My secret world of plants

ravenhongOn Mondays, I descend down into the basement to disappear into my world of herbs. Once there I spend a couple hours smelling, touching and tasting, to create formulas to help the animals I work with. As I work I can hear the ancient wisdom of the past herbal masters whispering to me and feel the vibrations of these plants, many which were on this planet before us. To me working with these herbs is like cooking, only I am making up a recipe for healing by harnessing the amazing powers of these living things.

fourherbs4One of my clients is a paralyzed dachshund. Making up a formula for him, I call upon four of my favorite herbs to form a blood tonic. The four are all roots – foxglove, peony, Chinese angelica, and lovage – and are earthy and strong. I love to tea these in the winter and sit on my window seat sipping the strong rich tea they make. I can feel how these herbs work to strengthen me from the inside so that I have the energy to heal. This is what I want for this little dog.

Roots are also very grounding because they come from the earth and they help to hold us to the ground so we do not float away with our thoughts. In China this herbs are cooked up with a chicken soup in the winter to help older people with aches and pains.

wormsMost of these dachshunds have closed channels because of traumatic disc injury. I can tonify the blood all I want but it is like trying to send water down a plugged hose. I add a handful of earthworms into this formula, which the Chinese say get into the blood channels and wiggle them open like a roto rooter opening a clogged drain.

After opening and tonifying, I add a few generous pinches of the light and vibrant orange safflowers to move and lift up these heavy grounding roots. These along with peach seed will help to move the blood down this little guy’s back legs so they can work again.


Finally to work with pain, I add corydalis, which is a powerful mover of blood, and painkiller.

Chinese Herbal Medicine is all about how the herbs work together and most formulas have ten or more herbs. It is an art based on the powers that emerge when these herbs joint forces. No one herb is powerful on its own but together these amazing plants can perform miracles.


Many times I will not know what I am going to put in a formula until I am staying in front of my herbs. Then one herb will just leap out and say, “use me!” Sometimes it will be an herb I am not familiar with but when I rush to my materia medica and look it up turns out to be exactly what I need.

Plants have an energy and a power of their own and often my job is to listen more than to think. When I think too much I come up with a generic formula, which may help, but my most powerful formulas come when the herbs lead the way.

By the end of my day, I am usually covered with herb dust and my nose is full of the many smells and flavors of the herbs I have mingled with. Up the stairs I go once again out to the busy world of traffic and electronics…until next week.

This formula is now available through my etsy store Kingdom of Basil

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7 Responses to “My secret world of plants”

  1. kate Says:

    I just want to chime in again and say I love what you are doing here. Your Monday activities with herbs is fascinating. I wish I knew more.

    Recently you gave recommendations for dog foods, and I did my own research which agreed with you. I switched from Iams to Candidae for my 4 year old German shepherd here in upstate NY. (It’s very cold). I was just wondering about something. I had thought the amount dogs eat depends on how much they exercise and how much they digest of what they eat.

    When I switched dog foods, my dog immediately asked for more. In the morning, instead of waiting for me to get up (he sleeps with me) he gets up and goes downstairs and I find him sitting next to his empty food bowl. This is new.

    I should point out that he often eats home made food for weeks at a time, not commercial food, and he seems to love all food, with a preference for fish, especially halibut. (He can’t digest corn.) I use the commercial food as back up. He went from home made to Candidae this time.

    Here’s what I’m surprised about. He seems to need more of Candidae than he needed from Iams. I went from 5 to 6 cups daily, and he acts hungry. He’s not overweight.

    I’ll figure it out and I’m not asking for answers from a distance. Any ideas to think about? I hope that made sense.

    I guess I wonder if there is more than activity and digestion. He’s used to the cold.

    Thanks for the space to think. I’m not worried. I’m curious and love to learn.


  2. Lena Says:

    Thanks for you comments! Here are a couple thoughts. The first is that with lower quality food there is more filler ingredients which take longer to digest but sit in his stomach for longer so he feels full. Good quality protein will also be easier for him to digest and pass through his system faster. What I’m not sure about is why there is such a large difference between your homemade food and the Canidae. It may be that because the Canidae is more processed it passes faster through his system than what you are cooking. You may find if you feed him a large amount of the Canidae that he will start to put on a little extra weight. If that happens you could supplement with rice or canned green beans to make him feel more full. It may also be that he is craving the carbs with the cold weather and the Canidae is lower in carbs. In that case you could also try adding a little cooked rice to his food (maybe with a little chicken broth if that makes it more tasty). For now I wouldn’t worry about having to feed him a little more.

  3. kate Says:

    Thanks so much, Lena. Your ideas fit well with what we’re experiencing. He’s very accustomed to rice cooked in broth (with meat or fish, veggies and fruit). I’ll do a mix of the Canidae and rice for awhile. I suspect the answer is what you suggested — it’s moving through his system faster. I forgot to mention his intestines are making noises now too, which is also new.

    I appreciate your ideas!

  4. kate Says:

    I want to say thanks again. Your thoughts, my dog’s experience, and my experience, all combined, seemed to be right on target. Franz is off Canidae for two days now. I had a couple more signs that things were wrong because he had gas every twenty minutes during the night, when he was sleeping, and spit up the next morning. In the yard, I saw many locations of liquid stools. So since Sunday afternoon he’s just had home made food, mostly rice.

    He seems just fine.

    I plan to use the Canidae as a garnish to the food I cook for him, and try again as a main meal in a few weeks. If it doesn’t work out, I’ll see if the humane society wants the rest of the 35 pound bag!

    I appreciate the chance to think this through!


  5. Lena Says:

    A couple more thoughts.
    Always go slow when switching food because it can be a big change to move to a new food.
    Also not every food is right for every dog or cat. Always start with a small bag or see if you can get some free samples from the store. Some of the good quality foods are too rich or high in protein for some animals and animals can always have a sensitivity or allergy to something in the food.
    Ideally introduce a new food slowly over a week’s time mixing it in with the old food.

  6. kate Says:

    I thought I had done it slowly, but probably not as much as a week. I had not noticed any problem at all until it was mostly the new dog food, Canidae, and not much of the usual home made.

    He’s fine now, regular stools, sleeping as late or getting up as early as I do.

    He was raised on Iams. I got him at 18 months from a guide dog training school on the East coast, which breeds dogs too. He flunked out at 18 months because he was too exuberant — but I think also because they needed some money. (There’s a waiting list for dogs that flunk out, and a fee of $1,000 to $2,000.) The school has a contract with Iams. Since he was on Iams, I kept him on that until I had a chance to learn more.

    When I learned more, I went to home made and used Iams as a back up. After about 25 days of cooking, I want about 5 days off. I also like commercial food for when I travel with my dog. I’m not sure if I’ll give this another try or go back to Iams or try something else.

    Thanks again for all the info. I really appreciate it.


  7. Liz Feuer Says:

    I was sent this site by my moter in law and thought it would be a bunch of anthropromorphic drible like most pet sites offer. Even tho you get deeply in touch with the animals you work with your treatments are based on solid medicin. I have always loved the idea of using nature to heal us but have never considered herbal healing for our pets. Thank you for sharing this information.