Becoming an Herbalist

I remember the excitement I felt as I turned the pages of herb book after herb book, taking to memory the properties of each flower, the appearance of each wild herb.  Perusing the aisles of the local plant nursery, loading up my cart with herb starts; nettles, motherwort, lavender, rose bushes, lemon balm, valerian.  The feeling of placing the fragrant, cut herbs into clear jars topped with vodka and watching them change in the window.  The sunlight and the moonlight turning flowers into medicine.

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Since those early days, my family and I have literally helped thousands of people heal from ailments ranging from colds to cancer.  We have helped thousands of animals heal from upper respiratory infections, renal failure, to broken bones.  These herbs never fail to surprise me with their swiftness and their powerful healing.  Herbs are about all we use around here on this homestead.

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I opened my school in 2011.  I wrote a text book for the occasion and over the years, with each semester, it changes, gets edited, gets added to, gets taken from, morphs.  It is a tome of information on systems of the body, the herbs that are specific, common ailments, and treatments with herbs.  It is filled with ways to make medicine, how to wild craft, recipes, and wisdom from two retail shops, two websites, hundreds of farmer’s markets, and one family whose only desire was to help the world.

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I closed my school this year and the reins to our apothecary were handed to my daughter, Shyanne.  I still grow most of her herbs and I will always make medicine and trust my beloved plants.  But the chapters before are coming to an end as a new act opens.

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My book, The Herbalist Will See You Now; Your Complete Training Guide to Becoming and Working as an Herbalist has been revised and edited and is now available for you at home to enjoy and utilize on your herbalist journey.  It is a comprehensive training program with worksheets, sample intake forms, even a test at the end that you can walk yourself through to get a thorough and solid foundation to become and work as an herbalist.

My books are all available at AuthorKatieSanders.com.

Or purchase directly from here!

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May you go on to meet and understand the beautiful plants that are our medicine, may you help thousands, may you heal yourself, and may this book bring you as much passion as it gave me writing it!

How to Heal Wounds; the Wise Farmgirl’s Pharmacy

Booboo is our oldest cat in the house right now.  He is in his second generation of kids.  He waits excitedly by the door if Maryjane arrives.  When Booboo was a kitten, our son Andrew trained him to run to his room if he played Bob Marley.  Booboo walked around sporting a tiny Jamaican hat with fake dreadlocks.  This kitty is beloved.  Apparently not so much to our young cat.

Chuck wants to be king, apparently.  Who can really understand cats?  I wonder why they are my favorite animals sometimes with all their ferocity and claws.  Or teeth, in this case.

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The night before last, we turned out the light and Booboo jumped on the bed and curled up between us as always.  We noticed a horrible smell and he was suckling madly in the dark.  We turned on the lights and noticed that he had two very defined bite marks on his hip.  Deep, about a quarter inch, and oozing with puss and infection.

These are the times I am grateful to be an herbalist.  Not much throws me.  I grabbed the wound healer, and using a dropper, applied it into the wounds.

Yesterday morning the puss was gone but the smell was there and I could see the muscle tissue in his leg.  (Chuck is grounded, by the way, and may very well become the shop cat at our new store!)  I went out to the garden and harvested calendula, yarrow, echinacea, and comfrey.  Calendula, echinacea, and yarrow are anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and are natural blood cleansers and antibiotics.  Comfrey could honest to god heal the world.  It binds tissues and bones and heals quickly.  I placed these into a wide mouth pint jar with 3/4 teaspoon of sea salt and poured boiling water over the tea.  That sat and brewed for about an hour.  I left a little room to add cooler water to make it temperate.  Once it was cool, it was ready.

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Booboo was certainly a good sport and let me squeeze the fomentation into the wounds using a flat cotton pad.  I added the wound healer again.  The wound healer was used that morning as well.  A repeat application of tea and wound healer was given again last night.  This morning it looks clean and on the mend.  He will get the same treatment today and I have no doubt that by tomorrow morning he will be nearly healed.

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It is always wise to have herbs on hand to make fomentations (a tea you put on topically) or infusions (a tea you take internally for medicinal purposes), but a good wound healer can save the day.  We have used it when Doug cut his finger down to the bone with a hatchet.  We have used it for burns from the wood cook stove.  We have used it for every cut or wound.  It replaces stitches, kills infection, and helps the body heal itself quickly.  It also helps with pain.

