Tuesday 6 December 2016

Alder - Adoopimish/Mkadewiigwaasehns

One of the coolest things about alder, other than medicine and pranking your mothers is how great of an example this tree is at showing just how effectively trees and plants communicate.

We are just starting to learn about the plant world, western knowledge it is really at an infant level of understanding the natural world.

Alder trees have both male and female parts on the same tree, so its almost always in-between genders. The remarkable thing that alder does though, is the entire community communicates until they have reached a perfectly even number of male and female parts. Some trees have more energy than others, some trees had the pleasure of giant flubbery moose lips coming by raking all the twigs off (essentially pruning) and one year it has less energy, but in future years it has more energy. In the world of alder it takes less energy to be a female than a male, so when you have more energy you have to have more male parts, and vice versa, if you have less energy you have more female parts. All of this communication, we have found out, is done pheremonally. A ton of cool studies were done in an enclosed space over a long period of time on only a few trees, they picked and prodded some trees until they had less energy and saw that it had more female parts. They got to witness the other trees that had more sunlight and more energy step up their game and cover for their buddies and make more man parts. It was really remarkable! All the trees and plants are talking to one another, making sure they are doing the best job they can. I love it!

Smelt fishing and tapping maple trees for maple syrup is right around the corner, a long cold corner. So is the hot weather
You remember sarsaparilla, the original 'root beer' Do you remember how it was an adaptogenic herb that has been made to help your body adapt to the stresses of cold. How it helped your body to be able to handle the bitter cold days, so you can continue to work?
Well, spring is next and guess what! There is a plant to use around this time to get your body ready for the heat of the spring/summer.
Meet alder, Mkadewiigwaasehns.

Here's how to do it:
Peel the bark, brew a tea. It should be a nice amber orange color. Let it sit on your table for 3 days, on the third day it should turn black like coffee, drink it.
This will help your body be ready for the summer. Live with the seasons!
Also the 'tags' or catkins is the trees way of spreading pollen. Birches and alders are one of the earliest sources of pollen in the air and as a result, the earliest causes of allergies. Here is your remedy:
Not too long ago we used to eat tons of these catkins. They have a unique flavor and are very rich in protein and fiber. Little did we know that this was a way of preventing the development of an allergy! Also a treatment.
The twigs make great chewing sticks. This is one thing that I like about chewing sticks. There is always an endless supply of flavors of chewing sticks out there! Remember: Any fibrous twig can be used for a chewing stick! (so many possibilities) Properly using a chewing stick has had folks in less than a week wake up with no bad breath in the morning! Challenge yourself! Try this for a week, and see what happens to you, I have yet to have one person who uses the chewing stick to have bad breath at the end of the week. For more information on this read my blog on oral hygiene.
Its fun to take these catkins; chew on them, let the pollen mix with your saliva and when you spit on the snow its bright bright reddish orange (good practical joke (to play on your mother))
Also, alder bark makes the most brilliant brown and yellow dyes. Ever. Most like it more than sumac.
So, take the circadian rhythm to the next level and start to live with the seasons: when spring is near, brew the bark and eat the pollen-filled catkins.

Alder bark among other plants helps your body use fat for energy rather than sugar, it increases lipid metabolization. So many plants do this! It makes me really believe that our bodies are meant to use fat for energy, and not sugar. Alder bark also increases insulin sensitivity all this makes for alder bark to have some pretty extreme anti-adipogenic qualities. Its a must in diabetes medicines. So when you are drinking this tea you are more effectivly controling your blood sugar, not allowing your body to store fat, and teaching your body how to use fat for energy.
This plant is not unlike any other plant on the planet. It has been created to show you what it is good for. One name we have for this plant is “Mkadewiigwaasehns” Which means little black birch. Now I would always ask why is there emphasis put on 'little' cant it just be a normal black birch? Alder really is truly the tree out of all the birchs that deserve the name 'little black birch'. Why? Because it never gets big! Simple as that. This tree doesn't get fat like everyone else out there, so we harness this trees abilities, to benefit ourselves. Just like this tree is able to control the size of its waist if we are using this tree for medicine we will be able to control our waist! Makes sense?
Here is perhaps another issue I might be able to clear up. The names of different birches in Anishnaabemowin. I am not fluent, I am not perfect, this is just what I gather from our expert knowledge holders:
Black birch, Betula lenta is Mkadewiigwaas. Pin cherry is Wiigwaasminaatik, Paper Birchs is Wiigwaaswaatik, Yellow Birch is Wiinsik, Ironwood is Maananoohns.
I harvested alder bark to harness its abilities to heal skin issues for my withdrawal symptom management kit. Top 3 complaints folks have in treatment centers are nausea, itching and headaches. Alder was there to take care of the itching. It is one of the most extensively used bark to bathe with. A strong brew of alder tea is simply poured into a bathtub and you soak, or the strong brew is used for a sponge bath. I chose this for the withdrawal symptom management kit to get rid of the itching clients have to deal with.

So there you have it Alder bark is a significant help to the obesity/diabetes epidemic, just about any skin issue, adapt your body to the coming hot weather, and it makes great chewing sticks! It really is a necessity in every household seeking our creation for healing.


  1. Such a enthralling post! <3


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