The Winter Herbalist


Published:

© Aaron Burden

The soft earth beneath our feet, pollen and aromatics in the air, clipping leaves and flowers and filling your baskets – the herbalist thrives in the time of summer where the plants are at their most fecund and the medicines can be gathered with fingertips and laid to dry in the warm air.

In the winter, plants become housemates in their jars and bags, little pieces of summer in the times when the earth is bare and plants are sleeping, their medicines either gathered deep in their roots or hopefully passed into their seeds. A few stand frozen with the medicine intact as we hastily gather them and take them into our warm homes.

As an herbalist connected with the seasons, much of what I tend to use is dripping in abundance around me all growing season. Mint teas from the generous carpets of mint, parsley pesto from basal bunches, wild weed salads from what looks juicy and lush and filled with spring. In the winter, the herbalist hibernates and turns to her stores of herbal medicines she has gathered in preparation for the winter.

There are several medicines I tend to use much more in the winter than the summer, medicines more suitable for the energy of the cold and dry air. Medicines which give warmth, moisture, and balance the darker days and the darkest of winter nights. These medicines are an integral part of summer as they are gathered with winter in mind.

The simple act of growing, gathering or making something small in preparation for winter can be a profound exercise in the acknowledgement of the seasonal cycles and the human response to these changes.

Here are three herbs you can easily cultivate or gather in the summer to use in the winter, how to prepare them, and how to use them.

Calendula Infused Oil Base

Calendula flowers are one of our most vibrant and photogenic flowers, and with their sticky scented resin covered sepals they bring many of your senses into the process. Calendula is very easy to grow, even in pots, and doesn’t mind a bit of summer heat if it has enough water to drink. The flowers come and will continue to come if you are picking them most days, so plant your calendula in an area you walk by regularly. It’s also an excellent task for children to gather the blossoms. They dry easily in a basket and can be used for a variety of topical and internal preparations for the whole family.

Once your calendula has finished flowering and they are all dried, or you have enough for a batch to loosely fill a glass jar, you can infuse them into oil. The oil will come out best if you remove the petals from the green sepals and grind them in a coffee or herb grinder just before infusing (they degrade fast!), place them in the dry jar, and fill the jar with oil. I prefer almond or apricot oil, or olive oil, but any oil you like or have access to can work well. You’ll want to expose that jar to some gentle heat, and you can do this in your gas oven because of its pilot light, on a radiator, a sunny window, or even a gentle hot water bath. The oil will take on the orange color after a few hours or a few days, up to a week, when you can strain it and bottle it again. Be sure to not introduce moisture in any part of this process since it will make it mold.

Calendula oil can be used for so many winter ailments. It’s the perfect base for salves, lip balms, and creams, but it’s also lovely alone on skin, even the most delicate of skin or babies or the elderly. Combined with melted beeswax (you can look online for how to make a salve) it can treat dry hands and feet or any other part of the body. My children’s skin gets so dry this time of the year that the oil is a warm ritual before dressing for bed to soothe and moisten.

Fennel Chai

Fennel seeds. Photo by Rahel Jaskow via Flickr CC.Sweet fennel can grow towering in your yard or in your weedy small plot of dirt along the sidewalk. It provides a home for little animals as well as swallowtail butterfly caterpillars. It’s early spring foliage is tasty, it’s flowers even more so and pretty in salads, and the seeds sweet and aromatic and perfect for winter chai. It’s also a completely safe and well tolerated herbal medicine which is simultaneously powerful.

You can use fennel as a base for herbal chai, which has few rules and can be fun to play with. Adults and children can sniff and sort and assemble their favorite blend, and all you need to do is to gentle boil it, covered, in water for about 10 minutes. The ratio can vary, but is about 1 tablespoon to 3 cups of water (24oz), depending on steeping time and taste. You can add honey or maple syrup and something creamy as you wish, and my family loves to add some vanilla extract at the end. Other herbs and spices you might want to add include cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, peppercorns, anise, or cardamom. You can also add a base of rooibos, nettles, or black tea as you prefer.

Each of these herbs, and in any combination, is warming and stimulating (gently, unless you add the black tea) and can be an excellent pick me up on a cold day when you would like something warming. They are also all helpful for regular digestion and very useful in gas and bloating. We often make a big batch and keep it in a crock pot so it stays warm and ready for any of us to dip into.

Goldenrod Respiratory Blend

In many parts of the country you’ll see goldenrod patches signaling the coming of fall. There are many (many) different species of goldenrod, but the good news is that all of them can be used for tea. The best of them are aromatic and a bit spicy in taste and smell. When the goldenrod has just begun flowering, you’ll want to clip off the entire stem, and then cut off the bottom part where it is bug eaten or not vital looking, and then dry the rest of it. It’s easy (and pretty) to do this in a bunch. Once dried, you can garble the leaves and flowers off the stem and store them somewhere airtight.

These leaves make a wonderful tea once “sinus season” is upon us. Combining them with nettle leaves and other gentle tonic tea leaves you have gathered in the summer, like sassafras, mint, lemon balm, linden or peach leaf, you can also add in something spicy like a slice of fresh ginger when you make your tea.

Once you blend your blend, give it a try and adjust as needed, there aren’t many rules here. A blend of winter teas based around goldenrod will provide expectorant, soothing, moistening, and warming help for just about any condition of the lungs in the winter.

Just Go For It!

It’s easy to get hung up on the right plants, gathering times, medicines, uses, proportions, and so many other things. But plants are easy to play with, and as long as you know what your plant is and that it is safe to consume, there are very few rules and infinite possibilities.

Of course, each of these herbs can be purchased, but it’s also possible many of them are around you already. Take the time next summer to gather some of these medicines for yourself for the winter, and to dream up new ways of using them to help support your body and your family through the winter.

And in this, you’ll dream of summer, and think of the warm day, your fingers sticky with calendula, that you gathered plants to complete the circle of caring for yourself all year long.

Bevin Clare, M.S., R.H., CNS, is a clinical herbalist and nutritionist and an Associate Professor and Program Manager of the Post-Master's Certificate in Clinical Herbalism at the Maryland University of Integrative Health. Bevin has studied herbal medicine around the world and blends her knowledge of traditional uses of plants with modern science and contemporary healthcare strategies as a consultant and educator. You can find Bevin’s full bio and her musing on a variety of Clinical Herbalism topics, including infectious disease, at www.bevinclare.com.

This article was republished from www.bevinclare.com.

See also:
Garlic: An All-Star Winter Remedy
Empower Your Adrenal Glands To Treat Pain With Traditional Indian Healing

Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

Daily Astrology

October 20, 2017

A trio of planets in early Scorpio, comprised of Jupiter, Mercury and the Moon, fans flames of hope today. The intrepid threesome is nicely aligned with mystical Neptune. Spiritual, as well as altruistic and artistic leanings are brilliantly served…
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Alternative Health Directory

Browse all listings »

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Calendar

October 2017

Learn Reiki — revitalizing self-care and healing in the palm of your hands. Facilitated by Lou Orsan, Reiki Shihan (master teacher.) This one-day class covers the...

Cost: $125

Where:
Northeast Reiki Center
61 Nicholas Road
Framingham, MA  01701
View map »


Sponsor: Northeast Reiki Center
Telephone: 508-808-5696
Contact Name: Lou Orsan
Website »

More information

With Barbara Blanchard Headaches are a common clinical condition that can benefit from acupuncture and acupressure treatment. This workshop will study the different types of headaches as defined...

Cost: $125 students, $175 professionals

Where:
Roots and Wings Yoga and Healing Arts
317 North Main Street
Natick, MA  01760
View map »


Sponsor: Eastern Medicinal Therapies Education Center
Telephone: 617-435-3586
Contact Name: Lauren Paap
Website »

More information

January 14 - December 9, 2017 With Tom Frederick Novice — This 12-month program is designed to assist you on your journey to spiritual enlightenment. Here we study a variety of esoteric...

