A TALE OF THREE ULCERS ~ Medicinal Virtues of Honey

A TALE OF THREE ULCERS by Jim Duke
(adapted from an article printed in Pathways Magazine, Spring 2015)

Decades ago, one ankle sore;
Had me facing amputation.
But p’roxide, sulfur, sunshine
Permitted perambulation
(anonpoet, 2015)

Trying to offer my Pathways readers something completely different for the New Year, I am offering a detailed account of the reported medicinal virtues of honey. Turns out that honey, in this case New Zealand’s manuka honey, a new friend of mine, mixed in Peru’s dragon blood, an old friend of mine, cured two ankle ulcers of mine, that conventional antibiotics had failed to help. And I’ve long been afraid of ankle ulcers. As you’ll see, I almost lost a leg to such an ankle ulcer in Panama about 50 years ago.

My Rodale book, The Green Pharmacy, came out in 1997, nearly 20 years ago, but had been submitted for publication, closer to 1995, when I retired from the USDA. That book still sells well, and has been reprinted in 10 or so languages. Matter of fact, it did so well, that the royalties helped me establish what we now call (and spell) Green Farmacy Garden (GFG). GFG started harvesting honey two seasons ago, thanks to some beekeeping friends, Dick and Victoria Ransom, who placed some hives here, near my 300-species GFG.

Apiarist Dick Ransom checking the Green Farmacy Garden hives

Apiarist Dick Ransom checking the Green Farmacy Garden hives

On page 148 of the original hard cover edition of the book, there’s a chapter entitled, “Cuts, Scrapes and Abscesses.” It takes me back to Panama, cerca 1965. I hope you never have an abscess like the one I had on my left leg 50 years ago there in Panama. In the humid forests, minor cuts can turn into major infections, seemingly almost overnight. This one started out quite small on my left ankle. Before you could contemplate “suppurating,” the medical term for the pus oozing from infected wounds, my aggressive abscess turned into Hollywood movie type jungle rot. My lower leg was a mess, the growing ulcer dripping disgusting green pus. My immune system was battling the bacteria hiding in the ulcer. Little did I know then that the peroxide and other chemicals in honey can fight some of those bacteria.

In the sleepy little province of Darien, near the Colombian border, my abscess grew, and my Panamanian friends shook their heads knowingly. I was hobbling so badly and I became feverish and wary. I paid the town urchins to take me from the farm, where several gringo scientists were renting to town in a wheelbarrow.  The natives (but not me) probably believe such ulcers are caused by the corrosive exudates of dumbcane (Dieffenbachia seguine), which is the same as the familiar palmlike Dieffenbachia houseplant up here. My friends assumed that some of the caustic resin from cut stems of dumbcane had entered a minor cut. That sounded possible, especially since I tended to go barefoot on the slippery slopes of the rivers, trying not to embarrass myself by falling down. But I’ll never know for sure. All I knew was that as the ulcer grew larger, I became feverish–and scared.

HerbalBum 1960

HerbalBum 1960 with his ulcerated bum ankle

I put on a brave face, but skin infections in the tropics can quickly become serious. Three decades ago, I was not quite as confident of the Green Farmacy as I am today. So I called on a North American physician at a hospital in the Canal Zone. After one look at my abscess, he said that if I didn’t get intravenous antibiotics immediately, I might lose my leg.  He administered some antibiotics, but that was not enough, in his view. If I wanted to save the leg, he said, I should return to the United States for continued treatment in air-conditioned hospitals.

Back then the American military stationed in Panama military offered me nice position to return to the forest as a botanical consultant. What to do? I wanted that job more than anything – but I also wanted to keep my leg.

I called my right-hand man and friend Narciso “Chicho” Bristan, an African-Panamanian who had accompanied me on several jungle trips. He, too, would enjoy a financial windfall by joining the new expedition into the bush to look into the advisability of a sea level canal cut thru Darien with nuclear devices. Chicho helped me hobble to see his sister, Carmen, a Darien nurse with an extensive knowledge of bush medicine. She had seen ulcers like mine before.  She was more optimistic. Yes, I needed immediate treatment, but not intravenous antibiotics. I was pleased when Carmen told this budding botanist that I could treat my abscess with “flowers,”. Not the botanical kind of flowers. She meant flowers (purified powder) of sulfur. She recommended flushing out my sores with hydrogen peroxide, a good disinfectant, drying them in the sun and finally sprinkling on flowers of sulfur. Turns out she was right or I was lucky.  Soon after that visit, I limped back into the jungle, still leaning on Chicho. But I didn’t have to lean on him for long. Carmen’s program and her flowers of sulfur quickly healed that angry abscess. Within a month, all I had left was a scar that I bear to this day, testimony to my first leg-threatening encounter with jungle rot. I’ve spent 7 of the last 50 years tromping around the tropics looking for medicinal plants.  Peroxide, sulfur and sunshine (Jungle Rx) with a generous helping of serendipity had permitted me my favorite avocation, walking thru the forests and botanizing.

Now, 50 years after my first indolent ulcer, old age and stenotic spinal neuropathy have me hobbling again. Last spring (2014), while wearing prescription compression stockings to improve my leg circulation, a strange pair of small ulcers developed, one on the front of each ankle.  It soon became apparent that they were, if anything – fertilized by the allopathic antibiotics. I was doubly amazed and amused when my holistic Physician’s Assistant, Josh Anderson, suggested a rather gory mixture he concocted, consisting of my new friend Manuka Honey and my old friend Dragon’s Blood (Croton lechleri) – a red resin that comes from a specific plant group.

Dragon's blood, Sangre de Draco, Croton lechleri

Dragon’s blood, Sangre de Draco, Croton lechleri

IMG_1587 manuka honey

raw manuka honey

That did the trick! In a few weeks, aided and abetted by also exposing the ulcers to the summer sunshine, (as I had done in Darien some 5 decades ago), I was up and about.

Dragon’s Blood and Honey
May sound bloody funny
But if it heals my ulcers
Right on the bloody money (Anonpoet, 2015)

IMG_0496

Jim Duke applies honey mixed with dragon’s blood to his leg ulcers

HONEY USES HERE AND THERE AROUND THE WORLD

Green Farmacy Garden Honey made in 2014 by our bees with help by Dick Ransom.

Green Farmacy Garden Honey made in 2014 by our bees with help by Dick Ransom.

More than a decade ago I wrote a foreword to Stephen Harrod Buhner’s, Herbal Antibiotics – Natural Alternatives for Treating Drug Resistant Bacteria (Storey Books, Pownal, Vermont, 1999). Hence, I feel free to quote myself from that Foreword, “When we borrow the antibiotic compounds from plants, we do better to borrow them all, not just the single solitary most powerful. We lose the synergy when we take out the solitary compound. But most important, we facilitate the enemy, the germ, in its ability to outwit the monochemical medicine. The polychemical synergistic mix, concentrating the powers already evolved in medicinal plants, may be our best hope for confronting drug-resistant bacteria.” After a quick review of the antibacterial properties of various honeys, I think the same applies to honeys.

Honey, not necessarily New Zealand manuka nor Slovakian honeydew honey, looks to be significantly or trivially (depending on author, concentration, and/or potency of antiseptic phytochemicals, or synergy) useful against some bacteria (even some super bacteria). For example, Acinetobacter, Aeromonas, Bacillus, Campylobacter, Candida (not a bacteria but important), Cellulosimicrobium, Clostridium, Enterobacter, Enterococcus. Escherichia; Hemophilus, Helicobacter, Klebsiella, Listonella, Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Mycobacterium, Proteus, Pseudomonas, Salmonella, Serratia, Shigella, Staphylococcus, Stenotrophomonas, Streptococcus, Vibrio, Vancomycin-resistant Enterococci (VRE) (WebMD; X20882522; X21776290; X23494861; X23569748; X24969731; X25278429).

To avoid developing resistance to the chemicals in honey, I recommend using the whole antibacterial multifloral honey as a shotgun; do not isolate the most potent chemical (silver bullet) to which resistance will quickly evolve. Buhner wisely specifies the use of wildflower honey (in contrast to the Ayurvedics, who recommend against wild honeys, which may come from bees foraging on poisonous plants). Our mountain laurels, Kalmia latifolia, here in Maryland, can lead to poisoned honey. Buhner rightly suggests that monofloral alfalfa and clover honeys may lack the natural chemical diversity of wild honey and are more liable to be contaminated with pesticides.

Buhner notes that honey has been effectively used in huge ulcers extending to the bone (rather like my Darien ulcer). Honey gives excellent results with burns; complete healing with no need for skin grafts, and with no infection or muscle loss. Honey “has outperformed antibiotics” with blood vessels, bone storage and transport, corneal problems, gangrene, skin grafts, stomach ulcers, and surgical incisions or infections (Buhner, 1999).

AYURVEDA (mostly in India) – Honey (Madhu) is classified by Ayurveda according to color. There are four types: white, brown, oil-colored and light yellow. The oil-colored varieties are, generally speaking, the best. Honey is sweet-astringent in taste, heavy to digest, cooling (constricts capillaries) and a blood purifier. It has medicinal value in treating Kapha end Pitta energy over-balance, but overuse can cause dryness and gas. In the winter, in spring and in humid weather, it has remarkable value for health. However, it should never be taken hot, as with teas, because heat may bring out latent poisonous effects from the pollens of nearby poisonous flowers. This is especially true of wild or uncultivated honey. (From Alan Tillotson.)

BIBLICAL: And their father Israel said unto them, If it must be so now, do this; take of the best fruits in the land in your vessels, and carry down the man a present, a little balm, and a little honey, spices, and myrrh, nuts, and almonds Genesis 43:11 (KJV). Sounds like a Biblical food farmacy gift package to me. The word honey is mentioned 60 times, the phrase “milk and honey,” perhaps synonymous with agricultural sufficiency, is mentioned 20 times in the Old Testament. Perhaps the most medicinal of the quotes is Proverbs 16(24), “Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.” There is no reference to “wild honey”in the Old Testament, no reference to “milk and honey” in the New Testament, where there only five references to honey, three of them to wild honey, e.g., in Mark 1:(6) “John was clothed with camel’s hair, and with a girdle of a skin about his loins; and he did eat locusts and wild honey.” Some speculate John’s locust may be the insect, others suggest it might be the carob (Ceratonia), rather suggestive of our honey locust. Speaking of extra-Biblical uses of medicinal plants mentioned in the Bible, I noted a few, e.g., (1) Onion seeds are mixed with honey and applied to warts. (2) North Africans that use aloe, usually mixed with gum arabic and honey or sugar for amenorrhea, dyspepsia, and jaundice. (3 & 4) Rhizomes of the Biblical Reed (Arundo donax) are boiled in wine and honey to treat cancers, as are chicory leaves boiled with honey for cancers, (5 & 6) Arabs add cumin and pimenta to honey as an aphrodisiac; similar uses reported for rocket seed in honey, and (7) Algerians mix manna ash seeds with honey and olive oil to treat gonorrhea (from my CRC Medicinal Plants of the Bible and the Bible online).

Carob, Ceratonia siliqua, has male and female flowers on separate trees. These are the male flowers and the strong "male" scent    lures not only insects to gather pollen but also me (H.Metzman). Ramat Rachel Jerusalem, Israel

Carob, Ceratonia siliqua, has male and female flowers on separate trees. These are the male flowers. The strong “male” scent lures not only insects to gather pollen but also me to photograph them (H.Metzman). Ramat Rachel Jerusalem, Israel

BULGARIA: Noting that honey is effective against colds, flu, and other respiratory infections, as well as immunodepression, Buhner recalls a Bulgarian study of 17, 862 patients showing that honey helped allergic and chronic rhinitis, asthmatic bronchitis, bronchitis, and sinusitis (Buhner, 1999).

INDIANA: The later it gets the more often I say, ”My good friend, the late … in this case Varro Tyler. Varro, like me and the late Norman Farnsworth, were important advisers on the American Botanical Council, Founder and Executive Director, Mark Blumenthal. I don’t think Farnsworth published any pop books, but Varro and I did. Thirty years ago Varro published, Hoosier Home Remedies, Purdue University Press (1985), in which we find such fascinating Hoosier recipes as drinking honey and vinegar for arthritis, or as a panacea (for whatever ails you). Then there was honey and sassafras as spring tonic and blood thinner. And comfrey, horehound, jack-in-the-pulpit, and spikenard, with honey and vinegar, for colds and flu. As antitussive, balm of gilead with honey and lemon; or honey and garlic, in vinegar (with whiskey), or honey and vinegar (with or without olive oil), or licorice, rock candy and honey, or mullein root with honey, or the complicated alum, black pepper, butter, ginger, honey and rosin, or simmered skunk cabbage and vinegar, with added honey, or says Tyler (p. 55), “a teaspoon of honey will quiet a cough.” As a panacea, milkweed root with honey (for constipation, dropsy, fever, hemorrhoids, nerve problems, even snake and spider bites). Then Varro suggests large doses of honey (two pounds in doses of six teaspoons every 20 minutes, to sober one up, even curb the desire to drink alcohol. Eat honey to promote sleep. While I am sure that some honeys are good for running sores or ulcers, I’d not try the Hoosier pokeroot, with honey, flour, eggs, and olive oil. On the other hand I’d not be afraid to take horseradish with honey and vinegar for hoarseness. One I did not know for stomachache was crawley root (Corallorrhiza) tea, sweetened with honey. I think I’d rather have Varro’s wild mint tea, with honey. And finally, he mentions 3-4 teaspoons aloe decoction with honey for tuberculosis. How’s that for a Hoosier Honey roundup from the late Varro Tyler’s Hoosier Home Remedies, Purdue University Press (1985)?

LATIN AMERICAN: Among Latinos, Amazonians use Motelo sanango stems and roots decocted with wild bee honey for female sterility. Maidenhair infusion is mixed with honey as expectorant, for rheumatism, and colds, heartburn, and sour stomach. Andeans use agave leaf tea with honey as a collyrium for conjunctivitis. Bolivians use century plant with honey for bruises, gonorrhea, internal tumors, nephritis, rheumatism, and tuberculosis. Bolivians gargle pineapple decoction with honey for angina, sore throat, and tonsilitis. Choco Indians mix papaya latex with honey as a vermifuge. Haitians use the Haiti Catalpa leaf tea with honey to relieve angina. Panama natives put copaiba mixed with honey in newborne mouths to impart knowledge and ward off hexes; also used for VD. Amazons mix bitter cane (Costus) stem juice with honey for cough, colds, and whooping cough. Bolivians use calabash decoction with honey to bring on the menstrual period. Peruvians take calabash jelly (hot fruit juice with honey and lemon) for bronchosis and cough. Chileans steep Winter’s Bark leaf in boiling water with honey as a stomachic tonic. Peruvians macerate ripe genipaps in rum with honey, for rheumatism. Haitians mix sweet potato root, honey and sulfur for cough. Peruvians use lantana leaf decoction with honey, garlic, and onion for bronchosis and cold (DAV). Hondurans cook Peruvian basil root with anise and honey cardiac pain and cough. A shot of chuchuhuasi with aguardiente and honey was given many ecotourists on departure from the Iquitos airport in 1991. All survived withdrawal from the Amazonian rain forest. And many came back, habituated. Latinos gargle leaf decoction with lemon and honey for sore throat. Peruvians apply matico leaves in honey to leishmanial sores. There is the strange mix of stinging hairs (Mucuna) in honey ingested to dislodge worms. Amazonians take honey with andiroba, black pepper, copaiba, and sugar, for bronchitis, coughs, laryngitis and pharyngitis. Bolivians use paud’arco leaf tea with honey as a tonic. Peruvians take Tecoma floral tea with honey as diuretic, pectoral, and sudorific (Source: Duke, JA; Vasquez Martinez, R. 1994. Amazonian Ethnobotanical Dictionary (Peru). CRC Press, Inc., Boca Raton, FL. 215 pp., and Duke, JA, Bogenschutz-Godwin, MJ, and Ottesen, A. 2008. Duke’s Handbook of Medicinal Plants of Latin America. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL. 901pp).

NORTH AMERICAN: Dan Moerman was kind enough to print out from his database the entries that involved honey among, e.g., the Cahuila, Cherokee, Diegueno, Navajo (floral honey), and Rappahannock Native Americans. Most often it seems to be added to medicinal herbs as a tonic or for asthma, coughs, colds pertussis, and sorethroat. Moerman’s printout includes no mention of topical use for burns, infections, or sores. (Moerman, Daniel E. 1998. Native American Ethnobotany. Timber Press, Portland, OR. 927 pp.)

SLOVAKIA: Slovakian, J. Majtan, listed a lot of surprising uses for honey, often honeydew honey from Abies [not honeydew (Cucumis melo)], e.g., corneal ulcers caused by contact lens (X25278429), leg ulcers (X25187187), perianal fistula in IBD (X21977900), preventing endophthalmitis (X22508360), in addition to more mundane activities like antibiofilm (X25278429), antiniflammatory (X25278429), IL-1beta-Genic (X24612472), IL-1beta-Inhibitor (X24612472), IL-6-Genic (X24612472), IL-6-Inhibitor (X24612472), immunomodulator (X24612472), MMP-9-Inhibitor (X 23812412), ROS-Genic (X24612472), ROS-Inhibitor (X24612472), TNFalpha-Genic (X24612472), TNFalpha-Inhibitor (X24612472), and vulnerary (X24612472).

TRADITIONAL CHINESE: Regarding Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Roy Upton kindly forwarded this to me. Shi Mi (mel) is sweet and balanced. It mainly treats heart and abdominal evil qi, all fright epilepsy, and tetany. It quiets the five viscera when they sustain various insufficiencies, boosts the qi, supplements the center, relieves pain, and resolves toxins. It eliminates multitudes of diseases and harmonizes hundreds of medicinals. Protracted taking may fortify the will, make the body light and free from hunger and prevent senility. A commentary in the same text states, “Honey moistens dryness, resolves various toxins, relieves various kinds of pain, frees the flow of the triple burner, and harmonizes the constructive and defensive. It is often prescribed to suppress cough, cure dysentery, and brighten the eyes. Besides the indications cited in the text, it may render the face brilliant.” (Yang SZ. 1998. The Divine Farmer’s Materia Medica. Blue Poppy Press, Boulder, CO. 198 pages.)

