Super Food Mushroom Benefits for a Strong Immune Defense

Join Julie as she talks about mushroom benefits for a strong immune defense on Crunchy Christian Podcast.Join Julie as she talks about mushroom benefits for a strong immune defense on Crunchy Christian Podcast. We don’t often think about fungi when we think about natural health, but mushrooms offer some awesome helps.

Some Facts About Mushrooms

Did you know that the plant and fungi kingdoms are so intertwined that one can’t really live without the other? Plants need mushrooms to help them absorb nutrients from the soil and mushrooms need the sugars and dead cells that plants leave in the soil. In fact, plants release sugars into the soil to attract mushrooms and other fungi.

In that same vein, it is important to know that all fungi—mushrooms or not—feed off other food sources, most often dead or decaying matter, but also sugars produced by living things, too. This is true no matter where they are living, including inside of other organisms. That means that yeast or candida (which is a fungus) in your body feeds on food sources you make available. That’s why if you want to get rid of a yeast infection, you need to eliminate the food sources—sugar and mucus.

Just like plants, mushrooms play a major role in new drug development. Did you know that mushrooms are used in 40% of drugs available on the market? Plants are used in 25%. Interesting how dependent the pharmaceutical industry is on these natural sources of drugs. And, amazingly, one of the most remarkable mushroom benefits is that they can break down even the most toxic man-made chemicals. Imagine what that can do for the human body exposed to toxins!

Mushroom Benefits for a Strong Immune Defense


Let’s take a look at some specific actions that mushrooms have on the human body. First, they are adaptogens. That means that they can sense what is going on in the body and adapt to the situation. So, they help wherever is necessary. Sounds a bit weird, right? But, think about carrying a healthy drink into a party. When you arrive, everyone except one person is holding a healthy drink already. So, rather than pour drinks for everyone, you only need to pour out a glass of your healthy beverage for that one person. Mushroom benefits the body in much the same way.


A second of the mushroom benefits is they are all immunomodulators. This works a lot like adaptogens, but is specific to the immune system. Mushrooms contain chemicals that help your immune system fight illness when necessary. But, they also help keep it in check when it gets overstimulated, as we see in allergic responses and autoimmune diseases.

Find out two more mushroom benefits on the podcast. Julie discusses one of the best benefits yet.

The Mushrooms


If you only try one mushroom, this one should be it. It’s use in China goes back at least 2000 years. It’s often called the “queen of mushrooms” because it revitalizes the whole body and for a long time, its use was reserved for only the Chinese royalty. This well-researched mushroom benefits the entire body as it increases longevity and supports the immune system in fighting pathogens. It protects your skin and DNA from free radical damage, making you look and feel younger. It also improves circulation and balances hormones, which helps you de-stress and sleep better. New research shows that a high fat diet coupled with reishi mushrooms may help with weight control. There are many other reishi mushroom benefits as well, but you get the idea. This is a superfood worth adding to your diet.


You may have never heard of this mushroom, but it’s been used in Russia at least since the 17th century and probably longer. Chaga is one of nature’s richest sources of antioxidants, packing as much in one cup of strong chaga tea as you would find in 30 pounds of carrots. 30 pounds! Antioxidants are important for combatting cell damage that leads to cancer, aging, chronic illness and pain. One of the other chaga mushroom benefits is skin-protecting properties. This is due to the other nutrients it contains. In addition to the extremely high antioxidant levels, this mushroom has more zinc and melanin than any other single natural source. To enjoy the benefits of this mushroom, add this superfood as a daily tea.

Julie talks about one more mushroom on the podcast. These are not the only mushrooms with medicinal qualities, but I hope this sampling gives you an idea of just what superfoods mushrooms can be. They are definitely worth adding.


Be careful using medicinal mushrooms if you are on antibiotics, anticoagulants, or diabetic medications. Because these mushrooms can have similar effects on the body, you could end up with a “doubling up” response. Consult your health professional first.


Benefits of Super G’s

Check out the benefits of garlic, green tea, and guts.Benefits of the 3 Super G’s: Green Tea, Garlic, and Guts

Check out the benefits of garlic, green tea, and guts on this episode of Crunchy Christian Podcast. Julie breaks down why these are great additions to your daily diet and a few ways to enjoy them.

