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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Got Scurvy?

Okay, I know... this isn't Pirate Underground.  However scurvy can be a real hazard to anyone that becomes Vitamin C deficient.  Vitamin C also helps fend off colds, influenza, dementia, depression, anxiety, bladder infections, obesity, and some say cancer.  Speaking of cancer, vitamin C also is supposed to help deal with chemo sickness.  So, just for a moment pretend that you can no longer run to the store and buy an orange, lemon, or lime.  Now what?  Scurvy.  Did you know that scurvy was actually rather common until 1932?  




When Jacques Cartier was exploring the St. Lawrence River in the northeast his men were almost at the point of death when the local tribesmen decided to help them.  How they did that was to introduce them to the Arbor Vitae tree... now known as the Eastern White Cedar.  Oddly enough, "arbor vitae" translates directly from the Latin as "Life Tree" and that is very fitting!  It saved their lives.

They took the freshest leaves (Cedar trees have leaves, not needles.) and pulverized them.  They added that to hot water and made a tea which the explorers then drank.  Very shortly, within days, the explorers began feeling better and within a week were fully recovered.  Each cup of that tea contained five times as much vitamin C as is found in an entire lemon!

This tea can be made from ALMOST any pine tree.  The easiest to identify is the white pine tree.  It is the only one with needles in five leaf clusters.  Some variety of long leafed pine grows in almost every corner of the U.S. and is readily identifiable.  The exception is the Yew tree which has bright red berries on it.  Just remember, bright RED berries means STOP!  Another word of caution is in regards to the Ponderosa Pine. It is said that the needles on this particular tree makes horses and cows abort fetuses.  If it'll kill a horse, I'm not sure I'd want to drink it.  If you are in Ponderosa Pine country, I'd suggest using a cedar tree for tea just to be safe.





So how do you make this life saving tea?  Easy.


Pick a handful of the freshest needles on the tree for each cup.
Cut them into pieces about half an inch long, or bruise them well.
Remove the little brown end pieces and put the green bits into your pot.
Add your boiling water and cover.
Allow to steep until the needles become dull and sink to the bottom.
Slowly pour into cups and garnish to taste as you would any other tea.

Enjoy a scurvy free life!







                        

                        


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