Friday, September 30, 2011

Photo Friday - Uva Ursi

Photo Friday - where I post pictures of plants along with tidbits of herbal information. 

To start this new tradition I've chosen one of the first plants I ever personally used for medicine, Arctostaphylos uva-ursi, otherwise known as simply uva ursi, kinnikinnick, and bearberry. 

 I use uva ursi specifically for urinary complaints such as bladder infections or UTIs. I usually combine it with yarrow and marshmallow and it works well both for acute conditions as well as for prevention.

I used to get UTIs frequently. Before I knew how to use herbs a UTI always meant a panicked trip to the doctor to get antibiotics which I knew would give me a yeast infection and on and on and on. If you've never had a bladder infection let me tell ya, that getting in the car/bus to go to the doctor's office when you have to pee extremely urgently is not a favorite pastime. Possibly worse is getting a UTI at 2:00am and know that you have to tough it out until morning. Cranberry juice has never worked for me. 

Luckily for me my skills as an herbalist increased and I was able to address the reason I was getting UTIs. It's been many years since I've had one. Still my love and gratitude for this plant has never waned. 

As you might imagine, learning about this little plant was really incredible for me. I was amazed that some green leaves could save me from so much agony. And then I finally found uva-ursi in person. Such an adorable plant with those beautiful bell flowers. 

We use the leaves for medicine. I harvest them towards the end of summer or beginning of fall. 

Like many plants in the heath family (Ericaceae), uva ursi thrives in acidic soils. I live amongst douglas firs and ponderosa pines and they cover the forest floor. In the spring you can find me on my belly getting glimpses of those perfectly pink flowers. 

Uva ursi is frequently planted in western Washington as an ornamental plant. I often see it in green spaces in parking lots. It's evergreen leaves are beautiful year round. 

In the summer the flowers turn into red berries. They are edible and can range from slightly sweet and astringent to very mealy and astringent. If the berries are still on the plant when I harvest the leaves then I harvest them for medicine as well. 

I harvest leaves both for making a tincture as well as for teas. 

 Uva ursi is often a part of smoking blends. 
Recently I heard of an herbalist using uva ursi for yeast infections. 

I also adore the beautiful orange red bark of uva ursi. 

Here's a couple of videos on uva ursi. The first one is an old video by me and the second is by Nome. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Summer hors d'oeuvres

The seasons are changing here with the air noticeably cooler and the foliage slowly turning from brilliant green to speckles of yellows and browns. 

Which reminded me to share my favorite summer appetizer before it's too late! 

I've been making some variation of this simple treat since I was a teenager. I often bring it to summer potlucks and it's a big hit. 

I'll call it, Marinated Feta Delight

But really it's just feta marinated with lemon juice, herbs and served with tomatoes. 

To make this recipe you'll need

Lemon juice
Fresh or dried herbs such as thyme, chives, oregano
optional: bread or crackers for serving. 

Begin with your chunk of feta. 

Crumble it into smaller pieces. 

Add lemon juice. How much? Oh, I never measure. Enough to wet all the cheese with it, but not so much that it puddles on the bottom. Might as well throw some lemon zest in the mix if you've got it. 

Add your fresh or dried herbs. (Go fresh if possible.) How much? I never measure. 

It's best if you can let this sit overnight, but I've served it right away and it's still good. 

When you are ready to serve... Find some delicious mouth watering heirloom tomatoes. 

Slice them up. 

Then arrange the marinated feta and tomatoes on a plate. Get extra fancy and sprinkle some fresh herbs over it all. 

Serve with bread or crackers. 


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

An Herbal Treasure: Plant Healer - The Printed Book!

Ghost Ranch, home of the Traditions in Western Herbalism Conference
I recently traveled to the deserts of the Southwest to attend the Traditions in Western Herbalism Conference. Only in its second year of existence, this grassroots revival hosted by Jesse Wolf Hardin and Kiva Rose has already become an epic gathering for those interested in the plant world. 

I attended as many classes as I could, presented a class myself, danced the night away to a variety of musicians and happily basked in the presence of so many wonderful people and herbalists. 

I made a couple purchases at the conferences, doing my part to support teachers, medicine makers and other inspiring folks. 

