Community Wise Womyn
                    Dr. Kayla Goulet Moonwatcher, ND, CHom.                    
                                                                                                                                         Naturopathic Doctor and Classical Homeopath in Boulder, CO 

How To


How to use Organic Medicinal Herbs

It is really rewarding to grow medicinal herbs in your organic garden and have fresh herbs available to brew up some healing potions when you or your loved ones are ill. And, you can find many organic dried herbs available locally at apothecaries and health food stores. Herbal remedies are a wonder way to bring comfort, soothing and healing for many illnesses.

DANDELION: This beautiful yellow flower is one of the first harbingers of Spring, and nectar source for pollinators. The fresh, new leaves are fantastic in salads, steamed or in stir-fries; besides tasting great, this bitter green will help to stimulate the digestive system (especially the liver) to purge and flush out toxins. The root of the dandelion is yummy to eat, full of minerals, and also offering the above healing properties. I also harvest the roots, shave small pieces with a vegetable peeler and dry them for use in herbal infusions thru the Winter.

MOTHERWORT: The globe shape of this perennial plant is truly beautiful and the sort of hand-shaped leaves are very unique, thus creating a striking addition to your vegetable garden. The flowers attract many pollinators. The leaves are brewed into an infusion, offering wonderful balancing properties to both endocrine and cardiac functions. It is a favorite herb for menopause and beyond.

HOREHOUND: I love the sage green , curly and textured leaves of this low and globular growing herb, which adds a soft interest to the vegetable garden. It thrives all year in my Colorado garden. This herb makes an excellent infusion as a respiratory system tonic; for any cold/ bronchitis/pneumonia/virus; drink an infusion of horehound, angelica root, ginger (and other herbs according to symptoms) (see recipes).

CALENDULA: These bright and happy flowers add vibrant color and interest to the garden. They also attract numerous pollinators and provide excellent natural pest control. Made into an herbal infusion, wound dressing, salve/cream, calendula is very healing to any skin condition (dry skin/psoriasis, acne, diaper rash) due to its anti-septic, anti-inflammatory, astringent, soothing and skin-regenerating qualities.

MULLEIN: This wonderful wild plant is native to Colorado. The soft, fuzzy, sage-green leaves add a natural beauty to the garden. The tall spikes of yellow flowers add height and color to the garden, while attracting pollinators. When the tops go to seed, they will feed birds all thru the Winter. I harvest Mullein leaves just after flowers set, chopping and drying them for use in infusions and salves. Mullein is a great herb for breaking up and purging mucous from the body.

CLARY SAGE: Have you ever eaten the lavender/white flowers of this plant? If not, then you are missing the Heaven on Earth qualities of their sweet nectar; of course, pollinators love them, as well. This perennial is very prolific; if you have one, you will have many. They are great to share with friends and neighbors. This herb is wonderful as an anti-depressant, hormone balancer, hypotensive (lowers blood pressure); it is both tonic and calming.

COMFREY: This plant offers some wonderful healing qualities and is often used in skin dressings and salves; it is anti-inflammatory, soothing, and skin-regenerating. Another name for

this plant is "bone-set," and it has been shown in folk medicine to stimulate bony fusion after fractures. Due to some medical studies done about 8-10 years ago, in which subjects were given the equivalent dose of 10 cups of infusion for 5+ years, some carcinogenic qualities were noted and this herb has been restricted in its usage/dosage in over-the-counter products. Because the plant grows so large (3’ tall by 5’ wide), spreads so easily, and the leaves have a nettle-like sting to them, I encourage you to plant one in a secluded area of your garden and cut the flowers off as soon as they begin to dry.

HYSSOP MINT: This plant will bring soooo many pollinators to your garden! This perennial grows very tall (4"), producing beautiful lavender-colored spike flowers; like all mints, it will spread profusely unless you dead-head the flowers as soon as they begin to dry. All of the mints are anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and they offer support for digestive upsets by cooling irritations and relieving flatulence.


HERBAL FACIAL: After a long hot day working in the garden (or stuck indoors under fluorescent lights), this is a wonderful way to bring cooling, soothing and rejuvenation to your face/skin. For dry skin, add 1/2 tablespoon of organic vegetable oil; for sunburn, add 3 drops of lavender essential oil. For acne, add 1/2 clove of garlic and 1 teaspoon of fresh rosemary leaves. To really pamper yourself and raise your vibration, add 3 crops of rose essential oil.

1 6 oz. container of plain yogurt 1/4 medium peeled cucumber plus 2 slices

2 tablespoons or organic aloe vera gel 3 calendula flowers pulled apart

2 plantain leaves 5 clary sage flowers (or mint or basil leaves)

Place all ingredients (except 2 cucumber slices with peel on) into blender/food processor; whip until smooth. Smear the facial all over your face, lie down in a dark/quiet room, place cucumber slices over your eyes; rest quietly for 20-30 minutes. You will be amazed at how soothed and rejuvenated you are after this facial!

RESPIRATORY INFUSION: Who wants to deal with the symptoms of a cold/upper respiratory infection for weeks at a time? This infusion tastes slightly bitter, hot and medicinal; my son’s theory is that "Herbs don’t really cure you – they just taste so bad that your body quickly heals itself so that it doesn’t have to drink this horrible-tasting stuff anymore!" I actually love the taste of medicinal infusions and I know I am going to get better just from smelling and tasting them. If I am ill, I will usually make one-half gallon (double recipe) of this infusion and drink 12 to 16 oz. hot at least 4-5 times per day. Adding a ½ teaspoon of honey to each dose after it is brewed or reheated adds enzymes, sweetness and soothing to the remedy.

1 quart of filtered water, boiling hot and removed from the heat

4 tablespoons of dry chopped horehound leaves (respiratory cleanser/tonic)

1-2 tablespoons of dry chopped angelica root (purges mucous)

1" long piece of fresh ginger root chopped into tiny pieces (raised body temp. to kill the virus)

Add all ingredients to boiling hot water, cover, steep for 30 minutes. Strain and drink as above. You may add one teaspoon of honey to each cup just before you drink it; honey is full of enzymes and is soothing to mucous membranes.


1 tablespoon of fenugreek seeds (breaks up mucous and supports you to cough it out)

3 grandelia/sticky weed flowers (very bitter, breaks up mucous and support you to cough it out)

3 cloves of sliced fresh garlic and 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper (this is great when there is an infectious component [green mucous, fever]; these herbs will raise your fever to kill the bacteria, help you sweat it out, and move thru the illness much faster)

This hand-out includes just a few of the many wonderful herbs that we can grow and use for our medicinal needs. I have been a Master Herbalist for 40 years and maintain a private practice as a Naturopath and Homeopath in Boulder, CO. I use many holistic modalities to support people through numerous illnesses and symptom profiles. I hope this class gives you a new perspective on the beauty, qualities and importance of herbs - in our gardens and in our lives.


How to Add Culinary Herbs To Your Organic Garden

I have found that adding various herbs to my garden has brought many wonderful benefits. Of course, it is always wonderful to go out and pick some fresh herbs to add to your favorite dinner recipes. Additional benefits include the variety of colors and textures they provide to your vegetable garden, how well they attract pollinators, and how many herbs act as excellent pest control.

In my opinion, there is no such thing as an herb which is only worthwhile as a culinary herb. All herbs offer important health benefits and healing properties. Using herbs in your everyday life will support you with anti-oxidants, vitamins and minerals – all important for preventative medicine. Each plant also contains specific uplifting, energizing, soothing, anti-septic or other qualities that we often need or desire.

Favorite Culinary Herbs in the Garden

GARLIC: Ahhhh, don’t you just love the aroma of fresh garlic roasting in the oven or browning in your favorite stir fry? Who doesn’t love garlic bread, black bean sauce with garlic, lamb baked with cloves of garlic pushed into the meat? Garlic also has numerous medicinal qualities; it has been proven to be intensely anti-septic, and various medical studies have shown that it melts plaque out of arteries and lowers bad cholesterol levels. It will also kill off excess candida in the intestinal tract without harming beneficial bacteria. Whenever I have patients with earaches, I recommend "garlic and mullein oil" drops on a cotton ball in the ear canal; the garlic is very warming and anti-bacterial, and the mullein helps to break up and draw out any mucous. Garlic is also a great plant in the garden for fending off problem insects such as aphids and white cabbage moths; I often intersperse a few plants throughout my vegetable garden, as well as growing a huge crop of it for culinary and medicinal purposes. A clove of garlic a day keeps the doctor away !

MARJORAM: This very tender plant provides leaves which add a wonderful flavor to soups, marinara sauces, salad dressings, pasta dishes, etc. In our growing zone 4-5, plant in pots and bring them indoors for the Winter. Marjoram is also a wonderful healing herb; its warming, calming and muscle-relaxant properties are very healing to migraine/tension headaches, leg cramps, insomnia, back spasms, colic and stress-related conditions.

OREGANO: I love Italian food, and most recipes include a generous amount of this herb. It adds a hot, fresh and spicy aroma and flavor to sauces, dressings, marinades, etc. The plant itself looks quite similar to marjoram above, but typically larger leaves and a heartier plant., yet it is best to also bring this plant indoors for the Winter months. Oregano oil used in aromatherapy is a very HOT oil, and must be diluted to a 3-10% solution before applying to the skin; it is one of the most anti-bacterial and anti-septic plants/oils available, making it great as a gargle for a sore throat, wound dressing, preservative in infusions/creams/etc.

BASIL: This favorite plant comes in so many wonderful varieties – genovese, globe, lemon, cinnamon, sacred, red rubin, holy. I grow this yummy herb all year long – outdoors in pots in my vegetable garden, and indoors in my AeroGardens thru the Winter. Pesto (see recipe section) is one of my favorite garden treats. Basil loves a good dose of morning sun and shade or partial

shade in the afternoons; pinch off blooms as soon as they appear, and harvest leaves often; this way, you will have a steady and prolific supply of basil thru the garden season. Basil is also a special medicinal herb; it offers a cooling and calming effect for inflammatory processes, nervous conditions, depression, etc. It is also gently uplifting, restorative and tonic to the kidneys and adrenal glands. The flowers also attract many pollinators (mason bees, honey bees) to the garden.

FENNEL: What a beautiful and unusual-looking plant this is, adding a unique texture and visual interest to your garden. Fennel leaves are a nice addition to soups and salad dressings; the bulb of fennel is very yummy when roasted with other root vegetables coated with an olive oil and garlic rub. The seeds of fennel are a very important medicinal herb; I discovered this miracle back in 1976 when I was breast-feeding my son, I drank 12-16 ounces of fennel seed tea twice per day. This greatly increased my milk production (I nursed 2 extra children whose mothers’ milk had dried up, and I saved/donated milk for the "boy in the bubble"). The anti-colic and flatulence-releasing qualities of this herb came thru my milk, thus greatly relieving my son’s colic symptoms.

CILANTRO: Mexican food just wouldn’t be the same without this favorite culinary herb. I often add some coriander leaves into my basil mix in my favorite pesto recipe. The tender, flat with serrated edge leaves add a fresh and interesting visual to the vegetable garden. This herb also loves morning or evening sun; although it will grow in full sun, the leaves tend to become tough. Cilantro is an excellent lipolytic herb, which burns up lipids and cholesterol while also stimulating the circulation and cardiac function to flush it out of the body.

ROSEMARY: This beautiful spikey-leaved plant makes a wonderful addition to your garden. Over time, some varieties grow into a shrub, so plant it where it will have plenty of room to grow; in our zone 4-5 area, it is best to plant it near the house or garden shed, where it will get plenty of sunshine and be somewhat protected. Just brushing up against this plant will give off such a pungent aroma. I like to harvest a lot of the leaves in late summer and grind them up in my Vita-Mixer to use all Winter in soups, marinades, salad dressing, marinara sauce, meat rubs, etc. I keep the leaves whole for use in herbal infusions, due to its anti-microbial, anti-oxidant, astringent, diaphoretic (makes you sweat) and tonic qualities. An herbal infusion of rosemary makes an excellent scalp treatment for balding, as it regulates the sebaceous glands, stimulates the scalp and follicles, and promotes hair growth. Rosemary also provides excellent preservative qualities in tinctures, creams and lip balms. WARNING: Rosemary in high doses or prolonged use has been shown to be hypertensive (raising the blood pressure).

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PESTO: This is such an easy and flavorful treat. It is basically made from any green, any nut, any vegetable oil and any cheese; play around with various combinations to discover your favorite. I make some type of pesto nearly every week, depending upon what fresh herbs/greens I have available. In early Spring, I will make a dandelion green and basil pesto, with pine nuts or almonds, extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) and parmesan or asiago cheese. Later in the season, I will add cilantro or arugula to the basil; sometimes, I use goat chevre and make a creamy pesto.

1 cup of organic EVOO 1 1/2 cups of fresh basil (or other herbal leaves)

The juice of one lemon or two limes 1/4 cup of pine nuts (or other nuts)

1/4 cup of parmesan cheese (or other cheese) 1 teaspoon of organic tamari sauce

Place liquid ingredients in a blender/food processor; add greens and process slightly. Add nuts and process to desired consistency. Stir in cheese (if grated, or add with nuts to process). ENJOY !

ITALIAN SALAD DRESSING/MARINADE: When you have a garden full of Italian herbs, you just have to use them fresh like this. This is yummy on lettuce salads, steamed greens, as a meat marinade/sauce, brushed on toasted bread, etc. Add parmesan, ricotta, chevre, etc. to make a spread that is fantastic as a condiment for an Italian meat sandwich or grilled chicken sandwich.

1 cup of organic EVOO 1/2 cup of balsamic (or red wine) vinegar

the juice of one lemon or two limes 3-10 cloves of fresh garlic (to taste)

1 cup of any combination of (fresh leaves off the stem) oregano, thyme, marjoram, basil, rosemary

3-5 reconstituted sun-dried tomatoes, sliced into small pieces

1 teaspoon of organic tamari/soy sauce OR 1/2 teaspoon of salt

Place all ingredients in a blender/food processor and mix to desired consistency.

Copyright @ Dr. Kayla Moonwatcher 2/09


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