Thursday, December 24, 2009

20 Herbs You Must Have...Part II

According to Karyn Sanders...Part II
20 herbs you must have. Based on The Herbal Highway, a show by Karyn Sanders on KPFA. You can tune in and listen online at The show is on Thursday afternoons at 1 pm PST.

Karyn says she has chosen these particular herbs because they are accessible, not rare and have many uses. They are cheap and grow on the west coast. I think it is very important that we learn which plants we can use that grow locally or that we can grow ourselves so that we can take care of our own health whenever possible.

The law requires that I must say that you should seek the advice of a physician before using any of these plants.

Lion's Mane Mushroom

Found on dead wood that has come down. Looks like a white lion's mane coming down.

A tonic herb for that can be used by everyone. It is an immune system tonic and can be taken all the time. It tones liver, lungs, heart, spleen and kidneys, and regenerates neurons. It can thus regenerate cognitive ability, and can be used with dementia, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, MS, senility, and seizure disorders. When paired with St. John's Wort, it is useful for MS and epilepsy. It can be helpful with stomach cancer and nerves. Feeds and tones the nerves. It is nutritive for the GI tract and is useful when there are ulcers. It and can be eaten fresh - after being cooked. It tastes like oysters or clams. Make chowder and soups with it. You can make a tea of it or made into a powder to be added to food.

Spiritual use: It soothes and brings vitality to the spirit. Use for people who need more vitality.

If wild-crafting, never take whole plant don't harvest unless huge like a pumpkin. It is an old growth plant, so have respect.


Big medicine for Karuk people of northern California and southern Oregon. It is Bear medicine. Use the leaf when it is fresh in spring 3 to 4 inches tall. It can be used like celery leaf for flavoring. When the root is used for medicine, it is best well dried - like for one year. Fresh root is too strong. Can cause hives when it is too strong for the liver. It is used for junctures and fractures - it opens you so light flows through. Much like yerba santa. It makes you sweat. A hot cup of tea made with it will break a fever. It pulls up bronchial secretions and stuck mucus. Effective on Hep C works on liver. Improves lung circulation. Most Bear medicine works on the lungs. Use when you need to get the circulation going for more air. It brings energy and makes the lungs sweat like osha. It is anti microbial and thus is used bronchial tubes when there is infection and inflammation in the respiratory tract.

It also opens the blood vessels and improves circulation in the periphery - in fingers and toes. Can be used for pneumonia, especially walking pneumonia. As an antiviral, it reduces viral loads and thus shorten the time of an illness. Use with different types of flu. It is immune stimulating and mild doses can be used long term. It is effective with Lyme disease, HIV, hepatitis C, Epstein Barr and chronic fatigue.

It can be used with as a sore throat gargle. Some people do not react and others might get hives. It has a cooling energy.

It looks like a fern with umbelliferous yellow flower heads. You will see it in dry environments mixed with oak, pine with ca poppy. and low level gentian. It likes the lower drier elevations.

Spiritual use: for those who can't let go of the past and the old stories no matter how healed they are. Hanging on to the past. Used for grieving, As Bear medicine, it is used for protection. Has a cooling energy.

If someone gets hives from it, use high doses of fresh dandelion root decoction or tincture. This will flood the liver and get rid of hives.

To identify scratch the root and a yellow sap comes out. It has a menthol smell. It does not like to be transplanted. Plant in fall or early spring. It is good luck if it shows up on the land. Deer like young plant only because it is so tasty.

Milk Thistle

It is known for channeling light and opening things up. Collect leaves in summer and seeds in late summer. An amazing plant that helps the liver regenerate and regrow. It regenerates and regrows the liver. It stimulates liver. It literally will keep someone alive while waiting for a transplant. Must use pharmaceutical grade milk thistle then. It is also a tonic. It is a stimulant to liver and gall bladder. Don't use if liver is hot, use dandelion instead. It promotes bile flow, so make sure there are no bile blockages. It is the premiere liver tonic. Helps with recovery from IV drugs use.

It is a heavy metal solvent and and helps with metal toxicity aiding in cleaning the liver. It protects the liver and can be used as a preventive measure. If you have a toxic job use, use it as a preventive measure. Construction jobs or auto mechanics should use it.

Slows down degeneration of liver from fats, and genetic issues. It slows down a fatty liver which stops liver from functioning. Used with all types of hepatitis, cirrhosis and liver cancer.

Specific for amanitas mushroom poisoning. High dosage needed to help with the damage from amanitas. Must use high doses like 40 to 50 drops every 4 hours, the 25 drops every 3 hours for several days.

Can take as a powdered condiment over food daily like pepper or tincture with high alcohol or simmered a long time as a tea.

