Archive for August, 2012
Posted by|31 August 2012
It has taken me a long time to truly appreciate Frankincense essential oil. But that uniquely resinous, citrusy aroma is easily in my top 10 favorites now. The combination of balsamic undertones and spicy citrus top notes is quite lovely and almost hypnotic. No wonder the resin has been prized as ceremonial incense for thousands of years!
This pale yellow oil is distilled from the resin found under the bark of the Boswellia cartarii tree. You can also find B. serrata and B. sacra oil on the market. It has many common names as well, and you may see it labeled as “Olibanum” or “Boswellia oil” from time to time. The oil feels smooth to the touch, and evaporates slowly.
Frankincense tears are widely recognized as an incense. The oil is known topically as an antioxidant and astringent in skin care preparations, and for its anti-inflammatory and expectorant properties. Frankincense is also utilized as a unique fixative in the fragrance and perfumery world, because of its light aroma usually associated with top notes.
Frankincense blends well with citrus and spice oils, cypress, geranium, rose, sandalwood, and ylang ylang to name a few. Combined with Clary Sage essential oil, the blend creates an amber-like aroma.
To learn more about Frankincense Essential Oil visit our “Learn More” link.
Next month, look for tips on blending essential oils!
Posted by|30 August 2012
A handful of red clover blossoms (Trifolium pretense) rests piled on the picnic table, in anticipation of our afternoon sun tea. How wonderful it is to indulge in the glow of summer sunshine.
Posted by|29 August 2012
With a fierce commitment leading the way and many dedicated employees, Mountain Rose has successfully implemented a number of aggressive policies to lessen our environmental footprint. Our ambitious Zero Waste policy plays a large role! Thanks to the hard work of our Zero Waste Team, led by Master Recycler, Troy, we are able to make use of virtually all of our company waste.
After introducing our Zero Waste policy, Mountain Rose Herbs went from producing 3,300 gallons of waste per month, to 80-100 gallons per month. This is a huge reduction when you consider that 80-100 gallons is the standard amount of waste produced by a family of four. With 130 employees and four facilities, we’re pretty proud of this accomplishment!
Sadly and far too often, “garbage” tossed into landfills is just an accepted part of life. Through our Zero Waste program, Mountain Rose Herbs hopes to eliminate waste completely. To accomplish this goal, all potential waste is evaluated for recycling, compost, and reuse.
How do we turn waste into resources?
- Used paper hand towels are collected for composting at a local facility
- Office paper, press board, and scrap paper is recycled
- Metal and plastic drums are cleaned for re-use or recycled
- Oil from our bulk vegetable and carrier oils is collected for bio-diesel salvage
- Electronic and computer components are taken to a local facility for salvage and disposal
- Tin, steel, and aluminum is sorted for collection
- Break room and staff waste is composted
- Scrap plastics are reclaimed by a local facility to be melted down into saleable material
- Scrap metal, steel, and iron is collected for melting
- Cardboard and pressboard is recycled
- Wood and unusable pallets are sent to be chipped for landscaping materials
- Botanical refuse material is collected for composting at local nurseries
- Styrofoam is sent to a re-claimer for re-use in shipping computers
- Essential oil is collected for natural pest control products and natural weed killers
These are just a few procedures in place through our program. We want to follow the cycle of the natural world, which produces no waste and utilizes all resources to support life on our precious planet.
How do you reduce waste where you live and work?
Posted by|28 August 2012
These stories come to us from the spectacular herb, fruit, and veggie gardens created at home by folks here at Mountain Rose. Plant-lovers prepare to feast your eyes, have a laugh, and maybe shed a tear of sweetness for the tales shared below. Special thanks to our awesome staff members Carol, Peggy, Ashlee, Karla, and Elvira for these wonderful gifts…
. . . . .
Carol ~ Director of Human Resources
In my Mountain Rose profile, I say that I grow everything from apples to yucca. As there’s too much to name or picture here, I’ll just say that I’m an eclectic gardener growing both food and medicinal plants. I don’t bother with Latin names and I don’t pay attention to soil pH. My partner kindly calls my style “haphazard”. My motto is, “Let’s poke ‘er in the ground and see what happens” ~ which is also what I want on my tombstone!
