In This Issue:
Spring has Sprung!
Pilates - Mat or Machine?
Survival Fire
Dowsing, Water Witching, Divining, Doodlbugging
FDA and DEA Save Country from Dangerous 84 Year Old Herb Doctor
Make Rice Milk at Home
Planting by the Moon and Zodiac
Southeastern Institute for Traditional Herbal Medicine
Spring has Sprung!
My favorite time of the year has finally arrived After a couple of months of on and off cold weather, the Trout Lily and Hepatica are beginning to make their appearance and the first signs of spring are here. While winter and it's time of quiet rest is important, there is just something about the new buds swelling on the trees and the first signs of rebirth and growth.
     In another few weeks, the Deep South will be an amazing splash of color as literally thousands of varieties of edible and medicinal plants make their appearance. I can't wait to take people out on trips to the Bankhead National Forest, Little River Canyon and the Great Smoky Mountains. If you check out for a complete listing of classes and workshops. If you are interested in a class but don't see it listed, feel free to contact me about scheduling one.
     With the economy in a shambles and gloom and doom being the talk of the day, it is imperative that we as Americans take charge of our lives in a manner which reduces our dependence upon others and especially the government. Whether it is using alternative medicine and herbs to treat ourselves or doing something as simple as planting a garden and raising city chickens, there are always definitive steps we can take to gain that independence.
     In this issue, we will take a look subjects ranging from health through pilates, to how to plant a garden by utilizing the signs of the moon and the zodiac. Ed will continue his series on survival skills in his article on fire and the gear to make it in the woods. We will also touch on the serious issue of vitamin D deficiency and its impact upon our health. If you have an e-mail account which will not display the graphics in this newsletter, I will be saving archival copies on the website where they can be accessed.

P.S. Today, I found the first of the Bloodroot plants poking their heads out of the lead mold in my yard. No doubt, spring is definitely on the way - Then, I looked at the clouds, checked the weather and found out that we are going to have several inches of snow tomorrow. Go figure!

Pilates - Mat or Machine?
Pilates Choices are many.

By Jane Patton

     Every time one turns on the TV these days, you can see one more advertisement for yet another exercise machine or program that will work wonders with little effort.  The tried and true program of exercises designed by Joseph Pilates in the early 1900’s have stood the test of time and have shown proven results, but the average person can become confused when looking around for a contemporary Pilates class or program to participate in.  Some offer classes in Pilates mat and others use machines also designed by Joseph Pilates.  Which is best?  Is there a difference?
    The mat classes are the most simple for most studios or gyms to offer as the only equipment necessary is a good exercise mat and bare feet.  This program contains over 200 exercises on all difficulty levels.  Most instructors have a basic program to teach to beginners on which all other exercises depend.  The participant needs to take into account his/her fitness level and most importantly, the Pilates fitness level.  Basic principles are most important to learn no matter how experienced you are to fitness.  Within the mat program, the instructor may use any of the following small equipment:

1. The Roller-After strengthening the core muscle group with beginner mat exercises, the instructor can put the participant on a plastic foam roller making the mat exercises more difficult as this adds the balance component to the core exercises.

2. The Magic Circle- This is an originally developed Pilates tool that adds resistance to the mat exercises.  Sometimes a small rubber ball is used in place of the Circle.

3. The Stability Ball- A large ball that came out of rehab hospital programs that helps to increase your balance, stability, control, and strength.  This can be used to increase the difficulty of the mat program.

4. Small weights-These add resistance to the upper body mat exercises to help strengthen upper body muscle groups as well as work on endurance.

What about the Pilates machines?  How are these used?  Once only used in the exclusive Pilates studios by dancers and movie stars, the Pilates machines are now being found across the country in gyms as well as studios open to the average exerciser.  The benefits of these machines are many as they also have proven results over time.  Joseph Pilates developed the resistance machines long before the weight machine era of today.  The current line of Pilates machines work as Joseph designed, even with the up to date machine versions available.  The course of exercises that instructors follow is the same as Joseph designed with a few exceptions.  The intention of the machines is to support the user in performing the Pilates movements.  The machines are spring loaded which helps support the weight of the user in order to perform repetitions of the exercises.  The springs also give variable resistance to the muscles involved rather than static resistance free weights give.

1. The Reformer:  The Reformer is the most commonly known piece of Pilates equipment.  Joseph Pilates developed over a hundred exercises that can be done on the Reformer usually in a preset sequence.  The main components of a Reformer are a rectangular carriage built on a track system that has rope pulleys and a spring loaded resistance.  You use your core powerhouse muscles to move your body weight along with spring loaded carriage.

2. The Cadillac:  This is also known as the Trapeze Table and consists of a rectangular supporting metal structure above a wooden or metal frame which contains a variety of springs and straps.  This piece of equipment is useful for the correction of balance problems and rehabilitation movement exercises as well as core strengthening exercises.

