Happy Summer Solstice!

I love this time of the year--the heat, the exceedingly long days here in the Northwest (9:30p sunset), and the fact that everything is blooming so rapidly that it's like watching fireworks. This edition of the newsletter features-

  • research news
  • Linden: Tilia spp. plant profile
  • Clinic story: the importance of respecting other visions of healing
  • Herbal gelatin recipes
  • Notable reading around the web
  • Registration is open for the Dandelion Seed Conference!

I hope you enjoy what I gathered for you! With Summer solstice blessings, 


Research News

There have been some really exciting research developments this past month on the human microbiome, immunity, and herbal medicine.
A research team at Ohio State University found a relationship between toddlers' temperament and the presence of specific types of intestinal bacteria (in both girls and boys). See the full release here.

University of Virginia School of Medicine researchers found lymphatic vessels in the brain, linking neurological health and immunity. This changes decades of doctrine that dictates that the brain has no lymph drainage. "We believe that for every neurological disease that has an immune component to it, these vessels may play a major role," Kipnis said. See the full press release here.

SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth) can interfere with nutrient absorption and cause IBS and leaky gut, leading to further complications. It is usually treated with a course of rifaximin 1200 mg/ day for 10-14 days. With this antibiotic treatment, recurrence occurs in almost half of SIBO patients within a year.
This study (a retrospective chart review, not a prospective controlled trial) with 104 people with SIBO demonstrated that herbal therapies can be as effective as rifaxamim at treating SIBO. The 4-week herbal therapy included the following products-
  • Dysbiocide and FC Cidal, or
  • Candibactin-AR and Candibactin-BR

A study from Penn State tracked markers of inflammation along with daily stressors and mood. The researchers found that the frequency of stressors is not as influential on inflammation as the emotions in relation to the stressor. “A person’s frequency of stress may be less related to inflammation than responses to stress,” says Sin. “It is how a person reacts to stress that is important.”

The NIH is now mandating the consideration of sex as a biological variable in grant applications.  For those interested in biological anthropology or research design, see this post by a NIH principal investigator for a great overview of the issue.

Preovulatory hormone surges and ovulation may be controlled by circadian rhythms. This provides more explanation why women with irregular work or sleep schedules have reduced fertility. See more information here.

Tilia spp. plant profile

Biking to my office last week, I took an alternative route through my neighborhood. (I live in a historic neighborhood close to downtown Olympia, and every yard is filled with vegetable and flower beds, native and ornamental trees, and weeds of all kinds. I like to properly scout the area.) That day, an imitable fragrance grabbed me like a crook to the neck. It was 3 linden trees. Linden is incredibly underappreciated in the United States. In Europe, the flowers and bracts are widely consumed in teas. My mother recollects Tilleul tea at night in Romania to calm the nerves and soothe tension. But linden is underused here, and few are informed about its medicinal capacities. 

I screeched my brakes on the bike and knocked on the door of the owners of the property. I received a warm welcome from a woman named Georgina, and I asked if she'd be willing to let me harvest some of the bracts for tea. She was amazed. "Really? It can be used for tea?!" She admired the fragrance but did not know it had any health benefits. She followed me out and we talked at length about linden.

Linden blooms in early to midsummer (usually late June to early July, when the St. John's wort and Yarrow is flowering.) When linden trees are flowering, they are covered in bees. Bees love linden, and their association is reflected in the sweet, honey-like aroma of the flowers. The fragrance alone reveals the identity of the tree. But its physical characteristics are defining. The flowers are white and pale yellow in color, and nearly translucent. There are 2 sets of leaves-the pale green bracts and the heart-shaped partially serrated leaves of a darker green hue. The trees can reach heights of 130 feet. The leaves and flowers can get sticky if aphids are present. Aphids secrete sap from these trees. It's common for ants to also inhabit the tree, as they milk the aphids. 

I've heard a few tragic stories about insectides being used on linden trees for ant infestations which ultimately eradicated entire bee colonies. So please be careful and encourage consideration to your neighbors who have linden trees. For this reason it's important to determine if a linden tree has been sprayed before any parts are gathered.

Linden is commonly planted as an ornamental tree in the US, and is more easily found in the Eastern states. But the Tilia species ranges in North America and Western Europe, and there are several Tilia species which can be used interchangeably. In North American, T. americana predominates. In Europa, T. europa is the most commonly-encountered variety. Linden also has a couple of aliases: basswood, lime tree. 

Tea is the most common preparation for linden. Infusions from the bracts and flowers can be consumed as hot tea or iced (which is delicious). You want to make sure that the infusion is covered, and it's best left for 10-15 minutes before straining. The tea is easy to administer, as it is sweet and fragrant in flavor. Linden can also be tinctured, and this is what we have on-hand at the Olympia Free Herbal Clinc. The flowers are edible (but may be a little tough)--I've enjoyed them on salads, and in gelatin snacks. 