. . . . .
Peggy ~ Purchasing Manager
Tomatoes….I never understood the unbridled enthusiasm that other folks had for this vegetable. My grandma and my mom used to pour over the seed catalogs in the dead of winter looking at DRAWINGS of tomatoes that they wanted to TRY to grow. DRAWINGS! I never could understand their behavior. Let alone the fact that we lived on the Oregon Coast where the wall of cold, gray fog was constant, and nothing grew if you lived in town where the fog hung through most of the summer. Tomatoes, to me, were ornamental, red, tasteless additions to salads.
After I re-married and moved to Oakridge, my husband Pat said, “let’s grow some tomatoes this year!” and I thought okay, I will try it even though I have NO experience getting them to grow. We planted four varieties of tomatoes in our front yard in a spot that had sun all day. My husband watched the tomatoes with childlike fascination as they grew. He told me all about tomato sandwiches, his favorite late summer meal that his mom made for him growing up. Hmmm…a sandwich with tomatoes only…I wasn’t too sure about this! Pat explained how you thickly slice the freshly picked tomatoes, place them on some really great whole grain bread with mayo and sprinkle with black pepper. I still couldn’t get my head around the “tomato only” scene.
To my surprise, the tomatoes grew and grew and grew. We finally picked our first harvest and Pat ran into the house to make my first sandwich. He made it with great excitement and sprinkled the black pepper on the tomatoes as the finishing touch. With much skepticism, I took my first bite…what was that? The flavor was astounding. It must be the fancy black pepper I brought home from work. I took another bite. The bread maybe, since it was a different kind than we usually buy. But no, it was not the pepper or the bread – it was the TOMATO! I couldn’t believe it! All of a sudden I wondered which variety was this? I ran outside to see the plant marker… Brandywine…whew….okay, I will need to remember this. No, WAIT… I need to learn ALL of the varieties of tomatoes! All of a sudden the tomato world became clear to me. Looking at drawings of tomatoes in the seed catalog…even the song Home Grown Tomatoes that John Denver joyfully sang to us one summer at the state fair, well, it all made sense to me now!
That first summer of tomato sandwiches will always be one of my favorite memories with Pat. We ate sandwiches, made spaghetti sauce, and salsa. My grandma would be so proud. My mom is thrilled because when they visit Oakridge during the summer they can park their camper right next to our tomato patch and eat to their heart’s content.
Yep, I am a gardener and I grow tomatoes. I wait impatiently for my seed catalog with DRAWINGS in the dead of winter!
. . . . .
Ashlee ~ Store Accounts Manager
Here are some photos of my lovely garden that we started in May. There is something so special and amazing about growing your own food. The love, time, and effort you put in, you most certainly get back when harvest time comes. We’ve been reaping some sweet rewards for a few weeks now. One of my favorite parts of growing veggies and fruits is being able to share with family and friends.
This year we have cucumbers, onions, carrots, assorted greens, watermelon, raspberries, strawberries, yellow squash, zucchini, pumpkins, corn, assorted peppers, and tomatoes. Ours is an all organic garden with no herbicides or pesticides of any kind used to help us along, just a lot of love and attention.
My love for plants started at a very young age on my grandparents’ property just off of the southern Oregon coast. There, my grandparents taught me the importance of utilizing the land and being self sustainable. They gave me pumpkin seeds and assorted flower seeds to plant myself at the age of three. All summer I patiently waited and watched as they grew. For them, it was a beautiful experience to share with their first grandchild, to see my reaction and excitement of watching these little plants grow. For me, this experience would lead to a lifelong passion that I will always hold near and dear to my heart. Now that both my Granny and Papa are passed, I carry this love and knowledge with me to share with future generations in hope that they will pass this love and passion along too.
. . . . .
Karla ~ Customer Service
My love of gardening started during childhood. It connects me to our Earth and the cycle of the turning years.
I learned by working beside my grandparents in their large backyard garden every summer. As an adult I’ve utilized whatever space I’ve had, large or small, to participate in the cycle of planting, growing, harvesting and resting.
My current garden started as a heavily shaded tangle of ivy, blackberries, weeds, and lots of very large rocks covering a dense clay soil. Digging, pulling, and chopping through the mass has provided sufficient room for a variety of vegetables, herbs, and flowers.
