If you watch a cat who’s eaten some catnip (Nepeta cataria), you’ll observe that there’s an initial rolling-rubbing-wriggling response, usually followed by a bout of “the zoomies”, and then a contented curl-purr. The Cats’ Herb There have been many theories over the years about exactly what catnip does to cats and why they like it…Read More
Lion-Hearted Mother Imagine a mother whose child is having a terrible anaphylactic allergy attack, and is being rushed to the hospital. The mother stays close by and tries to keep a brave face: keeping eye contact, holding the child’s hand, speaking soothing reassurances, projecting safety while the medics hover and flit. That’s motherwort mind. Motherwort…Read More
Want to make herbal pink lemonade? Staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina / R. hirta) is the herb for you! Sour Is Sweet In Summer’s Heat Staghorn sumac is in the Anacardiaceae, the family of plants which includes cashews and poison ivy. It’s a common roadside and greenspace volunteer. Once you learn to see its distinctive horn-shaped…Read More
Continuing with our seaweed explorations from last week, this time we turn to the red seaweeds. Introducing the Reds First, who are we talking about? The red seaweeds we work with most often are dulse (Palmaria palmata), nori (Porphyra umbilicalis), and irish moss (Chondrus crispus). There are lots of others – about 7000 defined species…Read More
Not all herbs live on the land! This week we’re featuring kelp, bladderwrack, and all the brown seaweeds. Minerals in Kelp Seaweeds are superfoods, if anything is. All seaweeds used as food or medicine are extremely mineral-rich, often carrying a complement of minerals and trace elements not found easily in land plants. Seaweeds are renowned…Read More
Pain in your toe? It could be gout. This relatively common issue presents as recurrent attacks of acute inflammatory joint pain. The big toe is the most common site of pain – up to half of all gout cases only show up there. What is Gout? Gout is caused by the buildup of uric acid…Read More
Fiona Apple says, i’ve got my feet on the ground and i don’t go to sleep to dream. But, sometimes, you do. The Uses of Dreaming Those who cannot attain or are denied normal REM sleep suffer deeply, as they lose out on the mood-regulatory functions of dreaming. Dreams are an opportunity for the subconscious…Read More
Who’s Afraid of Phytochemistry? part 1 of ? Don’t let the diagrams scare you! Don’t let the long names drive you away. Phytochemistry can be intimidating at a first look, but it does have some useful insights to offer even the most folksy of healers. The best parts of it are those that bear…Read More
A good herbal joint liniment can make the difference between a slow, drawn-out, and incomplete healing process and one that proceeds quickly to complete recovery. A liniment, as I use the term, means a combination of an herbal infused oil with some herbal tinctures, and usually some essential oils as well. The combination works better…Read More
Even the most assiduous label-readers among us sometimes miss “barley malt” buried in an ingredients list, or trust the word of a well-meaning friend who’s sure there’s no wheat in the soup . . . only to find out later that there was spelt, or rye, or whatever. Maybe all you saw was “gluten-free” on…Read More
The most common way an herbalist can find herself in a court of law is by appearing, intentionally or unknowingly, to be practicing medicine without a license; the evidence against the herbalist in cases of this nature tends to hinge on the use of certain restricted terms. (Roger Wicke has written an extensive and expertly-argued…Read More
[For the purposes of this discussion, let’s use fire cider to refer to the traditional herbal medicine preparation, “fire cider” to refer to the term, and Fire Cider® to refer to the company who have trademarked the term.] Fire cider is a traditional preparation of various spicy and pungent herbs macerated in vinegar and honey.photo…Read More
Often, discussions of “women’s health” or “men’s health” are limited to the reproductive systems. When I teach about men’s reproductive health, I like to include an overview of common problems for men, because sexual function is dependent on the vitality of the rest of the body. But even before I get to that, I start…Read More
Eliminating food allergens from the diet can bring substantial relief from inflammatory gastrointestinal disorders such as IBS, Crohn’s disease, and celiac. These ill-tolerated foods – the gluten in wheat and other grains, the casein and lactose in dairy, and others – can initiate destructive processes that irritate the stomach lining, compromise the intestinal wall, and…Read More
In short: first perceive, then reflect, then connect. In slightly-less-short: first, practice perceptive skills of intuition, interoception, and mindfulness; then, keep a record that accurately reflects your food, feelings, exercise, and experiences; then, identify health patterns at your baseline and after making changes, to see whether and where those changes are having effect.Read More
Humans are very good at pattern recognition. We’re so good at it, in fact, that we “trick ourselves” into seeing familiar patterns in clouds or in Rorschach blots. But we can’t recognize a pattern anywhere if we don’t look for one. Keeping the record isn’t going to do you any good if you don’t go…Read More
Reflection is a bending back. It requires some flexibility. Reflecting is intimately bound up with recording. If a recording does not reflect well its original, we say it has low fidelity. We prefer the highest degree of fidelity possible, as this gives us the greatest amount of useful information. Reflection is similarly bound to recollection.…Read More
When engaging in self-experimentation, there are certain skills that must be put into play in order to get useful results. First are the sensory skills that form the borders of our interactions with the external world, and can give us insights into our own internal world as well.Read More
Diet and lifestyle changes are ideally made with the guidance of an experienced and trusted practitioner, but sometimes that’s impractical or impossible. Sometimes, you don’t have a practitioner like that near you, or you haven’t found one who suits you yet. Sometimes, you hear so many good things about a particular diet, exercise plan, or…Read More
Katja’s recent article on the [mis]conception of “cure” in our culture reminded me of a related thought, one that comes to mind whenever I see another “Cancer Cure Found!?” headline. And since everything’s more concise in couplets: when fleshly red turns tumor-black, of this you may be sure: though whitecoat’s works may push it back,…Read More
We all have stress. I have very few friends who aren’t working two jobs, or working while raising kids, or scraping by month to month, or even [not-so-]simply trying to figure out where their lives are taking them. And that’s all before we get to the nightly news’ quotidian catastrophe, or the pundits’ panic, or…Read More
Almost every herbalist I know has a “root beer” tea variation. Here’s mine (numbers are “parts”): 2 sarsaparilla 2 sassafras 2 ashwagandha 2 eleuthero 2 ginger 1 licorice 1/2 kava This is a great-tasting, grounding blend that really roots you in your body and gets you ready to use it.Read More
We practice and teach Traditional Western Herbalism in the vitalist tradition. We believe that the strongest factor in healing is the body’s own spirit or vital force, and that if the spirit is well cared for and nourished, all illness and injury can be overcome from within. This means much of our work is focused…Read More
An answer to the question: What is Traditional Western Herbalism? It is sometimes suggested, and often presumed, that the present practice of herbalism in the West is a matter of matching single herbs to individual ailments, in contrast to the better-known systematized forms of traditional medicine—TCM, Unani, Ayurveda, and so on—which emphasize constitutional assessments, individualized…Read More
Our Book is Now Available on Amazon.com
Our first book is here!
This is the perfect introduction to a powerful yet manageable apothecary of 35 herbs and teach you how to apply them to common ailments.
We keep it simple and practical, and along the way teach you how to think effectively about herbs & herbalism, laying the foundations for deeper study.
The book is available through Amazon.com
Join our newsletter for more herby goodness
Get CommonWealth newsletter delivered right to your inbox. You'll be first to hear about free mini-courses, podcast episodes, and other goodies about holistic herbalism.