Herbs A-Z: Achillea & Acorus


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Hi everyone! We’re back from a brief hiatus, and kicking off a new series on our podcast feed. We’re going to be profiling every one of the herbs on the shelves in our home apothecary. Why? Because we definitely have our favorites, herbs we work with really frequently – and these also tend to be the herbs we talk about most on the show. So we want to make sure everyone gets a bit of attention!

We begin this week with Achillea & Acorus. Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) is an herb with complex energetic qualities, particularly along the warming/cooling axis. It’s what we call a “polycrest” herb, one with impacts on several different body systems and the capacity to help out with a wide variety of health issues.

Calamus (Acorus calamus) could perhaps be reductively described as “a digestive herb”, but it’s much more than that. Calamus acts notably on the vagus nerve – and so, on all the many internal organs which are connected to it. It eases transition into the parasympathetic “rest and digest” state, and opens the senses into wide-angle perception.

Mentioned in this episode:

  • The 2021 AHG Symposium is coming up soon -October 15th-17th – and tickets are still available! Katja will be presenting on Recovering Health in the Context of Chronic Illness; Ryn is presenting on Oneirogenic Herbs & Dreaming.
  • Herbstalk, Boston’s local herb conference, will this year will be one day only, September 25th. We’re presenting a class on herbal management of chronic pain.
  • Achillea millefolium profile at GoBotany, an excellent plant ID site, especially for the New England area.
  • Acorus calamus profile at GoBotany.
  • M Grieve attributes “sell your coat and buy betony” to “an old Italian proverb”. She also cites a Spanish saying. A number of other places (including Wikipedia) repeat the two in tandem without further citation… which makes us think she popularized, if not originated, these sayings! You’ll sometimes find it attributed to the Romans, too, and in fact we found a couple places claiming it for Wiltshire or Sussex, England. The thing Ryn was thinking of is the Regimen sanitatis Salernitanum, 12th-13th century; it doesn’t look like the quote comes from there.
  • Thetis is Achilles’ mother.
  • jim mcdonald’s profile on calamus has an excellent explanation of the asarone hepatotoxicity question, and also good clarifications on the botanical varieties of the plant.

Enjoyed these herb profiles? These were done off-the cuff & on-the-spot, but our organized & comprehensive presentation of our herbal allies is in the Holistic Herbalism Materia Medica course. We have detailed profiles of 90 medicinal herbs! Plus you get everything that comes with enrollment in our courses: twice-weekly live Q&A sessions, lifetime access to current & future course material, discussion threads integrated in each lesson, guides & quizzes, and more.

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194 episodes