Sunday, October 23, 2011

Upcoming Herbal and Mycology workshops

Two exciting opportunities for learning more about natural health:

Medicinal Mushrooms of Western Canada
with Robert Rogers @ Pacific Rim College

October 29-30, 2011, 9am-5pm
Includes a day of classroom learning about edible and medicinal mushrooms and a day in the woods to identify mushrooms!

This photo is from the workshop held last spring. Robert is an expert and shared so much about mushrooms, lichen, and herbs over the weekend! 

Reading the Body: Traditional Western Herbal Diagnosis
with Margi Flint @ Pacific Rim College in Victoria

The workshop includes facial and tissue signs, pulse, tongue, urine, stool and nail diagnosis. Margi is an experienced herbalist with a practice in Massachusetts. To learn more about her visit her website: 

For more info about these workshops visit:

Friday, September 23, 2011

UK herbalist visits Victoria

Peter Conway, a herbalist from the UK, is coming to Victoria this weekend. He is teaching a workshop, held at Pacific Rim College, on the Hidden Dimensions of Healing in Natural Medicine.

For more about Peter:

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Wildflower photos & info from British Columbia

Photos of useful & beautiful wildflowers taken near 
Monashee Provincial Park in British Columbia:

 Arnica cordifolia (Heart leaved Arnica)
This plant has many relatives that are each used similarly to the European relative, Arnica montana. Arnica is used externally only as internal use is dangerous and toxic. External preparations are used to treat inflammation and muscle pain. 

Claytonia lanceolata (Western Spring Beauty)
This has been used as a food source - the leaves are rich in vitamins and the corms are rich in carbohydrates, thus the plant, has been called "Indian potato".

Pulsatilla occidentalis (Western Pasque flower)
This is called by many names including: Prarie Crocus, Wind flower, or Western Anenome. Like many other members of the Buttercup family this plant is poisonous when fresh. It is related to   Pulsatilla vulgaris (Common Pasque flower), which is used in herbal and homeopathic medicine. 
The photo above shows it in flower (right) and seeding (left). 

Photos taken by Lindsay Hounslow (Yoga teacher, Wilderness guide, and Herbalist) near Sol Mountain Lodge, host to Yoga retreats as well as back country hiking and skiing.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Green Tea is medicine!

Green tea (Camellia sinensis) is one of the most widely studied plants for medicinal use. Phytotherapy students at PRC recently reviewed available research on peer reviewed medical databases (such at PubMed and others). We discussed our findings and have summarized them here. Please contact us or comment if you are interested in viewing the references for related studies.
NOTE: This review includes human and in vitro studies of Camellia sinensis and in some cases studeies are limited to small sample extracted constituents. It is not intended to conclude curative actions for the disorders listed. We are providing information for research interest only, and will provide further info on resources if requested.

Potential Actions: 
antioxidant, chemoprotective, anti-carcinogenic, anti-mutagenic, anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-rheumatic, chrondoprotective, UV protective, radioprotective, anti-inflammatory, osteoprotective, hypoglycemic.

Medicinal uses supported by preliminary studies:
  • reduce cancer risk and progression (including ovarian, prostate  lung, gastrointestinal, breast, skin, leukemia, bladder.
  •  protect from UV radiation (internal and external use), and from radiation therapy side effects.
  • prevention of cardiovascular disease,  including coronary artery disease, and prevention of hypertension.
  • improve vascular function and reduce low-density-lipoprotein oxidation.
  • decreasing cartilage destruction in Rheumatoid Arthrtis, Osteoarthritis, periodontal disease.
  • decrease risk of osteoporosis and related fractures by regulating bone metabolism, particularly when associated with exercise.
Metabolic / Diabetes:
  • increasing satiety.
  • obesity and over eating.
  • decreases / management of blood sugar.
  • decrease sebum production to treat acne.
  • eye damage and ocular inflammation.
  • decrease risk of death from pneumonia.
  • hemochromatosis.
  • modulation of immune response in autoimmunity.
  • prevent or slow cognitive dysfunction/degradation.
  • chelating heavy metals.

    -may be inappropriate for patients with insomnia who are sensitive to caffeine; caution should be for patients with heart conditions due to risk of tachycardia; limit of 1-2 cups per cay during pregnancy and lactation.

