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The Earthwise Herbal

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Book Reviews The Earthwise Herbal Volume I A Complete Guide to Old World Medicinal Plants By Medicinal Plants by Wood Berkeley CA North Atlantic Books 2008The Earthwise Herbal Volume II A Complete Guide to New World Medicinal Plants by Matthew Wood Berkeley CA North Atlantic Books 2009 I was drawn to eading these two books after eading Wood s earlier book The Book of Herbal Wisdom along with a strong ecommendation from an herbalist friend Jennifer Tucker who has followed Wood in his workshops In my years of practice in journeying with the spirits of the Earth and ancestral spirit guides I have only on a are occasion journeyed with a plant spirit guide So over this last year my interest and intent has been to listen to the spirit guides of medicinal plants as did our hunting and gathering ancestors These plant gave our ancestors much direction in how to live healthy I highly value Wood s writing as he seeks to identify the spirit guides of medicinal plants guides that to identify the spirit guides of medicinal plants guides that efers to as the essence or personality of the plant Wood begins by eviewing a number of old world systems for categorizing medicinal plants and the many different illnesses that these plants treat He identifies parallels in the personality of a plant sometimes eferred to as the signature of the plant and the personality or signature of the illness to be treated The effectiveness of herbal medicine is to bring together or match the personality of the plant to the personality of the illness Each of these Old World systems whether Greek Ayurvedic Traditional Chinese or Alchemical has a system for categorizing the essence of the plant and the disorder The similarities and differences between these systems are fascinating some binary and some of three four five or six categories and some uite obviously borrowed from one or of the other cultures In eviewing these systems Wood distills out or brings together in an integrated system these historic systems that he uses in these two volumes as well as his earlier book The Book of Herbal Wisdom These descriptors which he calls tastes of the plant include not just tastes but draws from all the senses smell sensations sounds etc of the plant and the disease and for comparison purposes the healthy individual These characteristics include the plant and disease tissue states of HotExcitation ColdDepression DryAtrophy DampStagnation DampRelaxation and WindTension with the tastes of Sour Bitter Salty Sweet and Pungent or Spicy He includes in these descriptors sensations and textures Diffusive tingling nerve stimulation Permanent not tingling Astringent puckering constrictive Acidity taste of bile in throat taste that provokes shivering Watery thin Mucliaginous slimy Gummy tacky Resinous sticky Soapy Oily nutty Meaty proteinadeous Metallic taste of blood in mouth presence of metals and Aromatic scent These descriptors have been identified through careful observation of the plant and the illness The second volume examines the American Indian taxonomy of describing Bad Blood which is described in terms of location high or low within the organism viscosity thick or thin speed fast or slow moving and temperature hot or cold For Wood identifying these characteristics eliminates the guesswork and gives the clinician precise tools for therapeutic success clarifies the fine distinctions between different herbs ediscovers forgotten or neglected herbs provides a clearer picture of the activity of each herb and educes the amount of medication euired for treatment The disease names offered by conventional medicine are artificial and the symptoms may vary greatly The specificity of the symptoms and not the disease name is most important in determining which herbal medicine needs to be used In both volumes Wood most importantly offers many examples of how the personality of the disease and the personality of the plant to be used are determined In Volume I Wood describes in general terms how to prepare the herbs Teas may be prepared as an infusion cold infusion or decoction Tinctures may be prepared from fresh or dried plants and he briefly describes poultices salves and oils The dosage of an herb varies depending upon personal preferences with Wood preferring the low dose approach He eports in volume I pg 39 that the Low dose practice tends to be based on the concept that the preparation has a energetic intelligence or virtue that acts on the vital force or self egulating system of the body to effect change Stephen Buhner in The Secret Teachings of Plants ecognizes that the medicinal plants have the intelligence to know what is needed and can draw upon the many hormones and chemical compounds available to the plant to provide what is needed by the person calling for help ie when the person is calling from his or her heart In the practices of homeopathy and flower essence the dose is so low that it is nearly non existent yet the medicine can provide what is needed to heal Though I have come from the belief that higher doses of a medication are euired for the serious problems I now ealize that in my practice of calling upon the spirits of animals eg the bear or the coyote spirit healing comes from the spirit of the animal and not the animal itself Thus a low to non existent dose is like calling upon the spirit of the plant while using a high dose is treating the problem as it is treated in convention. Noted herbalist Matthew Wood brings twenty five years of clinical experience to this comprehensive book on medicinal plants The first in a two volume set The Earthwise Herbal profiles Old World plants volume two will treat American plants Organized alphabetically the book encompasses all of the major and many of the secondary herbs of traditional and modern Western herbalism Author Wood describes characteristic sym. Al medicine With this in mind I have selected several of Wood s descriptions of approximately 270 medicinal plants in Volume I and about 200 plants in Volume II to compare his described personality to that which I have found in my journeying with the plant in ecstatic trance Though Wood s system eliminates the guesswork in determining the appropriate medicinal herb for a specific problem the traditional healers or shamans would likely ely upon using a form of ecstatic trance to communicate with the plant s spirit essence or intelligence and the essence of the illness to be treated Wood in determining his system of identifying the personality of a plant or illness begins with how the Greeks determine the appropriate medicine thus he begins from the era of early ecorded history and does not consider the prehistoric ways of the hunter gatherers Though the shamanic way does not diminish the importance or usefulness of his system and the value of Wood s system brings the use of medicinal plants into the modern world What is ecstatic trance as I use it Ecstatic Trance is produced by apid stimulation to the nervous system by drumming or attling while standing or sitting in specific postures that give the trance journey direction I generally use one of three postures a posture for divination to answer a uestion a posture of healing while I hold a piece of the plant against my heart and a posture for shape shifting to become the plant The trance journeys are uite diverse Some produce a metaphoric description in describing one s elationship to the plant Then like so many of the teaching stories for children of animals with human characteristics some of the trance journeys with plants are specific to the plant but describe the plant with human characteristics Then some of the trance experiences describe the plant directly For example I found the cleansing nature of Calamus while I sat in a shape shifting posture when the drumming started I held a slice of Calamus under my tongue and a beautiful Calamus hizome with small oots esting on the floor in front of me upon which I placed my hands with splayed fingers I first found myself at a spring of which I am uite familiar It had moss growing in it with mosuitoes jumping around on the moss A Calamus was growing in the mud I was the hizome suirming through the mud cleansing the pool of water I felt a cleansing action within me flowing through the various channels within me the channels of blood and lymph along with the acupuncture meridians an experience that describes the plant personality of cleansing uite directly Wood describes the personality taste of Calamus as bitter pungent acrid warm dry aromatic astringent and esinous Its tissue states are depression stagnation and constriction Volume II pg 58 Though his description does not include its cleansing nature he writes of how it cleanses the phlegm for such problems as congested sinuses laryngitis and from the cerebrum to increase one s thinking ability and comprehension Similarly when I used ecstatic trance while sitting in a shape shifting posture near a Juniper tree that is growing over a massive shelf OF ROCK I FELT ITS ROOTS rock I felt its oots their way through small cracks in the ock as it broke through the ock As a oot I was led by a trickle of water that found its way into the small cracks Afterwards I eturned to The Book of Herbal Wisdom pg 25 to learn that the Juniper is a saxifrage a plant that can break through ocks The old authors believed that plants which broke into the ocks
with their oot 
their oot and clove them apart were suited to breaking stones in the kidneys The intelligence of the Juniper knew of my need to deal with a kidney stone According to Wood in Volume II pg 213 Juniper s taste is pungent bitter acrid sweet warm dry oily stimulating aromatic and antiseptic Its tissue states are depression stagnation and constriction On the eve of the first day of spring I sat in front of the Black Walnut again in the shape shifting with fingers splayed as oots of the Black Walnut The first thing I noticed as I sat after smudging and calling the spirits was a patch of wild garlic I had to take a piece of it to chew on My experience gave the Black Walnut human characteristics as in an adult version of a children s story A ush of feelings came to me from the suirrel collecting the nuts to the Juglone of the Black Walnut and the Garlic In particular I felt the feeling of arrogance a feeling of the arrogance of Black Walnut s need to push other life away with its Juglone though it is very majestic and Powerful In Its Size Similarly in its size Similarly pushes away such predators as the deer with its aroma Yet both have friends The Black Walnut s friend the suirrel collects the nuts and by burying them new Walnuts grows I greatly appreciate the Black Walnut and the Wild Garlic the Black Walnut for its beautiful wood and the dye from the husks of the nuts for hair coloring and other art and the Wild Garlic for its flavor in cooking Yet both the garlic and walnut show arrogance with a lack of self confidence in its need to push others away I have used and appreciate the Black Walnut s wood in the trim and furnishing of my office and the garlic in cooking Also many animals appreciate the Black Walnut for idding them of parasites worms and fungi In our garden we often have to pull up the new little walnut trees that. Ptoms and conditions in which each plant has proved useful in the clinic often illustrated with appropriate case histories In addition he takes a historical view based on his extensive study of ancient and traditional herbal literature Written in an easy engaging non technical style The Earthwise Herbal offers insight into the logic of the plant how it works in what areas of the body it works how it has been used
Jacques Prevert
