Saturday, June 25, 2011

Nettles pack power as ‘people’s medicine’

Published Tuesday, June 25th 2011

Nettles pack power as ‘people’s medicine’

• Alaska’s wild plant expert Janice Schofield pays Homer a visit, plans a new herbal medicine book based on native flora
By Naomi Klouda
Homer Tribune

Janice Schofield
Janice Schofield
The backyard, full of dandelions, horsetails, devil’s club and nettles may seem more problem than gift. But each of those plants has a use that is power-packed for health.

Consider that in Japan, devil’s club was literally loved to death. Today, the plant needs to be imported because widespread use as a healing herb has nearly wiped them out, said Janice Schofield, a foremost authority on Alaska’s wild plants who made a visit to Homer to host an edible plant workshop last week.
Nettles are shy plants often found behind or shaded by large wild shrubs. Hikers know the sting and the burning itch of bare-skin contact. Horsetails, that ancient plant that shows up in fossil records from the dinosaur era, can be used to immediately counteract the sting by scrubbing it across the irritated area.

Nettles offer a powerhouse for remedies to keep a prostate healthy, cure a urinary track infection and inhibit bleeding, said Schofield, author of “Discovering Wild Plants” and “Alaska’s Wild Plants.” Her first acquaintance with the weeds began here in Kachemak Bay in the early 1980s. She spent a year studying nettles. “I realized I was only at the tip of the iceberg – there is such a long relationship between humans and nettles.”

In her fascination, Schofield wrote an entire book, “Nettles,” in the Keats Good Herb Guide series, that currently is out of print and in want of a new publisher.

The book goes into great detailed explanation of the plant’s chemical properties and how they function. Teens may want to try a nettle concoction to help alleviate acne. The fresh-pressed juice of nettle plants is laden with chlorophyll and other nutrients. In France, nettles are used as medical treatment for mild to moderate acne. Here’s an explanation she presents from an herbalist: “Since the blood must maintain its slightly alkaline pH and since nearly all the waste products the body produces are acid, something like nettle tea helps to add electrolytes and alkali to assist the buffering system when under stress, and nettle specifically helps increase the transport and excretion of blood nitrogen waste products.”

For this reason, a cup of nettle tea one to three times a day can help relieve acne and other painful skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis. Even arthritis can be relieved by ingesting nettles as a tonic. The juice can be preserved by adding 10 percent grain alcohol or 25 percent brandy. Or, Schofield recommends, freeze the fresh juice in ice cube trays and thaw one as needed.

When hiking in summer, any number of mishaps can occur in the outdoors. It might come in handy to know that nettles can inhibit bleeding because it is an astringent and tightens tissues. Nettle powder can be sprinkled on cuts to aid in coagulation.

Schofield also found research that credits a mixture of burdock and nettles (half and half) taken as a tea eases premenstrual syndrome. Nettle root has been used to treat enlarged or irritated prostates. Drinking nettle tea during pregnancy (be sure to get nettles in the early spring only) aids health and afterward, helps nursing mothers produce milk. Nettle seeds, which contain oils and traces of formic acid, can be used as a scalp conditioner and hair-growth stimulant for people who have undergone chemotherapy. Take a teaspoon of seeds, soak in a cup of hot water for twenty minutes and use as a rinse after shampooing, recommends herbalist Michael Moore in Schofield’s research.

Young plants are best
The only case of a person dying or becoming ill from nettle use that Schofield knows of occurred in Australia where a species of nettles is a dangerous rainforest dweller. Contact with the razor sharp hairs burn for weeks and months even. But the Alaska variety is safe if taken in its prime. Later in the season, when the plant’s leaves are larger than two-inches in diameter and it starts flowering, it becomes unhealthy.

“If you are observing the plant, it will tell you if it’s the right time to use it,” Schofield said. “When it’s young, it’s vibrant and juicy. As it’s older, it becomes courser and dry, constricting fluids and juices.”

Nettles are best used in the spring, when the plant is 10-12 inches high. But if you have a grove of nettles in the yard that you have used as the season progresses, they tend to replenish themselves and can be harvested all summer. Look for the small new growths in a nettle grove that may be hidden by the more mature stalks. Plants in use tend to oblige humans by growing back more plentifully. “After they flower, the plant becomes more irritating to the urinary track. Once bugs get into the nettles, the harvest is over,” she advises.

