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© Kat Morgenstern
December 2002

VOL.1 no.7


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Sorry, folks for letting you hang in there, waiting for the winter edition of the newsletter, once again much longer than intended. A tide of work has swept over me that has made it difficult to keep up with my original schedule. I am sure you understand.

Now for the good news. There are changes ahead at the Sacred Earth web site and the next couple of months will be spent reorganizing and sprucing up the site to make it more accessible and useful. Any comments you might have, I am all ears while I am at the design stage, so if you have any great ideas do let me know - we are here to serve the online community of ethnobotanist, herbalists and friends of the earth. E-mail your suggestions to Kat Morgenstern

I hope you will enjoy this issue - the next one might not be out for a while due to the restructuring process, but it will come around eventually, so please bear with me. Wishing you all a peaceful, happy Yule-tide and winter solstice! Happy festivities, whichever way you choose to celebrate this time of the year and thank you all for your feedback and support in 2002 and hope to see you all back in 2003 ~ Kat

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As the winter storms are beginning to blow in the foragers year is definitely coming to a close, unless you are a hunter of course, but that is another path altogether... The plant energy has turned inwards now, withdrawn into the roots. Here it will slumber until reawakened in the spring when the first birds begin to sing the wake up call and the sun begins to thaw the frozen earth.

Those who live in a cold climate might be snowed under already, while those blessed with milder weather might enjoy the last warm days and still find nuts and mushrooms to add to a hearty autumn feast. Sitting around an open fire with one's friends and roasting sweet chestnuts (make sure the bottoms are slit or else they will explode on you) and sharing some home made elderberry wine with stories and laughter is a wonderful winter pastime. Walnuts are also still good for picking - lest the squirrels beat you to them. If you don't mind a more 'unusual' flavour, acorns might be worth a try, though they definitely need 'watering' in order to leech out the bitterness. Boil them with several changes of water and then roast them in the oven. Grind them to the consistency you like and try adding them to bread or cake mixes. They impart a very nutty flavour and a tasty little crunch.

In the milder regions mushrooms might still be popping up in the fields and woods until they are killed by the frost. Though before attempting to add wild mushroom species to your foraged dishes make absolutely certain that you have picked only the ones that are good to eat. Ask an expert. In some countries you can go to the pharmacy and ask for help with identification. Or try the local botanical gardens, agricultural extension service or botany department of your university. Join a mushroom foray to get expert instruction on identification and most importantly, how to recognize the poisonous species.

One mushroom that is easily identified even by the novice, is the common inkcap. Use the tall ones as a guide to the colony - while the older ones are not good to eat once their lamella turn pink, the babies are usually never far. Because of the high water content mushrooms often don't cook very well; instead, they simply melt away. However, a great way to prepare them is as fritters. Roll the mushrooms in flour, dip them in beaten egg, then roll them in bread crumbs and drop them into a hot frying pan with sizzling vegetable oil. This way their consistency remains largely intact and the crust adds a nice crunchiness to the experience.

Also, now after the first frost has bitten it is a good time to pick rosehips, sloes, hawthorn berries and certain sorbus species. These fruits need to be bitten by the frost before they become really palatable. The rosehip fruits are soft now and can thus be processed much easier than in their early autumn rock-hard condition. Rosehips are very rich in vitamin C and are a great preventive remedy for winter ails. Process them quickly though, as they contain an enzyme, which will destroy the vitamin C as soon as the cut surfaces are exposed to the air. For detailed information see the article below.

In Association with
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Making Rosehip Syrup

Rosehips are funny fruit: Gourd shaped little piglets, wafting in the wind sprinkling an unexpected dash of colour on to the winter landscape of olive greens, browns, yellows and grays. Suddenly there they are, like fireworks on a tree, impossible to ignore. And yet, despite the fact it is winter the birds and squirrels have not ravaged the branches and cleared off what they could. Presumably the reward for seed distribution is not that great from a birds point of view. The Rosehips, in their early stages are rock hard and difficult to pick. The skin is thin, the fruit flesh meager and inside they are filled with a bunch of hard little triangular seeds that are covered in fine hair, which perhaps are just as irritating to a bird's throat as they are to a human one. Not so long ago this fine hairy fluff was a prized item among school children who used it as itching powder. Though for this purpose the best variety of rose to use is the the dog rose, with its big fat squash-shaped hips, which yield the greatest amount of fluff.

