Devil’s Club: Sacred Plant of the Northwest


    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


  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


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 […]

Deep Herbalism


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 […]

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 […]

Dissociation- On finding the way home


I was talking with someone recently who talked about hearing voices for much of her life.  She talked about how the voices had started when she was young and had been through extreme suffering at the hands of her father.   While he abused her, her mother neglected her and she was left feeling deeply […]

Rhodiola for Mental health


  One of the most increasingly popular herbs sold these drays is rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea of the Crassulaceae family).  Long valued as a supreme tonic for strengthening vitality, immunity and increased vigor, rhodiola grows in the cold extremes of northern Europe, America and Russia and the root is primarily used for its adaptogenic properties.  An […]

Holistic Approach to Psychosis


As a therapist with a focus on holistic healing, one of the fundamental questions I am often asked is how to help a loved one who is going through a psychotic process without going to a hospital setting.  As someone who has worked for a number of years in an inpatient setting I am very […]

What to do when you just can’t sleep.

grunge image of moon landscape

So you can’t sleep.  You’re in bed lying awake.  Maybe you are chewing over something that has happened to you, or maybe you drank a mocha frappucino right after dinner.  Maybe the medications you are taking (or tapering off of) are making you feel lousy.  Perhaps old images and memories are haunting you.  Or maybe […]

8 Kinds of Herbs for Mental Health


    Mental health herbs are herbs that help reduce emotional distress, nourish and strengthen the body’s ability to adapt to stress.  In many ways most herbs could be described as mental health herbs as they tend to heal the body which in turn heals the mind.  But in this article I want to focus […]

What is Mental Health Herbalism?


Mental health herbalism is the practice of working with herbs and other plants to improve well being, develop keener insight into patterns of imbalance and to reduce emotional distress.  As a licensed professional counselor and herbalist, I often incorporate the use of herbs for helping people to get stronger and feel better.  I have seen […]