The Herbal Bear - Newsletters

The Herbal Bear's
May 2009 Newsletter

In this issue

  • Aloe Vera
  • Dandelion Recipes
  • 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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Aloe Vera - Nature's burn remedy 
By Ursula Basch                                                          
Herbal Bear School of Botanical Medicine

Almost everyone is aware of the healing virtues of Aloe vera. This well-known medicinal plant is used around the world to treat skin ailments and burns. It is commonly kept as a house plant in the kitchen to use on minor burns caused
by grease splatters.

Aloe contains a slippery gel that has demulcent (soothing) and vulnerary (wound-healing) effects. Herbalists commonly use Aloe for soothing skin and healing burns, rashes, sunburn and minor skin abrasions. Its wound healing properties works by inhibiting formation of tissue-injuring compounds that gather at the site of a skin injury. The plant contains chrysophanic acid, which is highly effective in healing abrasions.

A study in the International Journal of Dermatology1 reported the effects of Aloe vera gel applied topically on leg ulcers. Patients studied had serious raw, open sores on a leg that persisted for years. After Aloe was repeatedly applied to the ulcers, the sores were healed or showed significant improvement. Subsequent studies have also shown the beneficial uses of topical applications of Aloe vera.

Scientists are investigating the use of Aloe in treating cancer It is thought that a molecule in the Aloe gel, known as acemannan, stimulates the body to produce disease-fighting white blood cells, particularly macrophages. Recent studies with Aloe have suggested it enhances certain chemotherapy treatment2. 

Other studies indicate that Aloe may have beneficial use in managing  non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM)3. Use of Aloe vera gel reduced blood glucose levels. The preliminary findings suggest that Aloe decreases insulin resistance.  These studies have only been conducted with animal research, but the results are promising.

1 Use of aloe in treating leg ulcers and dermatoses.
Zawahry ME, Hegazy MR, Helal M. Int J Dermatol.
1973 Jan-Feb;12(1):68-73.

2  A randomized study of chemotherapy versus biochemotherapy with chemotherapy plus Aloe arborescens in patients with metastatic cancer.
Lissoni P, Rovelli F, Brivio F, Zago R, Colciago M, Messina G, Mora A, Porro G.
In Vivo. 2009 Jan-Feb;23(1):171-5.

3 Hypoglycemic and hypolipidemic effects of processed Aloe vera gel in a mouse model of non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus.
Kim K, Kim H, Kwon J, Lee S, Kong H, Im SA, Lee YH, Lee YR, Oh ST, Jo TH, Park YI, Lee CK, Kim K.
Phytomedicine. 2009 Mar 18. [Epub ahead of print]


earth day2

Dandelion Recipes

The name dandelion comes from the French dent de lion, meaning "lion's tooth," a reference to the jagged-edged leaves of this noteworthy weed that grows both wild and cultivated. The bright green leaves have a slightly bitter, tangy flavor that adds interest to salads. Dandelion leaves can also be cooked like spinach. Dandelion greens are a bitter herb.  Bitters are a wonderful class of herb that aids digestion by stimulating the liver to produce bile - and bile in turn helps us digest fats. When picking dandelion leaves, look for bright-green, tender-crisp leaves; avoid those with yellowed or wilted tips. Refrigerate up to 5 days. Wash thoroughly before using. Dandelion greens are a contain  Folate, Magnesium, Phosphorus and Copper, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol), Vitamin K, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Calcium, Iron, Potassium and Manganese.


Wilted Spring Dandelion Greens
recipe courtesy of Gourmet Magazine

3 tablespoons olive oil
3 pounds dandelion greens (or spinach), trimmed, washed and torn into
1-inch pieces
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

In a large heavy pot heat olive oil over moderately high heat. Add greens and toss to coat. Add vinegar and sugar, toss to combine, cover, and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes until tender. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to serving dish and top with butter.

Dandelion Green Gumbo with Good Thyme Rice

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 
1 cup lomg grain white rice, 
6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
4 to 5 sprigs fresh thyme
2 tablespoons butter
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 to 4 ribs celery from the heart, chopped with greens
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 large yellow onion, chopped
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon sweet paprika 
1 bay leaf, fresh or dried
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 bottle pale beer
3 to 6 teaspoons hot sauce 
1 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 (15-ounce) can petite diced, crushed or stewed tomatoes
4 to 5 cups, 2 bundles, dandelion greens, stemmed and chopped
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
2 teaspoons lemon zest
2 scallions, finely chopped
Heat a sauce pot over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil and rice. Toast rice 2 minutes, add 2 cups stock and thyme sprigs and bring to a boil. Cover the pot, reduce heat to simmer and cook 18 minutes or until tender.

Heat a soup pot over medium to medium high heat. Add 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan, and 2 tablespoons butter to the pot. When butter melts into oil, add garlic, celery, bell pepper and onion and season with salt, pepper and paprika. Cook to soften veggies, 5 minutes. Add bay leaf and flour and cook the flour another minute. Stir in the beer and reduce the liquid by half, a minute or so. Add hot sauce, Worcestershire and tomatoes. Add 1 quart stock to the pot, stir in the greens and season with nutmeg. Raise heat to bring to a quick boil then simmer 15 minutes until greens are no longer bitter. Adjust seasonings, to taste.

Uncover rice and add lemon zest and scallions. Remove the thyme stems and fluff rice with a fork. Remove bay from gumbo. Scoop up gumbo and top with scoops of rice and serve.


echinaeca3Here are our May-June 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 hourcabin1sms 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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