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…


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.…


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…



Wen Dan Tang

In honor of the near end of Liver/Gallbladder time of year, here’s another favorite formula of mine: Wen Dan Tang. It has many uses, especially as a sedative and expectorant, but it is specifically sa …


Welcome to Spring: Honeysuckle

I know spring is here to stay when our honeysuckle blooms. I remember in my early childhood plucking the flowers and sucking out their yummy nectar. Little did I know then that this lovely flower has many medicinal uses, too. First of all, honeysuckle is effective for colds, flu, and viruses with fever, headaches, and…


Curculigo Leaves

Two Immortals

We are in the depth of Kidney time now and will be for about another three weeks. This is when Kidney energy is supposed to flourish. However, if there’s any kidney imbalance now, then those symptoms …


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…


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.…


Touring the Kirstenbosch Gardens in South Africa

Since a young child I’ve been a traveler, and one of my favorite places to visit are gardens. There are many incredible gardens that people flock to from around the world including the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, near London in the United Kingdom; Buchart Gardens in Brentwood Bay, British Columbia, Canada, located near Victoria on…


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,…


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…


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…


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,…


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…


Salvia milthiorrhiza

Salvia, Our Saving Grace

I once had to introduce myself as a teacher at an American Herbalists Guild conference by identifying my favorite herb. Now, I have to say that I hate this type of public pop quiz where I have to make …


Rosemary Tea Instead of Coffee? Yes!

  Many of you may already know about the traditional dandelion and chicory “coffee” combination, but are you aware of rosemary “coffee”? While dandelion and chicory clear the liver instead of congesting it and draining the adrenals, as coffee does, rosemary courses energy through the liver, giving very similar effects as coffee without its negative…


Rooibos for Radiant Health

Like many other herbalists, I like to drink herbal tea with or after my meals. However, it’s not always easy to find. Generally most restaurants offer chamomile and/or mint teas, but few other choices. So you can imagine how happy I was to discover that in South Africa I found rooibos tea everywhere plus available…


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.


Reishi, the Longevity Herb

I love discussing my favorite herbs as they tend to have many diverse, not to mention effective, uses. The topic of this article, reishi, or ling zhi, definitely has those traits but it also has quite interesting lore. For thousands of years, reishi was considered to be worth its weight in gold because it was…


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…


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…


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…


Tierra mulberry tree

Mulberry Dreams

Our Mulberry Tree! Early this morning I trudged out under the foggy sky and picked all I could from our one mulberry tree. Last week I had only gotten two handfuls; now I filled a small bucket. As jui …



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 …


Loquat Leaf: For Much More than Just Coughs!

The shift from summer to fall is perhaps the most difficult adjustment for most folks healthwise; colds, flu and viruses start to arise now. Loquat leaf is a fabulous fall herb since it’s great for all sorts of coughs that are common at this time of year. It is especially effective when there is abundant…


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…