    -over consumption may cause problems due to caffeine content, sensitive people may experience nervousness, sleep disorders, vomiting, headache, epigastric pain, tachycardia; aluminium content may cause accumulation especially problematic for patients with renal disorders; disruption of iron bioavailablity is a concern for anaemic patients; diuretic effect should be monitor and dosage limited accordingly.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Spring Wildharvesting: Rose family

Hawthorn (Crataegus species) offer us a wonderful heart tonic to heal and prevent complications of circulatory system disorders such as hypertension and heart attacks. Hawthorn is a member of the Rose family and both the North American native and European introduced species can be used.  
Hawthorn flowers can be collected along with some leaves in the spring. Collect flowers when the anthers are still pink and harvest at the stem rather than picking individual flowers. Can be prepared as a tincture or tea. Berries are also useful and can be collected in the autumn.

Wild Rose species (such as Rosa nutkana) will also soon be ready to harvest. Petals should be selected when in full colour. They contain volatile oils so they should be dried at a low temperature (max 25 degrees C) and dried without light to maintain colour. They can be used for teas or made into a syrup. Rose is astringent for the digestive system and is traditionally used as a cordial to cheer the heart.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Medicinal Mushrooms

Last weekend Robert Rogers offered a Medicinal Mushroom workshop at Pacific Rim College in Victoria. We were amazed by his knowledge of mushrooms (some edible, medicinal and some toxic) and herbs too! After an in-class review of some fungi we headed out to identify some local species. 
Here are a few we saw.......

Fomitopsis pinicola (Red Belted Conk) -medicinal

Trametes versicolor (Turkey tail)-edible

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Spring e zine: Cleansing and gardening!

           Spring is just around the corner and the days are already getting warmer. Soon it will be time for the bears wake up and cleanse themselves with very purging plants, such as Skunk Cabbage (too strong for this purpose in humans!) It's also time for us to come out of hibernation and rid our body of the heaviness of the bulky foods that nourished us throughout the winter. Try eating lighter meals and cutting out refined foods, such as sugar, white breads and pastas. 
           Start your cleansing process with gentle lymphatic herbs, like Cleavers (Galium aparine) and Red Clover (Trifolium pratense) before using liver cleansers such as Burdock (Arctium lappa) and Dandelion (Taraxacum off.). Cleansing herbs can be too cold and clearing for some people so use caution. Everybody has a different physique, energy level, constitutional strength, etc, so consult a herbalist for custom dietary advice and to find out which cleansing herbs are right for you.

With spring comes plans for gardening!! Include some herbs in your garden this year to add beauty, colour, and medicinal value to your garden!

Calendula officinalis (Marigold) is a somewhat hardy annual that likes rich, well-drained soil. Calendula grow well even if left unattended. Water during dry periods, once or twice per week. Pick dead blooms to encourage new blooms. Calendula is a useful medicinal for skin and intestinal health and it offers a lovely orange flower!

Inula helenium (Elecampane) is commonly used for unproductive coughs, bronchitis, and asthma. The plant prefers moderately fertile, moist soil and full sun to light shade. Roots are collected after the second growing season. Elecampane grows over a metre tall and has bright yellow flowers.

Lavendula officinalis (Lavender) is an evergreen shrub that requires dry to moist soil, direct sun, and is drought tolerant. Well known as a culinary and cosmetic herb, it is also used medicinally to alleviate stress, headaches, and encourage natural sleep. Its purple flowers add to the beauty of the garden and its aroma puts the gardener and companions at ease!

Book suggestion:  Barbara Grigg's Green Pharmacy - about the history of herbal medicine. Not to be confused with The Green Pharmacy - another great home herbal book by James Duke. 

A great online booklet explaining gluten allergy, gluten sensitivity, and related food reactions.

Contributors to this ezine: Lauren Truscott, Rory Knapp Fisher, Candice May, Lindsay Hounslow, and Laura Mroz – students at Pacific Rim College studying Phytotherapy.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Attention Gardeners! Plant sale.......

WHEN: Tuesday 05 April 2011 7:30 pm to 9:00 pm
WHERE: GARTH HOMER CENTRE 813 Darwin Ave. (South of Saanich Municipal Hall)
Choose from an intriguing variety of hardy shrubs & perennials, exotic alpine plants, rare native ferns, fresh vegetable & herb plants, seeds, used garden tools & pots...and so much more! All from local specialty nurseries & home growers.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Medicinal Herb Gardening Workshop! Featured plant: Echinacea

We are partnering with Lifecycles ( ) to offer a Workshop on Cultivating Medicinal Plants! Please attend on Mon Apr 4th 7-9pm at Pacific Rim College for info on more plants and how to plan your medicine garden!

