Podcast 066: Herbs for Psychological First Aid
It may not have occurred to you that “psychological first aid” is even a thing, let alone that there might be herbs for psychological first aid! But let us assure you, it is very real and very important, and herbs can play a leading role.
When working as a street medic or first responder, you’ll soon find that at least as many of the issues people need help with are mental/emotional as are physical. Bleeding wounds & broken bones get all the attention, but panic attacks, trauma-triggers, and uprushing grief, fear, or anger all require attention too. Herbs can help!
In this podcast, Katja shares her favorite herbs for psychological first aid, along with some helpful strategies for framing traumatic situations and helping people define and direct their own stories about the experience. Listen in and learn a few allies who might help you – or help you help others – when some psych first aid is needed!
The Emergent Responder Program is a deep dive into these concepts at the intersection of personal preparedness and community disaster response. It gives you the skills and confidence to function calmly and efficiently in an ongoing or post-disaster scenario, providing effective support for your loved ones and community – no matter what the situation is. And just like all of our programs, you get our 14-day, no-questions-asked, zero-risk return policy! So, what are you waiting for? Get started today!
Katja: 00:00:11 Hi, I'm Katja.
Ryn: 00:00:13 And I'm Ryn.
Katja: 00:00:13 And we're here at the Commonwealth Center for Holistic herbalism in Boston, Massachusetts.
Ryn: 00:00:17 and on the Internet everywhere. Thanks to the power of the podcast. Hey, we are not doctors, we're herbalists and holistic health educators and hopefully that's why you came to our podcast.
Katja: 00:00:30 The ideas discussed in this podcast do not constitute medical advice. No state or federal authority licenses herbalists in the United States, so these discussions are for educational purposes only. Everybody's body is different, so the things we're talking about might or might not apply directly to you, but hopefully they'll give you some good information to think about and research more.
Ryn: 00:00:50 We want to remind you that good health is your own personal responsibility. The final decision when considering any course of therapy, whether it's discussed on the internet or prescribed by your physician is always yours. Yeah, yeah, yeah. All right, so what's going on this week?
Katja: 00:01:06 Well, I'm pretty excited to be talking to all you guys. Um, we have a cajillion shout outs because it's actually like a week and a half worth of shout outs, or two weeks because we missed last one. Um, and I hope I didn't miss anybody, but I just have to say that I really love hearing from everyone. I just, it just makes my day every time somebody does that. So first off, thank you. And, um, secondly, I'm really excited to talk and share about herbs for psychological and emotional first aid this week. But first the shoutouts, 'cause they're exciting.
Ryn: 00:01:43 Let's do that. So we have one for Sloanie Mariposa or maybe Sloan E Mariposa. I think so, yeah. Who listens to the pod on her way to work at an herb shop in Santa Fe. That's cool. And that reminds me, that's a place that I'd really like to go back to sometime in the, not so much zooming through kind of a way.
Katja: 00:02:02 Yeah, I would really like to go there too. We've been through it a couple of times, but I've never been to it. And it I'd really like to, yeah. Yeah. Um, a shout out to Whole-Life-with-Amy who listens to the podcast while she's taking care of her worms and I hope they love it.
Ryn: 00:02:21 Worms! So good. All right.,we also got Madeline David in Australia who just got a copy of our book way over there.
Katja: 00:02:28 Yeah! And Brooke Criswell, who is having motherwort as her herb of the time being,
Ryn: 00:02:35 uh, we have Emily 18 on Instagram making Ponderosa Pines salve.
Katja: 00:02:41 Yeah, I'm kind of jealous. Yeah. And Lat-Joe who was listening to us talk about Irish Moss and she was so excited about it that she got up right then and put some in her teeth.
Ryn: 00:02:53 That's action, you guys. That's awesome. Nice Work. And we have Gulu-Baliato on Instagram who's in South Australia.
Katja: 00:03:03 Yeah. You know what, all these Australian shout outs. I just want to give a giant shout out to all of Australia because I know there's a bunch of y'all who are listening there and I just think that is so cool.
Ryn: 00:03:17 Cool. Hey, any of you who are there, if you know of any native Australian plants that contain caffeine, please let me know because it's the one continent aside from Antarctica that doesn't seem to have any of its own yet. And I'd really love to know if y'all find any. Yeah. All right, cue me in on that one. Word. All right. And we also have, let's see, a very special shout out to Emily.
Katja: 00:03:40 Yes. This one is for Emily who made me birthday tea. And also Emily, I think your glasses are really cool!
Ryn: 00:03:48 Ah, that girl in the picture.
Katja: 00:03:49 The little girl! Yes! Oh my god I just want to pop. Yeah. Yes. Emily, I think you are the best.
Ryn: 00:03:57 Cool. And we have another shout out for Mindy who recommends us to all her herby friends. Thank you. Thank you very much.
Katja: 00:04:03 And also to Multifaceted-Momma on Instagram, who was looking for herbs to help a doula keep going through those long overnight births. And actually...
Ryn: 00:04:15 We did a bit on a podcast about that a while back, no?
Katja: 00:04:17 We did, we did. Which podcast was it?
Ryn: 00:04:20 Oh, I'll dig it up. Okay.
Katja: 00:04:22 You dig it up while I say actually on the topic of Doulas and other birth workers, we have a class for that! Um, it is the Herbs for Birth Workers course and it's a short course. It's just eight hours of video video and it's got accompany and quick reference PDFs. Um, so it's like not going to take you forever to finish and it's got tools that you can use whether you are brand new to herbalism or if you've been an herbalist for a long time, but you're just looking for some real specifics around pregnancy, labor and delivery. And um, also there's a chapter on postpartum herbs too, so you can check that out at commonwealthherbs.com/learn
Ryn: 00:05:04 do it, do it and check it out. And also check out podcast, episode number 52, which had a lot of topics. We had intentional inconvenience, we had Rhodiola rhapsody, we had stimulants for midwives. Oh, that could bleed over to our doula friends and other birth workers. Yes. And we also had a little talk about poisonous mints.
Katja: 00:05:25 That was a very interesting talk.
Ryn: 00:05:28 Yeah. Little rambly, but it was kind of fun.
Katja: 00:05:30 Um, spoiler alert. No, not really. no it was.
Ryn: 00:05:34 Yeah, that's how that goes. Alright. Um, other things before we get rolling this week we have a student contribution instead of a question because we just loved it so much. Um, so this one came from Peggy who sent us a really great article about the benefits of sun exposure and the over-hype of Sun Dangers published in Outside magazine, which I have to say has had some pretty great articles over the years. I remember one about like, this must've been like seven years ago and it was about athletes going gluten free to improve performance.
Katja: 00:06:08 Yes that's right!
Ryn: 00:06:08 yeah. Anyway. And this one was about about the sun and, okay. So Outside isn't like, you know, a scholarly journal or whatever. But there were interviews with scientists working on this and good links to studies that were referenced and everything. Yeah.
Katja: 00:06:22 It was actually, it was really well written the pieces by Rowan Jacobson and um, it's a really solid piece of work. Plus it's very well referenced and you can click out to the different studies that he's talking about.
Ryn: 00:06:34 Yeah, do it! They're fascinating. But yeah, I mean there's a lot more about the sun that your body needs and just vitamin D. So, you know, I was practicing what I'm preaching here. Uh, last week when I was in Mexico, I did not use any sunscreen for my entire week. I went from Boston February, um, as a, as a, as a really white dude. Um, and I went down to basically right near Cancun, um, and I went into the sunlight and I would be there for like 20 minutes and then I would go in the shade for like 40 minutes or so. And I just alternated that basically all throughout the days. And um, no burn, nice brown tan and not really any peeling skin or anything.