One treasure I devoured the entire way home was the Plant Healer Annual

This is a printed version of the revolutionary Plant Healer Magazine which is published electronically every three months. 

This black and white book boasts over 600 pages of printed material from over 60 contemporary herbalists. The breadth of information and diversity of writers makes this a special snapshot in time of modern herbalism. 

From Kiva and Wolf's inspiring writings 
to Sean Donahue's biographies of historical monographs
to Virginia Adi's in depth monographs
to Matthew Wood's series on the cardiovascular system
to columns written for and by children (like Herbal Roots Zine author, Kristine Brown)

to 7Song's botany series
to jim mcdonald's energetics column 
to John Gallagher's grassroots marketing series 
to Paul Bergner's innovative musings 
to Robin Rose Bennett's soulful writings 

to Ananda Wilson's tree medicine
to Phyllis Light's illuminating monographs 
to Sam Thayer's foraging expeditions
to Henriette Kress' clinical perspectives 
to Loba's enchanting foods...

and on and on and on. This book will take me weeks to fully read, and a lifetime to fully absorb. 

You can purchase your own copy along with a quarterly subscription by
clicking here

Enjoy a piece of herbal history! 

Plant Healer: A Journal of Traditional HerbalismPlant Healer: A Journal of Traditional HerbalismPlant Healer: A Journal of Traditional HerbalismPlant Healer: A Journal of Traditional Herbalism

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Bringing Nature Awareness to Rootstalk!

This year Mountain Rose Herbs is gathering herbalists in Oregon to celebrate plants, people and planet from September 22nd - 25th. This is a benefit event for Cascadia Wildlands. The class offerings are an eclectic mix of herbs, activism, homesteading skills and connection to nature. 

My husband Xavier has been asked to share his skills in living close to the earth. He'll be teaching two classes at the festival. One on the Gifts of Plants, using plants for food, shelter, clothing, tools and fire. And another on building nature awareness skills such as tracking, bird language and sense of place.

I am super excited to be able to travel down with Xavier to support him in his classes as well as attend this incredible event. 

Held outside of Salem on 300 acres of land there are lots of fun activities to do when not attending classes including canoeing, archery and hiking trails. Each night there is a plethora of different music and entertainment. 

We'll have a table at the event to sell DIY Pine Needle Basketry Kits and my own Bee Balm Honey. 

We hope to see you there! 

For more information about Rootstalk visit their website

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Fall Wellness Weekend at Skalitude: Immune Support

Nourish and Strengthen! A Wellness Retreat from November 4th at 5:00pm to November 6th at 2:00pm. 

This is a self-empowerment wellness weekend - beat the high cost of medical care by learning to take care of yourself.

Prepare for winter with a weekend of nutritious food, immune supporting herbs and nourishing yoga at the awe-inspiring Skalitude Retreat Center.

We will deepen our experience of well-being through the idea of ‘food as medicine’, preparing simple recipes and herbal teas that support and strengthen the immune system. Asana and pranayama practice deepen our ability to feel our radiant health, sauna time and silence create space to release what no lon
ger serves us.

Restore body and mind after the busyness of summer, feed your reserves of health in preparation for the cold season!

Led by

- Becky Studen, certified yoga teacher, has studied various types of yoga including Vinyasa, Ashtanga, Pre- and Post-natal, and Power Core and Yin yoga. Yoga has reminded her to breathe deeply when parenting, love her body and to take time to simply be.

- Rosalee de la Foret, clinical herbalist, author, photographer and Structural medicine Specialist. Rosalee is the author of dozens of articles and several ebooks on herbal healing.

Participation in meal prep and clean up is part of the weekend experience.

We are joyfully offering this weekend at an exceptionally low price in order to serve those who need this retreat. Space is limited to 11 participants - register early to ensure your spot.

Registration: $195 by October 21st, $220 after. Price includes all meals, lodging, herbal preparations and class time including a healthy dose of yoga and herbal discussions. You will also have some free time to yourself as well as time in the sauna if desired.

Send check made out to Skalitude to PO Box 74, Carlton WA 98814
or contact Lindsey at

PLEASE help us spread the word about this event. 
Thank you!

Friday night
Arrival: 3:00 to 5:00 pm 
5:00 - 6:00 Making bone broth and dinner prep 
6:00 - 7:00 Grounding yoga practice 
7:00 - 8:00 Dinner 
8:00 - 9:00 Opening circle; introductions, intentions

8:00 - 8:30 Awakening yoga practice (yin/yang) 
8:45 - 9:30 Breakfast 
9:30 - 10:30 Lunch Prep and free time 
10:30 - 12:00 Discussion: Deeply nourishing herbs and food for a strong immune system 12:30 - 1:30 Lunch
1:30 - 3:30 Free time, dinner prep 
3:30 - 5:30 Deepening yoga practice 
6:00 - 9:00 Dinner/Sauna in the order of your choice

8:00 - 8:30 Awakening yoga practice (yin/yang) 
8:45 - 9:30 Breakfast 
9:30 - 10:00 Free time and lunch prep 
10:00 - 11:00 Discussion: Herbs and Foods for the Cold and Flu 
11:00 - 12:00 Completion yoga practice
12:30 - 1:30 Lunch 1:30 - 2:00 Closing circle

Monday, September 5, 2011

Volume Four of Plant Healer Magazine is OUT!

The revolutionary duo has done it again. 

Co-editors, Kiva and Jesse Wolf Hardin have just released the fourth volume of Plant Healer Magazine. Once again they've surpassed their own high-bar of excellence to produce another stunning issue. 

This issue is filled with 213 pages of information packed articles and gorgeous herbal artwork. 

The diverse background of herbalists that contribute to this magazine are encouraged to push their offerings to the limit to bring us insight into today's herbal world - and it shows! Articles in this magazine are experienced based and go beyond the mundane to broaden herbal horizons. 

I've cherished every issue and have been honored to see my own work amongst the pages. 

If you are not a subscriber I highly encourage you to partake in this herbal history in the making. Now is an especially great time to become a subscriber. Later this month this electronic magazine will be offered in a beautiful hardback form, but only to subscribers. 

The Plant Healer book is over 700 pages and will doubtless entertain us herbalists for many years to come. 

Learn more about Plant Healer Magazine and subscribe by clicking on the banner below. 
Plant Healer Banner

(Using this link helps to support my blog. Thanks!) 

Herbal School Listing

Schools & correspondence courses

Anima Center (Correspondence Courses Available)
Kiva Rose and Jesse Wolf Hardin offer several correspondence courses with optional apprenticeships at their sanctuary in New Mexico. The Medicine Woman Herbal course is designed to provide the student with not only the practical how-to of getting acquainted with traditional botanical medicine, human wellness and the herbs themselves, but also with the knowledge, impetus and support to cultivate intimacy with the plants, self, others and the whole.
Aviva Romm (Correspondence Courses Available)
Aviva is an herbalist, a midwife, med school student of Yale, and author of many fabulous books. She offers an in-depth correspondence course entitled: Herbal Medicine for Women: Certified Women’s Herbal Educator Distance Learning Program
Bastyr University, located in Seattle Washington, offers an undergraduate degree in herbal sciences. On site only.
Blessed Maine Herb Farm School of Herbal Medicine
We invite you to study herbalism here at the Blessed Maine Herb Farm School of Herbal Medicine.Cross the threshold into THE WAY OF THE WILD HEART and engage the wisdom and spirit of the healing herbs with internationally recognized community herbalist, organic gardener, author and teacher, Gail Faith Edwards as your guide.
California School of Herbal Studies - On Site Only (Sonoma County, CA)
Our mission is to help create sustainable communities by providing Earth centered, community based herbal education. CSHS works to empower individuals with the skills, experience and confidence needed by the community herbalist. Our school teaches from the tradition of western herbalism, with a materia medica primarily made up of North American and European herbs. Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese Medicine perspectives and herbs are used to complement the Western tradition.
David Winston
Offers a two year herbal studies course in New Jersey and via the web. He also offers extensive reference materials in his Herbal Therapeutics Research Library
Dominion Herbal College
Established in 1926, Dominion Herbal College was the first school of Herbal Medicine to offer clinical level studies in North America.
East West School of Herbology (Correspondence Courses Available)
Michael and Leslie Tierra offer several different correspondence courses from Family Herbalist to a certification track, which once completed, will allow for acceptance into the American Herbalist Guild as a professional member.

We are a non-profit organization dedicated to providing healthcare resources grounded in Nature. Our work brings clinical herbalism to community practice through the weaving of science, spirit and grassroots activism. We provide one of the nation’s most extensive clinical training opportunities in herbal medicine, rooted in deep connection with the plants and place.
Foundations of Herbalism (Correspondence Courses Available)
Christopher Hobbs offers a one year correspondence course which covers many western herbs.

Four Seasons Herbal Intensive with jim mcdonald
For those of you in the Michigan area (or those interesting moving to get an incredible herbal education) jim mcdonald's year long program is amazing. He offers experienced based learning, lots of time in the field and some of the best herbal energetics theory available today. 
Heart of Herbs and Aromatherapy School
Demetria Clark (author of Herbal Healing for Children) works with each student individually to assist them in achieving their education and herbal goals. The school offers extensive herbal and aromatherapy education programs and have served over 6500 students since 1998, from all over the world. Programs are available through apprenticeship, distance learning and eLearning. Students learn about western herbalism, anatomy, botany, horticulture all in conjunction with evidence based herbal education.
Herbal Transitions
Sharol Tilgner is a naturopathic physician and herbalist who hosts the annual Herb Fest on her farm outside of Eugene, Oregon. She offers a variety of weekend classes, apprenticeships, and longer courses.
International College of Herbal Medicine
This web based college offers a huge range of classes from an impressive list of herbalists such as Isla Burgess and Amanda McQuade Crawford.
K.P. Khalsa (Onsite only)
Karta Purkh Singh Khalsa is the president of the American Herbalist Guild and offers a professional herbalist course which fulfills a lot of requirements for professional membership within the AHG.
Michael Moore (Correspondence Courses Available)
Offers a 12 lesson course via correspondence. 95% of the materials are DVDs. His website also offers a wide variety of materia medica.
North American Institute of Medical Herbalism (Correspondence Courses Available)
The North American Institute of Medical Herbalism, offers introductory, advanced, and clinical training in medical herbalism and clinical nutrition in the vitalist tradition. One of the main faculty is Paul Bergner and he offers classroom, clinical, field training, and distance learning formats. Paul also publishes the quarterly Medical Herbalism journal (since 1989) and frequently leads clinical training trips to Nicaragua.
Northeast School of Botanical Medicine
7Song offers herbal courses in Ithaca New York with a focus on Clinical Herbalism, First Aid and Plant Identification.
Sage Mountain (Correspondence Courses Available)
Rosemary Gladstar’s, The Science & Art of Herbalism correspondence course offers a comprehensive overview of herbalism and prepares the student to competently and effectively use herbs for home health care. It’s an excellent introduction for the beginner/intermediate student of herbalism and gives an in-depth overview of herbalism. For the more advanced student it provides an excellent review and a solid foundation upon which to build their own studies.
School of Integrative Herbology
Candis Cantin offers a great long distance course aimed to help people learn how to integrate Western herbology with the constitutional and lifestyle model of Ayurveda. She also has onsite courses in California.
Southwest School of Botanical Medicine (Correspondence Courses Available)From beloved herbalist Michael Moore, this school offers two different long distance courses. 95% of the materials are DVDs. His website also offers a wide variety of free materials.
Tai Sophia Institute for the Healing Arts
Tai Sophia offers several graduate programs in the healing arts with a graduate program for Herbal Studies as well. Located in Maryland it hosts a fabulous collection of many herbalists teaching the course. On site only.
Wise Woman Center (Correspondence Courses Available)
Author, herbalist and wise woman Susun Weed offers a variety of onsite and correspondence courses. Her school also offers a wide variety of one time classes.
The School of Traditional Western Herbalism
This school is run by Portland-based herbalists Chris Smaka and Hanna Jordan. Guest instructors include Paul Bergner, Margi Flint, Howie Brownstein, Deborah Frances, Jim McDonald, and others.
Howie Brounstein and Steven Yeager focus on botany, wildcrafting and more. Apprenticeships, clinical internships, and more at this Eugene, OR based school.

If you are interested in become a clinical herbalist and would one day like to be eligible for professional membership within the AHG then see their guide for herbal education here

Mountain Rose Herbs has another school listing here. 

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Lovely Linden

Linden growing in a medieval garden in Tarascon, France

This article is all about linden flower tea and linden tea benefits. 

I recently spent a month in France to meet my husband’s family. Like most herbalists on vacation I viewed this trip as a great opportunity to see lots of different plants! We traveled all over France, staying with different friends and family, and everyone very generously took us to medieval herb gardens and other botanical sanctuaries. 

One “herb” we didn’t have to go searching for was linden. These incredibly beautiful and aromatic trees are EVERYWHERE in France. They line the streets of Paris, drape across the boardwalks at lakes in the alps, and shade the castles in the south. 

Walking through the villages of France I quickly learned that you can often smell the sweet scent of a linden tree before you find them with your eyes. More than once my nose caught the perfume of linden and we were off to find the culprit. 

Botanical names: Tilia cordata, Tilia americana, Tilia europaea 

Also commonly called basswood and lime tree

Plant family: Malvaceae/Tiliaceae

Plant energetics: Cooling, moistening

Parts used: Mainly flowers, buds and leaves, but bark and sap is also used for food and medicine

Plant properties: Hypotensive, relaxing nervine, relaxing diaphoretic, demulcent, astringent, anti-spasmodic, mild diuretic

Plant preparations: tea, tincture, food

Lime is one of the ingredients of my own special ‘tea of happiness’ that will bring you peaceful nights, joyful awakenings and happy days, if you will take it regularly.  
Maurice Mességué 

Health Secrets of Plants and Herbs

The above quote comes to us from the infamous French herbalist, Maurice MességuéLinden flower tea may be the most popular herbal tea in France. Its lovely tasting flowers and leaves are frequently used for teas and many lotions also include this wonderful herb. 

Linden flower tea is one of those sterling examples of a plant that has it all. It is delicious, it is gentle enough for children and the elderly, yet it has also been employed for serious acute problems. 

Linden tea benefits for the heart...

These days I most often hear people speak of linden flower tea as a remedy for the heart, especially for hypertension. One way to understand how this works is by thinking of it as a relaxing nervine. Linden relaxes tense musculature, bringing relief and calmness. We know how it feels to walk around with our shoulders tense to our ears, jumpy and on edge. That alone can raise blood pressure! Perhaps because it is a relaxing nervine, or maybe because of more specific actions, linden is also a vasodilator, something that dilates blood vessels. This in itself can lower blood pressure. 

[Linden] also cleans the blood and makes it more fluid. This means that it is a valuable defense against arteriosclerosis, phlebitis, angina and heart attacks. Naturally one must not expect much from it after these troubles have already occurred: I am recommending the lime as a preventative, and as this you cannot start taking it soon enough. 
 Maurice Mességué
 Health Secrets of Plants and Herbs

An herb for the nervous system...

As a relaxing nervine linden flower tea soothes and calms the nervous system. It can be specific for anxiety that is accompanied by tension: tense shoulders, muscle cramping, tension headaches, painful menstrual cramps, etc. Also think of it for difficulty sleeping due to excessive tension. 
Have a restless child who isn’t interested in bedtime? Take David Hoffman’s advice for a bedtime bath. 

Herbs such as Tilia and Trifolium [Red Clover] added to a bath as an infusion will have a calming effect and will prove useful before bedtime. 
 David Hoffman 
Medical Herbalism

Historically it is listed for use during mild hysteria and even for epilepsy and convulsions. I don’t know of any herbalists currently using it in this way but looking at historical references can give us new resources and ideas to use herbs in ways that may have been lost to us.

Linden for dryness... 

Linden flower tea is both demulcent and astringent, making it a perfect remedy for excessive dryness. The demulcent qualities add moisture to the body, while the astringent qualities tighten and tone tissues, helping to keep moisture in. 

Think of linden flower tea for dry and irritated rashes. Besides taking it internally as a tea it can also be applied externally as a poultice or used as a bath herb. Messegue recommends it for any type of skin inflammation such as burns, boils and abscesses. 

Linden flower tea is one of my favorite summertime drinks. It is cooling and moistening, quenching thirst while tasting aromatically heavenly.

Linden tea benefits as an herb for digestion...

As an aromatic herb that is also anti-spasmodic it can be used for indigestion or even stagnant digestion. It is especially useful for those high strung, type A people with a red face, hot skin and a boisterous demeanor who have trouble digesting foods due to excitement or stress. 

As a mild astringent it can be used for diarrhea, especially diarrhea accompanied by cramping and other painful digestive symptoms. 

Linden tea benefits for cold and flus...

Another common use for linden flower tea is during colds and flus. As a relaxing nervine and vasodilator it both releases tension in the musculature and aids circulation to the skin, helping to move heat out of the body. It’s specific for a higher fever accompanied by tension and restlessness. 

It’s also used as a pectoral herb for use in catarrhal symptoms such as bronchitis, coughing, congestion, etc. Think of its soothing mucilaginous textures for sore and irritated throats. Some herbals refer to linden being used for people with asthma. 

Dr. Sharol Tilgner reports its use has been shown to shorten the duration of infectious viral conditions such as cold sores and other herpes virus outbreaks. 


In France the bark was commonly sold as a gentle laxative. My friend and colleague Christophe Bernard regularly uses linden bark as a depurative herb for the liver

Scientific research on linden...

Not too much modern research has been done on linden, but at I found studies showing it inhibits proliferation of lymphoma cell lines, that it is able to reduce pain and, when used as a relaxing nervine, it does not affect motor function. 

Edible Qualities

I’ve never eaten Linden myself but in researching for this article I ran across several references using linden as food. 

The leaves and flowers can be pounded into a flour that can then be mixed with other flours such as wheat to make baked goods. This was commonly done in Europe during WWII when food was scarce. 

The young leaves can be eaten when fresh. I’ve seen recipes that called for linden leaves as salad greens as well as sandwich toppings. The inner bark is also edible and the sap can be boiled down into a syrup. 

Herbalist Ananda Wilson tells me the green fruits can be eaten as well. 

Other uses for linden

Linden trees have been an important source for workable wood. It boasts a light soft wood that lends itself to carving. 

The inner bark can be used to make various fibrous tools such as baskets, ropes, mats, paper and cloth. 

Botanically speaking

In Europe they commonly use Tilia cordata. In north america we have Tilia americana. As far as I know all species of Tilia can be used interchangeably.

Linden growing on the shore of Lake Geneva

Linden trees grow to be a tall stately deciduous tree, up to 130 feet in height.

Various species are native to practically all northern latitudes and they are often frequently planted as ornamentals. Here is the range map for Tilia spp.

The leaves are shaped like a heart and have serrated edges. They form an alternate leaf pattern.

Linden flowers are white to yellowish and they grow in cymes or clusters. When in bloom you can smell their delicious scent from far away.

Plant Preparations

Linden makes a wonderfully refreshing linden flower tea. You can simply steep one teaspoon of the leaves and flowers in a mug for 15 minutes. Be sure to cover it while steeping. This is a pleasant and slightly mucilaginous tea.

You can also make it into a nourishing herbal infusion by steeping one ounce of the leaves and flowers in a quart of water for four hours or overnight. This will have a stronger therapeutic action than the tea. Some people prefer to only use the flowers for teas and infusions. 

Linden can be eaten; both the young leaves and flowers are great on salads. 

The flowers can be infused into honey for a tasty and soothing treat. You can see an article I wrote on linden honey here. 

For external purposes you could make a poultice or fermentation from the leaves and flowers. 

You could also infuse it into oil to use in salves or creams or even try it as a bath herb. 

Linden can also be used as an alcohol extract or tincture. The tannin content indicates it would be a good choice for a glycerin extraction and you might even try it in vinegar. 

Where to buy Linden... 

Hopefully you have a linden tree growing near you. If not check with your local herbal apothecary. 

Mountain Rose Herbs carries high quality linden leaves and flowers for making tea. They also carry linden tincture. By using this link you help support my blog. Thank you! 


Linden flower tea is a delicious herb that can be enjoyed as a simple after dinner tea. It can also be used for improving heart health, supporting nervous system health and for a variety of symptoms related to upper respiratory viruses.

If you ever get a chance to visit a linden tree while blooming in the summer, do! The bees devour these trees creating a very soothing buzz that surrounds the blooming tree.