“Earth Democracy” with Vandana Shiva, PhD

Posted by on Jul 12, 2016 in Community, Earth, Sustainable | Comments Off on “Earth Democracy” with Vandana Shiva, PhD

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1930s Pharmacist Map of Herbal Cures

Posted by on Jul 12, 2016 in Earth, Health, Herbs & Spices, Plants Medicines | Comments Off on 1930s Pharmacist Map of Herbal Cures

1930s Pharmacist Map of Herbal Cures

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The Lemon Balm Plant

Posted by on Jul 12, 2016 in Earth, Health, Herbs & Spices, Plants Medicines | Comments Off on The Lemon Balm Plant

The Lemon Balm Plant
What’s in a name?

Well, when it comes to the Lemon Balm plant, Melissa officinalis, quite a lot!

It gets its common name from the fresh lemony scent that emanates from its freshly bruised leaves. Sometimes it’s only referred to as balm, which is defined as something that is soothing, healing or comforting.

The genus name of Melissa comes to us from Greek, meaning ‘honey bee’ or simply ‘honey’. In Greek mythology Melissa was a nymph who shared the wisdom and honey of the bees. Lemon balm is a favorite plant of the bees. Not only does it produce lots of nectar, it has also been used by bee keepers to keep bees from swarming.

The species name, officinalis, let’s us know this plant was once a part of the official US Pharmacopeia.

Just by understanding more about lemon balm’s many names we already know a lot about this plant. But, of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg.

One of the best things about lemon balm is its crowd-pleasing scent and taste. Most people will drink of this herbal medicine gladly. Sometimes we think that effective medicine needs to make our nose scrunch in disgust, but lemon balm packs a tasty powerful punch.

Lemon Balm Herbal Remedies

Lemon balm originally comes to us from the Mediterranean. It’s been used for medicine for thousands of years. Pliny, Hippocrates, Galen, Culpepper and even Shakespeare all spoke of its attributes. There are also records of Thomas Jefferson growing lemon balm at Monticello.

Maude Grieve writes the following in her classic two-volume set A Modern Herbal:

The London Dispensary (1696) says: ‘An essence of Balm, given in Canary wine, every morning will renew youth, strengthen the brain, relieve languishing nature and prevent baldness.’ John Evelyn wrote: ‘Balm is sovereign for the brain, strengthening the memory and powerfully chasing away melancholy.

12th century herbalist Saint Hildegarde von Bingen said “Lemon balm contains within it the virtues of a dozen other plants.” As we’ll see, it does have many varied uses.

Lemon Balm for Anxiety, Lemon Balm for insomnia

When I think of lemon balm the first thing that comes to my mind is its calming and relaxing properties. Officially we call this a relaxing nervine, an herb that relaxes, soothes and supports the nervous system. It can be used for anxiety, hysteria, frayed nerves, stress, insomnia, seasonal affective disorder, nervous tension and general feelings of “I’m on my last straw!”.

Lemon Balm for Digestion

As a mild spasmodic it can help relieve tension headaches, back pain and other mild pain due to tension. As an aromatic and carminative herb it can relieve stagnant digestion, ease abdominal cramping, and promote the digestive process in general.

Lemon Balm for the Heart

Older sources list it as being helpful for heart palpitations as well. In more modern times Kiva Rose said: “I personally use it for panic attacks with heart palpitations where the panic is very buzzy feeling.”


Lemon Balm Benefits

Heart palpitations, nervous tension, insomnia, and hyperactivity are all classic indications for lemon balm and these combined describe what some people experience when their thyroid becomes overactive, such as in Grave’s disease. In fact, lemon balm, bugleweed (Lycopus spp.) and motherwort (Leonorus cardiacus) is a classic western formula for a hyperactive thyroid.

In a conversation with Kiva Rose she explains that she likes to use lemon balm when it is specifically indicated:

“I especially like it for those wound-up pitta people who are addicted to overworking themselves, or even just addicted to various foods, drugs, activities… It seems to somehow help them pull back from the compulsion that has them frantically attached to self-destructive activities. These people tend to have clear heat signs, complete with an often flushed face and their enthusiasm/interest may come off as a bit on the feverish side.”

Lemon balm is a member of the mint family and, like other mints, it has complicated energetics. Thermally it has been classified as both warming and cooling. This is explained partly by understanding different perspectives within the major living herbal traditions today.

Lemon balm has a sour taste. In Ayurveda sour is classified as hot and wet while in Traditional Chinese Medicine sour is thought to be cooling and moistening. In western herbalism sour is generally thought to be cooling.

