Linden (Tilia cordata) is the herb of the month. It is a plant that everyone who knows it comes to adore because it’s so lovely, sweet, juicy, fragrant, and relaxing. And it’s good for our hearts, both physically and metaphysically (as you can infer from its heart-shaped leaves and Latin name).  With American Heart month and Valentines Day coming up in February, I can’t think of a more appropriate herb to highlight.

SmellyBlog – "Linden Blossom" – Ayala Moriel ParfumsBOTANICAL NAMES: Tilia europaea, T. cordata, T. platyphyllos, T. americana

COMMON NAME(S): Linden flower, Lime blossom, Basswood, Linn Flowers, Spoonwood, Tilden Flower, Bee tree, Whitewood, Lime tree.

FAMILY: Tiliaceae

DESCRIPTION: a large deciduous tree, growing up to 130 feet tall with a trunk diameter usually of 2 to 3 feet, and a rounded crown. The flowers are intensely sweet and fragrant and beloved by bees. When in bloom, bees forsake most other flowers. The honey that bees make from linden nectar is regarded as some of the best honey in the world.

The leaves are heart-shaped and shiny. The bark is furrowed, and the wood is soft and light in color. It is easily carved and was used historically to make ship’s figureheads, broom handles, beehives and to make parts of instruments.


  • The Green Dryads or tree spirits were said to be wedded to Linden trees
  • In Roman mythology the Linden was a symbol of conjugal love and fidelity
  • Hildegard of Bingen used a talisman made of a green stone and lime flowers wrapped in a spider web to ward off the plague.
  • In “the old days” in Germany, nearly every village had a green with linden trees where people gathered to decide business (possibly due to Linden’s calming effects)
  • In the Pyrenees Linden is used to soothe spasms and excitement. The Ancients knew of Linden’s antispasmodic effects and used it for convulsion and epilepsy, as well as for all “nervous distempers” , fever and hyperactivity in children (Matthew Wood)

PARTS USED:  Flowers and leaves primarily.

ACTIONS AND PROPERTIES: Nervine, antispasmodic, hypotensive, diaphoretic, diuretic, antioxidant, demulcent, anti-inflammatory, emmenagogue, astringent, nutritive

CONSTITUENTS: volatile oils, flavonoids (antioxidants) including quercetin, coumarin, mucilage, minerals, tannins, sugars, steroidal saponins, terpenes, vitamin C, amino acids, resins

ENERGETICS AND TASTE:  Sweet, moist, cool, slightly sour and astringent

TISSUE STATES: Linden is balancing to heat, dryness and tension


Historical uses for Linden include: Appetite loss, Arrhythmia, arteriosclerosis, beverage, bladder problems, bleeding, burns (minor), cancer, colds, cough, diarrhea, dietary supplements, ear infection, epilepsy, fever, flavoring agent, gallstones, gargle/mouth rinse, gastrointestinal problems, gout, halitosis (bad breath), headache, hyperactivity, hypertension (mild/moderate), hysteria, indigestion, influenza, insomnia, irritability, kidney stones, laryngitis, menstrual problems, migraine, mucus, nervous conditions, night sweats, pain respiratory conditions, scurvy, skin problems, sore throat, sores, spasmodic conditions, tumors, vomiting, and wounds (minor).Linden Tilia cordata leaves buds and flowers - Lizzie Harper

Linden is primarily a relaxing remedy, used for nervous tension. Its relaxing effect on the nerves combined with its vasodilating effect on the blood vessels makes it a valuable ally in lowering blood pressure. It is considered a specific remedy in cases of raised blood pressure associated with arteriosclerosis and nervous tension and can be used to prevent arteriosclerosis and hypertension. Animal studies indicate that linden has anti-stress, sedative, and hypotensive (blood pressure lowering) effects. (American Botanical Council).

Its general relaxing action combined with an effect upon the circulatory system give Linden a role in treating some forms of migraine.  It also protects the stomach against stress-induced ulcers. It has been shown to decrease adrenal enlargement and possess corticosteroid-sparing effects in rats under stressful conditions. As a diaphoretic, it induces a sweat and helps to resolve a fever. (Hoffman)

Herbalist Matthew Wood writes “It is suited to symptoms of kidney heat and irritation, including increased blood volume, essential hypertension, orthostatic hypertension, moist, warm skin, congestion of the kidneys, scanty, dark urine, and edema.  It is cooling enough to work on herpes. The tongue calling for Linden flower is usually red, sometimes flame-shaped and usually somewhat moist.” (Wood)

Larger doses are used to promote restful sleep. The soothing mucilage provides an anti-inflammatory effect on mucus membranes in the digestive, respiratory and urinary systems.

Other Uses per Matthew Wood:

  • Restlessness, hyperactivity, insomnia
  • Nervousness, panic attacks and anxiety
  • Nervous headache, migraine and dizziness, neuralgia
  • Convulsions in children
  • Influenza, fever, colds, coughs, mucus in the trachea and lungs
  • Indigestion, nervous vomiting, painful digestion, colic, diarrhea.
  • Heart palpitation, cramp
  • Arteriosclerosis and hypertension associated with nervous tension
  • Dark, scanty urine, edema
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease, uterine pain, bearing down sensations, inflammation of the genatalia
  • Fever with profuse sweat that does not relieve.
  • Fever, chills, shivering, profuse sweat with no relief from fever
  • Pain associated with heat, irritation and spasm.
  • Itching, burning, eruptions, sores, herpes, shingles (external, the bark is beaten to soft fiber, simmered in cream, milk or milk and water, to make a soothing poultice)


Elisabeth Brooke gave this warning: Lime flowers act as a powerful sedative which when kept for over a year, has a narcotic effect. Therefore, strong doses of lime flower should be treated with respect and [one] should not operate heavy machinery or drive a car after taking them. Even so, if you take doses greater than those suggested, they are not dangerous.  You will just fall asleep.

I have definitely used linden that I found stashed in the back of the cabinet that was over a year old and did not notice a strong hypnotic effect myself. There are also warnings about pregnant women avoiding linden due to its emmenagogue effect, but this is also a theoretical contraindication.  Linden was not listed for any contraindications/concerns in Michael Moore’s book “Herbal/Medical Contraindications.”


  • Tincture dosage is 2.5 to 5 ml three times a day (1:5 in 40%).
  • Infusion preparation, pour 1 cup boiling water over 1 teaspoon of blossom and infuse in a covered container for 10 minutes. This should be drunk three times a day.
  • For a diaphoretic effect in fever, use 2 to 3 teaspoons of blossoms per cup of water. (Hoffman)


Calming emotional turmoil (Woodland Essences)Tilia cordata - Small Leafed Lime - Future Forests

Linden from Delta gardens flower essences:

  • Provides angelic relief to deep worry and anxiety.
  • Steadies the “high-strung” or overexcited psyche.
  • Helps balance cycles of work, play and rest.


  • For atherosclerosis, combine linden with hawthorn and/or garlic (Hoffman)
  • For hypertension, combine with cramp bark and skullcap (Hoffman)
  • For nervous tension and insomnia, combine with hops
  • For fever, combine with elderflower


This Article is for education purposes only. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. They are not meant to diagnose, treat or cure any disease. 


A favorite herb for the colder months. Ginger is invigorating, energizing and delicious. We add it to many of our concoctions, including all of our Fire Cider, our Seasonal Chai blends, our Elderberry-Ginger Syrup blend, our Energy Tonic tea, our Achy Joints tea, our Kava-Ginger Muscle balm, and our Kava-Ginger Bath blend.  A hot cup of ginger tea will drive the chill from your body, and adding a concentrated tea to your bath water is an incredible way to relax tight and achy muscles.

