Aconite, also known as Monk’s Hood or Wolf Bane, is a deadly poison. This beautiful, rather innocuous little flower has roots that, if consumed in their natural state, could quite easily mess up your insides something awful.
However, when prepared and utilized in a specific and very careful manner, this toxic plant becomes a potent healer. Aconite (called Fu Zhi) has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for thousands of years, though only more recently has it been recognized as a useful tool in more western herbology and medicine.
Aconite can be prepared into a salve, and is useful for reducing the pain associated with nerve and skeletal imbalances. Used internally as a tincture, it is helpful in the primary stages of acute infections, to reduce the pulse and intense fever and convey a diuretic effect that can reduce pathogen prominence. It has been used effectively to treat cardiac failure, though this should only ever be attempted under the guidance of a trained healer.
In TCM, aconite is considered a very ‘warming’ herb, wonderful (if used effectively) for those people who tend towards cool and/or damp conditions in the body, symptomatically expressed with cold hands and feet, tiredness, and depressed emotional conditions. Because chinese herbal preparations are designed to work on an energetic level, affecting the meridians to liberate or increase qi, this use indicates most clearly the ‘spiritual’ qualities of aconite as a healer. People who tend to run very cold (which is most often women) have severed a large part of their connection to the natural world, including to other human beings. They are trying too hard to do everything themselves, and are not capable of taking in support, love and help from the outside world. This will manifest as physical symptoms of adrenal fatigue, hypothyroidism and hormonal imbalance, but will be rooted in their inability to see the connection and love that exists. Aconite can temporarily ‘boost’ their life energy and vitality, propelling them towards confidence and greater interaction, which may then create a feedback loop of increasing energetic development.
Alfalfa is an incredible source of minerals and vitamins, and is extremely nourishing to the whole body system.
It has a particular affinity for the kidney and bladder system, and can be used to increase urine output, reduce water retention, heal kidney conditions and decrease prostate inflammation. Commonly used as a tea, Alfalfa promotes digestion and can encourage weight gain in wasting patients.
Alfalfa is a wonderful detoxifying herb, and can reduce cholesterol, help to heal anemia, and encourage proper bowel movement through supporting the liver. It has anti-fungal components and also promotes proper pituitary gland functioning (involved in most other endocrine/neurological processes in the body). A wonderful restoring herb after a round of antibiotics.
After periods of growth and change, Alfalfa can serve to rejuvenate the body and spirit in its new state. It has a very balancing and supportive energetic structure, alkalizing on the physical level and the spiritual (gently dissolving anger, resistance and resentment).
Aloe is an adaptogenic plant, working in different ways for each person depending on the imbalance or healing they’re dealing with. It can be used both internally and externally, but has similar effects both ways.
Aloe is a cell proliferative. It has the ability to increase the creation of human fibroblasts between six and eight times of normal, making it invaluable in healing wounds (internal and external) and burns. Containing high levels of antioxidants and trace minerals, it is highly immunosupportive and detoxifying. Aloe has been found to increase the thymus gland by 40%, which is responsible for creating T cells and supporting the overall immune function of the body. The anti-inflammatory effects of Aloe have been proven to be as strong as conventionally prescribed pharmaceuticals, without any of the associated side effects.
Aloe vera is antiviral, antifungal, and antibacterial, and is effective at reducing H. pylori bacteria associated with stomach ulcers. It also has anti-tumor effects and has been found to prevent the spread of malignant cancer cells.
Aloe taken internally is nourishing and protective during times of upheaval or change, alkalizing the physical system when spiritual or emotional stress increases acidity. It provides the formative space that allows full creativity and power to be expressed.
One of my favorite herbalists/healers, Stephen Buhner, writes about Angelica frequently, as he believes it is one of the most powerful herbs available to females when they are experiencing a kind of ‘loss of self’. Traditional Chinese Medicine has also thought the same for the last few thousand years, as this is one of the most commonly prescribed herbs for female imbalances.
Angelica is a very tall, stately, beautiful plant, growing most often in slightly boggy or marshy conditions. It was said to have been revealed to humans as a healer for the plague in a dream, hence the name ‘archangelica’. This plant was so highly regarded that it was called “The Root of the Holy Ghost”.
Angelica is a sedative and a stomachic, effective in digestive disturbances when there is stress or anxiety involved. She reduces intestinal gas, coughs, colds, and fevers. Angelica stimulates the period and regulates the menstrual cycle, and is considered an overall wonderful tonic for women. Angelica can be applied externally as a poultice to broken bones and bruises, and used as a mouthwash when there is infection or inflammation.
Angelica, on a spiritual level, is like a matronly, loving, incredibly strong woman caring for her children. She protects against negative thought patterns coming from other people as well as those which are internally created, stimulating us to rethink and reframe our perspective on life from that empowered feminine angle.
A member of the daisy family, Arnica contains roughly 50 different species. It is the montana varietal that contains the most potent and well-known medicine, however. It has become one of the most frequently used healers for traumatic circumstances, applied to bruises, breaks and for emotional trauma.
A gel made from arnia contains a particular kind of lactone, which can go into the recently traumatized area and reduce swelling and water retention, allowing the bruising to heal much faster and with much less pain. It also helps to mop up inflammatory by-products and lactic acid, both of which contribute to pain and lengthened healing times. Most commonly it is prepared as a homeopathic product, focusing more on the energetic abilities of the plant than the physical components.
Arnica should not be taken internally unless with the guidance of an experienced practitioner. This plant is both healer and poison, if taken incorrectly.
Energetically, Arnica is a feminine and yet forceful plant, with a signature similar to a protective and strong mother. When you are hurt, Arnica has the ability to clear up the emotional stagnation and potential for pattern creation, allowing you to heal well in that moment because of the presence of unconditional regard and support. She is nurturing and soothing, and yet possesses the strength necessary to stimulate circulation and healing at the same time.
A healing plant native to Indian and long utilized in Ayurvedic medicine, Holy Basil is one of my most favorite allies for people in the 21st century. Its healing abilities are so strong that in many places in India it is nearly illegal to not have a plant growing in your house or yard. Holy Basil is a ‘rasayana’, a plant that gives long life and perfect health.
So much of our disease begins in our mind, and especially for those experiencing the increase in pace and boundless levels of stress endemic to our modern world. Holy basil has the ability to modulate our bodies creation and utilization of cortisol, one of the main ‘stress hormones’. While cortisol is useful in the short term in response to stress—for mobilizing energy, increasing immunity temporarily, and moving blood to the limbs for action and movement—long term creation and exposure is extremely damaging. Holy basil is classified as an ‘adaptogen’ due to its abilities to regulate and balance cortisol expression.
Holy basil is also hepato (liver) protective, antibacterial, antiviral, expectorant (relieving congestion in the lungs), and incredibly antioxidant. It is known to protect our cells from radiation better than most isolated nutrients. It has also been studied in diabetes, and found to significantly lower blood sugar levels, and protects the cells from oxidative damage due to this imbalance. Holy basil is excellent for memory and attention, and is a potent antidepressant.
Holy basil is a wonderful friend for those people who are experiencing a form of depression due to old experiences that they can’t get over. It has the ability to help liberate our minds and spirits from the past, while simultaneously preventing overt anxiety about the future. Like many other adaptogens, it is a potent healer with regards to our life path and larger spiritual lessons, and, used for a longer period of time, can significantly help us to move past ‘thinking’ our way out of things and into an experience of greater understanding.
Like many other healing herbs that have been relegated to the status of spices only, Bay is a powerful healer that has been utilized for centuries before it became just an ingredient in soup stock.
A small, beautiful tree indigenous to Europe, Bay grows all over the Californian coast now, filling the air with a savory perfume in the spring and fall.
Bay has been historically used to relieve gas in stomach complaints and colic, and high doses of the leaves can be used to bring on menstruation (and should therefore not be used during pregnancy). Bay is considered a diaphoretic herb, meaning that it can induce perspiration so that the body may expel toxins more easily, and is extremely effective in healing the early stages of an ulcer.
The distilled oil of Bay is commonly used as a pain relieving ointment for arthritis, and may also be sprayed in the air (when mixed with water or a carrier oil) to protect from viruses.
Bay is associated with Leo and the sun, carrying a warming energy that is the basis of its diaphoretic physical effects. It is a gentle remedy, but, used long term, very effective in imbalances that are not deeply rooted. Bay is a stimulant to the body and mind, and can be especially effective for those people who tend to turn too far inwards during winter, or who place too much focus on the feminine qualities and find it difficult to move into action.
Like other thistle family members, Blessed Thistle is a bitter, liver-loving tonic, a digestive stimulant, and a depurative, helping the body to process and remove fats effectively (through stimulating bile creation and removal from the liver). It has been effectively used and studied in cancer treatment/prevention, it’s action effective through the increased detoxification and balancing effect it has on the liver. Like Milk Thistle, Blessed Thistle is a hepatoprotective, helping the liver by shielding it from incoming toxins so that it may regenerate effectively.
Blessed thistle is considered a top female tonic, helping to regulate the cycles and hormones, and can be used safely to increase milk flow when breast feeding.
Also effective for stimulating the appetite and reducing nausea associated with overeating or indulging, Blessed Thistle reduces headaches, increases energy, and may stimulate the effective action of the immune system when there is infection.
As with all liver tonics and hepatoprotective, the effect on the energy system and emotions is one of supporting personal power and confidence. The third chakra being the root of creative power as it is expressed in the world (and where most of us are pretty stifled/blocked/stagnant in modern culture) is highly affected by herbs such as Blessed Thistle, and can be gradually cleared or rejuvenated when this healer is used for more extended periods of time.
