240 episodes

Practical herbalism from practicing herbalists. Conversations, botanical deep-dives, Q&A with clinical herbalists Katja Swift & Ryn Midura of CommonWealth Holistic Herbalism.

The Holistic Herbalism Podcast CommonWealth Holistic Herbalism

    • Health & Fitness
    • 4.8 • 402 Ratings

Practical herbalism from practicing herbalists. Conversations, botanical deep-dives, Q&A with clinical herbalists Katja Swift & Ryn Midura of CommonWealth Holistic Herbalism.

    Starting A Clinical Herbalism Business

    Starting A Clinical Herbalism Business

    We continue this week with Katja’s series: Starting Your Herbal Business! Today the focus is on the practice of clinical herbalism.
    Building and running a practice as a clinical herbalist isn’t only about your interview skills, your ability to formulate a personalized remedy, or your capacity to build a holistic health plan in collaboration with your clients. Support work, research, and administrative tasks will take a fair amount of your attention – not to mention continuing education!
    Clinical work involves a lot of teaching. You teach your clients how to prepare their remedies, you teach them how the herbs work, you teach them how to build healthier habits. So, our advice for cinical herbalists in training is: practice teaching!
    To do all this, you need to understand the herbs on their own terms, but also in the context of modern life. That means common pharmaceuticals and potential herb-drug interactions need to be part of your education, too. It also means that you’ll need to be all brushed up on the legal status of herbalists, and the ways you navigate that. Here in the US, that means understanding our scope of practice as unlicensed practitioners, and your first priority is to avoid “the practice of medicine” according to your state’s laws.
    Don’t let uncertainty keep you unsettled! You can build a practice and feel confident in your skills, and help a lot of people. Getting over the administrative hurdles will allow you to focus on the parts that drew you to this career in the first place: the people and the plants.


    Ready to start building your practice? The Herbal Business Program has all the nitty-gritty details about setting up your herbal business – whether that’s products, clinical herbalism, or another variety of herbal pursuit. From GMPs and labeling laws, to marketing, to taxes & insurance, to the technology you’ll need to make it all happen, this course has everything. You can do this!
    Like all our offerings, this is a self-paced online video course, which comes with free access to twice-weekly live Q&A sessions, lifetime access to current & future course material, twice-weekly live Q&A sessions with us, open discussion threads integrated in each lesson, an active student community, study guides, quizzes & capstone assignments, and more!


    If you enjoyed the episode, it helps us a lot if you subscribe, rate, & review our podcast wherever you listen. This helps others find us more easily. Thank you!
    Our theme music is “Wings” by Nicolai Heidlas.
    Support the show
    You can find all of our online herbalism courses at online.commonwealthherbs.com!

    • 1 hr 3 min
    Acknowledging Complexity Is Not Gatekeeping

    Acknowledging Complexity Is Not Gatekeeping

    When you’re an herbalist, it’s normal to get questions from people about herbs. Usually they’re thinking that it’s a simple question, and expecting a simple response: “What’s good for IBS?” “Chamomile.” But the truth is a lot more complex than that! When you learn about herbalism, you come to understand that there are no herbs “for” any disease state. Instead, there are herbs who can exert influences on the body, and those may match well (or poorly) with the specific state of an individual person. So you become less enthusiastic about simply giving someone the name of an herb when they ask “what’ll work for…?”
    This dynamic is even more pronounced on social media. Whether in an herbalism discussion group or in direct messages from your followers, an herbalist on social media will see lots of these types of questions – and lots of those one-word responses, too! But people don’t take the names of herbs – they take herbs! Which means they prepare tea (using this much plant matter for that much water), or they take tincture (made at this or that herb:menstruum ratio), or they get a supplement (made by this or that brand)… And so even if you give someone the name of a plant, have you really helped them figure out how to take it? How much to take? How often, for how long? All those details can make or break the success of an intervention.


    When you get that kind of question, you want to give a helpful answer – and that can mean an answer that’s quite different from what the asker expects. Instead of simply listing names of herbs, try giving an insight into your own herbal thought process! For example, if they’re asking about “herbs for headaches”, you can briefly describe various patterns that can cause headache – heat, dryness, tension, stagnation, etc – and help them identify what kind of headache they have.
    From there, you can suggest herbs to experiment with – and that’s an important phrase, “to experiment with”! Helping people understand that working with herbs involves multiple rounds of self-experimentation is a great service you can provide.
    It takes a little more time to construct a response like this, but it’s significantly more helpful to the asker. They might expect you to simply know the right herb for them, and if you just say “it depends and it’s complicated”, that can feel like you’re gatekeeping. But if you share your own decision-making process, you both teach them how to think like an herbalist (even just a little bit), and you help them understand you’re not holding out on them!