BOTANICAL NAME:  Zingiber officinale

COMMON NAME(S): Jamaican ginger, African ginger, Calcutta ginger, Green ginger (fresh ginger)

FAMILY: Zingiberaceae

PARTS USED: Rhizome, incorrectly called root

DESCRIPTION: Ginger has a perennial rhizome or stem which creeps and increases in size underground. Roots grow from the bottom of the rhizome and shoots from the upper surface.

In the spring it sends up from its rhizome a green reed-like stalk about 2 feet high, with narrow lanceolate leaves. These leaves die back after the growing season. The flowering stalk rises directly from the rhizome with the leaves and consists of an oblong spike with scalloped green bracts. From each bract one or more white or yellowish-green flowers is produced, blooming for several days. The underground rhizome is the source of commercial “ginger root”. (Grieve, M. 1931. A Modern Herbal.)

HABITAT: tropical climates; can be grown in temperate regions if brought indoors during the cold months. Z. officinale is thought to originally be native to southeast Asia, although no one knows for sure exactly where. It has become so widely cultivated in tropical and subtropical regions of the world that it is rarely found growing wild. Ginger prefers warm, humid, sunny and low altitude locations with well-drained, fertile soil.

HARVESTING/PROPAGATION: harvest the rhizome after 1 year of growth. Cultivated propagation has been done by root cuttings for so long many cultivars no longer produce seeds. You can plant the rhizome about two inches deep in pots and keep them well-watered until it begins to sprout. Start indoors in the early spring and then move the pots outside when the weather warms up.

ENERGETICS AND TASTE: pungent, sweet, bitter, very warming, drying 

CONSTITUENTS: Volatile(essential) oil (1-3%) containing sesquiterpenes zingiberene and B-bisabolene, B-sesquiphellandrene,  oleoresin and ar-curcumene; some monoterpenes such as geranial and neral; (4-10%) Pungent compounds (non-volatile phenols, arylalkanes) including gingerols (strong anti-inflammatory), shogaols, gingerdiols, gingerdiones; Vitamins: B6, niacin, panthothenic acid, riboflavin, thiamin, Vitamin C, beta carotenes, choline; Minerals: copper, magnesium, magnanese, potassium, phosphorous, iron, zinc, calcium, sodium, selenium; Other: lecithin, resins, carbohydrates (40-60%), protein, lipids, phosphatidic acid

SOLUBILITY: water, alcohol, glycerin, honey, vinegar, oil

ACTIONS: diffusive, diaphoretic, circulatory stimulant, carminative, antispasmodic, rubefacient (local irritant), anti-inflammatory, emmenagogue, sialagogue, antimicrobial, expectorant, anti-cancer

PROPERTIES:  Ginger increases the circulation of blood and qi (the vital energy of the body). It improves digestion, stimulates blood flow to the stomach, eases nausea and motion sickness (lots of clinical trials show it is more effective than Dramamine), and relaxes the smooth muscles of the GI tract. The sharp, pungent compounds of this spicy rhizome cut through mucus and support expectoration from the lungs. Its warming, circulatory supporting properties make it helpful for cold/damp types of arthritis (those kinds that are worse from cold and inactivity, and better with warmth & movement).

Ginger brings blood flow to the joints and to the skin. As a diaphoretic, it helps bring blood to the capillaries on the surface of the body and brings on a sweat. This can be very helpful for fevers, especially when someone has a low-grade fever or fever with pronounced chills and cool, clammy skin. Ginger will help the fever mechanism work more effectively and clear the illness more quickly.

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, fresh ginger promotes sweating and releases exterior cold. Fresh ginger is used for vomiting, cough, intolerance to cold, runny nose, nasal congestion and general aches and pains. Dried ginger is considered to be more heating to the interior and can be more irritating to the mucus membranes. Dried ginger is used to strengthen circulation, appetite and digestion, and to thin mucus that has become thick and difficult to expectorate.


  • anorexia, loss of appetite
  • nausea, vomiting, motion sickness
  • flatulence
  • borborygmus
  • gastric & intestinal spasms
  • painful menses, cramping
  • amenorrhea due to poor circulation
  • cold extremities
  • acute colds & flu
  • sore, achy muscles
  • cough with copious amounts of clear or white mucus
  • sinus congestion


  • According to Comm E, use of ginger is contraindicated in patients with gallstones.
  • Some sources say ginger should not be administered during pregnancy, however, several traditions have used small quantities for morning sickness. A daily dose of 2gm dried ginger is okay.
  • Careful with peptic ulceration; ginger can aggravate existing ulcers, though regular use may be helpful in preventing future ulcers
  • The irritating pungent qualities of ginger can also aggravate heartburn/GERD. Use smaller amounts in between meals.
  • Drug interactions – care with blood thinning agents

PREPARATION AND DOSAGE: Hot decoction of rhizome is best for colds/flus. Fresh ginger decoction is incredible added to hot bath water, to aid with diaphoresis and to relax achy, tense muscles. Can also be used topically as a poultice, salve or liniment to bring blood flow and/or relax spasm in certain areas.  Can also be made into syrups, infused into honey, vinegar, vegetable glycerin, or used fresh or powdered in food. 

Dried root, powder – 500mg 2-4 x/day or 2-4 total grams a day

Dried root water infusion = .25- 1.0 g in 150 ml water 3X a day

Fresh root as food – up t0 100 grams a day

Fresh root water infusion = 1-2 g in 8 oz water, simmered

Tablets 500 mg 1 tab 2-4x day

Tincture: 1.7 – 5 ml /day (assuming 1:5 potency)

COMBINATIONS: Ginger makes a great addition to a formula as a “driving herb” or an herb that can help with the assimilation and circulation of the other herbs. It can make up 10-20% of a tea or tincture formula. Try it with feverfew and ginkgo for a migraine, elderflower and yarrow for fever, onion and garlic for a chronic cough or acute congestion, and dandelion and chamomile for digestion.

HISTORY/FOLKLORE/MYTHOLOGY: Ginger was introduced into the Americas after the discovery of that country by the Spaniards. Francisco de Mendosa transplanted it from the East Indies into Spain, where Spanish-Americans cultivated it vigorously, so that in 1547 they exported 22,053 cwt (1 cwt = 112 lbs) to Europe. (Grieve, M. 1931. A Modern Herbal.)

There is a native variety of ginger that grows in the shady woodlands of North America. Its botanical name is Asarum canadense. It is not as pungent as Asian ginger, but it does have carminative, expectorant and stimulating properties. Wild ginger was used by Native Americans for fever, coughs and pain and to stimulate appetite, much like Asian ginger. It is a low-growing plant with heart-shaped leaves. Please be sure to use a reputable identification guide if you want to look for this in the wild. And practice ethical wild-crafting techniques, taking no more than 30% of a healthy, large population, and leaving smaller stands untouched.