Both the leaves and the berries of this beautiful plant have healing properties, though for very different areas and imbalances in the body.
The leaves are a potent diuretic, having a cool and astringent character that directly affects liver function and water balance in the kidneys. They are effective in regulating the blood sugar of those who are borderline diabetic or have recently been diagnosed. The leaves have similar properties to uva ursi, and can be used to balance the kidneys during UTI’s, though with less intense drying action. As a tea the leaves are also excellent for menstrual cramps.
The berries have been used for healing for centuries, though in the Western world were first noted as potent healers during World War II. British pilots had been eating the berries, and noted that they had significantly better night vision after consuming them for a while, and modern research has confirmed this. Bilberry is a very effective medicine for many eye-related imbalances, such as diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration, cataracts, and glaucoma. The berries are sweet and nourishing, and also have an affinity for the liver (which would explain their ability to balance the eyes, as the eyes are considered the ‘expression’ of the liver in Traditional Chinese Medicine).
Bilberry has long been associated with Jupiter, and is said to bring luck and abundance to those who use it. With it’s ability to clear obstruction in the liver and kidneys, billberry can be very useful for those individuals (often women) who have a hard time expressing anger and their true emotions, stifling them out of embarrassment or social pressure to be ‘nice’. Not that the berries will pull all this anger out and force it to be expressed, but may support the liver and third chakra to have a more solid sense of personal power and will, and then be better able to monitor and process upsetting experiences.
Lappa means to ‘hold fast’ in Latin, and for those of you who have ever encountered these tenacious little burdock burrs you’ll know exactly how fitting the name is. Often considered to be the bane of gardeners and farmers for its sticky burrs and incredibly strong network of immovable and fast-growing roots, Burdock is one of the most widely used and appreciated herbs in North America.
Also called Gobo in Asian cuisine and medicine, Burdock is packed with minerals like its cousin the artichoke. Adaptogenic in nature—helping our bodies to adapt to and manage stress appropriately—Burdock has the ability to reach deep into long-seated imbalances, working from the inside out to facilitate profound healing. Like it digs deep into the ground as it grows, so does it have the ability to do the same in us.
Burdock is a blood cleanser, meaning that it tones and supports both the kidneys and the liver. It is excellent at reducing irritated skin conditions, especially those which are hot or inflamed, or with allergy-related conditions such as eczema.
As with all liver and detoxification-oriented healers, Burdock has the ability to clear obstructions to our personal power and sense of meaning in life. As opposed to other plants which may only work with recent or more obvious stagnations in our physical and emotional bodies, Burdock can go right to the root of us, deep within (childhood or beyond) and clear out whatever may be negatively influencing our current experience. At the same time as it is moving these out, it also nourishes and supports us to create a new experience of our place and individual existence.
Calendula has been used for centuries for skin wounds and irritations. It is anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-bacterial, immunostimulant, anti-fungal and astringent, making it invaluable in relieving infected skin conditions. Nearly all rashes, irritations, cuts, burns, and wounds benefit from an application of calendula, either in a salve form or as a wash.
Calendula stimulates collagen production, and will reduce scarring at injury sites and stretch marks during growth periods.
As a mouth wash, calendula can be gargled to relieve throat irritations and mouth infections, and combined with sea salt it can be very effective in relieving tooth pain.
Calendula can be cooked in soups or taken internally as an immunostimulant, and will also work to encourage healthy boundaries and a release of energetic stagnation. This is a warming herb that is useful in conditions of dampness and stagnation, bringing yang and power into situations where we may have lost our sense of self or purpose.
Celandine has been used in medicine since Roman times, utilized as an eye wash and antispasmodic.
Contemporary research confirms that the plant has several narcotic and sedative chemical constituents which work to temporarily relieve pain and tension. It has a particular affinity for the liver and gallbladder, and is very effective in relieving gallstone pain and in purifying the blood through detoxifying the liver.
As the condition of the liver is expressed in the skin, Celandine is effective in clearing conditions like eczema, allergies, skin cancers, warts and psoriasis. Applied as a poultice, Celandine may assist the body in breaking down uterine fibroids as well.
Celandine enhances our ability to access greater wisdom and learning, and opens us up physically (often through releasing resistance in the liver system) to the insights available through spirituality and connection. It allows us to think clearly and make excellent decisions based not on mind conditioning and habit, but on higher awareness.
Chamomile (Chamomilla recutita)
More than just the mild, sweet tea that helps you sleep, chamomile has a long list of medicinal properties.
It contains anti-spasmodic chemicals which are beneficial for anxiety or muscle tension, and releases stagnation and tension in the internal organs as well, especially the liver. It is antibacterial and may be applied (in a teabag) directly to the skin for surface infections or wounds, or on the eyes when there is inflammation or viral infection.
Chamomile is a digestive aid and soothes the entire digestive tract, effective for those with ulcerous conditions or sensitive stomachs, and is very effective (in combination with ginger and some honey) in relieving morning sickness. Applied as an oil or taken internally, chamomile reduces the pain in rheumatic arthritis and menstrual complaints.
Chamomile has protective qualities while at the same time being purifying and active. It is a humble but powerful plant, and conveys the same gentle strength to those who use it.
Both the bark and the fruit of Horse Chestnut have medicinal properties, having a particular affinity for the intestines and a neutral, slightly bitter but gentle character. Horse chestnut contains a saponin called aescin, which conveys particularly potent anti-inflammatory action to this beautiful tree.
Horse chestnut is effective for arthritis, venous health, nerve pain, and capillarity integrity. It helps to reduce spider veins and the pain associated with them, and with general circulatory insufficiencies in the extremities. It may reduce swelling in breaks or sprains, and is a great aid in arterial hardening, stroke, hemorrhoids and general trauma.
This plant—generally the bark—is often added to cosmetic lotions and oils, as it support capillary integrity topically as well as internally, reducing redness and slowing the aging process.
Horse chestnut has long been associated with the quality of patience, though its ability to support circulation and venous health implies that it also spiritually works on our ability to circulate and express our creativity and life work. Having a particular affinity for the legs, Horse chestnut can remind us of the necessity of connecting and gathering energy from the earth upwards, something so often lost when people live in the city and don’t have a physical (or emotional) connection to the planet. A free flow of this support can prevent and heal vein injuries, and Horse chestnut may expediate this process.
This is one of my favorite herbs, and quite possibly one of my favorite plants. Even as a child I think I had a strong relationship with this beautiful little flower.
The soft and unassuming appearance of chickweed possibly makes one think that it couldn’t carry the medicinal strength that it does, but this plant has properties and characteristics that make it essential for any medicine herbal cabinet. It is common and considered a weed by most.
Chickweed contains a considerable amount of saponins, which act like cortisone in the body as far as controlling inflammation, and yet have none of the harmful immunological side effects. This herb is demulcent (soothing to the intestinal tract), excellent expectorant for coughs, expectorant (for congested lungs), and extremely emollient. It is often made into a salve and applied externally to skin irritations and rashes.
As a weight loss aid, chickweed supplies essential minerals to balance and support metabolism, reduces water retention, and can help to balance an overactive appetite. The saponins, which increase the permeability of cell membranes, can help to ensure that cells are receiving adequate nutrition. As contradictory as it may sound, often people who eat the most are getting the least nutrition into the cells, as their cellular membranes are composed of inappropriate fatty acids or there is chronic inflammation occurring. Chickweed helps to balance both aspects.
Chickweed, through supporting the integrity and balance of the physical body, helps us to feel strong and capable enough to then open up to higher insights and knowledge. She assists us in gently dissolving those things that are no longer working in our lives (stored as physical stagnation) and aids in creating a sense of trust and flow in our life process.
Red clover is a sweet herb with an affinity for the blood, liver, lungs and heart. It is a powerful blood cleanser, used often for any kind of skin irritations like eczema or psoriasis (as these are always rooted in an internal inflammatory conditionor imbalance of some kind, and not just the skin alone reacting!).
Clover is also an antitumor herb, and has long been used for cancerous or cystic conditions in any area of the body. It has the ability to thin the blood slightly, helping to reduce the discomfort of many degenerative diseases, and can also help to break down mucous congestion in the lungs, and reduces the intensity of coughs, colds and fevers. It’s body is composed of many minerals, and can assist in achieving a more alkaline state in our bodies when we have drank too much alcohol or eaten too much meat and refined sweets. There is a diuretic quality to clover that makes it particularly good when the kidneys and liver are challenged, too.
Of course, as we likely already knew when we were children, clover has long been a symbol of good luck and prosperity. The four-leafed kinds especially.
Red clover has a connection with the fifth chakra—our throat center, associated with communication and ‘speaking our truth’. This flower has the ability to open up blockages here, allowing us access to our deeper truths and powers of clear speech.
Comfrey—also known as Knitbone—is a fast-acting and efficient healer when there are broken bones, acute wounds, sores, and ulcers. It contains a compound called allantoin that increases cell proliferation, stimulating the body to heal faster than it normally would. The plant itself can quickly regenerate from a small piece of root when planted, and it carries this efficient energy into our bodies as well.
Comfrey is astringent—drying out the mucus membranes when there is infection and constricting blood vessels—but also demulcent, meaning that it soothes and moisturizes dried out membranes. In this manner it is a kind of immunological adaptogen, capable of supporting the body in whatever manner it needs. Comfrey can be applied as a poultice externally to bruises and sprains, and is often used as a salve in this way.
Comfrey is a very complicated healer, however, and should only be used under the guidance of an experienced herbalist or practitioner. There have been some studies which suggest that comfrey may cause liver damage when consumed for long periods of time, though other studies suggest that it in fact heals and supports the liver. Like many natural remedies, there is a complexity to this plant in healing that requires attention and patience in understanding.
