It’s that season of the year again and so time to share some of my favorite herbs and therapies. The following I’ve found extremely useful over the last year. Some are herbs, others formulas, while still more are important therapies. All of these I have found to be healing clinically and helpful for many people. A few are new to my tool kit while others I have shared in some way or another in the past but are still primary in my current use. Most can be made at home or inexpensively purchased. These make great gifts for yourself or others and they’ll truly improve one’s health and life. May they help you and yours through the holiday season and beyond!

Teasel

If you want to give a useful homemade gift, this is the one to make. Teasel (Dipsacus fullonum) treats lower back pain, joint pain, low adrenal function, stiffness in the joints, weak legs, arthritis and rheumatism, all due to coldness (feels better with heat and worse with cold and doesn’t look red). Teasel is also used for pains associated with Lyme disease. It probably works for joint pains associated with other conditions, too, although I have yet to try it.

The Chinese use Dipsacus asperi (xu duan) for these same purposes as well as to stop white vaginal discharge and bleeding, especially uterine, bleeding during pregnancy, to calm a restless fetus and to treat threatened miscarriage. Because teasel moves blood, alleviates pain and promotes growth of flesh, it is used for traumatic injuries, healing of bones (as its name implies) and skin sores when it may be applied externally and taken internally.

If you use the tincture, you only need from 3-10 drops and can experience relief within minutes. Once I gave it to a woman who woke every morning in excruciating back and hip pain. She took 5 drops of teasel tincture and not only did she feel tremendous and quick relief, but her ankle swelling reduced so she could eliminate medication she was taking for that condition.

Therapik

Moxibustion is one of my favorite therapies. A powerful technique of burning herbs, typically mugwort (which creates a far infrared ray penetrating heat), on or above the skin, it alleviates blockages, stimulates Qi, Blood and Fluid circulation and warms cold areas. It is especially effective for sprains, traumas and injuries, although it treats other types of pain, such as arthritis, rheumatism, sciatica, menstrual pain and muscle aches and pains. In addition, it stimulates and supports immunity and eliminates cold and damp, thus promoting normal organ functioning.

I recently learned about a new moxa-type tool called Therapik. It also uses far infrared ray energy but is conveniently battery operated. Sold as a device to treat non-venomous bites and stings, I’ve found it a wonderful smokeless moxa substitute. Not only is there no smoke but also no odor, fuss, or muss, and can be used anywhere, anytime, plus it travels well AND is very inexpensive. What could be better than that?!

Of course Therapik is great for clinical use, yet it’s terrific for home use as it increases client compliance for doing moxa on themselves ten-fold. I used it myself on a bruise after running my hand into a door. Normally I would have immediately applied moxa but I decided to try this instead. After several moments, the pain dispersed and the next day I had no bruising or marks of any kind, which would have occurred if I had not used moxa or this tool. I also have a client who has been using it on a long abdominal scar from surgery four months prior and the scar is disappearing. Therapik has passed the test!

To use, touch the Therapik tool directly on the skin and press the button. Hold in place until it feels too hot, and then remove. It may be used exactly where and how moxa is used.

For more on moxibustion and how to use it, see chapter 11 in my book Healing With the Herbs of Life.

To find Therapik, use Google (Amazon.com carries it of course!).

Noni leather/Noni lotion

The most recent addition to my herbal medicine kit, these products quickly belie the myth that noni smells and tastes too bad to enjoy its enormous benefits. Noni leather (by Real-Noni) tastes great, is convenient to use, easy to take, and has multiple uses. It’s also extremely high in antioxidants.

Made from pure fresh noni in the valley where traditional Hawaiians grew and lived on it, this noni leather is made of 100% pure organic noni. It is processed at very low heat for a long time, which increases its antioxidant content tremendously so it’s 14 times stronger than the juice. In fact, fresh noni is where the fruit’s healthful properties lie and not in the tincture, juice, or fermentation since these latter forms destroy most of its properties. That means you only have a small window to enjoy its fresh sour, astringent and slightly sweet flavor because if it’s exposed to heat or pasteurization, then its properties are lost

You can suck on it, eat, it, roll it into a little ball and swallow it like a pill, or dissolve it in water and drink as a tea. You can take it internally, wet and apply it as a bandage, or dissolve it in water and rub on as a lotion. This product is incredibly versatile.

