Brown Bear Herbs Herbalism & Tactics for Thriving Together

Linden, genus Tilia, growing in Portland, OR.
  • Article published at:
Linden, Reveal Date 2/23
This week we meditated on Linden, also known as Lime tree, genus tilia, an herb from traditional Western herbalism.  I enjoy this herb but am very curious about it. I was delighted to share the experience of learning its medicine through plant meditation with the Herb Society of the National University of Natural Medicine in Portland, Oregon. Group Plant Meditation Shares:  Mouth Experience: moistening, numbing (in a soothing way), lubricating. Heart: nourishing to the heart (based on pulse change),  Kidneys: "restored kidneys to a moist, happy place;  Joints: the herb showed me awareness of slightly hot, dry joints, and I believe it can be lubricating in these conditions. Emotions: A friend you can trust unquestionably, relief, "it's all okay", soothing and smoothing, reilef, self saying "I need this!"(relief), lightness, Spring energy, reminiscing about favorite places and times. General: blood moving, clearing stagnation, peacefully energizing, many comments about the kidneys. My Experience:  The first thing I saw was a short-limbed octopus in my heart center. Octopi may have a reputation for being a bit enmeshed but, they sure can do a lot with all those arms. I love water work (emotions!). It looked kind of like the octopus emoji but white and with dangling limbs.  I became aware my face (inside) felt slightly hot and dry. The plant scanned my joints. It started at my left shoulder which has been slightly irritated. It noted how strong and aligned my back is (I have been working out), it spent a lot of time there and slowly moved down to my feet, assessing my hips and knees along the way. It drew my attention to a bone that is out of alignment on my foot, then moved on. I think it can lubricate joints, and perhaps help with alignment to some extent, especially if there is hot and dry. In the context of judging and determinations, the herb talked to me about balancing the harms we do to each other knowingly and unknowingly with the reasons we come together. It spoke of importance of intention but looking again to why we come together (such as this plant meditation). The plant was peaceful, and positively redirecting.* Use in Medical Herbalism:  Linden is generally thought of as cooling and moistening, mildly sedating, soothing to irritation, and nourishing. Linden has many traditional uses including: Neurological/Psychological: headaches, hyperactivity, insomnia, anxiety. *This is how I see this herb primarily being used. Lungs: Flu, fever with profuse sweating that does not improve the condition--Linden can break the fever, colds, coughs (mucus in lower respiratory tract). Stomach: warming and relaxing to the digestive tract, good if there is indigestion, diarrhea, or vomiting associated with tension or stress.  Heart: cardiac symptoms and/or hypertension associated with nervous tension. Kidneys: Dark, scanty urine, edema--restorative. Female health: Mild to severe reproductive organ pain (including cramps) and/or inflammation. Hot flashes (cold linden tea). Topical: eye wash for inflammation, cool skin on a hot day, itchy skin   Use in Magic/Folklore: "You can't lie under a Linden tree." -said someone! and repeated by multiple people in this group :) Linden was used in courtrooms and in town centers where legal proceedings would take place. The herb is used in magic spells as well. In both cases this pleasant and uplifting herb helps bring us to harmony to existing relationships. It offers medicine to support more peaceful homes and more pleasant outcomes through legal decision-making. *I loved the feeling the plant imparted as it created a space to make legal decisions/judge that was harmony oriented. I have a lot of negative experience with the court system (modern day, not run by linden). The linden energy was focused on restoring harmony in the community. This herb feels so libra (in Western astrology) and very water element. I love the way the herb helped relieve and redirect attention with us to greater harmony and lightness.  At Brown Bear Herbs:  I use linden in two herbal smoking blends:  Clear Mind, with other herbs for focus and creativity. Many people with ADHD and anxiety report that this smoking blend is helpful. Lady Luck, with other herbs traditionally used to promote luck--including agrimony and pearly everlasting.  The flower makes a beautiful light tea or syrup. I enjoy working with it further, now that I have seen so many new sides of it with the group's observations.
