Monday, November 24, 2008

You Tube Video Legal Issues In Herbalism

New You Tube Video

Legal issues in herbalism

Herbalist Roy Upton discuses the legal issues facing herbal practitioners- scope of practice.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Windy fall days- collecting bark and lichen!

We have had some pretty strong winds the past week. Many branches have broken off the trees.
Why not collect some medicinal tree barks and lichen!
Henriette's site has a good article on collecting bark.
Slippery elm Ulmus rubra is considered an at risk plant by the UPS- but if you are lucky enough to have a slippery elm tree or find some downed branches, the bark is a great remedy to have around. Kiva writes a great post The many fine qualities of ulmus pulila an alternative to ulmus rubra.
I have had an itch in my throat at night (probably from hanging out in the wind all day!)- I would hate to wake up the baby with my coughing! Slippery elm in a raw honey base has worked wonders! You can also make slippery elm lozenges.
Oh and we can't forget jim's great article about slippery elm to prevent oil rancidity!

Search for other bark remedies on kiva's blog as well; Alder is another favorite- also read her great post on usnea !

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

mama goin' wholistic!

I wanted everyone to know that I have another blog Mama Goin' Wholistic

I will still post herb, nature and health related posts here for moms and kids-
The posts on my other blog may be either off topic for this blog, be more geared toward alternative parenting styles, or a little more personal in nature.

I also want to support mom writers (writing motherhood is a great way to stay balanced, honor our everyday lives as mothers, work through problems etc) ~ this is really off topic for this blog.

If you are interested feel free to take a look:)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Preserving the harvest - First Foods For Baby

I will be spending most of the day steaming, freezing and food processing fruit and vegetables from my Dad's garden. Not only will they be handy to grab out of the freezer for dinner dishes and sauces this winter, a lot of the vegetables will be used for Wyatt's baby food.
Wyatt won't be ready to eat baby food for a few more months, but when he is, it will be nice to know exactly were his food came from and that it is free from pesticides and additives. I don't feed the kids anything I would not eat myself ( such as pre canned baby food) It really is not that hard to make your own food from local sources, all it takes is a little planning ahead.

Getting Started

Buy your food from local farms, grow your own, or buy organic.

If you are processing large amounts of food and want it pureed to freeze for later (to add to sauces and for baby food), you may want to use a food processor. However, you really don't NEED all the fancy equipment especially in the beginning when baby is only eating one teaspoon of food at a time - all these foods can be mashed by hand with a fork- baby food only needs to be pureed for about 6 months- you can get inventive without all the machinery:) The food processor is handy if you are busy and want to plan ahead, it is all a matter of personal preference.


If you are going to be steaming lots of vegetables in one day, make sure you change the water or the bitterness from the water will leach into the next batch of veggies you are cooking.

Steam food such a broccoli and squash for about 5 to 7 minutes before freezing or pureeing.


Butternut Squash can be cut in half and roasted in the oven on a cookie sheet at 400 for about 45 minutes. When they are done roasting you can either puree them for baby or put a little butter and cinnamon on them and eat them yourself - Yummm!

I like to puree foods such as avocado and banana right on the spot- these fruits are so soft it can be done by hand with a fork on a cutting board -these are great first food by the way:).

Fruit can be frozen or pureed fresh.

Tips: Feeding babies first foods

Know the foods that are common allergens!

Good First Foods


Many commercial baby foods as well as foods targeted to babies and toddlers contain allergenic ingredients!

If your baby has a food allergy or your family has a serious history of food allergies - read the labels when purchasing commercial baby food!

A few examples:

    • Cheerios (wheat, soy protein)
    • Instant Infant Cereals (soy)
    • Stage "2", "3" and Toddler Meals (wheat, soy, casein (milk protein), albumin (egg)
    • Gerber "Puffs" (wheat, soy)

Babies don't need anything added to breast milk or formula before 4-6 months so don't believe anyone who tells you to add rice cereal to milk to "hold them over".

Below is an excerpt from the article In the Kitchen With Baby by Cythia Lair

"Have you checked out the taste and texture of commercial baby cereal? Pour some commercial rice cereal in a bowl. It has no smell. The taste is the very definition of bland. The cereal is made from refined rice that has been processed and precooked. Refined grains have nothing to offer but carbohydrates. Whole grains, on the other hand, contain not only carbohydrates but also protein, fat, fiber, vitamins, essential minerals, and life. The germ is still intact. If you put a whole grain in water, it sprouts. If you put commercial baby cereal in water, it makes paste. Why train your baby to want this? By pre-toasting organic whole grains, grinding them in a small electric grinder, and cooking the grains with water, you can create a fresh, delicious, nutrient-dense cereal with taste, texture, and aroma.

Commercial baby food is convenient, it’s true. But the price for this convenience is high. Besides paying companies to blenderize food and put it in jars, you also pay them to dilute the food with water and sometimes to add starchy fillers such as tapioca, rice flour, and modified cornstarch. Even the companies producing organic baby food sometimes use fillers. Such additives lower production costs and help mask off-flavors"

Here is Cythia's recipe for homemade whole grain baby cereal

When your baby does show signs he/she is ready for solid foods, introduce one food at a time for 3 or 4 straight days- that way if your baby does have food sensitivities they will be easy to spot.

