194 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 • 335 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: Glycyrrhiza & Gynostemma

    Herbs A-Z: Glycyrrhiza & Gynostemma

    Today our apothecary shelves present us with a pair of adaptogens! As we continue our series looking at the herbs we keep on hand at home, this week we encounter two particularly excellent herbs for stressed-out folks with dry constitutions.
    Licorice’s botanical Latin name tells us straight out that the herb is sweet: Glycyrrhiza glabra means “smooth sweet root”. This sweetness comes together with the plant’s moistening qualities; it’s one of our sweet demulcents, like fennel. Licorice makes a great topical remedy for dry irritated skin. It has a particular affinity for the adrenal glands & cortisol metabolism, and can often help with chronic fatigue. We prefer to take it in formula rather than on its own, and this is also a good idea for safety considerations. (The herb, if taken alone and in large doses, can raise blood pressure.)
    Gynostemma pentaphyllum is known also as jiaogulan; it’s one of a number of plants sometimes called “poor man’s ginseng”. It has a number of actions and constituents in common with the ginsengs. In its own right, it’s a great adaptogen for recovery – both physical and emotional – and for climbing out of depleted states. Our preferred source is Majestic Herbs, who source their organic plant material from a project in Thailand working to reduce opium production by helping farmers transition to growing jiaogulan instead.


    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

    • 55 min
    Herbs A-Z: Filipendula & Foeniculum

    Herbs A-Z: Filipendula & Foeniculum

    We’re back on track! Today we continue our exploration of herbs in our home apothecary, giving you some unscripted thoughts about these herbs we work with very frequently. They’re the plants we want to have with us always, and it’s been fun to see the synchronicities that emerge as we progress in alphabetical-by-Latin order. Today’s plants make an interesting contrast.
    Filipendula ulmaria, meadowsweet, is cooling/drying/tonifying. Its salicylates & other astringent elements make it excellent as an anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial when the tissues are spongy and red. We’ve found it very helpful for dental issues, including the irritations caused by braces. It is excellent for gastrointestinal inflammation also, famously helpful for ulcers & heartburn. It is not, though, “antacid” – as is sometimes claimed!
    Foeniculum vulgare, fennel, on the other hand, is a warming/moistening/relaxant herb. It’s one of our “sweet demulcents”, like licorice, which can moisten tissues without the “slimy” feel of mucilaginous demulcents such as marshmallow. Fennel is important as a corrigent – which doesn’t only mean “improves flavor”, but implies an ability to balance out formulae. In this case, it’s great for folks who run dry and tense and need that balanced out if they’re going to take herbs like sage or dandelion. Fennel’s also intriguing because, while cholagogue, it’s not bitter.


    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

    • 36 min
    What You Should Know About Choosing An Online Herb School

    What You Should Know About Choosing An Online Herb School

    All herb schools are different, in their focus and their style. When you’re choosing an online herb school, whether for a short course or a long program, here are some key questions to consider:
    How can you ask questions to the teachers & admins?Is there a free course you can take first?What’s the teaching method (text, audio, recorded video, live sessions, etc), & does it match your learning style?How are the teachers accessible – what kind of contact do you get with them?Do you get to keep the materials when the course ends?How many ‘hours’ is the course, and how are those hours counted?Is there a student community you can participate in, and how does it work?Will you be “certified” on completion? (Beware: this is a trick question!)How will this fit in to your learning spiral: is this brand new material, or a new view on something you’ve learned before? (Learning herbalism is not a single linear path.)These answers will be different for every school, and there’s no one “right” answer! It all depends on how you prefer to learn and engage with your teachers. Knowing to ask these questions in advance will help you make better-informed comparisons between different offerings, and find the ones that work best for you.


    As you may know, we teach herbalism online! We hope that if you’re choosing an online herb school, you’ll consider ours. When you sign up for any of our courses – including our FREE Herbal Study Tips and Four Keys to Holistic Herbalism courses – you get access to twice-a-week live Q&A sessions, integrated discussion threads on every lesson, and a vibrant student community. Our courses are centered on video lessons you can watch at your own pace, and once you’ve bought a course you retain access to it (and any future updates!), forever.


