Rosemary Series #2 – Your Hair

RosemaryThe tradition of using Rosemary as a hair rinse or Rubbing rosemary oil into the scalp originated in the Mediterranean long ago. But does it work?

It does according to Valerie Ann Worwood, in her book, “The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy,” She recommends adding Rosemary essential oil to shampoo, conditioner, or a hair rinse. She claims that Rosemary’s oils help to stimulate cell division, dilate blood vessels and thus, stimulate hair follicles to grow hair.

A woman who fretted over her thinning hair attended my Rosemary dinner workshop where she learned how to use it for a scalp condition and hair growth. A couple of months later I saw her at another dinner workshop and she showed me new growth and a cleared scalp.

If you’ve been using Rosemary for you hair and seen results please let us know in the comments area. Here’s where you can find out more about how to prepare it for your hair.


The Rosemary Series – #1 Memory

Do you have trouble remembering everything you read about an herb? There’s so much to learn about Rosemary. I was just about to write a long article on it when I stumbled across a brilliant suggestion – serve up little bite-sized nuggets instead. So much easier to write, and to remember!

So we’re going to try this out. I’ll post regular short memory nuggets about Rosemary. If you follow along you’ll probably learn a lot more than by eating the whole meal at once. Just try to digest one nugget at a time! I’ll also add a photo that can easily be shared containing the main points. Please let me know if you like this idea and share your own thoughts and experiences to round it out a bit more.

Rosemary Memory (1)

Long known as an aid to memory, researchers have started conducting clinical trials to find out if its true. The short answer is, yes, it’s true. Not only does it aid memory but is considered a potential therapeutic agent to prevent and treat dementia. It helps with focus and improves both short and long term memory while lifting the spirit (an added flavor).

One randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blinded, repeated-measures crossover study titled, Short-term study on the effects of rosemary on cognitive function in an elderly population , with men over age 75  doses of dried Rosemary leaf that approximated what would be taken as part of the diet at near normal levels (750 mg) improved speed of memory but high doses impaired memory! So the take home is, if you skip a day of using the herb in cuisine, a cup of Rosemary tea or standard doses of tincture would keep the old brain cells lively.

An animal study sheds some light on the biochemistry behind Rosemary’s effects and concludes;

Rosemary, as part of a diet and medication can be a valuable proposal for the prevention and treatment of dementia…

The study suggests that RE [Rosemary Extract] led to improved long-term memory in rats, which can be partially explained by its inhibition of AChE activity in rat brain.




So we’ve seen positive results with Rosemary leaf and the extract, what about the essential oil?

This study compared Lavender and Rosemary essential oils. Both oils produced objective effects on mood and cognition. While Lavender improved mood, it flunked in the tests for improving working memory and it impaired reaction times for both memory and attention based tasks. Rosemary, on the other hand, “produced a significant enhancement of performance for overall quality of memory and secondary memory factors.” In this study speed of memory for the Rosemary group wasn’t as good as for the controls. If you want to experiment with this make yourself a Rosemary Memory Stick. Put some rock salt in a very small bottle that’s comfortable to hold up to your nose. Add about 20 drops of therapeutic grade Rosemary essential oil to it. Shake it. When you need a mental boost, inhale the aroma from this special bottle for about 3 minutes. Let us know how it works for you!

Ebola – An Herbalist’s Point of View (new series)

This excerpt comes from a new series I’m writing that appears at the Ozark Herbal Academy, to follow the series please subscribe to that blog, or the Academy’s newsletter.

Herbalists are accustomed to hearing the phrase, “There is no cure,” arise from conventional medical practitioners. We understand that this is the honest response from folks who are looking “in all the wrong places” for an effective treatment. If there is no vaccine, no pharmaceutical drug…it follows that there is no cure, end of story. In the case of Ebola, anyone who claims to know how to prevent or cure this disease is threatened with arrest and prosecution.

Now that Complementary Alternative Medicine (CAM) is so mainstream, I’m surprised that the threat of an emerging global pandemic — with no cure in the pharmaceutical cupboard — doesn’t have the CDC and WHO running to herbalists, Naturopaths, TCM doctors, etc. for possible treatments!

For example, this recent article on Garcinia kola tells us “…results just presented at the 16th International Botanic Congress in St Louis, Missouri, suggest that a plant widely used in traditional African medicine may contain a compound that is effective against its causative agent, the Ebola virus. Read more…

Baños y Limpias (Flower Baths) Instruction at

Join us on August 17, Sunday,  for instruction on Native American spiritual cleansing. You will not only learn this ancient technique but will benefit by participating in the ceremony.  Baños y Limpias – a practice that Aguila has performed for many years, is a technique that you can begin to use right away…take the Flower Bath home to share with loved ones!

Baños y Limpias

Aguila and Marika giving instruction on Baños y Limpias at Herbalismo

Aguila describes it this way:

Baños and Limpias have been used for thousands of years all over the world by indigenous cultures. Their purpose is to return the soul back into the body of a person that has been traumatized. In the beginning Baños (Spiritual Bath) and Limpias (Spiritual Cleanse) were a common place practice that all mothers were taught to how to do for their babies and children. In severe cases of an adult or a child that had been severely hurt, frightened or suffered a loss, such as a family member death – the village healer or shaman was summoned.

Today we are remembering and re-learning how to truly care for our bodies with healthy diets, the importance of clean air, cleanliness, healthy physical activity, natural medicine and herbs. We are remembering how vital it is to care for our spirits and minds with meditation, music, spending time in nature and protecting our environment; protecting our original sacred laws and spiritual practices.

In some places our original natural healing and spiritual practices have been suppressed for thousands of years, yet here on North American (although they were hidden for the sake of protection) they have been preserved and carried on in secret ceremonies by native indigenous healers, curanderas and shamans.

Only a few years back, the spiritual keepers from North and South America announced that the prophesied time to reveal these sacred laws and teachings of healing to the public. Humanity had arrived at a cross road and those ready to walk in balance and beauty will choose to go up the path of accelerated spiritual evolution. In order to evolve spiritually we must make healthier choices; such as choosing more natural and sustainable lifestyles.
We must remember or relearn to do spiritual healing on our spiritual bodies which have sustained trauma after trauma over our lifetime. Baños, espiritules, are a form of Limpia that will help us integrate these traumas that are encoded on our microfiche so we may stop the cycle of violence we were born into.

Please bring sack lunch and snacks. Cost of Workshop $50
It is with the intention of healing


10:00 AM: Meet outside of Round House for a short tour of Teopan ceremonial grounds and brief herstory of Rancho Arco Iris.

10:30 Meet in Round House for opening fire ceremony
Introduction: DC: Aguila and group

11AM – 12Noon: Why learn to do a Baño/Limpia?
What is a Baños/Limpia?
The Four Elements of a Bano.

12 – 1 PM: Lunch

1PM-2PM: Introduction to:
Gathering our Medicine and Gathering our Power

2 -4PM: Bano demonstration
Individual Banos
Feedback and Questions

Location: Rancho Arco Iris, Boxley, Arkansas

Registration required, leave message at 870-861-5080 and we’ll call you back with details.

Wild Kitchen – Peach and Grape Leaf

Smelling peach leaves officially launched Wild Kitchen day (held twice a month) at Rancho Arco Iris. Wild Kitchen day is about unlocking the gourmet potential of the commonly ignored plants, along with their superb abilities to heal. Peach is a great example.


Class agrees, peach leaf smells like almonds

Class agrees, peach leaf smells like almonds

While we patiently await its fruits, the leaves, twigs and bark are rarely considered. Well, we’re NOT going to eat them, true. But the leaf makes a delicious beverage that cools and calms. For those of us who enjoy our summer wines and beers, it’s a noteworthy hang-over aid, nipping nausea in the bud.

This is a plant best prepared as a cold infusion. I made a gallon of it starting in the morning and it was ready by dinner. I make it by filling a gallon jar about 1/2 full of fresh leaf, then adding spring water to fill the jar. Stir it every once in awhile. I think this cold infusion is ideal for fermenting into an herbal wine. It tastes like peaches. Just be sure you strain out the leaves and ferment only the remaining liquid.

There’s always a great deal of information to share about a plant, more than can be remembered, so I aim to pick out two key features for the class to commit to memory, amid the hour’s-worth of plant uses we cover. In the case of peach I selected its action as a cooling, relaxing nervine and it’s function as a Yin Deficiency remedy. As we discussed its other attributes I cautioned the class that one NEVER uses wilted leaves. Upon wilting the hydrocyanides convert to actual cyanide. Livestock are known to die from grazing on wilted peach leaves from a fallen branch. Additionally, for the same reason, when we make a peach tincture, we only let it sit for ten days. After ten days we can begin getting some unwanted cyanide in our tincture. Our youngster, Samuel, piped in that there were actually three things we had to remember…the third being “if you don’t make it right it can kill you”.

We went looking for grape leaves before lunch. Very tricky to identify I might add. Close by we found River Bank Grape and Fox Grape. The best time to gather grape leaves is in June with a cut off date of July 4. Aguila and I had both noticed that on July 4th our leaves still looked fresh, and undamaged. But over the next two days, to our July 6th class, they had all radically changed into the more fibrous, bug chewed look. We did find enough good leaves to brine some in a lacto-ferment and set some aside for dinner. But not enough for the wine.  The main functions I wanted them to remember about grape was it’s toning action on veins and circulatory problems and as a food, it’s high omega 3 content.

As the heat of the afternoon came on they all hiked down to the swimming hole with the cat. Reaching the pool Aguila instructed them about water moccasins sharing the pool. As if on cue, a young water moccasin lifted its head to great their arrival from the middle of the water. Fear was dispelled with further instruction how to safely share the pool, they have a swimming spot, so do the people, done in peace the snakes disappear into their privacy. For some reason the group thought this a great advertizing motto for us, “Swimming with Water Moccasins”. I’m not sure about that, but if you swim in native Arkansan waters, it’s a lesson that needs to be shared.

Building a grape leaf casserole

Building a grape leaf casserole

We took a few hours to gather more food and prepare dinner together. The menu included a soup made with Wood Nettle, a casserole of grape leaf, zucchini sticks (technically not a wild food, but ours are going wild this summer), and peach leaf infusion. I know a class is successful when folks take action on their learning right away. The next day, folks went home to make peach leaf/twig & grape leaf tinctures.

Wood Nettle Soup

This always turns out differently depending on what I have on hand. Play around with this. Begin with making a good broth as a foundation. This time I used a veggie broth powder and cooked onion and potato in it for about ten minutes. Then we added enough fresh, cleaned wood nettle leaf and stem to fill the broth with just a tad of broth remaining over the leaves. This is cooked just until the leaves wilt. Cool it down until you can blend it without blowing anything up. To this add some nutmeg to taste, Himalayan salt and plain whole milk yogurt is added and mixed together. This simple soup was a big hit.

Wood Nettle Soup, Grape Leaf Casseroe, Zucchini Sticks

Wood Nettle Soup, Grape Leaf Casseroe, Zucchini Sticks

Next Sunday we’ll zero in on the violet.

Secrets of Solomon’s Seal

The first secret you can discover for yourselves. If you check around your local health food stores and apothecaries, odds are you won’t find it. That was my experience traveling to several cities in Arkansas looking for Solomon’s Seal to help heal my spinal injury.  Since I could barely walk, locating it in the woods was out of the question. Please share your own search results with us in the comment’s section.

When I lived on Hurricane Creek I kept a patch just outside the door for emergencies, like those that cripple us. So why is it so hard to find commercially (other than online)? Folks don’t know about it, and are not asking for it!

Now that I’ve given a class on this amazing plant at FireOmEarth & Flora Roja, it’s been added to their apothecary. A few leading herbalists, like Mathew Wood and Jim McDonald, esteem it as much as I. We recognize this as one of the most dependable plants for healing damage to the musculoskeletal system.