If your baby does not act ready to eat solids stop for a few weeks and then try again later if the baby seems ready- no rush.

Use local and organic foods- or grow your own (of course without pesticides)

Begin with a small amount of food (only about a teaspoon) once a day- when you are introducing first foods you can mix your pureed food with breast milk so the taste is more familiar to baby.

After several weeks of successfully eating your baby can then graduate to organic healthy protein such as organic plain yogurt, egg yolks (whites can be a common allergen so start with the yolks), organic butter, and homemade soup stock.

Talk to your baby, model for your baby (tasting the food yourself) and have fun!!!

Resource Cythia Lair

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Elderberry - Gettting close to harvest time!

I have noticed that some of the elderberry trees are starting to get their first berries (above picture was from last year)! Keep your eye open here in the Pacific Northwest- before you know it there will be plenty of berries to harvest!

For some recipes, ideas and a lively discussion in the comments section -check out my post from last year, Elderberry Sambucus a local forgotten medicinal?

Can't wait to harvest some so I can make kiva's Elderberry Sparkle!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Lemon Balm & Milky Oats postpartum

Lemon Balm Melissa officinalis was one of the plants I had in my garden this year. Because of being so far along in my pregnancy, and my back problems acting up, I was not able to really go crazy with planting herbs in the garden this year. I did however have some lemon balm growing out there amidst the lovely weeds. I went ahead and tinctured up some fresh lemon balm 95% alcohol 1:2.
I was smart enough to order some milky oats ahead from jim mcdonald (he makes the ~best~!) so I would have them at the ready after Wyatt was born. Milky oats has been great for me, it has helped support me through my tendancy to go go go which can lead to burnout. Wonderfully mellow and soothing- I love it!
I have found the combination of milky oats and lemon balm have been an excellent ally for me postpartum. Although milky oats is great as a simple, adding the lemon balm really made a difference for me this time around. I like to use less of the lemon balm 2-5 drops, and a little more of the milky oats- about 10-15 drops - 3 to 5 times a day.
This particular batch of lemon balm turned out to be extra spicy (which I love), and the cooling aspect goes well with my constitution. While relaxing, it isn't so much so that I feel tired and want to sleep all day. It really helped me to balance (it gives me that just right feeling) I feel relaxed enough that I can carry on my everyday tasks without feeling overwhelmed, yet still have the energy I need to take care of my newborn and toddler. I also have a tendancy to over-think things a bit, especially being a new mom. I have found this to help my brain to relax enough to focus. I also am the type to take on too much, feel overwhelmed and sometimes get snappy and angry (before even realizing that I have overdone it- fully believing that I can take on ~everything~ no problem). After all, it is easy to feel overwhelmed with a newborn and a toddler- and everything that comes with it. At night if I am really over thinking things and can't sleep (which is another thing I tend to do, causing insomnia), I like to add a little skullcap to the blend as well.
You can read more about postpartum herbs here

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Bull thistle is edible.... Sort of

You may find some field guides that say bull thistle cirsium vulgare (or some other plant you have to boil and drain 3 times so you don't choke to death or die) is edible. Great! I am picturing a wonderful wild salad or soup now! I don't want to diss any of the field guides, but to say that the thistle "Provide palatable dishes" OK, but at what price?
You can really separate the writers who have actually done it, from the copy and repeat type writers when you come across talking about how GREAT bull thistle is to prepare and eat (it tastes so wonderful, it's so easy, here are 10 recipes for your enjoyment!! blah blah blah).
I mean really, have you ever seen or touched one of these babies?
Come on, by the time you get past all the thistles (and get poked a few times in the process), skin and eat the thing you could have built a really nice green house and grown some real salad food.
Don't get me wrong, I am SURE there is someone out there that will insist that it is the best thing EVER.
I doubt they have a newborn and toddler alongside when they are picking it.
Just a thought

PS- I am thinking the bull thistle has all of this protection for a reason, it must serve a much bigger and better purpose than for us to eat it as food. Considering all the other wild foods there are to choose from, I will let thistle be and enjoy it's lovely purple flowers:)

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Students Speak: Herbalist 101 Universal Class

Above Picture Tormentil Potentilla erecta flourishing

Enjoy this Guest Post from student Emma Sunerton- Burl who has graduated from the class Herbalist 101.

Text Box:   Wood Sorrel Oxalis acetosella Herbalism 101

I joined this course about 4 months ago, having suddenly been inspired by my 6 year old son's friend who showed me wood sorrel and asked me to taste it! Wow what a flavour and such a surprise. I searched for more information on this wonderful plant and found this course and signed up immediately. Its one of the best things I have ever done! I am grateful to wood sorrel waking my system up into the wonderful world of herbs!

The course was excellent, it starts by asking you to look at your own life, its balance and your goals preparing you for the changes that working with plants can bring. Then moves on to look at the style of herbalism you are most drawn to using. I found this wonderful as I immediately was drawn to the shamanic and plant spirit methods of working as this so suits the intuitive tarot work I do in my everyday life. Angie was extremely encouraging and supportive of my following this method and I felt she would have been whichever I had chosen.

