29. April 2016 · Comments Off on Yarrow’s Garden Blog~The Mystery and Beauty of Flower Essences · Categories: Flower Essences, Health and Healing, Plant Medicines, Wellness, Yarrow's Garden Blog

After years of deeply relating to plants and working with their medicines, I sense I may be beginning to grasp a speck of understanding of the levels and realms of their healing potential. Flower essences have drawn me to engage with their subtle yet powerful messages of healing for many years. Their gifts gently act to assist in raising our consciousness to release habitual thoughts and behaviors that no longer serve, and help strengthen our resolve to choose our responses from a place of deeper inner awareness. Whether our health concerns are physical, psycho-emotional or spiritual, flower essences address the overall patterns of imbalance, acting upon the whole, multi-faceted nature of our “dis-ease” process. Using a single flower or essence combination, they focus on healing all levels of our being. As our world moves deeper into this time of great change and transformation, many alternative healing modalities are stepping up as potent tools and gateways to assist humans in gracefully making the necessary transitions into a new era of peace and equanimity. Plants, gemstones, sound and color are now easily available to show the way to our fullest potential as humans.


As so beautifully described by Dr. Edward Bach, English homeopathic practitioner in the 1930″s, considered to be the father of modern flower essence therapy: “These remedies cure, not by attacking disease, but by flooding our bodies with the beautiful vibrations of our Higher Nature, in the presence of which disease melts as snow in the sunshine“.

People often confuse flower essences with essential oils. On a continuum of plants and their medicines, essential oils are found at one extreme. Essential oils are concentrated, distilled plant oils whose messages are aromatic, intense and direct. Flower essences are found at the opposite end of the continuum; potent, yes, but subtle in their delivery and gentle in impact. Their healing powers come from the Light energy emitted by a plant’s highest expression, its flower. Traditionally, through the direct activation of the sun’s rays, a flower’s energetic blueprint is released into water and stabilized to form this powerful healing remedy. Each plant has a unique healing signature and theme available through its essence. Taken for a specified time frame, the human Spirit begins to respond to the higher vibration “Spirit” of the plant essence. Old patterns are gently released and new, healthy patterns are introduced and integrated. Ultimately, as each human evolves, our Planet and Universe benefit from the rise in energetic vibration and all of life has increased freedom to thrive.


I recommend flower essences to clients who wish to explore deeper levels into their healing process beyond symptomatic relief. When symptoms finally appear, the dis-ease process has usually been going on undetected for some time. Flower essences address those deeper unexamined levels, facilitating communication with the essence of who we are as beings beyond the physical. With daily use and clear intentions, significant energetic shifts are possible, bringing harmony, balance and blessings into our lives and ultimately the lives of others. In partnership with the light frequencies of the plant kingdom, we are not striving to “fix” anything, but opening to new levels of conscious awakening and wholeness. Remedies are typically preserved with small amounts of either brandy, vinegar, or glycerine and hold their vitality indefinitely. It is preferred they not to be stored in close proximity to electrical appliances that emit electromagnetic frequencies such as televisions, microwaves or computers. Flower essences are safe and effective for adults, children, animals, your houseplants and the environs within and around your home. Their messages are simple, loving and full of grace.

25. April 2016 · Comments Off on Yarrow’s Garden Blog~World Healing Exchange · Categories: Health and Healing, Wellness, World Healing Exchange

Acupuncture and the World Healing Exchange
Acupuncturists Without Borders
Loreto, Mexico Baja California Sur
Christina MacLeod, L.Ac., MPH

It is a warm, sunny day in late January, 2016. The quiet fishing village of Loreto, Mexico, sits along the protected south eastern shoreline of the Baja peninsula. In the early months of winter, the town witnesses the familiar arrival of migrating blue and grey whales, there to mate and birth in the safe waters of their bay in the Sea of Cortez. On this day, however, the people wait in anticipation for the arrival of another kind of “pod”. A group of twelve American acupuncturists, all volunteer members of Acupuncturists Without Boarders (AWB) will be offering community-style treatments at the DIF family health center. I am among the American care-givers This is my first time attending an AWB World Healing Exchange. I smile with enthusiasm as a group of about 65 men, women and children of all ages file through the door and take their seats, ready to receive the simple 5-needle ear treatment, designed to address the health issues that come with their increasingly complicated and stressful lives.


With an interpreter on hand, an initial orientation in Spanish offers encouragement and comfort to those who are first-timers. Six practitioners divide the room into manageable groups and the treatments begin. Other team members greet new arrivals, monitor supplies, keep records, or help as needed. Within twenty minutes, the energy in the room has palpably shifted. Silence prevails, breathing slows and deepens, and a sense of peace and calm fills the space. A few heads nod, others sit with eyes closed or gazing softly. At the end of 45 minutes, the needles are removed and people are encouraged to share their experiences. There seems to be overwhelming agreement that the experiences are positive for those who shared.