    Looking to improve your skills as an herbalist and clinician? Our Clinical Skills for Herbalists course has practical guidance for setting you up from scratch, or building on your existing foundation.


    If you enjoyed the episode, it helps us a lot if you subscribe, rate, & review our podcast wherever you listen. This helps others find us more easily. Thank you!
    Our theme music is “Wings” by Nicolai Heidlas.
    Support the showYou can find all of our online herbalism courses at online.commonwealthherbs.com!

    • 51 min
    Starting An Herb Shop

    Starting An Herb Shop

    We continue this week with Katja’s series: Starting Your Herbal Business! Today the focus is on an herb shop or herbal apothecary, with or without a tea bar for tastings and treats.
    Running an herb shop involves a fair amount of administrative work: ordering, stocking, inventory, payment processing, taxes, etc. Sharpen up your spreadsheets, folks! That’s not all there is to it, of course – there’s a huge aspect of community-building involved. Talking to people, planning events, and serving as a hub for your herbal community are also part of the gig.
    In fact, if we can give only one piece of advice, it’s this: think of your herb shop as a community center, first and foremost. The stronger you can make that community connection, the stronger your business will be. Listen to the episode for more insights and tips as you build your business!


    Would you like to know more? We’ve got just the thing! The Herbal Business Program has all the nitty-gritty details about setting up your herbal business – whether that’s products, clinical herbalism, or another variety of herbal pursuit. From GMPs and labeling laws, to marketing, to taxes & insurance, to the technology you’ll need to make it all happen, this course has everything. You can do this!
    Like all our offerings, this is a self-paced online video course, which comes with free access to twice-weekly live Q&A sessions, lifetime access to current & future course material, twice-weekly live Q&A sessions with us, open discussion threads integrated in each lesson, an active student community, study guides, quizzes & capstone assignments, and more!


    If you enjoyed the episode, it helps us a lot if you subscribe, rate, & review our podcast wherever you listen. This helps others find us more easily. Thank you!
    Our theme music is “Wings” by Nicolai Heidlas.
    Support the show
    You can find all of our online herbalism courses at online.commonwealthherbs.com!

    • 37 min
    Starting An Herbal Products Business

    Starting An Herbal Products Business

    This week Katja brings you the first in a new series we’ve been wanting to produce for you: Starting Your Herbal Business! Today the focus is on herbal products – tinctures, salves, elixirs, tea blends, all that good stuff!
    Listen in for a simple explanation of what you’ll need to know if you want to build an herbal products business of your own. It’s not just about knowing your herbs – although of course that comes first! It’s also about medicine-making at scale, creating effective & regulation-compliant labeling, marketing effectively and sincerely, and finding what makes your remedies uniquely yours. That’s what people want!


    Would you like to know more? We’ve got just the thing! The Herbal Business Program has all the nitty-gritty details about setting up your herbal business – whether that’s products, clinical herbalism, or another variety of herbal pursuit. From GMPs and labeling laws, to marketing, to taxes & insurance, to the technology you’ll need to make it all happen, this course has everything. You can do this!
    Like all our offerings, this is a self-paced online video course, which comes with free access to twice-weekly live Q&A sessions, lifetime access to current & future course material, twice-weekly live Q&A sessions with us, open discussion threads integrated in each lesson, an active student community, study guides, quizzes & capstone assignments, and more!


    If you enjoyed the episode, it helps us a lot if you subscribe, rate, & review our podcast wherever you listen. This helps others find us more easily. Thank you!
    Our theme music is “Wings” by Nicolai Heidlas.
    Support the show
    You can find all of our online herbalism courses at online.commonwealthherbs.com!

