Monday, February 27, 2012

Identify Healing Plants

How do we find out if the plant growing on the back fence is poison oak or beautiful morning glory?  The plant could be a healing herb but how do you know? 

Learning how to identify plants to see if they are harmful or healthy can be helpful especially when the plants are growing in your yard and a person in the house has allergic reactions.

Many of the weeds and wild plants in our yards and forest are beneficial for healing. 

Others are edible and can supplement a meal while some are poisonous and should be avoided.  It is better to know beforehand which plants are harmful to some people so we can avoid allergic reactions.

Items needed: Gloves, Scissors, Paper bag, access to the Web or Library

     Locate the plant that you want to identify. Put on gloves before handling the plant.  If you do not have gloves with you then a piece of paper or material will work to pick up a leaf of the plant.

  1.  Using scissors cut off a piece of the end of one branch of the plant so you have a couple of leaves and part of the stem. If the plant has flowers, take one flower.
  2. Place the trimmings in the paper bag or container to carry home or to the library.
  3. Go online and look up plants for the area of the country you are in. It is very important to do this because plants change and adapt for different locations. The plant may not look the same as it does in another area.
  4.  Spread your trimming out on a piece of paper and look closely at the leaves. Take note of the veins, shape and size of each leaf. Also pay attention to how the leaf is attached to the stem and if the stem is round, square, smooth or rough. Another clue is if the plant is a shade loving or sun loving plant.  Every bit of information can be helpful, like is the whole plant a bush or a single stalk plant.  All of these notes will assist you in deciding which plant you have.
  5. Compare the plant trimmings and notes with examples you find online or in plant books. Always double check another description or example to make sure you have the right identity for the plant.
  6. Another excellence place to learn about plants that are native to your area is the county extension office that often has flyers and handouts about local plants.
  7.  Never use a plant that you are unsure of for healing or eating. Always double check to make sure the plant is identified correctly.

Monday, February 6, 2012


I've often wondered what all the noise, flashing lights and plinking everything in our life does to our senses. My home office is full of a bunch of blinking lights from electrical hardware when I turn off the overhead lights at night.

Everything is plugged in charging, getting ready to sound off in the morning at start up of another day..beep, beep,ring,,, tone sound, text message and purr the printer is ready.

Start up is pretty noisy and the lights are sort of pretty but what does this do to my mind, body and senses?

As a dog trainer who has worked with many traumatized animals I know how noise and lights can affect their senses and ability to relax or concentrate.

What about us humans?

Can noise, flashing lights and background fuss affect us?

I often see animals that are very shy or afraid of loud noises, animals don’t put on a persona or personality like humans do in pretending we can handle life.

Animals don’t worry what another dog will think of them if they are scared or shy.

Animals don’t hide their feelings until they are conditioned or trained to act a certain way.

We don’t train our dogs to obey us but to adjust to the environment we place them in, our homes. We train them to act a certain way under specific circumstances.

People on the other hand are, like the new pup brought home, taught from day one to hide their feelings by behaving. We tell them “don’t be afraid of the noise or light, it’s a television child, see the cartoon.” Lol.

As we age, like the pup we learn to relate to the sounds and sights around us. The noise levels and environment are pretty important to our senses too. Think of how some of us react by standing there when fire crackers go off and others flip out.

Those who flip out usually have a story to tell about why. They remember the fear or surprise the noise caused them in the first place.

This is especially true for those with PTSD or a past history of trauma associated with noise. Animals and people have been known to be gun shy, meaning when a gun goes off they freak out.

They are not afraid of being shot but the noise makes them react without any reasoning or with confused reasoning.  Noise can do funny things to some people while other people seem to be unaffected. Some prefer to have a loud environment, others need quite and calm.

Noise and distractions come in many forms, a partner in a hurry or a child fussing can create noise in our environment we have to adjust to. Text messages coming in and voice mail ring tones, then the phone ringing along with the lights alerting us of these incoming distractions do take us away from or interfere with what we are doing at that moment even if we are only sitting watching television.

This affects us by setting off our internal body alerts that get us ready to adjust to what these sounds and lights will bring. Most of the noises in our life are alerts for us to get going doing something so our body learns to prepare for what is to come when the noise or light goes off.

Just light when a stop light turns red and we stop we learn when the text message beeps we must act. The more beeps and rings in our life the more we must be ready to act which puts our body into a mode of preparing to act with little time to relax.

After a while we experience burn out due to remaining in this mode of ready for action which depletes our body’s resources causing us to come to stand still due to no rest or peace and quite.

At a stand still our body gets to rest because we do not feel like doing anything anymore, we have had it with all the noise and distractions although we might say it is our job or environment that burnt us out.

All the body wants to do then is sit there and look at the blinking lights or stare at the computer screen like blah. A weekend away from work and the body bounces back. Is it the work we need a break from or the distractions from peace and quite which gives our body the time to relax in a safe comfortable unrushed mode?

It’s a thought to ponder.

Here’s a great article about “How to turn down the noise in your life. “ and put yourself back in a comfortable zone of being calm.

They say, “Sometimes, as hard as you try to move yourself into the focus zone, you might feel stuck in overdrive. That's likely because other forces are at work on your mind: Whether you realize it or not, your concentration is being hijacked by an emotion — for instance, a hurt feeling over a snide comment at work. Major clue: You find yourself mindlessly clicking through TV channels or Websites or flipping through catalogs you don't need. "It's easy to lose ourselves that way; it makes us forget tough issues that, deep down, we know we have to face," says Palladino. "But those unresolved conflicts generate stress chemicals, which rob our brain of its ability to concentrate and problem-solve."

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