Cost: $1300

Where:
Women of Wisdom
118 Washington Street
North Easton, MA  02356
View map »


Sponsor: Women of Wisdom
Telephone: 508-230-3680
Contact Name: Women of Wisdom
Website »

More information

All-day retreat, including meal, movement, morning and afternoon experiential sessions. Limited spots, pre-registration required. Email Kyle@PortalCrystalGallery.com or visit...

Where:
Portal Crystal Gallery
489 Mass Ave.
Arlington, MA
View map »


Sponsor: Crystal Concentrics
Contact Name: Kyle Russell
Website »

More information

Guided loving kindness meditation every Sunday at HeartSong Spiritual Wellness. No charge to attend. Donations are appreciated to help support this non-profit wellness center. Read more:...

Cost: Free

Where:
HeartSong Spiritual Wellness
23 Pine Street
Milford, MA  01757
View map »


Sponsor: HeartSong
Contact Name: Jacki Rose
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

January 14 - December 9, 2017 With Tom Frederick Novice — This 12-month program is designed to assist you on your journey to spiritual enlightenment. Here we study a variety of esoteric...

Cost: $1300

Where:
Women of Wisdom
118 Washington Street
North Easton, MA  02356
View map »


Sponsor: Women of Wisdom
Telephone: 508-230-3680
Contact Name: Women of Wisdom
Website »

More information

The Daoist Benevolent Association offers free classes on traditional Wudang style tai chi. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Brown School
42 Milk St Newburyport
Newburyport, MA  01950
View map »


Sponsor: Daoist Benevolent Association
Telephone: 978-462-4617
Contact Name: Barbara
Website »

More information

Nancy's therapeutic and healing nature stems from her own personal journey through health struggles. Her style is open to everyone, no matter physical or mental challenges, or age....

Cost: $15 drop in or $12 with 10 class bundle

Where:
HeartSong Spiritual Wellness
23 Pine Street
Milford, MA  01757
View map »


Sponsor: HeartSong Spiritual Wellness Center
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

January 14 - December 9, 2017 With Tom Frederick Novice — This 12-month program is designed to assist you on your journey to spiritual enlightenment. Here we study a variety of esoteric...

Cost: $1300

Where:
Women of Wisdom
118 Washington Street
North Easton, MA  02356
View map »


Sponsor: Women of Wisdom
Telephone: 508-230-3680
Contact Name: Women of Wisdom
Website »

More information

Come join Mary Budrose on October 17, November 14, December 14, from 7-8pm to learn more about the The Budrose Center For Spiritual Growth healing program and experience a chakra balancing...

Where:
Budrose Center for Spiritual Growth (Blossom Healings)
54 Main Street
Topsfield, MA  01983
View map »


Telephone: 978-561-1687
Contact Name: Mary Budrose
Website »

More information

The Daoist Benevolent Association offers free classes on traditional Wudang style tai chi. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Brown School
42 Milk St Newburyport
Newburyport, MA  01950
View map »


Sponsor: Daoist Benevolent Association
Telephone: 978-462-4617
Contact Name: Barbara
Website »

More information

One-of-a-kind, life changing holistic health education program again being offered free of charge Local business owner shares groundbreaking mind-body-spirit course to combat obesity epidemic...

Cost: Free

Where:
Wilbraham Senior Center
45 Post Office Park
#4502
Wilbraham, MA  01095
View map »


Sponsor: Harmony Way
Telephone: 413-636-2475
Contact Name: Michelle Caron
Website »

More information

Beginner Kripalu Yoga with Lisa Davidson Brand new to yoga or returning after a break, this class is kind and challenging for your body, relaxing and destressing for your mind, and will help you...

Cost: $113 for 7 weeks

Where:
A Yoga Leaf
@ Whimsy
686 Worcester Rd.
Framingham, MA  01702
View map »


Sponsor: Lisa Davidson
Contact Name: Lisa Davidson
Website »

More information

A unique divine healing meditation, lead by Bhavna, to help you in your life; with your relationships, money, work and family. Also, the meditation helps with letting go to release...

Cost: $10

Where:
Bhavna’s Wellness Group
512 Main St.
Penthouse Suite
Shrewsbury, MA  01545
View map »


Sponsor: Bhavna’s Wellness Group
Telephone: 508-970-5620
Contact Name: Krista Bennett
Website »

More information

Daoist Priest Zhou Xuanyun teaches traditional Wudang style kung fu.

Cost: $110/month

Where:
Boston Ultimate Fitness
72 Beach Street (4th Floor)
Boston, MA  02111
View map »


Sponsor: Daoist Gate Wudang Arts
Telephone: 508-245-8305
Contact Name: Zhou Xuanyun
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

January 14 - December 9, 2017 With Tom Frederick Novice — This 12-month program is designed to assist you on your journey to spiritual enlightenment. Here we study a variety of esoteric...

Cost: $1300

Where:
Women of Wisdom
118 Washington Street
North Easton, MA  02356
View map »


Sponsor: Women of Wisdom
Telephone: 508-230-3680
Contact Name: Women of Wisdom
Website »

More information

Christopher Penczak discusses how you can call upon Michael for aid in your own life and to help the planet. Explore the lore and magick of this beloved figure who crosses many cultures and...

Cost: $35

Where:
Circles of Wisdom
90 Main Street
Andover, MA  01810
View map »


Telephone: 978-474-8010
Website »

More information

October 18 - 20, 2017  With Renée Starr Ladies, reclaim your sacredness, awaken your devotion, and become the magic you seek. Details at www.goddesspriestesswitch.com. ...

Where:
ZuZu's Healing Arts
122 West Emerson
Melrose, MA  02176
View map »


Telephone: 781-665-8844
Website »

More information

This gentle yoga class is good for all skill levels. Scheduled perfectly in the middle of your week; the movements will be a welcome respite to your usual morning routine.

Cost: $10

Where:
Bhavna’s Wellness Group
512 Main St.
Penthouse Suite
Shrewsbury, MA  01545
View map »


Sponsor: Bhavna’s Wellness Group
Telephone: 508-970-5620
Contact Name: Krista Bennett
Website »

More information

Weekly yoga classes with Rev. Michelle Caron, RMT, CYT, ZIN of Harmony Way on Wednesdays at 12:15 PM and Fridays at 9:30 AM at the Wilbraham Senior Center. Class welcomes all ages and uses a...

Cost: $5

Where:
Wilbraham Senior Center
45 Post Office Park, #4502
Wilbraham, MA  01095
View map »


Sponsor: Harmony Way
Telephone: 413-636-2475
Contact Name: Rev. Michelle Caron, RMT, CYT, ZIN
Website »

More information

With Lisa Rockenmacher and Kristan Bishop Looking for a deeper connection with bliss? Seeking practical ways to increase wellness and health in all aspect of your life? Do you desire a...

Cost: $100

Where:
YogaLife Institute of NH
6 Chestnut Street
Lower Level
Exeter, NH  03833
View map »


Sponsor: YogaLife Institute of NH
Telephone: 603-969-8968
Contact Name: Brian Serven
Website »

More information

Are you ready to embrace more self-compassion and nurturing into your life? Take the plunge now! This 6 week group will weave yoga, creative arts, meditation, journaling and...

Cost: $180

Where:
Integrated Psychotherapy
31 Hastings Street
Mendon, MA  01756
View map »


Telephone: 508-335-6732
Contact Name: Sherri Snyder, MA, LMHC
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

January 14 - December 9, 2017 With Tom Frederick Novice — This 12-month program is designed to assist you on your journey to spiritual enlightenment. Here we study a variety of esoteric...

Cost: $1300

Where:
Women of Wisdom
118 Washington Street
North Easton, MA  02356
View map »


Sponsor: Women of Wisdom
Telephone: 508-230-3680
Contact Name: Women of Wisdom
Website »

More information

​One Night Only in Portland! Enlightened Spiritual Teacher Dave Oshana! Experience the transformational miracles of the enlightenment transmission. Enjoy the freedom to be your true self!...

Cost: Free, donations accepted.

