What happened to the Water Protectors? They are still fighting. This is a humanitarian story.
~By Miriah Meiers
The Dakota Access Pipeline has been in service for eighteen months now, beginning in June 2017. It was two years ago this past October that Native American Tribes tried to block its construction near their reservation lands in South Central North Dakota. This became a large protest that escalated into an almost war-like event between the Native Tribes and Morton County Authorities. Many arrests were made on October 22, 2016.
The Dakota Pipeline was built to carry crude oil from Stanley, North Dakota (My hometown) to Pakota, Illinois, in order to increase its exportation to other lands. It crosses 50 counties in four states. It is owned by various companies and merges of these same companies.
This became a mainstream story worldwide capturing the protesting of the construction of this pipeline by various interests and throughout social media. The protestors referred to themselves as Water Protectors and consisted of mostly indigenous Native Americans from various tribes, but specifically the Standing Rock and Cheyenne River Sioux, as it was threatening their land. As this protest stirred up more recognition, even celebrities were calling themselves Water Protectors, as were anyone else in support for the cause.
The protesting started after the initial route was redirected from being 10 miles Northeast of Bismarck, ND to further south near the Standing Rock Reservation, regardless of the Tribes Council Members concerns about water sources and sacred land being disrupted by the oil pipeline. The pipeline runs under the Missouri River.
This was also a very high tension time with a heated presidential election happening in congruence with this historical protest and was directly affected by it. After months of protests by thousands of indigenous and environmental activists, the Obama Administration denied a key permit for the DAPL. A few months later, Trump became president and reversed Obama’s decision and approved construction on the pipeline. This was one of Trump’s first actions as a President, to ensure an increase of domestic energy production. This distressed Native people in the United States and Canada, not only the destruction of land and water, but that the decisions were made discounting indigenous rights.
Today, the pipeline transfers crude oil from the Bakken oil basin of North Dakota at a rate of over 500,000 barrels per day. The Dakota Access Pipeline is not the only pipeline in this area, hundreds if not more are underground, sometimes several per field. The state will most likely run out of pipeline capacity next year, and Energy Transfer recently announced its plans to expand its Dakota Access pipeline, in order to transport more oil.
Timothy Comminhay, a North Dakota native was at Standing Rock throughout its entirety, arriving in September of 2016 and remained there until escorted by the Mandan Police Department via handcuffs February 23, 2017. Tim is an old friend of mine and I’ve had a pleasure to stay in touch with him during this protest, and periodically ever since. He is a modern day human rights activist!
Tim was living in Hawaii at the time the pipeline construction started and when the protest began, he headed home to North Dakota to join the fight. “When I first came to Standing Rock, I came here to fight a pipeline. I thought it was my duty. After a few months of living among so many amazing people unified, it became apparent that we were all here for something larger. We were here to fight for indigenous rights.”
Many people saw footage of this protest through socialmedia and mainstream news sources. North Dakota is also my native state and everyone was heated about it, from many different angles. I chose to express Tim’s perspective because he was there and he was on the front lines of the indigenous side.
On October 22, there were 126 arrests made after a maddening battle between the Morton County law enforcement and the indigenous people. It was not a pretty scene, but the water protectors stood their ground and many were put in handcuffs.
I asked Tim what the craziest thing he saw during this protest. Morton County could not house all of the arrestees in their county jail so they crammed the overflow into DIY chain-link fence kennels inside their garage, after stripping them down to one layer of clothing. North Dakota gets COLD and concrete floors make it worse.
Tim stayed in Mandan, waiting on court for misdemeanor charges. Most people were charged with the same two offences; Trespassing and Obstruction of a government function. After being released, he started working for Freshetcollective.org, dedicated to helping others fulfill their legal obligations and getting bonded out of custody. This organization focused on supporting everyone involved, helping to assure them that their sacrifices made a difference.
After many months of playing in the Morton County legal system, many charges were dropped, usually the day before trail. Tim said he was disappointed. He waited a long time, patiently, and helping others to show up, only to be denied his chance to speak with charges dropped instantly pretrial, usually only one day before trail, for everyone. There are still a couple who were convicted of more serious charges that are serving time in State prison.
Today, Tim is still fighting the fight. He is currently in Minnesota, challenging oil extraction companies. I do not blame him for not wanting to be in his home state. Tim has a great message, “We are running out of time! We need to first of all resist our government that wants nothing but to make a profit by exploiting all of our planets resources and our human rights to live here.” Extreme measures need to be taken, and I agree. Before we can save what is broken, it is time to stop that which is destroying our natural world. “We can’t be defeated!” said Tim, after asking him if he is going to continue this activist work, “If we are defeated, then we are going to lose everything! Even if the whole world realized tomorrow that it was time to work together, it would probably take three or four generations to repair what we’ve done to this world.”
NDPL is only one of many pipelines that transport oil throughout the Midwest. There are constantly new permits being granted for more. This particular pipeline however, did draw attention to a current reality, which is based around profit from natural resources. These tribes stood up to a system that places profit above everything else, both our natural world and the people that live on it. That is a scary equation. These forces seem highly unlikely to stop their ways anytime soon. The North Dakota Native Tribes had the courage to stand up for their rights. We should all learn from them. We must not let greed put humanity at such high risk. What is all this profit for anyways? At what point does the future of our planet, its life and our species stop being bought and sold?
About Miriah: Adventure seeker, snowboarder, mountain climber, river rat, yogi, surfer wannabe, outdoor enthusiast. Writer, artist, activist, green medicine cratswoman, wondering explorer.
I became a member and volunteer of Herbalists Without Borders in 2012 as the Healing Arts Project Coordinator, while living in Denver, Colorado. In 2014, I began constructing the quarterly newsletters and have served as the editor since and love it. The early newsletters were constructed while I lived remotely from Northern California; off-the-grid, on the move, and usually without internet access! I currently reside in Telluride, Colorado.
I’m striving to connect more with other Herbalists Without Borders globally on my travels and be an advocate writer on behalf of our non-profit, and freelance writer for other common causes. I truly support the humanitarian work of Herbalists Without Borders. I believe in humanity, and the moon and the stars. I’m passionate about protecting the Earth’s medicine and the rights to have access to it.
~By Wren Fulner, HWB Feature Blog Writer
In an increasingly divisive political world, intersectional activism is more essential than ever. The recent project of Kristin Henningsen and Kenzie McDonald in Burlington, Vermont to start an inclusive and representational conversation around trauma through a weekend long workshop is an excellent template for healers to address community needs. This event came together through an alchemy of partnership, learning, and listening, with support from a small grant from Herbalists Without Borders, as well as hosting by Railyard Apothecary.
Their work began months before, meeting with the local Vermont Herbalists Without Borders chapter to plan a fundraising herbal spa day and craft fair to support workshop scholarships for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) and transgender folks. This diversity was critical to the success of the trauma conversations because “the demographic of the participants should mirror the speakers, and vice versa”. The fundraiser was remarkably successful and raised funds to send between 12 and 15 people to the weekend’s workshop; Kristin and Kenzie are planning another spa day fundraiser gathering soon.
The November weekend workshop itself was a whirlwind of practitioners of all modalities sharing space, from nurses to herbalists to reiki and yoga healers, as well as a collection of insightful speakers, “a really nice mix of science and spirit”. Framing the event as an experiential conversation rather than an academic training was critical to the desired result of a “sense of community and action” for the group. Arriving there took time, however, and through community feedback during the planning stages, Kristin and Kenzie realized the necessity of changing the rhetoric of the event to “trauma informed learning” rather than “training”, moving away from the expectation that a single weekend can provide all the tools one might need to support folks with trauma.
There will certainly be a follow up event in months to come, and the organizers look forward to being able to apply their learnings. More volunteers are needed, as well as earlier advertising in order to connect with the widest diversity of participant identities and modalities. In addition, Kristin and Kenzie wish they would have provided a feedback form at the event itself, rather than after the fact, so as to gather more useful input for future gatherings.
Though the kyriarchy will continue creating trauma that challenges the skills and energy of healers, events such as this foster the community resiliency from which we can find strength to do the work.
A big thank you to Kenzie and Kristin of HWB Vermont.
