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Welcome We are back from hosting the heart-rending 9th annual Good Medicine Confluence, 470 of the most diverse and purposed attendees yet! Aelfyn is 7 months old now, and wants at least as much attention from us as the Plant Healer events and publications require, crawling and climbing and talking in his own strange and animated language! As Plant Healer subscribers, you will be the first to enjoy and benefit from the many class-related essays provided by the amazing Confluence Teachers. Below is a picture of many of the instructors from this year’s gathering, inspiriteurs in person, and all year long a resource to the larger community through this quarterly, and then through upcoming Plant Healer books.


–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– New Plant Healer Column Fermentation, Fun, & Folklore Our latest column comes courtesy of Jereme Zimmerman, author of Making Mead Like a Viking, and one of the most welcomed of our new Good Medicine Confluence instructors. This quarterly column will cover everything from Mead making and Botanical Beer brewing, to making Kraut and other fermented foods and beverages. So fill your plate, and tip your mug... Skal! –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– Plant Healer for Mobile Devices iOS & Android After many requests for an app version for pads and smart phones, Kiva has now make Plant Healer Quarterly available direct from your online Apple Store and GooglePlay Store. –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– Single Issue Subscriptions Another Option – Subscribe Until You Cancel $19 per Quarter While you will likely want to continue to purchase 1-Year subscriptions at the discounted $69 rate for four issues, we have also initiated a quarterly option for those who cannot afford a full year at a time. With this option, folks will be billed $19 every 3 months, and can cancel at any point if they only want one issue. –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– The Latest Plant Healer Book is Now Shipping: Herbalist Visions & Visionaries A Fresh Collection of Lengthy Personal Interviews We have finally updated the long popular book 21st Century Herbalists, featuring expanded personal conversations with handful of the most inspiring interviewees, along with many new, exciting, rule bending, medicine making practitioners and culture shifters of the current decade. Learn about the plants they use, the whys and ways they practice, how they got their schools and businesses started, and their techniques for tending the land, standing up for justice, and spreading both beauty and love. Order from the remade Plant Healer Bookstore, clicking through the menu from: www.PlantHealer.org –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––


––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– 60% Off – Book Clearance Sale 21st Century Herbalists: Rock Stars, Radicals, & Root Doctors $15 each – Cloth HardCover – While They Last Now that this early edition or Plant Healer interviews has been replaced by our new book, “Herbalist Visions,” we have decided to you the last remaining copies of the original 21st Century Herbalists at below cost. Note: These are the special limited edition, green cloth-bound version. Featured in 21stCH are interviewees no longer appearing in the updated volume, including Ryan Drum, Doc Garcia, Bevin Clare, Steve Brill, Kristine Brown, Doug Elliott, Kevin Spellman, Sam Coffman, and Margi Flint. and Plant Healer Magazine Annuals An average 1,000 B&W Pages per Book $15 each – (not per set) – Softbound – While They Last We also found a very limited number of overruns of the Plant Healer Annual Books from back in the day, super thick softbound collections of articles from previous years that were once available only to member subscribers. Each is packed with tons of information of use to herbalists and other healers, from plant profiles to clinical skills, assessments, the history and art of herbalism. Were $39, now only $15, our pick from the years left available. Order either from the remade Plant Healer Bookstore, clicking through the menu from: www.PlantHealer.org –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– Check Out The All New Website For The 10th Anniversary 2019 Good Medicine Confluence This year’s gathering will again feature nearly 150 classes, hands on labs, and intensives in total, with 10 or more per time slots! To check out the new look and flavor of the Confluence website, click on: PlantHealer.org/intro.html ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– Full $100 Discount On Advance Tickets to The 10th Anniversary 2019 Good Medicine Confluence Get the deepest discount of the year, by purchasing an “Enthusiast Special” ticket to the Confluence between June 15th and Sept. 30th. Gp the Registration page from: PlantHealer.org/intro.html ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– Teaching Proposals Now Being Accepted for the 2019 Confluence We are now welcoming class proposals for next year’s big event, not just from well known herbalists, but from any of you who have a passion for sharing your healing experience and love for the plants. Slots will mostly fill up by September, so the sooner you apply the better. Good Medicine Confluence Teacher Application http://www.mediafire.com/file/3cilqtf6lfsv0xq/Good_Medicine_Confluence_Teacher_Application.doc/file

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––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– Share What You Know: Submit Your Ideas For PHM Articles Your experience and perspective are unique, and we want to encourage you to trust you have insights and information that would be of interest and use to others in our community. We happily consider original, previously unpublished articles for this magazine, and submissions of articles (previously published or not) for Plant Healer’s free Herbaria Monthly ezine and its many thousands of readers. Please download the: Plant Healer Magazine & Herbaria Submission Guidelines: http://www.mediafire.com/download/ohl674l10u3ni02/Submission_Guidelines%282%29.pdf The deadline for the Fall Issue of Plant Healer Magazine is August 1st. There is no deadline for submitting to Herbaria Monthly. –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– Advertising Specs & Pricing For Networking Your Offerings in Plant Healer Publications Advertising space in Plant Healer Magazine and Herbaria Newsletter is provided mainly as a service, and prices are kept down for the sake of low-income herbalists and businesses that are just starting... costing between 1/2 and 1/10th of what other publications with similar subscriber numbers charge. For info on advertising in the magazine and newsletter, download this pdf with its required Insertion Form: Plant Healer Magazine & Herbaria Advertising Info: http://www.mediafire.com/file/sddoe5gr2cfudaq/PHM_Media_Kit.pdf –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– Lastly, but in no way least importantly, Kiva and I dedicate this issue of Plant Healer Quarterly to our dear, dear friend, jim mcdonald (ok mister, I will finally spell your name in all lower case like you prefer... but I can only promise it this one time!). A tribute follows. –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– Write us anytime with your thoughts and feelings, at: PlantHealer@PlantHealer.org


A Personal Tribute to

Jim McDonald by Jesse Wolf Hardin On the 23rd of May, herbalist teacher and columnist Jim McDonald suffered a critical heart attack. In the ensuing weeks, he has had a successful operation to repair a valve, and while we cannot know for sure how he will fare as of this writing, the doctors have been amazed at how well he has done, and one factor could be the voluminous outpourings of love and support sent his way. While we value obituaries whenever we lose someone important to us and our missions, it feels all the more important to acknowledge and praise people while they are still here with us. And so, these few inadequate words are not a remembering of who and what is lost, but a timely tribute to him – and to what – is (and in some ways will always be) alive for us.

Jim was my partner Kiva Rose’s closest confidante back in the day, when she was just beginning to be known and valued as an herbalist and plant bard. Their tons of emailed correspondence was very helpful to her as they tested each other’ hypothesis and assumption. When we first thought to help instigate a folk herbal resurgence, it was McDonald, Bergner, and 7Song who were most supportive, and who then wrote columns for every issue of this magazine for nearly a decade, and who taught at all the annual Plant Healer events until this year. He was sad not to be able to make it to the 2018 Confluence, though excited to be hosted to teach in the United Kingdom. It was while overseas that he suffered the unexpected attack.


Another friend of ours, the ever kind Thomas Easley, stayed at Jim’s side, setting aside work at his school for around a month already to assist the family with assessments and all the ensuing red tape. All of the Plant Healer community has been incredible, in together raising substantial funds to assist Jim’s family through this GoFundMe page: https://www.gofundme.com/jim-mcdonald039s-recovery

The joke making, absinthe sipping, ferret hugging Jim has been the epitome of the folk herbalist: largely self taught, adaptable and ever improving, testing and challenging so called known truths, teaching in an accessible, nonacademic vernacular that makes the concepts of herbal healing understandable by all. It is nothing short of brilliant, to be able to explain complex plant energetics using lyrics from the 80s band The Eagles. It has felt great to spread work about his gifts, and to publish his work as a resource to the community. And we will forever continue doing so, publishing him here whether he will be able to write more for you or not. We have been trying to mine lessons and reminders from this, as some small counterbalance to what has been our worrying and grieving – about how scarily our mortal health can be challenged at any time, no matter how young we are or robust we seem... reminders to live every precious moment wholly awake, aware, feeling, caring and purposed... and perhaps most urgently, to never wait even a single day to communicate our admiration and affection to all those that we treasure and honor! On that note, thank you again, Jim, for all you have so freely and sweetly given... ...and for being you. And thank you to you all, our ever-so-caring Plant Healer family. Jim’s family request that you do not email him, but rather, that you snail mail letters and cards to him that he will hopefully be able to come home to and read, and that will be a comfort to his wife Stephanie. Jim McDonald & Family 4535 jozwik drive. White lake MI 48383 Community matters. Your love matters.


Thank You JIM


Introduction & Announcements

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Foundational Herbcraft !

A Tribute to Jim McDonald! !

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Jesse Wolf Hardin

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Jesse Wolf Hardin!

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Kenneth Proefrock!

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Phyllis Light! !

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Jereme Zimmerman 64

The Healing Journey: Explorations & Meanders! ! !

Communis: Options For Community ! ! ! Psyche & Substance: In The Bush of Ghosts!! !

Magical Cacti & The Doors of Perception

Mountain Medicine: Healing Folkways! !

A Natural Health Education

Fermentation, Fun & Folklore! ! ! !

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Introduction to The New Column Making Alehoof Simple Ale

Heart & Hearth: Radical Family Herbalism !

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Dara Saville!!

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Angela Willard! Sarah Baldwin!

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Using Materia Medica to its Fullest Potential

Of Wilderness & Gardens ! !

Juliette Carr!!

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Signature Species of The Southwest – Part II

Materia Medica ! !

Therapeutic Bioactives in Seaweeds! Herbs For Heartache! ! ! !


Botanica !

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Marija Helt!!

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Ericacea

Fungi & Friends !

Shana Lipner Grover!

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Lion’s Mane

Plant Healer Art! !

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The Herbarium !

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Katherine MacKinnon!

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Seeing Folks! !

Patterns of Discontent! !

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Intersections & Crossroads !

Kristin Henningsen!

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Sean Donahue!

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Matthew Wood! !

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Susun S Weed!

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Astrid Grove!

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Animist Herbalism

The Practice of Western Herbalism ! !

Iodine: Part II

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Wise Woman Ways! !

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Plants vs Drugs: Part I

Birthroot

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Herbs to Have on Hand Part II

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Running a Medicinal Nursery

From the Ground Up: Cultivation & Propagation Jade Alicandro Mace!

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Jenny Solidago Mansell Lisa Valantine! !

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Delicious: Foods For Health & Pleasure ! !

We Three Greens ! Water Kefir Soda:!

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From Poacher to Steward!

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The Gathering Basket: A Basketful Of Meaningful Miscellany Plant Healer Interviews !

Laurie Quesinberry!

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Jesse Wolf Hardin!!

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Amber Magnolia Hill

Contributor Bios & Contact Info

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Communis Options For Community By Jesse Wolf Hardin

I am fortunate – to feel a part of a Plant Healer community, seen, recognized, and unexpectedly and organically enveloped, accepted, and valued. From the beginning, I have been moved to give encouragement, clarity, platforms and support to those who are themselves live a life of giving to other people, to worthy causes, to the plants, and to the earth itself. And gradually, ever so gradually, I have grown accustomed to and welcoming of the assistance and support that they give me and my family in turn. I did not, after all, come easily to the praising of community. My nature, my constitution, my very wiring, was such that I shied away from crowds from the time I would walk or crawl to the bushes to secrete myself. While I enjoyed performing from a safe distance, I otherwise skulked around the perimeters of rooms, yards, events, and then parties – an edge dweller who

was happiest at the permeable boundaries between the obvious and the unnoticed, between the normal agreed upon reality where human scripts and dramas played out, and the shade draped forests where mystery reigns. I dropped out of school and hit the road at 13, partly out of boredom, but in retrospect largely to escape look alike suburbs where it felt crowded but few people actually knew or interacted with their closest neighbors. I soon discovered better examples of community, from the extended families of the barrio where the Abuelitas were willing to shelter a wild eyed young runaway, to the early rural New Mexico communes of Morning Star and New Buffalo, and yet could never relax into feeling a part of a commons until my work with equally obsessive and unacceptable ecological activists,


Most of the year, our family is home at our wilderness botanical sanctuary, seven river crossings from the nearest pavement, miles from the closest town with its pointedly nonalternative morays, 250 miles from anywhere hosting a population with our values or mission... and there is little we hear on the news or read on the internet that makes us feel better about the state and direction of our species. If anything, our sense of community is further shaken by the stark contrast between authentic interrelational nature and the often disingenuous, fractional, and hurtful human norm. But as a result, all the more intense is the high I get from the annual gatherings of interwoven visionaries, health providers and culture-shifters that we have hosted, and the year-long sense of interconnection with our kindred and allied... an unanticipated lifetime membership in what has become an impassioned, purpose driven, care giving, paradigm altering, chance taking, determinedly loving Plant Healer tribe.

Community |kәˈmyo͞onәdē|noun 1. a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common: One’s neighborhood community | the global Plant Healer community.

• [as modifier] denoting a worker or resource designed to serve the people of a particular area or field: community health services. 2. a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals: Their sense of community grows out of a shared love of plants and a desire to help others. Origin: late Middle English: from Old French comunete, reinforced by its source, Latin communitas, from communis meaning “common.”

Communis, of course, refers not to “common” as in plentiful and ordinary, but to the “commons,” that which is commonly shared among a community’s members. This includes common ground, the location and land. Lifestyle basics and patterns in common. Common standards, prohibitions, or laws. In the case of communities whose members do not live in physical proximity, the commons is one of common needs and values, common ways of perceiving and speaking about things, that which is of joint interest, joint use, or joint importance. It is manifest and maintained through a shared story – shared communications, shared publications, mutual projects, and concerted efforts towards common aims.


As my suburban childhood demonstrated, a neighborhood is only a community to the degree that the residents are in relationship, interacting, and working towards a common good. And just engaging in similar work, activities, or belief systems, does not a community make. Studying and practicing plant medicine connects us to a lineage of natural healers that extends back deep into time, but it is only as a result of interpersonal relationships, agreements, alliances, shared motivations, perspectives and projects, that community coalesces and self defines.

Regional & Neighborhood Community

Community is not only the context of healing, and the situation where healing work takes place, but also a means for all kinds of healing practice. The individuals we assess and suggest plant medicines to, are drawn from a community. The community provides the practitioner’s livelihood, ensuring that the good work can continue. In exchange, the Plant Healer – herbalist, body worker, grower, land restorationist, artist, activist, etc. – helps contribute to the health and well being of the community’s members.

Community Healers, Clinics, & Shops

Neighborhood Community is situational. It is the area around our homes and clinics, extending as far as we regularly interact with others, shop, sell, or draw our customers, students or clients from. The longer we remain in the same area, the more the character of the land and population influences us, the more relationships we build, and the deeper our reciprocal involvements, commitments and promises... as well as the more broadly and effectively we can give back.

The Community Healer is dedicated to serving a particular community, usually a physically serviceable neighborhood/region, or else a definable population in need, such as a city’s Haitian immigrant community. Optimally, we plant our roots in a place, insinuate ourselves into it, becoming intimate with its human, animal, and botanical residents, protecting it as needed, learning its lessons, celebrating its personality, displays, and effects. We strive to understand local views and customs


that are different from ours, and respect the situations and struggles that led to those regional ways. We demonstrate to the population that we are not just passing through, that we will remain a healing resource for them. Regional/community clinics offer sliding scale and some free services, to increase health access by the impoverished and marginalized. Community apothecaries/shops proffer advice as well as herbs, and get to know their clientele and clientele conditions, something that is impossible online, and we can offer educational opportunities to increase self-care knowledge. While a traveling herbalist teacher is likely to become more widely acclaimed, and a certified professional can make more money trying to fit into the commercial mainstream, it is the dedicated localized healer, clinic, and shop, that help form the foundation for community health, justice, empowerment, and vigor.

De facto Communities of Caring & Purpose A second form of community healer, is one whose community is spread out, or even global, usually unintentional but highly significant. We share motivations, priorities, goals, and sometimes actual projects with other natural, unofficial members. We function as wild and weedy seeds, sprouting in new environs, challenging entrenched order, inspiring new ways of seeing and healing among disparate groups and unknown strangers. We are more likely to be a lone herbalist affecting people suspicious of natural healing and with little acceptance of folks who are different. Or a nomadic healer, dispensing herbs along the road. Or part of a small team of street medics, showing up at the site of recent natural and human made disasters with splints and tinctures in hand. We may not know other members of the community, but are nonetheless associated by virtue of our shared focus/missions and the intensity and dedication we give to them. And we are likely to


recognize our fellow healing communards upon first meeting, seeing in their eyes a familiar fire, and in their hearts a kindred caring. Intentional Community Intentional Community is the above sharing of caring and purpose, with added deliberateness, discernment, selection, and relationships that involve shared projects as well as intentions and hopes. Because they are deliberate, we take responsibility for them. Because we evaluated (not judged) and consciously entered into trusting relationship with them, we take responsibility for what we give or fail to give, the commitments we keep and those we neglect, and our results and impacts. We see so much to value and love in them, that we are likely to become devoted – responsive to their needs, their lessons, their growth, their effectiveness, and their fulfillment. We share with them not only reasons and goals, but true interdependence and alliance, and strong and lasting bonds. ! ! Members of an intentional community may or may not share a common home or town, but we always share a common vision even when we have different personal ideas of how to bring it

about. We share knowledge with each other, share our hard earned lessons and troubles, share our blessings and personal gifts. We contribute our time and abilities to common endeavors, campaigns, and missions. And intentional community tends to operate on a natural system of mutual aid, helping one another when needed or obstacles arise – those who can assisting physically or in person, those with the most income and credit assisting financially, and others of us networking and promoting projects and needs through our connections. Kiva and I cannot afford insurance and still have to worry about health costs and infrastructure repairs, yet we have nonetheless been able every year to sponsor dozens of scholarship applicants in need, to give cash


awards to wondrous plant champions for their efforts on behalf of species, land restoration, and the continuance of self empowered folk herbalism, and we recently networked an earnest young woman’s “go-fund-me” effort to help win her support to continue her herbal education. When one of Plant Healer’s dearest contributors suffered a heart attack just as I began this essay, within days fellow herbalist teacher Thomas Easley few overseas to be at his bedside and monitor his treatment – a shining example of caring community at its best! Because we are in important ways close to each other, even when thousands of miles apart, we suffer anguish whenever another of us is divorcing, or ill, or struggling with insecurity as they consider starting a new relationship, herbal practice, or lifestyle. Intentional community is without a default setting or neutral gear. It can claim mistakes but not accidents, has no “whoops” or “whatevers.” It was satisfying for me, realizing not only that we were not alone in our aims, but how purposeful had become our affections, and how intentional our service and pledge to our Plant Healer tribe.

Community as a Verb I have come to relate to community like a verb, because it’s a doin’. It takes doing to recognize it or create community, sustain it, grow it, utilize it. And conversely, it takes community to effectively do the many kinds of resistance and rewilding, mending and tending need to ensure a habitable living planet, not to mention pull off a feast, throw a party and celebrate. But savor and celebrate we must, at times with those so clearly with us, always with their well being in mind and heart. In shared healing purpose. In communis.


Magical Cacti & the Doors of Perception by Kenneth Proefrock

The consumption of mescaline containing cacti can be traced back several thousands of years. Indigenous people of the Central and South Americas consider it the key to the kingdom of nature spirits and gods. Like psilocybin containing mushrooms, mescaline containing cacti are one of the oldest knows substances to serve humans as a deeply acting plant medicine. Besides the psychoactive effects of plants like Peyote or San Pedro cactus there are other clinically important aspects that are intriguing, for example, it was   recently discovered that such cacti exert an antibacterial effect on Staphylococcus species, and Peyote has a long history of use through the birthing process. ! This particular discussion springs   from the premise that empathogenic and entheogenic substances like the interesting mixture of alkaloids from cacti like Trichocereus and

Lophophora are able to facilitate a dissolving of the defensive intra-psychic separation between spirit, mind and   body that encourages   physical   healing, psychological problem solving and an increase in spiritual   awareness. The temporary state changes that occur in an   individual’s   consciousness after ingestion of psychedelic substances, in a ritualized setting, is conducive to a change in   attitude towards one’s ‘self’,   physical and etheric, which facilitates the body’s own healing and regenerative processes. The   psychological problem solving that results from this radical shift in perspective can help reframe beliefs   with deep spiritual implications   that are often profoundly healing. Simply the realization of that spiritual core   of being can be inherently healing and often affirming and   empowering of the   individual’s sense of agency and integrity. 


Here we discuss a deep history of connection between humans and magical cacti as well as historical and cross cultural methods of administering specific cacti for therapeutic effect. We will discuss the safety of these compounds, with considerations towards pre-existing medical   conditions in participants and dosing strategies. We cover specific ways to ensure that a positive outcome is generated through a sacramental consumption in a controlled, safe space and setting. We also discuss some of the sticky   ethical considerations inherent in   such practices. The modern practice of botanical medicine is a pursuit that is filled with lots of interesting 'rabbit-holes' of folklore, biochemistry, and public policy. When we mix ideas about spiritual experience, healing responses and altered states of consciousness with understandings of biochemistry, horticulture and social stability, things get, frankly, weird. The subject of this discourse, magical cacti, is just such a domain of ideas. I entered this project with a pre-set notion of what I thought would be important to share with the reader of this document and the participants in its associated workshops/classes; as such, the bulk of this material was written over the past 15 years. Yet, for any number of reasons, it was never able to find what felt like a proper 'home' in the world at large, it just rattled around in my own head and took up space on various hard drives of consecutive computers. It isn't that I didn't present the possibility of such a paper or a class to several venues over the years, I did, and I was summarily told that this was a bit too controversial for this conference or that venue. So, I have sat on it, built on it, endlessly revised, updated, slashed, and generally refined it into what you find here. I offer no apologies, I offer no disclaimers, despite the sage advice of my legal counsel, and I don't take full credit for what you will find here. This is a collaboration between my mind and something Else, something that feels transcendent and important and somehow as obvious as the yard landscape of the elderly woman who lives down the road from you and as dark and hidden as any shadowy back alley of the underground. We are talking about an association between humans

and plant sacraments that are among the oldest on planet earth, a universally ancient experience that is deeply personal and unique. It is important, it is culturally muddy and controversial for exactly that reason. I would like to begin by speaking frankly about my personal experience here and then broaden the conversation into historical, botanical, and even legal realms, with a generous peppering of practical application thrown into the mix. ! It was 1990, I was a 22 year-old college student at NAU in Flagstaff, AZ. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to take a newly offered class in the anthropology department entitled, "Native American Religions" from a Native American instructor and anthropologist, Dr. Johnny Flynn (Johnny passed from this world in 2012). In the strange and convoluted ways that life tends to unfold, Johnny and I lived in the same neighborhood and had occasion to socialize outside of class. My college roommate at the time, Fred, was dating a member of the Hopi tribe whose brother was a "runner" for the Native American Church (NAC). So, it happened one fateful Friday night, that Johnny, his brother Wes, my roommate Fred, and myself found ourselves with a bag of Peyote buttons and some time on our hands. None of us had ever eaten such a thing, we were given very little direction other than they tasted terrible and we should expect to vomit and this was a time before the internet...in those archaic days where you either read about something in a book or you just jumped right into it and experienced it first hand...we didn't have a book, and Peyote wouldn't become a legal sacrament for the NAC for four more years. We each ate several of these very dry and bitter peyote buttons and collectively leapt into an unknown dimension that forever changed each one of us in the kind of profound ways that evade verbal description. I can say that we saw fantastic things, that the geometry of the world came to life, that Aldous Huxley nailed it when he called such an experience an "opening of the Doors of Perception", and none of that truly captures the experience. We told stories, we sang songs, we laughed, we cried, Wes danced, we watched, we spent the entire night being carried by the spirit


of Peyote without sleeping. Johnny and Wes moved back to Indiana shortly after, Fred moved to Africa, where he still lives, and I stayed in Arizona to pursue Naturopathic Medical School. The context of that experience is important and the people involved is likewise important as an illustration of the profundity of the set and setting involved in such an experience. We were four very different people, with very different backgrounds and potential futures. We were sitting around a living room coffee table in the house that Fred and I shared with some other people, and we had an ad hoc awakening that felt, for all the world, like it was the absolute most necessary and transformative thing that could have happened to each one of us at that moment in our lives. That experience changed the way that each one of us tread this planet from that moment onward, it profoundly impacted the ways in which we conducted our lives. A large part of the reason for this discussion is my attempt to reconcile the profundity of experiences like the one we shared with sensibilities about healing and radically shifting the momentum of one's life, one's

community, and, perhaps the world that we all share. These are experiences that create a deep sense of connectedness to the people we share them with, but also to the world around us, they remind us that the Divine that exists in every physical manifestation that surrounds us, they change us in ways that set us apart from a mainstream culture that is dominated by a passive consumerism that feels narcissistic and exploitive in contrast. ! Peyote, Lophophora williamsii, is a profoundly magical cactus with a rich and controversial history. It is being overharvested in the wild, it has become a central part of the Native American Church, which now has 250,000 members, spiritual practice and its use by nonnative people brushes very close to cultural appropriation. These are where our muddy waters begin...cultural appropriation can be described as the taking the intellectual property, cultural expressions or artifacts, history and ways of knowledge from a culture that is not one's own.


The effects of such appropriation can range from misinterpretation, misrepresentation, incorrect attribution of cultural materials and effects, and includes deliberate attempts to deceive the general public about a given practice or practitioner for financial or social gain. It is important to recognize that it was not until the Religious Freedom Act was passed in 1976 that Native American spiritual practices like the Sun Dance, sweat lodge, and peyote ceremonies stopped being banned and aggressively persecuted in many parts of the US. There are a lot of issues that need to be addressed in the use of Peyote by non-native people. Trichocereus, on the other hand, is a cactus that is sold at your local nursery or hardware store for $15.98, and although it does have an equally ancient history of Native American use in Central and South America, issues of cultural appropriation seem to take less of a center stage than they do with Peyote. Even to say such a thing leaves this author somewhat unsettled and requires much explanation. There is a cultural aspect to the kinds of experiences that these bitter plants create within us that feels really important. We are invoking a spiritual experience in the consumption of these plant sacraments, some large part of the healing response inherent in the relationship between humans and these plants seems caught up in that spiritual experience. Spiritual experiences are cultural phenomena, even though they are deeply personal and, perhaps, some part of that is true of many healing responses. Unfortunately, in the botanical medicine community, cultural appropriation is a fairly common practice, often with the enactors being consciously unaware of their potential impact. A brief tour around the websites, herbal books, and online herbal courses will quickly reveal 'ancient' or folkloric justification for modern herbal uses, even biochemically bolstered rationales for the use of certain plants or their constituents. As a community, we draw our knowledge from the people of the past, we build on the understandings of those who came before us. Humans have been trading notes and practices for as long as humans have been around, especially as it regards health and healing. The issue, that is now being discussed more often

than ever before, is that there are no best practices for borrowing from other cultures, the processes of syncretism and modernization of culturally based folkloric approaches to botanical medicine and healing practices will remain vulnerable to the accusations of cultural appropriation. We cannot forget or whitewash our history; the taint of colonialism is persistent and the affected indigenous cultures are continually rebuilding their own cultural practices, which is, in and of itself, a type of syncretism. In North America, intertribal pow wows and dances have become a powerful force in the sharing of knowledge, ritual and practice to individuals from different regions and different tribes. Peyote practices are often combined with Christian ideology and symbolism in the Native American Church. In Siberia and Mongolia, Michael Harner's 'Core Shamanism' is being adopted by indigenous shamanic practitioners who are attempting to reconstruct and refine their own cultural practices. No one is accusing these groups of cultural appropriation, we call it syncretism, a mixing of ideas, and here is where we are knee deep in our muddy waters. ! When the membership of an over-culture perpetuates the exploitation of a sub-culture, we have to recognize the continuation of a deepseated tradition of 'us vs. them' politics...on both sides of the exchange. As a member of the white male upper middle class of North America, I can find avenues to share my personal experiences with indigenously preserved medical interventions. I may or may not be a part of the indigenous group that was involved in that preservation. I do have a sort of privilege because I am able to access information about that intervention without having to be a member of that group. What debt do I owe that group of people if I somehow profit from the knowledge that they preserved? What if I divorce the use of that plant substance from its folkloric history, extract it into some interesting components and then sell it as a biochemically active nutritional supplement or pharmaceutical? What if I feel that I have actually made something brand new from it and I get to patent it so that anyone else who wants to use my idea to help their patients


are obligated to either buy it from me or send me a few dollars for using my idea? If that feels somehow wrong to you, the reader...good, if it doesn't feel wrong in any way, I am afraid you are congruent with a dominant portion of the over-culture. Please recognize that the shelves of pharmacies and health food stores the world over are full of such items and such ideology. Freedom in the modern world is relative to one's spending power, and those who possess a certain cultural freedom/power have a level of liberty, or privilege, that surpasses that of those less fortunate. Inherent in capitalism is the idea that those who hold the means to the resources want to keep the means; power begets power, wealth begets wealth. Ideas, understanding, and cultural expressions are not commodities that can be bought and sold like cars or shoes, they lose something precious in the exchange. Similarly, purchasing a diploma or a certification is not the same as earning one, there is a culture of training that makes a good practitioner. Yet, we commodify these things, to our detriment and to the detriment of the cultures that preserved the original ideas. How do we otherwise quantify these things? Should people be paid? It seems that putting dollar amounts on ideas is really part of the problem. Do we simply give credit where credit is due? How many people use a standardized extract of Ashwagandha, Withania somnifera, to get to sleep at night? Here is an Ayurvedically preserved botanical agent that enjoys a wide market and high profitability for the people who sell it in Whole Foods and other such venues. It may or may not be completely divorced from its traditional usage in Ayurveda for the people who consume it...it does a thing, it puts some people to sleep, it has a ready marketplace of users, it turns a profit for someone, so it persists in the marketplace, as long as the economics continue to work for someone. Does the consuming public care about where it came from or the history of its use and preservation in one of the oldest continual medical systems on the planet? Does any of that matter? Does it matter that Texas has placed Peyote on the endangered plants list due to overharvesting, and that Thailand has become one of the largest

producers of peyote on the planet? It seems to me that these things should matter, when I engage these plant sacraments, my mind inevitably wanders into this territory. Under the altered state of awareness brought on by the ritual consumption of psychedelic substances I often wonder about the sins of the fathers being passed to the sons, I wonder about my personal obligation to the people who preserved this medicine through time, how they may have been abused and exploited by my forebears, and how I might best honor the gift that they have preserved. I don't have answers, and when I ask the plants, they don't provide me discrete answers or solutions, although I do get two distinct impressions, both of which bring us to this moment. The first impression is that I do have a duty to the plant to create a relationship with it in this present moment, not just as a consumer, but, also as a grower, nurturer, supporter and ethical harvester. It is not ok, to my mind, to purchase these botanical products through some supply chain of people I don't know, and the exchange of a base substance like money seems to somehow cheapen the experience. If I am to partake of this plant sacrament, it is incumbent on me to participate in its growing and processing. Collecting in the wild? a sticky subject, especially as it pertains to peyote, and one that we will discuss in more depth as we unravel this convoluted subject, for now, I contend that this right has been given to the native people of this country and Mexico. The second impression that I have been given is that I have an obligation to educate others about the ethical use of these plant sacraments, which includes sharing a version of their historical use, as well as a broader understanding of their physical and spiritual impact on the human condition. To that end, this document exists. ! Peyote, Lophophora williamsii, "the Good Medicine", is a small, spineless cactus of the Chihuahuan desert whose range extends from southern Texas into northern Mexico. There is no clear consensus regarding how long humans have been ingesting Peyote, but, in 2005, researchers used radiocarbon dating and alkaloid analysis to study two specimens of peyote buttons found in archaeological digs


from a site called Shumla Cave No. 5 on the Rio Grande in Texas. The results dated the specimens to between 3780 and 3660 BCE. Alkaloid extraction yielded approximately 2% of the alkaloids including mescaline in both samples. This indicates that native North Americans were likely to have used peyote since at least five-anda-half thousand years ago.1 This study also speaks to the amazing durability of alkaloids like mescaline to persist in plant samples over time, or does it...there is controversy over how these buttons were preserved. Specimens of peyote threaded onto a cord from a burial cave in west central Coahuila, Mexico have been similarly analyzed and dated to 810 to 1070 CE.2

Many Native American tribes relate that they have been using Peyote since the beginning of time and its ancient history of usage has been recorded among various Southwestern Athabaskan-language tribal groups of northern Mexico, including the Huichol, Tarahumara, Tonkawa, Mescalero, and Lipan Apache. The Carrizo Apache were likely the first practitioners of peyote religion in the regions north of presentday Mexico.3 Of course, the distinction of tribes in Mexico and tribes north of that border is totally artificial and only about 200 years old, as we will see, the role that the Carrizo people play in this history is by the movement of a ritualized plant sacrament further from its natural range


and introducing it to the native people of the northern Plains. The existing oral history of the religious, ceremonial, and healing uses of peyote in a ritualized religious ceremony in order to induce a mystical state may date back over 2,000 years.4,6 The following is part of an oral history of the Carrizo/Comecrudo people's account of how peyote ceremony was originally introduced to the Lipan Apache.7 "There was a lot of peyote in Lipan country, both in Mexico and in Texas. It grows around the Rio Grande near the border. The Lipan were not the first people who found out about peyote. It was learned first by other people and later the Lipan learned about it too. The way I heard it, the Carrizo people started it.One Lipan man heard the sound of a drum. When he heard that he went over to the place from which the sound was coming. This was near morning, when the morning light was breaking. He followed the sound. He got there. He stood a little distance away. Some people were there. They saw him. He stood there. One motioned to him to come over and asked what he wanted. He replied that he wanted to watch what they were doing. They motioned him in. He came forward and lifted the log which acted as the door (the gate) and entered. They placed him at the south of the “door” next to a woman. The leader of the meeting was the one who invited him in. He sat there and watched what they were doing. Right in there they had a wooden bowl. The peyote was mashed up in there with water. Some drank of this. And they had buttons in there too for those who wanted to use the buttons. They had the peyote both ways. When the peyote was passed, it began at the door with the woman at the south. The Lipan did not take any. He was just there to visit and watch. No matter who asked for it or where he sat, the bowl or the buttons had always to be passed from the southeast around to him. All the ground had been swept clean, and all over the ground was covered with sage. These people who were carrying on this ceremony were the Carrizo. They were not in a tipi but in a clearing out in the open.

The fire was in the center. A big peyote was back of this, to the west of it. Sticks were laid around to form a little circle which stood for the tipi. The men were all naked except for a gee-string. The two women at the door were dressed differently. The one at the south of the door was covered with a red blanket. It was fastened at the top with a red feather of a flicker. The woman on the north side of the door also had a red blanket, but it was fastened at the top with a woodpecker’s feather. The leader sat in back, at the west. Toward morning he told his men, “All right now. We have a visitor here. He came here to see what we are doing. Now all you men do your best; do it in the right way. Do no foolish things, so that when he goes home to his people he will tell them what we saw and what we did in a good way.” They were getting visions now. The Lipan was watching pretty closely. The leader told his men to entertain the Lipan with their power. The leader began to do it himself too. He knelt down. He breathed hard four times and the fourth time out of his mouth came downy feathers. They floated around and covered the inside. The Lipan could hardly see the people in there. He watched and pretty soon, while all the other feathers were in the air, just one feather fell to the ground. The leader sucked in his breath just once and all the feathers except this one which was on the ground came back into his mouth. The leader made a sign to the Lipan to take that one on the ground. He said, “Keep it. Some day when your people eat peyote like this you can use it. It will remind you of me, your friend.”After the leader did the magical trick with the feathers, the other men did all sorts of magical tricks. One made a bear appear, another a turtle, another a buffalo. They did many wonderful things, more than we could mention. Among the Carrizo the peyote leader speaks. He says, “I’m going to hold a meeting tonight.” Then he takes charge of it and sees that all goes in the right way. It is just like a man holding a party. He has charge of it then. It was this kind of a man who showed the Lipan all about peyote. He was the leader, the one who arranged the meeting. The Lipan learned it from these people, the Carrizo.


After he got back, the Lipan kept his knowledge secret. Finally, someone noticed that he was eating peyote and told him he was eating something very dangerous. Then he told the people of his knowledge and they began to use it. Since then it has been known by the Lipan. The Mescalero already had the ceremony before I came here to the Mescalero Reservation. The Mescalero used to go down and meet the Lipan. That is how it started. They got it from the Lipan. The Lipan learned it from the Carrizo before they had had any experience with white people or Mexicans. They were by themselves then. The Tonkawa got it from the Carrizo people too. The eastern tribes hardly know how to use peyote. They got it recently. They use dancing songs in there now. The Tonkawa tell of a time some Indians from the north came with peyote. The Tonkawa already knew it, but they kept quiet. These Indians said, “Let’s put up a ceremony.” “What kind?” “Oh, a medicine ceremony.” “With what?” “Peyote.” Then they had a big meeting. The northern people said, “It’s this way, this way.” They started with their gourd and drum. But they could not do much. The songs were about half and half. It did not sound like much. Then it was the turn of a Tonkawa to sing. They did it right. They shook the rattle. They sang four songs in the right way. The others were ashamed. They stopped at midnight and went on their way." Peyote has a history of being used for more than just the mystical states that its ingestion inspired and it was considered by many indigenous people as a form of deity itself, literally, 'God's Flesh', as such, it was subject to protection and worship.8 It is seen as a deeply acting 'good medicine' that has both spiritual implications as well as physical ones. Historically, peyote has been used medicinally by at least 15 different tribal groups for conditions such as snakebites, rheumatism, cramps, hemorrhage, headaches, diabetes, pulmonary diseases, skin diseases and fevers.10 There is a long and consistent history of peyote ingestion by women during childbirth.11 The legends of several indigenous North

American people hold that, during times of war, the elders of tribal groups would ingest peyote to prophesy about the enemy's location and strategy, while warriors would wear peyote buttons on their person as protective amulets.12 These manifestations represent an older complex of tribal beliefs that stand in contrast to the more modern, but related, beliefs that currently predominate the doctrine of the Native American Church. Within this older peyote complex of beliefs, peyote is one element of a yearly, seasonal, cycle of religious activity that is centered around the tribal community.6 Medicinal and spiritual use of peyote was well established at the time of the Spanish Conquest. Specifically medicinal usage to treat injuries and improve stamina for work and distance running was first observed and described by the invading Spaniard, Francisco Javier Alegre, among the Tarahumara people before the turn of the 17th century.13 In 1894, Lumholtz wrote more extensively about the religious significance of peyote and other medicinal cacti of the Tarahumara and Huichol people.14 Bennett and Zingg added additional information and remark on the fact that Cactus veneration reaches its height among the Tarahumara, who reportedly also ascribe magical or medicinal qualities to various species of Mammilaria and Ariocarpus (the genus that now includes peyote), Epithelantha, and Pelecyphora, as well as other unidentified species of cactus.15 The most extensive descriptions of tribal peyote use prior to the Native American Church come from the Tarahumara and the Huichol people. ! The Tarahumara conduct a seasonal pilgrimage to a traditional peyote collecting area near the mouth of the Rio Conchos in northeastern Chihuahua. The journey usually involves 20-30 men who are ritually purified with copal incense before departure from the community. When the party reaches the collecting ground, they refrain from speech and eat only pinole (powdered corn meal). A cross is put up near the first plants found, symbolizing the sacred center within the four directions. Only the tops of the cacti are removed, the roots are left in the ground. The pilgrims consume fresh peyote over the harvesting period of several days, taking shifts


so that some are sleeping while others are collecting. Under the influence of the peyote, the pilgrims hear beautiful singing from the unharvested plants in the field, which helps the harvesters to locate them. At night, they build a fire near the cross and conduct a sacred dancing rite. When the men return to the village with their harvested plants, a ritual fiesta takes place. The fresh peyote buttons are dried on a blanket under a cross with the blood of a sacrificed goat or sheep sprinkled over them to 'feed' them. A feast is prepared with the meat of the sacrificed animal, accompanied by tesvino (a fermented corn beer) and fresh peyote tea. A curing ceremony is performed in which each pilgrim receives a spoonful of agua-miel, sotoli or mezcal alcohol ferment into which they will dip a necklace of Job's Tears seeds (Coix lachryma-jobi) and then participate in an all-night dancing ritual. During the rest of the year, at prescribed times and based on community need, the dried peyote buttons will be used for ceremony, in which case, the peyote is made into a thick, pulpy liquid made by grinding the peyote on a metate with water. The rituals generally last all night and involve group dancing of a ritually prescribed style, end with curing ceremonies and a feast. Interestingly, one of the central elements of these Tarahumara rituals involves the use of a special 'rasping stick' that is rubbed on a gourd cup like a metronome to keep steady time. The holder of the stick sits on the west side of the ceremonial fire with his assistants and draws a circle around a cross on the ground with a peyote button in the middle and the gourd cup is placed inverted over it to serve as a resonator. A notched stick is then placed over the gourd and the rasping stick is rubbed against it to create the desired tempo and tone...the peyote is said to enjoy the sound and the music. Near the end of the ceremony, the rasping stick is wetted in decoctions of Agave (maguey), ohnoa root, and/ or palo hediondo (a member of the caper family), and drawn across or rasped across the head of the patient as part of the healing ritual. ! The Huichol religion involves a yearly calendar of rituals with the most important being the peyote hunt, which occurs in the autumn and involves a 300 mile pilgrimage to their ancestral

collecting area in Wirikuta in San Luis Potosi. The pilgrimage is a solemn and austere event that involves many hardships and a reenactment of mythic events which represent a symbolic return to an original primordial state. It requires ritual purity and, if the hunt is successful, ensures the success of the tribe for the coming year. The number of participants can be anywhere from 8-17 people, of any age and any gender who abstain from meat and salt and sexual activity for the duration of the experience. There is a ritual of confession prior to the journey which involves, especially, confessing to sexual indiscretions. Each confession is symbolized by a knot tied in a ceremonial cord which is burned at the end of the ceremony. Sacrifices of food to the tribal deities are made just prior to embarking on the journey. The traditional route represents a sacred geography with various regions which are considered sacred because they played a role in the first mythic peyote hunt. Appropriate ritual activities take place at these special places, for example, first time participants are required to wear blindfolds for the first part of the journey up to a point referred to as 'Where Our Mother Dwells' where they are initiated in sacred waters and are then able to continue without a blindfold. All of the participants engage in a ritual bathing at this spot and fill their gourds with water for ritual needs later in the trip. !


Once the pilgrims arrive in Wirikuta, the hunt begins with the peyote being symbolized as a deer and the first one being shot on all four sides with a bow and arrow. The hunters pray to the spirit of the dying 'deer' not to be angry, and they make offering of tortillas, tobacco and water-filled gourds along with colorful wax and wool portraits on boards which are burnt. The Huichol story of the first peyote hunt holds that when the original ancestors first arrived in Wirikuta, they saw a deer that took five steps and disappeared. In each of the five footprints grew a peyote cactus which, according to the myth, enabled the ancestors to 'find their lives' which initiated a balance in human existence and helped create order out of chaos. Five is a sacred number of completeness to the Huichol and five ribbed peyotes are considered the most sacred. The harvest lasts for several days and, like the Tarahumara, they only harvest the tops of the plants and leave the taproot to survive and grow back. At night, there is ritual storytelling, singing, dancing and peyote eating around the ceremonial fire. Interestingly, the participants engage in a conversational use of formally reversed designations or figures of speech to emphasize the sacred nature of the event; peyote is continually referred to as 'deer', that it's flesh is sweet rather than bitter, participants claim to be well fed or 'full', even though they are on a rigorous fast, hot means cold, and earth means

sky. The participants eat nothing but peyote on the return journey and engage in a 3-6 day deer hunt where whatever deer they kill will provide the meat for the homecoming feast and whose blood will ensure the coming of the rains for the next year's crop. The deer meat is dried and strung along cords with the peyote (similar to the 1000 year old corded specimens from Coahuila) and once all of the peyote and deer meat is strung, the participants bathe and ritually end the pilgrimage. The homecoming feast is a three day event that typically happens in January, the blood of the ritually hunted deer is necessary for the planting of the maize and ensuring the rain, this festival is often the only time during the cycle of the year that peyote is ritually consumed by the entire community. ! Standing in stark contrast to this tribal Mexican peyote complex is the northern, intertribal, form of peyote ceremonial practice that is practiced by the Native American Church. This newer form of peyotism has become a reservoir of traditional native belief and ritual as well as a syncretism with Christianity. It represents a social, psychological and religious buffer against the devastating loss of cultural heritage and identity which resulted from the intrusion of European colonizers. When the Spanish first encountered peyote use in the Americas in the early 1600's, they looked upon the practice as an example of the savagery of a people desperately in need of civilizing. Christianity was the blunt civilizing instrument for most of the European colonizers who sought to exploit the rest of the world's resources while working to 'save the souls' of the previous inhabitants. This conversion ideology situated Christianity as a superior religious culture and became the blueprint for the first peyote laws and the rationale for all later peyote legislation. The Roman Catholic church banned peyote use during the Inquisition in 1620 and the first written prohibition against peyote use was steeped in Catholic canonical law. The Christian missionaries' conversion crusade in the Americas is a well-documented attempt at genocide and enslavement of the native people while decimating native religions with enforced Christian standards. The missionaries did succeed in converting a critical mass of the


surviving native population...and inadvertently acted as a catalyst in the spread of peyote use through the tribes of the North American Plains.

In order to accelerate native assimilation and deculturization, Christian missionaries established boarding schools where Native American children were forced to adopt the values of white Christian society instead of their own tribal heritage. These boarding schools were legendarily cruel institutions that became a meeting ground for Natives from different tribes and localities, and many of the students, who would have had no other chance to meet, formed inter-tribal friendships. By teaching the Native American children English, a common language through which to communicate, these Christian missionaries enabled a cultural exchange that was unprecedented in the Americas. Boarding schools became an intertribal zone that classified all Native Americans as 'Indians' and where a 'pan-Indian' ideology evolved and subjects like peyote were discussed and even ingested. Christianization diminished those factors that traditionally kept Native tribes separate, such as location, language and cultural norms; a growing anti-establishment, anti-Christian, resentment grew into two major pan-Indian movements, the Ghost Dance and Peyotism. ! The Ghost Dance emerged from a broader messianic movement that offered a supernatural solution to the subordination of Native

Americans by their white colonizers. Beginning as a reaction to the loss of frontier land, the Ghost Dance incorporated a Northern Paiute and a Northwest Plateau belief that group dancing would result in the second coming of Jesus Christ, who would resolve social injustice by removing the white settlers from tribal lands. The US government perceived the Ghost Dance as a militant threat and reacted by banning the ceremony and threatening violence against its participants. On December 29, 1890, a congregation of Lakota people at Wounded Knee, in South Dakota, performed a Ghost Dance in defiance of the governmental ban. This resulted in the cold-blooded massacre of almost 300 unarmed Native people, including men, women and children at Wounded Knee. This tragedy effectively ended the Ghost Dance era9 but allowed the peyote movement to thrive in the absence of a pan-Indian alternative. During this time, the peyote ceremony adopted a more formulaic approach that included songs, prayers and introspective contemplation, with peyote being deified as well as ingested communally. The importance of the social infrastructure and communication network that the Ghost Dance movement created in the spread of the Peyote movement cannot be overstated. The importance of the Wounded Knee massacre continues to hold a prominent place in the hearts and minds of the native populations of the Northern Plains. Within the span of a few decades, these autonomous, 'free' people had been effectively subjugated by an invading over-culture that demoralized them by reducing their population through disease, war, and massacre, destroying the natural world and animals that they had come to depend on for their way of life, undermining their spiritual practices through forced conversion to Christianity and confinement to reservation lands that were, often, not even their ancestral homelands. Peyote was not just a plant sacrament, it was the embodiment of a continental history, it represented a doorway into another realm of experience that was uniquely North American, uniquely indigenous, and, in the face of extreme oppression, brought a people together in a way that could not be denied by the dominating overculture. It represented a way for a population of


people whose rights and freedoms were being overtly constrained and removed to remain wild and free in a wholly unique and spiritually connected way. !

Native leaders like the Comanche chief, Quanah Parker, recognized that in order to have a say in their own future use of this plant sacrament, they would have to present the peyote ceremony as a legitimate religion so that it could be afforded legal protection under the 1st and 14th amendments of the Constitution. Quanah was regarded as an assimilationist among Native people and had learned the hard lesson of a subculture subjugated by an overculture, he ensured that the new religion incorporated elements of Christianity. By promoting peyotism as similar to Christianity, its adherents could argue against the widespread belief that peyotism was not a legitimate religion. The Native American Church proactively and strategically utilized elements of Christianity in both its structure and content and, on October 10, 1918, signed and verified its charter in Oklahoma as a peyote religion of Christian syncretism.9 !

The Native American Church has established a standardized format for their peyote ceremony that is very different from the Mexican tribal peyote religions previously discussed, it is in a form that was not observed until the 1880s with tribes on the Oklahoma Reservation. Weston La Barre states, "The Plains rites... derive from the Mescalero Apache (whence the diffusion traces back to the Lipan and Tonkawa through the Carrizo perhaps to Tamaulipecan groups)".12 The Kiowa, Comanche, and Caddo in western Oklahoma became the primary sources of its diffusion, primarily through the work of charismatic leaders like Quanah Parker, who sought to promote the religion in an evangelical fashion. !

The Kiowa Apache used peyote medicinally before 1875, according to one account; its religious veneration came later with Mescalero or Lipan influence. The ethnologist James Mooney, who was instrumental in helping the Native American Church gain its Oklahoma charter reported that the Kiowa learned about

ritual peyote use from a Mescalero group. He tells the story of Kiowa raiding party on its way to a Mescalero camp, where they happened to be holding a peyote meeting. Through peyote's divinatory power, the leader of the meeting foresaw the approach of the Kiowas. In a gesture of magnanimity, he invited the enemies into the meeting and presented them with peyote and ritual props.12 The Comanche have a similar story, but it involves the White Mountain Apache. Shawnee informants have claimed the cactus was known and used to relieve fatigue and hunger and to moisten the mouth when drycamping, before the peyote ritual was adopted from the Comanche in the late 1890s. The Wichita had peyote as an item in a medicine bundle before they acquired the religion. suggests a "developmental Anderson13 sequence" in which the old Mexican tribal peyote complex influenced the formation of the plains rite through a transitional Mescalero peyotism. The rival nature of peyotism between different practitioners and an absence of Christian syncretism distinguished the Mescalero rite, which never seems to have evolved into a regular group activity, however, some elements of the ritual begin to become more and more regular occurrences, like the "diagnostic earth altar" that is present in those ceremonies. La Barre states, "On the whole, the standard plains ceremony appears to have taken shape among the Lipan-Mescalero".12 It probably diffused to the Caddo first and then to the Osage, Quapaw, and Delaware. The Kiowa and Comanche became the most important tribes in the diffusion of the religion. "We might call the Kiowa the original standardizers and teachers, who have departed only in the most minute ways from earlier forms; the Comanche the proselytizers and missionaries of the new religion."12 ! An interesting side-bar in this process of the evolution of the Peyote ceremony is the older Plains tribal ceremony of the Mescal Bean, also known as the Wichita Dance, Deer Dance, Whistle Dance or Red Medicine Society, all of which contain ritual elements that were later incorporated into the Peyote Ritual of the Native American Church.17,18


What makes this sidebar interesting, to my mind, is the central plant sacrament, the mescal bean, also known as the Mountain Laurel, Sophora secundiflora, which is, incidentally, not made into mescal, does not contain mescaline and is also not a laurel. The mescal bean is a small tree with leathery evergreen leaves with seven to eleven leaflets. It has beautiful violetblue flowers that grow in clusters and is commonly used as a landscape plant in the American southwest. The fruit pods are short, thick and woody with deep constrictions between each bean. The pod contains from 1-8, and usually 3-4, beans, which are 12-14 mm in diameter and have a very hard protective outer covering which are maroon to scarlet in color. The pods are indehiscent, those from an earlier season are still present on the tree while it is in bloom. The mescal beans have an interesting alkaloid profile that includes sophorine, also known cytisine, an acetylcholine agonist with strong binding affinity for the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor. As a prescription drug, it was initially marketed in Bulgaria in 1964 and has been available in eastern Europe for more than 40 years as an aid to stop smoking. As a plant medicine, the beans are prepared by removing their hard outer shell and soaking them in water and then swallowing, they provide a strong nicotine-like effect that has some interesting hallucinatory impact not found with most tobacco products. This plant sacrament is also deadly, like nicotine containing plants, so caution is the better part of valour. Here is where the story gets profoundly interesting, to my mind, as we return to the beginning of our peyote tale and talk about the earliest human peyote usage in the Shumla Caves of the Rio Grande Valley in Texas dated to 3700 BCE. It turns out that these caves may have been inhabited as long ago as 7500 BCE and as recently as 200 AD, and that over 100 mixed specimens of mescal beans and Mexican buckeye seeds (Ungnadia speciosa) litter the area in an assemblage that "certainly suggests ritual use of the mescal bean."18 This may well be another conversation as both of these plants have a relative degree of toxicity, some hallucinogenic potential and they make nice looking, durable beads. It is hard to say why humans collected as

many as they did and that we now find them in dwellings that are almost 10,000 years old. The point of this sidebar is to say that humans have understood the importance of altered states of consciousness for a very, very long time and ceremonial use of consciousness altering substances predates any kind of actual recorded history. The Peyote ceremony likely had a precursor ritual form that stretched back through the mists of time and human memory, and, at least for those tribes that lived outside of its natural range, centered on hallucinogens that were local to those communities. Why is this at all important? I would propose that the set of personal and cultural expectations involved in the ingestion of a powerful psychedelic represent a large part of the set and setting and determine the ways in which the experience unfolds. Here we have a strong mind-altering substance that is apt to have some degree of unpredictable action on the participants of this ceremony. The more one can control the variables in the process, the more one can create a predictable atmosphere through singing particular songs in a certain way, in a certain order, introducing other plants like tobacco, or specific foods, seating arrangements, the myriad of ways in which one establishes a sacred space all have an impact on how the experience is able to progress. This can be scary business, holding to the format of previous experiences provides a modicum of safe predictability, it also honors the ancestors and invites them to participate in a ritual that is familiar to them, it invokes their presence when we walk in their footsteps. ! The importance of the Comanche in the diffusion of the Plains Ceremony is due, in large part, to the peyote ministry of Quanah Parker, who stands as an excellent example of the kind of peyote leader whose evangelism helped spread the religion. Quanah was the child of a white mother, who had been captured and adopted in her childhood, and a Comanche father. Early in his life, he was a strict traditionalist, generally opposed to Native peyote use. In 1884, after the US Army had eliminated the buffalo in his homeland and captured the last of his Comanche war-band, his mother's family brought him to their ranch to learn the cattle business in Texas.


As the story goes, and there are several versions, he fell ill with what seems to have been a sickness caused by cultural deprivation, or a depression related to the destruction of the only way of life that he and his tribe had ever known. He could not or would not eat, did not like sleeping inside, and became sleep deprived and emaciated. As one version of the story goes, his grandmother brought a Curandera to see him and she used a peyote tea which ultimately cured his illness and created an epiphany for him about the power of this 'Good Medicine'. He began to enthusiastically initiate his friends and family, first among the Comanche, then other tribes such as the Kiowa and Kickapoo. One of the reasons suggested for the magnitude of his influence is the fact that he combined a religious life with economic success, becoming the wealthiest Native American of his time. In addition to spreading the Comanche peyote rite far and wide, Quanah composed many peyote hymns which are still sung today. In 1908, testimony from Quanah before a government committee was instrumental in the repeal of Oklahoma's anti-peyote law of 1899. A famous quote about peyote is attributed to Quanah: "The white man . . . goes into his church house and talks about Jesus, but the Indian goes into his tipi and talks to Jesus". A sentiment which speaks to the first-person nature of immersive spiritual experience, peyote invokes just such a subjective experience of mysticism that is overpowering and unmistakably personal. The traditional Christian didactic of sitting in the pews and listening to a sermon by an authority figure is decidedly third person and far more objectively removed from the subjective experience of first hand mysticism. This is an important point, the peyote ceremony not only reconnected a subjugated Native population with their ancestors and a collective memory of relative freedom and independence, it also allowed a momentary immersion in what Quanah referred to as an essential and beautiful wildness that characterized the life that was forcibly taken from his people. “The first generations of Comanches in captivity never really understood the concept of wealth, of private property. The central truth of their lives

was the past, the dimming memory of the wild, ecstatic freedom of the plains, of the days when Comanche warriors in black buffalo headdresses rode unchallenged from Kansas to northern Mexico, of a world without property or boundaries. What Quanah had that the rest of his tribe in the later years did not was that most American of human traits: boundless optimism.�19 Where that optimism came from is hard to say exactly, it seems to me that Quanah's peyote experience represented a turning point for his optimism. Consider the importance of the preservation of a historically important ceremony that provided the opportunity for a 'rewilding' of a Native population that also had a deeply spiritual significance for each individual participant while providing a connection to their ancestors. It was a game changer; exploring the frontiers of life inspire optimism, novel experiences that promise new depths of meaning and a different sense of purpose reinvigorate one's soul and sense of purpose. The psychedelic experience represents just such a frontier within the space of one's own consciousness. It is an experience that produces a depth of understanding and perception that shines a light on the relative superficiality of modern life and shifts awareness to a place of deeper meaning. ! The primary cultural sources of the Native American Church ceremony, broadly speaking, are probably the old peyote complex of Mexico and southern plains ceremonialism, both of which show many continuities with the NAC peyote rite. Underhill suggested the Kiowa ceremony of the sacred stones as a source for the crescent-shaped 'diagnostic' earth altar of the peyote rite.16 La Barre has cited several older Kiowa ritual patterns which correspond to the peyote rite, such as the smoking ceremony of the Old Women's Society. Other features, such as the drum and rattle, the feather fans, and white sage and cedar for purification, are part of many Plains tribal traditions. Vision-seeking, suffering to learn, and animistic powers residing in natural objects are not exclusive to Plains people but seem universally present in many indigenous cosmologies.


