I’ve been perusing the latest addition to my collection of plant books – “Medicinal Plants, Trees, & Shrubs of Appalachia” by Bill Church, a local community member, friend and columnist for Two-Lane Livin’ Magazine. Even though I knew Bill just released this second edition, I was able to find a used copy on Amazon that arrived just like new. (The link to the Amazon listing is available at the end of this article.)
Bill has been studying herbal medicine since 1999. He has spent hours in the field, and his massive anthology includes descriptions for 105 medicinal plants with color photographs included. But then there’s even more.
I’ve noted that I collect books on gardening, herbs, plants and their uses in crafts, diet and medicine. Bill’s book is of the same quality as most in my collection, but is unique in the way that his book originated as his own personal field manual, not as a creation for public use. It’s the difference between “in theory” and “in practice.” A good field guide is created in the field, not the office – and this book was Bill’s personal field guide. Only at the urging of friends did he first self publish, and then recently release this glossy second edition of Medicinal Plants, Trees & Shrubs of Appalachia (from here on to be referred to as MPTSA).
Each plant description includes the typical information available in medicinal plant books; description, when to harvest, where typically found. But Bill’s book also includes medicinal dosages, dye colors, nutritional uses and other information for each plant, and includes a page with each plant listing for notes of your own from the field or in your own research.
There are two great features of Bill’s book that make it stand out from the others: The cross referencing and the appendix information.
THE CROSS REFERENCING:
The main thing that makes Bill’s book more valuable than the others on the shelf (besides that I actually know the author) is the way the book has been cross referenced. The contents list the plants in alphabetical order within sections including: plants, trees/shrubs/vines, annuals, biennials, perennials. Most plant books list plants in alphabetical order, but not categorized in such a manner. This helps with plant identification, but doesn’t necessarily help you match an herb to an ailment without perusing the whole book seeking the right remedy.
But on page 106, MPTSA includes a second alphabetical reference – physical symptoms of ailments in alphabetical order — and the herbs used to treat those ailments. This makes this book doubly handy. It makes it easy to research from the plant world to the ailment, AND from the ailment to the proper plant. This is the first time I have ever encountered a medicinal plant book that makes both processes so easy.
In fact, there’s actually a third way to reference the information in the book — keep reading below:
The Ailment List mentioned above is not the only gem available in the Appendix. Information following the collection of plant descriptions includes:
- Weights and Measures
- Dosage calculation rules
- How to gather and dry herbs
- Types of herbal preparations
- Plant and herbal terms
- Plant parts, types and arrangements
- A Flowering calendar (what plants bloom in which months)
- An herb gathering calendar (what herb to collect each month and what part of the plant to harvest)
The flowering calendar and herb gathering calendar are two things I have never yet encountered in my plant identification books – and both are reflections of the fact that MPTSA was created in the field. Most books list that information within each individual plant description, but the reader (we) are expected to learn and remember that information and process it into our own calendars and routines.
With these two calendars, the information is readily available for each month, and Bill has created another cross reference option for the book. You can search by plant name, by ailment, or by month for harvest. If you use MPTSA as intended, as a field guide, then the list of what you should be gathering is with you no matter when you are in the woods. No one has to rely on memory. MPTSA includes all the information you need, no matter what phase of the wildcrafting process you are in – in the field, in the kitchen, in the craft room, in the medicine cabinet, in the garden.
Had I gotten this book ten years ago, I wouldn’t have needed many of the other books I have in my collection. It’s possible I may even clean some of them out now.
Bill is a great guy – and he has created a fabulous guide to finding, identifying, harvesting, growing and using the plants that surround us in rural Appalachia. “Medicinal Plants, Trees & Shrubs of Appalachia” has the information of many books – presented with referencing keys to use whatever information you have on hand to lead you to what you need to know. It’s a must-have reference for herbalists, preppers, survivalists and homesteaders in the region.
For three years in a row, the blue birds have attempted to raise a family at the top of one of our porch fence posts. I say attempted, because the sparrows will not allow it.
The blue birds get to the point where they have the nest built, eggs laid, or even young born — and the sparrows attack. One year, I attempted to help guard the nest, but I could not be as diligent as the sparrows. Another year, I collected the young tossed ruthlessly out of the nest, and hung them in a basket nearby. The sparrow threw them out of the basket as well.