Wren Fulner is a queer amateur herbalist, a recent transplant to Eugene, Oregon from the cold winters of Minnesota, and writer for the Herbalists Without Borders blog. She is largely self-taught, both in herbalism and writing, and also enjoys hiking by the rugged Pacific Northwest ocean, practicing tarot and astrology, and playing Dungeons and Dragons when she can get a group together. Rose and Tulsi are her favorite herbal allies, though she's recently learning to love Skullcap as well. She hopes to share a house with her partner before too long, on acreage to homestead and establish an enormous garden for nourishment and healing.
We have the pleasure of an article from Pierluigi Campidoglio of HWB Italy - both in English and Italian. Molte grazie, Pierluigi.
Arnica, Calendula, Bellis (Daisy)
Arnica, Calendula and Bellis are three botanical genera belonging to the Asteraceae (or Compositae, old name) family. Asteraceae is one of the two largest genera in Spermatophytae (plants that reproduces through seed), together with Orchidaceae, because these two genera contain the greatest number of species.
Due to the large number of species, the whole family has been subdivided into 13 subfamilies, and several tribes and subtribes. Arnica, Calendula and Bellis belong to the Asteroideae subfamily, and to different tribes. All of them have both ligulate and tubulate florets.
In both phytotherapy and homeopathy, these three genera and the respective most-known species, Arnica montana, Calendula officinalis and Bellis perennis, are probably considered the best remedies for both physical injuries and emotional traumas. According to David Little, the homeopathic remedies from Asteraceae can be divided into four groups (Arnica, Chamomilla, Cina and Wyethia) basing upon similarities in modes of action. The whole Arnica group (comprising the remedies Arnica, Brachyglottis, Bellis perennis, Eupatorium aromaticum, Eupatorium perfoliatum, Eupatorium purpureum, Calendula, Erechtites, Erigeron, Echinacea, Gnaphalium, Guaco, Lappa, Millefolium, Senecio aureus) is characterized by traumas, hemorrhages, septic states, arthritic and rheumatic diathesis and urinary concomitants (see [Vermeulen]).
Bellis perennis has never gained the same popularity as Arnica montana and Calendula officinalis, which are used every time a little or big trauma occurs, but the “humble” Daisy is indeed a quite powerful remedy that can be used more or less interchangeably with the other two, even though some differences obviously exist. In the first instance, we can describe Bellis perennis as a deeper-acting Arnica with some broader indications.
Before going on, let’s have a look at what the ancient authors say about these three plants.
John Gerard [Gerard] tells about the “little daisies” (or “lesser daisies”):
“The lesser Daisies are cold and moist, being moist in the end of the second degree, and cold in the beginning of the same.
The Daisies do mitigate all kinde of paines, but especially in the joints, and gout proceeding from an hot and dry humor, if they be stamped with new butter unsalted, and applied upon the pained place: but they worke more effectually if Mallowes be added thereto.
The leaves of Daisies used amongst other pot-herbs, do make the belly soluble; and they are also put into Clysters with good successe, in hot burning feuers, and against the inflammation of the intestines.
The juice of the leaues and roots snift up into the noshtrils, purgeth the head mightily of foule and filthy slimy humors, and helpeth the megrim.
The same giuen to little dogs with milke, keepeth them from growing great.
The leaues stamped take away bruises and swellings proceeding of some stroke, if they be stamped and laid thereon; whereupon it was called in old times Bruisewort.
The juice put into the eies cleareth them, and taketh away the watering of them.
The decoction of the field Daisie (which is the best for physicks use) made in water and drunke, is good against agues, inflammation of the liuer and all other inward parts.”
Culpeper [Culpeper] writes about the greater wild daisy (Leucanthemum) and the small daisy (Bellis) in the same paragraph:
“[The Daisies] are so well known almost to every child, that I suppose it needless to write any description of them. Take therefore the virtues of them as followeth.
Government and virtues. The herb is under the sign Cancer, and under the dominion of Venus, and therefore excellent good for wounds in the breast, and very fitting to be kept both in oils, ointments, and plaisters, as also in syrup. The greater wild daisy is a wound-herb of good respect, often used in those drinks or salves that are for wounds, either inward or outward. The juice or distilled water of these, or the small daisy, doth much temper the heat of choler, and refresh the liver, and the other inward parts. A decoction made of them, and drunk, helpeth to cure the wounds made in the hollowness of the breast. The same also cureth all ulcers and pustules in the mouth or tongue, or in the secret parts. The leaves bruised and applied to the scrotum, or to any other parts that are swollen and hot, doth dissolve it, and temper the heat. A decoction made thereof, of wallwort and agrimony, and the places fomented or bathed therewith warm, giveth great ease to them that are troubled with the palsy, sciatica, or the gout. The same also disperseth and dissolveth the knots or kernels that grow in the flesh of any part of the body, and bruises and hurts that come of falls and blows; they are also used for ruptures, and other inward burstings, with very good success. An ointment made thereof doth wonderfully help all wounds that have inflammations about them, or by reason of moist humours having access unto them, are kept long from healing, and such are those, for the most part, that happen to joints of the arms or legs. The juice of them dropped into the running eyes of any, doth much help them.”
“Bellis is a group of different types of plants, and it consists of three species, that is, major, minor and medium. […] Moderns commend all these species for scrofula, for wounds on the head, and similarly to soak up the bandages that are put upon the wounds of the chest that penetrate into the concavities of the thorax. The leaves, chewed, heal the ulcerated pustules of the mouth and of the tongue, and pounded and applied on the genital parts, heal their inflammations. The fresh herb eaten in salad soften the bowels, and the same does it when it is eaten cooked in meat broth. Someone uses Bellis for palsied, and also for sciatica.” [Mattioli]
“The floure of the Marigold is of temperature hot, almost in the second degree, especially when it is dry: it is thought to strengthen and comfort the heart very much, and also to withstand poyson, as also to be good against pestilent Agues, being taken any way. Fuchsius hath written, That being drunke with wine it bringeth downe the termes, and the fume thereof expelleth the secondine or after-birth.
But the leaues of the herb are hotter; for there is in them a certaine biting, but by reason of the moisture joyned with it, it doth not by and by shew it selfe; by meanes of which moisture they mollifie the belly, and procure solublenesse if it be used as a pot-herbe.
Fuchsius writeth, That if the mouth be washed with the juyce it helpeth the toot-ache.
The floures and leaues of Marigolds being distilled, and the water dropped into red and watery eies, ceaseth the inflammation, and taketh away the paine.
Conserue made of the floures and sugar taken in the morning fasting, cureth the trembling of the heart, and is also giuen in time of plague or pestilence, or corruption of the aire.
The yellow leaues of the floures are dried and kept throughout Dutchland against Winter, to put into broths, in Physicall potions, and for diuers other purposes, in such quantity, that in some Grocers or Spice-sellers houses are to be found barrels filled with them, and retailed by the penny more or lesse, insomuch that no broths are well made without dried Marigolds.” [Gerard]
“[Marigolds] being so plentiful in every garden, and so well known that they need no description.
Time. They flower all the Summer long, and sometimes in Winter, if it be mild.
Government and virtues. It is an herb of the Sun, and under Leo. They strengthen the heart exceedingly, and are very expulsive, and a little less effectual in the smallpox and measles than saffron. The juice of Marigold leaves mixed with vinegar, and any hot swelling bathed with it, instantly gives ease, and assuages it. The flowers, either green or dried, are much used in possets, broths, and drink, as a comforter of the heart and spirits, and to expel any malignant or pestilential quality which might annoy them. A plaister made with the dry flowers in powder, hog’s-grease, turpentine, and rosin, applied to the breast, strengthens and succours the heart infinitely in fevers, whether pestilential or not.” [Culpeper]
“Some of the moderns affirm that Marigold […] is the Caltha of Virgil and Pliny, basing only upon the golden color of its perpetual flowers. […] In Tuscany we eat it in salads. Caltha warms, thins, opens, digests, and provokes, even if a little astringency can be perceived when tasting it: but it’s well known from the thousands of experiments done by women, that it frankly provokes the menses, and maximally when drinking its juice, or rather eating the herbs for some days. An ounce of the juice, drunk with a dram of pulverized earthworms, heals the jaundice. Someone says that using this herb sharpens the eyesight quite effectually, and it’s well known that the water distilled from the flowered herb heals the redness and the inflammation of the eyes when poured in them, or when applied onto them with some linen cloth. The dried powder applied onto sore teeth proves really profitable.” [Mattioli]
Castore Durante is a little more descriptive:
“QUALITIES. It’s hot and dry, and it’s more suitable to the external parts of the body than to the internal ones; it thins, opens, digests, provokes, even if a little astringency can be perceived when tasting it.
