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Classroom Experiment: Kadha (Fried Dumplings)

Today my Pharmacy students and I tried out a Thanksgiving experiment. Last week two students referenced a traditional Iraqi/Iranian treat, which is made with dates and almonds. We all agreed that replicating this recipe in paleo fashion would be just the thing for the week of Thanksgiving – and we were right!

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Chai for a Busy Day

Chai is delicious. But it’s even better when your Chai will get you through your most stressed-out overwhelmed craziness day, and this recipe will do just that!

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Tips for Staying Sane in a Stressful Time

The holiday season is fast-approaching (if you’re a parent of a trick-or-treater, it’s just nearly here!), and that means stress levels on the rise. But there are some fairly simple practices that you can start now so that when the holidays get here, you don’t lose your head! (Not to mention, they’ll help you the…

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Movement Patterns and Heartburn

This is my very first article here on Commonwealth Herbs! To mark the occasion, I’ve decided to set a goal for myself. I love anatomy. I love anatomical relationships. If you get me going, I can talk forever. My goal here is to keep it fairly simple (as simple as talking about a piece of…

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Family Reunion Cookies

OMG, you have to make these cookies. I’m really not kidding! We just got back from a week-long family reunion with Ryn’s family, which was absolutely fantastic! As part of the fun, we all headed out to Wells Beach, Maine, where they always went as kids for vacations. Part of the tradition was whoopie pies,…

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Raising Healthy Children, Part 6

When I was a kid, my mom sent us out to play. We went out for hours, and didn’t come back till someone was hungry. We played in the trees in the yard, or in the “trails” across the street – some wild undeveloped land along the banks of Bear Creek, that boys had ridden…

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Raising Healthy Children, Part 5

Herbal remedies are often much better choices for illness than over-the-counter or prescription pharmaceuticals. It’s true that antibiotics are miracle drugs, but miracles wear out when we use them every day: bacteria become stronger and the antibiotics don’t work as well over time. Not only that, but our bodies get lazy if we always let…

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Raising Healthy Children, Part 4

Sleep is absolutely critical to good health. While we sleep, we repair damaged tissue (including things we can’t see!), we grow, we replenish hormone supplies and the immune system – we even burn fat (as long as you skip the bedtime snack)! Most of us adults get by on 7 hours of sleep or less…

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Raising Healthy Children, Part 3

Our last post was on cultivating your child’s inner foodie: here is one of the BEST ways I know to get them to eat their greens: Make a Wild Salad! You get to go outdoors, eat good food, identify plants, “cook” together, experience new flavors – all in one salad bowl!

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Raising Healthy Children, Part 2

Food is the absolute number one most important factor in a person’s health. In my own professional opinion, that is! I have seen clients recover from all manner of illness, and in some cases, the *only* thing they changed was diet! Although many doctors and certainly mainstream culture will tell you that food doesn’t really…

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Raising Healthy Children, Part 1

When we become parents, we suddenly realize, kids don’t come with instruction manuals! But let’s think about that in reverse: when you’re a kid, life DOES come with instructions. Those instructions come from your parents, primarily, and other family, teachers, and later peers. A few hundred years ago, even here in America, those instructions absolutely…

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Linden and Tulsi: Two Great Herbs that Go Great Together!

Looking for a fail-proof cup of tea? Look no further! Linden and Tulsi can turn that frown upside down.

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Offal: It’s Not Awful!

Maybe the thought of eating liver, kidney, and heart makes you say “gag me with a spoon!” – but it doesn’t have to be like that. Organ meats are probably the superfoodiest food there is, favored over muscle meat by many cultures around the globe, but they’re not exactly tasty to most modern Americans. Some…

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Interview with a Paleo Kid

My 9-year-old daughter Amber is gluten-free, casein-free, soy-free, and most of the time, paleo. She is autoimmune to gluten and casein, the rest we avoid for overall health. A lot of folks think that this kind of thing must be hard for a kid, or that kids won’t go along with it. Let’s ask Amber…

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maitake mushroom growing on an oak stump

Bone Broth Demystified

Mineral deficiency is rampant in our society – depleted soils mean that our fruits and vegetables don’t have the same mineral content that they once had. But additionally, we no longer favor mineral-rich foods in our diets: organ meats, seaweed, and bone broths are not exactly staples in most families’ menus! They should be! This…

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Cod with Greens and Kumquats

Fish is a challenge for me. Where I grew up in Texas, fish choices were pretty much Long John Silvers or, for extra fancy, Red Lobster. As long as fish has crunchy batter breading on it and is served with hushpuppies, I’m fine — but since I don’t eat that stuff anymore, I’ve had to…

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Successful Self-Experimentation, part 5: Putting it in Practice

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.

