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The Holistic Herbalism Podcast


Practical herbalism from practicing herbalists. Conversations, botanical deep-dives, Q&A with clinical herbalists Katja Swift & Ryn Midura of CommonWealth Holistic Herbalism.

Practical herbalism from practicing herbalists. Conversations, botanical deep-dives, Q&A with clinical herbalists Katja Swift & Ryn Midura of CommonWealth Holistic Herbalism.


United States


Practical herbalism from practicing herbalists. Conversations, botanical deep-dives, Q&A with clinical herbalists Katja Swift & Ryn Midura of CommonWealth Holistic Herbalism.




Herbs A~Z: Tilia & Melissa

Today we have abandoned the alphabet! Well, not entirely, just for purposes of bringing you a pair of relaxant diaphoretic herbs in this summer heat. These are two plants who are both helpful for releasing inner heat (whether physical or emotional) and allowing cooler heads to prevail. Linden, Tilia spp., is a common city tree where we live. It’s very easy to identify, just look for the real-heart-shaped toothed leaves, plus the yellow-green smooth-edged “extra leaves” or bracts underneath....


Herbs A-Z: Hibiscus & Hypericum

Today’s featured herbs are excellent in sun tea. Simply spoon them into a jar, pour in water, cover it up, and place it in the sun for several hours. Sun tea makes a light herbal infusion and is best for herbs that can be well extracted in a short hot infusion. The calyx of Hibiscus sabdariffa is distinct from those of other species in the genus. It’s fleshy, red, and sour. These characteristics are signals to us. The red means antioxidant/anti-inflammatory and blood-vessel-stabilizing...


Herbs A-Z: Glycyrrhiza & Gynostemma

Today our apothecary shelves present us with a pair of adaptogens! As we continue our series looking at the herbs we keep on hand at home, this week we encounter two particularly excellent herbs for stressed-out folks with dry constitutions. Licorice’s botanical Latin name tells us straight out that the herb is sweet: Glycyrrhiza glabra means “smooth sweet root”. This sweetness comes together with the plant’s moistening qualities; it’s one of our sweet demulcents, like fennel. Licorice...


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...


What You Should Know About Choosing An Online Herb School

All herb schools are different, in their focus and their style. When you’re choosing an online herb school, whether for a short course or a long program, here are some key questions to consider: These answers will be different for every school, and there’s no one “right” answer! It all depends on how you prefer to learn and engage with your teachers. Knowing to ask these questions in advance will help you make better-informed comparisons between different offerings, and find the ones that...


Herbalism In A Time Of Collapse

Collapse is not a single event that occurs everywhere, once and for all. It occurs in fits and starts, unevenly distributed across communities. When there are floods and fires, when there are supply chain disruptions, when there is war and strife – these are expressions of collapse. Recognizing them is not in any way saying we shouldn’t bother to try and stop them, or reduce their severity! But it is a necessary acknowledgement of reality. Making plans for collapse in all its manifestations...


Herbs A-Z: Erigeron & Eupatorium

We’re continuing on as we highlight the herbs in our home apothecary. Today we reach the end of our first shelf! Erigeron canadensis, E. strigosus, & E. annuus are the species of fleabane we have worked with. We like the Canada fleabane best, but they’re all helpful herbs. All the fleabanes are very easy to grow – put some in your “feral garden” areas! In terms of taste, qualities, and actions, fleabane is very similar to goldenrod and yarrow – warming & drying & tonifying, with aromatic...


Herbs A-Z: Elettaria & Eleutherococcus

This week we’re talking about cardamom & eleuthero! About Elettaria cardamomum, cardamom, we actually do have “one weird trick” for you today! Here it is: get yourself a cardamom-crushing stone. It is so much easier than using a spoon to crush the pods and release the pungent aromatic seeds. Cardamom is great to “ground” a very aromatic formula, and of course it’s also excellent in foods of many kinds. Eleutherococcus senticosus, properly called eleuthero although sometimes referred to as...


Herbs A-Z: Crataegus & Curcuma

In today’s episode we continue our exploration of the herbs on our home apothecary shelves. This week we made an extra effort to share formulation ideas for these herbs! The hawthorns – Crataegus spp. – are best-known for protecting the heart and vasculature. The quercetin, anthocyanins, and bioflavonoids in the leaf, flower, & berry of this giving tree help modulate inflammation and reduce allergic expressions. Hawthorn berry is flexible enough to prepare in a variety of ways and it...


Herbs A-Z: Codonopsis & Commiphora

Today’s plants are both precious and powerful. Codonopsis pilosula, codonopsis, is deeply restorative. We locate its center of activity in the marrow, where it feeds the production of both white and red blood cells. It is not a stimulant, yet it’s very helpful for those who are feeling fatigue – whether that is a post-viral chronic illness, or simply due to depletion and stress. Codonopsis is excellent in a broth or a long decoction, and you definitely want to cook the same roots more than...


