186 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 • 323 Ratings

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

    Herbs A-Z: Citrus & Cinnamomum

    Herbs A-Z: Citrus & Cinnamomum

    This week’s herbs are orange peel & cinnamon. Each one has multiple varieties: sweet orange, bitter orange, cassia cinnamon, “true” cinnamon, etc.
    Citrus x aurantium and C. x sinensis are the bitter and sweet orange, respectively. Not just an excellent flavoring agent (although that counts for a lot!), citrus peel makes a nice gentle digestive bitter and is a classic in cocktail bitter blends. It’s great in mulled cider or wine, but also a nice cooling drink in the summertime. If you’ve only had citrus as juice – or, on the other end of the spectrum, orange oil as a cleaning product – we recommend drying your own organic citrus peels and working with them in tea!
    Cinnamomum cassia is sometimes just called cassia, or cassia cinnamon. C. verum is the “true” cinnamon, a bit sweeter and less astringent by comparison. Cinnamon is a great relaxant to the viscera and the lungs, one of our favorites in a wintertime blend for spasmodic coughs. It’s got an interesting relationship with water and can act as an astringent or demulcent depending on how you prepare it. Cinnamon is also helpful for improving blood sugar regulation, and achieves this in the best possible way for long-term support.


    These quick plant profiles were done off-the-cuff & on-the-spot. If you enjoyed them, we have more! Our organized & comprehensive presentation of our herbal allies is in the Holistic Herbalism Materia Medica course. We have detailed profiles of 90 medicinal herbs! Plus you get everything that comes with enrollment in our courses: twice-weekly live Q&A sessions, lifetime access to current & future course material, discussion threads integrated in each lesson, guides & quizzes, and more.


    If you have a moment, it would help us a lot if you could 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 (https://commonwealthherbs.com/supporters/)

    • 53 min
    Herbs A-Z: Centella asiatica & Cichorium intybus

    Herbs A-Z: Centella asiatica & Cichorium intybus

    Happy new year! We’re continuing our Herbs A-Z series in 2022, starting off strong with gotu kola & chicory. These widespread herbs both have long histories & active presents of medicinal application.
    Centella asiatica, known best as gotu kola, is today mostly thought of as a neuroprotective or even “nootropic” herb. It does indeed protect the nerves and brain, and help with cognitive health. It even has some similarities to ginseng and jiaogulan in terms of stress, immunity, and inflammation modulation. But it’s also a good topical antimicrobial and wound-healer, with some similarities to marshmallow in that regard.
    Cichorium intybus is chicory – and also radicchio, endive, and frisee! They’re all variants or cultivars of the same plant species. Chicory root is often roasted and taken as a coffee substitute, and that’s perfectly valid. It’s not caffeinated, but it does have the roast-y and bitter flavors of coffee. Plus, it’s got food for your friendly gut flora (as long as you make a water preparation and don’t filter too aggressively).


    These quick plant profiles were done off-the-cuff & on-the-spot. If you enjoyed them, we have more! Our organized & comprehensive presentation of our herbal allies is in the Holistic Herbalism Materia Medica course. We have detailed profiles of 90 medicinal herbs! Plus you get everything that comes with enrollment in our courses: twice-weekly live Q&A sessions, lifetime access to current & future course material, discussion threads integrated in each lesson, guides & quizzes, and more.


    If you have a moment, it would help us a lot if you could 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 (https://commonwealthherbs.com/supporters/)

    • 45 min
    Herbs A-Z: Calluna vulgaris & Centaurium erythraea

    Herbs A-Z: Calluna vulgaris & Centaurium erythraea

    This week we highlight two herbs who are close to our hearts. Heather is a plant we both met together and have come to appreciate each in our own way. Centaury was “Ryn’s first herb” in many ways and made a huge impact on his digestive health when he was originally learning herbalism from Katja. Both are friends we turn to frequently!
    Calluna vulgaris is heather, a lovely little pink flower from the highlands and moors. Its light, floral aromatic profile is subtle but delightful. It’s an excellent fluid mover, helping disperse stagnations and improve internal flow. Heather supports kidney function and the elimination of wastes, while elevating mood and lightening mental state.
    Centaurium erythraea is another lovely little pink flower, actually! This one is bitter, with a capital BITTER. But don’t let that scare you off! It’s an incredible ally for those with weak stomachs. Centaury strengthens the stomach and digestion more generally, helping us get all the nutrition our food has to offer.