Purple Cone Flower   Echinacea purpurea or angustifolia
Care for this perennial is relatively easy. Likes well drained, rich, loamy soils, in sunny areas but will tolerate dappled shade. Deep soils are preferred to promote a root crop, which is harvested at the end of the third summer. Aerial parts can also be harvested during full bloom, from July through to the end of September. Grows to 4 feet tall and offers a beautiful sunflower shaped, purple flower.

An effective immune stimulant that is commonly used in many households for colds and stress resistance. While it requires more time to grow and prepare, the benefit of effectiveness and financial savings makes it a worthwhile addition to the home herbal garden. Many people spend hard eared money on Echinacea tinctures, which could be home made with basic knowledge. The benefit of using home grown medicine may also enhance self-empowerment and thus the effectiveness of this powerful medicine.   

To attend the workshop: Please RSVP to: and (250) 383-5800.   

Monday, March 14, 2011

Chocolate - your choice has cultural and economic implications!

Many people love chocolate and it has a long history of influencing human environment, health, love and colonization. Have you considered how your choice in buying certain types of chocolate affects the people who grow the plant??

Theobroma cacao is the source of chocolate.

A video about the child slavery involved with Chocolate production:

A video about a fair trade Chocolate farmer's association in Belize:

Cocoa pods

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Aloe Vera for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Aloe vera (Aloe barbedensis) in the form of gel or juice derived from the inner gelatinous portion of the leaf (not including the outer leaf portions that contain anthraquinones, an organic compound that has laxative effects (2)) is commonly indicated in many reputable sources online and in herbal texts for contributing to the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) (see references). IBS or “spastic colon” is a disorder involving the small intestine and large bowel associated with variable degrees of abdominal pain and discomfort, and constipation or diarrhea, largely as a reaction to stress in a susceptible individual and/or from poor diet, but in the absence of any detectable organic cause (3).

While aloe vera may not be the sole treatment for IBS, it can aid in reducing associated symptoms. The inner portion of aloe vera is very high in many nutrients that the body needs to maintain homeostasis, or to keep all the systems of the body, such as the digestive system, in good, balanced, working order. Some of these nutrients are polysaccharides, a main source of energy for the body (4); amino acids, building blocks of the body that make up proteins and are necessary for growth, repair, and maintenance of cells (5); minerals, including calcium, magnesium, manganese, sodium, and zinc; enzymes, proteins that speed up the rate of reactions in the body and are vital to such functions as digestion (6); and vitamins (7). Restoring the health of the intestines plays a major role in the treatment of IBS, since many of the symptoms are possibly related to the structural and functional integrity of this organ (3). The cells of the intestine are among the fastest growing cells in the body and need to be continually replenished (3). The main fuel they need is an amino acid called I-glutamine, something that is difficult to get through a regular diet (8). Aloe vera contains this substance thereby enhancing the ability for cell regeneration. One function of the polysaccharides in aloe on the body is their ability to repair the tiny “holes” in the gut associated with “leaky gut syndrome”, where unwanted substances and toxins are absorbed through the gut walls and into the blood stream, effecting not only the immune system, but being a contributing factor to many diseases including digestive problems (8). Aloe vera has anti-inflammatory properties that calm intestinal spasms that cause much of the abdominal pain and other related symptoms, possibly including constipation and diarrhea (8). The anti-inflammatory quality may largely be attributed to its high zinc and manganese content (7). Aloe vera works gently in the intestinal tract to help break down food residues that have become impacted and to help clean out the bowel (8). When the bowel is cleaned out it reduces bloating, discomfort, and helps ease stress (8). Removing stress is an important step in the treatment of IBS because it appears that it is a major contributing factor to the development of many IBS symptoms (3). Aloe vera is cooling, moisturizing, and soothing and is therefore beneficial in the treatment of the uncomfortable and painful symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (9). It is also beneficial in increasing immune support, fluid and nutrient absorption, inflammatory support, as well as benefiting the digestive system as whole (10).