Rosehip4.jpg (37K)When the rosehips first appear I can never resist the temptation of biting into one, even though they are still hard and very sour. Inevitably I end up spitting and splattering the seeds out and trying to get rid of the little hairs. Mind you, that happens just the same when they are ripe and ready. Rosehips are best picked after the first frost, when their fruit flesh turns soft and sticky. At this point they can be picked without a struggle and are much easier to process.

One of the best ways to preserve them is to turn them is as syrup or conserves which are formidable Vitamin C bombs - sorely needed to boost the immune system at this time of the year. When picking wild herbs or fruit I always ask the tree, bush or plant for permission and explain why I need their help to heal and nourish my friends and family and let them know that I would appreciate it very much if they would donate a few leaves or berries or whatever I am collecting, to this good cause. I find that that the plant addressed in this way will be much more cooperative in donating their gifts - something I greatly appreciate when gathering fruit from thorny friends. When I have to pull at a plant I always feel as if I am brutalizing it, scavenging rather than foraging, so I always make sure I attune to them first. Rosebushes are covered in sharp little thorns and if one approaches them 'mindlessly' one is sure to carry forth the battle scars, the rosebush will win, even if you manage to extract some hips. So a mindful attitude really helps, I talk to the bush, gently reprimand it when it tries to tuck at my clothes or rip my collecting bag. Usually we come to an agreeable cooperative arrangement, like, I let the bush hold my bag for me while I am picking, since it tries to get at it anyway, and that leaves my hands free to pull off the hips. That is the other advantage of picking rosehips late in the year. The fact that they have turned mushy and sticky inside means that they are much looser on the bush and will come off much more easily. Still, this is not a fruit to tackle when you are in a hurry. The thorniness makes any quick moves regrettable, and the small size of the hips makes picking even a pound of them a rather slow process. When I have enough I thank the bush and go on my way.

Rosehips When I first started making rosehip syrup I always went through the painstaking process of cutting off each hip's tail and snout, cutting them in halves or quarters and getting them all cleaned out and ready before putting them into the pot. This can be a very drawn out process, and very fiddley at that. A much better way of preparing them is to simply put the hips in a grinder or processor and putting the mush straight into a pot of boiling water (not too much). Not only does this save hours of time, but it also saves the most essential constituent of the rosehip, the vitamin C, from oxidation decay. The hips contain an enzyme that activates this degeneration process as soon as the hip is cut. Amazingly, the vitamin C loss from boiling is much less than the potential loss from oxidization, and what's more, the boiling kills the enzyme.

So, just wash the hips well, pull off the stalks and put them in the grinder whole, then add the resulting mush to a pan of simmering water. They will mush up very easily and in no time you will have the sticky goo of seeds and what fruit flesh there, is floating in the pot. Simmer gently for a while and add plenty of sugar or honey (1lb of sugar per 1lb of fruit) as well as any spices you might like, such as ginger, cloves or cinnamon. Simmer until it reaches the desired consistency. Longer simmering makes it thicker, so it can be used as a marmalade spread. Shorter simmering leaves it a more syrupy consistency. When it is ready, pour it through a jelly bag and let it drip into a measuring container or jar. Fill into sterilized jars and close tight. Unopened they will last as well as jams do, but once opened they should be stored in the fridge and eaten within 10 days.

ground hips
rosehip soup
Grinding the Rosehips in a much too small coffee grinder,
not ideal, but it works
looks gross, but tastes delicious,
not a bad yield for an afternoon of fun
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At no other time of the year is our schizophrenic mentality more apparent than at Christmas time. While the supermarket shelves are bursting with sugar and fat laden goodies, meant as tempting treats to celebrate the season of over-indulgence, one only has to go as far as the check-out to receive the psychological punishment for succumbing to the allure: Here, the glossy magazines shout at us in big red headlines: 'Loose 20lbs in 2 weeks', and similar slogans designed to spoil the pleasure before we have even indulged in it.

True, most people enjoy the rich seasonal treats, especially when fat and sugar are usually painstakingly avoided. At Christmas we feel its okay to eat chocolate galore at any time of the day, followed by heavy meat roasts, thick gravy, cakes and deserts, alcohol by the crate, egg-nogg, ice cream and you name it.

While the mind relishes the pleasure of indulging in forbidden foods, the body does not quite share the same enthusiasm. Most of all it's the liver that pays the price for the extravaganza and unfortunately its power to break down and process all we serve it is limited. Stomach ache and indigestion are the result - a common plague at Christmas time. Not to mention the alcohol poisoning that often goes with it.

