When I lived in Berkeley, CA for a couple years, I was in need of an acupuncturist to try to help me get over my fear of needles, and de-stress. Luckily, I came across Bronwyn Michaelis, who offers many different types of body work, as well as acupuncture and healing with herbs. Going to her I learned that she had an incredible love of using herbs in our everyday lives – not just for culinary purposes. She taught me about different Chinese healing herbs, how to cook with them and use them for any ailment.
Here is a small interview with Bronwyn regarding herbs:
1) How can herbs aid us in everyday life? (Physically, emotionally, mentally)
Bronwyn: Herbs exemplify how the physical, emotional and mental worlds are connected. For example, one can use yarrow tincture topically to physically stop bleeding if there is a cut. Yarrow helps to re-establish our boundaries which in this case is a damage to the skin; that which separates ourselves from our outside world. Our skin is that which holds us together in many respects. Likewise, yarrow can also be taken for emotional imbalances where we are having trouble setting appropriate boundaries in our lives. There are many herbs that help with mental clarity. Dis ease can come from many directions; emotions, physical injuries and imbalances, mental disharmony, and psychic phenomena. However, the effect of a disharmony from any of these directions usually reaches each level of our beings.
2) What are your favorite herbs/veggies to grow that you use often?
Bronwyn: It’s very difficult to pick only a few of some of my favorite things to grow; sage, mint, chamomile, and chrysanthemum are strong herb contenders. They are beautiful and easy to grow and make great teas and the sage I use for smudging. I also really like to have enough kale in the garden. I can eat kale three times a day. there are so many things to do with it. (kale chips in the dehydrator, kale salad, kale in soup, etc).
3) What is your favorite way to store herbs, and generally how long do you keep them for?
Bronwyn: I like to store my herbs in glass jars. And most herbs last a long time this way if they are kept out of the light. How long I keep them for really depends on the herb. Roots last longer than flowers and leaves.
4) Can you ever use herbs too much?
Bronwyn: Sure, everything has it’s correct dosage. Just as with cooking there is a balance in spicing foods, there is a balance when interacting with herbs and our bodies. When choosing herbs it is like choosing our friends. There are many different people out there, but who we enjoy spending time with depends on the stages we are in our lives, and the mood we are in. And certain people we only enjoy or learn from in the correct dosage. With herbs, the effect changes depending on the dosage we use. When using safflower, for example, we use 3-9 grams to move blood and stop pain for situations like amenorrhea, abdominal pain, or dark purplish skin rashes. However, if we use it to harmonize the blood we use only about 1 gram. This effect can be achieved when adding a pinch of saffron (it’s close sister) when cooking rice.
Bronwyn also grows lots of her own herbs onsite at her clinic in Berkeley. A small labyrinth with isotoma is just one of the cool little nooks in her vast garden. There are fabulous little veggies areas, terraced herbs on a giant cliff, fountains and amazing potted plants. For more info on Bronwyn or her treatments, please go here!