Spiritual use: Allows forgiveness and self-forgiveness. when things have happened and you can't forgive, the person is stuck in you. It heals broken trust between people. It is emotionally cleansing and eases the loneliness and shame that comes with low self esteem. It brings a greater sense of oneness. Animals respond well to it. Deer leave babies under it while they forage. Astrologically - best made when Venus and Saturn are square or in opposition.

Mugwort (artemisia)

There are many different kinds. Karyn Sanders thinks the one from Siskiyou county is the best. It grows everywhere. All types are cooling. Historically it was used to make beer in Europe. It is believed to have magical properties. It is an antidote to an overdose of opium.

It re channels light and opens the way to let light follow. It brings things back together. People use it against internal parasites. It is an antispasmodic, so it stops cramping. It is a bitter for stimulating stomach acids and digestion.
Taken as hot tea, it makes you sweat and thus breaks a fever. It helps you sweat it out. The heat of fever kills virus then the sweat expels toxicity.

It helps circulate blood through the uterus when there is congestion. If there are irregular menses or the menstrual cycle stops due to stress. It should not be used during pregnancy or nursing since it will make the milk bitter.
As a nervine, it relaxes people and helps with migraine caused by too much intake of sugar. If there is nausea mix with licorice.

It helps with depression if there is nervous tension. Use tiny doses for epilepsy with other plants. Use when there is bloat from water retention accompanying PMS or fibroids. It can be effective with allergies. It stimulates the liver which is associated with allergies and thus aid the immune system. Use during colds, fevers, or bronchial infections. Use it as a wash for rash or acne to dry it out. Use for when there is anxiety and insomnia. It has been used for dreaming and put in dream pillows, some say it calms, while others say it stimulates. It is also a douche for yeast infection. Can be used as a moth repellent when put in with clothing. It calms some people and stimulates others, so not useful in dream pillows for all people.

Spiritual use: The flower essence is used for enhancing receptive quality of the psyche and integrating it with daily life.

Make a salve using lavender and lemon balm to relieve cramps. It can be used in a smudge. Use quartz or moonstone in tincture, but can discolor the gems. It is a deeply female plant which promotes prophetic and vivid dreams. Use a combination of mugwort and rosemary protects while traveling. Associated with the 6th chakra. In Europe it was used in divination and scrying. Connect with fertility. It clears negativity and depression. If it shows up outside the door of a healing room it connects to you to all other healers.

It helps a person experience the fullness of grief. Don't use too long term.Some people have an allergy to it. It can be used with animals. It grows in full sun, with little water and dry bad soil.


It takes two years for it to grow. You just get leaves the first year, flowers, seeds and roots in the second year. It rides the surface well and breaks things up. It is a lung and respiratory system tonic. It opens bronchial passages and heals damaged cilia, thus it is good for smokers or fire fighters. Use with chronic lung issues. You can make toning steams for the sinus. Use for a dry cough.

It is also good for irritation of the intestine (a tea) or ulcerations used in tea. It has been used for poulticing broken bones, rashes and cuts. It makes a nice a liniment, using the root for hemorrhoids, tumors and cysts.

Use during the early part of colds if lungs involved. It is very light weight. The infused oil of fresh flowers is used for ear infections. You can eat the flowers in salad. Use the flowers for bladder and kidney infections, tea or tincture; the roots for deeper issues like emphysema, pleurisy, pneumonia and certain types of asthma.

The leaf and root can be used for pri-mature babies born with undeveloped lungs. It is the last part to grow in a baby and often the lungs are not fully developed in primis.

It can also be used in bone repair. Use the stalks in a liniment for sore muscles, cramping, and muscle spasm - for those who work out a lot a mullein stalk liniment. You can also use the dry stalks dry to make torch like candles. Dry well and dip in wax. (A friend of mine, named Shay, used to make the most beautiful mullein stalk candles, decorating them with beads, ribbon and feathers.)
Mix with marshmallow and goldenseal powder, for infections, abscesses and other external wounds.

Spiritual use: Calms people. It helps people let out grief. Most illnesses having to do with lungs are related to grief. It also helps let in the light. One cannot be calm if there is no light running through you.

When you pick the leaves, let them wilt a little to remove some of the water if you want to make an oil. When the plants dry at the end of the season, leave the stalks so that they drop seed. Birds love them. She has seen woodpeckers get on the stalk and peck out seeds.

Poke Root

You have to be very careful with this plant because it is a high dose poison. It is still useful, however, because it is specific for many things in low doses. It has semi heart shaped green leaves with pink stems and later develops a cluster of indigo blue berries. It is a large plant and you use the berries and roots. It opens things up, breaks things up and brings light through. Use at junctures. Anti-viral.No more than 1 to 3 drops once a day for short term use. Don't use if not sure about what you are doing. Make sure you mark it as poison. Keep out of reach of children.

