Jul 312015

The journey to the upcoming Traditions in Western Herbalism Conference & Celebration is one of the most amazing drives in the American Southwest, starting in the colorful desert elevations and winding upwards through oak and piñon covered hills, dramatic rock filled canyons, and into the lush aspen and fir forests at cloud height.  The plant life in these Sacramento Mountains is diverse and wondrous, with both plentiful and rare species of medicinal interest.  Both Phyllis Hogan and 7Song will be leading lovely plant identification walks at the event, and my partner Kiva Rose offers below a short overview of some of the herbs you can expect to find there. For more information about this year’s TWH conference or to register, go to:  www.Planthealer.org/intro.html



Warming Herbs from High Places: 4 Upper Elevation Forest Herbs of the Sacramento & Guadalupe Mountains

by Kiva Rose Hardin

The plants I’ve chosen to write about here are not necessarily the most common, well known, or widespread. I’ve chosen them based on their medicinal value, and my personal experience with them. All four of them are exceptionally healing herbs with a long history of use in traditional medicine. They also all happen to be rather warming, and are perfect to study, harvest, and prepare for the cold moons ahead. 

In some cases, as with Oshá, I am specifically writing about them because I know they tend to entice herbalists and I want to provide a realistic look at the ethics of harvesting the plant as well as talk about a potential replacement in some situations. With both Angelica and Oshá, I want to stress the importance of having a solid knowledge of field botany and the ability to positively ID a plant from a field guide (preferably a dichotomous key) before even attempting to harvest either plant because of the danger of mistaking them for potentially toxic lookalikes.

If you attend the TWHC, please use your common sense, respect, and ethics when you harvest ANY local plants. As with many high elevation ecologies of the American Southwest, the Sacramento and Guadalupe Mountains contain many sensitive and endemic species. Be sure to positively identify (preferably with a dichotomous key such as Flora Neomexicana) any plants down to at least species level, and that you are harvesting in a sustainable manner! If in doubt, don’t harvest. 


Abies concolor – White Fir

Ecology & Abundance: An ornamental in many parts of the country, White Fir is native to the America West, including the mountains of New Mexico. All of the species within the Abies genus that I have worked with have very similar properties so if you find other Firs nearby they’re very likely to act and taste in the way I describe here. 

I especially like working with trees so that I can carefully harvest without doing any notable damage to the plant or population. In the mountains of New Mexico and Arizona, White Fir tends to be an understory tree in mixed conifer forest, usually growing underneath much larger tree likes Douglas Fir or various Spruces. 

Medicinal Traits & Actions: Like many conifers, White Fir is a stimulating expectorant that can help facilitate the clearing of respiratory bogginess and stagnation. Unlike some conifers, White Fir is tasty and gentle and less likely to cause aggravation of heat signs. The sap and resin of this Abies species is one of the sweetest and most appealingly aromatic of all the conifers I’ve had the pleasure of tasting. 

I like to work with this plant when I’m seeing any sort of chronic lung issue that’s resulting in a wet cough, inability to actually cough up the fluids, and general feelings of coldness, lethargy, and weakness. I find that it works particularly well in combination Aralia spp., Sambucus spp., and Inula. Oshá, Lovage, or Angelica can be added in cases where cold signs are especially pronounced, or if the signs are more mixed and include respiratory tension, then Lobelia and Cherry or Peach are more indicated.

Additional Thoughts or Notes: White Fir is also a great addition to many foods, whether savory sweet. Infused into vinegar, oil, butter, syrup (simple syrup or maple syrup), honey, salt, or just chopped finely and added when desired. It has something in common with Rosemary but is much less sharp, and also has a delicate citrus flavor. Too much will taste bitter, but used in moderation almost everyone enjoys the the aromatic tang, I even think it makes a great homemade ice cream flavor! 

Actaea rubra fruit

Actaea rubra – Mountain Cohosh/Sweet Medicine

Ecology & Abundance: A widespread plant throughout much of the United States, it prefers high elevation mixed conifer forests in the mountains of the Southwest. While certainly not weedy in its distribution, it is a hardy plant and can survive floods, logging, forest fires, and more. It often grows on wooded slopes, but can also be found in shady arroyos, and sometimes even in heavily logged areas.

Medicinal Traits & Actions: Actaea rubra essentially shares all the well known medicinal traits of its close (and much more popular) relative, Black Cohosh (Actaea racemosa), only it’s far more widespread and adaptable. It’s specifically useful for cold signs in the reproductive system, such as achy, crampy pains in the uterus. It’s also more generally helpful wherever there are cold signs accompanied by overall joint pain and body achiness. It’s a warming, sweet and acrid herb, so you want to use it where movement is needed and there are little to no excess heat signs. It’s not necessarily the right herb to use on its own for stabbing, sharp menstrual cramps with a red tongue and flushed skin. Look more for paleness, fatigue, and achiness. I find this herb to be incredibly helpful in cases of liver deficiency and vacuity, with symptoms of delayed or scant menstruation, lethargy, sensations of coldness, and digestive sluggishness and stagnation.

Additional Thoughts or Notes: When used where not indicated, Actaea species can cause a frontal headache and possibly a generally hungover and overheated sensation that’s very unpleasant. Should you feel that Actaea is indicated for a person demonstrating heat signs, moderate it’s warming, moving tendencies with more appropriate herbs in a formula. This is a very blood moving herb, and like most in that category, is not appropriate for pregnancy.

Black River - Ligusticum porteri flowers4Angelica ampla – Giant Angelica

Ecology & Abundance: Angelica is not uncommon in the American West, but certain species can be much rarer than others. Angelica ampla is considered to be endemic to the Sacramento Mountains in New Mexico. This species of Angelica prefers high elevation wetlands

Like Ligusticum, Angelica is a member of the Apiaceae family, and can be mistaken by the inexperienced for a number of other, toxic species. Know your field botany, and only harvest when you have confirmed identification beyond a shadow of a doubt. Yes, I said beyond a shadow of a doubt. 

Medicinal Traits & Actions: Seeds and roots are both very useful, the seeds being milder and more palatable to most folks. Angelica is probably best known as an aromatic bitter used to calm and move stagnant, cold digestion. It is indeed very useful this way, and I frequently combine a bit of Angelica or one of its close relatives when giving cold alkaloidal bitters like Berberis or a cathartic like Iris to help prevent cramping or excess coldness where there are existing cold signs or a colder constitution. 

In addition, Angelica is a stimulating diaphoretic, especially the seeds, and very useful in stimulating the immune system at the first signs of viral onset in someone with chills and little sweating, along with other cold signs. Likewise, Angelica is a diuretic and the seeds are a traditional treatment for gout. Personally I only use Angelica in very specific chronic cases of gout where the person has clear cold signs, suppressed urine, and no acute inflammation. 

Look for cold and stagnation, such as boggy lung conditions, suppressed/scant menstruation, lack of sweating and cold sensations during viral onset, chronic constipation and flatulence, or achy pains.

Additional Thoughts or Notes: Not recommended during pregnancy, for those already exhibiting heat signs, or in large doses for those with existing overstimulated digestion. If in doubt, using something gentler and more general, like Yerba Buena or Chamomile.

Black River - Ligusticum porteri flowers4

Ligusticum porteri – Oshá

Ecology & Abundance: Oshá is sometimes considered at risk, especially at the edge of its range here in southern New Mexico. It can be very locally abundant, but given the plant’s popularity (okay, fine, cult status) and the tendency for individuals, schools, and companies to dig it out with wild abandon, I strongly suggest moderation and caution when harvesting. 

Medicinal Traits & Actions: Oshá shares much in common with Angelica, including its actions as a stimulating diaphoretic, immune stimulant, respiratory stimulant, and stimulating expectorant, and warming aromatic bitter for stagnant digestion. However, it seems more generally appropriate in nearly all respiratory infections or respiratory centered viral onset, with signs of sore throat, yellow phlegm, difficulty expectorating, and often a spasmodic but unproductive cough.

Note that while Oshá is generally seen as a lung herb, it’s far more multifaceted than it’s often given credit for, and can also be used in sinus infections, for the achy joints that often accompany influenza, treating acute allergies, water retention, and even for altitude sickness. Even tiny amounts of the root or any preparation of the plant can dramatically help the headache, dizziness, and other symptoms of altitude sickness, especially if ingestion is started before symptoms become acute. 

Oshá is great as a tincture, elixir, infused in honey, and any number of other preparations, but I do prefer to give small amounts of the fresh or dried to root to be sucked on slowly whenever the person is willing to deal with the taste of what my late teacher, Southwestern herbalist Michael Moore, termed “celery from hell”. It combines very well with herbs such as Aralia and Elderberry which can both potentiate the Oshá and make it go further while still retaining its effectiveness. 

Additional Thoughts or Notes: Do note that Oshá is frequently mistaken for other members of the Apiaceae family, including some very toxic genera. You must be 100% sure of your ID to harvest with this plant. Another potential concern is that other roots can become entangled with that of Ligusticum’s during growth and it can be difficult to differentiate between them. Trace every root from the plant to ensure that you don’t accidentally add Aconite root to your Oshá infused honey in a potentially deadly mistake.

Ligusticum leaves are quite tasty, and I love them in all sorts of stews and with wild game. Like Lovage leaves, not every cares for it, so start with a light hand until you get used to its unique flavor. Seeds and flowers are also both flavorful and medicinal. 

While not exactly an analogue, Lovage root has many actions and traits comparable with Oshá’s, and should be considered as an easy to grow replacement for many of Oshá’s milder and most commonly desired medicinal actions, including as an aromatic (and thus having an antibacterial action on the respiratory tissues) and warming expectorant. 

