The Herbal Bear - Newsletters

The Herbal Bear's
April 2009 Newsletter

In this issue

  • Stinging Nettle
  • Ten Things You Can Do for Earth Day
  • Learn More about the Earth (Books and DVDs)
  • The Herbal Bear Classes
  • The Botanical Medicine Program
  • Do you know someone who is interested in herbal medicine? Please feel free to forward this newsletter or click here to add a name to our mailing list.

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Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica) 

By Ursula Basch                                                          
Herbal Bear School of Botanical Medicine

Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) has been used for centuries as a medicinal herb. In medieval Europe, it was used as a diuretic and to treat joint pain.


NettlesStinging nettle gets its name from the  fine hairs on the leaves and stems which contain irritating chemicals that are released when the plant comes in contact with the skin. The stinging action of nettle has been used as a counter-irritant and can actually decrease the pain of arthritic joints. Scientists think nettle does this by interfering with the way the body transmits pain signals. The stinging action of the plant is eliminated if dried, cooked or brewed as a tea.

Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH)

In Europe, stinging nettle root is  used to treat BPH, or enlargement of the prostate. An enlarged prostate gland presses on the urethra (the tube that empties urine from the bladder) causing symptoms such as: reduced urinary flow, incomplete emptying of the bladder, post urination dripping, and the constant urge to urinate. Studies suggest that stinging nettle, in combination with other herbs (especially saw palmetto), may be effective at relieving BPH symptoms. Laboratory studies have shown stinging nettle to be comparable to finasteride (a medication commonly prescribed for BPH) in slowing the growth of certain prostate cells. However, the herb does not decrease prostate size.  It is important to work with a doctor to treat BPH, and to make sure you have a proper diagnosis to rule out prostate cancer.1

Hay Fever

Stinging Nettles also been used for relieving the symptoms of hay fever.  People use nettles to reduce the sneezing, itchy and watery eyes associated with plant based allergies. People with allergies are best advised to start drinking nettle tea at the beginning of the allergy season.2

Blood Pressure and Blood Sugar

Nettles has also been used traditionally for it hypotensive and diuretic effects. Studies suggest that Nettles may lower blood sugar and blood pressure, however, these studies were conducted on animals and have not been proved for humans. 3

1 Efficacy and safety of a combination of Sabal and Urtica extract in lower urinary tract symptoms--long-term follow-up of a placebo-controlled, double-blind, multicenter trial.

2 Nettle extract (Urtica dioica) affects key receptors and enzymes associated with allergic rhinitis.

3 Maintaining a physiological blood glucose level with 'glucolevel', a combination of four anti-diabetes plants used in the traditional arab herbal medicine.

  The protective activity of Urtica dioica leaves on blood glucose concentration and beta-cells in streptozotocin-diabetic rats.

 Other Studies:

Koch E. Extracts from fruits of saw palmetto (Sabal serrulata) and roots of stinging nettle (Urtica dioica): viable alternatives in the medical treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia and associated lower urinary tracts symptoms. Planta Med. 2001;67(6):489-500.

Konrad L, Muller HH, Lenz C, Laubinger H, Aumuller G, Lichius JJ. Antiproliferative effect on human prostate cancer cells by a stinging nettle root (Urtica dioica) extract. Planta Med. 2000;66(1):44-7.

Krzeski T, Kazon M, Borkowski A, Witeska A, Kuczera J. Combined extracts of Urtica dioica and Pygeum africanum in the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia: double-blind comparison of two doses. Clin Ther. 1993;15:1011-1020.

Ten things you can do this Earth Day

Wondering how you can make a difference?

Here are 10 things you can do to help the planet, whether it's Earth Day or not.

1. Leave your car at home for a day (or a week or a month) and try walking, or biking. If work is too far away to walk, take public transit or carpool. One city bus eliminates the emissions of 40 cars.

2. Turn off the lights, the computer and the television when they are not in use. Using only highly efficient and money-saving appliances can reduce the electricity consumption of an average household to one-10th of the national average.

