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Michael Tierra L.Ac, OMD, AHG founder

It is everyone's birthright to learn how to use the common wayside weeds that may be indigenous or naturalized in their immediate vicinity because they possess special nutritional and healing powers that often surpass cultivated plants.

If there is any question regarding the superior nutritional value of weeds over leafy vegetables, I would direct you to the following chart:







(PER 100 G)


309 mg





7 mg





2.1 g





1.2 mg





1.2 mg





72 mg










4.2 g














Vitamin C

80 mg




(Source: Duke, J.A. and Atchley, A.A., CRC Handbook of Proximate Analysis Tables of Higher Plants, CRC Press, 1986)

Weeds are particularly high in minerals. The value of weeds lies not only in their superior healing and nutritional content but also that they are present to correct various soil imbalances. Dandelions, for instance, have roots that extend deep into the subsoil to bring up important trace mineral nutrients for use by the higher plants. Other weeds such as purslane condition the soil by extending tendrils and filaments to provide shade, soil aeration and moisture.

There is an entire study of soil fertility based on weeds as indicators of soil condition. A vigorous crop of daisies or chamomile may appear in soil that is lacking in lime since these are particularly rich in calcium. Corn marigold and spurrey are found on light acid soils but mayweed, plantain, dandelion and many others indicate a heavier type of acid soil. Horsetail can indicate a badly drained acid soil. Groundsel, a common garden weed is a weed indicating a general lack of soil fertility. Thistle occurs in soil that has been overworked and depleted. Coltsfoot with its penetrating rootstock is an excellent subsoiler useful for heavy clay soil needing aeration and drainage. Clovers, vetch's, peas, lupin and other leguminous weeds have the ability to fix nitrogen from the air into the soil and often thrive in soil lacking in nitrogen. Weeds serve an important good purpose in soil health and they should be composted and returned to the soil. Many wise gardeners learn that rather than keep a garden free from weeds, it is better for soil fertility to simply thin them out around the desired plants.

One of the most satisfying and healthful things to do is to include edible weeds as part of one's regular diet. There are many books offering a variety of wild food recipes but the simplest is to steam fresh edible young shoots and leaves from purslane, malva, evening primrose, amaranth, wild mustard greens, wild radish, dandelion, or nettles. Add a bit of olive oil and Bragg's amino acids and let these stand on the counter so everyone in the family can 'graze' on them throughout the day. If desired, one may add some garlic powder for added benefit and flavor. Another simple method is to sauteé them in a skillet or wok with a little olive oil and chopped garlic.

Following is a brief group of weeds that we harvest and consume from our garden:


There are many species of amaranths and the one I have in my garden is pale green in color with a fine magenta powder at the base of the mature leaves. This powder gives rise to the common name 'magenta amaranth.' The powder is easily removed from the hands and seems to disappear after the leaves are steamed or sautéed. Amaranths are among the most nutritious of all wild greens. Amaranth is very low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium. It is also a good source of dietary fiber, iron, magnesium, phosphorus and copper.

Have you ever noticed that with the exception of lettuce and spinach, most of the green vegetables eaten in the United States come from the cruciferae family that includes cabbage, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, bok choy, kale and collards? While these are rich nutritionally, they are also known to have goitrogenic properties, especially if they are not thoroughly cooked, making them unsuitable for individuals with a tendency towards low thyroid. All the more reason to include leafy green plants from different botanical families such as dandelion, purslane, evening primrose leaves, nettles and amaranth.

Purslane (Portulaca Oleracea)

This is a recurring weed in our garden and before I learned how delicious it was as a potherb, I spent hours and days in the hot sun trying to 'weed it out once and for all' (I have since heard that the seeds can lie dormant in the soil for decades). My Mexican gardener suggested that I eat this weed and since then I found that it is sold as a vegetable in France, Mexico and South America. Among over 13,000 known food plants, purslane is one of fewer than 20 plants with the capacity to meet most of our nutritional requirements. It is a uniquely rich source of fatty acids including omega 3, and is high in antioxidants and glutathione. It is also a good source of coenzyme Q10. It is high in easily absorbed vitamins C and E. It contains pectin known to lower cholesterol. It can be taken internally or applied topically to promote wound healing for boils and burns. It is a rich source of all minerals and is particularly high in potassium.

Steamed, added to soups, or sautéed, purslane is a rich source of alpha-linolenic-acid, tocopherol, magnesium and potassium.


the young leaves can be sautéed or steamed and are a wonderfully antiinflammatory diuretic useful for urinary tract infections. The roots can be finely chopped and sautéed or dried and roasted to make a wonderful coffee beverage. Dandelion root tea is one of the most effective herbs for treating acute and chronic hepatitis, liver cirrhosis, and gall bladder disease. Finally, Chinese medicine considers dandelion root to be specifically useful in the treatment of breast cancer.


