth to her son Gaius Julius Caesar in 100BC at age 20. She had two daughters previous to her son, Julia Caesaris Major (older) and Julia Caesaris Minor (younger). Aurelia was quite loyal and devoted by blood to her children, her husband and her son's wife, which was a rare quality in Rome of the time where the state had become supreme, saving her son from execution when he refused to divorce his wife Cinnilla when ordered by Sulla. When Julius went into banishment at Sabina serving in the Roman legion, she took in his young wife Cinnilla and kept her until Sulla died in 78BC and Julius Caesar returned to Rome. 
She also sheltered and cared for Cinnilla’s child Julia after Cinnilla died in childbirth. She died on July 31, 54BC at the age of 74. 
Nudicaulis, nudus- naked, bare unclothed, -caulis, stem of a plant. 
    Aralia nudicaulis like her namesake Aurelia Cotta, the mother of Julius Caesar, is an alterative herb that protects and nurture lungs, where breathing occurs. In the upper chest encased by the ribs, the sparks of life are gathered. Here occurs inspiration both breathing in and the gathering of grace in the breath which is controlled and issued by the father, creator. It's impossible to understand the plants put here by Yaweh for our meat and healing, or the bodily processes from a dominant culture atheist science perspective. Breath is a spiritual gift which is the deepest and most essential portion of life, one can go weeks without food, days without water but only minutes without the source and spark of life, the wind or breath of the Father, which he blew into his children, which nourishes the entire body, just as Aurelia Cotta nourished and protected her son, her son's wife and their child, devotion to one's blood kith and kin is the most important factor in the life of a sovereign autonomous person. In addition her long protection of Cinnilla and her daughter Julia, indicates that this herb nurtures and addresses identity at the most fundamental level,  family, women, children, babies, the uterus, the female which also is indicated in Aralia nudicaulis’ use as a uterine tonic and in childbirth.  
Aralia first flowers
      Aralia nudicaulis has been understood as an alterative herb, and as such in promotes  alterative processes in the body. We’ll explore how this plant presents in the wild and how to approach the old eclectic term alterative in the present.
      Aralia nudicaulus is an acaulescent perennial herb, acaulescent meaning appearing to have no stem, in this case no readily visible woody stem. A perennial herb though deciduous, losing leaves in the winter and sprouting anew in the spring from a short woody below ground vertical root so you can age the plant by pulling back in this case the soft moist, red cedar duff and counting the ridges of the vertical root. Directly horizonal from this woody vertical root portion are long trailing roots abut ¼ in diameter, thin white, pale yellow aromatic, that in turn connect to other plants. From a trailing shallow rhizome network, the soft, fleshy green stems rise each spring, here about 20 inches tall 30-70 cm tall, forming a fairly dense mat of interconnected plants, woody at base where it extends above ground, growing under Thuja plicata, in deep shade, in moist soil on the border of riparian creek. The erect stems put out delicate purplish green, bronze moist and glossy wet looking compound leaves, in 3 leaflets at the tip in early spring, resembling superficially poison ivy, Toxicodendron spp and other plants in the family that cause contact dermatitis. Before the terminal 3 cluster of leaves, there is one pair of opposite leafs towards the stem. The leaves are egg-shaped-oblong, shiny glossy, smooth with a wet moist texture resembling early spikenard leaves in early spring. The leaves are regularly indented slightly saw toothed. The flower is an umbel, greenish white, that will have dark purplish spicy berries that are hidden below the leaves. It flowers late May. The leaves will continue to grow in size, becoming a more dense green vibrant green, loosing their intense wet moist sheen. In the fall winter visiting Aralia patches after frost, you’ll find the leaves have changed to brown and in some stands a deep red. It all starts over again in spring and the circle continues.The rhizomes, berries and stems have a spikenard root beer distinctive aromatic, spicy warm, sweet taste and aroma. The flower is a round umbel, on a separate stalk towards the base of the plant, radial symmetric, the umbel flower is towards the base of the plant and will droop down later in summer. The individual flowers are greenish white with five petals, the aroma is sweet, fruity and spicy. The matured fruits off the umbel flower are deep purple berries. They are not immediately evident when entering an aralia patch, hidden by the larger mid summer leaves.
     Aralia prefers deep shade, stream side gurgling water nearby, putting out trailing rhizomes in loose duff and uncompacted soil. 
     Aralia n. is often described as a northeast forest plant growing from New England into Appalachia, which is true and not true. It’s range is extensive in north America, from the deep south into New England and Canada and heading west, then into the rockies starting in Colorado north and west into eastern Cascadia. 
     The plant has a long history of use and was in the United States Pharmacopeia from 1820-1880. In a US Department of Agriculture Bulletin 102 published in 1907, Aralia nudicaulis is listed as Wild Sarsaparilla and as an eastern woodland plant, after describing the plant it says, “Rabbits are said to be fond of it, whence one of the common names, ‘rabbit root’… it’s use is that of an alterative, stimulant, and diaphoretic, and in this it resembles the official sarsaparilla obtained from tropical America.” The 1830 US Pharmacopeia describes it’s properties as Odour strong and fragrant, taste warm and aromatic. It’s operation as stimulating and diaphretic. 
    Eastern native Americans are supportive of ecletic uses, the Abnaki and Chippewa used it to strengthen the blood, Algonquin for kidney issues, the Cree used it for lung issues, coughs, respiratory colds, Menominee similarly for skin issues, a blood purifier and tonic, and generalized weakness.