3. The Wunda Chair or The Stability Chair:  This piece of Pilates equipment is very multi-purpose.  It was designed for more advanced Pilates exercises and is different in that the exerciser is more vertical than horizontal.  There is no preset sequence of exercises and the instructor can use exercises needed for individuals rather than following a preset sequence.  The Chair consists of a stool with spring loaded pedals attached that are move with either the feet or arms requiring the individual to maintain balance through the core stabilizers.

4. The Barrels:  The Barrels were developed in several different forms with varying heights and shapes.  The High or Ladder Barrel, the Hump or Spine Corrector Barrel, and the Small or Arc Barrel.  Joseph Pilates understood the importance of spinal alignment and the effect on your overall health.  These barrels were developed to improve spinal health through improved alignment, flexibility, and strengthening of the supporting muscles.

As with all exercise equipment, there is no “quick fix” to becoming more physically fit.  Following the principals of Pilates can improve your fitness, strength and flexibility to have a more active lifestyle.  Find a program that meets your needs and you will be on your way to a healthier you.


Survival Fire

by Ed Coker

In part one I talked about the importance of a good knife when you find yourself in a survival situation. In this part I will talk about things for making fire as the next item of gear you should have with you as you venture into the woods. Fire is comfort, protection from predators, a good way to signal for help and shelter from the cold. Like a good knife, fire can save your life.

            Survival is a word that has been abused in the last few years with all the television programs trying to get people to watch them and calling themselves “Survival” shows. Weather it is a program about a group of people or one person the survival shows on television can be misleading. These shows as well as books on survival (and I have read many from military to civilian) seems to miss one important thing…. No one wants to be in a true survival situation!  If you are lost, you want to find your way out or get rescued as soon as possible. In most books and TV shows they are in long term survival conditions.  In the military books they talk about building elaborate shelters and other energy consuming things like pitfalls and rope bridges across rivers. That is not what you need to be doing. In a true survival situation you want to stay alive until you can find your way out or get rescued and that means conserving your energy and making the best of what you have. These TV shows and books talk about making fire by rubbing sticks together. It can be done. I have done it myself. It takes training, practice and finding the proper materials and a lot of energy to make a fire this way. I would never want to be in a situation where I would have to find good materials for making a fire by hand or bow drill when I am cold and lost. So I carry a means of making fire with me at all times.

There are many ways to start a fire and many fire starter devices on the market today.  I have tired most all of them and I find that a good lighter to be the best, fastest and easiest to use fire starter available. Matches have to be kept dry by sealing them in wax or carrying them in a waterproof container. And in the space and weight of 20 matches you can carry a good Bic style lighter that will light hundreds of fires and does not require any training to use. No need to spend lots of money on some “super survival lighter” just a plan Bic lighter will work fine in most situations. So everyone needs to carry a pocket lighter but what do you do if the lighter gets wet or leaks out the fuel? What do you do if you loose your lighter? This brings us to talk about other means of getting a flame for your fire.

After rubbing sticks together, flint and steel was our ancestors’ second choice for making a fire. A good flint and steel was a required part of any good outdoorsman supplies in the old days. Now days the market is flooded with flint like rods that come in different sizes and combinations. Even the Boy Scouts have “fire steels” and they learn to use this flint rod to make fire. These modern flint rods have magnesium made into the rod and the spark given off by them is very hot.

So if you carry a flint rod (Ferro cerium rod) and some steel (your knife) you will be able to start a fire even if your lighter gets wet or leaks out the fuel. There are many types of flint rods on the market. Some put out huge amounts of hot sparks that will light even damp materials like the “Blast Match” . This device is great for starting a fire but it is very heavy compared to just a small Boy Scout flint rod.  Other flint rods have a block of magnesium attached to them. Magnesium shavings will ignite from a flint spark and burn at 5,400 degrees. This is enough heat to ignite even damp tender. There are a few drawbacks when using magnesium shavings. First you have to scrape off a pile of shavings from the block.  This is time consuming and when you are wet and cold time is critical. You must get warm while you can still function. Magnesium is very light and the smallest breeze, even your own breath will send your shavings flying. Secondly you will only have a few seconds of burning magnesium to catch your tinder and get a fire going.  If you fail to get a fire before the magnesium burns out you will have to make another pile of shavings and that takes more time. Also, magnesium dissolves in salt water. So if you live near the sea and spend lots of time on the ocean you may want to forget the magnesium and go with a good fire steel rod. A secondary use for a good fire steel rod is to signal for help at night. The spark is bright and can be seen for miles.

To start a fire with a flint or fire steel rod you will need something that will turn a spark into a flame. You will need good tender. If you are an experienced outdoorsman you will have collected the bark of a cedar tree or some cat tails or moss and used a flint to ignite them into flame or you my wish to follow the ways of our ancestors and make “char cloth” tender and carry it with you. I prefer to carry ready made tender so you do not have to look for what nature provides when we are cold and need to start a fire quickly. There are many types of these products on the market today.