    These quick plant profiles were done off-the-cuff & on-the-spot. If you enjoyed them, we have more! Our organized & comprehensive presentation of our herbal allies is in the Holistic Herbalism Materia Medica course. We have detailed profiles of 90 medicinal herbs! Plus you get everything that comes with enrollment in our courses: twice-weekly live Q&A sessions, lifetime access to current & future course material, discussion threads integrated in each lesson, guides & quizzes, and more.


    If you have a moment, it would help us a lot if you could 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 (https://commonwealthherbs.com/supporters/)

    • 35 min
    Herbs A-Z: Betula & Calendula

    Herbs A-Z: Betula & Calendula

    This week’s herbs are fluid-movers, with drying and tonifying effects. They’re both excellent topical remedies which can also be helpful when taken internally. We prefer water or alcohol extracts of them in most cases, but birch makes a decent infused oil and calendula is excellent in oil.
    Betula spp. are birch trees – all the different kinds are similar. Their bark is famous for its salicylate content – mostly in the form of methylsalyicylate, which gives the bark its ‘wintergreen’ scent and exerts substantial anti-inflammatory effects. Birch and wintergreen are our favorites for topical remedies because they have this active, volatile form of salicylate. Birch is also rich in betulin, a constituent with its own anti-inflammatory actions along with antimicrobial and cancer-fighting actions. (Betulin is also found in chaga, because the fungus absorbs it from the birch trees it grows on.)
    Calendula officinalis is one of the brightest, sunniest flowers around. Its capacity to move lymphatic fluids is fantastic medicine for fluid bloating in the belly, congested lymph nodes, and to help with “clean-up” work after an illness. It’s a great antifungal herb which does not irritate the underlying tissue. And it’s a hepatoprotective – an herb which protects the liver and helps it function optimally – as well!


    These quick plant profiles were done off-the-cuff & on-the-spot. If you enjoyed them, we have more! Our organized & comprehensive presentation of our herbal allies is in the Holistic Herbalism Materia Medica course. We have detailed profiles of 90 medicinal herbs! Plus you get everything that comes with enrollment in our courses: twice-weekly live Q&A sessions, lifetime access to current & future course material, discussion threads integrated in each lesson, guides & quizzes, and more.


    If you have a moment, it would help us a lot if you could 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.
    This episode was sponsored by Mountain Rose Herbs. We thank them for their support!
    Support the show (https://commonwealthherbs.com/supporters/)

    • 1 hr
    Herbs A-Z: Asparagus & Astragalus

    Herbs A-Z: Asparagus & Astragalus

    This week’s herbs from our apothecary shelf are shatavari and astragalus! These are a couple of slow-acting herbs for long-term work. Their restorative properties take some time for full effect, but they’re worth building the habit. We prefer to prepare both of these as decoctions.
    Asparagus racemosus, called shatavari, is an Ayurvedic herb with cooling, moistening, and relaxant qualities. It’s an adaptogenic herb which can improve the stress response – especially for people with dry constitutions. Shatavari is famous as an herb for the dry tendencies of aging humans, but it’s really good for anyone prone to dryness, or for whom depletion has led to fatigue.
    Astragalus membranaceus is a Chinese herb which is mildly warming, moistening, and tonifying. It is an immune restorative herb, most appropriate when recovering from illness. It can also help build up immune reserves when one may go into a place where they’re likely to be exposed to sick people. Astragalus maintains our immune defenses, but it’s not an immune stimulant and it’s not an herb we take when we’re acutely ill.
    The formula we mentioned drinkin today includes: shatavari, astragalus, cacao nibs, hawthorn berries, ginger, cinnamon, & cardamom.


    These quick plant profiles were done off-the-cuff & on-the-spot. If you enjoyed them, we have more! Our organized & comprehensive presentation of our herbal allies is in the Holistic Herbalism Materia Medica course. We have detailed profiles of 90 medicinal herbs! Plus you get everything that comes with enrollment in our courses: twice-weekly live Q&A sessions, lifetime access to current & future course material, discussion threads integrated in each lesson, guides & quizzes, and more.


