Podcast 200: Herbs A-Z: Lycium & Matricaria

Tonight we’re talking about two of our favorite herbs, and two of the tastier herbs in our materia medica.

Goji berry, Lycium barbarum / L. chinense, is an excellent post-workout adaptogen. It’s a very good herb to consume as food, whether a simple handful of dried berries, included in a trail mix, cooked into rice, or decocted into dissolution in a broth. It is famous as an herb for building Blood in TCM, and also for supporting blood vessels from the perspective of modern phytochemistry.

Chamomile – and we’re talking primarily about “German” chamomile, Matricaria recutita – is quite possibly the herb we mention most often! It’s definitely a favorite, with its light relaxant aromatics and its deep antispasmodic bitters. Chamomile is a panacea of nuances: depending on how you prepare and apply it, it can serve a myriad of different functions.

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.

If you have a moment, it would help us a lot if you could subscribe, rate, & review our podcast wherever you listen. This helps others find us more easily. Thank you!!

Our theme music is “Wings” by Nicolai Heidlas.


Episode Transcript

Katja (00:14):
Hi, I’m Katja.

Ryn (00:14):
And I’m Ryn.

Katja (00:15):
And we’re here at Commonwealth Holistic Herbalism in Boston, Massachusetts.

Ryn (00:20):
And on the internet everywhere thanks to the power of the podcast. The power of 200 podcasts.

Katja (00:25):

Ryn (00:26):
Well, 200 episodes.

Katja (00:27):
200 episodes. You know, the number in your podcast app is probably bigger than 200, but we are not counting the times that we went on vacation and replayed one of our favorite episodes. We are talking about 200 unique episodes.

Ryn (00:44):
That’s right. That’s right. So if you’ve been with us from the beginning, then thanks for sticking with us. And if you’re brand new, then welcome and check out the back catalog. okay?

Katja (00:55):
Yeah. It’ll keep you busy for a minute.

Ryn (00:56):
Yeah. Today’s topic is one of our favorite berries and one of our favorite flowers. Two different plants, goji and chamomile. Pretty good stuff.

Katja (01:07):
Pretty good stuff.

Ryn (01:08):
Tastes good together. A little sweet perhaps, but we could make it work.

Katja (01:11):
Yeah, no. That could work together. Yeah.

Ryn (01:13):
Before we jump in though, I just want to let y’all know that if you like our podcast, you’ll probably love our online courses. They’re taught primarily by video lessons, and they’re designed for you to progress at your own pace with a lot of support as you go along. But since you like podcasts, you should also know that we provide MP3 versions of all of the videos in the courses. So, you can take them with you wherever you go. Even places where you don’t have data service.

Katja (01:37):
That’s right. Yeah. So, if you learn best by listening, like to podcasts, then you will love all of our online courses, because you can make them a totally listening experience. Or maybe you like to listen to podcasts sometimes, and you like to watch videos sometimes. Okay, you’re going to love our courses too, because they’re all video.

Ryn (01:59):
Yeah. That’s what’s up. Those are for you. And occasionally people ask us if we do a patreon or do we do other stuff like that. And the answer is no. If you want to support our podcast, the best way is to buy yourself some courses. You can learn some stuff. We can pay the bills. Everybody wins.

Katja (02:16):
Yes. But you can get them. You can get them online. The URL is, are you ready? It is online.commonwealthherbs.com. Online.commonwealthherbs.com.

Ryn (02:32):
That’s where Commonwealth Herbs is online. All right, everybody. One more thing before we get started. This is our reclaimer. This is where we remind you that we are not doctors. We are herbalist and holistic health educators.

Katja (02:45):
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 (02:57):
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 (03:13):
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 (03:24):
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 it was discussed on the internet or prescribed by a physician, that’s always your choice to make. All right. Goji berries.

Lycium barbarum: Goji Berry, A Strengthening Adaptogen

Katja (03:47):
You know, my actual earliest thoughts around goji berries are when I had my clinical office in the same building where you were teaching martial arts. And you used to teach many sessions in a row, especially on Saturdays. And in between the sessions you would have like five minutes. And you would run into my clinical office that had a big apothecary on the wall, and you would grab all the goji berries. And the funny thing is that obviously I cared about goji berries before this happened, because I had them on the wall.

Ryn (04:26):
In a big jar too.

