Tag Archives: vintage herbal

Wapi’ Yechi :: Tonic Herbs for Balance + Harmony

pejuta win (herb woman) via sodahead

In the wise way of the Native American people, the concept of wapi’ yechi, or bringing a person back to balance, is deeply rooted in the way of medicine. The herb woman (pejuta win) administered herbs and contacted animal or ancestral spirits to heal a sick person.  It’s amazing that curing is equated with balance. The concept of restoring balance is inherent to herbalism, while modern allopathic medicine unfortunately has forgotten this wisdom.

We hear and talk about STRESS all the time, but really when you stop to think about what it actually means, it becomes a little less … stressful. Stress is whatever causes the body to be pulled away from balance. The nature of life is change and therefore no one can escape stress. When stress gets the best of us illness (imbalance) occurs. However, there are herbs that help us cope with stress and restore balance … wapi’ yechi.

Tonic herbs are masters of balance, like Libra. The secret to their gift is that they are dual-natured, like gemini; they contain opposite groups of constituents that each carry opposite signals to the body. The body then chooses based on “specific hunger” which action it needs, based on the situation at hand. For example … echinacea is a tonic herb that has the ability to BOTH lower white blood cell count or raise white blood cell count. If a person has LOW white blood cell count, their body would interpret the echinacea as a white blood cell ENHANCER, and vise versa!! (Specific hunger is the idea that the body is wise and knows what is best for it, such as a child with a fever craving a cucumber…knowingly or not the cucumber cools and reduces fever! This happens all the time, but the important thing is to listen to your own body. Cravings are a whole other story….) This is an amazing interaction between plant and body that reflects our oneness with all of nature…they have this unspoken understanding that transcends the need for specific drugs or “instructions” from us!

Our bodies and the plants are truly partners in healing and harmony.

It is somewhat hard for us to understand that many herbs can have two opposite effects on the body, depending on what is needed at the time. Perhaps that is because modern medicine focuses on solving one problem in the body at a time. Not surprisingly, this approach always causes many side effects, because this method only furthers the IMBALANCE in the body.  A people’s medicine reveals much about the way of life and beliefs that govern daily living and perception of life. It seems that modern medicine ignores the concept of balance and makes it foreign to us. Using tonic herbal formulas daily is a proactive way to “fill in the gaps” of our current medical model.

Tonic herbs are always non-toxic, dual-natured, suitable for long-term use, and restore balance to body systems that are under stress. They don’t need any instructions, just take them and they will work WITH your body to fix what needs fixing. Here are some tonic herbs:



licorice root




passion flower

milk thistle




yerba mate …. these are just a few! as always feel free to message me with questions or help finding the right tonic herbs!

Trust the inherent wisdom of your body and the plants! Tonic herbs are like tune-ups for your body. Even if you don’t feel sick or imbalanced, or you aren’t sure which systems are off balance in your body, you can revive the age-old practice of taking tonic herbs everyday for optimal health.

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11 Herbal Books to Inspire, Enchant, and Charm Your Way to Good Health

Maude Grieve’s Modern Herbal, 1971 via Botanical.com

Herbals are books that offer information about the uses, properties, and botanical descriptions of herbs — and it’s no wonder they were amongst the first books produced in Ancient Egypt, China, India, and Europe. Ancient herbals and their modern-day counterparts are always fascinating to me, filled with legend, folklore, and other tell-tale information that reveals the quirks and idiosyncrasies of the times they were born of. Many herbals were illustrated to assist readers in plant identification, and some used the doctrine of signatures, which purported that an herb’s physical appearance revealed its healing virtues. (For example, lungwort’s leaves look similar to diseased lungs, the area of the body they are used to treat.)
The beauty of herbals is how interconnected they all are, like branches of one tree, all referencing others and tapping into the wealth of herbal information passed down through the ages. It’s fascinating to see how modern-day science and research combine with the empirical data and theories of the ages in later herbals. Here are some of my beloved herbals, dating from the 17th Century to the amazing herbals still being produced in our days:

1. Bruton-Seal, Julie, and Seal, Matthew, 2009. Backyard Medicine: Harvest and Make Your Own Herbal Remedies. Skyhorse Publishing. (*rare)

2. Christopher, John R., 1996. School of Natural Healing. Nutribooks Corporation.

3. Culpeper, Nicholas, (1653). Culpeper’s Complete Herbal: A Book of Natural Remedies of Ancient Ills. Applewood Books, 2006.

4. De Bairacle Levy, Juliette, 1997. Nature’s Children. Ash Tree Publishing. (*rare)

Herbs + Things by Jeanne Rose, 1972.

5. Gladstar, Rosemary, 2008. Rosemary Gladstar’s Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health: 175 Teas, Tonics, Oils, Salves, Tinctures, and Other Natural Remedies for the Entire Family. Story Publishing.

6. Green, Chelsea, 2005. The Herbalist’s Way: The Art and Practice of Healing with Plant Medicines. Chelsea Green Publishing.

7. Grieve, Maud, 1971. A Modern Herbal: the Medicinal, Culinary, Cosmetic and Economic Properties, Cultivation and Folk-Lore of Herbs, Grasses, Fungi, Shrubs & Trees with their modern scientific uses. Dover Publications.

8. Kloss, Jethro, (1939). Back to Eden: the Classic Guide to Herbal Medicine, Natural Foods, and Home Remedies Since 1939. Lotus Press, 2004.

9. Rose, Jeanne, 1972. Herbs & Things. Penguin Books.

10. Shaouli, Rabbi Moshe Cohen, and Fisher, Rabbi Yaakov, 1999. Nature’s Wealth: Health and Healing Plants based on the teachings of the Rambam. Publisher unknown. (*very rare)

11. Tis Mal Crow, 2001. Native Plants, Native Healing: Traditional Muskagee Way. Native Voices Publishing.

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Books: 6 Great Herbal Reads for Homemade Cures


Would you be quipped to handle a poison ivy breakout, or cure a migraine using household ingredients? Brush up on your herbal know-how with the classics and some of the less common herbals, all available at Better World Books:

Grandmother’s Secrets: her green guide to health from plants, by Jean Palaiseul (*classic!)
I am just reading this one now and using it as a reference in my herbal research. I love it because it is translated from the French and the rich folkloric spirit remains vibrant. Reading it makes me feel like I am cuddled up next to a rustic hearth listening to a wise French grandmother tell the olden tales of herbs we still use today.

Common Herbs for Natural Health, by Juliette de Bairacli Levy (*classic!)
Anyone who knows anything about herbalism has come across this legendary herbalist’s works. She was a pioneer woman who travelled with the gypsies, farmers, and mountain people, and lived in countless countries across the world, collecting herbal wisdom from wherever she stepped foot. This volume is the first you should own, as a general guide to common herbs. Her other works include special herbals for children, pets, and the endless stories of her travels infused with herbal lore.

20,000 Secrets of Tea, by Victoria Zak
I really love this book. I use it often for inspiration for tea blends and for its index which lists ailments and the various herbs that heal them. For such a small book, Zak has managed to fit in an impressive materia medica section, recipes for delicious teas, all sprinkled with lots of clever ideas and tips for making the most of your herbal endeavors.

How to make your own Herbal Cosmetics, by Liz Sanderson (*vintage!)
This book was written in 1977 and it totally looks like it. The illustrations are so retro that you’d imagine this was the herbal that Rhoda from the Mary Tyler Moore Show had on her nightstand. It’s filled with hundreds of recipes for every type of lotion, potion, cream, rinse, perfume, and tonic for light hair, dark hair, thinning hair, thick hair, zits, freckles, and of course, wrinkles. The tone of the book is delightfully informal (like the decade it was born of), sort of  like an old girlfriend giving you a makeover.

Herbal Remedies in Pots, by Effie Romain + Sue Hawkey
One of the first herb books I ordered on BWB, what I like is how the authors laid out the book according to various maladies and which herbs to grow together in pots for all-in-one cures. For example, you might plant a pot of English Lavender, Milk Thistle, and  Mugwort to banish hangovers. The book gives directions for planting, cultivating, and formulating remedy recipes for all the tummy aches, tooth aches, ear aches, and well, whole body aches you can think of.

Native American Wisdom, compiled by Alan Jacobs
Though this is not an herbal book per se (it just so happened to be atop my current stack of herbals), it is relevant as the Native Americans derived much knowledge and wisdom from the green world. This book is a compilation of various writings and sayings from different tribes’ chiefs, medicine men, and women. It is a very small book, but like a simple poem, entire universes and lifelong lessons are held within its words.

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