3. Try eating meat-free at least one day a week. A meat-based diet requires seven times more land than a plant-based diet. Livestock production is responsible for more climate change gasses than all the motor vehicles in the world.

4. Choose foods produced organically, locally and in season. Support your regional farmers and farming industry: buying locally and in season is better for the environment than buying foods that have been shipped hundreds of miles to your local market.

5. Put a composter in your backyard  to reduce household waste. Composting organics has two key benefits: it reduces the amount of waste going to landfills and when added to your garden, helps nourish soil and plants.

6. Turn off your car's engine if stopped for more than 10 seconds. If every driver of a light-duty vehicle avoided idling by five minutes a day, collectively, we would save  almost 4500 tons of Greenhouse Gas Emissions.

7. Set your thermostat above room temperature in the summer and below room temperature in the winter. For each degree you adjust, you can save 5% on your utility bill and 1% on your energy use.

8. Replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs which use only 25% as much energy as an incandescent bulb and lasts 10 times longer. You can elect to buy electric power  from renewable sources though your local electric supply company.  It's easy!  Simply click here to see how you can buy "Green Energy" for your home or business.

9. Cut direct mail catalogs and junk mail. An organization called promises to completely remove you from up to 95% of the junk mail lists by contacting each organization from which you receive mail and/or catalogs for a one-time fee of $41.

10. Get involved in policy decisions. Call or write your elected officials and tell them you support environmental policies to save our earth.

For more great ideas vist:

Learn More about The Earth and How we can Help Our Planet.

Al GoreAn I nconvenient Truth    - Al Gore's documentary about global warming.       

Harvest of Fear   Nova - Documentory - Havest of F ear - A PBS documentary on genetically modified foods.

Planet EarthPlanet Earth - The Complete BBC Series   - Acclaimed series on the natural wonders of our planet.

365 Ways to Live Green  365 Ways to Live Green: Your Everyday Guide to Saving the Environment  - Effective ways to help our planet.


echinaeca3Here are our Spring Classes

Click on any of the above courses to see a full description.

For our full schedule - click here

The Herbal Bear 2009 Botanical Medicine Program

We are  currently accepting applications for the 2009 Botanical Medicine Program.

The 2009 Botanical Medicine Program offers a 6-weekend program, June through October, for those who desire an in-depth herbal program. The program is held one weekend a month (twice in October). This course is very special. It offers students the opportunity to learn about herbs by placing the classroom right in the garden! The program is at the Herbal Bear, Grand Gorge, NY location - a beautiful private 30 acre property in the Northern Catskills - just 2 hour cabin1sms and 45 minutes from NYC.

Each weekend we learn about the plants that grow around us, studying their healing properties upon different body systems, gathering and harvesting the local medicinal plants which grow on the property, and developing a systematic approach to herbal formulations. By the end of the program you will be able to identify and know how to use well over 100 different herbs. Our classes are informal and relaxed - however we take pride in the fact that our instructors are among the top in their fields and include experienced herbalists, research scientists, and authors who have published in their field of botanical expertise.

Our small class size allows accessibility to our instructors both during lessons and after class. Our instructor's enthusiasm for their topics shows in their willingness to share both their time and knowledge with students - in class and one-on-one.

No one enjoys a boring classroom lecture - this is why we have designed this program to be an interactive and hands-on experience. Learning about herbal remedies takes on a whole new dimension when you have a chance to see, smell, touch and use the plants that grow right in the Northern Catskills.

The 2009 Botanical Medicine will be the 17th year our program has been running. Each year I have the pleasure to meet wonderful people who come to learn about plants and botanical medicine. The program is a unique experience, bringing together professional instruction in an informal setting which provides a relaxing environment in which to learn.

The Botanical Medicine program offers course material that is often offered in college level classes. An applicant should have a minimum of a high school diploma and be comfortable with scientific topics. Please see our web page for the full course description.

Ursula Basch
Director and Principal Instructor
The Herbal Bear School of Botanical Medicine

Over the course of the program, you will learn:floweressences2

Spring Herb Identification 
Spring Herb Identification
Herbal Terms and Resources
Wild Food Gathering
Herbs for the Digestive System
Making Herbal Teas
Plant Meditation
Herbal Harvesting, Drying and Storage
Herbal Vinegars
Making Herbal Tinctures
Medicinal Herbal Oils
Herbs for the Nervous System
Making a Herbal First Aid Kit
Herbs for Women's Health
Herbs for The Circulatory System
Making Herbal Salves
Understanding Traditional Chinese Medicine
Herbal Energetics and Diagnostic Techniques
Developing Herbal Formulations
Making Herbal Cosmetics, Body Creams and Herbal Bath Salts
Herbal Case Studies
Herbs for the Immune System
Sacred Herbs and Ceremonial Uses
Medicinal and Edible Mushrooms
Field Identification of Mushrooms Mushroom Propagation Harvesting Autumn
Roots and Barks Herbs for Colds and Flu
Making Herbal Brandies and Elixirs and Syrups
Exploring Healing Modalities (i.e. Reiki, Reflexology)
Planting a Herb Garden
As a participant you will learn the gentle cycles and rhythms of the plants as they develop and change through the seasons. Together with the plants, we will discover our own rhythms and connection to the Mother Earth. The Botanical Medicine Program meets at Herbal Bear Cabin in the Northern Catskills. Located on 30+ acres of woods and field, Herbal Bear Catskill location is a beautiful place to learn. The land is home to deer, bear, turkeys and an incredible assortment of wild edible and medicinal plants. We have a pond suitable for swimming, planted herb gardens, a water lily gardens and many paths to explore through the woods.

Program Dates
The 2009 Botanical Medicine Program meets for all of the following dates:

Saturday, June 13th - Sunday June 14th, 2009
Saturday July 11th - Sunday July 12th, 2009
Saturday August 8th - Sunday August 9th, 2009
Saturday September 12th - Sunday Sept 13th, 2009
Saturday Oct 3th - Sunday October 4th, 2009
Saturday October 24th - Sunday October 25th, 2009
We strongly encourage you to arrange your schedule to be able to attend all the scheduled weekends.

Grand Gorge, NY 

Click HERE for Public Transportation from NYC

Our Instructors
Ursula Basch
Susan Pell, Ph.D.
Bob Beyfuss
Kelly Martin

Meals are Included
Delicious vegetarian meals are included in the Program. We use organic produce and local products as much as possible.

We serve 5 meals per weekend - starting with breakfast on Saturday morning. Our meals are vegetarian and may include dairy and eggs. If you are strictly vegan or have religious limitation for your diet - you may have to bring some food to supplement what is served. We do not serve soy or rice milk. All meals are served buffet style. We ask that you assist in clean-up after each meal.

Daily Schedule
8:00am - 9:00am - Breakfast
9:30am - 12:30pm - Class
12:30pm - 1:45pm - Lunch
1:45pm - 4:30pm - Class
4:30pm - 4:45pm - Break
4:45pm - 6:30pm - Class
6:30pm - 7:30pm - Dinner

8:00am - 8:45am - Breakfast
9:00am - 12:15pm - Class
12:15pm - 1:00pm - Lunch
1:15pm - 2:45pm - Class

Our Early Registration has been extended to April 30th
Program Cost:
 $2850.00 (required at once)

Upon registration you will make an initial payment of $1425.00which includes a non-refundable deposit of $500.00

The remaining balance of $1325.00 must be made by April 30th, 2009. Students who enroll after April 30th, 2009 must make the full payment of $2850.00. 

Register online

Refund Policies:
We will make no refunds after April 30th, 2009. We will not make refunds or offer make-up sessions for any classes missed by the student.

The program costs do not include lodging. Each student is responsible for their own lodging arrangements. Please click click here for infomation about local motels and inns in the area - as well as lodging offered at the Herbal Bear. We are offering lodging information to assist you in finding accommodations. If you need further assistance, please feel free to contact us.

Recommended Reading:
There are a few books that I recommend that each student purchase.
National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Wildflowers : Eastern Region
Complete Guide to Medicinal Herbs by Penelope Ody
The Herbal Handbook : A User's Guide to Medical Herbalism  by David Hoffman

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