There are numerous similarities of belief between the NAC and the Mexican tribal peyote practices. The story of how the Apache leader foresaw the approach of a Comanche war party recalls peyote's use in warfare and divination, as described in the accounts of the early Mexican tribal chroniclers. In both Mexico and the Plains, peyote is hailed as an unsurpassed 'Good Medicine' by virtue of its inherent properties and ascribed powers. La Barre cites many elements common to both Plains and Mexican peyote ritualism, including the procurement pilgrimage, the nocturnal meeting time, the fetish peyote, feathers and bird symbolism, the ceremonial fire and incensing, etc. The Tarahumara peyote rituals, with the shaman and his assistants sitting west of ceremonial fire, the central placement of the peyote button in the center of the cross and the rasping stick and other instruments seem to foreshadow similarities to the NAC ceremony. The point is that the current manifestation of NAC Peyote Ceremony is, itself, a syncretism of tribal beliefs that represent a large span of North American indigenous populations across both space and time. ! This rich body of beliefs endow peyote with many desirable characteristics that make it such a culturally important plant sacrament. Peyote is seen to have a sentience and an agency that allows it to guard its own interests, and reward or punish its follower, it can protect one from many dangers and reward one with power, knowledge, or good luck. If one does not properly heed the peyote way, there is an inherent accountability with the way that the flow of one's life will proceed. The communal nature of the peyote meeting provides its own special social incentive for attending. Sometimes public confession of sins is a feature of the meeting, an effective mechanism for the liquidation of anxieties. Peyote figures in many stories of personal conflict resolution and moral victory. However, one of the most convincing appeals to the individual lies in the very nature of the peyote intoxication which is a specifically hallucinogenic experience that is characterized by a feeling of the personal significance of external and internal stimuli. The user is prompted to ask of everything, 'What does this

mean?' and is prompted to process through the experience an answer that leads to a greater sense of wonder, awe, and sense of purpose. Peyote is a spiritually important sacrament in allowing an individual to receive solutions to personal problems in the form of personal revelations. This noetic quality of the peyote experience helps make it extremely personal and impressive to the individual.

San Pedro, Trichocereus pachanoi/peruvianus, is a cactus native to the Andes Mountains of Peru and Ecuador. It has a long history of use spanning 3,000 years in traditional Andean medicine. In South America, it is also known as Huachuma. The earliest archaeological evidence discovered is a stone carving of a Huachumero found at the Jaguar Temple of Chavín de Huantar in northern Peru, dated to 1300 BCE. Textiles from the same region and period of history depict the cactus with jaguars and hummingbirds, two of its guardian spirits, and with spiral symbols, likely representing its ability to produce a transcendent visionary experience.   Huachuma   ceremonies where the cactus is consumed as a tea are still carried on in


the present day much as they have been for generations. These ceremonies are considered to be able to help cure illnesses of a spiritual, emotional, mental, or physical nature. Often, the ceremony provides a window of illumination into the future through a subjectively prophetic and divinatory interaction with the plant, with the ritual consumption assisting one to overcome sorcery or saladera, to ensure success in one's ventures, to rekindle love and enthusiasm for life and to experience the world as a divinely inspired landscape. According to native traditions, the San Pedro cactus brings in the masculine energy of the Heavens (from above), in contrast to Ayahuasca, which brings in the feminine energy of Mother Earth (from below). One Andean shaman describes some of the effects of the plant: "First, a dreamy state‌ then great visions, a clearing of all the faculties‌ and then detachment, a type of visual force inclusive of the sixth sense, the telepathic state of transmitting oneself across time and matter, like a removal of thoughts to a distant dimension". San Pedro is regarded as a teacher of great compassion and understanding, showing

humans how to live in balance and harmony and how to love, respect, and honor all living beings. It reveals to us that we are children of light, by allowing us to perceive this light within us. Each person's experience is wholly unique, as we are all individual beings. Drinking San Pedro is a personal journey of discovery, of the self and the universe, in contrast to Peyote, which is a more communal experience. ! The cultural issues surrounding Trichocereus seem far less controversial than those around peyote use...interestingly, both of these cacti possess similar alkaloidal constituents, both have a very long history of use in the Americas, and they both inspire similar social and cultural urges in the lives of the indigenous people whose evolution has been impacted by them. Because the Trichocereus ceremony has evolved into a much more personal event, its ritual use does not hold to a traditional format, rather, each practitioner follows the lead of those they have apprenticed with and the direction of the spirit of the cactus when under its influence. In most cases, the plant is sliced and boiled in water,


often with other plant materials added to the brew. The cactus is boiled for anywhere from 2-7 hours, some of the traditional plants that are added to the brew include Datura brugmansia, Lycopodium spp, Passiflora spp, Valeriana spp, Tillandsia spp, and Ipomoea. Cannabis, Erythroxylon coca, Banisteriopsis caapi and Peganum harmala are relatively more recent introductions into brews. Each practitioner or huachumera/huachumero has their own special concoction that they prepare for specific occasions. Tobacco is a very commonly associated plant sacrament with Trichocereus and is often applied as a nasal administration as well as smoke and in the brew. Many traditional huachumeras/huachumeros also use an altar or mesa, which is unique to the practitioner but often includes power objects that

are of importance to the practitioner divided into three sections, the left side is considered the negative, the field of darkness, and is used to diagnose a problem. The right side is the positive side, the field of light and is used to divine, or intuit, the healing treatments. The middle section is the field of balance which reveals whether the healing can be done and where and when it is done.20 ! The traditional uses for Trichocereus ceremony include the healing of diseases, mental and physical, and reinforcing the spiritual aspects of a person's being. Plant journeys may be undertaken to break curses or hexes or to find joy, purpose and enthusiasm for life, and to find love. The regular consumption of Trichocereus is believed to provide people with visionary powers to help see through the world's many illusions. 21


The relationship between humans and psychedelic agents is, perhaps, one of our oldest and, potentially, one of the most important of the evolutionary triggers that has allowed us to become the philosophically and spiritually inclined social primates that we are today...or maybe it was the opposable thumbs. Mescaline is found in a number of different plant agents, notably the cacti that we have already discussed as well as the Fabaceae species of legumes. It is, more technically, 3,4,5Trimethoxyphenethylamine and was first isolated and identified in 1897 by the German chemist Arthur Heffter and then first synthesized in 1919 by Ernst Späth. Alexander Shulgin, in his work PiHKAL (Phenethylamines I Have Known And Loved) describes the particular chemistry of mescaline in a profoundly beautiful way and, as he describes it, it is one of the most important phenethylamine compounds with psychedelic activity. Mescaline is not habit-forming and the desire to use it can actually decrease with use. It is most often selfregulating and tolerance to its effects are built almost immediately after ingestion. After that, it takes about 3 days for the tolerance to be reduced to half and 7 days to be back at baseline. Interestingly, Mescaline also presents cross-tolerance with all psychedelics, meaning that after the consumption of mescaline all psychedelics will have a reduced effect. A usual dose of mescaline is 200-400 mg and it is an amphetamine, so, unpredictable reactions such as anxiety, paranoia, delusions and psychosis can occur, particularly among those predisposed to psychiatric disorders. While these negative reactions or "bad trips" can often be attributed to factors like user inexperience or improper preparation of set and setting, they have been known to happen spontaneously among even the most experienced of users as well. ! Lophophora williamsii, as dried peyote buttons, contain 3-6% mescaline, as well as other psychoactively important alkaloids that serve to punctuate and modify the experience produced by consuming the whole plant. A peyote

experience differs significantly from a pure mescaline experience. A peyote button is formed by severing the top of the peyote cactus from its taproot and allowed to dry, each peyote button yields approximately 25 mg mescaline in addition to its associated alkaloids, it takes 8-12 peyote buttons to initiate a moderately strong psychedelic experience. Given that this is a very slow growing cactus, the biological cost of a peyote experience is quite high, per person, for the plant material. It is consumed as a dry button...very, very dry or as a bitter tea. Trichocereus pachanoi, dried San Pedro chlorenchyma (the chlorophyll containing green portion of the cactus interior found just under the waxy cuticle) contains 2-4% mescaline as well as the other psycho-actively important alkaloids. Dosage is 10-100 grams of dried material that is prepared by peeling the outer waxy skin and then cutting the green chlorenchyma away from the paler central parenchyma and then allowing it to air dry, it can be powdered or eaten as is, it will generally cause vomiting and is usually chopped up or sliced and cooked down for several hours. Seldom is it prepared by itself, as has already been mentioned, it is part of a larger concoction of brewed agents.


A summarization of some of the 'Magical Cacti' and their expected mescaline content: Lophophora williamsii (Peyote), dried, mescaline 3-6% (25 gm/button) Echinopsis pachanoi (syn. Trichocereus pachanoi), dried cortex, mescaline 0.1-2.5% Echinopsis peruviana (syn. Trichocereus peruvianus), Mescaline 0.0005%-0.12% Echinopsis lageniformis (syn. Trichocereus bridgesii aka Bolivian torch), Mescaline 0.025%-2%, 3,4-Dimethoxyphenylethylamine 1%, 3-Methoxytyramine 1%, Tyramine 1% Echinopsis scopulicola (syn. Trichocereus scopulicola), trace Mescaline Echinopsis spachiana (syn. Trichocereus spachianus), trace Mescaline Echinopsis macrogona (syn. Trichocereus macrogonus), Mescaline 0.01-0.05% Echinopsis tacaquirensis subsp. taquimbalensis (syn. Trichocereus taquimbalensis), 0.005-0.025% Mescaline Echinopsis terscheckii (syn. Trichocereus terscheckii, Trichocereus werdemannianus) Mescaline 0.01%-2.375% Echinopsis valida, Mescaline 0.025% Opuntia acanthocarpa, trace Mescaline Opuntia basilaris, Mescaline 0.01%, plus 4hydroxy-3-5-dimethoxyphenethylamine Austrocylindropuntia cylindrica (syn. Opuntia cylindrica) trace Mescaline Cylindropuntia echinocarpa (syn. Opuntia echinocarpa), Mescaline 0.01%, 3-4Dimethoxyphenethylamine 0.01%, 4Hydroxy-3-5-Dimethoxyphenethylamine 0.01% Cylindropuntia spinosior (syn. Opuntia spinosior), Mescaline 0.00004% Mescaline 0.00004%, 3-Methoxytyramine 0.001%, Tyramine 0.002%, 3-4-Dimethoxyphenethylamine. Pelecyphora aselliformis, Hordenine, trace Mescaline The cautions with such plant sacraments begin with the fact that these cacti contain amphetamine and methamphetamine analogs. They tend to increase anxiety states, they tend to speed up one's heart rate and increase blood pressure. Trichocereus is commonly married to an MAO inhibiting substance like Banisteriopsis caapi or Peganum harmala to potentiate its

physiological impact, which also tends to increase blood pressure in susceptible patients. People with a family or personal history of heart arrhythmias, hypertension, anxiety disorders and psychosis should be especially wary with stimulating plant sacraments as they can provoke panic and anxiety and I have seen more than a few people who had a psychotic break under the influence of psychedelic agents (mostly LSD) and they never returned to their previous baseline of sanity. People on prescription anti-depressant agents should likewise use caution as those medications are often increasing the circulating levels of neurotransmitters that are involved in the psychedelic process. What do we do about these situations should they arise in ceremony? Not much, unfortunately...although, as a healthcare practitioner, I try to provide people with options. I keep a lorazepam injection on hand, and I let participants know that it is available, which often allays their anxiety. I have asked participants who are in seeming crisis whether they want me to administer it, and they have always declined. I have never, in 22 years of doing this work, had to administer an injection like that as a result of an anxiety response or panic attack. Most people are in such a suggestible mind space during ceremony that they can be talked back to themselves. Such a strategy involves proper pacing of conversation, presence of mind and purposeful connection with the individual, as well as measures that we will discuss shortly. ! I consider the purposeful consumption of mescaline containing cacti an entheogenic sacrament that involves healing of the body, allows for psychological problem solving, and a spiritual awareness that are interrelated aspects of an overall healing process. The initial step in the process of creating this ceremony and ensuring a beneficial experience is to establish intention and purpose for the experience. One might ask one’s self, ‘What is my purpose in entering into this altered state of awareness?’ It is not uncommon for participants to approach the experience with fundamental existential and spiritual questions, such as ‘Who am I?’ or ‘what is my purpose or calling in life?’ Such open-


ended questions leave a certain randomness to the experience, I like to refine it with the participant or within myself by asking secondary, clarifying questions. Doing that prior to the experience better ensures that the best answers will be more forthcoming. Once an intention or purpose has been declared, I then encourage the participant to release all expectation. We are entering a frontier of human experience and it is impossible to control too much of such a process. At the same time, it is good to discuss any fears, doubts, or expectations that a participant may have towards the process. The more these things can be brought out of the shadows of the subconscious mind, the less likely they will spring up at inopportune times during the experience. The question of sexual feelings and expression between the people involved should be raised. If the relationship is a professional one, then the principle of no sexual contact should be discussed and affirmed. If the two people are friends who are not lovers, their feelings for each other should be stated and clarified. They are going to be in a state of extraordinarily heightened emotional intimacy for several hours. The state allows an unusual degree of access to fears, concerns, and frustrations in the area of intimacy. It is not advisable to use that state for the initiation of more ordinary sexual encounter. If two individuals are lovers, they may wish to use a conjoint session to explore deeper levels of emotional and sexual and spiritual intimacy, this is certainly a time when non-striving, noncraving, and non-possessive union can be experienced. The psychedelic experience is conducive to arousal for both males and females but makes orgasm more difficult for both, that doesn’t have to diminish the experience, after all, it is the deep connection that is most erotic and most satisfying in these circumstances. But for the more usual kind of session where someone is being initiated into an experience with an entheogenic medicine for the first time, for purposes of healing and psychospiritual awakening, an agreement or understanding of no sexual contact is preferable. As part of the discussion around this, it is important to also

agree that the physical touch of a hand on the heart, the shoulder, the head, or the hand can be an important source of support and encouragement and signals empathy or compassion but not sexual interest. Always worth considering is the establishment a meditation technique and a movement technique well before the experience begins. A meditation or relaxation practice allows one to enter into the altered state of consciousness from a baseline state that is already somewhat clear and centered and freed from distracting everyday concerns. The movement technique could be dancing, martial arts kata, yoga, and allows for something to do when the participant has spurts of restless energy that they need to direct into some process. I have even found sweeping floors to be a useful practice here. Some people like to have easy access to "power objects," such as crystals, feathers, or any object that has spiritual meaning to the session. Other options could include photographs of parents or family for contemplation or photographs of themselves to activate childhood memories. Musical instruments such as flutes, drums, or guitars are also conducive to a beneficial experience, as is recorded music, typically instrumental and not overbearing. One of our primarily goals is to make the journey predictable, productive and pleasant. I find music, incense and food ideal agents for ambience adjustment as the experience unfolds as they tend to be sensuous experiences that help alter the trajectory of an experience that suddenly takes a bad turn or just to augment one that needs a boost. It takes anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour for the cacti to begin taking effect, and the entire experience will last somewhere between 8-10 hours for most people. On occasion, it is useful to add other botanical agents to augment or adjust the experience. Attenuating the anxiety inducing potential of the experience can be done with the addition of other plant allies or antianxiety agents. Piper Methysticum (Kava), is a decent adjunct, as are Valeriana sitchensis (Sitka Valerian), Nardostachys willardii (Tagara) and Schisandra chinenis, in order to mitigate relative uneasiness. The amino acids Glycine and L-


Threonine are also potent anti-anxiety agents, dosed at 1000-3000 mgs per dose, which is about ½ tsp powder. The idea is that we are tempering the experience, flavoring it, if you will, with a few different players, in order to refine that psycho-spiritual impact. This is an art form and subject to the particular needs and orientation of the people involved. The preferred setting for experiences with therapeutic-entheogens is a safe, serene, simple, comfortable space in which the participant can recline or lie down and the guide can sit nearby. Clothes should be loose and comfortable, and a blanket should be available. I appreciate the presence of earth, air, fire and water; a fire in the fireplace, fresh water to drink and proximity to a stream or ocean with access to fresh air, so one can experience the unutterable preciousness and sweetness of the breath of life. Earth and its natural forms - soil, plants, trees, rocks, wood should also ideally be close to the touch. Trees or plants in or near the room of the experience make wonderful companions. Conducting the ritual outdoors, in nature, can also be quite profound, allowing the participants to experience a kind of deep emotional sense of connectedness and visceral bonding with the land, the plants, the rocks, the animals, and the environment generally. The choice of music played can have a profound effect on altered states of consciousness. Entire therapeutic processes can be facilitated during certain musical selections. Generally, I have found that serene, peaceful, instrumental music is most valuable in these experiences. Fast rhythmic or highly complex music seems too difficult to follow for most people; the overriding emotional response to the music is key‌ aggressive, driven music creates more contraction in the participant. Ambient music, acoustic guitar, drumming, and native American flute can be very soothing and helpful. Composers such as Carlos Nakai, Ennio Morricone, Kitaro, and the Baroque classics (Bach’s fugues are incredible in this state and can become all-consuming) are beyond helpful. Simple gongs, Tibetan singing bowls, bells, chimes, and drums are also pleasing and

centering during such experiences, whether one plays them or merely listens to them. The sensual nature of resonating sound in the altered state has a grounding and expanding impact on the participant. The attitude and behavior of the guide or sitter during the session is, of course, extremely influential. The role of sitter should be played with mindful integrity and deep sensitivity. Prior to the process, it is best to have agreement and understanding as to what the role of the sitter should be, including a therapeutic agreement to help explore any areas of particular concern, as needed. Most people prefer, and are perfectly able, to do their own best therapy in these altered states. They want the sitter merely to be there, meditating quietly, perhaps changing music, listening to and recording the remarks of the participant, and providing encouragement and reassurance as needed. Intense exploration of charged, sensitive issues like relationships, sexuality, death or birth trauma should only be undertaken by prior agreement and at the immediate request of the participant, that is, when and how it feels right to them at the time. This is not the time for the sitter to assert their perspective onto the participant or to prove any point; no matter how justified it may seem at the time. The best sitters are those who have experienced psychedelic states themselves. In this altered state of emotional openness and awareness, it is extremely easy for the participant to become caught up in an analytical, verbal mode of discussion with the guide that would take them away from the experience of introspective awareness. Even if the interpersonal interaction between the two is warm, affectionate, and trustful, it can still be a distraction from the deeper intra-psychic awareness that is possible when attention is focused inward. These shifts in attention are subtle and elusive. The wise guide will watch for signs that the voyager is losing his or her connection to the deep source within and will refocus attention toward that source. Sometimes simply asking the participant where they are "coming from" is sufficient for the re-centering of attention.


This is also where the sensuous act of drinking an herbal tea, or consuming an ice cold, sweet orange can bring a person back to themselves. Various forms of bodywork, and simply human touch can also achieve the same goal of recentering a person within themselves. The effects of touch will be altered and amplified, so a little bit goes a long way, finger pressure on the shoulder, for example, might be felt in the flow of connectedness all the way to the feet. I highly recommend Dr. Stanislav Grof’s work entitled “LSD Psychotherapy” (Hunter House, Pomona, CA, 1980) which, deals mainly with LSD, is generally applicable to all psychedelic experiences and provides essential guidance for anyone who thinks they might do this kind of work more than once. The questions, purposes, or agenda brought to the session, as discussed above, basically set the tone of the experience. Whatever unfolds during the experience seems to be, in a sense, an answer to those questions even though this may not become apparent until much later. The best initial advice to the participant is often to go as far and deeply within themselves as they can, to the core or ground of being, to some Higher Self, everpresent witness, transcendent awareness of Who they are at the most fundamental level. From this place of total centeredness, compassion and insight, one can then review and analyze the usual problems and questions of one's life. It is not uncommon for people to feel and report that all their questions and problems have been dissolved in the all-embracing love and compassion that they are feeling. Even with such an initial state of total unity and transcendence, it is often helpful later to ask the questions, and perhaps record one's answers or comments for post-session review. The psychedelic experience typically involves an almost total attenuation of the usual fear or anxiety reflexive responses, which allows for an unprecedented opportunity to explore traumatic memories or phobic reactions. We have to understand, though, that the fear reaction itself won’t be available in the usual manner, participants typically report, "I can't get in touch with the fear in the same way." There is no reason to push that further…we don’t need to

invoke that fear in this altered state, rather, we can create a sense of mindful awareness by exploring the usual fear arousing situation. Creating that narrative in the altered state is enough to associate the altered state with that situation, and, often, it is enough to simply have the conversation. Later on, even weeks after the psilocybin experience, the participant can reassess the fear arousal and purposely merge that fear complex with the ecstatic-empathic feeling invoked by the plant sacrament and potentially dissolve that entire reaction pattern. I have seen it happen on more than several occasions, this is the place where patients with PTSD can make real change in their quality of life. This is where we can help facilitate real and permanent change for people who are trapped in their own personal Hell that modern medicine cannot possibly medicate them out of or therapize them through any other way. I have witnessed, first hand, the miraculous impact that a measured, well thought out, psychedelic experience can have on someone with deep seated soul sickness like PTSD. In the same way that we purposely use affirmations or statements of intention at the beginning of the psychedelic process to bridge one's ordinary state of consciousness into the altered state, so can intentional affirmations be made during the altered state that would apply to the subsequently reestablished ordinary state of consciousness. Mescaline creates a unique peak experience that imbeds itself deeply into the neural and spiritual architecture of the nervous system. The empathy characteristic of these states is such that one can think clearly about the various options one has available without the usual distortions caused by emotional attractions or aversions. One can think and feel the emotional implications of different courses of actions and see them play out in the landscape of the mind. One can assess the likely emotional impact of things one might choose to say to themselves or others and modify one's expression so as to minimize the activation of defensive or hostile reactions. One can hear things without immediately getting hurt or angry, and one can say things without getting fearful or timid.


The psychedelic state can be described as one of release from normal emotional identification patterns or dis-identification from the Who that we usually are through re-identification with the transcendent Who that we have always been. We are creating a rare experience that allows a transformative and transcendent awareness to settle into consciousness and effect how that consciousness then deals with every day, mundane life experiences. Engaging the process mindfully and with a purposeful intent better ensures the most beneficial process possible and allows for a long-term impact on the trajectory of a person’s life. The ability of the transformative potential of the psychedelic experience to translate into a person’s everyday life is dependent on several variables. Again, the initial intention and purpose established at the beginning of the process is crucial to the after effects. The intention set before the experience affects the unfolding of the process and then the intention and purpose reaffirmed during the peak experience of the altered state affects the longterm outcomes. We are reconfiguring the architecture of the mind and intention functions as the bridge between states of consciousness. These are peak experiences that leave one with the ability to consciously recall elements of the altered state of consciousness - to do a kind of voluntary, purposeful "flashback." We can use physical "anchoring" techniques, such as listening to the same music that was played during the trip, to trigger a momentary reliving of the moment. Once a doorway is created into the mind, the option of future entry remains available through circumstance or conscious choice. This comes with a feeling of being empowered to make conscious choices about the direction of one's life and one's relationships, work, and creative pursuits. When one can empathically sense what the emotional consequences of one's choices will be, they can choose more mindfully where to direct their attention and focus of awareness. An enormous number of previously unconsidered possibilities lie open for those who have found themselves in this great gateway to the inner realms.

Generally, it takes 6 weeks after a psychedelic experience to reset the receptors in the nervous system so that the next experience has its full impact. There is almost a kind of psychic tolerance that develops over time that makes it more logical to try to have as strong an impact in the first few sessions as possible. This requires the insight of seasoned travelers with the kind of foresight and good intention that will allow the most beneficial remodeling of the neural landscape in the least amount of psychedelic experiences. In this way, this is an art form. It is a process that definitely comes to a place, for many people, of diminished returns and then it stops being beneficial. Some participants only require one mescaline experience and have made major life changes as a result of that experience. Others find they "need" perhaps three, four, or five sessions to clear out some basic problems like interpersonal or relationship "knots" and for more complete resolution of the effects chronic illness or deep-seated, early life, trauma. After that, they may find that the experience doesn't have the same dramatic impact. Empathogenic and entheogenic substances like San Pedro and Peyote cacti actively reunite the psychic connections between spirit, mind and body. This induces a far-reaching process that encourages physical healing, psychological problem solving and an increase in spiritual awareness. The temporary state changes that occur in an individual’s consciousness after ingestion of a psychedelic substance like mescaline, in a ritualized setting, is conducive to a change in attitude towards one’s ‘self’, physical and etheric, which facilitates the body’s own healing and regenerative processes. The psychological problem solving that results from a radical shift in perspective can help reframe beliefs in an experience that is often profoundly healing and carries with it deep spiritual implications. This realization of a spiritual core of being can be inherently healing and often affirming and empowering of the individual’s sense of agency and integrity, which often produces the byproduct of eroding the codependent associations with authority figures, including medical practitioners and reliance on external medicines.


Like so many other arenas of alternative medicine, we are not surprised when the medical research of the over-culture validates what we have seen and experienced first-hand in our personal practices. Unfortunately, such socio-cultural legitimization only serves to make our healing tools a commodity, after they are reduced to their “active constituent” which can be purified, standardized and fed to humans in a predictable manner. Is there value in such an approach? I used to think so, now I am far from sure about that. I have been using psychedelic substances personally and professionally for more than 20 years, I am a firm believer in their therapeutic impact, I have seen absolutely miraculous things happen in people’s lives after being introduced to these agents, I have also seen horrible tragedy take place in people’s lives from reckless and undisciplined use. Ideas of cultural appropriation are front and center in the continuing conversation about the appropriateness of these kinds of interventions. Without a doubt, the very best way to ensure the most productive and epiphany producing effect is by growing the cactus one's self, tending it, nurturing it, being present with it for some long period of time and then harvesting it in a sustainable and ethical way. The more that we are able to take such measures into our own hands, the more we are able to take personal control over our own spiritual and mental health. We may be able to learn a lesson from Quanah Parker in that...

References: 1. El-Seedi HR, De Smet PA, Beck O, Possnert G, Bruhn JG (October 2005). "Prehistoric peyote use: alkaloid analysis and radiocarbon dating of archaeological specimens of Lophophora from Texas". J Ethnopharmacol. 101 (1–3): 238–42. 2. Bruhn JG, Lindgren JE, Holmstedt B, Adovasio JM (March 1978). "Peyote Alkaloids: Identification in a Prehistoric Specimen of Lophophora from Coahuila, Mexico". Science. 199 (4336): 1437–1438.

3. Opler, Morris Edward (2008) [1938]. "The use of Peyote by the Carrizo and Lipan Apache tribes". American Ethnography Quasimonthly. Retrieved 19 January 2009. 4. Schultes, Richard Evans (2008) [1938]. "The appeal of peyote (Lophophora Williamsii) as a medicine". American Ethnography Quasimonthly. 5. Jan G. Bruhn and Bo Holmstedt, "Early peyote research: an interdisciplinary study", Economic Botany, Volume 28, Number 4, October 1973. 6. Slotkin, JS (1955) Peyotism, 1521-1891. American Anthropologist, 57(2), 202-230. 7. Juan Benito Mancias at http:// www.carrizocomecrudonation.com/culture.html accessed 04/15/2018. 8. Smith, H & Snake, R (1996) One Nation Under God: The Triumph of the Native American Church. Santa Fe, NM: Clear Light Publishers. 9. Stewart, OC (1987). Peyote Religion: A history (1st ed.). Norman:University of Oklahoma Press. 10. Furst, PT (1976) Hallucinogens and Culture. San Francisco, CA:Chandler and Sharp. 11. Mount, G (1993). The Peyote Book: A Study of Native Medicine (3rd ed.). Arcata, CA: Sweetlight books. 12. La Barre, W. (1989) The Peyote Cult (5th ed.). Norman: University of Oklahoma Press. 13. Anderson, EF (1980) Peyote: The Divine Cactus. Tucson: University of Arizona Press. 14. Lumhotz, C (1900) Symbolism of the Huichol Indians. Memoirs of the American Museum of Natural History 3:1-228. 15. Bennett, WC and Zingg, RM (1935) The Tarahumara, an Indian Tribe of Northern Mexico. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 16. Underhill, R (1952) Peyote. Proceedings of the 30th International Congress of Americanists, London: 143-148. 17. Howard, JH (1957) 'The Mescal Bean Cult of the Central and Southern Plains: An Ancestor of the Peyote Cult?' American Anthropologist, 59:75-87. 18. Campbell, TN (1958) Origin of the Mescal Bean Cult. American Anthropologist, 60:156-160. 19. Gwynne SC (2011) Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History. New York:Scribner. 20. Palau, A (2005) The Wisdom of San Pedro Shaman Eduardo Calderon Palomino. Shaman's Drum 69:15-19.


A Natural Health Education By Phyllis D. Light She was only a few weeks old when the bacteria invaded her body attacking her nervous system, spinal fluid and brain. Doctors offered little hope for her survival against the deadly salmonella meningitis that was the ultimate diagnosis. But her mother was determined that her daughter would live and so Mom became the auxiliary immune system to aid the antibiotic treatment that could help her daughter survival. Mom took the herbs, vitamins, minerals and other supplements to enriched her breast milk and passed this benefit to her ailing daughter. Every day for the first two weeks of infection the doctors offered no hope and were surprised that the child had lived one more day. Each day Mom continued to eat as healthy as possible and take her herbs and

supplements in hopes of the potential benefit. Another week passed and the doctors were beginning to offer a ray of light of her survival but cautioned with an array of potential damages, such as deafness, that was expected. Another week passed and the baby was gurgling like any other. Another week passed and then another. The doctors remarked that the baby had beat the odds, that she would live. Another week passed and Mom brought Baby home....no damages, no deafness, no handicaps. It was called a miracle. “This world is a comedy to those that think, a tragedy to those that feel.� –Horace Walpole No one ever knows when such a heartwrenching tragedy can strike. We can seemingly


be healthy one minute and flat on our backs in another. In the old days, an unfortunate illness might have been blamed on the “will of the gods” or a hex or an accident of fate or in payment for some sin or transgression that was perceived. Now we know that such illnesses may be caused by a bacterial invasion, nutritional deficiency, exposure to environmental toxins, genetics, or a combination of factors too complex to list here. Even though the knowledge of the causes of illness has changed, the application of remedies has changed very little. The science of medicine has brought two pluses to the brew of natural remedies and healing modalities that might be needed for healing..... antibiotics and diagnosis. You might argue, and you would be standing on solid ground, that science offers more than those two influences such as a multitude of prescription drugs and surgical techniques that can extend the life span. I would counter that yes, this may be true, and for many folks this might be an excellent management of their illness. But for others, this may have exactly the opposite effect causing debilitating side effects that diminish their interaction with family and society. What about quality of life? Is it enough just to be alive, a lump on a bed, requiring constant care? For me personally, that’s not enough. Quality of life is important and I would like to be useful and connected until the day I day. I want to be the kick-ass elder who still has a contribution to make to my family, my profession, and to the greater whole of society. I don’t expect to go quietly into the gentle night. “For everything that lives is holy, life delights in life.” –William Blake The current dominant medical system is designed to come in at the last minute and extend life. It is not designed to prevent illness or chronic disease, nor is it designed to do maintenance on the body. It’s like my car. If I change the oil on a regular basis and do other maintenance work, it keeps running forever. If we do the maintenance on our bodies, take care of things before they become an issue, then we’ll be alert, active and motoring until the end of our

lives. But who teaches us to do that? It’s certainly information that isn’t being passed generationally. Somehow, without any teaching, exposure, or understanding, people are suppose to already know this information. The last five years of person’s life is often spent in and out of doctor’s offices getting one prescription after another for such as high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, skin disorders, or inability to sleep. Here in the last five to ten years of a person’s life is the whooping great majority of medical care and a huge financial burden to the person, family, and the government of this country. There is no concept of heading the illness off at the pass. No concept of helping keep a person as healthy and vital as possible until old age strikes the final blow. No concept of preventative care. How can we help improve the quality of life of ourselves, our friends, our extended family and the citizens of this country? It’s really quite simple: First, we learn as much as we can about ways to stay healthy and then we share the information.........grassroots natural health education. We as herbalists and healers are in a unique position to bring traditional path healing information to our families and communities. What I’ve discovered in my years of practice is that there is an abysmal lack of health education in this country. It’s not taught in schools. Most parents don’t tend to know anything about how to eat healthy or stay healthy. Most people don’t even really know too much about hygiene. How can we expect folks to stay healthy if they haven’t been taught how to do that?

“No matter how much it gets abused, the body can restore balance. The first rule is to stop interfering with nature.” –Deepak Chopra Two common approaches to natural health care education are the micro and macro approaches. The micro approach is aimed at helping the individual while the macro approach is aimed at large groups of citizens.


As herbalists, natural health practitioners and healers, we tend to focus on the micro approach or the self-help/self care model. Here lies much of our strength. We can often help the individual that has fallen through the cracks of mainstream medicine. We can be the shining white knight coming to help when all else has failed. In the self-help/self-care model, the responsibility of health care is on the individual. Not only must an individual recognize that a problem exists and that a change is needed, but must also identify risk factors and then devise a method of behavior change or a develop a change in perception/attitude toward the problem. This puts an individual immediately into the position of focusing on self-protection measures, is hugely stressful and sends the ill person into the depths of investigation. That’s all well and good except when a person is sick, it’s really hard to think, really hard to investigate, and really hard to trust. All this places a huge amount of responsibility upon the individual and sets-up the potential for failure which can then lead to victim-blaming. Added to this, society often perceives a person’s health, their poverty level, and lack of employment as individual failures. While the self-help/care model may help the odd person here and there, it is not practical, workable or feasible at the community or societal level. Promoting self-change and self-reliance shifts the influences of health away from societal involvement. It shifts it away from environmental issues and puts the emphasis squarely on the victim. This decreases the likelihood of support for initiatives aimed at health improvement. Unfortunately, the more an individual responds to threats and challenges, the less likely we are supportive of societal issues that deal with the causes. Self-help/self-care information obtained or positive health practices experienced by individuals generally are spread by word of mouth and other informal sources and make their way through churches, schools and other community forums. This micro approach also works to maintain the continued use of folk

remedies, the traditional paths, and aids in the creation of new folk remedies or helps evolve traditional folk medicines. The overemphasis on health problems and their remedies often takes on a momentum of their own which can support the belief that the selfhelp/self-care remedy is the “true and only way” to achieve the desired goals. Let’s face it....there is no true and only way. What might work for one person may not work for the next. And it’s this belief, that a product or modality is the best or only way to health, that fuels marketing fads in the natural health industry and even among knowledgeable herbalists. While many of these remedies may be helpful, this view also spawns a vast amount of misinformation and fly-by-night shysters all too ready to make a buck in the process. It’s also quite easy these day, for folks to find information on the internet that totally supports their current self-help approach. If they looked a bit deeper, they might also find information that debunks their approach. Just follow the money....always follow the money. Faddish herbal remedies abound and health gurus make millions using this approach. “You are not your illness. You have an individual story to tell. You have a name, a history, a personality. Staying yourself is part of the battle.” –Julian Seifte The micro approach to health lends itself to the management of disease which itself, can lead to new health problems, continued medication, and long-term commitment of time and resources. I see this even in the herbal community. Folks manage their illness using herbs instead of prescription drugs, but management it is. And truthfully, sometimes that’s all there is....the management of chronic illness with natural remedies is at the least supportive for the body and has few if any side effects. In conventional medicine, the management of illness has also spawned the support group. Now don’t get me wrong, I do believe that honest support groups have their place and can help folks share their experiences and support each other through the hard times. But there is


also a dark side by enabling folks to stay frozen where they are. Support groups, online or inperson, can also reinforce negative triggers.

continue to decline as evidenced by increased rates of obesity, type 2 diabetes and cancers. Only we can change this.

Micro approaches to natural health education offer an isolated view, a singular view, to solve health problems. How about teaching others to take care of themselves? If we catch a fish for someone, they eat for only one day. If we teach them how to fish, they can eat for the rest of their lives. We as herbalists and healers are in a unique position to teach a lot of people how to fish.

“To keep the body in good health is a duty… Otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.” –Buddha

More attention, time and resources could be turned to seeking and addressing the causes of health problems and ways to prevent them..... a preventative approach using traditional path healing modalities along with proven scientific approaches. In this way, we can address health issues at the community, societal or national level and teach what we know as natural health practitioners to the larger community. I would also argue that lobbying our government for basic human health rights may also be important. Having good, clean water to drink should be a basic right, it certainly fills a basic biological need, but how can we be assured of this when our government says it’s alright for industry to dump waste products into our waterways. Policies to address environmental pollution of water supplies and adequate water treatment filtration systems ought to be a nobrainer. The same with clean air and unadulterated food. Unfortunately, politically influential segments of society do not see this as a problem or see it as a money issue and current government policies do not adequately address this need. Government oversight agencies often have limited manpower and resources in which to monitor safety issues. In addition to clean air and water and safe and nutritious food, what about safe public laces to walk or exercise? Recognition of the health risk factors which affects us all, requires action by us as citizens, to our elected officials. Voices must be raised to be heard. Government can either be part of the solution or viewed as an impediment to the solution. Because the current administration avoids addressing most health risk factors at their sources, the health of the country will

Macro approaches to health care address root causes and seeks to either prevent illness or delay the onset of illness until later in the life cycle. This approach recognizes the impact of social and physiological factors on health and supports behaviors that increase health and longevity and reduce risk of disease. Macro approaches try to answer the question of why and to find out and act upon the cause of illness. Traditional healing path modalities can play a role in macro approaches. However, I believe that a marriage between the two approaches, a combined micro-macro approach, would offer the best benefit to our world. Emerging trends indicate that at the intersection between the individual and macro health approaches lies the place where good health or ill health is created. This would currently require some shift away from the micro approach and more resources given to the macro approach. The positive aspects of the micro approach could also be enhanced as more information is available in specific areas. Community is the critical unit, the place where the micro and macro approaches can meet and action take place. At the junction of the micro-macro approach to heath education lies the social justice model of health. This is based upon the realization of the need for the sharing of responsibility between the individual and society and offers another working model for natural health education and care. In this model, there is a larger responsibility placed upon those elements in society that significantly contribute to the problem, such as the manufacturer who dumps coal sludge in the river and then people downstream get sick. I like to call this model, “You made the mess, now you clean it up” model. It worked with my kids but I taught them this model early in life.


The social justice and the micro-macro combination models are based on equity and demand that governments make a different contract with its citizens, especially in regards to environmental pollution, than those currently in place. We can be the force that unites the individual approach to health for the whole community. As globalization continues, a balance between the micro and macro approaches becomes even more important. What is social justice in terms of global health? How can local communities maintain some influence on the health of their citizens when the greatest political and economic influences to their health lives a continent away? “In order to carry a positive action we must develop here a positive vision.” –Dalai Lama Help me develop a positive vision for ourselves, our communities, and our country. People who

are unwell make poor decisions in all areas of their lives. It’s hard to think when you feel bad and it’s really easy to go along with what someone else is telling you to do. In 2010, it was estimated that about 20% of the population of the United States was on disability, was too sick to work and on a multitude of prescription medications and pain pills just to manage day to day living. That’s a lot of people who are unwell and voting. It is imperative that we find a way to teach our communities about the determinants of health that affect both the individual and the community. It is imperative that we practice and teach preventative health techniques, using traditional path modalities, that improve the health of all citizens of this planet. It is imperative that we hold our governments accountable for their role in the policies that affect our environment and ultimately our health. This is a call to action......We have the knowledge to change the world....Now let’s find the energy to do just that.


Fermentation, Fun & Folklore by Jereme Zimmerman Presenting a new quarterly column devoted to all things FFF (with occasional deviations), from vegetable fermentation to mead-making and beer brewing, with stories and fun to boot. Jereme is the author of Make Mead Like a Viking (2015) and the upcoming Brew Beer Like a Yeti (2018), see: Jereme-Zimmerman.com When I was first asked by Jesse Wolf Hardin to write a column for Plant Healer on herbal mead and beer, I had to admit that, despite the fact that I have two books out covering just those subjects, there is much more that I want to write about. As a DIY enthusiast (some might say obsessively and stubbornly DIY) and urban / modern homesteader (or whatever the catchphrase of the day is), making beer and mead is only a portion of what I do with my time. Pretty much all of my brews are plant-based, so there is certainly a lot of ground to cover, but my interests, skills and passions are broad and tend to intermingle (and sometimes meander). What I like about Plant Healer Magazine and Herberia is that I can feel free to write about more than just the trendy subject of the day. Initially I was worried that my first book, Make Mead Like a Viking, had too much

storytelling, history and fun in it for folks who just wanted to learn to make mead but as I’ve discovered in the nearly three years since its publication, I had my pulse on something lots of people are passionate about. Hence, I will continue on with my practice of incorporating myth, storytelling and history into my discussions on food production and booze-making until I’m told to knock it off because no one is listening any more (of course I still won’t do as I’m told and will continue on anyway). Since this is my introductory column, I’ve decided to start with a rundown of who I am, where I came from and where I’m heading. Stay with me and you may get even get some practical information before this whole thing is over!


I was born on a northern Kentucky goat farm. Well, that’s not entirely accurate… While my parents’ intent was for me to be born at home, due to threats by their insurance company, I (and my older brother) was born in the sterile, constricted confines of a Cincinnati hospital. They eventually went with another insurance company and future siblings (four boys and a girl total) were “permitted” to be born at home. This wasn’t their only foray into corporate and government intrusion in their lives. We were also all homeschooled during some or all of our early education (I and two of my brothers chose to go to high school), which was met with its own share of conflict. We were one of first families (perhaps the first) to pursue homeschooling in Kentucky. This did not sit well with the Board of Education. After enduring much badgering and threats, my parents eventually convinced a Board rep to visit the farm and see how we were being educated. After seeing that we used a homeschooling curriculum and tested well, they begrudgingly let us have at it. It didn’t hurt that my father Wayne was a high school English teacher and helped us where he could in addition to having friends who taught subjects such as science and math help us out when needed. While my friends spent much of their day being herded from classroom to classroom and spending a good deal of their day being bored or goofing off, I was up at six to see my dad off to school, help with farm chores, and then do my day’s schoolwork, which I usually had done by lunchtime. Then it was off to play in the dirt and explore the woods until my neighborhood friends came home. Feeling the need to get off the farm and explore other social situations, I chose to attend high school at the school where my father taught (Lloyd High School in Erlanger, Kentucky). I am both glad and regretful that I did this. On one hand, it could be painful at times, both due to my lack of social skills, and because of the large amounts of time I spent being bored between classes; but on the other hand I picked up some new friends and learned to navigate the society of the “real world.” I am eternally grateful though, for my homeschooling foundation.

Upon graduating from high school, I elected to join my older brother Aaron at Berea College in eastern Kentucky. Honestly, I felt I had few other choices. Being “poor,” my parents couldn’t afford to help much, and I didn’t like the idea of going into massive debt for the rest of my life. Berea only accepted students from low-income families primarily from the Appalachian region (as well as a small percentage of international students), offered a work-study program, and much of my tuition was paid for by donations and grants. My only loans were one for around $2,000 that I took out for a program (the KIIS Study Abroad program) for which I went to Austria to spend a month studying German and Austrian literature, culture and economics (including a very enjoyable field trip to an Austrian brewery…); and a $400, no-interest loan from a donor who requested that it be paid off when possible so the funds could be made available to future students. Berea College, in Berea, Kentucky, was founded in 1855 by abolitionist and social radical John G. Fee with a motto that was highly controversial at the time: “God hath made of one blood all nations of men.” Berea College was the first interracial and coeducational college in Kentucky, and the first college in America with a specific goal of interracial education. There is much more fascinating history about Berea College and John G. Fee that I encourage you to read up on. Berea expected its students to work, not just at their jobs, but in their classes. Being a slow learner, I had difficulties with this, but managed to find a niche that worked for me. My love of reading and writing made me a natural fit as an English major, as well as for my jobs at Hutchins Library and as Editor-in-Chief of the school paper, The Pinnacle. Long story short, I prevailed and graduated. From there it was off to somewhere completely different. Keeping things short again: I married a Washington native, Jennifer, who had just graduated from Eastern Kentucky University. I moved to Seattle with her, traveled extensively and enjoyed much shenanigans, learned to homebrew, moved back to Berea, got divorced, enjoyed more shenanigans with my Berea friends, and eventually married one: Jenna.


Despite the good times I had exploring the Pacific Northwest and Southwest for nearly eight years, I had found myself yearning to return to the Appalachians and settle down in my home bioregion. I had also during this period become more and more interested in living a life similar to what I grew up with. Although I have since found myself practicing something more akin to urban farming, my attitude, interests and the communities of likeminded folks I intermingle with have brought me full circle back to my roots. That’s where this column comes in. I would like to continue what I started when I began writing for the now-defunct website Earthineer as RedHeadedYeti several years ago. That was where I “found my voice” and is what helped my professional writing career finally take off. While writing for Earthineer, I explored various fermentation topics, along with some homesteading stuff and the occasional philosophical meanderings. This was also where my first mead writings happened, which directly led to my first book Make Mead Like a Viking.

Three years later and I’ve expanded my plantbased brewing explorations in Brew Beer Like a Yeti. The subjects of those two books is what this column will primarily cover but being that fermentation, folklore and fun are what I’m all about, there may be an occasional detour. I’m looking forward to sharing my explorations with you, dear readers. Now, where shall we start... Alehoof Simple Ale For this column, I’ll provide you my basic technique and a recipe for making what I call simple ale. My philosophy is that you can take any type of sugar that is available, ferment it with whichever plant matter or other ingredients sound good to you and call it what you want. Simple ales can taste like anything from hard soda, to beer, to cider, or anything in between. It’s a nod to our ancestors, who didn’t let the lack of availability of “standard” ingredients stop them from fermenting some booze. They passed down many recipes for beer that I have dug up in old cookbooks and brewing manuals


that included fermentable sugars such as cane sugar and molasses instead of the standard malted grains. For my simple ale recipes, you only need around a pound of fermentable sugar since I recommend doing them in one-gallon batches. You can scale up from there if you need to. You can also purchase DME (dry malt extract) from a homebrew store in place of the sugar if you want to make something that will taste much more like what you’ve grown accustomed to in a beer. Keep in mind though, that I rarely recommend the addition of hops (Humulus lupulus). Hops is a plant with many health qualities, and is a worthy addition to beer, particularly if you happen to grow your own. But we’re all very familiar with hopped beer at this point. I like to hearken back to traditions of brewing when nearly every household brewed their own healing, refreshing fermented drinks utilizing knowledge of plant lore—from medicinal benefits to flavor qualities. For this recipe, let’s take advantage of a “weed” that pops up in many yards and wildlands in North America and Europe. Its most common name is Alehoof (Glechoma hederacea).

To start, you will need the following equipment: • 1 2-3 gallon (8-12 L) cooking pot • 1-gallon (4 L) glass or plastic jug • A vessel with a spigot for bottling (or, use a funnel and carefully pour into the funnel) • Bottles (swing-top, screw-top, or recappable with new bottle caps and a bottle capper) • 1 stirring spoon • 1 airlock with rubber stopper, or a balloon Gather the following ingredients: • 1 pound (.5 kg) cane sugar, light or dark brown sugar, or any combination of these (1 pound /.5 kg will give you around 4-5% ABV) OR 1 pound (.5 kg) DME (light or dark) • 5 ounces (142 g) of fresh alehoof (I just pull a big handful from the yard), rinsed • 1/2 teaspoon of brewing yeast, ale yeast or bread yeast • 1 teaspoon per bottle of sugar (white, cane, corn, or honey are best) for bottle-carbonation • 1 gallon (4 L) of clean spring water or filtered / de-chlorinated tap water Process:

As do many plants with a long-running history of use in brewing and medicine, alehoof goes by various names, including tunhoof, creeping Charlie, ground ivy, gill-over-the-ground, haymaids, hedgemaids, Lizzy-run-up-the-hedge, and Robin-run-in-the-hedge. Medicinally it can be used as a tonic, a blood cleanser, a diuretic and an expectorant. It is also known for its abilities to boost mental energy (I love some in my tea in the morning). As member of the mint family, it can be identified by its delicate light square stem (which all members of the mint family possess) and its unique purple flower. When it isn’t flowering, look for long square stems “creeping” along the ground, usually where ground has recently been broken, and fanshaped leaves. The final test is to pull some up, mash the leaves between your fingers and smell. If it has a minty aroma, it’s alehoof! Traditionally, alehoof was used in lieu of hops for its bittering and preservative effects (duh—it has “ale” in its name!). The bittering effect and flavor are fairly mild so it’s difficult to overdo it.

1. Bring water to a boil in a stockpot and stir in DME or sugar until fully dissolved. 2. Lower heat to medium-low, add alehoof, and let simmer for half an hour. 3. Let cool until warm to the back of your hand (about 70° F / 21° C). 4. Strain solids and pour into a 1-gallon (4 L) jug.! 5. Add yeast and place an airlock or balloon over the jug opening. 6. Place the jug in a warm, dark spot (60°-80° F / 15°-27° C) and allow to ferment. 7. Wait about 2-3 weeks, transfer beer to a bottling container, prime with sugar or honey, and bottle in flip-top glass bottles, plastic bottles, or whatever bottles are handy. 8. Leave bottles in a cool area for 2 weeks, open one to sample, and if fully carbonated, refrigerate and enjoy on a hot summer day (or save some for winter to help with a cold). Until next time—enjoy the simplicity of brewing your own herbal, healing beers!


Weaving Together the Patterns of Herbs: Using Materia Medica to its Fullest Potential

by Juliette Abigail Carr


Home herbalism is who we are and how our families work, healing practiced around the kitchen table around the world and across the centuries. Thank the Good Green Earth that home herbalism happens as a reflex, intuition built on a foundation of herbal fluency that allows us to live as herbalists in every moment. Let us explore the creation of family remedies, including children’s health, nursing parents and their babes, pregnancy & postpartum from a radical perspective, and generally hexing the patriarchy from the comfort of your own home. In the last installment of this column, we established some foundational principles of home herbalism; this time we will dive deeper to develop our skills. Given the limits of the home apothecary and the wide-ranging needs of family and community, how do we pick the right herb for the moment we're living in? Climbing out of the trap of "this herb for headaches, that one for sleep" allows the home herbalist to reach the next level of understanding that can be seen from the corner of your mind's eye, but is still outside your grasp.  Collecting individual herbs one at a time, adding them to our basket as we need them—what can I use for this rash?—gives us a limited understanding of their broader usefulness, in that each herb has the potential to be useful in myriad ways far beyond that single use. Instead, let us use materia medica to organize herbs into broad categories and rely on our critical thinking abilities to recognize patterns. The most basic premise of critical thinking in this context is “where/when/how have I seen this before? what did it do, how long did it take, what else happened?” Asking yourself this question engages your beautiful brain’s pattern recognition problem-solving magic powers. Even if you know the answer intuitively, practice engaging this part of your mind at every opportunity to hardwire pattern recognition into your process; that way, when you need it, it’s ready for you.

If herbs are in categories, we can narrow the categories down using patterns that are increasingly specific to use our medicines to their fullest potential in formulas, as well as substituting willy-nilly and hither and yon. If you want Calendula right this minute but you only have Comfrey, Yarrow, and Plantain, you can probably muddle through. Just as Linnaeus divided up plants based on reproductive structures, thus creating a replicable taxonomic pattern, whatever categories we create must be recognizable and repeatable, otherwise they are not useful on a long term basis. Materia medica organizes herbs in a top-down manner, with the broadest category at the top and the most specific at the bottom. Instead of having an herb for each issue you’re likely to run up against as a home herbalist, use readily available materia medica to learn the broad categories that each of your herbs belongs to, then get more specific from there. This allows you to use each herb more intentionally and effectively. Next time someone tells you that they know herbs don’t work because they tried Valerian and it kept them up all night, you will be able to confidently recommend Hops (and don’t be condescending, being a jerk is not their fault, it’s probably genetic) because of your understanding of actions, indications, and energetics (and your perception that their pitta is way out of control or they wouldn’t be bothering you with their mishegoss anyway). Looking for herbal patterns also gives you flexibility within your own apothecary by letting you substitute this for that when you need to. Let’s say you have a kid who can’t sleep and you’re out of the California Poppy you usually give, if you are fluent in the patterns of herbs in your apothecary you might choose to give Catnip and Chamomile instead, because you understand actions and indications so you can pull out another soothing nervine that’s safe for kids like the magical fairy herbmother you are.


Actions Herbal actions are the first, broadest category, and describe what an herb might be used for in the broadest sense. They are big categories that have lots of herbs in each of them. Generally, herbs have multiple actions. The long lists of actions can be a little overwhelming on materia • Hypnotic • Nervine • Adaptogen • Antispasmodic • Bitter • Anti-inflammatory • Astringent • Immune Stimulant These are broad categories: nervine simply means an herb that works on the nervous system, the qualification that it is “calming” or “stimulating" comes later. To refine our broad categories we look to specific indications, energetics, and contraindications. The idea is to be able to say to yourself, “I need a nervine,” and then progress to “I need a calming nervine, specific for anxiety, that is cooling and dispersing to a pitta type anxiety and safe for pregnancy.” Or, very usefully in the home apothecary, “I’m out of the thing I wanted, but I can use this other herb instead, since it’s also an anti-inflammatory adaptogen specific for the GI.” Or even, since you’ve been looking for patterns, “I need a diuretic—I wonder if this anti-inflammatory might also have diuretic action? Let’s look up what Michael Moore says.” and BAM you’re a secret genius. Herbs have multiple actions, which allows for simpler, stronger, more appropriate formulations. When choosing the herbs for a remedy, try to choose fewer herbs that address more issues, as opposed to a single herb for each issue. Many actions appear together often, which is useful for formulations. For instance, many anti-inflammatory herbs are also diuretics, because the kidneys play a large role in inflammation. Learning these patterns of actions gives you the ability to learn herbs faster and more intuitively. This may be counterintuitive,

medica, but when you start to find the patterns among them and learn how they work together actions become very helpful for winnowing down the world of possibilities between you and your remedy. A small sample (there are many more): • • • • • • •

Expectorant Decongestant Febrifuge Diaphoretic Demulcent Vulnerary Galactagogue

studying materia medica to improve intuitive healing, but it helps by yielding fertile ground to grow from. You can often see the specific indications coming if you understand which herbal actions hang out together. For instance, herbs that are astringent and anti-inflammatory will be good for both sore throats and IBS. Herbs that are astringent and diuretics, or diuretics and antimicrobials, are good for UTI’s. Herbs that are adaptogen and nervine are good for people prone to chronic stress, whereas herbs that are nervine and anxiolytic help people prone to panic attacks. Specific Indications Specific Indications are the next category, literally more specific to tell you exactly when an herb is called for. They are used to qualify or explain herbal actions. For instance, Wild Yam and ginger are both antispasmodics, but Ginger is specific for the stomach whereas Wild Yam is specific for the uterus. Remember the principle of holism: everything is connected. Concurrent problems have the same or a related root cause, even if it’s just the stress of one condition opening the door for another. Finding an herb with the most appropriate specific indications leads to success. Most herbs specific for nursing also protect against common postpartum conditions like postpartum


depression, mineral depletion (i.e. dental problems), liver overload, or circadian rhythm disruption, so choosing a galactagogue that addresses other concurrent issues can be accomplished by thinking about specific indications. Young children’s digestive tracts play a major role in their immunity, so an herb like Thyme that is an immune stimulant specific for the respiratory tract and digestive systems can be of particular use (as an oxymel, just try it, it’s amazing!) Energetics

If you’re using herbs with children, pregnant people, or the elderly, know that their innate energetics are subtler and more gentle than other age groups and therefore easier to tip out of balance if you overdo it, so start with herbs that are close to energetically neutral or expressive. Super Basic 4 Qualities Hot: Red, swollen, tender, & hot to the touch; excess or accelerated function & ! movement Infection, heartburn, allergies, diarrhea

Energetics is a set of descriptive vocabulary useful for talking about people, problems, & herbs. Energetics is about how something feels or its essence, as opposed to what it does (that’s the action). This is super specific and used to qualify actions and indications so you get a really clear picture. The basic concept is easily understood through taste: think of the difference between cayenne and cucumber and you’ve got the general idea. Energetics is one of the huge obvious differences between traditional medicine and modern medicine: all schools of traditional medicine use some form of energetic patterns, whereas modern medicine lacks this sort of vocabulary entirely (and would greatly benefit; just ask anyone who’s been on 4 or 5 different antidepressants before they found one that worked). I think this might be why many home herbalists and students struggle with energetics, since they didn’t grow up with it as a concept. Also, it’s pretty abstract and can get esoteric in its more complex iterations. But rest assured: the rabbit hole of energetics is only as deep as you want it to be; my rabbit hole goes to Nanjing, but yours doesn’t have to. This is not the place for an exhaustive dissection of varying energetics systems; suffice it to say, there are many different systems of energetics, from the very simple to the very complex. It doesn’t matter which system you use, as long as you apply pattern recognition consistently. I usually recommend people start with the 4 Qualities since they’re very straightforward, but whatever flavor floats your boat floats mine too.

Elecampane, Northern Prickly Ash, Cayenne Cold: Inactive; stuck; heavy; movement frozen; poor circulation or sensation Muscle knots, constipation, sinus congestion, diabetic neuropathy Borage, Peppermint


Damp: Fluids & swelling involved, can be warm or cool Sore throat may be warm & damp; a stuck, phlegmy cough may be cool & damp Demulcents like Marshmallow & Comfrey

Dry: Not enough moisture; poor nutrition; weak function where lubrication is important Acne may be warm & dry; anorexia or nutrition deficiency might be cool & dry Lavender, astringents like Witch Hazel & Goldenrod

Again, not an exhaustive explanation by any means, but there are any number of excellent resources on this topic (like this magazine in your hands right now). The point is just to use some form of energetic thinking to narrow down which herbs are the best fit. Contraindications & Cautions Contraindications are situations where an herb is not indicated, either because of a potential interaction or a potential bad outcome. Some contraindications are known: an herb that is an abortifacient is contraindicated in pregnancy because it could cause an unwanted abortion. Licorice is used with caution when high blood pressure or kidney disease is an issue because of fluid retention. Others are suspected: an herb that depresses the central nervous system could potentially cause serious problems (including respiratory depression) if it was taken with a pharmaceutical that did the same thing, so check first. Others are purely hypothetical: an herb may be contraindicated in pregnancy because rats walked strangely after having massive amounts injected into their backs. It’s important to understand that some contraindications are absolutely critical to follow and others are simply moments to pause and consider carefully. I’ll be devoting a future column (and a class at the Confluence) just to this important topic. Instead of getting caught up in contraindications as a fear thing, especially if you’re using herbs with children or pregnant people, it’s helpful to think of them as the final detail in the organizational framework: suddenly contraindications become so useful! Often, they help us choose between 2 or 3 herbs: this one is good for kids, this one isn’t; this one stimulates the liver so is iffy with the psych med, that one is metabolized by the kidneys and should be fine. Using Materia Medica as an Organizational Framework There’s no lack of discussion on characteristics of herbs. Let’s turn the voluminous materia medica at your disposal into a useful, concrete method of choosing herbs, using the following framework.