Honeybee on Pycnathemum muticum in the GFG

Honeybee, Apis mellifera, on mountain mint, Pycnathemum muticum, in the GFG

____________________________________________

HANDBOOK OF MEDICINAL PLANTS
©James A. Duke, Green Farmacy Garden, 2015

MANUKA, New Zealand Tea Tree
(Leptospermum scoparium J.R. et G. Forst) + FNFF=! (Honey ++ FNFF=!!!)

MYRTACEAE

“Make no doubt, we have the finest medical/patent science system in the United States of America that human greed can fashion.” — Attributed to someone under the name or pseunonym of ‘Hackus’. (We’ve been financially hacked by Big Pharma and collusional government agencies.)

Synonyms: Leptospermum nichollsii Dorr. Sm.; (=) Leptospermum scoparium var. chapmannii Dorr. Sm. ex Rehder; Leptospermum scoparium var. incanum Cockayne; Leptospermum scoparium var. martinii hort.; Leptospermum scoparium var. nichollsii (Dorr. Sm.) Turrill

NOTES (MANUKA): It may surprise you as it surprised me to read that there are three different species of Myrtaceae growing in Australia and New Zealand known as ‘Tea-tree.’ There’s the more familiar Australian Tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia), and the New Zealand manuka (Leptospermum scoparium), and Kanuka (Kunzea ericoides). All three essential oils are used by aromatherapists. Manuka had a spasmolytic action, while Kanuka and Melaleuca had an initial spasmogenic action. The antifungal activity of Kanuka was inversely proportional to its strong antibacterial activity, whilst manuka displayed a stronger antifungal effect, though not as potent as Melaleuca. The antioxidant activity of manuka samples was more consistent than that of Kanuka, while Melaleuca showed no activity. The variability in the manuka and Kanuka essential oils suggests caution in their usage, as does the fact that the oils have not been tested for toxicity (X11114000).

In mid-2014, manuka honey from New Zealand and dragon’s blood (Croton lechleri) from Peru quickly cured my “compression stocking” ulcers where conventional antibiotics had failed. So I’m devoting my lengthy fluffy first paragraphs to manuka honey itself which has its own healing reputation. Recently there are more PubMed citations on the manuka honey than on the essential oil, both of which are proving to be trivial or significant antiseptics.

But from the outset of this, I’m trying to see if there’s some strong reason why manuka should be better, perhaps a monotonous monofloral honey from rather monotonous manuka forests. Monofloral honeys may have high concentrations of a few antiseptics; multifloral honeys may have more antiseptic phytochemicals, possibly acting synergically. The honey produced in my Green Farmacy Garden is multifloral, with over 300 flowering plant species in a half acre. Many of them are well known bee forage plants in the mint family, with chemicals that can help the bees resist the mites that are playing havoc with many bee colonies here in the US, if not in New Zealand.

Here I report on some chemicals rightly or wrongly stated in the literature to be unique to manuka honey. In 2014, Japanese scientists reported that leptosperin, (methyl syringate 4-O-ß-D-gentiobiose), and methyl syringate are exclusively present in manuka (X24941263; X25310890). In 2012 Japanese researchers also reported that the honey inhibits myeloperoxidase, due to methyl syringate and its methyl syringate 4-O-ß-D-gentiobiose, named “leptosin,” a good chemical marker for manuka, which was correlated with the Unique Manuka Factor (UMF) value, as antibacterial (X22409307). Can you believe it? Indian studies showed that brushing with manuka was better than brushing with commercial toothpaste. Manuka has substantial non-peroxide antibacterial activity associated with an unidentified phytochemical component, denoted as UMF. Children using manuka honey instead of conventional toothpastes showed statistically significant reductions in salivary Streptococcus mutans after 10 and 21 days (X25001440).

In 2008, German scientists showed that manuka honey exhibited antibacterial activity when diluted to 15-30%, which corresponded to a methylglyoxal (MGO) content of 1.1-1.8 mM (anti-Escherichia, anti-Staphylococcus) (X18210383). In New Zealand, MGO ranges from 38-828 mg/kg (X18194804). And yes, manuka has anti-Staphylococcus aureus activities, with promise as a topical antibacterial (AntiMSSA) agent and effective chronic wound dressing (X22580031). As early as 1991, New Zealand scientists (Allen, Molan, and Reid) surveyed 345 samples of unpasteurized honey obtained from commercial apiarists throughout New Zealand. Most of the honeys were considered to be monofloral, from 26 different floral sources. Antibacterial activity (against Staphylococcus aureus) ranged from the equivalent of less than 2% (w/v) phenol to 58% (w/v) phenol, with a median of 13.6 and a standard deviation of 12.5. manuka was outstanding, and due entirely to the non-peroxide component (XX1687577).

Not everyone recommends manuka honey for diabetic ulcers. Juraj Majtan from Slovakia, while recommending honey for several ails, suggests that high methylglyoxal manuka (MG) might be contraindicated at least for diabetic ulcers. In 2011, he said the pronounced antibacterial activity of manuka honey is due, at least in part, to reactive methylglyoxal (MG), which can be 100-fold higher than in conventional honeys. Freshly produced manuka honey contains low levels of MG (~ 140 mg/kg) but during storage at 37̊C its content increases. The levels of MG in multi-floral honeys are low, ranging from 0.4 to 5.4 mg kg. High levels are reported in manuka honeys, ranging from 48 to 835. It has been suggested that concentrations of MG above 150 mg kg are directly responsible for the characteristic antibacterial properties of manuka honey. But MG is a potent protein-glycating agent and an important precursor of advanced glycation end products (AGEs). MG and AGEs may impair diabetic wound healing. Majtan also pointed out that resistance to silver as an antibacterial is showing up in Acinetobacter, Enterobacter, Escherichia, Klebsiella, and Salmonella (X21776290).

A discordant New Zealand study comparing four different honeys found that kanuka honey (from Kunzea ericoides) was a better wound healing antiiflammatory than a blend (kanuka and manuka), better than manuka and much better than red clover honey. “The phenolic content of honey correlates with its effectiveness, although the specific compounds involved remain to be determined.” (Manuka had 59% phenolic, kanuka 39%, the manuka/kanuka blend 59%, and clover 40%.) (X24623989).

The dihydroxyacetone in manuka may be converted to methylglyoxal (MGO). Flavonoid components of manuka run about 1.16 mg/100 g honey. The principal flavonoids present were pinobanksin, pinocembrin, luteolin and chrysin. Also, 1, 2-formyl-5-(2-methoxyphenyl)-pyrrole, was isolated from the flavonoid fraction and separately synthesized (X23870890). “Dihydroxyacetone (DHA) and methylglyoxal (MGO) are unique carbohydrate metabolites of manuka honey” (X22960208).

Recently, Hammond has shown the manuka honey effective against one of the superbugs, Clostridium difficile and its biofilm. (MIC & MBC=6.25%v/v) (X23651562, X25181951). Here I am at home January 16, 2015, while my wife Peggy is hopefully recovering from a very complicated serious open heart surgery (coronary bypass, new aorta). I have maintained for years that the most dangerous place in the world is the hospital. I still maintain that opinion and long for my wife’s successful recovery. She’s in ICU in a very clean (we hope) new building at Johns Hopkins. Still even in the first day of her operation, we heard rumblings that might be caused by an earlier botched operation (at Howard County Community Hospital. The doctors (January 15, 2015) noted that scar tissue from the botched pacemaker insert operation necessitated some dissection. That might dislodge scar tissue “debris” to float around, capable of causing minor or major blood clots, even strokes. It was probably about 3.5 years ago when Peggy went in for a much simpler operation, to insert a pacemaker, at our Howard County Hospital but with a highly recommended Johns Hopkins surgeon. But they botched it, the simple pacemaker insert, and overshot. We almost lost her. And they had to do emergency reparations. And she had a near fatal sepsis. I think I heard the attending physicians mention Clostridium.

I mention all this because I just came across those papers by N. E. Hammond showing that manuka honey (from Leptospermum) has antibacterial properties capable of inhibiting in vitro biofilm formed by the superbug Clostridium difficile (X25181951). Clostridium difficile diarrhea is estimated to occur in 8 out of 100,000 people each year. Among those admitted to hospital, it occurs in 4- 8 people per 1,000. Due in part to the emergence of a fluroquinolone-resistant strain, C. difficile-related deaths increased 400% between the years 2000 and 2007 in the United States. A number of different antibiotics are used for C. difficile, more or less equally effective. Metronidazole typically is the initial drug of choice for mild to moderate disease, because of lower price.Typically it is taken three times a day for 10 days. Oral vancomycin is preferred for severe cases. Fidaxomicin is as effective as vancomycin in mild to moderate cases. Cholestyramine, an ion exchange resin, is effective in binding both toxin A and B, slowing bowel motility, and helping prevent dehydration. Cholestyramine is recommended with vancomycin. A last-resort treatment in those who are immunosuppressed is intravenous immunoglobulin. Evidence to support the use of probiotics in the treatment of active disease is insufficient…. A World Health Organization report, released April 2014 states, “this serious threat is no longer a prediction for the future, it is happening right now in every region of the world and has the potential to affect anyone, of any age, in any country. Antibiotic resistance–when bacteria change so antibiotics no longer work in people who need them to treat infections–is now a major threat to public health” (Source: Wikipedia). Not all citizens of the world can afford these antibiotics. In their desperate poverty, they can try honey. Until the honey has been clinically compared with the increasingly more useless antbiotics, I cannot be sure but what the honey is better, cheaper, and safer. You see, honey is like a natural shotgun, long known (millennially) to your genes (if your ancestors consumed it), containing several different kinds of antibacterial pellets which might synergically be more useful than the dying silver bullet, the unnatural synthetic monochemical never known to your genes until you take it for the first time.

In 1994, New Zealand scientists, publishing on manuka honey (XX8308841), noted that some of the antiseptic activities of honey were due to hydrogen peroxide, which I, too, have used as an antiseptic. And many of the studies of manuka honey relate to the antiseptic activities of the non-peroxide components. Five isolates of the ulcerogenic bacteria Helicobacter pylori to honey was tested, were sensitive to a 20% (v/v) solution of manuka honey. As little as 5% honey (v/v) stopped overgrowths of the bacteria in cultures. None showed sensitivity to a 40% solution of a honey, in which antibacterial activity was due primarily to hydrogen peroxide (XX8308841).

al Somal, et al. (X) note that conventional treatment of gastric and duodenal ulceration is unsatisfactory. Most drugs used suppress but do not cure ulcers, slowly healing and with high rate of relapse – 80% at 1 year and 100% at 2 years, even with maintenance therapy with ranitidine 150 mg at night, the relapse rate is 48%. Gastric and duodenal ulcer medicine is expensive. Treatment with honey is much less expensive and appears to be quicker. Allopaths tend to prematurely reject “alternative medicine” if it lacks a rational basis. These New Zealanders provide a rational basis. Much gastric and duodenal ulceration appears due to Helicobacter pylori and honey has proven antibacterial activity.

As they note, antibacterial activity of honey varies depending on the bee honey sources. The major antibacterial factor in most honey is hydrogen peroxide, produced in the honey by the action of glucose oxidase which is added to the honey by the bee, but some antibacterial activity is due to floral substances. If honey heals gastritis and ulcers by affecting Helicobacter pylori, it may be the phytochemical content of the honey that is involved rather than the osmolarity or the hydrogen peroxide content of the honey. The authors honestly say, “Honey is a very bland treatment, and in fact can protect the stomach from the damaging action of other substances. However, although manuka honey shows potential for use as a low-cost innocuous agent against Helicobacter pylori, its usefulness clinically is not known. Helicobacter pylori is susceptible to many antibacterial agents in vitro but only a few are effective in vivo.” “Manuka honey, a common floral type in New Zealand, has been ingested in large quantities by a large number of people for a long time without any adverse effects coming to light” (XX8308841). Are not clinical studies in order? We need to know; can honey be significantly or trivially better than the synthetic options offered us. We don’t know! Why? If the FDA were looking for what is best for the American public instead of what’s best for the bottom line of the pits, Big Pharma, perhaps FDA’s biggest patron, we would already know. Good old corporate America. Feeding the rich. Milking the poor. In the land of milk and honey. I think even rich Democrats and Republicans, might like to know if honey might help the ulcers they have (and deserve). Manuka honey, a common floral type in New Zealand, has been ingested in large quantities by a large number of people for a long time without any adverse effects coming to light.

Where one finds honey, one often finds propolis, which has some antiseptic vitrues of its own.

Czech scientists note that propolis, in ethanol, or in DMSO, proved antibacterial against Enterococcus, Escherichia, Listeria, and Staphyloccus, and against the fungi Aspergillus fumigatus, Microsporum canis, Microsporum gypsaeum, and the omnipresent yeast, Candida albicans (X23915150).

Yes, even monofloral bee pollens have their own antiseptic activities, e.g., pollen of Brassica napus subsp. napus > Papaver somniferum > Helianthus annuus, among Slovakian pollens, against Escherichia, Listeria, Pseudomonas, Salmonella, and Staphylococcus. Staphylococcus was most sensitive to the poppy pollen, Salmonella to the rape and sunflower pollen   (X23305281).

Korean scientists found two acaricides more potent than DEET [(LD50=37.12 ug/cm(-2)]. 2,2,4,4,6,6-Hexamethyl-1,3,5-cyclouetrione LD50=1.21 ug/cm(-2) and Leptospermone LD50=0.07 ug/cm(-2) (X19051215). New Zealand researchers showed that a mouthwash including essential oils of manuka and kanuka was effective against radiation-induced mucositis of the oropharyngeal tract (during treatment for head and neck cancers). Taiwanese scientists studied the essential oils of the aromatic tea tree relatives kanuka and manuka. They reported that they were significantly effective against four bacteria (Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus mutans, Streptococcus sobrinus) and four fungi (Candida albicans, Candida tropicalis, Malassezia furfur, Trichosporon mucoides). The manuka oil also reduced canine Staphylococcus pseudintermedius, including MRSA, and biofilm (X23772881).

As early as 2005, German scientists showed that the oil inhibited herpes (HSV1 & HSV2) with IC50 of 0.96 ug/ml and 0.58 ug/ml for inhibiting the viral plaque. Like the oil itself, flavesone and leptospermone, inhibited the virulence of HSV-1. Even after the virus had penetrated the host cells, manuka oil still cut back replication of HSV1 by ~ 41%. Added at non-cytotoxic concentrations 1 h prior to cell infection, plaque formation was reduced by 99.1% and 79.7% for flavesone and leptospermone, respectively (X16395648).

Oregon University researchers reported a clinical trial of IND 61,164, a mouthwash, containing essential oils and extracts from Leptospermum scoparium, Melaleuca alternifolia, Calendula officinalis, and Camellia sinensis. Fifteen subjects completed the Phase I safety study. Seventeen subjects completed the Phase II randomized placebo-controlled study. As I read the abstract, I’d not care to try it myself (X16317652).

COMMON NAMES (MANUKA): Árvore-Chá (Brazil, Por; USN); Broom Teatree (Eng. ,USN): Érica (Brazil, Por.; USN); Falsa-érica (Brazil, Por.; USN); Leptospermo (Brazil, Por.; USN); Manuka (Maori, NZ, USN); Manukamirt (Afrikaan; USN); Manuka Myrtle (Eng., USN); Manuka Teatree (Aust.; Eng., USN); New Zealand Teatree (Eng., S. Afr., USN); Rosenmyrten (Swe.; USN).

ACTIVITIES (MANUKA): Acaricide (1; X19051215); Anthelminthic (1; PR14:623); Antiacetylcholinesterase (1; HAD; JAF45:677); Antiallergic (1; FNF); Antiasthmatic (1; FNF; CJT4:203); AntiEscherichia (1; X24582465); Antiherpetic (1; X16395648) Antiinflammatory (1; XX9720632); AntiMRSA (1; X23772881); Antimucositic (1; X19297246); Antioxidant (1; PR14:623; X11114000); Antiseptic (1; PR14:623; X11114000; X16395648; X24582465); AntiStaphylococcus (1; X24582465); AntiStreptococcus (1; X24582465); Antitussive CJT; Antiulcer X10823671; Antiviral (1; X16395648); Antiyeast (1; X24582465); Anxiolytic (1; FNF); Astringent (1; PR14:623); Bactericide (1; PR14:623; X24582465); Candidicide (1; X24582465); Diuretic (1; AEH219 BIS); Fungicide (1; PR14:623; X11114000; X24582465); Herbicide (1; FNF; X23314892); Immunomodulator (1; X17675558; X22212104); Insectifuge (1; FNF); Irritant (1; CAN); Nematicide (1; SZ44:183); Nephroirritant (1; CAN); Sedative (1; FNF; XX7838881); Spasmolytic (1; PR14:623; XX9720632; X11114000); Spermicide (1; FNF); TNF-alpha-Genic (1; X17675558; X22212104); Tranquilizer (1; XX7838881); Uterocotractant (1; PR14:623); Vulnerary (1; FNF).

INDICATIONS (MANUKA): Anxiety (1; XX7838881); Bacteria (1; FNF; X24582465); Candida (1; X24582465); Cold (f; PR14:623; XX9720632); Cold (f; XX 9720632); Diarrhea (f; XX9720632; Dysuria (f; PR14:623); Escherichia (1; X24582465); Fever (f; PR14:623); Fungus (1; FNF; X24582465); Infection (1; FNF); Inflammation (f1; XX9720632; X24582465); Insomnia (1; XX7838881); MRSA (1; X23772881); Mycosis (1; FNF); Staphylococcus (1; X24582465); Streptococcus (1; X24582465); Worm (1; PR14:623); Yeast (1; X24582465).

DOSAGES (MANUKA): FNFF=!!!. I do not remember seeing dosages for this, but recommend the honey as a food to be consumed as desired. Manuka honey is now sold internationally. Leaves used also to make tea. Manna edible (WIK).

DOWNSIDES (MANUKA): Honey should not be given to infants as it may cause botulism (WebMD). None for the honey (possibly fattening and habit forming, containing the endocannabinoid caryophyllene); essential oils need to be monitored carefully say practicing aromatherapists. Aromatherapists, as with many other essential oils, suggest caution. Variability in manuka and Kanuka essential oils suggests caution in their usage; “oils have not been tested for toxicity” (X11114000).

Not indexed in AHG or AHPA’s Botanical Safety Handbook (2nd Ed., 2013).

