Friday, December 9, 2011

Natural and Herbal Remedies for Coughing - Excerpt from Herbs Gone Wild! Ancient Remedies Turned Loose

In honor of the cold and flu season, combined with the usual beautiful spirit of giving surrounding December, I thought it would be nice to offer up this excerpt on Natural and Herbal Remedies for Coughing from my eBook Herbs Gone Wild! Ancient Remedies Turned Loose.  If you happen to have Amazon Prime, you can snag this little dandy for free! Enjoy, and I wish you the best in getting over that nasty bug.

Natural and Herbal Remedies for Coughing

A single teaspoon of honey is just as effective as the average over-the-counter cough syrup, as proven by recent studies.  And it doesn’t contain synthetic alcohols, artificial colors and flavors, or nasty things that make kids buy and sell it on street corners.  The best part?  You get to take it as often as you feel like it.

You can also try your hand at making some homemade cough syrups.  They’re fun to make, and some of them don’t taste awful.  Some do.  I'll leave it up to you to decide which is which.

Homemade Natural Cherry Cough Syrup
2 cups cherries (organic is best)
2 cups honey
a lemon
Put the cherries in a pan and just cover them with water.  Add the honey and some lemon slices – at least half the lemon.  Simmer carefully until the cherries are completely soft and you’re able to remove the pits.  Also remove the lemon.  Place the mixture into a jar and store it in the refrigerator. You can use several tablespoons whenever you need it.

A little hint here:  Since cherries are available in summertime and colds and coughing are available through fall and winter, you can actually freeze this and other liquefied herbal remedies in ice cubes to thaw out for later use.  I do it all the time.  It’s fun to send guests to the freezer for ice, then watch them jump when they notice the cubes are varying shades of green and brown. 

Diane’s Homemade Cough Syrup
1 cup purified water
1 tsp. dried ground ginger or 1/2-inch peeled, finely chopped ginger
1/2 tsp. dried licorice root (Glycyrrhiza glabra)
1/2 tsp. dried horehound (Marrubium)
1/2 cup honey
A dash or two cayenne pepper
Take water in a saucepan and add dried ground ginger or fresh ginger.  Heat water to a low simmer.  Simmer until the water is reduced to half, then turn off the heat.  Add dried licorice root and dried horehound to a tea ball and steep in the ginger tea, covered, for 20 to 30 minutes.  (If you like, leave the ginger root in the pan for strong ginger flavor.  It's more soothing to a sore throat and cough when the ginger is on the stronger side.)  Remove the tea ball and strain out the ginger.  If the tea has cooled, return to the pan and heat it up just a little.  Turn the heat off and add honey and stir until totally dissolved.  Add cayenne, as much as you can stand. Wait for the mixture to cool and store in an amber bottle or jar with a tight-fitting lid.  Keep refrigerated or freeze.  Good for a week in the fridge.  This works great for congested lungs.

Natural and Herbal Remedies for Coughing is an excerpt from Herbs Gone Wild! Ancient Remedies Turned Loose, available for sale through Amazon, or FREE for Amazon Prime members.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

How a Happy-Mom Herb Saved the Day

At the tender age of 14, I was dragged relentlessly into the woods and lost there by my own parents.  Well, alright.  I went willingly, with my younger sister, my mom, and my dad, all in the name of a relaxing walk in the woods.  What we didn't know was how long we'd be there, or that we'd eventually run out of mozzarella sticks.

For as long as I can remember, my parents took us for these walks.  We'd unwittingly follow shoddily marked trails, never thinking to drop bread crumbs or tie colored string on trees as we went, and for the most part, our lack of planning worked just fine.  It never occurred to us that we might just lose our way someday.  After all, wasn't the forest our friend?

These walks were a great joy to me, even into my teen years when my parents mysteriously lost their edge of cool.  In the woods, no one could see me actually laugh at my dad's jokes, and my friends would never know I was listening to what my mother had to say, and enjoying it.  I didn't have to roll my eyes (much), and the blue jays were not impressed with my sarcasm.  Even my little sister became my best friend once again, and not just that little rat who stole my curling iron and used the last of the Aqua Net.  No, instead we had fun being the kids we still were deep down, running up and down hills, picking up colored leaves and shrieking over large bugs.  My mom would pack the usual mozzarella, meat sticks, and fruit so we'd have something to enjoy under a big tree somewhere about halfway.

That day in particular, we stopped at what we thought was halfway, enjoyed all our food and most of the water, then pressed on.  After the third pass around an eerily familiar downed tree, we started questioning my dad's leadings.  "Don't worry.  I was a boy scout."  That mantra was funny.  The first 12 times.  After about two hours of wandering, hungry and refusing to pee behind a tree, it'd definitely lost its luster.  My dad's boy scout membership should be revoked.

We eventually found our way out, I'm sure completely by mistake.  And despite our hunger and thirst, we still found it in us to pose for some hilarious family photos of my mother comforting her distraught daughters, my father wearing a confused and slightly dopey expression while shrugging his shoulders in hopelessness.

Fast forward 20 years.  I'm in the woods with my husband and my two-year-old son, taking a walk through the beautiful forests of Northern Michigan.  A very well-marked trail took us through some truly stunning scenery - pines, oak, sand dunes with vistas of Lake Michigan, wide open fields of wildflowers.  I couldn't help myself.  I stopped to pick some St. John's-wort, calling to me in all its sunshiny beauty.  We'd packed snacks and water, but the snacks eventually wore out.  I started munching on the St. John's leaves, enjoying the mild citrus flavor that tasted like the sunshine itself.  Everything seemed perfect.  Until we got lost.

We didn't have a baby carrier, no way to strap our child to ourselves, aside from two arms each.  So taking turns carting him (my husband got the bulk of this one), we followed the trail's markings around and around, certain we were so very close to our parked car.  Our unsuspecting child bobbed happily in our arms, enjoying the scenery and drinking most of our water supply.

Normally, I'm a terrible worrier.  But despite flashbacks to that day in the woods with my family so long ago, and despite our lack of food and the fact that we were lost with a two-year-old, I felt inexplicably... calm.  

The bag of St. John's-wort swung at my side, continuing to offering its many tiny leaves as a woodland snack.  I got lost in the beauty of the sun sparkling through the leaves on the trees, the crunch of the earth beneath my feet, and the endless variety of plants, trees, and animals that seemed to be waiting for us at every turn.  I wanted to run up and down hills, pick up colored leaves, and shriek at big bugs.  And sometimes I did.  Being lost was becoming way too much fun.

The long walk finally ended when we accidentally found our way to the parking lot.  We rubbed our aching feet, drank the last few swallows of warm water, and headed out of the park for food.  On the way out, we told a park ranger that we'd suspected a missing path marker.  Indeed, the very last of the arrows was missing, and we'd been passing the parking lot again and again, unknowingly.  But it was one glorious day, one more family adventure I'll never forget, filled with memories of a child napping in our arms, sunlight shimmering through the leaves, and one half-empty bag of St. John's-wort.

My new eBook, "Herbs Gone Wild! Ancient Remedies Turned Loose" is available for only 99 cents on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

George Clooney, Lady Gaga, and Paula Abdul Walk into a Bar...

George Clooney, Lady Gaga, and Paula Abdul walk into a bar.  Sitting down, they strike up a conversation with the bartender who admits to being a budding herbalist.

"You know," he says, "it's my solemn belief that everyone can benefit from herbs.  In fact, I bet I could pick out the perfect herb for each of you, and that little botanical would improve your life."

Intrigued by the offer, George slams down his whiskey tumbler.  "By golly, I'm in!  I'm all for a bit of friendly experimentation.  Why, just the other day, I was telling one of the Cohen brothers if there's one thing this world needs more of, it's plants." says George. "What'll it be for me?  Hawthorne?  Astralagus?  A bit of pipsissewa, perhaps?"

The bartender thinks for a moment.  "George, you could use something to relax your mind.  After a long day on the set, your brain is steeped in witty banter and images of clever yet subtle facial expressions.  I think a bit of kava in the evenings would be an excellent way to help you quiet that cranium."

The bartender prepares George a tea of kava, and 20 minutes later George is seated cross-legged in the corner humming "Ohmmmmm....."

Lady Gaga grabs the bartender's wrist and says, "What about me?  You know, Tony Bennett says I'm going to be as big as Elvis.  That's an awful lot of pressure, and I think I could use some of that kava stuff too."

The bartender leans in and studies her face.  "I think what you need, missy," he says, "is some of my rosebud salve for your complexion.  All that stage makeup is going to take a toll, and I think I see a hint of contact dermatitis about the orbital region."

"What makeup?  This is my natural glow!" says Gaga, subconsciously touching the corner of a large black star painted around her left eye.

The bartender reaches under the bar and brings out a beautiful tin and sets it before her.  "Made it myself.  Even painted the hummingbirds on the container."

Lady Gaga takes a whiff of its decadent fragrance and disappears into a booth in the corner to apply the salve, carefully studying her reflection in one of her mirrored boots.

Paula Abdul, however, is more focused on nervously flicking peanut shells across the bar, seeing if she can hit a distant bottle of Bubblegum Schnapps.  Without a word, the bartender takes a small leather bag filled with dried herbs and pushes it across the bar.  She stares at it a moment, then takes the bag and walks out the door.

A month later, Paula walks into the bar a transformed woman.  She stands before the bartender and says, "I feel better than I have since 1989. The paparazzi have stopped hounding me. I gave a live interview last week and didn't close my eyes or lay my head on the table once.  So I just have to know; what did you give me?"

The bartender looks around to make sure none of the patrons are listening.  "Paula, I have to admit to you that I have no idea what those herbs are.  They were given to me by an old herbalist who refused to tell me his name.  But I can tell you this: I took those same herbs just last year, and it's totally changed my life.  Just look at me.  I've got my own fine establishment in which I serve quality beverages; I'm studying herbalism and human anatomy;  and just yesterday I finished writing a 50-page essay on the life and times of Rudyard Kipling, just for kicks."

"That's amazing!" said Paula.

"Yes," said the bartender, "and to think only last year I was Ozzy Ozbourne."

     Now only 99¢ on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

"Herbs Gone Wild! Ancient Remedies Turned Loose" is Now Available

"Herbs Gone Wild! Ancient Remedies Turned Loose" is now available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble for an amazing 99 cents!  My new eBook offers home remedies for everything from colds and flu to lowering blood pressure and relieving migraines, all with the use of some pretty simple herbs.  This is the perfect book for families interested in natural alternatives to costly over-the-counter medications.  Herbs are inexpensive, sometimes even free.  In fact, some of the world's most helpful herbs are probably growing right out your back door.  Perhaps you call them weeds.  But after reading "Herbs Gone Wild" you'll call them health savers.

Check out "Herbs Gone Wild! Ancient Remedies Turned Loose" today, while it's still 99 cents!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Diane's Blogs

An Uncommon Thread - Tried, Tested, and True Fashion with a Conscience

dkMommy Spot - Natural Family Living through Herbalism, Education, and Eco-Friendly Products

Laughing Owl Reviews - Kids' Books, Media, and Educational Toy Reviews.  Because Learning Should be Fun.