Ligusticum is a blood moving herb and not appropriate during pregnancy.

Resources & References

Western Herbs in Chinese Medicine: Methodology & Materia Medica by Thomas Avery Garran

Western Herbs According to Traditional Chinese Medicine: A Practitioner’s Guide by Thomas Avery Garran

Medicinal Plants of the Mountain West by Michael Moore

Medicinal Plants of the Pacific West by Michael Moore

The Herbal Medic by Sam Coffman

Writings by and Personal Correspondence with 7Song

Writings by and Personal Correspondence with Jim McDonald

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Enchanted SIte page poster

For more information about this year’s TWH conference or to register, go to:  www.Planthealer.org/intro.html

Jul 262015

Excitement continues to grow for the upcoming Traditions in Western Herbalism Conference & Celebration, over 50 in-depth classes for the students and enthusiasts of herbal medicine – Sept 17th through the 20th high atop New Mexico’s picturesque Sky-Island.

The Lodge is offering attendees a special discounted meals package, but these packages must be purchased in advance, and they have a strict deadline in which to reserve them.  If you intend to eat meals at The Lodge during TWHC, you MUST call them and pay for yours prior to their


See the poster below for full details on this meals package.  And for more information about this year’s TWH conference or to register, go to:


Eating poster

Jul 132015

July Herbaria – Special Free Edition for Herbalists

A Sneak Peek:

The free July issue of the Plant Healer’s Herbaria Newsletter will be mailed out Monday, July 20th.  To be certain of receiving a download link, be certain to subscribe before then.  Simply go to our website and fill in your name and email address in the appropriate location on the far left side of the page:


This month’s special issue is overgrown – nearly 70 color pages in length – and includes the following:

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Dara Saville: Connecting With Our Heritage Through Herbal Practice

Our friend Dara of Albuquerque Herbalism writes about how working with herbs increases our connection to all those healers who came before, with an intimate look at Early American healing practices prior to the rise of pharmaceuticals and the first onerous laws harming medicine sellers.  As Dara concluded:

“While herbal medicine in post-industrialized America is usually lumped into the category known as ‘alternative medicine’, many of us know that it is actually traditional medicine, and the original ‘Medicine of the People'”

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Juliet Blankespoor: Plant Photography for Herbalists

The ever-awesome Julietta of Chestnut Herbal School explains here how to take great photographs of the herbs we use, in advance of her Plant Photography class this September at our 6th Annual Traditions in Western Herbalism Conference.  Subjects in this great article include aperture, shutter speed, composition, and background:

“Choosing a beautiful background is almost as important as choosing your subject. I will often look for contrasting colored flowers as a backdrop to my subject. Bright green light is also pleasing. Dappled light in the background can create an airy or painterly feeling. As mentioned earlier, shade in the background will often translate as a black backdrop in a photo if the image is illuminated with sunlight. Your background should add interest or contrast, but take care that is doesn’t distract from the story you are telling.”


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Plant Healer Event Reminisces

To start getting in the mood for the upcoming event, we’ve included both stories of the past five years of TWHC & Herbal Resurgence, and a bunch of fun pictures of you folks who attended.  One of the many contributors is Heather Luna of Nevada City Herbs & Tea, who wrote among other things this encouraging reminder:

“Saying good-byes were both sweet and challenging.  As herbalists, it is our job to inspire and awaken vitality in those who come to us, and here my own were re-animated and rekindled.  The good work in the world may now continue!”

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Robin Rose Bennett: Herbal Magic

Robin Rose shares with us here a piece on herbs for magical intention and ceremony, presenting an excerpt from her classic book “Healing Magic: A Green Witch Guidebook to Conscious Living – 10th Anniversary Edition,” with sections on Plants for Burning, the uses of specific herbs (and trees!), Here is a tempting quote from it by Robin:

“Plants are conscious beings of feeling and spirit, and they are blessed with an abundance of gifts to share. I have found that all plants are consciousness-altering. In this sense, plants grow us. They are wonderful allies to human beings, filled with love for us. Like birds and animals, plants don’t have to remember that they are part of nature; they simply are who and what they are. This inevitably helps us resonate with who we are as part of nature. Each specific plant also brings its own particular essence to a meditation, spell, or ritual.  Much of my time with plants is spent working with them as physical medicine for our bodies. I have discovered that there is a correlation—sometimes subtle, often obvious—between the physical medicine a plant offers and the spiritual/magical energy it imparts.”

You can find out more about her work at Wise Woman Healing Ways.

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Interview #1: Emily Han – Herbal Cocktails for Pleasure & Health

For the past several issues of Herbaria we’ve been including 2 interviews with compelling herbalists, whose plant medicine knowledge we are pleased to share, and whose personal stories help us navigate our own individual healing paths.  Emily literally “wrote the book” on herbal cocktails (see her site Roots & Marvel).  She will be teaching us about bitters, elixirs, cocktails, and how to ferment and blend at TWHC in a couple of months, do we’re glad we got to pick her brain a bit in advance!

“My intention for the class is to be accessible and fun as well as educational. We’ll talk about the art and science of crafting balanced cocktails; I’ll share some classic formulas and ratios as a foundation, and then encourage folks to put their own creative and healing spin on these. I’m coming out to New Mexico with a bunch of cocktail-making tools and ingredients and we’ll put them to good use in the hands-on part of the class. We’ll taste each other’s creations, and all go home with new skills and inspiration. …I envision a culture in which everyone practices herbalism to some degree, taking care of themselves, their families and friends, and the natural world around them. Thus, I believe my role – and the role of many herbalists – is to (re-)introduce people to herbs and empower them to integrate herbal practices into their daily lives through medicine-making, cooking, wildcrafting, gardening, having a sense of wonder, caring for the earth. If we can spark an interest in herbalism in various ways (such as cocktails or cookbooks), I think we can ultimately help create a healthier world.”


Interview #2: Guido Masé

Guido is an exceptionally gifted and perceptive herbalist teacher from northern Italy, a co-director of the unique Vermont Center for Integrative Herbalism, and valued columnist for Plant Healer Magazine.  We think you will find his words here fascinating and enlightening, a carefully selected excerpt from the much longer conversation undertaken for the future Volume 2 of Plant Healer’s “21 Century Herbalists” books of interviews.  For now, here’s a sneak peek for you:

“What I appreciate most about bioregional herbalism is the idea that the medicinal plants that grow really, really close (same watershed you drink from) are having an experience very similar to yours, they elaborate different chemicals than the same species four hundred miles away, and in so doing link you up to your local environment in a really profound way. Without eating wild medicinals that grow right outside your door, you are really just a guest, a transient in the environment. Folks who get all their food processed from the grocery store aren’t really as much of a part of the ecology-as-being as those who eat weeds. Taking bioregional herbs means you’re actually a part of the world around you, not just a guest. It doesn’t matter what herbs exactly – to a certain extent, just snacking on lambs quarters with a side of goldenrod tea allows you to be a functional, contributing part of the ecological organism.”


A New Herbal Networking Site

We want to help network the exciting new “Herb Rally” website created by Mason Hutchinson.  Mason’s caring vision is of a one-stop online hub, offering a comprehensive list of currently available herbal courses, media, workshops, and conferences nationwide… provided free as a service to all students, enthusiasts, and practitioners of herbal medicine.  If any income is generated through affiliating with organizations like Plant Healer, that money will go to fund herbal scholarships given out to those in need!  You can submit the details and dates of your classes, events, etc., and/or browse current herbal educational opportunities but clicking on:


Dandelion seeds flying72dpi

Spreading Like Weeds

 Herbaria subscriptions have more than doubled since this time last year, now reaching many thousands readers with its absolutely free content.  Unlike with Plant Healer Magazine, which goes out primarily to committed herbal students and practicing herbalists, subscribers to the newsletter and blog include crossover folks just getting into herbalism, or with natural healing as a side interest.  It feels like one way to spread and grow this mission of healing and love – this weedy revolution!

Advertise Inexpensively

Display ads in Herbaria Newsletter are priced low enough to be affordable to folks launching new herbal related projects.  Space in our pages is intended for the common folk, small operations and family businesses… large corporations would need to explain why they deserve to be an exception. 🙂 You can download the combined magazine and newsletter advertising pdf here:

Advertising Info

Share Your Knowledge, Submit Your Stories

You don’t have to be a professional writer in order to have something worthwhile to share with others.  And unlike with PH Magazine, it’s ok f your writings have been printed or posted before, so long as they haven’t been too widely distributed before.  Therapeutics, herb profiles, medicine making recipes, tips for practicing, clinical skills, conservation and gardening.   If you’d be interested, please download the:

Submission Guidelines



 Wild green blessings to you allKiva & Wolf

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Jun 242015

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by Dara Saville

An Excerpt from the New Plant Healer book:

The Traveling Medicine Show: Pitchmen & Plant Healers of Early America

Full color – 104 pages 8×11 – $24 – Order from the Bookstore Page at:


Read the truth about the largely wonderful if oft maligned historic herb sellers, the unfortunate shift from plant medicines to harmful pharmaceuticals, and the benefits and joys of resurgent herbalism in this modern age…. in a fascinating full color book filled with over 500 lovely vintage and contemporary illustrations.  For your enjoyment we present here an opening piece by bioregional herbalist Dara Saville of Albuquerque Herbalism, director of the Yerba Mansa Restoration Project, regular contributor to Plant Healer Magazine, and valued teacher at New Mexico’s annual Traditions in Western Herbalism Conference.

