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January 11, 2016


p3 Plant Healers Free 5th Anniversary Supplement

p7 Juliet Blankespoor:
p15 Sabrina Lutes: Herbs for a Babys 1st Year
p21 Elkas Recipes:
p26 Resources for Herbalists
p29 Sam Coffman: Zombie Apocalypse Acute Care!
p36 Herbalist Interview: Susun Weed
p41 Zo Herriges: Herbalizing Our Communities

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Call To Radical Herbalists & Herbalists of Color

December 2015 marked the 5th Anniversary of Plant

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Traditions Herbal Conference 2016

We are inviting submissions of original articles for

our next PH compilation book due for release in
June: Radical Herbalism. We especially would like
to see articles addressing race and class issues around
herbalism, and by some non-white writers. If you
know of any Black, Hispanic or Native American
herbalists, please invite them to email us with ideas:

Wonderful New Online Courses for Herbalists

Complete descriptions of next Septembers unique

and exciting classes can now be found on the remade
TWHC website, along with information on the
enchanted Southwestern site where well again be
gathering. Advance discount tickets now available.
Check it out, and start making your plans:
2016 TWHC

Now Accepting Listings for Plant Healers New

Herbal Schools Directory
Every 5 years we publish an herbal education guide
and Herbal Schools directory, with our next due for
release this May. If you direct a school, or know of
schools to tell about this opportunity, please
download and share this invite and app:
Herbal Schools Directory Application

Plant Healer columnist Juliet Blankespoor is in the

process of releasing one of the most comprehensive,
credible, and inspiring online courses for herbalists
ever, recommended by Kiva Rose. Available now is
the first pod, detailed instruction on medicine
making. Get a sizable discount by signing up at
Plant Healers affiliate link:
Chestnut School Medicine Making Course

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Edible Flowers
Text & Photos by

Juliet Blankespoor
The following delicious article is an exclusive excerpt from dear Juliets truly awesome new
Herbalism Course and accompanying book, as first appeared in Plant Healer Quarterly Magazine.
Sign up for her Medicine Making pod through our affiliate link and receive a special deep discount:
Chestnut Herbal Courses

dinner guest during the growing season, I will

inevitably search the garden for seasonal edible
blossoms, dreaming up innovative ways to prepare
those precious splashes of color and flavor into
evocative delicacies fit for royalty.

I am an unabashed fleuravore, and have been

sprinkling edible flowers on salads and birthday
cakes since I first learned about the haute cuisine of
botanical naughty bits a few decades ago. In my
collegiate years in Florida, you could often find me
perched in the neighborhood redbud tree nibbling on
its tiny pink blooms, or grazing on the billowy white
blossoms of the pineapple guava in the hedges
planted outside my classroom. Dabbling in botanical
reproductive parts evokes a range of emotions in
first-time fleuravores, from quaint (imagine lace-clad
Victorian ladies nibbling on pansy-adorned
cucumber sandwiches at an afternoon tea party) to
racy and edgy (picture a crimson hibiscus flower
adorning a tall cocktail). For me, eating flowers has
always has always felt regal. When I have a special

There are a few considerations when embarking

upon eating flowers. It is important to not eat flowers
that have been sprayed. Ornamental roses are
routinely treated with fungicides, and bedding
plants, like Pansies, are usually grown with
chemicals. With larger flowers, you typically want to
remove the inner reproductive parts, such as the
stamens and pistils, as they can taste bitter or
unpleasant. Daylily, Chinese hibiscus, squash, and
Rose of Sharon are some of the flowers that are best
neutered before nibbling. Smaller flowers often need
to be de-stemmed from their fibrous stalklets or
flower heads. For example, I pull the yellow florets
from calendula and dandelion flower heads, as the
green base is bitter and chewy. The individual
blossoms of bee balm, wild bergamot and anise
hyssop should also be plucked from the tough
flowering stalk. Many flowers possess a demure
flavor and can easily be prepared in savory or sweet
dishes alike. Others, like nasturtium, wild bergamot,
or chives, have a bolder flavor; their spiciness is best
featured in creamy dips or as a piquant splash to
salads or salsas. You will notice many culinary herbs
in the following listtheir flowers possess a similar
flavor to the familiar-tasting leaves, often paired with
a hint of sweetness.
Most people are familiar with the high flavonoid
content of berries, but did you know that edible
flowers are also good sources of dietary flavonoids
and related anti-oxidant compounds? Plants produce
flavonoids for a variety of reasons, including
pigmenting petals and sepals to attract pollinators. It
may seem challenging to ingest a substantial amount
of flowers to contribute a significant quantity of
flavonoids in the diet, but some edible flowers are
quite large and tasty. Examples of bodacious blooms
are Daylily, Rose of Sharon, Chinese Hibiscus, and
Roselle Hibiscus.