1. What’s the problem? Figure out what issues you will address, then determine appropriate herbal actions. Use critical thinking: where have you seen it before, what happened, what helped, how is this time different from that time, etc. Example: for a stomachache, use actions including carminative, anti-spasmodic, laxative, or antiinflammatory, depending on what the problem is 2. What else is happening at the same time? Example: stress Determine appropriate herbal actions again Consider patterns: what actions often accompany the actions you need, and could they be helpful here? nervine, adaptogen, anxiolytic Do any herbs have most or all the herbal actions you need? There are many nervines that are also carminative, antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, etc. Now you’ve gone from a million herbs down to a few. Of those, ask yourself: 3. Which herbs are specifically indicated for the condition you’re working with, or are known to have an affinity for the body system in question? Eliminate the ones that don’t, and now you’re left with just a couple chamomile, peppermint, lavender, catnip… 4. Which combo will best help restore balance, without overcompensating? Consider the energetics of the person, the problem, and the plants you’re thinking of using. Is this a person who tends towards heat, with a problem of serious excess heat (think ulcer or diarrhea), or perhaps the same person with a problem of excess dry & cool (like bloating &

constipation). Both stomach aches, but different herbs are appropriate. 5. Are the herbs in question safe for the person you want to give them to? Are there any relevant contraindications? 6. Critical thinking check-back Look back at the beginning and question yourself. Is this the right herb or formula for this problem in this person? If you’ve got a kid with a stress stomachache at bedtime, Catnip is perfect since it will help her relax into sleep, but if that stress stomachache is roiling and boiling at 10 am you might go with cooling, enlivening Peppermint instead; if it includes anxietyinduced constipation you may think of Fennel’s anti-spasmodic seedy fiber, or if it is accompanied by throbbing temples, lavender’s cooling release of tension. Apply critical thinking skills to check your work, using pattern recognition within the framework of materia medica: “where have I seen this before? what did it do, how long did it take, what else happened?” Have you chosen herbs with known affinities for the body systems in question, specifically indicated, energetically appropriate, and with a tradition of use? Intentionally question your work to engage all the dimensions of your incredible brain. Aspire to Flourish The human brain is built for pattern recognition and critical thinking; we have far greater abilities than we are ever aware of. Allow your innate pattern recognition skills to winnow down the choices until the perfect herb becomes clear, honing your skills with every liniment and vinegar, soup and steam and percolation you create. Don’t be intimidated by the great abundance of materia medica: instead, Recognize the potential of thousands of herbs calling out to be known, and allow your apothecary to flourish as your aspirations grow toward the sun.


Signature Species of the Southwest, Part II by Dara Saville Dara is one of our most awesome Plant Healer columnists and Good Medicine Confluence teachers, deftly grafting together the crucial elements of science and compassion, medicine and conservation. Read more about her offerings at: Albuquerque Herbalism The American Southwest is a vast territory that includes a wide variety of ecosystems and dramatically changing landscapes as well as a myriad of cultural layers contributing to the herbal traditions found here. Plant habitats include high arid mesas, several different desert types, mountains with changing elevations and isolated sky island species, and riparian floodplains with ecosystem mosaics. This diverse region is home to an astounding number of valued medicinal plants, some of which can be found in other arid areas of the Mountain West while others are found exclusively or primarily in the Southwest. This two-part series explores a small selection of medicinal plants that play major roles in both the herbal traditions and the natural landscapes of the Southwest. I live in the Middle Rio Grande Valley of New Mexico and my experiences as an herbalist and landscape geographer there have shaped my selection of plants. While there were many more plants worthy of inclusion here (such as Osha, Prickly Pear, Yucca, Ocotillo, and Mesquite), I chose plants based not only on their impact to the local landscapes and herbal traditions but also as

representatives from the Southwest’s varied and diverse habitat types. The previously published Part One included Sand Sage, Snakeweed, Juniper, Datura, and Piñon. In this following Part Two I discuss Cottonwood, Yerba Mansa, Chaparral, and Globemallow. Cottonwood (Populus deltoides wislizenii) The golden glow of Cottonwood leaves fluttering in the fall breeze and the elegant forms of their massive curvaceous branching trunks exposed in winter make it one of the most striking trees anywhere. Although Cottonwood tree species may be found along many rivers across the United States, they are a defining character of Southwestern rivers and the cultures that have thrived along these waterways. In fact, the Rio Grande Bosque’s Cottonwood forest mosaic in New Mexico has been in existence (in some form) for at least two million years and is one of the largest ecosystems of this type in North America. These large fast growing riparian matriarchs also stand at the center of human settlements and rich valley culture that


have evolved along the river. Cottonwoods and our other riparian natives share a crucial connection to the water and suffer from current water management practices in the Southwest. As a result, Cottonwood populations along the Rio Grande, the Colorado, and other rivers have been in sharp decline for decades and are often replaced by non-native Salt Cedar (Tamarix sp.) or Russian Olive (Eleagnus angustifolia). In an effort to help these habitat-defining trees survive alongside emerging non-native species, Cottonwood pole planting has been a major effort and tens of thousands have been successfully planted along with other key species since the programs began in the 1980s. (Read more on this topic in my previously published Plant Healer essays Rivers, Restoration, & Hope for Medicinal Plants, Parts One and Two). Cottonwood’s nurturing character transcends its ecological role in the riverside forest and provides for medicine, food, and culture. Its primary use with Pueblo, Hispanic, and other local herbal traditions is as a salicin-containing

anti-inflammatory pain reliever for arthritis, sports injuries, headaches, or fevers. Cottonwood also serves as an antimicrobial for wounds, a diuretic, and a digestive bitter. Bud tincture also makes an effective expectorant for coughing and thick mucus. Caution is recommended when using anti-coagulant drugs or with aspirin sensitivity. Collect leaf buds in late winter for tincture or infused oil, inner bark in late fall or early spring for decoctions (thick outer bark is inert), and leaves in summer for tea. Leaves are milder in action than the bark but are far less bitter and more palatable. Pueblo People and other natives employed Cottonwood’s anti-inflammatory powers by chewing leaves for toothaches, applying poultices to skin abrasions, and using it for general pain relief. They also made leaf tea for urinary inflammations and used the thick curved bark as splints for broken bones. Cottonwood also provided fresh edible catkins each spring as well as cotton and buds for chewing gum. Pueblos artisans crafted canoes, cradles, and drums from their hollowed out trunks. They carved kachinas from their soft roots, preferred its wood for firing pots, and used if for building materials. As Spanish settlers began moving up the Rio Grande Valley, they too found comfort in the Cottonwood forests where they began transforming it into farmland and came to integrate Cottonwoods into their plant medicine traditions. As with other native plants, Hispanic communities used Cottonwood very similarly to their Pueblo neighbors but with some additions. They also boiled bark to treat fevers, arthritis, and diarrhea. Burned bark and leaf ashes were mixed with cornmeal and made into poultices for skin abscesses. Leaf buds were infused into oil and applied to cracked skin, burns, and other wounds. The resinous oil created from Cottonwood buds is a personal favorite remedy that also makes wonderfully warming massage oil for sore muscles and other bodily aches. The smell is enchanting, the feel is comforting, and it has a way of making you feel cared for.


Yerba Mansa (Anemopsis californica) The penetrating aroma emanating from the roots, the iridescent and otherworldly white glow of its flowers, and the earthy brick red hues of dormant stands capture my heart every time I am near Yerba Mansa. In addition to its captivating beauty, this iconic Southwestern medicinal plant is a paleoherb among those closest to the origin of monocots and embodying innumerable generations of wisdom. Its uniqueness is exemplified by its botanical classification as one of only six members in the family Saururaceae and singular in its genus Anemopsis. Wild populations of this highly esteemed and ancient wetlands plant are, however, currently at risk from water diversion practices and flood control measures along Southwestern riparian habitats that result in a lowering water table and reduced or absent surface flows that sustain Yerba Mansa and other floodplain plants. Yerba Mansa is an important plant both ecologically and culturally. In its wild habitats Yerba Mansa enhances the wet boggy earth by absorbing and distributing water and adding anti-microbial and purifying elements to

the damp and slow-moving ecosystem. Once a colony is established, it alters the soil chemistry and organisms, creating an environment more favorable to the growth of other plants by acidifying and aerating the soil. It functions similarly inside the ecosystems of our bodies by regulating the flow of waters, encouraging the movement of stagnant fluids, moving toxins, and inhibiting harmful pathogens, while warming and stimulating other sluggish functions in the body. (For a more in-depth exploration of Yerba Mansa see my previously published Plant Healer essay Yerba Mansa of the Rio Grande Bosque.) Yerba Mansa has a long and legendary history of use among Native American and Hispanic communities in Southwest. It even enjoyed a short period of popularity beginning in 1876 when the first eclectic physicians began widespread use of the plant after learning about it from local Native American, Mexican, and Spanish herbal practitioners. (This general popularity subsided with rise of pharmaceutical medicines in mid 20th century when herbs became villainized and Yerba Mansa’s usage largely retreated back to more traditional


communities.) Yerba Mansa has been used as an aromatic, anti-inflammatory, broad spectrum antimicrobial (including Staph, Strep, Pneumonia), astringent, diuretic, and anticatarrhal. It is also tonifying to mucous membranes but can sometimes be over-drying. This herb has a special affinity for the digestive, respiratory, and urinary systems and is often used for an array of conditions including chronic inflammatory conditions, digestive disorders, skin issues, urinary infections, mucus-producing colds and sore throats, sinus infections, hemorrhoids, oral healthcare, fungal infections, and many others. Roots gathered in fall or spring are the primary and strongest medicine used to prepare teas, tinctures, or topical powders. Like many wetlands plants, Yerba Mansa sequesters heavy metals and other toxins from its environment so be sure to harvest from clean places such as an organic garden or farm. (Yerba Mansa can easily be cultivated and rapidly forms large stands under suitable conditions.) Leaves can also be gathered but are milder in action. Native Americans of the Southwest used Yerba Mansa as an infused tea for colds, wound wash, stomach ulcers, pleurisy, chest congestion, general pain, emetic purification, stomach upsets, sore throats, TB, and venereal disease. Hispanic herbal traditions built upon this legacy and used the powdered root as a topical for rashes, wounds, and burns. They also used powdered root mixed with water as a gargle for sore throats, a wash or poultice for swellings or arthritis, and as a drink for dysentery. Yerba Mansa decocted root tea or infused leaf tea was also used for mucous membranes, upset digestion, a nighttime fever reducer, and colic in babies. An interesting recipe for bleeding dysentery is to prepare a soft-boiled egg, poke a hole in the shell, add ground root, and drink it. Eclectic physicians of late 19th and early 20th centuries widened the uses of Yerba Mansa even further as they embraced its stimulating effects on the mucous membranes and its effectiveness on treating nasal catarrh, rhinitis, and sore throats. They also used it for bowel complaints, diarrhea, colitis, urinary issues, gonorrhea, ulcers, wounds, bruises, coughing, and

consumption as well as its alterative properties. Resent research continues to illuminate new applications for Yerba Mansa in cancer treatments and it has been shown to inhibit the growth and migration of certain types of cancer including breast and colon cancers. Indeed a plant with such a capacity to invigorate the overall health of an organism or ecosystem is one with immense value to both our herbal heritage and our riparian floodplains.

Chaparral (Larrea tridentata) Ranging across the greater Southwest, Chaparral (aka Hediondilla or Gobernadora) is found in all the major deserts and is a dominant plant in the Chihuahua Desert, sometimes forming expansive nearly monotypic stands where overgrazing has occurred. The sensory experience of becoming acquainted with Chaparral brings the seeker into vast desert basins where visible heat, the penetrating aroma of Chaparral leaves, and the humbling exposure of standing under endless blue skies and unrelenting sun may converge to create an altered state of awareness. Here the antiquity of the land resonates not only from pottery sherds, petroglyphs and pictographs, and ruined village walls, but also from Chaparral stands with ancient individuals reaching up to 11,700 years old. Having arrived in the Southwest from


ancestral populations in South America, Chaparral has slowly advanced its range and, aided by cattle grazing in recent years, has transformed the region’s deserts often inhibiting the growth of grasses and other desert annuals. This plant’s relationship to the land reveals its medicinal workings as it usurps local resources, overtakes the local ecology, shifts biotic balances, and creates a new reality on its own terms. This observation helps us to understand its ‘brute force’ style of medicine and why it is so helpful for the most serious microbial infections or unrelenting deep body pain where significant transformation is necessary. If, in a geologically short period of time, it can transform the harsh and unforgiving environments of the major deserts of the Southwest, forming monotypic stands thousands of square kilometers in size, imagine what it can do in the human body’s ecosystem. (For a more in depth discussion of Larrea, see my previously published piece Ecological Herbalism, Part One in the Plant Healer spring 2016 edition.) Until the historic cattle-grazing era, which often relegated Chaparral to the category of invasive shrub, it enjoyed a long history of being valued by local people as an important resource for making medicine and items of material culture. Dried leaves, flowers, seeds, and twigs are commonly prepared as a 75% tincture, infused oil, salve, soak, liniment, poultice, or as a purifying smoke (not inhaled). Larrea is so potent that I most often use it as a topical and recommend it internally only for short periods of time due to the extra work required by the liver to process it. Chaparral’s stimulating effect on the liver, however, makes it a useful herb for the easement of arthritis or other joint pains, as well as for allergies or other autoimmune conditions where bodily purification is called for. Furthermore, Chaparral’s powerful dispersive effect and potent activity against a number of stubborn microbes including fungus, yeast, and bacteria make it a useful first aid herb or an

excellent addition to formulas for serious illnesses such as bronchitis, TB, E. coli, Staph, and MRSA. I have found it to be indispensible for treating athlete’s foot and other fungal infections and will sometimes add it to formulas to clear other unrelenting conditions. Recent studies have also shown Chaparral’s potential in cancer treatments such as breast cancer and melanoma as well as chemo protective applications for skin cancer. These research results seem well supported by Chaparral’s stubborn and relentless nature along with its propensity to spread across the land, transforming its ecology along the way. Native Americans of the Southwest used Chaparral for a variety of ailments consistent with those described above and some regarded it as a panacea. Additional uses include drinking tea for bowel and gastric complaints, as an emetic, or for treating fevers, venereal disease, or menstrual cramps. Chaparral leaves were also powdered and applied to a newborn’s navel or to the mother to induce milk flow and used as bedding to ease postpartum or menstrual cramps. Charcoal from Chaparral was even used for tattooing. The Seris of Sonora, Mexico commonly prepared Chaparral either as a hot leaf or ash poultice, tea soak, or as a purifying smoke or steam of leafy branches for a person experiencing postpartum discomfort, headaches, stingray wounds, or other pains. The Seri also harvested and sharpened Chaparral wood for making useful tools such as nails and harpoon points and used the heated and cooled lac (produced by the insect Tachardiella larreae) as a plastic-like adhesive and sealant for many purposes including arrow making and repairing or sealing pots and baskets. The Hispanic herbal tradition continued many of these same uses especially as a poultice, soak, or salve (mixed with Osha ,Tobacco, and/or Trementina de Piñon) for arthritis, skin or saddle sores, and ringworm. Chaparral tea has also been used as an antiseptic for urinary inflammations.


Globemallow (Sphaeralcea spp.) The captivating tiny orange flowers of our local Globemallows were one of the first wildflowers to ensnare my heart. Since then I have gotten to know many other species blooming in varied colors and growing in a wide variety of environments, making it one of the most reliably abundant medicinal herbs in our area. The genus ranges across the Mountain West (primarily S. coccinea) but other species prefer the drier soils of the greater Southwest and Southern Great Plains. Due to their propensity for cross hybridizing, it can be very difficult to differentiate individual species. Globemallows have a close relationship with native desert bees, whose lives unfold in harmony with the coming of unpredictable rains that spur this plant’s seeds to germinate and summon the bees to gather nectar and pollinate Globemallow. Globemallow has a long history of use in the Southwest and has been found regularly at archaeological sites including Chaco Canyon, where it is more frequently found in ceremonial kivas than

residential or food prep rooms, suggesting ritual and/or medicinal usage. The continuum of this plant’s close relationship to humans carries over into historic Pueblos, Hispanic communities, and other modern herbal traditions where Globemallow is commonly called upon for a variety of health complaints including skin conditions, respiratory ailments, digestive issues, urinary inflammations, and hair care. As a cooling and demulcent anti-inflammatory that stimulates macrophage activity and promotes healing, Globemallow is useful whenever there is hot inflamed soft tissue. This includes chronic or poorly healing infections, dry coughs, sore throats, urinary infections, hemorrhoids, ulcers, splinters, abscesses, rashes, bites, and stings. Globemallow is also an effective tonic herb for immune system imbalances such as autoimmune conditions where it can help reduce inflammation and stimulate effective immune functioning without over-exciting the system. This plant is commonly prepared as a leaf tea (with or without flowers and strained through a cloth to catch potentially irritating tiny hairs),


poultice, bath, or leaf and flower tincture prepared by preserving a strong tea with 25% alcohol. In addition to uses already described, Pueblo People have also pounded roots and mixed them with salt water as an infection or venom-drawing poultice or hard cast for broken bones and rubbed leaves on sore muscles for a rubifacient effect. Navajo consider Globemallow to be a Life Medicine and use roots to stop bleeding, treat skin ailments, indigestion, poor appetite, and coughs and colds. Navajo also smoked dried leaves as tobacco and some tribes have also used Globemallow roots to make face paint or prepare pottery. Hispanic herb traditions include many of the same uses but also as a bath for babies with thrush or chronic diaper rash and a hair and scalp rinse made from mashed leaves and flowers. The plants discussed in this two part series have not only shaped the land and habitats of the Southwest, but heavily influenced its culture as well. Collectively they have provided ecosystem services such as stabilizing fragile desert soils, providing habitat for other plants and wildlife, and simply growing where no one else will. These plants have also helped to create the diverse and flourishing cultures of our region as evidenced in the human-facilitated distributions of the plants themselves. The trees, shrubs, and herbs of our varied environments have formed the foundation of our culture by providing construction materials, food, medicine, and artisan supplies. These plants, along with many others, are a defining aspect of our landscapes and form a critical link between people, place, and culture. General References: Carolyn Dodson, A Guide to Plants of the Northern Chihuahua Desert, (Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press, 2012). Charles Kane, Medicinal Plants of the American Southwest, (Lincoln Town Press, 2011). Daniel E. Moerman, Native American Ethnobotany, (Portland, OR: Timber Press, 1998).

L. S. M. Curtain, Healing Herbs of the Upper Rio Grande, (Los Angeles, CA: Southwest Museum, 1965). Michael Moore, Medicinal Plants of the Desert and Canyon West, (Santa Fe, NM: Museum of New Mexico Press, 1989). Michael Moore, Los Remedios, (Santa Fe, NM: Museum of New Mexico Press, 1990). Michael Moore, Medicinal Plants of the Mountain West, (Santa Fe, NM: Museum of New Mexico Press, 2003). William W. Dunmire and Gail D. Tierney, Wild Plants of the Pueblo Province, (Santa Fe, NM: Museum of New Mexico Press, 1995). William W. Dunmire and Gail D. Tierney, Wild Plants and Native Peoples of the Four Corners, (Santa Fe, NM: Museum of New Mexico Press, 1997). References Specific to Chaparral: Frank J. Vasek, “Creosote bush: long-lived clones in the Mojave Desert,” American Journal of Botany 67 (1980): 246-255. Joshua D. Lambert, Shengmin Sang, Ann Dougherty, Colby G. Caldwell, Ross O. Meyers, J. M. J. FavelaHernandez, A. Garcia, E. Garza-Gonzalez, V. M. Rivas-Galindo, M. R. Camacho-Corona, “Antibacterial and antimycobacterial ligans and flavonoids from Larrea tridentata,” Phytotherapy Research 26 (2012): 1957-1960. Richard Fegler and Mary Beck Moser, People of the Desert and Sea: Ethnobotany of The Seri Indians, (Tucson, AZ: University of Arizona Press, 1985). Severine Van Slambrouck, Amber L. Daniels, Carla J. Hooton, Steven L. Brock, Aaron R. Jenkins, Marcia A. Ogasawara, Joann M. Baker, Glen Adkins, Eerik M. Elias, Vincent J. Agustin, Sarah R. Constantine, Michael J. Pullin, Scott T. Shors, Alexander Korkienko, Wim F. A. Steelant, “Effects of crude aqueous medicinal plant extracts on growth and invasion of breast cancer cells,” Oncology Reports 17 (2007): 1487-1492. Shakilur Rahman, Rizwan Ahmed Ansari, Hasibur Rehman, Suhel Parvez, Sheikh Raisuddin, “Nordihydroguaiaretic acid from creosote bush


(Larrea tridentate) mitigates 12-OTetradecanoylphorbol-13-Acetate-induced inflammatory and oxidative stress responses of tumor promotion cascade in mouse skin,” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2011 (2011): 10 pages. References Specific to Cottonwood: Clifford S. Crawford, Lisa M. Ellis, Manuel C. Mulles Jr., “The Middle Rio Grande Bosque: An Endangered Ecosystem,” New Mexico Journal of Science 36 (1996): 276-299. John P. Taylor and Kirk C. McDaniel. “Restoration of saltcedar infested flood plains on the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge,” US Fish and Wildlife Service, 1997. Manuel C. Molles, Clifford S. Crawford, Lisa M. Ellis, H. Maurice Valett, Clifford N. Dahm. “Managed flooding for riparian ecosystem restoration,” BioScience 48: 9 (1998): 749-756. References Specific to Yerba Mansa: Amber L. Daniels, Severine Van Slambrouck, Robin K. Lee, Tammy S. Arguello, James Browning, Michael J. Pullin, Alexander Kornienko, Wim F. A. Steelant, “Effects of extracts from two Native American plants

on proliferation of human breast and colon cancer cell lines in vitro,” Oncology Reports 15 (2006): 1327-1331. Catherine N. Kaminski, Seth L. Ferrey, Timothy Lowrey, Leo Guerra, Severine van Slambrouck, Wim F. A. Steelant, “In vitro anticancer activity of Anemopsis californica,” Oncology Letters 1 (2010): 711-715. Sherwin Carlquist, Karen Dauer, Stefanie Y. Nishimura, “Wood and stem anatomy of Saururaceae with reference to ecology, phylogeny, and origin of the monocotyledons,” IAWA Journal 16 (1995): 133-150. Severine Van Slambrouck, Amber L. Daniels, Carla J. Hooten, Steven L. Brock, Aaron R. Jenkins, Marcia A. Ogasawara, Joann M. Baker, Glen Adkins, Eerik M. Elias, Vincent J. Agustin, Sarah R. Constantine, Michael J. Pullin, Scott T. Shors, Alexander Kornienko, Wim F. A. Steelant, “Effects of crude aqueous medicinal plant extracts on growth and invasion of breast cancer cells,” Oncology Reports 17 (2007): 1487-1492. Wm P. Best, “ Anemopsis californica: a pleasant, nonpoisonous mucous-membrane remedy,” National Eclectic Medical Association Quarterly 12 (1921): 619-629.


Diverse Therapeutic Benefits from Bioactives Found in Seaweeds by Angela Willard Angela is a wonderful herbalist and lover of healthful seaweeds, codeveloper of Harmonic Arts Botanical Dispensary, and much welcomed new teacher at Plant Healer’s annual Good Medicine Confluence. The following is her companion essay to one of those classes. Having grown up in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, the ocean really was a complete mystery to me when moving out to the coast many years ago. At the time, I was at once fascinated by the marine aquatic plants I had yet to understand, and took it upon myself to dive deeply into discovering the medicine that grew within the Salish Sea, the body of ocean water that lapped the land of Vancouver Island I had begun to call home. Once I opened this medicine chest of the sea, I was astonished to find benefit, layered upon benefit, on human health. It is a rare moment now, that in my herbal consultation practice that I do not recommend some form of using seaweeds to enhance wellness. I would like to share some of the valuable therapeutics I have found that compliment a healthy lifestyle in specific relation to various health concerns.

I’ll begin first with the bioactives discovered to have significant beneficial health effects on the body, and follow this with a list of some health systems, conditions, and circumstances that have been found to benefit from the properties discussed. Do note that this list is not an extensive or by any means complete list of all bioactives discovered in seaweeds to date, rather a compilation of some of the most exciting properties that have been researched. There are three color categories in Seaweeds known as browns (Phaeophyceae), reds (Rhodophyta), and greens (Chlorophyta). Each category has a unique set of bioactives that have been identified and studied in relation to their impact on human health. Here we will go through each subset of colours, and their constituents.


Bioactives in Browns Fucoidan: Fucoidan has a multitude of beneficial effects on the human body. It’s number one medicinal property currently being researched in vitro is its ability to successfully attack and shrink cancer cells (apoptosis), while in conjunction with chemotherapy, or on it’s own. It supports the harmonizing of cancer cells with normal human body cells. A quick Google Scholar search with the key words “fucoidan and cancer” yields over 10,000 results, indicating a huge amount of research in this area. One of the issues with cancer is that the body has trouble identifying it as an invasive colony of cells. It seems that Fucoidan has the ability to flag cancer cells to the body as foreign and threatening, therefore initiating the body’s immune response in disengaging and eliminating these cells. It is also shown to be highly anti-inflammatory, as well as suppresses allergy responses through the inhibition of Immunoglobulin E (IgE), which inhibits allergic reactions.

For those that are dealing with autoimmune disorders, Fucoidan has the ability to act as an immune modulator, which either enhances immunity if needed, or suppresses it when overactive. Fucoidan is readily available for absorption through heat extraction. Similar to some of the therapeutic properties of medicinal mushrooms, it contains large chain molecules of polysaccharides, which need to be broken down by heat to render them bio-available to the human body. Fucoidan also shows to have the ability to interfere with the release of simple sugars in the gut, which in turn reduces hyperglycemia states after meals and maintaining stable blood sugar levels. Fucoxanthin: This orange coloured pigment, which gives brown seaweed it’s characteristic olive tones, is among the carotenoid group of 600 pigments that are correlated with exhibiting a cancer preventative influence on the body. Part of this action is due to it’s high antioxidant


activity, in conjunction with a cytotoxic effect on cancer cells including apoptosis (a biological program communicating cancer cell death) and cell cycle arrest (halting the proliferation of mutated cell growth). Currently, Fucoxanthin is popularly marketed as a support for weight loss, as it also increases thermogenesis in fat cells. Laminarin: This is a digestive health polysaccharide, as it feeds cells of the intestinal lining- helping to prevent leaky gut, it’s prebiotic nourishment protects the colon, and it contributes to the butyrate (an anti-inflammatory fatty acid) composition in the body- all directing towards colon health. Alginates: This is a phycocolloid, which is a sugar substance found in the cell walls of seaweeds and can be extracted with hot water. These sugars keep the cell walls soft and supple, giving seaweed it’s flexible properties that enable them to ebb and flow with the ocean’s currents, while augmenting mineral and nutrient absorption from surrounding waters through movement.

Alginates have been used to bind toxins in the intestines and efficiently eliminate them, most importantly heavy metals and radioactive particles. The clear Kelp Noodles that are sold on the market in raw food circles are made purely out of alginates, and although the main marketing purpose is for a raw, grain free noodle option, they serve as a very good way to keep the colon clear of harmful substances, and maintain bowel regularity. In addition to keeping the intestinal tract clean, alginates also serve as a prebiotic to help feed the good cultures we want to see in regards to optimal health. Iodine: Iodine is especially supportive to Thyroid and hormonal health, as well as proper brain function and development. It plays an important role in protecting our bodies from a variety of pathogens, as well as environmental toxins. Xenoestrogens (estrogen mimics), in particular, are not only blocked from absorption when adequate amounts of iodine are present in the


body, but they are also removed from estrogen receptors when iodine levels are brought back up from a low supply. When natural iodine (127) is sufficient in our diet, the thyroid will not absorb the radioactive isotope of iodine (131). In this way it can be highly protective against radiation present in the environment. An average dose of seaweed that contains optimal daily amounts of iodine for a 145 lb adult is 5-10 gm of brown seaweed or kelp/day, which would equate to 1-2 tsp. of powder. If you drink municipal tap water that has been treated with chlorine, or brush your teeth with fluoride containing toothpaste, it is a good idea to err on the higher side of this dose, as chlorine and fluoride require the body to use up larger amounts of iodine to maintain homeostasis. In fact, iodine helps to eliminate these harmful elements from our body.

Bioactives in Reds Galactans: These sugar substances (Sulphated Polysaccharides) found in the cell walls of red seaweeds are known to be highly anti-viral, both helping cells to block the penetration of viruses, as well as inhibit their growth. This category of

bioactives includes carrageenans and agars. They can be extracted with heat and water, and can form a gel like substance which is often used as a suspending agent or thickener in a variety of food, pharmaceutical, and industrial products. Galactans have been commonly added to contraceptives as a way of preventing STI’s. Phycobillins: These are the blue pigments that give the group of red seaweeds their red and purple hues. They have antioxidant, anticancer, anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory, hepatoprotective, and neuroprotective effects. These pigments are especially good at harvesting light, and is often found to be higher in seaweeds that grow at greater depths where light does not travel as far down. This group of pigments are cellular antioxidants, with a similar effect to the flavonoids called anthocyanins which are present in foods such as berries, purple cabbage, and eggplant. Phycobillins break down into two categories: Phycocyanin- found to boost immunity, is antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and anti-cancer. Phycoerythrin - neuroprotective, hepatoprotective, anti-tumor, and antioxidant.


Chlorophyll: Promotes healthy iron levels in the body, has antioxidant and anti inflammatory properties, supports liver detoxification, and quickens wound healing. Minerals: It is worth noting that all seaweeds have a high mineral content, on average 10-20 times that of land plants. To put this in perspective, 34% of dried seaweeds weight is composed of minerals! They are also comparable to the protein content of legumes and eggs, making them a highly nutritive choice of food overall. (low) Iodine: It is important to note that out of all the colour categories of seaweeds, the reds concentrate the lowest amount of iodine in its fronds, especially the Porphyra and Pyropia (Nori) species. This is can be valuable to understand when working with people that need to keep their iodine intake on the lower end based on overactive Thyroid states, yet still wish to benefit from the great health properties of seaweeds.

Now we will move into a basic overview of some of the many ways seaweeds can improve and maintain good health. Nervous System: Essential fatty acids, Protein, Magnesium for nerve conduction, Iodine feeds healthy brain function and prebiotics support the nervous system. Minerals are grounding to the nervous system on the whole and can help with feelings of depression, anxiety or hyperactivity. Cardiovascular/Circulatory: Phycobillins, Fucoxanthin and Ulvans are antioxidant- helping to maintain the health of blood vessels. Selenium present in seaweeds is an antioxidant and supports balanced BP. The lignans found in seaweeds are a favourable dietary source for diminishing the risk of cardiovascular disease. The diuretic effect of high potassium foods help manage mild to moderate hypertension, lowering blood pressure and decreasing fluid retention.

Bioactives in Greens Ulvans: Sulphated Polysaccharide studied for their anti-tumor, immune modulating, anticoagulant, antiviral, antioxidant, antiallergenic, anticancer, and anti-inflammatory properties. It’s unique soluble fibers have shown to be a good dietary addition to help protect against cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Kidneys/Excretory: High potassium decreases fluid retention (fluid retention can tax the kidneys). *It is important to note, however, in cases of kidney disease low potassium diets are important to ensure there is no excessive buildup of potassium in the body based on the kidneys inability to properly filter and excrete. Too much potassium circulating in the body can be hard and harmful on the health of the heart. This is one of the primary contraindications necessary to understand when using red seaweeds therapeutically, as this is the colour category that carries the highest amount of potassium (for


example, 2 TB of Dulse, on average, contains 34 times the amount found in a banana, which is known as a high potassium food!). Liver: Fucoxanthin has been successfully shown to treat fatty liver disease by increasing UCP1, which leads to the oxidation of fatty acids and heat production in abdominal fat cells, including in the liver. Endocrine: Iodine plays a strong role in thyroid function, which is connected to the entire health of the endocrine system as a whole. If the thyroid is dysfunctional, digestion and metabolism are compromised, affecting the entire bodies ability to function through accessing nutrients and to generate energy. Integumentary: High minerals contribute to healthy skin, zinc specifically forms keratin. Wound healing support provided by chlorophyll which is present in all seaweed colours. Oligosaccharides in Laminarins have a stimulating, regenerating, conditioning and energising effect on skin. Muscular: Magnesium conducts electrical impulses in the muscles- which can be greatly

helpful for chronic fatigue. Calcium for contraction and strengthening of muscles. As a doctrine of signatures, observing the strength and flexibility of seaweeds as they ebb and flow in the strongest of tides indicates imbuing these qualities upon consuming algae. Skeletal health: High mineral and trace mineral values contribute as healthy building blocks for strong bones. Digestive: Seaweeds contain high amounts of both soluble and insoluble fibers help to regulate elimination, acting as a bulking agent that prevents both diarrhea and constipation. Laminarins promote colon health, as do the alginates with their strong absorptive properties. Prebiotics (the oligosaccharides- which are non digestible complex carbs that feed the bacteria in the intestines) encourage healthy flora balance in the gut. Respiratory: Phycocolloids are moistening to the mucous membranes of the lungs, and these sulphated polysaccharides help prevent any viral or bacterial infections from taking hold, and/or can help treat ones that have entered into the lungs.


Immune boosting: Branched polysaccharides in seaweeds have a similar function on the immune system as medicinal mushrooms. Fucoidan, for example, is immuno-modulating and can help both an underactive and overactive immune system, making it a great choice for autoimmune disorders. Seaweeds are highly antimicrobial and are great preventative medicine for a number of pathogens. A diet that includes regular consumption of seaweeds has been shown to minimize illness. Cancer protective: All natural pigments are chemoprotective, and seaweeds offer a rainbow of colour therapy within it’s three colour groups, including carotenoids, and not to mention blue phycobilin pigments! Studies have shown that the consumption of seaweeds does not negatively interact with conventional chemotherapy treatments, and in fact helps to counter the detrimental effects chemo can have on the body. The anti cancer properties of Fucoidan and Ulvans have an immense amount of research to back them up as a hopeful choice as a cancer therapy. Environmental toxicity: Iodine helps to eliminate xenoestrogens from estrogen receptors in the body, while the alginates can remove them from the digestive tract once the liver has processed them out of the bloodstream. Iodine also helps to protect the thyroid from absorbing the radioactive form of iodine. Alginates act as a drawing agent to remove heavy metal and radioactive toxicity from the GI tract. Allergies: Fucoidan shows to inhibit the allergy response, making brown seaweeds a good choice for people with allergies to consume, and especially if one cannot prevent being in the presence of offending matter. Diabetes: Fucoidan shows strong inhibitory effects against certain carbohydrate-hydrolysing enzymes, which affects blood glucose levels and helps to keep them from spiking. STI’s: The antiviral properties in seaweeds have been used in conventional contraceptive gels and

liquids based on their effectiveness at both preventing viral penetration to the cells and fighting off viral or bacterial infections present in the body. Deficiency: The dense nutritive qualities of seaweeds enhance the nutritious aspects of any meal. It is recommended that they can be enjoyed at around a 5% portion with each mealwith a balanced mix of reds, greens, and browns. Eating seaweeds in different forms of raw, cooked, and fermented will ensure that you are accessing the various beneficial bioactives uniquely available in it’s different states. Raw/Vegan diets: Raw brassica foods, generally high in a raw food diet, are goitrogenic to the body- meaning they require more iodine for the body to process. Iodine levels in seaweeds balance this effect. The high mineral and protein values nourish the body, being especially useful when animal products are not included in the diet. Nori, for example, in its dried form contains up to 50% protein. High Stress and Exhaustion: The highly nutritive properties of seaweeds helps to renew and restore depleted vitamins and minerals used up from states of high stress and overwork. Iodine helps to re energize the thyroid, therefore helps give an overall boost in energy. The purpose of this Plant Healer article is to introduce you to the depth and breadth in which seaweeds have the potential to be applied for therapeutic use in your healing practice. It really only scratches the surface of the numerous ways seaweeds can not only be beneficial to good health, but bring the body back to a state of wellness from a state of dis~ease. If you or your clients find the flavor of seaweed to be unappealing, simply feed your food (both plants and animals) with seaweed and you can enjoy the enhanced nutrition they pass on to that which it nourishes. Let this introduction of seaweeds for health inspire you to go deeper into your explorations of working with these water wonders, and may it benefit the wellness of all beings on their paths of good health!


Herbs for Heartache Comfort & Healing When Love is Lost

by Sarah Baldwin The following heart-touching article is the companion essay to Sarah’s excellent class at the annual Good Medicine Confluence. She views herbalism as not just a clinical practice, but a spiritual one. Read about her Herbal Healing Deck and other offerings at www.herbalhealingdeck.com. “Losing love is like a window in your heart, everybody sees you’re blown apart, everybody sees the wind blow.” –Paul Simon, “Graceland” Throughout the ages, romantic love has been a bearer of soaring joy and bottomless sorrow, exquisite pleasure and excruciating pain. It’s the kind of love that inspires fairy tales, poetry, and songs. So many human dramas are played out in the pursuit of partnership, or in its loss. When the sweetness of Eros turns sour or is cut short, we often experience heartache, heartbreak, grief, sadness, anger, and perhaps even a dark night of the soul. The context of an intimate relationship creates its own world, its own private language of shared experiences, dreams, fears, and promises. It’s difficult to lose a lover, no matter how you cut it. Even when you’ve chosen to leave. Even when you think you’re prepared, when you’ve accepted the ending, when you’ve seen it coming from miles off. Even when you’ve survived the experience of loss before. Even when you were never married or bore no children together. Even when society never recognized your relationship to begin with.

Now, I don’t mean to downplay the experience of losing someone you’ve been with for a lifetime, or breaking up a family, or going through a painful divorce. In Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert shares the sentiment that divorce is like “having a really bad car accident every single day for about two years.” Heartbreak is a form of trauma, no doubt, and one that is often accompanied by a forced reassessment of one’s life plan. Questions ranging the gamut from practical considerations like, “Where do I live now?” to the more bare-boned, “Who am I?” circle our minds like vultures, waiting to descend upon the remains of what once was. Meanwhile, we must decide what will be, how we’d like to rise from the ashes and shape our new life. Experiences that level our life to the ground are also the best opportunities we get for reinventing ourselves. Yet often such decisions must be made in the very midst of despair, for life’s practicalities wait for no one. There is no exact formula for healing from a loss, no set order of events, no way to predict and mark on your calendar the day you will wake up and realize your heart feels lighter. Everyone is different, and every love is different, so what we need for the process of healing changes over time.


Stages of grief may recur periodically, even after you think you’ve healed long ago. You’ve done the work, you’ve pulled yourself back together, and you’re happily skipping along the path of life, when you suddenly trip over some invisible trigger that was lying in wait for you like a land mine, and before you even register what’s happening, you find yourself tumbling headfirst into the proverbial pit of despair once again. In what seems like an ironic, almost humorous twist of fate, this often happens at the very moment that we attempt to open our hearts to love again.

I have always been a big proponent of crying. Holding in tears is not only painful in the moment, but it can also cause a backlog of emotions to build up so that our feelings become muddy, dulled, even repressed. But lately my viewpoint has begun to shift. Serious bouts of sobbing leave me puffy, congested, and downright exhausted. As I age, I find that crying becomes more draining; it takes longer to recover and makes me feel about a thousand years old. I have burst capillaries on my face that seem to have become permanent features, like new roads on a map.

The path of love is a tricky one, winding and irregular, parts of it completely grown over as to render it invisible, complete with booby traps and thorny snares, but also full of beautiful flowers, stunning vistas, and new discoveries. Shared moments with another soul are something that nothing can take away from us, not time, betrayal, or even death. Your experiences will always be yours to keep. For me, the hopeless romantic, the path of love is always worth the trouble. As the Persian proverb puts it, “He who wants a Rose must respect the thorn.” There is no way around pain and loss in this earthly life, and certainly not in the realms of love. Even the most healthy, enduring loves eventually come to an end along with life itself. Unfortunately, there is no cure for a broken heart, but there are some remedies that can soften the blow and promote healing, self-love, and strength throughout the process.

Vanity aside, crying is sometimes a luxury we simply can’t afford. I’ve often wished that I could press pause when I needed a break from the demands of life, but no magical remote control has been forthcoming. There are many instances when weeping is inadvisable, even when it would feel good, or at any rate, better than holding it in. Other times, even when you have a safe space, crying simply becomes too much, like having a demanding fitness instructor who commands you to keep running on a broken ankle. Sometimes in the midst of trauma, you just need rest, plan and simple.

Surviving the Trauma

Kava (Piper methysticum) is a wonderful plant in such circumstances. Well-known as a tension taming, muscle-relaxing, stress-relieving brew, Kava eases the pain of body, mind, and spirit. Grief does strange things to the body, causing physical tension and pain to manifest in places like the back, head, and chest. I find that Kava brings relief in times of extreme upset, working


something like a mix between Rescue Remedy, Tylenol, and brandy. However, Kava doesn’t shut the emotional heart down like excessive alcohol consumption can. Instead, it encourages space and distance to open up around the issues of the heart, making them more manageable. I have imbibed Kava in anticipation of moments that I know will be difficult, like saying final goodbyes or coming home to an empty apartment for the first time. When I’m tempted to feel quite sorry for myself and drown in my emotions like the soft-bellied, Cancer-rising sign that I am, Kava helps me find my way back to solid ground. As C.S. Lewis once observed, “No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid.” In Ayurveda, grief and heartbreak throw vata out of balance, resulting in anxiety, restlessness, insomnia, and dehydration (Ullian, 2017). Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) paints a similar picture, envisioning the heart as a vessel that stores Shen, the spirit of our consciousness, emotional wellbeing, mental health, and vitality. As Sean Donahue (2013, “Nourishing” section, para. 1) writes, “When the vessel is shaken, the Shen becomes scattered and disturbed -- which is marked by insomnia, restlessness, irritability, emotional upheaval, and decreased attention span.” For the tensed-up, nail-biting, vata-deranged stage of grief, Kava provides welcome relaxation and allows for rest. It can help you get to sleep during times of overwhelm, insomnia, and cyclical thinking. Kava also enhances the appetite, which is welcome relief for those who have difficulty eating during times of stress. Thus, Kava can help us get through some of the toughest moments of shock and turmoil that come with the end of a valued relationship, helping us get back to our most basic needs like eating and sleeping. However, as a diuretic, Kava can contribute to dehydration, so be sure to drink plenty of water with this plant. Conversely, I find that Kava can also help bring buried, stagnant grief to the surface, allowing unshed tears to fall and old wounds to heal. This makes it a nice choice when you want to sit

down and process something intentionally through journaling, contemplation, talking, etc. As a muscle relaxer, Kava is always a nice companion during a yoga practice, and I find that the plant encourages the release of traumatic memories and experiences that have become stuck in tight muscles. Traditionally drunk as a means of conflict resolution, Kava also dampens anger and bitterness and is especially helpful during difficult discussions with a partner involving possessions, money, and other resources. It encourages open-hearted compassion, making it easier to let go of nonessential arguments and focus on the important issues. Of course, this may throw things out of balance if only one half of a couple is imbibing Kava, especially if that person is the peace-making type who gives up important things to avoid conflict. In that case, maybe offer a cup of Kava to both parties?

Confronting the Darkness Speaking of conflict and power struggles, if a relationship is testing your ability to stand up for yourself, speak up for yourself, and/or leave an abusive or unhealthy situation, one helpful herbal ally to keep in mind is Black Cohosh (Actaea racemosa). Herbalists use this plant for trauma of all kinds, as well as the deep, dark depression than can follow abusive or traumatic experiences. The flower essence is indicated for morbid or vengeful thoughts, addictive tendencies, and codependency with toxic people (Kaminski & Katz, 1996). It helps us find the courage to face the truth of a situation and


confront what must be confronted. Matthew Wood (1997) speaks of Black Cohosh as a remedy for snakebite and whiplash – it’s the kind of plant that can remove the venom from your heart and put things back in order after severe trauma. I find Black Cohosh helpful not only for gaining the strength to recognize and leave an unhealthy relationship, but also for cleaning up the internal mess that follows. When you’ve internalized somebody else’s negative talk so that you’ve begun to believe things like, “I’m nothing without him” or “She was right that no one else could love me,” working with Black Cohosh can help you sort out truth from illusions that have been insidiously seeded by abusive comments. For this process, I like to take a drop dose and sit quietly to see what bubbles up from the darkest depths of the psyche.

Devil’s Club (Oplopanax horridus) is another ally for reclaiming personal power that has been inadvertently given to another person. It seems especially helpful for kind souls who tend to be too nice and too giving to the wrong people. Like Black Cohosh, Devil’s Club can help us find the courage to stand up for ourselves and challenge bad behavior. I visualize this plant spirit like the Baba Yaga of Slavic folklore, the wizened witchcrone who decorates with fiery skulls and isn’t afraid to bring death upon situations that no longer serve us. To be clear, I feel compelled to add that plant allies alone may not be enough to help safely and successfully disentangle folks from toxic

relationships. If abuse is involved or if depression is severe, you may need to enlist the help of a professional therapist, shaman, and/or a whole team of loving family members and friends. Abusive relationships are infamous for making the victim blame him or herself and feel isolated from loved ones. Yet there is no shame in reaching out for help, no weakness in admitting that you’re in over your head. Many strong, vibrant people have been victims of abuse at some point in their lives. Finally, let’s look at one more plant to reach for during those deep, dark nights of the soul: moonflower. This name means different things to different people, but here I refer to members of the Datura genus. The species that grows near me is Datura stramonium, Jimson Weed. First, a word of warning: because of the plant’s

poisonous and hallucinogenic nature, it should only be employed in material doses by those who really know what they’re doing. The effects of this psychoactive plant are especially dangerous because one tends to forget that one is having a psychedelic experience (i.e., you have a waking dream that you don’t realize is a dream), and because the physical side effects can involve coma or seizures. There are plenty of safer plants to have an entheogenic experience with, so I leave material doses of Datura well enough alone. But taken as a flower essence, Moonflower is a lovely remedy for those undergoing deep


transformational experiences like the loss of a loved one. It’s great for shape-shifting moments, those times when transformation is so allencompassing that you scarcely recognize yourself in the mirror. Datura flower essence is especially indicated for times when you want to do drastic things like completely alter your appearance or take a new name. For some divorced women, the act of changing one’s last name, whether back to their family name or to a brand new name, can be an empowering experience, a reclaiming of what was lost and a re-imagining of what can be. Letting in the Light When the height of trauma subsides but you’re still left with low-grade, residual feelings of stress, anxiety, loneliness, or general lackluster vibes, St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum) can help to bring the light back into life. Its bright yellow, sunny blooms practically glow with the energy of sunshine, and the perforated leaves contain tiny holes that literally let light through when held up to the sun -- a fitting signature for a plant used for depression, anxiety, and stress. But the sunny blooms quickly turn blood-red when bruised or extracted, which is a nice reminder of the plant’s wound-healing abilities -- not just external wounds, but the hidden wounds of the heart as well.

St. John’s Wort is closely connected with the sun, blooming around the summer solstice and often employed during the winter for seasonal affective disorder and wintertime blues. I find it interesting that we use light-related metaphors

to describe love: we might say, “You light up my life” or “You are my sunshine.” We feel our loved ones as lights in our lives, as beams of positive energy that radiate toward us, providing warmth, comfort, and nourishment. When love is lost, we can feel cut off from light’s very source, hence the old song’s beseeching line, “Please don’t take my sunshine away.” I find that St. John’s Wort helps us to connect with our own inner source of light, reminding us that we don’t need another person to be our sunshine, that light is available to all of us as individuals. This herb brings a glow of health and vitality back to the eyes and skin, and any lackluster feelings about oneself and one’s life are gently and gradually replaced by more pleasant notions. St. John’s wort has a long history of use as a plant of protection, and it encourages us to become strong enough to feel safe in our own skin. It helps us regain a sense of solid footing when it feels as though the rug has been pulled from under our feet. As a grounding and calming nervine, St. John’s Wort can help iron out frazzled nerves after a shock so that we are less prone to irritation, insomnia, and anxiety. If St. John’s wort is my go-to remedy for when the light is lost, then Mimosa (Albizia julibrissin) is where I turn when the magic is gone. For those times when you feel out of synch with the rhythms of life, as though you just can’t manage to be in the right place at the right time, Albizia brings the magic back. Mimosa makes a nice ally, then, when a breakup feels especially unlucky or coincides with a streak of bad luck. Some may argue that losing love always feels unlucky; for just as we associate love with light, we also recognize it as a source of magic. So let me explain what I mean: Sometimes, the experience of losing love is coupled with new opportunities, synchronicity, and a feeling of invisible hands guiding us through unknown territory to better places, even in the midst of tears. Unlucky breakups feel very different: they might force you to move, leaving a job after you’ve just received a big promotion, or perhaps your partner instantly finds another lover while


you only succeed in getting mugged -- that type of thing. When life seems to have left you behind and you need a dose a magic, Albizia fits the bill. Referred to as the “tree of hapPiness,” mimosa is used in TCM for depression, stress, anxiety, shock, and trauma. Albizia seems to have an affinity for the brain and mind, enhancing and balancing the actions of neurotransmitters (Tierra, n.d.). It’s a good choice when the shock of grief and trauma lead to confusion or amnesia. A sweet and gently sedative medicine, mimosa helps soften feelings of bitterness and victimhood, bringing you back into the flow of life. The fluffy, pink flowers are luxuriously beautiful and remind me of cheerleading pompoms, as if the plant is your number one fan, cheering you on in moments of despair. (Admittedly, that may be the silliest signature anyone has ever suggested in the history of herbalism, but the impression rings true enough for me to mention.) The Sacral Chakra: Managing Guilt & Libido Relationships are governed in part by the second chakra, known in yogic traditions as the energy center that rules sexuality, pleasure, desire, and the emotions. Along with the heart, this chakra allows for deep physical and emotional connection with a partner. When a relationship ends, especially suddenly, the sacral chakra can fly out of balance. Some people experience a complete loss of libido for a period of time following a bad breakup, divorce, or the death of a partner. To my mind, this is not all that problematic. Allowing oneself a period of time for grieving and processing a loss before diving into a new relationship is a healthy practice that is often missing in a culture of Tinder and instant gratification. If one feels emotionally ready to enter into a sexual relationship but the body is not cooperating, there are many plants that can help reawaken the libido, and aphrodisiac plants have been wellcovered by others. Here, I’d like to focus on the opposite issue, and one that doesn’t get as much press: an unruly

increase in libido directly following the end of a relationship. For a while, I thought I might be the only person on the planet to experience this rather inconvenient symptom of heartache. What strange and unfortunate type of person, I wondered, becomes full of desire as soon as there is no outlet for the energy? Then I started asking friends if they too have experienced a post-breakup libido surge, and the answer from many was a resounding, “Yes!” followed by, “Thank you--I’ve always felt so weird and guilty about this!” It makes sense, I suppose, that when pleasure is withdrawn from our lives, we poignantly feel its loss. Pleasure is not only about sex, of course, but also the simple sweetness of affection. It’s an emotional experience as much as a physical one, so we feel the loss of affection both from our basic instincts as cuddly mammals and from our higher senses that desire emotional connection. As it turns out, Traditional Chinese Medicine makes a case for an increased libido following trauma. In TCM, extreme emotional impacts such as the end of a relationship can weaken both kidney yin and heart yin. Because yin vacuity leads to yang hyperactivity, this can result in symptoms like sleep disturbances, heart palpitations, and mental restlessness. It can also lead to hypersexuality combined with feelings of exhaustion, irritability, and forgetfulness. One text even lists erotic dreams and nocturnal emissions as symptoms of emotional turmoil (Kastner, 2004). I have another theory about why the libido sometimes runs rampant following a loss. Water is the element of the sacral chakra, which governs our emotional natures. When the emotions are too big to process all at once, they can get stuck in this chakra, manifesting in a variety of ways. Excess physical desire can be an indication of unhealed wounds of all kinds, but when you mix in the loss of a lover, the issue magnifies. This may be exacerbated by sudden feelings of radical freedom after leaving a relationship in which fidelity was valued or perhaps even a desire to “get back” at the former partner. Enter: the rebound.


The problem is, the choices we make when the sacral chakra is drunk on grief can lead to even more drama, trauma, and loss. The second chakra is intimately connected with our intuition, so when one is out of balance, the other is likely to become impaired as well. I have a few favorite plants that I reach for after a traumatic loss when I’d like the sacral chakra to sober up before making any rash decisions.

The first of these plants is Vitex agnus-castus, known as Chaste Tree for its historical use by monks, priests, and priestesses to encourage celibacy. But as Rosemary Gladstar (1993) points out, the plant is not a true anaphrodisiac, nor is it an aphrodisiac. As a hormonal regulator, it can balance out excess in either direction. Chaste tree has been used for the loss of libido and general zest for life in older folks and also for easing hyperactivity and sexual obsession in teenagers and young people (Wood, 2008). Matthew Wood also lists lack of libido following sexual abuse or exploitation as an indication for Vitex. Wood (2008) associates the plant with the dual archetypes of hunter and hunted, which can certainly come into play in relationship dramas. If we have been neglected or rejected in relationships, we may be tempted by the hunter archetype--the one who actively pursues us and showers us with attention, perhaps even inappropriately. The opposite can also occur at a relationship’s end, so that we are tempted to become the hunter archetype, aggressively or obsessively pursuing another. In either case, Vitex is good for folks who are tempted to jump from one dissatisfactory relationship into

another. It helps turn our attention and energy inward, so that we can work on ourselves before hastily latching on to the next available human being. Plus, Vitex is a good post-breakup ally in part because it is such a joyful, uplifting medicine. During a blind drop-dose session in class, one of my fellow students once termed Vitex berry tincture “a smile in a bottle,” a name that has stuck with me ever since. The plant seems to add a little sparkle to everything around you, while subtly easing excess desire. I wouldn’t say that it dashes a glass of cold water into the face of desire, but rather, takes the energy and raises it up a notch, allowing us to use that energy for something more constructive, creative, and selfaffirming. Another plant that acts as a healing balm for a wounded sacral chakra is Pine (Pinus spp.). Like Vitex, Pine helps us move energy stuck in the second chakra upward, pulling it into our conscious awareness. Pine also promotes strength and independence, bringing out our masculine side (regardless of our own gender) and helping us maintain proper boundaries and endure loneliness when need be. Pine flower essence is used for people who tend to blame themselves to such an extent that they become frozen with guilt, unable to move forward (Kaminski & Katz, 1996). Guilt is a valid concern in breakup scenarios, as many people carry guilt from times that they have hurt others. Guilt is also considered a shadow emotion of the second chakra, negatively impacting our sexuality and creativity. Pine promotes forgiveness of the self for any perceived misdeeds, especially those that involve sex. I find that Pine medicine also helps relieve gnawing feelings of jealousy by promoting self-acceptance and independence. When we feel like we’re not enough or get stuck comparing ourselves with others (such as the person our partner has left us for), Pine can help bring the focus back to the self, transmuting jealousy into a healthy desire for selfimprovement.


In fact, Pine relieves break-up woes in many ways: as a bitter digestive aid, it can provide ease when stress has our stomach tied in knots. With decongestant and expectorant properties, Pine can help move out grief and sorrow that have become stagnant in the lungs (more on grief and the respiratory system below). Topical preparations from Pine needles and resin ease physical aches and pains. Pine has circulatory stimulant properties that get the blood moving, warming us from the inside out, which is great when loneliness is accompanied by feelings of physical cold. As a nervine, Pine imbues a sense of steady, calm connectedness with the bigger picture of life (Klenner, 2015). All of these actions combine to create a grounding, soothing, and strengthening remedy that gets us up and moving again after loss. One of my favorite ways to enjoy Pine medicine is by making an infused oil with the needles and a few drops of essential oil and using it for massage and baths. Healing the Heart So far, we have covered efforts at survival and damage control for various feelings and scenarios that can come with losing a lover. Now

let’s turn our attention to the heart of the matter: tending to the wounded heart itself.

My all-time favorite plant for mending a broken heart is Hawthorn (Crataegus spp.), a member of the Rose family. This medicine will always have a special place in my apothecary due to a powerful personal experience I had when I first began studying herbalism. While sitting quietly near a Hawthorn tree with a single drop of the berry tincture on


my tongue, I was thrust quite unexpectedly into an altered state. I was shown a series of heartbreaking experiences that had occurred throughout my life like a movie montage, one after another, until I was weeping like a child. More importantly, I was shown how these seemingly unconnected wounds formed patterns in my life and my own behavior, whereby I had reenacted painful childhood experiences in my adult relationships. It was a raw experience and a much-needed healing crisis that opened my eyes to some of my own self-defeating patterns. Since then, I have turned to Hawthorn during acute heartbreak experiences like breakups and loss, times when the emotions are overwhelming and raw enough to cause physical heart pain. As a relaxing nervine, the plant eases the deep grief that awakens our most primordial fears of abandonment and rejection, providing calm even in the midst of a storm. Thorns are a signature for sharp pain (Hopman 2016), and having evolved as a means of protecting sweet, edible fruits, thorny plants tend to provide relief when we’ve been hurt while reaching out for the

sweetness of life. Thorns also offer protection to a heart that feels open, raw, and vulnerable. In addition to soothing acute grief, Hawthorn’s healing wisdom is also beneficial during times when old wounds are blocking the way and need to be dredged up, faced, and released. This process is a valuable way of healing the past and making way for a future filled with healthier, more conscious relationships. In the words of Rumi, “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” Hawthorn is a lovely ally for the process of unraveling the heart’s buried secrets and dismantling the beliefs and tendencies that act like Sleeping Beauty’s wall of thorns, keeping love out. Yet perhaps the most quintessential plant of love and thorns is the Rose (Rosa spp.). Just gazing at the sheer beauty of Rose blossoms or inhaling their luxurious scent can effect immediate change in the emotions. Rose’s uplifting, comforting, and soothing energy can help during intense moments when we feel angry, hurt, and


betrayed. The plant’s physical medicine is cooling and anti-inflammatory, a nice metaphor for Rose’s ability to cool the temper and relieve inflamed emotions of all kinds. When I’m angry at someone who has betrayed me, Rose acts as a cooling balm to the heart, sometimes revealing how my anger is often masking the deep sadness of betrayal that I have not yet been able to face. Cooling the flames of anger and opening my heart to sadness helps me take the first step toward acceptance and forgiveness. Kiva Rose Hardin turns to Rose medicines in times of trauma and distress, finding the tincture more effective than Rescue Remedy. As she explains, “An amazingly uplifting herb, I often use it as an antidepressant/antianxiety agent, especially for those who have been the victim of violence, sexual abuse or betrayal as well as anyone who can use more self-love. It has a profound opening effect on the heart and on sexuality, and is a deeply nourishing tonic for the nerves” (Hardin, 2008, para. 19). Our relationship with the self is, after all, our most important relationship. If we don’t love ourselves, we have a hard time giving and receiving love from others. A lack of self-love can be an insidious issue after rejection or betrayal, so Rose’s ability to foster self-love is one of the plant’s most important gifts. Rose also opens our hearts to an even higher form of love. Long valued as a mystical symbol of many spiritual traditions, Rose lifts us up to a higher vantage point where we can see that love is never truly lost because it is the very glue that binds the universe together. This may be sound like a vapid new age concept to some, but experiencing divine love is a deeply healing gift that words cannot properly convey. To my mind, Rose is a very high-vibration medicine that can help open our hearts to this deep truth. Violet (Viola spp.) is another plant that is profoundly soothing to an aching heart. With heart-shaped leaves, Violet was used by the ancient Greeks to ease anger and insomnia as well to provide comfort for the heart. Violet, particularly Viola tricolor, is sometimes called Heart's Ease, and the ancient use of this plant for

cooling a burning heart or mind persists today (Grieve, 1931/1971). Some herbalists employ Violet in cases of deep grief. As Amber Magnolia Hill (2017, para.18) writes, “After losing my mom in a car accident in 2015, I've come to think of Violet as a friend who helps to soften the jagged edges of living with trauma and loss." Violet leaf contains the anti-inflammatory compound salicylic acid, so it eases physical pains associated with stress, such as headaches. Violet is also a nervine and helps relax the mind when over-thinking is exacerbating our stress (Bennett, 2014). As a moistening and mucilaginous plant, Violet is a nice choice when grief has left us feeling dried-out and cried-out, with frazzled nerves and an inflamed mind.

