Benefits of Chickweed with Kat Maier


Share this!



The cooling benefits of chickweed (Stellaria media) can help to bring relief from hot flashes and other “hot” conditions, such as some infections. Ubiquitous, mineral-rich, and deeply nourishing, chickweed cools and moistens, moving heat and stagnation gently, yet powerfully. 

Join me as I discuss the benefits of chickweed with Kat Maier RH, (AHG). The founder and director of Sacred Plant Traditions, Kat has trained many clinical herbalists who have gone on to begin other schools, apothecaries or open practices. Her training as a Physician’s Assistant allows her to weave the language of biomedicine into her practice of traditional energetic herbalism. You’ll also receive Kat’s recipe for Meno-ease, an herbal tincture which she describes as one of her most reliable remedies to help with cooling temps from hot flashes. 

Watch for:

► How chickweed works on boundaries to help heal conditions such as cysts or fibroids

► How patterns of nature inform the practice of herbalism

► Kat’s easy-to-follow words of advice for people just beginning to work with herbal medicine


-- TIMESTAMPS -- 

  • 01:08 - Introduction
  • 03:02 - Kat’s journey to becoming a community-created herbalist
  • 13:27 - Kat shares why she loves chickweed (Stellaria media)
  • 17:04 - Does it matter whether you use fresh or dried chickweed?
  • 18:04 - How chickweed may play a role in healing conditions such as cysts and fibroids
  • 22:10 - Kat explains how various herbs can help in relieving hot flashes
  • 29:00 - Kat’s recipe for Meno-ease, an herbal tincture for relief from hot flashes
  • 29:52 - Chickweed’s high mineral content and how that can support weight loss efforts and the lymphatic system
  • 33:10 - Rosalee and Kat discuss Kat’s new book, Energetic Herbalism
  • 37:21 - How patterns in nature inform herbalism
  • 42:54 - Kat shares advice for beginning herbalists
  • 47:03 - Kat shares her greatest surprise in working with herbs

Download Your Recipe Card!

Connect with Kat


Transcript of the Benefits of Chickweed with Kat Maier Video

Rosalee de la Forêt:

Hello, and welcome to the Herbs with Rosalee Podcast, a show exploring how herbs heal as medicine, as food, and through nature connection. I'm your host, Rosalee de la Forêt. I created this channel to share trusted herbal wisdom so that you can get the best results when relying on herbs for your health. I love offering up practical knowledge to help you dive deeper into the world of medicinal plants and seasonal living.

Each episode of the Herbs with Rosalee Podcast is shared on YouTube as well as your favorite podcast app. Also, to get my best herbal tips, as well as fun bonuses, be sure to sign up for my weekly herbal newsletter at the bottom of this page. Okay. Grab your cup of tea and let's dive in.

Today's guest has been an herbalist for many decades and has taught many herbal students over the years. Kat Maier is the founder and director of Sacred Plant Traditions, a center for herbal studies in Charlottesville, Virginia. One of her greatest accomplishments has been to train many clinical herbalists who have gone on to begin other schools, apothecaries or open practices. In clinical practice for over 30 years, Kat teaches internationally at universities, conferences, and herbal schools. She is a founding member of Botanica Mobile Clinic, a nonprofit dedicated to providing accessible herbal medicine to local communities.

This grew out of her school's free clinic, which was one of the first on the East Coast, and went on to be a template for other schools. She began her study of plants as a Peace Corps volunteer, and her training as a physician's assistant allows her to weave the language of biomedicine into her practice of traditional energetic herbalism. She is co-author of Bush Medicine of San Salvador Island, Bahamas. As a passionate steward of the plants, Kat also served as president of the United Plant Savers, and was the recipient of the organization's first Medicinal Plant Conservation Award.

Hello and welcome, Kat. I'm so thrilled to have you here on the show.

Kat Maier:

I know, Rosalee. I've been really looking forward to it myself.

Rosalee de la Forêt:

Likewise. Likewise. Well, we're going to talk about so many fun things today. I'm really excited about your new book. But before we jump into that, I would love for you to share with everybody how you got into this plant world.

Kat Maier:

Thank you, Rosalee. I love that you asked that question. I've loved your guests, and all of our stories are just so wonderful and inspiring. It's just such a wonderful way to begin. Growing up, we didn't go to the doctor. We didn't go to the herbalist. We were really pretty healthy, so I really attribute the beginning of my plant studies to joining the Peace Corps. I was 19. I was in Chile, and I was a health and nutrition educator, because I knew I wanted some form of medicine and healing. But at 12, I knew I wanted the Peace Corps, and nothing was going to come after that.