Herbs A-Z: Citrus & Cinnamomum

This week’s herbs are orange peel & cinnamon. Each one has multiple varieties: sweet orange, bitter orange, cassia cinnamon, “true” cinnamon, etc. Citrus x aurantium and C. x sinensis are the bitter and sweet orange, respectively. Not just an excellent flavoring agent (although that counts for a lot!), citrus peel makes a nice gentle digestive bitter and is a classic in cocktail bitter blends. It’s great in mulled cider or wine, but also a nice cooling drink in the summertime. If you’ve...


Herbs A-Z: Centella asiatica & Cichorium intybus

Happy new year! We’re continuing our Herbs A-Z series in 2022, starting off strong with gotu kola & chicory. These widespread herbs both have long histories & active presents of medicinal application. Centella asiatica, known best as gotu kola, is today mostly thought of as a neuroprotective or even “nootropic” herb. It does indeed protect the nerves and brain, and help with cognitive health. It even has some similarities to ginseng and jiaogulan in terms of stress, immunity, and...


Herbs A-Z: Calluna vulgaris & Centaurium erythraea

This week we highlight two herbs who are close to our hearts. Heather is a plant we both met together and have come to appreciate each in our own way. Centaury was “Ryn’s first herb” in many ways and made a huge impact on his digestive health when he was originally learning herbalism from Katja. Both are friends we turn to frequently! Calluna vulgaris is heather, a lovely little pink flower from the highlands and moors. Its light, floral aromatic profile is subtle but delightful. It’s an...


Herbs A-Z: Betula & Calendula

This week’s herbs are fluid-movers, with drying and tonifying effects. They’re both excellent topical remedies which can also be helpful when taken internally. We prefer water or alcohol extracts of them in most cases, but birch makes a decent infused oil and calendula is excellent in oil. Betula spp. are birch trees – all the different kinds are similar. Their bark is famous for its salicylate content – mostly in the form of methylsalyicylate, which gives the bark its ‘wintergreen’ scent...


Herbs A-Z: Asparagus & Astragalus

This week’s herbs from our apothecary shelf are shatavari and astragalus! These are a couple of slow-acting herbs for long-term work. Their restorative properties take some time for full effect, but they’re worth building the habit. We prefer to prepare both of these as decoctions. Asparagus racemosus, called shatavari, is an Ayurvedic herb with cooling, moistening, and relaxant qualities. It’s an adaptogenic herb which can improve the stress response – especially for people with dry...


Herbs A-Z: Asclepias & Aspalathus

This week we have two more herbs from our shelf – rooibos & pleurisy root! We’re working our way along the shelves and giving every plant a bit of attention, to explore the variety of helpful herbs that exist. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut, so we’re giving everyone an equal shot. Asclepias tuberosa is known as pleurisy root, and also butterfly weed. It’s best-known as an herb for directing moisture and relaxation to the lungs, which can correct dry and tense conditions there. (“Pleurisy”...


Herbs A-Z: Arctostaphylos uva-ursi & Artemisia vulgaris

Here we go with some more of the herbs on our apothecary shelves! This week our spotlight is on uva ursi & mugwort. Arctostaphylos uva-ursi, known as bearberry, uva ursi, or kinnikinnick, is a very astringent herb. It can knit wounds together, combat infections, and squeeze stuck fluids out of tissues. When we drink it it has a lot of action on the urinary system – it’s famous for UTI – but it also helps with other stagnation & laxity conditions in the pelvic region. Our final Artemisia...


Herbs A-Z: Artemisia absinthium - Wormwood & Absinthe

We’re turning our attention to all the herbs we keep on the shelves in our apothecary, two at a time, in this ongoing series. (Check out the podcast stream for previous episodes!) We know that we tend to focus on a small group of favorite herbs, and we’re trying to make sure we don’t neglect helpful plants out of habit. Wormwood, Artemisia absinthium, is an herb we work with rarely. Yet it has a very long history as a medicinal plant, and it has a particular notoreity as an ingredient in...


Interview with Shawn Donnille of Mountain Rose Herbs

As herbalism is becoming more popular, the sustainability of plants themselves needs to be a primary focus for all of us. But like all issues of environmental sustainability, it’s not just about individual decisions and habits. We must pay special attention to the activities of large corporations, because they can have much larger impacts than single people – for good or for ill. One company working for good in this way is Mountain Rose Herbs. They are one of the biggest herbal suppliers in...


Herbs A-Z: Angelica & Artemisia dracunculus

There are so many medicinal plants! In an effort to pay some more attention to herbs that aren’t quite our favorites, we’re profiling all of the herbs we keep on the shelves in our apothecary. (Check out the podcast stream for previous episodes!) Angelica, Angelica archangelica, is an herb who thrives in extremes. Long days or nights, hot and cold temperatures, wind, rough soil – these conditions make strong angelica. We draw on that strength when we drink decoctions of the roots. When we...