So how can one enjoy the season of abundance without letting the liver carry such a heavy burden?

Its simple:
First of all, don't forget to exercise. Much of that bloated feeling subsides after a couple of hours of walking in between the feasting. If you have snow already get out into it and enjoy it!

Secondly, strengthen the liver before, during and after the feasting frenzy. Good liver tonics are the bitter herbs, such as Dandelion and Burdock, for example. Perhaps you have brewed some Dandelion and Burdock beer earlier in the season - this would be a good alternative to regular beer. Red wine also helps the digestion and is beneficial for the heart - to a degree. After the meal you might consider serving Dandelion or Chicory coffee instead of the regular brew, perhaps along with a bitter herbal liqueur.

If you are doing all the cooking at home and are wondering how to make a fatty goose or pork roast more digestible, try rubbing them down with bitter herbs such as Wormwood, Mugwort and Sage. Rosemary, Thyme and Juniper are also very useful cooking herbs, as they not only impart a wonderful aromatic flavour but also stimulate the digestive processes.

Certain condiments too, can be helpful, rather than harmful. Try serving your meats with a horseradish crème on the side. And don't forget to add plenty of garlic to all the cooking. While too many people still frown on abundant use of garlic, if everybody in the company partakes of it nobody will mind too much and you are doing your body a big favour. Garlic reduces the cholesterol, so even if you have used more eggs and crème in your cooking than usual, hopefully the garlic will help to offset some of their negative effects.

To protect the liver from the effects of all the alcohol, try milk thistle seed. Thistles in general and milk thistle in particular are some of the best restorative tonics for this all important organ. Perhaps you could incorporate artichokes as a starter or cardus stems as a vegetable with your meal.

Traditionally, Angelica root has also been used to treat the effects of alcohol over indulgence. Angelica is a highly aromatic herb and worth experimenting with in your cooking. Old cookbooks use the seeds in baking. The stems and roots can be candied. Candied Ginger and Angelica might make an interesting and healthy sweet treat to mix in with the usual array of chocolates and such.

In the old days 'Lebkuchen' - chocolate dipped spice breads represented the epitome of Christmas indulgence, as spices were the most expensive commodity and only used extravagantly at this time of the year. Such spice breads are really rather healthy compared to regular sweets and candies. The Cinnamon, Cardamom, Coriander Seed, and Cloves used to spice them result in very tasty and wholesome treat. The finest Lebkuchen contain no flour but are a mixture of ground nuts, eggs, spices and candied fruit, which is good news for people with wheat allergies, but not so good news for people with nut allergies. So when you put your menu together spare a thought on your liver and make it a feast of healthy treats.


Dandelion and Burdock Beer

(from the New Herbal)
  • 1lb young nettles
  • 4oz dandelion leaves
  • 4oz fresh or 2 oz dry burdock root
  • 1/2 oz ginger root, grated
  • 2 lemons (organic)
  • 1 gal. Water
  • 1lb plus 4 teaspoons demerara sugar
  • 1oz cream of tartar
  • Brewing Yeast

Put Nettles, Dandelion leaves, Burdock and Ginger along with the lemon peel into a large pan. Add the water and bring to a boil. Simmer for half an hour. Put lemon juice, 1lb of sugar and the cream of tartar into a large container and strain the liquid from the pan, pressing the herbs well. Stir to dissolve the sugar, cool to body temperature. Sprinkle in the yeast. Cover the container and leave in a warm place to brew for 3 days. Filter and bottle, adding 1/2 teaspoon Demerara sugar per pint. Leave undisturbed until the beer is clear, which usually takes about a week.

Elisen Lebkuchen

  • 6 Eggs
  • 470 g Brown Sugar
  • 1 Packet Vanilla sugar
  • 480 g Hazelnuts
  • 50 g chopped Walnuts
  • 100 g candied Lemon Peel finely chopped
  • 100 g candied Orange Peel finely chopped
  • 1 Lemon zest (organic),
  • 1 Orange zest (organic.),
  • 1 Tablespoon grated ginger (marinated in syrup)
Spices (ground)
  • ½ teaspoon Cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon Cloves, powdered
  • ½ teaspoon Allspice
  • ½ teaspoon Coriander Seed
  • ½ teaspoon Mace
  • ½ teaspoon Cardamom
  • Wafers (diameter of 5 cm)
  • 130 g Confectionery sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Rum,
  • 2 tablespoons Red Wine
  • 200 g Chocolate glazing