Learn More
BaiZhu Atractylodes macrocephala
  • Article published at:
Bai Zhu, Atractylodes macrocephala, Reveal Date: 2/16
This week's herb is the root of Bai Zhu or atractylodes macrocephala (reveal dates 2/16/24), an herb commonly used to tonify spleen qi in Chinese medicine. Let's see what the experience was.  Mouth: Mineral rich, sweet (sweeter on second and longer steeps), emphasis on the back of the mouth, soft palate, moist. First Meditation:  As soon as I start drinking it I felt my lungs relax and my breath deepen with a peaceful, comforted feeling. For a long time I have been 'No' (Image: arm out, wrist flexed). Now I am open to interacting with people so they can become more like my heart. I feel stomach, the herb shows the stomach, vomit/diarrhea--hands directing traffic: "Spleen action: worry/work on preceived threats."  Movement to "intestines" but this is actually the lowest part of the interior of the pelvis. It looks more like the bottom of the pelvic bowl.  The person will act as the medicine, through narrative. Second Meditation: Energy is at the heart. Increase in fire. "Heart fire". Securely, confidently redefine focus of a current problem with a person--this problem is not about me and my reaction, this is an exterior problem. The awareness is: if I am angry, there is a problem outside myself. It no longer feels appropriate to work with the person of concern. It is important to go to the person who outranks them and talk to them. I am aware I am being discriminated against. The person's behavior is sexist.  Third Meditation: The herb reviews the person's strategic speaking, placating, controlling behavior. The herb says "No" and shakes my head no. The herb says it helps the spleen say "no" to the right things.  Up and out, vomit, diarrhea--is saying no, right away. Same with people--the herb teaches you to say no at the correct times. It is important to hold the food for the right length of time to digest properly. The herbs says "What does a rabbit do? They have fear so they reject something too soon and so they have to eat it again." Interpretation: Haste due to fear makes you eat your own shit (errors).  My rational response to this statement: The rabbits aren't built to get full absorption the first time. I am pretty sure the herb is sticking with their statements. Overall confident words from this herb: A strong spleen means good decision making. Trust your heart, if something makes me angry is it is a bad sign. Summary and Traditional Use: The experience tended to be one of feeling comfortable, confident (in a self-secure way), peacefully grounding. I loved the tutorial I got on right decision making and the spleen :) Heart and lung opening were experienced. Bai Zhu is a traditional Chinese herb for tonifying the spleen which tends towards dampness. I healthier spleen means better food absorption and nutrition, which supports mental and emotional clarity. Bai zhu is used for a variety of gastrointestinal disorders such as chronic diarrhea, vomiting, and poor apetite. This herb is used by martial artists to strengthen legs and muscles (source). This herb can help with excessive sweating. It is known to calm the fetus (for certain types of threatened miscarriage). This herb is also used in Western herbalism. Western Medicine Spleen and Body Talk The herb was talking to me about the spleen, but from previous experiences talking to my organs they all act like the authority. For example the reproductive organs might say "have sex a lot!", whereas the heart might say "use caution so I get nurtured and love, instead of hurt" and the third eye might say "wow sex is opening up a can of worms, be judicious about who you create a long term energetic involvement with". Be the CEO of your own life, take all viewpoints into consideration and make the right decision for you. In Western medicine the Spleen is about cleaning the blood and white blood cell production. It is the body's very grounded, defense mechanism. It affirms offense and defense. It takes cues from yor responses and fights where you or your body gave signs of a problem. The interpretation is not always as desired. For example, I had a rash on a tattoo for several months after getting it. I asked my spleen about it. It said 'that really hurt! we have been working on it ever since.' I told my spleen my tattoos were good and to let it go. It replied by saying 'great! now we can get to work on your lungs!' Great attitude, right? Two days later my rash was gone and my lungs, which had been experiencing a lot of allergies, were breathing easy. Start opening up conversations with your body.
