Browsing articles in "medicinal herbs"
Nov 24, 2013
Justine Crono

Lowcountry fall allows for a bounty of holiday decorations

When it comes to decorating our homes with beautiful fall flowers and foliage, those of us who live and garden in the Lowcountry have it made. Our mild weather continues to provide.

In mid-November, a cool spell arrived right on schedule. In two days, we were back to normal temperatures and out in the garden cutting colorful vines and branches with orange berries to combine with native flowers of tickweed and oakleaf hydrangeas in vases and wreaths.

A table wreath I put together three years ago has traveled around to countless meetings as a demo of what can be done with materials gathered from your garden: Dried orange and yellow flowers, red hot chili peppers, buckeyes in their polished shells, berries, orange kumquats and tangelos, and bits of moss are fitted in and around the thick stems of the large grape vine wreath.

At the Hilton Head Island Garden Council fundraiser, speaker Benny Campbell’s artistry with dramatic props and gorgeous plants and flowers was fast apparent as he created holiday arrangements fit for a party or wedding. His audience loved his humor and tips on arranging:

  • Soak floral foam in water before arranging so it does not pull water out of your arrangement.

  • Stick a florist pin into the foam to hold heavy flowers such as hydrangeas.

  • For added color, use Swiss chard.

  • Cover mechanics with shell mushrooms gathered from trees.

  • For Thanksgiving, cover floral foam with greens, add orange spray roses, rose hips and orange bittersweet berries for texture.
  • A few lucky people went home with an arrangement. My arms were full of gorgeous bittersweet berries that are now making a statement in my table top wreath.

  • There’s a special place in my heart for the Achievers, an herb group that has been meeting, growing and cooking with herbs for almost 30 years. We met, and once we got medicinal herbs — today’s hot herbal topic — out of the way, we got down to the pleasure part: The wonder of the number of herbs that we can grow here year-round, and how to use a bumper harvest.
  • With Thanksgiving coming up, we talked what to do with the bird. Herbs play a big role in poultry recipes; the rather bland fowl is married to sage, rosemary and garlic. Uh-oh, now I’ve gone medicinal: garlic is the No. 1 rated herb for its benefits to the body. From headache to sore throat to athlete’s foot, garlic is king. Let’s get healthy and cook a delicious turkey: poke roasted garlic, rosemary and sage sprigs under the turkey skin and in the body cavity, where you can also put a cut up onion and apple.

  • The Canadian air arrived, and I bundled up and drove to Hilton Head Island’s Xeriscape Interpretive Garden to meet and greet avid gardeners Sandy Stern and Nadine Korosi and a bus load of children from the first and third grades of Hilton Head Island School for the Creative Arts. The children toured the garden before planting 30 daffodils, called “paper whites.” Known for their intense sweet smell, paper whites are harbingers of winter. They are already poking their heads up out of the ground and will begin to flower by Thanksgiving. They often have five flowers on each stem.

  • Fingers crossed for a sunny day on Dec. 6, Southern Arbor Day. This year, the Hilton Head Island Council of Garden Clubs will celebrate historic trees of South Carolina by planting a Southern Red Cedar at the Fort Howell Historic National Monument on Beech City Road. There will be a program beginning at 1 p.m. that includes students from Hilton Head Island School for the Creative Arts under the direction of principal Gretchen Keefner. The red cedar is provided by Bartlett Tree Service.

  • Cedar trees no longer can be used for Christmas; they are now on the threatened and endangered list. But Fraser firs are special too, and once again may be found at the softball field across the street from the Hilton Head Island Recreation Center. Sugar Mountain Farms will begin selling trees on Nov. 29; they are open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. A portion of sales proceeds will go to Hilton Head Island schools.

  • Sixty-year master gardener and environmentalist Betsy Jukofsky has spent three decades on Hilton Head Island learning the peculiarities of Coastal Lowcountry gardening.

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    Nov 23, 2013
    Justine Crono

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    Nov 22, 2013
    Justine Crono

    Govt to revise list of products under NTIS


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    Nov 21, 2013
    Justine Crono

    Going for a song in Cape Verde

    I was in Cape Verde, an archipelago of 10 volcanic islands in the Atlantic Ocean, 500km off the coast of Senegal. It’s only a five-hour flight from Europe yet offers unspoilt coastlines, white sandy beaches, and year-round sunshine. A former Portuguese colony, it has been independent since 1975.