Katja (04:27):
In a great big jar. I had big jar of them. But this experience of you coming in and grabbing them as sustenance is so large in my experience of you and of goji berries, that it has basically rewritten anything that came before it. And also, I think that it’s a good way to think about goji berries. That high exertion, sustenance kind of thing that you were grabbing for in between these high energy sessions.

Ryn (05:04):
Yeah. You can think about goji in a couple of ways for strengthening effects. One of them is your jaw. Because if you grab yourself a good handful of goji berries, and you try to chew through all of them at once, you will get stronger jaw muscles, I tell you.

Katja (05:21):
That’s definitely true.

Ryn (05:23):
That’s good stuff. Yeah. They’re pretty chewy. But no, seriously, these are considered strengthening from a number of perspectives within herbalism. If we look in Chinese medicine, these are categorized as a blood tonic. And so these would be one of the herbs that are there to build up the blood and help you to have more of that kind of circulating warmth and vigor inside of the body. And of course, nowadays they’re classed among the adaptogens.

Katja (05:51):
Yes. And you know, we were just in Q&A. So, we have live Q&A sessions every Tuesday and Thursday for all of our students enrolled in our online programs. So, if you want to be enrolled in our online programs, you can join us live every Tuesday and Thursday. But my point here is that in Thursday’s Q&A session, we were having a really big discussion about adaptogens. And who decides if something is an adaptogen or not. And how did things get on the list to be adaptogens.

Ryn (06:20):
And does angelica qualify or not?

Katja (06:22):
Absolutely. It absolutely does. I deem angelica an adaptogen for sure. And so I’m not going to recreate that whole discussion, because it was like 20 minutes of discussion. But all of our Q&A sessions are archived. So, at any time that you take online courses with us, you get access to them. And so actually, even if you weren’t there on Thursday night for that discussion, you can watch the recording of it. But the concept here is that, you know, adaptogens are sort of late addition to the categories of herbs. And that addition was made specifically because people were looking for something that would fill a specific need. It was a specific need of capitalism. It was the need to get workers to produce more without giving them more. How do we get more output without more input?

Ryn (07:23):
And the real answer is you don’t.

Katja (07:25):
You don’t, right?

Ryn (07:27):
But in the meantime, you can rack up some adaptogen credit card debt.

Katja (07:32):
Yeah. And so adaptogens, so that’s like kind of the first thing. And then the second thing is that we often use this kind of credit card debt analogy with adaptogens. And I think it’s an important analogy simply because our culture is still in that place. How do I get more with less? How do I get more output with less input? And the reality is that we need to sleep. We need to rest. We need to daydream. We need to do nothing. That is real. That is human. But because that is our culture’s sort of starting point, when herbalist started talking a lot about adaptogens, immediately people were like hey, I can take adaptogens to help me do more with less. And then the herbal community started saying, hold on a second, that’s like a credit card. You’re going to have to pay it off at some point.

Ryn (08:25):
Right. And all of this really applies most strongly to the stimulating adaptogens. So Asian ginseng, high doses of American ginseng for that matter, eleuthero root, rhodiola, those ones in particular are where you need to be cautious that you’re not just taking large doses of adaptogen essentially as a stimulant. And the good feeling you’re having is that stimulation, but you’re kind of on borrowed time. Yeah. Other adaptogens aren’t quite so subject to that problem. You know, I’m thinking about tulsi, about jiaogulan, and I would put goji more in this group. They’re not outright stimulating in such a way that they’re going to cause you to overextend yourself.

Goji as Nourishment

Katja (09:06):
It’s more like any stimulation that comes from them is very mild, because it’s coming from refilling the reserves that have been used. These tend to be nourishing. This subcategory of adaptogens tends to be nourishing and a little bit slower acting. On one hand slower acting in terms of if you’re recovering from long illness or something like that. On the other hand, when you’re just stuffing some goji berries in your mouth, that is nourishment, right, like actual nourishment.

Ryn (09:43):
Yeah. And I mean look, there are some sugars in there. So, it’s like other dried fruit, it’s going to have some of that going on. But goji are perhaps a little more impressive than raisins, you know, in many ways.