It was the late '70s, so modern medicine was very important and allopathy. There was this saying in Chile, no seas bruja, don't be a witch. There was this undertone of really putting traditional medicine in the background. It took a while for me to begin to watch women with plants. I just remember, Rosalee, the first time I ever drank one of their strong infusions. I never had an herbal tea, maybe mint, maybe chamomile, but I never really had a medicine brew. Places lit up in me that I didn't even know existed.

I just had this journey experience in a way. When I came back, I went to graduate school in D.C. I was all about, "We got to save this medicine. Traditional medicine really can't disappear." It didn't take long for me to realize that, "Wow, this template of development is this white person's idea," and again, this is early '80s. Just something didn't feel right, and where's the invitation? Then I had this existential crisis, and I thought, "Well, I don't even know about the herbs in Virginia or Appalachia, or who am I to go save herbal medicines when I don't even know them here?"

That sent me out of grad school, and went out to the mountains, worked in this wilderness school for emotionally-challenged young women who had suffered different levels of trauma from different places, organizations, family. I thought it was wilderness school, and we built our own structures, and I thought, "I'm here for the plants. I'm living in the woods." That was my ticket. I thought, "Oh, how hard can it be? I've been in the Peace Corps. I can do this."

It was way hard. But these young girls and women, it was amazing. I spent two years there, and right before my commitment was up, I met this woman, and she said, "Well, look, if you're really interested in herbal medicine, you should go to the British school of phytotherapy. (It was in Bath, England at that time. It has since moved.) In some ways, you love science as well. I love how you really weave in science, and make it the same language of the sacred of the energy. I too am a recovering scientist."

I really wanted that aspect for the plants. The other thing is here in the States, I wanted to work with a certain community, a low-income, urban, and herbalism, again, in the early '80s did not seem like an entry point. But anyway, I went over to Britain, and I interviewed at the school. But before that happened, I visited friends in Ireland. I was doing a counter clockwise tour. I know your heart is also in the hawthorn hedges. I got to the west coast of Ireland. I got to Doolin, and I just didn't leave for months.

For me, what that was is this was my journey of indigeneity. I thought I was coming for the British school, but my mother's... I have ancestors that I really hadn't met. I was hustling jobs. I was doing botanical tours of the Burren, just to make money working in restaurants, just falling in love with so many aspects of the west coast of Ireland, really had a deep experience with that. Then I did go to the school, and it was so beautiful. When I returned home, I thought, "I really want to work in medicine, and I want to be accessible," so I became a physician assistant, loved it, totally love the training. I didn't want medical school.

I wanted more of the plants, totally loved it. You know how we have these great plans. It's like, "I'm going to do this, and I'm going to do that. And after that, this is going to happen." I had this great plan. I'm going to graduate. I'm going to get five years. I'm going to see all the rashes, and learn meds, and learn all that stuff, learn how to stitch, do barefoot doctors stuff. Rosalee, I think we have dreams, and then I think there's this overarching dream that dreams us. When the two align, then bliss occurs.

What happened was the dream that was dreaming me ahead of mine was, "No, you're going to the plants," and right out of PA school. I found myself at an herb farm in Luray, Virginia making minimum wage, making dried flower wreaths, and also planting herbs to the biodynamic calendar. It was just this amazing experience, lived in a cabin. We didn't have running water. This is back in the day when massage was not licensed, if you can believe that. I thought, "Well, I'm making minimum wage. I have to pay my huge medical loan for school," and so I got a massage table, learned to massage.

I did that during the morning. And then in the afternoon, I'd come home, and we would just live in the forest. We just lived in the mountains, in the meadows. I had my books, and I spent seven years, really, in this self-taught mode, applying medicine and doing study. I always feel that I really am a community-created herbalist because I would never refer to myself as an herbalist. We just weren't doing that then. It was when my community started referring to me, "Oh, go see the herbalist, or she does massage, but you should check out her herbs."

That's when I really felt initiated by my community. Then I met Rosemary Gladstar, and all of a sudden, this world opens up, and I'm like, "Wow, there's a lot of people out here that work this way." She's shone her light on me, and I was able to teach, and then really found our amazing community of teachers and herbalist and conferences. We're all so anxious for us to join again. I went and I traveled. I sought certain teachers out, and I traveled and I learned from them.

