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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: 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...


Herbs A-Z: Alnus & Althaea

Every herbalist has their core favorite herbs. Sometimes we lose sight of the vast array of plants we have to work with. In an effort to not neglect our less-than-favorites, we’re profiling all of the herbs on the shelves in our apothecary. (The herbs go marching two by two, hurrah hurrah!) This week our pair of herbs is two plants who are both very helpful with the regulation of fluids in the body. First up is alder, Alnus incana and other species. Alder is a plant with excellent...


Herbs A-Z: Agastache & Alchemilla

This week we’re continuing our review of herbs in our current apothecary, from A to Z by their botanical Latin names. We want to give all our herbs an opportunity to get in the spotlight and share their particular talents. Anise hyssop (Agastache foeniculum) is neither an anise nor a hyssop! Its flavor and digestion-warming actions may remind you of fennel, or of black licorice candy (which is anise-flavored). Its capacity to relax respiratory tension and quell coughs may remind you of...


Herbs A-Z: Achillea & Acorus

Hi everyone! We’re back from a brief hiatus, and kicking off a new series on our podcast feed. We’re going to be profiling every one of the herbs on the shelves in our home apothecary. Why? Because we definitely have our favorites, herbs we work with really frequently – and these also tend to be the herbs we talk about most on the show. So we want to make sure everyone gets a bit of attention! We begin this week with Achillea & Acorus. Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) is an herb with complex...


Herbalism & Climate Change: The Plants!

Climate change affects everyone, and that includes the plants. Medicinal herbs and food plants growing across the world are changing, moving – and sometimes, struggling or dying – as a result of the changing climate. As herbalists, and as stewards of medicinal plants, we need to recognize these shifts and respond in ways that will help protect & sustain our herbal allies as much as possible. Three steps any herbalist can take in this effort include: Changing our habits – of harvesting...


Herbalism & Climate Change: Fires

This is #3 in our series on herbalism & climate change! Fires are most devastating where they occur, but the smoke and particulates they release into the air affects vast areas of space. So it’s good for all of us to be aware of the problem and have practical solutions to protect ourselves. In addition to practical DIY methods for improving air quality in the home, herbs can be very helpful. Some of the herbal actions & specific herbs discussed in this episode include: gentle herbs for...


Herbalism & Climate Change: Flooding

This week we continue our series on herbalism & climate change. Flooding causes great devastation, and it also brings many risks. Foremost among these are isues of pathogenic load: mold, bacteria, and other pathogens spread through flood waters. Minor wounds can easily get infected, breathing in the spores of mold can make one sick, and it’s difficult to avoid introducing germs to the digestive system in these conditions. Herbs can help. Antimicrobial herbs can be taken to protect against...


Herbalism & Climate Change: Heatwaves

This episode begins a series on herbalism & climate change. Heatwaves have struck the US and many places throughout the world, and all signs indicate this is going to be our “new normal”. Climate change affects everyone and requires us to recognize our interdependence. We need to cultivate community care as a social ethic & public good before and until it becomes necessary as a disaster response. Herbalism offers a great deal to us in this regard. Heat is dangerous. Heat with high humidity,...


Does Hops Cause Depression?

Recently it seems like there’s been a proliferation of hop-flavored beverages on the market. Not just beer, but also sodas, fizzy waters, and other gently bitter elixirs are competing for attention with kombucha and fancy herbal infusions. This seems like a good thing to us – more people getting some bitters in their lives couldn’t hurt! But it also brought to mind this week’s topic: a common warning herbalists make, that there’s potential for cases where hops cause depression, or worsen...


3 Herbs for Toothache Relief

Ryn’s got a toothache this week, so this seems like a great time to teach about herbs for toothaches! When your tooth hurts, you want to relieve the pain, and you want to make sure you prevent or manage any infection. Fortunately, herbs are great at both of these jobs! Spilanthes & kava are great for relieving pain. Spilanthes also increases localized immune activity. Berberine-bearing herbs like goldenseal and barberry are fantastic at fighting pathogenic microbes, and kava’s no slouch...


Can Seaweeds Fix Everything?

Seaweeds are really talented. Like, really talented! They can help out with such a wide array of problems that you might feel a little skeptical at first. “Come on, how could seaweeds fix everything on that list?? I mean… what do high blood pressure, osteoporosis, and leaky gut syndrome even have in common, anyway?” We understand the skepticism! But the truth is, seaweeds really can help out with a ton of different troubles. How? They’re addressing core deficiencies and needs of the body,...


Breathing Exercises & Herbs for Breath Work

“Take a breath, it’ll help!” You’ve heard it before. But what if breathing is difficult or constrained? Breathwork is the answer. Breathing is like any other movement: there are ways to build efficiency and resilience through practice. Simple exercises can get you breathing deeper, and give you a visceral massage or “inside yoga”. And there are herbs for breath work, too! They can remove the obstacles to deep breathing and help to enhance your practice. In this episode we’ll share some...


Top 3 Herbs for Seasonal Allergies

Whenever we choose herbs for health issues, we work to match the qualities of the herbs to the state of the body. These three plants we work with as herbs for seasonal allergies are each drying in nature. So, if you run dry or have dry symptoms, then make sure to pair them with something moistening like marshmallow or violet. But if you’re on the watery side, these will be a great help! Nettle (Urtica dioica) is a superstar plant with a variety of beneficial effects. Not all of them are...


Herbal Tattoo Care

Herbal tattoo care starts a while before your appointment. You’ve got to prepare the skin in advance, get hydrated, and ideally do a little work to keep inflammation down in the lead-up time. You want that skin to be in the best possible shape before you get work done. You might even want to get some test spots done, if you have very reactive skin. We don’t actually like to throw a ton of different plants together in our herbal tattoo care preparations. Instead there are just a few...


Listen-Along Plant Sit Meditation

Today’s episode is a little different from our usual. We’re sharing a listen-along plant sit meditation! You can take this episode with you to sit outside with a plant, and we’ll guide you through the meditation practice. Plant sit meditations are an excellent way to develop your powers of observation and your awareness skills. Plants have a lot to teach us, and this is one way to learn directly from the plants themselves. When we slow down, take time, and devote our attention to a single...