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Grow from where the suirrels bury the nuts It is a very interesting Plant That Brings About A that brings about a ange of feelings from love and appreciation to some potential feelings of esentment because of its arrogance Wood s taste description of the Black Walnut is fragrant bitter and astringent Its tissue states are depression elaxation and torpor Volume II pg 209 but again he does not mention its need to push other life away When I told this story to Jennifer Tucker she had a very different esponse In contrast to my elationship with Black Walnut she has experienced protection and nurturance with the Juglone as a way of healing from a bad elationship and helping in weaning to creating healthy separation As she eports After years of living within a grove of Black Walnut I have observed in myself a solid protective energy force With intuitive awareness I am able to discern the protective energy force that surrounds the house and also the barn I describe it as a psychic protective energy emanating from the trees that filter s out psychic static In observing and getting to know the trees better I saw this protective circle as a positive boundary and that we need to have healthy boundaries in elationship with others the community and with our own mental thoughts In cases of addiction unhealthy codependence abuse issues or inability to adapt to change Black Walnut is my go to herb The Black Walnut s essence and nut is idea for weaning oneself from addictive behaviors protection from psychic attack by other spirits entities or thought forms again that idea of a filter for the Psyche In women who breast feed their children for several years and are eady to transition to the next healthy growth life transition Walnut flower essence for the mother and child used as a flower essence externally on the nipple and on the pulse points and a few drops in food or liuid the child ingests helps with natural transition In Jennifer s following metaphoric trance experience she interpreted the metaphor as the experience progressed Yarrow spontaneously presented a vision of itself as a single stem leaf and flower surrounded by Light The message is that the Yin and Yang balance of duality embodies life I then sensed the energy of the archetype warrior s purpose in both genders and of women warriors who have gone before with clarity of fierce and focus A vision of Achilles Mother as Goddess of the Immortal Feminine came to me of how the archetype of Higher Self can be drawn upon to infuse our human experience The duality of earth s embodied experience epresented in male and female is a Yarrow message The Flesh Blood and Bones of which we are made is both our weakness and strength in being mortal Yarrow helps strengthen and protect through the connection to Spirit immortality The Light is the Shield of Spirit around the physical to protect and connect to Higher Self The Yarrow is medicine for wounds that cut through flesh blood and to the bone and emotional wounds of surviving life s traumas that cut to the bone Flesh Outer Personality identity actions Blood connection communication inheritance ancestor karma DNA BonesOur foundation strength architecture According to Wood Volume II pg 53 the taste of Yarrow is bitter pungent acrid diffusive astringent and aromatic and its tissue states are excitation depression and elaxation The Latin name of the plant is Achillea named after Achilles Wood does ecognize in his writing that Yarrow is used for the wounded warrior and for stemming blood flow for lacerations and bruises In Lisa s experience the intelligence of yarrow knew what she needed and led her metaphorically to a appropriate plant the olive leaf that is used for dealing with hypertension vasoconstriction and angina I got distracted at first by thoughts of ecent experiences but then I emembered the instructions to follow a path a path that led to a circular staircase deep into the earth I started walking towards our white pine and then was at the sacred women s well we visited in Sardinia going down those impeccably measure ever narrowing steps toward the water at the bottom with the dome high above it and the opening to the light I saw the ancient olive trees in the nearby grove and thought oh this is the instruction for my healing I should be taking olive leaf for my heart Something I ve been wondering about for years Yarrow is sending me healing instructions Thank you Yarrow From these examples it is apparent that ecstatic trance does open the door to the personality of a medicinal plant but specifically to the need of the moment but it does not provide the overall picture of what a plant has to offer Wood s system offers a broader complete picture of the plant but it takes the experienced herbalist to draw from these pictures to decide which plants are most appropriately for the particular situation Wood s two volumes that eview over 450 medicinal plants are very valuable as a esource in how to use these medicinal herbs Hey I love this book There s always nifty food for herby thought in his booksAnd having this and the Old World volume together is just a great pair of herbal eferences to a great pair of herbal eferences to Excellent eference with detailed explanations covering the methodology of Eastern and Western herbalism using American herbs Combined with the Old World book This is an invaluable esource that all herbalists should hav. N the past what its pharmacological constituents indicate about its use and how all these different factors hang together to produce a portrait of the plant as a whole entity Ideal for beginners serious students or advanced practitioners The Earthwise Herbal is also useful for homeopaths and flower essence practitioners as it bridges these fields in its treatment of herbal medicines From the Trade Paperback edition.

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