Taste: sweet, pungent, aromatic
Energetics: Cool, moist, oily
Actions: tonic, alterative, antisyphilitic, diaphoretic.
      It’s called wild Sarsaparilla although unrelated to true sarsaparilla, Smilex spp growing in the tropics. About the name, sarsaparilla, it’s often pronounced sas-pa-RILLA, combining sassafras and sarsaparilla into one word, from it’s use in root beer tonic herbal drinks, old fashioned home made root beer. Where both roots were used as ingredients when mixing local roots, birch tree syrup, sugar and yeast into a fermented beer. Remembering sassafras, and making gathering it as a child it does awake the fragrance sensory memory pathway, with fragrant scent of dogwood, lilac flowers and carefree summer days hiking the woods with my dog rebel. Rebel an appropriate name as I lived on the Mason Dixon line and it was never a long ways to old Appalachian coal mining towns, the southern drawl and the old battlefields and dreams of a separate autonomous bioregion far from yankee noise. Yet I was a yankee, rebel though my dog, a collie, smelling the fragrant lilacs blooming outside just now, brought to my mind riding in the back of uncle John’s pickup listening to the country music station. Plants do that, they bring us back to our feet on the ground in the precise bioregional moment we need to be.

   Before going into aralia, let’s look at aralia’s namesake sarsaparilla, both as an illustrative concept for the term alterative and in terms of the substitutional herb in early 19thcentury eclectic medicine tradition. The eclectics living at the active interface of the eastern American frontier in an earlier time where communication and transport of herbs from the tropics was an issue and often an impossibility, sought out rough equivalents for their materia medica. The information base for their substitutions were based on plants native to their bioregion, the eastern United states and specifically where they were most active, Ohio, New York, Appalachia and the eastern Midwest which at that time were places like Indiana.  Very little of their material medica was taken from the southwest or much further west of Missouri and the Mississippi river. 
    One plant from the tropics they sought to approximate with a possible native local substitute was Smilax spp. or sarsaprilla. They would seek out herbs with similar therapeutic application and herbal energetics from their eastern hardwood forest bioregion. Often their search was a unique combination of botanical insight from European and British herbalism, and the unique interface of the frontier and the preserved folk knowledge of pioneers many who had lived for upwards of 200 years on the frontier, and living native American traditions of herbal use. Let’s look at what they came up with as a local herb to substitute and approximate Smilax spp.

    Sarsaparilla in the family Smilacaceae, genus Smilax is a brambled woody tropical vine. It’s name zarzaparilla means, zarza- bramble or bush, parra- vine and illa small. The analogous feature in aralia is the long subsurface trailing rhizome root growing under the moist red cedar duff.Smilax grows in Mexico the Honduras and the West indies. It was used for sexual impotence, rheumatism, skin ailments and a general tonic for weakness. It was brought back to Europe by new world traders in the late 1400’s. It was introduced to European herbal medicine in the 1500’s as a remedy for syphilis, gonorrhea, arthritis, fever cough, psoriasis and skin disorders and as a general blood tonic purifier. More recently a 2001 U.S. patent was filed on Smilax for psorisis and respiratory disease. It is used today often with other herbs as a tonic, detoxifying, blood purifying and libido enhancement whole plant herbal medicine.
     As understood by the mid-19thcentury eclectics as a substitute or replacement for Smilax spp., many of the understanding and uses for sarsaprilla and aralia mix and mingle, and co-exist. The other native aralia’s I have been called to visit such as sonoran spikenard, western mountain spikenard, California spikenard and Oplopanax are also understood to have distinctive respiratory uses along with tonic, alterative and blood purifying qualities. As it was taught to me, western herbalists in the southwest tend to understand spikenard and it’s cousin aralia, as a respiratory herb that tends to nourish the lungs in chronic conditions like asthma, COPD and emphysema. Or as part of a respiratory formula with other respiratory herbs and servant herbs, part of an expectorant formula, or as part of an alterative syrup or formula with tonifying herbs- all these uses are legitimate and should be investigated further. They also describe it as stimulating and nourishing to the uterus in the last trimester used together with raspberry and aralia leaf as a tea, or a stronger tincture of Aralia racemosa, and other birth herbs or birthworts as their called during the last stage of delivery after water has broke. So many of us today are creating an us through the green noise we are infusing in our lives. Yet it also has unique properties that the eclectics called alterative.

