chickweed - Stellaria media

Chickweed: The Best All Around Weed

Nature provides us with a lot of the medicines we need to not only survive, but thrive. When you learn to identify some of the vegetation around you, you can use many of them to your advantage in emergencies, or even as daily remedies for common ailments.

English: Chickenwort, Craches, Maruns, Winterw...
Common Chickweed -Stellaria media (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of the most beneficial, natural herbs is chickweed (Stellaria media). This plant grows uncultivated readily throughout the world, and can provide relief to ailments from coughs to water retention to inflammed and irritated skin. Not only is chickweed a wonderful natural remedy for a variety of ailments, it is also high in vitamins and minerals, and tastes great in salads or a summer veggie side dish.

Chickweed is fairly easy to identify. It thrives during the summer months, and will grow easily in sunny, moist soil. It grows on a stem which can grow to 15-20 cm in height with leaves growing opposite each other on the stems. White flowers will bloom on the ends of the plant, which will reseed easily for more chickweed to grow. The stems are slender and may have what appear to be tiny hairs growing on them.

Chickweed provides a lot of health benefits to users. The U.S. Navy used chickweed in the prevention of scurvy in the early years because it is high in Vitamin C. While sailors didn’t know the cause of scurvy was low Vitamin C, this edible plant naturally kept levels of Vitamin C higher in sailors onboard ships to lower the numbers of sailors suffering from the potentially deadly disease. It is also a natural diuretic, making it excellent for people suffering from certain types of edema, as well as weight loss due to water retention. Because of it’s anti-inflammatory properties, chickweed is a wonderful soother for people suffering from cough due to inflammation of the lungs or mucous membranes. It can also be used to treat minor skin irritations and rashes due to insect bites or other mild skin discomforts.

Chickweed can be prepared a variety of ways, and can be eaten raw, or can be cooked, steamed, boiled, brewed into a tea, or added to clay to make a poultice for the skin. Varieties of chickweed which have hairs on the stems and leaves are best cooked to soften the hairs and make the stems easier to consume.

The leaves are often added to fresh salads and eaten raw, and provide a mild, pleasant flavor similar to corn on the cob. It can also be sauteed with other veggetables as a side dish with some olive oil and seasoned to taste for a delicious and nutritious boost to a meal. The leaves and stems can also be steamed, which retains a lot of the nutritient value, and eaten alone, or they can be added to a cup of warm water to steep for a few minutes to drink as a tea.

If you are consuming chickweed for the added boost of vitamins and minerals, consuming it raw or lightly steamed will be the best preparation method. High in Vitamins C, A, D, and iron, you can get a large boost in these essential vitamins and minerals by consuming the leaves and stems of chickweed mixed in a salad several times per week. To consume as a diuretic or a soothing natural cough remedy, preparing a mildly brewed tea with some leaves and stems will help you achieve the greatest benefit from its use. For minor skin irritations, making a poultice out of clay with chickweed which has been pulverized will work wonders for red, itchy, irritated skin.

Chickweed also contains small amounts of saponins. These are natural thickeners, which can work well in soups and stews. It creates complex, deep flavors while aiding in the thickening of soups, sauces, and stews.

It is amazing what types of natural remedies we can find by looking around us in the great outdoors. One of the most versatile of nature’s remedies is chickweed. It is self-sustaining and uncultivated, and an extremely hardy edible plant which can be found in almost all areas of the world. It provides high levels of certain vitamins and minerals, and can provide soothing relief to certain types of edema, calm coughs, and is a natural anti-inflammatory which can help relieve many minor skin irritations.

Dew - Safe Water

How To Collect Drinking Water From Morning Dew

What is dew?

English: Dew on a spider's web in the morning....
English: Dew on a spider’s web in the morning. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dew is just atmospheric moisture that’s been warmed by solar radiation throughout the day. As night comes, surfaces cool and the moisture begin to accumulate on those surfaces near the ground including grasses, metal, glass, tree leaves, plastic sheeting, rain ponchos and so on.

Usually, dew won’t settle on the ground itself or on boulders and rocks since they’re still conducting heat, which does not allow the moisture to condensate. The change in temperature is what makes the moisture to accumulate. This is just like filling a glass with cold water. Drops of moisture will quickly form on the outside of the glass.

If there is a heavy cloud cover during the night, dew will not collect on surfaces. Clouds reduce radiant heat loss, which will limit moisture condensation on surfaces because they will not cool quickly enough to create condensation.