With the creative use of space, intensive companion planting, and my husband’s knack for turning recycled lumber into raised growing beds, our efforts are rewarded with a wonderful bounty.
Fresh, frozen, canned, and dried, our kitchen is well provided for from our own backyard. This year’s harvest includes, among others, beans, peas, tomatoes, potatoes, leeks, corn, eggplants, and artichokes, as well as culinary and medicinal herbs.
In winter the soil will rest, composting will return to the Earth what it gave us, and the cycle will begin again in spring.
. . . . .
Elvira ~ International Farms Manager
The last submission is a beauty! Here is a stunning collage featuring a mere handful of the plants grown on Elvira’s organic homestead, where she tends hundreds of medicinal herbs, ornamental flowers, fruits, and veggies, as well as a flock of happy chickens.
Posted by|27 August 2012
It’s been a little over a week and you still haven’t slept through the night or eaten a decent meal. That same sad song has been on repeat for days now, becoming the only shoulder you want to lean on as tears fall. Memories of time shared together haunt the hours and fog your thoughts. There seems to be no escape from the heaviness of loss. No way around it, but straight through the ugly shadows of ache without any comfort in sight.
Some relationships become so important to the core of our identity and our connection with the divine that our internal world shatters when they end. We are left with pain and longing, confusion and obsession – maybe even the agonizing hope that what’s happening isn’t really happening.
Breaking up isn’t an isolated event or an ephemeral experience. It takes a long time to untangle one life from another, and the slow transition alters your course. Becoming separate from your partner can feel like a death, and truth be told, heartbreak is simply grief in disguise: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and with some time, acceptance. Throughout this natural grieving process our stress hormones can increase, causing all sorts of unwanted effects from general despondency to full on panic attacks. We lose the sleep and nourishment we need to heal, leading to emotional exhaustion, muscle tension, and lowered immunity against viruses and infection.
“Herbs can help us through the stages of grief by calming nerves, quieting upsetting thoughts, relaxing muscles, stimulating healthy digestion, boosting the immune system, and encouraging deep, restful sleep.”
Turning to alcohol or sleeping aids may be a common path for someone during times of heartbreak, but relying on these alone to self-medicate can quickly take a toll on the body and mind. Pushing yourself into patterns of dependency, when self-care is really what’s needed, can invite chronic grogginess, dehydration, emotional numbness, digestive upset, cognitive instability, susceptibility to illness, isolation, more insomnia, and magnified worry. Alcohol and pharmaceuticals are strong band-aids that may hide the wound, but they certainly won’t heal it. Fully surrendering to grief and allowing yourself to experience the transformation is essential to finding wholeness again.
Thankfully, there are plant allies growing all around us that support our whole being without causing harm. While herbs won’t make the pain or sadness disappear, they will make the grieving process endurable – allowing you to transition to a stronger place, faster and healthier. Herbs can help through the stages of grief by calming nerves, quieting upsetting thoughts, relaxing muscles, stimulating healthy digestion, boosting the immune system, and encouraging deep, restful sleep. They work to strengthen the body’s innate coping abilities and can carry you through the day-to-day with less suffering and fragility.
The Many Helpful Herbs…
For the herbs below, I like to make tinctures and teas, along with the occasional syrup. These herbs can be combined into a customized formula, or used individually as needed. For tinctures, two to three dropperfuls is usually sufficient. This is a gentle yet effective mode of healing that works with the body, rather than overpowering it. Calming herbs like Skullcap and Valerian should never make you feel drugged, and if they do, take a smaller dose next time.
Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora) is my favorite calming herb for any stressful situation, but it’s especially helpful for grief. Skullcap stops the cycle of circular thoughts and unshakable emotional tension. Take this plant as a tincture or a tea when you just can’t stop thinking about the breakup and your former love. You will feel the haze of obsession melt away and clarity return, allowing you to focus on work, school, or hobbies that bring you pleasure or much needed catharsis. Skullcap also eases debilitating sadness by softening nervous edginess and relaxing tight muscles. It’s great for headaches that accompany a long cry. The bitter flavor helps encourage hunger and stimulates digestion, which can become sluggish during times of stress. Plus, Skullcap is nutritive to the nervous system and can be taken daily to restore and strengthen your response to stress in the future. This is an herb that everyone should have in their medicine chest.
