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30 June 2016

Snacking on Summer Sorrel

Written by Corinna Wood, Posted in Corinna's Corner, Herbal Medicine, Local Plants, Nourishing Foods

wood sorrel 2Walking in the woods on a hot afternoon or working in the garden, I often find myself nibbling on wood sorrel for thirst-quenching refreshment. This widespread, wild edible is familiar to many—some call it “sour grass” or refer to the tiny fruits as “sorrel pickles”. Children seem particularly fond of foraging and eating those little “pickles”.

Wood sorrel, or Oxalis spp., is particularly abundant in Appalachia and the lemony flavor of the leaves and fruits make it a wonderful trail-side snack or a tasty addition to your wild salads. Although it resembles clover, the cluster of three, heart-shaped “sweetheart” leaves, five-petal, yellow flowers and tiny, cucumber-like seedpods readily identify wood sorrel.

20 June 2016

St. Johnswort Preparations

Written by Corinna Wood, Posted in Corinna's Corner, Do It Yourself, Herbal Medicine, Local Plants

Make your own bottled sunshine

st johnswort oilThere is no other medicinal herb that bespeaks more of sunshine than St. Johnswort, or St. J’s, as we fondly call it. It loves sunny open places, blooms at the height of summer solstice, soothes the skin after sunburn, and even brings sunshine into our lives through its mood elevating properties. Establish some of this sunny plant in your garden this spring!

The most well known, most widely used species of St. Johnswort is Hypericum perforatum, studied for its uses against depression—especially helpful for the kind of dark moods that come from seasonal affective disorder (SAD). In fact, it is often said that plants grow where they are needed—and St J’s is a prolific “weed” in the Pacific Northwest, where dark and rainy winters contribute to a high number of SAD cases.

02 June 2016

Herbal Oils & Salves

Written by Flora, Posted in Do It Yourself, Herbal Medicine, Women's Wellness

Foundations in Medicine Making - Part 5

calendula salveHerbal constituents can be released into and stored in various solutions such as water, oil, vinegar and alcohol. Some liquids (called menstruums in herbal medicine making) facilitate the release of different compounds and can be more or less effective depending on the plant and it's properties. Below are several different techniques for extracting herbs with oil from Ceara Foley's class at the 2016 Herbal Conference.

Infused Oils

Oils are an effective way to introduce herbs directly on and through the skin. I prefer to use olive oil for medicinal purposes due to its healing properties and long shelf life and almond or apricot oil for massage and skin care.

23 May 2016

Syrups & Elixirs

Written by Flora, Posted in Do It Yourself, Herbal Medicine, Women's Wellness

Foundations in Medicine Making - Part 4

elderberry syrupHerbal constituents can be released into and stored in various solutions such as water, oil, vinegar and alcohol. Some liquids (called menstruums in herbal medicine making) facilitate the release of different compounds and can be more or less effective depending on the plant and it's properties. Below are several different techniques for extracting herbs in syrups from Ceara Foley's class at the 2016 Herbal Conference.

Syrups

Syrups are generally made to help with the flavors of herbs, especially for children. I like syrups just for variety’s sake. There are many methods handed down from our ancestors. I have adapted this first one from Rosemary Gladstar’s teachings to include my own experiences and tastes.

13 May 2016

Glycerine & Vinegar Extracts

Written by Flora, Posted in Do It Yourself, Herbal Medicine, Local Plants

Foundations in Medicine Making - Part 3

dropper bottle pinkHerbal constituents can be released into and stored in various solutions such as water, oil, vinegar and alcohol. Some liquids (called menstruums in herbal medicine making) facilitate the release of different compounds and can be more or less effective depending on the plant and it's properties. Below are several different techniques for extracting herbs with water from Ceara Foley's class at the 2016 Herbal Conference.

Glycerine Extracts:

Glycerites can be beneficial for those with alcohol concerns or for children’s remedies. The disadvantage is in not dissolving resinous or oily materials as well as alcohol. There is also a shorter shelf life.

The ratio of glycerin to water varies greatly from 50% to 100%. The only hard and fast rule I know is you always need more glycerin than water to preserve the herbs well. Make the extract as you would with alcohol, chopping, macerating, and straining the herb with the final results being a thick, sweet tasting product.

04 May 2016

Herbal Tinctures

Written by Flora, Posted in Do It Yourself, Herbal Medicine, Local Plants

Foundations of Medicine Making - Part 2

 

echinacea tincture 438 x 600Herbal constituents can be released into and stored in various solutions such as water, oil, vinegar and alcohol. Some liquids (called menstruums in herbal medicine making) facilitate the release of different compounds and can be more or less effective depending on the plant and it's properties. Below are several different techniques for extracting herbs with alcohol from Ceara Foley's class at the 2016 Herbal Conference.

Tincture Preparations:

Generally, alcohol is a better menstruum than water for the complete extraction of plant constituents. Various ratios of water to alcohol will dissolve most all relevant ingredients of an herb while acting as a preservative. Tinctures can also be made with glycerin or vinegar although not with the best medicinal results for most herbs. I would use the menstruums for nutritional herbs or very mild tonics.

04 May 2016

Infusions

Written by Flora, Posted in Do It Yourself, Herbal Medicine

Foundations of Medicine Making - Part 1

Herbal constituents can be released into and stored in various solutions such as water, oil, vinegar and alcohol. Some liquids (called menstruums in herbal medicine making) facilitate the release of different compounds and can be more or less effective depending on the plant and it's properties. Below are several different techniques for extracting herbs with water from Ceara Foley's class at the 2016 Herbal Conference.

Standard Water Infusions

Nettle tea cupAppropriate for leaves, flowers, green stems and fresh berries where the substances wanted are easily released into the water.

Make tea in a ceramic, glass, or enamel vessel.

Use 1 tsp. dried herb (or 3 tsp. fresh) per 1 cup of water, or 1 oz. herb per pint of water.

Place herb in vessel and pour boiling water over.

Cover. Steep 15 minutes then strain while hot.

It is best to make infusions as needed due to a very short shelf life. Drink 1 cup 3 times daily.

04 May 2016

Nettle Pesto

Written by Flora, Posted in Do It Yourself, Herbal Medicine, Local Plants, Nourishing Foods

Now's the time to eat those nourishing nettles!

Nettle-Pesto-600 x 400Ingredients:

1 cup raw almonds
10-15 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon mineral salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
4 cups young nettle leaves
3 cups loosely packed arugula leaves
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil, or to preferred consistency
*optional 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
(I prefer it without the parmesan, and serve over goat cheese on toast instead)

08 April 2016

Mystical Mugwort

Written by Corinna Wood

Artemesia vulgaris

2015.3 darrodils 600 x 450Have you spotted her silvery, aromatic leaves emerging this spring? Many of you are probably quite familiar with mugwort (Artemesia vulgaris). As winter releases its grip, she shows up along paths, in the garden…even roadsides. When she’s mature, we appreciate her for her aromatic qualities: dried and placed in sachets and pillows to encourage vivid dreaming, or used as our local smudge for energetic clearing. Mugwort is also used in oriental healing modalities such as moxabustion, when burned as part of acupuncture therapy.

28 March 2016

Violet: Beautiful Blood Cleanser

Written by Flora

by Jessica Godino

ViolaToday while I was taking a walk with my son, a tiny burst of color caught my eye. I looked more closely and realized joyfully that I had found my first Violet of the season. And not just one, for the ground was covered with dozens of sweetly nodding purple flowers. My son and I happily gathered handfuls of the delicate blossoms and tender green leaves, eating some as we picked and saving the rest for dinner.

17 March 2016

Nature offers the best spring medicine

Written by Corinna Wood

So get outside!

2015.4.3 corinna nettles - med cropWhether you’re pleasantly well rested or suffering from cabin fever, the spring equinox is the time to rediscover all the glories of the natural world!

This March, I've been walking around my community, visiting the sites where we garden--a blessed time, after such a hard winter here in our neck of the woods. Destruction from the winter in the form of downed trees and exposed, muddy areas, are evident everywhere. Yet new growth is also popping up.

As children, we are, bewilderingly, kept away from “dirt” and the wildness of the outdoors. Thus we grow up more as caged creatures than the wilder humans our ancestors were. My son, who has grown up without television, recently commented on people watching the Nature Channel. “Why, Mom” he queried “would they watch squirrels on television when they could look right out the window and wait to see what appears?”

23 February 2016

Peppercress: An early spring edible

Written by Corinna Wood, Posted in Corinna's Corner, Herbal Medicine, Local Plants

Have you seen peppercress yet?

2015.3 darrodils 600 x 450The appearance of daffodils and crocus is certainly one of the lovely heralds of spring. Right around this time, my heart also flutters at my first glimpse of peppercress, poking between the cracks in the pavement or peeking out at the edge of my gardens. In the liminal time between the burrowed, reclusive months of winter and the resurgence of the green, peppercress’ tiny white flowers seem so appropriate: fragile, yet determined. I feel hopeful.

Peppercress is one of the first of the wild edibles to reveal herself to us after the dormant season. She’s a member of a very large and distinguished family—brassicacae, formerly known as cruciferae—that includes distant relatives such as kale, cabbage, broccoli, collards and cauliflower, as well as closer kin, like mustard greens.

10 February 2016

Treating anxiety, depression, and stress

Written by Corinna Wood, Posted in Corinna's Corner, Nourishing Foods, Self Love, Women's Wellness

the Wise Woman Way

So many people are experiencing mood disturbances these days. While the choice to use anti-depressant or anti-anxiety medication is a valid one, the increase in use over the past decade has doubled, along with our stress levels. How can we address this issue in our lives on deeper lifestyle level and create more sustainable solutions? My favorite interpretation of the Wise Woman Tradition, which speaks to the heart of this issue, is to:

Live in your body. Speak your truth. Love yourself.

Butter-curd-yogurt 600 x 402Living in your body is all about nourishment, the foundation of the Wise Woman Tradition. If we’re not deeply nourished, it’s very difficult for us to deal with the situational anxiety and depression that comes our way. Most women suffer from a lack of healthy fats in their diets. Healthy fats, like raw organic butter and coconut oil, contribute to a healthy nervous system unlike anything else. A robust nervous system helps us be less emotionally volatile or prone to extreme bouts of anxiety. Reducing or eliminating stimulants will also help get you off the up and down wheel of anxiety.

27 January 2016

Imbolc: Midwinter Holiday

Written by Corinna Wood, Posted in Corinna's Corner

A simple offering

February is often cold and dreary. Yet at the same time, small yet steady signs of new life begin to appear: lambs are born, ravens build their nests, days grow softly longer, and the garden soil can be worked again. The fertility of the land is being reborn.

In Celtic Lore, Imbolc is the time of year when Old Woman Winter is transformed into the young maiden of spring - Bridgid, goddess of regeneration and abundance. At this time of year, the ancient weather divinations asked "How much longer will the winter last?" Modern folklore has translated this into Groundhog's Day - watching to see whether the groundhog will emerge from its hole and see its shadow!

11 January 2016

Stimulating Immunity

Written by Flora, Posted in Herbal Medicine

By Jessica Godino

Most of us rarely think about our immune systems until we get sick. We come down with the latest round of the flu and begin rummaging through our medicine shelf for something, anything, to help us feel better. Luckily there are many herbs that work wonders in acute conditions, and with their help we can soon be back on our feet. Here's a few of my tried and true favorites.

Everyone knows that Echinacea is an immune stimulant. It increases the production of white blood cells and other disease scavenging immune cells. Echinacea can be helpful with all kinds of infections, both viral and bacterial. It is best to begin taking Echinacea at the very first sign of an infection and to continue for at least a week until it is completely cleared up. This herb can also be used preventively; if all of your co-workers are getting sick, for instance, or if you are just feeling extra susceptible.

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