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Jun 172015

The over 50-pages long June issue of Plant Healer’s Herbaria Newsletter releases Monday afternoon, June 22nd.  To be certain of a copy, sign up for a subscription beforehand, absolutely FREE, at: www.PlantHealer.org

And for now, here follwoing is a little taste of Herbaria’s latest inspiration and information:

Denise Tracy-Cowan, herbal skin care specialist.

Denise Tracy-Cowan, herbal skin care specialist.

Our friend and nearest wilderness neighbor is Denise Tracy Cowan of of Super Salve Co. who joins TWHC teacher Phyllis Hogan in contributing an Herbaria article on the science and sensuality of skin care, providing some herbal skin care recipes, telling us:

“Natural skin care is fun and easy!  Make your own love potion that suits your skin the best.  Go find your favorite vegetable oils that contain antioxidant properties like avocado, almond, apricot, and olive oils.  Then add a few drops of anti-aging essential oils, like neroli (orange blossom flower), rose, lavender, rosemary, sweet orange, lemon, lime, oregano, myrrh, or fennel.  Now you have a wonderful, nutritious, anti-aging oil splash for the entire body!  Herbs such as calendula flower, comfrey leaf, horsetail, coltsfoot, slippery elm, echinacea flower, borage, elder flowers, immortal, and yarrow are just a few herbs that help topically with cellular regeneration.  Age gracefully and fight those cell damaging, free-radicals every inch of the way.  Day by day, you will feel younger and look better.  Your beautiful, healthy vibrant, anti-aging skin depends on the natural skin care methods you use.”


Jen Stovall

Jen Stovall

We provide two very inspiring interviews with herbalist teachers once again, this time including Jen Stovall of Maypop Community Herb Store and Janet Kent from Medicine County Herbs & Terra Silva School, talking with me about subjects from their favorite medicinal herbs to issues of herbal justice and access.  As Jen writes:

“Herbal Justice represents the idea that health should be shared by everyone, regardless of race, gender, class, etc… and that herbalism can really level the playing field. At a time when the inequities of race are finally showing up in the media, it is really powerful to discuss ways that herbalists can act as emissaries of social justice.“

Janet adds that:

Janet Kent

Janet Kent

We are in the midst of a health crisis on the individual, societal and global level. The injustices of our society are laid bare in the extreme inequity of our wealth-based health care system. Holistic practitioners are especially well suited to identify and address these issues. As healers who draw our wisdom and practice from Nature, we are also perfectly positioned to address the current ecological crisis. Both of these factors inform the concept of herbalism as a tool for social justice.  While many forms of social work and activism can lead to cynicism, disillusionment and burnout, herbalism is more sustainable. The ability to make a real difference on the individual level, whether with a client or a student, is empowering. To see immediate changes in health and perspective replenishes us and strengthens our resolve.”


For our second interview excerpt, we present the New Mexico-based practitioner/teacher Dara Saville, truly one of the talented rising stars of botanical healing and champion of bioregional herbalism.  She speaks about the herbs of the state, gives us an update on the Yerba Mansa Restoration Project, and provides inspiring advice to herb lovers of all kinds:

There can be many roles for the herbalist to play depending on the circumstances of the local community.  Herbalists have always been there to help people find their paths, whether it is through illness and injury or in more metaphorical ways. I believe that role will always apply.  Today, the herbalists’ role has changed somewhat mainly due to the rise of modern medicine and they way that most people have moved away from their connections to the natural world.  We are no longer the main source of healthcare, but what people come to when they don’t know where else to turn.  While modern medicine has been wonderful at dealing with acute and emergency situations, this industry has not done as well in helping people with the many chronic inflammatory illnesses that are on the rise in recent times.  This dissatisfaction with treatments prescribed by physicians for chronic inflammations or more mysterious ailments has brought many people into my path.  While herbalism was once a way of life for many and a main form of medicine practiced, it has become a system of last-resorts, a place to go to when ‘the standard’ treatments don’t produce meaningful results or people are told there is nothing wrong with them despite their obvious suffering.  In addition to this changing role in providing for peoples’ health, the type of guidance that herbalists impart has also changed with the times.  In so many cases we must shepherd people back into connections with wilderness.  Over the last century the majority of people have migrated away from the natural world in favor of the security, comfort, and convenience of the modern industrialized and urbanized lifeways that seem so standard now.  If we are to help people feel better, we must first help them return to that lost connection of inter-being with plants, the land, and the source of all wellbeing.  I have found my role to be that of a facilitator helping people find their own paths to knowledge, experience, and meaning.  I can help them learn the basics, which provides a firm foundation and some degree of confidence for the rest of the journey.  I can open their minds to the possibility of deeper understanding and fulfillment through relationships with plants and other elements of the natural world.  I can take people into the mountains and Bosque and introduce them to the source of all learning.  That of course, is the source of life, and we can connect with that through plants.  I help people find that connection to something we have no words for.  To impart a combination of concrete learning and information while also cultivating this kind of experience and understanding is what I strive for in my herbal studies program.”

Dara Saville

Dara Saville

The loving Elka provides a wonderful soup recipe with wild Nettle for you to try, writing:

It’s another beautiful day in the canyon! The Cottonwoods have all leafed out, the woods are covered with Nettles, the Strawberry Hedgehog Cactuses are blooming and so are the Yucca stalks! Dear sweet Chamomile has escaped from the garden and makes me want to pet it, and smell it, as I walk by it on the path in front of the kitchen, and the crazy Fennel I planted last summer is now at least 4 feet tall! Rhiannon and I have been very busy getting up to our elbows in Nettles in order to stock the freezer with the best tasting greens money can’t even buy! It’s Stinging Nettle heaven! I haven’t seen so many in years. The rains have been abundant enough this winter, and it’s been raining way more than usual this spring! Which is so great, cause it not only helps reduce the fire danger but makes the Nettles keep sprouting new tops faster than even I can sometimes believe! So far we’ve managed to put at least 50 pounds of boiled Nettles in the freezer, and I can’t tell you how many we’ve eaten, but it’s been a lot of bowls’ worth, that’s for sure! Kiva has been loving my Potato Nettle Soup, of which we’ve been eating countless variations! We’ve also been eating lots of Nettles with Coconut milk and curry spices, with sautéed meat and Onions, with sliced Cucumbers and homemade chutney – yum! And I’ve been drinking endless mugs of vitamin and mineral-rich Nettle decoction – a perfect late Spring tonic!”

Elka harvesting yummy nettles

Elka harvesting yummy nettles

The noted historian and entertainer Gene Fowler contributes a lively piece taken from the Foreword to Plant Healer’s most recent book, The Traveling Medicine Show, now available from the Bookstore page at www.PlantHealer.org.  Gene tell us:

“The “physic operas” were not always the dopey, low-down scams depicted in story and lore. While the med-show underground certainly harbored its share of con artists, there were also many sincere healing thespians hawking respectable remedies who tried their best to deliver an experience of wellness and wonder.  Even in cases where the medicine sold didn’t do all that was promised (as was also sometimes the case with more “mainstream” meds sold in 19th and early 20th century drugstores,  some of which contained dangerous levels of morphine, opium, etc.), the show itself delivered a placebo effect, lifting folks’ spirits and, consequently, helping the body to heal itself. Many med-show elixirs, of course, were derived from plants, drawing on  herbal traditions of Native America, the Old World, and the mystic distant Orient. The mesmerizing orators who ballyhooed their healing powers were alt-med pioneers. Today even the most austere physician will generally concur that some plant-based medicines are efficacious remedies. And few would deny that there is a connection between the mind, the emotions, and the relative well-being of the earthly vessel in which such mysteries are lodged.  All of which encourages a reconsideration of the American medicine show.”

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And I must leave you with a final excerpt from Plant Healer’s upcoming Herbaria issue, voiced by my partner Kiva Rose in her piece “Falling in Love With Flowers”:

“In a culture of deconstruction and fragmentation, it can be hard to re-vision the world through eyes that are able to see the essential wholeness of life and the dance that each participant contributes to that whole. It can be difficult indeed to see what connects us in addition to what separates us. And yet, it is the infinitely satisfying purpose of each of one of us to recognize our innate kinship to our larger self and to nourish it, one intimate relationship at a time. The better we know the food we eat, the trees we rest beneath, the birds that sing to us and the land that sustains us the better we will know ourselves. Likewise, the more attention and nourishment we give our bodies and our whole, authentic selves, the deeper we will be able to know the world around us. The impact ripples in every direction, showing us how very important every decision and action really is, how every note and every pause between notes changes and fills the song. Proving once again, how we really do have the power to effect and change, to heal the whole wide world through every flower we fall in love with and each conscious step we take.”