D'Coda (left) discussing Polygonatum botany at FireOmEarth class

D’Coda (left) discussing Polygonatum botany at FireOmEarth class

Solomon’s Seal, Polygonatum spp., gripped my curiosity years ago when I read that in ancient times the Taoist monks sought it out as a spring tonic food to restore them after barren winters. Their vitality was restored by eating the spring shoots of this perennial member of the Asparagus family, Asparagaceae. Secret #2, most of your Materia Medica will have it classified as belonging to the Lily family, Liliaceae, but in 2009 it was relocated. The taste of the young shoot is compared to asparagus but that’s not enough of a reason to switch it. The latest botanical classification system, APG III, is based on genetic similarities.

I don’t advocate eating the shoot. It diminishes the development of a robust rhizome (also a good food), why not wait for the jackpot?  Besides, we can harvest the root without killing the plant (secret #3). I learned this from Jim McDonald. The rhizome, just beneath the soil, grows in a fairly straight, lumpy, line with the stem growing at the “front”. Feel under the ground, around the stem to locate the rhizome’s front and back. The front part has a bud to grow next year’s stem. The back is what you can cut and harvest, leaving the stem portion and its frontal bud to keep growing year after year. Be sure to tamp moist earth back around the plant. The rhizome’s are best taken in the fall.

(Secret #4) Do you have a shady part of your garden where you’d like to grow beautiful ornamental food? This plant is not only nutritious and medicinal but beautiful, fragrant, perennial, relatively disease and pest free. It’s the perfect solution for shady garden woes.  Don’t be overly concerned about which species to select since they all seem to have similar properties. Polygonatum multiflora is the European species. The most common American species is Polygonatum biflorum. (Be careful not to confuse with Polygonum, a completely different plant genus)

Now then, let’s move on to some of its healing virtues. As usual with medicinal plants, there are too many to remember so I suggest you just aim to remember these two key areas: Musculoskeletal (secret #5) and Yin Deficiency (Secret #6)

Read More…


The Wild Kitchen and Simplifying Blogging

wild kitchenFirst of all, I have too many blogs. Without intending to, I’ve let this one drift off into history, but people keep subscribing to it even though I haven’t been writing here!!

So, I’ve stopped one of the school’s blogs in order to come back here to share about Ozark herbs. Ok, I did just start yet another blog (eyyyy) but somehow the two seem nicely matched. At Rancho Arco Iris, where I live, we decided we needed our own blog separate from the nonprofit, Arco Iris Earth Care Project. Separate from the herb school (Herbal Coaching Community) and separate from personal blogs. I invite you over to that one for more of an at-home kind of sharing . Its located here. 

Its the place to go for our Wild Kitchen updates. As much as I love teaching at all of the great venues we have now in Arkansas, having people come to our home is really my favorite.( Even if it does mean I have to clean the house).

On to the Wild Kitchen news. We’re having folks out twice a month, on a Sunday, for a day of foraging, lessons on medicinal & nutritional properties, making plant medicines, foraging for and preparing dinner, swimming in our spring-fed swimming hole, working in the garden (optional) and more. We’re very excited! Our first event is July 6. Here’s a direct link to that Kitchen day.

I’ll be giving a workshop July 13 on Burdock in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. A full day with the morning session held at the botanical sanctuary located at FireOmEarth and the afternoon session at the Flora Roja Community Acupuncture Center. For info on that visit the class schedule on our school’s website.

Other newsy kind of stuff, a totally new super version of our course, “Introduction to Herbalism” is in the works and its going to be free for awhile. I’ll let you know when its ready and you’ll also be able to get a pdf of the Course Outline to see if its for you. Stay tuned loves and thanks for all your support.

Mole Removal At Home

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Find out how to remove moles, especially moles on your face. Mole removal at home is possible, but be sure to follow this advice to reduce the chance of mole scarring.

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HCC Wellness Walk-About the Web Aug 28, 2012

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This is the first -walk about- sharing a day’s discoveries on the web that educate about herbs and wellness. It will be a regular series. 

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Natural Healing Remedies: 10 Foods That Fight Inflammation And Pain

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Natural Healing Remedies: 10 Foods That Fight Inflammation And Pain…


Beginning with Blueberries: Blueberries are excellent anti-inflammatory foods. They increase the amounts of compounds called heat-shock proteins that decrease as people age. When heat-shock proteins are in short supply inflammation, pain and tissue damage is the result.


9 more to go….

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