Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Slippery Elm: case histories and cautions

When my daughter was a baby, I found that the store-bought strained fruits that I was feeding her would easily slide off the spoon.  Recalling that slippery elm was touted in the Herbal Handbook as good food for all baby animals, I mixed ¼ teaspoon into a little hot water and then mixed the resulting gel into her food.  The fruit stayed on the spoon easily, and I figured that the fiber and protein wouldn’t hurt her.

            There was another baby in the Lost Dutchman’s camp, who was a little older and more precocious, running at nine months.  But she had a gut problem; she would throw up her baby vitamins.  She had had hernia surgery at 6 weeks; I figured that the surgery had never really healed.  So I told her mom to mix slippery elm into her baby food for a while.  After a month, she was able to keep her baby vitamins down.  It seemed like a success story all around.

            About 20 or so years later, I read in Science News (a magazine I recommend to anyone wanting to keep up on the latest health news and science in general) that Helicobacter pylori bacteria, which causes stomach ulcers, appears to protect against allergies.  The rise in childhood allergies seen in recent years seems linked to a fall in general H. pylori infection, which was formerly widespread, causing ulcers only in certain people. 

My elder daughter had developed several uncommon food and pollen allergies in her pre-teen years, despite exposure throughout her early childhood to animals and dirt.  My younger daughter, no less hygiene-challenge, got my allergies to ‘cillin antibiotics and poison oak that the elder also got, no doubt inherited; skin reactions to some other plants; and hay fever from big-leaf maple pollen in her teen years after she moved to Grants Pass. 

The younger didn’t eat strained baby food, but was fed mashed-up adult food and baby cereal flavored with Velveeta or applesauce.  The elder got a full course of slippery elm for about 6 months, in her strained fruits.  They both got slippery elm in tea, oatmeal, or applesauce whenever one had the slightest gut problem or sore throat.  Slippery elm is a specific to kill H. pylori.

Any antibiotic can kill good germs as well as bad and can also make bacteria resistant to it.  One should use even natural, gentle antibiotics like slippery elm only when really needed, not for convenience.  Nor should any antibiotic be used with an acid blocker; stomach acid is the only thing that protects the intestines from antibiotic-resistant germs.

On the other hand, it takes persistent use for several weeks to kill H. pylori.  Like other antibiotics, using it only until one feels better won’t stop a chronic problem. 

Slippery Elm for the gut, from top to bottom

When I have a problem anywhere in the alimentary canal, from throat to anus, powdered slippery elm bark is the remedy I reach for.  Okay, sore throats have several remedies, of which slippery elm is but one.  But its soothing, healing, germ-killing mucilage does wonders for:  stomach ache; heartburn; nausea; vomiting; diarrhea; constipation; ulcers; and radiation damage.  It is a specific for ulcers, killing the Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) bacteria that cause ulcers and healing the lesions.

            I saw powdered slippery elm bark first in The Herbal Handbook for Farm and Stable, by Juliet De Baircli Levy.  It is not included in the “Materia Medica Botanica” section of the book, but it’s mentioned repeatedly as a major ingredient of her proprietary NR Gruel. 

Unfortunately, being an animal remedy book, she didn’t give instructions for its use in people.  The first time I used it, I had a probable case of giardiasis from drinking from a clear mountains stream.  (Giardia parasites are common in all surface waters, being spread by ducks.  Natives in some areas are immune to the local variety, thus earning it the name “traveler’s trots” and “Montezuma’s revenge.”) I had copious vomiting and diarrhea all night long, every half hour, until the liquids that I was pouring into me squirted out clear.  Toward morning, I finally remembered slippery elm, mixing it into orange juice, into which it would not dissolve.  Then I tried it in hot coffee; it dissolved; I drank it; one dose stopped the up-chuck and wash-out.  It may well have saved my life; dysentery kills many people throughout the world every year.

Since then, I have used it many times for gut problems, and always found it useful, until my late husband was undergoing chemotherapy and his belly was filling up with tumors.  Slippery elm can’t beat that kind of blockage of the intestines.  But during the previous month of radiation on his brain, it kept his gut working well, mixed into applesauce daily.

Powdered slippery elm bark dissolves well in hot water, not at all in cold liquids.  To use it in drinks, mix ¼ teaspoon in a hot drink of any sort.  One can also mix it into baby food or applesauce by mixing it with a little hot water, and then mixing the resulting gel into the food.  It also can be mixed into dry oatmeal, instant or otherwise, and cooked as usual.  One dose will often stop a simple problem like diarrhea or constipation; for more chronic problems like ulcers and colitis, it should be used persistently, three times a day for at least 2 weeks.

