Untame Your Life!

Common Milkweed Oil

March 26th, 2008

Have reposted this video, as it shows common milkweed (Ascelpias syriaca) in bloom in the Minot, ND area last summer. I was visiting my family there, and it’s good to go back to those family memories (my mom is walking in the background during the milkweed part). Click here to see the post that went with the video.

Milkweed has long been a favorite plant. I’ve always dreamed of getting a milkweed-stuffed down comforter from the Ogallala Comfort Company. Their Hypodown® 20:80 mix of A. syriaca and goose down is guaranteed to be reaction free for TEN years and has an even longer overall guarantee. Herb Knudsen started the Natural Fibers Corporation in 1986, of which Ogalla Down is a division. They have now started a new division called Ogallala Escapes, which offers beauty products made with the pressed oil of A. syriaca seeds.

I’ve never bought many beauty products in my life, preferring to make my own, but Ogallala Escapes sent me a beautiful spa package containing many of their products with syriaca oil. These are the most divine skin products i’ve used…and it’s soooo cool to be using this plant externally on my body. Another way I use the plant externally is for its milky/latexy sap, which is great for removing moles/warts/age spots, after some time of applying it daily.

Ascelpias is the Greek God of Healing, syriaca means “of syria”. This is interesting since the plant is native here in North America. My father lived in Syria for a few years and I was able to travel around that country with him. Sitting at the end of the Silk Road I somehow think our common milkweed may someday be recognized for its riches. The syriaca oil is full of rich moisturizers, Vitamin E, and unique fatty acids. One of those beneficial and interesting fatty acids is cis-vaccenic, which is found in young skin but diminishes as we age.

Mae West’s Two Bags Save One Life! life vests during WWII were filled with milkweed floss. The USDA gave onion sacks to millions of American schoolkids, encouraging them to help the war efforts by gathering the floss, which ended up filling over one million Mae West life vests. Native Americans didn’t employ their children to gather milkweed floss for war, but rather widely used it to swaddle their young. It’s been used by the French since the 1600’s.

This perennial plant, widely distributed around the US, has a beautiful wild spirit. I love the Mae West connection, as she and I share a birthday and she’s the only star I’ve gone to see on the Hollywood Walk of Fame while living in the LA-area. It’s all about a girl who lost her reputation and never gave a damn! -Mae West


Wild Food Classes

March 19th, 2008

Happy Spring Equinox!

There are some powerful energies moving through the planet…so hopefully you’re all out eating some yummy wild foods to help the body adjust more easily. I’m participating again this year in the annual Solar Wave, a stellar synchronized 24-hour global equinox event on Friday’s full moon. Check it out here.

There are so many cool activities going on out there, and as we step into spring I would encourage you to take a look at the Wild Food Events/Festivals section of my website (under the Resources Tab), for a current listing of wild food events. If you know of other events that would be appropriate for this list, please let me know.

My new wild food friend Nat Bletter, PhD out in New York City is offering a class I would love to take. He will be teaching Ethnobotany: Cultural Uses of Plants at the New York Botanical Garden. This 20-hour course explores how plants are a part of daily human life. The social, historical, cultural, ecological, and economic impacts of people-plant interactions around the world will be discussed. In addition, Nat also leads wild food walks in the New York City area. Nat has not yet set his spring/summer wild food walk schedule…so be sure to check back on the Wild Food Events/Festivals section of my website (under the Resources Tab) to find out when his classes are offered.


California Bay Laurel

March 6th, 2008

(Photo from the Encyclopedia of Stanford Trees, Shrubs, and Vines)

Another great video below by FeralKevin. When I moved to California in September of 2006 I went crazy for Californai Bay Laurel nuts (Umbellularia Californica). I love FeralKevin’s analogy to cacao nibs in the video below, as that was exactly how I used them. For my Master’s graduation party I made huge batches of truffles with them…roasting off the nuts and blending with powdered sugar and cream. Their natural stimulating/caffeine-like properties made for a wild party!

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This video is having a hard time showing here, so
click here
to access it on FeralKevin’s website.

Click here for a great article co-authored by my good friend Cecilia Garcia. She is an amazing plant person and Chumash healer. She has told me that the California Bay Laurel nuts are only eaten during the change of season and that they help your body adjust to those new energies. Cecilia and Dr. James Adams teamed up for a book called Healing with Medicinal Plants of the West-Cultural and Scientific Basis for their Use, but she just emailed me to say they have sold all their copies with no money for reprinting. If anyone has access to publishing grants, or other funding sources, please email me….we don’t want to lose access to this book!

Here is another great resource for California Bay Laurel by Tamara Wilder


FeralKevin Acorn Video

March 1st, 2008

Just found FeralKevin website. It highlights rewilding, edible wild food, and permaculture topics. I so wanted to do an acorn video this fall/winter, but never got around to it. Click here to read a write-up by FeralKevin on the importance of acorns as a staple food, or watch the video below that he did.