Valerian root (Valeriana officinalis) is a wonderful and potent sedative herb for most people when sleep seems impossible. I like to take 3 to 4 squirts of the tincture on sleepless nights or sip on a cup of Fidnemed Nighttime Tea. Within minutes, I am in a deep sleep and feel well rested the next morning, not dazed or hungover. This herb can be taken along with Skullcap for the added benefit of quieting obsessive thoughts before bed. For some people, however, Valerian can have the opposite effect, causing more worry and stimulation. If this happens to you, Valerian is not the right herb to use and Hops or Skullcap alone can be taken instead.
Hawthorn berries (Crataegus monogyna ) are recommended by the magnificent herbalist Rosemary Gladstar as an all-purpose tonic for the heart, both physiologically and emotionally. Rosemary says, “Hawthorn helps the heart flower, open, and be healed,” while also gently stimulating or slowing its activity as needed. These berries have a high concentration of antioxidant bioflavonoids and taste nice too. Take as a tincture, tea, syrup, or jam.
Elderberries (Sambucus nigra) offer gentle immune boosting properties to help you combat colds, flu, and other sicknesses that can creep in when the body becomes stressed. They taste delicious and can be used as tea, tincture, or syrup.
Rosehips (Rosa spp) are the fruits produced by roses. They provide one of the highest concentrations of vitamin C in the plant world, even boasting levels many times higher than citrus fruit. This is another wonderful immune supportive herb that tastes similar to tart cranberries. They can be used in teas, syrups, and jam.
“The wound is the place where the Light enters you.” ~ Rumi
The most important thought to hold in your mind during this time of change is that losing love creates space in life for possibilities to grow and for new love to enter. So, hang in there with an open heart and a grateful spirit. Opportunity is just waiting to flow into your world.
“Heart Be Well” Immune Support Syrup Recipe
This is the perfect immune boosting and heart lifting formula to support your health through heartbreak and grief. You can add a teaspoon of syrup to Skullcap tea each morning, drizzle it over pancakes, ice cream, or just take it straight by the spoonful. It’s easy to make and tastes wonderful. Take a teaspoon or two daily to support your heart and immune system during times of heartache.
3 cups cold water
½ cup organic Elderberries
½ cup organic Hawthorn berries
¼ cup organic Rosehips
¾ to 1 cup raw local honey
1.5 ounces brandy or Skullcap tincture (optional preservative)
Combine herbs with cold water in a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and allow herbs to simmer for 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from heat and mash the berries in the liquid mixture. Strain the herbs through cheesecloth and squeeze out the juice. Measure the liquid and add an equal amount of honey. Gently heat the honey and juice for a few minutes until well combined, but do not boil! Stir in brandy or tincture if you’d like and pour the finished syrup into sterilized glass bottles. Label and keep refrigerated for up to 6 months.
Further recommended reading:
Can’t Get You Out of My Head by Howie Brounstein
~ ErinOriginally published by Sadie Magazine. For educational purposes only This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
Posted by|24 August 2012
We have added two books from the award winning author Stephen Harrod Buhner. One of the leading voices in promoting the benefits of herbal medicine, Stephen is the author of fifteen books on nature, indigenous cultures, the environment, and herbal medicine. His work has appeared and been profiled in publications throughout North America and Europe including Common Boundary, Apotheosis, Shaman’s Drum, The New York Times, CNN, and Good Morning America. Stephen lectures yearly throughout the United States on herbal medicine, the sacredness of plants, the intelligence of Nature, and the states of mind necessary for successful habitation of Earth.
Ancient beers were quite different from what we know today. This beautiful and provocative exploration of the sacredness and folklore of ancient fermentation is revealed through 200 plants and hive products. It includes 120 recipes for ancient and indigenous beers and meads from 31 countries and six continents, and the most complete evaluation of honey ever published.
This essential guide to building your natural defenses against drug-resistant bacteria is an important book for anyone interested in natural health care. Stephen Harrod Buhner offers conclusions that plant medicines should be our first line of defense against resistant infections. His indispensable reference explains the roots of antibiotic resistance, explores the value of herbal treatments, and provides in-depth profiles of the most reliably effective herbs, giving you the confidence to identify the best herbal formulas and make medicines yourself.