  1. Bone, Kerry. A Clinical Guide to Blending Liquid Herbs: Herbal Formulations for the Individual Patient. St. Louis, MO: Churchill Livingstone, 2003. pgs. 227-231 Print.
  2. “Ginger” American Botanical Council Clinical Guide. Web 15 Sept 2020
  3. Grieve, M. 1931. A Modern Herbal
  4. Kress, Henriette.  “Zingiber (U.S.P.) – Ginger, King’s American Dispensatory, 1898) Henriette’s Herbal Homepage. n.d. Web. 15 Sept 2020
  5. Tilgner, Dr. Sharol Marie. Herbal Medicine From the Heart of the Earth. 2nd ed. Pleasant Hill, OR: Wise Acres LLC, 2009. pgs. 91-93  Print
  6. Vermeulen, N. 1999. Encyclopaedia of Herbs.
  7. Wood, Matthew. The Earthwise Herbal: A Complete Guide to Old World Medicinal Plants. Berkeley, CA.: North Atlantic Books, 2009. Pgs. 533-537 Print.
*This article is for educatinal purposes only. The information contained in this has not been reviewed by the FDA and is not intended to treat, prevent, cure or diagnose any disease*


BOTANICAL NAME: Astragalus membranaceus

COMMON NAME(S): Huang Qi (Chinese), Milkvetch, Yellow Leader

FAMILY: Fabaceae



ACTIONS AND PROPERTIES: Adaptogen, antibacterial, antiviral, diuretic, immune-stimulant, vasodilator, nutritive, Qi tonic (5)

Tonifying and stimulating, astragalus is often affectionately called the “young person’s ginseng.” Like ginseng, it strengthens the qi, or the vital energy of the body. It specifically strengthens the wei qi, or the defensive energies of the body that protect us from pathogens. It works best as a preventative. Taken daily it will strengthen one’s resistance to respiratory infections, viral infections such as shingles, and even Lyme disease. When I lived in Vermont, everyone was using astragalus as a preventative measure to reduce their chances of contracting Lyme.

The polysaccharides in astragalus intensify white blood cell activity, stimulate pituitary adrenal-cortical activity, and restore depleted red blood cell formation in bone marrow (7). In other words, astragalus increases the bone marrow reserve, supporting the deepest layers of the immune system in its fight against pathogens by stimulating the production of immune cells (2).

Another mechanism of action is its ability to increase interferon, a chemical messenger that helps a cell that’s been affected by a pathogen communicate what is is experiencing to other nearby cells so that they can better protect themselves. Although it does have antiviral activity, astragalus should not be used during a fever or acute infection because it closes the pores and doesn’t allow you to break a sweat. When you have a fever that oftentimes will accompany a flu, your body is trying to sweat it out, but Astragalus will not let you sweat it out. In Chinese medicine they say that astragalus can actually drive an infection it deeper into the body, which we don’t want. So Astragalus is a really great plant to take as a preventative medicine, but not in an acute illness.

Though it is a relatively new focus in eclectic American herbalism, astragalus is getting some serious clout as of late for being an adaptogen, an herb that has some normalizing activity, particularly on the immune, nervous, and hormonal systems. It is classified as a “superior tonic” in Chinese medicine and is used in China for treating cancer. Astragalus is part of Fu Zheng therapy, which is often used concurrently with more conventional therapies such as chemotherapy and radiation to treat cancer (3). 

Chinese medicine also considers astragalus as lung tonic and is classically used to improve respiratory health and strengthen the vital energy of the lungs in cases of chronic asthma, emphysema or respiratory weakness. Again, it is best used as a daily tonic to support the lungs before or after an illness, but not during the acute phase of an illness. 

Five main uses:

  1. Adaptogen
  2. Strengthens and rebuilds depleted immune activity
  3. Chronic lung deficiency
  4. Antiviral
  5. Allergic rhinitis and allergic asthma

CONTRAINDICATIONS: Astragalus is contraindicated for those with acute infections. Those with autoimmune conditions should speak with their healthcare provider before using astragalus, as it may stimulate immune function. May also interfere with drugs that are meant to suppress the immune system.

Decoction : 10 g : 16 fl oz water, decoct 35 minutes, steep 1 hour. 1-2 cups per day
Tincture : Dried root (1:5 40% alcohol), 2-4 mL 3x a day
Glycerite : Dried root (1:8) 10-20 mL 3x a day
Capsule : 1,000 to 3,000 mg 3x a day

Astragalus membranaceus is known in China as Huang Qi, meaning “yellow leader.” This name refers to both the colored interior of the root and the plant’s position of prestige among Chinese medicine practitioners. Astragalus is thought to have been used medicinally in China for at least 2,000 years, with its first text appearance in the TCM classic Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing (The Divine Farmer’s Materia Medica Classic). This text is the foundation of TCM, and within it herbs were arranged by type of material (herb, tree, etc), and then graded into categories of potency: upper, middle, and lower. Astragalus was listed in the highest class (3).


  1. Herbal Therapeutics, David Winston
  2. Foundations of Herbalism, Christopher Hobbs
  3. Herbrally, Krystal Thompson
  4. The Practice of Traditional Western Herbalism, Matthew Wood
  5. History of the Use of Astragalus.
  6. Medical Herbalism, David Hoffman


Solomon’s Seal

The name Solomon’s Seal comes from the Biblical King Solomon, whose divinely-gifted ring had a special seal that aided him in magically commanding demons. According to lore, King Solomon placed his seal upon the plant in recognition of its great value. If you dig up a rhizome of Solomon’s seal, you can see the scarring on the rhizomes from where old shoots once sprouted. They look like the marks of an old-fashioned wax seal made by a ring.

There is a great deal of herbal lore about this plant. Galen (130-200 A.D.) recommended Solomon’s seal to remove freckles and skin spots.  It was said to improve complexions and help women retail beauty and agelessness (perhaps because of its tightening effect on connective tissue?). And sixteenth century English herbalist John Gerard has some misogynistic suggestions for bruising that I will not repeat here.

Native Americans and the 19th century Eclectic physicians used Solomon’s seal for a variety of “female troubles”. It has applications for first aid, and the urinary, cardiovascular, respiratory and digestive systems, but its main claim to fame is as a tonic to the musculoskeletal system…

Botanical Name: Polygonatum biflorum

Family: Asparagaceae

Description: Native to North America, Europe, Siberia and Asia. It grows in deciduous woodlands with full to partial shade. The stems form arches with alternate, parallel-veined leaves. The creamy tubular bell-like flowers hang from the undersides of the stems, going on to form blackish blue berries.

Part Used: Rhizome

Taste: Sweet, bitter

Energetics: cooling, relaxing, toning, moistening

Actions: demulcent, yin  tonic, expectorant, nutritive, vulnerary, anti-inflammatory, relaxant, cardotonic (mild), amphoteric

Constituents: Asparagin, Convallarin (a cardiac glycoside), steroidal saponins, saponosides (including Diosgenin), Allatonin, Sapogenin, lectins, non-protein amino acids

Uses: A superior tonic and anti-inflammatory for the connective tissue, Solomon’s seal is ideal for connective tissue injuries (tennis elbow, carpal tunnel, arthritis, partial tears of the rotator cuff, runner’s knee, mild tears of the meniscus of the ACL, disc injuries and sacroiliac pain.

As an amphoteric (an herb that works bidirectionally), Solomon’s seal can both tighten and restore tone to overly loose ligaments, muscles and tendons, and loosen the forementioned tissues when they are overly tightened. According to herbalist Jim McDonald, Solomon’s seal nourishes and moistens dried out, atrophic tissues by improving the production of synovial fluid.  I think of Solomon’s seal for loud, crackling joints and joint pain that is worse after exertion.

