Not Your Usual Herbal Gift Ideas

In addition to the usual herbal gifts of herbal wreaths, vinegars, soaps, candles, spices, potted plants, flowers, beauty products and more, there are two other to consider this holiday season. Teasel Teasel is such a fabulous herb to learn about, I’ve devoted a complete blog to it alone. As a gift, this herb is the…


The Wonders of Teasel

Teasel is a beautiful herb with a tall bristly head that grows in many places around the world. I once saw multitudes of dried teasel heads in a wool combing machine in Scotland in the 1990s. However, this herb is widely available throughout the world and except for the Chinese who commonly use this herb,…


Turmeric: For Best Results, Use It Properly

Turmeric has become increasingly popular over the last decade, first for blood purification and then for joint pain. As it’s hit the mainstream, its uses have narrowed at the same time. While turmeric is a fabulous herb with many beneficial applications, it’s also quite powerful and can strongly imbalance the body if over-used or misused.…


Herbs that Clear Heat, Part 6 of 6

In the West we tend to think of heat as inflammation; yet, it can take many other forms as we’ve learned through parts I-V of this blog series. In TCM, heat can exist without inflammation but have other signs of heat. The key to differentiating which type of heat is present is through determining its…


Herbs that Clear Heat 1 of 6: Sweet Violet and Pansy

Like Western medicine, Western herbalism today considers heat as inflammation with little differentiation in herbal treatment. Yet, heat is not the same as inflammation; rather, inflammation is a kind of heat confined to a specific area. Just treating inflammation with herbs will clear up any acute manifestation but not the underlying condition. Thus, there can…


The Salty Flavor: Seaweed

To finish up the flavors for the year, we have one left – salty. Most herbs that are salty are subtly so. Yet salty can include herbs with mineral salts, such as nettles. Here I want to discuss a true salty herb: seaweed. Seaweed is not unknown as a medicinal herb. Irish moss and bladderwrack…


2020 – What a Year for East West!

Finally, we’re reaching the end of 2020! I can’t tell you how many people have yearned to see this year pass since it’s been so difficult for most. Indeed, 2020 brought big changes to our lives and the East West Herb Course, too. I have always loved to travel and have done so since a…


Spicy Flavor and Digestive Trikatu

The spicy flavor has many understandings and an interesting function. When most people think of “spicy,” they think of spicy food. However, that’s normally due to the presence of chili rather than regular spices that don’t necessarily have what is normally thought of as a spicy flavor. In the last five years or more, food…


Jujube Dates to Usher in the Earth Time of Year

From July through about mid-September, we are in the “Earth time of year” with its organs, the Spleen and Stomach. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the Spleen is responsible for assimilation and transportation of nutrients throughout the body (metabolism) while the Stomach mechanically breaks down food and fluids. The flavor that improves both of these…


Chamomile: Gentle Yet Powerful

Since we are in the “season” of the Heart, we’ve been covering bitter herbs. The bitter flavor cleanses the blood among other things and thus, it is connected to the Heart in the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Five Phases system. So far, we have discussed dandelion and California poppy in this bitter flavor series. Our…


The Bitter Flavor in Herbs

The flavor of an herb is different than its taste. Taste is subjective while flavor is a major indicator of how an herb affects the body and thus, how it’s used. In other words, there is a direct correlation between flavor and physiological function. Basing an herb’s properties on its flavor was a way that…


Symptom-Specific Herbal Protection from Viruses

We are in cold and flu season, which especially hits during the summer-to-fall and winter-to-spring months. How do you prevent catching a cold or flu and if you do get it, what do you do? Thankfully some powerful herbs you can take right now to protect yourself. Herbal Prevention Herbal approaches for staying well include…


Colds and Flu: Common-Sense Prevention Tactics

Anyone who’s heard tales from grandparents or great-grandparents who lived during the 1918 flu pandemic will understand the world’s great concern about the new coronavirus. The 1918 flu killed at least 50 million people worldwide, while 500 million (roughly one third of the world’s population then) became infected with that H1N1 virus.[1] Because the new…


Staying Healthy This Winter

Whether you live in balmy, tropical Hawaii, or sub-zero, frosty Minnesota, the energy of winter is the same: storage. At this time winter’s cold drives your life fires deeply inward, collecting itself like a hibernating bear for the coming Spring. The Chinese believe that the water element rules winter, which is associated with the Kidneys,…


Which Ginseng Should I Take?

When I began to study herbs, my first class discussed the difference between the many ginsengs. It was information overload at that stage of my learning, but since then I’ve used them all. If the prospect of selecting the right ginseng for a specific set of symptoms seems overwhelming, this blog is for you. Why…


How to Stay Well from Summer into Fall

  We are fast approaching the joint of the seasons – summer into fall – and of all times of the year, this is the most susceptible for catching colds and flu. Weather is cooling now, school is starting, and activities pick up so generally there’s more stress. At the same time, we often cling…


Feeling Damp, Bloated, Heavy? Care for your SPLEEN!