Matthew Wood explains:

“Lemon balm has a sour taste, as its name indicates – it is one of the few sour mints. Like most sour plants, it is cooling and sedative. It combines this property with the typical nerve-calming powers of the mint family to make a strong, but safe and simple sedative. These powers are much more marked when the plant is tinctured fresh. A tincture of fresh melissa should be on the shelf in every household as a general sedative.”

Lemon Balm been used as a mild emmenagogue to promote late menstruation as well as relieve menstrual cramping.

Lemon balm has even been used for children who are teething to soothe and calm this sometimes painful process.

A couple of years ago I was out hiking in an old growth forest with a group of people in the Pacific Northwest. We were following an overgrown trail covered with giant ferns and other undergrowth. While enjoying the giant trees towering above us, someone inadvertently stepped on a wasp nest. We were quickly surrounded by these powerful stinging beasts and I escaped with a handful of nasty stings. Looking around for plantain I soon found lemon balm instead. I chewed this up, applied it on the wounds and watched in amazement as the pain and swelling was greatly reduced.

According to Maude Grieve lemon balm has a long history of use for wounds and even for venomous stings

“The juice of Balm glueth together greene wounds,’ and gives the opinion of Pliny and Dioscorides that ‘Balm, being leaves steeped in wine, and the wine drunk, and the leaves applied externally, were considered to be a certain cure for the bites of venomous beasts and the stings of scorpions.”

Lemon Balm Research: Lemon Balm for Cold Sores, Lemon Balm for Genital Herpes

In recent years lemon balm has been researched extensively for its antiviral properties, especially in relation to herpes simplex 1 and 2. This is the virus that causes cold sores and genital sores. Lemon balm can both lessen the severity and speed the healing of an acute attack and, when taken regularly, can prevent future outbreaks. That’s a pretty powerful plant! For a thorough listing of scientific studies for this plant go to and type in Melissa officinalis as your keyword search.

Herbalist Karta Purkh Singh Khalsa recommends lemon balm applied externally to chicken pox eruptions, a virus closely related to herpes simplex.

The Lemon Balm Plant

As mentioned, lemon balm is in the mint family and has many attributes or identifying features common to this family.

It has square stems and leaves are in an opposite branching pattern.

Lemon balm flowers are white and have the classic “lipped” look of the mint family. It typically flowers from June to September.

This is a perennial plant that is easy to grow. Watch out! It will spread readily in your garden.

If you crush a leaf in your fingers you’ll be introduced to the wonderful lemon scent of lemon balm. In the past it was considered a “strewing herb,” which is an herb hung in the rafters or strewed on the ground to emanate a pleasant scent.

Lemon Balm Uses

When using this plant many people find fresh lemon balm to be the best choice. Freshly dried lemon balm certainly retains many of its virtues, but you’ll most likely find that the older it gets the more it loses its pizazz.

You can prepare this plant in a lot of different ways. One of the simplest ways is to enjoy it as a delicious lemon balm tea. It can also be tinctured in alcohol, extracted with vinegar, blended with honey and even infused in oil. That lemon balm oil can then be made into a salve or lip balm for general use or for herpes sores.

An astringent toner can be made by infusing the fresh plant in witch hazel.

Teething youngsters may like to gnaw on a wash cloth that has been soaked in lemon balm tea. Children young and adult will love lemon balm popsicles!

Don’t forget to use lemon balm recipes in the kitchen! It goes well with meats, fish, vegetables, in sauces, sprinkled in green salads, fruit salads, herb butters or simply crushed and added to water; very refreshing for those hot summer months!

You can even use this plant as potpourri.

Lemon Balm Side Effects

Lemon Balm is considered safe for most people, but of course you should really get to know this plant if you have any special conditions.

It is often said that Lemon Balm is contraindicated for people with hypothyroidism. Prior to writing this I asked around the herbal community and several herbalists reported using lemon balm with people who had under-active thyroids and it did not change their thyroid blood tests. If you have an under-active thyroid you probably don’t want to consume this plant in excess.


Lemon balm is a delightful plant that soothes the nerves. Its delicious taste let’s us enjoy it for enjoyment’s sake, but don’t let that fool you. Lemon balm is a powerful herb that can combat viruses in the body and powerfully reduce anxiety.