The latest is called “wet fire”, which are small cubes made up of a “trade secret” material.    They light easily with a spark and will burn at 1300 degrees for a good length of time, even when they are sitting in water. It leaves no residue and is smokeless and odorless. They come in a solid white cube weighing in at .2 oz (5.67g) and they cost less than $1.00 per cube. A few shavings off a cube will light a fire or help get a cold stove going.  If you do not have much money to spend on man made tender you can raid your medicine cabinet and make your own. Take a few cotton balls and smear them with a little Vaseline. Put them into something that will keep the cotton dry and you have good tinder (cotton) that will ignite from a flint spark and the Vaseline will make the cotton burn long enough for you to get some small twigs going into a good fire. Keep in mind that if your Bic lighter is out of fuel the flint will still make a spark and can be used to produce a flame with good tender.  I would recommend that you try them all and find the ready made tender you wish to carry with you. Other items that make good tender are steel wool, lint from your pockets or pulled off your cloths, fine wood shavings, toilet paper, Kleenex tissues, etc.  Try different things that you have with you. Caution should be used when trying things like gun powder from you rifle shells or fuel from a stove or vehicle.  These type items will help you turn a spark into a flame but could cause you to be burned in the process.  Practice makes perfect. Try starting a fire using your flint rod in the comfort of your own back yard. Learn what works best and what you have to do to start a fire before you venture into the woods.  

Just last winter there was a family that went out into the woods to cut a Christmas tree. They were not going far from their car so they were not concerned about getting lost. As they walked into the woods it started to snow. When they found a tree to their liking and cut it down they soon discovered that they could not see their tracks and had no idea witch way to go to get back to their car.  After spending an exhausting few hours trying to find their car they spent a long cold night huddled together and were lucky to be found alive the next day.  They could have died from hypothermia. Of the 5 people in this group no one carried a lighter or any other means of starting a fire. A lot of people die every year from exposure because they get lost without being able to start a fire to stay warm.

In conclusion, I would like to say if you are going into the woods carry a knife and a flint rod and a lighter. If your chances of being lost or getting wet and having to build a fire quickly then I would suggest you carry some type of tinder with you. With fire you are warm, protected and comfortable. Safe and warm is better than cold and miserable. Next time I will talk about the gear that is available for making water safe to drink.


Respect the outdoors. Carry out what you carry in.