    • 34 min
    Herbs A-Z: Zingiber 🫚

    Herbs A-Z: Zingiber 🫚

    Today we reach the end of our apothecary shelves! This series started way back with episode 170 on Achillea & Acorus, and today in episode 227 we’ve finally come to Zingiber.
    Today’s entire episode is all about ginger. (Yes, it deserves its own entire episode. If you don’t already believe it, we will convince you!)
    We discuss Katja’s evolving preference for fresh vs dried ginger in our tea blends at home, and some of the variations in activity between fresh vs dried ginger. We talk about quick topical applications of this wildly accessible herb, to relieve muscle aches, joint pains, and other musculoskeletal discomforts. Ryn takes time for an ode to candied ginger – yes, it’s sugar, but there are plenty of reasons why it’s excellent to have! You can easily make your own, too.
    Maybe you could put some chopped candied ginger into some ginger-chamomile cookies, eh?
    You can even grow your own ginger, if you’re up for it!
    Finally, we mention some relatives of ginger, members of the Zingiberaceae: turmeric (Curcuma longa), galangal (Alpinia galanga), cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum), grains of paradise (Aframomum melegueta), korarima (Aframomum corrorima), “shampoo ginger lily / bitter ginger” (Zingiber zerumbet). These are all worth experimenting with and comparing to ginger – they have a lot in common, with some individual nuances. Watch out for “wild gingers” of the Asarum genus, though – those have risks of liver toxicity.


    Ginger’s an herb we love so much, we probably mention it in every course we teach… but especially in the Digestive Health course! Learning to care for digestion is a critical skill for herbalists, and a place herbs can do so much good.
    Like all our offerings, this is a self-paced online video course, which comes with free access to twice-weekly live Q&A sessions, lifetime access to current & future course material, twice-weekly live Q&A sessions with us, open discussion threads integrated in each lesson, an active student community, study guides, quizzes & capstone assignments, and more!


    If you enjoyed the episode, it helps us a lot if you subscribe, rate, & review our podcast wherever you listen. This helps others find us more easily. Thank you!
    Our theme music is “Wings” by Nicolai Heidlas.
    Support the show
    You can find all of our online herbalism courses at online.commonwealthherbs.com!

    • 41 min
    Herbs A-Z: Withania & Zanthoxylum

    Herbs A-Z: Withania & Zanthoxylum

    We’ve reached our penultimate Herbs A-Z episode this week, and we’re highlighting ashwagandha & prickly ash – it’s prickly ashwagandha!
    Withania somnifera, ashwagandha, is an herb Katja takes every single day. Usually, she gets it in the form of “notCoffee”, a formula of various roots and herbs blended to offer sustained energy and endocrine suppport. Ashwagandha is popular as an adaptogen or a “stress herb”, but its real power is in helping entrain healty cycles of activity and rest. Balance is not about stillness, but dynamic equilibrium, and ashwagandha’s one of our favorites to build that capacity.
    Zanthoxylum americanum, prickly ash, tells you all about its diffusive activity with the message of its tingly taste. This makes it not only an excellent herb for toothache relief, but also a truly fantastic circulatory stimulant. Stagnant blood and lymph are dispersed, and healing can proceed effectively, when we recruit prickly ash for this purpose.
    These two herbs make recurrent apperances in both our Neurological & Emotional Health course and our Immune Health course. Improving innner communications, establishing consistent cycles, and enhancing fluid movement are just a few of the actions herbs can bring to these critical systems to support their work.


    Like all our offerings, these are self-paced online video courses, which come with free access to twice-weekly live Q&A sessions, lifetime access to current & future course material, twice-weekly live Q&A sessions with us, open discussion threads integrated in each lesson, an active student community, study guides, quizzes & capstone assignments, and more!


    If you enjoyed the episode, it helps us a lot if you subscribe, rate, & review our podcast wherever you listen. This helps others find us more easily. Thank you!
    Our theme music is “Wings” by Nicolai Heidlas.
    Support the show
    You can find all of our online herbalism courses at online.commonwealthherbs.com!

    • 52 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
402 Ratings

402 Ratings

Super mom 74 ,

Totally Awesome! Wealth of Knowledge

I recently came across this podcast as an aspiring beginner herbalist and I absolutely fell in love! I have gone back and started listening to every episode from the beginning. I love the excitement in their voices when they talk about herbs.

Kleigh523 ,

Love this podcast!

I have listened to quite a few different herbal podcasts, wanting to expand my knowledge on herbs. And I am SO happy that I came across this podcast. Each episode is full of information, but not in an overwhelming way. They are relatable and enjoyable to listen to.

Maureenveterinarian ,

Love this podcast!

I love the energy and clarity of the hosts. This gives a fantastic overview of herbs in a digestible format. Thank you!!

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