Like Rose, Violet is a great ally when anger is ruling the emotions. As Robin Rose Bennett (2014, p. 210) says, "Not only does Violet help your body dissolve cysts, lumps, and bumps, this plant's soothing nature can help you dissolve the red-hot burn of anger, cool the draining white heat of frustration and resentment, and relieve the simmering roil of feeling stuck in separation when ruled by your judgmental mind." Just as Violet helps us dissolve hardness in the body, this plant also help us process hard emotions before they become crystalized within the body and mind.


I find that Violet aids the process of introspection, helping us go deep within and access our true feelings about a situation -- our heart's desire. It helps align the mind with the heart so that we can stop circling the same issues repeatedly, quieting the mind enough to hear the voice of the heart. This makes Violet a good remedy for when you're unsure whether or not to leave a relationship or when you have to make any difficult decision regarding love and romance. Another gift that Violet offers is its soothing and expectorant actions on the lungs; the plant is used as an expectorant for coughs and other respiratory conditions, especially those that are accompanied with dryness and inflammation ("Violet," n.d.). This is important in the context of heartache, since many healing traditions tell us that grief is gathered in the lungs and can stagnate there, causing congestion and other issues if not resolved. The expectorant qualities of Violet combine well with its heart-easing nature to help us move through grief that has become stuck in the lungs. In next section, we will dive more deeply into the connection between grief and the respiratory system and explore more plants that can support the lungs during times of heartache.

heart chakra. The lungs are ruled by the heart chakra, which is part of what makes breath work so powerful for releasing stagnant emotions. Grief and longing are considered this chakra’s shadow side (Judith, 2004); when we experience intense grief, it can literally take our breath away. Thus, the process of releasing pent-up grief is greatly aided by the use of plants that support the respiratory system. I have experienced this connection myself. Last winter I caught what was at first a relatively minor cold, but the congestion in my lungs and infection in my sinuses held on week after week, which turned into months. Meanwhile, I was on the edge of ending a relationship that caused me continual sorrow interspersed by moments of heartfelt love that made the choice to leave difficult. Finally, I made the connection between my unresolved grief and congestion, which continued even after I finally broke the relationship off. When April came around and I was still coughing, I knew I had to do something.

A Breath of Fresh Air Like many ancient healing traditions, TCM connects the emotions with various organs of the body. Grief is considered the emotion of the lungs and is associated with “a pale complexion, frequent sighs, and listlessness” (Wu et al., 2013, p. 79). Prolonged or unresolved grief can lead to a deficiency in lung qi, which is characterized by an increased susceptibility to respiratory issues like colds, flu, tonsillitis, bronchitis, asthma, and pneumonia. In addition, “sitting hunched over with tense shoulders for extended periods of time” is also detrimental to lung qi (Kastner, 2004, p. 79). This is a classic posture of grief, as we unconsciously pull our chest inward to protect our aching heart in times of sorrow. The yoga-based chakra system also connects the emotion of grief with the lungs by way of the

I had some Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) tincture I’d made earlier in the spring from fresh, cultivated roots and leaves. This remedy came to mind for physical reasons, as Goldenseal dries up excess mucous. I have also used Goldenseal tincture diluted with salt water in a neti pot for sinus infections. Just a few days of small, internal doses along with the neti treatment did wonders for me, clearing up the lingering congestion and infection. Working with Goldenseal also greatly benefitted my emotional wellbeing, giving me


the strength to truly process my sorrow. After all, while grief can cause lung issues, the reverse is also true: respiratory weakness can hinder our ability to process grief. Before we can breathe deeply into our emotions to release them, first we have to be able to breathe. Goldenseal is used as a flower essence for cutting energetic cords, the emotional and psychic ties we form with others that can end up draining our energy, especially if not released after a relationship has ended (Gilday & de la Tour, 2000). Personally, I have experienced nearly magical effects using Goldenseal to release lingering attachments to past lovers, even to the extent of having a former partner unexpectedly contact me to apologize and bring closure. Interestingly, Wood sees Goldenseal as a strengthener of the solar plexus and uses the plant in cases when a client has suffered an emotional loss, causing them to feel a “hemorrhage of emotional energy” or a sense of “all-goneness” from the solar plexus area (Wood, 1996, p. 297). This energy center boosts our willpower and can help us cultivate boundaries

and healthy detachment from what no longer serves us. Goldenseal is also used for wound-healing, with the ability to “seal up” gushing wounds so well that Wood (1996) warns against allowing any debris to become trapped inside. I see this ability as translating to wounds of the heart as well, especially those that continue to leak energy months or even years later. All of these aspects make Goldenseal a nice choice when things are lingering in limbo, whether the issue is grief stagnating in the respiratory tract or attachment lingering in the heart or mind. Another nice plant for grief-related respiratory issues is Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa), also known called pleurisy root. As the name suggests, a traditional use of this plant is for soothing inflammation of the pleura, the lining of the lungs, which can be caused by a variety of conditions including respiratory infections. Butterfly Weed is indicated when acute infections have settled on the lungs and become chronic (Wood, 1996). According to Wood, an


indication for this plant is “a feeling of oppression and tightness in the chest, impinging on the heart” (Wood, 1996, p. 160). As a diffusive herb, Asclepias moves stagnant energy outward and can be used for fluid in the lungs as well as clicking or catching in the joints (Wood, 1996). Butterfly Weed works to move emotional stagnation out as well, helping us deal with sticking points that trip us up time and time again. Butterfly Weed is named for the beautiful winged insects that enjoy the flower’s nectar so much, and to me, this plant is a symbol for the intense type of transformation that we see when the caterpillar becomes a butterfly. Once, while working with Asclepias, I was inspired to cut a flower stalk and sleep with it in bed that night. I proceeded to have an unexpected and rather sexy dream about somebody whom I wasn’t supposed to desire, and in fact, I had been denying there was any attraction between us at all. Butterfly Weed brought the issue to my conscious mind so that I could face my feelings and confide in a trusted friend, who helped me process the guilt I was feeling about this forbidden attraction. Later I learned that Asclepias was named after Asclepius, the Greek god of medicine. An asclepion was a temple in ancient Greece and Rome where patients would seek healing. One of the treatments offered was dream therapy, whereby patients would spend the night at the temple in the hopes of receiving a healing dream (Morris, 2007). It seems that Asclepias brought the experience of the asclepion to me, no temple required. While this story does not directly relate to heartache, I believe it does speak to the power of Butterfly Weed’s ability to dredge up deep, even unconscious emotions. I might have included this plant in the section on the second chakra as well. Not only does Butterfly Weed possess beautiful orange flowers, the color of the sacral chakra, but it also is good for releasing bound-up emotions surrounding guilt and sexuality. Asclepius can help us release self-loathing, fostering acceptance of our human flaws and desires. Thus, it can be useful for processing

grief that has become stuck in the lungs following a loss, even and especially when our own actions have caused the end of a relationship. Other plants that open the lungs and support respiratory health can also be used for processing grief. For example, Osha (Ligusticum porteri) is one that I don’t have much personal experience with because it doesn’t grow where I live and, like Goldenseal, it’s an at-risk plant. However, herbalists who do have a connection with osha have allied with this powerful plant for moving grief from the lungs. As mentioned above, Pine is another ally to consider for releasing grief from the respiratory tract, and in fact, it has a history of use by some Native American tribes for healing from the loss of a loved one (Moerman, 2009). A Word on Entheogens While a full discussion of entheogens is well beyond the scope of this article, I do want to briefly mention that they can be powerful allies in the process of moving through trauma and difficult emotions. Psychoactive plants, when taken with respect and reverence and in the context of ceremony, help us to view our own patterns with great clarity. When it comes to relationships that feel difficult or impossible, they can help us better understand the other person’s perspective, thus fostering forgiveness. A friend of mine once partook in series of Ayahuasca sessions with questions about his difficult marriage in the hopes of avoiding divorce. The Ayahuasca brew (containing Banisteriopsis caapi and Psychotria viridis) fostered a vision which showed him a visual map of his wife’s troubled upbringing, allowing him greater compassion for her behavior. While it did not save the marriage, my friend says that these experiences were nonetheless invaluable for helping him through the difficult process of divorce. Entheogens have also helped me process heartache time and time again. A San Pedro (Echinopsis pachanoi) ceremony once opened my


eyes to the fact that I was accepting far less than I deserved from my partnership. This was brought to my attention during the ceremony and also that night in a dream in which my partner recklessly drove the car off a waterfall, killing us both. We were stuck in a sort of Goundhog Day-like scenario, so that we repeated the same scene over and over: He drove like a wild man while I pleaded for him to be careful, only for him to drive us into oblivion again and again.

have often helped me see the bright side of things, showing me a review of valuable things I learned from the relationship and teaching me to focus on gratitude for the good experiences rather than dwelling upon the pain of loss. Mushrooms have been such a blessing in my life, providing lessons in resourcefulness, boundaries, and inner strength when I need them the most.

The message was clear: no matter how I might try to get through to my partner and save the relationship, his behavior would not change. It was a harsh lesson, but San Pedro helped me find the motivation to remove myself from a situation that had become unhealthy.

Of course, entheogens aren’t for everyone. If they don’t call to you, there are plenty of other plants that can help process tough emotions and situations. In the words of Stephen Harrod Buhner (1998, p. 167), “To the attentive mind, all plants are psychotropic; they all change consciousness, awareness, understanding, and sense of self.”

I’ve also turned to Psilocybin mushrooms (Psilocybe spp.) for healing my heart after the end of cherished relationships over the years. They

As someone who was brought into an altered state with gentle Hawthorn, I can certainly attest to this truth.


Opening to Love After the experience of losing love, an important step in the healing process is the willingness and ability to open the heart to love once again when the opportunity arises. Falling in love is a beautiful experience that can be healing unto itself, but opening to love after loss can also trigger fears and traumatic memories that may have lain dormant for years. This can leave us feeling frightened, vulnerable, and tempted to shut down in an effort to avoid future heartbreak. Any of the classic heart herbs can help with the process of opening to love, but Rose is especially well-suited for this purpose. What better ally than the ancient, classic symbol of love and devotion? The beauty of Rose as a heart-opener is that the plant fosters self-love and strength alongside vulnerability, encouraging balance between openness and protection. In the words of Bennett (2014, p. 225), “Rose requests that you value yourself, and helps you to keep your selfrespect in all your relationships, particularly the intimate ones.” At the same time, Rose helps us most past the indifference and isolation that can come with a wounded heart. The flower essence is used to overcome apathy and alienation, encouraging us to take emotional risks and fully engage with life and love, accepting that pain and challenge are simply a part of the bargain (Kaminski & Katz, 1996). Rose is also a nice choice for encouraging openhearted sensual experiences. As Kiva Rose explains, “An age old aphrodisiac, stirring up both blood and libido as well as opening up the heart, it has a history of treating sexual dysfunction such as impotence and frigidity” (Hardin, 2007, para. 12). I especially enjoy engaging the scent of Rose for opening the heart, relaxing the nerves, and getting into the mood for romance. Rose petal infused oil, perhaps with a few drops of Rose essential oil, is lovely for massage. I like to combine Rose oil with Pine oil to create a lovely combination of feminine and masculine energies for a sensual massage oil that fosters deep physical, emotional, and psychic connection.

Oats (Avena sativa) can also be of great support while opening to the experience of love. Oatstraw baths and tea, Milky Oats extract, and even oatmeal are ways to enjoy the relaxing, nervine properties of this plant. Gently uplifting, Avena is like a comforting arm over our shoulders during moments of anxiety, letting us know that things will turn out fine if we can just relax. Oats provide nourishment for frazzled nerves and can help ground the electrifying, sometimes sleepless experience of falling in love. Susun Weed (1989) praises Avena as a plant that boosts the libido, helping us “feel our Oats” and providing nourishment for the nerves so that we are able to experience more pleasure. It can help us move past a fear of intimacy and feel more comfortable being vulnerable with another person. Avena also enhances the intuition, which is especially helpful when navigating new relationships. Appropriately, Oats also benefit the heart, regulating its rhythm, lowering cholesterol, and supporting the heart muscles and circulatory vessels (Weed, 1989). Oats also supports the emotional heart, helping us feel sturdy while also enhancing our desire to connect. Another ally for the process of opening to love is Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis), a nervine that works wonders on anxiety. I suppose many folks find first dates exciting, but I have always found them nerve-wracking. Lemon Balm’s calming, uplifting vibes are great for relieving nerves during the first few dates, making these experiences more relaxed and enjoyable.


Lemon Balm eases anxiety-related physical symptoms like nervous headaches, indigestion, and the lack of appetite (never ideal during a dinner date). Sometimes referred to as heart’s delight, Lemon Balm has an affinity with the heart, easing palpitations and high blood pressure, especially when associated with nervousness (Wood, 2008). This plant also elevates the mind, clearing away negative selftalk and irrational fears, allowing us to be fully open to the present moment. Sensual Self-Care Of course, plants are not the end of the story when it comes to healing heartache. There is no substitute for other healing techniques like talk therapy, shamanic healing, energy work, and ceremony. Even the simplest of self-care rituals like breathwork, movement, and salt baths are crucial when recovering from loss of any kind. When it comes to losing love, it’s important to get the senses involved in the healing process,

since our bodies may feel starved for affection in the wake of losing a lover. Healthy touch such as massage or other kinds of body work with a trusted practitioner are nice ways to soothe the body and open the heart after loss. When it comes to herbs, I recommend crafting remedies that both nourish and indulge the senses, like scented oils, bath teas, and sweet remedies like Rose glycerites and Lemon Balm honey. Sometimes, working with just one plant at a time can be a great comfort for its simplicity and depth. At other times, creating a blend and giving it a bad-ass name is even more empowering. For example, I may craft a tincture blend of Hawthorn, Pine, and Mimosa, perhaps with a few drops of Datura flower essence, and label the bottle “I Will Survive” as a daily reminder of strength. In any case, the types of preparations that make us feel pampered, loved, and strong are the ones to turn to when easing a troubled heart.


Calling on plants in ritual is also a powerful healing practice. For instance, some folks incorporate thorns from Hawthorn or Rose into herbal preparations for a protective influence, while others keep or wear thorns as a talisman for the same purpose. A ritual herbal bath can be done for cleansing before a releasing or forgiveness ceremony; a few drops of Goldenseal in the bathwater works especially well for this. I also recommend mimosa for ceremonies to bring magic, love, and sensuality back into our lives. When tending to your own broken heart, remember to be patient and gentle with yourself. There is no need to suffer over our suffering or exacerbate grief by beating ourselves up for feeling sad, angry, or lonely. Stay with the process, even if you think you should be over it already. Rather than a sign of weakness, a broken heart is like a badge of honor, revealing our bravery and openness to life. In the words of Elizabeth Gilbert, “This is a good sign, having a

broken heart. It means we have tried for something.” Our culture, so eager to celebrate youth, increase, union, and beginnings, often forgets to honor and bless that which is old, waning, complete, and dying. Yet loss and heartbreak are something we all must face as part of the human experience. I will end with a quote from Robin Rose Bennett (2014, p. 219), who says it so beautifully: “You are designed to open to your loving nature. This is part of your personal and social evolution, and right now is the pivotal moment. You are being called to move from being led by the small, excluding mind to being led by the spacious mind and the inclusive heart. Common to all people is the fact that, where there is pain and grief, heartache and heartbreak, the heart is being invited to open.” May we find the strength to accept the invitation.


References Bennett, R. R. (2014). The gift of healing herbs: Plant medicines and home remedies for a vibrantly healthy life. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books. Buhner, S. (1998). Sacred and herbal healing beers. Boulder, CO: Siris Books. Donahue, S. (2013). Quick notes on herbs for grief and fear. Green Man Ramblings [blog]. Retrieved from www.greenmanramblings.blogspot.com/2013/04/quick-noteson-herbs-for-grief-and-fear.html

Kaminski, P., & Katz, R. (1996). Flower essence repertory. Nevada City, CA: The Flower Essence Society. Kastner, J. (2004). Chinese nutrition therapy: Dietetics in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). New York, NY: Thieme. Klenner, A. (2015). Pine herbal monograph. Natural Herbal Living [website]. Retrieved from https:// naturalherballiving.com/Pine-herbal-monograph/ Moerman, D. (2009). Native American medicinal plants: An ethnobotanical dictionary. Portland, OR: Timber Press Inc. Morris, D. (2007). Un-forgetting Asclepius: An erotics of illness. New Literary History (38)3, 419-441.

Gilday, K., & de la Tour, S. (2000). Flower essences. In R. Gladstar & P. Hirsch (Eds.), Planting the future (55-59). Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press.

Tierra, M. (n.d.) Albizia: The tree of hapPiness. Retrieved from https://www.planetherbs.com/specific-herbs/albizia-the-treeof-hapPiness.html

Gladstar, R. (1993). Herbal healing for women. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.

Ullian, N. (2017). A materia medica for grief. The Herbarium [website]. Retrieved from https:// herbarium.theherbalacademy.com/2017/03/a-materia-medicafor-grief/

Hardin, K. R. (2007). Sweet medicine: Healing with the wild heart of Rose. Enchantments [blog]. Retrieved from http:// bearmedicineherbals.com/sweet-medicine-healing-with-thewild-heart-of-Rose.html Hill, A. M. (2017). Violet: Gentle nourishment from the ground up. Mythic Medicine [blog]. Retrieved from http:// mythicmedicine.love/blog/Violet Hopman, E. E. (2016). The signatures of plants: Learning nature’s alphabet. Reality Sandwich [website]. Retrieved from http://realitysandwich.com/319608/the-signatures-of-plantslearning-natures-alphabet/ Judith, A. (2004). Eastern body, western mind: Psychology and the chakra system as a path to the self. New York, NY: Celestial.

“Violet.” (n.d.). The Herbarium [website monograph database]. Retrieved from https://herbarium.theherbalacademy.com/ monographs/#/monograph/2027 Weed, S. (1989). Healing Wise. Woodstock, NY: Ash Tree Pub. Wood, M. (1997). The book of herbal wisdom. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books. Wood, M. (2008). The earthwise herbal: A complete guide to old world medicinal plants. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books. Wu, H., Fang, Z., & Cheng, P. (2013). Introduction to diagnosis in Traditional Chinese Medicine. (C. Hans, Trans.). Hackensack, NJ: World Century Publishing Corporation.


Ericaceae By Shana Lipner Grover

This is the Heath or Heather family and is home to many recognized foods and plant medicines. From Blueberries and Cranberries to Manzanita and Uva ursi, there are numerous rock star plants that call Ericaceae their home.

Within a family will be some common botanical characteristics. The heath family flower shape is generally regular or actinomorphic or radial, meaning they have numerous lines of symmetry through the flower producing equal images.

Arctostaphylos


Fused petals are common in these flowers, with numerous manifestations. The genera we are talking about today, Arctostaphylos and Vaccinium share a flower shape called an urn, which means fused into a bell shaped and constricted at the opening. These flowers hang down in pendant form and often need buzz pollination to make the pollen attainable. Buzz pollination is so cool! The bee attaches to the opening and beats its wings at a specific frequency that causes the grains of pollen to be released from the anthers. A brilliant display of the relationship created between bees and Health family plants provide both get what they need. Another common interaction with the insect world are known as nectar robbers! The nectar is gathered from holes bitten in the petals instead of entering through the natural openings. The holes are usually at the base of the flower, closer to the nectary glands. This can avoid interaction with the reproductive structures like pollen covered stamen and reduce the pollination instead of encouraging it as normal flower access would cause. Nectar robbers are often a type of wasp, bee or ant. This practice takes away from the mutualistic relationship created between plants and insects, with flowers getting pollinated while the insect received something of value, pollen or nectar. Then again, the mysteries of the natural world are often vast when looking at fine details. Perhaps there is some relationship happening within the flower that we have yet to figure out. Ericaceae family members also have a lot going on with their stamen. They are epipetalous, meaning attached to the petals and they form in two whorls of 5 stamen each. They also commonly have awns, slits or pores on the anther heads. For people who like to geek out with a magnifying lens, these are so cool to see! Like little secrets, shut behind fused petals that you must carefully open to see. Awns are like little antennae, while slits and pores are openings of differing shapes on the anthers. Slits are thin openings like the slits of cat eyes and

that can range from small openings to running the length of the anther, some genus in the Solanaceae family of plants also have slits on their anthers. Pores tend to be more round or oval shaped or could look like little tubes or horns with openings at the tips. Some anthers will have awns and pores while others may have just slits or any singular or combination. Description of the openings, measurement of length of the awn or the diameter of the pore in millimeters can be a deciding factor in a key of species. The leaves of Ericaceous plants tend to be evergreen and leathery in texture, save for a few exceptions of plants like Pyrola. Pyrola are mixotrophic, meaning they can obtain nutrition from photosynthesis and mycorrhizal fungi attached to the roots. If the environment is not conducive to growing leaves, Pyrola will choose to save the energy and rely solely on mycorrhizal fungi for a growing season. This relationship with the mycorrhizal fungi enables many Ericaceous plants to thrive in acidic soil like conifer forests or volcanic soils. One of the most popular genera in the Ericaceae is Arctostaphylos and California is the center of biological diversity. Arctostaphylos include Manzanita and Uva ursi, also known as Bearberry or Kinnikinnik. Interesting side note, Kinnikinnik refers to an indigenous word meaning smoking herb that was used when pointing out Uva ursi as part of a smoking blend. This genus is a woody shrub with a paper-like, red, peeling bark on its branches. This astringent bark works well when put into a smoking blend to create a thicker smoke. This thin bark is like another genus in the Ericaceae family, Arbutus, which includes the Madrone tree with its tall statuesque branches and the Strawberry Tree. Arctostaphylos genera are some of the plants that rely on buzz pollination for bees to extract the pollen but are very commonly found with tell-tale nectar robber holes bitten into the petals.


itself against attack and insufficiency. A tone membrane is in balance with all the factors involved in its health and has a vitality to it that allows it to respond to stimuli in an appropriate manner, calling on allies as needed, mucous, the immune system, the micro-biome bacteria, etc.

Medicinally the Arctostaphylos best known herb is Uva ursi, Arctostaphylos uva-ursi or Arctostaphylos nevadensis. These are well used diuretic herbs that are appropriate to use in response to a Urinary Tract Infection or Bladder infection. Both have similar signs, pain upon urination, irritation, urgency and a generally sensitive or inflamed feeling “down-there”. Uva ursi works in a couple different ways. Any diuretic is helping by encouraging urination, which is a flushing action heading out of an elimination pathway. Diuretics aid the body by flushing out excess pathogens to reduce severity of infections as well as affect the ph of mucosal membranes, making the membrane more resistant to additional infection. Urinary acidifiers seem to reduce the effectiveness of Uva-ursi, so best used when urine is in alkaline ph. If the UTI is helped by cranberry, then Uva ursi will be of help as well. As a urinary tract astringent, the herb helps to constrict the capillaries at the tissue surface, reducing the amount of swelling, irritation and pain. Astringents also tonify the membranes, this gives more resilience to the membrane to defend

Both actions, Diuretic and Astringent have overall drying effects on the body. This should be taken into account in relationship to the amount of water and electrolytes consumed as well as the nature of the environment and the constitution of the person. For instance, diuretics and astringents in the dry deserts of the southwest can become irritating to mucosal membranes when the person is dehydrated or has an dry constitution. This may manifest as dry skin, poor digestion, flatulence, halitosis from tooth infections, dry sinuses or chronic constipation. It doesn’t mean these folks shouldn’t use these herbs but that they should be formulated appropriately to not overly dry a system that is already dry or tense. Meanwhile someone who sweats and secretes and also lives in an environment that rains a lot, may not notice the drying effects as all. Uva ursi leaf, and many Arctostaphylos genus plants, also have a constituent called Arbutin. Arbutin is a glycoside that is absorbed from the gastro-intestinal tract, is converted in the liver to Hydroquinone through hepatic conjugation and is eliminated through the renal system. When excreted in conjunction with alkaline urine, Hydroquinone is highly antiseptic and astringent, which affects the mucosal membranes of the bladder and urethra. This contributes to reducing instance and severity of Urinary Tract infection or Cystitis symptoms. Most Arctostaphylos can be used for this reason but Uva ursi is more known because it grows circumboreal, around the globe within a latitudinal range (mostly northern hemisphere). Manzanita shares a genus with Uva-ursi and can be used similarly, however it can be a bit more aggressive so it’s often combined with demulcents.


Here in the southwest, Sphaeralcea Globe mallow or Malocothamnus, Bush mallow, grow in similar bioregion and they combine well. The arbutin constituent is highest in the leaves but will climb after proper storage of the leaves due to enzymatic activity causing the conversion of Arbutin into hydroquinone. To speed this along, Michael Moore recommends adding 1-2 tablespoons of 95% alcohol to a quart jar of dried leaves and put a lid on it. The alcohol will turn to gas over time and weave into the leaves, this will make constituents in leaves more available to the water when making tea or a sitz bath. To take this step further, he recommends using a cold tea infusion or steep over night to encourage the enzymatic activity making more hydroquinone available. Manzanita or Uva ursi have both been used positively for sitz baths after birth. Being astringent and antiseptic to damaged tissues, it aides in reducing bleeding from a tear to the tissues or episiotomy. However, one must be careful to not seal up a wound too quickly

without encouraging the regranulation of the healing tissue or there is a potential of locking in infection. Mixing in some demulcent and vulnerary herbs like marshmallow or calendula will reduce this issue. Arctostaphylos genus have two primary common names, Uva ursi and Manzanita. Both have numerous species associated, are shrubs with peeling red thin bark, similar leaf shapes and texture, similar flowers and berries. Their differences lie in the shape of shrub and their growing regions. Uva ursi is a prostrate groundcover shrub, meaning it spreads its woody branches along the ground. While Manzanita, which means “little apple�, are upright or erect shrubs. The size and shape are dependent on the species and the growing region. Uva ursi grows in more acidic growing medium like coniferous forest and volcanic soils, while Manzanita has adapted wider ecology which includes acidic soils as well as deserts. It especially thrives in chaparral ecosystems where Manzanita is one of five dominant shrubs of the California chaparral


alongside Scrub Oak Quercus, Ceanothus, Chemise Adenostoma and Sugarbush or Lemonade berry, Rhus ovata or Rhus integrifolia, respectively. Many Manzanita, especially those that live in chaparral ecosystems have an additional tissue storage called a burl. Burls are common amongst chaparral plants that deal with wild fire as a regular occurrence. The burl is located between the root crown and the above ground portion of the plant. It holds vital extra storage for the draught stricken leaner times, provides protection to the root system when a wildfire burns through and holds extra energy to commence the regrowth. Due to fire suppression being the primary way of dealing with fire in California’s chaparral ecosystems, the amount of fire fodder in the form of dry invasive grasses creates wildfires that burn much hotter than traditional wildfires from before the 20th century. These hotter wildfires can burn right through the burl of the plant and kill it. When our chaparral ecosystem plants don’t grow, the invasive plants move in and can shift the flora and fauna that visit the area. However, Manzanita is a hardy chaparral ecosystem dominant plant, meaning it exemplifies the chaparral. It won’t be long until these plants dig their roots in past the weedy Mustard and Erodium to take their residence in their neighborhood once again. Manzanita has a relationship with fire and will focus its energy on branches filled with leaves and let other branches dry up. This is courting fire by providing dry branches to burn. Manzanita wants this because many of its seeds require some scarification to germinate. Fire suppression contributes to the reduction of native plants and encourages invasive plants to move into the area, which then creates hotter fires that many chaparralian burls can’t survive through. This is the situation we find ourselves in today after decades of fire suppression and many more homes being built in chaparral environments due to population density.

One of my favorite aspects of botany is called plant intelligence, the way plants evolve to better their chances of species survival. Both Uva ursi and Manzanita have different actions to aid their survival. Since Uva-ursi is a prostrate shrub crawling along the earth, animals regularly step on it as they pass through a stand. Uva ursi will slowly move the direction of its branches to avoid being stepped on and help create an animal trail through the stand! While Manzanita in southern California often have glaucous leaves, a pale-grey to blue green coating to reduce absorption of intense summer sun. Many plants and even some animals use glaucous tissue coatings to protect from the sun, but Manzanita does more. It can shift its leaves, ever so slowly, in relationship to the direction of the suns’ rays, so the thin edge is facing the sun, reducing the amount of direct sun on the flat side of the leaf. The leaves actually track the sun across the sky, reducing the amount of direct sun hitting the flat and exposed parts of the leaf and reducing evaporation of vital moisture, especially in dry, desert or high desert environments. Plant intelligence is so cool!


Arctostaphylos create berries that can be edible, but the flavor is dependent on the species and often on the growing environment. Many Manzanita berries are far too astringent to enjoy by just popping in your mouth, but indigenous have some wonderful processes for getting the excess tannins out and drying and powdering remaining fruit. Meanwhile, some berries are refreshingly tart and delicious like miniature green apples. The most common food plants of the Ericaceae include the genus Vaccinium, in which we find blueberries, boysenberries, cranberries and bilberries. Rich in Vitamin C and bioflavonoids, these berries are known for their intense concentration of blue/red pigment antioxidants called anthocyanins. Anthocyanins have a positive effect on the integrity of the tiny capillaries of the body like those of the eyes and kidneys.

shrubs. Some shrubs crawl on the ground while others grows upwards of 6 feet. These berries, that often grow in mountainous regions, are a favorite of omnivore mammals like bears. Which works well since, like other Ericaceae plants, they like growing in acidic soils found in coniferous and oak forests where bears often dwell. Most berries come from a superior ovary, but the Vaccinium flower has inferior ovary; the flower leaves a remnant of itself on the berry in a little spiked ring that can be seen at the bottom of the fruit.

Vaccinium plants are classified as shrubs or subshrubs, sometimes referred to as dwarf

Vaccinium fruit are a common food source for many animals from squirrels and deer to moths and butterflies and of course, humans. The leaves of these shrubs are astringent and diuretic while healing and strengthening to structural tissues of the kidneys. Vaccinium leaves can be used as a wash for skin wounds and ulcers, drank as a tea for heartburn or sore throat. Its energetics are cooling and drying, to cool the heat of infection or inflammation.


If you have some coniferous trees in your yard with a bit of shade under them, you could plant some Ericaceae family plants! Vaccinium bushes are native across most of north America with numerous species overlapping throughout the southeast. Check out your local herbarium to find if you have any native Vacciniums. Other Ericaceae plants include Rhododendrons, the robustly flowering shrubs that bring bursting color into the under canopy of conifer forests. Former Ericaceae, now in the Pyrolacaea: Pipsessewa (Chimaphila) , is used similarly to

Uva ursi due to Arbutin glycosides, but not as astringent, also commonly called Princes Pine. With 124 genera Ericaceae is large family with overlapping food and medicine within genus. They thrive in specific environments and provide shelter and building materials to local ecosystem animals from the dried leaves and peeling bark. These shrubby plants are hardy once established. Start your relationship with an Ericaceae plant today, even if that means your eating more Blueberries, one of our richest sources of antioxidants with little sugar! Enjoy!


Lion’s Mane Mushroom (Hericium erinaceus) Everything You’ve Wanted to Know But Were Afraid to Ask

by Marija Helt Yamabushi, “those who sleep in the mountains”, are ascetics in Japan who live…well, in the mountains. They seek enlightenment in nature in

a Buddhist tradition that has elements of Shintoism, Taoism and nature worship (1). The mushroom Hericium erinaceus is called


Yamabushitake in Japan because it resembles the robes worn by these monks. “Take” means mushroom, by the way. As in Maitake, Shiitake, Matsutake, Yamabushitake, etc.

example, Taxol, the chemo drug originally extracted from the Yew tree, is made by an endophyte within the tree rather than by the tree itself.

Lion’s Mane is the common name I first learned, and it stuck. Though Lion’s Mane could just as well be called “the mushroom with many names”. The botanical name Hericium erinaceus came about in 1797 and means, redundantly enough, “hedgehog hedgehog”. The mushroom looks somewhat like an albino hedgehog if you use your imagination. Or maybe a toupee for an aging punk rocker. There are over 2 dozen taxonomic synonyms for H. erinaceus (2)…have fun doing a research literature review on it! Here’s a non-comprehensive list of additional common names:

We were taught in herb school to look up for Lion’s Mane. It’s often high up in the crook of a tree. Some years ago in Philadelphia of all places, I found a giant Lion’s Mane mushroom growing on a downed log. (A lesson: Don’t believe everything that you’re taught.) Anyway, I’d not encountered Lion’s Mane in the wild before and jumped up and down like an idiot. Aaaannnnnd….I picked it. I now feel like a jerk for gathering it. Though not rare back east, Hericium species generally aren’t the most common shrooms out there. Kits are easy to purchase online, and now I grow my own.

• Pom Pom Blanc - “White pom pom”, a name created by a San Francisco chef • Bear’s Head - More rarely “Boar’s Head”… perhaps a typo that got perpetuated?? ! • Old Man’s Beard - Not to be confused with the lichen, Usnea • Bearded Tooth - This is a weird one • Igel-Stachelbart - German. Igel is “hedgehog”, stachelbart is “prickly beard” • Hou Tou Gu - Pin Yin for “Monkey Head Mushroom” in China

Eating Lion’s Mane

Where Lion’s Mane Grows It grows in my kitchen at the moment. In the wild, Hericeum species grow in broadleaf and coniferous trees in Asia, North America, South America, Europe and Australia. Remember that what we generally see on a tree or stump and call a “mushroom” are really just the sex parts. The actual organism lives within the host. Lion’s Mane is saprophytic, growing in dead or dying wood, though Lion’s Mane may sometimes be parasitic on live wood. There is evidence that Lion’s Mane may also grow endophytically, with the fruiting body emerging from a crack or knot hole in the bark (2). An endophyte is a fungus that lives within the host’s tissues without causing damage. Endophytes may be responsible for many of the medicinal properties that we attribute to plants. For

Do it. It’s good. Lion’s Mane is popular for its mild lobstery scent and flavor. It’s a delicacy when properly cooked. The mild seafood scent comes from a few volatile oil components: 2methyl-3-furanthiol, 2-ethylpyrazine and 2,6diethylpyrazine (that are also antimicrobial….fighting food poisoning while you eat!) (3). I thought about eating what I harvested in Philly, but it would have taken maybe 5 minutes to snarf it down. Instead, I made a double extract that lasted a couple of years. There are a slew of Lion’s Mane recipes online. Dry sautéing is a good way to start the cooking process. Slice the mushrooms in thin, even sections, 1/2 inch thick or less if you have good knife handling prowess. Heat a pan on medium, add the slices in a single layer and sprinkle them with salt to facilitate water removal without steaming the mushrooms in the process. Steamed mushrooms have the consistency of rubber. Cook for 5 or more minutes then flip them. Continue cooking until they are starting to brown on both sides. If you have a lot of mushroom slices to get through, remove the browned ones from the pan while repeating the cooking process until all of the slices are browned. Add them all back to the pan then add whatever else you are using for your recipe.


Consider keeping it simple to showcase the delicate flavor of Lion’s Mane…maybe just some butter, salt and pepper. If feeling particularly spunky, you can add a splash of manzanilla sherry. And, Lion’s Mane is nutritious! For example, it’s 20% good quality protein and 5% healthy fatty acids by dry weight (4). Traditional Uses of Lion’s Mane Not to miss out on the obvious, Lion’s Mane has been eaten as a valued food around the globe (7). In North America, Lion’s Mane was also used as to staunch the bleeding of wounds. Hericeum species are valued in China and Japan to nourish the Spleen, Liver, Heart, Lung and Kidneys. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Lion’s Mane is a vitality tonic, and has been used for many centuries in Eastern Asia for treating neurasthenia and debility. It’s additionally used for insomnia and other aspects of Qi deficiency (5). Lion’s Mane improves weak digestion and is a remedy for other issues in the “middle burner” in TCM (6). The middle burner corresponds, metabolically speaking, to the Stomach and Spleen. The Stomach breaks down or “ferments” foods while the Spleen is responsible for nutrient assimilation and transport. Moving into research, Lion’s Mane is not as wellstudied as, say, Shiitake and Turkey Tails, but the situation is changing with more attention being focused on this tasty and chemically interesting mushroom. As usual in the botanical world, the emerging science supports the traditional uses. Lion’s Mane & the Digestive System Back to digestion. Lion’s Mane is used in Japan and China for gastritis, chronic reflux, epigastric pain, ulcers in the stomach and duodenum, and for digestive system cancers and cancer prevention. The mushroom nourishes the intestines and strengthens the Spleen (5). Lion’s Mane may heal ulcers and reduce their incidence at least in part via anti-bacterial effects against Helicobacter pylori, a significant cause of both ulcers and gastric cancer. More than one

mushroom component is active here, including water-soluble polysaccharide complexes (8) and components that come out in organic solvents (9, 10). The caveat is that these studies were in vitro, which doesn’t necessarily mean that the antibacterial effect happens in people. Given that the mushroom or its extract would, presumably, come into contact with the bacteria in the digestive tract after ingestion, the above studies may have relevance in the “real world”. I like Lion’s Mane in a dynamic duo with Meadowsweet for hot, burning digestive issues such as those noted earlier; or with the addition of Mallow for a ménage à trois of digestive goodness. Lion’s Mane has been in formulas for multiple clients with reflux or epigastric or abdominal pain. For instance, a friend/client learned that her chronic throat clearing was due to “silent” reflux that had caused significant inflammatory damage to her lower esophagus. Her formula has been 50% Lion’s Mane, and 25% each Meadowsweet and Mallow. Between this and some dietary shifts, her throat clearing has gone down significantly, though she hasn’t yet been re-scoped to assess the esophagus. All 3 botanicals are for soothing and reducing inflammation, but the Lion’s Mane in particular was included for healing and to help prevent progression of the esophageal lesions to something more serious. Given that digestive issues are probably one of the most common thing we herbalists see in our practice, even in folks coming in for other stuff, Lion’s Mane is good to have in the tool kit. Lion’s Mane also works further down the GI tract, reducing gut inflammation in part through effects on the gut microbiome and attenuating inflammatory bowel diseases in experimental models (11, 12). An older, placebo controlled study in people found that Lion’s Mane reduced signs and symptoms of atopic gastritis (13). Atrophic gastritis is an inflammatory condition that damages the stomach lining. Lion’s mane reduced epigastric pain, signs of intestinal dysplasia and infiltration of immune cells into the stomach lining (13).


Lion’s Mane & the Nervous System In Asia, Lion’s Mane is turned to for dementia, sleep issues and other nervous system-related stuff. Here in the Rockies, I live in a community full of cyclists and have worked with a few head injury cases. In the aftermath of head injuries, folks may experience cognitive impairment, fatigue, seizures, depression, mood swings, insomnia and other problems. For these (including my own occasional head bopping) I usually combine Lion’s Mane in equal parts with another fantastic anti-inflammatory and tonic for the brain, Skullcap. One client started on Keppra after having a seizure following her cycling accident. A couple months later, she seized again after having stopped the Keppra. She resumed the Keppra and came in to see me 10 months after the crash. Her goal was to use herbs to wean off of Keppa because she was experiencing depression and fatigue, known side effects of the drug. Though it was also possible that the symptoms were residual from the crash. Either way, her mood and energy improved after a couple months on the formula. Since the depression and fatigue were impoved, she decided to continue the Keppra after all, being afraid of a future seizure. I’m guessing that her symptoms may have been from the crash itself rather than the Keppra because she eventually didn’t need her formula any more despite continuing the medication. Another client crashed her bike and hit her head, though not particularly hard. She had a history of multiple head injuries and even though this was a comparatively minor accident, it apparently was the straw that broke the camel’s back. In the aftermath, she was severely fatigued and developed visual disturbances, mood swings, headaches and insomnia. She came in 2 months after the crash and has been on a formula based mainly on Lion’s Mane and Skullcap for several months since then. She is having chiropractic work done as well. Either this, her formula, the passage of time or all of the above helped enough that she regained some

energy. And then started to “overdo it”, in her words. And her energy tanked again. She’s had to slow way down, but notices a difference when she takes her formula regularly versus when she runs out and doesn’t get a refill right away. A young client has hand tremors that have gotten worse over the years. Her father has the same issue and it has been progressive. Her paternal grandmother had MS and dementia and the client feels that her dad is now showing signs of dementia. The client was also dealing with anxiety and panic attacks. So, she wanted nervous system support. The tremors decreased significantly after about a month on Lion’s Mane/Skullcap. After a few months, the anxiety eased a bit and the panic attacks seemed to be less, but it’s hard to tell if this is related to the formula or to changes in her life. At this point, she’s has been on the Lion’s Mane/Skullcapbased formula for a while. The tremors gain in intensity when she’s off her formula for more than a week or two, then subside when back on it. Of course, in all of these examples, the effects can’t be attributed solely to Lion’s Mane, but I feel like I see better effects using Lion’s Mane together with Skullcap instead of just Skullcap alone. On to some studies. Cookies laced with Lion’s Mane powder reduced levels of depression and anxiety in a month long placebo-controlled study (14). One gram of Lion’s Mane taken daily in tablet form improved mild cognitive dysfunction in elderly folks after 8 weeks of use, compared to placebo (15). When supplementation ceased, the cognitive gains started to be reversed (15). Neither are powerhouse studies; the statistics aren’t great likely due to small study size. But the results jive with traditional use. There are some smaller, uncontrolled studies and case studies using various forms of Lion’s Mane that support its efficacy in reducing anxiety, improving sleep quality and improving cognitive function (16-20). Not powerful data, but, again, consistent with what those of us who use the mushroom have observed.


In more mechanistic studies, Lion’s Mane promotes myelination of cultured nerve cells (21). The myelin sheath lines nerve cells and acts as insulation, insuring that electrical signals travel properly through the nervous system. Issues such as Multiple Sclerosis involve damage to the myelin sheath and resultant disruption of central nervous system function. Whether Lion’s Mane support the myelination in people remains to be seen…it’s not the easiest thing to test. I’m not going to be the one to volunteer: ”Hey, go ahead and excise some of my nerves and look at them under a microscope…Make sure you get some from my brain while you’re at it.”. Two of Lion’s Mane constituents that induce myelination in vitro are able to cross the bloodbrain barrier in vivo. So maybe support for myelination is one of the ways that Lion’s Mane truly is supporting cognitive function. Another nifty thing that Lion’s Mane does is stimulate production of Nerve Growth Factor (NGF). NFG promotes the survival, growth and proliferation of certain types of nerve cell. Low

levels of NGF are associated with Alzheimer’s Disease, other neurodegenerative diseases and nervous system imbalances. NGF doesn’t cross the blood brain barrier, so taking exogenous NGF either orally or intravenously won’t do anything for these issues. Ethanol and water extracts of Lion’s Mane fruiting body both induce NGF production in cultured cells, along with stimulating neurite outgrowth (5). NGF is increased in the brains of “Alzheimer’s “ mice that were fed powdered fruiting body, compared to controls, and the Alzheimer’s type symptoms improved (5). Not a fan of the rodent studies, but they do suggest the possibility that one of the ways Lion’s Mane may be benefitting people is via improvement in NGF levels. As mentioned, components of Lion’s Mane cross the blood brain barrier, and this may provide a way to increase NGF levels “for real” (5, 22). There is, indeed, mechanistic evidence for nerve regeneration in vivo by Lion’s Mane, but the experiments are particularly nasty and I’m not going to detail them (6).


One last nervous system-related blurb. Erinacine E is a component of Lion’s Mane and at least one other Hericium species. A study from a couple decades ago found that erinacine E is an opioid receptor agonist (23), though I’ve not yet come across any follow up studies, at least on the databases I use.

clues as to what may be happening mechanistically. Either water or alcohol extracts of Lion’s Mane protect DNA from damage, reducing cancer causing mutations in cells. Alcohol extracts also inhibit angiogenesis in cell culture and animal models at least in part by down-regulating the signaling molecule VEGF (Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor) (31, 32).

Immunity and Cancer It’s hard to talk about medicinal mushrooms without getting into the benefits related to cancer. Many different mushrooms improve immune system function and some even have direct tumoricidal effects. A tumor represents a failure of the immune system to keep the growth of aberrant cells in check. It’s not the immune system’s fault. Cancer actually causes immunosuppression. Lion’s Mane influences many aspects of immunity from inflammatory responses to the reduction of tumor size (in animal models). Hot water extracts and heated hydromethanolic extracts of Lion’s Mane are able to stimulate innate immune system activity (24), and a novel polysaccharide “HEP-S” from the fruiting body was able to influence both innate immunity (in the form of macrophage activation) and adaptive immunity (T and B cell mitogenesis) (25). Lion’s Mane polysaccharides also influence the function of NK cells and may enhance mucosal immunity along the intestinal tract (26, 27). Lion’s Mane had traditionally been used in China and Japan for prevention and treatment of cancers originating in the digestive system; for example, gastric and pancreatic cancers. It’s also been used in Asia for reducing the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation (2, 5). That said, there aren’t any clinical trials that I can find. In a more sensible world, we would be studying the hell out of mushrooms with respect to cancer and other of the chronic diseases… There are multiple studies showing cytotoxic effects of Lion’s Mane in cultured cancer cells (28-30). As I frequently mention, this doesn’t necessarily reflect what happens in the body. But, it’s hopeful and cell culture can provide

Lion’s Mane has promising results in animal studies, as shitty as animal studies are. For example, feeding crude mushroom extracts significantly reduced tumor burden and was more efficacious and with fewer side effects than the chemo drug 5-fluorouracil. Water or 50% alcohol extracts of the mushroom also inhibited cancer spread (metastasis) in animal models, possibly through inhibiting the activity of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs). MMPs break down “tissue barriers” and allow tumor cells to pass into circulation and spread (33). Metabolic Effects of Lion’s Mane On the metabolic side of things, Lion’s Mane reduces elevated blood sugar and lipid levels in multiple rodent studies. Both water and alcohol extracts of the mushroom are hypoglycemic, suggesting more than one mechanism at play (34, 35). Similarly, multiple mechanisms are involved in the reduction of blood lipid levels by Lion’s Mane. These include enhanced breakdown of cholesterol into bile acids, influence on the gut microbiome and inhibition of HMG-CoA (37, 38). HMG Co-A reductase is the rate-limiting enzyme in cholesterol synthesis. Moreover, cultured Lion’s Mane mycelia excrete a polysaccharide-protein complex that reduces serum cholesterol levels in rodent models (39). The mushroom also strongly reduced the oxidation of LDL in vitro, with ergosterol and octadecanoic acid being the most active components (38). We know that cholesterol itself isn’t the problem, right? It’s the inflammatory and oxidative damage to blood vessels that are the “fire”, with increasing cholesterol levels in response to the damage being the “smoke”. That said, if the shitty diet, smoking or whatever it is causing damage to the blood vessels continues,


then the cholesterol that’s trying to be a “band aid” over the damage becomes oxidized (sticky) itself. Hence, plaque formation. Lion’s Mane also reduced levels of obesity in a rodent studies. To continue the theme of multiple mechanisms of action, both ethanol and hot water extracts of the mushroom were active and each differentially regulated metabolic gene expression (36, 37). Good to remember that there is rarely only one “active” ingredient in a mushroom or plant.

At least 35 polysaccharides have been isolated so far (6). Various of the polysaccharides result in cell cycle arrest (stopping cell division), induce apoptosis (“programmed cell death”), are antioxidant, are neuroprotective, stimulate immune cell proliferation (“mitogenesis”), inhibit a key enzyme of HIV replication, induce macrophage activity, induce dendritic cell maturation, reduce metastases in rodent models, and sensitize drug resistant tumor cells to chemotherapeutic agents (at least in cell culture) (6).

More on What’s in Lion’s Mane Mushroom polysaccharides get a lot of attention, and rightly so given their pleiotropic effects in the body. Dried Lion’s Mane fruiting bodies are about 60% polysaccharide by weight (6). Indeed, the double extracts (combined decoction/ tincture) are super slimy! Lion’s Mane contains many bioactive principles that come out in water, alcohol and other organic solvents. In addition to polysaccharides, the list includes glycoproteins, lactones, lectins, steroids, alkaloids, terpenoids and lots of other interesting stuff that mycochemists lose sleep over.

A large focus in Lion’s Mane research has been on hericenones and erinacerins, which are terpenoid benzyl alcohol derivatives (4, 5). Both hericenones and erinacerins thus far appear to be unique to Hericium species (4). Both classes of molecule are extractable by alcohol or other organic solvents, but not by water. And, both can cross the blood-brain barrier, contributing to the neurological effects of Lion’s Mane (5). Another interesting component of Lion’s Mane is dilinoleoyl-phosphatidylethanolamine (DLPE… thank goodness for acronyms), which is not


water soluble. DLPE reduces ER (endoplasmic reticulum) stress in cultured nerve cells (41). ER stress is a pathway that can lead to cell death and is associated with neurodegeneration. DLPE also protected the cells from death caused by the addition of β-amyloid peptide (a culprit in Alzheimer’s Disease). So yet another way that Lion’s Mane may be protecting that big blob of nerve tissue in our skulls. Amycenone is another neat chemical found in Lion’s Mane. It’s a fat-soluble molecule with anti-inflammatory activity that may improve cognitive ability and sleep (42) and is active when used orally (43-45). Promising results, but from very small and/or uncontrolled studies. HEG-5 is another interesting component. It’s a hemagglutinating glycoprotein that can be obtained from cultured mycelia (46). HEG-5 induces cell cycle arrest and cell death in cultured gastric cancer cells. As I endlessly say,

the significance of this in vivo is not yet known but it’s a hopeful result (47). Finally, the chemical composition of Lion’s Mane differs between mycelia and fruiting body and also differs based on developmental stage of the fruiting body. For example, polysaccharide content changes as the fruiting body grows and total levels increase while protein levels are lower in the mature fruiting body (40). Polysaccharides from mature fruiting bodies had the highest immune stimulating activity with respect to macrophage function (40). Polysaccharide levels are lower in the mycelia (2). Maybe this is why the double extracts I’ve made from cultured mycelia aren’t remotely as slimy as from the fruiting body! Also, the fruiting body contains hericenones but the cultured mycelia do not (2). Conversely, mycelia have a much higher level of erinacines than the fruiting body (2). Things to keep in mind when mushroom medicine making…


Aside from the fact that Lion’s Mane is a veritable cornucopia (sorry, I had to use that) of interesting mycochemicals, another point of this section is that relying solely on one form of extract means missing out on a lot of the chemistry. Dosage

11.

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In my practice, I use 20 drops to a teaspoon of double extract 3 to 4 times a day, depending on what’s going on. Start low…some folks get digestive upset from mushrooms or their extracts. In studies, 1 mg daily of powder (pressed into tablets) has shown effects neurologically, as has 3-5 grams of dry powder. Don’t forget simply to eat the mushrooms!

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The Herbarium Art, History, and How To

by Kat Mackinnon Kat is an accomplished clinical herbalist, nutritionist, blog writer, founder and primary herbal and primitive skills instructor for Meet The Green, and course coordinator at the esteemed Colorado School of Clinical Herbalism. We are honored to host her excellent classes each year at the Good Medicine Confluence, including one on the topic of this informative essay. Part I: Why Bother? “Baking a loaf of brown bread is revolutionary in this society — if you know why you’re doing it.” – Crescent Dragonwagon In preparing to teach my Good Medicine Confluence class on this topic, I had a rather sticky question come up. In speaking with a friend, they asked simply “Why do herbariums matter? Why make one? Isn’t it better for the plants to take pictures instead, especially when most folks have pretty easy access to decent cameras in the form of phones?” It stumped me for a moment, and I had to really think about why I bother doing what I do in creating my herbarium. All the time and effort and materials – what’s it all for?

Years ago, I went to the Denver Art Museum to see an exhibit of Georgia O’Keefe’s art. I’d always admired both the artist and her work, but I had only seen one of her paintings before in person, the giant and rather impersonal “Sky Above Clouds” at the Art institute of Chicago. But I had seen numerous prints, and so was mainly looking forward to perhaps seeing some notso-famous pieces I hadn’t yet been exposed to, and just being in the room with someone’s brilliant art. I bought my ticket and dutifully queued with everyone else, waiting for my first glimpse. As is usual in museums, once in the gallery it was full of people clustered around paintings for about 30-45 seconds, then moving on.


The first painting was already being clustered upon by those in front of me, so I moved to the second. And stayed there. I was utterly mesmerized. The painting was one I’d seen while skimming through a book of her art, but this was different. The feather and horseshoe were utterly alive, and I was completely absorbed. When I finally moved, at the muffled coughing instigation of the poor souls behind me, I realized my face was only 20 inches from the canvas. This happened repeatedly while I walked the gallery, until I realized I’d been there for almost 3 hours. This is one of the main reasons I create plant pressings. There’s just no comparison between an image and the actual. While pictures do convey beauty and color, pressed plants provide a link, a glimpse of the spirit of the plant somewhere between a photograph and the living plant in nature. Pressings allow people to see and feel and experience just a bit more depth with a plant than a photo. Now, admittedly, I have seen drawings that express more reality about the plant than any picture ever could, and if I was a botanical illustrator, I’d probably do that. But I’m not an illustrator. I’m mainly a botanist and a teacher, and so I make pressings, both for myself and my students.

The second reason, which is a bit more selfish, is that creating an herbarium requires me to cultivate skills that I frankly want in my life. The sensory tools necessary to properly collect, press, and mount a plant specimen demand that I look more closely, or risk wasting a plant. In pressing a plant, I need to think about how to best convey the characteristics – where to position the leaves to best show their arrangement on the stem and texture. How to show that a flower is tubular, while at the same time displaying its internal structure. Figure out how to press an 8’’ diameter piece of bark, because it has beautiful and distinctive markings. Taking the necessary field notes means I’m constantly asking myself what makes the swamp, forest, or desert wash that I’m taking the plant from distinct, special. The angle of the sun, the moisture and wind, stones and soil, the other plant and animal people. Every observation requires a fine tuning of my awareness on all levels, not just of the plant, but everything around it. This is Goethe’s medicine, the medicine of curiosity and openness to the world around you. Farther down on my list of reasons to create a personal herbarium, are the ones that are a bit more conventional. Pressings allow you to


continue exploring a plant long after you’ve left its actual stomping grounds (or rooting grounds...you know what I mean). During the joyful blur of summer, with its explorations deep into unknown places, its not always possible to figure out a plant in place. Taking a small pressing, when appropriate, means that in the dreary darker months you can go back and delve into the mysteries of that plant, sometimes with even better attention. If done right, your pressings create a time capsule of emotional/ sensory memories, transporting you back to the time and place of the blooming plant in the earth.

clinical. However, there are only so many words, and specimen is the best one for the job. To keep that term from becoming something dreadful and detached, I offer you this bit of etymology. Specimen: from the Latin for ‘appearance’, ‘pattern’, ‘form’ and ‘beauty’. It shares its roots with the word ‘species’, from the Latin specere, ‘to look’. By this definition, a ‘specimen’ is not a dead thing to be encased, but a track of beauty and form to be followed back to the spirit of the living being.

Collecting plant specimens also allows you to compare one species to another, in a way that is often easier and more accurate than comparing photographs. These are the sort of records starting to be kept by larger herbal companies, to accompany monographs of medicinal plants, so that certain characteristics of the whole plant can be compared to the cut and sifted version. As an herbalist, botanical instructor, and lover of plants, these are my main reasons. I’m sure there are many more, and if you choose to create an herbarium (which I hope you do, and do well), you’ll likely end up with your own, both intellectual and emotional. Of course, the only way to figure those out is to get started...:)

Where to Begin Collecting The best spot, by far, to begin your herbarium is with the plants nearest to you. If you’re lucky enough to live in middle of a wilderness idyll, that’s great, and you’ll have loads to work on. If you live in a tiny apartment in Philly or LA, that’s great, and you’ll have loads to work on. You’ll likely find at least 5 species breaking up the sidewalk within 50 feet of your building, and perhaps a few coming out of the mulchy mess often found on rooftops.

Part II: Specimen Collection

Wherever you are, I highly recommend practicing with weeds and garden specimens before heading out into the more untrammeled places of the world and taking from potentially sensitive environments. Practicing with more common species allows you to learn what preservation techniques work (and don’t work), as well as all figure out what kind of impact different types of collection have on an environment.

A small note on wording. I use the term ‘specimen’ quite a bit in the following pages, and after reading through it once, it sounded a bit

Starting where you live also tends to be an intensely humbling experience. I’m constantly finding plants in the canyon near my house that


I had no idea grew there (two years ago I spent month looking for Mentzelia, a night blooming flower, to photograph in a secluded spot, only to find it growing “hidden” about 100 feet from my back door).

case, you can take representative portions of the plant, such as a small branch, leaf, flower, etc., then take more detailed notes regarding other identifying characteristics including size, over habit, fruits, bark and anything else that’s relevant for that plant that won’t fit.

What to Collect The goal with a pressing is to be able to communicate the essence of the plant and the different ways it can show up in the world. A good place to start is to pick a plant that is at the height of its vibrancy, which usually means in bloom. Its recommended and generally sensible to collect plants when they are in flower/at least partially in fruit, since these are the traits that most plant identification models are based on. In most cases, formal herbaria include the whole plant, root and all, as the rooting structures can be a determining factor for identifying some species. This is something that you’ll have to wrangle with. Personally, I take only aerial portions most of the time, because that’s what makes me feel most comfortable in my relationship with the plants. Instead I take notes and pictures of the rooting structures when I think that’s necessary and leave the plants to live another day. The exception is when I know the plant is an annual, in which case leaving the root doesn’t do much good. Variation Depending on the plant, it’s also good to have examples of differences within the species. In a given population of plants, there can be a huge variation in size, leaf expression, and a host of other characteristics. In these cases, you don’t always have to take a whole other plant but can instead take samples of the bit that’s the most different (for instance, if a the leaves on the main plant you take are more rounded, and another plant of the same species is more narrow, I’ll take a small stem or a few leaves of the narrow leafed specimen). Can I press this? Some plants are just too gigantic to ever possibly fit into a press (maple trees, for example). In this

Moss, lichen, fungi, cacti and succulents, and really any moist plant with thick stems and fleshy tissue tend to resist pressing, and in some cases are better preserved through different methods. Fungi for example, are often kept in tiny envelopes or boxes, along with their spores prints. Some specimens just need a bit of alteration or persuading to become a pressing. Thick, fleshy branches can be split down the middle and compressed before being pressed. Water plants, depending on their nature, can be “floated out” onto a thick sheet of paper underwater, then prayed over and wedged between as much blotter paper as possible. Collection Cautions I learn best by doing, and in some cases doing poorly. The guidelines below might seem rather obvious, but they are all born of mistakes I have made, and later regretted.

•Avoid collecting when it’s wet (if you live in the Pacific Northwest, well, it’s always going to be wet, so just make sure to use plenty of blotter paper) •Avoid collecting anywhere near a path or road (along with the dog pee factor, which can often make your pressing degrade rather quickly, plant populations in these spaces are under enough stress already, and should generally be considered as museum pieces, best left for others to look at. The exception to this are the weedier invasive species, which tend to thrive with disturbance, and which can also often withstand harvest. Still watch out for the dog urine thing). •Use caution in pressing plants with potential skin reactions (the hairs of mullein, the glaucids of opuntia, the oils of poison ivy). I have yet to have the ovaries to press poison ivy, but I have come across specimens in herbaria years later that still contain enough urushiol to cause dermatitis.


•Don’t pick the only specimen of that plant in the area. Wait for abundance, and an abundance of healthy plants. •Don’t go for the struggling stunted plants, nor the incredibly well fed and oversized members of a patch. Or more to the point, if you do, make sure you collect several specimens, to show the range of variation possible. •Don’t pick plants where you shouldn’t – I refer here to both the harvesting ethics side of things (see the section below on the lusting mind), but also to legality. Open space, national forest, state forest, city parks, and BLM all have their own rules and regulations around picking. The regulations will vary depending on what state, county, and city you’re in, so best to have a look at these before boldly collecting plants in public. Chances are no-one will care, especially if you’re treating the landscape gently. However, as we’ve seen happen in Boulder, CO, you could also end up with a huge fine and a bad name for herbalists and botanists in your area. Cultivating the internal herbarium is a good solution for when you simply cannot pick, whether that’s due to emotional, ecological, or other reasons. That’s when the human skill of taking in smells, textures, colors, the taste of the soil, the angle of the light, the moisture on your skin becomes so crucially important. Of course, gathering and remembering the more exact and intellectually replicable information is where it starts to become tricky. We humans are imperfect beings, and our memories are prone to taking the wandering paths of imagination, rather than the straight pavement of exactitude. That’s where the practice of note taking comes in. Field Notes It’s so tempting to believe that you’ll remember everything. Each plant is so unique, each location, path, and day so utterly different, that surely, you’ll be able to have near perfect recall for the details of each specimen, even in the depths of winter, long after your collecting adventures. Now, perhaps there are people out there that can do this. They’re probably friends with the herbalists who don’t have to label they’re in-process tinctures, and those folks who

remember everyone’s birthdays with frightening exactitude. For better or worse, I am not one of those people. I have a small but shameful collection of unlabeled mystery tinctures, and I forget my own birthday from time to time. And while I keep a great deal of brain space open for plant-y information, I have several painfully unidentified pressings which I have only very spare memories of collecting (I have one from a few years ago that could be from Colorado, Utah, Tennessee or Connecticut. I honestly have no idea.) This is why collection sheets and field notes are so important. Of course, the amount of information that you can collect is immense. However, while I encourage you to take in as many details as possible, if you include at least the following, chances are good that you’ll be able to go back and identify your specimens. •Location: where was the plant collected? This can be the nearest town or county to where you are collecting. Things like the elevation and terrain orientation are also useful, and some folks even go so far as keeping gps coordinates (if you have a smart phone, it will often let you make these kinds of measurements...though then the government and whoever else tracks that information will also know...hmm, maybe leave that at home). •Habitat: What environment is the plant growing in? This section can include things like soil type (sandy, clay, disturbed, etc.), plant community (ponderosa forest, short-grass prairie, chaparral, riparian, etc.), and associated plant or animal species, if known (heavily browsed by elk, growing with dense patches of ferns, etc.)

•Plant Description: colors, texture, and other sensory info “Wait a minute,” I hear you say “...if you’re bringing the plant back with you, why would you need to describe it?” Well, even with your best efforts, plants will begin to change over time after pressing. How quickly they change depends on a host of factors, but


sometimes it can happen within hours. It’s important therefore to document the more changeable parts of the specimen. While the arrangement of the leaves won’t suddenly degrade from opposite to alternate, the flower, leaf, and stem color, and generally parts with chlorophyll or other pigments will certainly fad. Especially important will be documenting flower color, as structures such as petals tend to be the most delicate, and therefore the most prone to rapid change. Especially for herbalists, including other sensory information such as scent, touch perceptions, and if possible and safe, even taste. Is it aromatic? Does it produce prolific sticky sap? Do the leaves feel like the raspy tongue of a cat? You get the idea.

Other materials to bring with you that are plastic bags (for when you need to transport a sizable specimen back to a larger press), small tins (for fungi and mosses), small envelopes (for easily lost seeds or other plant fragments) clippers, and notebook and pen, as well as any botanical identification books and materials (dichotomous key, field guides, hand lens, etc.).

Part III: Herbarium Processing, Mounting, & Storage

•Family, genus, species, and common name This is not nearly as important as the above, at least in the realm of field notes. If you manage to key it out and identify it in the field, then great. But if not, it can also be good to write down your best guess in the moment based on the appearance of the plant, or how far you’ve gotten in the ID process (if you get to the family in a plant key, for instance, but not down to genus). Where to put all this Its best to keep this information with the specimen. Putting at least the date and location, as well as the flower shape and color and your best guess for identification in the margins of your pressing paper will keep you from having to guess later. Having a small field notebook is also useful for more detailed notes, you just need to make sure you can match the note with the specimen. Materials for collecting There are a wide range of field presses, ranging from free to $100 or so. Back in my days working with a formal herbarium, I used the organizations fancy canvas covered, stiff backed vasculum, lined with carboard sheets and newsprint. Today I mainly use pieces of folded cardboard and newspaper, which works just fine.

Pressing Back at your home base, it’s time to process your specimens for long term preservation. While it’s important to get the water out as quickly as possible, take the time to arrange your plant in a way that best expresses its form in nature. Once you’ve arranged things as best you can, the steps for pressing the plant are simple and better learned by doing. You’ll want a layer of cardboard (or ‘ventilator’) and blotting paper underneath your specimen, then another layer of blotting paper and cardboard above it. While those steps might be simple the materials do warrant a little more explanation. Pressing materials Ventilators This sounds technical and possibly expensive, but this is simply referring to corrugated cardboard. You can get sturdy, high quality C-


18x12, brass riveted, strapped herbarium presses. However, you don’t need a fancy herbarium

fluted corrugated ventilators for .50¢ a pop. OR, you could scope out the recycling bins behind your nearest big-box store and make them yourself for free.

press to preserve plants beautifully and well. I spent my first year with pressing experimentation using sheets of cardboard and newspaper layered between two large volumes of the Encyclopedia Britannica. With herbarium presses, straps are used to keep the sheets tightly together, but the goal is not to compress the specimens. In fact, if you press too hard the pattern of the cardboard can become imposed onto more delicate plant parts. Gentle, even pressure is all that’s necessary. Mounting

Blotting paper Traditional blotting paper is made from compressed cotton and is highly absorbent. While I have used blotting paper before, at .20 - . 50¢ a sheet the cost is a bit high for me. Taking a nod from the impecunious botanists that I first learned from, I now mainly use black and white newspaper, rolls of newsprint or thick, noncolored scrap paper. The Press The most important thing to remember when putting together a press is #1. Excellent ventilation, #2, mild pressure, and #3 plenty of material for absorbing moisture from the plant (the more water, the more chance for spoilage). Presses come in all shapes and sizes, from small screw down style ‘gardener’ presses to larger

The purpose of mounting your specimens is to help keep them more stable within their individual file folders. While you can leave them loose (which I will do when I want the plants to be handled, or for art purposes), this kind of storage requires extra care with handling, and makes your pressings more prone to slipping around and becoming damaged. If long term preservation is your goal, this is an important piece. The main advice I would give on mounting is to arrange the plant how you’d like it on the paper before adhering it. An obvious step, but one that I’ve run afoul of several times. Mounting Materials Acid free paper Paper made with wood pulp without the lignin removed is highly acidic, and overtime will become brittle and deteriorate. This is why Acid


free, or archival grade paper is recommended for mounting pressings. Formal herbariums use 11.5”x 16.5” sheets of paper, but this isn’t always necessary, depending on what you’re using your herbarium for. What is handy is having mounting sheets that allow you loads of space, which is why I use the 11.5”x16.5” sizes Adhesive and binding materials (glue, cloth tape, thread, etc.) Each plant pressing is going to dictate how you attach it to the mounting paper. In most cases with more delicate plants, I use a light spray adhesive, that allows me the possibility of removing part or all the specimen for closer examination later on. With more dense, bulky specimens, taping or sewing on the specimen is sometimes more appropriate. Labels Along with using acid free paper, its also important to use acid free ink. Back in the day they used to use oak galls to create ink, but over long periods of time it was found that the tannins were chewing through the paper, obliterating the information. Same thing applies with synthetic acidic inks. Either find yourself an acid free ink pen or use a pencil to make your labels and take your notes. Labels are traditionally positioned in the lower right-hand side of your mounting sheet but come up with a system that works best for you. I put positioning the plant in the most accessible position for identification over labeling in the same place for each specimen. Below I’ve included the label format that I like, but again, make this your own. So long as you have all the pertinent information on there, in a way that’s easily accessible for you, that’s what matters.

Location Collected Habitat Notes Plant Description

Family Name Genus species Common Name Date of Collection File folders Once you’ve mounted your plant, you need something to store it in. Letter size file folders are often what I’ve used, but you can also make larger sized files using oversized stiff paper (which you can find in rolls). Make sure that you have a space visible on the outside of the file for genus, species, and family of the plant. Other Tools These tools are not totally necessary, but make the work much easier, and keep you from damaging your pressings. •Large embroidery needle for sewing on bulky samples •Fine tipped tweezers for adjusting delicate plant parts •Utility knife or fine scissors for cleanly cutting off any pieces that won’t fit onto the mount. •Large piece of glass with padded corners for laying out your specimen and applying adhesive Storage If you’ve ever kept a small apothecary, then these guidelines will sound very familiar to you. Ideally, keep your herbarium in a dark, cool, dry space. Both the plants you press, as well as the material they are mounted on are prone to being eaten by tiny creatures of various sorts. Best to do a bit of an inventory every year, and if you see any insect damage, wrap your herbarium files in plastic and freeze for at least 3 days to kill off any critters. Smudging works to a certain degree, though often leads to darkening of your materials, and insecticide is for obvious reasons utterly unsavory for both the earth and the specimens, so I use the freezing method.


The way that you choose to organize your herbarium will depend on your personal preferences. I organize mine by genus, but some herbariums are organized by family, then within that by genus. Some are organized by region then by family, genus, species. Again, so long as it makes sense to you, that the important bit.

I’ve occasionally hesitated from collecting and then kicked myself for it. But far more often I’ve collected and regretted it. It comes with a feeling of loss, not just of that plant, but of a part of myself that is nurturing and grateful. I remember the beech tree that held me as a child, the grandmother pine that has helped me bear sadness or grief and I feel ashamed.

Part IV: The Hunting, Lusting, Greedy Mind My partner introduced me to a beautiful poem that speaks very well to how I try to practice collecting plants for any purpose, including pressing. Last Specimen In the bank of a gravely wash A mile from the road in Saline Valley I found the desert paintbrush. Not a rare plant Just one I didn’t have in my collection. The brilliant scarlet-tipped bracts of the inflorescence Were still enfolded. Kneeling down, I gently pulled them open To inspect the corolla And then saw, still a child. It’s not that anyone else would come by here But that you live to blossom Alone, here, beneath an empty sky Does not mean that somewhere a soldier won’t die Or that on a dried planet somewhere in Cygnus It will rain. And I return with an empty press. ! ! ~Dale Pendell There are no plant police to follow you around. How you collect anything from nature for beauty, profit, or connection, is between you and the object of your desire. The plants themselves are mostly helpless, as vital, fragile and vulnerable as children. Of course, like many people I’ve lusted before. I’ve found patches of ferns in cool wet canyons that have flamed intense greed and longing, and I suddenly felt myself a giant, consuming shadow, engulfing that little world. A monster of craving, hiding under the thin justification of learning.

This is not to discourage you from ever pressing plants at all. More, it is to give you a healthy reminder to care for yourself before harvesting. In the same way that you wouldn’t want to grocery shop while you’re hungry, you don’t want to harvest without filling yourself with the wild medicine of being outside first. Whether it’s a sit spot in nature or a trail running practice, taking regular time to let the beauty and messages of a landscape fill you is important. It’s when I’m starved of these things that I find myself with the craving to fill my gathering basket or plant press, when really what I’m seeking is connection. Part V: Past, Present, Future The original herbariums were the teaching gardens used by numerous types of healers to cultivate specimens as well as pass on identification information. In fact, going back to the Latin roots of the word, herbarium translates into “a bunch of herbs all grouped together”, which sounds like the most basic definition of a garden. As a term specifically associated with the preservation of dried plant specimens, ‘herbarium’ has only existed for the past 400-500 years or so. One of the oldest remaining herbaria is that of Gregorio a Regio, a Capuchin monk of the 16th and 17th century, though there are records of early herbaria, now lost. In the interim, there have been thousands of private collections made, and as well as many collections from within universities and other organizations. One of the main reasons these institutions gained funding for herbaria was due to commerce. Botanical gardens such as those at Kew in England were originally used to house type examples of commercially relevant plants, from ornamental shrubs, to fiber plants, to medicines


(you better believe that they grew opium poppies). As botanical exploration expanded into North and South America, Africa and Australia, it became impractical to create and maintain all the environments necessary for propagating the vast diversity of species, never mind the resources necessary to bring back live plants. And so, herbariums began to gain copious private and eventually government funding, with the establishment of some of the world’s largest herbariums such as those at the Royal Botanic Gardens, the New York Botanical Gardens, and hundreds of university herbariums. While I am very grateful for those institutional collections, in the past hundred years or so there has been a disturbing pattern. It has become the norm for not only herbaria but all botanical research to come almost exclusively from private or publicly funded universities and institutions. For centuries previous, the study of botany was furthered not by universities, but much more by passionate and curious ‘amateurs’, by monks and gardeners and naturalists. Some were classically educated, such as Charles Darwin, and Henry David Thoreau, while others such as Jane Colden and David Douglas were by and large autodidactic, learning from their gardens and the available literature on botany. There are of course a variety of factors at play here. One is that with more complicated research (genetics, constituents, etc.) comes increased cost. Not everyone has the cash to shell out for a mass spectrometer. Another is that leisure time for pursuing intellectual interests beyond the sphere of paying work is almost non-existent for most people (money again). However, what I see as the greatest factor is the diminishment of critical thought and curiosity, and the model of spoon fed information in our public educational systems. Exploration of the world closest to you for the sake of connection and understanding has become irrelevant. If there is no commercial

profit to be gained, if the discovery has already been made by someone else, then the pursuit of understanding is viewed as either pointless or at best a way of passing time. This mindset and model, combined with the increased use of instant gratification devices (smart phones, computers, etc.) has created an environment where persistence and rigor in learning our world for ourselves is largely obsolete. But there is absolute necessity in exploring our world with a beginner’s curiosity, especially the places closest to us. Without that exploration, a callus begins to grow, and it becomes very difficult to care for what surrounds us, both human and otherwise. While most classroom lecture gives us the bits and pieces, it is only through the love that comes with self-directed exploration that we can see the wholeness of things. Whether you begin exploring the world near you through creating a physical herbarium, or you use the miracle of your senses to cultivate an internal one, these choices, this kind of work is what can lead to union. A visceral feeling for the role that plants hold in their ecology, as well as your own place within the order of things. Resources

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Books and Articles The Pressed Plant, Andrea DiNoto and David Winter The Herbarium Handbook, Leonard Forman Seeing Nature Whole, a Goethean Approach, The Nature Institute http://www.natureinstitute.org/ nature/index.htm Online Herbariums The Kew Herbarium Catalog: http:// apps.kew.org/herbcat/navigator.do Museum of Biological Diversity, The OSU Herbarium Specimen Database: http:// 128.146.250.9/bol/herbarium/Home/Index Harvard University Digital Collections, Herbaria and Libraries: http://kiki.huh.harvard.edu/ databases/specimen_index.html The Linnean Society Herbarium: http://linneanonline.org/linnaean_herbarium.html New York Botanical Gardens, Steere Herbarium: http://sweetgum.nybg.org/science/ih/ Media Royal Botanic Gardens Edenborough, Herbarium Basics Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch? v=2wFN9YmkBOQ&t=143s


Patterns of Discontent Recognizing Stagnation & Supporting Action

by Kristin Henningsen Good Medicine Confluence teacher Kristin brought a wealth of herbal information, and now graces these pages with an article on herbal, dietary, and lifestyle therapeutics for stagnation of Qi, liver, blood and spleen. She has been researching, writing, and teaching about medicinal plants for over 15 years now, and we hope will continue to serve as a resource for the Plant Healer community. Read more at: www.banyanmoonbotanicals.com Introduction The reality of our world today lends itself to a multitude of imbalances, many being deeply rooted in the concept of stagnation. Traditionally, stagnation in the body was defined as any substance that is in excess, not moving, and potentially toxic (Maciocia, 2013). This congestion of physical, mental, or emotional components can be at the root of chronic and degenerative diseases as well as emotional disharmony. This concept has been recognized through various traditions of herbal medicine throughout the centuries. However, the effects of stagnation in our world today have contributed to some of the most pronounced and urgent health issues we

struggle with, such as inflammation, cancer, depression, and anxiety to name a few. In addition, the state of our political, economic, and social climate have been building to a crescendo where we cannot look away. Stuck between imbalance and apathy and the desire to rise up, folks are struggling to find the way forward. We have been rooted in our individual stories for so long, it can be challenging to look beyond. By using a wide variety of tools, we can ignite a spark that addresses not only the physiological effects of stagnation, but transform an individual’s approach to long-term self-care, mental wellness, and purpose.


History Applied for centuries, we first see mention of the concept of stagnation in TCM in the Inner Canon of Huang Di (compiled from 4th—2nd Century BCE) (Scheid, 2013). This was considered a foundational text of medicine in China, comparable to the Corpus Hippocraticum in the West (Unschuld et al., 2011). At the same time, we see evidence of this same concept being applied in India. The Charaka Saṃhitā, a key Sanskrit text on Ayurvedic Medicine (compiled 4th—2nd Century BCE) identifies stagnation as ama, and defines it as “a toxic, heavy, unctuous, and sticky juice, which originates as a waste product of digestion and metabolism” (Sumantran & Tillu, 2012). In fact, ama can be literally translated as “incompletely digested.” More recently, Western traditions have incorporated this concept, with the Physiomedicalist J. Thurston building on the Greek humoral concept of dampness, identifying the tissue state of “torpor” (Wood, 2002). Clearly the concept of stagnation is not new. However, with our current political climate, inundation with technology, deficiency of nature, environmental toxins, stress, the oppression of marginalized communities, and severely lacking diet, we have come to a tipping point where a large majority of the population is affected by stagnation in some regard. The question then becomes how do we support folks who are manifesting illness when likely all these complex etiologies are in place? We need to move beyond just herbs, and inspire connection to self, to nature, to community, and to society in order to effect change in both the individual and the larger world. Some Background Of all the different lenses of stagnation, my own studies on this topic are most heavily rooted in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), and so for the sake of brevity we will focus our attention on

the basic concepts and definitions presented from this view. Keep in mind, however, that these theories truly are universal and we see them represented in far more healing systems that were presented above. One of the foundations that Chinese medicine rests upon is the concept of Qi. Qi is the life force; which holds, raises, protects, transforms, transports, and warms the body and all its functions (Maciocia, 2013). It interacts with all aspects of the body, but has several key connections that can be helpful to understand when rooting out the cause of stagnation. One of the most prominent connections is the relationship of qi and blood. In TCM, the Spleen (digestive function) is said to play an important role in making blood. The blood itself is the material form of qi and yin, moistening and providing nutrients to all the tissues, and qi essentially guides the blood where it needs to go. This implies that if digestive function is impaired, there will not only be a deficiency of blood, but an inability of the blood itself to move efficiently throughout the body. Keep in mind that Qi also moves other fluids like lymph. Accumulation of lymphatic fluid or general dampness in the tissues can point to qi stagnation, and if left unchecked can fester and lead to other pathologies. At the heart of all of these connections is the liver. The liver is in charge of keeping the qi moving along, so any imbalance in the liver can also lead to qi stagnation. Often this is the source of imbalance, or certainly part of the problem. Without the vitality of qi to move and transform, everything else has decreased function or builds to excess. Patterns and Presentations Qi Stagnation Whenever qi is deficient or moves in the wrong direction, stagnation is likely to follow. It’s important to note that we need to move the qi and/or blood first, before we start to nourish the


tissues. The common analogy is that you don’t want to add more cars (tonics) to the qi traffic jam. It’s just going to make it worse. While there can be a general qi stagnation throughout the body, often we can pinpoint a more specific location to start supporting.

Presentations can vary widely, however, key signals are depression, moodiness, anger, nausea/poor appetite, alternating constipation/ diarrhea, skin outbreaks, painful/irregular periods, allergies, and abdominal distention (Tierra, 2003). I’ve also found headaches, tight neck and shoulders, and tired, dry eyes to be quite common, along with a general dissatisfaction or bitterness with life. Clients will often mourn the loss of activities that once brought them joy, but they let go due to one reason or another. The liver pulse will be quite tense/wiry, and the tongue red to purplish, especially along outer edges. If left for too long unchecked, heat will start to accumulate and present with red tongue with yellow coating, bitter taste in the mouth, and dark, scanty urine. Angry outbursts and confrontation (in person and/or online) get more frequent as well. Further, this heat can dry up the yin in the body, exacerbating heat signs and contributing to other issues like inflammation, anxiety, and insomnia.

Spleen Qi Deficiency

Liver Qi Stagnation Causes of stagnation will vary widely, but more often than not the liver will be involved due to its roll in moving qi. Liver qi stagnation can result from suppressed emotions, unfulfilled desires, resentment, a diet rich in stimulants, drugs, excessive fried foods, pharmaceuticals, alcohol, stress, lack of exercise, and overwork (Maciocia, 2013). In addition, the injustices that are being shared on the news or social media have sparked a deep anger and frustration in folks, that when not properly vented can get internalized and stagnate. All of these factors can contribute to an overburden on the liver, and general decreased vitality (Qi deficiency).

This is perhaps the next most common imbalance seen with stagnation, and you can guess why. Our modern diets and nutrition are severely lacking. Spleen Qi deficiency (digestive insufficiency) can be caused by diets high in sugars, fried foods, and excessive cold raw foods. Cold smoothies in the middle of a Vermont winter will quickly put out your digestive fire! This deficiency is compounded by reading (especially on a screen) while eating, excessive mental work (which pulls energy up to the head instead of leaving it in your belly), diets low in protein, and inconsistent meal times. Pesticides and processed foods further stress the body. When Spleen Qi is deficient, it can’t transform food and fluids to create qi and blood, ultimately causing a deficiency of both (Macciocia, 2013). If food can’t be broken down and assimilated, it may also lead to dampness in the tissues, which can collect in the body and lead to imbalance.


Common presentations of Spleen Qi deficiency being at the root of stagnation are fatigue, no appetite, loose stools, gas/bloating, and problems with circulation (Tierra, 2003). Other clues may be the description of being, “exhausted after eating”, a generally pale, and deficient presentation, soft voice, and lack of motivation. Clients in this state have described the experience of “wanting to pull the covers over my head and hide from the world.” Pulse will generally feel weak and slippery; the tongue is often swollen with scalloping around edges and thick white coating. If there is significant dampness present, it may be presenting as cysts and fibroids throughout the body. Blood Stagnation Blood stagnation often manifests in response to the patterns mentioned above (as well as others like external injury). If circulation is slowed due to qi stagnation, the blood can’t move efficiently around the body. If the spleen qi is deficient it’s not making enough blood or qi to keep fresh fluids moving throughout the body (think of a river bed drying up, with pools of water that collect algae and stagnate in pockets). TCM also

views the liver as the storehouse and purifier of the blood, so you can imagine if the liver qi is blocked, how heat and inflammation can start to fester. One of the most common presentations seen with blood stagnation is pain. Often fixed and stabbing, this can provide a clue as to where the blood stagnation may be manifesting in the body. Abdominal pain is common, as are lumps and masses, dysmenorrhea, dark, clotted menstrual blood, and liver or age spots. You may visibly see varicosities, and clients have often mentioned feeling a “weight” on their chest and an inability to take a full breath. I’ve heard this described as a feeling of being powerless, especially if there’s fear of social repercussions for speaking up and speaking out. The tongue will generally have a purple hue; especially the sublingual veins under the tongue, and may have red spots throughout. Pulse might present choppy, or tense. Herbal Therapeutics Clearly your herbal approach will vary depending on the patterns you discern from the


presentations above. Energetic patterns may appear as a cold, stagnant, damp, or depressed state, which often occurs with Spleen Qi deficiency, but in severe cases may also appear dry if insufficient blood or yin is being made. Liver qi stagnation often expresses with heat, tension, and irritation with possible dryness or damp heat. Blood stagnation may look cold or hot, damp or dry, depending on the root cause. In any case, one of the primary goals is to move the qi and move the blood. The energetic pattern you see can drive the actions you choose to do just that. Other general supportive goals may include improving digestion and assimilation, supporting the liver, as well as nourishing the nervous system. We can’t forget the cardiovascular systems role in physiologically transporting the blood either, so including vascular support is key. If pain is present, be sure to include relief here as well. Some classic blood and qi movers include Ginger (Zinziber officinale), Garlic (Allium sativum),

annuum),

Cinnamon

(Cinnamomun

verum),

Pepper (Piper nigrum), Rosemary (Rosmarinum officinalis), and Myrrh (Commiphora myrrha) (which all tend to be hot to warm). These are especially helpful for those who are feeling powerless, exhausted, and want to stay under the covers! I like Rosemary (Rosmarinum officinalis), in particular for this purpose of giving courage and providing clarity in tough times.

Turmeric (Curcuma longa), Cayenne (Capsicum

Spearmint (Mentha spicata) and Motherwort (Leonarus cardiaca) tend to be a bit cooler and gentler; and herbs like White Peony (Paeonia lactiflora) or Dang Gui (Angelica sinensis) will also build or nourish the blood, giving it a bit of oomph. This action can be helpful for those who may have the drive, but lack the energy to take the first step of enacting change.


invaluable. A good bitters formula combing some of these herbs to use before and after meals can be a very effective application.

Liver support can include Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum), Bupleurum (Bupleurum chinense), Schisandra (Schisandra chinensis), Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale), even Gotu Kola (Centella asiatica) for brain burn out and adrenal stress.

Blue Vervain (Verbena hastata) can be especially helpful for folks who have stuffed their frustration and emotions in until they have an emotional explosion (Tilger, 2009). Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) too, is useful with those who are suffering from overwhelm, and needing courage and a quiet space to process complicated emotions, a true “wounded warrior” herb. Digestive support to help with breakdown and assimilation may include Triphala, Black Pepper (Piper nigrum), Cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum), citrus peel (Citrus sp.), Cinnamon (Cinnamomun verum), Clove (Zyzygium aromaticum), Codonopsis (Codonopsis pilosula), Eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticosus), and Yellow Dock (Rumex crispus). Even Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) can be helpful if there is anxiety present. For those nervous about the state of the world and their place in it, this can be

Circulatory support may include Gingko (Gingko biloba), Hawthorn (Crateagus sp.), Garlic (Allium sativum), Horsechesnut (Aesculus hippocastanum), Blueberry or Bilberry (Vaccinium sp.). It’s more than just how the blood moves around the body, however. TCM uses the term shen to describe the spirit that is stored in the heart. With stagnation, that spirit is either fading, or desperate to get free again. This manifests as a general dullness, lack of concentration, coldness, or even indifference. It’s easier to block out the news, or turn away when we see injustice. At a deeper level, however, we may take it to heart and allow guilt and shame of our inaction to permeate our lives. Here we might find Milky Oats (Avena sativa), Gotu Kola (Centella asiatica), Holy Basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum), Mimosa (Albizzia julibrissin), Hawthorn (Crataegus sp.), Ginger (Zinziber officinale), Goji (Lycium barbarum), Jujube (Ziziphus sp.), and Linden (Tilia platyphyllos) helpful for rebuilding that shen to have the courage to speak from the heart and make change. A nervine formula should focus on herbs that lift rather than sedate, such as Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis), Mimosa (Albizzia julibrissin), or Holy Basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum). If there is pain present, adding in analgesics and such as meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria), corydalis (Corydalis yanhusuo), California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica), and Baikal Skullcap (Scutellaria baicalensis) can be a nice touch. No matter what pattern or system is at play, the underlying current with stagnation seems to be apathy, a lack of inspiration, and a lack of purpose. A general “stuckness.” Lack of purpose can lead to severe frustration and anger, for which Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla), Bupleurum (Bupleurum chinense), Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis), and Baikal scullcap (Scutellaria baicalensis) can be helpful. However, it’s only when we support folks to find a direction and a purpose to break through their


creative blockages that this can fully resolve. Plant allies would include Damiana (Turnera diffusa), Agrimony (Agrimonia eupatoria), Hawthorn (Crataegus sp.), Blue Vervain (Verbena hastata), Red Root (Ceanothus americanus), and (my favorite) Bee Balm (Monarda fistulosa).

smooth flow of qi, and herbal vinegars alone can work rather quickly too. Consider adding in some of the liver qi moving herbs into daily diet as well. For example, you can make a lovely gomasio with Sesame seeds and Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum) seeds to be used as a seasoning.

Dietary Support

Spleen Qi deficiency needs to focus on warming and gently drying foods. Limit excessive raw fruits and veggies, cut down on sweets, as well as dairy. Meals should be cooked, and eaten in smaller amounts as should nuts, seeds, and oils to ensure proper breakdown. Include oats, sweet rice, and carbohydrate rich veggies such as squash, carrots, Parsnips, Turnips, and Sweet Potatoes (Pitchford, 2002). Warming herbs and spices should be included such as Garlic (Allium sativum), Onion (Allium cepa), Leek (Allium ampeloprasum), Ginger (Zinziber officinalis), Cinnamon (Cinnamomun verum), Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare), and Nutmeg (Myristica fragrans).

In general, folks presenting with liver qi stagnation should limit consumption of foods that stagnate it further such as low-quality meats, cheeses, eggs, poor quality oils, excess nuts, processed refined foods in general, alcohol, medications and large amounts of supplements (Pitchford, 2002). I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but avocados can be pretty stagnating in large amounts too. Foods that can help move qi in this case include greens, Onions, Fennel, seaweeds, Lemons (lemon water in the morning is very effective), and brassicas. Oxymels can and should be included daily to harmonize the


Cold or cooling foods will only weaken the digestion further, contributing to the overall stagnation. Both of these strategies will support the creation and movement of blood and fluids throughout the body.

poetry, dancing, being involved in a community project, etc. Whatever it is that feeds their soul, support them in finding ways to make it accessible. This spark will then start to build into a fire and feed into all the other work.

While encouraging folks to follow these guidelines is important, keep in mind that it can feel overwhelming for those in a severely stagnant place. They may not want to eat, or feel like they have the energy to do anything, including preparing themselves a meal. Bone broth soups or miso pastes can be a helpful way to start shifting out of the rut, and these are now readily available in most grocery stores and easy to prepare. Encourage them to try a new recipe, take a cooking class, or have a friend over for dinner to spark interest around nourishing themselves through food and community. Enlist family/friends support if possible.

Connection to themselves and the larger community can also be a helpful way to get “unstuck.” While meditation and journaling can be extremely helpful, it can be very challenging. Provide resources to free meditation and breathing apps, exercises, classes, and groups. Quiet walks might do the trick, but so can immersing oneself in a community project. Create a resource list of community activities, groups, and events that could be of interest. Encourage folks to take that class they’ve been meaning to, move the furniture around, take a new route home, or start music lessons. It doesn’t matter so much as to what the new pattern is; it’s the act of shift and change that can inspire and support more action.

Lifestyle This is perhaps the most important of all the different approaches to moving stagnation. The key word is moving! Encourage folks to move their bodies in whatever feels good for them, whether that is tai chi, yoga, running, hiking, walking the dog, biking, organized sports, etc. Getting out in nature is a double bonus. Encourage and support folks to enlist a buddy or join a class to encourage follow through. Even if folks don’t have access to safe, open spaces in nature, encourage them to find time be outside every day. Whether it’s hiking in a public forest, gardening, sitting in an urban park, or walking in the neighborhood, this can help ground and nourish. Assist them in finding a place that is realistic for them to do so. Have them practice using their senses by seeing, smelling, touching, hearing, and even tasting the air. Ultimately this can help us get back in touch with the natural rhythm of the world, and ourselves. Creativity is also a key part of moving stagnation and inspiring action. Ask folks what truly nourishes them; singing, drawing, knitting,

References Maciocia, G. (2013). Foundations of Chinese Medicine. Elsevier: China. Pitchford, P. (2002). Healing with Whole Foods. North Atlantic Books: Berkley, CA. Tierra, L. (2003). Healing with the Herbs of Life. Crossing Press: Berkley, CA. Tilgner, S. (2009). Herbal Medicine from the Heart of the Earth. Wise Acre Books: Pleasant Hill, OR. Sumanran, V. & G. Tillus. (2012). Cancer, Inflammation, and Insights from Ayurveda. Evidence Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Scheid, V. (2013). Depression, Constraint, and the Liver: (Dis)assembling the Treatment of Emotion Related Disorder in Chinese Medicine. Cult Med Psychiatry. 37:30-58 Wood, M. (2002). The Energetics of Physiomedicalism. Journal of the American Herbalist Guild. Wood, M. (2016). The Earthwise Herbal Reperatory. North Atlantic Books: Berkley, CA.


The Animist Herbalist by Sean Donahue There’s no justice on a dead planet, the slogan goes. Not only is there no healing on a dead planet, but there is no healing on a planet that we do not experience as alive. Under the influence of wind

and rain and sun and moon and stars, our bodies co-evolved with those of Lion and Zebra and Acacia and Spider and the countless microbes within and around them. So did our consciousness.


Healing is the bringing of the life moving through us into the fullness of its expression. My Irish ancestors spoke of health as a Salmon swimming through the oceans of the Great World that contains all worlds and then into the rivers and streams of our own lives. We cannot come into the full expression of who we are without allowing our consciousness to fully enter and fill our bodies. Embodied, we experience ourselves as the animals we are whose senses are attuned to the pheromones of other creatures, the scent of rain on soil, the Milky Way and the Aurora Borealis. We recognize them as signs of the proximity of kin. Contemporary neurobiology tells us that as humans we need to feel kinship with other humans for our bodies to operate in a coherent way. Less discussed is our need for other-thanhuman kinship. Few even make the connection that the one therapy that seems nearly universally helpful and relevant in improving the health of people suffering from the “diseases of civilization” – trauma, anxiety, depression,

alienation, addiction, inflammation, immune dysfunction, endocrine regulation, and cancer in their myriad expressions – is walking mindfully in a forest. (I expect future research will establish the same for deserts, prairies, taigas, savannas, swamps, marshes, and other places where wild plants grow.) Treatment – the amelioration of symptoms – and cure – the elimination of symptoms – are significantly different goals and outcomes than healing. Echoing words spoken about the late Dr. Edward Bach by a woman who worked with him, Peter Conway says that the difference between being cured and being healed is that you can die healed – die brought back into right relation with all things in your inner world and your outer worlds. That can only happen in a context where we recognize and experience the rest of the world as alive. As herbalists, we are in a unique position to facilitate healing – guiding people in practices that connect them with plants and fungi (and


with their own bodies,) we can shift their relationships with themselves, their human and other-than-human relations, and the living world itself in ways that change what it means for them to be a human embodied in this time and place, which in turn will change the ways their nervous and endocrine and immune systems process and respond to the world, changing everything else in our bodies in turn. But too often we fall into the trap of simply treating plants and fungi as remedies for specific ailments, echoing mainstream medicine’s incomplete understanding of the nature of health and healing. I think that incorporating the following principles could go a long way in shifting us toward an animist, somatic herbalism that can bring deeper healing, both individual and collective:

1. Our bodies are dynamic, complex living systems, and so is the body of the world. Separating mind from body and body from land, our culture has defined the land and waters as reservoirs of inert material and bodies as machines for transforming that material into wealth. Historian Silvia Federici writes: “Capitalism was not the first system based on the exploitation of human labor. But more than any other system in history, it has tried to create an economic world where labor is the most essential principle of accumulation. As such it was the first to make the regimentation and mechanization of the body a key premise of the accumulation of wealth. Indeed, one of

capitalism’s main social tasks from its beginning to the present has been the transformation of our energies and corporeal powers into labor-powers Capitalism was born from the separation of people from the land and its first task was to make work independent of the seasons and to lengthen the workday beyond the limits of our endurance. Generally, we stress the economic aspect of this process, the economic dependence capitalism has created on monetary relations, and its role in the formation of a wage proletariat. What we have not always seen is what the separation from the land and nature has meant for our body, which has been pauperized and stripped of the powers that precapitalist populations attributed to it.” Outside the disciplines of mechanization visited on them, our bodies are capable of emerging subtle shifts in their experience of their internal ecologies – the intuitive dimensions of pulse diagnosis come to mind – and win the world from which they arise – Federici writes “We know now, for instance, that the Polynesian populations used to travel the high seas at night with only their body as their compass, as they could tell from the vibrations of the waves the different ways to direct their boats to the shore“ – which we can gloss as reading the pulse of the ocean. In both instances, bodies are attuning to subtle flows within complex systems, and the ways in which everything shifts around them. Changes in complex systems can ultimately only be understood in terms of mapping the nature of such flows – whether somatically, using our awareness of our own experience of embodiment as a technology of perception and investigation, or through the elaborate equations and


algorithms of chaos mathematics and systems theory. Linear, rationalist models lack the complexity and subtlety to accurately map and predict events in living systems. 2. Individual, community, cultural, & ecological health are inseparable. What is this thing I call a body, this community of cells and tissues and organs? It contains at least as many cells that we would call viral or bacterial or fungal as cells we would call Homo sapiens. The elements that make it up are ancient – the iron in my blood and the iron at the core of the earth were forged together in the first generation of stars. But the molecules and atoms contained in it have not been contained in it long – in fact, the mercury and dioxin stored in my superficial fascia when my body breathed them

in and couldn’t figure out how to neutralize or remove them in my childhood have been part of my body far longer than any of the molecules I can identify as part of my biochemistry. If anything, this body is a habitual way matter and energy have of arranging themselves. The water that flows through my body has flowed through other human and animal bodies as well, and through soil and roots and mycelia – and my health depends on the health of everything that water flows through. The soil is the fascia of the Earth and what is contained within it will be held in my fascia as well. Who is this persona who claims to be “me”? He is a product of the interaction of the consciousness that arises within my body with the actions and expressions of the other


consciousnesses around me. If I spend most of my time in the forest, my persona will take on the characteristics of a forest. If I spend most of my time among other humans, my persona will take on characteristics of the community we participate in. The health of that persona, that psyche, is dependent on the health of the community that shapes it. 3. There is an intelligence inherent in these inter-related complex living systems that will tend to maintain, and, when necessary, protect and restore the integrity of the system.

levels in response in order to increase arterial tension, and the physician gives an angiotensin conversion enzyme (ACE) inhibitor and the herbalist responds with Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum.) The body makes an end run around the process by increasing levels of norepinephrine and the physician gives a beta-blocker to shut down the beta receptor sites for norepinephrine and the herbalist gives an adaptogen. Whatever response the practitioner brings, the body keeps finding new ways to elevate the blood pressure, because elevating blood pressure is an adaptive response to living under constant threat

As we discussed above, most of contemporary Western biomedicine is guided by the belief that the body is a machine whose function is production. Disease and injury are seen as the result of malfunctioning parts that will respond to manipulation, suppression, stimulation, replacement, or removal. Diagnosis is based on a taxonomy of symptoms, with little attention to their origin, and clusters of similar symptoms are treated identically.

Any of these strategies can play a necessary role in temporarily lowering blood pressure to prevent heart attack or stroke. But none of them will be effective in the long haul. The only thing that will make a permanent change in blood pressure is a shift in experience that makes the world feel safer. Until the information that is informing the system’s actions changes, the system will continue to find ways to respond to the existing information.

Systems theory and complexity theory are revealing that model to be flawed and unscientific. Our bodies are not machines, but self organizing systems that adapt to change. The elements of those systems will always work in concert to ensure survival in the best ways that the information and resources available to it. There is, in essence, no such thing as a maladaptive response, and often the only thing that can change the system’s response is a change in the information the system has about the organism’s experience of the world. (Unless there is significant organ damage.)

This is nothing new to herbalists versed in Vitalist approaches to medicine. In The Philosophy of Physiomedicalism, J. M. Thurston wrote:

Let’s look at hypertension, for example. The body elevates its blood pressure because it perceives the world as in some way unsafe, and it wants to be ready to respond to threats. So if a physician or an herbalist intervenes by giving, say, hydrochlorothiazide or Dandelion (Taraxacum officianalis) in order to increase urination, reducing the volume of fluids in the body, and thus reducing blood pressure. That works for a while, but the body realizes the world still isn’t safe, so it increases angiotensin

“The human Organism is essentially a vital commonwealth, dominated by Vital force, with integrative, constructive, and regenerative instinct, and whose inherent nature is resistive, prophylactical, eliminative, and reconstructive when the vital domain - living organism - is invaded by inimical or diseasecausations. “ But Thurston and Vitalism still treat that commonweatlh and the force that moves through it as separate from the rest of the living universe. An animist herbalism recognizes that our life and our bodies are not apart from the rest of the living universe. That we are a particular and precise arrangement of matter and energy into exactly the forms they know as ours for the purpose of experiencing the universe in its fullness, and seeks only to remove obstacles to


the flow of life through us and to nourish that flow until the matter and energy contained within us yearn for dissolution, and then allow them to dissolve to arise again in new form. We recognize that every response of a cell, a tissue, an organ, an organism, or a community, be it a physiological or behavioral, is the system’s best attempt to meet its needs with the resources and information available, and are curious to understand what the system is responding to and why it is responding the way it is responding. If we seek to change the response, we need to change the information driving the response or give the system another way to accomplish what it needs to accomplish. 4. Humans need connection with other humans and with other-than-human beings to maintain neuro-endocrine-immune health. Our ancestors   evolved in a world that they experienced as alive and always speaking to them.   Their bodies were attuned to the rhythms of wind and water, the sound of the air moving beneath an Eagle’s wing, the exhalations of Cedar and Honeysuckle and Datura, the pheromones and heartbeats of each others’ bodies. Their bodies, and our bodies, the bodies of their descendants evolved to live in communion with each other, the living world around them, and themselves in all of their parts.     Like all mammals, their primary impulse was toward connection — as long as the world around them felt safe and they perceived connection as available. Psychiatrist   Stephen Porges   speaks of our capacity for neuroception,   ” a neural process, distinct from perception, that is capable of distinguishing environmental (and visceral) features that are safe, dangerous, or life threatening.”     He says that “Neuroception represents a neural process that enables mammals to engage in social behaviors by distinguishing safe from dangerous contexts.”

When we experience the world as safe, we seek to engage each other. Our vagus nerve carries a strong signal to the heart, which allows it to maintain a rhythm that is coherent with what is happening in the world around it.  We breathe more deeply.  Our muscles relax.  We are open. Even if we encounter threats, if we believe help is available, we continue to remain in that optimal vagal state – which allows us to maintain our capacity to perceive, communicate, and co-create solutions. But, when we experience the world as unsafe and help as unavailable, the signal the vagus nerve carries to the heart becomes weaker. At first the heart begins to speed up, and, as it does, norepinephrine and adrenaline first make us increasingly vigilant, and then make us increasingly fearful and aggressive.  Eventually we reach a fight or flight state, where our cognitive awareness of the world around us slips away and we are acting on pure survival instinct. If we have experienced our most desperate struggle failing to keep us safe, or if we believe then we may go into the opposite state when we sense danger — surrendering to the inevitability of disaster, becoming increasingly numb and dissociated until we freeze completely. If we aren’t brought back into connection and coherence, we can get stuck in such hyperarousal or hypo-arousal states, and our nervous system will continue to inform our endocrine and immune systems that we are remain in danger even after the danger has past, leading to physiological responses that are incongruous to our actual current situation, and which can give rise to chronic inflammatory, automimmune, endocrine dysregulation, and pain disorders as well as compromising our body’s ability to detect and respond to internal ecological imbalances such as infections and cancers. We come back into regulation by coming back into connection with our own bodies and our own web of relations.


Connection with other-than-human beings can help to draw us back into embodied presence – especially if our history of human interactions is fraught with pain, fear, and struggle. We have an immediate, visceral set of responses to the presence of plants. When we breath in their scents, our smooth muscles relax, we become more sensitive to hormonal signals inside and around us, and our nervous systems move into a state of coherence that recalibrates the function of our internal organs. As Guido Masé writes, “aromatics bring us into focused, flowing balance and help us function more efficiently.” ) We seek the shade of trees in summer, and the kiss of blades of grass glazed with dew. They are our kindred. They bring us profound medicine. And that kinship is part of the medicine. 5. Diversity increases the adaptability of living systems.

resilience

&

There is a saying in Ireland, “God put the blight on the potatoes, the British put the famine on the Irish.” The Irish potato blight spread rapidly and wiped out a food system and an economy in short order because the occupying British military had turned the country into a monocropped plantation dedicated to supplying England with potatoes. An economy, an agricultural system, an economy become brittle when they lack diversity, subject to catastrophic collapse under stress.

This includes supporting the health of wild populations of our medicine beings and the ecologies that give rise to them. It also means that our therapeutic goals need to have an ecological dimension. We seek to help people regain their ability to perceive and act in accordance with their connection to and interdependence with the other members of the human and other-than-human communities they belong to by bringing them into states of openhearted embodied presence. We do not seek to make it easier for people to continue to participate in an ecocidal culture. We especially do not disrespect the lives of the plants and fungi whose bodies we use as medicine by using them to enable the continuation of ways of being and thinking and seeing and feeling and unfeeling that threaten the well being of their kin. 7. Sex & death are the currents and currencies of exchange in ecological systems. Our therapeutics must take this into account. Sex and death, eros and thanatos – the vibrant, vital, ecstatic flow of life into being and connection, and the decay and dissolution of life back into the soil and water of the body of the earth are two serpents intertwining in fluid motion in relation to each other. Eros is the drive of life toward ecstatic flowering. Most of the time we seek to bring people into the fullest blossoming of their nature.

The same is true of a species and of a culture. An animist herbalism celebrates the diversity of human and other-than-human bodies and consciousnesses, and seeks to help every body be a full expression of the life flowing through it according to its own nature rather than seeking to pathologize and eradicate difference. 6. Plants and fungi are not inert materials for the production of medicine, they are living beings with their own intelligences, & animist herbal medicine seeks to engage in reciprocal relationship with the plants & fungi whose help it engages in healing.

Thanatos is the drive of life toward death, toward shedding one form and dissolving so that it may be reconstituted into another – ultimately a transpersonal variation on eros. Sometimes our therapeutics are about helping what is trying to die die – whether it be a way of being and seeing and feeling, a persona, or, in the right season, the people themselves. Neither is possible without the other. The Cedar grows tall and majestic feeding off the bodies of Salmon dragged into the woods by Bears and Eagles and off the fallen leaves and flowers of the other trees around it. When it dies its body will feed fungi and microbes and the soil itself – and eventually other trees.


In a culture that fears the power of both sex and death and the ways in which they connect us with the animal reality of our being and our kinship with the funky musky florality of Hawthorn Blossoms and to the experiences of pain and pleasure, terror and ecstasy that we share with all of life, an animist herbalism will recognize that all of these experiences can be gateways into deeper embodied presence and connection. We would take de Sade’s position that sensation and its amplification are morally neutral a step further, saying that when experienced fully, sensation and its modulation and flow are transformational, and allowed to play out in a living system, will guide it back to coherence. 8. Human bodies and the body of the world are the primary texts that inform our practice of healing. The wider the variety of somatic experiences we have of our own bodies and the bodies of others, and the deeper and more varied the connections we experience with other living beings, the richer our medicine will be. I can’t help but note how the words above came, as I wrote this, illustrate the reality that our individual consciousness, even at it’s most creative, in fact perhaps especially at its most creative, will express emergent insights and experiences that also show up in the expression of other minds in the same broad webs of relation. I wrote the words “Human bodies and the body of the world are the primary texts that inform our practice of healing” in mid-April. A few weeks later, I was at a conference in Portland, OR where Peter Grey, a British occultist and witch with a somatic bent, said “The answer is not to be sought in texts, but in the body. The body in the special extended sense of the 'body without organs,' the flows, the nomadic and frankly confusing deterritorialised world(s) of Deleuze and Guattari’s Mille Plateaux.[ . . .] It is the body which is the site of ritual actions, that generates the sacred substances; a body that only makes sense in relationship to the world and a community, an ecology of beings.” I can only conclude that we

were both speaking what the text of the body of the world was inscribing on the texts of our individual bodies. 9. Ancestral memories of trauma and resilience live on in our bodies. The emerging/ent science of epigenetics is showing us how experiences changes our genes, passing down the memory of a response to a sensation or an emotion to future generations. We also inherit elements of language and behavior and posture in the process of becoming assimilated into our family culture, which shape our experience of embodiment. An animist medicine must take into account ancestral influences and ancestral healing and may engage healthful ancestral memories to help shift and replace unhealthy patterns passed down from more recent generations of our families and our cultures. 10. Plants & fungi belong to themselves. While traditional relationships between plants and fungi and the Indigenous cultures that arose alongside them need to be honored as part of the ecology of a place, plant and fungal knowledge is a continuing revelation arising from all authentic and sincere relationships with the plants and fungi themselves. Here in my own bioregion, Devil’s Club grows.   Coast Salish peoples have long engaged the plant in protection magic   — but, though their ritual and medical science and technology inform my understanding of the plant, I do not engage it using their cultural practices.    I came to know Devil’s Club on its own terms,  and visit it regularly, bringing offerings and prayers, and harvesting it  according to instructions the plant itself gave me. I can tell you that Devil’s Club grows where the forest has been disrupted by a clearcut or a landslide or a flood and protects rich soils and the wildflowers that grow in them because its spiky stalks prevent big creatures from blundering over them and its great leaves shade the ground.      I can tell you that it is so hard to


remove by hand that it stopped the northward expansion of the railroads in British Columbia.   I can tell you its green buds tipped with purple throb with erotic power in spring.     But you still will not know Devil’s Club.    And Devil’s Club will not be ready to join you in your work until you have made your own relationship. And then your magic and medicine will not resemble mine. 11. Contemporary animism in a multicultural society is inherently syncretic – informed by the technology and science of the people who traditionally inhabit the land, elements of the disasporanimisms (a term coined by Brandt Stickley) both traditional and recovered, of the colonizing and diasporic peoples who also inhabit the place, and new understandings and practices arising out of direct relationship with the other-than-human inhabitants of the land. We respond to the world as it is with all its messiness and pain and contradictions rather than seeking to act as though we are in an idealized past or a utopian future. 12. Connection with natural rhythms of the sun, the moon, the stars, & changes in the land is important to human health. Gil Hedley speaks of the sun as our master endocrine gland, with its cycles of light and darkness signaling our bodies to shift their chemistries.

Our bodies move through other chemical cycles with the moon – and the water that makes up most of our bodies responds to shifts in the gravitational pull of the moon, and likely shifts in the gravitational pull of the planets as well. Systems of astrology may have arisen as people marked the character of the changes in emotional and sensory experience that occurred when the Earth was in various positions in relation to the stars that make up the sets of constellations we call Zodiacs and which appear from the perspective of humans on Earth to be fixed in their relation to each other because they are so far away and so tiny in comparison to the vast emptiness between them that we can’t perceive their motion away from each other, making them good navigational markers. And while we do not yet know the ways our bodies respond to starlight, looking out at the night sky far away from electric lights it becomes impossible to believe that our bodies did not evolve to respond to the subtle shifts in the arrangement of stars in the sky that move in predictable cycles. All traditional systems of medicine speak of changing how we eat and move and sleep and celebrate with changes in the season marked by the life cycles of plants and animals. The sun, the moon, the stars, the darkness, the weather, and the myriad births and deaths


around us change the information coming into the complex systems of our consciousness in ways our bodies evolved to understand and shift with. To come back into connection and back into wholeness we need to come back into alignment with those cycles.

13. Beauty and wonder are the somatic recognitions of the healthy flow of life. Our innate aesthetic sense is rooted in the resolution into meaning of the gestalt of emotional and sensory information. When we train ourselves to shift our aesthetic response away from the learned judgements of our talking, thinking minds and toward the responses of our hearts and our bodies as a whole, we begin to perceive beauty wherever there is healthy flow.

Brandt Stickley speaks of the way in which a proper arrangement of acupuncture needles should form a sigil in the eyes of the practitioner. I teach my students that a proper herbal formula should feel like a single herb in the body. Animist medicine is also a bardic medicine that begins to break down the distinction between the literal and the metaphorical. What we call the literal is an attempt to impose a single set of colonial metaphors on the world. Manannรกn mac Lir sees the sea as a field of wildflowers. Dogen saw mountains as slowly moving rivers of stone and rivers as swiftly moving mountains of water. I see all these things and more. In animist worldview, it is not mere whimsy to equate a river and a galaxy, both are alive and flowing. And so are you. And so am I. And so are we.


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Iodine: A Force of Nature & Evolution, Part II

by Matthew Wood The Antioxidant Effects of Iodine Exclusive Plant Healer Excerpts From His Unpublished Works Free radicals are unstable molecules that easily release their oxygen to promote tissue destruction. Oxygen is a necessary component of combustion, so free radicals promote tissue “burning” – though this occurs in the body more like the “weathering” of old barn boards, a slower form of oxidation. This causes the breakdown, aging, and death of tissues and cells. Iodine is a scavenger for free radicals and it therefore has the same effect as the antioxidants that are today so esteemed in preventative medicine. In addition, iodine, like vitamin C, stimulates and increases the activities of antioxidants.

This would be a good place to mention that Drs. Abraham and Brownstein, two of the main contemporary advocates of iodine supplementation, collected evidence that vitamin C can improve the cellular transport mechanism of iodine when it is defective in some patients. This kind of defect occurs rarely and therefore the number of patients treated was small and the evidence empirical (Abraham and Brownstein, 2005, 125). But we in CAM like empiricism: it is well grounded in the life of patients and it helps to build the skills of clinicians like herbalists who rely upon direct observation and symptomology rather than tests.

Remember Linus Pauling’s work on vitamin C as a general health stimulant for protection against acute disease and even cancer? Suppressed for decades by the medical establishment, some of his applications are just now being “discovered” by the mainstream. This is another example of the knee-jerk suppression of common substances and ideas that too readily “rock the boat” of the establishment. Medicine, like all disciplines, is an “establishment.” This is true even of herbal medicine – don’t I know it.!

The Antiseptic Properties of Iodine At the time of its discovery, the germ theory was unknown and therefore the use of iodine as an external antiseptic lagged behind its use as a supplement for what we would now call hypothyroidism. I didn’t know this until I read about it: I would have expected the more simple external use to have come first. Pasteur’s Germ Theory eventually brought this property to the front. Dr. Cutting’s work shows that iodine is not just antiseptic but catalyzes the curative properties of the polymers from the matrix.


The safe use of iodine as an antispetic has been confirmed by recent research. “Benefit and harm of iodine in wound care: a systematic review” by H. Vermeulen, S. J. Westerbos, and D. T. Ubbink (2010, 191) concluded:

We can see why this is the case from Dr. Venturi’s overview: iodine has been with us since the beginning of time. It has acted as the body natural internal purifier, antioxidant, and antibiotic in nearly all multicellular life forms.

Adverse effects, including thyroid function derailment, did not occur more frequently with iodine. Based on the available evidence from clinical trials, iodine is an effective antiseptic agent that shows neither the purported harmful effects nor a delay of the wound-healing process, particularly in chronic and burn wounds. The antiseptic effect of iodine is not inferior to that of other (antiseptic) agents and does not impair wound healing. Hence, iodine deserves to retain its place among the modern antiseptic agents.

Unfortunately, the mechanism for the action of iodine as an antibiotic is still unknown (McDonnell and Russell, 1999). Since biomedicine prefers treatment methods that are well documented, this may be preventing its use in this important arena. However, there is also an important difference in the way iodine acts as an antibiotic.

It has long been supposed that iodine has an internal antiseptic effect as well. Blood passes through the highly vascularized thyroid gland once every 18 minutes. With 80% of the iodine in the body sequestered in the thyroid, this would appear to make the gland an instrument to cleanse the blood. In addition, the body fluids are saturated with a lesser amount of iodine that may serve the same function. Iodine may be brought to a wound in higher amounts through mechanisms still unknown and untraced.

The Antibiotic Properties of Iodine

Why haven’t we heard about this? Iodine is known to kill most germs and pathogens on the skin within 90 seconds of application, but it has a similar effect in the interior of the body as well. It exhibits activity against gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria, mycobacteria, molds, yeast, protozoa, and many viruses. It is the only known antiseptic suitable for direct external use on the skin with this effect. It also appears to have the broadest range, fewest sideeffects, and (unlike antibiotics) does not develop resistance in bacteria. At the same time, it does not kill the positive probiotics found in our guts.