Dew Collection

To gather dew you can put a sheet of plastic or a poncho over some vegetation. Leave small depressions for the moisture to collect. You may also absorb the moisture from grasses, bushes or any other surfaces employing a clean cotton cloth, and when the cloth has absorbed as much as it can squeeze the moisture into a container or straight into the mouth.

The water obtained is generally safe to drink if the surfaces are not contaminated. Be careful when collecting dew from vegetation. You don’t wish to get dew from poison ivy or poison oak for self-evident reasons.

Devil's claw - Harpagophytum procumbens

Knowing more about the Devil’s Claw

Harpagophytum procumbens Français : photo util...
Harpagophytum procumbens  – © CITES Secretariat

If you are someone who has never heard about the Devil’s Claw (Harpagophytum procumbens), then you should know that this is a trailing perennial plant that comes with creeping stems which has been reported to develop up to a staggering 5 feet in length. Its root resembles a very thick carrot and it also features secondary roots tuberous in shape. When it comes to its stems, they are grayish in color, it has a woody and thorny fruit and reddish-violet flowers which are tubular in shape. This herb actually grows in S. Africa and also in the Madagascar Island.

Most of the times this herb is use by herbalists in order to treat the pain caused by arthritis and it has also been tested by the scientists in order to see how effective it can be against lower back pain. It has been tested on people who are dealing with one of the most severe types of lower back pain and after individuals used it, the results they got were pretty spectacular. When the herb is used in an enteric coated form, its effectiveness in controlling pain will increase a lot. Below, you will be able to see the diseases and conditions this plant is recommended for:

  • Appetite stimulant
  • Upset stomachs
  • Tendonitis
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Muscle pain
  • Sciatica, lumbago, gout and arthritis

You can also apply it externally if you have boils or skin lesions.

Dosage and preparations

Over-the-counter

This amazing plant comes in tea form, tincture and capsules and can be found in drugstores and pharmacies.
Tincture: If you would like to use the Devil’s Claw in this form, then you will have to take between ten to forty drops of it on a daily basis and only follow the dosage your doctor recommended you.

At home

For a decoction, you will need to add half a teaspoon and up to a teaspoon of rhizome into 1 cup of water, bring it to a boil and then simmer for around ten to fifteen mites. For at least thirty days you will need to drink this three times per day.

Parts used

The secondary roots and the rhizome

Collection

The Devil Claw’s secondary roots are recommended for collection when the rainy season has ended.

Constituents

  • Luteolin
  • Harpagide
  • Harpagoside

Action

  • Digestive stimulant
  • Sedative
  • Analgesic
  • Anti-inflammatory

Combinations

If you would like you will be able to have it combined with Meadowsweet, Bogbean and Celery seed in order to treat your arthritis.

Side effects and safety

There are certain cases in which you will not have use this herb, because it might pose a certain danger to your health. These situations are as following:If you are under blood thinning medicationIf you have duodenal or gastric ulcersIf you have cardiovascular problemsIf you are pregnant

You will find a very high concentration of iridoid glycosides in the Devil’s Claw, but also secondary metabolites. Due to its massive beneficial effects this plant is very much used in Europe in order to treat inflammatory joint disorders and any other related pain. The fact is that there is little to no scientific proof in regards to the effectiveness of this herb, but it seems that the folkloric information found on it is plenty, which indicates that the herb is very much able to treat these problems.

Remember, as with any other herb out there, there can be side effects experienced by individuals, so that is why if you’re under certain medications, you will have to get in touch with your doctor before starting your use of Devil’s Claw. Some side effects you might experience number upset stomach, diarrhea and headaches, yet the good news is that they are very rare. But if you will experience these side effects you should talk to your physician as soon as possible.

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tongue

How To Heighten The Sense of Taste

Some people will say that we eat to live, and while that is technically true, many more people will tell you that we eat to taste. Cooking shows, that teach us how to blend great tasting food together, are becoming increasingly popular as we discover the wonder of taste when food is perfectly balanced. However, even though we are all seeking the ultimate taste from our cooking, very few of us are actually using the sense of taste to its full advantage!

We can sense five basic tastes. They are sour, salty, sweet, bitter, and savoury. Certain combinations, such as sweet and sour or sweet and salty, work really well together and thrill our sense of taste.

Where Does Our Sense of Taste Come From?

Our sense of taste comes from the papillae (where taste buds live) on our tongue. There are three primary papillae.