But why risk trying the flavor of this noni? Because it has amazing healing properties and in fact, could be called a medicine chest in one herb:

  • It is 75% as strong as morphine.
  • Applied topically it quickly disperses wound pain. Also taken internally, it speeds the healing of tendons, ligaments and bones. Athletes who would normally take weeks to recover returned to their sports within 1-10 days after using noni lotion!
  • An anti-inflammatory analgesic, noni lowers blood pressure and cholesterol, supports immunity, enhances skin tone and texture, is a sunblock and alleviates sunburn, increases energy, and treats joint pain, diabetes, open wounds, cardiovascular complaints, pulled or torn muscles and ligaments, muscle pain, tendonitis, cramps, bruising, fractures, bursitis, eczema, psoriasis, dental infections and receding gums, constipation, polyps, IBS, acid reflux, toxicity, parasites, thrush, fungus, acne, scar tissue, and tumors.
  • It is also used for animals to treat worms, mange, hip dysplasia, and many other conditions.
  • Caution: do not take during pregnancy

I know a lot of herbalists may be rolling their eyes by now – is there really something to all the claims made about noni? Or is this just the latest hyped herb that cures everything? All I can say is that my limited experience so far validates certain uses. Michael and I are about to try it clinically and we’ll let you know in a future blog!

In the meanwhile, I’ve already use noni lotion successfully on those annoying chiggers, and recently ‘had’ to give it the acid test of course. While writing this I waded barefoot through a muddy stream and cut my foot on a rock. I found it had gouged a chunk of my skin from the edge of my heel. Red, raw, and sore underneath, I immediately ate some noni leather and then applied it externally as a small bandage (by licking it and sticking it on while holding its edges in place until sealed).

Within a minute, the pain and redness were gone. After 4 hours, the bandage was still in place and I could walk normally. After showering, I found the cut almost healed and no pain ever returned! If I hadn’t used the noni, I would have had pain and walking limitation for at least a day, in not more, even with using my favorite healing salve.

This superfood comes in 1 and 2 oz. sizes. One 2-oz packet lasts one month when you take the 2” X 2” sized piece dose two times daily.

You can purchase Real Noni leather, lotions and salve at: www.real-noni.com.

(Note: I do NOT get a kickback from this! I just think it’s fabulous stuff everyone should know about!)

Schisandra Adrenal

Based on the famous Chinese formula, Liu Wei di Huang Wan, Planetary Formulas’ Schisandra Adrenal nourishes the kidneys and adrenals and yet simultaneously helps filter and retain fluids. It is basically Rehmannia Six Combination (Liu Wei Di Huang Wan) with several astringents added – schisandra, plantain, and rubus – along with the blood and yin tonic, lycii, and the yang tonic, cuscuta.

The result is a formula that binds essence in the kidneys and astringes and holds yin and fluids. The overall effect is to boost kidney and adrenal function, alleviate low back and hip pain, and stop frequent urination, all due to poor kidney function and weak adrenals. Since it is now winter and we are in the kidney/adrenal time of year, it is a perfect formula to take now for these purposes.

Schisandra Adrenal is also fabulous for helping the kidneys to filter and hold their energy better. At the same time it eliminates back pain when nothing else works. This means the kidneys no longer hurt and weakness and pain disappear, no matter where it was felt – the sacrum, hips, and knees. I give this formula to my back pain patients and their pain releases. In a few cases I increase the normal dose, which is usually important to do short-term in acute conditions to get results. As well, women in menopause and men in andropause will find this formula very useful for leaking urine or frequent urination.

Schisandra Adrenal works well for both kidneys, but especially for left-sided pain since that is the Kidney Yin side. If the pain is more right-sided, then Kidney Yang needs to be tonified. This is easily done by adding in a small handful of walnuts daily and/or ¼ - ½ teaspoon of cinnamon powder – or take 1 Planetary Formula cinnamon tablet with the Schisandra Adrenal.

Clove

This underrated spice has a very powerful healing property – it clears the stomach, resolves phlegm and dampness and subdues reflux. As an aromatic damp-drying herb, it is powerful for treating GERD, acid reflux, nausea and indigestion in those with coldness and white phlegm. It is the main ingredient in the Ayurvedic formula, Avipattakar, which is hands-down the best remedy I’ve found for GERD, especially when nothing else works.

Use after eating heavy holiday or other big meals with symptoms of fullness and distention of the abdomen, vomiting, nausea, foul breath, belching, heartburn, acid reflux, and GERD. Take directly, mix with a little honey, or put in capsules.

For a holiday treat, make cookies or biscotti with it, cinnamon, nutmeg and dried ginger to help your holiday meal digestion!

Facial suction cups

Cupping is a fabulous technique that treats disease by suction. It is done by creating a vacuum in small jars and attaching them to the body surface. The vacuum draws the underlying tissues into the cups, pulling inner congestion and heat out of the body. Cupping is done over areas of swelling, pain or congestion, edema, asthma, bronchitis, dull aches and pains, arthritis, abdominal pain, stomach-ache, indigestion, headache, low back or menstrual pain and places where bodily movement is limited and painful. I have also seen cupping relieve depression, anger and moodiness.

While most cupping techniques use either fire or a plunger to produce the vacuum suction so the cups stay on and work their magic, I’ve discovered a new type of cup that has an attached rubber ball on top. All you do is place the cup on its desired location and squeeze the ball. Voila! Instant suction! Easy to use and convenient for travel, they come in many sizes. I especially love the tiny cupping set as these can be used places that normal cups won’t fit or hold, plus they come in shapes other than round.

The set of very small cups is particularly useful for the face and neck. Of the four small cups in the set, the largest one (which is still smaller than the smallest cup in a standard cupping set) works brilliantly over the cheeks and neck. Use by applying the cup and sliding it in a circular motion upward and outward. No lotion or oil is needed, although you may apply some if desired. This technique stimulates blood and energy circulation, which removes dark spots and firms skin. These cups may also be used on the face for headaches, sinus congestion, and more.

For more on cupping and how to use it read chapter 11 in my book, Healing With the Herbs of Life.

You can find facial (and other sizes) cups at: http://www.cuppingtherapy.org

Salt Rub

Salt does many important things – explodes bacteria, kills bugs and softens hardness. I use it on my carpets to kill fleas. It does the same on the skin for unwanted pests, although not the burrowing kind. It is also great for making the skin smooth and soft. Salt not only exfoliates skin, but it “kills” any bacteria by absorbing their fluids so they “blow up.”

After rubbing salt on my skin and rinsing it off, my skin feels silky smooth and lustrous. Adding olive or coconut oil and a drop of your favorite essential oil will turn anyone into a Tahitian God or Goddess within minutes, another reason why it is sometimes called a salt “glow!”

I also use salt alone, mixing it with water, spreading all over the body, letting it sit 15-20 minutes and then rinsing off. You won’t believe how soft and smooth your skin feels afterward.

A salt rub makes a wonderful gift, is very simple to make and quite inexpensive. You can get quite expressive and creative, including the jars and labels you choose. The following is one simple recipe. Keep in mind that the amount of salt used will vary according to the grind and type chosen.

  • ¾ - 1 cup salt
  • 1/8 – ¼ cup oil – try olive oil since it is so good for the skin
  • 1-3 drops essential oil
  • Oil from 2-3 Vitamin E capsules (used for a preservative)

Mix all together and put in jar.

To use, rub or massage salt mixture into desired skin area. Rinse off.

Travel Neti Pot

Neti, also called nasal wash, is a procedure of rinsing the entire nasal track with a salt-water solution to clear sinus congestion and infections, and treats allergies, stuffy nose, difficulty breathing through the nose, and sore throats. Because bacteria linger in the passage between the bridge of the nose and the throat, neti is especially useful to treat recurring sinus and throat infections as the salt water accesses these areas. Nasal wash may be done on a preventative basis once a day, or several times daily for infections.

This travel neti pot works brilliantly for all of these purposes. Normally neti pots are large, heavy, ceramic pots. While beautiful and functional, they are heavy, can spill and don’t travel well. This small neti pot is plastic, compact, and lightweight. It is great for travel as well as home use, and even comes with packets of a perfectly proportioned salt mix. It also has a lid so you can tilt it farther without splashing water everywhere.

You can find this neti pot at drug stores (I’ve seen it at CVS and Walgreens).

Cnidium and Tea Combination /Fresh Ginger

The fabulous formula, Cnidium and Tea Combination, is not known and used as much as it should be. We all know about colds and flu from heat (high fever, mild chills, sweating, thirst, yellow mucus, throws covers off, severe sore throat) but we don’t always distinguish colds and flu due to coldness (symptoms of chills and low fever, lack of sweating, white mucus, no thirst, desire to be covered up, and achiness), which takes a different treatment approach. Great Western herbs for this include fresh ginger and osha. However, none of these herbs is as effective in treating wind as Cnidium and Tea Combination.