Whatever the mechanism, iodine is naturally found throughout the body while the latter is not. What this means is the antibiotic properties of iodine are part of a general internal environment of the body that is normal, while manmade antibiotics are interventive and disruptive. The approach is intrinsically different. In natural medicine we want to maintain the natural environment of the body so “the germs don’t live there,” whereas in conventional medicine the attempt is made to kill critters. The latter are only there, however, because the environment itself was “sick” to begin with, or because the latter were powerful enough to impose themselves upon the environment, making it sick. In the latter case, where the invader is especially strong, it may be necessary indeed to kill critters. However, for common germs and yeasts this approach would be foolhardy, though it is commonplace. Therefore, we want to whole body saturation with iodine to keep it from falling prey to microorganisms. It stands to reason that when we are attacked by simple microbes our iodine levels were either low to begin with or are being depleted by the stress of the illness. We should, therefore, increase our iodine uptake. Meanwhile, we should use herbs like Elder (Sambucus)


injected with iodine and can undergo apoptosis, to then be replaced by healthier cells. This should be remembered in the prevention and possibly the treatment of breast cancer. Iodine may also be curative in prostate cancer. In terms of thyroid cancer, which is extremely dangerous, it is essential for prevention. Even when cancer has already darkened the thyroidal doorstep, studies show that patients consistently improve symptomatically after increasing their uptake of iodine. It is also known that thyroid cancer is more common in people suffering from iodine deficiency. ...or Rabbit Tobacco...

that have, for example, a well-documented antiviral property or maintain and improve the environment like the old fever remedies Yarrow, Elder, Peppermint, Lemon Balm, etc. Even in the treatment of Lyme Disease, where the pathogen is aggressive, we can still change the environment with agents like Teasel, Andrographis, Cat’s Claw, and Japanese Knotweed. The premier writer on iodine as an antibiotic at the present time is the acupuncturist Mark Sircus, OMD. Iodine & Cancer The association of iodine to cancer prevention and even cure is not a fairytale. Modern research has shown that cancer cells shrink after being

The possible association of radioactive iodine-131 is also not a fairytale, though it has not received as much attention as some of us believe it should. How else can we explain the burgeoning levels of cancer in the very organs in which it concentrates: salivary glands, breasts, ovaries, and testicles? Yet this causal factor is discounted even before research is considered. Add to this the factor that most people today in American (since 1990) and around the world are short of iodine. This means they will absorb the radioactive iodine-131 along with the good kind. “Experts” say shortage does not play into cancer, short of nuclear accidents, because iodine-131 has a half-life of only 8 days and is quickly absented from the body. However, herbalist Ryan Drum, Ph. D., suggests an overlooked mechanism. He points out that this half-life means that iodine-131 disintegrates inside the body and that the gamma radiation – which is unsafe for cellular life at any level – is released inside the body and often inside the cells themselves. Iodine-131 is everywhere in the environment. It is routinely released from nuclear reactors at levels considered “safe” and used in medical technology (to kill thyroid tissue in particular). The safest protection against gamma radiation from iodine-131 is to eat good, clean iodine sources such as seaweed every day in moderate doses. Dr. Drum points out that even if seaweed sources are polluted by radiation the iodine-131 will be 99% disintegrated after 50 days storage;


so seaweeds are still safe despite increasing oceanic radioactive pollution – if we take this precaution. Of course, chemical iodine supplements are completely safe since they are made from mined deposits millions or billions of years old. This is also true of mined sea salt from ancient deposits. Iodine & the Immune System We are now in a position to appreciate the action of iodine on the immune system. It operates in combination with hyaluronic acid to establish and maintain the basic scaffolding by which communication occurs in the matrix. This includes immunological signals. It is antiseptic, germicidal, and (through its thyroidal influence) warming and circulating. It helps maintain the environment within which healthy immunity flourishes. It also enters into direct immunological functions. We have already seen the importance that Venturi et al. (2000) placed on the nonthyroidal influences of iodine from the most primitive organisms up to ourselves. This would make iodine an important part of the innate immune system found in all life forms, the basis of a general, nonspecific immunity. In 2009 Marani and Venturi authored a review entitled “Iodine, thymus, and immunity,” in Nutrition (2009, 977) in which they cited the high concentration of iodide ions in the thymus gland as an “anatomic rationale” for the role iodine plays in immunity. The thymus is the original seat of T-cell production, the basis of individualized, adaptive immunity. This form of immunity is found in the higher animals, allowing them to react to specific irritants, develop specific antigens, and individualize their immune responses. The technical name for it is the “acquired immune system.” However, Venturi need not have looked so far away as the thymus because the thyroid itself is ever-changing to meet the needs of stress in the body. Again, from Robbins (1967), “the thyroid gland is one of the most sensitive organs in the body. It responds to many stimuli and is in a

constant state of adaptation” to “physiologic stress from any source.” Venturi et al round up their case with a digest of major research on immunology and iodine in scientific literature. They note that iodine also operates in cell-mediated immune response, lymphocytes, neutrophils, and granulocytes, and can contribute to cytokine and inflammation suppression. The suggestion is even made that the conversion of T4 into rT3 is made to help immune response. Iodine helps to maintain and repair the primary environmental “theatre” in which immune reactions occur in the matrix. It enters in to important nonspecific, system-wide immunity and also may be active in the specialized, individualized specific immune system of higher animal life. Through the thyroid it promotes warmth and circulation that changes when fever is present and releases or retains heat in the organism in disease – also in health. Cleansing Effects of Iodine The matrix is contiguous with the blood, which supplies it with fluid, oxygen, food, and building materials, and the lymph, which carries away the debris of life. One of the old naturopaths, C. Samuel West, who died not that long ago, advocated a single, simple method for healthmaintenance: using a mini-trampoline daily to stir up the lymph (horse-riding will do this too), and a clean, low protein diet – he felt proteins caused the buildup of debris in the extracellular spaces, a proposition I do not agree with. At any rate, he demonstrated the importance of keeping the blood, extracellular fluids, and lymph moving and clean. Complementary and alternative medicine has long taught that iodine has a sanative effect analogous to its obvious external antiseptic properties. Part of this reputation is now proven by modern research. Iodine has been shown to flush out chemical toxins. It immediately increases excretion of the halides that compete with it for thyroid bonding receptors – bromine and fluoride. These are not known to be


removed by any other kind of chelation or detoxification method. In addition it flushes out mercury, lead, cadium, and aluminum (Sticht, Käferstein, 1988). In addition, iodine has a known bactericidal effect. Among the bacteria it is known to target Heliobacter pylori, present in stomach ulcers that can progress into gastric cancer. Calendula is widely used for stomach ulcers: it not only soothes abraded, tender, inflamed mucosa but contains mucilage (hyaluronans), sodium, and iodine that will be directly available on ulcerated tissue. New iodine is daily taken up from the food and, near the ocean, from the atmosphere. It moves through the blood and lymph which drain the intestines, eventually finding its way to the thyroid, which is one of the vascularized tissues in the body – crisscrossed by vessels so that the iodine can be sucked up. The carotid arteries butt up right against the thyroid and it has long been believed by CAM practitioners that the blood going to the brain gains some extra iodine by proximity as it passed the thyroid. The carotids drop some blood off in the sinuses, which need perhaps a bit extra iodine due to the opening of these spaces to the germ, virus, pollen, and waste infused air we breathe. More of it passes up to the brain, providing an extra clean iodine-rich blood. Some of this is pressed through the choroid plexus, to become the cerebrospinal fluid which coats, sedates, and feeds the brain and nerves of the body. This fluid – which has been described to me as looking like beautiful starlight – flows down along all the nerves to the nerve-endings, where it flows out into the matrix. Every 17-18 minutes the blood passes through the thyroid, so that it is exposed to high levels of antiseptic, apoptotic, immune-stimulating iodine. In other words, it is cleansed and receives any extra iodine there is to share. This is supplemented by the constant breakdown of a little bit of TH in the bloodstream. Eventually, the serous contents – the watery parts – of the blood are pushed out of the capillary blood into the matrix, bringing many things including free

iodine and TH. The breakdown of T4 into T3 in the cells, and presumably the further deterioration of T3 supply the cells and the matrix with iodine. The lymphatic capillaries pick up some of this as it carries away debris from the matrix. It is probably well-used in the waste laden lymph as it finally empties into the subclavian veins just before the heart, and so into the blood. All of this keeps the fluids of the body – blood, matrix, CFS, and lymph – “clean” and readily supplies iodine at the site of a wound, where it meets with hyaluronic acid and sodium. The vigor of the peripheral circulation that brings the blood into the capillary bed is dependent on the TH that supplies energy regulation to the cardiovascular system. Coincidentally the TH also dilates the vascular system so that the blood is better able to reach and warm the periphery. The iodine impregnated blood prevents the spread of germs and sepsis through the bloodstream, removes free radicals, and is ever ready to plunge through the capillaries into the ECM. The normal saturation level of iodine in the blood, lymph, and matrix contributes immeasurably to maintenance and healing of the organism. One testimony to the high level of iodine in the blood is the fact that blood sausage was once used as an iodine supplement in European regions where iodine was hard to obtain. We can now see the important of reaching what the iodine doctors, Guy Abraham, David Brownstein, and Jorge Flechas, call “whole body sufficiency,” that is to say, complete saturation. An overview of the use of iodine in general practice is offered by Dr. Flechas (2005), and of iodine’s effect on major organs and systems of the body is given by Dr. Michael Donaldson, Recent Advances in Iodine Nutrition at myhdiet.com. Iodine & Connective Tissue Development Connective tissues rose out of the ocean of the extracellular matrix to become the “dry land.” They provide the membranes that separate compartments of the body – each organ actually


has its own surrounding matrix, set off from other organs – the springy absorptive tissues that hold and release water, the elastic, stretchable tissues, the semi-flexible cartilage, the harder bones, and structural parts of the skin, mucosa, and linings of the body. These are typically the organs repaired by Hyiodine or the hyaluronans, sodium, and iodine – all of which are found together naturally in the matrix. If we remember back to Dr. Venturi’s discussion of the evolution of iodine and the thyroid we will recall that thyroid hormone (T4) first showed up in the exoskeleton of an ancient Chordate (vertebral animal). By the time we reach the reptiles the thyroid is already present – even though it doesn’t have a thermoregulatory function! When it first developed the thyroid already conjoins T4, calcitonin, and parathormone, all of which are concerned with bone-making, not with the metabolism. The thyroid of the turtle, which makes perhaps the most sophisticated boney growth of the reptilian life wave, is highly developed – with this purpose in mind. So, still, when we come to warm-blooded animals the thyroid and its hormones are involved in bone-making, or more broadly, connective tissue construction. In human children T3 is required for skeletal development. In adults it regulates bone turnover and mineralization. Thyrotoxicosis is a known risk factor for osteoporosis. T3 receptors are found in the osteoblasts and chondrocytes which develop bone and cartilage and it indirectly regulates osteoclasts, which bring about the reabsorption of old bone tissue. Local hormones are probably involved (Williams, 2002). The skeleton is an exquisitely sensitive and archetypal T3-target tissue that demonstrates the critical role for thyroid hormones during development, linear growth, and adult bone turnover and maintenance (Bassett and Williams, 2016, 37(2): 135). Dr. Drum had a case where a grandmotherly woman had worn out the cartilage in her knees and was looking at knee replacements sometime in the future. Hearing from the local Indians of

the Pacific Northwest, who had thousands of years of experience with seaweeds, that a sea vegetable emulsion around joints could rebuild them, he set about to help his neighbor. For a year he provided a fresh decoction of seaweed that he poured into boots that she agreed to wear – she worked on her feet. After a year her joints were completely rebuilt. This inspirational story shows us the extent to which people who are really dedicated can rebuild deteriorated and perhaps injured cartilage. There are excellent herbal bone remedies that will cure bone remarkably: Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum), Mullein (Verbascum thapsus)...

and Comfrey (Symphytum officinalis). Wild Yam (Dioscorea villosa) is specific for hip joint disease and probably also Solomon’s Seal (Polygonatum spp). I have used all these remedies with success on broken bones, tendon injuries, and hip joint deterioration. I have many cases of Solomon’s Seal helping dogs with this problem, but not people, for whom I have used Wild Yam. It is instructive to note that iodine supplements were widely and very successfully used for what the old doctors called “tertiary syphilis.” This would be advanced syphilis, where the bones, tendons, and cartilage are being eaten away and brain function is often damaged. Rocine (1921, 74), wrote:


Potassium iodide ranks as a specific in tertiary syphilis. It is considered an excellent remedy in sclerosis of the liver and in chronic bronchitis. It acts as an irritant. It stimulates the glands to greater action, especially the lymph glands. We don’t see “tertiary syphilis” today, due to the use of antibiotics when the disease is in its incipient stage. One author, writing an historical review in 1940, “expressed his amazement at the surprisingly good results obtains with iodide” in this complaint, “using daily amounts of gms of iodide for long periods of time and without any evidence of complications” (Abraham, 2006, 36). Although basically unknown today, tertiary syphilis is somewhat analogous to advanced Lyme disease, which is the product of Borelia

burgdorfii, a syphilitic spirochete. This may have been the source of much of the arthritic suffering of our rheumatic nineteenth century ancestors – not actual human syphilis. The research suggests that people suffering from chronic diseases of any kind, but especially those that attack the matrix – Morgellons, Lyme disease and its co-infections – and the connective tissues, may need to consume greater amounts of iodine. There is no absolute standard for determining how much is the right level of supplementation except the feeling of well-being in the patient. Others types of sickness may also need more of this healing substance. We would think particularly of any kind of exhaustion, bacterial infection, or heavy metal detoxification.


Plants vs Drugs Part II: Extract, Concentrate, Purify by Susun S Weed The following is an exclusive advance excerpt, drawn from Susun’s upcoming new book Abundantly Well, the Complementary, Integrated Medical Revolution (releasing in 2019). She invites your feedback: susun@herbshealing.com

Step 5 offers us pure, clean, white, standardized drugs. The Food and Drug Administration defines drugs as: “articles intended for use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease in man or other animals;

and articles (other than food) intended to affect the structure or any function of the body of man or any other animal.” By this definition, a hug is a drug.


I define a drug as a substance that is not a plant, nor made from a plant; drugs are synthesized from hydrocarbons or created from constituents identified in plants. There are:

• Saves plants • Easy to take • Easy to prescribe • Incredibly profitable

• Prescribed drugs • Black-market drugs • Over the counter drugs ! • Food drugs • Hormones, steroids! • Anesthesias, narcotics • Herbicides, pesticides! • Opiates, opioids • Essential oils! • Antibiotics • Vitamin supplements! • Solvents • Cosmetic ingredients • Dyes • Industrial chemicals ! • IV drugs • Psychoactive drugs • Emulsifiers

In 2017 there were 695 million prescriptions written for the five most popular drugs. Unless your religion forbids it, you’ve taken drugs to deal with health problems. Because they were prescribed. Since it seemed like what you should do. Because you didn’t think you had the right to say “no.” Because everyone else does. !

Beware. Step 5 is a dangerous place. Instead of using pharmakos (scapegoat) to absorb impurity, the new medicine [of ancient Greece] used pharmakon (drug). –A. Escohotado

Plants aren’ t drugs. Three steps are required to make them drugs. 1. Extract the constituent you desire. A tincture is an extract, but it is not a drug. 2. Concentrate the constituent you have extracted; remove the water or alcohol you used to extract it. Decoctions are concentrated by evaporation of water but are not drugs. 3. Purify the concentrated extract; remove all other constituents and standardize the amount of the active compound. “More [Americans] die each year from reactions to the drugs they get in the hospital than are killed in automobile accidents. And ten percent of all auto accidents involve drivers impaired by medications.” –Stephen Frieda More than 4 million adverse drug reactions are reported yearly in the USA; 100,000 are fatal. Pharmaceutical Medicine: Benefits • Fast-acting • Very specific

Pharmaceutical Medicine: Problems Properly-prescribed drugs can kill. Correctlyused drugs can cause permanent physical and psychological problems. Drugs can cause severe short-term reactions. Drugs taken for one probelm cause another. Drugs disturb mood, mental status, and sleep patterns. Drugs injure as they help. The risk of an adverse drug effect is 50 to 60 percent if four drugs are taken chronically [daily], and almost 100 percent with eight or nine drugs. –Douglas Zipes MD


Far more people die each year from adverse reactions to prescription and over-the-counter medications than succumb to all illegal drug use. –Stephen Frieda (author’s italics) ! Seeking legalization of drugs, in 1903, the American Medical Association and the American Pharmaceutical Association declared: “Who kills the body of a man is an angel, compared to he who destroys the soul by administering a drug without prescription.” Two years later, legal opium and morphine — addictive souldestroyers — were the most-prescribed drugs in the United States. The actual extent of problems created by prescribed drugs is probably much greater. Medical professionals, who are supposed to make a “spontaneous report” to the Center for Disease Control if they observe an adverse reaction to a drug, rarely do. Estimates are that 90 percent of all adverse reactions, and as much as 99 percent of serious adverse reactions, are never reported. British physicians — who knew they were being observed — reported only 6 percent of the adverse drug reactions they encountered. ! While adverse reaction reporting [to drugs] is terrible in the United States, it is even worse in most of Europe, Asia, and South America. – Dave Flockhart, MD, pharmacologist; Ana Szarfman, FDA Women are significantly more likely to have adverse reactions than men. And doctors are less likely to report their drug problems, believing it’s not worth mentioning; it’s “all in her head.” The surgeon who uses the wrong side of the scalpel cuts his own fingers and not the patient. If [only] the same applied to drugs... –Dr. Rudolph Bucheim (founder of pharmacology) 1847

Are Herbs Drugs? My Merriam-Webster dictionary says a drug is, among other things: “a substance other than food

intended to affect the structure or function of the body.” If herbs are foods (as is true legally in the US) then they aren’t drugs by this definition. But many Step 5 remedies are based on molecules first seen in plants, and some drugs are still made directly from plants. Does that mean herbs are drugs in green coats and as dangerous as drugs? Or that herbs can interact dangerously with drugs? Yes. And no. In order for a plant to be functionally poisonous, it must not only contain a toxic compound, but also possess effective means of presenting that compound to an animal in sufficient concentrations, and the compound must be capable of overcoming whatever physiological or biochemical defenses the animal may possess against it. The presence of a known poison principle, even in toxicologically significant amounts, in a plant does not automatically mean that either man or a given species of animal will ever be effectively poisoned by the plant. –JM Kingsbury Foods are not drugs. Herbs are not drugs. Drugs are extracted, concentrated, and purified, or synthesized. They are more than “substances that produce significant changes in the body, mind, or both, especially at small doses.” Drugs — including legal, prescribed drugs — can cause life-altering, life-threatening harm, even when used correctly. Drugs, even in tiny doses, can cause unexpected violent physical reactions. Common foods that are safe to eat become poisons when specific constituents are extracted, concentrated, and purified. Mint is safe, but essential oil of peppermint contains more than two dozen quite poisonous constituents. Most plants, even those that contain poisons, are safe; all drugs, even those that are necessary, have detrimental side effects, sometimes lethal ones. ! ! Heirarchy of Harm “First, do no harm,” is the basis of the Six Steps of Healing. Each step is potentially more harmful than the one before it. As we saw in Step 4, once we cross the Great Divide, there is also a hierarchy of harm within each step past


The hierarchy of harm helps us choose safer Step 5 remedies that give the same result with fewer side effects. The more we extract, concentrate, and purify/ isolate ingredients from plants, the more druglike they become and the greater our risks in using them. Extraction may be done by tincturing (fresh or dried, in alcohol, glycerin, vinegar, honey), or juicing/squeezing (fresh) plant materials. Buffering constituents are often concentrated as well. Extracts are generally safe/with caution: Cod liver oil/overdose of vitamin A, flax seed oil/ often rancid, goldenseal tincture/harsh on the guts, hashish/habit-forming, opium/addictive.

isolate/in many processed foods, linked to poor health; ascorbic acid/increases risk of diabetes; progesterone cream/ineffective; essential oils/ side effects on page xxx; crack cocaine and heroin/highly addictive. In general, the further from the earth any remedy is — and the nearer to the chemical laboratory and processing plant — the more dangerous it becomes. For example: Cod liver oil, a natural source of vitamin A, is quite safe. Supplements of natural beta carotene (one of the factors of vitamin A) can create problems. Vitamin A supplements always increase hip fractures. While synthetic vitamin A, retinol, can be deadly. Synthetic drugs are inherently more dangerous than other drugs because synthesis creates harmful substances called isomers. Synthetics: Isomers

Concentration involves boiling for extended times (fresh or dried), distilling (fresh or dried), or solvent-washing (fresh or dried) plant materials. Buffering constituents are often degraded, destroyed, or discarded. Potentially poisonous constituents are greatly magnified. Concentrates are more drug-like than extracts and more likely to interact badly with drugs or cause direct harm. Use concentrates only in extreme need: bottled chlorophyll/ineffective, standardized herbal tinctures/more expensive, not more effective, evening primrose oil capsules/gastrointestinal side effects, cocaine/addictive. Purification/Isolation from an extract or concentrate needs a chemistry lab, unhealthy solvents, and thin-line chromatography. What was a complex group of constituents, each with a slightly different role, buffering and helping each other, is reduced to one — the most active, most potentially-poisonous part. Isolation creates crude drugs with side effects. Avoid purified/isolated foods and remedies, or use them at the smallest possible dose for the shortest possible time, like any other drug: Vegetable oil/linked to increased risk for obesity, diabetes, stroke and heart attack; soy protein

Plants have many active ingredients/molecules; a drug has one. In pursuit of predictable remedies, science reduces complex herbs to single active ingredients, and then synthesizes those individual molecules. Unique, chaotic, earthy herbal medicine, people’s medicine becomes standardized, simplified, sterilized synthetic medicine, pharmaceutical medicine. ! Synthesis, we are told, allows us to avoid the variables inherent in crude plant medicines, and to make a remedy that is pure, measurable and repeatable. Sounds easy. It isn’ t. A slight shift in a molecule’s shape can change it from helpful to deadly. And synthesis creates more than slight shifts. ! The synthesis of drugs, including dietary supplements, gives rise to isomers. Isomers are optically rotated forms, or mirror images, of the original molecules. Sometimes this prevents isomers from being used by the body because our cellular receptors are aligned to dextro (right-handed) or to dextro/levo (right/left handed) molecular shapes. All isomers are levo (left-handed) molecules. The “L” in theLtryptophan, refers to levo, telling us this is the isomeric form of tryptophan. !


Some isomers are twenty times more active than normal; other are less active. There is no supplement, whether vitamin, hormone, herbal, amino acid, alkaloid, or anything else, that is “nature identical,” due to processing and synthesizing. For example: ! • Glutamic acid gives meat broths, miso, and tamari a rich flavor. Synthesized gluta-mate (monosodium-glu-tamate/MSG) contains “isomers that cause dangerous neurological reactions and adverse reactions in many individuals.” The use of MSG in commercial food has doubled every decade since the 1940’s. In animals it encourages obesity and adversely affects eyesight, attention span, and memory. • Folates — various tetrahydrofolate derivatives naturally found in plants — are the natural form of vitamin B9. Folic acid is the oxidized, synthetic compound used as a dietary supplement. Folate, available in high amounts in nourishing herbal infusions and organic liver, creates abundant health. Folic acid, found in enriched foods and multi-vitamins, is strongly linked to increased risk of prostate and colon cancer, all-cause mortality, and dementia. “Nutraceuticals” — active ingredients isolated from foods — are clearly pharmaceuticals, not super nutrition as claimed. Human exposure to folic acid was non-existent until its chemical synthesis in 1943, and its introduction as a mandatory food fortification in 1998. – Chris Kresser The subtle chemical differences between food-derived folate and synthetic folic acid may explain why a woman who could eat folate-rich foods without problems nearly died from an injection of it. – ScienceNews, March 1996 Antihistamine Drugs Histamine is an organic nitrogenous compound produced by connective tissue cells. It is involved in 23 different physiological functions, including regulation of blood pressure, sleepwake cycle, mood, and sexual function.

Antihistamines are drugs that inhibit the action of histamine in the body by blocking the histamine receptors. They are considered by the medical profession to be “drugs used against the immune system.” Antihistamines, such as pseudoephedrine, are used to treat hay fever, allergies, conjunctivitis, stuffy and runny noses, coughs, chicken pox, chronic fatigue, motion sickness, dermatitis, hives eczema, Molluscum contagiosum, and more. They are easily available and widely used. Current drug practice puts consumers at higher risk by combining several antihistamines in one pill. Their efficacy, tolerance, and safety in humans has been widely established and hence they make up one of the largest groups of pharmaceutical agents used worldwide. –FE Simmons, Immunologist Side effects include: Drowsiness, lightheadedness, blurry vision, change in ability to think clearly, dry mouth, nose, or throat, thickening of mucus, gastrointestinal upset, stomach pain, nausea, increased appetite/weight gain, premature presbyopia. First-generation antihistamines — such as Dimetane, Benadryl, Tavist, Drixora, Tria-minic — cause severe drowsiness, leading to falls and auto accidents. Second-generation antihistamines — such as Claritin, Alavert, Allegra, Zyrtec, Xyzal, Clarinex — are formulated to be less sedating, but are often much more expensive. “I started with Claritin and it worked good for two years then quit. I went to Flonase [a steroid]; that worked for at least a year. I was fine for a couple years. Then my allergies came back with a vengeance. Allegra worked great for two years. Now I am back on Flonase.” – Alex, 58 Antihistamine Alternatives None are soporific; generally safe and effective combined with drugs.


JewelWeed


Step 1: effective.

Relaxation techniques are highly

Step 2: Acupuncture can be quite helpful. Step 3: Calm down histamine response with food antihistamines: •! Flavonoids in carrots, sweet potatoes, blueberries, tomatoes. •! Omega-3s from! salmon, walnuts, grass-fed meat, flax. •! Quercetin from onions, apples, citrus, broccoli, berries, garlic, tea, grapes, and oak bark inhibits the release of histamine. Step 4: Antihistamine herbs, from safest to most dangerous:

adrenal function; moderates reactions to allergens. •! Jewelweed (Impatiens pallida) is my favorite natural antihistamine. I boil the entire plant, root and all, in water (internal use, freely, against joint pain, allergies) or Witch Hazel (external use against poison ivy/oak rash, heat rash, hives. •! Ragweed (Ambrosia ambrosioides) – dropperful doses of the tincture of the flowering plant, taken as often as needed. •! Echinacea (E. augustifolia) – is a natural antihistamine. •! Osha (Ligusticum porterii) – 3-7 drops of the dried or fresh root tincture – is a powerful herbal antihistamine. I have seen it counter allergy symptoms, even anaphylactic shock, in seconds. •! Oregano   (Origanum vulgare) has 7 different antihistamines. •! Ephedra (Ephedra sinica) – tea as needed – contains pseudoepherine, which has the opposite effects of histamine. •! Papaya (Carica papaya)   – juiced or frozen – inhibits histamine release internally and topically. Step 5: Some soft drugs with few side effects

•! Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)   – seed tea 2-3 times per day – supplies the strong antihistamine quercitin. •! Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) tea, tincture, or in food, inhibits release of histamine; strengthens •! Nettle (Urtica dioica) – freeze-dried capsules daily for 3-6 weeks – 58 percent say symptoms were relieved; 69 percent find it better than the placebo. I prefer nettle infusion; it may take a year or two to see results though. •! Bromelain — 400-500 mg three times daily. •! Ascorbic acid — 1000 mg, 3-5 times a day. Antiviral Drugs Antiviral drugs need to be very specific, as there is a bewildering array of different types of viral


particles and viral diseases. There are antiviral drugs that counter flu, others to counter herpes, and different ones to help those infected with HIV. • Flu antivirals (e.g. oseltamivir/Tamiflu, zanamivir/Relenza, peramivir/Rapivab) Many strains of flu, including H1N1, are now resisant to rimantadine/Flumadine and amantadine/ Symadine. • Side effects of All: headache, dizziness, insomnia. Extra side effects of Tamiflu and Relenza: cough, fever, rash, swelling, back pain, heartburn. ! Flu antivirals are not much better than a placebo, and nowhere near as effective as Elder berry and sauerkraut. A review of 20 studies, found Tamiflu reduced flu symptoms by only 17 hours. In 26 studies, Relenza reduced flu symptoms from 6.6 days to 6 days but did not prevent pneumonia, ear infections, or sinusitis. •! Herpes antivirals (e.g. acyclovir/Zovirax, famciclovir/Famvir) Side effects of All: headache, nausea, dizziness, fatigue, diarrhea; hard on the kidneys. ! Herpes antivirals are erratic in their curative abilities in my experience. I find applications of Hypericum oil directly on the site and large doses

of the tincture internally successful against shingles in a few days and against cold sores/ genital sores in even less time. • AIDS antivirals include fusion inhibitors, CCR5 antagonists, integrase inhibitors, postattachment inhibitors (e.g. ibslizumab), nucleotide reverse trnscriptase inhibitors (e.g. TDF, AZT, abacavir), non-nucleotide reverse trnscriptase inhibitors(e.g. EFV, NVP), and protease inhibitors (e.g. ATV). Each drug has its own side effects, for instance AZT causes tingling, burning, numbness in feet, headache and digestive problems. " Hypericum contains an active alkaloid that is highly effective against HIV. I know several folks who take it right along with their other AIDs antivirals, without problems. Herbal allies help quell side effects when drugs are needed.

Antiviral Alternatives Generally safe and effective to combine these herbs with drugs. Step1: For more on this topic, Herbal Antivirals by Stephen Buhner. Step 3: ! Sauerkraut has been validated as one of the best ways to prevent and deal with flu viruses. A tablespoon or two of lacto-fermented kraut daily keeps one abundantly well. If infection threatens, double or triple the amount. Step 4: Antiviral herbs, from safest to most dangerous:! • Elder (Sambucus nigra and other species) — in dropperful doses of tincture of fresh or dried berries, taken as needed — is directly virucidal and protects against viral infections too. Effective against flu (including H1N1), HIV, FIV, herpes, and strep, staph, salmonella. If it isn’t already, this lovely plant will become a favorite once you give it a try. It is easy to make enough tincture to take it every day of the winter.


Sambucus nigra

• St. John’s/St. Joan’s wort (Hypericum perforatum) — in dropperful doses of the fresh flowering plant internally and infused oil of the fresh flowers externally — is the antiviral I want when nerves are involved. It is completely reliable against all forms of herpes and shows strong activity against AIDS. I rely on frequent doses to prevent colds and flus when I am traveling or at high risk of infection. Do not take in capsules or as a tea. • Chinese skullcap (Scutellaria baicalinsis) — a dose of 2-4 dropperfuls of root tincture 3 times a day — when used alone or in combination with licorice is an active antiviral and antibacterial agent against flu (including H1N1), pneumonia, SARS, polio, viral encephalitis or meningitis, Lyme, hepatitis, and measles. It is possible that the root of the common American skullcap (S. lateriflora) can be used the same way. • Two anti-viral compounds — oleanolic and ursolic acids — are found in rosemary, tulsi, and

apple peels. This trio would make a lovely tea, but be sure to use organic apple peels. • Poke (Phytolacca americana) — in doses of 1-100 drops of the fresh root tincture — activates the entire immune system to counter viral infections. The fresh root contains a tremendously potent antiviral compound that, in its purified form, can inactivate HIV.


So You Are Having a Freebirth Herbs to Have on Hand – Part II

by Astrid Grove

The Birthing Time I am in strong support of autonomous birth. When listening to freebirth stories, I often see simple problems with simple solutions end up in an unnecessary transport to the hospital. With this segment of the series on freebirth, I strive to share with the birthing person and family simple tools to help support a healthy birth. In this way, I hope that more families can stay home and stay confident and healthy and enjoy the beauty that staying home can bring. I also honor that every birth unfolds in it’s own special way and have no particular judgement about your birth story. Again, I stand in support. I also want to mention that I am focusing on herbs in this series. This is a short article that will cover some true basics. Please don’t take my authority, but instead do your own research and feel in your body what is true for you. In my experience, freebirthing people, birthing women, largely know their bodies and are in deep connection with their babies. There is an

empowerment in this connection that triggers a deep sense of intuition and knowing. It is not a blind trust in birth, but instead an instinctual knowing that women have been birthing babies forever, and that both women and babies have the intrinsic knowing deep in their DNA…we know how to birth, we know how to be born. There are very few obstetric emergencies (namely cord prolapse, ruptured uterus, prolonged fetal distress, advanced infection). Most births are normal and uneventful, while simultaneously amazing and beautiful. Many families are choosing freebirth so as to avoid an unnecessarily medically managed pregnancy and birth. Some families are choosing this way to birth because they feel comfortable and safe without outside support. Some families choose freebirth for religious reasons and others for financial reasons. I encourage all freebirthing families to really be clear about why they are choosing this route, so that they can have the best and most clear birth possible.


Below you will find some common complaints and some ways in which I have personally found helpful in moving through or alleviating the difficulty. Preterm Labor If you are having contractions before 36 weeks, there are a few methods you can use to support slowing everything down. First, drink a few glasses of water or nourishing herbal infusion to hydrate. Often dehydration causes contractions. Sit, put your feet up and rest for 30 minutes. If you are still feeling contractions coming and going, draw a bath with 2 cups of Epsom salts and soak for 20 minutes. The magnesium in Epsom salt is absorbed through your skin and then it binds with the serotonin in your brain, helping you to relax. Often this will be enough to slow everything down. If still things aren’t slowing down, take 4 droppersful of either crampbark tincture (Vibernum opulus) or black haw tincture (Viburnum prunifolium). You can take up to 12 droppersfull per day of these tinctures to calm your uterus. Sometimes a urinary tract infection can cause contractions. If all of the above remedies are not working, you may want to see if you have a UTI. If you have urine dip sticks then you can check for nitrites and leukocytes. They actually make a UTI dipstick now that you can just get at the drugstore. If they are high, then you may want to screen for an infection. You can order your own labs at HealthOneLabs at healthonelabs.com. You would want to order a urine culture. (If you do in fact have a urinary tract infection, I wrote some simple cures in my last article in this column.) If none of this is the case, and you are still experiencing preterm labor symptoms, you may want to rule out a vaginal infection (gonorrhea, Chlamydia, bacterial vaginosis, monilia, etc.). The lab has swabs to detect if there is an infection. I will not get into ways to treat vaginal infections here, that could be a whole article unto itself (and maybe it will be).

Prodromal Labor Sometimes there are lots of contractions in those final weeks of pregnancy, especially if you have already had a baby. These contractions can be exhausting and can keep women up for days and sometimes weeks! Sometimes it’s difficult to tell if it’s the real thing. What makes this prelabor/false labor/ or prodromal labor is that the contractions are not getting longer, stronger and closer together. These contractions are doing some work and helping with some cervical change. It’s basically labor prep! The most important piece of advice I have is to rest as much as possible while also going on with life as normal as much as you can. There are four things you may want to do if you are experiencing disruptive and ongoing prodromal labor.

1.Relax the uterus- My favorite way to do this is with a relaxing bath. Make this your nightly ritual. You can add herbs to your bath that you find soothing. Some examples are lavender (Lavendula species), chamomile (Chamomilla recutita or Chamaemelum nobile)) and catnip (Nepeta cataria). I prefer to brew a strong tea and then add that to my bath as opposed to using essential oils. It’s up to you!

2.Eat something high in tryptophan. You can google charts that show which foods are high in tryptophan, but dates are a good one as well as bananas, oats and milk. This is the wisdom of warm milk for kids before bed.

3.Drink a calming tea. I recommend chamomile and catnip (catnip is bitter and best mixed with chamomile with a spot of honey as well). I also really like rose (Rosa sp.) and Tulsi (Ocimum tenuiflorum) in this scenario, as a tea or as a tincture or glycerite.

4.Motherwort (Leonorus cardiaca) tincture and St. Johnswort (Hypericum perforatum) are both wonderful additions to your warm tea. I would put an entire dropperful of each into the cup of tea, and repeat as needed. Motherwort (Leonorus cardiaca), while toning the uterus, also calms the uterus and St. Johnswort (Hypericum perforatum) helps with pain relief.


Also if you happen to be drinking a lot of red raspberry leaf (Rubus species) tea or infusion, you may want to stop and see if that helps. For some women the alkaloid fragrine found in red raspberry leaf tea can irritate the uterus. Premature Rupture of the Membranes Premature rupture of the membranes happens when the amniotic sac releases before the onset of regular contractions. With my first pregnancy my water broke 104 hours before my daughter was born, breech, at home. The main thing we focus on here is preventing infection. This is what I did and what I recommend to mamas:

1. Nothing in your vagina, no baths. 2. Stay home as much as possible (I only left the house to walk), to keep your uterus away from contaminating bacteria. The safe environment of your uterus is now opened up to the world with the release of the membranes.

3. 250mg of vitamin C every 4 hours as an immune system enhancer.

4. 2 droppersful of Echinacea root (Echinacea purpurea or Echinacea angustifolia) tincture every 2 waking hours as an antibiotic and immune system enhancer

5. Increase fluid intake as your body is continuously making amniotic fluid as needed. Nettles (Urtica dioica) infusion is perfect!

6. Write birth affirmations, like: I trust my body and my baby to birth in perfect timing. My uterus is healthy and strong, and my baby will come when she is ready.

7. Also writing out exactly what you want can be helpful like: We will stay home and birth our baby healthily into our waiting arms. My body and my baby are healthy and well through the duration. We will stay home and rest and heal for 30 days after the birth with the support of our community and family. etc.

8. It is best to wear cotton undies and change your pad often, wipe front to back.

9. You may also opt to do some blood work at some point to be sure you are not brewing an infection. Again you can order your own bloodwork at the website above. Some labs and some hospitals also allow walk ins.

10. At some point you may decide you want to stimulate labor, which I will talk more about below. 11. I also kept a record of my temperature (every 4 hours or so), as a reassurance that I wasn’t having a fever which might alert me to potential infection. Also, sometimes the outer sac of the amniotic sac ruptures, but the inside stays intact. You can encourage the outer sac to heal by drinking Comfrey leaf (Symphytum uplandica) [Editors Note: please be sure to research liver toxic PAs in Comfrey before deciding to ingest intenrally) infusion. Positive affirmations are helpful here as well.


Stalled Labor

3. Go to bed. Turn off the lights, shut the blinds, light some candles, play calming music.

If you find that you have been in labor but you don’t seem to be progressing or changing, it’s time to take a step back. The best first step is to create an environment in which you can rest and reset. I have seen this support women in their birth process countless times. These are some techniques I have found helpful:

1. Take a nice, hot shower. 2. Tincture of California poppy (Eschscholzia californica)- 2 droppersful is likely sufficient to deeply relax you. Try 2, if you aren’t feeling it in 15 minutes take 2 more droppersful. This may be all you need. If not you can keep dosing. Stop dosing at 10 droppersful.

4. Do the Texas Twist, alternating sides in case the baby is in a funky position: a.Lie on one side, with your bottom leg as straight as possible b.Bend your top leg, raising your knee as high as you can toward your chest. c.You can prop your leg up with pillows or a peanut ball if you have one. d.Roll over as far as you can, toward your bottom leg, and try to get as close as you can to a stomach lying position. Stay in this position as long as you can 10-20 minutes. This will help to open up your pelvis so baby can change position of she wants to. e.Alternate sides.


If you have a relationship with Marijuana, (Cannabis sativa) this would be a great time to enjoy some. I prefer tincture in labor, but it is important that you are familiar with how your body responds to this medicine and in which form. Cannabis has the amazing ability to start and strengthen uterine contractions while relaxing muscles and the mind. Truly a perfect labor herb, if used wisely and with great care. Maternal Exhaustion Some women have long labors. Even if we have implemented the techniques above for “stalled labor”, she may still become exhausted. If you are experiencing a long labor, and you have already tried to relax and nourish and hydrate, etc. it may be time to stimulate. You can start with some Ginger (Zingiber officinale), which is warming and stimulating. A tea is great, with some honey for the sugar energy. Also Ginger candy is a good easy way to take in ginger in labor. I also have seen great success with Ginseng (Panax quinquefolius and Panax schinseng). You can by those little bottles in Asian markets or online. Acupressure massage can also be helpful. Learn more at: https://acupuncture.rhizome.net.nz/. She has a great handbook with lots of great points. Labor Induction You may decide it is time to induce. Some reasons you may decide to induce are, If your membranes released many days ago, or if you are exhausted and you have tried resting and stimulating in other ways. If this is how you are feeling, it may be time to use some stronger herbs to get things going. There are many herbal combinations to try when stimulating a labor. A nice and simple first herb to try is r=Red Raspberry leaf (Rubus idaeus) infusion, warm with honey. Drinking half a quart of infusion in half an hour may result in a stimulation of the uterus. I also quite like the

flower essence of Birthroot (Trillium sp.). Since Birthroot is an “at risk “plant it is best not to harvest this plant’s root to make medicine .The root is a very potent uterine stimulant. I find that the flower essence used with other labor stimulants can prove quite affective. To learn more about what plants are at risk , go to www.unitedplantsavers.org. If you want to try something stronger, this is my preferred method, tried and true many times including my first birth. Cottonroot bark (Gossypium hirsutum) and Black Cohosh (Actaea racemosa).

1. Take 10 drops of black cohosh tincture every 15 minutes.

2. Take 6 droppersful of cotton root bark every 30 minutes.

3. Do this for 6 hours. 4. Add in hot showers, nipple stimulation, and walks. Some women enjoy adding in sex and orgasms as well. So you could start the herbs and for the first hour, take a hot shower and then have some orgasms. Take a rest. Then for the next hour go for a nice walk. Take a rest. Then for the next hour do some nipple stimulation. Do what works for you. a.Some women prefer to use a breast pump for nipple stimulation. If you choose this route, here is my recommendation: Stimulate one breast with the pump for 15 minutes, and then switch to the other breast for 15 minutes. You can continue doing this for an hour. This technique encourages your body to release oxytocin which help contractions start. I hope you have found this helpful for your freebirth or for someone you know who will be birthing unassisted. The next column will focus on the postpartum time, beginning with the immediate postpartum. Until next time, blessed birthing!


Spreading the Medicine Running Your Own Medicinal Plant Nursery

by Jade Alicandro Mace

Medicinal plant nurseries have an important role to play in the herbal resurgence sweeping our country today. Not everyone has the time or skill to wildcraft and if every herbalist wildcrafted all their medicine we’d probably have ecological problem on our hands. Medicinal plant nurseries can fill this gap. In addition to the ecological benefits, growing your

own medicine is so satisfying on so many levelsit builds intimacy and a personal connection with the plants, teaches plant ecology, and provides such amazing plant material compared to most purchased bulk herbs. There is absolutely a demand for live medicinal starts within the herbal community and beyond, as many of these plants are also good pollinator


plants and multi-use permaculture plants. I ran my medicinal plant nursery from my home from 2013-2017. During those 5 years I grew the nursery from a small operation to an integral part of my business, and then slowly shrunk it back again as I realized I wanted to focus my efforts on other parts of business that were blossoming. My process and journey won’t be the same as anyone else’s but below I share some insight and information on my journey owning and running an herbal nursery. Infrastructure Think about what kind of infrastructure you will need for starting seeds first. A hoophouse and/ or heated greenhouse are both helpful but not necessary. I started my seeds in my basement. I sectioned-off an area with heavy plastic, hung grow lights, and used a space heater. Very lo-fi (but that’s my style) and it totally worked. Yes, our electric bill was higher that month for sure but you have to pay for fuel to heat a greenhouse too. Another option is renting space in a greenhouse at a local farm. There is also a grower in my area who will start flats of seeds for you, so that may be an option as well, albeit I do live in an agriculturally-rich area. For plants that really liked to be extra warm I used a heatmat under the seed trays, which allowed for a diversity of growing conditions in my little setup. For seeds that don’t mind the cold and need stratification, I sowed outdoor flats in the fall or early spring. I highly recommend building some greenhouse benches. These are tables made with weather-resistant or pressure-treated wood that have a heavy-duty screen table-top. They can be made to whatever size suits you or you space. I had 4 of these and that was plenty. We made a potting-up and dividing area with 2 of the tables along a shady side of my house (shade is important). Whether we were transplanting and dividing seedlings, or potting-up and dividing perennials from the gardens, this area was definitely the home base. It’s where we kept pots (the bulk of these were stored in our barn- a shed/barn/garage/ will be helpful for storing excess pots and supplies), potting soil, labels, and so on. When the seedlings are ready to go outside they can also live on these tables until

they are planted, moved-up into 6-packs, or sold. We had an old piece of plywood that we would put on the tables when we were potting plants up so we wouldn’t lose soil, but you could make one specific table with a solid top for this purpose as well, but this kept the table dualpurpose. Once seedlings are potted-up, a hoophouse is a helpful place to keep these fragile seedlings because you can protect them from wind and intense rains- basically you can control the environment better. Plus they will grow faster in there as it will get warmer in there during the day than outside (but just as cold as outside at night). But again a hoophouse isn’t necessary. Fragile seedlings can also be taken outside on nice days and brought inside if it’s going to be a bad day, but this is a lot of work. We built a hoophouse Year 3 of the nursery and did find it was helpful as the nursery grew. Another infrastructure to consider is a place to store extra potting soil, pots, packaging material (if you’re doing mail order), soil amendments, and so on- we used our front barn but a garage, shed, or even porch would all work. Land I grew almost all the plants for my nursery on about an acre of land that is a mix of garden beds, wet meadow, mixed deciduous-pine forest and red maple swamp. I adopted a “medicinal forest garden” strategy of growing plants and planted things where they’d naturally want to be based on their growth preferences. For instance my Meadowsweet is in the wet meadow as is my elderberry patch. The nettles are in a particularly wild corner where they can go as crazy as they want, and the woodland medicinals are planted in shade garden “beds” under deciduous trees. When folks came to the land they often wondered where all the plants were, but it was because I wasn’t growing them all in rows and well-weeded beds- you had to look in the woods and forest edges to find them all! This was partly because of space considerations because my cultivated space is only about ¼ acre- it’s super small- but also because it’s honestly way less work this way. The plants that weren’t in the garden were basically growing themselves. I’d make sure they didn’t have too much


competition now and then, but they pretty much got to be wild, which most of them love. One important point to share here is that the nursery wasn’t separate from my own personal gardens. This was super, super hard as the years went on because it started to feel like I had turned a relaxing pastime (gardening) into an aspect of my business. I was very reluctant to rent landalthough of course this is absolutely an optionmostly because it allowed me to work from home, which, having 2 young kids, was a huge plus. However, I think if I had to do it all over again I would definitely rent land for the nursery or if I had enough space at my home, make the nursery beds separate from my personal gardens. If you’re renting land, my advice is to start with less than you think you need, with the option of increasing the space as you grow, as it doesn’t take much to get easily overwhelmed with land to tend. Your Business Model How will you selling your plants? Will you be starting/growing them all yourself? Will you be

selling 6-packs of seedlings? Will you be selling seedlings in a 4-inch pot, singly? Will you be offering 1-2 year old plants that have been grown-out for a few years and then potted-up to sell? Will you be dividing perennials from the ground and selling these divisions? Will you be purchasing plants from wholesale nurseries and potting them-up for sale? These are all different models you could adopt. I did a combination of all of these, depending on the plant, and each has its pros and cons. Selling Seedlings I sold some annuals in 6-packs for $6/6-packTulsi, Ashwagandha, Calendula, and Chamomile. I also sold some annuals singly in 4inch pots- Tobacco (Hopi and Smoking), White Sage, Sweet Annie, and a few others. I found that moving seedlings up into 6-packs from their original seed trays was very time-consuming, which is a con to selling 6-packs and I think if I did it again I would sell the annuals singly in a 4-inch pot, which is also a better price margin per plant. One model is selling just seedlings in


4-inch pots- annuals, perennials, and biennialswhich I have seen some nurseries do. This model requires only a large greenhouse, and actually no land at all, and the seeds would need to be started quite early in late winter to be large enough for spring sales. Cons are needing to heat the greenhouse for many months, potential disease in the greenhouse, and a lower retail price/plant because they’d be little. Buying Plants Wholesale I purchased some annuals and perennials (mostly culinary herbs) wholesale from a local wholesale greenhouse (google “wholesale greenhouse” for your area) and moved them up into larger pots to sell. The pros here are obvious, as it’s much less work on your end. It also allowed me to avoid investing in building a heated greenhouse. I mostly bought tender annuals that I couldn’t start outdoors, or I didn’t have room to start in my little seed-starting setup, like Basil, Lemongrass, and Lemon Verbena, for example. Cons- this can be expensive and cut-down a lot on profits. It can also be hard to

find an organic or chemical-free greenhouse if you’re wanting to advertise your plants as such. If I’d had a heated greenhouse I could have grown these myself, but my seed-starting/ heated area wasn’t big enough to support this. I also purchased some plants from mail order wholesale nurseries. Sometimes I potted these up for sale the same year I purchased them, like Elderberry, Rosa rugosa, and Hops, and sometimes I planted them-out to start new patches of plants to be propagated from in future years. The benefit here is you can order 2-3 year old plants and sell them that year without having to wait the many years a plant can take to grow from seed to shrub, or mature plant. The more you buy, the cheaper each plant will be, and you can often mark them-up retail way above the wholesale price. Cons are it can be very expensive up-front to buy the plant stock. Also the plants tend to come “bare-root” meaning you have to get them in soil asap or you run the risk of losing them, so there’s some pressure there with timing. They can be very time-consuming to pot them up. And again it


can be hard to find organic and/or chemical-free wholesale nurseries, and there’s also the fossilfuel consideration and if you are marketing them “locally-grown.” Field Grown I also did loads of propagation from plants in my existing garden and sold them as “field-grown” perennials. And I also dug-up first-year biennials that had been seeded from mama plants, like Mullein and Angelica. This is a great model because you have hardly any upfront cost for the plant material, the plants essentially grow themselves, disease isn’t really an issue, and it provides you with super hardy, 2-3 years-old, robust stock. And the older and larger the plants the more it can retail for. A few cons to this model- You have to have mature plants to propagate from. This also requires knowledge of each plant’s growth habit and there’s a lot of timing involved, which can be stressful with the unpredictable weather of the spring, which is the best time to divide and pot them perennials. I also found this method was sometimes stressful because I was digging-up and dividing beloved plants from my own personal gardens. I was also limited in the number of plants I had available to sell each year (depending on the plant) because I had to be sure I didn’t deplete my stock too much, since I needed to propagate from it the following year. On this same line, I also had to be sure to start new patches of certain plants that I found I really didn’t have enough of in my current stock, so that was another moving

part to keep track of. Lots of these cons would have been eliminated if I’d had the nursery stock in a different location than my own gardens, and also had planned ahead a few years before opening to make sure I had enough plant material to never sell-out of plants. Organic vs Chemical-Free vs Locally Grown You have to decide how you’re going to market yourself. I advertised my plants as “field-grown perennials,” “locally-grown,” and “chemicalfree.” I was not certified organic and this wasn’t a problem for me in terms of having customers. The vast majority of my plants were chemicalfree- certainly all the plants I grew myself, and I always used organic seeds and potting soil. However, I later learned the local wholesale greenhouse where I got about 10-15% of my plants was not chemical-free, although I had thought they were. Would this have changed how I marketed my plants? Or caused me to find a different source for those plants? Probably. I probably would have stopped purchasing plants there and found an organic/chemical-free source, as I really wanted to be in my integrity here and provide folks with chemical-free medicinals. I did purchase some plants via mail order but still called them locally-grown. I decided that the vast enough majority of my plants were locally-grown that I could use this term in good conscience, as they were about 85-90% locally-grown, depending on the year. I also purchased from wholesale nurseries in my northeast bioregion.


When & How Are You Going to Sell Your Plants?

and then re-plant them if they don’t sell, but that’s a lot of wasted time and resources.

Will you be selling plants during the whole growing season? Or just during certain times? Will you be doing mail order? Or mail order only? Will you be selling from your home? At a farmer’s market? Will you be pre-order only? Will you have plant sales? Will you have a farm stand or similar set-up? These are all questions to ponder! Here’s how I did it:

Pros of this model were being able to be home and not need childcare, opportunities to give plant walks/mini cultivation classes during pick-up and plant sale days, no overhead for farmer’s market space, and not having to transport plants. Another pro was that the nursery had a distinct season (March-June) and when it was over, it was over, for the most part. Also, because folks paid when they placed their order, and I did most of my advertising and sales in the winter, it provided me with some up-front funds to purchase supplies like soil, pots, etc. This model also allowed for no wasted labor or plant material, as every plant that was potted-up was accounted for. A con was being stressed about my yard/space being in good enough shape to have the public roaming around, although I assured myself that farms are always a bit messy, but it still stressed me out! Another con was having a “pop-up” part of my business that occurred every spring that was hard to make extra time for just a few months a year. If it was a more integrated part of my business maybe that wouldn’t have felt so stressful to find the time (more on that later). While it’s possible

Pre-Orders & Nursery “Season” I sold plants from my home during the month of May and early June. Folks pre-ordered plants via my online store on my website (I used squarespace) and I set designated 4 plant order pick-up days on weekends in May and early June that folks had to choose from to pick-up their plants. Plant orders were due April 15th. The reason for the sales deadline had to do with my field-grown model, because once the plants reach a certain size they often can’t be potted-up without compromising them, especially lots of the woodland medicinals . This is another con to propagating from the field. You could always dig-up more than you currently have orders for


to sell plants spring through fall, my experience is that it’s very difficult (but not impossible) to keep plants happy in a pot that long is very challenging and folks are much more excited to buy and plant in the spring than any other season. Plant Sales A few years into the nursery, I decided to try having some plant sales, in addition to the preorders model. There were plenty of pros to the plant sales. They increased my sales and income from the nursery substantially. I held the sales on the same 4 days as my plant order pick-up days, so often folks bought more plants when they picked-up their orders, and it also consolidated the days I had to work. I bought some extra plants wholesale to bulk-up my offerings and also made a best guess as to how many of certain plants might sell and potted them up in the early spring for the sales. It was a bit of a guessing-game, but if I sold-out of a certain plant and someone wanted one, or if

they wanted something we hadn’t potted-up, I would sometimes dig them one if I could. We provided printed-out price lists, and I had a mailing list sign-up sheet and business cards out too, so it also increased my contact list and exposure for my business. There are always going to be a certain percentage of people that won’t do pre-order and would rather come see the plants, and offering the plant sales was a great way to reach that demographic. The cons- There were some plants that didn’t sell, so that was wasted labor and materials (pot, soil), although they were either re-planted or given away to my interns. It was a lot logistically to deal with potting-up plants for both pre-orders and the plant sales- it practically doubled the amount of work. We also had to deal with separating-out the plants for the preorders and the sales, and being sure we had the correct amount for the orders which took lots of time and organization. Despite the increased amount of work that went with the plant sales, overall I would definitely recommend them.


