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St. John's Wort

St. John’s wort

It started with his walking. I noticed our 14-month-old son Oscar was a little unsteady on his feet—well, more so than usual—sometimes veering off to one side or the other like he was dizzy.

Occasionally, he would stop whatever he was doing—laughing, talking, playing—and look up at nothing in particular, forehead wrinkled, and touch his cheek, distracted by some sensation.

Then he started to fuss. He clung. He became anxious, melting down if I went out of his sight for even a second. He was hungry but refused to eat his dinner. He ran a little warm now and then, but nothing high enough to classify as a “fever.” He seemed generally uncomfortable in his own skin and altogether not himself. He’s got some pretty daunting chompers coming in, so I kept hoping it was just teething.

Then, Oscar’s child care called me to pick him up because he’d thrown up his whole bottle, projectile style. When I pulled up out front, I could hear him crying. The second he saw me, he reached for me with unhappy desperation, tugging on his ear repeatedly. Hard to miss it at that point.

Ear infection.

Mullein

Mullein

I scheduled a doctor’s appointment to make sure there wasn’t more going on, but in the meantime, I hustled Oscar home. I warmed some ear oil in a cup of hot water, then leaned him over in my lap to put the drops in his ear. He squirmed and fussed at first, but as soon as the drops slid in, he relaxed. The relief just seemed to come that fast. He calmed and breathed easy, letting me massage the area around his ear gently.

There’s nothing worse than seeing your little one in pain. But there’s nothing better than being able to bring him some relief and comfort. The oil I currently use is Gaia Herbs Ear Oil, an herbal oil of garlic, mullein, St.John’s wort, etc. Once this runs out, I will keep on hand a homemade garlic mullein oil from the recipe in Aviva Romm’s book Naturally Healthy Babies and Children.

Pediatricians and parents alike are widely divided on ear infection treatment and prevention. Many doctors claim that there is no way to prevent ear infections, but others say it is entirely preventable with proper diet and care. Many resort immediately to antibiotics, while others prefer to treat herbally and/or with diet.

As with all things, I think it’s a matter of what’s right for your family. I personally found this blog on the subject very helpful.

What are your preferred ear infection remedies/preventions?

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Early March and spring is right around the corner. I thought it would be good to take some pictures, check in with the herbies as they venture out into the chill. Imagine my surprise when, four days after taking pictures for this post, this happened:

Crocuses in a March snow

Crocuses in a March snow

Ah, March. In like a lion, true to fashion. Let’s see if it goes out like a lamb?

Elderberry

Elderberry, budding out from where we cut it back this past fall (our dog Rowan in the background). My husband was so worried we would kill it. Now he knows *grin*

Black Cherry

Part of our dwarf fruit tree plantings, this black cherry is now three years old and budding out all over the place!

Lavender

New growth on the lavender bush. We finally found a spot where it could winter over. Hurrah for south-facing walls!

rosemary2013-03_2

Rosemary. Isn’t she gorgeous?

Rosemary

All abloom – just beautiful

Garden rhubarb

Garden variety rhubarb (not the medicinal variety) busting out ready for pies…

Tansy

The tansy is starting to reach out for another year of trying to escape its pot…

St. John's wort

and the St. John’s wort, so eager for the returning sun

Marjoram

Our marjoram is a bit singed from the frost, but weathered yet another winter, the old girl

Lemon Balm

The lemon balm is creeping up between the fallen leaves

Feverfew

and the feverfew as well

Grapes

The muscadine grapes are starting to bud out – these guys are three years old, too, and soooo tasty…

Hyssop

Hyssop is interplanted with the grapes…

Vitex

The vitex still looks pretty barren, but soon enough it’ll be busting out in beautiful blooms

Vitex berries

Damon holding some of the dried vitex berries

Echinacea

The echinacea is starting to peek out in clumps here and there

Daffodil and santolina

Daffodil and santolina cuddling up close for warmth…

Daffodil

so lovely…

Crocus

and of course, the crocus, flagbearer of spring.

Stay warm everyone! And if you’re on the East coast, enjoy the snow and stay safe!

Robbie's farm

This past weekend, I was fortunate enough to be invited to camp out with a bunch of herbies (“herbies” is like “foodies,” but for herb enthusiasts *grin*) at Robbie Wooding’s farm. Robbie is as warm and welcoming as you could imagine, genuinely pleased to share his home with us for a couple days. He’s been practicing herbalism for a good long time, and between him and Kathleen Maier and all the other herbies in attendance, we had a wealth of information and wisdom at the table. A veritable summer solstice bounty.

Kathleen speaking about vitex

The farm has been in Robbie’s family since 1790—originally a land grant from the King of England—and his family have been there ever since.

The weekend was marked by lessons both formal and informal, long walks, plant ID, shared meals, new points of view, sustainable living alternatives, fireflies blinking long into the night. As a special treat, as if all this weren’t enough, we had a big potluck Saturday night and a wonderful bluegrass band—some of the best bluegrass I’ve heard in years.

Bluegrass in Halifax

I’ll be posting a couple more items this week related to the weekend on the farm, specifically on harvesting inner bark and drying herbs. For now, here’s a tour of some of the beautiful herbs we encountered.

Echinacea purpureaEchinacea, Purple coneflower. Echinacea purpurea.

SassafrasSassafras. Sassafras albidum.

MulleinMullein. Verbascum thapsus.

MotherwortMotherwort. Leonurus cardiaca.

ButterflyweedButterflyweed, Pleurisy-root. Asclepias tuberosa.

Red CloverRed clover. Trifolium pratense.

VitexVitex, Chaste Tree, Chasteberry, Monk’s Pepper. Vitex agnus-castus.

GoldensealGoldenseal. Hydrastis canadensis.

PokePoke, Pokeweed. Phytolacca americana.

AsparagusAsparagus. Asparagus officinalis.

PassionflowerPassionflower, Maypop. Passiflora incarnata.

OatsMilky oats. Avena sativa.

YarrowYarrow. Achillea millefolium.

GreenbrierGreenbrier, Catbrier. Smilax rotundifolia.

LizardThis lizard was just chillin’, hanging out on a tree in the middle of our motley group. Anyone know what kind of lizard this is?

BlackberryBlackberry. Rubus ursinus.

Black-eyed SusanBlack-eyed Susan. Rudbeckia hirta.

St. John's WortSt. John’s Wort. Hypericum perforatum.

Queen Anne's LaceQueen Anne’s Lace, Wild carrot. Daucus carota.

GinsengGinseng, American ginseng. Panax quinquefolius.

Robbie with American ginsengRobbie showing the ginseng root – look at that dancing root! What a beauty.

Lamb's QuartersLamb’s Quarters, Lamb quarters, Pigweed. Chenopodium album.

ComfreyComfrey. Symphytum officinale.

MilkweedMilkweed. Asclepias syriaca.

ElecampaneElecampane. Inula helenium.

Elecampane flowersAnd the fireworks finish? Elecampane in flower – something I’ve never seen in person before.

What a marvelous weekend. Time for sleep. Check back later this week for more posts on harvesting inner bark and drying herbs. Till then, sweet dreams.

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