Calamus Root Benefits with Karyn Sanders

Share this!

It was an honor and a deep pleasure to have this informative conversation about the medicine of calamus root (rhizome) and leaves with Karyn Sanders. Herbalism is about so much more than “this herb for that condition” and Karyn personifies that truth. Her deep connection with this lovely and versatile plant shines throughout as she shares the many ways of working with calamus benefits medicinally, such as:

► Lending its grounding qualities to facilitate trauma work, soothe nervous energy, smooth the edges around times of rapid change like puberty or menopause, and more

► Calming the gut when there’s heartburn, ulcers, cramping, or chronic gassiness

► Soothing toothaches and teething pain, relaxing the throat (Karyn even included it in a throat spray for professional singers!), and strengthening and supporting the healing process from hiatal hernia

► and so many more…

By the end of this episode, you’ll know:

► What makes calamus “deep medicine” – and what can it help with?

► Who should avoid calamus – and when?

► How one city worked with calamus for water purification

► What is the dosage for calamus?

► How you can make a yummy summer tea with calamus leaf

Karyn has been working with plants for most of her life. She was first trained in Native American traditional plant medicine by her grandmother. In her mid-teens she apprenticed with a Mexican curandera and has subsequently studied with various traditional teachers as well as Western herbalists. Karyn has been teaching and practicing herbal medicine from an energetic perspective for over 47 years.

Karyn has been a teacher at the Blue Otter School of Herbal Medicine for over 20 years. She also has had a live radio show, The Herbal Highway, that has aired weekly since 1997 on KPFA, 94.1FM out of Berkeley, California.

I’m thrilled to share our conversation with you today!


  • 01:22 - Introduction to Karyn Sanders
  • 02:52 - Karyn’s early years of learning about herbs
  • 05:19 - How The Herbal Highway came about
  • 09:01 - The energetics and medicine of calamus root
  • 31:15 - Karyn’s current projects
  • 34:57 - The importance of bringing humility and heart to herbalism

Connect with Karyn

Transcript of the Calamus Root Benefits with Karyn Sanders Video

Rosalee: 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.

It was an honor and a deep pleasure to have this informative conversation about calamus root with Karyn Sanders. Karyn is a deeply rooted plant person, which is immediately evident in the way she shares and approaches plants. This interview is a special treat. 

Karyn has been working with plants for most of her life. She was first trained in Native American traditional plant medicine by her grandmother. In her mid-teens, she apprenticed with a Mexican curandera and has subsequently studied with various traditional teachers as well as Western herbalists. Karyn has been teaching and practicing herbal medicine from an energetic perspective over 47 years. Karyn has been a teacher at the Blue Otter School for over 20 years. She also has had a live radio show, The Herbal Highway, that has aired weekly since 1997 on KPFA 94.1 FM out of Berkeley, California. 

Thank you so much for being here, Karyn. 

Karyn: Oh, thank you. Thank you for asking.  

Rosalee: I’m really excited, just really thrilled that you decided to be here, honored, and I’m really curious about what you have to say about calamus root, for multiple reasons, but before we get there, I’d love to hear about your plant path and journey.

Karyn: Okay, like how it got started?

Rosalee: Sure, yeah, wherever you want to start. I know you have a couple of years to choose from along the way, so whatever you’d like to share.

Karyn: It started as a child because it was in the family, my grandmother. It was always through the women, so they chose me. That’s where my training was. My grandma passed when I was 14, and I still trained to finish up to 10 years, and then I kind of took a break because my life blew up when I was a teen. When I was 17, I started to come back, turn that way seriously. By 20, I was teaching and seeing people, so yeah.

Rosalee: What did your training look like? I imagine that you were with the plants, I imagine. 

Karyn: With the plants, with watching people get doctoring, watching people get medicine, how to make a medicine, how to know what plant families were – all of that, all oral. It was all oral and it wasn’t the Western thing of which I did later to some extent. I’ve always did both after a while. My grandma didn’t do clients. People just came and you took care of them even if sometimes it was in the yard. I’ve been doing it probably—I think at around 30, maybe a little bit more—I decided what’s this Western thing that everyone’s talking about? Because it’s always been presented as the originator of herbalism which is so not true, specially in this country. It clearly, absolutely came from Native peoples and then added in African peoples that were forced to come here--slaves. I went to school just to see what is this. It was so different, like 180 viewpoints of what it is to work with herbs and what they mean and how they are and all of that. That was my training and then I’ve done it my whole life. I’ve always said back in the day, you couldn’t make money doing it, so I always had second gigs, second jobs, third jobs, but this was the primary.

