My interview with Dr. Michele Ross, neuroscientist and researcher, is one you will want to hear! I met Dr. Ross a couple of years ago when we were both on a panel with the founders of the Holistic Cannabis Academy at an annual Women Grow event in Denver. She is a wealth of knowledge and I am honored to have her on the podcast.
Dr. Michele Ross is a leading psychedelic researcher and educator as well as fibromyalgia patient. She founded the first 501c3 nonprofit on cannabis for women’s health in 2013, and is now CEO of Infused Health, an online platform for cannabis health coaching. Dr. Ross is the author of “Vitamin Weed: A 4-Step Plan to Prevent and Reverse Endocannabinoid Deficiency” and has a Doctorate in Neuroscience. Dr. Ross’s most recent project is an initiative attempting to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms in Denver in May 2019.
During our interview, we discuss the importance of having a healthy endocannabinoid system and the various ways to create homeostasis with cannabis and other remedies. We talk about what is on the forefront for cannabis and psilocybin, as well as her health consultations and online courses for those that want to learn more about how to incorporate cannabis into their wellness regimen. Check out all Dr. Ross has to offer!
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Those of you who read my blog know that I’m not a sugar coated unicorn-loving optimist. If anything I see unicorns as the symbol of white masculinity. Maybe if unicorns weren’t almost always depicted as white I’d feel differently.
This blog post isn’t about unicorns or white masculinity.
Today is one of those testy days. I got sick yesterday, which is pretty rare for me. There’s also some stress in our lives (good and bad) that have altered my sleep patterns. Not to mention a weekend of good times at the Baby Bathwater Institute Members Only Mastermind that definitely over stimulated me!
To bring myself back into balance (in body and mood) after too much stimulation I always come back to my herbs. They always know exactly what I need. This is what’s in my medicine cabinet today.
I’m rolling this blend on my chest, neck, and behind my ears. The therapeutic properties of Douglas Fir, Tulsi Basil, Eucalyptus radiata, Scots Pine, and Clary Sage help me take deep breaths and let go of the irritation and agitation I feel.
– GET OUT THE FUNK TEA– This is a blend that is my go-to when I’m sick. I don’t measure any of the herbs, but you can blend 1-2 teaspoons of each herb together and add as much as you want to a quart jar that you drink throughout the day. I’ll probably drink 2-3 quarts of tea over the course of the day. Blend together elderberries, citrus peel, peppermint, yarrow, and ginger.
– WATER– I can’t tell you how much water I’ve had today. Although my throat hurts I drink water and/or tea constantly to stay hydrated.
– REST– Guilt and commitments make me think I need to push through, regardless of how tired I am. Reality tells me that I should rest so I recover faster. Most of the time it’s okay if work waits until after a nap (which I am going to take right now).
We are a country divided. I have heard this said over and over again lately and I have seen this polarization play out all over social media- especially Facebook. I have absolutely participated, as I have been quick to anger, to point fingers, and to make generalized statements about people I disagree with.
I am acting exactly like what I loathe and think I am working against. I am allowing myself to get riled up and angry, instead of transforming that energy into something productive. An example being a recent post I made on a Clinical Herbalists Facebook Group about a conference in Alabama that was threatening to kick out anyone being political.
First of all their statements about what being political are were vague and I thought it was rude of them to threaten to kick people out of their conference for disruptive behavior related to politics. The organizers state “this conference is for participants to reconnect with the land and our first love of using plants and alternative medicine.” Yes, that’s the reason we attend herbal conferences, but to censor people’s speech about politics (herbal medicine and politics are deeply intertwined unfortunately) is ridiculous. The keynote speaker took offense to their statements as well and has chosen to step down from speaking.
Second of all, it is a conference called The Deep South Conference without any sort of representation of the people that come from the South. There is one teacher that is a Cherokee man, but all others are Caucasian. Which is not uncommon at herbal conferences in the U.S.- just a little shocking when the name is the Deep South Conference and there is not one single black teacher. The south (if you haven’t been) has no shortage of African American herbalists.
I don’t think we can separate politics from herbalism. Most of us have learned some form of indigenous herbalism and we take for granted how easy and accessible it has been. It’s why we didn’t think twice (until recently) about burning sage and palo santo. We have never been prosecuted, shamed or killed for practicing our beliefs. We just got to expose ourselves to whatever we wanted to learn and then shout it to the rooftops as if everyone has had the privilege and right to do it.