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Successful Self-Experimentation, part 4: Connection

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…

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Licorice Oil for Eczema

When my daughter was born, she had very severe eczema. Eczema is almost always related to food allergies, and hers were gluten and dairy. Giving up food allergens is important, but skin issues, especially long standing ones, take a while to resolve. Here’s a simple topical that will cut your waiting time: Licorice oil!

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Successful Self-Experimentation, part 3: Reflection

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.…

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Successful Self-Experimentation, part 2: Perception

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.

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Successful Self-Experimentation, part 1: Introduction

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…

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Solomon’s Seal: Beyond Sprained Ankles

Solomon’s Seal is a favorite herb around here. We love it for any kind of sporty injury: sprained ankles, pulled muscles, you name it. The reason we like it so much is that Solomon’s Seal helps connective tissues heal. When you pull a muscle, maybe you think in terms of muscle pain, but it’s not…

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Holiday Trimmings – Allergen Free!

Your family has great traditions for the holidays, and you don’t have to miss out! Here are some popular family recipes the way we make them in our house – allergy free!

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Egg Nog

Think living dairy-free means you have to give up Egg Nog? Think again! We whipped up a batch of this great Nog at a recent party – everyone loved it!

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Appetizers

Party food always seems to involve chips, crackers, cookies, and other things made from flours – but you aren’t eating processed junk anymore, so what to do? Here’s a great list of party foods your guests will love! No one will miss the crackers and chips – and you won’t have any crumbs to clean…

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Caveman Desserts for the Holidays

You’re not willing to compromise your newfound food priorities (allergy free, low carb, primal!), but you also don’t want to be a “downer” for the holiday parties. While I personally wouldn’t mind a party full of meaty goodness, your guests might not agree. Here are some great recipes to fill your dessert docket without compromising…

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Is That Meat Made of Wheat?

Let’s imagine that you’re hosting a holiday party. You’ve got some guests on the way who are gluten intolerant, but no problem! You skipped the stuffing, you planned a gluten-free dessert. Everything’s going to be fine. Except that you didn’t check to make sure that your turkey or ham or roast chicken was …actually turkey…

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Totally Caveman Pumpkin Pie

Gluten free, dairy free, low carb, pumpkin-y goodness! You might say no to stuffing, but you don’t have to pass on dessert with this awesome recipe! Not only that, but because you’re using a fresh pumpkin, this dessert also counts as a vegetable! (Unlike, say . . . pizza. Ahem.)

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Surviving the Holidays with Food Allergies

You’ve been good all year! You’ve eliminated gluten, dairy, and any other food allergens. You’re eating as low carb as is appropriate for your body. You even made it through Halloween without one single package of “fun size” anything. Congratulations! Here comes your real challenge – getting through the holidays. But don’t worry – armed…

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Snake Oil

I was reading an article last week about PSA being an ineffective marker for testing for prostate cancer. This morning I was thinking about chronic pain affecting simple daily habits and fibromyalgia. And at the breakfast table I blurted out, Medical testing is the new Snake Oil.

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Sit on the Floor!

When you take a class at the CommonWealth School of Herbal Medicine, like as not, you’ll sit on the floor. Oh, don’t worry, we have a table and even a “comfy chair” if you’re feeling squishy. But in general, we much prefer to have a seat on a cushion on the floor. Why? Like most…

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What’s For Lunch?

One of the biggest challenges for families who are eliminating grains and dairy and/or limiting carbohydrate intake is what to put in children’s lunchboxes. Making this problem even more difficult is that most schools have nut-free policies, so one obvious staple is immediately out. (I definitely think schools should be a safe place for all…

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No Cure for Cancer: Healing This Client

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,…

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A long infusion steeping in a French press.

Nettle and Friends – Nutritious Miracle Tea

I can’t believe this wasn’t the very first thing we posted. How did we miss it? Nettle and Friends is our very favorite tea – it’s the first thing I think of in nearly every situation. It’s high-mineral, high-vitamin, and full of anti-oxidants. It’s good for your kidneys, your liver, your blood, your lymph, even…

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Wood Betony by Melanie Shaw, on flickr

Two Teas for Tense Times

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…

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“Cure” vs. Health

A fellow called me the other day to talk about vitiglio, asking whether I could do something about it. I began to explain that vitiglio is an auto-immune condition, and so the majority of my protocol for working with him would be similar to those for other autoimmune conditions, and that we may also add…

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Sage: a Favorite Nervine

You’ve heard of Sage (Salvia off.) used as a throat gargle, an antiseptic mouthwash, you know it’s good for headaches. You’ve used it to help weaning mothers dry off their milk supply, and women in menopause ease the transition. An aid to digestion before, during, or after a meal, not to mention a tasty addition…

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Rooted & Ready

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.

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Varicose Veins – A Useful Lotion!

An update to this post has, at long last, been written! You’ll find it here. Comments on this post will no longer be attended. Varicose veins run in my family. I had one near my knee already when I was in college, and over the years, especially while I was pregnant, I developed quite a…

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The Importance of Unstructured Time

Today was day two of our Natural Kids Summer Camp. We spent the morning building fairy houses in the woods, using whatever natural materials the kids could find to be imaginative with: bark, leaves, sticks, pine cones, acorns, rocks… They worked collaboratively to gather materials, and then to build five little houses together around a…

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Almond Honey Cake: Low Carb and Grain Free!

Looking for the perfect caveman birthday cake? Try this:

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Avocado Oil Mayonnaise

Mayo doesn’t have to be bad for you! Sure, if you buy Kraft or even any of the organic brands, you’ll be loading yourself up with artery-damaging free radicals and enough omega-6s to crowd out a whole cod liver of omega-3: even the organic brands are made with soy or canola oil. But making it…

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Homemade Baby Formula

Breast is best, but what do you do when that’s not possible? Even the organic baby formulas are highly processed and highly sweetened – not a desirable option, and the conventional standard Similac, which is 40% corn syrup and 10% sucrose, is even worse. Here are some guidelines for making your own baby formula –…

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Dealing with Jetlag

Travel is exciting, but jetlag is no fun. Here are some handy tips to help you acclimate quickly!

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Seven Herbs for Summer Health

Every season has its associated issues: in winter, I would say we can’t live without things like Thyme, Sage, Garlic, Onion – potent plants that get us through cold and flu season. Here are seven plants that will make your summer much more enjoyable!

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Vital[ist] Lifestyle Interventions

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…

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Grain-Free Granola!

Going grain-free often hurts most at breakfast – weekday mornings can be too busy for bacon and eggs, and we need something fast to grab for. How about granola and coconut milk! Nuts are not no-carb, but this recipe is low-carb, especially if you are careful to use unsweetened dried berries. I like Goji berries…

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Almond Meal Pancakes

Going grain-free but craving sweets? These pancakes come in low under the carb radar (not completely carb-free, but quite low). A tablespoon of good dark Grade B maple syrup only has 17g of carbs, plus good mineral content, so use plenty of ghee and a bit of maple and you can have your bacon, and…

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Weaving Our Way Fourward

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…

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Proud Mama

Yesterday when I picked my daughter up from school, she was telling me the story of a rather nasty looking cut on her leg that she got while she was at her dad’s house. She’d been climbing a tree with her neighbor-friend, a little girl one year older. Somehow she missed her footing on the…

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Spring Root Salad

It’s a liver tonic! It’s high in probiotic-friendly inulin! Not only that, it comes with its own probiotics! It’s crunchy and delicious! It’s exactly what you need this time of year! Last night I was craving something a little different, and this is what came out of it. It’s a good thing I made such…

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French Eggs – What to Eat for Breakfast!

A frequent recommendation we make is to cut back on carbs. Our current culture typically eats a very high percentage of the diet as carbohydrates, and just isn’t exercising (by which I actually mean, moving) enough. These two in combination is a sure path to insulin resistance – a root cause of so many modern…

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Herbal Relief from Seasonal Allergies

No matter what part of the country you’re in, it’s safe to say, spring has sprung! Although up here in the Northeast, we still have snow on the ground in shady areas, before long, thoughts will turn to stocking up on Kleenex. But there’s a lot you can do to prevent and relieve seasonal allergies!…

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Seaweed as Food and Medicine

In the summer of 2010, I went out to harvest kelp with Larch Hanson, who has been harvesting seaweed for the last 40 and more years up in WayNorth Maine, along with his son Jay and his apprentice, Micah Woodcock. We source all of our seaweed from Micah – AtlanticHoldfast.com

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Save the Whales, See an Herbalist!

When my daughter was three, she didn’t watch much media. She had two videos she enjoyed—Singing in the Rain, and Riverdance. One day she asked if there were more. We went to the local video store (a tiny little place on Main Street in the central Vermont village where we lived at the time), and…

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herbal medicine for beginners - book cover

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

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