How Scholfield began
Schofield came to know Alaska’s herbs and write numerous articles and books on the subject because there was so little out there. In 1980, she and her husband moved to the head of Kachemak Bay and later they lived by Red Mountain. She had earned her degree in home economics and felt a keen curiosity about the nettle groves around her, as well as other plants she found fascinating like wild roses, dandelions and devils club. What could they be used for? Few books were available to help answer her extensive curiosity, so she decided to write one. Her quest took her all over the state, seeking out traditional Alaska Native uses and researching herbalists’ works and scientific findings from around the globe. Thirty years and thousands of pages later, Schofield is highly sought out as probably Alaska’s foremost expert on wild plants. Her workshop, co-hosted with Nancy Lee Evans, was attended by 24 people.

“What you see now is the byproduct of trial and error, flops and successful attempts,” Schofield said in an interview with the Homer Tribune. Now she lives in New Zealand, and is writing another book, “Health Plants of Alaska.” Sadly, much of the manuscript burned in a fire that destroyed her home earlier this year.
Her trip to Homer was the first trip back to her beloved Kachemak Bay in four years.

Weeds and wild plants tend to be taken for granted- or attacked with strong killing sprays – but Alaskans probably shouldn’t do that, she said. “The pureness and availability makes Alaska plants very healthy. Other places don’t always have these plants. Dandelions, for example – they don’t grow in the wild in New Zealand.”

Devil’s club was wiped out in Japan because the stems and roots are found to be beneficial as a medicine to regulate sugar levels, as in diabetes, and also to regulate blood pressure.

“This is the people’s medicine, these weeds. It’s to use for health, not just as a medicine which is what you need when you are sick. It keeps you in balance, strengthens immunity – its how to keep your family, kids and animals healthy.”

To start with, Schofield recommends getting to know 10 plants around your yard. Many in Homer contain dandelions, devils club, cow parsley (puski), nettles, horsetail, wild roses, raspberry plants and fireweed. All of these have specific uses.

“They form a community of plants, an ecosystem, and a good reason to not eradicate them through weed killers is because once one is gone, the community health of plants suffer,” she said. “They keep the landscape healthy.”

HOMER TRIBUNE/Naomi Klouda - An abundance of local recipes for nettle use are shared in Homer. Lasse Holmes creates a Nettle Creme Tonic beer; Two Sister’s Bakery Owner Carrie Thurman makes a nesto pesto. Public Health Nurse Bonnie Betley makes pasta of nettles and the Kilcher family is credited with many other suggested uses. Schofield lists many in her books as well.
HOMER TRIBUNE/Naomi Klouda - An abundance of local recipes for nettle use are shared in Homer. Lasse Holmes creates a Nettle Creme Tonic beer; Two Sister’s Bakery Owner Carrie Thurman makes a nesto pesto. Public Health Nurse Bonnie Betley makes pasta of nettles and the Kilcher family is credited with many other suggested uses. Schofield lists many in her books as well.
A commenter to the article also left this added bit of helpful information:
As a big herbal medicine aficionado, I try to make all my own herbal tinctures as well. My favorite reference is Charles Kane’s Herbal Medicine-Trends and Traditions…a fantastic herbal resource book. It’s the only herbal I’ve seen to have tincture-making worksheets, and the proper alc/water percentages and dosages for 400+ herbs…highly recommended as a medicine-makers manual.

Thursday, June 23, 2011


Today we hung around the RV park and played hopscotch for the first time with the boys.  They had so much fun but Pete (the dog) really wanted to join in.  He kept going and laying down right in the middle of it all, lol.  I had to make him get up and move more times than I can count.

Had to share, as it was loads of old fashion fun we'll definitely be doing again.  If your like me and have forgotten how to play, there are directions for the original game of hopscotch here.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Photo Hunt Day!

Today we had to drive Marty into the airport so he could fly back to work.  Although I wouldn't trade his work schedule in for a million town jobs, I can't wait for 2 weeks to fly by and see him again.

On the ride home the kids and I decided to have a little fun and go on a photo hunt.  I told them if they saw something weird, wacky, wild, fun or neat we would stop the truck and get a picture of them next to their find.  Whatever it was it had to be something that really drew their eye in.

