Sunday, October 26, 2008

American Herbalist Guild Symposium II

This has been a fabulous trip. I have equally enjoyed attending the American Herbalist Guild Symposium as well as spending time with friends. For the past two nights I've stayed up late talking to John and Kimberly, reconnecting with two people who have played such an integral part of my life. Because of John and Kimberly I moved out of Seattle to the countryside, my eyes were opened to the world of herbalism, and because of their daughter Hailey my husband and I fell in love. I am truly thankful and amazed at their creative contributions to the world.

I only took one class today at the American Herbalist Guild Symposium and it was stellar. Chanchal Cabrera has been my favorite part of the symposium. Today I took her demulcents class which I thoroughly enjoyed. Well, to be honest, the first part was a little too heavy in chemistry for my understanding, but the second part focusing more on the plants was very fascinating. She highlighted marshmallow root, comfrey, mullein, flax, violet, fenugreek and slippery elm.

I especially appreciated that she passed around samples of these plants for us to feel and taste (nice to have a real plant while sitting in the Marriot Hotel). The biggest Ah Hah for me was learning how mucilaginous herbs can help a cough/congestion. I've heard this explained before but never quite understood it. (not that I fully understand now, but I can say I have a clearer picture.)

When you have mucous in the lungs that is hard and not coming up easily your body wants to keep coughing in an attempt to bring up this mucous. By eating mucilaginous herbs you coat the stomach. This coating of the stomach gives a vagus nerve response which translates to the lungs and then thins the mucous in the lungs making it easier to cough up. If you tried taking a stimulating herb in this instance you would create harmful, painful, incessant coughing with no results (e.g. lobelia). If you took an anti-tussive herb in this instance you would trap mucous in the lungs creating even more problems (e.g. wild cherry bark). Cabrera recommends always starting with mucilaginous herbs when it comes to congestion/coughs because these will do no harm, where as more stimulating herbs could.

During the afternoon I felt very full of information so John and I stayed at the booth and then later packed up Wildcraft! and came home.

Besides the herbal classes being offered another highlight at the American Herbalist Guild was meeting Annie Humphrey, herbalist and musician. I traded her a quart of pickled bull whip kelp for her CD, the Sound of Ribbons. You can learn more about Annie at I highly recommend her music.

After the American Herbalist Guild Symposium I got a five element acupuncture treatment from John which left me feeling like a breath of fresh air. Later, I got a phone call from my husband who's been busy braintanning deer hides. We actually haven't had our own phone for the past month. It's my experience that living without a fridge is challenging, but living without a phone is downright painful especially when I have two businesses to run and a husband who I love, miss, and expect to talk to every day while away. Tonight he reported that we should have a phone tomorrow!

I'll wake up tomorrow, spend some quality time with Kimberly, run errands in the big city, and then make it home before dark.

If an American Herbalist Guild Symposium is in your future budget I highly recommend attending.