As a demulcent herb, Solomon’s seal is soothing and moistening to the digestive tract. It also soothes hot and irritated tissues of the urinary tract and respiratory system. Traditional Chinese Medicine classifies Solomon’s seal a yin tonic, meaning that it strengthens the yin faculties (the nourishing, lubricating, restorative aspects of the body). It is used in China to balance dryness (dry cough, dry throat, diabetes) and build yin. It is said to restore color to the hair, build marrow and increase semen (all signs that Solomon’s Seal builds Kidney yin/Jing)

Signatures: Herbalist Matthew Wood talks about Solomon’s seal as “Wolf Medicine”. Wolf medicines have a right angle in the way that they grow, and we see this in the horizontal growth of the rhizome that grows perpendicular to the vertical shoots. Wolf medicines act on the tendons, ligaments, joints and gallbladder. They are indicated when we need to make a sharp turn in our life, to make a radical change, but lack the ‘gall’ to do it.
Another signature is how the white, knobby rhizomes resemble bones and joints (especially finger bones).


  • Decoction: 1 tsp dried rhizome per 8 oz water, simmered for 10-15 minutes, then steeped for another 45-50 minutes. Drink 4 oz 3 x per day. Decoction may also be applied topically as a compress
  • Tincture: fresh root 1:3, 95% alcohol; dried root 1:5, 50% alcohol; 5 drops to 3 ml 3 x a day. Tincture may also be applied topically as a liniment
  • Salve: oil extract (1:4). Applied topically
  • Poultice: fresh root can be mashed and applied topically for bruises, hemorrhoids and inflammations


  • Solomon’s seal does contain trace amounts of cardiac glycosides, and may potentiate the effects of cardioactive medications
  • Large doses may cause gastric upset
  • Berries are toxic

Works Consulted;

  • Maude Grieves, A Modern Herbal
  • Michael Tierra, East West School of Planetary Herbology Natural Medicinal Herbs
  • Robyn McKenzie, Solomon’s Seal- Eclectic School of Herbal Medicine
  • Matthew Wood, Herbalist Matthew Wood gives an in-depth discussion of the Doctrine of Signatures

*** This information is for educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the FDA and is not intended to treat, cure or prevent any disease ***

Find Solomon’s Seal in our Achy Joints Salve

Red Clover

Red clover (Trifolium pratense) is a member of the legume family. It is a wonderful nitrogen-fixer for your gardens or fields, as it improves soil nutrition and fertility. In our bodies, red clover is also highly nutritious, supplying us with minerals, including calcium. It is simultaneously nourishing and detoxifying, its detoxifying properties being due to its action on the lymphatic system.

Lymphatics are herbs that aid the flow of lymph. The coumarin content in red clover helps to pull fluid from the interstitial spaces and into the lymphatic vessels, helping to thin the lymph and allowing it to flow more easily. This is helpful for swelling, bruising, edema and signs of lymphatic congestion including fibrocystic breasts and swollen lymph glands. You may also need lymphatic support following an acute illness such as measles, mumps, or even the flu or a coronavirus. Supporting the lymph will help to clear the “debris” of an immune battle and help to ensure that the bug is fully cleared from your body.

Red clover is also an expectorant, meaning that it can be useful for relaxing spasmodic coughs. The Algonquin people used it to treat whooping cough.  It can also be supportive for bronchitis. As an alterative, red clover can be used to support the pathways of elimination, promoting detoxification and “purifying” and alkalinizing the blood. This is helpful when dealing with diseases of “excess” including rheumatoid arthritis and chronic skin conditions, which can be, in part, due to toxins accumulating and triggering an overactive immune response.

Red clover also a reputation for treating cancer. It has been traditionally used by dozens of cultures around the world as a remedy for cancer, and modern studies have found 4 antitumor compounds, including genistein, which has shown to inhibit growth and metastasis. I wouldn’t rely on red clover alone for this, but I would include it in a larger herbal protocol for cancer support/prevention, especially estrogen-dependent cancers like breast cancer.

You see, like its cousin soy, red clover contains phytoestrogens (though not as much as soy). These smaller plant estrogens bind with estrogen receptor sites, but have a much weaker effect than larger endogenous estrogens or xenoestrogens, so they displace the stronger molecules that can promote excess growth. These same phytoestrogens can help lessen the symptoms of menopause such as hot flashes and night sweats because they help to provide an estrogenic effect when our endogenous estrogen becomes deficient. And, since decreasing estrogen levels can also be a factor in osteoporosis, mineral-rich red clover can help with that as well when used consistently as an overnight infusion or an infused vinegar.

The blossoms will be appearing very soon here in the mid-Atlantic, and have probably already started to bloom further south of us. Now that you know about how many uses they have to offer, maybe you will be inspired seed some in your garden as a cover crop, and to harvest a few blossoms every day to dry for year-round use. Make sure that you harvest them on a dry, sunny day when they are not wet with rain or dew, and space them out on your drying screen to promote air flow and prevent mold (see contraindications section below to learn why this is so important).

<<< Find red clover blossoms in our Strong Bones & Body and Sparkling Lung teas>>>

Trifolium Pratense

Parts used: flowers

Constituents:  calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, chromium, manganese, Vitamin B complex, Vitamin C, amino acids, vitamin E, phenolic glycosides, flavonoids, saponins, salicylates, coumarins, cyanogenic glycosides.

Actions: nutritive tonic, lymphatic, alterative, expectorant, diuretic, anti-inflammatory, antitumor, antioxidant

Indications: osteoporosis, eczema, psoriasis, acne, edema, lymphatic congestion, swollen lymph glands, tonsilitis, cystic breast disease, rheumatoid arthritis, hot flashes, night sweats, irritable coughs, spasmodic coughs, cancer

Preparations: dried flowers and top leaves make a wonderful nourishing infusion (best steeped overnight to extract all of the minerals). Infusing red clover into vinegar is another way to get the nutritional benefits. You can also get the lymphatic benefit from a tincture of the fresh flower. Topically, red clover infused into an oil makes a great lymphatic massage oil for the breasts

Dosage: as an on overnight infusion, using 1 ounce of the dried blossoms to one quart of water, you can drink 2-3 cups per day. As a tincture, take 60-100 drops (3-5ml) four times a day. But please remember that dosing can and should change depending on the person and the reason for using it.

Contraindications: you will likely read about red clover having blood-thinning properties and being contraindicated for people using prescription blood thinners. My understanding is that this is a theoretical concern and that coumarin by itself has no effect on bleeding times. It is the oxidation of coumarin, caused by mold, that turns it into dicoumarol. Dicoumarol is a potent blood thinner. So, as long as your red clover blossoms are not moldy, this is not an issue. Be sure that your red clover blossoms are bright and vibrant, not brown or grey or powdery.

Works Consulted:

  • The Herbal Handbook by David Hoffman
  • Herbal Therapeutics by David Winston
  • Opening our Wild Hearts to the Healing Herbs by Gail Faith Edwards
  • Body Into Balance by Maria Noel Groves
  • Herb & Drug Interactions lecture by Mimi Hernandez

*this article is for informational purposes only. The information presented here has not been reviewed by the FDA and is not intended to prevent, treat, or cure any disease*

Spring Tonics

This is my favorite time of year for wild-crafting! So many edible & medicinal plants light up the fields and forests- chickweed, dandelion, violet, cleavers, nettles, red buds, ramps and morels to name just a few. Did you know that even the invasive garlic mustard is a highly nutritious green that makes a great pesto? And that the apple and cherry blossoms that grace us with their beauty make a lovely cordial?

I love how Mother Nature provides  us with the bitter and  pungent flavors to help us detoxify our bodies and eliminate excess from winter. Many of the plants available in spring are lymphatics and alteratives (An alterative is an herb that gradually restores proper function to the body and increases overall health and vitality by supporting the ability of the body to eliminate waste through multiple channels of elimination (i.e., lungs, skin, liver, kidneys, lymph or bowels)- what used to be referred to as “blood cleansers”) Dandelion, cleavers, chickweed, violet, nettle, sassafras, burdock- all of these were used as spring tonics (aka blood cleansers) among Appalachians before the age of refrigeration and grocery stores.

While these traditions seem to have faded from popular culture over the past few generations, they remain strong among herbalists, folk healers, wise women and mountain-dwellers. And there is a resurgence of interest in learning these traditional practices. So for those of you who are curious about the wild nutrition that your backyard can offer, here are some recipes for you to play with this season…

Before you begin to forage, I have to emphasize the importance of proper plant identification. Dandelions, cleavers, violets and nettles are all relatively easy to identify, but if you are new to this, please consult a field guide or go with someone who can help you. Do not rely on the plant identification apps! I have found them to be woefully inaccurate.

Violet gelation in a bowl


This is not the bright purple, boxed gelatin of your youth. This is an all-natural, low sugar, nutrient-rich treat.
Recipe & photo from: Homestead Lady


  • 2 Cups Violet Flower Tea* OR 1 Cup Violet Tea Plus One Cup Organic Apple Juice
  • 2 TBSP Organic Beef Gelatin, flavorless
  • Raw Honey to taste (About 2 TBSP)

To Make Violet Tea

Gather 2-4 cups of violet flowers and pinch off the green backs. Bring 2-3 cups of water to a boil and pour over the violets in a heat safe container. Cover and let steep for 2-6 hours. The longer it sits, the stronger the flavor (and the more beneficial for your health). When its done, strain out the flowers and measure the tea for this recipe. Drink whatever is left over.


  • Put the tea or the tea/juice combination into a saucepan and warm the tea gently.
  • Add gelatin, a little at a time, and stir to incorporate.
  • Add honey and test sweetness until it makes you happy.
  • Place into gelatin mold, ice cube tray, glass baking dish, whatever!
  • Refrigerate for 4-6 hours OR for better results, leave in fridge overnight.
  • Tip: add a little bit of lemon juice to the tea after straining for a colorful reaction!

I made this yesterday with my 3 year old and it turned out great! We poured it into little heart-shaped molds. He was so excited this morning to bring his violet “jello” to school for lunch.


Please note that honey syrups must be stored in the fridge for preservation.

Violet Syrup Ingredients
1 oz. freshly picked violet flowers
5 oz. water
organic sugar

To Prepare:
* Boil water and pour over the violet flowers.
* Cover and allow to steep for 4 hours.
* Strain into stainless pot and gently warm on the stove.
* Add 2 oz of sugar/honey by weight for each 1 fluid ounce of violet tea.
* Mix until the sugar is completely dissolved.
* Bottle. Shelf stable for 1 year.

Use violet syrup to sparkling water, teas, cocktails or as a sweetener for lemonade. It is a cooling, nutritive


Note: only harvest wild greens from clean areas, at least 20’ from the road


  • 1 cup of young dandelion greens
  • ⅓ cup of young violet leaves
  • ⅓ cup chickweed (optional-if you can find it)
  • ¼ cup grated carrot
  • 2 TBSP wild spring onions, roughly chopped
  • a handful of violet, dandelion or red bud flowers as garnish


  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice or raw apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp tamari
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard
  • salt and pepper to taste (note, you may not need to add salt due to the tamari)

(This recipe makes dressing for more than one salad. Keep in the fridge for up to a week for more salads!)

Mix the greens, wild onions and grated carrot in a salad bowl. Whisk together all ingredients for the dressing. Add 3 Tbsp of dressing to the greens, tossing well. Sprinkle violet flowers over the greens and then serve.


  • 2 cups of greens (stinging nettles, watercress, dandelion greens, chickweed, garlic mustard, lamb’s quarters, or any combination of the above)
  • 1 tbsp minced fresh parsley, mint, dill, or other fresh herbs for flavor
  • 3 fat cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds
  • 1 TBSP lemon juice
  • Hard cheese such as parmesan to taste (optional)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & Pepper

Note: If you are using nettles in your wild pesto, you can blanch them for a minute or two to remove the sting before proceeding with the recipe below. I have found that the chopping action of the food processor is sufficient to break open the hairs and release the acid, but if you are not confident, blanching or steaming them will definitely do the trick.


Add the garlic and seeds/nuts to the food processor and pulse to coarsely chop these.

Rough chop the greens and herbs and add them to your food processor. Add a splash of lemon juice to brighten the flavor and color. Start blending, adding olive oil, one tablespoon at a time until you have your preferred texture. If you want to make a pesto sauce you will need more oil. If you want a paste for pizza, use less oil. Flavor with salt, pepper and hard cheese. (Omit the cheese if you plan to freeze it, you can always add that later after thawing).


Cleavers (Galium aparine) is classified as a lymphatic, alterative, diuretic and nutritive tonic. It helps our lymphatic system during a time when our immune systems may be tired and sluggish following a long winter.

Cleavers is fairly easy to identify, but please be sure to consult a good field guide to make sure that you are working with the right plant. Cleavers has tiny hairs that allow them to stick to your clothes. They have narrow, pointed leaves that grow in whorls of 6-8. Each whorl is spaced about every 2″ along the stem. They have square stems and tiny white star-shaped flowers.
Cleavers are best made as a cold infusion:


  1. Place one or two handfuls of finely chopped, fresh cleavers (the leaves and stems, not the roots) into a quart-sized canning jar.
  2. Fill the  jar with cool water and cover with a lid.
  3. Place the jar in a refrigerator and allow the cleavers to infuse overnight, or eight to twelve hours.
  4. Strain and enjoy cold, warm or at room temperature. Store any remaining infusion in the fridge for up to 3 days.


This recipe was taken and slightly modified from Simply Recipes

PREP TIME- 30 mins * COOK TIME- 45 mins * SERVINGS- 4 servings


  • 1/2 large shopping bag of fresh nettle tops (***Fresh, raw stinging nettles sting! While the sting has medicinal value (it’s a rubefacient and anti-inflammatory), you may want to wear gloves when handing them raw. Once they are blanched they loose their sting.
  • Salt
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, butter or ghee
  • 1/2 cup chopped shallots
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 3-6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 pound Yukon Gold or russet potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 4 cups chicken stockhomemade or store-bought
  • 1 to 2 cups water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1-2 tablespoon fresh parsley 
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream (or coconut cream if you don’t do dairy)


  1. Blanch the nettles:

    Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Prepare a large bowl of ice water. Wearing protective gloves, transfer the nettle tops into the boiling water. Blanch for 2 minutes.

    Use tongs to lift the wilted blanched nettles out of the pot and transfer to the bowl of ice water to shock them. Strain in a colander.

    Cut away and discard any large stems from the nettles. (This should be easier to do now that the nettle stingers have lost their sting due to the blanching.)

    You should have 3 to 4 cups of blanched tender nettle tops and leaves for this recipe. Any blanched nettles not used at this point can be frozen for future use.

  2. Sauté the shallots, celery and garlic:

    In a 6-quart soup pot, heat the olive oil on medium heat. Add the chopped shallots and celery and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Then add garlic and sauté another minute or two.

  3. Add the potatoes, stock, bay leaf, and thyme:

    Add the chopped potatoes, the chicken stock and bay leaf. If using unsalted or low sodium stock, add one teaspoon of salt. Bring to a simmer and simmer for 5 minutes.

  4. Chop the blanched nettles, add to the soup pot, and simmer

    Roughly chop the blanched nettles. Add 3 to 4 cups of the chopped blanched nettles to the pot. Add enough water to just cover the nettles and potatoes, 1 to 2 cups. Return to a simmer and simmer for 15 minutes or until the potatoes are soft and the nettles tender.

