Author Archive

Preserving Biodiversity in Disappearing Rainforests

Posted by Friends|18 June 2014

We are so excited to have a guest post by Brian McFarland of featuring the Purus Project in the Amazon! Because we source our organic acai berry powder, catuaba bark, pau d’arco bark, and other products from Brazil, we understand its global ecological importance as a carbon sequestration area for the world. 

Since 2011, Mountain Rose Herbs has worked with to offset our company-wide carbon dioxide emissions and help fight climate change. We wholeheartedly support their mission to reduce what you can, offset what you can’t! Every year, we calculate our carbon footprint by accounting for the electricity and heating fuels we use in production, and estimate the greenhouse gas emissions of our business travel. Find out more about what you can do to reduce and offset your carbon footprint as an individual or business! 


Preserving Biodiversity in Disappearing Rainforests

Tropical deforestation is a global problem. It is responsible for approximately 15-20% of the human-caused greenhouse gas emissions, reduces habitat availability for a tremendous amount of biodiversity, and further threatens the livelihoods of forest-dependent communities. With this in mind, only 2% of the world’s total surface area is home to rainforests, yet these ecosystems are home to 50% of the world’s plants and animals. Shockingly, according to The Nature Conservancy, “every second, a slice of rainforest the size of a football field is mowed down. That’s 86,400 football fields of rainforest per day, or over 31 million football fields of rainforest each year.”

Because of the support of our generous donors including Mountain Rose Herbs, the Foundation created its wholly-owned subsidiary, CarbonCo, to design, finance, implement, and manage large-scale forest conservation projects. Our projects help mitigate this trend of tropical deforestation while also preserving precious rainforest habitat and providing alternative economic opportunities for local communities. These projects, known as Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) projects, are essentially payment for ecosystem service projects which rely on the sale of verified emission reductions (VERs), commonly known as carbon offset credits.

As of today, CarbonCo has several REDD+ projects in the Western State of Acre, Brazil which are protecting more than 700,000 acres. To help visualize how large these projects are, consider that 700,000 acres is the equivalent to approximately 1,100 square miles. This is almost as large as the entire state of Rhode Island (1,545 square miles), about the size of the urban area of Paris, France (1,098 square miles) and more than twice the size of New York City (470 square miles).

The Southwestern Amazon, specifically along the Purus River in the State of Acre, Brazil, is home to our Purus Project. This forest conservation project covers approximately 85,714 acres and achieved validation and verification to the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) and to the Gold Level of the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Standard (CCBS) for the Project’s exception biodiversity benefits.

The Purus Project is located within one of the World Wildlife Fund’s ecoregions which represent “the most distinctive examples of biodiversity for a given major habitat type.” The Project achieved exceptional biodiversity benefits because during a rapid biodiversity assessment from August to September 2009, at least two endangered species according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List were identified at the Purus Project. These endangered flora species are Car-cara (Aniba rosaeodora) and Baboonwood (Virola surinamensis).


Preserving Biodiversity in Disappearing Rainforests

Preserving Biodiversity in Disappearing Rainforests


Anecdotal observations of biodiversity on or next to the Purus Project include:

Scarlet Macaw (Ara macao)
Amazon River Dolphins (Inia geoffrensis)
Squirrel Monkey (Saimiri sciureus L.)
Great White Herons (Ardea alba)

One of the ways the Purus Project monitors biodiversity is by using motion-sensitive cameras to photograph medium-to-large mammals.  The motion-sensitive cameras took pictures of a short-eared dog and a jaguar, both considered near threatened by the IUCN Red List.  Also captured by the motion-sensitive cameras, are photos of a giant anteater and a lowland tapir, which are listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List.  Other wildlife photographed include a puma, otherwise known as a mountain lion, along with an ocelot.  Furthermore, the photograph of the short-eared dog is only the second photograph ever taken of a short-eared dog in the State of Acre!


Carbon offset credits at work!


Preserving Biodiversity in Disappearing Rainforests


Preserving Biodiversity in Disappearing Rainforests

Preserving Biodiversity in Disappearing Rainforests



Preserving Biodiversity in Disappearing Rainforests




Preserving Biodiversity in Disappearing Rainforests

About Brian McFarland

Brian McFarland is the Director of Carbon Projects and Origination for and CarbonCo.

At, Brian identifies climate change mitigation projects in the energy efficiency, renewable energy and forestry sectors, conducts due diligence on such projects, and then structures the financial support and manages the project portfolio.  This project portfolio includes approximately 75 tree planting and carbon reduction projects across 30+ US states and 15+ countries.  At CarbonCo, Brian identifies early stage forest conservation projects and then designs, finances, and implements the origination of REDD+ projects including co-authoring more than 1,000 pages of project documents.

Photos courtesy of Brian McFarland.


How Will You Celebrate National Pollinator Week?

Posted by Friends|04 June 2014



How will you celebrate National Pollinator Week?