VIRTUES. Internally. It induces the menses, drinking the juice or eating the herb for some days. An ounce of the juice, drunk with a dram of pulverized earthworms, heals the jaundice. The leaves and the flowers are eaten usefully in salad, and, when put into broths, they confer a good smell and taste. This herb is useful in heart troubles, in difficult breathing, and in jaundice. An omelet prepared with the flowers and the tender tops and egg yolk stops the superfluous menses when eaten.
VIRTUES. Externally. The distilled water of its flowers and fronds takes inflammation away from the eyes, when it is instilled in the eyes or applied over them with a cloth, and sharpens the sight and it’s as good as that of blessed thistle and of scabious to the pestiferous diseases, and it’s cordial. The herb heals the wounds. The powder of the flowers, applied with cotton within an aching tooth, takes the pain away. The dried flowers and leaves, when used to fumigate the matrix, provoke the menses marvelously, and expel retained afterbirth. The flowers make the hair blond, when it is boiled in lye.” [Durante]
Arnica montana is now one of the most known medicinal herbs. In classical antiquity, however, it was apparently not well known. It has been cited by Hildegard von Bingen, that called it “Wolfsgelegena”:
“Wolfsgelegena is very hot and has a poisonous heat in it. If a person’s skin has been touched with fresh Arnica, he or she will burn lustily with love for the person who is afterward touched by the same herb. He or she will be so incensed with love, almost infatuated, and will become a foul.” (Physica)
Some scholars have associated Wolfsgelegena with Arnica, because the description in Physica fits the one we know of Arnica, that is, an effective topical remedy for cuts, blisters, rashes, and pain, but some medical historians disagree about whether this was rather a reference to an herb with similar effects. Arnica is cited in the medical texts starting from 15-th century, but it’s only described and painted. At the end of 16-th century, Franz Joe from Göttingen suggests it for the cure of wounds. Even though Arnica has been cultivated in gardens since long, it seems that it has been accepted in pharmacies only about 1788.
More recently, abbot Kneipp wrote about Arnica basing upon its personal experiences, putting it on the top of the list of the wound healing herbs. In his book “Meine wassen-kur” (“My cure with water”), written in 1890, he wrote:
“the tincture of Arnica is so widely known and used for wound healing and in compresses, that I repute unuseful to write any word about it.”
Goethe was used to drink an Arnica infusion when he felt chest pain because of his cardiac insufficiency due to aging.
Since Arnica is not present in classical texts, it’s obviously difficult to know the nature (temperature) traditionally attributed to the plant. Anyhow, despite the uncertainty about the real identity of the plant mentioned by Hildegard von Bingen, Arnica can be likely regarded as “very hot and [with] a poisonous heat in it”, because of its properties (it stimulates the arteriovenous circulation and the cardiac activity; it’s revulsive, when used externally, and cholagogue, diuretic, emmenagogue, and abortive, when used internally), its toxicity and its specific side effects (gastric irritation with nausea and colic, despite the induction of paralysis of nerve centers).
Arnica has an analeptic activity (that is, it stimulates the nervous system) and such activity can be apparent even at homeopathic dilution for some people.
Differences between the plants
Even though it’s true that the three plants are often used interchangeably, especially for traumas and wounds (even septic ones), some important differences exist between them. The first one is easily deduced from the classic authors and is related to the nature (or temperature) of the herbs:
Daisy action is, indeed, more resolutely directed toward sedation of inflammation, of pain and even of histamine-mediated reactions, so that it is particularly suited to “hot” diseases: inflammation, acute pain, redness, swelling (e.g., burns; painful traumas; purulent, hot and painful insect bites). The lack of heat in Daisy makes it not especially apt to “move fluids”: for example, it has not an appreciable emmenagogue activity, nor it is, consequently, abortive. Indeed, though the whole Daisy plant is apparently cold and moist, its flower heads contain a certain degree of heat, so much that they taste slightly pungent. This feature confers the Daisy flowers a certain diffusive and “moving” ability, that makes the action of the whole plant (that is, leaves, flowers and roots together) decidedly more complex (and complete). Daisy too, like Marigold (see below), for instance, can be used for septic wounds.
Marigold is warmer than Daisy, and so its action is decidedly oriented to movement: indeed, it stimulates the movement of both the blood (hence its emmenagogue activity) and the lymph. This is the reason why Calendula has a marked action on sepsis, so much that practice has proved to be effective in even important and difficult-to-treat infections. Its action is mostly due to its ability to act upon tissues and lymph system rather than to a directly antibiotic activity. So, Marigold probably has a greater effectiveness in preventing and treating sepsis and in inducing the menses, while Daisy has a stronger antiphlogistic and pain-relieving action.
Arnica is the hottest of the three plants, so much to prove rather toxic and decidedly abortifacient too.
The different heat degree is also linked to the “deepness” of plant action: since heat tends to superficialize, Arnica has a stronger affinity for the most superficial tissues (i.e., skin, muscles, and blood vessels), while Bellis has a stronger affinity for the deepest ones (chest, abdomen and body cavities). Calendula has an intermediate heat degree and so also its “deepness” of action is intermediate (it has an important effect upon the body fluids).
Another noteworthy difference lays on the plant tropism. Culpeper tells that Daisy is an herb under the sign of Cancer and under the dominion of Venus, while Marigold is under the sign of Leo and the dominion of Sun (unfortunately we have no similar information about Arnica). Even though such statements may appear superstitious remains of a certain medieval astrological influence, in fact they have well defined meanings. The sign Cancer is linked to thorax and stomach, while Leo is linked to the heart (both physical and emotional). Both the astrological signs define the body districts for which the respective remedies have special affinities. The herbs said “under the dominion of Venus” have specific properties: they stimulate tissue regeneration and cellular division and are able to “stem” any martial event (like hemorrhages and inflammations), so that they are vulnerary (that is, able to heal wounds) and demulcent. The herbs under the dominion of Sun act, for instance, upon nervous system and blood circulation. Putting these properties together, some specific features arise: Daisy, for example, has an almost-specific action upon chest wounds, while Marigold supports the heart, both in the circulatory and in the emotional aspects (it has an antidepressant action). Arnica has a firm action upon the cardiac muscle and upon circulation, especially the arterial one, and its effect is so powerful to prove, as already told, toxic.
In the antiquity, smell and, possibly to a greater extent, taste were the most important indicators of the actions of the plants. Indeed, these sensations can provide us with a lot of information about the class of chemical substances contained in the plants and, above all, about the “energetics” of the plants.
Marigold has a decided aromatic and slightly bitter taste, and it’s quite resinous. It’s also slightly salty, sweet, astringent and acrid, but these tastes are less relevant than the former three. Its odor is balsamic and herbaceous (more strongly herbaceous in Calendula officinalis and more balsamic in Calendula arvensis).
Daisy has a faint smell. Only the flower heads, indeed, have a perceptible odor (the leaves have a fugacious flavor that can be perceived only when the plant is chewed) that can be felt neatly only when the flowers are en masse (several flowers together). The taste is decidedly more complex than that of Marigold: Daisy is mucilaginous and has a peculiar taste that make it acrid (because of saponins), acid (probably because of organic acids) and salty at the same time; it’s as if these three tastes combine in a single mouth sensation. Minor tastes are: slightly aromatic (flowers and leaves), bitter (rhizome), sweet (flower and stalk), slightly pungent (root and flower), astringent (rhizome).
Unfortunately, I have never tasted Arnica, so I will abstain from speaking about the organoleptic properties of this plant.