The recommended dose is 2 to 8 ounces per day of the juice or gel of the “inner fillet” (10); be sure to check the label before purchasing and before drinking so as not to mistake this product for the juice or gel of the “whole leaf”.

Aloe vera should not be consumed during pregnancy due to the laxative, or purgative, effect (9).

A good-quality 100% Certified Organic brand of aloe available in most health food stores is Lily of the Desert inner fillet juice and gel, available in 16, 32, and 128 ounce bottles (10).


(1) Aloe vera image (Internet):
viewed 7 March 2010.

(2) Anthraquinone. Wikipedia (Internet). (updated 2 February 2010; sited 7 March

(3) Hoffman, David. Medical Herbalism. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press; 2003. P. 276 - 8.

(4) Carbohydrates. Faqs. org (Internet). (updated 2010; sited 8 March 2010). Available from:

(5) Amino Acids Overview. Reference Guide for Amino Acids (Internet). (updated 2009; sited 8 March 2010). Available from:

(6) Enzyme. (Internet). (updated 2010; sited 8 March 2010). Available from:

(7) Holmes, Peter. The Energetics of Western Herbs, Vol. 1. Cotati, CA: Snow Lotus Press; 2007. P. 479.

(8) Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Aloe Vera Health Benefits (Internet). (updated 2010; sited 8 March 2010). Available from:

(9) Wood, Matthew. The Earthwise Herbal. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books; 2008. P. 65 – 7.

(10) Liquid Dietary Supplements. Lily of the Desert (Internet). (updated 2009; sited 8 March 2010). Available from:

Contributed by Laura Mroz, student of Phytotherapy and Traditional Chinese Medicine @ Pacific Rim College

Support access to natural health products in Canada!

"The Charter of Health Freedom is proposed legislation that gives Natural Health Products and Traditional Medicines their own Act..
The Charter protects our access to Natural Health Products and Traditional Medicines by creating separate legal category for them.  Rather than being deemed as dangerous drugs under the Food and Drugs Act, under the Charter Natural Health Products and Traditional Medicines are deemed to be safe."

There is a petition to sign if you support this movement!

Friday, February 25, 2011


Recently, I met with Keira Zikmanis, writer for the Nexus - Camosun College's student newspaper. We spoke about wildcrafting medicinal plants and she has included some info in her latest article. The article is brief but offer a couple good resources if you are interested to learn more. Check it out at:

Pacific Rim College also offers a summertime course on Wildcrafting, led by Amanda Howe, who has experience as a clinical herbalist and a researcher of sustainable wildcrafting practices. Through the course students have the chance to learn to wildcrafting and contribute to research on sustainable practices. To view research by Amanda visit Royal Roads Centre for Non-timber Forest Products:

Some of the first plant to wildcraft in Spring include: Thuja plicata (Red Cedar) and Galium aparine (Cleavers). Spring plants you may find in your garden include Plantago spp. (Plantain) and Stellaria media (Chickweed). Equisetum arvense (Horsetail) & Urtica dioica (Nettles) must be collected in Spring, as older Summer plants contain Silica which irritates the kidneys. Remember to follow good practices to ensure that population of plants is maintained for the next generation!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Thyroid Disorders

Thyroid Disorders: Hypothyroidism and Hyperthyroidism

The thyroid gland is a small, butterfly shaped organ at the base of the neck just below the adam's apple. Its vital function is to secrete thyroid hormones, which control how much of our body functions. Thyroid hormones effect the metabolic rate by influencing how much oxygen our cells use and by stimulating tissues to produce proteins. Simply put, the rate and intensity of our bodily functions are controlled, in part, by the thyroid. It does this by releasing T4, which is converted to it's more active form T3 in the liver.

The thyroid is not an independent organ. It is controlled by the pituitary gland, which is in turn controlled by the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus secretes a hormone that causes the pituitary gland to produce Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone, or TSH. This hormone, as its name implies, stimulates the thyroid to produce T4. As T4 and T3 reach a higher level in the blood, the pituitary gland stops producing TSH. When T4 and T3 levels drop to low, this stimulates the thyroid to begin producing TSH again.

Of course for all of this to work, the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, thyroid gland, liver, circulatory system, and other aspects must be in good working order. Iodine must be obtained from the diet in sufficient quantities for the production of T4 to occur. If any of these functions are disrupted in any way, it can cause widespread changes in the body. Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) and hyperthryroidism (overactive thyroid) are two of the more common thyroid disorders.