EXTRACTS (MANUKA):

LEPTOSPERMUM SCOPARIUM J.R. et G. Forst

“MANUKA”

ALLOAROMADENDRENE EO NAPRALERT
DELTA-AMORPHENE EO NAPRALERT
ARABINOGALACTANS FL (HONEY) X22212104
AROMADENDRENE EO NAPRALERT XX9933953
3,4,5-TRIMETHOXYBENZOIC-ACID HL NAPRALERT
3,4,5-TRIMETHOXYBENZOIC-ACID-METHYL-ESTER HL NAPRALERT
BETULINIC-ACID BK 5,000 PHYT13:2002 NAPRALERT
BETULINOL SH NAPRALERT
(-)-BICYCLOSESQUIPHELLANDRENE EO NAPRALERT
(-)-CADINA-1(6),4-DIENE EO NAPRALERT
(-)-CADINA-3,5-DIENE EO NAPRALERT
CADINA-1,4-DIENE EO NAPRALERT
CADINENE EO XX9933953
DELTA-CADINENE EO NAPRALERT
CALAMENENE EO XX9933953 X19161682
(-)-TRANS-CALAMENENE EO NAPRALERT
CARYOPHYLLENE EO XX9933953 X15184010
BETA-CARYOPHYLLENE EO NAPRALERT
CHRYSIN HONEY X23870890
CHRYSIN-DIMETHYL-ETHER SH NAPRALERT
COLOSOLIC-ACID 3.2 SH NAPRALERT
COPAENE EO XX9933953
ALPHA-COPAENE EO NAPRALERT X15184010 X19161682
CUBEBENE EO XX9933953
ALPHA-CUBEBENE EO NAPRALERT
DEFENSIN-1 HONEY X22366273
DIHYDROXYACETONE FL X25277074
DIHYDROXYACETONE HONEY METABOLITE X22960208
3-BETA-30-DIHYDROXYLUP-20(29)-EN-28-OIC-ACID 1 SH NAPRALERT
2′-BETA-DIHYDROXY-3′-METHYL-4′,6′-DIMETHOXYCHALCONE SH NAPRALERT
2,5-DIHYDROXY-7-METHOXY-6,8-DIMETHYLFLAVAN-3-ONE PL XX7838874
2,5-DIHYDROXY-7-METHOXY-6,8-DIMETHYLFLAVAN-3-ONE LF NAPRALERT
5,7-DIMETHOXYFLAVANONE SH NAPRALERT
5,7-DIMETHOXYFLAVONE PL XX7838881
5,7-DIMETHOXYFLAVONE SH NAPRALERT
5,7-DIMETHOXY-6-METHYLFLAVONE PL XX7838881
5,7-DIMETHOXY-6-METHYLFLAVANONE SH NAPRALERT
DIMETHYLCRYPTOSTROBIN SH NAPRALERT
ELLAGIC-ACID BK PC7:1803
3-O-METHYL-ELLAGIC-ACID BK PC7:1803
3′-O-METHYL-3-4-METHYLENEDIOXY-ELLAGIC ACID BK PC7:1803
3,3′-DI-O-METHYL-ELLAGIC-ACID BK PC7:1803
3,3′,4-TRI-O-METHYL-ELLAGIC-ACID BK PC7:1803
ELEMENE EO XX9933953 X15184010
FARNESENE EO XX9933953
FLAVANOIDS PL XX7838874 XX7838881 X17235970
FLAVANONE-5,7-DIMETHOXY-6-METHYLFLAVONE SH NAPRALERT
FLAVANONES PL XX7838881
FLAVESONE EO X10096865 X17368492
1,2-FORMYL-5-(2-METHOXYPHENYL)-PYRROLE HONEY X23870890
GERANYL ACETATE EO X15184010
(3-(ß-D-GLUCOPYRANOSYLOXY)-2-METHYL-4H-PYRAN-4-ONE) FL X25529685
GLUCOSE-OXIDASE HONEY X22366273
ALPHA-GLUCOSIDASE HONEY X22366273
GRANDIFLORONE LF X10096865 X17368492 X25103692
GURJUNENE EO XX9933953
ALPHA-GURJUNENE EO NAPRALERT
2,2,4,4,6,6-HEXAMETHYL-1,3,5-CYCLOHEXANETRIONE EO X19051215
HUMULENE EO X15184010
ALPHA-HUMULENE EO NAPRALERT
BETA-HYDROXYCHALCONE PL X17235970
5-HYDROXY-7-METHOXY-6-METHYLFLAVANONE SH NAPRALERT
5-HYDROXY-7-METHOXY-6-METHYLFLAVONE PL XX7838881
5-HYDROXY-7-METHOXY-6-METHYLFLAVONE SH NAPRALERT
5-HYDROXY-7-METHOXY-6,8-DIMETHYLFLAVAN-3-ONE SH NAPRALERT
5-HYDROXY-7-METHOXY-6,8-DIMETHYLFLAVANONE SH NAPRALERT
5-HYDROXY-7-METHOXY-6,8-DIMETHYLFLAVONE SH NAPRALERT
5-HYDROXY-7-METHOXY-6,8-DIMETHYLFLAVONE PL XX7838881
JACOUMARIC-ACID 40 LF NAPRALERT
ISOLEPTOSPERMONE [3, 5-HYDROXY-4-(2-METHYL-1-OXOPENTYL)-2,2,6, 6-TETRAMETHYL-4-CYCLOHEXENE-1,3-DIONE) PL X10096865
LEPTOSPERIN HONEY X24941263
LEPTOSPERMONE EO X10096865 X17368492 X19051215 X23314892
LINALOL EO X15184010
LUTEOLIN HONEY X23870890
MALTOL GLUCOSIDE FL X25529685
3-BETA-O-CIS-P-COUMAROYL-MASLINIC-ACID 14 LF NAPRALERT
3-BETA-O-TRANS-P-COUMAROYL-MASLINIC-ACID 30 LF NAPRALERT
TRANS-METHYL CINNAMATE EO X15184010
METHYLGLYOXAL HONEY METABOLITE X22960208
METHYL-SYRINGATE-4-O-ß-D-GENTIOBIOSE HONEY X24941263
METHYL-SYRINGATE HONEY X24941263
MONOTERPENES -30,000 EO EO XX9933953
MYRCENE EO X15184010
PHENOLICS HONEY X24623989
ALPHA-PINENE EO X15184010
PINOBANKSIN HONEY X23870890
PINOCEMBRIN HONEY X23870890
PINOSTROBIN SH NAPRALERT
PLATANIC-ACID 0.6 SH NAPRALERT
PROTEIN-MRJP1 HONEY X22366273
SELINENE EO XX9933953 X15184010
ALPHA-SELINENE EO NAPRALERT
BETA-SELINENE EO NAPRALERT
SESQUITERPENES 600,000 EO XX9933953
BETA-SITOSTEROL SH NAPRALERT
STROBOCHRYSIN-DIMETHYL-ETHER SH NAPRALERT
STROBOPININ SH NAPRALERT
STROBOPININ-7-METHYL-ETHER SH NAPRALERT
SYRINGIC-ACID-METHYL-ESTER HL NAPRALERT
TRIKETONES 200,000 EO X15184010
BETA-TRIKETONES LF X25103692
UVAOL SH NAPRALERT
VIRIDIFLORENE EO XX9933953
VIRIDIFLOROL EO XX9933953
ALPHA-YLANGENE EO NAPRALERT
GAMMA-YLANGENE EO X15184010
(-)-ZONARENE EO NAPRALERT

3.25.2015 Garden Report ~Helen Lowe Metzman, Garden Director

We had a delayed opening of the garden due to temperatures in the single digits, ice, and snow in late February and early March. Once the snow finally melted, Hillary, Wendy, Porter, and I cut back out last year’s growth and pruned the dormant trees and shrubs. Our rosemary, which lost 90% of its size in the Winter of 2014, once again has 90% dead  remaining branches and leaves with only 10% growth that is not dried and withered. I am not going to lose hope in its survival, but I will not have any expectations either. As I tell my kids, “all suffering comes from expectations.”  Snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis) replaced the snow in the Alzheimer’s plot; Chinese goldthread (Coptis chinensis), a source of berberine in its root, is blooming in the Vaginitis plot; butterbur (Petasites japonica) displays its flower inflorescence in advance of its mammoth leaves in Headache plot; ramps (Allium tricoccum) leaves are emerging  from maroon sheathes in the yin side of the valley; and Lenton Rose (Helleborus sp.), crocus (Crocus vernus) and Winter aconite (Eranthis hyemale) herald the transition of winter to spring around the garden. The red-shouldered hawks continue as they do – year after year – to scream and bicker overhead and in the woods. I have yet to hear the wood frogs’ quacking call, and wonder if I just missed them. This winter of 2015 was hard in many ways and the awakening of plants brings a fresh joy to the garden.

Wendy, Hillary and Porter prune the Aesculus glabra Buckeye.

Wendy, Hillary and Porter prune the Buckeye (Aesculus glabra)

IMG_9210 Goldthread coptis chinensis gfg

Chinese goldthread, (Coptis chinensis) in flower

IMG_9218

Butterbur (Petasites japonicus) in flower

IMG_9228

Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis)

IMG_9235

ramps (Allium tricoccum) emerging

IMG_9242

ramps (Allium tricoccum) last year’s seed head

IMG_9245 lenten rose helleborus niger

Lenten Rose (Helleborus sp.) flowers beginning to open

IMG_9135

Crocus vernus in flower

IMG_6869 red shouldeered hawk

Red-shouldered hawk watching at the GFG

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EBOLAPHOBIA by James A. Duke

 Viriphobia Goes Viral

eeeeeek! Ebola, Encephalomyocarditis, Enterovirus, Epstein Barr Virus, Equine-Rhinopneumonitis, all evidently evolving quicker than we do.

We taxpayers deserve to know, now, before they fast-track some moneymaking poison that may hurt some Ebola and a lot of people

………… vacciniphobic jim duke

My editors here at Pathways dislike my choice of big words I use, sometimes even invent, like the one I used to describe myself as a vacciniphobe, someone who fears vaccines or vaccinations, like the flu shots. I almost goofed and called myself a vacciniaphobe, which would mean someone who fears Vaccinia, one of the many viruses that might confront us again via bioterrorism. [[OPTIONAL: According to Wikipedia on Google, Vaccinia virus belongs to the poxvirus family, which includes smallpox. Vaccinia virus is in the vaccine that eradicated smallpox, making it the first human disease to be eradicated (under the World Health Organization, under the Smallpox Eradication Program). Currently, there are concerns about smallpox being used as an agent for bioterrorism, there is renewed interest in Vaccinia. So I am both vacciniaphobe and vacciniphobe, and slightly ebolaphobe.]]

October 24, 2014, Dr. Anthony Fauci, infectious disease chief at the National Institites of Health (NIH), proudly pronounced that nurse Nina Pham was free of Ebola as she was released from the hospital. But I watched her release on the noon news, and Dr. Fauci pronounced her virus-free. He like many Americans seems to be preoccupied with Ebola, and I am rather sure he meant to declare her Ebola-free, not necessarily virus-free. Most of us know that we humans are 90% microbe, and only 10% human. Among those microbes, most are bacteria, but there may well be several fungi (and/or yeast), and probably quite an array of viruses. Probably 90% of us have a trace Epstein-Barr virus, or have antibodies to it. So far, I have not found a source to tell me how much and how many viruses the healthy human houses. I’ll wager I have a half a dozen at least right now, though most do not now have the upper hand, e.g., cold, enterovirus, flu, herpes, hepatitis, rhinovirus, and, from my earlier years, measles, mononucleosis, and mumps, maybe cowpox.

Melatonin used to be as cheap as aspirin. Scientists at the University of Texas Health Science Center, in San Antonio,Texas, USA, may change that. In the PubMed abstract, they say, “the use of melatonin for the treatment of Ebola virus infection is encouraged” (X25262626). They compare the symptoms of Ebola with those life threatening symptoms of sepsis, which Mrs. Duke suffered three summers back. [[OPTIONAL: They suggest that melatonin can disrupt, endothelial disruption, disseminated intravascular coagulation, and multiple organ hemorrhage, if that means anything to my readers.]]

The good news (in case such positive reports on melatonin cause a shortage) is that many common food plants contain melatonin. The bad news it is that the melatonin is at such low levels that I’d have to eat thrice my weight in rice to get a significant quantity of melatonin. No, while I am an advocate of natural food farmacy, not in the case of melatonin.

In response to the current viriphobia, I have been rooting through our governmentally sponsored NIH PubMed journals search, seeking published articles on viruses. I seek those PubMed citations dealing with herbs or phytochemicals that might help, significantly or trivially, in a viral epidemic. We are not yet in a viral epidemic. We are suffering what I irreligiously call hysterical viriphobia, fanned by the constant headlines in the periodicals and on the TV. I use that politically incorrect word hysterical, amused by the title of one article (in French) which translates, ‘Coexistence of mass hysteria, konzo, and HTLV-1 virus’ (X10816753). The article tells me that ebolaphobia (mass hysteria over ebola) might do more damage here than Ebola itself. Among all those vacuous “words of wisdom” from CDC (like wash your hands; don’t touch doorknobs and elevator buttons, seems like CDC has washed it hands of a natural approach to virus) and the new Ebola Czar, they talk of new synthetics, often GMO, vaccines which in some cases may prove more dangerous than the feared viruses CDC washes their hands of for a despairing public, seeking some magic medicine. You see, CDC and Big Pharma, if not FDA, have concluded there is no money to be made in using natural antiviral (or immune boosting) chemicals in the foods our ancestors have long ingested, like garlic, licorice, onion, persimmons, and turmeric, even honey (all in my Viroxymel).

Jim duke samples his Viroxymel

Jim Duke samples his Viroxymel

Yes, honey! Have you ever heard of an oxymel, defined by the Free Dictionary as a mixture of honey, water, vinegar, and spice, boiled to a syrup. Well, I don’t boil my oxymels, and I use them when the flu is going around. And, I add several diced antiviral spices, chopped up in my honey and vinegar, to make an antiviral oxymel, which I call my Viroxymel. This year, I’m betting most on the antivirals garlic, licorice, onion, persimmon, tea, and turmeric.

Those who sell green tea (Camellia sinensis) may sell a little bit more to ebolaphobics who study this PubMed abstract appearing in the journal Antiviral Research, and cryptically entitled, “HSPA5 is an essential host factor for Ebola virus infection” (X25017472). The abstract did not even define HSPA5! So, I did some more digging and found that HSPA5 is heat shock 70kDa protein 5 (glucose-regulated protein, 78kDa). That doesn’t help you or me much. All we need to know is that HSPA5 is necessary for an ebola infection to survive. All that coming this year from Ft. Dietrick, where I enjoyed serving two of my military years, back in the 1950’s. And then the good news! There is a common compound in a common food with an uncommonly long name, (-)- epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which might lessen the liklihood of ebola infection. Your tea leaves may contain up to 5% or more EGCG. Other NIH PubMed citations tell us that EGCG might help with other viruses Epstein-Barr, flu, herpes, hepatitis B & C, papilloma virus, T-Cell lymphocytic virus. EGCG is the first HSPA5-Inhibitor I ever heard of from plants. Mark my word, eager investigators will soon start churning out research papers on other natural HSPA5-Inhibitors in many of our food plants, herbs, medicinal plants and spices. Big Pharma will seek unnatural synthetic HSPA-5 Inhibitors our genes have never known. Some will be less dangerous than the virus; others will possibly be more dangerous, as science marches onward during these ebolaphobic days. Meanwhile, if you chew enough garlic, your garlic halitosis may discourage Ebola-bearing guests from getting too close. I’m busy compiling a list of those antiviral spices and which viruses they have been reported to help. Some skeptics say there are no antiviral plants. They might selfishly argue that they work by boosting the immune system as their vacccines are also reported to do. Me, I’d rather eat an immune-boosting clove of garlic or enjoy my Viroxymel than take an immune boosting flu vaccination. Mrs. Duke would rather take the flu-shot. I am accumulating hundreds of PubMed citations on antiviral plants from the governmental NIH library. The scientists who wrote these papers often list some herbs and the chemicals reported to help control if not kill the virus (if indeed it is alive to be killed).

Camelia sinensis - tea in flower

Camelia sinensis – tea in flower

Garlic can be hot and that alone might make you thirsty. Garlic is not yet reported to work on Ebola. But it works on a lot of other viruses. Try it. Sweeten your antiviral green tea with honey and spice it up with antiviral spices. That’s my first suggestion for a food farmacy approach, my Viroxymel against Ebola, perhaps a little better than nothing, perhaps better than what Big Pharma will push on the ebolaphobics.

Garlic with underground bulb of cloves beginning to develop after the scape was removed

Allium sativum – Garlic

Many published papers suggest that honey is antiviral, alone or in concert with some of these antiviral spices. In 2014, Japanese scientists studied of Manuka honey (which I have used to cure an ulcer on front of both my ankles). The authors said, in technical terms what translates to, “Manuka honey efficiently inhibited influenza virus replication and, in combination with synthetic pharmaceuticals, zanamivir or oseltamivir, potentiated them nearly 1,000-fold” (X24880005). Beekeepers at the Green Farmacy Garden (GFG) produced some honey here for the first time this year. And I have no reason to believe that our honey is inferior to Manuka, since our bees have a much greater variety of herbs to visit than the comparatively monotonous Manuka forests. A Portuguese study suggested that “Água-mel,” as a honey-based product, was good for simple symptoms of the upper respiratory tract (X23422034). Manuka and clover honeys (0-6% weight) were antiviral against varicella zoster virus EC50 = 4.5%. “Honey is convenient for skin application, is readily available and inexpensive, honey may be an excellent remedy to treat zoster rash in developing countries, where antiviral drugs are expensive or not easily available” (X22822475). Honey potentiated acyclovir in the treatment of herpes simplex keratitis (X22242438). Oseltamivir and maxingshigan-yinqiaosan, alone and in combination, reduced time to fever resolution in patients with H1N1 influenza virus (X21844547). Indian researchers compare topical honey application with acyclovir for recurrent herpes simplex lesions (X16940940). One Saudi scientist concluded that topical honey application is safe and effective in the management of the signs and symptoms of recurrent lesions from labial and genital herpes. The abstract suggested that it was less effective than acyclovir and but had fewer side effects (X15278008). Syrian scientists (1996) concluded that honey solutions were effective against Rubella virus while thyme extracts were not (XX9395668). Burdock (1998) and Rau et al. (1992) add that propolis may have antibiotic, antifungal, antiinflammatory, antitumor, and antiviral properties (XX9651052; XX1423745).

