Rekindle your relationship with plants
By now we should all be well versed on our social practices to prevent the spread of CoVid-19 and flatten the curve. Yes, wash your hands, wear a mask, and practice social distancing. For those of us who cannot stay or work from home, whose spouses cannot stay or work from home, we need to have more options than only washing hands (wash your hands!) and staying 6 feet away from our closest humans (ugh, it's so hard not to hug people - I'm a hugger).
Last week I wrote about herbs for the nervous system and sent out two newsletters about this same subject. I also have set up a few YouTube videos (Go subscribe!) on these herbs as well. I strongly believe that herbalism is the people's medicine and want to empower people to take control of their own care. This is not to say that I want anyone to just walk away from conventional medicine. Far from it. Allopathy is a very valuable tool for saving lives and improving quality of life. It has its downsides too and that is where self care can be so valuable. But this is also to say that buying herbal preparations willy nilly after hearing the most recent buzz without knowing anything about herbalism, is doing a disservice to you and the plants.
Instead of posting yet another article to add to the mass of information out there, I am going to link here to some valuable herbal resources to help get folks through is pandemic. Though I do link to a fantastic article by trusted herbalists, note that one is on herbs and one is on pantry medicine. I highly recommend reading Rebecca's write up on pantry medicine because most likely, the herbs mentioned in the Immunity article that you are going to want to access, firstly, may not be easily found, and secondly, are as Rebecca says, are not commodities. That being said, here are the two articles that I have found to be most helpful and most accessible to most everyone:
I hope this finds you well or at least, that this helps while you are not.
Cheers, to you, and to the plants.
These are wild times we are in together.
Things are uncertain.
Things are scary.
But as the famous saying goes: Don’t Panic!
Today I wanted to share some ideas on how to support your nervous system during this collective stressful moment in time. I will go over nervous system herbs, mainly. There won't be detailed information on how to prepare them because mostly what you'll find right now will be packaged with instructions in the shops, but I will send a newsletter in the next day or two on how to prepare them if you do happen to find loose leaf. I do suggest preparing them stronger than your average beverage tea if you need a stronger effect. I also offer some suggestions on mindfulness and movement.
So without further teasing, let’s talk pandemic.
Hey. We got this.
We have each other. Whether you are holing up with your family or virtually loving on your friends, we have each other. And right now, I’m seeing so many helpful people out there sending up their heart flags and waving them, giving helpful ideas for homeschooling, offering assistance to elderly and disabled neighbors, sharing ideas on how to spend time while at home, and generally trying to soothe others’ nerves with music and words.
This novel coronavirus has many of us in a high state of stress. We have become more aware of our hygiene practices, more concerned to be in close proximity to people, and are sanitizing everything. We are worried about our livelihoods. We are concerned for our family and friends, our neighbors or ourselves who may be in a high-risk category. We may be working hard to keep a business afloat, our homes paid for, our family cared for and fed, and our kids educated, all while trying to maintain calm when our inner selves are frazzled and dizzy. People may be looking to us for answers or we may be looking outward for some.
This roller coaster that our nervous systems are having to endure may be making it hard to sleep, relax, have rational thought, or concentrate. Perhaps we are lashing out at loved ones, smiling like a loon, or denying the dangers. All of these things are real and normal reactions to stress. Though, I do request that we all take a collective, calm, deep breath, and often, to avoid unnecessary strain for ourselves and others.
Speaking of calm, let’s get right to these nervous system tonics, shall we?
Listed below are some adaptogenic and nervine herbs that I have found to be helpful, not only in these really challenging times, but during our normal everyday lives. I want to make this simple and accessible to you all. Most of what I list can be found in grocery store pharmacies in the supplement section either in capsules or tincture form (alcohol, vinegar or glycerine extract - a good common brand is Herb Pharm) and the tea isles. Traditional Medicinals is a great nationally accessible brand, but loose leaf local options are also a good bet, as are bulk herb shops, though depending on where you are, they are not as available at the moment. I do hear that some herb shops are offering porch pickups of bulk herbs if you choose to go that route.
Remember, herbs are not like drugs, so don’t expect immediate results (except for perhaps scullcap and valerian). But, nevertheless, these plants can have great effects.
