The Truth about Cinnamon and Diabetes

There are literally hundreds of substances mentioned in the news and online that supposedly help people with diabetes. Not all of them are supported by scientific tests and studies. However, there have been quite a few studies done on cinnamon and its relationship with blood-sugar levels. It appears that this may be the ‘real deal’. Cinnamon information The cinnamon spice we use comes from the cambium or inner bark of a shrub-like tree. This is removed, ground, soaked in salt water and then the water is removed. The dried cinnamon is often pulverized at this point to result in a powder. All of this is well and good, but there are well in excess of 200 species of cinnamon plants. Of those commonly sold in the United States and throughout the world, two species are the most common. One is usually called true cinnamon and the other is sometimes called cassia. True cinnamon has been used for thousands of years, including medicinally. It is even mentioned in the bible. Cassia hasn’t been in use nearly as long. People might wonder if the studies were done with both true cinnamon and cassia and the answer is yes. The results are similar between the two and if anything, cassia may be the more beneficial of the two. The studies and findings Independent studies have been done in 2003, 2006, 2007 (two separate studies done that year) and 2012. The results of all of these is interesting, to say the least. It is important Continue Reading →

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Wild herbs – Terrific Tasty Tarragon

Believe it or not, there isn’t much difference between wild tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus) and the tarragon you can buy in the store. The store-bought variety is simply a specific cultivar, most often French tarragon. The fact is that all cultivars can be used in the same way and wild tarragon is a plant that grows wild through most of North America, Europe and Asia. It is occasionally called dragon wormwood because of its scientific name; dracunulus, meaning dragon. Wild tarragon in general This wild herb is found in places that get dry and that drain well, but which also get plenty of sunshine. In Montana, it is found from the lowlands of about 3,000 feet to mountainous country that is in excess of 5,000 feet. Tarragon is a perennial, bushy and hardy member of the sunflower family. Because of its hardiness, it is found from the Yukon in Canada to Southern California and east through Texas. It also grows in the midwest states. The plants are variable in size, from barely over a foot tall to about six feet in height. The leaves can get about three inches long but are quite narrow. On smaller plants, they don’t reach this length. The flowers are also tiny, seldom as broad as a fifth of an inch, most often dull yellow to yellowish-green. These produce a lot of seeds, but in some species, the seeds are infertile. Wild tarragon grows up from a rhyzomous root, rather like those of crabgrass. It can Continue Reading →

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Making Your Own Essential Oils and Tinctures

Many plants have great qualities for use with everything from medicinal purposes, to scenting candles and soaps, to flavoring foods, to making rooms and clothing smell good. If you’ve looked at the price of essential oils or tinctures, though, you’ve probably noticed that they tend to be quite expensive. Part of the cost has to do with how the active ingredients are removed from the plants. Without going into details about the different ways this is done commercially, you can save a substantial amount of money by making your own essential oils and tinctures. It isn’t even particularly hard to do. The difference between essential oils and tinctures While it isn’t true in all circumstances, essential oils are normally used outside of the body and tinctures are most often taken internally. Technically, the difference between the two is that essential oils have an oil base and tinctures have an alcohol base or more rarely, a water base. Although some plants shouldn’t be consumed, I make it a point to make sure that the essential oils that I make are edible. That is, I won’t make the oils out of plants that are dangerous to swallow. That doesn’t mean that the essential oil will always be great to eat, but it does mean that they won’t normally be dangerous if they are consumed. Because of that, the oil base that I use is olive oil. It doesn’t need to be high quality virgin or extra virgin olive oil. Less expensive olive Continue Reading →

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Growing and Using Lemon Balm

Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis), also known as Common Balm, Lemon Mint or Sweet Balm, is an easy to grow perennial herb that has enough uses to make it valuable to grow in herb gardening or even in flower beds. The herb grows best in rich well-drained garden soil, but it will grow almost anywhere; in poor or dry soil, in full sunlight, in shaded areas, and in those that are somewhere between the extremes. It will even do well in a pot or container garden. It is also hardy and will overwinter in areas that get down to 0 degrees F. without extra mulching or additional care. In fact, I just went out and got some, though it has been over a week since our temperatures have been above freezing. The leaves were dried, but they still taste good. Our winters get down to -30 F or below every year, yet with a few inches of leaves over the top of them, they will come back up next spring. Unlike many other members of the mint family, balm isn’t a fast spreading plant, though it reseeds itself readily if allowed to bolt or go to seed. It has a square stem that rarely reaches over 2 feet in height, and soft rounded, barely toothed leaves that have a lemony aroma when bruised, as well as a distinctive lemon flavor. The flowers are usually whitish to pale yellow in color. The roots are shallow and fibrous, and the plant transplants well. Continue Reading →

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Nutritious and Healthy Lamb’s Quarters

Lamb’s quarters (Chenopodium album) is an annual plant that is commonly thought of as a weed in lawns and gardens, however it is quite edible and flavorful. This is an edible weed that is another of the survival foods that people should appreciate more, rather than spending so much effort poisoning, pulling and otherwise trying to eradicate it from the yard. Lamb’s Quarters description This widespread plant is also called goosefoot, white goosefoot, wild spinach or pigweed. The latter designation is because it is a member of the pigweed family and because pigs enjoy the great flavor. The plant usually grows up to three feet tall, though normally less than this. Depending on the location and the growing conditions, it can get much taller, however. The leaves are green on top and whitish below. From a distance, this can give the plants a look as if dust has settled upon them. The leaves are broad at the base and taper to the end. The edges are usually smooth or toothed, though not normally deeply. The flowers are green, small, lack petals and there are a great number of them that grow tightly around the stem. Each plant is usually capable of producing in excess of 50,000 seeds. Lamb’s quarters is hardy and will grow in most locations that have reasonably good soil and sunlight. It withstands both cold and hot temperature and it is drought hardy. The white that is under the leaves is actually a waxy coating that waterproofs Continue Reading →

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