Plant Profile: Yarrow

Botanical Name: Achillea millefolium

Common Name: Yarrow

Family: Asteraceae

Energetics: drying, clearing, cooling

Primary Constituents: lactones, flavanoids, linalool

Actions: anti-bacterial, antiseptic, aromatic bitter, diaphoretic, hemostatic, astringent, styptic, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, anticoagulant

Field ID and Growing Habits:
Perennial herb, varieties of which grow in North America, Europe, and Asia. Millifolium refers to the appearance of many soft tiny leaves stemming from a single artery, though in fact they are single feathery leaves growing from the stalk. Long stem, leaves growing from the single stalk, and many small usually white, sometimes pink, flowers in a flat-topped umbel, clustered at the top of the plant in bloom. Rhizomatous and often spreads by colonial rhizome matting. Prefers sunny meadows and poor soil.

Medicinal Uses:
For bites of any kind, to prevent infection, soak the area in hot (not burning) strong yarrow tea, as a part of repetitive acute treatment. This helps improve blood flow, clears and prevents infection, and is a mild anti-inflammatory as well. Yarrow has an anti-septic action toward any open wound, and in skin infections such a staph. Especially good for any time the skin is broken in an unclean way, such as bites, rips, and tears. Internally, it is helpful in clearing respiratory viruses (not allergies), and is anti-infective to prevent secondary bacterial infections. It gently stimulates adaptive immunity for combating colds and flus. Historically known as a fever breaker, it is diaphoretic, promoting sweating and the release of toxins. It is hemostatic and stirs up stagnant blood (decreases capillary congestion), while having a cooling, flowing effect. It can also have a purifying and slightly thinning effect on the blood, with an astringent quality, and is often used for hemorrhaging. It is used as a vascular tonic to help build and strengthen the blood vessels. It has also been know to assist in many gynecological complaints, particularly in relation to the blood. Used during labor, childbirth, and shortly thereafter to decrease excessive bleeding. As an aromatic bitter, it can be used as a digestive aid.

Contraindications, Interactions, and Warnings:
The constituent B-iso-thujone, soluble in alcohol, can cause intestinal discomfort. Not used in the early stages of pregnancy. As with anything, some people are allergic, particularly to the pollen.

Plant Parts Used:
Leaves, flower, and sometimes root. Stalks are not dangerous but do not contain many medicinal compounds as do other parts.

Medicinal Preparations and Dosage:
Yarrow extracts well in all menstruums- alcohol, vinegar, glycerin, honey, water, oil. Used both externally and internally.


In Asia, the stalks are traditionally used as divination sticks when throwing the I-ching.
The genus name Achilles comes from the myth of Achilles. His mother held him by the heel as an infant and dipped him in yarrow tea to protect him. Thus, his only weak point was the heel by which she’d held him. He used yarrow too in the Trojan wars, to staunch the bleeding of his injured soldiers. 

Herbal Healing for Women, Rosemary Gladstar
Herbal Medicine From the Heart of the Earth, Sharol Tilgner
Book of Herbal Wisdom, Matthew Wood
Herbal First Aid Course, 7Song

Cherise Queen Yarrow in winter

Cherise Queen Yarrow in winter


Plant Profile: Anemone

Botanical Name: Anemone spp.

Common Names: Anemone, Pulsatilla, Wood Anemone, Pasqueflower, Alpine Anemone, Spring Anemone, Passe Flower, Meadow Anemone, Wind Flower

Family: Ranunculaceae (Buttercup)

Energetics: calming, altering to the nervous energetic state

Primary Constituents: lactones, triterpenoids, tannins, volatile oils

Actions: anxiolytic, sedative, emmenogague, ophthalmic, expectorant, stimulant, vasotonic alterative, diaphoretic, expectorant, spasmolytic

Field ID and Growing Habits:
There are over 25 species that grow in the United States and Europe. Some species found in prairies in dry, rocky soil, and full sun; others, such as wood anemone, in the woods and near water. A. pulsatilla: Usually purple or white flowers with yellow stamens at the center and short, soft fuzzy stems. Six pointed petals, and small, long-shaped, feathery leaves. Flowers are large in comparison to the whole plant, which may grow to only 2 inches high. A. quinquifolia: 4-6 inches high, six white petals, three lobed leaves, grows in wet mountain woodlands of the Appalachias.