Comfrey is an excellent healer for people who are in need of structure and form in their lives and who quite possibly have been aimless or flailing about for too long. It creates structure that is not imposing or restricting, however, but a supportive network from which one can then walk out confidently in the world. It assists us in releasing somatic trauma that may be influencing our choices and life experience long after the original incident.
Although dandelion is a powerful herb in nearly all the systems of the body, it is its effects on the liver that are truly the most powerful. A cholagogue (bile-stimulating) diuretic, dandelion influences the liver to work through toxins and excess hormones far more efficiently, effectively reducing the toxic load of the entire body. As it can actually help to clear obstructions in the liver and gallbladder, dandelion, with its extremely high mineral content, aids in the building and purifying of blood, a task completed by a healthy liver. Dandelion has been known to cure cases of hepatitis faster than conventional drugs (which only work to suppress symptoms, not actually heal).
Along with the liver, dandelion also helps to clear the spleen and kidneys of excessive toxic buildup or obstruction, and has a fortifying and stimulating effect in the stomach and intestines. It also helps to reduce high blood pressure and diabetes.
In the spring, our livers and detoxification systems are in dire need of help to slough off the weight and burden of the winter months. It is lucky (and not just strange coincidence) that dandelion and other bitter green plants are available at this time.
Individuals who really benefit from dandelion tend to express characteristics of the plant itself: tenacious, tough, resilient. And just a little bit too irritated and impatient (emotions associated with the liver). Dandelion can inspire one to take a bit of quiet and downtime, something that doesn’t come naturally to people who need it the most, of course. As a third chakra tonic, this herb has the ability to stimulate awareness of real personal power. Not the kind of power expressed through force and controlled will, but that of personal knowing, compassion, and creative integrity.
Echinacea is one of the more common herbal remedies used today, often known for its ability to stimulate immunity and help protect against viral colds. Its healing abilities stretch far beyond just this one area, however, and are in fact far more extensive than people give this beautiful flower credit for.
Echinacea is a mild but deep acting remedy, excellent for all inflammatory conditions. Whether there is an acute infection or a chronic allergic reaction behind the inflammation, frequent small doses of Echinacea have the ability to balance inflammatory processes while simultaneously stimulating blood purification to clear the body of residual toxins and metabolic by-products. It has been studied and found to be effective in cancer, viral infections, arthritis, and even AIDS. In the late 19th century it was used as a cure for syphilis and gonorrhea, and possesses excellent anti-spirochetal and antibacterial properties.
Echinacea may also be applied externally for wounds, skin irritations, acne and eczema, and may be used as an effective mouthwash for infections and gingivitis.
Echinacea is a member of the daisy family, and has an affinity for the liver and blood systems. It brings a quality of patience to the healing process, and can be an effective remedy for those people who think that colds are something you ‘push through’ with pharmaceutical remedies and no rest, and who likely take this aggressive stance on most other areas of their life as well. It is a plant that teaches us to align ourselves with the reality of our existence: that this is what is happening right now, and to rally against it or resent it for being present does nothing but frustrate our own creative energies.
Elderberry is effective in reducing cholesterol, improving eyesight, supporting the heart, and for immune support in bacterial, viral, and fungal infections.
Flavanoids, biological compounds thought to be responsible for the efficacy of Elderberry in immunological imbalances, are powerful antioxidants, protecting the cells from damage during illness or stress. This encourages the body to heal faster and express less intense symptoms than if the herb wasn’t present. Elderberrry also stimulates the production of cytokines, the messengers of the immune system that help modulate the body’s response, and is an effective expectorant when there is chest congestion or asthmatic symptoms.
It is the protective effect that elderberries have on the liver which encourages the appropriate breakdown and removal of excess cholesterol.
Elderberry oil has a thick, smooth consistency and aids in healing burns and minor skin irritations.
The tree itself has long been considered a protector and symbol of good luck. Through its biological constituents it does exactly this, and the energetics of the plant convey the same.
Siberian Ginseng, or Eleuthero, much like its ginseng cousins, is an adaptogen, encouraging a balanced response to stress in both the body and mind. Through supporting the neuroendocrine (mind/body) system, Eleuthero prevents ‘adrenal burnout’ symptoms from excessive or intense stress, including immune deficiency, low energy, memory loss and lack of focus, and depression/anxiety.
By supporting the vitality and balance of the body, Eleuthero increases athletic performance and metabolism, allowing people to exercise longer and faster without stressing the adrenal glands or decreasing energy.
Siberian ginseng is excellent for A blood types, and those individuals who tend to overreact physically to mental or emotional stressors in their life, as these ‘Type A” people tend to suffer more burnout symptoms than others.
As with other adaptogens, Siberian Ginseng is a power plant, one that conveys a sense of resilience and presence to anyone who takes it. While the effects generally take 4-6 weeks to really be seen, often those who are pretty worn out will feel the support and strength of the plant almost immediately.
Also known as ma-huang in Traditional Chinese Medicine, ephedra is actually a conider—called a ‘joint fir’—that functions as a stimulant and antihistamine, and has been used in traditional healing for 60,000 years. Never meant to be used for long, ephedra is a powerful healer with immediate effects, but can lead to long term damage if overused.
Ephedra was served in brothels throughout the settled West, primarily because of its stimulating characteristics. This stimulating nature—a result of the alkaloid ephedrine within the stems—is what makes it a marvel for colds and flus, and for moving ‘stuck’ energy in the sinuses when allergies have been chronic or overwhelming. It is also a potent antiviral. Ephedra dilates the bronchial vessels and is an antispasmodic, making it a marvel for asthmatic conditions and other respiratory issues. It has also been used for venereal diseases and conditions of the stomach.
This is not a herb to play around with, and you want to make sure that you are working with a Herbalist if you decide to introduce it.
Spiritually and energetically, Ephedra is like a kick in the ass, powerfully shifting an individual from a state of lethargy and apathy into action and movement. It is very much like a drill sergeant (a kind, non-dual and wise one, altho), invigorating the energetic system in an intense and immediate way.
Also known as Euphrasia, Eyebright is a rightfully named herb considering main points of the healing it’s capable of.
Most of the therapeutic effects of Eyebright center around supporting and protecting the eyes, reducing inflammatory conditions and infections (such as conjunctivitis), and soothing strained or bloodshot eyes. The herb is thought to protect the eyes as we age, reducing the ‘expected’ decline in vision most people experience. Eyebright is usually applied as a poultice or tea bag directly to the eyes, though as it is quite astringent it should only be used for a few days at a time.
Taken internally, Eyebright is effective in treating colds, sinusitis, and seasonal allergies. By employing its astringent properties to tighten mucus membranes, Eyebright makes it difficult for bacteria and viruses to be able to adhere to respiratory surfaces.
Eyebright is also an excellent tonic for infected or acne-prone skin, applied as a wash or tincture, and has constituent compounds which support memory and focus when taken internally as a tea.
As much as it nourishes ‘seeing’ in the physical world, Eyebright has also been long used to stimulate spiritual awareness and ‘seeing’ in the immaterial, assisting people in tuning into their own innate wisdom and that of dreams and intuitions.
Fennel has diuretic, antispasmodic, stimulant, and carminative effects. It has commonly been used as a digestive aid for this reason, as it will relieve gas, stomach irritation and a sense of overfullness after eating. Through soothing the muscles of the digestive tract and reducing inflammation, Fennel aids in moving food through the system.
Fennel has been used for centuries in bronchitis and cough as well, as its soothing abilities affect the muscle tissue of the lungs as well. It is a sweet and nourishing herb, that while being stimulatory to the mind and awareness by its smell, also will not aggravate stagnant energies or conditions by creating too much movement, too fast. Fennel is excellent for nursing mothers to increase milk flow, and has a gently purifying effect on the liver and kidneys.
Fennel is a plant of courage and strength, through supporting movement in the liver system and releasing stagnated personal power. It is excellent for those people who tend towards anger rather than weepiness when confronted, as it will soothe and sweeten their disposition while simultaneously reducing the physical and spiritual aggravation.
Feverfew is a marvelous and beautiful little flower, though its unassuming appearance betrays the medicine and magic of it. A potent anti-inflammatory, its name comes from the word febrifuge, meaning to reduce fever. Native to Europe, it was brought to North America by settlers and continues to grow wild here now.
Feverfew has been clinically proven as effective for migraines, menstrual complaints, arthritis, high blood pressure, muscle pain, tinnitus, kidney issues, stomach irritation and colitis.
Feverfew is a loving and protective plant, capable of banishing unwanted energies and influences from the body. Planted outside of your home, it is believed to protect the inhabitants from illness and injury, and is often included in medicine bundles for protection.
A relatively new healer to the Western world, Forsythia has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for thousands of years, known as lian qiao. It is a bitter and ‘cold’ herb, with a particular affinity for the heart, lung and gallbladder systems.
Forsythia is a potent antiviral, and is extremely effective in treating colds, fevers, earaches, and other viral infections. It is a blood purifier and therefore may be of great help with headaches and skin imbalances. Forsythia has been proven to be more effective in treating bronchitis than pharmaceutical drugs, without any of the negative side effects (such as resistant bacterial strains).
With affinity for the heart and lungs, Forsythia is well suited to those individuals who are sensitive and experience grief quite intensely. They tend to ‘feel’ more than the average person, and have a hard time letting go of old pain and injustices because their memory is so acute. Without adequate personal boundaries they may be more susceptible to every virus and bacteria that comes along, and Forsythia can assist in both protecting them temporarily and fortifying their personal reserves so that they may not be quite so open and vulnerable in the long term.