Preparation: Whisk eggs, sugar and Vanilla sugar until foamy and all the sugar is dissolved. Chop half the hazelnuts roughly and grind the other half to a fine powdered consistency. Mix the nuts, candied fruit, lemon and orange zest with the butter/egg mixture, add the ginger and other spices. Cover the dough and allow to rest in the fridge for 24 hours. The following day line a cookie sheet with baking paper and place the wafers on it. Shape the dough into little balls and press these on the wafers, leaving about 4mm around the rim. The quantity given here should yield about 150 cookies. If you don't want to use so much sugar it is possible to substitute honey, though the consistency of the dough will be stickier and you might have to use some flour to compensate. Bake at a low heat (180 - 200 degrees Celsius) on the middle shelf for 12 -15 minutes. The Lebkuchen should be light brown and still soft inside. Cool on a grit. Leave some of them 'au naturel' without glazing.

For the glazing stir the confectionery sugar, rum and red wine into a smooth paste and apply over the top of the Lebkuchen. For the chocolate glazing, melt the glazing chocolate in a water bath (if you want to make your own use dark chocolate and melt with butter to make an easily spreading paste) and cover the remaining Lebkuchen with it. Lebkuchen improve with storage and should be baked ahead of time. Place in a cookie jars and store an apple with them to keep them moist. Best after 10 days of storage.

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Travel feature

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Even if you don't suffer from seasonal depression, you will love the peaceful ambiance of this tropical paradise retreat in the heart of Costa Rica. There is no better place to nourish the soul and treat the body to a heavenly well-being experience.

Located on a private estate of tropical splendor, atop a mountain in Costa Rica's Alajuela province. It is surrounded by coffee plantations yet surprisingly only 20 minutes from the International airport at San Jose. Walk amidst enchanted gardens with fountains, pools, waterfalls, flowers, fruit and ornamental trees, colorful birds and gentle butterflies. The year round temperature averages 73 degrees during the day and nights are mild.

The friendly and fun staff of Pura Vida, The Good Life Center, invite you to one of the most special places to stay in Costa Rica, in the mountains above Alajuela. Step into an oasis of beauty, tranquility and home-like intimacy as you immerse yourself in "the good life"— good food, good friends, feel-good yoga, meditation and fitness, all with a spiritual, holistic and helpful approach to who you are...and what you need.

Find out more about Costa Rica and the Yoga Retreat Center


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Herb of the Month - Mysterious Mistletoe


(Viscum album)
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English: Bird Lime, Birdlime Mistletoe, Mystyldene, Lignum Crucis, All-heal,

German: Affolter, Donnerbesen, Heil aller Schäden, Hexenbesen, Nistel, Vogelleimholz, Heiligholz, Heilkreuzholz, Drudenfuss, Wintergrün,

French: Herbe de la Croix, Gui de Chêne


Mistletoe grows as a parasite on various deciduous trees. Occasionally it also grows on pines. Contrary to popular belief it is rarely found on oak trees but commonly associated with apple, poplar, and lime. Mistletoe has some relatives that actually grow as trees or bushes, which suggests that the parasitic habit is acquired and has subsequently been passed on genetically.

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Mistletoe has an odd appearance: a yellowish ball hanging high up in the tree, visible only after the host tree has lost all its leaves. Mistletoe is evergreen and sustains its greenish yellow leaves throughout the winter. Its growing habit is distinctly round, its twigs branch frequently and its elongated, oval leaves always grow in opposite pairs. The tiny, inconspicuous yellowish flowers appear in May, but the white, pea-sized, white berries don't ripen until late in the year. Birds, in particular thrushes, are responsible for their seed distribution. The berries are distinctly sticky (hence the Latin name 'Viscum album - 'white sticky stuff') and easily cling to branches and soon send out a sucker rootlet that penetrates the bark of the host tree and taps its sap for nutrients and water.


Although Mistletoe is a parasite and as such dependent on the host-plant for nutrients and water, its does not rely on it for carbon dioxide. Since Mistletoe produces green, chlorophyll-containing leaves, it can perform its own photosynthesise. As a rule mistletoe does not kill the host-plant and thus is not really harmful to it. While birds feed on the berries without apparent harm, they are toxic to humans.