Stinging nettles make a delicious potherb. Of course one should wear gloves when picking the young leaves. The sting is completely neutralized when they are dried, steamed or cooked in soup. Nettles are rich in minerals, especially calcium, magnesium, iron and a wide variety of vitamins.

There's poetry in learning to value what was formerly considered useless. While very few weeds are toxic, it is prudent to consult one of many reputable sources before experimenting with ingesting them.

Michael Tierra is the author of many respected books on herbal healing. He is also the author of the East West Herb Course.

Dr. Michael Tierra L.AC., O.M.D.

Long, long ago, there was a sage in India named Chyawan who lived in a forest. His hair was matted and he was covered with tree growth after years of meditating in the same place. A young princess was blindfolded and dancing in the forest when her hands touched the hair of the sage. Her father, the king, explained to the sage that it was the custom in his country that a woman could only touch one man in her lifetime. He thus requested the sage to marry his daughter. Chyawan asked if he could have two months to prepare for the wedding, for he wished to be young again so as to afford his wife conjugal bliss. Thereupon, he developed the recipe for longevity that has remained India's most popular remedy, some say for 2000 years, others since the times of the Vedas.

Chyawanprash (Chyavanprash) is classified as a 'Rasayana' '“ an herbal category known as a tonic for maintaining youthfulness, vigor and vitality of the body, and keeping away the aging process, senility and debility. It is used for rejuvenation and to prevent all diseases.

The Rasayanas are meant to impart long, healthy, disease-free life, intelligence, power of memory, youth and luster. Among all the Rasayanas, Chyawanprash is the most useful and famous. It is the most popular rejuvenating Ayurvedic tonic in India, having the consistency of jelly and containing about 35 natural herbs including Amla (Embellica Officinalis), the richest natural source of vitamin C. It works on the immune system of the body, protecting it against everyday infections like cough, cold and fever. Thus, it is very useful in children, old persons, tubercular patients and debilitated persons.

There are many different recipes for Chyawanprash, ranging in ingredients from a mere 20 or so herbs and spices to 70 or 80 ingredients. The main ingredient, however, regardless of the exact formula, is always amla or amalaki, a tropical gooseberry that is the world's richest source of vitamin C. It is, moreover, a source that remains stable in storage for years. The rest of the ingredients vary from regenerative herbs for the reproductive system such as ashwagandha and shatavari to spices that aid assimilation and digestion.

In Ayurveda, it is believed that most disease stems from problems in the digestive system. In fact this belief is shared by all natural healing systems throughout the world, including European, Mediterranean, Asian, and Native American. The belief is that all disease begins in the stomach. Ayurveda breaks digestion into three stages: the stomach, the small intestine, and the large intestines. Food that is assimilated in the stomach is used very quickly for the building of fluids, blood and lymph. What is assimilated in the small intestine affects mainly muscles and fat; and what is assimilated in the colon is used to regenerate the skin, bones, hair, nerve sheaths, reproductive fluids, and brain. Fragility of the bones and senility are thus colon problems and they are "vata" conditions '“ derangements of the air and ether which includes the nervous system. All proper maintenance requires good digestion and assimilation; otherwise, worn out tissues will not be regenerated, i.e. replaced by healthy new tissues.

A "Rasayana" is a formula for just such tissue rejuvenation, and Chyawanprash is the most famous, and in my opinion, the most effective of these highly esoteric remedies. Moreover, it has been so thoroughly studied that it is legal to market Chyawanprash as an antioxidant '“ the best that has ever been researched in modern laboratories. Antioxidants, such as vitamin C, found in fresh fruits and vegetables, are widely recognized as important to prevent and treat all degenerative diseases and to counteract the ravages of aging.

I have tried many versions of Chyawanprash and in my opinion 'Prass' made by Komal, is the best. It has the most appealing, fruity flavor and unlike other brands it is made with fresh 'amlas' harvested and processed at the peak of their season. This is why it costs a bit more but I think it is worth the added expense. This is ideal for the whole family to take.
Besides supplying vital nutrients to the body, Chyawanprash assists assimilation of nutrients from food. This is why one of the best ways to take it is to dissolve a teaspoon or two in a cup of scalded, warm milk. Taken on a regular, daily basis, one will find a general increase in wellness seen in luster of the complexion and hair, increased vitality, resistance to disease and a general zest for life and living '“ all the things one should expect from the world's greatest herbal tonic.