Garlic is a well-known and well-loved healing herb, used for over 5000 years to deter vampires and internal parasites alike. Okay, vampires not so sure of, but if you think of the role of parasites as being relatively similar to that of a conceptual vampire—removing life energy from us while we gain nothing in return—you can understand why this plant was long associated with that role as well.
Garlic is potent, incredibly potent. Known as “Russian penicillin” by European and Nordic cultures, Garlic was worshipped by the Greeks and chewed by Roman warriors and athletes to maintain their vigor and overall health. Garlic allows our bodies to take up more oxygen, strengthens the immune system in many ways, and fortifies our vitality overall.
Garlic contains over 100 sulfur-based compounds, many of which are responsible for its ability to decrease cholesterol levels, prevent heart disease and plaque formation, dissolve gallstones and kidney stones, purify the blood, and convey strong antifungal and antibacterial properties to those who consume it.
Because of the direct connection between gut health and mental health, garlic has also been found to improve emotional outlook and benefit those suffering from symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Garlic is ruled by and connected to Mars and the fire element, and can be wonderful for those individuals suffering from an overabundance of Vatta or Kapha tendencies, supporting the expression and development of their internal fire in both physiology and emotion. This quality supports the use of garlic when we are in need of a serious kick in the pants; when we have stood too long in a static or apathetic place and cannot seem to move into action and concise decision making.
The root of this beautiful flower has been long revered and utilized as a medicine (and delicious addition to food) in Indian and Asian cultures. A potent anti-inflammatory and warming herb, ginger is now utilized throughout the world as an effective healer.
Ginger reduces nausea, relieves osteoarthritic symptoms, eases muscle pain, and can support sweating to allow fevers and illnesses to run their course. It is effective against strains of antibiotic resistant bacteria in the colon, and contains at least nine compounds found to be interactive with the serotonin receptor sites in our body. Through this interaction it stimulates or regulates gut activity and digestion as well as mental and emotional well-being. Yes, ginger is a natural antidepressant.
Smaller doses of ginger have been found to be more effective than a normal intake of aspirin, and with no side effects.
Ginger, taken in combination with other herbs, seems to have a supportive and amplifying effect, especially when used where viral or bacterial infections are present. It’s like it behaves as the fire that drives other healers to do their work more efficiently and effectively. Because of its heating and stimulating properties, it is wonderful for heart disease and circulation concerns as well. In TCM this characteristic is labeled ‘pungency’, meaning that it is able to dispel cold in the body.
In a spiritual and emotional sense, Ginger stimulates movement in all systems, though certainly in the liver, allowing us to remove old emotional toxins and unprocessed experiences, and motivating movement to a more vigorous and ‘warm’ way of being in the world. Of course it has a direct effect on the serotonin activity in our gut, affecting our overall emotional status, but ginger can also reduce our resistance to life or challenges, and invigorate an internal sense of knowing that says we can do this, not matter what is presenting itself.
In Europe, Ginkgo is the most commonly prescribed herbal medicine, and is utilized within the top 10 in North America. Like horsetail, Ginkgo is a survivor of millions of years of evolution, and has no living relatives within the plant kingdom. It was thought to have disappeared from the fossil record seven million years ago, but then was rediscovered in Japan, and is now cultivated worldwide. It is different than every other tree existing on the planet today, as it is a deciduous conifer, meaning that its leaves fall off every year, and it reproduces sexually, as there is a female and a male ginkgo tree.
Ginkgo has this amazing ability to stimulate movement, internally assisting in conditions of stagnancy or decreased circulation, such as Alzheimers, Reynaud’s, tinnitus, memory issues, cardiac imbalances, and edema. Ginkgo relaxes the blood vessels while simultaneously increasing circulation, and as such conveys wonderful healing to any parts of the body which are suffering from reduced flow (the brain is a big one, often). The seeds of the tree have also been used to treat lung conditions such as asthma, as they convey a similar quality which increases bronchial function and oxygen exchange.
Again, as with horsetail, Gingko—with its 200 million year old lineage—helps to reconnected us with the history and depth of life on earth. Through its energetic and physical capabilities in increasing flow and circulation, gingko can serve to wake us up from our modern stupor through connecting us with larger vision and meaning, and helping us to see how we are part of a larger system. The lack of flow that results from not living this way is manifested many ways, but reduced mental capacity, heart function, lung function and blood circulation are all characteristic. Gingko, in its beautiful (and it is so beautiful, really) intelligence, reminds us that we are supported and part of a whole.
I love this plant, and I think I have always loved this plant. Even as a child growing up in Canada, there was something incredibly magical about it, with its beautiful golden blooms. Now recognized as a potent healer, Goldenseal has become rarer and rarer, and is considered quite endangered by many who use it for medicinal purposes.
This is a powerful plant. It is an antibiotic, capable of reducing the population of infectious agents far better than man-made antibiotics (without the development of resistant strains, as well), though works on inflammatory conditions, allergies, respiratory imbalances, and general debility. Goldenseal is healing for the entire digestive tract, reducing ulcers and gastritis, but also can support and heal the urinary tract and lungs as well. It is a whole-body healer, something that is not that commonly found (and, thus, it’s declining availability due to popularity).
Goldenseal is wonderful for the liver, stimulating detoxification and glandular function by increasing bile output and digestive enzyme production. It supports the spleen (which then affects total immune function) and can help to relieve constipation that is associated with stagnant liver function or toxic overload.
The plant contains several active compounds and nutrients, including calcium, manganese, vitamin C, A and E, and many others. Like Oregon Grape Root (which is often considered a cheaper and more available alternative), Goldenseal contains high levels of the compound berberine, which is responsible for it’s yellow color and strong antibiotic/astringent qualities.
Goldenseal on a spiritual and energetic level is like a really compassionate, loving, intense kick in the ass. It gets things moving, and supports the whole system of our physical and non-physical existence to clear out what is not serving our higher good, stimulate the body and mind to establish more clear and confident patterns, and to give us the opportunity to truly understand our full capacities. It is an entelechy herb, on all levels, supporting the evolution of our individual and collective states through providing the necessary strength we need to grow.
One of the most widely used Ayurvedic herbs, Gotu kola is a common and widespread beautiful little plant found in India. Considered to be one of the more spiritual and important plants used in that healing system, Gotu kola affects nearly every system of the body in a moderately adaptogenic manner.
Main uses of the herb center around nervous health and brain function, preventing and treating memory challenges and degenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s. This plant is also effective for high blood pressure, skin irritations and pigmentation irregularities, increasing sex drive, improving mood and energy, reducing cellulite, and improving concentration, among others. It is a high mineral and vitamin-containing blood cleanser, and has triterpenoid compounds which make it effective in increasing vessel integrity and venous health.
Gotu kola is used by yogis for meditative practices, as it has an affinity for the crown chakra and can assist in balancing the right and left brain hemispheres. Combined with a session of alternate nostril breathing, a tea of Gotu kola can be beneficial for those people who find their mediation practice more than just a little bit challenging. It is a Shen tonic in Traditional Chinese Medicine, meaning that it helps to bring the heart and mind back into the body and keep them at peace. Again…something that many of us could use.
Grindelia—sometimes called ‘gumplant—is a marvelous little flower native to California, and a potent healer for kidney conditions (acting as a diuretic), asthmatic and lung such as pertussis, and stimulates movement in the spleen and liver when there has been congestion. As a malaria remedy, Grindelia reduces inflammation in the liver and spleen, and acts as an expectorant for congestion in the lungs. It is also a marvelous ointment and dressing for rashes, burns and insect bites.
Because of its action on the liver and spleen, energetically Grindelia is associated with moving power and internal will, and assisting us in processing old sadness that is locked in our lung system. When our sense of ability to act and create in our lives has been diminished or damaged, Grindelia (like other hepatic stimulatants) can help to alleviate this blockage. However, the intensity of this herb demands that we only explore its healing with a trained professional, as large amounts—like many herbs—act like poison instead of medicine.
There are over 1000 species and varietals of Hawthorn found all over the world, but it is this variation—oxyacantha—that is the dense, prickly tree most commonly used in healing. Known to be a potent remedy for the heart and circulatory systems, Hawthorn was said to be created by Thor in a bolt of lightning.
Hawthorn has been recorded in medical texts since the 15th century, noted for palpitations, insomnia, hypertension, and other heart ailments. It is a diuretic, excellent for improving the health of the bladder and kidneys, and has also been used effectively for depression, gout, fever, and digestive complaints.
As a circulatory agent, Hawthorn is capable of overriding ‘angiotensin converting enzymes’ (ACES) in the body, resulting in the blood vessels remaining open and allowing for better blood movement. For those people who have high triglycerides or calcium deposits in their blood, this can make all the difference in heart disease and diabetes. Hawthorn also helps to increase the elasticity of the vessel membranes, allowing them to flex and contract more easily.
Hawthorn is associated with the Owl and Saturn, assisting individuals in opening up to insight, creative expression, patience, and the possibility of magic in their life. Through supporting body circulation it does the same thing for our mental/emotional/spiritual experience, increasing free flow of thoughts and ideas, and warming and opening our hearts.
This incredible plant has been around since the days of the dinosaurs, and has stayed almost exactly the same for those however many hundreds of millions of years. In my estimation, this is a testament to its perfect ‘entelechy’ state. Horsetail is so amazing that it hasn’t felt the need to change a thing.