As for spices to go in your spiced aguamel or oxymel or Voroxymel, I mention a few with an evidence-based list of viruses reportedly reduced or inhibited by the spice:

Garlic and Onion: Coxsackie, flu, herpes, respiratory viruses. Fresh garlic extract, rich in thiosulfinates, reportedly reduced herpes simplex virus type 1, herpes simplex virus type 2, parainfluenza virus type 3, vaccinia virus, vesicular stomatitis virus, and human rhinovirus type (XX1470664).

Green Tea: We have tea in the GFG but brought it into the green house in late October. As mentioned above, thus does contain a chemical (EGCG) that can arrest Ebola infections.

Glycyrrhiza glabra - licorice root (left) and stem leaf (right) just harvested from the Green Farmacy Garden

Glycyrrhiza glabra – licorice root (left) and stem leaf (right) just harvested from the Green Farmacy Garden

Licorice: Licorice, in addition to sweetening your tea, or oxymel, or Viroxymel, has a lot of antiviral activities, against, e.g., arboravirus, corona virus, flu, HBV, HCV, HIV, HSV, RSV, Vaccinia, VSV (X17886224).

Persimmon: Late October and my bearing persimmon is bare, leaves all blown off, and there are only a couple fruits still hanging on there. My readers may well know how puckery unripe persimmons can be. That puckery effect is due to the astringent tannins or polyphenols. Astringency might help in some hemorrhagic fevers, if not Ebola. It is the astringency that contributes to the antiviral properties of persimmons against a dozen viruses: adenovirus, coxsackie, feline-calicivirus, H3N2-flu, H5N3-flu, herpes simplex, murine-norovirus, Newcastle, polio, rotavirus, Sendai, and vesicular stomatitis (XX23372851).

Persimon ~ Asimina triloba

Persimmon – Dyospyros virginiana

Turmeric or its major active ingredient curcumin are active against CVB3, FHI, FIPV, Flu, HBV, HCV, Herpes, HIV, Japanese encephalitis, papilloma, parainfluenza; Respiratory Syncytial Virus, Vescicular Stomatitis Virus.

Curcuma longa – turmeric harvest

Since Big Pharma, CDC, and FDA seem to have written off the antiviral chemicals (no money to be made there, they say; they can make more money damaging and even killing people with unnatural statins and vaccines). I will finish off 2014 (maybe even yours truly, too) compulsively compiling on published natural antiviral chemicals in such wholesome herbs as garlic, ginger, green tea, licorice, onion, persimmon, and turmeric, for example. There are many, and they seem to be currently ignored by Big Pharma, CDC, and FDA, as they knowingly or unknowingly push their more dangerous and expensive alternatives, too often unproven vaccines. I’d like to know that CDC and FDA are sure their recommendations are better for the American public than what I suggest herein.

After consulting the NIH PubMed evidence, and without futilely trying to consult Big Pharma, CDC, or FDA, I suspect Viroxymel is better for flu and several other viruses, if not Ebola, than what Big Pharma has to offer and CDC and FDA seem to champion. I don’t know. Neither do BigPharma, CDC or FDA know. We all need and deserve to know.

………..vacciniphobic jim

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vacciniphobic jim in his grotto

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Rosemary – not so rosy or merry after the winter of 2014

5.23.2014 After this past winter of relentless temperatures below freezing, we witnessed the majority of our beloved rosemary’s (Rosmarinus officinalis) leaves turn from green to brown. We had, as in previous years, wrapped our huge rosemary in insulation and burlap the week after Thanksgiving to protect this Mediterranean native from the Howard County Maryland wet and cold winters. Our rosemary had made it through all the winters since the inception of the garden in 1998 and even bloomed continuously during the mild winter of 2013. During a recent trip to the National Arboretum a couple weeks ago, I noted all of their rosemary plants looked equally dismal, if not worse off, than ours. Yes, misery loves company. We had a tour of gardeners this week, who informed me all of their rosemary plants had died, and one person even reported every rosemary died at the National Cathedral garden, which is protected from the prevailing winter winds and several to ten degrees warmer in the city’s heat sink than it is here in the garden. I have had many visitors this year also remark that their rosemary plants did not survive. A Mediterranean native plant just can’t survive in a “polar vortex.” Or can it? This past week, our rosemary put out a half dozen flowers and is showing fresh buds on about 10% of the plant.  With the recent warm weather and wishful thinking, I believe our rosemary will survive the Winter of 2014! We are keeping our fingers crossed for a rosemary recovery.

IMG_1961 rosemary 2014 - Version 2
Rosemary (center of photo) in the Alzheimer’s plot tattered from the winter but also showing a bit of new spring growth.
 
Rosemary is in the Green Farmacy Garden’s Alzheimer’s plot not only for its well known reputation as Shakespeare’s “Herb of Remembrance” but also for its constituents which are “acetylcholine sparring.” Research on the causes of Alzheimer’s is changing and no longer solely favoring the acetylcholine retaining theories that dominated when the garden was conceived, but focusing more on beta amyloid forming plaque in the brain for triggering the disease. Recent research investigated the neuroprotective effects of antioxidants found in rosemary such as Carnosic acid, and although the studies are done on animal models or on cultured cells, the conclusion was that rosemary’s antioxidant properties could be promising.* 

*Cell J. 2011 Spring; 13(1): 39–44. Published online Apr 21, 2011. PMCID: PMC3652539 Neuroprotective Effects of Carnosic Acid in an Experimental Model of Alzheimer’s Disease in Rats

*Carnosic acid suppresses the production of amyloid-β 1-42 by inducing the metalloprotease gene TACE/ADAM17 in SH-SY5Y human neuroblastoma cells. Meng P, et al.  Neurosci Res. 2013 Feb;75(2):94-102. doi: 10.1016/j.neures.2012.11.007. Epub 2012 Dec 17. PMID 24295810

6.1.2014 –  Rosemary was pruned back 85% of its original size and shows signs of fresh verdant growth.  Other plants suffering a set back in growth from the winter are the fig and pomegranate, with their aerial parts appearing to have died all the way down to surface level. Signs of hope came this week as a solo small white bud appeared at the base of the fig and shiny new growth at ground level for the pomegranate. I’ll probably be cutting down the above ground stems of these plants after I wait for more signs of life to emerge.

The native plant species from temperate regions of Europe, China, and Japan are back on track as expected and the garden is flourishing with unabated growth and vigor…finally!!! Weeds are exploding too. We are in the process of putting out the tropicals such as cinnamon, turmeric, ginger, cardamon, coffee, tea, mate, peppers etc. into their plots throughout the garden.

Jim is still compiling away and writing new herbal songs just as May slipped into June.  The cold hard winter is the distant past and the time is now to move on but not forget. With a sniff of rosemary, I hope to always remember the winter of 2014 as the year that almost did our beloved plant in – but didn’t.

ROSEMARY SHAMPOO by Jim Duke
    (Parody on Kris Kristofferson’s Help Me Make It Thru the Night)
TAKE A BREAK WITH HERB SHAMPOO, MAKES ME WANNA WASH WITH YOU,
SMELLING FLESH THAT BREATHES SO FRESH, MAKES ME THINK IN SYNC WITH YOU.
LEMON BALM, ROSEMARY, SAGE, THEY CAN PUT THE BRAKES ON AGE,
SAVE THE CHOLINE IN MY BRAIN, LEAVE ME DANCING IN THE RAIN.
FEELING I’M MORE RIGHT THAN WRONG, AS I SING THIS HOMEY SONG;
ROSEMARY HELPS RETAIN, ALL THOSE MEMORIES REMAIN.
YESTERDAY, JUST LIKE TODAY, FULL OF MEM’RIES, ALL THE WAY,
AND THE MINT SCENT OF SHAMPOO, ONE MORE MEMORY OF YOU.
SO SHE SAID SHE HAD THE YEAST, CINEOLE CAN TAME THAT BEAST.
BETA-PINENE HELPS THE SCENE, SYNERGIZE WITH LIMONENE.
CARNOSOL AND CARVACROL, THYMOL, GERANIOL,
SYNERGIZE TO LICK THE BEAST, LICK THE BEAST THAT WE CALL YEAST.
WILL ROSEMARY SAVE THE DAY, KEEP THAT BEASTY YEAST AWAY?
ANTISEPSIS AT ITS BEST, OLE ROSEMARY PASSED THE TEST
LET ME LOVE ANOTHER DAY, IN THAT SPECIAL HERBAL WAY,
THANK THIS SCINTILLATING MINT, I STILL SENSE A SEXY SCENT.
YES, I LOVE THE SCENTS OF MINTS,
THEY STILL STING ME TO MY SENSE.

A quick glimpse of what’s been growing on at the Green Farmacy Garden:

Tussilago farfara Colt's foot in seed

Tussilago farfara – Coltsfoot in seed

 

Primula vernalis  - Primrose in flower

Primula vernalis – Primrose in flower

 

Hydrastis canadensis - Goldenseal in flower

Hydrastis canadensis – Goldenseal in flower

 

Hillary in buttercups

Hillary in buttercups – Ranunculus bulbosus

Iris versicolor - Blue flag Iris

Iris versicolor – Blue flag iris

Symphytum officinale - Comfrey - in bloom

Symphytum officinale – Comfrey in bloom

Hillary and garden - east side looking west

Hillary and garden – east side looking west

Urtica dioica - Stinging nettles

Urtica dioica – Stinging nettles with their “hypodermic needle” stinging hairs.

Matteuccia struthiopteris -ostrich fern

Matteuccia struthiopteris – Ostrich fern

Epimedium sp. Horny Goat weed - yin yang huo

Epimedium sp. – Horny Goat weed – yin yang huo

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Epimedium sp. – Horny Goat weed – yin yang huo

Panax trifolius - dwarf ginseng growing wild in the Aphrodisia Plot...

Panax trifolius – Dwarf ginseng growing wild in the Aphrodisia Plot…

Anemone pulsatilla in bloom

Anemone pulsatilla in bloom

Caulophyllum thalictroides - blue cohosh - in bloom

Caulophyllum thalictroides – Blue cohosh  in bloom

garden crew setting the thyme on the floral clock

garden crew setting the thyme right in the floral clock

bamboo sprout

bamboo sprout – eventually made into our trellises

Vicia fava - faba bean flower

Vicia fava – Faba bean flower

 

 

Papaver bracteatum - Iranian poppy - after the hail storm

Papaver bracteatum – Iranian poppy after the hail storm

Papaver bracteatum -Iranian poppy

Papaver bracteatum -Iranian poppy

Dioscorea sp. Wild yam gone wild

Dioscorea sp. – Wild yam gone wild

Smilax herbacea - Carrion flower - intertwined with the wild yam.

Smilax herbacea – Carrion flower intertwined with the wild yam.

Baptisia australis - Blue false indigo in bud

Baptisia australis – Blue false indigo in bud

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Silybum marianum – Milk thistle in bud/flower

American toad in the stone wall

Bufo americanus – American toad in the stone wall

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Arctic Air, Snow White, and Wintergreen

Plant Rant: Wintergreen by Jim Duke (from the archives):

My Handbook of Medicinal Northeastern Indian Plants lists over 700 species of plants for which I found published Amerindian uses as medicine. The waning wintergreen is just one of them.  Although it had several medicinal applications among various Indian tribes, these may be more or less grouped into those uses that required a painkiller like aspirin, a counterirritant like mustard, and an antiseptic germ killer like thymol. Looking at the literature, we find that wintergreen does have the forerunner of aspirin, salicylic acid, which has confirmed analgesic, antipyretic, and antirheumatic properties. Translating that, it has properties, which make it useful for pain, fever, and rheumatism, three ailments for which the Indians reportedly used them. But the salicylic acid is a minor component of the wintergreen, the major component being methyl salicylate, which, in addition to the above properties, also has anti-inflammatory properties. The penetrating nature of this strong counter irritant is what has led to its presence in many of the topical rubs that mother used to rub on our chests for colds or aching muscles to reduce both inflammation and pain. What about the antibiotic? Wintergreen contains the compound arbutin, which is both bactericidal and diuretic. So Father Nature’s wintergreen combines three ingredients, all of which can be useful when the aches and pains of winter colds and flu set in, lowering the fever, killing the germs, reducing the inflammation and pains of swellings and aches and pains. Children who chew the roots for six weeks each spring reportedly suffer less tooth decay. Wintergreen leaves and/or fruits were used by North American Indians to keep their breath when portaging heavy loads. Algonquin guides chewed the leaves to improve their breathing (and I expect their breath as well) during hunting. Amerindians smoked and chewed the dried leaves. Quebec Indians rolled the leaves around aching teeth

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Wintergreen, Gaultheria procumbens, in flower.      Helen Lowe Metzman

The Iroquois even took wintergreen for kidney aches. Once a major drug for cystitis and other infections, arbutin, like wintergreen, has dropped off main stage. For a while arbutin was important, but the pure arbutin was not as important as the plant extract, according to the Merck Index. Not necessarily speaking of wintergreen, Merck probably referred to some other member of the heather family when it said, “Gallotannin prevents enzymes such as beta-glucosidase from splitting arbutin, which explains why crude plant extracts are more effective medicinally than pure arbutin.” (emphasis mine). No longer do we get arbutin, not aspirin, nor methyl salicylate, nor even oil of wintergreen from wintergreen, but should I have a cold or urinary tract infection, I would not hesitate to drink wintergreen tea, and were I suffering a chest cold or a muscle ache, I would not hesitate to rub it down with wintergreen extracted into bear grease or hog-lard or even mentholatum. Many of the famous  feline balms of the orient owe part of their aroma and effectiveness to methyl salicylate, which, like oil of wintergreen, can  be fatally toxic in large doses. But then, all good medicines are toxic in large doses.

I find the aroma of the methyl salicylate, the active main ingredient in wintergreen, very pleasant. I frequently use a boswellin cream with wintergreen when my knee acts up. In Maine, we make wintergreen tea, drinking it and applying it topically for chronic or temporary pain. There are many analgesics in wintergreen. Wintergreen often complements red pepper’s capsaicin, and peppermint’s menthol in several OTC pain relievers, either these herbs alone, or any one of their constituents, or in various combinations. Methyl salicylate, like wintergreen, has long  been employed in baths, liniments, and ointments, for pain relief, e.g. in gout, lumbago, rheumatism, and sciatica.

Strange how wintergreen, like so many powerful aromas, can be a fountain of youth. If the namesake of the song wintergreen were to massage my aching aging back with wintergreen, I’d forget my aches and age. Yes the beautiful wintergreen persists on some few forest floors where many a moccasin trod centuries ago and where today too many off-road-recreational vehicles vehemently violate the environment, endangering the environmental treasures like wintergreen. I am, thankful more ways than one for wintergreen. I hope it outlives the all-terrain-vehicles that endanger it.

 IMG_8363 wintergreen copy

WINTERGREEN’S A BREATH OF SPRING
ON THE WINTRY FOREST FLOOR
AND IT MAKES A BODY SING
WHEN THE SONGS DON’T COME NO MORE.

TRAILING NIMBLY ON THE GROUND
WHERE THE SUNSHINE’S RARELY SEEN;
WHAT A BREATH OF SPRING I FOUND,
TASTE OF APRIL, WINTERGREEN.

WINTERGREEN, WHERE YOU BEEN?
YOU’RE THE PRETTIEST THING I’VE SEEN!
BREATH OF SPRING, THRUOUT THE YEAR,
SUMMER’S SMILE, CHRISTMAS’ CHEER.

THERE ARE OTHERS MAY OUTSHINE YOU;
THEY’RE MORE SHOWY FOR AWHILE.
BUT THE WINTERTIME DON’T SNOW YOU,
YOU STILL HAVE THAT SPRINGTIME SMILE.

BREATH OF SPRING THRUOUT THE YEAR
LIKE THE MOUNTAIN AIR SO CLEAN.
WEAR THE SNOWDROP LIKE A TEAR
CONSTANT LOVER, WINTERGREEN.

WINTERGREEN, WHERE YOU BEEN?
YOU’RE THE PRETTIEST THING I’VE SEEN!
BREATH OF SPRING, THRUOUT THE YEAR,
SUMMER’S SMILE, CHRISTMAS’ CHEER.

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Wintergreen leaf found under snow 3.4.2014.    Helen Lowe Metzman

From my spice book, here’s my multiple activity menu for wintergreen showing which compounds in it can be helpful in flu. When you give your body an herbal tea, you are giving it a veritable menu of genetically familiar phytochemicals. Your body knows better than your herbalist, pharmacist or physician  which, if any, of these phytochemicals the body needs. Through homeostasis,the body selects some of those needed, selectively mining the menu.  That’s what I mean when I say I prefer the herbal shotgun, with a wide array of medicines, versus the synthetic silver bullet, where the body has no choice. Here’s the multiple activity menu (MAM) for wintergreen and cold/flu. Wham bam, thank you M.A.M, may be the title of my next book. If I can find a publisher as crazy as I. My computer can now make M.A.M’s for any major herb and any major disease.

M.A.M.

