Sunday, July 10, 2011
10th International Herb Symposium: Massachusetts
Speakers included Susun Weed, Michael Tierra, David Winston, Phyllis Light, Michael Friedman, Mark Blumenthal, Paul Stamets, CoreyPine Shane, Todd Elliott, Margi Flint, jim mcdonald, and many others.
I’ll only feature a couple of classes in this entry, but keep in mind the amount of information received in this 3 day conference was intense! Also, stay tuned for a special guest blog entry from herbhusband! He concentrated on medicinal mushrooms and their benefits to our ecosystem as well as on the amazing work of the honey bee.
The Dirty Dozen: 12 plant roots and their benefits with Matthias and Andrea Reisen of Healing Spirits Herb Farm and Education Center.
When I decided to take this class, I thought we would pass around baskets of dried and fresh roots and review their common uses, etc. Then, I see Andrea Reisen clinging to a pitch fork and the very tall Matthias telling us all – we are going to have class, but it won’t be in here! Off to the campus landscapes we go! The goal? To find 12 plants known for their medicinal qualities, specifically their roots, naturally growing on and around campus. Here are some of the plants we found:
Barberry's woody root and stems contain alkalines, most beneficially, berberine. Berberine has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. When the woody exterior is scraped off with a knife, the inner bark reveals the bright yellow color synonymous with berberine. The more tender roots can be scraped, dried 75-80 percent and tinctured.
#3) Poke Weed
#4) Greater Celandine (Chelidonium majus)
#5) Solomon’s Seal
#6) Japanese Knotweed
#7) Mullein Root
Mullein is a bi-annual and best harvested when not in flower. Mullein root has been used with older people who have trouble with urinary incontinence. It can be made as a tea or tincture and it was discussed during the walk that it would be ideal for nursing homes to serve as a tea. David Winston also uses it for face pain associated with Palsy.
Adaptogens: Herbs for Strength, Stamina and Stress Relief with David Winston
"What herbalists (know) is too good to be kept in a corner some place - there are so many things we can do to help medicine work better. Specificity must increase among herbalists. Good herbal medicine is to learn to treat the person not the disease. Stop thinking about diseases and start thinking about the plant, the person and the timing." David Winston
The idea of adaptogens dates back to around 1947 and was coined by Dr. Breckman who defined adaptogens as plants with non specific, general operation which have a normalizing effect on the body with little to no side effects. Breckman is considered the "father of adaptogen research".
Adaptogens, taken over time, assist with a wide variety of conditions but specifically increases our body's ability to deal with stresses and conditions our body to have a more appropriate response to the stress.
David Winston was emphatic about herbalists needing to boost their knowledge of how herbs work within the body; increasing the science element in addition to the work herbalists are doing around the world.
All adaptogens have antioxidant activity but not all antioxidants are adaptogens.
Panossian expanded research on what adaptogens do. Panossian and Wagner found a cellular mechanism for adaptogenic activity. Adaptogens activate chaperone molecules know as heat shock proteins (this inhibits the mitochondria and ATP production). Essentially, what occurs is the "engines of our cells" become more effective in responding to stress hormones released in the body. Adaptogens prime the body and prevent the effects of stress from damaging our cellular machinery.
Microbial endocrinology found increases in stress hormone levels can cause us to be more susceptible to infection and disease. Adaptogens can help prevent bacterial infections by decreasing cortisol levels.
David Winston discussed these well researched adaptogens in class:
- American Ginseng root (Panax quinquefolius)
The wildcrafted root is endangered. Please avoid promoting and harvesting and only purchase by ethical plant growers. American ginseng is neutral and warming. Good for adrenal exhaustion.
- Ashwagahdha root (Withania somnifera)
This can be grown in the US. It's an annual and in one year, it produces a good root to harvest from. Likes hotter drier areas in the garden. If you can grow tomatoes, peppers and eggplant, David says you can grow this plant.
Native to India, it is one of the calming adaptogens and used by many to assist with generalized anxiety disorder. Used also for autoimmune muscular conditions where the connective tissues and muscles are affected. Not to be given to people with hyper thyroid or anyone on thyroid medications. It is high in iron.
- Asian ginseng root (Panax ginseng)
This root comes in two forms: red and white. The white has been dried and the red has been steamed. Red is more stimulating and white is warming. This root is really too stimulating for most people, so the American ginseng is better suited. Asian ginseng really shouldn't be used by most people since it is over stimulating. This root is reserved for those who are completely depleted and exhausted to the point they can't function at any point in the day. Winston says it's been used for old men to build up vital energy.
- Eleuthero bark (Eleutherococcus senticosis)
Used mostly for younger people under temporary stress. It is one of the mildest adaptogens. Best in fluid extract. It is good for stressed out Type A's and good when taken over time. I'm actually taking this now (as I'm a renowned stressed out Type A, lol) and after about a week, I really started feeling brighter. I'm also easily over stimulated so I wanted to start with a milder adaptogen. I'm very happy with my Eleuthero tincture.
- Licorice rhizome (Glycyrrhiza glabra, G. uralensis)
Increases potassium and decreases sodium in the body when taken. Good in small amounts. Helps with irritated bowels from IBS or IBD. Good for dry coughs and animal dander sensitivities.
- Holy basil (Ocimum sanctum, O. gratissimum)
Mildly stimulating, enhances focus and decreasing brain fog. Winston referred to this herb as "lovely". He also said it is taken to assist with seasonal allergies, stagnant depression or situational depression that becomes permanent due to an event that a person can't seem to get past. Good with rosemary and rose petals for instances like this.
It was really fun to attend the International Herbalists Ball with the Eames Brothers Band. A special Kava punch was served, a specialty by Rosemary Gladstar, and everyone was having a sensational time.
If you ever have an opportunity to attend this event, or any other herb conference, you'll surely have a great time!