Monday, March 24, 2014

Herbalism, Sustainability, and Holistic Links

Herbalists without Borders, an international network of medicinal plant professionals that encourages communication and the development of international projects, safeguards herbal wisdom, creates a representative force to protect plant related crafts, and protects wild medicinal plants.

Herb Geek, a thoughtful blog for herbalists by herbalists.

Countering Racism and Oppression in Holistic Healing, an article that appeared on Decolonizing Yoga.

DIY Herbalism Feed, a collection of great blog posts on DIY Herbalism.

New Anti-Migraine Tiara approved by FDA. It works by stimulating the trigeminal nerve. You know, like acupuncture has for thousands of years...

Foraging Mania! A new Foraging TV show!

American Herbalists' Guild celebrates 25 Years!


Monday, March 17, 2014

Bad Ingredients in Your Body Care Products

What's in your body care? If you get your body care at a chain store (be it a pharmacy, grocery store, big box store, or even a "natural foods market"), it probably has questionable ingredients.

Take a look at the labels and I guarantee you there's at least one unpronounceable item that you are unsure of (unless you use Boline's products, of course!) We took a look at the two "big name" allegedly "natural" body care companies- Tom's of Maine and Burt's Bees and were astonished at what we found.

Tom's of Maine's  products have been recalled numerous time by the FDA. Here are some other ingredients in Tom's:


Parabens are a class of chemicals widely used as preservatives in the cosmetic industry which include methyl, propyl, butyl and ethyl. They are endocrine disruptors that have been linked to cancer as well as an environmental contaminant.


Sodium Laureth Sulfate and Sodium Lauryl Sulfate,which are used as surfactants “lather agents” in most shampoos, are known skin and eye irritants as well as an environmental contaminant. Not only are they harmful but extremely drying to the hair and skin and sadly found in most cosmetic products on the market today because they are an inexpensive ingredient and make mass production cheaper. Consumers have become accustom to “suds” in their cleansers.

Phthalates, DBP, DEP, DEHP, DMP are endocrine disruptors, because they mimic the body’s hormones and have, in laboratory animal tests, been shown to cause reproductive and neurological damage. Most often used to create fragrances in cosmetic products.

Use of carrageenan often carries with it contamination concerns especially in a mass produced facility (in China). So much so that Environmental Working Group (EWG) calls it a hazard. It leads to organ (non-reproductive) system toxicity. Other ingredients with severe contamination concerns are present in Tom's products, too - like cocamidopropyl dimethylamine, 3-dimethylaminopropylamine, and nitrosamines.

There is also this crazy sounding ingredient in some Tom's toothpastes: cocamidopropylbetane. That sounds scary, right? It is. EWG names it as an ecotoxicology hazard, specifically with causing horrible allergies/immunotoxicity reactions.  

Burt's Bees is no longer an artisinal body care company in North Carolina. It is owned by Clorox and its formulas are made in China, mostly. It has been cited by the FDA as having heavy metals in its lip balms. Even their "Baby Bee" products are problematic. It also is written up as having problems with its fragrances  (ecotoxicology, allergies/immunotoxicity, irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs), and organ system toxicity (non-reproductive).

Burt's Bees uses grapefruit seed extract (which is NOT an ingredient I recommend using in formulas nor on its own): It has serious contamination concerns (benzethonium chloride, methylparaben, and/or triclosan)


Additionally, Burt's Bees has ingredients like amylcinnamaldehyde, linalool, and sodium benzoate. These are toxic.

Your body care should be as clean and pure as the food you choose. Eat organic when you can? Your skin absorbs toxins, too. Choose products from Boline Apothecary and know that you are clean and safe.



Monday, March 10, 2014

What Does a Cup of Coffee Entail?

This thoughtful piece is from "Ecological Wakes: the Story of Six Everyday Objects" by Alan Thein Durning (which was published by Northwest Environment Watch in 1994).

What Does a Cup of Coffee Entail?

I brewed a cup of coffee. It took 100 beans to make my cup- about one-fortieth of the beans that grew on that coffee tree that year. The tree was on a small mountain farm in the region of Columbia called Antioquia. The region was cleared of its native forests in the first coffee boom generations ago. These "cloud forests" are among the most endangered ecosystems.

The beans ripened in the shade of the taller trees. Growing them did not require plowing the soil, but it did take several doeses of insecticides, which were synthesized in factories in the Rhine River Valley of Europe. Some of the chemincals entered the respiratory systems of farm workers. Others washed downstream and were absorbed by plants and animals.

The beans were picked by hand and removed form the fruit that encased them in a diesel powdered crusher. They were dried under the sun and shipped to New Orleans in a 132 pound bag. The frieghter was fueled by Venezuelan oil and made in Japan. The shipyard built the frieghter out of Korean steel. The Korean steel mill used iron mined on tribal lands in Papua New Guinea.

At New Orleans, the beans were roasted for 13 minutes at temperatures above 400 degrees. The roaster burned natural gas pumped form the ground in Oklahoma. The beans were packaged in a 4 layer bag constructed of polyethylene, nylon, aluminum foil, and polyester. They were trucked to a Seattle warehouse and later to a retail store.

I carried the beans out of the grocery store in a brown paper bag made at an unbleached kraft paper mill in Oregon. I transported them home in an automobile that burned one-sixth of a gallon of gasoline during the five mile round trip to the market.

In the kitchen, I measured the beans in a disposable plastic scoop molded in New Jersey and spooned them into a grinder. The grinder was assembled in China from imported steel, aluminum, copper, and plastic parts. It was powered by electricity generated at the Ross Dam on the Sagit River.