As an medicinal plant, linden is cooling and moistening in its activity. Its historic uses include treating high blood pressure, promoting sweating in influenza, and soothing tension and anxiety.  

Some of my favorite combinations with linden include-

  • A formula of equal parts linden, hawthorn, and motherwort for high blood pressure and anxiety
  • Equal parts linden and chamomile in a soothing evening tea (and to alleviate insomnia in children)
  • Equal parts linden, yarrow, and elder flower during a cold or flu

There is very little contemporary research on linden (other than some obscure in vitro studies on cancer cell lines), which is just fine, as this herb does its job nonetheless. The calming effects of this herb are easily perceived, and its uses are flexible. This uplifting, elevating herb is a little taste of heaven, and can be used for anyone who needs a reminder.

In the Clinic

The importance of respecting others' visions of healing, especially when they differ from your own.

Some time ago I worked on a client who was seeing several types of practitioners--myself, an herbalist, as well as a bodyworker, and physical therapist. This client, Rebecca, had been a cross country athlete but suffered a broken leg while skiing, and had very limited mobility.

I was working with Rebecca on supportive treatments for chronic UTIs--a combination of immune supportive mushrooms and urinary antiseptics. The bodyworker was doing supportive work on her back, had a few strategies she thought could help her regain full use of her leg. But Rebecca was resistant to this idea--after years of trying to regain full movement and strength after her accident, she began to cope with and adjust to the idea that she may never do so. So she stopped pursuing that goal, and was not receptive. The bodyworker was stunned. She came into my office and expressed confusion why someone would be walled off to such a seemingly deep and complete healing. To me, it seemed as if her evolution took a different course and, in her words, she did not see her situation as "a wound that needed to be healed." Instead, she was pursuing spiritual practices and her chief health goals were supporting her immune system, managing stress, but most of all her spiritual development and connection with nature.

This story inspires us to remember that each of us may have such unique views of the healing process. And while we might see pathways to healing as obvious (of course she wants to regain full use of her leg!), their evolution and growth may have taken a different turn. And it behooves each and every one of us to honor that. 


Herbal Gelatin Recipes
Grass fed beef or porcine gelatin has a numerous health benefits. I love gelatin snacks for their gut healing qualities.Lauren Schoefeld has a great overview here. Making gelatin is incredibly easy and stores well.  Here's the base recipe:
  1. Heat 4c of liquid on the stove on med-high until it reaches a light boil
  2. Stir in 4T of grass fed gelatin and whisk until completely dissolved (or use less if you like softer gelatin)
  3. Pour into dish and set in refrigerator until cool
That's it! You can use any liquid you like--coconut milk, fruit juice, herbal tea, or even kombucha. You can incorporate any fruit or herbs while the water is heating up. Just watch the temperature- fragrant herbs don't like to boil. Here are my favorite herbal modifications.

Linden Flower Power
After you stir in the gelatin, infuse it with a good handful or fresh or dry linden bracts and flowers. Let sit for 10-15 minutes. Add 1T of rosewater and any sweetener you like to taste. Pour into the dish and add fresh fruit (raspberries do very well), and any edible flowers: linden flowers, rose petals, calendula, borage flowers--you get the idea! (Thanks Ben Zappin for the inspiration!)

Raspberry & Lemon balm Gelatin 
Stir in 1c of raspberries and a handful of fresh lemon balm leaves while the water is heating up. Stir in 1T of rosewater right before you pour it into the dish. 
Around the Web
Guido Mase has an excellent essay on systems and resilience science, vitalism, and how it relates to herbal medicine at Bear Medicine Herbals.

Rebecca Altman's post on sage and clarity is something you should read. "True clarity is not just the clarity and confidence of knowing who we are and where we’re going, but also the clarity of understanding that this will change, and that there will always be periods when we feel lost. I’d go even further: these periods of confusion are the times that we grow. It might not feel good (do growing pains ever feel good?) but they are a sign that the world we know is shifting."

Jesse Wolf Hardin penned an incredible essay: The Good, The Bad, & The Efficacious: Reassessing How We Think & Speak About Herbs, Ailments, & Ourselves. He dissects the language that we use when we describe ourselves and our colleagues. Highly recommended. 
Registration is open for the Dandelion Seed Conference 

The Dandelion Seed Conference is happening again! Join us at the Longhouse at the Evergreen State College October 9-11 2015. 

This is the third annual conference, focused again on herbal medicine for community and social healing. Early bird registration is now available for $150 here. 
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