During the week-long visit, over 100 individuals received treatment by AWB volunteers in two separate clinic events. The most frequently asked question was “When would the team come back again?” “The people were so receptive and appreciative of our care. We were showered with gratitude by even the most tentative of participants. A deep satisfaction and fullness filled the hearts of our entire treatment team”. With a degree in Public Health, I find herself quite at home offering this simple yet powerful treatment in a public setting that serves many at the same time. Plans are underway through AWB for the next World Healing Exchange to take place in the Yucatan in November, 2016. I hopes to attend.


Monthly community-style acupuncture clinics are ongoing here in Westcliffe at the West Custer County Library on Main Street, modeled after the AWB ear treatment protocol. The walk-in events are scheduled for the third Thursday of the month between 11am-1:30pm. Clinics are on a donation basis, $20 suggested. The needles are placed on the ear for a total body effect and without the need to disrobe. The treatment offers clearing and rebalancing of the nervous system and returns vitality to all the organ systems of the body. Half of all revenue from the Westcliffe clinics is given back to non-profits like AWB for their global health initiatives in communities experiencing trauma or family displacement from natural disasters.

AWB was founded as a non-profit in 2006 by current CEO Diana Fried of Albuquerque, New Mexico, in response to hurricane Katrina, initially offering support to first responders. Since that time, volunteer teams have been deployed to New Orleans, Haiti, Nepal, Guatemala and other sites worldwide, treating medical teams as well as families affected or displaced by trauma or disaster events. The Colorado Acupuncture Medical Reserve Corps, with the same clinical ear protocol, is highly organized and ready to mobilize quickly for any trauma event in Colorado. In addition, spin-off community-style clinics are being established on and off military bases, addressing PTSD and other health issues for veterans and their families.

11. May 2015 · Comments Off on Yarrow’s Garden Blog~Moving Ahead with Community-style Acupuncture · Categories: Health and Healing, Wellness, Yarrow's Garden Blog

Announcing Community-style Acupuncture in Westcliffe

On Thursday afternoon, May 21, between the hours of 3 and 6pm, all are invited to join Three Sisters Medicine alternative medicine practice at the West Custer County Library Community Room. Resident acupuncture practitioner Christina MacLeod, L.Ac., MPH will be offering Community-style acupuncture for stress management and wellness. Community acupuncture, now popular in many of the large cities across the United States, offers treatment for clearing, recharging and resetting the body’s nervous system in a safe and quiet setting, without the need to remove clothing, and at an affordable cost. Treatments last 30 minutes. $20 suggested donation.



Here are some of the amazing benefits of this healing modality:

                                                                           ♠ Manages Stress
                                                                           ♠ Clears and recharges the physical body
                                                                           ♠ Harmonizes and Balances Body, mind and Spirit
                                                                           ♠ Touches the Heart and Soul
                                                                           ♠ Opens Creativity
                                                                           ♠ Resets the Body’s Energies
                                                                           ♠ Safe, Quiet Space
                                                                           ♠ No Need to Disrobe
                                                                           ♠ Convenient and Affordable
                                                                           ♠ A great Self-Care Tool

We look forward to seeing you on May 21. Don’t be shy. You will love how you feel!

24. September 2014 · Comments Off on Yarrow’s Garden Blog~ Valley Wildflower Honey Harvest · Categories: Health and Healing, Plant Medicines, Wellness, Yarrow's Garden Blog

As we witness the mountains and pastures transform into highlights of yellow, orange, maroon, and golden brown, the flow of golden wildflower honey matches the colors of the season. Beekeepers in the Northern Hemisphere are as busy as their bee friends this time of year, harvesting the last of the honey and preparing the hives for winter. In Colorado, a single bee colony needs, on average, about 100 pounds of honey to survive the winter, depending upon its length and severity as well as elevation. It’s hot and sticky business, but last weekend, with the help of my mentor, Father Dan Jones and friend Don Mercill, we harvested and extracted an estimated 85+ pounds, over and above what was left for the overwinter needs of the bees.

The open hive above shows a colony busy at work filling and capping beeswax comb. These frames are ready for harvesting and processing. Pure,capped, honey-filled comb is pictured below.

Aug-2012 008

This year’s nectar flow has slowed considerably, now that a few frosty nights have curtailed flowering. Foraging bees will  continue to collect nectar and pollen for another few weeks, depending upon the availability of viable flowers. Inside the hive, work will continue to feed brood, cap open honey cells, maintain the ambient temperature of the hive, and care for their queen.


The honey we harvest will undergo uncapping, spinning and filtering before it is bottled and ready for market. Shown here is one of the more difficult tasks of the extraction process, uncapping the frames. A hot knife is drawn over the top of the comb exposing the honey for spinning. A specially designed centrifuge is used to spin the honey out of the combs and into an awaiting container.

The honey is further warmed and filtered to eliminate wax particulates, then bottled and stored for enjoyment on warm biscuits or scones or, delightfully, by the spoonful. Raw honey, not exposed to high temperatures, will retain its enzymes and its greatest health benefits. It may crystallize but will never go bad. Honey was one of the treasures found in the tombs of the ancient pharaohs, still as fresh and edible as the day it was poured.

Many healing properties are attributed to the golden miracle of honey. Analysis shows that honey contains over 75 different ingredients, including natural medicines gathered by the bees in their foraging process. Bees are naturally attracted to the diverse nectar and pollen offerings of wildflowers. Contained within their harvests are complex enzymes, organic acids and esters, antibiotic agents, trace minerals, and plant hormones. A range of vitamins including B complex, C, D, E, K and beta carotene have also been identified in raw honey samplings.

Well known are the skin healing properties of honey. Topically, its sweet stickiness acts as a lubricant to hydrate all skin types. Wound healing is accelerated as honey acts as a natural bandage for burns, ulcers, surgical incisions and skin infections, often without the trace of a scar. In addition to its use for cellular regeneration, honey is an excellent remedy for chronic respiratory ailments, including colds and flu, pollen allergies, dry cough, chronic bronchitis, and various asthmatic conditions. Although side effects have been rarely reported, caution should be taken by those allergic to bee stings. Avoid giving honey to children one year of age or younger, as their digestion may not be able to break down or assimilate any possible toxins the honey could carry. Honey is now being widely used in burn centers for its miraculous ability in healing deep and serious skin traumas.

Local, raw wildflower honey is an amazing superfood, life-giving and naturally healthful. With each spoonful, let us remember that our honeybees worked incredibly hard to produce this delectable gold. Their well being comes first and then humans get to enjoy the benefits of their abundance.


Stephen H. Buhner, Herbal Antibiotics
James Duke, The Green Pharmacy
Lesley Tierra, Herbs of Life
Stephanie Tourles, Organic Body Care

Photo credits: Ruth Calvin Boothe, Christina MacLeod


PLEASE NOTE: Posts on Yarrow’s Garden Blog and Three Sisters Medicine are for educational and inspirational purposes only and not intended as a substitute for medical diagnosis or treatment. Herbs are Medicine! Proceed with care. Self-diagnosis and self-treatment of serious medical conditions is inappropriate and unwise. If you have or suspect a medical condition, it is your responsibility to consult a medical practitioner for appropriate treatment.

THREE SISTERS APOTHECARY offers a variety of dry tea blends and tinctured formulations. Formulas are custom blended for your specific health and healing needs. Contact me at skyedarter@gmail.com or phone: 719.371-1315 to schedule an appointment.



29. August 2013 · Comments Off on Yarrow’s Garden Blog~GRINDELIA squarrosa~History Reveals · Categories: Ethnobotanical, Health and Healing, Plant Medicines, Wellness, Yarrow's Garden Blog

Curly-cup Gumweed ~A Scruffy Plant worth Finding

My passion for medicinal plants has taken an interesting twist this month. Quite by coincidence, I have been harvesting a local high prairie native, Grindelia squarrosa, for its exceptional ability to address the mucous congestion of coughs and bronchitis. At the same time, a tangential interest in the botanical findings of the Lewis and Clark Expedition (1804-1806), is providing a rich historical perspective into this valuable plant as medicine.

Augustpics 179On August 17, 1804, according to their notes, in the prairie habitat outside an Omaha Indian village in Dakota County, Nebraska, specimens of Grindelia squarrosa, also known as Curly-Cup Gumweed were collected as part of the expedition’s botanical findings during their three-year exploration of the American West. History is not one of my better suits, but looking through a botanical lens, my passion for plants finds this compelling. For all the times the question “What makes a plant native?” has been asked, we touch upon a perspective that gives us an answer. This plant was in common use by North America’s native Peoples prior to Anglo exploration.

Merriweather Lewis, an extraordinary naturalist, was chosen by then president Thomas Jefferson, to lead the expedition west across the northern tier of the Great Plains and beyond, with cartographer William Clark. They encountered village after village of Crow, Blackfeet, Cree, Cheyenne, Dakota, Flathead, Gros Ventres and Shoshone all using boiled decoctions of Grindelia as tea internally for coughs, pneumonia, digestive colic and urinary tract maladies. Topically the plant was commonly made into poultices for skin sores, swellings and poison-ivy-like blistering rashes.

Today, the genus Grindelia ranges widely in the US, Canada and south into the Chihuahuan region of Mexico, mostly west of the Mississippi River and into the Great Plains and Rocky Mountains. It presents as kind of a weedy, unkept plant, offering good medicine, but not particularly adding beauty to the landscape or a “proper” garden. Most mature plants are 2-3 feet in height, appear shrub-like, and grow in sandy, rocky and poor soils, along roadsides, building sites and open grasslands. July, 2013 083Most sources agree that Gumweed is a biennial or short-lived perennial, surviving on nothing more than the mercy of seasonal moisture. Grindelia squarrosa is host to the Blister Beetle (Zonitis sayi, Family: Meloidae), shown here.

Curly-cup Gumweed is a member of the Sunflower or Asteraceae family. Its oval, linear leaves clasp alternately to its sturdy erect stems. Leaf margins are broadly toothed; with leaf surfaces relatively smooth except for numerous resinous glands found throughout. Grindelia flowers are a bright golden yellow with flat disc surfaces up to 2cm in diameter. Flowering begins by mid-July, their discs initially covered by a sticky, milky sap. Some species of Grindelia are rayless (without petals), while others have short ray florets appearing after the milky stage. Each flower head is held in a cup-like structure called an involucre, covered with sticky curled bracts. It is at the milky stage that the flowers and leaves are gathered for medicine.

Augustpics 182Many types of remedies can be prepared from Grindelia. Fresh, the flowers can be made into a tincture, the resinous sap being extracted only by a high percentage grain alcohol. The leaves and flowers can be dried and later used as a tea. Both tea and tincture are useful for a dry, spasmotic cough, bronchitis, or for asthmatic breathing. Its medicine helps to break up sticky, dry phlegm so that a cough becomes productive. Grindelia has an affinity for the lungs, helps open the chest, promotes expectoration, and relaxes breathing.

Grindelia flowers can also be infused into a high quality olive oil for topical use at a later time. As a medicinal oil, soothing salve, a poultice, or in tincture form, Gumweed has a wide range of topical applications for poison ivy/oak reactions, insect bites, burns, eczema, bed sores, herpes lesions and stubborn wounds that resist healing. It promotes tissue repair, reduces inflammation, stops itching, and moistens and benefits the skin. NOTE: From personal experience, the alcohol tincture works best on poison ivy rashes because of the drying effect of the alcohol.

TSA_products 011This harvest season, I’ll be making an alcohol (organic) tincture and an oil infusion of this healing plant. Its pleasant, balsamic aroma is unmistakable and its medicine powerful. The kitchen will be a sticky mess before I’m finished, but the end result will be a great medicine for coughs, combined with with thyme, osha root, and hyssop. For an all-purpose healing salve (pictured right), I will combine grindelia, calendula, comfrey, and plantain. It is quite satisfying to create relationship with a plant prized so long ago, knowing that it is still appreciated and used for its healing gifts.


PLEASE NOTE: Posts on Yarrow’s Garden Blog and Three Sisters Medicine are for educational and inspirational purposes only and not intended as a substitute for medical diagnosis or treatment. Herbs are Medicine! Proceed with care. Self-diagnosis and self-treatment of serious medical conditions is inappropriate and unwise. If you have or suspect a medical condition, it is your responsibility to consult a medical practitioner for appropriate treatment.

THREE SISTERS APOTHECARY offers a variety of dry tea blends and tinctured formulations.Formulas are custom blended for your specific health and healing needs. Contact me at skyedarter@gmail.com or phone: 719.783.0465 to schedule an appointment.


10. August 2013 · Comments Off on Yarrow’s Garden Blog~The Medicinal Magic of Mint · Categories: Ethnobotanical, Flower Essences, Health and Healing, Plant Medicines, Wellness, Yarrow's Garden Blog

Walking through the knee-high grasses alongside the riffling waters of Grape Creek, I become aware of a familiar sweet-spicy aroma wafting around me. My boots flush through the dew-laden vegetation, now soaked with wet grass stains. Peering between the blades, I notice spikes of sturdy green stems bearing clusters of delicate lavender flowers. Mid-summer 096I feel the wetness as it soaks through my socks and the knees of my jeans.

To confirm my suspicions, I look for other clues to its identity. Squeezing the small notched leaf between my fingers, I inhale again, and am immediately taken by the rich, menthol, delicious scent as I bring it to my nose. Instantly my brain feels clear and focused, my body feels alive, my consciousness alert. I twirl the slender stem in my fingers and note its ridges; the stems are square.

Taking a moment, I begin noticing more detail. The opposite leaves grow smaller as they progress up the delicate stem from ground level to tip. The flowers cluster in whorls at the leaf axils, creating  a distinct pattern of segments along the stems. At this point I feel comfortable in saying that I have found Poleo Mint (Mentha arvensis), Colorado’s native field mint. Chokecherry Day 018I draw its strong pungent aroma into my lungs and once again feel my cells come alive with its cool, clarifying vapors.

Scanning the grasses, I notice several patches of the plant, enough to consider harvesting some, since flowering is the perfect time. As I cut, I am reminded that Poleo mint is the strongest of the true mints; stronger in both flavor and action than its European cousins, peppermint and spearmint. All members of the Lamiaceae (mint) family, the mints are best known for their ability to act kindly upon the digestive system, relieving indigestion, gas pains and bloating, intestinal cramping and nausea. Most commonly found in the kitchen, herbs such as oregano, lemon balm, thyme, rosemary and sage are all in this family and useful in cooking for flavoring and for digestive enhancement. The flavor of Poleo is pungent, slightly biting and sweet, with a camphorous taste due to the presence of its volitile, aromatic oils. Both warming and cooling, stimulating and relaxing, it potently promotes bile flow, reduces liver congestion, and settles the stomach.