Ryn: 00:07:19 But yeah, I mean get, get some sun, don't get a burn, but don't hide either. You know, there was this great quote from the story, it said, "Vitamin D now looks like the tip of the solar iceberg." Sunlight triggers the release of a number of other important compounds in the body, not just nitric oxide. Uh, which is a really cool thing. And can lower blood pressure and improve wound healing. And a bunch of other stuff, but also serotonin and endorphins. It reduces the risk of prostate, breast, colorectal, and pancreatic cancers. It improves circadian rhythms. It reduces inflammation and dampens autoimmune responses. It improves virtually every mental condition. You can think of. Little connection to our uh, psych first aid thing here and it's free! And that's pretty great. So yeah, you guys the sun...
Katja: 00:08:06 this is something that you have been ranting about forever.
Ryn: 00:08:10 I have, I have, yeah. I have like the, the things that I want to bring together into a class all about the sun and herbs and where they intersect and how they can make your life better in lots of ways, especially when you put them together. So stay tuned for that one. Yeah.
Katja: 00:08:30 All right, well, okay, so next up we want to share a recording with you about herbs for psychological and emotional first aid.
Ryn: 00:08:38 I think this class was from 2016 or 14.
Katja: 00:08:43 I can't remember. Actually.
Ryn: 00:08:45 It's from a little while ago.
Katja: 00:08:46 It's from a little while ago. Um, but it is, I think it's like one of the most important pieces of work that I've put out there actually. Um, it's, it's not hard. It's like if you're a total beginner to herbalism, there's nothing in here that's like super difficult. It's all like tools you can use right away. But just the, the need for this kind of work is so great. Um, that I think that it's something that we really need to be talking about.
Ryn: 00:09:19 Yeah. You know, when, when I was getting educated and trained and then having field experience in first aid situations, like every single time, it became more and more apparent to me that like, yeah, we all get hung up on the bleeding wounds and on the c spine injuries and on the dislocated shoulders and then whatever else. And like, yeah, you're gotta learn specific skills to cope with those. But so much more frequently to kind of first aid help people really need is that they're having a panic attack, that their anxiety is, is bursting out, that they're having trouble breathing because of the fear and the frustration and the anger and all kinds of emotions that leap up and dominate your world. You know? So having ways to work with those, both like skills about how to talk to people and get on their level, um, you know, and then, and then herbal allies that can make a huge difference in a short time. That's super valuable work. So anybody doing any kind of first aid training, if you don't have psych first aid included in there, then you are really missing out.
Katja: 00:10:21 Yeah. And even, you know, even when it is a bloody wound and a whatever, that's pretty scary, right. Still pretty scary. Like you still need the psych first-aid for that too. Like, that's, there's just no part of, of anything that there's no part of like caring for other people that doesn't require these skills and these, these herbs or herbs who can also do this. You know, in other parts of the world there would be other herbs who can do this, this work. Um, but, but that's, yeah. Yeah, that, that was a period and not a comma actually, haha, I was on a roll and then I was like, oh wait, I'm done. Alright.
Ryn: 00:11:00 So we'll let the rest of the class speak for itself and we'll catch you on the other side.
Katja: 00:11:05 All right, let's get going. So we're going to talk about psychological and emotional first aid tonight. Um, and I structured this class, a lot of times when we teach, um, there's, there's so many ways to approach different problems and so we will talk about food and we'll talk about sleep and, and all the different things that can impact our health. And sometimes we get really excited about all these different factors. And it's not till like the second half of the class when it's like, all right, we should talk about some herbs too. Um, and I really didn't want that to happen tonight because I really, I really wanna focus on the plants that are our allies for us. Um, in terms of the psychological and emotional, uh, impacts of trauma and disaster and stress even. But before we jump into the herbs, I want to talk for a minute about story because story is so important in defining who we are.
Katja: 00:12:07 Um, not just as people, but as, um, as a species, as a part of this larger body, um, to which we belong. And you know, it's a wonder that television and movies and stuff are so very popular because throughout all of our history there has been story. And in fact, that's what you do at night, right? Like when we go to work and come home and sit in front of the television and we're actually replicating, um, a human pattern that has been done for eons. You know, you have your day, you have your meal, you sit in front of the fire and the elders tell stories. And those stories ground you in who you are, yourself in, who you are in relation to your community and who you are in terms of your community in relation to, um, the greater, uh, sort of time and space that you're in.
Katja: 00:13:02 And these stories also help us understand how to live and, uh, what we value and what is right. Um, normatively culturally...Um, but the, the stories are grounding. They are, they tell us who we are. So, so today, um, the, the prob-, the reason this is so relevant to trauma and a big problem that comes in for us is that today, um, story is mostly fed to us from the television, from media. Um, and that story no longer really values the same sorts of things that have traditionally been valued. Uh, they did a study recently. Um, in fact, actually the study is done every decade or possibly every five years, but in the last 10 or 15 years, the trends in the study have changed. And what they do is they interview children to see what, um, those children's values are. And for a really long time, um, the values were things like, you know, belonging in my community, being nice, uh, to helping my family. Those kinds of "Leave it to Beaver" kind of values. Um, and then, um, the, the values recently have started changing and none of the original values are actually still in the top. None of the original top five values are still in the top five. And now the top five are things like, um, fame, money, achievement and some other things. Um, and this is tied to the influences of television, which makes a lot of sense. If you look at, at the stories that we are shown in, in the media, um, that is the trend. And I'm generalizing here, but I'm not really, um, I don't really want to get into the problems with normative culture and stuff like that because those absolutely exists. But right now I'm going for the generalization of, of just this idea that story grounds us in who we are.
Katja: 00:15:06 So, uh, when things happen to us or when things happen that we are involved in or that we experience, the story of that is, is really critically important. And so if we think about, um, that ancestrally, um, throughout history, and I'm going to choose a sort of an ideal situation here, but, but we have lots and lots of stories of this ideal situation. So I'd like to use that as an example. So, you know, our typical cave person or whatever is out, uh, hunting in the Savannah and doing whatever he or she is out there doing and suddenly upon them comes a tiger. And so our person runs and runs and runs and, um, you know, "over tree and underdale" or however that goes. And, um, and eventually gets back home and survives. And maybe there's some injuries, but survives running away from the tiger and is now safe back at the village or back at the cave or back at, you know, wherever. Um, and so now, uh, this person tells their story and the whole village crowds around to hear and this person tells a story and they're applauded as a hero.
Katja: 00:16:29 And then, you know, at the next full moon, a gathering or whatever the village poets have written a tribute to this person and their escape from the tiger. And this person is, is, um, celebrated as a hero in the village. And, uh, this, this pattern is, you know, I mean, certainly you're familiar with this pattern and certainly not every stressful situation throughout history had the benefit of this pattern. But this is how we are....this is how we as people deal with stressful events, is to come and tell the story and to transform our story from a person who was frightened and struggling and in great danger to a person who survived and a person who is now a hero and, and these words that, um, give us control over the thing that happened to us. So that transformation through story, through the telling of our story, the acceptance of that story by our community, the support of our community and, and then ultimately the, um, praise or admiration or whatever of our community is really, really critical in surviving.
Katja: 00:17:50 So nowadays we have this, I don't know, protocol or whatever that is lately being much talked about called the, um, "post incident debrief", which is not a story, right? So the, this idea of the post-incident debrief, it is telling your story, but there's a, there's rules and ways you're supposed to do it and it's not necessarily always done in the right way. And often it's done right there when you're not even quite out of your trauma yet you're even still maybe not entirely in a safe space. And so now there's a lot of critique and criticism coming out about this technique. And, and some studies are saying that this is maybe not a great idea and, uh, I would agree because anything that says "post-incident debrief" does not sound like, um celebrating your survival and your hero-ness. Um, to me that sounds like, um, a boring business meeting that I really don't want to be invited to.