Horsetail is an astringent herb, and is effective in treating prostate inflammation, any kidney/bladder issues or infections, and hemorrhaging by helping to temporarily dry out the mucus membranes. Used as a compress, it reduces bleeding and inflammation, and can help the skin to heal. Horsetail is full of minerals—silica is a big one—which makes it wonderful for increasing skin and hair health, and for supporting proper calcium deposition and maintenance. Horsetail absorbs gold from the soil that it is grown in, and in healing this can be immensely valuable for arthritic conditions.
On an energetic and spiritual level, Horsetail is a great healer for individuals who have a difficult time with their own solidity and boundaries. Highly sensitive people often express what is called a Silica constitution in homeopathy, expressing such symptoms as tiredness, lack of resolve, and a somewhat wishy-washy temperament. Just as the homeopathic remedy of this mineral can help to balance those tendencies, so can Horsetail remedy and balance us, re-mineralizing us in every way , without creating ‘hardness’.
One of the most nourishing, nutrient-dense plants on earth, Kelp has been found to contain all 92 trace elements known to be essential to human health, vegetable-based vitamin D, 25 different vitamins, and several other biological active compounds such as sodium alginate (which protects our bodies against radioactive activity). It is a strong source of iodine, which helps to heal and support the thyroid gland.
Kelp stimulates the immune system, and has been found to protect against the development of breast cancer as well as supporting the overall functioning and proliferation of response cells. Kelp has a supportive effective on the entire digestive system, nourishing not only our human cells but the abundance (predominance, really) of bacterial cells that inhabit our gut and keep us alive. Kelp is antibacterial, antifungal, antitumor, and has sedative properties that reduce stress.
By its basic supportive nature, Kelp conveys a sense of protection and shielding to us. Now recognized as one of the most powerful radioactive protectors on the planet, we can see exactly what it does on an energetic level by what it conveys on the physical. A kind of ‘shield’ that—especially when we’re travelling or similarly in ‘upheaval’—allows us to be not so disturbed by new energies, challenges, and situations. It is a strong and masculine herb, like a protective and patient father.
Not the favorite plant of many gardeners and landowners, Kudzu was brought to North America to decorate but has become a highly invasive, fast-growing and pain-in-the-ass species here. It is a beautiful vine that forms a thick mat rather difficult to penetrate in no time at all.
Kudzu is also, however, an incredible healer. Used as a tea or tincture it is powerful in heart problems, high blood pressure, allergies, migraines, fever and headache. It has strong protective qualities due to isoflavones contained within that are similar to our natural estrogen (though with lower biological activity) and can prevent overstimulation from this hormone and other exogenous toxins. This also makes it a wonderful healer for menopause, circulation issues, and to maintain calcium presence in the bone matrix.
The most commonly utilized healing characteristic of Kudzu is its ability to support the liver and prevent alcohol cravings, however. Kudzu has this remarkable ability to sober up someone who has drank too much, and not only protects and stimulates liver renewal, but simultaneously reduces the desire to drink in a big way. The actual manner in which it accomplishes this is not known, but has been used by alcoholics and those looking to improve their health through detoxification for centuries.
Physically Kudzu has a soothing and thick, carbohydrate-based quality, nurturing to the whole system, and it conveys the same on an energetic level. The urge to drink heavily is always in an attempt to soothe unprocessed trauma or patterning, though in reality this mode of ‘healing’ (drinking until you forget about it) only serves to compound the issues further, of course. Kudzu can temporarily soothe those unpleasant energetic challenges, reducing the desire or need for alcohol, and potentially allowing our bodies and minds to heal enough that we will be able to more effectively work through them.
It’s likely that you have something in your home or personal care products that contains lavender. Ubiquitous in perfumes, Lavender was originally included in home products as a tolerable (actually quite lovely) insect repellant.
The oil is potent and immediately recognizable, containing a broad spectrum of volatile oils and flavonoids. In aromatherapy Lavender is used to treat depression and nervous anxiety, and may be used as a tea (usually in combination with a few other relaxing herbs such as lemon balm, skullcap and chamomile) for the same purposes. Lavender is also carminative, meaning that it can help to reduce gas and irritation in the intestinal tract when consumed.
Lavender has slightly estrogenic properties, meaning that it will act like a very weak form of this feminine hormone when in the body (and even as an oil or product ingredient). Like the other phytoestrogens, lavender aspires to bring our awareness to the intuitive, gentle, cyclic and interconnected qualities of life. As when we are stressed these abilities are strained, Lavender can bring nervous tension down to a tolerable level while simultaneously improving our insight into how to manage and balance our stress later on. In this way it is a true healer, assisting current symptoms and preventing future imbalances.
Used for 2000 years to support the liver and assist general detoxification, Milk thistle is probably one of the only medicinal herbs most 20 year old college students have heard about (and likely used at some point). A phenomenal ally for anyone who is fond of drinking but possibly equally as fond of their body, Milk thistle is one of the most effective hepatoprotectives (liver-loving) herbs available. Pliny the elder described its effects in the first century, noting its amazing ability to stimulate bile formation.
Milk thistle contains a compound of three components collectively called silymarin, known to create a kind of ‘protective shield’ around the liver. The plant not only increases the activity and bile production of the liver, but additionally protects it from the effects of incoming toxins, allowing the liver is better able to go about its work without additional challenges. Silymarin is such an incredible protective agent that it has been used to reverse the damages caused by ingesting Amanita (Death Cap) mushrooms. Milk thistle is effective in reversing liver cirrhosis, damage from hepatitis infection, fatty liver, and the toxic effects of pharmaceutical drugs. It can also help to soften kidney and gallstones.
With such a profound effect on the liver, milk thistle emotionally aids in relieving stress, irritation, suppressed anger and impatience. It clears stagnation in the third chakra that may be the cause of a sense of victimization or powerlessness in individuals, assisting them in acknowledging the truth of their ability to change and create the life they desire.
It’s said that Native Indians used to use the broad, soft leaves of the mullein plant as diapers for their children, and if you’ve ever felt or seen this plant that will not be surprising. They’re certainly softer than Pampers.
The entire mullein plant can be used medicinally. The roots are made into a tea that stimulates lymphatic movement and drainage, and may reduce cramping in the intestines. The flowers may be placed in an olive oil infusion, and this is an effective remedy for earaches and infection, in both adults and children (often combined with garlic as well). The leaves may be smoked to treat bronchial infections and congestion, while a tea of the entire plant may be made to accomplish the same.
Mullein is a demulcent herb, containing mucilage and component chemicals which soothe and support mucosal linings, specifically the lungs and intestinal tract. In a similar way, it is soothing and supportive to the spirit, protecting us from things that might be irritating to the sensitive parts of our psyche. Not that this numbs our life experience or keeps us from accessing the evolutionary messages always presenting themselves, but that we are slightly less distraught by them by reducing sensitivity, making it easier for us to make appropriate decisions and act with awareness.
Nettle is a cleansing, supportive and nutritive herb, nourishing the body with minerals, vitamins and amino acids. It has a particular affinity for the kidney system, reducing inflammation and infection in the prostate and bladder and assisting in proper water balance.
Nettle has a strong anti-inflammatory effect throughout, however, and is effective in reducing allergies, managing and reducing arthritic symtoms, and supporting the heart. In benign prostatic hyperplasia, Nettle has been consistently found to be as or more effective than commonly prescribed pharmaceuticals, without the side effects.
Nettle carries with it the energy and insight of transmutation; of experiencing something that appears first to be nasty and uncomfortable (like the sting of the leaves) but which turns out to be exactly what we needed. It is the energy and healing of the snake that is connected to Nettle, the cunning and sly healer that is able to shed its skin and experience life as a new being when necessary.
For those people who seem to consistently go through trying or difficult experiences without experiencing personal growth and insight from them, Nettle can be an important ally. Those who experience a lot of fear and nervousness are also benefited, both from the supportive mineral properties of the plant as well as the energetic strength that it carries.
The state flower of Oregon, Oregon Grape has been utilized as a food and medicine since settlers came out West (and certainly by the Indigenous peoples before that). It is a bountiful plant with many healing properties, as well as offering nutritious berries with their own protective and balancing effects.
Oregon Grape—the root—contains a powerful antibiotic called Berberine, which is also found in other plant species such as goldenseal and goldenthread, and is responsible for the beautiful yellow color of these plants. Effective against bacteria, amoeba, parasites, viruses, and likely most other pathogenic organisms, Berberine is a natural medicine that should be in everyone’s cupboard. It has even been found to be effective against drug-resistant E. Coli strains.
Oregon Grape is astringent, and can help to relieve water stagnation and then clear infection in the tissues. It reduces skin cell turnover and inflammation temporarily, and is wonderful in eczema and other allergic/reactive skin conditions. Oregon Grape supports the liver (which in turn allows it to affect the skin) and can heal eye infections through application of a mild solution directly. It is a bitter herb with affinity for the liver system.
Oregon Grape conveys a gentle protection as an energetic healer, capable of soothing and supporting us when we are stressed or upset (which is when infections or proliferation of pathogens happens). It is a nourishing herb, one that although stimulating and effective, is not overly aggressive in its action, and will not unbalance our bodies unless used for a long period of time (due to the astringent character of the Berberine).
When bears wake up from their winter nap in the spring, one of the first things they do is find a patch of Osha. They rub the herb all over themselves, eat it, and lay in it, and the antibacterial/antiviral/antiparasitic characteristics of the plant would remove internal parasites from hibernation and prepare their bodies for entry into the outside world again. Osha is a native American word for Bear, and this plant is often known as Bear Medicine.
Native populations have long used this herb for the same reasons as Bears do, and to increase their stamina and physical endurance while travelling or hunting. Osha has an affinity for the lungs, and can help to improve oxygen utilization (increasing energy) even in short term application. As such, it is a wonderful remedy for asthma, any infections or irritations of the lungs and throat, and for general weakness after extended illness.
