my journey through the world of naturopathy

wishwandersong-deactivated20110 said: I've just developed an interest in medicinal herbs after picking up one of my mum's books on the topic, and I am so glad that I found your blog! It's absolutely lovely. I look forward to more posts, and to testing out herbal remedies<3

The day I first realized my affinity towards herbs was the day i took charge of my own health and well-being. I must warn you though; Once you start down this path, you may never return…

spent this valentine’s week in various gardens with my girlfriend. first turning and rebuilding the soil in a client’s rose beds, then wandering through the various gardens at the Huntington Library. i just love winters in southern california.

more herbs to come next week-i’m all planted out.

Black Sage (salvia mellifera)
Part of the mint family, Black Sage is very simular to white sage (salvia apiana). Chew on the herb fresh from the plant to aid gingivitis. Drink as a warm tea to reduce fever, soothes sore throats and wet coughs. As a cold infusion it&#8217;s a great stomach tonic. Breastfeeding mothers should avoid consumption of Black Sage as it is an emmenagogue and will decrease lactation. One can find this herb in abundance on the coastal slopes of Southern California on into Northern Mexico at about 500-4000 feet above sea level. That being said harvest this plant sparingly and with the utmost respect and care. Local Native American tribes regard the sage plant as very sacred used primarily in sweat lodges and other Traditional ceremonies. 
Granada Hill, CA.
California Sagebrush (Artemisia californica)
They used to call this Cowboy Cologne because the ranch men would rub it on when they couldn&#8217;t get a proper bath. Based on the intoxicating scent of this plant, I understand why. This cousin of the wormwood family is a diaphoretic (encourages sweating), an emmenagogue (encourages menstruation), a bitter and therefore digestive herb and can help combat coughs and colds. To expand on its emmenagogue properties, California Sagebrush has traditionally been associated with the moon and can help to relieve painful cramps, irregular cycles and regulates a heavy flow. Because of its strong scent, I would recommend using it as a tincture although the vapors from a tea would knock the catarrh out of anyone.
Granada Hills, CA.
Shepard&#8217;s Purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris)
This little guy is known for its small purse shaped pods. It is commonly used as a tincture or tea to stop internal bleeding and excessive menstrual bleeding. Externally as a poultice it has much the same effect on open wounds. Gather this herb early in the year because you wont find much past Spring.
Granada Hills, CA.

Flora’s Bitters Mix

I thought because my last post dealt with the bitter herb Oregon Grape, that I would share my recipe for a Bitters Infusion. Bitter herbs are really awesome! I use them for acute and cronic stomach pains, jet-lag, hangovers, headaches, loss of appitite, stimulating digestion, or a general liver tonic. I also find a few drops in a vodka soda to be just perfect!

For this infusion I use a 100 proof vodka. You aren’t making a cocktail so you don’t need anything fancy,  but you are making  medicine to heal and strengthen your body so I would avoid the charcoal distilled crap.

As for the herbs, I mix a combination of Gentian Root, Dandelion Root, Orange Peel, Ginger Root and Peppermint. I like using these bitter herbs because they are potent while still maintaining a sweet essence. Combine equal parts of the plant matter in a jar, filling it to just over half full.

Cover herbs in vodka, filling your jar to the top. Close the jar tightly and store in a cool dark place for 2-6 weeks. Shake the jar well at least every other day. When you are ready to decant your infusion, open the jar, strain out the marc (used plant matter) and throw it in the compost. Be sure the label the jar clearly and restore the infusion to its dark place.

Viola! Yummy Bitters for your every need!

Oregon Grape ( mahonia pinnata )

We use the yellow root of this plant for it’s bitter qualities. Bitter plants and herbs stimulate bile production in the body thereby aiding sluggish liver function by clearing toxins from the pancreas. I personally take a shot of my own bitters mix in water about 10 minutes before a meal. It aids in digestion, absorption of nutrients and enzymes and speeds metabolism. We can also use Oregon Grape for its anti-bacterial properties. Brew it as a cup of tea for sore throats or as a mouth wash for canker sores.

Granada Hills, CA

Stinging Nettles (Urtica dioica) 
This plant is one of my favorite medicinal herbs because it&#8217;s uses are really quite endless. Moreover nettles are an adaptogen which means that when consumed the herb basically adapts to the patient, providing whatever constiuents are needed to strengthen the immune system and aiding the natural anti-bodies in the war against disease and general poor health.
Granada Hills, CA.

Happy New Year Local Herbs!

Yesterday I attended my first herb walk of 2011 guided by local herbalist William Broen. On this late January hike we aquainted ourselves with the local flora of O’Melvney Park just outside of Granada Hills, CA.

The day was clear and bright, aided by the moderate winds and thus a completely clear sky. Over our three hour stroll, we came across more than a dozen medicinal plants and herbs growing right here in our back yard! Though we would never think of harvesting plants from any location other than our own home gardens, we did have a delicious time trying, masticating, chewing, spitting and swallowing tiny bits of the lovely treats we observed along our path. Please remember to always be 400 percent sure of what a plant is and its properties before ever consuming any part of it. I must confess that I would most likely never try anything on a hike unless with William or another experiences herbalist.

Over the next couple weeks I will be posting pictures of the medicinal herbs and plants that we found on our hike along with a brief description of their properties and uses. What a wonder it is to find all the things our bodies need and crave right outside our doorstep!

in the beginning…

Today I started this blog

It took all I had to write something about myself and you should check it out under the ABOUT link

However the blog looked so sad without any posts so I wrote this

We’ll get into the herbal fun soon

Today we bask in the smaller triumphs