Kiva Rose with loved Artemesia

Kiva Rose with loved Artemisia


To read the entire articles, be sure you are subscribed before the June issue of Herbaria releases this Monday, the 22nd.  Simply enter your name and email address at the left side of any page at: www.PlantHealer.org

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Jun 142015

Spiral Stone Tibradden


New Science, Vitalism, & Healing

by Guido Masé

Guido Masé is a clinical herbalist, herbal educator, garden steward specializing in holistic Western herbalism, valued columnist for Plant Healer Magazine, and esteemed teacher at the upcoming Traditions in Western Herbalism Conference atop New Mexico’s Sky Island (click on: www.PlantHealer.org/intro.html).  Guido’s teaching style is a good fit for Plant Healer publications and events, focusing as it does on conveying the interconnections within the human organism and between the organism and its surrounding ecology, with a constant eye to the amazing beauty such study reveals: at any level, and in many different “languages”, herbs mirror people, the plant and animal kingdoms grew up together as complements. Such a relational awareness provides meaning and context, critical elements to understanding and also to healing. Learn more about his work and the Vermont Center for Integrative Herbalism school programs at: http://www.vtherbcenter.org

The following essay is excerpted from the Summer issue of Plant Healer Magazine, available by subscription.  To read an excerpt of an in-depth interview with Guido in an upcoming issue of Herbaria Newsletter, subscribe for free by entering your name and email at: www.PlantHealer.org


When I get to the top of a hill, or to a rocky outcrop in the forest, I like to take a moment and put my hands on the raw stone. It can feel hot, if it is exposed in the middle of a summer day; or cool, if it is deep in the shade of the forest. From here, if I slow down a bit, I can get a sense of the roots of the mountain, deep and rocky, cracked and trickling with water, deeper and deeper until it almost feels like I am in touch with a kind of consciousness. But are rocks conscious? Are they alive? Perhaps not in the traditional sense. Although without these rocky bones, the water would not flow the way it does. Streams and swamps would be different, soil would build up in different places. Different trees would grow, different birds would alight on different branches, we would walk different trails and build our homes in different ways. In short, without these rocks, everything would be different. Scoured by glaciers long ago, these stones are a vibrant, essential part of this valley. If the valley is alive, then the rocks must share a piece of its consciousness. Stones, plants, fungi and beasts co-evolved.

pebble stone spiralWhat does this mean? Can life forms be really simple – as simple as a pebble in the streambed? Can all the pieces of an ecosystem hold a kind of consciousness, maybe not exactly like ours, but still alive and perceptive? If you speak with healers from many different traditions, your answer will most often be affirmative. There is a vitality that courses through all of the world, from the waters of the ocean to the rocks of the highest mountains. There is vital force – and it may actually predate matter. It is pattern-organizing, it possesses understandable features, it is self-similar at many levels. Or so the story goes.

But this vital force, the élan vital, has been a discredited concept for over two hundred years in the Western system of thought. Those of us who talk about vitalism, about dissipation-adaptationnourishing this power in our gardens, our forests, our bodies and spirits, are ostensibly barking up the wrong tree: a tree that withered and died long ago. So it becomes very difficult, in academic circles, in writing, or even at family gatherings, to have conversations about vitalism, energetics, or other models that speak of qi, unseen forces, humors and balance in our physiologies. Energy systems are an archaic way of thinking. If there is an “energy” coursing through the universe, it is the dissipative force: everything is fading into a slow, homogenous dust. Entropy rules. Vitalism is dead.

Or is it? The Taoist masters talk about a “way” that generates all things, but also grinds them into dust. All around us, we see life increasing in richness. How can we reconcile the homogenizing force of entropy with the “clumping” and complexity everywhere? Many argue that this “clumping” is a rarity – and that may be the case – but it seems that, out of an initial clumpy distribution of energy in the universe, matter and life have exploded into greater and greater diversity in those rare places of high energy concentration. Why is this? Why did the dust surrounding our proto-star clump into planets? Why did the crust of our planet become so complex, when it was once mostly molten silicates? It all makes little sense, because concentrating matter into planets is the exact opposite of diffusion (and diffusion is a clear outcome of the entropic drive).

It turns out that built right in to the concept of entropy is a tendency to generate more and more complex structures. Jeremy England, a researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, spends his days analyzing dissipative structures: systems that take in energy and efficiently distribute it over a wide area. The systems in question are exposed to an energy source and are suspended in a bath of some kind: water, air, plasma. A matrix. What the England lab has discovered is that a system of atoms or particles, when caught between an energy source and a matrix, will continually rearrange itself, increasing in complexity and reproducing its structure.

In so doing it dissipates energy into the matrix more and more efficiently. In other words, life arises to better fulfill the goals of entropy. Birth and death are the same thing. Yang flows into yin, harnesses substance, and generates the ten thousand things.

While this may help explain how life and a drive to complexity may exist hand-in-glove with the entropic drive of the second law of thermodynamics, it still doesn’t explain why people use concepts like the four elements, five phases, humors, ama and agni, or any other energetic descriptions. An animating, vital tendency may exist in all matter as it attempts to dissipate the energy of the universe, but why describe it in such broad, metaphorical strokes? Isn’t this outdated language?

scientistOne of recent history’s most prolific mathematical geniuses, Stephen Wolfram has spent years developing more and more sophisticated models of computation. He uses computers to simulate reality – and provide answers for engineers, weather forecasters, and scientists in a wide range of disciplines. But what makes his work unique is his approach to creating models. Take, for example, the problem of determining how a block of concrete will break under stress. What does the crack look like? Where does it go? This a very difficult process to predict accurately. Historically, it involved massive tangles of equations. Inputs including vector forces, the structure and density of the materials, temperature, pressure, and many, many more fed into these equations and a computer attempted to give a “best guess” as to the outcome. This approach attempts to predict outcomes by reducing the system to its components and their relationships.  Wolfram’s approach is different: instead of trying to identify and catalog all of the complexity of a living system, he looks for a simple system that behaves just like the complex one. He has hit on a just such a simple mathematical tool that generates endless complexity: the cellular automaton(.

cellular automatonThrough these constructs, he has created models that predict concrete shear much more accurately than any reductionist system ever has. So much so, in fact, that engineers now use a cellular-automaton-based system much more often: not just for concrete fracturing(4), but for urban flood planning, evacuation protocols(6), even the stock market – among many others. Two interesting insights follow from this development: first, many processes in the universe seem to follow this simple model, from seashell patterning, to concrete shear, to wood snapping, to spirals forming, to fractals nesting.  Second – and this is crucial – it is impossible to actually predict what the next step, the outcome of the system, will be without actually watching it move. That is to say, we can’t predict the future by taking a snapshot of the present, even if we know all the relationships and laws of the universe. This had been the dream of the Newtonian “clockwork” universe: the idea that we would
discover a master equation to predict all outcomes from a given set of conditions. Wolfram has proved that this is impossible for cellular automata, and calls it “the principle of computational irreducibility”. In the common tongue, it means we can’t get to understanding through reductionism. We have to watch the process flow. Ecologists are beginning to understand this inescapable fact.


Taking these two insights into the discipline of medicine, we can make some interesting observations. Prognosis – the art of understanding how a disease will progress, and also how a medicine or treatment will affect the progression – is very tricky business. There are many variables involved. We have attempted biomedical models, based on receptor structure, genetic expression, and so much more. These predictive models work fairly well, but there is still a lot of uncertainty, especially in the more subtle and complex situations. Take, for example, the use of antidepressants. Many physicians like to use SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), but often cycle through many different ones, starting with Prozac, then maybe trying Paxil, and finally settling on Celexa (for example). They are all SSRIs, but some work in certain people, while others don’t. I have even heard physician speak in strange ways about them. “I’ve found Paxil is better for a skinnier, anxious person,” they say. Huh?


So perhaps we can inform prognosis, and perhaps diagnosis too, by applying the idea that a given set of conditions (patient, disease and intervention) can’t really ever give a consistently accurate prediction through an equation or algorithm. Even our most detailed understanding of the body, even a complete map of the whole genome, the whole proteome, microbiome and interactome, cannot yield the predictive power we are looking for. Computational irreducibility proves this. So what are we left with? Useful approximations, for one – and medicine has been relying on these for the last century. But more importantly, faced with the fact that reductionist approaches will always be approximate, to deepen our practice and improve our results we would do well to follow Wolfram’s lead: if we don’t want to watch the disease process unfold in order to see what the future holds (because the future could include death!), perhaps we should watch a simpler model. After all, simple models are able to predict a range of different phenomena incredibly accurately, much better than reductionist approximations. Can this apply to medicine?

Guido Masé teaching at Traditions in Western Herbalism Conference - The Herbal Resurgence

Guido Masé teaching at Traditions in Western Herbalism Conference – The Herbal Resurgence

The cellular automaton models seem to apply at many levels of reality – from weather patterns to chemical reactions. The patterns they weave hold within them spirals, self-similar cracks, repeaters, reproducing sequences. This presents powerful mathematical evidence, beyond such well-known constants such as φ (phi), that broad self-similarity exists at all levels of reality, and that the same models are equally applicable at all levels. What if the processes we observe in medicine (disease, pharmacodynamics, healing) draw on these models, too? If this were the case, then by observing processes at one level, we could gain relevant insight into medicine and healing. Perhaps the way the weather moves, the way ice cracks and flows into water, the way summer clouds gather into storms on the updrafts of July, all can tell us something about the human body. Perhaps the way fire warms your soup, or wind dries your skin, can give insight into medicine and healing. The current cutting edge of science is telling us that an animating drive towards complexity, adaptation, and reproduction exists at the most basic levels of matter. It affirms that it is impossible to predict outcomes by reducing the current situation to components and running those components through an equation. And it encourages us to seek out patterns we can observe to understand how health and disease work, because reality, though complex, is based on simple patterns and is largely self-similar, with simple models underlying all behavior.  Does this sound familiar?

shell colored

What remains to be seen is whether these energetic, vitalist ideas actually have any bearing in medicine and applied pharmacology. While we have not yet fully built this bridge, the basic infrastructure does exist: network pharmacology, which uses concepts from systems and network graph theories, attempts to understand how medicine works by focusing on structures that are echoed at many levels of reality. Concepts like “hubs” and connectors, which are absent from “random” networks, are found easily in everything from ecologies to the interaction of molecules with the protein networks in human physiology. They can be used to predict how drugs will work in a living system, and how a disease will progress. Since we understand how networks work (by observing them at many different levels of reality), academic researchers are starting to apply these ideas to how medicinal plants help with disease, and how different people with the same  “condition” might respond differently to the same herb. This is powerful stuff, and it won’t be long now before traditional concepts of energetics will become a source of wisdom to understand how medicine works. Herbalists will be ready.

stone design

So next time you feel the cool stone beneath your fingers, deep in an old-growth grove, your harvest basket full of summer’s wild harvest, think about the vital force that brought this all into being. Remember how it courses through all things, invisible but understandable, with clear patterns that are both simple and incredibly powerful. Patterns that are encoded into energetic concepts. Energies that are brought to bear in healing human suffering. Vitalism is alive and well – you just need a new language if you want to talk about it with physicists and physicians. I prefer the poetry of weather, the whispers of spirits. But physics and math weave amazing stories, too. And herbalists have always been equal-opportunity storytellers.

