Plantain (Plantago major)

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“White Man’s Footprint” is another name for this plant, because it is so common. (It followed the path of the anglo-saxon pioneers around the globe.) This plant is almost everywhere. That is one reason I start with it and like it so much – it is abundant. It is also easy to identify and is very useful. It is mild enough to be a medicine and a food. I frequently eat it. I munch on it, when I am out in the yard. I pick it for salads. I seek it out, when my tummy is upset. Plantain is used for many purposes. The most commonly known is a poultice for insect stings. It is readily found and can be chewed up and smooshed onto the skin,where it will stay for a short while and soothe the sting. It is a fun plant for kids to learn and is very useful for pet owners outside with their dogs. Plantain is astringent, which means it draws excess fluid out of tissues (decreases inflammation) and “tightens” the cells up. That property is very useful for an inflammed gi tract and leaky gut syndrome. It can be eaten, made into a tea, or tinctured. The fresh is always the best, but it must be finely chopped, macerated, or pureed. The hulls of the seeds of plantain are commercially grown to make psyllium, aka Metamucil. They are insoluble fiber that can help with bowel regularity. This plant is very nutritious and is very edible. I encourage its use in salads and in your pet’s food. Cat’s only get less than 5% plant matter in their diet. Dog’s can get up to 30%. Plantain can be harvested in abundance in many locations. I like to throw it in the blender or food processor, then add it right into my dog’s diet. It can be mixed into homemade or the blender “soup” can be added to dry kibble to soak, in order to improve the nutrient and water level. Take it a step further and ferment the blended plantain “soup” with or without other veggies to radically improve your pet’s nutrition. See my blog on fermenting foods for dogs and cats for more information. Enjoy this plant and try to eat (and feed to your pet) wild foods every day! They may radically improve nutrition and offer nutrients that simply are not found in cultivated plants. Please see an identification guide for assistance in positively identifying this...

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Fermented Foods for Dogs and Cats

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There is a spectrum of nutrition for dogs and cats (and humans), moving from processed GMO foods, to home-made with fresh organic ingredients, and perhaps even a step further is fermenting foods. Think sauerkraut, kimchi, yogurt, kefir, kombucha, miso, cheese, fish and meats, and much more. Some of these choices are ideal for your pet. Why are fermented foods often nutritionally superior? Because they contain loads of probiotics (beneficial bacteria for gut health) and more available nutrients (cells have been broken down by enzymes and microorganisms). They are also alkalinizing to the body, which creates an inhospitable environment for cancer cells. In addition, they are an inexpensive, DIY way of turning good foods into super foods. Which choices are best for your pet? Dogs and cats are predominately carnivores, but benefit from some veggies. Many dogs do well with up to about 30% and cats up to about 10% veggies. Since vegetables are the simplest to ferment, we’ll start there. In fact, veggies are the best choice for fermenting for your pet for several reasons. First, it is the easiest with the least risk of problems. Second, you can benefit from the same preparations. Third, it is inexpensive. Fourth, it is the most biologically appropriate. Cats, and to some degree dogs, eat mostly fresh meat “in the wild”. However, their consumption of plant matter is mostly in the form of gut contents from prey. These contents, such as from the rumen of a deer or intestines of a mouse have already been partially broken down by bacteria… ie, fermented. To ferment vegetables, gather fresh vegetable from the store or your garden, such as cabbage, kale, broccoli, and carrots. You can even use your veggie scraps, such as broccoli stalks, kale stalks, watermelon rinds, and even some citrus and banana peels if they are organic. You may find many recipes for fermenting plants. Look on-line and in books. Sandor Katz and Sally Falloon are two of my favorite authors. The down and dirty method is to chop everything finely (especially for pets), add a bit of salt, and mix and compress together. Allow it to sit for 2 hours. If the veggies have not produced enough water to cover them, add water until all plant matter is submerged. Anything poking its head above the water will accumulate mold on it. In fact, it is possible that the water will develop a sheen of mold on it. If it does, don’t freak out. Let is stay there until you are ready to serve it or put it in the fridge. At that time, scrape off as much as you can. I let my ferment sit on the counter in a glass...

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Gifted Veterinarian

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Perrin Heartway is a gifted veterinarian and an amazing human being. Perrin has treated four of my dogs, and in each case, has helped them achieve a better quality of life, both physiologically and psychologically. At the age of ten, my beautiful Golden Retriever mix, Amy, developed a severe case of idiopathic periocardial effusion. Perrin treated Amy for over a year with acupuncture and chiropractic treatment. During that time, Amy’s physical demeanor and emotional spirit became brighter even as her disease progressed. When it was finally Amy’s time to leave us, Perrin came to our home and helped Amy pass on painlessly. She smiled when she saw him because she knew that Perrin would end her suffering. My only regret is that Perrin is not licensed to treat people! – Pam...

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