     I’d like to focus on the term alterative, which is the word that the eclectic physicians used who lived and operated in what was the interface of the American frontier on the east coast until the 1920’s when a fundamental shift occurred in the consciousness of America. It can be fairly problematic to grasp on a visceral gut heart level, the commonplace antecedent terms from pre WW1 medico-botanical texts not because the green noise of the plants in our bodies as remedios has changed but because an archetypal block has been inserted in the group think of the hybrid technology-bio person to prevent the archetype from activating publicly. We see more and more of this when people gather together these blocking points, or taboo moments that monkey wrench communication.  While it would be true to say medicine changed from botanical wild plant derived medicine to drugs and chemical based medicine, synthetic compounds. It’s not that simple. While it's true the people changed, it's also more true, truest to say, the people were changed. It's often approached in dominant culture books that people changed as if going on a voluntary journey in a specific direction, while what happened was the people were abducted, thrown into train cars and when days later they arrived, they were thrown off the train. They found they were in the Siberian gulag. When they turned around, the train was gone. Change? Like called a Uber, getting in the prius and find out you've been kidnapped by the driver, slammed with a mix of MDMA, meth and heroin, thrown out of the Uber, robbed, raped and left for dead in the middle of the dregs of 2020, bruised, beaten, bloody, violated and humiliated. Yes people changed, that change an enormous transformation in the material culture that was propelled by technology and a post WW1 globalism that before was a question, afterwards it became the choiceless choice in the transformation from states and regions to an universal economic zone. 
    What changed was the culture and gestalt of the American people as the automobile, radio, and mass industrialization became a tidal wave post 1913 and spread like terminal cancer culminating in the 1918-1919 spanish flu epidemic which sealed the fate of America. These changes in technology had unimagined consequences, transformed the thinking and beingness of the American people, doctors and physicians included. America went from a rural placed based nation towards an urban, concentrated population in many ways separated from the immediate environment and bioregion. People forget what a transformation in consciousness is the automobile. Just to step into an automobile and travel at superhuman speeds transforms the consciousness. Likewise radio which also emerged as a transformative technology in the 1920’s meant that a person could hear without being physically present in proximity to the speaker. One is no more wrapped in a specific place of watersheds, with family, kith and kin, herbal medicines, creeks, rivers, mountains and a specific bioregional ecology. One is forced to become spaceless, timeless, and distanceless. It's the final shock of knowing that you've been domesticated. That while your grandfather had a wife, a family, you sleep with a current baby mama, little different than your dog who has no free agency or autonomy. Your baby mama's kids are less your children than property of the state. It's their final victory, they've broken you by taking from you the one thing that your resilient ancestral spirit can absolutely not live without, your children on blood and soil. What can a warrior fight for when there is nothing left? Is a question that is set in your mind day and night, that as long as you breath you must answer. Every step you make is to answer that question because if you quit not only do those who came before you die, but those around you too disappear, and those who come after, will come no more. So you answer the question for them before, for those now, and for those to come. You vow never to give in. Never give up. To move ahead joining with whoever will make the the same vow, to live.
     As these technologies morphed from silent movies into talking movies, television and the virtual worlds of the intranets, and portable cellular cordless telephone computers, the immediate place of a person became less and less apparent to where one was located. One became rootless, lost in an indefinite space defined by others. In that sense referring to who you are becomes an exercise in quoting cinema, mass media officially sanctioned mass statism info-stuff gunk. Where and who you are transitions from a descriptive sensorial actualness of being in a particular time and space into a prescriptive techno-constructed vicarious imposed here-and-now. Experience transitions to essentially a non-experience. Experience rather than doing, is done to, for and against you in a micro-agression of violence from without. Reality becomes a political reality of official think and to resist the official political reality is to be shunned for blaspheming the party line. Reality is transitioning more and more into an officially sanctioned experience imposed from without vs a place based sensorial direct experience experienced from within.
     The results are ongoing in this complex social-technological mish mash stunt but one thing is clear, the initial optimism for being nowhere has dwindled as people become both nostalgic and spiritually deprived from a sense of place bound by watersheds, mountains and rivers. 
     Into this dilemma the plants, herbalism and most importantly the language and concepts that informed herbalism, are more and more difficult to grasp given the profound disconnect that defines the person embedded in modernism. The new hybrid techno-bio person whose thought process is controlled by continuous propaganda noise has emerged to populate a vast consumer theater bizarre of cheap foreign throwaway junk. It is precisely this person who needs the alterative medicinal herbs and remedios but is least able to grasp what they are because the capacity for language has been withdrawn from the milieu.
     I can remember studying modern art in art school, how the instructors were forging an independent linear history interspersed with a value based justification for morality, behavior and gestalt. Later I understood that much of this art history cast as a linear teleological approach was a strange jump off into defending the tyranny of a techno-hybrid imposed view of the world. Beginning with the human figure in impressionism, it slowly distorts from a living, breathing person rooted in place to a non-person, rootless and invisible, timeless universal globules of light. Visual art becomes the mind slogans for the deconstruction of the human person. From discipline and technical excellence and skill in drawing and composition to an orgasmic emotional spastic jerking of the paints as abstract expressionism. Likewise music becomes deprived of melody or harmony, tensed into a seizure like industrial artificial soundscape of repetitive rhythmic figures. Modern music is not so much strings, horns or instruments that mimic and call to mind the human voice or the songs of birds, but coarse repetitive electro beats that are computer driven and resemble the sounds of engines, and industrial factories.  The message of art school was always, you can never go back to form, we are being forged ahead, a process has been imposed on us from which we can only choose to not choose, a modern art as a cultural islam, submission the only option. The plants of herbal medicine demand we go back and respect our nature which is alive and based in space and time, the bioregion, the place.
     At the time I was impressed by this argument of deconstruction of the person for inescapable cultural liberation. Now I look at it not as art history but cultural brainwashing for the purpose of creating the cultural milieu for the rootless, non-person. I see the so called art history more as describing the stupidity of Europe at the time morphing into the 30 years brothers war 1915-1945 with the goal of cultural destruction to fuel the universal economic zone of commerce. 
     I mention this because when understanding traditional medicinal plants we need a language. That language is many way lost to modernism.  We need to re-open the language to communicate with each other about the human body, the ecosystem, the bioregion, the herbal remedies as they operate within the human body.    
      I can remember countless classes in herbal medicine where the talk and questions of the students inevitably veered into a medico-mumbo-jumbo, where everyone is some kind of expert doctor quoting lab results, blood work and a literal wall of noise referring to intricate diagnosis and various pharmaceuticals. It was ironic as my paid gig was within the pharmaceutical medico-police state enforcement squad. I had no respect for drugs, diagnosis or lab results. I was disgusted and loathed them. Yet in the face to face classes the talk always got bogged down into inane pharma-medico jibberish. One herbalist I studied with for a year would go up to the point of saying, “Shut up, enough.” It was like students were rehearsing intricate gotcha-questions that they already knew the answers to. Waiting to be recognized for their profound herbal-medico knowledge which was mainly second hand regurgitated emesis hijacked from some herbal internet medico-illuminati-porn site. So enough said, it’s important to re-own and rediscover the words from these eclectic texts while at the same time letting go of a substance based approach. Herbalism, specifically alteratives are about process.
