Healing from Childhood Trauma

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In this article, I want to briefly explore the relationship of early childhood trauma with persistent emotional  issues.   As a therapist I often work with people who are dealing with long term anxiety and depression that are rooted in part to challenging or abusive relationships with one’s family of origin.  Understanding the role of […]

Trauma, the Gut and Healing: Building Deep Resiliency

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      Imagine yourself as a small child and living in a household where the parents drink excessively, argue and at times lash out angrily and abusively towards you.  Or imagine living in a situation where you are poor and living in a violent neighborhood where you feel threatened regularly.  Through studies, we now […]

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

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  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

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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 […]

Making Infused herbal baths

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  Perhaps my favorite way to reach people who are depressed, anxious and  stressed is through herbal infused baths.  I have an extra long claw foot tub that I rescued from recycling at a hardware store.  I fixed it up and built a bathroom that could fit its large size.  When you take a bath, […]

Artisan Distillers: Making Small batch Essential Oils with Love

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In the last decade much of the modern alternative health field has been swept up by the power of aromatherapy and essential oils to help improve mood, health and wellbeing.  The connection between plant volatile oils and their effect on wellbeing has been noted since ancient times and the art of perfumery has roots dating […]

The Healing Power of Wild Northwest Reishi

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  Walking the murky and tulgy backwoods trails deep in the Pacific Northwest hills in the summertime and fall,  you may find a treasure trove of edible, poisonous and medicinal mushrooms.    As an herbalist I have long been fascinated by some of these strange creatures and specifically one genus of mushroom known as Ganoderma. […]

Winter, Depression and Healing Adrenal Fatigue

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  The winter settles in, deep, dark and cold.  For some of us this can be a deeply hard time as we descend into sadness, lethargy, exhaustion and depression.  For most of our time as humans, the winter has been a challenging time for those in temperate climates.  Plant life dies down and the cold […]

The Untamed Heart: Holistic Approach to Bipolar

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  I walked into the secluded psychiatric hospital area where she stood.  The words came out in spurts and gymnastic rhythms, incessant and spiraling.  She pleaded, cajoled, mocked, yelled and raged, then softened and became charming, seductive.  As I listened and tried to reply, she commented endlessly on my features, her level of distrust off […]

Interview with Monica Cassani of Beyond Meds

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Monica Cassani  runs a very popular blog, www.beyondmeds.com, that details her experience of being diagnosed with bipolar disorder, treated with numerous medications and then her journey of coming off those medications while incorporating holistic tools to help her heal.   In her own words:   “I have seen the system from both sides – as a social […]

Wild Food, Wild Heart

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  In the last 100 years there have been dramatic changes  in how we grow food and what we eat.  These changes have fundamentally altered the planet’s landscape as we have blanketed much of our agricultural lands with monocultures of just a few varieties of crops. And what we are finding is that much of the food […]

Happiness and the Myth of Chemical Imbalance

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  About 2500 years ago Gautama Buddha outlined the four noble truths of Buddhism.  The first noble truth is that life is suffering because all things fade and fall apart (Dukkha).  The second noble truth is that  the cause of suffering is our thirst for pleasure and happiness that can never be fully quenched (tanha). […]

Decolonizing the Mental Health System

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  “You know, we had a lot of trouble with Western mental health workers who came to Rwanda immediately after the genocide, and we had to ask some of them to leave…They came and their practice did not involve being outside in the sun like what you’re describing – which is, after all, where you […]

Healing the Gut, Healing Mood

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About 65 years ago the first widely viewed psychiatric manual was published known as the diagnostics and statistics manual.  Just over 100 disorders were categorized such as major depression, bipolar disorder (then manic depression) and schizophrenia.  While these terms had been around for a while this was the first time they were codified into one […]

Devil’s Club: Sacred Plant of the Northwest

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    This summer I spent quite a bit of time with a plant known as Devil’s Club (Oplopanax horridus)  that grows wild in the northwest and up through the west coast of Canada to Alaska.   If you have ever come across this plant you will never forget it.  It grows upwards of 12 […]

Tonic Herbalism: Pathway to Healing Anxiety and Depression

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  These days its quite common for people to head to their local health food store in search of remedies for depression.  One of the leading sellers is St. John’s Wort, a good herb that is unlikely to single handedly solve cases of depression, especially when taken in capsules with small amounts of old herb […]

Holistic Alternatives to Psychiatric Hospitalization

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Odd thoughts and confusion.  Watching letters rearrange in a newspaper and mean something very profound.  Hearing voices of friends and spirits…some benign and some harsh and menacing.  Jumbling thoughts into circular patterns that are paralyzingly and overwhelming.  Feelings of boundless energy where everything seems to connect to everything else in brilliant and meaningful truths. These […]

The Roots of Mental Illness

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  In the past 20 years there has been a dramatic change in the perception of mental illness amongst holistic and integrative practitioners.  Instead of seeing depression as due to a neurotransmitter chemical imbalance, increasing focus has been placed on the role of diet, inflammation, trauma, medication side effects and nutrient deficits.  In this article […]

Trauma, Plant Medicine, and Recovery

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When people come to see me as a therapist and an herbalist, they come with complaints of sadness, fatigue, grief, anger and shame.   But after peeling back the layers it usually becomes clear that they have gone through quite a bit of trauma.  Trauma comes in many different forms.  Emotional, sexual and physical abuse […]

Deep Herbalism

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In my practice as an herbalist I often work with plants at a simple level.  My daughter is fussy and wound up and I give her a small cup of linden tea with a touch of honey.  It’s flu season and I start taking elderberry elixir and occasionally some fire cider made of strong spicy […]

Kratom

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In the last few years there has been an explosion in the use of an herb known as kratom here in the U.S.  Kratom comes from a tree common to South East Asia where it has been traditionally used for centuries.  Mitragyna speciosa comes from the same family of plants as coffee (Rubiaceae) and has […]

Mimosa- The Happiness Tree

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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 […]

Mental Illness or Societal Illness? An Alternative View of Treatment

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      Recently an article came out in the Huffington Post that described how poverty is a strong indicator of severe emotional distress.  As you can see from the graph, those who earn below the poverty level are far more likely to experience “psychological distress” than those who are more affluent.       […]

Folk Counseling

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    A little over a hundred years ago Sigmund Freud initiated the field of psychology, the practice of helping people work through emotional distress by talking and exploring hidden subconscious depths.  Early psychoanalysts felt that this exploration could lead to insight that would bring cathartic emotional release and integrative transformation.   Along with psychiatric […]

A Visitation from a Friend

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                                    A burdock plant is growing outside my counseling office.  Its broad leaves shape themselves near the fence behind the building, climbing and caressing the cedar planks.  Usually I wouldn’t think much of a weed finding a home […]