Rosalee: How did The Herbal Highway come about? 

Karyn: I had a roommate who worked at this radio station in Berkeley, KPFA. It’s a great station because it’s completely people-sponsored, so there’s no advertising. They’re beholding to no one. She’s like, “You should have a radio show.” I was like, “I don’t know about that,” and then we went down and did an air check. I did it with a dear friend of mine who has since passed, I hate to say, Melissa Assilem. She said, “I’ll do the first show with you. We can use it as the air check to see if they’ll give it to you.” She was an astounding homeopath. That was the first one and then they said yes, so it was once a week live. This year is the 25th year.

Rosalee: Wow.

Karyn: So, yeah.

Rosalee: Is that mostly interviews then? The Herbal Highway? That’s what I’m most familiar with.

Karyn: It’s not just interviews. I would just talk about stuff and lot of times I’d be teaching materia medica because I’d be talking about as many herbs as I could cram in. It’s people teaching about different subjects, talking about different subjects. I would do live call-ins so people could actually just call in and ask questions. It’s a lot of different things, but the intention of the show was I think that this information should be free and then people could decide. I also wanted to show people I tried my best. In those days, it wasn’t as easy as it is now to get people from around the world. This has been a non-broken thing for herbalism in most cultures for forever, time immemorial, so I would try and have as many people from different types, different cultures. 

Rosalee: They would call in, obviously. 

Karyn: Yeah, we hook them up and then I would interview them. Sometimes they were in the studio because Oakland is so diverse and it was. It was really great because sometimes they say, “Get a translator,” and I’d have them just speak in their language because that’s what they spoke. We’d have this long conversations because they’d be translated then I answered it. I think it’s important that people hear people in their language.

Rosalee: Karyn, you must be familiar with this concept of a plant keep showing up in your life and then there’s something to be learned from that. You need to pay attention and say, “Why is this plant showing themselves to me?” Well, two weeks ago, I interviewed jim mcdonald and he wanted to talk about calamus root, and then just this past week, I was telling someone about this kind of funny thing in my head that was going on. They said, “Have you ever worked with calamus root for this?” and then I got your podcast form and you said you want to talk about calamus root, so I’m kind of like just wide open here. I’m all—I’m very-

Karyn: Oh, I see.

Rosalee: I’d love to hear about calamus root because it’s not like calamus root is rosemary. This is not a popular herb.

Karyn: No, and that’s why I wanted to—I love this plant. I didn’t know jim loved it as much too.

Rosalee: One of my first memories of jim is we were on a bus together and he was chewing calamus root. I was very intrigued. I could smell it. It has a very particular aroma.

Karyn: Yes, she’s in the perfume industry.

Rosalee: I’m excited to hear what you have to share about calamus root. 

Karyn: Calamus, to us, is turtle medicine. It’s big medicine. All medicines are big medicine, but turtle medicine is the kind of the mother, holders, off of turtle lodges. It’s a lot of medicine. It’s grounding, but it’s also the really deep ability to, basically, mine all areas. Go deep down in as far you could, and then come all the way out with that information, and then keep that going and then utilize it. It’s that kind of medicine. You don’t take it lightly. This is one of the plants I was taught… In our way, the plants will give you a song. I remember thinking when I first heard that, I was going to get all these songs, but then I was told, “No, if you’re lucky you’ll get one or two or three in your life,” because you have to know a plant so deeply that it wants to give you that kind of medicine. This is the one that I have that it gave me that’s called—the other name for it is “sweet flag.” That was what the perfumery and the Westerners use. Calamus is just its Latin… Ichiwa is—Ichonowa is the other name.