    You can windsurf, scuba dive, discover exotic flora, birds and marine life. Charles Darwin spent some time here. Humpback whales are spotted off the coastline from February to June. And, thank God, there are no mosquitoes.

    I flew to Lisbon, where you can now connect to four destinations in Cape Verde, then caught a connecting flight to the island of São Vicente, located to the north-west of the archipelago.

    Dubbed the culture island, it’s the birthplace of late morna singer — like Portuguese fado — Cesária Évora. The airport is named after her and you’re greeted by a giant statue of the “Barefoot Diva” herself.

    The island’s capital, Mindelo, has been called Cape Verde’s answer to the Riviera, with cobbled streets, palm trees, candy-coloured colonial architecture and yachts bobbing in the harbour — yet there are slums too.

    The population, who are of varying degrees of African and Portuguese heritage, speak a mix of Portuguese and Creole. Each February the island hosts a Mardi Gras carnival (with very sexy costumes) and in August a three-day world music festival. Tito Paris and Baú often perform.

    The moon-shaped deep-water bay, Porto Grande, has been classified as one of the most beautiful in the world by Unesco. Bars and bistros grace the modern glass and concrete marina.

    The former customs house holds contemporary art exhibitions with a lovely craft shop and café. The Cape Verdean artist and poet Tchalé Figueira has a house on the seafront.

    After lunch you can sunbathe on Laginha, Mindelo’s golden sand beach. But wander several streets back and it’s far more West African.

    The covered municipal market (dating back to 1784) is a great place to buy fruit, sweets, toys and medicinal herbs. There are some wonderful retro barbershops, too.

    And if you’ve got a strong stomach, the tiled fish market overlooking the jetty  is where fishermen unload their daily catch. Jutting into the harbour is the fortress-like Torre de Belém, a Disneyish version of the 15th-century tower that guards the port in Lisbon.

    Cesaria EvoraCulture island: the late morna singer Cesaria Evora (Picture: Alamy)

    I stayed in Villa St Aubyn, a newly refurbished Portuguese colonial-style house with cool white interiors and its own gym, infrared sauna, and a roof terrace with glamorous day beds, a jacuzzi and panoramic views over the city roof tops.

    My room had a king-size bed with creamy silk linens (a wonderful haven from the heat outside) and an en-suite bathroom (functional rather than luxurious). In the shared sitting room there’s satellite television, a DVD player and wi-fi access. Meals can be prepared by a chef from just €15 per person (excluding alcohol).

    One lunchtime chef prepared cachupa, the famous Cape Verdean dish, served with wine from the three-kilometre-high volcanic island of Fogo. The next day, eggs were added to the corn and beans to create the fried breakfast dish “Cachupa Frita” (like our own fry-up).

    Fresh fish is everywhere on the island — tuna, sera (wahoo), garoupa, octopus. And the goat’s cheese with fresh papaya is a great fusion dish known locally as Romeo and Julieta.

    The bittersweet morna soundtrack, a trademark of Cape Verde, can be heard at venues across town, set against the glorious sunsets at night.

    Villa St Aubyn has its own 54ft yacht, Perseverance, which you can charter. The friendly crew will cook you a delicious lunch (they catch their own fish) and serve rum cocktails.

    From Mindelo it’s a two-hour boat trip (do take sea sickness pills) to the island of Santo Antao, which offers some superb hiking. Approaching the harbour, you wouldn’t guess how green it is; the south side appears barren. But the north-east of the island receives enough moisture for forests of pine trees to dominate the hilltops, and tropical plants to flourish in the valleys. As I climbed, I met local women in colourful outfits selling bags of coffee beans, harvested on the island.

    There are nine inhabited islands in the archipelago. All can be visited but allow time to get around. If you have a week, you can visit the more developed islands of Sal and Boa Vista (which have package tour-style resorts and a new TAP flight to Boa Vista via Lisbon from Heathrow launched last month), or mountainous Fogo.