Medicinal Uses:
Often used for fears and anxieties, as an aid in insomnia when overworked nerves are the causing factor, for nervous exhaustion, gloom, anxious depression, panic attacks, states of unrest and despondency, nervous headaches, bad drug trips (to induce rest), PTSD, menstrual issues relating to the nervous system such as cold menstrual headaches and ammenorhoea, and historically, to calm the mother (or father) during and after childbirth (not recommended except for dad).

Contraindications, Interactions, and Warnings:
Overdose may cause gastric upset, vomiting, coldness, numbing, burning, tingling, tightness in the chest, or a slowing of the heart. The fresh greenery can be especially irritating, even topically. This is a very low dose herb.

Plant Part Used: Whole plant, including flowers, roots, leaves and stems.

Medicinal Preparations and Dosage:
Generally used in acute situations. Tincture: 1:2 95% fresh, low dose: start with ONE drop and increase slowly as needed for effect; if no effect is seen at maximum of 1 mL, try another herb for the problem.

In Greek mythology, this flower is said to have sprung from the tears of Aphrodite when she learned of the death of her lover, Adonis. Rural European legends say that faerie folk take shelter beneath the flower’s closed petals at night.


King’s Dispensatory
7Song’s class handouts

Classes in herb school


wood anemone- Anemone quinquifolia

wood anemone- Anemone quinquifolia

Plant Profile: Oshá

Botanical Name: Ligusticum porteri

Common Names: Oshá, Bear Root, Chuchupate, Bear Medicine, Indian Parsley, Colorado Cough Root, Porter’s Lovage, ha ‘il chii’ gah, ha’ich’idéé, Guariaca, Porter’s Licorice Root, Hierba del Cochino, Raíz del Cochino, Washí

Family: Apiaceae/Umbelliferae (Carrot/Parsley family)

Energetics: Bitter, warming, pungent, feminine, territorial

Primary Constituents: Furanocoumarins, monoterpenes, volatile oils

Actions: Respiratory stimulant, expectorant, immune stimulant, diaphoretic, carminative and bitter, antiviral, decongestant, mucolytic, anti-viral

Field ID and Growing Habits:
Oshá’s appearance is that of a typical parsley family plant- finely divided leaves, flat-topped umbels of flowers/seeds, and hollow stems. It has large basal leaves, and white five-petaled flowers in the late summer. The root is large and dark with hairy rootlets, and it has a fibrous, yellow inner root that is extremely astringent when fresh. It is commonly mistaken for Hemlocks so correct identification is important. Oshá grows only at high altitudes from British Columbia, through the Rocky Mountains, to the mountains of New Mexico. Because it relies on growing conditions rich in micorrhizal fungi, this plant does not respond well to cultivation and is almost always wildcrafted. There is some concern that the wild populations are being over-harvested and may become endangered in the future.

Medicinal Uses:
Oshá’s primary physical uses are respiratory, in addition to historical spiritual uses. It helps clear excess mucus from the head and sinuses, and has both opening and clearing, and protective qualities. It induces sweating, aiding in the elimination of toxins, and expectorates infections of the  respiratory system. Immune stimulating and anti-viral. I think of it when someone’s boundaries have been compromised to the point of a lowered immune response resulting in colds, flus, and other common respiratory illnesses and infections. I never use this plant without also utilizing its spiritual properties and calling upon the aid of the spirit of the bear.

Contraindications, Interactions, and Warnings:
Taken as a medicine, this plant is very powerful and should be used sparingly and mindfully. Do not use in any situation where extremes are not desired, such as in pregnancy. Overdose may cause headache.

Plant Part Used: Root

Medicinal Preparations and Dosage:
Oshá root medicine is very strong and only a small amount is required to produce a response. Taken as an infused honey, chewing on the root, or as tincture.

Native American tribes have historically used this plant for various physiological and spiritual uses. It is respectfully honored as Bear Spirit Medicine, with the qualities of purification, protection, strength, boundaries, courage, and personal power.
Bears adore this plant and will seek it out and dig it up in the morning, when ill, or while recovering from hibernation.

