The last 4 weeks have been a whirl-wind. But I made out out on the other side! Yes, I officially graduated. My last board exam was the herbal one. I spent a week doing practice tests, reading through my notes and fondling my samples. My herb samples came from the free table at school. Some samples were missing, some had pre-made notes and some had lost their, um, freshness, but I didn’t care. They did the trick. It is much easier to memorize things when the thing you have to memorize is in your hands, or at least it is for me. I would’ve preferred to taste each one individually, see it growing, learn the botany, chemistry and ethnobotanic history in an attempt to really learn it. How much can you know about a plant by just reading about it? A lot, true, but so much can be gleaned experientially.
I am almost done with school; 3 weeks until graduation. My heart is bursting with joy. As the end nears, I find myself needing some reflection, processing, integrating and closure at my experience, so please forgive this semi-gushy personal post.
When I worked at a co-op in the health and body care section, I noticed that every year around November, bottles and bottles of elderberry products would fly off the shelves. Elderberry has earned a reputation as a cold and flu herb, especially for the dreaded influenza, and rightfully so. It packs a powerful punch of anthocyanadins, helps the immune system do this. Studies have shown that it is effective at reducing the length of the flu by half. Yet like most herbs, elderberry has depth and can be used in many situations.
I wish I could spend more time on this blog. I dream about all the things I want to explore and share and ask about herbs and health. Most everyday I am jotting down inspirations and taking photos of the the herbal apothecary that trail my shadow. Luckily a major shift in my schedule and life is approaching; I will graduate grad school on August 30th. That’s less than two months away! I cannot wait to 1) rejuvenate and 2) pursue my herbal interests 4) connect with family and friends and 3) go to Italy in September and Wisconsin in October. So in the mean time, I want want to share some of the other places I am seen frequenting. During the month of April, I took an Etsy vacation. I closed my shop down and focused on exploring herbs in a different, more personal way. In April I also started second blog about plants, flowers, and the Portland area. You can check it out here: Fall Into Place Blog. It was supposed to be …
Each year my garden sprouts more and more chamomile. It comes earlier each year, too. This year it was all done by the end of June. This leaves a shorter harvest time, and unfortunately I can’t tend my garden in Gresham as much I have been able to in the past. This means a few long harvesting days rather than a constant, steady harvest in better bite-sized chunks (which I prefer).Â This also means that a lot of my chamomile went to seed before I could get to it.
What is it about poppies? I don’t get them, but as if I’m entitled to understanding. They are so tender, fragile, delicate, finicky. Their petals are like tissue paper and their fuzzy buds look like they could barely be supported by their thread-like stem. One little bump and the plant falls over. But yet they contain some incredibly powerful medicine, and not just the opium poppy but many plants in the family (Corydalis, California Poppy for two).
I have had the recent pleasure to read two new (to me) herb books. The Wild Medicine Solution by Guido MaseÂ´ describes herbal aromatics, bitters and tonics and their uses in food and medicine while sharing an elegant, supportive herbal philosophy.
There is a clinical shift in my education program called Herbal Internship. Herbal Internship is solely dedicated to, you guessed it, herbal consultations. There are 4 one hour slots to treat 4 patients with herbs. Do an intake, take pulse and look at tongue, determine diagnosis and treatment principles, discuss a formula, send the formula off to be filled. Seems pretty basic, no? Despite the fact that I have elected to do extra Herbal Internship shifts and know the drill, it is a far cry from basic. First of all, people are complicated. There are often 3-5 major complaints. Rarely does someone have just one single thing as their chief complaint. Secondly, conflicting signs are commonplace. Heat and Yang Xu (deficiency). Dampness in the Middle Jiao (digestion), which is an excess condition, and Blood Xu (deficiency). Thirdly, we make it up as we go along. This is not a bad thing at all; it is simply challenging and pushes me to the limits and forces me to expand my way of thinking. There is …
After a photo shoot for my Etsy shop, I am left with all these beautiful botanical bits – flowers, leaves, and petals galore. They are too lovely to compost, but not cut out for a bouquet in a vase because the stems are trimmed. I threw them all in a wooden box as I was tidying up and left them there. It was like a horizontal, flat arrangement. They sat on my printer next to my computer, so I could smell it when I was working. When else do I get to have flowers on my printer? A week later, it was dried and browned, but the roses still smelled yummy. The flowers had shrunk, but the beauty was still evident. Delicate, old-fashioned, reminiscent.
It’s the last hurrah for the Cherry Blossoms. It is also the last hurrah for April. Why not capture them both? I found one Cherry still in bloom on Ankeny St., but by the time I brought the bunch of blossoms home they had fallen to pieces. I just had to share these, so lovely!
It is getting warmer. And brighter. Things are green, really green. Rose and calendula are in bloom! They come home with me, flowers stuffed in pockets and lunch boxes, and those which are not dried or arranged in a vase go straight into a cup of tea.
Gan Mai Da Zao Wan is a Chinese formula from the Jing Gui (The Golden Cabinet), a medicine text written by Zheng Zhong-Jing in 220 AD. Â It is in the Calm Spirit category and its strategy is to tonify Heart Yin and Blood deficiency as it calms the spirit.