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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: 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...


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,...