  5. Purée the soup:

    Remove the bay leaves  from the pot. Add the fresh parsley. Using an immersion blender or working in batches with a standing blender, purée. Return to the pot and take off the heat.

  6. Adjust the seasonings and serve:

    Add salt to taste. Depending on the saltiness of the stock you are using, you may need to add at least a teaspoon or more to the soup. Add 1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper. Add lemon juice. Right before serving, swirl in the cream, sour cream or coconut milk. Adjust seasonings to taste.

    Sprinkle with black pepper and garnish with a sprig of fresh mint to serve.


Wild garlic by Maxlegran via Wikimedia commonsWhen I search for Wild Onion Infused Vinegar, the first articles that come up are about how to use vinegar to kill wild onion grass. Why would you sacrifice such a free and available source of flavor for the sake of visual uniformity in your lawn? Have you ever tasted onion grass? It is powerfully pungent. It may be small and tedious to chop, but an easy way to utilize this wild green is to make an infused vinegar. This makes a flavorful vinegar that can be added to salad dressings or marinades all year long.

To make an infused vinegar:

  • Gather a few handfuls of onion grass (just the tops are fine, but if you can dig up the bulbs you can  include those too. I like to selectively weed them from my garden using a dandelion weeder)
  • Rinse the dirt off, pat them dry. Trim off the roots and coarsely chop the leaves
  • Loosely pack a canning jar with the onion grass and cover with your choice of vinegar (apple cider, white wine or rice vinegar have nice, gentle flavors). Make sure that the plant material is fully submerged by the vinegar and that the jar is filled to the top.
  • Cover the jar with a lid. Plastic lids are ideal for vinegars because they don’t react with the vinegar. If you only have a metal lid, you can place a piece of wax paper between the vinegar and the lid before securing the lid.
  • Let sit for 10-14 days and then strain out the plant material through a sieve lined with cheesecloth, reserving the vinegar.
  • Pour the vinegar into a bottle and store in the refrigerator. Use within 6 months.

I could go on and on with more of these recipes, but time and space are limited. Dandelion wine will have to wait for another blog. If you want to play with more spring foraging, I highly recommend these two books:

  1. Stalking the Healthful Herbs by Euell Gibbons
  2. Healing Wise by Susun Weed

Again, please be careful when identifying wild plants for the first time. Happy foraging!

Disclaimer: these statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This article is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease. 

Greens & Chlorophyll

Ionic ChlorophyllSpring is the season of the liver/wood element, and green is the color that nourishes the liver. If you’re looking for a gentle way to support detoxification, this is a great time to add more greens to your day.

Chlorophyll is the green pigment found in plants that helps to convert sunlight to usable energy. Chlorophyll’s main action is a chelator, meaning that it binds to things such as heavy metals and carcinogens and facilitates their excretion. Chlorophyll also supports phase II detoxification in the liver, reducing oxidative stress on the liver and supporting the metabolism of harmful toxins, drugs and excess hormones.

Chlorophyll closely resembles the structure of our red blood cells, with just one atom difference (red blood cells have iron at the center while chlorophyll has magnesium at the center).


Just like our red blood cells, chlorophyll can bind with oxygen, facilitating the transportation of oxygen to our cells and increasing the production and recycling of red blood cells in our bodies. And even though we don’t transform sunlight into energy as much as plants do, a diet rich in chlorophyll does help us to have more energy (especially when we eat chlorophyll rich roods before soaking up some sunlight). Chlorophyll is also known to protect the skin from sun damage.

Just like the plants, this time of year our blood (sap) begins to flow outward and upward. We crave movement and growth and expansion. We need to rid ourselves of excess to allow our blood to flow optimally. And just like plants, we can use flavonoids and pigments to help protect our skin as we soak up the sun’s rays. So as we approach the yang-half of the year (beginning at spring equinox) we will want to add more greens to our diet to support the elimination of all that we have accumulated during the sedentary winter months of heavy foods and lack of sunshine.

Nettle, Stinging – Snake River Seed CooperativeChlorophyll-rich plants include nettle, spinach, alfalfa, cilantro, parsley, spirulina and chlorella, all of which are amazing detoxifiers and can be helpful for preventing seasonal allergies (especially nettle!). For additional support for your liver and for general detoxification, be sure to also read our previous posts about beets, dandelion, chickweed, schisandra, yellow dock, and violet . Many of these herbs are ready to harvest right now and can easily be foraged or cultivated in your yard!

If you don’t have the capacity to harvest your own greens, or have a hard time drinking dandelion leaf tea, you can still have amazing benefits from taking liquid chlorophyll drops. We carry Trace Minerals ionic chlorophyll drops (pictured above) that can easily be added to your tea, water, smoothies, dressings or sauces for a burst of green power.

* These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. The information in this article is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease.*

My Favorite ‘Witchy’ Herbs

Mortar pestle and herbs original drawing on handmade paper/ image 1I have always loved Autumn and Halloween, even before I had any inklings of becoming an herbalist. And since my relationship with the natural world has deepened, so has my appreciation for this season. Since Halloween is associated with witches and witches are associated with herbalism, I want to share some of my favorite sacred herbs that I use in my practice .
If you want to read more on the connection between herbalists and witches, check out this article I wrote on the subject.

Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris)- a well known women’s herb, mugwort is a blood-mover, emmenagogue, digestive bitter and a dream herb. She has a reputation for bringing vivid dreams and strengthening intuitive faculties. You can smoke her, take her as a tincture or a tea, use her as a smudge or a dream pillow. Because of its blood-moving properties, this is an herb that you do not want to take during pregnancy.

Angelica (Angelica archangelica)- a plant said to connect heaven to earth. Angelica has been used historically by shamans to aid in the journeying between realms. In Native American tradition it is used on the rocks in sweat lodges to open the mind, imagination and the pores of the skin. Used internally it also brings blood flow to the periphery,  supports the smooth flow of vital energy, strengthens digestion and promotes expectoration. It breaks up stagnation and congestion of fluids, phlegm and blood. Best to avoid this one during pregnancy too.

Elder (Sambucus nigra)- Elder is rich with lore of the goddess (and witches), more specifically the crone. She is wise, powerful, and protective. On a physical level she protects us against viruses and respiratory illness. She is diaphoretic, diuretic, blood-moving, blood-building, and opening to the hollow tubes of the body (blood vessels, bronchioles, colon, etc.). Join us for Stars, Spells & Sambucus on Oct. 29th to learn more!

Rosemary (Rosemarinus officinalis)-  Rosemary for remembrance is what Shakespeare said. Tis true, rosemary has been scientific-ally shown to improve memory & cognitive function. Her volatile oils work on the limbic system. I love Maia Toll’s description: “Rosemary can ease remembrance, softening sharp edges, or she can dredge the distant paste, pulling on your DNA to bring forward the longings of lineage. Crush the leaves. Hold them to your nose. The past is encoded into our cellular memory. Rosemary whispers Sink into the knowledge that lives in your bones. Let memory rise up from the body of your being.” (From The Illustrated Herbiary)

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)- Bitter in taste and feathery in appearance, yarrow is another herb of protection. Yarrow helps us with boundaries, whether physical, emotional or spiritual. Named after Achilles, yarrow is the quintessential wound herb. Topically it is antiseptic and can stop bleeding. Internally, it can improve blood flow, regulating the blood by reducing platelet aggregation and promoting clotting when needed. It can support digestion, diaphoresis and diuresis. Use as a tea, tincture, poultice, salve or bath.

St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum)- yet another protective plant, used in medieval times to exorcise demons. In modern times it’s a well-known antidepressant (are depressive thought-forms any different than demons?) St. John’s Wort is a mood boosting herb with so much more to offer. It’s also an antiviral, anti-inflammatory and nerve tonic (wonderful for nerve pain & burns). I think of it primarily as a solar plexus strengthener. It improves digestion and detoxification. Its bright, solar energy increases the internal flame, which strengthens one’s sense of self, confidence and will power. It brings light to dark places, and a bright internal flame is truly the best protection. Fresh plant tincture or oil is best. I avoid using St. John’s wort internally with any form of medication, unless using the homeopathic form, which has no drug interactions.

***This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease***



Botanical Name: Angelica Archangelica

Family: Apiaceae

Parts Used: root and leaf (medicinal), stem and seed (confectionary)

Description: from Maude Grieves: The stems are 4-6 feet high and hollow. The foliage is bold and pleasing, the leaves are on long stout, hollow footstalks, often 3’ in length, reddish purple at the much dilated, clasping bases; the blades, of a bright green color, are much cut into, being composed of numerous small leaflets, divided into 3 principal groups, each of which is again subdivided into three lesser groups. The edges of the leaflets are finely serrated. The flowers, small and numerous, yellowish or greenish in color, are grouped into large, globular umbels. They blossom in July and are succeeded by pale yellow, oblong fruits, 1/6-1/4 inch in length when ripe. Both the odor and the taste of the fruits are pleasantly aromatic.

Cultivation: prefers deep, moist loam in a shady position. The plant thrives in damp soil and love to grow near running water.

Habitat: grows along rivers and on the shore of the Baltic regions and the Scandinavian states, south into Alpine areas. It can be grown in gardens in North America and is naturalized in some places.

Constituents: volatile oils, resin, wax, bitters, furanocoumarins, flavonoids, sugars, organic acids, phytosterols.

Actions: astringent, bitter, tonic, diuretic, vulnerary, cholagogue, anti-inflammatory, expectorant, diaphoretic, emmenagogue, carminative

Energetics: pungent, bitter, sweet, oily, warming, cooling, stimulating, antiseptic (volatile oils are moving, which can be both warming and cooling)

Tissue states: atrophy, depression


From David Hoffman’s Medical Herbalism:

“Angelica is a useful expectorant for coughs, bronchitis and pleurisy, especially when accompanied by fever, cold or influenza. Angelica leaf may be used as a compress to treat inflammations of the chest. The content of carminative essential oil explains its use in easing intestinal colic and flatulence. As a digestive agent, angelica stimulates appetite and may be helpful in anorexia nervosa. It has also been shown to help ease rheumatic inflammations. In cystitis, it acts as a urinary antiseptic. The furanocoumarin constituent bergapten has been used in the PUVA treatment of psoriasis (PUVA is an acronym describing oral administration of psoralen and subsequent exposure to long-wavelength ultraviolet light).

Angelica is a common flavoring for liqueurs, such as chartreuse and Benedictine, and is an ingredient of gin and vermouth. The leaves may be used as a garnish or in salads, and the candied stalks in cakes and pudding.”

From Matthew Wood’s Earthwise Herbal:

In European phytotherapy it is said that angelica calms both the sympathetic and the parasympathetic sides of the autonomic nervous system. When the sympathetic is overactive it creates a condition of nervousness and shuts down the digestion, creating a condition of asthenia (the pale, thin, dry, vata type) when the parasympathetic is dominant we have a condition of gastrointestinal excess, creating a hot digestion with a heavy, damp, cool interior. Because angelica affects the circulation, the thin types may have purple fingers from poor peripheral circulation, while the thick ones may have blue-green-yellow-gray coloration around their veins (look at the forearms) due to blood stagnation.

It makes fluids more active and breaks up excessive concentrations of water, phlegm and blood. It promotes peripheral circulation, and opens the lungs and skin. Hence it is beneficial for heavy, stout, blood-stagnant people (bear people) who need their relaxed, watery side activated.

The bitters and sugars get the appetite and secretions going, while the aromatic compounds stimulate circulation to the stomach and periphery. The oil stimulates the “fat of the kidneys,” the adrenal cortex, releasing cortisol, which supports digestion and raises blood sugar levels.

The circulation of the blood is opened to the periphery to bring nutrition to all parts of the body, to stimulate fluid movement in the possibly dried out joints, to rebuild the fatty deposits insulating the nerves, and to improve circulation to the hands, feet and uterus. Thus, angelica is an excellent remedy for the undernourished “asthenic” (Rudolph Weiss).

By opening the pores to release perspiration and supporting circulation, angelica is remedial for chill from dampness and cold. It was a traditional remedy for contagious diseases.

The lungs are closely allied with the skin. As a lung remedy, angelica is indicated in old bronchitis cases where there is exhaustion and the mucus is thin and difficult to expectorate. It dries and warms the lungs. It improves circulation to the lungs, thus aeration through the blood. As the phlegm improves in texture and the blood comes in, the mucosa secrete new immune cells and enzymes, which renew the defenses of the respiratory tract.

Angelica acts on the lymphatics as well. And through its action on the blood angelica assists the liver. It improves circulation through the portal vein and the hepatic artery, bringing more food/toxins for metabolism.  And, through the action on the circulation and the liver, angelica influences the uterus. By warming and stirring the blood it relieves blood congestion and cramping.

Specific Indications (per Matthew Wood):

  • Thin, dry, pallid persons with poor digestion, gas, bloating, but tendencies to accumulation of fluids; poor peripheral circulation with cold, purple hands and feet.
  • Thick women with blood stagnation
  • Complexion around veins yellow/gray/blue/green
  • Emotionally empty, hollow; stimulates the imagination and relaxes the mind.
  • Cut off from spiritual world; “I can’t believe, I can’t pray,”; life no longer makes sense, depression
  • Mental dullness, exhaustion, and obtuseness, sometimes with phlegm congestion
  • Intense mental acuity and focus; relaxes the mind.
  • Anguish, spasms, nervous excitation, and fatigue; calms excess in both sympathetic and parasympathetic branches of the autonomic
  • Headache (from stress), migraine, vertigo, fainting
  • Lung congestion, dullness of the mind, pallid complexion
  • Seasonal allergic asthma
  • Lack of appetite, anorexia nervosa (decoction)
  • Gastritis, dyspepsia, stomach pain, heartburn, sour stomach, hyperacidity, nausea, omitting
  • Intestinal gas, colic, diarrhea (tincture for cramping)
  • Liver insufficiency; increases digestion and metabolism of oil and production of bile, secretion of bile, hence digestion and nutrition; elevates blood sugar
  • Asthenia, anemia, wasting, deficient immunity associated with hepatic insufficiency.
  • Strengthens heart; poor peripheral circulation; cold, pale, sometimes purple hands and feet
  • High and low blood pressure
  • Increases urine
  • Menses: excessive bleeding, cramping, or amenorrhea with weakness.
  • Middle-aged women, full-figured, with blood stagnation, veins blue/green/yellow and sometimes gray; with cysts, excess bleeding
  • Arthritis, gout, joints stiff, extremities cold; fingers purple
  • Muscular cramps, spasms, nerve problems, epilepsy.
  • Bruises- blue/yellow/green/gray
  • Intermittent fever; chills and fever
  • Helps relieve craving for tobacco and alcohol

Cautions: Not recommended during pregnancy. Because of its furanocoumarin constituents, angelica may provoke photosensitivity reactions. (these are not easily extracted in water). During treatment with angelica, patients should avoid prolonged sunbathing and exposure to strong UV radiation. In addition, some authorities state that because of the coumarin constituents, high doses of angelica may interfere with anticoagulant therapy.

Preparation:  The roots easily turn rancid. They should be cut lengthwise, rapidly dried in a heated stove, crushed and stored airtight. Freezing the seeds preserves their properties and promotes germination.

Boiling the root produces an aromatic bitter, while steeping produces an anesthetic and astringent for the stomach lining. Alcohol improves the relaxing and antispasmodic properties (Michael Moore).

Dosage: Tincture dosage is 2-5 ml three times a day (assuming 1:5 in 45%). To make a decoction, please 1 tsp of cut root in 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil, and simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for 15 minutes. Decoction dosage is 1 cup tid.

The BHP recommends 2.5 g dried herb, 2-5 ml tincture, or 2-5 ml of liquid extract three times a day. German Commission E recommends a daily dose fo 4.5 g dried herb, 1.5 ml tincture. Total daily essential oil dosage is in the range of 10-20 drops.

Matt Wood says that small doses are relaxing while excessive doses can cause depression of the CNS. He recommends 1-3 drops 1-3 x /day, or more in acute conditions.

Signatures: (per Matthew Wood)  The root of angelica is brown, furry, oily and pungent—the picture of “bear medicine” in American Indian medicine. Bears eat such roots in the spring to wake up and start rebuilding their mass. (Also osha, lomatium, American liquorice, balsam root and spikenard). These stimulate the cortisol side of the adrenal cortex to increase appetite, digestion and nutrition. Hence, they are suited to thin, pale, undernourished people.

Just as the bear goes into hibernation through the winter, bear medicines usually relax the mind, open the imagination, and bring people into dreamtime. The most effective way to bring this on is to burn the root and smell the fumes. They are gently relaxing to the mind and body while activating to the imagination.

“Angelica aligns you to walk with your guardian angel”- Julia Graves

Looking at the root from a different angle, it is light and airy. In fact, it contains pockets of air. It grows in damp conditions. Thus, it aerates or brings air into the watery realm. It makes fluids more active and breaks up excessive concentrations of water, phlegm and blood.


Bear medicines like angelica are used on the rocks in the American Indian sweat lodge. This serves both a spiritual and physical purpose, as the vapors open the imagination and the mind, while at the same time helping to open the skin and bring the circulation to the surface.

Angelica root worn around the neck was said to offer protection against psychic and epidemic contagion.

**This article is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease**


Alfalfa comes from the Arabic phrae “al-fac-facah,” which means “father of all foods,” and that is how I was first introduced to this plant. I will always think of alfalfa as one of the greatest nutritive tonics we have.

This time of year, as the sap begins to rise in the trees, so does our blood begin to quicken and move towards the surface. After a winter of being cooped up indoors, eating heavier foods without access to fresh fruits and vegetables, this is the time of year that our ancestors would begin to crave fresh, green, light and alkalinizing foods.  Alfalfa infusion offers an answer to this craving. It satisfies our bodies nutritional needs, while gently supporting detoxification so that our blood flows more easily to the surface.

Latin Name: Medicago sativa

Family: Fabiaceae (pea/legume family).

Growing: Alfalfa is a nitrogen-fixer and makes a great cover crop, but with roots that extend up to 60 ft. into the subsoil, alfalfa is persistent. This is why it’s so nutritious. It can accumulate nutrients from very deep in the soil.

Parts Used: aerial parts

Taste: Bland, slightly sweet, astringent & bitter.

Energetics: Cooling, moistening.

Constituents: Vitamins A (carotenes), B1 (Thiamine), B2 (Riboflavin), B3 (Niacin), B5 (Panothenic Acid), B6 (Pyridoxine), B12 (cyanocobalamin), Vitamin C, D, E and K, Calcium, Potassium, Magnesium, Iron, Manganese, Selenium, Zinc, Phosphorous, proteins, Isoflavones (genistein, daidzein), Coumestans (coumestrol), triterpenoid saponins, chlorophyll, organic acids

Actions: Nutritive, Diuretic, Anti-inflammatory, Phytoestrogen

As a nutritive tonic, alfalfa has been used in a variety of chronic degenerative conditions, especially nutritional deficits are involved (i.e. anemia, osteoporosis).  It has a long history of being used by pregnant and nursing mothers to strengthen the blood, stimulate lactation and increase the quality of breast milk.

Alfalfa is one of the many legumes that contain phytoestrogenic isoflavones (plant compounds that mimic estrogen). Phytoestrogens can compete with estradial, a stronger estrogen, as well as xeno-estrogens (estrogen-like compounds found in plastics, pesticides, etc.) This produces a protective effect against estrogen-sensitive cancers such as breast cancer.  Phytoestrogens are also helpful during menopause, when women experience a decline in endogenous estrogen. Although plant estrogens are smaller and weaker, they do bind with estrogen receptors and can take the edge off of menopausal symptoms.

 It can have Its alkalinizing effect on the body helps to calm the nerves & muscles, remove acids from the digestive tract, reducing putrefaction in the gut, and cleansing the internal fluids and tissues. Alfalfa contains fructo-oligosaccharides (pre-biotics) which help to feed the beneficial bacteria in our gut and allow them to outcompete with the “bad” bacteria.

Alfalfa has also been shown to decrease cholesterol and cause regression of atherosclerosis.

It has traditionally been used to relieve water retention, arthritis and peptic ulcers.

Preparations:  Alfalfa seeds and sprouts can be used to top salads and soups. The aerial parts are dried for tea. It can be tinctured, but because minerals are not readily extracted in alcohol, it is best to tincture in vinegar or using a Spagyric method.
Alfalfa is an ingredient in our Strong Bones & Body Tonic and Pregnancy Tea

Dosage: Infusion: 1 heaping tablespoon per cup of water; Tincture: 30-60 drops in a little water 1-4 times per day (Assuming 1:1 potency).  Powdered herb:  5-10 g per day.

ContraindicationsPregnancy– There are mixed reports on this. Some say that plants with coumestans and isoflavones should be avoided during pregnancy and by women and men with fertility problems. These constituents have been shown to decrease fertility in animals who graze on these types of plants. It is thought that the constituent stachydrine has a stimulating effect on the uterus and should be avoided during pregnancy. This perspective, however, is based on a reductionist approach. 

No human studies or animal studies on Medicago in pregnancy or lactation have been conducted, but based on the nutritive, food-like nature of the plant, most herbalists consider Medicago to be safe during pregnancy.  In fact, alfalfa is an ingredient in the classic NORA tea that midwives recommend for pregnant mothers during the second and third trimesters. And, farmers often increase the amount of alfalfa in the feed of pregnant mares as it is more nutritious than grass hay and believed to benefit livestock. One study found that Medicago feed increased milk yield, lowered fat, and increased milk protein in dairy cows.14

Blood-Thinners: Because alfalfa contains vitamin K, there is a potential of an antagonistic interaction with blood thinning agents.

Lupus: Alfalfa is thought to exacerbate symptoms of lupus, possibly caused by immune system stimulation by L-canavanine. This constituent, however, is based on the ingestion of large amounts of seeds & sprouts. Alfalfa leaves, in tea or tincture form, contain trace amounts of canavanine and are considered to safe when consumed within the recommended dosage15.

Works Consulted:

Dr. Sharol Tilgner (1999): Herbal Medicine From The Heart of The Earth.

David Winston Herbal Therapeutics: Specific Indications for Herbs and Herbal Formulas

Matthew Wood The Earthwise Herbal: A Complete Guide to Old World Medicinal Plants


*This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease*