I am Vervain,

Vervain “Herb of Grace”

Vervain “Herb of Grace”

I belong to the family Verbenaceae. My genus is Verbena. I am the species V. officinalis.

Don loves to tell the story about a client who was excitedly waiting at his office door.

“Don, I have some incredible news to share with you. Yesterday I was standing in my garden when the most beautiful thing happened to me. All of a sudden, I caught up with myself. My future self and my present self merged. I have been chasing myself for over 20 years and I finally caught up. It was the most joyful feeling.”

Dr. Bach prescribed me to those people who are always one step ahead of themselves. Before they have finished what they are working on, or experiencing they are already thinking and fantasizing about the next thing. He even discovered a Vervain type of person who typified this energy. Dr. Bach made a flower essence out of me to aid these people in living more fully in the present. He found that by constantly living in the future they were missing out on the joys right in front of them. This caused problems in their work and relationships. For Don’s client, it was a profound experience catching up to himself.

Most herbalists classify me as a nervine, which means I impact the nervous system.

As a nervine herbalists use me for:

  • Nervous tension - I am a sedative as well as nerve restorative

  • Exhaustion, especially from excessive worry or mental overwhelm

  • Anxiety - Don tells me that anxiety is rampant today. He is sad that more people do not take advantage of healing herbs like me to help modulate their suffering. After 50 years of practice he affirms that herbs work.

  • Headaches connected to congested gall bladder or liver

  • PMS - try a cup of my nourishing tea or drops of my tincture in water

  • Insomnia, especially when connected to nervous exhaustion

Sometimes you need to use me for awhile before you begin receiving my full benefits. I am gentle but effective. Don likes to share this anecdote from another teacher of his, the late Dr. Jensen, nutritionalist:

“I had a client come to me last week and tell me that he had a salad last week and it didn’t do a thing for him.”

Since my taste is bitter it stands to reason that I would be good for the digestive system according to Ayurveda. And Western herbal medicine has found me helpful for indigestion, lack of hunger and liver congestion.

In TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine):

  • I release constraint and relieve pain which helps with nervous tension, stress, fatigue and insomnia

  • I promote urination, clearing toxicosis and edema

  • I can get your menses flowing

  • For nervous depression I work well with St Johnswort

  • For irritability you can use me with Skullcap - Don posted a blog about Skullcap

  • I stimulate your immunity

You can understand why the wise women of Europe consider me a magical herb.

Remember that one cup is probably not going to make much of a change, but one or two cups a day (or tincture 3xday) for 3 to 6 months probably will.

I am Stinging Nettle


I belong to the Urticaceae family. My genus is Urtica and my species is U. dioica.

I am found in the temperate regions of Europe, Britain, Asia, Japan,  S. Africa, Australia, Andes and N. America. First Nations people used my stalks to make cord and fish nets. I was also used in Britain to make very fine linen. They eventually discontinued this, however, because I was too rebellious and difficult to cultivate. Don recommends consuming me to keep some of your rebellious spirit alive.

Regular use of my young leaves improves nutrition as I am high in chlorophyll, iron, magnesium, calcium, phosphate, Vitamin D, silica, sodium, potassium & sulphur. I guess you could say I am the original green super food!

Don loves to eat me fresh (cooked) in the spring up until about June and then he dehydrates me for use the rest of the year. He powders my dried leaves and then mixes me in kefir as a morning tonic.

I am helpful for some people who suffer from migraines associated with bilious vomiting.

I have been researched and tested and found excellent to relieve the symptoms of hayfever & other allergies.

My rich chlorophyll blood helps to purify your blood and clean up your lymph.

I have been known to reduce uric acid and help those suffering with rheumatism & gout.    

And for new mothers I promote milk production for nursing. I love the term that you use for that property: Galactagogue.

Apparently I contain secretin, a substance that acts as a stimulus to pancreatic secretion that stimulates the digestive glands of the stomach, intestines, liver & gall bladder.  This is especially important for use in the Spring, after you may have possibly been more sedentary and eaten heavier foods during the Winter.

Some people find that gargling with my tea reduces mouth infections, thrush, gingivitis & tonsillitis. 

Those brave of heart use my fresh plants to sting an area of the body bothered with rheumatism or arthritis. According to Don, it works like a charm for some.

Get to know me. Even though I may sting you, the lingering tingles will go away within a few days and may even be good for you. Don says that my tender, new Spring leaves are absolutely delicious steamed, sautéed or fried, and since he has a culinary degree I take that as true.

For a delicious recipe, visit Stinging Nettles Recipes at:

Click here to visit blog post!   


Hawthorn Cordial

This hawthorn cordial recipe combines the nourishing qualities of hawthorn with delicious spices that help digestion. Enjoy in small amounts after an evening meal. Hawthorne berries have traditionally been used in herbal medicine to improve heart health and circulation. 

 What you’ll need... 

  • 1 cup dried hawthorn berries (80 grams) 

  • 1 apple, chopped, seeds removed 

  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger 

  • 3 cardamom pods, crushed 

  • 1 vanilla bean, cut in half lengthwise 

  • 1 cinnamon stick 

  • zest of 1 lemon 

  • 2 tablespoons dried hibiscus 

  • 1/3 cup unsweetened 100% pomegranate juice 

  • 1/2 cup honey, or to taste 

  • 2 cups brandy


1) Place all of the herbs, spices, and fruit in a 1-quart jar. 

2) Add the pomegranate juice and honey, then fill the jar the rest of the way with brandy (approximately 2 cups). 

3) Infuse this for 1-4 weeks, shaking often. Strain. This can be stored in a dark, cool location and is best consumed within 1 year. 

Shared with me by one of my students.

Angelica - Angelica Archangelica



My latin name is Angelica Archangelic.

You can use my seeds for acid indigestion, nausea & to promote sweating.

My root is good for spasmodic cough, intestinal & menstrual cramps including PMS.

I am a circulatory stimulant.

You may have heard of my cousin Dong Quia from China. You can find her in many of the herb shops in China town.

I am heating by nature so be aware of my use if you regularly have a heavy flow or you are just hot all the time.

I am aromatic and pungent so if you are cold and suffer from indigestion, menstrual cramps or scanty periods then I may be the herb for you.

I am a friend of the aged.

I create a distaste for alcohol.

Caution: Slice root to exam for chambering effect, discarding any plants that display chambering. In Alaska Angelica has been known to hybridise with Poison Hemlock. Use dried roots only for tea. Avoid during pregnancy.

Hi, I am Alder - Alnus rubra


Hi, I am ALDER,

My latin name is Alnus rubra.

I am a fast growing deciduous tree. I grow every where. My bark is a bitter stomach tonic.

I stimulate your digestion, ease your muscle cramps\spasms and strengthen your skeleton.

Sophie Thomas, a Dakelh (Carrier) elder from the Saik'uz village, near Vanderhoof just past Prince George, uses my bark for cancer.

I was introduced to Don in 1970 by one of his first herbal teachers, Norma Meyers.  She showed Don how I can be a very uplifting tree when he was feeling down. Find out for yourself, just rest your back against my trunk, close your eyes and let my strength and spirit seep into you. 

I am strong powerful medicine and my bark is bitter. Use me with respect and caution. I am not in meant for continual use.

Skullcap - Scutellaria lateriflora

By Rolf Engstrand - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

By Rolf Engstrand - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Hi, I am Skullcap,

I belong to the mint family, Lamiaceae, my genus is Scutellaria and my species is S. lateriflora.

Don enjoys me as a relaxing nervine before bed. He likes to add 1 teaspoon of the tincture he made from me to a glass of goats milk.

One of the reasons he chooses me just because I am a supporting nervine for workaholics compelled work long hours resulting mental exhaustion. Don loves to learn and is often texting his brain as he tries to understand things like complexity theory and quantum physics.

I am one of the most widely used herbs.

I am an anti-spasmodic.

I am also anti-convulsive.

I am particularly relaxing for the brain and the central nervous system.

I am helpful for pressive (marked by pressure) headache, migraine and premenstrual tension.

One of the important differences between us healing herbs and chemically manufactured pharmaceuticals is that we are actually healing and restorative to the body. 

We are also sustainable, affordable medicine that you can find in the wild or grow in your own garden.

Open Focus Attention

Attention is the outer expression of the soul.

Attention is what connects us with the other.

There are four kinds of attention:

  1. Narrow

  2. Focused

  3. Diffused

  4. Broad

Narrow focused attention is sympathetic dominant.

Broad diffused attention is parasympathetic dominant.

That means, that when we are in a narrow focused attention mode we are on ready alert. This is valuable for short periods of time. It is not the most desirable state for thinking and learning. Nor is it the most enjoyable. It is also taxing on our physiology.

In the more relaxed broad diffused mode also known as open focus, we are in an alpha brain wave mode. We tend to think more clearly, as well as enjoying a greater sense of pleasure.

For those of you who are curious, adventurous and love to learn through experience, I am including a link to the open focus meditation.

If you find that is the right cup of tea for you, I recommend reading the book Open Focus Brain by Les Fehmi and Jim Robbins

Link to Open Focus Meditation. Click here!

Feel free to add comments or questions below.

The Shaman's Fungus

Hi, I am the Shaman's Fungus (Reishi - Gandoderma lucidum and applanatum),

Don loves me and uses me to bridge soma and psyche. He ingests my powder extract in kefir before his morning mediation.

I balance many of the systems in his body.

I am sought out for my ability to increase longevity.

The monks of the east would cross the Pacifiv Ocean in 200 BC to come to the ancient forests on the West Coast of BC to search for me. They would find me and drinking tea made from me spend their days in meditation.

I am Wei Qi which means I have protective energy. I protect the extracellular matrix and the vessels of the body.

I awaken the immune system.

I calm the heart. I am good for deficient Qi in the blood.

Don encountered so many overactive sympathetic nervous systems early in his practice when he used iridology (science of reading the iris of the eye). I calm the sympathetic nervous sytem and awaken the parasympathetic nervous sytem, much needed in these stressful times.

By inhibiting histamine release I reduce the severity of many allergies.

As mentioned earlier, I was sought out for longevity. In the west they like to call it anti-aging. Don calls it "aging with grace". I do this because of my strong anti-oxidant properties.

Last but not least I protect and regenerate the liver.

So the next time you are in the forest, look for me growing on dead or dying trees. In the PNW I am called "the artists conk" as you can use a stick to draw on the underside of me.

Get to know me. I am important medicine.