Osha contains oxytocin, and should not be used by pregnant women as it can induce labor.
The lung system contains all our old sadness and unprocessed grief. Everything that was just too much for us to handle at the time it happened, and so has been stuffed away into our cells to create bronchial irritation, asthma, and increased susceptibility to lung infection throughout life. Osha offers us the opportunity to release and heal those old wounds, and to regenerate our lungs with integrity and our life with openness instead of grief.
Indigenous to North America, Saw Palmetto was used as a remedy to increase strength in Native Indian communities. Regarded as a general tonic to balance and support the endocrine system (though, of course, they didn’t really describe it quite like that) Saw Palmetto is known now to be nourishing to hormonal functions in both men and women, and is the primary herbal remedy used in the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia in men.
This lovely little dwarf palm is persistent and hardy, and grows with ease throughout much of the southern United States. The berries of the plant are what are commonly used in healing, taken as a tea or eaten whole to treat urinary difficulties, inflammation in the reproductive system, lack of appetite, infertility and painful periods. While their primary affinity is for the endocrine/reproductive systems, Saw Palmetto berries are also beneficial in bronchial inflammation and other lung conditions.
Around the time of World War I, Saw Palmetto was considered to be one of the most important healing herbs available. While pharmaceutical medicine has attempted to concentrate and isolate the active components of this marvelous plant, as with all other attempts to improve upon nature, they have been unsuccessful.
As we age, our reproductive systems, logically, become the last thing that our bodies really devote much energy to. As such we are more succeptible to inflammation and uncomfortable conditions like incontinence as the years pass. Not that they will bring back the vigor and energy of our creative youth, but Saw Palmetto can serve to invigorate our sexual and hormonal energy in a balanced and nourishing way even into old age, bringing vitality to those who might have worn themselves out with stress or constant action throughout life.
A delicious fruit, an alien flower: Passionflower is as complex and interesting of a remedy as it is a food and visual stimulus. With an affinity for the heart and liver it carries similar properties to California Poppy, though is considerably more ‘hypnotic’ and neuralgic in action, working more effectively for neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s, epilepsy, and shingles. The harmine alkaloids of the leaves support a calmed and easy emotional experience, reducing anxiety and general nervousness as well.
Passionflower was originally used medicinally in the Americas (where it is indigenous), though has long been a part of the European herbal medicine. It is believed that the effects of Passionflower are due physiologically to an increase in GABA, an inhibitory neurotransmitter. Passionflower has been found to be as or more effective than pharmaceutical drugs in reducing nervous symptoms, and generally has no side effects.
As a spiritual aid, Passionflower is believed to strengthen and open one’s connection to the Kundalini energies, increasing our life force through reducing mental overstimulus. This is a powerful remedy for those individuals who find themselves often victimized in situations, or who are unable to forgive others for past wrong doings. Passionflower allows us to understand the deepest meaning of our personal suffering, and then to move past it and work towards contributing to the world around us in a positive way.
Peppermint is a complex plant, being both a stimulant and a relaxant, stimulating the circulation to bring heightened body function, yet relaxing to the nerves. Taken as a tea this plant tends to act more dominantly as a relaxant, but as the purified oil it is more stimulating.
It’s stimulating and carminative properties make peppermint and excellent remedy for indigestion, stomachache, and other digestive complaints. Peppermint relieves gas and bloating, and is helpful in cases of irritable bowel and localized intestinal infection. Used consistently peppermint also reduces the formation of gallstones through increasing bile flow and digestive movement.
Peppermint oil reduces pain when applied topically, and the combination of its aromatherapy and relaxant qualities is extremely effective in reducing headache.
This affinity for the head system and sixth chakra is what makes Peppermint so effective at clearing away our mental chatter and cloudy perspective. Even just a whiff of the oil works to bring clarity and insight, and its work on the digestive system allows us to better ‘digest’ new ideas withoutgetting caught up in our past conditioning.
Trees may not be your first thought when it comes to plant healers, but they often are some of the most concentrated sources of medicinal compounds and healing properties, and Pine is no exception.
Used hundreds of years ago to save explorers from scurvy, a tea made from the bark and needles of Pine contains considerable amounts of vitamin C, along with a cornucopia of antioxidant compounds called flavanols and bioflavonoids. These protect our cells from damage, and one in particular called pyconogenol has been more recently recognized as an effective remedy for varicose veins, circulation imbalances, menstrual cramps and early aging.
The essential oil of pine is an incredible smell, and is capable of breaking up bronchial congestion and inflammation and clearing blocked sinuses. The oil—when mixed with a carrier oil to dilute—is also effective at relieving congestion and pain.
Trees carry a particular wisdom, as they are connected to all the elements, and have long been thought to ‘hold the world together’. They have long lives and historical connection, and can remind us of the necessity of appreciating and learning about our lineage, both human and otherwise. They inspire a sense of awareness that is calm and observant, integrating all elements of a situation so that we may find trust and guided action rather than moving out of fear.
It’s such a delicate, breezy and gentle looking flower, isn’t it? Soft petals, such a vibrant color, and so tenaciously scattered along nearly every coastal highway in the state of California, California Poppy is the perfect remedy for the majority of the population here. Long cultivated by the early settlers of the west for food and medicine, California Poppy is a powerful and important healer for this area of the world.
Basically, it is wonderful for stress. With an affinity for the heart and liver, this herb can help to alleviate stagnation in these organ systems brought on by intense lifestyles and emotional suppression (cause we just don’t have the time to deal with our stuff right now), relieving pain with it’s opiate alkaloids and having a significant sedative effect on the whole body. Brilliant for insomnia, anxiety, restlessness, depression, migraines, neuralgia and stress-related skin conditions, Poppy is a boon for the modern stressed-out person.
This herb has the ability to call the spirit back to the body, to help with soul retrieval and recall when the mind and emotions have been haywire for too long, spreading ourselves thin amongst the future and the past. Through it’s ability to soothe the liver and heart it has a definite third and fourth chakra affiliation, though its effects on the mind give it a ‘higher’ spiritual quality within that of the sixth and seventh. We cannot understand or live our truths if our minds are filled with such chaos as they generally are in modern society, and poppy can help to temporarily calm this nutty brain of ours so that real truth can be perceived.
One of the highest sources of Gamma Linoleic Acid (GLA) found in nature, Primrose is a valuable remedy for women experiencing PMS and all others recovering from stress or trauma. It is a ‘yin tonic’ in Traditional Chinese Medical terminology, supporting the underlying vital energy of all organ systems when one has been totally wiped out.
Primrose has an affinity for the liver and kidneys, and taken as an oil supplement can reduce inflammation throughout the body through supporting these systems of elimination and detoxification. While most people can create GLA in their bodies from component fatty acids, it has been found that persistent or extremely high stress levels can reduce the conversion process internally, making a supplement form of the oil necessary for healing.
Through supporting the liver, Primrose also supports inflammatory conditions in the skin such as as eczema. Especially helpful for babies and children. Primrose contains the pain relieving substance phenylalanine, and is extremely effective at relieving headaches.
GLA is a necessary component of skin to maintain elasticity and youthfulness, and has recently been noted to increase the expression of adiponectin, which allows our body to burn fat (specifically abdominal fat) for fuel. It eases pain in arthritic conditions, and can prevent diabetes-related nerve damage.
After trauma or prolonged stress, Evening Primrose can provide an ‘energetic matrix’ to support an individual in their healing. It balances a feeling of rejection that people often carry from childhood, and can help them integrate these lessons into their life without feeling like victims or meaningless persons. If you struggled with family life or had a difficult relationship with your mother as a child, Primrose can help to balance and alleviate those pains.
Raspberry has been an important remedy for women for centuries (so far as has been documented!), as this plant –the leaves, specifically—balances and supports the sensitive female reproductive system both before and during pregnancy, preventing miscarriage and facilitating easy delivery. It is thought that the plant’s name comes from Mt. Ida in Greece, where the Greek Gods apparently discovered it thousands of years ago.
Raspberry has an affinity for the detoxification (spleen, liver, kidneys) and reproductive systems, and the fruit is a nutritious and fortifying food (not to mention ridiculously delicious). The herb also has strong astringent properties, and can be used as an eyewash and poultice to reduce inflammation and tighten mucous membranes. Used for several months as a tea, Raspberry can balance the menstrual cycle and prepare the uterus for pregnancy, ‘toning’ the uterine muscles with a component alkaloid called fragrine. As such, it supports an easy and relatively fast labor later on.
The combination of a vibrant and delicious berry with the painful thorns of the stalk carry a particular message: to be conscious and deliberate with the fruits of our labor. In pregnant women, as that is where this herb is most commonly utilized, this inspires a deep connection with their children, one that is grounded in patience and limitless appreciation. For others, especially those who are too quick to give away their work or lose their sense of self in the company of others, Raspberry can assist in affirming personal boundaries without creating division, and can remind us to take it slowly and enjoy the sweet pleasures that we’re both creating and provided with.
A plant indigenous to North America, and long utilized by Native Indians for various healing properties, red root is an often underutilized healer in modern herbalism. A member of the buckthorn family and sometimes called Mountain Lilac (for its beautiful small clusters of flowers), redroot grows on rocky, rough terrain in the mountains most commonly.
This is possibly the most effective and best known lymphatic tonic in the North American herbal population. A tincture made of the root prevents ‘stickiness’ from occurring between red blood cells, a property that is apparent in individuals who are suffering from chronic inflammation, allergic response or other on-going imbalances. The individual will feel very low energy, foggy brained and lethargic, simply because their brain and internal organs are not getting appropriate oxygen from their red blood cells, and nor is their body effectively excreting unwanted toxins through the lymph. Redroot can stimulate these processes. It is also antispasmodic, expectorant (relieving congestion in the lungs) and astringent, aiding in reducing mucus or potential infection in the urinary system.