Then as we moved on to look at how to harvest plants, how to make medicines I started to put together formulas and medicines for myself and my family intuitively. Many of which were very effective. I learned how to sit with a plant and become very observant of its look, feel, smell and way and allow my intuition to tell me its uses and action. I would them look up the details of what it is traditionally used for and often found a strong correlation. I felt plants start to communicate with me whenever I was out too. Some seeming to want attention more than others and these became my focus for study.

Text Box:   Tormentil Potentilla erecta  flourishing

For example one of my favourites is Tormentil. It is very apparent here in North Wales and I was very drawn to using this wonderful plant throughout the course. It is good for healing cuts and bruises – stopping blood flow and being antiseptic. Extremely useful when out on the mountains walking, climbing or running and you have a scrape or a fall. A poultice of chewed plant placed on a cut enables it to stop bleeding and heal quickly. The plant itself has four yellow petals and represents to me the balance of self esteem – it brings an energetic healing as well as a physical healing. This being - out of struggle or apparent struggle (the apparent 5 lobes of its leaves) then a balance (4 petals) of self worth (yellow) can come. I see this plant as being excellent to help someone overcome the difficulties of life and bring balance into their daily living.

Part of the course task was to keep a daily journal where you cite both your own experiences with plants and herbs as well as your personal reaction and development that has been triggered by working with the plants. This was a wonderful way to really become conscious of just how much I was learning, and benefiting from the plants I worked with and studied. As well as serving to remind me that whenever there was a ache, pain, cold or other bodily discomfort or illness that I could turn to a herbal solution in addition to whatever else was needed.

Then the course turned to look at some specific plants – wild herbs as well as kitchen herbs. It was wonderful to find out more depth with each of the plants covered and also to be shown how to make many varieties of preparations with them – from salves, to teas and decoctions, vinegars and oils. Things I would have never have tried to do without the guidance and encouragement that Angie and the course provided. I am particularly pleased with now being able to make a successful salve. It took me a couple of attempts to get it right, but it is a wonderful skill to know I have and I can make a whole variety of massage salves for different energies and ailments which are pure in their ingredients and effective in their action. I am using a rosemary salve in particular at the moment for helping muscles recover from being over exercised ... it is absolutely wonderful!

Text Box:    Fringecup Tellima grandiflora  - a new found friend

I am finding that connecting with the energies of plants around me is becoming a way of life. Acknowledging the spirit of the earth more and more strongly and working within it. I feel that the plants themselves are calling to me offering their healing powers for all manner of things. And that it is like having found a whole new realm of friends.

I liked the way we are encouraged to work with the plants in our own environment, every time I walked out of the house I would be looking for plants and identifying them and then perhaps sitting with them or just returning home to look up their uses and properties. Over the period of the course I have a good list of local plants now and their uses and remedies, some are like acquaintances that i have yet to get to know well and others are becoming firm friends already.

Now when I go camping I know if myself or may family gets ill, stomach ache, falls over, or gets a cold I have no need to seek out commercial preparations, but can turn to the natural world around me and bring aid in the situation. Particularly useful when we camp far away from shops and villages as is often the case.

In all I feel my life has been enriched by my experiences here on the course and I will now continue to develop my relationships with herbs throughout my life. I am very grateful for this opportunity to have come my way.

I thank the spirit of Wood Sorrel and my sons friend Jo for triggering this interest, and also Angie's knowledgeable encouragement and excellent course and the support of the others in the training group for inspiring me to get further and further into the world of plants and their healing energies.

Emma Sunerton-Burl

Intuitive Psychic and healer

Join Herbalist 101 !

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

New Arrival!

Wyatt Perry Goodloe Born June 27th.

We are doing great! Wyatt is already almost 11 pounds with a head full of strawberry blond hair that naturally sticks straight up into a Mohawk type style.

We have intentionally taken time away from the computer to enjoy these early days. Time goes by so fast!

Ella loves her brother and is VERY enthusiastic about helping out. Now that Mom is on the busy nursing schedule, Ella has no problem finding other things to do or get into (see above picture LOL)

Thank you everyone for all of the cards, gifts and emails. When the time feels right I will be back to writing herbal blog posts.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

35 weeks pregnant not far to go......

Hello all! My posts will not be frequent here in the next few months. Getting close to the end of my pregnancy. Plan on enjoying the time with Tony, Ella and the new baby, It goes by so fast!

The pregnancy has gone very well. I have the usual heart burn, shortness of breath, trouble sleeping, some back pain from an old injury & ligament pain. Other than that, no high risk signs, the baby moves frequently and seems like he is big for 35 weeks. I have had more than one comment "are you sure you are not pregnant with twins?" I am all belly, bigger than I was with Ella. I have had frequent Braxton Hicks contractions, especially after a lot of walking or other activity. A few nights back I had contractions every 5 to 7 minutes for about 4 hours. They are uncomfortable but do not increase in intensity- just a steady tightening and pelvic pain similar to menstrual cramping.

The peach twig tincture Kiva sent is working wonders for the heart burn. I found it is also very soothing, if I am supposed to have mood swings now, I haven't had any.

Enjoying nourishing myself with good food, herbal infusions and teas. Small frequent meals seem to work best for me right now since there is not a lot of room in there.