Where:
Z Dance Club
1844 Forest Avenue
Portland, ME  04103
View map »


Sponsor: Enlightenment Transmission Foundation
Telephone: 207-443-7001
Contact Name: Maryanna Bock
Website »

More information

What are smudge fans, and what are they used for? Smudging is probably best known as a Native American ritual, although smudging has been used since ancient times by many people as a ceremony of...

Cost: $25

Where:
YOUnity Yoga & Wellness
189 Main Street
4th floor
Milford, MA  01757
View map »


Sponsor: YOUnity Yoga & Wellness
Telephone: 508-478-3333
Contact Name: Barbara Hickson
Website »

More information

In this 220-hour, one-year program with lead trainer Hari Kaur, you will become an instructor and learn the fundamental principles and practices of Kundalini Yoga.

Where:
Yoga At The Ashram
368 Village Street
Millis, MA
View map »


Telephone: 508-376-4525
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

January 14 - December 9, 2017 With Tom Frederick Novice — This 12-month program is designed to assist you on your journey to spiritual enlightenment. Here we study a variety of esoteric...

Cost: $1300

Where:
Women of Wisdom
118 Washington Street
North Easton, MA  02356
View map »


Sponsor: Women of Wisdom
Telephone: 508-230-3680
Contact Name: Women of Wisdom
Website »

More information

People get ready! We are going to stir it up! One time only! Join Chuck Raffoni (Relax and Recharge with Chuck) for a night of Broga® Yoga, Bob Marley and Brews at Western Ave. Studios in...

Cost: $25

Where:
Western Ave Studios
122 Western Ave
Lowell, MA  01851
View map »


Sponsor: Relax and Recharge with Chuck
Contact Name: Chuck
Website »

More information

Certification in Core Energetics with directors Karyne Wilner, PsyD and Charles Corley, Med. For heart-centered psychotherapists and body-mind healers. Training begins October 20.

Where:
Middletown, RI


Telephone: 401-316-7401
Website »

More information

Weekly yoga classes with Rev. Michelle Caron, RMT, CYT, ZIN of Harmony Way on Wednesdays at 12:15 PM and Fridays at 9:30 AM at the Wilbraham Senior Center. Class welcomes all ages and uses a...

Cost: $5

Where:
Wilbraham Senior Center
45 Post Office Park, #4502
Wilbraham, MA  01095
View map »


Sponsor: Harmony Way
Telephone: 413-636-2475
Contact Name: Rev. Michelle Caron, RMT, CYT, ZIN
Website »

More information

Daoist Priest Zhou Xuanyun teaches traditional Wudang style kung fu.

Cost: $110/month

Where:
Boston Ultimate Fitness
72 Beach Street (4th Floor)
Boston, MA  02111
View map »


Sponsor: Daoist Gate Wudang Arts
Telephone: 508-245-8305
Contact Name: Zhou Xuanyun
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

October 21 - 22, 2017 A two-day training facilitated by Reiki Shihan (Master-Teacher), Lou Orsan This two-day Level II training enhances your knowledge and practice of traditional Japanese...

Cost: $190

Where:
Northeast Reiki Center
61 Nicholas Road, Suite B2
Framingham, MA  01701
View map »


Sponsor: Northeast Reiki Center
Telephone: 508-808-5696
Contact Name: Lou Orsan
Website »

More information

Do you desire more connection and nourishing touch?  Do you find it hard to ask for what you really would like in life and in the bedroom? Do you want to improve your confidence and...

Cost: $97

Where:
Watertown Center for Healing Arts
17 Spring St
Watertown, MA
View map »


Sponsor: Conscious Intimacy
Telephone: 415-244-1652
Contact Name: Brynn Bishop
Website »

More information

January 14 - December 9, 2017 With Tom Frederick Novice — This 12-month program is designed to assist you on your journey to spiritual enlightenment. Here we study a variety of esoteric...

Cost: $1300

Where:
Women of Wisdom
118 Washington Street
North Easton, MA  02356
View map »


Sponsor: Women of Wisdom
Telephone: 508-230-3680
Contact Name: Women of Wisdom
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags