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A Resource Guide
The healing power of plants
A resource guide
There is a tremendous amount of information available on the Internet and in books exploring
different issues raised in the film. Our goal in creating this resource guide is to make it easy for viewers
to act while the film is still fresh in your mind - not to re-create the wheel! We hope these handouts
and questions will get you started and inspire you to seek out the herbalists and teachers in your own
The most important take home message from
is, as Bill Mitchell and Rosemary
Gladstar and so many others in the film say, to step outside, spend time in your garden, in the woods,
in the meadow outside of town. Be grateful and open your heart to the mystery that is around us all,
each moment.
These handouts have been generously contributed by community herbalists Dana Woodruff of
Dandelioness Herbals, Sandra Lory of Mandala Botanicals, and Larken Bunce. Vermont Center for
Integrative Herbalism. Unless otherwise notes, the photographs are by Sandra Lory.
Table of Contents
Making your own Medicine: An Overview
Drying herbs
How to make a Medicinal Tea
How to make a tincture
How to make an herb infused oil
Herbal Salves and Balm
Herbal Remedies to have on Hand
Immune support
Garlic: an all-star winter remedy
Managing fevers
8 easy steps to digestive health
Herbal support for anxiety
Herbal support for depression
Herbal first aid kit
Medicinal uses of Culinary Herbs
Herbal Book List
Gardening Resources
Mail-Order Bulk Herbs and Supplies
Seed Companies
Growing and Making your own Medicine - Overview
by Dana Woodruff,
Dandelioness Herbals
elderflower syrup | Diane Mateo
In this fast paced culture of quick fixes, herbal
remedies are being marketed in highly concentrated,
standardized pills and liquids, as replacements for
pharmaceuticals. Making your own herbal remedies from
the whole plant is simple and for the same price as a
store-bought preparation, you could make enough for
you and many more. By preparing herbal remedies for
yourself and your circle of friends and family, you are
continuing a long history of using herbs for food and
medicine. You are taking your health and healing into
your own hands and encouraging self- and community-
sufficiency, which is incredibly empowering. Also, when
you make remedies by hand, you are infusing these
remedies with your love and intention, which will make
good, strong medicine.
Harvesting Your Medicine
by Dana L Woodruff~ Community herbalist,
Dandelioness Herbals,
Vermont ©2010
Once you’ve properly identified a plant that you’d like to harvest, check out the surrounding land.
Is there a busy road nearby? Are you close to the town dump, fields sprayed with pesticides, or
another source of toxins? Do the plants look healthy and vital? Are there lots of pollinators buzzing
around the plants? If the land and plants feel good, you can begin gathering. There are many
traditional practices for harvesting plants. Some people find the largest plant - the grandmother plant
- and ask its permission to harvest. If you receive a yes, you can proceed, harvesting the surrounding
plants while leaving the grandmother plant alone. You can also sit with the plant, observe and listen,
draw or photograph it, sing to it, or you can just get down to business (i.e. you’re bleeding and need
the yarrow pronto!). The important thing is to harvest with gratitude, appreciative that the plant is
sharing its life force with us. You can show your appreciation in whatever way feels good to you: you
can leave an offering: a piece of your hair, water or spit, a song, a pinch of an herb or a simple thanks.
Plants are affected by the time of day and the seasons, changing throughout the month, as well as
throughout the year. Like the pulling of the ocean tides, the energy of the plant shifts, affected by the
lunar cycle. The full moon is the optimum time to harvest aboveground parts (leaf, flower, stem, and
bark) and the new moon is the time for harvesting the roots. In general, the aboveground parts of
plants are best harvested in the spring and summer, before or during flowering. Roots are best
harvested early in spring or late in the fall, when the plants’ energy is down in its roots. The ideal time
of day for harvesting is after the morning dew has evaporated, and before the full strength of the sun
has potentially wilted the plant in late afternoon. The best harvesting weather is a clear, sunny day,
since rain can wash away some of the very constituents you’re hoping to gather. When harvesting,
you want to be sure to take only what you need from each plant.
When gathering leaves, flowers, stems, and bark, you want to take the most vital parts of the
plants. Find healthy leaves, not ones chewed by insects. One way to harvest is to pinch off the new
growth - the top leaves and flowers or buds - which stimulates the plant’s growth. Another way is to
harvest the entire stem, cutting it close to the ground or just the top few inches. Having a good knife
helps you to harvest the parts that you want, and to not harm the plant by pulling or tearing. Roots
are potent medicine and should be harvested with respect since the plant must be killed for its root to
be gathered. When we harvest roots in the fall, the plant has time to flower and go to seed. This
ensures more plants for the future. Some slower-growing roots can be gathered, and its new growth
or buds can be replanted after you’ve harvested what you need.
When harvesting roots, you want to loosen the earth around the plant with a shovel or trowel, so
that you can lift the whole root system out gently. Some plants with taproots are difficult to harvest
whole because they are so rooted that they usually break before letting go of their hold, such as
Burdock. Once you’ve dug the roots, remember to fill the space back in with soil.
Drying herbs
by Dana L Woodruff~ Community herbalist,
Dandelioness Herbals,
Vermont ©2010
When you gather the whole aboveground part of
the plant, including the stem, you can dry them in
bunches. You want these bunches small enough for air
to circulate so the plant can dry thoroughly. You can tie
the bunches with string or use rubber bands, which will
adjust as the water evaporates and the stems get smaller.
Hang the plants out of direct sun with good air
circulation. If your indoor space is damp or doesn’t have
good ventilation, cars make great drying rooms. In my
backseat I tie a string between the handholds and hang
the plants on the line with paperclips bent to create two
hooks. The rubber band or string can also be looped
around the line. If the weather’s not rainy, leave your windows down a bit for air circulation, and
either park in the shade or drape cloth up to protect the plants from direct sunlight. Leaves,
flowers, stems, and bark can also be dried by laying them in baskets or on screens (nylon, not
metal). Depending on the weather and the herb's moisture content, your herbs may be completely
dry in just a couple days, while others may take several days.
For drying roots, you first want to wash the soil off of them. When washing, remember
not to use water that’s too hot. As an herbalist I once apprenticed with told me, “We’re washing
roots, not making tea!” Some folks choose to dry roots whole, but I like to slice roots with knife
while they are fresh and easier to cut. You can dry your whole roots or root slices in baskets, on
screens, or in the oven, as described above.
Dried herbs should be stored in airtight
containers, preferably glass jars. To help the dried herbs
maintain their vitality, store them in a dry area away
from direct sunlight and extreme temperatures. Be sure
to label your jars and bags! Really! Just do it! I know
every harvest is so special that we’ll never forget it, but
you’ll be so happy when you don’t have to make a ‘what
pile of herbs. Many herb books will tell you to
use your dried herbs within 6 months or a year, and your
dried roots within 3 years. However, I know an herbalist
who comes from a long line of medicine makers who
said she has herbs and roots that are many years old and
still good medicine. Use your judgment and your senses
(sight, smell, taste) to decide whether an herb or root
still possesses its vital essence.
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