Spring Forward with a Healthy Liver
“Spring is the season when the life forces awaken again. The sap begins to flow; the plants begin their life cycle; the streams and rivers are gushing. In our bodies, too, our life flow awakens with force." -Rosemary Gladstar It's finally SPRING and the forsythia are blooming, the cottonwood buds are oozing, and all of us are longing for the sunshine on our faces and the delicious scent of life blooming all around us. Normally this week we would be indulging in, or recovering from, Treefort Music Fest. But since the event has been rescheduled (Sept 22-26), we are focusing our energy on the botanical goodness of this season. We've been exploring and celebrating the local Western botanicals (some call them "weeds") that are a mainstay of spring in this area (Nettles, Chickweed, Violets, and soon, Morels!). And last month we had the honor of welcoming to our monthly Rosemary Gladstar class the Five Element Chinese medicine perspective of our colleague Dr. Sarita Cox, ND, LAc. Dr. Cox spoke about the significance of this season in our health and well-being. The rapid period of growth, vision, and re-organization is evidenced and symbolized by the element of Wood. Think bamboo peeking up through the snow. "The flexibility of bamboo allows for it to flex and grow in all directions without becoming damaged. Spring is the season for this growth to begin - for the buds of the trees to come out, for the bamboo to ‘spring’ forward. The element of wood contains the virtues of flexibility, growth, vision, and the assurance that comes with a plan for the future." See This Spring Support Your Liver and Gallbladder with Chinese Medicine. Chinese Medicine also considers spring to be the time of peak Liver & Gallbladder energy time. A sluggish, stagnant, or deficient liver can't keep up with the stimulation of spring, and can exacerbate health conditions and lead to skin conditions, allergies, headaches, and more. You can provide a daily kick to your liver and digestive processes with bitters! We have a plethora of delicious herbal bitters for mocktails or use directly on the tongue 15-minutes before meals. Other naturopathic tools for liver, lymph, and digestive support are: Dry Skin Brushing Castor Oil Packs (check out this video on how to use the castor oil pack!) (Real) Root Beer Liver Tonic Bitters
Be sure to keep an eye out for some new upcoming tea blend collaborations from our lovely shop stewards, Erika and Lindsay, and Betsy Hinze of @misswondersmith! Tune in next month for the reveal!
Visit a Practitioner at Vervain
In addition to Vervain's well-curated retail space, we also have two locations for on-site holistic health care! Practitioners are currently offering naturopathic medicine, Rolfing, cranial-sacral therapy, reiki, and holistic skincare! Learn more about our practitioners and book an appointment here! If you're a practitioner that wants to be more involved with Vervain, please get in touch! We have many entry points - from using our apothecary for custom blends, teaching classes, meeting with patients/clients, and more! Here is our "For Practitioners" resource page.
Herb of the Month: Chickweed!
"Chickweed is a star in the herb world. It's one of the best little weeds you can have in your garden." -Rosemary Gladstar What is chickweed? Chances are you've seen this "weed" more than once and perhaps not even realized what a delicious food and powerful healing remedy it is! Native to Europe, chickweed is now one of the most common weeds in the world. Chickweed Uses & Benefits Chickweed is high in saponins, which are soap-like constituents that act as an antimicrobial within the plant. In humans, these saponins have many beneficial functions, including regulating blood sugar, supporting a healthy microbiome, and modulating inflammation. It's cooling and moistening, so is excellent for hot issues, such as irritated eyes, dry coughs, an inflamed lymph system, and skin conditions that are red, irritated and itchy. Additionally, chickweed makes an excellent nutrient-dense food! Salty in flavor, it contains beta-carotene, calcium, fiber, iron, magnesium, niacin, phosphorus, potassium, vitamin C, and zinc. This is a wonderful food to add to your diet, especially after fall and winter when we've typically been eating heavier foods. Chickweed can be prepared in every way imaginable! Enjoy it as a cream, food, oil, salve, succus (juice), tincture and vinegar. Identification & Harvesting This herb prefers cool weather and moist, relatively shady spots, although it's possible to be found in sunnier locations as well. It's often associated with early spring (hello!), but can also be found during the fall and winter in some places. One of its distinguishing characteristics is a line of fine hairs running down the side of the stem and changing sides at each node (the part of the stem where the leaves are connected). The leaves are bright green and ovate with smooth edges and pointed tips, and are in opposite pairs along the stem. The flowers are reminiscent of stars that are 2 to 5 millimeters in diameter, and have white cleft petals. The color of the anthers ranges from yellow to green, brown, red, and purple. Egg-shaped fruits contain several tiny reddish-brown seeds. Harvest the leaves, stems, and flowers of chickweed when the plants are young and tender. It may be harvested while flowering, but avoid harvesting if it's gone to seed, as it'll be tough and fibrous. Be sure to leave several leaves and flowers behind in order to allow it to go to seed and continue to reproduce! It's recommended to use scissors to snip the top portions of the plant, as the stems can be difficult to break and you risk pulling out the roots. Wild Herb and Green Garlic Soup 4 tbsp butter 2 cups chopped green garlic (3-4, including the bulbs and green tops) or 4 cloves cured garlic 2 cups chopped potatoes, in 1/2-inch cubes (leave the skin on) 1 cup chopped onion (about 1 medium onion) Salt and freshly ground black pepper 2 cups chicken stock, vegetable stock, or water 2 cups whole milk, heavy cream, or a combination (sub dairy free milk) 6-8 ounces wild herbs, chopped (about 6-8 packed cups) *see note Crème fraîche or sour cream, for garnish (optional) 1. Melt the butter in a soup pot over low heat. Add the garlic, potatoes, and onion, and sauté, stirring often, until the potatoes have begun to soften at the edges, about 10 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. 2. Add the stock and milk. Increase the heat to medium, bring just to a simmer, then reduce the heat and simmer until the potatoes are soft, 10 to15 minutes. Add the greens and boil gently, uncovered, until the greens are just tender, but still have their vibrant green color, 3 to 5 minutes. 3. Remove from the heat. Purée with an immersion blender or in a blender. (Always be careful when puréeing hot liquids in a blender. Never fill the container more than one-third full to avoid the risk of the lid blowing off). Serve hot, garnished with crème fraîche or sour cream. Yield: 4 servings *Wild herb suggestions: Chickweed, nettle, garlic mustard, lamb's quarters, dandelion greens, wild sorrel, mallow, violet, and watercress This recipe is from The Herbalist's Kitchen, available in the apothecary. Bonus Recipe! Chickweed Salve If you'd like to learn more about springtime foraging, check out these great resources:
HerbMentor Radio: Wild Greens & Spring Remedies with Rosemary Gladstar
Join Us for Class! Our class schedule is filling back up! Check out our calendar and register online. If you're interested in leading a conversation or teaching a class, you can find our application form on the same page! Up next:
Wednesday, April 14 from 5:30-6:30pm (online): The NMD Is In with Dr. Nicole Pierce, NMD: Hippocrates was right! "All Disease Begins in the Gut"
Third Saturday of every month: Rosemary Gladstar's The Science & Art of Herbalism - ask about our 10-month series or drop-in classes!
Saturday, May 1 from 2:00-3:30pm (in person): Herbs for Kids with Anne Anderson. $15 + free child with adult admission!
The Vervain Collective apothecary is open Monday 9-7, Tues-Sat 11-7, and Sun 11-5! Our online store is open 24/7, and delivery, shipping, and curbside pickup are available! We can’t wait to see you!