The enigma of the Mistletoe, airborne between heaven and earth, has always been a mystery. Where did it come from? How could it sustain itself, without roots, yet bear leaves and fruit, even throughout the winter long after the green life-force has retreated into the womb of the earth?

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The druids revered the Mistletoe as the holiest of holies, especially when it appeared on an Oak, their most sacred tree. It was their 'Golden Bough', the key to the heavens and the underworld. The mysterious plant was regarded as the reproductive organs of Thor, the god of thunder, who also presided over the sacred oak tree. In the druidic tree calendar the 23rd of December is given to the Mistletoe, the day when it was ceremoniously cut. druid1.jpg (5K)After offering prayers the chief druid would ascend into the tree to cut the Mistletoe with a golden sickle. Utmost care was taken to prevent the herb from touching the ground. Instead, it had to be caught in a white cloth. Two white bulls, sacred to the Moon-Goddess, all dressed up in garlands were also sacrificed on the holy occasion. The sacrifice of the regenerative power of the solar deity was to bestow blessings of abundance and protection from all evil for the new year. It represented a marriage of the solar and lunar forces, a harmonisation of all opposites in perfect balance at the turning point of the year. To celebrate the return of the life-force an orgiastic celebration ensued.

Tame and shallow remnants of these ancient and long forgotten ritual enactments have survived even into the 21st century. To this day mistletoe twigs are hung in doorways at Christmas time giving permission to kiss, even a stranger and receive the blessing of the humble twig - though nobody remembers why. In some of the rural, more traditional areas of France young children can occasionally be seen distributing Mistletoe blessings on New Years Day. Running through the village, shouting 'Au gui l'an neuf' (gui de chêne - Mistletoe) they dedicate the New Year to the Mistletoe and invoke its protective blessings.

Mistletoe was believed to ward off all evil, bad spirits and witchcraft, and was sometimes worn as a protective amulet. It was also believed to bestow fertility and abundance.

In Norse Mythology a darker, though related aspect of the Mistletoe symbolism is revealed. The story goes that Baldur, the divine solar hero child of Frigg and Odin was killed by a twig of Mistletoe and would not return until after doomsday, when he would bring a new era of light, a golden age. We are told that Baldur, having visions of his immanent death grew concerned. When his parents heard about this they too grew concerned and Frigg went out to obtain oaths from all the elements, the stones, tree, plants and even venomous beasts. All swore never to harm the beautiful young God - all but the Mistletoe, who Frigg had deemed too feeble to do any harm and so she never asked for its allegiance. Satisfied with all the promises she thought her divine son invincible and it became a favourite pastime among the gods to shoot arrows and throw stones at the young God, none of which could harm him. Indeed, aiming shots at Baldur became a sign of honouring him. Unfortunately for Baldur, though the jealous God Loki found out about the neutral status of the Mistletoe. He went and picked a branch and returned to the Gods assembly where everyone was having fun shooting at the invincible God - all, except Hodur, Baldurs blind brother. Slyly, Loki went up to Hodur and asked 'why don't you show honour to your brother by taking a shot at him?' 'Because, I can't see and nor do I have anything to throw', he replied. 'Here, I will help you', Loki offered, passing Hodur the Mistletoe twig and assisting him to direct his aim. In an instant Baldur lay dead. The Gods were aghast and horrified, shocked and angered and immediately swore to avenge the attack. Meanwhile another brother was sent off to the Underworld to plead with the Goddess of death to allow Baldur to return to the heavens. However, the plea was only granted under the condition that all the gods and all the beings of the earth, living or dead must weep and show their sorrow or else Baldur would have to remain in the Underworld until doomsday. After hearing this, all the gods and all the beings of the earth, living and dead wailed and wept to show their sorrow - all but one: Loki, disguised as an old hag. And so it came to pass that we must wait till doomsday passes for the young sun god to return (which can't be far off - the way things are going…).

This legend follows the classic pattern of the solar hero myth, promising redemption and renewal after a period of darkness - a perfectly appropriate myth for the celebration of the winter solstice, which marks the return of the Sun God.

Hardly surprising, the Mistletoe also found its way into Christian mythology as the wood from which Christ's cross was said to have been fashioned. It is due to this disgrace that the Mistletoe has been reduced to a parasitic existence.

In Greek mythology Mistletoe was also associated with the Underworld. Here, the sacred bough presented the key with which a living mortal could enter the Underworld and return to the world of the living unharmed, as is told in the story of Aeneas.