    Because it’s more authentically West African, São Vicente attracts the independent traveller (families go to the more developed resorts). Hiring a guide is worthwhile to help navigate downtown Mindelo (although tourism is booming, there is still poverty and pick-pocketing). And a driver to take you around the unspoilt interior of the island, with its dramatic mountainous terrain — locals call one expanse of rock George Washington because it resembles the iconic US President’s profile — and then on to the deserted areas of golden beach.

    For photographers and film makers, the volcanic lunar landscape is extraordinary. One minute it’s bright sunlight; the next, covered in dense cloud. You could be on the set of Hollywood’s next sci-fi movie. Or watching the sunset to the melancholy sounds of morna.


    TAP Portugal flies from Heathrow and Gatwick to São Vicente via Lisbon twice weekly, return fares from £518. TAP also flies to Sal, Praia and Boa Vista.

    Villa St Aubyn costs from €55 per room per night BB. A combined five-night sail on board Perseverance with two nights at the villa costs €8,000 including exclusive use for up to eight guests and including all meals and skipper.

    Nov 20, 2013
    Justine Crono

    Sniffing success

    NOV 19 –

    Encouraged by a good market of scented oil made from various medicinal herbs especially in India, Europe and the United States, big industrialists have been attracted towards establishing herb processing industries lately. Four herb processing industries have been established in Nepalgunj so far.  

    The demand for the oil is increasing in India as well as European countries, said Yakub Ansari, chairman of the Nepal Herbs Entrepreneur Association (NHEA).  

    “The trend of establishing new herb processing plants started with the start of the export of the oil. Ten tonnes of scented oil is exported to third countries every year,” he said.  

    After the big industry KL Dugad Group started herb processing industry, the production of the scented oil shot up sharply. The group sent 45 kilograms of sample scented oil made up of different medicinal herbs to the European countries last year. Manager of the Pradip Chhachhed group claimed that its products had already won over customers overseas.

    He said that they hope their products will gain a good market share in Europe and the US. The group has been producing the oil since 2011 from its four distillation plants. Oil, which is made of medicinal herbs such as jatamasi, bojho and timur, is used for making perfumes of different flavours.  

    Herb trader Rabindranath Shukla, who has been producing scented oil for the past 15 years, said he has been exporting the medicinal herbs as raw materials for medicines.

    But the traders lamented that the government’s failure to create good environment to establish a herb processing industry has made the matter worse. Shukla said that they should be allotted a licence to export scented oil from the district itself instead of Kathmandu .   

    Hundreds of tonnes of medicinal herbs is reported to have been supplied to Nepalgunj from mountaneous and hilly districts every month.  

    The traders said that most of the medicinal herbs often rot, deteriorating their quality, for want of a well-equipped store house. The NHEA said that 67 medicinal herbs were exported to India from Nepalgunj border point last year. The Department of Forestry has established a well-equipped laboratory in Nepalgunj. The laboratory staffers said they test 10 samples of the medicinal herbs every day.   

    Officials at the Department of Forestry believe that it will help herb traders to get good price for their products after testing quality of the herbs.  

    Meanwhile, local people of Thakurdwaraa in Bardiya are benefitting from the Mentha oil farming. Kamal Kumar Chaudhary, a local, said that he made Rs 200,000 from the sale of 100 liters Mentha oil last year. He has been in the Mentha oil farming for the past 12 years. The income from the farming has enabled him to purchase a plot of land for Rs 4 million, build a concrete house, enrol his children into a private school and support his 12-member family.

    Posted on: 2013-11-19 08:05

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    Nov 19, 2013
    Justine Crono

    UB undergraduates to research medicinal plants, culture of healing in Peru

    BUFFALO, N.Y. – University at Buffalo undergraduate
    students will travel to northern Peru next summer to conduct
    rigorous interdisciplinary research into the biological and
    chemical properties of indigenous medicinal plants and study ways
    in which the plants are employed by the curanderos— the
    region’s native healers — as well as the cultural
    meanings attached to these practices.

    This collaborative effort involving anthropologists, natural
    products chemists, ethnobotanists and physicians in the U.S. and
    Peru is funded by an undergraduate Minority Health International
    Research Training (MHIRT) grant from the National Institutes of
    Health to San Diego State University (SDSU).

    MHIRT involvement in Peru began 11 years ago through the
    collaboration of ethnobotanist Rainer Bussman, director of the
    William L. Brown Center for Plant Genetic Resources, Missouri
    Botanical Garden, and Douglas Sharon, now an adjunct professor of
    anthropology at UB and at SDSU.

