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Ayurveda, the “science of life” and traditional healing system of the Indian subcontinent, is perhaps the oldest formal medical system on the planet...
You can notice the change from the humid, vegetal smells of summer mornings to the crisp richness of autumn, at least here in Vermont. The dawn is much later too: now we step outside as the last stars fade, and the air has a trace of wood smoke from the first fires of the season.
Harmony. To a musician, the concept is familiar: notes in a chord resonate together, reinforcing each other and expanding the sound. The math behind this--“constructive interference” of waveforms leading to a pleasing synergy--seems far away from our day-to-day.
As fall moves on, some folks complain that the days get short. But think about the longer nights! You can feel them now. When the moon is full, the arc it traces lasts from sunset to sunrise, instead of getting drowned out early by the insistent, enthusiastic July sun. We get the full harvest moon, shining over the fields with its gift of extra light to gather the grain.
I mostly remember the cool, dark mornings that turned, slowly, into day through the high evergreen canopy. We'd left well before dawn and were walking uphill through a forest of mature spruce with tracts of larch and hardwoods. Come fall, these would become golden veins running down the mountainside, but now everything was a deep green-black, and smelled like fairytale:
St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum) loves the sun and reaches across wide sections of the meadow during the peak days of summer... the herb’s yellow flowers, small and clustered into intense bursts of color, signal that transition from the growth of spring to the fullness of the hot months. Here we are! The time of thunderstorms and cicadas, hot nights and fireflies.
When we stop to consider how much our physical frame and physiological systems endure for even a moderate walk around town (coordination, tendon stretching, impact buffering, blood sugar changes, and more), it’s remarkable that human beings perform so well when engaged in physical activity! Good pre- and post-workout nutrition is crucial, as quality fuels provide a lot more than just energy to our bodies, but beyond eating well, herbal support can address three key areas that are important for athletic types and for anyone who is even moderately active...
We take digestion for granted, but it's not an easy task: we consume a range of foods, at different times, under changing circumstances. Balancing all these variables, our guts distil macronutrients (proteins, fats and carbs) and process micronutrients and phytochemicals.
There is a long tradition in herbal medicine of using herbs and mushrooms around times of seasonal change, or during travel, to support great immunity and thereby keep the physiology strong and resilient.
The best herbs are the ones close at hand. A team of herbalists and I travel to East Africa each spring, along with physicians and medical students. Here, we work at a rural hospital, where herbal medicine is becoming integrated into patient care...
Identifying and honoring “sacred” places in our lives, and bringing plants into the ritual of celebration, is a traditional tool that builds life and resilience wherever it is employed, helping to protect endangered botanical species and preserve sensitive ecologies.
We’ve known for a long time that primates (humans included) use plants medicinally, but insect self-medication is a relatively new discovery. This observation is remarkable in and of itself: these wooly bears are behaving like herbalists, seeking out medicinal species to treat their infection.