(Share & RePost Freely – with Credit & Links)

Jesse Wolf Hardin & Guido Mase at Traditions in Western Herbalism Conference - www.PlantHealer.org

Jesse Wolf Hardin & Guido Mase at Traditions in Western Herbalism Conference – www.PlantHealer.org

Jun 082015

Good, The Bad, The Efficacious

The Good, The Bad, & The Efficacious

Reassessing How We Think & Speak About Herbs, Ailments, & Ourselves

by Jesse Wolf Hardin

The following essay is excerpted from the Summer issue of Plant Healer Magazine, available by subscription.


“Our chosen language can either further or limit an immediate goal or larger mission. And it is the ideas that our chosen words convey that can either weaken our positions and purpose, or else help to make truly effective healing action possible.”  –The Language of Healing, Chapter 6 of The Plant Healer’s Path

What are the effects of the words we use – on our perspective, assumptions, and approaches?  What do we actually mean when we say that something is good?  How do terms like “bad” impact the client, their mood and ability to hope, their fears, stress and nervousness, and thus their ailments and outcome?  And how are we ourselves affected by our thoughts and statements, not just by what we take into our mouths but by those utterances that issue from them?

In the foundational book for herbalists – The Plant Healer’s Path – I wrote about the power and consequence of the words we choose to use, focusing on terms that are particular to a healing profession.  It is just as important, however, that we pay attention to even the most common and widely employed vernacular, since there can be so many different connotations… and because the meaning and associations they communicate can hamper as well as help our healing intention or mission.  

A perfect example is the matter of “good and bad.”  Over the course of years, I have heard an increasing number of herbalists equate “good” with “good enough,” thereby lessening their hunger to learn and their drive to excel, and thus their improvement and progress.  When folks gather to discuss which healing practices in particular have proven the most effective, and to point out which don’t seem to work, there is often someone in the group who wants to see every method or idea as equal.  “It’s all good,” they may say.

Even more potentially harmful is the use of “bad.”  Bad people are people who intend to cause harm, or who are aware they are doing hurtful things but do nothing to stop or change.  So, when we talk about a “bad illness” we are portraying it as not only severely but intentionally harmful.  A virus goes from being simply a self serving microbe to being a conscious villain in our telling.  When framed this way, healing becomes intercessional and confrontational, a war against disease instead of holistic treatment.  And worst of all, is how many people getting into herbalism insist that they are “bad herbalists.”  This language reinforces a debilitating lack of confidence in one’s abilities, feeding a sense of insufficiency, and engendering a sense of fatalism about the possibilities of improving.  Its tone infers that we are flawed, unworthy, and unblessed.

Good & Bad Herbalist Signs

Breaking Bad


1. Of poor quality; inferior.

2. Not such as to be hoped for or desired, such as a “bad outcome.”

3. Something that is “bad for you.”:

4. Something that is unlikely, such as: “her chances were bad.”

5. Something defective: a “bad assessment” or “bad choice.”

6. A part of the body that is defective, injured, diseased, or causing pain: for example, “a bad back.”

7. Feeling poorly, as in: “She feels bad.”

8. Feeling bad about something: feeling guilt, regret, or shame.

9. Someone morally depraved or wicked: “the bad guy.”

10. Something inappropriate, such as: a “bad joke” 

It is almost never helpful to use the word “bad” in reference to fellow healthcare providers, unless in the slang sense of “great” or “rad!”  I’ll explain why.

For example, in discussions about official new herbal product manufacturing regulations, I have heard it said that no one who strives for safe practices and obeys the law needs to be concerned, and that only “bad herbalists” or “bad producers” have reason to worry.  Not only is this an inaccurate statement, but this use of the word “bad” contributes to the stratification, exclusion, and elitism that folk herbalism generally and very thankfully avoids. Besides, how could one accurately and fairly declare what is good or bad?  Is a manufacturer bad if they fail to competently source and test the botanicals they use, or only if it deliberately and greedily sells useless or harmful products?  If someone’s assessment and recommendations have repeatedly proven harmful, it at least makes some sense to call him or her a “bad herbalist.”  Scarily, when using this label and measure it becomes all too easy to apply it to people who simply don’t know very much about herbs yet, or to all those who haven’t been able to qualify for a professional membership, or to any practitioner or producer willing to break with convention or law.

I have met thousands of plant healers and manufacturers over the many years that I have been co-creating herbal events and Plant Healer Magazine, yet I can say that I have never encountered a literally “bad herbalist” – which to my definition, would have to be a plant healer with bad intentions.  At worst, some of us can be misinformed, under-informed, or ineffective dispensers of recommendations and herbs, but no caring soul who is genuinely devoted to healing others can ever be fairly called “bad.”  Such characterizations can be poisonous to the folk herbal movement, damaging the cohesiveness and hence the health and reach of the community.

Potentially just as toxic, is that unfortunate habit I mentioned earlier – of unsure practitioners or out-n’-out newbies characterizing ourselves as “bad” herbalists.  While humility can appear lovely or noble, this kind of self-denigration does nothing to encourage us or empower our work.  Feeling bad about ourselves makes it less likely we’ll feel like striving to learn what we need, or to develop more advanced skills… makes us less apt to chance failure and criticism doing whatever we can with what knowledge we possess, in order to try and aid the ill people we know or meet.

The problems with this word don’t end there.  It’s said that one catches a “bad cold,” but thinking of a disease or condition as bad connotes evil more than severe, and puts both the health provider and patient on a course of conflict with what are often natural processes.  Infections are imbalances more than they are invasions, and natural healing is not counterattack or eradication so much as an orchestrated return to balance, wholeness and integrity.

Good PlantBad Plant There are also no such thing as good or bad herbs.  All have a potentially positive role in the ecosystem, and often in a natural healing system.  Some that can be harmful or even deadly in large amounts, are exceedingly beneficial in smaller, appropriate dosages. All can potentially have a negative impact, as well, depending on a person’s condition and symptoms, their constitution, and their overall vitality.  

The Wild Carrot in many botanical face creams may be “good” for others, but when I tried using them they greatly aggravated my HCV-triggered dermatitis, and I had to quickly switch back to Rosalee de la Foret’s Wild Rose cream to gently soothe my cheeks instead.   Liver stimulants like Berberis spp. have the potential to help people with a sluggish liver by initiating mild irritation, yet can be harmful to someone like me with an already overstimulated liver.  My partner Kiva points out that the warming aromatics of plants like Oshá can both dry up boggy, congested tissues and assist in either preventing or treating respiratory infection through its volatile oils and yet can actually aggravate dry, hot lung conditions in sensitive folks.

Before we refer to problems, practitioners or practices, plants or protocols as “bad,” let’s take a moment to question this loaded word’s various definitions as related to herbalism:

1. Of poor quality; inferior.

Is what we may call a “bad” disease really of poor quality, or is it actually quite well and robust?  Do you think it helps or hurts to categorize beginning or less effective herbalists as inferior?

2. Not such as to be hoped for or desired, such as a “bad outcome.”

Isn’t an outcome more accurately described as undesirable, unfortunate, or unpleasant?

3. Something that is “bad for you.”:

Gluten can be said to be unsuitable for certain people’s constitutions and digestion, but can it really be bad if it doesn’t mean to hurt us?

4. Something that is unlikely, such as: “her chances were bad.”

Are our chances of making a living from herbalism bad?  Or are they simply difficult odds to hopefully be overcome by our passion and perseverance? 

5. Something defective: a “bad assessment.”

An assessment/diagnosis may be inaccurate, but is it really bad?  It depends on if the herbalist offering the assessment intends well, or intends ill.  Obviously most practitioners as well as family members mean the best when they attempt to determine what is making someone ill.

6. A part of the body that is defective, injured, diseased, or causing pain: for example, “a bad back.”

We don’t call a person bad if they are weakened by disease or suffer an accident, so why would we call a well-purposed organ bad when it is having trouble?  It’s not a “bad back” if it bore a person’s loads for some part of their life, not bad because it hurts or fails after an accident, or after years of being subjected to poor posture or extreme loads. And rather than being defective, an organ is more often injured, impaired, obstructed, undernourished, or otherwise compromised.

7. Feeling poorly, as in: “she feels bad.”

Someone may feel in pain or even downright miserable, but they’re not “feeling bad” unless they are feeling like causing hurt to people or things… or perhaps, feeling deliciously mischievous, like ditching responsibilities, having an early shot of mezcal, or breaking some boring rules or conventions!

8. Feeling bad about something: feeling guilt, regret, or shame.

Are you really feeling bad about people’s illnesses and the worsening state of our world, or isn’t it more likely that you feel concerned, or disappointed, or alarmed, or unable to help as much as you would like?

9. Someone morally depraved or wicked: “the bad guy.”

And yet, some of us still speak of ourselves as being “bad herbalists”?  Really?

10. Something inappropriate, such as: a “bad joke” 

Finally, our use of this word isn’t a bad joke, it just that the consequences aren’t funny.  Our usage of such loaded terms does not constitute “bad language,” it is simply a case of problematic and sometimes counterproductive terminology.  And it will not ensure we’re seen as good, just because we learn to use the language better.

