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…

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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.…

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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…

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Jujubes

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 …

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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 …

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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,…

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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 …

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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.

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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…

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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…

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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 …

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Mistletoe

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 …

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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…

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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…

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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…

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A frosted donut

How to Get Sick

There is so much focus on what one should do in order to stay well that I sometimes find switching the tables helps people gain a different perspective of how their habits invite sickness into their l …

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Horsetail

Horsetail

Horsetail photo by Lesley Tierra Horsetail Equisetum spp. Energies and flavors: Cool, astringent Uses: Hemostatic, astringent, vulnerary With the advent of Spring comes horsetail, a type of shave-gras …

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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…

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