WINTERGREEN FOR COLD/FLU:

Analgesic: caffeic-acid ; ferulic-acid ; gallic-acid ; gentisic-acid ; methyl-salicylate ; salicylic-acid ; ursolic-acid
Antiallergic: ferulic-acid
Antibacterial: arbutin ; caffeic-acid ; ferulic-acid ; gallic-acid ; gentisic-acid ; p-coumaric-acid ; p-hydroxy-benzoic-acid ; tannic-acid ; vanillic-acid
Antibronchitic: gallic-acid
Antiflu: caffeic-acid ; gallic-acid ; lupeol
Antihistaminic: caffeic-acid ; ursolic-acid
Antiinflammatory: alpha-amyrin ; caffeic-acid ; ferulic-acid ; gallic-acid ; gaultherin ; gentisic-acid ; lupeol ; methyl-salicylate ; ursolic-acid ; vanillic-acid
Antioxidant: caffeic-acid ; ferulic-acid ; gallic-acid ; lupeol ; p-coumaric-acid ; p-hydroxy-benzoic-acid ; tannic-acid ; ursolic-acid ; vanillic-acid
Antipharyngitic: tannic-acid
Antipyretic: methyl-salicylate
Antiseptic: arbutin ; caffeic-acid ; ericolin ; gallic-acid ; methyl-salicylate ; tannic-acid
Antitussive: arbutin
Antiviral: caffeic-acid ; ferulic-acid ; gallic-acid ; gentisic-acid ; lupeol ; tannic-acid ; ursolic-acid
COX-2-Inhibitor: ursolic-acid
Cyclooxygenase-Inhibitor: gallic-acid ; ursolic-acid
Immunostimulant: caffeic-acid ; ferulic-acid ; gallic-acid ; tannic-acid
Phagocytotic: ferulic-acid

M.A.M WINTERGREEN FOR RHEUMATISM:

Analgesic: caffeic-acid ; ferulic-acid ; gallic-acid ; gentisic-acid ; methyl-salicylate ; ursolic-acid
Antiarthritic: ursolic-acid
Antiedemic: alpha-amyrin ; beta-amyrin ; caffeic-acid ; lupeol ; ursolic-acid
Antiinflammatory: alpha-amyrin ; caffeic-acid ; ferulic-acid ; gallic-acid ; gaultherin ; gentisic-acid ; lupeol ; methyl-salicylate ; ursolic-acid ; vanillic-acid
Antiprostaglandin: caffeic-acid
Antirheumatic: gentisic-acid ; lupeol ; methyl-salicylate
Antispasmodic: caffeic-acid ; ferulic-acid ; p-coumaric-acid
COX-2-Inhibitor: ursolic-acid
Counterirritant: methyl-salicylate
Cyclooxygenase-Inhibitor: gallic-acid ; ursolic-acid
Elastase-Inhibitor: ursolic-acid
Lipoxygenase-Inhibitor: caffeic-acid ; p-coumaric-acid ; ursolic-acid
Myorelaxant: gallic-acid 

Garden notes: March 3, 2014 by Helen Lowe Metzman

Time to get back to the garden and typically at this time of year, the garden crew is sharpening tools in attempt to cut down and prune out last year’s herbaceous plant skeletons.  Although once picturesque, these skeletons are now passé – bent, broken, and blowing. Time to rid of old winter in anticipation of fresh spring.  This year is not typical – so tidying up the garden is way behind schedule and will just have to wait for snow to melt and temperatures to rise.

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garden gazebo and winter skeletons.     Helen Lowe Metzman

After many years of balmy winters and virtually no snow, the garden, along with the whole mid-Atlantic, finally got hit hard. The garden received not only repeated snowfalls but also a walloping dose of below normal temperatures off and on since the first of January.  It is not the insulating blanket of snow that has wreaked havoc with my sleep but rather nights like tonight that are scheduled to dip down to 1˚F.  Since I’ve been working at the garden, it’s never been this cold for such an extended time.

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GFG old barn.      Helen Lowe Metzman

Personally, I don’t mind the cold like everyone around here and welcome the excuse to cuddle up by the woodstove with a book or sketchpad. However, the garden is home to Mediterranean and tropical plants desperately struggling to survive outside of their optimum climates.

IMG_0019 panoramic greenhouse - Version 2

Panoramic view of greenhouse

The enormous rosemary, which has been growing in the Alzheimer’s plot of the garden since its inception and bloomed the entire winter last year, looks barely alive. Sigh. I am cautiously optimistic it will make it this year. If rosemary does indeed succumb and surrender to the cold, I can replace it but would need to wait many years for a new specimen to achieve the height, girth and beauty of its predecessor.

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Rosemary – a Mediterranean plant – we hope will survive the winter of 2014’s Arctic air.

The tiny and squished greenhouse is literally running on front and back burners with fingers crossed for heat. We lost all three coffee plants while I was out of town in early January, and ever since, I’ve been struggling to keep the greenhouse warm enough on cold nights and not too hot on the few days of average temperatures. Goldilocks meet the greenhouse. I bought several of the rarer tropical plants into the Duke’s basement, and tonight I have to remain at peace (and get some sleep) with whatever happens to the plants in the greenhouse.

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Peggy Duke and I applied bubble wrapped to the glass on greenhouse and kept the space heaters on high for the majority of the nights from January and February and now into the first week of March.

March 4, 2014 Relief to learn after record-breaking lows in Baltimore today there were no casualties in the greenhouse. Seeds were sowed with hope. The snowdrops pushed up through the snowfall, the marcescent beech leaves shimmered in the valley, and the distant konk-a-ree of blackbirds sang a song of late winter. Soon enough the garden will be teeming with new growth, visitors, and warmth.

Check back soon for a calendar of events and activities or email greenfarmacygarden@gmail.com to volunteer or to schedule a tour.

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snow drops pushing up through the snow fall 3.4.2014                         Helen Lowe Metzman

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Grandpa Creek in the yin/yang valley with marcescent beech leaves hanging on 3.4.2014.      Helen Lowe Metzman

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Winter silhouettes with late winter sun in the GFG yin/yang valley.

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Jim Duke’s songbook for the 2013 ACEER Legacy Award

On September 29th, Jim Duke received the 2013 ACEER (Amazon Center for Environmental Education and Research) Legacy Award. To mark the occasion, we put together a songbook consisting mostly of Jim’s parodies and a few songs by others. We share the songbook with you:

A Flower Child’s Garden of Verses

  2013 ACEER Legacy Award

JIM DUKE

 

The budding ethnobotanist, Jim Duke, with Choco Indians in Darien, Panama circa 1966.
Photo by Dr, Joe Kirkbride

PARADISE LOST- Key of D

Words by Jim Duke sung to the tune of John Prine’s “Paradise”

I PRAISE YOU JOHN PRINE, AND I HOPE YOU DON’T MIND,
IF I MIMIC YOUR SONG, TO HELP THE FOREST ALONG.- CORPORATE US, LIKE YOUR “PARADISE” TELLS
FRIGS UP OUR RIVERS, AND FRACKS UP OUR WELLS

MEANWHILE DOWN IN PERU, THE RAPE IS THERE TOO
POIS’NING THE AMAZON, FOR A NUGGET OR TWO.-
EVEN WHILE I AM SINGING, THE AXEMAN IS SWINGING,
CHOPPIN’ DOWN ALL THAT GREEN, TO PLANT CORN, SQUASH AND BEAN.

DADDY WON’T YOU TAKE ME TO THE PRIMARY FOREST
BY THE AMAZON RIVER WHERE PARADISE LIES? (LAY)
I’M SORRY MY SON, BUT THE FOREST IS GONE!
I’LL SHOW YOU SOME SLIDES, THAT’LL HAVE TO SUFFICE!

OH AXEMAN UNKIND, YOU ARE BLOWING MY MIND!
CAMU-CAMU AND BRAZILNUT, THEY CAN HELP FILL YOUR GUT.
BUT YEAR AFTER YEAR, ONCE THE FOREST IS CLEAR,
YOU’LL HAVE LESS AND LESS FOOD, AND YOU’LL RUN OUT OF WOOD.

NEVER THOUGHT ECOTOURS, COULD BE ONE OF THE CURES;
TAKING “GREEN” BUCKS FROM GRINGOES, GETTING MUD ON THEIR TOES.
IF THE ECOTOURS THRIVE, INDIAN CULTURES SURVIVE,
AND THE CHILDREN WILL STRIVE, TO KEEP TRADITION ALIVE.

MOMMA WON’T YOU TAKE ME TO THE PRIMARY FOREST
ON THE AMAZON RIVER WHERE PARADISE LIES?
I’M SORRY MY DAUGHTER, BUT I DON’T THINK I OUGHTA‘
WE’VE WAITED TOO LONG, NOW THE FOREST IS GONE!

NO PLACE I’D RATHER GO, THAN TO CRUISE ON THE NAPO;
HOPING SOME OF MY PLEAS, KINDA’ HELP SAVE THE TREES.
I’D RATHER YOU’D FIND ME, SUNNIN’ WITH THE TREE HUGGERS
THAN BACK IN DC, ALL ARUNNIN’ FROM MUGGERS!

IT’S QUITE ELEMENT’RY, OUR PRAISE FOR AL GENTRY,
WHOSE CONSERVING CAREER REALLY HELPED AT ACEER.
THE BEST BOTANY BRAIN, WENT DOWN WITH AL’S PLANE,
AND ALTHOUGH HE IS GONE, WE MUST STILL CARRY ON

FROM CUZCO TO JUPITER AND EVEN AT MALIBU
TWO JOHNS BECAME ONE, WHERE ONCE THERE WERE TWO
JOHN WAS THE BRIDEGROOM, OLIVIA THE BRIDE.
WHAT A BEAUTIFUL COUPLE, WHAT AMAZON PRIDE.

Jim Duke receives the award from John Easterling and Olivia Newton John

Jim Duke receives the ACEER award from John Easterling and Olivia Newton John

____________________________________________

La Soga
(parody on Kris Kristofferson’s The Pilgrim: Chapter 33)

He had tasted good and evil in both bedroom and bordello
Trading all of his tomorrows for todays
Pondering where to go, he tripped down to old Loreto
Contemplating those ayahuasca ways.

It was really quite a far cry from New York to old Nanay
From the asphalt that he knew down to Peru
In his search for the divine, he designed to mine the vine
And the throwing up was worth the comin’ down

Yes the throwing up was worth the comin’ down
He’s a poet (he’s a poet), he’s a prophet (he’s a prophet)
He’s a walking contradiction, kinda low when flying high
He’s a brujo,(he’s a brujo) a soguero (a soguero)

With celestial connections, he now navigates the sky. And the throwing up was worth the coming down; And the going up is coming back around!

Handsome, tall and lanky, never crass or cranky,
Coolest greenest man i ever seen.
Had a ball and frankly, lotta grass and hanky panky,
Eating and sipping jungle green

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Brugmansia sp. ~ Toé ~ Angel’s Trumpet is mixed in the brew.

Mixed um all one day, the soga and yage
Boiled um `most ‘away, with three leaves of to-e
Entonces el tome, and he softly flew away,
And the throwing up, was worth the comin down
But the chucking up, relit a brighter day!

He’s a poet (he’s a poet), he’s a prophet (he’s a prophet)
He’s a walking contradiction, kinda low when flying high
He’s a brujo,(he’s a brujo) a soguero (a soguero)
With celestial connections, he now navigates the sky.
And the throwing up was worth the coming down;
And the going up is coming back around!

Jim, the late Frank Cook, who the song was written in memory of, and La Soga

Jim, the late Frank Cook (for whom La Soga was written in memory of) and the vine.

GINSENG (E, with E bass)
Written in China in1978 by Jim Duke

From the bluegrass of Carolina
To the hills of northeast China
I’ve been and I’m going back again
Did I really find the truth
Chinese fountain of youth
The herb that the Chinese call renshen

Makes an older man cocksure
And a younger man endure;
Makes an older woman younger
And a younger woman hunger.
Ginseng, sing gin!
Sing a little thing and swing!
Sing a little thing, ginseng!

Searching for the holy grail
On the Appalachian trail
When I found the herb they call ginseng
Growing deep down in the woods
That’s where I got the goods
The herb that turns the autumn into spring.

Panax-quiquefolius - American ginseng

Panax-quiquefolius – American ginseng

Panax-quiquefolius-American ginseng

Panax-quiquefolius-American ginseng

_________________________________________________________

HICKORY WIND written by Gram Parsons and Bob Buchanan

In South Carolina there are many tall pines
I remember the oak tree that we used to climb
But now when I’m lonesome, I always pretend
That I’m getting the feel of hickory wind
I started out younger at most everything
All the riches and pleasures, what else could life bring?
But it makes me feel better each time it begins
Callin’ me home, hickory wind

It’s hard to find out that trouble is real
In a far away city, with a far away feel
But it makes me feel better each time it begins
Callin’ me home, hickory wind
Keeps callin’ me home, hickory wind

Jim jams with son John

Jim jams with son John

GET ALONG HOME CINDY traditional
“Not mine at all, but some of my verses, and my changes to chorus” ~Jim Duke
CINDY HAD A GREEN EYE, THE OTHER EYE WAS BROWN
GREEN EYE SEEN THE COUNTRY SIDE, THE OTHER EYE SEEN THE TOWN

GET ALONG HOME HOME CINDY GET ALONG HOME
GET ALONG HOME HOME CINDY SING A SWINGING SONG

CINDY HAS A LONG LEG, THE OTHER LEG WAS SHORT
THE LONG LEG HELD A GALLON, THE OTHER LEG A QUART

CINDY HAD A LITTLE BROWN JUG, THE OTHER JUG WAS WHITE
DRINK THE BROWN JUG BY DAY, THE WHITE JUG BY NIGHT

CINDY HAD A GOOD EAR, THE OTHER EAR WAS TIN,
THE GOOD EAR HEARD DIVINITY, THE BAD ONE ONLY SIN

WISH I HAD A NEEDLE AND THREAD, WISH THAT I COULD SEW
I’D SEW MYSELF TO HER SHIRTTAIL AND DOWN THE ROAD WE’D GO

WISH I WAS AN APPLE, HANGING ON THE TREE
EVER TIME THAT CINDY PASS, SHE’D TAKE A BITE OF ME

I WISH SHE WERE A HORSEFLY AND ME A YOUNG GRAY STUD
I’D LET THAT CINDY BITE ME, AND NIP MY GROWING BUD

THE FIVE-LINED SKINK
(Parody on Burl Ives Blue Tail Fly)

I’LL BETCHA THAT YOU’D NEVER THINK
TODAY YOU`D MEET THE BLUE-TAIL SKINK
BUT I AM TELLIN, I’LL BETCHA HELEN
WILL WINK AND BLINK AND FIND YOUR SKINK.

CHORUS:: Ha, ha, ha; here we be
the blue tail skink and you and me
I’m singing corn, but I don’t care
The skink done gone away

THE SKINK IS AN INSECTIVORE
EATING BUGS AND LITTLE MORE
SHE HELPS KEEP DOWN OUR FLIES AND FLEAS
HELPS CONTROL A LOT OF THESE

BLUE TAIL SKINK HIDIN’ IN THE ROCK
SHE DON’T NEED NO LOLLYPOP
EATING BUGS AND FLEAS AND FLIES
QUICKER’N YOU CAN BAT YOUR EYES

DO YOU THINK A SKINK CAN THINK?
THEN THINK ABOUT THAT TAIL OF BLUE!
SHOULD OUR SNAKE GRAB THAT TAIL OF BLUE
THE SKINK SHEDS IT: “I FOOLED YOU”

DON’T THINK THEY STINK, THE BLUE-TAIL SKINK
CAN CATCH A FLY IN JUST A WINK
MORE THAN MOST FOLK REALLY THINK
WE’D BETTER THANK THE BLUE TAIL SKINK

five-lined skink

five-lined skink

GREEN GARDEN SONG
PARODY ON JAMES TAYLOR’S FIRE AND RAIN lyrics by Jim Duke

The garden’s seen the sun and the garden’s seen the rain
Garden’s lotta fun, sometimes a little pain;
The garden is a soulmate, got a soul unto itself
Can help you resonate, help you get back to health

The garden always smiles but sometimes some plant dies
Some plants last awhile, and some too quickly die
Some flower in the spring, some flower in the fall
Each does its magic thing, to make us all recall

Wrote this song out on the green Don’t know who to send it too
So knowing what I meant to mean Looked up and sang it to the blue
The garden sometimes sings, a million or more things
And the blue sky smiling down, makes a smile out of a frown

We saw you yesterday, but you left us all today
Crying here alone, with you so damn far gone
Your soul still carries on for those of us you’ve known
A big bag of rain, not to see you again.

And our eyes spout the rain, not to hear you again
Chorus: Lord, we’ve known some hard times too
Lots of bad and good, that we’ve been thru
Yes we’ve shared the sunshine and the rain
But I feared I’d not see spring again
Spring always comes again, to dancers in the rain

GREEN IS MY TEMPLE

Went down to the creek,

Acorus calamus - sweetflag in flower

Acorus calamus – sweetflag in flower

Looking for the mystique
grandpa knew
The creek done run dry
And the weeds were knee high
It’s true
that I know;
The sweetflag was green
Jus’ like my daddy seen
years ago.
The goldenseal grew
With a bloodroot or two,
up the slope!
And the ginseng displayed
All its medicine made,
there’s still hope!

OUR WAYS HAVE GONE ‘WAY!

Sanguinaria canadensis - bloodroot

Sanguinaria canadensis – bloodroot

WHAT PRAYER DO WE PRAY?
IT’S SAD WHAT I SAY!
OUR WAYS HAVE GONE ‘WAY!

THE GREEN IS STILL THERE,
LET GREEN BE OUR PRAYER;
WITH GREEN EVERYWHERE,
`TWILL CLEAN UP THE AIR.

Lobelia cardinalis - Cardinal flower

Lobelia cardinalis – Cardinal flower

Where cattails were borders
For crystal clear waters
so blue
And the pretty wild flowers
Sorta recharged our powers
renew
Where the cardinal flowers
In hummingbird showers,
so bold
Where the ginsengs conceal
The good goldenseal
so gold

When my thoughts were garbled
The wood thrush sadly warbled
his song.
“Better ponder their plight,
Whippoorwill and bob white,
they’re long gone

Hydrastis canadensis - goldenseal

Hydrastis canadensis – goldenseal

In spite of my prayer,
the hawkmoth gets rarer
each year
Seeking the powers of the nocturnal flowers
so dear
Like ginseng and woodbine,
they’re on the decline.

“It’s really quite simple,
The forest’s our temple
And if you don’t care
That the forest is there,
It will end!”

Jim in the woods of Grandpa Creek

Jim down in the woods of Grandpa Creek

Went down to the river
To cry for my liver,
gone bad!
Just don’t serve a man’s needs;
it’s so sad!

There’s no use to yearnin’
There’ll be no returnin’
unless
We get the big meaning
And start out to cleaning
this mess.

Best we all do our share,

Matteuccia struthiopteris - ostrich fern fiddlehead down by Grandpa's creek

Matteuccia struthiopteris – ostrich fern fiddlehead down by Grandpa’s creek

Show that we really care
For the wood.
Come on my brothers,
Let’s change all the others
For good.