  • First, the vallate papillae form a v-shape on the back portion of the tongue and detect bitter and sour tastes.
  • Second, the foliate papillae are on either side of the tongue, and they detect sour tastes.
  • Lastly, the fungiform papillae are located on the tips and surface of the tongue, and they detect sweet and salty tastes.

Inside papillae is our taste buds. It is interesting to note that our taste buds actually transfer messages to the brain about what we taste, and our brain has the final say in the taste experience. You can even trick your taste buds with your mind. For example, if you convince yourself that the banana you are about to eat will taste bitter, and you are really convincing, then you may experience a bitter taste!

Taste buds are not the only things that play a part in determining how food tastes. Chefs and scientists alike know that, in reality, all of our senses play a part in our sense of taste. Flavor physiology, and how the combination of taste, smell, texture, temperature, appearance, and our mind can help to determine taste, is part of the curriculum for chefs in training. Even your memory can affect the way that apple crisp tastes to you. Knowing all of this information gives us a good indication as to how to heighten the sense of taste.

Tips To Heighten The Sense of Taste

  • First, and probably most importantly, you have to limit sensory distractions. Many of us will eat supper in front of the TV, and before we know it our food is gone, and we barely even tasted it! Distractions cause us to use our senses for things other than taste. Therefore, if you are using your mind and sight to watch TV, and your taste and smell get put on the backburner, then you are not going to taste your food to its full-potential taste. It is best to eat at a table without any distractions.
  • Second, you have to be willing to smell your food. About 95% of what we think is taste, is actually smell! You can experience this for yourself by plugging your nose while you eat. You will notice that you barely taste your food, if at all. This is why when we are sick, with a stuffed up nose; our taste also seems to be sick. So, make sure you are eating food that smells appealing to you and contributes positively to your overall experience of taste.
  • Thirdly, make sure that your food is visually appealing. If you are eating something that looks like a pile of poop, it can be very hard to allow your mind to convince you that it is something that tastes good.
  • Fourthly, you may want to try a fast of sorts. Our pallets are dulled because of all the high additive and high-salted food we eat. If you allow your palette some time in between eating, and then experience a whole, fresh food after some time has passed, you will notice that the taste is exceptionally good, even if it is just a tomato. A fast is great, but if you can cut out food that over stimulates your taste buds altogether, like processed food, then you will notice that food starts to have unique and special taste again, and not just fried or salty.
  • Lastly, to heighten your sense of taste during a meal, you may want to cleanse your palette in between courses. This is something that food judges often do to bring their palettes back to life, and experience the full taste of food without the previous food affecting the taste. You can clean the palette by having a drink of sparkling water or a citrus flavored drink that is not too sweet. You may even want to have some lime, grapefruit or mint sorbet on hand. This trick is used in fine dining restaurants.

In the end, if you want to heighten your sense of taste, then you have to remember that all of your senses are responsible for the flavor you experience. Limit sensory distractions, smell your food, eat food that is visually appealing, and clean your palette in between foods. This will all help you to experience the taste of food as you never experienced it before!

Burdock

Burdock: The Edible Velcro

Burdock (Arctium spp.) relates to the daisy family. Additionally, it is directly related to Echinacea, Dandelion, and Feverfew. Back in the past the Greeks made use of the greens and the roots for healing. During the Middle Ages, Burdock was used for food and medicine.

Also Known as

  • Burdock
  • Beggar’s Buttons
  • Cockle Buttons
  • Gobo
  • Harebur
  • Love Leaves
  • Thorny Bur

 


 

Identification Keys

  • Stalk
    • Purplish-green leaf stalks
    • Arctium minus – Common burdock’s leaf stalks:
      • hollow, not furrowed
      • 50-150 cm tall
    • Arctium lappa – Greater burdock’s leaf stalks:
      • solid, with a groove along the upper surface
      • up to 250 cm tall
  • Greater-Burdock_Arctium-Lappa-__16288
    (Photo credit: Public Domain Photos)

    Leaves

    • basal rosette the first year and at the beginning of the second year with coarse, huge, wedge-shaped leaves up to 60 cm long and 30 cm broad.
    • The leaves are whitish and finely wooly underneath
    • Its alternate leaves are similar to the basal leaves, but smaller, especially toward the top

 

 

  • English: Greater burdock (Arctium lappa) Deuts...
    Greater burdock (Arctium lappa) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    Flowers