Underactivity in the thyroid gland will cause a slowing down of the body's mental and physical processes. Common symptoms include weight gain despite diminished appetite, low energy and fatigue, slowed heart rate, constipation, dry rough skin, hoarse voice, depression, hair loss (especially eyebrows), low libido, infertility, poor memory, muscle weakness and cramps, delayed reflexes, heavy menstrual periods, and puffiness around the eyes. Some of these symptoms, such as slowed heart rate, can cause additional problems in the long term, like atherosclerosis.

Conventional Treatment of hypothyroidism

The deficient hormone is replaced by taking an oral preparation of an organic or synthetic version. Dried animal thyroids are occasionally used, but synthetic versions are generally preferred by doctors since the hormone levels are less variable and easier to control. Thyroid hormone replacement therapy has been used for almost 100 years and is considered safe and effective. Doses should be monitored carefully, with the lowest possible effective dose used.

Herbal Approaches to Treatment

Since conventional treatment is so effective, herbs are generally used to support the body in resolving symptoms. If a person's hypothyroidism is mild, they may elect to pursue a strictly botanical treatment. Treatment protocols include cardiovascular support, bitters, nervine tonics, adaptogens, circulatory stimulants, and emollients.

Specific Herbs

The following are examples of herbs that may be used safely in hypothyroidism to combat symptoms. They are not always appropriate for everyone, and do not represent the sum total of effective herbs. For the best and safest results, consult with a medical herbalist who can recommend the best herbs, diet, and lifestyle choices for your individual needs.

Fucus vesiculosus


This seaweed is only indicated when hypothyroidism is caused by an iodine deficiency. However, it has been known to worsen the condition or cause hyperthyroidism due to it's variable iodine content, and may interfere with conventional treatment. Prolonged use may also interfere with iron, sodium, and potassium absorption.

Withania somnifera


This adaptogen is a tonic and rejuvenative that has been used for centuries for it's dual ability to promote energy and calm at the same time. It is an immunomodulator, nervine, and muscle, heart, and lung tonic. It is beneficial in most stress related conditions. Ashwagandha is commonly used in hypothyroid conditions due to its ability to stimulate the thyroid to increase T4 production.

Commiphora mukul


Guggul has been shown to act directly on the thyroid gland, increasing levels of T3 in the body. It also reduces levels of LDL cholesterol, is an anti-inflammatory, reduces blood clots, can help clear atherosclerosis, and enhances tissue healing throughout the body. It's ability to raise the white blood cell count can help with lowed immunity due to slowed metabolism.

Diet and Lifestyle

It is important to limit foods that block iodine utilization in the body. These include vegetables in the cabbage family (broccoli, cauliflower, turnip, mustard greens, rutabaga, kohlrabi, brussel sprouts, kale, radishes), peanuts, pine nuts, soybeans (and soybean products like tofu or tempeh), millet, strawberries, peaches, pears, spinach, and sweet potatoes. Supplementation with zinc and selenium, which help with the conversion of T4 to T3, may also be useful. Vitamins A, D, E, and C will also help the body to function more efficiently.

Dieting is not recommended as it causes the body to slow down the metabolic rate even further in order to conserve energy. Regular daily exercise will stimulate the metabolism and will counteract the metabolic slowdown in dieting overweight people.


In contrast to hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism involves a speeding up of the body's metabolic processes due to overactivity of the thyroid. Causes include benign or malignant tumor, inflammation due to infection, or Graves' disease. The cause may also be unknown. Symptoms include heat intolerance, heart palpitations, night sweats, insomnia, excessive sweating, tremors, difficulty sitting still or quietly, increased appetite and weight loss, flushed skin, nervousness and irritability. In postmenopausal women symptoms are often confined to one organ system (ex. heart/cardiovascular system).

Conventional Treatment

There are three main treatments available, the first of which is an antithyroid drug therapy. One or more antithyroid drug is given until spontaneous remission occurs. According to Dr. Aviva Romm, “twenty to forty percent of patients have spontaneous remission within 6 months to 15 years,” and within that there is a “fifty to sixty percent relapse rate.” If drug therapy is ineffective or relapse occurs, thyroidectomy or treatment with radioactive iodine are the remaining options. In thyroidectomy part of the thyroid is surgically removed, with the end result being a lifetime of thyroid hormone supplementation. Radioactive iodine is given in one dose and shrinks the thyroid gland over a period of weeks. The major complication is hypothyroidism.

