Category: health


Over the weekend I did quite a bit of hiking. And besides the hazards of tiny little insects that burrow into your skin and fill up on your delicious tasty blood, there are also various plants to watch for. Some are healthy options that can work in your afternoon salad and others, well not so much. The main picture above is lemon basil from a hike off Topanga Canyon. Smells pretty darn good too! The smaller pictures are from a hike in Newhall.

Poison oak comes in various shapes and sizes to always keep you guessing. The standard phrase “Leaves of Three, let them be” is not always accurate as wild blackberry leaves also grow in threes. However, the blackberry leaves are closer to a saw blade with thorns on the stems and poison oak does not have thorns or saw blade style leaves. Yes, some kinds of poison oak have irregular, oval, reddish, shiny leaves.

Mugwort for some evolutionary reason, tends to grow close to patches of poison oak. If you have brushed against poison oak, pick a few leaves of mugwort, crush them in your hands with a little bit of water and rub them on the area. It binds to the urushiol preventing or lessoning the chances you break out in blisters etc.  I’ve also found that Fast Orange (hand cleaner) and Tecnu work about the same in removing the oils from your affected area. Tecnu is petroleum based so I am sticking with Fast Orange for now. What’s super cool about mugwort is the double duty it does as an insect repellent. Rub a few leaves on any unprotected skin beforehand and laugh in the face of danger. And  grab a few extra leaves to make a medicinal tea at home or to add to a salad. The native Indians had many uses for mugwort – and some tribes would even eat the first baby leaves of poison oak to build an immunity to it over time. To be clear, not me. EEK!

Miners lettuce, is crunchy, pleasant tasting, mild and earthy. The plant got its name because the Gold Rush miners ate it to stave off scurvy, which is caused by a Vitamin C deficiency.

Sticky monkey orange flowers are also somewhat edible. The leaves have a very, very strong unique flavor, mildly bitter while reminiscent of mint.

The flower has some nectar which is also slightly sweet! The base of the flower has a volatile oil which has a sticky quality to it.

Disclaimer: Do your own research regarding edibility of the plants in this post. While I have eaten miners lettuce, I have not tried any of the others and will probably never ingest poison oak. Ewe!

See ya soon…

xanthohumol vs resveratrol

OK, so this post should be on the health page. BUT, I thought eh, why not here? Why there? Why anywhere for that matter. And just what is xanthohumol and where does it come from? Most of you have heard about resveratrol and the benefits it bestows on health. Xanthohumol? Sounds like something from a science fiction movie or Discovery Magazine.

This particular substance comes from hops. Yep. An extract from beer hops. And no, you won’t get drunk or high from it. There are quite a few interesting health issues that xanthohumol excels at. (the below is copy and pasted from a health post)

1 – Xanthohumol tends to protect the liver and Xanthohumol protected the liver from fibrosis when it was exposed to very harmful toxins, including cleaning fluid. That’s one of the most harmful liver toxins there is. When used, fibrosis was slowed down or reversed, so it’s
an important protectant of liver function

2 – Xanthohumol has also been found important in wound healing because of its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. .

3 – Works to slow down and cause apoptosis in some cancers.

4 – Helps with male and female hormonal issues.

5 – Probably a number five somewhere but I’ll stop here.

What about resveratrol? It’s still one of the top antioxidants, anti-aging substances found in nature. Even though xanthohumol has been said to be up to 200x stronger than resveratrol, my take is why not use both?

As we age, our bodies change. Nutrients become harder to incorporate into our bodies as we digest the food we eat. Keeping your gut healthy with fermented foods such as kefir and sauerkraut help to feed the bacteria that lives in your gut.

“Probiotic bacteria, mostly belonging to the genera Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, confer a number of health benefits, including vitamin production [5]. Probiotic bacteria, members of the gut microbiota, are able to synthesize vitamin K and most of the water‐soluble B vitamins, such as biotin, cobalamin, folates, nicotinic acid, panthotenic acid, pyridoxine, riboflavin, and thiamine”

Since I am already ingesting copious amounts of sauerkraut for my gut, adding xanthohumol and resveratrol seems like a no brainer. At least until researchers find out it causes a third hand to grow out of your belly button. That would give me pause to continue taking it…(smile)

Since it’s in the 40’s outside, I thought I would make some sourdough bread topped with miyoko butter, xanthohumol, parsley, almond butter and heaping forkfuls of sauerkraut. Add a steaming cup of mushroom coffee and the nights magic begins…



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