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First start with a base.  This is an extract.  In a pint jar, fill 20% with herbs like the ones listed above and top with vodka.  Leave in the window for two weeks.  Pour some of the finished extract into a half-pint jar, about 1/4 full.  Fill the jar with filtered water.  This is your diluted base for wound healer.  (Believe me, you need to cut it.)  In a 4 ounce jelly jar, combine 1 part finished, diluted base and 1 part aloe vera gel.  (Please make sure it is actually aloe vera gel!  You’d be surprised what they put in cheap aloe vera.  You should opt for the bottle that is nearly 100% aloe vera gel with a small percentage of preservative.  Otherwise it will rot too quickly.)  I like to add about 10 drops of tea tree oil and 10 drops of lavender.

There you go!  You are ready to take on cat bites, sunburn, cuts, boils, and battle wounds from the garden or kitchen.  This is a great addition to your homestead pharmacy!

For more recipes and to build your own homestead pharmacy, click HERE to check out my book, “The Homesteader’s Pharmacy” on Amazon.

 

The Spiritual Tea Garden (and letting go)

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The community came together and helped save our shop.  An interest free loan from a customer helped smooth out stress.  The beautiful shop in Elizabeth will remain nurtured and cared for as Shyanne’s.  I am trying to release the need to control and know every outcome.  Maybe we will make it until the lease is up, maybe for many years to come, I must release what I cannot see.  For now, it is a lovely testament to a community who came together and helped us remain open.

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I am not sure when it began but what started as divine inspiration turned into stalking the bottom line.  Ideas became web domains and joy became stress.  I am trying to quiet my mind and listen and not plan out every detail of my next chapter.  I am letting it fall together in pieces of timely thoughts and guiding purpose.  I am not rushing to choose a name.  I am not getting the website. I am not plotting every detail as I have in the past.  The idea of jumping back into a full blown business defeats me at present.  Farmer’s markets, shows, promotion, packaging…it all exhausts me to think of it.  I want to serve and to be more generous.  I want to extend my wisdom and my heart to those around me and that gets lost when I am trying to reach a financial goal.  I don’t want a business, I want a purpose.

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Three years ago sitting in the prairie grasses beneath ancient cottonwoods with five owls perched around me, the names of herbs popped in my head that I had not heard of and I jotted them down.  I researched them and was astonished to learn their spiritual uses and properties.  My love affair with herbs as spiritual medicine ignited.

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As I worked with Native American elders I learned the uses of cedar, sage, tobacco, sweetgrass, lobelia, and others to help purify and bless spaces and people.  I found that I innately knew what herbs healed what spiritually.

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I am a medical intuitive and I see physical illnesses like tumors and breaks but I also see spiritual wounds and heartbreak.  The herbs that are used to heal physical ailments also work on the same system of the body for spiritual health.  Heartbreak, rejection, trauma, dementia, stress can all be healed by herbs, as well as manifesting love, clarity, inspiration, grounding, or connection with the divine to increase joy and purpose in every day.  I am fascinated by the medicinal and soul empowering aspect of herbs.

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I am listening.  I am not moving quickly.  I have a dream of many gardens filled with herbs and flowers.  I grew dozens of varieties last year and this year I hope to double that.  I had a feeling that I should purchase some organic base teas to blend with my spirit teas.  Organic Assam, Yerba Mate, Rooibos, smoky Lapsang Souchong, along with the Jasmine I grow will act as carriers for my herbal blends.  There is sacredness in tea.

I had a dream last night of raised garden beds of herbs with fairy lights around them.  I hadn’t thought of that. I always put the herbs along fence lines or along the house.  To designate space for specific herbs is a beautiful idea.

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The universe is my marketing director and those that need me will find me.  I can give back and heal and be generous and trust.  I stay quiet and listen to the plant spirits.  There is nothing to do right now but learn and be grateful.  And maybe have a cup of tea.

Garlic; How to Use as Medicine and How to Make Infused Honey

20180117_171823Garlic is one of the most important plants.  It is easy to grow, easy to find, and easy to use.  The garlic bulb is unassuming but let us not forget its amazing qualities.