Benefits of Garlic

Garlic, or Allium sativum, is a member of the onion family. It has numerous benefits, is low calorie, and is easy to find and grow. Nutritionally, it contains manganese, vitamin B6, vitamin C, selenium, and small amounts of numerous other nutrients. Research shows that garlic shortens the time a person has cold symptoms by up to 70%. And, even though many think that you have to eat it raw to enjoy its benefits, the researchers used aged garlic or a garlic extract, neither of which are raw garlic.

Find out more about the benefits of garlic on the podcast!

Benefits of Green Tea

Did you know that all tea (except herbal tea) comes from the same plant? Camellia sinensis produces all green, black, and white tea.  The reason why it takes different is because of where and how it is grown and processed. So, all tea offers the same benefits to some extent, but the benefits of green tea are a bit greater because it is the least processed. It retains the most nutrients and compounds from the plant. Black teas are oxidized after bruising, but green teas are mostly unoxidized and sometimes undergo a different method of bruising as well. So, artisanal green teas are often hand-picked, whole leaves that are withered only, leaving the tea leaves as close to the source as possible. This helps them retain their nutritional and medicinal value.

The benefits of green tea include a high amount of polyphenol antioxidants, which can reduce inflammation, slow aging, and protect against cancer. It also contains caffeine in combination with L-theanine, an amino acid that crosses the blood-brain barrier. This combination can improve brain function by increasing alertness while at the same time reducing anxiety. Drinking green tea may also have positive effects on bad breath and on Type 2 Diabetes.

Benefits of Eating Liver (and other animal products)

Now we get into the benefits of eating a super food you may never have heard of—animal organs. Because most organs are not commercially available, we’re going to focus on liver and heart. First, make sure all organ meats come from grass fed animals as God intended. Animals that eat the food God intended for them to eat are healthier and are healthier for us, too. So, why are organ meats superfoods?

Let’s consider liver as a representative. Liver is a powerhouse of nutrition! Just 3.5 ounces has all these benefits: vitamin B12 (3000+% of RDI), vitamin A (1000% RDI), riboflavin (200+% RDI), folate (65% RDI), iron (80% RDI), copper (1600+% RDI), and all the choline you need. The only vegetables that compare are the super greens we discussed in the last episode. And, a serving size is quite small, less than half a cup! It is also high in body building protein and low in calories. You may be concerned about cholesterol and toxins as liver is a high cholesterol food, just like nutrient dense pastured eggs.

Learn why you don’t need to be concerned as you listen to the podcast!

And how about bone broth…

Bone broth doesn’t offer the same benefits as liver, but it is an excellent source of minerals and collagen. It’s inexpensive and easy to make your own; you don’t need to buy expensive powders or aseptic boxes or bags of broth. If you have a slow cooker or InstaPot, you have all you need to make your own.

Remember, God provided us with super foods. We don’t need to buy expensive man-made powders, bars, or drinks to get optimal nutrition. In fact, some of the best super foods are also the cheapest. So, enjoy the benefits of garlic, green tea, and liver and save your chicken bones for broth. And be sure to check out the super greens episode so you know what to grow in your garden. Happy eating!

Benefits of Super Greens

Benefits of super greensWant to know more about the benefits of super greens? Join Julie Polanco on this episode of Crunchy Christian Podcast as she discusses green leafy vegetables, why you need them, and some sneaky ways to get more in your diet.

What are Super Greens?

All green vegetables are not super. That’s not to say that they aren’t nutritious, but they may not be super nutritious. Lettuce, for example, is green and has trace minerals, but it is not a super green. Super greens tend to have a lower water content and contain more vitamins and minerals by weight than other greens. Super greens include dandelion greens (which we covered in a previous episode), mustard greens, arugula, spinach, kale, collards, and chard. We will focus on the benefits of super greens spinach and kale as those are most eaten among all the super greens. They are also the most widely available, unless you forage.