Spiced Rose Butter

Ingredients for Stuffed Daylilly Flowers

Edible Flowers:

Anise hyssop (Agastache foeniculum,

Bee Balm (Monarda didyma and other Monarda
species, Lamiaceae)
Calendula (Calendula officinalis, Asteraceae)
Chives (Allium schoenoprasum,
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale, Asteraceae)
Daylily (Hemerocallis fulva, Xanthorrhoeaceae)
Dill (Anethum graveolens, Apiaceae)
Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare, Apiaceae)
Garlic chives, or Chinese chives (Allium
tuberosum, Amaryllidaceae)
Hibiscus, Chinese (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis,
Hibiscus, Roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa,
Johnny jump-ups (Viola tricolor, Violaceae)
Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia and other
species, Lamiaceae)
Nasturtium (Tropaeolum, several species,
Pansy (Viola, various species and hybrids,
Pineapple guava (Acca sellowiana, Myrtaceae)
Pineapple Sage (Salvia elegans, Lamiaceae)
Redbud (Cercis canadensis, Lamiaceae)
Rose (Rosa spp., Rosaceae)
Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus, Malvaceae)
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis, Lamiaceae)
Sage, garden (Salvia officinalis, Lamiaceae)
Squash (Cucurbita pepo, Cucurbitaceae)
Violet (Viola sororia and other species,

Here Are A Few of My Favorite Floral Delicacies:

Spiced Rose Maple Butter

Rose petals and island spices impart a warm fragrance to
velvety butter with a sultry flair.

2 sticks salted butter (8 ounces total), room

2 cups loosely packed rose petals (unsprayed)
3 teaspoons cinnamon powder
teaspoon cardamom powder
cup pure maple sugar (or cane sugar, if
teaspoon vanilla extract

Blend ingredients in food processor, or by hand, and

serve immediately. Can be refrigerated for up to a
week. Serve on warm toast, pancakes, waffles, sweet
breads, or muffins. Consider topping your confection
huckleberries, blackberries and raspberries temper
the rich flavor of the butter. Makes cup.

Stuffed Daylily Flowers

These floral hors doeuvres are fit for the finest herbal

12 daylily flowers, naughty-bits removed

(pluck out the reproductive parts from the
4 ounces of goat cheese, room temperature
1 calendula flower (petals removed, discard
the base)
2 bee balm flowers (flowers removed from the
flower head)
1 Tablespoon minced garlic chives
3 hearts ease blooms
Garnish with free bee balm and calendula

After the goat cheese is warmed, add all the

ingredients, except for the daylilies, and lightly mix.
Stuff the center of the daylily flowers, and garnish
with free blossoms. Serve immediately. Serves 6.

Daylilly & other edible flowers

Clockwise from 11 oclock: Daylily, Fennel,

Squash, Calendula, Nasturtium, Red Clover,
Beebalm & Heartsease in the center

Elkas Recipes for Health

Morel Pot Pie

by Elka
Elka is our partner here at Anima Sanctuary, tending and nourishing us with her kitchen magic. She continues
work on her long awaited cookbook, and shares her delicious and healthful recipes both here and in the
quarterly Plant Healer Magazine. She invites you to test them yourselves, and then let her know what you
think... you can email her at
This year we made this pie to begin our 12 day Yule
celebration. Anytime were able to get Morels, I try to
squirrel some away to make this pie-- the perfect way
to make their stunning flavor shine! Even if there is
no occasion, Morel Pot Pie will make one of any
beautiful day! Even though it takes a bit of time to
get all the elements ready, it ends up being a lot less
work than a more typical fancy meal, and at least as

satisfying to behold and to savor-- at least for our

family! If youre able to prep the Potatoes, meat, and
crust the day before, it makes the rest easy. Its well
worth making even with different mushrooms, but
do try it with Morels sometime! They can be ordered
(dried) online from Earthy Delights or from herbalist
Darcy Williamson.

If youre vegetarian or gluten-free, this pie is still

quite do-able! See notes about the various options
inside and at the end of the recipe.

will be lightly browned all over, cooked through and

a tiny bit cracked on the surface.
Next, make the gravy.

First, we make the crust.

For the Gnocchi Crust:
For various reasons, for our Yule celebration we
decided to make our pie without a top crust, as in the
photo. We have done it both ways multiple times and
the pie never fails to taste amazing! I love how the
gravy cooks into the Morels on the top of the pie
when its uncovered. If you want to leave off the top
crust, just halve the following recipe and skip the
instructions regarding the top crust.
2 cups mashed Potatoes, cold or warm (plain, or
dairy-laden, as long as they are fairly stiff)
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon aromatic herbs (I use a mix of sage,
thyme, and rosemary)
Work the salt, herbs, and flour into the mashed
Potatoes with your hands, and keep working it until
it quits acting like a mess of crumbles and comes
together into a smooth ball. Be patient, this will
probably take at least five minutes. You could try
mixing it in a food processor if youre pressed for
time. Divide it up into two balls, roll out the first ball,
and press it into your pie plate or tart pan. Bake at
350 degrees, until its slightly poufy, dry to the touch,
and just cooked through, but not thoroughly
For a Gluten-free version of this crust:
Substitute masa harina (a more digestible form of
corn flour usually used for making corn tortillas and
tamales) for the Wheat flour, and add one beaten egg
to the dough. If it seems a little too sticky to handle
easily, add a little more masa. Bake the same as
above. The crust will not be poofy when done, but it