Garlic is still one of our most important antibiotics in the fight against the scariest of diseases being spread in our unstable hospital system, Sepsis and MRSA.  As each year’s viruses become more and more fierce and as cancer rates skyrocket due to foods and medicines and pollutants and stress, we can look to this humble clove of garlic to help us.  Do not underestimate it.  It is hundreds of times more potent than any marketed antibiotic or blood cleanser.

Garlic is safe for all animals as well, making it an important antibiotic.  It is a myth that cats and dogs cannot consume garlic.  We have used garlic successfully for many, many years in our work to help heal hundreds of animals.

Garlic is effective against the common cold and helps clear the blood of toxins.  It is effective in an extract form (though rather strong), an infused honey (recipe to follow), in a glycerite for small animals and children, and is extremely beneficial in food.

A few simple tools make life easier in the kitchen.

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The garlic peeler is a small, rough mat, much like what we use to open jars with.  Roll the cloves in the peeler with your palm and they pop out without the skins!

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Likewise, a garlic press saves time chopping and opens up the garlic so that more of the properties can be released.

As in all medicines, some heating is quite beneficial but even if you cook the garlic for some time, its properties simply transfer to the base, stock, or sauce.  You will still get the medicine.

Use plenty of garlic in your sauces, soups, and bases for recipes.  Grow a patch of garlic in the yard.  You can start them in April and harvest this fall.  Simply buy a bulb of organic garlic from the store, separate the cloves, and plant them two inches apart.  Cover with a little straw.

Garlic is anti-biotic, anti-bacterial, anti-yeast, anti-fungal, anti-viral, and anti-cancer.  It cleanses the blood of bad cells, of toxins, and treats upper respiratory infections quickly.  It will help prevent the flu and is even more amazing when added to other similar propertied herbs, like onion, oregano, rosemary, sage, echinacea, juniper berries, oregon grape root, and rose hips.

Infused Cold and Flu Honey

In a saucepan combine 1 clove of minced garlic, and 1 teaspoon each rosemary, sage, oregano, and 1/2 teaspoon of thyme.  Add a pinch of hot pepper if you like.  Cover with 1 cup or so of honey.  Heat on medium-low, swirling contents often, for 20 minutes.  Strain.  Add a smidgen of whiskey if desired to make syrup.  Or just use in tea.  Store in a canning jar.  It’s quite tasty and stays good forever.  Take as much as you need to fight a cold!  Or use daily by teaspoon or in tea.

Take care of yourselves out there, Folks!

Trusting Intuition and Plant Medicines

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My kitten was very sick.  Five months ago I picked Merlin and his brother up at the feed mill where they had been found the eve before.  They were not even a day old yet and their mother was gone.  Merlin survived on dropper-fulls of milk delivered every two hours.  He spent his first six weeks, first in my bra, then in my apron top.  He went everywhere with us because of his feedings.  He is a feisty, furry, sweet little boy and I naturally have a very strong attachment to him.

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Last week I noticed that when he ran (which he seems to always be doing) streams of diarrhea were following him.  It wouldn’t stop.  He also has chronic allergies.  I had cancelled his appointment to get neutered at the “in-and-out-neuter clinic because they wouldn’t listen to me that they would have to be alert to his breathing.

I haven’t been to a vet in over a decade.  Same with the doctor.  I make my own medicines with 100% success and my full faith is in these plants.  If they don’t need to be spayed/neutered or humanely euthanized at the end of life, I don’t take them.  I know as well as I know my name what herbs do what.  I had been faithfully giving Merlin the antibiotic and the super immunity allergy medicine and these keep his sniffles in check.  He had two days worth of tummy trouble medicine that I make specifically for cats (chamomile, mint, mullein, lemon balm).  But fear makes us doubt.  It makes us panic.  And I made an appointment with the vet.

Doug recalled his trip with Merlin and as I read the line by line charges I realized the vet is no different than it was twenty years ago when I was a vet tech.  God love them but most vets (and doctors) are trained on a script, a pharmaceutical drug, and a bill.  She did a fecal sample.  I knew he didn’t have parasites because he had already taken my anti-parasite.  He didn’t but she de-wormed him anyway.  With a chemical.  That made him so bad that night that diarrhea was flying everywhere in large puddles as he screamed and literally climbed the walls.  Then they sold him some “special” food (I cannot believe after all this time they are still pushing that Science Diet stuff as healthy).  Tried to push vaccinations on him (even though he was clearly not feeling well).  Over a hundred dollars later we had a diagnoses.  Diarrhea.

I was furious that my Merlin was worse.  I was furious that I had not trusted my instincts, my intuition, my plants.  The next day, his third day of tummy medicine that I make, he was a hundred percent well.  One more dose and we would have had it.

How many times did I panic when the kids were little (before I was an herbalist) and rush Andy to the emergency room for pink eye (in 2 hours it is better with my recipe), or Shyanne with a headache (feverfew and willow), or Emily with seborrhea dermatitis (she was allergic to her earrings)?

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In our household and with thousands of clients over the years and students’ medicines made and the people they help and so forth, I have seen plants heal everything.  I beseech you to learn herbal medicines for your homestead.  I have saved my own flock of chickens, helped relieve pain in goats, de-wormed sheep, healed cats, saved dogs, and kept our family healthy and well.  The plants were made for this!

They are burying one of my son’s friends this week.  Oxycodone.

I have classes, I have an online store and shop, others across the world have the same.  Seek out wisdom in library books, with teachers, or if you have no desire to turn your basement into a full apothecary, find a real herbalist.  Not a health food store.  A working, breathing, passionate herbalist.

http://whitewolfherbs.com

Maybe 2018 is the year we all go back to the plants.

(By the way, Merlin is doing great!)

 

 

Three Autumn Medicinal Herbs to Harvest Now

20170929_113435This year I was able to harvest over thirty different medicinal herbs from my gardens.  There are three of them right now that would serve you well for the winter if you can find them, and if not, plant some next year!

20170929_114035The first one is Burdock.  There are three kinds of docks; yellow dock that grows in the marshes and on the sides of roads.  Curly dock is the same, it loves willow trees.  I have some popping up in my yard unexpectedly.  Then there is burdock.  They will all work the same.  Burdock has those annoying round burrs.  I harvested mine before their growth.  I planted seeds in the spring and had a beautiful crop.  The roots won’t let you pull them completely which assures that you will have some more next year.  Perennials are a beautiful thing and this perennial could save your life.

Docks have pretty amazing blood cleansing abilities.  They are used to detoxify the body and to kill cancer.  Their long tap roots are eaten in many cultures.  Just chop them up like carrots or parsnips.  They are also available in the health food store at times in the produce section.

The leaves of the burdock are green which tells us that it is specific to organs as well.  They are very nutritious and will make a lovely tea to help cleanse the liver, gallbladder, and kidneys as well as the entire lymphatic system.  I dried mine in a large box because they were so huge.

You can add both leaves and roots to a canning jar with rum, vodka, brandy, etc. and let brew for four weeks but don’t strain it as you want it as strong as possible.  Put one teaspoon in a shot glass of orange juice to take in the mornings as an immunity booster and preventative.  Enjoy the tea with other green herbs like mint and lemon verbena.

20171017_171507Rose Hips contain the highest amount of Vitamin C of any fruit and are specific to Arthritis and as an anti-inflammatory.  They contain anthocyanins for heart health and the prevention of cancers.  We harvested a lot of roses off of nearly-hundred-year old bushes during the year.  I always leave some of the roses.  One, they look beautiful, and two, they will produce hips which contain their seeds and are a delicious fruit.  These can be dried in paper bags and used in extracts or teas.  Or for fun they make a lovely jelly or liqueur.  They take down swelling quickly and taste delicious.

The third medicinal plant is the humble onion.  The onion contains over 150 phytochemicals, quercetin (anti-inflammatory and pain reliever), and saponin (soap to help clean the organs and blood) and is anti-viral, anti-biotic, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-yeast, and kills the flu quick.  Forget chicken soup, if the household is coming down with colds or flu make French onion soup with lots of onions and garlic!

These three autumn plants will keep you healthy, strong, and feeling your best to take on the winter days ahead.

