The Best Farm Products You Can’t Eat
"Natural plant medicine grown from the soil cannot always be taken internally. Some herbs must be limited to topical use because if too much of them is ingested, health problems can occur. Applied topically, though, the results can bring untold relief.
Arnica, the bright-yellow, mountainside beauty, and Lobelia, the blue flower formally known as Gagroot, are two crops that herbalist Dana Woodruff of Montpelier has waxed up into a topical salve for sore muscles. Also known as the “Dandelioness,” Dana incorporates Arnica with Lobelia to create her Tigress Balm, an external herbal rub made to give muscles instant relief from aches and pains. Arnica aids in muscle and tissue repair, while Lobelia brings warmth and relaxation to the applied area. These healing properties make Dana
shout, “Herbs work!”
Initially, she brought home Arnica from Zack Woods Herb Farm in Hyde Park, a premier source for live and dried medicinal herbs. Today, she grows the Arnica and Lobelia on her community garden plot. The Tigress Balm also includes Vermont-grown St. John’s Wort, Dandelion Blossoms, and Dandelion Flower Essence—crops that grow abundantly here. A portion of the olive oil used in the balm comes from a reliable source in Palestine, and the shea butter is purchased fair-trade from Burkina Faso, Africa.
Dandelioness Herbals is rooted in the value of sharing Vermont’s crop abundance with the local and global community. Dana teaches workshops in the Montpelier area to make Global Citizens Salve, a topical-use-only salve made to cure wounds. It consists mainly of Vermont-grown Calendula and Yarrow. Each student makes enough salve to donate a portion of theirs to No More Deaths/No Más Muertes, a humanitarian aid organization that provides emergency first aid to people crossing the Arizona-Mexico border.
In many ways, Dana is like a dandelion herself: bubbly, friendly, outgoing, and wanting to help everyone she can during her day. She sees the dandelion as representing “resistance, resilience, persistence, and abundance.”
You can find Dandelioness Herbals’ healing formulas at the Local Agricultural Community Exchange (LACE) herbal apothecary on Main Street in Barre. They are also available through the Montpelier Commonshare. (Products are sold on a sliding scale, to make herbal healthcare more available to the masses.) If you’re not in the Capitol area, you can visit Dana and read more about herbal activism at her website. You can also subscribe to her monthly e-mail list, Herbal & Community Health Update, which has information on workshops, events, and accessible health care in Vermont. More info: dandelionessherbals.blogspot.com"
by Jessyloo Rodrigues