As herbalists, we are activists! Even if we don’t want to see ourselves that way, it is our responsible to change, not only what we perceive health to be, but to make sure everyone has equal access to the medicines of the Earth. We must work to make herbal medicine affordable and accessible to as many people as we can. No one should be left out when it comes to working with plant medicines. But because of political structures that continue to keep up the business of capitalism and a racist foundation that we value one person’s life above another, this is not possible.
And that is why I have to speak out.
If you need some help building Courage or Resolve, remember your herbal allies. It could be a good time to call upon Eleutherococcus senticosis (Siberian ginseng) to help adapt to the changes in your life and relationships as you speak your truth more clearly. Maybe you need Crataegus spp. (Hawthorn) to transform your emotions of frustration and hate to clarity and compassion. It could be that you need to wear aromatic herbs like Lavender and Rose as an amulet or (diluted) essential oil to keep you calm and centered during heated conversations.
We always have a choice as to how we are going to react. Maybe tomorrow I’ll react calmer when faced with colleagues that don’t want to rock the boat or call out injustice. Instead of attacking them with cynicism and withdrawal, hopefully I’ll be able to have a more intelligent conversation. I’ll do my best.
when energy flows, wellness grows
Featured Image: Photo taken by Jessica Baker Artist- Apex
Emotions are high as cannabis legalization comes to fruition in California. There is eagerness as the green rush (or weed greed, as I call it) brings professionals into a market where there was once only “criminals” or outlaws. The pink shirts can’t wait to make money off the backs of those once vilified and imprisoned for fighting for the decriminalization of cannabis. I openly hope that the pink shirts like John Boehner don’t thrive, as some of these hypocrites were the loudest to criticize cannabis users.
There is fear from those that have made their livelihood off of the private cannabis market and aren’t sure how they fit into the new legal industry. Those that have been able to conduct business unregulated and untaxed are now in the most over-regulated and over-taxed industries in the state. In the Emerald Triangle (Humboldt, Trinity and Mendocino counties) where cannabis cultivation has been what keeps the local economy afloat, I have heard many growers say they are priced out because local agencies require absurd regulations that have never been applied to any other industry.
There is also excitement as anyone 21 and over can legally purchase cannabis at retail stores across the state (or will soon once local jurisdictions get it together to grant permits). I will admit that I am stoked that I can walk into a store and buy a sack of weed and a bar of ganja chocolate. It will be even better when the taxes on cannabis are not so high.
As those that participate in the new public cannabis market, we have to work hard to make sure that everyone that is still incarcerated for cannabis related “crimes” are set free. I don’t think it’s too much to ask that with some of the tax money from cannabis, that we pay reparations for those whose lives were ruined when they were busted for cultivating or dealing weed. In this new world of cannabis freedom, we have to remember that it is not equal opportunity for all as we like to believe.
Spring has arrived in Denver with sunshine, wind, and even a little rain. I am in no denial that we can have more snowstorms, but I am excited to see all the new growth popping up everywhere.
The dandelions are back! The bright yellow flowers are reaching for the sun, while that taproot is digging deep into the earth, defying those grubby hands that want to pull it out. I haven’t seen any bees yet, but I’m sure they’re waking from their slumber and will be buzzing around soon. They love dandelion like herbalists do.
Instead of thinking of dandelion as a noxious weed, think of it as one of the first foods that spring has to offer. The umbrella of yellow a reflection of the long, warm days ahead.
Today is the Spring Equinox, an auspicious day when the opposing energies of yin and yang are in balance. On Equinox (Spring & Vernal) the dynamic relationship of yin and yang is synchronized and we may feel this Universal balance within us as well.
If you feel out of sorts or are having a difficult day, it could be a reflection of the imbalances within your life. It could be health, finances or relationships- how are these things showing up for you.
Reflect on what it is you need to do (or not to do) to bring yourself into harmony with the natural rhythms of the inner and outer Cosmos. As always what is happening in one is happening in the other.
One of my favorite herbal combinations for bringing a sense of harmony to yin yang is Calendula officinalis (golden like the sun) and Artemisia vulgaris (herba de la luna). Artemisia is bitter and can be intense if steeped too long, but I love to make a solar/lunar infusion with cool spring water. The herbs infuse with the energies of the sun (yang) and the moon (yin) and I feel this deeply as I drink it throughout the week.