Some alternative terms to consider include:

Unsuitable: Not a good fit or match for a person or condition.

Problematic: Possibly useful, but with potential difficulties or side effects.

Counterproductive: Obstructive to the aims of a practice or treatment

Harmful: Causing bodily or other harm, usually conditional.

Severe: Extreme, in a negative sense.

Dangerous: Having the potential to cause harm or death, such as when a plant or drug are used improperly.

(And of course) 

Unwell: Out of balance, ailing, suffering.

Good and Bad Rubber Ducklings

Being or Doing Good

good |go͝od|(adjective)

1. To be desired or approved of.

2. Having the qualities required for a particular role

3. Possessing or displaying moral virtue

4. Obedient to rules or conventions

“Good” is a word that is used much more than “bad” in the herbalist community, and a quality more common to its members.  Herbalists tend to have hearts full of goodness.  We are likely try to good for others even when it doesn’t pay or benefit us directly.  We look for those herbs that work good in various situations, and we strive for a good outcome.  We do things for the good (benefit) of the plants and their habitats, of our society and cultures, for the good of the world.  Most of us try not to needlessly offend anyone.  We compliment each other on our good work.  Most of the word’s definitions describe the majority of people we call plant healers:

1. To be desired or approved of.

The work we do is highly desired, as is health and vitality itself, even if herbalism has yet to receive the approval of either the medical industry or the general public.

2. Having the qualities required for a particular role.

The primary qualities for being an herbalist are concern, compassion, appreciation for plant medicine, and a desire to learn and develop – which nearly everyone called to this field embody and exhibit.  

3. Possessing or displaying moral virtue.

Moral judgments have caused much inequity and misery throughout history, but if herbalism is characterized by a morality, it is in service to life, nature, diversity, balance, free expression and vitality.  Its virtues are compassion, devotion, nurturance and nourishment, alliance between natural medicines and the natural body, an active reconciling of science and intuition or magic, and a willingness to use methods outside the scope of conventional MDs.

4. Obedient to rules or conventions.

Okay, three out of four ain’t bad!  Herbalism, by its very nature, is truly unconventional in the modern age.  And what could be better, than trying to do good even when there are rules against it?

You are good – a good herbalist/person – if you care about the suffering of people and animals, if you delight in plants and are a student of their natures and actions, and if you do you best to assist the natural processes of healing.  This last aspect is perhaps the most important, since anyone’s goodness depends on the actual good that we do.

This Doesn’t Mean That “It’s All Good”

No one who cares about others and attempts to help them ought to ever think of themselves as a “bad herbalist,” but this is not to say that we shouldn’t make an effort to continue evolving.  If we do good work, we can probably do better.  The most experienced practitioner, just like the newbie, has some degree of capacity for new insights, to increase our knowledge, to develop greater understanding, and to improve our skills.  We shouldn’t wait until we reach some arbitrary level of knowledge and skills before trying to help people, but neither can we be complacent about our continuing education or our real-world effects.  “Folk” herbalism doesn’t mean without consequence, nor does it imply casual, undisciplined, or untested.  After all, there can be serious consequences to how we do or don’t treat ourselves and others.

Trying to help someone assess their health problems is a good thing, and there is no such thing as a “bad” assessment/diagnosis – but that doesn’t mean there aren’t ineffective, unhelpful, counterproductive, and even downright harmful misdiagnosis.  At the very least, an inaccurate reading of a person’s symptoms, condition and constitution can mean spending time and money on a protocol that is unneeded, resulting in a delay in getting useful medical and/or herbal treatment for a worsening condition.  

Herbs are good things, you surely agree, and yet they are not always “good for us” – depending on various factors.  There are definitely certain dosages, situations, and plant species that can be harmful.  We’re much more helpful as practitioners when the expression and attitude “it’s all good” gives way to deepening understanding, evaluating, and discerning… determining which herbs to give for which conditions, to which types of people, in which amounts, and prepared in what particular ways.

Good and Bad split

A Language of Efficacy


1. Successful in producing a desirable or intended result.

2. Effective.

If our aim is to assist making ourselves, others, society, our environment, and the natural world more healthy, we would be wise to stop thinking, speaking and writing about these things in terms of good and bad.  I hate to sound like a stereotypical Choleric, but if our goal of healing matters, if results matter, then the optimum word is “effective,” and the operative question becomeshow effective?”  How effective a particular plant is, in what situations and amounts.  How effective our assessments and treatments are, as measured by outcomes.  How effectively we reduce the suffering of our clients, how effectively we encourage and support the revitalization of their very lives.

Increased effectuality requires extensive research on our parts, repeat experimentation (trial and error), continuing analysis, critical thinking, courageous reconsideration, adaptation and amendment.  It is through increasing awareness and effort that our work becomes more effective – potent, constructive, beneficial, successful, and for these reasons, valuable.  We’ll be more effective in our healing mission, and therefore more effectively satisfied and fulfilled, the more carefully we pick our path of learning, our work and role, our perspectives and approaches, our treatments and methods… our herbs, and our words.


(RePost and Forward Freely)

Apr 192015

Plant Healer Parents Group Forming

A commitment to teaching the craft, ethos, and values of folk herbalism to kids and teens is one of the most important things we can do for our species, our planet, and our future.  Asa, Lauren, and the Plant Healer Parents group are doing all they can to move this vision forward… not only by creating a program for your kids at the upcoming Traditions in Western Herbalism Conference, but all year long through parent networking, sharing, and alliance.  Kiva and I recommend this google group as a resource to any parent or teacher of young’ns, whether you are planning to attend TWHC or not.  And we hope you enjoy our friend Asa Henderson’s beautiful piece that follows, excerpted from the latest issue of Plant Healer’s free Herbaria Newsletter releasing Apr 21st.  –Wolf & Kiva

Plant Healer Parents Group poster72dpi

Join in Encouraging a New Generation of Wild Herbalists

by Asa Henderson

The beauty and the frustration of raising kids is that they are full of wild energy. What I mean by energy is that thing that wells up in us and spills out into the world.  My son’s energy comes out as beautiful artistic creations, and (when he was a bit younger) as the impulse to tackle anyone he either liked or didn’t like.

Asa Lauren Athil at TWHC 72dpi

There’s a delicate balance that we have to strike as parents between letting our kids’ energies run completely wild, and squashing them or making them wrong and bad.  My son is learning not to throw things behind his head inside the house.  He’s learning to look where he’s going to land before he summersaults.  He’s (mostly) learned not to wrestle in school.  He’s also learning to play the drums, to practice a beat over and over again until it flows out of him without a thought.  He’s learned to write letters, and then some words, and now he spontaneously writes love notes to friends and relatives.

Irish woman and kids72dpi

There’s a finesse (which I have far from mastered) to directing our kids’ energies in life-promoting directions without repressing or condemning the energies themselves.  We have to strike this balance because those energies come from the place where we are one with Creation.  Those energies that well up inside us and impel us to act, they come from our basic life force, our basic vitality, our anima. And as a parent, my primary job is to guide this vital force, this little ball of energy that is my son, to express in ways that serve Creation.  Which is why one of my favorite things to do for him is to bring him somewhere where his vital force can interact freely with that of other creatures—plants, animals, sticks and rocks.  There’s a freedom a kid can have in a forest or open field that it’s a lot harder to give him in our very cozy 700-square-foot trailer.  Kids need time and space to throw, dig, pick stuff up at random and see what can be done with it, run, roll, hike, explore.  They need time being part of a system that reflects their vitality back to them rather than trying to control it.

26402 Arbor Day Foundation Nature ExploreThe Traditions in Western Herbalism Conference has been such a place for my son, every year since it (and he) was born.  That’s why I and my wife volunteered to coordinate a kids’ camp for TWHC 2015.  We already have an amazing group of parent volunteers (and other herbalists who love kids), who have come up with some wonderful classes and activities.  There will be nature-based arts and crafts such as printing with plants, coloring with plant pigments, and connecting with plants through song and movement.  There will be experiential explorations of herbs through taste, smell, touch, and medicine making.  There will be hikes, herb walks, imaginative adventure story quests, fairy houses, and lots of free play in nature.  We will have separate activities and childcare for young kids (under 3 or 4) and older kids, so the young ones will be safe while the older ones can explore more adventurously.

If you’re as excited as I am about this and would like to help make it happen or have an idea for an activity you’d like to guide, contact me at asahenderson@gmail.com to volunteer.

But the most important ingredient in this awesome kids’ camp is the kids, so the most important thing you can do is bring them!  They’ll get to enjoy the freedom of being in nature and the kind of knowledge that only comes from direct experience with plants and wild places.  You’ll get to enjoy the classes while someone else plays with your kids.  Most importantly, the conference will benefit from the vitality of your kids, and the movement toward a humanity more attuned to nature will get a new generation of ambassadors!

Caroline with kids72dpi

For more information or to join the growing Plant Healer Parents Group, email Asa at:  asahenderson@gmail.com

To register you and your children for the TWH Conference & Kid’s Camp, click on the:TWHC Website

Apr 142015

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Planning continues for the upcoming Traditions in Western Herbalism Conference, and the release of yet more Plant Healer books and magazines… but somehow or other we are managing to also make time for another supplemental Herbaria Newsletter.  Herbaria is absolutely free to anyone subscribing, with the upcoming April issue containing 50 color pages of herbal information and inspiration.  You can look forward to the following and more:

• Catherine Skipper – writing about Medicinal Trees and learning to listen to them

• John Slattery, providing text and photos on the fascinating topic of harvesting and preparing edible Saguaro cactus

• Dale Pendell writes about the intersection of Deep Ecology, Wild Mind, & Psychedelic Plants

• Elka offers another delicious and healthy recipe –  Wild Mustard & Braised Beets

• An insightful interview with unconventional herbalist teacher Sam Coffman, including 1500 words of totally new material

• Plus a second interview, with the heartful herbalist, horticulturist, teacher and photographer Juliet Blankespoor

• And for those of you hoping to attend the 2015 Traditions in Western Herbalism Conference, we will be announcing this year’s exciting Dance Band!


You must be subscribed to be certain of receiving your April issue when it releases April 20th.

Subscribe Free by filling out your name and email in the space at left, on the Plant Healer website:


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Mar 262015

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We periodically like to profile our Traditions in Western Herbalism Conference teachers here, some of the best teachers in the herbal field today.

Shana Lipner Grover was one of the popular of last year’s instructors, impressing attendees with her vast herbal knowledge and considerable experience, her passion and love for the plants, and her clear communication skills.  We’re honored to promote her work, and to have her back teaching in 2015: one class on the late Michael Moore’s constitutional system, one on the very useful Ceanothus, and another with Rebecca Altman about medicinal plants of the Southwest and how place affects us and our treatments. If you don’t know, the Michael was one of the most influential herbalists of his generation, and his systems of assessment and protocols have been an immense influence on many practitioners including Shana, Howie Brounstein, and ourselves (Kiva and Wolf).

Shana Grover is a nature lover, plant medicine explorer, Clinical Herbalist, and all around wonderful person.  Her herbal school and business, Sage Country Herbs, is a result of over 15 years of working and playing in natures gifts.  She offers a Botanical Medicine Apprenticeship that is 80% field classes, and an ever expanding herbal product line by the same name.  Shana’s time is spent going for hikes, exploring ecology as well as offering plant walks, workshops and teaching about local, native and medicinal plants.  She also keeps up a clinical practice in North County, San Diego, with a focus on empowering people and their health through nutrition, lifestyle, and herbal medicine.

When we realized she did not have business logo yet, Wolf wanted to show our appreciation for her by taking time to draw one for her.  For the “sage” in Sage Country, Shana wanted a likeness of her local and much valued Black Sage (Salvia mellifera), which Wolf stylized and brought to life for her.  We’ll paste it here for you to see:

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If you are interested in attending her TWHC classes in New Mexico this September, check out the full descriptions below.  And we if you live in California, we recommend you consider attending Sage Country school as part of your important herbal education.

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Shana’s 2015 TWHC Classes:

Michael Moore Constitutional System: Anabolic/Catabolic/Thyroid

(1.5 hrs)

There are many different theories of constitution, 5 Element Theory, the Doshas of Ayurveda and the Four Humours are commonly recognized.  Michael Moore developed his own constitutional theory as a means to categorizing tendencies in the body to see a bigger picture of health. By utilizing constitution information, a practitioner can make choices in protocols to aid the body in finding balance beyond one organ system showing symptoms and effect change on a deeper level.  We will cover an introduction to understanding Anabolic, Catabolic and Thyroid constitutions and the manifestation of their tendencies in physiology and their herbal allies.

Ceanothus: Lymphatic & Beyond

(1.5 hrs)

Ceanothus is a North American native genus with many species and a wide breadth of medicinal function.  It is a woody shrub that ranges from small bush to small tree in size and diversity. This is a plant steeped in herbal history of this country from sea to shining sea! Having its greatest effect on membranes and the lymphatic system, and the interconnectedness with all other systems; Ceanothus is a powerful ally when used appropriately .  We will explore medicinal differences in species and parts used; as well as it’s role in inflammation, congestion, membrane integrity, immune function, transfer of fluids, cardiovascular function and much more.

Southwest Plants, Southwest Constitutions: The Influence of Place on Conditions & Treatments

(with Rebecca Altman) (1.5 hrs)

In this class Shana and Rebecca will talk about the ways that one’s place/bioregion influences the kinds of ailments are encountered and determines which herbs work best.  By way of example, they will focus on the ecological experience of moving to the American Southwest: how residing in a hot and dry location affects the constitutions of the people living there, and how the plants that grow there prove uniquely suited.  They will discuss therapeutics for environmental imbalances, while covering a number of key Southwestern herbs and their actions, such as Yerba Mansa, Ocotillo, Nettle, and Marshmallow.

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For more information or to register, click on this link to our: Traditions in Western Herbalism Conference 

Mar 202015

Free March Issue of 


If you haven’t already, subscribe to Plant Healer’s absolutely free Herbaria Newsletter for a monthly dose of herbal information and skills.  The exciting March issue will be released soon, containing 2 inspiring interviews and 4 articles for herbalists and anyone interested in using plants for medicine:

Paul Bergner3-72dpi1. Paul Bergner brings us the History & Vision of The Herbal Resurgence, an uplifting synopsis of the contemporary rise of folk herbalism that he wrote as a special Foreword to our new collection of Plant Healer Magazine articles from 2010-2014 – The Treasury of Herbal Wisdom.

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2. Dara Saville is becoming one of the better writers in this field, contributing to both PH Magazine and Herbaria.  An Albuquerque based bioregional herbalist, she shares with us the story of her new Yerba Mansa Restoration project, an ambitious effort to inventory and reintroduce this important native herb in the riparian Bosque along the Rio Grande River.

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3. Susun Weed is the long popular teacher of the Wise Woman Tradition, providing here an excerpt from her PH Magazine series on her Medicine Wheel of Plant Uses, this time a grounding and centering piece titled Coming Home To Our Roots.

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4. Sabrina Lutes is the primary contributor to PH Magazine’s column about administering herbs to children and pregnant women.  For this March issue of Herbaria, she contributes an original article on Integrating Herbal Modalities that has never appeared in PHM or elsewhere… hope you enjoy it!

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5. Katja Swift is the subject of our first Herbaria interview this issue, a Boston-based herbal practitioner with excellent deductive skills and an ability to personalize and bring to life even the most complex information.


6. Thomas Easley joins us in conversation for a second interview this issue, an up and coming herbalist teacher who recently moved his practice to North Carolina.  We expect you will find much of what he says fascinating and helpful, with these herbalist interviews providing inspiration for the deepening and growing of our own personal herbal paths.

To ensure you receive every month’s free issue, be sure you are subscribed.  To subscribe, simply enter your name and email address in the space provided at the left of the screen on our website:


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Mar 152015

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A Healthy Look at Anger

Hospital-Caused Deaths, Twitter Indicators, Heart Attack & Prevention

by Jesse Wolf Hardin

Plant Healer Magazine

The second greatest cause of deaths in this country are factors associated with conventional hospital care, from misdiagnosis to resistant infection and drug side effects, as my partner Kiva and I regularly lament.  Recently our esteemed herbalist friend Paul Bergner alerted us to a report in a 2013 edition of The Journal of Patient Safety, discussing extensive research indicating there are an estimated 400,000 deaths per year directly related to drug-based modern medicine and hospital care.  These statistics, you must admit, are downright alarming.  More than that, they flat-out piss me off… as they likely anger a good number of our Plant Healer readers as well!

But be careful how angry you get when you stop to think about this regrettable fact, with anger looking more and more like a primary preventable trigger of the numero uno cause of death: the approximately 600,000 women and men succumbing each year to a fatal heart attack.  That anger triggers HCV symptoms and gall bladder pain, I can personally attest.  But some curious researching of twitter messaging habits makes me think about the ol’ ticker as well.

protesting-twitter-bird-72dpiSocial Media data is increasingly being analyzed by healthcare researchers for a better understanding of disease patterns and causes.  According to a January 14th, 2015 science report on National Public twitter-bird-angry-72dpiRadio, the internet platform Twitter has provided some very telling statistics.  Of particular interest to this discussion, it was found that those places where the greatest number of angry “tweets” issue from, strongly correlated with those areas reporting the greatest number of deaths from heart attack.  As NPR science reporter Shankar Vedantam explained:

“There’s new work now that connects Twitter with heart disease, because it turns out that you can trace many tweets to the location from which they were sent. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and other schools traced these tweets and then they analyzed the language in the tweets to see if they were expressing anger, or love, or boredom. And they find, in an analysis of more than 1,300 counties, that the amount of anger expressed on Twitter is a very powerful predictor of heart disease in those counties. And in fact, anger, hostility and aggression on Twitter is better able to predict patterns of heart disease than 10 other leading health indicators, including smoking, obesity and hypertension.

Bergner points reminds us that correlation is at best indication, and does not equal causation: “Sometimes two things that seem causally correlated are both caused by something else. What if living in a high crime expensive polluted city causes heart attacks, and also causes people to be angry?  With obesity and heart attacks, the correlation disappears when you remove insulin resistance, the insulin resistance causes the obesity and it causes the heart attacks.”

Yet, even if a direct causative relationship between anger and heart attacks remains unproven, it would seem to be their mutual causes that need to be determinedly addressed.  


There is much to be upset about, and crucial for a healer of any kind – herbalist, nurse, nurturer, culture-shifter – empathize with, hurt over, take exception to, and try to address, confront, transform, or otherwise heal.  Dwelling in our pain and anger, however, is likely to do more damage to our health than bring justice to the world.  Instead, acting on our feelings can vent dangerous pent-up frustration, releasing tension through direct action and purposeful effort regardless of how successful such efforts and acts are.  I am angry over the persecution of herbalists and marginalizing of herbalism, and the threat posed by pharmaceuticals.  I’m ticked-off about the lying and manipulative politicians of both parties who continue destroying the environment and supporting corporatism and war, riled at the disappearance of wild habitat for plants and animals and free spirited people, upset with onerous regulation and oppressive laws, disgusted with bioengineered foods and proprietary seeds.  And thus, my preventative treatments for possible future heart attacks include helping to gather, store and promote wild seed varieties, protesting against or working to change unjust laws, purchasing and restoring a riparian ecosystem and encouraging its plant and wildlife, refusing to vote for what we imagine to be the “lesser of two evils”… and supporting the herbal resurgence against all odds, in every ways possible.  With every strenuous effort I make, I can feel the anger resolve into calm deliberate purpose, feel the tension dissolving in my weight bearing shoulders, my busy head, and my still beating chest.