    • bristly, purple-pink, spherical, composite shaving brush-like flowers
    • 2 cm across in common burdock, short stemmed
    • 2.5 to 4 cm across in greater burdock, long-stemmed resemble shaving brushes
  • Fruits
    • The ripe fruits consist of brown, prickly spherical burrs the size of the flowers, covered with tiny hooks
    • They stick to virtually anything they touch, they’re the inspiration for Velcro
    • Inside are many small, hard, curved, brown seeds

 

Bloom Time

  • July-October

Habitat

  • lawns
  • fields
  • thickets
  • disturbed habitats
  • untended gardens
  • empty lots
  • edge habitats
  • trailsides and roadsides
  • parks
  • sun or partial shade
  • backyards

Look-alikes

  • “Dock” stands for take or eliminate, and not related plants that folks remove from their backyards, including the curly dock, also known as yellow dock (Rumex crispus), which has delicious leaves and stems, have the identical confusing surname. But you can’t confuse with burdock because curly dock has narrow leaves, not white beneath, with curled edges, a hard, yellow taproot, and different flowers and seeds.
  • Curly dock’s relative bitter dock or broadleaf dock (Rumex obtusifolia) has large leaves that look like burdock’s, and the plants occasionally grow next to each other, but as a relative of yellow dock, bitter dock’s hard, inedible taproot is vivid yellow when scraped, and the leaves don’t possess burdock’s white, whooly fuzz underneath. Even if nonpoisonous, every part of the plant tastes bad.
  • Cardoon (Cynara cardunculus) is an edible relative of burdock.

Poisonous Look-alikes

  • Cocklebur (Xanthium)

 


 

Medicine Uses

Parts Used

root, leaf

Actions

detoxifying

Systems

Digestion

  • eases liver problems and digestive disorders

Circulation

  • a decoction made by boiling the root is a blood detoxifier for the skin, liver, and kidneys.
  • Burdock helps combat hypoglycemia and pre diabetes conditions due to a large quantities of inulin, a polysaccharide that doesn’t get absorbed or induce an insulin response

Immune system

  • strengths the immune system when it’s weakened by environmental factors

Externally

  • use a poultice to clear bruises. Bandage for few days with a poultice made by blending the leaves with water and clay. Add spearmint stems to make this poultice even more effective.
  • put the leaves on burns to prevent bacterial growth, speed recovery time, and ease the changing of dressings.


Food Uses

Parts Used

roots, stems

Main Uses

potherb, root, tea

Nutrition

  • Burdock root supplies vitamins B6 and C, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, manganese, and sodium
  • It is really an excellent supply of inulin,  and is helpful to people with blood sugar problems

Caution

  • Avoid eating the seeds, which are poisonous.

Cooking

  • Root:
    • Burdock root seems like a blend of potatoes and artichokes.
    • Scrub the taproot under flowing water to clean it. Cut thin, so the root will become softer.
    • Raw, it’s hard to digest but not toxic. Simmer or steam 15 to 20 minutes, until tender. It’s also possible to bake it inside a covered baking dish that has a minimum of liquid, so that the hot steam tenders it.
  • Stem and Stalk:
    • It tastes like artichoke hearts.
    • Peel the fibers from the stems and flower stalks. Slice, then boil 5 to 15 minutes.
  • Leaf:
    • The leaves are really bitter. You can boil the very young leaves in multiple changes of water to reduce the bitterness, however, you can make a better use of your energy and time by harvesting other wild greens.

Harvesting

Harvesting Season

  • spring: root of 1st year plant, root of 2nd year plant (before the flower stalk appears), leaf stalks of greater burdock
  • mid-spring: stem
  • summer: root of 1st year plant, leaf stalks of greater burdock
  • fall: root of 1st year plant, leaf stalks of greater burdock

Harvesting Methods

  • Root:
    • Burdock’s taproot is very deep. Collect in a place that’s relatively free of rocks (not hard to find, since burdock is so common) and with a moist soil. Put the shovel 2 cm from the heart of the rosette. Grasp the handle strongly with both your hands. Over and over again stomp on the shovel, to push it straight down, so you don’t cut the root. You can try to push upward using the shovel while carefully pulling the leaves. If it’s not moving, don’t pull the leaves too hard, but remove the soil and do it again on the other side of the plant. When you’ve finished, refill the hole with soil, so you’ll reduce any environmental impact.
  • Stem:
    • Cut off the stem with a knife soon after it appears in mid-spring, when it’s large, but still very soft and flexible, long before the flowers appear.
  • Stalk:
    • Cut off the leaf stalks with a knife any time during the growing season, but only use greater burdock. There’s not enough food in common burdock’s stalks to make it worthwhile.