    Gail Willsky, associate professor of biochemistry in the UB
    School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, became involved three
    years ago when microbiology and chemistry laboratory work became a
    more important part of the project. Her students previously have
    participated in that aspect of the research.

    This year’s research will consist of two interrelated
    studies in anthropology and laboratory analysis co-directed by
    Willsky and Sharon.

    Ana Mariella Bacigalupo, associate professor in the UB
    Department of Anthropology, will coordinate the anthropology
    portion of the project at UB.

    Willsky, a biochemist whose research areas include the
    anti-diabetic properties of metal-containing compounds, says she
    will work with students “to conduct research into the
    anti-bacterial properties and toxicology of extracts of medicinal
    plant and plant mixtures used by Peruvian healers to treat
    infectious diseases. They also will learn to identify and collect
    plants and to prepare extracts for analysis.”

    These “wet bench” laboratory studies — so
    called because the chemistry generally is conducted in the liquid
    phase at the lab bench — will take place in the Faculty of
    Chemical Engineering at the Universidad Nacional de Trujillo in
    Trujillo, Peru.

    John Crane, an expert in infectious diseases and associate
    professor in the Department of Medicine in the UB medical school,
    will serve as a consultant to the project.

    The anthropological side of the project will be led by Sharon,
    whose work includes extensive research into curanderism and
    medicinal plant use on the northern coast of Peru. He is the author
    of “The Wizard of the Four Winds: A Shaman’s
    Story,” about the mestizo curanderism of the late Eduardo
    Calderon (Sharon now works with Calderon’s daughter, Julia,
    also a curandero) and “Shamanism and the Sacred
    Cactus,” a study of the use of the hallucinogenic San Pedro
    cactus by Peruvian shamans.

    Bacigalupo, who will coordinate the anthropology project at UB,
    has for decades investigated and published on indigenous shamanic
    healing practices among the Mapuche people of Chile. She is the
    author of “The Voice of the Drum in Modernity: Tradition and
    Change in the Healing Therapies of Seven Mapuche Shamans”and
    “Shamans of the Foye Tree: Gender, Power and Healing among
    Chilean Mapuche.”

    “The project’s anthropology research,” she
    says, “will address several areas: the cultural meanings and
    curanderos’ uses of medicinal herbs and herbal mixtures; the
    collaboration between practitioners of modern medicine and the
    curanderos in the fields of phytotherapy, ethnobotany, pharmacy and
    psychology; patients’ health care–seeking behaviors and
    how they navigate traditional versus biomedical health care
    systems; and the impact of traditional medicine and ethnobotany on
    the improvement of health care in Trujillo.”

    This work, says Bacigalupo, will be conducted at the homes of
    curanderos and at the Centro de Atención en Medicina
    Complementaria (CAMEC)-EsSalud in Trujillo, a center for
    complementary medicine, as well as at the highland gardens of
    medicinal herbs in Huamachuco, on the Andean cordillera.

    Additional direction will be provided by medical anthropologist
    Linda Kahn, research associate professor and National Research
    Service Award fellow in the Department of Family Medicine in the UB
    medical school.

    Sharon’s previous ethnobotanical and anthropological
    studies with Rainer Bussmann, director of the William L. Brown
    Center, Missouri Botanical Garden, have characterized the
    pharmacopia of the curanderos in this region and examined some of
    the ways in which traditional and biochemical treatments are
    understood and sought by patients.

    In 2010, they reported in the Journal of Ethnobiology and
    Ethnomedicine (6:10) their compilation of 974 herbal mixtures made
    from 330 different plants used by the curanderos to treat 164
    different afflictions.

    Willsky’s lab previously identified 16, two-plant mixtures
    used by Peruvian curanderos specifically to treat infectious
    disease. Seven of these mixtures were studied in 2012 and 2013, and
    the 2014 summer project will continue that work.

    Information for prospective participants

    The cost for students participating in the Peruvian study is
    $2,800, which includes airfare, lodging, local transportation and

    Medical students are eligible for funding through the UB School
    of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.