The aromatic and resinous taste of Marigold (stronger in Calendula arvensis than in Calendula officinalis) is clearly warm and hints to the plant ability to warm and “put on movement”. Its bitter component is linked to the herb’s purifying action and, particularly, to its ability to “thin” phlegm (thickened and viscous fluids) possibly stored in tissues and in the digestive system.
The mucilaginous taste of Daisy suggests a demulcent (that is, able to sedate inflammation and to soothe irritated tissues) and diuretic ability. The salty taste indicates that the plant softens tissues; softens phlegm accumulations, “preparing” it for elimination; promotes stool evacuation (softens the fecal mass); “enters the Kidney” (according to TCM), acting, among other things, on the electrolytes metabolism. The acrid taste is due to saponins, and it exerts an action similar to that of salty (also saponin-containing plants soften the tissues and the phlegm), but even stronger. The acid taste suggests the presence of organic acids, that possess a refreshing action and the ability to “quench” the tissutal and metabolic tendencies to inflammation. All these tastes together point at the Daisy’s ability to resolve inflammation and soothe irritated tissues, to promote stool evacuation and diuresis, and to soften indurated tissues and the viscous and stagnating phlegm. The latter properties make the Daisy able to act upon all the body “indurations”, for instance, scrophula, sties, hardened lymph nodes, and even some benign or malignant tumors: some cases are reported in which Daisy exerted an important and decided action upon some forms of cancer (especially of the breast; see, for instance, Dr. J. Compton Burnett in his “Curability of Tumors”).
Both Daisy and Marigold have an important anti-inflammatory effect, but, at this point, we understand that the mechanisms of action are quite different: Marigold, being hot, is able to “put on movement” inflammation, that gets literally moved from tissues and “dispersed” (Marigold was once classified as an “expulsive”, that is, a remedy able to expel disease out from the body); Daisy, instead, “quenches” inflammation and reduces the possible underlying tissutal hyperactivity.
Homeopathy gives us some more interesting information. For instance, Bellis perennis is recommended in those cases when the swelling (of a traumatic origin) doesn’t resolve after using Arnica, or when the injury is specifically due to surgery, that is a “deep” trauma from the tissutal point of view (see for example [HForHealth, Vermeulen2]).
 In fact, Arnica should not be applied onto open wounds, due to a certain risk of inducing skin reactions.
Arnica, Calendula and Bellis sono tre generi botanici appartenenti alla famiglia delle Asteraceae (o Compositae, nomen conservandum), uno dei due generi più numerosi tra le Spermatophytae (piante che si riproducono per seme), insieme alle Orchidaceae.
A causa del gran numero di specie in essa contenute, la famiglia delle Asteraceae è stata suddivisa in 13 sottofamiglie e diverse tribù e sottotribù. Arnica, Calendula e Bellis appartengono alla sottofamiglia delle Asteroideae e a tribù differenti. Tutte hanno flosculi (fiori che compongono l’infiorescenza complessa) sia ligulati sia tubulati.
Questi tre generi e le rispettive specie più conosciute, Arnica montana, Calendula officinalis e Bellis perennis, sono considerate probabilmente i migliori rimedi per i traumi fisici ed emozionali, sia in fitoterapia sia in omeopatia. Secondo David Little, i rimedi omeopatici delle Asteraceae possono essere suddivisi in quattro gruppi (Arnica, Chamomilla, Cina e Wyethia) sulla base delle similitudini nelle modalità di azione. Tutto il gruppo dell’Arnica (che comprende i rimedi Arnica, Brachyglottis, Bellis perennis, Eupatorium aromaticum, Eupatorium perfoliatum, Eupatorium purpureum, Calendula, Erechtites, Erigeron, Echinacea, Gnaphalium, Guaco, Lappa, Millefolium, Senecio aureus) è caratterizzato da traumi, emorragie, stati settici, diatesi artritica e reumatica e co-affezioni urinarie (vedi [Vermeulen]).
Bellis perennis non ha mai guadagnato la stessa popolarità di Arnica montana e Calendula officinalis, che sono usate in ogni caso di trauma, di piccola o grande entità, ma la “umile” margherita è in realtà un rimedio piuttosto potente che può essere usato in maniera più o meno intercambiabile rispetto agli altri due, sebbene ovviamente sussistano delle differenze. In prima battuta, possiamo descrivere Bellis perennis come simile a un’Arnica che agisce più in profondità e che possiede una gamma di indicazioni un po’ più ampia.
Prima di proseguire, diamo un’occhiata a cosa sostenevano gli antichi autori a proposito di queste tre piante.
John Gerard [Gerard], a proposito delle “piccole margherite”, riporta:
“Le Margherite piccole sono fredde ed umide, essendo umide verso la fine del secondo grado, e fredde verso l’inizio dello stesso.
Le Margherite mitigano tutti I tipi di dolore, ma specialmente nelle articolazioni, e nella gotta causata da un umore secco e caldo, se esse vengono schiacciate con un po’ di burro nuovo non salato, e applicate sul posto che duole: ma esse funzionano più efficacemente se è aggiunta della Malva.
Le foglie delle Margherite, cotte insieme ad altre erbe, solvono il ventre; e sono usate anche nei Clisteri con buon successo, nelle febbri ardenti, e contro l’infiammazione dell’intestino.
Il succo delle foglie e delle radici inalato nelle narici, purga potentemente la testa dagli umori maleodoranti, viscidi e corrotti, e aiuta nel mal di testa.
Lo stesso dato ai cani piccoli insieme con latte, impedisce loro di crescere.
Le foglie peste rimuovono i lividi e i gonfiori che procedono da qualche colpo, se esse sono pestate e applicate sopra; da che essa era chiamata nei tempi antichi Bruisewort.
Il succo messo negli occhi li schiarisce, e sana l’eccessiva lacrimazione.
La decozione della Margherita di campo (che è la migliore per l’uso in medicina) fatta in acqua e bevuta, è buona contro la febbre malarica, l’infiammazione del fegato e di tutte le parti interne.”
Culpeper [Culpeper], scrive, a proposito della margherita maggiore (Leucanthemum) e della minore (Bellis), nello stesso paragrafo:
“[Le Margherite] sono così ben conosciute finanche dai bambini, che suppongo sia inutile scrivere alcuna descrizione di esse. Prendi dunque le loro virtù come segue.
Governo e virtù. L’erba è sotto il segno del Cancro, e sotto il dominio di Venere, e quindi è eccellentemente buona per le ferite del petto, e molto adatta ad essere messa negli oli, negli unguenti, negli impiastri e anche negli sciroppi. La Margherita selvatica maggiore è un’erba vulneraria di gran rispetto, spesso usata nelle bevande o negli unguenti preparati per le ferite, sia interne che esterne. Il succo o l’acqua distillata di esse, o delle margherite minori, modera molto il calore della collera, e rinfresca il fegato, e le altre parti interne. Un decotto fatto con esse, e bevuto, aiuta a curare le ferite fatte nelle cavità del petto. Lo stesso cura anche tutte le ulcere e le pustole della bocca e della lingua, o delle parti segrete. Le foglie contuse ed applicate allo scroto, o a qualunque parte che sia gonfia e calda, lo risolve, e modera il calore. Una decozione preparata con esse, con erba di muro e agrimonia, e fomentando o bagnando i posti con essa calda, conferisce gran sollievo a coloro che sono affetti da paralisi, sciatica, o gotta. La stessa disperde anche e dissolve i noduli o i nòccioli che crescono nella carne di qualunque parte del corpo, e i lividi e le ferite che vengono da cadute o percosse; esse sono usate per le ernie, o altre aperture interne, con gran successo. Un unguento preparato con esse aiuta meravigliosamente tutte le ferite che siano infiammate intorno, o che, a causa di umori umidi, non riescono a guarire da tempo e tali sono quelle, per la maggior parte, che si verificano alle articolazioni delle braccia o delle gambe. Il loro succo instillato negli occhi che lacrimano di chiunque, li aiuta molto.”