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The Template

Posted by on Oct 25, 2015 in Consciousness, Earth, Energy, Science | Comments Off on The Template

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A rich life with less stuff

Posted by on Oct 25, 2015 in Earth, Ecology, Sustainable | Comments Off on A rich life with less stuff

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Batteries Based On Hemp Could Change the Way We Store Energy

Posted by on Oct 2, 2015 in Earth, Ecology, Energy, Green Energy | Comments Off on Batteries Based On Hemp Could Change the Way We Store Energy

Hemp is the commonly used term for high-growing varieties of the Cannabis plant and its products, which include fiber, oil, and seed.
Hemp is refined into products such as hemp seed foods, hemp oil, wax, resin, rope, cloth, pulp, paper, and fuel. It is the most universally useful plant we have at our disposal with a history of use that can be traced way back to between about 5000 – 7000 BC.

This article from waking times explores how ‘Hemp-Based Batteries Could Change the Way We Store Energy Forever’:

‘As hemp makes a comeback in the U.S. after a decades-long ban on its cultivation, scientists are reporting that fibers from the plant can pack as much energy and power as graphene, long-touted as the model material for supercapacitors. They’re presenting their research, which a Canadian start-up company is working on scaling up, at the 248th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS), the world’s largest scientific society.

Although hemp (cannabis sativa) and marijuana (cannabis sativa var. indica) come from a similar species of plant, they are very different and confusion has been caused by deliberate misinformation with far reaching effects on socioeconomics as well as on environmental matters.

Hemp is the most universally useful plant we have at our disposal. The history of mankind’s use of hemp can be traced way back in time to between about 5000 – 7000 BC.

Industrial hemp and hemp seed could transform the economy of the world States in a positive and beneficial way, and therefore should be exploited to its full potential, especially relating to energy storage.’

David Mitlin, Ph.D., explains that supercapacitors are energy storage devices that have huge potential to transform the way future electronics are powered. Unlike today’s rechargeable batteries, which sip up energy over several hours, supercapacitors can charge and discharge within seconds. But they normally can’t store nearly as much energy as batteries, an important property known as energy density. One approach researchers are taking to boost supercapacitors’ energy density is to design better electrodes. Mitlin’s team has figured out how to make them from certain hemp fibers — and they can hold as much energy as the current top contender: graphene.

“Our device’s electrochemical performance is on par with or better than graphene-based devices,” Mitlin says. “The key advantage is that our electrodes are made from biowaste using a simple process, and therefore, are much cheaper than graphene.”

The race toward the ideal supercapacitor has largely focused on graphene — a strong, light material made of atom-thick layers of carbon, which when stacked, can be made into electrodes. Scientists are investigating how they can take advantage of graphene’s unique properties to build better solar cells, water filtration systems, touch-screen technology, as well as batteries and supercapacitors. The problem is it’s expensive.

Mitlin’s group decided to see if they could make graphene-like carbons from hemp bast fibers. The fibers come from the inner bark of the plant and often are discarded from Canada’s fast-growing industries that use hemp for clothing, construction materials and other products. The U.S. could soon become another supplier of bast. It now allows limited cultivation of hemp, which unlike its close cousin, does not induce highs.

Since the 1950s, the United States has been lumped hemp into the same category of marijuana, and thus the extremely versatile crop was doomed in the United States. Hemp is technically from the same species of plant that psychoactive marijuana comes from. However, it is from a different variety, or subspecies that contains many important differences.

Industrial hemp has very low Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) levels, which is the principal psychoactive constituent. Compared to marijuana which is specifically cultivated for personal psychoactive use, it is nearly impossible to “get high” on hemp. Marijuana that can be smoked usually contains between 5-10% THC, industrial hemp contains about one-tenth of that. In order to get a psychoactive effect, one would need to smoke more than a dozen hemp cigarettes over a very short period of time to achieve any kind of psychoactive effect.

The reason for the low THC content in hemp is that most THC is formed in resin glands on the buds and flowers of the female cannabis plant. Industrial hemp is not cultivated to produce buds, and therefore lacks the primary component that forms the marijuana high. Furthermore, industrial hemp has higher concentrations of a chemical called Cannabidiol (CBD) that has a negative effect on THC and lessens its psychoactive effects when smoked in conjunction.

Scientists had long suspected there was more value to the hemp bast — it was just a matter of finding the right way to process the material.

“We’ve pretty much figured out the secret sauce of it,” says Mitlin, who’s now with Clarkson University in New York. “The trick is to really understand the structure of a starter material and to tune how it’s processed to give you what would rightfully be called amazing properties.”

His team found that if they heated the fibers for 24 hours at a little over 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and then blasted the resulting material with more intense heat, it would exfoliate into carbon nanosheets.

Mitlin’s team built their supercapacitors using the hemp-derived carbons as electrodes and an ionic liquid as the electrolyte. Fully assembled, the devices performed far better than commercial supercapacitors in both energy density and the range of temperatures over which they can work. The hemp-based devices yielded energy densities as high as 12 Watt-hours per kilogram, two to three times higher than commercial counterparts. They also operate over an impressive temperature range, from freezing to more than 200 degrees Fahrenheit.