Learn More
Ruby Gem Essence, Reveal Date: 2/8/24
  • Article published at:
Ruby Gem Essence, Reveal Date: 2/8/24
This week's meditation was on Ruby gem essence.* More on experiences and properties of this essence tomorrow, I am in the middle of a move and got a little behind on this. Thank you so much for your comments. This was our first meditation on a gem and/or flower essence. Based on the experiences described by our group, I feel it is worth exploring taking the essence over a day or so and observing the experiential shifts that occur.   Experience:  This essence gave vary different experiences! I can report an experience that was very affirming, validating reasons to be confident and feeling like the person is making progress in their life. The feeling of strength, fire, and courage was associated with this.  Another person experienced the essence telling them it could resolve their misophonia (hypersensitive with physiological response to specific noises, like coughing, chewing, different for different people), but, overall would increase sensitivity to noise.  Another experience of being surrounded by pleasant animals.   Historical Use and Beliefs: Used to help increase energy/qi, combat lethargy.  Associated with fire and the sun, courage, royalty, vitality. Sheilding energy which also helps reduce fear of paranormal or evil influences. Used during sex to promote closeness and commitment. It has the ability to moderate sexuality--bringing more vitality to loving, faithful relationships and develop sensuality and mystical union. It also can be used to temper excess or inappropriately directed sexual behaviors.  Physically it is used for heart health, menstrual health, the blood and lymph.    Summary: In general the way that gemstones communicate is quite different than plantlife. I find it more tonal and see it providing energetic gridlike structures, compared to plants that understand experiences of having organs and being more susceptable to the elements. Some of my best experiences with gemstones involved working with them over several months and internalizing or joining our wisdom, for example with Lemurian seed crystals, or jasper. This is not appropriate for all gemstones. In one case I developed a hemangioma where I wore carnelian, which promotes blood flow. This Ruby gem essence warrants further exploration. If you begin experimenting with it, delve into it further, or have previous experiences with this gemstone or essence, please share below. I am particularly interested in seeing how effective Ruby can be for people with misophonia. Was it particular to the participant's dynamic or can this be helpful in general? If you have misophonia I encourage you to share your experience with this remedy to build collective knowledge for easing this situation of dis-ease.    *Note, in response to Joanne's comment: I did not make this essence and given how similar ruby and garnet can look it is possible garnet could be mistaken for ruby. 
Learn More
Video: How to Explore Telepathy With Animals, Plants, & People
  • Article published at:
Video: How to Explore Telepathy With Animals, Plants, & People
What makes life magical? Connection! Communication with plants, animals, and people certainly can be a way to feel that connection has indeed happened. This is especially important in a world with less face-to-face and contemplation time. Slow down, get clear on what you want to communicate, and check out these ways to explore telepathy with heart. In this video I give some tips on how to communicate effectively on the subtle level (telepathically) with animals, plants, and people. Tips, such as: • Set clear intentions. • Assume the receiver will understand. • Try to find a telepathy buddy (human) to try and test sending images, feelings, etc, so you can see how things work! There is a lot of room for miscommunication or partial communication. But there is also lots of room to feel connected in a magical way! • Keep things positive--do not attempt to use telepathy to gain unfair advantage or manipulate someone. • Look for behavior shifts to confirm communication when speaking with animals. • Plants are GGG for this! They love to communicate :) Just be respectful. One thing that really makes plants feel good is meditating with them. With that in mind... Explore plant communications every week, with Brown Bear Herbs' Plant Meditation Club: https://brownbearherbs.com/collection... Read Plant Meditation Club experiences: https://brownbearherbs.com/blogs/comm... More info in my zine: Making Friends with Plants, Animals & Minerals: https://brownbearherbs.com/products/m...
Learn More
Chrysanthemum, Juhua, ju hua, herb tea, Chinese classical medicine
  • Article published at:
Chrysanthemum, Reveal date: 2/2/24
Chrysanthemum, Júhuā, 菊花, Herb of Classical Chinese Medicine   This week for herbs of classical Chinese medicine, along with the online participants, I did a plant meditation with my family, including my father and daughter. This plant was really beautiful. I always like to know the emotions, energetic shifts, and thoughts/memories that come up. I enjoyed this special way of connecting with my father and daughter. Here is a picture of us from a few years ago:  Overall themes: the value of third eye opening, release of fear, positive emotional support   My father: “The experience started with a sudden urge to pee, I repressed it. Most of it was silence. Then the qi was at the 6th chakra for about 4-5 minutes. Then I took the last couple of swallows. I thought about a cat. A mature cat sat next to me. Just sat for about 5 minutes. My breathing was okay. The energy was lively.”    