Benefits of Super Greens

Nutritional content

Spinach is an excellent source of vitamins A, K, and Folate. It also contains a fair amount of Vitamin C. It is also a good source of Manganese, Potassium, Iron, Magnesium, and Omega 3 fatty acids. And while spinach is an excellent source, kale is an even better source of vitamins A, K, and Folate. It has much more vitamin C, even more than an orange. And, it also has a fair amount of B vitamins, copper, and calcium in addition to containing the same minerals that spinach does. In addition to a good amount of omega-3’s, it also contains a high amount of omega 6 fatty acids. Other greens have profiles similar to that of spinach. How do these nutritional benefits of super greens help your body? Let’s find out!

Greens Help Slow the Aging Process
There are so many amazing compounds found in wild greens that help slow aging, it’s hard to know where to begin. The high amounts of folate and vitamin K help the body thrive and replace cells. Superb antioxidant quantities, similar to those found in berries, are also present, helping prevent and heal damage to the cells. Fatty acids, in particular omega-3’s, round off the anti-aging benefits you can get by simply adding more greens into your diet.

Greens Are Great for Your Heart
Greens are such a powerful food group, they help prevent heart disease in myriad ways. The high fiber content helps keep the cholesterol levels in your body down, and greens naturally help regulate blood pressure, keeping the heart healthy. Greens also help regulate harmful hormones in the body that are known to cause thickening of the blood. By lowering this, greens help prevent blood clots.

To learn about additional benefits of super greens, listen in on the podcast!

Sneaky Ways to Get More Benefits of Super Greens in Your Diet


Spinach Green Smoothie

This smoothie is more of a classic recipe for a green smoothie, though there is a lot of room for customizing it according to your preferences. Spinach is used as the main greens for the smoothie, which are always a good superfood. However, if you want greens specifically in-season during the fall, kale is another great option. Add to that some ground flax seed, an apple or other sweet fruits that are in season during this time of year, and a frozen the banana. If you use a frozen banana, it can usually replace the ice. You may also need to add a little water.

Super Spinach Green Juice

Simply take about a cup of spinach and juice it with a sweet potato and a decent sized apple. This is another great morning drink that will not only energize you, but help you protect your blood sugar levels as well.

Green Salad

Take kale or spinach as your base, both known for being iron packed superfoods. Then you can add a fruit-based dressing made of blueberries or a green goddess dressing packed with even more green vegetables and oils. Avocado slices can add an even bigger kick to this type of salad, keeping with the green color theme and giving you a superfood that holds multiple benefits.

Discover a few more ideas on the podcast!

What Are Superfoods and Why You Should Eat Them

Join Julie Polanco on this episode of Crunchy Christian Podcast as she discusses what are superfoods and why you should eat them.Join Julie Polanco on this episode of Crunchy Christian Podcast as she discusses what are superfoods and why you should eat them.

What are superfoods?
Most of the time when we hear about superfoods, we automatically think of expensive powders and shakes. But, God gave us fruits, vegetables, and animal sources that are naturally packed with nutrition. We don’t need to wonder about what are superfoods, as if they were somehow special. Every region has some sort of super nutritious food that, if eaten regularly, offers us optimal health. Generally, superfoods are not grains, although there are exceptions such as chia seeds. And, they are not necessarily expensive, either. Some of the most nutritious food happens to be the cheapest! Let’s explore what are superfoods you might find at this time of year.

Sources of superfoods
On the podcast, Julie discusses what are superfoods that grown seasonally in the northern regions, with a few exceptions. She mentions some of the nutritional content and preparation methods, too. These include Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, carrots, apples, blueberries, butternut squash, and kale. Other superfoods sources include avocado, lemons, and matcha green tea.

What are superfoods benefits?
The major benefits of superfoods are the fact that they are loaded with more than one vitamin or mineral source. For example, a superfood would have benefits of anti-inflammatory components as well as being full of various vitamins. This means, if you have a busy schedule, or you need as much nutrient benefit from a food with as little calories, then superfoods are ideal. An example of this would be if you were eating five different fruits and vegetables as well as taking supplements to get everything you need in a day. A superfood, or a few superfoods, could replace all of these foods and supplements and give you a more concise diet plan with fewer calories.