Silence is Consent

At my protest today, when I asked a gentleman if he was registered to vote in Oregon, he said that he doesn't want to give legitimacy to an illegitimate system.
I told him that they don't care if he gives them legitimacy or not; his not voting does not affect their legitimacy. "In fact, the Powers That Be love it when you don't vote.”
          He also thought that they also fixed and faked elections, but I pointed out that some measures had, in fact, been voted against their wishes. Sure, they could do some fraud around the edges, but it isn't that easy to completely fake election results.
          He said that he'd actually think some more about the idea. This doesn't happen often; one has to cherish such moments.
          I failed to point out that he couldn't have it both ways: If they could easily fake the results that they want, then his voting could have no effect one way or another on either their legitimacy or the results of the vote. They could fake his vote.
But in fact, the legitimacy of a government or an election does not depend on the number of the people who vote. Not voting is a true protest only in countries where one is required to vote, and only totalitarians demand it—and then rig the election if necessary to get 99% approval. They aren't after consent of the governed, so much as the bending of every knee out of fear.
          In a democratic republic, not voting is silence, which is consent to whatever those who are not silent decide. The Powers that Be are quite happy with low turnout, because they know that the Pharisees who support them will always vote, and the lower the turnout, the more their people and policies will pass.
          They do everything they can to suppress turnout, including the reverse psychology of telling everyone that it is their sacred duty to vote. Nothing puts off a freedom lover like being told by Pharisees that something is one's sacred duty. But notice that these admonitions start every election after registration is closed for that election. And while felons can vote in Oregon, the Powers do their best to keep felons from knowing it.
          It doesn't matter how many other ways you protest the policies of the rulers, if you are silent in the only opinion polls that count. That applies not only to voting in elections, but to city and county meetings and bills in the legislature as well. When they tell you that a specific issue is to be decided, if you don't tell them what you think of it, you consent to whatever they decide, unless and until you take them to court. Following such things is not as easy as voting; that's what our founding fathers meant when they said that constant vigilance is the price of liberty. Voting is the least you can do.

Seeds versus Starts: Warm-season plants

At planting time, you have a choice: seeds or started plants.  Seeds are cheap; you can buy a packet of hundreds for the price of a single start.  They start where they grow, so their roots are never confined or cut; they can’t get root bound.  Seeds will grow into larger plants, given equal conditions.
Starts seem more certain; seeds have to germinate before they can grow, and this can be a problem when they are broadcast or planted straight into the garden.  If soil temperature isn’t right, seed may not come up at all. 
When it comes to larger seeds, the choice is easy; all of the larger seeds are better planted straight into the garden.  This goes for beans, corn, squash, melons, cucumbers, nasturtiums, and morning glories, among others.    
If your large warm-weather vegetable seeds don’t germinate, either the seed is old or the soil is cold; replant.  If you plant a start of one of these vegetable in cold soil, the bugs will eat it; replant seed.  You cannot rush the season, save by pre-warming the soil with rocks or a light gravel mulch.  Even if the seeds germinate, if the soil is cold, they will lose out on critical weeks of early growth and be dwarfed.  Seeds planted a few weeks later will quickly surpass struggling earlier plants.  Starts of cucurbits, corn, and beans are easily root-bound and dwarfed; only the youngest will grow well, even in warm soil.
Tomatoes are normally planted as starts; few people are willing to wait on seed.  Yet tomatoes that volunteer or are planted from seed in the garden will grow faster than starts, and quickly surpass them in growth.  Still, even this gardener is not yet willing to take her chances on starting all of her tomatoes from seed; germination can be iffy from packets, and volunteers are not always dependable.  Still, smaller starts are better than larger ones; a non-blooming 6-pack plant, even root-bound, will surpass a budding 4-inch or gallon plant if you cut the roots. 
Peppers are the only vegetable/fruit that apparently must be started in a greenhouse or otherwise babied in pots until the soil is warm—and it must be quite warm; June is best.  I have never seen a volunteer pepper; their seed apparently rots over the winter.  They are also the exception to the rule of large starts v. small.  A gallon pepper start that is not root-bound will grow faster and survive the bugs better than a 4” pot, unlike tomatoes. 
Flowers are subject to the same rules.  Cosmos is a classic: starts are generally sold in bud or bloom, and they grow only a few flowers before giving out at a foot or so tall, even if deadheaded.  When planted as seed, they start late, grow all summer to 4-5 feet tall, and burst into glorious bloom in early to late fall.

Published at Yahoo Contributor Network under The Natural Gardener #5.

A Call for Reconsideration, Well Done.

The agenda for the August 4th 2010, meeting of the Grants Pass City Council was light.  The interesting action came in Requests from Citizens, dedicated to a single subject: the denial of a taxi-owner’s and taxi-driver’s license at the previous meeting.
            This writer led off the comments and requests with a speech pointing out that the City police had been respecting persons and perverting judgment; in granting the young man’s taxi-driver’s license in each of the previous 5 years and then denying it when he tried to start his own business, they showed that either they were either discriminating against a new business or allowing license applications from established companies to skate through police review without scrutiny.
            The next speaker was the young man whose appeal had been denied.  He said that he’d checked into insurance, got a reasonable quote for the $300,000 worth of coverage required by the City, and asked the agent how far back they checked driving records: three years.  His two tickets in the last three years were not a problem.  He also talked to the local bus transit service, asking what kind of driving record could get him hired.  His two tickets in three years were not a problem; they didn’t look back further.  He asked the Council to reconsider its decision and also to set some objective guidelines for the Department of Public Safety to follow in the future.
            The third and fourth speakers spoke in his support, with different information to add.  One showed a printout that had been circulating among the council and posted online, with the record of the numerous traffic stops the young man had endured over the last year, resulting in only one ticket.  He thought that the police had put it out in an effort to discredit the gentleman.
            It turned out that it had been put out by a councilor who was curious about the nature of said stops.  When it came to Lily Morgan’s turn to give Comments from Councilors, she moved to reconsider their denial of the licenses, as a majority voter on the issue.  She was seconded by another councilor who had voted to deny, Rick Riker.  Councilor Kris Woodburn argued against, saying that there was no “real” new information and the process had been fair.  Morgan replied that the nature of the stops was new and pertinent information.  The motion passed 4-3, the same margin by which he had been denied.
            This time, the young man did everything right.  He had a few speakers with different testimony from each; no children inside the building; and he stuck to the criteria, public safety, hammering the lack of objective standards in the City’s ordinance.  The result was almost magical; representative government worked as it ought, to control the destructive power of the City.

(However, while it was reconsidered, it was eventually denied.)