The Chinese patent version of this formulas is Chuan Xiong Cha Tiao Wan, or in the Plum Flower brand, Ligusticum Teapills. The formula is composed of mint, ligusticum (chuan xiong), schizonepeta (jing jie), notopterygium (qiang huo), angelica (bai zhi), licorice, siler (ledebouriella), Chinese wild ginger (xi xin) and is taken with green tea.

This formula treats colds and flu from coldness with chills and low fever, lack of sweating, white mucus, no thirst, desire to be covered up, fear of cold, and chills at the back of the neck and top of the shoulders. It also staves off early onset of colds and flu. It warms and treats pain due to coldness, specifically dull headaches that move around and have a tightening or tingling sensation on the scalp.

This last summer while traveling I was exposed to constant external wind cold. It began after sitting in a room with extremely cold air conditioning. After, I contracted a chill that was hard to clear while traveling. Regularly taking this formula (in teapill form) helped me dramatically to both recover from a light cold and to prevent its recurrence. When I ran out of my stash, I switched to fresh ginger. While not as effective nor long-lasting in effects, it was still a fabulous help when I was exposed to unavoidable wind such as on boats, or in the Tube (Underground), air conditioning, and colder climates. I’d bite off a hunk of fresh ginger root, chew it, and quickly disperse the chill.

Note that dried ginger is not the same as the fresh; it has a hot energy and goes to the spleen rather than fresh ginger’s warming, dispersing energy that mainly goes to the lungs. It is best used to revive the digestion in those with coldness.

Numen: The Nature of Plants

A film about the healing power of plants

http://www.numenfilm.com

This is the most beautiful film yet produced on what we herbalists are all about. It runs 75 minutes long and features many of our herbal teachers as spokespersons. I especially appreciate the extended eloquent presentations of Dr. William Mitchell, naturopath of Bastyr College, and one of the finest herbalists of our generation. This film is a real feast for the eye and soul and the only regret I have is that somehow I was not one of the numerous herbalists featured. 

I echo Dr. Tieraona Lowdog MD’s description of the film:

"From the use of plants as medicine to the impact of environmental toxins on human reproduction—Numen is a beautiful and thought-provoking film that explores the deep relationship that exists between nature and human health. Weaving history, ecology, and modern pharmacy with the very essence of what it means to heal, this visually stunning film should be part of all medical, nursing and pharmacy training programs and/or libraries."

You can purchase your own copy of the DVD and purchase the rights to have a showing in your community.



Botanica Poetica – Herbs in Verse

by Sylvia Seroussi Chatroux, M.D.

Published by Poetica Press toll free 1-877-POETICA

http://www.poeticapress.com/poems-botanica.htm

This is a wonderful book that every herbalist should have in their library. Chatroux offers a short poem for 111 herbs, from aloe to yerba santa. Each one describes most of the properties and uses for each herb in a fun and memorable way. I believe that it is important for healers to maintain their aesthetic sensitivity through the arts, be it music, writing, painting, sculpture, or poetry. Inspiration and creativity is always in play when we are working with patients. While we may be inspired when encountering herbs in nature, a lot of that is dulled by hours of research, study and computer work. This book offers the opportunity to combine both learning and artistic inspiration. True "poetry" may be too eloquent a description of what is contained in this book; I think they could be better described as "useful doggerel."

Here’s a sample:

YARROW

If you go out to the Battlefield


As in the days of old


Put Yarrow in your knapsack

It’s worth weight in gold


Yarrow for your bleeding wound


A poultice for your knee


Or for a painless hemorrhage


You’ll want to drink the tea


For diaphoresis it’s the King


The stem, the leaf, the flower


Reduce your fever, sweat full fling


We’re talking Yarrow power!


Achillea Millefolium


An astringent disinfectant


A urinary healer


Hemostatic and protectant

It’s an aromatic bitter


If you lose your appetite


Have spasmodic ailments


Or your tummy is uptight

If it’s good enough for Achilles


Of Greek mythology


To stop his bleeding wounds


Why, it’s good enough for me!

Doesn’t that say nearly all? Think of a Western herb and you quite likely will find it in this little book. At only $18 plus $3 postage it will make a wonderful stocking stuffer for yourself or for that herbalist among your friends and family.

Incidentally, Chinese doctors trained in the old ways were known as "singing doctors" and learned their material medica via songs and poetry. I always liked that idea and here it is created for Western herbalists by Sylvia Seroussi Chatroux, M.D, physician-herbalist, mother of two daughter and with a family medical practice in Ashland, Oregon. Chatroux also has written books in a similar vein: Medica Poetica: Malady in Verse and Materia Poetica: Homeopathy in Verse. I like them all very much.



Grace of Necessity

by Samuel Green

Carnegie Mellon University Press

Toll Free: 1-800-421-1561


I first heard of poet Sam Green when Lesley and I visited the composer Alex Shapiro on San Juan Island. Another truly great composer and resident of both Waldron and San Juan islands off the coast of Washington State, Morten Lauridsen is the composer of one of the greatest choral works of our time, the sublime Lux Aeterna (Eternal Light). At a public screening of a film about Lauridsen and his music, he gave a talk describing his love of poetry and mentioned Washington state poet laureate Sam Green who happens to be his friend and neighbor. I became curious about Sam’s poetry and upon reading it, some of it clicked very profoundly as a poem should, when you find the words echoing deep in your heart.

My favorite book of Green’s is his most recent one, entitled The Grace of Necessity published by Carnegie Mellon University Press. Inevitably, most of us arrive at that time in one’s life when we become more acutely aware of death, first of parents’, our own, and others’. I think it is within our imagination to sometimes be able to make of death something of beauty. The first group of poems in this beautiful collection is entitled "In the Dark’" and I think more times than not, it does capture the poignant beauty of the final passing. The second group is Sam’s wonderful "Postcard Poems" which is a challenge he made to compose a poem each day, with no editing, on a postcard which he then sent to a friend. Here is Sam Green reading some of his postcard poems:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bAI8tf6S1_0

Here is one of my favorite poems in the book:

 

Miserere: That We Might Keep Her Present Among Us

For Taryn Hoover

 

Now, when the apples she might have picked against winter

are falling, let us recall her, let us pick them & eat.

 

Let us recall her as the leaves start their turning,

as seed pods of maples spin & drift in the fickle wind.

 

As long vowels of rain spill from the sky’s dark sack,

let us bring her back – not as a burden,

 

no knapsack of grief that will bend us –

But a velvet presence come from the spun cocoon of pain.

 

Let us recall her because we can, it is easy, the memory

collective, each story shared like bread, elemental as salt.

 

Let the stories gather as tiny birds

add themselves one & one to the flock,

 

their small throats gathering the One

Great Song that is more than themselves alone.

 

Now in the shortening days when light unbraids

too early, let us astonish each other

 

with love, as though, through us, we channel her desire.

Let us summon her here that she be present

 

among us, because the true burden is absence

because joy, O my neighbors,

 

can be grafted to loss and bring fruit everbearing.

 

                                                            so that

 

though there is grieving,

there is never true separation, never a leaving.

 

You can also buy Grace of Necessity on Amazon.


 

Spotify

https://www.spotify.com/us/

My son turned me onto this app, and many of you undoubtedly must use it already. Spotify makes the music of the world available to everyone either for free or with a modest monthly subscription.


Music

If you feel a bit melancholy and want to resonate with a piece of music, get a copy of the translation of Goethe’s poem Aber Abseits Wer Ist’s? and follow it as you listen to the comforting angelic voice of the late but unforgettable Kathleen Ferrier as she sings Brahms’ Alto Rhapsody: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P7S162WFNI8

You might also enjoy Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde also sung by Kathleen Ferrier: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yUgEd2oTs80


Premio-10 Electro-Moxa

I’m a great advocate of moxibustion in my clinic. While acupuncture with needles basically moves existing Qi in the body, moxa  which uses heat from the burning fluff of the mugwort plant not only moves Qi but puts energy into the meridians. Because it doesn’t puncture the body, it is a technique that herbalists can learn to administer to their clients directly, usually providing more immediate and sustaining results than can be expected from herbs alone. The two modalities together are highly complementary and will greatly enhance one’s practice.

Premio-10 is an electro-moxa tool that generates the same far infrared heat as moxa herb without any of the negative aspects associated with its use. 

At $1200, Premio-10 is a wonderful business expense that will greatly enhance your clinical practice.

It is available from LHASA Oriental Medical Supplies at http://www.lhasaoms.com/Premio-10-Moxa.html

You may need to find a licensed acupuncturist to purchase it for you.

I decided it was high time again to introduce you to a few of my favorite things (I can’t believe it’s been five years since the last time I did this!). As I tend to focus on healing and not just herbs, you’ll find all sorts of items here, however tune in on Dec. 15 for my latest four favorite herbs. Enjoy!

 

Drinks by Zenergy Naturals

Someone really got the right idea going when they created these drinks. Made of both Western and Chinese herbs, these products are tasty substitutes for coffee and caffeine in general. The best way to purchase them is via email at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. This is a small company, so give them time to respond! You can set up automatic monthly delivery as well. For more information go to: http://www.zenergynaturals.com/Home.html

Original Zen

My favorite, Original Zen, is not only good for you, but delicious as well. It is comprised of U.S. grown cordyceps plus astragalus, eleuthero, dandelion root, chicory root, barley extract, and rye extract. It increases immunity, energy, stamina, memory, focus, and athletic performance. You can make it into all sorts of drinks just by adding protein powder, milk or cream, vanilla, or other flavorings.

Zenopause

Zenopause is the same idea as Original Zen but made specifically for menopausal symptoms. It contains lycii (goji) berries, rehmannia, white peony, dioscorea, ophiopogon, cordyceps, eleuthero, astragalus, dandelion root, and barley extract. It not only enhances immunity, but prevents hot flashes and night sweats, and supports memory, vision, and libido.

 

Earth From Space DVD

This is an enthralling two-hour long DVD that gives you an overview of the entire planet. You’ll learn amazing facts about the interconnection of various continents and climates and how they work together to sustain life on earth. For instance, I was stunned to learn our oxygen source didn’t come from the forests in the Amazon, but start with the desert dust from Africa that fertilize the Amazon basin and in turn lead to plankton blooms in the ocean. Learn the roles of lightning and the underwater "waterfall" off Antarctica in sustaining our planet. A NOVA special on PBS, you can purchase several places on the web, including shoppbs.org.

 

Swimmer's Eardrops

I’ve been a swimmer my whole life and learned first hand the pain of ear infections. I learned about these natural eardrops from a colleague and have used them ever since. Mix equal parts rubbing alcohol with white vinegar. Use after swimming by inserting 5 drops into each ear, allowing the liquid to settle in the ear for 30-60 seconds.

 

Glass Tea Tumbler

This is the perfect make-tea-and-go tumbler. Made of double-layered thick glass, it keeps tea warm for a long time without burning your hands. Because it’s glass you can see inside to make your desired strength – or leave all day. AND there’s a strainer at the top so you can drink without getting herb bits in your mouth. The only drawback is that it is ultimately breakable, but I prefer to drink from glass rather than plastic. You can find different models of this on Amazon.com, for all under $20.

 

Herb Grinder

Finding a strong and adequate grinder to process herbs can be challenging. This one is the most powerful herb grinder I’ve used. It quickly minces most all herbs, even the hard ones, although it’s best to break those up first with a Chinese "bonger" or a hammer. Well, the grinder info is in Chinese so google industrial strength herb grinders – but be careful because many of them are for the "weed" type of herb!!! This one looks just like ours: http://www.alibaba.com/product-gs/1286184312/HR_16B_800g_110V_220V_Multi.html

 

 

 

 

CHOSEIKYU MOXA

The Japanese always seem to improve other people’s devices. This is true with moxa. Choseikyu moxa is a little moxa "candle" (as I call it) that easily sticks onto the body and thoroughly warms the desired area or point. It is easy to use, hands-free, not as messy as other methods, and yet creates the intended heat without burning (caution on people with sensitive skin!). Moxa "candles" do cause the normal smoke and smell and build up ashes, but the latter are conveniently contained on their sticky base. If this moxa feels too hot, you can lightly run your fingers along the skin on either side of the "candle" to disperse this sensation. Choseikyu moxa can be purchased online at Chinese medical suppliers.

 

 

 

Books

Atlas of Chinese Tongue Diagnosis by Barbara Kirschbaum (Eastland Press, Seattle, 1998)

Atlas of Chinese Tongue Diagnosis Volume 2 by Barbara Kirschbaum (Eastland Press, Seattle, 2002)

I have long loved tongue diagnosis for its effective and detailed reflection of the body’s health. These books include detailed teaching, photos and case examples. I am always learning more here! I give them my highest recommendation for learning tongue diagnosis, beginning to advanced!

