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Cloud Medicine

I heard Matthew Wood mention cloud medicine in a class.

“Cloud medicine acts on pituitary gland. Imagine that it can go through keyholes. People can embody cloud medicine; think sparkly people that seem to be walking an inch off the ground. They are so open you can’t resist them, they reflect contagious good energy.”

The herbs themselves may have a puffy or cloud-like quality. Pulsatilla, Queen Anne’s lace and vitex (chaste tree) are good examples. sky.jpgAs many of you know, it is important to treat hormonal complaints for three complete menstrual cycles. If it is an issue stemming from the pituitary gland no two cycles will be alike. If it is a result of the gonads being out of balance, then the cycles will be more alike but odd.

Pulsatilla(Anemona pulsatilla) blooms early spring. Member of the buttercup or Ranunculaceae family. Use the cool, bitter root. It has alterative, antispasmodic, nervine, and diaphoretic properties. From Matthew Wood’s Book of Herbal Healing, “like black cohosh, it is used for premenstrual moodiness, scanty menses, cramps, problems dating to the onset of menstruation, irregular menses in young girls, fluid retention, and menstrual spasm. There are also differences: Black Cohosh has a dark, brooding mentality, whereas Pulsatilla has a happy/sad, changeable, yielding disposition.”

Michel Tierra adds the it “is used for various inflammatory conditions, but especially if accompanied by nervousness, despondency, sadness, unnatural fear, weepiness and depression.” He also adds these interesting notes about pulsatilla: it works best for fair and blue-eyed women, and it “strengthens sexual sensitivity while lessening the tendency towards morbid preoccupation”. I have seen it balance up-and-down PMS, as an emmenagogue when menstruation was suppressed due to stress. This beautiful plant has a delicate bloom and foliage; it is almost like a captured silvery cloud. Check out these informative entries about pulastilla http://www.henriettesherbal.com/eclectic/ellingwood/pulsatilla.html., and http://bearmedicineherbals.com/?p=234.

Queen Anne’s lace (Daucus carota)is in the Apiacea or parsley family. In Duluth, you can find it growing along the old railroad tracks by the zoo. When I first saw this plant, I thought it was hauntingly beautiful, with its too-perfect white cushion of flowers with a receding yet centeral splotch of dark red or black. If you’ve never seen it, seach for an image, because it is quite unique. Yes, Queen Anne’s Lace is beautiful here, but it is sure lush in New England, and everywhere!

You don’t have to bend the imagination to see that the light, fluffy white flowers resemble clouds. It’s sweet, pungent, spicy flavors are not unlike other members of this family due to their volatile oils. I have used the essential oil of Wild Carrot (another common name for this plant, only Americans call it Queen Anne’s lace) applied directly to acne and the face to prevent breakouts. When I used this oil, I was amazed at how efficiently layers of skin were sloughed off. It has a similar action to the uterus.

Root, flowers, ripe seed, and immature green seed pod used. It has diuretic, carminitive, emmenagogue, and astringent properties. Like other diuretics it is used for fluid retention and UT problems. Wood also says that it may be useful to diabetics, that it can improve liver problems, and is toning the digestive tract. Wild carrot infusion drunk hot may stimulate the thyroid (in addition to making one sweat!), and in further treatment of the thyroid combines well with black walnut and chickweed.

Michel Tierra says “QAL seed helps to slough off the uterine membrane and regulate the menstrual cycle”. Since it reduces flow and checks uterine lining growth, it is probably good for endometriosis. Many women have attested to the use of QAL as an effective prophalactic, which deserves its own post someday. Women must be aware that after using wild carrot as a contraceptive, fertility may be increased by improving the quality of the uterine lining. I like to drink it while doing vaginal steams; the combination is like Oven Off for the uterus (forgive the reference). This is an herb to be avoided during pregnancy, although it really doesn’t irritate the uterus unless it is prepared as a really strong tea, almost urine-like.

Chaste tree berryor vitex (Vitex angus-castus) is in the verbena family. In addition to the soft flower plumes, vitex represents cloud medicine to me because it certainly travels through glandular “keyholes” in the body. Randine Lewis says “Vitex acts on the hypothalamus, which then signals the pituitary to increase the production of LH while it mildly inhibits FSH release. This results in an indirect increase in progesterone over estrogen.”

Used often for PMS and for regulating the menstrual cycle, it is especially useful when one has come off birth control, weaned their children or had reproductive surgery. As herbalist once told me, “Chaste tree likes the sunshine” and advised me to take it in the morning and then get some light on my skin. I wish I knew more about this, but I can certainly say the combination certainly helps regulate many a cycle.


Wood, Matthew. The Book of Herbal Wisdom.

Tierra, Michel. Planetary Herbalogy.

“Medicines from the Earth Conference” notes, 2005.

Filed under: Herbalism


Tea-drinking, nature-loving acupuncturist, East Asian Medicine practitioner, herbalism and birth doula living in the Pacific Northwest.

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