Then we opened an herb school. Teresa Boardwine and I opened up an herb school in Little Washington, Virginia called Dreamtime. We had that for seven years, because I thought, "Wow, the journey to become an herbalist should not be so torturous." It was a hard road at times. Then we opened that school. It was a great school. We had great guest teachers. Then after seven years, I moved down here to Charlottesville where I have Sacred Plant Traditions, and creating a whole other community. It's not urban. Charlottesville is not urban at all, but I have this downtown sanctuary.

My new mission is you don't have to wait 'til you have 20 acres. Plant the plants. Plant the ginseng and goldenseal, so here we are today enjoying this conversation.

Rosalee de la Forêt:

Well, thank you for that story, Kat. Couple things that struck me is, one, just how the plants kept calling you back. No matter where you went or what you did, they were like, "Kat, come back. We're here." I love that. I love that so much. Also, one thing that I just really want to accentuate for people who may not know you before today is as in your bio, I love how you said in your bio that one of your greatest accomplishments is that you have inspired all these other herbalists who have become clinical herbalists, apothecaries, et cetera.

Over the years, I can't tell you how many people I've met who are, "Oh, I studied with Kat Maier. Oh, I went through Kat Maier's program." You really have been sharing your wisdom with a lot of people, and it's like a ripple going out there.

Kat Maier:

I had a Chinese teacher long, long time ago. I say, Rosalee, the goal of a healer is obsolescence. That deeply struck me, and I thought, "Oh, but we'll always have to make a living, and we'll always have to have import." Now that... I mean, I could leave Charlottesville. I could disappear from the planet, and herbalism is really thriving here. That's why I share that because that's what you're doing and teachers are doing, and passing it on that it's such a joy.

Rosalee de la Forêt:

Well, I'm really excited to talk about the benefits of chickweed. I'm excited for a couple of reasons, but I should start with you. Why are you excited to talk about the benefits of chickweed, Kat?

Kat Maier:

I know. It's like, "Oh, I want to hear why you're excited." Boy, how do you choose one or... One, I've been recently harvesting it. I love the fall greens just like mesclun and just like our spring greens and fall greens. We have that in the herb world. We have the spring chickweed, viola, dandelion, and then they're back in the fall. They're fresh and juicy. They've gone through that summer, and wilted and got bitter, fibrous. I've recently been back at the lush fall chickweed.

I love the archetype and the story of chickweed that she's so incredibly gentle, and whatever gender. You might feel that chickweed's male or a spirit. That really doesn't matter. But for me, it's so incredibly... She's so nourishing and nutritious and gentle. Yet, I have seen chickweed go deep in with MRSA, impetigo. A lot of my teachers are the Mennonite community I work with. For the Mennonites, this is not alternative. I've done many, many home births. I've had the honor of working in that community, and they don't transport.

They have extended many, many boundaries for me. Whooping cough, when one gets it, eight get it. With chickweed, impetigo, strep, serious bacterial infections, I've worked with chickweed, a compress, working with a tea or a gargle, serious infected boils. When we learn the energetics which you so beautifully teach, and stay true to that, and really repeat that because for beginners, it is a little foreign, but it clears heat. Chickweed is very cooling. It clears heat.

It moves heat, which is why I love it for menopause, for that heat of menopause to really clear that and moisten. It really brings yin if people are familiar with yin and yang. The yin is more the fluid, the water element. I can go on with many other stories about chickweed. Many people now are starting to work with the spirit of the plant. But for me, I don't teach that spirit medicine. I meet my own plant, and I journey to the plant, and it takes a long time. It isn't just a weekend workshop and, "Oh, I know this."

It's just like you, we've had wonderful encounters, but spending more and more time, I would really feel your spirit and know that. For me, when chickweed really invited me to use her in was children who don't laugh enough. What was interesting is when I would then work with children, and look at that profile when you're doing intakes, I would notice there would be dry lungs, that they might have been on medications, that they might have had a history of asthma, so it was this beautiful bronchial application, adding it into teas and primarily teas.

I work with tinctures in a way. When you're working with chickweed, you really want to do a fresh plant tincture. But I remember learning from Susun Weed, she was one of my first herb teachers, and she was perfect out of medical school, because I had all these rules and regulations and limits, but I can't go there, and, "Oh no, you're going to need to treat that seriously," so Susun in her Aquarian way, blew boundaries aside, and so learning chickweed in the beginning always had to be fresh, always had to be fresh.

Then Phyllis Light came to our school. What she does is these wonderful provings, and you drink a cup of this big vat of tea she makes. We all had profound experiences, and she had this knowing smile, and she said, "That was dried chickweed." She really taught me through that experience. I use it dried a lot now, in teas, going deep. I think chickweed is like Viola, violet. It really works on boundaries. That's why chickweed works with cysts and fibroids and dissolving those boundaries, which is why I think it works with deep infections.

