Podcast 189: Herbs A-Z: Filipendula & Foeniculum

We’re back on track! Today we continue our exploration of herbs in our home apothecary, giving you some unscripted thoughts about these herbs we work with very frequently. They’re the plants we want to have with us always, and it’s been fun to see the synchronicities that emerge as we progress in alphabetical-by-Latin order. Today’s plants make an interesting contrast.

Filipendula ulmaria, meadowsweet, is cooling/drying/tonifying. Its salicylates & other astringent elements make it excellent as an anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial when the tissues are spongy and red. We’ve found it very helpful for dental issues, including the irritations caused by braces. It is excellent for gastrointestinal inflammation also, famously helpful for ulcers & heartburn. It is not, though, “antacid” – as is sometimes claimed!

Foeniculum vulgare, fennel, on the other hand, is a warming/moistening/relaxant herb. It’s one of our “sweet demulcents”, like licorice, which can moisten tissues without the “slimy” feel of mucilaginous demulcents such as marshmallow. Fennel is important as a corrigent – which doesn’t only mean “improves flavor”, but implies an ability to balance out formulae. In this case, it’s great for folks who run dry and tense and need that balanced out if they’re going to take herbs like sage or dandelion. Fennel’s also intriguing because, while cholagogue, it’s not bitter.

These quick plant profiles were done off-the-cuff & on-the-spot. If you enjoyed them, we have more! Our organized & comprehensive presentation of our herbal allies is in the Holistic Herbalism Materia Medica course. We have detailed profiles of 90 medicinal herbs! Plus you get everything that comes with enrollment in our courses: twice-weekly live Q&A sessions, lifetime access to current & future course material, discussion threads integrated in each lesson, guides & quizzes, and more.

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Episode Transcript

Katja (00:14):
Hi, I’m Katja

Ryn (00:15):
And I’m Ryn.

Katja (00:16):
And we’re here at Commonwealth Holistic Herbalism in Boston, Massachusetts,

Ryn (00:19):
And on the internet everywhere, thanks to the power of the podcast. Yes. All right folks, we are getting back to our A to Z herbs on the shelf series today. We’re talking about Filipendula and Foeniculum.

Katja (00:33):
Foeniculum.

Ryn (00:34):
Foeniculum, you betcha.

Katja (00:36):
I’m pretty excited about this. These are two herbs that are really important to us. So, it’s going to be really fun to talk about.

Ryn (00:43):
Yeah, but before we jump in, let’s remind you that we are not doctors. We are herbalist and holistic health educators.

Katja (00:50):
The ideas discussed in this podcast do not constitute medical advice. No state or federal authority licenses herbalist in the United States. So, these discussions are for educational purposes only.

Ryn (01:02):
We want to remind you that good health doesn’t mean the same thing for everyone. Good health doesn’t exist as an objective standard. It’s influenced by your individual needs, experiences, and goals. So, keep in mind that we’re not attempting to present a single dogmatic right way that you should adhere to.

Katja (01:16):
Everyone’s body is different. So, the things that we’re talking about may or may not apply directly to you. But we hope that they’ll give you some new information to think about and some ideas to research further.

Ryn (01:27):
Finding your way to better health is both your right and your own personal responsibility. This doesn’t mean you’re alone on the journey. And it doesn’t mean that you’re to blame for your current state of health. But it does mean that the final decision when you’re considering any course of action, whether that’s discussed on the internet or prescribed by a physician, is always your choice to make. Yeah. All right. Well, let’s talk about meadowsweet. And probably I should start…

Katja (01:48):
Wait, first I feel like we should just do a quickie reminder, because…

Ryn (01:52):
Oh yeah. Where are we? What are we doing?

Katja (01:53):
Yeah, because we kind of inadvertently took a little tiny bit of a break by mistake. And so we were starting with all the herbs that are on our shelves right now. So, the herbs that we can’t live without. Now, we do have some extra herbs in the basement. But these are the herbs that are like on our shelves right here.

Ryn (02:20):
Ready to hand.

Katja (02:21):
Right. That we’re blending out of every day. And they’re on the shelves in alphabetical order by Latin name. And we just decided to do this series of like materia medicas, like informal materia medica just of all these herbs.

Ryn (02:39):
Yeah. These ones are not pre-scripted. We pretty much just say all right. We’re going to talk about meadowsweet and fennel today.

