Nasturtiums: Easy to Grow, Simple to Use

yellow nasturtiums

Are you looking for a garden plant that is low maintenance, has eye-catching blooms, and can be harvested all summer for fun new recipes? Look no farther! Pretty much the entire plant is edible with crunchy, peppery leaves and booms!

How to Grow:
Nasturtium is a plant for gardeners of all levels. It is actually described as thriving growing in poor or unfertilized soil. These low-quality soil conditions will produce more blooms in red, yellow, and orange, whereas higher quality soil will produce large and plentiful leaves. Blooms begin in early summer and continue for weeks depending on climate. Leaves do grow larger in part-shade but the plant is tolerant of varying light exposure. They will thrive in pots, and that helps keep them safe from pests. Basically, it will grow anywhere!


How to Eat:
The leaves can be enjoyed all summer in salads or with other greens. Most recipes instruct that leaves need to be added to boiling water for about 10 seconds before use. Leaves are an excellent alternative to using basil in a homemade pesto recipe, an arugula substitute in your salads, or topping a sandwich like lettuce does.  Their warm, peppery flavor is balanced with a hint of mustard. The seed pods can be used like capers, or ground into a peppery spice, and are wonderful when pickled (which I haven’t tried yet!). The bloom is more reminiscent of a sweet mustard in taste. Blooms can be picked fresh and stuffed with soft fillings like goat cheese or guacamole to make a beautiful party snack. Blooms also add a vibrant and exotic quality as garnishments on sweets or go great tossed in a tasty salad along side your greens. They are an easy way to dress-up any summer meal.

red nasturtiums

The Healthy Part:
Besides being easy to work with, Nasturtiums are a winner when it comes to nutrition. This member of the Brassica family hails from South America where it is known for treating respiratory illnesses and infections. When this plant is consumed the body benefits from high levels of vitamin C, iron, and manganese. Specifically, the plant leaves contain natural antibiotic properties, which are more potent in younger leaves. Eating the plant blooms can help with boosting beta carotene.

Any herbalist would recognize Nasturtium as food-medicine, and I also highly recommend growing it for fun in your garden. Start them from seed in the spring or find them at a nursery for easy planting. You can’t go wrong with an edible, medicinal, and beautiful plant you can enjoy on your own patio!

Lorraine Glenn, LAc

Hemp and Your Health

In the last few months, the landscape of hemp-based treatment options in Roanoke has changed DRAMATICALLY. Hemp extracts, like cannabidiol (CBD, for short) are changing the treatment of anxiety, pain, migraines/headaches, insomnia, chronic inflammation, and the list is growing. People are taking charge of their health,  and getting great results with no side effects.

The flowers and leaves of the hemp plant are extracted via alcohol or CO2, depending on the product, and then the extract is housed in an oil for the easiest absorption. This extract can be taking internally, for more systematic effects (think neurological issues, insomnia, anxiety, etc) or topically for a local effect (body pain, injuries, etc). With the topical treatment, you can feel an immediate improvement in the pain. Internally, it may take up to a week to build up in your system, but many patients experience some milder benefits right away. The compounds in the extract work on your body’s endocannabanoid system, which postitvely effects the whole nervous system. Learn more about endocannabanoids here: Endocannabinoid System

Now, there are always a few questions that need answered!

First, will I get high? No! Hemp is non-psychoactive, and all hemp oils contain only a trace amount of THC, the compound in marijuana that creates the high.

Second, is it safe? Yes! The FDA has assessed that hemp extract has no risk for dependency or overdose. There are no known negative side effects. That being said, always get your products from a reputable source. Brands like Charlottes Web have been doing this for years and years, have third-party testing on all batches, and are transparent in their growing and manufacturing processes.

Third, is it legal? Yep! In all 50 states. If you are routinely drug-tested, there is a small chance it will show up on a drug test, so it’s best to check with your employer.

Lastly, will it conflict with anything I’m currently taking? If you prescription prevents you from consuming grapefruit, you should check with your MD first.

So if you’re struggling with insomnia, acute or chronic pain, chronic inflammation, headaches/migraines, or anxiety, hemp could help get you back to feeling well. Pick some up at Queenpin at your next visit – because hemp and acupuncture are a natural pair!

LEAP Markets in Old SW

Fresh, seasonal veggies 2 ways in Old SW! Starting May 15th, Mobile Market, LEAP’s Farmers Market on wheels, will be in Old Southwest on Wednesdays between 11-1pm in front of The Haven. The market runs through Nov 1st.