    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/)

    • 1 hr 8 min
    Herbalism In A Time Of Collapse

    Herbalism In A Time Of Collapse

    Collapse is not a single event that occurs everywhere, once and for all. It occurs in fits and starts, unevenly distributed across communities. When there are floods and fires, when there are supply chain disruptions, when there is war and strife – these are expressions of collapse. Recognizing them is not in any way saying we shouldn’t bother to try and stop them, or reduce their severity! But it is a necessary acknowledgement of reality.
    Making plans for collapse in all its manifestations is a solid way to mitigate their effects on you and your family or community. It’s also good for your mental & emotional health in the meantime!
    These plans must include community. No one can go it alone for very long, even in the best of circumstances. When there’s disaster, we need each other even more. Stockpiling supplies is not a long-term solution. Building skills, and developing a community of people who are enthusiastic about learning these skills, is the best way forward. (Check out makerspaces, skillshares, & mutual aid collectives to find like-minded folks.) And that’s where herbalism comes in!
    Start today: build yourself a list of herbs which grow in your ecosystem and can play important roles in a situation where medical care isn’t available. Getting to know your local antiseptic herbs, nutritives, herbs for emotional support, digestives, and respiratory support herbs is a great foundation to begin with – that’s what we’re focusing on in this episode.
    We have online video herbalism courses that can help you develop these skills, too!


    Our Herbal First Aid course teaches you all the fundamentals of working with herbs for acute care. Wounds, burns, sprains, bites & stings, and emotional first aid eeds can all be addressed with herbs!


    The Emergent Responder program is a complete guide to holistic disaster response & preparedness. Learn how herbal first aid, long-term care strategies, and emergency clinic management unfold in austere environments. Get the skills you need to be confident and ready to care for yourself, your family, and your community – even if help never comes.


    Our Herbal Community Care Toolkit is chock full of low-cost, abundantly accessible herbs for addressing common health issues. Students in this program learn our most inexpensive strategies for improving health and well-being. This course is available by donation, but if you can’t afford it, email us and we’ll send you a coupon code so you can get it for free!
    Once enrolled in any of our courses, your access never expires – and you get any updated material we add in the future, free of cost!
    Other resources we mentioned in this episode:
    Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out?, by Bill McKibbenThe Devil Never Sleeps: Learning to Live in an Age of Disasters, by Juliette KayyemFEMA Training & Education and CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) ProgramIf 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/)

    • 1 hr 31 min
    Herbs A-Z: Erigeron & Eupatorium

    Herbs A-Z: Erigeron & Eupatorium

    We’re continuing on as we highlight the herbs in our home apothecary. Today we reach the end of our first shelf!
    Erigeron canadensis, E. strigosus, & E. annuus are the species of fleabane we have worked with. We like the Canada fleabane best, but they’re all helpful herbs. All the fleabanes are very easy to grow – put some in your “feral garden” areas! In terms of taste, qualities, and actions, fleabane is very similar to goldenrod and yarrow – warming & drying & tonifying, with aromatic fluid movement, along with diuretic & vulnerary activity.
    Eupatorium perfoliatum, boneset, has recently been confirmed to contain pyrrolizidine alkaloids. Fortunately, the ones in boneset are the least dangerous! Also, we only work with boneset for short courses: 2-4 weeks max, then equal or greater time away from the herb. We also only take small doses (e.g. 1/2 dropperful of tincture) for the effects we want. Boneset is an excellent herb for viral infections and post-viral lingering symptoms. We’ve worked with it a lot during COVID and had great feedback on its efficacy from our clients & students.


    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/)

    • 49 min
    Herbs A-Z: Elettaria & Eleutherococcus

    Herbs A-Z: Elettaria & Eleutherococcus

    This week we’re talking about cardamom & eleuthero!
    About Elettaria cardamomum, cardamom, we actually do have “one weird trick” for you today! Here it is: get yourself a cardamom-crushing stone. It is so much easier than using a spoon to crush the pods and release the pungent aromatic seeds. Cardamom is great to “ground” a very aromatic formula, and of course it’s also excellent in foods of many kinds.
    Eleutherococcus senticosus, properly called eleuthero although sometimes referred to as “Siberian ginseng”. It got that name for very capitalist reasons, you know. And indeed it’s possible to use eleuthero in a rather capitalist manner, as a stimulant to improve work output. But we prefer to work with it for marathon-style stressors as a resilience-building herb.


    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/)

    • 36 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
335 Ratings

335 Ratings

SudniRevir ,

My calling

This podcast is just what I needed to find my connection to nature through herbs. Katja and Ryn share herbalism in an accessible, engaging, and uplifting way. Thank you!

Naida Aegea ,

Review

I listen all day everyday! Thank goodness there are five years for me to catch up on. :) Thanks for providing so much accessible and relevant content. Can’t wait to take some of your classes - especially the children’s herbalism course. If you ever find yourselves in the Santa Monica mountains in Southern California hit us up and we’ll go on a plant walk!

beeskneesthreads ,

Easy listening

This podcast is jam packed with knowledge. They’re so passionate about herbalism and it shows. I’m listening to these in between taking their classes online and I just can’t get enough!

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