Aeneas, a young hero, enters the underworld by the power of the golden bough and the aid of the age-old Sybil as his guide. He enters this frightful place in search of his father to seek his guidance and advice. He finds him and receives his teachings concerning the cycles of life and death, which he had come for. Eventually he returns safely to the world of the living. But it is the Mistletoe that provides him with the key to his destiny and opens the gates to the transformational powers of the underworld from which he returns spiritually reborn.

Magical Powers:

Protection, key to life's mysteries, fertility, abundance, blessings, peace, harmony, balance of opposites, love, transformation. Astrologically this herb is governed by the sun and Jupiter.



Leaves and Stems


Autumn, before the berries form


Depending on the host plant these may vary. Viscotoxin, triterpenoid saponins, cholin, proteins, resin, mucilage, histamine, traces of an alcaloid


Anti-tumour, cardioactive, nervine, tonic


Stress, nervous conditions, heart problems, epilepsy

Internal Use:

Mistletoe not only has an interesting mythology, but also is interesting from a medicinal point of view. Though the druids probably somewhat overrated the herb, deeming it useful for any kind of ailment, later herbalists still valued it highly for a variety of different ailments. Most notably it is recommended as a remedy for epilepsy, especially childhood epilepsy. This treatment reflects a homeopathic approach, as large doses of the herb and in particular of the berries actually causes fits and convulsions. It was employed as a specific for this ailment and also used as a nervine to treat hysteria, delirium, convulsions, neuralgia as well as urinary disorders and heart complaints especially where these are related to a nervous condition. (stress) In former times amulets made from mistletoe wood were thought effective in warding off epileptic attacks.

Mistletoe is also known as a cardio-active agent that improves the pulse, regulates the heart rate and simultaneously dilates the blood vessels, thus lowering blood pressure. It reduces headaches and dizziness caused by high blood pressure. However, from the available literature it is not entirely clear in which form Mistletoe should be administered for this effect. Some sources maintain that the cardioactive principle is only effective if applied by injection while other sources recommend standard teas, tinctures and extracts. One source also states that the active principles would be destroyed by heat and thus should only be prepared by cold infusion. The differing opinions regarding the preparation methods are certainly confusing. Recently another interesting property of Mistletoe has become a matter of scientific interest. Since ancient times Mistletoe has been used to treat tumours.

Culpeper states:

'The Birdlime doth mollifie hard Knots, Tumors, and Impostumes, ripeneth and discusseth them; and draweth forth thick as well as thin Humors from the remote places of the Body, digesting and separating them'

This property has been subject to research and it has been found that Mistletoe preparations show cytotoxic properties in vitro and to some degree in vivo. It has also shown to stimulate the immune system response through an increased number of white blood cells. Both of these properties have made Mistletoe a candidate for Cancer and Aids remedy research. Indeed, a Mistletoe preparation is used in chemotherapy. Studies show both equal and better survival rates of patients treated with certain Mistletoe preparations. However, the interviewed patients reported a better quality of life, as Mistletoe does not produce the nausea and hair loss associated with other cytotoxic chemotherapy agents. Also, the immune response is improved. A negative side effect of subcutaneous treatment is the possibility of local infection at the site of injection. For detailed study results check out:

National Cancer Institute

Mistletoe is also reputed to regulate digestive functions, curing chronic constipation, probably through its stimulating effect on the gall bladder. It also increases metabolic activity generally and is thus recommended as a blood cleanser.

Older sources also recommend it in cases of sterility and menstrual difficulties. With regard to the aforementioned nervine properties this would make sense where these conditions are due to an underlying nervous condition (stress, tension, hysteria, fear).

External Use Externally Mistletoe use is no longer common, but according to old sources it can be prepared as a plaster (mix with wax to make an ointment) and applied to hardened swellings and tumors. It can be usefully employed in crèmes to soothe sensitive, sore skin. Such crèmes are disinfecting and soothing and reduce abnormal cell production, which could be useful in psoriasis lotions and anti-dandruff shampoos.


The berries are poisonous. Do not use internally. This is not an herb for home experimentation. Consult a doctor or herbal practitioner.

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The end of the year always provides a good opportunity for reflection. It is a good time to raise one's consciousness beyond one's personal condition, desires and needs and reflect on the global situation of which each one of us is a part, no matter how remotely we choose to live. This past year has not been one to cherish or celebrate, at least not in global or environmental terms. We have witnessed the fear driven clamp down on civil liberties - rushed in on the bandwagon of 'protection' and 'public security'. It is sad to see fear used as a marketing tool and sadder still to see it work so well.

We have witnessed climate changes that have leashed havoc around the globe - and still the powers to be are in denial, continuing to rape and pillage for what it is worth to them.

We have witnessed a great opportunity for change all but flop due to lack of political will and focus. It seems a good idea can spark the fire of enthusiasm spontaneously, but over time that fire is corrupted by self-interest and dampened by bureaucracy and all its ifs, and whens and buts and can'ts...The world summit sparked high hopes the first time around, being fuelled by good will and enthusiasm for change for a better, healthier, cleaner and fairer world. Ten years later political leaders seemed to have had too much time on their hands to ponder strategic moves for political bargaining for their country's economic interest. The initiative for change is back in the court of individuals and grass roots organizations that put their emphasis on action rather than talk. What has been learned from this lesson is that nothing changes unless we change. We, meaning, 'we, the people', not 'we, the government as the political arm of the corporations and its subjects.' So, if you still believe in change for a better world live your philosophy NOW, in your daily life, don't wait for legislation. The choices we make every day do affect the whole world, even though the connections might seem mysterious and obscure.

Meanwhile, there is another threat hanging over our heads, one that seems to dwarf all other concern. Dark forces are war-mongering and drawing all of us, want it or not, into their spiral of descent. War spells disaster, not just for all the countless human victims, now and of yet unborn generations, but for the earth as well. While war has never been humane or pretty the capabilities for pollution and contamination available with modern weapons of mass destructions are not like any we have ever seen before. What can possibly be gained from such a war? Where will it end? And what do we stand to loose, not just as individuals or nations, but as human beings?

At the turn of the year we are facing a dark moment in our history. Its not like we have not been there before - but apparently it seems as though we have learned nothing from our previous experiences. And as history has already shown innumerable times, those who do not learn from the past are destined to repeat its lessons. The victims of war are always innocent civilians, the children, the future generations and not least of all, the earth herself. When we nuke each other we also poison her and her pain will linger long after our individual lives have passed away.

What will lay ahead in the months to come? Will we remember the lessons of history in time to stop the madness? Or will we, blinded by fear go along with it to our demise?

My prayers at this time will be for peace, for love and harmony to prevail among all people, for protecting our planet the source of all life and all its creatures, and for a future that will shine with the light of wisdom - and not glow with the passion of hatred and war.

I hope you will join me in my prayers

Wishing you all a happy and peaceful 2003
Kat Morgenstern

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Book Review:

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Eating in the Dark

By Kathleen Hart
Pantheon Books, 2002, ISBN 0-375-42070-3; 337 Pages including notes and index

About the Author:

Kathleen Hart is a journalist who has been writing about health and the environment for more than fifteen years. She has covered agriculture and biotechnology for Food Chemical News and has reported on nuclear power and nonproliferation for McGraw-Hills Nucleonics Week. She previously served as editor of the Environmental Health Letter. Her articles have appeared in the Boston Globe and the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists among other publications. She lives in Washington, D.C.

Sorry, I don't mean to spoil your Christmas dinner, but this book will turn your stomach upside down. It tells the dark and ugly secrets of the biotech world that are seeking to control the food chain, no matter the long term risks for the consumers. Labelling of GMO foods in America is still a controversial issue among manufacturers though consumers are increasingly demanding to know whats in their food. Unwittingly most Americans have been eating GMO foods on a daily basis, hidden in processed foods. They are hard to avoid, the majority of all the staple crops produced in the US (corn, wheat, soy and potatoes) have been genetically modified. Being standard ingredients of practically any processed food item, from mayonnaise to chocolate, bread, canned tuna, breakfast cereal, chips, ice cream, or even veggie burgers they have infiltrated the food chain as hidden agents. Yet, their safety for human consumption, let alone their long term effect on the environment has hardly been tested. Already we are finding people reacting to modified foods (though to prove the case remains illusive), wildlife disappearing, wild spices interbreeding with the modified varieties to breed God knows what...? Soon we will have to content with superweeds and super bugs that become resistant to the built-in poisons of the modified species - where will we turn to next in an attempt to control the environment for our own profit? What kind of a world will our children inherit?

This book does not make pleasant reading, but it opens your eyes to the hidden dangers lurking in your fridge. As they say 'better the devil you know than the devil you don't' - this book raises awareness so that consumers like you and me can make educated choices and lobby on behalf of our health and the health of our planet for tighter controls (or better still, banning) of GMO foods.

Food is the staff of life, the core to our existence on this planet. If we allow it to become hijacked by financial interests we ourselves become a part of this chain and our freedom and right to an uncontrolled nature will be lost. We do have a choice, but we must claim it and stand up for our rights as consumers. This book will give you the knowledge on which to base your choices and protests.

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A Special One-Day Free Workshop

Harvester Involvement In Inventorying And Monitoring Of Nontimber Forest Products (aka Special Forest Products) in the southeastern region including east TX, AR, LA, MS, AL, GA, FL, SC, NC, VA, KY, TN, MD, DE.

Date: Thursday, February 27, 2003
Time: 8:30 am to 5:00 pm
Location: USDA Forest Service Region 8 Headquarters
1720 Peachtree Road NW, Atlanta, GA


This workshop is FREE and open to the public. ** However, pre-registration is requested. For more information and to pre-register, please contact Katie Lynch no later than February 20th, 2003 (, 503-320-1323).

Organized by the Institute for Culture and Ecology 503-320-1323 PO Box 6688 Portland OR 97228


Chandrika Mago, Times News Network
12 December 2002

NEW DELHI: Over two years after the Biodiversity Bill was first introduced, and a year after Parliament's standing committee cleared it, it has got the final stamp of approval from both Houses. However, MPs, environmentalists and even officials are not fully satisfied with it.

"Development and Peace Petition is Delivered to Parliament: 180,000 Canadians Ask the Federal Government to Stop the Patenting of Seeds", Canada News Wire, 21 November 2002.

Michael Byrnes, "Bio-Prospectors Seek Treasure in Australia Forests", Reuters, Sydney, 7 November 2002

"Group Moves to Protect Farmers' Right to Seeds", Kalyani, OneWorld South Asia, 15 October 2002.

The unity statement from the "People's Street Conference against the Annual General Meeting of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research", held in Manila on 30 October 2002, is available on the internet and open for signature.

Maria Ceres Doyo, "Fallout from the Jasmine debacle", Philippine Daily Inquirer, 21 November 2002. (with links to previous editions of her column discussing genetic resources and intellectual property rights)

The Australian Centre for Intellectual Property Rights in Agriculture organised a conference on "Intellectual Property & Biotechnology: Access, Ownership and Control" on 8 November 2002. Media reports are online.

Graham Dutfield, "Protecting Traditional Knowledge and Folklore: A review of progress in diplomacy and policy formulation", UNCTAD-ICTSD Capacity Building Project on IPRs and Development, Geneva, October 2002, 50 pp.

The World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) Standing Committee on the Law of Patents is preparing a treaty that would harmonise national patent laws. The documents for its 25-29 November 2002 negotiating session are online.

The papers for the fourth session of WIPO's intergovernmental committee on genetic resources and traditional knowledge, to be held at WIPO on 9-17 December 2002, are now being posted online.

The report of the first meeting of the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture acting as Interim Committee for the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, held in Rome on 9-11 October 2002, is online.

The report of the 9th session of the FAO Commission on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, held 14-18 October 2002 in Rome, is online.

The papers from the WIPO-UPOV symposium on "The Co-existence of Patents and Plant Breeders' Rights in the Promotion of Biotechnological Developments", held at WIPO in Geneva on 25 October 2002, are online.

WIPO/UPOV symposium

The Second Global Summit on Peace through Tourism

5-8 February 2003.
Geneva, Switzerland

The Summit is being organized by the International Institute for Peace through Tourism (IIPT) in partnership with the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC). The goals of the Second Summit will be to (i) continue building a "Culture of Peace through Tourism" in support of the UN Decade of Peace and Non-violence for the Children of the World; (ii), develop a coordinated strategy for poverty alleviation through tourism; and (iii) nurture partnering relationships focused on initiatives in support of the first two goals.

WTTC currently estimates the value of the global industry to be almost US$3 300 billion, and is responsible for employing 198 million people (one in every 13 jobs). Its forecast over the next ten years sees the worldwide industry growing by almost 4 percent per annum, and in the process creating millions of job opportunities. For more information, please contact:

International Institute for Peace through Tourism
Fox Hill 13 Cottage Club Road Stowe, Vermont, 05672 USA
Telephone: +1-802-253-2658
Fax: +1-802-253-2645
International Institute for Peace through Tourism (IIPT)
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