     Getting back to the term alterative, which is how the eclectics understood both Smilax and Aralia nudicaulis. What is an alterative? What does it mean to say a crude whole plant herbal remedio is an alterative? In our western herbalism we use the whole plant, not a partial plant derivative standardized for a specific chemical component. This can be confusing for a layperson as scientific research is funded towards standardized herbal formulations. All the sanctioned communication highways funnel into this box canyon of drugs, pseudo-drugs, or herbs functioning within a dominant culture diagnosis paradigm of drug substance medicine. When people talk or write about herbs it’s often these standardized formulations they are referring to. I often feel that if you want drugs, are into drugs, buy into the pharma-medico-police-surviellence state? Then go to your friendly nurse practictioner, you can even do an online tele-med fiasco scenario, get your prescription, go to the pharmacy, and take your neon orange, glow in the dark blue pills.  For instance Hypericum perforatum, st johns wort, is often promoted as an herbal extract of the plant standardized for 300mg hypericin. This is both confusing and obfuscates conversation, because the whole plant above ground flowering plant, st johns wort is not the same as a standardized product containing 300mg hypericin. So you’ll get all these people talking herbs and really all I hear is dominant culture politics. 
     Probably the person who did more to keep the ecletics and herbal medicine alive was renaissance man herbalist and musical composer, Michael Moore. Through his many years of face to face plant oral tradition teaching at the Southwest Botanical School of Herbal Medicine, herbal manuals and books, videos, keeping an actual herb store going, networking and interacting, he kept alive the tradition of western herbalism into the 2000’s. Sadly he died in 2009 at the age of 68. Yet the legacy of Michael Moore lives on and continues to thrive and grow just as many of the herbal plants as plant-teachers do so in the wild. Many of Michael Moore’s students continue to teach run herb stores and face to face oral tradition schools and continue in both the oral and eclectic tradition. His knowledge was vast and was both about the herbs and plants botanically, historically and deep within the herbal eclectic tradition. 
    Let’s examine how several western herbalists who studied and interacted with Michael Moore and in many ways keep this tradition alive today, understand and define alterative before we go into the alterative nature of Aralia nudicaulis. 
     Michael Moore described alterative in this way, “ A term applied in naturopathic, eclectic and Thomsonian medicines to those plants that stimulate changes of a defensive nature to metabolism and tissue function in the presence of chronic or acute disease. The whole concept of alteratives is based on the premise that disease symptoms in an otherwise healthy individual are actually the external signs of activated internal defenses and, as such should be stimulated and not suppressed.”
   Michael Cottingham stated in field notes regarding this concept, “Most of the time as herbalists we are not curing illness. We are creating movement, change. The eclectics used herbs to create change in a specific direction…with these herbs in some sense we are putting green noise into peoples lives…Plants create a language in the body which is informational and stimulates the body’s internal knowledge of homeostasis.”                                                                                                
     Charles W. Kane, writing in Medicinal Plants of the American Southwest, “Pertaining to the quality or a substance, usually an herbal medicine, that positively alters organs or functions of elimination, detoxification or immunity.” Herbalist Jim McDonald is more specific, “Promote a healthy balanced state of functioning by supporting the liver, kidneys, lymphatic, immune system and adrenals.” Herbalist Rosalee de la Foret, active in herbalism in Cascadia, writes in Herbal Actions and Energetics, “Alterative herbs support specific elimination pathways of the body. Depending on their specific action they may clear a congested liver, encourage urination, support the lungs for increased breath and release of CO2, open the pores in the skin, move the lymphand move the bowels. By creating a clear running river of elimination in our bodies we avoid becoming a stagnant mucky pond. Alterative herbs are often used for damp heat problems such as constipation, eczema, acne, boils, etc…”
     John Slattery from Field notes 2015 while speaking of another plant, referring to alteratives, “It’s a steering guiding force to show you(the body systems) which way to go even if you don’t know where to go.” 
Donna Chesner reiterated this concept in a different context, “Trust your body, trust the plant medicine.”
.     There is common ground in all these definitions of alterative. As we reown the cultural narrative it’s imperative we come to grips with the underlying understanding that informs western herbalism in relation to disease and illness from the mid 19thcentury ecletics through to the present. I would say the basic concept to understand can be reduced to substance vs process. The state of health within the body is a dynamic fluid process of intelligent homeostasis inherent in the person as a continuum between life and death, health and sickness. Herbs are interjection points along that continuum process that potentiate movement, change. The key to understanding and using alteratives is not that there are alterative herbs per se as substance, but that when using herbs skillfully they facilitate alterative restorative processes in the body.  
     The alterative nature of Aralia nudicaulis as a cornerstone alterative is going to be slightly different for each person using it depending on the present moment constitutional needs of the person. Yet it is fair to generalize the actions of aralia for a kind of alterative cultural framework.
     The nature and presentation of aralia nudicaulis as a wild plant within the ecosystem environment gives a lot of clues as to how it works. It’s roots are fundamentally different that Araila racemosa, spikenard. Spikenard has what I would call stationary static monolithic roots that are large and bulbous. The roots of spikenard don’t walk. If you dig up a single spikenard root it can weigh 4 or more pounds. Aralia n. has what herbalist's call, in technical terms, walking roots. Aralia's walking roots move throughout the unique shady red cedar stream side, gathering and sharing information similar to mercury or hermes in astrology, a communicator and facilitator , like a gate-keeper among all the plant persons in the community. This mercurian quality as a green noise in the body communicates with various body organs and systems to develop a consensus of homeostasis with different competing body systems.  Aralia nudicaulis roots remind me of aspen, on a much smaller scale where the upright tree aspen Populus tremuloides sprouts into a tree based on a interconnected clonal root system, each tree expression although looking like an individual is genetically identical. While living in southern Utah, on the Arizona strip we would go up to Navajo lake to fish for trout. The forest there presents on a black jagged lava bed stretching for 30-40 miles. Sitting in the aspen groves with their disappearing creeks and lava tubes, and visiting the lower edge ponderosa pine remnant islands with sweet yellow roses, always felt like you were visiting a place from times long gone. It also felt like the pine forests and aspen stands were hanging on thread due the deepening, long term, generational, ongoing drought. In this environment on the Fishlake forest, in the ancient lava fields is the Pando clone, it is a clonal colony of an individual male quaking aspen, a single organism stretching over a hundred acres weighing 14 million pounds, aged at over 80,000 years old. After visiting many aspen groves you can trace the clonal body boundary especially in the spring or fall, by the timing of when the leaves emerge in spring and the subtle color differences in the fall. 
      The same holds true for Aralia nudicaulis stands, both in how the spring leaves emerge, their coloring and pattern of compound leaves and how different stands appear in the fall, how they change color, whether it’s a maple leaf red or a yellow red brown. The roots of Aralia are like pathways in the lymph or circulatory system, the thin long pencil thin, flexible roots can be 10 or 15 feet long and are illustrative of a collaborative consensus approach between bodily systems. 
    The Aralia tribe of plants is in the ginseng family and contain ginsenosides, panaxosides, and similar compounds. They facilitate the functioning of the emotional centers of the person as the limbic system that decides how one feels. Often feeling is approached solely as a perception of outside conditions when it is also the conditioned repetitive habitual response to minute moment to moment states in the body.  Feeling can often thus get bogged down into the patterned, locked reaction to stressors rather perceiving the actual stressor. Avoidance becomes an internal self defense policy. Both perceived social micro-aggressions and dumps by significant others in a relationship, and stress from low level bacterial, or microbial infections can place one in an overcompensating mode of sympathetic dominant stress mode that when prolonged can drain the adrenal system resulting in cortisol and stress induced hormonal imbalance for both male and females. Often this sludging of feeling transforms into bodily states that manifest as chronic conditions with a distinctive feeling tone. 