I had to help our 3 yr old find things but it was SO interesting seeing the world according to my 4 year old.  He choose several beautiful old churches and cathedrals, showing me he has an eye for architecture!  I am always drawn to houses, and Marty doesn't really care so much about building character so this was truly seeing BJ's taste come out.  Maybe in 20 years or so he can turn this architecture appeal into a career!  We took TONS of photos that won't make it to this blog because the kids are in them, but here are a few photos we took with nobody in them.

Old International
LJ is really REALLY into trucks, so this was one of the neat things I helped him find.

We were checking out a church BJ found when he started hollering about "SHOES!!!"

One of BJ's picks.  What child wouldn't be drawn to this?

Both of the boys were excited to see a plane crash into a roof - I made sure and told them it wasn't real but just staged.

LJ loved this old truck.

I wish I could share the other shots, they were so much better, but you get the idea.  We had such a good time doing this, I'd love to put together a photo album with just photos from this little adventure.  And it was Cheap fun!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Hot Rod Cafe

3/20/12 UPDATE: Hot Rod Cafe closed their doors and went out of business in either February or March of 2012. Such a BUMMER - as it was such a great place to go. Here's to hoping someone will eventually resurrect this place when economic times are better.


We've been staying at the Coeur D' Alene RV Resort in Post Falls, Idaho for about a week.  We had hoped to find a good park in Spokane, or Spokane Valley but found that many weren't all that great.  No place to open your awning and let the kids play, or no yard, or just bad locations.  We finally found the park here in Post Falls and fell in love with it.  They have an amazing staff, an indoor swimming pool, exercise room and the whole park is really well kept.

If your in the area you can find them at:
2652 East Mullan Avenue
Post Falls, ID 83854
(208) 773-3527


Hot Rod Cafe
Anyway just down the road is the neatest little cafe!

Hot Rod Cafe
The parking lot alone is fun to drive through, even on a slow day.

Hot Rod Cafe

Chevy Impala


Love this car, very stealth.

34 Ford
1934 Ford

We actually saw much more in the parking lot but I'll stop here and show you inside.

Hot Rod Cafe
This is their waiting area.  The boys were happy as clams to sit here!

Hot Rod Cafe
The entrance/exit.

Hot Rod Cafe

Hot Rod Cafe

Hot Rod Cafe

Hot Rod Cafe
This was an ice-cream station you could access from the other side, the boys went and checked it out while I took the other photos.

Hot Rod Cafe
And when you order a children's meal, they bring the fries in these lovely fry baskets, aren't they neat looking?

We have several other photos of the Hot Rod Cafe if you'd like to see them.

It's a great place to stop in and have a meal (the food is pretty good), they also have weekend car shows all the time in the parking lot.  In fact at one point during a drive by we saw huge smoke plumes and on closer look from the highway discovered it wasn't some enormous building caught fire, but people smoking their tires during a car show, lol!

Anyway if your in the area and want to stop in, the Cafe can be found at:
1610 Schneidmiller Avenue
Post Falls, ID 83854-7065
(208) 777-1712

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Another Day Around Spokane

Franks Diner
Today we decided to spend the day exploring more of Spokane.    What better place to start than dining out in a train?  None of us have ever dined in a train car so we were kind of excited to hear about this place.

Franks Diner

Franks Diner
Just on the end outside is this huge dome in the outdoor ceiling, it really caught my eye.  Amazing craftsmanship.

Franks Diner
Isn't it beautiful?

Franks Diner
When you walk in there's an area to wait until they're ready to seat you.  With it being a train, seating is limited of course.  :)

Franks Diner
You can sit at the counter or at a booth.

Franks Diner
The ceiling is just amazing, the little stained glass windows bring such an old classy charm to it.

Franks Diner
These are the booths, I wish I had gotten a better picture of them.  Through some of the windows on the left they had displays of old train artifacts.  Very cool to see.

We ordered the eggs benedict, an omelet and the boys got pancakes & oatmeal - although it wasn't the best we've ever had, it was pretty good food.  We'd definitely go back and dine again.

After eating we hit the road looking for neat finds and boy did we ever find one.