Signs That You Need More Superfoods
How do you know if you need to get more superfoods in your diet? Listen to your body. Are you experiencing any of these symptoms? Try superfoods before turning to medication and see if your symptoms improve. If not, then you may need to seek medical attention. But, think of superfoods as a first line of defense. Check out what are superfoods that specifically help with those symptoms.
Bloating is one of the first signs that something may not be right with your body. It is also a sign that you should turn to superfoods as a first resort to help reduce the bloat and the pain that it may be causing. There could be any number of reasons for this issue, but regardless of the core reason you can help it with the use of superfoods like yogurt, sauerkraut, and other fermented options. The fermentation of the foods acts as a probiotic that can break up toxins and other issues in the gut and help reduce the bloat.
A loss of energy is nothing new to most people. However, if that fatigue is chronic and ongoing you may be dealing with a sign that you need superfoods to boost your body and your system. Some of the superfoods that help with fatigue that is not caused by exercise or some other obvious source are pumpkin, pumpkin seeds, watermelon, and bananas. All of these deliver key ingredients that the body can use to transfer into energy making substances in the body and help with colon, intestine, and gut health.
Ongoing Upset Stomach
When you have an upset stomach, it could be because of something you ate or drank. It could also be the start of becoming sick or some other obvious reason. The problem comes in when your body starts to give you signs that the ongoing upset stomach is a real issue that is not going away. One of the first things you can do is try a gut health superfood. Ginger is at the top of the list because it not only helps purge toxins from your system, it can also help repair issues in your stomach such as ulcers and it can help you with digestion. You can also try Greek yogurt or regular yogurt for the probiotics to help ease your stomach and give it good enzymes as well.
Remember that this is not medical advice. If your symptoms continue even after you make dietary changes, seek advice from a licensed healthcare provider.

Purslane Uses and Benefits

Purslane uses and benefitsJoin Julie Polanco on this episode of Crunchy Christian Podcast as she discusses purslane uses and benefits. Find out how this common weed has been used for centuries as a nutritious vegetable and helpful plant.

Some Facts About Purslane


Purslane, or Portulaca oleraceae, is an incredibly old plant. Seeds found in the modern United States date as far back as 1000 BC. But, some argue that it originated in north Africa far earlier than that because of its succulent stems and leaves. After all, that’s where many other succulents originate from. It was certainly known to the ancients, for records show that the Greeks, Persians, Indians, and Romans ate it as a vegetable.

And, indeed the most common of purslane uses and benefits is adding it to salads. Or, gently blanching it and serving it up with some oil and vinegar. Some old recipes even give instructions for pickled purslane. Indeed, people grew it in cultivated gardens as early as the 1500’s in Great Britain as a garden green. It is also used in the French Soup, bonne femme (Good Woman), along with sorrel. And, due to its hardy nature, it is found all over the world, from Europe to Japan.

More than a salad green

But, historic purslane uses and benefits are not limited to salads. Ancient people used it for urinary complaints, dry coughs and shortness of breath, and for inflammation and sores. Dioscorides (40–90 AD) recommended the leaves for headache, heartburn, and kidney and bladder ailments; he noted the juice soothes the eyes. A couple of centuries later, Galen (129–216 AD) considered it nearly a heal-all plant. In the 16th century, famous German physician Leonard Fuchs also wrote of its uses for inflamed eyes and bladder and kidney ailments, but he added toothaches, and sunstroke as well. Hear about more uses on the podcast as well as some commentary about purslane from historical figures.

What does it look like?

This succulent low-growing plant has reddish stems and somewhat small, paddle-shaped, smooth succulent leaves. The leaves have rounded tips with no spines or toothing. The reddish stems branch everywhere. The small yellow flowers have four to six petals, but they only open on sunny mornings. When it goes to seed, it forms a little capsule that opens like a lid to reveal tiny black seeds that can still germinate up to 40 years later!

Purslane Uses and Benefits

Today, it is mostly used as a vegetable and as animal feed. It is high in vitamins C and E, iron magnesium, manganese, and potassium and so it naturally supports the immune system, heart, and circulation. It’s historical uses certainly inspire a desire to at least try this plant in salads and soups as many people around the world still do. Since it grows so freely, it’s pretty easy to gather some purslane, dandelion, and other weeds to make delicious raw meals. God provides exactly what we need!