“We’re past the proof-of-principle stage for the fully functional supercapacitor,” he says. “Now we’re gearing up for small-scale manufacturing.”

Governments have cooperated with powerful corporate lobbyists the ensure that hemp is lumped into the same category as marijuana. The primary reason is that hemp has too many abundant resources for fuel, housing, food, medicine that corporations cannot exploit. Think about how many polluting conglomerates would go down if hemp was permitted as a resource. The oil, pharmaceutical, supplement and constructions industry would need to radically shift their business model to survive.

Mitlin, who conducted the research while at the University of Alberta, acknowledges funding from Alberta Innovates Technology Futures,National Institute for Nanotechnology (Canada) and Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency.

Environmental Benefits of Hemp

* Hemp results in a 95.5% fuel-to-feed ratio when used for pyrolysis the thermochemical process that converts organic matter into fuel.
* Biomass has heating value of up to 8,000 BTU/lb., with virtually no residual sulphur or ash during combustion.
* Hemp is the #1 producer of biomass per acre in the world. Biomass energy expert Lynn Osburn estimates that 1 1/2 to 3 1/2 million acres of hemp would replace all of Canada’s fossil fuel demands.
* From 75°/O to 90% of all paper was made with hemp fiber until the late 1800’s.
* An acre of hemp will produce as much pulp for paper as 4,1 acres of trees over a 20 year period.
* The hemp paper-making process requires no dioxin-producing chlorine bleach and uses 75% to 85% less sulphur-based acid.
* Hemp paper is suitable for recycle use 7 to 8 times, compared with 3 times for wood pulp paper.
* Hemp produces the strongest, most durable natural soft-fiber on earth. Until the 1 820’s, up to 80% of all textiles and fabrics for clothes, canvas, linens and cordage were made principally from hemp.
* Hemp cloth is stronger, more durable, warmer and more absorbent than cotton. Best of all. ‘ grown in Canada, cotton cannot.
* An acre of land will produce 2 to 3 times as much fiber as cotton, about 1,000 Ibs. of fiber per acre.
* Hemp grown in most parts of Canada will require no herbicide, fungicide or insecticide applications. Up to ½ of all agricultural pesticides used in North America are applied to the cotton crop.
* Natural, organic hemp fiber breathes and is recyclable, unlike petroleum-based synthetic fibers.
* A fully mature hemp plant may contain 1/2 of its dry-weight in seed.
* Once hemp seed oil has been extracted, the remaining seed cake is second only to soya bean for protein content and is an excellent source of nutrition for either farm animals or humans.

Agricultural Benefits of Hemp

* England, France and Spain have all legalized low THC varieties of hemp for an agricultural crop. England planted 1,500 acres of hemp as a first year crop. Reports from England state that farmers are receiving in excess of 3,000$ per acre for their hemp crop.
* Low THC hemp is not suitable as a psychoactive drug.
* A Canadian report from the late 1800’s demonstrated that hemp works very well in rotation with bean and corn crops.
* In 1991 Ontario farmers receiver 290$ and 240$ per acre for grain corn and soya bean respectively.
* Hemp was grown successfully in Canada for over 100 years. For a period in the late 1800’s Canada produced ‘hi: of all England’s hemp requirements. At kite time, England was the largest hemp consumer in the world.
* In the 1930’s, a South Western Ontario newspaper reported that Canadian grown hemp was among the best in the world and far superior to tropical hemp.
* In Canada hemp can be grown successfully from our southern borders to approximately 60O North Latitude, the parallel that divides the North West Territories from the provinces. This remarkable range is possible due to hemp’s short growing season, usually 90 to 110 days.
* The hemp plant will reach a height of up to 5m (16ft.) and sink a main tap root down 1 ft. This tap root will draw nutrients from deep in the soil and make them available to subsequent crops when the hemp leaves are shed on the soil. This extensive root system also helps to alleviate the problem of soil compaction.
* Hemp is very easy on the soil and returns up to 60% of the nutrients it takes from the soil, when dried in the field.
* A report from Kentucky states that hemp was grown on the same land for 14 consecutive years without soil depletion or reduction in yield.
* Hemp is very economical crop to grow since it requires virtually no pesticide applications.
* Hemp is also relatively drought-resistant and has been relied upon several times during drought-induced famine for its high protein seed.
* Hemp is very resistant to increased UV radiation and should not suffer decreased yields, unlike soya bean and corn.

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