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One single-celled organism, available as a whole, natural, wild food may well be the answer to many of the problems facing us in the world today.

mt saint helens

The Algae Story
Although it has been around for billions of years, this part of its story starts more than six thousand years ago when a volcanic eruption in the Cascade Mountains of Southern Oregon hundreds of times larger than Mt. Saint Helens’ literally blew the top five thousand feet off Mt. Mazama.
This colossal event formed what we now know as Crater Lake.

In the process, millions of tons of mineral-rich volcanic ash was deposited on the area which drains into Upper Klamath Lake, creating a perfect spawning ground for the blue green algae, Aphanezomenon flos aquae, that flourished there, soaking it all up like a giant organic sponge.

klamath lake

So rich, in fact, is this natural fertilizer that the annual algae bloom, over two hundred million pounds, makes Upper Klamath Lake one of the most prolific biomass producing areas in the world.


Organic compost is the secret

The lake freezes every year killing most of the algae which settles to the lake bottom to compost with the significant amount of bird droppings deposited by the myriad of birds that visit. This compost is thirty five feet deep in some places.

The algae has adapted to take advantage of the two abundant sources of nourishment in Upper Klamath Lake, high desert solar energy from the sun, and the nutrient-rich sediment in the lake.

It operates a little parachute to rise to the top of the lake to feed on sunlight, then returns to feed on the bottom. Unlike soil-based agriculture, a nutrient-rich aquatic environment provides optimum nutrient exchange.

Rather than commercial crops competing for the few remaining nutrients left in our farmlands, Upper Klamath Lake algae have sixty times more nutrients than they need to fulfill their nutritional requirements.

They represent a life form living in abundance.

chemical farming

Our chemically-based agricultural system produces foods that are little more than a hollow shell, often containing more chemical fertilizer and pesticide residues than nourishment.

A can of spinach serves as the example for iron availability in commercial agriculture. One can of spinach in 1940 contained as much as seventy five cans today!

But where were the soils at in 1940? In the late 30′s, the United States Department of Agriculture released a report indicating that our soils were virtually bankrupt of minerals.

Minerals are important for controlling mood swings

Cells depend on minerals to facilitate chemical reactions necessary for the production of vital hormones and other chemicals, such as serotonin.

Magnesium, zinc, and iron are important in the treatment of mood swings because they help the muscles relax, reducing cramping and pain that lower serotonin levels.

When I started adding blue green algae to my daily supplementation I was amazed at how much of a mood elevator it was!

organic tomato

Remember what a real tomato tasted like?

The missing taste in tomatoes are minerals, ground up pieces of the Earth.

Chemical agribiz doesn’t contribute minerals, so as crops gobble up the minerals year after year, where are they going to come from?

Because this flavor is missing in most of our food, we add flavoring agents, like MSG, to placate our taste buds.

But inside, there is a growing hunger for elements vital to our continued health and well being. We call it false hunger. For we surely get enough to eat, and yet remain deficient.

Grow your own food?

Even organically grown produce may not contain all the important trace minerals we need to maintain optimal health.

In fact, the natural wild-growing blue green algae in Upper Klamath Lake may be one of the only remaining expressions of nature’s balance and abundance remaining in this developed world.

Besides a storehouse of vitamins and minerals, it contains significant amounts of beta carotene and other carotenoids, chlorophyl, and an amino acid profile almost identical to human breast milk.

freeze dried algae

A few grams of freeze dried algae will not replace a diet of organically grown whole foods. However, by supplying the necessary trace minerals, it enables us to absorb and utilize the mineral factors in our food.

When it comes to maintaining a healthy diet, nature’s first food, algae, may be our best hope.

For more information about this natural superfood or how to add it to your daily diet call 619 224 1268 or contact Jane via email at

For info about other superfood nutraceuticals we enjoy and recommend, click here.

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Smart Medicine

Smart Medicine

CNN coverage of the Gulf War impressed people around the world with the ability of weapons developed for the military to be directed against specific targets, while leaving the surrounding real estate intact. And while “smart bombs” must be the quintessential oxymoron of our modern age, I’ve always been struck by the ancient and inherent wisdom in herbs, and by their ability to provide intelligent and specific medicinal actions in the body. A single herb may raise or lower blood pressure (Cayenne), estrogen levels (Vitex), or nerve response (Valerian).

On a recent trip to Florida we were strolling in a park on Key Biscayne and encountered an amazing plant that is actually a “smart poison.” The Rosy or Madagascar Periwinkle, which is often grown as an ornamental, is a member of the genus Vinca which also includes the greater and lesser periwinkles commonly found throughout San Diego. Its plant family, Apocynaceae, includes many tropical trees and shrubs, a large number of which are poisonous, including our lovely Oleander.

Vinca rosea

In 1923, the Rosy Periwinkle, Vinca rosea, aroused interest in the medical world when it was found to have the power to cure diabetes, and was thought it may prove to be an efficient substitute for insulin. One of its alkaloids, vincristine, is currently employed in the fight against childhood leukemia. It acts as a mitotic spindle poison.

In mitosis, the process of cell division, the mitotic spindle helps to pull the two halves of the cell apart. Vincristine preferentially poisons the mitotic spindles in malignant cells in the process of dividing, while leaving normal cells alone. Periwinkle has a long history as a friend to man. Culpepper recommended it for nervous disorders, the young tops made into a conserve for the nightmare.


An ointment prepared from the bruised leaves has been used as a soothing and healing medicine for all inflammatory ailments of the skin, and is an excellent remedy for bleeding hemorrhoids. It has astringent and tonic properties. If you might hope that a smart herb might also make you smarter, periwinkle won’t disappoint you.

Studies in Germany have confirmed that the lesser periwinkle, Vinca minor, is one of the most powerful herbal cerebral vasodilators, opening micro-circulation to the brain.

Vinca minor
Vinca minor

Since ancient times periwinkle has been held in high esteem. It is considered a protector plant. Being also called “Joy of the Ground,” it was said to place one in a state of grace. It was worn as a garland or girdle to ward off misfortune.

While not at risk from car jackers, people of olde, mostly traveling on foot, were subject to inclement weather, robber bandits and predatory animals. Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! Grown near a gate or door, it was thought to keep away unwanted visitors. Another old name for it is “Sorcerer’s Violet.”

It was a favorite with the “wise folk” for making charms and love-potions. Old herbals tell of its potency against “wicked spirits,” having the power to exorcize evil and demonical possessions. The superstitions about it were repeated by all the old writers. It was said to induce love between man and wife.

In France, it is considered an emblem of friendship. Germans called it the “Flower of Immortality.” If you wish to grow periwinkle yourself, it is commonly found in nurseries. Just be sure to place it where it is well bordered as it tends to choke out other vegetation and will eventually stand alone in the allotted area.

As an apple a day keeps the doctor away, periwinkle at the gate keeps unwanted at bay. Shielded and ever prosperous in a state of grace, that’s smart medicine!

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Refreshing Nettles


Refreshing Nettles

When the weather heats up, we look to beverages for refreshment. Beer is often the beverage of choice. It is also a favorite during the winter holidays. And while commercial beer can present health risks because of the chemicals used in the process, herb beers have been a traditional part of folk medicine for generations.

In fact, herbs have been an integral component of the beer making process. Before hops were used, mugwort and other herbs imparted their slightly bitter flavor.


The number of micro brewery selections and folks brewing their own at home is on the rise. One herb brought to San Diego by Europeans for its many applications, including great herb beer, is Nettle (Uritca dioica), also known as nettles or stinging nettle for the sting imparted by the many sharp, hollow hairs adorning the whole plant. It can be found growing along stream banks and shaded areas of the county.

Mrs. M. Grieve, in her twentieth-century version of the medieval herbal, A Modern Herbal, first published in 1931, offers the following recipe for Nettle Beer. “The Nettle Beer made by cottagers is often given to their old folk as a remedy for gouty and rheumatic pains, but apart from this purpose it forms a pleasant drink.

How to make nettle beer

Take 2 gallons of cold water and a good pailful of washed young Nettle tops, add 3 or 4 large handsful of Dandelion, the same of Clivers (Goosegrass) [Cleavers], and 2 oz. of bruised, whole ginger.

Nettle Beer

Simmer gently for 40 minutes, then strain and stir in 2 teacupsful of organic raw sugar. When lukewarm place on the top a slice of toasted bread, spread with 1 oz. of compressed yeast, stirred till liquid with a teaspoonful of sugar.

Keep it fairly warm for 6 or 7 hours, then remove the scum and stir in a tablespoonful of cream of tartar. Bottle and tie the corks securely. The result is a specially wholesome sort of ginger beer.

The juice of 2 lemons may be substituted for the Dandelion and Clivers. Other herbs may be added to Nettles in the making of Herb Beer, such as Burdock, Meadowsweet and Horehound, the combination making a refreshing summer drink.”

Nettle as food

Nettle has also been valued in cultures around the world as a delicious and nourishing food source. The tender, young spring leaves eaten raw in salads or cooked as a vegetable enrich the blood and nourish the nervous system. They contain Vitamins A, C and K, Calcium, Iron, Potassium, Formic Acid and Sulphur.

Nettle juice may be poured into ice cube trays and frozen to be stored and later thawed and drunk as an internal anti-inflammatory and nutritive tonic.

It is an excellent medicinal and nutritive tonic supporting overall health. Old herbals abound in recipes for Nettle, including Nettle Pudding and Nettle Porridge.

External application

When dried or steamed, the needle-like hairs lose their ability to impart a sting. The sting, sometimes applied by lashing with the plant, is a remedy for poor circulation and gouty joints. An antidote for the sting, which wears off after 24 hours, is the juice of Nettle, Yellow Dock, Rosemary, Mint or Sage.

Also finding use as a hair tonic and in the making of paper and cloth, Nettle may be considered as one of our most useful plants. Hikers along stream beds beware!

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Magical Dandelion

Dandelion Wishes

Magical Dandelion

Dandelion Wishes

While in our herb garden the other day my daughter picked a dandelion that had gone to seed. She blew heartily till all the seeds flew off and floated away in the afternoon breeze. Remembering having done the same as a child, I inquired if she had made a wish. She had indeed. It made me think how funny it was that as adults we also have the task of keeping these pesky “weeds” out of our lawns. The children propagate. The adults eradicate.

A native to the Old World, this short member of the sunflower family has become well established in every temperate climate in the world. Its widespread distribution may be a hint from Mother Nature that everyone has need of it.


Although a relatively recent addition to the medicinal repertoire, dandelion has become one of the most widely used medicinal herbs in the world.

Its common name was apparently given by a 15th century surgeon who likened the cut of the leaf to a lion’s tooth, called in Latin Dens leonis. The botanical name, Taraxacum officinale, derives from the Greek taraxos (disorder), and akos (remedy), or good for what ails you, referring to its curative power. It is widely cultivated and harvested from the wild. All parts of the plant are useful.

Dandelion Leaf

The yellow composite flowers indicate the plant’s affinity for the liver and its capacity to bring joy to all who use it. They are lavishly supplied with nectar and are a favorite ingredient in herb beers and the famous dandelion wine. The white milky sap of the stem and root can be used as a topical remedy for warts.

The young leaves are a slightly bitter addition to salads acting as a digestive tonic. They supply an abundance of vitamins and minerals of great value to the nerves and blood. 20 ml of the fresh juice is taken three times a day as a diuretic. A less effective diuretic is made from a tea of the leaves.

The tincture is often added to remedies for failing heart to insure adequate potassium intake. The tap root of dandelion, much like a carrot, extends at least a foot into the Earth, drawing mineral energy. Roots are collected in Autumn of their second year. They are best left uncut as much of their medicinal virtue depends on the milky juice which would be wasted in bleeding.

A favorite liver stimulant with many herbalists, it is a cleansing tonic for problems including gallstones and jaundice. It clears liver congestion and will cure hepatitis in short order. It can be useful for constipation and toxic conditions such as joint inflammation, boils, abscesses, eczema, and acne. It aids digestion in the stomach and stimulates the pancreas and spleen. A curative starch, inulin, contained in the root is a safe remedy specific for hypoglycemia and diabetes.

A field of blooming dandelions creates a sea of yellow.

Because of their high concentration of vitamins and minerals, both the root and the leaf are considered restorative and adaptogenic aids in building the body and restoring energy reserves. Not being poisonous, quite large doses may be taken. The roasted root makes a very agreeable coffee substitute and is often combined with roasted chicory, Chichorium endiva, which has similar properties. This “weed”, dandelion, may be the most beneficial plant in the world. Maybe it’s time we take a lesson from the children and experience the joy and cleansing this magical herb brings.

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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.


When I turned 65 I failed my vision test at the DMV and my license stated I was required to wear corrective lenses (eye glasses) to drive.

At age 68, I applied DMSO with Aloe Vera gel directly in my eyes to treat blepharitis, an inflammatory condition of the oil glands of the eyes that creates an affliction known as dry eye, which is generally considered chronic.

 After struggling with it for two years, this condition was cleared up in a few days. 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.

When I applied to renew my license at age 70, I passed the vision test. At 75 I could have passed it from twice as far away.

Recent studies indicate that a 30% DMSO/70% Aloe Vera Gel combination is most effective for restoring vision.

Note that it does sting when dropped in the eyes.

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)

UPDATE: Although pre-covid I could purchase DMSO for $50/gallon. For some reason it is now $160/gallon.

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.