Me: The infusion has a straw taste. It feels dry and has a complete mouth sensation--rather than resting in one area or flavor space. The infusion color is a pretty, light yellow, on the chartreuse side. After setting my intention, I felt my nose as if meditating with a technique like vipassana where that is the focus. The energy moved up to my left forehead/frontal lobe area. The plant says, “I have half a mind to tell you.” I reflect on an intense conversation I had a few days earlier. The plant points out, the right side of my head was injured (coup), but you are having problems with the left (contrecoup). I think of what happened as partly deferred/misdirected anger, in a similar way that one part of my head was hit, but the other side felt the impact too. The energy moves to the right side. “It’s going to start here (right frontal) and go to here (3rd eye).” I feel the energy shift. “Then you’re not going to like me.” The plant corrects this notion, stating “you have nothing to fear.” The plant tells me what to do for the class I am having trouble with so that my post-concussion visual issues will be better. I felt good. I understood I would heal.   My daughter:  "It tastes like artichoke. During the first minute, I kept seeing sunshine and rolling hills with Cutie running across the hills. Then I thought, “OMG, is Cutie going to die.” Then there was a big X across the vision. Then is showed Cutie having perfect white teeth. It is good for Cutie’s teeth (our dog). The rest of 9 minutes I was bored.” We take a break to discuss whether she has to do the second ten minute meditation. We settle on five minutes.  “At first I see more rolling hills and Cutie. Then I see black like the inside of my eyelids. I see through my eyelids to my hands. Then I see through my hands to my knees. Then I see through my knees, into the basement.”   I am glad she did the second meditation! Something new always comes out. Taking the time for the second meditation is an important step to understanding the plant’s medicine. Here is a picture of the herb steeping. It is so pretty and fragrant. Synthesis:  Spiritual: Each of us had a third eye focus to our energy and a focused, uneventful but positive meditation. Seeing through objects is a third eye experience. Third eye function is related both to fears and vision in general. The third eye is the energy center nearest the eyes (and brain!) so if it is stronger, the organs nearby should also be working better. This is similar to other energy centers in the body and nearby organs. The third eye is related to fear in that fear is the greatest obstacle to opening the third eye is fear of what you see. We may not want to see truths about ourselves, or the world around us…we have faults and the pain of the world is difficult to see. Easing fear allows us to deal with reality as it is and to enjoy our time on Earth. In this way, this herb can ease anxiety.    Emotional: I do think this herb is helpful for depression and anxiety. It is brightening and calming. It may not be enough by itself to move emotional mountains, but it is sunny in its support. Each of us had a fear eased. Cats: My father is very afraid of cats, due to severe allergies, and even during the meditation with the cat vision was concerned about his breathing. He was relieved and peaceful with the cat. Recovery: I have a fear that people will not like me when my brain changes from before or after a concussion (I have had many and they come with some variation in how I interact with others). It is a pretty big fear because my worst concussion ended my marriage. I also have had some fear lately that the concussion won’t fully resolve. This experience gave me confidence it will. It was nice to know it was going to be okay! Fear of loss: My daughter was worried about Cutie dying. Our primary way to extend his life is tooth care. This plant does have a reputation for being good for teeth! This came up in other meditations too :). Apparently, chrysanthemum is considered toxic to dogs by some, so I am assuming (for now) that this is just one tooth specialist herb, letting my daughter know that our oral hygiene program is helping Cutie. We currently use plantain and bentonite clay.    Physical: The meditation experiences in my family session and by other meditators may confirm help with “inflammation”.  The issues from the concussion I am recovering from are neurological, related to vision, which this herb has a reputation for helping. The plant helped with this, advising me on how to manage my class. I have noticed some improvements since working with the plant.    Documented Chinese Medicine Use:  Calms shen, purifies the mind, and supports the liver and kidneys. This herb treats a variety of problems associated with the head: Painful or red eyes (the infusion makes a great eye compress), visual disturbances, seizures, vertigo, tinnitus, acne, mouth sores, anxiety, strengthens teeth (and bones, see also Hawthorn plant meditation), upper respiratory flu with headache, fever, sore throat. Also useful for cleansing the liver and kidneys. Clears heat, it is cooling to drink in the Summer. Mild yin tonic. Here is an entry on Chrysanthemum, Júhuā, 菊花 from the  Bencao yuanshi (Origins of Materia Medica) by Li Zhongli, first published in 1612.   Opening the Conversation: To those who have posted, I love hearing your experiences! If you haven't posted, or have more to share now that you know the herb, what are your experiences either personally or with clients? If you have used it for physical health issues, have you noticed emotional or spiritual shifts too?
Learn More
Blackberry Leaf Plant Meditation: Reveal Date 1/23
  • Article published at:
Blackberry Leaf Plant Meditation: Reveal Date 1/23
Blackberry Leaf This week we meditated on Blackberry leaf, an common remedy from traditional Western herbalism. Blackberry is ubiquitous in many areas of the US, and therefore available for wildcrafting. Make sure it is from a safe zone (free from chemicals, etc) if you are planning to use the herb for medicine. If you are thinking of planting your own bushes, check which species are acceptable to plant in your area.  Ecology Note: Himalayan blackberry is categorized as an invasive species in many areas of the United States. The seeds of blackberry are controlled at various borders because of its tendency to spread and tack over.  Plant Meditation Taste/feel: the bottom of a lake (the slime)/dirt, mineral rich, a little sweet, taro boba tea, citrusy, similar to stale chamomile, nettles, or raspberry leaf. Drying/astringent quality. I loved the taste of this tea, and wanted more. It felt rich, nourishing, and thick energetically. I experienced a deep warmth and heaviness in my lower jiao (perhaps associated with dampness/excess water element). The color of this area was an intense deep purple. The plant explained some people use a strong base to lift up (having a strong sexual foundation and being grounded to bring the energy up to higher energy centers: third eye and crown). Others set their life intention to be just the umbrella (image from an art piece I am working on, which is light coming in from above to serve and protect). The deep purple slowly spread up my body gradually to my heart, shoulders, and to my nose. At this point my body is all color: purple to my nose, blue from my forehead to nose to the center of my brain, white above. Then the white begins to spread downwards (white, like the flower) til almost my entire body is white, with a small amount of deep purple mixed into the lower jiao.  I experienced a runny nose, coughing, restlessness, and stiffening neck. Later my lungs began to feel lighter. The taste is similar to nettles and raspberry leaf, and I use both for rhinitis, so it makes sense this would have similar use. It seems like it would be good to use with Black Cohosh for the cough. Research indicates that this herb was used for whooping cough and Black Cohosh would be a good addition to blackberry leaf for that indication. Art by Plant Meditator Leela: Another person had visions of darkness/violence in a natural body of water. A happy looking fish was shot, blood poured out from the fish, fish carcasses and blood came out from the mouth of a statue. The person felt depressed. A giant female diety (a similar vibe to one of the three fates) released one drop of ink into the water for every death. There were many deaths going on at this time. Only the wrist and hand were visible. They kept hearing the song “Down by the Water” by PJ Harvey.   Synthesis This plant brought up themes of darkness and light and the second chakra (water element). Energy was felt in the pelvis/womb area as well as respiratory system. In my herbal practice I use this herb for diarrhea (damp lower jiao) and clearing negative sexual experiences (Sexy Smokes). I appreciated how the herb showed its use for colds and coughs. It had a similar taste and mouth feel to both raspberry leaf and nettles, which I also use for rhinitus (allergies with nettles, and runny noses and post nasal drip sore throats with raspberry leaf), so it makes sense it would have similar uses. It is important to have safe and easily accessible herbs for common ailments such as colds, flus, and digestive upsets. If you live in an area that has abundant blackberry, make a harvest: freeze berries, and dry leaves for colds. The darkness that surfaced for one participant was relieved by black cohosh, which helps with dark brooding energies and people who have had to deal with a lot of negative, controlling people or energies. I feel there is some synergy between black cohosh and blackberry, both dealing with getting stuff out from deep within (spasmodic coughs and deeply penetrating experiences?). In my practice this is the first time these two herbs came together. But, I see they have work to do that overlaps. I see them as two elder sisters in long skirts, bent over a body, doing intense labor to free souls that have been bound.   Use in Herbalism Psychospiritual: Manifestation (out of head, bringing ideas into the physical world), grounding (for dissociation), relief of depression, fear of death, clearing negative sexual experiences, may bring dormant talents from past lives to the surface, more sympathy for animals. It is ethical to do this remedy by itself but recommended that it is done in combination with therapy (Gurudas, Flower Essences and Vibrational Healing, 1989, pg 85, referring to blackberry flower essence). Physical: diarrhea, venous hemorrhage (uterus, intestines, etc), sore throat, sores in mouth, cough, spasms of whooping cough, hemorrhoids, eczema (wash), anemia (tea, help blood absorb nutrition), tuberulosis, infertility.   Now that you know this plant was blackberry leaf, does that connect to other experiences with the plant? I am thinking I may have loved the flavor so much because I need iron and it is helpful for anemia.