You can find these books and the many other titles we offer by visiting our Books page.
Posted by|23 August 2012
Here’s a fresh beaver chew we found during one of our Mountain Rose River Project outings!
So nice to take the office outdoors and steward our wild Oregon ecosystems. We’ve posted a bunch of new photos from the last few clean-ups, restoration, and tree planting events we organized. Head on over to our Facebook page to check out the Mountain Rose River Project photo album!
Posted by|22 August 2012
Mountain Rose Herbs is a proud supporter of the Organic Growers School, a truly inspiring non-profit!
This wonderful organization is passionate about advancing organic agriculture and promoting sustainable living in the beautiful Southern Appalachian region. They provide organic growing skills, valuable education, and unique networking opportunities to people in hopes of beginning or enhancing their own sustainable agriculture system. For those of you who live in the Carolinas, we highly recommend connecting with this stellar non-profit!
The Organic Growers School Annual Conference is quickly approaching and we couldn’t be more excited! Mountain Rose Herbs will sponsor this weekend event, which is filled with over 70 exciting workshops and networking opportunities near Asheville, North Carolina. These informational workshops include a variety of interesting topics and attendees will have the opportunity to learn the basics of vegetable gardening, baking delicious bread, saving on home energy expenses, and even learn how to raise a herd of goats!
The 20th Annual Spring Conference is scheduled for March 9-10th, 2013.
We hope to see you there!
To learn more about the Organic Growers School and the important work they do, please visit: http://www.organicgrowersschool.org.
Posted by|21 August 2012
Oh, beautiful Lavandula!
A favorite among gardeners, perfume makers, crafters, and herbalists throughout history, Lavender enchants us with its whorled spikes of gorgeous purple flowers and unmistakable calming fragrance. Nurturing a deep obsession for this endlessly helpful plant is quite understandable, and Sarah Berringer Bader has turned her obsession into a life journey.
With a 5 acre lavender farm just south of Portland, Oregon boasting 5,000 plants, and her new Lavender Lover’s Handbook detailing 100 different varieties, growing guides by region, troubleshooting tips, uses and recipes, the plant’s history, and more, she’s certainly become a Lavender expert.
This book is a true treasure for anyone wooed by lavender’s charms. Large full color photos grace nearly every page, displaying the amazing rainbow of diversity in this genus. From white and speckled to pastel pink, hot magenta to dark blue, bees and passersby alike would surely enjoy these eye-catching, aromatic plants in any hedgerow or garden.
Now, admittedly I’m crazy about Lavender, but the surprising variety of species and colors throughout these pages mesmerized me. As did the wealth of information Sarah provides. She recommends specific varieties to use for different projects like wreath-making, culinary recipes, flower bouquets, and huge garden “statement” plants. She also covers how to grow lavender from seed, soil preparation, proper pruning, harvesting techniques, and common pests.
After Timber Press sent a copy of the book for me to review, I had the pleasure of meeting Sarah at the Mother Earth News Fair in Puyallup this June. A sudden waft of lavender in the air announced her presence at our booth before she even said hello. Brimming with the happy and soothing spirit of her favorite subject, she merrily offered a few of her wonderful recipes from the book to post along with this review! With lavender flowering in triumphant rows all around town, now is the time to harvest and start making some of these fantastic creations…
Lavender Lover Recipes!
Lavender All-Purpose Cleaner
The word lavender comes from the Latin lavar, meaning to wash. Long before the antimicrobial properties of lavender were discovered, it was used in solutions for bathing and housecleaning. Now you can add it to an all-purpose cleaner made from common household ingredients to impart a pleasing aroma and all the disinfectant benefits.
2 tbsp white vinegar
1 tsp borax powder
10 drops organic lavender essential oil
5 drops organic lemon essential oil or 1 tsp lemon juice
1. Mix the white vinegar and the borax together in a 16-ounce bottle. Fill the bottle ¾ full with hot purified water. Shake well until the borax is dissolved.
2. Add the liquid castille soap and the essential oils to the solution and shake well. Use as you would any other all-purpose cleaner.
Simple Lavender Syrup
Makes 2 cups
Simple lavender syrup is an easy and delightful infusion that enhances just about any drink. Pour some in lemonades and teas. Add a shot to your next margarita or cosmopolitan. Most recipes call for one ounce or one shot of lavender syrup per eight ounces of beverage. Adjust the amount you use according to taste. It will transform your beverage from average to exceptional. This recipe is borrowed from Sharon Shipley’s The Lavender Cookbook.
1 cup distilled or filtered water
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons whole organic lavender buds
1 strip lemon zest
Boil the water in a small saucepan and add the sugar. Stir constantly until the sugar is dissolved. Add the culinary lavender buds and the lemon zest and allow the mixture to steep, uncovered, for about 30 minutes. Strain the mixture through a fine-screened colander or cheesecloth. Lavender syrup will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Lavender Chocolate Truffles
Makes about 3 dozen
Lavender chocolate truffles are a hands-down favorite and are usually gone within the hour!
6 ounces heavy cream
1 tablespoon organic lavender flower powder
6 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped fine
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled to 90F
Cocoa powder, 1 rounded teaspoon for each truffle
1. Over medium heat, mix the cream and the lavender together and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and strain immediately into the chopped chocolate in a small mixing bowl. Let the mixture sit for 5 minutes without stirring. After 5 minutes, stir until the chocolate is completely melted and the ganache (chocolate mixture) is smooth. Cover the ganache with plastic wrap and chill until firm, about 2 hours.
2. Line a baking sheet with parchment or waxed paper. Scoop balls from the ganache with a melon baller dipped in powdered sugar. Quickly firm the balls between your palms and coat in the melted bittersweet chocolate. Roll in the cocoa powder to finish.
3. Place the truffles on the prepared baking sheet. Chill until firm, at least 2 hours. Truffles can be made 2 weeks ahead. Store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Dust them once more with cocoa powder before serving if needed.
Book details and ordering info can be found here: The Lavender Lover’s Handbook by Timber Press.
Posted by|20 August 2012
We are so excited to share our new interview with the wonderful Kiva Rose, and to announce that she will be guest blogging for us seasonally! Her beautifully written articles marry the personal with the scientific, lore with experience, offering untamed and fresh insight. Herbalist, wildcrafter, artist, and storyteller, Kiva Rose lives in a canyon botanical sanctuary within the Gila Wilderness of New Mexico. She is also the co-director of the Traditions In Western Herbalism Conference, held each September in the mountain Southwest, coeditor of Plant Healer Magazine, and publisher of the just released historical novel, The Medicine Bear by Jesse Wolf Hardin, and maintains an herbal blog, The Medicine Woman’s Roots. Enjoy the interview…
1. Can you recall the moment you realized that herbalism was your calling?
I have been fascinated by the plants my entire life, from early childhood on. As soon as I realized that herbalism was still a viable vocational choice in my very early twenties, I entirely gave myself over to it. My first herbal medicines were made when I was about ten years old in my bedroom with thyme and sage grown in my own herb garden, and infused into vinegar. This along with the instruction of an older Hispanic woman on my block on how to make Yarrow poultices for my scraped up knees, were my introduction to the actual practice of herbalism. So, I don’t know if there was a single moment, it’s been more like a series of moments that’s guided me toward this incredible community and work that I love so much.
2. Who have been your teachers along this path?
I’ve learned from many people, although I have never completed any formal studies. My primary teachers and mentors have been Michael Moore, Jim McDonald, 7Song, and Charles Garcia, and all have guided in me in my clinical practice, and to a deeper understanding of the plants themselves. I’m extremely grateful for the diversity present in Western herbalism, and the resources available to all of us! The teachers of the herbal community spend much of their lives giving to others, and deserve much credit for the great service they do for all of us.
Of course, the plants themselves have also been teachers to me as I’ve learned from and about them. Learning from traditional systems of medicine how to understand the core nature and energetic tendencies of each medicine through sensory input like taste and scent has been a huge part of my herbal education!