Big News! Plant Songs: Reflections on Herbal Medicine is now available for purchase through Balboa Press!
Two years ago (almost to the date) I was told I won a self-publishing contract with Balboa Pressthrough a Writer’s Workshop I attended through Hay House Publishing. I am thrilled to announce that my book, Plant Songs is officially released!
Amazon has not updated the imagery in the book (I brightened the photos), so don’t order there YET!
If you want to check out my bookPlant Songs: Reflections on Herbal Medicine, click here!
And please tell me what you think once you’ve read it!!
I just returned from the Yucatan Peninsula where I spent a week at a yoga retreat at Papaya Playa Project with two of my favorite teachers, Hannah Muse-Lerner and Ben Good Vibes. It was a perfect week of cultivating peace- daily meditation, asana, and basking in the sun with friends. Pretty much the life I want all of the time!
I forgot to bring my Mayan plant book, which was a bummer at first. As an herbalist, I want to know as much about my plant kin as I can. Then I realized I wasn’t going to leave the beach and I recognized the coconut trees around me, so all was good!
If you haven’t explored the Yucatan I urge you to do so. Especially before it gets too built up! Tulum has changed tremendously over the last 7 years and I couldn’t believe how busier (and more expensive) it was from just last year. It is truly a magical place and I hope it can stay rootsy amongst all the “progress.” My favorite place on the peninsula so far is Coba, an ancient Mayan city, where you can still climb the pyramid, Nohoch Mul. I have had many enlightening moments from the top of Nohoch Mul! One of the most intense being on Mayan New Year in 2012 (I write about it in the Psilocybin chapter of Plant Songs).
Speaking of Plant Songs, it is so close to being released! I was not satisfied with how the color illustrations translated into greyscale, so I had the images lightened and the new copy looks great! Once I have the okay from the publishers that the new version is available I will let you know. Any day now…..!!!!
This week in the Yucatan has reiterated how much I want to live in Mexico! I am in love with Mayan culture, the Caribbean ocean, and of course the warm sunny days!
What I also love is the hot cacao every morning with my brunch! No other culture may revere cacao as much as the Mayans. To honor their tradition of hot cacao I share my version with you.
Mayan (inspired) Hot Chocolate
1/4 cup raw Cacao nibs (melted)
1 tbsp Cinnamon powder
1 tsp Cayenne powder
1 tsp Vanilla bean extract
1 tsp Honey
Boil water in a tea kettle. Melt cacao nibs in a double boiler, stirring frequently. Add in cinnamon and cayenne powders. Once cacao is melted and powders stirred in, take off heat. Stir in vanilla bean extract and honey. Add 1/4 cup of melted cacao mixture to 1/4-1/2 cup of hot water. Stir well. Sip while hot. Honor the divinity within the cacao and within yourself.
The last few few weeks have been a whirlwind for me. I’ve traveled from California to Colorado, back to California and now to the Yucatan Peninsula. I guess I am feeling the stirrings of spring more than the deep retreat of winter.
With all of this moving around I have been trying to stay healthy, balanced, and sane. I’m doing my best- despite mega viruses, crowds, and societal drama. Besides my daily yoga/qi gong practice, drinking tons of water, and washing my hands like a maniac, I really give credit to my plant allies for playing a huge role.
I don’t leave home without at least one of my aromatic essence blends. My favorite one right now is a blend of Night Blooming Jasmine and White Sage essential oils in a carrier of Calendula infused Apricot kernel Oil. Divine! It keeps me clear and grounded- much needed in all my transitions.
What oils or herbs do you use to help you in times of change? If you aren’t sure, close your eyes, take a few deep breaths and see what plant first comes to mind. More than likely, this is who you need in your life. Trust your intuition. You know what is best for you.
It hardly seems like winter this week in Northern California. Instead of our steady fog and rain, we have had sunshine and temperatures in the mid 60’s. No complaints here as I soak up as much sun as I can!
It is getting brighter in the mornings and the days are gradually increasing, making the warmer days of spring more of a reality. I am still taking my daily tonics as people are still getting sick around me and I do my best to avoid going down like that. Especially since I leave for a yoga retreat in Tulum in 10 days!