You can use the root. Most people dry it up. Some people have used it—you have to really know how to use it to use it fresh, but usually it’s dried. You want to cut it the long way root. It has these roots that go like that, so you cut them. If you cut them the other way, it changes the medicine, so you want to be careful with that. I wonder if jim was just chewing on it because it tastes good. It’s used—you’ll see it at ceremonies, especially the singers, they’ll have some string around it or thong and have this tied up and soak on it because it helps you with those high notes. Some people are high note singers, so that’s what that’s about.

It directs the light to self. I would say its vibration is really full and gentle and it’s kind of neutral. Its temperature is pretty much neutral, slightly cooling. If you think of—well, not the center of the earth, that’s pretty hot—but all above that with all the waters that go through it. It helps to bring light. I find that it helps to bring energy down a little bit into the body. If people are on surface a lot either in their emotions or their physical, mental, spiritual, they come down where there are supposed to be more, so I use it for the deeper realities, you would say. Some people are terrified of that and it makes sense because to go deep, you have to go past all your trauma to get past it, so it makes sense.

It’s a big—it’s used a lot in digestive like ulcers, heartburn. Really calming to the stomach. You know how chamomile excites the stomach. It actually stimulates it. This one calms it, so I use it for that if somebody just has that kind of tendency to all their stuff is in their stomach. I have notes. I wrote notes. Can you believe this? I’m getting that age.

I love it for its bitter even though it has a sweetness. That’s going to make—anything that’s bitter is going to make the digestive work kick in. It’s really good for hiatal hernias. It’s really good. For the weakness, it’ll heal the tears wherever that tear is, but also it just helps heal the weakness because once you have one and you don’t do anything, it will heal on its own but it has a propensity to be weak. This helps with strengthening that so that’s not true.

The root tea is good for arthritis. We used to use the leaves where… a lot in ceremony were put in the lodges--the fresh leaves. Some because when you step on them or crush them, they smell like tangerine. I’ve even done teas with them. Put them in summer teas. Also, they keep fleas away and little insects like that, so it was a great way to put them in. In the south, you get a lot of fleas. It’s that kind of weather, so it keeps it away. It has this beautiful—I love rolling the leaves for that smell.

Rosalee: I’ve never done that. Now, I can’t wait for mine to grow.

Karyn: It’s kind of this interesting mix of the—you can still taste that kind of earthiness of the root, but there’s this high tangerine smell that comes out that’s just as amazing. It’s relaxing to the throat that’s why singers want to use it. You can powder it for toothaches, just stick it right on. Also, I use this for teething, whereas blue chamomile is good for teething—both of them for pain, but this one adds this thing I call the “St. Bernard syndrome.” You know some babies just drool like St. Bernard when they teeth? This helps with that. It takes that out, but it also helps with the pain of it.

Rosalee: Interesting.

Karyn: Because we forget. It’s lucky that we get amnesia about certain things but imagine your teeth shooting through your gums? When you think about it that way, it’s like, wooh. Like I said, it helps so the voice doesn’t crack. I used to make sprays. I had a lot of professional singers as clients and I’d make a spray and this was always in there that they could use. Especially if they’re traveling, their voices get messed with too much. It opens the senses. I like it for nervous energy, kind of wiry energy. It brings it together. I feel like when the light is fracturing because there’s heat, which is what nervous energy often is, it just really brings things into the shape they’re supposed to be as far energetically. I’ve used it in wasting disorder, with anyone that has it from babies to elders. It works quite well for cramping, like with all the “itises.” Irritable Bowel Syndrome, colitis, diverticulitis, gut stuff. It really helps with cramping in a way like wild yam does. I use it more because wild yam is getting harder and harder. It’s becoming endangered, unfortunately. Also, this one—I do love wild yam when it’s that stabbing, like ugh. And I use this for when it’s just constant cramping. That’s how I differentiate. It works on parasites. I will say this about parasites.

People always want to do herbal treatment and I understand, but they don’t understand that the dosage that you have to use is as toxic as the pharmaceuticals, and often doesn’t get rid of them. I know people who’ve done these toxic doses and then they’re like, “Oh, my gosh. I still have them.” I always tell people that’s who they got their pharmaceuticals dialed in, I’ll tell you that. Then you heal with the herbs what the pharmaceuticals have done.

It sharpens the mind. It cuts through the cobwebs. You know how people—sometimes people thought they have cobwebs in there. It’s a mind sharpener. For people who—I used it for storytellers who have to have that long, long, long stories they have to remember. Even some singers that do have multiverse songs that are medicine songs, so I work it with that. It works well on anorexia. Not bulimia, but anorexia. They’ve used it my whole time. Anorexia has changed. It’s very interesting. What it used to be caused by when I first started out is very different than now. There’s such a social context and societal context to anorexia. Even who is getting it and who has it, that’s really changed. I still use this. It works on hay fever, colds. It has that effect to tone down inflammation, tone down heat.

God, this plant is so—one of my favorite things about it is it purifies the waters. All waters – the waters in your body, the waters outside. Calamus is probably the biggest and greatest water cleanser there is, like in streams when you see it. If you see stands of calamus, that’s going to be clean water because it literally takes up water and runs it through its system and comes out pure. I know there’s a town out here—well, I’m not in California—down in California called Arcata. They do… their whole city system these series of ponds to purify. It’s so cool they’ve done it naturally. The last pond is this huge…basically, calamus.

Rosalee: Really?

Karyn: Yeah.

Rosalee: Wow!

Karyn: I doubt they’re still doing it that way. It’s astounding to watch. I’ll put it in things that I want water to be cleaned. If it’s not going to change the pond then—so that’s one way people knew that there was clean water is if there was calamus there, that water was getting cleaned. It’s also respiratory congestion, but I love it for intestinal sludge. It kind of clears the pipes, gas, when people just really—their system isn’t working well, so it’s always a little funky and kind of fermenty. Some people joke about they have kimchi intestines. It’s always bubbling and fermenty in there. Calamus is great for that.

I think it’s really underused. It’s interesting to me how underused it is. You don’t need a lot--five drops, eight drops. None of these herbs need to be used the way they are. I would say a couple sips of tea, for spirit stuff, a drop. Half a cup of tea is plenty.  We cook it long. We really just cook it up long and simmer it. It was even put in foods a little bit, specially foods that were kind of like—maybe meat that is at the end of its, when you dry up for end of the winter, and it’s maybe getting a little gamey or it already is, you put that in. We would use sassafras, too. It harmonizes all energies of the body, all the different energies that we carry. It’s a great harmonizer.

Rosalee: Do you use it in formulas as a harmonizer too?

Karyn: Yeah, it’s one of them. There’s a couple of ways and that’s definitely one of them. They’re different ones. It is more the director. I tell him where to go. What do you call those dogs? The Border Collie of the plant world in a lot of ways. This is more harmonizing. Really, honestly, if you’ve put together a decent formula, it should be. If you’ve really thought about all the energies and the peoples, there are so many energies to think about when you’re putting together that kind of medicine. I find it enters in the chest and kind of pushes in. You know goes inward? So, I think about if your chest stuff, even there’s like—if you think that’s where some of the trauma is or that’s where it happened, even specifically, if someone got hit in the chest a lot, they need calamus because of that, so I think about it there.

It activates and harmonizes the formula. It’s like bahzing, but so do your prayers and your songs. I do when I’m making formulas. You’re praying for the person asking help and singing. It helps you focus on suppressed stuff. I use it for people that deny things a lot and just don’t want to touch anything. People don’t realize the way energy works. The more you run, the more it chases you. When you push energy like this, it leaves you. That pushes back, so you’re better off looking at the stuff and feeling it--trauma. This helps with people that run away because it lets you feel rooted and grounded in a good way, so I think that that helps with giving them a chance to change, kind of denial stuff. It lets you have full presence because it lets you go down into the shadows and then bring them up toward there’s light. The shadows is where the truth is and the light is where you figure out what to do with that. It helps people be more present, stay out of the path, stay out of the trauma or always trying to jump to the future, which actually just makes anxiety. It’s a really great one. We’re supposed to live in the present and this plant is such a nice one for that, to really help with that.

It’s also helpful in—I think I use it in menopause when there’s really rapid change and you’re just like, “What’s going on?” I may even use it in puberty for that because I feel menopause is just your second puberty. It’s like a second puberty, really, when you think about what’s going on, except for instead of the hormones rising, they’re doing the opposite.

I once had this funny conversation. I was at a table of everybody in menopause, and then there was a 15-year old person there, masculine person. He was like, “So, what is menopause?” I’m like, “Do you really want to know?” He goes, “Yeah, I’m really asking,” so I said, “You know how you feel this, your sex,” and this and this and this. I said, “Well, that’s menopause.” I said, “The only difference is your sex drive kind of can slow down a little bit.” He goes, “Ugh.” I go, “Don’t worry. It comes back. It’s temporary. You’re driven nuts by yours because it’s too much.” He totally looked at his mom like, “I get it.” You know what I mean? I said, “You guys are basically doing the same thing at the same time that’s why you’re crashing into each other.” He was like—because you know, it was so delightful because how many teenagers ask that, especially, “What is it really? Really describe this to me.” It made me think about it.

If you use a lot of calamus, it’s going to make you puke. It’s actually been used ceremonially for that, the final cleanse, the final everything. It’s a low dose plant. I watch it during pregnancy. If you don’t know how to watch that and bleeding disorders because it can thin the blood a little bit. Well, nobody uses MAO inhibitors anymore, really, do they? It’s all something else.

I will say this – gophers love this plant, so if you’re going to not want them introduced, put them in a bathtub. Get one of those old bathtubs and just grow it in there because it loves wet soil. It’s marshy. You see these in marshes and bogs, so you have to build—we had it at the last place I lived. It was really dry, so we built—we dug a huge hole and then put plastic, and then get sands and then made the right soil. We basically made a bog. One half of it was calamus and then we had all these other plants – mansa and boneset and skullcap on the other side with a little bridge going over it. It was quite pretty.

Rosalee: Oh, nice.

Karyn: If you’re crazy enough, you can have anything in your yard.

Rosalee: It’s what I’m working on.

Karyn: This one is such—it’s so pretty. Its flower comes out sideways and it looks like little corns. It looks like a little cob, a corn cob. Most people miss them. It draws. I’ve seen turtles come. If you have an area where there are—definitely the frogs and the toads were always in there, the snakes. They love that kind of environment and it’s protective. This plant grows so dense that it’s really—and the dragonflies came. They love this plant because they can sit up and see--those tall leaves and those thin sword-like things.

I really, really love this plant. There are other things but I don’t want to tell because people will be like—there’s other medicine ways to use it, but it’s such a beautiful plant to get to know also. Its energy is just so…It’s a really sweet plant, but it’s also like…One of the students, they are always wanting to harvest and I said, “You know it’s okay to take one. I asked.” We were out there early. I think it was early spring or fall. I don’t remember because we were doing it—and it was freezing cold water their hands were in. She was telling me that one point, she felt something. She had her hands down in and she felt something grabbed her wrist and was trying to pull her down into the earth because she reeled back. I go, “What’s the matter?” and she was—it has its sense of humor but it also is like, “You want to get to know me? Well, come on down in. Come here to my house.”

Those marshy, boggy areas are so important and draws so many other beings there--the insects. So many come to be around that so you get to really see how it’s used, who uses it, what other energies are there. I think it is a harmonizer because I’ve seen different things there that I wouldn’t normally think you’d be in the same place together. This is a beautiful, beautiful plant.

Rosalee: Karyn, as you were speaking about so many of calamus’ gifts, the idea that came to me was the reason why calamus is coming up so much is because that’s going to be my plant ally for the year. We do that through my 10-month medicine making course. Everyone chooses a plant ally and I like to do it with everybody and I’ve been wondering what mine is going to be for this year. Now, I’m just like-

Karyn: There it is.

Rosalee: That is obviously what plant I’m going to work with this year. You have shared so many things that I’ve never heard of before with calamus. You’ve shared so much that I feel like I could listen to this podcast five more times.

Karyn: It’s an easy one to grow as long as you give it that marsh, make a bog.

Rosalee: I do grow it and I had it in an area where there was a sprinkler that went on frequently, but that system has changed so it got drier. It still survived but I was like, okay this is no longer thriving here. I need to think of a new place. I have this big oak barrel that’s lined in something so it doesn’t…

Karyn: Oh, that’s perfect.

Rosalee: …lose water and it’s right underneath where the rain comes off of the roof. It’s just this marshy, boggy thing that I’ve been kind of like, what do I grow in here? It’s so marshy, boggy.

Karyn: There you go.

Rosalee: Plus, you gave me the idea of maybe I should put some Yerba mansa in there too. It’s not a big space. It’s an oak barrel, so there’s some room in there.

Karyn: Because they go sideways, those roots. The rootlets.

Rosalee: Yeah.

Karyn: You’ll be happy. It’s so pretty. Wait till you smell that. Those leaves, those fresh leaves…

Rosalee: I can’t wait.

Karyn: I usually just take the tips and cut it up and do refreshing teas, summer teas.

Rosalee: Nice. I will definitely try that.

Karyn: Crush it a little bit so its oils would get in a little bit, not a lot. It’s just a really delightful, very powerful plant.

Rosalee: And as you said, somewhat underappreciated or underutilized.

Karyn: Maybe to its benefit because once things get—I call them—they become “stars,” they start to get overharvested. People forget. They think they have the right to just go out and take things. It’s interesting. I’ve never sat down and talked with jim about this plant.

Rosalee: I know he would love that.

Karyn: It makes sense; he’s in Michigan. It has a perfect environment for it and places. It loves that sandy soil. Michigan’s—some of it is so you could—I remember once going like that to a burdock and it just came out. I was shocked. That’s like…that’s not California soil!

Rosalee: Thank you so much for sharing so much about calamus. 

Karyn: I could sit and talk all day about it.

Rosalee: Thank you so much for sharing that. I’m really curious what herbal projects you have going on right now. What’s up in your life right now?

Karyn: Some I’m taking a break. Some, you know, I’m getting to an age where I’m slowing down, honestly. I’m working with—I have a group I’m working with deeply, going away for days and days and days and we’re going to do that four times a year. I teach like, “Hey!” They’re like, “When do you want to teach?” so I just call a day and they’ll put it out and you’ll have whoever can come in. If it’s outside it could be anyone and a lot more. I’m doing some canoe journey stuff, working when the canoes go, when the actual canoe starts the journey, helping with the bus, The Herbal Bus. I’m getting involved in different things. I don’t do the radio so much. Sarah took it over--Sarah Holmes. Every week for 25 years, about 5 years ago, it’s like, “Come on. Now that I get to just do whatever I want,” which is really great. I’m at the point where—I don’t know how I got away with it, but I get to do nothing and then just say, “I want on” and get to get away with it.

Rosalee: I love it.

Karyn: I still do that. I’m happy it’s on because I think it’s super important that people have that kind of information. I would say that. We just moved, so we have a yard that people came and helped us clean the yard, pull ivy out and then set bark down because you have to grow a certain way here. It holds the moisture. Speaking of, there’s a little cement pond here that would make a really nice pond because it’s not leaking. It’s not huge, but we’re about to have babies in our lives and I’m like, ugh. You don’t want a pond right next to where they play. You know what I mean.

Rosalee: But maybe a marsh.

Karyn: It’s about to be a bog. That would make a great bog, so that’s where the calamus is going to go.

Rosalee: Wonderful.

Karyn: That would be perfect for the calamus. Yerba mansa, I don’t think it would be. It’s too wet up here for mansa. It’ll be perfect for the calamus. That’s kind of what I’m doing – just thinking about other things and where I want to go and all that kind of stuff. People have asked for years, “Why don’t you write a book?” It’s so oral tradition to me, so I don’t know.

Rosalee: I’m glad that you’re in Washington state here now, even though we’re quite a distance away from each other. I hope-

Karyn: I know!

Rosalee: We have to meet in person one day soon.

Karyn: Probably five, six hours? Is that how far you are from Tacoma?

Rosalee: Yeah.

Karyn: Which is not—I mean, California is so huge. That’s not a bad drive.

Rosalee: It’s a beautiful drive too.

Karyn: That’s what I heard. Where I’m at, I’m getting to go out. I’m really looking at the lands here, what grows here and being taught by the people who are here. There’s a lot of nations here, a lot of tribes so I’m getting to learn different things about the same plant, and being able, luckily, being honored by being asked to come on some of these harvests. The woods are so different. They’re so different.

Rosalee: I’d love to end with a question I’m asking everybody in Season 7, which is – What is your advice for people who are just starting on their herbal path?

Karyn: Oh, wow. Be humble. I don’t see that in the Western stuff much. Be humble, humble, humble. These are gifts. They are beings and they are sharing those gifts and those medicines. It’s not about you. It’s about them. I see people be like, “Look what I do.” If you took the herbs away from herbalists, you wouldn’t be doing a whole lot. Be clear about who’s doing what. Be humble. Have your heart in it. Don’t make it heady. Really be respectful enough to have a deep relationship with these plants where you give them the time and the respect and tend them and grow them and really listen. I would say that. I would say it’s a lifetime spark. You’ll never know. There’s no end to the knowledge. If you show up, they’ll keep teaching you, so it’s exciting that way. I would do that. I would just—understand they’re your elders, so treat them as such.

I think the humility thing is the key. It’s probably the key to everything, really. Just be excited and don’t—it takes a lot to get to know someone. Don’t worry about what you know. Even if you only know one thing about something, that’s enough. Take your time. I see people doing stuff before, I think, they really have the knowledge. I would just say take the time, like I said. Welcome! It’s exciting. I hope you stay there. You can’t have enough herbalists or herbal people.

Rosalee: Absolutely. I’m excited to take that wisdom you just shared and apply it to my time with calamus because I’m very inspired now to sink deeper with that plant, spend more time with calamus and get to know it because there’s obviously so many gifts there to learn.

Karyn: I think you’re going to love it. I think you’re going to be very happy with that relationship.

Rosalee: Thank you so much for this introduction and for sharing so much wisdom about calamus.

Karyn: Thank you for having me on. Thank you so much.

Rosalee: Absolutely my pleasure.

Karyn: Great.

Rosalee: Thanks for being here. Don’t forget to sign up for my weekly newsletter at the bottom of this page, which is the best way to stay in touch with me. You can also visit Karyn directly at

If you want more herbal episodes to come your way, then one of the best ways to support this podcast is by subscribing on YouTube or your favorite podcast app. 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.

Also, a big round of thanks to the people all over the world who make this podcast happen week to week. Nicole Paull is the Project Manager who oversees the whole operation from guest outreach, to writing show notes, to actually uploading each episode and so many other things I don’t even know. She really holds this whole thing together.

Francesca is our fabulous video and audio editor. She not only makes listening more pleasant. She also adds beauty to the YouTube videos with plant images and video overlays. Tatiana Rusakova is the botanical illustrator who creates gorgeous plant and recipe illustrations for us. I love them. I know that you do too. Kristy edits the recipe cards and then Jenny creates them as well as the thumbnail images for YouTube. Michele is the tech wizard behind the scenes and Karin is our Student Services Coordinator and Customer Support. For those of you who like to read along, Jennifer is who creates the transcripts each week. Xavier, my handsome French husband, is the cameraman and website IT guy.

It takes an herbal village to make it all happen, including you. Thank you so much for your support through your comments, your reviews, your ratings. I read every review that comes in because they’re like a little herbal love letter that brightens my day, like this one:

I have followed Rosalee’s emails for quite a while now. I love the way she delivers the information in an interesting way so you feel engaged in the conversation about whatever herbs she’s speaking about. Her recipes give neophytes a good chance to be successful trying some of these herbs and I have not encountered a bad one yet. I’m thrilled she’s doing this podcast.

Do you love this podcast? If you leave a review for me on Apple podcast, I may be reading your herbal love letter on the show next.

Okay, you’ve lasted to the very end of the show which means you get a gold star and this herbal tidbit:

When Karyn was talking about calamus being a plant that could go deep and then bring energies up to the surface, I was reminded of a story of Sky Woman as told by Robin Wall Kimmerer. In this story, a muskrat, an animal that loves deep calamus root, dives deep down into the waters and brings up a handful of soil, which is then used to make Turtle Island. If you’ve never heard Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer tell the story, then I highly recommend it. You can easily find audio versions of her sharing this, whether it’s on YouTube, on podcast or through the audio version of her book, Braiding Sweetgrass, which is my desert island book and one that I highly recommend. 

Rosalee is an herbalist and author of the bestselling book Alchemy of Herbs: Transform Everyday Ingredients Into Foods & Remedies That Healand 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 2010-2022 by Rosalee de la Forêt
Affiliate Disclaimer