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It has been almost a year since I have added to this blog, as I have been working on my forthcoming book on Cultivating Medicinal Herbs! In an ideal world, we would each have our personal list of top ten garden herbs, tailored to our particular climate and health concerns. Bent over the moist earth, we gathered up the crimson and golden fruit into our hungry bags, chatting about life as old friends will, with meandering topics and understood nuances. Lady’s slipper orchids have a commanding presence—their  inflated blooms are captivating to the point of heady swooning and inspiring colorful prose.
The reasons for growing plants in containers are many:  it often provides the sole means for growing herbs or vegetables when tending a garden is simply not possible, or when the available ground is contaminated. This January we have two great classes for you Nature's Pharmacy and Personality Typing and Relationships. Learn how herbs work on the energetic and biochemical levels, how a plant’s taste, smell, shape, color, texture, form and habitat provide clues to its uses.
Learn personality typing and emotional iris analysis and how these systems help you quickly get an idea about a person's personality so you can council them on how to balance their life.
This incredible reference offers helpful strategies for solving health problems naturally and serves as a practial reference for herbalists or health professionals who are trying to help clients. This online course will teach you the core ideas you need to really understand natural healing. If you match three or more of the above criteria, you’re one of the 25 million Americans who could be medically diagnosed with this problem.
Metabolic syndrome involves cellular resistance to insulin, a peptide hormone that regulates carbohydrate and fat metabolism and enables cells to utilize glucose. First, the body usually starts storing the excess glucose as fat, causing weight gain around the mid-section. Having insulin resistance greatly increases your risk of high blood pressure, arteriosclerosis, heart attacks and stroke. High levels of insulin cause other problems as well, such as increasing inflammation, increasing water retention and depressing neurotransmitters in the brain, which contributes to depression. The first step one has to take to overcome metabolic syndrome is to change one’s diet by eliminating all simple sugars and starches.
Three, eat a lot of non-starchy vegetables like zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, lettuce, great beans, Swiss chard, celery and so forth.
Stress plays a role in the development of insulin resistance by stimulating the release of cortisol from the adrenal glands. 5-HTP can also be helpful for sleep and may also help reduce your cravings for sugar and other simple carbohydrates. In addition to these lifestyle changes, supplements to overcome insulin resistance and balance blood sugar can be helpful.
Nutrients that help overcome insulin resistance include alpha lipoic acid, omega-3 essential fatty acids and vitamin D3.
Far from major cities and surrounded by mountains and the beauty of nature, Blue Otter is nestled between Mt.
Our full-time, four month program allows students the opportunity to immerse themselves in the world of plants and medicine while they prepare for clinical practice in herbal medicine. At Blue Otter an energetic approach to viewing the world, plants and healing infuses all of our teachings; whether we are talking about medicine making, working with clients or physiology.
In addition to planting in the creek and our woods, we have a half acre garden with many, many medicinal herbs for students to get to know and have the opportunity to tend. Sarah Holmes interviews herbalist Margi Flint about back health and working with back pain. Sarah Holmes interviews Robin Wall Kimmerer about her new book Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants. Listen in to Sarah Holmes as she talks about honoring and connecting with our ancestors, how this can help us to strengthen community, and the plants that can support us in this work. Sarah Holmes interviews Susan Leopold of United Plant Savers about their conservation efforts for American Ginseng. The Blue Otter School of Herbal Medicine is located in the mountains of Northern California, here showing Mt. The Blue Otter School of Herbal Medicine provides a unique learning experience blending grounded knowledge of the plants with an understanding of energy and self. In order to attain balance, the mind, body, spirit, family, community and the greater connection to all must be in harmony.
Our goal is to train individuals in the Native American tradition – providing knowledge and skills, and nurturing the individual student’s talents. The plant people were the first beings, our elders and teachers, and hold the oldest knowledge. Many people ask us, ‘Why Blue Otter?’ We spent a good deal of time thinking of a name as we were envisioning our school.