ADAPTOGENS are herbs that help the human body adapt to stress, support normal metabolic processes and restore balance. They increase the body’s resistance to physical, biological, emotional, and environmental stressors and promote normal physiologic function. They are rejuvenative.
Some of my favorite adaptogens:
NERVINES are herbs that support the nervous system. They are mildly relaxing without being overly sedative. They can restore emotional balance, and nourish the nerves and the nervous system. They can help with anxiety, stress, irritability, and sleeplessness.
Some of my favorite nervines:
For the herbs listed above with no preparation instructions, they are best made into tea, or a strong infusion. As for what is meant by 'infusions' and 'decoctions', I will send a newsletter out soon to walk you through that. I'm being persuaded to make Instagram videos also so keep and eye out and on Facebook.
BREATHE: Along with these plants, let us remember that we have calming mechanisms built into us naturally! Breathing techniques are a wonder for lowering stress, regulating the adrenals, and returning our entire system to homeostasis. There are meditation and mindfulness apps our there and available for free a lot the the time if you are into that kind of thing. Or you can find a teacher offering sessions online.
Or you can take some time with yourself. Ground your feet in a comfortable position. Maybe your eyes are closed, or focusing on a calm spot on the floor or wall (not a device!). Take some slow deep breaths in through your nose and our through your mouth, letting thoughts come and go, not focusing on them, but being okay with thoughts happening. Just remembering to bring focus back to your breath. Where is it going in your body? Is your throat open and feeling the air in it? Is you chest expanding? Your belly? Are you tight or tense? Try to soften. Let your shoulders relax down. Sit up tall but not tight to allow the breath to ease in and out of your lungs. Maybe find your hands resting over your heart while you do this. Try this throughout your day when you have some quiet minutes. You can even have someone read this to you in a calm, gentle voice while you practice your mindfulness.
For those of you who are familiar with, or want to try tapping, a resource from my dear friend, Leesa Scott, LMT, CST is linked below:
MOVE: Also, let's not forget that movement is so crucial for not only our cardiovascular system, but for our lymphatic and nervous systems as well! Get some movement in every day, whether it be dancing, yoga, walking, jumping jacks, punching bags, wrestling with your kids, whatever! Release some tension through movement.
Also, HYDRATE. Drink drink drink water! And teas! If you need help finding the right tea for you, refer to the list above and find one in the shops that has the herbs you want to try. Also, I have a few teas left in my apothecary that you can find in my web shop.
Friends, I hope this helps you out a bit and gives you some ideas on where to start to help you ease some worries as of late. Remember, this is absolutely not a substitution for any medications that you may be taking as prescribed by your healthcare provider. And I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV. This is merely a guide for you to hopefully find some ease to get you through this collective crisis.
Cheers, and well wishes to you all!
Jeanne Wildherb Botanicals
Rekindling relationships between plants and people
What a delight it was to be invited to speak the the 2020 Home and Garden show! I must admit, I had not been to this event before the day I presented. It just wasn't on my radar as we have gratefully not needed to replace our home's windows, and sadly, do not have a place for a hot tub. I was happy to find that there was so much more to this show than I thought!
My gracious supporter, Tisa Watts at the Columbus Garden School, where I teach classes on herbalism, invited me to speak at this colossal event. My presentation, titled 'Herb Garden Remedies'. was given on the Garden Stage, in a much greener environment than the main building where all the home remodeling vendors were. Surrounded by trees, perennials, waterfalls, topiaries, living walls, and an edible garden, I shared some of what I know with those who came to see me present.
It didn't take long to get used to wearing a wireless microphone headset which was new to me. *Little tip: wear it under your hair. This was my first PowerPoint ever, and having taught myself to use it days before the event (I'm not a procrastinator, I just tend to create at the last minute) I had only had one practice run at using the remote but once I had it up on the giant screen I jumped right in and began to gush about some of my favorite plants. But not before we sang a little song. Can you guess what we sang?
Ok, I'll give you a hint: the song dates back as far as the 1600s and was made popular in the 1960s. A song about herbs. A love song of sorts. *I sang it to my little herbalists when they were babies.
What I love about public speaking is having the opportunity to introduce people to a new way of looking at something that they may have had in their mind as being mundane, or ordinary. Our plants are anything but mundane! Take for example, Petroselinum crispum: parsley. Most of the people who came to my presentation had in their mind that parsley was just a flavor, something to add to food to give it a little character on the pallet. I saw their eyes widen while I talked about parsley having so many attributes they hadn't known before. This common, garden herb used in culinary ways is now, to them, something more.
Same goes for Salvia officinalis, Rosmarinus officianalis, and Thymus vulgaris. But when I got to the fifth and last herb, I thought that I would hear groaning. I didn't! Maybe they were just politely grumbling in their heads. Maybe they were wowed with this beauty: Taraxicum officinale: Dandelion. Oh, how lovely. Digestive health, kidney health, vitamins, minerals (not least potassium), and a coffee substitute to boot! Kroger sells the greens in the organic produce section. Tea companies have it in their blends. We have it in our yards! For free!
The presentation was great fun. I loved answering questions as I went along and hearing from folks afterwards. One man even came to just tell me that he was raised by a mother who helped him with the plants when he was ill or hurt, and that she always said, "God created a plant for every ailment". What a wonderful thing to share with me...and she was right.
As glowing, fresh spring green turns a darker summer hue, our burgeoning vital energy bursts forward into buds of activity. With the advent of spring, the young ones stirred and spun in their play, their seats, their dreams. Following the moon into June, they are settling into themselves with fresh ideas formed, action begun.
As a teacher of young people, I felt affected by the whirl of the students from the first day after the worm moon. Now that summer is setting in with the latest full moon of June, I return from travels to the whir of home life with young boys, and settling into summer routine, and completing laid out projects.
A slurry of information flutters around my mind, not unlike the monarchs as they begin their journey north again, bumping into each other, moving up, down, around. As the monarchs, my thoughts and plans are reaching their goals, slowly and methodically once the activity and community thinned out. My summer community changes from children and parents, coworkers and guests, to renowned herbalists, mentors and friends, and fellow learners of herbalism, as peers or students. What I learn from their teachings, and my own, is great and in need of processing. Creativity strikes when inspired but it needs support with nutrition and plant allies.
The herbs that transition my flight into creative mode are grown in my back yard. They grow in the prairies, along the roads, in the parks, the woods. Some find their own way here. Others I invite. Others I forage. Though season is getting on, I still love to nibble the dandelion leaves and young plantain while I'm out gardening. The ground ivy, violets, and red clover are some of a variety of daily tea, and macerating in oils or liqueur. Stinging nettles nourish my entire system with vitamins and iron, thyme in cooking, strawberry leaves before they rust away after their last berries drop. I nibble the young yellow dock leaves that have migrated into the yard proper, away from the compost, cooling me in the heat. Lemonbalm and mint revive me for the transition. Lavender helps calm my nerves just by smelling lovely, and chamomile, my new best old friend, aids my digestion and helps me chill out enough to think straight.
What is in your yard? If you treat your lawn, why? Is your aesthetic different than mine? Your neighbors'? Your neighborhood's? When I first moved to our home, most homeowners treated their lawns. Now less than 50% do. The insects have returned, the birds are healthier and more abundant, the wildlife is growing. It smells nicer most days. Instead of closing the windows on a beautiful afternoon, they stay open! After over half a decade, the lawn has become a yarden where we source our food and medicine. Others' lawns are full of these life-giving plants too now! Go see me on Instagram to see the bounty of a neighborhood un-treated.
Wouldn't you love to go outside your door and find potassium-rich, digestion enhancing dandelion leaves for dinner, for tea, for tincturing, for free? Violet leaves that soothe lungs and stomach with their mucilage? Plantain to help those cuts and bug bites heal up and draw out the itch? For FREE. All you have to do is bend over and pick them!
The best part of what I do, is that it is accessible to so many people, even if a trip to the park is in order. Make sure to find no spray areas and get permission from the park but dandelion, violet and plantain are not endangered, not at risk, and are abundant. To find out what and how to do with these plants, stay tuned to my events page for classes, workshops, and plant walks, subscribe to the blog and like me on Facebook.
**This post began May 21 and finished June 18. Busy month. Good month.