We have made the walk from water to earth many times as humans, yes? I think about how we came from the ocean as a species. We grow in a fluid inside our mother’s wombs similar in makeup to the ocean before we ever take our first breath. And we walk the Medicine Wheel each and every year from the water of the west in autumn to the earth of north in winter, until our very last breath. Every year. And it’s now. It seems so simple, and for me falls easily into being good medicine, to take in nourishment from a sea vegetable that grows in the rich mineral baths of our sweet oceans. Shoring up our reserves is the task here and seaweed from our original mother, the mother of us all, provides nourishment and supports restoration for the deep journey inward during winter where we are asked to crystallize our experiences and feelings into wisdom, all the while meeting the physical demands of colder weather, opportunistic microbes, and a culture that does not support slowing down and honoring such ways of being. We must do it anyway and support each other along the way. Seaweed is here and has been since our beginning, and embodies the support needed to make such a journey. I offer here some simple ways to work seaweed into your life as a practice of honoring this walk from the teachings of the west to the north, and from water to earth.
Kinds of Seaweeds in my Apothecary-Pantry
Sea vegetables spend their entire lives luxuriating in the world’s largest, oldest, most complete mineral bath. They soak it up and are among the richest sources of iodine, magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc, potassium, manganese, and all other trace minerals essential to the growth and repair of our bodies. Getting precise numbers for the mineral content of each variety is difficult because it varies based on the seaweed type, growing location, water temperature, water depth, climate, and season. Often the exact numbers our scientists want actually fall into ranges which make the rest of us happy.
My pantry and apothecary currently have: Kelp – (Macrocystis pyrifera) ‘Giant Kelp’ and (Nereocystis luetkeana) ‘Bull Kelp’, Winged Kelp (Alaria esculenta)
Bladderwrack (Fucus vesiculosis), Dulse (Palmaria palmata), Hiziki (Hizikia fusiforme), Kombu (Laminaria japonica)
The Quick List: Amazing Benefits of Seaweed
Our Daily Seaweed Vitamins
Have a look at the teaching video on making my daily Seaweed Vitamins that my students receive in Lesson 6 of the course 'Birthing an Herbalist in 13 Moons' at ElderMoon School of Herbs. Enjoy!
I grew up in quite a toxic environment among poorly raised apple trees on farms that sprayed often here in the Hudson Valley of New York. As a child we would play in the spray as if it was a sprinkler. Then drink and bathe in the well water and eat the fruit of these poorly mistreated trees. When I walked to the herbal medicine world in my early twenties it became so obvious that chelation of toxins from my tissues was a major task for me.
So I did my homework. I ditched commercial vitamin pills and decided that daily seaweed would start the process of release on the inside while I drastically changed the outside of my life to support a more chemical free footprint for myself and family. We are open systems with our natural world. We take in and excrete what is in Nature. Focusing on remaining open, discerning where and how I will live, and supporting eliminations has kept me from descending into the fear of illness based on such a childhood.
Gingered Carrots with Wild Atlantic Wakame
I leave you with a nourishing favorite from my kitchen. Wild Atlantic Wakame, also called Winged Kelp or Alaria is Alaria esculenta. It grows in thick beds on low surf-battered rock ledges and the company I love harvests by the tides of the full and new moon in early spring before the leaves of the trees have returned. It’s the most challenging seaweed to harvest due its remote locations near rocky islands off the coast of northern Maine. Delicate and easy to eat, I often encourage those new to seaweed to start with this one. It’s delicate in taste and texture and easy to work with.
ElderMoon School Current Offerings
Are you hearing the call to go deep with the plants? Me too. Always! Knowing the plants for healing is in our bones and is our original medicine system. This is the birth place of all other schools of medicine. Come learn how to incorporate simple remedies for yourself and loved ones. Most Courses are Discounted 15% through 11/30/16. Our Give Back: 5% of all course fees are donated to reforestation efforts in the rain forests directly through the smaller organizations of 'TreeSisters' and Rocio Alarcon of 'The Iamoe Center' in Ecuador. Together We Rise.
Jennifer Costa, Herbalist, Teacher, BS, RN, CST, and Founder of ElderMoon School of Herbs & Earth Medicine