I dumped the ground coffee into a gold-plated mesh filter made in Switzerland of Russian ore. I put the filter in my plastic and steel drip coffee maker. I poured eight ounces of tap water into the appliance. The water came by pipe from the Cedar River on the west slope of the Cascade Mountains. An element heated the water to more than 200 degrees. The hot water seeped through the ground coffee abd dissolved some of its oils and solids. The brew trickled into the glass carafe.

The coffee mugs were all dirty so I poured the coffee into a paper cup. The cup was made from bleached wood pulp in Arkansas. A fraction of the chlorine from the bleach was discharged from the pulp mill into the Arkansas River. In the river, the chlorine formed chemical bonds with other substances. A tiny share of the chlorine ended up as TCDD, which id often simply called dioxin. It is the most carcinogenic substance known.

I stirred in one ounce of cream. The cream came from a grain-fed dairy in the lowlands south of Seattle. The cow liked to graze on a stream bank and walk in the stream. This muddied the water and made life difficult for the native trout. The cow's manure was rich in nitrogen and phosphorus. The soils of the pasture where the cow grazed were unable to absorb these quickly enough, so they washed into the stream when it rained. The infusion of nutrients fertilized algae, which absorbed a larger share of the oxygen dissolved in the water. The shortage of oxygen made life more difficult for the native trout.

I measured out two teaspoons of sugar. It came from cane fields south of Lake Okeehobee in Florida. These plantations have deprived the Everglades of water, endangering waterfowl and reptile populations.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Herbal Links

Interested in herbalism? I keep finding awesome links to share!

Pursuing Your Interest in Herbalism, by Jesse West Hardin (appeared in Mother Earth News)

From the Ground Up Zine, a free pdf compilation on herbalism. This link is for issue #1, "Herbalist to Herbalism"

For those of you in Columbus, there is a local "meet up" group called "Central Ohio Herbal Association for Cooking, Medicinal and Craft" to join and participate in.

Another Ohio resource: Stratford Farm and Ecological Center offers workshops and classes on herbal medicine and beekeeping!

Herbalist Sara Katz gets award from American Botanical Council


Monday, March 3, 2014

A Trip to the Herb Nursery

I went to the herb nursery down in Athens, Ohio today, after doing the farmer's market in Clintonville. This nursery has medicinals, traditionals, ornamentals, and culinary plants of all kinds. I thought I'd share what I saw and you can plant geek out with me!

There were two greenhouses- this one was the larger of the two and was in
roughly alphabetical order for a lot of plants.

The right side of the larger greenhouse.

My apprentice got this one, along with henbane and datura.

All the plants had great informative tags.

Picking out a datura.

If I get the shop, this cheerful flowering rosemary will go by the door!

I think milk thistle is gorgeous, don't you?

Our box of delights. That rangy one in the back is an ephedra for me!


This leaf surprised me and bit me!

I took a pic to better show off it's purple spikes. 

Coming back for this one.

This is the spiky plant, aka naranjilla.

We are coming back for this one, too.


We took the trip to the nursery, and then worked on my presentation for this month at City Folks Farm Shop on March 11: Planting a Medicinal Garden. Pre-registration is required.


Monday, February 24, 2014

Help Make Columbus' First Herb Store a Reality!

So as many of you know, I am attempting to expand the vision for Boline Apothecary to be of maximum benefit to the people of Columbus. I am not the only one in the area making fantastic, organic, local remedies and body care- and we should all combine forces to make an epicenter of holistic wellness and healing.

To that end, I am seeking funding to launch a brick and mortar storefront. It will not only sell Boline Apothecary products but select others that meet a stringent criteria of locally made, organic, ethical, pronounceable, and effective. I have already approached herbalists, farms, gardens, soapmakers, and many others who I love and respect to carry their wares. I have also approached local potters to create custom work for the store: tea mugs with built in ceramic infusers, aromatherapy diffusers, and shaving mugs, for example. These are unique local items that you will not find elsewhere.

The store will do more than just selling things, however. It is a large enough space to host classes and workshops multiple times per week. We will be hosting classes and DIY workshops on herbalism, Ayurveda, Chinese medicine, Reiki, midwifery, massage, and so much more.

The storefront also has a great private practitioner space that will serve as low-cost rental for holistic health care professionals (I plan on having the space have a massage table as well as table, chairs, and other furnishings- so it can serve an aromatherapist, midwife, herbalist, or other practitioner as well as those who use massage tables).

It is also next to an urban homesteading store- so our two constituencies overlap nicely. Together, we plan on co-hosting events such as food and seed swaps, weekly salons on sustainability, and much more. Together, the two stores hope to form a hub for those interested in permaculture, eco-friendly living, and sustainability.

And this is just the beginning. As I hear from people in the community about their needs and desires, those will be incorporated, too. I hope that the store does well enough to hire on employees who get paid a living wage. In short, I want to be an ethical local business with a community focus.

If you like this vision, please help me make it a reality. I am an ordinary working person without a trust fund. I put myself through herb school and holistic training. And as you can well imagine, healing (like education and caregiving) is not a profession that makes one independently wealthy.

As for my credentials, I am a trained herbalist who has also studied other kinds of healing, including traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurveda. I am a Reiki master who has ties to many holistic communities. I have established some great connections in my two years in Columbus already through the farmer's markets and local art organizations. I ran a successful profitable business in California that employed seven people in addition to myself, so do not have doubts that this project can succeed, if I get the seed money to launch.

To the right, you will see a gofundme campaign. If you like what you have read, click the link and donate.