Dowsing, Water Witching, Divining, Doodlbugging

By Tracy Kozinski

Recently I found myself curious about water dowsing or better said its validity, its practicality, and its accuracy. As most people do, I did have a vague notion of what water dowsing was.  Yet, I was curious to how it works, does it work, and why does it work, etc. Is this an art worth pursuing/learning or is it all just crap. Can this become a practical tool in my life.
      Dowsing refers to the practice of using a forked stick, rod, pendulum, or any other type of device to locate, at first primarily, underground water. It eventually expanded its use to locate minerals, oil, or other hidden objects. 
      The more I researched, the more I realized as with most things in life, there is no clear agreement on the merits, the validity, or the accuracy of water dowsing. It all depended on who was providing the information. There are always and will always be two sides of a coin. It’s no different than say I was to research the benefits of herbs. For every proponent of herbal healing that I find, I will be able to find, without looking very hard, someone who says herbs are a waste of time.  I can find as many references supporting a vegetarian diet as I can supporting a carnivorous diet.  I can find a ton of articles supporting home-schooling and just as many that oppose home-schooling.  There will always be an opposite, and once again this was made clear to me while researching water dowsing.
      Another thing to keep in mind as you read the article is the researchers will tend to search out sources that confirm  beliefs and negate those that don’t. I’m not saying this is a bad thing, it’s just another factor in the equation. Before hand, I will tell you that I’m a believer in the potential of dowsing. Simply because I believe that we were given the abilities to find all that we need to live a happy, healthy, peaceful life. Since water is crucial to a healthy life, I find it easy to believe that we would have been given a way to find water. 
     With that said, let’s take a look at some of what I found. Though in no way can I even come close to revealing all that I found, for the more I looked, the more I found.
     Dowsing and/or divining is a natural and integral tool of man. Its history is as old as humanity itself.  Cave paintings in Africa that are 6,000-8,000 years old are believed to show a water dowser at work. Chinese texts tell of water witching 4000 years ago.  Martin Gardner, in his work Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science, gives valuable insight into the origin of this practice: “The employment of various shaped rods for divination goes all the way back to the ancient Greeks and Egyptians.” There are also numerous references and warnings to the use of a rod or stick in the bible; Moses brought forth water by smiting a rock with a rod. Biblically it was used as not just a source to find water but also as a judge. I myself would be very uncomfortable if my guilt or innocence was at the hands of the individual holding the rod.
      We can find that the first reference to dowse for minerals appears in the fifteenth century by German prospectors in the Harz Mining Region.  In the 16th century, De Re Metallca, Geogious Agricola wrote; “ All alike grasp the forks of the twig with their hands, clenching their fists, it being necessary that their clenched fingers should be held towards the sky in order that the twig should be raised at that end where the two branches meet. They then wander hither and thither at random through mountainous regions.” When their feet touch a vein the twig immediately twists and turns downward indicating that a vein has been located. 
      Dowsing was introduced into England during the reign of Elizabeth 1 who encouraged the German metal workers to come to her lands to help develop her land’s resources. With them they brought the art of Dowsing, and soon after was adopted for the use of locating water.  Water Witching, as it has also been called, made it’s to America with the settlers. Dowsing eventually fell out of favor because the church decided it was of a demonic nature, once again we can find biblical passages to support this idea that dowsing was demonic. 
      In more modern times dowsing has been and is still used in many areas of life. It is used for finding underground water supplies, underground oil and minerals, health and healing, archaeological searches, detecting Earth energies, site surveys for buildings, tracing lost objects and people, Geopathic stress, agriculture and soil testing, fault finding and far more. To a dowser there is no limit to its uses.
      One of the real questions is, does it work?  The answer depends on whom you ask. To the skeptic, absolutely not. To the dowser and those who have benefited from the dowser’s skills, absolutely yes. A quote from Albert Einstein, “I know very well that many scientists consider dowsing as they do astrology, as a type of ancient superstition. According to my conviction this is, however, unjustified. The dowsing rod is a simple instrument which shows the reaction of the human nervous system to certain factors which are unknown to us at this time.” 
      Professor Hans Dieter Betz (professor of physics, Munich university) headed a team of scientists that investigated the ability of dowsers to find underground drinkable supplies, taking them to 10 different countries and, on the advice of dowers, sank some 2,000 wells with a very high success rate. In Sri Lanka, where the geological conditions are said to be difficult, some 691 wells were drilled for, based on the advice of dowsers, with a 96% success rate. Geo-hydrologists given the same task took two months to evaluate a site where a dowser would compete his survey in minutes. The geo-hydrologists had a 21% success rate, as a result of which the German government has sponsored 100 dowers to work in the arid zones of Southern India to find drinkable water.
      Yet, make no mistake about it, for every article or test that I found that proved it’s validity, I found another that disproved it. Many scientists say it’s random luck, just a guess. Since water is everywhere, it would actually be very difficult to not find water. One scientist said, a good test would be to ask a dowser to find a location that water wouldn’t be found. Finding skeptics wasn’t difficult, especially in the scientific community.
      The next real question, how does it work?  Once again it depends on whom you ask and this is what I have spent the majority of time trying to find an answer that made sense to me. So many of the reports were incredibly contradictory on not only it’s ability but how it works.  
      Something about how water and other objects that dowsers are searching for may have a natural magnetic, electromagnetic, or other unknown energy to which dowsers are able to attune their instruments. Or that water flowing underground has some kind of electric current, which creates an electromagnetic field, which is then picked up by internal sensors that we all have. Basically the energy of the water causes our muscles to spasm, which then causes the divining device to move.
      For another explanation, some say it works because of the PSI track. In 1997 the PSI Track was discovered, which states that the PSI is established when a person concentrates vividly on a physical object in his surroundings.  To begin dowsing one must first assume the search position and then the 2nd and most critical part is to mentally focus on the question, or the image of exactly what is being looked for.  The rods are simply the visual response of an intuitive response that we have located what we are searching for. Many dowsers can dowse with out a rod. In fact some dowsers don’t even need a rod or any type of device, they feel the responses in various parts of their body. 
      Here is something to try for fun; find something to use as a pendulum, place your elbow on the table,  hold the pendulum between your index finger and thumb, and think, “show me a yes”.  Focus on this thought in a relaxed manner.  The pendulum can swing clockwise, possibly counter clockwise, possibly north to south or west to east. My yes indicator can be different than yours or it could be the same. Now do the same exercise again only this time ask, “show me a no.”  Inevitably you will get a different answer. The theory is that we are subconsciously moving our muscles imperceptibly, which makes the pendulum swing.  If this is accurate I can easily see how false yes’ are possible. If the mind has any preconceived ideas of where water is or isn’t it would greatly effect the accuracy of the dowsing experiment. 

The tools to dowse are as various as the opinions of it’s validity. The most common are a forked twig, metal rods, or a pendulum.

To make a forked twig

1. Locate a small, forked branch of live wood. Suggested are peach, willow, hazel, witch hazel or apple.

2. Cut the branch from the tree. Trim away small leaves or twigs.

3. Trim the branch so that each arm of the Y is approximately equal in length and between one and two feet long (this is a matter of personal preference). The joined section should be three to four inches in length.

