Saturday, February 28, 2009

Spring iris has sprung! Just days after snow

Above it what our yard looked like just 2 days ago- and look!!! The wild iris is back! They spread from last year, when I had just one or 2!
I'm so excited that spring has sprung!
Oregano and Catnip are peeking out as well:)

New Herbal Videos - Facebook and Twitter

John has some new videos on youtube

Ok I am jumping on the bandwagon! I joined twitter- if you are interested in what I am eating you may be disappointed (unless it is beneficial when it comes to herbs). I plan on putting little herbal tid-bits I find throughout the day (like when I heard about johns new videos, articles or other good resources that I don't have time to blog about) really not sure what to think about twitter- we will see how it goes- I'm not going to overwhelm anyone, I will probabaly only post once or twice daily (if that). It is a lot like facebooks 'what are you doing right now' app. So I may just stick with Facebook.

I also joined Facebook- you will find a lot of my old high school friends there- but I will also be posting my events and other herbal insights:) Some pretty cool herbalists are on facebook now- I really encourage you to join!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

New Blog for Green Mamas! Authentic Mama

Here is the blog Authentic Mama

I finally started a blog on my own server
It is just for moms it is called Authentic Mama

Don't worry I am still going to be blogging about herbs on this blog.

Just wanted to share just in case some of you green mamas are interested!

Monday, February 2, 2009

How to Become a Master Herbalist in Thirty Years or More

For those of you who are not subscribed to any of the email herb lists or who have not seen this excerpt yet-

Here is an excerpt from an upcoming article from one of my favorite herbalists Paul Bergner (posted with permission)

How to Become a Master Herbalist in Thirty Years or More
by Paul Bergner

I am convinced that Western medical herbalism is dying in North
America and Britain. If we stop congratulating ourselves for a moment
on the growing numbers of herbalists, or of schools, or of accredited
degrees, or of more interest by scientists in herbs, and look
honestly, we will see it is dying. If we look to a hundred years ago,
the number of herbs in use, and the knowledge of those herbs, by
professional herbalists, they greatly exceeded what we use today. Our
medical herbal forebears mastered more herbs than we do today, and
also knew more about each of them. If, say, an herbalist today, truly
understands about a hundred herbs, and knows 2-3 clinical things about
each of them, we can call that 250 data bits. If our ancestors learned
365 herbs (more on this below), and knew 6-8 things about each, then
that is more than 2500 data bits, and 90% of our herbal knowledge has
gone down the drain.
Much of this loss of knowledge in North America is because the the
collapse of medical level herbal education early in the 20th century.
The loss of direct clinical education has been most devastating.
Another cause is the abandonment by herbalists of their own traditions
in the later 20th century in favor of "scientific" herbalism, as the
trend by herbalists to become defensive and "prove that herbs work"
came to dominate the psychology of the herbal faculties. Herbal
practice has become dominated by The Book rather than by Direct
Clinical Observation, or even by Tasting. A scientific trial of an
herb is like a serial killer. We have, for instance, a wonderful
diffusive and diaphoretic, reliable emmenagogue, mucous membrane
remedy for the stomach and lungs, and occasional remedy for certain
kinds of headaches, in the herb feverfew. These properties can
readily be experienced and confirmed by simply taking some of the herb
and paying attention. But once a clinical trial establishes that
feverfew is "good for migraines" it becomes The Migraine Remedy. Never
mind that feverfew is not all that effective for migraines (it reduced
episodes on average by about 25% in one trial, and for one segment
provided no relief at all), in the absence of direct experience, or of
clinically experienced faculty who know the herb from first hand use,
or even an authenic clinically based text book, the trial "murders"
all the other uses of the herb, and they fall away, lost to posterity
with no one even to mourn at their grave. Now the proud student
adminsters standardized extracts of feverfew to the patient with a
migraine, ignoring such factors as the hot or cold or deficient state
of the patient, or her menstrual patterns, and tells them to take it
every day forever to reduce migraine. Now the weak and exhausted
patient with a red face sweats profusely and her dehydration is
aggravated. The women with normal menses suddenly is flooding, not to
mention the patient with menorrhagia. Because of the scientific trial,
and the devaluation of traditional experience and hands-on experience,
the student is for practically purposes disabled for clinical
practice. The "expert faculty" has become the one who knows all the
clinical trials and plant constituents instead of the one who has
decades of experience taking the herb personally and seeing its
effects directly in clients and students. The epitaph on the tombstone
of medical herbalism will read:

European Phytotherapy
finally was the death of me.
I had three-hundred-

they cut me down to twenty-five.

About those 365 herbs: I have a copy of Physio-Medical Therapeutics,
Materia Medica and Pharmacy by T.J.Lyle. This book was used as the
materia medica text at the Chicago Physiomedical College after its
publication in 1897 until the college closed in 1913. (You can
download an electronic version of this book at David Winston's web
site). The book later formed the basis for sections of the Dominion
Herbal College course written by Dr Herbert Nowell in 1926 and still
available today.. My copy of the book is a reprint from 1932 by the
the National Association of Medical Herbalists in Britain; the copy
appears to have belonged to a student sometime mid-century when it was
used as a text in a pre-clinical therapeutics course at school there.
The student underlined, very carefully, with a fountain pen and a
ruler, the material from the lectures for which he or she would be
responsible on examination. The markings fairly well ruin the resale
value of the book on the rare book market, but offer very valuable
insight into mid-century British herbal education and entry level
knowledge into the profession at that time. The book contains
listings for about 430 herbs in the materia medica section, and about
85% of these are underlined. That comes to 365 herbs this student was
required to learn. (This is, by the way, the same number of herbs in
the oldest Chinese classical materia medica) The underlining itself is
telling, because the student was not responsible for all the material
in the book, but most often for the uses of the herb and the tissues
it affects. And the fingerprints of the teacher in this class are also
evident, because not all the uses were emphasized. It is the mark of
an experienced clinician and experienced clinical educator to be able
emphasize those things that will be most important clinically,
according to his or her experience, from the larger amount that
inevitably appears in books and can overwhelm the entry-level clinical
student. And we also have the fingerprints there of Lyle, who was the
protégé of Physiomedicalist master William Cook for decades, and who
also interviewed many of his contemporary colleagues before completing
his text; and of Cook himself, who practiced and taught diligently for
more than fifty years. Which brings me to the topic of this article.
Drs. Cook, Lyle, Nowell, and the unnamed faculty of the student who
did the underlining in my book were all masters of herbalism. All
studied and practiced with a diligence and rigor and a focus on
hands-on experience which is for the most part lost from contemporary
North American herbal education and practice. they all studied under
masters of herbalism, either directly or indirectly. And without the
reemergence of that level of rigor in study and practice, and that
level of mastery, I think our profession will die.

Paul Bergner
North American Institute of Medical Herbalism
Medical Herbalism Journal