Herbal Approaches to Treatment

There are a number of herbs that have demonstrated antithyroid activity. Those, along with herbs to provide symptom relief, are very effective at controlling hyperthryroidism. It is important to note that this is a long-term treatment. Results are often not seen for 2-4 weeks, and treatment needs to continue for years or possibly indefinitely.

Specific Herbs

Lycopus europaea/virginicus


Bugleweed acts directly by blocking TSH receptors and limiting the conversion of T4 to T3. It is also specifically indicated in heart palpitations, tremors, tightness of breath, insomnia, night sweats, and anxiety. Due to it's inhibition of the hormone prolactin, Bugleweed should not be used during pregnancy or lactation.

Leonurus cardiaca


The second half of the Latin binomial, cardiaca, suggests this plant's affinity for the heart. It is a specific for heart palpitations, especially with anxiety or tension. This cardiotonic also has thyroid inhibiting actions. For hyperthyroid conditions, Motherwort works best combined with Bugleweed.

Melissa officinalis


Lemonbalm is another herb that has been shown to inhibit TSH binding in the thyroid gland. It is a tonic for the heart, circulatory system, and nerves, and is especially useful if there are stress-related digestive upsets.

Diet and Lifestyle

Eat plenty of the foods listed above which are contraindicated for those with hypothyroidism. Be sure to avoid foods with high iodine contents, such as seaweeds. Eat foods high in flavanoids, which will have blue, purple, or red colors, such as berries, grapes, and cherries. Flavanoids decrease T4 levels and inhibit conversion of T4 to T3. Supplement with calcium, selenium, and zinc. Stress reduction will help ease symptoms as well. Yoga, tai chi, and meditation are all useful.


Bartram, Thomas. Bartram's encyclopedia of herbal medicine. 1998. Marlow & Company.

Berkow, Robert (Ed.). The Merck manual of medical information (home edition). 1997. Pocket Books.

Frawley, D. & Lad, V. The yoga of herbs. 2nd ed. 2001. Lotus Press.

Hoffmann, David. Medical herbalism. 2003. Healing Arts Press.

Holmes, Peter. The energetics of western herbs. Vol 2. 2006. Snow Lotus Press, Inc.

Pole, Sebastian. Ayurvedic medicine. 2006. Elsevier, Ltd.

Romm, Aviva. Botanical medicine for women's health. 2010. Elsevier, Ltd.

Herbal teas for a Happy Tummy!

Digestive Aid

 Matricaria recutita (Chamomile flower)
Foeniculum vulgare (Fennel seed)
Zingiber officinale (Ginger root)
  • Preparation type: tea
  • Dosage and Duration of use: 1 tsp of each to 1-2 cups boiling water; drink as needed after meals to aid in digestion or at the presence of digestive upset until it has ceased
  • Instructions on use: boil Fennel seed and Ginger root in water 15 minutes; pour over Chamomile flowers, cover, and infuse for 10-15 minutes; drink when warm
  • Notes: can add raw honey, lemon juice, and citrus peel to the infusion as well
  • Limitations/When to refer for medical help: if digestive upset persists after several attempts at treatment as listed above, seek attention from a health care professional, especially if digestive upset is common and frequent or involves vomiting or frequent diarrhea or constipation 

Heartburn Relief

Filipendula ulmaria (Meadowsweet herb)
  • Preparation type: tea
  • Dosage and Duration of use: 1 tsp to 1 cup boiling water, cover and infuse for 10-15 minutes
  • Instructions on use: drink as needed until heartburn has ceased
  • Notes: avoid consumption of alcohol, caffeine, spicy and pungent foods, as these things both cause and aggravate heartburn
  • Limitations/When to refer for medical help: if heartburn persists after several attempts at treatment as listed above, seek attention from a health care professional; if blood is being coughed up or severe pain is frequent/consistent in chest or abdominal regions

    Contibuted by Laura Mroz, student of Phytotherapy and Tradition Chinese Medicine at Pacific Rim College. 

