• March 16, 2021

Beyond Beer: The Sedating Power of Hops

Hops are widely cultivated, not for its use as an herbal medicine, but as an ingredient in beer. How it came to be used for that purpose is an interesting story related by Stephen Harrod Buhner in his book Sacred Herbal Healing Beers. In the past, people didn’t make tinctures by soaking herbs in alcohol, they made medicinal wines and beers adding the medicinal herbs in with the barley, grapes, or other substances being fermented. Many of these original spirits were mind-altering and stimulating…

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  • March 9, 2021

Valerian: A Smelly Herb That Really Works

When I’m teaching people about edible wild plants I talk about the difference between plants that are edible and plants that are palatable. Not everything that’s edible tastes good. Some wild foods you’d eat because you like them, and others you’d eat only if you really had to. It’s a similar thing with herbs. Some herbs are quite tasty and pleasant to take in a liquid form. Others make you glad you can take herbs in capsules. Valerian is in this latter category. It’s not only bitter-tasting,…

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  • March 2, 2021

Get Ahead of Stress and Exhaustion with Skullcap

When I started documenting commercial herb formulas in the early 1990s, one of the most popular combinations was the sleep formula containing hops, valerian, and skullcap. About ten different companies made it (sometimes with other ingredients, but always with these three). The formula that I used was called HVS, the first letters of the three herbs. Later the skullcap was replaced with passionflower because harvests of skullcap are easily contaminated with germander, an hepatotoxic plant that often…

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  • February 23, 2021

Lily of the Valley

While almost all commercially available herbs are extremely safe and you can freely experiment with them, there are some that can be toxic when misused. I'd like to talk about one such remedy that I've safely used for serious cardiac problems for years—lily of the valley. A Remedy for SliversLily of the valley is potentially toxic when ingested. But, it is safe to use topically, which is the first way I made use of it. In the early 1980s, I was making my living helping my father and uncles who…

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  • February 15, 2021

An Ancient Remedy for Modern Times

Native to the Mediterranean region, the olive tree has long been a symbol of spirituality and healing. The olive branch brought back by the dove released from Noah’s ark caused the olive branch to become a symbol of peace. This symbol is found in the seal of America, which depicts an eagle with olive branches in one talon and arrows in the other, symbolizing both the desire for peace and being prepared for war. Olive oil was used to anoint kings and priests and was probably the oil used for anointing…

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  • February 9, 2021

Opening the Wounded Heart to Love

Next week, millions of roses will be given to loved ones on Valentine's day and I felt it would be a good time to talk about how roses can be used medicinally. Rose is used as an essential oil, flower essence or as rose hips (fruits). In any of these forms, rose is a remedy that opens and softens the heart, both emotionally and physically.When it comes to remedies for the heart, I don’t think you can separate the physical heart from the emotional heart. I believe that most, if not all, heart conditions…

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  • February 2, 2021

Hawthorn: Heart Health and Beyond

It’s February and soon lovers everywhere will be exchanging Valentines and presents. We rightfully associate love with the heart, so I decided to devote the month to discuss remedies for the heart and circulation, starting with one of the most popular and widely used herbs for the heart—hawthorn. The red fruits of hawthorn have long been associated with the heart and circulation in Western herbalism and modern scientific research has confirmed their benefits. Many compounds have been identified…

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  • January 26, 2021

The Natural Alternative Sweetener

A couple of years ago I planted a stevia plant in my yard. Being a native of South America, it didn't survive the frost in the fall. Fortunately, I'd gathered the pale green, naturally sweet leaves before that happened. The leaves are about 30 times sweeter than table sugar, so adding just a small amount of the leaf to a cup of herbal tea sweetens the tea naturally. However, adding stevia to something to sweeten it, isn't like adding sugar. Like the naturally sweet licorice we discussed last week,…

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