I didn't know about biofilm way back when, and I just wonder if chickweed doesn't have a relationship of moving through biofilms or the protective barriers the bacteria set up because they want to thrive. They want to stay intact. I now work with dry chickweed. I used it in COVID, moistening some of the dry respiratory issues. Boy, there's rarely a place where I can't find a reason for working with chickweed.

Rosalee de la Forêt:

Wow. Thank you for sharing so much of that. Chickweed, it is such an unassuming plant. It's a weed that will just grow in people's gardens. I've also seen it growing in forests like a weed, and disturbed soils. One reason I was excited to talk about it is because of its energetics. It's just so easy to get it with chickweed. You take a bite of it. You taste that it's moistening. You taste... You can feel the cooling functions on it.

It is interesting that it has a sweetish or bland taste. It's not hard to eat at all, and so many of our herbs that clear heat are very bitter, like goldenseal comes to mind immediately, super bitter. This one, it's just... It seems so unassuming. It's this tasty, sweetish, bland weed, weedy green, and then it is so amazing for infection, but really, you keep in mind that when there's a hot, inflamed, dry something going on, it doesn't even matter what it is if it's just hot, inflamed, dry... Chickweed.

I mean, it's the cooling, moistening qualities of chickweed, and it just makes so much sense, and it works.

Kat Maier:

That's so beautiful. Exactly. That's why digestive system, respiratory system, it's just knowing the tissue state or energetic, whatever lens and language you work with, and it's pretty ubiquitous, which when we're looking at sustainability now, and it has to be the main conversation, it'll grow during the winter. Especially if you have a greenhouse, people that have greenhouses, I will go and borrow a corner, and spread chickweed seeds, because then you'll have the fresh for ear aches or some hot winter infections.

It loves the greenhouse. You have to have a friend, because it will spread, but I love it, and even under snow.

Rosalee de la Forêt:

That was interesting. You said about you use it for children who don't laugh a lot, because there is something so cheery about it. When you get to know chickweed, I think it's like one of those spirit things. I can't say that I know why it's cheery, but when you spend time with chickweed, it's got those little flowers that just seem so playful and cheerful.

Kat Maier:

Exactly. Isn't it called star flower? There's many common names, but I think it's this star. When you really get your loupe and you look at the flower, it's these radiating petals, and it just is this energy of moving out. That's why these herbs, these plants, you can sit and you can contemplate them for a long time. They just continually reveal themselves to us. That's the mind blowing aspect of how generous these plants are. They will keep revealing themselves.

I love chickweed tea for the dry atrophy aspect of menopause or andropause with men as well as women, working with tissue, and really moistening that.

Rosalee de la Forêt:

Another obvious heat symptom is hot flashes, especially associated with menopause. I'm excited to talk about your recipe, because I get this question a lot about hot flashes, night flashes, that obvious sign of heat. I mean, anyone who's experienced that, you know that's heat. There's no question there.

Kat Maier:

No question there.

Rosalee de la Forêt:

You're sharing a tincture recipe that includes chickweed for clearing heat.

Kat Maier:

Yeah. That was my classic way-back-when formula, and it's black cohosh. I'm sure that it's listed, but the herbs are chickweed, black cohosh, dandelion taraxacum. I can speak a lot about that in menopause. Then depending on the person, sometimes it would be vitex. Now, I'm using less black cohosh, because that's really threatened. Because of menopause, tons and tons have been harvested, and there's a huge black market. What I've been using instead of the cohosh is Kudzu, the vine that took over the south.

I mean, kudzu is not endangered. What's interesting is both of those plants, but the medicine is more than a phytoestrogen. They're steroidal. Those steroids really nourish our body, nourish the adrenals, and with black cohosh, why it works, it loosely binds in those hormone receptors, and so you don't have the surge or that need. What's interesting is one of the main mechanisms of hot flashes is your body's like, "Oh, make FSH, make estrogen, make estrogen." Then when the stores are low, it'll throw out adrenaline.

Like, "Come on, you make this." It'll demand it. That's the hot flash. It's that adrenaline surge, because it's trying to jumpstart the hormone if you will. The beautiful thing about cohosh is it's steroidal, and it helps the adrenals, and it helps that cortisol. Traditionally, it really wasn't used for menopause. It was rheumatism and joints, because it's just so deeply nourishing through steroids. Look at kudzu. If your listeners aren't familiar with kudzu, it just is the vine. It's crawling all over the Southeast. It's a steroid. That's the archetype.