We turned down a neighborhood road just down the street from BJ's doctor's office and saw this...
Castle House
Another wow moment here in Spokane.  :D

Castle House

Castle House

Castle House
There isn't very much information available on the net, so I'm not terribly sure it's accurate but as far as I can tell some guy built this up around his house over the years, for the fun of it.  I would love to get a tour of it!  Very magical looking but hard to get into one shot.  I took several photos of the Vercler Lane castle if you'd like to see more.

We didn't see the house address but the neighbor to the right is 920 N. Vercler Ln, Spokane Valley, WA

The last few things we saw on our outing today were just as eye catching.

International Harvester, Travelall
An International Harvester, Travelall.  Until today I had never even heard of one.  Kinda looks like a cross between an old Suburban and a Hurst.

"Holiday House"
My most favorite find of the day was this old vintage travel trailer called a "Holiday House".  Looks like a really fun weekend trailer to renovate doesn't it?  I googled and found photos of a renovated version of the Holiday House, looks very charming.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Spokane Sights

Being here in the Spokane area has been really fun.  They have so many neat things around here to see.

Worlds Largest Radio Flyer Wagon
Downtown in Riverfront Park they have the worlds largest Radio Flyer wagon.  It's HUGE and children everywhere just FLOCK to it.  A 26 ton Radio Flyer with a slide handle, rated to hold 300 people.  Crazy huh?  Just looking at this thing makes me joyful, lol.  The boys absolutely love it too.

This is right next to the Radio Flyer wagon.

Garbage Eating Goat.
Another really funny thing we found in Riverfront Park was the garbage eating goat.  If you push that button on the wall just behind the goat, it turns on a vacuum.  I guess it was made years ago as usable art.  You just feed your garbage into it's mouth and it sucks it right up.  The boys are still little, so it really freaked the both of them out.  They took a wide eyed step back in panic until we convinced them the goat wouldn't eat them too.  That was even funnier than running into a garbage eating goat...

So all of that was just in Riverfront Park, but there is even more neat stuff to see out in the city.

Milk Bottle Building
This building is at 800 W. Garland Ave., Spokane, WA.

Milk Bottle Building
This building is at the corner of 4th Ave. West and S Cedar St. in Spokane.

Both of these buildings were Benewah Milk Bottles built in the 30's as retail outlets for the creamery.  I guess each of these buildings only cost about $3,700 to build.  Ha, can you imagine how much it would run today?

I really wanna show up and help volunteer to paint the first building.  So nostalgic, I love them both!

War Horse
One more thing we've finally gotten to do is eat at PF Changs.  It wasn't talk of great food that drew me in, but the fierce horse that they have standing guard at their doors.  We've seen them all over the country but have never been able to stop.  Beautiful isn't it?  I guess one of those horses  runs about $40,000 a piece!  That's a mighty stout steed isn't it??

We're really looking forward to exploring the city more and finding out what other wonderful treasures it has hiding.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Creme De La Creme of ALL Walmart Parking Lots

Yep, you heard that right.  I know, kinda weird to say about a Walmart.

After we left camp we had some appointments to hit in Spokane and decided we would be staying for a spell.  So we parked the RV at Walmart for a few days and went to scout out some real RV parks in the area.

This was by far the best temporary RV park we have EVER stayed in!  I wouldn't usually blog about it but the parking lot was big, there was a little distance from the store, and the best thing was there was a sunk-in lawn the size of a stadium right next to where we parked.  We went down onto the lawn a few times to goof off with the boys and nobody could even see us from the parking lot.  We loved it!  And even better, we didn't have to share it with anyone.

Pictures never do justice...

If your driving through the area and just need an overnight spot, this is the place.

Walmart Supercenter‎
15727 E Broadway Ave
Spokane Valley, WA 99037
(509) 922-8868

Family Camp

At the start of June we battened down the hatches and left Colorado for Washington.  We were bummed to leave our friends, after parking on their farm for so long we really got to feeling like a part of each others families.  I'm really gonna miss them.  But the positive side is that we were glad to be heading for greener views.  Colorado was really fun, and we got to see some amazing places (amazing) but it's also really brown, lol.  I am just not used to so much brown filling the landscapes...