Many climates throughout the world have five seasons – late summer, or Indian Summer, is usually the fifth, lasting from sometime in July through sometime through about mid-September. In traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the spleen is associated with the earth element. It is considered much more than a component of the lymphatic system but instead…


Jimson Weed: Dangerous Magic

Old time herbalists and the Eclectics didn’t focus on common herbs – they mainly used “heroic” medicines instead. These are the toxic herbs, so strong that only 1-2 drops of tincture were generally taken for quick and effective results. Of course such plants are rarely used today, and when they are it’s mainly in homeopathic…


Finding Renewal in Costa Rica

Our second trip to lush Costa Rica proved just as magical as our first in September 2018. This time a wonderful group of 12 folks joined us to explore several areas of Costa Rica. We began our tour at Finca Luna Nueva (in the region of San Carlos), the second biodynamic farm established in Costa…


Wild Cherry Bark and Sweet Cherry Stems as Medicine

Recently Michael and I witnessed the incredible scene of cherry blossom season in Japan. It is truly a remarkable sight. Clouds of pinkish-white flowers adorn dark branches that hang over green parks. blue waters, or frame distant structures. Crowds of locals stream through such areas, picnicking or strolling beneath their ancient glories, day and night.…


Ashwagandha: Horsepower for Your Body

The Ayurvedic herb ashwagandha has become quite well known in recent years and it is no wonder, for it has many important uses. Overall, it’s a wonderful anti-aging and rejuvenative tonic for most all folks and so deserves its growing reputation. Specifically, it is a yang tonic (meaning it warms and strengthens the body’s energy…


Winter Wonder Walnuts

In the cold of winter, a great herb to consider is the walnut. It is a rich source of fat that keeps the body warm and as a healthy snack, stifles hunger. But walnuts are more than a food; they have many valuable medicinal uses, too. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), walnuts gently tonify Kidney…


herbal gift giving

Herbal Gifts for the Holidays

Stumped about what to give for the holidays? Here are some herbal treats you can easily make and share that will not only be unusual and fun but also help your loved ones’ health, too! HAWTHORN OXYMEL An oxymel is simple as it’s only made with herbs, vinegar and honey. Hawthorn is especially good for…


amatierra retreat center

Amatierra: A Rejuvenating Retreat in Costa Rica

  When recently exploring the incredible plants of Costa Rica, we stayed at the magical retreat center Amatierra. It’s a hidden secret that is not only beautiful but also very nourishing as well. When we first arrived and climbed down the stairs to the main building and dining terrace, I was immediately struck by the…


Costa Rica: Plant Paradise

Simply put, Costa Rica is a plant paradise. Michael and I were lucky enough to travel there a couple of weeks ago, and we were astonished by the botanical diversity there. So many regularly used herbs can be found in this forest wonderland. For starters, many of our kitchen spices come from Costa Rica. Ginger,…


Celery Stalk: A Powerful Anti-Inflammatory

Celery often sits in our refrigerators for many different uses – making stocks, preparing soups, or filling with peanut butter for the kids. But celery has many more uses than that and is actually quite medicinal in concentrated form. Celery Seed Most herbalists are familiar with celery seed and teach about its many wonderful uses.…


Mung beans

Mung Bean for Summer Illness

Finally, to close this series on herbs for Summer-Heat and for summer conditions in general, is the humble mung bean, a premier herb for clearing heat in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Mung bean (Vigna radiata, formerly known as Phaseolus munginis) neutralizes acids, clears toxicity, lowers and regulates blood pressure, heals ulcers, and relieves Summer-Heat and Hot-natured…


Hibiscus tree with pink flowers

Hibiscus and Jewelweed: More Summertime Herbs

In my last blog, I explained the Traditional Chinese Medicine disease pattern called “Summer-Heat,” largely parallel to what most Westerners know as heat stroke. As promised, here are two more herbs for this hot time of year: one made into a delicious cooling tea to ward off overheating, and another to deal with one of…


summer tcm watermelon cucumber seasonal herbs

Two Foods to Help You Keep Cool This Summer

Summers seem to be getting hotter and hotter so staying cool – and keeping your cool – can be more difficult. But don’t fret! There are many fabulous herbs, some even easy to find or grow foods, that can help you cool off during such hot summer days. These herbs also help with what Traditional…


home herbalist course

Announcing: The East West Home Herbalist Course

We are very excited to announce that the East West School of Planetary Herbology now offers a Home Herbalist Course! While we have provided Family and Professional Herbalist Courses, we have not presented a basic course in learning herbs – until now! The Home Herbalist Course is a great way to get involved with immediately…


oregon grape root

Oregon Grape Root: A Versatile Herb

Oregon grape root is the Pacific Northwest variety of barberry (Berberis vulgaris). It was used by the indigenous mountain folk of California for all chronic degenerative diseases, especially cancer and arthritis. Oregon grape and barberry are so similar they are used interchangeably, yet Oregon grape is mild and well tolerated by most body types. It…


Rhodiola Flowers

Rhodiola to the Rescue

Rhodiola is also used for nervous system disorders, ADHD, gastrointestinal complaints, coughing of blood, pneumonia, lowering fevers in colds and flu, and balancing blood sugar. It treats exhaustion headaches, minor hypotension, hemorrhoids, irregular heartbeat, erectile dysfunction, amenorrhea, and infertility. As well, it protects against chemotherapy and radiation. It relieves stiff muscles and spasm. As a mouthwash or gargle, it treats inflammation of the mouth and throat.



Merry Mistletoe

It’s that season when many pin a bouquet of mistletoe in their doorway for that magical ritual of kissing underneath its bounty. While there’s wonderful lore behind this annual tradition, mistletoe is …



Citrus: Fruit or Peel?

Most of us love some form of citrus – oranges, tangerines, grapefruit, lemons, limes and more – yet did you know that some parts of these delicious fruits are actually quite medicinal? Interestingly, …


The Buddha

Got Shen? Part 2

There are many herbal approaches to supporting Shen depending on the imbalance affecting it: Nourish the Shen through Heart Qi, Blood, or Yin tonics: fu shen, zizyphus, biota, asparagus root, reishi …


Joy Smiling

Got Shen? Part 1

Do you love life? Do you enjoy people? Are you enthusiastic about what you do? Do you wake up excited for your new day? Do your eyes sparkle? Are you playful? Then you’ve got Shen. If you currently do …