I am enjoying resting when I can. Ella is a hand full but likes to take at least one nap during the day.

Right now I am without a camera. We are planning on buying another soon. A real bummer because I have been on a few outings where I could have taken some really good plant pictures. Large leaved Avens is in bloom up here right now.

I will keep you all posted on my progress.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Secrets Talking With Flowers

My Grandma Johnson taught me wonderful lessons and traditions. She loved to write poetry. Grandma would make me handmade books of poems with cut out pictures. I can still feel the love, time & intention she put into these books when I pick them up to re-read them once again. She sent me many cards and letters, they always seemed to arrive just at the right time & and she always knew exactly what to say. Grandma had wonderful healing medicine. There is something about having hand written letters and poems, people don't handwrite letters much anymore. The internet, text messaging and phones in this busy life have shifted priorities. I feel blessed to still have these letters and poems. I just ran across this one today as my Mom and I were cleaning out one of our dusty old bins from storage. Grandma wrote this poem in 1980.


When I was young and my brothers worked
I played alone, you see
And often times pretended that,
The flowers could talk with me

The daisies with their faces bright
As yellow as the sun,
Always kept their secrets
and would never tell a one.

The violets would shyly whisper
My lover would be true blue,
Then hide their little faces
In leaves all wet with dew.

The roses were as bold as brass
Their heads a flaming red;
And many a secret we exchanged
Before it was time for bed.

But if I wrote them here, for all to see
A secret no longer they would be;
So its much more fun to keep them hidden
and locked away
In the golden memories of yesterday-

Copy write Sally Leslie Johnson 1980

Dandelion Garden

Ok, I know everyone talks about dandelion this time of year but I just had to share. Our house is in a neighborhood, but we are lucky enough to have a 10,000 square foot lot. We have a good size approximately 300 square foot garden space that the previous owner grew vegetables in. We knew the previous owners gardened organically, and the soil is excellent!
The neighbor peeked over the fence and said," Wow you have a lot of work ahead of you, your garden is covered in weeds"! To his horror I'm sure, I started explaining how delighted I was to have soooooo many wonderful dandelions, my plans for dandelion wine, using the root for medicine, how we have been using the leaves & flowers for food, et. At first he laughed, but when I continued on and he realized I was serious, he had this blank look on his face, one of shock and surprise I guess. Before I could start talking about the blackberry, mullein, and various other "weeds" and my plans for their use, he interrupted with- "well I better get back to work ummm, nice talking to you"!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Celebrate National Wildlife Week with your family!

National Wildlife Week april 19th-27

Green hour encourages parents to give their children a "green hour" each day. Time for unstructured play and interaction with the natural world. The green hour website has tons of ideas and inspirations to support families who want their children to connect with the earth. Check it out!

This years theme is get outdoors! This week you and your kids should watch and record the wildlife you see. (You can download a watch list that has flora and fauna local to you! And if you're in need of a thorough wildlife resource be sure to check out
Meet outdoors and share your stories with others!

Here are some great sites for wildlife ID/ getting outdoors for parents and kids



Urban Birds

Kids Gardening

Looking for Green minded holistic child care? Check out Holistic Nanny

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Purple & White Wood Sorrel Flower

So I was reading Wildman Steve Brill's site. I ran across wood sorrel. He states that the white flower with purple stripes is quite rare in America.
A few days later I am walking through the park here in Sandy and what do you know........
The pics didn't really pick up on the purple that well, but the stripes were purple. Cool

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Stonecrop Family Field food and Remedy

Stonecrop Sedum species can be found on rocky hillsides just as the name implies. The common species here in the Pacific Northwest is Broad leafed sedum spathulifolim and Creamy Sedum oregonense both look similar, the one above is Creamy Stonecrop. Most of the leaves are light to medium green in color, some outer leaves may be red, these are the older leaves. Later in the season around May or June the plant will send up a shoot of yellow little star shaped flowers, they look beautiful against the rock face. In the snow you can look for the dried shoots against hillsides & find the plant underneath, it will stay juicy throughout winter. The entire plant is edible, and would be great in a survival situation, or as a trail food. It would make an interesting addition to a wild food salad. It tastes bland, slightly like a cucumber. If your throat is dry from a long day of hiking, the Stonecrops muciaginous and juicy nature is very soothing.
The plant is slightly astringent & muscilaginous. It can be used for externally for cuts, scrapes, stings and minor burns, making it very useful as a field remedy. Break apart a leaf and apply it directly to the effected area as needed.
Native Americans used a decoction of the root for sore throats and eye irritations. The roots are creeping rhizomes or stolons (roots that creep above ground).

Resource Edible and Medicinal Plants of the West By Gregory L Tilford

Friday, March 28, 2008

Bleedingheart dicentra formosa Pacific Northwest

A few Bleedinghearts dicentra formosa are showing their blooms early. Bleedingheart is one of the first plants I remember my Grandpa & Grandma pointing out to me as a child. The unique shape of the flowers made it an easy plant for me to identify. Bleedingheart likes moist soil and is common on the foothills of the mountains here in the Pacific Northwest. The flowers range from pale to deep pink. The leaves resemble ferns and are just beautiful. When crushed, the bleedingheart smells a little like poppy, they are in separate families but are pretty closely related.

Bleedingheart is one of the plants I want to practice with more this year. I felt a strong attraction to it recently, my mother suffering from an undiagnosed autoimmune condition they think may be fibromyagia or polymyalgia rheumatica.When her symptoms got worse and she was having to take more pain medication, this plant kept coming into the forefront of my mind. She is getting of the medication, I am thinking this plant will be an excellent asset for her.

A third generation curandero friend of mine Charles (Chuck) Garcia
uses bleedingheart frequently both for himself and in his herbal practice. When I asked Chuck for his thoughts on bleedingheart he replied enthusiastically that he absolutely loves the plant. I wanted to share some of his insight. I plan on working with the plant more, look for more from me to come in future blog posts.

Chuck prefers using and making a fresh root tincture 1 to 2, in 150 rum, using anywhere from 10 to 30 drops.
Internally he has found it effective for the aftermath of accidents, attacks, trauma, especially if the after effect is a continued racing heart or the beginning of an asthma attack. It can be useful for quickly induced depression caused by the former. It breaks the cycle of grief-shock, and allows the person to function. He has used it on himself when his mother suddenly passed away and he was barely able to function the week before her funeral.
It can also be used for the type of trauma that causes the body to have hyper sensitivity. Clothes feel like weights...and wool feels like a hair shirt.
He has combined this with California Poppy tincture to help trauma victims sleep.
It can also be used topically, though it may take a bit of time to kick in. Some can be put on cotton ball and inserted it around an abscessed tooth. While the root of yarrow acts much faster, Bleeding Heart goes deeper down the nerve. It can also be used on painful surgical scars as a liniment.

He has found it to be a stop-gap for clients with fibromyalgia and RSDS (like himself) who have to wait for months or years to get effective narcotics legally to deal with the pain.

It tends to slow down the heart a he tends to watch the effect of first time users and try to gauge how slow their heart should go.
For tachycardia clients, he adds- this is a godsend.

Chuck also adds that Moore writes that it is an appetite stimulant and tonic for those who are coming out of a long term illness, but he has never found it to be so.

Thanks to Chuck for his wonderful incite on this awesome herb!

Reference Plants and Animals of the Pacific Northwest, by Eugen Kozloff

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Spring Break Snow

WOW! We were surprised when we woke up this morning to snow, right in the middle of spring!
Koa is loving it, look how dirty he is, this will make for a great before and after shot.
Last night we had a pretty nasty hail storm, some were the size of dimes.
We have had some pretty interesting weather this year!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Baby Monkeyflower mimulus alsinoides

Kiva has written about monkeyflower minulus species here
I am not sure if these have similar medicinal value, I have not ran across an abundant patch to harvest (they are so small) Don't confuse the top picture leaves, that is another plant growing in the middle of the monkey flower patch. Even though these monkeyflowers are small they are striking and cannot be overlooked within the moss against the rock face. The picture does not really do the flower justice, it is really beautiful when you get up close to look at it. I found this mimlus on a rock face next to a hard rushing waterfall. They like moist, shady, damp places, you will find them where moss likes to grow. There are plenty of wet rocky places here that this little beauty may be found. I will keep my eye open to see if I can find a more dense population so I may be able to harvest a small amount.Here is what Kings American Dispensatory Has to say about mimlus

Spring Greens, Shoots & Berries on the way!

All of these edibles were found within walking distance of each other, around the Columbia River Gorge area of the Pacific Northwest. These plants are abundant in forest areas, along road sides, in yards, along edges of pastures, and local parks here in the Pacific northwest. Of course if you plan on harvesting plants please get permission and be educated about wildcrafting.

Miner's lettuce montia perfoliata (Top) The flowers in the middle are just about ready to bloom. You can identify these from the characteristic leaf shape with the flowers in the middle. I have written more on a previous post here
More fun ways to eat miner's lettuce.

Wood Sorrel Oxalis oregana (2nd top) early in flower, the flowers here in this part of Oregon are white to pink, in other areas of the country they can be yellow. One of my favorite edibles, spreads and grows easily. I have a previous post about this here.

Salmon berry (3rd from top) is one of the first spring blooms. The new shoots are excellent eaten raw, just peal off the outside skin and eat the inside, you can see a picture of the shoots here. You want the new spring shoots that are growing next to the older tougher shoots that get the berries, they are usually growing directly under or near the older shoots. You can also add them to soups and salad.The shoots have a mild sweet flavor. The Native Americans of the Pacific Northwest would gather the young shoots in bulk for food. Of course you can also wait for the berries. I have written about Salmon berry previously, but it is worth another mention so you don't miss the berries this year!

Stinging Nettles Urtica dioica need I say more (4rd and 5th from top)? Over at learning herbs they have some excellent info on nettles, harvesting, recipes as a medicinal and more. Nettles are one of the most versatile herbs. They are used as a medicinal, food, to make cloth , even the stingers are used for flogging oneself for rheumaticism and muscle/nerve type pain (herbalist jim mcdonald reports using this method in recent times with good results). The entire plant can be used medicinally including the leaf, root & seeds. When the plant is about a foot tall (like the picture shown above), before it flowers and it gets tough, is a good time to harvest nettles for food. Nettles can be prepared like spinach, or drink as a tea or infusion. Wildman Steve Brill talks about ways he like to cook them here, along with some great pictures and other tips.

Curly or Yellow Dock Rumex Crispus
(pictured last) The common Dock we have around here is the Yellow Dock, considered to be a common "weed". The roots are yellow and a very beneficial medicinal plant (more on yellow dock in a future post). This is a dock in it's early stages. Here is an interesting recipe Fermented Curly Dock Leaves.
For later in the season yellow dock crackers.

Viola adunca Hookedspur/ Western Dog Violet- new plant ally

Violets are another early spring bloom. I found the blue Hookedspur violet was showing off it's beautiful blooms. The above picture is another wild violet, I am not sure of the variety. I have heard the colors can vary. This will be a new plant to me as a medicinal. My mom brought me some over to the house that were volunteers in my Aunts yard to save them from getting sprayed, I guess they were "taking over". She knew I would like them, but she was not sure what type of plant they were. So now they have a home in my yard, and I am happy to have them! A few days later on our outing we spotted some more out in the wild, and I have been noticing them more along the road side near my home. Although this was not on my list as one of my plants to get to know this year, it seems this pretty blue violet found me!
While doing some quick research online I found that wild violets have a long history of Native American uses. In reading this quick reference I found the roots and leaves were chewed during labor, hmmm that is interesting since I am in my 6th month of pregnancy ( although I have also read the rhizomes and seeds are poisonous). There are also some external applications listed for sore & swollen joints. The leaves and flowers are edible and I am sure will make a pretty addition to salad. This will be an interesting plant to get to know.

Trillium Hill Early Spring Blooms

If you look closely you can see the little white dots next to this waterfall, they are beautiful trillium ovatum. I tried to capture the power of this place in the photo but you would just have to be here to experience it. This is a water fall located at the Columbia River Gorge. I was awestruck when I saw such an abundance of trillium on this hill, beautiful and in bloom. I was so appreciative that this place had been protected and the trillium could continue to thrive here. The hill they were on went straight up, someone would have to put quite a bit of effort to get to the top to disturb this trillium population. My first feeling when I saw all of these trillium was exhilaration. After that I spent some time there being completely engrossed at the presence of them. I have been familiar with trillium for several years, we even had some growing in my wild forest backyard when I was a child. To spite being familiar with the plant, after this experience I felt a new special connection, even admiration that I had not experienced before.
This area is not far from the scenic highway. Likely, many people drive by in their cars to enjoy the vastness of the scenic views here. Take a closer look and you will find amazing plants like this that depend on the fragile ecosystem that surrounds them. My Mom was with me when we went on this outing. She told me she had forgotten how beautiful the plants are when you get up close. Her and her x would often go for drives here (it is called the scenic drive after all) but would rarely stop, except for at the main attractions like Multnomah Falls. I encourage everyone to get up close and personal with the earth, look closely in rock crevices, get down on your hands and knees, get connected!
This place was not far from my home as a child and I have always felt a deep connection here. My hope is that this area will continue to be preserved and protected.
To appreciate the rarity of this plant a little more, according to Eric Jules an assistant professor of biology at Humboldt State University Trillium ovatum rarely flower prior to their 15th year. Trillium may be propagated by seed that is produced at the end of summer, plant in the fall in soil similar to a moist forest where the plants are found. As you can see by the picture they also like to be near sword ferns and other moist forest plants. You will not see growth in the first year, and as mentioned above it will not flower for some time. I don't recommend propagating by rhizome from the wild because the plant could be disturbed. If you are able to get a rhizome from a cultivated source, be sure to ask for some of the original soil, they will require some of the microscopic fungus that comes in the soil to grow.
We just finalized our house purchase, I plan on creating a sustainable garden here with local plants. Trillium will definitely be a plant I cultivate. It will surely be worth the wait.
Trillium may seem abundant from the picture you see here. This is because this is a protected area. Let's help to keep this plant protected, even picking the leaves kills this plant. Trillium should not be collected in the wild it is protected in many states (see the prior link to learn about wildcrafting ethics, and how to find out if a plant is protected before picking), it is a plant to be respected and admired. Just sitting with the plant you can learn much from it.

Other names are Bethroot, birthroot, Indian balm, & squaw root.

Medicinal Uses
Trillium is astringent (read more on Kiva's blog here), antispasmodic, expectorant, emmenagogue, anditseptic, and uterine tonic
Often used for excessive bleeding especially in cases of menstrual blood loss. Trillium is a natural uterine tonic and can be used as a douche for treatment of leukorrhea. Trillium has been used to stimulate contractions in labor, it is contraindicated during pregnancy because of this. Trillium is a remedy for diarrhea. Made into a poultice or salve it is useful for external sores and chronic skin problems. Henriette has a good article here

Use Only Cultivated Sources
Good alternatives are Raspberry leaf (as an astringent for the female reproductive system) and Motherwort. Use Shepard's Purse as antihemorrhagic and astringent
Resource Planting for the Future Saving Our Medicinal Herbs United Plant Savers pg 226-229

First blooms in the Pacific Northwest Indian Plum

One of the first blooms I look forward to in the early spring here in the Pacific Northwest is the native Indian Plum or Oso-berry Oemleria cerasiformis.
The white flowers shine through the green foliage and fill me with excitement and anticipation that spring is on the way.
This Pacific Northwest native plant was used by the Native Americans here. The berries are edible and were collected for future use. They are not very palatable, they are extremely bitter. I have heard that the bitterness goes away in later stages, but the birds love the berries so it would be hard to find them in later stages on the branch. Some tribes would dry them and use them later in the winter, this may make the berries taste sweeter as well. I have not personally tried drying the berries, maybe this year:)
I have chewed the leaves, they are astringent and give you a tingling, numbing feeling on the tongue. This may explain the Native American uses of the leaves as a sore muscle poultice. The
Poultice was chewed, the burned plant and oil was then applied to sore places. The bark was used as a mild laxative.
Indian Plum grows well in moist shady places. I have seen several along roadsides up here in Sandy as well. These pictures were taken by a beautiful waterfall in the Columbia River Gorge. Near the Indian plum you will also likely find nettles, dock and several other medicinals.

Up here on the Mountain it snowed on the first day of spring! I was so delighted to see several other medicinals in bloom when I made a trip down to the Gorge. Trillium, violets, baby monkey flower, bleeding heart to name a few. There was also an abundance of early spring nettle, Dock, cow parsnip, wood sorrel, horsetail and other wonderful plants all poking through the ground. I will be writing about all of these soon in upcoming blog posts.

Gill, Steven J. 1983 Ethnobotany of the Makah and Ozette People, Olympic Peninsula, Washington (USA). Washington State University, Ph.D. Thesis (p. 264)
Turner, Nancy Chapman and Marcus A. M. Bell 1973 The Ethnobotany of the Southern Kwakiutl Indians of British Columbia. Economic Botany 27:257-310 (p. 289)

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Anima Wilderness Learning Center SUMMER EVENTS

Please forward and tell all of your friends!


We invite and welcome your participation in any of the following workshops and gatherings, held in a magnificent river canyon and ancient place of power, deep in the mountains of the enchanted Southwest… 5 hrs. from the Tucson airport, or 4.5 hrs. south of Albuquerque.

Anima Wilderness Learning Center & Medicine Woman Tradition

(by donation)
May 22-27: The Wild Women’s Gathering
A six day event for women only, with a focus on primitive camping, interaction with the natural world and personal rewilding: learning to trust our senses, instincts and needs – and to heed our callings and live our dreams regardless of constraints, norms, fears and habits.

June 12-17: The Woman Spirit Gathering
Another six day women’s event, a memory-making celebration of the spirit of womanhood, dedicated to self nourishment, sisterly sharing and sweet savoring – with inspiring teaching circles, wonderful outdoor feasts, swimming, singing and riverside dancing!

July 3-6: The Shaman’s Path Intensive
For men as well as women, a four day long workshop imparting insights and techniques for heightening awareness, connecting with inspirited nature, exploring alternate realities, instigating ecstatic states, developing our powers to affect events, and defining and fulfilling our individual most-meaningful purpose.

Aug 1-6: The Medicine Woman Gathering
Six days of presentations and discussions, plant walks and medicine making – for women who feel called to a healer’s life of intense awareness and personal responsibility. The Medicine Woman Tradition defines healing as contributing to wholeness and balance… of our selves, of others, and of the living world we are a part of.

Aug 29 -Sep 1: The Wild Foods Weekend
Four days of learning to identify, gather, preserve and deliciously prepare a wide number of the wild native foods of the mountainous West and Southwest – increasing observation skills, self confidence and our ability to survive, while helping us connect deeper to the natural world and cycles of life that we are each a natural part of.

If you can forward this announcement to your email lists, it would be greatly appreciated. For more information, or for Registration forms you can download, please go to the Anima Events page at:

Anima Center also offers Retreats with meals in riverside cabins, Vision Quests, personal Counsel, resident Internships and Apprenticeships, and empowering Correspondence Courses including the Way Of Heart, Shaman and Medicine Woman paths. There is no set charge for any of the various opportunities, services, courses and events… only a suggested, sliding scale donation.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Baby Wipes Solution, Oil, Salve- Make your own

Baby Wipes Solution
You can make your own baby wipes solution! I use a strong tea or infusion & add some herbal oil to distilled water. There are a lot of herbs that are good for your babies skin, you can use chickweed (picture above growing right now in early spring!), chamomile, comfrey, calendula, and many others. Plantain & chickweed are common weeds found here in the pacific Northwest, I am using this infusion for my babies wipe water right now because I have a lot of the herb on hand, when my calendula blooms I will be using that as well. I also add some oil to the solution (about 1/8 cup to a few cups distilled water/ infusion), almond oil, sesame or olive oil can be used, if you want to get real fancy you can even add a little vitamin E & /or jojoba oil. Some people like to add a little vinegar, a few drops of essential oil, and/or baby soap. I don't use the soap or essential oil because my daughter has sensitive skin and I do not want the residue or irritation.

After you make your solution you can store a few wipes in the solution, beware they could mold if you keep to many in wipe water for too long. You can use a squirter bottle or spray bottle with your solution in it, spray on each dry wipe as needed, this will prevent your wipes from turning moldy. The solution should last at least a few days.