Learn More
Plant Meditation Club Reveal Date 1/16/24, Chinese Classical Medicine Brown Bear Herbs
  • Article published at:
Asparagus Root: Classical Chinese Medicine Plant Meditation Reveal Date 1/16
This week we meditated on Radix Aspargii, Asparagus root, or tiān mén dōng, a classical Chinese herb from the Divine Farmer's Materia Medica, or Shén Nóng Běncǎo Jīng.   We had a lovely plant meditation with this herb. We steeped the tubers twice and found that different tastes came through. Overall the initial flavor of the herb is sweet, with a bitter (puckering) aftertaste.  Overall we felt much warmer (especially our chests) during our mediation. One participant felt significant coldness and constriction in their lungs, then warmth. Our meditations were deep, delving into our internal spaces, seeing our connections with spirit. Participants connected with their animal guide, lands of sacred connection, and internal resouces.  My experience: I was warm with this plant! Initially the herb held energy in my mouth. It brought to mind thoughts about riding a horse recently. I hadn't worked with a horse with a bit in years. I was worried a little about how the bit was for the horse. The horse did amazing, but I worry about animal fairness. The plant helped bring me into the flesh of my mouth instead of primarily identifying with the hard structures of my mouth. It's focus was more sensual. The plant guided me to the recognition the horse had the power in the relationshipp but chose to cooperate with me. It guided me to the realization that the "person with the most power needs to take the bit." I had a vision of a queen mouse riding a rat (lol). I was greatful for a sense of release around the trauma in this area of my body. When I allowed this awareness to take hold, the energy began shifting. The energy moved to where I had had a recent head trauma. Again I felt the energy moving me into full embodiment in the area. I felt like I would be able to work on an art piece that is very hard for me (that is related to the trauma) again. I loved working with this plant and look forward to journeying with it more. The related Asparagus root, Asparagus racemoss, aka Shatavari is available in our ASMR tincture, along with Ashwagandha another herb that is supportive for dryness.    Traditional use in Chinese medicine (source): Lung qi deficiency. Yin deficiency. Infertility, moistening (generates fluids), mucilagenous. Soothing to nervous system (rebuilding for neuro-degenerative conditions). Promotes lucid dreaming, supports meditation. Constipation due to dry intestines, dry skin, dry respiratory tract. Heat in upper burner. Supports immunity by increasing WBCs. Due to lack of availability of information on the nuances of Radix Asparagii, I am also looking at the related plant: Asparagus racemosa, aka Shatavari, which is also known as "who possesses a hundred husbands" or acceptable to many. It is used as a generally tonifying herb. It is also used specifically for tonifying to the female reproductive system, and as a libido enhancer. Moistening to reproductive tract needed with age. The use of this herb is related to some of the plant meditation experiences. Western: Moistening, lubricating. Dry respiratory tract. Dry skin. Constipation. Dry vagina, infertility, hot flashes, menopausal symptoms. Insomnia and depression (likely hormonally based, or due to drying).  Other: Ulcer healing (mucusal resistance, it is mucilagenous), helps control symptoms of AIDS, galactogogue, anti-hepatotoxic. What are your personal and/or clinical experiences with Asparagus root, Shatavari, tiān mén dōng?
Learn More
Why is Meditation Beneficial and What is Plant Meditation?
  • Article published at:
Why is Meditation Beneficial and What is Plant Meditation?
Why is meditation beneficial? I have been practicing silent meditation everyday for my adult life. It has given me a connection to spirit, improved my relationships, and helped me emotionally. Furthermore I have seen how much it helped my father, who has meditated daily my whole life. I share some of my experiences. What is plant meditation? Plant meditation is a simple practice combining consuming plant medicine (subscribe and join our Plant Meditation Club) and meditating. During your meditation, observe you body, mind, emotions, etc, and then journal and share your experiences with others. In this way your learn from plants (gemstones, etc) from your internal experiences and those of others in the Plant Meditation Club. We are sharing our plant meditation experiences here, on the Community blog, and in groups in person in Portland, OR and online. 