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Victoria Teafest

A number of Phytotherapy students from Pacific Rim College attended the Victoria Teafest last weekend. We kept busy all weekend offering short herbal consultations and dispensing customized tea blends. Many people were interested in this approach to medicine and we hope to see them visit our clinic at the college! Consultations in clinic are about 1 hour and we have access to more herbs for tea as well as tinctures and topical herbal medicines. The Teafest was a good chance for people to get a taste of what we have to offer and it was great for us to meet people and witness their excitement for using herbs to improve health! We also enjoyed trying different teas from other exhibitors, not to mention the beautiful pottery teapots!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's day!!

Valentine's Day is here! The perfect time to remember our herbal aphrodisiacs. 

Many factors can contribute to a drop in libido, including stress, pharmaceutical side effects and underlying physical conditions. If the physical spark is dim in the love nest, try adding one of the following herbs to start the fire..........
Withania / Ashwagandha: a supportive, adaptogenic root herb commonly used in India. It tonifies the reproductive system for both men and women. It's traditional folk name is the "man with a thousand wives"!

Maca Root / "Peruvian ginseng": a folk remedy used to increase stamina, energy, and sexual function.

Fo-Ti: also known as Ho Shou Wu, this Chinese herb is known for being a longevity tonic increasing vitality, stamina and also popular as a hair tonic for growth and color.

Damiana: a Mexican herb that is can enhance female sexual function via active constituents that have progesterone mimicking qualities.

If there is underlying stress of a hormone imbalance please consider seeing a herbalist to help you find long lasting balance in you love life!!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Herbs in Your Kitchen

Did you know that you are already using herbs as medicine? Take a look through your spice drawer and you'll most likely find plants like cinnamon, ginger, oregano, thyme, rosemary, cardamom, turmeric, sage, and garlic. All of these delicious herbs and spices help us to digest the food they're cooked with so we can lessen or avoid gas and bloating after meals. They are known as carminatives, which means they soothe inflammation in the gut wall, ease griping pains, and help expel gas.

Some of these kitchen allies help keep us warm as well. Cinnamon, ginger, and rosemary are all powerful circulatory stimulants and do an excellent job of keeping away the chills in winter. Just think of how nice it is to enjoy a hot mug of cinnamon hot chocolate. Yum! Cardamom is a nice alternative for those who want that earthy flavor but don't want to heat themselves up too much. Instead of stimulating blood flow, cardamom warms up the gastrointestinal tract and can be a big help in soft or loose stools. It also cuts through and breaks up mucus, whether it's in the GI tract or nasal passages. Cardamom is a great gentle warmer for people who are feeling damp or cold. Try it with some fennel, cumin, and ginger for an upset stomach, or with cinnamon and cloves for lung problems.

If you're eating away from home and are worried about gas or indigestion, a small handful of fennel or caraway seeds stashed in your pocket can help with any post meal pain or discomfort. Try chewing on a teaspoon or so of the seeds after you eat to prevent indigestion and to freshen your breath.

Want to make something simple at home that can help stave off or fight colds and flus, indigestion, and relax sore muscles? Make up a batch of Fire Cider!

1/2c Horseradish root, grated

1/2c Onion, chopped

1/2c Ginger, grated

1/8-1/4c Garlic, chopped

1 tsp Cayenne pepper

Place all ingredients into a quart jar and cover with raw apple cider vinegar. Let steep at least two weeks, preferably 8 weeks, and as long as three months. No need to refrigerate as vinegar is a natural preservative. This can be sipped daily as a general digestion, circulatory, and immune tonic. At the onset of a cold or flu, try taking up to a tablespoon three times a day until symptoms are gone. It can also be used a compress for sore muscles or on the chest for lung congestion. If the taste is too strong for you, it can be mixed with some raw honey, which also helps to fight cold, flus, and congestion. Fire Cider also makes a delicious salad dressing!

Always remember that if your herbs and spices are more than a year old they should be thrown out. Fresh will have much better and stronger flavors and stronger medicinal properties. They should always be stored in airtight containers away from light and heat. Happy cooking!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Student herbalists offer free information and sample consultations and local shows!