Herbal Oils
You can make your own infused oil and add this to your distilled wipe water. One way to make your oil is to determine the herbs you want to use. You can simply loosely fill a mason jar with your herbs and cover with the oil/s. Store a room temp out of direct sunlight for 1 or 2 weeks. (Be aware that more delicate plants like chickweed can spoil faster than other herbs) Strain your herbs and store in a cool dark place, most will keep for at least a year, if they start smelling funky it means they are rancid, discard and make a new batch. Another alternative is to use a crock pot or double boiler (this is especially good for roots), infuse your herbs for a few hours (or longer) on medium heat, if you are using a double boiler make sure the water on the bottom does not evaporate while you are infusing your herbs.

What to use for Cloth wipes?
I take recycling one step further, for my wipes instead of buying the baby wash cloths or purchasing other types of cloth wipes I use some old sweat pants that were thin (softer than the wash cloths!) One pair of sweats cut up equal quite a few good sized wipes! You can also use older cloth diapers cut into smaller squares. Some suggest using paper towels, I am trying to cut back on waist, help the environment & as an added bonus- save money- so I use cloth. I discard my wipes in the same bucket as the cloth diapers and wash them all in the same load.

Although not a local herb, I received some arrowroot powder from a friend. Sometimes it is nice to trade and barter! I have been using this occasionally on Ella's bum and it has been working nicely. I have been looking up some other powders and see that some add a little white clay, other powders and essential oils, I have not tried this on Ella because I avoid the oils. Here are some alternative recipes. Avoid Talc based powders! It is good to apply the powder to a "power puff" first before applying to babies bum vrs just sprinkling out from the container, so the powder does not get into the air for the baby to inhale.

About Creams / Salves and Cloth Diapers.
You may have heard about some studies suggesting that the additives in some baby soaps/ creams etc may be unhealthy for your baby. Why not make your own!
You really don't want to use any cream or salve that has a fish oil base such as A&E or Desitin when using cloth diapers. You will get this fishy smell that you will never get out of your diapers! Of course you can make your own salve with the oils I mention above, just add a little beez wax to thicken over heat, here is a video that will walk you through the process.

Diaper rash issues?
Here is a good link on learning herbs
Another solution, let your baby go naked! Ella loves it, she runs around like a wild child! Good for infants too, provided they are warm enough of course. It works for some to keep a thick layer of salve on and frequently change (especially change poopy pants right away!) Also consider food sensitivities, dairy, wheat, citrus, soy, even garlic are common causes. Mom's make sure you are aware that the food you eat will pass through the breast milk, really read labels if you are eating preserved food, eliminate the above mentioned food that may be causing a reaction from your diet. If you are formula feeding you may want to consider a different formula if your child has frequent rashes. More on food sensitivities. If you are using disposable diapers, some babies are sensitive to the chemicals in some commercial brands, 7th generation makes a safer disposable. Be aware of the detergents you are using; additives can cause rashes. Also, if you are making your own &/ or buying baby salve with additives or essential oils, this residue can stay on your cloth diapers even after washing, this could cause a reaction.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

UPDATE New Herbal Resource Herb Mentor

Some of you may have read my previous post "There is no Official Certification of herbalist in the US"

In that post I list several resources you can use to practice herbalism.

Herb Mentor is packed with great videos, articles and resources.

I am so excited about Herb Mentor I wanted to discuss the site in a separate post so no one misses the new launch they have coming March 20th. On the launch day herb mentor is offering a free tele seminar with Rosemary Gladstar at 5:30 Pacific 8:30 central time!

In todays video about chickweed John Gallagher talks a little bit about the details of what being a member of herb mentor is all about, the costs (extremely reasonable by the way!) etc.

There is also a great new video interview with Susun Weed
and many other great instructional videos too many to list!

One of the many things I like about Herb Mentor is that they keep things simple and accessible for everyone! There is no need to be overwhelmed you can learn at your own pace. They are basically bringing village herbalism right into your home via the web.

They also have message forums where herbalists and students can interact, great articles, and more! I highly recommend checking it out :)

Monday, February 25, 2008

HerbTV on YouTube

For those of you interested there are some excerpts of videos on YouTube HerbTV
Southern herbalist Phyllis Light and northern herbalist Matthew Wood discuss the advantages and differences of herbal teas and tinctures, Southern Herbal Traditions, Thin Blood Thick Blood et.
Herbalist David Hoffmann discusses to herbal action of anti-cattarhal herbs such as goldenseal, goldenrod and elderflower
Herbalist Jackie Nikolaus has a strawberry love story to share with you from herbalist David Winston & More!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

First signs of spring in my yard

Simple Pleasures! I am one of the few people I know that gets excited when the "weeds" start to pop up in the yard. Yarrow and Catnip (left). Dandelion is also starting to produce fresh leaves, there was just a few for my salad. I noticed my lemon balm plant is begining to show it's new leaves as well, I can't wait to try the Lemon Balm (herb of the year 2007) elixir Kiva suggested!
When I went out to check the mail I noticed this Oregon Wild Iris is growing right by my mail box. Signs of spring are here!