It’s traumatic. There’s a lot of chirping and squawking and commotion. Violence is violence – even if only the size of a sparrow. It’s a sad and terrible experience I share with them every year. It upsets me.
The blue birds try raise a family on our porch every year and every year, lose the battle.
Well, not this year.
This year I remembered ahead of time, and bought a “sparrow-proof blue bird house.”
I’m going to fill the space where the blue birds usually build their nest at the top of the post, and I’m going to mount the bird house right next to that spot. Hopefully, the blue birds will take to it, and hopefully the sparrow-proofing works.
I’ll keep you updated as spring progresses.
It’s hard for me to believe I haven’t been smoking now for four months. To be honest, until I discovered the nicotine vaporizer, I had resigned to smoking the rest of my what I knew would be shorter life.
I didn’t go to the vaporizer store (an RV in Spencer) to quit smoking. I went to try something to at least help me cut down. I never imagined that I would set my cigarettes aside permanently, immediately. But I did.
I am quite aware that there are those who feel it’s a cheat. “You’re still addicted to nicotine,” they say, and it’s true. “You should just have quit cold turkey,” they say.
Some people just want to cut you down. Some people just don’t want to recognize any improvement.
But it is an improvement.
Long time smokers know about phlegm. It’s a part of the smoker’s life. But three days after I switched to my vaporizer, I didn’t have to go through the morning cough and hack routine. Within a few weeks, that routine was all but gone from my life.
Within a week, my sense of smell came back full force – and I began to realize just how much smokers smell like smoke.
Mid-winter, I realized Daisy was packing on the weight, and we started daily walks again. Usually, by the time we reach the end of the far field, I’m out of breath. But when we got there this fall, I was fine – and we kept right on going. Daisy seemed surprised to find we weren’t turning back as usual.
Apparently, each person has an ejuice flavor that works for them. Mine is Mocha Hazelnut, although I also use Burley Tobacco. Frank likes the Brandy, Whiskey and the tobacco. I once met a man who said only the chocolate/peanut butter worked for him, while another man struggled adapting to the vaporizer until he found the Turkish Tobacco flavor. Others like fruit flavors, or candy flavors. You have to find your own.
I read today that more than 700,000 U.S. smokers have reported switching to nicotine vaporizers. I often think if Daddy had the chance with a vaporizer, he might still be with us.
But no. Even though vaporizers have been around for years, their import into the United States was banned for years. Even now – all vaporizers are made in China, but the e-juice used in them is available from American sources.
If you’ve tried to quit smoking, or not… If you’ve tried e-cigarettes, gum, or other devices that didn’t help…. If you like smoking, but would like a healthier habit…. Try the vaporizer. It’s the way to quit smoking that smokers love.
You can purchase vaporizers and all kinds of flavors locally at Nimblefingers in Spencer (the RV in SavALot parking lot), and supplies and a few flavors are available at Talliesduck in Normantown. You can also purchase supplies on Amazon. I’ve provided a link to the vaporizers like we use below.
I got my nicotine vaporizer (like the one above) in early November. Frank got his about a month later. Immediately, we both quit purchasing cigarettes (for me) and snuff (for him.)
It’s been three months now, and we still have not purchased any tobacco products. We both use our vaporizers on a regular basis; I use mine perhaps a bit more regularly than Frank, but I was a smoker and he rubbed snuff. The original habit was different.
When we first started, we were tempted to try different flavors, but it wasn’t long until we settled on favorites. We both use the Burley tobacco. Frank will rotate this with Brandy and Whiskey, while I switch between the Burley and Mocha Hazelnut or Caramel Cream.
After about six weeks, we started making our own nicotine juice, which cut down a lot of running to town and money. We make our flavors and store them in glass bottles, and use eye droppers to fill our vaporizers, which we call our “puffers.” We are more able, this way, to control the nicotine level in the juice we use, diluting it over time to wean ourselves slowly from the nicotine itself.
We are more than thrilled with the vaporizer process, and are happy to have tobacco gone from our lives. No dirty ash trays, smoky clothes and furniture, no spit cups, no morning cough. It really has made a difference in our lives.