Personal experiences with Oshá
Class with Juliet Blankenspoor
Herbal Medicines From the Heart of the Earth, by Sheryl Tilgner

Plant Profile: Lavender


Materia Medica: Lavender

Botanical Name: Lavandula spp.

Family: Lamiaceae (Mint)

Energetics: Both moist and dry, clean, uplifting, calming, clearing, cooling

Constituents: Volatile oils, coumarins, flavanoids, triterpenes, linalool, camphor, and so on

Actions: amphoteric, carminative, sedative, bitter, antidepressant, antispasmodic, hypotensive, hypnotic, cholagogue, anti-microbial, nervine, anxiolytic

Field ID and Growing Habits: Varies slightly with each species. Light, silvery green leaves on a shrubby bush. Shoots up long thin stalks which flower small lavender-colored, blue, or purple flowers. Grows best in Mediterranean climates and conditions. Likes well-drained soil and sun. Most commonly grown from cuttings. Plentiful small seeds, do not reproduce true to the parent plant and may take awhile to establish. Short-lived (average 3-7 years, but can live 25 years) perennial, blooms most in its second year of growth.

Medicinal Uses:

Internally (as a tincture, tea, honey, or non-ingested aromatherapy), lavender is indicated for any condition that holds its origins in tension, anxiety, or stress. Lavender increases feelings of safety, spiritual connectedness, and peace.

Anxiolytic: Excellent for anxiety, and many mood disorders. Can be taken tonically or acutely.

Nervine: Calms and relaxes the nerves. Other uses in this category include muscle spasms, tension headaches, and any condition whose root is in the body being in a sympathetic stress state.

Antidepressant: Uplifting, calming, and clearing, especially in cases of anxious or hard depression, irritability, trauma, and grief. Works well blended with other antidepressant herbs to bring the issues up and out and clear the energy. Moves stagnant energies.

Sedative: Assists in falling asleep faster and preventative of night waking.

Gastrointestinal: Colic, nausea, upset stomach, slight digestive bitter to increase bile production, digestive aid.

Externally, lavender is a wonderful first aid plant.

First Aid: One of the very best things for burns! It is gentle enough to be applied directly in essential oil form and is highly antibacterial. Apply cool lavender honey or essential oil (tea would work too in a milder manner) to burns, sunburns, and also to cleaned cuts, scrapes, eczema, bruises, sprains, bites, acne, toothache, and other owies to prevent infection and calm and heal the area.

More medicinal uses highlighted on the handout below.

Contraindications, Interactions, and Warnings: None. Safe for use with children and generally considered safe in pregnancy and lactation.

Plant Parts Used: Buds, leaves, and flowers.

Medicinal Preparations and Dosage: Internal use: As a tea, tincture, honey, aromatherapy (never ingest essential oils- for breathing in/absorbing through the skin only!). External use: As an infused oil, liniment, wash, or essential oil. It bears noting that when the essential oil is applied to the skin, it absorbs into the bloodstream and has a peak rate at 19 minutes. By 90 minutes, there is no trace of it left in the system. Taking the tincture internally lasts much longer in the body.

The name Lavender comes from the Latin verb “lavare” which means “to wash”.


Botanical Medicine for Women’s Health, Aviva Romm
Lavender Lover’s Handbook, Sarah B Badger



Plant Profile: Creosote Bush

Botanical Name: Larrea tridentata, Larrea iridentata

Common Names: Creosote Bush (most commonly), Shegoi (Pima), A-tu-kul (Cahuilla), Greasewood, Guamis, Gobernadora, Hediondilla (Mexico), sometimes incorrectly referred to as Chaparral, and many other names from various Native American tribes (the O’odham, Shoshone, Kiwaiisu, Papago, Diegueno, Yavapai, and more all have names for this plant)

Family: Zygophyllaceae (Caltrop)

Energetics: moist, grounding

Primary Constituents: Flavonoids, nordihydroguaiaretic acid (NDGA), amino acids, resins, volatile oils, saponins, triterpenes, lignans, alpha-pinene, cobalt, limonene, gossypetin, betapinene