      The hypothalamus of the limbic system controls the pituitary access which like muscle memory in the muscular skeletal system can creep into habitual patterns of response, so that adequate rest and restoration is not achieved. Similar to another plant growing nearby in the same family, Oplopanax combined with Aralia can further deepen the alterative restorative action creating a reserve in the adrenals that are frequently depleted in extended states of sympathetic dominance brought on by unresolved low volume background noise and chronic low level fear. 
     I consider one of the building blocks of stress to be fear, uncertainty of where one is in space, exacerbated by the technology of modern life which effectively removes consciousness from the body. The idea of spending a universal dollar bill any where the space machine auto-car may travel is an interesting concept, based on conquered spaceless terrain which can produce a low level micro-aggression of anxiety. Human beings need to be in place informed by the watersheds, mountains and specificness of a particular fundamentally limited, defined place to experience the relaxation response. The human body is defined by the in and out breath of relaxation and excitement, loosening and tightening. Stress is the fixed tightening guarded habitual response of being on guard against the fundamentally unfamiliar that defines the terrarium living environment of modern living. Alterative Aralia is a starting point of departure with its tendril invisible roots transversing the terrain, as such a gathering herbal plant medicine energy transferable to the body as intrinsic information of balance and harmony to the adrenals, the lungs, the blood sugar metabolic system of the pancreas as an alterative tonic.
     The aralias make a good point of departure for developing an alterative formula that in time can become your own and one you can share with others in their journey towards dynamic balance. 

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Slattery, John. Herbal apprentice Field notes, and personal communication 2015 Taylor, Leslie. The Healing Power of Rainforest Herbs, 2005
Wood, Matthew. The Earthwise Herbal: a Complete Guide to New World Medicinal Plants, North Atlantic Books
Wang, Jennifer, Qiuzhu Li, Gerald Ivanochko, and Yaoge Huang. “Anticancer Effect of Extracts from a North American Medicinal Plant – Wild Sarsaparilla.” Anticancer Research 26 (2006) 2157 – 2164. Print. 

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Collinsia parviflora

Collinsia parviflora, small-flowered blue-eyed Mary (maiden blue eyed Mary)
Collinsia parviflora

Plantaginaceae Family, plantain family, Penstemon Tribe (tribe Cheloneae: Plantaginaceae) (Mare's-tail family)
(Previously in Scrophulariaceae)
Collinsia parviflora
Annual herb with tap root, stems erect pinkish red, 25 cm, 12 inches tall, minutely hairy, lower leaves egg-spoon shaped, upper leaves opposite, oblong linear lanceolate about 1 inch long.
Collinsia parviflora

The flowers are penstemon like, opening to a terminal spike like raceme cluster, two upper lobes are white, with 3 lower lobes bright blue to purple.
Collinsia parviflora

    Collinsia parviflora has a wide range throughout North America through Cascadia south to Arizona and New Mexico. Like many penstemon tribe it has a soothing demulcent, cooling quality to skin and mucous membranes. Here it was growing at 3500 ft in flower in full sun, in a wet boggy meadow Stevens county, Washington.
Collinsia parviflora

Friday, May 22, 2020

Yaweh, Dogen, Walking Mountains, Creeks of flowing Water

Yaweh, Dogen: Walking Mountains and Creeks of Flowing Water
(Part 1: Walking Mountains, Creeks of Flowing Water
  - Paul Manski)
"Late May Cascadia
kinnikinnick, violets, blooming
waxing crescent moon
in sidereal Taurus as evening star
conjunction sun and aldebaran 
at sunset rain turned to sleety snow
along smackout creek
walking mountains 
creeks of flowing water
yarrow and northern poleo waking up now"
(Opening by Paul Manski)
Walking Mountains

Mountains and creeks of flowing water right now are the essential things of ancient mountains. They are precious things of the everlasting hills. Each, mountain and creek, is itself complete. We should not be afraid to question like Sarah who laughed within herself, saying, 'After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my master being old also?', many things are possible with creeks and mountains. 
         Because mountains and creeks have been created since before Elohim created Adam, the blushing red person, they like us are alive at this moment. They have been perfectly made since before the earth was without form. As such they are redeemed mountain and creek persons. A mountain or creek does not become less a mountain or creek or change in any way, because we fail to see the mountain or creek. They exist beyond our seeingness like Yaweh, like Yahshuah the Messiah. 

        It was the same with Dogen’s seeing in Sutra of Mountains and waters. Because mountains are high and creeks are low, Yaweh made mountains and creeks gathering places and pathways, so they are exalted. In the same way the 14 meridians of our body flow, so do mountains and creeks flow with alder, poleo, sarsaprilla, yarrow, and black cottonwood, with sticky buds and sweet, spicy, bitter balsam leaf. This way Yaweh commanded by clouds from above, and the opened doors of heaven is always reached in mountains; Just as northern poleo Mentha Canadensis is true to type and does not adulerate or mix pollen so mountain and creeks remain true to type, giving birth to mountains and creeks by the seed covenant. By the inconceivable power of his knowledge the depths are broken up, and the clouds drop down dew. This dew nourishes all within the mountains. We see mountains walking in this way. It shouldn't be surprising if suddenly there comes a sound from heaven freely from the mountains as of a rushing mighty wind, and it fills all freely residing in within the mountains and creeks. Or if like Sarah we have pleasure in knowing walking mountains and creeks of flowing water. For the pleasure of knowing and fearing Yaweh is within, inherent in creation.

       We know in the fourth watch of the night YAHUSHUA , the Messiah went unto them, walking on the sea. The limits of created things like water are fluid like our hearts in knowingness. Didn't the children of Israel walk upon dry land in the midst of the sea;? and weren't the waters walls unto them on their right hand, and on their left? 
      So the mountains and creeks of flowing water are like walls on our left and right, pathways flowing, cleared. Within our heart and body there is this same flowingness, The same breath Yaweh breathed into the dust creating Adam, the blushing person, is still the breath that animates mountains and creeks of flowing water. Many insights are had in these pristine mountains and creeks of flowing water. So too, the range of the mountains is his pasture, and he searcheth after every green thing therein. Because he searcheth he knows the inner essential quality of every green thing and makes it known to us. What we are knowing is this essential searching. These stone mountains you see in front of your face are always walking; Jacob took a stone, and set it up for a pillar. So you will find stones and pillars in these mountains all around you. And this stone, which I have set for a pillar, shall be Elohim's house: and of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee. So when we enter the mountains and creeks of flowing water we enter Elohim’s house, the same as our own house with ears, eyes, fingers, tongue and toes. This is the house of walking mountains and flowing creeks. Elohim with abundance gave him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written. The name is the understanding behind words. You should be alert for pillars, stones and the name he has written for you while in the province of mountains and flowing creeks.