Purslane has some poisonous look alikes, so be sure you have the real purslane if you choose to harvest it from your backyard. The real plant has watery sap, not milky. The real plant is generally safe for human consumption. Be aware, though, that some cattle grazing on large amounts of purslane have suffered oxalate and nitrate toxicity. The toxicity levels depend on the growing conditions of the purslane.

Don’t forget to subscribe! Check out the new gardening e-book collection in the Julie Naturally shop.

Chicory Uses and Benefits

Join Julie Polanco on this episode of Crunchy Christian Podcast as she discusses chicory’s purse uses and benefits.Join Julie Polanco on this episode of Crunchy Christian Podcast as she discusses chicory’s purse uses and benefits. Find out how this common weed has been used for centuries to help with many health issues.

Some Facts About Chicory


Common chicory or Cichorium intybus in Latin, is well-known in the United States as the key ingredient in that New Orleans favorite, chicory coffee from Café Du Monde. However, it is a very old plant, with records of its cultivation going as far back as ancient Egypt. The ancient Egyptians used it as a medicinal plant. They used it as a liver tonic, sedative, and appetite stimulant.  In addition, the writings of Virgil and Pliny mention it as a tasty vegetable and salad green. The ancient doctor, Galen, wrote that it was a “friend of the liver,” thus supporting its use as such by the Egyptians.

And, of course, if it’s good for humans to eat, it’s also good for animal fodder. As it grows well almost everywhere, one of chicory’s uses and benefits was as a cheap and easy way to feed grazing animals. It came to the United States with the colonists as a medicinal herb, just as many other weeds have. And, while many colonists grew it as such, some, like Thomas Jefferson, grew it mostly for his animals.

It is eaten as a traditional Passover bitter herb and a spring tonic in many cultures.

So, if chicory’s uses and benefits through history place it as a tasty medicinal herb also useful for animals, how did it come to be used in coffee? Listen to the podcast and find out!

What does it look like?

Chicory resembles dandelion in its deep taproot and rosette of toothed leaves. However, unlike dandelion, it puts up a stiff, hairy flower stalk with sparse little leaves. Stalks may grow 2 to 5 feet tall and branch several times. The blue flowers have a slight resemblance to daisies in their structure. They have the unique tendency to open early in the morning and close about five hours later. The herbalist Mrs. C.F. Leyel has observed that “the lovely blue color of the petals is changed into a brilliant red by the acid of ants, if placed on an ant-hill.”

Chicory has many cultivated species, such as radicchio and Belgian endive, specifically grown for their leafy tops.

Chicory Uses and Benefits

Chicory is a good source of folic acid, potassium, vitamin C, vitamin A, and pre-biotic inulin.

Modern research shows that most of the medicinal properties of the plant lie in the roots. More than 100 different active compounds have been identified in this plant! Chicory root has shown activity against strains of Strep, E. coli, Staph, Candida, Salmonella, and others. Animals who graze on it show a lower incidence of worm infestations. Research confirms its traditional use against malarial fevers in Afghanistan. It also confirms its long tradition of use as a liver tonic in India and other parts of the world. Experiments with rats confirmed other chicory uses and benefits in controlling diabetes, as an anti-inflammatory and anti-ulcerative, antioxidant, reducing tumors, and more!


Be careful if you have allergies! Generally safe, even for children. Do not consume in large amounts, though, as some people have experienced adverse effects.

Don’t forget to subscribe! Check out the new gardening e-book collection in the Julie Naturally shop.

Shepherds Purse Uses and Benefits

Join Julie Polanco on this episode of Crunchy Christian Podcast as she discusses shepherd’s purse uses and benefits.Join Julie Polanco on this episode of Crunchy Christian Podcast as she discusses shepherd’s purse uses and benefits. Find out how this common weed has been used for centuries to help with many health issues.

Some Facts About Shepherd’s Purse



Capsella bursa-pastoris, as shepherd’s purse is known in Latin, is native to Europe, but is also found in North America and India. It is a very old plant. Archeologists found shepherd’s purse seeds in the Catal Huyuk site in Turkey (circa 5950 B.C.) during excavation. And, we know the Greeks and Romans used it in their medicines as it was found in the stomach of the Tollund man, dated to that time period. The Tollund man was a bog body recovered from a Danish bog in 1950. Old herbals from the Middle Ages also mention it.