Actions: Aromatic, antifungal, antibacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, anti-rheumatic, antioxidant, analgesic, expectorant, anticancer, emetic, antitumor, blood purifier, anthelmintic

Field ID and Growing Habits:
Found in the deserts of the southwestern United States and Mexico, this highly aromatic shrub, once established, is very drought-tolerant and can be extremely long-lived (hundreds to several thousands of years). The small, yellow and curled five-petaled flowers bloom throughout the year after the rains. The bright green leaves are very waxy and small. The highly resinous waxes serve to protect the plant from water evaporation in the dry, high heat conditions in which the Creosote Bush lives. Each single leaf splits at the base to make what looks like two tiny leaves, to help maximize water retention. The leaves are bitter to the taste. The plant has a grounding, earthy, strongly resinous smell, like desert rain. The flowers mature into small fruits producing a single white puffball, containing five seeds. This plant is capable of reproducing both vegetatively and sexually. It needs a lot of oxygen, and aeration in the soil is important. It has a shallow taproot and several lateral secondary roots. It can continue growing new stems from its root crown as the old stems die off, regenerating itself as well as creating offshoots that may form their own bush. This sometimes creates rings of clone plants from the same parent thousands of years old. As it is one of the few things alive in its desert climate, it shelters many creatures. Creosote Bush hosts the small insect Tachardiella larreae, which produces lac (a gummy substance), which itself also has many historical uses.

Medicinal Uses:

Creosote Bush has been used for thousands of years for many uses by Native American tribes of the arid regions of northern M ́ xico and the Southwestern United States. As it was one of the few herbs available to many desert tribes, it was relied upon and used for so many ailments that it is near impossible to cite them all here. Creosote Bush is recorded to have been used in traditional medicine to treat more than 50 illnesses.

Anti-microbial: Demonstrates anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-viral properties, and is used in cases of STDs, HIV & AIDS, cold sores, herpes, and other venereal diseases, and tuberculosis, chicken pox, tooth decay, and fungal infections of the skin.

Parasites: Externally used as a wash or bath for skin parasites. Taken as a weak bitter tea for internal parasites. May help with diarrhea if parasites are causing factor.

Anti-inflammatory: Oil or salve used for arthritic joints and rheumatism. Aids in relief of dysmenorrhea.

Anti-oxidant: Studies have shown anti-cancer and anti-tumor properties from the major lignan found in Creosote Bush, nordihydroguaiaretic acid (NDGA).

Lymphatic: Cleansing to the blood and lymphatic system.

Respiratory Conditions: Steams used for pulmonary and bronchial illnesses. Colds, bronchitis, coughs, and influenza.

Gynaecologic Problems: Traditionally used for both fertility (above ground) and contraception (roots), dysmenorrhea, menstrual pains, and post-parturient inflammation.

Skin Conditions: Can have a healing effect on eczema, psoriasis, fungal infections, snakebites and insect bites, burns, skin sores and wounds.

Liver, Kidney, and Gallbladder Systems: Used for stones of the gallbladder and kidneys, for kidney pain and cystitis, and diseases of the liver.

Contraindications, Interactions, and Warnings:
Overuse may result in toxicity associated with hepatic or renal problems, particularly if at the same time using pharmaceuticals potentially damaging to the liver or kidneys, and taking Creosote Bush in a nontraditional form. Avoid using concurrently with epinephrine, or with anticoagulant and antiplatelet drugs. May interfere with MAO inhibitor activity.

Plant Parts Used: Leaves, flowers, stems

Medicinal Preparations and Dosage:
This herb is not to be used in high concentrations or for extended periods of time. Traditional uses as a weak tea, external oil, or wash, have not shown negative side effects, but adverse effects have been reported in people taking Creosote Bush in capsule form, and I do not recommend taking it in capsules or in any highly concentrated form internally. The strong bitter taste of the tea should stop you from any potential overdose. Internal use: Weak infusion (bitter tea), up to 3x/day, for no more than 3 weeks. External use: As an oil, poultice, or tincture. Water infusions used as an external wash or bath. Also used in steams.


There is an O’odham legend, similar to other local Native American tribe’s legends, about Creosote Bush that says when Earthmaker made the world, a ball of dirt in Earthmaker’s hand sprouted a Creosote Bush. Then the first animal was created, the creosote lac scale insect, whose resinous lac was used to hold the world together.


The southern Cali desert and my Creosote Bush friends!

Journal of Ethnopharmacology Review: Larrea tridentata (Creosote bush), an abundant plant of Mexican and US-American deserts and its metabolite nordihydroguaiaretic acid by Silvia Arteaga, Adolfo Andrade-Cetto, Ren ́ C ́ rdenas

Creosote Bush Monograph, by Armando González Stuart, Ph.D.


Plant Profile: Calendula



Materia Medica: Calendula

Common Names: Calendula, Pot marigold, Marigold (though not related to Tagetes genus marigolds), Sun Bride, Water Dragon

Botanical name: Calendula officinalis

Family: Asteraceae

Energeticswarm, dry, joyful, supportive

Tropism: Skin, Lymph

ActionsAnti-inflammatory, lymphagogue, vulnerary, anti-fungal, bacteriostatic, emmenagogue, cholagogue, immunostimulant, anti-viral, anti-oxidant, febrifuge, astringent, stimulant, diaphoretic

Primary Constituents: Flavanoids, carotenoids, triterpenes, resin

Field ID and Growing Habits: Enjoys most soils, easy to grow garden plant. It has long, light emerald green leaves and bright yellow to orange flowers. Short-lived perennial in very warm climates, but most commonly grown as an annual. Grows fast and begins blooming quickly. Produces lots of flowers during its life cycle, for as long as the sun is still shining strong.

Medicinal Uses:

Skin- This is where Calendula is Queen. Speeds wound healing. Reduces infections in open wounds of any type- cuts, burns, viral infections. Dries damp wounds, and is bacteriostatic- contains the bacteria, keeping the wound clean, while stimulating lymph and immune function. Studies have shown it also helps the body produce collagen proteins, which are used to heal skin and connective tissue. Topical applications include rashes, stings, wounds, burns, sunburns, abrasions, swellings, eczema, acne, surgical wounds, leg ulcers, scars and stretch marks, chicken pox, cold sores, genital herpes sores, bacterial vaginosis, dermatitis, candidiasis, athlete’s foot and other fungal infections.

Lymphatic- Acute or chronically swollen lymph nodes: respiratory infection, localized infection, stagnation of the glands, and tonsillitis. Helps prevent infection through stimulating the lymphatic system. Assists the immune system by gently cleansing the glands.

Immune System- As used internally, often in foods, teas, or broths, Calendula stimulates the immune system- possibly through its cleansing action on the lymphatics, and perhaps to a lesser degree, by assisting the joyful will of the emotions to be healthy.

Gastrointestinal- Commonly used to help heal esophageal irritation from GERD, inflammatory bowel disease, and stomach and intestinal (gastric and duodenal) ulcers.

Anti-inflammatory- Improves blood circulation, thereby helping move blood through and from an inflamed area, assisting in healing and pain relief. Calendula is applied to the skin to reduce pain and swelling as a result of inflammation. Used for superficial inflammatory conditions such as varicose veins, hemorrhoids, acne, and conjunctivitis.

Muscles– Used for muscle spasms, possibly because of its blood moving properties.

Gums and mouth- Used for treating sore throat and mouth (as a gargle), canker sores, periodontal disease, cracking lips as seen in cases of cheilitis, thrush, sore and bleeding gums.

Emmenagogue- Has a very mild effect on the menses when they are sluggish or in the case of amenorrhea.

Emotional Health- Calendula can have a mild cheering effect on the emotions. Helps bring about more “sunshine” in one’s life. For use as an antidepressant, use in conjunction with other antidepressant herbs.

Parts used: Whole flowers. Both the resin of the flower head and the petal florets are valued medicinally. Fresh or dried. Leaves are sometimes added to salads as well and may have some of the resinous compounds.