    Undergraduate minority students are eligible for funding through
    Institute of Health, Minority Health and Health Disparities
    International Research Training Grant

    Minority, first-generation and low-income undergraduate students
    are eligible for funding through the McNair
    scholars program

    Anthropology students must be fluent in Spanish. Previous
    coursework on native healing traditions in Latin America and
    ethnographic research methodologies is helpful. Interested
    anthropology students should contact Bacigalupo at

    Students participating in the laboratory work must have
    experience in traditional laboratory chemistry and biology courses.
    Prior research experience is helpful. Interested biomedical
    students should contact Willsky at

    Nov 18, 2013
    Justine Crono

    Eight is enough

    Spoilt for choices: Vote for your favourite interview featured on 988 this year.

    Spoilt for choices: Vote for your favourite interview featured on 988 this year.

    Nov 17, 2013
    Justine Crono

    "Why We Garden" Nov. 20 at SJI Grange


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    Why We Garden Wednesday, November 20, 2013 San Juan Island Grange Hall Program begins at 7 pm, preceded by a 6 pm potluck.

    San Juan Island Grange #966 continues its 2013 Fall Lecture Series with a program on Why We Garden at 7 p.m. Wednesday November 20, 2013 at the San Juan Island Grange Hall.

    The program begins at 7 pm, preceded by a potluck at 6 pm. Everyone is welcome and encouraged to attend.

    Why do we garden? Local author Jim Nollman will talk about his gardening and read from his book Why We Garden, including an excerpt on medicinal herbs and The Sentient Garden.


    Nov 16, 2013
    Justine Crono

    Medieval passion of Bois Richeux

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    Nov 15, 2013
    Justine Crono

    One Bunch of Fresh Cannabis Leaves

    The recipe, in case you don’t remember it, is very mid-century and fruitcake-esque; crushed dates, figs, almonds, and peanuts, sprinkled with nutmeg, pepper, cinnamon, coriander, and cannabis, and rolled into balls. I asked my friend, Laurent Quenioux, a shameless raider of window boxes—a man who once cooked his neighbor’s chicken when it wandered into his back yard—if he could provide a cannabis recipe more suited to the times.

    I met Laurent reporting a piece on the food movement’s embrace of edible insects; he took me on a run to the border to collect ant larvae, which he later cooked and served at his pop-up restaurant. On the way, he told me that it was his dream to explore the culinary potential of marijuana—marijuana as a flavor, rather than as a means to an end. Its legal status—a gray area in California, where we both live—was beside the point.

    He spent the next year sourcing ingredients: marijuana from a suburban grow house, angelica root, and wolfberries from a Chinese apothecary in the San Gabriel Valley. (He opened the inquiry to other medicinal herbs.) He planned a party: a secret dinner for super-adventurous eaters, designed to broaden people’s minds about what is edible and what is delicious. And he tested recipes. One day, hanging out in the kitchen of the restaurant that housed his pop-up—a restaurant that had started as an illegal underground supper club—I smelled something outrageous. In my book, “Anything That Moves: Renegade Chefs, Fearless Eaters, and the Making of a New American Food Culture,” I describe the smell as a Jamaican beach: pot smoke and Bain de Soleil.

    This is what it was:

    Underground Pop-Up Weed-Dinner Green Congee

    1 pound net filet of Atlantic Monkfish
    2 tablespoons of infused cannabis coconut butter
    1 bunch basil
    1 bunch epazote
    1 bunch of fresh cannabis leaves
    1 bunch of spinach
    8 tablespoons of infused Cannabis oil
    Salt, pepper to taste
    3 cloves of fresh garlic
    1 pound of ready-to-use cooked congee
    2 tablespoons of butter

    In a saucepan, blanch all leaves (epazote, basil, spinach, cannabis) for two minutes, then drain and cool. In a blender, add the blanched leaves, salt and pepper, garlic, 3 three tablespoons of water, and 8 tablespoon of oil, and blend until the mixture is a smooth consistency.

    Warm up slowly the congee and stir frequently.

    Cut the monkfish in four nice pieces, season with salt and pepper, and sauteé for 3 minutes on each side in a saucepan with the coconut butter. Mix the pesto into the congee and add the butter.

    Spoon the cannabis congee into a shallow bowl and top with the sautéed monkfish; decorate with a fresh cannabis leaf.

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