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“Take a breath, it’ll help!” You’ve heard it before. But what if breathing is difficult or constrained? Breathwork is the answer. Breathing is like any other movement: there are ways to build efficiency and resilience through practice. Simple exercises can get you breathing deeper, and give you a visceral massage or “inside yoga”. And there are her…
 
Whenever we choose herbs for health issues, we work to match the qualities of the herbs to the state of the body. These three plants we work with as herbs for seasonal allergies are each drying in nature. So, if you run dry or have dry symptoms, then make sure to pair them with something moistening like marshmallow or violet. But if you’re on the w…
 
Herbal tattoo care starts a while before your appointment. You’ve got to prepare the skin in advance, get hydrated, and ideally do a little work to keep inflammation down in the lead-up time. You want that skin to be in the best possible shape before you get work done. You might even want to get some test spots done, if you have very reactive skin.…
 
Today’s episode is a little different from our usual. We’re sharing a listen-along plant sit meditation! You can take this episode with you to sit outside with a plant, and we’ll guide you through the meditation practice. Plant sit meditations are an excellent way to develop your powers of observation and your awareness skills. Plants have a lot to…
 
Have you heard that black cohosh is “for menopause”? Or that red clover is a “natural estrogen replacement”? Or that saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) is “for men” or “for BPH”? Herbs are not gendered, and they’re not “for” conditions. They have qualities and actions, and they act in context – the context of each individual body. Herbs act on particula…
 
Ground ivy (Glechoma hederacea), also known as alehoof, creeping charlie, and gill-over-the-ground, is one of our favorite herbs to gather in early spring. We like to prepare a tincture of it in brandy, and we work with it for troubles in the ear-nose-throat. It helps a lot with tinnitus and with difficulty hearing that comes from stagnant fluid in…
 
Herb of the Month is one of our most powerful learning methods for students of herbalism – and honestly, it’s great for experienced practitioners too! It’s deceptively simple: just choose an herb and work with it extensively every day for a month, in as many ways as you can come up with. At the same time, research the herb as far and wide as you ca…
 
We’re discussing the notion of amphoteric herbs today, because it’s the Spring equinox and we’re thinking about balance. The term amphoteric is orginally a chemistry term meaning “having characteristics of both an acid and a base”. Herbalists use the word to mean an herb that has a balancing activity, one that is capable of acting in ways that seem…
 
In this episode we share a simple technique for enhancing herbal salves with tinctures. Lots of herbalists like to put essential oils in their salves, and we’re no exception – but we also want to have other methods for increasing potency. Essential oils can be costly, and they have sustainability issues in a lot of cases. Combining alcohol extracts…
 
We’re lucky that nowadays there are a lot of herb suppliers, so it’s convenient to purchase the majority of your herbs – especially if you live in a place where you don’t really have space to grow a garden. But there’s something really special about working with herbs that you’ve grown yourself. And, some herbs are really quite easy to grow – like …
 
This week we’re sharing a formula for an herbal cold sore remedy – a soft salve or balm that can be applied right on the sores. It’s going to serve as a jumping-off point for discussing flexible formulation. That’s the answer to the question “what can I do if I don’t have one – or any! – of the herbs in the formula as written?” If you can answer th…
 
When you go to the store and buy an herbal supplement, what are you getting? It might be a capsule of powdered herb, but this is less and less common nowadays. An herbal supplement is usually some type of extract from the plant – and we herbalists make lots of extracts ourselves, like teas, tinctures, salves, etc. The difference is in the methods a…
 
The “wellness” space online is saturated with One Weird Tricks and Simple Easy Solutions that promise to make you perfect. Perfect hair, perfect skin, perfect body fat percentage – all this and more for 5 easy payments of $39.99… it’s a trick. Even when it’s sincere, when people really believe they’ve found the one thing that’ll work for everyone, …
 
When you’re dealing with a skin problem, it’s good to come at it from both directions: internal and external. Today we’re focusing on the external remedies, highlighting some of our favorite ways to work with topical herbs for acne. Steam is a great way to deliver aromatic herbal constituents to the whole surface of the face, and as the warmth open…
 
When you think about where to find excellent herbs, where does your mind go first – the forest? The farmer’s market? Ye Olde Herbe Shoppe, perhaps? Let us make a suggestion: you can find a bunch of great herbs at the supermarket! Grocery store herbs are nothing to sneeze at (but if you can’t stop sneezing, consider a basil steam). You can find herb…
 
An herbalist’s dog is going to get some herbs in her dinner every now and then. Our dog Elsie sure does! Choosing herbs for dogs doesn’t need to be complicated or difficult, and there are a lot of them that can help a pup feel her best. In this episode we highlight four herbs we give to our own puppa: Seaweeds for nourishment, joint support, and im…
 
It has been a rough few… weeks? Years? Well, a while, anyway! In the last month more than ever, people have been asking us how to get some space, how to find ways to feel grounded, how to find some calm. So we thought, maybe it would be good to share the things that we are doing to get through the days. Being an herbalist doesn’t mean you never get…
 
In this episode we explore the skills and disciplines necessary to conduct a successful self-experiment. Self-experimentation in this context might mean making changes to dietary, lifestyle, & movement habits; developing stress management skills; or trying out herbal medicines. First we address why and how self-experimentation can fall into self-ju…
 
This week we take another look at COVID-19 and its long-term effects. First, we check in on what have been our top 5 herbal interventions for COVID: Herbal steams – with aromatic herbs, to fight infection and stimulate local immune activity in the respiratory tract Garlic & thyme tea – for a strong immune-stimulating and lung-warming effect Elecamp…
 
Dreaming matters: it’s a critical part of our identity-building and experience-processing work, and vital to our ability to regulate our emotions. But not all dreams are good. When nightmares happen, especially if they happen chronically, they can make dreaming itself feel unsafe. But never fear: when we need help we can always turn to herbs, and n…
 
Yes, they are herbs too! Medicinal mushrooms are an important part of our herbal practice, but it looks like we haven’t profiled them on the podcast before today – so it’s time to correct that lapse. In this episode we’ll look at some of the key activities of four of our favorite fungi: shiitake (Lentinula edodes), maitake (Grifola frondosa), reish…
 
Samhain, Halloween, the death of the year – this is a good time to talk about grieving, and about how herbs and grief can go together. It’s a universal human experience, but one we don’t often allow ourselves to experience and explore, because it is painful and difficult. It can often seem like there are only a few ‘approved’ ways to move through a…
 
This week we listened to a talk by a Buddhist teacher about mantra chanting practices, and one particular facet of their purpose: to be a mental reset or redirection, a way to get a hold of your mind when it’s spun up & agitated. It inspired us to think about herbs as mantras, as mind tools – which herbs are, just as much as they’re physical suppor…
 
Maintaining a sharp & healthy mind has always been one of the things people ask us about most often. Whether it’s a nagging difficulty recalling words, or a tendency to forget why you walked into a room – or more seriously, a relative showing early signs of dementia – lots of folks are wondering if there are herbs for cognitive decline prevention. …
 
When thinking about how to start working with herbalism for respiratory ailments, you might get really focused on WHICH ailment it is, and which herbs are “good for” that ailment. As herbalists, though, we don’t work with diagnoses; we work with what we see. So whether it’s a cold, bronchitis, or asthma, we’ll respond to what we see, hear, and feel…
 
Our emotions part of our health just as much as our physical organs & system. When we have difficulties like anxiety and depression, we can draw on practices in holistic herbalism for emotional support. Even when we know what’s causing us to feel stress, often there’s little or nothing we can do about it. When the stressors are systemic or unavoida…
 
Digestive issues are extremely common, and are one of the leading causes of missed work and reduced quality of life. The good news is, herbs can help! There’s much relief to be found in the study of herbalism for digestive discomforts. For each individual person, digestive issues can manifest a little differently, even if the causes are the same. V…
 
Everyone gets hurt sometimes. Knowing how to take care of injuries at home is an excellent skill to have. You can prevent a minor injury from becoming something serious with a few simple steps: stop the bleeding, clean & disinfect, then help the healing process. Bringing in herbalism for wound care support is going to be a major boost to this proce…
 
In August we're going to re-air some episodes we think may be helpful given everything going on right now. We'll return to our Accessible Herbalism series at the end of the month! Things are complex, and there are many factors. But guru syndrome is bad for the teacher and for the student, both. And believe it or not, active measures are required if…
 
In August we're going to re-air some episodes we think may be helpful given everything going on right now. We'll return to our Accessible Herbalism series at the end of the month! Katja shares a hard-fought lesson: that health is not equivalent to merit, and that as herbalists it’s important for us to stay away from idea that there is A Right Way a…
 
In August we're going to re-air some episodes we think may be helpful given everything going on right now. We'll return to our Accessible Herbalism series at the end of the month! This week we're airing a replay, but it's one you may not have heard yet even if you've followed our podcast from the start. That's because this episode originally aired …
 
In August we're going to re-air some episodes we think may be helpful given everything going on right now. We'll return to our Accessible Herbalism series at the end of the month! This week we're running a replay of episode 014 from February 2018. Adaptogens are marketed as a solution to stress, burnout, hormonal imbalances, and a lot more. They ca…
 
In August we're going to re-air some episodes we think may be helpful given everything going on right now. We'll return to our Accessible Herbalism series at the end of the month! This week we're running a replay of episode 032 from June 2018. Katja this week reflects on a bit of wisdom surrounding downtime, and on the ways in which stress manageme…
 
We work with herbs for sleep improvement purposes very frequently, because sleep is so critical to good health. During sleep, your body works through a to-do list, including: detoxification, hormone ‘balancing’, wound healing, muscle growth, immune surveillance, fat burning, clearing inflammation, cleaning wastes from the brain, and even mood regul…
 
“Pain is a signal to change your behavior.” This motto comes from our friend the herbalist Tammi Sweet, and perfectly sums up the holistic approach to working with herbs for pain. Something’s gotta change! In this episode we’re particularly focusing on recurring & chronic pain, but these strategies help acute pain as well. What we want to do is thr…
 
The holistic approach to herbalism for weight management doesn’t start with a search for “fat-burning herbs”. Instead, we focus on building health first & foremost. As we build good health, losing weight becomes easier and more permanent. In this episode we’ll explain why it’s hard to lose weight – there’s an evolutionary, physiological basis for i…
 
Edema is stuck fluid: stagnant blood and lymph that isn’t flowing the way it should be. Puffy ankles and swollen fingers are just two ways this might show up for someone. It’s not just cosmetic – stagnations like this impair wound healing and healthy cellular function, and can put strain on the heart and kidneys. Fortunately, there are many common …
 
Diabetes is very common and can lead to a number of serious health issues. Holistic methods can improve diabetes by correcting what’s wrong at the source: too much sugar in the blood. These methods will include making changes to the diet – reducing sugar and refined carbs, getting more vegetables – as well as building more movement into your day. W…
 
High blood pressure and high cholesterol are two very common cardiovascular issues that you can safely improve with herbs. You can reduce your risk and improve your resilience with inexpensive medicinal plants and foods. These safe, abundant herbs can help release stress-induced tension, reduce fluid retention, and protect against the inner damage …
 
What do we want to build in place of the unjust systems we are living in? Everyone plays a role in deciding. Let’s do it consciously. The role of herbalists and of herbalism in mutual aid is to share knowledge, skills, and materials – and there are lots of ways to do it. Community care systems have lots of moving parts, lots of places you can contr…
 
America is blanketed in righteous protests against police brutality and impunity. This is necessary. In the course of this work many people are being traumatized, whether through direct violence or by observing violence inflicted on their friends, comrades, and communities. Herbs can’t solve systemic racism, but they can support recovery and build …
 
Our model of the primary determinants of health is the Four Pillars: food, sleep, stress, and movement. These things are in our individual control – or at least, that’s how we think of them and talk about them, most of the time. But the truth is, there’s a fifth pillar, and it can directly impact how an individual person eats, sleeps, and moves, as…
 
The pharmaceutical model is the dominant paradigm for medicine in our culture. For those of us who grew up in this culture, it shapes our expectations of what medicine is and how medicine works. Everyone is susceptible to this, including herbalists and students of herbalism. Even if, in the front of our minds, we recognize the limits of a drug-orie…
 
Finding a tick embedded in your skin is distressing, even without the spectre of Lyme disease and other tick-borne pathogens. But if you find one after your next hike in the woods, don’t panic! A simple herbal tick bite protocol like the one we outline in this episode can put your mind at ease and give your body the best fighting chance. Herbs disc…
 
Happy mother’s day, 2020! The truth is, any herb could be an herb for moms, because not all moms are alike, in their needs or their preferences. These four, though – linden, dandelion, yarrow, and violet – are really worth knowing and sharing with the mothers in your life. These plants are abundant, so you know you’re being sustainable and responsi…
 
The battle’s done, and we kind-of won… Well, actually, the battle’s not entirely done either. But things are certainly shifting into a different mode. So, here are our top five everyday things you can do to stay healthy as this pandemic shifts into a new phase. Eat good food. Get more sleep. Move your body. Get herbs into your everyday life. Do an …
 
The pandemic has got all of us in a heightened state of alert. The news changes fast, stories come and go before we can fully process them, and every day there’s another set of statistics that are hard to mentally translate into real human lives. It’s stressful. Even if we’re not actively doomscrolling through Twitter, this background noise of fear…
 
Last week we urged you to look at learning herbalism like learning a language or instrument – something that requires daily practice. This week, we’re sharing some specific practices you can do to build your herbal skills on a daily basis! You can take lessons in herbalism, and study to learn – but the key here is, a little bit each day is better t…
 
Herbalism is experiential: you have to DO it to KNOW it. It’s like learning to play a musical instrument – you’re going to sound bad at first! That’s necessary. If you refuse to play anything that isn’t perfect, you’ll never play anything. In herbalism, if you wait until you know everything there is to know, or until you’re 100% sure “it’s going to…
 
It’s not just coronavirus, there’s a lot going on right now! Between the usual circulating strains of flu, some spring colds, and the stirrings of allergy season, plenty of folks are feeling rough. But it’s up to all of us to reduce strain on the medical system right now, so it’s more important than ever that we learn some herbal home nursing basic…
 
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