OUR WAYS HAVE GONE ‘WAY!
WHAT PRAYER DO WE PRAY?
IT’S SAD WHAT I SAY!
OUR WAYS HAVE GONE ‘WAY!

THE GREEN IS STILL THERE,
LET GREEN BE OUR PRAYER;
WITH GREEN EVERYWHERE,
TO CLEAN UP OUR AIR.

JACKASS BITTERS (Neurolaena lobata)
(Parody on Columbus Stockade; key of D) (anonpoet, 2,000)

Way down in South Belize
Montezuma brought me to my knees
Way down In Belize city
Germs done got the best of me.

CHORUS: Jackass Bitters to the Rescue
How I really count on you
In my heart, I know you’ll heal me
Modulate my misery

You can try a Bitters Binge,
When Montezuma seeks revenge.
If you sip it like vermouth,
Cures diabetes, that’s the truth

Yeast and lice and all them critters
Kill-em all with Jackass Bitters
And if you are, the feast of yeast,
Jackass bitters kills the beast

If you get lice, in paradise
Old jackass is kinda nice.
Should malaria get you down
Old jackass will bring you ‘round
. . . .Belize, ca 2000

Jackass bitters - Neurolaena lobata

Jackass bitters – Neurolaena lobata

MOUNTAIN DEW
song composed by Bascom Lamar Lunsford.
DOWN THE ROAD HERE FROM ME THERE’S AN OLD HOLLOW TREE, WHERE YOU LAY DOWN A DOLLER OR TWO
GO ROUND THE BEND AND YOU COME BACK AGAIN, FOR A JUG FULL OF MOUNTAIN DEW.
THY CALL IT THE OLD MOUNTAIN DEW, AND THEM THAT REFUSE IT OR FEW,
I’LL HUSH UP MY MUG IF YOU FILL UP MY JUG, WITH THAT GOOD OLD MOUNTAIN DEW
MY UNCLE NORT, HE’S SAWED OFF AND SHORT, MEASURES ABOUT FOUR FOOT TWO
BUT HE ACTS LIKE A GIANT WHEN YOU GIVE HIM A PINT, OF THAT GOOD OLD MOUNTAIN DEW
MY AUNT JUNE BROUGHT SOME BRAND NEW PERFUME, WHICH HAD SUCH A SWEET SMELLING PHEW
TO HER SURPRISE WHEN SHE HAD IT ANALYZED, WEREN’T NOTHING BUT MOUNTAIN DEW

GFG mountain dew prepared by Marc Williams

OLD BAY by an old salt

 the old salt and old bay

the old salt and old bay

HEY HEY; OLD BAY;
CAN YOU REALLY KEEP ARTHRITIS AWAY?
THE SPICES THAT YOU USE ; CAN CURB ALL MY COX’2S
GOOD OLE BOYS, WE CAN REJOICE, IN GOOD OLD BAY.

THE FIRST THING THAT YOU NEED,
IS SOME SALTED CEL’RY SEED.
THEN THE MUSTARD`S CURCUMIN
WITH RED PEPPER’S CAPSAICIN.
CAPSAICIN REALLY ROCKS,
EQUIPOTENT WITH VIOXX,
AND BLACK PEPPER’S PIPERINE
HELPS THE UPTAKE OF CURCUMIN.

AND THE LAUREL IN THE MIX (BAY LEAF THAT IS)

Curcuma longa - turmeric roots

Curcuma longa – turmeric roots

OF COX-2’Is , COUNT THEM, SIX!!!!!!
CLOVES CAN JOIN THEM ALL,
WITH CLOVE OIL OR EUGENOL.
AND THEN THERE’S THE ALLSPICE,
SORTA’ LIKE THE OLD SPICE;
AND GINGER TOPS ‘EM ALL
FOR GINGEROLS AND SHOGAOL.

AND MACE HAS KAEMPFEROL
ALONG WITH EUGENOL;
CARDAMOM AND CINNAMON
CAN STOP THE PAIN AGAIN.
A BIT MILDER AND MEEKER
IS MY FAV’RITE PAPRIKA;
SOME PEOPLE SAY CAYENNE
MIGHT EVEN KEEP YOU THIN.

OLD BAY; PRAY SAY!
CAN YOU REALLY KEEP ARTHRITIS AWAY?
THE SPICES THAT YOU USE CAN CURB ALL MY COX’2S;
GOOD OLE BOYS, WE CAN REJOICE, IN GOOD OLD BAY.

HEY, HEY; OLD BAY
YOU ENRICH MY EVERY LIVIN’ DAY
YOU’RE THE SPICE I ALWAYS USE, IN ALL MY SOUPS AND STEWS
OLD BAY, LET US PRAY, SAVE CHESAPEAKE BAY

 CHESAPEAKE HIDEAWAY
by Jim Duke
IF YOU LIVE DOWN CLOSE TO SHORE

Chesapeake bay

Chesapeake Bay

YOU KNOW ‘BOUT THEM CRABS GALORE
AND YOU PROB’LY HEARD US BOAST
BOUT OUR CHES’PEAKE OYSTER ROAST
AND YOU HAVEN’T HAD A FEAST
‘TIL YOU’VE EATEN CHRISTMAS GEESE
OR ROAST DUCK FOR YOUR THANKSGIVING
WITH OLDBAY FOR CHES’PEAKE LIVING

MOVED AWAY FROM CHES’PEAKE BAY
STILL REGRET IT TO THIS DAY
OLDBAY CRABSOUP RECIPES
OTHER CHES’PEAKE MEMORIES
AND IT HURTS ME EVEN MORE
TO RECALL THE EASTERN SHORE
HUNTIN’ DUCKS WITH GOOD OLE BOYS
WHO HAD CARVED THEIR OWN DECOYS

WHEN I FEEL LIKE I AM LOSIN’

Rudbeckia hirta - black-eyed susan

Rudbeckia hirta – black-eyed susan

I THINK BACK ON BLACK EYED SUSAN
SHE BELONGS, IT’S CLEAR TO SEE
BOTH TO MARYLAND AND ME
BLACK EYED SUSAN’S FLASH OF GOLD
BRINGS BACK TALES I NEVER TOLD
LAZY DAYS IN SUNSHINE WRAPPED
COUNTING CRABS THAT WE HAD TRAPPED

THAT BLACK EYE IN THE MIDDLE
MAKES A GUITAR WANT TO FIDDLE
AND THE GLINT OF GOLD OUTSIDE
FILLS A MAR’LAND MAN WITH PRIDE
WHEN THE ROCKRISH HIT THE RIVER
MAKES A FISHERMAN TO QUIVER
WHEN THE CROPPIES SCOUT THE SHOAL
MAR’LAND MAN, HE LOSE CONTROL

CHORUS: I THANK GOD MOST EV’RY DAY
FOR MY CHES’PEAKE HIDEAWAY
YOU CAN STASH MY MONEY ‘WAY
BUT DON’T TRASH MY CHES’PEAKE BAY.

VITAPHILIA (LOVIN’ LONGEVITY?)

Photo by Dr, Joe Kirkbride, USDA, who crossed from the Atlantic (Boacas del Toro) to the Pacific (Chiriqui) in Panama, with Jim cirra 1966. Joe and Jim survived but a Panama mule carrying part of the collecting gear failed to survive. Many rare specimens were collected and are now preserved at the herbarium at the Missouri Botanical Garden.

Photo by Dr, Joe Kirkbride, USDA, who crossed from the Atlantic (Boacas del Toro) to the Pacific (Chiriqui) in Panama, with Jim circa 1966. Joe and Jim survived but a Panama mule carrying part of the collecting gear failed to survive. Many rare specimens were collected and are now preserved at the herbarium at the Missouri Botanical Garden.

I STARTED MY CHARMED LIFE IN ALABAM,
THEN CAROLINA, THEN THE WORLD, NOW MARYLAND
FEW OTHERS ARE AS LUCKY AS I AM.
MY THANKS, I’VE BEEN A LUCKY MAN,

CHORUS: COUNTRY, CLASSIC ALL BELONG
MAKIN MUSIC MANY YEARS
JUST CAN’T SING THIS REAL SAD SONG
MAKES MY EYES CHOKE UP WITH TEARS

MY MOM WAS KINDA SCHIZOPHRENIC
WORRY-WORTING ALL THE DAY
WORRY CAN BE SCHIZOGENIC
BEST TO HIDE YOUR WORRY’S ’WAY

MY CHARMED EXISTENCE ALL THE WAY
THANK HEAVEN’S ALL I WANT TO SAY
FEAR I’VE FORGOTTEN HOW TO PRAY
THANKS TO THOSE ALONG MY WAYWARD WAY

MOM AND GRANMA, THEY LIVED A HUNDRED YEARS
NOT SURE I WANNA LIVE THAT LONG
NOW MY MEM’RIE’S WRESTLIN’ WITH MY TEARS
SADLY SINGING MY SENILE SENIOR SONG

CHORUS: COUNTRY, CLASSIC ALL BELONGcanopy trail explorama
MAKIN MUSIC MANY YEARS
JUST CAN’T SING THIS REAL SAD SONG
MAKES ME SHED TOO DAMNED MANY TEARS

AMAZONIA’S SUCH A SWINGING TURN ON
THANK GOD I TOOK MY GENE POOL THERE
I THANK ACEER, ABC, AND EVERYONE
WITH MY ARDENT AMAZON PRAYER

“MAY AMAZONIA OUTLIVE THE GFG “(GREEN FARMACY GARDEN)
“ MAY ACEER LIVE ON LIKE ABC”
“SAVIN’ AMAZONIA AND ITS MAJESTRY

IMG_0404 rosemary gladstar creme de mentia

Rosemary Gladstar sips on Creme de’ Mentia made with many of the mints  picked out of the Green Farmacy  Garden

CREME DE’ MENTIA
by Jim Duke

NOT SURE I CAN ENDURE IT
ALZHEIMER’S WHAT I GOT
I’D TELL YOU HOW TO CURE IT
BUT YOU GOT IT, I FORGOT

I CANNOT STOOP TO CENSURE
ALCOHOLIC ADVENTURE
CAN IT CLEAN MY DENTURE
AS IT CREAMS MY DEMENTIA

I’VE LONG HAD A ROMANCE, WITH THE HERB OF REMEMBRANCE;
ROSEMARY HELPS OLD TIMERS SLOW ALZHEIMER’S.
JUST SMELLED OR JUST INHALED, IN THE TUB OR IN A RUB,
HELPS THE CHOLINE TO DO IT’S MEM’RY THING.

ANOTHER HERB YOU MUST SEE, IS THE AYURVEDIC TULSI (HOLY BASIL)
IT SMELLS BEST, MUCH BETTER THAN THE REST.
IT PROB’LY WON’T SURPRISE YOU BUT IT’S SACRED TO THE HINDU;
HELPS AMNESIA AND DEMENTIA, ‘TIS QUITE TRUE!

IF YOU WANT YOUR STORMS TO CALM, SNIFF GOOD OLE LEMON BALM
IT SURE BEATS COUNTIN SHEEP TO HELP YOU FALL ASLEEP
CAN INCREASE CEREBRAL CHOLINE, DOIN’ NOTHIN” BUT’ INHALING
CULINARY ADVENTURE, CAN HELP DERAIL DEMENTIA

THE SAGE WILL USE THE SAGE, TO DECELERATE THEIR AGE

Salvia officinalis - sage

Salvia officinalis – sage

AND IT CAN NUMB THE JAWS OF PAINFUL MENOPAUSE
AND HELP TO DRY THE SMILES, OF SALIVATING SENILES
BUT HELPS OLD TIMERS WITH ADVANCING ALZHEIMERS

AND WHILE WE SING OF MINT, LETS PONDER PEPPERMINT
OR WE COULD SEEK THE SCENT, COL. SANDER’S SPEARMINT
MINT JULEP OR MOJITOS, CAN KEEP AWAY MOSQUITOES
THEY TOO HELP TO CHASE, THE CHOLINESTERASE,

LIKE MOST ITALIANOS, I LOVE MY OREGANOS,
THE OIL IT WILL TREAT MOST EVERYTHING
MAKES A PIZZA TASTE MUCH BETTER, MAKES A DRY DREAM SOMEWHAT WETTER
MARJORAM’S BEST IN FACT, TO CURB abETA PLAQUE

IF YOU”RE ROLLIN’ OFF YOUR ROCKER; BEST SEEK abETA-BLOCKERIMG_0831 easiest to read
THEY CAN FIGHT BACK BETA AMYLOID PLAQUE
GINGER, MARJORAM, CURCUMIN, CAN DO AMYLOID IN
GET YOU BACK ON TRACK; TO SURVIVE THE PLAQUE ATTACK

XXX But now my dementia is deflated, alcohol’s contraindicated XXX !!!.

I COME TO THE GARDEN ALONE
Text by: Charles Austin Miles –1913 Public Domain

I come to the garden alone
while the dew is still on the roses,
and the voice I hear falling on my ear,
the Son of God discloses.

Refrain:
And he walks with me, and he talks with me,
and he tells me I am his own;
and the joy we share as we tary there,
none other has ever known.

He speaks, and the sound of his voice
is so sweet the birds hush their singing,
and the melody that he gave to me
within my heart is ringing.
(Refrain)

IMG_2459 jim alone____________________________________________________________________

Jim is roasted, toasted, serenaded and serenades:IMG_7839 mark blumenthal cropped

Dr. Roger Mustalish, President of ACEER

Dr. Roger Mustalish, President of ACEER

Howard County Dump with Marcus, Mike, Jim, John, Julia, Josh, Sara and Eric

Howard County Dump with Marcus, Mike, Jim, John, Julia, Josh, Sara and Eric
Jim's brother Dan gives Jim "hell"

Jim’s brother Dan gives Jim “hell”

IMG_7848 peggy susan eric jim ACEER award

Peggy Duke (center) along with Susan (left) enjoy brother Dan’s roast

Celia Larson, Jim's daughter, who traveled three times with Jim to the Amazon.

Celia Larsen, Jim’s daughter, traveled three times with Jim to the Amazon.

Mariashi Band serenades with Jim on bass and Olivia Newton John as the paparazzi

Mariashi Band serenades with Jim on bass and Olivia Newton John as the paparazzi

0059280-R1-041-19

OH AXEMAN UNKIND, YOU ARE BLOWING MY MIND!
CAMU-CAMU AND BRAZILNUT, THEY CAN HELP FILL YOUR GUT.
BUT YEAR AFTER YEAR, ONCE THE FOREST IS CLEAR,
YOU’LL HAVE LESS AND LESS FOOD, AND YOU’LL RUN OUT OF WOOD.

0059280-R4-042-19A

Victoria amazonica, Giant Amazon Water Lily

0059280-R4-054-25A

MOMMA WON’T YOU TAKE ME TO THE PRIMARY FOREST
ON THE AMAZON RIVER WHERE PARADISE LIES?
I’M SORRY MY DAUGHTER, BUT I DON’T THINK I OUGHTA‘
WE’VE WAITED TOO LONG, NOW THE FOREST IS GONE!

Thanks to Jim Duke and organizations such as ACEER, many of us have been educated on the necessity to keep the Amazon rainforest alive, and it is our hope that the forest will always remain Paradise Found.

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Things Go Better With Bitters

Article published in Pathways Magazine Winter 2012-13 issue:

By Jim Duke and Helen Lowe Metzman

Jim’s Rant on Bitters:

Where once the green trees were kissed by the sunrise
There’s a highrise ‘tween the sunrise and the smog in your eyes.
All the other flow’rs got twisted by the herbicide squirt;
The last dandelion’s laughing, deserved bitter dessert. (HerbAlBum, 1985)

IMG_0303 taraxacum officinale dandelionPerhaps one of the healthiest recommendations in the Bible is to “eat with bitter herbs,” anticipating by a couple millennia the tardy appeal by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to eat your leafy veggies. Helen and I are going to make that suggestion also. The bitter herbs of the Bible have variously been interpreted to include chicory, dandelion, endive, lettuce, sheep sorrel, watercress, and possibly fenugreek. Some have even suggested rocket, which I find more bitter than the endive, lettuce, and watercress.

In the Green Farmacy Garden, we have a more exhaustive list of bitters—some weak, some strong, and many of them invasive weeds, but free to us for the harvesting. They are: air potato, alfalfa, aloe, American and Asian ginseng, angelica, artichoke, asparagus, baical skullcap, balmony, barberry, bayleaf, bearberry, blackberry lily, black cohosh, blessed thistle, blue cohosh, boneset, bottle gourd, burdock, cascara sagrada, chickweed, chicory, Chinese foxglove, corydalis, cranberry, creat, dandelion, dogwood, dong quai, Dutchman’s breeches, Echinacea, eclipta, eleuthero, ephedra, fennel, feverfew, forsythia, fo ti, fringetree, gotu kola, goldenseal, goldthread, hawthorn, hops, horehound, horseradish, horsetail, huang qi, Indian valerian, juniper, lesser periwinkle, licorice, magnolia vine, mate, mayapple, milkthistle, mugwort, nandina, neem, nettle, Oregon grape, pawpaw, phyllanthus, pot marigold, redroot sage, rhubarb, rose-of-Sharon, rue, saw palmetto, self-heal, shatavari, sida, skullcap, southernwood, sweet annie, tansy, tulip tree, tulsi, turmeric, vervain, watercress, wild yam, willow, wolfberry, woodruff, wormwood, yellow dock, yellowroot, yerbasanta, and yucca.

All of these bitter herbs contain many important nutraceuticals, which primitive and modern agriculture tend to select against, as seeds of more palatable variants are saved and more bitter ones discarded. In other words, modern agriculture selectively breeds to diminish the bitter nutraceuticals, making them less bitter and tastier, but thereby also reducing their medicinal value. I suspect that a half cup a day each of seven of these bitter herbs would lower the incidence of many diseases of modern man, some by as much as seven-fold. Instead of following the NIH directive, maybe you should strive for seven veggies a day, maybe even seven bitter herbs.

For example, among the many diseases for which the maligned dandelion is useful are some of the most advertised ailments of Americans. I will wager that if you have the much-touted acid-indigestion, dyspepsia, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and heartburn and/or indigestion, dandelion can help. But I will also wager that if you go to your doctor, he or she is more liable to prescribe such things as (alphabetically from A to Z): Alka-Seltzer™, Axid®, Bromo-Seltzer, Duracid™, Gaviscon®, Maalox®, Mylanta®, Nexium®, Pepcid®, protein-pump-inhibitors (PPIs), Prevacid®, Prilosec®, Rolaids®, Tagamet®, Tums®, and Zantac®.