If you look at a doctrine of signatures, it's on steroids, and so I've been trying to use more kudzu, but I really love the Vitex supporting progesterone, the black cohosh, supporting the estrogenic hormones. Dandelion... our liver breaks down hormones, so working with dandelion root during menopause, for me, that's liver heat. That heat, that hot rising is also liver heat if people are a little familiar with Chinese medicine, and so it's so cooling. Roots have a downward direction in vitalism. Every plant has a direction.

Dandelion, I mean, it's just ubiquitous, and it's just such an incredible medicine, and vitamins, but I love putting dandelion root in there just to lead this energy. Because a lot of times in menopause, there is liver congestion. There's lots of surges of hormones, or maybe people are on medications or just living in America. I love dandelion in that formula.

Rosalee de la Forêt:

Nice. I think there's a motherwort in there as well.

Kat Maier:

Oh my gosh, of course, the queen. Thank you. Thank you. We'll come back and do a whole show on motherwort. Motherwort, I mean, vasodilator, it's a cooling bitter. It's just so incredibly comforting because it does dilate the blood vessels. That's very relaxing. It's a nervine. It's another bitter. Sometimes I've just pure, simply worked with motherwort, and that in itself can really affect... If somebody has a PRN hot flash bottle, sometimes I'll give them a little bottle of motherwort.

So if something's coming on at work or during the day, sometimes, the alcohol is heating, because you do have to be careful of that, because alcohol has its own energetic that can aggravate hot flashes, but you can take it, and it can sometimes have a very quick effect on that.

Rosalee de la Forêt:

Lovely. One thing that I really love about chickweed, especially for hot flashes and night sweats, is that it's not only cooling, but also moistening. Not always, but sometimes from energetically that sensation of the heat can be caused by lack of moisture in the body, and so that's really nice... It's just such a great pairing.

Kat Maier:

Exactly. Exactly. Sometimes Viola can be in there as well, because lots of nutrition, a lot of nourishment. We work a lot with unhoused, and we work in our free clinic, and working with herbs that they can gather, they understand, and it's heat. Street living is harsh. It's really, really harsh in hydration, and they love chickweed, Viola teas that we'll take and make in an urn. That moistening aspect, you're so right about that. You're so right. That's why I love it.

It's a safe enough tea when folks are on inhalers or steroids for asthma, because they can be very drying. That mucus membrane lining, that is our immune system, keeping that moist, keeping the sinuses and lungs and all that. Mucin, that's where the immune cells show up. This is a great time to start talking about that as wood heat comes on or indoor heat. The winter broths, you really want them moistening. You want to really keep that nice and juicy with the membranes.

Rosalee de la Forêt:

This message is for the listeners. As you probably know by now, I love to share recipes when we talk about these plants. Recipes are a wonderful way for you to get involved and create your own experience with herbs. It's one thing to hear cool facts about the benefits of chickweed, but an entirely other thing to form your own relationship with this plant through observing, tending, and tasting, and really getting to know its herbal energetics for yourself.

To help you get to know the benefits of chickweed more deeply, Kat is sharing a tincture recipe for addressing menopausal hot flashes. She calls it Meno-ease. You can download your recipe card by clicking the link above this transcript.

Is there anything else you'd like to share about the benefits of chickweed?

Kat Maier:

Well, it's interesting. One of Susun Weed's uses has been in weight loss and metabolism. What I have found is it's this great relationship with minerals. In my view, water follows salt, and chickweed is so salty and nutritious and good earth salts. Why I think it also is so deeply moistening is it has this salt, and when it moves into the cells, it attracts that water. It brings that water in. It also helps metabolism that way. I have found that when women are trying, or men, it's mostly women, trying to lose weight, chickweed provides this satiation.

That's hard to describe, but it might be that moistening... They just feel content. It's just this calming and relaxing. That's why I love the energetics because moistening treats tension. With all the tissue states, that tension or relaxation when you're looking at tone, that can be caused by dryness and that can be caused by heat. When we're moistening, not only are we nourishing and building the tissue, but then we're also allowing that body to have what it needs, so it's not striving for nutrients or creating attention, if you will.

It really addresses dry, atrophy, tension, so many other stagnation. I mean, it moves things. I mean, chickweed is really interesting. I think that's because of the salt. I think I'll use it in stagnant lymphatics, whether it's red root or calendula or when there's this stagnant lymph. Nodules aren't moving, or whatever that may be, chickweed will pull because the lymph system is our internal ocean. It's really all about water. And so when you have these nettles, and earthen mineral teas, that really helps move lymphatics.

I add chickweed to my lymphatic teas. I bet we could go to digestion...

Rosalee de la Forêt:

I love the language you're using, Kat, because so often, when people first get interested in herbs, they're focused maybe on solutions or problems they're having, so they'll be like, "What herb is good for high blood pressure? What herb is good for digestion? What herb is good for acne," which is a fair question, because that's what brings a lot of us to the world of herbalism, but then there's this opportunity to pull back the curtains and see this whole beautiful wide world of herbalism, and really is a whole other language, a whole other way of thinking about health and illness or disease.

I'm so excited to talk about your book. I'm just so thrilled to have an early advanced copy. I got this before most people, and I've been poring through it. This is such a great book for learning that language, learning that traditional way of looking at energetics and so much of what you've been talking about, tension, heat, stagnation. Those are definitely the language of the herbalist.

Kat Maier:

Thank you. Thank you so much. What's interesting about the book is in some ways, it's my three-year clinical curriculum, and yet I don't want to have people have to come to a school or pay money, or how can I make what I feel for practitioners or working with your family, working with yourself, working with your friends? What are some of the languages and skills and tools? In many ways, that's what energetic herbalism is; it's everything I know, everything I believe in, and it's taking the different energetic systems, whether Chinese, Ayurvedic, and then our own Western language, and familiarizing them.

Because at the end of the day, as you know, Rosalee, it's all about the elements. It's about fire and water and wind. Because I think that the one conversation everyone needs to be having now is climate change, how can we help people directly engage? I am fire. Where is the fire? What is earth, and how we relate? Our bones, we are these elements, and so to learn the elements, we're learning our nature. If I know more of my tendencies and who I am and what I'm prone to, then that can guide my food, my diet.

Plus, it's so super fun.

Rosalee de la Forêt:

It is.

Kat Maier:

It's like, "Oh my God, this is so cool," and it all is substantiating traditional medicine. It's like, "Oh, that's why all the digestive herbs are stimulants and aromatics, and they're moving, and they're pungent." As you said, it makes things fall into place, and it can be very intuitive. It can also be confusing. This is my attempt to try to simplify and present what can be pretty overwhelming concepts in an easier format to digest.

Rosalee de la Forêt:

That's interesting. You say that this is your three-year clinical curriculum. Because when I was reading the book, I looked up at my husband at one point, and I said, "This book is what I went to school for three years of learning".

Kat Maier:

Oh, that's so great. Mission accomplished.

Rosalee de la Forêt:

There is so much in there, but like you said, simplified and really weaving together of traditions. One thing that I love about energetics is that when I first started learning energetics, I remember feeling some resistance, and I was learning a lot of Chinese medicine. I remember learning all the patterns like deficient kidney yang. And I was like, deficient kidney yang, like, I'm just memorizing this weird stuff. It doesn't make sense to me, because I'm not Chinese.

But once I started practicing and once I had more experience, I realized like, "Oh, this is just revealing a pattern, the art." That exists.

Kat Maier:

Exactly.

Rosalee de la Forêt:

Now I have some terminology, some experience and ways of recognizing those patterns that were just invisible to me before.

Kat Maier:

Exactly.

Rosalee de la Forêt:

It's just a revealing of what is, and it's so beautiful that that gets tied into our bodies, plants, nature, because it really is just being how all of those weave together, and the patterns that already exist.

Kat Maier:

That's such a key word, pattern, and it's patterns of nature. It's why native peoples would never build on top of a mountain because there's wind, and it's windy and wind dries, and wind gets things stirred up. So when we realize whether it's a vata dosha or lots of activity brings wind into our body, and it dries it, it becomes this organic expression in relationship with the world around us. We start watching water, and this is what so many of the... When I say indigenous, I mean Celtic indigenous and Swedish indigenous.

Every land and continent has their native people. The interesting thing, and I'm so glad you said that is why I love Western energetics is vitalism. When I'm working with clients or students, and I say, "Oh wow, your vitality is back, or you look more vital today," as versus, "Oh, your prana is rising or spleen chi," or using languages that create this hierarchy again, that create, "Oh, I don't really know what chi is. I don't want to ask," but vitalism, "Oh, it's hot. It's cold." Everybody knows stagnant. Stagnant is a state of being.

What I love about the Chinese and what I use are the seasons and the emotions, and the spring, liver, anger. How do we process that? Whether it's winter and kidneys and fear, to me, when I learned the seasonal elements and the correspondences, I just thought this is a gem. Ayurvedic doshas, I know that we have Western constitution. jim mcdonald, a huge fan and friend, choleric and sanguine. When he teaches it, I get it, but it just wasn't the system I resonated with.

I love the doshas. It speaks to me. It's the elements. It's really the elements, so I honor that, and I'm really grateful that today, we're really looking at, "Well, whose tradition is it? Am I appropriating traditions?" We're really having this great conversation. For that, I'm incredibly grateful for Vasant Lad and all the Chinese teachers and practitioners that wanted us in the West to have this information, have this knowledge that they shared willingly, because it's 5,000 years of brilliance, observation of nature that it just makes sense.

Rosalee de la Forêt:

That is so true. I don't often talk about this, but I'm very much a student of five phases, and like you said, the Chinese seasons. I actually... That's something a big part of my life. I do a lot of studies with that. I have my own mentor, and so each season, I'm sinking in deeper and deeper into that. Like you said, 5,000 years of wisdom, I'm just trying to grasp little specks of it, but it is something that is, again, revealing about patterns, and just brings me... I find it so fun and interesting, but there's also a lot of healing there as well.

Kat Maier:

That's so wonderful. That's so exciting. So many people call it five element, and when I learned it, it was called five element, but I've loved doing a deeper study and realized it is the phase. It's all about transition, and it's representing the movement of seasons and the movement of elements and the phases of our lives. That's so wonderful. You'll have to give me feedback on... I'd love to have longer conversations about that because it's so entrancing to me as well.

Rosalee de la Forêt:

That's the thing about herbalism. We just stop at the door of like, "What herb is good for high of blood pressure?" It's like just... bump. I don't know. There's not a lot there. You can name up some herbs, and there you go. But when you talk about these energetics and seasons and patterns and nature connection, for me, it just so much comes to life, and it's just a never ending joyful experience that is... For me, my life has been so deeply enriching, and it's really informed, and led my whole life now.

Kat Maier:

I know. I know. We'll be forever following it.

Rosalee de la Forêt:

It's forever.

Kat Maier:

There's a poet, William Stafford, who I refer to him in the book. He has this great poem called The Way It Is. He talks about this golden thread, and there's this thread that we follow, and others can't see. We can't explain it, and we don't know why we're following it. I find so many people on the herbal path. It's hard. It's isolating and sometimes lonely, but they have this courage. We're like outlaws. We don't fit, and I'm so happy we don't fit, that that golden thread can be very different for different folks on the plant path.

The one thing... I do want to say yes, we're always saying, "Well, I can't treat high blood pressure." Are you hot? Are you cold? You're damp. You're dry. Yet at the same time, I just love how if somebody has a headache, and you're like, "Well, try skullcap," and it works. These herbs can work symptomatically, and then the person's hooked. Then the person's like, "Oh, I want more." I always say to beginning herbalists, don't worry, just keep it simple, and try things. Try things simply, things that are safe.

Then you'll have time to delve deeper because for shingles, it's still Hypericum and skullcap. For 30 years, that has worked, and it still works, but it's so great, all the different variations, but those energetic languages become a contemplation, and it's our nature. We begin to experience things on another level.

Rosalee de la Forêt:

Well, thank you for sharing all of this with us. I'm excited for people to check out your book, Energetic Herbalism, and so excited for all that you've shared to be able to share this with everyone.

Kat Maier:

Thank you. I just want to say about choosing... I only chose 25 herbs, and that was a self-imposed limitation. Again, that's because my work with United Plant Savers, we really have to begin shifting and changing habits. Just what you were saying, when you learn the energetics, you can work with plants in so many different levels, and so to pick the weedy herbs or choose just 25 herbs, it was, truth be told, a little painful. I thought, "Oh, where's tulsi? Where's rose? Anyone have rose in there?"

There might be another book with plants in it, but I just really love taking one plant, and really seeing how far can we explore with this.

Rosalee de la Forêt:

Actually, when I read that in your book, because you do talk about that you only chose 25 and that was intentional, and I just felt like... When I read that, I was like, "Yes, that's some constructive feedback I've gotten about my books that there's not enough plants." Some people want the encyclopedia compendium of 200 plants, and I'm right there with you, in that. Let's narrow, simplify and then go really deep. Your story about how you started with a few, and then you went on this tour and you learned so many.

Then you came back to the few is my exact same journey. I learned from an ethnobotanist. It was very like you learned the plants that grow here. Then I learned Chinese medicine and Ayurveda, and all of a sudden, I was like, "All the herbs, I just want to do all the herbs, all the time," but then when it came to actual practice, when I was in clinical practice and then just using plants for me and my family, it kept coming back to these same, more select herbs that I had a deeper relationship with.

Kat Maier:

That's so beautiful. That's so beautiful. I have in the books, Svevo Brooks, fabulous herbalist and writer. I just say this over and over to classes that he says it's so much better to know 40 uses of one plant than 40 plants with one use. It's such a mantra, and it took us our journey to venture out and then come back home. That's so interesting. That's beautiful.

Rosalee de la Forêt:

Well, before we go, Kat, I'd love to hear if something on your herbal journey has particularly surprised you.

Kat Maier:

Boy, how to choose? I'd probably say the greatest surprise that keeps revealing itself is what we were just talking about, the revelation of layers of medicine. I tell the story of black cohosh in the book and how I met it. It was my first spirit experience. I harvest it. I grew it. I would preserve it, all these uses of cohosh. The good old days when we thought there was an abundance, we had a lot more freedom in using it, and then I tell the story about studying with my teacher, Karen Sanders, who's Choctaw, and Sarah Holmes.

We were in an apprenticeship, so a lot was set up. It wasn't simply a gathering in a circle. There was a lot of medicine and holding space and sacredness. It was our final weekend, and we were in a culmination of our studies. We were going to do ancestral work. They give us a drop. How we work with them is we take a drop of the tincture, and then we're off for about an hour, and we go journey. The cohosh experience was psychedelic, kaleidoscopic, and immediately, I see the double helix. It was this profound, profound journey that was so certain.

I came out, and this isn't that long ago. I thought, "Oh my goodness." I've been harvesting and growing and using cohosh, and here's this whole other medicine, and it's a Choctaw medicine. It's how they make their medicine. I don't know if I could... I can teach what they teach. I can tell stories, but then how many other plants have these hidden medicines? Maybe chickweed, we have that. I think the surprise is it never ends. I'm forever humbled. I'm absolutely forever humbled.

I really mean that because it's not just, "Oh, I'm honored, or it's a blessing." I am blown away on my knees like, "Wow, it's psychedelic just without entheogens." The plant world is so multi-dimensional. That's the beauty of these simples. That might be a little longer, but that it still is surprising and delightfully so.

Rosalee de la Forêt:

I loved hearing all of that, Kat. That's decades of experience and a lot of wisdom in there as well.

Kat Maier:

Thank you, Rosalee. Thank you so much. It's so wonderful, because I love your writing and all that you do, and to find so many similar experiences and discoveries along the way in those energetics that you have really done so much for getting out incredibly simply, and bringing that language as a common language now. That's how folks are looking at foods and herbs. It's our work. It's our work.

Rosalee de la Forêt:

It is our joyful work that's forever expanding, forever deepening.

Kat Maier:

And revealing and exciting.

Rosalee de la Forêt:

Well, thank you so much for spending time with me and everyone today, Kat. I really appreciate it.

Kat Maier:

Oh, thank you, Rosalee. This was really wonderful. Thank you.

Rosalee de la Forêt:

Thanks for watching. Don't forget to click the link above this transcript to get free access to Kat's Meno-ease tincture formula. You can also visit Kat directly at KatMaierHerbalism.com. Before you go, be sure to subscribe to my newsletter below so that you’ll be the first to get my new videos, including interviews like this. I’d also love to hear your comments about this interview and this lovely plant. I deeply believe that this world needs more herbalists and plant-centered folks. I'm so glad that you’re here as part of this herbal community. Have a beautiful day.


Rosalee is an herbalist and author of the bestselling book Alchemy of Herbs: Transform Everyday Ingredients Into Foods & Remedies That Heal and co-author of the bestselling book Wild Remedies: How to Forage Healing Foods and Craft Your Own Herbal Medicine. She's a registered herbalist with the American Herbalist Guild and has taught thousands of students through her online courses. Read about how Rosalee went from having a terminal illness to being a bestselling author in her full story here.  



Choose the best herb for you!

The secret to using herbs successfully begins with knowing who YOU are. 

Get started by taking my free Herbal Jumpstart course when you enter your name and email address. 

By signing up for my free course you’ll also be joining my weekly newsletter where I send my best tips and herbal recipes. I never sell your information and you can easily unsubscribe at any time.

Information found on this website is meant for educational purposes only.
It is not meant to diagnose medical conditions, to treat any medical conditions or to prescribe medicine.
Copyright 2010-2021 www.HerbalRemediesAdvice.org by Rosalee de la Forêt
Affiliate Disclaimer