    If you have a moment, it would help us a lot if you could 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.
    This episode was sponsored by Mountain Rose Herbs. We thank them for their support!
    Support the show (https://commonwealthherbs.com/supporters/)

    • 46 min
    Herbs A-Z: Asclepias & Aspalathus

    Herbs A-Z: Asclepias & Aspalathus

    This week we have two more herbs from our shelf – rooibos & pleurisy root! We’re working our way along the shelves and giving every plant a bit of attention, to explore the variety of helpful herbs that exist. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut, so we’re giving everyone an equal shot.
    Asclepias tuberosa is known as pleurisy root, and also butterfly weed. It’s best-known as an herb for directing moisture and relaxation to the lungs, which can correct dry and tense conditions there. (“Pleurisy” is a drying-out of the pleura or ‘sac’ that contains the lungs.) But this herb moves water in the body more systemically than just the lungs! It’s helpful for lower-body edema as well.
    Rooibos, Aspalathus linearis, is a South African herb which has been popularized around the world as an alternative to black or green tea. It’s powerfully antioxidant, and has traditional medicinal applications for digestive tension. Recent science has shown it beneficial for high blood pressure, uncontrolled blood sugar, and even as a chemoprotective agent. All that, and it’s just plain delicious!


    Mentioned in this episode:
    Asclepias tuberosa profile at GoBotany.Holistic Herbalism Podcast, episode 18: Pleurisy in Daughter-CaregiversAspalathus linearis profile at PlantZAfrica.Mahomoodally MF. Traditional medicines in Africa: an appraisal of ten potent african medicinal plants. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013;2013:617459. doi: 10.1155/2013/617459. Epub 2013 Dec 3. PMID: 24367388; PMCID: PMC3866779.Joubert E, de Beer D. Rooibos (Aspalathus linearis) beyond the farm gate: From herbal tea to potential phytopharmaceutical. South African Journal of Botany. 2011;77(4):869-886. doi: 10.1016/j.sajb.2011.07.004.Cyclopia genistoides (honeybush) profile at PlantZAfrica.These quick plant profiles were done off-the-cuff & on-the-spot. If you enjoyed them, we have more! Our organized & comprehensive presentation of our herbal allies is in the Holistic Herbalism Materia Medica course. We have detailed profiles of 90 medicinal herbs! Plus you get everything that comes with enrollment in our courses: twice-weekly live Q&A sessions, lifetime access to current & future course material, discussion threads integrated in each lesson, guides & quizzes, and more.


    If you have a moment, it would help us a lot if you could 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.
    This episode was sponsored by Mountain Rose Herbs. We thank them for their support!
    Support the show (https://commonwealthherbs.com/supporters/)

    • 51 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
323 Ratings

323 Ratings

beebalmnonbinary ,

Absolute Favorite Feel-Better Podcast!!!

Katja and Ryn are practically magical. 1. Their scientific and experiential knowledge is vast and they are intersectionally inclusive (no white hippie appropriation here folks, whew!!) 2. Their calm but passionate nature coupled with an immensely warm generosity of spirit draws you in, no matter your previous experience. I honestly can say that with each episode, I feel more empowered to live a healthy life - whatever that means for me. And, to advocate for myself as I navigate the healthcare system. I love how cozy and safe it feels to join these two as we learn. I will be sharing many of these episodes with family and fellow sensitive beings! Quick notes: Sometimes there is a squeaky sound in the background, but sound quality improves over the episodes. It is more important to create content that brings some light into this kaleidoscopic and stressful period than it is to have a fancy recording studio. Would also love to hear conversations with guests on future episodes. Thank you and please keep it up!!!

Leo_E-C ,

Connecting with my whole self

This podcast has led me toward a more holistic view of my health, herbs, and a deeper relationship with nature. The hosts, Katja and Ryn, do an amazing job of staying tethered to reality and science while helping us understand that there is inherent subjectivity to health — how we feel. I am learning that herbs support body and mind in a pursuit of physical and mental health.

mountainlaurelherbs ,

Budding herbalist finding inspiration

I absolutely adore this podcast and the two of you. I’m a potter and spend hours alone working on my art, only accompanied by podcasts, music and audiobooks and an occasional cat. I binged this podcast once I discovered it, learning so much about herbalism, activism and all through a very heartwarming, activating and entertaining medium. The hosts Ryn and Katia are an adorable couple that also know their stuff at a deep level. I love hearing about their relationships with plants and how I can integrate them into my own personal practice as well as support my friends and family. This is a must go to podcast for herbal learning! Love, love, love!

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