When the Puritans came to America, they obviously knew of shepherd’s purse uses and benefits because they brought it with them to cultivate. They used it as a peppery spice by grinding up the seeds. They also fed it to the chickens to improve their eggs. They didn’t like the dairy cows to eat it, however, because it made the milk taste bad. Shepherd’s purse was also eaten as a spring green, adding a mustard-like peppery taste to salads, much like arugula.

And, of course, Native Americans soon learned of shepherd’s purse uses and benefits. They would roast and grind the seeds to make a bread called pinole. Even up to modern times, natives from Mexico and further south make pinole with maize and mix it with cacao powder to make a “super food.” You can buy it at some ethnic grocery stores, too. Historically, North American natives also used shepherd’s purse for diarrhea, dysentery, stomach cramps, and worms. But, its most popular use was for hemorrhaging, especially in women. It was especially used to help reduce bleeding after giving birth.

Because of its astringent, anti-inflammatory effects, it was also used for nose bleeds, blood in the urine (kidney and bladder stones), hemorrhoids, wounds, and rheumatism. Listen to the podcast to hear some stories about how it was used.

What does it look like?

This is another very common, weedy plant that nearly everyone has seen, but may not even have known it. Like many other weedy plants, the deeply lobed leaves form a rosette close to the ground. Then, the central stalk bears smaller leaves with the characteristic seed pods. The seed pods are small, flat, triangular, and somewhat heart-shaped, like a little purse. The flowers are small and white. Smelling the plant and looking for the distinct seed pods helps greatly with accurate identification.

Shepherd’s Purse Uses and Benefits

Today, the leaves and stems of shepherd’s purse are used as an approved herb in Germany under the Commission E Monographs for use in nosebleeds, superficial skin wounds and bruising, heavy menstrual bleeding, and abnormal uterine bleeding. It is also used in Indian Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine in much the same way as in Germany. Researchers are investigating whether one of shepherd’s purse uses and benefits might be as a biomonitor for pollution and heavy metal contamination.

Nutritionally, it contains flavonoids, potassium, citric acid, and vitamins A and K. This is not surprising, given its traditional uses for bleeding issues.


This herb has a long history of use with adult women and is generally considered safe.  Use caution if you have a history of kidney stones and do not use during pregnancy.

Don’t forget to subscribe! Check out the new gardening e-book collection in the Julie Naturally shop.

Plantain Uses and Benefits

Discover how the plantain weed can be used for health benefits.Join Julie Polanco on this episode of Crunchy Christian Podcast as she discusses plantain uses and benefits. Find out how this common weed has been used for centuries to help with many health issues.

Some Facts About Plantain


Plantago major (and its related species, Plantago lanceolata), as plantain is known in Latin, now grows in more than 50 countries worldwide. While first mentioned in English texts around 1265, it grew in England far earlier. Danish researchers found plantain pollen in the stomachs of mummified “bog people” dating from 200-400 A.D. Indeed, the Anglo-Saxons of 500 A.D. listed plantain as one of their sacred herbs. And, many old monasteries grew it for medicine and food as early Christians considered plantain a symbol for the well-trodden path of the many who follow Christ.

In other parts of the world, its use dates back even further. It is said that Alexander the Great knew of plantain uses and benefits and used plantain to cure his headaches. Pliny, the Roman, used it to save someone bitten by a mad dog. And, in ancient India, mongoose who fought with cobras and sustained a bite ate plantain leaves to neutralize the venom.

It also appears in many medieval nativity paintings, in Chaucer, and in several Shakespearean plays, most notably Romeo and Juliet. Desiderius Erasmus, a classic scholar of the 15th century, stated that plantain was effective against poisonous spider bites. Even King Henry VIII got in on the action, including it in his own collection of herbal recipes.

In the United States

Plantain came to the United States by way of the Puritans who brought it with them from England. They used it for deep cuts and sore feet. As people spread westward, so did plantain, and its hardiness soon made it a weed. In fact, the Native Americans called it “white man’s footsteps” because it seemed to grow wherever the white man went. They quickly learned of plantain uses and benefits, using it for wounds, bruises, boils, toothaches, diarrhea, and swelling. They also learned that plantain cured the bite of a rattlesnake.