Katja (09:57):
I mean, raisins are pretty cool, but…

Ryn (09:58):
Raisins are pretty cool. I throw them into a decoction now and again, yeah. But goji are very interesting in that way. And you know, mentioning decoction, I don’t want to slide past that too quick. When you throw goji into a decoction and leave them in there long enough, they essentially dissolve. And in some perspectives, that’s the indication that you’ve cooked them long enough. Yeah. So, when you add them to a broth or a soup or something like that, then that may be their fate. That may be what happens ultimately. So, that’s a good way to work with them. We also do like to cook them into food. You know, if you make some rice, you throw in a handful of goji berries. You stir them in there. They’ll get plump, they’ll get soft. They’ll again, kind of dissolve as you eat them in that format. But it’s kind of the same as taking your decoction. It’s just now in the form of your goji rice.

Katja (10:49):
Yeah. I really enjoy putting a little bit of dried fruit in rice. I think probably Persian cuisine is where that comes up the most, or at least where I’m most aware of it. Um, but I bet other cultures have recipes for that kind of thing too. But whether you have a specific recipe or whether you’re just making rice and you toss some goji berries in, it’s delicious either way. So, don’t feel like you have to have a plan or anything. It is definitely okay to just make some rice. Toss a little garlic if in if you want to. But toss some goji berries in. It’s really delicious, and it’s a really good way to get them into your day.

Ryn (11:34):
Yeah. I also like them straight out of the jar or mixed into like an herbal trail mix. I might have mentioned this on the pod before, but there was a time several years ago now where we took a month and only had food from within about a hundred miles of us. Or specifically from two different farms that we were getting almost all our food from. But we did make exceptions for herbs and spices, and we called it the Marco Polo Rule. And so at the time I was going along, and I was like uh-oh. I kind of live on trail mix for part of my day, so what am I going to have now? And I ended up making an herbs-only trail mix, which was like goji berry, schisandra, milk thistle seeds.

Katja (12:20):
Did you put pumpkin seeds in there?

Ryn (12:22):
I probably should have. So, let’s say I did. A couple other things, but goji was definitely kind of the star player in that one.

Katja (12:32):
I bet you put cacao nibs in.

Ryn (12:33):
Cacao nibs, yes. That’s another good player. Yeah.

Katja (12:37):
Well, you know, you really like cacao and goji together.

Ryn (12:40):
Oh, they’re so good together.

Katja (12:41):
That’s a combination that you do a lot.

Ryn (12:43):
They are really good together. Yeah. I mean, even if you’re making some hot chocolate, that’s a great chance to throw your goji berries into it. Let them cook down. Yeah.

Katja (12:54):
You know, you were talking before about in Chinese medicine, and the idea of building the blood.

Ryn (13:01):
Capital B blood, right.

Katja (13:03):
Right. Right.

Blood Building Berries

Ryn (13:04):
So, that’s not just the substance of the blood in your body, or the modern biophysical understanding of it. But it’s also a capacity, you might say energy. But it’s not mystical, it’s functional, you know?

Katja (13:19):
So, I wanted to talk about that from a western perspective, because our ideas around goji in the west also have a lot to do with blood. I mean, of course we’ve been talking about it as an adaptogen, but it doesn’t stop there. We also have a lot of blood, you know, cardiovascular-related actions going on here. And in particular a strengthening of the capillaries. And you see this, and this part is kind of important. You see this in all of the red berries and in all of the dark blue berries.

Ryn (13:56):
Right, yeah. The whole like red, blue, purple part of the spectrum.

Katja (13:59):
Right. So, if you’re thinking wow, I want some of those actions of goji berries. But wow, they cost a kabillion dollars a pound, because they are expensive. Cranberries, you know, they are a nice red berry. This time of year where we are, you can get ’em fresh. And you can get them dried pretty much anywhere, anytime. And so, that kind of blood action, that anti-inflammatory action in the cardiovascular system. The support for the capillaries and for the small blood vessels, so that they retain their integrity. All of those kinds of actions actually are coming across the whole spectrum of red, blue, purple berries.

Ryn (14:47):
Yeah. Blueberries, blackberries, the whole range. And many of those are carried in those pigments. That’s why we’re talking about them from color, right? So, the same chemical that gives your berry its deep red color is a chemical that helps to support the integrity of your blood vessels.

Katja (15:08):
And it is found in goji berries.

Ryn (15:10):
Yeah. It’s right in there. About cost, one thing that I should maybe do another check on but has always been true historically, has been that you get a better price on your goji berries when you get ’em from an herb supplier than from the specialty aisle at the market.

Katja (15:28):
Yes. Yes.

Ryn (15:30):
Yeah. So check.

Katja (15:32):
I think that is still true.

Ryn (15:33):
Yeah. Check on Mountain Rose or check on another herb supplier and compare the price by pound to the pound price for some of the fancier ones at the grocery store. They’re not really fancier.

Katja (15:45):
They’re not fancier.

Ryn (15:46):
They’re packaged more, you know.

Katja (15:47):
Yeah. I think it really is about the packaging, because honestly, I have always found the ones that we get from Mountain Rose or from herb suppliers to be like a little plumper, a little nicer.

Ryn (15:58):
Yeah. There are differences in consistency. It’s about drying. It’s about how long it was stored and all that kind of stuff.

Katja (16:06):
Yeah. I mean, when they are selling them to be medicinally active, they are fresher. They are higher quality. They grade the quality of herbs, and medicinally active versus what they put in a tea bag versus what goes into a spice jar versus whatever.

Ryn (16:26):
Yeah. Sometimes people ask us if you can make a tincture out goji. And you can, but I don’t think it’s very strong at all, honestly. Even in comparison to something like hawthorn tincture. I feel like Hawthorne is a little more medicinal in that format.

Katja (16:45):
I agree.

Ryn (16:46):
And I think this is largely just because there is that sugar content left over in the goji berries, when there’s very minimal sugar in a hawthorn berry. And so when you do your tincture, that’s part of what comes out. And it kind of fills up some space in your liquid menstruum.

Katja (17:01):
That could have been filled up with other constituents. Yeah.

Ryn (17:03):
Yeah. So, I don’t really love tincture of goji. You know, they’re food. Eat them.

Katja (17:08):
Yeah. I mean, would you tincture a raisin, you know?

Ryn (17:12):
Only for fun. Only to see what happens.

Matricaria recutita: Chamomile in Cookies & the Roman Kind

Katja (17:15):
Right. Yeah, no. Definitely eat them. Yeah. Well, you know, you can eat chamomile too.

Ryn (17:24):
You can eat chamomile flowers. You can eat them, especially when they’re fresh off the plant. It’s actually supremely delightful to eat a fresh chamomile flower. They are tasty and good.

Katja (17:34):
All right. Well I was thinking about cookies, but…

Ryn (17:36):
Okay. Yes. That’s another excellent way to eat your chamomile flowers. Yeah.

Katja (17:41):
I have a recipe on our website, commonwealth herbs.com. And you can just go on the website and put chamomile or cookie or both in the search bar. Oh, wait a minute. He’s going to put it in the show notes. You don’t even have to do that. You can just get the link out of the show notes.

Ryn (17:58):
You might be looking at it already. Yeah. They’re so good. And we do these usually with chopped up honey-candied ginger pieces into there. So, that’s super simple, right? You take ginger root. You chop it up into bits. You put it in a jar. You pour honey on it. You wait a while. You can keep it in the fridge, whatever.

Katja (18:15):
While you’re waiting, if you need the cookies sooner, it’s okay to use store-bought candied ginger. That’s fine.

Ryn (18:20):
Oh, for sure. Yeah. But it is kind of cool when you make your own.

Katja (18:23):
And it tastes better, honestly. Yeah. So anyway, okay. So, it’s cookies. Mine are made with almond meal – they can be made with whatever you make your cookies with – with a significant amount of powdered chamomile flowers, and a significant amount of candy ginger. But wait, we don’t actually have to stop there. We also could, if we wanted to, we could add goji bees into the cookie. It would be okay.

Ryn (18:50):
Oh, yeah. That would be lovely.

Katja (18:52):
Chamomile, ginger, goji berry cookie.

Ryn (18:54):
Now we’re talking. I might throw some pecans in there. Oh, I’m sorry. I’m sorry. Pecans.

Katja (18:59):
Thank you.

Ryn (19:01):
I know there were like 50 of you out there who were hackled up, but…

Katja (19:05):
Their pecans. Pecans.

Ryn (19:06):
Okay. I love pecans. They’re really tasty.

Katja (19:09):

Ryn (19:10):
It’s one of my favorite nuts, is the pecan.

Katja (19:11):
Oh my goodness.

Ryn (19:14):
I eat them when I hang out with my friend who is a toucan.

Katja (19:19):
Just don’t encourage him. Any of you out there who are laughing, please stop. Please stop.

Ryn (19:23):
I’m sorry. Toucan.

Katja (19:25):

Ryn (19:28):
Yeah, right. Sure, sure. Look, chamomile, okay. I have to admit something. I have a deep failing as an herbalist, which is that I have not done a deep dive into Roman chamomile, Chamaemelum. And you’ve never kept it around.

Katja (19:49):
I have also never, because…

Ryn (19:51):
And I’ve never heard you even mention it.

Katja (19:52):

Ryn (19:53):
We’re not interested. Is it because of your whole thing with Italy? Or is this another?

Katja (19:58):
I have genuinely just not… okay. Listen, I just don’t want to go to Italy. I don’t know. I just don’t want to.

Ryn (20:07):
It’s fine. There’s a whole world. You don’t have to go everyplace.

Katja (20:09):
There’s a whole world.

Ryn (20:10):
There’s lots of other people going there.

Katja (20:12):
Yes. So many people go there. But then again, Northern Italy maybe. It is mountainous there. I just like mountainy places is what I’m telling you.

Ryn (20:20):
But you have spent way more time in Germany. Yes. And so, Matricaria here, this is called German chamomile. Look, the two plants are extremely similar. There are maybe some minor variations in safety profile when we’re talking about enormous doses, or about essential oils, or other things like that.

Katja (20:36):
Listen, the essential oil of chamomile is so expensive. You’re probably never going to come across it in your life anyway. Like, it’s really, really expensive. It’s very hard to get your hands on. And you don’t need it. Like listen, if you’ve been with us for all 199 episodes before today, probably you know everything I have to say about chamomile, because I talk about it so much.

Ryn (21:00):
I could do an episode tally. And it would probably be like, you know, 87% of episodes mentioned chamomile.

Katja (21:06):
It probably would.

Ryn (21:06):
And 73% of those mentions also include ginger in the next sentence.

Katja (21:10):
Right, yes.

Ryn (21:11):
Yeah, okay.

If All I Had Was Chamomile

Katja (21:12):
But here’s the thing. If I had to… And I’m really not kidding. I’m absolutely serious here. If I had to, I could base my entire practice only on chamomile. If chamomile were the only herb I had, I could do most of what I have to do.

Ryn (21:37):
Because there’s nuance to it, right?

Katja (21:38):
Because there’s nuance to it. It gives you bitterness. So, all the things that you need bitter for: digestion, relaxation, like whatever, okay.

Ryn (21:47):
But it only does it if you prepare it right? Like if you make a long, strong infusion, or if you do a decoction, or if you make your tincture right, you get the bitterness from it. But a short, steep of like one teabag. Nope. You’re not going to feel it at all.

Katja (21:58):
You’re not get it, yeah. Okay. But you will get a lot of volatile oils. So, all the things you can do with volatile oils there, from their antiseptic action to respiratory actions, actions on the skin. And then it has this amazing relaxant capacity, both in the nervous system but also in the musculature. So, if we’re dealing with tension, so many different kinds of tension, we can work with chamomile there. We get vulnerary action. And so whether we’re talking about topical vulnerary requirements, because you’re trying to heal a wound. Or whether we’re talking about internal for like ulcers or irritation lower in the gut. Well, ulcers in the stomach or ulcers lower in the gut, you know, like whatever. Or any other kind of irritation, we’re back to chamomile, right? It’s doing so much work there. Yes, of course there are lots of places where I would be like oh, but what I really wish I had was this. Absolutely. But if I had to say Katja, you can only have one herb for the rest of your life, it really would be chamomile. It really would.

Ryn (23:14):
It is pretty lovely.

Katja (23:15):
And you can do so much work together with chamomile.

Ryn (23:20):
Yeah. The wound care stuff is worth mentioning. We both really kind of got an elevation of respect for chamomile after hearing a story from a friend of ours who… It’s a long story. But they were overseas and was in a serious like injury, a motorcycle accident basically.

Katja (23:40):
Kind of in a remote area.

Ryn (23:42):
Right. And some folks there knew what they were doing with herbs, and so they were working with chamomile to help the wound heal. And there’s a few detours in the story where they actually tried going back to the U.S. To get high definitive care, and they were told you’re probably going to lose that foot.

Katja (23:58):
Yeah. They wanted to amputate it. And she said forget that. I’m getting back on an airplane and going back there, because they were doing a pretty good job.

Ryn (24:06):
Yeah. Returned to the community. And folks went at it with chamomile every day. This isn’t like set it and forget it. This was like, you know, several times a day redressing the wound, keeping it clean, and all of that stuff.

Katja (24:19):
Yeah. Really intensive nursing care. It’s not just the chamomile here. It is the chamomile and the intensive nursing care together. But that was their primary herb that they were working with, and they didn’t have pharmaceuticals available to them. And she’s fine. She climbs mountains on that foot.

Ryn (24:41):
Yeah. Wilderness educator.

Katja (24:43):
Yeah. It’s pretty amazing.

Ryn (24:44):
Yeah. So, you know, that’s a situation where you can look at a plant that’s so ubiquitous that people think that it’s weak. You can get chamomile tea everywhere. So people are like ah, that’s not medicine. That’s just something that tastes nice after your belly’s full.

Katja (24:58):
It’s just what you get after dinner, yeah.

Ryn (25:00):
And first of all, come on, like relieving a painful belly is medicine, right?

Katja (25:06):
Yeah, like that’s good enough right there.

Ryn (25:08):
That’s herbal tea. We’re making it happen. But then you hear a story like this one, and you think okay. All right. So we’ve kept a limb on somebody we might not have. That’s pretty impressive.

Katja (25:19):
And like listen, I mean, this story was more complicated than we went through the quick version there. We are definitely not saying that if you’ve been in a terrible accident, you should just not go to the ER.

Ryn (25:28):
Yeah, just slap a teabag on it and call it a day. No. That’s not the story at all.

Katja (25:30):
That’s not what we’re saying. This is a more complicated issue than that. But it’s still a really important, helpful story, simply because people write chamomile off. And they think that gentle means weak, and that’s just not the case. That’s not the case at all. So, I do really like a sort of flashy headline-grabbing example like that just to remind people that like nope. This plant is really, really powerful, in fact.

Growing Your Own & Combining with Others

Ryn (26:06):
Yeah. As far as growing it goes, it’s not impossible. But if you’re used to having, you know, a gallon size jar of chamomile flowers.

Katja (26:19):
Every couple months.

Ryn (26:19):
And then you try to grow your own, you’re going to spend a lot of time harvesting tiny flowers. You’re going to dry them. They’re going to shrink on you, you know?

Katja (26:28):
You should try it. You should definitely try it, because you will have a lot more appreciation for growing chamomile. Because on one hand it’s quite prolific. It flowers and flowers and flowers. But on the other hand, you really have to grow a lot of it to get the kind of quantity that you would drink in a month or whatever.

Ryn (26:53):
Yeah. It’ll also raise your appreciation for when you have an order of chamomile that’s just flowers. And say okay, this was probably separated by hand.

Katja (27:02):
Yeah. Often with those, they make these… It looks a little bit like a miniature rake. I mean, you hold it on a handle, and the handle is short. It’s like a box with a rake on the bottom. And you sort of rake through the flowers, and it pops the flowers off, and then the stems go through. It’s a device that people have been using for eons. They used to just be made out of wood, and now they have metal tines. But they’re still used, yeah.

Ryn (27:36):
But honestly, even if you just had a pot in your house or on a porch or something, and you grow one plant. And when it’s at its peak in the flowering season, you come by, and you eat four or five flowers right off of it every day.

Katja (27:50):
Yeah. It is pretty amazing.

Ryn (27:51):
That’s pretty nice to do, you know. And it’s a good way to appreciate that plant a little bit differently. This plant, like a lot of our aromatics, there is really something different about it when you have it fresh. I think about this in the same way with catnip. Where dried catnip is fantastic, and tinctured catnip is amazing, and I love them. But you taste that leaf right off the plant, and it’s like whoa, hang on. This is a whole new thing. And with chamomile flower it’s the same.

Katja (28:18):
Yes. If you are going to grow it, don’t put the seed out until it’s really warm. The soil really needs to be in the sixties. If you seed it too early, it won’t germinate. And then you’ll be like, I can’t do it. But if you just wait a little longer. Even though you’ve planted everything else, just wait a little longer before you put your chamomile in. And if you do that, it will sprout and no maintenance at all. I mean, it’s like so easy to take care of. It’s just the trick is you have to seed it later. This is probably not as big of an issue if you live in the south as if you live in the north. But the soil temperature really needs to be consistently pretty warm before you put the seeds in.

Ryn (29:04):
Yeah. In terms of combinations, I find chamomile to be really helpful when I want to soften the edges off of something a little bit. So, if I’m thinking about drinking tea of like monarda or thyme or even garlic. You put in a little bit of chamomile, and it makes those other herbs that are so hot and feel kind of sharp, it makes them much more tolerable. So that can be handy if you’ve either been drinking a lot of these hot aromatics for a while, because you had a respiratory infection or you’re trying to prevent one. Or you’ve just kind of gotten overwhelmed by them. Or maybe you have sort of a hot constitution, but you still want the action of these plants. You can mix them half and half with chamomile and take it that way. And that’s not just for tea, but this is also extremely helpful when you’re doing steams. And we have referred on the pod before to during our rounds of covid, it was pretty much like two or three times a day we would do a steam usually together.

Katja (30:09):
Yeah. And you can’t do thyme that many times a day, or monarda or oregano, all the sharp ones. It’s just too intense. You’ve got to switch it up.

Ryn (30:18):
Yeah. It starts to irritate your sinuses. So, doing a chamomile steam or rotating with lavender or something like that, it can make it a lot more tolerable. And then that enables you to keep at it, to not stop doing your steams.

Katja (30:33):
Right. It just makes it more comfortable.

Ryn (30:35):

Katja (30:37):
Well, chamomile. I mean, we could pretty much talk for the next six hours just about chamomile actually. It really is, I think, one of the most important herbs in any apothecary.

Ryn (30:52):
But why don’t we wrap it up for today. So, if you enjoyed these quick, off the cuff, just off the top of our head profiles.

Katja (31:02):
Love stories. Love letters to goji and chamomile.

Ryn (31:06):
There we go. That’s more what they are. But if you like them, then you should check out our Materia Medica course. This is the one in which we profile our individual herby friends in detail, getting to know each one of them in their own unique complexity. This is basically the foundation of herbal practice for all of the other work you’re going to do. Whether you’re talking about medicine making, about making good formulas, you’ve got to know the individual parts before you can formulate. And then all the aspects of clinical herbalism, they really require you to know your plants, and to know them way beyond this herb is good for headaches, and that herb is good for cramps, you know?

Katja (31:40):
Yeah. To know them like you know a person. To know them in complexity and in detail, not just to know a couple things about them.

Ryn (31:48):
Yeah. So to do that, we incorporate insights from traditional practices from the west and the rest of the world as well. From science, from contemporary work from our peers and other herbalist active now and around the world. And also our own experiences plus those of our students and our clients, which is now a lot of people.

Katja (32:09):
It’s a lot of people

Ryn (32:10):
So look, studying the plants is a lifelong task, and it’s really important for you to get started on the right foot. Especially not to get boxed in and again, to run into that problem of this is an herb for the respiratory system.

Katja (32:23):
Right. And then you can’t turn that herb to work in any other way. No, really learning the sort of full spectrum of nuance of each plant, I think it’s the most important thing.

Ryn (32:37):
Yeah. Plus, if you enroll in this course, you get everything that comes with enrollment in any of our courses. And that includes lifetime access to current and future course material. So, if we make updates later, you get ’em.

Katja (32:50):
Yeah. For free magically in your account. You don’t even have to ask.

Ryn (32:53):
You get access to twice weekly live Q&A sessions with us, open discussion threads integrated into every lesson where you can get immediate feedback on your questions. We’ve got a really active student community. We’ve got study guides. We’ve got quizzes. We’ve got capstone assignments, so that you can prove you learned it.

Katja (33:12):
So, we try to put in things in every format: video, audio, print. We try to get exercises going that will stimulate all the different channels of learning. So, you can choose the stuff that is going to engage you the most in terms of your learning style. Whether that’s getting into the kitchen and just making stuff, or whether that’s reading things, or whatever you like to do best. We try to include exercises of all the different varieties, so that it’s easy for you to internalize what you’re trying to learn.

Ryn (33:49):
Yeah. So, if that sounds interesting to you, then check that out. There’s a link right there in the show notes. But you can also go to online.commonwealthherbs.com and find all of our courses. Okay. Well, that’s it for this week. We’ll be back again next time with even more herbs for you. Until then, take care of yourselves. Take care of each other. Drink some chamomile tea.

Katja (34:13):
Drink some chamomile tea.

Ryn (34:15):
And eat so many goji berries that your jaw gets really strong. Bye.

Katja (34:22):


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