These medicines are all mentioned in a great book I am tardily reviewing, Why Stomach Acid is Good for You, by Jonathan V. Wright, MD, and Lane Lanard, PhD (2001). Most of them are also mentioned in Consumer Reports on Health (CRH) (24, No. 7, 2012). The CRH is usually a bit more conventional than Jonathan Wright, a great holistic physician, and me, a mediocre botanist. Under the title, Soothe the Fire in Your Belly, CRH has a picture that looks like a hot dog on fire (one item on Wright’s list responsible for firing up acid indigestion). CRH tells us that the average person with GERD spends an estimated $3,355 a year on medications, etc., to help control symptoms—that’s nearly ten dollars a day! And more than 50 million U.S. citizens experience heartburn every month, with about 15 million enduring daily flare-ups.

One prescription drug proton-pump-inhibitor (PPI), Nexium®, earned more than $6 billion in 2011. CRH admits that PPIs are overused, overly hyped by Big Pharma. According to CRH, “studies have found that up to 70% of people who take a PPI may not have GERD and may not need such a potent, expensive medication” (CRH, p. 5). CRH enumerates some serious side effects of PPI’s, including bone fractures, Clostridium, diarrhea, gastrointestinal problems, muscle spasms, osteoporosis, and pneumonia.

Unlike CHR, Wright and Lane, Helen and I suggest cheap bitters might do more good for the average American, especially older Americans. In their book, Wright and Lane list barberry, caraway, dandelion, fennel, gentian, ginger, globe artichoke, milk thistle, peppermint, the famous wormwood, and yellow dock as the most common bitters used in western medicine. We have them all in the Green Farmacy Garden, except the gentian. We have always fared badly with gentian, even when we started with nursery-bought plants. But we have the king of the bitters, creat (Andrographis paniculata). It is time we harvested it before frost and get our bitters ready for the window, and for those days when it is too cold to harvest the ubiquitous dandelion. Either dandelion or creat could keep our digestive juices flowing.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Andrographis paniculata, Creat, flower

In Wright’s Takoma clinic, over 90% of the people over 40 complaining of gas, heartburn, and indigestion were carefully tested for acid and were found low, not high, in stomach acid. On p. 124, Wright rephrases that as “more than 9 out of ten of us who suffer from so-called ‘acid indigestion’ actually have lack of acid indigestion.” Yet Americans and their allopaths foolishly treat lack of acid with antacids.

Hyperacidity, or High Acid, is much overhyped in the press; hypoacidity, or Low Acid, which probably more of us have, is scarcely mentioned. Dandelion as a bitter can help in many cases of hypoacidity, more often the culprit in older Americans. The allopaths do not know, as do I, that dandelion has level 2 evidence for many indications, not just indigestion (dyspepsia), the subject of today’s rant. (Note: Jim Duke assigns a rating score of level 2, “if the aqueous extract, ethanolic extract, or decoction or tea derived from the plant has been shown to have the activity, or to support the indication in clinical trials.”) Dandelion is probably most familiar of the many bitters that can help in indigestion. It is approved in Europe also for bladder stones, bronchitis, gas, hepatitis, kidney stones, urinary difficulties, and lack of appetite.

My friends Simon Mill and Kerry Bone have a detailed account of bitters in their excellent book, Principles of Herbal Pharmacology (2000), which notes, “Bitter drinks taken before meals are still called apertifs.” Many Europeans believe, with good reason, that bitters are a cheap and safe corrective for indigestion. Here in the Green Farmacy Garden, I myself had not gotten into the European school of thought. But Helen, having been exposed to British Simon Mills and Australian Kerry Bones, and now me through osmosis here in the garden, would recommend a dash of bitters with every meal to prevent dyspepsia. I have on my desk as I write this half a jar of Angostura bitters. My wife Peggy’s mother, Hazel Wetmore Kessler, had a strongly British air about her. Hazel lived with us her last years, and while she was alive, instead of having a dash of bitters with each meal, she had a dash of angosturas with her whiskey sour. That was at our Happy Hour preceding dinner. I now have a dash of Angostura with my gin and ginger ale. (Ginger is also viewed as a bitter.)

The Benefits of Bitters: A Look at the Literature

Many Europeans believe that bitters work by stimulating the digestive juices—bile, gastrin, HCl, pepsin, pancreatic enzymes, even saliva—and not by turning them off as most over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription drugs do. Unlike the OTC’s, you do not even have to consume the bitter to have this effect. Science has proven that in some people, some bitters need only to be tasted to get those juices flowing.

The more I looked into the literature, searching for solutions to my own litany of conditions, the more I have finally become convinced. I have been a high fiber freak for decades, participating in at least five dietary fibers studies at the USDA in Beltsville. Two of the study leaders warned me that I might be stripping myself of minerals. Wright and Lane specifically mention yet another USDA researcher, Elaine T Champagne, PhD, stressing the dangers of hypoacidity, inadequate pepsin production, and poor protein metabolism. Champagne adds that taking most of those commercial antacids named earlier in this rant ultimately generates the same problem. The bitter truth is bitters can prevent many if not all of those problems from which I am probably suffering.

Historically, many American Indians, e.g. Apache, Cherokee, Iroquois, Kiowa, Malecite, Menominee, Meskwaki, Micmac, Mohegan, Ojibwa, etc., ate dandelion, often boiled as a potherb. The Winnebago make wine from the flowers when someone marries. The tender leaves are valued worldwide as a potherb. Dandelion is sometimes eaten raw in salads, but often blanched like endive and used as a green; it is frequently cooked with salt pork or bacon to enhance the flavor. Roots are sometimes pickled. Ground roasted roots are used for dandelion coffee, and sometimes are mixed with real coffee. Redneck me, I like the Potawatomi recipe, i.e., cooked with vinegar and maybe with a little pork or venison.

I also like the title “Dyspepsi Kola” used in my best book The Green Pharmacy (Rodale Press, 1997), which consists of one dash each, as available, of angelica, anise, chamomile, coriander, fennel, ginger, rosemary and turmeric, and two dashes marjoram and peppermint. Today I would add licorice, having relieved my dyspepsia several times with DGL (deglycyrrhinated licorice). But when I wrote that book, I was not aware of the multitude of health benefits of the classical bitters.

In Herbal Drugstore (Rodale Press; White, et. al., 2000) Linda White, MD, says, “You have to eat the bitter to get the digestive effect.” Not everyone would agree with this; some say all you need do is taste. However, Dr. White, like most Europeans, suggests a bitter containing gentian, mugwort or wormwood 3 times a day before meals, 1/8-1/2 teaspoon or a full dropper. She also suggests bitters to boost overall energy, improve endocrine function, and improve digestive functioning, even hypothyroidism.

In Clinical Botanical Medicine (2003), authors Yarnell, Abascal and Hooper recommend bitters for depression among the elderly. Gut function declines with age. Many over 50 have low levels of gastric acidity. They quote famed German physician, Rudolph Weiss, who found the effects of bitters increases with prolonged usage. Weiss claimed that bitters would neutralize the negative influence of chronic stress on digestion partially by stimulating the liver. Their table for choosing a bitter herb lists gentian first, then dandelion, followed by (in order) wormwood, Oregon grape, swertia, yarrow, ginger, and horehound.

I suspect if you ask 100 herbalists for their favorite bitters, you will end up with an even longer list. I shall resume chewing my simple mugwort as another approach to bitters; or sip on Helen’s very interesting complex of yellowroot, goldenseal, wormwood, dandelion leaf, dandelion root, chicory, boneset, feverfew, skullcap, fennel seed, anise hyssop, sweet cicely, hops, and brandy.

Chicory, Cichorium intybus

Chicory, Cichorium intybus

Another great book I should mention is Botanical Medicine for Women’s Health (2010), written by a friend I admire, Aviva Romm, MD. She also happens to be, first, an herbalist, second, a midwife, and finally, a physician. Dr. Romm cites the usual bitters yarrow, wormwood, mugwort, barberry, centaury, boneset, gentian, goldenseal, horehound, chamomile, rue, tansy and last dandelion (They were ordinated by scientific names and dandelion was alphabetically last, not necessarily last.) Perhaps all of these share the beneficial activities she (and many other authors, including us) cites for bitters:

• Stimulate appetite;

• Stimulate release of digestive juices from pancreas, duodenum, and liver;

• Stimulate flow of bile, aiding in liver detox;

• Help regulate pancreatic secretions that regulate blood sugar, insulin and glucagon; and

• Help the gut wall repair damage.

Having accentuated the positives, Aviva also wisely discusses the cautions of counter indications, including gallbladder disease, gastritis, GERD (with which I have been diagnosed, rightly or wrongly), hiatal hernia, kidney stones, peptic ulcer, and pregnancy.goldenseal bloom

Hydrastis canadensis, Goldenseal roots

Hydrastis canadensis, Goldenseal flower above, roots below

Before Beginning With Bitters…

Because of the possibility of counter indications, I appreciate Wright’s cautious approach (p. 155) to identify first the cause of the problem before beginning with bitters. He tabulates some common causes, listed here, and to which I’ve added a few also suggested by the 2012 issue of the CRH as no-no’s. They are: alcohol; allergens; carbonated beverages; chocolate; citrus fruits and juices; coffee; fats; fried food (from CRH); garlic (CRH); mints (although I disagree; I think peppermint settles my upset stomach); onions (which I love); pizza (which I love; CRH); salsa (another love; CRH); spicy foods (more favorites) and tomato based foods (uh oh, my absolute favorites). There are so many things on this hit list that I love, I will try to moderate them and move on to bitters therapy without giving up my favorite foods.

If, after identifying the cause of your problem, eliminating potential causes does not do the trick, Wright and Lane suggest trying bitters, saying, “It is always preferable to try bitters before moving on to acid replacement therapy with HCL and pepsin.” If the bitters do not help, you could also try 1-2 tsp cider vinegar or lemon juice, perhaps with a little water, near the beginning of a meal. Then they suggest proteolytic enzymes. If you are still failing to help yourself, try to get an accurate measurement of your gastric acidity levels, which is, admittedly, easier said than done. A simple test with bicarbonate of soda, repeated three mornings in a row, suggested I was hypoacidic, just because I did not burp.

Ultimately failing with these gentle herbal approaches, it is best to see a gastroenterologist to check for serious esophageal or gastric problems. I suppose that even at age 83, I’ll do that if the bitters have not done the tricks I need. Nutritionists have advised me that for my rare and serious GERD attacks, I need proteolytic digestive enzymes like bromelain from pineapple, papain from papaya, and zingibain from ginger—a pleasant tropical, proteolytic, anti-GERD vegetarian fruit cocktail. Dr. Wright recommends non-vegetarian pancreatin after, not before, meals. All can help break the proteins down into needed amino acids.

A final rant! Those “ambulance-chasing” lawyers one sees advertising these days on TV always amuse me. Something like, “If you have taken drug X, recently reported to cause disease Y, call us right way if you have been hurt by disease Y. You may be entitled to compensation.”  And the same or another hungry law firm might say, drawing on the CRH report (p. 5), “If you have taken a PPI and experienced one or more of the following problems (bone fractures, Clostridium, diarrhea, enterosis, muscle spasms, osteoporosis, and/or pneumonia), call us right away! You may be entitled to compensation.”

Those lawyers ought to love Wright & Lane’s book, which indirectly accuses all the antacid drugs so widely advertised on TV as possibly being partially responsible for a host of conditions, including acne rosacea, Addison’s disease, aging, allergic reactions, bacterial infections, celiac disease, childhood asthma, cholera, chronic autoimmune hepatitis, depression, dermatitis, diabetes (type 1), eczema, gallbladder disease, gallstones, gastric cancer, graves disease (hyperthyroid), hepatosis, lupus erythematosus, macular degeneration, multiple sclerosis, myasthenia gravis,  osteoporosis, pernicious anemia, polymyalgia rheumatica, Reynaud’s syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, Sjogren’s syndrome, ulcerative colitis, urticaria, and vitiligo (p. 41, p. 103). Conversely, and still somewhat facetiously, dandelions (and/or other bitters) may help prevent such, trivially or significantly.

Bitters taken three times a day
Might keep your heartburn away
Cheaper than OTCs and PPIs

Taraxacum officinalis, Dandelion seed head

Taraxacum officinalis, Dandelion seed head

Bitters better than you realize.
A bitter a day
Keeps the doctor away,
A PPI a day

May put you away.

Dandelion

Twice or thrice a day
It’s worth the trying
Keep heartburn away.
~Anon. poet (the bitter end)

Additional Sound Bites On Bitters.  By Helen Lowe Metzman

Bitters are difficult to take—a bitter sorrow, a bitter winter, the bitter Jim Duke, the bitter election, the bitter pill, the bitter truth. But, as Jim Duke rants above, when it comes to stimulating digestion, bitter herbs are exactly what to take. I concur with Jim but also want to dig deeper to understand. Why are plants bitter? How do bitters work in our bodies to promote digestion? Are we in the midst of a bitter revival?

Due to their immobility, some plants protect themselves from predation by secreting unpalatable natural anti-fungal, anti-parasitic, anti-microbial and pesticidal compounds known as secondary constituents. Some of these secondary metabolites that help to deter herbivory are of a bitter flavor and classified as monoterpene iridoids, sesquiterpenes, diterpenes, triterpenes, alkaloids, and phenols. Several members of the Gentian family (Gentianaceae) and the aster family (Asteraceae) contain many of these bitter constituents. Gentian (Gentiana lutea), one of the most bitter and widely used plants in digestive bitters, contains monoterpene secoiridoid glycosides. The bitter qualities in wormwood (Artemesia absinthium), dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) and artichoke (Cynara scolymus) are from sesquiterpene lactones. Bitter alkaloids such as berberine and hydrastine are found in goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis). Hops obtain their bitterness from resin glands containing alpha acids such as humulone on the female flowers called strobiles.

As two-legged hungry omnivorous mammals, we evolved in a world filled with tempting plants. By necessity, our early ancestors discerned by trial and error what to and what not to eat. There were no field guides to edible and medicinal plants, simply self-discovery or knowledge passed from tribe to tribe. While some people learned to plump up on sweets from fruit or from proteins from nuts and seeds, some perished by ingesting harmful quantities of extremely fatal plants like poison hemlock, castor beans, or jimsonweed. But centuries ago, others learned that in the right dose and by regulation of intake, plants with bitter tastes not only warn of potential toxicity but also aid with belly aches. Thanks to Jim Duke and Steven Foster for writing the Peterson Guide to Medicinal Plants of Eastern and Central North America, so people like me, whose parents never taught us how to use plants as medicine, could learn how to differentiate between the look alike poisonous hemlock and the edible carrot.

It has been a longstanding belief that bitters must be tasted before meals to activate the salivary glands, increase appetite, and stimulate digestion. I was fortunate to receive an email from Kerry Bone containing a 2011 paper by Marco Valussi, “Functional foods with digestion-enhancing properties,” in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition (PubMed: 22010973), which shed new light on the physiology of bitters and our guts. The paper points out that when we eat plants containing bitter compounds, taste buds on the tongue and throughout the gut are notified of the potential toxins. Signals from the tongue’s bitter receptors are sent directly to the central nervous system (CNS) alerting the brain to fire the vagus nerve that innervates the gut to promote gastric secretions.

Another signal originates from human taste receptor cells, G-protein-coupled receptors, the T2Rs, located on the tongue and throughout the gut. These T2R’s, when activated, trigger enteroendocrine cells to secrete gut peptides, particularly cholecystokinin (CCK). With the release of CCK, the gut gets the message for bile secretion, gastric motility and secretion, pancreatic digestive enzymes, and a reduction of gastric emptying. The action, originating from the release of CCK, is to maximize the digestion of complex carbohydrates, essential fatty acids and vitamins, and minimize the absorption of bitter compounds. The paper suggests that since there are bitter receptors located throughout the gut lining, bitters may not need to be tasted on the tongue in order to be effective and could possibly be administered in the form of a tablet or capsule and delivered directly into the gut.

Although Jim Duke often speaks of his yin/yang valley with its yang south facing slope and its yin north facing slope, this intelligent western trained 83-year old botanist has never fully embraced the notion of plant energetics. (I must confess that I have a far greater grasp of plant energetics than Jim, but at times am still baffled by the application of the terms and usage.) Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) herbalists and many trained in the use of North American herbs view plants energetically as either yin, yang, hot, cold, dry, moist, neutral, and with tastes of salty, sweet, bitter, acrid, and sour.

Bitters are energetically considered cold, drying and yin. Simon Mills, in Out of the Earth: The Essential Book of Herbal Medicine (Viking, 1991), writes that bitters are directed by the spleen to the heart and flow downwards in the body, and help to treat “deep-seated clinical problems.” He also expresses that bitters are to “sedate, dry and to harden.” Bitters “sedate” a hot temperament as in a fiery individual or in an inflammatory health condition; bitters “dry” damp-heat in a boggy condition (think of a long lasting congestion with lots of mucus); and bitters can “harden” or “consolidate” by “improving assimilation and nourishment.” Cooling and drying bitters such as goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis), barberry (Berberis spp.) and Oregon grape (Mahonia spp.) with their alkaloids stimulate and help sluggish digestion and the healing of mucous membranes and chronic damp infections. Keep in mind that since bitters are cool energetically, in situations where the person may be cold, it is important to add warming herbs like Angelica (Angelica archangelica) and ginger (Zingiber officinale)to debilitating illnesses and digestion.

History is still in the making, and a bitter revival continues—bitters not just as a digestive aid, but also with the young and hip connoisseurs of food and beverages. Van Gogh’s famous drink of absinthe made with the bitter wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) is not only a main ingredient in vermouth and drank as an aperitif, but was also used in ancient Egypt and included in Ebers Papyrus (ca. 1550 BC) as a medicinal. As far back as two thousand years ago, Mithridates and his herbalist companion, Crateuas, are thought to have included the bitter gentian and possibly thistles in their formulas that served as antidotes for poisons. Dr. Phillipus Paracelsus first formulated the time-tested Swedish Bitters, containing up to 14 herbs, in the 1500’s. The formula was lost but eventually resurfaced in the 1800’s by the Swedish Claus Samst. The bitters went through yet a third revision in the 20th century by Austrian herbalist Maria Treben and her book, Health Through God’s Pharmacy, which highly promoted and touted them as panacea for many ailments.