I have been loving the Tulsi Rose tea from Humboldt Herbals. I worked at Humboldt Herbals many moons ago when they first opened in Old Town Eureka 20 years ago! Time flies, and us with it! Check out all the herbs, teas, essential oils, skin care, and other goodies they have to offer. You can also hear my interview with the proprietress of Humboldt Herbals, Julie Caldwell.
The combination of Rose Petals, Tulsi Bail, Red Raspberry leaf, and Green Cardamom is mildly spicy and so delicious. Sometimes I add a pinch of Elderberry and Star Anise to keep my immune system even stronger. Either with little honey or unsweetened, this blend keeps me healthy and happy.
May you also enjoy a nourishing cup of herbal tea today!
Simmer Hawthorn berries and Cinnamon in 2-3 cups water for at least 5 minutes. Turn heat off and steep Milky Oats for at least 5 minutes. Add Sage the last 1-2 minutes of the steep. Strain herbs and drink 1/2 cup of tea per serving. Feel the herbs move through out your body and observe any sensations that may arise.
Feeling a bit better today now that I’ve had a couple of days away from holiday treats. I haven’t felt the bloating and indigestion that can accompany eating gluten, dairy, sugar and other irritants. I credit my healthy digestion to Digestive Bitters. I’ve been taking Bitters for almost fifteen years, and now they are all the rage (with good reason!) Many of our digestive issues could benefit from taking Bitters before meals as a way to stimulate digestion, transform nutrients, and maintain the integrity of cellular membranes.
1 inch slice of organic fresh Ginger (Zingiber officinale) root
Add all ingredients to 8 ounces of Organic Vodka. Cover with lid and store in dark, cool location. Shake daily for 2-4 weeks. Strain out herbs and store liquid in dark colored, glass container. Take 8-10 drops of tincture before each meal to prevent indigestion or after meals to reduce gas and bloating.
Winter Solstice is the celebration of the longest night of the year. It is a time to gather with loved ones and reflect on the past year. It is a time to honor what we have lost and gained. We celebrate the harvest and the cycles of the Earth. We honor our own cycles and what has transpired for us since the last dark night.
On Winter Solstice, we gather to write down what we need to get rid of before the return of the Sun. We go deep within and root out our darkest fears, so they can be brought to light, transformed, and released. Build a fire and write down these fears, throw them into the flames and watch them burn and be transformed into smoke and ash. Now write down what you want to cultivate in the year ahead. It can be cultivating kindness, community, or money. Tape your intentions to your bathroom mirror and say them out loud every morning. You will be surprised at how quickly these thoughts and words become reality.
As you hold your ceremony, you might want to have your herbal allies to help bring insight into your fears and intentions.
Herbs that Ground & Guide
Rosemary– spicy, aromatic, and stimulating, rosemary reminds you of who you are. Rosemary guides energy through all three burners (san jiao in Chinese medicine) and transforms dampness, bringing clarity to all situations. A sprig in 8 ounces of hot water will also help with bloating and nausea after eating.
Reishi mushroom– bitter and calming, reishi mushroom assists you in going deep. Reishi calms the mind and the spirit, making it an important herb in quieting an overactive mind and nervous system. One medium sized mushroom can be decocted in a quart of water for 1-12 hours as a medicinal tonic (take 1-4 ounces of decoction daily). The longer you boil, the more bitter the tea becomes.
Marshmallow root– cool and nourishing, marshmallow root soothes irritation in the digestive and urinary tracts. It benefits anybody that needs to be nurtured and supported. One tablespoon of marshmallow root simmered in 8 ounces of water for 15 minutes makes a grounding, earthy tasting tea.
I wasn’t going to release another podcast episode until next year and then I thought you might want one to listen to on your holiday travels! In this episode I speak with my very first herb teacher, Jane Bothwell.
We discuss her annual medicinal cannabis conference and her many herbal offerings in northern California and around the globe (she is taking small groups to Hawaii and Greece in 2018). Jane’s herb school, Dandelion Herbal Center, is nestled in the redwoods in beautiful and remote Humboldt County, California. An ideal location to connect with the spirit of plants! Through her Festival of Herbs series, she invites herbalists like Rosemary Gladstar, Pam Montgomery, Christopher Hobbs and others from across the U.S. to visit and share their wisdom to the herbal community. She is a gift to us all and I am so happy to share a little of her story with you!
Enjoy this episode of The Herb Walk Podcast and Subscribe today to catch up on all of Season 1 and find out when Season 2 is released next year!
Yesterday was National Cocoa Day, and although I didn’t know that was a “thing” I am always happy to sit down and enjoy a steaming cup of hot chocolate.
Here is my go-to recipe for an aromatically spiced hot chocolate.
Aromatic Spice Cocoa Love
8 ounces of organic almond or coconut milk
1-2 heaping tablespoons of organic, fair trade cocoa powder or chocolate sauce
1/8-1/4 teaspoon organic powdered cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon organic powdered nutmeg
1 teaspoon dried organic rose petals
Warm the almond milk and stir in cocoa powder, cinnamon and nutmeg until milk powders are well blended. Turn off heat and steep rose petals for a couple of minutes. Strain out petals and pour cocoa into your favorite mug. Extra points for dunking in your favorite cookie!
‘Tis the season for warming carminative spices! We all associate cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves with pumpkin pie, hot apple cider, and holiday cookies, but they are also some of our most important herbal medicines. The exoticness of their fragrances has fueled their trade and popularity for centuries, making them now common spices in kitchens around the world. Spices, like other herbs, have distinct medicinal properties and have been present in cooking since time immemorial. It is ingrained in our nature to add spices to our food. All of our traditions reflect this connection to food as medicine, whether we celebrate Solstice, Chanukah, Christmas, or Kwanzaa.
Aromatic Medicine for the Holy Days:
Cinnamon/Rou Gui (Cinnamomum cassia)- Spicy, sweet and hot; Chinese cinnamon bark is used to strengthen mingmen fire (gate of life), making it excellent for treating internal coldness that causes abdominal pain, vomiting or diarrhea
Cloves/ Ding Xiang (Syzygium aromaticum): Spicy and warm; cloves are a key herb for warming digestion and treating abdominal fullness, vomiting, nausea, and hiccups
Star Anise/Da Hui Xiang (Illicium verum): Spicy, sweet, and warm; star anise is wonderful for treating cold digestion that causes abdominal pain with bloating, vomiting, and nausea
I look forward to hearing about (and tasting) how you incorporate spices into your holy day dishes!
December is here already and I am as shocked as everyone else. I’m back in Denver and the nights are cold and windy. There isn’t any snow in the city and I hate to say that I am glad!
I can hear people sniffling and coughing around me as I’m out and about. It’s a good reminder to keep my immunity strong! Small things like washing your hands frequently (many people don’t wash door handles or light switches) and eating nutrient dense foods like soups and stews will be a big help in staving off other people’s germs.
I also drink elderberry tea every morning, switching up the other ingredients depending on what I have going on.
My 3 favorite Elderberry blends:
1 tsp Elderberries, 1 tsp Hawthorn berries, 2 inch piece of Citrus peel – I make this on those days of over-indulgence, where there may just be a cookie or two enjoyed
1 tsp Elderberries, 1 tsp Yarrow flowers, 1 tsp Peppermint– This is my go-to when I begin to feel that chill or fever coming on and I need to kick it out
1 tsp Elderberries, 1 tsp Rose petals, 1 inch piece of Citrus peel– This is my base tea on most days. I drink as is or add an herb or two that is calling me that day.
Steep herbs in 8 ounces of hot water for 15 minutes. Strain and drink while warm.
I’d love to hear what herbs you like with elderberry!
I, like many people, love Thanksgiving although I hate that it is through colonization and genocide of millions of people that we celebrate this day of gratitude. Those that know me may grow tired of my tirades against all so-called holidays that have been turned into excuses to do nothing more than consume.
That being said, on Thanksgiving I do love to share my favorite foods with those I love and am most grateful for! One of my favorite dishes is homemade cranberry sauce. It is super easy to make, and tastes way better than that weird gelatinous canned version I grew up with.
Citrus Cinnamon Cranberry Sauce
16 ounces cranberries
1/2 cup orange zest
1 cinnamon stick
3/4-1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
Dissolve sugar in water and orange juice. Add cranberries and stir for 10-15 minutes. Add citrus peel and cinnamon (in muslin bag) and continue to stir for another 15-20 minutes. Add more liquid if cranberries thicken too much. Turn off heat when it is to the consistency and taste you desire. Enjoy on top of a big slice of pumpkin pie!