3. What has been the most influential herbal book you have read and why?
Oh, that’s a hard one! There are so many, but I think that perhaps Michael Moore’s Medicinal Plants of the Mountain West was what really gave me a foundation in bioregional herbalism, triggered my love of botany, and pushed me toward a deeper understanding of physiology. I also have to say that the books of Matthew Wood and Jeremy Ross have had a very significant impact on me personally and the way I practice.
4. How has living in the Southwest influenced your herbalism?
I’ve been interested in herbalism since I was a small child, and have been learning about the plants for my whole life… but it wasn’t until I came to the SW that the plants began to speak to me in a louder, more insistent, way. This is the land on which I learned to heal my own hurt body with local herbs, and this is where I have most deeply studied the mystery, art, and science of botanical medicine, so my practice and relationship to the plants is very much grounded in this specific bioregion. I’m very much a botanist and wildcrafter at heart, so it’s especially important to me to be intimately connected to the land I live with, and I can’t imagine anywhere more beautiful and diverse than the canyons of southwestern New Mexico.
5. As a lover of plant folklore, what is one of your favorite herbal folktales and why?
Ah, there are so many that I love, but some of my favorite are where the plants play actual characters in the story, with or without words. This can be seen in The Juniper Tree as well as in tales of Elda Mor, the spirit of the Elder Tree. Another facet of this is found in Northern European tales of the Huldra-folk, especially those who have hollow tree trunks for their backs, or other plant-based body parts. I’m so enamored of this topic I actually just wrote an entire article on fairytales and folklore in herbalism for the upcoming issue of Plant Healer Magazine. Storytelling is its own special kind of medicine, and one very important in herbalism, where so much has been passed down orally, and often in the context of anecdotes and tales.
6. What do you consider to be the most important aspect of making plant medicine?
For me, the most important is the relationship with the plants, the particular kind of intimacy we can foster between plant and person. This connection is, in itself, often very healing, and can help to fill the void that is created by separation from nature. Along with this intimacy comes a specific kind of attention and focus required by all stages of plant medicine that can teach us infinitely more about the plant and its medicine than simple book knowledge.
7. Are there certain herbs that you work with regularly – either within your practice or personally?
There are definitely specific plants that I work with more frequently than others, and have a deeper alliance with. One of these is our local species of Wild Rose, Rosa woodsii, whose ability to ease anxiety, cool excess heat, and even reduce bacterial infection, has made it an invaluable medicine in my practice. From gut healing teas to mood modulating elixirs, our sweet smelling native rose is one of my favorites.
Another favorite is Alder, a little known medicine whose cooling lymphatic, alterative, and anti-infective actions make it a great first aid medicine. Peach is another, and I always carry Peach leaf/twig elixir with me because of its powerful and multi-faceted medicine. From histamine response from insect stings/bites to nausea to anxiety and tension, it’s a great one to have on hand!
8. With all of the social, environmental, and ethical concerns surrounding healthcare today, what are your hopes for the future of herbalism?
I hope to see herbalism become ever more diverse, effective, and accessible, for the practitioner, client, and people who buy herbal products. One of the great strengths of American herbalism lies in its great diversity, and talent for improvisation when face with a need, and I want to support and encourage this in any way I am able. Alongside this diversity, I very much hope to see a growing awareness of impact we have upon this precious planet, and more education on how to practice our craft in a sustainable way that gives back to the land rather than simply taking from it. I’m thrilled to see more urban gardening and foraging happening, as well as more and more herb schools teaching ecology and ethical harvesting alongside botany, herbs, and physiology.
9. Can you tell us about the Traditions in Western Herbalism Conference happening this year? We are so excited to sponsor again!
This is TWHC’s third year, and we’re absolutely amazed by the incredible support that the herbal community has given this project. Our focus is very much on community and facilitating the accessibility of herbal medicine… in other words, this conference is about the medicine of the people, which is exactly what herbs are! TWHC is both a celebration and an educational intensive, we have days packed full of amazing classes by teachers like Matthew Wood, Paul Bergner, and Aviva Romm, with our evenings immersed in amazing music and company at the Medicine Shows. Our class list is very much dominated by classes that focus on practical uses of herbs, in the home or in the clinic, for all levels of herbalists, from medicine making to working as a street medic to specific therapeutics. There’s also an emphasis on the people-plant relationship, as shown in classes like Paul Bergner’s How To Sit With a Plant, and How To Sit With A Patient, Nicole Telke’s workshop on Weedcrafting, and even the class taught by I and my co-director, Jesse Wolf Hardin, on bioregional herbalism. Each year just seems to get better, and I can’t wait for this one!