 

 

 

A Kid's Herb Book by Lesley Tierra (RD Reed, 2000)

What can I say? This is still a favorite book of mine and apparently of many others around the world, for it is now also published in Japan and Estonia! This book grew out of a vision I had in the early '90s when our son was young to introduce the next generation to herbs and keep the herbal fervor alive. It is also great for adults as a simple and fun introduction to using herbs. It highlights 17 herbs and includes tons of recipes, preparations, stories and songs. There is also information on planning a tea party, kitchen medicine, a first aid kit, and plant ecology along with much more.

 

 

Metaphor-phosis: Transform Your Stories from Pain to Power by Lesley Tierra (Balboa Press, 2013)

This is my latest book and addresses the power we have to heal ourselves. I’ve learned from over 30 years of clinical experience that most people’s health problems stem from deeper emotional, mental or spiritual sources. Metaphor-phosis helps you to dig deep into the root cause of your health conditions and heal them through the multiple tools and techniques included. This, with my Healing with the Herbs of Life, comprise a complete healing system.

With the holidays and the season for gift-giving upon us, I thought I'd put together an Oprah-style list of "My Favorite (Herbal) Things" for all you generous hearts out there. Here goes:

ESSENTIALS FOR YOUR HERBAL BOOKSHELF

Michael Moore's Medicinal Plants of the Mountain West M. Moore's Medicinal Plants of the Desert and Canyon West M. Moore's Medicinal Plants of the Pacific West
 

All of Michael Moore's classic Trinity Herb Books:

Medicinal Plants of the Mountain West - 2nd edition (2003), $24.95 from Museum of New Mexico Press

Medicinal Plants of the Desert and Canyon West (1989), $11.53 from Amazon

Medicinal Plants of the Pacific West (1993), $22.50 from Museum of New Mexico Press

These are arguably the greatest herb books written in the 20th century. In his inimitable witty style, Moore wrote these from first-hand experience seeking out, gathering, making preparations and administering herbs from throughout the North American Continent. Michael Moore (not the filmmaker -- but they do resemble each other somewhat) is one of America's greatest living herbalists. Even if you are not an herbalist, you may find reading these a thoroughly enjoyable experience. Highly recommended!

 

For Children

A Kid's Herb Book by Lesley Tierra

A Kid's Herb Book by Lesley Tierra

Find it on sale now at the link above!

This beautiful book is for the most part exclusively available from our website. It was written for our son when he was a small child and who is now 25. It is an herbal for kids. It is beautifully illustrated with herbal stories, herbal projects and even herbal song ditties I wrote to sing along with kids. The many projects include making an herbal tea, oil, salve. It is magnificently illustrated and sure to be a Christmas delight for both children as well as the giver. Especially suitable for kids from ages 4 to 10.

 

A DELICIOUS HERBAL ALTERNATIVE TO COFFEE?

For your own and another's overworked adrenal glands (what better time to address this than around the often stressful holidays?):

CaffeaCAFFEA: an ideal healthful alternative to caffeinated beverages

Let's face it: we in the west are addicted to coffee. But while most of us rely on it for that instant "pick-me-up," consider that it is a beverage that works by depleting energy reserves instead of building them. As you feel yourself becoming persuaded by the coffee lobby who is flooding the media with the health benefits of coffee based on its high amount of antioxidants, you should also be aware that coffee works by increasing stress in the body. Now do we need more stress in our lives? Stress in itself causes the increased secretion of stress hormones which in turn deplete our adrenal reserves and contributes to a wide number of disease imbalances.

Caffea is an instant full-bodied roasted beverage that can be taken daily and is made from roasted dandelion root, semen casia tora, roasted beet and roasted barley. It may sound strange, but besides being delicious to drink it gently detoxifies the liver and kidneys, benefits the stomach and pancreas, and helps in regulating blood sugar.

Most people know of the benefits of dandelion root. It is high in essential minerals and vitamins, especially potassium, and has been used for treating the liver and reducing inflammation and promoting the elimination of excess fluid in the body.

The Chinese herb seed cassia tora was the inspiration for this formula. I once was invited to the home of some older Chinese friends and noticed the man of the house roasting some seeds in a frying pan. He said it was the herb, zue ming zi or casia tora seeds, and that after roasting these would be ground to a powder and brewed as a tasty roasted beverage that also lowers blood lipids, reduces weight, improves eyesight, aids detoxification and prevents heart attacks.

Caffea can be drunk as an alternative to coffee or simply because it tastes so darn good! It's available at the link above, $18.00 for 8.6 oz (makes over 100 cups).

 

HERBAL EDUCATION

East West Herb CourseThe East West School of Planetary Herbology Herb Course

If herbalism is your passion and you want a really big gift that will continue to give healing for you and others throughout your life, you might consider enrolling yourself or a special person in the East West Herb Course.

Read what our graduates have to say about it here.

 

 

 

THEN THERE'S THAT VERY SPECIAL GIFT TO HONOR THAT VERY SPECIAL SOMEONE:

Floral BathFragrant Flower Bath

To one gallon of freshly boiled water, add a handful of each of the following dried herbs: lemon balm herb, rose petals, calendula flowers, lavender flowers. Steep covered for 15 minutes while drawing a bath in a specially decorated bathroom space with incense, colored fabric (to tastefully disguise such aesthetically disrupting areas as the toilet, sink or the messy medicine cabinet), a bouquet of flowers (yes men like flowers also), and beeswax candles. Pour the prepared flower water along with several drops of essential oils of rose and lavender into the bath. At the last minute you may add fresh flowers and flower petals (organically grown, please!) to float on the surface of the water. Be sure that the temperature of the water is warm and pleasant before leading your honored recipient into the room.

By candlelight, help your guest out of their clothes and guide them into the tub. Gently ladle the water using your hands or a specially chosen beautiful bowl over their head and back. (Really, try not to employ your everyday kitchenware in this experience, lest you risk the romantic spell being broken.) Allow your loved one to peacefully soak in the wonderful, perfumed water, lingering over the experience as long as they like.

Have a special extra-soft bamboo fiber towel ready for when they arise from the bath. You may also consider a special bathrobe as well. The towel and bathrobe are their take away gift. Every time they wear the robe or use the towel, they will think loving thoughts of you and this wonderful and loving moment you have created just for them.

Afterward, present them with a Go Ji Berry and Ginseng Liqueur which you made yourself using the following recipe:

  • 1 lb. (450 g) Go Ji berries (Lycium Chinensis)
  • 1 full sized root of sliced Chinese Red Ginseng (this can be approximated)
  • 3 cups (710 ml) 80-proof of your favorite vodka (I love Stolichnaya vodka)
  • 1 1/4 cup (300 ml) granulated natural mineral rich, sucanat sugar

Rinse the berries and roughly chop them into small pieces. Place the berries and ginseng slices in a glass container and pour the vodka over them. Close tightly and store in a cool, dark place. Stir or shake this mixture once a week for two to four weeks. Strain through a metal colander into another glass bottle or container with a tight cap. To this, add the sugar. Let this liqueur age for at least three months.

(It's too late to complete this recipe as described for this coming Christmas, but you can perform all the steps and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Then carefully pour perhaps a third of this liqueur into a small, decorative bottle, and add more sugar as necessary for sipping now. You can enjoy the rest of the properly aged product in time for Spring Fever romance!)

Sip this exotic spirit with your special recipient in liqueur glasses as part of your romantic experience. You may enjoy this liqueur any time as an aperitif and blood and energy tonic. It can also be poured over ice cream.

An evening like this is nothing without music. Here are some suggestions:

What you do afterwards is yours to orchestrate, but one suggestion is to apply the following "love oil" to each other's sensitive areas. Go gentle with this at first to determine if it will be a pleasant sensation. Be sure to liberally apply it on each other's sacrum. Take time and allow the pleasure to slowly engulf and fill your entire being.

Love Oil

2 ounces each of

  • apricot kernel oil
  • wheat germ oil

5 to 10 drops each of the following pure essential oils:

  • cinnamon
  • rose
  • chamomile
  • sandalwood
  • musk
  • neroli
  • ylang ylang
  • black pepper
  • ginger
  • vetiver
  • clary sage

Have fun experimenting adding these to the base oil. Begin with 3 to 5 drops and increase each according to your own preference (but stay on the low end with the cinnamon, black pepper and ginger). You may purchase the essential oils mentioned above from Mountain Rose Herbs. Alternatively you might try Kama Sutra's massage oils.

Happy holiday gift-giving!

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