4. Hold the palms up with an arm of the rod in each hand. Hold the rod away from the body. The rod should be kept parallel to the ground.

5. Walk over the area to be examined slowly and methodically thinking about the item trying to be found (water, oil or minerals for example).

6. Wait for the rod to suddenly swing up or down. This indicates a result, and the exact spot where this occurs should be searched.

           To make a set of metal rods

1. Get some wire cutters and 2 wire hangers.

2. Cut a piece of wire from each hanger about the length of your elbow to the tip of your fingers maybe slightly longer.

3. Once you have done that bend each piece in an L shape with the base of the L long enough to grip.

4. Since it is important to hold the rods firmly yet not too firmly, I suggest obtaining straws or pvc to slide over the handle of the rod which will allow for a firm grip and yet also allow the rod to rotate when you have found what you are searching for.
      The phenomenon of divining has been accessible throughout the ages to individuals who choose to pursue and develop this innate aspect of self.  It probably isn’t enough to only pursue and develop this innate aspect of self, we would also have to include the importance of belief in dowsing, the belief in one’s ability, the refusal to consider it demonic, silly, archaic and for lack of a better adjective BS.
      As I read on dowsing I found myself continuously reminded of the saying, “Believe and Receive, Doubt and go Without.” What if it really is that simple? What if all that is required is faith in our abilities to dowse, or faith in as Einstein said,  “The dowsing rod is a simple instrument which shows the reaction of the human nervous system to certain factors which are unknown to us at this time.”  It appears at the moment the best course of action would be to allow for the possibility that it does work, then get yourself some rods to go out and prove that it does work.  To be successful will take practice, as well as, belief. 

FDA and DEA Save Country from Dangerous 84 Year Old Herb Doctor
Leesburg , DPI


     They struck in the early pre-dawn hours of January 29, 1992 ready to battle their vicious foe.

      It was 3 a.m. as nothing stirred in the cold, foggy blackness. Even the animals still prowling in late winter had long since ceased their nightly racket. Nothing with any sense was awake.

     Backed by deputies from the Etowah County Drug Task force,  two squads of assault troops, dressed in camouflage, faces blackened, lay in wait.  Flak jackets were worn in preparation for the violence that was to come; M16’s were on full auto, locked and loaded.

     Suddenly, the eerie darkness was broken by the ghostly light of a flare shot overhead as the signal to advance. Wire cutters quickly cut the barbed wire laid out by their opponents in hopes of slowing their progress.  Bomb disposal units were notified to be prepared for the possibility of booby traps laid out by their cunning adversary.

     With a thunderous crash of automatic rifle fire and the “whomp” of concussion grenades, the perimeter was breached and officers were quickly at the door where two large troopers swung a battering ram, shattering the door.

     Inside, they found their adversary choking on a cloud of tear gas, totally disoriented and blinded by the acrid fumes.  Thrown to the floor, he was immediately handcuffed and read his rights as the troopers congratulated each other with slaps on the backs and shouts of, “It’s Miller time,” flew back and forth.

     In total submission, their dangerous enemy was led to a waiting helicopter as loud crashes could be heard coming from the bunker.  The illicit lab erupted with the sound of breaking glass as container after container of vile liquids were smashed and their contents poured out to soak into the cold, dank floor . No longer was this to be the impervious headquarters of this notorious drug lord.

      Once again, America was made safe for its’ citizens. No longer would this danger to society be free to force his dangerous drugs upon them.  Parents could sleep better at night, knowing that one more menace no longer threatened the health and well-being of their families.  Hundreds of pounds of crystal meth and heroin would no longer be flowing into the streets, hooking a new generation of our youth.  This was an example of our Government at it’s finest, protecting it’s citizens.

     Actually, there was no bunker inhabited by an evil, notorious drug kingpin. There was no barbed wire, no M16’s, no crystal meth and no troopers dressed in black wearing flak jackets. There was only one inspector from the FDA and an elderly 84 year old mountain herb doctor who committed the dastardly act of peddling herbal cures.

     In this case however, it might as well have been KGB agents standing in your bedroom. What happened that day not only impacted Tommie Bass but you and your right to choose alternatives to the expensive prescription drugs so cherished by the modern medical  establishment.

     The beginning salvo was fired years ago in 1906 but pace has greatly accelerated as Big Brother government has decided it is time to crack down once again on those who don’t bow down, worship at his alter and do things the way he and his AMA cronies dictate.

     The story of Tommie Bass and his run-in with the Food and Drug Administration occurred in January of 1992 and resulted in Tommie receiving a cease and desist order concerning his selling of herbal remedies. The story went something like this:

     For 77 years, Tommie had prepared and sold a wide variety of home and herbal remedies to the simple country folk of North Alabama without a single complaint. Eventually however, someone who to this days remains unknown, contacted the regional FDA office to complain that he was hawking unapproved drugs. This in turn prompted the visit to Tommie’s shack by an agent of the Federal Government and the cease and desist letter.