Mentha arvensis can be found growing throughout the northern latitudes of the United States from the Great Lakes and Central Plains to west of the Rocky Mountains. Early tribes of the Upper Missouri River valued Poleo tea for its carminative, gas-relieving digestive properties. The Cheyenne and Blackfeet believed it strengthed the heart and vital organs. The Lakota and other tribes used the mint beverage to treat headaches, colds, coughs and fevers.

Popularized in the mid-18th century, European peppermint (Mentha piperita) was cultivated on plantations in England, France, Italy, Greece and Germany mainly for distilling its valuable oil. Spearmint (Mentha spicata) is pungent and sweet, energetically neutral–not as warming or cooling– and has a more gentle digestive effect.

Chokecherry Day 012In contemporary herbal pharmacology, the value of Poleo and its related mints goes beyond its known digestive properties. Used interchangeably for colds and flu (Poleo being the strongest), they can promote sweating, reduce a fever, promote productive expectorating and open the sinuses. A sinus steam using peppermint essential oil will clear the nasal passages and promote fuller, deeper breathing in conditions such as asthma, bronchitis and laryngitis. As a warming stimulant, Mentha increases internal warmth through circulatory stimulation and can encourage the onset of a sluggish or delayed menstrual flow. Massaging peppermint oil infused into a carrier (such as sweet almond or olive oil) on the abdominal area has proved effective for that condition. Other topical uses of peppermint oil include treatment of inflammation from burns, scalds, acne, hives and poison ivy, primarily through its drying effect. In a spray with other essential oils such as lavender, rosemary or sage, peppermint is a very effective natural insect repellant.

In flower essence form, peppermint promotes mental clarity, quickens thinking, and heightens and uplifts the spirits. It enhances mindfulness and conscious alertness, fostering a deepened sense of aliveness and well being.

The cultivated varieties of peppermint and spearmint are easy to propagate……perhaps too easy. In moderately amended organic soil with a fair amount of watering, the perennial mints are notorious for spreading vigorously by creeping root stock, and difficult to control in most garden settings. If peppermint is something you would like to grow in your own garden, my suggestion is to plant it in a container. It will grow happily there without invading other areas of your garden where you will eventually lose your liking for the plant. Harvesting of the aerial parts of the herb is best when it is in bloom.

As I move through the grasses, I find several more patches of this good medicine. Feeling blessed with plenty, I cut what I need, offer my gratitude and return home, to prepare, dry and store my bountiful harvest for winter- long enjoyment. I most appreciate the clarity and mindfulness that Poleo tea brings, especially at times when I am in need of creative inspiration.


PLEASE NOTE: Posts on Yarrow’s Garden Blog and Three Sisters Medicine are for educational and inspirational purposes only and not intended as a substitute for medical diagnosis or treatment. Herbs are Medicine! Proceed with care. Self-diagnosis and self-treatment of serious medical conditions is inappropriate and unwise. If you have or suspect a medical condition, it is your responsibility to consult a medical practitioner for appropriate treatment.

THREE SISTERS APOTHECARY offers a variety of dry tea blends and tinctured formulations.Formulas are custom blended for your specific health and healing needs. Contact me at skyedarter@gmail.com or phone: 719.783.0465 to schedule an appointment.

24. June 2013 · Comments Off on Yarrow’s Garden~The Beloved Wild Rose · Categories: Flower Essences, Health and Healing, Plant Medicines, Yarrow's Garden Blog


Whidbey2012 027From very early in botanical history, poets, romantics, mystics and gardeners have sung the praises of the Rose.  First cultivated by the ancient Persians, then by the Arabs, Greeks and Romans, the rose has become glorified as one of the most beloved flowering perennials of all time.

Although most of today’s rapture with the rose is based upon cultivated varieties, I will be focusing on our Colorado native Wild Rose (Rosa woodsii) and then comment on the uses of the rose around the world.

If you have walked the mountain trails here in the Wet Mountain Valley during June or early July, you have certainly come upon the wild rose in bloom. This sensually fragrant, showy, pink, five-petaled beauty is common along trails, roadsides, open meadows and slopes, along forest edges and shady creekside areas, in the full sun or part shade habitats of the foothills and montane zones. They establish themselves easily in most soil types, prefer consistently moist soil and can develop extensive root systems forming dense thickets. Plants in the rose family are typically upright woody shrubs, often with thorns (although shrubs like Mountain Mahogany—Cercocarpus montanus, Choke Cherry, Padus virginiana, and various Cinquefoils—Potentilla sp, are without thorns). All will have an edible fruit of some kind. The familiar rose hip, sour, sweet and astringing, is rich in vitamin C and flavonoids; a favorite food for deer, elk, birds, and bears. It makes an excellent cooling, tension-taming tea.