 

Ayurvedic Home Remedies - The Ultimate Organic Solution

Ayurvedic Home Remedies: The Ultimate Organic Solution

The increasing numbers of ailments have led to the advent of Ayurvedic home remedies. These remedies strive to provide a natural way of curing these ailments. Ayurveda is basically word from Sanskrit origin. It stands for “Ayus” that is life and “veda” that stands for science. Hence, Ayurveda is nothing but Science of life or rather way of living a healthy life.

Ayurveda is an organic way of treating the mind as well as the body. Our mind has great influence over the body. For a body to function properly, the body needs to build a healthy metabolic system along with proper digestive system. This state of body can be achieved by regular exercise along with yoga and meditation and nutritious diet. The divinity of life can be reached by improving physically as we as psychologically.

Ayurvedic Home Remedies - The Ultimate Organic SolutionTo start with the wide application of the Ayurvedic home remedies let’s consider the acne problem that most of us have faced while growing up. Acne, blackheads tend to grow time to time. The best Ayurvedic solution for this problem is having non spicy food along with tea intake. By shifting to plain food, the body gets detoxified as a result the body gets cleaned internally.

Another common ailment that we might suffer from time to time is cough. Ayurveda offers cough liquid syrup which is available online. The syrup provides relaxation of throat internal swelling. Kapha is another medicine available that increases immunity level of lungs and facilitates relieving breathing.

With the increasing work load in offices we tend to neglect our health. This leads to improper food intake and also untimely food intake which causes obesity. One of the major reasons for obesity is improper functioning of digestive system. The metabolic rate of obese people is inadequate; as a result there is constant weight gain. To reduce weight one should increase intake of fruits like papaya, pineapples and mangoes. Adding ginger in regular vegetables would also be effective. Other approaches to reduce weight would be drinking tea, sipping hot water. One of the other habits you need to develop is, most of us due to shortage of ample time, tend to swallow our food rather than nibbling the food. This bad habit lets huge chunks of food enter your body. Your stomach has to take much more efforts to digest this food. Chewing food adequate times would help in proper digestion and would solve of excessive weight gain. Also following certain yoga techniques in regular exercise regime would help to improve metabolic rate.

Ayurveda offers various remedies to hair loss problems too. Some of the people suffer with dry and itchy scalps leads to dandruff. Some of the natural ailments like hibiscus petals can be added in hair oil to provide the nourishment. You can take your own cautious steps by not using over heated water on head as it leads to dry hair and scalp.

With so many in hand techniques to take care the Ayurvedic way, well get started and boost your health the organic way!

Author Bio :
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Eco Friendly Tips for green environment

Eco Friendly Tips for Green Environment

Living green is good for the environment. It not only reduces the environmental pollution but also saves your money. By following the simple tips and techniques you can reduce the amount spent on gas and electricity bills. More use of computers and printers resulted in global warming. Most of the people believe that global warming is caused due to the burning oil and natural gas. But 30% of the greenhouse gases enter into the atmosphere because of deforestation.

