Deep Root Medicine with Jeff Johnson: The healing power of ashwaghanda


  Drive along the Columbia River Gorge and wind your way up the rural hills to the town of Corbett and then head up the misty road towards Larch Mountain and you will find a small herbal farm run by Jeff Johnson.  He leases a plot of land so that he can primarily grow an […]

15 best Mental Health Herbal Tinctures


I was recently talking to a friend about mental health herbalism and they wanted some good recommendations about how to stock their house with the best herbs so I thought I’d write out a few thoughts with my recommendations on tinctures.  Often a mental health tincture is one that is gently relaxing, can help someone […]

Depression and Anxiety- Healing Starts in the Kitchen


  Its late summer moving into fall here in Portland.  The skies are turning darker.  The trees are embracing the dying time.  The chlorophyl that gives leaves their rich green color is breaking down as deep auburn and yellow hues take over.  Its getting close to the time to start the first fire, to lay […]

Mimosa “Full Happiness” Flowers


  In a previous article I wrote about gathering bark from the Mimosa (Albizia julibrissin) tree to make medicine. Known as “He Huan Pi” in Chinese medicine, mimosa bark is renowned for its ability to “anchor the heart”, meaning that it helps stabilize emotions, brings gentle calm to the spirit and is helpful for those […]

Mimosa- The Happiness Tree

Isabel helping make medicine

Early this summer I realized my beautiful Mimosa tree was growing kind of out of control.  This is an extremely fast growing tree that had risen to about 50 feet high and was intermingling its branches amongst the power lines.  Time to prune.  And since I was going to prune, this was also a perfect […]

Schizandra Deep Healing Tea


When I was a kid I used to get together with friends and play the game of “making potions”.  We would put together any substances and liquids we could find and blend them into magical elixirs.  Of course back then they were made with primarily koolaid, frozen concentrate and herbs from the spice rack and […]

Choosing The Best Tonic Herbs for Emotional Wellbeing

Chinese herbal medicine

Some of the most popular tonic herbs sold on the market are known as adaptogens.  Adaptogens are herbs (and mushrooms) that help us to adapt to stress, reduce fatigue, improve wellbeing and strengthen and optimize glandular, immune and nervous system functioning.   In terms of mental and emotional health, these are herbs that are specifically […]

Ginseng- Tonic for greater vitality, strength and mental health


Asian Ginseng  (Panax ginseng)   When thinking about herbs for mental health, one of the first herbs that comes to mind is ginseng.  In this article I will explore the benefits of working with the ginsengs for those looking to improve their mental health. Ginseng is really shorthand for three different types of herbs. The […]

Folk Healing, Industrial Agriculture and the Rise of Psychiatry

Selection of wild herbs in small basket.

      Throughout the world you will find people walking out their back door and picking weeds and plants that grow nearby. They will throw them into cookpots, make tea from them, turn them into healing medicines for their friends and family. This is the herbalism that is practiced everyday by billions of people, […]

Make your own Herbal Medicine Chest for Anxiety

Herbal tea with honey, wild berry and flowers on wooden background

  If you have been feeling increasingly stressed out and more anxious as we move into the Holiday season, you are not alone.  Millions of people suffer from ongoing anxiety and panic attacks that can be crippling at times.  One of the most important things to do when you are feeling deeply anxious is to […]

Healing from Emotional Distress with 5 Senses Herbalism


  When we think of medicine we tend to think of something we ingest such as a drug or an herb to make us feel better.  As a therapist who specializes in working with herbs for improving mental health, I often talk to people who wonder what herb they can take to help them feel […]

5 Natural Ways to Heal from Panic Attacks


Panic attacks cause tremendous suffering for those who get them. A simple trigger such as being in a social group can suddenly elicit a tidal wave of anxiety, fear, confusion, derealization and panic. People experiencing panic attacks sometimes report that they feel like they are losing complete control, going crazy or having a heart attack. […]

Herbal Kit for Emotional Distress


Anxiety, panic, irritability, frustration, confusion, sadness.  Emotional distress is a common experience and is increasingly part of regular life in our modern age.  We are living a fast paced, busy and constantly “plugged in” lifestyle where many of us feel increasingly on edge, irritable, nervous and out of balance.  Many of us have also experienced […]

Making Medicine: St. John’s Wort


    As a mental health therapist and herbalist, my specialty is helping people discover the benefits of herbs for healing emotional distress.  One of the best and most commonly used herbs for depression and anxiety is St. Johns Wort (Hypericum perforatum).   This morning I went walking with my Dad and gathered some of […]

Invisible Pain- Tapering off Psychiatric Drugs


In my practice as a therapist I often work with people who have been seriously hurt by the practice of psychiatry, either directly or indirectly through family members. Many of them started taking psychiatric drugs for moderate depression, or for some anxiety, or for panic attacks. But as time went on, their doses went up. More […]

Nervine Herbs for Deep Relief from Anxiety and Stress


When someone is feeling stressed, anxious, tense and wound up, herbalists will often recommend a type of herb known as a nervine.  A nervine is a type of herb that has a relaxing (and sometimes stimulating) effect on the nervous system and can help to soothe tension and bring a sense of calm.  These herbs […]

Holistic Support for Post Traumatic Stress


Waking up in the middle of the night, short of breath, heart racing and beating hard against the chest.  Feelings of panic, fear, of wanting to crawl out of one’s skin.  Restless obsessive thoughts and images.  Recurrent negative thoughts repeating endlessly.  Severe anxiety. Withdrawing from friends and family.  Feeling shut down and depressed.  Can’t sleep, […]

Reishi the Great Healer


  One of the most amazing herbs for promoting health and well being is not an herb at all.  It is a mushroom.  The reishi mushroom is known as one of the best adaptogens known to man.  An adaptogen is a natural substance that is non-toxic, helps a person to adapt to stress more easily […]

Nettles, Super Tonic for Better Mental Health


    Often when I talk to people about one of the best herbs to take regularly, I suggest Nettles.  Nettles has a long history of being used to strengthen and fortify the system, help with allergies, respiratory problems, anemia, fatigue, depression and exhaustion.  I find this herb particularly useful for those who are suffering […]

How to Make Relaxing, Strengthening Tea


I like to drink tea…a lot.  I choose to drink it over taking a multiviamin for a number of reasons.  I think the nutrients and vitamins found in herbal tea are more absorbable and I think you are also getting a lot more than just the industrially manufactured vitamins found in a pill.  Herbs are […]

Ear Acupuncture to Support Mental Health


In the last 30 years, acupuncture and Chinese medicine have become increasingly popular as a modality for helping people not only with health concerns but also with emotional distress and addictions issues.  Acupuncture has been especially helpful for people who are detoxing from drugs and alcohol as well as those who have experienced a high […]

Inpatient Hospitalization: An Inside Perspective


This article was published in, a site for exploring alternatives in mental health care   When someone is in severe crisis due to feeling emotionally overwhelmed, one of the main access points for receiving care is an inpatient hospital setting.  People come for mental health care in a hospital when they are feeling suicidal, […]

What is Holistic Mental Health Therapy?


As a holistic mental health therapist, I am often asked how that is different from a regular counselor.  While there is some overlap, there are also some differences. The main difference is that a holistic therapist spends quite a bit of time focused on health and well being.  That means I look at diet, lifestyle […]