Red root can assist the body in breaking down tumors and cysts, and has been used topically as an effective treatment for skin cancers. The leaves were used during the American Revolution as a substitute for tea, as the flavor is similar though red root contains no caffeine.
A ‘deficiency’ in the spleen system, as described in Traditional Chinese Medicine, is effectively treated with red root. The spleen is associated with the experience of overthinking and mental activity, and stagnation or depletion here will often occur in those people who worry obsessively about a single thing (or a cluster of things!). Spleen deficiency will result in ‘dampness’ accumulating in the body, which translates to weight gain, mucus, lethargy and mental dullness. Red root as an emotional healer helps to clarify muddy thinking and obsessive focus, bringing attention back to the necessity of flow and trust in our life processes.
One of the most superior immune tonics known to medicine, reishi nourishes the spirit (Shen), the essence (Jing) and the energy (Qi) of the body with its sweet, warm and protective character.
As with most fungus, Reishi is a source of a complex assortment of chemicals and polysachaarides, including alkaloids, lactone, mannitol and various enzymes. These components convey a potent healing ability post-chemotherapy or even as an alternative to conventional cancer treatment, as Reishi can build the immune system so profoundly that it has been known to support the body in healing itself.
Reishi has an affinity for the liver, and as many holistic practitioners believe that all cancer does begin in the liver (with compromised detoxification and stagnation), this would explain its healing abilities.
Reishi is nourishing and supportive, and gives a sense of this when it is taken as a supplement or powdered tea. It’s as though the fungus provides a fortification to our bodies and minds that is at once both stimulating (increasing detoxification) and pacifiying (nurturing and balancing internal processes).
Long used in both the kitchen and the apothecary, Rosemary has countless healing properties.
Rosemary contains salycic acid, the starter compound for aspirin. As such, the herb itself is wonderful for aches and pains throughout the body, and may be applied as a oil or salve or taken internally as a tea to relieve inflammation. It is antimicrobial and antibacterial, and can be applied to the skin for dermatitis-like conditions and fungal infections. Rosemary has strong anti-cancer properties as it prevents carcinogenic (cancer-causing) chemicals from being able to attach to and damage the DNA.
Historically, Rosemary was believed to improve the memory and mental focus, and recent research has confirmed this folklore: Rosemary has naturally occurring compounds within it that prevent the degradation of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter essential for memory and learning.
Used as a scent or oil, or simply carrying some Rosemary has the ability to move negativity, and aid in giving a ‘boost’ out of depressed or stagnant mental patterns.
The stigmas of the magical Crocus plant (incredible for both its beauty and it’s tenacity, sticking its head up like that when it’s still winter…), Saffron has been a highly prized spice and healer for thousands of years. 50,000 year old paintings in Iran have even been found to contain Saffron pigments, suggesting that our relationship with this healer is stronger than one might imagine.
Saffron contains a wide variety of compounds, many of which act as potent antioxidants in our bodies. Considered to be neuroprotective (preventing degradation of the neurological structures in imbalances such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s), anti-inflammatory, anti-depressant, and anti-carcinogenic (protects against cancer), Saffron appears to have an affinity for nearly every system, protecting the body as a whole. As such, it has earned the reputation as a universal medicine. It heals colds, relieves pain, soothes overactive nerves and stimulates digestion. Like the magic little flower it comes from, as a healer this plant contains multitudes.
When Buddha moved on from this life, he was said to have been buried in a robe dyed with Saffron, and this is the reason why Buddhist monks still wear these brightly colored robes now. Saffron paste is also used to anoint the heads of Hindu worshippers, and represents the fight against injustice in Sikh belief.
Saffron has a long history in religious beliefs, most likely due to its ability to balance and support nearly every aspect of our physical being, allowing us to open up more effectively to the spiritual realms. It brings a sense of piety and focus to all spiritual practices, both as a color external to us (or on our bodies) and taken internally as a medicine.
The latin name of Sage means ‘in good health’, and considering the countless possible uses and applications of this herb in healing, it is entirely appropriate. Used as a spice and healer for thousands of years (as documented), Sage is a powerful and delicious herb.
Sage has astringent, antiseptic, antiviral and antibacterial properties. It is a potent anti-inflammatory, supports and protects brain function (showing great possibility in treatment of memory challenges and Alzheimers), and is a protective antioxidant that nourishes and preserves skin function.
Sage tea has blood-sugar lowering properties, though is so effective in this that it needs to be taken for short periods of time and then reassessed. Sage loosens congestion in the lungs, soothes sore and irritated throats, and simultaneously protects against the infectious agents that may be causing the sickness.
Sage is a very special plant not only for its physical properties, but also for it’s energetic and spiritual qualities, and has been treasured as a great healer by indigenous peoples (and continues to be). Similar to mugwort as it is used in Traditional Chinese Medicine, Sage has the ability to dispel or break up stagnant energy patterns in the body and/or surrounding areas, used most often in smudge sticks, burned to remove energetic patterns. It removes negative or habitual thought patterns when used ceremonially, and can serve to open the mind of those who are closed to their own abilities or the perfection of their life process.
St. John's Wort
The name Thyme is thought to have come from the Greek word Thymus, meaning courage. Despite being a rather inobtrusive and gentle plant, it is aptly named for the medicinal and healing qualities it possesses.
Thyme is a strong antifungal and antiparasitic, prescribed for intestinal worms, gastrointestinal upsets, and other internal and external infections. Applied as a poultice it is an effective topical antifungal as well, balancing the skin as a wash or oil while simultaneously reducing inflammation and preventing scaring. The active component oil of Thyme, thymol oil, is excellent at reducing or removing mucus, making Thyme an essential herb for bronchitis, lung inflammation and sinus infections. It can also remove mucus in the digestive tract when there is systemic inflammation happening.
Taken as a tea, Thyme reduces cortisol levels in the body and can help improve and increase sleep time.
Thyme has been used a symbol of spirituality and insight for centuries, and carries with it the energy to improve soul connection while also making one more aware of their accumulated karma. The smell and energetic quality of thyme is that of positivity and awareness, of encouraging insight of a trusting (but not naïve) manner.
Recorded as a medicinal herb since the 2nd century, Uva Ursi is a wonderful healer for those individuals predisposed to kidney/bladder imbalances. A diuretic, astringent, and antibiotic herb, it is effective in cystitis, nephritis, and reduces the build up of uric acid in overly acidic conditions. It is a tonic for weakened kidneys, oftened damaged from overconsumption of toxins and/or emotional stress.
Uva ursi is capable of not only reducing infection, but also acting to ‘tone’ and support the kidney system for long term healing. It can be used externally as a wash to remove infection as well, and has been noted to remove pain symptoms as a poultice when there is back strain or dislocation.
The primary active component of Uva Ursi is called arbutin, and it is this chemical which (when peed out) acts to disinfect and heal the urinary system, reducing inflammation throughout. However, if used for extended periods of time this action can become irritating instead of healing, resulting in a drying out of the mucus membranes. Because of its diuretic properties, Uva ursi is often utilized in cases of high blood pressure, and has been found to be effective against E. Coli.
As with other herbs that have an affinity for the kidney system, Uva ursi is a beneficial healer during times of stress, fear, anxiety and generalized resistance to life. Most often we are not breathing or eating well during this time, resulting in an accumulation of acidic wastes in the blood stream which must be dealt with in the kidneys, while the actual energetic experience of fear results in a weakening of kidney energy. Giving us a temporary respite, and a possibility of seeing our life and experience with clear eyes (and kidneys) Uva ursi can bring balance and a sense of solidity when we have internalized too much of our outward resistance.
This beautiful flower is a precious gift to Western society these days, with our stress levels and rate of insomnia being what they are. A sedative and nervine herb, Valerian calms a nervous system without inducing the classic ‘hangover’ from pharmaceutical medicines the next morning, helping us drop into deep, restorative sleep far more easily.
Its relaxant qualities affect the digestive system as well, and can be very effective in reducing gas, bloating, menstrual cramps, and intestinal pain.
Valerian has also been used by Shamans and indigenous healers to induce dreamtime, helping to bridge the connection to our subconscious and unconscious minds while we rest so that we may relieve suppressed experiences that are affecting our conscious life, and potentially experience astral travel.
As a warning, it smells (and somewhat tastes) like chicken shit, so if you’re going to try it in a tea make sure to blend it with other herbs for ease of drinking. Chamomile, passionflower and ginger work well.
Also known as Chaste tree (named as such because it was thought to suppress sexual urges in temple priestesses and monks), Vitex is a complex remedy with affinity for the female reproductive system.
Vitex helps to regulate the cycles and menstruation, increasing progesterone (which is dominant in the second half of the cycle but often deficient in women under stress) to balance excessive estrogen occurring both systemically and in diet/environmental exposure. Fertility related to this imbalance- called a Luteal Phase Defect- can be effectively remedied through this herb combined with lifestyle changes.
In many ways Vitex acts as a hormonal adaptogen, raising levels where necessary and decreasing them when there is an overabundance, and this occurs for both progesterone and estrogen. It is a very effective remedy for PMS, aiding in reducing water retention and balancing the neurotransmitters dopamine and acetylcholine (associated with anxiety, attention, depression and other experiences).