It is a potent anti-viral that cleans the upper lymph system, a strong lymph mover - use when there is something going on from the shoulders and breasts up. It moves things out of the lymph that is really stuck. It clears boils and cirrus and fibrous tissue. It can be used with the upper digestive and respiratory tracts. It helps with laryngitis, chronic swollen glands and tonsillitis. Use a little (1 drop) with echinacea for mastitis and apply a cabbage leaf poultice. It helps with scabies on adults - externally, 1 pt tincture of poke root to 10 pts. water then put on scabies, then internally a few drops once a day. For adults only, use with varicose veins. Use if there is soreness and congestion of sexual parts.

It can help with addictions, not to drugs but other types of addictions. It gets rid of cravings and obsessional thinking. 1 drop once, maybe twice a day. It can also help a person let go of the obsession with obsession. It opens everything up . It tones down negative emotions like jealousy, envy. It helps clear up old resentments and emotional patterns. It helps those stuck in dangerous situations on the job or in relationships. When there is abuse and you need to break free. Don't use with kidney disease or pregnancy or lymphoma, Very toxic and do for short term use only - one week or two at most. Vervain can be used as an antidote. It grows up to 10 ft. tall and 6 ft. wide in creeks, wet conditions. It likes water.

Redroot (ceanothus)

Also known as 'snowplant' or 'California lilac.' There are over 30 species in Ca. Male and female plants. There is one that has light blue flowers and a musky intense scent, which for some is a sexual smell.

It is cooling and we use the roots and root bark. When you dig them up there should be no metal touching the roots. It likes to grow in dense rocky soil, so it can take hours to get one.

It is useful when there is enlarged or damaged liver or spleen. It can be used for the tonsils or lymph nodes when the problem is lower and deep. Use cleavers for the skin and lymph nodes closer to the surface.

It improves assimilation of fatty acids. It helps increase platelet count and aids in chronic slow blood coagulation.

Use after chemotherapy and radiation to bring up platelet counts. When there is a sore throat or tonsillitis, use as a gargle and take internally. It reduces water and increases blood flow - helps interstitial circulation. People with poor fat digestion tend to have allergies. When you don't digest fats well, the stools will appear greasy and you can also have headaches when you eat fatty food. Or when you eat fats, you don't feel good because you are not digesting the fat. Helps with the headaches some people get from eating fatty foods. Use with spleen infections mono, Epstein Barr. Okay with mild hemorrhaging, better to use yarrow, but if not available, use redroot.

It is helpful when there is portal vein congestion and can be used with non fibrous cysts. Mix with blue cohosh for ovarian cysts. Do not use when there is a super acute disease or very low blood pressure because it can bring down blood pressure. Don't use when there are blood clotting issues.

Spiritual use: It eases grief. It brings it up but gently in a wave-like way so that the feelings come and go. This culture has a problem with allowing grief. We have to grieve to be in balance again. Lack of sufficient grieving makes us stuck in old issues and old resentment.

Reishi Mushroom

There are many kinds. It is the fruiting body. It channels light brings things in and breaks thing up, depending on what is needed. It is called the 'fruit of life' in Chinese. It works on allergies, brings down histamines and is a mild anti-inflammatory. We need some inflammation, because it is part of the healing process, but not too much. Reishi regulates inflammation. It is an anti-viral, a bitter and tonic. As an immune modulator, it has the ability to assess what to do.

It won't just stimulate the liver. It serves as a protectant by raising the T cell counts. Good tonic for the elderly because it is an anti-oxidant. It brings up mucus and helps promote oxygen in the blood. It can used with altitude sickness and whenever there a need to increase the oxygen in the blood. It lowers blood pressure lowers hypertension in the heart. It is a heart tonic. It also helps lower HDL cholesterol and helps with adrenal stress. She uses it with chronic fatigue.

It has been used to help with the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation. It feeds the nerves. Black reishi is a stronger kidney tonic than the others. It can loosen the stools. Red reishi has strong anti-inflammatory effects. There are many ways to take reishi. You can make a tincture or if making a tea, you have to cook for a long time. Put in a crock pot or simmer for 12 hours. A good way to use is in powder form. Not tasty, so you are not going to be eating it.

Spiritual use: boosts life force - chi, the light within you. It builds stamina, promotes long life and calms the spirit and promotes sleep. Some people have insomnia because their spirit is agitated. Helps people who are really sick and need to 'go the distance.' Reishi is high in protein. In the past only available from China, but now some people are growing here but mostly on the East Coast.

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