     Mountains do not lack the nature Yaweh has given mountains. They are in and of in themselves. Mountains and creeks of flowing water are predestined to encounter those entering. The nature he has given mountains and flowing creeks of water is not lost or gained, neither is your own as it is in whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will. So we are worked by his counsel informing us all the goings on in creeks and mountain. In that way we enter easily. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of Yaweh that giveth to men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. Therefore it is said, I have surely built thee an house to dwell in, a settled place for thee to abide in for ever. The house Yaweh built to dwell in, is here as mountains and creeks. This house is the eco-logy, the earth self study house. 

       You should examine in detail this quality of Yahushua walking on water, or a blind man, when he looked up, and said, ‘I see men as trees, walking.’ Mountains' walking is like human walking, because all things are moving. The Spirit of Elohim moved upon the face of the waters. Accordingly, it makes no sense to doubt mountains' walking even though it does not look the same as human walking. Yaweh sendest forth His spirit, they are created: and thou renewest the face of the earth. The ancestor's Elohim's words point to walking, which is movement. We say yes to this movement, For by Him, and in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring. As his offspring are likewise mountains and flowing creeks of water. This is covenant understanding. You should break open these words within mountains and creeks of flowing water and understand their movements are our own and understand accordingly.

May 22, 2020 waxing crescent moon, setting at sunset as an evening star in conjunction with the sun and Aldebaran in sidereal Taurus.
(Part 1: Walking Mountains, Creeks of Flowing Water 
- Paul Manski)

Monday, May 18, 2020

Heuchera cylindrica

Heuchera cylindrica,
Heuchera cylindrica

 Cascadia alum root, roundleaf alumroot,  poker heuchera, Family: Saxifragaceae. Occurs east of the Cascades, north to BC and south into Cali.
Heuchera cylindrica

          A clump forming perennial, it's basal leaves are leathery, slightly hairy, round to oval shaped with toothed and scalloped margins, with more or less 5 lobes. The flower rises up about 24 inches, on a thin stock with a cluster of pale yellow creamy white buddy blossoms at the very tip.
     Roundleaf alum root likes rocky, talus slopes, sheltered from the wind in the cleft of rocks.
Heuchera cylindrica

    The alum roots, Heuchera tribe are known for their pink color and high astringent tannins. As a high astringent root plant, it's at the upper end of internal use, nonetheless, like oak bark, it tightens tissue, internally can be used stop diarrhea.
Heuchera cylindrica
     Externally a hemostatic, it stops bleeding and a liquid tea when cooled can be mixed with 1 teaspoon salt to 1 quart water for an isotonic wound wash, a gargle for sore throat and similar to white ratany of the southwest can be used as an ingredient in a mouth rinse for inflamed gums and gingivitis.
Heuchera cylindrica
      A poultice of the mashed crushed roots can be used to quiet the itchiness of bug and mosquitoe bites or skin rashes. The root can be while fresh, cut into very thin slices, then cut and diced, into the smallest pieces possible, then dried, then with mortar and pestle, or small coffee grinder, ground into a powder for future use. The roots, if left whole become rock hard and unusable. The powdered root can either be applied directly to skin, mixed with water to make a paste, for sun burn, itchy bug bites, or contact dermatitis like poison ivy.
       Similar to its namesake, it has mordant qualities so that a fiber is boiled first with alum root before being dipped, to set the color of fabric.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Arnica, Arnica cordifolia

Early Arnica, Arnica cordifolia

Drying Arnica flowers

     Heart leaf arnica, Arnica cordifolia, Asteracea family, heart-leaf leopardbane. Arnica grows widely in Cascadia and in the western US, middle to high elevation, with ray disc flowers, ours here is always a single flower with the opposite leaves at the base of the flower a distinctive identifying feature, also called twin leaf Arnica.
     I have seen it thriving in open sun, cedar shaded boggy hide aways, in high alpine meadows,and all in between. In general it is a mountain plant, though highly adaptable..  For our purposes here nearly all the Arnicas have similar medicinal qualities. It frequently hybridizes with other arnicas developing a distinct localism.
New paired Arnica leafs
      It can be recognized by the typical Asteracea ray disc flowers, a bright egg yolk, mustard yellow, sunny color. It can found from Arizona, New Mexico northwards into southern Cascadia, through to British Columbia and Alaska. They are the only genus of yellow-rayed composite, with opposite twin leafs at the base of the flower stalk. There is also a distinctive smell when you crush the leaf or flower head. The lowest basal leaves are heart shaped with a deep notch, other arnica’s usually lack these heart shaped notched leaves. Heart leafed arnica is one of the most widespread arnicas.