We had been teaching for many years prior to the creation of this school, but this was a new level of immersion into the world of plants that we wanted to create for our students. At the Blue Otter School of Herbal Medicine we offer a variety of learning experiences from our intensive, four month certification program to classes from 10 days, one weekend or one evening. We approach teaching from a Native American, energetic perspective; that learning as well as healing needs to engage us on physical, emotional and spiritual levels. The Blue Otter School of Herbal Medicine is located in the mountains of Siskiyou County in Northern California. The Herbal Highway is a weekly radio show that is dedicated to providing free herbal information to the public.
The Herbal Highway was Karyn Sander’s vision which she now maintains through the support of Sarah Holmes who also hosts the show. At the Blue Otter School of Herbal Medicine I was able to truly step into the worlds of plants. Join Sarah Holmes as she interviews DeAnna Batdorff, herbalist and Ayurvedic practitioner, about self care.
If you wish to study herbal medicine in the comfort of your home, at your own pace, or in a classroom, explore Rogers’ School of Herbal Medicine. The books may be bought alone for self-study, or used as texts in a classroom herbal course, or at some point as an on-line study program.

This volume contains medicinal plants useful for various circulatory conditions including h ypertension, hyperlipidemia, congestive heart failure, varicose veins, arteriosclerosis and a wide range of cardiac disorders. This volume contains a number of herbs useful for inflammatory conditions of the joints , muscles, ligaments and other related problems such as autoimmune diseases including Sjogren’s syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, etc. Some of the plants looked at in detail are alfalfa, arnica, bleeding heart, celery, oak, corydalis, dogwood, feverfew, fireweed, goutweed, stinging and hemp nettle, pine, poplar, willow, yucca and various false and true Solomon seal and their cousins.
This volume on medicinal herbs contains plants that are useful for various conditions of the kidneys, bladder and prostate. Herbs in this volume are specifically related to the health of various glands including pituitary, pineal, thyroid, parathyroid, as well as adrenals and pancreas.
This volume concentrates on the female reproductive system, with a plethora of herbs that assist in “normalizing” the menstrual cycle, pregnancy and childbirth, and both peri-menopause and the crone stage of life.
Herbs covered include amur bark, andrographis, balsam root, black eyed susan, cedar, chicory, Echinacea, fleeceflower, hemp, woad, lomatium, larch, sea buckthorn, self heal, spilanthes, yew, wild indigo, chaga and usnea.
Herbs include astragalus, devil’s club, eleutherococcus, American ginseng, goji berry, gymnostemma, wild licorice, maral root, prickly spine, wild sarsaparilla, spikenard, rhodiola, and schisandra. In this volume you will find bloodroot, borage, burdock, calendula, chickweed, cucumber, red clover, comfrey, evening primrose, violet, various mallows, impatiens, luffa, and poison ivy. Explore Your Needs; Indulge Your Desires  As you peer into the future, imagine how you might interact with your dream garden. I am hoping to release the book this spring, and self-publish through a crowd funding campaign.
My hope is that the information below inspires you, as jumping board of sorts, in creating your own unique dream medicinal herb garden. Picking through the fallen leaves and occasional thorn, our bags grew plump with the fallen medicinal jewels.
Our female predecessors began menstruating later in life, had more children, breastfed longer, underwent menopause earlier, ate whole foods, and lived in a cleaner environment. If you were hoping to read about staminodes or involucres, or even how to eat your lawn, you will have to wait until my next post. Containers can also help to create a mini-microclimate, such as: well-drained soil, moist soil or even a water garden.
Understand plant chemistry by learning about some of the major chemicals found in plants that provide their healing properties. This imbalance in body chemistry ranges from mild insulin resistance to full-blown diabetes.
However, it’s more likely that at least half of the people in the United States have at least the beginning stages of this metabolic imbalance. When cells start to become resistant to the effects of insulin, insulin levels in the blood rise causing hyperinsulinemia (hyper = high, insulin, emia = in the blood).
Not everyone with insulin resistance gains weight and not everyone who is overweight is insulin resistant, but in the majority of people these two conditions are linked, which is why Dr. In fact, hyperinsulinemia is a much more serious risk factor for cardiovascular disease than high cholesterol. Insulin resistance may also be a factor in Alzheimer’s disease, polycystic ovary disease, sleep apnea, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and even cancer. Avoiding foods with sugar, high fructose corn syrup and white flour is the first step, but many people need to severely curtail even natural forms of starch and sugar for a while to get their blood sugar under control. It will give you suggests about how you can change your metabolism so you no longer crave sugar. At the very least try using some sweets made with natural sugars like maple syrup, honey or raw sugar.
These low-glycemic vegetables provide complex carbohydrates that won’t elevate blood sugar and trigger insulin release. Physical activity that makes your muscles “burn” causes cells to take up sugar without insulin. Adaptogenic herbs are very helpful for reducing stress levels and have been shown to help balance blood sugar levels or even reduce insulin resistance.
To learn more, try reading Seven Stress Solving Secrets and Physical and Psychological Approaches to Stress. If you are tired during the day, but have restless and disturbed sleep, an Adaptogenic Formula can be helpful. One of these is chromium, which plays a role in creating the glucose tolerance factor, a hormone-like compound that works with insulin to transport glucose into the cells.
Almost everyone in our society doesn’t get enough vitamin D3, so this is a good one to start with.
Blood Sugar Balancing formulas containing herbs like cinnamon, bitter melon, gymnema and nopal, can be helpful along with the above recommended lifestyle changes for those with metabolic syndrome or type 2 diabetes.
If you want to avoid or reverse type 2 diabetes, reduce your risk of heart disease, lose weight, have more energy and potentially lengthen your life, the above changes are well worth the effort. Both Karyn and Sarah are clinical herbalists and maintain their own private practices as well as running their school.
Sarah will talk about the energy of the season, how to be in alignment with it and herbs to support you in this process. At Blue Otter, we are dedicated to passing on a First Nations’ understanding of how energy and light flow through the body to create our balance and we look to the plants to facilitate this process. As is true with healing, we believe that to learn the practice of herbalism, we need to be engaged on physical, emotional and spiritual levels.
We approach herbalism from an indigenous perspective; offering a non-Western, non-scientific perspective of viewing medicine, health, the plants and the earth.
Plants were also people’s first medicine and we are committed to passing on this knowledge. Since the heart of the school comes from the Native American teachings Karyn was raised with, we included one of her family plants, blue cohosh, into the name. We moved from the San Francisco Bay Area to the mountains of far, Northern California and opened the doors of the Blue Otter School of Herbal Medicine in 2003. We have courses for the person who wants to incorporate herbs into his or her own life for personal use to advanced clinical levels of training.
Siskiyou County borders Oregon and is home to Mount Shasta, the Marble, Scott, Cascade Eddy and Trinity Mountain Ranges and the Klamath, Scott and Salmon Rivers.

Just over nine acres, the land holding the Blue Otter School of Herbal Medicine has a forested hillside, open meadow, a creek, stunning views of Mt. The Herbal Highway enhances the community’s knowledge of herbal medicine and alternative choices to standard medical practices for healing The Herbal Highway has been airing live on public radio since 1996.
Over thirty medicinal plants are covered in great detail including agrimony, gentian, butternut, elm, fennel, fumitory, goldenseal, goldthread, queen of the meadow, garden rhubarb and more. Herbs discussed in detail include hawthorn, lily of the valley, horse chestnut, motherwort, onion, garlic and relatives, safflower, spring adonis, yarrow, black cumin, cayenne, flax, chervil, buckwheat and asparagus. Herbs include two lungworts (one plant and one lichen), coltsfoot, duckweed, cherry bark, eyebright, elecampane, gumweed, horseradish, hyssop, ivy, jacob’s ladder, know mother root, lobelia, milkweeds, mullein, plantain, senega root, skunk cabbage, sundew, thyme and more. They include bees and their products, blueberry, bugleweed, the cabbage family, cumin, fleabane, giant anise hyssop, seaweeds, Labrador tea, lilac, maitake, prickly pear, purple loosestrife, spruce and various sumac species. This is a complex subject, as 80% of what we know about the various regions of the brain, the various hormones influence, and how everything interacts, has been identified in last five years.
