Saturday, January 26, 2008

Cranberries for Health and Taste

If you haven’t already, read my short news article in “The Herb Companion” this month; “Cranberry Juice Soothes Stomachs.” Cranberries, as well as other fruits including blueberries, bilberry, black currant and chokeberry contain polyphenol compounds known as proanthocyanidins. These proanthocyanidins are beneficial flavonoids that help maintain collagen and elastin; important proteins found in skin. They are also anti-stick agents for bacteria. This property has previously been documented as being responsible for inhibiting urinary tract infections and has now been found to inhibit stomach infections due to Helicobacter pylori bacteria.

Before a bacterial infection can occur, the bacterial cells must adhere or stick to the epithelial surface of the urinary tract. Bacteria are able to do this through a specific molecule on its cell wall called adhesin. These molecules bind to a specific receptor on the surface of the epithelial cell of the body which is usually a type of carbohydrate. Once bound to this mucosal surface, replication of the bacteria begins and the infection grows. By interfering with that interaction, infection can be greatly reduced.

Treating urinary infections early while they are still in the lower urinary tract is important because they tend to move up the urinary tract towards the kidney. Obviously a kidney infection is much worse than an infection in the urethra. So, if you get those first tell tale signs of an infection in the urethra, such as itching or slight pain on urination start drinking cranberry juice immediately to prevent its movement up the urinary tract. Oftentimes the success of herbal or food medicine is in getting to it right away.
However, if there are signs that the infection is worsening; cloudy urine, back, side or groin pain, fever, urine retention or frequent urination with pain, seek medical help for antibiotic treatment as kidney infection are serious.

Here is my Mom’s cranberry relish recipe that she made every Thanksgiving and Christmas and now I make (but do continue to have cranberry relish after the Holidays!).

1 orange, grated whole
¾ cup sugar
½ cup water
3 cups fresh cranberries
½ tsp fresh ground nutmeg
½ tsp cinnamon
2-3 whole cloves

Put everything in a pan and boil, lower heat and simmer for 5 minutes. If you want a thicker relish, simmer longer to decrease water. Cool and refrigerate for flavors to mix.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Purple Mountains Majesty (Above the Fruited Plain)

I want to share with you the magnificent site that I see everyday from my yard and my windows; a source of strength and power for me. I live on the Great Plains just before the mountains rise, surrounded by farm and ranch land. The mountains you see here are Long’s Peak and Mount Meeker together called the Twin Peaks. They are some of the tallest mountains in Colorado making them strong symbols for orientation. Although Native Americans probably used Long’s peak to collect eagle feathers, the first recorded ascent of Longs Peak was by John Wesley Powell in 1868.

Looking at these majestic mountains everyday feeds my spirit and gives me inspiration. I find it important to have a landscape that I feel connected with and is a constant reminder of what is sacred. These mountains were once the home of the Ute Tribe who found their guardian spirit there. Many Native Americans found that these highest of places were also spiritually powerful, so much so that they could pose a danger to those who are not shamans. These mountains were used for vision quests many years ago.

Many Mountain views in Colorado are in endangered by development. Landscape in this state in the form of mountain views, prairie grasslands and agriculture are important to tourists and residents as well, making conservation an important issue.

Two important conservation programs are being used in my area. The county itself owns 24,000 acres that it preserves for farm and ranch land. Private farmers and ranchers can lease this land out for agricultural purposes. The property across the street from me is 160 acres of county owned land leased by my neighbor to grow alfalfa. Another program is

Conservation easements by which land owner can receive a tax benefit by setting aside a portion of their land for conservation purposes that include agriculture, wildlife habitat or scenic open space. A significant piece of land behind my property is set aside for this purpose. It is our hope that these programs will serve their purpose and preserve Colorado landscapes.

Here is an article from the Economist about how land is being preserved in Colorado:

Here is an article about mountains of Rocky Mountain National Park:

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Use of My Christmas Tree

The Holidays are over and the tree is now setting on the patio and the decorations are almost all boxed up. I will be using the tree for a number of things. The branches will be cut off and some of them will be put around my rosemary plant. I have done this for the past several years and have been lucky enough to have my rosemary survive the past several cold winters. This rosemary, however, was just transplanted here this summer from our previous house and it has already been quite cold here so I hope its not too late. Some of the branches will also go around the roses. I’ve already taken some of the pine needles and some of the smallest branches to put in a jar with alcohol to make a tincture. Although I typically make tinctures for medicinal purposes I haven’t done much in the way of making tinctures for aromatic purposes. I got this idea from Anya at Anya’s Garden ( and hope to try tincturing a few other aromatics this winter including orange peel. Most of the remaining branches and needles will become snacks for my two angora goats. I gave them some of the branches that we trimmed off to get the tree into the base and they really seemed to enjoy eating them so I’m sure they will be happy about it. The main trunk of the Christmas tree will be cut into firewood to be used in summer campfires.

Thanks to everyone who has stopped by to say hi from Marie’s site. I appreciate the encouragement! Although I have many ideas in my head about what to write, finding the time to sit down and do it is not always easy, especially when I learn about all the other fun blogs to read!


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