  • Eco Friendly Tips for green environmentUnion made hybrids: The gases released from vehicles results in global warming. For greener environment you need to shift to hybrid electric cars. These vehicles integrate the engine of a conventional vehicle with a battery and electric motor which results in low emissions.
  • Furniture polish: This polish contains the harmful chemical substances. You can polish the furniture by mixing vinegar with a few drops of olive oil. By this way you can not only save money but can also reduce the environmental pollution.
  • Shift to eco-friendly bags: Avoid using the plastic bags. Go for paper bags. Plastic materials take years to degrade. Buy a tote bag and use it while shopping.
  • Switch off the lights: turn off the lights in storage rooms, restrooms, and unoccupied areas. By this way you can contribute to the green environment. Reports say that two-third of the electricity will be used for lightings. Electricity productions release harmful carbon dioxide gas into the environment.
  • Pay your bills online: Use technology. Pay your monthly expenses through online. You can save the paper and can reduce the fuel consumption of post office vehicles.
  • Save wood and paper: Try to use both sides of paper. Use email to send invitations and for writing. Reuse your envelopes. Recycle papers is good for environment which can used for making invitation cards, envelopes, letter pads etc.
  • Home appliances: Opt for the energy efficient appliances. Collect the water used for washing vegetables to water your plants. Allow the clothes to dry naturally in sunlight. Shift to the rechargeable batteries.
  • Garden: Water your plants early in the morning and evening. Use efficient irrigation systems. Utilise the unused space in garden. Make a compost pit. Store the kitchen and garden waste which acts as a manure for soil. Use only the environmental friendly fertilisers and pesticides. This decreases the environmental pollution.
  • Reuse and recycle: Purchase washable nappies instead of disposable one. Use the solar equipments. Use ceramic containers to store food rather than using plastic wrap.
  • Online shopping: Buy solar products. Buy the eco-friendly home appliances. This reduces the waste and pollution.
  • Workplace: Utilise the both sides of printed paper. Use the spare paper place instead of notebooks. Purchase the recycled paper. Turn off the monitors, printers when not in use. Save the electricity by turning off the lights.
  • Holidays: Avoid travelling by air. This reduces the consumption of fossil fuels and greenhouse gases. Use public transportation.
  • Upgrade insulation: well-insulated home saves your money. It gives a cool and warm home environment.
  • Laptop: use laptops which consume less power compared to desktop computers.

Author Bio: The guest post was contributed by Lucy, financial guest blogger from Manchester, UK. Wrote many articles on ppi claims. Find out more about her finance related blogs @financeport.

saffron

Saffron: What You Need To Know About This Golden Spice

Saffron (Crocus sativus) is an Asian herb, and the world’s most expensive spice, commonly used for culinary purposes.

Saffron spice is made from dried stigmas of the crocus’ flower. This spice has a rich history, having been used by ancient Egyptians and Greeks both as a spice and a medicine.

Traditionally, saffron was used to relieve symptoms of fever, menstrual disorders, epilepsy and problems associated with the digestive system. However, this spice has slowly dominated the kitchen, with countless recipes using it as an essential ingredient.

How to Identify Saffron

Saffron
Saffron (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Saffron has a rich red-orange color when used in liquids, and it gives dishes and baked items a rich yellow color. This is one of the main reasons why this spice is used for culinary purposes, in addition to its aromatic properties. When buying saffron, here are a few insights into buying the real stuff:

  • If you are on the go and want to buy saffron, you may probably find it powdered. To ascertain that the powder is indeed saffron, take a pinch and stir it in warm water. If the water is instantly colored, the powder is not genuine saffron. The authentic spice should take at least ten minutes to color the water since it takes some time to infuse.
  • Red stigmas mixed with yellow styles.
    Red stigmas and yellow styles. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    If you prefer the strands, it is good to learn how to identify high quality saffron. The quality of this golden spice is evident in the color of the stigmas. A high intensity of the color red means that the spice is of high quality, which also translates to a high price. However, to avoid buying dyed counterfeits at exorbitant prices, ascertain that the tips are a lighter red compared to the rest of the strand.

A saffron crocus flower.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To identify fresh saffron, one should know the basic characteristics of the plant. Crocus sativus is in the family of the Iridaceous plants. It grows to about 20 or 30 cm, and bears a maximum of 4 purple flowers per plant. Each flower bears only three bright crimson stigmas, which are connected to the carpel, along with the stalks. The flower emits a characteristic hay-like fragrance, which is hard to miss.

How Can You Get the Best Out of Saffron?

From simple preparation, crush a few strands of saffron and soak them in hot liquid for a minimum of 15 minutes. This allows enough time to infuse and give out maximum color and fragrance. The resulting mixture can be used in small quantities in teas, soups, pastries, confectionary and meals.

It is important to remember that saffron should be taken in minimal amounts. When using saffron as a spice, use only a few strands or a few drops of infused saffron. Too much of the spice makes meals and drinks bitter, and leave a medicine-like after taste.

What Are the Benefits of Using Saffron?

Since this is the most expensive spice, anyone would think twice before making a purchase. However, before you decide not to use it, here is a list of the benefits you will miss out on.

Saffron was, and still is, used relieve symptoms of troubled digestive system. It is a natural remedy for low appetite, nausea and vomiting, as well as diarrhea. It also offers relief from a bloated stomach and acidity. A few drops of the infused saffron in tea, soup or juice are enough.

The bright red-orange color characteristic of the spice is proof of the presence of carotenoids. This is a chemical that is vital for strong bones and healthy eyes. According to recent studies, this herb has enough of the carotenoids to cure arthritis and prevent blindness in old age. It also offers improved vision to people suffering from cataracts.

This golden spice is a mild antidepressant. This makes it the perfect remedy for mild and moderate depression. This property also helps to relieve sleep disorders such as insomnia. A small pinch of saffron powder taken in milk should suffice.

Traditionally, this spice was used to relieve menstrual conditions and regulate the periods. It can also be used to relieve muscle pains and spasms. This herb also clears any clotting in the uterine system, which can lead to excessive bleeding. Pregnant women are, therefore, advised to take this spice in extremely minimal quantities.

Saffron is an antioxidant. Therefore it is very useful in the prevention of cancer. It also relieves fever and acne, and boosts memory and blood circulation. It is a natural aphrodisiac, effective in both men and women.

Keep in mind that saffron is the most expensive spice, which makes it a perfect target for counterfeiters. When using this herb, ensure that you use the genuine one, not an adulterated version.

Survival kit Component - Tarp

Survival Kit Component: Tarp

Natural and manmade disasters can occur at any time and without warning, so having a pre prepared survival kit ready to use immediately could be the difference between life and death. However, knowing in advance which essential supplies to pack can be difficult. A tarp, or tarpaulin, is one item that almost every survival expert agrees on as a key survival kit component.

What Is A Tarp?

Tarpaulin canvas texture
Tarp texture (Photo credit: net_efekt)

A tarp is essentially a large sheet of strong, flexible, waterproof material that can be used to provide protection from the elements in an emergency. Unlike a standard plastic sheet, tarps are made from super resistant materials like polypropylene, polyethylene, and canvas.

They also feature reinforced holes at their corners to make them more versatile when combined with ropes or supports.

Possible Uses Of A Tarp

Space in a survival kit is precious so choosing tools that have multiple uses is a good idea. A tarp is an ideal item because it is both light weight and compact. Here are just a few of the ways that it can be used in survival circumstances:

1) Shelter

Poncho-tarp-shelter
tarp shelter (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In many situations creating adequate shelter is key to survival. The adaptable nature of tarp allows them to be fashioned into a wide range of shelters, including a lean-to, pup tent and tubular tent. They can be adapted to suit almost any space or terrain. They are not limited to protecting you from rain but can also be used as a wind break or for shade.

A lot of people assume that tents are the best choice for emergency shelter. While they do provide a much higher level of comfort, they are heavy and take up a large amount of space in your kit which could be better used for other equipment.

2) Rain gear

A tarp does not only offer stationary protection. By wrapping it around yourself, it will give you personal protection as well. This is an effective way to conserve body heat, and the thick material does not tear easily if you are using it on the move through rugged terrain.

3) Rain catch

No matter how much bottled water your survival kit contains, you are bound to run out eventually. Fortunately, tarps enable you to collect rain water and develop a sustainable way of keeping hydrated. The wide surface area of a tarp means that it is a highly effective method of funneling rain into a bucket or other container.

What To Pack With Your Tarp

If you are including a tarp in your survival kit, it is also worthwhile buying ropes and stakes to help you create a more stable structure.

If you find yourself without these items, then using branches to support the material and stones to pin it down is an alternative solution.

 

Preparing a well thought through survival kit is an ideal way to protect you and your family in the event of a disaster. A small and light weight tarp can provide you with shelter, water and personal protection making it the perfect multi-purpose item to include.

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herbal preparations tinctures

Herbal Preparations: Tinctures

Tinctures are produced by extracting medicinal constituents of herbs in alcohol. They are more potent and longer lasting when compared with preparations that are water based such as decoctions and infusions.

 

Tincture Preparation

You will need the following ingredients:

  1. 30g dried herbs
  2. 400 ml of brandy
  3. 170 ml water

Method

  1. Bruise the herb and mix the water and spirit together
  2. Place the herbs in a large jar and add the water and spirit
  3. Leave to stand in a cool dry place for only 2 weeks. Make sure that you shake the jar daily.
  4. After the 2 weeks, strain through a muslin cloth and pour the liquid in a sterilized glass bottle.
  5. Make sure that you label the bottles with the name of the tincture, the dosage and use and also the date.

The standard dose is 1 to 3 tablespoons daily. For gargles and washes however, it is important to dilute 1 tablespoon in 1 cup of water.

Tinctures are able to preserve themselves indefinitely.

 

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