We headed up to a family camp in Washington we had been planning for months.  It was held at Waitts Lake Camp, just outside of Spokane, Washington.  They have RV spaces and dorm rooms for families to stay in so when we decided to join in on the fun we reserved an RV spot.  The funny thing is I made a point to ask them if their RV spaces would be big enough to fit our 40' 5th wheel.  I even said it doesn't fit into all parks.  The person who took our reservations said it would be no problem at all and there was plenty of room.  Hahaha...  We're still giggling about that.

I've been practicing tiny bits of moving the 5th wheel for months here and there but you know it's not much smaller than driving a semi...  It's really scary to get behind the wheel and head for a city, or small back roads!  I'm great on long straight highways, but everything else is tense.  What if I hit the curb, or even further and take out a pole, or a person waiting on the corner?  What if the navigator takes us down the wrong road and I have to make a million point turn?  I'd rather leave it all to Marty but then what if something ever happened to him and I had to take over?  We've even had a few close calls of almost having to move the RV when he was out of town, luckily we got out of it.  Ug, so yeah I've had this doom and gloom looming over me - I need to learn how to do this.

So when we left Colorado, I did EVERYTHING this time around.  Marty was really sweet and made a check list for me to go through before we pulled out which made getting the 5th wheel packed up pretty easy.  I drove most of the way there, (we took shifts because it was a 2 day drive).  I should add that I really want to go back to Wyoming - never thought I would say that but we drove through some beautiful places there.  Stunning actually.  American Stonehenge comes to mind.  I really hate it when we have a time crunch because it seems like those places we don't have time to stop and see are always the most amazing.

Anyway we pulled into camp late only to find tight tight quarters.  I didn't even think we could get the 5th wheel in, the spaces were so. small.  Actually there was only one space we were able to fit, but it was a bit like wedging yourself into an already full sardine can.  Backing up through a twisty woodsy driveway, darn near needing a crowbar to pry ourselves into that RV space, but we did it.  I drove but had absolutely no idea how to do it, so Marty was definitely the brains of that opperation, lol.  I just shut my brain off and did as I was told.  He's so good at this stuff.  And guess what, I did a million point turn and we made it into that spot!  Success!  But I feel quite certain most folks in a 5th wheel our size wouldn't have been able to do it.  It was SO Tight getting around some of those trees.  My husband is really amazing.

This is our spot, the other RV spaces were up that dirt path.

The pictures don't show it very well, but when I see these photos it's like having a reminder that we defeated Goliath!

The camp was really fun.  We got to know several Christian families that we've become great friends with and had all sorts of fun with our kids.

One of the things we did was make masks with the boys.  They loved it.  They even got to paint them after drying.  Someone suggested making the masks closed mouth, and after several people gave a puzzled look to that suggestion the person said, "When you were little and put on a mask with an open mouth, what was the first thing you did with your tongue?"  Yup, I remember...  Haha, I am still laughing at that...  Soo we made both boys masks closed mouthed.  No soggy lips to worry about in the future with those masks thanks to someones brilliance.

They had a big water slide, obstacle course, hiking trails, campfires and songs, lots of fun activities and an awesome cook. I would love to do it again some year.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

The Blue Steed

We were in Denver again in late May and I had a chance to get better pictures of the blue stallion.  I love horses, and at first glance I am always awed at this thing.  It's massive, and kinda fierce looking...  

The site of it on the horizon just commands respect doesn't it? 

32 feet tall so they say.

But then you get closer and it's just one of those weird things that makes you think "Oh My.  What. on. earth??"

There's an eye full of an anatomy lesson for one.

Then the second thing that strikes you is the glowing red eyes.  At certain angles they don't glow, but as you drive by they really come out. 

So the horses manhood showing wasn't necessary, but OK... ? 

The red evil eyes though??  Kinda doesn't make it so neat when you see those. 

But then there's one more thing about this horse that just really gives you pause to give it some distance.  Apparently during it's making while pieces of the horse were being hoisted for final assembly, the torso swung out of control and crushed the artist which sadly killed him...  His family choose to continue on with the plan of putting the horse together and out on display (and I definitely respect their decision on that).

So with all of this, the locals have dubbed the horse "Bluecifer","Satan's Steed" and/or "Blue Devil Horse."

Isn't it such a shame? 

I think it needs a make-over, something to give public opinion a fresh start and a pleasant view.  Some lovely brown eyes would do the trick nicely don't you think?  And yes, maybe even a loin cloth...