      Independently European and native Americans described the medicinal qualities of arnica in much the same ways. As a kind of topical pain reliever for bruises, sore muscles, acne, sore throats, aching teeth, and interestingly as a kind of love potion, having used it for this purpose, you rub the above ground portion on a would-be, unsuspecting lover you are wishing to woo. The love potion action works although like the sunny yellow arnica flowers, you may lose your wooed lady queen when the snow flies.
     As a topical balm, either oil or tincture it is used for tendonitis, carpal tunnel, plantar fasciitis, impact trauma with bruising and soft tissue damage. It also can be used for DOMS, delayed onset muscular soreness common with athletes and weekend warriors. 
Visiting a recent young Arnica patch
     Applied externally externally it can aid stimulation of white blood cells and facilitate the movement of trapped fluid outward away from the injury site. So in that sense it could be understood as having anti-inflammatory properties.. It acts on different  pathways than let’s say NSAIDS. One of the active constituents is helenalin, 11α,13-dihydrohelenalin, chamissonolid, and their ester derivatives.. Helenalin is a sesquiterpene lactone and other compounds in arnica reduce inflammation by inhibiting the transcription factor, nuclear kB(NF-kB) The factor NF-κB controls the transcription of many genes, including cytokines such as interleukin (IL)-1, IL-2, IL-6, IL-8, and tumor necrosis factor α, as well as adhesion molecules such as intercellular adhesion molecule 1, vascular cellular adhesion molecule 1, and endothelial leukocyte adhesion molecule 1.
Visiting a recent young Arnica patch
     The anti-inflammatory and pain relief works also by being a vasodilator of subcutaneous blood capillaries, which can promote transport of blood and fluid to facilitate healing.
     Known as shan-jin-che in TCM, traditional Chines medicine, it’s considered salty, sweet and cooling. It can tonify Qi, tonify yin and yang, stop pain and dispel internal phlegm. TCM approaches disease, discomfort and bodily states via actual symptoms displayed rather than a rigid framework that attempts to put the person into a framework. The actual signs and symptoms becomes the framework. In healthy persons yin and yang are in balance. Ilness occurs when there is an inequlity between the forces. When the Qi is flowing interactively it flows through 14 major meridians. When the qi becomes blocked or stagnant, illness manifests with particular symptoms. It is Sweet, salty and cool. 

     Well known in our herbalism as both an oil and tincture for muscular and deep tissue distress. Arnica has european cousins that informed our resilient ancestral spirit. anti-inflammatory, bactericidal, antineuralgic, antirheumatic, antiseptic, counterirritant, without the hotness of cayenne and wound-healing effects. 

Generally used on unbroken intact skin for muscular impact trauma with bruising, bruised skin, strains, sprains, aches, pains, sore muscles from overexertion, insect bites, joint pain from rheumatism, and swelling from fractures...think dislocated ankle, tired chronic lower back pain and stiffness, arthritic fingers and such, with soreness, bruising and with or without swelling. Used both with acute injury and chronic osteopathic pain of damaged joints. The Leaves, flowers, and flowerbuds are used although in european tradition the root used, it is unnecessary to use the root as the active principles are present in above ground plant. 

The oil is made by partial drying of the flower buds, open flowers and leaf, then lightly adding an ounce or so of alcohol or last years tincture, thoroughly mixing, allowing to dry. You may also use pharmaceutical grade ammonia available at mixed martial art or boxing supply houses in the the same way as alcohol to release and make available active plant constituents to the topical oil medium. Use the oil that works best, avocado, ghee, almond, argan, a neutral cold extracted light cooling oil also works well, if possible use a neutral scented oil, although olive oil works fine and is part of the tradition of Father Yaweh, Yahoshua the Messiah. Leviticus 8:10
And Moses took the anointing oil, and anointed the tabernacle and all that was therein, and sanctified them.”

Tincturing is FPT 1:2, or dried 1:5. 

The same truths and principles that hold true in the Madrean sky islands of the southwest also hold true in Cascadia bioregion, although the low is not as low. Spring and summer change on walking mountains as Eihei Dogen so often stated. The lower indults of Eastern Cascadia at 1200-1500 along the Columbia drainage have an early springun. So that Arnica while known as a midsummer July bloomer, comes early in the shady indults draining into Columbiana. 

At full moon in sidereal Virgo, doing Cascadia stuff in the in, the Arnica patch, sitting with the Arnicas, amazing day blooming early, watching A cordifolia getting ready to springun, wild harvesting Smallhead Arnica today Arnica gracilis, Aster family (Asteraceae), Arnica is an amazing topical both oil and tincture. While picking Arnica getting lots of positive warming, hot, peppery deep chi energy from Oplopanax horridus, our amazing Aralia Cascadia bioregional indicator. Telling us we're here, past snowmelt grateful to father Yaweh for this day, watching the moonrise in sidereal Virgo. Psalm 67:2-3 "That Yaweh's way may be known upon earth, thy saving health among all Jacob-Israel. 3Let us praise thee, O Elohim; let all Jacob-Israel praise thee." Jacob-Israel praise thee."

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.....heart leaf arnica, Asteracea hear-leaf leopardbane, well known in our herbalism as both an oil and tincture for muscular and deep tissue distress. Arnica has european cousins that informed our resilient ancestral spirit. anti-inflammatory, bactericidal, antineuralgic, antirheumatic, antiseptic, counterirritant, without the hotness of cayenne and wound-healing effects.