Chestnut Herbal School

Food as Medicine

Violet’s Edible and Medicinal Uses

Violets are welcome “weeds” in my garden. In fact, the common blue violet—my particular brand of violet garden guest—is native to these parts, which is more than I can say for myself. The common blue violet (Viola sororia, Violaceae) is native to most of central and eastern North America. It is a common sight in lawns, gardens, sidewalk cracks and along trailsides. The common blue violet is typically considered a “weed” because of its relative ease in adapting to human disturbance, but it pushes the definition of weed because it has been on this continent for a very long time. The leaves and flowers of the common blue violet, along with many other species, are edible and medicinal. The “confederate violet” is an escaped cultivar (cultivated variety) of Viola sororia—it has white flowers with blue streaks and is a common inhabitant of lawns in the southeastern United States.

The Ecology of Estrogen in the Female Body

Women today live in a very different world than our foremothers. Our female predecessors began menstruating later in life, had more children, breastfed longer, underwent menopause earlier, ate whole foods, and lived in a cleaner environment. Women today have approximately ten times as many menstrual cycles as their great-great-grandmothers. Our bodies did not evolve with the hormonal inputs of perpetual ovulation and menstruation. As a result, more women than ever are experiencing reproductive disorders, such as endometriosis, uterine fibroids and ovarian cysts.

Roselle Hibiscus Pomegranate Fire Cider and the Medicine and Cultivation of Hibiscus

I try not to foster any regrets in life. But I must confess that I waited too many years to plant hibiscus, thinking the temperate climate unsuitable for its success, and for that, I am sorry. It is, in fact, easy to grow and harvest if you have the right variety and get a head start on the season.

Pineapple Sage – Hummingbirds and herbal flowered persimmon goat cheese

Pineapple Sage - Hummingbirds and herbal flowered persimmon goat cheese Roll out the red carpet for pineapple sage, flaunting her cherry-red bilabiate flowers atop slender racemes. Numerous pollinators flock to her elegant flowering branches, seeking nutritious pollen, sipping nectar, and dutifully transferring pollen from anther to stigma. Pineapple sage’s entourage includes: butterflies, bees, ants and [...]

Herbal Ice Cubes

How many times have you found yourself in this embarrassingly uncomfortable situation?You invite a treasured friend over on a hot summer afternoon and reach for the herbal iced tea you have lovingly prepared from fresh aromatic herbs in your garden, but then you realize with sinking humiliation that you only have plain jane ice cubes […]

Turmeric Chives Deviled Eggs

Turmeric Chives Chipotle Deviled Eggs As a child, deviled eggs were one of my favorite picnic items on the fourth of July. As an adult, I appreciate the traditional seasonal and ritual aspect to food, and make deviled eggs every year on the fourth. Honestly, I am not especially patriotic, fancying myself an inhabitant of […]

Cherry Chipotle Nopales Salsa and the Medicine of Prickly Pear

Ingredients: 2 medium tomatoes 2 medium sized nopales (cactus pads) * ½ sweet onion 1 cup black cherries 1/8  teaspoon sea salt 1/10 teaspoon chipotle powder 2 limes ¼ of a small bunch of cilantro (to taste) Handful of edible flowers – calendula, scarlet runner beans, and a touch of red clover are the flowers […]