Looking for some exploration in our big backyard? TN Wild is hosting the Tellico Wild Festival in Tellico Plains, Tennessee, with lots of fun, nature-loving things to do Friday, July 31st – Sunday, August 2nd. I’ll be leading an Edible and Medicinal Plants Walk on Saturday. The Edible/Medicinal Hike is currently full with a waitlist, but there are many great hikes, boating adventures, and learning events going on throughout the weekend. This is the place to cool off in the heat of high summer, while also supporting the coolest regional land conservation group around. TN Wild advocates for the passage of the Tennessee Wilderness Act sponsored by Sen. Lamar Alexander, which increases the Wilderness designation of land already held by the National Forest Service. The Poster for TN Wild’s Tellico Wild event. And detailed list of events each day of Tellico Wild Festival.
Hello Plant Friends,
The following are herbal walks and talks that I will be leading throughout the remainder of this year. I hope to see you! -Holli
August 23rd, WILDERNESS WILD FEST: A celebration festival of the Wilderness Act’s 50th Anniversary
At Outdoor Chattanooga/Coolidge Park, Park 200 River Street, Chattanooga, TN
Free family event hosted by the Sierra Club and Outdoor Chattanooga
Holli will be leading an edible plant walk at 4pm. Sign up inside.
September 12-14, FALL NATIVE PLANT SALE
At Reflection Riding Arboretum & Nature Center, 400 Garden Rd, Chattanooga, TN
Holli will be leading a Fall Foraging Event Saturday, Sept 13, from 11:30-1pm. Admission is free.
October 10-12, SOUTHEAST WISE WOMEN HERBAL CONFERENCE, 10th Anniversary
At Black Mountain, NC
Holli will be leading a Medicinal Plant Walk and a Forest Bathing Walk
Register at http://www.sewisewomen.com/
November 6-10, AMERICAN HERBALISTS GUILD SYMPOSIUM, 25th Anniversary
At Callaway Gardens, Pine Mountain, Georgia
Holli will be presenting two lectures:
Emotionally-Focused Herbal Therapy: An herbalist’s role in supporting people experiencing mood disorders, anxiety and trauma disorders
Integrative Medicine Clinics: Models of collaborative care
Register at http://www.americanherbalistsguild.com/
In his song “Nature Boy,” Nat King Cole sings, “The greatest thing you have to learn is just to love, and be loved in return.” Nature is abundant with plants that help us learn to love and be loved in return—and not all of them are for the Viagra-kind of love.
The quest for romantic love is a part of the human condition. Daniel Moerman, author of Native American Ethnobotany, recorded over a hundred stories of Native American tribes using plants as love charms to lure a potential suitor. For instance, the Iroquois considered asters, which are daisy-like flowers, to be love medicine. Perhaps asters were used like the he-loves-me-he-loves-me-not daisy method of divining a suitor’s sincerity, or they could have been knotted into chains like dandelion-flower necklaces.
Several tribes used powdered seeds of Columbine to be sprinkled as a kind of love-dust. Other tribes marked a man’s palm with bloodroot, a native wildflower aptly named for the blood-red liquid which oozes from a cut root.
As a more drastic measure—and maybe a last resort for the desperate and restless—yellow dock root was boiled and splashed on the face and clothes to make one more appealing to a love interest. Though, anyone who has seen yellow dock root knows it makes a yellow-staining dye, and therefore, it seems the amorous seeker would be made quite obvious.
Contemporary use of aphrodisiac herbs include performance-enhancing herbs, such as yohimbe or Asian ginseng, which increase virility for men, or female tonics, which help maintain sexual function, such as an herb from India called shatavari, which means “she who has a hundred husbands.” The name conveys its efficacy.
For relaxing into a romantic relationship, damiana (Turnera aphrodisiaca or Turnera diffusa) is a traditional herbal beverage, either as a tea or as a Mexican herbal liqueur. Supported by scientific studies, damiana is considered to be a mild antidepressant and nervine, which relaxes and calms the nerves so that a couple isn’t too stressed out to be interested in each other.
For marriage maintenance, old-timey Appalachian herbalists revived tired domestic partnerships with passionflower vine, appropriate for couples who’ve grown bored in a relationship, having lost the appreciation for the familiar. A recent clinical trial has proven passionflower as effective for anxiety as an anti-anxiety pharmaceutical benzodiazepine, which would likely help the relationship, as well.
More than just finding and keeping a romance, love medicine can foster a sense of togetherness, which is needed in building and maintaining all relationships. Since communication is the key to maintaining healthy relationships, kava kava, a Polynesian herb which means “talk talk,” could be of value. Kava kava has been traditionally used to ease communication and facilitate a win-win conversation when different tribes join together in conversation.
Most importantly, all love is built upon a compassionate, forgiving self-love. Cultivating self-love involves physically, spiritually and emotionally healing the wounds of the heart, so that one can be open to feeling love for others and allowing oneself to receive love. Reishi mushroom and hawthorn are used as herbal tonics to heal and support the heart on a physical, emotional and spiritual level. By nourishing the heart with antioxidants, and calming the emotional and spiritual mind which, according to Traditional Chinese medicine, resides in the heart, reishi and hawthorn prepare someone to learn to love and be loved in return.
Tonight from 6-8pm I’ll be giving a free talk at Outdoor Chattanooga on freely available wild foods around Chattanooga. The snow prohibited my foraging, so I will have liquid extracts of the herbs to sample instead of food.
The flu is particularly nasty this year, and people have been getting it who even had a flu shot. We have a flu remedy at CIM pre-formulated and available for pick-up in our retail area. It’s best to have this on-hand so you don’t have to go outside when you’re sick.
The first ingredient is wild elder berry (Sambucus nigra), which is well-known for its antiviral properties. The elder tree is considered a medicine chest in itself. The leaf is used topically for injuries. Elder flower is useful for colds, fevers, flu. The berry of Elder has been shown to be effective against numerous strains of the influenza virus. It’s also been proven to reduce the duration of flu symptoms in a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized study.
The next ingredient is boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum), which gets its name from its reputation in alleviating the flu-symptom of achiness that feels like your bones are breaking, which to me is the worst part about having the flu. Boneset quickly deals with fever, reduces body aches, and clears up mucus congestion that might be present with the flu. Studies also show that boneset is an immunostimulant.
Usnea, a greyish-green lichen that grows on trees, is considered a respiratory phyto-biotic—that means it has some antibiotic properties. Although influenza is a virus, usnea might be helpful to prevent opportunistic upper-respiratory infections. Usnea is effective against gram-positive bacterial strains, such as Staphlycoccus aureus (staph), Streptococcus spp. (strep), Pneumonococcus spp. (pneumonia), Enterococcus spp., and Mycobacterium tuberculosis (tuberculosis).
All flu formulas need to contain yarrow because of its fabulous diaphoretic properties. Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) is one of those plants I would want if I were stranded on a deserted island, so I won’t be able to list all of its uses, but just know that its uses are versatile. In the flu formula, yarrow helps in the acute stage of influenza to cause a sweat. Also, yarrow has antimicrobial properties to help battle with the germs.
Finally, a little ginger goes a long way to add some warmth and flavor, but that’s not all. Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is also helpful for sore throats, nausea, and muscle aches.
If you are looking for herbs to prevent the cold and flu, Astragalus can keep your immune boosted throughout the cold and flu season. Make an herbal appointment for a complete work-up and individualized herbal formula that can support your health through the season.
The old African-American spiritual hymn was playing in my head, “There is a Balm in Gilead,” and I stopped to listen. My friend, Honor Woodard, once told me of her practice to notice the songs that pop into her head. Since then, I, too, have paid attention, and instead of the song being background noise, it takes on great meaning like exploring a dream as a gift from the subconscious.
It was a lovely day in December with a clear, Robin-egg blue sky, and a breeze with a tint of warm. I had a to-do list, and mid-way through, I decided to surprise my trusted 4-legged companion, Fay, with a visit to The Pocket. The winter-scape provides a beautiful time to be in nature and to listen.
The Pocket Trail is a sacred and protected place for life to live. It’s one of those places whose air emanates a refuge like a great sigh of relief. Throughout the seasons, I’ve been to this place with Fay, with companions, and while leading large groups. Each time, I’m enchanted by the sound of the water and birds; I’m held in the womb of the rock; I’m seen by the trees and herbs; and I’m healed by breathing in the enriched air.
Sitting on a rock by the waterfall, Fay leaning against my side, I noticed that old spiritual hymn in my mind. By paying attention to the lyrics, I heard this deeply felt connection of healing I had with this place through words sung in suffering. I sat until the song played out, my mind went still and the silent mind could receive the place. The sun had lowered, and December’s chilled air motivated me to say good-bye for now; I’ll carry the healing with me.
Fay and I started our slow walk back along the creek, but before we left, I stopped to hear the song of the beech trees rustling in the breeze.
This winter, my hope for all folks is to find a moment of quiet stillness, to be silent enough to deeply listen. Peace be with you.
Ethnomusicology sources helped me to see layers of meaning in this beautiful song. *Thank you Honor Woodard