Farmer’s Market, Conferences/Events, Farm Stand, etc I chose not to sell at a farmer’s market because it felt overwhelming with the work involved with the nursery in general, and also because I didn’t have an existing farmer’s market set-up, since I don’t sell products. If I had already been attending a farmer’s markets as a part of my existing business I could see how bringing live plants would have been a boon for my sales. The same goes for bringing live plant starts to herbal conferences- people love it and buy themup! I chose not to bring my plants to events and conferences mostly because transporting plants is hard, I didn’t have the infrastructure, and also just logistically again it felt like too much with the other parts of my business. But again if I’d had an existing set-up and had a smooth flow with this, I think it would have been a great way to sell more plants. I decided not to sell my plants at a farm stand. There were a few reasons for this- I didn’t already have a structure for that so that would have meant more infrastructure-

building, which is often expensive and timeconsuming. I also was pretty sure I didn’t want the public showing-up at my home whenever they felt like it, and experience told me that if I was outside and they saw me that it would turn into unpaid time and advice-giving, which I didn’t have time for. I also preferred to keep my plants in as few different physical locations as possible, in order to consolidate watering logistics, and another area to water would have meant more time and work. I think it’s also beneficial to create a demand and have distinct times the plants are available through sales and a pre-order deadline, rather than being available all the time. Does Your Nursery Have a Specialty? I sold almost 100 different medicinals at my nursery, so I didn’t have a specialty. Looking back, it’s rather astonishing! I separated my offerings into 6 categories in my online storeperennials, biennials, annuals, woody shrubs and vines, woodland medicinals, and one called


“other fun offering,” which weren’t necessarily medicinals but plants I thought might sell that I had an abundance of like Walking Onions and Strawberries. This made the most sense organizationally to me but you’ll want to do what makes the most sense to you. I found that folks were very willing to buy super common medicinal weeds like Red Clover, Violet, Mugwort, Nettles, and so on, which surprised me. It was awesome to offer such a diverse array of plants- you can still see plant descriptions on my website- but I think having a specialty can be a way to consolidate a business and simplify it. If I had stayed in business I would have consolidated into a woodland medicinal nursery- selling things like Goldenseal, Black Cohosh, Wild Leek, Blue Cohosh, American Ginseng, Solomon’s Seal, etc. This speaks to what best grows naturally in my bioregion- the northeast woodlands. If you live in the Midwest you could focus on prairie plants and medicinals, desert medicinals in the southwest, Kava and tropical medicinals in Hawaii, and so on. It’s not necessary, but I think can potentially make for a more sustainable business model long-term. Another way to do it is to start by selling a diverse array of offerings and see what sells the most and consolidate from there, basically doing your own marketing research. This is why I think my nursery would have naturally moved into woodland medicinalsfolks wanted them, especially the ones on the UPS “at-risk” and “to-watch” lists, plus it felt right to be offering these for cultivation. Woodland medicinals can also be sold for pretty high prices and folks will buy them. Which leads us to pricing…. Pricing My advice here is to sell them for more than you think you should. If you think the plant’s worth $5, then you should sell it for at least $8! I increased my prices each year and this didn’t deter folks at all from buying them. My prices are all up on my website still as examples, and when I look at them now I think many of them could have been increased even more- http:// www.milkandhoneyherbs.com/nursery/. You have to take into account the cost of soil, pots,

seeds, plant material, and your time- all of these are expensive. Specialty plants can be sold for even more and after a few years you will see which plants sell best and I suggest increasing the prices on those. A wake-up call if you feel uncomfortable pricing your plants high is to go to any local nursery/garden and see what they’re selling their plants for- they’re expensive. If your Bee Balm is selling for less than the one at your local nursery then you should increase it if you want to make enough money to stay in business. Also search other medicinal and native plant nurseries online and see what they’re selling their plants for as marketing research. Be sure to notice what they’re selling, i.e. seedlings vs 2-3 year old plants, etc. Most of us herbalists come from a place of wanting to resist the mainstream, and being so capitalist about our businesses is hard- believe me, I know! But we have to balance our own livelihoods and health with this, and also remember we are offering something of great value and that having financial security and resisting the capitalist machine are not mutually exclusive! Business Growth & Emotional Health My advice is to start small and grow organically. This way you can respond to your community and grow your business intelligently. I didn’t have to take-out a loan or go into debt to get started. For example, if everyone starts asking for a certain plant you don’t have, them start offering it. Or if you always sell-out of Tulsi, grow twice as much the following year. Each year I added a new layer to my nursery- Year 1 I began by just doing pre-orders and mail-order, Year 2 I added wholesale orders to our local coop, and Year 3 added the plant sales. By Year 3 the nursery was a vibrant and extremely financially successful endeavor, but I was an emotional wreck and super stressed-out by the nursery. I never operated at a loss, even Year 1, by being sure my overhead was low in the ways I described so far, especially by propagating from my existing stock and selling seedling I grew myself. But Year 3 was also quite exhausting and stressful and I basically burned myself out and began reducing the nursery operations the following year (I talk about why it


was stressful under “Time Considerations” below). Even though I did grow little by little, I still failed to carve enough time out of schedule to be able to fulfil my nursery work obligations without stress, particularly in Year 3. I also saw the education part of business take-off that year, which I loved and caused me no mental stress, rather it nourished me. You must take spiritual and emotional well-being into consideration too! Year 4 I reduced to no retail plant sales, preorders, or mail-order (other than a large one to a permaculture garden at a local college) and kept selling plant wholesale to the local coop, kept it the same Year 5, and let it go completely the year after that. I ran my Medicinal Plant Cultivation Internship Year 1-3 (more on that below). Selling Wholesale, Consignment, or not Beginning my second year I sold plants wholesale to our local co-op. This represented 25% of my sales, which was significant. I’m lucky to live in an area where folks are totally waking-up to plant medicine and are excited about it- I mean, the co-op bought Nettles from me and they always sold-out! They bought cool plants like Goldeseal, too. To a certain extent success selling wholesale can depend on the buyer at your coop. If they’re into herbalism and are excited about it they are likely to be open to buying your plants, and the locally-grown aspect helps a lot too. Sometimes you have to provide support and education to a buyer and suggest what might sell best if they don’t have a knowledge of medicinal herbs. I also happened to know the buyer at the coop where I sold, which of course helped in my case. This is where community comes into play in terms of supporting a local business. I’ve lived in my area for about 20 years, on and off, so I have many connections, which has helped my business innumerably. The pros are more exposure for your business, the ability to reach a larger demographic and number of potential customers. Also, since they put in an order, every plant you pot-up for them is a guaranteed sell. The only downside is that you can’t sell for retail prices, but having a minimum order can help off-set this loss. I also only marked my plants down 30% from retail instead of a more typical

50%, but would have been open to offering a larger discount if the store had requested this- an example of taking feedback and responding to customers’ needs which is always good for business. Another potential niche for selling plants wholesale is to local ecologically-minded landscape and gardening companies. I didn’t do this but would have if I’d kept the nursery going. Where I live there’s a big permaculture community and many permaculture-inspired landscape/garden design businesses. Reach-out to these folks and let them know what you’re doing. Send them a wholesale price list and let them know you offer a bunch of medicinal and pollinator and endemic plants that are locallygrown. There’s totally a demand for this. They’re likely want to buy the plants wholesale so they can mark them-up retail to their gardening clients. I did experiment a bit having plants for sale on consignment at a different small coop, and I do not recommend it. The plants were very poorly taken care of and I was horrified to see what terrible shape they were in when I visited the store. The problem here is that if they’re on consignment then the store doesn’t have as much of an incentive for taking good care of the plants, since they haven’t lost any money if they don’t sell. Side Business or Not. Time Considerations. Decide how you want to structure your business. Are you going to solely be a medicinal plant nursery? Or is this a part of your business which also offers education, products, consults, landscaping/garden design/garden support, etc? I ran my nursery as a seasonal part of my business, which also includes consultations, a low-cost clinic, classes, and gardening support. I think this was one of the downfalls of the nursery, as it was kind of a “pop-up” part of my business that arose once a year for 3 months that it was really difficult to suddenly carve-out extra time for because I still had the other parts of my


business to run. If there was a way perhaps I could have taken a break from consulting or classes during this time maybe that would have helped, but I think the income lost from those parts of my business would have cancelled-out the income from the nursery. I don’t have a clear answer here, but this was my process with it. I should also mention that when I started the nursery I was already operating my business with the bare minimum of time I needed to run it, as in I really was just barely getting by with the time I already had. I had 2 young children not yet school-aged when I started it, so lack of childcare was a problem. A way to make it more sustainable would have been getting a day or 2 of extra childcare/week during nursery season but I chose not to do this because of the costchildcare is super expensive. However, looking back I would have been more realistic that I really needed that extra time and looked at it as an investment in my business, because the nursery became so stressful because of this lack of time that I eventually let it go. Investing in the extra childcare might have made the difference that would have allowed me to continue doing the nursery. If you’re going to run your nursery as the sole offering of your business, I recommend selling from spring-fall, attending farmer’s markets and herb conferences/events, doing plant sales as well as pre-orders, selling wholesale at local

stores and design/gardening firms, and doing mail order as well, otherwise it will be difficult to make enough money from just a nursery to support yourself. Diversifying Your Business As herbalists we tend to be the most successful if our businesses are diversified, since we’re such a fringe niche in this country (although that’s definitely shifting!). Most herbalists have at least a few different aspects of their businessesconsults & bodywork, products & consults, classes & products, consults & classes are all common pairings. A nursery and/or selling live plants fits well into any model that already includes attending markets, etc since it’s easy to pot-up some plants and bring them alongpeople will buy them, especially in the spring. Offering live plants can be simple and you don’t have to launch an entire nursery if you already have a platform like this is place. Another pairing that goes well with a nursery is garden design, since you can sell your plants to your clients. Folks definitely want help designing herb gardens and, especially, if you have a permaculture spin and your market it correctly this could be a lucrative pairing. Let’s start planting “medicinal forest gardens” as well as Edible Forest Gardens! Be sure you charge enough for design and garden time. And charge retail prices for your plants. In my area $20-25/


hr is pretty standard for garden support like weeding and maintenance, and $50/hr for design time (drafting plans, researching plants, etc) is standard. Ask around in your area when thinking about what to charge for your services to be sure you’re not selling yourself short. Mail Order Mail order can be a profitable part of your business, but very tricky logistically because it’s about timing, since it’s expensive and difficult to ship large plants. I recommend shipping them bare-root while they’re dormant (what most wholesale mail order nurseries do), which would mean pre-orders only for shipping, or shipping them when they’re very young in long, narrow pots or 4-inch pots. Soil is heavy to ship, so the smaller the pot the better. I offered mail order plants and it definitely increased my sales substantially. I charged folks for the shipping after I mailed them, since each package was a different weight, and charged a $5 fee for handling (i.e. the time packing-up the plants and going to the post office). This was timeconsuming with admin work because I’d have to make new paypal invoices for each person for the shipping. I mailed them Priority Mail from the post office. Packing-up plants can be timeconsuming as well, and I recommend asking your community to save packing materials, like plastic bubble wrap, etc for shipping plants instead of buying this stuff because it’s super expensive and there’s already way too much of it in the environment. Don’t use compostable peanuts because they can melt onto your plants if there’s any moisture. If I had been more organized or had more time I could have set-up my shop so that it added a certain amount per/ plant for shipping. This would have meant packing my plants in a standard-sized pot (which I didn’t) and weighing it with soil in it (remember the wetter the soil the more it will weigh) and calculating shipping into the original invoice that way. Labor vs Interns Will you have any employees? What about interns? Or worktrade?

When you first get started you might not be able to afford an employee, but still need the extra help, which was my case. My solution to this problem was creating a Medicinal Plant Cultivation Internship. I advertised it on my social media, local listserves, my website, and mailing list, and had no problem filling the spots because folks really wanted to learn medicinal plant cultivation. I required a resume and cover letter to apply and asked folks to commit to the entire 3 months, and required no prior knowledge to apply. I took-on 3 interns. Any more than this would have been more people than I could have managed. The internship met 1 day/week April-June, the busiest months of my nursery, and interns were required to attend 2 out of the 4 plant sales/order pick-up days. This was a total work exchange model, which I was very clear about in my wording of the internship, meaning I did not charge money for it and the interns didn’t pay me anything. The reason I structured it this way is because it was totally experiential and I had no time set aside for pure instruction, the interns learned as we went and were essentially employees with tons of benefits, which I didn’t feel ethically I could charge money for. So it wasn’t explicitly a class on medicinal plant cultivation, although the interns learned loads through the everyday activities of running the nursery- propagation, seeding, soil health, plant ID and growth requirements for different medicinals, business practices, and got tons of free plants. It also had a very free-form flow and interns were welcome to (and did) ask questions about medicinal properties and cultivation, and we’d talk about all sorts of different relevant topics while we potted-up plants or did other menial tasks like labelling, packing-up plants for shipping, etc. In this organic way the interns got a great education in medicinal plant cultivation. In the 3 years I ran the internship, interns always provided positive feedback about their experiences and felt the work exchange model was fair in terms of what they learned for the time they gave. I greatly valued this feedback and was committed to changing the model of folks were feeling exploited but I never found


that to be the case. I was sure to advertise the internship in a way that made it clear it wasn’t a class, but rather an opportunity for experiential learning. I simply could not have run the nursery without my interns and am still so grateful for their help. They provided the extra hands I needed seeding, propagating, and potting-up plants. They provided the company, motivation, and moral support I needed (I don’t like working alone) and consistency I needed to successfully run the business. They were also invaluable to the plant sales (I had 2 interns at each sale) helping take payments, fill pre-orders, and answer questions while I helped customers with more in-depth questions on medicinal actions and cultivation of plants we sold. I think it would be possible to charge for an internship like this if there was specific time set aside for pure instruction and I have found there is a *huge* interest in learning how to grow medicinal herbs. I might have grown the internship into something more along this model had I continued with the nursery. I would have eventually taken-on employees if I reached a point where I could pay them a living wage. Education Will you offer an educational materials to your customers? Or offer any classes on medicinal plant cultivation? This can be a wonderful addition to your offerings and increase sales. I recommend having descriptions on your online shop for each plant that includes information on growth requirements and medicinal actions. It was a *very* time-consuming process to writeup these descriptions for my nursery but I took the time to do it and I have heard from folks again and again that they are super helpful and that they still use my website as a resource for growing medicinal herbs, which is why the plant descriptions are still up even though the nursery is closed! I also offered free classes during my plant pick-up/plant sale days- 1) Plant Walk around the farm, 2) Vegetative Propagation of Field-Grown Perennials and 3) Propagating Woodland Medicinals. These classes were a great success and drew many folks to the plant sales who bought plants who might not have attended the sales otherwise. They were free as an added

incentive to attend and also just as a community offering. However you choose to do it, adding an educational element to your nursery will increase your success. Conclusion My hope is that sharing my medicinal plant nursery journey -what worked for me and what didn’t- has illuminated the process for you and given you some ideas for structuring your own business. My vision is a beautiful web of nurseries all over the country providing the growing herbal resurgence with sustainablygrown plants, taking the pressure off fragile ecosystems and threatened plant populations, and bringing the focus onto North Americangrown and, especially, homegrown herbs. Some Favorite Books How to Move Like a Gardener: Planting and Preparing Medicine from Plants By Deb Soule Growing At-Risk Medicinal Herbs, Cultivation, Conservation and Ecology By Richo Cech The Medicinal Herb Grower Vol 1 By Richo Cech The Organic Medicinal Herb Farmer: The Ultimate Guide to Producing High-Quality Herbs on a Market Scale By Melanie and Jeff Carpenter Growing and Marketing Ginseng, Goldenseal and other Woodland Medicinals By Jeanine M Davis The Chinese Medicinal Herb Farm: A Cultivator's Guide to Small-scale Organic Herb Production By Peg Shafer


We Three Greens Chickweed, Yellow Dock, & Lambsquarters

by Jenny Solidago Mansell Jenny is a community herbalist in the true sense of the word, and proprietor of Prairie Herbcraft. She teaches at Plant Healer’s annual Good Medicine Confluence, and the following essay is focuses on the topic of one her recent Confluence classes... enjoy! There are many plants which dance the border between edible and medicinal. These are plants which can be used as highly nutritious food but are also traditionally used medicinally in a variety of ways. Chickweed, Lambsquarters, and Yellow Dock are some of my favorites. These three are arguably the most delicious wild edible greens. They may be found growing wild in every state in the United States. If you don’t already have them in your yard, they’re very easy to grow. In addition to all this, they are each a valuable medicinal herb. Without further ado, may I present to you three most regal greens! Chickweed (Stellaria media) Carnation Family (Caryophyllaceae) Chickweed teaches us humility. If we don’t get on our knees, we never have a chance to meet it

and enjoy its healing and beauty. It is the angel of the quiet corners and its star-like flowers form miniature constellations among the grass. It is gentle and assuming but quite capable. A wonderful plant for the urban forager, Chickweed grows in moist, shady spots: against foundations, under trees and beneath shrubs. It doesn't seem to be damaged by reasonable trimming and only grows back more enthusiastically than ever. It is a wonderful green for eating, both because of its high nutritional value and pleasant taste. I think of the flavor as similar to the freshest, mildest lettuce available, only juicier and more delicate. I use it as a lettuce substitute where I only need a small amount of greenery. I don't use it as a salad base alone because its small size makes it difficult to gather huge quantities at once but I use it in sandwiches and wraps and as a tasty addition to salads.


My children love to dip it in ranch dressing and savor the crunchy little tidbits all by themselves. I also make a mineral-rich vinegar from the fresh plant and use it on salads and in soups. I usually eat it raw but it can be eaten cooked. Because it is small and has a high moisture content, it will practically disappear when cooked. Chickweed is also very valuable to the herbalist. I use the fresh leaves, crushed and moistened, for a variety of skin issues. I have found it to be especially helpful for inflamed, irritated skin and for gently drawing out impurities. I also often include it in herbal facial cream or lotion bars because it is very moisturizing as well as healing. It is considered a kidney tonic and a gentle diuretic and my experience bears this out. Susun Weed writes about using Chickweed for dissolving cysts, especially ovarian cysts. (1) It is also considered by many herbalists to helpful for supporting weight loss efforts. The plant loses some of its beneficial qualities when dried so it is frequently used fresh or made into a tincture or vinegar. Although it is a very gentle plant, because of the saponins present in it, it is a mild laxative. It is unlikely a person would eat massive quantities of such a dainty plant but in that situation there is the possibility of being a little too...ahem..."regular." Chickweed has very similar growing requirements to cleavers and is often found growing in the same spaces. It likes light, humus-rich soil and has a particular affinity for growing under juniper trees. If you want to seed it, try planting it on the north side of trees or fences where there is plenty of moisture.

Lambsquarters (Chenopodium album) Goosefoot Family (Chenopodaceae) Lambsquarters is a highly nutritious plant. It is rich in vitamins, particularly A and C, and minerals. (2) It is antimicrobial and anti-fungal, as well as having hepatoprotective qualities. (3, 4) Lambsquarters leaf tea or a few fresh or frozen leaves to eat is one of my mom’s favorite remedies. She uses it to great effect when dealing with toothaches, colds, and even fever blisters. I value its medicinal properties but use it even more frequently as a food. Of course the best foods are ones which support health from several angles as Lambsquarters does. The leaves are similar to spinach and may be used in place of spinach in recipes. The leaves can also be dried and then ground or crumbled and added to soups, savory baked goods, etc. for the nutritional boost. My wildcrafting mentor, Jackie Dill, called this “green flour.” When cooking Lambsquarters as greens, be sure to only use the leaves and a small amount of stem from very young plants. My mom once taught a friend about Lambsquarters and forgot to mention this. Her friend made up a big batch of the greens with the stems attached. She asked her young son how he liked it and he replied, “It’s really good, Mom, but next time leave the sticks out.”


Lambsquarters kept some of my paternal grandfather’s family alive during the great depression. Some of his family had very little to eat other than the Lambsquarters greens they gathered. They were able to supplement it with

other food but it provided desperately needed nutrition. I don’t of course recommend a heavy dependence on any one plant but it is good to know there is a ubiquitous weed which can provide important nutrition.


As soon as the plant begins to put up a stalk and leafs out well you can start snipping off a portion of the leaves for food. Be sure to leave enough leaves for the plant to continue staying healthy. It’s fine to gather from the plant regularly as it will branch out and produce more leaves the more you snip from it. I get lots of greens for our family’s use throughout the spring, summer, and fall from only three or four Lambsquarters plants. Allow the central stalk to grow without cutting it if you want seeds from the plant. In the fall they will ripen and the seeds husks will turn purplish. Simply strip them with your hand off into a box or bag. They don’t need to be winnowed. Leave them out in the box or bag to dry for a week or two and then store in jars. They may be added to porridge, ground and used in baking, or added whole in baked goods.

suggesting the seeds may have been used as food in Europe at least as far back as Viking times. (5) At an archaeological site in Ohio, remains of various plants were recovered from earth ovens and roasting pits. In addition to squash and nuts such as acorns and hickory, remains of Lambsquarters were also found. The site dates from around 4,000 to 700 B.C. which indicates Lambsquarters was also an ancient food source for Indigenous people of what is now North America. (6, 7) Traces of Lambsquarters have been found at other archeological sites in North America as well. (8)

Lambsquarters leaves do contain some oxalic acid, although it is somewhat diminished by cooking, so those with gout and kidney problems should exercise caution. Lambsquarters may be grown by tossing a few handfuls of seed around your yard or garden. In fact, if you offer rich garden soil, it will likely graciously turn up all on its own. It likes moderate moisture and full sun to partial shade. It is very insect-resistant. I once did a wildcrafting walk on a friend’s land. She apologized for the sad state of her spinach patch. It was still spring but the spinach was riddled with holes where bugs had munched, it drooped for lack of enough water, and some plants were beginning to bolt in the heat. I pointed out Lambsquarters growing beside it, lush, beautiful, and thriving. After she discovered the flavor is similar to spinach (although better, in my opinion), she said, “Well, I suppose I should just weed the spinach from around the Lambsquarters.” It sounded like a good idea to me. I love gardening with weeds because its so easy to be successful! Chenopodium species (particularly C. album and C. berlandieri) have a long and widespread history as food. Iron age bodies preserved in Danish bogs have been discovered with traces of Lambsquarters seeds in the their stomachs,

Yellow Dock (Rumex crispus)

Buckwheat Family (Polygonaeae) Also called curly Dock, Yellow Dock grows in the poorly-drained places many other plants eschew. Its sturdy roots punch straight through clay and happily suck up moisture. It grows in ditches and low-lying fields, as well as that moist spot in your backyard.


Dock root is considered an alterative herb and also promotes the flow of bile. (10) It is traditionally used for those suffering skin eruptions of various kinds. It is also traditionally used in syrups for people suffering from anemia. It is also used in syrup or decoction as a gentle laxative. Docks tend to crossbreed so if you know you have a Dock but aren’t sure if it is medicinal, the easiest way to check is to look for a bright yellow to orange root. The leaves are used to soothe nettle stings. Children used to rub Dock leaves on their nettlestung skin and chant, “Dock in! Nettle out!” Dock leaves are also an excellent wild green. I prefer the young greens in the spring and during their fall resurgence, although I sometimes gather some leaves from the stalk after it has gone up. Once the seed heads begin to ripen, most of the leaves on the stalk turn brown and the few at the bottom are well past their prime. The leaves have a lemony taste and a rich, almost umami undertone. I particularly like them in cream of Dock soup, made in the same way as cream of spinach soup. As with Lambsquarters, Dock leaves contain some oxalic acid so it is best used cooked. Those with gout and kidney problems should exercise caution.

run the seeds and husks through my blender until they are coarsely ground. These are just a few of the ways these three amazing plants have been used by humans over the millennia. Although they are humble weeds, they deserve a place among the greats. Recipes Sprightly Spring Salad Young Lambsquarters leaves Chickweed above-ground parts Henbit flowers Dandelion flowers Redbud flowers Rinse the Lambsquarters and Chickweed. Sprinkle with Henbit, Dandelion, and Redbud flowers. You can, of course, add or substitute other salad vegetables, if you wish. Mix and match the ingredients depending on what is in season. If you don’t mind a little bitterness, you can add a few young dandelion leaves. Honey Mustard Dressing 2 T. garlic infused vinegar ¼ c. thyme-infused honey ¼ c. olive oil 2 t. prepared mustard Mix all ingredients well. Drizzle over salad, as desired. Chili With Pureed Wild Greens

The seeds can be ground into flour which is no surprise as Dock is in the same family as Buckwheat. I strip the seeds from the stalk by hand and then pick through them to sort out and discard pieces of leaf or stalk. After that I rub the seeds through my hands outdoors and let a light breeze carry away the worst of the chaff. Then I

1 pound ground beef 1 cup tomato puree 2 cups cooked pinto beans ½ cup salsa, pureed ½ water 1 cup cooked, pureed Lambsquarters, purslane, nettle, and/or Dock cumin, chili powder, paprika, onion powder, and garlic powder to taste Saute ground beef until well-browned. Add the rest of the ingredients. Simmer for 20-40 minutes.


Lambsquarters & Eggs 8 cups young Lambsquarters leaves 8 eggs, beaten 1/8-1/4 cup wild Allium or chives, optional 1 tablespoon bacon grease or coconut oil ¼ cup cooked crumbled bacon, optional Wash Lambsquarters leaves and Allium. Dice Allium. Melt bacon grease or coconut oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Add Lambsquarters and wild Allium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the leaves begin to wilt. Add eggs and cook, stirring constantly, until the eggs are done. Season with salt and pepper. If desired, top with crumbled bacon. Serve immediately. Young nettle leaves may be substituted for or mixed with Lambsquarters. Lemon Lambsquarter Seed Muffins With a Lavender Glaze Muffins 3 and 1/2 cups flour (all-purpose flour or half oat, half brown rice flours for gluten-free muffins) 2 t. baking powder 1/2 t. salt 1/8 cup Lambsquarters seeds 1 tablespoon lemon zest 1 cup honey (or 1 and 1/2 cups sugar for cupcakes) 4 large eggs, beaten 1 cup kefir (or buttermilk or yogurt thinned with milk) 1/2 cup milk 1/4 c. melted butter Preheat oven to 375. Mix dry ingredients and set aside. Mix honey, eggs, kefir, milk, and butter. Add dry ingredients and mix together. Pour into greased muffin tins and bake 25-30 minutes. Makes about 2 dozen. Serves 4. Glaze 1/4 t. powdered culinary Lavender buds* 2 T. lemon juice 1/4 c. butter, softened powdered sugar

Place Lavender, lemon juice, butter and 1 cup powdered sugar in food processor and blend or place in mixing bowl and blend with beaters. Add powdered sugar to desired consistency. Spread over muffins and, if desired, sprinkle with extra powdered Lavender. *To powder Lavender buds, place in food processor and blend. Then sift through mesh strainer. Culinary Lavender tastes best for cooking but you can experiment with Lavender buds sold for herbal purposes. Just be sure to use less as culinary Lavender is milder in flavor. *Instead of Lambsquarters seeds and lemon peel, other additions may be substituted. One of my favorites is to leave out the seeds and add ¾ c. fresh or frozen elderberries. I’ve even used elderberries which have been strained out after making infused honey or elixir. You can leave off the lemon glaze but it tastes delicious with elderberries. Dock Seed Brownies ½ cup all-purpose flour (or for gluten-free, ¼ cup each oat and brown rice flour) ½ cup coarsely ground Dock seeds or Dock seed flour ¼ teaspoon baking soda ¼ teaspoon salt 1/3 cup butter ½ cup sugar or honey 2 tablespoons water 1 12 ounce package chocolate chips 1 teaspoon vanilla 2 eggs Preheat oven to 325. Combine flour, Dock seeds, baking soda, and salt. In a saucepan, combine butter, sugar and water. Bring just to a boil, stirring frequently, and remove from heat. Add chocolate chips and vanilla. Stir until chips are melted. Transfer to medium bowl, add eggs and beat well. Add flour mixture and mix. Pour into greased 8x8 pan. Bake 25-30 minutes. Tip: Dock seeds can be ground, hull and all, in grain grinders or processed in a food processor for a coarser grind. They should be gathered when they turn rich reddish-brown on the plant and are somewhat dried out.


Dock Seed Crackers 1/2 c. Yellow Dock seeds, coarsely ground 1 1/2 c. oat flour 1/2 tsp. paprika 1 tsp. onion powder 1 tsp. garlic powder 1/2 c. butter 1/3 c. kefir (or substitute yogurt or buttermilk, adjusting for thickness) Mix flours and spices. Cut in butter. Add kefir and stir well. Turn out on floured surface and knead for a few minutes until well mixed. Place in bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least an hour. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Roll out dough on floured surface as thin as you can make it while still keeping it reasonably easy to handle. Cut into squares with pizza cutter. Transfer to greased baking sheet and bake 10-12 minutes. Allow to cool thoroughly before storing. Makes approximately 4 dozen. Enjoy with soup or with cheese as an earthy snack.

Citations : 1. http://www.susunweed.com/Article_ChickweedA-Star.htm 2. Edible And Useful Plants of the Southwest by Delena Tull, page 19 3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28735356 4. https://arjournals.org/index.php/ijpm/article/ viewFile/460/403 5. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/ 10.1080/21662282.2012.750445 6. http://www.ohioarchaeology.org/component/ content/article/20-resources/research/articles-andabstracts-2001/117-preliminary-results-ofinvestigations-at-a-late-archaic-occupation-along-theohio-river 7. https://www.ohio-forum.com/2015/12/maizerelative-quinoa-fed-ohio-valley-3000-years-ago/ 8. The Cahokia and Surrounding Mound Groups, Volume 3, Issues 1-5, pg 179 10. The New Holistic Herbal by David Hoffman, page 243


Water Kefir Soda & the Alchemical Magic of Fermented Food & Beverage Getting Back to the Bacteria

by Lisa Valantine Lisa’s sense-filled work is enlivened by the relationship between food, our microbiome and beauty, and you can read more about her offerings at: Serene Cuisine and True Food Beauty, The following is the companion piece to her Good Medicine Confluence class, and we hope to bring her back to share her enticing special medicine more. You have probably noticed that the microbiome is getting a lot of attention lately. Did you know that the microbiome, which are the bacteria that reside in your gut, is actually one of the primary factors that drive gene expression, that influences what genes turn on and off? Wow! That is powerful! As the body of knowledge surrounding the importance of gut bacteria grows a number of health conditions have already been linked to imbalances in the microbiome. To date obesity, depression, type 1 and type 2 diabetes, Crohn's, brain diseases, and allergies are all linked to the gut health. The microbiome, which is a colony of microbes that are as unique to you as your fingerprint, is your greatest personal health and beauty secret, woven into you in your mother's womb and more especially if you were born vaginally. The bacteria and microbes are so important that children who are not born vaginally will be at risk immunologically. Dr Gundry, an innovative integrative physician, recommends that children who are born by Csection have their mouth and nose swabbed with bacteria from their mother's vagina at birth. We

are home to over 1,000 species of bacteria that live inside us, and these bacteria actually outnumber the cells in our body by 10 to 1. We also host viruses called bacteriophages and these outnumber the bacteria by 10 to 1. All of these organisms, trillions of them perform a multitude of important functions for us every day without our knowing it, such as strengthen immunity, improve digestion, increase B12 absorption, keep our breath fresh, soothe our skin, reduce colds and flu, heal leaky gut and help us lose weight. The hardworking gut bacteria need to be taken care of every day so that they can continue to support our health and vitality. Every step we take towards improving gut health is a step we take towards a healthier expression of our genes and more enjoyment of our life. Not surprisingly, a healthy diet is one of the best ways to upregulate and support gut health. It is not so much about getting specific nutrients as it is about eating foods that feed the microbes.


An example would be traditionally fermented foods (probiotic) and raw foods that are full of fiber (prebiotic). When fed the right food the microbes will thrive, and in turn, they will help us thrive. In addition to having a healthy gut, we also want to encourage bacterial diversity. Compared to our ancestors, modern man is experiencing a dearth of bacterial diversity, due in large part to over sanitation, the use of glyphosate, toxins, stress, and even EMF exposure. To improve bacterial diversity I recommend eating more than one type of fermented food and from a variety of sources, take and/or eat probiotic and prebiotic rich foods regularly, minimize sugars which encourage pathogens, get your hands dirty in garden soil, and keep the windows open because increased airflow improves the diversity of microbes in your home. In all of my classes, and I have taught many over the years, I teach people how easy it is to start making fermented foods at home. Probiotic Foods water kefir soda kraut and kimchee coconut kefir natto yoghurt kvass amazake milk kefir raw apple cider vinegar miso tempeh brine-cured olives real dill pickles (no vinegar) kombucha Prebiotic Foods: Food & Fiber For The Microbes raw asparagus raw onion and cooked raw garlic raw leek underripe banana raw dandelion raw Jerusalem artichoke raw chicory raw apple - remember the old adage - an apple a day keeps the doctor away. raw jicama raw honey raw artichoke

A Ferment-Centric Kitchen Sometime around 2010, I began getting interested in fermentation. Prior to 2010, I had made a few episodic forays into fermented food. Around the time I was weaning my son I began getting raw goat milk from a local homesteader. While reading a book by Paavo Airola I found an address for ordering milk kefir grains from someone who lived in New York State. I had never tasted milk kefir before but I was game to try it. I ordered a package of them and when they arrived in the mail, looking like miniature cauliflowers, I began making raw goat milk kefir. Raw goat kefir was so delicious, that to my mind it remains the finest food on the planet. Milk kefir grains are the perfect compliment to raw goat milk. A marriage made in heaven. When we moved overseas for a number of years I lost track of my source for raw goat milk and milk kefir grains. Fast forward through a few uninspired attempts at making jars of sauerkraut while reading the Body Ecology Diet to the year 2010 when the idea of fermentation began to take hold again. I had just read Sally Fallon's book Nourishing Traditions and that is when things began to change. I can't really explain what got me so interested. Perhaps the sheer novelty of a new food path, a new food-related adventure, the prospect of doing something entirely different intrigued me. In Nourishing Traditions , I was interested to find recipes for sauerkraut, kimchee, ginger carrots, pickled ginger and the like. In the back of the book, I found recipes for fermented beverages such as ginger ale, cider, coolers, punches and root beer. That year when my daughter arrived home to visit from May through August we devoted ourselves to the exploration of all things food-related. We later came to refer to summer 2010 as our French Summer. We grew vegetables in a little garden on a borrowed piece of land, we foraged for wild edibles, we scoured the farmer's markets for delectable local produce and then we cooked. Oh, how we cooked. We stretched and challenged ourselves to learn new and exciting cooking methods and techniques and to explore new recipes and ingredients.


Each day was another delicious edible adventure. During her stay, which seemed all too brief, we began playing around with lactofermented sodas. I particularly remember taking a long bike ride together and stopping at a park to refresh ourselves with homemade ginger ale. My very first brew. It was delicious. Encouraged by my success I began to experiment with new flavors. It was summer and there were many glorious things in season. I was most proud of an elderflower cordial that we made from wild elderflowers gathered on a hike. It was a wild ferment and it required nearly a month in a dark cupboard. It was magnificent. During the next several years every time I looked at something I wondered if I could ferment it. In sunny SoCal, I considered the bottom shelf of my fridge my cold storage and on a good day, one might find up to 20 jars of ferments there. I tried to make something new every weekend so that my study of ferments and my supply of ferments never ran short. During these next several years I experimented with sourdough pancakes, I had a go at milk kefir again, though sadly had a difficult time sourcing raw goat milk, fermented Peach catsup, fermented Plum chutney, fermented Elderberry barbecue sauce, fermented salsa, fresh goat cheese, fermented raspberry preserves, fermented nut cheese, beet kvass, a very mysterious beverage called Jun which is brewed with raw honey and whose origins are cloaked in mystery, kraut in every imaginable flavor combination, an aromatic red kraut seasoned with merlot-infused sea salt and a pinch of lavender, kimchee, mead, elderberry wine, kombucha, elderflower cordial, water kefir soda, and lacto-fermented soda in an amazing array of flavors. I even fermented hummus and salmon. Soon every cupboard in my small home was being re-purposed to hold a burgeoning collection of jars, jugs and bottles for ferments. As I continued to read and study about fermentation It became apparent that fermented foods, an often forgotten and neglected part of our own food culture, held a place of honor in traditional world food culture. In Europe the principle ferment, even going back to Roman times, was sauerkraut. It was prized for its flavor

and its medicinal properties. In Japan, China and Korea there are many kinds of fermented vegetables that are eaten on a daily basis. A closer look at traditional food culture reveals that the fermentation of fruits and grains to make refreshing and health-promoting beverages was nearly universal. Tesquino, an Aztec beer, munkoyo a beer of Zambia, kaffir beer, chicha, kvass, kiesel, pulque, and small beer in Elizabethan times, are to name a few. Yet despite the evidence for fermented beverages showing up in every culture of the world nobody knows for certain where water kefir soda came from. It is difficult to trace a lineage or tradition for it, though speculation points towards Mexico. According to some research, the culture forms naturally on the pads of the Opunita Cactus as hard granules that can be later reconstituted and propagated in a sugar/water solution. Other stories place their origin in Tibet, the Caucasus or Ukraine. Although there is no recorded history of water kefir it does seem likely that the grains have been around for centuries. Different countries call them by different names. Most commonly called Tibicos, Japanese WaterCrystals, California Bees, Australian Bees, African Bees, Ginger Bees, or Sea Rice. As my interest and expertise began to grow I was becoming better known in my community as a fermentor. I began to win awards at the local Santa Barbara Fermentation Festival in just about every category. Soon people began showing up for classes and I had a steady stream of students wanting to learn to make small artisanal batches of kraut, kimchee and kombucha. My fermentcentric kitchen became like a community kitchen, a place for people to gather when it came to ferments. One weekend, with the help of friends, over 50 jars of red aromatic sauerkraut walked out the front door destined to be part of a local slow food event. As I began to curate more and more events around a growing interest and demand for fermented food I realized that fermented food really was enjoying a renaissance in health-minded communities and the creation of bespoke beverages, brimming with probiotic, gut-healing goodness had become my brand, become a central part of those community gatherings.


The natural effervescence of water kefir soda is so light that it tickles the palate like champagne bubbles. It is a beautiful digestive and is sufficiently light that it doesn't distract from the food it is being served with. Water kefir soda is not intoxicating like mead, nor is it assertive like kombucha. If I were to describe it I would put it into an Elvish category, so light and light-hearted the Elves might have conjured it. The first summer I began brewing my neighbor across the street came over nearly every day to sample the latest flavor. When people stopped by they couldn't get out the door without at least sampling 6 brews. Highlighting what was locally available and seasonal I began to create locally sourced signature flavors. The sodas were a great way to showcase local fruits and botanicals and to help others make intimate connections with local food culture. Like Hippocrates famous quote "let food be thy medicine" water kefir soda tastes delicious infused with beneficial and healing tonic herbs. Some of my personal favorites are perfumey

Mara des Bois strawberry soda, Buddha's hand citron soda, champagne grapes soda, fruit, flower and herb-infused sparklers such as elderberry-sage, hibiscus-rose, watermelon-mint, or medicinal/tonic blends such as nettle-ginger, and dandelion-burdock. When I travel to a new location to visit family and friends or teach a cooking class the water kefir grains travel with me. While teaching cooking classes in new locations I like to bring out a few bottles of water kefir soda with surprise flavors such as local red currant soda, lilac or crab apple blossom infused soda. Sometimes a flower, fruit, berry, herb or root will change and become much bigger in the fermentation process and really show up in a surprising and complex way, other times the flavor doesn't come through very well at all. I found out that chocolate doesn't come through in water kefir soda very well, but is amazing and robust in kombucha. I soon learned that there is always an element of surprise inherent in the brewing of a beverage. One never really knows for certain how something will turn out. Each bottle or brew will become something entirely


unique and original. I like the artisanal element of surprise and waiting for an often uncertain outcome. I like the lack of consistency. It adds a spice of suspense, excitement and magic to the process. In my opinion, wild foods have an affinity to fermentation. Here are a few of my favorites. 1 - Nettle - is so deeply mineralized and nourishing it is considered an adrenal tonic. I like to balance the cooling green nourishment of nettle with a good handful of ginger root.

2 - Burdock - is a potent liver/blood purifier that it keeps the skin clear. It has been traditionally paired with dandelion root as the two key ingredients in fermented beverages since the Middle Ages. 3 - Dandelion - Is another potent liver purifier that helps keep the skin clear. The taproot of dandelion can grow down a couple of feet drawing up many minerals. 4 - Elderflower - honey-scented blossoms are traditionally used in Europe to make light and delicate fermented beverages. Elderflowers cool fevers and inflamed tonsils. 5 - Elderberry - lends itself to fermentation and makes a superb richly flavored ferment.

Elderberry, which is a good flu remedy, is usually always everybody's favorite soda. 6 - Serviceberry - this is my personal choice. Serviceberry, in my opinion, sublimely lends itself to fermentation. 7 - Sage - I always combine a little sage with fruit because it is so strongly anti-bacterial that it will retard the fermentation process. I enjoy using several varieties of native sages that I grow on my property. Pitcher sage has a wonderful flavor.

Aside from its lovely flavor, water kefir soda is, importantly, a probiotic-rich beverage that supports healthy digestion and helps nurture and support the microbiome and the immune system. Throughout the world, water kefir soda and all lactic-acid containing beverages have been valued for their medicinal qualities, their ability to strengthen the digestion, relieve constipation, nurture the sick and promote overall health and well-being. Let's Get Brewing Water kefir grains are a complex polysaccharide matrix that contains a live colony of symbiotic bacteria and yeast. The symbiotic colony of beneficial yeast and bacteria, which look like rubbery little crystals, may contain upwards of 30 strains of beneficial microorganisms. The exact makeup of the species is highly variable and will depend on the culturing location and conditions.


juice will encourage a lot of frothing and yeasty activity that is not harmful but is unsightly.

It is important to take care of water kefir grains and keep them healthy, like a faithful pet, and not subject them to extreme temperatures. Given care, water kefir grains will live indefinitely and produce an infinite amount of water kefir soda. Water kefir grains eat sugar and produce carbon dioxide which is what gives water kefir soda its characteristic fizz. In addition to sugar, water kefir grains need a mineral-rich environment in order to thrive and reproduce. I often add a few drops of ConcenTrace Mineral Drops to my brews. Although I often make many batches of soda back to back, especially in the warmer summer months, periodically, between batches, I put the grains in a sugar solution with a few drops of ConcenTrace Mineral Drops and let them rest in the fridge in a covered jar for about a week. When the grains are showing signs of being weary or are shrinking in size I put them in a more potent Recovery Brew and keep them in the fridge for up to 4 weeks. The actual brewing process takes only one to two days. After one day of fermentation, water kefir soda has a pleasant tart lemonade-like flavor. You can store this basic water kefir in the fridge and enjoy it as is or you can add flavors such as sweetened herbal tea, fruit syrup or fruit juice to the basic water kefir and do a second stage of fermentation for another day which will yield a fizzier more complex and nutritious beverage. Pasteurized fruit juice works best because raw

Unless you don't mind re-straining and rebottling the brew a few more times, I recommend sticking with pasteurized fruit and fruit juices. On the second day, the bottles are ready to put in the fridge. The one to two-day rule is a good rule of thumb, but be aware that if the kitchen temperature is on the chilly side it will retard the fermentation process and if the temperature in the kitchen is warm it will speed the fermentation process up. When the bottles are thoroughly chilled in the fridge, which usually takes about 4 hours, they are ready to drink. Be careful not to open warm bottles or leave bottles standing on the counter at room temperature as they will continue to ferment at room temperature and can become explosive. Even when stored in the fridge it is a good idea to burp bottles of water kefir soda periodically because they will continue to ferment slowly and build up gas even when they are stored in the fridge. That means that the flavor of water kefir soda will change a little every day and over time the soda will become less sweet. I always reserve a few bottles for myself to undergo a longer slower fermentation in the fridge because I like the less sweet botanical sparklers best. If you do more than one type of ferment at home, such as kraut, sourdough, or kombucha etc., a good rule of thumb is to keep each kind of ferment at least 4 feet apart from each other to minimize the chance of cultural cross-contamination. Who wants sauerkraut that tastes like kombucha right? Cleaning up all fermentation vessels and scrubbing counter-tops is another essential when working with multiple cultures.


To begin brewing you need water kefir grains. If you don't have a friend who has a surplus of grains I like to get mine from Hannah Crum at Kombucha Kamp. I like how healthy and viable, not dehydrated, they are when they arrive.

Second Fermentation 2 c. of herb tea sweetened with 1/4 c. organic cane sugar or another sweetener of choice, fruit puree or diluted fruit syrup 1 batch water kefir soda Steep a jar of herb tea for up to 4 hours. Sweeten with sugar or another sweetener of choice. Strain the water kefir soda into a very large mixing vessel and pour in the sweetened tea. Pour into two flip-top quart bottles. Set the bottles on the counter for 18 to 24 hours. Put directly in the fridge. Water Kefir Recovery Brew

Recipe for Water Kefir Soda

First Fermentation 6 c. unchlorinated water, if using distilled water or reverse osmosis water you can add minerals such as ConcenTrace Mineral Drops 1/2 c. c. organic cane sugar 1/4 c. water kefir grains 1 slice of lemon 3 - 4 organic raisins Stir the sugar into the water until it is dissolved. Pour into a large sterile glass jar and add the water kefir grains, a slice of lemon, and 3 - 4 organic raisins. Let it sit on the counter for about 24 hours or until the raisins float to the top. When the raisins float on the surface you know that the batch is done. At this point, you can strain off the grains and begin a new batch or store the grains in a sugar solution in the fridge until you want to brew again. The first fermentation yields a tart lemonade like beverage. You can enjoy it as is or you can flavor the water kefir soda and begin the second fermentation.

This recipe gives weary kefir grains an extra infusion of the nutrients, minerals and vitamins that they need. Refrigeration causes the grains to go dormant and gives them a rest. Grains will come back from the vacation healthier and stronger. 5 c. water 1/4 c. organic cane sugar 1/8 t. coarse-grain sea salt 1/4 t. baking soda 1/2 t. molasses Bring the water to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat and scoop out 1 c. of water to set aside. Add the sugar, sea salt, baking soda and molasses to the remaining water and stir to dissolve. Let the water cool completely. Strain the kefir grain from their current batch of kefir as normal. While still in the strainer, rinse them a few times with the reserved cup of water. Combine the rinsed grains and the Recovery Brew in a glass jar. Cover with plastic wrap securely with a rubber band, and place in the fridge for a least 1 week and up to 4 weeks. The plastic wrap will allow trapped gas to escape while also protecting the liquid. To begin brewing again, strain the grains and discard the Recovery Brew. Transfer the grains into a fresh batch of sugar water to culture.


From Poacher to Steward: A Digger’s Journey with the Plants

by Laurie Quesinberry Laurie Quesinberry, a generational digger and mountain woman, is steeped in the traditions of Appalachia wildcrafting (bearsmountain.com). Her walk with the plants began at the skirt strings of great-granny as she gathered medicinals for the local doctor and ended up in the mountains of SW Virginia where she found solace among the forest and the plants that live there. Laurie’s unique perspective towards commercial wild harvesting started as a poacher, and evolved into the role of plant- and land-steward, promoting sustainable harvesting methods for “At Risk” plant medicine. She won this year’s award from United Plant Savers, and we brought her to teach at The Good Medicine Confluence, with the following is the accompanying essay for. When I sit atop the rocky ridge looking at the flat land below, I can’t remember much before my life here on this mountain. It’s here where I met my husband Bear, a man of inner strength and the quiet leader of this clan that I call my own. It’s here in the hollers where I found myself and a way of life that made me whole. Following the wilderness road, the clan came to this mountain over a hundred years ago. Though much of our history has been lost, the family has always said that God gave us the strength to climb the mountain and the mountain gave us Ginseng to build our home. Sold and traded to meet the needs of our clan, Ginseng and the other plants have always been an important part of our life here.

For as long as anyone can remember, the plants of the mountain have been intertwined with our life, providing for the family and giving more than we could have ever asked. Selling Seng for heat and food, digging Cohosh to buy shoes for the kids, or searching for Bloodroot to pay for school supplies, our family today still depends on these plants as much as our past generations. Without woods to call our own, we walk these heirloom ridges where our forefathers once tread no longer proud to be diggers in a world that calls us poachers. Our birthright now dirty and a thing of shame. Each year our numbers get fewer as the loss of wild spaces chokes out our livelihood. Soon our heritage will all but be lost, an urban legend, a fading piece of mountain history.


The Cry of Our Ridge

The mountain has an unseen power, a magic known to the faded voices of the old ones. I walk through the woods and my heart sees glimpses, a yearning for what’s been lost comes over me. This mountain has intertwined with my spirit and I long to know it in all her glory. I sit atop an old man rock and dream of a time when the plants are honored as well as those of us who harvest them, a returning to stewardship and partnership with the forest around us. The clan has dug and cared for our sliver of hunting lands for four generations. A testament to those long before, we can still walk the woods and take her bounty, but don’t be fooled. When you sit on the forest floor, you can tell there’s a shift taking place. Plants are moving and populations are changing. Unfortunately, our harvest today isn’t done with much care.

An Awakening Some years ago, I sat perched atop an old man rock looking over the flat land below wondering what will my life be once all that I’ve known is gone. Life on the mountain isn’t getting easier. Lands are getting smaller and harvests get slimmer each year. Logging, cabins, roads. Even part of our ridge has been stripped away for wood. I know inside of that in a few more generations these wild spaces will be a faded memory and so will I. That day, a longing to find our heritage came over me. I, too, don’t want to be a distant thought and desire to return, once again, the mountain’s pride. As bad as it sounds, the broker system works. It works well. There's security in knowing just what you can make before you even go out to harvest and with brokers now buying fresh roots, it’s easier than ever. The demand for wild plants increases every year, so we gather them for what amounts to pennies a piece.


A hard day’s work to provide for our families is a matter of pride, even though we know it’s hard work for very little reward. The reality is, the blood of the plants and sweat of those who harvest them feeds the industry. Long lost are the Granny Witches of the Appalachia. To generations of harvesters, the plants have been little more than money. Not even knowing why people want the plants, each spring countless number of diggers hit the woods. Though diggers know most every plant of the forest, we live in a world that’s completely detached from the herbal world as a whole. We tend to think of ourselves as the dirty little secret of the industry. Atop this old man rock, it’s clear that something has to change. But how do you save the mountain and this way of life at the same time? With no book to buy or road map to follow, this is a question that I’m still trying to figure out to this day.

Two Worlds Collide My journey from poacher to steward has been one of trial and error. At times it looked like there was no hope. Then two seasons ago a beautiful sequence of events unfolded and a whole new world opened up for me. It all began when one day, while searching the internet, I came across an herbalist in Low Gap, North Carolina named Thomas and his wife Terrie. When I reached out to them, they seemed as excited to meet me as I was them. Walking through the woods together, they shared about the work of others who are trying to farm woodland plants. I’d never heard of farming in the woods. And after our talk, I went home with a lot to think about. A few days later, out of the blue, the phone rang. In reply to one of my numerous emails, the call was from an herbalist in North Carolina who was curious about my work. Who I now know as my friend Jeannie Dunn, talked to me for hours that day. She shared for the the plants of the Appalachia and encouraged me that I was on the right track.


Wondering what opportunities might be out there, I spent a few days making phone calls. Though most had little more to say than, “sounds like good plans, keep me up to date.” With each call my list of contacts grew. A common theme amongst everyone I spoke to was the work of United Plant Savers (UpS) and I can’t count how many people encouraged me to give them a call. I thought it was rather odd to call a plant conservation group when I was trying to figure out a better way to sell the plant. But out of desperation for some sort of direction, I finally broke down and gave UpS a call. I’m sure they thought I was crazy, a poacher calling a plant saving group to tell them she has ideas on how poachers can still work while trying to ensure the plants will be around for our grandkids to harvest. Looking back now, I can only imagine what they thought. Yet, to my surprise, they

didn’t hang up on me. No one scolded me for digging plants. Instead, they listened to my heart, embraced my spirit, and filled me with encouragement.

You Can’t Un-know the Truth A few months later while spending time with a new herbal friend, it hit me like a ton of bricks. These plants that I love and cherish, these plants that give so much to me and my family. I don’t even know why people want them. I go in the woods and I dig them for pennies. But where are my plants going? Are they sitting in a warehouse rotting away while waiting for the highest price? Are they even being used at all? I don’t understand why we are raping the woods to find them. Is it just so the brokers can get rich? These questions brought me to my knees. They made me rethink everything I had known before.


When I began my journey, I had never heard of an “at risk” plant nor did I realize that in many areas of the Appalachia, the plants I’ve been harvesting for years are all but gone. Spending time with these new friends, my eyes have been opened to so many truths. Hearing Susan Leopold’s heart that drives the work of UpS, my thoughts have been challenged and my understanding deepened. Realizing that the plants are so much more than money to all of these people that I never knew existed has changed me as a person. At a crossroads, there’s no desire inside of me to change who I am. The mountain created the digger inside of me and a digger I’ll always be. Yet, once you know the truth you can’t unknow it. The question is, now that you know the truth, what will you do with it? Realizing a Destiny Today, I sit atop old man rock with my vision totally changed. No longer poaching the mountain’s plants, I see everything in a new

way. The plants are here to be honored. They were created to give us so much. These worlds of the plants aren’t opposed. The diggers, stewards, herbalists, users; the mountain intertwines us all in seemingly unexpected ways. There’s a spirit of old flowing throughout the mountain. One that understands and knows the true wisdom of these worlds and combines them in amazing ways. In days long past, Granny Witches throughout the Appalachian sent out their magic knowing someday it would return once again if we have an ear to hear the call of a distant voice. The path I’m on is rocky and one of constant uncertainty. At the same time, filled with magic, this unfolding journey is right where I’m supposed to be. Today, I dig in the soil to rescue the plants. Their homes being lost, I save them to create a future for them and my family. No longer a poacher, I now farm the woods that we once raped. Rebuilding the forest, restoring its splender, I feel like I hear the voices of forgotten


memories. Like, I’m tapping into an unforeseen power that’s creating a beautiful wave of change. I’m no one special. I’m not the only one of my kind. The mountains are calling and those with the spirit of old are hearing it’s calling. Farming, value added products, direct sales; diggers and herbalists are working together in many unusual ways to create a new path of use for the “At Risk” plants of the Appalachian. I believe that the mountain is bringing us together to this beautiful moment in time. As a steward’s heart returns once again, it’s time for the Herbalist and Diggers to come together. My life is the proof of what can happen when these two worlds collide. It’s the connections of others, the friendships we create, the spreading of knowledge, and the unveiling of truths that are going to make the change. I feel deep inside of me that a pivotal time has come to the mountains of the Appalachian, a crossroads of certain destiny; desolation or abundance. I ask, can you hear the forests cry? Will you hear the forest’s cry?


Amber Magnolia Hill In Conversation with Jesse Wolf Hardin Amber is a mother, herbalist, writer, teacher, podcaster, and river swimmer living in Grass Valley, CA. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Religious Studies from UC Davis and is endlessly interested in exploring the depths of consciousness and how humans make meaning. She began studying herbalism in 2005while immersing herself in the study of genealogy and deep ancestry, psychedelic healing, float tanks, grief and trauma, mythology, mycology, conscious death and home funerals, and empowered menstruation, sex, and childbirth. She and her husband Owen garden and wildcraft in the Sierra throughout the year in order to create simples and formulas for their line Mythic Medicinals, see more about her work at Medicine Stories. The following illuminating conversation is taken from the newest Plant Healer book, Herbalist Visions & Visionaries ...order from Bookstore Page, from www.PlantHealer.org Jesse Wolf Hardin: A warm welcome to you, Amber. Looking forward to stirring minds and hearts with your vision and story. Amber Magnolia Hill: Thank you Wolf! As an avid reader of the interviews in Plant Healer Magazine, it is an honor to be on the receiving end of your complex and thought-provoking questions. Wolf: One of the things my partner Kiva likes to join me in doing, is identifying, encouraging, and providing venues for the personal talents and gifts we recognize in new, young, regional, or lesser-known Plant Healers. I know you are one such person she has long sought to encourage, how did you connect to her and this mission?

Amber: Kiva and I first connected around 2009 via our blogs. This was right before social media really took off, and is when I first came in contact with many of the herbalists I still keep up with today. We’d all organize to do a “blog party” where we’d each write a post on one topic (say “rose medicine” or “adventures in wildcrafting” or something) and then link to one another’s posts within our own, so readers could bounce from post to post to post, finding new friends and information along the way. This was how we all connected and promoted one another before sites like Facebook became popular. This was many blog incarnations ago for both Kiva and I, but through the years we have kept up with one another on our various websites and social media profiles. My blog back then was


focused on motheringnatural birth, breastfeeding, food and herbs for families- and it’s neat that Kiva and I both just had babies again, many many years after giving birth to our firstborns. Wolf: I want to talk about larger, encompassing concepts of what it means to heal or be healed, but first I would like to ask you about your relationship to plants and their medicines. What were your earliest significant realizations or experiences with them? How have they been significant in your personal healing, and what else has interacting with them inspired or required?

Amber: I did not grow up enamored of plants. I grew up enamored of television. In my hometown of South Lake Tahoe, California snow covers the ground nine months a year, and it wasn’t until many years into my herbal studies (long after I’d left home) that I realized how many medicinal plants do indeed grow there. It was the pine trees, namely Jeffrey pine, that dominated my childhood. I have many deepseated memories of lying under the skirt of a pine tree, both on the dirt and in the snow, and their small seeds were my first wild food love. I recently heard Stephen Harrod Buhner talk about how many of his students, when he asks them what brought them to herbalism, respond with something like, “I don’t know, I just felt pulled and knew I had to follow it.” That’s exactly how I feel. There was no one awakening

moment, no dramatic tale of a plant saving my life. I just felt called, and I answered. I started by working in the Wellness Department at the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op. I took home every book I could (oftentimes reading it in one night before surreptitiously replacing it on the shelf the next morning), and took classes that nearby herbalists offered through the Co-op. Slowly, my understanding grew. Soon after this I found myself unexpectedly (though happily) pregnant, and it was during my oldest daughter’s infancy that I really dove head first into herbalism, knowing I wanted to be fully empowered to take care of my family at home and to circumvent mainstream medicine whenever possible (which has, thus far, turned out to be 100% of the time). When I graduated UC Davis with a degree in Religious Studies in 2004 I knew that I needed to do some heavy work around detangling my mind and soul from the world of institutions and academia and bureaucracy. I literally drove directly from completing my final final right to the Co-op to fill out that job application. I was ready to throw away everything the overculture had told me was normal and good and possible, and to find a different way of being in the world. I knew there was more, a deeper way of participating in life. I had been looking for that depth by studying the spiritual traditions of the world, but I certainly didn’t find it in the rigid world of academia. So my journey with herbalism has been very entwined with my journey as both a mom and as someone looking for a more authentic way of living. Becoming a mother worked some magic whereby I could more easily return to who I had been as a child. My work of sloughing off the influence of the constant media saturation, highly processed foods, and soul-crushing compulsory schooling that had dominated the first 25 years of my life became much easier as I aligned myself with the beginner’s mind, wonder, and curiosity of my growing daughter. Her presence allowed me to open my heart more fully to the natural world and to who I really was at my core.


Wolf: Your Mythic Medicinals online shop features locally wildcrafted herbal elixirs and topical preparations. In what ways are these plants, formulations and purposes “mythic” to you? Each would seem to have its own tale to tell, can you share any of them here? Amber: The idea of story medicine informs everything that I do. When someone uses an herbal medicine, they are ingesting the story of that medicine just as much as the herbs themselves (whether they are conscious of it or not). They are taking in not only the plants’ medicinal constituents, but also the whole experience of how the medicine came to them, their understanding of who made it, and even the visual experience of what the label looks like. This is why my product descriptions are not sparse or merely informational, but brimming with imagery and magic. This is why I put hours of thought into matching my intention for each medicine with the art that is displayed on its label. I want the entire experience of taking herbal medicine to be healing, and I have learned that the imagination is one of the most potent triggers for healing that there is. If we believe that something will heal us, if just seeing or holding the bottle feels good (as many of my customers write to tell me happens), we align our story with its medicine and our healing is accelerated.

The medicine that comes first to mind as being formulated from a place of mythic-mindedness is my purple-hued essence elixir called Unto Herself. It is “for the magical girl, wise elder, and ever-becoming woman that you are.” The three essences it contains (all suspended in a delicious violet liqueur) are violet flower, mammoth tusk, and amber. It all came together one spring as I was watching my oldest daughter blossom into adolescence just as the violets were coming up; I couldn’t shake the feeling that this time in her life shared a similar energy with the violets surrounding my house- innocence, awakening, a coming-into-oneself. At the same time I was spending time with my 95-year-old maternal grandmother and really tapping in to my matrilineal ancestors and thinking about the mitochondrial inheritance each baby receives from their mother-line. This reminded me of a vision I once had in a guided meditation of a young female mammoth gifting me wildflowers and amber, and I recalled that mammoths, like modern day elephants, are matriarchal in their societal structure. It’s all about the bonds between mother, daughter, sister, auntie, and grandma, with the eldest female being the leader of each group, she who passes down knowledge to the younger generations.

Utilizing the power of the ancient mythicmindedness that is woven into every human being and that guided our ancestors gives us access to deeper and more meaningful levels of healing. Homo sapiens are the story species. We all respond to stories, we are spellbound by narrative, and the tales we believe in change who we are and how we live (again, whether we are conscious of it or not). We are missing the mythic today, and we are longing for it. Myths make meaning, and the absence of meaning is a to blame for the ailments that plague modern society just as much as the absence of physical health is.

Amber, for me, represents the preservation of ancient memory, and it seemed like the perfect way to round out the violet flower and mammoth tusk in the medicine. And so this essence- so different from my usual oils and extracts- came together as a small way, a daily


ritual, that a girl or woman today can honor her own rites of passage through all of life’s stages and call in the ancestral or matriarchal witnesses and blessing-givers and wisdom keepers who are missing from our lives today. (And I happened to have just been gifted a very special mammoth tusk bead that made it all possible, in case you were wondering!). Wolf: The work of a Plant Healer begins not just with a compelling calling, but with an essential search for a personal identity and productive role within one’s community and the larger herbal world. When we know who we truly are, know our blessings, challenges, needs, deepest concerns and creative hungers, we can visualize and create the mantle and means that serves us and our purposes best. Your self image and focus has clearly evolved... what are the processes and changes you have gone through in your metamorphosis? And how would you now define/color your identity, healer’s mission, and personal role?

