Commonwealth Podcast For Holistic Herbalism

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Conversations and Q&A with clinical herbalists Katja Swift & Ryn Midura of the CommonWealth Center for Holistic Herbalism.


  • Four Herbs for Moms

    Four Herbs for Moms

    09/05/2020 Duración: 55min

    Happy mother’s day, 2020! The truth is, any herb could be an herb for moms, because not all moms are alike, in their needs or their preferences. These four, though – linden, dandelion, yarrow, and violet – are really worth knowing and sharing with the mothers in your life.These plants are abundant, so you know you’re being sustainable and responsible. They’re resilient, and can pass that resilience on to us when we work with them. And they’re especially relevant to a mom’s life in the world today, too! Linden can help us release tension in the body and in the mind, and soothe frazzled nerves. Dandelion is irrepressible and sunny, and provides rooted nourishment when you’re feeling trampled. Yarrow is a warrior’s herb, and sometimes moms need to put on their armor and go to battle – whether that’s for the kids, or against them!

  • Where Do We Go From Here, Corona?

    Where Do We Go From Here, Corona?

    04/05/2020 Duración: 01h07min

    The battle’s done, and we kind-of won… Well, actually, the battle’s not entirely done either. But things are certainly shifting into a different mode. So, here are our top five everyday things you can do to stay healthy as this pandemic shifts into a new phase.Eat good food.Get more sleep.Move your body.Get herbs into your everyday life.Do an herbal steam occasionally (or frequently).Sounds pretty boring, right? But everyday stuff should be boring – because it’s for every day. And that foundation of good habits is what everything else depends on.We don’t know exactly what form the next crisis that affects each of us will take. It could be the same old ‘rona, it could be a new pandemic, it could be a natural disaster or something entirely personal. To prepare for the broadest array of possibilities, we need to support the broadest forms of resilience.Herbs discussed include: nettle, calendula, reishi, angelica, elecampane; sage, oregano, thyme, & other aromatics; hibiscus, rosehips, sumac, & other “vit

  • Six Herbs for COVID Anxiety

    Six Herbs for COVID Anxiety

    25/04/2020 Duración: 48min

    The pandemic has got all of us in a heightened state of alert. The news changes fast, stories come and go before we can fully process them, and every day there’s another set of statistics that are hard to mentally translate into real human lives. It’s stressful. Even if we’re not actively doomscrolling through Twitter, this background noise of fear and worry is elevated. So, this week, we’re sharing some of our favorite herbs for COVID anxiety – for any kind of anxiety, really, but specifically the ones we ourselves have been relying on lately.Ryn has been making a daily tea for himself with st john’s wort and friends, and has found it helpful in steadying out emotional peaks & valleys. He’s also been making sure to get some preparation of marshmallow in every day, because as a person with a dry constitution, it’s easy for him to get frazzled and frayed when anxiety is elevated. And when things are most acute, he’s turned to kava for a quick and comprehensive relaxant effect, often in the form of a rich h

  • How To Practice Herbalism Every Day

    How To Practice Herbalism Every Day

    04/04/2020 Duración: 49min

    Last week we urged you to look at learning herbalism like learning a language or instrument – something that requires daily practice. This week, we’re sharing some specific practices you can do to build your herbal skills on a daily basis!You can take lessons in herbalism, and study to learn – but the key here is, a little bit each day is better than “a lot” which happens only rarely. Building a habit of reading a few pages of an herb book, watching a half hour video lesson, or listening to an audio lesson on your commute every day will serve you well.Another way is to make space to experience your herbs daily. Drink tea, take tincture, taste them, smell them. Even better, do this while you’re studying to enhance your learning, to root it in your body and give your mind a touchpoint to return to. This strengthens memory!A helpful motto (especially for those who are allergic to regimentation) is “Don’t miss an opportunity.” Whenever something new-to-you comes up, take the chance to come up with an herbal plan

  • Learn Herbalism Like an Instrument or Language

    Learn Herbalism Like an Instrument or Language

    31/03/2020 Duración: 51min

    Herbalism is experiential: you have to DO it to KNOW it.It’s like learning to play a musical instrument – you’re going to sound bad at first! That’s necessary. If you refuse to play anything that isn’t perfect, you’ll never play anything. In herbalism, if you wait until you know everything there is to know, or until you’re 100% sure “it’s going to work”, you’ll be waiting all your life!Learning herbalism is also a process similar to that of language acquisition. No one can absorb all the grammar and tone of a new language without speaking it. As a beginner you’ll stumble over words, conjugate wrongly, and need a lot of slow, patient repetition from native speakers. As a new herbalist, you’ll mix tea blends that don’t taste good, or try to make a tincture that just doesn’t come out strong enough. That’s ok! In fact, it’s necessary for you to make mistakes to learn well.A lot of hesitation and uncertainty is driven by negative self-talk, so identifying and quarantining those thoughts is an important skill to de

  • Herbal Home Nursing Basics

    Herbal Home Nursing Basics

    22/03/2020 Duración: 01h09min

    It’s not just coronavirus, there’s a lot going on right now! Between the usual circulating strains of flu, some spring colds, and the stirrings of allergy season, plenty of folks are feeling rough. But it’s up to all of us to reduce strain on the medical system right now, so it’s more important than ever that we learn some herbal home nursing basics. These skills can help us to deal with minor issues on our own, so the health care workers can focus where they’re really needed.Staying hydrated is super important, and herbs can help the water to “stick” much better than plain water on its own. Managing fever is another key function that herbs can support – and these don’t need to be “fancy” herbs, either! Garlic, lemon, ginger, and thyme are enough to cover a lot of bases. A dry cough with a hot fever might mean COVID-19, or it might not, but either way, common herbs and kitchen items can help to relieve the symptom and address the root cause of it.The core of herbal home nursing basics is to keep vigilant, or

  • A Week In The Life Of Two Herbalists

    A Week In The Life Of Two Herbalists

    15/03/2020 Duración: 55min

    Whew! There’s a lot going on right now. Between coronavirus, the election cycle, and the approach of spring, we’ve been extra busy and under more stress than usual. This week we wanted to share with you some of the herbs we’ve been relying on to get through. It’s a bit of a smorgasbord!First up, a friend of ours is undergoing laser eye surgery, and we have some herbs to help make the healing process as quick & comfortable as possible. Supplements, compresses, and gentle healing sprays are all part of the plan.Then, there’s been a death in Ryn’s family – his grandfather passed away. There’s grief, as well as other emotions, to process and work through. There’s also the funeral! With family & friends coming in from across the country and the world, we’re looking at a large gathering – and of course this is during the coronavirus outbreak. So we’re thinking a lot about community immunity, and daily active immune defense measures we can put into place. Herbs are coming in as steams, decoctions, infusions,

  • Herbs for Coronavirus Preparedness

    Herbs for Coronavirus Preparedness

    03/03/2020 Duración: 01h29min

    The new pandemic coronavirus, COVID-19, is on everyone’s minds lately. As herbalists, we’ve been asked a lot about our thoughts on working with herbs for coronavirus preparedness, so that’s our topic today!First, we try to understand the virus and some facts about the illness it causes. How does it compare to “normal” flu, to H1N1, to SARS? Estimates and projections are in flux and will continue to evolve, but we share what seems most clear so far about the potential risks & severity of corona.There’s no benefit to be gained from a panic about pandemic. (Remember, the term “pandemic” doesn’t actually say anything about the severity of an illness – only its novelty and rapid spread.) The best way to avoid panic? Be prepared!There’s a lot more than herbs for coronavirus preparedness, though. We discuss why handwashing is so important (and why masks aren’t), and why it’s good to be ready for a period of self-quarantine. To that end, we cover how to stock up with immune-boosting nutrition – more than just cal

  • Rebecca Altman  The Wonder Sessions

    Rebecca Altman & The Wonder Sessions

    27/02/2020 Duración: 01h14min

    Join us for a discussion with our friend Rebecca Altman about the importance of self-awareness in the practice of herbalism – but also an exploration of vulnerability and in rebuilding our connection to the natural world.Some of the things we discuss are what it means to take responsibility for our health, how to build trust for experimenting in our lives, and the trouble with living in a society that prioritizes productivity over curiosity and wonder. We also focus on the importance of allowing ourselves to start from scratch and learn slowly, and to cultivate ever-expanding relationships with plants, instead of “knowledge” about them. These are important issues for any herbalist to explore, and especially for those interested in clinical practice.Mentioned in this episode:Wonder Botanica – get on Rebecca’s newsletter today, so you can be notified as soon as enrollment is open for the next round of The Wonder Sessions!The Holistic Herbalism Podcast, episode 65: How To Not Be A GuruHerbalism and the Law: The

  • Formulating Cocktail Bitters for Flavor  Action

    Formulating Cocktail Bitters for Flavor & Action

    23/02/2020 Duración: 52min

    This week we took a trip to New York City, because we were invited to teach a workshop on formulating cocktail bitters for our friends at Kindred, a restaurant in the East Village. Our social media posts about it were popular, with lots of commenters saying that they would love to learn how to make their own bitters. Well, you can!The process of making herbal cocktail bitters isn’t too complicated: make a tincture, decoct the marc, mix the liquids and add a little sweetener. Today we want to get past the basics and talk a little bit about the way we formulate cocktail bitters. In some ways, it’s not too much different from other kinds of herbal formulation (and we have a whole online training course about herbal formulation for those who need it), but there are some special considerations for cocktail bitters.First of all, it ought to taste good! Building your formula around flavors is the standard way bitters blends are invented today, in the hip bars and restaurants that are reinvigorating cocktail culture.

  • Grow Your Own Herbs

    Grow Your Own Herbs

    15/02/2020 Duración: 01h01min

    It might seem difficult to grow your own herbs, but like so many things in herbalism, it’s all about being open to experimentation and maintaining good observation. And for the herbalist, there are great reasons to do it! Not only will you be sourcing your herbs as local as it gets, you’ll learn a lot about the plant from tending it, supporting it, and nourishing it as it grows. Then, when you make medicines from it later, it will tend, support, and nourish you in turn – an intimate cycle of life.Growing herbs for yourself can be simple, especially if you start with the “easy mode” herbs and methods. There’s no shame at all in having your garden live in 5-gallon buckets, whether you live in a city apartment and have only a small porch to work with, or because you’re new to some land and not sure how its ecosystem works yet. Prolific, weedy herbs are not only very easy to grow, they’re also some of our best medicine plants – so they’re a great choice for beginners too.In this episode we share some experiences

  • Working With Herbs For Chronic Pain

    Working With Herbs For Chronic Pain

    09/02/2020 Duración: 01h15min

    Pain is complex. Many factors can contribute to pain, or worsen it, including the food we eat, the sleep we do or don’t get, and the stresses we experience in our lives. When pain is chronic, we need to think outside the “painkiller” box and think more broadly. This is also the best method of working with herbs for chronic pain conditions. Herbs with anti-inflammatory effects might achieve this by nourishing, improving digestion or circulation, or supporting specific needs in a particular body. To choose the right one for the person in front of you, you need to know their whole context – more than “where does it hurt?”Moreover, from the perspective of your cells, pain itself is not a single state with a single cause. A sprained wrist may involve tissue swelling, stagnation of fluids, nerve impingement, and of course, inflammation. Awash in this complex context of states, the nerve sends a pain signal to the brain. If all we do is “kill the pain” at the nerve, without correcting any of those other states, the

  • Handmade Herbal Aphrodisiacs for Valentines Day Delight

    Handmade Herbal Aphrodisiacs for Valentine's Day Delight

    01/02/2020 Duración: 01h07min

    There are a lot of myths about herbal aphrodisiacs – they don’t make you into an irresistible sex monster, let’s get that out of the way right up front! But they do help you release tension that can distract you from your partner or from the present moment. And they do help you feel more comfortable in your own body, so you find & share enjoyment with yourself & others.In this episode we share some of our favorite valentine treats. We’ve got recipes for a lovely damiana-cacao-cayenne infused wine, a rose-chamomile elixir, a raspberry-chocolate cordial, some lovely truffles, and a sun-kissed massage oil. And, just in case Cupid hasn’t visited lately, we have a tea formula for broken & healing hearts.

  • New Moon Down Time

    New Moon Down Time

    24/01/2020 Duración: 01h04min

    It’s really hard to really take a break these days – with smartphones and connected devices everywhere, the pressure to use our time “productively” is pervasive. But that doesn’t mean humans can actually keep up that pace, and it has all kinds of health effects to try!So this year one thing that we’re doing to stay centered is building a New Moon tradition. The idea came out of the way that we celebrate Solstice: we don’t use any electric lights all day, lighting candles in the evening and leisurely talking, reading, daydreaming, knitting… anything but working. This year we realized, we could do it every New Moon!In this episode we share our reasons for totally unplugging for one day every month, and the plans (and plants!) that help us pull it off. Our hope is to inspire you to see if you can fit something similar into your own life. One day with no media, no electronics, no work, no “real” “productivity” (according to post-industrialized consumer-culture standards, that is).Herbs discussed include chamomile

  • Sustainability for Herbalists

    Sustainability for Herbalists

    18/01/2020 Duración: 01h21min

    There are many facets to sustainability for herbalists to consider, from maintaining your personal energy reserves to establishing sustainable working conditions for the workers who bring herbs to us.  Today we’re focusing on direct sustainability of the plants themselves. How can we make sure that, as interest in herbalism and demand for herbs grows, we’re not exhausting our plants and soil?We start with a cautionary tale from 200 BCE, in which poor soil quality, degrading growing conditions, overharvesting, and “trendiness” all came together to result in the first documented extinction of a medicinal plant. There are lessons to be learned here that apply directly to our world, and to considerations about sustainability for herbalists, today!Have you ever heard the rubric that suggests you “take 1/3 for yourself, leave 1/3 for the animals, and 1/3 for the plants to grow back”? It’s been a mainstay in herbalism schools for several decades. Today we’re recognizing that some harvesting practices and wildcr

  • Herbs to Supercharge Bone Broth

    Herbs to Supercharge Bone Broth

    11/01/2020 Duración: 01h19min

    It’s 2020, we don’t need to convince you that bone broth is good for you! But in case you’ve been living under a rock, bone broth is awesome for your digestive health, immune defenses, musculoskeletal resilience, and plenty more besides. So all on its own, it’s great – but you can add herbs to supercharge bone broth into something even better!Our favorite herbs to enhance bone broth come in several key categories: Seaweeds provide mineral nutrition including iodine, along with unique seaweed polysaccharides that build immunity. Mushrooms have similar powers, and are even more famous as immunomodulators to help with everyday health as well as complex immune disorders. Other immune-centered adaptogenic herbs support immunity from the marrow on out. Mildly bitter, prebiotic roots improve digestion, liver action, and gut flora composition. And then there are plenty of “herbs & spices” to try for digestive benefits and for specific medicinal attributes.Learn how to work with all of these and make your homemade

  • Herbs for Whole30: Help Reduce Cravings, Improve Digestion,  Boost Nutrition

    Herbs for Whole30: Help Reduce Cravings, Improve Digestion, & Boost Nutrition

    03/01/2020 Duración: 01h18min

    The Whole30 is one of our favorite diet plans – or, as we prefer to call them, food experiments! It’s a great way to reset your eating habits, change your relationship with food and cooking, and discover your own personal food intolerances or sensitivities. As herbalists, we’ve seen it accomplish amazing things for our clients – but we’ve also found ways to make it more enjoyable, efficient, and effective! Nowadays we always recommend herbs for Whole30 enhancement to our clients and students, and work with them ourselves.In our experience, the best herbs for Whole30 success have effects on one of three main areas: cravings, digestion, and nutrition. Herbs like tulsi and schisandra can really curb sugar cravings, or longings for foods that are not Whole30-approved. Plants like calamus and sage can improve your digestive function, which is especially relevant if your Whole30 diet has more fat or protein than your previous habit, as often occurs. Wild greens like dandelions & nettles provide nutrient density

  • Real Life Resolutions

    Real Life Resolutions

    28/12/2019 Duración: 01h27min

    What do you want to bring into the new year with you? Our first piece of advice is to be specific with your intention – envision how this change will happen in your own real day-to-day life, in detail. This helps you make sure it really happens!Intention is key also in transforming our relationship to Stuff. Many people feel like their Stuff owns them instead of the other way around, and being intentional about how and what you consume can go a long way toward changing that. Fostering (or giving the gift of) experiences and skills is one key way to change that dynamic.You need to pick your battles, though! It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the long list of troubles in the world, and to feel like you need to change them all yourself. Selecting one or two things to focus on is more effective, but also feels better inside. Plus, it’s a way you can find or create community, which is so critical to sustaining these things long-term.Finally, we conclude with a discussion of a few herbs which help strengthen resolve.H

  • Holistic Herbalism for Anxiety

    Holistic Herbalism for Anxiety

    15/12/2019 Duración: 02h36min

    Anxiety is a feeling of exposure, a feeling that one is without protection. The much-maligned ‘safe space’ is in fact a necessity for all humans. (Those who malign it tend to be speaking from a place of unchallenged safety.) But how to create that for yourself, in an environment that feels hostile? Herbs can help, and in more than one way! Working with the principles of holistic herbalism for anxiety involves several interwoven threads.Building healthy boundaries is a way to protect your inner space – both to keep unfriendly things out and to leave room for you to focus on your present moment. Anxiety is fundamentally an expression of tension, so relaxing tension in the muscles and nerves, and in the emotions themselves, is almost always needful. Anxiety both causes and results from elevated stress hormones, and reducing cortisol in particular helps mitigate the physiological effects of stress.Holistic lifestyle changes are the core of the work, and herbs help us enact these intentions. The synergy between th

  • Hawthorn


    06/12/2019 Duración: 55min

    The hawthorns (Crataegus spp.) are some of our most generous and protective herbs. Hathorn offers abundant berries, rich with heart-supporting medicine – but its thorns mean you can’t just come and take everything in one swipe. Hawthorn demands a careful and respectful approach, and it can bring all these qualities to our physical bodies and – our emotional ones, too!An ally for everything from high blood pressure, to water retention, to grief and loss, to that not-quite-at-home feeling we sometimes get when family relations are difficult; hawthorn is there for you. Especially at this time of year, when hearts are both agitated and a little more exposed, it’s a particularly important plant to know and to work with.Herbs discussed include: hawthorn, linden, cacao, cayenne, ginger, goji, rose, hibiscus, goldenrod, jiaogulan, heather, vanilla, tulsi, dandelion, damiana, chamomile, catnip, motherwort.Mentioned in this episode:The Once and Future World, J.B. MacKinnonOur End-Of-Year Sale is in effect! Don’t miss o

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