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.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Problem with Common Names - Sweet Leaf

So for those of you who asked about "sweet leaf". I got in touch with Karyn Sanders and she said it is monarda fistula also known as bee balm.

Even the term 'bee balm' is problematic as there are probably hundreds of plants known by the same name depending on where you are.

It is vital that we use scientific terms so that we all know that we are speaking about the same plant.

Thank you for the questions about this.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Basic Herbs for Home Use - Part I

I haven't written for awhile because I was busy preparing for a pre-Christmas show where I usually do very well. I made some new products (Return of Venus soap, spray and bath salts); made some products that were great sellers in the past (Cocoa Rose Cordial); and made more of some great sellers (Mayan Chocolate Body Butter). I don't have photos of them yet, so they are not in my Etsy store.

Today while listening to Karyn Sanders on The Herbal Highway show on KPFA today, I was inspired to pass on what she talked about. This is even more relevant today where people are losing their health care plans (like me) and as we approach winter. Now, more than ever, we need to be able to take care of our own health. Karyn planned to talk about 20 most important herbs to have on hand. She only got to six and promised to do the rest in the next couple shows. This is actually archived on the website, so you can go there to hear the show.

First of all, before you treat yourself or anyone else with herbs, make sure that there has been a diagnosis from a physician and that physician has approved complementary use of herbs. DO NOT USE HERBS IN LIEU OF MEDICAL TREATMENT. I have to say this because that is the LAW in this country. They make it so that you cannot afford to go to a physician, then they make it a crime to take care of yourself or help anyone else. But, I don't want any liability. These are just suggestions, not prescriptions. Do more research yourself before you use any of these herbs. You are allowed to grow them all yourself and make teas or tinctures.

The following is from Karyn Sanders on KPFA December 3, 2009 show. Listen to it yourself at:


A cooling herb that moves and channels energy. It breaks things up and brings down heat. It is considered wolf medicine. It dries up excess fluid. It helps stop bleeding and can be used with bloody colitis. It can be used with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or situations where there are loose stool with or without blood. It can be used with gall bladder issues such as headaches that arise from eating too much fat, known as a gall bladder headache. It can be used with peptic ulcers and bleeding ulcers. When there is damage to the liver due to alcohol or drugs, agrimony may be helpful. Used in combination with sweet leaf, it can help with appendicitis. When there ids dark orange urine due to cystitis or nephritis, or other problems with the urinary tract, agrimony can be useful. It is a diuretic. With external issues like burns, you can make a poultice with honey, then follow with agrimony. For the conditions of the lungs where there are wet coughs, asthma, or sore throat, mix with honey in a tea. When the chest is tight on the inhale or when there is thick yellow mucus, use agrimony. You can use agrimony for kidney pain due to kidney stones. It can also be used to tighten and tone the urinary tract when there is dribbling - like when you laugh and pee a little. It tones. tightens and pulls out moisture and cools. It can be used when there is edema after chemotherapy or with post partem edema. With oily skin and acne due to poor digestion, make a wash. It can be used for the lower back pain due to menstruation It is best to use fresh plant, but dry is okay.

Energetic use: Tension and anger under surface but under control but when anger out it is extreme. It helps remove critical thoughts. Use areal parts.


Use good quality organic roots. Astragalus is long term deep. profound and slow. It is safe for all ages. It moves blocks out of the way of healing. It is an anti-viral anti-microbial. deep immune tonic. It is also a kidney and spleen tonic. It can be used for people who have long term burned out bodies, for those who are weak but don't know why. It restore chi. It is a mild diuretic and helps get rid of pus. It can help regulate sugar. It supports and strengthen tissue and can be used with different types of prolapses. It can be used in situations where there is a need for tissue regeneration, to increase vitality and with wasting syndrome where people can't hold on to fat, especially due to AIDS or chemo therapy. It requires long term cooking, put in a crock pot for a slow cooking process. Can be added to soups and stews.

Energetic use: To open the heart and soul. Good for people who are too much in their heads. For people who have difficulty with intimacy.

Use caution with leukemia or situations where there is white blood cell proliferation.

Blue Cohosh

Often called a shy plant, it needs to be approached quietly and carefully. It is known as deer medicine. It gets rid of things that are not moving. If there is mucus membrane bogginess, reproductive congestion, it gets things moving. It is not astringent, but rather is warming and lightens things up. It can cause bleeding so it should not be used during pregnancy. It stimulates oxytocin. It can bring on after birth. It can be used with spastic colon and small intestine and other types of painful cramping. It can be used with such gut issues as intestinal flatulence. Use with dull frontal headaches. It is helpful with gout, arthritis, lupus, and rheumatism. It cleans out bladder because it moves fluids. Helpful with leg cramping. During menopause when there are hot flashes with rage, blue cohosh calms you down.