Preparation/ Dosage:

Internal tincture: 1:2 95% 1-2 droppersfuls up to 4x/day. Generally considered safe for children as well, but reduce the dosages. Infusion: about 1-3 Tablespoons dried flowers in 8 ounces of water, three times a day. In foods (fresh or dried, in soups, salads, juiced, etc), and topically as a poultice, compress, tincture, toothpaste, rinse, powder, infused oil, in the bath, in salves, balms, and lotions, and many other creative ways to use it.

Contraindications, Interactions, Warnings:  May increase drowsiness when taken with sedatives. Since it has a slight emmenagogue effect, avoid internal use during pregnancy.




Plant Profile: Goldenrod

Common Name: Goldenrod

Botanical Name: Solidago spp.

Family: Asteraceae (Daisy)

Energetics: Feminine, sunny, warm, cheerful, clearing, drying, air

Tropism: Kidneys. Also upper respiratory, skin, mucous membranes.

Primary Constituents: Flavonoids, phenolic glycosides, saponins, volatile oils, tannins

Diuretic, bitter, astringent, hemostatic, alterative, anti-inflammatory, hepatic, aromatic, styptic, vulnery, anticattarhal, anti-fungal, anthelmintic, analgesic, diaphoretic, antiseptic, antioxidant, hypotensive, mucolytic, expectorant, febrifuge, stimulant, renal cleanser.

Field ID and growing habits:
There are well over 45 species of goldenrod in North America. Only one species is native to Europe, that being S. virga-aurea. As they all act in similar ways and are generally difficult to tell from one another, I have not separated them here. This perennial typically has long stalks reaching anywhere from one to seven feet high depending on the species, although a few have less of a stalking habit and more of a twining habit. They are found largely in sunny fields, and even in dappled shade, in poor soil conditions all across North America. They all have brilliant yellow flowers, with exception of S. bicolor, which has silvery-white flowers. Most have a resinous, piney flavor that has a hint of bitter, and similar mild scent. S. odora and its varieties in addition to the resinous flavor have a stronger anise-like taste, and is usually preferred for use in teas. In general, the Solidagos have thin, long green leaves coming off a solid stalk that may or may not heavily branch, and cluster(s) of small yellow flowers usually at the top. They bloom summer through fall, varying between species. Being highly resinous, and therefore too moist and heavy for the wind, they are solely insect pollinated and share their nectar with many pollinating insects. They are valuable to bugs in many ways, including housing spiders, praying mantis eggs, and lace bugs, feeding caterpillars, bees, wasps, and butterflies, and more. In turn they also provide food for animals that eat these bugs, and medicine for humans.

Medicinal Uses:
Goldenrod is indicated for all problems of the urinary system. As seen acting on the kidneys, it helps replenish chi, improve low renal function, clear infection, flush stones, cleanse, and acts as a general tonic. As a diuretic, and having a drying, thinning action on the mucous membranes, it helps clear the bladder of stones and infection, and assists in the flushing of the whole urinary system. Its mild antiseptic quality may be an aid in the clearing of these infections as well. Improving the elimination of toxins may help improve skin conditions, such as acne. Historically it has been used topically for wound repair for its antiseptic and styptic qualities, hence the name Solidago, to make solid. Also indicated in upper respiratory problems for wet coughs when there is too much mucus and not enough movement. It is used as a preventative measure in environmental allergies, and in acute situations in the case of cat allergies. Goldenrod is helpful in general exhaustion and improving cheerful vitality.

Contraindications, Interactions, and Warnings:
Because the diuretic effect causes water and not salt to be excreted from the body, avoid in cases of endema resulting in heart or kidney failure.

Plant Parts Used:
Whole above ground plant may be used. Flowers contain the most volatile oils and are used in tincturing. Leaves most commonly used in teas.

Medicinal Preparations and Dosage:
Fresh plant tincture: 2-4 mL, 1-3x daily, depending on condition and reason for taking it. Dried plant tea: 3 teaspoons dried leaves/flowers, steeped in a cup of boiled water 15 minutes, taken 1-4 times a day. Can also be eaten fresh, but has a strong pungent flavor.

My experiences with Goldenrod
The Book of Herbal Wisdom, Matthew Wood
Desktop Guide to Herbal Medicine, Brigitte Mars
Class with CoreyPine
…and many more…