The widespread popularity of the cultivated rose began near the tenth century in Northern Persia, spreading to China, India, Morocco and throughout Europe. Then, as now, roses were grown for their beauty, fragrance, and for their healing properties, culinary uses, and skin care. One of the first preparations from rose was the floral water. Known for its antiseptic and astringent properties, rosewater used topically, was applied to burns and inflammations.Today, rosewater is still in use for firming the skin, found especially soothing for dry and aging skin conditions. A prized extract of rose is the distilled essential oil or attar. Considered one of the most precious and sought-after fragrances of all flowers, rose oil is used today to lift the spirit from depression, to decrease anxiety, and applied to the abdomen, known to decrease pelvic congestion and menstrual pain. To date, perfume chemists have been unable to replicate this sweet, woody fragrance, explaining why rose essential oil currently retails for about $208 for 5ml (30 ml equals one ounce).

In traditional Chinese medicine, rose flowers are used in herbal formulations to promote circulation, disperse blood stagnation, regulate menstrual bleeding, and to restore harmonious digestion. In various Native American herbal traditions, all parts of the rose have been used. Tea of rose petals, leaves and roots were relied upon to reduce high fevers in children, as a wash for eye inflammations, and to ease emotional tension. Old World European traditions use rose petals and hips for acute inflammatory lung conditions including sore throat, to promote nasal flow and relieve bronchial congestion. In chronic cases, rose petal waters and baths were used for treating the excessive heat of certain arthritic conditions. Since the flower and hips are edible, many culinary uses have been created for rose, including wines, cordials and liqueurs as well as jams, jellies, teas, honeys and syrups. French cuisine makes use of rose petals to embellish even the most ordinary of presentations.

Today, the flower essence of the wild rose is often used to address the more soulful issues of depression, apathy and despair, fatigue, alienation, or lack of compassion. Rose is said to balance the love forces of the heart so that the soul can find enthusiasm in earthly life, worldly tasks and human relationships. As a universal expression of unconditional love, passion, nurturance, compassion, giving and caring, the rose is revered worldwide, respected and appreciated as a healer and remedy with broad application. The native Wild Rose, hardy and relatively easy to grow, has a soft, light, and uplifting energy and would make a great addition to any high altitude garden. The joy of stepping outside your door and experiencing this calming and enlivening energy leaves no excuse for the blues.


PLEASE NOTE: Posts on Yarrow’s Garden Blog andThree Sisters Medicine are for educational and inspirational purposes only and not intended as a substitute for medical diagnosis or treatment. Herbs are Medicine! Proceed with care. Self-diagnosis and self-treatment of serious medical conditions is inappropriate and unwise. If you have or suspect a medical condition, it is your responsibility to consult a medical practitioner for appropriate treatment.

THREE SISTERS APOTHECARY offers a variety of dry tea blends and tinctured formulations.Formulas are custom blended for your specific health and healing needs. Contact me at skyedarter@gmail.com or phone: 719.783.0465 to schedule an appointment.

20. June 2013 · Comments Off on National Pollinator Week · Categories: Plant Medicines, Wellness

Hi Everyone~

This is National Pollinator Week. As our climate heaves and blows, our pollinators are greatly impacted. What are you doing to support them on your piece of heaven? Want more vegetables–grow more flowers– and watch the pollinators find your veggie blossoms. Without these precious friends, we would not be able to survive. Grow plants that are early and late pollen and nectar sources, have fresh water available, and landscape with pollinator magnet plants for a thriving garden and colorful environment.

16. May 2013 · Comments Off on Yarrow’s Garden Blog~Nettles:Wild Food, Good Medicine · Categories: Health and Healing, Plant Medicines, Yarrow's Garden Blog · Tags: , ,

The air is fresh with a hint of dampness. I can feel my lungs relax as I inhale the earthy richness of the wet soil. Rock outcroppings apron the open path. Occasional giant ponderosas offer shade, buffering, and the space for quiet solitude as I walk. Creekside sounds—the honking of geese, the chattering of mallards, and the flowing riffle of the creek itself, provide a soothing backdrop to my outing this morning. Around the bend and beneath a granite overhang, I begin my search for one of my favorite of spring tonic plants, Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica,, U. gracilis  or U. urens).

Nettles-Grape Creek 016Protected by the rocks and fed by their seeping rivulets of moisture, my search drops me to my knees for a closer look. Nestled within thick root structures of adjacent grasses and hugged by a carpet of moss, new nettle shoots emerge, beginning their upward journey to leaf, flower and fruit. In this radiantly cool shaded wetness, and among other thorny neighbors—shrubs of wild raspberry and gooseberry, the patches of nettles will soon offer their mineral rich wild selves as both food and medicine. Absorbed and contained within is their bountiful alchemy of earth and water, grounding and cooling. Within a matter of weeks these sprouts will form prickly spikes from three to six feet in height. The stems of nettles are square with opposite, lance-shaped leaves displaying broadly serrated edges. Stiff hairs appearing on the stems and paler undersides of the leaves create a formidable defense. When inadvertently touched, the hairs will eject a droplet of formic acid (ouch!), producing their painful sting and irritating skin reaction. While harvesting, wearing gloves is essential. Once the leaves have wilted the hairs lose their potency and plants can be handled without worry. To insure their optimal quality as food or medicine, plants are best harvested before flowering takes place. The flowers of the nettle plant are greenish in color and inconspicuous. Emerging from the leaf axils are gracefully flowing cascades of tiny blooms. The plants are dioiecious and wind pollinated, with separate plants having male and female flowers.

CBWF-2012 114Stinging nettles, a favorite old world springtime tonic, has received a lot of press and public attention lately. By some, it is considered an annoying weed; by others a valuable remedy for clearing body toxins and, most notably, for nourishing and restoring strength and vitality. By reputation, it’s a kind of “Geritol” of the plant kingdom. In today’s terms, it might be labeled a “superfood”. Recent media attention by Nicole Spiridakis of NPR (National Public Radio Archives, NETTLES BRING SPRING TO THE KITCHEN, April 17, 2013) featured a segment praising the benefits of this wild food and medicine as holding nature’s hidden secret of vitality.

As a wild food, nettle leaves are protein-rich (claims as high as 24%), containing iron, magnesium, potassium and many other trace minerals. Vitamin B, C, beta-carotene, chlorophyll, histamine and quercitin make it one of the most nutrient rich wild food herbs. The fresh wilted leaves can be steamed and eaten as a vegetable similar to spinach or added to soups and stews. Reports indicate that nettle leaves have more protein content than spinach. Nettles pesto is quite the treat!

As medicine, all parts of the stinging nettle plant, including the roots and seeds, have value. Dried, the leaves make a springtime infusion (tea) loaded with nourishment, with a pleasant, slightly sweet, slightly salty taste. I like to combine nettle leaf, red clover buds, alfalfa leaf and oatstraw in a springtime infusion, to awaken my system after the long months of winter hibernation, to strengthen and tone all body tissues and processes that require the presence of minerals for optimum functioning. The blood enriching nature of nettles is well known.

Energetically, stinging nettles is astringent, slightly diuretic, drying, cooling and somewhat stimulating. Its properties specialize in moving congestion and supporting the body in expelling damp and stagnant metabolic waste products; the functions of letting go and releasing. It is helpful in reducing inflammation and cleansing the system of unhealthy toxins that might show up as arthritis, gout or skin conditions such as eczema. The presence of histamine makes nettles a valuable ally for treating hay fever and other seasonal allergies. Nettles improves the body’s resistance to pollens, molds, and environmental pollutants. In traditional European bath houses, the intense practice of rubbing or slapping fresh nettle plants on painful arthritic joints [urtication] is not uncommon, and used to awaken circulation and the movement of energy by opening  blocked circulatory pathways.

CBWF-2012 115Seeds of stinging nettle can be harvested in mid-summer and are highly energizing and stimulating to the adrenals. Although considered an endocrine tonic, a note of caution is suggested to anyone who is already plagued with adrenal fatigue–nettle seeds are stimulating and thus could cause further adrenal depletion. The roots, harvested in the fall, are well known used in combination with Saw Palmetto berries in the treatment of benign prostatic hypertrophy (BHP). Again, this is not a condition where self-medication is advised; but instead working with a capable and experienced herbalist or natural practitioner.

Europeans know of the benefits of the fibers found in the mature stalks of nettle. Many times stronger than cotton, nettle fiber was once used in a textile industry for making durable and luxuriously soft fabric;  also used traditionally in making cordage, fish netting and other durable fiber products. [Photo to the immediate upper left shows mature stinging nettle in bloom].

Reflecting on the habitat where nettle thrives, it is easily possible to see the connection with its usefulness in the human body. Its relationship with water is clear by the plant’s affinity to moist soil and flowing water. Its medicinal affinity for the kidneys, urinary bladder, lymphatics and other organs of detoxification and elimination is corollary; the cool, emotionally flowing, and watery spirit of the planet Venus. In the balance is its strong, sharp, upright and boundary-protective qualities, expressing the intense masculine qualities of the planet Mars. Nettles teaches the balance of power through love. Through its sting, it teaches us awareness through presence, and the importance of paying attention to our personal space and surroundings. It expresses a wildness, a character of flow and grace, the balance of mind and heart.

I will be returning to my favorite patch of nettles in another week or two to determine whether the time is right to ask nettles for its medicinal gifts for harvest. This kind of respect is certainly appropriate protocol for sharing in the benefits of this honorable healer.

PLEASE NOTE: Posts on Yarrow’s Garden Blog andThree Sisters Medicine are for inspirational purposes only and not intended as a substitute for medical diagnosis or treatment. Herbs are Medicine! Proceed with care. Self-diagnosis and self-treatment of serious medical conditions is inappropriate and unwise. If you have or suspect a medical condition, it is your responsibility to consult a medical practitioner for appropriate treatment.