Your first option is to come by the Mobile Market and pick up your fresh produce before/after your acupuncture session. There will be an assortment each week to pick from.

Your second option is to sign up for Farm Share, a CSA program – Community Supported Agriculture. A box of local fruits and/or vegetables will be ready for you once a week to pick up at the Mobile Market. This is a great way to try new fruits and vegetables and get your produce in one quick stop. 

Farm Share members will enjoy 24 weeks of local fruits and/or vegetables produced within a 100 mile radius of Roanoke. May 1st and ends October 23rd. Farm Shares are much more than a weekly box of food – it’s a powerful investment in your health, community, and local economy. This is a wonderful way to support local farmers, get fresh & seasonal food, and try something new for dinner.

How do I sign up?

Visit LEAP’s website for details and registration at! Registration closes April 15th. Questions? Contact the LEAP Farm Share coordinator at or 540-492-5311. Wednesday pick ups at Carilion and Department of Social Services and Tuesday at the West End Farmers Market


Spring Allergies Survival Plan

It’s just so VIBRANT this time of year! Grass is growing. Trees are blooming. And pollen is driving most of us totally bonkers! Spring (or fall) can be marked by severe fatigue, watery/itchy eyes, sore throat, runny/congested nose or even skin rashes as all this life sends our immune system into overdrive. There are plenty of over the counter medications to try to alleviate the symptoms but many folks notice unpleasant side effects, and the minute you stop taking them, all your symptoms come roaring back. Medications don’t do anything for the underlying issue: that your immune system thinks that pollen needs to be attacked with the full force of a typhoid epidemic. There are lots of theories and research being done about where this issue starts, with a lot of it pointing to our hyper-clean environments, more time indoors, changes in climate, and rampant use of antibiotics and antibacterial products. (CNBC “Allergies are on the rise…” and Pollen Overload from the NIH)


So now what? Stay inside and suffer? No way!

Here are a few things to get your immune system back in line:


  1. Probiotics. Immune system regulation begins in the gut, which for most of us has been trashed by multiple courses of antibiotics in our life. I recommend starting with 50 billion live cultures for at least 3 months to repopulate your biome. Refrigerated brands tend to be more potent but if you have to leave them on the counter to remember to take it, do it! This is also one of those situations where you get what you pay for. It’s worth spending a little extra on a full spectrum, high potency brand to start and you can always cut back after a couple of bottles.  You can also supplement with naturally fermented foods: kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi, small amounts of yogurt/kefir.
  2. Stinging Nettle. Now be careful with this one! As is obvious, they are painful if grabbed in the wild. The easiest way to get this in your system is a nice tea. Mountain Rose Herbs has a blend that I particularly like. Brew it strong and drink two times a day.  Extra points for adding some local, raw honey (available at the Co-Op, or Garden Song Cafe)! Nettle can also be cooked, used in a quiche or in the place of any other cooked greens. Once they are cooked, you don’t have to worry about the sting.
  3. Nasal Rinse/Neti Pot. These are available pretty much everywhere. Use daily to start and then back down to every few days to keep irritants and congestion from settling in your sinuses. It can feel a bit weird at first, but once you get the hang of it, it’s a quick way to keep your sinuses clear for the rest of the day.  If you’re already suffering from congestion or a runny nose, a great time to start using them is after a hot shower/bath when the sinuses are at their most clear. These are best used with a mild saline solution and most pots come with a mix that can be used – don’t use your table salt! It is too coarse and has iodine in it, which can further irritate your sinuses. Nasal rinses should always be used with distilled or boiled water for safety.
  4. Limit your dairy intake. I know. No one said it would be fun. But dairy increases mucus production in the body so it’s not your friend when your head feels heavy and stuffy and your nose is running. Skip the cheese on your sandwich, try a little dusting of parmesan on your pasta instead of a cheesy lasagna, and fill your plate with seasonal veggies like ramps, asparagus and fresh peas.
  5. Last, but certainly not least, if the allergies are already out of the gate, and you’re totally miserable, stop in for some
    acupuncture. Acupuncture has been shown to even beat medications for treating allergy symptoms in some studies and we can get your immune system back on track, naturally. Results are best seen after a few visits, and can lessen the severity of future flares or even prevent them all together if you continue treatment.

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