The Walking Herbalist Podcast – EPISODE 14. The “Why Can’t We Be More Like Spinach?” Sweetfern (Comptonia peregrina) Herbalism Show

The herbalism nugget compares “frenemies” to companion planting, and Marc urges us all to be like spinach (huh?). The Herb of the Podcast is Comptonia peregrina, or Sweetfern. This fragrant plant is a wild weed of Massachusetts and elsewhere, but its uses are not all that well known. Marc and Mindy talk about how they like sweetfern as a tea, and use it to make a wonderful smelling hydrosol, among other things. They talk about foraging it from the land around their bunker.  The Book Review focuses on “Peterson Field Guide to Medicinal Plants and Herbs of Eastern and Central North America” by Steven Foster and James Duke.  They give this book high marks, particularly as an adjunct guide for checking the usefulness of plants in the field while foraging. Mindy’s “Backed by Science” article is: Muriel Sylvestre, et al. “Composition and cytotoxic activity of the leaf essential oil of Comptonia peregrina (L.) Coulter”. Phytother Res 2007: 21; 536-540. This article discusses the merits of an alcohol extract of sweetfern essential oil as an inhibitor of lung and colon cancer growth, and it particulalry demonstrates the type of work researchers do when they are investigating anti-tumor chemicals.  In the “Worldwide Herbal and Foraging News” segment, Marc and Mindy discuss the fate of Deb Soule of Avena Botanicals of Rockport, Maine, and how they have made their small business FDA compliant, costing them hundreds of thousands of dollars to do so. They also discuss Justine Kwok who traded in a fashion career to head up an animal sanctuary and organic farm in her native country of China. Marc and Mindy have finished the classroom portion of the Master Urban Gardener’s class, and now are looking forward to the volunteer commitment.

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