In India, those with the means to afford Chyawanprash take it every day, usually from at least age 40 and up. They generally use about 1-3 teaspoons a day. It is also given to children.

As one might expect, in India, many people take Chyawanprash in warm milk, but it can also be eaten some straight from the bottle. The taste is interesting '“ a bit sweet-sour in flavor. Most people are surprised that Chyawanprash tastes as good as it does. My dogs fight over the almost empty containers and all the dogs I've had for the last 20 years prefer Chyawanprash to bones.

By Michael Tierra

Tinctures are one way to take herbs but herbal wines are still another. They have the advantage of lower alcohol content and are cheaper because you don't have to buy alcohol to make and preserve the extract, you can just allow the berry or herbs to make their own alcohol.

Blackberry wine is a delicious beverage with a lot of healing benefits for the blood and lower bowel. It was actually was the preferred alcoholic drink during mid 19th century North America since grapes where not as yet established in the Midwest and Western part of the country.

Blackberry wine like blackberry leaves and blackberry root is a treatment for general sickness and especially bowel diseases including diarrhea and IBS. A shot glass two or three times a day is a good dose but it is so delicious that it is hard to limit oneself to only that amount. In many parts of the country, the Blackberries are only just coming to fruition. Here's a fine old-time recipe for making Blackberry wine.

1 gallon of blackberries

Add 1 quart of boiling water.

Let it stand for 24 hours, stirring occasionally

Press strain through a strainer or cheesecloth

To every gallon of liquid dissolve 2 lbs of sugar

Warm slightly no higher than 103 degrees Fahrenheit

Float a teaspoon of wine or baker's yeast.

Cover with a clean cloth to keep dirt out of it

Let it stand in a warm place (the attic is a good place) until the fermenting activity has nearly finished -- this can take a couple of weeks. One way to tell is to put a small pinhole in a balloon and fasten it over the lip of a bottle. It will inflate with the escaping gas. When the balloon naturally deflates, the fermentation is mostly complete, and it should be tightly corked and bottled for future use.

Strain again through a finer cotton or linen cloth

Bottle a cork tightly letting it stand for at least a year.

The original recipe indicated to cork it tight without adding the yeast and after the sugar has been added and simply let it stand for a year.

The same recipe can be followed substituting any berries or fruit. You can make wine with any herb by making a strong decoction from any root, bark or leaves. Follow the same procedure but dissolve 3 lbs of sugar into the liquor instead.

To make old fashioned root beer, make a strong decoction of sassafras, sarsaparilla, burdock root and perhaps a little licorice or anise seed. Follow the above procedure but only use 1 lb of sugar per gallon of tea and do add yeast and keep warm overnight to allow the fermentation to begin. Before it is completely done, this should be consumed within a day.

Michael Tierra

Purchase this book.

Some of the healers and systems of alternative medicine that have emanated from the late 1960's Black Bear Ranch in the Klamath wilderness of Northern California are among the top systems and leaders of the movement today. Michael Tierra cultivated his interest and career as an internationally acclaimed leader of the herbal renaissance at Black Bear, Belize herbalist of internationally acclaim, Rosita Arvigo, known in those days as Zura, also lived at Black Bear, Efrem and Harriet Korngold, together with Efrem's father, Murray, were among the first to promote acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine at Black Bear Ranch, Efrem and Harriet later went on to write the definitive introductory book on TCM, Between Heaven and Earth. Other members such as Yeshi and Geba were and continue to be in the forefront of the homebirth, midwife movement. Joyce Gardner author, herbalist and healer was also a member of the Black Bear Commune.

It was crazy times, crazy but inspired people, joined by their love of nature and service to humanity, that founded Black Bear Ranch. This book is for the connoisseur; don't expect to find it readily available. It is truly and underground classic. There are several articles by Michael Tierra in the book and others who lived together, sharing the vision, the energy, their bodies and minds with each other, somewhat naively and unashamedly exploring the paths of human experience to ultimately instill a spark of new life and vision that subtly and not too subtly permeates our present world. You have to read this thoroughly enjoyable book. You won't be sorry you did and by the way, Black Bear Ranch is owned as a trust by its original members and still lives on with new young members living communally together in the wilderness, exploring natural lifestyles similar to the original group of more than two decades ago.

Brief Review:
From its founding in a remote 80-acre wilderness valley surrounded by national forest during the turbulent 1960s, Black Bear Ranch was committed to creating a counter-culture more in tune with humanistic values than those found in commercial American culture.

The original occupants left the Haight Ashbury, New York, Los Angeles and a dozen other cities to free themselves from the constraints of middle-class America. Pledging to experiment and create new forms for society, they jettisoned the values, practices and habits they grew up with and tested themselves in ways that few others of the time did.

A gathering of over fifty voices, the stories in this anthology are authentic memoirs that capture true-to-life experiences of the subculture spawned by the time. The accounts resonate as a wild untold history and of heartfelt tales told first hand by participants.

A cultural treasure map that trace the beginnings of many of today's movements for natural healing, women's rights, environmentalism and ecology, natural childbirth, organic gardening and new spiritual alternatives. By understanding the origins, readers will be better able to evaluate where these movements are headed and what they seek. The stories address contemporary issues of identity, community and values that remain important today and as we go forward into the next millennium.

Purchase From: Black Bear Mining and Publishing company
Business: Independent Publisher
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Phone: 831-724-2059
Address: 2220 Pleasant Valley Road
City: Aptos
State: CA
Zip: 95003

by Dr. Michael Tierra L.AC., O.M.D.

Year long sales of herbal products ending in May 1998 is over 106 million dollars compared to 57 million dollars for previous years. This represents an increase of 101 percent over one year. Each year more students enroll in courses not only for personal use, but also with the intention of forming a wonderful new career as a professional clinical herbalist.

In 1989, Michael Tierra, foreseeing this trend, formed the American Herbalists Guild (AHG), to foster a legacy that will establish and uphold educational and other standards for the professional clinical training and practice of herbal medicine in the US. The AHG was also intended to serve as a networking between all those seriously interested in herbal medicine, as well as an interface between the public, the media and government agencies, on behalf of its members. Implied in all of this was the need to elevate the profession of clinical herbalist to the status of a recognized legal profession throughout the US.

Every profession strongly relies on its organization(s) to represent them. Maintaining an active membership is only the minimum requirement.

The AHG is the national organization formed to represent the practice of clinical herbal medicine in the US. It is comprised of professional members who are admitted by a process of peer review, student membership and general membership. All those seriously interested in the evolution of clinical herbal medicine in the US and seeking professional endorsement should be willing to maintain their yearly $35 yearly AHG student membership.

With herbal medicine rapidly entering the mainstream, it is vitally important that herbalists have a voice in its evolution. As the millennium dawns, it will be one of the main purposes of the AHG to promote the ever-evolving tradition of holistic herbal medicine, including Western, Chinese and Ayurvedic herbal medicine traditions.

The Guild is a non-profit, financially sound organization. Based on the recent symposium held in October in Seattle it now has the will, and direction to pursue the complex and costly process of establishing respected legal standing for clinical herbalists. If there was ever a worthy cause and need for extra funds to be made available, it is now.

We are proud of the fact that many East West students are members of the AHG and a few have already completed all the requirements for professional membership. Among these are herbalists Susan Kramer and Aviva Roma. At the recent AHG meeting in Seattle, Aviva was unanimously elected to the five member AHG governing board. East West students should recognize that upon completion of the East West Course, the AHG serves as the accrediting organization. It is important that serious students of clinical herbal medicine maintain their active $35 yearly student membership. This entitles them to many benefits including a highly informative quarterly newsletter, discount on books and the yearly symposium.

Local East West Students Study Groups

Many East West Course students are organizing weekly study groups with fellow students in their area. Another step is to use your study group as the core of a local AHG chapter. The AHG will reimburse $10 of each member's yearly dues to the local chapter for its own organizational business that may include operating costs for monthly meetings, herbal events and even occasional herbal workshops. Those who are interested should contact the Guild office for further details.

The Seattle AHG Symposium

The newly formed Seattle AHG local chapter hosted the yearly AHG symposium in that city. They are to be commended for an outstanding job. Besides offering a fascinating and outstanding array of classes on herbal medicine by some of the countries' leading herbalists, there were special workshops and panels with state medical lobbyists, lawyers and individuals with prior experience in achieving legal recognition for the professions of acupuncture and naturopathy. Joe Pizzorno, president of John Bastyr naturopathic college in Seattle, gave an inspiring keynote speech that exhorted herbalists to come to maturity and recognize the need for educational standards as a prelude to pursuing legal acceptance. His speech met with a standing ovation and will be published in one of the upcoming AHG newsletters.

I was overjoyed to see the AHG overcome some of the past misunderstanding and resistance of its own membership and those outside of the Guild, to seriously explore and resolve to pursue the elevation of the profession of herbalist to a place of dignity and legal standing.

For more information, contact them as follows: American Herbalists Guild 1931 Gaddis Road, Canton, GA 30115, Tel. 770.751.6021
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or its website at http://www.americanherbalistsguild.com.

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