According to the FDA, Tommie’s  Bass’ Salve Improved, Bass’ Salve Improved (Double Power), Goosegrass tea and Yellow Root were “new drugs” within the meaning of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. It also stated that no approval for such drugs had been filed or approved.

     They further went on to discuss the fact that Tommie made claims for the Bass’ Salve that had not been substantiated by scientific evidence as being safe and effective. Therefore, their marketing, at least on an Interstate basis, was in violation of the Act. Also, they stated that the label did not provide adequate directions for their use.

     Goosegrass tea was simply to be found lacking in scientific evidence and proven safe and effective. Yellowroot received the same treatment and the comment that its labeling was false and misleading in that it suggested there was scientific evidence that the “drug is safe and effective use when, in fact, such evidence does not exist.”

     The FDA went on to state that the uses for which Yellowroot was intended were not amenable to self-diagnosis by the laity (you and me), and therefore no directions could be written under which, “a layman can use this drug safely and for its intended purpose. “

     They concluded by decreeing that  his “firm” was not registered with the government and that his products were not being properly produced.

     The concluding and implied threat was that if Tommie did not take prompt action to correct these violations of the Ac., regulatory action might result in, “possible seizure and/or injunction.”

     Well folks, this is where all of your tax dollars in the war on drugs are going – stop the old hillbilly herb doctor while mega-giant pharmaceutical firms can produce scores of dangerous drugs such as Halcion and lobby Congress to keep it on the market despite the fact that is has caused countless deaths.

     For those of you who don’t know who Tommie is, let me tell you a little bit about him. Tommie was one of the last old style mountain herb doctors left in the Southern Appalachians. For 81 years he gathered and dug herbs on the side of Lookout Mountain in Alabama. Nationally known for his immense knowledge of medicinal plants, he had the ability to identify thousands of plants. With a personal pharmacopoeia of some 350 main herbs, Tommie remains untouched in his unique relationship to the natural world.

     In his lifetime, Duke University and the University of North Carolina both researched and wrote about his knowledge of plants and folklore.  Public Television and various DVD’s have been produced about his life and plants. Tommie was no amateur in the field of medicinal plants by anyone’s standards.

     I was privileged to study under Tommie for 12 years as his apprentice and consider myself quite blessed to have the opportunity to ramble the woods with this walking encyclopedia of herbalism. Until and since then, I have not found anyone who so willingly shares their life and expertise with plants.

     Tommie’s Bass’ salve, which the FDA was so quick to condemn as being ineffective, was produced by Tommie for 81 years, with the original formula arriving from England with his grandparents.  During this time, Tommie produced this wonderful skin salve with a money back guarantee, which no one ever requested.  Doctors have been known to send patients to him when everything else they had in their modern arsenal had failed to help someone suffering from conditions such as chronic, weeping eczema and psoriasis.

     I can’t even count the number of times I have been at a folk fair with Tommie and had someone come up to him and say that they had a skin cancer or wart removed by the salve when all else had failed.  Never have I heard a negative word said about the healing properties of this salve.

     Another product which caught the eye and subsequent wrath of the FDA, was his use of Goosegrass tea. Upon doing a little research into some of the older herbals and medical journals of the 1800’s, it is easy to see why this tea was so popular.  Used for a wide range of conditions ranging from the kidneys to weight loss, Goosegrass tea was considered to be an invaluable health giving brew. While it might not meet the stringent requirements of the FDA, it has proven quite satisfactory to the countless people who have used it for years.

     The criticism of Yellowroot might almost be funny if it weren’t for the fact that so many people have been helped by this lowly plant. I’m really surprised that is has not been made an official entry in the U.S. Pharmacopoeia.

     I know from first- hand experience just how effective this plant can be for a mouth ulcer or canker sore. I know of one instance where a patient on chemotherapy could no longer wear her dentures. Her gums were soft, spongy and bleeding  and the pain was intense when she tried to wear her dentures.  A few cups of Yellowroot tea mixed with White Oak bark used as a mouth wash toughened her gums, stopped the bleeding and made her life much more bearable while treatment for the cancer continued.

     While I can understand the FDA’s position in trying to protect the American consumer from outright fraud and quackery, I cannot understand their attitude that herbal remedies such as those used by Tommie Bass are deceptive and of no use. His products may ever have had scientific, double-blind studies but they did have 81 years of practical use proving their efficacy for the treatment of many ailments.

     This case is just another example of how an oppressive, self-feeding bureaucracy can come down on the little man who does not have the resources with which to protect himself. The large drug manufacturers have millions in the bank and an army of lawyers at their disposal.  Because of this, they are left alone mostly except in instances of flagrant violations they cannot lobby themselves out of in congress.

     You and I on the other hand do not have limitless resources with which to fight.  What we can do is write letters to our congressmen expressing our displeasure at such tactics. We write and tell them that we oppose any bills coming up in Congress which will result in the ruination of the herb and vitamin industry as well as regulations which infringe upon our rights to self-treatment.  We can also fight by way of the ballot box, throwing out every rascal who attempts to take away our rights and transfer them to a central government. 

     It is your right as an American to decide what is best for your health and body. Whether it is conventional medicine or any number of alternative therapies, it is your right to choose what is best for you and your family. Don’t let the Government take your rights away. Take action! 

Make Rice Milk at Home
    For the millions of Americans who suffer cramps, gas and general discomfort caused by an inability to properly digest cow milk, there is a delicious substitute available. Rice milk, now sold in grocery stores everywhere, can be easily made at home. Instead of paying high prices in the dairy section, try making this terrific milk substitute at home in your blender.
     Rice milk is not a substitute for cows milk as far as nutrition goes. It is definitely not a source of calcium and is high in carbohydrates. However, if you can't handle cow milk and still want that bowl of cereal or hot chocolate, rice milk makes a more than acceptable substitute.
     There are several methods of preparing rice milk. One of the easiest is:

1 cup cooked rice
4 cups water
2 Tbs sugar
Vanilla to taste
Pinch of salt

     Blend the ingredients, filter through jelly strainer or something similar and refrigerate. It is as simple as this and will save you a lot of money over store bought rice milk. Some people think that using warm water works better and that if you rinse the rice before cooking it, it will alleviate the bitter taste some people perceive.  I have also done this with uncooked rice which has been soaked in warm water for a couple of hours and it seems to work just fine. If you have a vitamix, it will blend the ingredients so well, you don't have to strain it and the milk is creamier.
     This same technique can be used to make almond and other nut milks. Just be sure to soak raw almonds first and throw the soaking water away.

Nutrition Highlights

Rice milk, 8 oz. (237mL)
Calories: 80
Protein: 1g
Carbohydrate: 18g
Total fat: 0.0g
Fiber: 0.0g

Sanginaria canadensis

     “Now, bloodroot is one of the best things to use in any kind of a salve for any kind of skin rash.  You can mix it with things like Jimsonweed and Yeller Dock if you want to.  Don’t forget to add the Chickweed too.

     Whenever I make up a tonic to build up someone’s blood or else want to make a cough remedy that will knock out a cough graveyard dead, I always make sure to put in a small piece of Bloodroot. Mind you, you have to be real careful.” 

A.      L.  Tommie Bass


Bloodroot: – Sanguinaria Canadensis

Common Names: Puccoon, Red Puccoon, Red Coon Root

Part Used: Roots (rhizomes)

Traditional Uses: Skin disorders, warts, stimulating expectorant, asthma, bronchitis, coughs, throat gargle, tonic and stimulant, skin cancers

     In the Deep South, all you have to do is take a walk on a north facing hillside covered in hardwoods such as oak and beech. If you look carefully, you will see a small pink-tinged white flower delicately held in the grasp of a curled, hand shaped leaf. Next to hepatica, this lovely member of  the opium poppy family has to be one of my favorite plants as it literally yells to me that spring has arrived.

     Indians in Virginia in the 17th century spoke of bloodroot by its native name of puccoon. They used it for medicine in the treatment of bronchial problems, arthritis and swollen joints. The Cherokee used the roots for  lung complaints and coughs, mixing it with the roots of broom sedge.

     For at least 70 years, Tommie Bass used bloodroot as the main active ingredient in his skin salve. Eventually, this came to the attention of the FDA, which informed him that his salve was considered a new and untested drug. According to them, the claims on the bottle that it was useful in the treatment of skin cancers, among other things, constituted an unproven medical claim and was illegal. He was told to cease and desist from adding the roots to his salve and to end his claims that the salve could “cure” skin cancers.

     This was in spite of the fact that Tommie had been producing this salve for more than 70 years with no complaints as to if efficacy.  Prior to his use of the roots, his parents had been using bloodroot for many years in their version of Bass’s Salve. To this day, the FDA classifies bloodroot as “unsafe.”

     As a stimulating expectorant, bloodroot is excellent for bronchitis and chest colds. It sedates the nerve endings of the bronchial tubes and stops the painful spasms.

     Herbs which work well with bloodroot for bronchitis are wild ginger, rabbit tobacco, wild cherry, lobelia and blue verbena. Herbs to use externally with bloodroot as a salve are jimsonweed, black nightshade, and white oak bark. If you want to use bloodroot internally, be sure to use only a couple of the small roots to a gallon of water.

  Preparation and Use: I would not recommend that the beginner  experiment with bloodroot due to its more dangerous qualities.  At the same time, I have used it for many years on the recommendation of Tommie. It is simply an example of a plant with which caution needs to be exercised.