Amber: When I first started studying herbalism I, like many folks new to the path, thought that working as a clinical herbalist- seeing people in an office like setting and giving them herbs to help their physical problems, just like a doctor but substituting plants for pharmaceuticals- was the only way one could practice herbalism. I’ve never felt called to that, though folks like that are some of my favorite teachers, and so I was content to just consider myself a home or kitchen herbalist (and some times blogger) for the first many years. Then one summer I made my usual batch of St. John’s Wort oil, but about twice as much as I had in the past. I had an Etsy vintage clothing shop at the time, so I listed a few bottles there, and that was the beginning of what would become a years-long transition away from vintage and toward full time herbalism. Writing has been the one consistent thread. Ever since childhood I have wanted to be a writer and, specifically, to share information and help people through my writing. I’ve been journaling forever, I used to assign myself reports on


subjects I found interesting FOR FUN as a child, and I’ve been blogging for about 10 years now. In high school I wrote in my journal that I hope someone finds my journals after I die and feels less alone about their challenges and struggles when reading them, so you can imagine how thrilled I was when the internet came around and I could get that connection and feedback immediately instead of waiting until I was dead! The impulse to share helpful information, and to share personal stories as a way to connect with others, runs deep in me. So I really lucked out that social media took off around the same time that I started shifting into a more public, outside of the home, role as an herbalist. Instagram especially has been vital to the shape my work has taken. As a so called “micro blogging” platform, it has given me an avenue through which to share plant knowledge, stories of my life and the challenges of grief, motherhood, owning a business, etc., and through which to sell my medicines, classes, and so on. After the devastation of losing my beloved mother in a car crash in November 2015 my understanding of my work crystallized. There was just no time to waste following any pathway other than my own, no time to waste trying to be an herbalist the way other people are herbalists. For example, I am terrible at talking about the medicinal actions of individual plants or what they’re “good for” (even though I have that knowledge for many plants and can dredge it up if need be) because my natural inclination is to approach plant healing from a wider perspective, from the imaginal realm, from the place where human intelligence converges with plant intelligence. The loss of my momma, followed quickly by the conception and birth of my second daughter Nixie Opal, and the internal rearrangement of self that followed both gave me the permission to practice my own form of herbalism. I feel settled here, and so heartened as my audience grows ever wider and I hear from people every day who resonate with and are grateful for this highly personal approach, one which honors the

weaving together of an individual’s personal mythology with the archetypal energies (and physical medicinal constituents!) of healing herbs. Never underestimate how hungry modern humans are to have their stories heard, their deep self and their soul longings validated, and to reconnect with the natural world. Wolf: What have been the greatest challenges to pursuing a life calling – finding time while mothering, making it work financially, or? Amber: You nailed it - motherhood and money. I can imagine every mom reading this is nodding her head in agreement right now. I sometimes joke that having a baby is the opposite of making money, partly because of how expensive kids can be, but mostly because of the unbelievable amount of time and/or money their caretaking necessitates. So the two are really intertwined.

My girls are ten years apart. When I was pregnant the second time, I constantly warned my husband how hard having a baby is. I wanted him to be mentally and emotionally prepared in a way that I wasn’t the first time. I wanted us to have strategies already in place for how to “balance” parenthood and the rest of life. And yet we were/are both still shocked by how hard it is. My little one is 18 months as of this writing, and I have this image always in my mind of trying to climb up a hill while someone is holding on to both my ankles trying to drag me back down.


Like many mothers, I feel like I constantly fail. At the beginning of the day it seems perfectly reasonable to make a grocery list, respond to those three overdue emails, strain the mugwort vinegar, and work on my interview for Plant Healer Magazine by the end of the day (while caring for the toddler, getting the big kid off to school and home again, cooking, cleaning, etc.). And yet, over and over again, the day ends and just one email and half an interview question got answered. I look at people without kids and burn with envy for all the free time they don’t even realize they have, and I long to have the uninterrupted hours I used to have to work. (And, of course, I do know that I will have that freedom again someday). At the same time, the birth of both of my daughters brought me closer to myself, which has only deepened my work. Layers of culture were peeled away in the rawness of the postpartum period, and something of my essence was allowed to surface. I made major shifts in my focus both times, and felt a surge of creativity that was impossible to fully indulge with such limited time and energy, but that took my life in new directions. So motherhood has blessed me with renewed curiosity and inspiration (not to mention two wonderful daughters!) while also cursing me with major deficits of time and energy. Wolf: “Self-Care” has become both a marketing phrase used by big corporations, and a bit of a cliche. And yet, we cannot leave our healthcare to pharmaceutical-pedaling MDs, and we can more effectively help other people when we deeply tend and nourish ourselves. What is your definition of holistic self-care, what are the necessary elements to address, and examples of how we might accomplish this? Amber: I think the foundation of self care is following the mythic threads of one’s innermost yearnings, taking our dreams and visions and resonances seriously, and refusing to let anyone else define who we are in the depths of us. Though unjust social/racial/economic forces keep many of us from finding the place where our inner callings can sync up with our life’s

work, everyone can nurture their soul longings. Everyone can establish a connection with their ancestors. Everyone can learn the lore of and find their own personal meaning in the animals, plants, stones, and places they love the most. Everyone can write or think about their strongest childhood memories and what they mean to them. Past cultures (and many still extant today) understood that everyone is born called. Woven into these cultures is the implicit nurturing of each child’s unique inner being, so that they can blossom into adults who contribute to the group by doing their soul work. We have completely forgotten this in the west today and, in fact, actively encourage numbing conformity and mindless productivity above all else. Yet we are hungry for it, desperate to feel deeply connected to ourselves, each other, our ancestors, and the natural world. So although I practice many forms of physical self care as an absolutely vital part of keeping my highly sensitive nervous system and always frazzled mama mind as functional as possible (herbal body oiling with whole plant infused oils, lots of time outside, a nightly hot bath with a good book or three), I have come to see that the care and feeding of the deep self and the uncovering of who really are as foundational practices of self care. If we ignore that which stirs our spirit and continue trying to fit ourselves in to a culture that cares nothing for the inner life, no amount of physical self caretaking can really get to the root of our ailments. Wolf: What is the Plant Healer’s responsibility when it comes to helping heal more than bodily human conditions? Can we even ensure human health, without addressing lifestyle, diet, society, politics, and the land/environment/ecology? Amber: Oh, what a tangled web this existence is. I think that my answers thus far have unintentionally addressed this question too. Deep healing happens on multiple levels. Though a physical ailment is what brings many folks into the realm of plant healing initially,


they stick around once they start to untangle the web of what really ails them and to see how interrelated all things are. A true healer, herbalist or not, can help to draw a map of the web in order to start drawing the threads out, one by one, for closer examination. Plant Healer: What is your definition of wildcrafting ethics, and why and how is it important? Amber: This questions looms larger and larger for all of us plant folk as public interest in wild foods and foraging grows ever stronger. Like many, I am starting to question the ethics of even talking about wildcrafting, for fear of inspiring people without a full understanding of sustainable harvesting and deep ecosystem dynamics to get out into nature and fill their baskets like they fill their carts at the grocery store. One thing really stood out for me last year at the Good Medicine Confluence in a class called Topics in Wildcrafting taught by Dara Saville and Shana Lipner Grover. They spoke about the dangers of the consumerist mindset being brought into the wild. For example, say you’re in the wilderness and you stumble upon a plant that you just love. Maybe you had met or read about it before, or maybe it’s brand new to you. Either way, this plant is calling to you. You ask someone nearby and find out that it’s highly endangered and should never be picked. But you want it! This plant and you are clearly soul mates. Every fiber in your being wishes to dig it up or snip off a piece and carry it home in your pocket, to be lovingly placed on your altar or under your pillow or made into medicine that you are certain you need. I mean, of course you care about the ecology of this place and the future of this species, but surely it’s okay to just take a little bit of this plant when no one is looking, right? Though I have never had this experience, I can completely picture myself as that person- as the person who feels such a resonance with the plant that they feel they simply must keep it in physical proximity. Hearing Dara and Shana

frame this as bringing a consumerist mindset into the natural world really struck me and helped me to see how hard it can be for folks raised in our society to untangle their own desires from the needs of the wild. My friend Milla Prince calls the attitude with which many people go wildcrafting an extractive mindset. Even “conscious” folks are still under the influence of the overculture, which has inculcated in us from birth that everything around us is there for our benefit, that the world is ours for the taking. The idea that resources are unlimited and that we deserve everything our hearts desire is foundational to the growing nightmare of the “American dream”. So we must be aware of the subtle, insidious consumerist and extractive mindsets that pervade the consciousness of everyone in our culture, even those of us with the best of intentions. On a more personal level, my husband and I have been collecting the seeds of the plants we wildcraft and planting them on the land we bought in 2016, with the goal of majorly cutting down on the number of plants we are taking from the wild. Last year our experimental mugwort, yarrow, and St. John’s Wort patch was a raging success! This year we have California poppy, elder, and more coming up. We also made the (very hard!) decision to not take other people to our foraging spots any more. This goes against my very strong urge to teach people about plants and show them the joys of herbal medicine. In most aspects of life I am a “the more the merrier!” type of person. Last year I shared online about some glorious rose bushes we’d harvested hips from, and this year they were totally picked clean by the time we visited them again by someone who clearly didn’t understand the concept of leaving enough behind for the plant to regenerate itself. It is hard to tamp down my passion for teaching and sharing, and I’m very much in the process of learning how to talk about wildcrafting in a responsible way.


Wolf: Talk about the indivisibility of land and the ancestors. Amber: The land is sentient because everything within it is sentient. Science has now woken up to what humans living close to the earth have always known- that plants are intelligent. They have neural networks. They are able to perceive information from their surroundings, decipher what it means for them, and elicit a response. And they are in constant communication with each living thing nearby, through mycorrhizal fungi, mycelial networks, the production of certain secondary compounds, and more. They sense the touch of the world upon them just like we do, and we are in a dynamic relationship with the natural world around us whether we are conscious of it or not. Taking this relationship even deeper, I have come to see the land and the ancestors as the same thing. This may seem radical or at least irrational at first, but is something that indigenous peoples have always known. The billions of people who came before us literally went in to the ground when they died, and the soil and the mycelia and the roots of plants and therefore everything above ground has grown directly out of their very matter. (Embalming, casket burial, and cremation being very new inventions in the long arc of time). This applies to every living being who has gone before us as well, not just the human kind. The dead are in the land. Or as Jung put it, “The ancestors went underground.” This, for me, opens up a whole new dimension of relatedness and reverence. And I start to understand why people are so quick to glom on to the traditions of intact cultures that are not their own- we’ve lost our relationship to our ancestors, and to the earth, as the feeling sense has been slowly obliterated by the overculture. So reconnection with one’s ancestral heritage is an oft-overlooked but very powerful doorway into greater perception of the sentience of earth. And tying the two together by foraging or

cultivating your ancestral food and medicine plants can further open the doors of perception and help to deepen relationship to place and the recognition of the wider planetary intelligence that we are all a part of. Wolf: In what ways can story be medicine? What are you talking about, beyond visualization, when you refer to rewriting our narratives of illness and our selves? Amber: So one aspect of this is what I have already written about here- that taking elements of our personal mythology seriously (our dreams, our name, our lineage, the myths and fairy tales we resonate with, etc.) brings us into closer alignment with the deep self, which gives us solid ground to walk through the world on and can make our healing more effective and enjoyable. And then there is the more mundane, more pervasive, and oftentimes more insidious aspect of story telling, which are the stories we tell ourselves about our ailments, our problems, and our ability to heal. Belief is one of the most powerful forces in a human life, and imagination is likewise one of the most powerful catalysts for deeper healing (or for a further decline into ill health). For example, I have always been a dreamy, mindsy, word-oriented person who sucks at sports and had too many embarrassing moments as a kid in P.E. classes to count. At a very young age my story became that my body is not strong, movement isn’t my thing, and moving my body in any sort of performative way in front of other people is something to be avoided at all costs. This story was strengthened considerably by tales my parents told from my young childhoodthat I didn’t walk until 15 months and even after I could walk I preferred to just sit and observe the world going by, that when I played soccer at age five I was too busy sitting and singing to the small flowers on the field to pay attention to the ball flying past me, that my little sister was the rough-and-tumble tomboy while I was the sweet and bookish girly-girl.


Flash forward to age 37 and I am finally starting to get a handle on the pain patterns that have plagued me since high school, and am realizing that underneath all of these seemingly disparate symptoms is a simple lack of movement. My old story, which I have light-heartedly joked about for years (often saying that I am just “prone to stillness”), has been seriously undermining my health and wellbeing for two decades. So I’m writing a new narrative. I’ll never be an athlete, but nor am I genetically predisposed to sitting still. I have the same human body most of us are blessed with, and I can move it in the same ways other people can. I am not weak. I am not incapable. I am not destined for a life of mostly reading and writing and singing to flowers while being in pain. I can grow beyond what I’ve always been, what I’ve always been told I was. My whole paradigm needed to shift before I could see the possibilities for healing that were open to me. My old story was so powerful that it ruled my life for years and years and cost me thousands of hours of pain and anguish and just as many dollars seeking treatment and help. It’s only been a few months since I started to unravel that story, and already the healing has been profound. Wolf: Kiva and I founded Plant Healer publications and events for two primary reasons. The first was to revitalize and win some cred back for folk herbalism, encouraging reconnection to once deeply rooted “Western” traditions in a time when “Eastern” modalities such as Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine were getting all the respect. Even to this day, there are those you deny there are any historic herbal traditions authentic to the Americas, and whom dismiss the fact or relevance of ancient European herbology. What are your thoughts and feelings around this, and the value of identifying with and passing down specific place or culture based traditions? Amber: I believe that the traditions of your own people have more power, wisdom, and healing for you than do the traditions of others. Our bodies recognize the food and plants and myths

and songs of our ancestors, and come alive in a new way when we encounter them. Some ancient memory is tapped into, some longhidden well of knowing is unearthed, and we are never the same. Our bodies vibrate with the recognition of what we already knew, but had forgotten. This doesn’t mean that we should discount what we can respectfully learn from other cultures and their ancestral medicine ways, because there is beauty and value in such exchanges. It just means that we should not discount our own heritage just because it doesn’t have a fancy name or seem as exciting. There is an Ayurveda school here in Nevada City, and I sometimes ask students that I meet what drew them there. The answer is always that they want to learn natural medicine, ancient healing ways, and how to use plants. It’s never that they feet especially called to the culture or lifeways of India. It seems to me that they don’t realize that every indigenous culture living on every land mass on earth had/has knowledge of these things, and that India (or China, in the case of those studying TCM) is not the only culture to have developed knowledge around herbal medicine and other forms of healing. They don’t realize that they can look to their own ancestry to learn the same things. It is very easy to lose perspective of the wide arc of human evolution, but we were huntergatherers for 99% of our history, and the illusory drawing of boundaries around nations and peoples is an extremely recent event in time. And we now know too that on a genetic level we are all much more closely related than not. So what I’m trying to say is that we all come from a lineage of people who lived in close relationship with the earth, knew how to use plants as food and medicine, and were empowered to care for themselves and their loved ones at home. For the vast majority of our ancestors, this was the only option for surviving life on earth. And the fact that you are here to read these words is proof of just how knowledgeable they were. They stayed alive long enough and were healthy enough to reproduce!


Plant knowing and the ability to heal self and others is in the DNA of every human being on earth. But for white folks (like me), this wider perspective has been lost. When only looking back a few generations (instead of the thousands and thousands of generations that it took to get to us today) it’s easy to fall into thinking along the lines of Oh I’m just a European mutt; there is nothing special or “earth based” about my ancestry. I myself thought this way for years. But, of course, this line of thinking is just a subtle form of fetishizjng “exotic” cultures and implies that whiteness is the human baseline and is therefore blah/boring/vanilla (which, by the way, is delicious- go put some vanilla bean in brandy and then try to use that word to describe something boring again.). The vast majority of all of our ancestors were what we today call indigenous. They lived on and off of the land. So the assumption that TCM or Ayurveda are the only systems of plant healing out there is just wrong- every premodern culture on earth had their own system and knowledge base around plant healing. Ayurveda and TCM codified their knowledge and that makes it easy to teach and to pass down, but other systems are just as valid. Wolf: You say that “Uncovering these old, resilient ways that still exist within ourselves, and our cultures, is the most powerful magic and medicine we need in this time.” What all do you mean by that? Amber: This ties directly into the previous question. White folks feel so culturally bereft, so spiritually orphaned by modern life in Western culture, that many have completely cut themselves off from their feeling sense and from their relationship to the planetary whole. They no longer feel themselves to be an animal living on the earth, inextricably intertwined with the fate of every other life form. Cultural appropriation is one symptom of this, overt destruction of ecosystems in the name of profit is another.

So reweaving the ancestral web, for those who have been completely severed from the knowledge of those who came before, is vital as we all navigate the precarious precipice we collectively find ourselves on right now. Remembering the old ways is one of the surest ways we can sustain life in this new epoch of human history. Milla Prince, with whom I am teaching this class, calls it “old ways in a new age.” Wolf: On one hand, traditional/tribal medicine has always and regretfully suffered from cooptation and exploitation from outside their groups, making cultural appropriation a serious issue in need of addressing. On the other hand, DNA analysis makes clear that all of us humans are complexly sourced mutts to one degree or another, with most often hugely mixed ancestry, and cultural diffusion and incorporation is how humanity as a whole has learned to share values, art techniques, and the means for treating illness and wounds. Can you speak to this consideration and sometimes quandary? Amber: Yes, it is sticky terrain. The complexities are vast and each situation and person are different. There is a fine line between respectfully learning from other cultures in order to be a better healer and better serve the planet and its inhabitants and outright, mindless cooptation in the name of personal gain. These are important conversations to be having, and they are being had more and more every day in the herbalism community. I have no Ultimate Answers, but I will say that issues of cultural appropriation are yet another reason to look to your own ancestry for wisdom and guidance. Wolf: You taught a class at our Good Medicine Confluence on how to have safe as well as meaningful psychedelic experiences. You recognized their potential to shift the individual and collective consciousness and to aid the healing of conditions from addiction to PTSD. But in many cases potent plant and fungal agents like LSD, Psilocybin, and Ayahuasca are used frivolously and addictively themselves. How can those who so desire, get the most healing and transformational benefit from the


psychedelic journey, and relate to it as a powerful conditional medicine rather than a steady diet? Amber: As psychedelics move ever more into the mainstream and more Americans are becoming aware of their beneficial effects (after decades of governmental misinformation and fear-mongering), it’s important that people understand that these substances are not party drugs. A party atmosphere is basically the worst setting in which one could take a psychedelic. Bring beer to the party and save your mushrooms for a day at home or out in nature! Alcohol lends itself to a social and revelrous environment; psychedelics lend themselves to journeys inward and deep perception. The word psychedelic breaks down to its Greek roots- psyche (soul or mind) and delos (manifesting). So they are mind manifesting, soul manifesting substances. When a trip is undertaken with reverence for the substance, intention on the part of the participant, proper preparation beforehand and integration afterward, and the gentle presence of a trusted and knowledgeable guide, profound healing can happen. The science that was happening in the 60’s is being revived and greatly expanded upon today, and we know that psychedelics are incredibly helpful for addiction, PTSD, end of life anxiety in terminal patients, and so much more (like critical problem solving and couples therapy). When used properly, nothing else that I know of has societal and personal healing potential as vast and as deep as psychedelics do. They are truly medicines for these times. Stephen Harrod Buhner prefers the word “neurognostics”, which refers to their ability to allow the user to perceive new knowledge by rewiring neural connections. Shifting the way one is capable of thinking is huge! We tend to calcify in our ways of perceiving the world, to limit what we see as possible as we age. Psychedelics rearrange our neural connections and allow profound new connections to happen and growth to take place. On a larger, cultural

level, this sort of paradigm shifting catalyst is desperately needed right now. You said that these substances can be used addictively, and they certainly can. But I’d be remiss not to use this opportunity to point out that one cannot become physically addicted to psychedelics like one can to other drugs. If you take LSD for three days in a row you’ll experience no effects on that third day. There is a threshold point that other substances don’t have, and also they just don’t hook the body the way opioids or nicotine or other substances do. So the argument that some people make that they’re dangerous because they’re physically addictive is completely false. Wolf: Even the most spiritual or “magical” healing modalities benefit from the inclusion of critical thinking, research analysis, and informed use of actual plants. At the same time, an emotional or intuitive sensing is of great benefit to an intellectual understanding, augmenting “verifiable” data and a knowledge of plant constituents and actions. Why do you think a socalled spiritual approach is so often held out as opposing or transcending science, evidence and case histories, and even the value of utilizing actual and whole plants? What efforts do you feel you have to make to integrate and balance these in your work? Amber: I am often told that I balance the two approaches very well, but when confronted with your question I realize that I have no idea how or why. What I do know is that herbalism must and does encompass both. What you are calling spiritual here I would translate as “listening to what calls to the deep self”, and that really does blend seamlessly with a scientific approach. Say rose really calls to you, but what science and tradition say about rose tells you that it won’t address the physical ailment you need help with. Okay, so use rose more as a mythic medicine and then find another herb with the appropriate medicinal constituents that address your health issue as a physical medicine. It’s so easy to fall prey to the “either/or” delusion, but with herbalism (as with all of life) a


“both/and” approach is often much more appropriate. Herbs, like everything, operate on both a spiritual and a material level. They have alkaloids and other constituents that have physical, scientifically measurable effects on the body, and they have a wider consciousness that interacts with our wider consciousness. We can heal on all levels with plant medicine.

relationship with- mugwort, violet, and osha. I’m going to write about all three in the question below, so for now I will just say a few words about the magic of mugwort.

The key is to always seek out both. Many of us are so entrenched in the reductionist thinking of our culture that we immediately dismiss anything that even hints of spirituality or meaning-making. I happen to be embedded in a Northern California town filled with many folks of the opposite inclination- people who are so spiritually inclined that they disregard science and reason all together. I often see people discover spirituality and then completely abandon rational thought all together as they dive head first into the world of white Ayahuasca “shamans”, trust fund 20-year-olds calling themselves priestesses in their Instagram bios, and pyramid structured companies peddling “health” supplements. A purely reductionist mindset is depleting to the inner life and to one’s sense of meaning and connection, and a solely spiritual mindset can wreak havoc on one’s ability to discern falsehood from truth and healthy activities from not-so-healthy ones. So taking a step back from yourself to see which lens you are seeing through, and then playing with what this same thing might look like through the other lens, is vital. As the bumper sticker says- don’t believe everything you think (whether it be highly magical or highly rational!). Wolf: What are a few of your all-time favorite medicinal plants to work with, and why? Amber: Sometimes I ask myself the impossible question- which are my favorite herbs? If I could only use three herbs for the rest of my life, what would they be? It’s taken me years to distill my answer, and it could certainly change, but over time I have come to recognize the three plants that I have the deepest mythic and physical

Mugwort was my first plant medicine love. I wrote about this more in depth in my Story Medicine essay in PHM, but mugwort basically initiated me onto the plant healer’s path and has been a constant companion ever since. I see such ancient, wise, grandmother medicine in her, and this nourishes me in a profound way. Even the way mugwort grows in community- I often see old, dead plants bent over the fresh green shoots of new growth. It’s like the ancestor plants are blessing and protecting the babies as they find their way aboveground. I’ve even seen a brand new green shoot growing out the top of what looked like a completely dead stalk! Everyone can benefit from the bitter properties mugwort imparts, and I can’t think of a female bodied person who wouldn’t feel better after rubbing some mugwort oil onto her wombspace. Judith Berger writes that mugwort opens up ancient chambers of remembrance in the brain,


and that calling forth of deep ancestral wisdom is also something that would benefit everyone. Wolf: Can you describe any seldom known uses for otherwise commonly known herbs? Amber: After falling off a six foot high retaining wall with my then-five-week-old baby strapped to me (and- successfully- twisting my body in such a way as to protect her from the impact), eating mugwort seeds helped to reset my (already tender postpartum) pelvis in a way I hadn’t expected and had never read about before. It was a purely intuitive act- my husband had been out in the wild collecting seeds for the project I wrote about above (growing more native plants on our land so that we are less reliant on wildcrafting) and passed me a bag of mugwort seeds after returning one day. As soon as I smelled them I wanted to consume them. For the next week we kept some in small containers throughout the house, and I ate a few whenever I passed by. My recovery had seemed achingly slow up to that point, but within a few days I felt 100% recovered and the pain and stiffness was gone. Though mugwort’s affinity for the uterus is well known, this experience showed me that the entire pelvis can benefit from its use (I also used mugwort oil and moxabustion- burning a mugwort stick a few inches above my wombduring my recovery). My first real eye opening (make that ear opening) experience with discovering my own use for a plant was with violet flowers. In fact, this was the first herbal healing experience I ever had. I had done a plant meditation- a guided visualization- that I’d read about in a book. My first daughter was about a year old and finding time to myself was hard, so I read the

instructions a number of times during her nap and memorized them, then did the meditation after she went to bed that night. I imagined myself shrinking down, down, down to a microscopic size, and entering a violet plant. I’d fallen in love with wild violets in the year since I’d started studying herbalism, and they were in bloom outside my door at the time. It bears mentioning that said baby’s middle name is Violet. I travelled from the root of the violet, up her short stalk, and out to her heart-shaped leaves and sweet purple flowers. And then, she spoke to me. “Put me in your ears.” It was clear as day. I didn’t literally hear a voice, but those words came to me in my own. I got online the next day to look up uses for violet in the ears, but found nothing. Later that afternoon I took my girl outside and harvested violet flowers, then came back in and steeped them in olive oil. After a moon cycle, I strained the violets out and put the oil into a small dropper jar. That evening I put a few drops in each ear right before rocking and nursing and singing little Mycelia Violet to sleep, our nightly bedtime routine. As I sang my own made-up variation on a classic lullaby (I love doing that, substituting my own words to make the songs more magical and fun) my ears opened in a sudden and profound way that allowed me to hear my own voice in a way I never had before, in a way I hadn’t been hearing it only moments before. It was clearer and stronger. My ears were burning hot and tears were streaming down my face completely outside of


my control. I was trying my best to keep it together until my babe fell asleep, but I knew something big had shifted in my head. It felt GOOD. It felt right. And I couldn’t believe how dramatic a change it had brought about in so short a time. I don’t know exactly what happened that night, but I had long felt that my ears didn’t filter sound correctly. I had had numerous ear infections as a child and in college a doctor once told me that I had a ton of scar tissue on both sides. What I do know is that some sort of physical opening happened, as evidenced by the heat and the tears and the change in perception. Years later I noticed that Susun Weed briefly mentions violet flowers for sensory perception and for tinnitus in her book Healing Wise. I would love to hear more people’s stories! I still make violet flower oil and put it in my ears whenever they feel achy or off in some way. I also work with osha in a way that I haven’t heard other folks talk about. In my Story

Medicine essay for Plant Healer Magazine I wrote about paying attention to dream guidance and told the story of a powerful bear dream that I had. Reflecting on the dream over the next few days I realized that it was time to go back to one of my first plant loves, to osha root, to the medicine that gives energy and vitality to the bears who seek it out and seem to adore it. Because of its endangered status I had completely stopped using it for many years, but I went to our local herb shop and purchased a small amount (which is all they’ll let one person buy at a time). I kept it in a pouch hanging from the rear view mirror in my car, and would chew on a small piece whenever I was driving and the notion struck me. One day last year while I was driving my sleeping baby around I put a piece in my mouth and was immediately overcome with a huge grief wave relating to my mother’s sudden death a year before. It had been a few months since I’d cried about it, and I was absolutely sobbing and heaving and bubbling and mumbling out whispered prayers and words of love to her, keening over and over “I


love you” and “I miss you” (luckily I was on a lazy country backroad with no other cars around and could go about 10mph; all parents know you can’t just pull over when the baby is sleeping and risk a waking!). Through this whole release I was very aware of the taste of the osha and the tingling sensation in my mouth, and the feeling of opening in my throat and chest. I was feeling the osha opening this place where I was storing my grief. Though I had already spent thousands of hours crying thousands of tears, I see that conceiving a child so soon after her death (three weeks later) and plunging again into new motherhood did, in a way, push my grief to the side. It had been too long since I’d had a release. That was the first time that putting a piece of osha in my mouth stirred a torrent of tears up from the depths, but it wasn’t the last. The idea that grief and sadness lodge in the lungs/chest is an old one, and osha has an affinity with lung tissue, so it makes sense to me that this stimulating, warming, awakening herb would have this effect. Mythically speaking, bear reminds me of my mama and my mountain childhood, and on a wider level can represent the awakening of that which has been slumbering (and, of course, associating a plant with an animal in this way is a mythical act in itself!) Wolf: What do you believe are some of the most counterproductive habits, myths or illusions in herbalism today? Amber: This has been written about and discussed countless times, but the “this herb for that ailment” mindset seems to be what trips people up the most. Simply replacing a pharmaceutical or over the counter medication with an herbal remedy does nothing to address the root of the problem (lifestyle, beliefs, etc.), does nothing to bring the person into a deeper relationship with the natural world, and does nothing to bring the person into deeper

relationship with their inner self. All of these are necessary to true, long lasting healing, and a reductionist approach that does not build bridges between humans and plants is just placing a bandaid over a gaping wound. Wolf: As regulatory and economic threats to herbalism increase, there is a push from some quarters of the herbal community to make all practitioners more acceptable and mainstream, including in terms of dress, language, mannerism and approach... yet isn’t herbalism “alternative” by its very nature, an option to dominant paradigm: encouraging self help, lessening dependence on the pharmaceutical industry, its spirit of community service, embrace of bioregionalism, use of holistic thinking, and enthusiasm for the gifts and lessons of the natural world? Amber: In the bigger picture of human history herbalism is, of course, not alternative at all. It’s how people and animals have treated themselves since time immemorial. Stepping back and looking at the larger arc of time, we see that modern medicine is really the alternative to the human norm. AND that it is only the norm in some parts of the world; in many parts herbs are still the primary form of health care. It’s recently come to my attention that some online payment processors are shutting down shops that sell herbal medicines, categorizing them as “pseudo pharmaceuticals”. The absurdity of this is astounding, as the truth is that the pharmaceutical industry is based largely on creating pseudo plant medicines. So I am constantly aware of the fact that my online shop could get shut down at any moment. I follow all the FDA rules around labeling, have all the relevant legal info on my website, and even became an LLC this year to further protect myself. But none of that guarantees that some entity more powerful than I won’t shut down


my ability to make a living selling herbal medicines at any moment. Regulation, in our society, would basically mean the death of a thriving herb trade. The West is too fearful of plants, too ignorant of both the natural world and the workings of the human body, too prone to extremism and creating labyrinthine bureaucratic structures, to take a rational approach to regulation. So I believe that it’s important that herbal medicine not be regulated and be allowed to continue weaving its feral roots through the culture, bringing a healing and a remembrance of our wild souls back into the dead heart of Western society. I understand the desire to conform to the standards of the overculture in order to “prove” that herbs work and that herbalists are highly knowledgeable. I understand that some herbalists want the recognition and approval of society at large, and think that degrees and diplomas and certifications will help to normalize the practice of plant medicine. I understand the drive to have one’s work officially acknowledged as good and worthy by society. But regulation will only put a stranglehold on the intuition, creativity, and willingness to explore and experiment that are such vital aspects of the plant healing path. Wolf: Another motivation for the founding of Plant Healer, was the empowering and equipping of individuals of all kinds – not just practicing herbalists – to take responsibility for their own whole beings, and learn what they need to help heal not only themselves but our dis-eased society. What are some of the things that stand in the way of such self actualization, self empowerment, and action? Amber: I have a dear friend who was raised in a Northern European country, and sometimes I am just astounded at her innate sense of self worth and her confidence. It could just be good

parenting, but I was also raised by wonderful parents. It’s cultural. Here in America we are taught that experts are omniscient beings who know better than us, even about our own bodies and selves. So I see that a lack of confidence, bred into us from birth, is a huge impediment. (And, of course, this is much truer for women than for men. The overconfident, incompetent male and the under-confident, super competent female phenomenon is very real). I have people write to me that “I grow herbs and use them to treat my family and friends but I’m not an herbalist.” They think that because they don’t have formal training or a certificate of some kind that they can’t call themselves an herbalist. They hold back from bringing their medicines to market or from teaching others what they know. It’s the Cult of the Expert that strips the confidence they should have in their abilities. Even if you know this and can step outside yourself to see it in yourself, and even if you want to change it, it can be hard to do so. One thing that’s really helped me is knowing that no one gets where they want to be without stretching beyond their comfort zone, and that the discomfort we find when we stretch is not a signal to pull back again but a signal to keep going. Eleanor Roosevelt said, “You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” I’ve carried that line with me for many decades and it has helped me to overcome my self doubt many times. For example, I was definitely nervous to teach at the Confluence for the first time! There were so many amazing, big time herbalists teaching that I’m looking at my name next to theirs thinking “I don’t belong here.” But I know that they too have had to stretch themselves and take risks and do scary things to get where they are. They too were nervous when they started out. I’ve learned that I’m only fearful of that which I truly want, and that feeling the fear and doing it anyway is the only way I get to the next step on my life’s path. If it’s both terrifying and exciting, you should absolutely do it.


new ideas and happy to be proven wrong (because then we’ve learned something new and more accurate!). Passion can burn out. For me, it’s curiosity and an endless fascination with plants, ecosystems, and the human body that keep me going. Wolf: What are the most crucial things an herbalist or aspiring herbalist should remember, when giving their hearts and lives to this work, faced with obstruction and self doubt, worrying if they are doing either enough or well enough?

Wolf: What do we really need to know and do as Plant Healers, to feel worthy and accomplished in this important work? Amber: Ourselves. We need to know ourselves above all else, so that we can do the work that we are called to do, that we were born to do, without comparing ourselves to other herbalists or trying to fit a mold that doesn’t work for us. Wolf: How important to this work and mission is compassion, empathy, love and passion? Amber: My mom was the most compassionate, empathic, and loving person I’ve ever known. She wasn’t “spiritual”, she didn’t read any books or watch any TED talks about how to cultivate compassion, she just lived it every day. And her life was so rich, so full of happiness and laughter and people who loved her. She was a roulette dealer, a job that couldn’t be much further from herbalist, but those attributes served her in her work and everywhere else too. So I see compassion, empathy, and love as essential to a happy and fulfilled life, for herbalists and for everyone else. As for passion, I frame it more as curiosity. And herbalists tend to be very curious people. Very few of us are rigid in our thinking or have much ego around our beliefs; instead we’re open to

Amber: That no one can do it like you. That the plants whisper different secrets to each person who sits at their feet to listen, and that if you don’t sit there because of fear or self doubt then some essential knowledge might be lost forever. And that doing it for your own self or your family is enough. You don’t have to be Rosemary Gladstar or Matthew Wood to be a good herbalist. Millions of your ancestors used plants as medicines, and herbalism is your birthright just as much as it’s everyone else’s. Wolf: What do you love most about the folks attracted to herbs and herbalism? Amber: Their open-heartedness and compassion. Their drive to help others. Their non-competitiveness and open source attitude. Their wish to constantly be learning and growing. Their desire to overthrow outmoded dominant paradigms that cause injustice and ill health. Their commitment to land stewardship and the protection of wild spaces, plants, and animals. Wolf: Are there healers, writers or teachers who have especially inspired, informed or influenced you? And in what ways if so? Amber: Judith Berger’s book Herbal Rituals, which I stumbled upon in a used book store in 2007, completely changed what I saw was possible when it comes to herbalism. She took me deeper than the “this for that” approach that I had been shown. And she showed me that good writing is good medicine! Stephen Harrod


Buhner’s books have expanded the scope of my thinking in innumerable ways and reframed where I see myself embedded in the bigger picture of life on earth. Susun Weed’s Wise Woman approach and emphasis on gentle, simple, nourishing herbs as opposed to heroic, exotic, stimulating herbs was just what I needed as I moved toward herbalism and away from a job selling supplements to people in a health food store. This is a woefully incomplete list! I realized last year that many of my peers (age wise) have become just as profound teachers for me as the folks in the generations before me. Kiva, Milla Prince, Asia Suler, Sophia Rose, Vicky Salcido-Cobbe, and more have blessed me with their friendship and their knowledge. Overall, I am drawn to people who are not only herbalists but also writers, and the weaving together of those two medicines brings me the most nourishment and learning. Wolf: Tell us what you love most about living the Plant Healer’s life, the day to day elements, the things you sensually delight in, your sources of greatest satisfaction. Amber: I love that I take wild food/medicine into my body every day. I love thinking about how, over time, those plants are altering my cells (which were saturated entirely in processed food for the first half of my life). I love showing my daughters the abundance of plant friends surrounding us and the ways we can get to know them and sometimes use them. I love that going out wildcrafting and tending a garden gets me outside and off the computer and moving my body in deeply embedded ancestral motions that the conveniences of modern life have rendered obsolete (much to the detriment of our physical health). I love getting healthier as time goes on instead of the opposite, as happens for most people. I love that there is always more to learn. I love that the plants bring me more deeply into my center, bit by bit and day by day.

Wolf: Envision and describe for us your idea of an ideal future healing paradigm, either post-civ, or alongside the dominant system. Amber: I think about the asclepeions, the ancient Greek healing spaces named after their god of medicine, Asclepius. I daydream that one day we will have true healing centers with good food, herbal medicine (and allopathic medicine when needed!), beautiful spaces that are healing just to be in, an emphasis on rest and sleep and dreams (as at the Greek temples), and access to nature. Our modern hospitals can provide healing, but also provide an ideal breeding ground for infectious diseases, broken sleep, and nutrition that is almost laughably (if it weren’t so sad) the opposite of healing. I also envision a society with such places dedicated solely to psychedelic healing. Safe spaces with trained and compassionate guides. It’s silly to say that any one thing will “save the world”, but I can only imagine how different the society we’ve created would have been had everyone, at some point in their younger years, had a safe and sacred psychedelic experience. I can only imagine how radically different things could be if we provided that opportunity in the future. Properly taken psychedelics leave the indelible, deeply felt impression that everything is connected and that everything is holy. This imbues a sense of awe, wonder, compassion, and gratitude. The absence of these feelings, and the actions that absence allows people to make, seems to me to underlie that vast majority of the world’s problems. There is so much more to say here than I could ever write out! From ineffective pharmaceuticals with a horrifying list of side effects to physical spaces that can make illness worse just as likely


as better, healthcare in America needs to be almost completely dismantled and reenvisioned. Another ideal future scenario is everyone living lifestyles of prevention (good food, lots of movement, herbal medicines, economic and social equality) instead of the way we live now, which almost guarantees disease and discomfort in the body. Wolf: If there were but one other thought, experience, admonition, encouragement, or feeling to share here... what might that be? Amber: Keep following the mythic threads that call to your soul and bring you ever deeper into your unique ground of being. Find your ancestors, listen to your day dreams and your night dreams, pay attention to the myth and magic of your name/s, immerse yourself in the fairy tales and other stories that resonate in your bones, notice the meaningful synchronicities that

occur, and always follow after any plant that captures your heart. Know thyself, and you will be a happier, healthier person and a better healer as well. Wolf: We are so please to have you with us, covisioning and sharing a healing mythos that is at once ancient and contemporary, bridging the truths and magic of the earth-centered past and the future that is forever up to our kind to cocreate. Always let us know how we can help you. Amber: You and Kiva have been most kind and encouraging to me over the years, not to mention bringing me thousands of wise and healing words and ideas through your publications and conferences. Thank you so much for the guidance, inspiration, and the mountains of content to which I often send blossoming herbalists!


Many hundreds of hours of work go into the making of this and every Plant Healer issue, attending to the myriad of organizational and aesthetic details in order to provide the most enriching magazine experience possible. You are also looking at a total of thousands of hours worth of writing and illustration by our valued artists, photographers and authors, an outgrowth of over two centuries of combined experience.

This Issue of Plant Healer Is: Conceived & Created by Kiva & Jesse Wolf Hardin Magazine Design, Layout, Advertising, Editing, Captioning, Posters & Headers: Jesse Wolf Hardin Editing, Proofing, & Social Media: Kiva Rose Hardin

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Plant Healer Contributors Plant Healer Contributors In Alphabetical Order Sarah Baldwin is a writer and herbalist who grew up in the wooded hills of southern Indiana. She is the author of The Herbal Healing Deck, an oracle deck designed to help people access plant wisdom that features medicinal plants and their unique archetypes. Her natural wellness and metaphysical articles have been featured in various online and print publications, including Plant Healer Magazine, Branches Magazine, and The Herbarium. In 2010, Sarah spent a magical summer as an intern at Herb Pharm, where her heart was opened to the healing power of plant spirits. She has also learned from her myriad adventures in organic farming and gardening as well as creating a line of natural wellness products. As both a teacher and student of herbalism, she seeks to share the healing power of nature with others. She believes that deepening the


connection between humankind and nature will serve to heal both. With a love of nature and the green world, Sarah's interests in herbalism are both practical and spiritual. She views herbalism as not just a clinical practice, but a spiritual one. When she is not knee-deep in plants, Sarah enjoys practicing yoga, meditation, dance, and music. She seeks to keep her finger on the pulse of mystery and magic while always serving the Light to the best of her ability. Learn more about The Herbal Healing Deck or contact Sarah via her website at www.herbalhealingdeck.com. There you will discover her other offerings, such as plant spirit meditations, readings, events, and classes. www.moonflowersarah.blogspot.com. Juliette Abigail Carr is a clinical herbalist and the proprietor of Old Ways Herbal School of Plant Medicine (Newfane, Vermont), which offers hands-on learning in her Botanical Sanctuary forest classroom. Multiple levels of learning include beginner and intermediate courses, and a rigorous apprenticeship tailored to student interest in cultivation, medicine-making, and more. Clinical consultations specializing in the health of women, babies, and children are available, including fertility, pregnancy, and postpartum concerns. She writes a regular quarterly column for Plant Healer Magazine entitled “Heart & Hearth: Radical Home Herbalism,” as well as for numerous magazines and on her popular blog. She also works as an RNC-MNN at her local birthing center, and raises pastured heritage meats with her family in the grand tradition of multi- tasking Vermont farmers. Sean Donahue is a highly neurodivergent wild forest creature (possibly a woodwose or a faerie giant) who lives in a yurt at the edge of a village at the foot of Pahto (Mt. Adams) on traditional territory of the Yakima Nation near the Washington/Oregon border. He is an herbalist, a poet, a teacher, an initiated priest of the Blackheart line of the Feri Tradition of witchcraft, and a reluctant revolutionary. He is the co-founder of the Portland School of Herbal Wisdom, and a member of the faculty of the School of Western Herbalism at Pacific Rim College in Victoria, BC. He is a columnist for Plant Healer Magazine and a frequent contributor to the Gods & Radicals website. See: http://www.seandonahueherbalist.com and https:// www.facebook.com/seandonahueherbalist/ Astrid Grove is a midwife, herbalist and ceremonialist. Her passion for herbs began as a teenager in Vermont and has since wandered through Massachusetts, New York, Maine, Florida, Washington, California and now Colorado. She has gathered much knowledge the last 20 years from her teachers, mainly the plants, and also wise herbalists (mainly Susun Weed) and her clients. She works mostly with women, with the core belief that a culture where women are tended to and cared for will be healthy and strong. She has taught at several conferences and centers including the Wise Woman Center and the Northern California Women's Herbal Symposium, and will be offering two classes at the Good Medicine Confluence in 2018. Her most exciting endeavor currently is as co-founder of Red Earth Herbal Gathering- The Women's Herbal Gathering of the Mountain West. Learn more at: www.redearthherbalgathering.com.  You may also visit her personal website at: www.astridgrove.com. Shana Lipner Grover is a clinical herbalist, health educator, field botanist, ethical wildcrafter, medicine maker and forever student of life and wonder. Shana is the director of Sage Country Herbs Botanical Apprenticeship in north county San Diego, a field based ecology, botany and native plant medicine school specializing in making our nature our classroom. She has also taught 350 hours of herbal medicine and nutrition programs at Healing Hands School of Holistic Health over the last 10 years. After completing numerous botanical medicine schools, like Columbines School in Eugene Oregon and the SWSBM with Michael Moore in Arizona, Shana found she loves to teach! You can find her at a variety of herbal symposiums and conferences like the Good Medicine Confluence as well as higher learning institutions such as Bastyr University and CSULA. She has a clinical practice in southern California with a focus on educating and empowering clients to be personally responsible for their health. Sage Country Herbs also has a high quality product line by the same name specializing in effective internal formulas and topical herbal


preparations like liniments, deodorants, lip balms and salves. Come out on a plant walk with Shana and experience how the world can open up when you can see the interconnectedness of physiology and nature! Jesse Wolf Hardin is a long acclaimed ecosopher, author, ecological and social activist, artist, musician, historian – a champion of both human and bio diversity, as well as of nature’s medicine. Wolf was a leading voice of and for the natural world for over four decades, coining the term “ReWilding,” He has been a featured presenter at hundreds of conferences and universities, and was the creator of cross cultural ecospiritual collaborations appropriately called “Medicine Shows,” melding his powerful spoken word with live music. Wolf is the author of over 600 published articles in over 200 different publications, and over 20 books, his work earning the praises of luminaries such as Gary Snyder, Joanna Macy, Ralph Metzner, and Starhawk. His early titles ≠ Full Circle (Llewellyn Pub.), Kindred Spirits, and Gaia Eros (New Page Press) – were followed by his trilogy for healers The Plant Healer’s Path covering the core whys and hows of herbalism, The Enchanted Healer focused on heightened awareness, the senses, plant spirit and the spiritual heart of healing, and The Healing Terrain on sense of place, lessons, the healing power of nature... plus an inspiring historical novel The Medicine Bear, a book of herbs and empowerment for kids I’m a Medicine Woman Too! (Hops Press 2009), and The Traveling Medicine Show: Pitchmen & Plant Healers of Early America. His work is featured in The Encyclopedia of Nature & Religion (Continuum 2005), The Soul Unearthed (Tarcher/ Putnam, 1996) and How Shall I Live My Life? (PM Press 2008). Many of his books are available on the Plant Healer Bookstore page,while his most recent writings can be found both in the colorful quarterly Plant Healer Magazine that he created with his partner Kiva Rose, and in the free Herbaria Monthly that you can subscribe to on their website. As Terry Tempest Williams tells us, “Wolf’s voice inspires our passion to take us further —seeing the world whole — even holy.” For more information and opportunities, go to: www.PlantHealer.org Anna Marija Helt is an herbalist in Durango, CO. Before falling in love with herbalism (and mushroomism), she earned her doctorate at the University of Washington School of Medicine and focused on cancer and infectious diseases. Burnout hit, she dropped out of research and ran a motorcycle cafe while studying Western Herbalism, aromatherapy and a small dose of Traditional Chinese Medicine. She eventually sold the cafe and moved to Durango to be a full time plant geek. Marija has a small clinical practice and teaches locally, as well as every year at the Good Medicine Confluence. She prefers weeds, mushrooms and only the most abundant native plants as her allies. Her goals are to introduce herbs to folks who aren’t already on the bandwagon and to empower clients with herbal traditions augmented by a critical evaluation of herbal research science. You can read her quarterly “Fungi & Friends” column in issues of Plant Healer Magazine. Kristin Henningsen is a clinical herbalist, yoga therapist, writer, & educator, who first fell in love with plants in the desert southwest. There she was inspired to complete her graduate work, researching the Ethnobotany of the region. In addition to studying Native American herbal medicine in the Southwest, she has worked in academia and for non-profit organizations in the field of botanical research all over the country. Her passion has always been bringing this medicine to the people, however, integrating Western Herbalism, Traditional Chinese Medicine, and Ayurvedic practices to empower those who are seeking a healthier path. Although she has been inspired by many herbalists along the way, some of her primary teachers have included Phyllis Hogan, Michael Moore, & Michael & Lesley Tierra. Currently she serves as faculty and clinician for the Vermont Center of Integrative Herbalism, Kaplan University’s School of Health Sciences, and adjunct faculty for UMass-Amherst, teaching a variety of courses on clinical herbalism and holistic health. She has been researching, writing, and teaching about medicinal plants for over 15 years. Look for her wandering through the woods, kids and dogs in tow. More at: www.banyanmoonbotanicals.com Phyllis D. Light is a practicing herbalist and health educator with over 30 years of herbal experience. She is traditionally trained in Southern and Appalachian Folk Medicine and began her studies with her Creek/ Cherokee grandmother in the deep woods of North Alabama. Phyllis continued her studies with her father


and other Appalachian elders, such as Tommie Bass, as well as studies in conventional Western biomedicine. She holds a Master's of Health Studies degree from the University of Alabama. Phyllis is Director of the Appalachian Center for Natural Health, offering herbal and natural health classes in north Alabama as well as an online program. She is a professional member of the American Herbalist Guild and a licensed massage therapist. Phyllis travels and teaches classes in integrative medicine and herbalism at universities, hospitals, and symposia across the country. She is currently secretary of the American Herbalist Guild, president of the American Naturopathic Certification Board, and board member of Old Spirits, New Lives, a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving Indigenous knowledge. Above all, Phyllis devotes herself to building a bridge between traditional knowledge and modern-day science; to help hold sacred the traditional herbal and healing knowledge that has been handed down from generation to generation while embracing the relevant scientific knowledge of today. Please see: www.phyllisdlight.com Kat MacKinnon is a certified clinical herbalist and nutritionist, as well as a certified Bach essences practitioner through the North American Institute of Medical Herbalism, studying from Paul Bergner in the Vitalist tradition. She is also a Registered Herbalist through the American Herbalists Guild. She currently works as the Botany course director, as well as faculty and student services coordinator for the Fundamentals and Advanced programs at the Colorado School of Clinical Herbalism in Boulder, CO. Kat has her own small clinical practice and runs a small endeavor, Meet the Green, through which she teaches classes on herbalism and primitive skills. She also has a blog, Discover the Green, on botany, herbal medicine, and any other information on plants she finds interesting. She approaches both teaching and working with clients from a vitalist perspective, constantly looking to cultivate all levels of an individual’s being. Though a transplant from the East Coast, Kat has a passion for working with the herbs nearest to her. Having studied forestry at Northern Arizona University, the plants, animals, and incredible harsh beauty of the Southwest are one of the great loves of her life. Between teaching and working, she spends her time wild crafting and running in the mountains, gardening in the lowlands, and medicine making in between. Her other interests include art, trying not to take things so darn seriously, primitive skills, gardening, and generally geeking out on the natural world with people. www.meetthegreen.com Jade Alicandro Mace has always been a plant person, but her entry into the world of herbalism came byway of botany and ethnobotany. When she learned in her early 20’s that herbalism was alive and well, and not just a thing of the past, she left her seasonal life doing botany field work in the inland Pacific Northwest and moved back to her native Northeast to take her first herbal apprenticeship at Blazing Star Herb School in Ashfield, MA. This apprenticeship focused almost solely on the Wise Woman Tradition and, although she has gone on to study other branches of herbalism (especially Vitalism), the love for the wild and weedy and the power of kitchen medicine deeply resonated with her, and informs her work as an herbalist greatly. In 2012 she founded a weekly, low-cost, sliding scale, community herbal clinic, and has been in clinical practice since- health justice is close to her heart! She prefers to work with locally abundant plants whenever possible, and teaches a class series and apprenticeship in bioregional herbalism of the Northeast. She has also been an herbal educator with Herb Pharm since 2015. From 2013-2017 she owned and operated her own medicinal plant nursery, and gardening and growing medicine is another passion. She has studied at the Northeast School of Botanical Medicine, the Gaia School of Earth Education, the Commonwealth Center for Holistic Herbalism, Blazing Star Herb School, and Clearpath School of Herbalism. Jade makes her home with her partner and 2 children on a tiny mountain in rural western Massachusetts. Learn more about her work at www.milkandhoneyherbs.com. Jenny Solidago Mansell is a heritage wildcrafter and community herbalist. Her business, Prairie Herbcraft, focuses on teaching ethical foraging and bio-regional herbalism on the red dirt plains of Oklahoma. She teaches in the tradition of the Wise Woman Way and considers a deep heart connection with the earth an integral part of her life and herbal practice. She learned wildcrafting from her grandfather as a child and as an adult has apprenticed with Jackie Dill of Oklahoma Wildcrafting. She holds certificates from Rosemary Gladstar's Science and Art of Herbalism and The Herbal Academy. She has invested over 20 years into


herbal study, research, and experimentation and is her own favorite guinea pig for all manner of herbal preparations. Jenny enjoys spending time with the plants daily and sharing their love and healing with others. Her website is www.prairieherbcraft.com. Dr. Kenneth Proefrock graduated from Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in 1996. He and his family live deep in the desert of Arizona with numerous reptiles, amphibians, ducks, chickens, horses and goats. Prior to naturopathic medical school, he received degrees in Chemistry and Zoology from Northern Arizona University and worked as a Research and Development/Quality Assurance Chemist for Procter & Gamble. For the past 20 years, he has conducted a very busy Naturopathic medical practice in Surprise, Arizona. He is also sole owner and formulator for Vital Force Naturopathic Compounding, which provides consulting services and a wide variety of unique and effective compounds for other Naturopathic Physicians and their patients. He speaks at conferences across the country sharing his perspective on the modern practice of Naturopathic Medicine. Kenneth is also the Vice-President for the North American Board of Naturopathic Examiners, the chairperson for the biochemistry portion of the Naturopathic Physician's Licensing Exam, and co-founder and current President of the Naturopathic Oncology Research Institute (NORI). In his spare time, when such a thing really exists, he can be found in the desert with his kids, honing his skills in primitive archery, gardening, home-brewing, wildcrafting, reading and writing poetry and studying obscure and old texts on spiritual matters, healing, and philosophy. For more information please see the Vital Force Naturopathic Compounding & Total Wellness Medical Center website. Laurie Quesinberry, a generational digger and mountain woman, is steeped in the traditions of Appalachia wildcrafting. Her walk with the plants began at the skirt strings of great-granny as she gathered medicinals for the local doctor and ended up in the mountains of SW Virginia where she found solace among the forest and the plants that live there. Laurie’s unique perspective towards commercial wild harvesting started as a poacher, and evolved into the role of plant- and land-steward. Today, she’s working to breathe new life into old traditions, while preserving a path for the future by promoting sustainable harvesting methods for “At Risk” plant medicine. As an entrepreneur, Laurie is working to create a value added line of products featuring sustainably harvested Ginseng. More than a business, Laurie’s special connection with the plants, especially Ginseng – which she lovingly calls Ginny Seng – guides her work. Laurie understands the delicate balance that exists on her mountain, and dedicates her time to saving plants while motivating others to plant at-risk habitats. With a deep passion, Laurie is a voice for the mountain, and shining light into a once hidden world. bearsmountain.com Dara Saville is the founder and primary instructor of Albuquerque Herbalism and the Director of the Yerba Mansa Project. The Albuquerque Herbalism program takes a bioregional approach to herbal studies and combines classroom instruction with hands-on medicine making and field experiences in wild places and cultivated gardens to connect people to plant-based healing and general well-being. As Director of the Yerba Mansa Project, she coordinates an all-volunteer endeavor to restore native plants in the Rio Grande Bosque and provide educational outreach regarding the importance of native plant communities. Dara is also a regular columnist for Plant Healer Magazine, writing on topics relating to Southwestern landscapes and their medicinal plants as well as the interconnection between people, plants, and wilderness. Dara has a Bachelor’s degree from New York University and a Master’s degree specializing in Geography of the Southwest from the University of New Mexico. She is also a graduate of Dr. Tierona Low Dog’s Foundations of Herbal Medicine Program and has apprenticed with several New Mexico herbalists. The rest of her time is dedicated to homeschooling her 2 sons, hiking the mountains and desert valleys around her home, and maintaining her own wild-spirited medicinal herb garden. www.albuquerqueherbalism.com Lisa Valantine, creator of Serene Cuisine and True Food Beauty, was born and raised in southern California. Early experiences of time spent in the kitchen with her grandmother, as well as years of travel and living abroad, informed her relationship with food and over the years a unique food style and expression began to


emerge. Continually fascinated by the relationship between food, our microbiome and beauty, Lisa not only creates beautiful and healthful food for cherished clients, she also creates beauty products that specifically nourish, hydrate and protect the skin against premature aging. When not cooking, hiking or foraging you will find her photographing her latest concoctions for her posts on Instagram. Susun S. Weed has no official diplomas of any kind. She left high school behind in her junior year in order to pursue studies in mathematics and artificial intelligence at UCLA, then left college in her junior year to pursue life. Susun’s study of herbal medicine began in 1965 while living in Manhattan, pregnant with her daughter Justine. Her worldwide teaching schedule encompasses herbal medicine, ethnobotany, pharmacognosy, psychology of healing, ecoherbalism, nutrition, and women's health issues and her venues include medical schools, hospital wellness centers, breast cancer centers, midwifery schools, naturopathic colleges, and shamanic training centers, as well as many conferences. Susun’s first book, Wise Woman Herbal For The Childbearing Year was published in 1986, the first of many Ash Tree Publishing titles, followed by Healing Wise (1989), New Menopausal Years The Wise Woman Way (1992, revised 2002) and Breast Cancer? Breast Health! The Wise Woman Way (1996). She also trains apprentices, oversees the work of more than 300 correspondence course students, coordinates the activities of the Wise Woman Center, and is a High Priestess of Dianic Wicca. Susun Weed is a contributor to the Routledge International Encyclopedia of Women's Studies, peer- reviewed journals, other periodicals including SageWoman, and her quarterly column here in Plant Healer Magazine. Angela Willard became a Clinical Herbalist through the Wild Rose College of Natural Healing in 2005. She has since practiced as an Herbalist through many avenues including consulting, growing herbs, wildcrafting, and co-creating the Harmonic Arts Botanical Dispensary. Angela actively adds herbal and health tools to her basket of wisdom by continually upgrading her knowledge with a strong focus on women's health and wellness. Her love for the sea has also lead her to exploring and understanding the deep underwater world of Seaweeds, which you will often find her teaching out and about in the community. Sharing information that empowers people to live with integrity and reach their highest potential is a true calling, one which fuels her on her path. She balances her time between raising a young family and nourishing her passionate purpose as an Herbalist. Discover what Angela’s been up to on her Harmonic Arts website, and search the site’s blog to learn more about what she shares. Matthew Wood has been a practicing herbalist for more than 30 years, with an MS in Herbal Medicine from the Scottish School of Herbal Medicine.. He is the author of 6 books on herbal medicine. He lives in Wisconsin after many years in Minnesota, and has often taught at Plant Healer events. See: WoodHerbs.com Jereme Zimmerman is a writer and traditional brewing revivalist who lives in Berea, Kentucky with his wife Jenna, daughters Sadie and Maisie, and herds of wild yeast that he corrals into his various fermentation creations. He writes for various homesteading, green-living and sustainability magazines, and is a popular speaker, presenting and workshopping across the country on topics such as fermentation, natural and holistic homebrewing, modern homesteading, and sustainable living. He is the author of Make Mead Like a Viking (2015) and Brew Beer Like a Yeti (2018). Read more on his website: Jereme-Zimmerman.com

And special acknowledgment goes out to you, our special readers, without whom there would be no Plant Healer Magazine, and no Plant Healers to keep these vital herbal healing traditions alive.


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Plant Healer Magazine 31 Summer 2018  
Plant Healer Magazine 31 Summer 2018