Learn More
Hawthorn Plant Meditation illustration by Lily Arati Michaud
  • Article published at:
Plant Meditation: Hawthorn, Traditional Western Herbalism
Hawthorn is a favorite herb. I have used it a lot personally and in my herbalism practice. This was a heart warming plant meditation! I learned a new areas of help that hawthorn can offer physically, and was in tears at times with the gifts hawthorn gives emotionally. I am very grateful for the openness and vulnerablity of the group. Process: We drank the unknown infusion, meditated for ten minutes, and shared experiences. We the repeated the process. The plant was revealed to be hawthorn leaf and flower. Want to participate in herbs of Traditional Western herbalism? Subscribe here.   Here is our group doing the first National University of Natural Medicine gathering for plant meditation.   Meditation from the group: Tastes: light, twig taste, floral, dry. Felt the plant was grown in an arid area*.  Body sensation: bone layer**, teeth getting bleached***, head, heart. Visual and sensation of the heart pumping inside author's chest, first the bottom, then the top.  Thought themes: Recognizing patterns of worry. Realizing it was possible to let go of worry (seeing emotional pattern, holding, accepting, release). Memories of times that more was given than received in love efforts (seeing, acceptance, being held by the awareness). Creative process imperfections were seen as part of the harmonious flow of expressing (seeing the pattern of imperfection, seeing this as part of the process, warmth/holding in the awareness). The trees will be one person's nuisance, another's blessing. Heart being sent ducks (all different kinds--mallards, carvings, rubber, etc). Recollecting ancestor who carved ducks. Personally: "The heart is always moving, sending stuff out. But you have to keep filling it too." "You can't just keep burning things, you have to put in good stuff too." Heart being filled with seeds (all kinds--pomegranates in relation to the Plant Meditation Club) and sending them out. Seeing all the seeds the hawthorn produces, enough to fill a valley with trees.     My illustration of hawthorn, crataegus, based on my plant meditation experience with the group.  Reflection:  The heart is always half filling and half emptying. See yourself coming into full heart. You must be giving and receiving. Your heart energy is full, white light. Always in use, always circulating energy. Giving with love, receiving with gratitude. If a heart is always moving, always emptying out half of its contents, how to we stand it full heart? The energy of the heart space is strong, open. We can see and accept our emotional selves with our foibles. We see our outward expressions of feeling, whether creative, nurturing, or romantic, as beautiful in their imperfection. We understand we are process and the process does not have to be heavy, hard, worrisome. We can let that go. We stand with openness to receive. We can stay centered and be open to receiving. Reality check, does our intuition match up?  Hawthorn is time-honored as the primary heart remedy (physically and emotionally). It is a safe, food herb, and can be taken long term.  *Hawthorn grows in the United States from Vermont to Texas. It prefers a moist climate but, once established is tolerant of many climates. It is possible the harvest we were drinking came from a drier climate, it came from Chile. I was not aware of the use of Hawthorn in bone and dental health. Here are a few studies showing this is under investigation. Poor rodents! **Study showing hawthorn's "obvious" ability to positively impact bone marrow in mice, during a 24hr period.  ***Study showing that topical application of hawthorn on rat teeth reduced alveolar bone loss. Traditional Use:  Early leaves are called bread-and-cheese and make a nice snack. The leaves are a remedy for thorn pokes, including Hawthorn's own. Make a syrup of the flowers. Make a tincture of the berry. Take in the morning and before bed 10-20 drops for food allergies, inflammation, waking in the middle of the night and having difficulty getting back to sleep, heart ailments.  I love to harvest hawthorn berries for tincture every year on my birthday, the autumnal equinox. I also like to prepare hawthorn rose hip conserve. 
Learn More
Better Boundaries: Devil's Club, Yarrow, St John's Wort
  • Article published at:
Better Boundaries: Devil's Club, Yarrow, St John's Wort
Here are my favorite herbs for managing boundaries.   Wishing you pleasant holidays!    Are you generally feeling overwhelmed by others'? Yarrow and St John's Wort (in my Back Support tincture) are really helpful for healing openings in your energy body which can make you more susceptible to other people's feelings and energy. Yarrow is found in my Blood and Boundaries bath) as well as Astral in Body herbal smoking blend. St John's Wort in my Back Support tincture. Taking either or both of these in small doses over time has been known to tonify the subtle body making it easier to be a perceptive person but to no longer feel inundated by others energies. All three of these herbs are pretty common in the Pacific Northwest. Yarrow is pretty easy to identify and grow. St John's wort is considered an invasive species and discouraged from gardening because it spreads easily and can cause grazers (like cows) to develope sunburns. Check out my St John's Wort identification video on @brownbearherbs on Instagram.   Stronger support when needed: Devil's club  Try taking Devil's Club when you are going into a situation with a very tough personality. This herb is particularly helpful for having a tough skin around difficult family members, or anyone else who is typically emotionally overwhelming. This herb was historically used to give strong boundaries and a sense of protection. I recommend trying small doses first, about 5 drops is a good starting point. You can take more if needed. Sometimes taking too much can make people feel a little aggressive.   
Learn More
Thyme: Herbs for in the Fight
  • Article published at:
Thyme: Herbs for in the Fight
I am always saddened when I hear of harm consciously being done to our co-inhabitants of Mother Earth. In addition to my community work, I am on the board of directors for Herbalists Without Borders, a global humanitarian organization with a mission is to support local humanitarian groups to help with food and health justice for all.  As I think of people living in war-torn, or high-violence areas, the first herb that comes to mind for resilience is thyme. Why Thyme? 
Learn More
Book Review: The Trauma Informed Herbalist by Elizabeth Guthrie, PhD
  • Article published at:
Book Review: The Trauma Informed Herbalist by Elizabeth Guthrie, PhD
The Trauma Informed Herbalist by Elizabeth Guthrie is an excellent introduction to how healers can be more considerate and aware of trauma. Trauma, in this book, refers to a personal reaction to a range of negative experiences such as ongoing microaggressions related to race, ableism, weight, etc. and PSTD from domestic violence and sexual abuse.  Guthrie, PhD in Natural Medicine, delves into various areas we can all be more sensitive and gives examples and insight from years of personal experience, professional experience, and research. She provides a comprehensive resource list of books covering areas where she lacks first-hand experience.  Instead of going into depth on herbs, she provides an overview of ways to support people and avoid triggering them. Guthrie looks at how and when to use essential oils, yoga, energy healing, environmental choices, thoughtful language, offers a substantial section on flower essences, and discusses some herbs.  I was hoping for more discussion of herbs given the title. I do appreciate the book and the pathway of discovery it opens up.  I recommend this read for people working with others who would like to be more thoughtful about trauma in their practice and/or life. Check it out, and invite in the information for your development.
Learn More
This is one of the intersection paintings I organized. It is at 11th and NE Beech in Portland, OR. Photo by Greg Raisman, 2013.
  • Article published at:
Why is it Important to Connect with and Build Community?
Herbs and natural remedies can help many things but, social problems like isolation, racism, misogyny, and safety concerns need other solutions too. Community building is for everyone. Here are some reasons why its important and some easy ways to get started. Improving and expanding your connections is fun and it's also important to our physical and emotional health. 
Learn More
Herbalists Without Borders & My Herbal Beginnings
  • Article published at:
Herbalists Without Borders & My Herbal Beginnings
Hey, it's Arati. I joined Herbalists Without Borders Board of Directors this January. I was super excited to discover the organization's work through Carolyn Jones and the Healing Project based in Queens. I too am passionate about improving accessibility to herbal wisdom in conjunction with the herbs themselves. If you have information without the actual herbs, you are kind of out of luck! Herbalists Without Borders is so empowering, offering herb lovers support for creating their dream projects and supplying herbs.
Learn More
Book Review: African American Herbalism, by Lucretia VanDyke
  • Article published at:
Book Review: African American Herbalism, by Lucretia VanDyke
VanDyke starts off by looking at the history of African American herbalism, including prominent herbalists and midwives and the roots of their practices. Later on in the book she shares the work and wisdom of modern day, African American herbalists. This book includes how-to’s on medicine making, a materia medica including herbalism for physical wellness, warnings, and magical uses of the same herbs, and many of enticing recipes. It is a wonderful addition to my herbal knowledge and would be a great first herb book for any new herb enthusiast. The best part was hearing VanDyke’s way of expressing her connection with the plants themselves.
Learn More
Plant Medicine for Trauma & Resilience
  • Article published at:
Plant Medicine for Trauma & Resilience
I recently did an interview with powerhouse, Anabel Velasquez, check out the podcast and her work improving legal outcomes from abuse victims at therundown.org Her main mission is to remove the stigma associated with being a victim of domestic and/or sexual abuse. We discussed healing with plant medicine while enduring and recovering from family and sexual abuse.
Learn More
Shero Tina Price tasers save women
  • Article published at:
Shero: Tina Price
Tina Price is the repair person for my cigarette making machine. In spite of being in the cigarette industry she has managed to be tobacco free for three years. That's strong will power! Tina is 5'2" with a smoker's voice. She has so many cool interests: crystals, mounted archery, and belly dance to name a few. The story below is my favorite Tina moment.
Learn More
Kirtan Kriya for Women--yoga for trauma
  • Article published at:
Kirtan Kriya for Women--yoga for trauma
This exercise comes from the Yogi Bhajan lineage. It is said to be the best yoga meditation for women. In this exercise I define that as having female hormones (there is a gender neutral version with plenty of videos about it on youtube). I found this exercise to be hugely beneficial for recovery from PTSD. I recommend doing this exercise for 40 days consecutively.
Learn More