Katja (02:45):
And all the things that are most important to us about them. Yeah. So, like a very informal focus on them. But also like the focus of the ways in which these plants are most important for us in our daily lives. It doesn’t mean that there’s not other awesome things about these plants. But it’s sort of like for us in our bodies. And our bodies are pretty different. So, we cover like kind of a spectrum of applications here.

Meadowsweet: Filipendula ulmaria and its Properties

Ryn (03:09):
For sure. With today’s pair I think there’s definitely like a his and hers situation going on. So, because of that, I should start talking about meadowsweet. Because this is not really my favorite herb, honestly. I like it. I think it’s lovely. But I don’t say to myself ah, I have to get meadowsweet in my tea today.

Katja (03:30):
Whereas I’m like every day, that would be fine. That would be fantastic.

Ryn (03:35):
Yeah. And that as often comes down to the energetic qualities of this herb. Where this one is drying, and it has tonifying qualities to it. And I don’t really need more of that. I have plenty of tension, thank you. My body tends to run dry. I often need to work to stay hydrated. So, on those levels this plant doesn’t necessarily match my system too well. However, meadowsweet is fantastic. And I do work with it sometimes. And I often recommend it to other people, who have more of a watery constitution.

Katja (04:10):
I think that you probably work with it topically much more often, and that’s actually completely appropriate. Because in that particular situation, we don’t have to worry about the meadowsweet like twisting your guts into knots. Because you already carry all your attention there. And now we are adding an astringent. And so it’s just like oh, even more tension, right? But topically it’s really appropriate for a lot of sports injuries and stuff like that.

Ryn (04:39):
Yeah. So, I quite like to have meadowsweet included as one of the ingredients in a liniment or a muscle rub, because it does contain salicylates or salicylic acid compounds. And in meadowsweet they’re in a form called methylsalicylate, which is rapidly absorbed through the skin and also through mucous membranes. So, if we’re looking for meadowsweet as an anti-inflammatory, as a pain reliever, energetically as a cooling and a draining agent on that local tissue, then that can be very helpful. Both on like, you know, skin and wounds and sprains and things like this, but then also on dental tissues as well. I’ve worked with meadowsweet personally topically in those ways as that kind of muscle rub anti-inflammatory situation, but also as a component in a foot soak for like a fungal foot infection kind of situation, athlete’s foot. And there the astringing, tonifying quality is actually quite helpful. At some stages of that kind of thing, the tissue can get spongy and swollen and all of that. So, meadowsweet is really good at tightening it up. But also the salicylates are directly antimicrobial and pretty solid when you’re trying to fight a fungus.

Katja (06:02):
Yeah. And especially when you are dealing with fungal stuff, it’s super important to have like a broad spectrum of constituents. So, like just saying well, black walnut can… I saw on the internet that black walnut will fight fungal things. So, I’m just going to put on all the black walnut. But actually fungal stuff is kind of like a Borg all the time. And so if you are thinking in terms of I’m going to need a really diverse response to this invasion, to this pathogen. Then that’s actually going to give you a lot more success and get you a lot further. And that doesn’t necessarily mean that every single time you apply herbs, it has to be in some big complex formula. It’s okay to work with individual herbs and just switch them up every time. But presenting a changing palette of fungal fighting action to the fungal that you want to de-fungal is going to be a more successful strategy.

Ryn (07:16):
Yeah, absolutely. So, when I was coping with that, at the time I was having like meadowsweet in there, and then some prickly ash for blood movement locally, sometimes some oak bark for like a stronger astringency, but other times more like…

Katja (07:34):
He’s looking at the shelf right now.

Ryn (07:36):
Just thinking of all the plants that went in there at the time.

Katja (07:39):
You know, you often put thyme and monarda, something, a really strong mint in there.

Ryn (07:46):
Yeah. Sometimes yarrow, but then also softer herbs too. Plants like gotu kola or even marshmallow, which do have good antimicrobial qualities. I don’t know if it’s just me, or if everyone has this mental block. But sometimes when I look at a moistening or a neutral herb, I’m like ah, they probably can’t fight microbes. And it’s ridiculous, because they have to for their own bodies. And then they can do that for our bodies too. Yeah.

Katja (08:09):
It’s because we think that soft, nourishing things can’t be tough. Yeah. No.

Ryn (08:16):
Kill, kill, kill. Yeah.

Helping with Mouth Pain & GI Discomforts

Katja (08:20):
You know, in that topical regard you were talking about dental stuff, and wow. Meadowsweet is just so helpful. I really fell in love with meadowsweet, even more than I probably already was, when I had braces. Because braces just shred the inside of your cheeks. Listen, I did not have braces when I was young. I had them for the first time in my forties. And I can’t imagine having gone through that as a teenager, and having to try to concentrate on stuff in school and whatever. It’s so uncomfortable. It’s so, so uncomfortable. And basically your cheeks are just shredded all the time, because the brackets… Okay, maybe not 100% of the time. But any time they make a change, it takes time for your mouth to build up a callous in the new place that something is poking you. And so that is when… Like I literally could always tell when I had something changed in my braces. Because I would walk around the house like a chipmunk with meadowsweet tea, like a really strong meadowsweet tea, just so much of it in my mouth that it puffed my cheeks out. And the house was a lot quieter during those times, I do have to say. Because you can’t walk around with a mouth full of tea and also talk.

Ryn (09:51):
Oh, okay.

Katja (09:53):
But it was so, so effective. So soothing, and really helped that to heal up faster.

Ryn (10:00):
Yeah. And this isn’t just about like turning off the pain, right. Because meadowsweet has vulnerary qualities to it. It’s helping to heal damage. It’s helping to combat infection in the compromised tissue. So, it’s a very excellent application for it there. But it’s not just braces, right? You could have a toothache, and you can work with meadowsweet. You can have certainly something like an abscess, where there is that compromised tissue. The mucosa are damaged. They’re irritated. There’s inflammation. Cool that down, and with the astringency of the herb to knit the tissue back together. It’s quite, quite helpful.

Katja (10:37):
Even if you’re like a person who, when you feel stressed, you sort of bite the inside of your mouth in response to that. Like it doesn’t really matter why you have wounds on the inside of your mouth. It’s not like meadowsweet is the herb for braces. It’s like well maybe you… My dad, you know, he’s like Mr. Fix it. And he always is walking around with like a selection of nails in his mouth or screws. Like sticking out like a toothpick, you know. But like he’s kind of like a person who sews puts pins in to hold them before they… Right? So, my dad is just always walking around with nails hanging out of his mouth. I’m like dad, you’re going to like cut yourself or something. And so, whatever. You know, if you cut the inside of your mouth on a nail or sewing pin, or because you were chewing on your cheek and you were stressed out, or because your brace, or any other kind of reason. Meadowsweet is going to help that heal and also hurt less.

Ryn (11:44):
Yeah. And so for those purposes, we really prefer the tea a lot. Because previously for topical stuff we’d been talking about tincture. But for dental activity, yeah, the tea is much better. It’s not going to have the alcohol to irritate the tissue itself, you know? If you imagine an abscess or wound like that further down the GI tract, meadowsweet can still be helpful. So, it’s going to have an anti-inflammatory effect through the gastrointestinal tract when you swallow that tea. Meadowsweet is particularly helpful for something like an ulcer in the stomach in particular. Where it can, again, astringe, cool, have an anti-inflammatory effect, and trigger the healing or the regeneration of healthy tissue there. And meadowsweet also has this reputation, in sort of like herbal conventional wisdom or herbal common wisdom here, that it is particularly good for heartburn. And I believe that is true, but that the way people say it is often misleading. Because you often hear people say meadowsweet is an antacid herb. You’ll even see that as one of its list of actions, right? Anti-inflammatory, cooling, draining, antacid. And that one kind of always gave me pause. Like I don’t actually want to reduce stomach acid in a lot of cases of heartburn. Nine out of 10 cases are going to be caused by low stomach acid rather than high. So, digging into this antacid…

Katja (13:12):
So, you were thinking like well, if this herb is antacid, then maybe I shouldn’t work with it.

Ryn (13:17):
Yeah. As is often the case, Paul Bergner got here a couple decades before us. And he has a couple of great writeups, where he’s commenting that meadowsweet does not contain any alkalizing components. It doesn’t actually reduce stomach acid production. But what it does do that helps with heartburn is to reduce inflammation, and irritation, and overstimulation in the stomach. And that will do the trick.

Katja (13:43):
Yeah. And so people were identifying it as an antacid. Not because it actually has that action, but because it gave them the type of result that they would normally take an over the counter antacid for. And so they’re like oh, well then I guess this has antacid action.

Ryn (14:02):
Yeah. It’s looking for the bumper sticker, right? It’s like meadowsweet: herbal antacid. Done. No, you’re not done. And maybe in a lot of cases it doesn’t matter that the theory about why it helps is wrong. But if you’re learning herbalism, if you’re trying to understand this and work with these things effectively, it is important.

Katja (14:18):
You know, but as a side note there, that is a place where we get into trouble. Because we have these lists of herbal action words. And none of them used to contain the word ant- or anti-. Well, maybe anticatarrhal. I guess we can let that one in perhaps or antiemetic. We can let those in. But like all of the new words, antiviral, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antihistamine, whatever, those words are not traditional. They are new words. And if we are assigning those words to an herb, and saying that an herb has that action, then we always have to stop and interrogate what exactly it means. It’s not wrong to that ginger and chamomile are anti-inflammatory. They are. But that doesn’t necessarily mean the same thing that ibuprofen is anti-inflammatory. It’s not a one to one mapping. So, really whenever we see those words applied to an herb, we always have to say okay, exactly how am I getting that particular action? Am I getting the anti-inflammatory action because of like antioxidants. Or am I getting it because of vulnerary support, or because of moistening agents, or circulatory stimulation, or all different kinds of ways, whatever. Okay. Just a little sidetrack there.

Ryn (15:56):
Yeah. For sure. All right. Meadowsweet.

Katja (16:00):
Oh, wait, there’s more though. But wait, there’s more.

Ryn (16:03):
We weren’t done.

Meadowsweet & Head/Gut Aches

Katja (16:04):
I want to talk about meadowsweet and headache. But when I do this, I do not want you to think ah, like aspirin. Please don’t think that. Promise me you’re not going to think that, okay. All right, here we go. Headaches are not… It’s not that they’re hard to work with when you’re an herbalist. It’s that there is not a one size fits all headaches solution. Headaches are all a little different. There’s like all different kinds of headaches. And so in order to get the right herb for it, it’s really important to know what kind of headache you’re dealing with. And I’m not saying that you need to have words like cluster migraine. But more like everything is damp, and my head feels damp. And my whole world feels damp. And everything feels like it’s encased in fog. Oh, meadowsweet might be really appropriate there. Honestly, more because of this idea of damp inflammation, than because of the salicylate content. Although the salicylate content sure is going to do some stuff on its own.

Ryn (17:13):
They part of but not the whole of the draining, drying, cooling effects of the plant.

Katja (17:19):
Right. So, if you can think about having water in your ear and how unpleasant that is. And really a lot of water in your ear, and you feel like you are hearing the whole world through a swimming pool. Okay. But if you imagine a headache that feels like that, then that’s just like such a really good time for meadowsweet. Of course, I’m also going to put some chamomile in there, because I just am. And I’m going to put some ginger in there. Because if I’m having that kind of headache, I need to get stuff moving also. And ginger’s going to provide that moving action. Like meadowsweet has the draining kind of pull the plug out of the bathtub action. But then you could just be empty, you know what I mean? Like ginger is the let’s get this moving in a circle. Let’s put the fresh in, while you’re draining this stale out kind of a situation.

Ryn (18:16):
Yeah.

Katja (18:18):
He’s looking at me funny, because I was just waving my arms all around to describe that. I’m like making circles in the air.

Ryn (18:23):
She’s making circles, yeah. And I’m just trying to follow the currents, you know? But in that way meadowsweet has a lot of similarity to feverfew, Tanacetum parthenium, in the way of being cooling, in the way of being draining. And I think the differences are that meadowsweet has the tonifying quality, but that the feverfew is more of a relaxant to tension. And when we have two herbs that have these seemingly opposed energetics, sometimes your superficial layer is to say oh, well don’t put them together. Because they’re going to like interfere with each other or combat each other. Sometimes that does happen. Other times it happens that the two of them kind of smooth off each other’s edges, and they become more broadly applicable to more types of bodies.

Katja (19:09):
Yeah. Yes. Okay. So, I think maybe one other thing to think about with meadowsweet is if you imagine that headache, but it’s in your guts, right? It’s a watery, boggy discomfort, because maybe you ate too many salty snacks. Or maybe you are PMSing a little, or maybe you’re PMSing and eating salty snacks. Like that’s a thing that happens.

Ryn (19:45):
No. Does it indeed.

Katja (19:48):
It does happen. And so you’re feeling some discomfort, maybe a little cramping. Maybe it’s not exactly cramping, but it’s also not unpainful. Like it’s a kind of pain that isn’t exactly a cramp. It just hurts. And there’s just all this extra fluid. That’s also a meadowsweet situation. So, think about it in your head, think about it in your guts. Yeah.

Fennel: Foeniculum vulgare and its Properties

Ryn (20:15):
All right. Let’s talk about fennel.

Katja (20:16):
Mm-Hmm.

Ryn (20:18):
But I think you should go first, because this is one of my absolute favorites. I drink it most days.

Katja (20:22):
Yeah. Fennel is kind of the opposite. It’s moistening. It’s warming

Ryn (20:31):
We’re comparing here to meadowsweet.

Katja (20:33):
Yes. It’s kind of the opposite of meadowsweet. It’s warming, it’s moistening. It has a kind of sweetness that comes along with a, something…

Ryn (20:48):
A smooth feeling.

Katja (20:50):
It’s not exactly only sweet. It’s like sugar and sage together. It isn’t, because fennel and sage go well together. But it does have just a smidge of like some kind of… Not exactly all the way to pungent. Just a little earthiness in the sweet.

Ryn (21:06):
Yeah. There’s some aromatic warmth with a sweet base to it. Yeah.

Katja (21:12):
Yeah. And so these are all things that are really ideal for your body. Especially because y’all, when Ryn says that he needs to work to stay hydrated, what he really means is that he should set alarms on his phone to stay hydrated. And so the tricky part, when you are working with a person like that, is that they have spent a lot of their life dehydrated. And that’s become fairly comfortable. Things can be comfortable, even when they’re uncomfortable, right? Because they are so familiar, or because whatever. And so he doesn’t love a big, slimy, marshmallow root, cold infusion. Like that’s actually quite challenging for him to drink.

Ryn (22:04):
It’s true.

Katja (22:05):
Because it’s like zero to a cabillion, you know. So, I think that’s part of the reason that you love fennel so much. Because it provides the moistening action, without being so overtly slimaciously moistening that it’s a turnoff to you.

Ryn (22:26):
Yeah. I’ve seen some herbalist referred to this as an atypical demulcent. And putting together fennel, and fenugreek, and licorice, and a couple of other herbs that have this quality, where they are moistening. But it’s not really the same slimacious way as marshmallow, or elm, or even like Irish moss seaweed, or something like that. So, I’ve mostly referred to these lately as sweet demulcent herbs instead. And I feel like that helps to group them together and give you that taste cue for recognizing it. But yeah, it’s true. These are preferred to me. I love marshmallow. I do often include it in my daily formula. But I feel like I lean more towards the sweet demulcent group.

Katja (23:16):
Yeah. The nifty thing about fennel is that fennel is one that we can really agree on. You know, for a long time when he got really into drinking fennel for its demulcent activity, he suddenly started apologizing when he would put fennel in the tea. And I think that’s because you were thinking about it the same way as licorice. Like to you licorice and fennel are really similar.

Ryn (23:41):
Really similar. Yeah. But for you there’s like this hard line.

Katja (23:45):
They’re so different to me. But the reason that I feel so fantastic about fennel, even though it has demulcent qualities, is it’s got a lot of heat. It’s got a lot of like movement in it. It’s got that warmth, that carminative action. And my body really needs that. So, even though it’s bringing in some moisture, it’s bringing a lot of movement with that moisture. And that feels good to me.

Ryn (24:16):
Yeah. And on my side hot and cold access for me is a little complicated. It’s like I’ve got layers in my system. But my digestion often does need some warmth, more for the relaxant effect that follows the warmth, than the like stimulation of movement to it. So, it’s not even necessarily a great idea for me to take very hot stimulating herbs like cayenne all the time. Although I do spice my food pretty heavily. But an herb like fennel, where it’s warming, and it has that great carminative quality of bringing in the warmth, bringing in the relaxation. And at the same time it has that soothing, smoothing, sweet demulcent quality to it. That’s just fantastic, so.

Helping to Relax Tension

Katja (25:03):
Like if you are one of those kinds of people, who just walks around with their guts tied in knots all of the time. Like you just feel like all of the tension in your whole body is in these – I don’t want to say strings, because that’s not tensile enough – this paracord.

Ryn (25:26):
You’ve got your sinews active in here.

Katja (25:28):
Yeah. Coming from every part of your body and like joining in your gut. And then like being twisted and twisted and twisted into a tighter and tighter bunch. If you’re a person who walks around like that all the time…

Ryn (25:43):
And you know, this is a place where you can have an herb that its core seat of action in the body is in your digestive system. But it can still serve a nervine purpose. Like I wouldn’t even really talk about fennel as a nervine, except in the context of what you just described. Because there, that feeling of tension can be absolutely driven by stress, by anxiety, by mental state. And then the thing is that you can wind it back by addressing that physical expression of it. So, you can take fennel tea or tincture when you have that kind of tense, wrapped up gut situation. Feel the release there, and that will translate over to your emotional state.

Katja (26:28):
Well, because that’s like a feedback loop, right? Like you have a lot of tension in your emotional centers. And that is feeding into your gut, especially if you’re this kind of person who carries tension in the gut. So, now your gut is tensing up more and more. But your emotional centers are getting signals from your gut as your gut becomes tenser and tenser. And your brain is like well, that’s not normal. Something’s definitely wrong here. And so now you’re feeling more stress, and that’s of course feeding into the gut. And it’s this…

Ryn (27:01):
It keeps on going, yeah.

Katja (27:02):
total cycle. And so when you are able to relax any part of that cycle, you’re breaking the feedback loop. And that is a really important strategy.

Fennel Formulation & Digestion

Ryn (27:14):
Yeah. For sure. You know, with fennel it does have a sweetness. And that can actually be helpful if you’re putting a formula together, and you want to put that in. I can remember when I first started working with this herb in tea blends and being a little hesitant at first to put it together with certain flavors. Like to put fennel and peppermint together. I was like, are you sure? Is this a good idea? But now I’m like yeah, this is a great idea. This is a really good combination. They taste great together. I think it’s just if you try to imagine fennel from pork sausage and then like mint sauce from lamb. You’re kind of like I don’t know. Does that really work? But trust me, it totally does. And then fennel is great with catnip. It’s great with chamomile. It’s really excellent next to ginger. I feel like fennel could actually improve a lot of people’s experience with turmeric, if they were to include that. Because turmeric, it’s got the heat of ginger, but it has bitterness to it. And because of that, it does have a much more pronounced drying effect than ginger does. A lot of times folks hear about turmeric, and they’re like ah, yeah, I’m going to get this every day. It’s going to be super healthy for my inflammation. But again, it has that drying quality to it. And so if that’s where they were starting from, it could exacerbate that quite a lot. But if they were to do something as simple as have equal parts of turmeric and fennel in their formula, I think it would go a really long way to preventing that. And so this is looking at fennel as, the word is corrigent. And sometimes when I see people writing a definition of that term, it’s only about flavor, right? Corrigents are herbs that taste good and make your herbal formulas more appealing. That is totally valid and worthwhile and important. And the only herbs that work are the ones that people will actually take. But corrigent can also be looked at in this energetic pattern. And say we have a very drying herb. We have a moistening herb. We put them together, and we smooth over, or we reduce the intensity of that kind of effect. I don’t want to say neutralize here, because we’re not really trying to get to neutral points almost ever with these kinds of qualities. But to make them more applicable for more people and for longer term work with those kinds of plants too.

Katja (29:44):
I think that one thing that maybe we haven’t mentioned is the digestive aspect of fennel. You were talking about sausage and there’s a reason that they put fennel in sausage. And that is that it really does help when you are digesting heavier foods, so like a fatty, meaty meal. And it doesn’t have to only be fennel. Like we’re looking for herbs that have heat and movement in them. That carminative action is going to stimulate digestion. But so many sausage recipes do have fennel in them. And so delicious also. And again, you know, it’s not just because it tastes good. It’s also because it feels good.

Ryn (30:38):
Yeah. I think there are a few herbs that really are particularly good at improving your capacity to digest fats. And this can be important, and we found this to be important for a number of clients who are transitioning. Especially even just preparing more of your own food at home, being very cognizant of what fats and oils you’re adding into things. For many people that will reflect an increase in overall fat intake.

Katja (31:05):
A lot of people just aren’t getting enough fat. Because the message has been for so long like oh, all fat is bad. And that’s just not accurate. It never actually was, but there was some media crossed wires and whatever.

New Speaker (31:21):
Yeah, right. And so finding herbs to improve digestion. Yeah. That’s always a goal. But here specifically when we’re looking at, I always have trouble with fatty meals, you know. It just doesn’t work very well. They give me heavy feelings, or it takes a long time to process, or whatever happens. Then fennel I’ve found to be really handy for that. And also sage. And sage, I guess, has some similarity. It’s not sweet, but it has the warmth and the aromatics.

Katja (31:49):
Right. You could have a whole category there. It would also have like ginger and cayenne in it as well. Black pepper even.

Ryn (31:55):
Yeah. Those can help. And then burdock and centaury, where those are more cooling bitter herbs, but they have like that liver stimulation to them. And I guess what’s sort of emerging here really is that fennel, even though it’s not particularly bitter, it does have a good what we’d call a cholagogue effect of getting the liver activated, getting the bile moving. And there’s a couple herbs like that. You know, sassafras can be like that. Where it can get the bile moving, but it’s not obviously bitter. But it is really the exception, you know?

Katja (32:31):
Yeah. I mean, sage can do it too. But sage does have a distinct bitterness to it.

Ryn (32:38):
Yeah. Especially the longer you steep it, or in tincture too it comes through.

Katja (32:42):
Yeah. Like the bitterness is kind of covered by the warmth and the sage-iness of it. But it is there for sure. And you really don’t taste it in fennel. And yet the action is still there.

Ryn (32:55):
Yeah. Fennel is a seed. You can make comparisons with fennel to cumin seed, to anise seed, and to other aromatic seeds like that, which often make their way into spices.

Katja (33:13):
Yeah. Also caraway. That’s the you always leave out.

Ryn (33:17):
I always leave it out. I totally do. Yeah. I never liked rye bread, I’m sorry.

Katja (33:23):
I love caraway. Did you say coriander? That one falls in that category as well.

Ryn (33:28):
Yeah, for sure. Good stuff. And so you’ll see a lot of variations on like three seed tea or digestive seed tea, with fennel playing a key role there.

Katja (33:40):
And so this is going to be helpful, whether it is oh, I realize that I am dried out all the time, and I need to get more fat into my diet. And so you’re increasing fennel and maybe some of these other herbs as well, so that you’re digesting the fat better. Because there’s no point eating it, and then not actually also absorbing it to help you. But it’s also helpful if you’re like yeah, I did just go out for pizza. Yeah, I did. Yeah, I did go out and have a steak and cheese or whatever. And now I feel pretty uncomfortable, but it was delicious. You know, it’s okay to work with herbs to make that feel better. Like absolutely.

Ryn (34:26):
Yeah, absolutely. I really feel like fennel is a particularly good one for that like I got glutened situation. Which is sort of different from what you were saying with the more fat focus. But still like you had an allergen. You had these irritation reactions. And you just imagine like red, raw, irritated tissue. You want to soothe. You want to calm. You want to help things flow and move. And yeah, fennel’s accomplishing that through your GI tract. Cool. All right. Well, so thanks for listening as always. I hope that you are inspired now to go and do some experiments with meadowsweet or with fennel. You can put them together. You can see how they taste. These pairs that we’ve been doing in our A to Z series.

Katja (35:14):
They’re only pairs, because they’re next to each other on the shelf.

Ryn (35:16):
That what’s up. Yeah. But it’s been fascinating to see kind of what happens when you just put two herbs next to each other and talk about them. You start to mentally crosslink. And maybe there are situations where they could help each other, or they could work toward a common goal.

Katja (35:30):
And the number of times that it has been two things that sit next to each other and also taste good together has been actually pretty funny. Yeah.

Ryn (35:39):
Yeah. That’s pretty cool. So, thanks for listening. And we’ll be back again next time with some more Holistic Herbalism podcast for you. Until then take care of yourselves. Take care of each other. Drink some seedy tea.

Katja (35:53):
Have some seedy tea.

Ryn (35:54):
Yeah. And I don’t know what else to say.

Katja (35:59):
No, there’s another one. You always say another one after that.

Ryn (36:01):
I do. I always have another one at the end.

Katja (36:04):
Well at any rate, have a really good day.

Ryn (36:07):
Thank you. Perfect. Leave it in. Bye everybody.

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