Guest post! Laurele Fulkerson is the Director of NCAP’s Healthy Wildlife and Water Program. She leads NCAP’s work to protect pollinators, salmon, and other wildlife and their habitat from harmful pesticides. She has over a decade of experience working on conservation policy issues for non-profits, most recently for Wild Salmon Center in Portland, OR. She holds a J.D. and certificate in Environmental and Natural Resources Law from Lewis & Clark Law School, and a B.A. in Political Science from U.C. Santa Barbara. In addition to her conservation background, Laurele is an avid organic gardener and budding herbalist.

Every day this time of year brings a new joy to my heart as I watch my plant friends bloom and grow. Seeing the lemon yellow flowers of evening primrose bursting forth, motherwort growing tall and exhibiting her delicate pink blooms, California poppies glowing in the sun – and a diverse array of pollinators flocking in droves to feed.

With our gardens in full swing, June feels like a keenly appropriate time to pay tribute to pollinators for the critical role they play in our gardens, farms, and food. The U.S. Senate unanimously approved and designated the third week in June as “National Pollinator Week” eight years ago. It has grown to be an international celebration of the valuable ecosystem services provided by bees, birds, butterflies, bats, and other pollinators.


How Will You Celebrate National Pollinator Week?


As we approach June 16th, the first day of National Pollinator Week, I want to share with you some of the things that Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides (NCAP) is currently doing to protect pollinators, and how you can help!

At the federal level, NCAP is promoting safeguards for pollinators against harmful pesticides via legislation. Saving America’s Pollinators Act (H.R. 2692) would ban the use of a class of neurotoxic insecticides called neonicotinoids (“neonics”) as seed, soil, and foliar treatments on pollinator-attractive plants. The suspension would remain in place until the Environmental Protection Agency can conclusively demonstrate that neonics will not harm pollinators. More and more scientific evidence points to neonics as one of the main contributors to bee die-offs in recent years, so passage of this legislation would be a big win. Introduced by Representatives John Conyers (D-MI) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), H.R. 2692 has strong support with more than 60 cosponsors. However, more support is necessary for the bill to advance. Please take a moment to ask your representative to cosponsor this bill. Check here for more information: 


How Will You Celebrate National Pollinator Week?


NCAP is also working on a marketplace campaign to remove harmful neonics from the nursery retailer supply chain. Many people are not aware that a vast number of products used to keep pests off of plants contain neonics. Neonics are both systemic and persistent, so they can harm pollinators long after a spray due to soil absorption. In addition, conventional seeds and plants may be treated with neonics in a nursery and then, when transplanted to your yard, hurt the very pollinators your flowers are attracting. This info card is a good reference for questions to ask your nursery before buying plants to ensure that you aren’t killing your neighborhood pollinators. If they are not already, please ask your local nursery or plant supplier to go neonic-free.

I encourage you to take some time this summer to plant pollinator-attractive herbs, make sure the plants and other garden products you buy are either organic or neonic-free, and give thanks for the pollinators who make many of our herbs and foods possible.

Happy gardening!


Pesticide-Free Area Sign

Traditional Roots Conference

Posted by Friends|28 May 2014

Traditional Roots Conference

Mason is our Events and Outreach Coordinator here at Mountain Rose! Eugene born and raised, Mason found an early interest in nutrition which eventually brought him to the world of herbalism. When not busy planning events and traveling around the country, Mason studies herbalism and wildcrafting at the Columbines School of Botanical Studies and volunteers at Occupy Medical. He’s also papa to a sweet baby daughter and enjoys sharing many plant adventures with her. 


I’m back from a most excellent herbalism filled event! A few weeks ago, I headed up to Portland for NCNM’s inaugural Traditional Roots Conference. The weekend proved to be a unique one indeed, combining classes from both Naturopathic Doctors and herbalists on topics ranging from herbal energetics, to ethical wildcrafting, and medicine making.


Traditional Roots Conference


To kick things off, I had the pleasure of attending Dr. Tori Hudson’s class, Women’s Health Past and Present. With 30 years of experience as an ND, and the author of Women’s Encyclopedia of Natural Health, Dr. Hudson was able to provide a lot of valuable knowledge in the two-hour class including traditional plant medicines for PMS, insomnia, and menopause. I’m really thankful to have access to information about women’s health and herbal applications for common issues, especially since I can pass this wisdom on to my daughter as she grows up.


Traditional Roots Conference


Glen Nagel ND, “the herbal wise guy,” led a fabulous plant walk through the Min Zidell Healing Garden. Glen is the curator of the garden, so he really knew his way around. As usual, Glen started the walk with a group song, playing the mandolin, and giving thanks to the plants. We had some delicious herbal sun-tea that he made with plants from the garden and we were on our way!


Traditional Roots Conference


I was really impressed with the variety of medicinal herbs throughout the garden. Some of my favorite herbal allies were there to greet me like hawthorn, sage, and motherwort, to name a few. There was a patch of goldenseal which was quite lovely to see. Beautiful valerian was nearly ubiquitous in the garden and Glen hinted that this was the plant helping stressed out ND students the most. We ended the walk with another delightful ditty that I found infinitely adorable. It goes like this…


When I grow up I want to be a tree
Want to make my home with the birds and the bees
And the squirrels, they can count on me
When I grow up to be a tree

I’ll let my joints get stiff, put my feet in the ground
Take the winters off and settle down
Keep my clothes till they turn brown
When I grow up, I’m gonna settle down

I’m gonna reach, I’m gonna reach
I’m gonna reach, reach for the sky
I’m gonna reach, I’m gonna reach
I’m gonna reach, till I know why

John Gorka


Traditional Roots Conference


Lastly, I attended Laura Ash’s class, Preserving Culture Through Documentation of Herbal Medicine. Laura recalled her time spent with the Masaai people in Tanzania where she studied their herbal traditions and shared her concerns about losing traditional healers and with them their medicines. She told stories and detailed the plants most commonly used for medicine in this part of the world. She also discussed at length the importance of how intellectual property law and herbal anthropology can be used as tools. With modern technology and documentation equipment, her work with the Herbal Anthropology Project is able to preserve traditional knowledge and support it’s continued use.

For more information about Laura Ash and her fascinating and important non-profit, please visit:


Traditional Roots Conference


“The mission of NCNM’s Traditional Roots Institute’s is to reinvigorate the herbal roots of medicine. It was such an honor to have clinical herbalists, nurses, doctors and acupuncturists come away from the conference with new skills and renewed passion for healing with plants. We are so grateful to Mountain Rose Herbs, our incredible speakers and other sponsors for their support of our inaugural effort. We look forward to seeing everyone again at the conference next year — May 15-17, 2015!” ~ Orna Izakson

The Traditional Roots Conference provided a wonderful opportunity for us to connect with the herbal healer community here in the Northwest. The in-depth classes offered an educational experience that Mountain Rose was thrilled to support. Kudos to Orna Izakson, Sasha Steiner, and their team for creating such a fantastic gathering of herb loving folks!


Traditional Roots Conference



Photo Thursday!

Posted by Friends|06 February 2014

Mountain Rose Herbs Chocolate Mate


Another unexpected beautiful snowy day, time to go home and drink some Mint Chocolate Maté from this beautiful gourd and bombilla. Stay warm, folks! ~Alieta


Kiva’s Gila Harvest Cider

Posted by Friends|22 October 2013

kiva rose


Our autumn post from Kiva Rose Hardin is here! 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 HerbFolk Gathering, held each September in the mountain Southwest, coeditor of Plant Healer Magazine, and publisher of the just released historical novel, The Medicine Bear  as well as The Plant Healer’s Path by Jesse Wolf Hardin, and maintains an herbal blog, The Medicine Woman’s Roots


Every autumn when the weather starts to shift, folks in the village inevitably start to come down with fevers and various respiratory issues. The sudden demand for every sort of immune tea and tincture reminds me to make sure I have enough cold weather tonics on hand for the whole winter! There are many possibilities, from Elderberry Elixir to Astragalus decoctions to garlicky chicken soup, depending on the person, climate, and particular bug going around. One of my perennial favorites though, is an easily made apple cider vinegar based preparation that tastes wonderful on its own, or can be added to any number of savory dishes year round.




My Gila Harvest Cider is yet another variation on the infamous Fire Cider and Super Cider created by various herbalists like Rosemary Gladstar. Many of these creations are based on being super hot and spicy, and seeing as my belly just can’t handle that kind of thing I decided to make something a bit different. The cider still feels warming and a tiny bit stimulating but lacks the GI bang & burn of some other preparations that may not be appropriate for those with sensitive bellies.



Kiva’s Gila Harvest Cider


- 1/2 to 3/4 cup fresh Turmeric (roughly chopped)
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup fresh Ginger (grated or finely chopped)
- 1 head fresh Garlic (minced)
- 2-3 Tbsp fresh Rosemary (roughly chopped)
- 1 small handful Sundried Tomatoes (roughly chopped)
- 2 Tbsp Coriander (crushed in a mortar and pestle or powdered)
- 1 small handful dried Hawthorn Berries (whole)
- 2 Tbsp fresh grated Orange Peel
- 3/4 Cup fresh Basil (I used the stems that were leftover from pesto making, roughly chopped, Tulsi could also be used)
- 1 whole Red Chile
- approximately 3 cups Apple Cider Vinegar
- raw honey to taste
- 1 quart canning jar




I make mine in layers, starting with the Turmeric and working my way up to the Chile, but you could just as well mix it together beforehand, but then you’d miss the amazing display of colors that happens with the herbs all stacked on top of each other. You can adjust amounts to suit your taste and to properly fill your jar. After you add all the solid ingredients, pour the ACV over the top until the jar is full. Let sit for about six weeks.

Strain the Cider, preserving both liquid and herbs. Add honey to taste to the Cider. You can then refill the jar of preserved herbs with ACV again if you like for a slightly weaker Cider (you can freshen it up a bit with more Rosemary and other spices). Or you can put the herbs through the blender with a new batch of ACV and have a super concentrated version.

This stuff is amazing on nearly anything, with soups, salad dressings, spooned on steamed veggies, you can even marinate meat in it. I’ve even been known to drink it occasionally, cuz it’s that good. The warming, tonic herbs help build and maintain the immune system, increase circulation and generally enhance your sense of well-being. The Basil and Hawthorn add a lovely relaxing aspect, and the whole potion is a potent digestive helper.

To order The Plant Healer’s Path by Jesse Wolf, Kiva Rose, Paul Bergner, David Hoffman and more, go to the Bookstore & Gallery page at:




Cardamom Chia Pudding Recipe!

Posted by Friends|09 October 2013


This post (and tasty recipe!) comes to us from herbalist Rosalee de la Forêt! She is the creator of Taste of Herbs, an exciting new course teaching practical herbalism by LearningHerbs and Mountain Rose Herbs. Rosalee is a clinical herbalist, herbal educator, and founder of Herbal Remedies Advice who lives on the edge of the wilderness in the northeastern Cascadian mountains of Washington state. Many thanks to Rosalee for sharing!


How often do you use your sense of taste to understand how herbs work?


There are many ways to learn about herbs. Oftentimes when people first begin to study herbalism they attempt to memorize long lists of what an herb can do. Or they might memorize a list of herbs that are good for a particular reason. Of course, there is no wrong way to learn about herbs! But learning herbs by memorizing lists can be a bit overwhelming (not to mention a bit boring!).

There is another wonderful way to dive into the world of herbalism. This method gives you a strong connection to plants and how they are used and it doesn’t require memorizing lists of information. This is your sense of taste!

The taste of an herb can reveal how we can use that herb for medicine. When you develop your sense of taste and fine-tune it to understand how herbs work, you unleash a powerful tool. The best part is that this is a tool you can easily carry with you wherever you go!




There are five categories or tastes in herbal medicine:
pungent, salty, sour, bitter, and sweet.


In this recipe, we are exploring an herb that is classified as having a pungent taste: cardamom!

Cardamom is one of my favorite spices. I use it in chai blends as well as sweet and savory dishes.

It has a pungent and spicy taste that is warming in nature. Cardamom helps to increase circulation, which can warm up the body or break through stagnant digestion. (Ever eat a meal that just felt like it was stuck in your middle, making you feel bloated and heavy? That’s food stagnation.)

Cardamom is also a famous aphrodisiac herb that has long been touted as an herb that can spice up your love life. But what does that mean exactly? Do you eat cardamom and instantly feel like an evening in front of the fire with Marvin Gaye in the background? Probably not…

One way of understanding how cardamom works as an aphrodisiac is by its taste and qualities. Remember, cardamom is spicy and warming. It increases circulation and invigorates the senses. You might begin to imagine what the effects of increasing warmth, circulation, and sensations might have on your love life. It also tastes alluring and sweetens the breath. I think that makes for a win, win, win, win in the love department.

Here’s a delicious recipe for Cardamom Chia Pudding to bring this pungent taste to life!




If you’ve never had chia seed pudding you are in for a treat! Chia seeds are nutritious seeds that soak up the liquid around them to form a tapioca-like pudding. Yum!

This recipe takes only minutes to put together, but then needs several hours or overnight for it to turn into a pudding. And yes, feel free to enjoy it in front of the fire with Marvin working his magic in the stereo.

Cardamom Chia Pudding

1/3 cup organic chia seeds
one 13.5 oz can of organic coconut milk
13.5 oz of water
1 to 2 Tbsp organic cardamom powder (start with one, add more if desired)
raw honey to taste
fruit (optional)

In a medium sized bowl, stir together the water and coconut milk until it has an even consistency. Add the chia seeds and mix well. Let stand for one hour in the fridge, then stir again, breaking up any clusters of chia seeds if necessary. Store for a couple more hours, or overnight, in the fridge before serving. Add the cardamom powder and honey to taste. Mix well. This goes great with any kind of seasonal fruit. I prefer this recipe served chilled, but some people may enjoy it warmed up. It will keep in the fridge for several days.

Want to learn more?

You can download the free Taste of Herbs Flavor Wheel here!



Photo Thursday!

Posted by Friends|08 August 2013

Customer Service Team 8.8.2013

Our heroes and heroines!

Nobody can make a stressful time playful and creative like Mountain Rose Herbs employees! Our resilient and unflappable customer service team didn’t blink an eye this week as we needed to conduct maintenance to our online shopping cart and website.  Coming in a bit earlier and leaving a bit later, the representatives have pitched in to help customers place their orders via phone, email and fax.

We couldn’t be prouder of these helpful and cheerful folks, as well as our patient customers who opened their catalogs and called for a chat. We hope to have everything back up and fully operational shortly, but for now, you can access our catalog and browse our products on our website and then call our customer service line to place an order at (800) 879-3337.


Herbal Living by the Seasons: Summer Sun

Posted by Friends|08 July 2013



A few weeks ago, we celebrated the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. The sun was in the sky for about 15 hours, shining its beautiful light down on what proved to be a truly gorgeous day here in New York City.

While I sat with my son on a picnic blanket and shared dinner with him in the evening light, I began to think more about what Summer really means from a Chinese medicine perspective. We didn’t have much of a Spring here in New York, so I think I was still stuck in Winter’s inward gaze. It took a picnic in the park with a loved one to jog my memory.

Summer is ruled by the Fire element, the Heart and Joy. These are symbols of expansion, outward movement and connection. Summer is the season of going beyond the four walls, if you will, of our body to connect to the world beyond. Expand beyond your boundaries and find yourself out there.

Make connections with people: one of the jobs of the Heart. Look into a person’s eyes when you greet them or say, “Nice to meet you,” to someone for the first time. Let your Heart-Spirit connect with theirs through the gateway of the eyes. You can also connect with places by disconnecting from technology and reconnecting with the land. Walk barefoot, rest beneath a shady tree, meditate in nature. Be who you are, where you are. You will naturally feel a connection to that place.




Since Summer is the season of Joy, I always tell my patients to find every opportunity to laugh. Even if you’re not feeling happy, smiling and laughing has been shown in research to improve your mood. Go to a mirror, put your hands on your hips in a powerful, strong pose, and smile at yourself for 2 minutes. You’ll see the effects immediately.

I find that just like in the kitchen, basil and rosemary can also help lift your mood during the Summer. Rosemary is especially powerful when you’re feeling introverted or your self-esteem is low, so it pairs nicely with that power pose I mentioned above. Neroli essential oil has an affinity for the Water element of Winter, which is why it is so effective in treating fear and the common worry we all experience from time to time, but it also opens the Heart to let joy come in and flow out. Try some diluted essential oils of neroli or rosemary on the inside of your wrist or in a diffuser.


There are some great Summer foods to keep in mind, too. Cold bean salads can ward off those hot and humid days that leave you feeling heavy and exhausted. Watermelon is another great choice, and good for cooling off on any hot day. When you head outside for that picnic under a shady oak, take a pitcher of iced tea infused with lemon balm, rose hips and hibiscus to help you tune into the summertime vibe.

I hope you will take time this Summer to enjoy some of the Chinese medicine health tips I’ve mentioned. At the very least, be sure to close your eyes and feel some sunshine on your face now and again.


About Dylan Stein


We’re excited to share a bit of the Chinese herbal medicine perspective from acupuncturist Dylan Stein. Dylan specializes in dermatology, men’s health, and pain management. In addition to acupuncture, he also passionately practices Chinese herbal medicine and will be joining us over the next few months to introduce us to this ancient healing practice!


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.


Photo Thursday!

Posted by Friends|27 June 2013


There is nothing like pulling freshly-dried laundry off the clothesline! The days are sunny and the winds are warm and we have a super-easy recipe for natural herbal laundry liquid to share.  Break out the clothespins and take advantage of one of Summer’s many gifts. Why not sip a nice glass of ice tea while you watch the brightly colored cottons waving in the breeze?

Carol’s Herbal Laundry Liquid

Not only is Carol our Human Resources Director, she is also a highly talented crafter and gardener.  Aside from making delightful handmade soaps and natural body care products, she also bakes delectable pies and treats and has an incredible garden. Carol has generously shared this wonderful recipe for natural liquid laundry detergent with us.

Pour hot water over the Soap Nuts and steep for at least 30 minutes to an hour.  Cover the Soap Nuts and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes. Strain into a bowl and reserve the water. You’ll have a generous quart of liquid remaining.  Once the solution has cooled, add essential oils (optional).  Carol uses 4 Tablespoon Soap Nut liquid plus 2 tablespoons of Borax powder per load (with hard city water).  This laundry potion works wonders, as even old towels and sweaty clothing come out smelling line-dried.


About Kori:

This Photo Thursday comes to us from Kori, our Public and Media Relations Coordinator! A West Coast native, Kori is a seasoned nonprofit activist and community organizer. Having launched six adult kids, she spends her free time in her burgeoning organic and very urban “farm”—taming Heritage chickens, building top-bar beehives from reclaimed materials, baking, brewing, and preserving.

Photo Thursday!

Posted by Friends|20 June 2013


Today’s image comes to us from inside the hive! While the honeybees are busy making comb to store an abundance of fresh pollen and honey, visions of herbal infused creations have us thinking about all the possible flavor combinations — lavender, rosemary, and even basil,  just for starters.  Note the fresh, unripe honey being collected at the top as the bees are building perfectly-shaped new comb.

The video over on our YouTube channel How to Make Herbal Honey with Lavender can easily be adapted to include other herbs of your choice, but since the lavender is in bloom, what could be a more delicious treat?


About Kori:

This Photo Thursday comes to us from Kori, our Public and Media Relations Coordinator! A West Coast native, Kori is a seasoned nonprofit activist and community organizer. Having launched six adult kids, she spends her free time in her burgeoning organic and very urban “farm”—taming Heritage chickens, building top-bar beehives from reclaimed materials, baking, brewing, and preserving.

Wild Rose Conserve & Saving the Sweetness of Spring

Posted by Friends|17 June 2013



Our farewell to spring post celebrating roses from Kiva Rose Hardin is here! 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 Herbal Resurgence Rendezvous, 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.




Spring in the botanical sanctuary where I live is heralded each year by the return of dozens of species of birds returning to the mountains of New Mexico from more southerly climes in Texas and Mexico. The liquid song of the thrushes, the rising crescendo of canyon wrens, and the sweet chirps of the phoebes nesting in the cabin eaves all echo the message of lengthening days and warming soil. Down by the river, Alders are among the first trees to leaf out, the sweet smell of their resinous new growth filling the air, a fragrance so familiar and beloved that it makes my heart ache with love for my canyon home.

Beneath the shade of the silver skinned Alders grow tangled thickets of our native Wild Rose, Rosa woodsii, with its red bark, curved thorns, and delicately toothed leaves. A ubiquitous and abundant genus throughout much of the world, the rose has been known as an important medicine for thousands of years. Perhaps because of its beauty or due to in part to its wide availability, the rose has lost a great deal of its popularity as an effective herbal medicine in common times in much of the Western world. Nevertheless, it remains an incredibly effective herb that can be easily procured, is safe enough for elders and small children, and is remarkably multifaceted in its application. When rose is recognized in herbal medicine, the emphasis tends to be placed very firmly on the seedy red fruits known as hips, but in fact, all parts of the plant can be worked with medicinally, from flower to leaf to bark to root.



Each May when the Wild Roses begin to flower, I walk barefoot along the river bank with my woven basket on my arm, searching for the perfect hedge to harvest from. As the morning warms, the sweet heady scent of the blossoms fills the air and pollinators flock to the roses in a drunken frenzy. More often than not, I’ll find myself so enchanted by the languid flight of fat bumblebees as they travel from flower to flower that I forget that I’m supposed to be gathering petals rather than gazing at intoxicated insects.

Part of what I love about the roses this time of year is that when our species flowers, it’s not only the blossoms that are aromatic, but the leaves as well. The small, and oftentimes overlooked, leaves can possess an enticing musky scent during this season, a fragrance that perfectly balances the delicate sweetness of the flowers. In my years spent working with the Wild Rose, I’ve found that the leaves have their own notable relaxant nervine effect that can greatly compliment the calming action of the flowers. This relaxant effect is most pronounced when the leaves have a strong scent. When these aromatic compounds are not present, the leaf tends to be more simply astringent, and as so often in herbalism, it’s important to employ one’s senses to know exactly when to harvest. There’s no replacement for organoleptic assessment when working with the plants, and each experience presents us with an opportunity to become more knowledgeable of and intimate with the healing herbs. With Wild Roses, I strongly recommend smelling and tasting your rose leaves at different times of the year, and of all the different aromatic species, (domestic, wild, or feral) that are available to you. Some species don’t seem to have such aromatic leaves, so it’s a good idea to compare and contrast.

I usually harvest leaves at the same time I do the petals, and also include the leaves in most of my rose flower preparations such as elixirs, honeys, teas, and tinctures. This helps the flowers go further, but also seems to make for a more complex and complete medicine overall. In food like preparations, I tend to use a somewhat smaller proportion of leaves, since the texture may not be as desirable in some cases. However, small amounts of leaves do taste lovely in infused honeys and similar preparations.

Roses may be best known for the Vitamin C content, which they certainly do possess, along with numerous other bioflavonoids that make their leaves, flowers, and fruits a wonderful source of antioxidants. And yet, this is hardly the extent of their medicine! In Ayurveda, the rose is considered a rasayana, a powerful rejuvenative tonic that is applicable to all constitutions in all seasons, which is a wonderful example of the multifaceted nature of rose as understood by traditional medicine for countless generations.




I find Rose to be an especially valuable ally during our hot Summers in the Southwest, when Pitta disorders abound. Some indications that rose might be particularly appropriate include:

•  Feelings of overheatedness

•  Bloodshot eyes and/or nosebleeds with subjective feelings of heat, possibly accompanied by headaches

•  Heat rash and similar red rashes associated with heat or being overheated

•  Restlessness, irritation, and insomnia during warmer seasons or accompanied by feelings of being overheated

•  Strong or fetid body odor or breath not associated with organic disease, medication, or a particular food.

•  Hyperacidity, a sour taste in the mouth, and the inability to eat sour or acidic foods/drinks

•  Heavy menstrual periods with heat signs

Healing can sometimes be long term and difficult, but there’s no reason that it can’t also sometimes be delicious and pleasurable. The below recipes are two tasty ways to work with rose, the first being a traditional Ayurvedic rose conserve called gulkand, and the second being a tasty Indian drink that utilizes the gulkand in its preparation. Rose tastes so good that almost all of us can benefit from the joyful calm that the plant tends to trigger in people, so don’t save it only for when someone’s ill. Instead, stock up during the blooming season and utilize as desired!


~ Two Rose Recipes ~


Gulkand: Ayurvedic Rose Conserve

Gulkand is one of the simplest rose preparations to make, and infinitely useful as a medicine, condiment, and straight up treat. This sweet Rose preserve can be used year round, but is especially useful for those hot Summers where excess heat results in short tempers, exhaustion, irritability, and insomnia. This is a great treat for people of all constitutions, but particularly appropriate for Pitta dominated folks or those dealing with Pitta excess disorders.


•   1 part fresh rose petals (any aromatic species will work, wild or cultivated, just make sure they’re pesticide free)

•   1 part sugar

•   Spices to taste (optional) – I especially like Cardamom, Nutmeg, and Cinnamon in my gulkand. Cardamom is particularly beneficial when there are clear heat signs and the gulkand is being used therapeutically.


•   In a jar or similar glass container, place a layer of Rose petals down first, then cover completely with sugar. If including spices, add spices to the layers of sugar, or just blend the spiced directly into sugar before beginning the layering process.

•   Repeat until jar is filled, with sugar on top.

•   Cover, and sit on a sunny counter and shake daily. I don’t usually recommend keeping any herbal preparation in the sun, but in this case the sunlight seems to help release the rose flavor and create the proper consistency.

•   In 4-6 weeks, your gulkand should be ready!

•   Store in an airtight jar in a cool, dark place.

Eat by the spoonful, add to milk, use to top ice cream, or any other number of yummy treats.


Summerflower Lassi: Cooling Rose and Yogurt Drink

This is one of my favorite recipes from Indian cuisine, and something I enjoy each Summer during the hot months here in New Mexico. You don’t have to use rosewater, and it’s very good just using 3 parts water, 1 part yogurt, and the gulkand. However, for the ultimate rose experience, the rosewater adds another layer of delicate rose complexity to the finished drink. You can also float fresh or candied rose petals on the top of the lassi for a beautiful presentation and even more rose presence.


•  1 part (preferably homemade, but full fat yogurt if store-bought) yogurt

•  1/2 part organic rose hydrosol (rosewater)

•  2 1/2 parts water

•  gulkand to taste (see previous recipe)


Add each ingredient to a glass or mason jar and stir or shake well before enjoying chilled.





Roots in Common ~ A Look at Four Qi Tonics

Posted by Friends|19 March 2013


Here’s the second installment in my series about Chinese herbal medicine and the herbs that Chinese and Western herbal medicine have in common. I hope that lots of fruitful conversations will grow from seeing these two traditions work side by side.

Qi, sometimes explained as vital energy or life force, is the energetic current of the body, and we acupuncturists spend a lot of time talking about it. It’s our version of electricity, so to speak. From a biological perspective, I like to compare it to ATP, the force driving our cellular machinery. Qi is moving, immaterial, and heavenly.

Many of the Qi tonics in Chinese medicine are seen as adaptogens and immunostimulants in the Western herbal tradition.

Regardless of what you call it or how you classify it, these herbs are seen as tonics addressing deficiencies of various degrees. Because we’re discussing Qi tonics, these herbs will go to the Lungs, the Spleen-Stomach, or both. These organs are the source of Qi production in the body. This means, they have a particular affinity for the Chinese medicine concept of these organs, not the organs themselves.


Ginseng / Ren Shen


Asian Ginseng, known in Chinese as Ren Shen, is one of the most famous herbs. Even people who know nothing about herbs have heard of ginseng. In my opinion, this is well deserved. Ginseng has some miraculous properties.

In Chinese medicine, we say it tonifies the Source Qi, the basis of all metabolic functions in the body. It also benefits the organs responsible for making Qi, the Lung and Spleen-Stomach, ensuring future creation of Qi. It can calm the Spirit-Mind and nourish fluids, too. It is usually used in cases of collapse (cold limbs and the desire to curl into a ball, spontaneous sweating, shortness of breath and the like), digestive insufficiency, and palpitations with insomnia or anxiety.

In addition to the traditional contraindication of avoiding eating turnips or drinking tea (all caffeinated beverages nowadays) while taking ginseng, it is best avoided in patients with signs of excess Heat (red face, fever, bleeding, headaches or dizziness accompanied by a feeling of the top of the head being about to pop off, etc.) or excess phlegm (copious phlegm with a hacking cough). Signs that you’re taking too much ginseng are headaches, insomnia, irritability, anxiety, hypertension, nausea and vomiting.

A more modern contraindication is in the case of parasitic infection. There is a concern that the ginseng would tonify the parasite while it also tonifies (or instead of, perhaps) the patient. In its place, we favor Eleuthero / Ci Wu Jia Shen, which I discuss below.

Ginseng is one of the few herbs in the Chinese materia medica that is considered appropriate for use without other herbs. This is a stark contrast to other herbs in a system based on poly-pharmacy. It is used singly as a rescue measure when someone is on the verge of collapse or grave illness. This, plus its other properties and unique growing needs, has made ginseng very expensive. Accordingly, since ginseng is so precious, we recommend double decoction to make sure all of its medicinal constituents are extracted.

You can also break off the ginseng “tails” or rootlets to make a good cup of tea rather than a medicinal decoction. Used this way with cinnamon bark, you have a great way to fend off the cold chill from air conditioners during the summer. You can also make medicinal wines (or  alcohol tincture) from the tails, and drink a shot-glassful daily. Another use for the tails is an addition to your favorite soup stock to “kick it up a notch”.

One final note, American Ginseng (Xi Yang Shen, Panax quinquefolius), of Wisconsin fame, is totally different in the Chinese materia medica from Ren Shen. They are both tonics, but American ginseng is seen to nourish Fluids to moisten Dryness more than Ren Shen, which tonifies the Qi strongly. That aside, it’s also a great addition to soup stocks during the summer when a cooling, moistening effect is desired.


Eleuthero Root/ Ci Wu Jia Shen


Eleuthero is one of my favorite herbs. I believe it is deeply underappreciated by Chinese medicine herbalists. That said, proper combining of this herb is required for maximum benefit. I wouldn’t use it as the only Qi tonic in a formula for this reason; instead it should be combined with other herbs to accentuate certain properties.

Also known as “Siberian ginseng”, from a Chinese medicine perspective eleuthero tonifies the Spleen and Kidneys, which is very different from the other herbs mentioned here. This means that there’s a tonification happening at the root of the body’s physiology in addition to the splenic level of day-to-day Qi production. The kind of fatigue that eleuthero would be good for according to these functions is a fatigue that comes with sore, weak, aching low back and knees, and a sense of heaviness in the body.

Eleuthero also calms the Spirit-Mind and invigorates the Blood, so it is good for insomnia, profuse dreaming and mild depression accompanied by fatigue.

As I mentioned above, eleuthero has the unique property of tonifying the host without the risk of tonifying parasites at the same time. This makes it a good herb to use in cases of deficiency during treatment of parasitic infections.


Rhodiola / Hong Jing Tian


Traditionally, rhodiola is a medicinal in the Tibetan materia medica. In Tibet, it is widely used for altitude sickness. Rhodiola has only recently gained popularity in Chinese medicine for its incredible adaptogenic effect. There has been much research on the topic, as a quick Google search will reveal. Personally, I found it useful when I was running daily and needed to improve my recovery time.

Like Ren Shen, rhodiola tonifies the Spleen-Stomach and Lung. It has the additional actions of engendering and activating the Blood, making it a good addition to formulas for physical traumas or burns. These two actions point to why it is such a good herb for athletes and people living very stressful lifestyles.

Sources disagree about rhodiola’s ability to have an effect on the Heart. In this instance, the “Heart” is actually referring to the Spirit-Mind. Some believe that the herb is calming and others that it has no effect on the Spirit-Mind at all.

Since it is a cooling medicinal (like white Ren Shen, but unlike red Ren Shen), it can be used more readily in cases where there are signs of Heat.

Common pairings are rhodiola with goji berries, schizandra and gynostemma for calming effects and with Dong Quai (Tang Kui, Angelica sinensis) for activating and building the blood.


Astragalus / Huang Qi


Astragalus has three particularly important functions as a Qi tonic. First off, it’s lifting, which means it’s great when there are cases of prolapse due to deficiency and low energy (we say, “when the Clear Yang Qi is not rising to the head.” I think the phrase is a good metaphor.

Secondly, with other herbs to tonify the Blood, it has the ability to build Qi to make Blood. This may be anemia, or it could be a sallow complexion, brittle nails and hair and dry skin. One of my teachers used to say that Dong Quai was the blueprint for the blood and Huang Qi (astragalus) was the energy to build the building. This is a classic pair for treating blood deficiency in Chinese medicine.

Thirdly, it strengthens the Defensive Qi, our version of the immune system. Because astragalus has an up-bearing nature, it is able to reach the most superficial Qi in the body. This is called Defensive Qi because it is the first Qi to encounter pathogens invading from the Exterior through the skin (see my first post’s section about 6 Stages Diagnosis).  Being active in the exterior, astragalus is also useful for cases of spontaneous sweating.

Since astragalus has an affinity for the Lungs and Spleen, it is also able to affect water metabolism in the body for edema due to deficiency. This kind of edema will be relatively superficial in the skin layer rather than deeper edema in the flesh.

Astragalus is another common addition to soup stock. It is commonly used with Dong Quai, but adding Goji berries would be appropriate, too.


In my next post, I will write about blood tonics that Chinese and Western herbal medicine share…


About Dylan Stein









We’re excited to share a bit of the Chinese herbal medicine perspective from acupuncturist Dylan Stein. Dylan specializes in dermatology, men’s health, and pain management. In addition to acupuncture, he also passionately practices Chinese herbal medicine and will be joining us over the next few months to introduce us to this ancient healing practice!


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.



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