Il Mattioli scrive:
“È il Bellis di più, e varie, sorti, che tre sono le distinzioni delle sue spezie, cioè maggiore, minore, e mezzano. […] Lodano tutte queste spezie i moderni per le scrofole, per le ferite della testa, e parimente per le bande delle ferite cassali penetranti nella concavità del petto. Le foglie masticate sanano le pustule ulcerate della bocca, e della lingua, e peste, e applicate le infiammazioni delle membra genitali. L’erba fresca mangiata nell’insalata, mollifica il corpo stitico, e il medesimo fa ella mangiata cotta nel brodo delle carni. Usanle alcune ai paralitici, e parimente nelle sciatiche.” [Mattioli]
 Erba da lividi.
“I fiori della Calendula sono di temperature calda, quasi nel secondo grado, specialmente quando sono secchi: sono ritenuti capaci di rafforzare e confortare molto il cuore, e anche di resistere ai veleni, ed anche di essere buoni contro le febbri malariche pestilenziali, comunque vengano assunti. Fuchsius ha scritto, Che bevuti col vino provocano i mestrui, e il loro fumo espelle le secondine.
Ma le foglie dell’erba sono più calde; poiché in esse c’è alquanta mordacità, ma a causa dell’umidità congiunta ad essa, essa non si mostra neanche poco a poco; a causa di tale umidità essi mollificano il corpo, e lo solvono se sono mangiate cotte.
Fuchsius scrive, Che se la bocca è lavata col succo aiuta nel mal di denti.
I fiori e le foglie della Calendula distillati, e l’acqua instillata negli occhi arrossati e lacrimosi, fa cessare l’infiammazione, ed elimina il dolore.
La conserva preparata con i fiori e lo zucchero presa a digiuno al mattino, cura il tremolio del cuore, ed è anche data in tempo di peste o pestilenza, o corruzione dell’aria.
Le foglie gialle dei fiori sono seccate e conservate in tutta l’Olanda contro l’Inverno, da mettere nei brodi, nelle pozioni mediche, e per diversi altri scopi, in tale quantità, che in alcune drogherie o rivendite di spezie si ritrovano barili pieni di essi, e sono venduti più o meno al costo di un penny, dimodoché nessun brodo è ben fatto senza le Calendule essiccate.” [Gerard]
“[Le Calendule] sono così diffuse in ogni giardino, e così ben conosciute che non hanno bisogno di alcuna descrizione.
Tempo. Fioriscono per tutta l’Estate, e talvolta anche in Inverno, se è mite.
Governo e virtù. È un’erba del Sole, e sotto il Leone. Esse rafforzano fortemente il cuore, e sono molto espulsive, e appena un po’ meno efficaci dello zafferano nel vaiolo e nel morbillo. Il succo delle foglie di Calendula mischiato con aceto, e bagnando qualunque rigonfiamento caldo con esso, dà istantaneamente sollievo, e lo allevia. I fiori, sia freschi che secchi, sono molto usati nei posset, nei brodi, e nelle bevande, per confortare il cuore e gli spiriti, e per espellere qualsivoglia qualità maligna e pestilenziale che possa dar loro noia. Un impiastro fatto con la polvere dei fiori secchi, strutto, trementina, e colofonia, applicato sul petto, rafforza e aiuta il cuore infinitamente nelle febbri, siano esse pestilenziali o meno.” [Culpeper]
“Vogliono alcuni dei moderni, che la Calendola [...] sia la Calta di Virgilio, e di Plinio, fondandosi solamente nell’aureo colore de’ suoi perpetui fiori. [...] Noi in Toscana la mangiamo nell’insalata. Scalda la Calta, assottiglia, apre, digerisce, e provoca, quantunque nel gustarla vi si senta alquanto del costrettivo: ma è cosa notoria per mille sperimenti fatti dalle donne, che provoca ella apertamente i mestrui, e massimamente bevutone il succo; ovvero mangiata l’Erba alquanti giorni continui. Il succo bevuto al peso d’un’oncia, con una dramma di polvere di Lombrichi terrestri, guarisce il trabocco di fiele. Sono alcuni, che dicono, che l’uso di quest’erba acuisce non di poco la vista: ma è ben cosa chiara, che l’acqua lambiccata dall’erba fiorita guarisce il rossore, e l’infiammazioni degli occhi distillandovisi dentro, o applicandovi sopra colle pezzette di tela di Lino. La polvere della secca messa sopra i denti che dogliono, vi conferisce assai. [alla voce: Eliotropio]” [Mattioli]
Castore Durante è leggermente più dettagliato:
“QVALITA’. È calda, & secca, & si conuien più alle parti esterne del corpo, che all’interne: assottiglia, apre, digerisce, prouoca, quantunque nel gustarla si senta c’habbia alquanto del costrettiuo.
VIRTV’. Di dentro. Prouoca i mestrui bevendosi il succhio, ouero mangiata l’herba alquanti giorni continui. Il succo beuuto al peso d’vn oncia con vna dramma di poluere di lumbrici terrestri guarisce il trabocco del fiele. Mangiasi le foglie, e i fiori vtilmente nelle insalate, & messi ne i brodi da lor buon odore, & sapore. Conferisce quest’herba ne gli affetti del cuore, nelle difficultà del respirare, & nel trabocco del fiele. Fassi dei fiori, & delle cime tenere con rosso d’ouo vna frittata, che mangiata ferma i mestrui superflui.
VIRTV’. Di fuori. L’ACQUA stillata dalli suoi fiori, & frondi leua l’infiammation de gli occhi istillatavi dentro, ò con vna pezzetta applicata, & assottiglia la vista & vale come quella del cardo santo, & della scabiosa à i mali pestiferi, & è cordiale. Sana l’herba le ferite. La poluere de i fiori messa con bambagio nel dente ne leua il dolore. I fiori & le foglie secche facendone perfumo alla natura prouocano merauigliosamente i mestrui, & le secondine ritenute nel parto. Il fiore fà i capelli flaui, facendolo bollir nella liscia.” [alla voce: CALTHA] [Durante]
Arnica montana è attualmente una delle erbe più note, ma nell’antichità sembra che fosse molto poco conosciuta. È stata citata da Hildegard von Bingen, che l’ha chiamata “Wolfsgelegena”:
“Wolfsgelegena è molto calda e possiede un calore velenoso in essa. Se la pelle di una persona è stata toccata con l’Arnica fresca, lui o lei arderà fortemente d’amore per la persona che successivamente venga toccata dalla stessa erba. Lui o lei sarà così acceso d’amore, quasi [da essere] infatuato, e impazzirà.” (Physica)
Alcuni autori hanno associato la Wolfsgelegena all’Arnica, dato che la descrizione in Physica si adatta perfettamente a quello che sappiamo oggi dell’Arnica e, cioè, che è un rimedio topico efficace per tagli, bolle, eruzioni cutanee, e dolore, ma alcuni storici della medicina non sono certi della corrispondenza con l’Arnica o piuttosto con un’altra erba con effetti simili. L’Arnica appare citata nei testi medici solo a partire dal XV secolo, ma viene solo descritta e rappresentata. Alla fine del 1500 venne segnalata per la cura delle ferite e fu consigliata in ambito medico solo verso la fine del XVI secolo da Franz Joe di Gottinga. Benché l’Arnica fosse coltivata da tempo nei giardini, sembra che sia stata accettata nelle farmacie soltanto attorno al 1788.
In un periodo più recente, l’abate Kneipp si è espresso riguardo all’Arnica in base alle sue esperienze personali, mettendo la pianta in cima alla lista delle piante curative per la guarigione delle ferite. Nel suo libro “Meine wassen-kur” (“La mia cura con l’acqua”) del 1890 si può leggere:
“la tintura di Arnica è talmente conosciuta dovunque e usata per la cura delle ferite e in compresse […], che non mi sembra necessario spendere alcuna parola su di essa”.
Goethe beveva un infuso di Arnica quando avvertiva dolori al petto, dovuti all’insufficienza cardiaca legata all’età.
A causa della mancanza di riferimenti nei testi classici di medicina ippocratico-galenica, è difficile sapere quale fosse la natura (temperatura) tradizionalmente attribuita all’Arnica. Nonostante le incertezze sulla reale identità della pianta menzionata da Hildegard von Bingen, è verosimile che l’Arnica sia realmente “molto calda e con un calore velenoso”, date le sue proprietà (capacità di stimolazione della circolazione artero-venosa e dell’attività cardiaca; attività revulsiva, per uso esterno, e colagoga, diuretica, emmenagoga e, ad alte dosi, abortiva, per uso interno), la sua tossicità e i suoi specifici effetti collaterali (irritazione a livello gastrico con nausea e coliche, nonostante l’induzione di paralisi dei centri nervosi).
L’Arnica ha una attività analettica (ossia stimolante del sistema nervoso) e tale attività si può manifestare, in alcuni soggetti, anche alle diluizioni omeopatiche.
Differenze d’azioneSe è vero che tutte e tre le piante sono utilizzate in maniera spesso interscambiabile, specialmente in caso di traumi e ferite (anche settiche), esistono tuttavia tra di loro delle differenze abbastanza importanti. La prima differenza appare evidente dagli scritti degli autori classici ed è relativa alla natura (o temperatura) delle tre erbe:
La Margherita ha un’azione più decisamente rivolta alla sedazione dell’infiammazione, del dolore e anche delle reazioni di tipo istaminico, per cui è particolarmente adatta ai disturbi di tipo “caldo”: infiammazione, dolore acuto, rossore, gonfiore (es., scottature, traumi dolenti, pizzichi di insetto anche con iper-reazione). La mancanza di calore nella Margherita non la rende particolarmente atta a “muovere i liquidi”: essa non ha, ad esempio, apprezzabile attività emmenagoga, né, di conseguenza abortiva. In realtà, se è vero che la pianta della Margherita è decisamente fredda ed umida, i suoi capolini contengono un certo grado di calore, tanto da risultare leggermente piccanti (ma non brucianti) al gusto. Questa proprietà conferisce ai capolini di Margherita una certa capacità diffusiva e di movimento, che rende assolutamente più complessa (e completa) l’azione della pianta quando sia usata in toto, cioè in foglia, fiore e radice insieme. Anche la Margherita, come la Calendula (v. oltre), ad esempio, può essere usata in caso di ferite settiche.
La Calendula è, come già detto, più calda della Margherita e pertanto la sua azione è decisamente più “improntata” al movimento: essa stimola, infatti, il movimento sia del sangue (da qui la sua capacità emmenagoga) sia, in maniera marcata, della linfa. Da ciò deriva che la Calendula ha un’azione importante sulla sepsi, tanto che la pratica ha mostrato la sua efficacia nel trattare anche infezioni piuttosto importanti o difficili da eradicare. La sua azione in tal senso è più da imputare alla sua capacità di agire sui tessuti e sul sistema linfatico che su una attività direttamente antibiotica. Quindi la Calendula ha probabilmente una maggior efficacia nel prevenire e curare la sepsi e nello stimolare le mestruazioni, mentre la Margherita ha un’azione antiflogistica e antidolorifica più decisa.
L’Arnica è la più calda delle tre, tanto da risultare piuttosto tossica e anche decisamente abortiva.
Al diverso grado di calore è associata anche la “profondità” di azione delle piante: siccome il calore tende a superficializzare, l’Arnica ha una affinità maggiore per i tessuti più superficiali (pelle, muscoli e vasi sanguigni), mentre la Margherita ha un’affinità maggiore per quelli più profondi (petto, addome e cavità corporee). La Calendula ha un grado di Calore intermedio e, quindi, intermedia è anche la sua profondità di azione (infatti ha un effetto importante sui liquidi corporei).
Un’altra differenza degna di nota sta nel tropismo delle piante. Culpeper sostiene che la Margherita è un’erba sotto il segno del Cancro e sotto il dominio di Venere, mentre la Calendula è sotto il segno del Leone e il dominio del Sole. Purtroppo, non abbiamo menzioni rispetto all’Arnica. Sebbene tali affermazioni possano sembrare superstiziose vestigia di una certa influenza astrologica medievale, in realtà hanno dei significati ben precisi. Il segno del Cancro è legato al torace e allo stomaco, mentre il Leone al cuore (sia fisico che inteso come “centro” emozionale). Entrambi i segni astrologici indicano i distretti corporei per i quali i rispettivi rimedi presentano particolare affinità. Le erbe considerate “sotto il dominio di Venere” hanno specifiche attività: stimolano la rigenerazione tissutale e la moltiplicazione cellulare e sono capaci di “contenere” le manifestazioni di tipo marziale (come le emorragie e le infiammazioni), per cui risultano vulnerarie (capaci, cioè, di sanare le ferite) e demulcenti. Le erbe sotto il dominio del Sole agiscono, ad esempio, sul sistema nervoso e sulla circolazione del sangue. Mettendo insieme queste proprietà, vengono fuori caratteristiche peculiari per ciascuna delle piante: la Margherita, ad esempio, ha un effetto quasi specifico rispetto alle “ferite cassali” (ossia del petto), mentre la Calendula sostiene il cuore, sia nell’aspetto circolatorio sia in quello emozionale (ha attività antidepressiva). L’Arnica ha un’azione decisa sul muscolo cardiaco e sulla circolazione, specialmente arteriosa, e il suo effetto è tanto potente da risultare, come già detto, tossica.
Nell’antichità, tra gli indicatori principali delle azioni delle piante figuravano l’odore e, in misura forse maggiore, il sapore. Effettivamente queste sensazioni sono in grado di fornirci informazioni sulle sostanze contenute nelle erbe e soprattutto sulla “energetica” della pianta.
La Calendula è una pianta dal sapore decisamente aromatico e amaro ed inoltre è fortemente resinosa. È anche leggermente salata, dolce, astringente e acre, ma questi sapori sono meno importanti dei primi tre. Il suo profumo è balsamico ed erbaceo (più erbaceo nella Calendula officinalis e più balsamico nella Calendula arvensis).
La Margherita ha un profumo molto delicato: in realtà solo i capolini hanno un odore decisamente percettibile (le foglie hanno un aroma fugace che si avverte solo all’assaggio) e comunque si riesce ad apprezzarlo in maniera netta solo quando i fiori sono en masse (parecchi fiori insieme). Il sapore è decisamente più complesso di quello della calendula: la Margherita è mucillaginosa e ha un sapore peculiare che la fa risultare contemporaneamente acre (per saponine), acido (probabilmente per acidi organici) e salino; è un po’ come se questi tre ultimi sapori si fondessero a dare un’unica sensazione. Sapori minori sono: leggermente aromatico (fiori e foglie), amaro (rizoma), dolce (fiore e stelo), leggermente pungente (radice e fiore), astringente (rizoma).
Non avendo mai avuto la possibilità di assaggiare l’Arnica, non parlerò del suo sapore.
Il sapore aromatico e resinoso della Calendula (che è decisamente più forte nella Calendula arvensis, rispetto alla Calendula officinalis) è chiaramente caldo ed è un forte indicatore della capacità di questa pianta di riscaldare e mettere in movimento. La sua componente amara è invece legata alla sua capacità di purificare l’organismo e, in maniera particolare, di “assottigliare” la flemma (liquidi ispessiti e viscosi) eventualmente presente nei tessuti e nell’apparato digerente.
Il mucillaginoso della Margherita ne indica la capacità demulcente (ossia, sedativa delle infiammazioni ed emolliente per i tessuti, specialmente se irritati) oltre che diuretica. Il sapore salino indica la capacità della pianta di: ammorbidire i tessuti; ammorbidire i depositi di flemma preparandoli per l’eliminazione; favorire l’evacuazione delle feci (ammorbidisce la massa fecale); “entrare nei Reni” (secondo la MTC), agendo, tra l’altro, sul metabolismo degli elettroliti. Il sapore acre indica la presenza di saponine, che hanno un’azione per certi versi simile a quella del salato (anche le piante con saponine ammorbidiscono i tessuti e i depositi di flemma), ma lo fanno in maniera decisamente più intensa. Il sapore acido indica la presenza di acidi organici, che hanno un’azione rinfrescante e che sono capaci di “sedare” la tendenza infiammatoria tissutale e metabolica. Insieme, tutti questi sapori indicano la capacità della margherita di spegnere le infiammazioni e di lenire i tessuti irritati, di favorire l’evacuazione delle feci e la diuresi e di ammorbidire i tessuti induriti e la flemma viscosa e stagnante. Quest’ultima proprietà la rende capace di agire su tutti gli “indurimenti” corporei, tra cui scrofole, orzaioli, linfonodi induriti e addirittura alcune neoplasie, benigne o maligne: in letteratura sono riportati casi di azione importante e decisa su alcuni casi di cancro (soprattutto mammario; v., ad esempio, il Dr. J. Compton Burnett nel suo “Curability of Tumors”).
Entrambe le piante hanno una importante capacità antinfiammatoria. Da quanto appena esposto, si evince che però il meccanismo d’azione è differente: la Calendula, essendo calda, ha la capacità di “mettere in movimento” e questo lo fa anche con l’infiammazione, che viene letteralmente spostata dai tessuti e “dispersa” (la Calendula veniva addirittura classificata come “espulsiva”, cioè capace di espellere le malattie verso l’esterno del corpo); la Margherita, invece, “spegne” l’infiammazione e riduce l’eventuale sottostante iperattività tissutale.
Anche l’omeopatia, infine, ci dà alcune informazioni interessanti. Ad esempio, Bellis perennis viene suggerita nei casi in cui il gonfiore causato da un trauma permane anche dopo l’uso di Arnica, oppure nel caso in cui il trauma sia dovuto specificamente ad una operazione chirurgica, quindi un trauma “profondo” dal punto di vista tissutale (v. ad esempio [HForHealth, Vermeulen2]).
 In realtà, l’uso di Arnica sulle ferite aperte è da evitare perché può produrre reazioni cutanee.
[Culpeper] Culpeper’s “Complete Herbal” (1653 & other editions)
[Durante] Castore Durante, “Herbario nuovo” (1667)
[Gerard] John Gerard, “The herball, or, Generall historie of plantes” (1636 & other editions)
[Mattioli] Pietro Andrea Mattioli, “Discorsi di M. Pietro Andrea Mattioli sanese, medico cesareo, ne’ sei libri di Pedacio Doscoride Anazarbeo della materia Medicinale” (1746)
[Vermeulen] Frans Vermeulen, “Plants – Homeopathic and Medicinal uses from a Botanical Family Perspective”, Saltire Books (2011)
[Vermeulen2] Frans Vermeulen, "The New Synoptic One", Emryss (2004);
(Italiano) Frans Vermeulen, “Materia Medica Omeopatica Sinottica”, Ed. Salus Infirmorum (2007)
Pierluigi Campidoglio of HWB Italy: I'm a chemist, a farmer (I grow veggies, aromatic and medicinal plants) and a herbalist. After the graduation in chemistry (2000), I've been studying massage, naturopathy and traditional chinese medicine (theory, chinese massage AnMo-TuiNa, moxibustion, acupuncture, cupping, shiatsu, ...) from 2005 to 2011. After that, I have kept studying, focusing mostly on homeopathy, nutritional therapy, herbalism (especially traditional chinese phytotherapy and traditional mediterranean herbalism) and crystal healing. I've finally obtained my herbalist and phytotherapist diploma in 2016.
Find out more: https://www.facebook.com/alleanzaverde/
HWB features school, business, and nonprofit members throughout the year on the directory page, home page and here on the blog. This month we are interviewing business member Maile of Prana Potions, located in Hawai'i.
Tell us about the area you live in Hawaii.
Aloha everyone, my name is Maile, pronounced “My-Lee” spelled the traditional Hawaiian way. I am so grateful, as I was fortunate as to be born and raised on the island of O’ahu, Hawai’i. Continuously building up my private studio where I create all things Prana Potions which is also located within the charming home I was originally brought up in. My family’s house resides on the makai (ocean) side near Kuli’ou’ou valley adjacent to a beautiful biodynamic fish pond with a Makaha (wooden sluice gate) my father built. I love spending time on my family’s property, it truly is my sanctuary - even though my partner, Ian and I are currently renting a great space in Manoa valley. This year, I have been focusing my attention to the plants and have been gardening almost daily on my parents' property to help provide nutritious food and potent plant medicine for my family, my friends, my clientele, and of course myself. My long-term plan does not involve me residing in Hawai’i, I leave that open; however, the ‘aina (land) will always be considered my Home where I can (hopefully and continuously) come back to greet with a nostalgic kiss.
What led you to start your own herbal body and beauty products?
Before I was introduced to herbalism (which sparked everything) I was about 4-5 years old and my father was out doing yard work. I was usually outside with him daily, and that day I picked & gathered a few varieties of hibiscus flowers which grew near one of the rock walls in the garden. I noticed the hibiscus petals would create a mucilaginous texture with purple-pink colored pigments on my fingertips when rubbed together, so of course, I grabbed a friendly rock and pestled the hibiscus flowers into a slimy purple tinted paste, applying it to my lips, just like mama. This was just the beginning.
My first introduction to Herbalism occurred in May of 2011 when my Waldorf HS classmates & I had the opportunity to travel to the secluded neighboring island of Moloka’i. We gathered around a sacred Kukui Nut (Aleurites moluccana) grove & learned how the Hawaiians traditionally used this versatile plant medicinally and why. Learning about the healing application, and later the constituents and properties of this plant inspired me on my quest to quench my thirst for botanical healing practices. Knowing there is potent, yet gentle medicine growing beneath and above us, practically free for anyone to grow, gather & use, to me, was and still is complete magic. The divinity exists in the soil, the fungi, the plants, the trees, and our relationship with Life itself. Plant therapeutics and energy work is a huge part of what I feel is my dedicated service to the world and our people! I’m sure you can tell I am very passionate about what I do and why I feel guided to help (and help guide others) as much as I can. Prana Potions is my dedicated space to supply my own personal (and now global!) apothecary, body care and herbal concoctions which I notice evolve every moment I do! What a blessing is that!
Where did the name Prana Potions come from - what in the name most connects you with your business, your products?
The name’s special, as it represents my very first introduction to herbalism, esoteric sciences, energy work and understanding the connection (like systems theory) between what is “I” and what is “the other”. The word ‘PRANA’ is Sanskrit, and has many faces of translations, I’ll share a few here: “constant motion”, “energy source”, “Mana/Qi/Energy/Vibration that makes up the Universe(s)”, “what exists within the in-between/space/the unseen”, “an intuitive guiding life-force” permeating every particle, dancing between the ethers.
I chose the word ‘POTIONS’ as I feel it distinguishes my approach and my personal process that is heart-centered, made with my direct intention & attention to specific details based on trial/error, and continuously learning from those who know much more than I. My approach is to connect on a visceral level in tandem with this primordial source, as woo-woo as it sounds, I’ve noticed a difference from my concoctions then, versus my concoctions now. My Heart will always lovingly vibrate and SING, no matter how many countless times I’ve received the words, “I can literally FEEL the Love radiating from your craft.”
Can you tell us a bit about your products?
Prana Potions really is my own signature line for my unique intimate collaboration with the primordial plant world. Within the sphere I call Prana Potions, I host a variety of versatile, holistic-inspired (La’au Lapa’au, Ayurveda & Western Herbalism) concoctions where the ingredients I use are specifically sourced from suppliers I trust (organically grown, always), ethically wild-harvested (always less than 10%, & never in parks/recreational areas), or my personal favorite- locally homegrown with LOVE by either me, close friends, or grown by our beloved local farmers here in Hawai’i.
You can find botanical, root & flower-based ‘makeup’, elemental edible (and topical) tinctures/elixirs, non-comedogenic plant-infused body serums and quality versatile self-care offerings, crafted individually by my two hands. I’ll often find myself blissfully tearing up, feeling this huge sense of relief and inner empowerment knowing we can only grow from here!
Despite our current day and age, with all its distractions and embedded trauma for many of us, ever since I can remember, it’s been difficult for me to not see the divinity/lessons in all of it. This is a part of me I hold and love fiercely. It is what I believe, what makes my work the potency that it is with its gentle ability to nourish those as sensitive individuals; whether you have sensitive skin, or a sensitive Soul, like myself! Our artisanal apothecary shifts and cycles like the seasons, where many of my formulas are created in micro-batches (or limited edition quantities) which ensures freshness and retain that ‘spice of life.’ The concoctions will change when I do, and that’s my modus operandi. My work and I don’t hold back from growth, nor improving ourselves. It’s an intimate relationship, something many of us creators and artists feel about our work.
How do you create and develop new products?
My approach is a loving, invigorating, intuitive and scientific one- made from the heart (not machine) with awareness of ecological-rights & justice for earth-kind, and I’m passionate about that. When it comes down to it, many products have been birthed from those moments where I've suffered the most and wished there were physical modalities that were gentle enough for my own body, skin, and mind. My biggest issues are my pain management, nausea (thus creating eating disorders), my skin’s health, & the management of mental illness (physical anxiety, OCD, and depression). I continuously work, just like anyone else, to make peace with myself, knowing I am certainly not perfect (why be anyway?) and no one is expecting me, a 23-year-old to know all the secrets to health. Knowing I am doing my best to help my loved ones, myself and my community with what I have to offer excites me more than I could possibly write in words! It’s exciting to know Prana Potions will never be a stale brand, it will always be a part of the journey.
How does HWB connect with your business ethos and goals?
HWB is a powerful global (and local!) grassroots community consisting of herbal apothecary projects & strategies promoting holistic health and wellness accessible to all people, no matter their income, circumstance or trauma. These are the values I look for in a community. Joining their team and donating what I feel is a helpful amount to their cause is worth every ounce of work you squeezed into your passions to be able to give back- I mean, where would we be without each other anyway?
A goal of mine is to expand Prana Potions in a way where receiving capital isn’t an issue (by means to get by, I know, good luck, right? Despite the doubt, I’m remaining positive). Herbalists Without Borders has paved a unique way which has inspired a new vision for what it is I want to give to the world, where there is an abundance of nutritious plant medicine and I am able to freely provide assistance for those in serious need of my line of work. I am in the beginning stages of finding myself and establishing my services, but this goal of mine runs quite DEEP. I always knew it began with my heart, little did I know your heart could literally extend past your hands and comfort another in need with your distinct innate healing nature. Don’t ever think for one moment, you can’t help or heal another, ask yourself, what helps and heals you? Extend yourself as that mirror for another who resonates, and you may quickly find yourself reaching those who specifically gravitate towards that nurturing gift of yours- where hopefully, we may always be provided for, to continuously lend our much needed remedial energy to those in need.
Where can we find Prana Potions products?
If you feel guided to gift yourself or a loved one a few of my handcrafted concoctions, you can find my offerings on the Shop tab within this website here: www.PranaPotions.com | I am also active on IG (@PranaPotions) but please beware, I get close and intimate with those who wish to witness the journey of our unfolding, feel free to join me if you wish!
Is there anything else you would like to share?
To be honest, growing up, I wasn’t properly taught how to take serious care of my overall health, it was codependent in its nature, where I allowed others to take responsibility for what I didn’t know then, were optional, how I could I blame myself, or my parents if they didn’t know better? It was only until it all just hit me (you know the feeling.) It’s important to remember, how over time with cellular turnover (and cells multiplying/copying one another) our body becomes entirely made out of what you have put inside of it & on top of it. As goes the saying, "you are what you eat", this goes for both internal methods such as eating, smoking, ingesting/applying prescription medication, using herbal therapeutics, and external applications such as wearing latex gloves, antiperspirant deodorant, even using makeup created out of ground hibiscus flowers and dehydrated beetroots. What do we choose to feed ourselves- metaphysically (and palpably)? We’re most certainly not separate from the environment which feeds us... One of my hopes is to help rebirth one's’ conceptions of personal/ self-care, to a heart-centered, reverent experience which innately becomes a lifestyle that overtime, befriends us, instead of betrays us. It is an absolute privilege, and an honor to be of service to my local and global community. Like I say, thank the plants, as I consider myself a bridge for those who don’t know how to speak their language thus utilizing their undeniable talents for growth, lesson and of course, healing. Mahalo nui loa, dear friends, and thank you, truly, for taking the time to get to know a little bit about me and my dearly beloved craft.
HWB is hosting a series of HWB Chapter Features so you can get to know a little bit more about HWB Chapters and their Coordinators as well as find out what Chapters do, and how they are working in their communities.
HWB Green Wisdom Chapter Coordinator: Gigi Stafne
How long have you been a Chapter Coordinator: 12 years
Tell us a bit about yourself and herbalism in your life: Herbalism has been a longtime calling for most of us involved in Herbalists Without Borders and Green Wisdom School of Natural and Botanical Medicine. A passion for plants, people and this precious planet! Sit knee-to-knee with me sometime I and I will share the adventurous storylines.
Tell us about your Chapter: Our Herbalists Without Borders Chapter has quarterly meetings. These are often tele-conference format since we cover a large region in the Upper Midwest and Lake Superior region. In the earlier years they were most often in-person meetings. On average there are 7-13 people attending a meeting and volunteering at our HWB Free Peoples Clinics.
What type of activities does your Chapter do: The main focus of our chapter's work has been on affordability and accessibility of health and wellness care for all people during the past years. We have made this happen via Free Peoples Clinics, mobile clinics, street medic work and international aid...volunteering in some poverty stricken rural Upper Midwest regions to Cuba health care delegations. Our chapter is portable, mobile and knows how to respond to emergencies from natural disaster to environmental disasters. The most recent being a response to a refinery explosion and free herbalism aid to those in need in the Twin Ports region of Lake Superior.
Other HWB Chapter activities have included writing eGuides for Herbalists Without Borders, hosting concerts, speaking engagements, plant sales, plant identification walks, kayaking for the cause and much more. Each event and project has been a volunteer labor of love, but well worth it!
Find Green Wisdom on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/greenwisdomschool/
To find out more about becoming a member of Herbalists Without Borders visit:
To find or join a Chapter visit:
HWB spoke with James Christian, Dean of the School of Phytotherapy.
Pacific Rim College was created in 2006. They had the idea of becoming a world leader in integrative education - at the time, most alternative health programs were single program focused; herbalism or chinese medicine or acupuncture - "or," not "and." One idea they had was that people don't always know exactly what area of alternative health or sustainable communities they want to work in, and with Pacific Rim, students can start exploring courses, enroll in multiple programs or in complementary programs, and all credits apply towards the final degree, no penalties or starting anew.
Pacific Rim also saw the need for an intensive program that includes clinical training, in-depth knowledge and internal regulatory guidelines to maintain high standards. They have a 3 year minimum training that works to develop community experience, clinical skills, and students that look beyond the degree to pursue collaboration, work as ambassadors for programs both locally and globally.
Pacific Rim offers many programs of study - from herbal medicine to holistic nutrition, from acupuncture to integrative health, even permaculture design and doula training. When asked what led them to such a diversity of programs, James mentioned that most people interested in herbal health are also interested in holistic nutrition, many in doula training want to know what herbs are safe, many interested in herbalism or Chinese medicine are also interested in sustainable agriculture and permaculture, and their program allows students to delve into multiple topics in-depth to broaden their experiences.
When asked about how they approach and manage the colonialism aspect of their students entering the first nation clinics, he said that is something that was very critical in approach to their school. They were first approached by first nation members who were also students of Pacific Rim College about working with the VNFC to host free clinics. From there they were invited by VNFC to work together, and are invited guests. Indigenous students attend Pacific Rim College, and the school works to listen and learn, and not step in the way of how the students combine their own traditions and plant knowledge with aspects of western herbalism. Pacific Rim also tackles the subject in their in house discussions of diversity, decolonization, and supporting VNFC as they work to reintroduce native plants back into their community.
Pacific Rim College also works to maintain contact after graduation. They want students to feel comfortable asking for feedback or if they have questions about a hard case. Pacific Rim also offer workshops that are available to current students, past students, and the public, so that they can have teachers from other schools of thought and experiences available to their community, to see different approaches of practice and knowledge.
For more information on Pacific Rim College, visit
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HWB is a 501c3 NGO nonprofit. Our nonprofit is a global member network of of herbalists, medicinal plant growers, herbal educators, alternative holistic modality practitioners and others dedicated to herbal health access for all, medicinal plant conservation, health justice and more.
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