Energetic use: A quiet and strong herb that works on density. It opens the heart. Helps with fear that turns to anger and rage. For people who are shut down and their hearts have gotten mean. For people who are full of jealousy because they do not trust that their partner loves them. Those who don't feel love, and don't see love. Plant in a safe quiet place, not along the path. Blue Cohosh wants to hide.

German Chamomile

Can use pineapple weed too. Use when there is snappy and fractured energy and when it is not being well channeled. Can be used with hay fever and asthma. It gets the gut to work better. It is anti-microbial and anti-bacterial. Use at the start of an infection. It is anti fungal and can used with candida. Most German chamomile we get grows in Hungary and Turkey and there has been a lot or research done on its anti fungal properties. If you make a strong tea, it is very bitter and thus can be used like other bitter herbs in the digestive process. It soothes inflamed skin. You can use it in steams for the sinuses. An effective eye wash but it must be strained because it has fine hairs. It can help with intestinal tract flu, and for the pain, ache and cramping that go with it. It can also be used to fight against intestinal flu. It rids the intestines of pus and inflammation. It is an effective ingredient in salves for burns or as a wash for burns. A mild tea of blue chamomile can be given to babies when they are teething. Or use the diluted oil on the outside of the cheek for teething. Dilute a little oil in olive oil and put on the outside on the cheek. As an anti-spasmodic, it is helpful against indigestion and gas. It also helps with anxiety, since it is a nervous system tonic. It can help with the fear and anger that may accompany Alzheimer's and dementia. It helps with anxiety that may interfere with sex. To get rid of impacted mucus in sinus, use a neti pot or steam. It can help with vertigo and frailty in elders or babies. In cases of conjunctivitis make a warm infusion strain in coffee filter, and apply with a cotton ball. Make sure you use separate cotton balls so that you do not pass the infection. You can make a creme for burns or salves for dry skin. For those who lose sense of humor because they are too sensitive. Assists with anxiety attack. It also heals the garden itself because it heals the other plants. It helps bring clarity. It helps you focus on present time and gives one a sense of direction if muddled and uncertain. Good quality has a vibrant alive smell like apples. Don't use old plant material. It goes bad fast.


You can use all parts of dandelion, but they are good for different things. Karyn says dandelion is good for junctures. When there is nervous energy with underlying depletion on all levels. It is a bitter root. You can cook the leaves and they are great in stir fry. It is good for stomach and liver. It can have a diuretic. It moves fluid through the urinary tract but rather than depleting potassium and sodium like other diuretics tend to do, it actually adds potassium and sodium. Use the leaves for high blood pressure. In the old days, dandelion root was remedy for the liver. Leaves and flowers keep the urine acidic, which helps prevent infection. Helps with gout and all issues related to the liver including hepatitis, jaundice and liver cancer. It is a good bitter that stimulates digestion. Since it stimulates peristaltic action, it is good for constipation. It reduces inflammation and supports the spleen. Skin conditions that are related to bad diet and stagnant diet are improved.

Energetic use: Moves repressed anger that manifests as depression. People pleasers who cannot express negativity and repress or deny emotions, may have a lot of built up anger. Dandelion releases that.

Not to be used when there is renal failure.

Golden Seal

This is an endangered species, so it should never be wild-crafted. You can purchase high quality organic golden seal leaf now. Don't use any other kind. It is anti-bacterial. In the sinus can dry excess mucus. Not a tonic and you should only use short term. It is anti fungal and can be used with ring worm and candida. When there is inflammation of the stomach and can stimulate stomach acids. It is a bitter that can be used with peptic ulcers, and IBS colitis with bleeding. It stimulates bile in a sluggish liver. Brings blood to spleen. Inhibits tumor growths When conjunctivitis does not respond to chamomile, use golden seal. Can be used with abscesses after cleaning. It tightens boggy uterus, it reduce nonmalignant tumors in breast. It can be used on anal fissures and hemorrhoids. First use yarrow then golden seal. Use as a wound wash. Deep immune response strong stimulant. Mix with marshmallow for tissue damage.

Energetic use: Helps people see past, present, and future to see what to do next. Helps you to open up and access your own power. Helps you sit with your shadow and get into your own power. Not to be use when pregnant. Not for long term use, only short term chronic internal problems or with wounds.