Females, being inherently connected to the cycles of the planet, tend to be the more sensitive of the sexes. NOT to suggest that this is a boon to us or something to feel super special about, but our systems—specifically our hormonal system—are very easily disrupted by stress, toxicity and other outside influences. Vitex as a spiritual healer is a kind of support system for this intense sensitivity, supporting the balance of our bodies even as the world around us is increasingly inundated with estrogenic chemicals. This herb has a great affinity for the sixth and second chakras: the pituitary gland/sixth eye and reproductive organs. The combination of these two allows us to better ‘see’ and understand our experience of life, and to truly feel the creative power we possess.
While the nut of this beautiful tree is what we normally eat (and which has its own medicinal qualities), it is the dried green hull of Black Walnut that is most often used as a preparation for healing. Harvested just after the outer bark splits but before it has dried and turned brown, Black walnut is a potent remedy for parasites and other internal infections.
As well, Black walnut has a balancing effect (due to tannic and mineral components) which allows it to heal gout, rheumatic conditions, and, according to some, even cancer. It is a slight laxative, stimulating removal of toxicity from the intestines and bowel, and as a poultice is effective against fungus, ringworm, and other skin infections. The shells have also been used as dyes in the past.
Walnuts assist us in making a transition, and in being able to fully perceive the meaning and process of our lives. They are associated with ‘big’ evolutionary jumps, when we make a leap from an older, more victimized place of existence to one of spiritual insight and personal power. As parasites can only do damage in a body where entelechy has not been fulfilled, Black walnut can help us by getting rid of these while simultaneously supporting our ability to banish them forever. It is a strong remedy, and not one to be taken without guidance.
While most of us are familiar and often use the pharmaceutical take on White willow—aspirin—we often are not aware of the incredible healing properties available from the original plant. As an isolated chemical the active component of willow—salicin—can be unbalancing and detrimental to the system, but a herbal preparation will help to relieve pain without causing damage to the whole.
The bark contains this compound, and has a strong bitter flavor (making it something you don’t want to necessarily be drinking very often). Pain relief from arthritic, nervous, fever-sourced or rheumatic conditions is incredibly potent from White willow, and this is a wonderful remedy to have on hand instead of NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatories). The flowers and leaves may be made into a tea to reduce fever, and is extremely helpful for menopausal women to reduce hot flashes and night sweats.
Willow is a beautiful, delicate and feminine tree, associated with the moon and emotional sensitivity. Its pain-relieving abilities make it an excellent remedy for those who find themselves overly sensitive to the world, and who would like to create some internal resilience without compromising their creativity, intuition or insight.
It is the turpene thujone, a chemical compound in Wormwood, that is responsible for the action of Absynthe, that lovely green drink so favored in the 19th century. Inducing clarity of thought, enhanced creativity, and increased perception, Absynthe was the drink of choice of poets, artists and philosophers. However, wormwood the plant has been used as a healer for much longer, dating back to at least 1600 BC.
Used by the Greeks and the Romans, Wormwood is effective in a litany of imbalances, ranging from menstrual cramps and stomachache to rheumatic pains and anemia. Wormwood is a bitter tonic, and a stimulant, and can relieve gas pains quickly and efficiently. In the absence of an appetite or when there is general stagnation in the stomach system, this herb can stimulate digestion and increase the desire for food. Its stimulant properties may also be useful when labor is delayed or prolonged. Wormwood leaves have been long used to repel insects and moths from storage containers, and taken internally will dispel worms and interal parasites as well.
Wormwood assists us in ‘movement’, whether that be through mobilizing our creative force and developments or through stimulating the removal or release of blockages or parasitic invasions. It is a strong and liver-associated herb (being so intensely bitter), and like all others with affinity here it is able to help us move through personal power resistance and apathy. Wormwood has been associated with the dead, and can also help us to make connection with our heritage and ancestors (which is a potent and necessary source of power).
Named after the warrior Achilles, Yarrow has had an association with the battlefield and wounding due to it’s ability to staunch bleeding and heal the skin. It has anti-inflammatory, astringent, and antispasmodic characteristics, all which assist the body in dealing with acute injuries, and can also be effective topically for hemorrhoids and other skin conditions.
Yarrow is also an excellent blood regulator, and is effective in any imbalances in women having to do with suppressed or painful menstruation. Conditions like these are generally due to congested energy in the pelvis (second chakra) area, and Yarrow works to break up this congestion and allow energy to flow smoothly.
The Navajo Indians considered Yarrow to be a ‘life remedy’, and modern assessment of the plant reveals that it has considerably more healing properties than most other species.
Yarrow is associated with works and expression of creativity; with what and how we express our inner creative urges and personal inclinations in the world. It has an affinity for the lung and liver system as well, freeing up our will and past sadness so that we may fully express ourselves.
One of the most colorful and flavorful ingredients you can add to a savory dish, Turmeric is far more than just a kitchen herb. Used in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years, it possesses healing properities that the Western world is just beginning to comprehend.
Turmeric has direct action on the liver, increasing enzymatic activity so that critical detoxification processes operate more smoothly and completely. As an antioxidant, Turmeric reduces the damage of free radicals, protecting all the cells of the body. This protective quality also translates as anti-inflammatory activity, making Turmeric an excellent healer for arthritic, inflamed or painful conditions.
Antibacterial as well, Turmeric can be used topically to reduce skin infections or help to heal wounds.
Through its action on the liver, Turmeric can help to reduce high levels of cholesterol (and the underlying inflammation involved), and has been found to increase the sensitivity of cells to insulin, assisting in proper blood sugar balance and diabetic healing.
As a third chakra healer, Turmeric is directly involved in assisting our sense of personal power, and energetically can help to remove old stored resentments and anger that is hindering this. It can be quite a ‘hot’ healer, however, and should be used with caution in those people who exhibit heat-related symptoms (heartburn, flushed face, etc).
Hyssop comes from the Greek word meaning ‘Holy Herb’, as it is mentioned several times in the Bible as being a critical and wonderful healer. Apparently some people believe that the Hyssop spoken about is actually a form of Oregano, however, though true Hyssop is also used in many ways in healing.
With an affinity for the lungs and upper chest, Hyssop is beneficial in bronchitis, chronic lung obstruction or inflammation, and other chest imbalances. Taken as a tea it can help loosen blockages (energetically and physically) and stimulate immune response. Hyssop is also a beautiful healer in cardiovascular challenges and skin inflammation, such as eczema.
Hyssop cleanses and supports at the same time. It is both stimulating and sedative. On an emotional and energetic level it conveys the same complexity, stimulating our bodies to release somatically stored trauma in the lungs (associated with grief, longing and old relationship pains) and to develop new and invigorated energy in those systems. It is a wonderful herb to take a cleansing bath with as well, requesting that your anxieties be carried away in the bath water.
Feverfew is most commonly known as a remedy for migraine headaches and circulation challenges, though it is also wonderful for arthritis, general systemic inflammation, and thickness in the blood. It prevents clumping and a ‘stickiness’ from forming when there is infection or irritation long term, and has a sedative nature for individuals who are experiencing stress from the pain of their condition.
Feverfew is a sweet and nourishing herb, good for those who have anxieties about life in general and especially for women who experience cyclical dysruptions due to their emotional state. It reduces gas and is a wonderful digestive aid, though can be difficult to eat or drink as a tea because it tastes absolutely terrible (incredibly bitter). A bath can be made of the flowers and leaves to soak the feet and ankles, reducing swelling and pain, and this beautiful herb works as an effective insect repellant when made into a sprayable liquid or salve. It is a hardy little plant, and yet most likely because of it’s potent stimulating quality and extreme bitterness, bees really dislike it.
Feverfew is an excellent healer for sensitive individuals who may have experienced soul loss or energetic attachment to old situations/people, and are unable to live fully in the present moment because of this. Migraines are commonly associated with intense blockage of energy (though may also be overstimulation, so check with your practitioner) especially in the liver and gallbladder meridians, showing up commonly right before women get their period or when men are under extreme stress. Feverfew can help to both reduce this inflammation and blockage, but will also stimulate greater understanding of personal power and creative will (housed in the third chakra) so that we may both heal those past situations and set ourselves up for more self-supportive future functioning.
In conversations I often find myself saying that this is my favorite plant, though in reality that’s like trying to pick a favorite piece of sunlight. However, when it comes to healers that I find are particularly well-suite to this time and experience of human culture, Rhodiola is by far my favorite ally.
Indigenous to Siberia, and long used to increase physical stamina and resistance to the intense weather conditions, Rhodiola is one of the most superior adaptogens on the planet. Russian cosmonauts and athletes have been using it as a supplement for decades, and while some believe that it was originally kept secret from the entire world intentionally, Rhodiola is now being cultivated in other cold and rather inhospitable climates to be distributed internationally.
Rhodiola increases the sensitivity of the brain to dopamine and serotonin, two neurotransmitters involved in the experience of pleasure, joy, attention, and emotional balance, amongst others. As a treatment for depression and attention deficit disorder, Rhodiola has proven more effective than pharmaceuticals in clinical trials. It is non-habit forming, as its adaptogenic nature helps to bring the body back into a state of balance through nourishing and supporting, not chemically altering a single pathway.
Rhodiola increase the activity of adiponectin, a fat-burning hormone that some believe may preferentially target the abdominal cells. It also reduces appetite and increases sensitivity to leptin, which tells the brain when we have eaten enough.
As a spiritual guide, this plant—in this time of extreme stress and fear—is like magic. As though it soothes and supports every cell and emotional component of the body, Rhodiola has this ability to tell us that everything is alright, allowing us to better respond to stressful situations and to move from fear into trust and enlightened acceptance. It works on the heart and the liver, opening up obstructions in the third chakra so that energy may travel up and reinvigorate our hearts.