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The Holistic Herbalism Podcast



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Herbal Home Nursing Basics

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...


A Week In The Life Of Two Herbalists

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...


Herbs for Coronavirus Preparedness

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...


Rebecca Altman & The Wonder Sessions

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...


Formulating Cocktail Bitters for Flavor & Action

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...


Grow Your Own Herbs

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...


Working With Herbs For Chronic Pain

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...


Handmade Herbal Aphrodisiacs for Valentine's Day Delight

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...


New Moon Down Time

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...


Sustainability for Herbalists

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...


Herbs to Supercharge Bone Broth

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...


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

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...


Real Life Resolutions

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...


Holistic Herbalism for Anxiety

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...



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...


Maybe You Don't Have To

It’s easy to get caught up in your to-do list and everything you “have to” do. Sometimes, it’s ok to not. This week we’re modeling that behavior, with a micro-cast just to prove we mean it! We’ll be back next week with an episode about hawthorn and getting through difficult times. Until then, take care of yourselves, take care of each other, drink some tea, and remember – sometimes, you don’t have to. ❤️❤️❤️ If you’re local to Boston, we’ll be at Herbstalk’s Wintergreen Market tomorrow,...


How To Learn A New Herb

As a brand new student of herbalism, you might think there are a lot of herbs to learn. As an experienced herbalist with decades of practice under your belt, you’ll DEFINITELY KNOW there are A LOT OF HERBS to learn!! That’s one of the things we like best about herbalism – there’s always more to explore, a whole world full of plant potential. Having a strategy for how to learn a new herb is helpful at every stage of your herbal journey. We advise a multi-directional approach to this. Rather...


How Herbs Are Different From Drugs

Herbs differ from pharmaceuticals in important ways. Understanding how they’re different helps us make better choices about what to take, and how to take it, to get the effect we’re looking for. It also helps us avoid common misunderstandings about herbs and herbalism – like thinking that the effect of an herb can be reduced down to the action of its “active ingredient”. And, knowing how herbs are different from drugs lets us set expectations clearly, and recognize that not all preparations...


The Definitive Guide to Herbalism

Wouldn’t it be nice if there were one book you could read, one teacher you could study with, one website you could scroll through – that would tell you everything you need to know about herbalism? Sometimes it seems like there ought to be a definitive guide to herbalism – and for our 100th episode, we’d love to give it to you! But the thing is, there isn’t one. There’s only the hard way. But don’t let that discourage you! The “hard way” turns out to be the nuanced way, the complex way,...


Don't Let The Perfect Be The Enemy Of The Good

Our ideas about health are often context-dependent, and clinging too tightly to rules about what is “good” and “bad” can really get us into trouble when context changes. It can also get in the way of communicating and sharing knowledge with people who live in contexts that are different from our own. Like many herbalists, we teach and practice the avoidance of sugar in most situations. Most… but not all! Recently we posted a video about how to make an elderberry syrup with sugar, and got a...