What does it look like?

This plant is so common, nearly everyone has seen it but may not even have known it. Much like dandelion, the leaves form a rosette around a central stalk. The stalk arises about 6-8 inches from the rosette, with tiny, somewhat hairy, greenish purple flowers forming a cylinder at the top of the stalk. The leaves are oval shaped with parallel ribs, not webbed, and unevenly toothed on the edges. The part that is used is the leaf.

Plantain Uses and Benefits

Today, plantain seeds are often used for bird seed. But, historical uses continue to this day. Because of its long use for wounds, poisonous bites and stings, swelling, boils and indeed, many skin related issues, today’s herbal skin salves often include plantain. Listen to the podcast to hear how Julie used it to help her son when he suffered an insect bite.


Modern research supports plantain’s historic use for reducing inflammation, promoting wound healing, and supporting digestive health. Chemical constituents of plantain include flavonoids, terpenoids, glycosides, and tannins.



This herb has a long history of use with children and pregnant women among Native Americans. It can be eaten as a vegetable in salads, made into a tea, or used in a salve.

Don’t forget to subscribe! Check out the new gardening e-book collection in the Julie Naturally shop.

Sassafras Uses and Benefits

Join Julie Polanco on this episode of Crunchy Christian Podcast as she discusses sassafras uses and benefits.Join Julie Polanco on this episode of Crunchy Christian Podcast as she discusses sassafras uses and benefits. Find out how this common, aggressive weedy tree has been used for centuries to help with many health issues.

Some Facts About Sassafras


Sassafras albidum is a distinctly North American weed tree and North America’s only spice. Native Americans used it for centuries before explorers and colonists arrived. The Cherokee people used sassafras tea to purify blood and for a large variety of ailments, including skin diseases, rheumatism, and malaria-type fevers, and heart trouble. The Cherokee would also make a poultice to cleanse wounds and sores, while they’d steep the root bark to treat diarrhea or for ‘over-fatness.’ Other tribes used sassafras in similar ways and also used it as a thickener in stews.

When the Europeans arrived, Native Americans in Virginia pointed out ‘wynauk‘ (literally sweet wood) to British settlers. And in 1603, a newly formed British lumber company sent two ships to America for the sole purpose of exporting sassafras trees. Thus, sassafras was one of the first, if not the first, forest products to be exported from what is now the mid-Atlantic states, starting in the early 1600’s. From then on, the demand for sassafras uses and benefits grew by leaps and bounds. Find out more about it on the podcast!

Eventually, the craze faded. Today, it is still used as a thickener in Creole dishes. In communities in the Appalachian Mountains, folks persist in drinking their traditional sassafras tea just as their ancestors did. And, artisan root beer still contains sassafras, but with the safrole removed. It is removed because the United States Food & Drug Administration banned it in 1976 after a few studies found it to be a weak carcinogen in experiments with rats.

What does it look like?

This tree is unusual because it has four different leaves on the same tree. They are commonly referred to as mitten left and right, football, and three-fingers. In early spring, little clusters of yellowish flowers appear and of course, produce blue-black berries in midsummer. Do not eat the fruit, even though animals and birds eat it!

White sassafras only grows to about 6 feet and is found along roadways and in city yards. But, red sassafras, found in mountainous areas, grows up to 100 feet in some areas. One way to tell the difference is by whether the bark changes color when damaged or not. Both have historically been used, but the red variety is most prized for lumber.

Sassafras Uses and Benefits

Historically, all parts of this tree except the berries have been used. The dried root bark was mixed with milk and sugar to make an English drink called saloop. And, it is still used as a thickener in Creole dishes. If you are lucky enough to find an artisan root beer company, you may find sassafras as an ingredient on their label. You can eat the young leaves in salads and add a nice slightly sweet touch to your meal.