The misunderstood bitter dandelion greens, despised by suburban homeowners and caricatured on TV while being sprayed with pesticides like Roundup, are now being sold at exorbitant prices in health food stores and local chain groceries. Chicory (Cichorium intybus) roots roasted and ground make a delicious alternative to coffee (minus the caffeine) and are used as a bitter beverage after meals. Coffee (Coffea arabica) is not just a wake-up beverage, but also a digestive aid for foods and a primary medicinal in the Middle East and throughout the world. Europeans have had longstanding culinary practice of eating a salad with endive or arugula and taking a little squirt of bitters with their cocktails before meals to stimulate digestion.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Humulus lupulus, Hops strobiles

Hops (Humulus lupulus) are a bitter relaxant found in beer and also in sleep formulas. Gentian (Gentiana lutea), found in the high Alps, is one of the most popular of classic bitter remedies and an essential ingredient found in many bitter formulas like Angostura. Urban Moonshine, made in Vermont, has produced delicious bitter digestive aids made with the addition of citrus and maple syrup. Boston Bittahs – Bittermens are formulated with citrus, chamomile and more citrus. Dr. Adam’s Boker’s Bitters, originally created in 1828, has been reformulated and released in August 2009. Bitter Truth Bitters, with their myriad flavors, are a retro apothecary of cocktail tonics. Herb Pharm’s Digestive Bitters dependably are found on the shelves of most health food stores. Sweetgrass Farm Winery & Distillery in Maine sells Bitter Blueberry to accompany bitter drinks, bitter humor and bitter cold.

We, at the Green Farmacy Garden, have gotten onto the bitters’ bandwagon. This past autumn, in anticipation of a class focusing on this subject, we made a brew of “Dr. Duke’s Bitters” to serve to the students and to take before our noontime soup. The brew’s ingredients include goldenseal root, yellowroot, dandelion root, chicory root, wormwood leaf, dandelion leaf, hop strobiles, boneset leaf, feverfew leaf, skullcap leaf, fennel seed, anise hyssop leaf, sweet cicely root and brandy. Come by the garden, visit these bitter herbs, and take a sip of this concoction. We guarantee this is a very easy bitter to swallow.

IMG_1881 jim duke bitter

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The HerbalBum, HerbAlbum, and Basilio Day

From the HerbAlbum:

Basilio Day

A memorable Basilio Day. Oct. 10, 2012, has come and gone. I already miss the warm feelings, on our first day of frost. Only a handful of my Amazonian friends will know what the blazes is Basilio Day. Basilio Day commemorates Basilio Sahuarico, one of the many excellent guides who has led thousands of American ecotourists thru the forests surrounding four remarkable camps near Iquitos Peru; Ceiba Tops, Explorama, Explornapo (where they have a labeled medicinal plants garden called the ReNuPeru Garden) and the most remote camp, near the very impressive Canopy Walkway.

Basilio in the Peruvian Amazon. Photo by Anna Wallis 2012

Since 1991, I have spent more that 50 weeks visiting these camps with somewhere between 7 and 108 tourists thirsty for knowledge about the flora and fauna of Amazonias. I was there to help them sort out identifications and uses, especially medicinal uses of the flora . Most of my tours specifically requested Basilio as our guide, not only because of his knowledge of the Flora and Fauna, but because of his musical and organizational talent, rounding up local musicians playing and singing various Andean and Amazonian and some North American tunes. His singing is phenomenal and brightened many of the nights at the remote camps, where some novice tourists may have felt a little homesickness. Not me. Since my first trip in 1991, when I discarded the cervical collar (for cervical problems, alias slipped disks), I have always felt at home on these camps, more so than anywhere else in the world, except my current home of 42 years, at the Green Farmacy Garden in Fulton.

Basilio in the Amazon at Explorama. Photo by Jess Holt. 2012.

Surely thousands of gringo tourists have thousands of photos and recordings of Basilio and his great tenor voice. Thanks to the generosity of Dr. Andrea Ottesen, now with the FDA, Basilio was able to come to the Green Farmacy Garden and reciprocate, filming the quaint culture of the gringos, their music, their flora and fauna. But thanks to my love for Mexican mariachi music, we got him to two excellent local Mexican restaurants. First we took him to La Palapa , only one mile from here as the crow flies. On the 5th of every month, they have a full fledged mariachi band to celebrate the famed cinco de Mayo festival, independence day of the Mexicans. They had the usual small Mexican guitar, a regular guitar, the overgrown guitarron (almost a hybrid between the upright bass and the guitar,) and the trumpet. Basilio filmed the whole show, concentrating on the guitarron. Years ago, Helen Lowe Metzman, director of the Green Farmacy Garden, had mailed Basilio with specification details of a guitarron. Basilio’s uncle in Lima fashioned and made a guitarron, which I played more than once on ecotours after Basilio’s uncle completed it. That guitarron on which the specifications were measured belonged to my good friend Bruce Casteel, a great classical artist himself. He plays every Sunday night at a local Tapas Restaurant, Rana Azul, like the famed blue frogs of Latin America. That puts Peggy and me in a quandary every Sunday night when we have to choose between dining tapas-style to Bruce’s classical guitar of going mariachi at La Azteca. But this Sunday with Basilio here, we opted for La Azteca, where Basilio not only filmed the mariachi duo, Los Trovadores (Salvador Rivas Najera from Salvador and Rogelio Valdes from Mexico). Yes, Sunday Oct. 7, Andrea and Peggy and I took Basilio to hear Los Trovadores.. They were as always good; but they benevolently and generously acceded to Basilio’s request. They let Basilio sing along with them as a group we jokingly called El Trio Los Panchos (suggestive of another long famous Latino trio). But the Trovadores, and patrons of the restaurant, specially with my table, the management and waiters and waitresses, were all delighted with the trio. The management agreed to cater food for 30 for Oct. 10, Basilio Day. Coincidentally, Helen Lowe and Eric Metzman, himself also a good guitarist, came from another room in the Restaurant, to listen to Basilio singing with the Trovadores. Helen and Eric were there with both their mothers and fathers, and Helen’s daughter, Elana, who flew to Thailand on Oct. 9. Also Helen’s niece Elise. We captured some of that Sunday Night mariachi music on film which Basilio can take back to Peru..

For Basilio Day, proper, we had Bruce Casteel playing classical guitar on the patio, all the while being filmed by the 3-person videographer team Stephen Dignan drove down from New York City. Stephen plans to publish on-demand with Apple applications a mini book we are working on, an illustrated booklet on wild flowers of Catoctin State Park. Turns out Peggy and I helped my son John Carl and his wife Sandy buy a home near the park about twenty years back.  John and his son, John James, came over to help clean up the garden for Basilio Day and to jam with Basilio when we moved into country music. Bruce played classical 8-string guitar from 3-4 PM. Beautiful and often tear jerking for me. Later I joined Bruce, me trying to play tremelo bass for my favorite of his songs, Recuerdos del Alhambra, always lachrymatory.

Bruce Casteel playing Recuerdos del Alhambra for Jim

I was pleased to see the Trovadores, the aforementioned mariachis from Restaurante La Azteca, arrive on time at 4:00 dressed up like mariachis and with Rogelio’s own camera. Helen was pleased to shoot material of their performance on Rogelio’s camera. I backed them up on the bass fiddle on about half of their more familiar numbers. (I have been listening to Salvador’s duo, in three or four pre-Rogelio versions, all good, for about five years. So I am pretty used to their repertoires and renditions. Towards the end they did my favorite mariachi song,  the Antonio Aguilar song Albur de Amor. As they filmed that, we had a Cuna Indian mola depicting Antonio Aguilar. I brought this very elegant mola from the Cuna Indians of Panama back in the 1960’s, more than 50 years ago.  The few times I looked at their screen (depicting what their cameras were seeing), I felt that they were getting some good video footage. Hope they the NY videographers and Rogelio will share some good clips with us for the website.

Jim playing bass, The Los Trovodores playing guitars, and Basilio (in all white) singing

By five o’clock, with Los Trovadores still playing great mariachi music, the new Howard County Dumpsters country musicians started dribbling in. Howard County Dump was a name we selected maybe 40 years ago when there was a bumper sticker out saying Dump the Howard County Dump. Mike Schenk, our usual regular banjo picker and his wife Ann and friendly dog Shadow, were here. Shadow posed well later when I howled with the SJW song. My son John Carl Duke, and my grandson, John James Duke had been here all along, enjoying the classical and mariachi music, but they were getting anxious to play themselves. Then young Jared Guilford, an excellent mandolinist, dropped in, making critical mass for country and bluegrass. Like my son John, Jared is a good upright bass player as well. And our intern Sara Saurus has picked up picking the bass pretty well herself this summer. She is more picturesque than I, and always happy to spare me on the bass fiddle. Last guest to arrive was Brian Dorothy , expert fiddler with whom I once played professionally, ca 3 decades ago. (You can see Brian, John, Mike and Sara backing me up on the Sogera song the following youtube site and read the words at the bottom of this blog.)

Jared, Yukon John, Mike, Little John, Jim and Victoria

You’ll even see a snippet of Anna Wallis, another of our garden interns playing guitar on the El Sogero song out by the ayahuasca vine in the garden. Anna was here for Basilio Day. So was Holly Chittum, another intern who replaced Anna. Holly brought one of my favorite foods, cornbread. Victoria Aurich, fresh back from a great diving trip to Bonaire, as always brought organic goodies and served as my music stand, holding up my words for me. A shame when I do not even know my own songs!. Victoria had been on a U. Md trip to the Amazon with Andrea and me about five year ago. Also in attendance was Dr. Gail Moreschi, MD, with the FDA. Gail had been on one of our Amazon trips and accompanied Helen and me to Cuba in March of 2012. That’s why I was pleased when the Trovadores plated Guantanamera for Basilio Day.

The filming crew

Basilio seemed to enjoy the catered Mexican foods, and the potluck items brought by his American friends and students, the wine and the beer in moderation, but most of all he enjoyed singing along with the eclectic Mexican music and North American bluegrass and country. He had taken a lot of pictures himself, a fair turnaround. Thousands of American visitors touring the Explorama lodges have taken thousands of pictures on Basilio, playing Amazon and Andean and North America music. On this trip Basilio took thousands of pics of mariachis and gringos playing Mexican and North American songs. Last Saturday, 6 Oct., an aromatherapist, Eileen Cristina, and her husband Eric, who had traveled to south France with Peggy and me on an aromatherapy symposium, took a lot of pictures of Basilio. They now plan to go to Explorama, having seen and heard Basilio.  But she forgot her camera when she left. We could mail her camera to her. But on the morning of Basilio’s  flight out of Dulles, Oct 12, I got a frantic call from Andrea at 6:50 AM. who had gotten himo to Dulles Airport for the first leg of his trip home to Panama, thence to Iquitos. But without his camera, full of his week’s footage. Basilio was devastated, he feared correctly that he had left his camera on our living room table. I verified. We cannot trust the mail to get his camera from here to Iquitos. Peggy just called down that someone in a red shirt had come by and picked up Basilio’s camera. That was probably Elmer, Andrea’s friend from Guatemala. I hope they got it to Dulles International before Basilio’s flight took off. He really treasured all the footage he himself had taken.  I hope they got it to Basilio by flight time If not, we may have to wait until we can get a reliable courier, someone we know and trust to handcarry it to Basilio. Or maybe Andrea can somehow open his camera, and copy on to something else what will be just as useful to Basilio. And hopefully with some of the shots Stephen’s crew took of Basilio Day and maybe even some of Rogelio’s footage from Basilio Day. Basilio had some of the travel problems that we elderly gringoes often experience. I hope he is waking up this AM in the warmth of Panama, where I have spent an aggregate of some 4 years. This morning, Oct 13 we had our first frost. I am glad Basilio missed the first frost, always depressing to me. And as I close this rant, my stomach still churns. It is 6:00 PM on our first day of frost. And I am not sure his camera caught up with Basilio. We all hope so and will somehow replace or overwhelm him with our own film of basilio Day. Basilio, thanks for enduring this; friends of Basilio, hope you treasured and enjoyed Basilo Day as much as I did.

Basilio at the White House. Photo by Andrea Ottesen 2012.

We will include some of the words to a few of my songs that we used below: I post my revised words to Guantamera, revised when I disappointingly realized that the real Guantanamera was a male peasant from Guantanamo, not a county girl from Guantanamo.

SOME PERTINENT DOGGEREL

GUANTANESPANTA (my parody on Guantanamera)
Yo soy un gringo sincero
Estudio hierbas entero
Y es claro que quiero
Vivo Guantanamero
Guantanamera, me busca Guantanamera,
Siempre creiendo, que es mujer, la Guantanamera.
Yo soy un gringo llorando;
No hay la Guantanamera
Mi miente mi engaño
Hay Guantanespanta

Paradise Lost
(Parodyzing Paradise)
words by jim duke

(Can be sung to the tune of John Prine’s paradise)

I praise you John Prine, and I hope you don’t mind,
If I mimic your song, to help the forest along.
Even while I am singing, the axeman is swinging,
Choppin’ down all that green, to plant corn, squash and bean.

Chorus(male): Daddy won’t you take me to the primary forest
By the Amazon river where Paradise lies?
I’m sorry my son, but the forest is gone!
I’ll show you some slides, that’ll have to suffice!

If you’ll not name me, there’s something I’ll mention
And where credit is due, I’ll quote Peter Jenson.
There may be stronger reasons, but I can’t think of any,
We may lose the forest “because we’re too many”!
Basilio would sing us a John Denver song
And the gringos enchanted would sing right along;
And two decades later still singing away
He will be singing for Basilio Day
Oh axeman unkind, you are blowing my mind!
Camu-camu and brazilnut, they can help fill your gut.
But year after year, once the forest is clear,
You’ll have less and less food, and you’ll run out of wood.
The Jason tv, caught the shaman and me;
The kids could all see, he could talk to a tree.
Must’a been quite a scare, for the mahuna there;
For them the tv’s, like a spaceship to me
Never thought ecotours, could be one of the cures;
Taking “green” bucks from gringos, getting mud on their toes.
If the ecotours thrive, indian cultures survive,
And the children will strive, to keep tradition alive.

Chorus (female) Momma won’t you take me to the primary forest
On the Amazon river where Paradise lies?
I’m sorry my daughter, but I don’t think I oughta‘
We’ve waited too long, now the forest is gone!

No place I’d rather go, than to cruise on the Napo;
Hoping some of my pleas, kinda’ help save the trees.
I’d rather you’d find me, sunnin’ with the tree huggers
Than back in DC, arunnin’ from muggers!

It’s quite element’ry, our praise for Al Gentry,
Whose conserving career really helped at ACEER.
The best botany brain, went down with Al’s plane,
And although he is gone, we must still carry on.
Cacao, camu camu, cat’s claw, and dragon’s blood
The forest’s the best, for your medicine chest.
Aware of these goods, you still chop down the woods.
You’d best spare that tree, cause it might help spare thee.
DNA helices, ayahuasca the species
It’s the true vine divine. and a good friend of mine
Wondrous visions are seen, thru its telepathine
Like I’ve been told, ‘tis the vine of the soul

Jim telling stories of La Soga, Banisteriopsis caapi.  2007

EL SOGERO

(Parody on The Pilgrim [aka Going Up was Worth the Coming Down]-Kris Kristopherson)

HE HAD TASTED GOOD AND EVIL IN BOTH BEDROOM AND BORDELLO
TRADING ALL OF HIS TOMORROWS FOR TODAYS
PONDERING WHERE TO GO, HE TRIPPED DOWN TO OLD LORETO
CONTEMPLATING THE AYAHUASCA WAYS.
IT WAS REALLY QUITE A FAR CRY FROM NEW YORK TO OLD NANAY
FROM THE ASPHALT THAT HE KNEW DOWN TO PERU
IN HIS SEARCH FOR THE DIVINE, HE DESIGNED TO MINE THE VINE
AND THE THROWING UP WAS WORTH THE COMIN’ DOWN
YES THE THROWING UP WAS WORTH THE COMIN’ DOWN
HE’S A POET, HE’S A PROPHET
HE’S A WALKING CONTRADICTION, KINDA LOW WHEN FLYING HIGH
HE’S A BRUJO, A SOGERO
VOLANDERO, CURANDERO;
WITH CELESTIAL CONNECTIONS, HE NOW NAVIGATES THE SKY.
AND THE THROWING UP WAS WORTH THE COMING DOWN;
AND THE GOING UP IS COMING BACK AROUND!
HANDSOME, TALL AND LANKY, NEVER CRASS OR CRANKY,
COOLEST GREENEST MAN I EVER SEEN.
HAD A BALL AND FRANKLY, LOTTA GRASS AND HANKY PANKY,
EATING AND SIPPING JUNGLE GREEN
MIXED UM ALL UP ONE DAY, SOGA AND YAGE
BOILED UM `MOST ‘AWAY, WITH SOME TO-E
ENTONCES EL TOME, AND HE SOFTLY FLEW AWAY,
WITH THE JAGUA AND THE BOA ALL AT PLAY
AND THE THROWING UP, WAS WORTH THE GOIN’ WAY
IT REALLY AIN’T MY THESIS, BUT PROPULSIVE EMESIS
CLEARS THE VIEW OF ENTHEISM
CLEARING ALL DECISIONS, CLEANSING ALL THE VISIONS,
TUNING TO THOSE NEW GODS DEEP WITHIN!
THE SIGHTS THEY STILL REMIND US, THAT THE PURGIN’ IS BEHIND US,
ARRANGING INSTEAD NEW VIEWS AHEAD.
GODS KEEP RECURRING, BLACK JAGUARS KEEP A’PURRING;
AS WE GO TO CLIMB THE ROYAL RAINBOW;

[[EXTRA LINES: JICAROS URGING, THE END OF THE PURGING

THE SHAMAN SHE NODS, WE’RE ONE WITH THE GODS.
AND THE BOAS, EVER WISE, CLIMB UP TO THE SKIES
AND THE THROWING UP WAS WORTH THE GOING UP
AND THE GOING UP IS COMING BACK AROUND]]

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