Morel Gravy
1 1/2 cups warm water
1/2 cup red wine (Merlot or something similar)
1 cup milk, cold or at room temperature
2 cups dried Morels (or other dried mushrooms)
1/3 cup cornstarch
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
freshly ground Pepper, to taste
1/2-1 teaspoon dried Rosemary
1 teaspoon dried Sage
few pinches Thyme
1-2 tablespoons butter
2 cloves Garlic, lightly sauted in butter (optional)
Put the Morels into a pint jar and cover them with the
warm water. Put a lid on the jar and let it sit until
theyre tender, at least 15 minutes. Once theyre soft,
swish the jar around so that any dirt left in the
mushrooms will be encouraged to sink to the bottom
of the jar. Scoop the morels out of the jar and into a
bowl, and strain the soaking water through a coffee
filter and save it. Pour the milk into another small
bowl and whisk in the cornstarch until well

incorporated, then add this mixture to a 2 quart pot

along with the mushroom soaking water, wine, salt,
Pepper, herbs, butter, and Garlic, if using. Whisking
fairly continuously, bring this to a boil over medium
heat and let it thicken. Finally, stir in the Morels,
reduce the heat to low and simmer five more

Next, the filling:

4 or more tablespoons extra virgin Olive oil or
unsalted butter, clarified or not
about 2 teaspoons sea salt
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
3 cups venison, buffalo, lamb, or beef, cut into bitesize strips or cubes
1 1/2 cups boiled Red Potatoes, diced (not at all
2 Red Peppers, diced
2-3 medium (6-8 long) Parsnips, diced
3 cups Onions, diced
12 oz. frozen Peas, thawed

If you know or suspect that your meat could be a bit

less than tender once cooked, lay it out on a large
cutting board and pound the heck out of it with a
mallet. Then, heat a 12 skillet, or two smaller skillets
over a medium-high flame, add at least one
tablespoon of olive oil or butter to the pan or pans,
and brown the meat in batches. Sprinkle salt over the
meat as it cooks. Put the browned meat into a large
(at least 4 quart) mixing bowl as it finishes cooking.
Once the meat is done, then saut the Onions in the
same pan or pans with more oil or butter. Scrape up
the browned bits that are left in the pan into the
Onions, and salt them. Once theyre cooked to your
liking, scrape them into the bowl of meat. Then
proceed to do the same with the Parsnips, balsamic
vinegar and the Red Peppers, adding more salt and
fat to the pan or pans again, and cooking them until
tender, stirring occasionally so theyll brown a bit.

Assembling the pie:

Layer or mix the different elements in any way that
pleases you, and fill up the baked bottom crust with
the meat and vegetables. Pour the cooked gravy over
the meat and vegetables and use a fork to help the
gravy fill any little pockets in the pie, as well as cover
the top generously. You will have some extra, for
serving time. If using a top crust, roll it out, lay it
over the pie and flute the edges. If you like, save a
few scraps to make into shapes and decorate the top.
A little beaten egg or egg yolk brushed over the top
of the pastry will make it shine, if you want to make
it extra pretty! If Im not using a top crust, I like to
save some of the Peas for putting on top of the pie, to
showcase their color, although they will shrivel a bit
with baking. And the beauty of the morels will add
much visual joy on top of the pie as well!

After baking the bottom crust and assembling the

pie, put it in a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes,
or until the filling is bubbly and the top crust (if
using) is golden and cooked through. You may need
to cover the top with foil at some point to keep the
top from overcooking before its ready.
Enjoy! Its extra lovely with a little sour cream
dolloped on top, or with a slice of really good cheese
served along side, along with some extra gravy, a
fried egg, some pickled onions or wild greens and/or
whatever other accompaniments you wish. But if you
plan to devour the pie in one sitting with your family
or friends, you may not need a single extra thing!
To make a vegetarian version of this pie, simply
increase the amounts of all the vegetables to make up
for the 3 cups of meat. Some butter-sauted

portobello mushrooms added to the filling would

create a more meaty texture, if you like.

Zombie Apocalypse Herbal

A Basic Plant-Medicine Primer for Post-Disaster or Remote Environs
by Sam Coffman
Herbal Medicine is a healthful choice for most of us, even those living in close proximity to hospitals and
MDs... but it becomes absolutely vital in remote situations, or in the event of natural or human caused
disasters. Sam specializes in dealing with such situations, reflected in his articles for Plant Healer Magazine,
and in the courses that this knowledgable and controversial ex-Special Forces herbalist teaches at his
Human Path survival and herbalism school, offering to you here a summary of criteria, skills and treatments.
Zombies are exempted.

Plant medicine may

be all that we have to
turn to in a postdisaster situation and
the resulting loss of all
In a world
emergency rooms or
even doctors, in a
wilderness situation
or the touted Zombie
Apocalypse how
would you take care
of yourself or a loved
one who had a
chronic illness like
Or deal
with an injury that
started to become
renewed interest in
however, and that
reason is that plant
medicine works.
works as well as it

always has worked for

thousands of year. In
many cases herbal
medicine works better
than allopathic or
medicine. I started my
journey into medicine
as a U.S. Special
Forces Medic (a.k.a.
Green Beret Medic)
and have been using
plant medicine for
over 20 years for
myself, clients and
health issues that
people normally go to
an emergency room or
go to a clinic for. I
have also had several
doctors approach me
wanting to work more
with herbs because
they are tired of
pharmaceuticaldriven health care
system that is broken
in many ways.

I highly recommend that if you are serious about

herbal medicine as a post-disaster medical option,
you need to start using it now. To not do so is the
equivalent of packing a bug-out bag or a first-aid kit
and storing it away, to never even look at it again
until an emergency happens and you actually need it.
At that point you can no longer remember whats in
your bag or kit, or how to use it, and half the items
are likely too old to use. Herbal Medicine is a skill,
not an object. To learn a skill you must both study
and work with that skill constantly. Studying,
learning and using herbal medicine for your own
personal health needs is the fastest way to become
slowly acquainted with medicinal plants and how
they work.
Lets talk specifically about different types of herbal
medicine in a post-disaster, remote or even postapocalyptic environment. To organize the discussion,
lets start with acute medical emergencies and then
move into health conditions that are usually
considered chronic. Please note that this article is in
no way meant to be a substitution for care from a
licensed doctor or health care professional.
Acute Trauma:
There are several things to consider when dealing
with acute trauma using herbal medicine. For
instance: What type of injury is it? Is the skin broken
or not? If there is bleeding, has it been stopped? Is
there infection or possibility of infection due to the
nature of how the injury occurred? What does the
injury look like? Is there tendon, nerve, bone or
vascular damage? How old is the wound?
This article is an overview, so as an overview, here is
a table of some very useful herbs and their uses
throughout the healing of acute, traumatic injury.
For the purposes of this article, I will only use
common names rather than scientific names of the
plants, however if you are interested in plant
medicine, you will want to also start learning
scientific names (its a lot easier than you might
think) in order to always be certain of what plant you
are learning about. Common names can be very
ambiguous sometimes:

Acute Trauma
Effective Herbs
Coagulation Shepherds Purse leaves and flowers,
Herbs to help
Oak bark, Wild Geranium root, Bilberry,
stop the
Yarrow leaf and flower, Raspberry/
Blackberry leaf, Chaparral leaf
Inflammation - Willow, Meadowsweet, Chaparral, Aloe,
Herbs to help
Lobelia, Self-heal, Comfrey, Devils Claw,
the tissue
Birch, Alder, Aspen, Poplar, Plantain
recover from
swelling and
Proliferative Chaparral, Comfrey, Horsetail
Herbs to help
(connective tissue and bone), Plantain,
the tissue
Calendula, Aloe Vera
regrow. If this is
an open wound,
take care that
you are not
helping the
tissue regrow on
top of infection,
or you will end
up with a very
infection under
the skin.
Remodeling Comfrey, Vitamin E, Horsetail,
Herbs to help
Calendula, Aloe Vera
get rid of scar
tissue after the
wound has
Anti-pathogenic Chaparral, Acacia, Raw Honey, Aloe
- Herbs to help Vera, Echinacea, Baptisia, Goldenseal,
fight wound
Lymph and
Poke root, Blue Flag, Echinacea, Red
Immunity Root, Boneset, Cleavers
Herbs to help
stimulate the
immune system
during an

Acute Illness:
Moving from acute trauma into acute illness, we
know that when people get sick all of a sudden, there
is often some type of infectious agent involved.
Illness is caused by more than just pathogens, but a
combination of a weakened immune system (from
things like exhaustion, poor sanitation, poor
nutrition, chemical toxins, stress and sleep
deprivation) combined with an exposure to some
type of pathogen, is quite often what causes an acute
illness to take place.
Even when were using herbs, it can be very
important to identify the pathogen. For example: Is it
a viral infection? Or a bacterial one?
In general, we classify pathogens as follows:
Virus (Cold, flu, hepatitis, etc.)
Bacteria (E. coli, staphylococcus, streptococcus,
Protozoan (cryptosporidium, giardiasis, etc.)
Parasitic worms or helminths(tape worm, flat
worm, etc.)
As a general rule, here is a table of some herbs that
are effective for certain types of pathogens.

Effective Herbs
Boneset: muscle aches and pains, sweating
out the virus, immune & lymph stimulant
Butterbur: Cold and Flu bugs, runny nose,
sinus congestion
Echinacea: Immune and lymph stimulant
and support
Elder Flower: Cold and Flu, sweating out
the virus
Chaparral: Herpes family viruses (HSV 1 &
2, Chickenpox, Shingles, etc.)
Yarrow Cold and Flu, muscle aches,
sweating out the virus
Elecampane: Staph, Strep, TB
Oak: Staph, Strep (Esp. External)
Sida: Broad spectrum antibacterial
Goldenseal or Algerita: E.Coli, Typhus,
Salmonella, Cholera,
Usnea (Old Mans Beard): Staph, Strep,
Boneset: Similar immune and lymph
stimulant to Echinacea
Echinacea: Immune and Lymph stimulant
Green chirayta: Spirochete forms
Spilanthes: Immune and Lymph stimulant,
mild broad spectrum anti-bacterial
Myrrh: Broad spectrum anti-bacterial
Protozoans Goldenseal, Algerita, Oregon Grape, Green
chirayta, Sida, Black Walnut, Valerian
Helminthes Wormwood, Black Walnut, Areca palm,
Ginger, Elecampane, Garlic


Common Medicinal Plant Uses

for Organ Systems
There is another useful way to think about medicinal
plants and their use for our health. This is shown in
their use for a specific organ system or part of the
body. This often makes the herbs for that area very
useful on different levels for whatever disease
processes we find in that region of the body. This is
not always a matter of anti-pathogenic herbs. There
are other ways of helping the body heal through
tissue and nutritive support. For instance if you have
strep throat, while you would want to take certain
anti-microbial herbs, your body would also obtain
great assistance from herbs that support the mucosal
and sub-mucosal layers of the throat that are being
attacked. There are certain herbs that have more of
an affinity for this type of tissue than other herbs do.
Here is a chart showing several medicinal plants that
are very useful for different organ systems and areas
of the body, as well as the disease processes that we
commonly find in those respective areas:
Organ System/ Disease
Effective Herbs
Lower Respiratory System Pleurisy root, Antelope
(bronchitis, pleuritis, COPD, Horns, Elecampane,
coughs, irritation)
Horehound, Mullein,
Juniper, Garlic
Urinary Tract (Urinary Tract Uva Ursi, Pipsissewa,
Infections and discomfort)
Juniper, Horsetail, Cornsilk,
Joe Pye Weed
Liver (Protein and fat
Milk Thistle, Burdock,
digestive issues, viral
Dandelion root, Oregon
infections, food poisoning) Grape root
Throat and Upper
Sage, Beebalm, Spilanthes,
Respiratory (Sinus infections Prickly Ash, Echinacea,
viral and bacterial, throat Elecampane, Marshmallow
GI Tract (Infections)
Goldenseal root, Algerita
root, Coptis, Sida
Stomach (Ulcers, GERD,
Oregon Grape,
Dyspepsia, Nausea)
Marshmallow root, Licorice
root, Ginger root, Algerita

Oregon Grape
Chronic Illnesses:
Chronic illness is a huge concern to a lot of people
focused on disaster preparedness who may have a
chronic condition that requires pharmaceutical
People with diabetes, epilepsy,
hypertension, heart conditions and multitudes of
other chronic illnesses that people in the USA take
medications for every day.
While there is obviously no way to address full
herbal and natural treatment of a chronic condition
within the limitations of an article this size, or even
any article (as opposed to in-person consultation), I
can at least point you in the right direction in regards
to some of the most chronic and problematic illnesses
in a post-disaster situation. In the chart below, there
are a list of general chronic conditions and the herbs
that may be effective in helping your body deal with
those conditions. Please bear in mind that there is a
lot more to treatment of a chronic disease than just
taking one or more of the herbs in the table. This list
is a general list, and the manner in which herbs are
taken, as well as the use of other herbs, exercise and
nutrition not stated in the list, will likely apply to any
chronic condition. Again, herbalism is not western
pharmaceutical medicine. We dont just eat a plant in

the same way that pharmaceutical medicine has

conditioned us to pop a pill and forget about any
and all other aspects of our health. Especially in the
realm of chronic conditions, there often has to be a
complete lifestyle change and a change in your own
level of awareness and responsibility toward your
own body and understanding what it needs to slowly
balance itself into better health.
All chronic
conditions have underlying causes that are often not
addressed by pharmaceutical medicine, and have to
be addressed when using herbal or natural medicine.
This also includes many energetic concepts that need
to be taken into account, dosage concerns over a long
period of time, etc. However, this list is at least a
very basic starting point.
Type 2

Effective Herbs

Gymnema, Esperanza, Prickly Pear Cactus

or any plant high in inulin such as
Burdock root, etc.
European Mistletoe, Passionflower, White
Peony, Black Cohosh
For anxiety-related hypertension,
High Blood
nerviness like Skullcap, Passionflower and
Wood Betony can be helpful. Otherwise
Bugleweed (also for hyperthyroidism, so
use caution if there is hypothyroidism
present), European Mistletoe, Hawthorne
Berry, Motherwort
Heart Disease Garlic, Hawthorne Berry, Gingko,
Motherwort, Angelica, White Horehound,
Cayenne, Astragalus
Again, asthma and COPD can stem from
Asthma &
so many possible causes that it is not
possible to begin to address here in any
kind of depth. However as a general
direction to look for herbs that help with
broncho dilation and respiratory issues:
White Horehound, Grindelia, Pleurisy
root, Lobelia, Mullein leaf
Depression & Gotu Kola, St. Johns Wort (use with
caution in cases of severe depression),
Bacopa, Ashwaghanda, Skullcap, Siberian
Devils Claw, Meadowsweet, Nettles,

Some Quick Answers to Common
Questions About Herbs:
How do you prepare & take herbs?
Herbs have a few advantages over conventional
medicine. One of them is that the route of ingestion
or absorption by your body can have a lot of different
variations. This means that we can put the herb into
or onto a region of the body where it is much more
effective. Taking an herb only orally means that the
herb has to pass through the bodys digestive system
before being absorbed into the bloodstream. During
this process, it is filtered (to a large extent) through
the liver before finally ending up in the bloodstream
and having its effect in that manner. There are many
herbs, however, that will not work effectively
through the bloodstream in this manner.
Knowing how to make and use all of the various
preparation methods of herbs is as important as
knowing the herb itself.
Usually, direct application of the herb (or solution
containing as much of the herb as possible) to the
part of the body that needs it, means a much more
effective pathway to help the body heal.

How do herbs heal the body?

As mentioned earlier in the article, one of the
common misunderstandings about herbs is that an
herb is like pharmaceutical. For instance, you just
take the plant orally like a pill and it directly kills all
bacteria (good and bad). However, this is not an
effective way to use herbs at all. Although many
herbs have very anti-pathogenic properties and do
work in this way against pathogens, the real goal
when using herbs is to let the plant medicine help the
bodys own natural immunity move back into
balance so that it can heal itself.
Can herbs be dangerous?
Just like any potent medicine, medicinal herbs range
in effectiveness and toxicity between power
poison (example: foxglove). In the list of herbs that
are in this article, the following herbs should, to
varying degrees, be taken internally only with care

especially for children or during pregnancy:

Chaparral, Poke, Blue Flag, Comfrey, Horsetail, and
Hopefully this article has given you a short
introduction to the usefulness of botanical medicine
not just as a preventative, or for minor illness and
injury, but as a skill that could save your life in a time
of great need. A few possible examples of this would
be when there simply is no other type of medical care
available, or a time when antibiotics are no longer
effective against resistant bacteria because of the way
in which antibiotics have been overused for
agriculture and medicine. It is important to
understand that this kind of information could easily
take lifetimes of learning. This short article should by
no means be your only reference to acute (or chronic)
botanical therapy. If you like this, get involved in
learning more through books, courses, etc.

Plant Healer Interview

Susun Weed
In Conversation with Jesse Wolf Hardin
Susun Weed has been one of the best known teachers of herbalism in the U.S. for decades now, founding the Wise Woman
tradition that has since been spread wide and far by her graduate apprentices. Unlike her professional counterparts,
Susun was a high school dropout. She launched her study of herbs while living in Manhattan in 1965, later becoming a
self-described Green Witch. She is the author of 5 books, including Healing Wise. People tend to have very strong
feelings when it comes to Susun, with it making her a more intriguing figure that she has a reputation as such an intense
teacher, eliciting such intense response. One thing is for certain, we can count on her setting an example for us of a
plant-loving woman knowing and speaking her mind!
Excerpted from the Plant Healer book of interviews, 21st Century Herbalists, available through the Bookstore
page at:

Jesse Wolf Hardin: Hello Susun, welcome. Tell us,

where is it that you think modern medicine fails us
Susun Weed: Primary
care, and this is why
I've devoted my career
to promoting herbal
medicine as people's
medicine... and why I
have thrown myself
bodily across the tracks
to prevent any kind of
licensure of any kind
ever in the United
Wolf: Some people
make an argument that
c e r t i fi c a t i o n
professional credibility
are what can make it less likely there will be complete
prohibition of self-healing and self-treatment.
Susun: B.S.! I often thank the midwives. I say thank
you so much for making a mess of midwifery so I can
point to you and say to the apprentices you see what
happens? That was a line that the midwives were fed

was, if you don't get yourselves all certified and

licensed, then we're going to come in and do it. So the
midwives got together and, state by state, did
c e r t i fi c a t i o n
licensure programs and
government used that
as an excuse to shut
t h e m
d o w n
Wolf: The alternative?
Susun: We have to be
willing to take care of
ourselves. Unfortunately,
a great number of
people think it's too
complicated to take care
of themselves, and
that's one of the reasons
why I have always kept my teachings geared toward
beginners, geared towards people who are entering
herbal medicine. I am, of course, pure friends with a
great number of healthcare professionals, but I don't
find my calling there. I find my calling in reminding
people that this is simple, safe herbal medicine which is
available to all of us.

A young and sassy Susun Weed, at the beginning of a

lifetime of teaching about her medicinal plant friends
and discomforting the status quo.

Wolf: That was pretty radical, it seems to me. I was

teaching the same thing in the ecospiritual fields and
know it was rather novel and sometimes hard for
people to hear. You were one of the first to really talk
about healing in a way that addressed ones entire life
and how they lived it, living ones dreams, being true to
ones self, being self-empowered and not waiting for
authority from without.
That's not only heretical in the context of the standard
medical system and paradigm, but was also seen as a
rather revolutionary new approach among herbalists
when first introduced.
Susun: Yes. I know that, when I started studying
herbal medicine in the mid '60s, the things that I could
get hold of were primarily historical. That included the
recent things. In other words, I could find things that
had been written before which were historical but also
most of the things that were being written were looking
back. It was a major jolt to me to get my hands on
Juliette de Bairacli's books. By the time we got into the
mid '70s, of course, Euell Gibbons was writing from
first person.
He didn't, of course, define himself as an herbalist. He
defined himself as a wild food oddball. When I got
Common Herbs for Natural Health and I opened this
book and discovered a woman who is actively using
the plants I almost cried. I felt as though I had come
home to my mother. I felt as though the wanting to be
part of a tradition could now be real.
Wolf: I love the word remembering, meaning not just
to recall but to reunite ones member parts. In this way,
healing is the reunification of isolated, damaged or
neglected components and aspects, the reclamation of a
balanced whole.
Susun: Unfortunately, I find that there's an awful lot of
people who talk about wholeness, but they're really not
so interested in wholeness at all. They're interested in
being positive, they're interested in being good, they're
interested in what's delightful. But they're not really
interested in reclaiming whole self.

Wolf: Including the bodily. We are by nature farting,

belching, growing, needing, wrinkling beings, sentient
and responsive creatures, critical and discerning, wildly
intense. This natural being exists in stark contrast to the
sterile New Age image of evolved human kind, as well
as the facile positivism that's now pervading New Age
takes on health and spirituality.

Susun: Most of us, in fact, are run by the so called

negative parts of ourselves which we have thrown in
the dungeon and hoped they would starve to death.
What we don't realize is that he controls are down there
in the dungeon.
Wolf: The problem I have with popular definitions of
enlightenment whether in
Eastern religious or New Age
terms is the idea of escape
form our bodies and from the
earth itself, the fear of being
soiled or debased, of being
transported to a higher etheric
realm and no longer a part of
the endless cycling of life and
Susun: I hear you on that!
The more radical
teaching is to go down and
deeper into the body, into the
light and the dark, the
existence. That's so much more
real, the place of integral reconnection where any real
healing or power has to come from.
I recognize a contradiction in healers or herbalists
addressing individual problems or symptoms apart
from needs and moods, lifestyle and habit, whether or
not we're living our dreams, all the things that
contribute to overall well being.
Of course, the law might say that if you're a masseuse
you can't be also be providing counsel, but apart from
the law and regardless of the law, it seems truly
necessary that healers be addressing the entire being to
the degree that they're able, inspiring in their clients
and their friends and family an embrace or engagement
with and conversation with all parts of their bodies and
beings, environment and lives.

Susun: Yes. And I'm talking about holistic health, not

about wholistic. Whole means whole and certainly I
am in favor of wholeness, but hol comes from
hologram and a hologram is unique, in that it can
never be severed. If you take a hologram and you cut it
in half you have two complete images a little fuzzier
than the one you had at the beginning. You can keep
cutting each one of those in half
again and again and again and
you will never have anything
other than the entire hologram,
definition with each cut. So I see
the work as helping people to
reclaiming those parts of
themselves they've tried to cut
That's what holistic health is.
Now, I can only do this to the
extent that I have done it. In
other words, if I am unaware of
my own fear or my own
darkness, then I will not be
available to be a safe, supportive, nurturing space for
that in any other human being. `
So it is exactly as you're saying. As healers, the more
that we can bring our holograms back into sharp focus
by bringing all of the aspects of ourselves, what I call
back to the dinner table. Go downstairs. Unlock the
dungeon doors. Take them all out. Give them a bath.
Throw flower petals in the bath. Gussy them up. Put
them in beautiful clothes. Bring them to the table and
serve them good food. Then say to them, I love you
and you're not in control anymore. Sit over here on the
Wolf: You choose to work almost entirely with women.
Susun: I do. I feel more comfortable working with
women and I understand women better. And I still
believe that the healthcare system is leveraged against
women. I focus on women because I really feel that
women are underserved in the medical community.

Wolf: Kiva and I have trouble with the idea that a plant
exists here for us, that it's waiting for us to harvest it in
order to find its purpose, that it has no intrinsic value or
no adventure or story of its own apart from our
discovery and use of it.
Susun: Yes, of course, that is a primary problem I have
with what many people call the doctrine of signatures,
which supposedly says that we can tell how to use a
plant because the plants have marks on them to tell us
how they are to be used.
Evolution is a fact, and plants were here a long time
before human beings, even a long time before
mammals. So it strains my credulity to think that plants
that existed so long before us would have marks on
them to tell humans how to use them.
I am not saying that this idea is wrong, however. I'm
saying that it is only egocentric or humancentric to
believe that those marks are there for us. I take a
systems approach, and this is an engineering term. But
we're talking to a sophisticated audience, so they
should be able to deal with it.
Suppose I said to you, Jesse, what kind of
form could we make for gas exchange? I
have one kind of gas over here and another
kind of gas over here, and I want to
exchange those gases and keep them
separate. What kind of form can I use?
You would say to me A permeable
membrane would work. And I would say,
Good, if I want to breathe, I need a
permeable membrane. However, the
permeable membrane that I would need to
maintain the physical functioning of a 150
pound body would be bigger than a
football field. So now we have a space
problem. How are we going to take this
football field and somehow get it into a
human body? The first thing that occurs
to many people, is to fold it up, pleat it,
make it into accordion pleats. Then we
have the same surface area but in a far
smaller volume. That would certainly help,
but we still haven't made it small enough.

If you really push people, especially people who've

been around anatomy or plants a little bit, they will
eventually get the idea of ciliating that surface. So we
have tiny little cilia or little fingers on that surface, so
we get a really enormous surface area in a very compact
space. Wow, does that describe the lungs? Does it also
describe mullein?
So mullein does not have a mark on it that says, I look
like your lungs, mullein is the result of the same
systems approach that caused lungs to be made. Or go
look in your car. There's an air filter in your car. It is
pleated, folded, and ciliated. Go look at your air
conditioner or your heating unit. You will find a air
filter. It is pleated, folded, and ciliated. Anytime we
need to do gas exchange, we're going to basically come
up with the same solution.
Wolf: And sometimes a multiplicity of solutions,
drawn not from a separative and often illusory mind,
but from nature... and through our most natural,
embodied selves.
Thank you, Susun. Its been real.

Herbalizing Our Communities

Dispatches From Alaska, on Plant Healers Anniversary

by Zo Herriges
Plant Healer is Five! Huzzah!
I live in what passes for a suburban neighborhood on
a windy road in the Mat-Su Valley of Alaska. All the
houses are on a country acre. Most were built in the
last 10 years. We have covenants, restrictions, and all
the gewgaws of any other urban housing
development, though as far as I know I am the only
one in this subdivision to adhere to what I consider
its most important covenant: Owners are restricted
from cutting down more than 30% of the trees on any
individual lot unless those trees are dead, dying, or
present a material hazard to anothers property.
I live in a stunning boreal forest.
The entire
neighborhood is in a stunning boreal forest, with tall
Paper Birch and virtually every medicine plant that
grows in Alaska thriving in it. Despite the covenants
and the new houses, my little neighborhoods natural
environment is quite unlike most found in the lower
48. I am thankful to be living here. Clean air. Ground
water from individual wells so pure you cant get
enough of it. Quiet nights filled with sun and loon
calls in the summer and stars like diamonds in black
velvet in winter. Aurora Borealis viewed from
beneath instead of from afar. I get the rarity, the
beauty, the profound meaning of this place. Moose
raise their calves wandering through my garden. I
watch them grow and give them names. Ravens light
atop the big spruce in my yard and have
conversations with me over my morning brew.
Nevertheless, I am somewhat alone in this place.
There is no collective empathy here for the natural
space were occupying.
When we moved here, our yard was gravel and
forest. My neighbors had already cut down all the
sturdy Black Spruce in their yards and thinned out

the limber, white waves of healthy birch to reflect

their individual House and Garden ideas of a
beautiful yard. They destroyed forest floor and
planted grass. My husband saw this and started
talking about how we could leave all the trees and
plant grass around them. How cool that would look.
That was a day when I gave him a very cool look.
I did not I said contractions being out of the
question, I was so miffed move to a wilderness
forest to destroy it! He is a very good man,
probably didnt deserve it.
We built a couple of pathways so we could wander
through the beauty. Areas, disturbed by the building
of the house, were planted in flowers and partially
left bare for the sake of my wild dandelion and
goosefoot crops; we transplanted a few wild rose
bushes to a sunnier spot by the front porch. The rest
was left as we found it.
About now, you may be wondering what this has to
do with Plant Healer Magazine.
Imagine how out of place a folk-herbalist with an
empathy for nature and a wild front yard, would
feel surrounded by people whose ideas of usefulness
and beauty differ markedly from her own. The
majority of her neighbors still see the world as a
place over which they rightfully have dominion.
Then imagine she found Plant Healer! (This is where
the Angelic choir hits that high note everyone is so
fond of) I found it through a friend at the Grey
School, where I am a student in winter when the
garden no longer calls. I found it, and I use it!

The physical PH annuals, usually laying somewhere

close at hand with papers shoved in the spot where I
was last reading, are also used to bridge the gap
between my neighbors and myself. We sit on my
front porch and I talk about whatever I was reading.
We walk my few paths and I point out the myriad of
beautiful, useful spirits growing in my yard. I get
comments, wistful ones sometimes, about how
beautiful and private the space is. How clever I was
not to have to mow lawns all summer or go miles to
hunt high-bush cranberries or rosehips! Then I tell
them Im a Green Wizard. HA!

herbalize my small community. It has helped me

to be a more creative and better-informed herbalist
and a better village Wizard. And: it makes me even
more proud of what I do.

Since my subscription started, Plant Healer has been

my companion and personal diplomat on many
lovely, quiet days. It has also been a mentor
sourcebook, which connects me more firmly to a
wider world of herbalism and my mission to

All the best to you, Kiva Rose and Jesse Wolf. Tis no
mean task youve taken on, and Im so very glad you
did. Many more yearsmany, many more!

Plant Healer books are on the reading shelf in my

shop, Wise Sisters Wizardry a shop I got the
courage to build in my own backyard (not a tree will
be taken down!) because of the wonderful folks who
create and contribute to Plant Healer. So I sure hope
inspiring others is what you were going for five years

Thanks! Zo