  Contraindications: small amounts of bloodroot have been known to cause tunnel vision and there have been cases of death reported when the resin, which is still an official medicine has been incorrectly used.

Planting by the Moon and Zodiac
     For thousands of years before the advent of modern scientific methods, man utilized nature, the phases of the moon and the signs of the zodiac as guides to the planting and harvesting of crops. For those of us in the South, this dependence upon nature signs has always been an integral part of farm life. No self-respecting farmer or gardener did not have a copy of the Old Farmer's Alamanac hanging on a nail in the kitchen or barn.
    The basic belief is that, just as the moon in its 28 day orbit can affect tidal levels on the earth, it also has an effect upon the water in our bodies, the water in the earth and even the water within plants. Based upon this line of thinking, if you plant seeds in the light of the full moon, they will germinate and grow faster. Root crops such as potatoes will grow better if planted in the dark of the moon. Can you visualize the concept of potatoes growing in the dark ground? Makes sense to plant them in the dark of the moon since that is what they like.
    Most people who believe in planting by the signs believe that if a plant produces it fruit or grain etc... above the ground, you should plant when the moon is growing full (waxing). If the plant produces below ground, then plant when the moon is waning dark.
     It is common sense if you really think about it. As the moon grows, it causes plants to germinate and grow. As it then wanes and heads dark towards the new moon, it has more of an effect on rest, harvest and things which grow in the ground. Not only does the phases of the moon influence planting, it has also been used for other farm chores ranging from docking tails (waning moon) to even digging graves (waxing moon) and cutting hair (waxing if you want it to grow fast and waning if you don't want a haircut soon).

     To complicate matters a bit though, there are a couple of more factors which influence farming and gardening; the zodiac and the four elements. on its 28 day cycle around the earth, the moon passes through the twelve signs of the zodiac. You are probably familiar with these if you read your horoscope in the paper. It stays for about three days within each sign of the zodiac and while it is within a particular sign, its effect upon plants is felt in a stronger and more particular manner. The signs of the zodiac are also classified as being of four elements: water, earth, fire and air. Each of these elements affects the zodiac and thus the moons effect upon the earth.
Water signs:

Cancer, Pisces and Scorpio: These signs indicate that they are good for planting or transplanting. The moon  is having a strong influence upon the water in the soil, atmosphere and plants.

Earth Signs

Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn: These signs are great for tilling and working the soil. You can transplant, cultivate and prune in these signs.

Fire Signs

Leo, Aries and Sagittarius: These are generally througt of as more barren signs and are good for pruning, killing insects and harvesting.

Air Signs

Gemini, Aquarius and Libra: This influence is particularly good for flowering plants. Planting, harvesting etc... for flowers.  Think of it as being good for "airy" growth, escpecially annuals.

    You can go into the philosophy of planting by the signs as deep as you want to explore. You can simply plant by the phases of the moon or incorporate the signs of the zodiac and the four elements. Either way, you might be pleasantly surprised at how accurate it can be. The easiest way to get started is to use a copy of the Old Farmer's Alamanac. Go to a particular month, pick a day and see what phase the moon is in and what part of the zodiac influences it. Next, take a look at the day before and the day after. This will give you an idea of which direction the moon is heading towards. Is it moving towards and influence by Liba or by Taurus? This way, you can tell what the major influence is and what aspect of gardening you need to be concerned with.
     Go ahead and give it a try! Try a test bed planting with the signs and one planted in a phase not recommended. See for yourself if this old time knowlege is still valid for today's gardener. You might be pleasantly surprised.

Southeastern Institute for Traditional Herbal Medicine

Introducing The Southeastern Institute for Traditional Herbal Medicine

2009/2010 Herbal Studies Course - Gadsen, Al

The Southeastern School of Herbal Medicine is now accepting application for the 2009/2010 year. This herbal studies course which will be held in Gadsden, Al, will begin July 2009 and run one weekend a month for 12 months.

This intensive one year program is designed to take students from a minimal knowledge of herbal medicine to a point where they have the confidence and experience to identify and prepare several hundred medicinal plants and to begin their own practiceor simply take care of their family with the use of home remedies..

This program consists of classroom lecture, hands on practice compounding herbal formulas and intense field work. All students will have the opportunity to gain practical experience working in a local health food store along with volunteer work in a "Free Clinic" environment.

Classes will primarily be taught by Darryl Patton, a Master Herbalist with over  25 years of practical and clinical experience in the field of herbal medicine. Guest speakers will also be teaching classes designed to increase the hands-on skills of the student herbalist.

Along with the herbal training part of the course, students will be introduced to basic iridology, reflexology and a several other alternative health modalities.

To apply, or for more information email: Cost for the 12 month program is $1,200. A payment plan is available. A detailed listing of each class can be found on the calendar/classes page of

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