Most official and unofficial websites discussing heart failure give us the same, not always correct recommendations.  According to the MNT Knowledge Center, for example, the steps to preventing heart attack are:

1. Follow instructions on medications usage (!)

2. Make sure diet is low in salt, fat, and cholesterol (even though nutritional cholesterol has been proven to have no significant effect on the levels of harmful cholesterol in the blood!)

3.  Exercise in the form of a 10-minute walk…

4. Quit smoking, and

5. Avoid drinking alcohol.

Hell’s-bells, as my Papa used to say!  No mention of herbs, of course.  Not a single word about not bottling-up our emotions, or making changes in where and how we live.  Maybe we should add a fifth recommendation:


5. Don’t get angry, get even! (in other words, take charge of our own health, and work to change the dominant system!)

With that calmly considered amendment, I think I’ll ask our partner Kiva – the blender of genuinely remarkable Margaritas – if she’ll kindly fix me a drink.


Get 40+ pages of herbal health information from Plant Healer’s FREE Herbaria Newsletter, by signing up at:



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Mar 092015

Now Available To Order:


Vital Knowledge & Essential Skills

–––Selections from Plant Healer Magazine 2010-2014–––

Edited by Jesse Wolf Hardin & Kiva Rose – Foreword by Paul Bergner

345 pages, b&w, 8.5×11”  – Over 1,000 illustrations – Softcover $29

Order Your Copy Here

Now presenting a collection of intriguing, information-packed articles for the students and practitioners of herbal medicine at every level, gleaned from that esteemed quarterly: Plant Healer Magazine. 

Therein you’ll find much of what you need to provide effective health care to your family, friends, or paying clients, covering a wide range of topics from herbal history and cosmology to  using your intuition and “how to think outside the box,” from making assessments to which herbs to use for broken bones, pain or the immune system, from making herbal tinctures and unguents to enjoying herbal aphrodisiacs, and from tips for self nourishment to tips for launching your own successful herbal related business.  

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If you have been a subscriber of the digital magazine since the beginning, you may be interested in seeing many of your favorite articles in actual book form.  If you have yet to subscribe, or have only recently subscribed, here is your way to avail yourself of much of the wisdom that has been offered.  There has never been a book like this one, featuring over 50 in-depth contributions from 36 herbalist teachers:

Paul Bergner • Matthew Wood • Rosemary Gladstar • 7Song • Jim McDonald • Phyllis Light • Sean Donahue • Kiva Rose • Robin Rose Bennett • Guido Masé • Christa Sinadinos • Sam Coffman • Charles “Doc” Garcia • Juliet Blankespoor • Susun S Weed • Katja Swift • Mélanie Pulla • Dara Saville • Henriette Kress • Rebecca Altman • Rosalee de la Forêt • Corinne Boyer • Aviva Romm • Wendy Hounsel • Sabrina Lutes • Cat Lane • Erin Piorier • Michelle Czolba • Lisa Ferguson Crow • Beth Perry • Christophe Bernard • Merihelen Nuñez • Dave Meesters • Catherine Skipper • Nicole Telkes • Jesse Wolf Hardin

After decades of herbalism being both trivialized and criticized by the mainstream, there’s now an “herbal resurgence” underway – the long awaited reawakening, growth, and advancement of natural health knowledge and skills… and the coming together of a purpose-driven tribe.  The Herbal Wisdom Treasury will equip you with more of what you need on your continuing path of learning, practicing, and healing.

“By my count, in the last year, articles have appeared in Plant Healer by the founders of more than twenty North American herbal schools – fourteen of these are represented in the Treasury of Herbal Wisdom, representing every region in the country. Another fourteen herbalist practitioner/teachers appear in this collection, each with their own creative voice and accumulated experience. Plant Healer is the only resource available today, in print, on the internet, or at any conference, where you can encounter this diversity from among the innovators, the cutting edge thinkers, writers, teachers, and practitioners who are driving the creative evolution of herbalism in North America today.”     –Paul Bergner (NAIMH)

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Feb 232015

It’s time for our quarterly Sneak Peek at the upcoming Plant Healer Magazine.  Our Spring issue is yet again over 280 pages long, with another diverse selection of never before published articles covering the information, skills and issues of importance to herbalists.  After a Winter of energies stored in the roots, we can feel the new shoots ready to burst out from us, new ideas to act on, new projects to create.  Most of us have homes or families to tend, but we also need to tend our vision, our healing purpose, our endless learning and continuous growth.

To help feed that growth and purpose, we bring you here another deep well of inspiration, information and experience, written by our fellow practitioners and esteemed teachers.  Several of these will also be teaching wonderfully unique classes for us next September, including Jim McDonald, Juliet Blankespoor, Sam Coffman, Dara Saville, and 7Song, at our annual event for the folk herbal tribe: Traditions in Western Herbalism Conference

Thanks go to Susun Weed, who had to type her latest Plant Healer column one-handed after hurting her other hand on a teaching trip to Central America.  The engaging Larken Bunce is our interview subject this time, sharing the example of her plant-focused life, and offering important insights for fellow practitioners.  Juliet Blankespoor provides another advance excerpt from her amazing upcoming book on herbal cultivation, due out by this Fall.  And kudos to the accomplished artist Michael Ford for our latest Plant Healer Magazine cover, a wonderful tribute to Juliette Levy done in the style of early Illuminated Manuscripts.

Hurray for our latest Plant Healer writers!  We’re very excited to welcome the brilliant herbalist Guido Masé as our new columnist, launching his series with a considered and experienced look at FDA regulation and healthy community adaptation and response.  In future columns he will be covering all manner of topics from clinical to political, but always soulful and helpful.  We’re also happy to publish the first contribution by the talented and ecocentric Jared Rosenbaum, whose new book for young kids we also include a few sample pages of.  Jared’s sister Laura did the touching artwork for it.

Paul Bergner gifts us not only with another Herbal Rebel column (cautions regarding adaptogens), but also a synopsis of recent herbal history leading up to the current herbal resurgence you are all an important component of – a Foreword to our next Plant Healer book: A Treasury of Herbal Wisdom.  Releasing on March 1st, the book will feature many of the most intriguing, information-packed, and popular articles from Plant Healer Magazine from 2010 to 2014.

Below you’ll find a list of the Spring issue’s articles, to whet your appetite a mite ahead of time.  Subscribers can download your PDF issue on Monday, the 1st of March.  If you aren’t already subscribed, you can do so at:


“Herbal medicine has the power, when applied the way it has always been applied – traditionally, relationally, locally, with heart and mindfulness – to heal and transform every system it touches. We have all seen this many times, be it between friends and clients, in doctor-patient relationships, or even on abandoned city lots. We see increased emphasis on herbal and nutritional medicine, along with other disciplines such as acupuncture and massage, being offered alongside modern technological treatment.”  –Guido Masé

Plant Healer Magazine Spring 2015

Plant Healer Magazine Spring 2015 Table of Contents:

Michael Ford: Cover Art: Portrait of Juliette Levy

Jesse Wolf Hardin: We Are The Seeds

Paul Bergner: Introduces The Treasury of Herbal Wisdom

Jim McDonald: Free-Thinking & Energetics

Paul Bergner: Caution With Adaptogens

Guido Masé: Navigating The Herbal Products Industry

Phyllis Light: How the Pine Tree Stole My Heart

Susun Weed: Turning The Spiral, Home to Our Roots

Juliet Blankespoor: Hibiscus

Virginia Adi: More Than Turmeric: Curcuma Zedoaria

Jesse Wolf Hardin: The Healer Part II: Shamans, Nourishers, & Culture-Shifters

7Song: The Herbalist Botanist

Katja Swift: The Herbs of Iceland

Sam Coffman: Lantana

Rebecca Altman: Desert Willow

Jared Rosenbaum: Spikenard: Lifeways of a Lesser Known Forest Herb

Sam Coffman: Vaccinations, Measles & Herbs

Dara Saville: Connecting With Our Heritage Through Herbs – Early American Herbalism

Jim McDonald: Primary Actions: Diaphoretics

Matthew Wood: The Liver Part V

Sylvia Linsteadt: For Children: The Rabbit Herbalist Part III

Jared & Laura Rosenbaum: For Children: The Puddle Garden: Planting a Native Garden

Cat Lane: Working With Animals: The Elderly Canine

Charles “Doc” Garcia: Foraging: Fishing & The One That Got Away: 

Wendy “Butter” Petty: Foraging: Spring Mustards: Chorispora Tenella & Lipidium Draba

Juliet Blankespoor: Cultivation: Step by Step Guide To Creating a Garden Bed 

Elka: Foodways: Preserving & Cooking With Lemons

Charles “Doc” Garcia: The Noble History of The Humble Cough Drop

Mike Adams: FDA Enforcement

Plant Healer Interview: Larken Bunce

Jesse Wolf Hardin: Fiction for Herbalists: The Medicine Bear Part XIV

Kiva Rose Hardin: In Praise of New Mexico, Rural Herbalism, & The Wild, Wild West

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