10. What is Plant Healer Magazine and how did it begin?
Plant Healer Magazine is a full-color quarterly digital journal with a focus on the culture, art, and practice of herbalism. In each nearly 300 page issue we include therapeutics, case studies, monographs, historical herbal perspectives, recipes, traditional and wild foods information, activism, botanical art, interviews with notable people in the herbal field, and much more!
We originally began Plant Healer as a way to keep in touch and keep giving to the community that formed around the Traditions in Western Herbalism Conference, and now it’s grown far beyond that! Plant Healer has subscribers from all over the world now, reaching all the way to China, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, New Zealand, Finland, and beyond. At this point, our goal is to provide a resource and hub for those who are studying and/or working in herbalism, especially those looking for an in-depth look at the science, art, culture, and practice of herbal medicine. Like TWHC, it’s incredible that the magazine just keeps getting better thanks to all of our contributors!
11. Are there any other exciting projects on the horizon for you?
I have a new Medicine Woman multimedia course nearly ready to be released, as well as my first herbal book to be released this coming Spring in both hard copy and ebook format. I’m also in the midst of getting the word out about a new historical novel by my partner in crime, Jesse Wolf Hardin, about a mestiza Medicine Woman, the book is called The Medicine Bear, and is set in the American Southwest of the early 1900’s. It’s an incredible story, and full of period illustrations, original artwork, and of course, tons of herbal lore and information. It’s garnered excellent reviews from herbalists, curandero/as, and literary-minded folks so far, and I’m so excited to see where it will go from here.
12. Do you have any tips or advice to share with budding herbalists?
Above all, foster your passion for the plants and their medicine! Never let obligation, exhaustion, or feelings of being overwhelmed obscure your original love and excitement about the subject. Healers need to nourish themselves every day in some way, and to make self-care a primary priority. This can seem selfish to some, but honestly, if we’re too burned out to enjoy ourselves, how will possibly be able to care for others in an effective way?
Another is to avoid giving in to feelings of intimidation. We can all learn basic botany, anatomy, physiology, and herbalism in a way that can help us maintain the well-being of ourselves and our families. It can seem scary from the outside, especially for those of us raised thinking we’re not good at science, but in reality, a good teacher and excitement can make it possible for any of us to grasp the basics of herbalism. Plants as medicine is the birthright of all humans, and one ingrained into our very cells and bones… it’s the work of a lifetime, and yet has the potential to heal us right now, moment to moment as we learn and progress.
13. Is there one herb that you feel especially connected to, and if so, in what way?
While there are a number plants I feel closely allied to as medicine, the closest is our native Wild Rose, Rosa woodsii. It’s a native plant common to much of the American West, and I love its rambling, brambly ways just as much as I adore its sweet scent, sour hips, and incredible medicine. Perhaps because of its beauty, the Rose’s healing properties are popular yet often underrated in modern herbalism, but I find it to be a profound nervine, anti-inflammatory, anti-infective, and tissue healer, in addition to its other traits. I certainly wouldn’t want to be without it! I also value the Rose for its thorns, the lessons of boundaries and self-protection inherent in such wickedly curved weapons. The Wild Rose is generous but with clear boundaries, abundant but wild, sweet but multi-faceted. I am forever finding new lessons to be learned from this plant and feel connected to it through both shared traits as well as the ways in which we’ve worked together to provide healing in so many people.
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Posted by|17 August 2012
Time to stock up those spice cupboards with your favorite certified organic seasoning blends!
Select bottles of our Epicurean Organics Seasonings are now on sale for 50% off. Get ‘em while supplies last, and check back because we’ll add more blends to the list over the next couple of months.
Some of the current seasoning blends on sale include our Cajun Spice, Chili Powder, Mediterranean Seasoning, and Mexican Seasoning. Each blend is packaged in an attractive recycled glass bottle with a metal lid and shaker top. You can check out our Featured Products page to view a full list of items on sale, or our Epicurean Organics Seasonings page for a complete list of our tasty organic seasoning blends!