If you prefer to use plant medicines already made you can do so by ordering from my website http://whitewolfherbs.com.  My daughter and I handcraft powerful medicines that we know will work!  You can find the burdock in our Detox and rose hips in our Arthritis.  Thanks for supporting traditional herbalists!

How to Make this Season’s Strongest Antibiotic

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I often tell my students that the most frustrating, the most difficult part of being an herbalist is not being asked for help.  I see on Facebook cousins who are always sick, cousins going in for surgery, people in pain, friends under some constant barrage of bacterial infection.  With bottles of incredibly effective medicines at the ready, I wait.  And wait.  People just don’t know how amazing real plant medicine made by real herbalists can be.  I may not be able to help everyone but I can teach you how to help yourself.  What if I told you that this winter you would be blissfully cold and flu free?  Bacterial infections cannot stand up against this antibiotic either so it is a really great medicine to keep in your cupboard!

There are lots of places you can purchase the herbs.  I highly recommend that you plant what you can.  We would be wise to be more sustainable as herbalists.  Until then you can purchase dried, ready to go herbs from reputable companies such as Mountain Rose Herbs, Starwest Botanicals, Penn Herb Company, Frontier Herbs and many others online.

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In a canning jar combine 3 Tablespoons of Oregon Grape Root, 2 Tablespoons of Echinacea, 1 clove of garlic (just one, trust me), 2 Tablespoons of Mint, 1 Tablespoon of Juniper Berries, 1 teaspoon of pepper, 1 teaspoon of turmeric.  Everything but the garlic is dried in this recipe.  Fill 3/4 full with vodka.  Add a few dried apples or plums for flavor and more cold fighting antioxidants then fill rest of jar with honey.  Place in sunny spot for a month.  Shake the jar when you notice it.  Do not strain.

Take 1 teaspoon if you feel like you are getting sick.  Take 1-2 teaspoons 4x a day for a full blown infection or illness.  Halve the dosage for children.  Omit the juniper berries if you are in the early part of your pregnancy. This concoction’s shelf life is forever.

Now that we know we won’t be wasting any time getting sick this season, we can start planning things we want to do, like weaving and cheese making and candle making, and soap making, and…

(If you don’t make your own you can always order some of our incredibly effective White Wolf Medicine Antibiotic at http://whitewolfherbs.com.  Thanks for supporting your working herbalists!)

 

Hibiscus as Medicine

 

hibiscusHibiscus is a lovely house plant as well as prolific grower in the garden.  There are varieties for less than tropical environments.  It gives a nice Hawaiian feel to the window during a snowy day if you keep it in a pot.  You may be familiar with hibiscus tea.  Hibiscus is added to many a tea blend and imbues a rosy hue to the finished drink.  But, hibiscus is not just a tasty, tart tea.  It is, in fact, medicine.

Hibiscus is one of the most potent medicines in the health of the kidneys and blood.  It will help regulate blood pressure in minutes.  It’s good friend, Mistletoe leaves, helps it work in ten minutes or less to return blood pressure to its desired numbers.

Because blood pressure is regulated by the kidneys, it is an obvious conclusion that  kidney function and detoxification must be assisted in order to remedy blood pressure.  The kidneys filter a quarter of the blood every two minutes.  We can safely assume that hibiscus assists in kidney function as well.

I use a lot of traditional spirit medicine in my practice, since you cannot reasonably separate the mind and body from the spirit.  Hibiscus is used to help heartache, anxiety, or the sadness from loss.  Not as an anti-anxiety, but as a beautiful plant who assists in healing the spirit.  Incidentally, the circulatory system is affected by heartbreak.  Hibiscus is used for blood…so that means the circulatory system…which is a connected with the heart.  Fascinating, isn’t it?

Once the flower folds back up, snip it from its stem and dry it in a paper bag for a few weeks.  Cut up and store in a sandwich bag or jar.  Use 1 teaspoon per 1 cup of boiling water and let steep 5 minutes.  It is quite sour so a bit of honey or maple is nice.  Perhaps add combination of roses, lavender, hawthorn berries, yarrow, and/or dandelion for a lovely effect on the kidneys, blood pressure, and on the spirit.

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