THREE SISTERS APOTHECARY offers a variety of dry tea blends and tinctured formulations.Formulas are custom blended for your specific health and healing needs. Contact me at skyedarter@gmail.com or phone: 719.783.0465 to schedule an appointment.

14. April 2013 · Comments Off on Yarrow’s Garden Blog~Healing with Willow · Categories: Yarrow's Garden Blog · Tags: , ,

salicaceae 034Ambling down the open, grassy, two-track toward the pond, my attention is drawn to the three resident Canada geese circling overhead, honking our arrival. At creekside, we are greeted by a wind break of scruffy, red-shafted shrubs. Seen against the backdrop of the greening Wet Mountain Valley and its snow-covered peaks, the overwhelming beauty of the surrounding marshland allows the tense discomfort of my body from the ever-increasing wind to slowly recede from my awareness. We are here to greet the willows and indeed they greet us, ready to share their wisdom and bounty. This moon cycle being called the “Willow Moon” by the Ancients has called me to their home under the guise of learning to weave a basket.

Considered sacred in the folklore of the earliest Americans, we indeed felt like we were on sacred ground. Willow is a member of the family Salicaceae (Willow), shared with the Aspen (Populus tremuloides) and the Cottonwood (Populus sp).  Ranging in elevation from 4,000-9,500 ft and up into the tundra, typically growing in belts of shrubby thickets, this species, the Coyote/Sandbar Willow (Salix exigua), was most revered for its usefulness in basketry as well as for its medicine. For our purposes, the best time to gather willows for weaving is now, before signs of new Spring growth become evident. IMG_4425Willows are deciduous and before long, at our elevation, will bud with long, slender leaves and flowering parts called catkins. As with other members of this family, willows have separate male and female plants, each with their characteristic flowering sexual morphology. Plants are either wind pollinated or depend upon the services of local pollinators.

As my fingers begin to interweave and shape the slender twigs I have selected, I drift between my present reality with teacher and companions into a place between time and space. I see myself, bone knife in hand, skinning the bark off the fresh willow stems, drying it, and simmering the plant material in an earthen vessel over an open fire, creating a strong tea brew. Early native peoples relied on willow for reducing fevers from all types of infections and sedating pain of various origins. A tea of the leaves is strongly emetic and was used as purification in preparation for certain sacred ceremonies.

Being cool, bitter, and slightly drying (astringing) in nature, the active constituents in Salicaceae bark are two prominent glycosides, namely salicin and populin, the earliest predecessors of present day aspirin. Contemporary herbal uses of willow bark include the treatment of inflamed joints, membranes, and irritated tissues, and for any condition with heavy or watery excretions of pus or mucous discharges. As a back country first aid, willow is an excellent choice, used topically as an antiseptic poultice for infected wounds, ulcerations, burns, swellings, and eczema, and accompanying pain, while promoting tissue repair. Native to North America is Black Willow (Salix nigra), while the more well known White Willow (Salix alba) is a European cousin. Colorado is host to many native willow species, all having more or less the same chemical constituents and properties. Willow seems to have an affinity for the uro-genital system and has been reportedly used successfully in the treatment of urinary tract infections, benign prostatic hypertrophy and bleeding uterine fibroids. As a tonic, willow bark tea can benefit digestion by stimulating digestive secretions and increasing the appetite. By sedating nervous irritability, willow is calming and can promote a restful sleep. For those on anti-coagulant therapy or sensitive to aspirin, willow bark medicine is contra-indicated.

Willow basket 001Replicating the famous work of Edward Bach, noted English physician, healing practitioners today have found the flower essence of Willow to be particularly useful for the stiff, dry and contracted personality type; one who is often resentful, inflexible, blaming and frequently bitter at one’s life situation. Willow brings to us the watery qualities of its growth habitat and surroundings, fostering acceptance and forgiveness, bringing a sense of gracious flow, resilience and inward mobility to the one in need of softening and yielding. Willow medicine helps humans flow in and out of life’s situations more effortlessly, interweaving ourselves within the community of other flowing and resilient beings.

Basket now completed, willow medicine resides within. May we all embrace with fluidity and resilience the healing wisdom of willow as we walk the sacred Path of Life.

Christina MacLeod, Westcliffe, Colorado,, April 14, 2013

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PLEASE NOTE: Posts on Yarrow’s Garden Blog andThree Sisters Medicine are for inspirational purposes only and not intended as a substitute for medical diagnosis or treatment. Herbs are Medicine! Proceed with care. Self-diagnosis and self-treatment of serious medical conditions is inappropriate and unwise. If you have or suspect a medical condition, it is your responsibility to consult a medical practitioner for appropriate treatment.

THREE SISTERS APOTHECARY offers a variety of dry tea blends and tinctured formulations.Formulas are custom blended for your specific health and healing needs. Contact me at skyedarter@gmail.com or phone: 719.783.0465 to schedule an appointment.