What a better way to ring in the Spring Equinox than a wildcraft hike. “Wildcrafting is the practice of harvesting plants from their natural or ‘wild’ habitat for food or medicinal purposes.” The three of us spent the morning hiking through Romero Canyon in the Santa Barbara Mountains with the help of Liz Collins, founder of Anahata Healing Arts (www.anahatahealingarts.net).
Our goal for the day, besides getting in some exercise on this first day of spring, was to learn from an expert herbalist on how to responsibly and ethically partake of the bounty available to us. To be truly responsible, a wildcrafter must have thorough knowledge of the land they harvest, in order to protect and preserve the plants, their viability and their ultimate existence. To learn more about how to protect the plants in your area, visit www.unitedplantsavers.org, an organization committed to protecting native medicinal plants in both the United States and Canada.
We learned many amazing things today, and are excited about the prospect of including some of the following local plants in our up and coming products.
Mugwort (Artemesia vulgaris) – One of the oldest recognized herbs, it was universally known for “protection and prophecy.” Affectionately called “Mother-wort” by some, Mugwort is well known for its use in irregular periods, menopause and other menstrual problems. At one time, it was a staple ingredient in beer, long before hops. Mugwort has been used in ritualistic ceremonies to increase psychic powers and lucid dreams. For today’s applications, it can be used as a tea to ease menstruation, detoxify the liver, assist digestion and help you dream. A word of caution, pregnant women should never touch or use Mugwort in any capacity.
Yerba Santa (Erodictyion californicum) – Highly regarded by the Chumash Indians in California as a “Sacred Herb,” Yerba Santa was once used to alleviate emotional blockage and release grief and sadness. Today, it can be used for upper respiratory conditions including colds, coughs, asthma and bronchitis. It can also be used as a topical pain reliever for bruises, sprains and is especially good for insect bites.
Elderberry (Sambucus mexicana) – Elderberry is an amazing gift from nature. Both the berries and flowers can be used for a variety of purposes and are known for their high antioxidant activity. They have been shown to boost the immune system, improve heart health, and fight against coughs, colds and even the flu. Additionally, Elderberry fruit can be used to make wine, jams, and pies. Liz let us taste a delicious Elderberry juice she brewed from the flowers, which helps to calm and cool the body; however, use caution when handling the flowers because the roots, bark, leaves and stems can be toxic.
We as a civilization depend 100% on plants … from the air we breathe to the food on our table. At Mindful Mixtures, practicing mindfulness is at the forefront of everything we do, therefore, knowing how to care for what is in our own backyard is as important to us as building a quality product. If you decide to partake in the wildcrafting experience, please educate yourself. Be mindful about the vulnerability of the plants you take, how much you take, and where you take them from. The plants and our planet will thank you.