Katja: 00:18:54 So, um, uh, I think the idea is not bad. Um, but I would like to see it done more, um, in that sort of archetype of the hero story. And, um, I didn't have a really good way to tie this in specifically to the herbs, but it felt it was really important. And when we're talking about psychological first aid, I do think that having the ability to go through and tell your story and you know, every time you tell a story, it doesn't matter what the story is. Every time that you tell a story, it changes a little bit, you know, maybe that fish gets a little longer, maybe that, you know, apple gets a little sweeter. Maybe I don't know what, but the story changes just a little bit each time. And that's actually fine. That's great. And especially when you're telling the story of your survival through a traumatic incident, you're also changing the story a little bit more.
Katja: 00:19:56 Um, and as you change that story, as you tell it, you're also changing your memory of it. And that's actually curative. That's actually beneficial to you. Because every time you tell the story, you have more control and the control that you didn't feel you had in the original living of the experience, each time you tell it and receive acceptance and acknowledgement, And be lauded as a hero, whatever. Then you feel, oh, right, I'm a hero. I survived. You feel more in control. And so you can tell the story with more control until the thing that you lived through doesn't actually seem quite as bad. It's just a great story now. So finding way to use that reality as caretakers, as aid workers, as people who have friends who have experienced traumatic events, um, is really important. But, uh, it doesn't need to be done in a safe space, right?
Katja: 00:21:04 You can't be telling your story until you actually survived. And if you're still in that point of not actually having survived yet, um, then that's not, it's not time to be telling the story yet. And everybody tells their stories differently, in different, in different ways and at different times when it's right for them. So mostly knowing that there is a place for that story to be told, knowing that that story is going to be accepted and um, that everybody's going to be grateful that you survived is important. Whereas today, a lot of times, um, as we go through a stressful or traumatic event, maybe then we go the next day to work because we don't, we don't get a day off just because yesterday was, you know, we had a terrible car accident or whatever. Um, as we then move on into our day, nobody really wants to hear that story. They all have their own stories. Nobody really has time for that story. And so it's Sorta just like we'll get back to work...
Katja: 00:22:06 So even I don't really think there's necessarily a way that we need to prescribe that people tell their stories. I think that needs to be right for each individual, but making space for stories to be told and making that space safe and making it clear that the story is already accepted and that we already are grateful that you have survived and that we're interested, um, in compassion and love and kindness and hearing your story, um, can be really beneficial to a person who has experienced some awful stuff.
Katja: 00:22:42 All right, so that's story. Um, and let's go ahead and talk about the rest of these things really in context of the plants themselves. Although I will say of course, that while you're telling your story and while you're listening to someone's story, um, that experience can certainly be enhanced by a great cup of tea.
Katja: 00:23:02 So definitely. Okay.
Katja: 00:23:09 So the first plant that I want to talk about is Tulsi. It's often referred to as holy basil. Ocimum sanctum. Uh, Tulsi is okay - I'll just tell you now, we're going to go through a bunch of plants and every single time I'm going to say Tulsi is one of my favorite plants! And then I'm going to say Ashwagandha is one of my favorite plants! And I'm just, they're all one of my favorite plants! Like my, my children. If I had more than one, I would love them all. Um, I'm going to sneeze here in just a moment...
Katja: 00:23:51 Alright, Tulsi., Um, Tulsi is the plant that is the cure for, "I got up on the wrong side of the bed this morning." The plant that fixes your, your crazy psycho-bitch-pms, the plant that makes everything okay after whatever disaster it is that you've gone through. And okay, all those things are a little bit exaggerated, but not really. Um, there's a lot of physiology behind that. And so let's start with one of my favorite ones. The hippocampus. Um, I love Tulsi just because it allows me to get to say hippocampus a lot when I'm, when I'm working. I love that. Um, and when I say, hippocampus, um, where the hippocampus is part of your brain, but what I really think is like a little, well, it would be a very large university, university with like hippopotamuses going back and forth to class. So you would, um, okay.
Katja: 00:24:47 "hippo-campus"... I need, I need, I need a shirt that has like a hippo face...Yeah. Um, all right. So the hippocampus is the part of your brain that processes your short term memories into longterm memories. Right. In other words, the hippocampus is where you "get over it", whatever "it" might happen to be. When exposed to chronic high levels of cortisol, cortisol is a hormone that our bodies produce in response to stress, um, in response to inflammation, in response to, to different things going on in the body. So Cortisol is great. Too much cortisol for too long a time degrades the hippocampus actually measurably shrinks the hippocampus, they can see that in MRIs. And um, so if the part of your brain that is going to transfer your short term understanding of the experiences that just happened to you, into longterm cold storage, right?
Katja: 00:25:52 If that has become smaller and become atrophied, then your ability to move past the thing that whatever the traumatic thing is that has happened in your life and move onto the next set of experiences is going to be significantly curtailed. So Tulsi, um, improves this in a few different ways. One of them is that, um, there are stem cells in hippocampus. They're not stem cells in all parts of the brain, but the hippocampus is one area that does have its own stem cells. And Tulsi stimulates those cells to regrow the hippocampus, to repair the hippocampus and bring it back to its, um, proper function. So that is phenomenally exciting to me. Um, there are also studies that have been done show that, um, if we take people who have had similar traumatic experiences and um, look at their past and their future with that traumatic experience as the, as the middle point, those who have had chronic high levels of cortisol or higher levels of cortisol in their past before that traumatic event, we're more likely to develop PTSD in the future from that traumatic event, then people who had substantially lower levels of cortisol throughout their lives.
Katja: 00:27:19 So this can explain why. You may know two people who have been through very similar traumatic experiences and one person is suffering from PTSD and another person after five or six months, they moved on. And unless they shared that story with you, you wouldn't really even know that, that something had happened to them. Um, so what are ways that will raise your cortisol levels? Uh, being exposed to stress, right? Um, we respond to stress with adrenaline and after adrenaline comes the cortisol. So, uh, that is one way that we raise cortisol levels. And so a person who has, who has been in chronically stressful environments and who has been raised with a stressful childhood or or whatever the source might be, um, is going to be more likely to be at risk of PTSD in a traumatic experience. Also, um, high levels of insulin corresponds with high levels of cortisol. So, um, when we look at dietary influences, that would mean that a person who eats, um, more sugar, more refined carbohydrate, that kind of stuff will have significantly higher cortisol levels over time. And then that is another way that we would be impacting the hippocampus in this, in this particular time.
Katja: 00:28:42 So Tulsi also has particularly beneficial effects on adrenaline and cortisol levels. I don't want to make the statement that Tulsi actually impacts the hormones themselves. Um, it's very trendy right now to be talking about hormonal action and the actions of herbs on specific hormones. And I'm not actually sure that that's accurate. Hormones are, um, the function of hormones is to communicate. So if, uh, if I have, let's see, if I have had a bunch of stress, then adrenaline is released and it communicates to different parts of my body. Do this, do that. The other thing, this is the stuff we do for stress, right? And, um, I'm simplifying that a little bit, but I think it's a pretty useful analogy and when we see it that way, then our, the herbs actually having direct effect on the hormones themselves or are the herbs having effects that change the type of communication that needs to be made.
Katja: 00:29:47 And I think that it's more likely the latter than the former. So don't get too wrapped up in direct hormonal effects of herbs in the body. Um, because I think that's not quite the right direction and it definitely with Tulsi that's not really exactly how I would characterize it. Tulsi um, because of the work of the hippocampus, is going to be really excellent for helping people in longterm recovery from a traumatic event. Um, but even in the beginning, right. You know, right. As soon as you're home and you're safe, I would recommend lots of Tulsi. Tulsi is a very pleasant tasting plant. So that's quite fortunate. Um, and you can make it as a tea. You can make it as a tincture, you can make fun elixirs with it. And that's one of the things that we'll talk about over and over again.
Katja: 00:30:38 Um, and I think that elixers area really great tool when we're dealing with traumatic experiences because have, because uh, an elixir is a tincture with a sweet mixed into it. So maybe you have some Tulsi tincture and you have some rose pedal honey, some honey that has had rose petals infused in it, you put them together, you've got a great formula. Tulsi and rose, we're going to talk about Rose in a little bit. And you also have a really delicious, sweet, syrupy medicine that is going to, um, be very pleasant to take. And if you're in a traumatic situation, having something sweet and delicious is really, really nice.
Katja: 00:31:23 Tulsi can be useful for longterm recovery even years after the event. Um, so even if you're listening to this now and you think, gee, I have a friend with PTSD and they've had PTSD for eight years, could Tulsi still be useful or could be helpful for them? Yes, absolutely. Tulsi could still be helpful for them. So, um, so whether your stressful event is just another day at the office, um, or whether your stressful event is you've just come home from a really terrible, um, experience, uh, here comes the sneeze. I said it was coming. Okay. Um, Tulsi would be appropriate, right for that full spectrum of stuff.
Katja: 00:32:13 Some of our tea tonight is Tulsi. Actually Tulsi and rose pedal and a little bit of yarrow is in the one on the left.
Katja: 00:32:24 Okay. So let's talk about Ashwagandha. Ashwagandha is Withania somnifera is the Latin there. Um, Ashwagandha also has beneficial effect on the hippocampus. Um, also helps stimulate the regrowth and the repair of the hippocampus. So all of those cool things that Tulsi does in terms of helping you get over it, Ashwagandha can help with that also. Ashwagandha is a root. So typically we don't make tea with Tulsi and Ashwagandha together because, uh, a leaf or a flower, you can just pour hot water over it and make some tea. Maybe you let it set for a while so that it gets strong, a root, we're gonna wanna boil and then simmer for a good 20 minutes, half an hour.
Katja: 00:33:06 So while we may not put these two in the same tea, we certainly could put them in the same tincture or the same elixir. Um, but you know, it's also fine to just use both of them or just take both of them in a day and not have to combine them. That's also fine. Um, one thing that I really love about Ashwagandha is, uh, Ashwagandha is really, uh, really bound closely with our circadian rhythm or our ideas of cycle. And when we say cycle, often the first thing that comes to mind is menstruation. And when we say circadian rhythm, often the first time that comes to mind is sort of that diurnal pattern day- You know, play in the day, sleep in the night. And those things are absolutely yes, but there are tons of cycles in our lives and some of them we're aware of and some of them we're not.
Katja: 00:34:03 But even just the idea of the cycle of sometimes you're up and sometimes you're down, that's, you know, that's legit. If you didn't have some, some negative experiences, then you wouldn't be in a place to understand your positive experiences. Right. Cause you wouldn't have anything to compare them against. So I don't mean to Pollyanna, um, uh, a disastrous or a traumatic event. But um, it is useful to understand that disasters and traumatic events do happen and there is kind of a... There- that can be part of our cycle as well, right? That can, that can be, okay, well this is what's going on now and later something else will be going on. Right. Understanding that we're not going to be stuck in this place forever. We're here right now, but we understand that cycle is real and that cycle happens. It happens every 24 hours and it happens on many other levels. And so understanding that where we are right now is not, this is not, it's, um, it's not permanent. It's a temporary situation and that as the cycle goes around, other things will happen in our lives. So that can be really, really useful just psychologically to be able to hold onto.
Katja: 00:35:23 Ashwagandha though is really, um, useful in regard to sleep. And I really like to say "useful," um, because you know, I don't, I don't like to say that my husband is "useful" for doing the dishes. Um, although he often does. Um, I like to say that I love it when my husband does the dishes. Right. And so I don't like to talk about herbs that way either. It's our language is exploitative. Um, and so that we're sort of stuck with, um, I try to find other ways to talk about it. And then when I find myself using words like "use" a lot when I'm, when I'm talking about plants, but I try to stop and give this little ramble and then try it again.
Katja: 00:36:04 Um, so, uh, we can work with Ashwagandha to, to help resolve sleep problems as well. And a lot of times after traumatic event, we do have sleep trouble. Um, because that cycle is disrupted either due to nightmares or due to just fear of darkness or fear of being alone or any, all different kinds of fear. The quiet at the end of the day when now your brain can start thinking about things, um, and ruminating on negative experiences instead of having the distraction during the daytime. Um, so all around, uh, sleep can be very difficult after traumatic events and Ashwagandha, it's right, it's right in the Latin there Withania somnifera. Sleep, um, is really, really a good ally at helping us to find, um, normalcy or regularity in our sleep patterns, again, after a disruption. So that's, that's pretty fantastic. Um, I like Ashwagandha, right as tea I like it. Well as a decoction, you simmer it for awhile. Um, it has a, a fairly benign flavor. It's not really bitter. Um, it's neither, neither is it really very sweet. But, um, so either you could drink it all by itself. You could toss some ginger cinnamon in there, some Chai spices if you'd like. Um, so sometimes I like to mix it with decaf coffee and then I just pretend it's coffee. And that's pretty delicious too.
Katja: 00:37:38 Let's talk a little bit about ghost pipe. Monotropa uniflora. Alright, ghost pipe. Um, ghost pipe is this really amazing... If you don't look up pictures for any of these plants, you should definitely at least look up the picture of ghost pipe. It's a really fascinating plant. Um, a lot of times people think it's a mushroom. Um, it's white and it's, it's waxy. It kinda maybe has some translucence going on with like some pink or purple in there. Um, it's not very tall. It's really only like, I don't know what is that five or six inches. Um, and, uh, it grows in wooded areas. It's fairly finicky about how much water it gets. Um, and it's a reasonably rare plant. Um, at any rate, it's not, it's not at all abundant. Fortunately. Um, also large doses are not required. Very small doses are quite effective. Um, so that's great. Um, ghost pipe lives actually symbiotically on the root structures of other plants. And, um, it's worth watching some of the Ted talks by, uh, the Ted talk by Paul Stamets
Katja: 00:39:02 About mushrooms and the mycelial network of mushrooms and the way that mushrooms are communicating, um, actually very much like, uh, like the Internet. Um, the Internet of the plant world and ghost pipe hangs out in that space. And when we work with ghost pipe, it's very, very helpful for situations of over-stimulation whether that overstimulation, um, causes anxiety because there's a lack of filter. Um, like everything is coming at you at once and there's, and there's, you don't have a filter to close some of that stuff out or, um, also sort of because you had a filter, but your filter has been DNS-ed, right? Like in denial of service attack, there've been so many things flooding the filter that the filter just gives up and says, forget it. I just can't. Um, so ghost pipe is very handy in a wide spectrum, on one side for like ADD and um, any kind of other, um, revved engine kind of things going on in the brain all the way through to, um, you know, a panic attack or, or some sort of trauma, traumatic experience that has a lot of overstimulation involved. Maybe every traumatic experience has a great deal of over-stimulation involved.
Katja: 00:40:31 Um, traditionally ghost pipe was taken for things like phantom nerves after a, an amputation. So the hand is gone, my hand is still here, but after an mutation, the hand is gone and, um, the body still feels, the nervous system still feels that hand and may even feel pain in that hand. But the hand isn't there. And so this is one of those situations where the nervous system just has to come to grips with the reality, which is your hand is gone. And the situation isn't going to change. It has happened, it's done. It is what it is and we have to move on. So if you think about ghost pipe in those terms, um, you can see where that's really applicable to traumatic experiences also, right? They, it has happened, we can't unhappen it. Um, we're going to need to find a way to get okay with what has happened and, and to continue our lives to move on with that.
Katja: 00:41:32 Um, ghost pipe is also really excellent with flashbacks, right? So again, because that's a lot of stimulation all at once and even stimulation of a thing that isn't even there anymore, that's just really, really great there. Um, ghost back, we always use as a tincture. Uh, you can't, you can't dry ghost pipe or use it as a tea. Um, and we really use like three drops. Now you might use three drops every 15 minutes, but you don't really need any more than that. Um, sometimes you'll hear three drops or 30 drops, but nothing in the middle. But I've never really, I've never seen a case where it was, it was that sort of 30 drop dose. Three drops has always done it in the situations that I've seen. So, um, so that's a really excellent one to try.
Katja: 00:42:23 Ghost pipe is not, um, super easy to come by. You- There are some herbalists that sell it on the Internet, so you absolutely, Darcy from the forest is one, um, woman who makes it and sells it. And, um, at least in New England, your local herbalist may likely have some ghost pipe. We make a couple of pints of ghost pipe tincture every year and that's all we, that's all we have. That's also all we need. Um, so in the south, in the West it may be more difficult to find, but uh, there are some people who do sell it on the Internet and it's, it's, you don't need a lot of it, but it is worth having on hand because it's really, really very effective.
Katja: 00:43:10 Okay, let's talk about Wood Betony. By- and here I am referring to eastern wood betony that's stachys officinalis. Um, later we'll talk about western Wood Betony, which is pedicularis. But right now this is stachys. Betony is one of my absolute favorite plants. And I know I keep saying that, but it's true. Look, I have Betony tattooed on my arm! I also have Tulsi tattooed on my arms. Um, Betony is a really fantastic for drawing you back into your body. And I see that with just a smidge of hesitation because, um, Betony really shines in dissociative situations, but a lot of times a person who's dissociative doesn't really want to be back in the body. Um, they're very happy to be out. Um, you know, not in the body. Um, and dissociative disorders, um, that might not be a word that you're familiar with, but if you imagine yourself, your, the parts of you that are "you" being sort of like in a helium balloon that's just tied to you, so you're not really in here anymore.
Katja: 00:44:29 Your you-ness is up there. And this is a thing that happens, um, protectively, especially when trauma is a violation or when, um, when, whatever the trauma is like, it can't be born to be experienced, um, not born like a baby, but it can't be like you can't, the body just can't the, or the emotion. The emotional body can't bear to be witnessed to that experience. And so instead of being a witness in the body, um, with that physical understanding or that physical experience of what's going on, um, the emotional body just sort of leaves and there's, there's safety there, there's a separation. And so that becomes easier. The emotional body is just...just jumped from what's really going on. Um, so then the problem is though that in order to move past what's going on, you do need to get back in. And that can be difficult and it can be really painful.
Katja: 00:45:36 But Betony is a very gentle, very soft way to come back in. Um, and this is true for a wide variety of reasons or wide variety of causes, I guess is what I want to say there. Um, whether you are feeling out of your body because you've been working in your laptop all day and you sort of been sitting and just really doing a lot of cerebral work and you're not really here anymore, you're really, really, really in your head. That can be very uncomfortable. It certainly isn't traumatic, but it can be very, very uncomfortable to move from that place back into the body. And back to, um, you know, out of the computer, out of the machine and back into your whatever's going to go on with the rest of your day. So, so great in that situation, but all the way to, um, really serious traumas where, where there...The fear of the body has become really, really great.
Katja: 00:46:39 Um, so moving back in, it's just, it's very gentle. It's very easy. Um, and... "easy" I mean, in terms of lightness, it's not like you have to force yourself back in. It just sort of gently happens and then you say, "Oh, yeah, yeah, I could be here for a minute or two," and then, you know, that's, that's gonna be all right. Maybe you don't stay, maybe you work with, with Betony for a really long time. Um, but it's just that, that gentle coming back in and that gentle, just being back in here for a moment and saying, "yeah, yeah, yeah. Okay. I know, I know what this is." And continually coming back to that place. Interestingly, um, traditionally, Betony was taken for concussion, right? Which I- concussion is often traumatic also in nature. But, um, but it's interesting to me that like, again, it's just, it's that kind of disconnect of the head and the body. Right? It's really where that's at. Um, Betony is also great with flashbacks. Yes, I want to say, because, you know, flashbacks are cerebral. It's not really happening in your body. It's happening in your mental mind. Um, but you're probably already following that.
Katja: 00:48:08 I'll leave that there and I'll move on to Linden and Hawthorne. Linden and Hawthorne are the tea on the right tonight. Um, Linden, Tilia Europaea and Hawthorne, Crataegus - all the Crataegi. Um, this dynamic duo is fantastic for cardiovascular and nervous system stuff, right? Um, so in the context of traumatic events, I'm really thinking about, um, either like a panic attack with palpitations or, um, uh, a case of loss and/or abandonment. Uh, whether that, maybe, maybe that is loss of a loved one or loss of a relationship or loss of, um, whatever - home or abandonment, right, or separation from your community, from your loved ones. Maybe it's a traumatic event and you can't find your husband, mother, child, whatever. Um, linden and Hawthorne are really excellent in these situations. Um, I really like to, uh, they're delicious. They're delicious as tea, they're delicious as tincture, delicious as syrup and all the wonderful things.
Katja: 00:49:32 Um, I really like to use linden and Hawthorne for that moment when, um, you know, you're recovered, you're not recovered, uh, uh, I mean recovered in the sense of found, right? You're found, you're safe, you've been caught the good way and not the, you know, bad way. Um, you have come to the place that is safe. Your community's here to hold you or the aid workers are here to hold you or whatever. Um, kind of that idea of like crossing the finish line. Um, and it can be really useful to mark that moment and let people understand. Let someone understand like "This is the moment at which I became safe." "This is the moment at which I became found." So maybe not everything is perfect yet. Maybe some things are still pretty bad, but you're not alone anymore. You're in a place where you can get help. This is where the story started to change. And marking that moment in time -even if at the point of this happening, you as an aid worker don't have the ability to hear the story and the person who has experienced the trauma doesn't have the time or the, the full sense of safety to tell the story. It's not necessarily even time for story telling yet because the story is still in the making, but letting, letting there be a marker of "here was all the terrible, and here was the moment in which you were found." Um, later that will be a point that when the story starts to be told, can be held onto, that can be the point that says, um, things started to change. Now things starting to go in the right direction.
Katja: 00:51:27 So I really love Linden and Hawthorne, um, as a marker of that event, whether that is, um, you know, as a syrup or as a, um, or as a tincture because that's easy to carry around and it doesn't take up a lot of space or whether, let's say that this is a disaster situation and you are an aid worker working in a tent, working in a stationary location, um, where people who are being, um, rescued are being brought to. And so, and then in that location, you might have a great big vat of Hawthorne and Linden Tea that you're just offering to people as you, you know, um, give them the reinsurances that they are found and that they're safe. Now, um, that can be really excellent. And with the exception of the ghost by, uh, all of these herbs are herbs that can be taken freely. Um, uh, and ghost pipe it won't hurt you in larger doses, but it's a, it's a very rare plant, so we don't want to use more than is really, really necessary. Um, but these can all be taken freely and most of them taste fairly good. Um, not so much motherwort, which we're going to talk about next.
Katja: 00:52:40 Motherwort you could have as much as you want, but it doesn't taste very good. Um, it's little on the bitter side. Motherwort is Leonurus cardiaca. Um, and is fantastic at helping to set boundaries, right? So this could be something as simple as having a working environment where your boss doesn't respect your boundaries, doesn't respect your time and expects you to work late or work on weekends regularly and you would like to assert some boundaries around your time, at which time is yours and which time is acceptable for working. Um, so motherwort can be really excellent there and helping you to build the strength to be able to assert those boundaries in a traumatic situation. Um, and especially when, when the trauma is a violation, right and the motherwort can be really, really helpful in helping you to rebuild your boundaries in a healthy way. Um, neither too tight nor nor too, um, lax and, um, can help you to be able to come to a place where you can care for yourself after that experience. And build your own self back up. Uh, Kinda like a bootstrap plant, right?
New Speaker: 00:54:00 Um, on the physiological level, motherwort is great for palpitations. So this is the plant that would be really useful in panic attacks that come with palpitations, right? We can use, um, a dropperful or so of tincture every five to 10 minutes even until the palpitations are passed. Some people, um, experience, uh, motherwort as, um, strengthening menstrual flow or increasing menstrual flow or bringing menstrual flow on. Um, it's categorized as an emmenagogue for, for some people. Um, so if you do use motherwort in higher doses very regularly and you menstruate you may find that, um, maybe you bleed a little stronger or maybe, um, if you were a person who tended towards a slow start of your period, you may find that that, um, speeds up and comes into a, a more in a healthy pattern. Um, it is not abortifacient and it is not a strong emmenagogue, so it's fairly safe to experiment, to experiment with. But as long as you know that that's a thing that if you're using or if you're working with motherwort over a period of time, you may notice differences in your cycle. You might be grateful for them.
Katja: 00:55:25 Motherwort can also be very handy for aid workers. Um, especially when maintaining a strong boundary is really necessary. Um, especially if you're dealing with, um, with refugees for example, who, um, maybe there's a lot of chaos and there's a lot of people coming to where you are and where you're working and you need to be able to set clear boundaries so that you're working with one person at a time and you're not feeling like, um, you have this onslaught of onslaught of bodies, you know, pushing up on you or onslaught of people who have needs pushing up against you, because of course, you as an aid worker can only work as fast as you can work. So helping to deal with those emotions, um, and not to panic too much about all the, all of the next people, but just to take one at a time as they come can be really useful. Also as an aid worker, motherwort can be helpful in maintaining your own boundaries as you help someone recover from their traumatic event. This is especially true if you have experienced a traumatic event. And if that traumatic event might be similar to the thing that you're helping somebody through now, right? Then it can help you keep your experiences for yourself and not have them be triggered by the work that you're trying to do to help someone else through their experiences.
Katja: 00:57:01 Okay. Calamus which is Acorus calamus in the Latin. Calamus is really, really grounding. Um, and so whether what you'd like to do is, um, go out in nature for a day and maybe fast and meditate and really drop down into your parasympathetic state. Um, calamus absolutely. Uh, that would be a great after-trauma, activity to do. Um, or whether you are still in that traumatic situation and you are, um, maybe you're not going to get out of it for a while. Maybe. Maybe you can see that there's, this is going to go on for a while and you're in, you're kind of stuck here. Um, calamus can be like, uh, that, that strong thing that you can hold on to, to help you to keep going through, um, this event, whatever that might be. It's very stabilizing. Um, very handy for panic attacks. Again, this is a plant that helps drop you down into your core of who you are. Um, and so, you know, if you think about a panic attack, that's kind of the opposite. Um, if your core and your grounded state is, is Kinda here, a panic attack - if I'm going draw it- is like HERE.
Katja: 00:58:25 That's - so going from here to calmly here is very difficult and calamus is great at helping with that. Calamus is also really, really a good friend for aid workers who can't leave a situation to seek a safer space, right? Or choosing to stay in a not safe situation so that they can help the people who are, who are there. Um, especially when having made that choice or, or one way or another being in that situation, you're starting to feel some panic coming on, right? Because as an aid worker and you may be fine, maybe fine for hours and then at some point there's some fatigue and at some point then the panic starts to crumble at the edges. And that's a great time for Calamus. Just hold it out, hold strong and get through what you need to get through to help the people that you want to be helping.
Katja: 00:59:28 um, Calamus is another one that's very, very useful for dissociative disorders. It can be very useful and flashbacks to get you back into your, "you right now" instead of that mental place of reliving the experience. And calamus is fantastic when they're just digestive problems that are coming along with um, your, your recovery from the traumatic event, which is, um, the full spectrum there, whether it's difficult to eat, um, or whether you're eating, but you have a lot of upset, um, is very, very helpful there.
New Speaker: 01:00:15 All right, roses. Rose Petal. and this is rosa rugosa. Not so much like the rose on Valentine's Day, but the wild rose, the five pedal rose.
New Speaker: 01:00:25 Um, if you've ever had the chance to see wild roses, if you haven't, then find a chance - they're fantastic. But you could just sort of sit and look at one for a long time and just kind of meditate about it. A wild Rose Bush grows a very much like, you know, on chain link fence fences and then they have the barbed wire coils at the top. Um, kind of in that same shape, Kinda like this or like, um, a mushroom dome, I don't know. Um, but yeah, if you look at a wild Rose Bush in it's thorny kind of rounded shape like this, you'll notice that there are little tracks, little small mammal tracks that goes through it, right? Larger animals can't get through but small mammals can and they can hide there in safety from a larger Predator who can stare at them all day but can't get in.
Katja: 01:01:28 Right. Um, so when you feel like you would like to be surrounded by barbed wire so that the things that want to get at you cannot, obviously this barbed wire would only be on the outside, It would be velvet on the inside of course. Um, but when you feel like you could use, um, a hiding place that is so thorned and so dense and so rounded that, um, predators can't get at you, that's rose. And we could just simply say that rose antidepressant or anti-anxiety or into whatever, but to put plants into that category, um, they're not pharmaceuticals. So there's lots of plants of which we could say that, you know, they have antidepressant qualities, but getting the right one for the right situation is important. And so these stories or these sort of descriptions of how these plants work, um, is really, really useful to make sure that you get the right one.
Katja: 01:02:35 But I just think that rose, that that's so particularly handy, because that's also physically what the rose bush is doing in, in the wild, you know, just with the animals and everything else that is actually providing safe space and it's providing cover for small animals who, who need it. So I think there was a Charlie brown character who carried like a dark cloud around him. Anywhere he went was, it was Pigpen. Yeah. Um, oh, maybe that was just a cloud of dirt, but I like a grumpy cloud, somebody had a grumpy cloud. Well anyway, imagine a cartoon character with a grumpy cloud around them and everywhere they go, maybe the sun is shining, but there's grump all around them. Rose is like that, except that everywhere you go there is this protective cloud around you. Right? So it's kind of like having your own personal safe space bubble.
Katja: 01:03:37 Really excellent. Um, again, handy in the moment. Handy for aid workers, handy in terms of the long term recovery and uh, you can't overdo it. You can have as much rose as you like. Um, one of the simplest ways to work with rose, especially if you're really feeling cruddy and you just don't really have a lot of energy to take care of yourself, is to get rose water from the grocery store. Um, and it's often in the international food aisle or you might have an international grocery store, um, near where you live. And so, uh, just rose water from the grocery store, a little bit of that into some hot water and Presto, you're done. That's it. There's just a cup of tea and first off it smells like roses and that's fantastic. Um, but it's just a really easy, really excellent way to get rose into you.
Katja: 01:04:33 And that's fantastic. Um, I also really love to put fresh rose petals in honey. And, uh, that's really all there is to it. Pick the rose pedals, put them in a jar of honey, put a lot in there and wait. Right. Wait a month. And when you open that jar again, the honey is gonna smell like roses and you can strain the rose pedals out, but the honey has taken on the properties of, of the - The roses have been infused and that honey. So now like I mentioned, you can take a Tulsi tincture, mix in rose pedal honey - Oh, delicious. So good.
New Speaker: 01:05:10 All right. Yarrow. Yarrow is another one of the bitter, the more bitter plants here. Calamus is bitter too, but, but there's a ginger-y aspect to it. So, um, that makes it really quite nice. Yarrow is fairly bitter. Um, but take it as a tincture. Uh, that's not really a problem. Um, or you could put it as a small portion of a formula in tea. For example, in, in the Tulsi and betony and Yarrow tea, you don't really taste the yarrow, the bitterness of the yarrow nearly so much because it's outweighed by the Tulsi and the Betony.
New Speaker: 01:05:54 Yarrow, achillea millefolium. Yarrow is armor right? Yarrow is, um, warrior medicine. It's battlefield medicine. It will staunch bleeding. It, um, has a long history of being used in traumatic injury, um, but, but it's also really excellent for the emotional body, in terms of gearing up for or, or surviving through, um, you know, traumatic violent upheaval, disastery things when you're feeling bombarded by the thing that you're experiencing. Um, whether that is the trauma itself or whether you're an aid worker and you are, um, needing to get through it and you're feeling bombarded even by the, by the great need that you see around you. Yarrow is armor for that.
New Speaker: 01:06:55 Um, and you know, like, so I'm sure I want to give the full spectrum here because these plants are wonderful allies and you don't need to have a terrible traumatic event to, to work with them. You could just like have a, a really difficult business meeting that you have to go to and ask, you know, and, and, and work with yarrow for that. It doesn't have to be like, oh, oh, please only use in case of emergency. Um, but yarrow is just really, really beautiful for working through cases where you need armor, you need to be strong. Um, and I didn't mention, but Yarrow is great as a flower essence also. So that's another option there.
Katja: 01:07:41 Chamomile, Matricaria chamomilla. Um, Chamomile is one of my favorite plants. Chamomile is really excellent for panic attacks, quite handy for recurrent panic attacks. Um, it's great when there's trouble sleeping after any kind of traumatic event. Actually it's great anytime when there's trouble sleeping. Um, but especially when the, the sleep difficulty comes from an inability to relax, right? Um, an inability to let your guard down in a safe space. So we're assuming at this point that this person is in a safe space. Some terrible thing has happened in their back home. Now. Um, they're in their home, their cat is purring, they're in their bed, but they can't let their guard down. They can't be in that safe place. They're still geared up from the negative event that happened. Um, chamomile l is just a great choice there as a tea, a tincture, an elixir, however you like it.
Katja: 01:08:43 Ginger's a really nice partner for chamomile. Um, ginger is warming but also anti-spasmodic. Chamomile's also antispasmodic. So when your, um, when your feelings of anxiety come along with tension in the body, right, you're feeling very anxious and your body is just kind of like winding itself tighter and tighter and tighter from the middle out. Um, the ginger and chamomile together are fantastic at helping you unwind that and get yourself to a place where you can relax. Um, and one of my favorite ways to work with Chamomile and ginger together is to make a very strong Chamomile tincture. And then to put fresh ginger, especially fresh young ginger, which we can even get locally here, um, into honey and let that infuse and then the, the honey becomes, takes on all that, um, ginger goodness and uh, mix them together and you have a sweet, delicious, um, relaxing elixer.
Katja: 01:09:52 Ginger also is really useful when the body feels cold. Um, or when you feel like you're unable to warm up. And again, after, uh, after a traumatic event that often is the case where you sort of just feel very like kind of clamped down and cold and tense, and like you can't let the warmth come back into you. So those two together, are just a fantastic team,
New Speaker: 01:10:19 Sage, Salvia officinalis, and this is just, um, garden variety sage, right? Just your regular sage at dinner. Um, sage. Usually when you read about it in herb books or whatever, they'll talk about digestion and um, you know, helps you, helps you digest fat and helps... It's a carminative. It warms everything up and whatever. But a few of the older books mentioned sage for psycho psychosis and that's not necessarily our current definition of psychosis. Um, and sage for, um, overwhelming panic, uh, also with trembling, which was a really fun find because when I was working with sage, um, around some menstrual issues, actually I, that after a month or two the menstrual issues were cleared up, but I was like, oh, I really need some sage.
Katja: 01:11:22 And I noticed that it was happening at times that I was just completely overwhelmed. Um, and and I had never seen anybody talk about sage that way. And so then when I went looking for it and I found in these old books that they were working with sage in that way, um, I was like, oh, look, this is so cool. So I, I do, I really love, um, when sage, or- I really love when, um, whatever is going on, whatever trauma you're experiencing, whether it is current or whether it's a flashback or a memory of that trauma, but feeling like your emotions are completely controlled by it, by like you're completely overwhelmed by it and you can't even really get a hold of who you are anymore. That is when sage is really, really excellent. Um, also really good for aid workers who feel like they're not, they, they're not going to get a break and they may feel that way because they are in fact not going to get a break and they have to keep going. Um, so they may feel overwhelmed and there may not be anyone else to take their place. So they feel overwhelmed and they feel that they need to keep going. Sage is great there too.
Katja: 01:12:39 Lemon Balm, um, is Melissa officinalis and lemon balm is soothing and cooling. We talk about Lemon Balm as um, uh, heat- it's, it's great with heatstroke and anything that looks like heatstroke. So, um, that can be panic, panic with agitation, panic with rage. Um, this could even be, uh, somebody who is in a rageful state because of having a bad experience of taking some drugs maybe at a, at a festival or something like that. Um, but when, when you as an aid worker are working with people who are, um, really in a place of heat and agitation, right? Um, and maybe that's legit, like maybe you have some hot head, hot-headed people that you need to cool off and they're angry for, for great reasons. But right now the heat of that anger is not going to serve the situation that you're in. Lemon Balm is really great there. Um, or you might be working with someone who is feeling a lot of anger and rage in direct response to the, to the trauma that they've experienced. And again, the anger and rage, maybe not only appropriate, but also might be something that at some point they should probably work through. But right now it's not actually helping them. It's, it's uh, putting them in an ungrounded place. Then this is a great time for Lemon Balm.
Katja: 01:14:19 especially where, um, where like those feelings of anger are becoming overwhelming. So, um, they're not really healthy at that point. The anger is overwhelming a person and sort of taking over, um, to back that off some.
New Speaker: 01:14:36 Um, this is a tea that can be useful in a first aid tent. Um, especially also if you might be working in a place that's very hot, um, just environmentally it's very hot. Um, then this is going to help also with, with just the heat heat stroke aspect of it. Um, and you don't have to, you can give it freely to folks. You don't have to worry about overdosing there. Um, it's also great as tincture, but um, but it's, it's tasty and it's very nice as a t so that is a very handy way to take it.
New Speaker: 01:15:16 We have two friends here, skullcap and passionflower. Skullcap is Scutellaria lateriflora and passion flower passiflora incarnata.
Katja: 01:15:28 Um, these two plants work very closely together for circular ruminating of thoughts, right? The hamster wheel on the merry-go-round in your head. And really in particularly when, um, you know, you're thinking about a thing and you get nowhere, um, sometimes you think about something for awhile and then you get somewhere with it and you're like, you know what? Now I know what I'm going to do. This isn't that. This is when you're thinking about something and it's just spinning around and spinning around in your head over and over again and you're getting nowhere. You just the same things over and over again. Um, so, uh, this, this combination can be really helpful, helpful there.
Katja: 01:16:16 Um, often it's used before bed, so still have a passion flower are not necessarily sedative. They're not going to help them put you to sleep. I'm not going to knock you out. We can definitely use them during the day, but a lot of times those ruminative patterns happen at night because everything else in the day has quieted down. And now maybe you're laying in bed and you have a moment and your brain is no longer occupied by the other things going on in your day. And so here's where you're just replaying stuff over and over again. And in order now you can't sleep because you're becoming very agitated from all of that. So to work with skullcap and passionflower and this way it can often be handy to pulse dose. And so that means that you might take a dropper full or even three droppers full, um, every 15 minutes or so for an hour or two before you go to bed. Right? So maybe, maybe for your body it's one dropper full every 30 minutes for two hours before bed or maybe for your body and your experiences. It's three droppers full every 15 minutes for an hour before bed. Um, it's, it's worth playing a little bit with that dose there. Skullcap and Passionflower are very safe. So, um, it's fine to do some experimenting there.
Katja: 01:17:36 Um, and it's, it is fine to work with these plants during the day as well. You can make them in a cup of tea. You can put them in tea along with some of the other plants, Tulsi maybe and rose, maybe some betony and have them during the day. If you are very tired and mental stimulation, it's what's keeping you awake. Then skullcap and passionflower may relax you enough to make you feel sleepy and make you tired enough to get to sleep. And if it's in the middle of the day and you aren't ready to do that, that's maybe not the right time. Um, but in general on their own, they are not sedative.
New Speaker: 01:18:16 Um, and then we have Kava and pedicularis. Kava is Piper methysticum and pedicularis um, is pedicularis, the various species, but particularly densiflora, Pedicularis is western, uh, wood betony. So if you're vaguely west of the Mississippi and you say wood betony, they'll think pedicularis, and if you're roughly east of the Mississippi and you say, wood betony, usually they'll think stachys.
Katja: 01:18:46 These two herbs both have very, um, pronounced muscle relaxing effects and that can be really helpful, helpful, um, to help a person drop down into their body and become more present, especially when tension is what's keeping them out. Right? So if you're, if you have a situation you've really tensed up and now you're kind of stuck that way, um, and not only are you stuck that way, but being tense in that way is going to stimulate hormones in your body that reinforce the message that stuff is not okay right now. So allowing that to relax, you're changing the message that your body is going to send, you can drop down back into your more relaxed self.
Katja: 01:19:33 Um, and that can help you in a moment of a lot of tension. It's worth noting that, um, Kava is a plant that if you have a bunch of emotions sort of stuffed and you've been just stuffing them to the side so that you can deal with them later, then you may find that taking a bunch of Kava brings those emotions up. And that might be a great thing, because maybe you've stuffed those emotions to deal with later and now it's later and you're in a safe space and now you can deal with those emotions and you're ready to bring them up. Um, but it's worth just, just checking in and making sure, um, that that's what you want to be dealing with right now. That doesn't happen for everybody, but, um, I sort of roughly categorize it along the Type A personality line. Um, it's, it's more likely to happen to a person who has that sort of Type A personality than it is to a person who is maybe more relaxed by nature.
Katja: 01:20:40 Both of these are also going to be good for panic attacks, right in the moment that come along with a lot of tension or for a flashback that comes along with a lot of just physical tension. Um, and in that case, especially if we're taking it in the moment traumatically, um, in that traumatic moment, then I wouldn't worry too much about whether emotions have been stuffed or not because it's a traumatic moment. You're probably going to cry. That's, that's appropriate.
New Speaker: 01:21:10 All right. Kava I find is best to work with in tincture. It doesn't extract out quite as well just in water as a tea. It's not, it's not useless, but it's, it's not as well. Um, and extracts out better in alcohol or in fat, um, so a lot of people when they make Kava they'll put in maybe some coconut milk or something like that.
Katja: 01:21:37 Um, but that starts to get very difficult to do, especially if you're in a disaster situation. That's, that's just a lot of work. So kava as a tincture is quite handy. It also has a very strange flavor and it can kind of numb the mouth a little bit, which is perfectly safe and fine, but kind of weird. So, um, it might be handy to let someone know that that's going to happen. Pedicularis is great in tincture. Um, you can have it, uh, in tea as well, but Pedicularis is also very effective in smoke. So if you have a person who feels comfortable taking medicine in smoke, then particular ice might be a plant that you can blend in, um, to help them to release that tension and to help deal with the traumatic effects.
Katja: 01:22:29 I have here at the end of the handout, a little formula for, um, an Aid Worker's Elixir. This, the idea here is that you're going to keep going and you're going to keep it together, right. And for an indefinite amount of time. Uh, so this is Eleuthero, Angelica, Rhodiola, and Yarrow. And I would recommend making this in tincture or as an as an elixir.
New Speaker: 01:23:02 Eleuthero is an adaptogen actually, um, all of these are adaptogens except for the yarrow though I suppose we could probably make an argument for Yarrow. Um, Eleuthero is on the stimulating side. It's not as strong as caffeine. It's not as strong as those five hour energy Ginseng drinks. Um, but it is stimulating. And you know, if we look back at the original studies that were done around Eleuthero back in the fifties and sixties, um, in the Soviet Union and, um, a lot of them were done in Siberian prison camps and that certainly is a traumatic situation.
Katja: 01:23:41 And the studies themselves were done on very large populations of people and they were done to see if the people could continue working, um, more hours than was appropriate and with not enough resources. So, um, so one of them was a study where they were working in the cold and they didn't have enough warm clothing and they didn't have enough sleep or food. And the people that got the Eleuthero were able to work much longer than the people who did not. So obviously the ethics of doing that study, um, are not fantastic at all. Uh, but, uh, regardless the study is done. And so karmically, I, I like to honor the people who participated in that study, even though it was against their will, um, and thank them because the data is, is very good and I feel gratitude that we have that so we can at least we can at least do that.
Katja: 01:24:42 Um, but then if you think about it, that's an aid worker's situation is that you may be working, you are working in extreme conditions without enough resources for longer than you really should be, with not enough sleep, um, or for longer than you really might be in a normal, not traumatic situation. Um, so I really like the Eleuthero in there.
New Speaker: 01:25:05 Angelica and here, I mean Angelica archangelica the European Angelica, as opposed to the Chinese Angelica. Angelica grows in northern Europe and in particular in Iceland. Um, and for our honeymoon we went to Iceland and we were there at the solstice and we saw the Angelica and I gotta tell you, I'm like almost six feet tall. And it was taller than me. The Angelica there was giant and powerful and it has this stock. It has a flower head that's enormous and it's like a starburst, um, like, like, uh, fireworks on the 4th of July.
Katja: 01:25:42 It's just this huge starburst of white flowers. And, um, a stock that actually is, is hollow but a very strong, I mean it's a six foot tall stock. It's a very strong stout stock. And this plant grows in a place where it either all day or all night, there's no middle in Iceland, right? It is, it is extreme everything. It's either all cold or well at, even though in summer it's pretty chilly actually. Um, it lives in a place where volcanoes erupt on a regular basis. Right. And it thrives there. And I, I didn't really understand Angelica until I went to Iceland and now I work with Angelica every single day. I Love Angelica because I really, I really saw like, wow, this is the environment in which you thrive. You absolutely know how to deal with this kind of environment. So this is the, the sort of dealing with this extreme situation and having enough energy to last through those extremes without losing your balance, right, without sort of flopping over or, um, kind of bending, you know, in an awkward way.
Katja: 01:27:01 Rhodiola is also a northern plant and a plant that grows in Iceland and it likes to grow in extreme rocky outcroppings and it can hold these things together. Um, it can hold itself together way out there on a ledge, and it likes to be out on those ledges, actually, I think because that way the sheep don't eat it. Um, but uh, but that's where it knows how to live. And of course, water is weird in that kind of a situation and the soil is insufficient and everything else and that's where Rhodiola can grow.
Katja: 01:27:36 And so, um, you know, I talk about the growing environment for these plants as part of explaining how they, how they work for us or work with us. But I think that's really like this is a plant who knows how to do that and now you're in this kind of a situation and you need to know how to do that too. So taking this plant into you can help you be in that situation. So those adaptogens plus some Yarrow, which we talked about is armor. And either you could blend a strong decoction of these or maybe better a tincture, a very strong tincture, and then blend that with something sweet. I would love it to be maple syrup or maybe molasses because both of those have some nutritive value. Um, or honey would be great too. Um, and just take it as much as you need until you and your community are safe. And what you and your community are safe, then sleep for a week. Because that's the right thing to do after, after a traumatic situation. Um, we're running out of time here so I'm going to wrap up, but if you have questions we'll do it. We'll do it after. Um, that sleep for a week part is really important. Getting to rest after a traumatic event is critical. So don't forget to put that on the end. That's your, your great big exclamation point after a traumatic event or maybe you're very calm period at the end of a traumatic event, but whenever it is, make sure that sleep is not neglected. Sleep and good food and lots of hugs when they're, when they're appropriate. Alright, so we'll go ahead and shut off the recording now and then we can ask questions and um, thank you guys.
Ryn: 01:29:12 Okay, thanks for listening. We hope you enjoyed that. And if you had any thoughts that that spurred in you or further questions, then go ahead and send them our way. You can just drop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. That's email@example.com. Yeah, or just bounce over to Commonwealthherbs.com and use our contact form right there. We'd love to hear from people in lots of different ways. And, uh, we look forward to talking to you again next week. Bye!
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