It has no means of movement save the rhythmic diaphragm and yet bathes every cell in our body with nutrients.
They are non-specific, and alter our reactivity by balancing the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis.
Medicinal mushrooms include reishi, artist’s conk, and other Ganoderma species as well as cordyceps. Take a moment to write down all the reasons you wish to grow herbs, and how you might incorporate their medicine and beauty into your life.
Women today have approximately ten times as many menstrual cycles as their great-great-grandmothers. Metabolic syndrome has been called by many names: hyperinsulinemia, syndrome X, cardiometabolic syndrome, diabesity and insulin resistance syndrome. The insulin resistance means that glucose can’t get into the cells, which causes a growing cascade of imbalances in your body.
Furthermore, as the insulin resistance gets worse, it eventually leads to the development of type 2 or adult onset diabetes. This means giving up all fruit juices, whole grains and potatoes for a while until blood sugar levels become more normal. If the idea of exercise doesn’t appeal to you, then do something that involves physical “play” such as swimming, golf, tennis or any other sport you can enjoy. Try using a good Adaptagenic Formula containing herbs like eleuthero root, Korean or American ginseng, schizandra, ashwaganda or rhodiola. Take 5-HTP about an hour before bedtime and make sure you eliminate all sources of light in your room when you go to bed. This traditional Chinese herbal formula for deficient yin helps to balance blood sugar, reduce insulin resistance and help your cells to hydrate better.
If the problem has developed into full blown diabetes alpha lipoic acid can be very helpful for getting blood sugar levels back under control. We are located half-way between San Francisco and Portland, just a half hour drive from I5. Numerous creeks, alpine lakes, animals and plants abound in this county sparsely populated by people.
Each book focuses on a system or organ of the body, and explores herbs to prevent and treat acute and chronic conditions. Find out which plants strengthen your immune system and help relieve symptoms of menopause. This volume introduces basic concepts and understandings of plant medicine, and may help the budding herbalist on their individual journey. These include arbutus, bearberry, wild bergamot, bog cranberry, cornsilk, couch grass, goldenrod, gravel root, horsetail, hydrangea, juniper, mayflower, parsley, puncture vine, sea holly, water plantain, and wintergreen.
Herbs include albizia, ashwangandha, bacopa, buffalo berry, burnet, calamus, clubmoss, comb’s tooth, daffodil, ice plant, henbane, ginkgo, psilocybe species, snowdrop, velvet bean and more.
The herbs in this volume assist the body in finding a healthy balance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems. This volume will look at herbs that address lymphatic congestion, lymphoedema, and the importance of tonsils, appendix, spleen, and Peyer’s patches. In turn overactive and underactive hormonal and endocrine functions are returned to homeostatic balance. Diabetes further increases your risk of cardiovascular disease and is the leading cause of blindness and amputations. The diet should focus primarily on low glycemic (non-starchy) vegetables and high quality proteins. B-complex vitamins and vitamin C can also be helpful for helping the body cope better with stress. Darkness is what causes the pineal gland to convert serotonin to melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep. Three other minerals that are helpful for reducing insulin resistance are magnesium, zinc and vanadium. The energy of the otter brings a grace, gentleness, playfulness and generosity to the school that we also felt was key to the learning environment we were creating. As I walk forward in life I will always carry these amazing lessons and wonderful teachers with me. These include wood betony, bird’s foot trefoil, chamomile, ghost pipe, hops, elephant head, lemon balm, wild lettuce, marsh hedge nettle, wild oats, passion flower, Saint John’s wort, scullcap, and valerian.
These include alder, cleavers, blue flag, soapwort, bogbean, moonseed, red root, figwort, forsythia, ocotillo, pokeroot, pipsissewa, stillingia, sweet clover and bittersweet. Since most people are deficient in magnesium, people with Metabolic Syndrome will probably benefit from taking 400-800 mg of magnesium daily.
If a traditional breakfast of eggs and meat doesn’t appeal to you, at least make a protein shake.

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