Medicinal Uses and Constituents

The main active chemical constituents are: methyleugenol, safrole, and camphor. The highest concentrations of these chemicals are found in the bark.  The methyleugenol provides the sweet fragrance of sassafras and repels insects, which is why it was effective against chicken lice. The safrole and camphor account for the medicinal properties and traditional uses of sassafras.  The principle sassafras uses and benefits include: blood purifier, pain reliever, anti-microbial, and anti-inflammatory. Learn about more Sassafras uses and benefits on the podcast!


Isolated safrole is banned by the U.S. F.D.A. The highest concentrations are in the essential oil, which is what the FDA cited studies used. Safrole does have carcinogenic properties, but the amount contained in sassafras is almost the same as in nutmeg and nutmeg was not banned. Furthermore, Peterson’s Guide notes that “there is more carcinogenic substances in a can of beer than a can of traditional root beer with sassafras as the main ingredient.”

Traditionally, sassafras essential oil was not used, but rather the whole plant parts. However, long term use is not advised. Do not use the essential oil. Even the Native Americans advised against drinking the tea for more than a week at a time. Also, do not use if you are pregnant and do not give it to children. If you happen to have a sassafras tree growing in your yard, exercise caution and good judgement.

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Red Clover Uses and Benefits

Join Julie Polanco on this episode of Crunchy Christian Podcast as she discusses red clover uses and benefits. Join Julie Polanco on this episode of Crunchy Christian Podcast as she discusses red clover uses and benefits. Find out how this common plant has been used for centuries to help with many health issues.

Some Facts About Red Clover


Red clover, whose scientific name is Trifolium praetense, was first grown in Europe and has been used for at least 400 years. Ancients called it Triphyllon, meaning “three leaves”.   This term also relates to the common name, Clover, which stems from “clava”, meaning “three-leaved”.  While pagans have associated the three leaves with their goddess mythology, Christians have associated the three-lobed leaves with the Trinity. They associate the less common four-leafed clover with the four points of the cross. The Irish, as commonly portrayed, associate the rare four-leaf clover with luck. An old Irish rhyme dating back to the Middle Ages says a four-leafed clover has “one leaf for fame, one leaf for wealth, one for a faithful lover, one leaf for glorious health.”

As Europeans spread throughout the world to trade and conquer, red clover traveled with them. As new peoples in North Africa, central Asia, and North America encountered the pretty little herb, they quickly learned about red clover uses and benefits. And so, red clover was adopted by Russian herbalists, practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine, and indigenous North American healers for its ability to support healthy skin.

Additional Modern Background

Today, these pretty, little red blossoms dot the landscape everywhere from backyards and vacant lots to prairies and fields. Julie has many fond memories of red clover and shares about them in her podcast. In addition, farmers recognize red clover’s uses and benefits and plant it as fodder for their animals and to fix nitrogen in the soil. That means that it helps enrich the soil for other crops. When farming or gardening, using clover as a cover crop in fallow fields can in effect, provide natural fertilizer for the crops grown the following year. Like soy, it contains isoflavones, a phytoestrogen. And, like other legumes, can make animals who graze on it too much sterile.

Red Clover Uses and Benefits

Eating young red clover sprouts in salads can give you a boost of Vitamins A, B-Complex, C, and antioxidants. Red Clover also contains the minerals Iron, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Calcium, Copper, Selenium, Molybdenum and Tin.

In addition to red clover uses and benefits to the skin as noted by the Native Americans, it also was one of the ingredients of the famous Hoxsey anti-cancer formula of the 1920’s and 30’s. Harry Hoxsey, ND who started the first cancer clinic in Mexico, used Red Clover in his treatments.   He wasn’t the only one, though. Thompsonian herbalists also use Red Clover in their anti-cancer formulas.    The fact that Red clover thins the blood and improves circulation are reasons why it is such a great cancer fighter.

In addition to helping the body with skin conditions and issues and cancer, other Red clover uses and benefits include the lungs.  It can be used to treat lung congestion, bronchitis and whooping cough, weak chest and wheezing.    This herb also has antibiotic qualities and can also be used as a gargle for throat soreness, swelling and infections.


May be contraindicated for estrogen dominant cancers, hormone replacement therapy, and birth control because it contains phytoestrogens. Because of its activity in cleansing and purifying the blood, it may interfere with the drug Tamoxifen and anti-coagulants.  Generally safe otherwise.

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