However, it is challenging to find quality hardware. While nicotine juice and flavorings are available from the United States, France and other locations, vaporizers themselves are all made in China. Knock-offs are rampant. Leaking cartomizers, fried batteries – are common. But even with the regular upkeeps, maintenance and replacements – vaporizers are still cheaper than smoking a carton of brand name cigarettes a week, and the health benefits are immeasurable.
For some folks, the e-cigarettes (as those presented on the right of this page) are enough to kick the tobacco habit. But for many, the nicotine vaporizer is the magical key to quitting.
If you’ve ever even considered quitting cigarettes, I encourage you to try a nicotine vaporizer. For us, it’s been life-changing.
Over the past ten years, as I have learned more about natural remedies and homeopathic alternatives, I have come to depend on a few - what I call – my first aid basics. One of the things I always keep around the house is activated charcoal. It was one of the first natural healing treatments I was introduced to, and one that I have kept handy ever since.
I get activated charcoal in the powdered form, but you can also purchase it in capsules. The capsules keep the process of dealing with it much cleaner, and taking oral doses is more pleasant. However, I use activated charcoal for other than oral treatments, so the powdered form is my preference.
What is it?
“Activated charcoal” is similar to common charcoal, but is made especially for use as a medicine. To make activated charcoal, manufacturers heat common charcoal in in a way that causes the charcoal to develop lots of internal spaces or “pores.” These pores help activated charcoal “trap” chemicals. Activated charcoal is 100% alkaline and is spinning with electrons making the substance highly electrical. Also called carbon, its negative ionic charge attracts positive ionic charges (of toxins and poisons) causing them to bind to it.
What’s it good for?
The main use for activated charcoal in our house is for digestive issues. Gas, bloating, diarrhea, stomach bugs, the flu, food poisoning, you name it. Activated charcoal absorbs toxins in your body as it passes though your system. It’s a great detoxifier. I have a friend who takes a tablespoon a week, just for good measure.
Frank and I use it most for stomach issues. Seems now that we’ve taken most processed foods out of our diets at home, we too often regret when we dine out. Although it may seem unpleasant to swallow a spoonful of black powder – the relief is certainly worth it.
Charcoal can also be used to help in cases where poison has been ingested. Add a teaspoon of activated charcoal to a small glass of water, stir it well, and have the person who ingested the poison to drink the glass full. DO NOT USE WITH THE FOLLOWING: cyanide, mineral acids, caustic alkalies, alcohol, or boric acid.
Activated charcoal will also absorb infection in cuts and wounds. Pour a little of the powder into a cotton cloth or paper towel, and bandage the bundle over the wound. I’ve used this method on several pet wounds.
Today doctors and medical centers use activated charcoal to: eliminate toxic by-products that cause anemia in cancer patients; disinfect and deodorize wounds; filter toxins from the blood in liver and kidney diseases; to treat poisonings and overdoses; to treat some forms of dysentery and diarrhea; to treat poisonous snake, spider and insect bites.
Mushroom poisoning, bee stings, poison ivy reactions, and many other illnesses can be helped with activated charcoal.
NOTE: Ingested charcoal may adsorb and inactivate other medications.
Although it’s rather messy, I use activated charcoal to whiten my teeth on occasion. It’s slightly gritty, and its absorbent nature pulls some stains out of the teeth. No chemical teeth whitening solution or product on the market comes close to the whitening and brightening action and power of activated charcoal.
All you have to do is put a little toothpaste on your toothbrush, then dip it in the charcoal, add just a little bit of water, and begin to brush. Your mouth will be black, and your sink may get messy, but your teeth will get a good cleansing and a good shining.
Charcoal can be used much like baking soda for absorbing odors. In fact, you can use charcoal briquettes for deodorizing large spaces. For a large room, fill baskets or brown grocery bags with charcoal briquettes to absorb dampness and odors.
In sanitary places, use activated charcoal wrapped in a paper towel or in a small open bowl. Just be sure not to spill it.
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If you just keep the activated charcoal around the house, you’ll find yourself using it more and more. Any time you think “tummy trouble” you’ll think of it, for sure.
I’m confident any natural health food store will have activated charcoal in the capsule or powdered form. Personally, I’m an online shopper, and I get my powdered form of activated charcoal at Amazon.com. Here’s the link if you wish to check it out: