Seeds of good health
You can use common backyard plants to treat everything from a cold to an ear ache.
Clinical herbalist Emily Sanders will show how during the Winter Wellness Medicine Making Workshop from 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday in the Arroyo Room at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, 1212 Mission Canyon Road.
Under Ms. Sanders’ guidance, students will make a sage salve chest rub, a garlic mullein ear ache oil, a sinus steam and a yarrow tea you pour in a bath to treat the cold or flu.
“We’ve been using herbal remedies for thousands of years. It’s only been since the 1950s when we started to use more pharmaceuticals or laboratory-based medicines,” Ms. Sanders, 31, told the News-Press as she walked on the garden trails and pointed to plants that she’ll use in her workshop such as the bath tea’s yarrow.
“You make a big pot of the tea on your stove, and pour it into your bathtub,” said Ms. Sanders, a Santa Barbara native who earned her certification in 2012 at the North American Institute of Medical Herbalism in Boulder, Colo. She’s the director and founder of Santa Barbara-based Artemisa Academy of Herbal Arts & Healing and a nutrition, anatomy and pathology instructor at the Santa Barbara Body Therapy Institute.
“Yarrow was used in Greek and Roman times to stuff into war wounds to stop bleeding. It’s known as a master of blood and fever. It’s specific for colds and flus,” said Ms. Sanders, who has taught for three years at the botanic garden and leads herb walks there and elsewhere.
“Yarrow is high in essential oils, which are anti-bacterial and anti-viral,” Ms. Sanders said. “It helps to bring down a fever. If you’re breathing in the steam from it, it’s killing any microbes that are growing in your sinuses. It helps to expel mucus.”
She walked up to sages and praised the plants.
“Sages in general are antimicrobial and high in essential oils for killing the rhinovirus, which is the common cold,” said Ms. Sanders, who will teach students how to quickly infuse sages with organic olive oil and add melted beewax to create a salve. You rub it on your chest.
Ms. Sanders said she has used hummingbird and purple sages and, for deeper chest congestion, black sage.
She noted the chest rub can be used as a preventative treatment. She rubs it on herself when she’s heading to Los Angeles International Airport during cold and flu season.
Ms. Sanders walked down a trail to mullein flowers, which can make your ear feel better.
“We mash up garlic and mullein flowers and put that in a jar (with organic olive oil) and let that sit a couple weeks,” Ms. Sanders said. “People rub in that their ears for ear aches and sinus infections. It’s anti-inflammatory and anti-viral.”
Her workshop also includes the creation of a sinus steam. Ms. Sanders has her students mix organic olive oil with diluted, essential oils, such as those found in mint, cypress and eucalyptus leaves.
“We put a few drops of that mixture in hot water, and people can breathe in the steam, which acts a strong decongestant,” Ms. Sanders said. “You start breathing easier in a few minutes.”
Ms. Sanders, who considers herself a “conservative herbalist,” said she doesn’t have the students make anything they digest because external treatments pose a lesser risk of side effects. “Just because it’s natural doesn’t make it safe. There are herbs that are quite potent and toxic and have quite a many side effects.”
She added that she has students rub a small portion of the external treatments on their skin to make sure they’re not allergic.
“Most people don’t have allergies, but there are always exceptions,” Ms. Sanders said. “Someone was allergic to yarrow last year. They put on a salve and within 20 minutes said, ‘Hey, I feel kind of itchy.’ I said, ‘We’re going to wash this off. This is not for you. We’ll use a different medicine.’ “
Scot Pipkin, the garden’s director of education and engagement, said the herbal medicine class is a good way to get people thinking about conservation of California native plants.
Ms. Sanders noted she teaches people a lot about conservation.
“The more we protect our ecosystems, the more we’re growing our medicine chest for generations to come.”
Clinical herbalist Emily Sanders will teach the Winter Wellness Medicine Making Workshop from 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday in the Arroyo Room at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, 1212 Mission Canyon Road.
Cost is $85 for general admission and $65 for garden members. To register, go towww.sbbg.org.
For more information, call the garden at 682-4726.
Ms. Sanders, the director and founder of the Santa Barbara-based Artemisia Academy of Herbal Arts & Healing, leads herb walks at the botanic garden and elsewhere and regularly teaches workshops at the garden. For more information, contact the academy at 769-4926 or firstname.lastname@example.org or go towww.aretemisiaacademy.com.