A few colleagues and myself attended the Victoria Health Show on January 22-23.  We were very pleased with the turnout of eager individuals inquiring about Pacific Rim College and the field of Herbal Medicine!  I had the opportunity to give a few free herbal consultations to introduce the protocol and share the benefits of this approach to healthcare.  Proceeding the intake of personal medical history and present ailments, we create a formula according to the individual's needs.  Whether the concern be regarding acid reflux, stress, insomnia, aches & pains, PMS, etc. we make up a personalized bottle of medicine; how awesome is that!  It was great to have the opportunity to answer questions and give people the opportunity to experience a holistic approach to medicine using herbs.
We are going to be attending the Victoria Tea Festival to provide more information on the services we provide and how you can benefit! We hope you'll come and visit us there: Saturday February 12th (12-5pm) & Sunday February 13th (11-4pm) @ the Crystal Gardens.

Contributed by Dayley Harper, student in the Diploma of Phytotherapy program @ Pacific Rim College

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Upcoming Learning Opportunities

Interested in learning more about herbal medicine and holistic healing? Here is a brief list of upcoming online learning opportunities:

The Pungent Taste of Herbs – presented by Rosalee de la Foret with commentary by Michael Tierra

Tuesday February 15th, 2011 5:30 PM – 6:30 PM PST

This free webinar, presented by Rosalee de la Foret with Michael Tierra, will take a closer look at the therapeutic use of pungent herbs. They will begin by discussing the philosophy of the pungent taste and then look at how these concepts are applied in our daily lives. Rosalee has collected many important historical and modern formulas and recipes to share with you to bring these applications to life.”

Nourishing the Wild You – Food, Energetics, and Nourishment

Online 8 week intensive

Feb 15th – April 19th 2011

Join Herbalist, Nutritionist, and food lover, Darcey Blue French of Brighid’s Well Herbs (, for an 8 week online intensive course on the energetics of food, true nourishment, nutrition, relationship with place and food, nutritional healing and more.

Sylvan Institute of Botanical Medicine

"The Sylvan Institute of Botanical Medicine strives to facilitate the expression of herbal medicine in clinical settings, homes, and any other imaginable venue. Our classes are geared toward Licensed Acupuncturists, Doctors, Nurses, Naturopathic Doctors, Pharmacists, gardeners, parents, community-based herbalists, and students."

Gail Faith Edwards

Gail offers a free webcast every Monday as well as more in-depth learning opportunities online or at her Farm School.

Monday, January 17, 2011

First Edition of our Herbal E-zine!

We hope you enjoy this first edition of the Herbal Medicine Education Association virtual newsletter. We hope you'll check back for more interesting herbal info and feel free to send us questions........... 

Do you have cold hands and feet? Add some cayenne or ginger to your cooking! Both will increase your blood circulation and keep the flow going to your hands and feet. Otherwise, consider visiting a herbalist who may select herbs that support and tone the blood vessels to your limbs.

Do you suffer from seasonal allergies? Plan ahead for spring! It's never too late to start building immune system tolerance to allergens. Drinking Stinging Nettle tea throughout the year, and especially before and during allergy season, can significantly reduce your body's hypersensitive reaction. Stinging Nettles (Urtica dioica) provide the body with nutrients, increase its natural resistance and assist in the elimination of toxins from the body. Remember, if you are going to pick Stinging Nettles yourself this spring – ensure you identify them properly (or ask a herbalist or botanist), wear gloves (they sting!) and dry or boil them before touching or consuming.

Everyone experiences mild anxiety, but there are ways that lifestyle and herbs can help! Try reducing caffeine, alcohol and sugar, and eat a wholesome diet. You may also find it helpful to get regular exercise or to try breathing and relaxation exercises. Herbal teas that ease stress and anxiety include chamomile, lavender, lemon balm, and wood betony.

A bit of herbal history: Pedanius Dioscorides (circa 40-90CE) was a Greek physician, botanist and pharmacologist who contributed greatly to the practice of herbal medicine. He authored a five-volume encyclopedia of medicine and pharmacopeia of medicinal substances called De Materia Medica. It was translated to Latin and Arabic and was use until 1600CE.

A wesbite to check out: They have a zone finder to help you plan your garden, as well as beautiful photos in their Garden Gallery.

Visit us in our clinic at Pacific Rim College. There is no charge for a herbal consultation. You only pay for the herbs, which are customized for you. We dispense a variety of organic tinctures, creams, dried herbs and tea.

Contributors to this edition: Lauren Truscott, Grace Szucs, and Lindsay Hounslow, students in the Diploma of Phytotherapy program @ Pacific Rim College