One of the most rewarding aspects of being a teacher is I get to meet – and spend lots of time with – incredible people! One such person is Barbra Edwards.
Barbra was a student of The Alchemy of Herbal Medicine from 2010-2011 and then took the second year clinical from 2011-2012. I’m so delighted to have Barbra as my first student feature. She is one of the most kind-hearted, creative, and beautiful souls I know. Thank you Barbra for sharing your story here!
Not only is Barbra a lover of herbs, she’s also an exceptional painter, her works shown in private collections and galleries across Canada. Please visit her website here. And please check out her opening July 11th on Salt Spring Island at the ArtCraft Showcase Gallery: SHIFT exploring layers of perspective. Barbra Edwards + Fiona Duthie Friday, July 11th at 6 pm. More information here.
“Moving to the Gulf Islands almost ten years ago is one of the most important things I’ve ever done. BC suits my spirit. Pender Island’s glorious (most of the time!) weather and extended growing seasons give me opportunities to integrate new herbal skills daily. Learning the joys of herbal medicine came at an important passage in my life. My background as a photography major and an obsessed artist weaves naturally in and out of my time with the plant world.
My passion for a favourite plant can shift over the years. This is not the response of a fickle person but rather has to do with the wisdom of the plants themselves. I’m beginning to understand that they seem to present themselves when we need to pay attention. That in itself is of great interest. For the first time this summer a single Digitalis purpurea (Foxglove) has literally grown at my front door. The poisonous Foxglove grows all over the islands but not usually at my front doorway! Digitalis purpurea did get me reading about other herbs for the heart at a time when matters of the heart are crucial to me.
Looking in my cupboards, I am using more of my herbal knowledge than I realize; vinegars, herbal teas, and tinctures are a regular part of my family’s life now. My grandchildren laugh when they come to me with a complaint that I can gleefully say ‘“excellent, a guinea pig to practice my herbal skills on!” They secretly love the attention that comes with my sharing something that most often smells and feels so good as their path to feeling well.
I grow a number of more ‘exotic’ herbs, Osha, Valeriana Officinalis (Valerian), Inula helenium (Elecampagne),but it’s the everyday herbs I use most. The simple Calendula officinalis that grows in my garden is one that I make a nourishing body oil with. This is a great lymphatic herb with anti-fungal, anti-tumour properties among others. Raw sesame oil is my carrier oil of choice for it’s stability, healing properties with smaller molecules that are easy to absorb by human skin. I infuse buds and the entire fresh flower in the oil for up to a year, the first two weeks letting the infusion take place on a sunny window ledge.
Rosa spp. (Rose) always lifts a person’s spirits – just watch anyone’s face as they breathe in wild roses. I am tincturing some this month for a friend who has had a major loss in her life recently.
Today in the garden I’ll go first to another favourite Rosemary officinalis, just for the joy of breathing in her scent and trim a few branches for a new batch of herbal vinegar.
My go-to tea is not a blend but a simple infused Avena saliva (Oatstraw) with whole Oatstraw tops. I fill my water bottle with Oatstraw tea to take with me any time I’m off island. Nourishes the nervous system while I do errands in the city.
Another favourite tea, delicate, refreshing, an excellent tonic, strengthens lungs. (from Rosemary Gladstar’s Family Herbal)
Tonic Tea Blend
2 parts red clover blossom
2 parts comfrey leaf
1 part oat straw
1 part rose hips
1 part lemon grass
1 part mullein
1 part hibiscus
2 parts spearmint
1/4 C = 1 part
blend dried herbs, keep in glass jar, labelled with date, ingredients, store in dark room.
1 tsp. per cup 3 x day
Two herbal books on my bedside table right now:
The Boreal Herbal, Wild Food and Medicine Plants of the North by Beverly Gray
Healing with the Herbs of Life by Lesley Tierra
Thank You Barbra!
Check out Barbra’s beautiful website, and remember to check out her opening July 11th on Salt Spring Island at the ArtCraft Showcase Gallery: SHIFT exploring layers of perspective.