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Eating Out


Before shopping there was gathering

There was actually a time when going out to get something for dinner did not entail making reservations at a restaurant or shopping.


Southern California has always been a haven of good weather, and the good life. The Native Americans (Kumeyaay) in San Diego wanted for nothing before outsiders arrived. With an ideal climate, they cared for the land and in turn the land provided a bounty of crops, game, and medicine.

Traditional food sources such as acorns and pine seeds were smashed and ground into meal using a stone tool. Acorns were a staple food source of the traditional Kumeyaay diet. Oak trees were rarely cut down because they grew this important food source.

With little to no thought given to the hardship of survival, the Kumeyaay were able to turn their thoughts to ways to improve their life. Although our stereotype of “Indians” was that they were savages, this was a world of astronomers… horticulturists… healers… scientists… and storytellers….

And so it may be today for those who know how and what to gather. And so it will be when (the scientists assure us it is when, not if) the fragile distribution of goods gets disrupted by a flood, earthquake or other natural or man-made disaster.

When the stored food in the earthquake kit goes, who you gonna call?

It might be prudent to know a little something about gathering. Learning the local edible plants is the easiest way to know your way around gathering. There are a number of excellent references on edible wild plants, some with line drawings and photographs. There are plant samples at the Natural History Museum.

The SD Reader lists nature hikes that happen around the County. Some of the parks have Nature Centers with hikes and information on plants. It’s a good idea to check out plants at different seasons so we can recognize them when they’re bare and withered.

But even if you don’t know hemlock from fennel, a screening process can help. I wouldn’t gather in landscaped areas unless there was something there I knew for sure like natal plum (yum). Some of the best gathering of food plants such as watercress, yellow dock, wild celery and plantain will be found around water (look for sycamores, they grow around water).

Something that looks like salad fixings warrants a little taste. Hardly anything will harm if only a small amount is eaten.

Self-Heal School Herb Walks

School Herb Walks

John Finch has been leading herb identification walks in San Diego for more than thirty years.

Even toxic plants can be safe in small amounts

Participants sample herbs such as Conium maculatum (so-called poison hemlock). It’s a narcotic poison. Below that dosage level it’s just a narcotic.

If that doesn’t seem like salad, the Toxicodendron diversilobum (so-called poison oak) may. The natives would chew on a wad of leaves and apply to snake bites to draw the toxins out.

They fashioned the stems into baskets. Eating a bit seems to make one insensitive to the rather uncomfortable reaction to it. The young leaves taste pretty good but get more astringent as they mature.

Taste test

If these greens don’t appeal there are some very good tasting and nutritious plants, and a number that will taste better when a few meals are missed.

The taste of a plant can reveal a lot about its nature. The more active principles in plants (alkaloids and glycosides) generally taste bitter. Some poisons taste kind of musty, like old gym socks. If the taste isn’t too bad, I eat a small amount and wait a few hours to see what happens.

Detecting toxicity in plants

The progression of toxic reaction normally starts with nausea, then progresses to dizziness, convulsions, loss of consciousness, and finally death. So if a little doesn’t harm, I try a bit more. Trying only one plant at a time establishes its potential for gathering.

It becomes a matter of what we eat, not if  we eat

The Kumeyaay didn’t farm, they gathered. Some of the good food plants to be discovered are mallow, mustard greens, stinging nettle (steam them first), wild horseradish greens and seed pods, wild celery, thistle stems, wild oats, rose hips, acorns, piñon nuts, mesquite beans, cactus pads and fruit, and berries of manzanita, toyon, and elder.

We also have salt bush and pepper grass if you want to get fancy. Even the ice plant along the freeways can be eaten, although we generally try to stay away from auto pollutants near a roadway.

Some delicacies from the Old World

When Europeans settled here, they brought their favorite food and medicine plants.

fennel root and leaves
fennel root and leaves

Considered an invasive alien, Fennel thrives in our climate and can be found all over the county. The root bulb and leaves are also sold in health food stores.

sour grass
sour grass –  Bermuda sorrel

Spring heralds the sour grass season. Brought to the New World on little wooden ships, Bermuda sorrel was a favored pot herb before the popularity of its fancy cousin, French Sorrel, drove it to obscurity. Spring also brings some delicate gathering plants like miner’s lettuce and chickweed.

yellow dock
yellow dock

Yellow dock leaves are actually higher in Vitamin C than oranges and higher in Vitamin A than carrots. And greens are generally higher in protein than roast beef! Per calorie, that is. They are high nutrient density foods, super foods.

The menu reads, “a savory blending of Native American and European flavors”…, and eating out takes on a whole new meaning….

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DMSO – My Experience With Its Benefits

eye drops

It’s Funny How Some Things Resonate At Different Times In Our Lives

As a health educator, I’ve been hearing about the benefits of DMSO from students and associates for thirty years. In 2014 my son slammed into a tree snow boarding, and injured his finger, causing inflammation and pain.

For most of us this would be a minor inconvenience. But he’s a professional guitar player, and he couldn’t play or teach. A friend advised him to apply DMSO.

Not knowing about it, he called me to see if that would be safe and effective. I told him that the limited research I’d done on it indicated that it was natural, safe, and effective. I always like to confirm the latest info on things, so I checked it out more thoroughly.

What I found was a total validation of what I’d informed my son of, and more.

I started discussing it in classes to determine if any of my students had personal experience with it. One student said he’d been using it for years in his massage practice, and traded with me for a bottle.

DMSO (Dimethyl sulfoxide) Is A Natural Organic Compound In The Sulfur Cycle Of Plants

It is produced from a by-product of papermaking. Lignin is a fiber in wood pulp that must be removed, allowing the wood fibers to be managed into flat paper. This provides an abundance of inexpensive Lignin for producing DMSO. It is marketed as a clear liquid with some very interesting properties.

The list of literally hundreds of conditions DMSO has prevented, relieved or cured is long indeed. It has been described by nearly everyone who has used it in the past sixty years as a true medical miracle.


DMSO Applications 

I have personal experience with DMSO for a variety of ailments:

I applied it to someone with leg sores that had not responded in months to the meds his dermatologist had given him. The application of 60% DMSO and 40% aloe vera gel cleared up the condition in a week.

I applied it to someone with facial dandruff that had not responded to treatment and it totally controlled the condition. Application to the scalp has also been used to stimulate hair growth of many individuals.

In a case of toe fungus, application of DMSO cleared up the condition in a few days. It has been used to successfully treat fungal and other infections of the skin ranging from athletes’ foot to acne. In fact, one student with severe pocking of the facial skin due to acne cleared up her face in about a week with it.


I applied DMSO directly in the eyes of someone with blepharitis, an inflammatory condition of the oil glands of the eyes that creates an affliction known as dry eyes, which is generally considered chronic.

This condition was cleared up in a few days after struggling with it for two years. I had found that doctors have been treating eye conditions such as retinitis pigmentosa (macular degeneration) with 40%  DMSO for forty years, in some cases improving vision from 20/200 to 20/100 in two weeks, and even to 20/50 after some time.

I was inspired to incorporate some in a balm I’ve been making and marketing for 25 years for soft tissue injuries, arthritis and pain. The response was overwhelmingly positive, so I increased the amount and got even better feedback. Then I realized that DMSO, being a great solvent, would more effectively carry the healing properties of the herbs I’d been using in the balm into the body.


I hurt my knee playing basketball and applied the balm with DMSO (and the herbs extracted in DMSO). The pain and inflammation have subsided and I can work out again without problem. And the testimonials from others validate its effectiveness for soft tissue injuries. In fact, it has been used for more than fifty years on race horses and more recently on Olympic athletes.

In 2007 the US FDA granted “fast track” designation on clinical studies of DMSO’s use in reducing brain tissue swelling following traumatic brain injury, no doubt prompted by the controversy about head trauma to football players and boxers, as well as  40,000 veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan that have been diagnosed with traumatic brain injury they received in combat. Many more veterans may be suffering without diagnosis or treatment, experts say.

{071201-N-6463B-543} -- Baltimore, MD. (Dec. 1, 2007) -- CAPTION Navy Quarter Back Troy Gross gets sacked by a blitzing Army defender at the 108th annual Army vs. Navy football game at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, MD. The Navy defeated the Black Knights of Army with a score of 38-3. The Navy Midshipmen have now won the past six Army Navy battles. The 8-4 Midshipmen have accepted an invitation to play in the Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego, Ca on Dec. 20th. SLUG LINE U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW/AW) Herbert D. Banks Jr. (RELEASED)

You can now order our all natural Self-Heal Balm with DMSO and enjoy fast-acting natural pain relief and repair.

Self-Heal Balm

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Herbs In Medicine

DCF 1.0

People Have Used Herbs In Medicine For Thousands Of Years, And This Tradition Continues Today In 80% Of The World

Herbs are also used for their cosmetic and culinary properties.

Before 1750 most people lived on farms in small villages. The land provided food and material needs. If someone had a pain they brewed a tea of wintergreen, willow or birch, whichever grew nearby. More serious concerns were brought to the attention of the local medicine person, or simpler.

By the early 1800′s improvements in glass-making gave the microscope a clear image for the first time. By focusing on wintergreen it was now possible to identify and isolate the acid responsible for its pain relieving properties. An isolate of salicylic acid was extracted from the plant. This isolate, aspirin, could insure standardized dosage not possible with whole plant extracts which the folkloric teas represented. And all the mess and fuss of dealing with large amounts of plant material was eliminated.

By 1880 there were only a few crude botanicals in use. This departure from balanced whole plant medicines presented a new problem. Within the matrix of a plant’s balanced biochemistry, plant medicines are naturally buffered. Isolates, however, produced all sorts of disorder symptoms, natural warnings that the body’s balance had been adversely altered.

We Are Now Experiencing A Resurgence Of Interest In Herbs, An Herbal Renaissance

Since our tradition was broken for over a hundred years, we are confronted with an information gap. The old simplers have died. With them has passed much of our herbal heritage. And the commercial marketplace offers little help. With generic labeling of teas and encapsulated powders, it’s difficult to determine therapeutic dosage levels for a given herb or remedy.

A box of tea bags will instruct us to place one tea bag in a cup of hot water. What the directions don’t tell is that we’ve made a beverage and not a medicinal tea. Many herbs, in fact, may be taken in quantities of an ounce or more (a large handful) a day. Therefore, to realize the full therapeutic effect from our camomile tea, we need to use 7 tea bags, not just one.

It’s the same for powders. Whether it’s a mild nutritive tonic like alfalfa or a more powerful stimulant purgative herb like cascara sagrada, the label directs us to take two capsules a few times a day.

And when we do decide to try herbs, our new herb buyers are offered herbs that are sometimes inferior in quality. Many commercial herbs are grown en mass in third word countries. And although it’s illegal to use chemicals like DDT in America, it’s permitted to export them to countries that grow our food and herbs.

Fortunately there are sources for organically grown and wild harvested herbs that offer full therapeutic power without residues of toxic chemicals. And the importance of producing our herbs organically goes beyond chemical purity.

Besides Medicinal Principles, Herbs Offer Vital Nutritive Support

They contain concentrations of vitamins, minerals and important amino acids. If an herb (or fruit or vegetable) is grown on the same plot year after year, it will grow. As it produces a nutritive or medicinal substance from raw materials in the soil, those materials become depleted. The addition of compost nourishes the soil, replacing lost materials.

The Indians taught this simple principle to the pilgrims settling in America. Nourish the Earth and the Earth will nourish you. The pilgrims regarded the addition of fish parts to the planted corn seeds a ritual with no practical advantage. Fresh, unsprayed, and organically grown herbs offer excellent healing results. In fact, rightly used, herbs offer a healing system that is at once powerfully effective and gentle.

Today people are having an experience with herbs. They’re experiencing the return to balance which herbs bring. And they’re rediscovering the blessings of whole herb medicines used by generations of their ancestors.